Inspiration, Rituals, Favorite Characters with Zahra Owens

April 19, 2015

A big thank you to Zahra, who agreed to do this interview and answer the questions of her readers. I also want to thank you, the readers, who came up with the questions and thus made this interview possible.
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What made you start writing M/M novels?
I come from fanfic, which has a longstanding tradition of ‘shipping’ men with other men, because the chemistry between them absolutely splatters off the screen, but all it ever becomes in the TV series and movies we watch is a bromance. And some of us believe these characters deserve better ;-) Then after a while, just writing better story endings for your favorite characters wasn’t enough anymore. You want to make you own…

Do you think your style of writing is affected by the reason that English isn’t your native language? Or do you have adopted more and more of the Americanese from book to book?
I was raised bilingually, so I’ve been speaking English since I was a small child. I couldn’t write in my native language. That said, well, I guess we all carry our own culture with us, not so much in the words we use, but especially in expressions. I once baffled an editor by writing that “the baby slept like a rose”, which is a perfectly fine expression, but apparently not so much in English!
I do admit my English has improved over the years, but I blame reading more than writing in that respect.

While being all busy with writing, do you even find the time to read? What are your favorite books you can read again and again?
I have to admit I don’t read as much as I’d like. I also have a day job, which takes up a lot of time and writing is a very time-consuming hobby! I do proofread for other people, which means I get to read every story once. I wish I had the time to reread some of the books I’ve read over the years. (to name some on my to-reread list: Amy Lane’s contemporary books, Ariel Tachna’s vampires and wizards and anything by Mary Calmes)

I hope this question is not too personal; if yes you of course don’t have to answer it. How do you unite your writing with your private life (family, friends, partner, etc.) without neglecting anyone or anything?

It takes some balancing. Everyone who knows me knows what I write, so no secrets there. That helps. It means they understand that a lot of my spare time goes into this. It also helps that I have something to show for it. Being published earned me a lot of understanding too. That said, I do my best not to neglect my family and friends. My parents are getting on in age, so I do try to spend time with them regularly. I guess I’m lucky (if you can say that) that the people closest to me are also very busy, so we often need to take out our calendars to find the time to do stuff together! Takes away from the spontaneity, but the planning is half the fun. To give you an example, my birthday was in February, but my birthday dinner is planned for May 1st.

Do you work at several books at the same time or do you rather focus on one?
I usually have about three books in the “Work in Progress” stage because I’m too easily distracted to work on just one. And I get stuck a lot, so only one book at a time would mean I’d never get to finish anything!

What would you say are your strengths and weaknesses as an author?

I’m terribly at humor. I love people who have the gift of the gab and who can make me laugh. I couldn’t write humor if they held a gun to my head.
On the positive side I’ve been told I’m good at pacing my books and I love making all the puzzle pieces fall into place at the end of a story.

Where do you get your ideas from? What inspires you? Do certain events or people you met inspire you when writing?

People always ask me this and it’s a difficult question to answer because they always expect that it’s big things that provide inspiration, but it isn’t. I love sitting outside a café to watch the people walk by. I love observing people and imagining their story. The entire story of my new novel Conflict of Interest was inspired by one scene, which is part of the last scene of the book. I was in London walking around in the area around the Old Bailey and a side door opened. Out came a tall, handsome, middle aged man in court robes, his collar dislodged, the wind playing with the flowing robes. He was closely followed by a younger, shorter man in jeans and a leather jacket, carrying heavy looking binders full of papers. They were engaged in an animated conversation, clearly about what had just happened in court. I had no reason to think there was anything more going on than a barrister and his investigator talking, but in my eyes they were much more than that and this story ended up in a novel.

Are there any rituals you practice before you start writing?
Not really. My biggest challenge is not only finding the time to write, but also to make myself sit down behind my computer and start. I’m a terrible procrastinator. I write best when there’s things going on around me. I can completely understand people taking their laptop to a coffee shop and sitting there to write. I also do great work on transatlantic flights with flight attendants hovering around me and other passengers trying to read what I’m writing.

When you write a book, do you plan it before you start writing or do you let things just develop themselves?Do you plan a book series in advance or do you take things as they come?
I don’t plan much. I know how it will start and where (but not also how) it will end. I think it’s more fun to see where the characters take me on the journey from A to Z than it is to plan it all out. They hold the strings and I just record what they tell me to record.
I didn’t plan my cowboy series. When I was writing book one (Clouds and Rain) I felt that Grant needed his redemption story, so I followed it up with Earth and Sky. Floods and Drought came about because I felt Rory had this heartbreaking story of lifelong rejection and I had the perfect guy for him already in Tim. And then in the course of the three stories I’d mentioned this disbarred lawyer turned ranch hand and his story became Moon and Stars. See, I don’t plan anything, but sometimes my characters do!

Do some protagonists grow dear to your heart more than others? If yes, which are the ones you like best?
I can’t write the story of a character who doesn’t worm his way into my heart, so at some point, they all made their little nest. I like the hopeless cases. Rory who never knew love and only rejection. Kelly who married a woman when he knew he was in love with a man. Jack who married a woman because the diplomatic corps was not ready for a gay diplomat. But I also love the men who opened their hearts to those hopeless cases, often against their better judgement. They’re my heroes. Because we all want someone to fall in love with us, despite all our faults.

