Deejay, the Great and Powerful

(Originally published on the Outlaws of Avalon Tumblr page)

So imagine that you’re a minstrel dropped into this world from a faraway fairytale universe, and your first encounter with 21st-century music went like this:

Whoa-oh-whoa-oh-whoa 

Putcho hands up, hands up!

Shawty on the dance floor,

Shakin’ it like what, wha-what?!

I’mma be with muh baby in the club,

Goin’ all night long!

Don’t you stop my song, dee-ee-jay…”

Teeth gritted in pain, Allyn forced his hands away from his ears long enough to press the power button a second time, bathing the car in near-silence once more. He glowered at Will Scarlet. “What in all hells was that?!”

“I gather that whoever played the radio last was somewhat hard of hearing,” Will said, bouncing back from a cringe of his own. “Though whether they started out hard of hearing, or only became so after listening to hip-hop at such a volume for any extended space of time, is anybody’s guess.”

[…] Brow puckered, he tried again, his finger unintentionally sliding a little bit lower. It proved a happy accident, for the radio abruptly forsook the song about the hip-hop minstrel’s encounter with the highwayman called Deejay (or such was Allyn’s best guess as to what the lyrics had been going on about)…

(From “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”, emphasis added)

Weird, sure, but as an isolated incident, it’s just one random nonsense song.

Except the more you listen to hits on the radio, the clearer it becomes that this Deejay person is no mere highwayman.

Clubbers everywhere are praying to this character as if he holds their hearts in his hands.

  • “DJ give us something to ride to”
  • “Play my song, Mr. DJ, I’m in love with the DJ”
  • “Oh DJ, ease my mind will you”
  • “I love the DJ, the DJ loves me”
  • “DJ’s got the party started, there’s no end in sight”
  • “I’m so into you ‘cause I love the DJ”
  • “Last night a DJ saved my life”
  • “The DJ’s gonna save us, DJ’s gonna save us tonight”
  • “Listen to what the DJ’s spinnin’, he’s tappin’ into just what you’re feelin’”
  • “Close your eyes to the DJ, close your eyes and fade away”
  • “DJ! Don’t do this to me – I tried to do my best – I tried not to sing out of key – DJ! Don’t you dare to leave – I tried to be the one – and now I’m on my knees!”
  • “Don’t blame the world, it’s the DJ’s fault”

*record scratch*

What are you, otherworld minstrel, to make of it all? You never once doubted that music has power, but this…

Is the Deejay a wizard?? A legion of demons?? A sentient drug?? Is he God???

In Deejay we move, in Deejay we love, in Deejay we trust! Don’t abandon us, Deejay! We pump blood to your beat! We succumb to your groove! Don’t take my baby from me, Deejay!

It’s Deejay’s party, and we’re just living in it! But of course there are those who resist.

Rebel leader Ke$ha declares “it’s time to kill the lights and shut the DJ down”. She’s backed up by The Smiths, calling for the people to “burn the disco, hang the blessed DJ”.

It is to be war.

And you can only wonder… when the smoke clears… when silence falls … who will be left standing on the dance floor?

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Thanks to Marcela Laskoski for making this image freely available on Unsplash.com

Double the Dragon

This may or may not be taken as blasphemy – particularly coming from not only a fantasy reader, but a fantasy writer – but the fact is, I’m not super into dragons.

Don’t get me wrong! They can be cool and all. If they’re done right. And by “right”, I mean they need to bring more to the table than just, “We’re dragons! ‘Nough said!” If and when I ever decide to deliver a story featuring THE mythological beast synonymous with fantasy (meaning above and the beyond the cameo appearance in “The Song Caster”, and my sorta-kinda dragon character who’ll be making her debut in Xchyler Publishing’s paranormal anthology this fall), it’ll be because I’ve come up with an at least semi-original spin that I feel will do this venerable creature justice.

So, that’s the place I was coming from when I picked up a pair of dragon books by (as coincidence would have it) a pair of Rachels. Did these fire-breathing (and, in both cases, shapeshifting) lizards brings their A-game? Read on, reader…

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Book the First: “Nice Dragons Finish Last (Heartstrikers #1)” by Rachel Aaron.

