Monday, April 30, 2012

Giveaway and Guest Post with author Sherri Hayes and her book Slave (Finding Anna Book 1)

Happy Monday Everyone!!  Today I have with me author Sherri Hayes.  She is going to give us an in depth look into the creation of Brianna, or Anna for short. Then we will take a look at the book itself as a whole.  It was quite a unique read.  Take it away Sherri:


The Creation of Anna

For your blog followers who are not familiar with my Finding Anna series, Brianna, or Anna as she used to be called, is the female protagonist. In the first book, Slave, we find a broken shell of a young woman. She has been held captive as a slave for the last ten months and no longer has any identity except that of being someone else’s property.

Given the emotional subject matter, you may be wondering where the character Anna came from. The first ideas for this series began with news coverage of the Jaycee Dugard story. The young woman, now in her late twenties, had been held by a man for the last 18 years of her life before she escaped. It was a powerful story and a reminder that this type of thing can really happen to anyone. Shortly after that, news outlets began diving into the world of human trafficking. It seemed like every time I turned the news on they were talking about it.

With all this coverage, the wheels in my head began to turn. I wanted to create a character who’d been through this type of situation. From there, I had to figure how she would get out? Who would rescue her? How would she be both physically and mentally? How would she act? Talk? Be around people? Every detail of her backstory would shape the person she was both at the start of the series and going forward. I had to know everything that lead up to her being a slave, as well as what happened during. All of our experiences make us who we are today. Characters are no different.

The big twist in this tale is the BDSM element. I didn’t want to explore a traditional means of helping Brianna find herself again. I wanted something different.

Slave, Finding Anna Book 1, introduces the readers to Brianna and Stephan. Given the subject matter, this is not a traditional romance book. It is one that will pull on your heartstrings and make you want to hug Brianna and assure her everything will be okay. The series will follow Stephan and Brianna through her journey of healing and finding love. It will not be easy, but the things worth fighting for rarely are.
Let's take a look at the book itself.  I personally throughly enjoyed it.  My review is here: http://closeencounterswiththenightkind.blogspot.com/2012/04/review-slave-finding-anna-book-1-by.html


 Stephan has lived the lifestyle of a Dominant for five years. After several rebellious teenage years, it gave him the stability and control he had been seeking after his parent’s death.

As president of a not-for-profit foundation, he knows what his future holds and what he wants out of life. All that changes when a simple lunch with his college friend and Mentor, Darren, leads him to buying a slave.

Thrust into a situation he never thought he’d be in, Stephan can’t walk away. He is compelled to help this girl in the only way he knows how.

Brianna knows only one thing, she is a slave. She has nothing. She is nothing.

Can Stephan help Brianna realize that she is much more than just a Slave?
A big thank you to Sherri for coming on today!!  For chance to win a copy, just fill out the rafflecopter!!

Review: SLAVE (Finding Anna Book 1) By Sherri Hayes


Stephan has lived the lifestyle of a Dominant for five years. After several rebellious teenage years, it gave him the stability and control he had been seeking after his parent’s death.

As president of a not-for-profit foundation, he knows what his future holds and what he wants out of life. All that changes when a simple lunch with his college friend and Mentor, Darren, leads him to buying a slave.

Thrust into a situation he never thought he’d be in, Stephan can’t walk away. He is compelled to help this girl in the only way he knows how.

Brianna knows only one thing, she is a slave. She has nothing. She is nothing.

Can Stephan help Brianna realize that she is much more than just a Slave?


My Review:

I've always been fascinated by books that include glimpses into the lifestyle.  It has a very intriguing and seductive pull, as many fellow readers will agree.  But this book is a little different.  It shows the darker side of BDSM and how some people don't choose the lifestyle, it's chosen for them.  Brianna has known nothing but fear for the last 10 months.  She has buried everything in the back of her mind about her life before and does nothing but focus on doing what she is told and making her master happy.  But when she is sold a new fear begins to take hold.  What could this man possibly want from someone like her? 

Stephan has taken a bit of break from the lifestyle, not because of lack of offers, but lack of interest.  He is picky about his subs and isn't into sharing them will anyone.  He loved being a Dom, but was a one sub kind of guy.  When he receives a phone call from one of his old college buddies who is also in the lifestyle, they agree to meet for lunch because Daren needs to discuss something with Stephan.  But what Daren has to say shocks Stephan into taking action.  The lifestyle isn't for everyone.  How could someone be forced into it?

Even before seeing Brianna, Stephan has decided to help her.  Knowing what horrors were possible from a Dom who misuses his power, he hurriedly arranges a meeting to pose as a prospective buyer.  After seeing Brianna first hand, its obvious she isn't a willing participant, but has been broken, severely.  Stephan plays along with the facade and purchases the poor girl.  But Brianna is well beyond the point of being able to function without help.  It will take a lot of work to get to the bottom of who this girl really is and what happened.  But in the end, who is the master and who is the slave?  This was an unusual read for me but it was remarkably well written and definitely page turning.  The story shifts back and forth between Stephan's and Brianna's POV, so you get to see whats really going on in the characters head. It really is something to read about someone having their individuality and humanity stripped from them.  I can't begin to imagine a worst fate.  Excellent read!!




