Follow the secret lives of Moonlighters Carrie Hinkel-Gill and Margay Leah Justice.
For website issues or questions, contact our Webmistress.
This blog works best with Mozilla. Scroll down to see today's blog.
Please Disable the Java add-on to your browsers to protect yourself from it's security flaws! Happy surfing!
Our Fantasy Files blog returns with a new look!
It's Tuesday, and that means Hollie posted a new review on our Book Review blog! Be sure to check them out!

Current Releases

Buy: Sloane Wolf by Margay; Nora's Soul by Margay; Pandora's Box by Gracen; Hell's Phoenix by Gracen

Video of the Day

We Are Young - Fun

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wistful Wednesday

Weather or Not

Greetings from my little corner of water-logged New England! As you may have already guessed from my title, I am going to talk about the weather and its connection to writing. I can't speak for other writers, of course, but I can say that I am one of those authors whose writing is - or more precisely, the pursuit of - is affected by what is happening beyond my window.

Let me explain. When the skies are gray and cry tears of rain for days on end, I have a tendency toward feeling sad, which may or may not lead to me putting my characters in depressing (for them) situations. It's difficult to write happy scenes when everything around you is just wet and gray. I know, I know, people in drought-ridden places are probably thinking, Why are you complaining? We need water! Well, on behalf of every person in Massachusetts and Rhode Island who now have water front property courtesy of Mother Nature, I say, Come and get some! We would gladly share.

Okay, side effect number two: All of this rain makes me kind of cranky. I apologize in advance and hope I don't offend anyone.

The flipside of all this rain is too much sun. And yes, New England is noted for its occasional heatwaves (okay, at least one a year). Contrary beings that we are, we New Englanders will be begging for a little rain once our temps hit the high mark for more than three days straight. So we're fickle. Some would say that's a good trait. For a New Englander - or anyone considering living in this little corner of the world - being adaptable is a necessity. With the way our weather fluctuates from one extreme to the other - sometimes within the same day - one has to be able to adjust to it. And quickly. If you don't, you could be caught unawares and nobody wants that. But how does too much of a good thing affect your writing, you might wonder. Simple: Who wants to write when they are melting from the sun?

So there are two examples of how the weather can affect what you write - or if you write. Can you think of any others? And how does the weather influence you and your pursuits? Please leave your thoughts in the comments and I promise I will take occasional breaks from building my Ark to read them.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Never Say Never

I was just getting to know Aleksandr Voinov when he casually mentioned a couple of sci-fi anthologies he was putting together for Noble Romance, one M/M and the other M/F. Now I don’t know about you, but there’s always been one genre I’d sworn never to write, and for me that genre was sci-fi.

Why? I’m not sure. Sci-fi was something I read and watched in my childhood and teens. A steady diet of Doctor Who and The Tripods gave way to Star Trek: The Next Generation, the Dune series by Frank Herbert, and various manga and anime series, but after that I abandoned the genre. For whatever reason, I told myself I’d never write sci-fi. After all, I’m a historian, not a scientist; my brain can barely comprehend simple mathematics, so the thought of grappling with the laws of quantum physics made me want to run screaming for the hills.

So when I read Alex’s email, I should have said, “Thanks, but no thanks”, right?

Right. But I didn’t. I decided this was an opportunity to challenge myself to come up with a sci-fi story. Even if it turned out to be a load of old bilge, at least I’d tried it. I believe no story written is ever wasted--you learn something from everything you write, even if you’re the only person ever to see it--so I figured I had nothing to lose.

That decision made, I then flailed madly over the many sub-genres of sci-fi. I didn’t want to write about space ships or alien tentacle monsters or robots because I don’t think I have the world-building skills to pull that off. So with hard sci-fi out, I turned to soft sci-fi, and remembering how I used to love Masamune Shirow’s manga (Appleseed, Dominion: Tank Police, Ghost in the Shell), I thought I’d try my hand at soft cyberpunk.

The first draft was rubbish. I had my characters--Toki, a half Japanese, half Chinese genetic upgrade and his ex-husband Ismail, half Scots, half Arab--and I’d picked a futuristic Edinburgh as the setting. The first version was too dark and cynical, and I had to remind myself that there was supposed to be a romance in the story! So I scrapped it and started again.

This time, it just flowed. The story unfolded so cleanly in front of me, I knew this was the one. I don’t regret losing that first draft--I’d been trying so hard to write what I perceived of as a ‘sci-fi story’ that I’d lost sight of the goal. Working outside of my comfort zone had made me blunder, but taking that wrong turning helped me, as the second version of Conduit turned out much stronger for it.

The story was accepted, and it joins three others (including stories about robots, space ships, and aliens, if not alien tentacle monsters) in Noble Romance’s M/M anthology Echoes of the Future. I’m really glad I took the chance to try something different--and never again will I say “I can’t write X” until I’ve tried it.

So what about you? Have you got a genre you absolutely won’t write? Have you ever gone out of your comfort zone and tried a completely different genre? How was the experience for you? I’d love to know!

Echoes of the Future
Edited by Aleksandr Voinov
Burn by Aleksandr Voinov
Flight Lieutenant Chris Waters is the pilot of a cutting-edge unmanned SAD fighter drone that is used for secret government missions. Chris is cutting-edge technology himself: his neural network is upgraded with cyber-technology and software that makes him the interface of his combat drone.
Then, something goes wrong as he connects to his drone. Haunted by strange, disorientating impressions, a so-called 'ghost', he hooks up on leave with fellow pilot Cyril for a night. But Cyril is not the man Chris thought he is, and Chris soon finds out what the 'ghost' in his body really is, as well as the truth about his missions.
Conduit by Kate Cotoner
Ismail and his ex-husband Toki are divided by class and circumstance. Toki is a cybernetic upgrade human and part of the city elite, while Ismail is a baseline human and a cop. Their brief marriage failed when Toki walked out, but now he's back, asking for Ismail's help against Hanuman, a malicious cyber-intelligence who plans to poison the water supply of all baseline humans in the city. Now Ismail and Toki must find the underground reservoir targeted by Hanuman before time runs out for them both.
Rescue Me by Jude Mason
Assigned to guard Leetchi Ambassador Dar and his family, Lieutenant Thomas Patch finds himself inexplicably drawn to Jad, the diplomat's son. The tall, slender Leetchi turns out to be as gay as Patch and steals his heart. When Jad is kidnapped, Patch goes undercover to find and rescue him. The rescue takes him to the underbelly of the space port city and a whore house where slaves are bought and sold at will. Finding Jad proves easier than he'd hoped, but the rescue takes an insane twist when their escape attempt is thwarted by the one person they knew was on their side.
Will Jad's enslavement tear the lovers apart? Will Patch be torn from the love of his life? Find out, in Rescue Me.
Reversal by A. B. Gayle
Sebastian is bored. He has another five years of lone duty supervising his family's robots on their space station. The last thing he wants to do is the housework. For Christmas, his mother sends him a Domestic Darling cyborg. True to form, she purchases a factory second and sends one that doesn't quite fit the bill. Instead of being a pert blond with big tits and a cute ass like in the advertisement, this one is six foot tall and built like a Greek god, a very virile Greek God. In an attempt to improve its functioning, Sebastian uses some of his brilliant programming skills. The resulting changes ensure Sebastian will never be bored again.

Read an excerpt of ‘Conduit’ here

Monday, March 29, 2010

Mystic Monday

Mad, Bad and Blonde!
Cathie Framed

Does that describe author Cathie Linz?

I don't know her well enough to say one way or the other! However, it does happen to be the title of her latest release!

Released for sale on March 2 of this year, it's just beginning to crop up on library shelves and it will no doubt be awhile before I can get my hands on a copy!

Smart Girls Think TwiceAnyway, the first time we here at Moonlight, Lace and Mayhem first heard of this book and it's hero, Caine Hunter, was last June when Cathie spent some time with us to talk about her then current release, Smart Girls Think Twice. I loved that story, and I am equally sure that Mad, Bad and Blonde will be an equally rewarding read!

In Mad, Bad and Blonde, Cathie leaves the town of Rock Creek for Chicago. But the journey doesn't stop there because the main character, Faith West, is mad that she's been dumped and left at the altar because she wasn't "fun enough." Well, in a very Under the Tuscan Sun moment [I so love that movie!], Faith opts to go on her Italian honeymoon, alone! Hey, I think I'd do the same thing if I was her!

Cathie's novels are fun to read not only because of the page-turning excitement that you'll find between the covers, but because the dialogue is fast-paced. There is never a dull moment in her stories and the dialogue keeps the story movie ahead! I guess Cathie writes by the adage, "a rolling stone gathers no moss." Well, it's not a bad adage to write by. I guarantee you that if you pick up a Cathie Linz novel, you'll laugh, you'll get mad, and you might even cry just a little if the situation calls for it, but in the end, you will enjoy the ride she takes you on!

Now that you know a little bit about Cathie's new book, let's learn a little bit about her and see how she answers our Mystic March Questions!

ME: March has a few popular dates to celebrate. Which one are you more apt to celebrate, St. Patrick’s Day, or the First Day of Spring, or both and why?

CATHIE: St.Patrick’s Day, but I do some spring decorations too –see the photos

Bunnies Tea Kettle & Bunnies

ME: Because of it’s Irish heritage, St. Patrick’s Day is a big party day in Wisconsin (and many other areas) in which everyone gets in on the action from free pub crawl busses to breweries making green beer/spirits and some stores selling green colored/decorated food and sweets. Does anything similar occur in your area? Even if you do not participate, please tell us what activities are going on around you. Anything you feel is unique or especially interesting?

CATHIE: In Chicago they dye the Chicago River green, which is pretty cool. And the beer commercial said we are all Chi-rish on St. Patricks Day.

ME: Do you like to decorate for spring/St. Pat’s Day or is this the time of the year where your house has a break from special décor?

CATHIE: I didn’t decorate this year but do sometimes.