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Blurb: As the smallest dragon in the Heartstriker clan, Julius survives by a simple code: keep quiet, don’t cause trouble, and stay out of the way of bigger dragons. But this meek behavior doesn’t fly in a family of ambitious magical predators, and his mother, Bethesda the Heartstriker, has finally reached the end of her patience.

Now, sealed in human form and banished to the DFZ—a vertical metropolis built on the ruins of Old Detroit—Julius has one month to prove that he can be a ruthless dragon or kiss his true shape goodbye forever. But in a city of modern mages and vengeful spirits where dragons are considered monsters to be exterminated, he’s going to need some serious help to survive this test.

He only hopes humans are more trustworthy than dragons…

Nice Dragons

My Thoughts: Sorry, Julius Heartstriker, but it’s true: You really are a nice guy. Like, truly. And I very much like that about you. Sure, it was also cool to watch some of your siblings do their more blatantly draconic thing – Justin’s fearless badassery, Chelsea’s deadly creepiness, and the unpredictable* Bob. (*Irony intended.) Not to mention the death spirit cat. They all did their part to help things pick up speed as the story went along, until we all went roaring through the climax. But I’m a bit of a sucker for a super sweetheart (if they happen to have an “awww!”-worthy backstory, so much the more darling), and it was a pleasure, Julius, to watch you grow – both in your partnership with Marci the mage, and into your own strengths. Way to dragon up, dude.

HSYRT? (Hey, Should You Read This?): C’mon, kids. When was the last time I told you not to read a Rachel Aaron book? The e-book’s been out for a while, and now it’s finally available in paperback, too, so if you’re a diehard physical-book-lover like me, that excuse for not giving this book your money is dead. (Also, as of recently, the first sequel is out! ^o^)

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Book the Second: “Seraphina (#1)” by Rachel Hartman.

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Blurb: Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty’s anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen’s Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

Seraphina

My Thoughts: So, I basically loved everything about this book. Seraphina’s passion for music, the blunt wit of her voice, pretty much any exchange between her and… well, most of the people she spoke with, but the excellent Lucian Kiggs in particular. There were mysteries afoot and a full cast of characters I cared about, including dragons religiously divorced from human emotion. The world was fascinating, and the storytelling fun. Even the glossary at the end was entertaining! I laughed. I cringed. I mentally fondled this or that turn of phrase. I yelled at the pages and earned disparaging looks from my sisters. I smacked myself for not having sought out “Seraphina” sooner, and for leaving Book Two on the library shelf when I finally snagged Book One. “Shadow Scale”, you’d better believe I’ll be coming for you.

HSYRT? (Hey, Should You Read This?): YES, SHUT UP, YES.

Such are my thoughts on the books. Have any of your own? Share below!

Burdin 2, Launch ‘n’ Review

Know what day it is? Huh, huh? Do ya, do ya? Release day for a friend o’ mine’s sequel, that’s what!

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The Book: “Burdin of Choice (Beasts of Burdin #2)” by Alexander Nader

Ty Burdin is back. Back to drinking and back to avoiding demons. He is, of course, the leading expert in his field. In both subjects.

That’s probably why, when a customer offers him way too much money just to locate a missing car and some mysterious cargo, he readily agrees. The dude is human after all—Ty’s prime target client base.

Along with the money comes a slew of disappearances which Ty tries to ignore while tracking down that car, because, of course, those missing people might be demon related, and as he’s said before, that’s agency business. Not his. Period.

Until today.

Ty Burdin is to back drinking as well as everything he vowed never to get involved with again.

Question is, which one will kill him first? The booze, the demons, or the Agency?

My Thoughts: Ty’s stubborn determination to turn his back on demons, this time around, was good news/bad news for me as a reader. On the one hand, there was the off-color entertainment of Ty repeatedly letting everyone around him know just how far down under the Agency could stick their agenda, as far as he cared. But on the other, his avoidance of anything that even smelled of demon amounted to him avoiding much buildup of a plot. It took most of the book before there was any real edge-of-your-seat action of the sort that kept pages turning in the first volume of the series. Nonetheless, the smart-aleck narration did a bit to help smooth over the pacing issues and kept me from boredom; I continued to enjoy Ty’s relationship with colorful secretary Nora and cool cop brother Hartnet; and the concluding chapters suggest that there’s plenty in store for Burdin and company in the trilogy’s final installment. I’m looking forward to it!