Review: Socialpunk By Monica Leonelle


Ima would give anything to escape The Dome and learn what’s beyond its barriers, but the Chicago government has kept all its citizens on lockdown ever since the Scorched Years left most of the world a desert wasteland. When a mysterious group of hooded figures enters the city unexpectedly, Ima uncovers a plot to destroy The Dome and is given the choice between escaping to a new, dangerous city or staying behind and fighting a battle she can never win.

My Review:

Wow. This was definitely a different type of book with a very unique storyline.  We begin our adventure with  two pretty troubled teens.  Ima as a horribly abusive father and a mother who just blends into the background and ignores everything.  She pretty much tops out on the I have a suck-a** life list...hands down.  Her best and only friend, Dash is her neighbor next door.  She would crawl through the connecting air-conditioning vents to visit with him when her father got to out of control.  Ima has been in love with him all of her life but Dash holds her at arms length and doesn't reciprocate the feelings.  Ima has panic attacks and social anxiety to top off all of this. But everything Ima thought she knew is just about to change.

Sneaking off to a concert with Dash was the most gutsy thing Ima had tried yet.  She made Dash buy her a new outfit so she would fit in and was super excited to get to spend some alone time with him outside of his bedroom.  It was a purely selfish pleasure she hoped to indulge in.  But her father discovers her missing and begins searching for her.  He has managed to ruin everything in her life, why would today be any different?  But through shear luck, Dash and Ima make it to the concert.  On the train Ima happens to bump into a man wearing a hoodie.  He is surrounded by several other men in hoodies.  Ima stands transfixed as she catches his eyes.  The spell is broken by Dash pulling her to the other end of the train.  Who knew in that one moment a split second decision was made to save her life?

Ima's whole life was a lie.  The men in the hoodies were there to destroy her world and one would introduce her to another world beyond her imaginings.  This was a completely fascinating read.  It had the sci-fi geek inside me jumping up and down with joy.  It was extremely hard to put down once I started but very easy to follow.  There are many layers to this story and a few are revealed in the first book.  I would definitely love to continue the series.  This adventure had quite an addicting charm!!
Monica is also hosting giveaways!!  Feel free to enter!!!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Giveaway of Book 3: Carnal Denial



Happy Sunday Everyone!!  What better way to celebrate than to give away an awesome book?  This is the last book in the Carnality Series.  Let's take a look:



BLURB:


Game on.


 

Another lamb for the feast. Not likely. Jezebel knows that taking a bite out of the virgin bait the demon slayers have tossed into the club is a bad idea. But there’s also more than one way to skin a proverbial cat, or in this instance, pop a slayer’s cherry before she causes any problems. There’s nothing in the succubus rule book that says Jezebel has to play fair. After all, she need only suggest. What the slayer does with the nudge is up to her.


 


Check mate.




 

EXCERPT:


She adjusted her top again, strode up to the door, and tugged it open, only to walk head on into a tall drink of bouncer. She tipped her head back and gasped. Wow, evil sure looked good these days. No wonder they did so well in there.



 
“ID,” he said, giving her a thorough head-to-toe appraisal.


Cass handed him her driver’s license. “I’m not here to drink. I’m looking for a job.” She gave him a crooked smile, certain she looked more like an escaped mental patient than a woman trying to flirt her way into working in the place.


He glanced down at her ID. “Cassidy, not much of a stage name. The boss privately interviews all the dancers. He won’t be in for another hour.”


“Oh, I don’t want to strip—exotic dance. I’m not that kind of girl.”


The bouncer stared at her with eyes that made her want to take her clothes off and be that kind of girl. Her body began to buzz under his gaze. A toothpick in his mouth twitched, the only indication he wasn’t a statue.



 
“I want to tend bar,” she stuttered. “I make a mean Screaming Orgasm. I’m really good at it—making drinks that is.”



He eyed her double Ds and a smile curled one side of his mouth. “I’ll bet you are.”



BUY LINK:


 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

D. L. Jackson is a writer of urban fantasy, science fiction, military romance and erotic romance. She loves to incorporate crazy plot twists, comedy and the unexpected into her worlds. As a U.S. Army veteran, she naturally adores men in uniform and feels the world could always use more. She does her part by incorporating as many sexy soldiers in her novels as she can. When she isn't writing or running the roads, you can often find her online chatting with her peers and readers. Grab a cup of iced coffee, pull up your virtual chair and say hi. She loves emails and blog visits from her readers. Visit her at http://authordljackson.com.



Winners!!!!


WOW!!  We have a lot of winners to announce today!!!  I didn't realize it, so let's dive in!!!


And the winner is MJB booklover!!


And the Winner is...Barbara Battaglia!!!


And the winner is...April Alvey!!



And my winner is.....Dianna Breeden-Wallis!!


And the winner is.... Joanne Balinski!!


There are 2 winners here...Debi Anne won the print versions and Evelyn Moly the e-book!!



 
And the Winner is ....Na!!!


And the Winner is... Linda Thum!!



And the winner is...Laurie Facchini!!!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Giveaway and Name that Detective Chance with Regan Black

Good Morning CEWTNK!!  Today I have the lovely Regan Black on to tempt you with many goodies and a chance to name the Detective in her next book The Matchmakers Curse!!!  Isn't that exciting?  Sadly, I cannot participate and in fact have allowed Regan to take over the post so she can explain the details.  Take it away Regan!!!


