Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Free Time Isn't Free

Posted by: PG Forte

Don’t you just love fortune cookies? It's like they KNOW. I got this one yesterday, when my husband and I took a break from packing to go out to lunch. It’s impossible to cook at our house, anymore, since every surface is covered with objects that have to either be boxed up, or carted away…or sometimes both.
In case you’ve missed it, I’m currently in the process of moving. I know, I’ve probably already mentioned that a time or two, huh? I mean, I've been prepping for this move for at least a year. And now that the time has actually come, it’s…everything I feared it would be. 
It's a horrible, exhausting, enervating process that’s sucking the life out of both of us. Which, I know, seems like a bit of an exaggeration, but, ohhhh, that's how it feels.
It's kind of crazy, when you think about it. It’s certainly not like I’ve never moved before; in fact, over the course of my adult life, I’ve moved on an average of every two years. So why am I suddenly acting like such a moving wimp? I guess it’s just that this move feels so much more momentous than most.
In part, I suppose that’s because this is the longest we’ve ever stayed anywhere. In part it’s because so much has happened in that time. Our parents all died while we lived here—not to mention that two of them were actually living here with us during their final illnesses. Our son got married. Our grandson was born. Our daughter left home to travel the world, and then came back to settle in another state. In large part it’s because I’ve somehow accumulated SO MUCH STUFF while I’ve lived here. Check it out:
We have our own furniture—and we’d finally reached the point where we could afford to buy a few nice pieces, so it’s actually nice furniture. Furniture that we really like. We have a good deal of my parents’ furniture, as well, along with a few pieces that belonged to their parents, and literally BOXES of their belongings (paintings, photo albums, dishes, bedding, clothes, even kitchen utensils, FFS) all of which should probably be shared with my siblings, seeing as I’m not an only child. And yet…
It's funny how things work out sometimes, isn't it?
We also have furniture and belongings that were left behind by both of our children after they’d ventured out into the world to establish their own households. In short, we have become the KEEPERS OF MEMORIES. That's everybody’s memories, by the way. Ours, our parents, our siblings and cousins, our children…even some of our children’s friends.
It’s a little overwhelming trying to sort through all of that. It's bad enough throwing out your own belongings. Tossing other people's memories? Can we say GUILT? 
It's especially nerve wracking because we’re moving into a smaller place, and I already feel like I've been living in a furniture warehouse. I absolutely HAVE to unload some of these things. 
But taken all in all, this summer has been…not a lot of fun. My packrat-soul is most unhappy. I find myself secretly hoping that an earthquake or wildfire will target my neighborhood and save me from having to make the tough decisions of What To Get Rid Of.  
Which, unfortunately, has now become a daily thing. Get out of bed, brush teeth, make coffee, toss a box of journals in the wastepaper bin. Joy.
What makes it even worse…or, I dunno, maybe it makes it a little bit better, I’m not quite sure, yet…is the fact that I’m losing weight. That’s intentional, btw, nothing to be concerned about, but we’re talking TWO SIZES SMALLER! SINCE MAY! Still, the good news, bad news of it all is: that’s most of my wardrobe rendered useless.
Which brings me to the subject of letting things go.
I hate the idea of putting useful objects in the trash. Always have. It’s wasteful. And, from an environmental standpoint, a good case could be made that it’s borderline suicidal. I also hate parting with anything that sparks memories, no matter how slight. 
That rock my son picked up while on vacation in Lake Tahoe twenty-something years ago? Can’t get rid of that. The T shirt I was wearing the day my grandson was born, the one that’s (let me say it again, because it's really exciting to be able to do so) TWO SIZES too big? Nope. That stays.  How about the oil-stained wooden salad bowl that my parents retired in the seventies when plexi-glass came into vogue, but which had previously graced our dinner table for my entire childhood? C’mon, there was nothing wrong with it then, and it's still good now. Or the costume my daughter wore for her one-and-only dance recital when she was twelve? She hated absolutely everything about that dress. The colors did nothing for her complexion (obviously, we didn’t choose them). The cut was as unflattering to her figure as it could possibly be. She basically gave up dance after that performance—she was that scarred by the experience. But, but, but…