ME: Ireland is steeped in myth, legends and lore. Do you have any favorites? Please briefly share them with us (include links to other information for interested readers).

CATHIE: One of my fave things is the music and dance – I am a huge fan of “Riverdance” and highly recommend everyone go see that!

ME: Spring is considered a time of renewal, a time of rebirth. Do you do anything “special” to commemorate this idea such as planting flowers or cleaning out your house? Please share with us your way of celebrating this time of rebirth.

kitty and bunnyCATHIE: Flowers are nice but the cats insist oN either eating them or knocking the vase over

ME: Magic is often tied into Celtic myths and legends, or at least we like to think it is. Why do you think that is? Why, in your opinion, does Ireland carry so much mystery and magic for the rest of us?

CATHIE: I think the Celts have a magical history that is unique to them. Saw some great shows on PBS about that culture including “Irish Music”

ME: If you could be any mythical or legendary Celtic creature or character, what/who would it be and why?

CATHIE: Hmmm a princess?

ME: Please tell us some of the favorite/best books you’ve read with Celtic myths/legends or ties in them. (They can be fact or fiction, just be sure to indicate what type of books they are in case our readers might want to check them out.)

CATHIE: I’m sorry I can’t think of any at the moment.

Time to switch gears and focus on your writing:

ME: What genre is your writing considered to be? Contemporary romance Why this genre? What was the draw for you?

CATHIE: Because I love to read contemporary romances. I love writing them.

ME: If you could describe your writing with a word or phrase, what would it be? Please be creative and delve into the core of your writing to tell us what word or phrase you want readers to take with them when they've finished reading your story.

CATHIE: I write a fast-paced story that has both heart and humor. My books also involve families and community

ME: Do you prefer magical or human ingenuity for problem solutions? Does that show through in your writing? If so, how?

CATHIE: Human. In the past I did do a trilogy of bumbling fairy godmothers for Love and Laughter – TOO SEXY FOR MARRIAGE, TOO SMART FOR MARRIAGE, TOO STUBBORN TO MARRY.

ME: Who decides what you write about, you or your muse? What kind of influence do you have over your story, or is the muse always the one strumming the harp?

CATHIE: I am definitely a pantster. I have a general idea of the book and where it’s going but then things happen along the way that I have no idea would be occurring.

ME: What was the character or creature that you had the most fun creating and why?

CATHIE: Too many to list! I did love the Swedish grandmother and the grumpy PI in MAD, BAD AND BLONDE. Of course I love the main characters as well – Faith is a librarian who is jilted at the altar and Caine is a former Force Recon Marine trying to clear his father’s name.

ME: If you had the opportunity to meet just one of your character/creature creations in real life, who would it be and why?

CATHIE: I’d like to meet all my heroine’s and heroes and consider them all to be friends. Feels like I know them.

ME: Which of your character/creature creations would you never want to meet under any circumstance and why?

CATHIE: I would never want to meet Aunt Lorraine from MAD, BAD AND BLONDE

ME: Of all the stories you wrote, which was the storyline that you had the most fun fleshing out? Why?

CATHIE: Usually the story I’m writing at the moment because it’s still fresh in my mind.

ME: As writers, inspiration comes from everywhere. What, specifically, inspired your latest story, the one we’re promoting here today?

CATHIE: I overheard a children’s librarian at a library conference talking about how she won a shooting event that the library in Las Vegas participated in as part of the corporate events. I love writing about librarians, being a former librarian myself. I also love writing about Marines so MAD, BAD AND BLONDE was a natural.

Curious yet? Well, hang on because we've got an excerpt of Mad, Bad and Blonde coming up now!

Mad, Bad and BlondeBLURB:
MAD, BAD AND BLONDE by Cathie Linz
Librarian Faith West is going on her Italian honeymoon solo, but she’s not staying that way for long. Does her sexy rebound man have ulterior motives? When they both return to Chicago, Faith has her hands full keeping former Force Recon Marine Caine Hunter in his place…and out of her bed!

EXCERPT: Please select a PG-13 one, thanks!
If you want to read the first chapter of MAD, BAD AND BLONDE visit my website

Here is a shorter excerpt from ch. 14
“Is this surveillance on foot or are we tailing him by car?” Faith asked, swinging her backpack onto the floor in front of her.
“The car,” Caine said.
“Then you really should have a more inconspicuous vehicle preferably something blue.”
“Why? Is that your favorite color?”
“No it’s the most common car color. I’ve been doing my research. Brushing up on my P.I. skills.”
“This isn’t meant to be a training mission.”
“I don’t mind training you,” she said.
“That’s not what I meant.”
“Oh you thought you’d train me.” She laughed. “I can assure you that’s not necessary. You still haven’t told me why you’re doing this surveillance tonight. Did something happen?”
“Nolan called Fred Jr. today and asked for a meeting tonight.”
“How do you know that?”
“I talked to Fred Jr. today. Met him.”
“You didn’t tell me you were going to do that.”
“I’m telling you now.”
“Where’s Buddy tonight? Will he be tailing us?”
“No. He’s taking your grandmother out to dinner at O’Sullivan’s tonight.”
“She didn’t tell me that.”
“I guess you don’t know everything then, do you?”
“I didn’t say I know everything.” She almost added that she knew where to find information she didn’t know, before remembering that was a librarian’s line. And she was no longer a librarian.
She had checked out Buddy, however. He was a Chicago cop for twenty years as was his son and even his grandson Logan. After retiring,
Buddy opened his investigation business over two decades ago. He was seventy-eight, owned his own home, and had no major debt.
Which she supposed made him okay to take out her grandmother.
“What was your impression of Fred Jr?” Faith asked.
“A brainiac chemist following in his father’s footsteps. Not as bad a pain the ass as Nolan Parker. Fred Jr. made no derogatory comments regarding my dad.”
“Was he as…uh…confident as Nolan?”
“That wasn’t confidence Nolan displayed. That was self aggrandizing.”
“A famous football coach once said empty barrels make the most noise.”
“So you’re a football fan as well as a Cubs fan?”
Caine eyed her suspiciously. “Why do you want to know?”
“No reason. I was just making conversation.”
“We don’t make conversation on surveillance.”
“By ‘we’ are you referring to Marines or P.I’s? Because I’ve actually had my P.I. license longer than you’ve had yours. Not that I’m bragging or anything.”
“Right. You’re just being self aggrandizing.”
“I am not.” She socked his arm. “Take that back.”
“And you hit like a girl.”
“Only when I want to. You know I’m capable of doing much worse.” She shot him a look.

Got your attention now, doesn't she? For more information on this book please see her website,, or her facebook page.

Here's all the info you need to buy the book:
Mad, Bad and Blonde by Cathie Linz ISBN 978-0425233405 -- Berkley

Sunday, March 28, 2010


Tony-Paul de Vissage shines in the Moonlight

When I began writing the vampire series titled The Second Species, I wanted to tell a story of a people who, through circumstance and misunderstanding, became the basis for one of humanity's most enduring--oops, almost said endearing--legends: The Vampire. Going back over my collection of vampire novels, videos, and non-fiction by such writers as Bram Stoker, Montague Summers and Ornella Volta, I noticed how, in the '70's, a trend began concerning the vampiric hero. Around that time, the emphasis upon the vile, unearthly, bloodsucking demon began to give way to a more sympathetic view. Suddenly, the vampire was more to be pitied than censured, a being for whom one was allowed to feel sympathy, perhaps even a friendship--though prudently coupled with caution. After all, even the most well-controlled vamp will still be compelled to feast at midnight, and if you're his best-friend, no matter how tight the tie that binds--when the hunger pangs set in, you could up being the entree! A good many of these stories were actually disguised as Gothic romances, ending with the heroine accepted her demon lover's way of life rather than help in his destruction.

For the characters in Second Species, I wanted a difference--they, I decided weren't going to be the usual types of vampires, not Undead creatures brought back to life in their attacker's image, to continue to ravage the night only to be dispatched by a stake wielded by peasants with torches and pitchforks or a well-educated professor and his group of vigilante vampire-hunters. Yes, they would live longer than humans, not through supernatural means but simply because of their heredity. And it would be their heredity which would get them into this mess in the first place. My aventurieri--Transylvanian for vampire--would simply be a second species of Mankind, evolving on a different path at the time Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon vied for domination of the Earth. Becoming nocturnal hunters, they develop a sensitivity to the sun, a condition scientists in our time would diagnose by the names PMLE or XP, a genetic disturbanace in which an individual's DNA can't repair the damage done by ultraviolet rays and the victim must forever shun the daylight. They would also be allergic to certain herbs and spices such as garlic and sea salt. They can’t change into bats, don’t dissolve into mists, a stab wound or the infection from a lead bullet will kill them just as swifly as a stake through the heart. But here the difference begins. Though they eat food like their human half-brothers, they must consume blood, to supply the deficiencies in their bodies because of their avoidance of sunshine, and--they develop wings.

Can you imagine a cave man—or someone in the year 1100 or even the Fifteenth Century—coming across such a creature? Feared by superstitious early Man, persecuted and hated by those who can't understand, they take refuge in the mist-enshrouded cliffs of the Carpathians, raising their children, organizing their government, living out their lives with as little communication with Humans. Those who dare leave the mountains continue to live a masquerade, in continuous fear of discovery.

Though the majority of the aventurieri faithfully follow their kind’s strigent laws, there are rogues among them who are dangerously like the fabled vampire, They are dealt with by their Prince in a singularly cold-blooded fashion, and it is one of these rapitors who becomes the catalyst for my story when the Domnitor orders his assassin to punish an aventurieri who has broken the Law...and that single act begins a series of events which will send the assassin's eldest son on a journey of revenge and self-discovery...eventually changing the lives of every living aventurieri forever.

The Second Species is the story of Marek Strigoi and his family, their quest for revenge and how it affects not only them but the humans they meet on their journey from the Transylvania of 1794 to the wrought-iron balconies of post-Katrina New Orleans in 2010.

