Friday, December 4, 2020

Guest Author Day with Joe Cosentino/GIVEAWAY

 


An Interview with Nicky Abbondanza

the leading character in Joe Cosentino’s Drama Christmas,

the eleventh Nicky and Noah mystery/comedy/romance novel

 

Nicky, you’re famous!

 

Or infamous.

 

Congratulations on the release of the eleventh novel in your award-winning and popular Nicky and Noah gay cozy comedy mystery series.

 

Thank you. Noah and I are donning our gay apparel as we speak.

 

Since the readers can’t see you, tell them what you look like.

 

Noah says I’m totally hot. Now you know why I love him so much. I’m tall with dark hair and long sideburns Noah loves to kiss, a cleft chin, Roman nose, emerald eyes, and a hunky body thanks to the gym on campus I call the torture chamber.

 

And?

 

Noah says I have a huge heart. Among other huge organs, which is just fine with Noah.

 

Tell us about Drama Christmas, the eleventh novel in your popular, award-winning series.

 

In Drama Christmas I direct and play Bob Crotchitch in an original musical version of A Christmas Carol, Call Me Carol, at Treemeadow College. Since Noah was readying the kitchen knives and Taavi threatened to call child protective services, I cast my handsome husband, Associate Professor of Acting Noah Oliver, as Scrooge’s Nephew Freddy, and our son, Taavi, as Tiny Tim. My best friend Department Chair Martin Anderson, threatened to give me all 8 a.m. classes if I didn’t cast him as Scrooge/Carol and his husband Ruben Markinson as Marley/Ghost of the Lover of the Past. Martin’s sassy office assistant, Shayla Johnson, said she’d fill my classes with all senior audits if I didn’t cast her as Scrooge’s Housekeeper. I also cast my favorite target, Detective Manuello, as Ghost of the Lover of the Present. Noah and my both sets of wacky parents are also along for the bumpy ride. The show proves that every Christmas needs a good Carol. However, more than stockings are hung when hunky chorus members drop like snowflakes. Once again, Noah and I use our drama skills to catch the killer before our Christmas balls get cracked. I know you’ll laugh, cry, feel romantic, and love delving into this crackling mystery with a surprise ending. “I’m more excited than a televangelist at a wig shop.”

 

As usual, calamity ensures.

I have my hands full as technical dress rehearsals for the show get off to a rocky start, Taavi falls unrequitedly in love, a homeless teenager is found living in the theatre, ensemble members claim their belongings have been stolen, and of course murder after murder multiplies. “Try saying that three times fast with a tongue ring.”

 

Who are the new characters in book eleven?

 

Assistant Professor of Music Barrett Knight plays the Ghost of the Lover of the Future. Barrett tries to make sweet music with Noah and me (pun intended). Muscleman Roman Giamani, student set designer, has his design on someone else in the show. He also has a huge…secret. Student costumer Logan Benton and student stage manager Colton Corrigan share their tortured pasts and yearn for a happy future. Hunky ensemble members wealthy Lucas Alencar, ex-hustler Buck La Rue, and diner worker Marc Micklos claim to be straight, but visit gay establishments. Lighting designer student Alec Griffin shines the light on everyone’s antics, including mine.

 

Who was your favorite new character?

 

Student stage manager Colton Corrigan is working on a documentary about the show. He’s behind his camera more than a news reporter with acne. When he finally comes out (no pun intended), he opens up (pun intended) to another character in a big way.

 

Which new character do you like the least?

 

Ensemble member Buck La Rue, an ex-male escort, thrives to become a reality TV star and president. Remind you of anyone? He double crosses his best friend, Mark Micklos, in a shocking way.

 

Which new character was the hardest to pinpoint?

 

Ty Wilde, a thirteen-year-old, tough, homeless boy infiltrates the theatre—and Martin’s heart. When the entire chorus is murdered, Ty steps in as the Waif character and saves the show.

 

Which new character was the sexiest?

 

Dark-eyed muscleman Roman Giamani tosses his long dark hair past his broad shoulders. He carries a huge secret and also a huge heart.

 

What makes the Nicky and Noah mystery series so special?

 

Me! I’m a legend in my own mind. Actually, it’s a gay cozy mystery comedy series, meaning the setting is warm and cozy, the clues and murders (and laughs) come fast and furious, and there are enough plot twists and turns and a surprise ending to keep the pages turning “faster than a Super PAC buying a conservative politician.” At the center is the touching relationship between Noah and me. You watch us go from courting to marrying to adopting a child, all the while head over heels in love with each other. Reviewers called the series “hysterically funny farce,” “Murder She Wrote meets Hart to Hart meets The Hardy Boys,” and “captivating whodunits.” One reviewer wrote they are the funniest books she’s ever read! Another said Joe is “a master storyteller.” Who am I to argue? Even though I tell Joe everything to write.

 

How are the novels cozy?

 

Many of them take place in Vermont, a cozy state with green pastures, white church steeples, glowing lakes, and friendly and accepting people. Fictitious Treemeadow College (named after its gay founders, couple Tree and Meadow) is the perfect setting for a cozy mystery with its white Edwardian buildings, low white stone fences, lake and mountain views, and cherry wood offices with tall leather chairs and fireplaces. It’s even more cozy in winter with snow blanketing the campus and surrounding the village.

 

Why do you think there aren’t many other gay cozy mystery series out there?

