July 10, 2015
Hi, all! Roan Parrish here, visiting the blog because my debut novel, In the Middle of Somewhere, is coming out today!
In the Middle of Somewhere is a contemporary romance, featuring a scrappy professor, an intense carpenter, and a stray dog. Daniel Mulligan is tough, snarky, and tattooed, hiding his self-consciousness behind sarcasm. Daniel has never fit in—not at home with his auto mechanic father and brothers, and not at school where his Ivy League classmates look down on him. Now, Daniel’s relieved to have a job at a small college in Northern Michigan, but, a city boy through and through, when Daniel arrives in Holiday, Michigan, it’s clear that this small town is one more place he just won’t fit in.
Rex Vale clings to routine to keep loneliness at bay: honing his large, muscular body until it can handle anything, perfecting his recipes, and making custom furniture. Rex has lived in Holiday for years, but his shyness and imposing size have kept him from connecting with people. Though he loves the quiet and solitude of his little cabin in the woods, Rex can’t help but want someone to share it with.
When Daniel arrives in Holiday, they are smitten with each other, but though the sex is intense and explosive, Rex fears that Daniel will be one more in a long line of people to leave him, and Daniel has learned that letting anyone in could be a fatal weakness. Just as they begin to break down the walls that have been keeping them apart, Daniel is called home to Philadelphia where a secret is revealed that changes the way he understands everything.
In the Middle of Somewhere came about rather by accident while I was working on another project entirely. I was visiting my dear friend A in Phoenix, and we were talking in her kitchen while we put together an elaborate cheese plate—talking about books in general, talking about M/M in particular; talking about various real life annoyances, dissatisfactions, and desires. The usual. A said that she wished someone would write a romance about someone in her situation: having recently moved to a brand new place to take an academic job and having a tough time adjusting. Never one to let dissatisfaction fester when there’s cheese to eat, I blurted: “I’ll write one for you!”
On the plane ride home to Philly the next day, I wrote a little story and emailed it to A. It was about Daniel, who was just finishing his Ph.D. in Philadelphia, and has to totally turn his life upside-down when he moves to small-town Michigan for his first teaching job, but ends up meeting the love of his life there. I assumed that, my duty dispatched, I’d go back to the grim urban horror story of capitalism I was working on. Except that A wrote back, “Send me MORE!!!” So I did. That story was the first chapter of what became In the Middle of Somewhere and I just kept sending her more.
As an ex-academic who worked for years on a book that only about five people in the whole world ever read, knowing that there was someone on the other side of those emails who was reading what I was writing and actually enjoying it was like a drug. After I’d written five or six chapters it stopped feeling like something I was writing just for fun. The characters started to feel real so I knew I couldn’t abandon them in the middle of the story. That is, I started thinking of it as a real book. Then as a series.
And that’s what I’m working on now: the second book in the In the Middle of Somewhere series! It features a new couple, who you’ll meet in book one, but Rex and Daniel definitely make an appearance. The second book is a bit darker, so that’s been a nice change (what can I tell you; I’m moody). I’m also having a smashing time working on a brand new project. It’s a series of novellas set in 19th century New York City, each of which revolves around one of Edgar Allan Poe’s detective stories. What do you get when you combine a very practical detective, an eccentric Poe enthusiast, and a copycat killer who may or not operate in a supernatural realm? Intrigue, horror, and a whole lot of heat. More nerdiness and ratiocination coming your way soon!
Thanks for hanging out today, everyone! I have two copies of In the Middle of Somewhere to give away. So: our hero, Daniel, has a lot of tattoos (with a tattoo artist for a best friend it’s kind of to be expected). To win an e-book of In the Middle of Somewhere, tell me your best tattoo story in the comments. If you have tattoos, you could tell me the story behind your favorite one; if not, tell me about the best (or worst!) tattoo you’ve seen. Have you always wanted a tattoo but never gotten one? Tell me what it would take to make you take the plunge. Extra credit (can you tell I used to teach?) if your story includes getting a tattoo for love. Spill all your inky tales in the comments for a chance to win!
Find In the Middle of Somewhere on:
July 8, 2015
Immutable isn’t just my first none HEA story, and my first non-anthology story with Dreamspinner Press, it’s a first in lots of ways. It’s my first ever fantasy story. I’ve done a zombie novel before now, called Patient Z, but they were very much science fiction zombies. It’s my first shifter story. It’s my first set in a historical fantasy setting. It’s not quite my first story in First Person point of view, but it’s the first of those longer than a short story that I’ve sold. So because of all of those firsts I’m just dying to see what people make of it.
Here’s an excerpt from chapter 1, to see what you make of it! Keep going and at the end there’ll be a chance to enter to win a copy.
The wind was cold that morning I found him. I remember. I’d come down to the beach when the sky was barely light. Fine rain misted my hair and clothes as I scrambled down the cliff path onto the sand.
I carried a basket on my back and began filling it with driftwood as I walked. Driftwood burns with a strange blue flame, but there were so few trees on the island it was the only type of wood we ever had to burn. Those who could afford it bought coal shipped over from the mainland. Me, I pick up the sea coal that washes ashore from the coal seams exposed under the water. I always pounced on a piece of that when I saw it, as if it were a diamond. Winter wasn’t far away. Ma wouldn’t make it through the winter if I didn’t keep the cottage warm enough.
