Monday, February 29, 2016

Here Be News

Posted by: Eleri Stone

New Releases

Sonya Clark has reissued RED HOUSE, the second book in her Roxie Mathis urban fantasy series.



There’s high water everywhere and she’s about to drown on dry land.

Roxie Mathis lost her home and her livelihood to a devastating flood. The trauma of almost drowning has left both her life and her magical abilities in disarray. The return of sexy sorcerer Blake Harvill has her even more confused.

Hired to evict ghosts from a bed and breakfast, Roxie’s confidence takes another hit when she encounters a violent spirit she’s crossed paths with in the past. When innocent people are trapped in the house, Roxie’s going to have to tap reservoirs of power she’s never touched before. In magic, like physics, everything has an equal and opposite reaction, and Roxie can only hope her desperate spellwork won’t kill her – or conjure up something even more dangerous.


Read the first chapter here. Red House is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, and Kobo.


Sales

Samhain Publishing is taking 40% off all ebooks Monday, Feb. 29! You can find books by Here Be Magic authors, including Shona Husk, Sheryl Nantus, Jane Kindred, Joely Sue Burkhart, Jody Wallace, Marie Harte, Loribelle Hunt, and P.G. Forte. Visit the website to find great books HERE.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

No Ancient Egypt I Recognize

Posted by: Veronica Scott
"Abandon all thoughts of ancient Egypt, ye who enter this movie theater." That refrain kept running through  my mind yesterday as I sat and watched the ridiculous, 1950's type B movie with 1990's videogame-style CGI, laughably entitled "Gods of Egypt."

I had really debated whether to go see this or not. I knew it was going to be bad from the previews and the controversy over the insensitive casting choices. I didn't want to support it with my ticket money but I finally decided that since I write romantic fantasies set in ancient Egypt myself, and since Carina Press branded my series as "Gods of Egypt" in 2012, I probably should see it.

There were only five of us brave souls in the giant theater.

First, the casting. Maybe in the 1950's the studios could get away with every person in the ancient World being portrayed by a European but as I watched Gerard Butler the Scot play the god Set and  blond haired (!) Emma Booth of Australia play the goddess Nephthys, along with a host of other equally inappropriate choices -  I don't know which was worse -  Geoffrey Rush as Ra or Bryan Brown as Osiris -  it was jarring. Chadwick Boseman as the god Thoth was amusing and appropriately cast but he was the one nod to casting that made historical sense, you know? Oh wait, there were other Black actors and actresses scattered throughout the scenes, even a few in minor speaking roles but trust me, it didn't help. I'm not criticizing the quality of the acting. I think the actors turned in workmanlike performances  with the dialog they had and the green screen they probably performed in front of. (Did Butler have to bellow every line in "300" style though?) But hello - why not Idris Elba? In ANY of the major roles - the man is a force of nature. He could slay the role of Egyptian diety. Lupita Nyong'o? GuGu Mbatha-Raw (I loved her in "Belle" and "Beyond the Lights"). Queen Latifah? Gabrielle Union? Don Cheadle? Michael B. Jordan? Yasmine al-Massri would embody an Egyptian goddess (or the main human love interest in this flick) with power...ok, I won't belabor the issue but suffice it to say, all the Australian and European choices didn't help the movie's case.

Moving beyond that, ancient Egypt was really nowhere to be found here, except for a few names tossed in, some seriously mangled bits of mythology and a vague influence on set design. Oh and giant scarab beetles.  Pyramids on the horizon every now and then.

I had the feeling someone once read a kids' version of Egyptian mythology, said, "Hey this is just like the Greek myths" and took off to write a clueless movie.

There were several very cool sequences. Ra's sunboat sailing the skies was a fascinating take on the myth. (Not Ra himself, just the boat.) And the whole chase scene with the two giant cobralike creatures was nifty. I also liked parts of Bek the Human Hero's trip through the pyramid to retrieve one of Horus's eyes. (But it was very oldstyle videogamelike.)

The terribly incorrect and inauthentic and just plain BAD sequences around the ancient Egyptian concept of the Underworld and the Afterlife had me talking back to the screen. As did the goddess Hathor, who happens to be one of my favorites in the Egyptian pantheon normally. I'm just glad the filmmakers left Sobek the Crocodile God out of this mess altogether. (He's the hero in my novel Priestess of the Nile. And no in my story, he doesn't have gold blood or turn into a weird metal-looking thing to do battle or any of ALL the strangeness in this movie.)

Let's talk the human hero. He and his girlfriend seemed like they wandered in from a sweet Young Adult novel. Zero chemistry, chaste kisses, kind of happy go lucky no matter what awful things happened. Lame wisecracks galore. She was supposed to be a big believer in the gods. If so, she was the only one. I don't think the gods believed in themselves here.

Apparently all ancient Egyptians were liberally bespangled in sequins by the way.

My ultimate verdict? This is a mess of a movie, badly plotted, not well conceived, and the moments worth watching were few and far between. This trailer has a few glimpses of the moments I did like, along with a lot of the bad...

Friday, February 26, 2016

Writing a Paranormal Thriller

Posted by: Jenny Schwartz
When paranormal romance is mentioned I often get a sense that people focus on the "romance" element, particularly people who don't read in the genre. They overlook the incredible world building of the best paranormal romance -- think of Patricia Briggs's wolves. The everyday world is reinterpreted with an edge! They also overlook the suspense or thriller aspect of the plot. A lot of paranormal romance novels are about saving the day, unmasking a villain, good conquering evil. That's right, they're thrillers in an unreal world.

Writing The Collegium series has opened my eyes to how strong the suspense plot is in successful paranormal romance. As readers, we want to be avidly turning pages, desperate to know not just if the impossible romance gets its HEA, but how on earth the day will be saved. The thriller and the romance have to hurtle through a re-imagined world to create an unforgettable experience.

My third Collegium novel is out tomorrow. In writing Dragon Knight, I just kept upping the stakes. Desperate dreams, lurking evil, passionate lust, combustible characters (not literally...Morag isn't that kind of dragon!) and more, more, more! The result is something more than magic. 

It is astonishing how flexible the paranormal romance genre is. For a few years we've been hearing that it's dying or dead. Well, I don't think it's a zombie, lurching onto my kindle. It's a genre busy knocking over walls and rearranging space. It's renovating! Something new is just out there. Something amazing. And I think that amazing thing will be an embrace of the thriller aspect. High stakes and epic love stories. I can't wait!


