Supernatural Saturday – Reading & Discussion

What’s happening?
A reading and discussion with authors Dea Schofield and H.L. Brooks.

Where!?
At Scarborough Fair Bed and Breakfast in Baltimore!

WHAT TIME?
4pm-5:30pm

Please come by and pick up a copy of our new books. Or just listen to us and ask questions. Though buying our books means we can keep writing more!

If you’re a book blogger, vlogger, or bookstagrammer, send us a note that you’re going to come by so we can have a swag bag for you!

Sexy Shape Shifters?

Last month Red August was featured in the February Ever After Box fairy tale and romance book subscription service. Red August was my debut novel, and the first in the Red August series about a girl who is becoming a woman, and discovers a world she is a part of, but never knew existed. It also happens to be a modernized Red Riding Hood retelling. For March the theme is Sexy Shifters! Since werewolves fit that theme, they have accepted the second book in the Red August series, Red Archer, for their March box. The exciting part is, apart from people who come to my launch party on March 18th at the New Deal Cafe, Ever After box subscribers will be the first to read Red Archer because they will get a free ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) download of Red Archer in the March box!

Visit the Ever After Box website to sign up for their subscription boxes, for the fairy tale romance lover in your life.

You can visit the Facebook invitation for the book launch here: https://www.facebook.com/events/255044768254137/  (PLEASE RSVP if you plan on coming – it helps us to make sure there is enough nibbles and drinks)

 

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Following a season of late weddings and new romance, August Archer is ready to embrace the next part of her life—ready to reclaim her lost heritage, and to join herself with the man she loves.

But her sojourn with Faolan to their Scottish homeland turns out to be a very different trip than either of them could have imagined. August feels the bonds of love twisting into knots when the past comes back to haunt them both, even as the bonds of family grow stronger when she finds the hunter clans—her ancient kin—preparing to fight for what they hold dear.

Before this journey ends, August will face her bitterest enemy, confront a shocking betrayal in the Archer family, and become transformed by a spirit world she never dreamed existed. And she will encounter a ghost from the past that threatens to unravel her entire future, in this reimagined saga of the Red Riding Hood story—the sequel to Red August.

Celebrating Women

I will be a vendor at the Celebrating Women event in Prince George’s County at Marietta House Museum. I will have my novel and coloring book available.

Red August copies are $14.95, the coloring book is $8.99 – descriptions and photos at the end of this post.

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I’m lucky enough to know two other fantastic area women artists who will also be vending at the event, Bridget of BDevlinDesigns, and Mary of Scribbles In Stitches.

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The event is meant to showcase the talents of women artists and entrepreneurs.

From the website event page:

September 17th – 11am-6pm

Celebrate women of many talents – artists, and entrepreneurs.  Shop female owned food, wine and craft vendors.  View artists’ demonstrations and enjoy readings, plays, music and more. $5 per person entry – children 5 and under are free.

Please come by and support area artists and businesses!

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Red August Description.

What if you found out that you were descended from a long line of clandestine fighters, and that your family was still at war? Or that the love of your life was something other than human? August Archer thinks she’s a normal teenage girl—even though she has been having disturbing and erotic dreams about wolves lately. Still grieving over the loss of her bookish, charming father, and wondering over his final gift of a red hooded cloak, August is uprooted from her New York City apartment to a tiny town in Maryland, and the rambling Victorian house where he grew up. There she meets a wise woman with a gift for herbal medicine, the gentle old man who keeps the house in repair and the grounds thriving, and her new neighbor: an enigmatic, irresistibly fascinating man who refuses to talk to her, yet who seems to know her better than she knows herself, and fuels her most intense romantic fantasies. But it’s when August begins to coax her feisty Scottish grandmother out of her self-imposed catatonia that a strange tale of werewolves and hunters emerges—one in which the man of her dreams may be her family’s oldest enemy—in this modern-day telling of the Red Riding Hood story.

 

Micro Fairy Tales

I have been writing micro-stories that are based on images I find in my feed. So far Faerie Magazine has been the source, but I see many things on a daily basis that get me inspired. Here are a couple of micro-fairy tales. Perhaps they are just a nip of something much bigger. You never know. I post them on my Facebook page, so if you wish to catch them, that’s the best place to do it. I can’t promise they will always end up here. PLUS, at the FB page you can click all those little links and learn about the models and the photographers and stuff. Which you TOTES wanna do!  🙂

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Reading in Baltimore

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Please hop over to the Scarborough Fair Bed & Breakfast website and look at this place.  It’s the cutest and has the best theme ever:  literary.  They are a highly rated B&B that is in a wonderful section of Baltimore within walking distance of great shopping, food and one of my favorite museums The American Visionary Arts Museum.

Don’t forget to check out their packages page – one of them includes some theatre and dinner and flowers.

