Guest Blog Archive

Mistletoe Madness Blog Event featuring Paige Tyler

Posted December 7, 2015 By Jennifer

Welcome to the first day of the Mistletoe Madness Blog Event!! I’ve teamed up with That’s What I’m Talking About and Blogging By Liza to bring you some fun holiday posts from a whole slew of awesome authors.

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It’s is a two week event where authors with 2015 winter releases (November 2015 — January 2016) will take over our blogs with guest posts written from one of their character’s POV with a holiday theme (Christmas, Hanukkah, Festivus, New Years, etc.). There will be exclusive bonus scenes, recipes, top 10 lists… all manor of shenanigan is possible. Some authors are including giveaways, too, so be sure to check out each days’ posts! You can check out the full schedule on the Kickoff Post, and I’ve put some handy dandy links for today at the end of this “holiday traditions” scene from Paige Tyler.

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Special Wolf Alpha Team (SWAT)
Becker and Jayna: A Christmas Day Tradition Story
© Paige Tyler

 I love giving readers a peek into the lives of my characters outside of their books, so I thought I’d give you a glimpse of how werewolf/SWAT officer Eric Becker and his mate Jayna Winston, the hero and heroine from my Special Wolf Alpha Team (SWAT) Series, IN THE COMPANY OF WOVES (December 1, 2015), are spending Christmas Day.

Happy Reading!

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Eric Becker leaned back on the couch and tugged his mate, Jayna Winston, closer. She repositioned their new Dachshund puppy Biscuit a little nearer, then pulled the fleece blanket up higher and snuggled against his chest, grabbing a few more minutes of sleep before everyone came out.

Megan Dorsey and her mate Zak Gibson were still in their room getting dressed. Those two had been up late last night…and they hadn’t been hoping to hear Santa’s reindeer on the roof. He wondered when Megan—the smallest and quietest beta werewolf in Jayna’s pack—would tell Zak that keeping their voices down when they made out was a waste of time in a house full of werewolves. Everyone had heard exactly what was going on in their bedroom. Megan knew that of course, but she probably wouldn’t tell Zak for a while. Why freak out the newest—and the only completely human—resident of the loft apartment if it wasn’t necessary?

Joseph Garner, Chris Hughes, and Moe Jenkins, the three other betas who lived there too were in the kitchen fixing plates of leftovers from the big Christmas party at the SWAT compound last night. It had only been six hours since they’d stuffed themselves at the party, but werewolves could put away a lot of food, and turkey, ham, and all the fixings sounded like a pretty damn good breakfast.

When everyone finally made it into the living room ten minutes later still wearing their pajamas, T-shirts, shorts, or whatever else they usually slept in, Becker pressed a kiss to Jayna’s head and gently nudged her awake. It was the beta pack’s first Christmas together and they’d decided to start the tradition of celebrating the holiday by watching movies together. Today was about having fun with family, and for this group, pack was family. Each member of the pack had selected a movie that was special to them and now was the time for the big reveal.

“Okay, let’s see what’s on today’s movie agenda,” Jayna said, smiling at everyone like a proud, happy mother.

In a way, she kind of was. Jayna was the beta pack’s alpha and seeing them happy was just as important to her as making sure they were safe, had a roof over their heads, and were well fed. All pack alphas were like that to some degree, and Jayna was amazing at it.

“You first,” Chris said, pointing at Jayna as he started shoving turkey and mashed potatoes in his face.

Jayna reached into the backpack leaning against the side of the couch. A moment later, she came out with a DVD.

“I picked the movie Elf,” she explained. “I remember watching it with my dad back when I was younger, and because it’s one of the fondest memories I have of him, I wanted to share it with all of you.”

Becker knew that Jayna’s father had died when she was a kid, but other than that, she didn’t talk very much about him. He was honored she was sharing something so special with them, and he knew the rest of the pack felt the same.

Megan revealed her DVD next, holding up an oldie but goodie—Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. “I know every song in this movie by heart and I’m going to sing all of them too, so feel free to join in.”

Everyone laughed at that. Becker could definitely picture sweet little Megan running around the apartment singing at the top of her lungs.

Zak followed his new girlfriend with his favorite movie and another comedy—The Santa Clause. Becker was starting to see a trend here. Everyone seemed to be in the mood for a light-hearted film. He just hoped he didn’t put a kink in the plan when they saw the movie he’d brought.

The trend continued with Chris, who’d brought National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. “The part where the dad wires up the whole house with lights and practically takes down the local power grid reminds me of living in Biloxi. Those good ol’ boys I grew up with really knew how to rig the hell out of Christmas lights.”

Moe—the youngest member of the pack—was next. Sure enough, he pulled out How the Grinch Stole Christmas. “You can’t have Christmas without the Grinch. And Jim Carrey makes the best Grinch ever.”

Joseph finally took things in slightly different direction—barely—by holding up The Nightmare Before Christmas. “I figure since we’re all a little strange, it’d be good to have a little strange in our movie agenda.”

Moe shook his head, a dubious look on his face. “You can call it strange. I just call it freaky. There’s something wrong with that Tim Burton dude. The man needs some psychological help.”

Becker couldn’t say Moe was wrong. He couldn’t remember ever seeing a Tim Burton movie that wasn’t weird in some way.

Megan was just getting up to load her movie first—insisting that Christmas couldn’t start without Rudolph—when Jayna looked at Becker.

“What movie did you bring?” she asked. “And don’t tell me you forgot. I’ve been reminding you for two weeks.”

Becker shook his head. “Nope, I didn’t forget. I have it right here.” He reached over the side of the couch and grabbed his DVD out of a bag he had sitting there. “But I kind of went in a different direction. I hope you guys don’t mind.”

He held up his movie and watched as everyone’s brows lifted.

“Eric, I don’t think Die Hard is a Christmas movie,” Jayna finally said.