Yeah. Of course i'm keeping it. Don’t be ridiculous.
Look, I don't want you to get the wrong idea. I really have parted with A LOT of things over the past few months. Really. Enough stuff to completely fill a two-car garage—all gone now. I think I'm doing a wonderful job. And if dealing with the stress from this wonderful job I'm doing means that I now qualify as actually needing two Emotional Support Animals to get me through the day...well, that's not entirely a bad thing either. 
I’m generally okay with letting things go. I just need to be able to keep imagining that I'm sending all these wonderful objects—furniture, appliances, clothes, etc—out into the world where they will bring joy to unknown people. Unfortunately, the people in question don’t always make it easy to imagine this outcome.
Apparently, things have changed since the last time I’ve gone through this process. Very few places will accept donations of furniture nowadays; and none of them will accept donations of baby items. Which is ridiculous when you consider how quickly babies grow out of everything! Even the companies that used to pick up old cars and appliances and refurbish them are gone.
And so I’ve had to resort to Craigslist, where—apparently—you can find people willing to take just about anything you want to get rid of. Sort of. And that, of course, brings us to the title of this blog.
You see, it’s recently occurred to me how very much people undervalue time—especially other people’s time. Especially MY time. Because, unless I'm charging them for something, there are some people who seem to figure I should be okay with throwing in unlimited amounts of my time for free as well.
Thanks to my dick-of-an-neighbor (which, yes, is how I refer to him all the time now) who called the city on me when I’d left some furniture outside my house last month for Habitats for Humanity to pick up…which they didn’t…long story…I can’t leave anything in the driveway unattended anymore, out of fear of being cited and fined. Sounds like fun, huh? It also means I’ve wasted HOURS in the past week hanging out in my garage, waiting for people to come and pick up FREE furniture.
Really nice furniture, too, in some case. Antiques. Vintage pieces. Some of which we only purchased a few years ago…which, okay, I wasn’t going to get into it but REALLY HABITATS FOR HUMANITY??? You won’t pick up furniture that’s older than seven years? Do you not understand that antiques that were produced less than seven years ago are NOT A THING?
But I digress.
I’ve heard ALL THE EXCUSES this past week for why people can’t show up to claim the furniture they begged me to save for them. They fell asleep. They ran out of gas. They got lost…
 In the days of everyone-has-a-cellphone-with-Google-maps? Yeah, I’m not buying it.
They forgot. They got into an argument with their SO and now they don’t need it. Their car’s too small--they thought it was bigger, but it's not. They had an emergency. Their dog ate my address…okay, I made that last one up. But, I still have furniture to move, so you never know. Someone could still use it.
I’ve even had people ask me if I couldn’t deliver the furniture to them, to save them the trouble of having to come and get it themselves. This is free furniture we're talking about. Free. The mind boggles.
It finally got to the point where I actually typed this response to one such request: “The furniture’s free, my time isn’t.” I had wanted to just type: “Hahahaha” but figured he might not get it.   
All the same, it’s been a learning experience, you know? I mean, maybe all these people did me a favor. Maybe they alerted me to the fact that I haven’t been very respectful of my own time, either. Especially lately. Especially the time I should be spending writing. And, yes, a lot of that is because I don’t have a lot of free time in general, and I do have responsibilities to the other people in my life, and this house is not going to pack itself.
But, the bottom line is, yeah, free time isn’t really free at all.
All in all, however, it’s okay. Unless something truly cataclysmic occurs in the interim, by this time next month I’ll be in my new, smaller, sleeker, more streamlined, and (hopefully) emptier digs. With a brand-new wardrobe. So, yeah, that's a lot to be happy about right there. I’ll also be just an hour away from my grandson (for ease in babysitting), a few miles from my sister, and a ten-minute drive to the beach. I can’t wait.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, there are boxes to be packed…

