Monday, March 27, 2017
I’d like to welcome Paul McHew of Leading the Pack by David J. O’Brien.
RW: What’s your story/back story? Why would someone come up with a story about you?
PMCH: Am I allowed to say, because I’m a very interesting man, with a very interesting story? I am one of a race of people who have been feared, persecuted and killed for centuries by other humans, just because of a very slight difference in our genetic make-up. This gives us a very strong lunar rhythm, and a few extra hormones and neurotransmitters that give us extraordinary strength—and a penchant for going a little crazy during the full moon.
We are what you would call werewolves. We are not the beasts, nor the shape shifters, that people believe us. We might be a little bit hairier than most but the lies of us changing into animals were invented to foment fear, because people don’t like anyone who’s different, who might worship something other than their own god, who might seduce their daughter, or their wife… We suffered for it. Our numbers were reduced to but a hundred individuals, but now we are regaining ground and have retaken the streets of a new city, far from our home on the Hungarian Plain and the slopes of the Carpathian Mountains.
RW: During what time-period does your story take place?
PMCH: It’s happening right now. The first book began back in the late eighties, when I was leaving my pack to start a family with my wife, Susan. The second book takes place just around the time of the stock market crash of 2009, when my oldest son, Patrick, began to run the city during the full moon. The last book details a problem we had a couple of years ago with some old…acquaintances, let’s say…from our ancestral home. But we go on yet, through the silver nights, side by side with the rest of humanity.
RW: What problems do you have to face and overcome in your life?
PMCH: The greatest problem we face as a culture is the conflict between remaining invisible among you, and finding mates from outside our clan, necessitating we reveal our most guarded secret—a revelation that engenders fear and abhorrence in most people. For me, that was the most difficult time of my life. But problems come in threes, they say.
Watching my own son go out and make the same mistakes I did, and more that I didn’t, was difficult. Seeing him struggle to control his own pack in a city full of cameras recording our every move hurt me almost as much as not knowing what to do with my own pack when I left them. It seemed like nothing could be as difficult, until that other problem surged with those parasitic scumbags arrived from the old country.
RW: How are you coping with the conflict in your life?
PMCH: Most conflicts can be avoided. A stern look is usually enough. People don’t want to press the issue to the point of physical pain. It is sometimes entertaining to let conflicts flare a little, of course. When I want to conclude them, I can snuff out the flames without much effort. Violence is a tool we are most adept at using to our advantage.
The issue of whether to intervene in the goings-on of a whole new pack, though, generates a conflict within myself: on the one hand, no alpha can stay in power unless he is truly respected—and/or feared—by his subordinates. On the other hand, the whole clan is watching, and their future depends on things going smoothly as much as on the future of that inept Alpha.
RW: Can you tell us about your hero/ine
PMCH: My mother has always been my hero. She died when I was a young boy after having returned to Hungary during the Second World War in order to try to save some of our family who would have been easily targeted by the Nazis. She was taken for a gypsy and sent to the gas chambers with them. She never tried to save herself for fear others of our race would be exposed. And neither did the gypsies give her up to try to barter for better conditions or even their lives, for which I will always owe them a debt of gratitude.
She is an example to us all of self-sacrifice, and a demonstration that the individual is not important; what matters is the pack, the clan, our survival as a race.
RW: Ocean or mountains?
PMCH: The Mountains, without a doubt. It’s nice to watch the moon rise over the ocean, to swim a little in the oily deep. But it’s so much more inviting to run across the mountains, through the forests, beneath the trees in the dappled silver shadows and to hunt and chase the fleet and watching creatures as we did of old.
RW: City life or country life?
PMCH: Ah, there’s the conundrum for our young cubs… We are wild like the forests but find our most interesting prey amid the concrete. It requires control, balance, and experience to keep the wildness inside while walking the streets. Sometimes we have to escape the confines of the buildings and take to the forests, simply to stop ourselves doing something that might draw too much attention.
RW: Where do you live?
PMCH: I have a house near enough to the city that I can get there quickly, either by car, or running if necessary.
