Reading

Hit the books #AtoZChallenge – Peculiar ‘Pen fellows’ – Quirks only a writer can understand

peculiar penfellows

HHit the books

As writers, we have an interesting relationship with books. We spend our life surrounded by them – our own, other people’s – it doesn’t matter. Reading is a passion we share for various reasons; for the connection, for pleasure, to learn. We collect them, covet them, and often use them to benefit our own writing.

I love to hit the books, often I spend too much time losing myself in other worlds, and as a writer, I could probably talk for days about everything I love about them. But I’ll save you from the essay on how books enrich our lives – you likely already know the power of the written word!

Instead I’ll share an image from the aMAZEme book maze, which was part of the London 2012 Festival. A maze I would happily get lost in. I’d probably stay there for a good long while, providing someone dropped in a few care packages (including a notepad and pen for when I get antsy and want to add to the collection!)

amazeme-book-maze-london-2012-festival

Thanks for stopping by
Mel

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Saturday Book Club – 26 March 2016

I got a little side tracked with my reading this week. I’m still reading Rogue Lawyer, but a friend told me about a book called ‘Why Does E=mc²?’ by Brian Cox & Jeff Forshaw and, like I said…side tracked. It’s heavy, but written in an engaging tone, which is often amusing, so when you have to reread a paragraph to let it sink in, you have fun doing it! The theories relating to space and time are fascinating, so I got completely caught up.

I’m reading them simultaneously, which is a nice balance, but means I haven’t romped through Grisham’s book as I would normally do. So, rain check on my thoughts about that particular adventure. I have a few days off work, so I’m sure I’ll catch up.

Moving on from reading, a blogging friend, Jacqui Murray, shared photographs of her work space this week, and you can check that out by clicking here. I thought I would share my own space with you, as I do most of my writing, and reading, sitting at my desk. Here is what my office looks like – it’s suprising what you can do with a box room!

PicMonkey Collage

In terms of writing, I’ve been trying to create character profiles for The Collective to display on the website. I thought it might be good for readers to follow along with the series and get to know the main players a little better. I’ve had a few formatting issues, so I’m still working on that. I also want to create a glossary, and that is next on my agenda. It’s almost time to release the first episode, so that’s exciting. With that in mind, I thought I would share a sneak peak with you – the introduction to Esha Tomas.

“Damn, vampires,” Esha muttered, pacing the courtyard. “Why do we continue to put up with Isaac’s crap?”

Leela tried, but failed, to cover her amusement. “I’m not sure where to start with that. First, your best friend is a vampire, and second, Isaac is his brother, and, do I need to remind you, a Noble Shield.”

“Yes, and I ask myself the why of that last one every day.”

Esha was a Noble Shield, as was Leela, their best friend Aaron, and his idiot brother, Isaac. There were thirteen Shields in total, all in service to Constance, the Siren Queen.

“Let Aaron deal with it,” Leela said in a placating tone. “Constance respects him.”

“It’s the only reason Isaac is still alive.” Esha glanced across at the enormous stone pillars that sat astride the steps leading to the palace. She didn’t see the noble architecture, the glistening stone that formed part of the land, her thoughts were on Aaron. It stung that he felt it was his duty to face Constance alone. They had his back in all things, but his brother had brought shame to the family, to their queen, and Aaron took the responsibility for Isaac’s actions. He always did.

Esha’s wings twitched. She longed to take flight. As a siren, she was part bird and, warrior or not, she was at her best in the sky. She often chose her half-form, like now, because she liked the feel of her wings. Her head dropped back and she looked up, following the path of one of her comrades as she flew out to scout the area.

“You’ll be able to stretch your wings soon enough,” Leela said beside her, the desire to shift as powerful as Esha’s.

Esha nodded. Their region was vast. Marsacre was one of the largest in Nearyon. It sat beside Valcrest, home of the Enraptured; Aaron’s true home. But their friend had chosen to serve Constance, and in doing so, his loyalty was to her. Esha and Leela shared that loyalty, but they also swore to protect one another. When Aaron began his journey, they would accompany him, whether he liked it or not.

Her body froze the moment she caught the scent of their friend’s arrogance. By the gods, but there was no denying Aaron had balls the size of cantaloupe.

She watched him, friend and fellow descendent of the Clanderians and, as she did, Esha considered their differences. They were both part of the same fucked-up gene pool, but in many ways – they were kin. His steps were sure, his posture deceptively relaxed. He had skin the colour of burnt treacle, with eyes so dark they stole some of the light. Yes, he was a magnificent creature. She gave him credit for holding his powers in check. He didn’t even try to buffer her annoyance. He never did.

That’s it from me this week and, as always, I want to know what you’re reading, what projects, if any, you have on the go – anything you want to share.

Thanks for stopping by.

Mel

Saturday Book Club – 19 March 2016

Hi, how was your week? Mine was a little crazy, so I’m thrilled it’s the weekend – more so because I get to catch up. So let’s talk. I have a pretty comfy couch, so we’re good here for a while.

Cover Art by Jon Hunsinger

I’m currently reading Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham, but we’ll get to that in a minute. First, I promised a summary of my thoughts on Crossing Bedlam by Charles Yallowitz, which I finished last week. I wrote a review, and you can find it by clicking here.

So, back to Grisham. I actually read a review on  Don Massenzio’s blog, and as I used to be a huge fan of Grisham’s books, after reading what Don had to say about Rogue Lawyer I couldn’t resist. So far, so good. I think I might actually be hooked again. I’m a faithful reader, so I tend to stick by my favourites. Unfortunately the last couple I read of Grisham’s made me hesitate when considering his latest release. I would have got to it eventually, put it on my ever growing reading list. I’m glad I didn’t wait. There are so many authors I enjoy at the moment, it’s not easy to choose. Unless it’s Lee Child (because I have a serious weakness for Jack Reacher), I tend to read them in order.

Rogue Lawyer

Going back to the crazy, as in week, that would be crazy busy, I’ve only read a couple of chapters. I expect I’ll have more to say about it next week, though. If you’ve read it, feel free to share your thoughts.

