LIVE from MystiCon 2012

So here I am, this fabulous Con going on downstairs, and I’m sitting at the desk in my hotel room, penning a blog post.  So I better make it good, right?  So far it has been a great weekend!  As I said before, the big fun for me is seeing old friends and making new ones.  I moderated a great panel last night on what the next big monster in fiction will be.  We determined that zombies are here to stay and that we’d be looking to lesser known mythological characters for new ideas.  I also had a great time doing readings with authors Marcia Colette and Sapphire Phelan.  We managed to run some poor guy out of the room, but I got a chance to use innocents as guinea pigs for my vampire story.

Today’s activities include:

6pm Signing– I always feel strange doing signings.  First off, I write eBooks, so I don’t have much in the way of physical things to sign.  Though I think I’m going to do a little impromptu contest to give away an eBook or two.  I’m just never really sure what to do at those things.  So if anyone at the Con is reading this– drop by and talk to me!!

10pm Romance vs. Erotica, How much is too much?– I think y’all know my take on this.  There’s no such thing as too much as long as it’s pretty.

11pm Taboos and Societal Bans– I found myself on this panel because my good friend, Bethany Halle couldn’t be here.  It’s going to be a no holds barred discussion of BDSM, alternative lifestyles and the like.  It should be fun, though I don’t consider myself an expert by any means.

12pm BELLA MORTE! — Yes folks, I’ll be shakin’ my groove thang into the wee hours of the morning and rockin’ it out with one of my favorite Goth bands of all time.  This weekend I’ve gotten the opportunity to meet frontman Andy Deane (who is also a very talented horror writer) and I’m so glad to go out and support them.

So I guess I should get off this thing and go down to participate.  The husband has some panels this afternoon that I don’t want to miss.  If you’re in the Roanoke area, you should come on down and see us.  We only bite if you ask.

Off to MystiCon 2012!!

And we’re off!  The husband and I are on our way, even as we speak, to MystiCon 2012.  Our goal is to get there by around 3pm.  Last year we barely made it through Windacolypse, so we didn’t have time to eat before our panels started.  I think we had some chips after.  But hopefully we’ll get there in time to grab a bite to eat (anyone wanna join us?)

I did manage to find my schedule tonight and I think my first panel is perhaps 10pm Friday.  I should have plenty of time to explore the wine list before then.  Did I mention that I’m moderating my first panel as well???  What the hell does a moderator do?  I hope its not to keep everyone in line… I can’t even do that for myself.  Beyond that, I know I’ll be at the Bella Morte concert on Saturday night, shakin’ my groove thang.

So the point is– those of you in the Roanoke area– come hang with me!  Have a glass of wine!

Wicked Little Wednesday… Belated: Aretha Smith

So Google has foiled me once again!  Too bad their new privacy settings don’t alert them when my email is clogged…But life goes on and I’m finally here with today’s Wicked Little Wednesday with Aretha Smith!  Aretha is blogging today on the freedom of being a writer.  I have to say, I wholeheartedly agree with her.  Someone, whose name escapes me, once said, “A writer is someone who has taught his mind how to misbehave.” So why should we only write what we know?  We’re writers, damnit!  The masters of our own universes.  We are authors, hear us roar!!

She’s also giving a little taste of her upcoming release, Hearts of Time… I’m tingling with anticipation!

************************

Saying No to Writing Only What I Know

 One of the freedoms of writing fiction is the power and control to create the characters you want and the plotlines you want, sometimes even farfetched ones. With that freedom comes the ability to create characters that live lives far more interesting than mine, and those who encounter life situations that I have not yet, and in many cases, would hope I’d never have to encounter. But I’ve often heard it mentioned over the years that us writers should play it safe by writing only what we know. Well I have a problem with this notion, since if I stuck to writing only what I knew, I’d be relegated to writing about librarians, piano players, church-going seamstresses and gym rats who obsessively count every caloric morsel that goes into their mouths on a daily basis, because you see, that’s what I know and that’s who I am. Now mind you, a talented writer can create a character that has the most boring profession in the world and still manage to write an interesting story around him or her. I’m certainly don’t dispute this fact.