Are you one of the authors that get kicked by their muse all of the time, especially when she wants something that doesn’t really fit into your writing timetable in that situation?
Yes, this is the reason I work on more than one book. I need to fall in love with my characters, but this means they pull at my heartstrings all the time. And like it always works with love, it appears when you least expect it, so in full swing with writing one story, another character might clamor for my attention and then I need to write his story too.

How long does it take you on average to write a story and what does your daily writing routine look
It takes me between a year and two years to finish a novel. So I guess it’s a good thing I write more than one story at a time!
I write best late in the evening, which means I sometimes end up only sleeping four or five hours. Not good, but I need to follow the muse!

Have you ever got insulted because of your books? Or have your books ever got insulted? If yes, how did you react to it?
I’ve never been insulted. I’ve received some not so favorable reviews for some of my books, but I try to ignore them. Well, I ignore them on the outside, but they hurt, because I love the characters I wrote and then someone gives the story of my beloved characters a one star review. I wouldn’t mind so much if the review was well executed (thoughtful and constructive) but often they aren’t.

Last week DSP published the german translation of Floods and Drought. Many German Readers don’t know you grew up in Europe. So why are many of your stories set in America’s West? Do you have a special connection to this part of the country?
I grew up in a city, but I’ve travelled extensively since I was a child. The wide open vistas of the Western US are absolutely breathtaking. In the city you’re lucky if you can see past the next house, but out there, you can see for miles. It’s liberating. I don’t think I could live there, but I can admire it (and write about it). Also the men out there are rugged and hardened by a life of manual labor. That holds an appeal all in itself!
Most of my other stories are set in cities I could see myself living: like Madrid, London and New York.

Moon and Stars is the forth and also the last book of the Clouds and Rain series at the moment. Will there be more books or do we have to say goodbye to our darlings?
I always said there would be a fifth book to tie up all the loose ends. It will take some time, though. (see next question)

Who was the most difficult character to write in the Clouds and Rain series?
The most difficult character in the Clouds and Rain series is the one glaring at me from Book Five and who doesn’t want me to write about him (I did mention these characters live inside my head, right?) And if a character refuses to speak to me, I need to figure out what I did to piss him off before I can start writing him again.

Last but not least: What are you currently working?
Right now I’m working on a series of three books (yes, all at the same time) revolving around a homeless shelter in New York City where every book features a character with a physical disability. Like all of my series each book will have its own couple, but the others will play a part in every story as well.

Thank you for all the great questions! I hope you like the answers I came up with!

~Zahra

Andrew Grey Interviewed for German Readers

April 8, 2015

A big thank you to Andrew, who agreed to do this interview and answer the questions of his German readers. I also want to thank you, the readers, who came up with the questions and thus made this interview possible.

First of all, how would you describe yourself? 

I like to think of myself as a fun guy with a real love of life, but I’m afraid I’m much more serious and careful than I ought to be.

What made you start writing M/M novels?

I started reading them a number of years ago when I was trying to lose weight and get fit.  What better to make treadmill time pass than to read something sexy?  After a while I decided to try writing a story.  After that I couldn’t turn it off.

While being all busy with writing, do you even find the time to read? 

I do love to read, but I don’t as much as I’d like.  There are just too many demands on my time, so reading time is special.

I hope this question is not too personal; if yes you of course don’t have to answer it. How do you unite your writing with your private life (family, friends, partner, etc.) without neglecting anyone or anything? 

Sometimes it isn’t easy.  Dominic is very understanding and supportive.  The rest of my family tries to understand, but its harder for them.

Do you work at several books at the same time or do you rather focus on one? 

I only work on one book at a time.  It seems to work well for me.  I have tried working on more than one and it doesn’t work.  Things get messed up in my head and characters tend to jump stories.  

Where do you get your ideas from? What inspires you? Do certain events or people you met inspire you when writing? 

I am inspired by life and I’m always looking for the next story idea.  I have been inspired by works of art, news stories, and people I meet.  The world is full of stories.

Are there any rituals you practice before you start writing? 

No other than I always start my day with a Diet Coke.

When you write a book, do you plan it before you start writing or do you let things just develop themselves?Do you plan a book series in advance or do you take things as they come?

I tend to start with the idea and write the story. I don’t plan them or the series.  Both just build as I work through them.

Do some protagonists grow dear to your heart more than others? If yes, which are the ones you like best? 

Of course they do.  Some characters wind their way into my heart and never let go.  Geoff and Eli are characters like that.

Are you one of the authors that get kicked by their muse all of the time, especially when she wants something that doesn’t really fit into your writing timetable in that situation? 

My muse is quite cooperative and his name is Oscar.  He tends to keep the story ideas flowing.  When I get more than what I need, I write them down for later so I can remember them.

How long does it take you on average to write a story and what does your daily writing routine look like? 

I generally write a novel in three to four weeks.  I write in the morning, break for lunch and to catch up in email and things.  Then I write again in the afternoon.  Evenings I try to spend with Dominic. 

Have you ever got insulted because of your books? Or have you books ever got insulted? If yes, how did you react to it? 

Sometimes people say things I don’t like.  I’ve learned to let it run off.  You can’t let criticism get to you or there is no way a writer can be productive. 

Last week Dreamspinner Press published the German translation of Seven Days. How did you get the idea of the 7 days? Are there also 7 days in particular that have changed your life?

The idea for 7 days came to me as I was writing Accompanied by a Waltz.  I believe every life has days which change everything.  One for me was when I met Dominic.

Will there be more books in the series Seven Days

There is another story.  Its called Unconditional Love.  I’m hoping that will be translated as well. 

Last but not least: What are you currently working? 