Yet it’s far enough away that it feels like the country, for the city holds fewer attractions to me nowadays—I leave that all to the young pack. Apart from the horses and cattle, we have some wild animals with which to entertain ourselves of a full moon. And the grounds are enclosed, to keep things private.
My family likes to entertain, and the house is comfortably suited to gatherings of the whole clan.
RW: Black or red?
PMCH: Black. The full moon makes many shadows, and we seek to become part of those shadows. Red attracts attention, which is not what we want. It is illuminated by the silver light and we avoid that, within reason.
RW: If you came with a warning label, what would it say?
PMCH: “Treat with the respect he deserves.”
It’s so easy to have manners, but I find that many people nowadays have forgotten theirs. And it’s upsetting. Sometimes I perform what I consider my citizens’ duty, and remind people how to be nice. They usually get the message.
RW: Satin sheets or Egyptian cotton?
PMCH: During the full moon, if I am sleeping alone, I almost prefer the forest floor. If not alone, then cotton. I find them more durable than satin; sometimes you need traction, and satin usually ends up getting ripped.
RW: Those are all the questions I have for you. Thank you for speaking to me.
PMCH: It’s been a pleasure, Rochelle. Thanks for inviting me.
David J. O’Brien
David is a writer, ecologist and teacher from Dublin, Ireland, now living in Pamplona Spain. He has a degree in environmental biology and doctorate in zoology, specialising in deer biology and is still involved in deer management in his spare time.
As an avid wildlife enthusiast and ecologist, much of David’s non-academic writing, especially poetry, is inspired by wildlife and science. While some of his stories and novels are contemporary, others seek to describe the science behind the supernatural or the paranormal.
A long-time member of The World Wildlife Fund, David has pledged to donate ten percent (10%) of his royalties on all his hitherto published books to that charity to aid with protecting endangered species and habitats. Ten percent (10%) of his royalties on The Silver Nights Trilogy will also be donated to Survival International, the movement for Tribal Peoples.
You can find out more and read some poems and short stories at http://davidjmobrien.wordpress.com.
Leading the Pack
Alphas aren’t elected; they’re self-selected.
Life has been good since Paul McHew left his werewolf pack twenty years ago and married Susan. Patrick is the eldest of their four children and feels the pull of the full moon earlier than his father had.
Patrick itches for the city, but things have changed since his father’s time. The economy is booming and everyone has a smart phone. But in a post 9-11 world, where security cameras abound, everyone is being watched.
Patrick must make the city streets his own as the eldest of a new generation. To do that, he must learn to control his own impulses and those of his pack mates, if he hopes to become their leader.
Encountering a potential mate and facing a definite rival, can Patrick be the alpha everyone expects him to be?
Ten percent (10%) of the author’s royalties will be donated to WWF, the World Wildlife Fund, and to Survival International.
The man lifted himself up and held the limp animal by the ears. He exposed the throat. With his two left canines he ripped a hole through the soft skin. Blood started to drip. He put the opening to his mouth and sucked up the flowing liquid. Then he lifted the body up over his head and raised his mouth to drink it all, taking the legs between his fingers and pulling, to push the blood through the limbs and torso.
When the corpse ceased dripping, he put his fingers through the hole and ripped off the head, tossing it aside. Then he pulled the skin back off the muscles in one piece. The animal skinned, he bit into the muscular back legs and tore off strips of raw meat. Barely chewing, he swallowed hard on the flesh and walked through the paddock under the moonlight.
He caught the scent of the cattle and deer on the wind and, coming from the other side of a hill, heard the neigh of a horse, then a long, drawn out howl. He grinned to himself. The blood still on his lips dripped to his chin.
The animal consumed and his stomach filled, the man wondered what to do now that particular desire had been satiated.
A voice whispered to him.
He’d been told the voice would come. He’d been instructed to ignore it—it was just in his head. He was curious, though. The voice had a soft tone; seductive and conspiratorial. It was his friend—at least that’s what it sounded like. The voice told him that the people in the big house he could see half a mile off, a pale sentinel in the moonlight over the fields, were all against him. He should stop listening to them. They were only trying to control him because they feared his power, his ability. He was a hunter, a wolf. The voice said he didn’t need them or anyone to take down a deer—or a bull, if he wanted to. And he didn’t need to obey their rules. They were merely jealous of his prowess.
