Release Party – Beloved Unmasked by Brita Addams – Storyville Photos

October 16, 2015

Welcome back! I knew you wouldn’t want to miss this post.

A gentleman by the name of John Ernest Bellocq, known during his lifetime as E.J., was a photographer for shipping lines in New Orleans before he took an interest in photographing the many sights in the famed red light district known as Storyville. You can read more about Bellocq on October 2img0020th, as part of my week of Storyville posts on my blog, but here, I’d like to share some photographs taken by Bellocq between 1897 and 1917, the year Storyville closed.

A great many of his subjects posed nude, but I haven’t included any of them. With so little known about Bellocq, we know even less about the women and men he photographed. After Bellocq died in 1949, New Orleans folklore says his brother, a Catholic priest, destroyed or damaged a great many of Bellocq’s glass negatives. One representation of the damage is below in the photo of the woman on the chaise. Leo Bellocq scratched out the faces of many of the women and /or smashed the negative. His motives might seem obvious, but they will forever remain with him, as he never divulged whether he had indeed attempted to destroy is brother’s work.

Do you see something in the faces of his subjects? Remember, though, they had to remain still for several minutes during the picture taking, so what you might see is, “Hurry up and take the damn picture.”

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On the left is a picture of a nurse at the hospital where the Storyville prostitutes were sent when they contracted a venereal disease, commonly called “the gleet”  which ran rampant through the nineteen square blocks of Storyville. It claimed many a life, despite prevention methods.

The other two are unnamed women. The middle photo appears on the cover of Al Rose’s book, Storyville New Orleans.

From Al Rose’s Storyville New Orleans:

a270d92d8669b0f8eb175f237fd2a490The most popular hard liquor in Storyville was Raleigh Rye. Striped stockings were expensive and could be afforded only by the high-priced bawds of Basin Street. Opera length, the hose were sold by traveling salesmen who, with a tricky demonstration, made them seem run-proof. They cost six dollars a pair and lasted one or two washings.

Also from Al Rose’s book re: picture on the right:

A prime attraction at Minnie White’s place at 221 North Basin Street was Marguerite Griffin, who 12cf4a3d037f9fe9f60f32f8ce01c3f2could not only handle the conventional duties of a storyville tart, but also knew the lyrics of countless bawdy ballads. Note on the wall hangings: The pillow above her head reads, “Daisies won’t tell.” The risque signs read, left to right, “Oh! Babe, please come,” “Oh! Dearie, I give U much pleasure” (affixed to a Mardi Gras pennant dated 1910,) and “Dearie, U ask for Marguerite.”

For more photos and more on E.J. Bellocq, visit my blog on October 20. There I’ll have some photos that inspired scenes in the book as well as many others.

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Giveaway: Stop by my blog between October 16 and 23 for a series of posts on Storyville. Leave a substantive comment about the post or the book (not “I’m in” or the like,) and on November 1, I’ll select the winner of a New Orleans-themed gift pack. Beloved Unmasked isn’t included in the giveaway.

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Here’s some of the pre-release buzz about Beloved Unmasked:

Beloved Unmasked is a beautifully written historical romance. You can feel the streets of New Orleans, see the sights, and hear the sounds. (Cathy Brockman – MM Good Book Reviews)

When you want a historical you can really sink into and feel like you are there, this is the book to pick up. Really amazingly well done. A Recommended Read (Tina Brunelle – Redz World)

Beloved Unmasked has a whole lot packed into the pages. Brita Addams has certainly done her research about New Orleans. (Kazza – On the Top Down Under Reviews)

I was delighted that I was asked to review Beloved before release. I really enjoyed the story. Brita is the only historical author who can suck me in early enough that I’ll read the entire book. :) (4 Stars – Brenda Cothern)

Absolutely amazing. (Lorraine Lesar - Threebooksovertherainbow.wordpress.com)

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Dreamspinner has Beloved Unmasked on sale until October 18, at 25% off. Buy now to get the great discount.

Beloved UnmaskedBeloved Unmasked

Cherished One: Book One
A Tarnished novel

Blurb:

Born to a spiteful prostitute in Storyville, the red-light district in New Orleans, David comes into the world as Picayune, meaning “of little value,” or, as his mother reminds him, “nothing.” In the early 20th century brothels and clubs, his love of music sustains young Pic until a life-changing meeting places him on the road to respectability, and Pic reinvents himself as David Reid.

As David realizes happiness for the first time, conscription forces his friend and first love, Spencer Webb, into the Great War. While he pursues a law degree, letters from Spence connect David to his hopes for the future. After staggering news at war’s end, David must find a way to move forward. Under the tutelage of his benefactor, David’s career prospers, but specters from Storyville threaten all he’s worked so hard to achieve.

The past holds both pain and love. Will facing it head-on destroy David or give him everything he’s ever dared dream?

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Next hour – An excerpt from Beloved Unmasked.

Release Party Beloved Unmasked by Brita Addams – Can you speak Yat?

October 16, 2015

Beloved UnmaskedWelcome to my release party for my New Orleans-based historical, Beloved Unmasked. I thought we’d have some fun this hour, and this topic does relate to the book. (Good thing, right?)

There are characters in BU that speak what natives of New Orleans nowadays call Yat. I’ve “citified” it a bit, because in its purest form, one might think they are listening to a foreign language. But it is something to hear and never fails to bring a smile to my face.

As a young woman from an Upstate New York farm town, (replete with her own pronunciation problems) I ended up in New Orleans at the age of 22, due to a Navy transfer for my then-husband. While it wasn’t Italy as we requested, New Orleans became home. We figured a couple of years and then we’d move on, as we had left Iceland for the Deep South.

