Hi there! My name is V.L. Locey and it is a real pleasure to be guest blogging on Wendy`s lovely site today! Since most of you aren`t familiar with me or my work, I figure we should have us a sit down, put on a fresh pot of coffee and just chat. I`m one of those folks who feels most at home with a cup of java in my hand at someone`s kitchen table. So, for today, we`ll gather round Wendy`s virtual table and have us a good klatch!
Let`s start off with the basics about me. I`m a fifty-one year old author of rural romantic/comedies and other assorted romance based tales. I`m a stay-at-home mom/farmer/author and I may as well come clean now….I have a thang for Greek mythos, in particular, those sexy Greek gods. I adore a good love story! If I can work some humor into the tale, so much the better! That`s kind of how I live my life. I try my best to find the laughter in daily things.
Living here in the hills of north-central Pennsylvania on a small farm, sometimes the laughs find me and sometimes I have to dig for them. My hubby of close to twenty-one years (and yes, he provides me with laughs daily, both intentionally and unintentionally, bless his heart) and my sixteen year old daughter call our twelve acres the hillside farm for good reason. The only flat spot on our land is our driveway. Living on the side of a mountain makes things interesting in the winter rest assured! There is nothing like ice skating down our dirt driveway to meet the school bus, or, crawling on hands and knees up the hill to feed the birds on a bitter morning! The things we rural folks do for fun….
We raise an assortment of critters here. Ducks, chickens, turkeys, beef steers and dairy goats. We`ve also raised hogs in the past but our hearts are claimed by the goats. Kidding season for us only reinforces the admiration we have for these loveable, quirky, sometimes troublesome creatures.
But really, take a look at that face and tell me that you don`t love goats? They are as addictive as potato chips but far less fattening. Running up and down the hill for chores keeps those pounds at bay…or would if I could leave the Milano cookies alone but that`s neither here nor there! We currently have three different breeds of dairy goats: Nubian, LaMancha and Sable. Each breed has their own personality. The Nubians are the divas. They act the most uppity and make the most noise. The LaMancha`s are the instigators of our herd. If you find a gate opened that you KNOW you closed, it was a LaMancha that opened it. The Sables are the Grateful Dead fans of the caprine world. They are just chilling and enjoying the world, man. Peace out.
I think it was this love of goats, my crazed lust for Greek gods and my obsession for romance and laughter that nudged me to pen my first novel, ‘Of Gods & Goats’ last year.
I have long had a secret (or not so secret if you ask my family and friends) crush on Ares, the Greek god of war. Sure, I know there are other gods out there that fit the romantic leading man role better but there is something about Ares….Sorry, I drifted. Anydoodles, I`ve been writing seriously for about five years and in all that time I could not find a way to use my god of battle-lust in a romance story. He just didn`t seem to want to fit into any plotline I came up with. He`s very stubborn at times. Then, one night last summer, his story arrived.
It came with a line of thunderstorms that spawned several tornadoes in our county. That is a rare occurrence in the hills of Pennsylvania. We don`t see too many twisters in the mountains. This front was a nasty one, pummeling our little rural community with rain, wind, ferocious lightning, hail and a couple touchdowns. Of course, during this unsettling time the power went off. There we were hubby, daughter, the three dogs and two cats and me, sitting in the dark with flashlights, praying for our neighbors and our barn roof. Me being who I am, said something like this-
“Man alive, someone has really pissed off Zeus.”
From that one comment and that particularly nasty line of storms, Ares story was born. But, as I fiddled with the plot and the characters, the story began to change. It became not Ares story but Libby`s. The moment I placed her name and her traits to paper, she came alive and demanded to be the star. Ares seemed willing to play her romantic lead and so I let Ms. Simons speak. The tale that she told captured my heart and that big, brash war gods, too. I can get inside the head of a woman with ease. Inside the head of a man? Well, I`m still trying to figure out how those cogs cog.
