September 26, 2014
I’m going to open up some time for you all to ask me whatever burning questions you might have. Could be as simple as to what color my socks are, to what are my plans for the next Gem book. Might even share a bit about the Dominion series if asked nicely. You can even ask about my YA titles. So here you go. What sort of questions are burning a hole in your gut?
September 26, 2014
Shoes—Ask anyone to describe Aki with one word and they will say “Shoes.” He loves the superficial glitter and glam of his companion lifestyle. Pretty hair pins and sparkly shoes help him forget some the terrible past. He pretends that was all a movie he saw once and he really didn’t live it.
Candy disappeared into the closet for a minute, coming back out with the jumper. “I’m thinking a lace jock. Should I go white for pure fuck-me madness or pink for sugary sweet?”
Candy dug the jock out of his drawer and slipped it on, adjusting everything like the pro he was.
“You really do have more underwear than anyone I know.”
“One word, Aki—Shoes.” Heat filled Aki’s face. Yeah, they were even.
He collects shoes like some people collect knickknacks. The more sparkly the better. Do you have a pair of dream shoes? Pictures please.
September 26, 2014
This book was a step outside several comfort zones for me. First it’s in third person, which I find very challenging because I really want to delve deeply into each characters head but find a lot of characters in one story confusing. I actually began writing Hidden Gem as first person but later changed it because I wanted to show Shane’s point of view as well as Aki’s since Aki is a very unreliable narrator.
The second challenge was the D/s portion of the book. I chatted a long time with several people in the life and perfected as much as I could before taking those things back to them to ask if I was close. Any mistakes I made in this is purely my incompetence not theirs. This is in no way meant to be a BDSM book. However Aki needs structure in his life, someone to take care of him and keep his feet on the ground. J
Paris trains all the companions and believes structure is necessary to their safety and happiness. He is also faced with the task of disciplining those who break the rules. Including the Hidden Gem’s number one companion:
The guards led him inside and up the stairs to Paris’s immaculate suite. They left him standing in the doorway and disappeared back down the stairs. No reason for them to stay. Aki wouldn’t be in this room long. Not if Paris truly meant to punish him. The dungeon was down two floors and tucked away where no one would stumble across it by accident.
Paris sat on the white leather couch, feet up, facing away from the door. The lights cast a reflection of Aki in the window as the sun was beginning to set. He glanced over his outfit again. Would Paris approve? He probably should have worn something easy to strip out of instead of dressing to impress.
Aki frowned and lowered his eyes. “I’m sorry. I can wait downstairs until you’re ready.”
“I’m not the one who needs to be ready, Misaki. I’ve been hearing a lot of not-good things about your exploits of late. Care to give me your version?” Paris rose from his seat and crossed the room to stand in front of Aki.
“I stayed out one night. I got lost. Didn’t have my phone—”
“Sounds a lot like excuses to me,” Paris interrupted. He reached out and traced Aki’s face with his fingertips. Aki closed his eyes as the feeling of a gentle rain caressed his mind. “You dressed nice.”
Aki didn’t reply.
“What do you say?”
“Thank you, Master.”
“You haven’t earned the right to call me that.”
“Sir, sorry, Sir.”
“What are your safewords?” Paris asked, probably more to remind Aki he had the option than because he didn’t know them.
“Red and yellow, Sir.”
“Hard stop and pause. I know your limits, Misaki. Do you?” Paris ran his hands across the shoulder of the sweater. “I see this couture has become your armor. That is well and fine for work, but not here. Strip and present.”
Aki moved without even contemplating the order, removing his shoes, his top, his skirt, and finally the delicate underwear he’d chosen. He folded everything in a neat pile and left them on the floor beside his feet, his phone on top of the stack. He stood shoulders straight, head down, hands gripping his elbows behind his back. The numerous windows open to the world had a flush heating his skin. Anyone could see him. Sure, they were on the second floor, but Paris had guards everywhere. Anyone could be watching him. Even the South. The nasty thought whispered through his mind as he remembered the chip that was supposedly embedded in his back.
“You’re shivering. Are you cold?” Paris asked.
“Hmm.” Paris walked around him, examining him as he had that first day. Aki had been so scrawny then and covered in scars they thought they could never get rid of. His skin had been stretched tight across his bones from starvation, making him little more than a skeleton masquerading as a person. “You’re afraid? You are afraid. Yet unapologetic.”
