Jan 13, 2016

David Bowie

I have been inundated with an inexplicable grief by his passing, and I have tried to understand why.
I have read a thousand people's words and feelings, and they have all resonated within me.
But what has emerged, in my mind's eye, is that there are fundamentally two different ways to have experienced Bowie—the one not being better than the other, just different.

The younger ones among us all connect him with a movie, a video, a performance. Like Labyrinth's Jareth. Or the strangely made-up and white-faced puppet of Ashes to Ashes.

Us older fans? We remember the smell of the cover of Pin-Ups and Hunky Dory, as we put the needle down, time and time again, from the beginning of Song 1, until Side A had been memorized, and it was time for Side B.

I remember lying on my teenage floor, crying for no other reason than being a teen, and listening to the sad sad saxophone notes, speaking straight into my heart.

MTV kind of killed the egocentric music-experience I was used to having. So I stopped watching music videos all together, and kept listening in my car instead. 

For me, there is purification and release of pain while driving alone in your car with the music up so loud it shatters all your inner monologue. Now, my friends, I am done mourning David Bowie.

 Now, I shall go on and celebrate life.

 Thank you all.



Image made by filtering several times and then repositioning an existing image, using waterlogue.

Dec 19, 2015

My Top Ten Books Of 2015!


And, once again, only M/M-books made it to my Toplist.



1. Slaying Isidore’s Dragons, by C. Kennedy
What a ride! What an amazing story. I’m still reeling. And so full of hope, for the future, for the future of these boys, all our boys.
And then there is the momentous message to abuse victims and survivors that there is a future, also for them. That there is hope for sunshine and love, in all our futures.
My Review!







2. A Solitary Man, by Shira Anthony and Aisling Mancy
This story just speeds off from page one, running, dashing, skipping, and jumping obstacles.
It is a rush and a half—this storyline grabbed me by the collar, shook me to the core, made me scream, rave, laugh, rejoice.
My Review!





3. Home and Away, by Samantha Wayland
What a little gem this turned out to be. Hockey players, a cute British gentleman, fun neighbors, and lots of cuddly times.
My Review!





4. Silver Scars, by Posy Roberts
This book is a beautiful and hard read. I am constantly amazed at how this author manages to space from silly and funny, to real and harsh.
Read this. You won’t regret it.
My Review!









5. Misfits, by Garret Leigh
Wow. Simply wow.
This was better than good. This was dang good. Actually, this is the first time I’ve read about an open relationship that I actually believe in. And then see it turn into a ménage that is truly believable, to boot.
My Review!











6. Cronin’s Key, by N. R. Walker
I seriously thought I would never read another vampire book again in my life.
Right?!
And there goes Walker, writing me one that I just fall into and roll around in and fall in love with and just simply adore.
My Review!








7. True Brit, by Con Riley
Riley is adding more diverse figures in this story, with a backdrop of London, Cornwall, and Afghanistan. Soldiers, mothers, mansions, and project housing, all in one huge swirl of her paintbrush.
I loved this. I loved the fandom aspect (that not everybody will get, but that’s okay), I loved that Ed (-ward) got whiplash, and I loved the nod to the boy bands out there. I loved that the bad-guys don’t always win, and that smarts can still out-maneuver them.
My Review!







8. Silent, by Sara Alva
This story is heartrending. Sad. Full of devastation. Kids and drug dealers. Young people who probably never stand a chance.
And yet.
In the middle of all this misery is a young man of 15, standing tall, doing his absolute best. He mucks it up, of course, because he is only fifteen years old. But he tries. Oh, lord, but he tries.
My Review!





9. Hero, by Perry Moore
This book was a ride and a half! And then yet another ride!
I haven’t had this much fun in a long time, and still, there were moments of near despair here. YA at its very best.
What a fantastic book.
My Review!











10. Red Dirt Heart #4, by N. R. Walker
So, author. You proceed to break my heart in so many pieces I’m still looking for some of them. Then you go on and mend it, like it was never broken in the first place.
As I sit and read, I get lost in the red dirt trails, and I rightly don’t know where I am when I look up from the pages. It takes a moment to realize that I am in my home, not in the outback, struggling.
My Review!






Oct 2, 2015

Cover Reveal!


Authors Shira Anthony and Aisling Mancy have teamed up to write a red-hot action-packed thriller!

The blurb reads:
Sparks fly when Chance meets tall, sexy Xav at a Wilmington bar and they have the hottest one-nighter of their lives. But Chance doesn’t do repeats, Xav seems detached, and they go their separate ways without a word. Two months later, when closeted Assistant District Attorney C. Evan “Chance” Fairchild meets Dare’s Landing’s newest deputy sheriff, Xavier “Xav” Constantine, Evan isn’t only wary. He’s irritated as hell. Xavier is a former FBI agent turned deputy sheriff who is hot on the trail of a South American child prostitution ring. Evan is fighting to put an end to rampant cocaine trafficking and chafing under the thumb of an election-hungry boss. When someone tries to kill the thirteen-year-old witness who holds the key to both their investigations, they’re forced to work together as they put their lives on the line to protect him. As Chance and Xav collide in heat of a sweltering North Carolina summer, dodging bullets and chasing bad guys isn’t the only action going on.