 

Most MM novels are erotica, young adult, dark thrillers, or supernatural. While that’s fine, I think we’re missing a whole spectrum of fiction. In the case of the Nicky and Noah mysteries, they include romance, humor, mystery, adventure, and quaint and loveable characters in uncanny situations. The settings are warm and cozy with lots of hot cocoa by the fireplace. The clues and red herrings are there for the perfect whodunit. So are the plot twists and turns and a surprise ending to keep the pages turning over “like an anti-gay politician in the back of a pick-up truck.” No matter what is thrown in my path, I always end up on top, which is just fine with Noah.

 

For anyone unfortunate enough not to have read them, tell us a bit about the first ten novels in the series.

 

I’ll let Joe do that. He needs to be good for something. Take it away, Joe.

 

Joe: In Drama Queen (Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Award for Favorite LGBT Mystery, Humorous, and Contemporary Novel of the Year) Nicky directs the school play at Treemeadow College—which is named after its gay founders, Tree and Meadow. Theatre professors drops like stage curtains, and Nicky and Noah have to use their theatre skills, including impersonating other people, to figure out whodunit. In Drama Muscle (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention) Nicky and Noah don their gay Holmes and Watson personas again to find out why bodybuilding students and professors in Nicky’s bodybuilding competition at Treemeadow are dropping faster than barbells. In Drama Cruise it is summer on a ten-day cruise from San Francisco to Alaska and back. Nicky and Noah must figure out why college theatre professors are dropping like life rafts as Nicky directs a murder mystery dinner theatre show onboard ship starring Noah and other college theatre professors from across the US. Complicating matters are their both sets of wacky parents who want to embark on all the activities on and off the boat with the handsome couple. In Drama Luau, Nicky is directing the luau show at the Maui Mist Resort and he and Noah need to figure out why muscular Hawaiian hula dancers are dropping like grass skirts. Their department head/best friend and his husband, Martin and Ruben, are along for the bumpy tropical ride. In Drama Detective (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), Nicky is directing and ultimately co-starring with his husband Noah as Holmes and Watson in a new musical Sherlock Holmes play at Treemeadow College prior to Broadway. Martin and Ruben, their sassy office assistant Shayla, Nicky’s brother Tony, and Nicky and Noah’s son Taavi are also in the cast. Of course dead bodies begin falling over like hammy actors at a curtain call. Once again Nicky and Noah use their drama skills to figure out who is lowering the street lamps on the actors before the handsome couple get half-baked on Baker Street. In Drama Fraternity, Nicky is directing Tight End Scream Queen, a slasher movie filmed at Treemeadow College’s football fraternity house, co-starring Noah, Taavi, and Martin. Rounding out the cast are members of Treemeadow’s Christian football players’ fraternity along with two hunky screen stars. When the jammer, wide receiver, and more begin fading out with their scenes, Nicky and Noah once again need to use their drama skills to figure out who is sending young hunky actors to the cutting room floor before Nicky and Noah hit the final reel. In Drama Castle (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), Nicky is directing a historical film co-starring Noah and Taavi at Conall Castle in Scotland: When the Wind Blows Up Your Kilt It’s Time for A Scotch. Adding to the cast are members of the mysterious Conall family who own the castle. When hunky men in kilts topple off the drawbridge and into the mote, it’s up to Nicky and Noah to use their acting skills to figure out whodunit before Nicky and Noah land in the dungeon. In Drama Dance (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), during rehearsals of The Nutcracker ballet at Treemeadow, muscular dance students and faculty cause more things to rise than the Christmas tree. When cast members drop faster than Christmas balls, Nicky and Noah once again use their drama skills, including impersonating other people, to figure out who is trying to crack the Nutcracker’s nuts, trap the Mouse King, and be cavalier with the Cavalier before Nicky and Noah end up in the Christmas pudding. In Drama Faerie, Nicky and friends are doing a musical production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Treemeadow’s new Globe Theatre. With an all-male, skimpily dressed cast and a love potion gone wild, romance is in the starry night air. When hunky students and faculty in the production drop faster than their tunics and tights, Nicky and Noah use their drama skills to figure out who is taking swordplay to the extreme before Nicky and Noah end up foiled in the forest. In Drama Runway Nicky directs a runway show for the Fashion Department. When sexy male models drop faster than their leather chaps, Nicky and Noah use their drama skills to figure out who is taking the term “a cut male model” literally before Nicky and Noah end up steamed in the wardrobe steamer.

 

Joe is a college theatre professor/department chair like Martin Anderson in your series. Has that influenced your series, Nicky?

 

As a past professional actor and current college theatre professor/department chair, Joe knows first-hand the wild and wacky antics, sweet romance, and captivating mystery in the worlds of theatre and academia. The Nicky and Noah mysteries are full of them! He never seems to run out of wild characters to write about. His faculty colleagues and students kid him that if any of them tick me off, he’ll kill them in his next book. And he probably will. The little guy is fearless!

 

What do you like about the regular characters in the series?

 

I like my never give up attitude and sense of humor in the face of adversity. I’m genuinely concerned for others, and I’ll do anything to solve a murder mystery. I’m also a one-man man, and I’m proud to admit that man is Noah Oliver. Noah is blond, blue-eyed, lean, handsome, smart, and devoted. He makes the perfect Watson to my Holmes. (I always thought Holmes and Watson were a gay couple.) Noah also has a large heart and soft spot (no pun intended) for others. Finally, like me, Noah is gifted at improvisation, and creates wild and wonderful characters for our role plays to catch the murderer. I think it’s terrific how Martin and Ruben throw riotous zingers at each other, but they’re so much in love. You don’t see a lot of older gay characters in books nowadays. Of course Martin’s administrative assistant, Shayla, thrives on her one-upmanship with Martin, and he thrives right back.

