Coming 30th December 2020!

The Hunted and the Hind, coming 30th December 2020

Finally, I hear you say! On December 30th, the third and final book in the Lost in Time 1920s series will be published!

Lost in Time was my debut novel. Initially I self-published it, without professional edits, and the faults got deservedly called out in reviews. I had no idea what I was doing and was learning as I went along.

After a few months, Mr AL suggested I withdraw it and submit it to publishers for consideration. I was lucky enough for JMS Books to pick it up despite it’s previous release, and it came out with them in January 2018. I’ve always felt that it had a satisfactory ending–a happy-for-now, which is about the best one can hope for in a historical set in London in the early 1920s with the second world war looming.

But…I ended up writing a sequel, Shadows on the Border, which I think brought more resolution? However, it also introduced a new character, who then ended up with a love-interest of their own.

The Hunted and the Hind finally ties up all the loose ends and resolves Fenn and Sergeant Will Grant’s story. It’s had two rewrites, I’ve gone through months of loathing it; but I’ve now got to a place where it all feels right. I have honestly never felt so relieved to type THE END in my entire life.

For this weekend, Lost in Time is $1.99 (or your equivalent currency) across all the major ebook platforms: you can find it here!

Interview: Ofelia Grand talks about Soul Eater

Please welcome Ofelia Grand here today, to talk about her new release, Soul Eater!

Thank you so much for having me here today, Ally. I wanted to drop by and talk a little about my book, Soul Eater, that was released on October 31st, so it’s brand new.

Soul Eater is an example of how stories don’t always turn out as planned. I had this idea at around this time last year. I have a sauna in the basement—yes, it’s a Scandinavian thing—and I was down there with a pen and a notepad. I do that when I don’t know what the heck it is I’m doing (or if I have to write a blurb). Sweating helps me think LOL.

Anyway, I was down there, and I was thinking I should write twelve short stories, at 10k tops, and release one a month. I drew a plan for them in my bullet journal, listed my ideas, and I called it A Year of Shadows. I wrote Scary Gary which is a 5k story about a guy who’s fighting his shadow (and it’s free everywhere but on Amazon *wink*) and then life happened, as it often does.

I tucked my ideas away, and back in June when the deadlines for the holiday stories were posted, I figured I’ll take one of my Year of Shadows ideas and turn it into a short Halloween story—you know, 10k or so as I’d planned.

Turns out a wizard summoning a werewolf ghost needed a little more than 10k

It’s close to All Hollow’s Eve, which is when the veil between the living and the dead is at its thinnest, but it doesn’t matter because Thaddeus Ezax, our wizard, can’t summon ghosts. He stole a skull from the black market, and the seller claimed there was a werewolf’s spirit trapped in it. It shouldn’t matter because Thad can’t call the dead.

Sandulf Hunter, our werewolf, doesn’t know he’s dead, but he knows he hates wizards. The man who got him out of the skull is a wizard, but he’s also Sandy’s mate. He can’t have a wizard for a mate.

Then we have the whole complication of Thad being a cop, working with Sandy’s brother Ric, and they’re in the middle of solving a serial killer case. So it needed a little more than 10k…51k, in fact!

Buy Soul Eater!

Excerpt:

Had he called a spirit?

No, he couldn’t have. First, he was no sorcerer. Second, only powerful sorcerers could make a spirit sentient, and Thad wasn’t powerful. And third…he couldn’t come up with a third, but there had to be one because he couldn’t call spirits.

Perhaps it was a dream. He’d never steal from the black market. He’d never do something so incautious; he wasn’t stupid. His life might be depressingly dull, but he still liked living it.

“Do you remember how you ended up…” Thad gritted his teeth. “Eh… dead?”

Sandulf stopped, and for a few seconds, everything was quiet. His laugh started slow, like a huff, but it grew into a deep, rumbling belly laugh. Thad watched, stunned. He was magnificent, all tall and broad-shouldered, exactly like Ric except his laugh lit up his entire face, despite it being a bit translucent.

“For a wizard, you’re funny. I’m not dead.” Sandulf gestured at himself.