I just finished up Love Comes Unheard, the final story in the Senses series.  I also just completed From Loathing to Love, a story where two enemies become friends and then something more. 

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Andrew Grey grew up in western Michigan with a father who loved to tell stories and a mother who loved to read them. Since then he has lived throughout the country and traveled throughout the world. He has a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and now writes full time.

Andrew’s hobbies include collecting antiques, gardening, and leaving his dirty dishes anywhere but in the sink (particularly when writing)  He considers himself blessed with an accepting family, fantastic friends, and the world’s most supportive and loving partner. Andrew currently lives in beautiful, historic Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Andrew Grey’s German Interview

April 8, 2015

Ich bedanke mich herzlich bei Andrew, der sich bereit erklärt hat, an diesem Interview teilzunehmen und euch Lesern Frage und Antwort zu stehen. Auch ein großes Dankeschön an euch Leser, denn ohne euch wäre dieses wunderbare Interview nicht zustande gekommen.

Wie würdest du dich selbst beschreiben?

Ich sehe mich gerne als einen fröhlichen Mann, der sein Leben genießt, aber manchmal befürchte ich, dass ich doch ernster und vorsichtiger bin, als ich sein sollte.

Was hat dich dazu gebracht, M/M Romanzen zu schreiben?

Ich begann vor ein paar Jahren damit, sie zu lesen, als ich versuchte, abzunehmen und fitter zu werden. Was eignet sich besser, um die Zeit auf dem Laufband zu überbrücken, als währenddessen etwas Heißes zu lesen? Nach einiger Zeit entschied ich, mich selbst an einer Geschichte zu versuchen. Nachdem konnte ich nicht mehr damit aufhören.

Findest du neben dem Schreiben noch Zeit, um zu lesen?

Ich liebe es zu lesen, aber leider klappt es nicht so oft wie ich möchte. Es gibt so viele Dinge zu tun, dass solche Lesemomente eher selten sind.

Ich hoffe, die Frage ist nicht zu privat, wenn ja, musst du natürlich nicht darauf antworten: Wie vereinst du deine Liebe zum Schreiben mit deinem Real Life (Familie, Freunden, dem Partner etc.), ohne dass einer dabei zu kurz kommt?

Manchmal ist es nicht leicht. Dominic ist sehr verständnisvoll und unterstützend. Der Rest meiner Familie versucht Verständnis dafür zu haben, aber für sie ist es schwieriger.

Schreibst du an mehreren Büchern gleichzeitig oder konzentrierst du dich lieber nur auf eines? Planst du eine Serie im Vorhinein oder ‘passiert’ sie einfach?

Ich arbeite immer nur an einem Buch, denn so scheint es am besten für mich zu klappen. Ich habe auch versucht, an mehr als einem gleichzeitig zu arbeiten, aber das hat nicht funktioniert. Die Ideen vermischen sich in meinem Kopf und Charaktere springen von einer Geschichte zur anderen.

 Woher nimmst du deine Ideen? Was inspiriert dich? Fließen private Erlebnisse oder Menschen, die du getroffen hast, in deine Geschichten mit ein?

Mich inspiriert das Leben und ich bin ständig auf der Suche nach neuen Ideen für meine nächste Geschichte. Ich werde von Kunstwerken, Zeitungsberichten und Menschen, die ich getroffen habe, inspiriert. Die Welt ist voller Geschichten.

Hast du bestimmte Rituale, wenn du dich an eine Geschichte setzt?

Kein anderes, als dass ich jeden Tag mit einer Diät Cola beginne.

Legst du dir schon einen Plot (mit vorgegebenen Situationen) zurecht bzw. weißt du schon zu Beginn wie deine Protagonisten gestrickt sind, oder agierst du während des Schreibens spontan?

Ich neige dazu, mit einer fixen Idee zu starten, und schreibe dann die Geschichte. Ich plane sie nicht, ebenso wenig die Buchserien. Beides entsteht erst, wenn ich daran arbeite.

Wachsen dir manche Protagonisten mehr ans Herz als andere? Wenn ja, welche magst du am liebsten?

Natürlich. Manche Charaktere schleichen sich in mein Herz und bleiben dort. Geoff und Eli gehören zu dieser Gruppe. (Anm.: Geoff und Eli sind die Hauptprotagonisten aus „Liebe gegen jede Regel“.)

Gehörst du auch zu den Autoren, die von der Muse ständig Arschtritte bekommen, vor allem, wenn sie etwas will, das dir aktuell so gar nicht in den Zeitplan passt?

Meine Muse ist ziemlich kooperativ und heißt Oscar. Er neigt dazu, die Ideen fließen zu lassen. Wenn ich mehr bekomme, als ich in diesem Moment benötige, schreibe ich sie nieder, damit ich mich später daran erinnere.

Wie lange schreibst du durchschnittlich an einer Geschichte und wie sieht dein Schreiballtag im Allgemeinen aus?

Normalerweise schreibe ich eine Geschichte innerhalb von drei bis vier Wochen. Ich schreibe morgens, mache mittags eine Pause um zu Essen und mich um E-Mails und andere Dinge zu kümmern. Dann schreibe ich nachmittags weiter. Die Abende versuche ich mit Dominic zu verbringen.

Hast du schon einmal abfällige / beleidigende Bemerkungen zu deinen Büchern erhalten? Wenn ja, wie hast du darauf reagiert?

Manchmal sagen Leute Dinge, die ich nicht mag. Ich habe gelernt, es an mir abprallen zu lassen. Man darf Kritik nicht zu nah an sich ranlassen, da man sonst als Autor nicht produktiv sein kann.

