Tricks is Out! Win a FREE autographed copy with Rick R. Reed

October 12, 2015


I confess: the world of sex workers fascinates me.

And what fascinates me more is how love can flourish in such an environment. This was the question I posed to myself when writing TRICKS.

I also love the idea of an opposites-attract love story. What could be better, I wondered, than taking a male stripper and a kind of nerdy, straight-laced guy who hardly would ever even frequent a place where male strippers dance and…have them fall in love?

I based my stripper bar, Tricks, on an actual bar I went to once in a while back when I lived in Chicago called the Lucky Horseshoe (it’s still there, if you’re a Chicagoan or visiting, on Halsted, just south of Belmont Ave,). The Lucky Horseshoe was good sleazy fun with an endlessly rotating roster of young male dancers (and a mostly older clientele). The times I went in there, I was probably storing away the details for the romance novel I would one day write. Once I got beyond the tight pecs, firm asses, and bulging straps of the men on stage, the writer in me wondered if they ever met anyone engaging or special in their work. And, if they did, were they able to sustain a relationship? It’s an interesting question. Could you let your significant other go out night after night and strip down to almost nothing for strangers? Quit laughing! It’s a serious question! Could you allow him or her to be fondled by those same strangers for money? And, if you could, how would you make it work? My male dancer, Arliss, besides being super-hot, is also a real sweetheart. He’s deserving of love. But how would Sean, whom most of us would think of us as pretty conventional, answer those questions?

If ever the path to true love never did run smooth, TRICKS is one story that proves the old saying…in spades…or jockstraps.


Tricks can mean many things: sex partners, deceptions, even magic—or maybe all three.

Arliss is a gorgeous young dancer at Tricks, the hottest club in Chicago’s Boystown. Sean is the classic nerd, out of place in Tricks, but nursing his wounds from a recent breakup. When the two spy each other, magic blooms.

But this opposites-attract tale does not run smooth. What happens when Arliss is approached by one of the biggest porn producers in the business? Can he make his dreams of stardom come true without throwing away the only real love he’s ever known? This question might not even matter if the mysterious producers realize their dark intentions.

To win a free autographed copy of TRICKS, simply comment below (leaving an e-mail address so we can get in touch if you win). And, just for fun, let me know: could you allow your significant other to work in a stripper bar? I will draw a winner from all entries submitted by October 19. Please note that this offer is only available for US residents (because of the prohibitive cost of foreign shipping). Those outside the US will win an ebook of TRICKS.

Attired in a costume that would make the construction worker from the Village People look demure, Arliss turned in front of the mirror to ensure he was the perfect fantasy specimen of pornographic machismo. He was grateful he had added the angel wing tattoo to his back and the snakes that twisted around each bicep. And the one on his chest, the tiny heart with the name “Helena” in it, always brought a lump to his throat—or a splash of bile to the back of it, depending on his mood and how forgiving he felt. But now was not the time for being sentimental! Arliss was glad for the tattoos because they added a bit of manliness to his six foot two inch frame that held only 160 pounds in weight. He was what the older men at Tricks referred to as a twink and, thankfully, was a desirable commodity in some circles.

He set the cigarette down in a tin ashtray and took a swig of vodka. He could feel as much as hear the heavy bass of the techno music playing in the bar and knew that Antonio, a Puerto Rican dude with a shaved head and heavy stubble, was probably just about finished with his set, which meant his boxing ensemble cluttered the small stage.

Arliss would come out, dance briefly and flirtatiously with Antonio, and then have the stage to himself. He didn’t know how he did it, night after night, but somehow he managed. He had always been the shyest boy in Ruskin, Florida, where he had grown up. He remembered his hometown with no nostalgia, only with relief that he’d managed to escape its flat, charmless stretches, so unlike what most people thought of when they conjured up images of Florida. Ruskin had no coastline, no beaches, and no picture-postcard landscapes. If they could see me now…. Well, if they could see me now, they’d probably still call me a fag and try to beat the crap out of me, as they once did. Once again, my dear, now is not the time for sentimentality. He took another swig of vodka, draining the glass and feeling the warmth of the liquor as it spread through his chest and extremities. Showtime!