“So you don’t remember.” Thad nodded. It was for the better. It would’ve helped if Sandulf could point out his killer, but it was best for his sake he didn’t remember.

They didn’t speak as they walked through the city. Could people see Sandulf or did they only see a freaked-out man hugging something to his chest while trying to not draw attention to himself?

Thad took the last turn toward the station, ignoring that Sandulf had stopped to look at a pumpkin and spider web display in the shop window.

How the hell would he tell Ric? Unless this was a dream, he’d brought Ric’s brother back from the dead—or not back from, his spirit had been trapped in the skull this entire time. But how to explain? Saying he’d made a mistake wouldn’t be sufficient in Ric’s eyes.

Nine years. He shuddered and it wasn’t the October cold doing it.

They looked so alike, Sandulf and Ric. Sandulf’s hair was a little longer and he had a bit of a stubble whereas Ric was clean-shaven, but they could’ve been twins.

The skin on Thad’s body prickled, and he had a hard time breathing.

With a swoosh, Sandulf appeared by his side, and Thad sucked in a deep breath as the prickles ebbed out.

“What did you do?” Sandulf snarled at him, sharp canines growing longer as he spoke.

“Nothing.” He hadn’t.

“I was standing there minding my own business, and all of a sudden there is this pain, and I’m forced here.”

“Forced?”

“Yeah, forced. One second, I’m there, the next, I’m being dragged here.”

Thad grimaced. “Weird.” Or maybe it wasn’t. Growing up, Thad had been told a spirit was tied to its skull, and Thad was holding the skull. Spirits couldn’t walk around freely, at least he didn’t think they could.

“Weird? That’s all you have to say?”

Thad sighed. “I don’t know anything about this, Sandulf. I’m not a sorcerer, I know nothing about—” He swallowed his next word. How would Sandulf react to being called a spirit?

“You’re a wizard.”

“I am.” Thad nodded. “I’m a mage. It means I can cast a few spells, using the magic within me.” Though he’d never been powerful, and he’d never managed to connect with another living being which was what mages and wizards did.

Sandulf narrowed his eyes. “The magic within you?”

“Yeah.” Thad grimaced and threw a rain of blue sparks over him. He didn’t react, but his skin got a little rosier.

“You can do fireworks?”

Yeah, it was what it looked like, wasn’t it? Thad nodded and jogged up the small stair to the entrance of Rockshade’s police station. “Okay, we’re here. We have to talk to…the guys.”

“You live here?” Sandy studied the building.

“It’s a police station.”

“You’re handing me in?” He frowned at Thad.

“Is there something you’ve done I should know about?”

Sandulf shrugged and Thad grinned. “I work here.”

“You said you worked with Ric.”

“I do.” Thad rubbed his forehead. How long had Ric been a detective?

Blurb:

Detective Thaddeus Ezax is in over his head. He’s the only wizard in Rockshade’s Paranormal Investigations Department, and it was his name that got him the job. The Ezaxs are known as some of the most powerful wizards in the world, but Thaddeus isn’t your average Ezaxs. Is it any wonder his family shuns him?

When a kidnapping case is dropped into his lap, Thaddeus must act fast. While most five-year-olds can cast a location spell, Thaddeus can’t and is forced to get creative. When he finds himself in possession of a black market werewolf skull with a ghost trapped inside, accidentally releases the spirit, and somehow forms a connection with it, things get even crazier.

Sandulf Hunter doesn’t remember dying, but he remembers the last thing he saw before everything went black—a wizard. All wizards must die! The only problem is, the wizard standing next to him smells too damned good, so good Sandy thinks he might have to keep him.

And since wherever Thaddeus goes, Sandulf finds himself yanked along, he might not have a choice in the matter anyway.

Buy Soul Eater!

About Ofelia Gränd

Ofelia Gränd is Swedish, which often shines through in her stories. She likes to write about everyday people ending up in not-so-everyday situations, and hopefully also getting out of them. She writes romance, contemporary, paranormal, Sci-Fi and whatever else catches her fancy.