As the blurb states: “When both the hunter and the hunted are vampires, neither Love nor Hell can stand in the way.”

The Shadow Lord, first novel of The Second Species, is now under contract to Red Rose Press.

Buy Link:

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Isn't Black Swan's cover art hot!!??!! I love it, so kudos to the cover artist!

Blurb snatched from Wild Rose Press Website:

Suffering from a broken marriage, Carol Langston meets Tristan McLaghlan at a Black Swan party. Black Swans are mortals who willingly barter blood for the sensual ecstasy and euphoria vampires give in return. To Carol, this looks like the real thing until her handsome vampire runs away from her and his true nature. Separated by miles, divided across two species, can their love survive?

Buy link:


Review of Black Swan by Linda Nightingale

I received this book a while back, but wasn’t able to read it until recently. This is a short, spicy read of less than 40 pages. I thought Black Swan the perfect name for parties where mortals and vampires meet. Swans are so beautiful and elegant, while vampires are perceived as dark vicious predators.

Black Swan begins after Carol and Tristan have met and he’s already run away from her. Tristan has moved to America and is in a relationship with Holly, a woman he’s met that resides in the same building. They’ve had a whirlwind month long relationship and then Holly walks in on Tristan having sex with another woman, while draining her blood. Holly can’t believe what she’s seeing and Tristan uses vampiric powers to freeze time and confuse Holly’s perception of the encounter. But, Tristan has realized he’s left the one woman he loves, so he returns to her to make it right.

I felt like this was Tristan’s story even though the majority of this story wasn’t written in his POV. I believe this because Carol and Holly love him already, so there was no conflict from either of them emotionally. Tristan was the one that had to come to grips with his emotions and he was the one that needed the separation from Carol to realize he loves her and needs her in his life.

All the characters were likeable and enjoyable. The Black Swan parties fascinated me and I would have enjoyed seeing more of them. The writing is excellent, it never bogged down and it kept my interest from beginning to end. The sex scenes were spicy and tasteful, but I wouldn’t say they were erotic. Black Swan weaved together the right amount of romance and sensuality. Black Swan is unique in so many ways, Linda's vampire world is creative, the parties are awesome, the characters are lifelike, and all of that combined makes it such a great read! Overall, this was a fun, quick read and I wouldn’t hesitate to pick up more books by Linda Nightingale.

Make sure to join Linda here on April 2nd for a special guest blog by her.

Disclosure pursuant to FTC Rules: This book was received complimentary of the publisher, author or publicist. In most cases at Moonlight, Lace & Mayhem, whoever reviews the book gets to keep the book unless another arrangement has been made between reviewer, publisher, author and/or publicist. Just because a publisher, author and/or publicist provides a free book for review does not guarantee a flattering review. All reviews are the opinions of the reviewer and are never based upon receiving a free copy of the author’s work.
~Moonlight, Lace & Mayhem~

Friday, March 26, 2010


Help Me Find the Perfect Name for My Heroine!
Heroines deserve strong names...right?

Anyone ever notice that heroine (the lead female in a book) and heroin (the addictive illegal drug) are pronounced the same way? And, of course, the spelling is almost identical. Hmmm….Do you think someone somewhere is trying to tell us something? Like maybe we’re a man’s drug of choice or we’re as addictive as narcotics? LOL Because we know no one is suggesting we’re big trouble! *cheeky grin*

I’m in the middle of writing and the hero’s name jumped out at me from a billboard. Phoenix—Nix to his friends. Everywhere I look now, I see the name Phoenix. So, I know it’s the right name for my hero. But the heroine, we’re struggling over her name. Nothing seems to fit correctly. She’s been Grace, but that was too close to my name and I kept writing Gracen. So she had a name change to Samantha, but she doesn’t feel like a Samantha. That probably sounds crazy, but I have to “feel” the name before it sits well with me. Next, she became Alexis and then Katherine and that’s where we still are. But, once again, she doesn’t feel like an Alexis and Katherine is okay, but I’m not jumping for joy over it. I do like that I can shorten Katherine to Kat, which would fit with Nix’s character, but there’s still something holding me back for loving Katherine/Kat.

So, here’s where you step in. I want you to pick the heroine’s name. From now until next Thursday, April 1, 2010 (no joking!), you get to suggest names. Then on April 2nd I’ll allow to pick 3 of the suggested names from the list and then you’ll vote your favorite name from those 3 names. The winning name will become the heroine’s new and final name.

To help you suggest a name, here’s a small bio for her: She’s twenty-five, has a five year old son named Avery. Was romanced into an early marriage to a man of means with political and financial connections, but he left her without a word when Avery was two. So, she’s a single mother, with a strong sense of protective mother instincts. But things aren’t as they seem. Overnight, Avery turns homicidal, kills the family cat, then moves on to gutting the family dog, before starting on wildlife animals and the neighborhood pets. A phone call to a psychic tells her a demon is to blame and that she’ll send reinforcements. That’s when Nix enters the scene.

My heroine will face many obstacles, all related to her son. She’ll grow from being a woman with unsure footing in this world, into a woman of conviction and determination to save her son from the evil forces that threaten his livelihood, while learning nothing about her life is as it appeared.

So, she’ll need a solid name and I’m thinking something old-fashioned. But please don’t give me names like Beth, Lisa, Marie, Bridgette or Jane. I have nothing against those names, but they’re a little more commonplace than I’d prefer. But I don’t want names like Ethel and Mildred, either. They’re too old fashioned! Give me something classy and practical.

Don’t forget to leave me a comment with your name suggestion!!

One Rule: You cannot suggest a name that’s already been suggested. If you do, you will not be entered into the contest unless you suggest an alternate name. The person that suggests the winning name will win the following items:

1. A 2010 Moonlight, Lace & Mayhem desk calendar:

2. A Gracen Miller Mouse Pad:

3. And if the winner wants, I'll throw in a PDF e-book of Elfin Blood.

To help you get a better feel for the issue, here’s the first two chapters …they’re unedited and very rough draft, so please pardon any errors or snafus.


“What?” Katherine said with a mixture of disbelief and irritation. She looked at her son, Avery, and felt adamant denial surge in the form of a pounding headache. She’d come to the doctor for answers and this screwed up diagnosis was what she got?

“Ms. Wescott, all the tests came back normal.” The doctor scratched his chin as if intrigued. The thought of him being ‘intrigued’ over her son’s dilemma pissed her off. She forced aside the urge to whack him with her purse. “Everything except the anomaly with his blood,” he made a face, scrunching his features as if that anomaly still perplexed him. “Fascin—” The word fell incomplete when his glance landed on her hands twisting into tight fists in her lap. His gaze shot to her face. There was a flash of wariness in his ordinary brown eyes, like he expected her to give him a shiner any moment. She wanted to. She sure as hell wanted to pop him in the eye, but she had to settle for hoping the murder she felt at the despicable word ‘fascinating’ showed brightly on her face. He cleared his throat, his Adam’s apple bobbed nervously, and he failed to meet her gaze as he continued, “Otherwise, I can assure you there is nothing physically wrong with him.”

“Just psychologically?” she drawled with enough sarcasm to frighten a heavy-weight boxer.

“With the right psychiatrist and medication…Um…”

She would not drug her child into a zombie state so everyone could cope with his condition. Hell, he was already a zombie without medication.

“We think” —so refreshing that the doctor only thought and didn’t have a damn solid answer— “he can live a relatively normal life with medication.”

“Relatively?” she echoed, baffled why the doctor felt that should make her feel better about his diagnosis.

“Dissociative Identity Disorders are not the end of the world, Ms. Wescott.”

Dissociative Identity Disorder her ass! That was the new feel-good medical terminology for multiple personalities. Something her child did not have. Putting a nice, neat medical nametag on the disorder didn’t alter the diagnosis or make her feel any freaking better.

Although….she looked at her son. He sat on the table, his legs swishing back and forth like that of any high-energy child. Avery stared at the doctor with enough malice blazing from his baby-blue eyes that it sent shivers of dread up her spine. Yeah, she couldn’t deny something was amiss with him. But she trusted her gut and it said the problem was much more than multiple personality disorder.

Two months ago, he’d been a happy, healthy, normal child, one that giggled often and adored his feline and canine companions. The next day, he’d been mute and homicidal.

He’d snapped the cat’s neck the first week of the change, receiving multiple cat scratches before he managed feline murder. Five years old and he displayed a marked increase in strength. Explaining away that incident in the emergency room would have been difficult in the best scenarios. The hostile, blaming glances from the medical personal had made her feel worse than a slug. Easily read in those gazes was that if it happened again, Social Services would be called. She didn’t want or need a repeat performance of that event ever again. And if she thought Social Services would help, she’d call them herself.

The dog had been next. Avery had sliced and diced her with a kitchen carving knife. He’d gone into the fenced-in backyard to play and she’d left him alone long enough to pour a glass of iced tea...not more than five minutes at most. When she returned, she’d found him and the dog on the back porch. Blood everywhere like there’d been a struggle. His blonde hair had been speckled with the stuff, his pale face splotched red, his hands coated to his elbows like the hemoglobin had been used as lotion, and the clothes on his chest blossomed with the substance, as if he’d wallowed in the sanguine fluid. The smile on his face…her hands trembled at the memory. She’d choked on a scream and retched over the side of the railing until she could do nothing more than dry heave.

Avery had caught a fly and she’d been amazed at his quick reflexes. And then he tortured it, holding it steady with his fingers while he pulled off its legs before moving on to those fragile wings. Those incidences heralded the beginning of his atrocities.

Twice he’d tried to stab her, slicing her upper thigh the last time. She’d stitched the wound herself, worried about infection when the slash turned an angry shade of red. Religiously, she’d slathered the wound with antibiotic ointment, added warm salty compresses and luckily, the cut healed. It still ached and she’d forever wear the ragged scar of her son’s attack, but she refused to give up on him, or allow anyone to know the total truth of his ferocity. The protective instincts of motherhood had kicked in. Nothing on earth could force her to betray him.