Arliss hurried to the door that separated the cramped dressing room from the bar proper. Tricks didn’t really have a stage, although the dancers liked to think of the bar upon which they danced as one. It was Friday night, and from the rise of conversation and laughter beneath the pounding electronica beat, it sounded as though they had a sizable crowd. He sucked in a breath, looked down at his perfectly smooth pale skin and six-pack abs, and told himself he was gorgeous.

“Don’t forget to smile, toots! You always look like some gloomy Gus out there!”

Leave it to Emmett Myers, owner of Tricks and Arliss’s boss, to try to unsettle him just before he went on stage.

Arliss flashed the man a big Farrah Fawcett smile. If the prissy older man with the pencil moustache recognized it as fake, he gave no indication.

“There! That’s what they like to see! For heaven’s sakes, you have to remember that if they think you’re having a good time, they’ll have a good time. And a good time means more money for all of us.”

Arliss listened as the song wound down, morphing into yet another bass beat that signaled him it was time to stride out through the door, amble across the crowded room, ignore the covert feels and pinches he got as he made his way to the bar, and climb up on it to join Antonio in front of the crowd.

This moment, just before he went out, was always almost surreal. There was a paradoxical rush of nerves that made him feel both nauseated and tingly with electric anticipation. He felt as though he became someone else when he opened that door, or more properly, that his everyday world changed when he opened it. It was kind of like when Dorothy opened the door to Oz and saw the hyper colors of Munchkinland. But instead of munchkins and good witches who descended in translucent bubbles, his world was populated with bitter old queens, alcoholics, and trolls trying to put some oomph into their libidos by staring at boys young enough to be their sons—and in many cases, grandsons.

“Get out there, gorgeous! Shake your groove thing!” Emmett cackled and placed a hand on Arliss’s back to propel him forward.

Just as much to get the hand off his back as to get to the stage, Arliss threw open the door, plastered on a big smile, threw his shoulders back, and strode through the crowd, keeping his eye on the narrow strip of bar that would, for the next fifteen minutes, be his stage.

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Also available at Amazon, AllRomance, and other fine booksellers.


Rick R. Reed is all about exploring the romantic entanglements of gay men in contemporary, realistic settings. While his stories often contain elements of suspense, mystery and the paranormal, his focus ultimately returns to the power of love. He is the author of dozens of published novels, novellas, and short stories. He is a three-time EPIC eBook Award winner (for Caregiver, Orientation and The Blue Moon Cafe). Raining Men and Caregiver have both won the Rainbow Award for gay fiction.  Lambda Literary Review has called him, “a writer that doesn’t disappoint.” Rick lives in Seattle with his husband and a very spoiled Boston terrier. He is forever “at work on another novel.”




Love and Fear with L.J. LaBarthe – Post + Giveaway

October 2, 2015


Hello everyone, I’m L. J. LaBarthe and I’m here to talk about my new release, “A Candle in the Sun.”


This book is the final book in my series, “The Archangel Chronicles.” It’s a little bittersweet for me, because it is the last book and it’s the end of working with these characters who have occupied much of my time and my brain. I have loved every moment of working on this series and I hope that readers have enjoyed it as much as I have.


“A Candle in the Sun” was conceived along with the previous two books just prior to my moving house. I wrote the book while I was in the middle of packing boxes and let me tell you, there’s nothing more exhausting than packing all the things you own when you want to get back to a book! I had the first draft down when I moved, and then when I was in my new home, I discovered something horrifying, nay, terrifying and beyond any disaster I can describe.


I had no internet.


This was the case for about six weeks and it was because I live in a valley and our cable/fiber network here in Australia isn’t that great. My ISP had to put an antenna on the roof of the place, and of course they couldn’t do that while it was raining and wet. And what happened in the first six weeks of writing? If you guessed that it rained and wet, you are spot on. It was incredibly frustrating because I needed to check things, and I had edits to do and it was just one of those times you want to bang your head on the wall and scream. Thankfully, once the internet was connected, I could get back into things but not having the internet right there at my fingertips made me realize just how much I relied on it for research.