 

One of the beautiful things about the Internet is that it puts knowledge at our fingertips–literally. Long gone are the days where one had to trek across town to the public library and spend hours between the dust bunny-ridden aisles, leafing through books to find information on subjects they know nothing about. Now, all one need do is logon onto the world-wide-web, Google something specific and be greeted with a host of search hits from semi-relevant to dead-on-specific in regards to the information they seek. One of the things I’ve learned as a writer is that research is my friend. In fact, my passion as a writer couldn’t possibly be more well-matched in terms of my educational background; I am fortunate to have a background in both libraries and research and this comes in quite handy when it comes time to get down to serious research for my stories.

 

When it comes to the Internet, of course it goes without saying that not everything on the Internet can be taken as fact, there are plenty of reputable websites that contain hoards of information on any desired subject, not to mention the advent of social media and it’s subsequent aspect of social networking has opened plenty of doors to network with others who have lived the exact experiences one may seek to write about in a novel. I’d like to think that having not fought in the Vietnam War would prevent me from writing a good story about a character who is a Vietnam War vet. And one of the best things about doing research for my novels is that I learn so many things along the way that I may not have learned otherwise.

 

So telling me to stick to writing only what I know is akin to tying my hands behind my back as a writer. Writing fiction is one of those freeing experiences that I treasure almost like no other. When I sit down at my laptop and dream up intriguing characters, I need to be free to let my mind explore possibilities and experiences for my characters that I may never in this lifetime ever get to experience. Taking that ability away from me would cripple my passion, and as a writer who prides herself on her creative abilities, I simply can’t have that.

 

I look forward to sharing my upcoming April 17th release, Hearts of Time with you!

 

Hearts of Time Blurb:

 

Isn’t it funny when the thing you want the least becomes the thing you want the most?

Olivia Putnam is a fiercely independent, twenty-nine year old career woman. Having survived her mother’s untimely death eight years ago, she’s managed to raise her younger sister all on her own along with fulfilling her dream of becoming successful corporate attorney. She has lots of money, designer clothes, and the other luxuries of life. The man in her life, Theo Griffin, wants her for a lifetime and would gladly marry her on the spot, but two things stand in the way: Olivia’s reservations about commitment and her obsessive work habits. She’s torn between finding time for her relationship and devoting time to growing her career. But when she meets successful realtor, thirty-one year old Alistair Davenport, at her best friend’s wedding, her ideas about love and commitment are about to change. Although falling in love is the last thing on both their minds, Alistair’s chance business proposal to Olivia proves to be the catalyst that ignites their passion for each other…

 

I can be contacted at any of the following:

Blog: www.arethacsmith.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/acthewriter

Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/ArethaCSmith/307812299231571

Email: arethacsmith@hotmail.com

 

Gearing Up for Con Season 2012

Well kids, it’s that time of year again.  Time for my daily posts leading up to MystiCon 2012 in Roanoke, VA.  I’m so excited this year, as I’ve learned so much and grown so much as an author.  I’ll be seeing old friends and making new ones.  This Con is also close to my heart because my family is from the area and it’s a chance to reconnect with some of my best childhood memories.  If I disappear during the day (as most of my panels are at night this time), I can probably be seen going to some old stomping grounds and snapping photos.

Last year this time, I was so nervous at the prospect of doing my first panel. Would I say the right thing? Would people wonder what the hell I was doing there?  I mean, at that point I had only published one eBook.  Who was I to speak about writing?  And then, apparently by Divine Intervention, the first person I met was Bethany Halle.  I had agreed to be a guest on her podcast and I was so damn nervous.  But she immediately put me at ease and after a few minutes, it was like I’d been doing this forever.  I realized that I wasn’t going to make an absolute fool of myself.  I’ve never forgotten Bethany’s generosity that night.  Since then we’ve attended other Cons together and become fast friends.

This year I’m not so much nervous as excited.  And it’s a great feeling!  There are many

The Real Me... exciting isn't it...

things I’m looking forward to:  my first adventure in moderating (considering I never do anything in moderation…), meeting Sherrilyn Kenyon (I’m such a fan!), dancing my curvaceous Southern ass off at the Bella Morte show, the road trip up (PLAYLIST!)– but most of all, seeing friends I rarely get to be with.

And of course, assaulting new ones….

Wicked Little Wednesday, #3– Melissa Keir

Welcome, my lovelies!  Today I’m joined for an interview by brand, spanking-new romance author, Melissa Keir. She bravely consented to answer a few questions about herself and her hot offering in the Valentine anthology, Love Again.