Many years later, I’m still in the area, sans the sailor, and married for the last 35 years to a certified, bona fide New Orleans native. He is N’Awlins to the bone. Yes, that’s the way natives pronounce it. He doesn’t speak much Yat anymore, because college beat that out of him, but every now and again, his upbringing creeps through. It’s in the blood. He’ll ask the kids “Where y’at?”

I will confess to thinking my mother-in-law was wholly uneducated when I first heard her speak. She was Cajun through and through, as was her mother. The eaves on the house were “the ease.” You don’t boil, you berl. You don’t wash dishes in the sink. No, in N’Awlins, every kitchen has a zink. And of course you don’t fry those scrumptious shrimp in oil, but rather, earl.

Here’s a few head scratchers and some of my all time favorites, courtesy of Gumbo Pages:

AX – ask

BANQUETTE – The sidewalk. Pronounced <BANK-it>.

BERL – To cook by surrounding something in hot, bubbling 212°F liquid; the preferred method for cooking shellfish.

BOBO – A small injury or wound. (this one grated on me because my mother always said boo-boo)

BOO – A term of endearment, frequently used by parents and grandparents for small children, even small children who happen to be 40 years old … Believed to be Cajun in origin.

BRA - A form of address for men, usually one with whom you are not acquainted. Usually used in this manner: “Say, bra …” Ostensibly an abbreviation for “brother.”

BRAKE TAG – An inspection sticker on your car, proof that you’ve passed the required annual safety inspection.

CATLICK – The predominant religion in New Orleans. And, according to some Baptists, all Hell-bound.

CEMENT – A standard English word, but with a special pronunciation. Locals say <SEE-ment>, not <s@-MENT>.

DA – The.

DAT – That.

DAWLIN’ – A universal form of address. Women use it to refer to both sexes, men use it toward women.

DEM – Them.

DERE – There. As in “Dere ya go!”, an expression of encouragement or acknowledgement of having done something for someone else.

DESE, DOSE – These, those.

DIS – This.

DODO, MAKE DODO – Sleep. (pronounced dough-dough)

DRESSED – When ordering a po-boy, “dressed” indicates lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and MYNEZ, on it.

ERNGE, URNGE – An orange-colored citrus fruit.

ERSTERS, ERSTAS – Oysters.

INKPEN – A ball-point pen, or any kind of pen, really. Always heavy emphasis on the first syllable … “Lemme borra ya INKpen, awrite?”

MUFFULETTA - A quintessential New Orleans Italian sandwich, of ham, Genoa salami, mortadella, Provolone cheese and marinated olive salad on a round seeded Italian loaf. Invented at Central Grocery on Decatur in da Quarter. Locals pronounce this <muff-@-LOT-@>, and will tend to just abbreviate it as “muff”. But if you ask a member of the Tusa family (the proprietors of Central), they’ll pronounce it in elegantly proper Italian as <moo-foo-LET-ta>. (You haven’t lived if you’ve never eaten one!)

NUTTINONIT - A po-boy that is not dressed, which only contains the main ingredient(s).

ON DA WES’ BANK, ACROSS DA RIVUH, OVA DA RIVUH – On the West Bank of the Mississippi River, where such places as Algiers, Gretna and Marrero lie. Interestingly, the West Bank is due south of New Orleans (except for Algiers, of course). Make sense? Thought not.

PECAN – A nut indigenous to the South, and beloved in New Orleans as an ingredient in pies and pralines. Pronounced <p@-KAWN>, not <PEE-can>.

PO-BOY – The quintessential New Orleans lunch, a sandwich on good, crispy New Orleans French bread. This definition doesn’t begin to describe what a po-boy is all about, so if you really don’t know you need to get one soon. Take a moment to read a little bit about po-boys.

PRALINE – A sugary Creole candy, invented in New Orleans (not the same as the French culinary/confectionery term “praline” or “praliné”) The classic version is made with sugar, brown sugar, butter, vanilla and pecans, and is a flat sugary pecan-filled disk. Yummmmm. There are also creamy pralines, chocolate pralines, maple pralines, etc. Pecan pralines are the classic, though.

This is one of THE most mispronounced New Orleans terms of all.

 

It is ***N O T*** pronounced <PRAY-leen>.It is pronounced <PRAH-leen>. Got it? Good.

SHOW, DA SHOW – The cinema. The movie house. The local motion picture emporium. Where works of cinematic art (or crappy flicks, depending) are shown. True New Orleanians never say, “I went to the movies”, they say “I went to da show.”

SILVER DIME – A small coin of U.S. currency, worth ten cents. Always pronounced with the emphasis on the first syllable, <SIL-vah dime>, even though they haven’t been made of actual silver for over 35 years.

SUCK DA HEAD, SQUEEZE DA TIP – The technique for eating crawfish. If you’ve never done this, have someone demonstrate.

SUG – A term of endearment used primarily by Yat females. Pronounced <SHOOG> with a soft “oo” as in “book”. (I changed the spelling in the book to shug, so non-natives would know how to pronounce it.)

“THROW ME SOMETHIN, MISTA!” – The traditional (nay, required) request of a Mardi Gras paradegoer to a Mardi Gras parade rider, so that the rider will shower said paradegoer with cheap trinkets like beads, doubloons or cups (actually, the cups are highly coveted, more so than the doubloons are these days, apparently).

TURLET - Ya standard flushable porcelain waste disposal unit found in every bat’troom, referred to by English speakers as a “toilet”.

So there you have a primer in Yat. Fun, huh? Imagine this one here plunked down in the middle a all dat. A shock to my system. But I got used to it and picked up a few.

