Hump Day Kick Start – The Note Edition

June 21, 2017

Hump Day Kick Start – for your muse, a writing picture prompt, or just a visual treat.

Now here’s a story.

For today’s prompt, who is the author of this note? Who is the note about? Could this be between jilted young lovers? Wayward hellion son angry with his demonic mother from the netherworld? Twin sisters in constant competition with each other? Why had the note been written? Was one denied love? Maybe committed a crime or unthinkable betrayal? Left someone behind without remorse? Didn’t share their chocolate bar?

What’s your take? I’d love to hear it. Or just caption the pic.


Link of the Week – Amazon’s Buy Button (and it sucks)

June 20, 2017

So Amazon has quietly made more changes in the selling of books. One that seems to benefit everyone but the author. Third-party sellers can now “win” the Buy Box. What does that mean? It means this seller would be listed as the default for the Buy Button. It means that these third-party

Book Burn Open Knowledge Hot Fire Paper Old

sellers can mark books down to whatever price they want (so long as the meet some Amazon criteria…haha).  It also means that slices into any profit the author MIGHT make. I say might because there are various ways these third-party sellers can get their hands on “new” copies that would cut the author completely out of the sale. And it could mean that potential customers may only have a third-party seller as a choice to buy from.

This went into effect back in March and a buzz about it was made last month, but it has only been recently that authors have noticed and/or felt the pinch.

To read more about it, check out the links below to articles from Publisher’s Weekly and Huffington Post (with visuals). Definitely worth the read.

https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/bookselling/article/73542-new-amazon-buy-button-program-draws-ire-of-publishers-authors.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/590b309be4b05279d4edc31f


Hump Day Kick Start – Writing Prompt #12

June 14, 2017

 

Writing prompts to kick start your muse.

If that isn’t a story, I don’t know what is. Who is the customer? What does the artist think of him? Is he friendly? Quiet? What does he look like? Burly and threatening? Wiry and creepy? Super cute and wearing a biker jacket/football jersey/tailored suit? Is she curious? Maybe scared? And just what do the tally marks represent?

Share your ideas and/or post your creations, even if it’s just a line or two. I’d love to hear them.

 


Hump Day Kick Start – Sketching Edition

June 7, 2017

Hump Day Kick Start – for your muse, a writing picture prompt, or just a visual treat.

Getting creative for today’s picture writing prompt. Yeah, bad pun, I know.

So what’s up with these two? Who are they and what’s going on? Is she a tourist in a foreign country and he the local virtuoso not letting the language barrier come between them?  Maybe she’s an art teacher and he is her pupil. What is that expression on her face? Could she be contemplating a mistake? Thinking of how he could be somebody and she’s holding him back? Deliberating letting him go? What if there was something darker at stake here. Are they criminals on their downtime? Perhaps they are involved in espionage and he’s sketching out an escape plan. Suppose she is a succubus and her unwitting lover who helps keep her immortal black soul youthful. Hey, it could happen…

Your turn. Tell me a tale or caption the pic.

 


Friday Fun Facts- It’s Summer!!

June 2, 2017

The weather has heated up. Schools are letting out. Life is a beach.summer-fun

But, do you really know summer? Check out these tid-bits-

  1. The phrase ‘the dog days of summer’ has to do with the stars and not about sweltering heat. The dog star Sirius begins its rise just before the sun towards the end of July. The Romans believed the extra light gave off more heat heat to the sun and was responsible for the super hot days.
  2. More thunderstorms occur during summer than at any other time. It’s all that extra heat and moisture! Believe it or not, the most occur in the south of England. Hmmmm
  3. New York has a cool thing going on! Owing to the city’s design on a grid rotated 29 ° clockwise from true east-west, twice a year the sun sets directly at the end of the many New York’s major streets to create a spectacular sunset. The sun is slightly above the horizon and nestled between the rows of buildings.170px-Manhattanhenge2_rotated+sharpened
  4. The first modern Olympic games were held in the summer of 1896 in Athens.
  5. The last day of summer is September 20th.
  6. The iconic Eiffel Tower in Paris grows every summer. With the heat, the metal expands and it grows up to 6 inches!
  7. The Roman general, Marc Anthony, named the month July after Julius Caesar.0rxCw229
  8. August was named after Julius Caesar’s nephew. He had received the title of “Augustus” which means “reverend”.
  9. Ice pops were invented by an 11 year old boy in 1905! THANK YOU!
  10. The first women’s bathing suit was created in the 1800’s. It had a pair of bloomers with it! ACK!!!history-womens-swimwear-1800s
  11. Swimming nude used to be the norm. In ancient days, clothes were definitely pitched to the side. However, in the 17th century, laws were put into place about decent swimming attire…and nude wasn’t it!
  12. Watermelons are a vegetable! Who knew?!? It is a member of the squash, cucumber, and pumpkin family. Americans eat around 15 lbs. per year.
  13. In the United States, over 650 million long distance summer trips are made. Let’s hit the road!!
  14. Scientist argue that babies born in the summer will suffer from more mood swings than babies born at other times. Really?shutterstock_464300804-776x600
  15. Jenn and I hope you have a terrific summer filled with lots of laughter and fun…and that’s a fact!images (1)

Hump Day Kick Start – Writing Prompt #11

May 31, 2017

Writing prompts to kick start your muse.