He’d kicked, scratched and bitten her more times than she could count. When the violent episode ceased—sometimes he snapped out of it in the middle of the rage—he would collapse in her arms and sob until exhausted sleep claimed him. His heartbreak broke her heart.

The doctor didn’t seem to notice her distress—just as well—and continued in his patronizing tone, “This disorder always involves some sort of trauma, Ms. Wescott. Your frank honesty can help us determine the trauma and proceed accordingly.”

She ground her teeth hard, amazed they didn’t crack. “Nothing has changed in his life.” Not a damn thing since her husband walked out the door three years ago.

“I’m sure if you would consider—”

“Enough!” Katherine came to her feet with a snap. The doctor flinched in surprise, his words cut off midstream. She sent him a hostile glare, snatched up her purse, held her hand out to Avery and said, “Let’s go, baby.”

Avery plopped off the diagnosis table, while the doctor’s mouth opened and closed like a fish. Avery sent the doctor a smile that reeked of evil intent. It creeped her out when her baby wore that expression and she couldn’t even explain the expression. It was as docile a look as the one he always wore, but something about his eyes screeched not just evil, but malevolence. There was a difference.

She sniffed. What was that smell? It rather reminded her of rotten eggs. She put a finger to her nose, but nothing helped obliterate the stench. It’d become stronger lately. God-awful described the scent perfectly.

Katherine looked at the doctor. “Do you smell that?”

“Sulphur,” he whispered, face as pale as rice paper, gawking at her son like he was the prophesized anti-Christ. The doctor tossed the chart aside, jumped to his feet, knees popping, and exclaimed, “Ms. Wescott, I don’t think you should walk out that door.” He stared at Avery, not sparing her a single glance through the diatribe.

Wondering at the doctor’s sudden fear, she looked down at Avery. There it was again…that fiery orange glow surrounding the outer perimeter of his blue eyes. The child blinked and the color dissipated.

“We really must put him somewhere we can watch him around the clock, run tests and such.”

Her gaze snapped to him, eyes narrowing. As long as she breathed her son would never become a damn lab rat. “He does not leave me. Ever.”

Anyone that tried to take him was a dead man.


Katherine chewed on her fingernail. Through her window, she watched her neighbor staple up a “missing pet” poster across the street. The eighth missing animal this month. Would her nightmare ever end?

She released the curtain, turned with the sound of the curtain swishing behind her and walked to the liquor cabinet. Jack Daniels really, really wanted to be her friend or at least her amnesiac friend. Drinking to oblivion was stupid. Drunkenness would resolve nothing. On the morrow, she’d awake with a hangover and the reality that her ‘reality’ hadn’t changed at all. Or, she’d wake to a new horror Avery had committed while she’d been passed out.

Eight missing animals on one street, she thought rubbing her eyes and all of them dead by Avery’s hand. It’d been a month since her doctor visit and things were decidedly worse. Avery’s deeds now included sneaking out of the house at night, stealing the animals somehow from their neighbor’s homes, bringing them back to her house and butchering them in her backyard, or God help her, in her living room on more than one occasion. After committing animal murder, he’d climb back into bed bloody.

She relocated him to her bedroom, hoping she’d wake when he climbed out of bed. For the first time in her life, she became a dead sleeper rather than a light sleeper. She lived in a state of panic of Avery never getting better, her neighbors discovering his nightly jaunts and them learning the lengths she would go to cover up his nightly murderous jaunts. Worse, she feared, his victims would turn to the two legged variety.

Using an alias and going against her belief—or rather non-belief—she’d gone to the Church. They performed an exorcism. Nothing changed.

She visited an herbalist. They administered herbs and performed an incantation, with incense clogging up her sinuses. Again, nothing changed.

In desperation she’d turned to a witch doctor. He’d done his thing and still nothing changed.

A week ago she’d located her umpteenth psychic that claimed to have all the answers. Georgie lived in Kansas, talked a good game, but being jaded came with a lot of trust issues. A nervous giggle jerked through Katherine.

We’re not in Kansas anymore.

Katherine ran a hand down her face. She was starting to doubt her sanity. Then she’d doubted Georgie’s sanity when she cautioned Avery was the cause for her heavier sleep pattern so he could go about his nightly jaunts unhampered. That wasn’t even possible. Was it?

Georgie also warned that evil lurked near, an evil she couldn’t contain and one that would devour her soul. That sounded a bit hellfire and brimstone to her.

She shook her head. Evil? She wasn’t even sure she believed in evil. Her deceased Christian parents would think her blasphemous, but even if evil did exist, her parents couldn’t help Katherine with this dilemma. They were dead. Seven years in the grave now.

Regardless of religious beliefs, Georgie refused to explain, just promised help. Katherine had yet to see any assistance. With each passing day, hope grew further and further out of reach, a smoky mist she couldn’t wrap her fingers around.

Defeat was her constant companion, a weight bearing heavily on her shoulders. But now wasn’t the time for giving up. She shut the liquor cabinet, turned and walked up the stairs to check on Avery. She found him in his bedroom sitting on the floor at the foot of his bed. The tip of a knife rested in the palm of his hand, the handle horizontal, and rotating in a circle unaided by touch.

Katherine closed her eyes, counted to ten and prayed she hallucinated.

She opened her eyes and felt her heart lurch into her lungs. Nothing had changed!

Blackness narrowed her vision, she struggled to maintain consciousness. Avery turned his head toward her, his eyes shining with that strange orange glow and his wide-eyed expression articulated without words, “Look what I can do!”

He came at her so fast she barely had time to release a half-scream before he kicked her feet out from underneath her. She hit the floor hard, the breath whooshing from her lungs and her teeth jarring. He jumped on her before she had a chance to gasp a breath. Instinct took over, thank God. The blade glinted—it was serrated, odd that she noticed that at a time like this or that she wondered where he’d gotten it from—as he slashed it toward her neck.

She caught his wrist an inch from her throat.

Copyright 2010 Gracen Miller ~ No part of this may be copy, pasted, uploaded, or used in anyway whatsoever without the express written consent of Gracen Miller.

(Please note: This contest will also run at Wicked, Thorn & Roses where I blog every Saturday. All names suggested at Moonlight, Lace & Mayhem and Wicked, Thorn & Roses will be combined together to create one contest.)

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Please welcome author, Franny Armstrong, into the moonlight this beautiful spring day...if it's not beautiful where you are, have hope that it is beautiful somewhere! Franny's been writing since childhood and she enjoys writing about private investigators, cops and mastermind criminals. And if that wasn't enough, she throws in a little psychic abilities for her characters to utilize. Visit Franny's website to learn more about her, but for now, we're off to the good stuff...the interview where she tells all! Okay, maybe not all...


GRACEN: March has a few popular dates to celebrate. Which one are you more apt to celebrate, St. Patrick’s Day, or the First Day of Spring, or both and why?

FRANNY: I celebrate St. Patrick’s day for two reasons, a bit of Irish ancestry, and I LOVE THE COLOR GREEN!

The First Day Of Spring is like awakening from a long sleep and I practically hold my breath, waiting to see that first glimpse of green on the tree buds and crocuses. It makes me feel so alive.

GRACEN: Because of it’s Irish heritage, St. Patrick’s Day is a big party day in Wisconsin (and many other areas) in which everyone gets in on the action from free pub crawl busses to breweries making green beer/spirits and some stores selling green colored/decorated food and sweets. Does anything similar occur in your area? Even if you do not participate, please tell us what activities are going on around you. Anything you feel is unique or especially interesting?

FRANNY: In Ontario, Canada, nearly every bar, pub, and Canadian Legion celebrate whether they’re Irish or not. Green beer is uppermost on the list and some people even paint their faces with shamrocks or completely green.

GRACEN: Do you like to decorate for spring/St. Pat’s Day or is this the time of the year where your house has a break from special décor?

FRANNY: I spent way too much time on the computer writing and promoting to do much decorating since my kids left home. However, with a grandchild coming in April, perhaps I’ll be decorating once again. Hmmm…time to go shopping!

GRACEN: Ireland is steeped in myth, legends and lore. Do you have any favorites? Please briefly share them with us (include links to other information for interested readers).

FRANNY: Though I love the devilish little leprechauns, I adore fellow author Angel Martinez’ Pooka, Finn. Legend has it that naughty Irish fairies called Pookas roam about at night in various shape-shifting forms scaring cows so they won’t milk, chickens so they won’t lay eggs, trample crops and so on. Though Angel’s pooka is a hotty so he makes them a whole lot more interesting to me.

GRACEN: Spring is considered a time of renewal, a time of rebirth. Do you do anything “special” to commemorate this idea such as planting flowers or cleaning out your house? Please share with us your way of celebrating this time of rebirth.

FRANNY: I love to walk in the woods and smell the fresh spring air as the snow dissolves and earth’s fragrance fills my senses. I’ll touch the tender buds on branches and commune with the trees telling them to hurry and awaken so I can revel in the magic of life renewed—Okay, so I’m an author. Cleaning house is just way too boring!

GRACEN: Magic is often tied into Celtic myths and legends, or at least we like to think it is. Why do you think that is? Why, in your opinion, does Ireland carry so much mystery and magic for the rest of us?

FRANNY: Magic has been thought to exist since the beginning of time, though many would say this isn’t so. To me, love is magic, holding a newborn in my arms is magic, watching a tiny seed grow into the most glorious flower with petals as soft as silk is definitely magic, and when you look up into the sky at night and see the billions upon billions of stars in the universe, how can you not believe that magic exists?

GRACEN: If you could be any mythical or legendary Celtic creature or character, what/who would it be and why?

FRANNY: I would definitely want to be the PHOENIX BIRD. This mythical creature is born in the embers, hatches the egg, flies up from the flames to begin the cycle of life then crashes back down to begin the cycle over and over again. Immortal, indestructible, and never surrendering to life’s obstacles, this wondrous bird doesn’t know the meaning of the words, ‘GIVE UP!’.