Name That Detective by Regan Black

Hi everyone! It’s paranormal romance author Regan Black again! Thanks so much to Nikki for having me back here today. I need a favor!

In the Matchmaker’s Mark, we meet Maeve King, best friend of the new matchmaker.

In book 2, The Matchmaker’s Curse, Maeve has to call the police because an intruder vandalized her bed. Yikes! Naturally, that means a supporting character in the way of a detective – but he needs a NAME! Can anyone help me, please?

Her bed was shredded. There was no other word for it. The absolute chaos had her gut churning. Not with fear, but with something less familiar; something murky she couldn’t identify beyond instinct that warned of unwelcome risk.

The detective looked at her with a bit too much sympathy. “It might be best if you stayed with a friend or found a hotel for a few nights.”

“That can’t be necessary, Detective [last name].”

“Call me [first name].”

She smiled through the stress. “If I agree to leave the room alone?”

His knowing expression was softened by pity. “Afraid not. They’ll clear the scene in a few days.

“Ms. King, can you think of anyone holding a grudge against you? An ex-boyfriend, maybe a disgruntled student?”

“No on all counts. I’m not dating anyone seriously.” An image of Grant’s face flashed inexplicably into her head. “Haven’t for some time.”

“That mess in there looks like someone has had plenty of time to build up some anger.”

“My last steady boyfriend died just before our college graduation.”

“Oh.” The detective cleared his throat. “I’m sorry. And the roses are from?”

“Last night was Valentine’s Day. I had a date.”

“That bouquet looks like he shelled out some pretty serious cash.”

“He did. The evening didn’t end well, but I’m certain he isn’t responsible for that.”

“Why?”

“Because he’s a well-mannered colleague of mine at the college. Dr. Benjamin Wright.” Her gaze drifted back to the bedroom while [name] wrote that down. “That sort of tantrum is beneath him. I was just an infatuation. He doesn’t really care about me enough to destroy my bed.”

“Mm-hmm.”

“Detective, tossing around money is easy when you have plenty of it. Destructive behavior like this requires passion and intensity. It’s messy.”

“I thought you taught English.”

“That’s right.” She smiled. “You’d be surprised what literature can teach you about the human condition. Besides, Ben would never crawl through a window.”



So can you help me name the detective for my next lighthearted paranormal romance, The Matchmaker’s Curse? Leave your suggestions as a comment below and the winner will get a copy of the new ebook when it’s released (in May) plus a bonus swag package!





 Good Luck everyone!!!  The prizes look awesome!!  I can't wait to hear your suggestions as well!!!


Review: The Ruins of Noe

 
 
 
Blurb:
 
A child born with no destiny: one of many signs that the White Forest faeries had lost touch with the Ethereals, the Ancient Ones. High Priestess Ondelle is convinced by an old proverb that one faerie is fated to travel to the former home of the Ancients, the Ruins of Noe, to find the answer. That faerie, she believes, is Brigitta. Ondelle and Brigitta set off to save their forest once again, but when they arrive in Noe they discover something they never learned from any faerie tale. Why had this dark secret been kept from them? Why in the name of Faweh had the Ancients left some faeries behind?
My Review:

This is the second book in this series, and even though I have not read the first book I had no trouble following along in the story.  Even though after reading this book, I must confess I will be.  Welcome to the extraordinary world of elemental fairies.  It is wonderfully complex and absolutely stunning.  Brigitta is a young fairy who is torn in her feelings about her destiny marks.  She was thrust into a major event in the first book, that helped prepare her for the trails that lay ahead in this one.  She is summoned by her high priestess on the eve of her sisters unveiling.  She is lead into the inner sanctum to a become privy to a recent set of concerns that have become a major issue among the elders.  It seems that Brigitta is part of a prophecy that must be fulfilled.  She is must embark on another quest and bring back that which has been lost to them.  The fate of all of the fairies of the realm is tied to the success of her endeavor.

Brigitta sets off once again to save her people from an unknown foe.  She has started advanced training with the Elders and sets off to perfect her new-found skills through practice.   But things don't go well from the onset of the journey. Noe is a place where everything is the exact opposite of her homeland.  The people are constantly at war.  The vegetation is carnivorous, the beasts that roam the land and horrid and dangerous, and there are dark forces constantly plotting against everyone.  Add that to the many secrets that are guarded and you find yourself in one dark place.  Brigitta and Ondelle are soon captured and held at the mercy of the evil queen Mabb.

Brigitta has many decisions she has to make through-out her journey in Noe. It seems almost like this journey is training her to face something worse in the future.  Let's hope not.  This story was amazing and the world itself was well imagined and incredibly creative.  This book will take you on an amazing journey through the growth of a very lovable and unassuming character.  Brigitta is more than what she seems and I believe will continue to grow and surprise everyone in her world.  Especially with the newest additions that has returned with her.  When they are together, flowers seem to brighten in color.  It was a fantastic story and I highly recommend it!!!




Friday, April 27, 2012

Review: A Wild Night's Bride By Victoria Vane


WITH THE DEVIL IN CHARGE...THERE WILL BE HELL TO PAY... What happens when a struggling actress and a grieving widower come together in a night of unbridled debauchery orchestrated by a bored and machinating rake?