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Scarborough has graciously offered to host a reading of Red August just in time for the holidays.  Also, did you know that you could get a room discount of 30% until March!?  Trust me, I don’t even live that far from Baltimore, but I got the Grimm room (I mean, seriously – how could I NOT stay in the Grimm room?) for Will’s birthday a couple of years ago and we loved it.  We kicked around town all day and then rather than driving back, we lounged around in our room, being sweet to each other and eating Dangerously Delicious blueberry birthday pie.   Then to top off the amazing decadence of it all, we got to eat the wonderful breakfasts that Barry makes.  Everything was fresh and homemade.

They also have a sampling of locally made items near the entrance – including locally roasted coffee and scarfs and stuff.

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Erica Smith & William Hardy

The reading in Baltimore will be an expansion of our last reading at The New Deal Cafe.  Actors Erica Smith and William Hardy will be reading passages for about an hour. The theatre in one of the packages mentioned above?  That theatre is Spotlighters, which William Hardy (who also happens to be an amazing writer, and my lovah) used to perform pretty regularly at years ago.  Baltimore is full of great stuff.

There will be some hot cider and traditional Scottish black bun (a Hogmanay tradition) as well as other refreshments.  Stop by for the reading, check out the B&B and then go shopping.

There is a Facebook Events Page for this event.

December 5th  from 1-3pm
at Scarborough Fair Bed and Breakfast801 South Charles Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21230

Sexy Stuff

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I put sex in my stories.  I addressed some of it in a podcast before the release of Red August – but I thought I would blog about it, to explore it a bit further.  If you want to listen to the podcast you can hop on over to Raven Heights Radio and listen to that episode HERE.

To state the obvious, some people aren’t bothered by sexual scenes in a story, and some people even seek out books with sexual passages.  Then, there are readers who don’t like sex in a story, and regardless of my reasons for including sexual scenes, it’s not going to really make them like it.  So, for those who are curious, here are some thoughts about about those sexy bits of Red August  and also, why you will find sexy bits in my second book in the series, Red Archer, as well.

When I first conceived of writing a fairy tale, I thought it would be fun to try my hand at an erotic short.  I had listened to a podcast from an erotica author who cranked out many erotic shorts a month and makes a good living at it.  I was at a bit of crossroads in my career life and wanted to switch from focusing on art and photography to writing.  Naturally, I wanted to write something that would be financially supporting.  So, I figured I would try out this model mentioned in the erotica writer’s podcast.  I’d write something under 10k words and I would self-publish it for 99 cents and move on to the next fairy tale.  However, once I got to writing the character of August Archer and her budding age-gap relationship with werewolf Faolan Conall, I couldn’t just stick to the erotic stuff – I wanted more story.  Eventually, there wasn’t a lot of sex in the story left, but what was there was pretty hot.  So, what could I do now but finish the story?

I had believed writing erotica might be a good route for me because my first ever paycheck as a writer was back in the late 90s and it was a short erotic story for Playgirl.  I figured I could channel that part of myself and write something short and steamy – but I failed.  I just wanted to know more about the characters.  I wanted to know where they would end up and all of the adventures they might get up to as their relationships developed.  So, I decided instead to write a modern fairy tale adaptation and put sex in where it felt right to me.  That’s how Red August was born.

I am a sensualist.  I immerse myself in the clicks of a keyboard and the smell of freshly brewed coffee, the sweet and rich melting of chocolate on my tongue, the tickle of the hair on the back of my neck and the warm pressing of my lover’s lips to my cheek – all while just sitting here at my desk.  These things cannot be sorted out from each other.  They are interwoven.  Eggs, flour, milk, sugar, all baked together – touching and creating a full experience.

Sex, passion, lust and hormones are a huge foundation of our motivations as humans, even if we don’t want to admit it, despite the reality of it being all around us.  I realize for some people, they’ve got that part of themselves pretty locked down.  They keep it private.  They don’t like it intruding on their stories about adventure or danger.  But, for me, there is a message in that:  sex intrudes, whether we want it to or not.  If people want to read it just to enjoy the idea that there is this horny teen girl who has an interesting paranormal back-story – I am totally fine with that.  The book belongs to the readers once you put it out there.  The author’s intent sometimes isn’t clear, or the person reading it might not have an experience or perspective that lets the message in.  There is nothing wrong with any of that.  If sexy writing isn’t for you, I’m not trying to convince you otherwise.  I’m just saying that I can’t help but include it.

