April 29, 2016
Hi all! Charley Descoteaux here, to celebrate the release of the third book in my Buchanan House series, Tiny House! You might have read the first book, Buchanan House, and if so you’ve already met the heroes: Nathan and Paulie. If not, I’m giving away a free download of the audiobook so you can meet them! Stick around for the excerpt and find out how to enter.
One of the fun parts about writing a series is that I already know some of the characters, of not all of them. I’ve had the chance to hang out with them and get to know them during the writing process. Bringing a supporting character into a starring role and giving him his own HEA is like playing matchmaker for an old friend!
When I started Tiny House I knew Nathan fairly well but didn’t really know Paulie at all. Getting to know him was a lot of fun. At first I only saw him through Nathan and Eric’s eyes. They’ve all been friends for a long time, so that worked out well. But I don’t really get to know a character until I’ve written with their voice in my head so Paulie kept surprising me. Until one paragraph in Nathan’s POV.
Nathan drew his hand down Paulie’s arm and wove their fingers together. “Regardless of how it might look, your friends know you. I know you. So I know I don’t have to worry. I know you’re loyal to a fault. I know you say you love dance mixes, but your MP3 player is full of nineties music like Dave Matthews and Incubus. I know everyone called you PJ until your brother started calling you Paulie when you and his son were both little boys of seven, and I know the noises you make when you come.”
Part of my process when getting to know new characters is to find their music. I’d been searching for a soundtrack for Tiny House, music I could play to get in the right mood to write this story. I thought that would sound like the songs I’d danced to at the beginning of the 21 Century, but somehow it just didn’t feel right. As soon as Nathan told me what music Paulie really listened to, going back and filling in Paulie’s sections became much easier.
Here is my playlist for Tiny House, because it never would have come together without Paulie’s input.
Incubus Make Yourself
“When it Comes”
“I Miss You”
“Out From Under”
Dave Matthews Band Crash and Under the Table and Dreaming
I listened to these songs, in this order, over and over and over for the four months I lived in Nathan and Paulie’s heads. Which made it so easy to get into the right frame of mind for edits, or writing blog posts!
My mp3 player is filled with an eclectic mix of music (or maybe it only looks like it belongs to more than one person). I listen to Alice in Chains, Led Zeppelin, Vince Guaraldi, Metallica, Peter Frampton, Beethoven, Pearl Jam, Slipknot, and I have a list with my favorite jazz standards to soothe jangled nerves after an especially difficult day at work.
What music is on your iPod or mp3 player that would surprise your friends?
Spill, and you could win a free copy of the audiobook version of Buchanan House, the first book in this series!
While you’re thinking about how honest to be about your musical guilty pleasures, check out this excerpt from Tiny House. It’s not from the scene above because that’s too spoilery to share, but this one isn’t. This post was about Paulie so it seems fitting that the excerpt be from his point of view. He’s just finished helping Eric in the kitchen for a celebration at Buchanan House, and is ready for desert…
By the time Eric and Paulie finished the last of the evening’s work, Paulie had a nice buzz going. His thoughts had strayed to his own father whenever he’d had a free second, something which usually led to at least a drink or two. Paul Senior had been gone for nearly twenty years, but Paulie still missed him almost every day. He missed his kind and gentle nature and his quiet confidence as much as the way he’d seemed to have the answer to every question.
As he cleaned up, he smiled as a thought of his parents together came to the front of his mind. His father would enter the kitchen when Mom was working, wrap both arms around her waist, and ask if she’d been nipping into the cooking sherry. As far as Paulie knew, they’d never had any alcohol in the kitchen, so he eventually figured out that must’ve been some kind of code.
The lack of such codes in his own life weighted his shoulders, despite his overall good mood.
A sound startled Paulie from his memories, and he looked up to see Nathan, who was also nearing half drunk but still looked ravishing in his sixties-inspired outfit—orange pants with a subtle paisley print, topped with a simple blue silk shirt. Sometime during the evening he’d abandoned his shoes, and Paulie ached to run his foot alongside Nathan’s sand-smoothed arch.