Is the blurb not enough for you? Well, then, here is an excerpt!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Evan pressed the button on his phone to connect. “Freddy? What did you find out?”
Fred laughed. “For this, I’m going to exact a price.”
“You mean the keg I sprang for at graduation doesn’t get me a freebie?” Evan shot back.
“We’ve been out of law school for how many years now? Eight?”
“Nine this year,” Evan corrected.
“Credit’s no good anymore,” Fred answered. “I’m thinking dinner at Ivy at the Shore next time you’re in LA. On you, of course. Including a bottle of Veuve Clicquot.”
“For that,” Evan said with a chuckle, “this had better be good.”
“It’s good. And it was hell to get.”
“Okay, okay. Dinner on me. Assuming you and Margie put me up for the night,” Evan replied. “I’m looking forward to seeing your McMansion.”
“Deal. Took a little digging. Seems your mystery man did some undercover work for the FBI.”
“And?”
“My buddy in the US Attorney’s office wouldn’t give details, but word is Constantine got fed up with the bullshit after a case went bad somewhere down in South America.”
“Drugs?” Evan asked.
“No. He dealt with human trafficking. Specifically, child sex trafficking. My friend says the guy’s good. He tried a few cases where Constantine was the government’s key witness. Knows his stuff. Works his ass off and gets into his work. I got the impression sometimes he gets a little too close.”
Now that was interesting. “Why?”
“Seems the guy’s rabid about protecting kids.”
“Any idea why?”
“Nothing anyone would tell me,” Fred replied.
Evan leaned back in his chair. At least Xav wasn’t a slacker, but it didn’t make Evan feel any better about the prospect of bumping into him at work. “Anything else?”
“Constantine grew up in LA, went to school in Boston.”
“Boston?” Even more interesting. So much for his initial assessment of Xav as a broceanographer.
“Yeah, you’ll love this.”
Evan could almost hear Freddy’s grin over the phone.
“He did undergrad at MIT. Mathematics major. Master’s in criminology from U Penn with an emphasis in cryptology. The FBI was probably falling all over itself to recruit him.”
No shit. This just got better and better. “What the hell’s a guy with that kind of background doing in North Carolina?”
“I could ask you the same question,” Fred shot back. “Of course, if you decide you want your own McMansion….”
“You couldn’t pay me enough to come to work for you,” Evan joked. Fred was serious—they’d had this discussion a half-dozen times before.
“Try me.” Fred paused for a moment and then asked, “This personal?”
Evan had no intention of telling Fred he’d slept with Xav. “Not personal.”
“’Cause word has it he’s gay,” Fred said. “Out but not advertising.” When Evan didn’t take the bait, Fred added, “But you already knew that, didn’t you?”
Evan shook his head and sighed theatrically. “Don’t even go there, Freddy. You know I don’t mix business and pleasure. I just want to know what I’m dealing with. That’s all.”
“You can’t bullshit a bullshitter, man.”
“Thanks for the help,” Evan said, foreclosing the topic. “I’ll let you know next time I’m out your way. Tell Margie she’s a brave woman.”
“Always do. Laters. And make sure you get your sorry ass out here soon.”
“Will do.” Evan disconnected the call and rubbed his mouth. Mathematics major at MIT and a master’s from U Penn? No wonder the FBI had recruited him. And he’d pegged Xav for a surfer!
What the hell are you doing in Dare’s Landing, Xavier 


~ ~ ~ ~ ~


About Shira Anthony 

Shira loves a great happily-ever-after and never writes a story without one. She’s happy to write what her muse tells her, whether it’s fantasy, sci fi, paranormal, or contemporary romance. She particularly loves writing series, because she thinks of her characters as old friends and she wants to visit them even after their stories are told.

In real life, Shira sang professionally for 14 years, and she currently works as a public sector attorney advocating for children. She’s happy to have made writing her second full-time job, even if it means she rarely has time to watch TV or go to the movies.

Shira writes about the things she knows and loves, whether it’s music and musicians, the ocean, or the places she’s lived or traveled to. She spent her middle school years living in France, and tries to visit as often as she can.

Shira and her husband spend as many weekends as they can aboard their 36′ catamaran sailboat, “Lands Zen,” at the Carolina Coast. Not only has sailing inspired her to write about pirates and mermen, her sailboat is her favorite place to write. And although the only mermen she’s found to date are in her own imagination, she keeps a sharp lookout for them when she’s on the water.

Shira looks forward to meeting you at Gay Rom Lit!

Find Shira on blog, Twitter @WriterShira, Facebook, and Goodreads and Subscribe to Shira’s monthly newsletter for updates, free fiction, and subscriber-only contests!


About Aisling Mancy

Aisling is an author who lives, most of the time, on the West Coast of the United States. Aisling writes adult fantasy, adult LGBTQIA romance, and fiction for gay young adults (C. Kennedy).

Raised on the mean streets and back lots of Hollywood by a Yoda-look-alike grandfather, Aisling doesn’t conform, doesn’t fit in, is epic awkward, and lives to perfect a deep-seated oppositional defiance disorder. In a constant state of fascination with the trivial, Aisling contemplates such weighty questions as If time and space are curved, then where do all the straight people come from? When not writing, Aisling can be found taming waves on western shores, pondering the nutritional value of sunsets, appreciating the much maligned dandelion, unhooking guide ropes from stanchions, and marveling at all things ordinary.

Aisling looks forward to meeting you at Gay Rom Lit!

Find Aisling on blog, Twitter @AislingMancy, Facebook, Goodreads, and Aisling does respond to emails because, after all, it is all about you, the reader.





Pre-order A Solitary Man from:



Add A Solitary Man to your shelves on:


Add A Solitary Man to your shelves on







Sep 21, 2015

Needle Felting

video


In case you need to know what needle felting actually looks like: You stab the wool one million times. Then you start over from the beginning and stab it one million more. There! Felting!





~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~



Did you like that?



May 25, 2015

It's a Dirty Job

It started like any spring day at the farm...