Writing wise, I’ve mostly been editing. I’m working my way through episode 2 of the Collective, and trying to make sure the characters have a unique voice. It’s written in third person, but each episode is told from multiple points of view – changing characters depending on the scene. Again, it’s different to my novels, juggling so many characters (and plot lines), so the challenges just keep coming! Not that it isn’t fun. I’m having an absolute blast. In fact, I’m so excited about this project, I had to pull over to the side of the road yesterday to jot something down (safely).

One of the things I love about getting to know my characters is that, even when I know their background, think I know all their secrets, bam, out of the blue they share something with me and I think ‘No! Really?’ I know I’m not alone in that – even the most explicit of planners get caught by surprise. I mention this because it’s the reason I had to pull over (safely).

I will be releasing a sneak preview of the first episode next week (Chapter 1) on the website, so I’ll share a link with you. I already posted it to Watt Pad, so if you want to check it out, you can do that here. Just a note, if you read the post I wrote for Writer’s Quote Wednesday, you will recognise the first part of the chapter, so you’ll need to scroll down for the continuation – to find out how the scene ends.

But that’s it from me. I’ve rambled enough. I want to hear about your week. Are you reading anything new? If it’s still the same book, how’s that going? What about writing, blogging, creative outlets in general – do you have anything to share?

Thanks for stopping by.

Mel

 

 

Saturday Book Club

Welcome, I hope you had a good week. I am having a lazy Saturday. I’ve almost finished Crossing Bedlam, a novel by Charles Yallowitz, so I’m in my lazy-day clothes. All my jobs are done, and I can camp out on the sofa and finish the adventure. I will be writing a review, so next week I can share the highlights.

I travelled quite a lot this week, so as I can’t read and drive (how great would it be if we all had KIT to rely on), I listened to an audio book. It’s an old favourite – the In Death series by JD Robb (Nora Roberts). I also find my household chores get done a lot quicker, because I get lost in the story and ‘voila’ the rooms are as neat as a pin – well, okay, not quite. But close enough.

saturday book club

Writing wise, it has been all about the Collective. The gang follow me around just about everywhere I go, and I find writing a serial is a new kind of challenge. There is so much to remember, I’ve been forced to adapt my current system just to keep up. I know some writers who tackle a project working almost in reverse. So they write the final scene first. I never understood this until the Collective. I wrote the final scene to episode four first, because it was so clear in my mind I had to get it down. It had a curious effect because everything slotted into place as the team clawed their way towards the cliff-hanger.

That’s another interesting part. I have to create a cliff hanger at the end of each episode, with the final scene of the season incorporating an explosive finale. Not altogether different from a novel, but it feels more immediate, certainly more structured. I should have done this years ago!

Now all I have to do is decide where to publish the episodes. The full season will be available as a set, but in the meantime, how do I release the monthly instalments. It is a dilemma!

Right, so enough about me. I have my coffee ready, the goodies out (I’m so organised today). Tell me about you. What are you reading? How are the writing projects going? Did you have any interesting blogging adventures? Talk to me!

Mel

 

Saturday Book Club

I’m finding it difficult to maintain a regular schedule for the blog, and I miss you all, so I came up with a solution that will force me to set aside time at least once per week dedicated to a post. That way I can catch up with all my friends, so it’s a win win.

Each Saturday I will talk about what I’m currently reading, what I’m working on personally, and offer you the chance to do the same.

Sounds easy enough, right? Well, then, here goes!

Cover Art by Jon Hunsinger

I’m currently reading Crossing Bedlam by Charles E. Yallowitz. I haven’t been able to devote the time I wanted to, so I’m picking it up when I can – like a little treat to myself in my downtime. I’m really enjoying it, as I knew I would. Charles published teasers on his site, and one of the main characters, Lloyd (a serial killer) is just delightful – in a laugh out loud kind of way. It is an apocalyptic action comedy adventure, and so far, it has been quite a ride!

collective slide

As far as writing, I’m working on a serialised fiction project – The Collective. I will be releasing the first episode in April 2016, and I’m excited to get started. The Collective came into existence due to my love for the characters in my fantasy series, the Fractured. The series is based several years after the Demonic War, so I decided to write about the war itself, and try my hand at a serial. The first season will have six episodes. I’ve already created a site for The Collective, which I will work on over the next few months, adding character profiles and uploading previews.

Now it’s over to you. I have my coffee at the ready, so we can chat about books, and your current projects. What are you reading at the moment? What are you working on?

Thanks for stopping by.

Mel

 

Bookish Christmas Tag.png

I was tagged by one of my writing friend’s, Callum McLaughlin, to take part in an original book tag he created for the festive season. It’s great fun, and you should definitely check it out.

Father Christmas: Name a book you received as a child that you treasure to this day.

As with many families, we have a tradition which involves a gift on Christmas Eve. It’s evolved slightly, and this year it includes a whole box of goodies, but originally it meant opening a book.

One year I received ‘What-a-Mess’ by Frank Muir, and I still have it. It’s a little dog-eared (pun intended), but I treasure it. I’m not sure, specifically, what it is about the book I enjoyed as a child. Perhaps it’s that we had Afghan hounds growing up and I loved to imagine what mischief they were planning. Regardless, I have fond memories of reading it with my parents.

The ghost of Christmas past: Is there a book or series you like to revisit each year at Christmas time?

I have to admit, there are a number of books I reread on a yearly basis. If I fall for a character, I want to spend time with them as often as I can. At this time of year, it depends what I have on the go. This year, I’ve fallen so behind on my reading list that, for the first time in a long time, I don’t have an old favourite on the go.

Christmas tree: Name a series that reaches new heights with every entry.

I’m a sucker for Nalini Singh, and her Guild Hunter series gets better with every instalment. But then, I always find a good series will continue to grow as the characters evolve and the author develops with them. At least in my experience.

Friends and family: Name a book with fantastic characters.