“Have I told you lately how fabulous you are?” Nathan glided close to Paulie’s side and hugged him.
Paulie’s hands were wet, so he leaned into Nathan’s warmth for a moment.
Nathan held him out at arm’s length and grinned. His skin glowed with tan and with his buzz. Paulie knew the look in his eyes, even if he hadn’t seen it for a while. It made his heart race. “Tonight couldn’t have gone better. Everyone loved your mini s’mores desserts.”
“I’m glad. It was a fun party.”
Nathan’s flush crept from his cheeks, down his neck, and onto his chest.
Almost like when he’s coming.
“Let’s get out of here for a while.” Nathan grabbed his hand. They made it almost to the side door before he stopped. “Oh. Can you? I mean…. Can you?”
Paulie blinked. Between his fatigue (which didn’t bother him nearly as much as it had moments before) and Nathan’s special look aimed right at him….
“Or have you promised—”
“No. I can.”
Nathan’s posture relaxed immediately. He looked even more delicious than he had a moment before, and downright slinky as he cozied up to Paulie’s side. Nathan slipped an arm around his waist and applied gentle pressure to his lower back.
The door opened, and Paulie could only guess Nathan had opened it, because he couldn’t tear his eyes away from the triangle of bronze skin at Nathan’s throat, framed perfectly by the rich blue silk of his shirt. Paulie’s head practically spun with thoughts of the boathouse. Eric and Nathan hadn’t done anything with it yet—they’d been too busy to finalize a plan, let alone to turn Tim loose on it. As they slipped out the side door, Paulie remembered clearing a corner of the workbench so he could bend Nathan over it. Fucking Nathan while surrounded by the strangely charming scene of canoes, oars, and colorful antique glass floats hanging just below the ceiling, flashing colors around the dusty room, was one of his most revisited memories of the previous summer. It had been a long time ago, but the boathouse had seen enough action to become one of Paulie’s favorite places at the camp.
They’d only made it two steps across the porch when Paulie heard footsteps coming from the parking lot. The porch wrapped all the way around Buchanan House, but guests didn’t usually venture around the kitchen side. No reason for them to. There wasn’t really anything there, but the entire way around was well lit just in case. The crash of heavy footsteps came around the corner seconds before Paulie saw the men attached to it.
Nathan squealed in surprise and grabbed Paulie tighter.
The men didn’t notice them at first. They only had eyes for each other and seemed to be laughing about being lost. The pair stopped and pulled back a step when they first saw Nathan and Paulie, as though they expected trouble of some kind. Thankfully, they relaxed quickly. All four of them.
“Sorry, we’re looking for the beach. Where did it get off to?” The men leaned against each other and laughed.
Nathan kissed Paulie’s cheek and took a step away from him. His little smile held a big dose of regret, and Paulie nodded to accept his completely unneeded apology. “Let me show you.” Nathan waved them along. When Paulie turned to go back inside, Nathan took his hand and squeezed.
Paulie followed as Nathan led the couple around the building, down the wheelchair ramp, and through the backyard. Paulie hadn’t noticed the brick border separating the lawn from the flowerbed had been transformed into a path. He grinned, thinking about how little Nathan liked to wear shoes, despite the fact that he owned several dozen pairs. Paulie made a mental note to check out the new brick path in the light; in the dark backyard, lit with fairy lights and a few strategically placed solar yard lights, it made him think of a brick road a la The Wizard of Oz.
They’d almost reached the beach by then, and Nathan had started his story. The story he always told tipsy guests who wanted to go out to the beach. Especially at night. Nathan would remain with them until they came back off the beach, encouraging them to stay well away from the water. Nathan had told the story of how Eric had almost drowned to many guests with a daredevil bent. Since he left out the part about Tim saving him and the two of them falling madly in love, the story usually worked to keep drunken guests safe from the briny deep.
Thank you for reading!