Letzte Woche veröffentliche DSP die deutsche Übersetzung von deinem Buch „7 Days“ (Sieben Tage). Wie bist du auf die Idee mit den 7 Tagen gekommen? Würdest du sagen, dass es bei dir auch 7 bestimmte Tage gab, die dein Leben veränderten?

Die Idee für die Geschichte „Sieben Tage“ kam mir, als ich an dem Buch „Accompanied by a Waltz“ arbeitete. Ich bin der Meinung, dass es in jedem Leben Tage gibt, die alles verändern. Ein solcher Tag war für mich, als ich Dominic kennenlernte.

Wird es noch weitere Bücher aus der Serie 7 Tage geben?

Es gibt noch eine weitere Geschichte. Sie heißt „Unconditional Love“. Ich hoffe, dass auch sie übersetzt wird.

Zu guter Letzt. Woran arbeitest du zur Zeit?

Ich habe gerade erst „Love Comes Unheard“ vollendet, die letzte Geschichte der Senses-Serie. Ich habe auch gerade „From Loathing to Love“ fertiggestellt, eine Geschichte, wo zwei Feinde zu Freunde und später zu mehr werden.

SevenDaysDEMED

Rebecca Cohen Writes It All!

April 7, 2015

Today we interview the multi-genre writing Rebecca Cohen!

Dreamspinner Press: What is the most erotic scene you’ve ever written?

In Duty to the Crown (the second of my Elizabethan historical series, The Crofton Chronicles), I have Sebastian Hewel pretending to be prostitute, hanging around the seedy backstreets of South Bank in London. He’d slipped Anthony Redbourn note and told him to meet him. Anthony arrives and is more than happy to play along with Sebastian’s game. Especially as Sebastian has procured a room for their use at a nearby tavern. They act out their roles, Anthony tying Sebastian to the bed with his hose, and promising to get his money’s worth from Sebastian. Which he certainly does.

Dreamspinenr Press: Your new novel is a science-fiction gay romance. What were some joys and challenges writing a romance set in a sci-fi world?

In Under Glass I wanted to play with the idea that for certain people true love is genetically determined. I’m a biology geek, and so I created a concept called psychogenetics to describe how Ollie and Kai, the main characters in ‘Under Glass’, are linked and how the link is mediated by a special organ called the caerellon. Only in science fiction could I get to play and run away with such ideas. Another joy was making Kai a novice planet builder. His species creates planets, one of which is where Ollie was spirited away to by his mother as a young child. New races and planets mean I get to shape the evolution of a species and create their mythology, and that is so much fun. But there are things to be mindful of and it is a challenge to keep the balance right. ‘Under Glass’ is a romance, its focus is on the relationship between Ollie and Kai so the world building and background needs to support and not overwhelm the story. I’m also very aware not to drown the reader in jargon or make them think they’ve accidentally wandered into a lecture.UnderGlass

Dreamspinner Press: Do you listen to music when you write? Snack? Drink tea/coffee/vodka?

I’m very fortunate that I can write pretty much wherever and don’t need specific places or rituals. I tend to curl up on the sofa so I can still be the same room as my family and don’t have to lock myself away. My hubby does provide tea on demand and the odd glass of wine when I’m writing after dinner.

Dreamspinner Press: How did you begin writing gay romance?

I didn’t set out to write gay romance. In fact, I didn’t realise it was a separate genre. I was writing a high fantasy novel and the only way the plot would work was if the two male main characters were in a romantic relationship. When I came to try and get it published I started looking around for a suitable publisher and market and discovered that gay romance was a genre in its own right. The high fantasy story was ‘Servitude’, my first published novel with Dreamspinner Press.

Dreamspinner Press: What are you working on next for readers?

One glance at my back catalogue and you’ll see I like to play in different genres. I’ve written historicals, contemporaries, fantasy and sci fi, and where I’m heading next is a contemporary novella series based around an amateur dramatics society. The series is called ‘Treading the Boards’ and the first novella, ‘Overlay Dramatic’, is already contracted to DSP (tentative release this summer). I submitted the second, ‘Summer Season’, at the end of March and I’m currently writing the final one – a Christmas story called ‘He’s Behind You’ – which I plan to submit before my summer holiday at the beginning of June. They are romantic comedies, each with a different leading couple. The first one includes a papier-mâché goat and a very bad play called ‘Whoops, Vicar. There Goes My Trousers’.

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Rebecca Cohen is a Brit abroad. Having swapped the Thames for the Rhine, she has left London behind and now lives with her husband and son in Basel, Switzerland. She can often be found with a pen in one hand and a cup of Darjeeling in the other.

Get to Know Renae Kaye

March 3, 2015

DSP: What is your dream vacation?

Relaxation.  Relaxation.  Relaxation.

I’m one of these weird people who has no huge desire to travel overseas, and I’m happy to stay in Australia and explore our lovely land.  I don’t mind the heat, but I’ve only ever seen snow once in my life – so I can’t picture cold vacations with snow, just hot ones with swimming.

My dream vacation would involve a house/cabin to stay in, not a hotel.  The cabin would be set on the edge of a beach, or in the middle of a forest, and would be surrounded by nature.  There would be lots and lots bushwalking nearby, swimming (either in an ocean or a natural pool in the tropical forest), maybe a bit of fishing, but it would be close enough to civilisation that I could get in the car and drive to a nice restaurant for dinner.