Just one? Sheesh, Callum, that’s a tough call! Oh, the pressure…I’ll have to fall back on an old favourite and say Lord of the Rings.

Decorations: Name a book with a gorgeous cover you would proudly display on your shelves.

The Gargoyle

I especially like that the edges of the pages are black, so it makes the book look dark and sinister!

Christmas cards: Name a book that carries a great message.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. I’ve always loved the book. It’s one I’ve read many times, though I haven’t read it in a number of years. I think I just found my answer to question two!

Ice and snow: Name a book that you were hoping to love but which ultimately left you feeling cold.

This is going to sound strange, because I used the book in my answer to the decoration question, but I haven’t yet finished The Gargoyle. It’s one of my regrets, mainly because the writing is excellent and I wanted to enjoy it, but I had no motivation to continue. I should probably start from the beginning, and let the story work its magic!

Christmas lunch: Name a book that was big and intimidating but oh so worth it in the end.

The Stand by Stephen King. I first read the novel in my late teens and I could barely lift the thing! Seriously, though, it was an intimidating novel to get through, but totally worth it in the end.

Mince pies: Name a book you found sweet and satisfying.

Just about anything Nora Roberts has ever written! I love her work, and she’s a dab hand with the sweet 🙂

Presents: What book do you wish you could give everyone to read?

Probably The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I keep trying to persuade my daughter to read it – to read anything – but I just can’t pin her down! I think everyone should read the book, and then reread the book. Every time I do, I learn something new. Yes, that’s definitely what I’ll be reading this Christmas!

Spreading the festive cheer:

I don’t have anyone specific to tag, because I know how busy things get at this time of year. But I’d love to see the tag continue, so if you would like to take part – please do. I’d love to learn more about your festive reading habits.

Thanks for stopping by.

Mel

 

Author Spotlight: PS Bartlett

It’s my pleasure to introduce PS Bartlett and her series – The Razor’s Adventures Pirate Tales. Below you will find details on the series, more information about Peggy, and a sneak peak of Chapter One from Jaded Tides. Enjoy!

The Razor’s Adventures Pirate Tales: The Series to Date

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00047]
IVORY DAWN: Prequel Novella
Ivory Shepard didn’t want to be a pirate when she grew up but she didn’t plan on being orphaned and alone at thirteen with her three cousins either.
After a Spanish raid in Charles Towne left them with nothing, Ivory held her cousins together, trained them to fight for their lives and led them to a life of quiet refuge on the banks of the Ashley River. Believing they were out of reach of the hands of unscrupulous men, they found life on the farm a tolerable substitute for the traditional alternatives life would force onto them—until the night the pirates showed up.
Unfortunately for the pirates, these handy young women were ready, and they weren’t going anywhere without a fight.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00070]DEMONS & PEARLS: Book One
Had I known the repercussions of murdering the captain of a pirate ship, I may have taken the time necessary to rethink the act. As if I’ve ever had a choice that didn’t involve a fight or at the very least, defending myself against some man, hell bent on destroying me or my kin.
All we wanted was our freedom. All we found were demons disguised as men.
A woman pirate needs friends, big strong male friends, to survive in this unforgiving land of thieves and murderers—at least until she gets on her feet. Of course, trying to find one person you can trust is like finding an oyster with a perfect pearl in it—you have to break a few shells and get your hands dirty. We were lucky. I found the biggest, baddest and most honorable man in the Caribbean and he just happened to be in the pearl business.

Jaded Tides Front CoverJADED TIDES: Book Two
After finding love in the most unlikely of places, Ivory’s life appears to at last be falling into place. Having proven herself a force to be reckoned with, she has at last set sail for the first time as a pirate. The only problem is she’s a woman and must disguise herself in order to set foot on a ship. Being in love with her captain isn’t helping matters either and whole new set of obstacles are presenting themselves at every turn. Her brash style and tenacity, however, could prove to make her, her own worst enemy.
With a sword in her hand and her new found love at her side, Ivory Shepard is about to embark on a mission to rescue and return every young woman she can who has fallen prey to the jaded tides of the Caribbean sex trade. Armed with a secret log book she acquired from a pirate captain—who also happened to be an evil smuggler, she believes herself well prepared for the task. As she’s already learned the hard way, pirates always prove to be unpredictable and ruthless. Unfortunately for them, so is she.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00019]THE BLUE DIAMOND – THE RAZOR’S EDGE: Ten years in the future…if you like to read ahead.
Ivory Shepard didn’t want to be a pirate when she grew up but she didn’t plan on being orphaned and alone at thirteen with her three cousins either.
After a Spanish raid in Charles Towne left them with nothing, Ivory held her cousins together, trained them to fight for their lives and led them to a life of quiet refuge on the banks of the Ashley River. Out of reach of the hands of unscrupulous men, they found life on the farm a tolerable substitute for the traditional alternatives life would force onto them—until the night the pirates showed up.
Setting foot on that first pirate ship was nothing compared to the life of freedom and adventure awaiting them, once Ivory and the girls were through playing nice. Only one man believes he can stop her and he won’t need a ship full of guns to do it.
If it were only that easy…

Amber Wake
COMING DECEMBER 2015: AMBER WAKE: GABRIEL FALLING
Where do I begin? That’s a difficult question in and of itself but when your life is transformed in a matter of minutes into something else, do you begin when you’re born or when your life truly began?
I was born in London as Gabriel Wallace, a child of high society; although I was raised to appreciate everything that softly landed in my hand. I followed all the rules. I worked hard, studied hard and ended up a captain in the Royal Navy before my twenty-fifth birthday. Unfortunately, I saw the world through my own eyes, not the eyes of the crown and my vision was clear. I knew my duty. I knew my job. I also knew deep down, regardless of the loyalty my commission required, my stance was in opposition and it was but a matter of time before I’d be forced to stand alone.
Fortunately for me, my crew was loyal too and I had the full support of my closest friend and confidant as well. I didn’t know where I’d end up but I knew one thing for sure; I needed to get the hell out of England and thanks to them, I was taking my ship with me.