“Sure it is,” Becker insisted. “The whole movie takes place around a Christmas party at the Nakatomi Place, there’s Christmas music in the background, and one of the would-be thieves even has a Christmas stocking hat stuck on his head after the hero John McClane breaks his neck. I mean, what could be more Christmassy than that?”

Jayna opened her mouth to point out that there were a lot of things more Christmassy than a thief with a broken neck wearing a holiday stocking hat, but closed it again when she looked around at everyone else and saw that they seemed okay with the movie selection.

“Okay,” she finally said. “But we watch your movie last. Otherwise everyone will be shouting Yippee Ki-Yay the rest of the day.”

“Deal,” he agreed. “Bring on Rudolph and let’s get these Christmas movies started.”

Jayna snuggled up close to him, placing a sleeping Biscuit on his chest. “You’re crazy, you know that?”

Becker grinned and kissed her as Megan started the movie. It wasn’t easy to kiss someone with a puppy sitting on his chest, but he made it work. “Yeah, I know. But that’s part of the reason you love me.”

Jayna smiled. “Probably.”

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The third book in Paige’s SWAT team series was just released on December 1st… here’s a bit about it…

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He opened his mouth to order her to drop the MP5 she had aimed at him, but nothing would come out. It was like she’d robbed him of the ability to speak. Shooting her wasn’t an option, though. And the idea of arresting her didn’t make him feel any better.

There’s a new gang of criminals in town who are organized and ruthless in the extreme. When Eric Becker, along with the rest of the Dallas SWAT team, ends up in the middle of a shootout, he immediately senses werewolves-a lot of them. Turns out, the new bad guys are a pack of wolf shifters.

In a spray of gunfire, Becker comes face-to-face with the most gorgeous woman he’s ever seen. Becker does the logical thing. He hides her and leaves the scene with the rest of his team.

Jayna Winston has no idea why that SWAT guy helped her, but she’s glad he did. Ever since she and her pack mates got mixed up with those Eastern European mobsters, everything had pretty much fallen apart.

So what’s a street-savvy thief like Jayna going to do with a hot alpha-male wolf who’s a police officer?

 

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Be sure to check out the holiday fun happening over on the other blogs today…

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Pawlease help us celebrate Animal Welfare Week (October 5-11) and National Animal Shelter and Rescue Appreciation Week (November 2-8) with DOGHOUSE and the Gin & Tonic Mystery Series by L.A. Kornetsky!

Check below for a guest post from L.A. and a chance to win a print copy of DOGHOUSE!

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Praise for the third Gin & Tonic Mystery, Doghouse:

“Infamously nosy Ginny Mallard may be unlicensed as an investigator, but she has begun to make a name for herself as the unofficial champion of the tongue-tied.  In the third installment of L.A. Kornetsky’s Gin & Tonic Mystery series, Doghouse finds Ginny getting herself tied up in a possible underground dogfighting ring.  With help from her bartender friend Teddy Tonica, his tabby cat and Ginny’s Shar Pei puppy, they have to figure out what’s going on before someone else gets hurt.”

—Cat Fancy Magazine, November 2014 issue

“Human and animal characters are equally appealing.  A thoroughly enjoyable read.”  I Love a Mystery

Doghouse is a crafty mystery with engaging characters and countless unknowns…L.A. Kornetsky makes mysteries inventively delightful, and Doghouse entertains with wit and cleverness.”  Single Titles

“I recommend it to those that really like animals and cozy mysteries.”  Books and Things

“The third Gin & Tonic “researchtigations” is an appealing anthropomorphist amateur sleuth enhanced by life in a cheerful neighborhood bar. The lead humans and their animal owners remain fresh leads while the case proves bloody in the ring and the bar.”  The Mystery Gazette
“Sniffing out clues…L.A. Kornetsky brings back Ginny Mallard and her bartender friend Teddy Tonica, along with Ginny’s pet shar-pei puppy and Teddy’s tabby cat, for their third outing in Doghouse.”  Library Journal

Praise for the second Gin & Tonic Mystery, Fixed:

“[Fixed] is the second foray into the lives of a very unlikely pair of investigators; unlikely and a whole lot of fun…Collared was the first title that introduced this extremely fun ‘family and friends’ grouping, and the author has come back with a sequel that will truly make Gin & Tonic a well-known duo! Very light-hearted, this is a great book. Any reader who likes the ‘cozy’ avenue will love this mystery, with a little bit of cat and dog language thrown in for fun.”  Suspense Magazine

Praise for the first Gin & Tonic Mystery, Collared:

“The plot moves quickly, enhanced by smart dialog and good characterizations…Recommended for purchase where pet mysteries are popular.”  Library Journal

 

Summary of Doghouse:

DoghouseAmateur sleuths Ginny Mallard and Teddy Tonica and their furry partners prove in L.A. Kornetsky’s DOGHOUSE (Pocket Books; July 22, 2014; $7.99) that twelve legs are better than four when it comes to solving a risky new case in the third novel from the “entertaining” (Library Journal) Gin & Tonic mystery series.  At her favorite Seattle bar, professional concierge Ginny Mallard can always count on a perfectly mixed gimlet and a friendly welcome for her shar-pei, Georgie, from resident cat, Penny.  On this visit, Ginny gets an unexpected bonus.  One of the regulars asks her and her sometime partner, bartender Teddy Tonica, to save an old friend who’s facing eviction.  This is no simple landlord spat.  Rumors abound of an underground dogfighting ring on the premises—a crime guaranteed to get Gin’s hackles up. Gin and Teddy want to believe the old man is innocent of all charges, thought a new piece of evidence suggests otherwise.  Penny and Georgie keep their noses to the ground as they help their humans investigate the vicious animal rights case.  But the truth is buried deep, and digging it up will unearth dangerous complications for owners and animals alike.

 

EXCERPT:

Theodore—Teddy to nearly everyone not related by blood—Tonica was king of his domain. Or maybe ringleader was a better description, he thought with a grin, snapping the bar towel in his hand at a patron who tried to reach over the bar and change the music. “Hands off the dial, Joel.” The radio was set to a local jazz station, and it didn’t get turned up any higher than could be heard at the bar itself. Those were the rules, and everyone knew it.

