Interesting Dracula Times

Quick Thing: The Free Story WILL be back – things are changing for the better and EVERYONE signed up or who signs up will get it as a download once things are done. Trust me 😉

Fucking SEO, right? I did some reading on Amazon Keywords, those seven keywords we pick out to help our books become discovered. A Best Practices blog (or seven) suggested my blogs and website should reflect those themes I write about when it comes to the paranormal. I’m allowed to cover vampires, wolves, witchcraft, the Fae, all manner of things. I can even expand into music and vice because of the novels I’ve written!

So, that means more cigar and booze related posts, despite this one!

Look, if I’m not entertained when I write these blogs, then you probably won’t be either. And since it’s been suggested that I start doing newsletter swaps to promote my Decadent Publishing release, I need entertaining content for those nights when I get drunk and nostalgic.

I know, I’m spending all this time on Endangered and my Nights of Lust series, yet I’m pushing the Vampire MC! CRAZY, no?

Oh, I’m the only author who does that? LOL! Kidding.

It dawned on me when I was reworking parts of Riding Tempest, and when I started writing Cursed and Denied. The latter two set about with some of the traditional Dracula heritage I think at one point or another, Isabella referred to Dracula’s practice of staking bodies outside the castle as deterrents to oncoming attackers. Later, I make a Castlevania reference, where Livia suggests wanting to burn drug infested areas of San Francisco in a Dracula-Style slash and burn style rage to inspire terror and again, squash thoughts of rebellion. Oh, and the Night Hordes (yes, I ripped that off too) were NOT Dear old Dracula’s creation.

Of course, he’d been mentioned in Denied as having been around longer than the Mistresses of the series, and once again, his death plays a role in the lore used to create an even more vile organization that is a pawn in the games during my Nights of Lust series.

That will be out in completion in the next year. Books three and four are in editing stages right now since I wrote them BOTH this year!

Again with Dracula lore but in my Undead Souls Vampire MC trilogy, I went a different direction. Dracula was the creator, the original vampire but when I built up Faery, I built up another dimension for the vampires to return to if they chose, after riding the lands of Faery and solving their problems.

I have more vampire novels in my head, on the way. With those novels will come more research, some different spins. I think Decadent Publishing is eventually going to release my two Dystopian short novellas Finding Eternity, and its follow-up, The Awakening. While the heroine in Finding Eternity is a vampire, her offspring in the next story is only half, I believe. If there’s an Alucard outside of Castlevania, I’ll look to pull from that.

Credit goes to the original photographer and model, cosplaying my favorite vampire heroine, Lenore. If you know who to credit, please let me know so I can do the same.

Since I did mention it above, I finally chose a new title for what was once An Alpha Torn – it simply needs me to have the funds for a cover. The Nights of Lust series, which I originally intended to string out like Laurel K. Hamilton has with her Anita Blake and Merry Gentry stuff, ends at four novels, three of which are over 90k. The second one is around 70k or so. The reading order will be as follows:

Endangered
Torn
Cursed
Denied

Unless something changes drastically, the market tells me otherwise, or I get a wild hair, I probably am done with ménage romances for a while. I’ve tossed around the idea of a sequel series to the Opeth Pack Saga, and the potential for that to be as emotionally heavy and dark as the original exists. It’d be the offspring, if I did. But for now? I couldn’t even keep all my vampires and wolves separate in Endangered. The mixing of the species, oh no! LOL! Trying to figure out the dynamics is hard enough in real life because it doesn’t have to make sense, but on paper? Everything has to be tight, which means more work, even though it’s enjoyable. When I get a hankering again, I’ll definitely spend more time researching Dear Old Dracula for something. In the meantime, I have Wolves and Fae, Vampires and Fae…it’s fucking raining Otherworld Creatures up in this bitch! BWAHAHAHAHA!

A rogue werewolf with a heart of gold. An undead Queen seeking salvation. Can they work together to rescue their city from a criminal organization?

Did you notice the subtle shifts in this cover?

Joséf Staganov’s conscience won’t let him look the other way, even when his police department is turning a blind eye toward crime. But when he commits atrocities while under the influence of a dangerous substance used to create addicts out of shifter and vampire alike, he finds himself at the mercy of the seductive ruler of the city, and his own self-destructive regret.

Vampire Queen Livía feeds on the thrill she gets from ruling San Francisco with her own brand of justice. When a criminal organization forces a regime change, a cornered and frustrated Livía fights back until her loved ones are threatened. Lost and afraid, she finds herself seeking aid from an addict with a hero complex who constantly tests her heart.

Can Joséf and Livía fight a multi-front war, restore order, and save the city while discovering unbridled passion between them, or will their struggles be in vain?

Endangered is the first thrilling tale in the Nights of Lust paranormal romance series. If you like fierce passion, tormented heroes, and feisty women, then you’re sure to enjoy Sascha Illyvich’s tale.

Buy ENDANGERED to jump into this page turner today!

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Soundtrack to the Voices in my Head

Who was that pimp wolf back in 2005?

Have you ever wondered about the soundtracks for lengthy book series? Does JR Ward continue to blast gangster rap throughout the entire, what book are we on now, Black Dagger Brotherhood series? How about Laurel K. Hamilton’s entire Anita Blake series?

For me, it’s taken almost twenty years to complete my Nights of Lust series and the soundtrack to the last book definitely wasn’t what the previous three books were. In fact, I made a complete break from the original soundtrack. When I first created the series, I had this tortured hero in mind based loosely on what I’d read of some of the darker vampire romance authors of the time. This was back in 2005 when bands like Korn and Linkin Park were highly relevant and Nu-Metal was appreciating a second wave of success. The soundtrack for my tortured characters, all three of them in the ménage I planned to write as an ongoing series because Laurel K. Hamilton was my personal hero at the time.

The playlist (Modified because of Spotify) can be listened to here.