PS Bartlett Book Fair

Me and my fabulous pirate hat at the Baltimore Book Festival 9/25/15

I suppose it would be easy for me to just give the canned speech about myself in third person ( aka inside the backs of my books) but tonight, I’m actually in the mood to ramble on about myself…LUCKY YOU!

First, the canned speech:

P.S. (Peggy) has always had a love of books and writing. She also paints and draws and although writing takes up the majority of her free time by choice, she loves spending time with her friends and family.

Her first novel “Fireflies” was published in March of 2013 with GMTA Publishing and her second, “Hope From the Ocean” was published in March of 2014, also with GMTA.

As of March 2015, Peggy now independently publishes her own novels.

Peggy’s goal is to become a full time writer and spend the remainder of her days creating worlds, characters and stories that will carry on long after she’s written her last word.
Her motto is:
“I’m taking a fantastic voyage. Won’t you join me?”

A- Age: Seriously? Um…no.
B- Biggest Fear: Losing my loved ones.
C- Current Time: 8:29pm EST
D- Drink you last had: Coffee
E- Easiest Person To Talk to: My sister in law, Kim. We ride to work together every morning and ponder the universe.
F- Favorite Song: Right now, Go All the Way by the Raspberries. Something about that tune just makes me swoon.
G- Ghosts, are they real: Absolutely. Ask me sometime and I’ll elaborate.
H- Hometown: Baltimore, MD born and raised in the inner city.
I- In love with: My granddaughters.
K- Killed Someone: Only in my novels.
L- Last time you cried: Watching a video on Facebook. Sometimes those puppies and kittens are so damn cute!
M- Middle Name: Sue.
N- Number of siblings: 10. I’m number 11…yes, I’m serious. Unfortunately, there are only 5 of us left.
O- One Wish: To live long enough to see my grandchildren grow up.
P- Person who you last called: I just checked and it was my husband the other day.
Q- Question you’re always asked: How are you doing with the book thing?
R- Reason to smile: My grandbabies!
S- Song last sang: Fixer Upper from Frozen
T- Time you woke up: 6:50am
U- Underwear Color: Today? Beige
V- Vacation Destination: St Thomas.
W- Worst Habit: Grinding my teeth
X- X-Rays you’ve had: Recently, my right foot.
Y- Your favorite food: Japanese stir fry.
Z- Zodiac Sign: Aquariuuuuuuusssss….
How’s that? 🙂

Jaded Tides Front Cover

CHAPTER ONE – THRESHOLDS

When one finds themselves in a predicament where something they’ve longed for is finally in their grasp, it is customary for them to be grateful, thankful, and every other joyful emotion a living creature can feel. However, success itself is a predicament when you are standing with your arms full, without a free hand. That is precisely what I was feeling as I watched the Thunder Cay dipping forward until her bow was completely underwater. Within minutes, her stern rose up and it, too, vanished from view.
As I stood on the deck of the Demon Sea, surrounded by death, I was holding a life of my own in my hands for the first time, and I hadn’t stopped for a second to consider it. I wasn’t foolish enough to believe I was at the summit of anything but the first of a hundred mountains I’d yet to scale. As I bathed and dressed my crewmen’s injuries and drew that burning needle through wound after wound, a numbness from my newly acquired familiarity with the blood of battle grew within me. With every scream and shriek of agony, a cold shudder would shake me and keep me in motion. The inertia of constant stillness within me declared I’d crossed a threshold from which I could never go back.
I wanted to feel. I wanted to care. I wanted to cry or shout or perhaps even vomit, but there was nothing. Once my clothes were splattered and soaked with the blood of men I hardly knew for maybe the third or even the fifth time that morning, I reached a point where I could neither see it nor feel its sticky chill against my skin. My face went flat, and my voice was silenced, and somewhere a compartment in my brain opened up and collected it all until I was through. When the last man was laid in his hammock by late afternoon, I stood on the deck and washed all of them away with a bucket of water and soap, snuck away to the girls’ cabin, and changed my clothes as if nothing had happened.
They were visibly shaken, but silent as well. Yet I knew their silence was far different from mine. Theirs was sadness and regret. Theirs was exhaustion, disgust, and sympathy. I hadn’t seen them this way since the night of the pirate raid in Charles Towne, and as with that night, my next thought was that there had to be something on this ship in a bottle that would soothe me again and help me find my voice, as well as my spirit.
I found one alright, and it found me. I carried it close as I drug myself along the gangway in the shadows to my swaying bed. I stood there, looking at the two empty hammocks, and swallowed a long drink. Almost immediately, my insides felt warm and sweet, and I rushed it to my mouth again. I strained to hold my eyes steady and leaned against the beam that kept my bed suspended above the floor. I stared at the vacant place where hours before I’d smiled to myself while listening to River Watts’s voice. I was glad we took down Thunder Cay for what they did to River, and I’d have murdered every last one of them myself had we not.
My heavy eyes and vacant soul longed for sleep, and my hunger for revenge, sated with the peace of sweet vengeance, afforded me the right to rest my head. Then, all at once, a sadness came over me, and I slid myself into his hammock while clutching my cozy glass rum filled blanket and fell into a deep sleep.

