What Inspired Yesterday by Mickie B. Ashling – Post + Giveaway

January 22, 2016

What Inspired Yesterday

Hi, everyone!

I’m here to celebrate the release of my latest novel, Yesterday, a period piece set in Karachi, Pakistan. You’re probably wondering how or why I chose this locale. A writer’s brain is a weird and unpredictable part of our anatomy (at least mine is). It can draw inspiration from memories buried so far back in our subconscious we don’t even realize they exist—until a prompt comes along. It can be anything from a song to a smell, but once it’s unleashed, there’s no stopping the ideas from flowing. This is the magical part of writing I love. In the case of Yesterday, my trigger was a photo I’d unearthed while cleaning out my closets in preparation for my latest move from one suburb to another.

Yesterday Front

Several decades ago, before the Middle East was a tinderbox, and the most dangerous thing about traveling to that region of the world was heatstroke, my stepfather was assigned to a business posting in Karachi, Pakistan. Much like my character, Grady Ormond, I wasn’t thrilled by the prospect. The thought of spending any amount of time (I was also on break between high school and college) in a desert climate with no friends, other than my sister, and very little understanding of the culture or language, wasn’t my idea of a good time. I’d left a boyfriend behind as well, and in those days, there was no social media to keep us in touch. We had to resort to letter writing, something I didn’t mind, but he wasn’t too keen on the idea. Separation was bad enough, but imagining worst-case scenarios (cheating etc.) was depressing. I was stuck trying to figure out positive ways to keep my overactive mind in check. There was always reading, but since romance was my favorite genre and every bodice-ripper had a jealousy arc, I ignored the paperbacks in favor of exploration.

At the time, I didn’t know Pakistan was a melting pot of faiths and cultures. Having been occupied at one time or another by different empires—India, Persia, Turkey, Arabia, Mongolia, and Great Britain—it’s ethnically and linguistically diverse. The religion is primarily Islam, but when I was there, it wasn’t uncommon to have Hindus and Christians living side by side. The political atmosphere was very different in those days and foreigners could walk the streets without worrying about suicide bombers or being kidnapped.

We played it safe the first week, joining other expats at the American Club, lazing in the sun, and sampling the different varieties of food. I ignored hot dogs and hamburgers and reached for the Chicken Tikka instead, falling in love with the new flavors from the very bland to the tongue-scorching vindaloo.

The next week our parents allowed us to explore the city (with a guide), and our first stop was the Empress Market. Hypnotized by the exotic, I tried on bangles, earrings, scarves, and necklaces. Shopkeepers showed me how to turn lovely gold-threaded fabric into a sari, and I insisted on wearing one over my shorts and T-shirt, adding to the fun by parading up and down the aisles in my new outfit. We bought hand-tooled slippers, admired the colorful pottery and metal work, tiptoed warily around the animal cages, praying none of the cobras would leap out of their baskets, and I ate more street food than was smart. It was a magical place and I tried to share some of my exploits through the voice of my character, Grady.

There was a French girl I befriended at the club. She was older than me and much more sophisticated. Her English was terrible and my French was atrocious, but we managed to communicate. She eloped with her Pakistani boyfriend while I was there, and they lived in a tiny apartment with hardly any furniture. His parents were against the marriage so they made do with very little. At the time, I thought it was romantic as hell to live on love and not much else. I was pretty clueless in those days. Her husband was tall and very good looking, made even more attractive by his Brit accent and his impeccable manners. He was always dressed in a long white tunic and flowing pants, the salwar kameez I describe in my novel. In truth, a lot of Prince Kamran’s physicality was modeled after this man who made quite an impression.

Through our new friends, we were introduced to other people our age. I went out on a few innocent lunch dates with an Iranian student who shared interesting facts about his country and culture. He was very nice and I would have probably given some serious thought to his tentative advances if not for the fact that I had a boyfriend back home. I thought of him often when Iran was going through its political turmoil.

We learned that Pakistani beaches were famous for green turtle migrations.   One such beach, Hawks Bay, was twenty kilometers from the city, and my sister and I were invited to observe this phenomenon firsthand. Here’s a short excerpt from the novel that describes Grady’s evening.

***

Excerpt:

The turtle experience was as fascinating as I’d hoped, except for the buzzing mosquitoes determined to eat me alive. What made it worse was that I was the only one who was sweet enough to be targeted by the bloodsuckers. After a certain point, I resigned myself to being a lumpy mess by the time we got back on the yacht. Hopefully one of my companions would produce some home remedy to get rid of the itch and red spots.

Gus stayed on the yacht, but Jon came along to navigate the dingy, which was parked on the sand where we could see it but not in the pathway of the turtles. It was quite a hike from sand to sea, and I could understand how a lot of the hatchlings would fall into the mouths of predators before reaching their goal. It looked like a marathon crawl from where we were hiding, but they’d been doing this for centuries, and when they started to move, they came out in droves. One minute the sand was smooth and bare and the next covered with moving amniotes raring to go home. The moon was doing its job that night, shining brightly on the water to guide the little critters to the deep. I was pretty stoked with the idea of capturing something like this on film. Kam watched for a while but got bored midway and fell asleep. It was past midnight, and we’d had a long and emotional day. Jon was beside me, though, handing me whatever I needed to make sure I got it all on film.

Several hours later, everything stopped. The sand looked like a blanket of silk again, and the whole experience felt like a dream. The moon was starting to wane, and soon the sun would be rising, which was probably what put everything to a grinding halt. We shook Kam awake and made it back to the yacht without any problems. Back on board, I stripped and stood under the shower for as long as possible, trying to find some relief. My arms and legs were covered in red splotches. My torso was fine, thank the Lord, but the rest of me looked like I had a bad case of hives or measles. I popped a couple of aspirin when I got out of the shower and went up to the galley hoping Gus could recommend something to make it go away.

He took one look at me, mumbled a few choice words in Italian, removed a big bottle of vinegar from the pantry, and poured it on my skin. I howled like a banshee, but after a few minutes the pain subsided and so did the itch.