HSYRT? (Hey, Should You Read This?): Well, if you’re looking for your Burdin fix after Book One, you’ll have a long wait for Book Three if you don’t, now won’t you?  And/or, y’know, you could just gaze at this seriously awesome Beasts of Burdin swag, for a while. (Nader’s set up an online store, yo! Somebody buy something with “Danielle E. Shipley” on the cover so I can blow cash on that poster!)

“Burdin of Choice” is newly available via Amazon and Barnes and Noble. And make sure to come back next Tuesday (not tomorrow; the Tuesday after that), when Alex will find himself once again grilled under the interrogation lamp of a certain scarlet private eye.

In Which the Guest Author Speaks of Foresight and Surprises

As today’s stop on the TORN Blog Tour, Ever On Word is proud to present Laney McMann! *studio audience applause*

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Torn Blog Tour Button

For my guest post, Danielle was curious about how much of TORN, the second book in the Fire Born Novels trilogy, I saw coming while I was writing the first book, TIED.

This is a great question and luckily an easy one to answer. I saw everything and nothing while I was writing TORN. 😉 What I mean by that is I knew exactly where the story would go, where I planned and wanted it to go, BUT the route in which it took to get to that place surprised me. My characters always surprise me when I allow them to lead rather than trying to direct everything, and I absolutely LOVE that.

At the end of TIED, I knew that TORN would be even darker in nature. I knew where the story had to go, but the extent to which the characters delved into that darkness was deeper than I’d envisioned, and the level of emotion followed in suit. So did the tears. TORN ended up being an emotional whirlwind that I didn’t completely see coming. Layla and Max grew as characters, Justice and Tristan moved to the forefront, and a few unforeseen, as well as foreseen, characters developed into major players. All in all, the story became much bigger in scope than TIED, and it continues to grow.

Writing is always such an awesome ride, and I loved creating a larger world for Layla and Max to live in. A few tears were shed during the process, and I know more will come, as I’m finding as many surprises writing the third, and final, book in the trilogy, TRUE.

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Torn cover

About TORN: Find Max.

That’s all Layla cares about. Not healing from the Fomore attack. Not finding answers to how she survived a fall that nearly killed her. Nothing will stop her. She will find him. She’ll even pair up with an overbearing Fallen Angel who’s hell bent on making everything harder than it needs to be if she has to.

Protect Layla.

For Max, nothing else matters. Not the bruises covering his body. Not the pain radiating from his broken bones. Not even his hands tied behind his back. He will find a way to save Layla, and the Fomore will pay if they’ve hurt her.

Every. Single. One of them.

In the second installment of The Fire Born trilogy, a new breed of villain looms—one Layla and Max will never suspect, and this killer has nothing to lose. Better yet, with Max and Layla’s deaths, victory is in the grip of the enemy.

Will Max and Layla find each other in time, or is it already too late for them both?

Laney McMann 2

About Laney: With a passion for the supernatural and all things magical, Laney developed a voracious appetite for reading fantasy at a young age. A vivid imagination helped set the stage for creating her own worlds and placed her onto the writing path.

By the time she reached her teens, she’d accumulated notebooks full of poems, which led to short stories and finally novels. Young adult dark fantasy, paranormal romance, and mythology are among her favorite genres.

A former classical dancer and chef, she grew up in sultry Florida where she still resides with her family.

You can find her occasional ramblings on Twitter.

Book updates on her author page at Goodreads.

Her Facebook Profile for inspiration and randomness.

Updates on The Fire Born Novels at her Facebook Author Page

Here interests on Pinterest.

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Webite: http://laneymcmann.weebly.com/

You can also contact her by email at: laneymcmannyaauthor(at)gmail(dot)com

Enter Laney’s Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win signed paperback copies of TIED and TORN, or e-copies of the same!