GRACEN: Now, let’s get to your writing, Franny…What genre is your writing considered to be? Why this genre? What was the draw for you?

FRANNY: I write paranormal romantic suspense and paranormal romantic comedy as well as simply romance. With a heart that sings with love, I grew up in a supportive family that I adore and had my own, with three children and husband who I can’t imagine living without. My sister, mother, children and I tend to know what each other is thinking, know when the phone is about to ring and who is on the other line (without cheating with call display) and can never throw a surprise party without the other one figuring it out.

I also get prophet dreams and ‘gut’ instincts that tell me when something is about to happen, so psychic phenomena is the norm for my family. Also, I think that cops and private investigators are hot! Not like Columbo or Inspector Clouseau of The Pink Panther, but in a rough, rugged, masculine (or tough female) kind of way. Watching shows on TV like Medium, Ghost Whisperer and so on also open my mind to the possibilities of psychic gifts. Anything is possible.

GRACEN: If you could describe your writing with a word or phrase, what would it be? Please be creative and delve into the core of your writing to tell us what word or phrase you want readers to take with them when they've finished reading your story.

FRANNY: I live by the mottos, “Never Surrender! Never Give Up!” as well as “A Published Author Is An Unpublished Author Who NEVER QUIT!” These I keep taped to the wall in front of my computer to see every day. They’ve helped keep me going, no matter what the obstacles of life throw at me.

In each of my stories is a message I want to convey. Not always visible to the naked eye, the main one is this: “No matter how bumpy life’s roads get, life is worth living every minute!”

GRACEN: Do you prefer magical or human ingenuity for problem solutions? Does that show through in your writing? If so, how?

FRANNY: Hee hee, if you mean in REAL life, I end up using human ingenuity, however, in my books, I always utilize both. After all, what’s the point in having magical gifts if you can’t use them? Just as Superman!

GRACEN: Who decides what you write about, you or your muse? What kind of influence do you have over your story, or is the muse always the one strumming the harp?

FRANNY: Funny you should say ‘harp’ since that’s one of my favorite instruments to meditate to (on tape since I don’t play nor have one) I have two muses, the negative one, ‘DOUBTING MATILDA’ who tries to block me at every turn and ‘ADAMN AMUSING’ who kicks her butt and pushes me forward. I seldom need them to strum for me as my wonky mind takes over, keeping me up at all hours of the night and bursting forth with stories and characters. Before I even get half way through a tale, another one pops into my head and I have to write out the details quick before they disappear. It never ends.

GRACEN: What was the character or creature that you had the most fun creating and why?

FRANNY: Though I haven’t created any ‘creatures’ as yet, I do have a TON of fun making up my heroines. From my Extrasensory Elements Series Book 5, I created Maylin Mitchell, a petite, smart-mouthed, tell–it–like–it–is cop who is running for her life as her psychotic ex–husband stalks her. She meets Misu McCoy, an Ojibwa Canadian native who is a foot taller and fears hurting her in any way. She’s a tough one though and shows him a thing or two about who’s on top! She’s awesome and so much fun.

GRACEN: If you had the opportunity to meet just one of your character/creature creations in real life, who would it be and why?

FRANNY: Oh, gosh, I’d love to meet any of the McCoy brothers from the Extrasensory Elements series. They are steeped in tradition yet modern day men who not only use their protective tough exteriors towards their women, including their sisters and mother, but have a gentle, loving side you seldom see in a man. Well, put it this way: I personally don’t get to see this side of a man.

GRACEN: Which of your character/creature creations would you never want to meet under any circumstance and why?

FRANNY: Personally, the villains I create are nothing like anyone I’d ever want to meet. They are deadly, evil, and have psychotic tendencies for killing without feelings that I find difficult to believe yet it happens in life every day. I suppose I’ve led a sheltered life since there is no violence in mine.

GRACEN: Of all the stories you wrote, which was the storyline that you had the most fun fleshing out? Why?

FRANNY: I’ve written a book called ‘AMAZON KLUTZ’ which made me laugh and guffaw all the way through while at the same time I loved the intrigue and antics of the heroine as she sets out to bring down a Brazillian drug lord right under his nose as a klutzy administrative assistant. She uses her persona as a klutz to keep the men at arms (or rather yards) length so she can work undercover and find the evidence to have him incarcerated. The tale is filled with twists, turns, and surprises that will make your head spin, leaving a good feeling behind when she saves the day with her heroic partner, a burnt out undercover agent. It spans two continents and even has the duo rescuing the Prime Minister of Canada! Don’t worry though, you’ll shed tears too, so you’ll need a couple of boxes of tissue available.

GRACEN: As writers, inspiration comes from everywhere. What, specifically, inspired your latest story, the one we’re promoting here today?

FRANNY: Being an author who writes scenes of death and destruction by a psychotic killer, I imagined one day what it would be like if an author had to pay for their works with their lives when the murders they wrote about became their own demise. Author’s Demise takes you there and makes you think, ‘What if someone read this and decided to kill another person this way?’ A sobering thought, but the hero and heroine always win in my stories! It’s the Happily Ever After we all know and love.


Death stalks telekinetic Lana Anderson, CEO of Brinkman-Bonnet Publishing. Forced to live in terror, Lana soon finds she’s shadowed by more than a killer when her boss and good friend hires a cop to protect her.

Kissing a perfect stranger, Brett Colton soon finds himself head over heels in love with the woman he’s hired to protect, even though he has no interest in having a serious relationship. When she’s captured by the stalker he races against time to save her from her selfless act of bravery.


Brett had a tail. He had been trying to shake the guy for a few blocks but the man was persistent. Entering the lobby of Belleview towers, he looked around and saw an attractive woman waiting for the elevators near the back wall. She stood out from the others around her, drawing him toward her like a magnet. He had an idea of how to elude his tail and hoped she would go along with it.

She’s really hot! Looks like a fun–loving girl, I hope she’s game.

Taking another look outside, he saw the man coming up to the revolving doors. Moving quickly over to where the woman stood he gave his plan a shot.

Nodding politely to her, he stripped off his jacket, rolled it into a ball and threw it on the floor beside the potted fern.

“Excuse me, ma’am, but I’m in trouble and I was wondering if you could help me out?” He pulled his baseball hat from his back pocket and put it on backwards.

Curiosity filled her gaze before she nodded. “Well, sure. If I can—”

Before she could finish her reply, he swept her up in his arms and kissed her passionately. The woman was so stunned that she didn’t react to his audacity, melting into his arms instead. Her hands rested on his chest, fingers tangled in his shirt

Distracted by the sexy woman in his arms, Brett found it hard to keep a close eye on his stalker. He was amazed at the passion the woman returned, nearly knocking him off his feet. Boy, she can light my fire anytime! Minutes may have ticked by but he lost count, losing himself in her sensual mouth.

After the tail finally gave up and left, Brett continued the kiss, unable to stop. His pants were uncomfortably tight. Pulling her closer into his embrace, he nearly groaned as her body brushed up against him. She’d turned to liquid in his arms, sending shivers of desire up his spine.

Finally, slowly, he lifted his head and stared into her eyes. Her expression was dazed, her emerald green eyes met his with a bemused expression.

The elevator doors opened with a loud ‘ding’. Regretfully he let her go.

“Thank you, ma’am. You were very helpful.” His voice was low and husky. Bending down, he picked up his jacket.

“Well, goodbye…” He started to say his farewell but looking at her swollen, damp lips, he changed his mind.

“Ah, what the hell,” he said, and kissed her again. It was a short, lip–smacking kiss. Then, nodding, he stepped into the elevator and the doors closed on his grinning face.

Links: to purchase

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


The Middle Ages. The Dark Ages. The time of knights.

It’s so easy to romantize the Middle Ages. What girl hasn’t imagined being rescued by a knight in shining armor and being able to hold on as the two of you ride off into the setting sun?

But if we look through out history books, not all knights were good. Some burned cities down to the ground and took whatever gold or treasures they could find. Others ignored the knight’s code of chivalry and did whatever they pleased, believing that their rank entitled them.

I don’t know about you, but I would much rather read about the dashing, daring type of knight. After all, history is meant to be rewritten! (Although writing about a nearly villainous knight and redeeming him could make for an interesting story…. Hmm….)

Sir Geoffrey is one such knight. He longs for battle and adventure, willing to do whatever his king asks of him. Despite his masculinity, Geoffrey also has a more tender side. He idealizes love and the queen joking bestowed him the nickname “Bard.”

In Knight of Glory, Geoffrey finds himself torn between two very different women: the beautiful and mysterious Celestia and the strong, slightly sarcastic Jenanna. While he seeks out possible allies for the Kingdom of Arnhem, Geoffrey struggles to learn what love really is even as he fights for his life.

Here is a short excerpt from Knight of Glory that explores the knight side of Geoffrey:

Despite the upsetting dream, Geoffrey tried to settle. The moon was still visible, just beginning her descent, and he had many hours of rest he could try to claim. He nearly dozed again when the sound of an arrow whizzing past him woke Geoffrey up completely. He immediately reached for his bow and readied to fire a shot, but the darkness clouded his vision and he could not see his enemy.

"Raulin," he hissed in a demanding whisper. When the boy did not stir, Geoffrey left the safety of the tree and shook the boy. "Raulin, grab your bow."

Another arrow struck the dirt in front of them. They scrambled for cover. The scent of burning wood wafted to Geoffrey, and he nearly fell over in disbelief. "What are you doing, Jacob? You want them to kill us? Have you gone daft? We aren't wearing armor! One arrow and we could be dead!"

"I know." Jacob gave him a wide grin. He dipped his arrow into the fire before shooting the flaming projectile toward Speica. The light from the flame gave enough illumination that Geoffrey saw several Speican archers on the other side.

"Come on, Raulin. Hide behind this tree. Reach around, light the arrows, and hand them to us. Quickly now," Geoffrey ordered. He hated to give the jokester respect but Jacob's quick thinking was remarkable and he gave that respect, even if only begrudgingly.

