Jana Danardo on Fishkill

When Kim first suggested this blog idea, I was very excited. I’ve lived a lot of places, but we settled on the delightful, evocatively named Fishkill, NY for me to talk about. It’s been some time since I lived there. I was a different person then, on a rigorous, almost killer, career track from which I’ve since diverged. I was young, in my twenties, but what made me so interested in this little Hudson Valley River town hasn’t changed in the intervening years: History. At no point in my life have I not loved history, and Fishkill swims in it, pun intended.


The first thing upon arrival I had to find out why it was named Fishkill, since it couldn’t mean what PETA assumed it meant (seriously, they petitioned to make the town change its name to something animal friendly). ‘Kil’ is actually Dutch for stream or creek, and you’ll find many New York towns with ‘kill’ in them. Growing up in Pittsburgh with its heavy Italian and Polish influences, I knew little more about the Dutch settlers other than they were some of the first people to immigrate to America.


At the time, I had learned very little about the Dutch beyond the fact they had gotten the land that Fishkill occupied from the Wappinger Indians, and found out even less about the Wappingers. However, the Dutch left their fingerprints all over this part of New York, including what became for me the touchstone of the town: The First Reformed (Dutch) Church.


Not only was the architecture alluring, it had a cemetery that was, for this country, very old. Many of the gravestones were in Dutch and had wonderful artwork on them, remarkably well-preserved in the sandstone. 

 I was fascinated by the stones and wanted to know more about the people they represented. I was a little surprised to learn the townspeople originally sent back to Amsterdam to find Dutch-speaking priests since in the early 1700s this was not an easy task.


But as I learned, the church had a far more interesting and dark history. All of Fishkill was very active in the Revolutionary War, becoming part of the largest Colonial encampment and the base of Alexander Hamilton. One can touch the history of the revolution all around Fishkill. The Van Wyck Homestead was part of the Fishkill Supply Depot, feeding thousands of militia men. In the 1970’s, when much of the land became a mall, they unearthed tons of artifacts from the era, though the unmarked graves of the men who died of smallpox have not been found. Mount Gulian, Gulian ver Planck’s home became General von Steuben’s residence, and he went on to become famous for being the man who truly shaped the Colonials into a fighting force.


However, as interesting as those sites are, it was the First Reformed (Dutch) church that held my interest. The unassuming church became a site of meetings for the military officers and then became a prison for British prisoners.

 Imagine what these walls would say if they spoke. All the fear and pain they had to have witnessed. I couldn’t keep the image of imprisoned soldiers out of my mind. Even learning that the church later became the seat of New York’s Provincial Congress after the British drove them out of New York City and White Plains didn’t displace the thoughts about the prisoners.

I wanted more than anything to get inside that church. Bringing up the history to the locals was met with hostility. I suppose no one wants to remember their dark side, but it was that side that fascinated me. I never did get to go inside. Oh, it’s an active church to this day, but at that time, they still worked medical residents on long shifts, 36 hours on not being uncommon, so if I was off on a Sunday morning, I either slept or did all the things that needed doing. That’s the difference between me then and me now. Today, I would have found a way inside. I would have tried to cajole my way into the area the prisoners were held because I simply had to see it.


I may go back someday. I do go back in my imagination. I just traveled back to this area in an upcoming steampunk novella, and yes the main character is Dutch. Fishkill is a picturesque little town and fun for the history buff. You might be seeing it in my stories sometime soon, if only to ponder why there is a tombstone for a Gray alien in the First Reformed Dutch church’s cemetery.  Thanks to Kim for having me on her blog today.

A Sunday afternoon walk in Zagreb

I’ve returned from Bosnia for my final week in Croatia. It’s been pretty wet here and I have a ton of work to do. But when the sun snuck out for a short time this afternoon, I couldn’t resist a stroll.
I love the way the light was hitting this church. You can see a fancier church behind it.

There are a couple things I like about this shot. First, you can see that Croatians have a tendency to stick vineyards anywhere they can. I’ve been told it’s how you show off here. Instead of a fancy car, you have a vineyard and homemade wine. This vineyard is right in the middle of Croatia’s biggest city.
You can also see some history here, if you know what to look for. In medieval times, Zagreb was two towns–Gradec and Kaptol–each atop a hill, with a river between them. They often squabbled. Eventually they were united and the river, which was polluted, was covered by a street. The house on the left was once at the edge of Gradec. The house on the right is on Tkalciceva, the street that covered the river.

Today there were firemen on Tkalciceva. I don’t know what they were doing–something on the back of that roof. But quite a few of us stopped to watch and snap photos. Sunday afternoons are sleepy times in Zagreb, and good for small entertainments like this.

This is my building at the bottom of Tkalciceva. Yes, it’s really curved. Makes for an interesting shaped apartment. Notice that I can buy shoes without even leaving the building (there are 2 more shoe stores around the corner, also in my building).

But these were at the shoe store across the street. They’re in men’s sizes. Do you know any men who would wear sparkly teddy bear sneakers (in gold or silver)? I kind of like the ones with the wings, though.

My building also houses something called The World of Fungi. I have not visited it.