Dragon knight Gina Sidhe serves Earth’s only resident dragon, and she’s been issued with a quest. She must return with Lewis Bennett, President of The Collegium (the world’s magical order of peacekeepers), so that he may learn the Deeper Path of Magic from the dragon. A path that has been denied to Gina, and one she desperately wants. 

But Lewis isn’t interested. He knows his magic has gone, burned out amid a terrible tragedy. Which makes his current task all the harder. He must restructure and repurpose The Collegium in the wake of a shocking and sly demon attack. He doesn’t have time for Gina’s quest, until she offers him the one thing he can’t have: a hidden route out of his Collegium life. 

Because Lewis has his own quest, one secret and lethal, to save the world from a threat no one else believes in. 

Dragon Knight is 99c or free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Are female superheroes finally getting their due?

Posted by: Angela Campbell

A reader who recently discovered my books has posted several reviews noting that she’ll now read anything I write because I write strong heroines who aren’t stupid. That’s great feedback to hear and also highlights the fact strong women in fiction are a trend that is still growing, not weaning.

That is probably highlighted best these days by the emergence of female superheroes in film and TV, and not just as secondary characters to male superheroes or in a team ensemble.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a total geek for superheroes. Superman has always been my favorite for reasons I won’t get into here (but you can read more about that on my personal blog if you wish). Growing up with three older brothers, I was only exposed to comic books with male superheroes unless my brother Steven happened to have a book featuring the Trinity of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. 

When I was a little girl, “Wonder Woman” was on TV in the form of Linda Carter, so in my little girl world, Wonder Woman was everything. I totally dug the idea a woman could kick a man’s hiney same as Superman or Batman. I loved Wonder Woman even more because I was gangly and tall, and Wonder Woman was tall, too. 

That's right. Wonder Woman is my spirit animal. 

For a while I even liked the godawful movie “Supergirl” with Helen Slater until I got old enough to understand it was utter garbage — not Supergirl herself, just the atrocious script that got turned into a movie.

It wasn’t until I got older and superhero movies became all the rage in the early 90s that I realized there were plenty of other female superheroes out there. After the first X-Men movie, I discovered the comics and became all about Rogue for a while. I loved the WB TV show “Birds of Prey,” which featured the Huntress, Black Canary, and Oracle as a trio of female crime-fighting heroes, but it was prematurely canceled back in the 90s. They made a movie about "Elektra" but it flopped at the box office. Let's not even talk about "Catwoman" starring Halle Berry. Female superheroes in TV and film were finding some ground, but they couldn't quite keep their grasp. I'm convinced this is because they were handled by male executives who didn't understand the characters or their fans.

Flash forward to now, and I’m feeling all kinds of giddy because of two female superheroes in particular — Jessica Jones and Supergirl. That's right. Someone hold the presses because there are not one but two female superhero-led TV shows on TV now. Not only that, but I like them and, gasp, their ratings have been good!

First, let’s look at “Jessica Jones.” I had no idea who she was before I watched the Netflix show, but it’s a great show with some outstanding writing behind it. Jessica is more of an anti-hero than a traditional superhero, and that’s incredible in and of itself. As much as I like strong heroines, personally, I do question the ones who don’t have many flaws because, hello, reality. Jessica Jones tackles so many female-relevant topics in a refreshingly honest way, I’m convinced it deserves an Emmy or something. I love her relationship with her best friend, Trish Walker. If you haven’t binge-watched it yet, do yourself a favor and go watch the first episode right now.

Second, “Supergirl.” Whereas Jessica Jones is dark, Kara Zor El is light. For the record, yes, I think it's fine to like them both (I lean toward DC, but I like Marvel, too!). 

I really, really wanted to love "Supergirl" as soon as I heard it was coming. I enjoyed the pilot, but something about this one has felt off to me. Some episodes are great. Some are meh. That said, it has gotten better and I now absolutely adore it. I really like the fact Kara is also flawed, but in an awkward, trying-to-fit-in kind of way. This show also belly-punches you every week with a feminist statement, usually delivered by Cat Grant verbally and through its three strong female leads and their relationships with one another. Plus, can I say how much I love the relationship between Kara and her adopted sister, Alex, who is human but still a strong character in her own right?

Now, “Wonder Woman” is finally getting her own movie, but first she’ll appear in “Batman v. Superman” out in March. To be honest, I dislike the director of “Man of Steel” so much I really don’t have high hopes for that one, but I remain cautiously optimistic and will be at the first showing anyway. I hope they don’t screw up Wonder Woman because she, out of all the superheroes, really deserves some fair treatment. Plus, her solo movie is being directed by a female director and will hopefully do her justice. Fingers crossed.

Have you watched "Supergirl" or "Jessica Jones"? Do you plan to see "Batman v. Superman"? Let me know who your favorite female superhero is.

***
Angela Campbell is the author of the psychic detectives series from Harper Impulse. Learn more about her and her books at www.AngelaCampbellOnline.com

Another Romantic Moment

Posted by: PG Forte
Since we're still in February, I've been reading through my books trying to find a really romantic moment to share. I kept coming back to this scene that I haven't shared very often mostly because it's towards the very end of the last book in a fairly long series. And, well, spoilers.

The reason I'm sharing it--besides the fact that it's romantic (and a little bit cheesy)--is because of why I wrote it when I did. The book right before this one was Very Dark. There was a character in it, a teenager named Cara, to whom a lot of bad things happened. She was never supposed to be a heroine. She was a minor character, fairly two dimensional for most of the series. She was an unhappy bad girl who generally went around causing trouble for everyone else. In fact, I thought I'd written her out of the series before The Very Dark Book even started.

Then I had one of those situations where your characters take control and begin to do and say unexpected things. My villain showed up early--toward the end of the previous book, which had not been planned--and decided to abduct her.

I knew going into The Very Dark Book that eventually Cara would be rescued and that she'd end up falling in love with Liam, the undercover cop who'd infiltrated the cult where she was being kept...

See what I mean about those spoilers yet?

However, I also knew it would be awhile before the two of them got their Happily Ever After--another whole book, in fact--and they'd both have to deal with a lot of unhappiness along the way. So I wrote this scene first, even before I got into any of the other stuff, so that I would have something to work towards. It was the only way I could write my way through the rest of the book.