She’s a lonely lady down on her luck...
Phoebe Scott, alias Kitty Willis, is a struggling Covent Garden actress with a bruised heart and a closely guarded secret.

He’s steadfast and eminently respectable
Sir Edward Chambers, Ned to his intimates, is guilt-ridden over his beloved wife’s death and avowed to live out a rustic and mundane life … of celibacy.

With the devil in charge — there will surely be hell to pay. Devil in disguise, Viscount Ludovic DeVere, is determined to return his best friend, Ned, to the land of the living.His meddling machinations result in a night of mind blowing passion after which “dull dog Ned” awakes to find himself in the King of England’s bed!

My Review:

Phoebe was determined to make it as an actress and bury the secrets of her past far behind her.  An opportunity presents itself when the lead actresses suddenly come up missing.  Phoebe knows all the parts by heart and tries to land one of the roles herself.  She manages to convince him that she is perfect for the lead part but is turned away and offered a smaller part.   There is a price to being made into a star and it requires the assistance of a rich provider.  Can Phoebe go through with the steps necessary for her career to sky rocket?

Ned has closed himself off from life after the death of his wife. He concentrates solely on his daughter and her happiness.  But the time has come for Vesta to be introduced into society.   As he journeys to make all the arrangements for the season, he calls on his very best friend,  Ludovic DeVere.  Together, they make all the necessary arrangements and DeVere makes it his  mission to bring his old friend back to life.  The funny thing is, that they opportunity presents itself in the most unlikely of places.

A wager between friends sends the three of them on a merry adventure into the king's private  chamber no less!!  Sparks fly between Ned and Phoebe.  DeVere notices this almost at once and is secretly plotting a victory to his mission.  But can Ned and Phoebe come to terms with their past?  Or are the cards stacked against them.  This was a short sweet adventure and an amazingly entertaining read!!  I found it thoroughly enjoyable and cannot wait to read more on the Devil DeVere!!!





Thursday, April 26, 2012

Cover Artist Revealed

Good Morning CEWTNK.  My blog has been yanked from me for a good cause, to introduce a lovely new cover/blog/website...well it looks like she does a little of everything :)  Here to introduce her is my friend Jenn.  Take it away Jenn:

Hey All!

It’s your friendly blogger here Jenn from www.indiesupporter.com , no, I did not tell you that to get to more followers, I just wanted to let you know who I am . (But, if you wanna stop by and follow, I won’t mind J )

Now, let me tell you why Nikki is being gracious enough to let me ramble on her blog!

(I HEART YOU, Nikki!)
Love you too Jenn :)


Ya see, being an avid stalker, follower of Nikki’s, I’ve noticed how much y’all love some steamy covers and fantastic books. (I would definitely go with stalker...lol...)

ME TOO!

I’m lucky enough to know a few awesome authors and even luckier to know an ASTOUNDING cover artist.

Today, I am here to introduce you to an amazing cover artist/photographer/website designer/painter/ artist named Regina Wamba.

This chick is EPIC!

Seriously, not only does she make the most AMAZING covers  you will EVER see, but she is a phenomenal person as well and has become a great friend.

They say not to judge a book by its cover, but let’s face it, we all do it.

It’s the first thing that pulls a reader in, grabs attention or just plain smacks you in the face with how awesome it can be.

Regina is the person behind a TON of killer covers.

Don’t believe me?

Check THIS out!






 

How HAWT are those????

Told you she was awesome!

Ever wonder what kind of work goes into making a cover drool worthy?

Well it’s your lucky day cause I made Regina make a time lapsed video for you all to see just how wicked talented she is.

Check out this STEAMY manipulation!


*wiping off drool*

Isn’t that just amazing?

Seriously, I wish I had half the skills she does, I’d be making covers all day!

Ok fine, I’d really just be photo brushing pics of myself to make me look hot.

Yep, that’s right.

I’d do that but lucky for me, I don’t have to because Regina can do that as well.

I’m not going to ramble on here forever, I’m just gonna let the work speak for itself.

And as you can tell, it’s the best work money can buy.

So, if you are looking to get a cover made, a photo touched up, a new blog design or button, then Regina is definitely your gal.

Check out more of her astounding work on the following sites:



https://www.facebook.com/MaeICreateArtbyReginaWamba (you’d do well to follow her here, cause she’s always got specials going on)

Got questions?

Hit her up at regina@maeidesign.com and she will be more than glad to help you out.

This is Jenn signing off and I TOTALLY approve this message!

(Thanks Nikki!)
LOL...Your welcome Jenn!!  And a big thank you to Regina for her fabulous work!!!!



Giveaway in Honor of Meira

Today I have Jason back with me, even though his heart is encompassed with sadness for his loss.  He wanted to come here and take a moment to express his pain and in honor of Meira offer 10 copies to 10 different commenters of his book.  Check out Jason's books here: http://closeencounterswiththenightkind.blogspot.com/2012/04/giveaway-and-guest-post-with-my.html


It's never easy when a loved one passes away.  They say time heals wounds, but honestly, the pain of loss never truly heals entirely.



