April 28, 2016
Hi, I’m S.C. Wynne and I wanted to talk about why I wrote Believing Rory.
“I guess I’m the stupid one for believing Rory.”
I woke up one morning with that line in my head. I don’t know where those words came from, but it started me thinking about all the things that might make a person say something like that. My brain went to suicide.
Suicide is ruthless. Suicide is brutal to those left behind.
But I think it’s sad that when someone commits suicide the natural result is every word they ever spoke and every promise they ever made comes into question. As if the only thing that mattered was their manner of death, not their life. Surely their life should mean far more?
The problem is suicide feels like a personal failure to those of us left behind. I think it’s our nature to think we could have done something to stop it. If we’d only been more loving, more alert. We take on the burden of that person’s death as if we actually were the ones who killed them.
My MC Lane struggles with all of these feelings when his best friend Rory takes his own life. He meets another friend of Rory’s, Baron, who is also devastated by Rory’s death. The two of them form an unlikely, romantic bond that was carefully orchestrated by Rory before his death.
I suppose by writing Believing Rory I wanted to show the struggle of those left behind, and perhaps reinforce that the way one dies can never erase who they were as a person.
Has your life been touched by suicide in any way? I’m willing to admit I had suicidal thoughts when I was younger. I’m thankful I never acted on them, but I remember those feelings very strongly. Did you ever suffer with depression or thoughts of harming yourself? Did anyone close to you struggle with suicidal thoughts?
Leave a comment and let’s discuss this sensitive topic. The two comments that resonate with me the most will win an ebook of their choice from my backlist.
Check out Believing Rory today!
Will Rory bring them together or stand between them?
Eighteen-year-old Lane Graham has always relied on his braver, more confident buddy, Rory. But Rory’s sudden suicide blindsides Lane and sends him into an emotional tailspin. How’s he supposed to start college in a few months feeling this damaged?
Baron MacDonald knew Rory from playing League of Legends together. He was always intrigued by Lane’s online presence, and Rory had promised to set them up. Now that Rory’s gone, Baron has to approach Lane on his own.
On the surface, Baron and Lane couldn’t seem more different. Baron is confident and serious, and Lane is guarded and uncertain. But it’s the pain beneath the flesh that binds these two souls together like barbed wire and cement.
April 22, 2016
Hi all! Charley Descoteaux here, to celebrate the release of my first free short with Dreamspinner! It’s also my first ever “Book #2” so I’m super excited! “Pride Weekend” is the second book in my Buchanan House series and is like an appetizer, a sexy little hors d’oeuvre to whet your appetite for next week’s release of Book #3, the full length novel Tiny House!
If you enjoy audiobooks stick around, I’m giving away a code for the audiobook version of Buchanan House, the first book in the series, to one random commenter on this post.
I’m always curious about how the stories I love came to be written so I thought I’d talk about what inspired me to write “Pride Weekend”. I’ve always been in awe of people with talent in the visual arts. How cool must it be to imagine something, create it physically, and have it look like your original vision—or better?! I’ve experienced this with knitting and crocheting, but it’s just not the same with writing.
When it came time to design a cover for Buchanan House I asked for L.C. Chase because I love her style and it fit well with the stories. I’m a huge fangirl and hope for the chance to work with all of my favorite cover artists! I told her the book was an angst-lite beach read and she came up with three different covers that were all wonderful—including the one that eventually became the cover for “Pride Weekend”. As soon as I saw it a story popped into my head fully-formed. I love it when that happens!
While I was planning out the Buchanan House series, I thought it would be fun to have a short or two about guests at the camp. A guest visiting for a long weekend would have a very different perspective on the camp, and the people who run it, than just about everyone in the first book. “Pride Weekend” is, of course, focused on the main characters Adam and Silas, but the camp doesn’t run itself. ☺ I hope you’ll enjoy seeing Nathan through the eyes of these two guests.
Here’s an excerpt where Adam arrives at the camp and gets an eyeful!
Getting dating advice from an aggregate news site didn’t seem like something to be proud of, but as I sat in my car, getting my first look at Buchanan House, I couldn’t find it in me to be embarrassed. I’ve never been much of joiner, nor had I any interest in the club scene. Or in downloading an app to my phone, where my nosy but well-meaning sister could accidentally-on-purpose find it. I’d considered forums before, but every other time had found a “reason” not to create an account. In short, circumstances had controlled the abysmal state of my love life almost since high school. When I came across the article disseminating the results of an online dating survey, including the URLs of a few sites I hadn’t heard of, it seemed particularly serendipitous.