“I’m sorry, Sir,” Aki said quickly. His heart hammered in his chest. He’d been through this a hundred times, knew the drill, the rules. Paris couldn’t really hurt him unless Aki let him. Why was he so afraid? Memories of the camp and the torture kept filling his mind, but that was all before….
“What are you sorry for?”
“For staying out.”
“I’m not sorry for seeing McNaughton.”
“Hmm.” Paris disappeared for a moment only to return with a blindfold. Aki didn’t try to stop him from tying it in place. No light filtered through the cloth at all, and for a moment Aki was disoriented.
The book has very mild D/s. It is more about Aki’s mindset and how he has chosen to survive all that has been done to him.
We all like to stay in our comfort zones. What have you done lately to push your boundaries and open up your world? How did it turn out? Best answer wins an ecopy of anything from my backlist. Winner announced at 7pm CST
September 26, 2014
Aki truly becomes the shining star of the Hidden Gem. He’s the most favored companion in the entire red light district—his best friend Candy a close second. But Aki has a thing for a certain Irish cop. Shane McNaughton survived the plague of WW3 but it mutated him. He no longer ages, has super human healing abilities, and is forced to change into an animal each month. At nearly a century old there isn’t much Shane hasn’t seen. He’s the head of Missing Persons and recently discovered a certain companion at the Hidden Gem has the ability to find the missing with just a touch. Shane also can’t help but enjoy Aki’s other talents.
But not everything is all booze and a quick polish as Shane would like. He’s got a case with a bunch of dead teenagers. Slaughtered, parts missing, and another kid vanishes—this time a senator’s daughter. The press and officials want his ass on fire for the case, but the leads say the monster they are hunting isn’t human. Shane turns to Aki for help awakening something darker inside the companion that should have remained buried:
With a sigh Aki tugged off his right glove and let his fingers brush the fabric. The room at the Hidden Gem vanished instantly. He raced through the streets of City M, rushing by buildings, cars, people, then to a bedroom. The posters of boy bands hung on the walls and bright bedding decorating the bed said this was the sanctuary of a teenage girl. He knew that what he was holding was a T-shirt. Mandy, the missing girl, had gotten it from her best friend for her last birthday. If Aki unfolded it, he’d have seen the band logo decorating the front and that it was well-worn from constant use. She stared at herself in the mirror for a minute, smiled at the reflection. So young. A happy kid, the world at her fingertips. Obviously she had everything she could ever have wanted. So what had gone wrong?
The world shifted, swirling by fast enough to nearly knock him over with vertigo. He saw Just Shoes and the dark streets, the shoes he wanted so badly, and Mandy’s thoughts about being a princess. Then she’d been taken. Pain exploded in her brain only briefly, then darkness. Only when she awoke, the pain returned, worse than anything Aki had ever experienced before, white-hot, breath-stealing pain. He tried to reason through it, remind himself it wasn’t really him that was hurting, clear his vision, anything to catch a glimpse of something that might show where she was. His head felt like it’d been set on fire, pain beginning around his eyes and spreading outward, down the heavy weight of his body. His limbs were unmovable, unresponsive, almost like they weren’t there. Something hot dripped down his cheeks and over his chest, not hot enough to burn, but warmer, thicker, and heavier than water would be. The distinct “plink” of liquid hitting the ground was the only sound. Aki called to her like he’d never tried before. Would she hear? Could she respond even if she did?
“Mandy? Where are you?”
The pain intensified, sending him spinning in a circle of wary confusion for a few minutes before becoming a suffocating weight on his chest. Blind to the world around him, and not in the way of a blindfold, he tried to reason through his other senses. The realization hit him, and he couldn’t help but try to pull himself away. He knew it was a mistake the second it happened. His world solidified with hers, and he screamed through her lips at the horror, the sound ratcheting off many walls and through a cavernous space. He fought to free himself with every ounce of strength he had as the memory of her eyes being torn out filled him. Thankfully everything went dark and the connection snapped away, taking with it all the pain.
We all read about people with super powers or psychic abilities and think hey that’s cool. Aki has an ability to see everything from a person he touches, which means he has to keep the world at a distance.