 

How about your and Noah’s parents?

 

They’re hilarious. I love Noah’s mother’s fixation with taking pictures of everything, and his father’s fascination with seeing movies. I also love how Noah’s father is an amateur sleuth like me. As they say, men marry their fathers. My parents’ goal to feed everyone and protect their children is heartwarming. My mom’s gambling addiction is also a riot. Both sets of parents fully embrace their sons and their sons’ family, which is refreshing.

 

I’m sure Joe has been told that the books would make a terrific TV series.

 

Many many times. Rather than Logo showing reruns of Golden Girls around the clock, and Bravo airing so called reality shows, I would love to see them do The Nicky and Noah Mysteries. Come on, TV producers, make your offers! Joe has written a teleplay of the first novel and treatments for the remaining novels!

 

How would you cast the TV series?

 

Here’s my wish list: Matt Bomer as me, Neil Patrick Harris as Noah, Rosie O’Donnell and Bruce Willis as Noah’s parents, Valerie Bertinelli and Jay Leno as my parents, Joe as Martin Anderson (nepotism!), Nathan Lane as Martin’s husband Ruben, Wanda Sykes as Martin’s office assistant Shayla, and Joe Manganiello as my brother Tony.

 

Tell us about Joe’s other mystery series, the Jana Lane mysteries published by The Wild Rose Press.

 

Noah and I aren’t in them. So take it away, Joe.

 

Joe: I created a heroine who was the biggest child star ever until she was attacked on the studio lot at eighteen years old. In Paper Doll Jana at thirty-eight lives with her family in a mansion in picturesque Hudson Valley, New York. Her flashbacks from the past become murder attempts in her future. Forced to summon up the lost courage she had as a child, Jana ventures back to Hollywood, which helps her uncover a web of secrets about everyone she loves. In Porcelain Doll Jana makes a comeback film and uncovers who is being murdered on the set and why. In Satin Doll Jana and family head to Washington, DC, where Jana plays a US senator in a new film, and becomes embroiled in a murder and corruption at the senate chamber. In China Doll Jana heads to New York City to star in a Broadway play, faced with murder on stage and off. In Rag Doll Jana stars in a television mystery series and life imitates art. Since the novels take place in the 1980’s, Jana’s agent and best friend are gay, and Jana is somewhat of a gay activist, the AIDS epidemic is a large part of the novels.

 

And how about Joe’s New Jersey beach series?

 

Noah and I aren’t in those either. So you’re on again, Joe.

 

Joe: A reviewer compared them to Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City books. I was incredibly humbled and flattered. I love those books, and they are incredibly cinematic (hint-producers)! They are: Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back, Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward, Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out, Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings, and Cozzi Cove: Happy Endings. The series (NineStar Press) is about handsome Cal Cozzi’s gay beach resort on a gorgeous cove. I spent my summers as a kid on the Jersey Shore, so it’s a special place for me. The first novel was a Favorite Book of the Month on The TBR Pile site and won a Rainbow Award Honorable Mention. I love the intertwining stories of Cal and his family and the guests as Cozzi Cove, each so full of surprises. Cozzi Cove is a place where nothing is what it seems, anything can happen, and romance is everywhere. Some reviewers have called it a gay Fantasy Island.

 

What’s next for Joe?

 

Joe has a new mystery series, The Player Piano Mysteries. Book 2, The Player’s Encore, releases March 15, 2021. The Player Piano Mysteries take his cozy mystery writing into the supernatural world since the sleuth, dapper Freddy Birtwistle from the Roaring Twenties, is a ghost! But Noah and I aren’t in them.

 

How can your readers get their hands on Drama Christmas, and how can they contact you?

 

The purchase links are below, as are Joe’s contact links, including his web site. I love to hear from readers via Joe! He tells Noah and me everything you say about us!

 

Thank you, Nicky, for interviewing today.

 

My pleasure. “I’m happier than a priest with an altar boy’s robe malfunction.” It is my great thrill, joy, and pleasure to share this eleventh novel in my series with you. So take your seats. The stage lights are coming up on an infamous miser, Victorian lovers of the past, present, and future, a not so Tiny Tim, and murder!

 

DRAMA CHRISTMAS (the 11th Nicky and Noah mystery) by JOE COSENTINO

http://mybook.to/DramaChristmas

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1046358

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/2940164266332

http://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/Search?Query=9781005055967



E-book and Paperback: 193 pages

Language: English

Genre: MM, contemporary, mystery, comedy, romance, winter holiday, drama, academia

Cover Art: Jesús Da Silva

Release date: December 1, 2020


It’s winter holiday time at Treemeadow College, and Theatre Professor Nicky Abbondanza, his husband Theatre Associate Professor Noah Oliver, their son Taavi, and best friends Martin and Ruben are donning their gay apparel in a musical version of Scrooge’s A Christmas Carol, entitled Call Me Carol! More than stockings are hung when hunky chorus members drop like snowflakes. Once again, our favorite thespians will need to use their drama skills to catch the killer and make the yuletide gay before their Christmas balls get cracked. You will be applauding and shouting Bravo for Joe Cosentino’s fast-paced, side-splittingly funny, edge-of-your-seat entertaining eleventh novel in this delightful series. Take your seats. The stage lights are coming up on an infamous miser, S&M savvy ghost, Victorian lovers of the past, present, and future, a not so Tiny Tim, and murder!