What I wanted was something soft and sweet and in keeping with the fact that Cara's only eighteen when the series ends (Liam's five years older) and despite everything she's been through she's still somehow managed to keep some shred of innocence to her. Whenever I'd get through writing one of the really grim scenes in The Very Dark Book, I'd pull this scene out and re-read it. It always made me smile. At times, I think, it was the only thing that kept me writing.

 Since I'm going all in on the spoilers, I might as well explain what's happening at the start of the scene. Cara, who has a long history of getting into trouble, and no great love for the police, had been forced to attend traffic school and Liam (who'd been demoted following events in The Very Dark Book) was assigned to be her instructor--a situation which didn't really suit either of them very well. One of the many factors that had been keeping them apart up until now has been Liam's mistaken belief that Cara is back with her ex-boyfriend Seth--who is a really good guy, and the person who actually saved her when the psychotic cult leader tried to kill her.

As a result of other events in The Very Dark Book, Cara is scarred and unable to bear being touched; and Liam (who's only just found out about the touch thing) feels guilty about that, about not being the one who saved her, and about pretty much everything else. Enjoy.



Liam had put Cara’s paper on the bottom of the stack.  So that he’d grade it last.  So that, when everyone else had gone, he could still spend a precious couple of minutes alone with her.  It was selfish, he knew, but he was determined to milk this opportunity for all it was worth.  

“So?  C’mon, how’d I do?” she asked, standing beside his desk, shifting nervously from one foot to the other.  “Tell me.”

Finally, unable to draw out the moment any longer, he put his pencil down and handed her the paper.  “Congratulations.  An almost perfect score.”

“Really?   Omigod, are you kidding me?”

“Nope.  I knew you could do it.”  He watched as she studied her score.  Her eyes grew wide.  A smile lit up her face.  Her hands clutched the paper like they’d once clutched him.  Once, but not now.  Maybe not ever again.

He sighed as he remembered all the times he’d been forced to keep his distance, to push her away.  Because of her age.  Because of the danger they were both in.   Because it was expected of him.  Where was the reward for all his self restraint?  Where was the pay off for having done what was right?

Her smile gone, Cara raised her eyes to his face.  “So, I guess...I mean...is this it then?”

“This is it.”  He wished that it wasn’t, though.  He wished he could just–  “So, tell me something, how’re things with you and Seth?  Does he treat you all right?”  He just needed to hear her say it.  Her happiness was what mattered, after all.  And, if she said she was happy, then fine.  Great.  He’d be happy, too.  And, somehow, he’d find the strength to let her go.

A tiny frown creased her forehead.  “Seth?  Yeah, I guess.  He made me dinner last night, because of my head and all.”

Liam nodded.  “Good.  Glad to hear it.”  Well, he’d asked for it, hadn’t he?  And now was a fine time to realize that he’d been lying to himself.  “But, you know, if he ever doesn’t, you be sure and let me know about it, okay?”

“And, what then?” she asked looking angry and perplexed.  “Are you gonna arrest him because, maybe sometimes, he gets in a bad mood and says stuff he feels bad about later?  Gimme a break, Liam, that’s just stupid.”

“A bad mood?”  Gee, where have I heard that before?  Oh, yeah.  It’s the same excuse she used to make for Gregg.  He scowled at her.  “Jesus, Cara, I don’t understand you.  Why would you put up with shit like that?”    

“What shit is that?  You’re the one who’s getting all worked up about stuff.  I don’t have a problem with Seth.”  

“Well, that’s the problem, isn’t it?  You’re always settling for so little.  You deserve someone who’s going to treat you...well, like you deserve to be treated.”

* * * * *

Cara sighed.  “Look, maybe you’re right about that.  But I still don’t know why you’re picking on Seth.  He and I don’t owe each other anything, you know.  We’ve both fucked up, we’ve both made our peace with what we’ve done to each other.  I’m over it now.  We both are.  We’re just…friends, that’s all.

Liam’s mouth dropped open.  “Friends?”  

The look on his face made Cara want to squirm.  “Stop looking at me like that.”  

“You’re not dating him?”  Liam asked, ignoring her request, continuing to stare.  Figures.

“Dating who?  Seth?”  

“Or anyone,” he snapped.  “Are you seeing anyone at all?”

Cara sighed.  Oh, good.  Another great topic.  First Seth and now dating.  What was next?  Maybe they could talk about Chenoa and how great she was.

“Liam, get a clue.  How could I be dating anyone?  Most guys have a funny habit of wanting to touch the girls they’re dating.  You know, to hold hands, to kiss, something?  Right now, I don’t even like to be looked at too hard. So, no.  I’m not.  Okay?”

There was a moment’s silence.  She could feel his surprise.  “Cara,” he said, softly, and, at the note of something dismayed in his voice, she felt herself cringe.    

Oh, no, not that.  No pity, please.  “Hey, it’s no big deal.  There aren’t that many guys I want to date, anyway.”  Just one, actually.  “And, even if there were, well, what good would it do me?”  Even with only one good eye, she could see well enough when she looked in her mirror.  She knew what she looked like now, and, if it happened that turned some guys off, then good.  She’d had enough of those guys, anyway.  But, she didn’t need anyone feeling sorry for her––especially not Liam.  “Look, I have to go now,” she said, as she turned away.  

“Stop!” he ordered, reaching out a hand to grab her.

She jumped, jerking away from his touch, choking back a scream, all her nerves going crazy as memories––of pain and pain and more pain––flooded her system.  

“Sorry,” he mumbled, looking away, looking angry and embarrassed as his hand dropped to his side.

Cara struggled to get her breathing back under control.  It took a moment to fight down the panic.  “What is it?” she asked, very quietly, when she at last found her tongue again.    

He said nothing, at first.  And then, “Will you go out with me?”  

She felt her eyes widen.  “What?”

“You know, maybe have dinner?  Or see a movie or something?  Or coffee––do you have time to come have coffee with me right now?”

Hope sprouted in her heart, a tiny little shoot, yearning desperately for sunlight.  She swallowed hard. “Why?”  

Liam’s eyebrows rose.  “Why?”

“Yes why?” she snapped, trembling inside as she waited for his answer.  “It’s a simple enough question, isn’t it?  What is it you want from me?”

He looked perplexed for an instant, then he shrugged.  “Everything.”    