What power would you find it most difficult to live with and why? Want your name in a book? Best answer gets added to my next adult title.
September 26, 2014
Aki’s life is nothing short of miraculous. Thrown out by his family for being both a psi and gay he’s dragged off for experimentation at the concentration camps only to later escape and nearly starve to death in the cruel, unwielding world that the War created. One man offers him a
chance to escape by selling his body and favors to other men as a companion:
Misaki sucked in a deep, cold breath, wondering when he’d finally die. How long had it been since he’d last eaten? A week, maybe more? He couldn’t remember the taste of food. Even the gruel they got in the concentration camp had been better than nothing. The cold frost of winter covered the streets and made him shiver. Layers of dirty clothes stolen from the trash and other homeless didn’t help. Somehow the wind blew right through him.
He huddled in a doorway in the heart of the City M slums. There had been talk of police enforcement sweeping through, jailing those like him, throwing others out of town. He could hope for jail. It had a roof, heat, and inmates got food. If he hadn’t just escaped the containment camps of the south, he’d have thought anything would be better than this endless cold and gnawing hunger. But really he’d had it much worse.
People wandered by him. Some even paused to stare. Did he look so awful? “Spare some food?” he whispered, not too proud to beg, but knowing well enough not to meet their eyes. A shadow loomed over him, then another joined the first. He should have been afraid, but they could do nothing that hadn’t already been done. Any violence against him now would likely kill him, and he had longed for death for years.
“He’s a child,” one voice said.
“Small, but I bet he’s legal or will be soon. Good bone structure. Could be pretty with some meat on him,” another replied.
“I have people begging to work for me. What do I need of a street urchin starved near to death?”
“A hidden gem. Give me six weeks with him, and he’ll be one of your biggest earners. I did promise when I bought out my contract that I’d find you a comparable replacement.”
“How can you see this as your replacement, Paris? He’s a psi. People will run the second they glimpse those eerie eyes.”
Their banter bounced back and forth like Misaki couldn’t hear them. He squinted to try to make out the figures without blatantly staring at them. One was younger, handsome, dressed up like some sort of dandy or a prince from a storybook. The other stood tall and firm like a soldier. Misaki cringed away from the older man, too many memories of beatings, experiments, and pain.
“You had a brother who was psi, did you not? You once told me he went missing at a young age. How would you feel if the world treated him like this? Left him out here to die like a rat? I plan to put an end to this homelessness in my new job. No matter how the other senators fight me, I will use my own money if I have to. No child should end up like this.” The younger man was speaking. He knelt down, reaching his hand out. “What if I offer you food, shelter, and safety, little one? Would you come with us?”
False promises. Misaki’d had a lot of those. “What do you want me to do?” he whispered, not daring to hope. No more experiments—please, if there was any sort of god or goddess of life and death, there would be no more. He’d go with them anyway, if only to hasten death. Surely it would take him sooner rather than later. He had already endured so much. The pretty man before him could be an angel from the darkest bowels of hell, and Misaki would still go with him. Maybe he could be warm for a few minutes. Or even have the endless ache in his stomach eased by a bit of broth. He could only dream of having someone to hold him again like Hyeon had. Hope was by far the cruelest of emotions.
“My friend here offers contracts for favors. You’ll have food, shelter, security, all the clothes and pretty things you could ever hope for, and all you have to do is work for him. Ease the troubles of others, provide pleasure, and be all they hope to ever attain, even if it’s only for a half an hour.”
“You want me to be a prostitute?” Misaki couldn’t see anyone wanting the battered shell he was, starved, emaciated, ugly. Who would pay for that? And then there was his curse. “I can’t touch people. I see things….”
The older man sighed. “Useless, Paris. If you want a charity case, so be it. But I don’t know how I can use him.”
“Six weeks, Bart. What is your name, child?” the younger man, Paris, asked.
“Misaki. Misaki Itou.” Please take me with you. Or kill me. Anything but leave me in this misery for one more day.
“A shining star indeed. Six weeks, Bart, and you’ll be unable to hide the brightness of this little gem.”
Sometimes all we really need in a time of struggle is a helping hand or an encouraging smile. Often it’s the littlest things that make the biggest difference. I had a lot of help with this book. Not just in those who helped me with research and beta read the book for me, but also those who encouraged me to keep writing through a really hard year.