Excerpt of Drama Christmas, the eleventh Nicky and Noah mystery, by Joe Cosentino:

Smog swirled through the London street, knighted by delicate snowflakes proclaiming the winter season. Women draped in fancy layered dresses, bonnets, and gloves strolled on the arms of men sporting long three-piece suits with white ruffled fronts and black top hats.

Like an open snow globe, the quaint Victorian village at Christmastime featured a lit candle shop, bay windowed toy store, succulent butcher shop, frilly hat maker, multicolored flower shop, and cozy inn. Festive holiday wreaths and elaborately decorated trees adorned all the establishments, except for one—Ebenezer Scrooge’s Counting House.

Suddenly, jazzy music played as the street inhabitants faced front singing and dancing of their city at Christmastime, “Oh de London, It’s Not Only Merry, It’s Gay.” During the last refrain, the fog swirls turned into black gusts, and the delicate snowflakes transformed into snowdrifts. Ducking for cover, the passersby screamed and hurried off the street. The shops blurred away like a painting under a faucet.

“Stop!”

Like a good holiday fruitcake, I’m back. It’s me, Nicky Abbondanza, PhD, Professor of Play Directing at Treemeadow College, loving husband to Associate Professor of Acting Noah Oliver, and doting father of Taavi Kapule Oliver Abbondanza—who calls me the director of his latest show. You’ve probably guessed the show is Scrooge’s A Christmas Carol. As many of you know, Treemeadow College in picturesque Vermont was founded by gay couple, Harold Tree and Jacob Meadow, whose bronze likenesses are celebrated at the college’s entrance—where many a grateful student has relieved himself after a dorm party. Given Treemeadow’s history, we couldn’t do a straight (pardon the pun) version of the Dickens classic. So, my best friend and Theatre Department Head, Martin Anderson, threatened to put coal in his long-suffering husband’s compression stockings if Ruben Markinson didn’t agree to produce an alternative version of the famous play. Ruben, feeling the holiday spirit—and Martin’s shoe in the seat of his leisure suit—secured a grant from the Gay, Gay, and Even More Gay Foundation to cover our budget. Then Martin wrote the book, music, and lyrics to Call Me Carol!, claiming the lead role of Scrooge/Carol for himself, and offering the part of the Ghost of Jacob Marley/Scrooge’s Lover of the Past to Ruben—commenting that Ruben was as old as any ghost. As director, I cast the most talented actor in the country, if not the world, to play Scrooge’s clerk, Bob Crotchitch—me. My husband, Noah, threatened to put anti-freeze in my eggnog if I didn’t cast him as Nephew Fred in addition to his position as acting coach for the show. Our son, Taavi, had a family court judge on his cell phone until I gave him the role of Tiny Tim. New Assistant Professor of Music Barrett Knight agreed to be musical director and play the Ghost of Scrooge’s Lover of the Future—after I reminded him about his upcoming fall tenure hearing. Theatre students not anxious to get home to relatives gloating about their children making big money in the business world were cast as ensemble members. Students also took on the tasks of choreographer, set designer, lighting designer, costume designer, and stage manager. Local Detective Jose Manuello, wanting to keep an eye on the production—and on me—offered to play the Ghost of Scrooge’s Lover of the Present. Let me explain for anyone who hasn’t read the previous ten Nicky and Noah mysteries—and you should! Mystery and mayhem follow me like a Republican president and a stolen Supreme Court seat. My productions are always met with bravos and wild applause. However, they’re also rife with murder—which I always use my theatre skills to solve. Hence Manuello’s interest in me and this show.

Since you can’t see me, I’m thirty-five. Okay, you got me, I’m really a youthful forty-three, tall, with dark hair, emerald eyes, a Roman nose, sexy cleft in my chin that Noah loves to kiss, and a pretty muscular body thanks to the torture devices in our college gym. There’s something else Noah loves to kiss. Brace yourself, Nicky and Noah newbies. I have a nearly foot long penis when erect. And despite my age, it’s erect a lot. That genetic gift from the Abbondanza line has helped me catch many a murderer, and it has made my father’s bakery a favorite with the women and gay men in Kansas—especially Papa’s cream pie.

Generally, Noah, Taavi, and I wear dress shirts, dress slacks, blazers, winter overcoats, and a long scarf. Since we are donning our gay apparel for this show, we’re outfitted in Victorian-era three-piece suits that are as uncomfortable as a Democrat at an Alt Right meeting.

So here we are at the start of winter break in tech week for our show. For you non-thespians, that’s the week prior to performances when the director generally bemoans his ulcer while suffering a heart attack en route to the psychiatric ward. Sitting in my front-row center seat in the theatre house—clutching my director’s notepad and pen like a surfboard during a tsunami—I called out to the student stage manager at his console offstage left, “Colton, what’s going on?”

 

GIVEAWAY INFORMATION: 

Post a comment about why you love models. The one that sends us down the runway will win a gift Audible code for the audiobook of Drama Queen, the first Nicky and Noah mystery, by Joe Cosentino, performed by Michael Gilboe!

https://www.audible.com/pd/Drama-Queen-Audiobook/B012I834LS 

 

 Praise for the Nicky and Noah mysteries:

 

“Joe Cosentino has a unique and fabulous gift. His writing is flawless, and his use of farce, along with his convoluted plot-lines, will have you guessing until the very last page, which makes his books a joy to read. His books are worth their weight in gold, and if you haven't discovered them yet you are in for a rare treat.” Divine Magazine

 

“a combination of Laurel and Hardy mixed with Hitchcock and Murder She Wrote…

Loaded with puns and one-liners…Right to the end, you are kept guessing, and the conclusion still has a surprise in store for you.” “the best modern Sherlock and Watson in books today…I highly recommend this book and the entire series, it’s a pure pleasure, full of fun and love, written with talent and brio…fabulous…brilliant” Optimumm Book Reviews

