Monthly Archives: April 2021

The Raven returns in a new urban fantasy from J.B. Dane

It’s funny how life directs you in a new direction, one you never expected to head, and that the end result is where you find you needed to be and just didn’t know it.

That’s what happened to me. I’m J.B. Dane, and I’m a recovering romance writer (under a different name, of course…writing is a form of witness protection sometimes). I picked up my first urban fantasy novel as a palate cleanser, something to read that I’d never consider ever writing.

The trouble is, my muse is a guy. He’s always has been, shrugging on the features and whatever else the hero on the page at the moment needs to have. By the time I’d finished reading that urban fantasy book – and I think it was probably the first Dresden Files tome – my muse cleared his throat. “You know,” he said in my head, “you’ve had a guy hanging out in my waiting room since the late eighties just waiting for the opportune moment to introduce himself. He’s read all the magazines more than once and has been juggling balls of fire in boredom. Say’s his name is Bram Farrell and that he’s been the main character in a series of UF books written by some witch and that she’s planning to yank him across the seam stitched binding into the real world and he’d rather have someone else in the driver’s seat when that happens.”

“Bring him on,” I answered. And that is how The Raven Tales were born.

I’ve spent a lot of time with Bram since then. Weirdly, I didn’t even realize I was writing the first book in a series until the end of the 1st book (RAVEN’S MOON), but I was really settled into Bram’s world when I lost myself in MARKED RAVEN, the 2nd book. Now I can’t remember why I ever wanted to write all those romantic comedy and historical romances in the past (not that I’ve stopped spinning a few) because I love hanging out with Bram. Well, and Beelz, the hellhound that prefers to manifest as a black and tan dachshund, until something is going down and attacking as a Great Dane suits him better. I have a feeling that Beelz has watched too much Scooby Doo.

Or maybe I did.

In any case, I like this manifestation of myself as an urban fantasy P.I. mystery comedy writer. Fortunately, I have a wonderful publisher who loves Bram – and Beelz – as much as I do and doesn’t mind that I release Raven Tale novellas of shorter, though no less involved, cases independently.

The Raven’s universe just keeps growing and growing, and I’d like to invite you to come have a reading adventure with us. According to reviewers there are twists they never saw coming, that there is noir lean to the investigations, and that, as one phrased it, “Bram is comedy gold.”

But, if you’ve never read urban fantasy mystery comedy before, and are a writer in another genre, just beware. You, too, might get lured into writing a new world into existence.

BIO for J.B. Dane plus Social Media links

J.B. DANE is a pseudonym of a multi-published, multi-genre novelist who goes by many names. Not because she is in Witness Protection. Really not in Witness Protection. Really.

She may start hiding from citizens of Detroit since her Raven Tales urban fantasy comedic mysteries have populated their fair city with neighbors who might be supernatural, paranormal or legendary beasts…or not so beasts…but probably ARE beasts. They could be hungry, too.

She has also tampered with the lore of the Claus family, you know the one at the North Pole, and hopes this does not land her on the Naughty List, even if Nick Claus has landed on it frequently himself.

She might be found at www.4TaleTellers.com, but leave a message to be picked up by a disguised courier and delivered to a secret location. Ditto via Facebook.com/JBDaneWriter or @JBDaneWriter on Twitter.

Buy Links for MARKED RAVEN by J.B. Dane:

Amz http://viewbook.at/MARKEDRAVEN  

BnN https://bit.ly/3b7S9g8

Excerpt

It all started shortly after dawn on the most dangerous day of the year—Valentine’s Day.

One minute I was engrossed in taking names and kicking ass— you know, deep into a video game—when the familiar black-and caramel muzzle of my canine partner got between me and the screen. 

And the arrow. 

The first I became aware of the danger was when his teeth snapped down on it a foot away from reaching its target. 

Me.

It was old-school design. The only bit you might call high-tech being the pink and red feather bits at the tail end. Beelz had it gripped between his teeth and had amped up his growl as he turned demon red eyes to the being hovering near the ceiling.

A cupid wearing nothing but a red sash with a quiver of those dainty fletched arrows on his back. 

“What the frick!” the curly blond-headed, bow-wielding tike snarled around the cigarette clamped between his front teeth. Based on the deep octaves of his voice, as well as his language and smoke, I made the deduction: this weren’t no kid. I’m a P.I.; it’s what I do.