Hoping “Polysemous24”—Silas—would show up eventually, I forced myself to stop acting like a creeper in the parking lot and go up to the house. My suitcase had wheels, but it wouldn’t be rolling on the gravel. Glad I’d packed light—because how many changes of clothes does one man need for three days, even if it is Pride weekend—I carried my things to Buchanan House. Clever. I’d liked the sound of it even before I read the article that practically said it was a gay, landlocked version of The Love Boat.
It didn’t seem grander in person, which was a little surprising considering the pictures online had been almost unassuming. Rustic and homey was more like it—a long, low building with only two floors, surrounded by trees, trees, and more trees. I like the outdoors as much as the next guy, but it was a relief to hear Madonna over the sounds of the ocean when I got close to the open front doors.
Okay, the only thing I like about the outdoors is…. Okay, I don’t like the outdoors.
But I was there, and this had been my idea in the first place, so I climbed the porch steps. The inside of the lobby looked like an old movie set from a time when travel had been treated as an event. I was warming to the whole plan even before the most gorgeous man I’d ever seen glided up to me and smiled as he looked me over. Compared to everyone else in view, I was seriously overdressed in my khakis and salmon polo.
“Hello, sweetheart,” he said and extended a hand. His grip was surprisingly firm for a man wearing purple pants, a pink feather boa, and nothing else. “I’m Nathan Lucas, your hostess with the mostest. And who might you be?”
“Adam. Adam Byron. I—I mean, we have a reservation.”
“Hello, Mr. Byron.” He winked and swished back behind the counter. He pulled an old-fashioned guestbook from behind the desk and put two keys with oval brass holders on top of it as he spoke. “Welcome to Buchanan House. You’re in room seven—that’s top of the stairs and to your left. Once you get settled in, come down and join the party. At least until your friend shows up.” He winked again and moved the book toward me an inch or two.
I had to remind myself what to do—he was so tall, tanned, and blond, my brain just stopped functioning for a few seconds. I signed my name where he indicated and read the name below: Silas Grant.
Mr. Lucas asked if I wanted to take both keys with me.
“Um, no thanks. I might take a walk on the beach before Pol—Silas gets here.” My ears felt like they’d burn off my head because I’d almost called Silas by his online handle instead of his name. Not that I thought I was the only gay man to ever meet someone online… but I might be the only one who was meeting that someone for the first time at a gay retreat three hours from home.
Nathan pressed the key into my hand and closed my fingers around it. I hadn’t noticed him coming back around the counter, but he practically floated instead of walked, so I let myself off the hook for that one. “If you want to have a drink first, we’re having appletinis and rainbow Jell-O shots. Don’t be shy. If there’s anything I can do for you, Adam, let me know.” He looked me over and might have even nodded before turning and sashaying away in the direction of the music. A smattering of cheers and applause greeted him as he passed into the next room.
After I’d made the reservation, I’d received an e-mail outlining all the festivities planned for Pride weekend—both at Buchanan House and in Lincoln City. I’d missed the kick-off party on Thursday and almost hoped I would be too busy to attend the indie film screening scheduled for Sunday evening. Apparently, the “Come as You Are” party was in full swing. The open floor plan allowed a view of a dozen or so scantily clad men, most with drinks and small plates in their hands, or dancing. Every last one of them was worth at least a second look.
I felt a little winded from the whole exchange and was suddenly glad the room was only one floor up. It surprised me by turning out to be even more beautiful than the pictures, with a stone fireplace, large bed, and a daybed. The colorful garden beyond the back window and the place where the river met the ocean appeared inviting enough, but I wasn’t there to appreciate the flora. I was counting on the fauna downstairs to make the weekend memorable.
If I could work up the courage to go back down.
First I unpacked and changed into shorts and a red T-shirt. And then I changed into a green tank top. I was about to pull it off and try another style and color when someone knocked on the door. As I crossed the room, my heart pounded fast in my throat, then felt like it stopped when I pulled the door open.
Thanks for reading! “Pride Weekend” is free so don’t forget to grab your copy—just click here.
If you’d like a chance to win a copy of the audiobook version of the first book in the series, Buchanan House, leave me a comment and leave an answer to this question: What color is your feather boa?
Mine would be purple, shot through with tinsel!
I’ll be back again next Friday to celebrate the release of Tiny House, with another audiobook code to give away. Hope to see you there!
I’ll be back throughout the weekend to chat, and on Sunday evening (US Pacific Time) to choose a winner from the comments.
Speaking of free fiction, I’d like to invite you to my group on Facebook. It’s called Rainbow Snippets, and every Saturday morning (Pacific Time in the US) I pin a post for writers, authors, and bloggers of LGBTQ+ fiction to leave links to their 6-sentence snippets. You can see a sample on my blog here, and if it sounds like something you’d be interested in we’d love to have you join us. The more the merrier!