The joint was jumping—well, jumping for a relatively quiet part of Seattle early on a Thursday evening, anyway. The eleven bar stools were in use, and most of the chairs were taken, too, people settling in to stay for a while. It wasn’t the crazed rush of a weekend, but there was enough work to keep both hands busy. Teddy set up two beers and pushed them across the bar with a professional flourish, then paused to check on his waitress.

Stacy was working the floor, moving around the tables with economy, unloading her tray, taking orders, and swiping empties. He’d been worried that once she was boosted up to off-shift bartender she’d not want to waitress anymore, but Stacy seemed to slip between the two roles without hesitation or ego. He suspected that she made more money in tips as a waitress, anyway. The regulars here weren’t stingy. You couldn’t be, if you wanted to keep coming back week after week. And people did.

The phone in his pocket vibrated slightly, and instinct moved his hand toward it, even though he knew better. The motion was checked when the guy leaning against the bar held up a hand with several bills folded between his fingers. Teddy nodded in the guy’s direction, holding up his index finger to say he’d be right there. He fished the phone out of his pocket and checked the number, even though he was pretty sure who was calling. “Not now, people, not now,” he muttered, tapping the button to refuse the call, and shoving the phone back into his pocket. His sisters and cousins seemed to think that he needed to be dragged into the latest family flap. He disagreed, vehemently.

This was why he’d left the East Coast.

“What can I do for ya?” he asked, finally turning to the new customer. The guy ordered a winter ale and a Pink Squirrel. Because Teddy was a professional, he didn’t roll his eyes at the order, even though he wanted to. It embarrassed him that he actually knew how to make a Pink Squirrel. Mary’s was a respectable neighborhood bar, a place for draft beers and classy drinks, not foofy sugar-bombs. But the customer was always right, so long as they were sober.

He supposed it could have been worse. After a local newspaper did a puff piece on the “crime-solving bartender” and the exotic cat smuggling case they’d worked last year, Patrick, the owner of the bar, had suggested that they create a specialty drink, something cat-related. Teddy had managed to avoid doing it long enough that he hoped that idea had died a natural death. He was a bartender, not a mixologist, or whatever the trendy title was these days. Patrick could run specials like that at his new place when it opened, not here.

“Besides,” Teddy said now, lifting his head to look at the top of the shelves behind him, “you’re the only cat that this bar needs.”

Only the tip of her tail and the edge of one white-dipped paw were visible, but he was pretty sure Penny’s whiskers twitched in agreement. Not that an animal could understand the words, but the fact that the little tabby considered Mary’s her domain—and Teddy her human—was a fact among the regulars of the bar. Even he’d come to accept it. He laughed at himself now. Who knew letting a bedraggled kitten come in out of the rain would turn him into . . . well, a pet person was overstating the matter, but a specific animal person, anyway.

The front door opened, a burst of wet air rushing in, and someone yelled out a complaint before the door was quickly shut again. Even without looking up, Teddy knew who had come in, because Penny leaped down from her perch, landing gracefully on the back counter. She only ever reacted like that for one visitor.

“One gimlet, just like the lady likes,” he said, pulling up the ingredients even as Ginny slid up to the bar. As crowded as it had been, a stool suddenly opened for her, and she took it like a queen accepting her throne.

“One of these days,” the blonde said, “I’m going to come in here and order a beer, just to mess with you.”

“No you won’t.”

Ginny laughed. “No, I probably won’t. But I might.”

She might, he thought, especially if she thought she could catch him out. Ginny Mallard had a streak of mischief a mile wide for all that she looked like butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth just then. Either she’d had a good day at the office, or he was about to get hit with the worst joke he’d ever heard. Or, possibly, both.

“And hello to you, too, Mistress Penny,” she said to the cat, who gave her a delicate sniff and then leaped down to the floor to visit with the newcomer she was actually interested in, Ginny’s shar-pei, Georgie, who was happily settling at her mistress’s feet.

Until recently, Georgie, like all other canines whose owners frequented Mary’s, had been relegated to the sidewalk outside. There was an unofficial tie-up next to the bike rack where dogs could rest in the shade, out of the way of foot traffic. Since Teddy had become manager, those rules had been loosened, until Georgie now took it as much her right to come inside as it was Ginny’s.

One cat and one dog. That was as far as he’d let himself slip.

“Try not to get stepped on,” Ginny said to both animals, and then turned her attention back to the human across the bar. “Busy, for a Thursday. Did every other bar in town close?”

“Hah. And actually, yeah. The Fish is having renovations done, so their space is about half the usual.” Teddy made a face. “I think we’re getting the overflow, based on the level of hipster tonight.”

Like most neighborhoods in Seattle, Ballard had an assortment of drinking establishments, each with its own atmosphere and clientele. The nearest competitor, Fish, was upscale, while Nickles, across the avenue, attracted college students. Mary’s had intentionally cultivated a “neighborhood joint” feel. It was the place you went to talk your best friend out of a bad idea, or took a date when you were finally ready to introduce her to your friends. There was no jukebox or band, no pool table or dance floor, and only a small bar menu with just enough choices to soak up your beer, not to replace dinner. The only time outsiders showed up in any number was for Trivia Night, which had the reputation as being one of the toughest, most fiercely contested competitions in all of Seattle. The rest of the time, Teddy could identify 90 percent of his customers by name.

He’d worked flavor-of-the-month clubs before. He much preferred this.

He’d met Ginny the first week he’d started here. The curvy blonde had walked in that first Trivia Night, sat down with her team, and helped dismember every opponent—including his own newly joined team—with a combination of razor-sharp mind and good-natured snark. The two of them hadn’t clicked so much as clacked, and it had taken another year for that to ease into a comfortable rivalry.