On April 23 2012, a creature that I called my "daughter," (who would have been 10 years old on May 29th) was taken from us. Her name was Meira.  She was half husky, one-quarter german shepherd, one quarter lab, and one heck of a character I'll never forget!



For those of you out there who are animal lovers, you know exactly what I mean when I say we recognize our pets as members of our family, and also their personalities—and let me tell you, Meira most defiantly had hers.  So, if you would please, take a few minutes to read my tribute for my Meira, (and also comment).  It would be most appreciated.



So here we are, my wife—(fiancĂ©e at the time) and I, seeking out Meira's place of birth, just after we saw the flyer at this little gas station in Selkirk, New York.  I had called the number on the flyer and had talked with the guy, asking him for directions.  Eventually, we pull up the long driveway, notice a large fancy house with about two acres of beautiful open grassland, and even a couple of purebreds wandering about. (I forget the actual breed, so, let us just call them grey hounds).



"Ooo! Looks like they have lots of dogs around here!" I had said to my wife, excited.  Remember, we were going there expecting to see a Husky and a german shepherd/lab Mix strolling about.  We knock on the door, a man comes out, and of course we tell him we're there to pick up the puppy. He calls the owner on the phone, talks with her a bit, and then hangs up and tells us she's on her way.  I look at him and say, "I guess I must have talked with the husband a little while ago."  He smiles, and for about five minutes we have small talk, and I eventually grow bored (as Darshun does in my Guardian of the Seventh Realm series whenever small talk arises), and I finally ask, "so, where are the puppies?"



He answers, "She'll show them to you when she gets here."



I say, "I see she has a couple of types of dogs besides a husky and a shepherd mix."



He tilts his head and comments, "She owns Husky, only grey hounds.”



That was when Melissa and I realized that we were at the wrong house—all that time! And here the owner left work, and is on her way home, and probably expecting to be getting a thousand dollars or more from another customer, when all we were looking for was a "mutt." *laughs*



So after an apology, and of course getting the heck out of there before the owner arrived, I called the number on the flyer once again to ask for directions…once again. I felt like an idiot, but getting our puppy was worth the embarrassment.  Once there, and cruising up the driveway, we were relieved to see the mother husky strolling around the yard.  Yes, we had made it to the right house this time.  *smiles*



It was a type of farmhouse, and to be honest, neither my wife nor myself cared much for the owners.  They had a bit of a cold aura, but maybe they were just having a bad day. Anyhow, they bring all of the puppies out, and the little things were all running around and playing, all except for this one tiny black and tan pup.  Abandoning her siblings, she alone strolled over to my wife and licked her face.  Immediately, Melissa said, "I want this one!"  Welcome home, my Meira.



Away in the car we went, and as every puppy does (every puppy I’ve ever known), she cried, obviously missing her siblings and her mommy, and now in a strange environment. She calmed down after a little while.  I remember taking her to PetSmart, putting her in a shopping cart, as we strolled around getting her toys, treats and puppy food. Then we took her to my job site at the time.  It was a brand new neighborhood being built, and for fun I showed my wife the inside of an unfinished—yet safe to walk into—three-story house.  We went inside with Meira, sat, and talked about her, and also to her.  I can still clearly see little Meira in my wife's arms as Melissa was sitting.  We were very happy.  And to finish up this little story, we stopped at McDonalds on the way home, and bought her a plain hamburger.  She wouldn't touch the bread, but she did gobble up the meat. *laughs*



Meira was definitely her own character (as all animals are), but she made us all laugh. She insisted on taking walks—whether I walked her or not.  Everyday after work when I would come home, and let her out, she'd get all excited, jump on Fawn (my shepherd/golden retriever mix), then she'd go potty, and slowly wander down the hillside of the yard.  Eventually, all you could see would be her big fluffy husky tail wagging, and slowly disappearing out of site.  Then she’d make a run for it before I could get her back, whipping through the tree lines and into the woods she would go, and always return from the opposite side of our house, about twenty minutes later, wanting her supper.  I always wondered about her little adventures, what she saw...where she went, etc.  Sometimes she’d come back muddy and drenched, no doubt took a swim in the little shallow stream.



She loved the outdoors.  She loved my wife's pet rats, and would even growl at the cats if they came near them, as if she was their protector. I think the thing she'd cherished most was her love of food.  She'd eat every single scrap in her bowl. She'd even try and sneak the leftovers in the bowls of the other dogs, and when we'd catch her we'd shout, "Meira! Get out of there!"  She'd start eating and gobbling up that food so fast, until it was either gone—gobble up by her, or taken away by us.  She just loved to snoop around for scraps of human and/or cat food also.  I even caught her on all fours walking on my parent’s kitchen table when she was about 3 months old, looking for food.  As she got older she was getting a little tubby, no, a little too tubby that I had to put her on a diet.  She lost a little weight, and then I put her back on regular food, she gained the weight back, and also additional weight (of course me feeding her table scraps every other night couldn't have helped, but hey, it made her happy), and so back on the weight management food she'd go.  She especially loved bones. Every now and again I would get her the beef bones with the marrow in the middle, and every late winter, after deer hunting season would end, she'd return out of the woods with a deer leg.  One time she returned with what looked like a deer spine, LMAO!  I never took it away.  She loved it too much.



