Book Review: PTOLEMY’S TABLET by Laura Oliva

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M/M Romance

Published March 2015


“You’re my partner and a convenient fuck. That’s it.”

I was lucky enough to get my grubby hands on an ARC of this novella, part of the newly released The Shades Below Shorts, and wow! Laura Oliva blew me away with the intelligence and wit of her story, but also the intrigue and passion enveloping, and threatening to consume, her main characters, Emil and Puzzle.

Together on a mission to retrieve a mystical, Egyptian artifact, they’re on a crash collision with thugs, secret police, and each other.

Oliva’s love for the culture of Alexandria shows in her impeccable research and knowledge of the Mediterranean city – you feel as if you’re right there, roaming the narrow streets with Emil, Puzzle, and their small cast of cohorts. And her love for her characters shines through in each sexually fraught step Emil and Puzzle take towards each other.

And trust me, when they come together, you’re going to be just like me, wondering when the heck Ms. Oliva is going to get back at it and give us more Emil and Puzzle because this little taste ain’t gonna suffice.

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So grab a copy of PTOLEMY’S TABLET, enjoy these men and their sexy, smart selves, get lost in the adventure and angst and fucking hot sex, and keep your fingers crossed there is more Emil and Puzzle in our near futures.

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Let’s Talk: FE&L #7- Strength in the Softer Parts

Batool over at the brilliant blog, Batool’s Book Feels, is running an excellent series right now called “Female Empowerment and Literature” and much to my surprise, honored me with an invitation to join the party.

Thanks so much, Batool! You rock and I’m thrilled to be part of your series on women and to be given a chance to once again talk about some of my favorite women – those badasses of The Sanctum.

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Strength in the Softer Parts

by Madhuri Blaylock

I just put the finishing touches on my trilogy, The Sanctum, so when Batool asked me to write a guest post for her blog series on women and empowerment, I hardly thought I would go back to my fantastical world of hybrid demons, warriors, and vampires. I figured I would need some time away from them, to decompress from the drama of their finale. And yet, here I am, talking about the women of The Sanctum

and you know why?

Because they are such freaking badasses, I simply cannot help myself.

It’s quite fitting actually, since the genesis of The Sanctum lies in my own desire to create the girl absent from the pages of my many and varied fantasy and paranormal books. Not the Badass, because she exists, in so many shapes and forms, on the pages of so many novels and…

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7 Facts

A writer friend hit me with the perfect

random blog post

share seven facts about my writing

so here you go


 Seven Facts About My Writing

1. I wrote huge chunks of The Sanctum Trilogy on my 20 minute commute into and out of the city – it was quite amazing how much I would accomplish in those short spurts

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2. While writing THE GIRL, I tried to be good and write from an outline, but found it too confining – the best decision I made was throwing that baby out the window and just winging it. So long as I know my beginning, my ending and the general story arc, I seem to be fine, and the words just flow. It’s when I try to be someone I’m not, that I run into problems.

3. I love writing sex – I had no idea I would love writing sex, but I do and I think I’m kinda good at it

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4. For some reason, I find my men very easy to write, they come naturally to me – the women’s voices take some work to develop – I have no idea what that says about me as a person or a writer, but that’s the truth of it

5. Even though I’ve finally moved past my characters Dev and Wyatt and have started writing again, honestly, I don’t think I will ever REALLY move past them.

6. I have to know my characters’ names before I do anything – I don’t know why, but this is vital and until it’s perfect, I can’t write a word.

7. My current work is kinda sorta nasty and a blast to write

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And there you have it – my seven.

Now show me yours.

Getting Proustian With…NATASHA ALEXIS – The Interview Series

Did you hear the one about

the attorney

with a wicked sense of style

and a mouth like a sailor

who loved books?

Not me, dummy – although thank you very much.

I’m talking about the one and only

NATASHA ALEXIS

NYC Literary Agent

with

Chalberg & Sussman

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A friend mentioned Natasha to me over a year ago

when she thought I should pursue representation

and felt Natasha would be a good fit

But being true to form

so far the only things I’ve pursued Natasha for

are inane conversations about

Kanye West, Empire, and Halle Berry’s fast-fading career

some of her expert advice on querying

and

of course

The Proust Questionnaire

And because she is wicked fun and rather adventurous

she said “sure”

So let’s do this thing


Getting Proustian With…

NATASHA ALEXIS

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness? My idea of perfect happiness is living life without fear.  Acting boldly, taking risks even while knowing that you can’t control the outcome.  I’d like to make a decision without pouring over all the possible consequences and just be able to live spontaneously, capable of being truly present in each moment.
2. What is your greatest fear? My greatest fear is the most cliched one—failure.  Admitting and accepting failure is number one on my list. Also, running a close second—monsters. I don’t like monsters.

