xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' Kryssie Fortune: May 2015

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Witches, Fae, Elves, Werewolves and Dragons. Did I mention Indianna Jones?

Imagine a world of witches, Fae, werewolves, elves and dragons. And did I mention the man eating Fauna? That's the world I built for Curse of the Fae King and my Scattered Siblings series. Last week, when I attended Smut by the sea, the wonderful Etta Stark asked me which book was my favorite. Looking at my 2nd sentence, there's no prizes for guessing.
Why that one.
Lipstick, for one.

He's the naughtiest dragon, but he's based on one of the many legends that swirl about the Yorkshire town of Whitby.
Okay, here goes.
Lipstick is based on the imaginary pet I had as a young girl. He lived in a hollow tree in the woods near my house, but back then he was called Monte. Since he's a red dragon, Lipstick suits him better.
Later I fell in love with Whitby - the Goth capitol of the UK.
 The Whitby Wyrm fascinates me. Pictures of this serpent-like dragon decorate T-shirts and posters in the local shops. This is where Dracula first set foot in England.
Do you see the Abby high in the background? The story goes that its builders disturbed a dragon when they dug for the foundations. He wasn't a friendly dragon, more one hell-bent on destroying the town. He failed, and was banished into the sea. Every seven years, under the light of a full moon, he returns and digs away at the cliff on which the abbey stands. One day that too might fall into the sea. Thankfully he hasn't undermined it yet. As a dragon lover, I think he’s more naughty than evil. He was the inspiration for the Fae King’s baby war dragon. And they don't come much naughtier than him.
The second reason I love this book is Leonidas, the Fae King. He's tough, noble and proud. Given that he fights with a whip, I was thrilled when one review compared him to Indiana Jones.
Best of all, there's Meena - a spunky kickass heroine who gives as good as she gets. Somewhere along the way, she gets mad and destroys a whole castle. Here's what she had to say about her adventures.
 "I spent almost a third of my life in Whitby, England. Yeah, I know. Home of Dracula, and all things Gothic. Of course I missed the Otherworld, but there’s something about a death sentence that makes a girl reluctant to go home. Thanks for that, mum. Yes, I know we’re good now, and I promise I will visit the Vampire Kingdom soon.
When Leonidas lost his powers and we got stuck in the Otherworld, we had to trek through the jungle. Anyway, some plants just don’t need to exist. I should know. The damn things almost ate me as I trekked through Patria—the Elf kingdom. There are worse things, of course. I’m not fond of misogynistic Elves, and as for their Overlord…well even though he proposed to me, he’s not a nice man.
 Anyway, back to the plants.

Picture a sea of these, their scarlet flowers nodding gently in the breeze. Pretty? Pretty deadly more like. Their delicate perfume entrances their victims. Pygmy rats—not much bigger than a mundane world’s supermarket trolley—live beneath them. They rush out and eat the helpless prey. In return, the rats’ faeces fertilizes the plants. Definitely not a nice way to go.
I almost fell prey to these. Fortunately I was under the Elf Overlord’s protection at the time—such as it was. One of his guards warned me off, but it was my Witch’s familiar that saved me. Who’s that? I’m not telling—but I’m glad it wasn’t that yappy dog from the Goth shop. Still want to know?
Then you’ll have to read my story in Kryssie Fortune’s  book, Curse of the Fae King."

Buy Links

Loose ID                           http://www.loose-id.com/curse-of-the-fae-king.html
Amazon US                       http://amzn.to/1AB6Di6
Amazon UK                       http://amzn.to/1PVbe5i
Amazon AU                       http://bit.ly/1GMkUta
Amazon Germany              http://amzn.to/1LUdHqb
Barnes and Noble              http://bit.ly/1KvcEfY
All Romance                     http://bit.ly/1aJXbpC 



“That’s my bloody dragon!” The Fae stalked across the cliff top, his emerald shirt billowing beneath his black leather waistcoat. “And I will be having him back.”

Meena’s curls tumbled over her shoulders, an ebony waterfall streaked with rainbow colors. She’d come up to the abbey ruins for solitude and peace, and as usual, she’d found it. Unless you counted the little lost dragonet at her feet. A large dog would have dwarfed him, but he was definitely the cutest otherworld creature she’d ever seen. And now his owner wanted him back. 

She glanced back toward the main entrance to see who’d provoked the Fae’s fury. There wasn’t another soul to be seen, which meant... 

Sweet Hekate. He’s yelling at me. 

Okay, her life was... Well, it wasn’t good, but no one snarled at her like that. Meena clenched her fists and squared her shoulders while the dragonet rested his head on his paws and took another bite of her sandwich. 

The Fae’s arrogance chafed, but she refused to take her anger out on the dragonet. The way he mewled and flopped down at feet made her smile. 

Meena removed her gloves and fondled his pointy ears. “Cheer up, Lipstick. Daddy’s finally come to take you home. What a pity he didn’t take better care of you in the first place.” 

“Lipstick?” Leonidas thundered. "You named a powerful war dragon Lipstick. He should bear a noble name like Dreadnought or Valiant.” 

With his uptight expression, corded muscle, and stiff spine, he had to be Fae royalty. That didn’t bode well for an outcast like her. 