Who has inspired you lately and how?
September 26, 2014
In between crafting this new book and the still half-finished Dominion 5 I took a little break from adult m/m romance writing to write a couple m/m ya books under the pen name Sam Kadence: Evolution and On the Right Track. Sequels for both are due out later this year. The Hidden Gem took longer because the world was more intense, deeper, darker, and more painful. Evolution is full of angst and paranormal critters, but it’s based in an alternate version of today. Hidden Gem is speculation of the future—a not so bright future.
Crafting the world came in pieces. Characters first, then situation, then backstory. I probably write a little backwards from most people. Often I don’t know the ending of the book until I get there. Sure I have a general sort of idea. Like maybe I want this to happen, but often that happens instead. With this story it kept pulling surprises out of the most unexpected places. For example, I expected shapeshifters, but not the unusual sort that appears in the end of the book—no spoilers here, sorry.
Just like the Dominion series where I have unusual shifters like lynx, bears, and dolphins—oh my!—Hidden Gem features some shifters outside the norm. Instead of magic for an explanation of the change, I use science. In fact it all starts with this little thing called World War III. Writing the book was a battle, a war in my own head. Had to break down some walls and thought putting that war in the book and how it changed everything would make for a more intense story.
The War begins with a race between countries to create the greatest weapons and super soldier unearths a deadly discovery—a virus that wipes out more than a third of the population. Those who survive being exposed to the virus mutate and the entire human race has begun to change, some developing supernatural powers for which society shuns them:
Sometimes Aki wondered if the stench would ever fade. It lingered, days after a pit of the dead had been set on fire. A new batch of bodies had to have been burned that night. The air and soot covered everything,
and the smell made him retch. How long had Aki sat there, staring into the fire as it consumed corpse after mangled corpse? Just like his own body, ragged people, sick with malnourishment, some missing limbs or scarred from some horrible experiment gone wrong. All with the strange pale pupils in their eyes, the mark of the psi. Punishment for something done a half century ago in another country a world away.
Most of the faces were Asian, though almost none had ever set foot on another continent. Genetic experiments altering the human code to plant a psi ability that was then used in the Third World War turned any who was psi into a villain. Fifty years later, most of the original psis were dead, their children suffered, and the gene flourished, taking root in the most random of children and no longer constrained to foreign soil and faces.
Only a handful could have passed for Caucasian in the camp, other than the guards, of course. Were it not for the shape of his eyes and the color, would Aki ever have been taken? His stomach hurt too much to think about it for long anyway. When was the last time he’d eaten? Days? Maybe a week ago?
Hyeon dragged him to bed sometime after the wailing had died down. The sky was still dark, like the promise of rain that would never come, everyone huddled together on the cold floor for warmth. The building had been some sort of warehouse before the war. Now it was falling down, holes in the roof, birds roosting in the rafters, rats scurrying through the walls, and them.
One of the guards stepped inside, eyes searching the masses, for what, Aki could only fear. But then the detainees weren’t much different than the rats, just another form of pest to be exterminated.
Aki should have slept when Hyeon had laid his dark head next to his, but all he could see was the flame devouring the mutilated bodies of people he’d come to know and see every day. When had he begun to think of them as something more than “them”? In the beginning it had simply been them and him. As long as it happened to them, it was okay.
Until they’d taken a pretty little girl named GuEal away. She’d been seven. Aki had watched what was left of her burn up in the pit. Dry heaved for a while since he hadn’t eaten in days, and prayed to whatever might have more power than soldiers and guards of the containment camp that no more would die, or at least, if he had to, it would be fast.
“H78420, on your feet,” a guard was shouting. It took a minute for the words to seep through the exhaustion and hunger to realize he was talking to Aki. “H78420, now.” The man pulled out a stick and jabbed him with it, delivering a heavy jolt of electricity that had Aki’s spine bowing in pain. “H78420, get up.”
Hyeon dragged him to his feet. “Just do what they say, Aki. Please. Whatever they ask you to do, just do it.”
Aki glanced back at Hyeon’s pretty black eyes, his pupils a pale brown that he’d come to think of as comforting, and wanted to cry. The guard zapped him again, dropping him to his knees.