Beelz spat the stick out and hustled around the desk to leap at the intruder. He might be a hellhound but as his preferred form is that of a dachshund, the leaps were getting him nowhere near his target.

And cupid was nocking up another bolt.

I took cover beneath the desk. “Who the hell wants me to fall in love with them?” I yelled at the little bundle of lethal joy. I certainly didn’t want it to be any femme with Otherworlder DNA. A human, now… Except a human wouldn’t have hired a real cupid. Mostly because few knew they actually existed.

“No one, slick. I was hired to take you out.” Ash cascaded as the cigarette bobbed. Don’t talk and smoke at the same time should be up there with chew with your trap shut. But, hey? He was an assassin?

“Pretty lousy camouflage. In that get up”—or lack of one—“you don’t exactly blend into the surroundings, pal.” 

Beelz kept leaping and added a bark, obviously agreeing with me.

“What camouflage? I ain’t wearin’ no camouflage. Youse The Raven, right?”

No one had asked me that since November, but the answer lingered on my tongue. I’d said it enough times last fall. “Fictional character. Yeah, I’ve got the same name, but that’s all.”

“Not what I heard, buddy. Let’s just get this over with. Crawl out and take the medicine I come ta give ya.”

Hmm. Supply a target or evoke my décor-singeing modicum of magic. Decisions, decisions. But, since what prestidigits I could toss leaned more toward human flame-thrower, and I really didn’t want to burn the house down, there had to be a third option.

“How much they paying you?” 

“Whadda you care?” the cupid snarled.

“I’m willing to top the offer so you don’t shoot me,” I said.

Only the sound of Beelz’s now half-hearted snarls filled the room as our visitor considered. 

“What if I said it was a million?”

“I’d say you were lying through your teeth. Nobody hates me that much.” Well, right now they didn’t. At least… I couldn’t remember ticking anyone—or anything—off recently enough that they’d want to whack me. I’d been busy writing a book so the only interaction I’d had lately was with the humans who supposedly found me endearing.

“Doubt you could match my price, Raven,” chubby snarled.

“Farrell,” I corrected. “The name’s Bram Farrell. The Raven is not a real person. I think if you’d just take a gander at this room, you’ll see that I probably can match—if not best—the amount you agreed to.”

I’d inherited a cushy joint. No need to describe the place. Just saying mansion should fill in the blanks. All it’d taken was making sure my creator bit the big one. 

“Oh,” the fake toddler mumbled. Sounded like he was eyeballing the décor. 

Beelz gave an exhausted sigh and stopped trying to get a piece of the hit-tike. 

“I’ll throw in extra for the name of your client,” I offered from my burrow safely beneath the desk.

“No can do,” Babyface said.

“Professional ethics?”

“Never met them. Just an envelope dropped in my quiver at the wedding chapel I frequent. Gave me the address, a picture of the target—you—and a hefty down payment.”

“How hefty?” 

“Fifty Gs.”

“Fifty thousand dollars?”

“Nah. Fifty pieces of gold. The places I frequent don’t trust paper, pal, just coin.”

“Any particular kind?”

“Spanish, Roman, Etruscan—whatever ya got.”

Great. All I had to do was denude every online offering of antique gold coins. Collectors would be gnashing their teeth as it disappeared from circulation. Since denomination didn’t matter, I might be able to buy myself a reprieve for under a hundred thousand. Heck, I’d spent that much my first six days outside of a bookbinding back in October. I was, after all, still a fictional character—The Raven—even if currently packaged in something that was certainly puncturable by an arrow.

“You on a timeline?” I needed to know. There would be shipping involved.

“End of the month,” chubby said.

In that case, expedited shipping.

A real adventure: learning about relationships by interviewing your characters

When Author Lyndi Alexander invited me to guest post, I had no clue two of my main characters would beg to join me. But Sunny Chanel (Middle Ageish) and Dana Narvana (Eat Your Heart Out) insisted.

      Besides, I have a secret.

Too often, my inner voice is my characters from my novels arguing with me while I’m writing. This past week they schooled me about what makes relationships work.

Dating in your fifties or sixties isn’t easy, said Sunny.

It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, said Dana.

If you mess up in life, you’ll mess up in your books, Sunny said, wagging a finger at me.

So I agreed the three of us would guest post. In truth, I was afraid to say no.

Sunny and Dana pointed out four basic bloopers I made again and again. 