Hope withered away.  Everything?  Wow.  Isn’t that special.  Yeah, she knew what everything meant, although he had to be crazy to think he could get it from her now.  It was the same thing the guys had always wanted from her, wasn’t it?  And there’d been a time when she’d been okay with that, too.  But, not now.  She tossed her head. “Well, you know what, Liam?  It seems to me you had your chance for that last April.  As I recall, you weren’t that interested.”  

Liam sighed.  “I was always interested, Cara.  But, we’ve been over this, haven’t we?   I’m a cop.  I was on a case.  I couldn’t compromise that.  And, besides, you were under age.”  

She nodded.  “Right.  And, now, you’re still a cop and I’m old enough to know better.  So just...forget it.”    

His face grim, he nodded.  “Okay.  You’re right.  I’m sorry.  Bad idea.” Then he turned and walked away, just like he’d always done before.  Like she was just that easy to put from his mind.  He walked over to the window and stood with his back to the room, obviously more interested in whatever was happening in the parking lot, then he was with continuing their conversation.  

Tears stung Cara’s eyes, but she blinked them back.  “So, is this why you wanted me to tell you if Seth wasn’t treating me good?  So that you could treat me like shit, too?”

Frowning, he turned back around to face her.  “You know I’d never do something like that.  It’s just– I guess I was hoping, if you weren’t seeing anyone else that...that you’d at least give me a chance to show you how you should be treated.”

Oh, goody.  More lessons  ‘Cause I didn’t get enough of those from Gregg.  “Really?  And how’s that, Liam?  How should I be treated?”  

He shook his head sadly.  “Cara,” he murmured reproachfully, as he walked back over to where she was standing.    

She crossed her arms over her chest.  She lifted her chin.  She waited.  But he said nothing more.  “Well,” she said, at last, when it appeared he was never actually going to finish the sentence, “that’s a hell of an answer.”

He shrugged again.  “Maybe I don’t know how to answer it.  I only know that I don’t ever want to see you hurt again.”  

He reached out his hand again, slowly, questingly.  Her heart fluttered out of  control, but, this time, she stood her ground, although her breathing stalled and her eyes spasmed shut as he caressed her cheek with gentle fingers.  

“You were right, you know,” she murmured.  “Remember all that stuff you used to tell me?  About how I shouldn’t let people use me, and...and I don’t want that anymore either.  So, if you’re asking me out  just to get laid, or out of pity, or because maybe I’ll learn something from the experience––then forget it.  Because I don’t need that.”  Not from you.  Not from anyone, really, but, oh, definitely not from you.

Liam shook his head.  “You know that’s not why I’m asking.  And, I already told you what I wanted.  I want everything.”  

And, I still have no idea what you mean by that.  Were they still only talking about sex?  Or, could it maybe mean more?  “Yeah?   So, what do I get out of it?”

His mouth curved up in a sad, little smile.  “Me.”  

Another riddle.  “You?”

Liam grimaced.  “I know.  It’s not much of a trade, is it?  Especially since, in reality, you’ve had me since March, Caramel.”

She felt her cheeks flame at his use of the old nickname.  “Oh, bullshit, Liam.  I have not.”  

“Yes, you have.  Here.”  He pointed to his chest.  “Put your hand right there and tell me if you feel my heart beating.”

She did as he asked.  Her own heart was racing, but his was beating pretty hard, too.  She nodded.  “Yes.”

“Well, it’s just ‘cause you’re here that it does that.  I swear to God, when you’re not around my whole chest feels empty.”

She knew he didn’t mean it––not literally, anyway.  But, it was still just about the nicest thing anyone had ever said to her.  It was the kind of thing she used to wish Seth would say, not that he ever would.  Her breath came out on a shaky little sigh.  “Oh.  th-that was really nice.”

He smiled softly.  “So, you never told me.  Did you like your flowers?”

Cara felt herself stiffen.  “F-flowers?   Wh-what flowers?”

“And the balloons?  For your birthday?”

“Th-those were from you?”

He nodded.  “Didn’t Seth tell you?  I had a card too, but then he answered the door and I thought you were with him so–  I sent you some for your graduation, too, you know.  And, then, when you were in the hospital I–”  He broke off.  “Cara?  Sweetie, what’s wrong?”

She was shaking from head to toe, too frightened to hope he was telling the truth.  She’d wanted them to be from him.  She’d hoped they might be.  But, “Oh, please, you’re not making this up are you?  Because it would really, really...hurt...if you were just saying stuff.”

“I’m not,” he answered quickly.  “I swear I’m not.  I swear I mean every word I say.”

 He stared at her for a moment, as though he were trying to make up his mind, trying to decide what to do next. And then he kissed her, leaning across the gap that separated them, touching her with nothing but his lips.  And it was the softest, sweetest kiss she’d ever imagined.  

When she was a little girl she’d dreamed of being kissed like this, then she’d grown up and learned that every kiss was different.  Some were nice and some were not and most were somewhere in between.  She’d been kissed by a lot of different guys, in a lot of different ways.  Even Liam had kissed her before.  But, not like this.   Never like this.  

When it ended he put his hands on her shoulders and eased her close.  He held her gently against his chest––no pressure, no force.  She rubbed her cheek against the front of his shirt and wished she could melt right into him.   It didn’t even matter that it was a uniform shirt, that he was a cop––and she’d always gotten along so well with them––because it was also Liam.  Her Liam.  And, it really didn’t matter what else he was.  

Was it possible that, whatever else she was, whatever she’d done and despite everything that had been done to her, it didn’t matter to him, either?

“I don’t think you have any idea how special you are,” he murmured.  “Do you?”

She shook her head.  “I don’t know.”  Gregg used to say she was special, too.  She winced just a little as she thought of that.  But she knew, without ever needing to ask, that Liam meant something very different.

“Well, I do know.  You’re the most special person in the world to me.”

Which was only everything she’d ever hoped to hear.  “Oh.  Well...you’re pretty special, too.”  

“Only when I’m with you,” he answered, and that was so exactly the right thing to say, she was surprised he even knew to say it.

“So, how about that coffee?” he asked after a minute or two had passed in silence.

Cara nodded.   “I’d like that.”

Liam sighed deeply, as if in relief.  For just a moment he cupped her head in his palm, pressed another kiss against her hair, and murmured, “Thank you.”

She was embarrassed by the tenderness of the gesture, by the humble, heartfelt gratitude in his voice.  After all,  “It’s just a cup of coffee, Liam.  We’ve had them before.”

“No, it’s not.  It’s more than that.  It’s a start.”