In fact, it was only in the past year that he could really say that they had become friends, and most of that probably had to do with Georgie. Penny had taken to the shar-pei puppy the very first time they’d met, which gave the two humans more reason to converse. That friendship had only deepened, much to both their surprise, when she’d talked him into working with her. Ginny had taken her real job—personal concierge services—and used it to start a sideline of private investigations, or what she called “researchtigations.” It had been against his better judgment, helping her out, and he was still amazed that he had agreed.

Still, he admitted that the challenge of these side jobs had intrigued him enough that he’d said yes not just once, but four times.

And that challenge had also gotten him shot at, attacked by a big cat, padlocked to a walk-in freezer, and his family name bandied about. That last had probably bothered him more than anything else, he admitted.

Teddy squinted at her suspiciously now. If she had a new gig, she was on her own. He wasn’t going to let her talk him into anything more. But saying that up front would only challenge her.

“You here to drink away your cares, or celebrate your brilliance?” he asked instead, setting a napkin down and placing her drink on top of it with a flourish.

“Neither. Or both. To celebrate my brilliant cares?” She shrugged, and took a sip of her drink. “I made one client deliriously happy with me today, and have two new clients waiting for me to send them contracts, so Georgie gets to keep in kibble for another few months. Life is good.” She picked up the wedge of lime and sucked at it delicately.

Every time he saw her do that, he cringed. “Jesus, what’re you, at risk for scurvy? At least have the decency to drink tequila if you’re going to do that.”

“Wuss.” She left the rind in her mouth, pressed up against her teeth, and gave him a green smile, making him roll his eyes. Ginny Mallard looked like a classy dame, but some days she had the sophistication of a fifth grader.

“If I can interrupt this group hug?” Stacy came up behind Ginny, sliding her tray onto the bar and ducking quickly to make her greetings to Georgie, who responded with an enthusiastic face-licking, if Stacy’s giggle was any guide. The waitress resurfaced, grinning. “Boss, I need three Black and Tans with back, and a glass of the Cabernet. Hi, Ginny. Still up for bowling next weekend?”

Ginny flinched, dropping the lime wedge onto her napkin. “I really agreed to that?”

“You did. And bring the man. I can’t believe you’ve been dating for months and we haven’t met him yet.”

They hadn’t even learned the guy’s name yet, for that matter. “She’s afraid to bring him here,” Teddy said, pulling the first of the beers. “That’s assuming he even exists, anyway.”

“Don’t start,” Ginny warned them. “I adhere to the six-month rule for relationships. Let them get comfortable before you throw them to your friends.”

“Yeah, but we’re not friends, we’re Mary’s,” Stacy protested.

“Yeah, well I don’t live here like some people . . .”

“Ginny, you’re in four days a week,” Teddy said, finishing with the beers and pouring the wine. “If you actually drank worth a damn, we’d engrave your name on one of the stools.”

“And on that note, I’m gone.” Stacy loaded her tray and disappeared back into the crowd.

“So,” he said, leaning forward and waggling his eyebrows like a cut-rate Groucho Marx. “It’s almost been six months. . . .”

“Don’t start,” she repeated, her eyes narrowing in clear warning, and he backed off. He could tease her about Georgie, about her endless love of her technology, of her impatience and her lack of schmoozing skills, but not about her personal life. Fair enough. He had no desire to open up about his, either. That thought made him look guiltily at his phone, then he went back to work, leaving her to her drink.

“G’night, Gin,” someone called out, and she raised a hand in farewell, even though she hadn’t actually talked to him tonight. It had been pretty crackling when she walked in at seven thirty, but the bar was starting to clear out by ten—apparently the overflow from Fish were early-to-bed types. Ginny had switched to ginger ale about an hour ago, as usual, but sitting at the bar people-watching was preferable to going home and trying to do more work, or staring at the television. Rob—the boyfriend of speculation—was heading out on a business trip first thing tomorrow, so she was on her own for the weekend.

Georgie clearly didn’t mind hanging out here: the dog was snoring happily at Ginny’s feet, Penny curled up between oversized canine paws, also asleep. Ginny looked at the two of them, and shook her head fondly, then pulled out her tablet and snapped a picture and posted it to the bar’s Facebook page. Then, unable to help herself, she checked her email. One message was from her mother, which she ignored. The other . . . “Oh, are you kidding me?” She sighed. So much for not working anymore tonight, but if she left it until the morning the client would work himself into a frenzy—and she wouldn’t be able to sleep well for worrying.

Grumbling, she started pulling up the information she’d need to put out this particular fire. Fortunately, she’d developed the ability to shut out the ambient noise and movement of the bar around her, and lose herself in the work.

Sometime around ten thirty, an older man wearing cargo pants and a gray sweatshirt under a mostly clean apron came out from the back and sat down next to her, glaring at the thirtysomething couple who had been leaning against the bar waiting for service, until they made room for him. Ginny turned her head and gave him a curious look. A former boxer, Seth was in his sixties, balding and wrinkled, but his body was still strong enough to give would-be troublemakers pause. The older man ran Mary’s kitchen, if you could call the galley space behind the bar anything that grand, and he wasn’t a fan of Ginny, or Georgie, or Penny, for that matter. In fact, Ginny wasn’t sure he was a fan of anything, although Tonica said that he was actually a good guy. For a professional grouch.

When he sat there and didn’t say anything, Ginny decided to return the favor. It seemed only polite. After a while, though, it got to be weird, of the creepy-weird variety, and she swiveled around on her stool to look directly at him.

“Kitchen’s closed?”

“Stacy knows where to find me, anyone wants to put an order in.” He was staring at the mug of coffee in his hands—at least, she thought it was coffee. She’d never actually seen Seth drink alcohol. Not that she spent much time watching him, or anything.

“Uh-huh.” She might not have Tonica’s people-sense, but something was definitely weird. She looked up, trying to find Tonica, catching his eye and tilting her head to let him know that he was needed down here. Whatever was up, she didn’t want to get hit with it alone.