Meena smiled her professional customer-service smile--the one that had let her down earlier. “But he's the same color as my new lipstick. Scarlet Kisses, see?” 

She brandished it like a talisman. She expected smoke to come out of this overbearing Fae’s ears. How satisfying was that? Whenever Fae passed through Whitby, they dissed her completely--but that wasn’t always a bad thing. Eight years ago when her powers didn’t manifest at puberty, the Witch Council put a price on her head. Her mother moved them to the mundane world, but it had taken Meena forever to adjust to life in Whitby. A life without magic. 

Despite his bad temper, the Fae’s sculptured cheekbones and kissable lips made a dangerous combination--one she struggled to resist. His voice flowed over her like melted chocolate. She loved how he’d braided his hair back in a neat queue at the nape of his neck, and now he stood like a Spanish hidalgo--all uptilted chin, disdainful pride, and gleaming white fangs. Only how dare he look down his nose at her? Carved of granite and steel, he radiated menace. Definitely not as cute as his dragon. More mouthwateringly masculine, but otherworld creatures usually dissed a reject like her. 

She stared at the bullwhip coiled Indiana Jones-style at his narrow waist, then at the black-handled dagger sheathed on his right hip. An obsidian rapier--Fae-forged and unbreakable--almost merged with one of the taped seams that ran down the sides of his pants. He even wore a dagger gunslinger-style at his hip. Dear Goddess, the man was a walking arsenal, but he was sexy as hell. 

This Fae warrior was battle honed and ready. When the wind whipped his shirtsleeves against his biceps, Meena barely stopped herself from licking her lips or, better yet, his. When she imagined his arm curled around her waist--dominant, possessive yet protective--her pussy clenched with desire. 

Otherworld species--the Witches, Vampires, Lykae, and Fae--used Whitby the way aircraft passengers do a transport hub. Sometimes she wanted to scream, “I’m here. Talk to me.” Deep down, she knew better than to draw attention to an outcast like herself. Humans never noticed their comings and goings, but she saw every one of them, silent reminders of everything she’d lost. Life without her Witch friends or her magic was hard. Living in Whitby was difficult enough, then just a couple of hours ago, life kicked her in the pants again. 

The abbey ruins dominated the picturesque harbor town, and ever since she’d arrived in the mundane world, she’d found peace among its ancient stones. Until today. Damn it, she wouldn’t let some high and mighty Fae spoil her refuge, no matter how loud he shouted. 

His lips narrowed into a stern, kissable line, and his voice dripped deadly menace. “Woman, you will give me back my dragon.” 

“Okay, jackass, enough. I’m having a really bad day here,” Meena snapped. “And to top it off, your dragonet just polished off my lunch.” 

“You bloody fed him? Elves’ blood, don’t you know they bond with whoever first feeds them? You’ve poached my damn dragon.” He seethed with fury and frustration along with the sort of take-charge sexiness that could make a girl weak. Make her crave all the things her exile denied her--and that definitely included sex. 

Fangs bared, he marched toward her. His don’t-fuck-with-me confidence made her mouth water, but provoking him might prove...fatal. 

Meena’s courage almost deserted her, but she stood her ground. “Someone had to take care of him, especially since you didn’t. And don’t you dare glower at me like that. Hello? Already stressed out here, so why don’t you flash off back to Fairyland?” 

He went quiet and still, so mean and moody he made her heart race. “No one”--he took the arrogant bad-boy vibe up a gear--“speaks to me with such disrespect. I am Leonidas, and that is my dragon.” 

“Get over yourself, and go annoy someone else.” She smirked in his face. 

His expression frozen in haughty grandeur, he rested his hand on his rapier’s hilt. His curled lip and narrow-eyed glower said he’d happily run her through with his blade. Then when he truly looked at her, his eyes glinted like emerald stars, and magic swirled around him in waves. Tiny lightning flashes zigzagged around him in a full-body halo that even a witchy reject like her could see. 

His voice turned deep and sensual--an earthy rumble that made her pussy pulse with need. “A man would die for speaking to me like that, but it would be a shame to rob the world of a beauty like yours.” 

What do you know? The warrior’s a poet. That was the prettiest compliment she’d ever received. Come to think of it, it was the only compliment she’d received since she’d fled the otherworld. That’s it, rub it in that I’m lonely. He oozed Latino charm just like Antonio Banderas when he played Zorro. Indiana Jones? Zorro? What is this? Hollywood’s Sexiest Men? 

Thunderbolts rumbled around him, and the lightning flashes turned electric blue. He was danger and fury, a mountain of sensual hunger--as proven by the tempting bulge in his tight leather pants. Then he closed his eyes, shuddered, and extinguished the storm cloud of desire he’d just invoked. Tight leather trousers weren’t designed to hide a hard-on, especially not one that size. Only what’s with the light show? Come on, Fairy king, give me a clue. 

Without sparing her another glance, he reached into his belt pouch and tossed the dragonet a slice of raw meat. “Eat up, boy; then I’ll take you home.” 

Full from Meena’s cheese sandwich, the dragonet growled softly and turned away. Leonidas’s clenched jaw and raised eyebrow made Meena smirk again. His face was too harsh to be handsome--all angular planes and aquiline nose--but despite his atrocious manners, she didn’t want him to leave. Her cheeks heated when his green-eyed gaze swept over her, and again his lip curled. “You’re not human. You’re too slender in places and too curvy in others. What species are you?” 