Sheep are filthy, filthy animals. It takes a special kind of person to shear them properly.

A few weeks back, we had a couple of professionals over to take care of the 50 or so sheep at the stables.

For a whole day, they worked and worked, side by side, and at the end of the day, they were done. A huge pile of sheepy fur was being hauled away.

I had had the great idea of asking them to set a side a couple of fleeces for me, so that I could try my hand with wool at the raw stage.

Clearly I had no idea what I was talking about, and my idea of sheep was more or less like the following picures, sweet, soft, little baaaaah baaaaaahs. Right?


So cute. So soft. Right? RIGHT?!?! Black and grey, funny ears hanging down, or ears standing straight out to the sides. I thought it would be lots of fun getting my OWN wool, from the beginning, "in the grease," as the saying goes.

My dear friends, I now know why it is called that. In the grease.

A sheep fleece is an absolute and complete thing of lurid evil. And what isn't mud, and earth, and hay, and other muck in that fur? It is poop and pee. Add to all this, some massive amounts of lanolin, to tie it all together, and you have the perfect set for Anna's fleece-nightmare, take 1, shattering the romantic dream at the outset.

Yesterday, Sunday, I went about this job just as I do all other things in life: with massive amounts of confidence and all of three minutes of youtubeing for info. Lemme tell ya, three minutes do not prepare you for this. They were not enough to even come close to preparing me for what was coming, as I started with fleece number one.

I opened the sheet the shearers had tied off for me, I thought this was an interesting-looking fleece: perfect and yellow. I was watching the cut side, the side that is closest to the animal itself. Fluffy and yeah, kinda greasy, but I knew that going in. Look, isn't it pretty?



As I turned the thing over, however, to lay it flat, I took a good look at the outside of the fleece. There was a totally different story being told here. A story of many, many lunches in the hay, lying around in the mud, and sleepovers with the girls down by the manure pile. Oh, and droppings that just hung on for dear life. The joys of being a sheep. Take a look:


So, I set to, and unfolded the thing, dirty side down, and fluffy side up. Not that it looks a whole lot better on this side, eh? Time for skirting.



(Skirting means you take off all the side-muck around the whole fleece, as you actually keep only the middle-parts, the wool that used to be on the sheep's neck, back and sides).

I donned my heavy-duty gloves and went to work. 30 minutes later, I was done. With the fleece, with sheep, and with wool in general.

No, just kidding. But it was probably the most disgusting job I've done in a long while, and I'm a cowgirl—manure is no stranger to me. Just sayin'.

Here is a pile of skirted stuff that went straight into the trash. Yes, there's a massive amount of poop in that pile.



So, I skirted that white fleece. Had a long drink of water in the sun. Chatted with some friends. Then tackled another white fleece. Here an image of the two not-so-extremely-dirty fleeces that I bagged and that are ready for the washing. That's going to be a treat too. I can only imagine how black that water is going to be.


I did a grey-black fleece too, but by then I was so filthy I didn't want to touch my phone to take a picture. I'm sure you don't want to even know how itchy everything was by that time.

Three bags are all stashed away in my garage now, with moth repellant and a whole lot of prayers to the insect gods to overlook my small bundles. They say it is easier to keep the moths out if the raw wool is still in the grease, so I won't wash any of it until I'm planning on using it.

Then a day passes, and somehow the memory of the ordeal softens, and the curiosity gets to me, so I go down to my bags, and get some white and some grey-black fluff. It is still disgusting. It still smells of poop, pee, lanolin, and old sheep. It is so greasy it's almost silly.

And so I hand-wash it, (in mesh bags so it doesn't go all over the place), separated, white from black. I wash, again, and again, until the water is finally clear. Six times for the white, and four times for the black wool.
And it dries in the sun on my terrace. (Here you see the white, but the black was equally clean).


And when I grab my makeshift carders, and start carding, magic happens.

As the white is drying, I card the dark grey with my dog fur brushes (Hey! No dissing these brushes, they are awesome, and REAL carders cost over 150 dollars a piece—I don't have that kinda cash lying around), and I make rolag after rolag of the finest wool you could ever imagine. It shines.



It is beautiful. It is soft in my hands. And I realize that I love it. I just love wool.

A fluffy, shiny, beautiful thing that can be needle felted, and wet felted, and carded, and spun into thread, and woven, and and and and and—

*****

—oh, lord, I just realized I have four more fleeces waiting for me at the stables.
Let the wool moths have them, I say.



Apr 23, 2015

Cody Kennedy Blog Tour



I'm letting these images speak for themselves.


Hello! Welcome!

I am so excited to have author Cody Kennedy visiting my blog today! It has been a long month of touring for him with his book, Slaying Isidore's Dragons, and this is one of the last tour stops—see all the other stops here, every one is FULL of useful information and facts. Especially the first one, the kick-off of this book tour, is near and dear to my heart. Don't miss it.

Today, Cody is going to tell us a bit about research and how to keep track of your findings when you're writing a novel and using quotes, be they copyrighted or not. There is so much more to being an author than meets the eye. Today, he explains what a Prove-up is, and why it is important to document your sources as you go along. Your editor and/or publisher will want to see that your method is good.

Cody is a constant help to so many authors, and he blogs and posts on social media with links with both great information and resources. Or, he simply posts links to inspirational images and thoughtful quotes. At times he posts about something really cool that happened to an author friend of his. As you follow his posts, apart from feeling his enthusiasm, you will soon start to notice that there is strict method to his work. It impresses me no end.

This is going to be a long post, so settle in, get a cup of coffee, and let's give the man a round of applause. He clearly deserves it. And if you click on the images, they should open up in a new window, bigger, and easier to read.