We’d reached Port Royal by nightfall as Captain Rasmus Bergman predicted, and he found us a charming inn a few miles from the McCormack estate. It was all white and sat quietly on a hill, surrounded by a lovely garden. A stone pathway wrapped around from the front to a spacious courtyard. The house was home to a minister and his wife, who rented out the rooms to support their small parish on the estate.
Rasmus insisted that I stay there with the girls at night, but I spent the majority of my days on the Demon Sea with him, helping with the repairs to the ship and plotting our course to take down the filthy business of smuggling girls. When I’d been able to get a peek inside that book of Barclay’s, I was shocked at the number of young women, some as young as fourteen, whom these men were ferrying to islands throughout the Caribbean from as far away as America and even England. What they’d been doing was no different than a slave trade, and I was hell-bent on putting a stop to it, aside the man I loved.
Spending all of my time with Rasmus had turned my life from fear and uncertainty into a reason to breathe. Throughout our unorthodox courtship of swinging mallets and sanding deck boards, we’d grown to know everything about each other that two people who were planning a future together could, or should, know—at least, that’s what we believed. That comforting numbness the bloody battle had left me with had completely settled into its compartment in my mind, and I was able to keep it locked away most of the time, but in those hours I shared with him, I found the most peace.
He’d sworn not to lay a hand on me again until he made me his bride, which was extremely disappointing to me at first, but I trusted that he knew what was best. I put all of those swirling emotions to use through the sweat of hard work. I envied his restraint and thanked God for it, because at the time, I had none at all. Just watching him working on that ship shirtless, glistening in the sunlight or the rain, sent deep feelings of desire to places within me I longed for him to find. I wondered, though, if the idea of him making love to me only excited me until the realization that it would inevitably happen scared me to death.
Day in and day out, I’d rise before the sun, saddle my sweet horse, Peppi, and start off down the road to the wharf to meet Rasmus and the crew. My first job as a real sailor was sewing sails. I hated it. My fingertips were raw and had more holes in them than a sponge. I tried to use the leather gloves Rasmus had given me out of pity, but my hands swam in them, and they made things even worse. I never complained. I never even so much as winced as I drew that needle through and through. When I was finally done, the callouses had hardened until I knew I was pricked only when I saw the droplets of blood.
I was a young man named Razor in the eyes of the crew, and so far no one suspected otherwise. I was questioned once by one of the old crew we called Fin, as to why I didn’t sleep aboard the ship. He was one of Barclay’s old crew, and although he seemed decent enough, I still harbored doubts of any man who’d sailed with a captain like that. I wove a story that I had three sisters I had to watch over at night. He simply nodded and went on about his work. Since he liked to talk most of the time, I just listened.
On one occasion, he told me of how he missed his home back in Ireland, and his light brown eyes sparkled as he spoke. Lying became a way of life for me, and as long as I made the stories simple, they were easily recalled and repeated. Not speaking much at all, however, was much easier.
“Razor, if you’re finished with those sails, we can use some help sandin’ down these new starboard gunnels!” Captain Bergman shouted to me… but I was starving.
“Have we any time to eat, Captain?” I asked, shielding my eyes from the midday sun until he approached me and blocked it with his big silhouette.
He checked his pocket watch and turned his head to the sun and said, “Look at the hour. Your stomach must be set like a watch, Razor. Okay mates, take a break. Hawk’s got some grub for ye all below.”
“Thank ye, Captain,” I muttered and stood as I straightened my ragged clothes and started off to eat.
“Razor, I’d have a word with ye,” Rasmus said as he stepped in front of me.
“Aye, Captain?”
He waited a few moments until the deck was clear and then patted me firmly on the back. “I have to give ye credit, little Razor, you’ve really pulled your weight getting her seaworthy.”
“Oh, she’s more than seaworthy, sir, she’s a real gem. I’ll be proud to sail her with ye, Captain,” I said with a smile and a wink.
“She’s all but finished. Just a few more nails and a bit of paint, and she’ll be ready. I just want ye to know I saw ye and everything you’ve done to help. Now, get ye some grub before those sea dogs finish it off.” He looked down and that curl grew at the corner of his mouth. I could barely see it anymore since he’d grown his beard. His amber mustache draped almost completely over both his lips, but I always saw his smile in his eyes.
“That means the world to me, Captain.” I was beaming at him, and I nodded and started to go when I felt his palm press lightly against my chest through my vest and binding.
“Tonight, our cove?” he whispered aside to me from the corner of his mouth.
“Yes, or I’ll feed ye to the fish,” I said with a laugh. After months of strenuous labor, my body was hard and strong. I knew every inch of this vessel and could climb the ratlines faster than any other lad on the crew. Yes, it’s true, I raced them all. Of course, they cited my youth and wiry stature as an advantage, but to me, they could use any excuse they had and I’d still be the fastest. I was, however, so ready for her to be finished. I couldn’t wait to get to sea and start hunting, but I also wanted to get on with spending as much time as I possibly could with Rasmus before we sailed. The knowing that by dusk I’d be draped in his waiting arms made those long hot days worthwhile.
With every evening we spent watching the sun set and the moon rise, I could see his desire for me deepen. His touch was determined and less fearful of exploring me, and his kisses were wet and seething with hunger. Somehow though, he always managed to find his head and stop before shattering that vow he’d made to bits.
He spoke of how well I’d sewn his wound and encouraged me to learn the ways of doctoring, in hopes that would be my place aboard ship. Yet he always wandered back to his true wish, which was that I’d just set those thoughts aside and be his wife and the mother of his children.
“Razz,” I said as I peeled myself away from him and sat up from the blanket in the sand to breathe. “Sometimes, I wish we never had to leave this beach.”
He laid there for a few moments, finding his own breath, and then leaned upon an elbow. His blank expression worried me until at last he spoke, “What would you say if I told ye you’d never have to leave this cove if ye didn’t want to?”
“Well, what will we do, pitch a tent?” I sniped at him and folded my arms.
He rolled up and sat facing me and chuckled. “Do you honestly think for one moment I’d allow my wife to live in a tent?” He mimicked my actions and sat straight-backed and folded his arms as well. “What sort of man do ye think I am, lass?”
“Well, I…” I stammered and looked into his light blue eyes, and I knew what kind of man he was. I pressed my lips together to hold in a laugh and gave him a smirk.
“I was going to surprise ye, but there’s no surprising ye. Now that the repairs and such are close to being finished on the ship, I’ll be building ye a house of yer very own right here.”
“You’re going to do it, Razz?” I said, sitting up from where moments before I had laid back in his arms, as he spoke of our own little home.
“How can I not? I can’t keep carrying on this way with you forever. It isn’t healthy for a man to get all stirred up night after night and have to jump in the sea to cool off. Besides, I can’t be bringing my bride to a ship, now can I?” He laughed and pulled me back into his arms. “Our own little love nest, aye?” He pumped his bushy red eyebrows and winked with a devilish grin.
“How long will it take?” I asked him as I pushed a long lock of that glowing fire away from his face and behind his ear.
“I figure I’ll round up a bunch of the lads from the Demon, and with a little gold and rum…the rum at the end of the day of course…we could have it put together in a couple of weeks. Which reminds me, by the way,” he said as he sat forward and reached into the pouch on his belt. “Stand up for me now, lass. If I’m going to take this leap, I’m going to need your hand.”
“What is it?” I said as I climbed to my feet.
I watched as he stood up in front of me and took my hand. “I’ve never even come close to doing anything this brave, Ivory Shepard. So, if I promise to give ye my love, my loyalty, and my big body to take care of ye, all I ask is your promise not to steal my heart and run off with it.” He knelt down on one knee in the sand before me and slid onto my finger a simple, but beautiful, gold band with one small, perfect white pearl. The pearl was laid into the band as part of the ring, not set on top as most rings were.
“Wait, does this mean…” I paused.
“It means I must have lost my mind, but there’s not another woman alive I’d rather lose it for. Will ye be my wife today, tomorrow, and for as long as ye can stand me?” he asked as he raised his eyes to meet mine and then reached again into that pouch and slipped the most beautiful jade bracelet on my wrist and tied it closed. Between the smooth stones of my favorite color, which were each about a half an inch in diameter, were small seashells. I knew before he even told me that they were shells he himself had collected and hand-picked.
“I’m frightened. What if I’m a terrible wife and won’t make you happy? There’s no chance I’ll run away with your heart, but I’m afraid I’ll not handle it well. You know how I am, Razz,” I said as my eyes beamed at his beautiful gifts for only a second before I reached out and took his splendid face in my hands and waited for one of us to say something—anything.
“You are my pearl. I’ve loved you since the first time I saw you. My heart is as big as my fist, and that’s a lot of heart to handle. I believe it can take any punishment you might put it through. But the point is, it’s a risk I’m willing to take,” he finally said.
I fell to my knees in front of him and shouted, “Yes!” again and again as he kissed my face from cheek to cheek, then my forehead to my chin, and then he swept me on top of him on the blanket. His hands pulled me so tightly against him that I began to fear what our first time together might be like. I was afraid the passion he’d suppressed for so long would leave me as no more than a sail battered by a hurricane. I panicked when I felt his hands sliding inside the back of my breeches and gathering my shirt between his fingers. I gasped and jumped off of him.
“What are you doing?”
He leaned upon one elbow and smiled at me. “I believed we’d crossed a threshold tonight, lass. I suppose I should have asked for your permission before I tried to remove your clothes.” He laughed.
“I don’t want to ruin this perfect evening, but I’m not ready yet. I thought I was, but I’m not. I promise, when I am, you’ll be the first to know.”
I knew immediately by the time I was back at the Chandler’s estate and tucked away in my bed, I’d regret this decision. In the end, waiting until I knew the time was right far outweighed a momentary leap over a line in the sand that I could never cross back over. Making love had now become a decision I wanted to make with the greatest of care. Having thrown myself at him before, only to be rejected, I didn’t want to ever rush things with him again.
Rasmus, the ever-patient, ever-strong and constant, wouldn’t be shaken by this rejection. I’d seen him at his best and at his worst and every way in between, and never once did I see any mood or emotion concealed. He’d have never tried to manipulate me through false sentiment or behavior to make me feel I’d disappointed him. I’d thought for a moment I had when he sat up and fell silent, staring at the lagoon but almost instantly, I knew the guilt was mine to bear. He carried on as usual, snuffing out the fire and gathering our things to head for home. I turned and looked back at this beautiful setting and imagined our little cottage. It didn’t take long before I could walk through the door.