“Yeah, I guess it is.”  It was the start of something good, she hoped, the start of something very, very special.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Walking While Writing

Posted by: Joely Sue Burkhart
Since sitting is the new smoking, I decided I had to get UP more in 2016.  I tried setting my phone with an alarm every 20 mins, but it was too easy to forget to set it again. Plus I often have hour-long meetings for the Evil Day Job (I work from home, so I have flexibility in how I set up my workspace), or I'd get involved in something, and look up and it's hours later.

Finally I found a treadmill desk that was in my budget! But....

There are a few adjustments I'm working through.

For one thing, I guess I have really short arms.  The desk itself has a 3-4 inch area in the front for handles and the console -- which puts my keyboard and/or laptop too far away for me.  However, I worked around that issue by using a cushioned lap desk I'd already bought to use my Asus all-in-one in the living room.  It comfortably sits over the console without bothering the settings, and allows me to bring the keyboard closer.  This also helps lift it up just a little bit too.  I maxed out how high the desk will go, but with short arms and all, I'm not getting the 90-degree angle for my hands.  Lifting the keyboard up an inch or so is perfect.

My Evil Day Job laptop is all wired --keyboard, mouse and monitor. I need to work up to walking long distances, so trying to come up with a configuration that doesn't take too long to set up, but allows me to walk a bit and then move to my normal desk has been challenging.  All those stupid cords!!

I don't know why I hadn't invested in a wireless keyboard and mouse for work. A simple fix.

I'm starting out slow, about a mile a day, with the goal of eventually walking several hours at a time.  I'm not very coordinated so I'll either kill myself -- or bust my laptop!  We'll see how it goes.

Are you making any health changes in 2016?

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Cover Reveal

Posted by: Janni Nell
I’m so thrilled to reveal the cover of my new mystery, Dead Monk Walking. (Big thanks to Nicole Luiken and Maggie Lynch for helping me decide on a title.) The cover has been designed by the amazing Frauke from CrocoDesigns


Vacations are a bitch. Or maybe it’s just me.

I’m Natasha Bolde, and honestly I’m no one special. Okay, I’ve solved a few mysteries, but I’ve always worked with my best friend. Clover passed recently, and now I’m taking what should’ve been her trip of a lifetime to Cornwall, Britain. It’s just like Clover to choose a place chock full of mysteries. Why is the amnesiac wife obsessed with digging in the fields? Is the local medium genuine or a clever fake? And who exactly is the ghost hunter hunting?


I’m determined to find the answers even if it kills me.






Dead Monk Walking will be released in mid-spring 2016.

In the meantime you can check out Janni's other books here.


Monday, February 22, 2016

Here Be News

Posted by: Eleri Stone

New Releases

Jeffe Kennedy's Birdwoman is now available in audio! Get it here with audible credits or for purchase. OR, if you're an audiobook reviewer, contact Jeffe for a free download code!

A true story of a paranormal encounter from award-winning fantasy author Jeffe Kennedy

Amazon Free Preview>


Other News

 On Sale for 99 cents! Sale ends soon.

Buy links

There is one True World, and then there are the four mirror worlds: fire, water, air, and stone. And each has a magic of its own… 

In the Fire World, seventeen-year-old Leah is the illegitimate daughter of one of the realm’s most powerful lords. She’s hot-blooded—able to communicate with the tempestuous volcano gods. But she has another gift…the ability to Call her twin “Otherselves” on other worlds.

Holly resides in the Water World—our world. When she’s called by Leah from the Fire World, she nearly drowns. Suddenly the world Holly thought she knew is filled with secrets, magic…and deadly peril.

For a malevolent force seeks to destroy the mirror worlds. And as Leah and Holly are swept up in the tides of chaos and danger, they have only one choice to save the mirror worlds—to shatter every rule they’ve ever known…

 


Sunday, February 21, 2016

Portrait of an Unseelie bard

Posted by: Angela Korra'ti
A friend and reader sent me a link to this story on the newspaper site for the Lexington Herald-Leader, a nice little local color piece about how a bunch of locals gather to make music at a Hardee's restaurant. She thought it'd be relevant to my interests since one of the participants is a gentleman who moonlights as an Elvis impersonator, and she even clipped the picture out of the physical newspaper and sent it to me!

To wit: hurray! A reader thought of me! Thank you, Nancy!

But I do want to talk about what she sent me, because she hand-wrote the question "Elessir?" on the clipping. Since, of course, I have Elessir a'Natharion, Unseelie bard and self-appointed Elvis impersonator, as a major character in Faerie Blood and Bone Walker.

But here's the thing—if you click through to the article, you can find the guy in the carousel of photos. Like pretty much all Elvis impersonators in my experience, he's doing 70's-era Elvis, the Elvis of jumpsuits and scarves.

For the record, Elessir a'Natharion never, ever impersonates 70's-era Elvis.

Part of this comes from my own history as an Elvis fan, and part of it comes from Elessir's in-character experience with Elvis' music.

The part of this that comes from me is that every single time I've seen Elvis impersonators depicted in popular culture, whether on TV or in a movie, it's always played for laughs. And it's always 70's-era Elvis, in full gaudy jumpsuit and scarf glory. The impersonator does up his hair and practices a sneer and drawls "Thank you very much" in as thick a drawl as they possibly can.

I can think of two examples of this off the top of my head—one, an episode in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman back in the 90's, wherein all the cast were inundated with pheromones that lowered their inhibitions. Now, in this version of the Supes storyline, Daily Planet editor Perry White is portrayed as a devout Elvis fan, and I was down with that; I found how he frequently swore "Great Shades of Elvis!" kind of adorable. But in the pheromone episode, what does he do? He slaps on a jumpsuit and a scarf, and tries to imitate Elvis. And it was cringe-inducing for me.

Another example is in Castle, in the episode "Heartbreak Hotel", where Castle and detectives Ryan and Esposito all wind up in Elvis impersonator costumes for plot-related reasons. Not quite as cringe-inducing, but it's still played for comedy.

And none of this is what Elvis actually means to me. None of it touches on Elvis' music.

Now, mind you, I have never actually seen a real live Elvis impersonator perform either. Part of me would be a bit afraid to do so, on the grounds that I'd keep expecting too much emphasis on Elvis-like mannerisms and not enough on actual musical talent.