I threw those thoughts off and continued along the beach, shoving driftwood in the basket, watching among the seaweed and pebbles for the precious sea coal. With my gaze glued to the sand, I didn’t spot the body until I was close enough to see instantly that it was a man. He lay on the wet sand, pale, almost gray in the morning light.
I ran, hoping—praying—not to find him dead. He was naked, but that didn’t surprise me. The sea can strip a body bare. I dropped the basket off my shoulders as I fell to my knees beside him. It toppled, spilling out its load.
The man lay facedown, his legs still in the surf, the waves breaking over them and ebbing as if trying to pull him back into the sea. He had skin as pale as ivory—not the skin of a sailor or fisherman exposed to the sun on deck all day. His exposed back was smooth and unmarked, without the tattoos or scars from the lash sailors often had. Hair as black as anthracite lay across his shoulders, a few strands of seaweed caught in it.
I laid a hand on him, fearing I’d find him cold and dead. But he was warm. I turned him onto his back. Nobody I knew. My island, Sula Skerry, was so small I knew the face and name of everyone who lived here. This face I’d never seen. This face… I’d never seen a face like it. Not even in schoolbooks about the legends of changelings and fair folk. For he was fair, God forgive me. I’d never seen a man so fair.
He lay against my arm, eyes closed, thick black lashes brushing cheeks marred only with wet sand. I touched his chest to feel if he still breathed. He did. I left my hand there, on that warm skin, as pale as the rest of him, one dark nipple under my palm.
I gasped at the sound of a voice and stared down at his face. He’d opened his large and dark eyes. So dark I couldn’t say they were any color at all, like I can say mine are blue. They weren’t merely dark brown; they were black. He’d spoken, and his mouth, his well-shaped lips, moved again. “I’m cold.”
The wind on his wet, naked skin must have been sucking the heat from him. I had to get him somewhere warm. I pulled off my jacket and wrapped it around him. But his long legs were still naked, and his…. I tried hard not to look at his member, for that’s a sin.
“Can you stand?” I asked him, grateful we understood each other. Sailors had been washed ashore here before, who spoke languages none among the islanders understood. I helped him up, but he sagged against me and I had to catch him in my arms to keep him from falling. I’d never get him up the cliff path to the cottage in this state. If I ran for help, he’d be dead of cold before I got back. I had a better idea.
“Hold on to me.” I hauled him toward the cliff face, a hundred feet or so along the beach, dragging my basket behind me. Good thing I’d been coming down here since I was a boy, when Ma was the one collecting the driftwood, and I’d followed behind her, barefoot, searching for shells or stones with holes in them—those were lucky—and always the precious sea coals.
With him lolling against my side and leaning heavily on me, I reached the mouth of a small cave. I’d first found it when I was eight years old. I’d hidden in it, listening to Ma calling me. “Callum! Callum!” A game to me, frightening to her the first time, fear in her voice that I didn’t understand. The cave seemed huge then, like a cavern. Fifteen years later I had to stoop over as I went into it, and I could reach the back in only a few steps.
It lay well above the high tide mark and only the worst storms ever reached into it, so there was little on the floor but dry sand. Some lichen grew on the walls. Nothing else lived here since it got sunshine only at dawn, as the sun rose over to the east and lit this cave low in the cliff for little more than an hour.
I lowered the man to the floor of the cave and he lay there shivering, despite having my jacket wrapped around him. What should I do? Go to the cottage and fetch him some clothes? Go to the village and fetch the constable or the doctor? I felt a strange reluctance to bring anyone else. I wanted him to myself.
“What’s your name?” I asked him.
“Breen,” he said, voice shaking as he spoke. “B… Breen.”
Breen? Where was that from? For all he spoke our language, he had a foreign look to him, with that coal black hair. Some of the shipwrecked sailors who washed up on the island before had skin browner than the most tanned and leathered of the shepherds and fishermen. This man had skin as pale as a highborn lady who’d never ventured out without a shady hat or parasol.
A fire. Yes. I could make a fire for him to warm himself by. I emptied my basket and built a fire at the mouth of the cave. Dried seaweed served for kindling, and I made a spark with the flint I had in my pocket. I blew softly on it until it caught and flames licked up. The wood ignited and the fire began to crackle. I hauled Breen closer to the mouth of the cave. A little smoke came in, but the wind was blowing from the north, down the beach, not from the sea, so most of the smoke blew away from us.
Breen sat up after a few minutes warming by the fire, pressed close against my shoulder. I didn’t know if the touch warmed him, but it sent a flush through me. Heat pooled low in my belly. I tried to ignore it. Mustn’t think on it. I could have left him then, gone up to fetch him some clothes from the cottage. He was out of the wind and had the fire and my jacket. He wouldn’t freeze in the time it took me to get there and back. But I didn’t want to go. I had a strange fear that if I let him out of my sight for even a minute he’d disappear.
“What’s your name?” he asked me suddenly, rousing me from a daydream, my mind full of… sin.
“Callum. Are you a sailor, Breen? Were you wrecked?”
“Wrecked?” He asked it as if he didn’t know what the word meant. He had an accent, not local, not even like the men who sometimes came from the mainland.
“Were you on a ship? Did it sink?”
“No. No ship.”
No ship? So how’d he come here? For he’d surely come out of the sea.
“A fishing boat?”
“It doesn’t matter,” he said. “I am here for you, Callum.”
“What?” I turned to him, thinking I’d misheard, or he’d misspoke, not knowing our language so well after all. His eyes were huge and so beautiful. Looking into them felt like falling into a tarn, or looking up into the night sky, at the velvet blackness.
