Party’s ON! “Zipper Fall” release blogfest Sunday, Sept 22nd!

September 22, 2013

I am online and blogging about Zipper Fall, the 2nd book of the Steel City Series. It can be read as a stand-alone, but if you read the no. 1 book of the series, Wild Horses, you will recognize several characters and landmarks.
I’ve been asked if I climb. Wyatt Gaudens, my POV character, is a climber who misuses his skills for burglary. I do climb a bit, and I was inspired to try it to get over my fear of heights (my wild, adventuring characters do all kinds of things I’d love to be able to do – I live through them vicariously!). I can climb up a wall and rapell down, and I love to boulder when outside. Wyatt is a natural where I am a struggling coward. So now some of you will ask, wait, do you also pick locks?
I tried, using lock picks I bought online. It’s hard, but doable. I watched people pick locks and crack safes, and both activities require patience, a steady hand, and a special touch that seems to come to some people naturally. I’ve never picked a lock that didn’t belong to me, although I’d lie if I claimed that no locks were harmed in the making of this book ;-)

To get more familiar with Wyatt’s mindset, I am going to share a brief excerpt. Our poor, flawed, adrenaline-addicted hero just needs a better source of excitement in his life:

***

Life can be incredibly boring at times, and in order to make it worth living, I need a bit of zing to spice up my dull routine. I’ve always been like that, and besides, I have always been able to talk my way out of anything. My mother used to say I’d make her go prematurely gray with my wild skateboarding antics. After a while, skateboarding wasn’t enough, and I started rock climbing. Small risks turned to bigger risks, except I didn’t want to endanger my climbing buddies by doing something really crazy on the rock face. Instead, I discovered the thrill of occasional and strictly recreational break-ins. Two years ago, I took my first souvenir. I knew it would be missed, which made the experience even more thrilling. Heightening the risk heightened the excitement. Last year, I wore a distinctive ring for a few days. I got away with it, which was almost disappointing, because it was a Superbowl ring. I ended up wiping my prints off and sending it to the local TV station, and its return made the news because anything having to do with the Steelers makes the news. I rode that high for almost a whole month.

***

I have a question for you: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done in search of YOUR adrenaline high? Log in to www.dreamspinner.com/blog so I can see your answer!

“Zipper Fall” release party from noon till dinner EST!

September 22, 2013

Hi everyone, Kate Pavelle here. I hope you can stop by for a launch party for “Zipper Fall,” the 2nd book in the Steel City Series. I’ll be online from noon till dinner today, and will check in after dinner for a bit. There will be excerpts, give-aways, and questions both asked and answered! This is a new thing for me.
I hope you can stop by! Just use the following address: http://blog.dreamspinnerpress.com/blog
See in after lunch!
Kate

Zipper Fall cover

“The Satyr’s Song” Release Party, final cannon

September 19, 2013

Well it looks like the time for “The Satyr’s Song” release party is winding down. The last joust is over and we’re watching the crowds straggle toward the gate before the final cannon. I hope everyone has enjoyed the day at the faire with pictures and commentary. I could go on for several more hours, but this is it. Midnight fast approaches the east coast so let’s part ways with another post of the sexy men of faire.

Hot and Hunky

Just plain cute.

Handsome

Graceful

Fierce

Huzah! So, that’s it for hot men of the ren faire part 2 and I think the final cannon just sounded in the distance signaling that the day has come to an end. I hope everyone has enjoyed it as much as I did. Don’t forget about our contest. Hidden in amongst the many pictures I posted today are two images, one of me and one of my handsome husband. Leave me a comment with which post and which image. The first one with the correct answer wins an autographed copy of “The Satyr’s Song” as soon as I get my copies. Your deadline is Midnight September 20 2013 (MST)!

Don’t forget to stop by my website and facebook page to stay abreast of things going on and the solution to the contest are on facebook. Well, you’ll still have to tell me which post and pictures, but the rest is pretty easy.  Good night fair gentles. Andy, aka A.J. Marcus.

