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Slow Burn – A Sexy Spy Thriller Reduced for Cyber-Monday!

Michael WestenlargeSlow Burn – A Sexy Spy Thriller, is being discounted on Cyber Monday only from $3.99 to $0.99 on Amazon.

Description:
Tempting secrets of an angel
Seductive mysteries of the beast

Derrick, a former spy, has been asked to protect the sultry Sonja, a death metal singer whose magical voice grabs him by the balls and won’t let go. He’ll protect her, all right…with every part of his body tight against hers.

Sonja uses her voice to purge her fans of their darkness, their hate and hopelessness. But evil forces want to use her magic for their own ends. All she wants, at this point, is safety for herself and her band.

When Derrick and Sonja team up, Sonja does her best to resist the lure of safety he represents, until a radical league that wants her dead propels her into his arms. Will his help be enough? Or will she lose her heart to him, only to be killed in the process of saving the world?

Remember, Monday only, Slow Burn will be available for only 0.99!  Grab a copy from Amazon today!

 

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Witchcraft and Artwork

One of the things I’ve discovered in my years of researching Magick Bookwitchcraft and paganism is the artwork.  I’m not a huge fan of paintings honestly, I blame my poor eyesight.  But I can still appreciate not just the talent an artist puts into the work, but the magic itself.  Ever notice how different Tarot decks have different artwork to represent the symbolism in those tools of divinity?

With the myriad of different paths and belief systems in place spanning Wicca and Paganism, there is something to appeal to every taste.

JusticeI lean toward the more erotic pieces but some folks find beauty in nature.  It’s awesome to me when both come together in one piece.    Some folks find strength in the images of the Goddess, both old and new.    I tend to again go with the erotic, but my tastes lean more toward the sensual in these instances.  I’ve pictured the Goddess as this Rubenesque woman with long, flowing hair and curves, but that may just be my fantasy.

How about spirit animals?  Some of the art dedicated to our favorite furry creatures shows our penchant for feline or lupine.  I tend to lean toward the wolf here as I fancy him the creature of the night, just like me, the night writer.

What do you like in Wiccan/Pagan art?

Sonja has a taste for art in the form of music, in Slow Burn – A Sexy

A sexy spy thriller

A sexy spy thriller

Spy Thriller.  Out now from Ardent Books on Amazon.  Former spy Derrick falls for the sexy spitfire he’s bound to protect, even as terrorists scheme to take her from him – and destroy his way of life.  Get your copy today!

Slow Burn – A Sexy Spy Thriller

SlowBurnCoverEbookOn Thursday, July 9th I have a new release in the paranormal romance genre from Ardent Books.  It’ll be available via Amazon for .99 and features my Burn Notice inspired characters Derrick and Sonja.

I’ll be doing a huge promotion for this, starting with a blog tour and mentioning the book, plus the inexpensive price, for the entire week once I have the finals for copy and tagline.  There will be a handful of e-book ARCs going out for review, too.

This story was a lot of fun to write because it meant I could watch my favorite characters from Burn Notice and pick apart their motivations for doing what they do, acting why they did.  Often, a writer comes up with a chacater based loosely on something in reality, and then molds it to fit the story, or the story to work with the character.Michael Westenlarge

I’d been going into San Francisco one day, listening to Devildriver and wishing for something like Devildriver, but with clean, female vocals.  I think after watching Burn Notice that night with my ex, did I come up with the concept of a shapeshifter that retired, rather than was burned, but still hired to do a protection gig.  I paired him with a death metal lead singer who had power to manipulate her audiences through the use of her voice.

I’ll be posting the cover this week,so stay tuned!

This is the current rough draft of the tagline and blurb:

Former spy Derrick falls for the sexy spitfire he’s bound to protect, even as terrorists scheme to take her from him – and destroy his way of life.

Description:

Tempting secrets of an angel
Seductive mysteries of the beast

Derrick, a former spy, has been asked to protect the sultry Sonja, a death metal singer whose magical voice grabs him by the balls and won’t let go. He’ll protect her, all right…with every part of his body tight against hers.