Her books are written for readers who want to take a break from their everyday life for an hour or two.

When Ofelia manages to tear herself from the screen and sneak away from her husband and children, she likes to take walks in the woods…if she’s lucky she finds her way back home again.

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Interview: Liz Faraim talks about Canopy

Today, please welcome new author Liz Faraim to the blog to answer my incredibly intrusive questions and talk about her debut release, Canopy! Canopy is a contemporary LGTBQ thriller, featuring Vivian Chastain, a veteran transitioning back in to civilian life. It’s not a romance, but falls squarely in the LGBTQ category, with f/f pairings and gay, trans and poly characters.

There’s an excerpt and a chance to enter her rafflecopter draw if you scroll on down, too.

Happy Monday, Liz! Why are you doing this interview?

I am doing this interview because my debut novel, Canopy, is due to release on October 26. I’ve also just launched my website. My lack of web design skills will become apparent if you choose to visit the site.

Tell us a bit about why you started writing?

Not sure I can really pin it down. Writing has always been something I have done. I recall tapping away on my father’s old manual typewriter as a child, which resulted in my first short story. My mother had a friend that was an author, and I mailed him my little manuscript to see if he’d give me some feedback.

Where do you write?

We live in a small townhouse, with doesn’t have much space for everyday living, let alone an office. So, my writing desk is in the only place it fits, which is the living room. While it is not the cozy little writing nook I dream of, it gets the job done.

What do you like to read? And what are the three books you’d take to a desert island?

I like to read contemporary fiction, historical fiction, mystery, and the occasional fantasy novel.

If going to a desert island I would bring: 1) Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, 2) David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, and 3) Katie Quinn’s The Huntress.

I would bring these books because each one of them does a fantastic job of transporting me to another place. They really suck me in and provide a level of connection with the characters that I would likely need if all alone on an island.

Writing is an intrinsically solo occupation. Do you belong to any groups or associations, either online or in the ‘real’ world? How does that work for you?

I am a member of both the Queer Sacramento Authors Collective, and the Bay Area Queer Writers Association. Previously these groups held meetings in person, but have adapted to virtual meetings given the current public health issues here. Both groups have been incredibly helpful in advancing my writing, and I have formed some wonderful friendships.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

When not writing I am parenting my very busy nine-year-old son, working my day job, and exploring. I live in a beautiful town on the bay, and I like to get out and enjoy the incredible views and fresh air. I also enjoy geocaching, watching tv, hosting game night (when not in a pandemic), and playing with my cats.

Tell me a little bit about Canopy. What gave you the idea for it? How long did it take to write? What did you enjoy about writing it? What did you hate?

My upcoming release was a long time in the making. Canopy was my first attempt at a full-length novel, so I didn’t really know what I was doing. It has seen many iterations, but I am happy with the final product. All in all, Canopy took about three years to write. The main character, Vivian, was inside of me, ready to be wrestled down onto paper.

I am a “panster,” so I don’t plot my stories out in advance. I just sit down and write, so I never know what is going to happen in the story until I am typing it.

I enjoyed the feeling of how easily the story flowed out of me. That’s not to say I don’t get writer’s block, because I most certainly do, but Canopy had been bottled up in me for years and was ready to come out. What I hated was that I had a very unexpected and traumatic break up right after I finished the first draft. I had sent the manuscript out to my beta readers, but I became so depressed from the break up that I wasn’t emotionally strong enough to read their feedback or make any corrections for almost six months.

Thank you so much for sharing with us today, Liz! Read on to learn more about Canopy. Liz is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour to celebrate her launch.

Canopy

Vivian Chastain is an adrenaline addicted veteran transitioning to civilian life in Sacramento, California. She settles into a new routine while she finishes up college and works as a bartender, covering up her intense anxiety with fake bravado and swagger. All Vivian wants is peace and quiet, but her whole trajectory changes when she stumbles upon a heinous crime in progress, and has to fight for her life to get away.

While recovering from the fight, she falls in love with someone who is tall in stature but short on emotional intelligence, and this toxic union provides Vivian the relationship that she thinks she needs. Given Vivian’s insecurities and traumatic past, she clings to the relationship even while it destroys her.