3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? I often cut off my nose to spite my face.

4. What is the trait you most deplore in others? One trait I most deplore in others—and I don’t know if it’s a trait—but I can’t stand people who overcompensate by bragging, take credit for the work of others, or step on others in order to get ahead.  I’ve seen this in the workplace in so many different environments and I can’t stand these kinds of bullies who will do anything to take credit for things that they have not done or try to jump on the bandwagon when they see something that’s working that they want to be part of.
5. Which living person do you most admire? Kanye. Ok, just kidding. I try not to pay enough attention to others to admire them. I think it’s a slippery slope. You pay too much attention and then you lose sight of who you are and what you want to accomplish.  We are not all carbon copies of each other. I don’t want to emulate anyone else, I just want to be me.  However, I do appreciate certain people for different reasons. But I generally don’t feel like I should be idolizing anyone since we are all human, we are all flawed.

6. What is your greatest extravagance? I don’t have any great extravagances anymore.  I used to shop a lot; there wasn’t a sample sale I didn’t know about and hit hard.  But I’ve been there, done that.  Nice things are nice but don’t bring happiness.  So right now, my biggest extravagance is Japanese nail art.  I’ve been going to my salon for about three years—way before it was a trend. My salon shall remain nameless because it’s small, hidden and by appointment only.  I go only about once a month but seeing fun, artistically decorated nails makes me a happy typer at work!

7. What is your current state of mind? How do you explain side-eye?

8. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Oh this one is very easy.  The most overrated virtue is patience.  Why? Why must we wait for things to happen? I’m a fan of things happening now or yesterday.  No time like the present!

9. What do you most dislike about your appearance? That’s a question I used to devote (too) many hours to considering.  I can tell you on any given day what is wrong with the way I look. But all of these thoughts do not take up too much of my headspace anymore. I’m unapologetic about how I look, but I’ll never be satisfied. Satisfaction is for suckers.
10. What qualities do you most like in a man? in a woman? The qualities I enjoy in both women and men are the same.  I want someone straightforward who doesn’t waste time and cuts to the chase.  I like candid people who are conscientious, kind, and exciting all at the same time.  Tact is important too. I also like complicated people, whatever that means.  Does that count as a quality?

11. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? It’s so hard to figure out what words you overuse.  I think I say “oh my god!’ and “Shut. Up!” more than I’d like to. I curse like a New Yorker.

12. When and where were you happiest? I am most happy when I get a full nights rest, after a good dance class, drinks & dinner with friends and also rare moments when I get to spend time alone.

13. Which talent would you most like to have? I don’t think that there is a talent that I’d like to have.  I used to dance, sing, and act when I was younger but after college, other pursuits got in the way.  I still dance at studios in NYC but I’m older and the lack of practice takes its toll.  So, it would be great to be as good as I was when I was 21 but that’s not happening.  I’m content to participate and do well for myself.

14. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I am a brutally critical person when it comes to judging myself so there probably isn’t anything that I would leave unchanged about me. There’s always a way to make yourself better. That doesn’t mean I’m unhappy about myself, it just means that I know there’s imperfections in everything and I wish that wasn’t the case.

15. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? If I died and came back to earth, I think that I would come back as a pet who is extremely pampered by its rich American owner.  All I would be expected to do is look cute and not pee on the rug.

16. Where would you most like to live? Where I’d like to live is a question that I’ve been considering for sometime now. I love NYC but it might be time for me to take a break. I will consider anywhere that’s not in the States. I welcome suggestions. But I’ll come back.

17. What is your most treasured possession? Hmm, maybe a piece of jewelry that I never wear for fear of losing it.  No idea what the monetary “value” is but it came from someone special. Oh I also love my Ostrich Pillow.  If you don’t know what that looks like, you should look it up.  If it was socially appropriate, I think I would wear it at least once a day in public.