1. Not Giving a Guy a Chance

How soon do you know he’s the guy for you? they challenged. Or not?

“You know right away,” I said. “All it takes is one meeting.”

It’s not that simple, Sunny and Dana, my characters, yelled at me.

Such know-it-alls.

Dismissing a man because he’s balding or talks too much or doesn’t talk enough because he’s nervous? You could miss out on someone worth knowing, they moaned. Give a guy a chance.

I get it. Beta guys get overlooked. Guys who’ve made a mistake deserve a second change. Good relationships take time to grow.

I don’t want to give anything away in Eat Your Heart Out, my new book, by mentioning a specific event. Dorothy (not her real name in the book) almost overlooks her pal because she’s too close to him. It takes a few reminders from her good friend to open her eyes.

2. Twisted Ideas About Online Dating

My characters pop up even when I’m having serious conversations with my friends.

“I don’t have the nerve to start online dating,” a friend complained while we were having lunch on Zoom the other day.

We’ll help,” my characters said inside my head, jumping on their toes eagerly. 

“I’ll help,” I said. I must have had a smirk on my face  because my friend asked what credentials I carried for giving dating advice.

Together, we have about 300 years of dating experience, Sunny and Dana boasted.

“Once I met six guys in one week.” I blinked, daring my friend to challenge this statement. (It was true.)

Overbooking isn’t a good idea, said Sunny.

I agree. Dana nudged Sunny with her elbow. Shirley forced you to meet four guys one weekend, didn’t she?

I ignored the bickering in my head and told my friend about the dating contest between two of my characters in Middle Ageish. How they encouraged each other. Repeated “Never give up.”

“Contest? Your characters?” She took a bite of her sandwich and chewed with her mouth open, sprouts landing on her desk like fairy dust. “Like that’s real life?”

 You forced us to do all that dating, Sunny and Dana piped up in their own defense.

That’s insulting, said Sunny. “Our lives are real. Realish.”

She has her nerve, your friend, said Dana.

“Yes, a contest to encourage each other,” I explained with my sister voice.  “See who dated twenty-five guys first.”

“What were the rules?” My friend was curious.

We had to spend forty minutes with the guy for it to count, Sunny reminded me. I repeated this out  loud so my friend would understand this was not a fly by night competition.

“That’s it?” She leaned closer to the camera and her eyes brightened. “So it’s a numbers game. I get it.”

“Yes,” I said. “Unfortunately it is.”

Tell her the loser takes the winner to Pepe’s for pizza, prompted Sunny. “New Haven has the best pizza.”

“Yeah.” I had a feeling my friend was getting into this contest thing. Inside my head Sunny and Dana were arguing and I almost missed what my friend said next.

“My profile could use a spiffing up.”

Was this a hint?

My friend stood and adjusted the camera. “I’ll email my profile and you’ll pass it on to your characters? I need some clever, pithy remarks. To get hot guys to write me back.”

Oh, I think your friend is winning this one. And we’re coming to Pepe’s with you, Sunny and Dana whispered in my ear.

I love Pepe’s, said Dana.

Me too, crooned Sunny.

       3. That Old Chemistry Thing

Mistaking chemistry for the real thing is always a mistake, chided Dana one day when I was walking on the treadmill minding my own business and listening to Diana Krall on my iPod.

 In Eat Your Heart Out, she fell hard for a guy I’ll call Freddy. (Not his real name.)

Yeah, said Dana. I kept filling in the blanks, hoping he was into me. She muttered something to Sunny I didn’t catch.

“What did you say?” I asked.

No spoilers, Sunny said.

Tell them how you came up with this Freddy character, Dana said.

 Freddy was based on a man I nicknamed Toxic Man. We dated sporadically, and when I say sporadically, I mean there were months-long gaps between dates. But Freddy was a back burner man, meaning he kept me on the back burner, with phone calls and texts to boost his ego. Lucky for me I gradually weaned myself off Freddy.

Since Dana didn’t want to make the same mistakes I made, she outfatuated herself and stopped answering her phone.

My birthday is important, she whispered to me, her eyes bright with a hurt defiance. He didn’t want to do anything special on my birthday. Because I wasn’t special to him.

Sunny gave Dana a hug, and so did I. In my head. 

4. Know What You Want in a Man

That dating contest with Dana helped me figure out what I wanted in a man, said Sunny. 

“You mean like if a man doesn’t go out of his way for you early in the relationship?” I said.