People here love food stands and will grab any opportunity to have them. Christmas has provided them with an ample opportunity, even if it’s over a month away. There are booths all over the center of the city, including these colorful ones near the funicular. One of the booths was selling “American style hot dogs.” That tower to the right of the funicular top is called Thieves Tower. It was part of the city wall of Gradec. Nowdays, there’s a cannon at the top, which is fired at noon every day.

Lost my heart

This is Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia & Herzegovina. I’ve spent a lot of time in Croatia, but this week was my first visit to Bosnia (unless you count 10 minutes along the Dalmatian coastline). Bosnia has stolen my heart and broken it.
It’s a beautiful place. You can tell that from the photo above. And it’s exotic too. For many centuries, it’s been a place where many cultures came together. Although the locals were mostly Slavs, many converted to Islam after the Ottoman Empire conquered the land. Today, slightly less than half of Bosnians are Muslim, and there is definitely an Eastern flavor to the place. Here’s a shot of the old town, which dates to the 16th century or so.
There are also large numbers of Catholics and Eastern Orthodox, and Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews have been living there for centuries too. You can hear muezzins and church bells, can peer out a synagogue’s windows to see minarets and cathedrals. And you can also see plenty of buildings left over from the Austro-Hungarian and communist Yugoslavia years. It’s fascinating.

The people I met in Bosnia were lovely and wonderfully quirky. In the photo above, two teams of men are playing giant chess. My guide said sometimes people bet on the matches. In Sarajevo, you can drink coffee at Club Bill Gates:

Or eat at Kenttucky (sic) Fried Chicken.
The countryside is beautiful too–steep mountains with limestone cliffs, winding rivers, villages with tall haystacks and roadside stands selling honey, cabbages, and oranges. And two hours from Sarajevo is Mostar.

 Stunningly beautiful, isn’t it?

Food in Bosnia is cheap. I had espresso and a slice of delicious cake for a little over $2. I had a huge plate of burek and a can of Coke for about $3.

People speak a lot of English, and are patient with my pidgin Croatian (which becomes pidgin Bosnian there, because the two languages are almost identical). The locals have a wonderfully dark sense of humor. They smoke too much and drive like they’re insane. They drink Bosnian coffee with Turkish delight or baklava. They seemed delighted to show off their country to me.

But then there’s the heartbreak part. See that beautiful, famous bridge in Mostar? It was destroyed during the war and had to be rebuilt. Damaged and destroyed buildings are still everywhere in Bosnia. In Sarajevo and Mostar you can’t go outside without seeing signs of the war on buildings and sidewalks.

That’s an apartment building. You can see where a shell hit it and where the shrapnel sprayed. The only buildings without signs of damage are those built after the war or repaired. Everything else is marked. Sidewalks still have holes. The ones painted red are called Sarajevo Roses–they designate places where people died.

And the people are marked too, although they aren’t the least bit bleak. You can see some of what I mean in the top photo I posted, where rows of gravestones in the foreground all date from 1992-1995. That cemetery was once a park. But Sarajevans couldn’t leave the besieged city to bury their dead, so they buried them wherever they could.

One of my guides lost his father, stepbrother, grandmother, and all his possessions during the war. The other spent a long time trapped–with 60,000 other people–between two different enemy armies, unable to get food or medical care, watching her hometown being destroyed.

Bosnians like to quote Churchill, who said the Balkans generates more history than it can consume. That breaks my heart. That Bosnians can survive all this with courage, good humor, and graciousness is why my heart’s stolen as well.

Grocery shopping

Did you get your free copy of Equipoise? Today’s the last day.
Today I want to discuss grocery shopping. Yawn, right? Except if you’re doing it in another country–a country where you don’t speak the language–it becomes an adventure!
I lived here before (for 5 months last time), so I did learn a lot of food words. For example, kruh is bread. Plus, of course, bread is pretty recognizable in the store. Except I generally have little idea which specific kind of bread I’m buying. Like this, for example:
I think that first word means something like mixture, but I’m not sure. It was tasty in any case.
Sometimes I like to buy ajvar, a  relish made from roasted peppers and eggplant. It’s yummy stuff. But it also comes in a zillion varieties (some of which are quite hot), and I’m never sure which to choose. I usually grab one at random.
Even when I know the words on the package, I may remain uninformed. Like with this:

Med means honey, and cvjetni means flowers. Not too informative, really. Sometimes the packaging language I don’t understand isn’t even Croatian. They get lot of products here from Austria, so:
Okay, I do happen to know that johannisbeere means blackcurrant. And I can recognize the word in Croatian, too: crni ribiz. But sometimes I am clueless:
Is it liquid detergent or fabric softener? I don’t understand German, and the helpful Croatian sticker doesn’t really help me much either.

It’s fabric softener, by the way. Sometimes I’m confused even when there are no words at all, such as this control on my microwave:
I have no idea what the hell those symbols mean. Where should I turn the dial to nuke potatoes or warm leftovers? I dunno. And then sometimes the package is in English, which takes all the fun out of everything:
My soup even has preparation instructions in English, which is no fun at all.
Another challenge is when familiar items are packaged in ways I’ve never seen before. Like this:

Actually, mayo in a squeeze bag is a great idea. I’ve just never seen it that way in the US. And here is how one purchases toothpicks:
I know an American who bought some yogurt here. But when she opened it, she discovered it was actually sour cream. You can understand her confusion:

 Yeah, that’s sour cream on the right. Fortunately, that’s a word I do know.