***

As it turned out, my summer in Karachi gave me a new appreciation and awareness of a previously unknown section of the world. The knowledge I gained at that time has stayed with me through the years, and the savory cuisine from that part of the world remains on my list of favorites.

The world has changed a lot since then. Good people who fall into a certain demographic are automatically shunned or condemned because of the radicals in their faith whose sole purpose is to stir up hate and dissent. As a writer, I’ve never shied away from including characters and situations as diverse and interesting as the people I’ve met in my life.  I hope you have an opportunity to pick up a copy of Yesterday, a love story between two very different men who dare to take a chance.

Answer any of the questions I’ve posed in italics, and your name will go into the drawing for a $15.00 DSP Gift Certificate. The winner will be chosen in three days.

Have you ever found yourself in a situation totally out of your control?

Do you like food from the Middle East? What’s your favorite dish?

Ever see a live cobra outside of a cage?  

Have you ever been attracted to someone you can’t have?

Would you travel to an exotic locale if given a chance? If so, where?

Do you enjoy stories with diverse characters?

Blurb

In June of 1978 Grady Ormond, eighteen-year-old son of diplomat Peter Ormond, accompanies his father to his new posting as US Ambassador to Pakistan. Neighboring Iran is on the brink of a civil war, with the monarchy in danger of being overthrown.

Grady will be leaving for New York City in late August to study cinematography and has been warned to keep his homosexual orientation tightly under wraps while on vacation. Repercussions in the predominantly Islamic region could be severe.

On their first night in Karachi, his father hosts a cocktail party to meet the local dignitaries. Grady is introduced to His Highness Prince Kamran Izadi, nephew of the shah of Iran. Twenty-three-year-old Kamran has recently returned from the UK, where he spent eleven years, first as a student, and then as a financial analyst.

The attraction is immediate—unforeseen and dangerously powerful—but neither one dares to make a move. Odds are so stacked against them it’s futile to even entertain a friendship, but they do, and their world tilts precariously.

With his country in turmoil and Grady about to leave for college, Kamran makes a decision that will change their lives forever.

 

Bio

Mickie B. Ashling is the pseudonym of a multifaceted woman who is a product of her upbringing in multiple cultures, having lived in Japan, the Philippines, Spain, and the Middle East. Fluent in three languages, she’s a citizen of the world and an interesting mixture of East and West. A little bit of this and a lot of that have brought a unique touch to her literary voice she could never learn from textbooks.

By the time Mickie discovered her talent for writing, real life got in the way, and the business of raising four sons took priority. With the advent of e-publishing–and the inevitable emptying nest–dreams of becoming a published writer were resurrected and she’s never looked back.

She stumbled into the world of men who love men in 2002 and continues to draw inspiration from their ongoing struggle to find equality and happiness in this oftentimes skewed and intolerant world. Her award-winning novels have been called “gut wrenching, daring, and thought provoking.” She admits to being an angst queen and making her men work damn hard for their happy endings. Mickie currently resides in a suburb outside Chicago.

Contact Info

E-MAIL: http://mickie.ashling@gmail.com

BLOG: http://mickiebashling.blogspot.com

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/mickie.ashling

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/MickieAshling

Get your copy of Yesterday now!

Dreamspinner Press

Amazon

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Of Intergalactic Space Ships and a Paradise on Earth with L. J. LaBarthe – Post + Giveaway

January 18, 2016

Of Intergalactic Space Ships and a Paradise on Earth

Hi there! I’m L. J. LaBarthe and I’m here today to talk about my new release, “Song of Song.”

“Song of Song” is a science fiction novel. I’ve always wanted to write a sci-fi, as I love sci-fi myself. I grew up watching “Star Wars,” the original “V” series’, “Blake’s 7,” the 1980s mini-series “The Martian Chronicles” starring Rock Hudson (one of the last things he made before he died), and more. My father was an avid fan of sci-fi, he loved “Buck Rogers,” which never really appealed to me at all, and “Battlestar Galactica,” which I liked (although I preferred the remake!) My mother was and still is an avid “Doctor Who” fan, and I read a lot of fantasy and sci-fi books while I was growing up… and I still do!

So as you can see, sci-fi is a genre that is near and dear to my heart. It was only going to be a matter of time before I sat down and wrote one myself, and “Song of Song” is the result. It’s set in the future, a future where the rich have taken over Earth, sending the poor to live in off-world colonies and eke out their own existence, while the rich use Earth as their own paradise and playground. To support the wealthy families, there are groups of genetically engineered humans called Boxies, who live in what are called Box Towers and do things like mechanical repairs, laundry, clothing alterations, and things like that. One Boxie, named Dex, decides to escape with his only companion and friend, an AI cat named Manx.

As AI pets are not permitted to Boxies, Dex decides to run away with the help of his friend, and soon finds himself on board the sentient and organic spaceship Fa’a with her crew. He’s instantly physically attracted to the man who designed and built her—Song. Despite all manner of threats and trouble, the two of them manage to get together and fall in love, even when it seems that their burgeoning relationship may be destroyed by outside nefarious forces.

While I was writing, I had a variety of DVDs on as background noise, things that are both dear to my heart and inspired me to come up with ideas. I alternated between “Star Wars,” “Babylon 5,” and “Blake’s 7,” which makes for quite a mix of dystopian sci-fi, wartime futuristic sci-fi and a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away sci-fi. All of it did help keep me in the zone, though!

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So what’s your favorite sci-fi show or film? Do you prefer the modern ones or the older films, the more kitschy and schlocky ones? (“Planet of the Apes”—the original one with Charleton Heston, “2001: A Space Odyssey” “Alphaville,” “Solaris,” “Logan’s Run,” and “Dark Star” are all favorites of mine from the 1960s and 1970s.)

Leave a comment about your favorite sci-fi TV show or film or both to go in the draw for a copy of “Song of Song!”

You can find me on social media too at the following locations:

Twitter: @brbsiberia
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lj.labarthe.9
Blog: http://misslj-author.livejournal.com/
Webpage: http://www.ljlabarthe.com/

Get your copy of “Song of Song” today!

