Icy touch of winter

Portland doesn’t do much official winter, but we had a little bit last night and this morning, just enough to frost and quiet our world.

Happy winter!


Red berries on heavenly bamboo; icicles under lichens; dogwood buds slumbering; crystal droplets on last year’s asparagus; mugo pines snow cup; frosted Monster Girl!

An ARC of a Spark from Michele Fogal

[Note from Jessa: The noise to signal ratio for new books is, er, challenging to rise above. Author LOVE readers to share in the signal! So here’s a way to get involved with a maybe new-to-you author and help spread the words!]

amok monday guest authors

Hello fellow story gobblers,

Hot off the Presses!
I have just created an Advance Review Copy (ARC) of my 3rd published novel, Root of the Spark. Book 1 in my Wild Seed series, it’s a science fiction novel with a strong love story and LGBT elements, and it’s being published by Loose Id, Nov 22, 2016.
I’m hoping to generate reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. Logging in to either of those sites and rating a book really helps an author build street cred. Even a single sentence review counts towards my numbers. Feel free to forward this invite to friends who like a novel with a large dollop of spicy diversity.
The ARC ebook is a copy of the manuscript prior to final proofing, thus there could be small changes in the final. I have it available in mobi, epub and pdf formats, so if you’d like to read it, please let me know what you need.
The Launch
If you’d like to get notified about this launch and my other upcoming books, please join my newsletter here: michelefogal.com/newsletter/ News emails will be brief and infrequent.
Thanks for your support! I’m looking forward to sharing this quirky tale.

Root of the Spark – Blurb

Dell has an unexpected spark that masculine and feminine energies create when swirled and fused inside a single person. But will this be enough to stop the age-old tide of fear and violence as it rises again?

Born in the midst of the oldest human war, the war of the sexes, Dell is the first true hermaphrodite on the planet of Ameliaura. Dell has used the anonymity of the Fatherlander cities to survive, and the tight community of the Motherlander villages to manage, but reaching maturity means that neither of those are enough to thrive on anymore. After a vicious attack, and an unexpected love interest, Dell must step into the light to fight for a real home.

Warning: this book contains a child who is actually an ancient dragon made of fungus, a lovely villain imprisoned inside the creature’s body, a hasty clan gathering in the collective subconscious, a hermaphrodite orphanage on the brink, and some very naughty acts on a staircase.

Title: Root of the Spark (Wild Seed #1)
Author: Michele Fogal
Genre: Science Fiction, Romance, LGBT
Length: 88,000 words (Novel)
Publisher: Loose Id
Release Date: Nov 22, 2016

Excerpt: Root of the Spark

I was huffing and slugging the walls until I fell to my knees, and then I figured it was just as good to beat the hell out of the floor since it was all clearly the same shit. Its body. The whole thing was its lord-forgotten body. With me just like a tiny maggot inside a fart bubble in its gut. I started to shake.

It could probably turn this whole room into that harder stuff if it wanted. It could probably collapse the walls and crush me just like the bug I was. I put something extra into the next wallop I laid onto the floor when I thought of that.

“Come on, you son of a whore! Just get it over with. Come and crush me up like a worm. I’d rather die now than sit here waiting for whatever your sick, fat brain is thinking up for me.”

I flopped out flat and rolled to look at the ceiling. There it was, glowing away like its own little sun was in behind a thin blanket of that stuff. What could I possibly do that would make the hugest beast sit up and pay me any kind of notice? Even if I’d had a knife or a sword, what good would that have done? A shock stick would have barely tickled that thing’s tonsils.

It was time to man up to the fact that not only was I in the plink with no real date for getting out, not only was there no way out, but I was nothing. I had nothing to fight with, no strength worth a wit in here. I cried then, like a baby. Or rather, like a toddler. Any man that’s had kids of his own knows that no baby ever did crying the justice that a two-year-old can.

I gave in and let it roll outta me, snot and sobs and all. The red-hot shame of it was something terrible. I was nothing, and this thing that held me, it was seeing all of this and would now know not just how weak I was—which, when you think about it, Acorn must have known before I was even in here—but that I knew how weak I was and couldn’t keep myself from admitting it.

How long had it taken to break me? A few hours? It was pathetic how weak I was, the toughest of the hard-working guys. I was terrified in a way I hadn’t felt in a long time. No booze, no people. I had to have one or the other. To be alone with myself was just not…safe.

Michele Fogal
Love stories of the quirky and diverse
Author Site & Blog: www.michelefogal.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/michelefogal

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Story sweeps up the dust of our lives, moistens it with breath, and grows food for the soul.

Jessa Slade & Elsa Jade are crossing streams!

I’ve been quiet lately, had my head down writing as my alter ego Elsa Jade, and now I’m coming up to breathe and shout with glee about my/her/our new storyworld!


Intergalactic Dating Agency
7 Authors ~ 21 Stories ~ 1 Universe of Alien Loving!
Big Sky Alien Mail Order Brides

How fun is that?! Elsa Jade’s first book in the Big Sky Alien Mail Order Brides series is ALPHA STAR and it’s out among the stars NOW.