About the Author

Joe Cosentino was voted Favorite MM Mystery, Humorous, and Contemporary Author of the Year by the readers of Divine Magazine for Drama Queen, the first Nicky and Noah mystery novel. He is also the author of the remaining Nicky and Noah mysteries: Drama Muscle, Drama Cruise, Drama Luau, Drama Detective, Drama Fraternity, Drama Castle, Drama Dance, Drama Faerie, Drama Runway, Drama Christmas; the Player Piano Mysteries: The Player and The Player’s Encore; the Jana Lane Mysteries: Paper Doll, Porcelain Doll, Satin Doll, China Doll, Rag Doll; the Cozzi Cove series: Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back, Moving Forward, Stepping Out, New Beginnings, Happy Endings; the In My Heart Anthology: An Infatuation & A Shooting Star; the Tales from Fairyland Anthology: The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland and Holiday Tales from Fairyland; the Bobby and Paolo Holiday Stories Anthology: A Home for the Holidays, The Perfect Gift, The First Noel; and the Found At Last Anthology: Finding Giorgio and Finding Armando. His books have won numerous Book of the Month awards and Rainbow Award Honorable Mentions. As an actor, Joe appeared in principal roles in film, television, and theatre, opposite stars such as Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Jason Robards, and Holland Taylor. He received his Master of Fine Arts degree from Goddard College, Master’s degree from SUNY New Paltz, and is currently a happily married college theatre professor/department chair residing in New York State. http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com

 

Web site: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JoeCosentinoauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JoeCosen

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4071647.Joe_Cosentino

Amazon: Author.to/JoeCosentino




New Release Spotlight: Dragon Lesson/GIVEAWAY

Title: Dragon Lesson

Series: Supernatural Consultant, Book Seven

Author: Mell Eight

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: November 30th, 2020

Heat Level: 1 - No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 27900

Genre: Paranormal YA, NineStar Press, LGBTQIA+, young adult, new adult, dragon shifters, witch, magic-users, dragon family, young love, first kiss, kidnapping, escape, reunited

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

All Lumie wants to see is Goldie’s beautiful smile, but the only expression he ever shows Lumie is tears. When Goldie asks him for a favor, Lumie leaps at the chance to finally see Goldie happy. 

Goldie wants to live a life free of the fear that has chained him for so long, but breaking free once and for all may come with a higher price than he and Lumie are prepared to pay.

Excerpt

Dragon Lesson
Mell Eight © 2020
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One

The first time Lumie had seen Goldie in the flesh was one of the oddest moments of Lumie’s life. Lumie knew Goldie. He knew that shining golden hair, rosy in the sun like the gold was touched by fire. And those big golden eyes surrounded by dark-gold lashes were something Lumie had seen in his mind’s eye for years and years. He knew the moment when Goldie would come into his life, when Dane and Mercury would rescue him, but Lumie hadn’t understood what five years of captivity with the enemy would do to Goldie. Lumie had been lucky. He had barely been a day out of his egg when Mercury had come for him. Goldie had been held captive for far too long, and it had destroyed something inside of him.

Lumie had tagged along with Mercury, his daddy, when Mercury went to check on a mother dragon that had been rescued along with Goldie. When Mercury went into the house where the mother was staying with her new eggs, Goldie had snuck out the back door.

Looking back on that moment years later, Lumie realized Goldie was shaking in utter fear, but at the time, all Lumie had seen was the boy from his waking dreams.

“Hi!” Lumie had chirped happily. Goldie, on the other hand, had let out a shriek. He had stumbled back from Lumie, holding up his hands as if warding off a blow. Mercury and Martha, an air dragon in charge of the village, had come hurrying outside, and together they had coaxed Goldie back into the house. Goldie wouldn’t look at Lumie even once as he hurried up the stairs.

The encounter had left Lumie horribly confused for years. He knew what Goldie’s eyes looked like when he was smiling at Lumie: shining and bright. He had foreseen that happiness, but only in a dream rather than real life. Lumie didn’t understand the fear he saw inside Goldie. For the next thirteen years, Lumie had visited the village at least once a week and made a point of saying hello to Goldie. Eventually, Goldie stopped screaming and running from Lumie, but his fear never vanished.

Lumie had yet to see Goldie’s smile in person.

“Which wire?” Alloy hissed. From the slightly frantic tone of his voice, Lumie realized it wasn’t the first time Alloy had spoken. Lumie took his eyes from the gleaming gold-colored plate he had pulled off the security alarm, got his thoughts back to the present, and focused on the two different wires Alloy had pulled out of the guts of the alarm.

“It doesn’t matter which wire,” Lumie replied with a shrug. “Just heat them both really fast, then cool them off suddenly. Total wire failure won’t set off that sort of alarm.”

“Don’t even think about it,” Mercury snapped from behind them. The overhead light flickered on, bringing the foyer of the house Mercury owned with Dane into focus. Mercury had bronze-colored hair that fell just below his ears, and his bronze-colored eyes were sharp as he glared at Lumie and Alloy. He was angry. Lumie looked at the alarm box they had stripped and were about to destroy, and then back at Mercury’s glaring face.

Oh, he was mad about the alarm thing.

“I was just teaching.” Lumie grumbled. He held out the gold-colored plate, and Mercury yanked it from his hands.