Some packaging is just mystifying:

Why is it important to advertise that the peas are sterilized? And you know what else? Grasak means peas and grah means beans. So which is it? Aha–this is a sneaky one. Grah means beans in Croatian but it means peas in Slovenian. Yes, this is a bilingual package again, but one that might confuse someone (like me) who speaks little Croatian and no Slovenian.

One really fun thing is discovering products we don’t have at home. Like this flavor of Colgate:

Why can’t we get this in the US? I love this flavor of toothpaste. We also can’t get this  candy:
The name makes me laugh, because it’s pronounced “choke-sah.” Not the best name for a food product, is it? And bum-bum? Snort. Yes, it is actually pronounced “boom-boom” here. This chocolate has Pop Rocks in it.
Finally, look what caraway seeds are called in Croatian!

 Tomorrow I’m off on a side trip to BiH–Bosnia & Herzegovina. I’ll have pics of Sarajevo and Mostar to share when I get back to Zagreb.

Tinnean’s Early Bird Special!

I’d like to thank Kim for allowing me to talk about a quaint little custom you’ll find down here in Florida known as “early bird specials.”
I’m a native New Yorker, and of course I’d heard the term “early bird special” before moving to Florida.  The thing is, up in NY, it meant department store sales. Or, y’know, mattress sales.
After I moved to Florida… Well, let me just say I was in for a treat. Or an experience, however you choose to view it.
Early bird specials down here refer to dining, and can start anywhere from 2 or 3 p.m. and run until about 5 or 5:30 or sometimes even 6, depending on the restaurant. The major bonus is that the meals are a good deal less expensive than during the usual hours.
As you may (or may not) know, Florida is also referred to as God’s waiting room, due to all the senior citizens who retire to the Sunshine State, and if there’s one thing they like, it’s a bargain.
Within the time frame I mentioned, you’ll find diners strolling in. (or rushing in, in order to make sure they get a table and their order is placed on time, otherwise they’re just out of luck.) After being seated, usually by their favorite waitress, they get a menu with specific meals listed on it. (Let’s face it: as good as the choices are, you’re not going to get a lobster dinner for $9.99.)
Generally the meals will consist of a soup or salad, entrée, potato, and veggie. One place I patronize includes dessert, and needless to say, I visit them frequently. They can be sneaky though, slipping in the caveat that you have to order a beverage as well, and you need to be prepared for that.
However, you still get a great deal.

So… if you come down to Florida, this is what you need to know if you plan on taking advantage of the early bird specials: you don’t have to be a senior citizen—that’s what senior citizen menus are for—but you do have to get there in plenty of time. These places don’t have benches outside just for curb appeal.


The Light in Your Eyes (Pick Up the Pieces) is the story of Theo Bascopolis, a Greek boy who lived in Tarpon Springs, Florida. He was a good boy, until the day a few weeks after his fifteenth birthday, when his father discovered he was gay and threw him out. A chance meeting with an older man resulted in Theo, renamed Sweetcheeks, becoming a rent boy.  Eventually, years later, he left the business because someone loved him enough to ask him to stop. However, when his lover had to go out of town again, and failed to keep in touch—again—Theo started to worry that it was the beginning of the end.

(And although I didn’t mention it in the story, there’s a good possibility that Franky, the older man, took Sweetcheeks to a local diner that offered early bird specials.)


As much as the Greek girls of our community in Tarpon Springs had their lives mapped out, so had the boys.

Once I grew up, I’d become a fisherman as my father was. Eventually I’d marry a nice Greek girl, and we’d give our fathers a new grandson or granddaughter every year.

That was the way it was supposed to be, only….

When I was fifteen years old, my father threw me out for being gay.

I knew what my father thought of homosexuals, had heard him and his friends, the fishermen down at the docks, sneer and tell coarse jokes about them.

But he was my father. He was supposed to love me, just as I loved him.

Instead, and as I probably should have expected, he shouted, “Theo Bascopolis, you stop being gay right now, or else you get the fuck out of my house!”

Ma cried and wrung her hands, and my little sister threw herself at me and held on, but Poppa just stood there with his hands clenched into fists, his face set.

I had no choice. I couldn’t obey the one, so I obeyed the other, and I got the fuck out of his house.

Since that time, I’d been a rent boy.

But it didn’t start out that way.

Chapter 1

It was getting late, and it was starting to drizzle, unusual since this was the dry season in Florida.

Was this God’s way of punishing me for being gay?

I sat on a park bench trying not to cry.

 “Whatsa matter, kid?”

 Before me stood a man. The rain didn’t seem to bother him. He must have been about twice my age, but he was wearing jeans and a white tee-shirt and Reeboks. He had a tattoo of coiled barbed wire around his upper arm and numerous piercings—along the cartilage of his right ear, along his eyebrow. Through the dampness of his tee, his nipples were prominent. The one above his heart bore a ring.