Libby is a widowed, thirty-five year old woman, living in the hills of Pennsylvania, raising dairy goats and making soap to help pay the bills. One day she finds not only a hole in her barn roof after a night of violent storms passes over, but a towering, disoriented man (naked as the proverbial jaybird because my mind is naughty) claiming to be THE god of war.
Uh-huh, right. Someone call the men in the white suits. I know that`s what a few of you may be thinking. It`s okay. After reading my manuscript for the first time, my editor called and asked me what I was smoking. I took that to be a compliment about my imagination. Libby found herself questioning her own sanity as well. Not only did she have this naked man lying in her barn, she then had to deal with an owl who became a woman that professes to be Athena, Greek goddess of wisdom, and then commands Libby to aid her half-brother in a quest for Hades` missing Helm of Darkness. All this before Libby even had a decent cup of coffee!
Things escalate from that pronouncement of Athena`s. Libby now has to try to keep the god of war a secret from her rural neighbors. Not an easy task. We folks in the hills know everything about everyone and aren`t shy about talking about what our neighbors are up to! Gossiping is much more fun than cleaning barns. She also finds herself facing ancient Grecian monsters, a terribly upset god of the underworld (Hades dislikes having others touch his stuff. He has sharing issues I think), a Minotaur that is not your standard Minotaur and a saw-whet companion of Athena`s that thinks her shower curtain rod is a dandy place to nap during the day.
Then there is the god of war himself, and those intense, scary, sizzling sensations that Libby is beginning to feel whenever he is near. Ares not only teaches Libby that she can and should love again; he also reaffirms her faith in higher beings. It`s kind of hard to denounce gods when one is plodding around in a pair of bib overalls, eating your food and making you experience emotions and desires you thought you had buried with your husband.
‘Of Gods & Goats’ is the first in a trilogy of novels. ‘Of Heroes & Haybales’ and ‘Of Titans & Tractors’ will follow with releases in 2013 and 2014, God willing and the creek don`t rise as they say. I hope any of you that decide to grab the novel (Available at my website - for E-Readers on Smashwords) will get a chuckle or a face fanning moment from it. If the books make you smile than I am a happy goatherder indeed! I`m also on Facebook, GoodReads and Twitter if anyone wishes to stop in and say howdy! You can find me at my blog as well right here –
Here`s an excerpt from, ‘Of Gods & Goats’. I hope you enjoy the snippet and it`s been a real pleasure to chat with y`all!
“Ares?” I called softly as I gently stretched my leg out and worked on getting my bandana out of my eyes. I heard the rustle in the mound of loose hay inside the large metal round bale feeder to my left. “I just wanted to make sure you were okay,” I added.
“I am fine, Bunting,” he replied, much to my relief. “My ego is sorely bruised, but aside from that, all is well. This sitting and hiding, it is not my preferred manner of behavior.”
“Yeah, I can imagine you`re more of a doer than a sitter,” I said as a small brown bat made its first pass of the pasture. Bats and I get along well and I had even had Matt put a bat house on the back-side of Paddy`s barn.
I sat in silence and simply enjoyed the mammal`s sharp dives as the day left my mountain. Paddy was content inside and chewing on some fresh hay, his tail hitting the metal gate in leisurely swats. I would have been quite at peace if not for the obvious.
“I just wanted to let you know,” I mentioned nonchalantly, “That the reason I kissed you earlier was because I was scared.”
“Truly? I recall the kiss well and I do not remember fear on your lips. Passion and want, yes, but fear? Nay, not fear. Fabricate what you wish to placate your inner turmoil if you so desire, but know that I am aware of the truth, Libby.”
I stared at the hay pile intently for a moment then turned my head so that I could see my little home. The windows were softly illuminated and I could make out Argus sitting in the window.
“Sometimes the things that you hold onto are all you have to get you through a day,” I murmured as I focused on my white cat in the window.
“True, and yet sometimes we must let go of what we cling to in fear and allow the sun to illuminate the darkness.”