I also called her my "Lovey Dovey," because of how she'd mush or snuggle her head against you, or against the floor while you'd pet her, (and God forbid if you stopped, because she would immediately look up at you as if to say, "more pets, daddy! More pets!"), or she’d give me a hug by jumping onto me and gently kissing me.  That's the thing about her, she was big, solid and tubby, but she was gentle. You never had to be afraid of her taking your hand off when sharing people food with her. She'd always take it so gentle.



Probably the funniest thing she had ever done (besides chewing away the ONE branch that my nephew was holding on to from keeping himself from sliding down a snow covered hillside one winter) was a time when my father-in-law Baxter was burning the brush in early spring.  Meira, and her love for sticks, walked up to the pile, reached down, and picked up the lower end of a five or six-foot branch—while the rest of it was enflamed!  I admit, while I was nervous, I also laughed my arse off as she strolled around the yard with it, looking ever so happy, as if to say, “daddy, look at what I got!”



She also definitely had that stubbornness of the husky in her. She, in a way, was her own boss. You’d tell her to “come,” she’d just look at you, look another direction, look at you again, and then either listen (after she had made the decision to listen), or run or even walk off!  Talk about adding insult to injury against me.  Then she’d come back looking ever so happy.  God, do I miss my Meira dearly.



Want to why we named her “Meira?” Funny thing is, before we had gotten her, my wife and I used to play an online game together called “Dark Ages.” Our characters in the game were dating one another.  We’d go on our little adventures, chopping down monsters and leveling up our powers.  My dude’s name was “Chevron.” Pretty horrible, right?  My wife’s name was “Meira,” and both of us really liked that name.  And as we were driving away with her from her previous owners, both of us thought she looked like a “Meira.”  Although I must say, we didn’t play Dark Ages that much after that. Part of the reason was I was growing bored with it, but also the concept of me “dating” a Meira was...well, a bit weird. *laughs*



Her nick name became “Wall” because it flowed with “Meira Meira, on the wall,” but mostly because she was solid like a brick wall.  If she wanted out of her kennel, she would find a way out.  If she wanted out of her harness—no matter how well-equipped it was attached, she found a way out.  If she wanted the cat food, she’d break through the “barricade” I would sometimes make, whenever I wasn’t looking.



Now, on to the part that is not so humorous.  Last week, I noticed she was acting strange.  She wouldn’t touch her food, which was not like our Meira.  She also looked like she was in discomfort.  I gave her a couple of chunks of my chinese food to see if she would eat it, and she did, immediately, and happily.  So I thought, maybe she is tired of the Taste of the Wild: Salmon I had been feeding her.  The next day I came home with Buffalo Blue Chicken and Brown Rice, Weight Management, and she ate it, like normal, and even looked around for scraps of food in the kitchen, like she’d normally do, with her love of food.  But I decided to take her to the vet anyway. The vet checked her out, and said that now that she is getting older, she’s probably developing arthritis in her legs (which would explain her limping, and slower movement within this last year).  They gave her her kennel cough shot, and lyme vaccination, then we left.  On the way home we stopped and got her a dish of soft vanilla ice cream.  She lapped it up, happily.  Everything seemed fine.  She appeared a bit peppier as the weekend went by, and my wife and I even shaved her, as we do ever spring because of her thick fur and her hate of summer’s heat.



Then on Monday, April 23 2012, after work, I go into our house, while my wife retrieves the dogs.  As Meira strolled outside from the basement/garage of my in-law’s raised ranch, she just fell over.  Melissa screamed for me. I looked out the window, and saw Meira on the grass, and I knew—by the look on Meira’s face—that something was seriously wrong.  I ran outside and went to her.  She was shivering, and was having trouble breathing.  Wasting no time, I picked her up by myself—never minding the fact that she’s 107 pounds and could’ve hurt my back, placed her in the car, and we rushed to the vet on an emergency call.



The vet found that her blood pressure and temperature were dangerously low, and found a lot of fluid built up in her belly.  I helped the lady carry Meira into the x-ray room, and in a few minutes, we discovered that she had an enlarged heart, with fluid around it, and also backing into her belly, from what I can remember.  Just about this whole time I was in shock.  Everything was happening so fast, and unexpectedly.  The doctor said there was still a chance for her to live, perhaps a week, a month, or possibly another year. They gave her lasix, in hopes to drain the fluid, and then planned on putting her on meds to continuously help keep the fluid out.  But...Meira knew.  Our Meira knew it was her time.



She wasn’t nervous. She wasn’t frightened, not even of the shots they were giving her. She looked at me, I at her, and she kissed me on my lips with her wet tongue.  I had been petting her, spilling my tears onto the back of her head, kissing her head, hoping it wasn’t the end, but...she knew it was her time. Still, hoping for a miracle, we decided to leave her there over night, hoping she’d pull through, as the vets would watch her. I gave her my brown flannel—a flannel I really loved, and one that looked good on me.  I left it with her so she’d have my scent over the night.  Kissing the top of her head one last time, I said, “I love you.  I always have.  And I always will.”  We started walking out. I turned around to look at her one last time, she looked directly at me, again having that peaceful and calm expression, and then she glanced upward at something. I don’t know what, but something caught her eye. I turned around and we left.