He looked so sexy that in spite of my predicament, I felt my dick hardening.

I shouldn’t have said anything, he was a stranger, but he also looked so sympathetic that I found myself pouring out the story of my plight.

“And… and then Poppa told me to get out.” I sniffed hard.

“That’s tough. You’re a sweet-looking kid. What’s your name?”

I glanced away, reluctant to tell him in case he was a social worker or something and was going to take me in to the cops, who’d put me into some kind of juvenile home after they called my father and found out he didn’t want me anymore.

He laughed softly. “Well, I’ll call you Sweetcheeks. My name is Franky. How old are you?”

My birthday had been a few weeks before. “I’m fifteen.” I bit my lip. I hadn’t even thought of lying to him. 

“Yeah?” His eyes were hot as they ran over my body. “Sweet fifteen.” I blushed. “You’re getting wet. Why don’t you come with me, Sweetcheeks? I’m pretty sure I’ve got some leftovers in the fridge, and I’ve got a bed you can use.”

“Sure.” There was a tingling sensation in my groin, and my asshole clenched. I wouldn’t mind sleeping with him, if that was what he wanted in exchange for a place to stay. I’d fooled around with some boys in the men’s room at the multiplex, and I’d liked it, but I’d never done much beyond mutual hand jobs.

We had to walk a bit to catch the trolley that would take us to where he lived. “Cabs won’t go there,” he said, his smile apologetic.

I guessed it was a good thing that Poppa that thrown me out on a Friday, when the trolley ran until midnight.

The trolley driver gave us a bored look. Franky showed the driver his pass and gave him the fare for me without even asking if I had the money, which was a good thing, because I’d used my last couple of dollars at McDonalds.

I walked ahead of him to the back of the trolley.

 “Hey! You’re a redhead! I just noticed! It was too dark to tell before we got on the trolley, and I guess your hair was too wet.” Franky tipped his head to one side. “Are you a natural redhead?”

 “Excuse me?” Was he flirting with me? I liked the thought that he was.

 “Are you a redhead… all over?”

 I realized he meant the hair that covered my groin, and I blushed and nodded. I got the deep mahogany coloring from Ma’s side of the family. There was at least one redhead in each generation. I would have preferred to have brown hair like Poppa, but my sister Casey got that.

“Cool.” He winked at me.

I opened my mouth to tell him about Greeks having red hair—not many people knew that—but he started talking.

I sat beside him and listened while he talked about the cities he’d lived in: New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles—the exciting, glitzy cities that I’d read about and wanted to see myself but knew I never would. There was little chance I would ever get out of Tarpon Springs.
This book will be available in February/March of 2014.



Housekeeping is here! Plus a free book!

Today’s the release date for my newest novella, Housekeeping.

 That gorgeous American Gothic-inspired cover is by the amazing Paul Richmond. Here’s the blurb:

When Nicky Hauser walks in on his restaurant-owner boyfriend having sex with a waiter, Nicky loses his lover, his job, and his home all in one night. Although he’s nearly thirty, he’s never settled on a true career, and he has nothing to show for his years with Tom. Depressed and unable to find work, Nicky ends up couch-surfing with friends until he lands a house-sitting gig for a wealthy family.

When Nicky’s clients discover that he loves to clean, demand for his services skyrockets. Word of mouth leads him to Spencer Cartwright, a busy computer consultant and a slob. Spencer and his wife divorced when he came out, but he’s never found the time or courage to settle down with a man. As Nicky sets Spencer’s house to rights, the two men find friendship. But Nicky’s past experiences make him wary of risking everything on love.

We needed something a little light after The Tin Box, I think. Housekeeping is light, but it has a sweetness and heart to it that I hope you enjoy. In addition to the main characters, I had special fun with some of the supporting characters in this one.

You can order Housekeeping through Dreamspinner Press, or through Amazon, All Romance Ebooks, or other booksellers.

To celebrate the new release, my book Equipoise is free in Kindle format, today through November 16! Yes, Equipoise is the third in a trilogy, so you’ll probably want to buy the first two. But Stasis is only 99 cents and Flux is just $4.99. Plus I donate all my royalties from this trilogy to Doctors Without Borders, so you’ll be helping a good cause. Oh, and Stasis is also available in an audio version! Audio version of the other two books are in production.

And here’s a little snippet from Housekeeping:

Evan blew him a kiss and fluttered his eyelashes, then stole a piece of Balvir’s cookie. “Calories don’t count if you eat off someone else’s plate,” he said.
Deciding that a change of topic was in order, Nicky leaned back in his chair. “Didn’t you guys go see a play last weekend?”
That set his friends on a long and involved critique of the actors, the plot, the dialogue, and the costumes. Nicky smiled and listened but kept his gaze on the handsome guy, who was typing furiously. Evan was in the middle of an impassioned diatribe against the set designer’s entire family tree when the guy knocked his arm into his cup, sloshing coffee across his sleeve. “Fuck!” he yelled, startling the gaggle of teenagers at a nearby table. Then he simply stared at his arm, looking as if he might cry.
Nicky was out of his seat before he could stop himself. He grabbed a wad of paper napkins from the dispenser on the guy’s table and started blotting at his sleeve. “You didn’t burn yourself, did you?” Nicky asked.
“Uh… no. It cooled off already.”
“Well, that’s good.” Nicky looked critically at the brown blotch marring the blue fabric. “You might be able to save the shirt, though. Get it home right away and drown it in Shout.”
“Stain remover.”
The man shook his head with bemusement. “I don’t have any.”
How could you not own stain remover? Nicky sighed. “Then try this. Soak it in warm water with a little dish soap. You do have dish soap, right? And then sponge on a little rubbing alcohol. That might do the trick.”
“I think… I think I’ll just throw it away.”
Nicky shrugged. The shirt had probably cost a hundred bucks, but that wasn’t his problem. “Okay.” He was still clutching the wad of napkins and he knew he should walk away, but those green eyes had him pinned in place. And those eyelashes couldn’t be real, could they? Nobody had eyelashes that long and thick.
“I have a meeting in forty-five minutes,” said the man, looking like a lost child. “An important one.”
“Well, that stain’s going to show, even if you wear your jacket. See? It’s all the way to the edge of your cuff.” Nicky set his finger on the fabric in question and pretended not to notice how big and strong the guy’s hand was. Nicky was definitely notthinking about what that hand would feel like on his bare skin.
“Oh… crap.” The phrase came out sounding so lost and overwhelmed that Nicky’s lust was replaced by pity.
“Look. There’s a Kohl’s a couple blocks from here. Just turn left out of the parking lot. They’re not going to carry any shirts as nice as this one, but I bet you can zoom over, pick up a plain white button-down, and make it to your meeting in plenty of time.”
The guy smiled at him. One of his front teeth was the slightest bit crooked, which somehow made him even better-looking. “Thanks, man. Are you some kind of guardian angel?”
Nicky grinned back. “If I were, I’d have saved you before you spilled. Um, and when you’re at the store? You might want to pick up a pair of socks too. Yours don’t match.”
The man grunted and looked down at his ankles. “They don’t?”
“One’s navy and one’s hunter green.”
“I’m color-blind.
“Find an employee at the store. Have them pick out a pair of black socks for you.”
“Thanks. I… I better go.”
Nicky stepped back and watched as the man closed his laptop and folded his jacket over an arm. The guy held out his stained arm so Nicky could shake his hand. “Thanks again. Really.” He had a firm grip.
Nicky wanted to straighten his tie, but there didn’t seem to be much point since the guy would be changing clothes anyway. “Good luck with the meeting.”
He watched as the man walked away.

Please welcome Charlie Cochet!


All right, Johnnie here, stop three. I’ve had to borrow Henry’s car as mine’s getting worked over by a couple of grease monkeys. What happened? You ain’t got to know, so mind your potatoes. Let’s just say it involved a halfwit named Glen, a few minutes of feeling good before several days of feeling like warmed over cow dung. Speaking of cows…
[Attribution Graham Horn [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons]
That’s a cow in a field. Elliot refused to let me leave the manor for this little excursion unless I promised to point out the cow. Yeah, I have a soft spot for the squirt. There’s nothing particularly special about this cow, only that Elliot finds them fascinating. You should see how excited he gets on our trips to London. He points out each and every one the train passes. You know how many cows there are between Aylesbury and London? Me neither, but it’s a lot. You’d have thought it’d drive me off my nut by now, but I seem to possess this rare ability to summon patience where the little ragamuffin is concerned. Anyway, I don’t know how the kid never gets tired of lookin’ at those cows. I mean, all they do is chew grass and ruin your shoes. Kid’s an oddball.
[Attribution: Steve Cook [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons]
Once you drive past all the fields–and cows, you eventually get to the town of Aylesbury and the Market Square. If you have an automobile, you can park in the center near Lord Chesham’s statue. Here’s a photograph of it here. And here’s one of ole Chesham himself here. It’s a pleasant town and a big change for those of us who grew up in New York City. Here everyone knows everyone and gossip runs rampant. Do I gossip? Lay off. Fellas don’t gossip. What’s that? Yeah, I’m not buying it either. Of course we gossip. Though between you and me, no one has mastered the art of blathering like Chance. I’m pretty sure there are some town grannies out there taking notes.

Kings Head

[Attribution: flickr 70023venus2009, http://www.flickr.com/photos/70023venus2009/6273622716/sizes/z/
This is the King’s Head Inn. Like a lot of things in England, it’s really, really old. Henry said something about it going back to the 1400’s or something. This is the part where having an Englishman around would come in real handy. No dice, ay? Fine. Have it your way. You want a fact about the inn? Here you go: it’s haunted. Or so they say. Some of the town’s folks believe there are a couple of ghosts hanging about, not that it deters Chance and Jacky from running off there to have a romantic rendezvous whenever they can. Personally, I don’t want to know what they get up to over there. All I know is there’s a corset involved and who the heck knows what else. Those two are deceptively racy. What’s that? Would I ever take Henry there? Uh, well, the thing is… Say, what kinda tour you think I’m running here? Tomorrow’s the bakery. Until then, enjoy the cows and ghosts.