Prone to fits of rage, the spiraling of Vivian’s temper creates a turning point for her as she looks within to find the peace she seeks.

Vivian’s alcoholic brother and emotionally devoid mother serve as frequent thorns in her side, prompting her turbulent history to often bubble up to the surface. The bubbling turns to a rolling boil when Vivian’s brother lands himself in jail for drunken indiscretions, and not long afterward her partner is arrested for something so atrocious Vivian cannot even fathom it. She is left pondering whether or not to believe that the person she loves could have committed such an inexcusable crime.

Vivian’s relationships are strained to their breaking points as she continues to seek balance. She turns to her best friend for support, only to be left empty handed and alone until she finds comradery and care from the last person she would have thought.

Warnings: This book contains sexually explicit material which is only suitable for mature readers, graphic violence, self-harm, abuse of a child by a parent, abuse by a sibling, alcohol abuse, and PTSD.

Buy Canopy

About Liz

Liz Faraim is a recovering workaholic who has mastered multi-tasking, including balancing a day job, solo parenting, writing, and finding some semblance of a social life. In past lives she has been a soldier, a bartender, a shoe salesperson, an assistant museum curator, and even a driving instructor.

Liz writes contemporary fiction that highlights queer characters and often includes complex polyamorous relationships. Her writing has a hefty dose of soul searching and emotional turmoil while also taking the reader on fun adventures. She loves spending time in nature and does her best to share nature with her readers.

Website : Facebook : Twitter : Goodreads

Read an excerpt from Canopy

As I approached Road 27, I saw what looked like an old warehouse. It was all closed up, the metal siding rusty, the dirt lot empty and overgrown with Russian Thistle. It was perfect for a bio break.

I backed off the throttle and downshifted. The bike rapidly slowed under me. I pulled into the dirt lot and parked along the side of the structure. I killed the engine and hopped off quickly, yanking off my helmet and gloves.

My bladder was screaming for relief. I grabbed a tissue from my tank bag and jogged around to the east side of the building so I wouldn’t be seen from the road. Dropping trou, I squatted against the side of the building. The heat of the warm metal siding radiated through the back of my shirt. Once I was finished, I stood, buckling my belt as the relief washed over my body.

The building was surrounded by row crops, and a breeze blew across the fields. The distant Sierra Mountains wavered in the hot air.

It occurred to me an abandoned warehouse like that would be a great spot for geocaching and I walked slowly along the side of the building, looking for potential geocache hiding spots.

I rounded the far corner of the building and stopped in my tracks. I was startled to see a car parked about twenty feet away. It was a rusted-out old Honda Accord, its windows rolled down. The burgundy paint was oxidized, and strips of the headliner hung down, fluttering in the hot midday breeze.

Some faint shuffling sounds came from inside the warehouse, and I realized I was standing directly in front of a rusty pedestrian door. I took a few steps back. My hands tingled and I balled them into fists.

It’s just a farm worker getting some tools, dumbass.

But the hypervigilance that had kicked in would not go away. Something was off, and it made me bristle.

I reached down for my M16 sling and came up empty. I looked down at my boots on the dusty cracked ground. They were my scuffed-up riding boots, not military issue jump boots. My pants were denim, not BDU’s.

I slipped away to another hot, dusty day five years prior. A day when RPG’s and bullets filled the air rather than the sound of the breeze rustling crops. A day when blood was shed.

I took another step away from the building and forced myself to breathe. Breathe in the smell of freshly plowed soil, leather, gasoline, and the faint hint of a dung heap.

I slapped myself across the thighs, hard. Even through denim, the sound and sting of it helped bring me back. My thighs and palms burned. I did it again to make the point to myself.

The door to the warehouse opened, and a woman stepped out. She was wearing a tan backpack, whistling, and twirling a key ring on her fingertip as she walked toward a spigot near the door. Her long hair was brown and tightly permed. She was short but solid and moved like an athlete. Scanning her, I noticed that her hands and shirt were bloody. I coiled up inside, ready to fight.

