Willie Williams, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
I am an unabashed fan of pop music. Not all pop music, but Savage Garden? Absolutely. And aside from my current disdain for the current state of celebrity culture, this is hands-down, make-me-feel-happy music. I’ve not listened to any of Darren Haye‘s solo stuff, but I’ve always thought there was something inherently sexy about him. Maybe it’s his eyes. Or the slight cock of his eyebrow in the video for “I Want You.” Or maybe the way his mouth moves while he’s singing.
Maybe it’s all of the above, or maybe it simply harkens back to an extraordinarily happy time in my life, but this morning I went searching for something else completely, and this is where I landed. I’ve obviously got musician on my mind today, thanks to a storyline I’m sorting out. Does this mean more writing is forthcoming?
If we’re lucky. 🙂
So, enjoy today’s #MusicMonday. Be happy. And revel in the sexy. xo
Award-winning author Debby Grahl lives on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, with her husband David. Besides writing, she enjoys biking, walking on the beach and a glass of wine at sunset. Visually impaired since childhood by Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), she uses screen-reading software to research and write her books. Rue Toulouse, a contemporary romance set in the French Quarter, was just awarded first place in the Top Shelf Fiction/Romance category. His Magic Touch, a paranormal romance, is also set in New Orleans. Her latest book, Mountain Blaze, released November 2, 2020, has received a five-star review from Readers’ Favorite.
Welcome author Evelyn Lederman for this week’s Tell Tale Tuesday!
One of the fun parts of writing in the paranormal/fantasy romance genre is playing ‘what if’.
‘What if’ the serpent who tempted Adam was really a female dragon?
‘What if’ the dragon was turned into a human after boasting she’d won a bet against God.
‘What if’ her progeny were gifted with the ability to shift into dragons and wield magic?
‘What if’ one powerful witch casts an enchantment to save the lives of her daughters?
Thus, the Eden’s Dragon series was born. I also believed setting the story in The Worlds of S.E. Smith’s Magic, New Mexico would be exciting. Susan may have created this world, but she opened it up for other authors to write in it. I’ve published a number of novellas set in Magic, New Mexico.
I write about soul mates/fated mates, a theme I carry throughout my different series. The daughters come to life once a year from their enchanted dragon figurine forms. If within the 24-hour period they find their soul mates, the enchantment ends. Their mother believed that only with their fated mate beside them they can defeat the Brethren.
Within the bloodline, only the females can shift. The male lineage fearing the power the females can wield have sworn an oath to destroy them. Each year, a member of the Brethren goes after each of the enchanted daughters. Only in their human forms can the female descendants of Eden’s Dragon be killed.
Each novella within the series tells the story of one of the sisters, their mate, and how they battle the Brethren. You will be carried away by the romance and chilled by the intrigue.
In the opening scene of ‘Crystal Enchantment’, I had the diligent lion shifter Randall Flando working late on Halloween night. He isn’t interested in going to any parties, even though a jaguar shifter has provided him various signs related to her interest in him.
He’s about to call it a night when a naked woman appears before him. His attraction to her is immediate until she opens her mouth. A strong willed female is the last thing he wants. She laughs in his face when he accuses her of shoplifting. Hint: She’s naked. It’s just the beginning of the battle of wills for this fated pair.
Eden’s Dragon, not a serpent, tempted Adam into biting into the apple. The male offspring of the original female dragon shifter, the Brethren, vowed to rid the world of their seductress sisters. Fearing for the lives of her daughters, a mother casts an enchantment to transform her offspring into dragon figurines. One day each year, the daughters materialize. If in the twenty-four-hour period they find their true mates, the enchantment will end. For only with their powerful mates by their side will the female descendants of Eden’s dragon defeat the Brethren.
At midnight on Halloween in Magic, New Mexico, a crystal dragon figurine once again takes her human form. A lion shifter from a parallel dimension claims her as his own. If they are true mates, the enchantment will end and together they will face the danger that has plagued the women for centuries.
The mayhem of Halloween in Magic, New Mexico, had transitioned from the youthful, costume-wearing trick-or-treaters to adults losing their inhibitions for one night each year. Little did the tourists know the vampires, witches, and other supernatural creatures they partied with were the real deal.