Bands included are

Korn
Disturbed
Linkin Park
VNV Nation
Slipknot (Volume 3: The Subliminal Verse – STILL a great album)
Megadeth
The Gathering (Anneke years)
Slayer
Killswitch Engage (Howard Jones years mostly)

That’s the basics and nothing from Korn is on that list after 2005. My head was in a dark space during the move to California, during my time in the Golden State and when I was working on that novel because it allowed me to get out aggression in a healthy manner. Or so I say, anyway. I wanted tormented feelings to come across in my characters, so it carried forward from ENDANGERED, to TORN and finally CURSED, which I finished earlier this year.

Fast forward a few weeks after I finished CURSED and I wanted to start DENIED, the final book in this series. Endangered was written and published first by Venus Press (Thanks Marie LaCroix) back in maybe 2005/06, but the company folded and I ended up with the rights back before Red Sage acquired it, then folded a few years back. Somewhere in there, I think TORN (formerly An Alpha Torn) was published, unpublished, then published by the now defunct romance arm of Wolfpack Publishing. During that time, I realized I needed to finish this series proper and with original artistic integrity. I know, ya’ll can stop laughing now.

Dave/Lucian is NOT my usual (for this series) depressed, heavy as hell on the heart, hero. His mates Severine and Breña aren’t, either. Korn wasn’t going to cut it for me. Neither was anything save the section of the old playlist that dealt with sex scenes.

The new playlist features more modern metal cuts and shies away from the lyrical heaviness of the old by focusing more on the musical rhythms that get me into the zone. So, some oddities made that list which can be heard here.

Cannibal Corpse’s George “Corpsegrinder” Fischer

Loathe
3rd Secret (there’s a shock…for those who know, you know)
Kardashev
Fallujah (super stoked having seen them twice now!)
Rogue
Fit For An Autopsy (Great live band!)
Shadow of Intent
Legends Shall Fall
Rivers of Nihil (Ya’ll saw that post!)
Cannibal Corpse/Corpsegrinder (that post too…)

And the like. The only carryover as mentioned, had been the music I write sex scenes to and I figured out a progressive order that works out to move with the ebb and flow of intensity during the story. Each sex scene increases in intensity and passion, but if I did my job right? You’ll have to wait for the books to come out. They need editors now, and covers!

The same with The Bodyguard and Saint in Sinner’s Eyes – That soundtrack had a lot of Devildriver and Katatonia. I’m working on the third book now but much of that soundtrack is literally the last Warforged album. Or Fallujah. Or some random melodic progressive Death metal album with SOME Devildriver thrown in for good measure, to retain the original feelings I had when I wrote that series. Oh, and maybe James Labrie’s side project. (Self, not Mulmuzzler)

I’m enjoying the evolution of my books and characters, as well as the soundtracks. I hope you will too. For now?

I don’t care for classic rock in the Biker world and my bikers are vampires of old who have advanced music tastes, despite a few of the members being born in a time when you were either a Norman or a Saxon. Some of the vampires were born before WWI but they all became bikers after the first Great War, forming a bond unlike any other until discovering another realm filled with vampires. Their time on earth ended shortly after being tasked by the Queen of Vampires to find her husband’s killer, leading the vampires to Faery where mystery and intrigue pissed them all off, but lead one biker in particular to a potential cure for his ailing sister.

She’s ready for some peace. He’s desperate to save his sister. Can they survive vamps, fae, and bikers long enough to win each other’s hearts?

Hell-bent on saving his ailing sister, Jonas, the thief of the Undead Souls Motorcycle Club is searching far and wide searching for a half-ling in order to harvest their blood.

But when arrives when he meets a sexy vampire-fae, he’s shocked to discover she’s hauling valuable cargo; he’s shocked when an undeniable attraction clouds his laser focus.

Bone weary of the constant threats on her life as a trucker, Tempest needs one more payday to retire into a very peaceful lifestyle.

Except hauling the Queen’s motorcycles makes her a prime target. When biker gang violence forces her to ally herself with the very MC originally trying to seal her cargo, she meets the one vampire who ticks all the annoying boxes. Cocky, yup. Smart-assed, in spades. Drop dead gorgeous? To a flaw. Can she trust Jonas to protect her and her cargo, or will he turn out to be another dirtbag biker who breaks her heart and shatters her dreams?

Riding Tempest is the harrowing first installment in the Undead Souls Motorcycle paranormal romance trilogy. If you enjoy heart-driven heroes and gutsy heroines, then you’ll enjoy Sascha Illyvich’s fast-paced tale.

Grab your copy of Riding Tempest and hold on for the ride of your life!

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Not Very Conference Times Ahead

Scroll for the whole “I’m at least honest” bit…

My last official conference was RWA in 2021. I was a speaker and taught for an hour and a half, giving my Male POV workshop in a condensed form, plus taking Q/A. I loved it, even though pre-recording it did add to my stress, but that’s okay. What was important was getting back out in front of others to teach, speak, share, learn, connect.

Before that? The last thing I attended live where I had any involvement as a guest would have been DragonCON 2017 where I moderated a few panels, spent inappropriate time on others, and then, 2018 hit, knocking me down several pegs but not because of an ego check, anything bad or terrible outside of Lover Mine’s death later in the year. I realized that the audiences I’m speaking to at various conferences and the panels I’m chosen for aren’t really in line with my brand.

I am not an erotica author. I have written it, but it’s not my mainstay. Don’t throw me on some queer fiction panel because I wrote it back in 2007 and had a gay romance published. Or that I’ve had a healthy start compared to numerous other authors in erotica with the release of Mistress Anna and Other Erotic Tales, and my erotic short story collections. I am a romance author.

Paula’s Craving – an erotic 2nd Chance ROMANCE!