“I have heard you call me,” he said, voice low, a dark, throbbing edge to it. He reached for me, his long fingers touching my face. Shock made me want to pull away. But the thrill down my spine at his touch—fingers still cold despite the fire—kept me riveted. I could no more stop him than I could fly. He leaned close. I thought he was speaking. His lips formed words, or perhaps my name, but my ears were full of the crashing of the waves and the crackle of the fire. His lips touched my mouth.
I closed my eyes. A kiss. He was kissing me. I’d never… not with a man, not a kiss. Some… fumbling with other lads, and a kiss with a lass or two, because they expected it, and because other people expected it, and it kept them from talking about me. But this… nothing had ever felt like this. His mouth slanted across mine, lips soft, but something hard behind them. No, not hard. Strong. His skin was smooth where mine was rough. I hadn’t shaved before coming to the beach.
His tongue—hot, wet—touched my lips. It should have been disgusting. Sin should feel disgusting, make me want to stop him, push him away, drag him out and toss him back in the sea that brought him. But instead it thrilled me. I wanted his tongue inside my mouth, and I opened my lips to him. It pressed in and found mine. Oh, God, to feel that for the first time. Like his tongue was a flint and mine was kindling. A spark and then flame.
If you’d like to read more check out the buy link below, or enter the contest to win an ebook copy. Comment and tell us about a memorable reading first. Maybe the first time you tried a genre you thought wasn’t your thing—and loved it. Or your first M/M book. Did it change your reading habits forever?
Answer by Friday 10th, 18:00 BST (that’s UK time) and you’re in with a chance to win.
Contest now closed. Thanks for entering and congratulations to the winner JJ.
July 6, 2015
Hello everyone! This is Grace R. Duncan and today is the release of my new contemporary BDSM novel, Turning His Life Around.
I actually started Turning a long time ago. When I first started writing it, I was just beginning to understand all that BDSM was about and what it meant to me. Make no mistake, I’ve been kinky for almost as long as I’ve been sexual. But I didn’t really understand what it all was or how it worked.
Not all of my kinky experiences happened within a romantic relationship. In fact, many of them were with people who are just friends. Sometimes, play is just that—play. Two people have fun and enjoy something mutual. One thing to remember, here, is that BDSM doesn’t require sex. One of the best scenes I’ve ever had involved me getting my ass paddled (and spanked, among other things) but the guy spanking me never touched me sexually. Another time, I volunteered to let people learn fire play with me and though I was naked, there was nothing sexual about it. Sure, sex can be involved, but it doesn’t have to be.
But sometimes kinky relationships stem from existing romantic relationships. Couples—or more—who discover kink after being together for a long time. It’s often a natural progression to go from vanilla sex to experimenting with other things—tying someone up, blindfolding them, a swat here or there—all of which can lead to even more.
However, it’s not always that clear cut. Sometimes what seems so to be only friendship between two playing starts to feel like something more. BDSM—especially D/s and pain play—involves a lot of trust, on both sides of the relationship. For a submissive to be able to let go and simply experience, they have to be able to trust their Dom. Some level of trust is necessary if they’re going to go into that oft-coveted place: subspace.
It can mean that the lines between simple play between friends and that of a romantic relationship can be blurred. It’s even worse if those boundaries weren’t that clear to begin with. What happens when two best friends who’d been so all their lives start to realize there’s more between them then occasionally fucking or saying, “Yes, Sir?”
Turning explores that. Things have always been relatively simple for Kane. They were rough when he was little, but still fairly simple. He avoided his mom’s boyfriends. He spent his days with his best friend, Ian. As they got older and away from his mother, that didn’t change all that much. Now, he didn’t have to worry about the boyfriends, but he still simply hung out with his best friend and focusing on being a teenager like most others—except for being gay, of course.
But that friendship was always there and Kane never questioned that. Until his life turns upside down and he’s faced with a whole mess of change he never expected. And through it all, the one person he’d come to depend on is still there, still his rock.
They’re not just best friends, though. They’ve been happy to be fuck buddies when neither was dating anyone. And a few years before Kane’s life goes so crazy, they start exploring BDSM.
So when it does get more than a little crazy, those already-fuzzy lines get much blurrier. Kane is asked, on more than one occasion, what Ian is to him and he discovers he’s having a hard time explaining. Everyone seems determined to label Ian as Kane’s boyfriend or partner, but Kane keeps refusing… until he tries to list all the things Ian is… and isn’t quite sure where to stop.
A big portion of what pushes him further is when they start playing more often. Kane needs the grounding the scenes with Ian gives him, with all the changes in his life. And the more they play, the harder it is for him to find those lines once again.
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Have you had relationships where the lines blurred for you? Could you play with a friend? Tell me about these for a chance to win a copy of any of my backlist titles!
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Be sure to follow the tour for more opportunities to win and learn lots more about Kane and Ian! Check it out here!
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Grace Duncan grew up with a wild imagination. She told stories from an early age – many of which got her into trouble. Eventually, she learned to channel that imagination into less troublesome areas, including fanfiction, which is what has led her to writing male/male erotica.
A gypsy in her own right, Grace has lived all over the United States. She has currently set up camp in East Texas with her husband and children – both the human and furry kind.
As one of those rare creatures who loves research, Grace can get lost for hours on the internet, reading up on any number of strange and different topics. She can also be found writing fanfiction, reading fantasy, crime, suspense, romance and other erotica or even dabbling in art.