The characters in the book rely on the internet as well—Max, the hacker character, provides a lot of information to lovers Gabriel and Michael and to their allies. Archangels they might be, but the two of them are not well versed in the ways of the internet, and their frustration was quite easy to relate to once I had no internet myself!


I’d always intended this book to be the end of this “chapter” if you will for the couples in the series. Michael and Gabriel are together, as are Raziel and Uriel, Adramelek and Lucifer, Baxter and Liam, and many others. They go through many ups and downs, some supernatural and paranormal, some not. Baxter has paranoias that Liam may not love him; Michael wonders why Gabriel stays with him when Michael thinks he himself is not that desirable; Adramelek can’t believe his luck that Lucifer wants him; Raziel fears that Uriel may get bored with him. And in between all of this is a conspiracy to destroy all non-Earth life—angels, demons, shifters, monsters—by a group of fearful, greedy humans.


Love and fear are two great motivators. The main characters are motivated by both—the love they have for each other in their romantic relationships, and for their nearest and dearest and the fear they have that they will be forever banished from the place that they’ve called home or treated as home for as long as they can remember. None of them want to give that up, and none of them want to lose the simple things that I think all of us want: freedom to live in peace, freedom to love and freedom to live without fear.


I’m doing a giveaway of “A Candle in the Sun.” To win a copy, leave a comment answering the following question: Name one of the couples listed above and what their relationship fears or worries are.


A lot of the action takes place in country Montana, which, the internet tells me, is absolutely beautiful. If you had to pick a place that was picturesque and good for a battle between the forces of good and evil, where would you choose?




There are a lot of characters in this book as in the preceding eight, but there is also a dramatis personae and I hope that I’ve done them all as much justice as they deserve. This series has been a labor of love for the last several years, now is time for me to move on. I’m making notes for a planned vampire detective quartet, and have a little book of many notes for other novels that I’m sure will end up being written. (I hope!)


Thanks for joining me today, and once again, please join in the conversation and giveaway.


Cheerio from Australia,


L. J. LaBarthe.

Check out A Candle in the Sun and the Archangel Chronicles!


Pictures of the elk rut

September 30, 2015

Okay folks, I think this is the last post. We’re running a bit late and by the time I get home, it’ll be too late to wrap this up. I hope everyone has enjoyed getting to know a bit more about the three hot guys of “The Kachina Job” as well as a little insight into their alternate shapes. To close this out, I’m going to share some brand new pictures that I took this afternoon while we were out stalking elk in Rocky Mountain National Park. Even when I’m out hunting with a camera, it triggers that primal hunter inside me and gets the blood going.


The crowds are less during the week than on the weekend…just image what a mess this would be in a couple of days.


This little blue bird has got a major attitude about him. I can just imagine him getting up in someone’s face, snapping his feathers and throwing shade.


These two were determined to chase each other around for a while. Lots of bugling and showing off.


Just a bit of bugling.


Couldn’t resist the trees in the background. Gotta love the changing aspens.


A young guy still wet from digging in the creek.

So folks, thanks for stopping by and finding out about “The Kachina Job” and getting a look at fall in Colorado. I’ll check the comments on the previous post later and pick a winner for the free e-book. I also need to ask people’s patience with my pictures. These are fresh out of the camera and haven’t had any editing, and we all know that writers are only as good as their editors.

In Parting, here’s the buy link for “The Kachina “ now go out and prowl around a bit.


A.J. Marcus

Back Country exploration post and giveaway with A.J. Marcus

September 30, 2015

So we’re over halfway through with this round of the blog take over for the release of “The Kachina Job”. Normally I do these blog post days sitting at my computer at the house, posting interesting things and being really engaging folks. Today we’re doing things a little different. I’m out exploring Estes Park Colorado and Rocky Mountain National Park. We drove a couple of hours for the elk rut. It’s our second trip up this year, the first one was rather lack luster and this one is still a bit of a disappointment compared to previous years.