He looked at the house. No doubt those inside watched his every move through the meadows. His bedroom was in there, at the extreme end of the right wing. It had been easy to leap down from the second floor. He could climb back up there, too, quite easily. But the voice was right. Why would he want to do that? Just because the other inhabitants said that was best?
He turned his back on the big house. What was it, really, but a prison? Yes, it was his home. The only home he’d ever known. Yet tonight it felt like a prison: one that had held him for too long. It would hold him no longer. Not for this night. Tonight he would run. The voice was right; he could escape.
Energy surged through him. He ran. Through the trees, faster and faster, dodging trunks, leaping over deadfall. Deer skittered ahead of him through the dappled silver. He suddenly came to a wall and stopped. It was a very high wall—probably twice his height.
The ground sloped down toward it, making it higher still at its base.
The city lay beyond the wall. Running a few miles more would take him there.
He imagined the city, the streets, before him. He could sprint though them, seek more seductive objectives; find more exciting pursuits than hunting and killing hares and deer.
He could make it. He could leap onto the wall.
He stepped back and took a run. Jumping from a few feet out, he hit the smooth stone with one foot, bounced off that and stretched his hand out. Grabbing the top edge, he easily pulled himself up. He stood on the wall, grinning triumphantly. He was free. He’d escaped the prison that sought to encircle him, to bind his life inside.
He readied himself to drop onto the narrow road running along the outside of the wall, then looked back, as if to say goodbye. As he turned, however, he noticed another figure standing on the wall, not ten feet away.
“Get down from the wall, Patrick,” the other man said.
A thought flashed through Patrick’s mind—that he could attack. He instantly rose up on the balls of his feet and tensed his muscles. He could pounce, like he’d pounced on the hare. Two quick steps along the top of the wall, a powerful leap through the air with a twist, and he’d land his feet on the other man’s chest: kick him clean off the wall.
The voice in his brain told him to go ahead.
But the thought disappeared just as quickly. He had no real fear of the man, but he did have knowledge of his ability; his fitness, his prowess. He was not big. He was, on the contrary, deceptively small. The body contained a power difficult to comprehend. This man would react faster than the hare had. And he was ready for Patrick, prepared for an attack. Though older—more than twice Patrick’s age—he was yet in his prime. He had leapt onto the wall just as easily as Patrick had himself; more so, since he’d not made a sound. The fight that would ensue from any aggression would leave both of them badly injured, and Patrick perhaps maimed.
“Which side?” Patrick asked.
“Whichever you want. If you get down on the same side you got up, you can walk back to the house. If you get down on the other side, I’ll have to carry you. You’ll have two broken legs. And you won’t be out catching rabbits tomorrow night.”
His tone was not angry, nor even very menacing. But the matter-of-factness chilled Patrick even more than an overt threat. Or fury.
Patrick knew he could not fight the older man. However, he could, perhaps, run. Maybe he could outpace him, flee to the city.
But the other man would catch him. Before Patrick had gone a mile, he’d have reached him, and he’d drag Patrick back. And yes, he’d have broken legs when they arrived.
Patrick heard a woman’s voice, then. Hearing it made his mind up for him. “Don’t hurt him, Paul,” it said.
The woman who spoke knew the threat the other man, Paul, held.
Patrick stood down from the balls of his feet, relaxed his muscles and bowed his head in defeat. “Okay, Dad.” He nodded, then stepped off the wall and lightly dropped to the grass beneath.
The woman stood off under the trees. Patrick could just see her in the shadow, her long hair and full figure. Her hands rested on her hips, as if cross; unwilling to put up with this behaviour.
She had positioned herself far enough away that she’d be out of view of any fight, but easily within earshot in the calm, quiet night. She also didn’t want to see Patrick’s naked form, he assumed. He didn’t want her to see, either. There was a time when he’d been perfectly comfortable with her seeing him naked, the same as he’d seen her.
It still felt natural to be naked. Just not within her view.