Monday, August 26, 2019

HERE BE NEWS for August 26, 2019

Posted by: Dani Harper, Author


Monday, August 19 
"HERE BE NEWS" - All the latest from the gang at Here Be Magic, including a new release.

Wednesday, August 21 -
NEW IN WEREWOLVES AND GASLIGHT MYSTERIES!” - Another gripping novel by award-winning author Shawna Reppert. Read an excerpt of MOON OVER LONDON and find out more.

Thursday, August 22 -
TROPES - Yay, Nay, or So-So?” – What do you think are today’s popular romance tropes? Author Linda Mooney asks which ones YOU like, and which ones you'd like to see less of. 

Saturday, August 24 -
This week's Bring It Back(list) feature is THE GRIM SERIES, a fae and fantasy romance by Dani Harper. HURRY - the Kindle versions are just 99 cents this month! Scroll below for all the details.

Book 2 of Werewolves and Gaslight
by Shawna Reppert

Werewolves are disappearing from the gaslit streets of London. Are they being  murdered? Kidnapped?

Few beyond the ’wolves’ own families notice they’re missing, and fewer still care. With the aid of a clandestine toff werewolf and a lady alchemist with attitude, Inspector Royston Jones is determined to protect all those who dwell in his city. But his superiors are indifferent, the werewolf community suspicious, and he has too few leads and too many suspects—including his estranged uncle. Only one thing is certain; unless he can solve the mystery, more ’wolves will be taken every time the full moon rises.

Another gripping novel by the award-winning author of A Hunt by Moonlight!

by Dani Harper
  1. Storm Warrior
  2. Storm Bound
  3. Storm Warned
  4. Storm Crossed

The fae are cunning, powerful and often cruel.

The most beautiful among them are often the most deadly. Hidden far beneath the mortal world, the timeless faery realm plays by its own rules—and those rules can change on a whim. Now and again, the unpredictable residents of that mystical land cross the supernatural threshold…

In this enchanting romance series from Dani Harper, the ancient fae come face-to-face with modern-day humans and discover something far more potent than their strongest magic: love.

Just 99¢ each, but HURRY!
Sale ends soon!

And what inspired Dani Harper to write The Grim Series?
Find out on Here Be Magic:

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Bring It Back(list) Feature: THE GRIM SERIES by Dani Harper - plus a Sale!

Posted by: Dani Harper, Author

You'll find them all in my Grim Series. These full-length novels combine Celtic myth with faery lore from Wales – but one way or another, the characters land in modern-day America!

Why "Grim"? One of my favorite Welsh folktales concerns a legendary canine with countless names: The Black Dog, the Gwyllgi, the Barghest, Black Shuck, or THE GRIM. This spectral creature is said to resemble a giant mastiff, larger than any living dog, and its eyes are often fiery red or gold - and glowing!

The legend dates all the way back to Celtic times, and tales of the beast are told in many parts of the British Isles. Often associated with the Fae, the Grim acts as the herald of Death, and those who see the animal are usually destined to die very soon. The dog appears without warning, follows or even chases people – yet vanishes without a trace. 

However, the Grim never threatens the innocent. In some tales, the creature is an instrument of justice, hunting down betrayers and murderers. And sometimes the otherworldly beast protects children or guards lone travelers. 

Stories like these made me wonder... What if the creature had a conscience, a sense of right and wrong? What if the Grim didn’t mindlessly follow its mission? What if the Black Dog didn't want to BE Death's Messenger? 

That's when the characters showed up and demanded I write their stories!


The fae are cunning, powerful and often cruel.

The most beautiful among them are often the most deadly. Hidden far beneath the mortal world, the timeless faery realm plays by its own rules—and those rules can change on a whim. Now and again, the unpredictable residents of that mystical land cross the supernatural threshold…

In this enchanting romance series from Dani Harper, the ancient fae come face-to-face with modern-day humans and discover something far more potent than their strongest magic: love.

Storm Crossed won the 2019 Golden Quill Award for Fantasy Romance
Just 99¢ each, but hurry!
Sale ends soon!

Thursday, August 22, 2019

TROPES - Yay, Nay, or So-So?