The bartender worked his way back down the bar to the two of them, taking the situation in with a brief glance and absolutely no change of expression. “Top that off for you?” he offered, reaching for the coffeepot, but Seth covered the mug with one hand. “I’m good.”

It was coffee, then, or Tonica was hiding something high-test in the pot. That wasn’t in character for either one of them, though.

Tonica waited, and Ginny waited, and Seth stared into his coffee mug, his face set in stone. The silence was starting to get to really awkward when he grunted, and finally spoke.

“I gotta talk to you two.”

Them, not her. Even in Ginny’s relief, she was amused at how those words seemed to move Tonica into “sympathetic bartender” mode without his even noticing. He leaned forward, resting his elbows on the bar top, left hand folding into his right, his expression open and attentive. It worked wonders on the drunks who unburdened themselves to him on a regular basis, but Seth didn’t seem to notice.

“Me, too?” Ginny asked, just to make sure.

“Yeah, you, too, Blondie,” Seth growled. Whatever it was he wanted to talk about, he wasn’t happy about it. “I want to hire you.”

It took a lot, at this point in his life, to leave Theodore Johan Tonica dumbfounded. Seth had just managed it. “You want to what?”

The old man growled slightly. “You heard what I said.”

“I heard, I just wanted to make sure I heard right. I might have been hallucinating.” Teddy realized, even as the words came out of his mouth, that joking wasn’t the way to go. The old man looked as unhappy—and as uncomfortable—as he’d ever seen him, and that was saying something. Even Ginny had picked up on it, her professional “I’m trained, I can help you” expression firmly in place, but her hazel eyes widened with shock.

“You mean, as investigators?”

“No, as a bartender. Of course as an investigator.” Seth might be uncomfortable, but he wasn’t at a loss for snark. “I need the two of you to look into something for me.”

“Ah. Um.” Bartenders learned to roll with the punches, verbal or otherwise, but this had caught him off guard. Seth, asking for their help? “You know we’re not licensed, or anything like that, right? I mean, maybe . . .”

“If I wanted to go to someone else—if I could go to someone else—I would’ve. You in, or not?”

“Tell us what this is about, and we can tell you if we can help you.”

Teddy noted with relief that Ginny had learned that much at least: she no longer leaped in with a promise to make everything better before she learned what “everything” was. That was good, because while every instinct Teddy had was telling him to say yes, that anything that made Seth ask a favor had to be serious, the reality was that anything that drove Seth to ask a favor had to be serious. He’d already said—several times—that he wasn’t interested in continuing this “researchtigations” thing Ginny had dragged him into, much less get involved in a friend’s problems that required such help. . . .

“I’m asking for a friend,” Seth started, and then shot them both a glare. “Shut it. I am.”

Both of them kept their expressions serious and intent, although Ginny’s lips twitched slightly with repressed laughter, her shock fading to interest.

“And?” she asked.

“A friend of mine, old friend from my boxing days. He’s getting screwed over by his landlord. Bastard’s throwing him out of the house he was renting, claims he’s doing something illegal and that invalidates the lease. Bullshit accusations, but he’s . . . Deke’s a good guy but he took a few too many hits and not enough mat, if you know what I mean.”

“Punch drunk?”

“Whatever they’re calling it now. He’s a little slow, but he’s a good guy, good heart, probably doesn’t even jaywalk ’cause he knows it’s wrong. But you don’t want to put him up against some suit of a lawyer, someone’d make him look like a fool. Deke’d come out badly. And the thing is,” Seth hesitated a moment. “Deke needs to stay in this house. He’s been there for years, it’s familiar, and he needs that familiarity. You understand?”

Teddy thought maybe he did. An older man, not entirely there, suddenly homeless? That was a recipe for a fast decline and a bad ending.

“What do you want us to do?” he asked, resigning himself to the inevitable.

“Hell if I know, whatever it is you do. I just want proof the landlord’s a lying sack of scum, so we can make him back down.”

“What are they accusing him of?” Ginny asked. “The illegal part, I mean.”

“Bein’ part of a dogfighting ring.” Seth blew out a heavy gust of air, smelling slightly of pickles and cigarettes, and his shoulders slumped, just a little. “Of all the hare-assed ideas ever. Deke might’ve hit a few guys in his time, but he wouldn’t ever do that to an animal. And dogfighting? He’s not a brainiac, but even he’s not that dumb, and he sure as hell isn’t that mean.”

Before the whole scandal with the sports figure and dogfighting a few years back, Teddy had never given it a thought, never known that that was a thing people did. Once he’d seen the photos in the news, he’d been horrified and disgusted, if not terribly surprised: people did horrible and disgusting things, especially to creatures that couldn’t fight back. But it was ugly stuff. His first, instinctive reaction was to back away, fast, even as Seth insisted his friend was innocent.

“If you two are half as good as you say you are, should be a piece of cake, right?”

Ginny started to bristle, but Teddy lifted a hand, calming her—for the moment. Seth was even more wound up about this than he’d thought, at first. Whatever was going on, it was important.

“Is there any chance that your friend could be involved—even if by, I don’t know, accident?” Teddy held up a hand again when Seth glared at him. “We need to know. People stumble into all kinds of stupid things, especially if they’re . . . not the sharpest knives in the drawer.”

Seth glared at him some more, then shrugged. “Maybe. I don’t know. But he swears he didn’t do anything wrong, didn’t do anything illegal. And I believe him.”

“Why?” Ginny asked. “Why do you believe him? I mean, you know people do dumb things if they need the money, and you said he wasn’t, well . . .”

Seth pushed his hands against the bar, but didn’t move away. “I can’t doubt him,” he said quietly, all the anger gone. “You let someone down once, it’s human nature. You let ’em down again . . .

“It’s not in him. Not that. You gotta trust me on that.” Seth normally looked young for his age, but just then, he was an old man.

Ginny looked at Teddy and shrugged, just the slightest lift of one shoulder.