Find Grace here:
Turning His Life Around
July 6, 2015
Thanks for hosting me.
I’m Anne Barwell and Family and Reflection is my 9th release with Dreamspinner Press. I live in New Zealand, and in my other job I work in a library. Family and Reflection is also book 3 of The Sleepless City, an urban fantasy series which is a joint project with Elizabeth Noble.
When we started discussing ideas for The Sleepless City we soon realised that it would need more than one book to tell the story. As our writing schedules and styles are quite different, we decided to alternate writing the books. I’ve written book 1, Shades of Sepia, and book 3, Family and Reflection. Elizabeth has written book 2, Electric Candle, and book 4, Shifting Chaos.
One of the reasons I love writing series is that it gives the opportunity to explore characters and their world in much more depth. With each book I learn something new about these characters, and given that several of them are vampires, there’s a lot of history to catch up on. It reminds me in a way of peeling an onion, in which each new layer reveals itself when something triggers a memory or relates the past to the present. Also, with the focus of each book on different characters, although keeping the ensemble feel of the series, it meant that all the characters had the chance to grow as the overall story progressed. Several minor characters also demanded more air time, and turned up with hints of interesting back stories. It’s a good thing we’re both writing spin off series after The Sleepless City arc is finished.
The other reason is that a series lends itself to a much more complicated plot. While each book has closure in regard to the immediate crisis/mystery, strands from earlier books come together with each subsequent part of the story to give a more complete picture. Continuity is really important when the series is an arc rather than stand alone stories set in the same universe, so many of the story elements were plotted out before book 1 was even written. Then, as things happened when we wrote our parts of The Sleepless City, we added to our already extensive series and character notes.
Most of my other books are part of series too… Who am I kidding? They all want sequels or have sneaked into a series by becoming a prequel to something I haven’t written yet. I can’t write a standalone story to save myself, although I like to leave my characters in a good place at the end of each book and tie up the immediate storyline. I also like to include enough information so new readers can read out of order and still follow the plot, although there are references to things that have happened in previous books too.
My current WIP, One Word, is a good example of this. This story is a side novel to my first book Cat’s Quill—it’s Donovan and Ethan’s story as to what happened while Tomas and Cathal were… oops sorry, spoiler for those who haven’t read the series. Anyway, it’s a fun juggling act, so that readers who haven’t read my Hidden Places series can follow this story, but not info dumping to the point that others have to re-read what they already know. One of my beta readers has read all my books, while another is new to this series and deliberately hasn’t read the others so between them they can make sure I’m getting that balance right.
Do you like stories which are told over several books, or do you prefer everything to be tied up in a neat bow at the end of one book? I’d love to know which, and why, and am offering a free ebook from my backlist to someone who comments on this post. DSP will draw the winner after 48 hours.
Family and Reflection
Book 3 of The Sleepless City, Sequel to Electric Candle
For as long as Lucas Coate can remember, werewolves have been taught to mistrust vampires. Lucas is an exception—he has close friends who are vampires. The werewolf pack in Flint—and their leader, Jacob Coate—have made it clear that Lucas’s association with vampires is barely tolerated, and another transgression will be his last. When Lucas finds out about the plague of werewolf deaths in the area, he wants to help even though his own life may already be in danger.
Declan has been away from Flint for ten years, but he isn’t surprised to learn that the internal politics of the Supernatural Council haven’t changed for the better. When a series of burglaries hit close to home soon after he arrives, Declan—a vampire and professional thief—is their prime suspect, although for once, he isn’t responsible. With the council keeping secrets, no one is safe. Time is running out, and for Lucas and Declan, everything is about to change.
“Someone has stolen from the council, Mr. Declan,” Hillary said. “Are you denying you’re responsible?”
“That depends. Are you accusing me?” Declan replied, giving her the incredulous look her comment deserved before continuing. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Lassiter, but if I was a thief, I wouldn’t be stupid enough to steal from the council. My friends work for you, as do I on occasion. We have no argument with you.”
At least they hadn’t lately, Declan added silently. Anyway, just because he could break into the council vault, it didn’t mean he had.
“The items stolen did not belong to the council itself. This is personal.” Hillary stood. She sounded angry. “Someone broke into my home last night and stole something from my bedroom while I slept!”
“Well, it wasn’t me,” Declan said. No wonder the council was upset. Whoever was doing this either had a death wish or was trying to make a point. He shrugged. “You need to read up on vampires. You’re human. I can’t enter your home unless you invite me in.”
“Some of your kind don’t need to follow that rule,” she said.
Jacob cleared his throat. “Declan isn’t old enough, Hillary.” Only a very old vampire could enter a private home uninvited. “There are ways around that rule, however, and we are not sure this burglar is working alone.”
“What if he had already been invited in?” she said, ready to argue the point. “My husband’s family has owned the house for over twenty years. It was robbed fifteen years ago, the day after we’d had a tradesman there to fix the phone. People invite tradesmen in all the time. I checked the council records. Declan was in Flint then too.”
“That still doesn’t mean it was me,” Declan pointed out. He thought back. Lassiter. Lassiter. Oh, right. No wonder her name seemed familiar. That robbery fifteen years ago probably had been him. He’d burgled a few homes in Flint around that time by posing as a tradesman a few days beforehand. Once he’d been invited in, it was forever, or at least while that particular human was still living there.
“It doesn’t mean it wasn’t, either,” Jacob said. He steepled his fingers, his brows creasing in thought.