Within a week, our quaint home near the beach was well under construction. All of the repairs to the Demon were complete, and she was like a shiny piece of gold. Rasmus had made some modifications, but for the most part, after having been careened, cleaned, and all signs of battle now nothing more than a memory, she was the finest lady in the harbor and looking for a capable crew.
After the battle with the Thunder Cay, some of the younger hands moved on to find work on land. They weren’t pirates as we knew pirates to be, and they certainly weren’t looking for a fight. Rasmus was a captain, not a jailer, and he still to this day refused to name himself as such. Piracy wasn’t in his blood; it came by him through an injection of betrayal and fate, and a man this mighty and absolute wasn’t going to be defined by his circumstances forever.
Unfortunately, I believed he loved me too much to deny me anything I wanted…I wanted the sea. I wanted to explore every aspect of discovering where it would take me, and most of all, I wanted to bring down every name in Barclay’s secret catalog of shame, and I wanted to do it with the man I loved.
Rasmus held tightly to the book and kept it hidden away. I believed he was afraid I’d go running off alone after them, but that wasn’t going to happen. I struggled each day aboard the Demon not to seek it out and memorize every last ship and captain, as well as the young women. Nearly three months had passed since we took down Thunder Cay, and I was aching to sail and get on with our mission. Rasmus wanted us married as soon as possible and refused to set sail with me again until I agreed to the doctoring and keeping what was now my short, scruffy blond head and every other part of me concealed. He also reminded me that I was never to enter his cabin alone. Having not yet felt the man’s love upon my body, I easily agreed.


Thanks for stopping by, and to Peggy for sharing her work with us.

Mel

Summertime Madness Book Tag

Callum tagged me in this book tag and, though it’s taken a week to get to the questions, I never could resist talking about books so – thanks, Callum 🙂

Show a book with a summery cover.

the beachI haven’t read the book in years, but I enjoyed it. It was a gripping read, and I remember being relieved Richard got off the island! Not exactly a light summer read, but a great cover for the subject matter!

Pick one fictional place that would be the perfect destination for a summer vacation!

Narnia – I’d only have to go through my wardrobe to get there, too. How cool is that!