“Wow, I had no idea you were so philosophical,” I said and blinked rapidly at the silhouette of my fussy feline. The hay mound shuffled ever so softly, his trying to get his bulk arranged I assumed.
“I am not, most generally. `Tis my sibling Apollo that waxes poetic but although I do not find much merit in his flowery prose, there are some things he professes that make much sense. Perchance I am just bored sitting here in a mountain of dried grasses and my mouth is wishing to run away with me.”
I smiled at his words. Yeah, I could easily see the second part of his admission. Ares would not be a man prone to tossing out soliloquies at the drop of a hat, or battle helmet, as the case may be.
“Maybe you should sit in a hay mound more often if that`s what your bored mind comes up with,” I whispered as I sat and waited. The hill of hay made a deep grunt that tugged my lips upwards.
He may have been ready to whip a retort back but then all manner of conversation died because of the snapping ball of jade energy that appeared at the far end of my cattle pasture. My eyes watered and, yes, it was the appearance of the underworld critter and not Ares soft proclamation of truth. The entire pasture flashed so brightly for just a millisecond that I thought I had been blinded. Then the new night settled back down over the hillside. I sucked in a passing bug; thank God it was a little one, before I could see once again. I began to cough to expel the bug from my lungs and the Minotaur whipped its head in our direction. Its eyes glowed crimson. I coughed harder as I looked at the beast. It was easier to see him now since my eyes had grown as wide as dinner plates.
The beast was a huge humanoid, easily standing eight feet tall. It was covered with long matted fur that hung from its body. I could make out two wide horns that grew from the side of its skull and a round ring in its bovine nose.
Its chest was bare like a man`s, aside from a necklace of skulls that dangled from its thick neck. I coughed and it lowered its enormous head and pawed at the severely rutted ground with a hoof. Then it charged straight at me. I pushed to my feet, still trying to hack up that stupid bug and backed up in primal fear. My thighs hit the barbed wire and a jolt of electricity ran into me. The inhaled insect came up into my mouth as I sailed backwards over the top strand of our corral. Down I went on my ass with a rush that sent the soggy bug back into the night. I yelled just once and then rolled over to crawl to the gate that separated me from my Hereford. The Minotaur ran full bore into the trio of snapping wires and let out a bray that made my ears weep. Ares exploded from the hay mound and cleared the top rung of the round bale feeder in one fluid motion.
I sat there, tasting bug and abject fear as the bovine slash humanoid denizen of the netherworld struggled and flailed. The more the beast fought the wires the more entangled he became. It was then that I noticed he wore a filthy sort of loincloth to cover his manly bits.
“Are you uninjured, Libby?” Ares asked after planting his girth between me and the well-wrapped Minotaur. “Speak to me, woman!”
“I`m okay,” I squeaked and drew back closer to the gate when the Minotaur reached for me with clawed hands. “I swallowed a bug,” I added just to show the war god that I was only tearing up due to insect inhalation and not fear of death by Minotaur goring. “It tasted really bad.”
“Stay far from its grip, Bunting. He can snap human bones with ease,” Ares warned then used the cattle prod to make the hand retreat. Another horrible sound of agony came from the creature. It made me feel terrible and it brought a low from the red and white beefer inside the cow barn. The Minotaur stopped fighting the ever-tightening bonds of barbed wire and called softly to my steer. Paddy replied. Great, they were talking to each other in cow. I started when I felt the hot breaths of my Hereford blowing down on my bandana.
“Don`t worry, buddy,” I said shakily and tucked my legs against my tiny breasts. The Minotaur then raised its head to look at me. Damn but my animal lover side was really getting to me. Then I realized that the beast wasn`t looking at me, it was trying to see Paddy behind me. A low sound came from the Minotaur and Paddy responded in kind.
“`Tis a pity we had the misfortune of capturing one of these,” Ares muttered with rancor. “They are not the most intelligent of my uncle`s minions. We will get very little from the hellion aside from guttural grunts and perhaps a word or two. I say we slay the beast now and be done with it.”