Too thin? Too curvy? Come on, jackass, make up your mind. 

So much for the compliments--and did he just call her overweight? She wasn’t skinny, just sort of middling and normal, unless she gorged herself on chocolate. Okay, she watched her figure, but then what woman didn’t? Maybe she packed a few extra pounds, not that she’d admit it to this aren’t-I-just-perfect Fae. 

Determined to give as good as she got, she smirked again. “Perhaps I’d be fatter if Lipstick here hadn’t scoffed my lunch. And for your information, I’m Goth.” 

He raised a questioning eyebrow. 

How insular could one Fae be? Meena rolled her eyes and smiled just wide enough to show her tiny fangs. “You’re standing in the Mecca of British Gothdom. Whitby Abbey? The place that inspired Bram Stoker? Spiritual home of Dracula? I’m a Vampire wannabe, supposedly. The New Age shop that just fired me wanted me to dress the part, so here I am, all swirling woolen cape, bloodred lips, and dark brows.” 

“Vampires thrive on war and bloodshed, and with every year their king is missing, their bloodlust gets worse. They are the deadliest, most despised of species, and you are soft and curvy in all the right places, but you look like you’d break in battle. And who is this Bram Stoker? Is he the one who spoiled your day?” 

Wow! Was that another compliment buried beneath all that disdain? I could definitely get used to this. 

She shot him a quick, puzzled glance, then grinned and shook her head. “Stoker’s the man who invented Dracula. And I messed up when I told some idiot teenager she didn’t need to be sky-clad to work her spells. She told me her so-called coven, mostly her gullible school friends, meets up on the North Yorkshire Moors. I mean, it’s bleak up there even on midsummer’s eve, and spell-craft doesn’t need gale-force winds and goose bumps to work. How was I supposed to know she’d take the hump? Or that her uncle was the head of the town council? Anyway, my boss’s planning application comes up next week, and she needs him on her side. She kind of lost it when little Miss I Know More About Witchcraft Than You kicked up a fuss. In fact, my boss called me stupid and fired me on the spot.” 

Leonidas frowned. “We do not speak the same language, even though the words are the same. No wonder the Fae hate this world. Return my dragonet, and I’ll leave.” 

Lipstick mewled, coiled his tail around Meena’s leg, and rummaged in her bag with his snout. 

“Greedy guts.” She laughed. “Sorry, sweetie, I’m all out of cheese sandwiches. Time you went home. Besides, if any tourists spotted the pair of you, they’d freak.” 

Fae usually looked as if they were sucking ice cubes, but she’d have sworn Sexy and Gorgeous over there just rolled his eyes at her. 

“Human eyes can perceive neither me nor my dragon, but you do. Again, what are you?” His tone was long-suffering, so cold she shivered beneath her thick woolen cloak. 

“Peeved, fed up, and angry,” Meena answered. She turned her back and wrapped her arms around the dragon’s neck. “So long, Lipstick. Be good for Daddy. And you. Feed your beast when you get home.” 

She gave the dragon’s ears a final scratch, and when he uncoiled his tail, it dropped so low it brushed the ground. With a rueful smile, she stepped back--straight into the Fae warrior’s arms. 

“You dare attack me?” he teased, more sexual predator than lethal warrior. 

There he went with the lightning-storm thing again. Up close, she could feel his magic tingle over her skin, and she basked in a taste of everything her life lacked. Everything the Witch Council had stripped from her. Her heart fluttered, and her lips parted. Her breasts perked up, and her cunt ached with need. Truthfully, if she only knew whether she was immortal, she’d have taken a lover or two by now, but she didn’t dare risk falling for a man she’d outlive by centuries. 

“Love me,” he demanded. “Open your legs for me, and let me make recompense for my previous angry words.” 

Where the hell had that come from? One minute he stared at her with murder in his eyes, and the next he wanted to screw her senseless. She should shove him off and tell him to get stuffed, but the beauty running though his voice enthralled her. Her nipples pearled, and she’d have given anything to feel his mouth on her breasts or his fingers on her clit. 

His arm locked like a steel band around her waist. Was that his cock pressing against her back? He must be one well-endowed male if she could feel it through her cloak. When he ran a trail of kisses down her neck, spikes of pleasure tingled through her spine. She moaned and moved in closer, and even that small surrender made her pussy clench and demand more. What in the name of the Goddess was she doing? Getting close to a Fae was madness--even one who made her ache with wicked, wanton desires. 

Pushing him away was the hardest thing she’d ever done, but she refused to be some passing Fae’s easy lay. “Get your hands off me, jackass. I’d never willingly touch you, especially not after you’ve just handled fresh meat. Besides, you’re the one who crowded against me.” 

“Aggressive argumentative female.” He stepped closer and nibbled at her earlobe. “You definitely attacked me, and I demand a forfeit.” 