Randall Flando had come from a parallel dimension of shifters and still reveled in Magic’s varied population. He found his new world refreshing with the tolerance and welcoming attitudes of its citizens. The closed-minded ways of his former home’s elders caused many of the younger feline shifters to follow the jaguar alpha Danyal to this realm.
“Why don’t you go out and join the others, Randy?” He cringed at the nickname his alpha’s mate Pati always used when she addressed him. “That outfit Lara is wearing might as well be an invitation into her bed.”
Lara LaRue did not bother to hide her desire to have him. She did not possess a subtle bone in her perfect body. The more Lara came on to him, the more undesirable she became in his eyes.
He looked into Pati Zabare’s green irises—jaguar eyes. “It is not my scene. I figured tonight presented the perfect opportunity to deliver the new cabinet to the shop. The glass doors can be locked to prevent anyone’s sticky fingers from taking any of your more expensive items for sale.”
Instead of continuing to converse with the short blonde, he returned his attention to setting up his latest project. He hoped she would get the message and join her mate at whatever party they would attend. His concentration focused on setting up the hinges for the glass panel just right, allowing it to close perfectly and be locked.
The occasional tourist who attempted to shoplift would be quickly discovered by the supernatural shop workers. With a store full of jaguar shifters, the slightest change in a customer’s rate of breathing or scent would quickly be detected.
“I have just the item.” Pati reached into an open box, pulled out a crystal figurine and placed it on the counter. “Isn’t she beautiful?”
He focused on the six-inch crystal dragon. Describing it as beautiful did not do the piece of art justice. The little light illuminating the room shimmered off the dragon’s wings. A master must have sculpted the piece because it looked poised to take flight any minute.
He took the object and held it in his large hands. “She is warm. I would have thought the crystal would be chilled by your tendency to lower the air-conditioning below anyone’s comfort level.”
Pati shrugged, discounting his usual complaint. “With all the overheated male jaguar shifters who work here, I had to do something to protect our female customers.”
His alpha’s mate always tried to get a rise out of him. Tonight, the focus of his concentration had been on his latest work and now on the figurine. Pati would have to find another way to amuse herself.
Randall ran his finger down the dragon’s scales. How had the artist managed to sculpt the gradation of the wings? He could feel the texture of each individual scale.
“How much are you selling her for?” he asked. Until this point, he had not used his employee discount for anything frivolous.
Nothing in this world or the one he had left had ever excited him as this little figurine did. Carpentry was his one passion, but he gave away or sold all his works. His apartment stood bare, free of anything that defined him.
For whatever reason, the figurine spoke to him. He felt an overwhelming need to possess the object.
Pati’s probing eyes examined him. It felt as if she searched for secrets he kept protected within his soul.
“She’s yours,” Pati said. “It’s nice to see you passionate about something. If you went out more, you’d make friends. Maybe you should give Lara a chance.”
Pati tried to fix something that was not broken. He lived his life the way he wanted, not by someone else’s design. If and when he found the right woman, he would know. His life would change forever once he joined with his mate.
Forcing relationships to fit particular parameters would be senseless. It would never morph into true happiness. Goodness knows, his father’s efforts never satisfied his mother. They had not been true mates.
“Thank you, Patience.” He always used his alpha mate’s full name when addressing her. Since no one else called him Randy, he felt it only appropriate he use the more formal name no other pride member used. In his mind, she was Pati, his little sister. “You should join Danyal. I will finish installing the second glass door and then call it a night.”
Randall sighed with relief after she left. He wanted the piece to be perfect. Pati put so much energy into determining what to purchase for future sales. His use of beveled glass would magnify the objects within to perfection.
He wanted to please Danyal and Pati. They had taken him in and gave him the freedom to follow his love of carpentry. He maintained a position on the outskirts of the pride. His physical strength negated him playing the role of an omega. Danyal pushed him to take a leadership role, grooming him to one day replace him. But it did not feel right. He never considered himself a future alpha. He was the only lion in a pride of jaguars.
