MJ’s Musings: Thistle Dew

A friend of mine owns an 1809 former stage coach inn in the foothills of New York’s Adirondack Mountains.

Her dream has always been to create a warm, welcoming place where her author friends could retreat and write. She has succeeded.

For several years, personal situations kept me from attending, but about two years ago, my circumstances changed,and I became a Thistle Dew regular. I always stay in the same room. I usually write in the dining room, although sometimes I move around to keep myself fresh.

The thing is, I can write here. I am so much more productive than when I am home. At home, my husband wants to spend time with me. The house needs me to spend time with it.

A few weeks ago, when I was desperately trying to finish a book due a month later, I planned an entire weekend at home, writing. HAHAHAHAHA.  The following weekend, I went to Thistle Dew, which is about 90 minutes from home, and I wrote over 10,000 words Friday afternoon/night, all day Saturday/Sunday morning.

Two weeks later, I finished the book at Thistle Dew .

Thistle Dew isn’t all work. There is plenty of eating (always) and laughter. I love getting to know people from my local RWA chapter with whom I might not interact at our monthly meetings. We forge new friendships and learn other writers’ strength and generosity. In warmer weather (i.e. no snow), we spend evenings around the fire pit outside and watch the sky while creating fond memories. And then there was the one night three of us encountered a ghost. Nothing bad. Nothing scary. Nothing threatening. But yeah. A woo-woo filled night. (A building constructed in 1809 is bound to house leftover energy.)

I am so lucky my friend had this dream and was able to make it come true.

 

 

MJ Monday: MJ’s Manuscript-Betrayed By Moon Exceprt

I’m pulling pieces of the manuscript before revisions, so these selections may change in the published version.

 

Selena stopped next to a neon cowboy hat advertising roast beef sandwiches and lifted her face to the night sky. Light pollution from the city cloaked most of the stars, although a few planets pierced the haze. The moon, waxing her way to the Milk Moon of May, begged for a song.

Selena sniffed the air as a precaution. No danger mingled in the hint of rancid grease from fast-food franchises, a rotting Dumpster, or the dog droppings someone hadn’t scooped. A smoldering cigarette added to the potpourri. Faintly, indiscernible to most humans, lilies of the valley leant their fragrance to the night. 

Selena resumed her jog. College town, the area around Warwick College, was safe enough. Still, she remained alert, her nose, her ears, and her eyes at the ready. She’d been careless once. Never again.

MJ Monday: MJ’s Manuscript: Excerpt from Betrayed By the Moon.

Another tidbit from my book, BETRAYED BY THE MOON,  tentatively scheduled for  late June 2019 publication.

“Who did you bring home?” Another male spoke from the shadowed corner.

Ethan bristled, ready to defend his mate from the intruder.

“Ethan,” Selena replied.

“Nathan? Nathan who?” The voice cracked.

“Ethan Calhoun,” Ethan said. “Who are you?”

“Channing Wolfe, Varulv pack alpha. You look familiar. Where are you from?”

Ethan grabbed his temper before irreparable damage resulted. “Loup Garou, Colorado.”

The man emerged from the shadows. He was old. Too old, in Ethan’s opinion, to be a pack alpha. The sparse hair on his head was as gray as his eyes and the circles beneath them. Ethan thought he heard joints creaking.

“Ethan, meet my grandfather.”

His intended mate was an alpha’s granddaughter? Whoa. Intense, especially considering his own alpha mated a human.

“You’re a long way from home. Were you planning on checking in?”

“Of course,” Ethan lied. Tokarz hadn’t mentioned another pack might claim northern Minnesota. Courtesy demanded he check in with the ruling pack. “I ran into your granddaughter as soon as I arrived.”

A quick glance at Selena showed one eyebrow arched. She didn’t contradict him.

“Mating fever bring you to Minnesota?” Channing was old, not stupid.

Ethan said nothing.

“New one on me.” Channing continued fishing.

“Strangest thing,” Ethan agreed.

“Is this any way to treat your intended?” Channing asked Selena. “Get him something to drink. To eat. You were raised better than a human girl.”

Selena opened her mouth, as if to argue, glared at Ethan as if he were to blame for the situation, and then stalked from the room.

“You have to forgive the girl. She hasn’t had a lot of female influence. Her mamma died when Selena was real young, and my mate died before Selena was born.”

“My appearance shocked her,” Ethan said to placate the old man. Although Channing wasn’t his pack elder, Ethan was determined to be polite, while at the same time protecting Selena.

“Are you going to court her in the traditional way?”