TORN Release Day Blast

Shouting for a friend: As of today, TORN, book #2 of the Fire Born trilogy by fellow J. Taylor Publishing author Laney McMann (whom you may remember from this interview of yesteryear), has launched! Click here to add the novel on Goodreads…before or after you read on so you’ll know what the book is even about. ;D

Torn cover

Find Max.

That’s all Layla cares about. Not healing from the Fomore attack. Not finding answers to how she survived a fall that nearly killed her. Nothing will stop her. She will find him. She’ll even pair up with an overbearing Fallen Angel who’s hell bent on making everything harder than it needs to be if she has to.

Protect Layla.

For Max, nothing else matters. Not the bruises covering his body. Not the pain radiating from his broken bones. Not even his hands tied behind his back. He will find a way to save Layla, and the Fomore will pay if they’ve hurt her.

Every. Single. One of them.

In the second installment of The Fire Born trilogy, a new breed of villain looms—one Layla and Max will never suspect, and this killer has nothing to lose. Better yet, with Max and Layla’s deaths, victory is in the grip of the enemy.

Will Max and Layla find each other in time, or is it already too late for them both?

I’ll have Laney over this time next week to grace us with a guest post as part of the TORN blog tour. In the meantime, TORN is available for purchase in paperback and e-formats via Amazon and Barnes & Noble, so by all means feel free to grab your own copy(ies) today!

Furthermore, the e-version of TIED (Fire Born #1) is currently on sale for just 99 cents, so no better time than now to catch up on the series. And let us not forget you can enter Laney’s Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win 2 signed paperback copies of TORN, 2 e-copies of TORN, and 5 signed TORN bookmarks.

/End blast. Commence tour! (See schedule of stops here.)

Burdin of Choice Lifted

No, that’s not a misspelling in the title. “Burdin” I said, and “Burdin” I meant, because this is Cover Reveal Day for the sequel to a certain J. Taylor Publishing urban fantasy reviewed here and hyped here with a little help from the book’s author and my scarlet outlaw. So if you were dithering over whether or not to get an eyeful of this upcoming novel’s face, allow me to make the choice easy. Just scroll on down.

BurdinOfChoice_web

How’s that for atmosphere? Only fitting, I’d say, given what the back of the book has to say about the novel’s insides…

Ty Burdin is back. Back to drinking and back to avoiding demons. He is, of course, the leading expert in his field. In both subjects.

That’s probably why, when a customer offers him way too much money just to locate a missing car and some mysterious cargo, he readily agrees. The dude is human after all—Ty’s prime target client base.

Along with the money comes a slew of disappearances which Ty tries to ignore while tracking down that car, because, of course, those missing people might be demon related, and as he’s said before, that’s agency business. Not his. Period.

Until today.

Ty Burdin is to back drinking as well as everything he vowed never to get involved with again.

Question is, which one will kill him first? The booze, the demons, or the Agency?

*nod, nods* That is indeed the question. Personally, my money’s on the booze or the Agency. Ty’s track record with demons suggests that they’re the ones who need to watch out.

Meanwhile, the rest of can all watch out for the release of Burdin of Choice” on November 10, 2014.

In Which a Noir Scarlet Gets the Dirt on Alexander Nader

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When I agreed to interview author Alexander Nader as part of his “Beasts of Burdin” blog tour, I had no idea that one of the characters in my head would take that as invitation to conduct the interview for me. Perhaps I should have known. It’s Will Scarlet, after all. And once he heard “Burdin ” features a private eye… well, let’s just say he felt inspired.

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Trading in the medieval charms of home for a seedy office off some gray back alley, Will takes a seat across from his subject of interrogation. Red fedora angled over one sparkling blue eye; pen and notepad at the ready; unlit cigarette clenched lightly at the corner of his mouth for effect.

“So, Alexander – or should I say Alex?” He arches the one eyebrow left visible. “Seriously, which one would you rather? Your book cover and Facebook page say one thing, your blog’s title says another… Who exactly are you trying to throw off the scent?”

Alex: To be completely honest, the Swedish Mafia. You see I’m in witness protection and they took my full name Alexander and very uncreatively broke it up and swapped a couple letters to get Alex Nader. Alex-ander, Alex Nader, get it? Yeah, it’s crazy, but can we just keep that between us? Those mafia dudes are ruthless.