18. What is your most marked characteristic? To be honest, I’m not really sure what a “marked” characteristic is.  One thing that is a little weird is that I can function well with very little sleep. I have an obscene amount of energy and am the least likely person to fall asleep in public, even on very, very long flights.
19. What do you most value in your friends? Loyalty and candor. I have a small group of friends who I’ve known for 20+ years.  They know me better than I know myself and love me anyway.  I most admire their silent nodding when I am spewing nonesense trying to convince myself of something that I don’t really believe.  Their silence means a lot and always makes me reconsider certain thoughts and ideas.

20. Who are your favorite writers? I can’t even begin to list my favorite writers! To name a few: Judy Blume, Edwidge Danticat, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Haruki Murakami , Anais Nin, Junot Diaz, Jhumpa Lahiri, Chinua Achebe, Edith Wharton.
21. What are your favorite names? My favorite names are ones that can be first and surnames at the same time. Or, alternatively, I like surnames as first names.  I went through a stage where I wanted to name my first child Ford but my friends nixed that idea and I’ve since grown out of that one. I still kinda like it though.

22.  How would you like to die? Never thought about that.  How about before I turn 40? 🙂 I know where I don’t want to die: in public.  I have paranoia that I’ll kick the bucket on the subway in NYC or on the street or worse, in the office.  I just don’t want anyone to see it happening.  It seems embarrassing and I wouldn’t want a crowd watching me. I guess I shouldn’t worry about that because I wouldn’t exist anymore, but that’s how I think.


NatashaAlexis2  After graduating with honors from New York University and working as a junior development associate at Showtime Networks, Natasha Alexis earned her J.D. from Northeastern Law School and practiced intellectual property law at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison. Prior to joining Chalberg & Sussman in 2014, Natasha worked at Zachary Shuster Harmsworth, where she built her own list of clients while assisting with business affairs and contract negotiation.

Natasha’s clients include Samuel W. Gailey, author of Deep Winter (Blue Rider Press), a Penguin Debut Author selection; Jezebel.com contributor Tracy Moore, author of Oops! How to Rock the Mother of Surprises: A Positive Guide to Your Unexpected Pregnancy (Adams Media); and Robert Tate Miller, author of Forever Christmas (Thomas Nelson).

A soccer fan and former dancer, Natasha is seeking manuscripts from all categories, including literary and commercial fiction, fun Middle Grade fiction, edgy chick lit, dark thrillers and New Adult fiction. Natasha is especially attracted to projects featuring people of color, and counts pop culture, lifestyle, and wellness-oriented nonfiction among her interests.

Random Thoughts – #BlackLivesMatter

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1. This morning I woke up to video of Martese Johnson, UVA college student, and young black man, being beaten by the cops for using a fake ID. He was face down in the street, his head bloodied, and he kept asking “how did this happen?” and I would say my heart broke, but it couldn’t because there are no more pieces left to break. #BlackLivesMatter

2. Why does it matter if Martese Johnson was a good student? That’s not the fucking point. #BlackLivesMatter

3. As I walked into work this morning, I kept seeing my son, face down in the street like that, over nothing. I am going to be a mess when he starts wandering around without The Husband or me. #BlackLivesMatter

4. Do you have to teach your seven year old child about how to act around the police, how to stay out of their way, never raise their hands too quickly, answer their questions, do not piss them off? All to prepare them for a day when they will be taller, more filled out, seem more of a threat simply because of the color of their skin. If not, you are so fucking lucky, you have no idea. Relish that shit because the other side of the coin fucking sucks. Trust me. #BlackLivesMatter

5. All of my education and The Husband’s education and the money we earn as we go to our fancy jobs means shit – that’s what I’ve learned these last couple of years. None of it matters – you can make yourself into something and in two seconds be shot down or beaten bloody for being the wrong color. And I’ve always known this – I grew up with a mother who put the holy fear of police officers into her children at a very young age, just ask The Husband, they terrify me and I will go out of my way to avoid them at any cost, and I’m a freaking lawyer, for god’s sake! – but the last few years and all of the dead black kids has really brought this fact home in a big way. Martese Johnson is the prime example of my point: UVA student, going to a bar with friends, well dressed, honor roll. None of it made a difference. #BlackLivesMatter

6. Could you imagine being Martese’s parents and seeing that video on television of your child being held down by a bunch of police officers, bloody, and calling for help? The terror and anger and helplessness and frustration…I can’t even. #BlackLivesMatter

7. I’m so mad, I’m shaking, and it’s difficult to be coherent and meaningful. #BlackLivesMatter

8. Is this ever going to stop? #BlackLivesMatter

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