Cody, the floor is yours!

*****

What Is a Prove-up?

Let’s write a story and quote the words and phrases of others! Let’s not. Unless, of course, we’re willing to do it accurately, source the original work, and seek permissions if necessary.

When I write for youth, I like to educate them about things they may not have an opportunity to learn in everyday life. I do this by including bits of history, information about different cultures, and quotes from the literature of others—the latter of which isn’t as easy to do as it sounds.

As much as we may love Dr. Seuss, we can’t simply quote him in our works and be done with it. We must ensure that the quote is properly sourced, accurately quoted, available for use and, if not, to seek appropriate permissions. For me, and because copyright law is complex, the easiest way to determine whether a quote can be used is to determine when permission need not be sought. As such, I look to use quotes that are: 1) in the public domain and require no permission at all; or 2) fall within “fair use” guidelines. If you’re interested in knowing more about “permissions” and “fair use,” check out Jane Friedman’s blog. For purposes of this post, I’m going to speak only about quotes that do not require permissions.

I’m a huge fan of Edgar Allen Poe and love to use his quotes in my works. In that his works are in the public domain, no permissions are needed to use them. However, his trustees are alive and well and look to ensure that his works are accurately quoted. Setting aside, for a moment, that I am loath to misquote an author, it’s important to know how to source and prove up that I am not blithely using a quote that has been bastardized over time and am not attributing it to someone other than the original author! In other words, I must be able to prove up the source of the quote and quote it accurately.

According to Merriam-Webster the definition of prove-up in this context is: to bring proof of one’s right to something. As such, when doing a prove-up for an editor, you are not proving up your right to use a quote. You are proving up who holds the rights to the quotes; and that you are quoting it accurately.

I referenced Humpty Dumpty and quoted Edgar Allen Poe in Omorphi. With respect to Humpty Dumpty, I wrote this dialogue:

“The king’s horses did it. They weren’t in the original rhyme in 1797 and all of a sudden they show up, bang, unannounced, no preamble, no nothing, in the 1870 version. That proves my theory.” and the editor took issue with it.

Who would have thought I would have to prove up Humpty Dumpty? I had to because I referenced the work itself and obscure facts about the work that most people don’t know. The first thing I had to do was prove up the date 1797 and it looked like this:


Yes! I had to go all the way back to the first verse ever published! And it only went downhill from there. Then, I had to prove-up the date at which the horses appeared in the verse! And it looked like this:






And because I’m a glutton for punishment, I didn’t quote one Poe poem in Omorphi. I quoted many. And the prove-ups looked like this:



Yes! Every title and quote had to be sourced and the editor checked every one of them! THEN, the editor took issue with the slight difference in two stanzas. One stanza phrased as a question, the other as an assertion, and I had to prove that up to the editor too! It looked like this:












The prove-ups were somewhat time-consuming. However, in that I had checked the sources before I submitted the story, I had the links handy and it wasn’t hard to respond to the editor. When does it become a nightmare? When you don’t check the source before you submit your story to a publisher. Case in point, the G.K. Chesterton quote at the beginning of Slaying Isidore’s Dragons, which turned out not be a Chesterton quote. Sort of.

Here I was at the 11th hour being charged with the approval of the galley proof for Slaying Isidore’s Dragons and thought I would verify the quote—which none of us had done to date. OMG! I mean, yeah, it’s used in memes all over the place but, coming from the traditional publishing background that I do, and being OCD, I had to check it. And it’s a good thing that I did because I learned the citation for the quote was WRONG! As it turns out, Neil Gaiman had tamed and simplified Chesterton’s quote for his own work, Coraline. So the question then became: Whom am I quoting? The answer was both.

I’d never quoted an author within an author before and I had to look it up. For those who don’t know, we follow the Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) in editing standards. However, the CMOS had nothing on quoting an author within an author. Another source, Turabian, did have the guideline and I was able to reference it to prove up how the quote should be cited in the book. It looked like this:



In sum, unless you can prove-up the use of copyrighted material in your work, don’t do it! Take the time to source the material and quote it accurately, and check to ensure you do not need to seek permissions to use it. You will be asked to do a prove-up for your publisher if your editor doesn’t do it for you.


Here is some interesting trivia for you:

All of Shakespeare’s works are in the public domain. If they weren’t, Westside Story and Shakespeare in Love couldn’t have been made.

The descendants of the Marquis de Sade have copyrighted “Marquis de Sade.” Dare I say that I wouldn’t want to seek permission for anything from that family?

The Marilyn Monroe picture series of her standing over a sidewalk steam vent with her dress afluff set landmark US copyright law. It was ruled that, because the pictures were used worldwide for everything from postcards to posters they were, in effect, in the public domain. The pictures themselves became icons and couldn’t be protected under copyright law.


Enjoy Slaying Isidore’s Dragons (and the three hours I put into sourcing Chesterton’s quote)!
Cody Kennedy, April 23, 2015



*****


And now, here is more about Cody's book! 
You know, the one everybody's talking about! 
The book you probably need to read, like, now!


*****


Slaying Isidore’s Dragons, by C. Kennedy


Blurb:

5 Best friends
4 Vicious brothers
3 STD tests
2 Guys in love
1 Car bombing
&
Nowhere to run

Slaying Isidore’s Dragons follows the burgeoning love of two high school seniors during the worst year of their lives.
Irish born Declan David de Quirke II is the son of two ambassadors, one Irish and one American. He’s come out to his parents but to no one else.
French born Jean-Isidore de Sauveterre is the son of two ambassadors, one Catalan and one Parisian. His four half brothers have been told to cure him of his homosexuality.
Declan and Isidore meet at the beginning of their senior year at a private academy in the United States. Declan is immediately smitten with Isidore and becomes his knight in shining armor. Isidore wants to keep what little is left of his sanity and needs Declan’s love to do it.