If you’d like to read the whole story you can get your copy of Tiny House, Book #3 in the Buchanan House series, here:
Be sure and grab your free copy of Book #2 “Pride Weekend” here.
I have to keep the folks at the Evil Day Job happy but will be in and out as much as I can today, and throughout the weekend, to chat.
Random.org will choose a winner of the audiobook code for Buchanan House on Sunday evening (US Pacific Time). Have a great weekend!
Tiny House Blurb:
Pride weekend is over, but for Nathan Lucas, the summer is just heating up. He appears to have it all. He’s tall and blond, ripped and handsome, and half owner of Buchanan House, a successful gay retreat on Oregon’s beautiful central coast. But his joie de vivre hides a fear of abandonment. When he was twelve, his mother had triplets, and instead of the cherished only child, Nathan became a scapegoat for his exhausted parents, and he has never truly dealt with that pain.
Portland chef Paulie Nesbitt is head over heels in love with Nathan. They’ve been drinking buddies with benefits for years, while Paulie has not-so-secretly yearned for more. Paulie’s extra pounds and self-doubt have kept him from acting on his feelings. Their friends know they would make the perfect couple, but Nathan and Paulie will have to let go of past insecurities if they want a future together.
April 22, 2016
“Knobs” by Scotty Cade
Two cadets from very different worlds. One forbidden love.
Scotty Cade here. First I’d like to thank Hayley at the Dreamspinner Press Blog for allowing me to tell you a little bit about “Knobs,” my newest release and let you meet Gus and Sam and get a glimpse into their daily life at the Citadel. Later in the posts you can read an excerpt and I will be telling you how you can win a book from my backlist.
So when I was asked to write these blog spots, I posted on Facebook and asked my fans what in particular they would like to know about Knobs, besides the premise of course. The answers came in fast and furious and included a history of the Citadel and what all this “Hell Week” stuff is all about, The inspiration for the book, Character interviews with each main character, as well as a little about cadet life. I have six blog posts to do so I can cover all these requests with one or two to spare. So here goes. I hope you enjoy.
Before we get started, here is the blurb for Knobs.
Angus Conrad (Gus) McRae is a privileged Charlestonian following family tradition and attending the Citadel, harboring big dreams of a military career. With the infamous hell week behind him, he quickly realizes being a Knob (a freshman cadet) is just as tough—especially for a man like Gus who must keep his sexuality a secret. Then a sudden dorm reassignment places him in a room with one of the football team’s top players: working-class jock Stewart Adam (Sam) Morley—and life gets increasingly complicated.
Gus can’t imagine a man like Sam as gay, yet there’s something between them—exchanged glances, the occasional innuendo. Sexual tensions rise, leaving them more than friends but less than lovers. Gus and Sam know there’s too much to lose and they must keep their attraction hidden. If they fail, they risk destroying their hopes and dreams for a prosperous future in a military world that’s not yet ready to accommodate masculine gay men.
Sam sitting comfortably on his bunk in his dorm room waiting for Gus, looking a little nervous.
Q- While we wait for Gus why don’t you tell us about yourself Sam. And remember this is off the record. Nothing you say here can ever be used against you. I want the real story.
Sam sighed and seemed to relax just a bit.
A – Hey ya’ll. Sam teases drawing out the word like the Southerners do with much amusement.
I am Cadet Stewart Adam Morley and I am a freshman or a Knob at The Citadel, a conservative military academy located in Charleston, South Carolina. A ‘Knob’ is a freshman and during our first year attending the Citadel, we are pushed to our mental and physical limits day in and day out. So next time you’re feeling down, rejected, insulted, made fun of, or generally upset, just remember: it could be worse. You could be a Knob.
Each time I see an upperclassman, I have to tuck in my chin and shaved head until it becomes one with my neck, push out my hips, and arch my back with my hands at my sides. I must always know my next three meals by heart, and can be interrupted at any time in the non-existent privacy of our tiny rooms in the barracks. A room I share with Gus. I mean Cadet Angus Conrad McRae III. A mouthful huh? And speaking of, Sam looks at his watch. I have no idea where he is. He was supposed to be here five minutes ago. He is normally very prompt. We all are. We have to be.