Thank you for letting me come visit your site today.  It is fun to be able to share a bit of my life with your readers.

 1.   Tell us who you are and a little about how you came to be a writer of romance.

 Imagine the Brady Bunch without Alice and you’ve got a pretty good picture of my life.  As a part of a blended family with two children from each of our previous marriages, my husband and I have created a new home and family that encompasses our teenage and young adult children, two fur-babies, a high grocery bill, and a lot of laundry.

 

Growing up as the oldest of five daughters, I was taught to fish, hunt and to work hard by my father.  He didn’t believe in forcing gender roles.  My grandmother taught me to cook, sew and care for others. And my mom taught me the importance of being me… she let me color my hair, cut it in the latest styles and fight for what I believed in. 

 

Today, I try to instill those ideals and a love of reading to my own children and future generations as an elementary school teacher. My family have made me a better person and provided me with support, great lines for my books, and a few gray hairs.  But I firmly believe that each experience makes us stronger and better.

 

Writing has always been a part of my life.  I’ve written poetry and musings on my life.  When I got a chance to write a story, I took it and haven’t looked back since then.  Now I have a book coming out Feb. 14th and more in April!

 

2.  So first things first, what do you consider to be the sexiest qualities in a man?

 The three traits that I find appealing in a man are his brain, his arms/shoulders, and his sense of humor. I love a man with a brain because there is so much out there in the world that it’s wonderful to get another perspective, bounce ideas off each other and discuss ideas.  I love a man’s shoulders and arms because they are the sexiest part of a guy’s body to me. The arms and shoulders have to be strong to deal with the stresses of the world and I love to be swept up and carried. A man’s sense of humor is my third trait because I love verbal sparring.  It is exciting to have a man who can keep up with my own sarcastic wit.  It’s like foreplay!

3.   Describe your ultimate hero.

My ultimate hero would be a guy who loved me for me and was willing to take care of me and put up with me.  A hero who worked hard for the money he earned.  I love a guy who works out and keeps his body at its peak, short military haircut and powerful arms. Throw in some chest hair and I’m so happy!

 4.   What makes a great sex scene?

A great sex scene is one where the reader gets drawn into the scene, feeling like they were there watching or participating in the scene.  It should arouse the reader’s passions and give them ideas of things to try at home.

 5.   Quickies:

*   Boxers or briefs? I like the boxer briefs, tight and fitted.

*  Red or white? Red.  It makes my green eyes stand out!

*  Sweet or savory? I’d much rather have something a little spicy!  But if I had to choose, I’d say sweet.

*  The Kama Sutra or The Story of O The Story of O.

*  #1 Song on Your “Sexy Writing” Playlist? I love Adele’s whole cd “21” because it always sets the mood!

6.      Tell us about your current release and give us a little taste…

My current release is Forever Love, a short story in the Love, Again Valentine Anthology. It is available in e-book and print from Ruby Lioness Press.

 Forever Love is the story of a woman who escapes her small town life after high school for the bright lights and anonymity of the big city.  But when her father is facing his toughest battle, Alzheimer’s, she comes home to care for him and finds herself face to face with the one guy who broke her heart.  Can they find a way back from the pain of the past?  Or will he forever be the one that got away?

 Excerpt:

A dark, cropped haircut framed a face so beautiful that it could be described as the face of a Roman god: he had a strong nose and jawline that showed just a sprinkling of whisker stubble. It was his body that made me pause, however. His muscular shoulders and upper arms looked like they could carry a girl off to bed. His chest was wet and covered with hair that immediately drew my eyes and tempted me to caress it. The chest hair tapered down his narrow waist and seemed to lead the way to paradise. I stopped walking and just stared. I could only hope that I was not drooling. This guy was smokin’ hot! Then he smiled and I noticed his face, complete with a little dimple in his chin. He seemed familiar, but I wasn’t sure where I recognized him from. When he saw that I noticed him, he winked at me as if he recognized me, too.

“Hello! Nice day for a walk, huh? The weather has been kind to us this year.” He spoke and my knees wobbled. His voice was like chocolate, smooth and delicious.

 

Thank you for having me at your blog today.  I love to hear from readers.  You can reach me at…www.melissakeir.com or on Facebook at…http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003150554229&ref=tn_tnmn#!/pages/Melissa-Keir-Fan-Page/143020369136928  or on Twitter at…https://twitter.com/#!/melissa_keir.