The other thought that occurred to me was the audience. They’re always dope, right? But pairing me with the proper audience, and pairing the proper audience to me? There has to be a fit. Honestly, I generally do not speak to hobbyists – my advice to hobby writers is different than it is to career authors. One smaller kink oriented conference I was a frequent speaker at for a few years had me talking to hobbyists. It was fun, the people were awesome for sure! But to be honest, I’m pretty sure me talking to the small group was simply a way to get in to a conference for free so I could find some pussy. Which, I did.

Because you didn’t expect this? It’s ME!

You wanted honest. I never denied who I am.

Anyway, the last thing that became clear to me? Because I can blame the audience for not being mine, I can blame the marketing department for putting me where they do all I want, but it does come down to one thing for me. Value.

Am I giving you value based on what I’ve DONE? Or am I parroting those who are more successful because I’ve had minute successes?

Yes, I’ve had a great deal of success and experiences in the publishing world. Yes, I’ve transcended and yes I’m a great source (not an expert) of knowledge on craft, marketing (more or so…) but where’s the proof? Am I making six figures and have I become one of those authors who makes a lot of money you’ve never heard of? Or have I made a shit ton of money AND you know my name?

I didn’t fake what I’ve done, I’d never do that. But for now, I’d like to go back to doing conferences like RWA and RT – industry conferences where I can network, connect, in some cases reconnect, with authors and act like I never did shit, because that’s a perspective I’ve been lacking. Reaching back to that beginning point of being an author when you were hungry for knowledge, and not chasing some goal? Yeah, I want that again. And when I DO present on a larger scale, I want it to be because I can back it up with sales figures and stats, and bank records, not mere talk.

Kiernan Kelly off in the distance checking her ‘gram cause she cool like that circa ’12 LOL!

The same goes for the BDSM world. I’ll expound now. I spent 20 plus years being actively kinky, learning, writing, before burnout set in as a writer on the kink front. No one really wants kinky stories outside the niche market and I’d grown cold after 2015 but didn’t realize it until 2018. Lover Mine passing away didn’t help, either. But I stopped writing kink, outside of direct for pay situations. BDSM on the grand scheme was out in publishing. It’s cyclical, so don’t worry. It’ll come back. But I’m a romance author. Not a kink author. I’m a romance author who happens to have written some kinky stories, and who happens to have been a real life dominant (and submissive for a VERY short spell!) while writing. But I saw the writing on the wall for kink. When a moron damaged my bullwhip, I should have listened and just let a local whipmaker repair it, but I didn’t. And I haven’t picked up a flogger in probably five years. The same with my singletails and snake whip. I suppose I’ve grown, but being in Atlanta with one of the larger kink-friendly areas of the country, I still haven’t been to our local dungeon. I’ve been to maybe…three play events outside of Frolicon. I may be back, I may not be.

I am a romance author. I’ve never been anything less and while the story of my publishing career has mimicked those who came before me, it’s evolved and the things I’m choosing to do will require more thought in the future. Yes, I’ll still teach. That’s a great opportunity to share knowledge to authors, new and seasons. Yes, I’ll still participate in group stuff online and off, but when it comes to bigger events like DragonCON? I’ve determined there is currently nothing for me at present. If you’ve read this blog in the last three months, you know my weird geek shit isn’t the same as the normal weird geek shit.

I may come back to Kink and alternative lifestyles, I may not. I don’t know. And I will return to conferences, but I will do it in a manner better suiting me, my brand and the audience, in that order, otherwise it makes no sense for anyone.

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A Rabbit, Rabbit July Blessing!

Fuck. Not a blessing, exactly. More like, seriously? Can shit continue to break bad in this complex? Or break for that matter…

Apparently, a water main exploded yesterday in the complex, so the entire place is without water. I had the benefit of being able to gather enough water in the bathtub to take a shower, but you know the problem now with one flush, sharing the apartment with a human while being in a human body…

At least I have electricity.

I’ll be DAMNED if A: We don’t have water to do SOME light washing of dishes OR My hair… I can put dirty dishes in the dishwasher but I don’t want shit piling up – I feel like we’re almost home free of these fucking roaches. Finally, maybe getting that goop and a few fucking traps will end this plague…

I cleaned, created AMZN ads yesterday for my Riding Tempest, Undead Souls Vampire MC novel since Riding Tempest is already up for sale. The book is good, has the Kerry Adrienne stamp of approval!

When I noticed the pressure going down, I filled the water pitcher, tea kettle.

I’d LIKE some tea during this holiday BECAUSE I bought Indigo Punch for us to have as ice tea! I’m not normally one for ‘light’ or ‘fruity’ teas. We had fruity last month…(Go ahead, get offended…you know I’m right!) but if i do what I always do then I’ll always have what I always have.

Not sure what’s in the cards outside of finding a bathroom and grabbing water, but I’m hoping I can get some words on the page. I haven’t been able to make that happen since Wednesday and I need to call it; officially I’m starting a new novel! The last of what’s currently called Burning Desires (The Bodyguard, Saint in Sinner’s Eyes) will have a third book. Then I can have a simple trilogy off my plate, move back to Nights of Lust and edit the last two titles, both of which were written this year. After? I finish the third Protectors book and THEN…start a new six book series that’ll be written to market…Illuminati werewolves vs. the Mafia as they are now, not as they once were when they were actually respectable.

Oh…somewhere in there, I need to edit and figure out how it SHOULD be, Addicted to You. There’s series potential but since I wrote that last year as a standalone, I have the opportunity to maybe make it fit a larger (read, sellable) trope. I need to research the whole demon as a hero thing, maybe dark paranormal, because my hero is literally a demon who deals drugs.

While my boss is cavorting in Vegas next week for PCA, I’ll be at the shop eager to see what new stuff she brings back for us, for our customers. And I’m still looking for bartending. But my reading for July? That showed a need for discipline, with emotion. Skills put to a test.