But there's also the simple matter that I like 50's and 60's era Elvis way more than I do 70's era. The Elvis music I listen to over and over and over again comes from those eras. I'll absolutely break out 70's era stuff every so often—the Aloha Via Satellite concert album is still hugely important to me, as is the live performance of "Let Me Be There" that is one of the earliest Elvis concert tracks my dad ever played for me—but it's the simpler stuff that appeals to me most. The simple 50's-era rock, and the best soundtracks from his movies as well—like King Creole's soundtrack, which crackles from start to finish, and which contains what I consider Elessir's theme song: "Trouble".


Or the sweeter, simpler ballads from movies like Wild in the Country (which I do passingly reference in Faerie Blood), Follow That Dream (which has a lovely little song called "Angel" in it), or Kid Galahad (which has "Home Is Where the Heart Is", which I can actually play on guitar).

And to this day, I have yet to hear of an Elvis impersonator that does young Elvis. Show me one of those, and I might actually consider going to listen to him! (Or her! I do not require my Elvis impersonators to actually be the same gender he was. And if you'd like an idea of how a woman could sound like Elvis, go listen to recordings by his very own daughter. I've heard clips. Lisa Marie sings spookily like her dad.)

All of which swings me back around to Elessir. Something y'all should keep in mind about this boy is, his Elvis affectation, as much as from anything else, is because he likes screwing with the minds of mortals. This boy is Unseelie, after all, and the fey have a long and venerable history of being ready, willing, and able to do exactly that. A big part of him likes to imitate Elvis simply because he knows it screws with humans' heads.

But the part of him he doesn't often show to anybody, the part of him that actually responds to human music in ways the rest of the Unseelie Court looks down on, is drawn to simpler stuff. Elvis singing a simple love ballad with a guitar type stuff. Big, gaudy spectacle like what Elvis did with his concerts in the 70's doesn't impress Elessir. But what will get his attention is the heart and feeling behind a performance—the kind of heart and feeling that made a young Elvis Presley's singing first capture my young ears. The kind of music that in the Unseelie Court, as imagined by me, is a rare and precious gift.

It's the same kind of heart and feeling that has since drawn me to Great Big Sea and Newfoundland music--and much more recently, to Quebecois trad. The kind of powerful joy that comes from being in a session, in a house full of people making music, is exactly what draws Elessir in.

So no, Elessir won't ever put on a jumpsuit or a scarf. He'll be the Elvis impersonator who wears a denim jacket and jeans, with the collar of his shirt turned up behind his neck.

He'll be the one who needs no more instrumentation than a single guitar, and who can enthrall an entire bar just by singing about wild country roses. Hell, if you're an Elvis fan like me, you already know that Elvis was perfectly capable of doing that, and he was a mortal.



But never make the mistake of underestimating Elessir just because of what human he happens to resemble. Because he isn't human. He is born of the Unseelie, a bard and mage, a son of midnight and frost.

And when he unleashes the full strength of his singing, he can call down lightning.

--
Angela writes as both Angela Highland and Angela Korra'ti, and when she's not hanging out with Quebecois fiddle players, she writes fantasy novels with Unseelie Elvis impersonators. Follow her on angelahighland.com or her Facebook page! Or come tell her your favorite Elvis movie on Twitter.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Excerpt from HEARTSICK

Posted by: Caitlin Sinead
I've been enjoying reading the romantic moments here on the blog and figured I'd throw in one of my own! :) Here is an excerpt from HEARTSICK.





Rachel and Ginger go to bed, and Luke suggests we go down the hill to the fire pit. It’s about one-hundred fifty yards from the house, just close enough that I know I can go to the bathroom in a toilet, but far enough away that it feels outdoorsy, like camping.
Luke grabs a few blankets and brings marshmallows and chocolate and graham crackers. As we walk, he continues talking about how he really is a stellar dancer. He keeps talking about his “elegant side” as he piles wood into the fire pit and creates a burning blaze.
Finally, I say, “Okay, well later, maybe you can prove it.”
“What do you mean later? We have a spotlight.” He waves up to the full moon. “And a dance floor.” He gestures to the grass beneath us. He’s trying to be romantic. It’s pretty adorable.
“But we don’t have any music,” I protest.
He scratches the back of his neck. “What do you call the rustling of leaves and the chirping of crickets and all that shit?”
I laugh. He smiles, proud he made me laugh. He pulls his smart phone from his jeans pocket and presses a few buttons. A familiar song spews out: “She’s in Love with the Boy.” He sets the phone down on the blanket before opening his arms, ready for a dance. His chest looks so good. Like something I just want to burrow into among a lot of sheets.
“I like that they go to the Tastee Freeze in this song. That’s how you know they’re country,” I say.
“I bet there are no Tastee Freezes where you come from?” Luke asks, head slanting, smile gone.
“No,” I say. “We don’t have Sonics or Waffle Houses, either.”
He approaches me cautiously, with his head leaning forward and his forehead wrinkled, like I’m some sort of victim. “How do you survive?”
“We somehow manage,” I say as he takes my hand.
His look is so mopey and serious. I need to break it up. I push him away. “What happened to the modern dance skills you were going to show me?”
He wipes his wet lips with the back of his hand. “Right, well, the main rule of modern dance, as I’m sure you know, is to spend a lot of time on the ground.”
“Oh?” I say as he takes my hand and pulls me over to the plaid blanket. It’s quick. He turns around and kneels in front of me, and soon his hands are around my waist and his mouth is on my belly. He’s kissing me through my dress, which isn’t the same, but the position, it’s just too close. My mind leapfrogs back. I jerk away. I hide my face in my hands and try to keep my balance as my legs shake. I bite my lip and try not to think about the past.
It sucks how horrible memories can ruin perfectly good present moments.
He looks up at me, mouth open, eyebrows in a triangle. “I’m sorry, I…” He starts to get up, one knee kneeling, the other foot on the ground, but I have taken a sufficiently clean breath. I come back to him, placing my hands on his shoulders. His muscles come on strong through his button-down shirt.
“Sorry, it just reminded me of something, that’s all. You didn’t do anything wrong.”
“What did it remind you of?” His eyes seem to say over and over again, you can tell me, you can tell me, like the redundant ripples on a lake after you’ve thrown a stone in.
“It’s nothing,” I say.
“It didn’t seem like nothing. What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” I say more firmly. I respond with a surefire way of making him forget and move on.
I kneel down so we’re almost level and put my arms around his neck. I don’t kiss him again, I just brush my lips against his. And that’s enough, soon he’s back to kissing me. He twists me into a dip so that I’m lying on my back on the plaid blanket as his hand reaches up my thigh and toward my underwear.
Men are so easy sometimes.
“Quinn,” he whispers. “Did Ginger tell you what I do?”
And then, sometimes, they aren’t.
“No,” I say.
His forehead crinkles and he swallows. “Well, a local job came through.” He looks up to something out in the middle of the field. His Adam’s apple shifts again, another deep swallow. His gaze is so focused. I arch my back to see, upside down, what he might be looking at.
Nothing. He’s just hesitating.
Ginger says it’s hard to be a wife of a guy like Luke. Ginger wants us to be serious.
I don’t.
I bring his face back to mine, his scruffy cheeks cupped in my palms. “We’re just having fun, right?” I pinch my lips together.
He nods. He rubs one hand along my hip and delivers a devilish smile that I want to eat up. His pointer finger dips under the edge of my panties. His thumb glides softly over my lady button. “I would call this fun.”