The point of the vacation would be to do nothing.  I could sit and read if I wanted, or stroll through the bush, or jump in the ocean.  Re.Lax.A.Tion.

DSP: Do you have a favorite character you’ve written so far?

**cringes with shame that she doesn’t love all her guys equally**

Yes.  I’m sorry to say to my other characters, but I adore Jay from Loving Jay the most.  He’s one of these characters you just cannot help but love.  There’s not a single sliver of hate or malice in his body.  He’s an open book to what he’s feeling, because he just opens his mouth and it all comes tumbling out.

He gets upset about animal testing for makeup. He takes over an hour to get dressed.  His restaurant order is so complicated that you just want to shout at him.  But gosh, you have to love him too.  If Liam hadn’t snapped him up, I would be rushing over there and taking him home with me.  Because most of all, Jay makes me happy.  He’s such a sweet, over-the-top, joyful, zany, loving guy, that he makes everyone around him happy too.

What is the oddest place Shawn and Harley have sex in Shawn’s Law, your forthcoming novel?

Oh, ha ha ha.  I’m not sure about it being an odd place, but one of my favourite scenes in this book is when Harley persuades Shawn to sneak off into the vegetation while at a beach.  To me, sex is about having fun, not just pleasure.  And Shawn’s Law has a lot of fun sex scenes.

In this scene, Harley and Shawn are visiting a local island off Perth for the day called Rottnest Island.  It was originally named “Rats Nest Island” because the early European explorers thought it was infested with large rats.  In fact, these animals are small marsupials called quokkas.  (Think miniature kangaroos).

So Shawn and Harley are getting funky when:

Suddenly he stopped, completely freezing in my arms and giving me a frightened look.

“What is it?” I questioned urgently. Had he heard something? Was someone coming?

“Harley? Where are your hands?”

I frowned. My hands? I was more worried about his hand around our dicks to think about my own hands. I flexed my fingers on each hand and found one on his shoulder and one threaded through his black hair. “Here and here. Why?”

“If your hands are there, then what’s touching me on my bum?”

We stared at each other for endless seconds before I raised my head and stretched my neck to peer over his body. Two black eyes stared back, unblinking. The creature wiggled its nose at me, then took a funny little hop forward, touching his whiskers to Shawn’s naked flesh.

“Harley? Please tell me that it’s not a snake?”

I bit back my smile. Shawn got all embarrassed when I laughed at his calamities. “No. Not a snake. Just a quokka,” I informed him.

He jumped a mile, scrambling over my body so that he was scrunched in the bushes on the opposite side from the little marsupial.

“Argh!”

I laughed. “Hey, buddy,” I crooned to the animal. “What are you doing here?”

“Touching my bum,” Shawn shrieked. “How dare he?”

I laughed harder. “He was just wondering what we were doing,” I soothed Shawn. “He wasn’t going to nibble your nuts or anything.”

“That’s what you think,” Shawn cried. “How do you know it’s a boy? Maybe he’s a queer quokka. Maybe he was coming over to join in?”

Poor Shawn – the wildlife are really out to get him in this book.

DSP: What is your writing space like? (if you wouldn’t mind sharing a picture we’d love that!)

My writing space is a white desk in what is known to my family as “The Craft Room.”

Several years back, we extended our house and everyone got an extra space to call their own.  My husband got a theatre room where he has the biggest, shiniest, (and most expensive) home theatre system going, complete with speakers and fancy do-dahs, that’s also hooked up to PS3 and Wii. My kids received a huge multi-purpose room that houses their toys, their drawings, their craft activities, their TV, their DVDs, etc.  This is where they spend their time if they’re not at school or outside playing.

And off to the side of this huge room is The Craft Room for me.

In this room I’m surrounded by “my” stuff – my paperback books, my craft magazines, my craft projects I’ve completed, my pictures for inspiration, my half-finished projects, my one-day-I’ll-finish-this projects, Christmas cards from dear friends, toys kept from my childhood, and framed pictures of my book covers.  It’s very junkie, its window has a view of the fence and the neighbour’s air-conditioning system (yay), but it’s home and comfort for me.

And most importantly?  I have clear sight of the kids in their space so I can keep an eye on them.

Renae Kaye's Writing Room

Renae Kaye’s Writing Room

DSP: Coffee or tea?  

Coffee, coffee, coffee all the way.

DSP: Chocolate or peanut butter?  

Chocolate. Especially white chocolate with something gooey in the center.

DSP: Print books or ebooks?

Both.  My budget says eBooks.  Portability says eBooks.  But you can’t help loving print books.  It’s so much easier to browse a bookshelf, than scroll through lists and try to remember the name of the book.

DSP: Wine or beer? 

Um.  Neither.  I actually don’t drink alcohol.  I tried it when I was 18, but I didn’t like it, so I prefer cola when I go out.  Did you need a designated driver?

DSP: Cats or dogs? 

Cats.  I have three.  All of them are sitting less than a meter from me.  It’s their dinner time and they think I may forget.
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Renae Kaye is a lover and hoarder of books who thinks libraries are devilish places because they make you give the books back.  She consumed her first adult romance book at the tender age of thirteen and hasn’t stopped since.  After years – and thousands of stories! – of not having book characters do what she wants, she decided she would write her own novel and found the characters still didn’t do what she wanted.  It hasn’t stopped her though.  She believes that maybe one day the world will create a perfect couple – and it will be the most boring story ever.  So until then she is stuck with quirky, snarky and imperfect characters who just want their story told.