Rocky Mountain National Park, RMNP, is one of the best spots around for wildlife viewing. Today we saw a few elk, some blue birds and mule deer. The action with the elk herds was low. Just a few big bulls starting to gather harems. Several times we thought we were about to have some action between the bulls, and they broke it off before things got interesting.

At one point we had a young bull…probably 3 years old or so based on his size and weak bugling. He started walking toward a spot where an older bull had gathered a dozen or so cows. The big bull walked a few steps toward him, bugled, marked territory for a second and the young guy turned and walked away. The only plus to him walking away was that he came closer and gave us the opportunity to get some better shots.

As usual during rut, the elk were close enough to the roads that if you were lucky and parked close enough you didn’t have to walk far…the problem that’s often encountered is there are more people than elk. At one point we had to park about half a mile a way and hike in to the hot spot where other photographers were set up snapping pictures like crazy.

I’ve done some hiking in the area where I envision Read Peak, New Mexico. It’s a much different environment from what I went through today. Coyotes, mule deer, mountain lion and jack rabbits abound…(jack rabbits..abounding…) okay, I’ll go on. In a lot of little towns, be they mountain, desert or whatever, the residents are more accustomed to encounters with nature than folks in the big city have had.  Me personally, I think this makes life fun and exciting. I love sitting at my computer, looking out the window and seeing deer, coyotes, goshawks and more wander through the yard.

With the predatory shifters, they embrace nature and thrill in the hunt. I can connect with the idea of that. Shifters touch on our more primitive selves and I think that’s where the allure of them comes from. The call to that part of our brains that need to break free of the urban jungle that so many of us are trapped in.

Now here’s our contest. Leave me a comment and tell me about any wild animal encounters you’ve had, and or the thing that really attracts you to shifters. In a couple hours I’ll figure out a random comment to get an e-copy of “The Kachina Job” So leave me comments.

In the next post, if I can convince my camera to give up some good pictures, I’ll post them to show how my afternoon has gone.

Dangerous, but wise? with A.J. Marcus

September 30, 2015

Dangerous, but wise?

This time we’re going to take a look at our owl shifter, Shannon O’Flaherty. Personally, I like Shannon better than the other two…don’t tell them that, we’re not supposed to play favorites. Shannon is the sheriff of Red Peak, New Mexico. He moved away from Albuquerque after a disastrous breakup. When the opportunity came along for a raise and a move, he jumped on the chance. Shannon is also an enforcer in the paranormal world. He struggles to keep the regular humans from discovering that there really are things that go bump in the night. When he answers an alarm call at one of the local residences and spies a mountain lion running off through the desert night with a backpack on, he realizes the situation calls for his enforcer position and not just his sheriff’s badge. As the situation turns out to not be a cut and dried one, he adapts quickly but is very surprised when he bonds to first Daniel, then finds Phillip fitting into their lives as well.

Shannon is a fairly stable and straightforward guy. Having the two cat shifters around upsets his life in ways he could never dream of, but he quickly finds that he welcomes the change and chaos the two men bring to his mostly quiet existence. The biggest question is if his deputy will handle things in a civilized manner, or will she shoot first and ask questions later.

Just below the surface of Shannon’s human form hovers the deadly talons of an eagle owl. Owls are found in every environment in the world, save for Antarctica. The eagle owls are the largest of the owls. Here in North America, we only have one species of eagle owl, the great horned owl. Great horned owls are the classic hoot owl. Not many people actually see them, or even know where they despite the fact there are a ton of them living in the cities around us. Great horned owls occupy the same ecological niche as red tailed hawks. It’s a fairly safe bet that if you see red tailed hawks during the day, there are great horned owls at night. They and the other owls go to great lengths to make sure the rodent populations don’t grow out of control.


Now, let’s see how Shannon feels about things:


He laughed again. It felt good to laugh. Until that moment, he didn’t realize he hadn’t been doing much of that recently. “Elisa, you do have a way with words. Okay, as long as it stays fun, I’ll keep them around, if they want to be kept around.”