“The Satyr’s Song” Release Party part 6

September 19, 2013

Alrighty then, AJ Marcus back here as we enter the last few hours of the release party for “The Satyr’s Song” So speaking of Satyrs, over the past few years a lot of the ren faires have taken on a decidedly fantasy feel. It’s not uncommon to see mystical creatures such as fairies, dragons, unicorns, trolls, and yes, even Satyrs. There have even been sightings of such things as storm troopers, Star Fleet landing parties, and even the occasional Doctor. The past few years has seen a proliferation of cosplay, some of it is breath taking while others leave you wondering what the person is trying to do. So let’s take a look at some of the strange and unusual things I’ve seen at the faire over the years.

Leather seems almost to be a requirement to a lot of the costuming. I think this guy is supposed to be an ogre.

Twigg the Fairie is one of the mystical performers that people show up each year to see. She immerses herself into her character and is truly magical to behold as she charms the young and old alike.

Some characters evolve over time. The picture above was in Fireflicker’s second year wandering around Colorado Renaissance Festival and below is a shot of her a couple of years later. She has put a lot of work into both her costume and her persona. Although her appearance is very fierce, she is extremely gentle and most of the children love her.

A couple of years ago, this tauren from World of Warcraft started appearing from time to time.

Another tauren, this one brought a paladin along to fight.

And what would a faerie tale experience be without a fairy godmother?

And last but not least, we have the fair Queen Anne. She’s not very mystical, but she is definitely a character. We always try and shout “God save the Queen!” whenever she passes.

Don’t forget about the contest mentioned in the previous post. I’ve only got another couple of post before my time on the Dreamspinner Press blog is done, at least for tonight and for “The Satyr’s Song” release Party.

“The Satry’s Song” Release Party post 5

September 19, 2013

Wow, the hours just keep ticking by. AJ, Andy, here again with more interesting ren faire stuff. Since the pictures are going over well, I think I’ll stick with those. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then my word count for today is going through the roof. Since I work the Colorado Fair for one of the vendors, I’ll post some shots of various vendors this time. Shopping is one of the many reasons people come to the fair. I think every weekend I work the fair, I heard at least two people a day say that the only reason they came to the fair was to shop in our booth. That’s really cool. So at the bottom of this post will be the rules for the contest to win an autographed copy of “The Satyr’s Song” it won’t ship out until I get them which will probably be in the next two weeks or so. So here we go on a visual trip through of the vendors and I’ll even throw in a few shots from some of the games.

I often share the pictures I take of friends at the fair . Lady Kamala got a lot of complements with this one.

Okay, I admit that I am terrible with names and some of the folks at fair we only see during fair. I’ve known this guy for five years now and I can never remember his name. I just call him Spindle Boy because he spent so much time standing out in front of their booth demonstrating a drop spindle.

These two actually work at one of the games of skill.

So that’s it for vendor pictures. Now the part that everyone has been waiting for, the contest. In amongst the pictures being posted today (they might already be posted or they could be posted later) there are two pictures, one of me and one of my husband. Identify the pictures and you’ll get a signed copy of “The Satyr’s Song.” The only people excluded from this are people who know me in person, that would be cheating. All the information to figure out which ones is available on the web, either my website, or facebook page.  Comment on my last post in a few hours and let me know which post and which picture, get both of them right by midnight tomorrow night (MST) and win a book.  Good Luck.

The parting question for this post. What type of things do you like to buy at the Renaissance Festival?

“The Satyr’s Song” Release Party post 2

September 19, 2013

Welcome back for part two of the release party for “The Satyr’s Song,” book two of the Ren Faire Romances. I’m going to kick it up a notch this hour and discuss something that I’m sure is on everyone’s mind when they go to the faire, the hot guys.

Over the years, the different fairs have taken on different flairs and we find different themes tend to permeate at different times. Thanks to the Pirates of the Caribbean movies we had a good number of pirates show up and in some cases take over the fairs. But as we found out in “The Jouster’s Lance,” some pirates like to be plundered as much as they like plundering. At the Colorado Renaissance Festival, we actually have a pirate’s pub when many of them hang out.