And I meant it. Infected Rain > Halestorm! Maybe it’s my affinity for Moldova…or the girl I’d consider running off with if A: She wasn’t so stubborn and B: I wasn’t such an Alpha(hole) on occasion…

This Fourth of July, I will be thankful that I can pop off and say whatever goddamn thing I want, (fuck you!) and the Government (suck a nut, assholes) won’t come boot stomping my door down and have me arrested (Fuck you Fed Reserve, eat a bag of dicks) and/or shot for treason. (did I get enough clicks yet?) I can complain as LOUD as I want, and not face the end of a barrel or see another jail cell. (Long story but it involves my Cadillac when I was in my early twenties.)

I know I’m two days late, but Rabbit, Rabbit!

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The Drinking Post – Or, Cutting Back

I’ve gone on and on in the past about my heart surgery at how much my health has improved. I figured it was time to address what some people have been afraid of as the elephant in the room.

Didn’t say I’d quit! Also, I drank this while I wrote this post!

Over the years, depending on circumstances and where I was and what my income levels looked like, I was averaging between 3 to 6 drinks a day if I were completely honest. It varied between whiskey and wine and beer, usually whiskey or beer. After my surgery I chose to cut down consciously because I needed to heal. Dr. El-Chami suggested a month off from everything while leaving me on a lower dose of my beta blocker and putting me on a fucking stomach pill. I already had two events I planned to have some beer at, but outside of that? Easy.

Waking up with a clear head every morning and finally getting free of what I thought were my own demons I wasn’t able to fight made me rethink things in such a way that this was the choice. I spent a healthy two years spiraling down for one stupid (to me) reason or another, and when I made the decision, when I COULD make the level headed decision and committed to it, it was easy.

No, this isn’t a “pat me on the back, I beat addiction/alcohol/whatever” post. I don’t need that. But my decision to cut back severely had made sense when I made the decision.

What shifted then?

My commitment to my career grew stronger. My desire to be more true to myself increased. My love of how I felt every day knowing I had a purpose and goals to accomplish increased. In short, my focus shifted. What did I do?

One year ago, I was heading my broken heart in the hospital.

First, I won’t say I cut out hard liquor. I will say that for the time being, we are seeing other people. sometimes we see each other in a dark alleyway and kiss and grope and then go our separate ways.

Second I’ll say I’ve switched from East Coast IPA to either Pale ale or Hefeweizen style beers, with German Pilsners for good measure. I came to the realization that I simply cannot stand the fruitiness of an East Coast IPA. I cut my teeth on those bitter hoppy West Coast beers like Sierra Nevada torpedo and dank beers like Arrogant Bastard. Incidentally, this cut my alcohol consumption down by another third. The beer I tend to drink most now has an ABV of no more than 6.2%, the torpedo being an outlier. Otherwise, down from 9-11% to 5.4 as the average.

Next, I refocused my attention back on my first alcoholic love, Wine I’ve l spoken at great links on Instagram about the Davidoff and Burgundy wine event that occurred in September 2021. That event really reinvigorated my love of wine, and my passion for a portion of my heritage as a drinker. So I’ve focused more on wine and food pairings, I’m considering a YouTube channel and podcast for wine and cigar pairings.

Lastly, I cut down the hours and days of the week. I only drink on Thursday-Sunday now. So it’s a little unusual to say this, but I look forward to Mondays because I don’t drink. I look forward to Thursday for my first drink of the week. That throws me a little bit because the process of cutting down literally by 2/3rds and giving my body/liver a break means that when I do have that first drink, they all hit the same. Like BAM! Oh, and one more thing I must point out, because this is in the media and I think it’s retarded. I don’t binge drink to make up for the days I don’t. There was an article (and there are many articles…) about how you can be considered a moderate drinker if you have no more than fourteen drinks a week, but it’s terrible for you if you have all fourteen of those drinks in one day in a binge session.

No shit, Herlock! Who the fuck does that and thinks it’s okay? I have a lot of issues with alcohol in the media but that’s for when I rewrite my course geared to writers. Any excuse to demonize one product and push another irritates me because it seems like bullshit when you’re telling us we shouldn’t smoke and drink, but weed is fine because it’s safe. First, no. It’s not. Second, smoking it is still a carcinogen. Third, we’re adults, we all know what our choices look like and accept the consequences so stop telling me what substances I can and cannot put in my body if I want to relax/self-destruct/reach an altered state/fuck off.

I’ve heard they’ve severely improved the Lake…

This is on top of all of the other healthy things I’ve added back into my routine, such as bulletproof coffee, the mushroom coffee with L-theanine and cordyceps, A more bulletproof/carnivore oriented diet, and an attempt to spend more time grounding myself through the earth’s natural healing properties. This to me is another small witchy practice I enjoy.

I was headed down the Hemingway path and I didn’t like it. But shit, who can see clearly anything when all you see is damage due to lack of oxygen, a body that once moved as fast as business but now moves like molasses (pre-surgery) and a changing world? How do you process the world when you can’t be at your full potential? And how do you deal with those demons when they’re not even the real cause of your pain?

In the long run I’m hoping to alleviate the worry the writer friends of mine have had over me. And there may come a time, when I am gratefully appreciative of the opportunity to apologize to anyone I may have offended or upset during that darker period of my life.

I do make exceptions to my days off. Full disclosure, the 28th of this month, a bottle of champagne will be shared with friends or the younger lover, or both. I turn 44 as of this blog post and I believe in a celebration. I take exception on days if I were flying or very special occasions. But those are all rare. And I suspect when I finally make it to Spain, if I’m there any longer than a month, I may indulge for the first week or two, then return to this practice. I don’t know. What I won’t do is demonize myself or fall down Hemmingway’s path again.

Somehow I’m sure L’Don had a hand in this transformation too, whether it was before she passed, or after I have no clue. She won’t tell me. I know the women in my life who love me and are my world sure as hell did.

Anyway, I’m a lot happier with the way life is now. I may return to daily drinking in the future, but it’s up to me and what circumstances occur. For now I’m good with my choices.

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All The Feels (From Death Metal!)