Friday, February 19, 2016

Romantic Moments: The Pages of the Mind Sneak Peek

Posted by: Jeffe Kennedy
For Romantic Moments Week here on Here Be Magic, I thought I'd share a sneak peek from THE PAGES OF THE MIND.

AN ORPHAN’S THRONE
Magic has broken free over the Twelve Kingdoms. The population is beset by shapeshifters and portents, landscapes that migrate, uncanny allies who are not quite human…and enemies eager to take advantage of the chaos.

Dafne Mailloux is no adventurer—she’s a librarian. But the High Queen trusts Dafne’s ability with languages, her way of winnowing the useful facts from a dusty scroll, and even more important, the subtlety and guile that three decades under the thumb of a tyrant taught her.

Dafne never thought to need those skills again. But she accepts her duty. Until her journey drops her into the arms of a barbarian king. He speaks no tongue she knows but that of power, yet he recognizes his captive as a valuable pawn. Dafne must submit to a wedding of alliance, becoming a prisoner-queen in a court she does not understand. If she is to save herself and her country, she will have to learn to read the heart of a wild stranger. And there are more secrets written there than even Dafne could suspect…

A little taste of a romantic moment for you:

The bright day blurred and I realized I wept in a steady stream, my face wet with it. Nakoa, the king of patience, made no move to go, so I tried to wait it out without wiping my tears away, unwilling for him to see me so wrecked. Despite his gentle reassurances, I wouldn’t deceive myself that he was my friend or ally. We played a game of strategy, and if I’d learned anything from Ursula, it was to keep a brave face and never let your enemies see you flinch. Unfortunately, she hadn’t taught me how to do that.
Nakoa let out a long breath and turned to seat himself beside me, facing the opposite direction, switching arms to keep one securely around my waist. I turned my face away. Then gave it up, scrubbed at my cheeks, and made myself look at him. In the bright morning, his black eyes showed lighter, like thinner slices of obsidian that might let light through if I held them up to the sun, the pupils distinct windows. He studied my face in turn, seeming to be deep in thought. Lifting his other hand, he brushed a finger under my eye, tracing the still damp skin there, metaphorically wiping away my tears.
“Sorry,” he said, mimicking my Common Tongue word. He touched one of the marks on his chest, where I’d broken the skin enough to draw a bit of blood, then the healing wound on his throat, tapped me softly over my heart, then brushed away the imaginary tear again. “Sorry,” he repeated, his tonality giving it the lift of a question.
I nodded. “Yes. Sorry.”
Holding my gaze, he bent his head and pressed another kiss to my forehead, letting his lips linger this time, cool against my brow. I might be a bit feverish from my injuries, which would help explain how fragile I felt. Nakoa moved, pressing another kiss to my cheekbone, just under the corner of my eye. With a finger under my chin, he turned my face and did the same to my other cheek. The sensation fluttered through me, warm sun on a winter’s day, cool water running over dark stone, salving my thirst. For once the memory didn’t feel quite so edged. I let my lids close, savoring the relief from fear, if only for the moment.
Nakoa kissed my eyelids, as light as butterfly wings, lifted my chin, and, after a pause, brushed my lips with his. There and gone. Then again.
I likely should have stopped him already, but Jepp’s warnings, my resolve, all seemed centuries old instead of hours. I was lonely and the kisses filled me with a golden comfort. While they lasted, I didn’t feel hollow and abandoned, but... cherished. No one had ever touched me this way, and it felt like the thing I’d longed for, waited for. One part of me stood back and knew it wasn’t, that it was all an illusion. Still, I’d made the hard choice, and indulging in Nakoa’s physical presence seemed like the one bright spot.
Kisses didn’t seal marriages. But they did feed me in a way I desperately needed at that moment.
His lips moved over mine with warm insistence, deepening the kiss, and I parted mine, allowing the flavor of him in. Desire rose in lazy, lapping waves. Not the volcanic, hard and desperate passion of our kiss on the mountain. No echo of a third heartbeat this time. Just Nakoa and me. The language of the body is one I know and communicate in very well. Nakoa would be like Jepp that way, knowing how bodies spoke to each other. His tongue touched mine, an intimate caress, and his hand trailed over my throat and down my back, petting me with long brushes, soothing and arousing at once.
I lifted my fingers to his cheek. He made an approving sound against my mouth and leaned into my touch. Encouraged, I threaded my fingers through the curls at his temple, imagining that the white locks felt different than the black, somehow more like coils of banked lightning. He echoed the gesture, touching my temple and then running his fingers through my hair, kissing me all the while, coming back to my temple when he reached the ends, combing through over and over.
Drowning in it, I let go, feeling only the warmth of his kisses and caresses, letting the fear and worry disperse. I leaned against him, his hot skin burning now, and reveled in simply being held.
Then I made myself stop.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Romance under the stars

Posted by: Sonya Clark
My contemporary romance Good Time Bad Boy is about a washed-up country singer who returns to his hometown and falls in love with a strong-willed waitress. My favorite scene in the book is also the one I think is the most romantic. Wade takes Daisy out stargazing but instead of the usual constellations, the stars he tells her about are all about music. He had thought to give her a romantic evening but in opening himself up to her, he finds his attraction to her becoming something deeper. It’s a quiet moment, full of blossoming love and the beginning of a real connection between two wary, scarred people. (Note: the music nerdery herein is another reason why I love this scene. Wade's "constellations" are all instruments in the Precious Jewels collection at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville.)