“Is there anything else going on?” Teddy asked. “Maybe a score being settled, he got on the wrong side of his landlord, somehow?”

“Deke swears he didn’t do anything to piss the guy off, but, well, he wouldn’t mean to, but the guy’s got no filter, you know? He thinks it, he says it. Sometimes he says it before he thinks it.”

“So what do you want us to do, specifically?” Ginny asked, turning her drink an exact quarter turn, then looking directly at Seth. He’d given her enough shit in the past few years. Teddy couldn’t blame her for pushing him, now.

Seth met her gaze squarely. “I want you to prove he didn’t do anything wrong. Save his dumb ass, before he’s homeless, before this breaks him so bad I can’t put the pieces back together again. He’s only got a couple more days before he has to get out. He sure as hell can’t stay with me, I barely got room to turn around myself, and who’d rent a place to him, in this market, without references? He was barely making ends meet in that piece of shit house, as it was.”

Ginny exhaled, a tiny breath through pursed lips. Unlike Teddy, she was a dog person. He could only imagine her reaction to the accusation. But—not for the first time—she surprised him. When she looked at Teddy, her gaze told him that this was his call; that she’d go with whatever he decided.

He’d said no to jobs before, especially after the walk-in freezer incident. He had a full-time job—hell, he had a more-than-full-time job. So did Ginny. Neither of them needed more stress, and it wasn’t as though Seth was going to be able to pay them much, considering he knew exactly how much the old man earned. . . . But Seth was a stand-up guy, for a grouch, and he’d asked them for help.

And it sounded like Deke needed somebody on his side.

“All right,” Teddy said, like there had ever been any doubt. “We’ll look into it for you. But”—he held up a finger when Seth started to mutter what might have been a thank-you—“if there’s even the slightest hint that your friend is guilty, we’re done and you drop it. All right?”

“He’s not guilty.”

“All right?”

“All right.”

“Finally!” At Ginny’s feet, Penny let out a satisfied grunt. Her eyes were half lidded as though she were still asleep, but she had been listening to the humans talking above them. Georgie’s wuffling snore rumbled underneath her, and there were other people talking, so she couldn’t hear all the words, but she knew the tone in her human’s voice, and Georgie’s human, too. They were sniffing something new out. Something that needed doing, or fixing. And that meant that things were about to get interesting again.

Penny yawned, her tongue curling against her teeth, and stretched her body out lazily, slowly waking all the way up. She wanted to wake Georgie up, too, but the dog would get too excited and distract the humans. For now, Penny would do what she did best: listen, watch, and learn.

 

Author Guest Post: LAG-biophoto-200x300

I’m getting ready for a move, and part of that is decluttering.  Getting rid of things – objects, old paperwork – that I don’t need to haul with me any more.

But in a folder of otherwise no-longer-needed papers, there’s a sheet I’m keeping.  It’s from the ASPCA, and it documents my adoption of the kitten once known as Minna, who became my beloved Pandora, gone now a little over a year.

There’s no point to keeping the sheet of paper.  All it does is say that I paid x amount for a 4 month old female tiger kitten, spayed.  But throwing it out isn’t an option, either.  Because this was the first connection I had to Pandora, the first contract we made with each other: I would give her food, shelter, care, and a lap when she wanted it.  I would give her a home.  And in return, she gave me such love and companionship, letting her go at the end was no less a pain than losing a human friend.

I don’t have documentation from Indy-J, who was found on the street as a weeks-old kitten, and lived a long and adventurous life before cancer took her in 2000.  But Pandora’s adoption paper will go in the current file, along with the papers for  our current residents, Boomerang (aka Boomer you idiot), and Castiel the Kitten of Thursday (aka DamnitCas).

Because you keep the important moments, the documents that say “this is how you changed my life.”

(and some of you may note that I invite disaster in the renaming of my cats.  You would not be wrong.  But where’s the fun of living with Sir Napsalot?)

About the author:

L.A. Kornetsky is the author of two previous Gin & Tonic mysteries.  She lives in New York City with two cats and a time-share dog, and also writes fantasy under the name Laura Anne Gilman.  She welcomes visitors to www.lauraannegilman.net, @LAGilman and Facebook L-A-Kornetsky.

**** GIVEAWAY ****

For a chance to win a print copy of DOGHOUSE, book 3 in the Gin & Tonic Mystery series, leave a comment below with any urban fantasy, paranormal romance, or paranormal mystery book that has a named pet in the storyline. Feel free to name more than one, but you can only be entered to win once. Contest starts now and goes to the end of Animal Welfare Week, at midnight on Saturday, October 11th. Winner will be chosen and contacted by email on Sunday, October 12th.

GOOD LUCK!!

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I’m sure all of you have followed this blog for a while are familiar with my Coastal Magic Convention. For those who aren’t familiar, here’s a brief introduction…

CoastalMagic2015Vertical4Coastal Magic is a super casual, urban fantasy and paranormal romance focused convention in Daytona Beach, FL. With panels designed to start interesting discussion, and meet & greets with fun themes, we’ve got something for every fan. Join us for reader, blogger, and author shenanigans, and lots of “supernatural” inspired activities. Saturday’s charity book sale and signing is open to convention attendees, and FREE to the public. Come take a bite out of the beach with us!! Feb 5-8, 2015

Seressia Glass is one of the many fantastic Featured Authors for February’s event, and she was kind enough to interrupt her deadline schedule to share a bit about writing both paranormal AND contemporary stories, and how to juggle the two. Thanks so much to Laura, from Little Read Riding Hood, for arranging the post!

 

SYG03_1Two Names, Multiple Genres

 

I write under two names and in multiple genres. As Seressia Glass, I’ve written contemporary romance, paranormal romance, and urban fantasy with an upcoming contemporary, SPICE, coming in November. As Mallery Malone, I’ve written a medieval romance set in Ireland and contemporary romance with the first of the steamy Billionaire’s Club: New Orleans series, KNOCK OUT released July first.