Here one heading to the pub, or maybe coming back from it. Not sure which. If it were a video, we could tell by his swagger.

Some of the performers are also rather sexy.

There are the Fairy Tale Princes. You’ll get to meet one of them in “The Archer’s Arrow” coming out first of the year.

There are jugglers. (I’m threatening to writer “The Juggler’s Balls” one of these days.)

And I’m not sure Dale O’Toole, one of the main characters of “The Jouster’s Lance” would appreciate it if I forgot the jousters.

But we also have hot guys just wandering around the faire grounds.

Satyrs. I personally think Adrian in “The Satyr’s Song” is hotter.

And a pretzel guy.

And to leave off this post I’ll leave you with this…to get your heart racing.

So what sort of guy do you like to see at the faire?

“The Satyr’s Song” Release Party post 1

September 19, 2013

Greetings fair gentles, ‘tis I, A.J. Marcus, but you can call me, Andy. I’m here on the Dreamspinner Press blog today to talk a bit about Renaissance Faires and promote my new book “The Satyr’s Song” which is coming out tomorrow.

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4195

“The Satyr’s Song” is book 2 in the Ren Faire Romances series. If you didn’t read book 1, “The Jouster’s Lance” you should, but it’s not necessary to enjoy “The Satyr’s Song.” Also for anyone interested, book 3 “The Archer’s Arrow” is already under contract and will be coming out after the first of the year.

So, without further a due, on to the setting of these wonderful books of mine, The Renaissance Faire. If you can’t tell from the books, I love Ren Faires. There is just something wonderful and magical about the atmosphere they create. I’ve been going to and in some cases working at various fairs, first in California, then Texas and lately Colorado for over twenty years. Each fair has its own flair and flavor. What I find interesting is how they change over the years while at the same time, staying essentially the same, but I think I’ll wait to get into that in a later post. (I’ll have several post over the day.)

The idea of the Renaissance Faire brings forth images to everyone’s minds. It might be jousters on horses. It might be jesters clowning among people in the streets, or fine court ladies on parade. Then there is the food, Who can resist a steak on a stake? Or, maybe a turkey leg is more your flavor? Do you like the shows? Are belly dancers your thing? Maybe bawdy wenches doing a song and dance number? I know a good falconry show always gets my attention.

What are some of the things you enjoy when you go to the ren faire? Be careful, I might just put some of your suggestions into a future book.

You can find out more about me at my website

www.ajmarcus.com

or on Facebook


Homespun Release Party: wrap-up!

September 19, 2013

Thank you so much to everyone who joined me for the Homespun release party! It’s the end of the evening — time for handing out door prizes before the guests stagger off home and nothing’s left but the cleanup. :)

I was going to hold the door prize drawings at different times for ~maximum drama~, but got pulled away from the computer for awhile this evening so I decided to do them both at once — which also gave people a little extra time to get their entries in. :D The drawings are now closed and the lucky winners (Juliana and Annette) have been emailed! Winners were chosen by assigning numbers to the participants in each drawing and then using my old RPG dice for random number generation.

Thank you again to everyone who joined me today. I really enjoyed sharing Owen and Kerry’s world with you for a little while, and I hope you had fun and found the posts entertaining and informative!

I realized this evening, while I was choosing winners, that I didn’t think to give you any excerpts from the book! You can read a selection from the beginning on DSP’s order page, but I think that an excerpt would be a nice way to close off the release party. So here you go – enjoy!

Kerry was in the kitchen, setting the table. A tight black T-shirt framed the narrow planes of his body, and Owen couldn’t help carefully cataloguing all of the changes, every place that time had touched the beloved body he hadn’t seen in so long. Kerry’s hair was a couple inches longer, touched with gray. Owen’s own short hair had been gray for a decade, which only meant that Kerry was catching up with him. Kerry’s elaborate tattoos twined down both arms, wrapping his thin wrists and climbing to the shaved nape of his neck.