“A, you’re both nineteen and should know better. B, you both promised me a thesis statement for the essay you have to write and one page from your algebra workbook before bedtime. You can teach Alloy about alarm systems when you’re not supposed to be doing other things.” Mercury growled. Magic flashed through the air, and the gold plate flew back into place on the alarm. The four screws Alloy had dropped to the floor flew into their slots and twisted until they were in place. “Plus,” Mercury continued in a softer tone, “you both left fingerprints all over the alarm system. Eventually someone would have noticed your tampering, and you both would have been caught.” He pulled one sleeve down over his palm and wiped at the gold plate before reaching out to snap the outer housing with all the buttons back onto the frame.

Alloy bounded off, and Lumie reluctantly followed. He had actually finished the math, but he hated essays. It would only take ten minutes to scrape together the one-sentence thesis statement, but he didn’t want to. At all. He had taken the damn test Mercury had wanted him to. His results weren’t back yet, but he had thought he was done with school with the damned GED out of the way. Mercury having the tutor continue to pile on more homework was ridiculous.

Instead of following Alloy upstairs, Lumie headed to the kitchen. He deserved a cinnamon bomb before having to go do his work.

Dane was already in the kitchen when Lumie walked in. He was on the phone, though, so he couldn’t speak up to stop Lumie from raiding the candy basket on top of the fridge. The happiest day of Lumie’s life was the day he realized he had finally grown tall enough to get to his candy on his own. Somehow Lumie thought that might have also been Dane’s unhappiest day, but he tried not to dwell on trivialities like that. Dane was super special in the magic world. Whatever. So was Lumie. That wasn’t even arrogance talking. Dane was the son of a god and a crazy lady from across the pond. Grandma came to visit every once in a while. Lately she had started bringing along her spell books. Those were interesting to read. Lumie had nicked a few since they were so much more interesting than the books Mercury had him reading.

Lumie’s powers, on the other hand, were… Well, he didn’t really have a way to define what he could do. As far as he knew, no one could explain why his magic was so odd. He was a fire dragon, so playing with fire was his favorite pastime—he liked it even better than tormenting Dane—but sometimes he saw things he shouldn’t, he could travel in ways a fire dragon shouldn’t be able, and he generally confounded Dane with the things he could do. That was part of the fun, really, and Lumie tried not to dwell on things that weren’t fun.

With his long blond hair pulled back into a tail at the base of his skull, Dane looked severe. His blue eyes glared pointedly at Lumie, so Lumie picked up the cinnamon bomb wrapper from where he had dropped it on the counter and put it in the trash. Taking care of the wrapper now was better than Dane’s magic yanking him back into the kitchen to do it later. Plus, if Lumie left too many wrappers lying around, the basket suddenly had a dearth of cinnamon bombs for a few days. It was punishment that Lumie did not enjoy.

Dane hung up the phone before Lumie could escape.

“That was the new secretary of defense,” Dane said. He was frowning down at the screen of his phone as he spoke, but he looked up at Lumie, and Lumie couldn’t help freezing in place.

He had seen this before. Daydreamed it, really. In the kitchen with Dane looking so serious. Dane was about to tell him something that would change his life forever.

Lumie didn’t want to hear it. He didn’t want to know. He liked his life right now. He was comfortable living in Dane’s home and eating the food Daisy, their caretaker, prepared for them. Nickel, Lumie’s adoptive brother, liked living away from home in the house he shared with his boyfriend, Platinum. All Lumie liked about that was since Nickel and Platinum had moved out, he had been allowed to take their bedroom for himself. Not having to share with Chrome any longer—not living in the constant mess Chrome was unable to ever properly clean—was amazing.

“He offered you a full scholarship to the college of your choice with the caveat that you come work for one of the defense agencies under his purview,” Dane continued before Lumie could stop him. “He apparently has an issue only someone of your skills can handle and is willing to do just about anything to get you to sign on.”

“He doesn’t know I’m available to hire through your consulting firm?” Lumie asked grumpily, used to speaking clearly around the cinnamon bomb stretching out one of his cheeks. It was too late; he had already heard what Dane had to say. His life was irrevocably changed. All he could do was try to keep the things he liked best safe when the turmoil hit.

“He wants to take out the middleman,” Dane explained with a shrug. “It will probably also cost them less overall to pay for your college and provide a steady work salary than to hire you through me.”

That didn’t surprise Lumie. Dane made the government pay through the nose. It allowed him to give people with fewer means the same service at a much more affordable price.

“Lumie, this is big for you. Your grades aren’t anything to laud, and you took an extra year to finish high school. Plus, a lot of colleges might discriminate against you because you’re a dragon. They’ll think you’ll wash out within a semester and not want to put any time or effort into accepting you.”

Everything Dane was saying was true. Dragons were one of the most uneducated creatures in the world—not because they were stupid or lacked the mental capacity for it, but because they didn’t have access to education in the wild where the majority of them lived. When they did venture into human civilization, their ignorance often caused someone to get hurt. Having someone from the secretary of defense’s office step in on Lumie’s behalf meant that none of those issues would be in his way, but Lumie had never been interested in college. He had taken his GED test only because Mercury and Dane had literally dragged him across the finish line. He didn’t even know if he had actually passed it yet.

“Alloy wants to go to college,” Lumie stated. He wasn’t sure if he was voicing a complaint that they hadn’t approached Alloy instead—even though Alloy lacked the specialized skills that made Lumie so distinctive—or whether he was grumpy that they thought they could buy him so easily.

“So we ask the secretary if he can get two college entrance letters,” Dane replied with an easy shrug. “Alloy might also have to agree to a few years working with the government too.”