IAJW200Eight years after leaving the deserts of Africa and the French Foreign Legion behind, Jonathan Wolfe has settled into life at Hawthorne Manor in the English countryside. Johnnie helps his adopted family run the manor and provide a safe, loving home for a new generation of “brats”: boys mistreated and discarded for their homosexuality—something all too familiar to Johnnie.
Although no longer an unruly youngster, Johnnie is as stubborn, foul-mouthed, and troublesome as ever. His recent rash behavior becomes a concern for those closest to him, especially Dr. Henry Young, the only man ever to capture Johnnie’s heart. Instead of soothing him, their closeness brings Johnnie’s insecurities from an unsettling past to the surface, and leads to an explosive situation that threatens to tear them apart. Then Henry’s past catches up to them….

  Excerpts are in the form of a serial. Read Part 2 on Sue Brown’s blog here.   Excerpt Part 3

In fact, it was probably best I stop picturing it because certain parts of me were definitely expressing interest.
“Look, I know what I got is a million to one. I don’t know what I’ve done to end up with Jacky, but while I have him, I’m gonna make the most of it, each and every day. The fact that he feels he can ask me for anything means more to me than I could say. Trust and communication, Johnnie, remember that.”
“Who are you?” This was the same mug who ten years ago had been cursed at by every officer he had ever had—in several languages—before he’d been kicked out of their units and finally ended up in Jacky’s.
“I am the voice of experience,” Chance declared in his best radio commentator’s voice.
“More like the voice of Satan.” There was no doubt about it. If the devil himself walked this earth, he would look, talk, and walk like Chauncey Irving. The way he gazed at me made it seem like he could see into the very depths of my soul. I didn’t like it one bit. Who knew what he’d find there?
Chance rolled his eyes at me. “And you say I’m dramatic.”
This had all gone very different in my head. I was sensing a pattern.
“So, what led up to that whole situation?” he asked, concern slipping into his tone. I’d take “pain-in-the-backside Chance” to “concerned Chance” any day of the week. The latter asked too many questions, which meant I had to make too much of an effort to avoid answering, or worse, had to actually think about things. Might as well get this over with.
“He was trying to get in my head again, so I kissed his cheek to slip away.”
Chance’s expression grew somber with a hint of disapproval. “Don’t tease him like that.”
Normally I would have given a flippant remark, but I couldn’t, not where Henry was concerned. “I wasn’t teasing him. At least, I didn’t mean to. It sort of happened. I was desperate. He was getting too close.”
“He’s just trying to help.”
“Yeah, well, I didn’t ask for his help. He knows how I feel about him trying to go all head doctor on me. Is there a reason you’re here aside to drive me off my nut?”
Chance’s expression softened as he looked me straight in the eye. I braced myself. “You’re going back to see him, aren’t you?”
“I don’t think that’s any of your business.”
“Right.” Chance stood and headed back toward the infirmary. He paused and turned, his gaze on his shoes. “Try to be more careful.” With that he was gone, and I was left sitting on my lonesome feeling like a heel. In other words, it was a day like any other plus a couple of extra bruises and scrapes, which reminded me: now I had to get the damned Austin fixed. The hell with this. I was tired of feeling guilty just for breathing around here.
Part 4 continued on Nov 13th on Lex Chase’s blog.
Available in ebook and print from Dreamspinner Press: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4362
Comment prompt: Do you believe in ghosts?

About the Author:

CCochet100Charlie Cochet is an author by day and artist by night. Always quick to succumb to the whispers of her wayward muse, no star is out of reach when following her passion. From Historical to Fantasy, Contemporary to Science Fiction, there’s bound to be plenty of mischief for her heroes to find themselves in, and plenty of romance, too!
Currently residing in South Florida, Charlie looks forward to migrating to a land where the weather includes seasons other than hot, hotter, and boy, it’s hot! When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading, drawing, or watching movies. She runs on coffee, thrives on music, and loves to hear from readers.

Website: http://www.charliecochet.comBlog: http://www.charliecochet.com/blogEmail: charlie@charliecochet.com Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/charliecochetTwitter: @charliecochet | http://www.twitter.com/charliecochet

1st Prize: $15 Amazon gift card + Impetuous Afflictions signed swag pack + signed 8×10 art print.
2nd & 3rd Prize: Impetuous Afflictions swag pack + signed 8×10 art print.
To Enter
Just leave a comment on any of the blog posts along the tour, along with a contact email address. **If you would still like to enter the contest but don’t wish to leave your email address in the comment, you can also enter by emailing charlie@charliecochet.com.
Winners will be chosen at random and posted on Charlie’s blog at http://www.charliecochet.com/blog on Monday, December 2nd. Winners will then be notified via email.
Contest ends
Sunday, December 1st at midnight, Eastern Time.