Life as a ‘Knob,’ makes me realize I am not as tough as I thought I was, but that I can do better, more than I ever thought I could.”
Q – Give us a little more about your personal life.
A – A little more about me? Well, I hail from Southfield, Michigan, just outside of Detroit and it wasn’t always what I’d call comfortable. While some of the areas were nice, the block I grew up on wasn’t the safest. But I knew the streets, knew what areas to avoid, and once I was behind the multiple locks on my front door, I always enjoyed a sense of security only home could provide.
When I’d finally decided to accept the football scholarship I was offered to the Citadel, the anxiety over leaving home wasn’t the only thing weighing heavily on me. I mean…I was twenty, and it was time, but the thought of my mom having to care for my younger siblings and herself without me around was daunting. I was the man of the house. I’d taken on that role at twelve when my stepdad had followed in the shoes of my real dad and split. No note, no forwarding address, just gone. Well, back then we hadn’t needed the lazy bastard. My mom and siblings had me. But now I was also leaving. Not like my father and stepdad had, but I was leaving all the same. It didn’t matter how many times Mom had tried to convince me otherwise, I’d felt like I was abandoning my family, my responsibilities, and it sucked.
When I left for the Citadel, I’d never been away from home. I knew nothing about Charleston, South Carolina. The people were all strangers, the streets unfamiliar. Yet it was going to be my home for the next four years.
I thought I was prepared, but that’s what I get for thinking so highly of myself. The entire Citadel system is designed to strip us of our individuality, ‘Knob year’ aims to make me a seamless part of the greater group. I must know the name of every upperclassman, or risk punishments, which includes running around the perimeter of the four story fortress in my underwear, so inside the barracks and outside the confines of my room, a word from me is rarely heard.
I’ve had the door to my room kicked open at all hours of the night, been berated for a single article of clothing out of place and then had all my articles of clothing pulled from my drawers and locker and tossed onto the floor. Once I was able to complete the pushups I was forced to do, again in my underwear, I might add, then and only then was I able to go back to my room and put everything away and prepare for another inspection.
Duty. Honor. Respect. Is my motto. And for the next four years I will eat, sleep, breathe and live it. Along with Sam of course. I can do anything if Sam is by my side.
The door opens and a handsome cadet walks in.
There you are. Sam says. Finally, this is my roommate Gus.
Gus is out of breath. Sorry. My class ran a little late.
No problem. Sam said. I covered the Knob stuff.
Q – He did. So just start by telling a little about yourself Gus.
A – Okay. Well, I guess I’ll start by telling you I come from what southerners might call a fine Charleston Family. Other non Charlestonian’s might simply call it a privileged upbringing, but either way I’m grateful for everything I had growing and everything I have now,” Gus says looking at Sam and winking.
Sam beams with pride. He leans over and squeezes Gus’ knee playfully.
Let’s see. My father is a Charleston attorney and he along with my grandfather are both graduates of the Citadel. It was a given that I would attend the Citadel, but what I was to major in? Now that was a different story. Since I was young, I always wanted a career in the military, but my family wants me to join the family law practice and this has been a very touchy subject and the source of many arguments between us since I was fifteen years old.”
Q – Were you groomed for the Citadel from a young age and were you prepared when you arrived?
A – Let’s just say I was groomed. In fact, by the time I was twelve, I had every book about the Citadel ever written and had even memorized the The Guidon.”
Q – The Guidon?
A – It’s the Knob bible, so to speak.
Q – I see.
A – So was I prepared? I thought I was. Or at least acted like I was. But let’s just say, the day before I was to report, in the solitude of my bedroom, with no prying eyes and no pretenses to keep up, I lowered my defenses and allowed myself a rare moment to doubt that I could really pull this off.