“Ah. Say no more,” Will says, tapping the side of his nose conspiratorially. “Well, I mean, I hope you’ll say a little more. I’ve done a little digging, and I must say, I’ve turned up some pretty interesting dirt. A certain Tweet of yours, for instance, suggests that you and I have something in common.” Will grins. “We’re both said to look like Greek gods.”

Danielle: When has anyone ever said you look like a Greek god?

“You’re all thinking it. I could be Apollo’s twin.”

Danielle: Artemis, virgin goddess of the hunt?

Will casts an annoyed glance at his author. “I am conducting an interview, here. Sorry about that, Alex. Anyway. You said, quote, ‘She did not specify, but if given the choice I guess I’d have to go with Poseidon.’” Will leans forward, gaze intent and not a little suspicious. “Why Poseidon?”

Alex: Easy. He’s my great uncle on my father’s side. Yeah, me and Posey go way back. Every time he came to visit my house smelled like the ocean for weeks. This one time he even let me hold his trident. Man, what a mess that was. It took two weeks to get all the charbroiled flounder out of the carpet.

Will laughs. “I can imagine!” He flips back a few pages in his notepad. “Now, in doing a background check on you and your family, like ya do, I noticed a trend when it comes to your children: Every single one of their names contains the letters ‘av’. It begs two questions. One, what is the significance of this alpha sequence? Two, can you think of any similar patterns to be found within the names of your fictional characters?”

Alex: Yes, the letters AV are, in fact, an acronym: Actual Vampire. It’s because they are slowly draining the life force of my checking account. I mean seriously, do you know how much Nintendo games cost nowadays? There is a similar pattern between the names of my children and my characters and it’s pop culture references. My kids are named from a movie, a song, and a comic book. Bonus points if you can guess which is which.

“Ooh, I love bonus points. Memo to self,” he scribbles aloud. “Match ‘Nader’ kids to source. Win big. Got it. Moving on, and talking of characters, in the press release for your novel— Say, I haven’t congratulated you on that yet, have I? Way to go, you! Where we fictional folk would be without you author people to spill our deepest secrets to the public for cash of which we never see a dime, I just don’t know! That sounded really bitter. I’m not actually, I swear. Seriously, congratulations. Does anyone remember where I was going with this?” He checks his notes. “Yes! Right! Press release. It describes your main character, Ty Burdin, as ‘a man women will love and men will wish were their best friend. Not to be him, just to befriend.’ That’s a pretty sweet character recommendation! How true would you say it holds from your perspective? Do you and Ty hang out as friends? – and, if not, do you wish you could? Why / why not? And say, low key,” he drops his voice to a murmur, “how do you think he’d get on with me?”

Alex: I think Ty is a lot like my worst character traits rolled into a walking, talking insult machine. Ty is really kind of a jerk so if you’re planning on hanging out with him you better have thick skin. On the other hand if you had a drink to offer I’m sure he would hang around until things dried up.

“Oh, I’m sure I could scare up a tankard of ale or seven. One last question, if I may.” Will points his pen at the face across from him. “Since you have a beard and all, I’ve got to ask: Have you ever in your childhood dreams considered joining up with the Merry Men? Not that we all have beards, obviously,” he says, indicating his own face. “But, y’know, it might be seen as a point in your favor. The same goes for hoods and tights. Or if none of that is your thing, what did you want to be when you grew up? And how does it compare with the reality you’re living, Mr. Author/Family Man/Poseidon Lookalike?”

Alex: Tights? Um, tights are to me what a three legged elephant is to tight-rope walking; incompatible. Although, as poor as I am, I’d like to give props to what you guys are doing. Keep the money flowing, chap. So what did I want to be when I grew up? Astronomer, marine biologist, chemist, inventor, Power Ranger, Ninja Turtle, X-man…Really just depended which hour of the day you caught me on.