Romancing the Category: First Comes Marriage with Shira Anthony – Post + Giveaway

January 15, 2016

Romancing the Category

I’m Shira Anthony, and today is release day for First Comes Marriage, the second book in Dreamspinner Press’s brand new Dreamspun Desires of sweet, tropey, feel-good romances! I can’t tell you how much fun I had writing this story—it took me back to my romance roots and the days when I gobbled up Harlequin romances like they were salt and vinegar potato chips.

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First Comes Marriage is a gay romance take on the classic category romance. What is a “category romance”? Honestly, I didn’t know this myself until a few years ago, but a “category romance” is also sometimes called a “series romance.” The term comes from the old tradition of publishing a certain number of books on a monthly basis in a certain category. You remember these. When I was a kid, they were the Harlequin and Silhouette romances that were shipped, 4 books a month, on subscription.

Category romances were sweet, funny, standalone stories that were low on the angst and with a feel-good happy ending. Full of classic romance tropes (millionaires, exotic locations, mistaken identity, arranged marriages, you name it), these babies were shorter than the average novel, all the covers looked alike, and some were numbered like magazines. They became a genre unto themselves.

My contribution to the Dreamspun Desires line grew out of a conversation at the Romantic Times (RT) conference in Dallas of this year, by far the biggest general romance conference in the world. I mean, that baby is HUGE, with hundreds of romance authors from every subgenre you can imagine including, of course, gay romance. I was having something to eat with Poppy Dennison, Dreamspinner Press’s PR guru, and a number of other Dreamspinner writers. With all the amazing and sexy posters of romance book covers plastered all over the hotel, I had that Harlequin vibe going. You know the one: warm and fuzzy, sexy, fun and easy reading. The very definition of a category romance.

So I kvetched to Poppy about how I was getting worn out writing angsty romances (Blue Notes or Blood Series, anyone?). You know those too—books that rip your heart out and put it back together piece by piece. Stories of heroes with deep, dark secrets, horrible childhoods, illnesses, and lots of pain. Happy endings, for sure, but very hard won happiness. Don’t get me wrong. I love angsty romance (and I’ve got plenty more planned), but they do take a lot out of me to write, especially when they deal with issues close to home.

I told Poppy I wished I could write a warm, fuzzy romance like the ones I used to read as a kid. Poppy (love that woman!) asked flat out, “Why don’t you?” She then proceeded to tell me about an idea she had to create a line of gay category romances for Dreamspinner. I took that conversation to heart and started thinking about what tropes I’d like to try writing. And on a three week vacation on our boat, I wrote about 80% of First Comes Marriage. A perfect setting to write that book, by the way. Romantic and relaxing.

My story takes a few familiar romance tropes and turns them on their head. Marriage of convenience? Check. Billionaire playboy? Conniving stepgrandmother? Check.

Jesse Donovan, the billionaire heir to his grandfather’s boat building business, must get married or he’ll lose control of his company under the terms of his grandfather’s will. Chris Valentine is a struggling novelist working as a barista in New York City. When handsome, charming Jesse proposes, Chris thinks it’s a joke! Chris finally gives in and marries Jesse. But the more time they spend together, the more Chris comes to genuinely care for New York’s most eligible “straight” bachelor. But this marriage is just business, isn’t it?

Dreamspun Desire books are available individually in paperback and ebook, and as part of a subscription where you get 2 books a month in ebook or paperback for 30% off the cover price. I’m a subscriber, by the way. Gay romance in the old category romance style? Right up my alley as a reader, too. So you bet I’ll be reading these in between working on my own projects.

What’s your favorite romance trope? Comment with your answer below and you could win your choice of any of my back catalog titles in ebook format (so anything except First Comes Marriage).  I’ll choose a winner after midnight on January 17th.

I’ll leave you with a taste of First Comes Marriage. Chris’s first hint that his pretend marriage to billionaire Jesse might be a bit more of a challenge than he realized. Hope you enjoy it! -Shira

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Excerpt from Chapter Six:

Now, standing in the conference room of Windview Enterprises’ corporate headquarters near South Ferry in Manhattan, one of the matching platinum bands Jesse had bought for them in his pants pocket, Chris wondered if he’d wake up from the dream. The floor-to-ceiling windows looked out over Wall Street and the East River through the forest of high-rise buildings.

“Do you, Jesse Chase Donovan, take Christopher James Valentine to be your husband, in love and in friendship, until you are parted by death?” the judge asked.

“I do.” As Jesse slipped the ring on Chris’s finger, he met Chris’s gaze with such intensity that for an instant, Chris could almost forget the entire ceremony was a ruse to ensure the future of Windview remained firmly in Jesse’s control. Damn the man for being so attractive. Damn him for being a nice guy, because that was the worst part of it. And the part that had you agreeing.

“And do you, Christopher James Valentine, take Jesse Chase Donovan to be your husband, in love and in friendship, until you are parted by death?”

Chris swallowed hard and prayed he didn’t look as incredibly nervous as he felt. “I do.” His hand shook as he took Jesse’s hand and put the ring on his finger.

“Congratulations, Chris and Jesse,” the judge said.

Chris caught Val’s eye for a split second, and he half expected her to urge him to kiss Jesse. But it was Jesse who took charge and blindsided Chris with a kiss.

It started sweetly enough, just Jesse’s lips against his, but instead of releasing Chris, Jesse pulled him tighter against him and pressed his tongue into his mouth. Jesse tasted fucking amazing. Chris didn’t hesitate—their tongues tangled and danced. This close, Jesse smelled good and felt even better. Chris was barely aware of slipping his hands around Jesse’s back before resting them on lean hips. He didn’t think twice as his body and Jesse’s responded in kind.

Someone giggled—Chris recognized Val’s voice—and Jesse pulled abruptly away. Their eyes met for a split second, and Chris thought he saw a mixture of desire and surprise in Jesse’s deep blue eyes. The next thing Chris knew, Val had thrown her arms around him and only his racing heart and tingling lips told him he hadn’t imagined the entire thing.

“Oh, Chris,” Val cooed. “You really did it!”

“Yeah” was the only response Chris could manage. He was still thinking about Jesse’s mouth.

“I guess I was wrong about him being straight,” she whispered mischievously.