As usual, he became obsessed with his work. He transitioned into a zone where nothing else existed but the materials, his tools, and his hands. It could be hours before anything breached his consciousness. During these times, he experienced contentment.
A change in the density of the air disturbed his concentration. Only a supernatural being would have noticed the difference.
He turned to see a naked woman standing to his left. Her copper tresses covered her breasts, but he knew they were plump and substantial. He licked his lips, eager to taste them.
His gaze traveled upward. Her lips were full, awaiting his kiss. Lion shifters had fair complexions. This woman possessed a light olive skin tone. To his surprise, her eyes were amber, similar to his own.
“Stop gaping and get me something to wear,” she commanded.
Whatever spell he had been under dissolved with her terse delivery. At that moment, she reminded him of his mother. The would-be-female alpha had never been satisfied with her station in life, let alone her husband or their children.
Randall did not know a lot, but he knew this woman meant trouble. All sorts of trouble. While his mind wrestled with the impact she already had on him, his body warmed at her proximity.
When Evelyn Lederman retired from her career as an insurance executive, she cheerfully anticipated the freedom to finally spend as much time reading as she’d always wanted. The twist in her story came when as-yet unwritten characters started cropping up in her thoughts, asking her to tell their stories. Thus, The Worlds Apart series was born. Now, she spends her days in Florida on the beach…with her laptop.
Evelyn is the author of the fantasy romance The Worlds Apart series, paranormal romance Nightshade Saga, The Laurent Blood Legacy, The Shifters of Eclipse series and science fiction romance The Outer Worlds Passion trilogy. She initially explored the science fiction genre in the Young Adult Zaratan Trilogy. Evelyn also writes in The Worlds of S.E. Smith’s Magic, New Mexico.
She loves writing escapism, taking her readers to worlds they couldn’t travel to otherwise.
CC BY-SA 4.0 File:Al Jourgensen et Ministry – Hellfest juin 2017 credit photo Benjamin Guillet.jpg Created: 21 December 2020
So, there is absolutely zero story behind this song – I just remember dancing to it at Respectable Street Cafe in West Palm Beach many moons ago. Life was amazingly simple and fun as much as it was drama-filled, as life tends to be when you’re young and haven’t gotten buried beneath adulthood yet.
I also hadn’t realized PTP was a side project for Al Jourgensen (Ministry). You learn something new every day. 🙂
Historically, I’ve not been a fan of Van Gogh. My dad loves him, though, so I’ve been exposed to his paintings and they’ve since grown on me.
There’s no particular reason for my dislike, except, maybe, that when we went to Amsterdam when I was fourteenish, I got dragged us to the Van Gogh Museum (where my dad wanted to go) rather than the Anne Frank House (where I wanted to go). I was a drama queen of a teenager, and so that might have been more than enough to hold something of a grudge. 🙂
Anyway, here are a few interesting things that have popped up in the news recently…
Welcome author Helen C. Johannes for this week’s Tell Tale Tuesday!
Don’t you love it when entirely disparate bits come together and spin themselves into a whole book?
This scene from my fantasy romance BLOODSTONE began as a scene for a graduate class in creative writing. I don’t remember the exact prompt, maybe someone doing something in nature, but I called on an experience my father had recently related.
In midlife, my father was recruited to join a 2-week expedition to Alaska to work a gold claim. Being a midwestern high school geography teacher and retired military officer, roughing it to pan for gold was catnip to him. Over the years he made several return trips to the Alaskan bush. His tales of working the dredge and panning the residue to find garnets and gold flakes, accompanied by a slide show and tiny sample vials, were the topic of many family get-togethers.
Ah-ha, I thought. I can write about that. But I didn’t want to deal with the dredge; I wanted something more historical, solitary, and focused on the act of panning. A scene with a man panning isn’t much of a scene without some sense of conflict and resolution, so I added a mountain lion. Ah, danger! Then I drew on my own experiences in the mountains of Colorado and Montana (I hadn’t yet been to Alaska.) and created the setting. Done. Handed it in, plus other work, and aced the class.
