jana_denardo: (kept tears)
A is for Absence. In this case, the absence of my Sunday Small Talks as I take part in the A to Z blogging challenge, where in you write for 26 days (taking Sundays off) and each post naturally reflects a letter of the alphabet. Oh I suppose I could go rogue and post on Sundays too, and just not make it part of the challenge but to be honest, about all I would have said in the Sunday posts were a) I’m still doing Camp Nano and b) I’m editing Conned. It wouldn’t be riveting blogging anyhow. I do plan on going a little rogue and keeping Rainbow Snippets as a separate posting thing not part of the challenge.

For the challenge I plan on talking about writing, things I’ve written, characters, places in the various stories and all that sort of thing. I hope it’ll be interesting. There might even be pictures. It might even be coherent (but some days I don’t promise even that).

A is also for Aaron, the main character in my first novel Kept Tears. Aaron is an upper arm amputee from the war in Afghanistan. He was using the Army to hopefully pay for medical school and got called up as a medic. He came home without his arm below the elbow and barely retained his leg. The story opens after he’s been home for a few years, been through tons of physical therapy and is at the University of Pittsburgh resuming his studies.

I’d wanted to do a character like Aaron for years. I did my medical residency at various VA hospitals and wanted to represent disabled veterans in at least one of my novels. Threaded through the novel are real projects to help veterans (if one was in the mood to support those charities, like Project Wolfhound and Wounded Warrior, though that one took a hit from some less than honest CEOs). I also gave Aaron something that didn’t yet exist when I was seeing patients in the VA, a functional prosthetic for the upper limb hooked into the nervous system (just like automail in one of my favorite anime/manga of all time, Fullmetal Alchemist). I had a lot of fun with Aaron and would love to revisit his world.

If you’d like to see Aaron’s world, you can check out the novel Kept Tears here.

And this is what I had in mind for his upper limb prosthesis though this video is from after I wrote Kept Tears and shows more information than was available to the public at the time. (Aaron wouldn’t have it all the way to the shoulder as he has that part of his arm)

This would be closer to Aaron’s prosthesis

As a doctor, I can’t tell you just how amazed and delighted I am in how fast this technology is growing. Until just a few years ago upper limb prostheses weren’t particularly functional.

Also on Saturdays expect a link to my other weekend challenge, Rainbow Snippets. You can see a snippet of my work every Saturday and this week’s can be found here. It’s set where I live this week, in SE Ohio.

 photo A2Z-BADGE-100 2017_zpsbwg03vlp.jpg
jana_denardo: (kept tears)
I'm obviously already very excited about the release of my urban fantasy novel, Kept Tears and nervous. Well today a friend drew a little piece of fan art for Aaron and Rhys. I can't express my gratitude and joy loudly enough. Thank you so much [livejournal.com profile] seta_suzume. This is wonderful.

She graciously allowed me to share it all with you as well. Here they are. Aren't they adorable?  photo aaronrhysbyseta_zpsbebc60f2.jpg

Thank you.

And while I'm here, let me share a little more music for Aaron and Rhys's universe just because.

I thought this was a good song for Aaron in some ways even before I saw the video and how her arm turns robotic.

I can see Rhys and Corinne dedicating this one to Aaron. It's one I need to remember for myself.

I had another one in mind but I am Dorrie the Fish some days so have this one. It might have been the one I wanted and if not, it's still excellent.
jana_denardo: (kept tears)
Aaron and Rhys meet at a steampunk party. Rhys is a noob but Aaron is pretty well into it, along with his friend, Corinne and her boyfriend. He finds the cosplay anxiety-relieving. His self image has been in the dumps since he was injured in Afghanistan but when he gets dressed up in his steam punk garb he feels a little better about himself.

I picture his outfit a little like this something along these lines though the jacket is probably less tails and more more like this Edwardian one

A little excerpt from the beginning to illustrate my point.

Easing his topcoat over his prosthetic arm, decked out to look like it ran on steam and gears, Aaron glanced into his mirror and felt handsome again. Ever since the war had taken his arm, he felt ugly until he got into character. He went to his favorite club, where they had monthly steampunk events. In his steampunk garb, he was like a wildly colored creature emerging from its chrysalis.

Even the miasma of fog rolling off the river didn’t dampen Aaron’s spirits as he went into Steel Spirits, a club that hosted a steampunk evening once a week. It was a step back into a time that had never existed. Scanning the bar with its low light levels, Aaron spotted men in topcoats and Victorian adventuring gear. Women swept by in bustles and ruffles, hats decorated with flowers, birds and gears perched merrily on their curls.

Aaron checked his pocket watch and sighed when he realized he was early. It would be a while before his friends arrived. By some karmic synchronicity, Aaron spotted one of the hottest men he’d seen in, well, ever. Shoulder-length honey-gold hair framed his pale face. The graceful bow of his lips drew Aaron’s gaze. The man’s costume was simple: some sort of mad scientist. The stranger might not be gay. That didn’t mean they couldn’t be friends. For that matter, there hadn’t been any lovers since he returned to the States. He barely had any friends left in his life. Either they had moved since college, or they didn’t know how to handle everything he’d had to deal with since the war.