5 Weeks of hell
4 Attempts on their lives
3 Law enforcement agencies
2 Dead high school seniors
1 Jealous friend
&
A love that won’t be denied

One is beaten, one is drugged, one is nearly raped, one has been raped, they are harassed by professors and police, and have fights at school, but none of it compares to running for their lives. When the headmaster’s popular son attempts suicide and someone attempts to assassinate Declan’s mother, they are thrown headlong into chaos, betrayal, conspiracy, allegations of sexual coercion, pornography, even murder. And one of them carries a secret that may get them killed.


5 New family members
4 BFF’s
3 Countries
2 Extraordinary Psychologists
1 Courageous Mother
&
A new beginning for two young men in love


*****

Did that blurb interest you?
Read the first chapter of Slaying Isidore's Dragons here.


*****


Slaying Isidore’s Dragons released on April 9th, 2015

Add it to your bookshelves on:








Slaying Isidore's Dragons
 is now available in print and ebook at: 




*****


If you are interested in my (Anna's) review of Slaying Isidore's Dragons, here is a link to my review. Be warned. It comes loaded with five gushing stars. 


*****


About Cody Kennedy:
Raised on the mean streets and back lots of Hollywood by a Yoda-look-alike grandfather, Cody doesn’t conform, doesn’t fit in, is epic awkward, and lives to perfect a deep-seated oppositional defiance disorder. In a constant state of fascination with the trivial, Cody contemplates such weighty questions as: If time and space are curved, then where do all the straight people come from? When not writing, Cody can be found taming waves on western shores, pondering the nutritional value of sunsets, appreciating the much maligned dandelion, unhooking guide ropes from stanchions, and marveling at all things ordinary.

Check out more about Cody on his Blog.
Follow Cody on:
FacebookGoodreadsTumblrPinterestElloGoogle+.
Find him on Twitter @CodyKAuthor, and read his free serial story, Fairy.


*****


I would like to end this book tour post with a gushing, dancing, fangirling OMG OMG OMG


for Reese Dante, who made the cover and all the images that accompany this book, and also the book before this one, Omorphi. Amazing skills. Such beautiful work.


A beautiful cover is what makes me stop and want to read the book—get it right and I'm already on your team, author.


*****


Do you want to ask Cody a question? The comment field below is yours!


Thanks for stopping by. See you soon!

Anna




Apr 9, 2015

ARC Review — Slaying Isidore's Dragons, by C. Kennedy


5 Best friends
4 Vicious brothers
3 STD tests
2 Guys in love
1 Car bombing
&
Nowhere to run

Slaying Isidore’s Dragons follows the burgeoning love of two high school seniors during the worst year of their lives.
Irish born Declan David de Quirke II is the son of two ambassadors, one Irish and one American. He’s come out to his parents but to no one else.
French born Jean-Isidore de Sauveterre is the son of two ambassadors, one Catalan and one Parisian. His four half brothers have been told to cure him of his homosexuality.
Declan and Isidore meet at the beginning of their senior year at a private academy in the United States. Declan is immediately smitten with Isidore and becomes his knight in shining armor. Isidore wants to keep what little is left of his sanity and needs Declan’s love to do it.


5 Weeks of hell
4 Attempts on their lives
3 Law enforcement agencies
2 Dead high school seniors
1 Jealous friend
&
A love that won’t be denied

One is beaten, one is drugged, one is nearly raped, one has been raped, they are harassed by professors and police, and have fights at school, but none of it compares to running for their lives. When the headmaster’s popular son attempts suicide and someone attempts to assassinate Declan’s mother, they are thrown headlong into chaos, betrayal, conspiracy, allegations of sexual coercion, pornography, even murder. And one of them carries a secret that may get them killed.


5 New family members
4 BFF’s
3 Countries
2 Extraordinary Psychologists
1 Courageous Mother
&
A new beginning for two young men in love


*****


What a ride! What an amazing story. I’m still reeling. And so full of hope, for the future, for the future of these boys, all our boys.

In this story, as is the usual fare with Kennedy, there is action; there is no time to relax, no time to slow down, things are happening all the time, and in so many layers, it takes all my concentration to keep it together. And I love it. I just simply love it. I roll in it, I run with it. I revel in it.

I feel I know these people, already after a few chapters. It is as if I am running beside them, seeing what they are seeing, feeling what they are feeling. It is almost overwhelming. I scream, and I scare the cats. I giggle, and I wake Mr. Anna.

Kennedy must be the king of purple prose, and yet, somehow, here, it just works; it doesn’t become ridiculous, it just becomes powerful and full of awe-inspiring, foreign flavors.
And then another bomb goes off.

Why am I not surprised?

While reading until my iPad hits my face, I realize, just as I am falling asleep, that there is so much more to this story than meets the eye.

There is the careful choosing of words. The loving turn of phrase that won’t scare a potential victimized reader. Words are of such vital importance to young survivors; those of us who have never lived through abuse, can never quite understand how loaded a simple word can be.

And then there is the momentous message to abuse victims and survivors that there is a future, also for them. That there is hope for sunshine and love, in all our futures.

It is uplifting. It is caring. There is hope.

And then another bomb goes off, yeah?

This book had me sitting on the proverbial edge of my seat, jumping with excitement, smiling with bliss, and feeling the love between the two young men grow and blossom. (See? I have achieved some purple myself). I cry me an ocean, too, for good measure.