“No new ink?” Owen asked, wishing he could examine Kerry more closely from head to foot. Laura’s presence inhibited him from doing more than brushing their fingers together when Kerry handed him a plate of sliced bread; still, that small contact sent an electric quiver through him.

Kerry’s shy smile crept out. “Ink. Listen to you talking that big-city jive.”

Laura dragged another chair to the table for him—usually it was just the two of them. Kerry slid a hand under the table, twining his fingers through Owen’s. It meant that Kerry had to eat with his left hand. He didn’t seem to mind.

“So how is your art coming along, Uncle Kerry?” Laura asked politely, passing the plate of roast beef.

Kerry’s slight hesitation was normal; he always balked when they asked him about his life away from the farm. The difference was that now he would talk about it, sometimes, when he was relaxed and comfortable and in the mood. “Got commissioned for a mural at a pretty trendy restaurant in Harlem.”

“Well, that’s good, right?” Owen said, squeezing his hand under the table. “Lots of exposure.”

“I guess so.” The melancholy in his voice couldn’t quite mask the rising note of pleasure that always crept in when he talked about art. Owen wondered, sometimes, who’d stomped on Kerry so hard that he felt his own ability to create beauty was something he had to hide. Owen Fortescue was not a violent man, but there were times when he wished he could stomp that person right back.

They’d talked about Kerry’s career sometimes, just the two of them, in the dark. Where it was going. Where it wasn’t going. Kerry had dreamed big once upon a time—dreamed of his guerilla art taking society by storm, of shows at exclusive galleries, of opening people’s eyes with paintings that changed the world. His dreams were smaller now. Selling enough art to pay the rent, mostly. Fitting enough beauty to sustain him into the gaps in a life made up of temporary, menial jobs.

There had been only one time that Owen had offered him money, scraping together a little that he and Laura couldn’t spare, but didn’t begrudge. Kerry had looked at it, at him, and Owen would never forget the rage and betrayal in his eyes.

“I’m not your goddamn rentboy,” he spat, and walked out, leaving Owen sputtering and struggling to explain to Laura, who had been about fourteen at the time. Kerry hadn’t come back to the farm for a year. Owen had never offered him money again, and Kerry had become even more close-mouthed, for a while, about the city and any struggles he might face there.

Laura cleared her throat, and Owen looked up quickly, jolted back to the here and now. The conversation had moved on without him, and now Laura’s plate was clean, and Kerry had somehow managed to clear away half his food with only his left hand. Owen’s had barely been touched.

Kerry’s smile, fixed only on him, was fond and soft. Something made Laura’s eyes skate away from it, and she rose, taking her plate.

“I’ve got the dishes tonight,” she said. “Go on.” And whatever had been sharp in her a moment ago was soft-edged now. “Have fun, Daddy.”

“I’m glad I have permission,” Owen said, drawing Kerry up by the hand.

Kerry’s eyes darted back and forth between Owen and Laura, looking as if he wasn’t sure if he was supposed to laugh along or not. Owen knew that Kerry still sometimes got lost in the depths between father and daughter, the infinitely shaded subtleties of their in-jokes, their unspoken little arguments and apologies. He slid an arm around Kerry’s slim waist, wanting to say it was all right, not quite sure how.

Instead he turned them both away from the warmth and light of the kitchen, toward the stairs, toward the bedroom with its bower of wildflowers. His free hand dropped into his pocket, worrying at the ring box like a good-luck charm. Please don’t let me screw this up tonight.

Homespun – available now from Dreamspinner, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other ebookstores.

Thank you, and good night!

Homespun Release Party: Giveaway #2

September 18, 2013

The Homespun release party is going great! Thank you so much to everyone who’s commented so far! Now it’s time for my second giveaway of the day. (I didn’t mean to post this one so late. The day is getting away from me!)