April 20, 2016
When I was young, I was informed that writing wasn’t a career. It was a hobby, a thing you did when you happened to have some time from doing your Real Life. Going to college. Getting a job. Getting married, having kids. Being “normal”.
It cannot be a surprise that ‘normal’ was never on my list of personal descriptors. I thought I wanted to do the college thing, though it did not hold my attention too terribly well. I knew I wanted a career—that was what I’d been told to do in order to be successful. I was ambivalent about marriage, and terrified of children.
And here I sit in a coffeehouse with a Macbook—what in the world has happened to the old Computer Science major—trying to decide how to interact with strangers who think that my writing is valuable. That this story I’ve painfully eked out despite my past, my thoughts, my fears, is something they find entertaining. I just have to say, you, dear readers, are amazing. Without you, so much of worth would be lost. Thank you.
My name is Sera Kane, and today I am proud and honoured to introduce you to my novella Lord of Hearth, Lord of Hollow.
When I originally lurked around on DSP wondering if I dared to try, I was caught by an anthology call. For cooking type things. Something of which I know essentially nothing about. My spouse is the chef in our household. I’ve failed at boiling water.
No. Seriously. He had to take over. And, yes, the water did start boiling for him, almost immediately.
It would be a challenge, then. A challenge to write a story that tied into cooking. I could tap into my spouse’s knowledge, though, and, really, that’s where the recipe at the end came from. A challenge to write under a deadline. But I am lackadaisical at best when it comes to scheduling, so a deadline would force me to work at a steady pace. A challenge to write for the sole purpose of trying to get it published.
It was the last that I most feared.
LoH is a story of two men hiding from their fears. Aimes Cully is a full-blooded human, something unusual in a world where ‘fae’ blood has diluted the world. When his brother—and only surviving family member—disappears after being accepted as a chef at the palace, Aimes sets out to be accepted, too. But magic is possible through one’s fae heritage, so Aimes must find other ways to make up for his lack and that includes chancy raids into faerie rings.
Fae. Faerie. Elf. So many misnomers for his kind, the Elfaegaard, and very little truth of his ancestry remains among the humans, mixed blood or not. Keanewyeth Ordioral, however, is unaffected by any of these could-be slurs, for he is the lord of his own hollow. A cursed hollow. He is a prisoner within the home of his own lands. For two centuries, Keane has been trapped here with no opportunity for escape. He cannot leave and none come and so, he’s been alone. Until a particular human is captured attempting to plunder one of his hollow’s rings, and, suddenly, Keanewyeth is reminded of the outside world and all that he has been locked away from, not the least of which is the love of another.
As their pasts cross, Aimes must come to terms with the truth of his family, and Keane must confront his so that they have a chance to overcome their fears and emerge into a brighter future, together.
Aimes and Keane are gentle reminders that we can reach beyond our current circumstances to find better things. Not just running wildly in any direction, like Aimes, or hiding like Keane, but with focused purpose. You are not defined by your circumstances, no matter how easy it is for others to try to do that to you. You are valid and worthwhile, exactly as you are.
It’s so easy to let fear decide our reactions to things, but it doesn’t have to be a wall keeping us from our hopes and dreams! When is a time that you’ve used fear to motivate you to accomplish your goals? Is there a time you overcame your fear to do something anyway? Or even a time when the fear kept you from doing it?
One thing you don’t need to fear, though, is boredom! I’m pleased to announce an exclusive giveaway. One lucky traveler will be chosen to receive a copy of Lord of Hearth, Lord of Hollow. Your entry fee is merely to comment here! I need a chance to meet you, after all! We can talk about fears, cooking, writing, anything you’d like. I’m happy to answer questions or just shoot the breeze. So, dear travelers, let’s meet!
Check out Lord of Hearth, Lord of Hollow today!
Culinary school is hard enough for Aimes Cully without mixing in an utterly underwhelming physical appearance—too small, too delicate, too red-haired, too freckled, too human—added with the inability to magically improve the food—still too human—and facing the too beautiful, too fae-looking Aleksi’s teases and taunts. When rumors surface that Aimes’s older brother’s success is a lie, Aimes is determined to prove them wrong and show that pure-blooded humans are the equal of anyone with mixed blood.
But things get worse after Aimes is caught in a faerie ring and transported to the fae hollow of Lord Keanewyeth Ordorial. As the attraction heats up, it becomes obvious that there’s something wrong in the magical home. A cursed creature appears, and everything becomes jumbled as the secrets of their lives collide into a painful concoction of Aimes’s past and Keanewyeth’s present. But if they can meld their talents, they might be able to save each.
Sera Kane has loved the written word for essentially forever, in this particular case, somewhere in the range of thirty years or so. She writes to share the fantastical things that go on in her mind on a daily basis. Her secret-but-not-so-secret desire is to write pieces that are impossible to put down. And, also, to kill off a beloved character. She has not succeeded at either of these things, but be warned that she wants to!