Sure, said Dana. He’s showing his real self and that rarely changes.

It takes a lot of time to get to know someone, said Sunny. I pay attention to the little things.

Tell the people about the lawyer you went on two dates with, Dana urged me.

Can I tell the story? asked Sunny.

“Sure, go ahead.” I love egging my characters on.

Shirley went out with a real estate lawyer who loved opera. The second date was dinner at an upscale restaurant.

“He actually said he was trying to impress me,” I said.

I was coming to that, Sunny pouted. No interrupting.

On the drive home he had the opera station going on Sirius radio. Shirley asked if he could find the Elvis station. Knowing Shirley, she craved a little after dinner rock and roll. But Lawyer Man said he preferred opera and wouldn’t change it.

Sometimes it’s the smallest thing that makes you realize the man you’re trying on for the evening is not for you.

As a writer, I read books from a different angle than most non-writers. I’m analyzing and overthinking as I read.

You’re a big analyzer, said Sunny.

Yeah, you are. Dana and Sunny looked at each other and bobbled their heads in agreement.

In the end, though, when it comes to relationships I’m like everyone else. I want to spend my time with my special person, the guy who thinks––and shows––I’m special.

Blurb for Eat Your Heart Out

When a tyrant in stilettos replaces her beloved boss, and her ex snags her coveted job, teacher Dana Narvana discovers there are worse things than getting dumped on Facebook. Time for the BFF advice squad, starting with Dana’s staunchest ally, Alex—hunky colleague, quipster, and cooking pal extraordinaire. But when the after-hours smooching goes nowhere, she wonders why this grown man won’t make up his mind. 

Alex Bethany’s new lifestyle gives him the confidence to try online dating. What he craves is a family of his own until a life-altering surprise rocks his world. He knows he’s sending Dana mixed messages. Alex panics when he thinks he’s blown his chance with his special person. From appetizers to the main course will these two cooking buddies make it to dessert? 

Funny and bittersweet, Dana and Alex’s story will have you rooting for them.

Excerpt from Eat Your Heart Out

  I dipped another shrimp and held it up, contemplating the color. “This is a handsome, handsome arrangement here.” I pointed to the artfully constructed mini-platter. “It’s so very enticing. I might get some sauce on my T-shirt. In my enthusiasm.” I bit into the shrimp. “I must feel extremely comfortable with you. Or the truth serum is working.” I leaned over the plate in what I thought was a delicate manner. “My boyfriend dumped me. On Facebook.”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” Alex said.

“Never mind. I’m over him.”

I felt a kind of contentment that begged for a short nap. I would simply slide under the table and rest my eyes. Maybe Alex has a pillow. Aware of smiling large at Alex over there, in front of the sink, then at the stove. Stop moving. Stay still! The aroma and sizzle overwhelming.

He appeared at my side, the fragrance of lemon and cilantro, and who knew what else drifting up, my mouth watering. My eyes slid closed. Open your eyes. Aplate in front of me, the scallops sitting in their own spinach bed. I wanted a little spinach bed, something inviting to lie down in.

“Wait till you taste my special rosy sauce,” he said, spooning it over the scallops. “Invented it myself. Very little cream and a little heat. I like to save my highish caloric intake for the weekend.” He sat down and raised his glass. “Do I sound like a girl?”

“I love it.” The aroma was an energy boost. Hungrier than I’d realized, one bite and I was gone, drunk on his creation. Drunker than on the wine. “Orgasmic,” I said.

“Why thank you. I am most flattered.”

We giggled. “I’m amusing, aren’t I?”

“You certainly are, my dear.”

About the Author

Shirley Goldberg is a writer, novelist, and former ESL and French teacher who’s lived in Paris, Crete, and Casablanca. She writes about men and women of a certain age starting over. Her website http://midagedating.com offers a humorous look at living single and  dating in mid life. Shirley is the author of two rom coms. Eat Your Heart Out and Middle Ageish, both in the series Starting Over. Shirley’s friends nag her to tell them which stories are true in her novels. Her characters believe you should never leave home without your sense of humor and Shirley agrees.