Though this year is all about the steamy contemporary romances for both pen names, I love writing paranormal romance and urban fantasy especially since I get to weave my love of Ancient Egyptian mythology into my stories. I had so much fun writing my Sons of Anubis jackal shifters that I plan to self-publish more novellas in that series. I also plan to self-publish another three stories in my Shadowchasers urban fantasy series. Look for those continuations to happen next year.shadowfallfinal

It’s not easy switching gears from one genre to another, but it’s not impossible. For me, my stories at their core are about people facing their fears and making it through to the other side with the person or people who accept them as they are. It doesn’t matter if it’s shapeshifting jackals fighting the undead or a magic wielding bounty hunter who’s in danger of becoming the very thing she hunts. The emotional drive, the motivations and internal conflicts are the same. It’s the worlds that are different.

So how do I cleanse my brain when switching genres? Usually by reading something that’s completely outside of the genre I just completed. If I’ve just completed a paranormal romance, I’ll pick up an M/M or ménage erotic romance. If I’ve finished a contemporary project, I’m probably reaching for an urban fantasy or a historical romance.

My processes for writing in each genre is different too. Strangely enough, while I write to music for my paranormal and urban fantasy work—usually something New Age or world beat, or industrial if I’m writing a fight scene—I don’t write to music when I write contemporary. I do write with scent—usually rosemary or a clarity blend going in the oil burner. I suppose it’s because since the contemporaries are here and now—or rather, my version of here and now—it’s a lot easier to sink into the story and the characters. With paranormal romance and urban fantasy, I’m creating other, a world with different rules, different logic, different requirements. Though the internal conflicts are similar, the external conflicts aren’t. So I have a work a little harder to slip into that world, making sure that the rules and restrictions that I’ve established in previous stories are followed. Once I’ve set the mood, it’s easier to pull on the mental writer cap for that world, and the words begin to flow.

91heounmvfl-_sl1500_There are times when I have to write in both, like when I was finishing up my last Sons of Anubis novella while working on the proposal for the new contemporary series. Usually clearing the palate involved going to Facebook and spending way too much time playing Candy Crush. I’m proud to say that I’ve finally broken that addiction, but I’d made it past level 500 before I hit a wall!

Why do I write in different genres? Easy—I love to read different genres. I’ve been a voracious reader since I could understand the words on the cereal box. I went from comics to science fiction to fantasy then finally discovered romance novels in high school. I was thrilled to see so many subgenres in romance and I’ve enjoyed writing in the ones I love. I’ll keep going as long as I have stories to tell.

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Guest Blog: Sit! Stay! Swoon! by Jessa Slade

Posted July 5, 2013 By Jennifer

Sit! Stay! Swoon!

JessaI write paranormal romance, urban fantasy romance, and science fiction romance, so I like to think I have a fairly active imagination, and sometimes even I still think, “Well, that’s just crazy.”

That’s kind of what went through my head when a sexy Alpha werewolf jumped into my dark fey storyworld. Oh, Beck Villanova looked like a great hero. He had the attitude, the moves… and the requisite rippling abs 😉 But when he showed up, I originally told him to take a seat and I’d be with him after I finished the Steel Born story I had in mind.

Yeah, turns out, you don’t deny an Alpha werewolf. Here’s a scene from MATED BY MOONLIGHT where Merrilee briefly considers denying him:

Beck was magnificent, even for wolf-kind. He sacrificed none of his immense size to the change. If anything, his heavy ruff and luxurious tail tipped with silver made him seem even larger. His eyes were the same molten gold though. Not exactly the same, of course. A wereling’s eyes always seemed brighter, as if some tarnish of the human flesh was scoured away. Despite the flattening effects of the moonlight, the gold gleamed at her with a purity that made her shuffle her paws uncomfortably in the long grass.

She tilted back her head to stare up at the moon and breathed out a long sigh as she shifted. Her bones ached and her skin felt seared by terrible sunburn as she made the change. She reared up onto her back legs—no, her only pair of legs now as she shifted back to her human flesh—so she could stand over him.

But when her vision cleared, Beck was standing too, big and naked.

Like Merrilee, I whined and I thrashed around a bit, but Beck gripped the back of my neck in that oh-so irresistible way that male Alphas have, and said, “You. Me. This story. Now.”

When he put it that way…

I wasn’t sure the Steel Born world was big enough for werelings. These shapeshifting creatures are ruled by wild, earthy passions that didn’t quite fit with the seething, restrained desires of the dark fey folk who stalk through DARK HUNTER’S TOUCH and A LITTLE NIGHT MUSE.

But turns out, Beck was right. Who better to rip apart the fantastical (and sometimes terrifying) glamours of the phaedrealii – the exiled court of my magical and forgotten beings – than a big, bold, bad wolf?

The werelings walk in the light of the verita luna – the Second Truth – which is their inner beast. Though they have two shapes, both are true to who they are. Meanwhile, the phae are beings of illusion and dreams, where truth is what they make of it.

I think most of us feel sometimes that we are walking an uncertain line between what is “true” and the changes we want to make real. Maybe we all have a little bit of phae and a little bit of wereling inside us already. So fine, Beck, quit howling at me. You can come play in my storyworld.

See, this is why Alphas are so arrogant.

Still, I worry I should’ve made him wait. You give an Alpha male werewolf an inch and he’ll run you for miles. Or maybe that’s not why I’m panting 😉 So what do you think: Could you say “sit” to an Alpha male werewolf? Leave a comment for a chance to win a pair of “Alpha’s Heart” Swarovski dangle earrings. Giveaway starts now, and ends at midnight, pacific, on Saturday, July 6th. Good luck, everyone!!

earrings

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MATED BY MOONLIGHT

Steel Born #3, Harlequin Nocturne Cravings

cover Mated By Moonlight Jessa SladeAs the latest in a long line of female Alphas, Merrilee Delemont lives by the code be strong always. While she will never forsake her duty to her pack, she sometimes longs for a mate to share her life with. At least she’s found someone to share her bed: Beck Villanova, leader of the neighboring wolf pack.