************************

Alright, now that you’ve read the whole thing…. drum roll…….

The winner of the copy of “Masquerade” is—- Daemonicus Sanguinus!!  Your smutty little morsel will be in your inbox ASAP!!!  Happy reading!!

Coming soon: Wicked Little Wednesday #3– Melissa Keir

Coming up tomorrow, I’m welcoming up and coming romance author, Melissa Keir!  She’s got a new release to heat up your Valentine’s Day!  Don’t forget to come by and leave her some comments, hop over to her blog and take a gander at what she has to offer.  But most exciting of all… she’s going to be answering some of my hard-boiled and half-cracked questions about life, love and of course… sex.

Don’t forget– if you’re a writer, YOU— yes, YOU– can be a guest on the Southern Belle from Hell!  I accept writers of all genres!

Also, tomorrow I will be announcing the winner of the Valentine’s contest!  Stay tuned…

Playlistism: Valentine’s Edition

You know me, I LOVE a music post.  And what better time to have a music post than on Valentine’s Day?  I warn you, before I go on: my idea of a love song may be extremely odd to some of you.

1.  Sweet Child o’ Mine– Guns N’ Roses :  The lyrics of this song are beautiful.  Even if Axel Rose is a crazy person.

2.  Love You to Death– Type O Negative:  I have a little fantasy that this song will be dedicated to me everywhere I go.  It’s deliciously dark and exceptionally romantic.

3.  So Far Away– Dire Straits:  This is a perfectly melancholy love song.  It’s about loving someone long-distance.

4.  What Part of Forever– CeeLo Green: This song is one of the only things about Twilight that doesn’t suck.  It’s upbeat and sticky.  Once you hear it, you can’t get it out of your head.  But the lyrics are so sweet and embody those feelings of undying love one gets just as a relationship starts to blossom.

5.  Come What May– Ewan McGregor:  I don’t think I even have to explain this one. Ladies… am I right?

****************

I’m available for questioning at the following locales:

The Southern Belle from Hell:   https://lexxxchristian.wordpress.com/

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/#!/alexandra.christian1

Fan Page on Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Lexxx-Christian-The-Southern-Belle-from-Hell/245839382102904

Twitter:  http://twitter.com/#!/LexxxChristian

In case you didn’t know by now, I’m an author of (mostly) paranormal erotic romance.  You can find my work in your favorite eBook format at:  Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Bookstrand and AllRomance eBooks

Vampires and Valentines

I want a vampire valentine.

No sparkling.  No brooding.  No perfectly conditioned hair, but a true vampire valentine.  I want a vampire who is in love with the one thing I have to offer that is more precious than anything– blood.  I want a vampire who isn’t afraid to be who he is.  He drinks blood.  From humans.  And he isn’t sorry about it.  He doesn’t go out in the day because he’ll burst into flames.  He doesn’t have a fireplace because he’s afraid that he’ll burn.  He lives in a dark, damp castle, not an ultra-modern abode.  He has a funny accent and razor sharp teeth.  He can fly, turn to mist and control the creatures of the night.  He never drinks… wine.  He’s a real, honest to God, vampire valentine.

Give me Count Vlad, David, Jerry, Varney and Nosferatu.  They may not have perfect hair, but they still have their balls.  Much  like the star of my current WIP, Seth.  Seth is a vampire that dates back to the pharoahs.  He’s in love with his mate, but make no mistake– when he sees you in an alley, you’re just a cheeseburger.

***************

Willow tensed at his words and he pulled her to him.  “The pain lasts only a moment,” he whispered, his lips moving softly against the puckered skin of her nipple before drawing it into his mouth.  He suckled gently at first, worrying it to a swollen bud until she gasped.  Only then did he prick the edge of the areola with his teeth.  The wound was miniscule and she barely noticed the sting until the tiny pearl of blood appeared.  Pulling back from her, he purred deep in his throat upon seeing the deep red rivulets that ran down the side of her breast, following the curving silhouette of her body.  Before it could reach the sheets below, he swooped down and captured the drops with his tongue, then lapping at the precious fluid.  Willow moaned, her heart beating faster.  She knew she should be afraid, but she was lost in the sensations he created.  He kissed his way back up her torso, alighting on her other breast and biting down hard.  She cried out, instinctively trying to push him away.  He grabbed her wrists and pinned them to the pillow behind her head.  She groaned and struggled, but he was much too strong for her.  Closing his mouth over the breast fully, he sucked at the wound until it was bleeding heavily down her front.  She watched with eyes, blurry with tears, as the thickening sanguine fluid stained her skin.  He drank deeply for a few moments, then tore himself away, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.  Strangely, she didn’t feel drained as she’d thought she would.  Only this heaviness that had settled into her extremities, keeping her still as he slid away from her.  “Is that it?” she croaked sleepily, thinking that perhaps she’d been afraid for nothing.