The door closed heavily behind her, and she took a few more steps before looking up and spotting me. She stopped whistling as our eyes met.

I immediately shifted into a fighting stance. With no hesitation the woman charged at me. I got low and opened my arms because I didn’t have time to try a side slip. As soon as the woman plowed into me, I wrapped my arms tightly around her.

We went down hard. I wrapped my legs around her waist. Dust and grit were immediately in the air.

I had a hard time keeping a grip on her torso because of the backpack. I worked my arms up until the crook of my elbow was wrapped around the back of her neck, holding her as close as I could. She bucked and tried to roll out of my grip. I locked my right foot into the crook of my left knee and squeezed the woman’s guts. She grunted as I clamped my thighs down around her, restricting her ability to get a full breath. She was solid and strong, deep down in her core.

Adrenaline and rage surged through my body, and a clear lucidity took over. I was in my element, and apparently so was the woman I was hanging onto.

Warnings: This book contains sexually explicit material which is only suitable for mature readers, graphic violence, self-harm, abuse of a child by a parent, abuse by a sibling, alcohol abuse, and PTSD.

Buy Canopy

Nell Iris: Regaining Trust

My early-morning writing buddy, Nell Iris is here today to talk to us about her new book, Regaining Trust, a story about coming back together after infidelity. You can also read her interview with me from last year, when she was the very first person to subject herself to my nosy questions!

What would you do if your partner cheated on you? Would you pack your bags and leave them behind, or would you choose to stay and fight for your relationship?

Would you feel differently for your partner after an infidelity? I mean, your trust would be shaken, betrayed, maybe destroyed, which is a huge blow and difficult to overcome. But would you stop loving them? Would it matter to you if you still loved them or would you leave anyway?

I realize that’s a bunch of hard, maybe even unanswerable, questions, but these are the things I was thinking about when I wrote my new story, Regaining Trust. I was thinking about what I would do if I were in Law’s shoes. Law says to Frankie; “I don’t just stop loving you, no matter what,”and I agree with that sentiment. But would the trust in my husband be irreparably broken or would the love I have for him be enough to heal what was broken?

I don’t know the answer to those questions. But they stayed in the back of my mind the entire time I wrote, fueling my pen, making me write so fast I feared my fountain pen nib would melt.

In Law and Frankie’s case, Law decides to give Frankie another chance, despite his trust being smashed to pieces which is devastating to Law whose background has formed him into someone who doesn’t trust easily. But for Frankie, the only one he’s ever trusted, the love of his life, he’s willing to at least try. Because no matter how hurt he is by Frankie’s actions, his love doesn’t come to a screeching halt. Even if it would have been easier.

Regaining Trust is the story of how Law and Frankie work hard to find their way back together.

Read on for the blurb, more about Nell, and an excerpt or Buy Regaining Trust.

Blurb:

When workaholic Lawrence Weller walks in on the aftermath of his fiancé Frankie cheating on him, his world shatters. Frankie’s the love of his life, the only person he’s ever trusted, and the betrayal leaves him devastated.

Franklin Ennis makes a huge mistake that he regrets deeply before it’s even over. He pleads for a second chance, willing to do whatever it takes to save their relationship.

A love that deep doesn’t just stop, so Lawrence agrees to try. But mistakes don’t happen in a vacuum. Are they both willing to own up to their part? Will their love be enough to repair what was crushed? Can trust once broken be rebuilt?

Buy Regaining Trust

Who’s Nell, then?

Nell Iris is a romantic at heart who believes everyone deserves a happy ending. She’s a bona fide bookworm (learned to read long before she started school), wouldn’t dream of going anywhere without something to read (not even the ladies room), loves music (and singing along at the top of her voice but she’s no Celine Dion), and is a real Star Trek nerd (Make it so). She loves words, bullet journals, poetry, wine, coffee-flavored kisses, and fika (a Swedish cultural thing involving coffee and pastry!)

Nell believes passionately in equality for all regardless of race, gender or sexuality, and wants to make the world a better, less hateful, place.