“But he’s always liked what Daddy does and would apply to work for the SupFeds in a heartbeat if he could,” Lumie finished.

Mercury worked as a special agent for the Federal Bureau of Supernatural Investigations, which investigated issues that stemmed from the supernatural world. Dane worked with them often in his capacity as a private contractor with his Supernatural Consulting Firm, and Alloy had always wanted to join Mercury. Again, something Lumie wasn’t interested in. He liked his independence—and his laziness, to be perfectly honest. He picked the jobs he wanted to do whenever he felt like doing them. Getting tied down with an agency would end all that freedom.

“Let me think about it,” Lumie finally said after a few moments of silence.

Dane nodded. His smile was completely understanding. “You know Mercury and I only want you to be happy. If college isn’t for you, we can probably still work something out. Let me know what you think. Don’t take too long,” he added. “I don’t think this offer is indefinite, so we need to call the secretary back by Friday afternoon.”

Lumie nodded and rushed to escape the kitchen. He went upstairs to his private bedroom and flopped facedown on the bed.

It was too good an opportunity to pass up. College would suck, but it would make Mercury so happy. Afterward Lumie was guaranteed to have a good job where he could use his special skills to their fullest. It really was an amazing opportunity, but it meant the end of his simple and easy life.

And there was also Alloy to think about. Alloy, who was running down the very long driveway—over two miles long—every afternoon to check the mailbox to see whether his GED scores had arrived. As soon as he had his official letter, he was going to start applying to colleges. How would Lumie feel every time Alloy got a rejection letter from a school, and Lumie knew he could have saved Alloy from that pain?

Lumie snorted in disgust at himself. Was throwing away his freedom worth it for Alloy’s happiness? Probably, damn it, but it wasn’t fair.

He threw his body off his bed and twisted his magic around him in a way no other dragon could. His bedroom vanished from view, and he reappeared just outside a small town. The nearest house was just across the street. Lumie quickly rounded the building to get to the backyard.

The flash of golden hair in the sunlight caught Lumie’s attention first, and he eagerly hurried forward to Goldie’s side. Goldie wouldn’t have the answer Lumie wanted, but just being by his side for a few minutes helped soothe his roiling thoughts.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Books2Read Universal Link

Meet the Author

When Mell Eight was in high school, she discovered dragons. Beautiful, wondrous creatures that took her on epic adventures both to faraway lands and on journeys of the heart. Mell wanted to create dragons of her own, so she put pen to paper. Mell Eight is now known for her own soaring dragons, as well as for other wonderful characters dancing across the pages of her books. While she mostly writes paranormal or fantasy stories, she has been seen exploring the real world once or twice.

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Bok Spotlight/Giveaway: Hungry Business

 


Check out the new book by Maria DeBlassie, Hungry Business. Don't forget to enter the tour wide contest to win a Maria DeBlassie will be awarding a free ecopy of Hungry Business to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. The tour is sponsored by Goddess Fish Promotions and you can find all the tour stops HERE.

Talking with the author

Thanks for stopping by to talk a little about your writing! Let's jump right in. When did you begin writing and why?

 

Ive been writing for as long as I can remember, but it wasnt until I was in high school that I decided it wanted to be a Serious Writer. Reading was always a huge part of my life, so I think I just fell in love with the idea of telling stories.  I wrote every morning before school for twenty minutes a day, and longer in the summer—a habit I continue to this day!  I turned to blogging after finishing graduate school, and my first book, Everyday Enchantments, was born out of my daily musings on the things that made me happy from my blog.  Now, Im excited to be moving into fiction, my first writing love, with Hungry Business, a Gothic short story about searching for soul in a world thats forgotten the power of everyday magic.   

Do you have a favorite genre? Is it the same genre you prefer to write?

 

I love writing inspirational non-fiction, offering witchy tips and insights for people in search of a little more magic in their lives.  I also write cozy Gothic stories, urban fantasy, and romance.  I find they all nourish one another.  My non-fiction books on everyday magic help me craft the enchanting worlds in my fiction and my genre stories guide me deeper into everyday                          conjuring in my life beyond the written word.

Do certain themes and ideas tend to capture your writers imagination and fascinate you?

 

Absolutely!  I love writing about everyday magic and ordinary Gothic, those day in, day out happenings that remind us that the unseen world is just as real, just as important, as mundane life. They are, in fact, intricately connected. 

How do you balance long-term thinking vs. being nimble in today's market?

 

It’s important to be business savvy and read up on what’s going on the book world, both in indie and traditional markets.  But then you kind of have to throw it all out the window and write the story that needs to be written.  I find if I start trying to write to accommodate the market, the inspiration dries up.  My creative energy is mercurial like that.  It has its own way of doing things and wants to tell the stories that need telling in its own way and in its own time.  Long term, that means developing a body of work that will reach thoughtful readers who appreciate soulful stories.  

How do you find readers in today's market?

 

I’m a big believer in book magic. Stories are magic and your words will find the right audience.  Those who need your medicine will always find you.  Sure, I promote my books via blog tours, interviews, marketing and an active social media life and all that.   But it’s also important to remember that your stories know where they belong and who they want to speak to.  It’s a little woo-woo, I know, but writing is part of my magical practice as a bruja, and, as as such, follows its own path.

Do you come up with the hook first, or do you create characters first and then dig through until you find a hook?

 

Depends on the story!  Sometimes the hook finds me first, other times, I get to know characters and wonder what their struggles might be.  In the case of Hungry Business, I was struck by the hook—that dating is the zombie apocalypse of the soul.  Then the characters followed.  