“So you haven’t run background checks on them yet, then? It might be a good idea. Help you find out if either one of them is keeping anything from you that could come back to bite you.”

She didn’t know about his very powerful hearing and how hard it was for people to lie to him. “No, I haven’t run background checks on them. I’m trusting them to be honest right now. I’m not you. I don’t have to know everything about everyone in my life.”

“Yeah, but those background checks can come in handy. They kept me from falling in with that sexy polygamist last year, or that biker who was wanted for armed robbery a few months ago.”

“I’d almost forgotten about those guys,” Shannon lied. He remembered all of her boyfriends. “You catch more criminals in your bed than we do in the streets. Maybe we should hang a sign on your porch to let them all know they should stop by for the night. You can become the new criminal-trap motel. Criminals check in, but they always leave in cuffs.”

So have any of you encountered owls in your journey through our world?

We’ll be back here in a little while with a few questions and a give away.


A Most Dangerous Cat with A.J. Marcus

September 30, 2015

A Most Dangerous Cat

We’re back with another shifter. Daniel Hernandez is a jaguar shifter who’s led a less than savory life up until he meets Phillip and Shannon. Daniel embraces the power that comes with his jaguar. He’s made his living doing jobs of various kinds for the highest bidder. He does care what the job is, as long as it pays well. He’s seeking to move up in the world and so he takes the job to steal the wolf kachina when it comes his way. It sounds like an easy job, and would’ve been if Phillip had beat him to the house.

As far as his love life goes, Daniel treats it like he does the rest of his life, fast and easy. He’s not above screwing his way in and out of various situations as long as he doesn‘t form any lasting ties to the people he’s screwing. Sex for Daniel is loose and just a way to get what he wants. He’s very surprised when Sex with Phillip and Shannon turns out to be more than just a little fling.

Inside Daniel resided, pound for pound, the most powerful big cat in the world. Jaguars might be the third largest big cat, only African lions and tigers are larger, but jaguars are the more powerful and dangerous cat. Like the cougars, jaguars are perfectly suited for their environment which extends from the desert Southwest through the jungles of South America. Like most cats the jaguar is an extreme opportunist. Its prey ranges from large hoofed stock to birds, and even reptiles. Since jaguars love swimming, they’ll often take on caimans and other crocodilians that they encounter in the tropical rivers and streams.

Jaguars often come into contact with humans as their territory shrinks and the human world expands. Although jaguars can do incredible amounts of damage to humans, any conflict with man ultimately ends up to the determent of the cats. Luckily there are still vast stretches of rainforest and desert for the jaguars to call home.


Let’s take a look at a scene from Daniel’s POV.

Seconds later Daniel closed the bedroom door. He didn’t bother turning on the light as he pulled out his cell phone. He hit Two and Send. When he lay back on the bed, Shannon’s musky scent engulfed him like a worn, familiar comfortable blanket.

The call was answered on the second ring. “Daniel, where are you? Are you in trouble? I know something’s wrong.”

“Aunt Louisa, it’s good to hear your voice. I’m fine. Well, not really. I need to ask you some questions.”

“Questions? What kind of questions do you have? I can’t get you out of trouble again. I don’t have the cash.”

Daniel shook his head. She knew she was the first person he called when he was in trouble. And she always said she didn’t have the money to save his ass, but she never failed to save him, no matter how bad things were. “I don’t need cash. I’m not in jail or anything. Yeah, a job went bad, but I’m working through that. Some other stuff has happened, and I need some advice. I’ve met somebody, and I can’t stop thinking about him. I’m not even acting like a rude-ass punk around him. It’s like he’s family already.”

Thanks to his sensitive hearing, he could pick up the sound of her long lacquered nails tapping on the Formica tabletop in her kitchen. “Is he a jaguar like you are?”

“He’s a wer, but not a jaguar.”

“What is he?”

“An owl.” Daniel smiled at the vision of Shannon flying off into the night.

“An owl? Where on earth did you find a wereowl?”

“Northern New Mexico, but where isn’t important. Why is my attitude changing?”

More silence except for the tapping, which stopped a second or so before she spoke again. “Is the attitude change just when he’s around, or is it affecting you with everyone?”