Rivers of Nihil

Ya’ll have seen the pics. Since COVID ended (and it DID end. Queen Elizabeth isn’t dead) concerts in general have returned, which means time to see some shows! Long time readers know I’m far from the touchy-feely type of music. Ya’ll know I’m a metal-head until the day I die. That being said, this post is kinda about the feels…

Since my first show back in 1994 (Megadeth, Corrosion of Conformity as the opener) I’ve learned a few things about our community. First and foremost, mosh pits happen no matter where you’re at if the show is small and at some local venue. You’re going to get knocked around, whether on purpose or not. The on purpose part is you standing on the outskirts of the circle pit thinking you’re a ‘ard star’ to quote Benji Webber. But people are friendly and apologetic to a point. Second, if you’re up front, you’re going to catch a boot or some person’s ass upside your head.

Yeah, another CJ McMahon pic…Thy Art is Murder

This is more humorous than anything, especially considering the last show I was at, it was either feet flying or some chick’s ass literally slamming into my head. I kid you not. There were hella women crowd surfing along with dudes. From the MOMENT Brand of Sacrifice opened up, a pit formed, people were crowd surfing, it was a fucking BLAST! The one truth out of that? Those who got dropped while surfing? They were picked back up faster than you can say anything. We don’t want anyone getting hurt.

Those who get knocked down in the pit? Again, picked back up with those helpful hands so you can go back in and rage like the beast you are!

Phil Bozeman from Whitechapel

You’re possibly thinking, “Why the fuck would anyone WANT to get knocked around?”

Have you LISTENED to any of the music I do?

It aint exactly Rod Stewart!

My boss’s daughter at the cigar shop recently asked me what death metal sings about. The short answer? Everything from the gruesome, grotesque, to the existential, to questioning our understanding of this life and how we move beyond. Metal ranges from pure death metal stylings of Cannibal Corpse to the Death Gaze of Kardeshev. Religion is questioned by Thy Art is Murder, a soul’s pain is shared by Whitechapel, and the work gets explored by Rivers of Nihil.

Humans spend a lot of time with pent up energy. Pent up rage. Frustration. That COVID shit messed with a LOT of us. But much of the time, we go to see our favorite bands play and while the pit isn’t for me (my heart – it’s still fixed!) the emotion is. Because again, fucking cancer. Two of the more important moments happened for me at the last show. Anthony Notarmaso of After The Burial announced they had a song or two left but took a moment to talk about the last two years. His final words moved me before they launched into their closer, A Wolf Amongst Ravens.

Anthony Notarmaso’s words are so simple, yet so powerful.

A Wolf Amongst Ravens closed the set and we all waited with bated breathe for Thy Art is Murder to come blast our eardrums and kick total ass – which – they did. That pit was fucking GREAT! But two songs in, CJ McMahon gave his small soliloquy about anxiety. That’s kind of a common theme in the world right now and I have my thoughts on that, but for another blog post perhaps. He stated that before the show, (the part I failed to capture) that he literally was freaking out before coming on stage and he’d almost backed out. But, well if the video works, listen here.

I wish I’d have captured all of it but his words still express how I feel as an author to my fans.

I said in a previous post that the world needs darkness for light to shine. And in death metal, I’ve found my community of heartfelt people who can’t simply cry out at the world’s mistreatment of itself. Others who can rage in the safety and comfort without worry, or prejudice or fear. I dare say, the metal scene is a “safe space.” LOL!

Know who else loves kick ass metal and struggles with his witchy woman who happens to be the lead singer of his favorite death metal band?

Yup, Derrick! My ex spy, always a Puma shifter hero from The Bodyguard!

He wants a quiet life. She’s about to turn up the volume…

The Bodyguard: A Paranormal Romance

Puma-shifter Derrick is plagued by nightmares from his days as a spy. Still struggling to cope with the traumatic memories, he throws himself into work to stay sane. But his latest gig protecting a gorgeous death metal vocalist has all his worst demons screaming with desire.

Sonja is no stranger to ominous threats. With a voice that can control shifters and humans alike, she knows she’s a powerful weapon… in the wrong hands. And tired of always looking over her shoulder, she’s happy to put her trust in her sexy new guard and do her best to ignore their red-hot chemistry.

Intent on defending the stunning singer and her unique magic, Derrick’s past mistakes come back to haunt him when she is kidnapped. And when Sonja finds herself at the mercy of the dangerous Anti-Shifter League, her only way to save everyone’s skin could lie in the power of her magical songs.

Can Derrick and Sonja pick up the beat and drive hard to the ultimate happily ever after?

The Bodyguard is the thrilling first book in the Burning Desires paranormal romance series. If you like smoking-hot attractions, wild women, and broody heroes, then you’ll adore Sascha Illyvich’s luscious tale of unexpected love.

Buy The Bodyguard to rock out to passion’s power today!

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Tarot Deck Fun

My first oracle deck and I’m still learning!

I mentioned in a recent blog post that I’ve been a Tarot reader for almost twenty years. I started off with The Spiral Tarot and learned that deck. I never thought about picking up other decks, as I personally didn’t see a need for it. But, there’s a spiritual revolution in the Witchy World that’s been going on for the last, I don’t know how long. Probably longer than I’d assume as I just began to notice an attempt at transforming this world. But this post isn’t that. Rather, I’m here explaining how I’ve read and been learning to read the cards over time.

I was gifted a Ganesha Oracle deck back in 2016 by a soul mate and not only did I find the artwork of the cards beautiful, the impact she had on me with this gift phenomenal. I don’t think she and I ever talked about my recent introduction to the remover of obstacles or my affinity for his friend, Lakshmi. I found it quite auspicious that she’d send me a statue of Ganesha as well in one of her lovely care packages. I’d come to realize so many things about this relationship later, but that’s for another post in my private journal where I keep secret plots to take over the world using flying monkeys, duck tape (yeah, that’s on purpose!) and your mom.