The messages I got when I was younger, compared to those that I claimed for myself later, helped me come to a place where I recognize that sex is embraceable as a whole part of yourself and not something to try and put in a box.  There are so many contradictions in our society about sex.  We require consent, but don’t always prosecute rapists.  Or we get consent, then are accused of breaching a boundary we didn’t know was there.  We say girls are too young to dress in a sexy outfit or buy dolls that push sex, then we sell everything with sex.  There is a calamity about young girls wearing sexualized make-up and clothing, then we deny that clothing or appearance can be sexualized (feminist perspective).  It’s confusing as hell.  And there is no way for me as one human to un-confuse it.  But what I can do is write about a girl who is in touch with her sex drive.  I can also make an attempt to not romanticize things that are unhealthy.  I will write about things that are not healthy happening in a relationship, but I make great effort to not romanticize or objectify in my story.

I wrote about August’s desires and private actions because that is part of who she is.  Her body is doing things that are invisible to those around her, but hormones and chemicals rage on inside of her nonstop.

For me, I think part of the problem is that too often, women aren’t portrayed as whole individuals.   When we get explicit sex in a story some feel it defines the story, putting it into a specific slot (I know), saying “oh, this book is about sex.”  There’s nothing wrong with reading it on that level.  But that’s not what I’m trying to create – a story that’s primary objective is titillation.  My objective is simple – to show a whole girl, with her desires, menstrual cycles, awkwardness and cleverness–all the good and the bad–and sex is part of that story.

Take all of the above and add onto it the fact that August is not just a human girl.  She has hormones of something other than human coursing thorough her veins.  Her blood is rich and heavy with longing and the drive to procreate to a point she doesn’t understand it.  Furthermore, because as a general rule, people don’t talk much about sex to each other, she’s confused by it.  And if teenagers do talk about those things, particularly before the information age (my book is set in the 1980s), they can be misinformed.  They don’t know how normal it is to be having these aches and desires.  It’s an aspect of our animal side that is going on in our brains as we go on with all of the activities of our day.

There is a well-loved episode of the original Star Trek series in which this subject is the main theme.  Pon Farr highlights the power of hormones and instinctual drive.  You won’t get to see any steamy sex scenes with Spock, but I would have liked to.  I also wouldn’t be a bit surprised if there isn’t some fan fiction out there taking that episode much further than shirtless fight scenes on Vulcan.

Hormones and bonding chemicals, like oxytocin, are fascinating and still a bit mysterious.  I’ve learned a lot about bonding chemicals in the past four or five years. They are addictive and  powerful and can affect you like other drugs – clouding your judgment, making you feel euphoric, or numb.   When people have affairs, they can get the sense that they don’t love their earlier partner any longer because of the bonding chemicals that take over their brains with the new person.  This isn’t a mystery and it isn’t new, but it’s overwhelming and sometimes ruinous.  I like exploring the way these bonding chemicals can make us hold on to relationships that were cut short, or idealize people who aren’t good for us.

I attempt to write sex in my stories sensually rather than what somebody might consider raunchy.  But, if you like your sex tucked away, as an aside mention, or avoided like tip-toeing through a garden, then the Red August series probably isn’t for you.

Red August Review by TomeTender

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“Grab a fan, because the teen hormones are raging, in full, intimate detail! Red August by H.L. Brooks is not your childhood fairytale come to life, but rather a contemporary version starring an older Red, caught between womanhood and childhood. Filled with wonderfully quirky and kind secondary characters, a feisty grandmother, an ancient feud, death, misunderstandings and a cameo appearance by the Woodsman, H.L. Brooks has taken May-December romances to an entirely new level…”

READ THE REST OF THE REVIEW

WHERE TO BUY RED AUGUST

Book Update

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I’ve updated my website HLBrooks.com to reflect all of the links that you need in order to purchase Red August.  The most recent addition is approval by Amazon yesterday.

The e-book is only $3.99.  There is not a print copy available as of yet.

Links for purchase:
Amazon
iBooks
Barnes & Nobel
Smashwords (you can read 33% of the book for free here)
Kobo

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Synopsis

What if you found out that you were descended from a long line of clandestine fighters, and that your family was still at war? Or that the love of your life was something other than human? August Archer thinks she’s a normal teenage girl–even though she has been having disturbing and erotic dreams about wolves lately. Still grieving over the loss of her bookish, charming father, and wondering over his final gift of a red hooded cloak, August is uprooted from her New York City apartment to a tiny town in Maryland, and the rambling Victorian house where he grew up. There she meets a wise woman with a gift for herbal medicine, the gentle old man who keeps the house in repair and the grounds thriving, and her new neighbor: an enigmatic, irresistibly fascinating man who refuses to talk to her, yet who seems to know her better than she knows herself, and fuels her most intense romantic fantasies. But it’s when August begins to coax her feisty Scottish grandmother out of her self-imposed catatonia that a strange tale of werewolves and hunters emerges–one in which the man of her dreams may be her family’s oldest enemy–in this modern-day telling of the Red Riding Hood story.