Their red-hot attraction and struggle for dominance leads to wild sex, but any chance of a real relationship goes up in smoke. Until phae invaders threaten the peace of their remote valley, forcing Merrille and Beck to finally decide which is more important: vying for power, or a passionate partnership that could change their lives forever.

***

Jessa Slade writes paranormal romance, urban fantasy romance and science fiction romance. Basically, anything with woo-woo and woo-hoo! The third book in her Steel Born series—and her first werewolf book!—MATED BY MOONLIGHT, is out now.

JessaSlade.com | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest

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Hello, my lovelies 🙂

Today’s post isn’t part of any blog tour, or promo blitz (although PRINCE OF POWER did just release in January, and I suggest you ALL should be reading Elisabeth Staab’s Chronicles of Yavn series!!). It came about because of a conversation about characters in PRINCE OF POWER, and my curiosity into one part of their description, their tattoos.

In urban fantasy and paranormal romance, tattoos are par for the course. Many, if not most, characters are inked up, for any number of reasons. I asked Elisabeth if she could delve a little into the story behind the body art in her series, and share it with us.

(Check below for a way to win prizes from Elisabeth!!!)

kod_web-181x300Of Tattoos and Vampires by Eliabeth Staab

If you ask me, tattoos are freaking fascinating. The art form that goes back something crazy like five thousand years. People who get tattooed and the reason why are as diverse as the types of images out there. I’ve seen college kids get spur of the moment tramp stamps, and middle-aged housewives get tattooed to cover scarring from surgery. Tattoos can be used to handle a painful event, or even to commemorate life and death. I confess that author curiosity means I tend to stare some when I see a person sporting ink. I want to know the story that put that ink on their body.

This fascination with tattoo goes back as early as the age of twelve, when I recall starting a philosophical debate with my Sunday school teacher regarding whether or not tattoos were acceptable practice. My fascination with vampires, apparently started even earlier. My father sent me a drawing over the summer that I’d done when I was five, of my very first vampire. I’ve no idea how I even know about vampires at that age, but there you go. Even as a kid I was into the dark side and things that go bump in the night. So no wonder when I finally wrote my first novel, I would find a way to marry two great things that taste great together: my love of body art and mysterious creatures with fangs.

In my Chronicle of Yavn series, body modification shows up in a couple of key ways. The first, and most prominent, is on the cover of King of Darkness. The hero has a brand on his arm in the shape of an Armenian cross, because King of Darkness is in many ways a “fated mates” story. The brand has been put on his body to help him find his missing other half. Prophecy has it, his intended will sport a matching mark on her body. The Armenian cross was chosen specifically to tie to the history of the vampires’ origin in King of Darkness and the Yavn world on a larger scale.

Throughout the Chronicle of Yavn, tattoos are woven into the world, particularly in the process of creating a mating bond. When a couple takes vows, they have matching tattoos done on their left hands in lieu of weddings ring. I felt that this carried a greater sense of permanence than an item that could be removed, as vampire tend to mate for life and their lives are very long. While my vampire are not undead, they can live for well over a thousand years.

princeofpower-300 (1)In book two of the series, Prince of Power, the mating tattoo also takes on a poignant cast. Anton, the hero of Prince of Power, is an enemy of the vampire race. His kind, the wizards, have been killing vampires for centuries. He’s trying to make amends because he’s fallen in love with Tyra, the vampire king’s half-sister. At more than one key moment in Prince of Power he is confronted with the painful wrongs his race has done to the vampires in the form of vampires whose mates have been killed by his brethren:

…Not for the first time, Anton’s eyes lit on the mating tattoo on the male’s left wrist.

A hummingbird drinking from a flower. Very attractive. Very familiar.

Something had nagged at the back of his brain since first seeing that tattoo. He remembered. His gut twisted and the words tumbled out before he was entirely aware of what he was saying. “Your mate. I’m so sorry. She was unconscious when they brought her in. Sometimes they aren’t. She didn’t suffer. I hope that helps, at least a little.”

Anton saw the whole thing coming before it began, saw the vampire’s face contort as understanding dawned, saw the knuckles come flying, and the blood spray…

ABOUT PRINCE OF POWER

Wizards and vampires have been mortal enemies since the beginning. Now Anton, son of the Wizard Master, has one last chance to steal the unique powers of the vampire king’s beautiful sister, Tyra…and then kill her. But when he meets Tyra face-to-face, everything changes…

Tyra will stop at nothing to defeat the wizards, until Anton saves her life and she suddenly sees an opportunity she never could have imagined…

As the sparks ignite between them, together they could bring an end to the war that’s decimating their people, but only if they can find a way to trust each other…

FIND IT:Amazon|B&N|Indiebound|Target|Walmart|Books On Board|Discover a New Love

Elisabeth Staab still lives with her nose in a book and at least one foot in an imaginary world. She believes that all kinds of safe and sane love should be celebrated but she adores the fantasy-filled realm of paranormal romance the best. She loves to spend time with good friends, good music, good beverages, and good books (when she isn’t making characters fall in love, that is). She lives with her family and one big scaredy-cat in Northern Virginia. Find out more at ElisabethStaab.com and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

****SO… who wants to win a copy of either KING OF DARKNESS or PRINCE OF POWER from Elisabeth??? She’s offering one book for one random commenter below. (Or, if you’ve already got the books, she’ll send you an awesome Chronicles of Yavn Swag Pack!!!) To enter, simply comment below with a tattoo you’ve gotten, and what it was for… OR, what tattoo you’d like to get. If you’re like me… fascinated by tattoos, but not in the market for one yourself, you can simply comment about Elisabeth’s post and be entered, as well. 🙂 Make sure you mention which prize you’d like to win. 🙂 Contest will be open until midnight, pacific, on Saturday March 16th. Good Luck, everyone!!

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