Ethan tried not to be offended by the question. He failed.

Channing must have read Ethan’s mind. “Your pack brews beer, right? Moonsinger? If making beer isn’t flouting the ways and nature of our kind, I don’t know what is. How can I be sure you’ll do right by my girl?”

Okay. Yeah, brewing beer was weird. Lycan allergy to alcohol versus the pack decision to brew craft beer as a method of supporting the pack was a hotly debated subject. Ethan’s grandparents still argued whether to stay with the Loup Garou pack or find a more traditional place to spend their waning years. Channing’s concern was valid. Still, Ethan had to force his teeth to unclench before he spoke.

“On the way here, I stopped and bought a blueberry and strawberry yogurt parfait. I made the offering. It’s still in my truck. I would never dishonor my mate by violating our rituals. If you’re concerned traditions won’t be honored, you should explain why your granddaughter refused the berries I offered.”

“Humph.”

“I don’t need my grandfather’s permission,” Selena said as she returned to the front room. Somewhere along the way, she’d discarded her shoes. She carried a tray with a carafe of water garnished with floating lemon slices and a platter of what smelled like fish. She placed the tray on the table in front of a sagging sofa. “Sorry the walleye is partially cooked. I thawed it in the microwave.”

Ethan’s stomach rumbled. He hadn’t eaten in hours. “Smells great,” he said, as he helped himself to a chunk. “Thanks.”

“Have a seat,” Channing said. “You remind me of someone. Can’t think who, though.”

Ethan studied the room as he chewed on his fish. The seating options were limited. Channing reclaimed a worn recliner in the corner. Ethan’s only choice was a battle-scarred sofa. If he sat, he’d have to share with the female who had rejected him.

“I’ve been driving all night. I need to stretch my legs.” The perfect excuse to avoid proximity with her. He had his pride.

“Where are you staying?” Channing asked.

Selena, who leaned against the door jamb, as if she, too, were avoiding physical closeness to Ethan, winced.

Or flinched. Neither reaction flattered him. He dreaded what was coming next. “I haven’t had a chance to find a motel.”

“Nonsense.” Channing sounded as if he were trying to be hearty and jovial. He failed. Miserably. “You’ll stay with Selena.”

“Gramps—”

“Staying here isn’t a good idea, sir,” Ethan said.

“Nonsense,” Channing repeated. “The sofa pulls out if you’re being . . . modest.”

“Practical,” Ethan said. He stole a glance at Selena, who appeared upset. “I have other business in town and don’t want to inconvenience anyone.”

“What other business? You’re in Varulv territory.”

Right.

The lie came easily. “I’m with a band, and we’re between booking agents, so I’m scouting possible venues for us to play.”

“Doesn’t the Loup Garou alpha have a side gig besides the brewery? What’s the band’s name?”

“Toke Lobo and the Pack.”

“Aren’t they on the radio?” Channing asked, while Selena said, “Get out. You are not.”

Ethan now had an excuse to look directly at her. “Sure I am. I play steel guitar.”

“You do not.”

Ethan scowled.

Selena narrowed her eyes. “Prove it.”

MJ Monday: MJ’s Manuscript: BETRAYED BY THE MOON

Book 1 of the Service for Sanctuary Series, Betrayed by the Moon has a tentative publication date of June 26, 2019. I am super excited. I love the characters and their story.

Here’s an excerpt:

Chapter One

Ethan sat in his bright red truck—not the most unobtrusive vehicle for surveillance—and tried to stay awake. Not only had he been forced to volunteer for the mission, he’d been exiled to Minnesota to do so. Pro-lycan factions considered Congressman Bryant Peters a crucial swing vote on the treaties between the werewolves and the United States. His vote, rumor claimed, was on the fence. Ethan’s job was to convince him favoring the treaties was in his best interest.

Ethan wasn’t sure how to approach the mission. He’d researched the congressman’s itinerary, ending with him outside a regional office in Warwick, Minnesota trying to decide what to do next. Worry about bungling the mission played havoc with his body and his senses. He couldn’t blame being in a strange city. Too many years on the road with Toke Lobo and the Pack taught him every night was a new adventure.

A lot of people entered and emerged from the professional building. The congressman wasn’t the only person who rented offices at the address.

Something smelled . . . unusual. Out of place.

One woman stomped out the door. Ethan straightened in his seat, gaze riveted on her. She was clothed in the same black every other woman wore. Her neat pant suit gave her a professional appearance. Long brown hair was caught at her nape with a barrette, exposing her mating spot.

Her mating spot. The place Ethan would use his teeth to mark her when he claimed her. His penis swelled.