Sonja uses her voice to purge her fans of their darkness, their hate and hopelessness. But evil forces want to use her magic for their own ends. All she wants, at this point, is safety for herself and her band.

cigar smokingWhen Derrick and Sonja team up, Sonja does her best to resist the lure of safety he represents, until a radical league that wants her dead propels her into his arms. Will his help be enough? Or will she lose her heart to him, only to be killed in the process of saving the world?

Perhaps for my Patreon supporters, I can throw up something that the public hasn’t seen yet, but I won’t know what’s what until after release day 😉

Let’s talk Bad Boys

I was told recently that the novel coming out from Ardent Books has a bad boy in it.  I didn’t think this was the case at first, but a second glance with some important questions made me rethink my stance.

Capt MalDerrick, from Slow Burn, coming soon from Ardent Books, is a bad boy, though not entirely in the traditional sense of the word.  He’s not really a rebel without a cause, he knows his purpose.  Espionage was not the way he’d get his point across to do his part for shape shifters and humankind.  In fact, that caused nightmares when he closed his eyes.

Nor was he the type of person to be prince charming.  True, he lives by his own rules, but those rules mimic human society close, until the animal part of him kicks in.  The puma, a mountain lion, has his own set of guidelines that are simple, animalistic and break down to only three simple rules:

Mate.
Feed.
Kill, repeat

wine and a cigarThat’s it.  Between the man and the beast, Derrick doesn’t take any shit.  While indulging in human activities like sex, booze and smoking the finest cigars, he also goes against the grain in those worlds, being a death metal fan. In short, he’s a man who charts his own path.

That’s exactly what attracted Sonja to him when she saw him at one of her shows.  The devil may care attitude didn’t come across callously like some males show, but his extreme self confidence, which was as far from ego as could be, was something that aroused her.

When she finally meets him in person, she’s relieved to find him ever the gentleman, even as he hints at perversion they’d both like to explore.  In the end, what type of bad boy will he be?

What do you like about the bad boy image, past or present?

Slow Burn coming soon from Ardent Books:  Former spy Derrick falls for the magical woman he was hired to protect from terrorists who want her gifts to destroy his paranormal community.

Slow Burn – a novel about a former spy and a metal maven, coming soon from Ardent Books!

It’s been a while since I’ve updated this blog.  Life sort of got in the way, and I’ve been working on projects in the cigar arena to help promote ACC Cigars, and attempt to have a life.whiskey

Well, the life bit didn’t really happen.  Mostly, I handled editing duties and began building a line at Ardent Books, while my editor took a crack at what was originally called Burning for Derrick.

We decided on a title change.  For one, Slow Burn conjures up images more associated to my existing brand in alcohol and tobacco.  Plus, it pushes forward the ideals we have in romance, about a steamy, sexy affair between two lovers, who end up together despite all the odds.

Derrick, a former spy who left the game to regain peace in his life, and Sonja, the empathic lead singer of an up and coming death metal band, are thrust together in a fast paced, action adventure romance.  We are nailing down the details, but chances are, if you’re here, you’re really more focused on the cigar aspect.

gerard_butler_05That’s right, there is a cigar aspect to this story.  Both my hero and my hero’s brother are ardent cigar smokers.  I’ve named the sticks they tend to fancy in the book, and when it comes out, there might be trivia relating to this for a copy of the e-book.  Who knows.

Rest assured, I’ve smoked plenty of fine cigars over the course of what…it’s been six months since my last update?  There was the viaje stuffed turkey, ACC S. E. 12 year, Propio Leon, think I even had something new from La Sirena.  Oh, right.  The Oceano.  It’s a solid maduro, if your’e curious.

Fans of bad boys will love Derrick’s easy going manner, but those who remember what men were like before the censors stepped in and tried to tell us how to live will definitely appreciate the cigar aspect of this novel.