 

 

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I’m  excited about the pre-release buzz about Beloved Unmasked

Beloved Unmasked is a beautifully written historical romance. You can feel the streets of New Orleans, see the sights, and hear the sounds. (Cathy Brockman – MM Good Book Reviews)

When you want a historical you can really sink into and feel like you are there, this is the book to pick up. Really amazingly well done. A Recommended Read (Tina Brunelle – Redz World)

Beloved Unmasked has a whole lot packed into the pages. Brita Addams has certainly done her research about New Orleans. (Kazza – On the Top Down Under Reviews)

 

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Beloved Unmasked

 

Cherished One: Book One

A Tarnished novel

Blurb:

Born to a spiteful prostitute in Storyville, the red-light district in New Orleans, David comes into the world as Picayune, meaning “of little value,” or, as his mother reminds him, “nothing.” In the early 20th century brothels and clubs, his love of music sustains young Pic until a life-changing meeting places him on the road to respectability, and Pic reinvents himself as David Reid.

As David realizes happiness for the first time, conscription forces his friend and first love, Spencer Webb, into the Great War. While he pursues a law degree, letters from Spence connect David to his hopes for the future. After staggering news at war’s end, David must find a way to move forward. Under the tutelage of his benefactor, David’s career prospers, but specters from Storyville threaten all he’s worked so hard to achieve.

The past holds both pain and love. Will facing it head-on destroy David or give him everything he’s ever dared dream?

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So in my best Yat, y’all come back chere, and see what I got in stow fa ya next hour. Hows about some pitchers taken in Storyville? Y’all’d like dat? Show ya would. Pass back in a while.

Meanwhile, pass on by Dreamspinner for a copy of Beloved Unmasked. Dreamspinner has it on sale at 25% off through October 18.

Giveaway: Stop by my blog between October 16 and 23 for a series of posts on Storyville.  Leave a substantive comment (not “I’m in” or the like,) about the posts and on November 1, I’ll select the winner of a New Orleans-themed gift pack. Beloved Unmasked isn’t included in the giveaway.

 

Release Party for Brita Addams’ Beloved Unmasked

October 16, 2015

Beloved UnmaskedI’m Brita Addams, and I’d like to welcome you to the release Party for Beloved Unmasked. I’ll be here from Noon until five o’clock with posts about fun things to do with the book, New Orleans, and Storyville.

Each hour, I’ll give away a backlist book, Beloved Unmasked is not included. Your comments have to be more than “I’m in.” Let’s chat.

Beloved Unmasked has been a long time coming and I’m very excited to get it into readers’ hands. A year ago, I thought this book was going to be something completely different. I’ll tell you about that in my second post.

This is third Tarnished novel and the first in the Cherished One series. Why the new series within the Tarnished world? Well, because first, Beloved Unmasked takes place in New Orleans, where the other two are set in old Hollywood. But more than that, Cherished One will be a series about men who feel unworthy, who have had tough starts to life, had things done to them that leaves them leery of anything that makes them happy.

In Beloved Unmasked, David starts life as Picayune. No real name and no surname. His mother, a Storyville prostitute, is a bitter piece of work, who hates him and shows her disdain in ways that shape who Pic thinks he is, starting with his name. But he has something she doesn’t have, and that’s hope, which makes him vulnerable in a way she isn’t.

I intermingle my characters with real life personalities. Pic’s love of  music is nurtured by Joseph “King” Oliver, a famous New Orleans musician in the early 1900s. King was what people of the day called a professor, a musician who played piano. King, like Jelly Roll Morton and others, plied their trade in the brothels that lined Basin Street. Their job was to entertain the customers, while the ladies softened them up. Everybody won. The girl had the john tip the professor and the john got heaven in return.

While Pic doesn’t play at the brothel he grew up in, he carries his lessons with him. Music provides solace and joy for him. But music isn’t the only thing that keeps Pic going. He has a soft spot for his friend Spence, a male prostitute at Miss Gert’s. We meet Spence as he calls to Pic from his second story window. I can’t begin to tell you what a joy Spence was to write. To this day, my family knows what I mean when I say, “I’m channeling my inner Spence.”

Like many of my characters, Pic evolves over the course of the book. We see him grow, much as Jack Abadie did in Tarnished Gold, and as he grows, he blossoms. A secondary character, Emile Dauterive, a lawyer some years older, takes Pic under his wing, helps him change his name, and from there—well, you’ll have to read Beloved Unmasked to find out.

New Orleans is heartbeat of this book, much as the French Quarter (different than Storyville,) is the heartbeat of New Orleans. I love the city, having lived in the area for many years. There is no other city in the world with the uniqueness New Orleans has. The language, a mixture of English, Cajun French, and what the natives call Yat—as in Where y’at? is an experience not to be forgotten.

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Come back during my release party, and I’ll give you a taste of Yat. LOL

Giveaway: Stop by my blog between October 16 and 23 for a series of posts on Storyville. Leave a substantive comment about the post or the book (not “I’m in” or the like,) and on November 1, I’ll select the winner of a New Orleans-themed gift pack. Beloved Unmasked isn’t included in the giveaway.

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Here’s some of the pre-release buzz about Beloved Unmasked:

Beloved Unmasked is a beautifully written historical romance. You can feel the streets of New Orleans, see the sights, and hear the sounds. (Cathy Brockman – MM Good Book Reviews)

When you want a historical you can really sink into and feel like you are there, this is the book to pick up. Really amazingly well done. A Recommended Read (Tina Brunelle – Redz World)

Beloved Unmasked has a whole lot packed into the pages. Brita Addams has certainly done her research about New Orleans. (Kazza – On the Top Down Under Reviews)

I was delighted that I was asked to review Beloved before release. I really enjoyed the story. Brita is the only historical author who can suck me in early enough that I’ll read the entire book. :) (4 Stars – Brenda Cothern)

Absolutely amazing. (Lorraine Lesar - Threebooksovertherainbow.wordpress.com)

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Dreamspinner has Beloved Unmasked on sale until October 18, at 25% off. Buy now to get the great discount.