Daniel thought about it for a moment. He hadn’t even hurt Phillip at the idea of him flirting with Shannon. “At first it was just around him, but it’s spreading.”

“If I know you, the two of you have already had sex.”

“Yeah. I mean, not all the way, but yeah.” He loved his aunt, and they had a great relationship, but he wasn’t about to actually split hairs about a blow job versus an ass pounding.

“It sounds like you might be bonding to him. A mate bond is unusual cross-species like that, especially two very different species like jaguar and owl. Now if he was something like a mountain lion, the chances would be a lot more possible.”

Daniel rolled his eyes, then stared up at the dark ceiling. Do I really want to bond to Shannon? He’s cool and all, really sexy, but can I see myself with a police officer for the rest of my life? “How can I tell for sure?”

“If you were close by me, I’d tell you to come over and let me take a look at the two of you, but no, you have to be all the way across the state when you call your dear auntie for help in this matter.”

“Aunt Louisa, how can I tell if we’re bonding?” He tried not to sound too impatient.

“You didn’t swear at me, my darling Daniel. Even from here I can tell a change in you. Look within yourself, and see what you find there. Talk to your cat and listen to him. Your cat will know for sure, even if you don’t.”


Check back in a little while and learn a bit about Shannon, find out what makes him tick.

The Not-so Cowardly Mountain Lion with A.J. Marcus

September 30, 2015

These next couple of posts, we’ll explore different characters in “The Kachina Job” and the animals inside them. The first character we meet in the book is Phillip Two Hands, he’s a young Navaho Indian who has become a thief and is hired to steal a really ugly wolf kachina. At 25, Phillip still lives on the reservation with his grandparents who haven’t bothered to teach him much about being a Mountain Lion shifter after his parents were killed by hunters. Phillip is desperate to fit in somewhere, after he was dumped by the boyfriend who taught him to be a thief, he’s been making a living stealing things while he waits for something to come along and lead him down his life’s calling. Without giving too much away, he finds it by the end of the book.

The cat inside Phillip is an interesting one. Mountain lions range across the Americas, from the Arctic Circle down to the tip of South America. They are highly adaptable cats and in some parts of their range are considered nuisance animals. In other parts, like the south end of Florida, the Florida panther, is highly endangered. Mountain lions are known by many names, mountain lions, puma, cougar, catamount, and panther are the main ones.

In the mountains and the desert areas, the cat’s tawny coat is perfect camouflage for it to blend into its surrounds. This natural ability to blend makes it very hard to spot a mountain lion. Here in Colorado, we say that if you see a mountain lion, it’s been watching you for quite some time. You can live in the mountains for years and never see them. Our neighbors have spotted them on our place, but we’ve never seen more than the very rare paw print. It’s both scary and cool at the same time.

Like all cats, mountain lions prey on anything they can get their teeth and claws into. They are supremely opportunistic. Their favorite meal, is deer. One of the big reasons that people are encouraged to not feed deer is that it attracts mountain lions. This can be detrimental to both the cat and the people. If you actually get to see a mountain lion in the wild, consider yourself lucky and if possible, take lots of pictures.


This is Tawney, one of the mountain lions that lives at CARE.


Now, let’s have a short scene from Phillip’s POV:

Phillip Twohands made his way quietly through the large dog door. Easing into the mudroom, he let the plastic flap trail along his backpack and slowly lowered his tail so that no sound betrayed his passage. I hope my information is right and the family’s out, he thought, moving from the mudroom into the kitchen. The whole place smelled overly clean, but beyond some old food, there were no recent scents of people or dogs. He relaxed.

The kitchen was as expensively outfitted as the rest of the place. High-end stainless steel appliances sat among black marble countertops. The black marble was also on the floor tiles that muffled his padded footfalls. Week-old pizza was the only thing that registered on his sense of smell, other than the recent use of ammonia cleaners.