Renae lives in Perth, Western Australia and writes in five minute snatches between the demands of two kids, a forbearing husband, too many pets, too much housework and her beloved veggie garden.  She is a survivor of being the youngest in a large family and believes that laughter (and a good book) can cure anything.

RAOK Release Party: Indra Vaughn & Lane Swi

February 16, 2015

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To celebrate the release of the Random Acts of Kindness anthology today, some of the authors will be sharing with you a little glimpse behind each of their stories.

 

Hi everyone! Thank you for stopping by. My name is Indra Vaughn and I’m here to talk to you about the Random Act of Kindness Anthology, specifically the story Two For Joy.

The tale takes place in the city of Lincoln, UK. I actually lived there for three years before I moved to Cambridge, and absolutely loved the small city so I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to use the setting. The view of the cathedral when you drive into town is breathtakingly stunning.

 

Indra_Lincoln Cathedral

 

When Matt, the main character in the story, arrives in Lincoln he’s a bit too overwhelmed to notice how beautiful the place is, though. He just got in from Belgium, only to find out the university doesn’t have the promised dorm room for him, so he’s homeless! He tries to find another place to live but has no luck until a gorgeous, tall British guy kindly offers to help him out. Matt quickly finds himself embraced by a slightly odd English family, and loves it.

Now, Matt was born with a congenital amputation: one leg ends just above the knee. When I grew up I had a friend who was born with one arm amputated below the elbow, and while we lost touch when she moved, I never forgot her. The completely fearless way she went at life had me admire her even at a very young age. How she faced stares from strangers and how she got around doing all the daily things I could barely do with two hands was amazing. (Like putting her hair in a ponytail. As a little kid this completely fascinated me, like only kids can be unselfconsciously fascinated by these things.)

So in a way Matt is my little tribute to her. His prosthetic leg is there, and it’s completely normal as far as he’s concerned, and if people want to stare at it that’s their problem.

Apart from Gran. Gran doesn’t mince her words and he loves her for it.

I hope you like this little story and I’d love to hear any and all feedback from you.

With me here is Lane Swift, whose story also takes place in England, but I’ll let her tell you all about it. We’re actually good friends, and I am absolutely thrilled that she’s in this anthology too. You will love her story guys, it’s absolutely amazing, and I hope it will serve as an introduction to other amazing things to come from Lane!

Have a wonderful day!

Indra

 

 

Hi! I’m Lane. Yes, Indra and I became friends when I lived in the USA, and have stayed friends even though I’m back in the UK now. Europeans have ways of finding each other, no matter what part of the world they’re in! I’ve read her story, and I know you’ll love it.

I thought I’d use this opportunity to elaborate on the setting for my anthology story, The Blue Umbrella. After that, I’ll be interviewing one of my characters, Vik. (The story is told from Andy’s point of view, and Vik wanted to get the chance to have his say.)

Land’s End is a rugged headland in Cornwall, England, characterised by high granite cliffs and crashing waves. It’s the most westerly place in mainland England. According to the font of all knowledge that is Wikipedia: Land’s End has a particular resonance because it is often used to suggest distance. Land’s End to John o’ Groats in Scotland is a distance of 838 miles by road and this … distance is often used to define charitable events such as end-to-end walks and races in the UK.

Lane_Land's End

In The Blue Umbrella, Andy Haynes, dying of cancer, completes what he believes is the final leg of his journey from John o’Groats to Land’s End. However, when he meets Vik, while sitting on a bench on the headland, he discovers his journeying isn’t quite over.

Me: What did you think when you first saw Andy, sitting alone on a bench looking out to sea?

Vik: I couldn’t see his face at first, but from the way he sat, he seemed sad. I wasn’t sure whether to approach him. I thought maybe he wanted to be alone. Something inside urged me to go ahead though, and I’m glad I did. When I spoke to him he looked at me and, although I could see he was unwell, he was still striking. Some people have that, don’t they? The ability to capture your imagination with just a look or a smile. That was definitely Andy.

Me: So you offered Andy your umbrella because you fancied him?

(Vik laughs and looks down into his lap. I think his cheeks are burning.)

Vik: No, I would have done the same for anyone. But maybe I wouldn’t have sat quite so close if it had been someone I wasn’t attracted to. (Vik smiles again.)

Me: What would you say to anyone who doesn’t believe a story with a dying man can have a happy ending?

Vik: Believe! Cornwall is a place of wonder and magic. Anything is possible.

 

I hope you enjoy the story!

Lane

 

Indra Vaughn Author Page Here.

Lane Swift Author Page Here.

Check out Random Acts of Kindness here!

Get to Know P.D. Singer

February 3, 2015

DSP: Give us some inside information about the leads in your new book, A New Man.

PD: Our MCs are a couple of students at the University of Colorado, sharing an apartment. Warren’s a grad student in an organic chemistry lab, who has a silent crush on his roommate. He’s not about to make a pass at Chad, who seems straight, but he can wish. Chad’s friendzoned every girl he’s dated, and there is that inevitable question… What if?

Chad’s also a scientific type, so—get some data. With Warren. Oh yeah, there are some curled toes, but some problems to go with it, which the poor guys will spend the rest of the book resolving.

I had some fun with intelligent, athletic, and sweet Chad. Cue Halestorm’s “Mz. Hyde.” Or Mr. Hyde, in this case. Muwhhaahaaah…. Oh, sorry. I got carried away there.