Copyright © Kryssie Fortune

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Five Facts Thursday - please welcome Lizzie Tremaine

Five facts about my writing

What do I hope the reader takes from my book?
First, I'm hoping they feel great for having a satisfying ending, and second, that they have learned more about the history of the Old West, the people from many backgrounds who made up the early American West: Indians, Scots, Poles, Russians, and about horses! I got the idea for the book after we'd just returned from Poland and was thinking of the Polish Immigrants as I researched one of my favourite things, the Pony Express and the history around the time it was running in America. Did you know the 'Pony', as it was called only lasted for eighteen months, and several of those months, it wasn't running at all because of the Indian attacks?

Have I always wanted to be a writer?
When I was seven, I decided to become an equine (horse) veterinarian. A little later, I heard one needed good grades for that… Sooooo…I stuck to it and made it happen, despite everything that came along! Writing? I've always liked writing, but it was mostly personal journals (I have one I've kept since I was 14…plenty of story material there!). After veterinary school, I wrote for horse magazines and veterinary journals. There were stories in me, but I was too busy to seriously contemplate them, being a solo mum of two with my own solo equine veterinary practice and a farm. Still have the rest, but they're older now, and after a serious injury, had to rethink my life. Now, I'm a writer… I take it seriously! I am just starting out, however, and must still feed my family until it takes off! Following an injury four years ago, I've limited my time in my equine veterinary dental specialty practice and I relief-teach chemistry, biology and physics at local colleges.

What inspired me to write A Long Trail Rolling?
My love for history, the Pony Express, the wilds of my country of origin, horses, adventure and veterinary medicine. When I was a young teen, I wanted to enter a long distance horse race running over the Pony Express Trail, from coast to coast. It didn't eventuate, but in A Long Trail Rolling, Aleksandra gets to do what I dreamed of doing.

Who is my literary hero?  
My three favourites have to be Laura Ingalls Wilder, for her stories gave me a real picture of what life was for a young girl growing up in the pioneer times of the American Midwest. They provided me with a sense of where I'd come from, a sense of place, and reinforced core values. We had a wonderful teacher named Mary Catherine Sears, who read the entire series to us every year.  Phillipa Gregory's Factual Fiction shows me just how much history can be learned from reading fiction. Bob Mayer has to be my biggest literary hero, for the tremendous work he does teaching so many writers how to self-publish and do a cracking job of it! Phenomenal.

What's next?
I'm working on the next two books of my Long Trail Series, a quadrilogy of historical adventure sagas following my characters from the wilderness of 1860 Utah to Colonial New Zealand. The Hills of Gold Unchanging is the second. The third, A Sea of Green Unfolding, will follow and research is in progress for the fourth, A Bold Country Evolving. They are factual adventure fiction stories, rich in historical detail, following the escapades of Aleksandra and Xavier as they travel through the1860's. Some would call the first two Westerns, featuring 1860's Utah desert, the Pony Express, the Virginia City Comstock Lode and California Malakoff Diggins. The third details history of Redwood City and La Honda, CA and 1863 New Zealand, at the start of the Waikato Wars, and the fourth continues in New Zealand as war continues to wrack the young nation.

See my webpage for details!  http://lizzitremayne.com/the-long-trails-series/

Buy Link: http://lizzitremayne.com/store/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/A-Long-Trail-Rolling/588148927951917
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/lizzitremayne/


She didn’t expect to become a target, but she is one now!

It might have been the mare that did it, stopping dead in her tracks, nearly dropping Aleksandra over her shoulder, or maybe it was the flies that buzzed around the blood pooling beneath the butchered man in the Pony Express station doorway. Whichever it was, it got her full attention.

Seventeen year old Aleksandra, trained in the Cossack arts from infancy by her father, finds herself alone and running to prevent her Pa's killer from obtaining a secret coveted by the Russian Czar, one which could alter the forces of power in Europe. Disguised as a Pony Express rider in 1860's Utah Territory, she finds herself in even deeper trouble when she rides full speed into the middle of the Indian Paiute Wars. Her Californio boss Xavier has a strength to match her own, but can they overcome their differences before the ever-increasing odds overtake them?
With this debut Western Historical Adventure, Lizzi Tremayne won the 2014 RWNZ Pacific Hearts Award and was a finalist in the 2013 Great Beginnings. A saga of the Old West with a multicultural cast of those who make up America, it would interest readers who enjoy Westerns, horses, American Indians, immigrants, and the Pony Express. It has a capable heroine, strong historical detail, period veterinary treatment and frontier-pushing characters. It has been compared to the work of Phillipa Gregory, Diana Gabaldon and Jean Auel, with a little Laura Ingalls Wilder thrown in.
The Series:       This novel is the first in The Long Trail quadrilogy of historical adventure sagas 
following Aleksandra and Xavier from the wilderness of 1860 Utah to Colonial New Zealand. 