*

Daisy joined him. Her hair tickled the side of his face. He wanted to take a lock and smooth it through his fingers, know what it felt like against his skin. He cleared his throat and pointed at the sky. “That’s the Big Dipper right there.”

“That one, I know.”

He moved his hand to the left. “Bet you didn’t that one is called the Gibson F-4. You can tell because it’s the shape of a mandolin.”

“Uh.”

“And that over there.” He moved his hand to the north. “That’s a Gibson L-5.”

“Okay, I’ll play. What’s a Gibson L-5?”

“Specifically, it’s the 1928 Gibson L-5 guitar that belonged to Mother Maybelle Carter, one of the pioneers of country music. That constellation right there shines so bright, it’s inspired countless stargazers for decades.”

Her throaty laugh sent pleasant shivers up and down his spine. She pointed at a section of sky over the lake. “Okay, what’s that?”

Wade thought for a moment. “That is a Gibson RB-Granada Mastertone, a banjo.”

“And who did it belong to?”

“Earl Scruggs. He was one of the greatest banjo pickers and bluegrass players who ever lived.”

Daisy scooted closer to him. “What else is up there?”

He moved his arm to let her snuggle up next to him. She rested her head on his shoulder, one hand on his chest. “Back over there’s the 1944 Martin D-28 that belonged to Hank Williams. So many songs that still define country today were played on that guitar. It’s practically a holy relic.”

“You really love music, don’t you?”

“It’s who I am.” He rested his hand on his chest, fingers not far from hers. The night was quiet but alive. The steady lap of the water was joined by the occasional sound of a car going over the bridge. Crickets sang a constant chorus. A pair of owls did a call and response in the trees that dotted the picnic area. Peace filled him with an easy lassitude.

“Tell me about your guitar.”

Wade smiled. “My guitar is a Gibson Hummingbird electric acoustic in the wine red finish.” He couldn’t keep the pride out of his voice.

“I do like that red.” She propped her chin on his chest and met his eyes. “And those hummingbirds are beautiful.”

“The only thing I like better than those hummingbirds is how beautifully it plays. That was my dream guitar. I wanted one since the first time I saw a picture of one. It didn’t hurt that Gram Parsons played a Hummingbird.”

“Who’s that?”

Gram raised his head to give her an incredulous look. “You don’t know who Gram Parsons was? The Flying Burrito Brothers?”

She ticked an eyebrow up. “Nope.”

“Shit.” Gently, he lifted her so he could sit up. She followed suit, crossing her legs and placing her hands on the blanket behind her. He picked up his guitar. “The Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers are why the Eagles existed. Why country rock exists still today. They were legendary.”

“Never heard of them,” she said. “Well, I have heard of the Eagles.”

“Thank God for that.”

“Would you like me to get off your lawn, old man?” Daisy grinned.

He leveled his index finger at her. “Watch your tone. This is one of your country music lessons. There will be a test.”

Daisy threw her head back and laughed. He drank in the glorious sound, let it fill him up. She said, “If you’re gonna test me, I guess you better tell me about the Flying Enchilada Brothers then.” She tapped his leg with her foot. “Better play me one of their songs, too.”

“Burrito,” he corrected. “Get it right.”

“Yes, sir.”

“I like you calling me sir, you keep that up.”

Her eyes narrowed. “I was taught to respect my elders.”

Wade settled the guitar across his lap. “Keep on teasing me about my age. We’ll see who wears out who.”

It was hard to tell in the dim light but he suspected her cheeks were stained a red almost as dark as his guitar. For once, she didn’t have a snappy comeback. Mindful of his intentions for the night, he forced himself back to thinking about music instead of all the things he’d like to do to wear her out.

“The Flying Burrito Brothers were a California band. They played country but it was a different kind of country. Some people called it cosmic country. Their sound was mellow and melodic. Some of their songs were so gentle, playing them is like holding something fragile in your hands, afraid you’re going to drop it and shatter it to pieces. They had a different sensibility. Rockers like Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were attracted to that sensibility. Gram Parsons wound up becoming the most famous member of the band.”

“What did he do to manage that?”

“Partly by being an amazing songwriter, partly by dying of an overdose when he was twenty-six years old. Out in the California desert of Joshua Tree.”

Daisy grimaced. “Shit.” She shook her head. “If he’d held on for a while, he could have made the twenty-seven club.”

The twenty-seven club, a group of artists who died at that age, included the likes of Robert Johnson, Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Janice Joplin, Kurt Cobain, and Amy Winehouse. “So you do know a little about music.”

“I like R&B and girl singers. I read about the twenty-seven club when Amy Winehouse died.”

“I’d heard of her but I’ve never really listened to her music.”

“You should. It’s really good.”

“What other girl singers you like?” Wade was genuinely curious about her taste in music. Finding out what kind of music spoke to someone, appealed to their sensibilities, always told him a lot about a person.

“Adele. Lana Del Rey. Pink.”

He had an Adele album but he’d have to look up the other names, check out their sound.

Daisy drew her legs up and wrapped her arms around her knees. “Play me something Gram Parsons sang.”

Wade launched into his favorite Parsons song, Return Of The Grievous Angel. The only thing better than the smile it brought to Daisy’s face was her asking to hear more. He played nearly a dozen songs before she became noticeably sleepy, and he realized what a long night it must have been for her. Rocky Top had been packed and here it was now long after midnight. He led her back to the truck and followed the directions she gave him to her place.

Her eyes were heavy as she unlocked her door. “I’m not asking you in.”

“I’m not expecting you to,” he said. “I just wanted to make sure you got inside safe and sound.” He paused. “And I wanted to do this.” He leaned over and kissed her cheek, resting his lips against her soft skin for a moment before breaking the contact.

“Thank you for tonight,” she said. “I had a good time.”

“Me too.” He touched her arm, just a quick, light caress. “Good night, Daisy.”

“Good night, Wade.” She opened the door then stopped. “Hey.”

“Yeah?”

“I just. I like it that all those holy relic instruments are the constellations that guide you. That’s really nice.”

Emotion clutched at his heart and clogged his throat. “That’s...that’s the most amazing thing anybody’s ever said to me.”

“I’m so tired, I was afraid it wouldn’t make any sense.”

“It makes sense to me.”

“Good.” Daisy smiled and waved, then went inside the trailer.

He listened for the sound of the door being locked before turning back to his truck. He sang more Gram Parsons to himself all the way home.

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