Amazon  |  iBooks  |  Kobo  |  Google  |  Barnes&Noble

Sinclarion Fifth-Moon Jax will be lord of his own solar system, but he can’t claim the homeworld until he takes a bride. He needs the right mate to win his mating rings, but choosing one female from among the neighboring systems while slighting the others could start an interstellar incident—and this ex-mercenary starship captain has finally had enough of war. Where in the universe can a runaway cyborg prince find a naïve female willing to risk her life on the dangerous frontiers of space?

Big Sky Country has a big secret…
Intergalactic Dating Agency
Big Sky Alien Mail Order Brides
#1 ~ Alpha Star available now!
#2 ~ Red Shift coming in October
#3 ~ Dark Matter coming in November

See all the IDA stories at RomancingTheAlien.com
And join the Facebook group for all the latest news and releases.

Off we go!

Birthday hike: Indian Heaven Wilderness

IMG_4290 (2)It was my birthday! XY got me an entire mint ice cream cake! Of course I shared — don’t let Monster Girl’s long-suffering expression fool you.

And since one does not simple eat an entire mint ice cream cake without walking it off, we decided to go for a quick weekend camping trip up to the Indian Heaven Wilderness in Washington.

It was an easy Friday afternoon drive from Portland east to the Bridge of the Gods and across to Washington and up to the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

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We stayed at the Cultus Creek Campground which let us get an early start on the hike. The trail was steep — I’m a wimp — but at a mile in we got this beautiful view of Mt. Adams. We tried to guess how far away it was but due to a GPS failure had to wait until we got home to check: 17 miles approx. So…a hike for another day?

IMG_4296 (2) The mosquitoes and flies were troublesome in areas, which kept us on the move, but it was perfect hiking temps: warm in the sun, cool in the shade, with a bit of a breeze.

Monster Girl practiced her noble rescue dog impersonation.

She and I posed for a glamour shot near a heathery meadow just before Cultus Lake. Fabulous wilderness hair by 100% DEET!

IMG_4330 (2)(JK. Beauty bloggers never tell you all their secrets, but that ends now! It was only 98% DEET plus lemon eucalyptus essential oil bug spray.

If you arrive at this post because you are thinking of doing this hike in July, don’t bother with that wimpy all-natural stuff. Live a good life the rest of the time and save your chemical exposure for important moments like July in Mosquito Heaven Wilderness. /PSA)

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There were lots of glamour shots from summer flowers, including heather, Indian paintbrush/prairie fire flowers, cinquefoil, blooming bear/basket grass, and (not pictured) aster, lupine, columbine, and avalanche lily (how evocative is that name?).

IMG_4416 (2)IMG_4378 (2)The trail climbed, sometimes steadily, sometimes steeply, but always up through alternating habitats of forest and meadow.

Since we got such an early start (and the bugs were too insistent to let us stop) we continued past Cultus Lake toward Lake Wapiki.

IMG_4387 (2)The Lake Wapiki overlook offered another dramatic view of Mt. Adams. As if to distract us from upcoming the sudden, severe elevation loss. After 3+ miles of elevation gain, I swear we lost all of it in 1+ mile down to Lake Wapiki. If whoever blazed that trail is reading this: that was not a good birthday present.

IMG_4404 (2)With slightly worse-for-wear hair, here I am on the shore of Lake Wapiki. See that brown cinder line in the upper left corner of the photo? That is the lake overlook, where we were standing in the photo above. A long. way. down.

And then — cosmic balance being what it is — a long. way. back. up.

Longer, actually. Not sure how that works. Thanks a lot, cosmic balance.

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Me, sucking wind, not even close to regaining that lost elevation. There is a metaphor for birthdays in there somewhere.IMG_4418 (2)

See that little curve of lake to the left? That is where I was standing when I took the photo above. I’ll never get those aching footsteps back!

IMG_4425 (2)All that climbing and dropping meant that even though the mint ice cream cake wasn’t able to accompany us on our camping trip due to not having a freezer in the car, we were able to justify a yummy camp stew of onions, garden peppers, farmers market tomatoes (garden tomatoes aren’t ripe yet), and chorizo.

IMG_4432 (2)Normally when we camp, we’re out later in the year when fire restrictions are in effect. But fire danger was low in this area and we were staying in a real campground with a fire ring, so we powered up a smoky fire to combat the bugs.

Luckily whoever had the spot before us left a bunch of wood. Worked great.

But since you can’t sleep in a smoky fire…IMG_4429 (2)It’s kind of like a birthday princess bed but the netting serves a very real purpose.

IMG_4433 (2)After dinner we all settled down to a well-deserved sleep.

Except of course I had to wake up in the middle of the cold, cold night to pee. But I saw something glowing in the darkness and discovered in the old firewood some bioluminescent lichens (?).

IMG_4435 (2)No good night photos, but I took some in the daylight. I returned those chunks to the forest so the next campers can wonder what’s glowing out in the darkness.

After seeing probably a dozen different views of Mt. Adams and other peaks, our drive out the next morning was a reminder to get back to work. The clouds rolled in and hide the mountain, and now I’m back at my computer.IMG_4437 (2)

Still got some mint ice cream cake left over though.🙂

snowball (2)

Where there is snow, XY will throw a snowball. Blurring due to running away.