“Mrs. Lassiter implied this meeting was because I needed your help,” Declan reminded him.
“I don’t. Don’t accuse me of something unless you have proof.”
“Do you have an alibi for last night?” Jacob asked.
“Yes,” Declan said. He took a deep breath and blew it out. Jacob was going to love this one. “Lucas. Your son.”
Jacob didn’t seem surprised at the revelation. Was he keeping an eye on Lucas despite telling his son he wanted nothing more to do with him? Perhaps he still cared. For all their differences, Lucas was family, and that was important to the pack.
“All night?” Jacob asked after everyone else in the room had turned their heads to stare at Declan.
“No,” Declan had to admit. He wasn’t sleeping with Lucas and wasn’t about to imply he was. Lucas had enough family issues without them thinking he was involved with a vampire. Which he wasn’t. “We got home about three this morning.”
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Dreamspinner Press Author Page: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/AuthorArcade/anne-barwell
July 2, 2015
Thanks for joining me today for the Tower of the Ice Lord release party! I’ll leave you with an excerpt from the story. I’m also doing a giveaway of a free copy of the ebook – details at the end of this post!
The tower stood at the edge of the northern wastes, casting its long shadow upon the frozen landscape. Ancient beyond the memory of man and forged from the ashes of a fallen star, it thrust spikes of iron into the sky. Whispered legends told how sorceries guarded the gates and warded the walls. Winds howled through the turrets like the voices of the damned. They called it the Tower of Lost Souls, and Arius was its master.
He lived alone. All sorcerers did. He had taken and tamed this wilderness, and consequences befell those who dared trespass in his domain. For he had been sworn to the service of Gaia: set to war against the lords of Evernesse, all his purpose bent toward their doom. He had long ago buried the desire for human comfort and human company.
But that solitude was fractured on the night the ice wolves brought the stranger. Arius heard their baying across the distant miles and knew their patrols had found an enemy. From the battlements, he watched them herd their prey into the shadow of the tower.
The ghost owl watched with him, drifting on silent wings to settle on his shoulder. Its warm weight allayed his stirrings of unease.
“Well, Ghost,” he said, “shall we see what our friends have fetched us today?”
The ghost owl slanted its pale gaze on him, but made no answer.
Arius stroked its head and descended the hundred steps of the spiral stair. Before exiting the tower, he donned his ice wolf mask: cool ivory calming his blood, narrow slits sharpening his gaze. Armor against the distractions and delusions of the world.
He waited before the gates as the ice wolves drew to a halt, white flanks heaving, tongues lolling between teeth. Their kind had brought down mammoths in ages past, but Arius commanded them now. When he advanced, they yielded way, revealing the man they escorted between them.
He had slipped to his knees in the wet snow, soaking his trousers and boots. But he pushed himself doggedly back to his feet. His eyes were green as new leaves, hair gold like summer sun. Startlingly young for an aspiring champion, he stared at Arius in open curiosity when seasoned warriors quailed to face him.
“No invader has ever breached these walls,” Arius said. “Did you think you would be the first?”
“I’m not here to fight, Ice Lord,” the man said steadily. “I’ve come to offer myself to you.”
Arius suffered several moments of thunderstruck silence before he found words. “You’re hardly pretty enough to tempt me.”
The man flushed, staining his cheeks a becoming shade of rose. “Not like that. I know your god demands royal blood to end this war. Take me as your sacrifice.”
No words seemed adequate. “What mockery is this? Who do you think you are?”
“I’m the son of the king of Evernesse,” said the young man in the threadbare cloak. “And I mean what I say. If I trade myself to your god, will you call off your vendetta?”
His earnest tone roused only ire in Arius. This could be nothing save madness or trickery, and he would not be so easily deceived. “You are mistaken if you think to play games with me. Only a fool would believe your tale.”
The man regarded Arius with serious eyes. “Don’t you believe someone can love enough to die for another?”
Arius was thankful his mask concealed any reaction. Suppressing his disquiet, he answered, “You’ll die indeed. The only question is swiftly or slowly.” With a snap of his fingers, he summoned the ice wolves to attention. He felt savage satisfaction at the panic that flashed across the man’s face. “Take this prisoner to the dungeons.”
Arius stalked into the tower without a second glance, trusting his servants to carry out his wishes. He needed to commune with his brethren. He ascended the spiral stair, to the highest level of the tower, the Moon Chamber.
Eight arched windows cut into the walls, at cardinal and intercardinal points. Prisms of glass hung suspended in long chains, catching and refracting every sparkle of light, so that Arius walked through a frozen waterfall.
He angled them with care and precision, and though the waning moon was a mere sliver in the sky, its beams focused and refocused as they bounced between the prisms, until they shone bright silver in the round mirror at the center of the chamber.
Arius bowed over the Moon Mirror, calming his mind. “Ixia. I would speak with you.”
The mirror shivered, like wind rippling water. The shape of a face emerged from the brightness: a mask of carnelian, sculpted in the form of a hawk. She was guardian of the south, as he was guardian of the north. To the east and west, there were others, standing their shared vigil over the centuries.
“To what do I owe this rare occasion?” said the blood hawk to the ice wolf.
“Sister of mine,” Arius said, “I have had an unexpected visitor.” He relayed the encounter to her. “Never have I seen the like. Armies they have sent against us, and archmages, and assassins. All have failed. And now this, an ordinary man alone.”