“Run up to the house now, and have a drink, Patrick,” she said. “There’s a pitcher of beer on the porch.”
Patrick nodded. “Thanks, Mum.” He started jogging off under the trees.
“There’s a pair of shorts there, too, if you want to put them on,” she called after him.
He halted. “Why?” His father was as naked as he.
“Practice, Patrick; practice.”
Website & Blog: https://davidjmobrien.wordpress.com
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/David-J.-OBrien/e/B00M60M6Y0
Tirgearr Publishing: http://tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/OBrien_David/leading-the-pack.htm
Ed. Note: You’ll notice I placed the publisher’s buy link first. That’s because authors receive 40-50% of the book price from the publisher. Editors and cover artists receive 5-10%. When you buy a book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or another third-party vendor, they take a hefty cut and the author, editors and cover artists receive their royalties from what is left. So, if a book costs $5.99 at E-BookPublisher.com and you buy from there, the author will receive about $2.40. If you buy the book at Amazon, the author will receive about $0.83.
When you buy directly from the publisher, you download the book onto your computer as a mobi, prc, e-pub, pdf, or html file. You can download your books onto your computer using “Save As” to a “Books” folder you create and sort them into sub-folders by genre, author, or however you wish before transferring them to your e-reader. That way, if there’s a glitch with your e-reader, the books are on your computer. My publisher gives you each book in all available formats. I suggest downloading all of them. You never know when something may happen to your e-reader and it will be replaced by one that uses a different format. If you’ve downloaded all formats, you won’t need to buy another copy—you’ll already have a compatible copy in your Books folder.
Downloading the file from your computer to your e-reader is as easy as transferring a file from your computer to a USB flash drive. Once you’ve saved the book to your computer plug the larger USB end of your e-reader’s power chord into a USB port on your computer and simply move the file from the folder you created on your computer to your e-reader’s “Documents/Books” directory. Voila! Happy reading!
Sunday, March 12, 2017
Nora Bradford of “Heating it Up” by Elizabeth Harmon @romanzwrter_grl #ContemporaryRomance #RedHotRussians #Giveaway
San Francisco architect Nora Bradford came to Antarctica as an associate with one of the world’s top firms specializing in environmentally friendly architecture. Nora is the lead designer of Glacier Ridge Lodge, a new luxurious, sustainable guest house at the Amity Bay Antarctica research station, and she’s poured her heart and soul into the project. After losing her beloved fiancé in a diving accident two years before, it’s all she has left. But when the promotion she was promised goes to someone else, and her angry confrontation with her boss gets her fired, Nora decides to remain behind to spend the winter alone in Antarctica. She never expects that Amity Bay’s handsome station manager Alexei Zaikov will show up at her door, determined to bring her in from the cold.
RW: What’s your story/back story? Why would someone come up with a story about you?
NB: Until recently, I was the most normal, stable person you’d ever want to meet. I grew up in a military family. My father was a colonel in the Air Force and we lived all over the world. I was a good student, loved art, and never caused trouble. I graduated from Stanford, was hired by one of the top firms in my field, and was engaged to marry the man I loved. I did everything that was expected of me, but life isn’t fair, and I lost all of it; my fiancé, my career, my dreams. All gone. I guess there’s a story in that, though not one I ever wanted to be part of.
RW: Can you tell us about your hero?
NB: For so long, the only man who mattered to me was my fiancé, Blake. We met in college, and were engaged by the end of grad school. Three months before our wedding, he drowned. In the two years since, I didn’t think I would ever be attracted to another man. And then I came to Antarctica and met Alexei Zaikov. He’s big, blond and handsome—the rugged, outdoorsy type that’s any woman’s dream. But he’s also gentle and caring. That’s what I like most about him.
RW: What problems do you have to face and overcome in your life?