What long ago past time are you longing for?

Look out for Slow Burn, coming soon from Ardent Books!  Former spy Derrick falls for the magical woman he was hired to protect from terrorists who want her gifts to destroy his paranormal community. 

Ritual Magic

I thought I’d explore another hook for this post because I’m learning
more about Wicca and Witchcraft along with the paranormal, and I’d pumaalready declared this blog open to whiskey, witches, cigars and the more primal element of animalistic urges some of us share.

I’ve also opined on Facebook that the thing linking all of my facebook friends together is ritual. Whiskey has a ritual, cigars are a ritual in themselves as are pipes, music has a rhythm that inspires ritual and those who don’t mind the magic in my life, understand it too, is a ritual.

Ritual to me has always been a point of focus.  The world itself spins out of control so much with everyday activity that trying to put ones mind in the right frame for what some call wishcraft becomes difficult. Burning Candle Learning the very basics of magic I was taught to stare at the flame of a lit candle and focus my attention on that and only that for a few minutes at a time.  Gradually, that time increased from five minutes to fifteen and I found my mind and the energy around me a little clearer.  Simple trick, but powerful, none the less.

I have a ritual when I write that allows me to focus.  I have a ritual as to how I drink whiskey and even how I light my cigars.  It all ties in to focusing my energy for that particular experience.

I mention the candle trick but there are others.  Some folks use visualization to change their realities, creating grandiose vision boards to put their mind’s energy in tune with their desires.   Using magazines, poster board or sites like Pinterest where you can journal creativity online.  I like that option better but many folks prefer the tactile with magazines and poster boards.  With focus, energies can be shifted to move help the greater parts of the universe help us to help ourselves.

When I wrote Sonja in Burning For Derrick as a witch who sings in a death metal band, I gave her the ability whiskeyto manipulate her audience through the power of her voice.

I established a light scene before her band opens up whereby a bottle of wine shatters on stage, in the darkness, then reassembles itself before disappearing.  The trick helps Sonja focus her energies on the excitement of the crowd and be a better performer.  Do you have a favorite ritual you do often?

Look out for Burning for Derrick, coming soon from Ardent Books!

Can you smoke high quality cigars on a budget?

With all the talk of economics and jobs, cigar smokers simply want to find gems on a budget.  After all, our passions shouldn’t suffer just because of bad times, should they? I’ve always stood by the premise of a good smoke is a great experience, no matter the cost, but my tastes as evidenced by this blog have showcased a personal demand for higher priced cigars. 

Quality doesn’t always justify the higher cost, but so far my experiences have been positive.  That being said, I’ve never found problems smoking inexpensive hand rolled premium cigars, because the overall experience has been wonderful.

With the average cost of a cigar in your traditional Brick and Mortar being between $7-$10, we and the difference in online vs  BM prices, we figured we’d aim a little lower for the budget conscious, because I refuse to sacrifice flavor for price.  In short, I won’t smoke tasteless, inexpensive cigars just because I’m on a budget.

A few of the cigars on this list bring the flavor, along with great construction while not being average blends from the multitude of companies out there who make cigars. In short, according to my taste, they’re all winners.PInar Del Rio 1878 Reserva Capa Oscuro

First up, Pinar Del Rio – 1878 Reserva Dominica Capa Oscuro.  A solid cigar with excellent construction and two types of corjoo filler  to provide a spicy experience followed by nutty notes.  Leather on the palate followed by creamy, medium finish

large_brickhouse-toro-single-prod-shotNext  up, BrickHouse – I’m a fan of the toro here, but also the Mighty Mighty Maduro.  Neither cigar is extremely complex, but they’re solid flavors.  Leather and cedar on the Toro with a medium to full finish while the Mighty Mighty boasts coffee and cocoa flavors.  This is actually an old blend from JC Newman Cigars, makers of Diamond Crown.