Then…I couldn’t stop thinking about that scene, that man and lion, that idea of gem-hunting. In a wilderness. A strange and unfriendly wilderness, filled with danger. And magic. And a gem that wasn’t merely a gem. A man, haunted by a memory, in search of redemption. And thus, BLOODSTONE was born.
What if looking at the face of the man you loved meant death?
Years ago, warrior Durren Drakkonwehr was cursed by a mage. Now feared and reviled as the Shadow Man, he keeps to himself, only going to town to trade rare bloodstones—petrified dragon’s blood—for supplies. Though he hides his face, he can’t hide his heart from the woman who haunts his dreams…
Needing bloodstones for a jewelry commission, Mirianna and her father journey across the dreaded Wehrland where the beast-men roam. When their party is attacked, only the Shadow Man can save them. Strangely drawn to him, Mirianna offers herself in return for her father’s rescue.
Living in the ruined fortress with the Shadow Man, Mirianna slowly realizes that a flesh-and-blood man—not a fiend—hides there in hoods and darkness. But are love and courage enough to lift the curse and restore the man?
The stone glinted, a red-black clot amid the usual sand-and-pebble slurry in the panning dish. The man peering at it through the eyeholes of his face-covering sucked in a breath.
At least fifty-five grains, said the Voice in his head. Enough to be quit of this place.
Only if it proves true. He closed his eyes, mastering his breathing, until his hands steadied and his concentration focused. Then, with deliberate care, he tilted the dish. Water dribbled out, leaving only quartz chips, flecked granite, and sand particles clustered around the thumbnail-size stone.
With a gloved fingertip, he nudged the stone from its sandy nest and rolled it into the center of the dish. Perfectly oval. He blew out a breath, fluttering his face covering. Color and shape—good. There was but one more test. His gut knew the stone was true, but his gut had fallen for an illusion before, and he had to be sure.
Pinching the stone between thumb and forefinger, the man picked it up. Blood hummed in his ears, but his hands were steady as he set the dish aside on a flat rock. He placed the stone in the center of his gloved palm and pushed out of his mind all thoughts of what a find like this could mean. This was the Wehrland after all; nothing was ever as it seemed. With another breath, he stretched out his arm and opened his hand and its contents to the sun.
When only the black glove warmed, his muscles tensed. This is taking far too long. It’s not—
The stone flared into translucence, transforming his palm into a pool of deep, glossy red. “Bloodstone,” he breathed.
“Let Ulerroth find the flaw in this,” he announced to the gray horse grazing on the opposite bank. The animal’s ears flicked, but it did not raise its head.
Before he could close his fingers, could tuck the stone safely away, spears of scarlet light burst from the bloodstone, slashing red across the solid black of his tunic and sleeves. Without thinking, he stared at it. Into it. And the world shifted, wrenched itself inside out, and went dark…
He saw himself crouched, as always, in a rock-hewn tunnel lit by a distant torch while smoke oozed from crevices around a massive oaken door. Tendrils spiraled upward, feeding a thick yellow haze overhead. He coughed. Sweat dripped from his hair, stinging his eyes. The sound of rushing footsteps brought him swiveling to his feet, shield up, heart pounding. His fingers gripped the hilt of the ancient double-edged Sword of Drakkonwehr, where the large bloodstone embedded in the intersection of hand guard, blade, and hilt glowed softly, a dark, deep red…
In the meadow, in the late afternoon sun and fresh mountain air, the man snapped shut his fist, sealing the stone inside, quenching its fire, stopping the nightmare before it began. Again. If only he’d moved faster to secure the gem.
He inhaled a cleansing breath, clearing lightheaded specks from his vision, before he focused his thoughts on the stone, hot in his gloved palm. “Some fool will pay a pretty price to dangle this between his whore’s breasts.” His fingers tightened at the image, but he forced them to relax. He would trade with Ulerroth, as usual. Nothing else.
I’m beyond such needs. He stared at the trampled moss between his boots. I have to be…by now.
Your dream woman would disagree, said the Voice in his head. Or don’t you remember her in the daylight?
He did, all too vividly. She was not the form of woman that usually filled his dreams when this body—this cloaked and hooded shell—grew hungry, but one particular woman whose face had begun taking form a scant two months ago—as soon as he entered the Wehrland. That his mind had conjured a complete stranger disturbed him as much as the vision itself.