Posted by: Linda Mooney

I just received an email from Amazon, letting me know what's new or trending in ebooks. On their list was another what I call a billionaire romance. Although I've never read any, I've checked out a few. Guess that's why Amazon tagged me for that genre.

But it got me to thinking about tropes. When a movie or book become popular, it seems a kajillion other books of that type come out, flooding the market. Back in the days when ebook publishers were rampant, they'd get on a particular trope and put out hundreds of books in that variation.

So which do you think are the popular romance tropes today, and which ones have run their course and need to be scaled back? A few to consider are:

* billionaires
* vampires 
* shifters in general, or just a specific kind 
* superheroes
* Alpha aliens who look human
* reverse harems

* dystopian
* kidnapped by aliens
* _____________ (fill in the blank)

Deities, Bk. 2
Contemporary Fantasy/Apocalyptic Romance
by Linda Mooney
Word Count: 41.5K
$3.99 e / $9.99 p

The earth is being destroyed, and the mortal population decimated, all in an attempt for the old gods to become relevant again. Eons ago, Zeus and the gods captured the four demi-gods of the elements—air, earth, fire and water. Now the minor gods have been let loose and are being forced to wreak havoc on the planet.

Meris, half-god of the water, doesn’t enjoy throwing tsunamis and flooding coastal towns and villages, destroying islands and taking lives, but he and his brothers must do as they’re told or risk being imprisoned again, possibly forever. Which none of them would survive a second time.

The life of a teacher isn’t full of glamour and world travels, so when offered a free trip to Hawaii in exchange for Maid of Honor duties for her best friend, Roby McDaniel jumps at the chance. What was supposed to be an elegant dinner cruise full of wine and fine dining quickly ends in tragedy when a giant wave appears from out of nowhere and capsizes the boat. Roby manages to stay afloat, unable to comprehend the destruction happe ning in front of her eyes, but the giant rising out of the ocean? That she really has trouble wrapping her head around.

Normally unseen by mortals unless he wills it, Meris is surprised when Roby calls out to him, and he cannot turn his back on the mortal begging to be saved. She’s beautiful, brave, special, and meant for him. But after causing the deaths of her friends, can he convince her he’s not the heartless monster she thinks he is?

With Poseidon missing, the remaining gods are biding their time until they can trap the Primordials again, but now they need to locate the god of the sea. They are certain that capturing and torturing the mortal women Meris and his brothers are protecting will give them the answers they seek.

Warning! Contains scenes of mass destruction, one woman's shoe, chains, the car wash of desire, steamed fish, derelicts, a bright red shirt, and one demi-god willing to give his life to protect the woman who loves him.

Excerpt and Buy Links

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

New in Werewolves and Gaslight Mysteries!

Posted by: Shawna Reppert

Moon over London

Werewolves are disappearing from the gaslit streets of London. Are they being  murdered? Kidnapped?
Few beyond the ’wolves’ own families notice they’re missing, and fewer still care. With the aid of a clandestine toff werewolf and a lady alchemist with attitude, Inspector Royston Jones is determined to protect all those who dwell in his city. But his superiors are indifferent, the werewolf community suspicious, and he has too few leads and too many suspects—including his estranged uncle. Only one thing is certain; unless he can solve the mystery, more ’wolves will be taken every time the full moon rises.

Another gripping novel by the award-winning author of A Hunt by Moonlight!

 And now an excerpt from the gripping new novel!

Richard raised his long snout to the night breeze, nostrils quivering as he sampled all the scents; the distinctive, pleasant smell of horse and hay from the stables across the courtyard, the dampness of the air that spoke of rain by morning, the slight smell of decay from the compost heap behind the garden shed. He focused harder. Yes, he could catch the solid, familiar scent of Jones, yards and yards away, comingled with the oil and gasoline that hurt his nose every time he ventured into the garage-cum-workshop. He’d begged Catherine to stick to the less-dangerous coal to fire her experimental steam engines, but it didn’t burn quick enough or hot enough to satisfy her. 