From the kitchen he headed to the living room. The black tiles gave way to mahogany hardwood. Phillip stayed silent as he moved across the wood. His claws were retracted, and the heavy pads of his feet didn’t make a sound as he walked to the display cabinet next to the massive stone fireplace. Just as the information said, the shelves behind the glass held a selection of Hopi kachinas.

He quickly spotted the one that had a wolf’s head with real wolf fur around the neck. He shivered. This has to be the ugliest kachina I’ve ever seen. But I’m not being paid to be an art critic. I’m being paid to steal this thing and get it back to Francis Mendoza. I still don’t know why he couldn’t just send a member of his pack for it.

Phillip turned from the display case and looked around the living room. He shook his head. No obvious cameras. With all the ones outside, I’m surprised by that.

Taking a deep centering breath, Phillip willed himself to drop his puma form and become human. The wood floor was colder on his bare feet than it had been on his paws. The air conditioner blew cold air that raised goose pimples on his arms. He wondered why they had to keep things so cold in the rich houses.

He shivered as he took his backpack off and opened it. The soft silk cloth he’d been given to transport the thing unfolded easily in his hands. Phillip hung it over his arm as he pulled on the display case door. It didn’t budge. He glared at it. Just my luck. I knew this was going too easily. I bet he’s got the key on him too.

After setting the backpack on the floor in front of the case, then draping the silk over it so he could still access the side pocket, he pulled out a lockpicking kit. He selected two picks and made short work of the lock.

As he opened the case, an alarm rang out, and every light in the house came on. “Shit!”

Phillip grabbed the wolf-headed kachina and quickly wrapped it in the silk. He still had plenty of room in the backpack, so he grabbed a few of the other figures as well but didn’t bother wrapping them. Even as he slipped the backpack over his shoulders and snapped its waistband shut, he shifted back to his puma form.

Once again on four paws, Phillip ran for the dog door. Every few feet, the sound of a well-hidden still camera clicking was louder than the alarm. He didn’t care how he’d managed to miss it previously. How will they be able to track a mountain lion with a backpack on? And who would believe them anyway? Lions don’t wear backpacks and break into houses to steal things.

Phillip made it almost all the way across the side yard and to the safety of the desert when a loud roar overpowered the alarms from the house. The sound caused him to stumble. Who the hell is that?

Something moved from behind a large rock where the manicured lawn gave way to desert scrub. Phillip tried to dodge, but it caught him in the hip and spun him around as he scrambled to stay on his feet.

The bright lights from the house and porch momentarily blinded him. Phillip blinked. A large sleek silhouette inserted itself between him and the house. It was a huge cat, nearly twice his size.


I’ll be back in a bit and we’ll talk about Daniel Hernandez, our Jaguar, until then, tell what you think about mountain lions. Have you had any encounters with them in the past, either in the wild, or in zoos, or nature centers? They are one of the cats that really touch my soul.

Mountain Lions, Jaguars, and Owls, oh my! with A.J. Marcus

September 30, 2015

Hey readers! Looks like I’m taking over the Dreamspinner blog for a few hours. I’m A.J. Marcus, and this is all to promote my new release “The Kachina Job.” This book marks the first time, although not the last time, that I’ve ventured into the world of shifter romance. I decided to go with some shifters that aren’t well explored in M/M romance and also decided to try my hand at a ménage story at the same time. When I got the responses back from my beta readers, I knew I’d done something right. And with the reviews I’ve seen so far…yes I read some reviews…the readers are pleased with the story and we might have to come back and explore some of the ideas I’ve tossed out in the world in future books.

Over the next few hours, with my series of posts, I’ll explore the various characters and the animals that inspired them. For folks who are familiar with my writing, you know that the animals are as important in my books as the people, and in a world where the people can become animals, it opens up a whole new palate of opportunities. I love what a lot of writers do with shifters, and then there are writers that make me cringe with what they do with shifters. I urge people to please study the animals they write about be it real animals or fantasy shifters. Understanding makes things that much more real.