Lookout Pass, she reminded herself as she neared the summit. Glancing north to the distant white tops of the Onaqui Mountains, she swallowed hard as she thought again of her papa and the fossil he'd fossicked for her from its rocky ledges.
The spotted pony broke into a lope over the crest of the hill and began the mile-long descent. Aleksandra's thoughts filled with memories, she was absentmindedly fingering the fossil inside the medicine bag hung about her neck when she felt the first arrow whizz past her head.
Her heart stopped in its tracks and she flung herself to the left side of the Palouse's neck in a Cossack hang, lying flat against his side.
'Yah! Yah! Let's go, Scout!' she shouted, throwing the reins at him.
He needed little urging to run full tilt down the steep and treacherously rocky trail as the yells of Indian warriors echoed through the narrow valley. The arrows came hard and fast from the southwest, screaming like a mad bunch of hornets.
Smart. Her lips curved in the hint of a wry grin.
The Indians had placed themselves between the trail and the setting sun, so Aleksandra couldn't see her attackers in the glimpses she stole,from beneath Scout's neck, of the world whizzing past. With the ground only three feet from her head, the scent of sage filled her nostrils when Scout crashed through a clump of brush. Briefly considering letting go of one of her death-grip holds onto the racing horse to pull a gun from her holster, something akin to suicide, she tightened her lip in a grimace and stayed put, trusting far more in the Palouse's speed and handiness to save them. Knowing her weight hanging off to one side had to put him off his best, she tried to stay out of his way, keeping as still as possible, tucked down on the side of the skidding and leaping beast. Praying the cinch would hold, she sent fervent thanks to the pony selectors for their choice of horses.
How I'd love to have my bow and arrows, but I only need to get us through to Doc Faust at Rush
The Palouse interrupted her musings as he threw up his head and reared, angrily trumpeting and shaking his head for a moment, nearly dropping Aleksandra, then resumed his headlong rush down the hill. When he carried on, she heard whistling sounds with every breath and turned her face forward to see where the noise was coming from.

Then she saw the arrow.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Smut by the Sea.

I stumbled on this event on Triberr, but boy, am I glad I did. Victoria and Kevin Bliss put their hearts and souls into the day, and it showed.
Here’s how my day went.
I took the 7:15 train from Leeds to Scarborough. Across the aisle another lone female traveller and I exchanged smiles. She was a smutter too, I was sure of it, but how do you ask a stranger if they’re into smut? I’m up for most things, but that was beyond me.
Scarborough’s one of my favorite seaside towns and the setting for my book Knights Vampire. In the book I had to change its name to Whitborough since I gave the castle a whole new history and a few vampires of course. .
We met on the top floor of the central library. How many libraries have signs pointing upstairs and saying Smut? Anyone wandering in to change a book must have thought they’d opened a porn section.
The day kicked off with a reading blast, where authors read five minutes from one of their books. If they overran they received a spanking from Cara Sutra—but some of them definitely enjoyed that.
I think my favorite quote of the day came from Anna Sky. “I’d always wished for a cock, but I should have wished for one I could play with.”
Bella Sattarra came dressed as cowgirl for her reading while partner sported a Stetson and a six-gun. He looked every inch the gallant cowboy. Hmm…can I persuade my husband will dress as a werewolf for the next one?

 After a short break, Bea Noir performed with her bed of nails. Everyone winced when she started to do the splits over it—and you should have seen what she did with a cucumber.
Then it was time for the first workshop of the day, Kinking up the Past, led by Slave Nano. He’d brought document and pictures from the past to base stories around. The photograph of the lady parachutist from the 1900s—yes, really—sparked his story about a lesbian encounter in the basket of a balloon.
Etta Stark had shared a spanking excerpt from one of her historicals earlier, but any bride who tells her husband “Let’s get it over with” on their wedding night deserves everything she gets. Readings over, I headed to the beach with Etta and Ashe “Your powers of recovery will show just how much of a slut you are” Barker.

 Then we headed back to watch Blue Belle perform her burlesque—and guess what? She was my train lady.
Another reading slam, and we went to Jennifer Denys’s workshop on researching werewolves. Ideas flew thick and fast. My favorite came from Charlie when he invented lycanally challenged Russians who can only change when there’s snow on the ground. Guess we’re talking Siberia then.
Ever talked to a self-styled phone whore? Cameryn Moore shared her experience working on a sex line and producing pavement smut. Her quick wits, straight talking, and ready sense of humor were a great way to finish up the day. Her delaying tactic of fast breathing and gasping when a customer takes her by surprise will stick with me forever.

After a cover quiz and a chance to win tickets for the Sexhibition in Manchester on 21st to 23rd October our day ended with a visit to the local pub.

Did I say I won on the Erotic Tombola? I have new lube to try, and although my husband might not be into dressing as a werewolf—thanks to my goody bag—he has a cock ring to try. 

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Five Facts Thursday - please welcome Rachael Kosinski

Five facts about myself.

1. I am extremely uncoordinated: there’s a scar on my knee from when I tripped over a puddle; I stumbled over a shadow once because I thought it was my dog…if you can picture someone falling shamefully, that’s me. 

2. I actually draw as much as I write. I drew before I wrote; I even considered going to college to be an animator. Creating a graphic novel is a possibility on my bucket list.   
3. I'm a very inexperienced driver. I come from a family of race car drivers, who build cars and race go-karts and everything. I just hate driving. I can barely keep my own body from stumbling into something, so I get nervous when I’m maneuvering a huge hunk of metal right next to other hunks of metal. Not fun! 

4. I spent nine days in Peru the week after I graduated high school. This included speaking so much Spanish it was hard to stop when I got back to the States, late night card games in a Cuzco hostel, waging a pebble war at Sacsayhuamán with the tour guide, and running around Machu Picchu. 