This can be scary or funny. What do you make of today’s prompt? Who is this? Who are they speaking to? Why are they wanted dead? Is this an evil demon/vampire/stepmother bent on destruction facing down an outmatched hero/heroine armed with a demon blaster/wooden stake/holy water? A spiteful ex-lover with nothing to lose? The soulless clerk that works at the DMV?

Share your ideas and/or post your creations, even if it’s just a line or two. I’d love to hear them.


The Laird’s Reckoning – Release Day!

May 30, 2017

Huzzah! Today is the day. Pirates and Highlanders everywhere are rejoicing! It’s release day for The Laird’s Reckoning. Just in time for summer reading. Join the crew and grab your copy at Amazon, mates.

 

Pirate or Laird…?

Birk Bane was born the second son, the unwanted son, the unneeded son. Crossed by family and falsely accused of a crime, he flees Scotland to the sea where he’s recruited by a pirate. Five years later, he’s captain of his own ship and embraces his new life, though an ache for the woman he left behind remains. When he receives word of his father’s death and his clan is floundering, Birk begrudgingly returns home. Little does he know there’s more he left behind than a title…much more.

Sheena MacRae helped Birk escape to safety years ago, always expecting he’d return. Time passes and she believes him to be dead. With her clan being terrorized and slaughtered, she accepts she is the only one who can stop the suffering by agreeing to marry Laird Gordon, the man behind the assaults. The man who is also poised to rule Birk’s clan. Despite the crushing need to hold Birk in her arms once more, his reappearance changes nothing. Sheena has too much to lose if she reneges the betrothal to Gordon. And while Birk’s intentions are to return to the sea after reclaiming his clan, she didn’t count on her pirate lover’s plan for revenge…

The longer he’s home, the more betrayal Birk uncovers. There will be a fiery battle ahead for Birk and his brethren. If he survives, how will he choose between the life he loves and the love of his life?

Enjoy this excerpt:

1726, Tradale Port, Isle of Skye, Scotland

“They’re coming!”

The panic in Sheena’s eyes matched Birk’s racing heart. Their breaths stirred the dust they had kicked up crouching behind the crates. Shouts carried down the alleys, drawing closer.

Sheena gripped his arms. “Go!” Her pleading command rushed out in a hoarse whisper. “Run, before they catch you.”

“Come with me.” It was a desperate attempt to keep Sheena by his side, a selfish one. But he was no fool. If the magistrate found out she helped him escape, his bonny lass would be imprisoned. He couldn’t protect her if he left her behind.

She shook her head, mahogany tresses slipping free from the knot at her crown. “I canna leave my father and Mallabroch Manor.” Gruff voices neared. Her eyes widened, begged. “Please, Birk. If ye are hanged, I’ll kill myself, I swear I will.”

He believed it. By the heavens, he loved his lass. Loved her more than anything this world had to offer. He’d give his life for her. But never would he allow her to give hers for him. Never. “I canna leave you.” He could hardly swallow, the lump of fear wedged tight in his throat. She was his air, the beat of his heart. He was terrified to be without her. Terrified and angry. Angry for the pain marring her beautiful effervescent smile. He swore whoever set him up, accused him of being a false coiner, would pay and pay dearly.

“Ye must go.” She grabbed his face with both hands. “Ye must. For me.”

The tears cresting in those moss green eyes, the tremble in her bottom lip, tore at his soul. What choice did he have? Sheena would not leave her father, her home. This he knew. Her love and loyalty for her da was fierce. Could he really expect her to leave Ramsay, the laird of Mallabroch, alone, as ill as he was? Would he be able to protect her any better on the lam? No. He had no choice. She was a mighty one. She’d be fine, if only he’d let her go. Let her go and run. Damn it, he never ran from anything. He tucked a wayward lock behind her ear. “For you,” he repeated.

A shaky smile accompanied her gusty breath of relief. “I love you, Birk.”

“And I you. More than the moon and stars.” He pressed a kiss to her mouth. “I will clear my name,” he vowed against her lips. “I will come back for you.”