I mean…I stared at my bed and looked at the few things I was allowed to bring. And I thought. This stuff is going to be my life for the next four years. But that wasn’t completely true. The stuff on my bed along with grueling physical training and an impossible academics schedule—that was going to be my life. I think I’d just been determined to be strong. But then I remember thinking about Hell Week and breaking into a cold sweat, my stomach starting to churn. I had to get through hell week or nothing else mattered.
So outwardly, yeah I thought I was prepared. But to be honest, even my worst nightmares didn’t compare to the real thing.
But everything changed when I saw Sam across a room on matriculation day. He’d already been through Hell Week because the Corps Squad, I mean the athletes, have matriculation day one week ahead of the rest of the Knobs. We locked eyes and although we hadn’t met, I felt a connection to him. And right then and there I knew if he could do it, so could I. And I did.
Q – Is that when you two met?
A – Not really. No.
Q – Then when?”
A – On second day of hell week, my roommate quit and I was left without a roommate. And then Sam came through the door carrying his duffle bags. That the first time we officially met.
We’d locked eyes across a couple crowded rooms but we’d never even said hello. The funny thing is that when we did meet, we didn’t really hit it off.
Q – You didn’t?
A – No. Sam thought I was a privileged asshole, and maybe I was a little, but I tried not to be.
Q – Its obvious you two care about each other now. When did that happen?
A – Care doesn’t begin to capture what we have.
Q- Okay sorry. So how do you maintain a relationship with so many restrictions?
A – Let’s just say we make do.
Gus and Sam both looked at the back of their dorm room door.
A – We spend a lot of time there.
Q – At the back of the door?
A – Yep. It’s the only place we can be intimate. And by intimate, I mean steal a kiss every now and then.
Q – Just a kiss? No sex?
A – No sex. We could get expelled for that, but we manage. I can wait for this man as long as it takes. But I don’t want to sacrifice our educations for something that we can wait for.
Q – Okay Cadets. I think I get the idea. Thanks for you time.
A – Our pleasure.
In closing, I hope this gives you a good understanding of the discipline required to attend the Citadel and just a sneak peak into Gus and Sam’s world. The fact that they were able to find unexpected love in such a demanding environment and make it work shows the depth of their commitment. If you’ve ever been pushed to your limits, I’d like to hear about it. Please posts and each entry will be eligible for a free copy of “The Royal Street Heist.” Book one in the Bissonet & Cruz Investigations series.
Check out Knobs today!
Here’s where you can find me and “Knobs”, as well as my other stories.
Scotty Cade left Corporate America and twenty-five years of Marketing and Public Relations behind to buy an Inn & Restaurant on the island of Martha’s Vineyard with his partner of over twenty years. He started writing stories as soon as he could read, but just five years ago for publication. When not at the Inn, you can find him on the bow of his boat writing gay romance novels with his Shetland sheepdog Mavis at his side. Being from the south and a lover of commitment and fidelity, most of his characters find their way to long healthy relationships, however long it takes them to get there. He believes that in the end, the boy should always get the boy.
“Are you gonna come in and close the door behind you?” Gus asked sarcastically. “Or are all the cadets going to get to see me in my underwear?”
Sam was sort of standing there more for effect than anything, but his eyes were glued to Gus’s body. His stomach was ripped, and the muscles in his thighs were visible through the legs of his boxer briefs.
“Okay,” Sam said. “If I close the door, will you at least talk to me?”
Gus shook his head. “I really don’t think you want to hear what I have to say right now.”
“I think you’re wrong about that,” Sam said, stepping in and allowing the door to close behind him.
Sam removed his cover and tossed it onto his bunk. He was tired of this cat-and-mouse game. Instead of untying his shoes, he brought his left foot up and tugged at his shoe until it came off. He tossed the shoe into the bottom of his locker, making quite the thud, and removed the right one much the same way.
He turned and rested his hands on his hips. “Are you gonna talk to me now?”
Gus didn’t respond. He went to his closet, removed his toiletries bag, and headed for the door. Sam took two steps forward, put both hands on Gus’s shoulders, spun him around, and backed him up against the door.