You’re about to go on a flight to your summer vacation. But you want to read a book that lasts for the whole flight, what novella do you choose?

I’d take Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles 3.5) by Marissa Meyer. I’m curious about the evil queen, Levana, and this novella is a bridge between Cress (which I just read) and Winter, the next in the Lunar Chronicles series. I love the spin Marissa put on the classic tales.

You have a case of summertime sadness what happy book do you pick up to shine a smile on your face?

It would probably be a children’s book, one I could share with my nephew and get a sneaky cuddle while I’m at it! He’s a little young yet, but I keep trying him with Dr Seuss. My youngest daughter was partial to Horton Hears A Who! so that book has fun memories, and never fails to bring a smile to my face.

You’re sitting at the beach all alone…which fictional character would be your beach babe?

I’ll go with the first thought that popped into my head – Arthur Curry – Aquaman. I never sit on a beach for very long, I prefer to go exploring. Perhaps I could persuade Aquaman to take me to Atlantis, in fact, now that I think about it, I’ll change my answer to the second question and go to Atlantis instead!

To match your ice cream you want an icy cool sidekick! Which fictional side kick do you pick?

I think, given my previous answer I already have one! Though, let’s be honest – I’d be the side-kick in that scenario!

Share the Summertime Happiness! Who do you TAG?

I’ll tag Taylor Grace, and anyone else who would like to take part. If  you have the time, it’s a lot of fun.

Thanks for stopping by

Mel

A question of favourites…

Thank you BSL

real-neat-blog-awardLast week I received two nominations for the Really Neat Blog Award, and I’d like to thank Robin and Heather from WriteOnSisters and Diane from A Creative Mind. Each nominator created five original questions for their nominees. So, as I waited for the caffeine to kick in this morning, I sat back and got stuck in! Here are my responses:

Questions by Diane Riggins:

  1. What is your favorite movie/tv show and why?

I don’t really have a favourite, I’m all about the plural! Pinning me down to one choice makes me break out in a sweat – I’m far too neurotic! So, I’ll share the show I watched most recently, because it’s among my favourites – Castle. Why? It’s about a writer who solves crime, how cool is that? Same thing with the movies, though this is slightly easier to pin down. This movie has always been in my top-ten, and I watch it often – The Breakfast Club. I love the film for a number of reasons, but I’ll narrow it down further; it reminds me of my childhood and the wonderful group of friends I had. We were a diverse group, and better people for knowing each other.

  1. Who is your favorite character from a book?

One of, and I stress one of my favourite characters is Eve Dallas. Choosing a favourite character from a book, is like choosing a favourite among those who reside in my head!

  1. What is your best childhood memory?

Many of my best childhood memories involve my sister. I used to write plays and force her to act them out with me. My poor family…all the shows they had to sit through!

  1. Have you always wanted to be a writer?

I’ve been writing in some form or another my whole life, so yes, I was born with a penchant for storytelling!

  1. Where do you dream of living/visiting one day?

I’ve always wanted to visit the US, but I have my sights set on Japan at the moment. Japan has been on my wish list for a long time, but Alex Hurst gave such a wonderful overview in her A to Z posts that I’ve already started saving!

Questions by Robin and Heather (Writeonsisters):

  1. What book, show or movie do you wish you’d written?

The answer to that question is an ever-changing thing! That’s not to say I’m fickle, or elusive (okay, maybe a little), but there are so many writers I admire; those who influence my work, or who inspire me to do better. Right now it would be A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore because, though I’ve only just started reading it, Moore makes me laugh so hard my sides hurt. I wish I could do that. I also wish I had his skill at writing long sentences.

  1. If you wrote fan fiction, what would you write for and why? If you already write fan fiction just say why.

I don’t write fan fiction, but if I did, I’d probably use a Marvel or DC character. Why? Because who wouldn’t want to spend more time with their favourite superheroes?

  1. What famous author (living or dead) would you most want to team up with to write a book?

Ooh, I really like that question. At the moment, given my obsession with fantasy, I’d have to say Tolkien because, well, he’s a genius! I wouldn’t mind the looks of sympathy, the hushed whispers, ‘I always said she was odd!’ (I’m presuming he’d be a ghost – or can I use the time machine?). Imagine the conversations; the advice and guidance. It makes me dizzy just thinking about it!

  1. If you could have one day to use a time machine to go forward or backward in time, where would you go and why?

I would go back ten years, so I could spend time with my father again. I really miss him. I miss his laugh, and his voice; I miss his quiet strength and gentle understanding. So many things.

  1. Have you ever written anything that you wish you hadn’t?

There are definitely things I would change, or improve on, but nothing I regret – or wish I hadn’t written.

I would personally like to nominate Callum McLaughlin, Alex Hurst, Solveig Werner, Natacha Guyot, Hannah Givens, and Susan from Discovering Home. Here are your five questions:

  1. What is the #1 most played song on your iPod (or other listening device)?
  2. What is one of your favourite quotes?
  3. If you were immortal for one day, what would you do?
  4. What’s the most recent movie/book you’ve seen/read? Tell us about it.
  5. What have you always wanted to study (but never had the time)?

Thanks for stopping by.

Mel

My pick for the Book Riot 2015 #ReadHarder Challenge

2015-02-04 16.32.02I mentioned last week that I’ve decided to take part in a reading challenge. There were quite a few to choose from this year, but I settled on The Book Riot 2015 Read Harder Challenge, which includes twenty-four tasks. I finalized my list a few days ago, so I’d like to share my selection with you. In addition to reading the books, I will be reviewing them, or at least sharing my thoughts on the experience at regular intervals!

So, let’s break it down –

A book written by someone when they were under the age of 25 – I’ve chosen The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers. The story is about a deaf man, so you might be able to guess why I gravitated towards this book. It was written in the 1940’s so I’m expecting that terminology will be appropriate to the time. The book is about friendship and is said to give a voice to those who are rejected, forgotten, mistreated or oppressed.