All the more reason to leave as soon as possible, said the Voice in his head.
On the bank above, his horse shook its bridle and huffed.
“Steady, Ghost.” Rising from his crouch, he followed the animal’s pricked-ear gaze. At the edge of the upland clearing, a stone’s throw away, a large, yellow-gray shape slipped through mottled shadows. “It’s only that she-lion again.”
He dropped the gem into a pouch at his waist. Climbing to the top of the bank, he watched faint movements of foliage as a Wehrland lion traversed part way around the clearing’s edge. When it reached a spot upstream of the man, it paused in a pool of sunlight and stood, black-tipped tail twitching, and rubbed its cheek against a sapling.
The man snorted. “Don’t think you’re fooling me, she-cat. I’ve been watching your every move, too.” Two mornings ago he’d first noticed the huge feline lying on a sun-drenched outcrop overlooking the stream he was panning. It had done nothing then, nothing but watch him collect garnets, gold dust, and jet. He’d seen it in the afternoon, too, a flash of yellow-gray glimpsed between bushes. And at night, the scream and the sudden flare of cat’s eyes—too close—while Ghost plunged at the end of his tether. He’d brought the horse nearer and slept with his knife beside his hand. Today, the animal had followed him here.
Being stalked irritated him. Almost as much as traveling this far into the Wehrland for a handful of gems.
“Go fill your belly elsewhere,” the man said, stooping for a rock to throw.
The big cat dropped into a crouch. Flattening its ears, it stared.
The man froze in mid-reach. His mind told him something else had startled the lion. His senses, reporting over the sudden roar of his blood, told him the animal’s gaze was fixed on something beyond him. Under his hood and face-covering, the back of his neck prickled and he listened.
Bees still hummed in the clover near his boots, but the meadowlarks had ceased their calling. His hand moved stealthily toward the knife at his belt.
At the scrape of gravel, he spun. The Krad was on him in a split second, a dark blur of matted fur. The man had only enough time to dodge the down-swing of the creature’s flint blade, to pivot sideways and thrust his own knife upwards. His knuckles hit ribs, and he jerked the weapon back. The beast-man crashed into the panning dish, flipping it into the stream. A few stones followed the dish down the bank to the water’s edge.
The man whirled, but the mountain meadow behind him was empty of anything more threatening than a quail flushed from a blackberry bush. He spun back to the creature lying in a heap on the stream bank. Its mouth was open and spittle clung to the furred chin. Under heavy brows, deep-set black eyes stared at nothing. The flint knife had broken, but the man still kicked the pieces away from fingers caked with dirt. One scratch, one nick from even a fragment of the poison-smeared blade was enough to kill, and even though the creature looked dead—
The stench hit him full in the face. “Filthy, stinking Krad!” Leaping to the stream, he plunged his gloved hand and knife into it and scrubbed away every trace of the beast-man’s blood. He had been lucky. This was the first Krad he’d encountered since entering the Wehrland, and this one was alone. Grabbing his panning dish and gear, he mounted his horse. Where there was one Krad, there was sure to be a pack.
Helen C. Johannes writes award-winning fantasy romance inspired by the fairy tales she grew up reading and the amazing historical places she’s visited in England, Ireland, Scotland and Germany. She writes tales of adventure and romance in fully realized worlds sprung from pure imagination and a lifelong interest in history, culture, and literature. Warriors on horseback, women who refuse to sit idly at home, and passion that cannot be denied or outrun—that’s what readers will find in her books.
I learned something new on this #MusicMonday – There is more than one version of Money (That’s What I Want). I don’t know why I’m surprised, but there you have it.
Before I get to that, though, 4 of my books are on sale at Smashwords, if you’re interested in picking them up: Anatomy of an Excuse, Using Images to Create Basic Storylines, Fractured: essays on love, friendship, and the nightmares in between, and Weeping Ash.
Anatomy, Images, and Fractured are 25% off their regular price, while Weeping Ash is free. The sale lasts until March 13th. Click on over
Now… back to the regularly scheduled program. Which version do you like best? I can’t decide…