5. The only thing I've gotten published so far, a novella called "The Christmas Lights," was something I wrote in roughly two weeks and was simply a Christmas present for my mom. I sent it to two different publishers just to see what happened, and it got published! Pretty much still thanking my lucky stars for that. 

“Where do Christmas lights come from?” 
Those tiny bulbs of color that burn on a Christmas tree, 
Or outside a house to shine in the night. 
Does anyone really know where they originate? 
What if someone told you 
They weren’t intended for Christmas at all, 
But really for a miracle? 
That they were for love, a desperate idea, to light a boy’s way home? 
In that case, you must have some questions. What boy? What love? 
Have a seat. Allow me to tell you a story.


“Because your father requires…a dowry, of sorts. A guarantee you’ll be well taken care of.” 
Emmy’s hand turned sweaty. “Oh, Louis. What does that mean?” 
I swallowed the sour taste at the back of my mouth, nerves trembling in my fingers. “Our engagement lasts until December twenty-fifth. If by that time I’ve not returned—” 
“Returned?” Emmy’s gaze burned me. “Louis, where are you going? Won’t my father give you a job?” 
I didn’t move and barely opened my mouth to let the words escape. “He’s got me a job.” 
I loosened my shoulders and shrugged. “Marks Brothers pays their floor workers very well.” 
“I’d stack inventory outside, in the clean air, and I’d work with a few fellows who’d watch out for me…” “Louis!” 
“…I hear factories in London are much safer than here.” 
“London! Louis, Louis, what are you talking about?” Emmy grabbed my face. 
I squinted at two sparkling brown orbs. Was she crying? 
“No.” Emmy covered her mouth with a hand. “No, you aren’t going to London. How could you? No one loves you there. No one knows you there…”
Your father seems to think it is my home country. 
“Emmy. Emmy Emmy Emmy.” I held her close, stroking her hair. “I don’t plan to work there.” 
She sat back. “What?” 
“I’ve heard Mr. Godfrey talk about them. A London factory is the last place I should work. Your father means well, but I can’t do that. They wouldn’t take a blind boy.” 
“Wh-where will you go, then? How on earth will you make money?” 
“I have family in Paris. Mother says they have wine vineyards. I’ll work for them.” 
“That…” Emmy’s fingers traced the veins on the back of my hand. “That’s much safer.” She was silent for the longest time. “You’ll be safe? And come home quickly?” 
I pulled her hands away and stood, playing with the ring on her finger. “I will. I love you.” 
“Emmy. I don’t have a choice. You want to marry me, don’t you?” 
“Of course I do. But, Louis…” 
“Yes, love?” 
“How long will you be gone?” How long? How long to board a ship, to find a place I’d only heard about, to earn and save an impossible amount of money? How long, indeed. 

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Five Facts Thursday - please welcome Jessica Cale

Jessica Cale’s Five Facts About Women in Restoration London

1.    Women used to box. London’s lowest classes boxed for entertainment more than a hundred years before it became a popular sport. Men boxed in prize fights in places like Southwark’s Bear Garden, but women boxed for money, dresses, gin, and even men. They were often stripped to the waist to do it, which may have contributed to its popularity as a spectator sport.

2.    Childbirth was the most common cause of death for women. Nearly half of the female population died during or as a direct result of childbirth. Fire was the second most common cause of death, as houses were lit with candles, heated by hearths, and most cooking was done over open flame, and skirts caught fire easily.

3.    Cosmetics existed and were commonly worn. One of the most popular cosmetics was ceruse, a sort of foundation made from white lead. It was applied with a cloth over a base of egg whites and set with powder. Although it created the illusion of a perfect complexion, it took on a gray tinge the longer it was worn, and it could cause serious skin damage and even lead poisoning.

4.    Virginity wasn’t everything. Both sexes tended to wait until they were financially independent before they married, often waiting until they were in their late twenties or older, but they commonly lived together before they married, sometimes for years. It may have been required to ensure succession for highest classes, but for common people, it just wasn’t that big of a deal.

Women worked. Some women worked, but their opportunities were severely limited. Women could work in service, in bars, as brewers, as midwives, or wet nurses, but they were paid a great deal less than men. They were expected to have someone providing for them with their wages going on extra luxuries only, so it was difficult if not impossible for a women to survive on her own wages, let alone to support a family. Many women turned to prostitution and crime to support themselves. Women were treated as men were for breaking the law, imprisoned in the same gaols, and executed at Tyburn along with male convicts.


From toiling for pennies to bare-knuckle boxing, a lady is prepared for every eventuality.


     Lady Jane Ramsey is young, beautiful and ruined.
     After being rescued from her kidnapping by a handsome highwayman, she returns home only to find her marriage prospects drastically reduced. Her father expects her to marry the repulsive Lord Lewes, but Jane has other plans. All she can think about is her highwayman, and she is determined to find him again.
     Mark Virtue is trying to go straight. After years of robbing coaches and surviving on his wits, he knows it’s time to hang up his pistol and become the carpenter he was trained to be. He busies himself with finding work for his neighbors and improving his corner of Southwark as he tries to forget the girl who haunts his dreams. As a carpenter struggling to stay in work in the aftermath of The Fire, he knows Jane is unfathomably far beyond his reach, and there’s no use wishing for the impossible.
     When Jane turns up in Southwark, Mark is furious. She has no way of understanding just how much danger she has put them in by running away. In spite of his growing feelings for her, he knows that Southwark is no place for a lady. Jane must set aside her lessons to learn a new set of rules if she is to make a life for herself in the crime-ridden slum. She will fight for her freedom and her life if that’s what it takes to prove to Mark—and to herself—that there’s more to her than meets the eye.