Tour stops:
11/9 – Welcome to Hawthorne Manor [Excerpt 1] – The Novel Approach
11/11 – Billiard Room Brouhaha [Excerpt 2] – Author Sue Brown
11/12 – A Trip to the Town of Aylesbury [Excerpt 3] – Author Kim Fielding
11/13 – Time for Tea [Excerpt 4] – Author Lex Chase
11/14 – Stopping for a Pint [Excerpt 5] – Author Andrew Q. Gordon
11/15 – Visiting the Furry Hat Man [Excerpt 6] – Author Eden Winters
11/18 – Meet Gideon Brooks [Excerpt 7] – Author Michael Rupured
11/19 – Meet Rori Curti [Excerpt 8]s – Author Shira Anthony
11/20 – Meet Aubrey Jepson [Excerpt 9] – Attention is Arbitrary
11/21 – Meet Oliver Darling [Excerpt 10] – Hearts on Fire
11/22 – Meet Elliot Young [Excerpt 11] – Author Elin Gregory
11/25 – Meet Connor & Edmund Grey [Excerpt 12]- Joyfully Jay
11/26 – The Devilish Duo [Finale] – Mrs. Condit & Friends

Please welcome Jessica Skye Davies!

Defining Distance in a Relationship
Long-distance relationships are nothing new, just ask Antony and Cleopatra.  But with the advent of internet and the infinite ease of communication, they have gotten a lot more common and rather less fraught with angst (well, theoretically).  Most people take “long-distance” to mean that a couple is in separate states, countries, or even hemispheres, or any such distance as to create a barrier to seeing one another frequently.  Here in Pittsburgh, a long-distance relationship is defined as having to cross a river, of which we have three.  The sad thing is I’m not joking.
Distance between people isn’t always just geographic, though.  One can see a person every day, live in the same house even, and still be light years apart.  
In Half the World Away, Dade (from London) and Elliot (from Australia) face the question of whether their budding romance is strong enough to withstand 10,000 miles, or indeed if it is worth trying to make it work.  The reason they even have to ask is less to do with the mileage and more to do with the men.  
Dade is a city-boy.  He loves London and urban living.  As a photographer he’s always hoping for more urban assignments where he can explore how people live and bring out sides to cities that most people overlook.  Dade usually feels that nature photography is “hacky” – not that he doesn’t appreciate the beauty, but in his opinion the natural world is so beautiful it presents no challenge to a photographer.  
Elliot, on the other hand, is all about his Aussie bush lifestyle.  He has a strong respect for nature and all its inhabitants.  Sure, crocodiles and snakes can be very dangerous, but Elliot knows better than to tangle with them.  Elliot emphasizes understanding your environment as safety tip number one.  And he’s never stopped being awed by seeing whales and dolphins near Australia’s coastline.  
Dade and Elliot are two very different lads, and when they first meet it certainly looks as if it’s going to stay that way.  Dade is annoyed about getting stuck with yet another nature shoot for the travel magazine he works for, and Elliot is het up about Dade and his assistant going out wandering after having been warned about the crocs.  Naturally, England and Australia being separated by a common language, not all information gets across smoothly.  
Once they get a little more at ease with one another, though, Dade and Elliot learn there are some commonalities between them – such as serious mutual attraction.    
There is a little hiccup though, in the form of Dade’s boss/erstwhile boyfriend, Jackson.  Jackson and Dade’s “relationship” is a perfect example of distance between two people who live in the same city.  Dade knows it’s over with them, Jackson never has time for him (or anything other than what his personal assistant tells him is next on the agenda).  But Jackson might have been a little too busy to notice Dade’s unhappiness with the state of things.  Dade and Jackson may be geographically much closer, and perhaps even closer in personalities than Dade and Elliot, but that doesn’t mean there’s any real chance for them to have a Happily Ever After.
The question is, is there a chance for Dade and Elliot to have one?

Blurb:  Photographer Dade Faber keeps hoping for assignments on a big city beat, but time and again he’s sent into the wild. This time, he’s half the world away from London shooting the Australian bush. When Dade is nearly attacked by a crocodile, it leads to a shouting match with Elliot Harris, who owns Dade’s hotel. Elliot is both hot and persuasive, and when he offers to play tour guide, Dade accepts. After a week spent mostly together in the bush, Dade begins to fall for Elliott. The attraction is mutual, and when circumstances lead both men to London, they find they have much in common. But can their romance bridge the 10,000 miles between London and the Australian bush?
Bio:  Jessica Skye Davies has been a writer since her first works were “published” in her grandparents’ living room and written in crayon. She is a lifelong native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she has been active in the community, including serving as library director on the executive board of a local GLBT community center. Outside of writing, Jessica has a wide range of interests and hobbies: from Mozart in a music hall to punk in pubs, from Shakespeare to Vonnegut, from salsa dancing the night away to afternoon coffee in the square to kicking back with a good movie. She loves meeting new people and exploring new places, always open to whatever elements might inspire her next writing project.

Spica in Zagreb

Have you preordered Housekeeping yet? It releases in 4 days. To celebrate, there will be a tweetaway very soon. You should follow @dreamspinners on Twitter right away and keep your eyes open, especially if you’re in a European time zone (or you’re a nightowl or early bird in the USA).