Chris was thrilled when Terry grabbed him in a bear hug, because he had no idea how to respond to Val’s comment. He also wasn’t sure if he should be pissed off with Jesse for the show. He supposed if this was going to work, Jesse needed to make the marriage look real. Still, how difficult would it have been to warn Chris that he had that up his sleeve?

******

About Shira: In her last incarnation, Shira Anthony was a professional opera singer, performing roles in such operas as Tosca, Pagliacci, and La Traviata, among others. She’s given up TV for evenings spent with her laptop, and she never goes anywhere without a pile of unread M/M romance on her Kindle.

Shira is married with two children and two insane dogs, and when she’s not writing, she is usually in a courtroom trying to make the world safer for children.  When she’s not working, she can be found aboard Land’s Zen, a 35’ catamaran, at the Carolina coast with her favorite sexy captain at the wheel.

Shira can be found on Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter (@WriterShira) or on her website, http://www.shiraanthony.com. You can also contact her at shiraanthony@hotmail.com.

Get your copy of First Comes Marriage today! 

 

Life’s a Zoo with Meg Harding – Post + Giveaway

January 6, 2016

Life's a Zoo

Hi all. I’m Meg Harding and my novella Fixer-Upper comes out today. Dakota and Jake’s story originally started as a much shorter anthology submission, that I then extended by about ten thousand words and submitted on its own. Despite the holiday timing, it’s not about Christmas or even New Years. But it is about new beginnings, so the new year is a fitting time for Fixer-Upper’s release.

I don’t know how many of you have seen Frozen—I’ll admit I’ve only seen it once—but there’s a song in it about the guy being a bit of a fixer-upper. I’d forgotten about the song, until one of my friends who was attending a wedding mentioned that the bridesmaids wanted to dance to this song in regards to the groom. I thought that was a little mean, but the idea of a fixer-upper stuck with me. But I wanted to twist it a little.

People on a whole tend to see themselves as fixer-uppers, and the house in this story is a metaphor for how Jake feels about himself. But Dakota, who is doing a large part of the fixing of the house, doesn’t view Jake as in need of a fix. He’s not waiting for Jake to change. He’s waiting for Jake to realize that he’s a-okay. He wants Jake to be comfortable with himself. I like the idea that Dakota doesn’t view Jake as something that is broken, but that he accepts and is willing to work with the fact that Jake does. It’s not his job to make Jake see the truth—that’s something Jake has to do on his own—though he can help him. This is a bit of a slow burn as far as things go, and that’s important to the story. Dakota is very careful of Jake.

One of the biggest influences on me for this particular story was the idea of meet uglies. I didn’t want characters who met in a cute way, where everything went to plan before the bumps appeared. I wanted to explore characters overcoming awkwardness and embarrassment because they kept making mistakes. I liked the idea of a character falling in love with someone because they messed up, because they were unintentionally a little hazardous. Throughout the beginning of the story, Jake has a series of accidents that all lead to less than desirable results for Dakota. This was partly influenced by my own experience—in that I’m as awkward as awkward gets. If I’m trying to flirt, or impress someone, chances are I’m going to end up falling on my face. Jake’s got my inability to look competent in the face of an audience in spades.

In the majority of the things I write, I like to slide my own interests in. If you’ve read any of my past titles, you’ve seen mentions of Sherlock Holmes, Marvel, LOTR, etc. This story isn’t an exception. The first date Dakota and Jake go on is to a zoo, which may seem like a not very adult date type of thing. But it’s literally my idea of a perfect date. I LOVE zoos. I spent the last year living abroad, and I tried to go to a zoo in every country I visited. It’s important to me that somehow, someway, animals are included in my stories. There’s even a majestically named puppy that appears at the end (yet another interest of mine popping up). But back to the zoos. This scene was very much inspired by the zoos I’ve been to in the last year, and the frankly amazing things I’ve seen.

So here’s some pictures I took that can help you picture just what these two were marveling at.

 

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Now, for the fun part. A giveaway! Want to win a copy of one of my previous books with Dreamspinner? Comment below to let me know what your best first date was and one person will win a backlist title of their choice!

 

You can find me at:

WordPress / Twitter / Facebook / Dreamspinner / Google + / Amazon / Goodreads

Check out Fixer-Upper by Meg Harding – out today!

 

A Story That Needs To Be Told with Shell Taylor – Post + Giveaway

December 23, 2015

The Story That Needed To Be Told (1)

Hi, all! Shell Taylor here! I’m so, so excited to take up some of DSP’s space today and share with you a little bit about my newest release, Resurrecting Hope. It’s the second in the Home for Hope series, which focuses on the individuals who filter in and out of the Center for HOPE, an LGBT center for at-risk youth.

The first book, Redeeming Hope, told Elijah Langley’s story of redemption after losing his first love and subsequently closing himself off from the world. Through a chance meeting, he eventually became involved with HOPE and more importantly (for the purposes of our story at least) HOPE’s sexy owner, Adam Lancaster. These two were supposed to get their happy ending and move aside for other patrons of HOPE to have their story told, but generous, kind, empathetic, and trustworthy Adam had his own story that never seemed to fit anywhere in Redeeming Hope.

Did everyone see that plot bunny hop across the screen? Because that’s pretty much what happened. Adam’s traumatic childhood and transformation into the man he became had to be told. Needed to be told. Screamed at me to be told. And I’m so glad it did.

Writing Resurrecting Hope was quite possibly the most enjoyable writing experience I’ve ever had. I don’t know if it was pure adrenaline from just having signed my first book contract with Dreamspinner or the fact that I knew Adam’s background and struggles from the very first word of Redeeming Hope, but Adam’s story poured out of me with ease.

Although I knew Adam’s childhood, it wasn’t until I was listening to the song Say Something by A Great Big World that the rest of the story came together. The image of Elijah screaming these words at Adam, pleading for him to share his deepest insecurities, was so clear in my mind. The cover LC Chase beautifully designed captures a tender moment of Elijah comforting Adam right after that confession. I can never thank her enough for bringing that moment to life so perfectly for me.