Ancient Ones, he was in Warwick to meet his mate. No wonder his heart raced. He wasn’t suffering from anxiety. Mating fever caused his agitation.

He gripped the steering wheel to keep from bolting from the truck, sprinting across the street, and tossing the female over his shoulder. He didn’t want human witnesses who wouldn’t comprehend the urgency quickening in his blood.

He had a mate. No longer single. No longer stuck on a senseless mission. He could mark her, take her back to Colorado, and let some other lobo deal with Congressman Peters.

A tall thin man followed her out of the building. The female kept walking. The man grabbed her arm to stop her.

The shock of the woman’s reaction pierced Ethan like a spike.

Her response was all he needed. He leapt from his truck and crossed the street before his heart could beat twice.

“Let go of her,” he snarled at the tall man.

“Mind your own business,” the man snapped.

“She is my business.”

“Selena, who is this guy?”

Selena. His mate’s name meant moon.

Her eyes, a brindle color not unlike a doe’s pelt, widened. Her nostrils flared. “He’s my . . . intended.”

Ethan hoped the other guy didn’t catch the bewilderment in Selena’s tone. Then her words registered. She’d recognized him the same way he’d known her. She was lycan. Not human. “Her fiancé.” He used a word the human mates in the pack used before they’d been marked.

The man dropped Selena’s arm. “Well, he puts a different spin on your—”

“He changes nothing,” Selena said.

The man’s blue eyes narrowed. Ethan had the impression he was peering through the man’s skull into the sky on the other side of his head.

Ethan cupped Selena’s elbow, and a shock of genetic recognition latched on to his bones. “Are you finished?”

She tensed beneath his touch. “Yeah”

“Come on.” Ethan steered her toward his truck.

“Tell your father I’ll be paying attention,” she called to the man on the sidewalk.

Ethan helped her climb into the cab of his truck before he took his place behind the wheel.

“Your arrival is inconvenient,” she said once he’d closed his door.

“Ethan Calhoun is the name. Welcome to my life.”

“Please tell me you aren’t here for me.” Desperation edged her words. Not the good kind of desperation, as in she couldn’t wait for him to claim her. “What are you doing in Varulv territory? Where are you from?”

One thing at a time. “Loup Garou, Colorado.”

“You’re not in Warwick to find me. Right?”

“I did not come to Warwick to find you, but seeing how we’ve met—”

“No.” She stared straight ahead, her gaze as rigid as the rest of her body. “You’ve found no one.”

Ethan sniffed. He hadn’t mistaken the earthy, spicy scent of werewolf. “My mating instinct says different,” he said.

“And mating instinct is never wrong,” she said in a low voice, as if reciting by rote. “Except I have no intention of mating. Nothing personal.”

MJ Monday: MJ’s Mansuscript: Service for Sanctuary Bk 1


Yes, I have a new book coming out in June. I don’t have an exact date yet, but when I do, I will be sharing it with my newsletter subscribers, then on social media.

The book is the fourth set in my Toke Lobo & the Pack universe and the first in trilogy called SERVICE FOR SANCTUARY.

Here’s a sneak peak:

Prologue

“They’re breaking the treaty.”

Ethan Calhoun stopped twirling his tone bar between his fingers and clutched the cold steel in his palm. So, a governmental dilemma prompted Tokarz, pack alpha, to summon the pack to the Full Moon Lodge. Ethan had hoped Tokarz was going to announce a new tour for Toke Lobo and the Pack. The band hadn’t been on the road in months.

“What?” someone asked.

“The United States government wants to break the treaty with us.”

Ethan tightened his grip on the tone bar. Mitchell Jasper, the pack’s government liaison, slunk into the room with Tokarz. Ethan figured something bad was coming. The man looked . . . terrified.

“Washington no longer wants to offer sanctuary in return for our service,” Tokarz clarified, in case any werewolf in the room didn’t understand the implications of a broken treaty. As if the threat to their existence was a concept too complicated to be stated only once.

Or maybe shock made everyone slower than usual.

Ethan didn’t have the words to describe the sensation of melting from the inside out. Granted, he wasn’t descended from one of the original French families comprising most of the Loup Garou pack. The treaty cut with Thomas Jefferson wasn’t sacred to him as it was to the others. He was ignorant of his own family’s treaty. His grandfather remained mute about the pack he’d abandoned. Although Loup Garou had accepted the Calhoun family, Ethan was always aware he was an outsider.

“We need your help.” Jasper cleared his throat before he spoke. The words still emerged weak and diluted. It was a miracle the man didn’t piss himself.