Beloved Unmasked

Cherished One: Book One
A Tarnished novel

Blurb:

Born to a spiteful prostitute in Storyville, the red-light district in New Orleans, David comes into the world as Picayune, meaning “of little value,” or, as his mother reminds him, “nothing.” In the early 20th century brothels and clubs, his love of music sustains young Pic until a life-changing meeting places him on the road to respectability, and Pic reinvents himself as David Reid.

As David realizes happiness for the first time, conscription forces his friend and first love, Spencer Webb, into the Great War. While he pursues a law degree, letters from Spence connect David to his hopes for the future. After staggering news at war’s end, David must find a way to move forward. Under the tutelage of his benefactor, David’s career prospers, but specters from Storyville threaten all he’s worked so hard to achieve.

The past holds both pain and love. Will facing it head-on destroy David or give him everything he’s ever dared dream?

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Next hour – What was the original book going to be about? And I’ll give you a taste of Yat.

Tricks is Out! Win a FREE autographed copy with Rick R. Reed

October 12, 2015

Tricks-400x600

I confess: the world of sex workers fascinates me.

And what fascinates me more is how love can flourish in such an environment. This was the question I posed to myself when writing TRICKS.

I also love the idea of an opposites-attract love story. What could be better, I wondered, than taking a male stripper and a kind of nerdy, straight-laced guy who hardly would ever even frequent a place where male strippers dance and…have them fall in love?

I based my stripper bar, Tricks, on an actual bar I went to once in a while back when I lived in Chicago called the Lucky Horseshoe (it’s still there, if you’re a Chicagoan or visiting, on Halsted, just south of Belmont Ave,). The Lucky Horseshoe was good sleazy fun with an endlessly rotating roster of young male dancers (and a mostly older clientele). The times I went in there, I was probably storing away the details for the romance novel I would one day write. Once I got beyond the tight pecs, firm asses, and bulging straps of the men on stage, the writer in me wondered if they ever met anyone engaging or special in their work. And, if they did, were they able to sustain a relationship? It’s an interesting question. Could you let your significant other go out night after night and strip down to almost nothing for strangers? Quit laughing! It’s a serious question! Could you allow him or her to be fondled by those same strangers for money? And, if you could, how would you make it work? My male dancer, Arliss, besides being super-hot, is also a real sweetheart. He’s deserving of love. But how would Sean, whom most of us would think of us as pretty conventional, answer those questions?

If ever the path to true love never did run smooth, TRICKS is one story that proves the old saying…in spades…or jockstraps.

BLURB

Tricks can mean many things: sex partners, deceptions, even magic—or maybe all three.

Arliss is a gorgeous young dancer at Tricks, the hottest club in Chicago’s Boystown. Sean is the classic nerd, out of place in Tricks, but nursing his wounds from a recent breakup. When the two spy each other, magic blooms.

But this opposites-attract tale does not run smooth. What happens when Arliss is approached by one of the biggest porn producers in the business? Can he make his dreams of stardom come true without throwing away the only real love he’s ever known? This question might not even matter if the mysterious producers realize their dark intentions.

WIN A COPY
To win a free autographed copy of TRICKS, simply comment below (leaving an e-mail address so we can get in touch if you win). And, just for fun, let me know: could you allow your significant other to work in a stripper bar? I will draw a winner from all entries submitted by October 19. Please note that this offer is only available for US residents (because of the prohibitive cost of foreign shipping). Those outside the US will win an ebook of TRICKS.

EXCERPT
Attired in a costume that would make the construction worker from the Village People look demure, Arliss turned in front of the mirror to ensure he was the perfect fantasy specimen of pornographic machismo. He was grateful he had added the angel wing tattoo to his back and the snakes that twisted around each bicep. And the one on his chest, the tiny heart with the name “Helena” in it, always brought a lump to his throat—or a splash of bile to the back of it, depending on his mood and how forgiving he felt. But now was not the time for being sentimental! Arliss was glad for the tattoos because they added a bit of manliness to his six foot two inch frame that held only 160 pounds in weight. He was what the older men at Tricks referred to as a twink and, thankfully, was a desirable commodity in some circles.

He set the cigarette down in a tin ashtray and took a swig of vodka. He could feel as much as hear the heavy bass of the techno music playing in the bar and knew that Antonio, a Puerto Rican dude with a shaved head and heavy stubble, was probably just about finished with his set, which meant his boxing ensemble cluttered the small stage.

Arliss would come out, dance briefly and flirtatiously with Antonio, and then have the stage to himself. He didn’t know how he did it, night after night, but somehow he managed. He had always been the shyest boy in Ruskin, Florida, where he had grown up. He remembered his hometown with no nostalgia, only with relief that he’d managed to escape its flat, charmless stretches, so unlike what most people thought of when they conjured up images of Florida. Ruskin had no coastline, no beaches, and no picture-postcard landscapes. If they could see me now…. Well, if they could see me now, they’d probably still call me a fag and try to beat the crap out of me, as they once did. Once again, my dear, now is not the time for sentimentality. He took another swig of vodka, draining the glass and feeling the warmth of the liquor as it spread through his chest and extremities. Showtime!

Arliss hurried to the door that separated the cramped dressing room from the bar proper. Tricks didn’t really have a stage, although the dancers liked to think of the bar upon which they danced as one. It was Friday night, and from the rise of conversation and laughter beneath the pounding electronica beat, it sounded as though they had a sizable crowd. He sucked in a breath, looked down at his perfectly smooth pale skin and six-pack abs, and told himself he was gorgeous.

“Don’t forget to smile, toots! You always look like some gloomy Gus out there!”

Leave it to Emmett Myers, owner of Tricks and Arliss’s boss, to try to unsettle him just before he went on stage.

Arliss flashed the man a big Farrah Fawcett smile. If the prissy older man with the pencil moustache recognized it as fake, he gave no indication.

“There! That’s what they like to see! For heaven’s sakes, you have to remember that if they think you’re having a good time, they’ll have a good time. And a good time means more money for all of us.”

Arliss listened as the song wound down, morphing into yet another bass beat that signaled him it was time to stride out through the door, amble across the crowded room, ignore the covert feels and pinches he got as he made his way to the bar, and climb up on it to join Antonio in front of the crowd.

This moment, just before he went out, was always almost surreal. There was a paradoxical rush of nerves that made him feel both nauseated and tingly with electric anticipation. He felt as though he became someone else when he opened that door, or more properly, that his everyday world changed when he opened it. It was kind of like when Dorothy opened the door to Oz and saw the hyper colors of Munchkinland. But instead of munchkins and good witches who descended in translucent bubbles, his world was populated with bitter old queens, alcoholics, and trolls trying to put some oomph into their libidos by staring at boys young enough to be their sons—and in many cases, grandsons.

“Get out there, gorgeous! Shake your groove thing!” Emmett cackled and placed a hand on Arliss’s back to propel him forward.

Just as much to get the hand off his back as to get to the stage, Arliss threw open the door, plastered on a big smile, threw his shoulders back, and strode through the crowd, keeping his eye on the narrow strip of bar that would, for the next fifteen minutes, be his stage.

BUY
Dreamspinner ebook
Dreamspinner paperback

Also available at Amazon, AllRomance, and other fine booksellers.

NOH8Rick

Rick R. Reed BIOGRAPHY
Rick R. Reed is all about exploring the romantic entanglements of gay men in contemporary, realistic settings. While his stories often contain elements of suspense, mystery and the paranormal, his focus ultimately returns to the power of love. He is the author of dozens of published novels, novellas, and short stories. He is a three-time EPIC eBook Award winner (for Caregiver, Orientation and The Blue Moon Cafe). Raining Men and Caregiver have both won the Rainbow Award for gay fiction.  Lambda Literary Review has called him, “a writer that doesn’t disappoint.” Rick lives in Seattle with his husband and a very spoiled Boston terrier. He is forever “at work on another novel.”

Web: http://www.rickrreed.com
Blog: http://rickrreedreality.blogspot.com/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/rickrreedbooks
Twitter: www.twitter.com/rickrreed
E-mail: jimmyfels@gmail.com

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Love and Fear with L.J. LaBarthe – Post + Giveaway

October 2, 2015

LoveandFear

Hello everyone, I’m L. J. LaBarthe and I’m here to talk about my new release, “A Candle in the Sun.”

 

This book is the final book in my series, “The Archangel Chronicles.” It’s a little bittersweet for me, because it is the last book and it’s the end of working with these characters who have occupied much of my time and my brain. I have loved every moment of working on this series and I hope that readers have enjoyed it as much as I have.

 

“A Candle in the Sun” was conceived along with the previous two books just prior to my moving house. I wrote the book while I was in the middle of packing boxes and let me tell you, there’s nothing more exhausting than packing all the things you own when you want to get back to a book! I had the first draft down when I moved, and then when I was in my new home, I discovered something horrifying, nay, terrifying and beyond any disaster I can describe.

 

I had no internet.

 

This was the case for about six weeks and it was because I live in a valley and our cable/fiber network here in Australia isn’t that great. My ISP had to put an antenna on the roof of the place, and of course they couldn’t do that while it was raining and wet. And what happened in the first six weeks of writing? If you guessed that it rained and wet, you are spot on. It was incredibly frustrating because I needed to check things, and I had edits to do and it was just one of those times you want to bang your head on the wall and scream. Thankfully, once the internet was connected, I could get back into things but not having the internet right there at my fingertips made me realize just how much I relied on it for research.

 

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The characters in the book rely on the internet as well—Max, the hacker character, provides a lot of information to lovers Gabriel and Michael and to their allies. Archangels they might be, but the two of them are not well versed in the ways of the internet, and their frustration was quite easy to relate to once I had no internet myself!

 

I’d always intended this book to be the end of this “chapter” if you will for the couples in the series. Michael and Gabriel are together, as are Raziel and Uriel, Adramelek and Lucifer, Baxter and Liam, and many others. They go through many ups and downs, some supernatural and paranormal, some not. Baxter has paranoias that Liam may not love him; Michael wonders why Gabriel stays with him when Michael thinks he himself is not that desirable; Adramelek can’t believe his luck that Lucifer wants him; Raziel fears that Uriel may get bored with him. And in between all of this is a conspiracy to destroy all non-Earth life—angels, demons, shifters, monsters—by a group of fearful, greedy humans.

 

Love and fear are two great motivators. The main characters are motivated by both—the love they have for each other in their romantic relationships, and for their nearest and dearest and the fear they have that they will be forever banished from the place that they’ve called home or treated as home for as long as they can remember. None of them want to give that up, and none of them want to lose the simple things that I think all of us want: freedom to live in peace, freedom to love and freedom to live without fear.

 

I’m doing a giveaway of “A Candle in the Sun.” To win a copy, leave a comment answering the following question: Name one of the couples listed above and what their relationship fears or worries are.

 

A lot of the action takes place in country Montana, which, the internet tells me, is absolutely beautiful. If you had to pick a place that was picturesque and good for a battle between the forces of good and evil, where would you choose?

 

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There are a lot of characters in this book as in the preceding eight, but there is also a dramatis personae and I hope that I’ve done them all as much justice as they deserve. This series has been a labor of love for the last several years, now is time for me to move on. I’m making notes for a planned vampire detective quartet, and have a little book of many notes for other novels that I’m sure will end up being written. (I hope!)

 

Thanks for joining me today, and once again, please join in the conversation and giveaway.

 

Cheerio from Australia,

 

L. J. LaBarthe.

Check out A Candle in the Sun and the Archangel Chronicles!

 

Pictures of the elk rut

September 30, 2015

Okay folks, I think this is the last post. We’re running a bit late and by the time I get home, it’ll be too late to wrap this up. I hope everyone has enjoyed getting to know a bit more about the three hot guys of “The Kachina Job” as well as a little insight into their alternate shapes. To close this out, I’m going to share some brand new pictures that I took this afternoon while we were out stalking elk in Rocky Mountain National Park. Even when I’m out hunting with a camera, it triggers that primal hunter inside me and gets the blood going.

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The crowds are less during the week than on the weekend…just image what a mess this would be in a couple of days.

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This little blue bird has got a major attitude about him. I can just imagine him getting up in someone’s face, snapping his feathers and throwing shade.

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These two were determined to chase each other around for a while. Lots of bugling and showing off.

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Just a bit of bugling.

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Couldn’t resist the trees in the background. Gotta love the changing aspens.

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A young guy still wet from digging in the creek.

So folks, thanks for stopping by and finding out about “The Kachina Job” and getting a look at fall in Colorado. I’ll check the comments on the previous post later and pick a winner for the free e-book. I also need to ask people’s patience with my pictures. These are fresh out of the camera and haven’t had any editing, and we all know that writers are only as good as their editors.

In Parting, here’s the buy link for “The Kachina “ now go out and prowl around a bit.

Thanks,

A.J. Marcus

Back Country exploration post and giveaway with A.J. Marcus

September 30, 2015

So we’re over halfway through with this round of the blog take over for the release of “The Kachina Job”. Normally I do these blog post days sitting at my computer at the house, posting interesting things and being really engaging folks. Today we’re doing things a little different. I’m out exploring Estes Park Colorado and Rocky Mountain National Park. We drove a couple of hours for the elk rut. It’s our second trip up this year, the first one was rather lack luster and this one is still a bit of a disappointment compared to previous years.

Rocky Mountain National Park, RMNP, is one of the best spots around for wildlife viewing. Today we saw a few elk, some blue birds and mule deer. The action with the elk herds was low. Just a few big bulls starting to gather harems. Several times we thought we were about to have some action between the bulls, and they broke it off before things got interesting.

At one point we had a young bull…probably 3 years old or so based on his size and weak bugling. He started walking toward a spot where an older bull had gathered a dozen or so cows. The big bull walked a few steps toward him, bugled, marked territory for a second and the young guy turned and walked away. The only plus to him walking away was that he came closer and gave us the opportunity to get some better shots.

As usual during rut, the elk were close enough to the roads that if you were lucky and parked close enough you didn’t have to walk far…the problem that’s often encountered is there are more people than elk. At one point we had to park about half a mile a way and hike in to the hot spot where other photographers were set up snapping pictures like crazy.

I’ve done some hiking in the area where I envision Read Peak, New Mexico. It’s a much different environment from what I went through today. Coyotes, mule deer, mountain lion and jack rabbits abound…(jack rabbits..abounding…) okay, I’ll go on. In a lot of little towns, be they mountain, desert or whatever, the residents are more accustomed to encounters with nature than folks in the big city have had.  Me personally, I think this makes life fun and exciting. I love sitting at my computer, looking out the window and seeing deer, coyotes, goshawks and more wander through the yard.

With the predatory shifters, they embrace nature and thrill in the hunt. I can connect with the idea of that. Shifters touch on our more primitive selves and I think that’s where the allure of them comes from. The call to that part of our brains that need to break free of the urban jungle that so many of us are trapped in.

Now here’s our contest. Leave me a comment and tell me about any wild animal encounters you’ve had, and or the thing that really attracts you to shifters. In a couple hours I’ll figure out a random comment to get an e-copy of “The Kachina Job” So leave me comments.

In the next post, if I can convince my camera to give up some good pictures, I’ll post them to show how my afternoon has gone.

Dangerous, but wise? with A.J. Marcus

September 30, 2015

Dangerous, but wise?

This time we’re going to take a look at our owl shifter, Shannon O’Flaherty. Personally, I like Shannon better than the other two…don’t tell them that, we’re not supposed to play favorites. Shannon is the sheriff of Red Peak, New Mexico. He moved away from Albuquerque after a disastrous breakup. When the opportunity came along for a raise and a move, he jumped on the chance. Shannon is also an enforcer in the paranormal world. He struggles to keep the regular humans from discovering that there really are things that go bump in the night. When he answers an alarm call at one of the local residences and spies a mountain lion running off through the desert night with a backpack on, he realizes the situation calls for his enforcer position and not just his sheriff’s badge. As the situation turns out to not be a cut and dried one, he adapts quickly but is very surprised when he bonds to first Daniel, then finds Phillip fitting into their lives as well.

Shannon is a fairly stable and straightforward guy. Having the two cat shifters around upsets his life in ways he could never dream of, but he quickly finds that he welcomes the change and chaos the two men bring to his mostly quiet existence. The biggest question is if his deputy will handle things in a civilized manner, or will she shoot first and ask questions later.

Just below the surface of Shannon’s human form hovers the deadly talons of an eagle owl. Owls are found in every environment in the world, save for Antarctica. The eagle owls are the largest of the owls. Here in North America, we only have one species of eagle owl, the great horned owl. Great horned owls are the classic hoot owl. Not many people actually see them, or even know where they despite the fact there are a ton of them living in the cities around us. Great horned owls occupy the same ecological niche as red tailed hawks. It’s a fairly safe bet that if you see red tailed hawks during the day, there are great horned owls at night. They and the other owls go to great lengths to make sure the rodent populations don’t grow out of control.

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Now, let’s see how Shannon feels about things:

 

He laughed again. It felt good to laugh. Until that moment, he didn’t realize he hadn’t been doing much of that recently. “Elisa, you do have a way with words. Okay, as long as it stays fun, I’ll keep them around, if they want to be kept around.”

“So you haven’t run background checks on them yet, then? It might be a good idea. Help you find out if either one of them is keeping anything from you that could come back to bite you.”

She didn’t know about his very powerful hearing and how hard it was for people to lie to him. “No, I haven’t run background checks on them. I’m trusting them to be honest right now. I’m not you. I don’t have to know everything about everyone in my life.”

“Yeah, but those background checks can come in handy. They kept me from falling in with that sexy polygamist last year, or that biker who was wanted for armed robbery a few months ago.”

“I’d almost forgotten about those guys,” Shannon lied. He remembered all of her boyfriends. “You catch more criminals in your bed than we do in the streets. Maybe we should hang a sign on your porch to let them all know they should stop by for the night. You can become the new criminal-trap motel. Criminals check in, but they always leave in cuffs.”

So have any of you encountered owls in your journey through our world?

We’ll be back here in a little while with a few questions and a give away.

 

A Most Dangerous Cat with A.J. Marcus

September 30, 2015

A Most Dangerous Cat

We’re back with another shifter. Daniel Hernandez is a jaguar shifter who’s led a less than savory life up until he meets Phillip and Shannon. Daniel embraces the power that comes with his jaguar. He’s made his living doing jobs of various kinds for the highest bidder. He does care what the job is, as long as it pays well. He’s seeking to move up in the world and so he takes the job to steal the wolf kachina when it comes his way. It sounds like an easy job, and would’ve been if Phillip had beat him to the house.

As far as his love life goes, Daniel treats it like he does the rest of his life, fast and easy. He’s not above screwing his way in and out of various situations as long as he doesn‘t form any lasting ties to the people he’s screwing. Sex for Daniel is loose and just a way to get what he wants. He’s very surprised when Sex with Phillip and Shannon turns out to be more than just a little fling.

Inside Daniel resided, pound for pound, the most powerful big cat in the world. Jaguars might be the third largest big cat, only African lions and tigers are larger, but jaguars are the more powerful and dangerous cat. Like the cougars, jaguars are perfectly suited for their environment which extends from the desert Southwest through the jungles of South America. Like most cats the jaguar is an extreme opportunist. Its prey ranges from large hoofed stock to birds, and even reptiles. Since jaguars love swimming, they’ll often take on caimans and other crocodilians that they encounter in the tropical rivers and streams.

Jaguars often come into contact with humans as their territory shrinks and the human world expands. Although jaguars can do incredible amounts of damage to humans, any conflict with man ultimately ends up to the determent of the cats. Luckily there are still vast stretches of rainforest and desert for the jaguars to call home.

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Let’s take a look at a scene from Daniel’s POV.

Seconds later Daniel closed the bedroom door. He didn’t bother turning on the light as he pulled out his cell phone. He hit Two and Send. When he lay back on the bed, Shannon’s musky scent engulfed him like a worn, familiar comfortable blanket.

The call was answered on the second ring. “Daniel, where are you? Are you in trouble? I know something’s wrong.”

“Aunt Louisa, it’s good to hear your voice. I’m fine. Well, not really. I need to ask you some questions.”

“Questions? What kind of questions do you have? I can’t get you out of trouble again. I don’t have the cash.”

Daniel shook his head. She knew she was the first person he called when he was in trouble. And she always said she didn’t have the money to save his ass, but she never failed to save him, no matter how bad things were. “I don’t need cash. I’m not in jail or anything. Yeah, a job went bad, but I’m working through that. Some other stuff has happened, and I need some advice. I’ve met somebody, and I can’t stop thinking about him. I’m not even acting like a rude-ass punk around him. It’s like he’s family already.”

Thanks to his sensitive hearing, he could pick up the sound of her long lacquered nails tapping on the Formica tabletop in her kitchen. “Is he a jaguar like you are?”

“He’s a wer, but not a jaguar.”

“What is he?”

“An owl.” Daniel smiled at the vision of Shannon flying off into the night.

“An owl? Where on earth did you find a wereowl?”

“Northern New Mexico, but where isn’t important. Why is my attitude changing?”

More silence except for the tapping, which stopped a second or so before she spoke again. “Is the attitude change just when he’s around, or is it affecting you with everyone?”

Daniel thought about it for a moment. He hadn’t even hurt Phillip at the idea of him flirting with Shannon. “At first it was just around him, but it’s spreading.”

“If I know you, the two of you have already had sex.”

“Yeah. I mean, not all the way, but yeah.” He loved his aunt, and they had a great relationship, but he wasn’t about to actually split hairs about a blow job versus an ass pounding.

“It sounds like you might be bonding to him. A mate bond is unusual cross-species like that, especially two very different species like jaguar and owl. Now if he was something like a mountain lion, the chances would be a lot more possible.”

Daniel rolled his eyes, then stared up at the dark ceiling. Do I really want to bond to Shannon? He’s cool and all, really sexy, but can I see myself with a police officer for the rest of my life? “How can I tell for sure?”

“If you were close by me, I’d tell you to come over and let me take a look at the two of you, but no, you have to be all the way across the state when you call your dear auntie for help in this matter.”

“Aunt Louisa, how can I tell if we’re bonding?” He tried not to sound too impatient.