And I always love sharing the music for my books and while music plays a bit of a lesser role in Kept Tears it is in the first scene, especially Abney Park so here are a few of my favorites

This is the one I imagine for the opening scene. Airship Pirates

I am Stretched on Your Grave is poignant

She Last Exile is interesting and I can see Aaron enjoying it.

And Lacuna Coil was being played as Aaron enters the club. This one works on several levels, Trip the Darknes

find the ebook here
jana_denardo: (kept tears)
You can find me at Michael Rupured's blog today talking about why I chose to make Aaron (points to the dark-haired man in the icon) a disabled veteran. Also go enjoy other posts by Michael. You'll find other fun things to read, too.

I don't want to repeat myself here so let me add a few things that I didn't to that post. Aaron suffered an explosive transhumeral amputation of his left arm. In lay man's terms, his arm was blown off mid-way between shoulder and elbow during his time as a medic in the war.

I wanted to share some of the videos that I used in my research. They are fascinating stuff.

This, the oldest of the videos, is the one I based Aaron's prosthesis on.

This one is in line with Paul's art (though it seems to also rely on using electrodes worked by the feet).

This one got me looking at the University of Pittsburgh and inspired Aaron's current field of study (granted not on the surgical side of it).

and one of the more recent ones, they're learning to allow these prostheses "feel" and I can't imagine anything more amazing.

I hope this glimpse into Aaron's world was as interesting to you as it is to me. If you want to see other posts in this series, click on the Kept Tears tag.

find the ebook here
jana_denardo: (kept tears)
In many ways, Kept Tears is the most date-filled story I’ve written, and apparently, for me, dates revolve around something historical or geeky to do then food. Lots of fun food, and Pittsburgh is turning into something of a foodie’s city. I could have filled the novel with some of the most adventuresome places, but that wouldn’t have been true to Aaron’s character. As a struggling grad student, he’s more reserved with his food budget.

That said, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t have fun with it. In many ways, he’s leading the food parade, since Rhys is a newcomer to the city. Personally, I grew up within twenty-five miles of downtown Pittsburgh, and in spite of all my traveling, the city is a place I love returning to. There was one thing I didn’t want to do with Kept Tears; I didn’t want to invent places to eat or visit as part of these dates. I wanted to let the local culture shine. Yes, there are a couple of made up places, but most are real and waiting for your visit.

In my first post about Aaron and Rhys’s time together, I mentioned The Church Brew Works, which I’d love to see continue to thrive and grow. This time, I want to talk about another destination that really needs no help from me to promote itself. Every time I’ve used The Primanti Brothers in a story, complete strangers have popped in to give it a shout out. It’s iconic in Pittsburgh (and beyond), and for good reason: good food and good prices.

There is one in Oakland, making it very convenient for Aaron as a Pitt student. More importantly, this would have been the type of thing he would have dreamed about during the war, just one more time of getting that taste of home. Aaron gladly introduced Rhys to the Primanti Bros. Who could resist a sandwich stacked high with goodies, then topped with coleslaw and fries? It’s often imitated, but whenever I see it, it’s always a shadow of Primanti’s fare. Go ahead and click that above link and check out the sandwiches.

Aaron loves the Pitts-Burgher and the kielbasa and cheese. (Personally I go for the sirloin tip, turkey, or pastrami). Rhys was no doubt overwhelmed at first, but couldn’t resist the Smallman Street fries (nothing like a heart attack in a dish).

As this will also be at Rick Reed’s Dinner at Home, he had suggested perhaps a food/wine pairing. However, Aaron is far more a beer man, so it would hardly surprise people if I said, this food all goes well with Iron City. Here’s the catch (and I might have to turn in my Pittsburgher pin), I don’t actually like Iron City. I am a fan of another Pittsburgh Brewery (other than the aforementioned Church Works, which makes a nice local craft beer). Aaron would recommend Penn’s Dark from Penn’s Brewery. While the Penn brewery didn’t make it into this novel (alas, maybe next time), it would be the perfect pairing for a take-home sandwich from Primanti’s.

A quick excerpt of Aaron’s and Rhys’s trip to Primanti’s (they’re working out in the gym before they go). It is short since, unfortunately, this trip also reveals some big secrets that are best not given away here.
I’ve learned to compensate. I’ve had a couple years of practice now. I’m still luckier than some guys. I only lost one arm and the leg is messed up, but not as bad as it could have been. Some came home with no limbs.”
“Or not at all.” Pain flashed across Rhys’s face, and Aaron knew it was mirrored in his own.
The conversation died as Aaron worked on his good arm. Afterwards, they hit the shower. It was hard not to watch Rhys as water sluiced down over him. They hadn’t done the shower thing yet. Aaron figured anything more than kissing under the showerhead would be too slick and dangerous for him. However, watching in public was just a bad idea.
“Want to head over to Primanti’s if you have time?” Rhys asked as they were dressing.
“I don’t have class until later. I won’t be able to get their Pitts-Burgher Cheese Steak out of my mind now that you brought it up,” Aaron replied, struggling into his jeans.
“Sandwiches with fries and coleslaw on them it is.”