The mask gave nothing away, but her amber eyes flickered with interest. “Perhaps he comes because they have failed.” She shook her head. “All these centuries hurling ourselves against the might of Evernesse, and here comes this gift fallen into your palm.”
“Gift or curse? Surely you do not trust it.”
“Then kill him and be done with it. But I trust in the wisdom of Gaia, against whom even the Eternal Mountain must crumble. Perhaps the king remembers the pact he betrayed. Perhaps he is ready to fulfill the bargain his ancestors made.”
“Not the king,” Arius said. “A prince.”
“Lord or heir, it is all the same. They pledged themselves in exchange for power, and now they owe the blood price. Or the land will suffer.”
“I know how the land suffers.” They both did. The blood hawks flew over deserts, and the ice wolves roamed through desolation, while the lords of Evernesse lived in their mountain paradise.
“Then you know your path already. You have no need of my counsel.”
Perhaps. And yet, “It has been too long since we spoke face-to-face.” It was a small jest; he had never seen her face.
“Indeed. Fare you well, brother of mine.” The blood hawk mask faded from the mirror, leaving Arius to contemplate his own reflection.
His path lay clear before him: the god called for a sacrifice, and the prince came to offer it. But there remained the question he had not asked Ixia, the question that troubled his thoughts.
Don’t you believe someone can love enough to die for another?
For your chance to win a free copy of the ebook, comment with what you like seeing in fantasy romance. After 12pm EST on Friday, one commenter will be randomly drawn to win.
June 22, 2015
There are some issues that I don’t address in this book that I plan to address in later books. I am not waiting for reviews to see if someone picks up on it, but I will point it out, and talk about it briefly. It’s the elephant in the room. Ollie has an eating disorder.
It’s hinted at in several instances. He has to go in for regular weigh-ins. His doctor is always checking his vitamin levels. Will and B are always urging him to eat. Ollie has an untreated problem. Well, a partially treated problem.
There’s a common misconception that men don’t get eating disorders. Sadly, in this world of selfies and Instagram, the occurrences of young men facing eating disorders to try to look good (as the world perceives good) is growing exponentially. I directly address the issue of body dysmorphic disorder in my new adult novel Unicorns and Rainbow Poop, but in Model Citizen we’re seeing a man with pretty bad anorexia. He makes off-hand comments about himself. He forgets to eat until his friends have to threaten to hospitalize him because his weight drops so low. And he goes on binges that are often followed by purges.
Because Ollie is an adult, he has to acknowledge the problem himself before he can begin to treat it. Kade, Will, and Britney all know he has a problem. They are very careful about dancing around the issue. Kade is a little pushier, trying to get Ollie to eat, and that is not always the right thing. But just like a regular couple, it will be an issue they have to learn to work on together.
“Back when I was modeling and I’d see the pictures afterward and think, wow, is that really me? The hours in makeup and hundreds of poses certainly don’t feel glamorous. When I first began modeling, I was too heavy to model women’s clothing and too thin for men’s. The fame didn’t really start to sink in until people began recognizing me. And then I started dating. For a while I felt powerful and beautiful.” Jacob had crushed that.
“You don’t feel beautiful anymore?”
I shrugged. “I’ve put on more weight than I should. I still work out a lot. Cardio, watch my diet, yoga, and very minimal weight training so I don’t bulk up. But I just don’t feel like I used to.”
All of these things he’s doing are what is recommended to keep healthy. However, his attitude toward himself is not. Our world has propagated making people feel bad about themselves. We’re bombarded by media every second of every day with images of what we should look like and how we should lose weight. They tell us no one will love us if we don’t look a certain way. And we can’t love ourselves. So what’s left?
Kade begins to give Ollie hope. Maybe it’s okay that he’s not perfect, not skinny enough, or too feminine. Maybe, just maybe, Kade can love him the way he is and then Ollie can find a reason to love himself. I’d like to think this is Ollie’s anthem: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xo1VInw-SKc
We all have things we hate about ourselves. But I don’t want to hear about those. I want to know: What is the one thing you think really makes you incredible? What makes you, you?
For me, it’s this weird brain of multiple worlds and characters that is always on inside my head. Stories every second of everyday, replayed in over a thousand ways. So what makes you, you?
Thanks so much for joining me for a walk through my new release. All prizes will be chosen tomorrow so everyone has a few hours to read, think, and reply. Happy reading!
On the Right Track (Harmony Ink) Sam Kadence
Unicorns and Rainbow Poop (Harmony Ink) Sam Kadence
June 22, 2015
Why would a man date a more feminine man?
I have a blog post coming up this week on The Novel Approach about the diversity in m/m romance verses real life and people’s opinion of what it should be. Long story short, people come in all shapes in sizes. Men and women. I can appreciate a pretty woman, a pretty man, a handsome man, or a handsome woman. So the question is: why would a man be attracted to a pretty man, maybe even a man who lived on the border of femininity?
Attraction is an individual thing. I can’t speak to the sexual side of it, but aesthetics are important to everyone, I think. Not so much how good-looking a person is, but whether or not they fit what we personally find appealing. I love two things about men physically: their shoulders and their eyes. For woman I find a curvy woman more appealing, and long hair (which is funny because I keep mine short). Some people love butts, some love boobs, some need muscles everywhere.