Chad traded skin-tight Speedos and competitive swimming for padded suits and a (insert phallic euphemism here). Oh, get your minds out of the gutter. He’s on the fencing team! Warren has a five year plan, and a ten year plan, and give him a calculator and a half-hour and he’ll solve your biggest problem. Just don’t get in his way or attempt to push around folks he cares about. Need help with homework? He’s your best friend. Hurt his loved one? Moving to another state might be a good idea.

Did I mention the rats? Oh, yes, there are rats! And not just the ones in the Terry Prachett book that Chad adores. Warren’s best buddy Gabrielle has a whole lab full, so cute with white fur and pink toes. Wait! Where’d Warren go? Warren, come back here. You dropped your chemistry journal! I promise you don’t have to hold a rat. Much.

DSP: What is the most challenging thing about writing gay romance for you?

PD: When I think of two characters who’d be perfect for each other, it seems like they’re looking at me saying, “Hey, lady! Just get out of our way and let us be in love!” I want them to be happy, so my first inclination is to go directly to the HEA.

Everyone’s pleased, right? No!

They’re humping like bunnies and we have no story. I have this here plot they’re supposed to star in.

So I have to remind myself they aren’t perfect for each other yet, and then I torture them make them work twice as hard for their happiness.

DSP: What are some of your writing inspirations?

One of my local libraries has a rotating display, where they set out a number of books on a theme. It could be fiction or non-fiction. My challenge to myself is to check out the book in the lower left corner, no matter what it is, just to keep my horizons stretched. I’ve found some great reads, some mehs, some DNFs, and a couple of plot bunnies.  The Rare Event was spawned from one challenge book. Another provided medical insight for the character that became Chad in A New Man.

There are also bit and pieces of my own adventures mixed into the stew. Allan’s fall on the ski slopes (Fall Down the Mountain) was, alas, my own tumble. The prototypes for Kurt, Jake, and their tanker (Fire on the Mountain, etc) found my Cub Scouts while on a camping trip, and yes, we danced in the spray from the fire truck’s hose—only not with shirtless rangers. Warren would have fit right into the chemistry lab where I worked as an undergrad (although I probably had more explosions).

DSP: Do you have characters from your writing that haunt you?

Once I’ve told their stories completely, my characters tend to leave me alone. If someone is unquiet in my head, they have further adventures that I will have to write, sooner or later. Davis from The Rare Event is one such, though I don’t know what his story will be yet. Jake and Kurt make themselves known periodically, which fits with the partial stories on the hard drive.

DSP: Your profile says you measure your cats by the pound. Why? How many cats in thirty pounds?

Two, if they’re behemoths like mine. I used to have thirty-five pounds of cats, but Old Man Cat is getting skinnier with age. He’s almost eighteen. I’ve measured them by weight ever since both of them sat on my lap at the same time and squished me with love.

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P.D. Singer lives in Colorado with her slightly bemused husband, two rowdy teenage boys, and thirty pounds of cats, all of whom approach carefully when she’s in a writing frenzy. She’s a big believer in research, first-hand if possible, so the reader can be quite certain P.D. has skied down a mountain face-first, been stepped on by rodeo horses, acquired a potato burn or two, and will never, ever, write a novel that includes sky-diving.

When not writing, playing her fiddle, or skiing, she can be found with a book in hand. Her husband blesses the advent of ebooks — they’re staving off the day the house collapses from the weight of the printed page.

Find P.D. on Twitter, Facebook, Facebook author page, her blog, and Goodreads

Get to Know K.C. Wells

January 6, 2015

Do any of your characters haunt you and if so, why?

I really don’t think any of my characters haunt me. Sean’s predicament in Learning to Love: Final Exam, now, that’s another matter. I cried writing those scenes. Even now when I read the scene before he goes in for surgery, I tear up.  What comes across is how scared he is – and how much he loves his husband Michael.

Please give us the inside scoop on your upcoming release, A Bond of Three.

This was one of my first ideas for a book, back in 2012, only it wouldn’t leave me alone. Having said that, the novel changed direction when I got to the chapter introducing Prince Sorran. He was….different. And when I got my head around that, I suddenly had a very different plan for the story.

I met with author Chris Quinton in the summer of 2012, when she came to visit the Isle of Wight where I live. I outlined the story for her. She listened intently, and when I’d finished, she looked me in the eye and said, “you have to write that book.” Whoa.

I admit to being a little nervous. So far I’ve written either contemporary or BDSM. This was A, an MMM story, B, a fantasy and C with an added dash of paranormal for good measure – yeah, nothing liked anything I’d written to date. When I first started sending chapters to my betas, I was getting the same response….

“I don’t like fantasy.”

“I don’t like ménage.”

“Hell, woman, give me MORE!!!!”

I sent an advance copy to a friend who doesn’t normally ‘do’ ménage – three guesses what her response was? LOL

So yes, I am awaiting the response from my readers with mixed feelings.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?

HA! My close friends would say, “But she’s always writing!!!!” Er, I read, I love watching movies, I knit, I used to paint, but writing is far more satisfying. But there’s always my notebook not far away – I’ve learnt by now to keep it close. Ideas come ALL the time! But yes, it’s true that if I were writing more, I’d be a happy bunny.

What’s one of your guilty pleasure?

OOOH….Snuggling up with a good book, usually one that I know really well – the Deviations series by Chris Owen, ANY of the Jarhead series by Sean Michael,  the Jock Dorm series by Bobby Michaels, (One of the first MM series I ever read and I still love them)

Then there’s my other guilty pleasure… and nope, you’re hearing NOTHING about that one! ;-)

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Born and raised in the north-west of England, K.C. Wells always loved writing. Words were important. Full stop. However, when childhood gave way to adulthood, the writing ceased, as life got in the way.