He gave a dark chuckle as he stood up at the side of the bed.  A smear of her blood stood out as a harsh streak of black against his skin.  “Patience, little one,” he purred, pulling at the button on his jeans.  “I’ve only just begun.  Such a delicious delicacy should be savored, not devoured in one sitting.”  She shuddered visibly and he chuckled again, pushing the restricting fabric over his narrow hips and down until he stood before her, a vision of male perfection.  His body seemed to be carved of stone, every muscle standing out in harsh relief under his skin.  The bones of his pelvis crossed over his hips, drawing her eye down to his cock which stood out impressively, giving away his own lust.  Willow smiled, feeling somewhat empowered by this show of arousal.  She wanted to sit up and go to him, but her body was so heavy.  She felt as if he’d restrained her, but there were no bonds.  Seth threw his head back, his black hair spilling over his shoulders as he inhaled her scent on the air.  “Fucking hell, Willow,” he sighed.  “Your scent… so much fear, so much desire… it’s like a drug.”  He climbed back into the bed, kneeling between her outstretched legs.  “I fear that once I start, I won’t be able to stop,” he murmured, grasping the waistband of the pants she wore. With a growl he pulled at them until they were ripped completely open and he could jerk them down her legs.  “A thousand years of practice and you have me behaving like a fledgling.”

“I’m… I’m sorry…” she stammered, biting her lip as his fingers brushed her thighs.

He leaned over her, kissing just below her navel and swirling his tongue around it.  “You’re not sorry,” he replied, opening his mouth wider and grazing the warm skin with his teeth, opening another bloody gash.  It dribbled slowly down, pooling in the crease above her mound.  She could feel the warm wetness and she reached down to touch it, but he slapped her hand away.  With the flat of his tongue he licked at the blood, tasting it and purring with satisfaction.  It wet his lips and when he looked up at her, he looked like a sinister harlequin with his painted mouth.

********************************

In case you’re curious, here are some stalking grounds:

The Southern Belle from Hell:   https://lexxxchristian.wordpress.com/

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/#!/alexandra.christian1

Fan Page on Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Lexxx-Christian-The-Southern-Belle-from-Hell/245839382102904

Twitter:  http://twitter.com/#!/LexxxChristian

In case you didn’t know by now, I’m an author of (mostly) paranormal erotic romance.  You can find my work in your favorite eBook format at:  Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Bookstrand and AllRomance eBooks

Valentine’s Day Madness! FOR ADULTS ONLY!!

Available 12/17 @ BN.com, Bookstrand, and AllRomance eBooks

Well, it’s that time of year again.  You know what I’m talkin’ about— Valentine’s Day!  That non-holiday created by greeting card and chocolate companies to sell us all more sentimental treats than we can possibly imagine.  And though it’s not my favorite holiday, I think the sentiment is in the right place.  You never know when you might lose someone, so it’s always a good idea to tell them now.  And it doesn’t have to be expensive, just from the heart.

In honor of the special day– and because I’d have to hang my head in disgrace as a romance writer if I didn’t do something special for Valentine’s Day– tomorrow (2/14) I’ll be posting some hot little Valentines for your reading pleasure.  Your mission:  give them a gander and leave a comment.  On Wednesday during Wicked Little Wednesday ( this week’s guest is Melissa Keir!!) I will announce the winner of a free copy of my hottest yarn to date, “Masquerade.”  Sounds like fun doesn’t it?!  But just to encourage you, here’s a little excerpt from “Masquerade.”  WARNING!!! NC-17 Content!

************************

“Doesn’t it arouse you to think that some of them are watching you now,” he purred against her ear just as he slid the tip of a finger between the outer lips of her sex. “Each of them getting more turned on as they watch your body tense and hear your desperate whines.”