However, what we see in men in the media is pretty cookie cutter now, and just as unrealistic as the women who pretend they’re eating a burger at Carl Jr.’s. Great abs, giant arms, and defined pecs are the norm for a man, right? Short answer, no. It might be nice to look at for a while, but that body takes work to maintain. You want him to spend 18 hours a day in the gym, or maybe work to help pay the bills and then spend a little time with you instead? Isn’t that why most everyone picks the average guy? And what is average anyway? Oh, you mean the type of guys we see every day walking around us instead of on TV? Yes, that’s the average guy. So where is he in all this?
Kade is an average guy. He served his country. Got injured, came home to recover. He’s not a hardbody anymore, but he does take care of himself. He’s badly scarred and has a limp. He’s got a major Ollie kink that baffles Ollie. But Ollie has never been one to stew over a question. He asks Kade why:
“Why me? If you want a girl, you could have a girl. If you want a guy, you could have any guy. Most gay guys like guys like Will. All muscle and butch. I am not. I think if you were bi, it would make more sense.”
“I like men and all their variations. I have a difficult time finding comfort and intimacy with someone who is more like Will because he makes me think of my military years. The handful of one-offs that I snuck away to indulge in aren’t bad memories, but they aren’t great either. It was a time of hiding, not only because of the DADT laws, but because that part of the world really despises homosexuals. I heard about one guy my second year in who got caught.” Kade shook his head like the memory was still too painful to recall. “He was one of ours, but what the native people did to him…. And we left him there a few days. Wrote it off as killed in combat, which was bullshit. Hard not to associate fear, pain, and possible death with that sort of man.”
“Donovan’s not the soldier type.”
“He could be. Put him in a uniform and he’d fit in just fine. He’s not my type. The young ‘perfect’ bodies that are splashed everywhere. Is it too much to want a normal guy?”
I snorted again. “If you want normal, I ain’t it.”
“More normal than a lot. At least you’re not pretending to be butch or a super fairy just to fit a role. You are what you are.”
Second contest of the evening, for a chance to win your choice from my backlist: I think that is true attraction. Maybe even love. Just wanting someone for who they are. What do you find yourself looking for in other people? Something in their appearance? Something in their personality?
On the Right Track (Harmony Ink) Sam Kadence
Unicorns and Rainbow Poop (Harmony Ink) Sam Kadence
June 22, 2015
Labels are everywhere. They always have been. Even back in Ancient Rome, people were labeled by class. So humanity’s obsession with labels now isn’t all that surprising. We keep breaking every little thing down into another label. Like sexuality.
It truly is a spectrum. I wonder how many romance readers actually know what some of these terms mean since most are not represented at all, like demisexuality. A person who is demisexual only feels sexual attraction for someone they care about emotionally. Much like asexuality, this doesn’t mean they can’t have sex or even that they have a low sex drive. It simply means they need an emotional bond for the act of sex to feel “right” in their own mind.
Ollie is demisexual. He’s never been the guy for casual hookups and he doesn’t get why his ex was hopping from bed to bed. So when he learned the man was cheating, he was heartbroken. Then Kade walks into his life. But Ollie knows Kade. He grew up with Kade hanging around his older brother. Kade is not a stranger. He’s a friend at least, and Ollie finds himself attracted to him. Confused and attracted to him.
If this was Ollie’s only issue, it would have ended the story much sooner ’cause they would magically have talked out their feelings and been living happily ever after. Only that’s not how life works. Ollie doesn’t really sexually identify as anything other than gay, though his actual label would be demisexual homoromantic. But he’s young. He’s barely twenty-three, and his years of self-discovery were interrupted by the death of his brother.
Kade, however, is not nearly as young or unaware. He sees Ollie just as he is:
“I was working on this case with you until you saw the need to jump out of bed and run from the fact that you had sex with me.” (Kade)
“I didn’t run.” (Ollie)
“The hell you didn’t. We both know you don’t do casual sex, and that’s what freaks you the fuck out. I can count on one hand the number of guys you’ve taken to bed because you have to trust them first. Obviously I’m not there yet, and you feel like it’s a mistake. That’s something we should talk about. Get in the car, Ollie.”
It was a really long walk home, and I was still wearing sweats that said “princess” on the ass. I sighed and got in the truck, slamming the door extra hard just to prove he hadn’t won.
I think this emotional aspect of romance is more important than the sex itself. Ollie needs to face his emotions even if they hurt or confuse him. Kade is trying to help. He’s honest and forthright—and crazy about Ollie.
I find very little of the actual LGBTQA spectrum represented in current romance, or any romance, really. Someone can be demisexual and heteroromantic, or asexual and biromantic.
For the first chance to win an ebook copy of Model Citizen: What other divisions of the spectrum would you be interested in reading about? What confuses you? Fascinates you? How could I as a writer help broaden understanding of the spectrum for you?
On the Right Track (Harmony Ink) Sam Kadence
Unicorns and Rainbow Poop (Harmony Ink) Sam Kadence
May 30, 2015
Hi all. Robert P. Rowe here. All good things must come to an end and so it is with the Release Party for Second-Story Man. I have to turn control of the Dreamspinner Press blog back over to the publisher. Don’t forget that the book can be found here:
Now comes the time to announce the winner of the ebook giveaway. If you saw the previous post you can see that the competition is tough. Meeting in a sex education class, or dialing a wrong number, or finding that certain someone hidden behind a mask are all great accidental meetings.
It’s most interesting that all of the stories seem to carry the same theme—two souls destined to meet.
But the story that really got to me came from Su. I liked the comparison of Second-Story Man to a fairy tale—that is intentional. I also found some significance in the library meeting. Read my book and you’ll see why. Finally, I thought that the answer itself was somewhat of a fairy tale. Like all good fairy tales there are those evil characters that cause trouble but the happy couple will survive and live happily ever after.