In the case of the shifters in “The Kachina Job”, I’ve worked with both birds of prey and big cats in the past. I’ve had birds in my life for years, they are incredibly fascinating and even as a master falconer, I still learn things every day, when I choose to listen. With the big cats, I spent several years while I lived in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex being photographer for the Bridgeport Nature Center, now called CARE, Center for Animal Research and Education. The big cats are awesome, but I do urge folks not to try and make them pets. They are wild animals. A lion or tiger in your house will eat your couch, dog, and possibly you. At least with most raptors, they can learn to tolerate the silly humans they share the world with.

I tried to bring some of my knowledge of these incredible animals to my story with the three hunky shifters as they struggle to find the missing kachina and work out their feelings toward each other all before the evil werewolf can claim the power that will reshape the shifter world in his dark image.

Here’s the cover and the blurb for “The Kachina Job”


Phillip Twohands is a thief and a weremountain lion. When he takes a job stealing an ugly kachina, he never realizes it will change his life forever. Daniel Hernandez is a werejaguar who is hired to steal the same kachina by the same werewolf who hired Phillip. When their paths cross, it becomes clear the tension between them is not all about rivalry.
The local sheriff, Shannon O’Flaherty, catches them in the act and has no choice but to take the two into his personal custody, which quickly ends up with the three of them in bed together.
When they learn the kachina has an ancient wolf spirit trapped inside, they rally to prevent it from transferring its power to the werewolf who hired them, but it will take all the strength in their new bond to succeed.

Here’s the buy link for “The Kachina Job”

Next post we’ll look at Phillip as a character and the mountain lion inside him.

Stalked by Susanna Hays – The Work Process

September 17, 2015

How I came up with the idea for Stalked originally came from an open submission call from another site. It was stated that they wanted a unique spin on shape shifters that did not use the alpha/beta/omega tropes, and I thought I’d give it a shot. This was new territory for me because, as stated previously, I never wrote about shifters before.


When working on Stalked, I just recently bought Scrivener, which was a new program to me at the time. I instantly fell in love with it, and even more so when working on my second novel and using much more of the features provided. The program is about $40 USD and I highly recommend it to those who love to outline and have many files for one story. I am currently using it as a virtual trapper keeper for all my stories since I sometimes like to flop to different stories at the same time.


My favorite parts in writing Stalked has to be the silly dialogue between Yori and Bryce. I love writing banters and silly lines, so their dialogue was something that was part of my comfort zone. I also liked writing how protective Bryce is of Yori.


When it came to actually submitting my work, it was very nerve wracking. Working with Dreamspinner though has been an amazing experience, and I’m so glad that they gave me such a great opportunity. I am proud to say that I am continuing to work with them and that they are helping me grow not only as an author, but as a writer as well.


Stalked By Susanna Hays – Thoughts After Publishing

September 17, 2015

For Stalked, I did not create an outline like I did for my second novel. I found it much more difficult this way, and for new authors who are struggling, I would suggest working with an outline since it does keep things better organized.

When creating my characters, I would fiddle around in the Sims until I created a character I liked. I would then look at Pinterest and try to find pictures that closely resembled the ones I made in Sims.


Yori is a different type of protagonist than I usually create. He is shy and more dependent compared to the protagonists I’ve created in the past. The reason for this is that I really wanted to get out of my comfort zone when creating the characters. This is the first shifter story I’ve created as well (I tend to write more in the way of vampires and ghosts), so this story as a whole was a bit more challenging to me.


Bryce was difficult for me to work with. I wanted him to be a supportive boyfriend, but I had a difficult time finding ways to make him interesting. It took many tries to try to get his personality down. With him and Yori being a couple right when the story starts, there wasn’t the UST that I would rely on like in my past stories.  Instead, I worked on keeping their relationship strong after being together for so many years.


Lance was a character I just went all out with and had fun with. I gave him the hammiest lines and went crazy with him to contrast against Yori and Bryce. Basically, I wanted him to be the opposite of Bryce, but still give them some similarities. He was enjoyable to create even with some of his cringy lines.


Things I would go back and change would be to not try to go out of my comfort zone so much in one story. I think I should have toned it back a bit when it came to that so it wouldn’t have been as much of a challenge to write, but I found it to be a great writing experience as well.