K.C. discovered erotic fiction in 2009, where the purchase of a ménage storyline led to the startling discovery that reading about men in love was damn hot. In 2012, arriving at a really low point in life led to the desperate need to do something creative. An even bigger discovery waited in the wings—writing about men in love was even hotter….

K.C. now writes full time and is loving every minute of her new career. The laptop still has no idea of what hit it… it only knows that it wants a rest, please. And it now has to get used to the idea that where K.C goes, it goes.

K.C. can be reached via e-mail, on Facebook, or through comments at the K.C. Wells website. K.C. loves to hear from readers.

Get to Know Skylar M. Cates

December 2, 2014

How did you come up with the title for The Guy series?

That’s a funny story. I had a title for the series all planned out. Book one was to be titled Better than Candy, and the series titled the “Better Than” series. Well, right after I submitted book one, my fellow DSP author Lane Hayes came out with a book called Better Than Good.  Yikes!  I had to find something else and fast. Since book one was set in the fictitious town of Glamour, I decided to call it The Guy from GlamourThe Guy series was born from that decision. I think it all worked out for the best!

Do you have a favorite couple that you’ve written?

No, but I do get obsessed with whatever couple I’m focused on most recently. My new series, for example, has the first book releasing in February, and I fell hard for this couple. I never intended to write Cole and Ian’s story at all. It came rushing out like a locomotive. Their story involves sudden tragedy. It gave me all kinds of strong feels to write, and I hope readers will embrace it. It’s called Here for You and will be out in February. What I love about the story is that it’s also a story of friendship. It revolves around five roommates in South Florida and the strong bond they all have for each other. Today it is my favorite, but tomorrow I’ll have a totally different answer.

The truth is I fall in love with different aspects of each MC.

My two December releases have four guys to love. Evan, from The Holiday Hoax, is self-deprecating and sweet— a combination I love—while JD is lonely and shy.   Henry from The Last Guy Breathing has gone through the awful dating scene and needs some love. Locke is flawed yet deeply protective, which is another combination I fall for in a character.

What are some of your favorite books, music and movies?

My kids are watching School of Rock this week, and I adore this movie.  I love many of Robin Williams’s films, especially The World According to Garp. And let’s see… Since it is the holiday season, I would pick A Christmas Story and It’s a Wonderful Life as two favorite holiday flicks.

As for music, I like classic and current rock. Some of my favorites would be The Killers, Aerosmith, and Train.   I enjoy putting on a fun dance band too like the B52s or The Black Eyed Peas. I love dancing, but I do most of my dancing in my living room these days.

Books would be impossible to name only a few favorites. Sorry!  I seriously fall in love with a new book every other month.

Can you briefly share what your writing process is?

Get butt into chair and write, lol. I write as much as possible, but I don’t write daily. My kids, my messy house, and my other responsibilities often steal the time away. I’d love to be one of those Type A writers who charts their progress and counts their daily words, but it never seems to happen for me. As long as I see the novel developing, though, I’m satisfied to follow my own haphazard process.  Once the first draft is complete, I’ll go through several more versions with tough self-edits and beta readers before submitting it. I’m tough on myself and it is hard to let the WIP go.

Cake or pie? Coffee or tea? Chocolate or peanut butter?

Pie  ( I love all kinds)

Coffee (I can never drink enough)

Both (Why pick between chocolate and peanut butter? Reese’s is fine with me)

Happy holidays!

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Skylar M. Cates loves a good romance. She is quite happy to drink some coffee, curl up with a good book, and not move all day. Most days, however, Skylar is chasing after her husband, her kids, and her giant dog, Wasabi. Skylar dreams about spending her days writing her novels, walking along the beach, and making more time for her good friends. On a shoestring budget, Skylar has traveled all over in her early years. Although, lately, the laundry room is the farthest place she has visited, Skylar still loves to chat with people from all around the globe. Visit Skylar on her website.

And the Winner is…..

November 11, 2014

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Hello Everyone,

Beau, Tollison and I want to thank you for following along today and for taking the time to look up and answer all our questions. The questions and answers are below:

“What’s another name for the French Quarter?”

The Vieux Carre’ is the other name for the French Quarter.

“What streets and landmarks define and border the French Quarter?”

The most common definition of the French Quarter includes all the land stretching along the Mississippi River from Canal Street to Esplanade Avenue (13 blocks) and inland to North Rampart Street

“All other states in the country are divided by counties. What divides Louisiana?”

Louisiana is made up of “Parishes.”

“There are four other nicknames for the city of New Orleans in addition to The Big Easy. Give us any one of them.”

NOLA, The Crescent City, The Birthplace of Jazz, Mardi Gras City and The Big Easy are just some of the other names for New Orleans.

“There are nine historic plantations in Louisiana. Name any one of them.”

Destrehan Plantation, Evergreen Plantation, Houmas House Plantation, Laura: A Creole Plantation, Oak Alley Plantation, Ormond Plantation, Poche Plantation, San Francisco Plantation, and St. Joseph Plantation are the nine major plantations in Louisiana.

 

So without further delay, here are the winners:

1. Jen CW

2. Sula

3. Trix

Please email me at scottycade@gmail.com with your DSP bookshelf and I’ll have the books downloaded ASAP. Thank you so much for playing along and I look forward to our next time together.

Scotty