Other Books in This Series

Tyburn (The Southwark Saga, Book 1): Notorious harlot Sally Green fights for survival in Restoration London. When a brutal attack throws them together, Sally is torn between the tutor who saves her and the highwayman who keeps her up at night; between new love and an old need for revenge. Winner of the Southern Magic Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence 2015.

Barnes & Noble

Author Bio

Jessica Cale is a historical romance author and journalist based in North Carolina. Originally from Minnesota, she lived in Wales for several years where she earned a BA in History and an MFA in Creative Writing while climbing castles and photographing mines for history magazines. She kidnaped (“married”) her very own British prince (close enough) and is enjoying her happily ever after with him in a place where no one understands his accent. You can visit her at www.authorjessicacale.com.

Social Media Links

Excerpts (please choose one! :) )

Excerpt 1: Mark’s dream (310) (Rating: R)

The girl was beautiful.
She had him pinned to the bed. He was helpless beneath her hands. Her long fingers spanned his chest, tracing the line where the muscle dipped and gave way to shoulder. A hint of a smile played on her lips, more than just a little bit wicked. Kiss-crushed and sherry red, they were the sweetest thing he’d ever tasted.
“Like this?” She shifted back onto his hip bones.
She hovered above him like a conquering angel, all of the fearsome beauty of heaven in her laughing eyes, as gray and deadly as any steel. He could see the evidence of her ferocity in the iron poker that still projected from the door behind her head, a temptation as much as a warning.
“Getting there.” He grinned.
His hands rested on the curve of her waist, his rough, tanned skin a stark contrast to her smooth flesh, luminous and pale as the moon.
“More,” she moaned, rocking against him.
The bed slammed noisily against the wall, an insistent rapping that increased in frequency, strangely unconnected to the movements of her hips.
Somewhere in the distance, the sound of a saw.
Mark became aware of the bedclothes tangled around his legs. The stench of the river replaced the scent of her skin. She flickered as she bent over him with a sly smile, her hair falling around him like a curtain of copper silk. He was moments away from a bone-shattering orgasm. Just a little bit longer. She increased her pace, her breath quickening as she neared her peak. Her lips hovered above his, close enough to kiss, but somehow out of reach.
Her hips flickered under his hands and he heard the warble of a flock of geese.
“Jane,” he gasped, reaching out to grasp her as she disappeared, and finding only bed linen beneath his hand.

Excerpt 2: Fight in the shop (long excerpt) (1100) (PG-13)