Modern tarot decks come with a little book explaining the Major and Minor Arcana cards, usually giving a short one to three sentence for what the card ‘means.’ I put that in quotes simply because you can read the cards using those few sentences, but then you’d ask yourself how some readers (myself) can pick out semi–specific details about your life, while others can pinpoint with a great deal of accuracy, more intimate details about the querent’s life.

The story of man is one as old as time. Philosophers have documented the struggles, the trails, tribulations, tragedies, and triumphs of man and we can see patterns in human behavior. One can ascertain (gods, I sound like man with a stick up my ass, don’t I?) the path a querent takes, guess with general luck where they’re at in regards to their question and make an educated guess based on that alone. Writers do it all the time with our characters. But there’s so much more going on beneath the surface than that, isn’t there?

It’s really powerful to have an author who speaks so candidly, rather than with diplomacy.

While there are as many interpretations as there are readers of the cards, each one having a specific style, we can agree that we do tap into a universal truth. What that truth reveals to us at the time depends on where WE are in the stages of our paths. I’ve mentioned in that same blog post how meaning of cards has changed for me over time. The Five of Wands is still a chaotic card, but at age 26, the meaning held more weight behind the struggle and potential for arguments that may have arisen, compared to me almost eighteen years later. If that card comes up, I take into it everything I know, experiences, lessons, all of it. The severity of that card no longer spells doom for me.

The same of the Tower. There was talk during a very regal political period about “Tower Times.” from the Witchcraft community and while I agree with the what, I don’t agree with other aspects of their doom and gloom surrounding the zeitgeist, but that’s again, another post involving flying monkeys, Elon Musk’s Not a Flame Thrower and your sister. And guns. What I DO agree with is that change was coming, for good or bad.

My interpretation of The Tower is just that – a shakeup. Does it mean you’re going to lose your house, your pets will reject you, you’ll get a disease and instead of suffering, your loved ones will murder you? I’d say with 99% certainty, probably NOT. But you will have change in some aspect, and it will be great. The key is to pay attention.

Now, on these interpretations, I’m not as overly familiar with some cards as I am others. And, at heart, I am a storyteller (Fuck you, Jaskier, you whiny bitch!) which means I extrapolate from things. The description may say “great change is coming.” I’ll take that into context with the question, if the card is the only card or in a spread and weave together the interpretation that makes the most sense based on years of study, aid from others in my journey, and yes, sometimes books.

There’s this one book I read from and I had major beef with her interpretation of certain cards. I’ll name the book, because you HAVE to read it from the start, rather than pulling a Johnny move like I did and just finding her (hip?) interpretations of the cards before you judge, because only then will her intuitiveness make more sense to you. The book is WTF is Tarot…and How Do I Do It, by Bakara Wintner. My beef involved the harshness of a particular card (There’s an Instagram post) and disagreement with how she felt over the card, vs. my knowledge. My age. My time in study.

All of which, as we can imagine, are bullshit. What is NOT bullshit is listening to her views and understanding where SHE came from, because there’s lessons in the cards for everyone. And because her path (which she explains throughout the book in plain language) is important and has helped give me more insight.

Since I mentioned those pesky wands…

Because I am a storyteller (seriously? Do I have to shit on Gabrielle, Bard of Potidaea too? No? Just Jaskier, great!), I have all this information weaved together in my head. The knowledge from the books that came with the decks, the books outside the decks, the people I’ve talked to, and based on the question, I make the best statement/reading based on my heart, not my head. Because the head’s logic only works so far here, it’s best as a problem solver. The heart, however, is in touch with the soul, which is what you’re dealing with when you’re asking for intuitive guidance.

Don’t believe me? Ask your tarot reader questions. It doesn’t matter. You got money troubles? What is your soul asking you to acknowledge of your SELF? Career problems? What’s your soul calling you to do? Relationship problems? What’s not being addressed in your soul? Addiction issues? Seriously, that’s your soul calling out for fucking help. Ask me how I know…

Those posts on Instagram aren’t merely random words strung together. They’re not a regurgitation of the books from the decks. They’re from the heart and I hope they help you on your journey.

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It’s all about that INK!

So much life left unfinished…but I know love.

Wolves, roses, and moons, baby! Ha! That’s the core of my ink and I thought I’d take a moment to formally explain why I ended u with both pieces. Both of which have a history for me. As tattoos go, you want the ink on your body to not just look right, but have meaning and depth.

The first piece was a tribute piece. Before Lover Mine passed away, we’d talked a lot about a variety of things and one thing kept standing out. I often said if I could have sent roses to her, I would have because there’s still a little romantic in me. (He’s buried mostly…) she commented that she loved the purple Ecuadorian rose because of its uniqueness – it’s very rare. Well, once we were talking and I’d mentioned getting that with my wolf tattoo once I’d figured out a design. I had a couple of core ideas but nothing really significant anyway, because I’m honestly not very visual.

Many of those occasions, she might have been drunk or not, I’ll never truly know. But she always seemed happy that I remembered something so minute as to that when I’d tell her I’d eventually get that ink. It always made her smile. We had this conversation multiple times.

When she passed away, I made the appointment with a local artist and I immediately loved the entire design. None of it is what I would consider full bloom or adult – my thinking was that Lover Mine died too early, thus the flower wasn’t developed to express it still growing. The wolf looks younger than my other one, because I was 41 (younger at the time) and even the Castlevania moon isn’t a full moon.

Even the placement of the tattoo on my body has significance though I’ll leave that alone. So, She got her piece and it was tied in with the heart for another who is very much alive and a large part of my life to this day. But I believe Lover Mine would have felt honored to have seen this tattoo. I even cried because some asshole played an old Wham song I could associate with loss. But #OwnHerHeart, I remembered.

The second tattoo I can be more frank about. I used to be a cutter (no shock there, right?). I was specific about how and where because that arm I broke when I was in my early 20s, so it to me, was damaged. The why was the easy one. I wanted to feel something for once other than emptiness and pain.