He trotted over to the garage, slowing to a walk as he passed through the door. Jones stood by the front passenger door of the gleaming, champagne-colored horseless carriage. Bandon brushed against his legs in wolfish greeting. The horseless was already steaming gently, which meant Catherine must have slipped out to start it sometime in the evening. He had thought she’d been gone an unusually long time when she’d slipped out to powder her nose between courses. At least they wouldn’t lose time waiting the nearly half-hour the metal beast took to build up enough steam to be useful. He loped a half-circle, turning back to the car with enough momentum to make a graceful leap into the back seat. It was a jump he’d easily make flat-footed, but after the one time he’d slipped a little and scratched the paint, he’d learned to be extra-careful where Catherine’s precious horseless was concerned. 

Jones looked at his pocket watch, and then at the front door of the house. “What on Earth is taking her so long to—oh, no.”

Richard followed the detective’s gaze to see his wife slipping out of the servant’s entrance wearing her men’s clothing but without her Charles Foster glamour. With her hair tucked neatly up into a tweed cap, Catherine made quite a fetching young man. Richard was once again surprised by how enticing he found the sight. He’d never had more than a platonic appreciation for the male form, but somehow the knowledge that it was his wife under the mannish garb—well. Some evening he’d have to see if he could persuade her to wear the clothes in their private quarters, when it was just the two of them.

Jones signed deeply. “I suppose it’s better than if someone happened along and wondered what I was doing out driving alone at night with a lady and a werewolf—so long as she keeps that cap pulled down!”

Technically, a woman running about in men’s clothes could be arrested for public indecency, although the punishments were generally less severe than if a man was caught in ladies’ things outside of a pantomime. Poor Jones. This just wasn’t his night.

As Catherine took her place behind the wheel, he caught a scent he usually associated with Jones more than Catherine, a sharp, almost metallic smell. Gun oil. Gunpowder. His eyes were less keen than his nose when it came to fine details, so it took him a moment to see the small bulge at the small of her back, beneath the waistcoat. His love was armed, as capable of protecting herself this night as he was. The wave of relief came with a frisson of excitement that he refused to examine too closely, not while they were heading into possible danger and certainly not while in his current form.
Jones climbed into the passenger seat, his movements exhibiting far less enthusiasm than his companions at the prospect of a ride in the horseless carriage. Though Jones had ridden in the horseless before, even driven it on one occasion, the good Inspector had never gotten over his fear of the metal, steam-breathing contraptions with their speed and the boiler just waiting to explode beneath the hood. Now was probably not the best time to warn him that Catherine had been making modifications to the engine in preparation for an exhibition race at next spring’s Inventors’ and Alchemists’ Grand Fair and Symposium. Fortunately, he had an excuse to hold his silence—in this form, neither his mouth nor his throat was shaped for human speech.

And then they were off, the horseless steaming and chuffing obediently down the road. Richard raised his nose to catch all the scents that rode the swift wind of their passing—badger, rabbit, the slightly musky scent of a dog fox. So lost was he in reading the air, in reveling in the way the wind ruffled through his fur, that he was confused when the horseless slowed to a stop at the edge of the road. 

Jones got out of the vehicle. “Come on then, mutt.”

Richard gave a short growl at the new nickname, though, if no better than ‘ridiculous toff of a werewolf’ it was at least shorter. Then he sighed and hopped out of the horseless to pace at the Inspector’s side as he hiked the rest of the way to his ancestral home.

The mansion was a dark and foreboding shape against the moon-silvered sky. Lights burned in only a few of the windows, and those high up on the top-most floor. That should make this easier. In this form, Richard could be as silent as the fog if he chose, but Jones was loud as a cart horse to Richard’s sensitive ears. He reminded himself that the occupants of the house had merely human senses, but still the muscles along his back twitched with every scuffed stone and crunched leaf.

If Jones were caught out here, it would be easy enough for him to explain away in light of his position. But if his superiors demanded the identity of the werewolf as part of the explanation, as indeed they might, given the werewolf connection to the kidnapping? Jones would protect him, he was certain of that, even at the cost of his job. But Richard was no longer so sure that he could let him make the sacrifice. 