The boy hurried over and complied. Jacob fired first so Geoffrey could aim to kill. Although many Speican arrows landed close to them, one or two even landed in the fire, the trio remained unharmed. After Geoffrey killed one and maimed another, the remaining Speicans fled.

Geoffrey stomped out the fire, his face grim. "This is not good. They'll send reinforcements. We must continue."


"There's no help for it, Raulin," he added sharply.

The young squire closed his mouth with a huff. Stomping his feet, he climbed onto his horse, allowing the mount to trudge northward at a leisurely pace. Jacob followed, and Geoffrey assumed the rear position.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Mystic Monday

Recovering From a Long Weekend of Fun
Happy Mystic Monday!

Shut Up! You Say!
Go Away!
How can you be so chipper on a Monday?

Ah, well, I may be recuperating from a four-day mini-vacation, but I feel recharged and able to take on my little corner of the world. Yeah, wait until next week and see if I'm still chipper as today marks the first of 5 Bucks home games I will be cheering for in a 9 day span. Yep, I have a game to attend and be loud for every other day over the next 9 days. It's going to be grueling, I'm going to be sore lucky if I still have a voice after the fifth home game in this stretch, but it's going to be damn fun rooting for a team that is playing terrific without it's Olympian, Michael Redd.

But that's not what I'm blogging about today. I'm blogging about what I did to celebrate my birthday this past weekend.

So, what did we do?

Well, we drove south to St. Louis in hopes of finding some warm weather, and it worked...for the first two days, lol! I actually wore shorts the first two days we played disc golf. I tried wearing shorts on Saturday, but after a bit, it just felt to cold and I had to put pants on! The disc golfing wasn't as exciting as I'd hoped, but that's okay, because I went down more for the craft beer anyway.

The first place we went to was Square One, which has to be my favorite brewery in St. Louis, MO. It seems as though every time we go down, they have different beers, and they're generally pretty tasty! They had a nice quad and dopplebock among their regular offerings. As much as I wanted a full glass of the quad, I went with the dopplebock because I just didn't want to be stumbling home as I knew I would be if I had the quad, lol! I love their Scotch Ale (usually single-malt), but it wasn't on tap this time and neither was their spicy blonde, which is a really good beer. I can't remember all the spices, I just remember that they were prevalent enough on the tongue to make the beer interesting as I normally do not like blonde ales.

We ate dinner there. My burger was decent (I love a burger and fries with my beer) but the dessert was darn good! It was a brownie dessert and I swear they keep mixing up what they serve the brownie with. The first time I had it, it came with a stout sauce and was pretty good, the second time, it came with a raspberry sauce (wasn't as good, they were busy and it didn't get cooked properly), this third time, it came with a lovely caramel sauce that complemented the brownie and ice cream very well. I haven't had much else there, so I can't recommend anything else.

The second place we went to, Schlafly Bottleworks, I ordered two things I usually get there - spent grain bread (with sides of bleu cheese and cheddar-chive butter) and a grilled cheese on artisan-sourdough bread. Both were great as always! I'm not sure what the rules are in other states, but up here, they're very strict on brewpubs (because of Miller). Of all the brewpubs I've been to, this is the only place I've ever seen spent-grain bread on the menu.

Seriously, all brewpubs should make a spent-grain bread. Schlafly makes theirs with the spent grain from their pale ale. Even though I'm not a fan of hoppy beers (like pale ales), this bread was so good and the cheddar-chive butter was a great accompaniment. It's also very green too!

So, what about the beer? When we first went down, I would have said, awesome! You so need to go there! Now, I won't say you need to go there, but the spent-grain and some of the more vegan-style and other exotic food offerings may make stopping there a treat. However, their beer is the same as what you can find in bottles all over the place, so, unless you prefer tap to bottles, the need to go there isn't as great. Square One, on the other hand, doesn't bottle any of their beers and they like to mix it up regularly, even though they do have some recipes they brew regularly!

Thursday before we left, the weather people predicted that there would be inches of snow falling on us the day we were supposed to come back (Sunday). Then, as it got closer to Sunday, that changed. In fact, the radar changed so much that the snow/rain they thought we'd get all went south of us and barely did anything in our neck of the woods. Of course, some people did get blasted. Kansas City, to the south of us, got hit with 8 inches! Boy, were we happy we missed that because we might have been stuck until they cleared things away! Not only that, but it wass much colder down there than in St. Louis!

If someone was looking out for me/us and made sure we had nice weather while there and for the drive home, I thank he/she highly because it made for a nice getaway!

Now, back to the keyboard! Have a great day everyone!

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Author Sheila Stewart was supposed to join us today, but due to sickness that has plagued her house, she's unable to join us. I hope you and your family get to feeling better soon, Sheila!! Unfortunately, I never found the time to write something up for today, so I'm reposting a blog and I'm going back to one of my favorite pastimes, reading about the lore and legends of mythical creatures. So, I hope you enjoy learning about...



What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the Crow? For me, aside from the black birds that scavenge, it was the mystical belief that they are omens of death.

In my writing, I needed a mystical creature that could deliver a riddle from a higher power about the future. So, I started researching and quickly became fascinated by the Crow. Similar to the Raven it appears in mythology as a soothsayer, as a creator and cleanser and as omens of death. Okay, so I wasn’t completely wrong, but neither did I know near all of it.

Among the North America tribes the Crow was considered as the guardian of the sacred law that could see not only the past, but the present and the future.

In Celtic lore, the battle goddess Morrigan would shapeshift into either a crow or a raven and they were both seen as allies and companions.

Scottish folklore said the crow had 27 different sounds and each one of them correlated to an occasion, foretelling anything from coming guests to good fortune to an imminent death. Truly I found this fascinating and wanted to learn more about the 27 different cries. By the way, the number 27 was derived from the magical 3 x 9 derivative.

To the Greek, the crow was considered an unlucky warning. In fact, while crows were sacred to the Greek goddess Athene, she refused to allow them to perch atop the roof of Acropolis in Athens because they were omens of death. Even though they were considered omens of death, it did not prevent the Greek god Apollo from shapeshifting into a crow when he fled Typhon.

Medieval bestiaries saw the crow as birds of parental devotion and it was said that the crow led the migration of storks. Medieval Christians thought the crow was a sign of the devil because of its scavenging conduct, but it was also an icon of fidelity because it was thought that crows did not seek a new mate when its mate died. Magical properties were given to the crow as well, which included the skill to foretell the future, dismantle the past and to educate humans about how to mix humor, playfulness and love.

Interesting lore—or so I thought—was the Australian aboriginal legend. I found it in The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures, written by John & Caitlin Matthews © 2008:

“In Australian aboriginal legend, Crow, along with Tortoise and Frog, dissented in the corroboree (gathering) that suggested that Kangaroo and Emu, and Dingo and Goanna should mate. The animals fell to fighting but when they grew hungry, pelicans dived for fish to feed them and a fire was started to cook them. Crow warned them that to cook fish away from where they had been caught was illegal and the animals began to argue. Frog threw his voice to make it sound as if Crow was insulting Kangaroo, so confusing the other animals that they fell out even more and decided for ever after to have their own languages.”

All of this was a far cry from the 1994 movie, The Crow. In it, the lead character comes back as an undead entity bent on avenging his and his fiancée’s murder. Entertaining, yeah, and maybe he was loosely considered an omen of death, but he was really the cause of the death of those that murdered him and his fiancée. It was revenge and nothing more.

So, what do you think? Do you believe in the magical elements of Crows? For me, I don’t know, but I do know I had fun using the crow as a magical creature that showed up, shapeshifted into a beautiful woman with birdlike qualities and clothing made of she is:

The crow shape shifted into a woman, with almond shaped eyes and long hair, both as black as a crow’s feather, and a curvaceous body encased in a midnight cat-like-pantsuit made of flowing feathers. A solitary feather floated and came to rest in the center of the table. (It's a work in progress, unedited, so go easy please! LOL)

I hope everyone has an awesome, relaxing, worry-free Sunday!!!

(All photos snagged from Google Images. No copyright infringement was intended.)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Starlight Saturday

Weekly Book Review
Hotter Than Hell Anthology

Today, I plan to post my review of Heidi Betts', "Curse of the Dragon's Tears" in the wickedly hot anthology - Hotter Than Hell. I say plan, because I want to Disc Golf this morning before it rains! Who knows, I might even talk about more than one of the stories here!

Please check back later today for the review, or follow us on Twitter so you'll know when I have completed the review! Thanks!

Friday, March 19, 2010


Curling up……with K.T. Bishop

Author KT Bishop dropped by Moonlight, Lace and Mayhem to promote his latest release, Curling Up, published by Red Rose Publishing.

Readers can check out my website at

MLM: Congratulations on the newest release.

KT: Thanks, this is my third release at Red Rose. The two previous have been released in the spring and guess that’s a good time for me (Laughs).

MLM: Curling Up has a few interesting connotations.

KT: The original title was Feel the Fire, about an Olympic gymnast and figure skater. That book got slapped around like a five-pound bag of flour. It did not go very far and was rejected. I went back to work and rewrote it to Curling Up, referring to an Olympic curler and kept the figure skater.

MLM: Give us the skinny on Curling Up.

KT: The hero, Robin Friesz, travels to Canada for a radio job and bypassed attending college in Alabama. He runs into trouble and gets caught into a drug raid. Somehow, he overcomes this and lands a spot on the Olympic team. Inga Johan was a Swedish child actress who just got unemployed. Like Robin, she finds herself at the Olympics. Their first meeting was not love at first sight.

MLM: You’ve written quite a few sports books.

KT: Yeah, I am trying to corner the market. I’ve always wanted to make my own mark in the sports romantic side. There are always so many romance stories involving athletes and their loved ones.

MLM: Is there something else you want to write?