The way Declan and Isidore discover each other is beautiful, loving, enriching, sweet, and so sexy. Without ever going into the exploitative and crude, the physical love they explore is simply beautiful. They are both on the older side of their teen years, at eighteen and seventeen, thinking about their bodies and discovering a new sensuality, and the way Declan gets frustrated with his dick makes me scream with laughter. So many good feels, here, too.

There is no way I can review this book without drawing parallels to Omorphi, Kennedy’s other long novel about abused youth. The similarities are of course there, but what really strikes me is the difference between them. The main character in the first story, Christy, is a survivor of abuse. In Slaying Isidore’s Dragons, Isidore is still a victim, and he is still living with his abusers. There is such a huge difference in mindset.

Now, there is a special talent to be able to describe and write about this kind of abuse, without either falling into the exploitative, or brushing over the sad facts. Here, none of those things happen. There is truthfulness in these pages, but most of all, there is hope. Awe-inspiring Hope. It makes the reader understand what goes on inside the mind of an abuse victim.

It shatters me to see how this new life, when saved from an abusive environment, can be so overwhelming that the victim is ready to go back to the abusive home, just to get to a place where everything makes sense.

This is a book with really difficult themes, and it is striking how it can ring true in all its horrid details, while still giving hope and showing a way out. This book may very well be saving lives, and giving hope.

It is interesting how well the double POV works, where we see things mostly from the eyes of the boyfriend, Declan. I don’t think we could take seeing it all from inside Isidore’s mind, but the short interludes that we do get to see are so revealing. Thank you for showing us how completely different the same scene may seem to the victim.

Now, I also want to tell everybody about how much I adore Sorcha, Declan’s mother. She is a powerful, gorgeous, strong, beautiful, and loving woman. I love all those things in people, but I especially appreciate them when they are attributed to a woman in an m/m setting. This is finally happening more often, but I still want to say thank you for this: thank you, author, for a strong and good woman. Mothering is not easy, and she does shine a light. The fact that she was also an Ambassador in her own right, makes my heart sing. A real woman. Somebody with both a job and a career. Not only, she is also absolutely hilarious, and a good belly laugh really makes life worth living. The healing value of humor is well known, but is even more so to a victim of abuse.

It is important for me to see that the story in this book actually rings true in the ears of the intended readers, i.e. young survivors of abuse; youth who, through this novel, can visualize a potential future, a possibility of a decent life, of love, of happiness. Reading young Timmy’s review of this book, I see the story through his eyes. See his review here.

It is true. This story brings hope. It shows the path forward, it shows the possibility of future.

This is top notch.

On my Top-Read-Of-2015 shelf.

Well done, Kennedy. I just realize that I have written the word “hope” nine times in my review. That must mean something.

You pass with flying colors.

Five shining stars.

***

I received an ARC of this book from the author, and a positive review wasn’t promised in return.


Find this book at Harmony Ink/Dreamspinner Press

Mar 17, 2015

Free Webinar on PR and Booksales


I read a cool resource book for indie-authors called



The Self-Publisher's Ultimate Resource Guide, by Joel Freidlander and Betty Kelly Sargent


(Click on the title to go see my review of it).








Now, this man, Joel Friedlander is giving a Free Webinar on Media Kits for launching your books.


Here, in his own words:

One of the fastest ways to improve your book marketing, your book launch, and your media exposure is to make sure you've got a complete and easily available media kit.But too many authors skip this crucial step in promoting their book. And that's too bad.And I think I know why authors don't take on this task—they just don't know how to go about it.Let's face it, the one thing you absolutely need to sell books is exposure. That's where the media comes in.Media like newspapers, ezines, blogs, magazines, radio hosts, TV shows already have millions of readers and viewers.And your media kit is the essential link between you and the media that can help you tap into these resources.Joan Stewart (also known as "The Publicity Hound") knows more about getting attention for your books and programs than anyone else I know. She runs a popular blog and worked for many years as a newspaper editor.This Thursday, March 19 at 4:00 p.m. Eastern, Joan and I will once again present a free webinar to walk you through each element of your media kit.Joan is an amazing presenter, and we'll cover a lot of ground in this 1 hour presentation. At the end, I'll introduce you to a product we've got that will help you put together your own media kit.The webinar is free, and it will be packed with instruction, tips, and some of Joan's best stories from her years on the front lines. You won't want to miss this.
The last time we ran this webinar, we got comments like:
"I learned a lot of information, fast!"
"Extremely helpful and informative!"
"Amazingly thorough!"
So make room on your schedule. Here's the link to register for the webinar. Like all webinars, seating is limited, so go over and grab your space now.The Indie Author's Guide to Creating a Killer Media Kit 
See you Thursday!
(Even if you can't make it on Thursday you should register because we'll be sending out a link to a replay on Friday.) Best,
Joel

I think we should all attend. And the best part is, you don't have to be there for the live event—just sign up now and watch it when you have time.







~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


How about you
Will you be attending? 






Feb 14, 2015

Alive Again - Valentine's Day

I take a shallow breath. Everything hurts. That must mean that I am still alive. This is paramount. This is all that matters, for a moment. I feel every, single part of my body, there is a pain so excruciating that I don't even know where I am. I am coming out of the haze, and try to move. It is impossible. I am folded in two on a small bed in a hospital, and all I can do is moan.

Somebody hears me, and comes closer. I feel a hand on my hair, and a quiet voice asking me how I feel. I want to say like total, utter crap, but I can't even take the deeper breath I need to be able voice my pain. So I moan. It ends with a whimper. I have never felt so defenseless in my whole life.