How do you create your characters?

 

Sometimes they come to me in dreams, other times, they are parts of myself I want to explore more.  Or they’re sewn together from experiences, imaginings, and stray bits of thread and ink.

What's on the top of your TBR pile right now?

 

So many books!  I’m looking forward to reading Iron & Velvet by Alexis Hall, a queer occult detective novel; The Chocolate Kiss by Laura Florand, a romance about a Parisian kitchen witch;  and Tarot: No Questions Asked: Mastering the Art of Intuitive Reading by Theresa Reed, to deepen my own tarot practice…I could go on, but that’s a pretty decent look at the range of books I’m reading at any given time.

Tell me a little about the characters in Hungry Business.

 

The main protagonist in Hungry Business (which I am only just now realizing remains nameless in the short story—she’s certainly never revealed her name to me!), is searching love in all the wrong places.  She’s got a lot of heart and a lot of hope, but she’s struggling to stay true to herself in a world that wants her numb and soulless.  Of course, her struggles are unfolding against the backdrop of a supernatural pandemic, which complicates things.  But where there’s hope, there’s magic, something my protagonist learns by the end of the story.


Wheres the story set? How much influence did the setting have on the atmosphere/characters/development of the story?

 

The story is set in a city that is in the midst of a supernatural pandemic.  Zombies are real, only nobody knows what’s causing people to turn. It’s something that starts on the inside and spreads outward, so it’s not contagious in the typical sense, but people can’t figure out what makes one person turn and not another.  Much like what we’re experiencing in our own real-life pandemic, this story shows that when the world seems dark and dreary, the only solution is to turn inward, back to soul, to our inner life.  Then the magic happens. 

If you had to write your memoir in five words, what would you write?

 

How about six words?  Fictional character trapped in writer’s body.

How often does your muse distract you from day to day minutiae?

 

The minutiae is my muse!  I love everyday life, corny as it sounds.  The magic of a Monday, the quiet bliss of an afternoon cup of tea, the illicit joy of reading late into the night…these are the simple pleasures that make life wonderful.  Its easy to overlook them, get swept up in our to-do lists, but when we pause and take in the beauty around us, we remember to be more than that to-do list. We glean wisdom in the whispering trees and the synchronous happenings that punctuate our day.  We remember to             dream.  And that kind of ordinary joy is pure magic that inspires my writing. 

What do readers have to look forward to in the future from you?

 

Readers can enjoy more cozy Gothic short stories in the coming year, plus my second book, Practically Pagan ~ An Alternative Guide to Everyday Magic, which will be release September 24, 2021. The title says it all: it’s a practical guide to conjuring a more magical life!




GENRE: Gothic, Horror (Cozy)

The book is $0.99 during the tour 

Amazon buy link: https://www.amazon.com/Hungry-Business-Short-Maria-DeBlassie-ebook/dp/B08L48MVHD

 

From the multi-award-winning author of Everyday Enchantments: Musings on Ordinary Magic & Daily Conjurings comes a cozy Gothic short story about searching for connection in a world that's forgotten the power of everyday magic. 

Looking for love can be deadly... 

You know how it goes.  You go out, hoping to meet someone.  You wade through your fair share of brainless automatons, lifeless bodies, and ravenous undead good at passing as human.   

The more you go out, the less hope you feel and the colder your body gets.  But you keep at it.  All you need is one beating heart to match your own before yours stops pumping altogether.  How hard can it be to find one living, breathing human in a city full of bodies?  

Dating.  

It's hungry business. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Excerpt Two:

 

This one looks a little better, you think optimistically.

 

You sit across from each other at the dinner table.  The white tablecloth is as smooth and unblemished as his collared shirt.  He has dressed for the occasion, taking care to hide the evidence of his affliction as best he can (though truly there is only so much he can do with a missing ear and half a brain).  Still, the tuxedo and carefully applied makeup are enough to create the illusion of pumping blood beneath his pallid, blush-stained cheeks—in the right light. Which is another reason why you chose this place.  Candlelight can hide a multitude of sins.        

 

His manners are studied and smooth, as if he has spent a lot of time practicing more human-like movements and behavior. You admire a man who makes that kind of effort.  He watches you as much as you do him, as if he is trying to remember what it was like to be alive. When you reach for your wine glass, so does he—only his thick decaying fingers almost crush the stem, whereas your nimble live ones carefully bring the dark red liquid to your mouth. You try not to notice how he stares at your lips—stained now from the wine—wondering, perhaps, how you taste.

 

GIVEAWAY: 

Maria DeBlassie will be awarding a free ecopy of Hungry Business to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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Maria DeBlassie, Ph.D. is a native New Mexican mestiza blogger, award-winning writer, and award-winning educator living in the Land of Enchantment. Her first book, Everyday Enchantments: Musings on Ordinary Magic & Daily Conjurings (Moon Books 2018), and her ongoing blog, Enchantment Learning & Living are about everyday magic, ordinary gothic, and the life of a kitchen witch. When she is not practicing her own brand of brujeria, she’s reading, teaching, and writing about bodice rippers and things that go bump in the night.  She is forever looking for magic in her life and somehow always finding more than she thought was there. Find out more about Maria and conjuring everyday magic at www.mariadeblassie.com.

 

Social Media Links:

 

https://linktr.ee/mdeblassie

 

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7rY-gLkSH-w8uuVyrhVALA

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17535853.Maria_DeBlassie

https://www.facebook.com/EnchantmentLL

https://twitter.com/EnchantmentLL

https://www.pinterest.com/mdeblassieell

 



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