“Merry Man, superhero… same difference, practically. And that, my friend, is a wrap!” Will flips his notepad shut and extends a hearty handshake. “Been excellent talking to you, sir. That’ll be all for now but, y’know, don’t leave town. …Not that you have to listen to me. I’m not the police. Heck, depending on which sheriff you ask, I’m the enemy. Any case, good luck with your book, yeah? And give your ‘av’ kids my ‘hello’!”

Alex: It was very nice talking with you, Will. And tell Danielle I said, “hi”. I’m done weaving my complex tales of fiction and now I can go celebrate with a drink! (…me and Ty are different people, I swear.)

Alex Nader

About the Author:

Alex lives in the tourist infested hills of east Tennessee with his amazing wife/muse and three superb children. He would tell you more about how awesome they are, but you probably wouldn’t believe him. When he’s not hanging out with them he’s making pizzas. When he’s not doing that he’s working at a bookstore and occasionally he jots a few words down. He’s a big fan of good music, good storytelling, and mixed martial arts.

He once wrote a short story about pirates to his wife via text message that blossomed into a full length novel and never stopped after that.

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Blurb:

Demon hunter Ty Burdin hung up his guns, knife, trench coat and fedora a year ago. Bags packed, hands washed of all demon politics, he’s done. Forever.

In fact, to get far far away, he dragged Nora, his rockabilly secretary, from Miami to the Tennessee mountains where he’s lived a life of peace—if peace can be defined as drowning in scotch and taking private eye jobs to keep the lights on. Jobs for real people. Not demons.

No demons.

He’s retired from that. Remember?

Demon hunters aren’t a dime a dozen, though, and when Ty’s brother asks him for a favor—just one—what’s a brother to do? Agreeing to take down one hillbilly demon shouldn’t take that long. In. Decapitate. Out. Favor complete. Back to the office where Nora and his bottle of whiskey are waiting.

Unfortunately for Ty, staying retired doesn’t seem to be in the cards, and an avalanche of bad luck draws him right back to an agency he despises and the career that nearly cost him his sanity.

This time, Ty has no way out and will have to face his own demons just to survive.

Beasts of Burdin” (my review here) available via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.

In Which I Bite the Devil’s Bullet & Review a Book

One of my writer friends/fellow J. Taylor Publishing author’s novel debut is set to launch on February 10th (i.e., quite soon!). To get you warmed up for the fun to come (including an absolutely-not-to-be-missed author interview as part of the book’s upcoming blog tour), here’s my advance reader review!

The Book: “Beasts of Burdin” by Alexander Nader.

Genre: Urban Fantasy.

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Blurb: Demon hunter Ty Burdin hung up his guns, knife, trench coat and fedora a year ago. Bags packed, hands washed of all demon politics, he’s done. Forever.

In fact, to get far far away, he dragged Nora, his rockabilly secretary, from Miami to the Tennessee mountains where he’s lived a life of peace—if peace can be defined as drowning in scotch and taking private eye jobs to keep the lights on. Jobs for real people. Not demons.

No demons.

He’s retired from that. Remember?

Demon hunters aren’t a dime a dozen, though, and when Ty’s brother asks him for a favor—just one—what’s a brother to do? Agreeing to take down one hillbilly demon shouldn’t take that long. In. Decapitate. Out. Favor complete. Back to the office where Nora and his bottle of whiskey are waiting.

Unfortunately for Ty, staying retired doesn’t seem to be in the cards, and an avalanche of bad luck draws him right back to an agency he despises and the career that nearly cost him his sanity.

This time, Ty has no way out and will have to face his own demons just to survive.

My Thoughts: I had a fun night with my ARC of this puppy. Ty’s narrative voice was snappy and amusingly jaded, just as one would hope for in a whisky-soaked private eye with demon decapitation at the top of his résumé. Talking of demons, the sheer variety sprinkled throughout the story was impressive – from soul barterers, to fortunetellers, to those who specialize in seduction and/or heatstroke. I never knew what turn the tale would take next, putting me in the same boat as the book’s good guys, minus any realistic fear that I could be shot with the devil’s bullet at any moment. (Yes. The devil’s bullet. It’s a thing, and take it from Ty, you don’t want it to hit you.)