The kind soul attached to the caressing hand tells me not to worry, and fiddles with the IV, and within half a minute I am floating again, slowly leaving the pain behind me. I remember now, I know where I am and what happened. Opening my eyes I ask her with a whisper of a voice "Anything left?"
"You need to talk to the surgeon, dear." She moves closer so that I can see her. "He'll be coming to talk to you in a couple of hours. Sleep now, it's the best cure."
"Mmhm." I am lost in my drug-induced haze. "Just tell me, is it all out?"
"Yes. All of it."

That's it, it's all gone. I am happy and sad and have a head that feels like cotton wool. I fall asleep knowing that the next time I wake up, I will have to take reality by its proverbial horns again. But not now, not right now. For now, I can lie back and just give in to the feeling within me that says: "Somebody else is in charge. Relax. Sleep."

And I do, because someone else was in charge; a hysterectomy is not an elective surgery. You do it when they tell you to. And it hurts like a bitch, in every way.
At the hospital, and after, at home during my convalescence, I start reading a series of books that I have been wanting to read for a long time. I never could find a long enough stretch of time in front of me in which to indulge; work and life are always getting in the way. Now I throw myself in, nothing holding me back.

Weeks later, my books are finished. I have read all of them, several times over, and I'm searching the net for more, anything, more, I need words, more words. I need more words telling me it'll be all right, words to pull me through, to tell me there is life, words to make me believe in magic again.

I find them on a writing forum, where thousands of—mostly—women are baring their souls for everyone to see, and are posting story after story. I find it remarkable, especially as many of these stories are exceptionally good. Some are terrible of course, but there's no need to linger. I move on to the good ones.

I find the words I was looking for there. The words I need, search and hope for. The words that heal, soothe, the words that care for me and make me care. Then I also find the words that make me happy, that make me squeal and scream out loud. Because a good story is when—while sitting there in your armchair reading something that is exceptional—you just have to look away for a second and say "Fu-u-ck!" out loud. Then go back to reading.

A good story takes you somewhere else, and when you come back to your own life, it is fuller, more colorful and more your own. It is a kind of magic. It is like new curtains on your soul, it brightens up the room that is your life.

One night, I stay up late to watch a movie, it is beautiful, and at the end I am simply staring at the titles that roll up, up and disappear. At the very end, when even the dolly-grip boys have been duly thanked for their job, right there, is a song that catches my attention, a song which sends me completely out of the real world.

Who would have known? They blow my mind, their song takes my breath away. I am traveling, in my mind, to new places, new sights, new everything. What is happening? Why? And then I realize the question should be Why not?
I start asking myself Where did my music go? When did I stop listening to ear-deafening drums and hard guitar riffs? I have no answers, so I turn everything off and start doing some long-needed soul searching, right there in the middle of the night.

Looking back, I can see where taking a left turn—then left again, and then right, and left once more—has made me into the person I am today. This is not necessarily a bad thing, it is just something that I will have to take into account. To change something, especially if that something is yourself, you need to get accustomed to what is.

If you don't know who and what you are right now, in no way can you influence who and what you will become tomorrow. It's simple math, really.

I realize I need to make sure I take some correct left-right-left-turns in the very near future, because somewhere along the way, I have stopped caring; I have stopped caring about myself, about what I wear, about what I look like every day. I've stopped caring about where I am going, and what makes me happy.

Somewhere along the way I stopped caring about myself. Completely.

My hair started turning partly grey, and instead of fighting it and doing something about it, I cut it all off, to a shorter, more age-appropriate length. Or so they said. Too bad it also pushed me into that mind-frame of old, into this sinking feeling that tells me it is all mostly over.

Besides, with forty pounds of extra padding, I suddenly look at myself and see that I look and feel nothing like how I used to feel, nothing like the old me. I am just old. Not me. The old me? Right out the window.

I keep reading story after story, and suddenly discover that I can also speak directly to the authors. Not only that, the first time I try to send a short review telling the author how much I have enjoyed reading her story, she answers back within half an hour. This is a new, exhilarating experience. We chat back and forth in short messages on the forum, and suddenly I feel part of something bigger. I am talking directly to an actual author. My field is linguistics, I give her a hand with a couple of sentences in Italian. Next thing you know, she has thanked me in public in her story chapter. My name is up there, where all of their names are.

Up there with all of those fabulous writer people whom I admire so much.
I am somebody. And someone appreciates my help. I am seen.

This does something to my brain; I don't know what happens, but suddenly—instead of just passively looking at things, seeing life and years pass me by—I am right there, in the middle of it, living it. How such a small thing like a mention of your name can stir your soul, shake you right back to life, it is uncanny.

I start to write myself. Oh, my production of words is absolutely craptastic the first months, sentences flow like elephants trying to do a fast Samba. It rocks so bad, I actually laugh out loud right there where I am sitting in my armchair, laptop heating up under my fingers.

That laugh scares me, because I realize I don't even remember the last time I heard myself laughing out loud. And I want to hear more of it, much more, I want my laughter to come back and seize me, kick me, shake me into that happy stupor that only laughter can provide. Of course, it doesn't, not yet, I'm still baby-stepping here. But I see that that is where I would like to be in a few months' time: I want to be in a place where laughter comes fast and easy. And hard. Life-giving laughter.

I buy an iPod, a bright orange one. It is a thing of beauty, it screams this goddamn isn't over yet in a loud voice. I realize that the last time I walked with music in my ears, I was still using cassettes.

I buy tons of music—one song pulls the next, and while one band screams about my redemption and absolution, the next one tells me to chill, relax, go with the flow. I float and delve into the feelings that emerge out of these long-forgotten depths. My neighbors wonder what has gotten into me—they see me pass in my small car, where everything is vibrating with roaring guitars and crazy drums.