I hope that I can add to Su’s happiness by awarding the final giveaway ebook of Second-Story Man. Go to this address and click on email right below the picture:
Send me your email address and I’ll pass it on to the good people at DSP to add an ebook onto your shelf.
Thanks to everyone who participated in the contest. I really enjoyed reading your stories and I hope that you will enjoy reading mine.
Don’t forget to check out my website and blog:
May 29, 2015
The final countdown for the end of this Release Party has begun. It’s Robert P. Rowe taking over the Dreamspinner Press blog to tell you about my novel Second-Story Man. The book can be found here:
A central theme for Second-Story Man is that there are no accidents—everything happens for a reason. With that theme in mind I invited blog readers to enter my giveaway contest the prize is an ebook version of Second-Story Man for the person who has the best answer to this question:
“What’s the most interesting accidental way that you have met someone special in your life?”
Well the responses have been so wonderful I just had to share them with you. Here we go.
Congratulations on the publication of The Second-Story Man, Robert! Fun way to hold a contest. My now-husband and I met in Human Sexuality Class in college. We were in the same discussion group, talking about our sexuality and its influences before we even started dating. Then of course we did start going out, and attending class together was like getting marriage counseling as we dated. Our 20th anniversary is this summer, so I guess it worked.
Steven Traugh says:
First of all, congratulations on your book! I’m looking forward to reading it. What a fun contest. When I decided it was time to marry, I moved to a cottage on the founding estate of Palos Verdes (an exclusive neighborhood along the beach outside Los Angeles) so that I could meet the “right kind” of girl. Imagine my surprise when I found the love of my life at work–teaching in the inner city of Los Angeles! It was love at first sight and now, 27 years later, she’s still the “right kind of woman.”
I was visiting my sister who was still in college and she convinced me to go to a costume Halloween party. I dressed as a flapper and met a cowboy (not too original) that I eventually wound up dating when I moved back to my hometown.
To answer your question i did meet my (now) husband at Carnival, at the food stand he was dressed in a funny shirt and jeans and i was dressed as an indian LOL We talked a bit and when it was time to go home he walked me to my friends place (where i stayed during the carnival festivities). We got married 4 years later and this weekend we will be married 13 years
What an interesting contest and thank you for a chance to win a copy of your book Second Story Man. I enjoyed the book brief and the Repunzel story came to mind, with the prince climbing up the side of the tower to find the one of his dreams
I wondered which of my life stories would be interesting to you, maybe the one of how my current partner stealthy pursued (or indirectly courted) me as he knew I was very shy or how I met another man who has become my lifelong best friend. Both are quite sweet stories, but I might go with the best friend one. When I was about 13 I was starting at a new school, due to being bullied at my old one, and I immediately sought my haven, the library! After a few weeks of avoiding as many other students as I could, I was quite dismayed to find my hiding place in the library occupied by a dark auburn haired boy that I had admired from afar. His socked feet were resting up on another chair, his black rimmed glasses resting half way down his nose and he was reading one of the books that I had left there during the lunch period. He looked up and smiled (sigh) and his pale blue eyes were slightly enhanced by the enlarging effect of his reading glasses. I was not sure how to react or what to say, so thankfully he saved the day by saying he was looking for this book and would I mind sharing it with him. From that day forward he started to chat to me around the school and became my protector, as quite a few other students were jealous of our friendship. Yes he was my first crush and people thought we were dating, but we more like soul friends than anything else. I should say that he had seen me hiding in the library and decided to make friends with me. We shared our shy first kiss together and eventually, when he was about 16, as I knew something was worrying him, he told me his biggest secret and his fear. To be honest I was sad about it, but also fearful for him as I knew his parents were less than understanding and we pretended to be together until we went our separate ways when we went to university. We always remained in contact and after graduation we both worked for the same company and yes he family did reject him when he came out, but I was there for him and always will be and visa versa. So that is the story of how I met my closest and lifelong friend and protector.
Hi, congrats on the new release!
the interesting meeting story I have is not mine but my sister’s. She met her ex-boyfriend when she called her friend but got the wrong number. Problem was, the wrong number was owned by a man with the same name as her friend. When this man insisted he didn’t know her,she exploded quite spectacularly before realizing she dialed the wrong number. she apologized and they became a couple.
Thank you for the excerpt!
I met my best friend two years before we got to know each other and actually became friends. We were both about ten and she was in the same summer program as me but we never talked to each other. She was just some other kid I was passing by and was passing by me. When I had to transfer elementary school to a school that covered grade 6-8. She saw me and I saw her it was like insta-friends.
I met my best friend in line for an a cappella concert at college our first year. I thought “who is that cool girl in the flowered dress?,” and it turned out she had seen me around the dorm. She doesn’t remember it, though…
All of your stories were so wonderful and original. It was really hard deciding would be this morning’s winner. But I had to choose one so I chose Trix. My reasons were simple and here’s what I told her:
Great story Trix. It’s funny how often people can see a complete stranger and instantly realize, “I know that person.” That’s a theme in my book too. There are no accidents–everything happens for a reason.
There’s still time to enter for tonight’s giveaway, but you’d better hurry. I’ll be signing off just after midnight Eastern Time.
Here are links to my website and my blog:
If you missed this Release Party contact me through my Contact page on my website. I’m always interested in your comments.