Birk gripped the back of her neck and she deepened the kiss. For a moment, he lost himself with her. The accusations, the magistrate’s guard closing in, his damaged, jaded world faded into the light, musky, floral scent of heather and urgent caress of her lips.

“This way!” The strident shout broke the haze, yanking him back to the present.

“Promise me.” She choked on the words.

Footfalls pounded against the packed dirt.

He could take no more of her agony. Aye. He would see the man who framed him dead. “I promise, mo teine, my fire. I will return for you.”

“Back here! This way!”

Tears streamed down her creamy, flushed cheeks. She nodded once. Without a word, she spun to stand, ready to face the men chasing after him.

Birk took off at a run, dodging barrels and crates, cutting around the buildings on the leading edge the rest of the way through the town to the docks. Behind him, he heard her shrill scream. He pushed hard against the urge to hasten back to her. He had to believe she would be all right. She was a hellcat when provoked. Sheena would be fine. She had to be.

He jumped over a pile of ropes and looped through stacks of lumber. The stench of timber and pitch mixed with brine. Off to the left, a carpenter hammered, the thudding so familiar. Ahead, several stevedores unloaded cargo from a ship. Birk hadn’t thought beyond fleeing the cell which Sheena unlocked. He hadn’t thought to where he’d go. But Sheena had. He was to flee to the only place he’d known—his father’s shipyard. Now as he skidded to a stop in the middle of the yard, realization struck. He had trapped himself between the town and the men coming for him and the sea. Bloody hell. Aye, there was a boat waiting for him somewhere, but would he reach it in time?

Sheena’s plan. Take a skiff across the Sound of Sleat to the mainland. Find a horse in Mallabroch and disappear. It was his only option, though he would rather have her by his side. Running from all the injustices their young lives had suffered, together.

Birk slunk through the maze of planks, boxes, casks, and tools, weaving through the scaffolding beneath the hull of a brigantine. He set his sights to the end of the docks where fishermen cast out in their skiffs. Just as he cleared the last support beam, he came face to face with his father.

Bewilderment flashed across his haggard face but was soon replaced with a flare of venom.

Birk slid his gaze past his father to his cousin rounding the other side of the scaffolding and coming up short. Cam slowly took a step back, as if he hoped not to become entangled in a confrontation.

“Birk.” A sneer crooked his father’s mouth. “Let ye out, did they?” His tone belied he knew the better.

Shouts traveled through the shipyard. His pursuers were nearly upon him.

“Hmph.” The old man lifted his chin and sneered down his nose. “Suppose not.”

“I didna do it, Father.” Speaking truths, hell, speaking at all was lost on the man.

Since birth, Hugh Bane, laird of Creaganbroch Manor, the village of Tradale, and the surrounding lands, had shunned his youngest son—the weak, sickly child who wasn’t expected to live. But his mother refused to accept her little bairn could not grow happy and healthy. Through her love and nurturing, never leaving his side, Birk survived the infant months to become the favorite of her three sons. That didn’t change as he grew a few years older. Hugh had become resentful, claiming his wife mollycoddled Birk. He’d force Birk into harsh labor around the yard, harsher than he should have for a boy his age. This but angered his mother and many fights were waged over Birk. Until his mother fell ill with fever. Upon her final breaths, it wasn’t Hugh she called for, but Birk. And Birk had suffered for it ever since.

Except that he didn’t. He hadn’t let the old man get the better of him. Not after the last time he took a backhand across his face at the age of fifteen.

“Didna do it?” Hugh spat. “’Tis your fault I’ve buried James. Ye and your goddamned defiance.”

And there it was. The blame he’d been burdened with and the guilt that his father was right this time. But that was his cross to bear and he’d be damned to let the old man lay one more thing at his feet. He’d be damned to give him any such satisfaction.

A wicked grin crooked one side of Cam’s mouth. One day, Birk would bloody up that idiot’s face, the toady.

“I didna kill James.”

“Ye did, and ye sullied the Bane name with your thievery.” Hugh, quick as a viper, snatched Birk’s arm. “Cam.”

“Yes, uncle?”

His father’s expression hardened. “Alert the authorities in the yard,” he leaned within an inch of Birk’s face, his eyes darkened with hate, “we have the bastard here.”

Birk had never gotten along with his cousin, but something about the toothy grin splitting Cam’s face didn’t set right with him. ’Twas more than Birk facing certain death at the end of a rope. ’Twas something…triumphant. Cam spun on his heel toward the approaching men.

“May ye rot in hell,” Hugh spewed.

Birk wrenched his arm free and leaned in even further, a hair’s breadth from the man. “Ye first.”

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Fair winds and following seas and a full mug o’ rum!