“Here we are,” Jones said, stopping beneath the window. “The boy’s window is just above. There were footprints, of course, but it was all a muddle. The servants washed the lower windows the morning before the boy disappeared, so their footprints were all over the place, and then, with the search, everyone was running everywhere before anyone from the Yard arrived to preserve the scene.”

Just wonderful. And how was he supposed to pick scents out of that mess, with no idea which scent he was looking for? Before he could figure out how to express his complaint to Jones without the benefit of human speech, Jones was digging something out of his pocket.

“Here.” Jones held a small piece of cloth out to him. “It was on the boy’s nightstand, so I presume it belongs to him.”

A handkerchief, Richard realized. A neat little square of linen that no well-dressed lord’s son would be without. He snuffled at it, drawing the scent deep into his nostrils, letting it imprint on his brain. The cloth was clean, thank God, but it must have been carried in the boy’s pocket for quite some time to be so well-imbued with his scent. Then he dropped his nose to just above the ground where scent tended to pool. Many people had passed this way, their scents as well-mingled as their footprints had been, but it only took a moment to sort out the tangle and find the boy’s scent, and then he was off, following the trail across the yard and over the bridge that crossed the duck pond, wrinkling his nose at the foul poultry-yard stench. 

The trail did not waiver, going straight for the tree-line of the private park that lay beyond the wide, gently sloping lawn. The boy had not just been dawdling; he’d had a goal in mind. Another scent trail paralleled the boy’s, and it had been, as close as he could tell, laid at about the same time. The second trail carried a hint of horses and hay, and, for reasons his wolf-senses couldn’t translate into words, Richard knew it was the scent of a man, not a boy. Someone walking with the child, or someone trailing him, unseen by his quarry? Richard couldn’t tell, and wished he could share the information with the inspector at his side, but that consultation would have to wait until the morning when Richard could speak as a man once more.

He slowed down just a bit, intent on parsing out any clues from the two scent trails. He caught no whiff of fear, anger, or pain, at least not so far. Yet the trails were too close in time, location, and direction to be a coincidence, and no one had reported a second victim. He glanced over at Jones, who was taking advantage of the slowed pace to catch his breath. The inspector was fit, but few men found it easy to keep up with a tracking wolf, even at what for Richard was a steady trot. The presence of a second, unknown trail increased the possibility that the trail would lead them into danger, and Richard had no way to warn his human companion. 

No choice, though, but to move on. It was what Jones would want to do, regardless. A boy’s life was at stake. 

He slowed further, though, as they entered the woods. Too many places here to lay an ambush. He flipped his ears back and forth, alert for any out-of-place sound, and he divided his attention now between the scent trail and the other ambient scents, wary of potential attackers.

Deeper into the woods, in a clearing with a substantial old stump, both scent trails pooled. Both the boy and his companion or pursuer had stopped here for a period of time. The trails crossed and tangled, but never seemed to lead out of the clearing. Richard zig-zagged back and forth, moving slowly, sniffing, trying to puzzle out what had happened from the story the scents had left. Royston waited at the edge of the clearing, staying out of his way as Richard worked the scents.

He thought back to when he’d lost a trail before. What had helped? Ah, yes.

In following the trail, he’d filtered out the millions of extraneous scents—wildlife, the mingled scents of new life and decay omnipresent in any woods. Many horses had come and gone this way over many days, weeks, months, leaving their own distinct scents, which he’d counted only as a distraction. Now he focused on them, found a pair of horse scents laid about the same time as the scent trail he had been following. Sure enough, when he found the path the horses had taken to leave the clearing, he found traces of Nicky and the mysterious other mingled with their scent.

Eager to make up the time he’d wasted in the clearing, he sprang off again at a run, trusting Jones to follow. Though the nights were long this time of year, they just didn’t seem long enough for something like this. Time seemed different in this form, somehow, and so he couldn’t tell how much time had passed before he noticed three key details. He was now following the scent trails of three horses, not two. The scent of the boy and the other were no longer mingled with the scent of the horses, though there was a new other he hadn’t noticed before. And he’d lost Jones.

 Buy now!

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