She currently lives in southern California, but she’s been quite a few places in her day! Her favourites include Washington– the state, not DC– Texas, and Japan. Her house is filled by an exceedingly tall husband, a very swift son, a derpy German Shepherd, and a grumpy yet loving Shih-Tzu. If she ever won the lottery, she’d have houses in all three of those places and breed Shepherds in at least one of them.
March 8, 2016
Ever knocked on wood? Ever thrown a little salt over your shoulder? Maybe it’s because you secretly believe in magic. I grew up in a family that carefully saved the wishbones from fowl and hung horseshoes over doors (tips facing up, if you please). Grandma read tea leaves, and kept the clock that stopped the day Grandpa died. When I was growing up, as far as I was concerned, the world was full of unseen powers and the occasional charm or spell during the day was only to be expected.
The question I always asked myself (and never got answered) was who you’d call if the supernatural world got rowdy and out of control. I figured there had to be some kind of supernatural police force. Some folks who knew about monsters and gods and modern magic, who could break bad luck curses no matter where they came from, and who could prosecute the criminal elements of the unseen world.
Salt and Iron is the story of one of those families. You’ve heard of them, the same way you know about knocking on wood. They’re the van Helsing family. Sure, they have an old Dutch name, but this branch of the family settled in the US a hundred years ago and they’re thoroughly American these days. Now it’s not just vampires, now whether it’s sidhe, Loa, or fay, a god or a monster, they hunt them all. It’s a family tradition. And they’ve got a big ol’ family secret too.
Lucky for James van Helsing, youngest son and total screw up, he doesn’t have to deal with monsters and magic alone. He’s got his best friend Gabe to lean on. So what if James is maybe super ultra in love with Gabe and can’t bear to tell him? It’s enough to have Gabe in his life, even at a distance. That is, until the monsters make Gabe one of their own.
Giveaway: We live in pretty rational times, but let’s face it, from horoscopes to playoff beards to lucky socks, we still believe in magic. Tell me about a magical practice you learned as a kid and where you grew up to enter to win a copy of my short story Four Alternative Christmas Presents.
Contact info: I write all kinds of stories, from contemporary romance (as T Neilson) to superhero stories and urban fantasy (as Tam MacNeil). If you want to keep up with my latest releases, get reading recs, read musings on plot and story structure, and if you want to know the best chocolate I’ve tasted lately, you can find me at Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, or, even better (because, hey, inside scoop and book giveaways!) you can sign up for my newsletter at Mailchimp.
Check out Salt and Iron today!
James van Helsing is the youngest son of the famous monster-hunting family—and the family’s big disappointment. He’s falling in love with Gabe Marquez, his oldest friend and son of the family the van Helsings have worked alongside for years. Things get even harder for James when he becomes what he and everyone else despises most—a magic user.
He didn’t mean to evolve into such a despicable person, and he knows using magic is illegal, but there’s nothing James can do about it, no more than he can stop himself from loving Gabe. Just when things can’t seem to get worse, he and Gabe are called to help nab a network of magicians who are changing destiny. Not just any destiny, but the destinies of the van Helsing and Marquez families. James foresees a terrible fate, one in which monsters emerge from the cracks, along with his dark secret. And that’s when people start to die.
January 22, 2016
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Get your copy of Yesterday now!
January 18, 2016
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!
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:
Get your copy of “Song of Song” today!
January 15, 2016
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.
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
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.
Get your copy of First Comes Marriage today!
January 6, 2016
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.
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:
Check out Fixer-Upper by Meg Harding – out today!
December 23, 2015
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!
Pre-order your copy of Resurrecting Hope here! Available December 25th, 2016!
November 6, 2015
Celebrating the Release of A Solitary Man by Shira Anthony and Aisling Mancy!
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!
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
Shira is at Prism Book
Friday, November 6th RELEASE DAY CELEBRATION!
Yarning to Write Kermit Flail with lovely Amy Lane!
Aisling is at Divine
Aisling is on Dreampsinner’s Blog
Saturday, November 7th Aisling is at Love Bytes Reviews
Sunday, November 8th
Shira is at My Fiction
FACEBOOK CHAT with Shira & Aisling 2-5pm EST
Monday, November 9th Aisling is at My Fiction Nook
Tuesday, November 10th Shira is at Bike Book Reviews
Wednesday, November 11th Shira is at Scattered Thoughts
and Rogue Words
TWEET, COMMENT, AND VISIT A SOLITARY
MAN’S FACEBOOK PAGE
TO BE ENTERED TO WIN A TOTE
SIGNED BOOKS FROM SHIRA &