I stared at those red eyes and swallowed down a ball of unease. Then the Minotaur called to my steer as if begging for assistance from one of its own. Paddy pushed on the gate with his huge head and answered the plaintive call.
“We can`t kill it,” I said and stood up carefully, using the gate at my back for assistance. “I think you should try to talk to it. What?” I asked at the huff that came from the man still guarding me from the twitching Minotaur.
“Libby, there is no talking to a beast such as this. All it knows is killing and destruction!”
“Well, some people think that about you, don`t they, but I`m still talking to you!” I fired back, resolve now filling my breast.
“Do you think to compare me to a Minotaur, female?!” he blustered. Ares blusters very well I must say, but his protests aside I wasn`t going to let him just dispatch the beast coldly. I might live to regret that decision, and a few others I made, but my mind was made up. I turned from the man and his loud complaints and unlatched Paddy`s gate. The steer pushed out and lumbered to the entangled Minotaur on the ground. They touched noses and Paddy jerked as another rush of electric went through him from the wet nose to nose contact.
“Sorry, Paddy,” I whispered then limped around the side of the barn and tugged the power feed line from the regulator. Ares was right on my back and when I turned, my nose scrubbed against a pectoral of steel. He was glowering. I couldn`t see him since darkness was now blanketing my farm but I could feel his anger.
“Don`t argue with me on this one, Ares; we`re not killing the poor thing!” I stated and shoved around him.
How I got past the mountain of muscle I don`t know, he must have been too shocked to move. I limped through the gate, listening to the sounds of cow friendship coming from the twosome of short ribs and left the cow barn for the shed.
Again, the god of manly courage was behind me.
“Libby, I forbid you to allow that spawn of Hades realm to run free!” he bellowed as he came into the small shed adjacent to the cow barn. I flipped on the light and ignored him the best I could. I was searching for my five-gallon plastic fencing bucket. Inside I would find my fencing pliers. Now if I could only locate the damned bucket among all the hundred pound bags of goat and cow feed I would free the Minotaur and then…well then I didn`t quite know to be honest. His hands on my shoulders scared me slightly and then I was spun around to face the very disgruntled god of war.
“Woman, you are thinking with your tender heart,” the man barked. His fingers were digging into my flesh but I simply planted my feet and took it. “That beast is not a domesticated bovine like your pet is,” he said and waved a huge hand in the direction of the cow pasture. “It is a creature of wickedness, an atrocity that needs be sent to the foul bowels of Tartarus where it will languish until it is called upon to serve its vile master again!”
“You are not killing it,” I argued and set my jaw. I guess he wasn`t familiar with my set jaw because he continued to expound on the reasons why the Minotaur had to die. We stood there, in the shed with tiny little moths and millers now coming in to check out the light; neither one of us willing to give an inch. Finally his list of reasons had run out and I was still stiff-backed and firmly jawed. His mouth clamped closed and his eyes were lit like bright blue gemstones. Then he let his left hand move from my tense shoulder. His rough fingers glided down my arm, a soft caress of sandpaper on satin until his hand moved to encircle my wrist.
“You are the most exasperating female I have ever encountered and I am the son of Hera, queen of Olympus and high ruler of exasperation,” he said then without warning he tugged me into his barrel chest and dropped his mouth over mine.
The moths and millers were bouncing off the exposed light-bulb. Paddy and the Minotaur were still talking to each other in soft bovine and my heart was about to explode from my chest. I should have pushed at him, I know. I should have spit in his face and maybe even slapped his regal godly cheek. But did I do any of those things? Nope. I rose up on my toes, winced at the sharp cry of my twisted ankle and let him kiss me. Kissing him was like placing your lips to a fully charged tractor battery terminal. My synapses sparked and sizzled. His fingers loosened on my wrist, perhaps because he felt no resistance on my part or maybe because he wanted to get a good grip on my neck. I sighed across his lips as he placed a war-mongering hand to the back of my neck.