I hope you all enjoy the book. Be sure to pick up Redeeming Hope first if you haven’t read it already!  I’d love to hear from you guys. Anyone who comments and tells me about their favorite childhood memory will be entered for a chance to win a copy of Redeeming Hope!

And I love chatting with people, so feel free to come find me! I mostly hang out on Facebook, but I do flaily things with Marvel, OUAT, mooshy boys, and randomness on Twitter and Tumlr!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shelltaylorpens

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ShellTaylorPens

Tumblr: http://shelltaylorpens.tumblr.com/

Blog: http://shelltaylorpens.wordpress.com/

Pre-order your copy of Resurrecting Hope here! Available December 25th, 2016!

How Far We’ve Come with Aisling Mancy – Post + Giveaway

November 6, 2015

Celebrating the Release of A Solitary Man by Shira Anthony and Aisling Mancy!

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A very special thank you to Elizabeth North, Lynn West, and all the folks at Dreamspinner Press for hosting Shira Anthony and me for the release of A Solitary Man! It’s great to be here!

My name is Aisling “Ash” Mancy and my name may be new to you. But my writing may not be. I write young adult works for Dreamspinner’s Harmony Ink Press label under C. Kennedy.

I have a unique writing background in a number of ways, not the least of which is that I was raised by a prolific author. I have also written in multiple mainstream venues for years, and spent way too much time on movie sets watching films come to life for the silver screen. Though I write for Harmony Ink Press and have spent the past four years concentrating on young adult works, I write primarily for adults—surprise!

Shira and I love to write romance but when we sat down to write A Solitary Man, we wanted to write more than a love story. We wanted to write a story to raise awareness about two very important issues: youth placed in solitary confinement and commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC). Both have devastating effects on our youth of today and leave everlasting invisible scars. In A Solitary Man, assistant district attorney, Chance Fairchild, and deputy sheriff, Xavier Constantine, are hot on the trail of a trafficking cartel whose interest isn’t only drugs, but also that of trafficking children. The story rocks some seriously hot sex and romance, but it also rocks a great mystery, spine-tingling suspense, and a lot of action—centered on these two serious issues.

While I have written GLBT content in the past, I’ve only written for the M/M romance community for a couple of years—and young adult works at that. When I peruse Dreamspinner’s wonderful library of works, it is readily apparent how much we, as authors, and you as readers, have accomplished to advance the rights of the LGBT community.

I’m old. I remember when no child protection laws existed, I remember segregation, and I remember when it was illegal to be gay in most states. Hell, I remember witchcraft was still illegal. While there have been qualified advances in the law over the past sixty years—most in respect to discrimination and hate crimes—progress in the recognition of rights and acceptance of the GLBTQIAP community has been slow. Very slow. In fact, most of the advancement has occurred in the past ten years. By way of example, intersex people were only granted negligible rights in 2006. We’re only now beginning to recognize the rights of transgender and transsexual individuals. And all of the aforementioned, from children’s rights to the rights of GLBTQIAP individuals is because we and our allies have come together to protect human beings.

The Supreme Court’s decision legalizing gay marriage is a historic event, to be sure. But it’s more than that. It ensures that every generation alive today lives in a time of profound change—not only one of change in perspective, but also one of behavior and the law. Now, more than ever before. As authors and readers, we bring awareness to the world. That makes me proud and I hope to bring you works that inspire you, give you strength and, above all, give you hope. Read more books! As tough as it may be, talk to people. Engage them in meaningful conversation. We’re changing the world one book at a time!

Comment below and let us know how else you think we’re changing the world for the better and don’t forget to enter for a chance to win! Thank you for celebrating the release of A Solitary Man with us! Go buy the book, read it, and become involved!

Now at Dreamspinner Press, ARe, Amazon, and Barnes &

Noble

Add A Solitary Man to Your Goodreads and Booklikes Shelves

Like A Solitary Man on Facebook

Thursday, October 29th Aisling is at The

Novel Approach Reviews

with A Brief and Frank Discussion of A Solitary Man

Friday, October 30th Aisling is at Jo

& Isa Love Books

with the Notes Behind the Music Playlist for A Solitary Man

Tuesday, November 4th Aisling is at Bike Book Reviews

Wednesday, November 5th

Aisling is at Joyfully Jay

Reviews

Shira is at Prism Book

Alliance

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Yarning to Write Kermit Flail with lovely Amy Lane!

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Saturday, November 7th Aisling is at Love Bytes Reviews

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Monday, November 9th Aisling is at My Fiction Nook

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Here, kitty, kitty, kitty… with M.A. Church – Post + Giveaway

October 30, 2015

Here kitty kitty kitty

Hey! My name is M.A. Church, and I’m stopping by to talk about my newest release called Behind the Eight Ball. One of the most asked questions about this series is what inspired me to write it? Well, several things lol. That’s clear, isn’t it?

*Grin*

Actually, this series started as a flash last New Year’s Eve. That’s where Trouble Comes in Threes sprang from. What I wanted for this story was a crotchety man with a sharp tongue and bad attitude sitting at home for the holiday. What I got was Kirk, a clowder full of cats that aren’t overly fond of humans, and the beginning of a series.

The first book dealt with Kirk and all the trouble life had thrown at him. In that book, you meet the betas: Aidric, Heller, Brier, and Remi. I had originally planned for the second book to be about Remi and his mate, but I figured out right quick that wasn’t going to work. Heller was the one demanding my attention. And believe me, Heller can be quite demanding. I call him a diva for a reason, lol.

It turned out going with Heller as the second in the series was the right choice. While writing Behind the Eight Ball, a very interesting set of secondary characters made their presence known. Now I knew why I couldn’t do Remi’s book yet. Heller’s book had to come first because Remi’s mate makes his appearance in Behind the Eight Ball.

Now, I write a lot of paranormal and scifi, and read just as much. While I have absolutely nothing against wolves and other big, cool shifters I’d noticed there wasn’t much out there about smaller, regular shifters. Don’t they deserve love too? This is where I mention I love cats. *Grin* I know, shocking right? If you know me, or follow me on social media, you’ve seen pictures of my writing buddy, Kitty-Kitty.