Roughly 800,000 people live in Zagreb. On Saturday mornings, nearly every one of those people converges on a few square blocks in the center of the city for a ritual called spica (pronounced shpeetzah). The ritual requires that you shop at dolac, the big greenmarket, and meet your friends at one of the zillion cafes for coffee. You will dress up for this, and possibly get your hair done as well. You might also do some shopping for clothes, shoes, or whatever catches your eyes in the stores. You will probably hang out at the main square, taking part in whatever festival is going on or maybe just waiting for your tram. Then you go home and have a big midafternoon lunch with your whole family.

I live right smack in the middle of this. I wish I could convey with words the crowds and bustle, the way people chat with their usual purveyors at the market, the rumble of ten thousand conversations going on at once, the calls of friends greeting each other. There is no equivalent to this in the US, and I haven’t seen the like elsewhere in Europe. I imagine it’s a much larger version of what market days must have been like in medieval times.

 I have some photos from this morning. You can click on them to see them big.

Here you see the  flower sellers. That’s my building on the left. My door is between two of those pillars.

And here’s a corner of dolac. Today I bought a kilo of apples for 4 kuna (70 US cents), and also a kilo of potatoes for 4 kuna. And a large bottle of homegrown honey for 20 kuna. I managed everything in Croatian. The people selling the stuff are the people who grew it, and they always have a pleasant smile for their customers.

Looking down the stairs from the upper level of dolac, past the flower sellers, to the main square. You can see a blue tram in the background. Again, the tall grayish building on the right is mine. Look at those crowds! They’re nonstop from early morning until 2ish on Saturdays.

The main square.  Nominally, the booths are set up in celebration of St. Martin’s Day. But really they’re an excuse to have an event in the square. There’s a stage on the right, where children were doing folk dancing. You can see some adults in traditional costumes waiting their turn. I think folk dancing is a popular thing here. I see it a lot.

This is about a block from the main square. It’s the sun. Several years ago an artist made planets to go with it. He scattered his planets around town, each of them at the appropriate distance–to scale–from the sun. So Pluto is way out in the suburbs somewhere (it was still a planet then). He didn’t tell anyone where he’d put them, so for months there was a sort of city-wide scavenger hunt as people searched for planets.

When we lived here 2 years ago, this was my daughter’s favorite cafe. They have very good ice cream.

This is Flower Square, one of the main places to meet for coffee. That’s the Eastern Orthodox church on the right. (Over 90% of Croatians are Catholics, but there are a few Eastern Orthodox, Muslims, and Jews.)

Another shot of Flower Square. Thousands of cafe tables, and every one of them is occupied.

 Saturday is also a good day to gather petitions or, if you’re a Hari Krishna, have a parade. I caught this photo from my window right after I got home.

Spica is one of the many things I miss about Zagreb when I’m not here.

Please welcome Bru Baker!

Thanks for having me as a guest on your blog, Kim! I’ve been keeping up with all your gorgeous photos from Zagreb and Warsaw, and I have to say I have a little bit of travel envy. The biggest trip on my radar right now is a ten-hour drive to Columbia, South Carolina, for Thanksgiving. (And with a four year old and a seven year old in tow, that hardly counts as a vacation, I say.)
I’m no stranger to international travel, but having young children has grounded us Stateside. I’m excited to introduce them to travel when they’re a little older, but right now I don’t think there’s enough wine (for me) and fruit snacks (for them) to get us through a transatlantic (or even cross-country) flight.
Before kids my husband and I used to pick a week to take off from work and then wait until a few days before to decide where to go, literally picking whichever far-off location had a last-minute flight sale. It was a fun way to explore the world, and a few times we really lucked out, finding fares to places like Honduras and Belize. (Other times we didn’t have the travel gods on our side and ended up in places like the Bahamas, Jamaica, and one very unfortunate trip to Cancun on what turned out to be college spring break. Not a great time for anyone on the north end of 20 who doesn’t have a special affinity for Sor Frog.)
I miss that travel spontaneity, and my fond memories of exploring new places is part of what inspired Island House, which comes out Nov. 11. It’s available now for preorder as an ebookor paperbackfrom Dreamspinner Press.
I chose to set Island House on the island of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands because it seemed to combine beautiful scenery with a hometown feel. I’ve never been to that part of the Caribbean, so I relied a lot on Google Images searches and travel sites to get the lay of the land. Niall Ahern is a British ex-pat who picks up and moves to Tortola after the death of his longtime partner. He’d hoped being on the island would help him move on, but four years later he’s still mired in grief and the guilt, since he blames himself for Nolan’s death.
Niall meets Ethan Bettencourt when Ethan comes to the island to buy a vacation home, and the attraction is instantaneous. Life intervenes, as it tends to do, and the two of them go their separate ways at the end of Ethan’s stay. Later, Niall travels to Seattle to confront Ethan, and that was a deliberate setting on my part. It’s a city I absolutely love to visit, so I got to take a bit of a virtual trip through some of my favorite places there while I was writing. (It backfired a bit, since instead of satisfying my travel urge it just underscored all the things I love about Seattle and made me even more itchy to visit again!)
Buy links for Island House:
Paperback (The first 20 readers who order the paperback will get a signed copy!) www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4365&cPath=707
Find an excerpt from Island House as well as excerpts from my other works on my website: www.bru-baker.com
Follow me on Twitter:  http://twitter.com/Bru_Baker