And here are a couple things I could see Aaron making for Rhys (or with Rhys’s help more likely). Aaron is still learning to use his prosthetic arm, and isn’t that comfortable in the kitchen yet. When he is, I could see him making these for him and Rhys. Both recipes are from my Italian grandmothers

Stracciatella soup )


Bagna Cauda Pasta )

It was a blast getting to talk about the setting of Kept Tears and I hope I intrigued you to see more. Thanks to Rick Reed for sharing this as well. Do check out his cooking blog!

Blurb - Having left most of his arm and his self-confidence behind in the Afghanistan desert, young veteran Aaron Santori has enough on his plate learning to use his prosthetic arm. Attending graduate school at the University of Pittsburgh makes life both interesting and challenging. Mentally, he's ill prepared for meeting Rhys Edwards, a young-adult novelist from Wales and everything Aaron could want in a man. Between the scars from the explosion and his PTSD, he’s reluctant to date. Ready or not, though, Aaron finds himself jumping into the deep end of the relationship waters.

What Aaron couldn’t possibly know is that Rhys isn’t human at all. As a prince of the Tylwyth Teg, Rhys is fae, with a list of enemies he’s accumulated over the past few centuries—among them a former lover, Morcant, who is back to make Rhys’s life miserable. An unwitting pawn in their Machiavellian fae politics, Aaron only knows he’s falling in love, never suspecting love might be his death sentence.

Buy it here - Ebook

Paperback - Paperback
jana_denardo: (darkest midnight)
With my novel coming out in about a month give or take, I thought it would be nice to see the universe Kept Tears is set in. It's an urban fantasy that really differs almost not at all from our actual reality. What most of the world doesn't know is that the world shares a dimensional boundary with the faerie realm. Belief in the Kindly Ones has long since died away and the main character, Aaron only knows about elves and whatnot from the writings of J.R.R. Tolkein and other fantasy authors.

Aaron's world is what most Pittsburghers would know. It isn't until much later that reality gets stood on its ear, which is really the last thing Aaron needs. He's had enough of that being a medic in Afghanistan where he lost his arm. Many surgeries later he's dealing with a prosthesis (Hmm, that could make for another interesting post) and not at all sure he's ready to begin dating again. That is until he meets a Welsh author, Rhys, at a Steampunk party.

On their first official date, they head here to eat. The Church Brew Works. One of the joys I had in writing this novel was weaving some of my hometown culture into it. (Okay, technically I grew up about 25 miles outside of the city but I could be downtown in a half hour to an hour depending on the traffic down Green Tree hill and through the Fort Pitt Tunnel. I picture Aaron growing up where I did.) I'm big on shopping locally and helping out the non-chain restaurants so I did put a few of them into this story.

Some people might object to a former Catholic church, St. John the Baptist, being repurposed into a brew pub, but I think it's wonderful an old and abandoned building has been given a new life (You can find its history at the website). When I thought about where I'd like to take them after they were done in the museum, this jumped out at me. Yes, it was a pain to get to from where they were (It's not far mind you, but if you've ever been in Pittsburgh, you know you can't get anywhere easily with those three rivers, bridges and one-way streets).

I can vouch for the food. The Yinzer cheese steak was a knock out and since it's a brew pub, you're there for the beer. (I got one free for my birthday this year). The guys go for a Pious Monk Dunkel, delicious. I hope to drop by when I go home for the holidays and see what they have new. Lawrenceville is much reclaimed and safer now than when I was growing up. This brew pub is only a short distance from the famous Strip District.

So if you're in the Pittsburgh area and are looking for something a little different give this place a try (and swing past the Pennsylvania Macaroni Co and pick me up some dry abruzze salami and some olives). Hope you enjoyed this little peek in to Aaron's world.


Jun. 30th, 2013 09:07 pm
jana_denardo: (darkest midnight)
I'm over the moon. Dreamspinner has sent me a contract for my urban fantasy novel Kept Tears. This is my first novel sale so I'm greatly excited. I love these two men and I hope others will, too. Here's part of the cover letter to give you an idea what it's about, if you didn't see past posts.

Aaron, a young veteran, has enough on his plate just trying to learning to use his prosthetic arm while attending graduate school at the University of Pittsburgh. He’s mentally ill-prepared for meeting Rhys, one of the most intriguing men he’s ever seen. Ready or not, in Kept Tears, Aaron finds himself jumping in the deep end of the relationship waters.

What Aaron couldn’t possibly begin to guess at is that Rhys isn’t human at all. As a prince of the Tylwyth Teg, Rhys is a fae with a whole list of enemies accumulated over the past few centuries. Among them is a former lover, Morcant, who is back to make Rhys’s life miserable. As Morcant takes on human form, a student named Kyle, he tries to steal Aaron away from Rhys. An unwitting pawn in their Machiavellian fae politics, Aaron only knows he’s falling in love. He never suspects that love might just be his death sentence.

I'm going to go do a little dance.


jana_denardo: (Default)

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