If you want a real treat, you can look hard enough online and find a vendor who sells Alec Bradley Seconds in either the Tempus or the award winning Prensado blends.  I’ve smoked way too many of both and they’re just as good as the firsts, same draw, same excellent construction, but you’re paying around $2.50 a bundle with no fancy box or band, rather than $9 or more online or in the BM.

Bahia Icon – was a solid blend I had a box of recently.  Full flavor, Bahia Iconplenty of leather and peppery spice with a medium to full finish, the Gran Robusto will give you a good, solid hour of cigar break downtime without disappointing on flavor or putting a major dent in your budget.

Oh, it just dawned on me because I’ve smoked both of these cigars out of samplers and enjoyed them. Alec Bradley American Classic and American Classic Sungrown.  Both cigars come in at under $5 a cigar. The original American Classic features mellow leather and spice notes while the Sungrown is a good expression of sungrown wrappers.

Nothing in this list is overly complicated, but will deliver an experience cigar smokers enjoy.  Downtime, a great conversation starter, or something to pair with your favorite libation while you relax in a passion shared by many others.  What’s on your budget friendly list?

The characters in my upcoming paranormal romance Burning for Derrick are also avid cigar aficionados, often filling their humidors with expensive stick and inexpensive gems alike.   Look for Burning for Derrick coming from Ardent Books soon!

Strength – Trends in Cigar Smoking

Have you noticed more and more cigar makers are adding or expanding their lines to produce stronger cigars?  Not just in nicotine content but flavor?

The market’s demands are changing and from what I’ve been seeing over the last fifteen years of being a cigar smoker is that the customer seems to be demanding bolder flavors, more power and strength which leads to a new challenge for makers.

I’ve been watching the makers of more mild blends like Davidoff and Davidoff NicaraguaMacanudo bring out more intense lines.  Davidoff with their Nicaragua Puro, Macanudo making their mark with a bolder  extension also.

Punch did something about three to four years back by introducing the Uppercut, a spicy white pepper bomb that left me wondering if I’d been drinking after I’d finished my cigar.  Incidentally, I had been drinking herbal tea at the time, but wow was that cigar a kicker.  Yes, other flavors were present but the white pepper hit first.

Joya De Nicaragua initially had one of the strongest cigars on the market, the Antaño 1970, then followed it up with the Dark JdN Dark CorojoCorojo Antaño.  Both were really tasty but I had to be in the mood for the original, and having smoked too many too close together of the Corojo, I made myself sick from too much nicotine one evening.

I remember my first really strong cigar about twelve years ago.  The Rocky Patel Edge. It came in natural and maduro and both cigars were very well priced at the time though it became tough to tell the difference between the maduro and the natural because both had seriously dark wrappers.  I smoked one of those the entire day and I was done, or I could smoke two of something else and be fine.  Yes, a lot of flavor but what a powerhouse cigar it was back in the day.  For me, Mr. Patel set off a trend that we didn’t see gaining momentum until about six years ago when companies like La Flor Dominicana and Joya De Nicaragua started coming out with stronger cigars.

Let’s be honest, the new trend has brought a lot of gems with it, but so will any trend in most industries.  The emergence of so many new boutique cigar makers like Tatuaje and Illusione have spurred the bigger boys like Altadis and Swedish Match to develop unique cigars to hold the public’s interest.  That’s another article though.

Overall, I do enjoy the trend in strength and the higher reaching heights cigar makers are heading toward to create something unique for our palates, but what do you think?  Can the strength be too much?

The characters in my upcoming paranormal romance BurningMax_in_Laris_400x400 for Derrick are also avid cigar aficionados, often filling their humidors with expensive stick and inexpensive gems alike.   Look for Burning for Derrick coming from Ardent Books soon!