“Stop, stop, please. He’s coming. Please.” Hyeon pulled Aki up again just as a handful of guards joined the first. They ripped him away from Hyeon, dragging him toward the door. Everything seemed to narrow down to that final trip across the dirty floor toward the dark portal leading to only Goddess knew where. Maybe they’d just throw him in the pit and light him on fire too. At least then it would all be over.
His heart pounded in his chest as two guards remained behind, pushing Hyeon around like he was nothing more than an injured dog to be put down. Aki wanted to beg, anything to free himself and Hyeon from whatever they would do next, but couldn’t find the strength to raise his head or force the words from his parched lips. That had been the last time he’d ever seen Hyeon alive.
A series of medical problems and a couple well-placed documentaries on the Holocaust helped inspire this dark backstory. The book is a look ahead in a world where science is allowed to do whatever they want with only nature as a roadblock. And of course without supervision comes corruption.
Sometimes the darkest stories help us realize that there is light in our lives that make everything so worth every struggle. Without a hard year I probably would never have written this book.
What positive thing came out of a situation you just thought was going to destroy you? Best story wins ebook copy of Hidden Gem. Winner announced at 5 pm CST tonight.
September 26, 2014
Hey all this is Lissa Kasey. You probably know me for that witch story. Or the hot vampire guy. The Dominion series—which currently has four titles—was my first foray into the publishing world. A couple years of experience, a few other books under a different pen name, and I’ve got a brand new series to engage all lovers of the paranormal. I hope you guys love this book as much as I do.
Dreamspinner Press is letting me take over their blog today. Host a few giveaways and tell you a bit about my writing and the world of the Hidden Gem:s to engage all lovers of the paranormal. I hope you guys love this book as much as I do.
Misaki “Aki” Itou is a psi—a person with mutated DNA granting him psychic abilities. He’s also a contracted companion—a whore. It may not be the perfect profession, but having a roof over his head, food to eat, and not being subjected to torture is a dream come true. He is the top companion at the Hidden Gem, and it makes him enough money to buy the prettiest, most sparkly shoes he can find.
Shane McNaughton is an Irishman who survived the Third World War and works as a cop. Head of Missing Persons, he’s good at finding people, but after the plague of the Third mutated his DNA, he has a hard time letting anyone see the monster inside. He’s been paying for Aki’s services for two years, both the psi and the sexual kind, but he wants more from the companion.
Shane needs Aki’s ability to see into another person’s past to track down a serial killer murdering the children of rich and powerful men, but the more they work together, the clearer it becomes that they are linked through a darker past than either of them realizes.
I’ll have a couple giveaways, including ecopies of Hidden Gem and the chance to get your name in my next book.
September 25, 2014
I want to thank everyone who stopped in today and took the time to post their thoughts. I appreciate each and every one of you!
The winner are:
2. Andrea M.
Please contact me at email@example.com and let me how to get to your bookshelf and what format you’d like.
Thanks so much for spending the day with me.
September 25, 2014
So here’s how you can win an ebook of “Acting Out.”
Let me know what you think about the whole “Gay for Pay” industry. Truth or myth? Do you think its possible or realistic for two men to be straight and have gay sex? I’m really interested in your opinion so don’t be shy. Everyone who comments will be put into the drawing and I’ll give away three copies of the ebook.
You’ve got until 4:45 to posts and I’ll announce the winner this evening at 5:00pm EST.
And just as a sneak peak, here’s what’s coming in November.
When a valuable piece of Civil War art is stolen from a popular New Orleans gallery, NOPD Lead Detective Montgomery “Beau” Bissonet and his partner set out to solve the crime. When the gallery’s insurance company sends Tollison Cruz to the Big Easy to conduct their own independent investigation, personalities clash and battle lines are definitely drawn.
The heist quickly becomes a politically driven high profile case, and Detective Bissonet is furious when he’s ordered to work along side Investigator Cruz to assure a timely arrest. The heat index soars to new levels when the two investigators discover they have a lot more in common then originally thought.
With the tension between them temporarily sated, Bissonet and Cruz finally start to work together, on more then just a professional level. But everything comes to a screeching halt when Beau discovers his cohort in crime has been withholding information regarding the investigation and has been concealing a very questionable past. What happens next rivals the scorching summer heat.
Be sure to look for “Acting Out” by Scotty Cade available now from Dreamspinner Press.
