Valley of Shadows First Excerpt

July 23, 2010

Here’s the first excerpt from Valley of Shadows I’ll be sharing with you this evening.  Hope you enjoy!

I ARRIVE at the top of the grand front staircase, taking a moment to admire the view down its sinuous, imposing length. With definite emphasis on the length. I love this gleaming oak behemoth. Who knows how many ancient acres of stately, now deceased oaks were deforested so I could one day enjoy such an elegant and stately way to convey myself from floor to floor.

I’m standing on a shitload of arboreal corpses.

You know what, I spend entirely too much time dialoguing with the dead. It might be making me strange.

I’ll leave off contemplating my eccentricities and go downstairs. If I start now I’ll make it all the way to the foyer by lunchtime.

Yeah, this place is pretty ginormous, absurdly oversized for one person, but that’s a large part of why I like it so much. There’s just so much to do and see in here. Hours of entertainment walking from room to room. I fixed it up and modernized the plumbing and wiring, but I tried to keep the essential quirky character of the place intact. It came with a few original inhabitants and several residual imprints on the ether scattered here and there, but nothing I couldn’t handle. Couple of crossovers and a thorough psychic house-cleaning later, and we’re all good now.

But not entirely alone, or so it would seem. I wasn’t here long when I discovered the house also had an additional, unadvertised extra. It came not only furnished, but with a resident domestic. At least, she used to live here. Mrs. Potts, bless her Alzheimer-ized old head. Thirty years she ran this place for the woman who last owned it. Until the disease reduced poor Mrs. P. to a vacuous but completely innocuous shell of herself.

And speaking of the last owner, when I took possession, I was really hoping Jemima Jones would still be here so I could ask her why she left The Boarding House to me. At least, that’s what the sign I inherited along with the house proclaimed the former Birchwood Manor was redubbed when she put it into service as a bed and breakfast.

Pehaps it was the entertainment value inherent in the irony of that appellation. Given mine, that is. Joyce James? James Joyce? The Boarding House? I certainly got a hoot out of it. So much so, I repainted the sign and rehung it.

Hey, it makes me laugh. Not a lot does, these days.

And here comes Mrs. Potts now, teetering on shuffly little old lady feet across the expensive imported Italian tiles that comprise the stunning mosaics splayed out all over the foyer floor.

Sometimes she slips through the casual constraints of the old folks‟ home three streets over to somehow always make her way here. She’s harmless, hardly ever breaks anything, and is occasionally lucid enough to bake the most amazing blueberry muffins you’ve ever tasted. I’ll bet in her prime she was a culinary force truly to be reckoned with.

And here she is, once again, some part of the woman she was briefly resurrected and drawn here by no longer binding ties of responsibility and obligation. The disease retired her a decade ago, but she doesn’t know that. She doesn’t know much anymore, bless her, and yet her sparse remaining fragments periodically shine through the confusion obscuring what’s left of her. Putting together what little remains leaves me with a tantalizing personality puzzle. I wish I’d known her when she was younger. But that will never happen. That woman is mostly dead and gone. Although the body is still very much living. It’s sad to see what’s left of her walking about like this, literally a living ghost.

I’d better let her keepers know she’s slipped their surly bonds once more. They probably haven’t even missed her yet.

I commence my descent and pull out my cell to make the call. I’ve got The Shady Rest Retirement Home on speed dial. They pick up on the first ring.

“Cal is on his way, Mr. James,” Virginia’s resigned voice informs me before I can get a word out.

Oh, so I was wrong. Someone’s paying attention today. Excellent.

“Thanks, Virginia.”

“At least we always know where to find her.”

“Yeah, thank goodness for that.”

Not the first time we’ve had this conversation.

I re-holster my cell and hit the main floor. Mrs. Potts seems oblivious to my presence and intent on plotting a course for the kitchen, although her trajectory could change at any moment. She could just as easily end up in Albuquerque as anywhere in my house. At first I think she’s going to teeter on by without so much as a “Who the heck are you again?”, but then her birdlike head floats around on her scrawny neck and she gives me a vague, inscrutable smile.

“Good morning, Khnumhotep,” she quavers and nods knowingly.

She always calls me that. It’s a no-brainer it’s Egyptian, so I tried Googling it and actually got a hit. Apparently Khnumhotep was the name of one of the two male occupants of a tomb in Saqqara who may or may not have been Ancient Egypt’s first gay couple on record. The archaeological jury is still out on their orientation. And they were manicurists. Some things never change. Anyway, that’s the origin of the name, but why she insists on applying it to me—bit of a mystery. My background is strictly Anglo-Saxon, but I’ve had many other ethnic origins erroneously attributed to me because of my coloring. “Dusky” is a descriptor I’ve heard more than once. But being taken for a possibly gay ancient Egyptian hairdresser, or whatever, is one for the books. In an attempt to track down where this nickname—and Mrs. P.—is coming from, I’ve asked around, attempting to find out if either Mrs. Potts or Jemima Jones had any Egyptian inclinations, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Nothing in the remaining effects in the house would lead one to that conclusion, either. Maybe it’s nothing more than her memory dredging up something randomly whimsical to label me with. The way her mind is now, it’s really hard to say.

“I’m just on my way to feed the cat,” she wispily warbles.

That’s nice. Would be even better if I had one.

I’ll leave her to it, then. Satisfying the nutritional requirements of nonexistent felines should keep her out of trouble until Cal comes to collect her. Me, I’m outta here to see to mine.

Valley of Shadows Release Party!

July 23, 2010

Hello!  **bamf, bamf**   Is this thing on?

Greetings and welcome to my very first ever Virtual Release Party for my debut novel Valley of Shadows.  I’m pretty excited to be here, and glad to see you too.  Over the course of the next four or so hours I’ll be posting some excerpts, answering questions if you got’ em, and giving away a free copy of the Valley of Shadows ebook.  Oh, and of course taking your personalization requests for the Virtual Book Signing.

To enter the contest, simply leave a comment here.  At the conclusion of the festivities I will post the name of the winner of the free ebook on my blog.  To get your book signed, post a comment to the previous post, with your order number and what you would like me to write in your book.

Thanks for stopping by, and now, let’s party!

Phoenix Emrys

Valley of Shadows by Phoenix Emrys

July 23, 2010

Valley of Shadows by Phoenix Emrys is now available in paperback and eBook.

Ellery James, a celebrated author of historical romances, shuns the spotlight, preferring the solitude of his small town sanctuary to risking media scrutiny. He harbors a closely guarded secret that is not only the bane of his existence, but the source and inspiration of his bestsellers.

His strictly proscribed existence goes south and sideways when the grimly dangerous Boone Dantrell blazes into Ellery’s life. Ellery is alarmed to experience a tentative but undeniable connection to the haunted, mysterious stranger with secrets of his own, and the burgeoning attraction between them grows almost as swiftly as the danger dogging Boone.

They’ve barely met before their secrets and worlds collide, thrusting them both into unimaginable peril. The battle they must wage together spans this world—and the next—and losing it could cost them not only their lives, but their very souls.

Free Extras!

July 22, 2010

When I first started writing, I had no idea how long a book ‘should’ be, and I wasn’t really thinking of getting published, so I didn’t worry about how everything would fit together.  Much later, I find myself with a two-book series (Dark Horse and Out of the Darkness, due out August 9) and rather a lot of extras from the same ‘verse.

If you enjoyed Dark Horse, or if you’d like to visit the ‘verse for free before you decide to buy, I’ve got the stories posted at my blog.  There’s:

Sometimes You Just Know” – novella length, telling the early story of Dan and Justin.  I wouldn’t recommend reading this if you haven’t read Dark Horse yet…

Young Dan – Texas” – short story, and written in second person as an experiment – you may like it, you may not, but if you enjoyed getting to know Dan in Dark Horse, you might want to read more about his background.

Jeff and Evan – The Beginning” – short story – another pretty obvious title.  Before Dan came along, Jeff and Evan had their own challenges.

There are two more excerpts, one short story and one novella-length, but they come after the events of Out of the Darkness, so I’ll hold off on those until after August 9th.

I hope you enjoy these little extras!

Get a signed copy of Valley of Shadows!

July 22, 2010

Purchase a signed copy of Valley of Shadows by Phoenix Emrys and leave a note on this post with any personalization request and your order number. Phoenix will personalize your book before it’s shipped to you!

Breaking Limits by Nicki Bennett and Ariel Tachna

July 21, 2010

Breaking Limits by Nicki Bennett and Ariel Tachna is now available in eBook.

Exploring Limits Series Book Four

Just when castmates Jonathan Braedon, Devon Aldridge, and Kit Webster think they’ve found a balance in their three-sided relationship, a specter from Devon’s past returns to haunt him. The Dom who taught Devon about BDSM represents everything about the scene Devon fears, and he’s now on the Camelot set with every intention of breaking up the lovers, reclaiming his sub, and leaving chaos in his wake.

Lilac House by Jay Starre

July 21, 2010

Lilac House by Jay Starre is now available in eBook.

When Jay’s cousin took him up the mountain to Lilac House, Jay didn’t think he would ever see something more beautiful than the majestic, breathtaking landscape. Then he met Ryan, and from then on, his heart was lost… both to the mountain and to the man.

Beached Hearts by Scarlet Blackwell

July 21, 2010

Beached Hearts by Scarlet Blackwell is now available in eBook.

Inspector Conor Kelly’s heart broke and his life fell into disarray seven years ago when his father disowned him and his lover Liam left him. Now Conor is fighting both old, lingering pain and a new, fierce attraction to Eli Sanders, a marine biologist—just like Liam—who is only in Ireland for a short time to study the unfortunate death of a whale. Conor will have to find the courage to face the demons of his past, because if he lets Eli go without making his feelings plain, it may very well be Conor’s last chance at love.

Crook by Michael Gouda

July 19, 2010

Crook by Michael Gouda is now available in paperback and eBook.

Young Ned Fickler’s life is one of misadventure. The house he robs belongs to a policeman… a handsome one at that. The car he steals belongs to the boss of the neighborhood’s shadiest operations… and carries a nasty surprise in the trunk. His best friend and partner-in-crime, Colly, tends to fly off the handle at the slightest provocation… and now he’s got a gun. It isn’t easy being young, poor, black, an aspiring criminal, and—Ned finally figures out—gay.

Soon Ned’s juggling not just one, but two boyfriends: Jason, the cop whose house he robbed, and Mark, a university student he picked up hitchhiking… and neither knows about the other. Lies pile up on lies and the hits keep coming when the crime boss hires Ned as part of a crew to steal artwork and bullion. It’s all a little much for poor Ned, especially when he’s trying to spare his nosy mother, who desperately wants to believe her wayward son is still “a good boy.”

Tapestry for Love by Rayne Auster

July 16, 2010

Tapestry for Love by Rayne Auster is now available in paperback and eBook.

Aislinn is an immortal dream spinner, tasked with weaving tapestries to define the dreams of mortals—but he has forgotten how to dream for himself. The drudgery of his life changes when he is asked to spin a companion into mortal Keith Wilcox’s dreams. But Aislinn makes a critical mistake: he accidentally spins himself into Keith’s tapestry, making the dream unobtainable.

As his punishment Aislinn is sent to the mortal world, and he’s blinded-sided when Keith reminds him of the lover torn from him by betrayal and murder. Now Aislinn’s new life is about more than making Keith’s dream possible; it’s about rediscovering the meaning of dreaming and racing against time and death to recapture a love lost more than a millennium ago.