The New Cigar Smoker Experience

The first introduction I had to cigars was back in 1998 in college while I was drinking with friends of my parents.  My neighbor brought out a cigar and we shared it while he taught me the finer points of smoking cigars.  They’re meant to be enjoyed, meant to be taken slowly and only smoke them when you have time.  No walking or doing things while smoking cigars, he said.cuesta_rey_centenario_maduro_cigars

That first cigar was my introduction to a world of relaxation and experience unlike anything I could have repeated at the age of 18.  I thought about it from time to time, reflecting on sitting around the front yard and with a cooler full of beer while we listened to old country and blues.   The feelings I’d had begun to develop at the time were counter to my fast paced college behavior but right in line with my philosophy on how life should be lived, according to images I’d seen in Wine Spectator magazine.  Understand I’m barely eighteen at this time, but living a rich, lavish life on low income and being in college didn’t exactly mesh.  But from time to time I made the effort to visit The Smoke Ring, in Clear Lake, TX and pick up a cigar or two until the habit became a hobby.

The first cigar that truly captured more than just ritual attention was the Cuesta Rey #60, a short dark torpedo that, for the first time in my life, exploded with flavor across my tongue.  I’d done some research and began to learn the distinctive properties of a cigar, from construction to flavor profile, country of origin and all the things newbie cigar smokers shouldn’t concern themselves with until they’ve established this as a hobby.  I’d immersed myself in the lifestyle, using cigars as a way to relax once a week, always the same day at the end of my work day, much to my ex’s initial chagrin, until she’d accepted it and even my father (who smoked three packs a day) had finally caved as this became a powerful ritual whereby I went outside with my beverage of choice and carefully clipped the cap off the cigar, toasted the foot, sat back in my chair and took that first draw, bringing a myriad of flavors across my inexperienced tongue.

Padron 1964 AnniversarioThe second cigar I remember making an impression on my palate was much more robust.  Padron, probably the only 6000 of theirs I’ve ever smoked. (I prefer the 4000 or if time permits, the 7000.) I had smoked that particular cigar one night while drinking cognac.  We stayed up late and while the cognac was smooth, the cigar was strong for me at the time.

I’d gone from cigar to cigar, picking up mostly larger brands put out by Altadis or General at the time, staying loyal to them because I didn’t know better about the industry, not thinking it was like any other where there are giants that put out good products but tinier boutiques who are far better because of limited (cough) release or supply.  Padron being one of them.

Fast forward several years later and I’d become a Padron junkie.  I’d developed a far better palate and my smoking experience transformed into something almost zen like as I’d come into Grants Tobacconist once a week at least, pick out two Padron 4000s and sit down with the regulars there, BS for a few hours and smoke both cigars.

My first foray into boutique was Tatuaje.  I’d picked up on a suggestion by my tobacconist, La Riqueza,  The #2 to be exact, because it offered about an hour or so of smoking time and a distinct definitely NOT Padron like experience.  Then I knew I was hooked on trying different things.

If I were to suggest a few cigars everyone starting out should try, the list of top three would be simple:

1. Tatuaje 7th Reserva – This is THE cigar that got me smoking smaller vitolas.  Plenty of flavor on each draw, consistency with every stick Tatuaje 7th Reservaand rich flavors of coffee and savory spices I can still taste though it’s been six months since my last one.

 

2. Don Cervantes Tres Maduro – Yes, this over the Camacho Triple

Tres Maduro by Don Cervantes Cigars: www.acc.ec

Tres Maduro by Don Cervantes Cigars: http://www.acc.ec

Maduro because my palate enjoys the complexity of cocoa and dark chocolate along with the sweet smell of the smoke as it burns evenly.  I did a full review of this cigar and that can be found here.

3: C4 by Viaje – These are fairly easy to find in shops that carry the Viaje line but honestly, the cigars smoke like a steak dinner so make sure you eat.  Full flavor, with enough complexity for experienced

cigar connoisseurs to pick up the subtle notes while newbie cigar smokers can enjoy the tastes across the palate.

The characters in my upcoming paranormal romance Burning for Derrick are also avid cigar aficionados, often filling their humidors with expensive stick and inexpensive gems alike.  What would you suggest new smokers try?  Look for Burning for Derrick coming from Ardent Books soon!