I never left permanent marks but honestly? I didn’t want to resume that habit again, after promising a loved one I wouldn’t so…years back the idea came to place a beautiful blue rose over the space where I used to cut.

May your body and. Soul recognize the harmony they work in.

Once I had some extra funds, I found another local artist, as my original one had left Georgia, and we sat down and talked. When I started talking to him about the significance of this piece, all these things came to mind. The colors, red now added because of my passion, to go with the blue of my loyalty. A wolf now, because well, wolves. The triple goddess for protection and a reminder of my love of the Moon and many things lunar. And the mystery of the night sky, because I have almost exclusively written most of my work at night up until a few years ago.

The rose and wolf would be in full bloom. I’m older. I’ve learned. I’ve grown and still will grow more. The wolf, a light and dark mix, because I am both a white wolf (ugh Sweet Witch no!) and a dark wolf. Hence, silver which cannot be done in ink. Oh, the green eye is my tribute to Les, from the Opeth pack saga. I wanted this to be a significant piece and even though I couldn’t imagine it taking up the space it does on my forearm, im in love with both pieces. This piece served as a reminder that I am not broken

I may get a third piece of art, I’m not sure. Tattoos are things that require a great deal of thought before placing permanent ink on one’s body. it dawned on me, none of my characters, except maybe Sonja from The Bodyguard has any ink that I’m aware of She’s of course a death metal singer and a witch, so maybe sigils?

Do you have ink?

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Ayyyyyy YouTube!

I couldn’t bring myself to buy the one Thy Art Is Murder shirt I would have worn….so here’s me in the one I bought!

That’s probably not the best title, hm? But I’ve been following SpainSays on Instagram and much of the time they have some pretty hilarious content that makes more sense to locals. Anyway, this is about YouTube. Did you know I had a YouTube channel? I’ve had a variety of topics on there but haven’t really blogged on it in probably three years, minus a test run I did for RWA back last year.

Since I’m not doing conventions at the moment (more on that in another post) I don’t have a platform outside of Facebook, and honestly? I miss talking to you, my readers, fans, etc. Facebook live is cool but the problems I have are when I actually get views while I’m doing it live and I have to lean forward to you see more of my head than necessary LOL!

Steven Tyler has his mic, Jonathan Davis his, and CJ McMahon, the baddest of them all!

I covered a variety of topics, ranging from writer stuff, social media stuff, our former GoFundMe (thank you) and cigar/wine stuff. Much of the time I ranted, but I teased other authors, shared writing tips and talked about things pertaining to writers.

Pleasantly surprised they kicked ass!

Apparently, while authors on YouTube are still relatively rare, talking about their books or their process doesn’t get much traction. Or maybe it’s that I haven’t been consistent in my updating. I was fairly consistent with writing updates, back stories on old novels (which I did a small podcast series on) and the process as I was going through various stages in my writing career, but I’m contemplating re-starting that channel. I’d separate my alcohol and cigar reviews on another channel and maybe focus on things readers WANT to know until I’ve gained enough of an audience that actually cares about the process. You see this blog post and most of them, as of late, have been long form rants.

Thy Art Is Murder

The apartment saga, the move, the RWA/RAM feels, my heart surgery a year and some days ago, all of it’s been just me rambling to get back into the habit of blogging routinely since I’ve started doing newsletter swaps and some light promo for Paula’s Craving.

But would my journey into witchcraft or tarot be of any interest to you, dear reader? Would you have any interest in learning about the oddities of my inspiration? Again, that’s writer shit, but some things that capture my interest spawn stories. My macabre interest in Chernobyl, for example, has a story it’ll be paired with that will tie into my interest in Numbers Stations. Are you curious about them? And would you prefer weekly content?

After the Burial fucking KILLED it

Because I write in the paranormal world, I was thinking of starting off with some witchy stuff. I’m going to use the Tim Ferris method of going about this. He mentioned years back his podcast started off as a “See if I can keep up the momentum of it after six podcasts” and it has turned into one of the most downloaded/listened to podcasts on Spotify.

It’s late as I’m writing this, but I thought about blogging about wolf shit. What would that be, you ask? Good question. Wolves in magic, wolves in myth, wolves in real life, maybe? Wolves in how I wish people would stop showing off and fucking with wolves mouths for ‘tha gram’ because if that wolf bit the idiot, I’d give that good boy a treat? Maybe there’s an opportunity to tie that in with support for the Wolf Conservation Center.

Maybe my Tarot IS the way to go. Again, not because I’m adding a side hustle, but as an interest to the curious? I’ll be honest. I had half a mind to livestream Ember and/or Kel doing kitty cat shit for fifteen minutes and see if my views jumped. Or simply recording them on a loop for half an hour to see if I could learn to tag videos properly!

Brand of Sacrifice exploded the pit on the first song!

Hell. I don’t know, honestly,. Right now? Here are some pictures from the last concert I attended: Thy Art Is Murder. Brand of Sacrifice, Currents (both kicked ass) After the Burial, all had wicked mosh pits. And after getting slammed around, knocked in the face by foot or ass (crowd surfers!) on a Sunday night? I came. Home AND made a few new friends to help me with language learning! I will have a separate post about the show, because the sheer amount of respect metal heads have for one another’s safety continues to amaze me. Plus, Anthony Notarmaso had something really important to say, so if WP will host the video, it’ll be here. CJ from Thy Art had some important words too, but I didn’t catch the right part of him talking, so I’ll put it into context too.

Let me know in the comments what you’d be interested in me doing on YouTube. Or if you found this post via my newsletter, again, thank you and let me know!

Someone who also enjoys death metal would be Derrick, former spy turned bodyguard.

He wants a quiet life. She’s about to turn up the volume…


He wants a quiet life. She’s about to turn up the volume…

Puma-shifter Derrick is plagued by nightmares from his days as a spy. Still struggling to cope with the traumatic memories, he throws himself into work to stay sane. But his latest gig protecting a gorgeous death metal vocalist has all his worst demons screaming with desire.