KT: Right now I am tackling a Cougar series. I’ve always been fascinated with the older woman-younger man storyline and wondering why it’s so popular. For me to write something like that is truly different. I also hope to have a Holiday series for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Again, I am trying to avoid the Fonzie syndrome and not be typecast and do other things like Harrison Ford and Denzel Washington.

MLM: The interracial/multicultural genre has worked well for you.

KT: I love writing about different races coming together, not just black men and white women of the USA. I plan to explore romances in Sweden, Italy and Japan with a few upcoming titles. And you can write those stories without the racial tension involved because people love to read about happy endings.

MLM: What is easier for you to write, a series or stand-alone?

KT: Believe it or not, a series. Curling Up, right now, is the only book that doesn’t have a sequel. If the book becomes a hit, I will have no choice but to do a sequel and have closure. One book I finished last summer became a series. To me, a series always gives my characters closure.

MLM: What is the ultimate dream for you as an author?

KT: Talk staring down a double-barrel shotgun. It’s a bunch of things for me, which may be different for other authors. Making the best-seller list and tons of cash into the bank account. Getting printed books and having a book signing in the hometown. From there, nothing’s sweeter than having your book turned into a movie albeit TV or the big screen. (Jane Porter, Nicholas Sparks have done this).

MLM: Have any upcoming releases?

KT: Catching a Cuban Curveball, the sequel to Curing a Cajun Cold, will be out later this summer at Red Rose.

MLM: Before you leave, could you leave us an excerpt?

KT: Be glad to.

Inga eagerly returned to the scene of her most embarrassing moment two hours before the elimination began. Her green eyes were fixated on the ice rink and she was determined to come out on top. “It won’t happen again,” She told herself.

Opposing skaters taunted Inga during the line. “Hope you have another comedy act for us. You’re not getting through.”

Inga smirked at the remarks and waited her turn. She rocked back and forth to neutralize her nervousness. When Inga turned around to look at the audience, she was stunned to see Robin in the stands. His uncanny presence lit a fire in her belly once again.

She found inspiration under the ballad of her home land’s rock group, Roxette’s song “Must’ve Been Love.” She turned in a near flawless performance. Frowning, she perfectly skated in a circular motion three times.

The crowd, including an impressed Robin, gave her a standing ovation. She mumbled, “Inga, you did your best.” Despite the accolades, she still refused to smile. She knew that applause wouldn’t be enough to get her to Vancouver, in February.

Four names were called out, leaving two spots available. Inga nervously sat on the bench, shaking, both hands covering her mouth. “Oh shit, I didn’t make it.”

As the public address announcer blared out, “The final spot goes to Inga Johan of Sweden,” she leaped three feet in the air. She exhaled heavily as Hendericksen mobbed her. “I did it Coach Hen!”

“Uh, I never lost faith.”

Robin, who admired Inga’s resolve, stopped by her corner and reluctantly offered congratulations. They had their first civil conversation.

He shook her hand and smiled. “You did well out there; it took a lot of guts to come back from something like that the other day.”

His presence caused a lump in her throat. “T-thank you.”

“Guess I’ll see you in Vancouver?”

She smiled as her body continued to heat up in his presence. “Yeah, I’ll see you in Vancouver.”

“Have a safe trip back to Sweden.”

Inga’s eyes locked onto his caramel body as he left the arena. Suddenly she had found her inspiration in the American curler. She looked forward to getting to know him better at Vancouver. Those ninety days couldn’t come fast enough.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Please welcome KATHRYN SCANNELL into the moonlight today! Thanks so much for joining us today, Kathryn. It's a pleasure and a joy to have you with us!


GRACEN: March has a few popular dates to celebrate. Which one are you more apt to celebrate, St. Patrick’s Day, or the First Day of Spring, or both and why?

KATHRYN: If I do anything for either, it’s more likely to be Saint Patrick’s Day.

GRACEN: Because of it’s Irish heritage, St. Patrick’s Day is a big party day in Wisconsin (and many other areas) in which everyone gets in on the action from free pub crawl busses to breweries making green beer/spirits and some stores selling green colored/decorated food and sweets. Does anything similar occur in your area? Even if you do not participate, please tell us what activities are going on around you. Anything you feel is unique or especially interesting?

KATHRYN: I’ve never liked the drunken celebrations of Saint Patrick’s Day, with green beer and plastic shamrocks, and have avoided them like the plague. I nearly dragged out the soapbox and wrote something here about how they keep alive the 19th century stereotype of the drunken Irishman. Then this weekend I read an essay on the topic by Larry Kirwan, the lead singer of Black 47 on his blog ( He talks about seeing it in the historical context, growing out of the days when the Irish were despised and unwelcome immigrants, as an affirmation of their right to survive and make this new country their own. That’s a light I hadn’t seen it in before, and maybe the plastic harps and shamrocks aren’t so bad.

We have the usual run of parades, and bars offering green beer. One interesting extra is the traditional Saint Patrick’s Day Breakfast at which local political figures are invited to gather and roast each other. On a more positive note, we also usually get a good selection of Irish bands playing local concert halls in honor of the occasion.

GRACEN: Do you like to decorate for spring/St. Pat’s Day or is this the time of the year where your house has a break from special décor?

KATHRYN: I find as the years pass that I’m less inclined to worry about decorating the house for anything but Christmas.

GRACEN: Ireland is steeped in myth, legends and lore. Do you have any favorites? Please briefly share them with us (include links to other information for interested readers).

KATHRYN: There are so many interesting things to read in Irish myth and legend that it’s hard to pick out just a few. I’ve always been fond of the retellings of the stories of Cuchulain and Finn MacCool by Lady Isabella Augusta Gregory. They were published in the early 1900’s and are out of copyright, so you can read them here:

Many of the old texts were first translated into English in the late 1800’s and can be found on this site. I particularly enjoy the Lady Gregory versions because she chose to render them in the colloquial vernacular of west country Ireland, which gives them a lovely old time feel.

Many of the country folk tales were collected for the first time in this period too, from traditional storytellers.

GRACEN: Spring is considered a time of renewal, a time of rebirth. Do you do anything “special” to commemorate this idea such as planting flowers or cleaning out your house? Please share with us your way of celebrating this time of rebirth.

KATHRYN: I don’t see spring as particularly special. It’s one more part of the wheel of the year. The other three are just as worthy of celebration. My spring activities tend to be practical ones – getting my horse his annual shots, getting my camping gear ready for summer trips, and trying, usually futilely, to get ahead of my yard work before the growing season really takes off.

This year I’ve added a new spring ritual – pumping out my basement. I’ve been learning about the finer points of hydraulic cement, and foresee a sump pump in my immediate future.

GRACEN: Magic is often tied into Celtic myths and legends, or at least we like to think it is. Why do you think that is? Why, in your opinion, does Ireland carry so much mystery and magic for the rest of us?

There’s magic in every ancestral land. I think Ireland may be a little more accessible to many of us because it’s been blessed with great writers who have brought that magic to life in books, songs, and movies for those who don’t live there or have convenient older relatives to hand down the traditions.

It may also be a little more appealing to many of us than other lands because there are a lot of people in the US who have Irish roots in their family tree. But I meet enough people who are fascinated by the stories, who aren’t a bit Irish in heritage, that I think we have to credit good PR too. There’s fascinating magic in many other cultures too, but you have to look a little harder to find it.

GRACEN: If you could be any mythical or legendary Celtic creature or character, what/who would it be and why?

KATHRYN: I think I’d like to be a sidhe (that’s pronounced Shee, if you’re not familiar with the term). They were the Irish elves – tall, elegant, magical and immortal.

GRACEN: Please tell us some of the favorite/best books you’ve read with Celtic myths/legends or ties in them. (They can be fact or fiction, just be sure to indicate what type of books they are in case our readers might want to check them out.)

KATHRYN: I’ve read so many good books based on Celtic/Irish myth over the years that it’s very hard to pick out a short list to recommend.

Morgan Llywelyn has some wonderful modern retellings of many of the Irish legends, as well as well researched historical fiction set in more modern periods in Ireland. There are too many to list individual titles here.

I’ve also been a fan for many years of the work of Fiona MacLeod. I’m never sure what pronoun to use in discussing her work, since Fiona was a pseudonym for a male writer, William Sharpe, but saying his sounds very odd coupled with a female name, so I usually opt for matching the apparent gender of the name. Her work is also out of copyright, and you can read most of it here: There’s an assortment of formats – short stories, a couple of novels, songs and some plays. Her tales center mostly on the Hebrides, but there’s strong Irish influence too.

GRACEN: Now, let’s get to your writing, Kathryn…What genre is your writing considered to be? Why this genre? What was the draw for you?

KATHRYN: My published work so far is largely urban fantasy romance/erotica, mostly featuring M/M relationships. I’ve also just released my first ménage story last month. I have plans on the drawing board for an urban fantasy thriller, some high fantasy, and a historical fantasy.

My first love in reading has always been fantasy, followed closely by science fiction. Those were the sorts of stories that filled my imagination in my formative years, so I suppose it’s natural that when I started having ideas for stories of my own, that’s where they went. I’ve always wanted there to be magic in the world – magic that is inarguably real, and as an author I can create that.

GRACEN: If you could describe your writing with a word or phrase, what would it be? Please be creative and delve into the core of your writing to tell us what word or phrase you want readers to take with them when they've finished reading your story.

KATHRYN: Magic. When you drill down to the core of everything – life and love, you find magic. It’s not necessarily magic in the sense of turning lead into gold or casting lightning bolts or reading minds, although that might be there. That’s surface stuff. The real magic is buried deep in the spirit of everything alive. It’s the stuff of life itself, and love is one of its purer expressions. Love is a power that can transform, like the medieval alchemist seeking to turn lead into gold. Compassion is another. Pour those out into the world, and magic happens; sometimes in very subtle and hard to see ways, but it happens.

GRACEN: Do you prefer magical or human ingenuity for problem solutions? Does that show through in your writing? If so, how?