Homespun purchase links, one more time, for your buying convenience! :D
Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Kerry, in Homespun, is an artist. This is another of the things that snuck into the book out of my real life. I’m not an artist in the same vein as Kerry, who specializes in harsh, angry protest art — my own style is more gentle and soft. But I am an artist; I draw and paint, and for this giveaway, I will do a custom drawing, colored with watercolors, on an ACEO card — these are “artist trading cards”, made of nice-quality paper, about the size of baseball cards. So it’ll be small, and the subject should be simple: not a gigantic battle scene with a cast of thousands. But I could draw a favorite character, or something sexy, or a pretty landscape. You name it, I’ll at least TRY to draw it for you!


This is a sample of the kind of art I’m talking about (ink colored with watercolor), except the one I’ll do for you will be smaller and, probably, less complex. (This is actually a detail from a piece of fanart I did several years ago for the Clan of the Cave Bear books. It was the best thing I could find to demonstrate what my art looks like when I’m drawing in the particular style I’m offering for this giveaway!)

To enter this drawing, leave a comment telling me about something interesting, quirky, or unique in the city or town where you live, or anywhere you’ve visited or lived before. (A cool piece of sidewalk art? A weird festival? A creepy old building that you walked by every day on your way to school? Anything is good here!)

It’s okay to enter this drawing if you already entered the other one!

Homespun Release Party: New England autumn

September 18, 2013

Thank you again for joining me for the Homespun release party! This post is probably the one that was the most fun to put together — a photo tour of New England in the fall!

My sister lives on a small farm near Ithaca, a large town/small city in central New York, in the general area where Homespun is set. Last fall I went to visit her and also, incidentally, to scout locations for Homespun. Luckily she was a good sport about being co-opted to drive around for hours exploring the countryside. We ended up driving all over central New York and Vermont. Some of my other blog tour posts in later weeks will go into more details of the location scouting process. I don’t want to repeat myself TOO much, so today I’ll give you a different set of photos from the ones that will appear in later blog tour posts. These are the visuals that I was working from when I wrote Homespun, with its descriptions of the gorgeous New England fall colors.

Some of the most striking colors we saw were right along the semi-rural road where my sister lives:

By the time we got over to Vermont, in the middle of October, the peak colors were already over. We did see some pretty sights:

But mostly there was the awareness that it WOULD have been flaming, in-your-face, eyeball-knockout red if we’d gotten there a week ago. This is a pretty good indication of how different climate can be in very nearby places. In flatter, warmer central New York, the trees were vividly aflame with autumn colors, while in Vermont’s mountains they’d already dropped a lot of their leaves.

Which is not to say the trip was a waste of time by any means. As well as lots of scenery, we also saw the most awesome restaurant EVER in Bennington, Vermont, which sadly we didn’t go into because we’d just eaten lunch, so we were stuffed. But someday I really want to eat here.

And once we crossed the border back into New York, we went climbing at Bald Mountain, which has these amazing steeply-sloped rocks that you have to scramble over.

Yes, you climb this.

The fictional small town in Homespun is called Hazel, and it ended up being located in an area that’s within relatively easy driving distance of Bald Mountain. There is no doubt in my mind that Laura and Owen go over to Bald Mountain occasionally, possibly dragging Kerry along with them. Owen’s not really the climbing type, but he took Laura a couple of times when she was a kid and now she keeps wanting to go back. Kerry is REALLY not the climbing type, and I expect the one time they actually did manage to drag him there, he’d have spent the whole time complaining and nearly falling off things in his slippery-soled, impractical shoes.

We walked along the top of this. Kerry would DIE.

Southwest of the Bald Mountain area, the low, rolling farmland between Utica and Syracuse turned out to be the perfect location for Homespun. I’ll have a few pictures of that area in a later blog tour post. I’ve actually only got a few pictures of that area, honestly; we drove through there once, in the evening. Ithaca is pretty similar, though, and here are a few more of the Ithaca-area sights that went into crafting Homespun.

I hope this gives you a few more visuals for Homespun! It really is a lovely area.

Do you have any particular memories of autumn, or autumn holidays? Or did you grow up in a hot climate and envy the cooler latitudes their bright colors — or think you had it better after all? :D