I’ve loved cats since I was a very little girl, but I was unable to have pets due to my allergies. Needless to say, as soon as I left home the first thing I did was get a cat! The second thing I did was get married, have children, and had a child who was asthmatic. We had to say bye-bye to the cat.

So twenty years later what was the first thing I did when my son moved out? You got it. I got a cat. Okay, that’s not exactly right. The cat got us, lol. On Halloween night about four years ago, this cute little gray kitten showed up in the garage. He was very used to humans, and so playful.

But taking on a pet is a big responsibility, a responsibility I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted. The Eldest Kiddo had moved out, and the Youngest Kiddo was heading off to college. The hubby and I would finally have the house all to ourselves. I refused to call the kitten anything more than Kitty-Kitty because I didn’t want to get attached.

For all the good it did.

Next thing I knew, the hubby was sneaking the kitten in. And that was the end of that. We bought all the things a cat needs and then came the trips to the vet for shots and stuff. (Wanna guess who had to deal with the crying cat? Right, lol. Me.) And that’s how we ended up with Kitty-Kitty, who the hubby calls Skeeter. *Cringe* Don’t ask me why, I couldn’t tell you. The strange thing is, the cat answers to both names.

Each title relates to the characters in its book. The first book revolves around how bad things come in threes. It’s a superstitious old saying. In the book Kirk has had a string of bad luck, and he’s waiting for the next crappy thing to happen.

In book two Heller finds himself in the position of chasing after the very mate he first rejected. He’s behind the eight ball. It means he’s in a bad situation, in a losing position. The phrase comes from pool (or billiards). When the cue (white) ball is behind the eight (black) ball, a player usually has no shot.

In book three Remi and his man mate pretty quickly, but then end up dancing around one another as they struggle with the power dynamics in their relationship. I have a title in mind for that one too, along with rough outlines and titles for Aidric and Brier’s books. *Sigh* I just need to get them written.

And that’s what inspired the Fur, Fangs, and Felines series! I’m doing a giveaway for the release of Behind the Eight Ball so comment for a chance to win an e-book from my backlist. Do you have a pet? If so, what kind? If you can’t or don’t have a pet, what kind would you have if you could?

 

Author Bio:

M.A. Church is a true Southern belle who spent many years in the elementary education sector. Now she spends her days lost in fantasy worlds, arguing with hardheaded aliens on far-off planets, herding her numerous shifters, or trying to tempt her country boys away from their fishing poles. It’s a full time job, but hey, someone’s gotta do it!

When not writing, she’s exploring the latest M/M novel to hit the market, watching her beloved Steelers, or sitting glued to HGTV. That’s if she’s not on the back porch tending to the demanding wildlife around the pond in the backyard. The ducks are very outspoken. She’s married to her high school sweetheart, and they have two children.

She was a finalist in the Rainbow awards for 2013 and is a member of Romance Writers of America, Rainbow Romance Writers, and Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

 

Author Links:

Blog * Twitter * Facebook * The Harvest FB fan page * Goodreads * Amazon

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Immutable Release Party Excerpt and Giveaway

July 8, 2015

Immutable isn’t just my first none HEA story, and my first non-anthology story with Dreamspinner Press, it’s a first in lots of ways. It’s my first ever fantasy story. I’ve done a zombie novel before now, called Patient Z, but they were very much science fiction zombies. It’s my first shifter story. It’s my first set in a historical fantasy setting. It’s not quite my first story in First Person point of view, but it’s the first of those longer than a short story that I’ve sold. So because of all of those firsts I’m just dying to see what people make of it.

Here’s an excerpt from chapter 1, to see what you make of it! Keep going and at the end there’ll be a chance to enter to win a copy.

Chapter 1

The wind was cold that morning I found him. I remember. I’d come down to the beach when the sky was barely light. Fine rain misted my hair and clothes as I scrambled down the cliff path onto the sand.

I carried a basket on my back and began filling it with driftwood as I walked. Driftwood burns with a strange blue flame, but there were so few trees on the island it was the only type of wood we ever had to burn. Those who could afford it bought coal shipped over from the mainland. Me, I pick up the sea coal that washes ashore from the coal seams exposed under the water. I always pounced on a piece of that when I saw it, as if it were a diamond. Winter wasn’t far away. Ma wouldn’t make it through the winter if I didn’t keep the cottage warm enough.

I threw those thoughts off and continued along the beach, shoving driftwood in the basket, watching among the seaweed and pebbles for the precious sea coal. With my gaze glued to the sand, I didn’t spot the body until I was close enough to see instantly that it was a man. He lay on the wet sand, pale, almost gray in the morning light.

I ran, hoping—praying—not to find him dead. He was naked, but that didn’t surprise me. The sea can strip a body bare. I dropped the basket off my shoulders as I fell to my knees beside him. It toppled, spilling out its load.

The man lay facedown, his legs still in the surf, the waves breaking over them and ebbing as if trying to pull him back into the sea. He had skin as pale as ivory—not the skin of a sailor or fisherman exposed to the sun on deck all day. His exposed back was smooth and unmarked, without the tattoos or scars from the lash sailors often had. Hair as black as anthracite lay across his shoulders, a few strands of seaweed caught in it.

I laid a hand on him, fearing I’d find him cold and dead. But he was warm. I turned him onto his back. Nobody I knew. My island, Sula Skerry, was so small I knew the face and name of everyone who lived here. This face I’d never seen. This face… I’d never seen a face like it. Not even in schoolbooks about the legends of changelings and fair folk. For he was fair, God forgive me. I’d never seen a man so fair.

He lay against my arm, eyes closed, thick black lashes brushing cheeks marred only with wet sand. I touched his chest to feel if he still breathed. He did. I left my hand there, on that warm skin, as pale as the rest of him, one dark nipple under my palm.

“Cold….”

I gasped at the sound of a voice and stared down at his face. He’d opened his large and dark eyes. So dark I couldn’t say they were any color at all, like I can say mine are blue. They weren’t merely dark brown; they were black. He’d spoken, and his mouth, his well-shaped lips, moved again. “I’m cold.”