My Socials

https://www.facebook.com/midagedating

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54758920-middle-ageish

https://www.instagram.com/shirleygoldbergauthor/

Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/author/shirleygoldberg

https://www.bookbub.com/books/eat-your-heart-out-starting-over-book-2-by-shirley-goldberg

Buy Links

Amazon

Apple Books

https://books.apple.com/us/book/eat-your-heart-out/id1552301489

Barnes&Noble

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/eat-your-heart-out-shirley-goldberg/1138734045?ean=2940162478133

Kobo

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/eat-your-heart-out-12

Thankful for the Internet! #mfrwhooks

Daven Talvi made a choice a quarter-century ago to serve the Bitterroot Elf Clan, allowing the Circle of Elders to send him into suspended animation until the queen could be rescued. In doing so, he gave up his mate and his newborn son, sacrificing his own life for that of the clan.

It had been a mistake.

With the clan now in chaos and the new young queen in hiding, Daven must acknowledge his own errors and take responsibility to set things right. He teams up with Lane Donatelli, a human who has too long used food and computer gaming to feed his own insecurities.

Together, they use Lane’s beloved technology with Daven’s innate magical abilities to wage battle against the evil elf mages threatening the clan.

[Clan Elves of the Bitterroot (Book 3) | Fantasy novel from Dragonfly Publishing, Inc. | Available in Hardback, Paperback, and eBook]

EXCERPT:

“Kev! Come in! Man, you should have called. I woulda come down and saved you the steps.” He stepped aside so Kevin could skinny past him; fortunately, Kevin kept himself in military trim. Lane, on the other hand, had a longstanding love affair with Creamy Cupcakes that kept him mostly round.

            Kevin continued into the kitchen. “What’s that noise? I thought you took that hawk back to the forest?”

            Lane swallowed hard. “Oh, the hawk. Yeah. Yeah, we did.” He wandered back into the small living room where Crispy sat curled into the corner of their brown Salvation-Army acquired couch.

            “That’s a….” Kevin blinked as he leaned on the counter at the pass-through.

            “Yep. That’s a baby.” Lane smiled as little Elliun snuggled into Crispy’s arm, both hands on the bottle Crispy had just warmed. Elliun’s blue fleece sleeper zipped all the way to his chin, but Crispy had insisted on wrapping him in a knit blanket, too. Just in case.

            Kevin set down the box he’d carried upstairs and walked into the living room, staring. His words dropped like stones. “Where. Did. You. Get. A. Baby.” He glanced first at the door, then at the webcam on the edge of the Cave. “Are we going to have police on the doorstep?”

            “Not likely.” Lane sighed. “We’re just…babysitting.”

            “Babysitting.” Kevin’s dry tone was laced with skepticism. “Really.”

            “At least I hope so.”

            Satisfied Crispy was meeting the child’s needs, Lane leaned against the door frame into the kitchen. ‘Babysitting’ wasn’t really the right word. “Kidnapping,’ now that was more accurate, in the legal sense. He’d had to take the baby. He had to. For the baby’s sake. Before something bad happened.

              Crispy suspected, but he hadn’t said anything until they got home. Then he’d turned into the perfect little mother, tending to Elliun’s every need. But it didn’t keep the little one from crying. And even though it had been less than two days, the noise and needs of this child grated on Lane’s nerves. More ibuprofen, please…

            “Seriously, Lane. Isn’t that your friend’s baby? How long are you keeping it?”           

            Crispy looked up, a Madonna-like smile on his face. “Until he’s safe. Everyone needs to be safe. You know that. You were a soldier.”

            A furrow developed between Kevin’s thin brows. “Well, I can’t argue with you. Everyone sure does need to be safe. It’s just really peculiar.” He inched closer to the couch. “He’s a handsome little guy. But…how did you learn to–”

            “Ehow.com,” Lane said. “They also have a page on how to change a diaper and how to mix formula.”

            Kevin laughed. “I guess I never looked it up. I had plenty of brothers, aunts, uncles and cousins. We did it all by watching. You want to know how to put a baby to sleep?”

            “We learned that on WikiHow,” Crispy said. “They even have a video.”

            “Unbelievable.” Kevin shook his head. “Hey…do you think I could hold him?”

            Crispy looked suspiciously at Kevin. “Do you have baby credentials?”

            “Probably more than you do, Crisp,” Lane said. “Go ahead. It’ll be fine.”

            Elliun went to Kevin without a peep, studying his dark face curiously. He reached out to touch Kevin’s skin, then broke into a smile.

            “See? He likes you.”

            A knock at the door sent them all into shocked silence. Crispy hid his head behind a green sofa pillow. “The government’s here! Your camera told them we’re criminals!”

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