The sinuous digits delved deeper, collecting the slippery drops of fluid that clung to the tiny petals. He slid the pads of his fingertips around the opening of her sex, massaging gently until she was arching against him involuntarily. With an evil chuckle he pulled away, leaving her empty, her sex clutching for something to grasp hold of.

“You’re so sensitive.” He brought his fingers to his lips, licking one delicately as if catching a dribble of the finest champagne. “And delicious.” With an eyebrow cocked roguishly, he offered his fingertip to her mouth. At first she hesitated. “Don’t be afraid,” he teased, sliding it across her lips, wetting them with her own salty fluid. “Take a small taste.”

She flicked her tongue cautiously across her lips, unsure of what she would taste. It was bittersweet and wild, honeysuckle and smoke. The flavor was intoxicating and she found herself licking her lips. When he offered his hand to her again, she took two of his fingers into her mouth, lapping her tongue around them and suckling hungrily. He groaned, watching her as she took them in like a tiny cock.

“You have no idea what you’re doing to me, love. I knew when I saw you on the stairs that you were the only choice for me.”

“You chose me?” she asked, nuzzling her cheek against his hand.

“You seem surprised,” he said, teasing her lips with his thumb.

“I’m not usually the first choice,” she sighed, kissing the edge of his thumbnail. “For anything.”

***********************

Wanna hear more of my thoughts on love and sex?  I thought you might.  I’ll be running my mouth further in a couple of weeks at MystiCon in Roanoke, VA.  I’m also available for questioning at the following locales:

The Southern Belle from Hell:   https://lexxxchristian.wordpress.com/

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/#!/alexandra.christian1

Fan Page on Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Lexxx-Christian-The-Southern-Belle-from-Hell/245839382102904

Twitter:  http://twitter.com/#!/LexxxChristian

In case you didn’t know by now, I’m an author of (mostly) paranormal erotic romance.  You can find my work in your favorite eBook format at:  Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Bookstrand and AllRomance eBooks

Wicked Little Wednesday #2: Selah Janel

Welcome to another edition of Wicked Little Wednesday!  This week, I’m spotlighting a really great friend and talented writer, Selah Janel.  I’ve known Selah for quite some time– from my old days of writing fan fiction even!  She’s always been talented, hilarious and fabulously twisted!  This month, she released her first book with No Boundaries Press, “Mooner.”  Its a period piece with lumberjacks and vampires– two of my favorite things.  So give her a warm welcome, some comments—- and then go buy her book!!

**********

Blurb:

Like many young men at the end of the 1800s Bill has signed on to work in a logging camp to earn a fast paycheck to start his life. Unfortunately his role model is Big John, the camp’s golden boy known for blowing his pay as fast as he makes it. On a cold Saturday night they enter Red’s Saloon to forget the work that takes the sweat and the lives of so many. Red may have plans for their whiskey money, but something else lurks in the shadows, something that badly wants a drink that has nothing to do with alcohol. Can Bill make it back out the shabby door or does someone have their own plans for his future?

Excerpt:

For a moment, Bill thought he was imagining things or was having a particularly bad reaction to the rot gut. Blinking a few times refocused his tired gaze and proved there was, indeed, a moving pile of…something at a table close to the other end of the bar.

Nancy shuffled back towards the bar, casting a wary look over her shoulder. “Red, he’s back,” she breathed as she scooped up another tray and fled to the other side of the room. Upon closer inspection, the youth realized it wasn’t a pile of something, but a figure draped in a patchwork of skins then cloaked with half-torn, moldy furs. Most who passed his way quickly avoided him, though whether it was because of his odd looks or his smell, it was hard to say.

Red hissed through his teeth and ran a sweating hand through his thick mane. “Tom Haskins,” he mumbled under his breath for the benefit of those crowded round him.

“I thought he lived on the edge of town,” Jack replied as he glared down the length of the bar.

“He tried to start a dry goods store, and it didn’t go over too well. He had it in his mind he could make up his loss with fur, though he ain’t no trapper. He moved out to the woods weeks ago and comes into town every so often to hang round and get his fix. Just when I think he’s finally died out there, he comes round again.” Not once did the saloon proprietor take his eyes off the body hunched over a table. Every breath made Tom’s ragtag cloak shudder, and every moldy hair on him quivered.