The wind on his wet, naked skin must have been sucking the heat from him. I had to get him somewhere warm. I pulled off my jacket and wrapped it around him. But his long legs were still naked, and his…. I tried hard not to look at his member, for that’s a sin.

“Can you stand?” I asked him, grateful we understood each other. Sailors had been washed ashore here before, who spoke languages none among the islanders understood. I helped him up, but he sagged against me and I had to catch him in my arms to keep him from falling. I’d never get him up the cliff path to the cottage in this state. If I ran for help, he’d be dead of cold before I got back. I had a better idea.

“Hold on to me.” I hauled him toward the cliff face, a hundred feet or so along the beach, dragging my basket behind me. Good thing I’d been coming down here since I was a boy, when Ma was the one collecting the driftwood, and I’d followed behind her, barefoot, searching for shells or stones with holes in them—those were lucky—and always the precious sea coals.

With him lolling against my side and leaning heavily on me, I reached the mouth of a small cave. I’d first found it when I was eight years old. I’d hidden in it, listening to Ma calling me. “Callum! Callum!” A game to me, frightening to her the first time, fear in her voice that I didn’t understand. The cave seemed huge then, like a cavern. Fifteen years later I had to stoop over as I went into it, and I could reach the back in only a few steps.

It lay well above the high tide mark and only the worst storms ever reached into it, so there was little on the floor but dry sand. Some lichen grew on the walls. Nothing else lived here since it got sunshine only at dawn, as the sun rose over to the east and lit this cave low in the cliff for little more than an hour.

I lowered the man to the floor of the cave and he lay there shivering, despite having my jacket wrapped around him. What should I do? Go to the cottage and fetch him some clothes? Go to the village and fetch the constable or the doctor? I felt a strange reluctance to bring anyone else. I wanted him to myself.

“What’s your name?” I asked him.

“Breen,” he said, voice shaking as he spoke. “B… Breen.”

Breen? Where was that from? For all he spoke our language, he had a foreign look to him, with that coal black hair. Some of the shipwrecked sailors who washed up on the island before had skin browner than the most tanned and leathered of the shepherds and fishermen. This man had skin as pale as a highborn lady who’d never ventured out without a shady hat or parasol.

A fire. Yes. I could make a fire for him to warm himself by. I emptied my basket and built a fire at the mouth of the cave. Dried seaweed served for kindling, and I made a spark with the flint I had in my pocket. I blew softly on it until it caught and flames licked up. The wood ignited and the fire began to crackle. I hauled Breen closer to the mouth of the cave. A little smoke came in, but the wind was blowing from the north, down the beach, not from the sea, so most of the smoke blew away from us.

Breen sat up after a few minutes warming by the fire, pressed close against my shoulder. I didn’t know if the touch warmed him, but it sent a flush through me. Heat pooled low in my belly. I tried to ignore it. Mustn’t think on it. I could have left him then, gone up to fetch him some clothes from the cottage. He was out of the wind and had the fire and my jacket. He wouldn’t freeze in the time it took me to get there and back. But I didn’t want to go. I had a strange fear that if I let him out of my sight for even a minute he’d disappear.

“What’s your name?” he asked me suddenly, rousing me from a daydream, my mind full of… sin.

“Callum. Are you a sailor, Breen? Were you wrecked?”

“Wrecked?” He asked it as if he didn’t know what the word meant. He had an accent, not local, not even like the men who sometimes came from the mainland.

“Were you on a ship? Did it sink?”

“No. No ship.”

No ship? So how’d he come here? For he’d surely come out of the sea.

“A fishing boat?”

“It doesn’t matter,” he said. “I am here for you, Callum.”

“What?” I turned to him, thinking I’d misheard, or he’d misspoke, not knowing our language so well after all. His eyes were huge and so beautiful. Looking into them felt like falling into a tarn, or looking up into the night sky, at the velvet blackness.

“I have heard you call me,” he said, voice low, a dark, throbbing edge to it. He reached for me, his long fingers touching my face. Shock made me want to pull away. But the thrill down my spine at his touch—fingers still cold despite the fire—kept me riveted. I could no more stop him than I could fly. He leaned close. I thought he was speaking. His lips formed words, or perhaps my name, but my ears were full of the crashing of the waves and the crackle of the fire. His lips touched my mouth.

I closed my eyes. A kiss. He was kissing me. I’d never… not with a man, not a kiss. Some… fumbling with other lads, and a kiss with a lass or two, because they expected it, and because other people expected it, and it kept them from talking about me. But this… nothing had ever felt like this. His mouth slanted across mine, lips soft, but something hard behind them. No, not hard. Strong. His skin was smooth where mine was rough. I hadn’t shaved before coming to the beach.

His tongue—hot, wet—touched my lips. It should have been disgusting. Sin should feel disgusting, make me want to stop him, push him away, drag him out and toss him back in the sea that brought him. But instead it thrilled me. I wanted his tongue inside my mouth, and I opened my lips to him. It pressed in and found mine. Oh, God, to feel that for the first time. Like his tongue was a flint and mine was kindling. A spark and then flame.

Immutable_headerbanner

If you’d like to read more check out the buy link below, or enter the contest to win an ebook copy. Comment and tell us about a memorable reading first. Maybe the first time you tried a genre you thought wasn’t your thing—and loved it. Or your first M/M book. Did it change your reading habits forever?

Answer by Friday 10th, 18:00 BST (that’s UK time) and you’re in with a chance to win.

Contest now closed. Thanks for entering and congratulations to the winner JJ.

Buy Link
My Website

Second-Story Man Second Giveaway Winner!

May 30, 2015
The Brownstone Hotel with an open window or two.

The Brownstone Hotel with an open window or two.

Hi all. Robert P. Rowe here. All good things must come to an end and so it is with the Release Party for Second-Story Man. I have to turn control of the Dreamspinner Press blog back over to the publisher. Don’t forget that the book can be found here:

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/AuthorArcade/robert-p-rowe

Now comes the time to announce the winner of the ebook giveaway. If you saw the previous post you can see that the competition is tough. Meeting in a sex education class, or dialing a wrong number, or finding that certain someone hidden behind a mask are all great accidental meetings.

It’s most interesting that all of the stories seem to carry the same theme—two souls destined to meet.