We get home, and almost immediately my wife has the sudden urge to go back.  Then the phone rings.  It is the vet.  Meira passed away about 15 minutes after we had gone.  She was the type who, if she had gotten the chance, she would have wandered into the woods to find a place to die.  Both Melissa and I, in our tears, knew she did not want us to see her pass away, so we believe she held on as long as she could, until she knew for certain that we had gone, and then...she let go.  We went back to the vet to see her body, and say goodbye one final time.  We even took her sissy Fawn with us so she could see her body, and say goodbye also.  We decided to get Meira cremated, so her ashes can always be with us, wherever we go.  And I asked the vet to please leave my brown flannel with her, to get cremated with her as well.



I must say, I have had uncles pass, and other pets and animals too, but...Meira’s passing has been the hardest pain of loss I have ever felt.  When you’re a child (at least for me this is true), and the pet that your parents get you eventually passes away, you cry, of course you do.  But when I became an adult, and chose to bring Meira home as a member of our family, where I was the one responsible for her health, to keep her up to date with her shots, to feed her and the like, well, that bond for me was so immensely deep.  She wasn’t my “flesh and blood” daughter, no, but she was my “daughter,” if you catch my meaning, and I’m sure you do. It is so difficult—so difficult! coming home from work now, and not having our Meira here to greet us, to jump on Fawn, and then run off for her walk, only to come back to eat and lay with the rest of her pack, her family.  It’s so difficult seeing her fur still on draped over the grass from when we had shaved her this past weekend.  It’s so difficult seeing her food bowl still on the floor in the kitchen, and looking in the places where she would often lay down in our house, and not see her there now.



I know death is part of life.  It is a difficult part of life, one that we all will face.  And at the same time, it is, as I truly believe, a transition into the next realm of reality.  Yes, I do believe in an after life, even for animals, as silly as that may seem to people.  We are animals too, are we not?  Over the years I have read an “encyclopedia” of material about spiritualities and the universe, and I’ve experienced many inspiring and strange events and feelings.  I even witnessed an apparition when I was a child.  I remember it as clearly as this day.  Do I understand the afterlife, how it can be so?  I do not. Perhaps one day, when we have the proper tools and technology, it could be explained in a scientific matter, as we unlock the many mysteries of this strange, phenomenal universe we exist in, and also the energy of it.



I believe Meira is in another place now, a realm of infinite possibilities, containing all that one needs in order to be happy, docile, and satisfied.  I believe Meira is indeed at peace, and with a Higher Power.  And I believe that Melissa and I will see her again when it is our time to “transition” into that realm.



One last thing I’d like to say.  The fact that there is so much violence, death and darkness in this world...the fact that people commit such horrible crimes, to people, animals and nature Herself (something I bring forth in my novels), at the same time, there is good in this world.  When Meira was a puppy, and I was outside with her under the stars of nightfall, I remember looking down at her while she was looking up at me, and I thought, "she's so beautiful...adorable. She's a tubby little thing, who likes to eat, but she's happy. And I know there are thousands of dogs out there who either get abused, or abandoned and/or euthanized.  I wish I could save them all.  I really wish that.  But if not, I saved one, I saved Meira. We gave her a home; she became part of our pack, our family...her family, and I will take care of her until the day she passes.”



I love you Meira, with all of my heart. I always have, and I always will, my “wall.”  We’ll see you when it’s our time.  :)


 


Meira Wall Baccaro



May 29 2002 – April 23 2012


Just comment below for your chance to win.  I'm so sorry for your loss Jason.  I have felt this type of pain too.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Guest Post and Tour Giveaway by Sandra Sookoo and her book Come Hither


Good Morning and welcome to this stop on Sandra's virtual book!!  It is nice to have an author on my blog that shares my addiction.  Lol..No I am not referring to chocolate or hot sex scenes by simply HEA.  You can torture the characters as much as you like as long as you eventually give them and HEA.  This is what Sandra had to say about it:


Thanks for allowing me to visit your blog today!
Thanks for coming on Sandra!! :)

Hi, I’m Sandra Sookoo, and I have an addiction to happily ever afters.
That’s what draws me to writing and reading romance, knowing that after all the drama and trials the hero and heroine will have to overcome, I know there’s always going to be a happy ending.  Is it always traditional?  Not by a long shot, especially in some of my own work, but sometimes happy endings don’t always end with walking into the sunset or everyone watching shooting stars.
But I still cling to a deep love of fairy tales—although not the overly sweet ones.
When Liquid Silver Books announced their Silver Slippers call for reworked fairy tales, I was in the seventh heaven of delight.  Can you imagine?  My very own chance to put a stamp on the fairy tale world?  To have the opportunity to shake up beloved tales in my own way?  I couldn’t wait to get started.  When Liquid Silver Books announced their Silver Slipper call for reworked fairy tales, my brain went into overdrive thinking about what I could do with that.  I was in heaven.  I’d already had two reimagined fairy tales (WISHFUL THINKING which came out last December and FRACTURED which came out in February) but I needed more.
But wait…  I wanted a different spin on things.  I didn’t want the same old blah, blah, blah.  So I plotted and planned for COME HITHER, my take on the Little Red Riding Hood tale.  I thought that by making my heroine, Riley, the wolf, and if I made the hero, Carson, a beta-type guy, that would be even better.  Oh, the hurdles my hero and heroine would need to overcome.  Oh, the agony of defeat when my heroine ended up being an over-the-top bad-ass, unused to having a man want to help her out or even adore her for just being…her.
Riley’s a wolf shifter who’s broken away from her overbearing, alpha-laden pack.  She took her grandma and ran after they wanted to leave the old woman alone out in the woods.  She’s got trust issues too, but that’s okay.  It gives her great reason to hook up with Carson…and maybe she’ll even have to rescue him before the night’s out.  I jokingly refer to this story as a trouser ripper. LOL
If you like your fairy tales and raw and dirty, with a bit of humor thrown in, this story is for you
You can almost hear the wicked laughter in the background, huh?  I had the greatest fun writing COME HITHER.  I hope you’ll pick up a copy of this story plus look up my other ones!
Let's take a look at the book in question:


Heroes don’t wear capes and heroines sometimes have fur.  This ain’t your grandma’s fairytale.
Riley Hanson has fate by the balls.  She’s a kick-ass wolf-shifter who’s not afraid to tell people off, especially if they try to suggest how to live her life.  She lives with her grandma in the Wisconsin woods, hoping to keep the worst of humanity away. 
Carson Hoode, the guy every woman wants to talk to but not date, drives a truck for Red Riders Express. Six months off a divorce, the only thing he’s got going for him is a perfect delivery record, except a heavy October downpour and a muddy road threaten it.  As he tries to finish his route on foot, he slips and wrenches his knee. The business end of Riley’s rifle closes out his day.
The fur and pheromones fly as Riley and Carson battle their attraction while eluding a back woods hunter intent on bagging more than local wildlife.  They’ll need a healthy dose of fairytale magic to survive—too bad there’s no such thing.  Now, if only Grandma would give them some privacy because someone’s getting laid at the end.
 
Sandra is a writer of romantic fiction.  Her portfolio includes historical, contemporary, sci-fi and paranormal romances in full-length books as well as shorts and novellas.  No matter if the heat level is scorching or sweet, she loves to blend genres and often times will add humor as well.   
When not immersed in creating new worlds and interesting characters, Sandra likes to read, bake and travel.  Her favorite place to spend vacation hours is Walt Disney World.  It’s where dreams come true and the soul can play.  When she’s not writing, she’s keeping things interesting at the Believing is Seeing blog or spending time with her husband.
You can write to Sandra at sandrasookoo@yahoo.com, visit her website or look her up on Facebook and Twitter.
 
 
 
Excerpt:
 "Thanks for nothing, assholes." Riley Hanson slammed the phone receiver back in its cradle on the wall. She pressed her fingers over her eyes and took a few deep, calming breaths before her rising temper got the better of her. Those bastards. Once again the idiots in town refused to accept delivery of her grandmother's insulin, which meant the delivery service would have to send a driver into the remote woods of the hills where she lived.
In the rain.
On a night where the full hunter's moon would make an appearance and cause her to go furry.
"Damn it all to hell and back. Next time I see those guys, I'm going to beat them to a pulp with a pool stick." She couldn't help the words that slipped out; hadn't known she'd spoken them out loud until she heard the soft, wheezing laugh from her grandmother in the room next door. "What?" She popped around the wall that divided the kitchen and living area and gave the older lady a mock glare while planting her hands on her hips.
"Don't give me that, child, I'm much older and have seen much worse." Grandma Hanson chuckled again, laying her knitting in her lap. "The jerks in town never sign for my packages. I don't know why you let yourself get upset this time."
Riley sighed. Of course her grandma was right. She relaxed, collapsing on the sofa next to her relative. She rested her head against the fleshy shoulder she'd drawn comfort from since childhood. "I know, but I didn't have a chance to go to town and fetch it after work. I hate when the delivery people have to trek all the way out here, especially when the weather is so nasty."
"Especially when you're ready for the monthly shift." Grandma Hanson lifted a shaking hand and petted Riley's long, black hair. "That is the real reason for your angst."
"Yes." As if she could forget the one, major thing that set her apart from everyone else in the village. "I hate shifting in the rain." She shivered, imagining how the damp would permeate down into her thick fur coat, chilling her to the bone. It would take an hour in the Jacuzzi tub to thaw out.
"You can't help the weather or your natural instinct." Her grandmother shrugged. The gesture caused the air to fill with her rosewater scent. "Make the best of it. During my shifting years, there were many times I didn't want to deal with the transformations, but there wasn't a damn thing I could do about it."
"You're right." Once menopause kicked in, a woman's shifting urge declined every month along with her estrogen levels until she didn't transform anymore. "I just wish it didn't hurt so much." Right now, that event seemed so far off. The cold always made shifting worse.
Her grandma's next laugh made the older lady's double chin quiver. "The legends say that if a wolf-shifter finds their true-of-heart mate, their touch can make transforming bearable."
Riley snorted. She'd heard that story too many times to count. "Right, and as dorky as that sounds, I also don't believe that if some guy holds my hand, I won't feel the shift. Old wives' tales probably."
HAH!!  I love the this isn't your grandma's fairytale!!  That rocks!!!  Sandra is giving a 20 amazon card to one lucky commenter at the end of the tour.  So make sure you stop by them all and say hi!!!





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