Sonja is no stranger to ominous threats. With a voice that can control shifters and humans alike, she knows she’s a powerful weapon… in the wrong hands. And tired of always looking over her shoulder, she’s happy to put her trust in her sexy new guard and do her best to ignore their red-hot chemistry.

Intent on defending the stunning singer and her unique magic, Derrick’s past mistakes come back to haunt him when she is kidnapped. And when Sonja finds herself at the mercy of the dangerous Anti-Shifter League, her only way to save everyone’s skin could lie in the power of her magical songs.

Can Derrick and Sonja pick up the beat and drive hard to the ultimate happily ever after?

The Bodyguard is the thrilling first book in the Burning Desires paranormal romance series. If you like smoking-hot attractions, wild women, and broody heroes, then you’ll adore Sascha Illyvich’s luscious tale of unexpected love.

Buy The Bodyguard to rock out to passion’s power today!

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Bring the Light

ICCNC in Oakland, CA on a foggy night – the building was once a Freemason lodge.

I want to be a light in a darkened world. – Tell The Wolves I’m Home (the band, not the book) I’ve heard there was a book, but I discovered the metalcore band, but this post isn’t about that.

I don’t. We have PLENTY of light. What we don’t have is protection FOR said light bringers. You know who I’m talking about. Those who have and offer unlimited compassion, those who have hearts bigger than any of us can imagine, those who attempt to offer hope when all else seems like it’s fallen to shit? Those people are an abundance thank FUCK.. Many of them are lacking in physical strength and stamina, which seems unfair to me. Many of them have clear moral beliefs and look less at the gray and more into the black and white of this existence. But who looks out for them?

Those of us who don’t mind getting our hands bloody, that’s who. I’m not talking about killing others to eradicate the bad in this world. Senseless violence sounds like fun until you’ve accidentally snubbed out the life of the person who may change your world, if not the broader world.

I’ll tell a short story. Years ago, when I still lived in Oakland, a member from another Toastmasters club visited Andeesheh (my club) and shared his story about the newly acquired gunshot wound he didn’t think was terribly fashionable. It turns out that he was catching the Number 1 bus back down E. 14th and (bad part of town) and when he sat down; he saw some young fool trying to rob this elderly couple at gunpoint. Well, our friend didn’t like this, so he tried to stop it.

With words.

The other side of Lake Merritt, near where our hero was shot.

A physical struggle ensued and as he was off-boarding the bus, he acquired his new fashion piece – a bullet hole in his stomach. Obviously, he lived, but it put him out a bit. When he came to speak with us, his story moved us. If you hear stories like that, you don’t think that someone would try to stop a crime in progress, especially when it involved firearms. Most people look the other way out of fear and cowardice. Bold action isn’t something we teach our children anymore, but that’s a separate blog post probably best left for another time.

Our friend came back to another Andeesheh meeting. Our Toastmasters chapter was (and probably still is) made up of immigrants mostly from Iran (fuck you, it hasn’t been Persia for how long? LOL!) and a handful of what I would lovingly, jokingly call miscreants. As in, we’re not Muslim, we’re not Iranian, nor do we have ties to the Middle East Wtf was I doing there? Learning to be a better communicator, like all the members of that club, of course!

When we had some time, our friend and I finally talked alone because he found out I was a published author. He was a poet (double ugh) and had shared some of his poetry with me. The words were typical to someone who recognizes the heart, even if he (me, yeah I did) ignores the message. His writing was heartfelt, an attempt to heal this world and bring it joy, bring it happiness. A thought occurred to me. I asked our amazing humanitarian the following question, knowing the answer already. “If you had a gun, would you have shot back?”

You already know what the answer was. The why? It would bother him that he had to harm someone else to stop them from doing bad. He couldn’t stand the blood on his hands. It would have made him terribly sad. Repetition of events like that would eventually break him, snuffing out his light, even if he remained alive.

Me? I’ve had shot those fuckers without even thinking about it, had a truth prepared for the law and been ready to deal with the consequences of preventing an elderly couple from being robbed and maybe killed because that’s my standard for behavior. Blood can be washed away, memories caged and events categorized and stuffed down. No, it’s not ideal, but that was thirty-three-year-old me. Those of us who aren’t bothered by the blood on our hands, as long as it’s for the greater good, exist to protect those who, for one reason or another, simply won’t take the extreme measures necessary in situations like those. Without those of us who remain comfortable in the gray areas, those who bring Light would struggle more and evil might stand a chance.

I may be dead wrong. But…food for thought.

Also, tell the other wolves, this wolf is home and putting in some work before going to see Thy Art Is Murder with After the Burial, Currents and newly discovered favorite, Brand of Sacrifice.


You already know what to do!

Someone who definitely believes in gray areas is Josef Staganov from Endangered.

A rogue werewolf with a heart of gold. An undead Queen seeking salvation. Can they work together to rescue their city from a criminal organization?

Joséf Staganov’s conscience won’t let him look the other way, even when his police department is turning a blind eye toward crime. But when he commits atrocities while under the influence of a dangerous substance used to create addicts out of shifter and vampire alike, he finds himself at the mercy of the seductive ruler of the city, and his own self-destructive regret.

Vampire Queen Livía feeds on the thrill she gets from ruling San Francisco with her own brand of justice. When a criminal organization forces a regime change, a cornered and frustrated Livía fights back until her loved ones are threatened. Lost and afraid, she finds herself seeking aid from an addict with a hero complex who constantly tests her heart.

Can Joséf and Livía fight a multi-front war, restore order and save the city while discovering unbridled passion between them, or will their struggles be in vain?

Endangered is the first thrilling tale in the Nights of Lust paranormal romance series. If you like fierce passion, tormented heroes and feisty women, then you will enjoy Sascha Illyvich’s tale.

Grab your copy on AMAZON here!

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