“You want me to kick him out?” Jack offered, already shifting his weight across the room.

“Nah, let him warm up at least. He doesn’t do much; just pesters everyone for drink now that he can’t afford it for himself. Give him time, and he’ll be up to his tricks.”

Bill couldn’t stop looking away. The pile of sloughed animals slumped as the man’s head rose. His skin was a cold grey and stretched taught across his face and hands. His hair had all but fallen out, but what was still left of it hung in clumps of long, ragtag strands that were paler than dried straw. His thin-lipped mouth was open and he sucked in air in painful, erratic pants.

“Look at ‘im! Actin’ like a piglet pulled away from its ma’s teat!” Big John sneered. “I bet his clothes are fulla maggots!”

“It’s too cold for maggots,” Ben snorted. “His clothes are thin. Wonder how the hell he stands bein’ out in the woods in weather like this.” “We do it,” Bill muttered. The recluse’s head jerked at the sound of his voice; the young man immediately snapped his mouth shut.

“Yeah, but we’re used to it! And younger’n he ever was!” John’s voice was purposefully loud and carried the haughty tone that won him admiration from the other loggers. “He’s durn crazy, that’s why he don’t notice.” He cocked his head Tom’s way with a sneer. “All that time on your own turn you yaps, man?”

Tom’s head very slowly shifted towards them, and Bill shuddered. There were days he’d survived the logging camp and the extreme conditions by will power and prayer alone, all the while wondering in the back of his head what it would be like if he didn’t have even that. Looking at the vagrant, he knew.

Ben was cursing behind them. “I saw him not more than a month ago and he didn’t look like that. Solitary life don’t turn a man in that short a’ time! Maybe he’s got rabies or fever n’ ague.”

Tom’s eyes sat so far back in his skull, it was impossible to tell what color they were, though they harbored a steady, unsettling gleam. They roved over the huddled group, searching hungrily for an easy mark. Bill’s heart plummeted to his boots when the hollow glitter locked onto him. He was suddenly as cold as he was when a seventh-year blizzard hit. All the frustrations and hell he’d endured since joining the logging team, all his good intentions and reasons, all he was trying to move forward to, swelled and jumbled together in a brief, howling wind of thought. The two distant stars in Tom’s eyes were the only thing that pegged him as a stable man in his otherwise rotting and dozy appearance.

All around the little group, the saloon’s weekend life went on. The distant sound of swearing and dice clattering across the floor mixed with discordant harmonies and a half-hearted mouth organ. But in the area by the bar, all was muffled and still. It was like the snows had come without warning over the forest, smothering everything in their path with chilled silence. Bill shuddered, and out of the corner of his eye, noticed Red do the same.

“You want I should knock his ears down, Red?” John’s bravado was the sudden yell that knocked the snow from the treetops, for better or ill. He had the relaxed look of a man who’d been in his cup just enough to throw caution to the wind. “I’ll toss him out and give ‘im a pat on the lip he won’t forget!”

“Leave be, John,” the barkeep muttered. His hand never stopped wiping down the bar. Though his head was tilted down towards his task, his eyes were set on their target across the room.

“What…what you want me to do for a drink?” At first it didn’t register that that thing, that man, had actually spoken. His voice was high and reedy, and cracked the way the thinnest ice along the river did.

“Pardon?”

“What you want me to do for a drink?” His lips cracked when his mouth moved. A thin trail of spittle dripped off his lower lip and was quickly caught up by the tip of the derelict’s seeking tongue. The distant gleam in Tom’s eyes burned as his mouth formed the last word. Otherwise, it was hard to even say how he’d made it into the saloon; he looked more than a little dim.

**************

So there you have it… more talent than you can shake a stick at.  Now here’s the links to buy and contact Selah:

No Boundaries Press – http://noboundariespressstore.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=19&products_id=16

Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Mooner-ebook/dp/B007144ZZO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1328404648&sr=8-1

Barnes and Noble – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/mooner-selah-janel/1108368128

Bookstrand – http://www.bookstrand.com/mooner

All Romance ebooks – https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-mooner-673945-241.html

www.facebook.com/authorSJ

www.twitter.com/selahjanel

www.selahjanel.wordpress.com

www.fandomfestblog.com/blogs/selah-janel