A book written by someone when they were over the age of 65 All That Is by James Salter. This is his first novel in 35 years and the controversy surrounding his work intrigued me. The story follows the life of a naval officer, who returns to America and finds a position as a book editor.

A collection of short stories (either by one person or an anthology by many people)Angels of Darkness (The Guardians Series) by Nalini Singh, Ilona Andrews, and Meljean Brook. This one was already on my TBR list, so I didn’t have to look very far! I’m a fan of both Nalini Singh and Ilona Andrews, so I know I’m in for a treat. It will also be fun to explore Meljean Brook’s work.

A book published by an indie press Melkorka (Thrice Nine Legends) Book 1 by Joshua Robertson (published by Crimson Edge Publishing). I’ve just finished the novel and thoroughly enjoyed the fantasy adventure. I agreed to review it for Dragon Knight Chronicles, so I’ll share that review with you when it is published. I will also provide a review on Amazon and Goodreads over the weekend. I recommend the book to everyone who enjoys a grand and magical adventure.

A book by or about someone that identifies as LGBTQ Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden. I changed my mind on this selection a dozen times. In the end I was drawn to the romance of the story, and the post by Alison Peters (Book Riot). Nancy Garden’s book celebrates teenage love, and it endures through book burning, book banning, and all sorts of negative press.

A book by a person whose gender is different from your ownPersonal by Lee Child. It’s been a while since I spent any time with Jack Reacher, so I’m looking forward to this one.

A book that takes place in Asia A Newlywed’s Adventures in Married Land by Shweta Ganesh Kumar. During my research for this selection I found myself intrigued by Shweta Ganesh Kumar’s career, and was drawn to her experiences with communication.

A book by an author from Africa The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith. Although Alexander McCall Smith is a British author and lives in Scotland, he was born in Africa and these novels are set in Gaborone. I really enjoy a good detective novel, so it will be fun to delve into this series.

A book that is by or about someone from an indigenous culture (Native Americans, Aboriginals, etc.) How the Crows Became Black (The Bawoo Stories) May L. O’Brien. This is a children’s story I plan to share with my nephew. When I read about the book I was fascinated by the Aboriginal myth and knew we would derive hours of entertainment from this one.

A microhistory The Code Book: The Secret History of Codes and Code-breaking by Simon Singh. This one might be a surprise, but I love research and I thought it might come in handy!

A YA novelVampire Academy by Richelle Mead. This one stood out, probably because I’m not familiar with the series and when I mentioned it to my daughter she accused me of living under a rock!

A sci-fi novel Skylights by Luther M. Siler. This was been on my TBR list for a while, so it’s about time I gave it my attention, considering science fiction is one of my favourite genres. I enjoy Luther’s writing, especially his humour, so if you don’t follow him already – check out his blog.

A romance novel The Proposal by Mary Balogh. I’ve discovered many good romances thanks to my friend, Taylor Grace. I don’t normally read historical romance, unless I know the author, but I trust in this recommendation – Taylor has never failed me before!

A National Book Award, Man Booker Prize or Pulitzer Prize winner from the last decade – Redeployment by Phil Klay. This is a National Book Award winner and, again, it won’t come as a surprise. I’ve read a number of books on the realities of war, mainly in the name of research, but also because of my brother (who tries to protect me from many of those realities).

A book that is a retelling of a classic story (fairytale, Shakespearian play, classic novel, etc.) – Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles: Book 1) by Marissa Meyer. I think my daughter might be right, because I’m not familiar with Marissa Meyer’s work. This one sounds fascinating, so I might be adding another series to my list!

An audiobook Naked in Death by J. D. Robb. This isn’t a difficult task – I listen to audiobooks all the time. I chose this book because I’m a fan of Nora Roberts and though I’ve read the series, it’s been a while since I went back to the very beginning.

A collection of poetry – I’m particularly excited about this one. The slot is reserved for Seeking Solace by Callum McLaughlin (which is set for release at the end of this month). I’ve been looking forward to it for a while, and am a huge fan of Callum’s work. Once I have more details, I will share them with you. In the meantime, you can visit his site here – you don’t want to miss this collection.

A book that someone else has recommended to youHarry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling. It seems the entire reading community has recommended this one and I’m finally going to read it this year!

A book that was originally published in another language The Dumas Club by Arturo Pérez-Reverte. Robin (who also introduced me to the challenge) recommended The Dumas Club. She’s part of http://www.writeonsisters.com – a site which is full of useful advice and resources for writers.

A graphic novel, a graphic memoir or a collection of comics of any kind (Hi, have you met Panels?) The Walking Dead Volume 1: Days Gone Bye (I would have chosen it for the title alone!) by Robert Kirkman. Although I was late to the show I enjoy it, as well as Luther’s reviews over at Sourcerer, so this is another one that’s been sitting on my TBR.

A book that you would consider a guilty pleasure (Read, and then realize that good entertainment is nothing to feel guilty over) – Legacy of the Witch (Mills & Boon Nocturne) The Portal – Book 1 by Maggie Shayne. I haven’t read a Mills & Boon novel for years, but it’s where my mind went when I read guilty pleasure. I’m hoping it is good entertainment, and then I won’t have to feel guilty at all!

A book published before 1850Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe. I can’t remember when I read this, but if I enjoy it as much as the first time, this one is a winner.

A book published this year – Another reserved slot. This one for To Hunt a Sub by Jacqui Murray. It hasn’t been released yet, but I’m looking forward to reading Jacqui’s techno thriller. You can find out more about it here. There are some great resources on the site – I really enjoy the blog.

A self-improvement book (can be traditionally or non-traditionally considered “self-improvement”) – A Survival Guide for Life by Bear Grylls. Okay, so this is probably the closest I’m going to get to ‘running wild’ with Bear Grylls. The book was actually a Christmas gift (I don’t know what my sister is trying to tell me), so I didn’t have to look very hard for this one!

And that completes the list, so thanks for bearing with me! How about you? Have you set yourself a reading challenge, or do any of the tasks stand out? What are you reading? I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for stopping by.

Mel

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