NB: Right now, there’s a bit of confusion between Alexei and me. Actually between me and everyone at Amity Bay. You see, Glacier Ridge Lodge was built to replace the station, which is slated to be shut down this year. It’s heartbreaking for the people who call Amity Bay home, and not surprisingly, they resent the lodge. The problem is that they don’t know I designed it. They think I’m my jerky ex-boss’s secretary and that I was fired because I intervened when he chewing out one of the Amity Bay workers. They’ve welcomed me into their community. If the truth comes out, they’ll hate me. Not only do I feel horrible about keeping this from them, I feel horrible that my building is going spell the end of Amity Bay.
RW: Do you expect your hero to help or is he the problem?
NB: Unfortunately, Alexi is only making it harder. He’s shown me so much kindness, and is willing to take our relationship slowly, because he understands that I’m still getting over Blake’s loss. I hate keeping this secret from him, especially because he was hurt by some woman back in Russia who cheated on him. He wants to trust me, but I think he senses I’m not being totally honest with him.
RW: Where do you live?
NB: Nowhere, at the moment. San Francisco was part of my life with Blake, but living there without him is just sad. Glacier Ridge Lodge is lovely, but it’s not a home either. As crazy as this sounds, if I could live anywhere, it would be in Amity Bay, Antarctica. It’s a warm-hearted little town in the middle of this vast, mysterious and beautiful wilderness, and it’s the first place I’ve felt at home in a really long time.
RW: During what time period does your story take place?
NB: Present day, in late April, which is the start of wintertime in Antarctica.
RW: How are you coping with the conflict in your life?
NB: (Laughs) Not too well! I’m a mess, because I’ve come up with an idea for how to save Amity Bay, and I know it can work! I learned so much on the Glacier Ridge Lodge project, I know I can lead this. But to put the plan in motion, I have to tell everyone that I’m not a secretary, but the evil genius responsible for the building that’s destroying their community. If I tell the truth, will they hate me? Will I lose Alexei?
To say I’m nervous about coming clean would be an understatement.
RW: Those are all the questions we have for you. Thank you for speaking to us.
NB: Thank you.
Meet Elizabeth Harmon
A graduate of the University of Illinois, she has worked in advertising, community journalism and as a freelance magazine writer. She feels incredibly blessed to have a career that allows her to spend her days imagining “what if?” and a loving family that keeps her grounded in the real world. Her debut novel, Pairing Off is a 2016 RITA Award Finalist.
An adventurous cook, vintage home enthusiast, occasional actress, and entry-level figure skater, Elizabeth makes her home in the Midwest, where life is good, but the sports teams aren’t. She loves to hang out on her front porch, or at her favorite local establishments, enjoy good food and wine, and talk writing with anyone who will listen.
Heating It Up
A Tad More Plot
In Heating It Up, a heart-warming novel of mistaken identity and forced proximity, widow Nora Bradford and Russian adventurer Alexei Zaikov must work together to save their small Antarctic town from being shut down—but will the truth about Nora’s role in Amity Bay’s demise, doom their romance?
Slowly, Nora crawled from beneath the bed, then sat with her back against the wall, too stunned to go any further. She was alone. A squatter in Antarctica. Well, she’d wanted to break some rules. Do something rash. Here was her chance. She might even make history. Assuming she survived.
The thought made her laugh, but as her laughter sputtered to an end, the oppressive silence of the huge empty lodge settled all around. She buried her head in her hands. Oh my God, what have I done?
The answer was the creak of footsteps on the stairs.
Nora gasped and swallowed. Her heart raced and moisture oiled her palms. She called out in a trembling voice. “Herbert? Mark? Is that you?”
Without waiting for an answer, she raced from the room. They were still here! It wasn’t too late! She could put this ridiculous scheme behind her, and go back to San Francisco like a sane person. Thank God!
“Hello! Hello! It’s Nora! I changed my mind! I’m coming with you!”
No one was on the stairs, or in the lobby. Shit! They must have gone outside. She could still catch them, if she hurried. She dashed across the lobby, slipping in her socks on the polished wood floor.
“Wait! Don’t leave without me!”
Nora burst out the front door, and onto the veranda. A blast of frigid wind sliced through her sweater and stopped her in her tracks.
She stared down at the bay. Night was falling. And the yacht was gone.
Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23440537-elizabeth-harmon
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00RY9SY0S
Heating It Up is Available at:
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