“Why should we help you?” Tokarz asked.

“Most people don’t want the treaties abandoned.”

“Most people aren’t aware there are treaties,” Tokarz said in a voice so cold, Ethan expected the windows to frost over.

Why didn’t Tokarz ask Jasper to define we? Who wanted the pack’s help?

“Look.” Jasper channeled some testosterone from somewhere. “I know it’s a bad idea to break the treaties. I know how valuable having a . . . secret weapon of . . . your nature . . . is to the security of our country. I’m a patriot, and I am not going to let ignorance and short-sightedness destroy something costing the government nothing and still works.”

Tokarz smirked. “So. You want us to be a secret secret weapon?”

The phrase sounded ridiculous. Tokarz watched too many old movies.

Jasper cleared his throat again. “My department isn’t the only one trying to work around the new administration’s dictates. While I am in Loup Garou to officially tell you the treaties will be rescinded, I am also here, personally, to tell you our country has never needed you more.”

The man deserved points. He played the room perfectly. Every werewolf present, including Ethan, was deeply patriotic.

“Not to say there isn’t an element who would like to see you . . . your species eliminated.”

“Say what you mean,” Tokarz said. “Don’t use fifty-dollar words when nickel ones will do. Dead. Some folks want us dead.”

Only if a guy observed Jasper closely, as Ethan did, would he see the slight inclination of his head.

“We need to remind some members of congress who are privy to the agreements precisely what they know and why the treaties matter.”

“You mean threaten them.” Tokarz glowered.

“The treaties have served our nation for two centuries. Some influential people need to be reminded.”

“And on whose behalf would we be reminding them?” Tokarz asked the first question Ethan would have asked in his place.

“Your own.” Jasper lifted his chin, as if daring Tokarz to contradict him.

“Go on,” Tokarz said after several moments of a staring match. Jasper did not blink.

“I have a list of names. Men who have availed themselves of the special services guaranteed by the treaties, and who are currently in positions of power to help—maybe force—the preservation of the treaties.”

Maybe Ethan’s imagination spoke, but Jasper sounded stronger. Surer of himself.

“And how do you suggest we remind these people they owe us sanctuary?”

As Jasper laid out his plan—and his idea didn’t sound like much of a plan—Ethan’s gut churned. He was surprised he hadn’t snapped the tone bar he always carried in his front pocket. His fingers worked the steel hard enough.

Jasper’s so-called plan involved sending emissaries to meet with the politicians who had availed themselves of lycan services in the past. Ethan wasn’t clear on what the emissaries were supposed to do; every instinct he possessed shrieked Tokarz planned to send him. He’d worked on a couple missions the band had been involved in and was one of the few band members who was not yet mated. Mated males needed to stay put and protect their females.

After the meeting broke up, Tokarz asked Ethan to stay. The request prompted Ethan’s father and grandfather to also remain.

“My grandson is the sole survivor of my line,” Pa told their alpha.

“When my grandfather accepted you into the Loup Garou pack, you—”

“My agreement with the Loup Garou hasn’t changed,” Pa said.

Ethan exchanged a glance with his father, who didn’t seem any more in the know than Ethan was. Pa nursed his secrets; his family respected Pa’s reticence.

“My agreement hasn’t changed,” Pa repeated. “The treaty your ancestors signed with the government has nothing to do with me or mine.”

“My grandfather’s conditions for accepting you included honoring our ways. The treaty is a part of this pack’s heritage.”

“Has Ethan not participated in missions as required? The time you met your mate? The time a crazy man in Idaho threatened to overthrow the government? Ethan has fulfilled his generation’s obligation to your family.”

“I don’t have a choice.”

“You do. You’re alpha. You could send anyone.”

“You’re right. I’m alpha, and I’ve made my decision.”

***

A lopsided silver moon transformed the random snowflakes drifting around Ethan from white to glitter as he made his way home. His breath, puffing into the frigid winter night, sparkled where moonbeams brushed the warmer air.

The streets were empty despite lycans preferring the night. Everyone must have been celebrating they weren’t being sent on a fool’s errand.

The moon appeared lonely, as if she needed a song or two. Ethan considered obliging her.

Except he didn’t feel much like singing at the moon or into a microphone or even in the shower. He was unmated; naturally Tokarz volunteered him for a mission. The mated guys got to stay home with their females, while the single males were obligated to treaty fulfillment.

Even without a treaty.

Even if a lobo’s family wasn’t included in the treaty.

Even if the lobo wasn’t part of the pack.