KATHRYN: Human ingenuity. Magic is a tool. It requires a guiding hand to use it, just like any other tool. My favorite character, Danny O’Riordan, is a clever young human with no real magic. He’s got a few talents, but nothing to compare with the magic native to the Elves or their cousins the Tengri. Either of his lovers could turn him into a greasy black spot with a thought. Yet he’s important to them because of who he is. And he’s important to the politics of the world because he isn’t afraid to think outside the traditional paths, and to say to people “No, you don’t have to do it that way, just because you’ve always done it that way. We’re in trouble here. You need to do something different.” That’s human ingenuity at its core.

GRACEN: Who decides what you write about, you or your muse? What kind of influence do you have over your story, or is the muse always the one strumming the harp?

KATHRYN: It’s a bit of both. When I’m creating a first draft, the best thing I can do is get out of the way and let my muse have its head. I often have a starting point in mind, usually a character or two, and maybe the endpoint of the story, but I’ve stopped worrying about planning out any real details because they’ll change on me, no matter how thoroughly I plan.

Once that initial creative flood has happened, I do have to go back and do some steering though, because my muse has some very bad habits. It knows exactly what those characters look like, so who needs descriptions? And what’s wrong with using the same word three times in one paragraph?

GRACEN: What was the character or creature that you had the most fun creating and why?

KATHRYN: Collectively I think Danny O’Riordan has to rate as the most fun, based purely on longevity. He’s been lurking around in my subconscious since the early 90’s, and was the character that first tempted me to think maybe I should write some of these ideas down. I plotted most of a novel about his life on a long road trip. I still haven’t written that one, but I have managed to finish chronicling several smaller pieces of his life.

He’s pure escapism. He’s physically competent in ways I’ll never even think about achieving. He has all kinds of adventures, which usually end up being resolved happily. There are a few exceptions, because I do try to aim for a small note of realism in my fantasy, and no one’s life is universally happy. That would make for a very boring story. But by and large he’s got a pretty good life – family that love him, lovers that care for him, great kids, and the satisfaction of knowing that he’s been instrumental in saving the world from an invading alien menace. You can do a lot worse if life than that.

GRACEN: If you had the opportunity to meet just one of your character/creature creations in real life, who would it be and why?

KATHRYN: I think I’d like to meet Paolo, the lover (and future husband) of Greg in Leap of Faith ( . He’s gorgeous, artistically talented, and an incredibly loving dom for Greg. Of course he wouldn’t be interested in me, so that wouldn’t do me much good….

GRACEN: Which of your character/creature creations would you never want to meet under any circumstance and why?

KATHRYN: One of the Devourers, from the Danny O’Riordan stories. They’re a race of aliens who are invading Earth and the Elven world. They’re magical creatures which live on pain and life energy. They’ve left behind them a chain of worlds they’ve devoured, hence the name. They suck all the life out of a planet, then move on to the next nearest world. They’re so alien that merely being too close to one can cause mental disorders, and their breeding habits don’t bear thinking about in a PG-rated column. I’ll just say they lay eggs like wasps, and prefer intelligent hosts.

GRACEN: Of all the stories you wrote, which was the storyline that you had the most fun fleshing out? Why?

KATHRYN: I had a huge amount of fun with my latest story, Winter King, which appears in an anthology entitled “I Put A Spell on You”, available from Torquere Press. ( . It’s my first ménage story. It features Danny O’Riordan, his wife Ginny, and his Elven lover King Aran, doing a ritual re-enactment of the seasonal battle between the Summer King and the Winter King. It started out life as a bit of sexual fantasy one morning, and even after repeated edits, which might reasonably be expected to take the fun out of almost anything, I still think parts of it are very hot.

GRACEN: As writers, inspiration comes from everywhere. What, specifically, inspired your latest story, the one we’re promoting here today?

KATHRYN: The story I decided to promote today, in honor of Saint Patrick’s day, is a bit of historical romance. Late 19th and early 20th century Ireland has been a favorite topic of mine for years. There are so many fascinating things going on there – the Easter Rebellion of 1916, which gave rise to modern Ireland, the birth of the trade union movement, the women’s suffrage movement, a huge literary renaissance, and a variety of occult and spiritualist movements. There was also a surprisingly large overlap in terms of the people involved in these important developments. W. B. Yeats, for example, was a huge figure in the literary circles of the time, active in several occult groups, and involved peripherally in the politics.

I’ve had an idea for a novel based on the events leading up to the 1916 rebellion sitting on the back burner for some time. It’s been waiting for the right characters to drive it, since I didn’t want to make my main character one of the major historical players. Shortly before Christmas my muse finally produced the characters, and this little story is their first outing. It’s set in 1904, well before the period to be covered by the novel. I wanted to get a feel for them before getting into the meat of the novel. This is their first meeting, before either of them have been sucked into the great events of the time.


Private Performance
by Kathryn Scannell
16 pages / 7625 words
Available file types - html, lit, pdf, prc, epub and Sony Reader pdf
Heat Rating: Chile (mildly explicit sex)

Making advances to a man you don’t know is a risky proposition in turn of the century Dublin, but Jason Goldsmith is sure he sees signs of interest in the handsome stevedore who is staring at him at a public reception in honor of the premier of the Abbey Theatre where he’s an actor. The risk pays off handsomely.

Christmas is nearly upon them, and Neil is lonely for his family and his home town. Jason has a brilliant idea to take Neil's mind off it, and give him a Christmas Eve to remember. He’ll borrow a set of ladies clothing from the theater wardrobe, and disguise himself as a woman so they can go out on the town openly together. It’s a daring plan, and will be great fun if it works. But can Jason pull off the deception?

Buy Link:


[I had a great deal of fun with this part of the story. Our lads have just finished a bit of very explicit business in an alleyway, when they’re interrupted. Jason, the viewpoint character, is wearing women’s clothing at the moment. ]

"Unhand that young woman immediately, you shameless fornicator!" A strident voice interrupted Jason's moment of bliss. Looking toward the mouth of the alleyway, he saw a stout woman in a black dress, with a shawl over her head. What was she doing there? His brain wasn't quite functioning again yet.

"Shame on you, you great lout, to be sinning so blatantly on the feast of the birth of our blessed lord Jesus! You'll be spending years in purgatory expiating these moments of pleasure." The woman came toward them implacably, making Jason think of a great ship with a full head of steam in its boilers.

Slowly his brain began working again, as some of the blood flow returned to it. The thing he'd thought at first was a shawl was in fact part of a nun's habit. He had no idea what order, but it probably didn't matter anyway. Neil had turned beet red, and was staring at her in complete horror. His mouth was open, but no words were coming out.

Jason ducked around Neil, putting himself between his lover and the apparition of impending doom. He wasn't sure what to do with the situation, but it was abundantly clear that Neil was even less sure, so he'd have to come up with something.

"Sister, we-" Jason tried to interrupt, hoping inspiration would come to him once he started.

"Oh, my dear." The nun's expression changed as she looked at him, to one of sympathy and concern. "Are you all right? Do you need me to summon a constable? Has this brute injured you?"

Jason quickly rethought his approach. He'd expected the nun would take him for a whore, and vent her righteous fury on him, too, but apparently she'd decided he was a respectable young lady. His face was flushed from his orgasm, but that could pass as embarrassment, particularly in the dim light. Maybe he could talk their way out of this yet.

"No, Sister, really, it's all right. Please, don't call anyone. Me da would have a fit. There's no harm done, really." He slipped into a more working-class accent, and smoothed his skirts nervously. "There's no need to be thinking so ill of my poor fiancé Sean here. We're going to be married a just a few weeks, but it's so hard waiting. I didn't think a little kiss or two beforehand would do any harm." Behind him he could hear Neil making choking noises. He hoped Neil would keep his mouth shut and just go along with the story, because God knew Neil couldn't lie to save his life.

The nun looked sternly at them. Now that she was closer he could see her features in the dim light. She was a stout woman, probably weighed nearly 20 stone, and middle-aged. A wisp of curly brown hair escaped from under her head covering. She was looking at him now with concern clear in her blue eyes. "Girl, that way of thinking's been the ruin of many a young lass. Where'll you be if you let him have his way, then he decides he needn't marry you after all? Sure, God will punish him eventually, but it's little good that'll be doing you in this life, you with maybe a baby in your belly, and no one for it to call father."

"I'd do no such thing, Sister. As God is my witness." Neil broke in.

"Easy to say, when it hasn't happened," the nun snapped at him. "Are you sure you don't need me to walk you somewhere safe, girl?"

"No, no, thank you, Sister." Jason answered quickly. "We'll just be walking on to mass, and then home. You're right -- we should be patient. Next month will come soon enough."

The nun looked at them dubiously. "Well, if you're sure. But mark my words, girl. Don't you be letting him under your skirts before the wedding, or you'll regret it." Her face softened. "I'll pray for you both, that he's worthy of the faith you've placed in him. If things go wrong, and you need help, you can find me at the Sisters of Mercy convent on Crofton Road. Ask for Sister Catherine."

"Thank you, Sister. We appreciate your prayers." Neil said in a slightly strangled voice. "Blessed Christmas to you."

"And to both of you," the nun smiled at them.

Jason put an arm on Neil's, as if leaning on him, and urged him down the street away from the alley and the nun watching them go. They walked on for another block, and around a corner, getting well out of sight. Once they had, Jason leaned against a convenient garden wall, and burst into helpless laughter, stifling the sound against his hand.

"Oh, God. I don't believe that just happened. Of all the people to interrupt us. That's just too much." If he'd been wearing his own clothes, he would have doubled over laughing, but the corset got in the way.

Neil stared at him for a long moment, his expression a mix of shock and embarrassment, then gave in and laughed with him. "Fiancé, is it? And we're to be married next month? Lord, I had no idea we were that serious. You are such a wicked man, telling lies to a nun on Christmas Eve."

"Oh, indeed, my wickedness is boundless tonight." Jason grinned at him. "I was about to have my way with you when we were interrupted. Shall we find another secluded spot and pick up where we left off?"

My work:

And here:

My blog: