City Falcon Release Day – Falconry History and Trivia Quiz

August 26, 2011

When I first mentioned to a friend of mine that I was  writing a contemporary novel about a falconer, she was like “Huh, what? I thought falconry was something they did back in the Dark Ages. You’re doing a time travel thing, aren’t you?” (obviously she didn’t know me very well…)

Okay, to list “hawking” as one’s hobby on a facebook profile may look a bit odd, but you can trust me – the ancient art and sport of hunting with birds of prey is very much alive these days.  For example, in the United States there are an estimated 4000 active falconers with roughly 5000 birds; in other countries, the figures are much higher, namely in the Middle Eastern regions.

Even though professionals like “my” falconer may be the exception today, there are people all over the world who still make a living out of their birds. Modern falconers are environmentalists, scientists, farmers, hunters, performers or simply ordinary people who dedicate a big portion of their spare time to the care and handling of those amazing animals – simply for the joy of seeing them fly.

Falconry is estimated to date back as early as 3000 BC in the steppe regions of Asia; the first physical evidence are Assyrian bas-reliefs from the 9th century BC. While in those early days hunting with raptors was certainly more a necessity than a sport, much like it is until today in some regions of Mongolia and the Middle East, falconry became a popular sport and pastime in Western Europe between 500 and 1600 AD, much like golf is today. It was so common that almost any given historical figure of this time period had something to do with falconry.

No wonder that something this popular took an influence on the general population, even if it were mostly the members of nobility who had the means and time to engage in this exclusive sport.  But would you guess that falconry-related terms and sayings have stood the test of time and are still alive in modern English? If you don’t believe me, take the quiz below. (and win a signed paperback copy or a free ebook copy of City Falcon or any one other ebook of your choice from Dreamspinner’s catalogue if you get it right – the winners will be chosen randomly among all correct answers; winner’s names will be posted next week here on the blog and on my goodreads blog). You can mail your answers  to

Do you know…

1. A word meaning “deceived” that comes from a common pratice to calm falcons: a) beguiled, b) hoodwinked, c) bamboozled, d) double-crossed

2. A word meaning “to entice”  that comes from a training practice for falcons (one word)

3. A phrase that mean “finished with due to frustration”, originally applied to a falcon who had just eaten and didn’t feel like hunting (two words)

4. A word for “alcoholic beverage” that was originally used to describe a falcon’s way of drinking: a) hooch, b)booze, c) toddy, d) tipple

5. An expression for “overeat” that comes from watching falcons eat their prey: a) stuff, b) binge, c) gorge, d) cram

6. Which Toyota model was named after a male falcon? a) Prius, b) Tercel, c) Camry, d)Yaris

7. What do Arabic falcon lovers appreciate most in their falcons? What do they pay the highest prizes for? a) sound health b) amazing hunting skills c) flawless pedigree d) white feathering

Happy playing everybody!

City Falcon Release Day – Excerpt #1 and some Recipes

August 26, 2011

This scene takes place at Falcon Station. Earlier, Mark and Hunter had argued about fastfood, which Mark mostly lives off and Hunter despises.
To get his point across, Hunter cooked an Arabian style dinner for Mark and Greg.

The falconers talked shop while they ate. Greg kept rustling among the papers he had thrown to the floor earlier, liberally dotting them with grease spots while discussing things with Hunter that were mostly Greek to Mark. It didn’t bother him. He let their conversation wash over him while he savored the best food he’d had in forever. No wonder Hunter didn’t care for burgers. Mark closed his eyes, chasing a particular aroma which reminded him of… oh, of how Hunter’s skin tasted right behind his…

A chuckle brought him back to the present. “Seems to me you like Hunter’s cooking, Mark,” Greg said. “Better than sex, isn’t it?”

Mark almost choked on the bite, feeling his cheeks heat up.

“Perhaps at your age, you old fart,” Hunter chided. “Wait till I tell Lucy you said that.”

“I’ll show you an old fart, brat! Besides, Lucy knows what I think of your stuff. I was actually quoting her here.”

Mark had regained his breath by then. “Makes one think, doesn’t it?” he said, aiming at casual. “As for me, it’s a close second.” He dared a glance out of the corner of his eye at Hunter, enjoying his stunned expression, which gave way to amusement a heartbeat later. Greg barked a laugh and dealt Mark a hearty slap on the back. “I like you better every time I see you, Mark, I really do.”

I added Hunter’s recipes below so you can be the judge of Greg’s sentiment:

Koresht e sardalu wa alu (Lamb with apricots)

2 lbs leg of lamb with bones, 1 onion, 1can tomatoes, 2 tblsp tomato paste, 2 tsp turmeric, 2 tsp cinnamon, 1-2 tsp cayenne (according to taste), 1 tsp ginger powder,1 tsp bell pepper powder, 1/2 tsp allspice, 1/2 tsp cardamom, 1cup dried plums, 1cup dried apricots, 2 tblsp pine nuts, 2 tblsp almond sticks,1 tblsp butter, salt, brown sugar, lemon juice, sunflower oil

Chop the lamb leg into 4-5 pieces. In a large pan, roast pieces in oil until brown. Remove the meat from the pan, put aside. Roast onions, stir in tomato paste, spices, tomatoes and 2 cups of water. Put the meat back. Simmer for 90min. Take out the meat, debone, and put the meat back into the pan.  Add plums and apricots and simmer for another 30 minutes. Add brown sugar, salt and lemon juice to taste.

In another pan, lightly roast almonds and pine nuts with a little salt and brown sugar. Sprinkle the finished dish with nut mix.   

Maghmour (Eggplant casserole)

1-2 eggplants, 1 can of chicken peas, 1 can of tomatoes, 2 tblsp. tomato paste, 3 onions, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 tblsp dried mint leaves, 1 pinch of cumin, olive oil, water, salt, pepper.

Cut the eggplants into cubes, salt generously, then fry in oil. Put aside.
Cut the onions into bigger pieces, cook in oil until translucent, add drained chicken peas and tomato paste. Stir and add a little water. Add canned tomatoes with juice and the fried eggplant cubes. Stir well. Add more water if necessary. Crush garlic and mint leaves, mix with cumin and allspice. Add to the dish. Salt and pepper to taste.
Let simmer at low heat for at least 30 min. Stir occasionally. Serve warm or cold.


160 ml warm water, 80 ml warm milk, 1 egg, 2 teasp.salt, 500 gr wheat flour, 3 teasp dried yeast, 1tblsp olive oil, 1 teasp sugar

Make a yeast dough. Allow to rise for 20 min. Part the dough into 15-20 pieces.
Heat a flat pan on the stove. Roll the dough pieces flat, make them very thin. Bake in the pan, one after another for a few minutes each.

Now who’s right, Greg or Mark?

City Falcon Release Day – Inspiration

August 26, 2011

Burg Guttenberg, German National Birds of Prey Sanctuary

Good morning everybody. As of today, my novel City Falcon is available from Dreamspinner. To mark the occasion, I’ll be here on the blog today with excerpts, a bit of background information and a quiz.  (and PRIZES!) If you feel like it, come round and see me. I look forward to your comments – just click on the post header to open the comments box below.

So why a book about a falconer? The most obvious answer to this would be, why not?, but there was actually more to the idea for this book than my whim. This is how it all began:

When I was little, my parents took me to Burg Guttenberg on the river Neckar for one of the German National Birds of Prey Sanctuary’s  falconry show. I don’t remember much about this day, not even exactly how old I was, nine or ten (and I definitely WON’T say how long ago this was!), but what I recall vividly are the birds. The  majestic eagles, the creepy vultures, the mysterious owls and above all, the sleek, beautiful, elegant falcons.  One of the falconers seemed to have noticed the wide-eyed child who pushed and shoved her way through all the picture – snapping grownups ahead to the front row, ’cause he told me to hold out my arm, put a glove on my hand and next thing I know, a falcon’s claws scrabbled for purchase on the glove and dug into my wrist through the worn old leather.  The bird turned her head and held my gaze, unerringly and a little menacing, while the falconer talked quietly to me and to the bird, and when I dared to breathe again, I could smell her, animal and leather and that dry smell old barns have in the summer. I fell in love on that day, and have been ever since.

For several years afterwards, going to see the falcons was top priority on each wish list I ever wrote for Santa or the Birthday Fairy, even knocking the ever-present pony into second place.

After a while, though, my life got busy with other things, like getting around in the world, learning to win a livelihood, and finding a partner to share it with, and I lost touch with falcons for a while. Then, a few years ago,  my life got back  into shallower waters, and I returned home.  One of these days, I went to a medieval fair at yet another castle ruin (Southern Germany has lots and lots of those picturesque heaps of old stones!) where I stumbled upon a falconer. To my considerable delight  it turned out that particular falconer lived only a few kilometers away from my place. And, even more to my delight, he took visitors  hawking on a regular basis.  No question where I spent most of my weekends the rest of that year.

It was around that same time I discovered m/m romance. By the time my first own story ideas raised their little hands and asked to be told,  our backwater hometown finally got decent internet. One evening, dawdling away on youtube, I found this vid:

Birdman At JFK

Don’t ask me how, but it clicked. Suddenly Hunter Devereaux, falconer extraordinaire, stepped out of my subconscious, put down his foot and demanded to be written. His lover Mark followed not far behind, and then they all came tumbling out:  Greg, Micky, Walt, Evie, Sean…  and above all of them, Iman drew her circles in the sky, looking down at the hustle and bustle of humanity, sharp-eyed and a little menacing.

And here we are.

Release Party! Prep Work by PD Singer

August 17, 2011

Good morning, everyone! I’m PD Singer, and I’m very glad to be with you here this morning. Today, my first publication with Dreamspinner comes out, so I’m very excited, and have some things planned out for our party.  Snippets and stories, a video, and a contest, so I hope you’ll drop by for the fun.

Prep Work

Celebrity chef Jude Marshall’s ditched his camera crew for the first time in a month—he’s been eating his way through local cuisines on several continents for his television show. No spider-on-a-stick this trip, thank God. Jude’s exhausted; all he wants on his London layover is a pint of beer and some comfort food. Stumbling into a gastro-pub, Jude instead finds haute cuisine; his grumbles bring him face to face with chef—and fan—Tommy Bell.

When Jude steps into the kitchen to autograph Tommy’s copy of his cookbook, he finds himself lending a hand, and discovers it’s possible to tenderize a hardened heart.

It’s here at Dreamspinner!


July 17, 2011

Thanks to all who stopped by and commented today. The three winners are Liria, Linda, and Elaine. Please contact me at mickie.ashling at gmail dot com to claim your prize.

Momentos: Mick’s Journey will be available for purchase tomorrow.

Momentos: Mick’s Journey Book Trailer

July 17, 2011

Presenting the book trailer for Momentos created by the very talented qafmaniac, aka Marita Deters. This talented lady has made all my book trailers and can be reached at

Momentos: Mick’s Journey

July 17, 2011

Join me in celebrating the release of Momentos: Mick’s Journey which will be available tomorrow, July 18, in eBook or Paperback format. Anyone who leaves a comment today will be entered into the drawing for a freebie. I’ll be posting a pictorial, excerpts, and unveiling the book trailer. 3 winners will be chosen at the end of the day. The party starts at 9:00

Momentos is the third and final book in the Basque Trilogy. Take a walk with Mick as he recounts his early years with Paul and Tono. Follow the events leading up to the emotional night of the awards ceremony in San Sebastian and the month that followed.

The Male Room by Carolyn LeVine Topol – Contest time

June 22, 2011

Hello Everyone!  I hope you’re ready to do a little searching as you visit my website,

Please comment or use the email link in my author’s page at Dreamspinner Press: to find the names of the main characters of my first two publications.  One was an ebook, and one was available as both an ebook and in print.

Happy hunting!

The Male Room

June 22, 2011

Good Morning everyone!  While it’s raining outside my window, let’s start the party inside.  It’s time to celebrate the release of the first in my summer series — THE MALE ROOM.  Thank you to Ariel for the wonderful introduction. 

Today we can share some fun and games and some challenges.  I’ll be hosting a bit of a scavenger hunt later, and the winner will earn a free copy of The Male Room.  As a hint for what’s to come, my website link is:

Grab the drink of your choice as we toast an afternoon of cheers!

Here’s an excerpt (PG rated) from Loving Luki Vasquez

June 20, 2011

(There is a sexy hot excerpt coming later. Just so you know.)

If you want to comment on this or any post, click on the post title to see the comment box at the bottom.

Loving Luki Vasquez Cover


Oak Flats, Nebraska, 1982

A MUD-SPATTERED pickup in the front yard of a weathered house. Summer-gold hayfields rolling back farther than the eye could see. In the west, a sinking sun screened by a line of trees—cottonwoods and willows. Under those trees, a band of children just into their teens, whooping and laughing in that way that kids do in the summer when night is just on the edge of the next breath.

Luki ran faster than all the rest, and then looped back to taunt them. Excitement like electricity ran through him. Something about this day, this hour, this prelude to night, was special. “Maria,” he yelled. “I’ll race ya!”

It started a stampede, all seven of the boys and Maria, the one girl who always hung out with them, running as if they could fly, thrashing through brambles and over sticks and stones as if they couldn’t feel them. Out onto the Old Granary Road, onto the bridge, right over the rail and into the river, just as they’d done hundreds of times before.

Luki swam underwater for as long as he could hold his breath, which was longer than anyone, except maybe Maria. When he came up, laughing and spitting, and slicked his hair back out of his eyes, all of the other boys had gathered at the shore, whispering, or maybe arguing. Maria hadn’t even gone in, and now she was worming her way down the steep embankment from the road to the river.

The sun sank under the skyline, and the river turned dark, and Luki felt a chill run through him.

“Hey, Luki, c’mon over here, man.” It was Ronny Jemison, the boy that was a bit taller, a bit rougher, a bit meaner than any of the rest. Maybe the leader, if they had been a gang. “We’ve got something for you. C’mon.”

Ronny scared him when he was like this. Luki had seen the bully push Little Jimmy down the bank, yank Maria’s hair hard enough to put her on her knees, kill birds and frogs and rabbits—anything that lived—just to be killing. But, scared or not, Luki knew he had to choose: go and fight and maybe get hurt, or be deemed a coward and so get picked on—probably for the rest of his life.

So Luki went.

Before he quite made it safely to dry land, Ronny smacked him hard in the face with a balled up fist, and yelled one word, spit it at Luki as if it was made of acid and would flay him.