“You didn’t swear at me, my darling Daniel. Even from here I can tell a change in you. Look within yourself, and see what you find there. Talk to your cat and listen to him. Your cat will know for sure, even if you don’t.”

 

Check back in a little while and learn a bit about Shannon, find out what makes him tick.

The Not-so Cowardly Mountain Lion with A.J. Marcus

September 30, 2015

These next couple of posts, we’ll explore different characters in “The Kachina Job” and the animals inside them. The first character we meet in the book is Phillip Two Hands, he’s a young Navaho Indian who has become a thief and is hired to steal a really ugly wolf kachina. At 25, Phillip still lives on the reservation with his grandparents who haven’t bothered to teach him much about being a Mountain Lion shifter after his parents were killed by hunters. Phillip is desperate to fit in somewhere, after he was dumped by the boyfriend who taught him to be a thief, he’s been making a living stealing things while he waits for something to come along and lead him down his life’s calling. Without giving too much away, he finds it by the end of the book.

The cat inside Phillip is an interesting one. Mountain lions range across the Americas, from the Arctic Circle down to the tip of South America. They are highly adaptable cats and in some parts of their range are considered nuisance animals. In other parts, like the south end of Florida, the Florida panther, is highly endangered. Mountain lions are known by many names, mountain lions, puma, cougar, catamount, and panther are the main ones.

In the mountains and the desert areas, the cat’s tawny coat is perfect camouflage for it to blend into its surrounds. This natural ability to blend makes it very hard to spot a mountain lion. Here in Colorado, we say that if you see a mountain lion, it’s been watching you for quite some time. You can live in the mountains for years and never see them. Our neighbors have spotted them on our place, but we’ve never seen more than the very rare paw print. It’s both scary and cool at the same time.

Like all cats, mountain lions prey on anything they can get their teeth and claws into. They are supremely opportunistic. Their favorite meal, is deer. One of the big reasons that people are encouraged to not feed deer is that it attracts mountain lions. This can be detrimental to both the cat and the people. If you actually get to see a mountain lion in the wild, consider yourself lucky and if possible, take lots of pictures.

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This is Tawney, one of the mountain lions that lives at CARE.

 

Now, let’s have a short scene from Phillip’s POV:

Phillip Twohands made his way quietly through the large dog door. Easing into the mudroom, he let the plastic flap trail along his backpack and slowly lowered his tail so that no sound betrayed his passage. I hope my information is right and the family’s out, he thought, moving from the mudroom into the kitchen. The whole place smelled overly clean, but beyond some old food, there were no recent scents of people or dogs. He relaxed.

The kitchen was as expensively outfitted as the rest of the place. High-end stainless steel appliances sat among black marble countertops. The black marble was also on the floor tiles that muffled his padded footfalls. Week-old pizza was the only thing that registered on his sense of smell, other than the recent use of ammonia cleaners.

From the kitchen he headed to the living room. The black tiles gave way to mahogany hardwood. Phillip stayed silent as he moved across the wood. His claws were retracted, and the heavy pads of his feet didn’t make a sound as he walked to the display cabinet next to the massive stone fireplace. Just as the information said, the shelves behind the glass held a selection of Hopi kachinas.

He quickly spotted the one that had a wolf’s head with real wolf fur around the neck. He shivered. This has to be the ugliest kachina I’ve ever seen. But I’m not being paid to be an art critic. I’m being paid to steal this thing and get it back to Francis Mendoza. I still don’t know why he couldn’t just send a member of his pack for it.

Phillip turned from the display case and looked around the living room. He shook his head. No obvious cameras. With all the ones outside, I’m surprised by that.

Taking a deep centering breath, Phillip willed himself to drop his puma form and become human. The wood floor was colder on his bare feet than it had been on his paws. The air conditioner blew cold air that raised goose pimples on his arms. He wondered why they had to keep things so cold in the rich houses.

He shivered as he took his backpack off and opened it. The soft silk cloth he’d been given to transport the thing unfolded easily in his hands. Phillip hung it over his arm as he pulled on the display case door. It didn’t budge. He glared at it. Just my luck. I knew this was going too easily. I bet he’s got the key on him too.

After setting the backpack on the floor in front of the case, then draping the silk over it so he could still access the side pocket, he pulled out a lockpicking kit. He selected two picks and made short work of the lock.

As he opened the case, an alarm rang out, and every light in the house came on. “Shit!”

Phillip grabbed the wolf-headed kachina and quickly wrapped it in the silk. He still had plenty of room in the backpack, so he grabbed a few of the other figures as well but didn’t bother wrapping them. Even as he slipped the backpack over his shoulders and snapped its waistband shut, he shifted back to his puma form.

Once again on four paws, Phillip ran for the dog door. Every few feet, the sound of a well-hidden still camera clicking was louder than the alarm. He didn’t care how he’d managed to miss it previously. How will they be able to track a mountain lion with a backpack on? And who would believe them anyway? Lions don’t wear backpacks and break into houses to steal things.

Phillip made it almost all the way across the side yard and to the safety of the desert when a loud roar overpowered the alarms from the house. The sound caused him to stumble. Who the hell is that?

Something moved from behind a large rock where the manicured lawn gave way to desert scrub. Phillip tried to dodge, but it caught him in the hip and spun him around as he scrambled to stay on his feet.

The bright lights from the house and porch momentarily blinded him. Phillip blinked. A large sleek silhouette inserted itself between him and the house. It was a huge cat, nearly twice his size.

 

I’ll be back in a bit and we’ll talk about Daniel Hernandez, our Jaguar, until then, tell what you think about mountain lions. Have you had any encounters with them in the past, either in the wild, or in zoos, or nature centers? They are one of the cats that really touch my soul.