I enjoyed watching Ty relate to the cast around him. His brother Hartnet (who, free confession, I thought was kinda hot), adopted into the big-name demon-hunting family and fearlessly facing down the beasties the best a non-Burdin can. His secretary Nora, who will doubtless elicit the empathy of every writer out there who’s trying to snag a publishing break while holding down a job where people keep getting shot and beheaded in their office space. (Inspiration can come at a heart-pounding price, eh, Nora?) And let us not forget the smug agency members with whom Ty probably couldn’t play nice if he tried – and he wasn’t trying. A wit like Ty’s ought not be kept in a vacuum, so I was pleased to see him so often surrounded by good friends and… less-than-good less-than-friends.

HSYRT? (Hey, Should You Read This?): If you’re up for an entertaining adult urban fantasy, this is the book I’ll point you to. From the small sampling I’ve had of the genre, “Beasts of Burdin” sailed smoothly to the top, and I’m looking forward to the series’ continuation. Stay tuned for the novel’s release and blog tour on February 10th!

Or, y’know, you might just have a chance to read the book sooner than that. ‘Cause guess what, folks? J. Taylor Publishing is giving away FIVE e-ARC copies of “Beasts of Burdin”! You don’t even have to be a book blogger or “have connections” like me. ;D Nope, so long as you are willing to leave an honest review between the dates January 27th – February 10th 2014, you are eligible to enter. Interested? Then just fill out the form linked here, and keep your fingers crossed. You have until midnight of January 26th to enter. Best of luck, all!

“Anthology” or “So Many Stories, So Little Time to Wait!”

Less than One More Month until the December 2nd release of the “One More Day” “collection of selected literary pieces”!!!

I swear, the closer the day draws, the less real it feels. My first published work with J. Taylor Publishing. Ho, ly, wow. My brain has died. I don’t even know what to do with myself. Good thing I’ve had my review of the anthology sitting around for a little while now, or who knows what kind of gibberish you’d get. As it is…

The Book: “One More Day” by seven J. Taylor Publishing authors, including headliner L.S. Murphy and yours truly. (:

Genre: YA anthology.

Blurb: What if today never ends?
What if everything about life—everything anyone hoped to be, to do, to experience—never happens?
Whether sitting in a chair, driving down the road, in surgery, jumping off a cliff or flying … that’s where you’d be … forever.
Unless …
In One More Day, Erika Beebe, Marissa Halvorson, Kimberly Kay, J. Keller Ford, Danielle E. Shipley and Anna Simpson join L.S. Murphy to give us their twists, surprising us with answers to two big questions, all from the perspective of characters under the age of eighteen.
How do we restart time?
How do we make everything go back to normal?
The answers, in whatever the world—human, alien, medieval, fantasy or fairytale—could, maybe, happen today.
Right now.
What would you do if this happened … to you?

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My Thoughts: One underlying premise, seven widely divergent end results. The anthology hits the ground running with Anna Simspon’s chronology-hopping “Time Piece” and Marissa Halvorson’s reality-bending “Dark Rose”. It made for a real page-turner of an opening, though I admit the preference for action over explanation displayed in both tales had me sometimes feeling as confused as the stories’ protagonists. The pace of J. Keller Ford’s “Dragon Flight” suited me better, and I enjoyed the narrative voice.

Reading “The Thirteenth Month”, I could appreciate why L.S. Murphy got top billing in this anthology. Her piece was just good. Pulse-pounding, breath-catching, scary-dark, “oh, snap, how is this going to end?!” good. I kinda feel like rereading it right now, actually, but I’m in the middle of a review, here, so I’ll have to postpone the pleasure. In briefest summary: Epic story, well executed, go read it.

Lightening the tone was Kimberly Kay’s “Sleepless Beauty” – which, from the moment I knew it as a fairytale spin, I anticipated would be right up my alley. Kay did not disappoint; on the contrary, her humorous touch with the charming plot had me smiling pretty much start to finish. And while I could not always quite understand what was happening when during Erika Beebe’s “Stage Fright”, much of the emotion at the heart of the story I could understand all too well, forging a moment of emotional connection between me and the tale’s main character which not nearly every author out there can manage.