But the story that really got to me came from Su. I liked the comparison of Second-Story Man to a fairy tale—that is intentional. I also found some significance in the library meeting. Read my book and you’ll see why. Finally, I thought that the answer itself was somewhat of a fairy tale. Like all good fairy tales there are those evil characters that cause trouble but the happy couple will survive and live happily ever after.

I hope that I can add to Su’s happiness by awarding the final giveaway ebook of Second-Story Man. Go to this address and click on email right below the picture:

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/AuthorArcade/robert-p-rowe

Send me your email address and I’ll pass it on to the good people at DSP to add an ebook onto your shelf.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the contest. I really enjoyed reading your stories and I hope that you will enjoy reading mine.

Don’t forget to check out my website and blog:
Website: http://www.robertprowe.com/
Blog: http://artofrobertrowe.blogspot.com/

Second-Story Man Giveaway Countdown

May 29, 2015
The bar is getting ready to close.

The bar is getting ready to close.

The final countdown for the end of this Release Party has begun. It’s Robert P. Rowe taking over the Dreamspinner Press blog to tell you about my novel Second-Story Man. The book can be found here:

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/AuthorArcade/robert-p-rowe

A central theme for Second-Story Man is that there are no accidents—everything happens for a reason. With that theme in mind I invited blog readers to enter my giveaway contest the prize is an ebook version of Second-Story Man for the person who has the best answer to this question:

“What’s the most interesting accidental way that you have met someone special in your life?”

Well the responses have been so wonderful I just had to share them with you. Here we go.

Deborah says:
Congratulations on the publication of The Second-Story Man, Robert! Fun way to hold a contest. My now-husband and I met in Human Sexuality Class in college. We were in the same discussion group, talking about our sexuality and its influences before we even started dating. Then of course we did start going out, and attending class together was like getting marriage counseling as we dated. Our 20th anniversary is this summer, so I guess it worked.

Steven Traugh says:
First of all, congratulations on your book! I’m looking forward to reading it. What a fun contest. When I decided it was time to marry, I moved to a cottage on the founding estate of Palos Verdes (an exclusive neighborhood along the beach outside Los Angeles) so that I could meet the “right kind” of girl. Imagine my surprise when I found the love of my life at work–teaching in the inner city of Los Angeles! It was love at first sight and now, 27 years later, she’s still the “right kind of woman.”

Susan says:
I was visiting my sister who was still in college and she convinced me to go to a costume Halloween party. I dressed as a flapper and met a cowboy (not too original) that I eventually wound up dating when I moved back to my hometown.

Angela says:
To answer your question i did meet my (now) husband at Carnival, at the food stand he was dressed in a funny shirt and jeans and i was dressed as an indian LOL We talked a bit and when it was time to go home he walked me to my friends place (where i stayed during the carnival festivities). We got married 4 years later and this weekend we will be married 13 years

Su says:
What an interesting contest and thank you for a chance to win a copy of your book Second Story Man. I enjoyed the book brief and the Repunzel story came to mind, with the prince climbing up the side of the tower to find the one of his dreams

I wondered which of my life stories would be interesting to you, maybe the one of how my current partner stealthy pursued (or indirectly courted) me as he knew I was very shy or how I met another man who has become my lifelong best friend. Both are quite sweet stories, but I might go with the best friend one. When I was about 13 I was starting at a new school, due to being bullied at my old one, and I immediately sought my haven, the library! After a few weeks of avoiding as many other students as I could, I was quite dismayed to find my hiding place in the library occupied by a dark auburn haired boy that I had admired from afar. His socked feet were resting up on another chair, his black rimmed glasses resting half way down his nose and he was reading one of the books that I had left there during the lunch period. He looked up and smiled (sigh) and his pale blue eyes were slightly enhanced by the enlarging effect of his reading glasses. I was not sure how to react or what to say, so thankfully he saved the day by saying he was looking for this book and would I mind sharing it with him. From that day forward he started to chat to me around the school and became my protector, as quite a few other students were jealous of our friendship. Yes he was my first crush and people thought we were dating, but we more like soul friends than anything else. I should say that he had seen me hiding in the library and decided to make friends with me. We shared our shy first kiss together and eventually, when he was about 16, as I knew something was worrying him, he told me his biggest secret and his fear. To be honest I was sad about it, but also fearful for him as I knew his parents were less than understanding and we pretended to be together until we went our separate ways when we went to university. We always remained in contact and after graduation we both worked for the same company and yes he family did reject him when he came out, but I was there for him and always will be and visa versa. So that is the story of how I met my closest and lifelong friend and protector.

Theo says:
Hi, congrats on the new release!

the interesting meeting story I have is not mine but my sister’s. She met her ex-boyfriend when she called her friend but got the wrong number. Problem was, the wrong number was owned by a man with the same name as her friend. When this man insisted he didn’t know her,she exploded quite spectacularly before realizing she dialed the wrong number. she apologized and they became a couple.

H.B. says:
Thank you for the excerpt!

I met my best friend two years before we got to know each other and actually became friends. We were both about ten and she was in the same summer program as me but we never talked to each other. She was just some other kid I was passing by and was passing by me. When I had to transfer elementary school to a school that covered grade 6-8. She saw me and I saw her it was like insta-friends.

Trix says:
I met my best friend in line for an a cappella concert at college our first year. I thought “who is that cool girl in the flowered dress?,” and it turned out she had seen me around the dorm. She doesn’t remember it, though…

All of your stories were so wonderful and original. It was really hard deciding would be this morning’s winner. But I had to choose one so I chose Trix. My reasons were simple and here’s what I told her:

Great story Trix. It’s funny how often people can see a complete stranger and instantly realize, “I know that person.” That’s a theme in my book too. There are no accidents–everything happens for a reason.

There’s still time to enter for tonight’s giveaway, but you’d better hurry. I’ll be signing off just after midnight Eastern Time.

Here are links to my website and my blog:
Website: http://www.robertprowe.com/
Blog: http://artofrobertrowe.blogspot.com/

If you missed this Release Party contact me through my Contact page on my website. I’m always interested in your comments.