Music makes me feel alive; I finally rock. And I swear, my new iPod is psychic. I just put it on shuffle, and we are off—it knows exactly what I need to hear on any given day.

I keep reading, of course, but with new eyes, critical eyes, searching eyes, I seem to be filtering what I am reading from the standpoint of trying to be a writer; I am not just a reader anymore. I decide to stop reading any story that I feel is badly written, that I don't absolutely love at once. I concentrate on reading those that speak directly to my heart. I want to learn from authors who write correctly, authors who respect me enough to actually care about my reading experience.

As there are close to two hundred thousand stories to choose from on the forum, I decide to become a picky reader, and only spend my time on the ones that have a message of some kind. Preferably a message of love is love. Of the powerless finding power. Or of friends standing up for each other.

Instant pay-off. Words flow beautifully, both before my eyes and through my fingers. I read stories of great personal development and love. I write things that make sense and that might actually be interesting also for other readers.

Some days it is like I have been blessed with automatic writing, like someone is dictating the words to me and all I have to do is take them down, as fast as I bloody well can. My fingers are rushing over the keyboard, it is exhilarating, it makes my blood flow faster, it is fun and I suddenly stop. Hold my breath. Then let it all out in a huge guffaw of Happy. Pure and true happiness fills me.

I rattle off messages to some of the new friends I've made, and they all tell me they know exactly where I am, what happened to me; they have all been there, in the Writing Zone, and they welcome me into their fold. It is like truly finding a long lost family.

It is like finding your pack, the people you need to be able to run free again.

One of my new friends helps me with editing, she shows me where I stumble and where I am steady. It is sheer brilliance, this giving freely of knowledge and time. It thrills me to hear her say that she loves my first story. That she is crazy-proud of what I wrote. And it makes me feel like a million dollars when she later asks me if I would take a look at something she has written. Not that I'd be doing the editing, but I can perhaps help by being a new set of eyes on her text. It feels like something really big. She trusts me. I am worthy. No words can describe what all that does to me. No words.

I travel a lot in my work. There is a lot of empty time in traveling, and this is time that I now use for reading or writing, and for listening to ear-deafening rock music, courtesy of my beta who is also a music fanatic. She shares more up-to-date music knowledge with me than I can actually keep up with, bless her heart.

Crossing the Rockies, the airplane I am on hits some really serious and quite scary turbulence, with the whole airplane doing a couple of dives that almost turn my stomach inside out. The lady sitting in the seat beside me goes white, and simply whimpers. She is so afraid she is incapable of even voicing a full-out scream. I take her hand and look her straight in the eye and say "Listen. We are all right. And we will be all right. Everything is all right. Whatever happens, it is all right."

She holds on to my hand like it is a lifesaver, and perhaps it is. Perhaps the single, simple gesture of taking the hand of a fearful stranger actually is a lifesaver.

I realize right then, that after all is said and done, I am all right. Even if it should all end right here, right now, I am okay. I have lived, I am living. I have loved and I am loving. If it is time to go right now, then I'm okay with that, too. It is with a huge sense of relief that I just sit through the whole ordeal, holding her hand. I am at peace. It feels wonderful.

It is quite an anticlimax when we, some ten minutes later, come out of the turbulence, and we smile at each other, a little shy and a little happy. I slowly let go of her hand, giving her a last squeeze, and she leans toward me, and says, "Thank you for being real. For being a rock. I will never forget you."
Two huge tears leave my eyes as I look back at her and say, "No worries at all. I've been there. It's all in the perspective. It's all in the love. Spread it on down the line." My smile widens to a full-on grin when I see how she gets it, she really gets it.

Ah, perhaps I have managed to give to someone else what has so generously been given to me? Have I managed to send strength and courage to one woman in my life, I shall consider myself happy and good. Fulfilled.

We land in Toronto. We part ways. We will never meet again, and we will never forget.

My hair has grown back out. I care for it and for myself again. When I open my laptop, I once more see myself in that black, start-up screen, not some old woman. I look fifteen years younger; somehow, just coming alive again has left me thirty-five pounds lighter and I am beautiful, I feel beautiful. I am alive.

I have a new, secondary family of strong, fabulous women who have helped in holding me up for the better part of two years. Some of you do not even know how much you have done for me. All your stories have given me hope, love and a will to keep on trucking. I know that I am living. It's ok. It's good. I'm good.

You are all a part of something I need. You are like family. You are friends. Like lovers. Teachers. Buddies. Crazy fun people. Cuddlers to hold me when I'm down. Happy dancers for when I'm up. And most of all, you are instant—instant friends, I just turn on my laptop, and instantly find any one of the more than a hundred women I love and speak to regularly.

I had no idea that a group of women—spread out all over the planet—could become so important to me. And I never knew I could make such a difference in your lives. Without even having met 99% of you sweet people, you have nestled yourselves into my everyday life, and it would be so much more grey without you.

Thank you for writing stories for me, ladies. You have saved my life, several times over.

It is once again Valentine's Day. I know I have never faced a better one than this year.

I hope yours is too—full of music.
Magic words.

Sisterhood.

And life.
Hot, sizzling, awe-inspiring life.

Will you be my Valentine, sweetness? 




February 14th, 2015:

Five years later, and I am still thankful for all of you. Some of you may have read this last year—or the year before—or the year before that.

So many new people have come into my life since then, I thought I would give it to you here on on my blog, too.
(Originally posted on Fanfiction.net on February 14th, 2012).

Alive Again, ©AnnaLund2011