As for the concluding piece, “A Morrow More”… well, I wrote that one, so perhaps my thoughts upon it wouldn’t be entirely objective. (That being said, I thought it was a lovely, lyrical work of art, and I look forward to this author’s future publications.)

HSYRT? (Hey, Should You Read This?): Um, yeah. I’m in it! And even if (for whatever peculiar reason) you don’t happen to be a diehard Danielle E. Shipley fan, I’m still of the opinion that there’s a little something in this collection for readers of all stripes. So don’t wait One More Day than you have to (I’m sure you saw what I did there) to get your hands on a copy of these stories.

Get hyped, guys. IT IS COMING.

“Wolves” or “The Whys and Were-fores Behind the Holloway Pack”

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Previously on Ever On Word, I reviewed yet-to-be-released urban fantasy Caged” by J.A. Belfield, the latest in a series following the exploits of the Holloway Pack werewolves. As of yesterday, “Caged” is on the market, and as of right now, the author is here among us as a part of her new novel’s blog tour! Read on for her answer to the frequently asked question, “Why ‘any of large several predatory canids (genus Canis) that live and hunt in packs and resemble the related dogs’?

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Why wolves? is a question I am asked a lot, and the answer is as simple as it is complex.
On the complex end of the scale: due to having dreamt of (not just wolves but) werewolves from an early age, I feel a connection to this species. I have dreamt of myself as wolf. Hunted as wolf. Raced as wolf. I’ve also witnessed werewolf changes in others—including in Mr. B—and been hunted by wolves. So, werewolves and wolves are a huge presence within my subconscious.

On the simpler end of the scale: wolves intrigue me. Or more to the point, the ability to become one, whilst still maintaining your humanity, intrigues me.

In my mind, it’s like the best of both worlds.

To have the ability to make conscious decisions not driven by instinctual urges and needs alone. To live amongst the human world, because humanity is a big part of who I am, so I’d be grieved to lose that completely in order to become something else.
But also, to know I could release my inner animal, the wild side of me that allows me to become one with nature, to soar amongst a forest I’ve claimed as my own, to experience the unity that comes from a pack hunt, to mate with the intensity that far too many marriages of today lack (maybe my belief that this is the way to go is why I’m still with Mr. B after 23 years), and to be so perceptive of the world around me as every sense is heightened, adding colour and flavour and sensation to the experience that might normally have gone amiss.

And all of this with the safety net of returning to my human life, and allowing the mundane to connect that less savage side of me to an existence I love just as much.

So, yes, the idea of this draws me, intrigues me, and excites me enough to want to investigate it further.

THIS is why I write wolves. This is also why I chose to write my wolves in the way I do. I didn’t want to head toward the monstrous beasts so prevailing in the dark urban fantasy or horror of today, but rather a creature with the ability to blend into their surroundings, whichever of their forms they took. And so, the Holloway Pack was born.

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J.A. Belfield
About J.A. Belfied:

One day, a character and scene popped into J. A. Belfield’s head, and she started controlling the little people inside her imagination, as though she were the puppet master and they her toys. Questions arose: What would happen if …? How would they react if …? Who would they meet if …?

Before she knew it, a singular scene had become an entire movie. The characters she controlled began to hold conversations. Their actions reflected the personalities she bestowed upon them. Within no time, they had a life, a lover, a foe, family … they had Become.

One day, she wrote down her thoughts. She’s yet to stop.

J. A. Belfield lives in Solihull, England, with her husband, two children, four cats and a dog. She writes paranormal romance, with a second love for urban fantasy.

She also book blogs over at Bookaroo-Ju.

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You can buy copies of “Caged” here:
Amazon
B&N
Kobo

Blue Moon cover, J.A. Belfield

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Haven’t read “Blue Moon (Holloway Pack #2)” yet? Well, you’re in luck, because during the “Caged” blog tour, Blue Moon” will be on sale for just $0.99! Nab a copy here:
Amazon
B&N
Kobo

There’s also a raffle going on!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

For more posts and interviews and giveaways and all that awesome book launch-type stuff, follow along on the “Caged” blog tour. And don’t forget to wave “hi” to J.A., for me!