She hung up the dress, admiring her handiwork. It was not something she would willingly wear, but she hoped the lady would be pleased with the final result. She heard the front door behind her as she bent to pluck a stray thread from the skirt. “We’ve shut for the day,” she called over her shoulder.
When she heard no response, she turned.
Mark Virtue stood behind the counter, his hand still on the doorknob. His long brown coat hung open over his dusty work clothes, the undyed linen of his shirt straining across his broad chest. That chest, a warm expanse of smooth skin over hard, sculpted muscle, was a work of art. Though she had willed herself to forget him, her hands remembered.
Her lips remembered, too.
She licked them with the tip of her tongue, her mouth gone quite dry.
“I didn’t believe it,” he said, his gaze moving from her shapeless leather shoes to her dirty, gloveless hands. Jane looked down, suddenly aware of her shabby work dress. Compared to the other gowns he had seen her in, it was little more than a rag, really. She had braided her hair over her shoulder to keep it out of her stitching and now she wondered what she must look like to him. She touched the end of her braid self-consciously, a touch of embarrassment coloring her cheeks.
She cursed herself for her embarrassment. She had as much right to be here as anyone, and she was done apologizing to Mark Virtue. She straightened her spine and looked him square in his devastatingly blue eyes.
Her knees may have trembled a bit. She did a good job of hiding it. “Well?”
Mark stepped toward the counter. “I sent you back to your father not a fortnight past.”
She shrugged, borrowing the gesture from Carys. “I didn’t go.”
“I see that.”
He paced around the side of the counter while maintaining what little distance he could in the close quarters of the shop.
Jane stepped back, hiding the toes of her soft leather shoes under the hem of her dress. Her slippers may have been stolen, but she still had her silk stockings. She wore them even now, not that he needed to know that.
He had rather liked them, if she remembered correctly.
She swallowed. “What do you want?”
He raised his eyebrows in surprise. “I’ve come to see the new shop girl everyone’s talking about. You look the part, I’ll give you that. Perhaps a touch more dirt, just here...” He brushed her skirt.
Jane crossed her arms over her chest. “Is that what you think this is? You think I’m pretending?”
“Rather unconvincingly, I’m afraid. All the shapeless dresses in the world couldn’t disguise the fact that you’re a lady. Lowering yourself to wield a needle doesn’t make you one of us.”
Jane clenched her jaw. “I’ve as much right to be here as you do.”
“You have no right,” he insisted. “You can’t play at being poor. This is life to these people. This is my life. You think I ought to stand by while you make a mockery of it by working in a place like this when you can leave anytime you please?”
“I’m not going anywhere,” she nearly shouted. “I told you, Mark, I gave it up. Believe it folly if you will, but it changes nothing. I am never going back.”
Mark looked away. “Give it a fortnight.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“Give it a fortnight,” he repeated. “Work, and struggle, and starve with the rest of us if that is what you think you want. You weren’t made for this world any more than I was made for yours. Sooner or later, you’ll be desperate to go home.”
“I am home,” Jane said through her teeth. “I’m staying here.”
“How long do you suppose you can last alone in a bastard sanctuary with no money and no protection? How do you expect to live?”
“I have a job, in case you were not aware.” She threw out her arms to indicate the shop. “I work day and night, and I have a little apartment with a door that locks. I’ll make do.”
He tilted his head, looking at her curiously. “In two weeks on your own? Maybe you’ve got a protector after all.”
Jane might have been naïve, but she knew exactly what he was implying, and she didn’t like it. She felt the anger rush to her face, unbidden and terrifying in its intensity. She took a deep breath. “Get out.”
“Jane, be reasonable.”
Her face burned. “You’d like me to stand here while you question my virtue? You of all people? You had no trouble dispensing with it when you thought me an actress!”
Mark gave a long sigh. “For that I apologize. I was a fool. I never should have thought that someone like you...” He motioned toward her helplessly.
“Someone like me? Who might that be? Am I a lady? Am I a seamstress? Am I a whore? You don’t seem to like me as any of these things, so why don’t you tell me, Mark, who I ought to be. What kind of a woman am I?”
He took her wrists in his hands and held them to his chest, the irritation in his face replaced by something that looked a bit like shame. “That’s not what I meant.” He lowered his voice, his face close enough that she could smell the tobacco in his clothes. “Do as you please. It makes no difference to me.”
Jane’s fingers spanned his chest of their own accord, responding to his warmth. “It doesn’t?”
He shook his head, his eyes settling on her lips. “I don’t want you to get hurt,” he confessed.
She resisted the urge to lean into him with some difficulty. “I’ve done fine this far.”
“Have you?” He took her hand, turning her palm upwards to examine the damage: pinpricks, swollen fingertips, the ghosts of calluses forming where she grasped the shears.
She tugged her hand away from him but he didn’t let go. He held her gaze, his eyes searching hers, and she was struck again by their extraordinary color. Deep blue, green, and grey, shifted across his irises in restless, churning waves, the color of a storm on the river. They darkened as he raised her hand to his mouth and kissed the palm, the touch of his lips like a balm on her sore skin.
Jane held her breath, waiting to drown.
He smiled his crooked smile, a touch of condescension in the corners. “If all you wanted was another night, you didn’t have to go to such trouble.”

Excerpt 3: Prison (450) (PG/PG-13)

A key popped into the lock and the door opened with a creak. A turnkey stood guard in the narrow entrance, as if he was afraid Mark would escape.
Mark almost laughed. They’d put him in the heavy shackles they reserved for those who had escaped and been recaptured. It was Harry who was the escape artist, but Mark wouldn’t correct them. It was good that they thought he was a threat.
He was.
The turnkey carried a lantern bright enough for Mark to see his shining eyes and a shit-eating grin. “Someone likes you,” he said.
Mark rolled his eyes. “You tell Tilly that there’s not enough bread in Christendom—”
He trailed off as he saw a slender white hand emerge from the shadows of the hall to drop a coin into the turnkey’s palm. “For his shackles,” said a girl’s voice in a coarse accent he didn’t recognize.
“You want them on or off?”
“Off!” she snapped.
Mark raised an eyebrow. “You’ve got the wrong cell, mate. I’m not expecting anyone.”
The turnkey leered. “Can I keep her, then?”
“Can you hell!” the girl protested. “I was sent for Mister Mark Virtue only. Bought and paid for. Hands off!”
The girl stepped into the light. The thin cloak she wore over it was for warmth more than modesty; a man would have to be blind not to see the body beneath it. Her lush curves were cinched into a scandalously low-cut dress the color of burnished gold, her flawless skin glowing in the warm light of the lantern. A yard or so of shining auburn hair spilled out of the hood that shadowed her face. Even had she kept it covered, he would have known her from the way his blood sang in her presence.
She glanced up at him from beneath the hood and he saw it.
The glint of steel in her eyes.
“This is only a shilling,” said the turnkey. “That’ll get you the hands or the feet. Not both.”
She arched an eyebrow at Mark. “Which is it? Hands or feet?”
Mark didn’t take his eyes off of her as the turnkey bent to unlock the shackles around his ankles.
“The lantern’s extra,” he said as he stood.
“Don’t need it,” Mark dismissed, rubbing his ankles.
“That’s a shame. She’s a treat! I’ll come get her later then. Wish I had friends like yours, Mark.” He closed the door behind him, and Mark heard the bolt slide into the lock with a heavy click.
He was locked in a cell in near perfect darkness with Jane Ramsey.
“It’s not my birthday.” He smiled.