Nell is a bisexual Swedish woman married to the love of her life, a proud mama of a grown daughter, and is approaching 50 faster than she’d like. She lives in the south of Sweden where she spends her days thinking up stories about people falling in love. After dreaming about being a writer for most of her life, she finally was in a place where she could pursue her dream and released her first book in 2017.

Nell Iris writes gay romance, prefers sweet over angsty, short over long, and quirky characters over alpha males.

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Excerpt:

“You never told me you were lonely,” I say.

“I did!” His protest is loud and takes some of the defeat from his body. “I’ve told you a thousand times. How I miss you when you’re always working late and wish we could do more stuff together.”

I knit my eyebrows together, trying to think back and remember. He’s right. He always hugs me tightly and tells me how much he’ll miss me when he knows I’ll work late. Or how he wishes we could do something together, even if it’s only watching a show while cuddling on the couch.

”I thought that was your way of showing me how you feel about me. You being sweet and caring. Not once did I think it meant ‘I’m so fucking lonely I’ll suck someone else’s dick.’ Was it even your first time?” The question is a pained scream, hurting my throat, my head, my soul. I don’t like yelling, so I take a deep breath and start counting to ten in my head to calm down, but I’m interrupted before even reaching three.

“Of course, it was the first time,” he roars. “I’m not a cheater.”

His words are a thundercrack in an otherwise dead silent apartment, and I rear back, scramble off the couch, and turn to leave.

“No. Please.” He’s pleading now, voice cracked and bleeding out on the floor. “Please don’t leave me, Lawrence. I’ll do anything. I love you so much, don’t leave me.”

I’m frozen on the spot. Undecided. The hurt, overly-dramatic part of me wants to storm off in a huff, throw some stuff in a bag, and retreat somewhere to lick my wounds, and rage and scream and curse the treachery, while wailing out my broken heart. But the other, more rational part of me won’t let me move, the part that still remembers how much I love him, still remembers his loving kisses, his devotion. His passion.

So I sink back down on the couch. Rub my palms over my face and swallow. “I don’t know what to do here, Frankie. I’m hurt and betrayed, but at the same time I just can’t turn off my feelings for you. But how can I be with you if I can’t trust you?”

“You can trust me. You can.” He’s so sincere, so heartfelt, leaning forward—hands twitching so he shoves them between his knees—begging, willing me to believe him. And I want to. I really do.

“How?”

“I’ve never done anything like this before, never kissed anyone, hardly ever looked at anyone like that. It was a huge mistake and I regret it. So, so much. I know I can’t prove it, but I was going to tell you. That’s what I was worried about when you walked in. How I would tell you. How you’d react. If you’d hate me.”

I must look skeptical because he hurries to continue. “I know. It’s easy to say when there’s no way of proving intent. But I’m not a liar. You know I’m not.”

“Do I?” I push out the question around the lump in my throat.

He slides to his knees on the floor in front of me, sits back on his heels, and tries to catch my gaze. I give in to his silent pleas and meet his eyes.

“You know me, Lawrence. You know you do. You know what kind of person I am. I’m only human and make mistakes like everyone. This one was huge and more stupid than most, I know that. I’m not perfect, but I’m not a liar. I’m not disloyal. And I own my mistakes.” His face is open. He blinks away tears, but his gaze never falters. His hands rest on his knees, palms open and turned up, and everything about him invites me to see the honesty in his heart.

And maybe I can see it. The slight tremble of his hand and the pulse fluttering visibly in his neck betrays his anxiousness, but he doesn’t move. Doesn’t squirm or fidget, doesn’t look away from me. Nothing indicates that he’s lying.

There’s no way he’s that skilled a liar. He’s always been open and honest and prone to blurting his emotions as soon as he experiences them. That thought deflates me and I fall back against the couch.

“Yeah, I know. I believe you.” And I do. At least my head knows. I’m not sure about my heart. Or my gut, rather.

His eyes well up and a tremble racks his body, but it’s the sight of his wobbly chin that finally cracks me. I hold out my hand, unable to not touch him anymore. “Come here.”

Buy Regaining Trust