Scotty Cade Bio:
Scotty Cade left Corporate America and twenty-five years of Marketing and Public Relations behind to buy the lambert’s Cove Inn, Farm & Restaurant on the island of Martha’s Vineyard with his partner of seventeen years. He started writing stories as soon as he could read, but only a few years ago for publication. When not at the Inn, you can find him on the bow of his boat writing gay romance novels with his Shetland sheepdog Mavis at his side. Being from the south and a lover of commitment and fidelity, most of his characters find their way to long healthy relationships, however long it takes them to get there. He believes that in the end, the boy should always get the boy.
September 25, 2014
When I was thinking about writing this book I learned that when you say the word “Pornography,” most people I talk to either love it or hate it. It’s rare that I find someone that doesn’t have a strong opinion on the matter one way or the other, so I knew I was on to something. In my next excerpt, I decided to have Eli, who is down on his luck and just entering the world of “gay for pay” quiz Hamish, one of the “experienced” guys on why he does what he does.
Eli turned to Hamish. “Now can I ask you something?”
“Are you gay?”
“Not that I care what people do in the privacy of their own bedroom,” Eli clarified.
“No. I’m not gay.”
“Then how do you do it?” Eli asked, meeting Hamish’s eyes.
Hamish broke the gaze and turned to look out over the water. “There’s not really a short answer to that question,” he said. “But the gist of it is that all us guys feel like we are in this together. We do what we have to do to support ourselves and our families. And we try to support one another.”
“But to have sex with another guy,” Eli said.
“Listen,” Hamish added. “A blowjob is a blowjob, and a warm hole is a warm hole. Once you get over the taboo of having sex with another man, realize that sex is sex and it’s all the same, you’re home free.”
“Its really hard to wrap my head around, but I’ll take your word for it,” Eli said.
Hamish looked back at Eli. “Seriously, I felt the same way you did when Royce propositioned me. But once you get here and get to know the guys, it almost becomes like a club you want to be part of. Almost like the feeling of being a marine, like being a part of something bigger than you. I know it sounds crazy, but that’s how it was for me and for most of the other guys as well.”
This time Eli turned away and stared out over the water as if he might find the answers out there.
Hamish continued, “Most guys are here because they can’t find work and are doing what they have to do to support themselves and/or their families. I don’t know about you, but I have to admire that dedication.”
Eli thought about what Hamish said and decided he agreed. “I do too,” he said.
“The guys here feel like we are all in this together, and it makes it easier on each and every one of us. In the end, we’re all doing the same things for mostly the same reasons. You know.” Hamish said. “We have this unspoken agreement among us that no one should feel isolated and ashamed for doing what they have to do to take care of themselves or the people they love.”
Eli glanced at Hamish again and their eyes met. “You get where I’m coming from?” Hamish asked.
“I do,” Eli admitted. “I just don’t know if I can do it.”
“Of course you can,” Hamish assured him. “If you want to. The biggest hurdle we all had to face was simply believing that having sex with another man doesn’t define you as gay.”
Hamish paused, then spoke again. “As I said before, I’m not gay, I hate labels and I’ve always strived to live and let live. But up until I joined this elite group of men I hadn’t even considered having sex with another man.”
“And now?” Eli asked.
“It took me a couple of months to get comfortable with everything,” Hamish said, looking up at the stars, “but if I was forced to stick a label on my back, I would now categorize myself as a bisexual.”
“Does that mean you enjoy sex with men?” Eli asked.
“Sometimes,” Hamish admitted. “It’s like a regular job. Some days you enjoy your work some days you don’t, and sometimes you get along better with one coworker versus another. It’s really no different. There are guys I enjoy being with more than others, but it’s a job and you can’t pick and choose. I mean, if I refused to do a scene with a certain guy, no one would make me. But again, it’s our unspoken code of ethics that keeps us all together.”
“Wow!” Eli said, shaking his head. “I didn’t see that coming.”
So, as you can see Eli is struggling with if he can really pull any of this off and actually have sex with another man.
This topic continues to intrigue me long after the book has been put to bed, no pun intended, but not for the reasons you may think. I’m mostly amazed at the camaraderie between the guys. They respect and support one another and never judge and in the end isn’t that what we all want???
See you again in a couple hours when you can learn how to win a copy of “Acting Out.”