Their faces were so close Sam could feel Gus’s warm breath against his cheek.
Sam slammed one hand against the back of the door while leaving the other one on Gus’s shoulder. “Fuck, Gus! Yell at me. Curse me out. Do something. Don’t just give me the silent treatment. You’re not leaving this room until you talk to me.”
Gus smiled incredulously. “So, what? You’re gonna hold me hostage now?”
“If that’s what it takes,” Sam said.
“Fine! You want me to talk? Here goes. You are the most selfish bastard I’ve ever met. You’ve treated me like shit since the first day we met, and I’m not going to be your punching bag anymore. Please go to the Academic Officer and ask for a transfer. Tell him we’re incompatible. I’ll back you up on that one.”
“I don’t want a transfer,” Sam said, his lips now inches away from Gus’s.
“Why not?” Gus said quietly through clenched teeth, just in case there were any stray cadets roaming around in the hall. “You’ve done everything possible to offend me and my family. Why not move on to another cadet? Go ahead, man, share the charms of Stewart Adam Morley with the entire Citadel, one cadet at a time.”
Gus glared at him, the normal bright silver-gray of his eyes now a dark, gloomy gray. “Furthermore, you can fuck with me all you want, but leave my crazy family out—”
Sam had heard enough. Before Gus could finish his sentence, Sam covered Gus’s lips in a crushing kiss.
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!
March 25, 2016
Hello good people. This is Wade Kelly here with a special guest post. I’ve had a busy week. On Monday, March 21, I had an audiobook release. Names Can Never Hurt Me is now out for your listening pleasure! I am so very excited as I believe Jack Amber captures the voice of Nick Jones so very well!
Then, today, March 25, my new novel Bankers’ Hours has come out!
When thinking of what to write about for my blog tour, I asked my fan group The Wade Brigade what kinds questions they would like me to answer. One person, Eric, asked this:
Eric asked: Unlike a lot of authors, you do tend to write CLEAR across the scale. Do you have to balance out writing a tough novel with something lighter? Does it wring you out when you write the tough ones, or does it help you work through your own demons? (If you have any?)
I found this a good one to answer here. Eric is right, I DO write clear across the scale. So much so, I came up with an “Angst” scale of my own for people to refer to when choosing one of my novels. I believe you need to be prepared for what you read. I do not want a fan of lighthearted romance to pick up When Love Is Not Enough and have their heart ripped out with out them realizing it until it’s too late. I want happy fans. If you want your heart ripped out, then by all means read my angsty stuff! But I know that I have fans who only want the light stuff. I give it to them straight on what NOT to read.
That said, Bankers’ Hours is on the lighter end of the scale. (Refer to my angst scale image) BH (as I often refer to it,) is #3. If any of you have read my stuff, so far My Roommate’s A Jock? Well, Crap! is rated #2 on the one end, with When Love Is Not Enough on the other end at #10. When I was writing Bankers’ Hours, I was having fun. I was in a relatively good place emotionally for most of the writing of BH and I hope when people read it, they will have fun. Of course it wouldn’t be a Wade Kelly novel without a little angst. I hope some of the struggles are realistic and the emotions my characters go through come across genuine.
Several other novels are not so light and fun. To answer Eric’s question—yes, I work through my own demons when I write. When Love Is Not Enough ( WLINE) was born out of pain. In 2010 when I wrote it I had lost all my friends because I had the audacity to write a book with gay characters. (That book is out of print right now.) I was shunned for portraying homosexuality as acceptable. I was supposed to condemn it, and I had not. This cost me my church family, my friends, and nearly my marriage. Also during that year, I was going through an adoption. This was the toughest year of my life and it poured out through my writing. The main character Jimmy Miller, commits suicide. (this is known at the beginning of the novel.) I had to focus my pain somewhere, and Jimmy, Darian, and Matt came out of that pain. Since then, I have been messaged by many readers who that me for that book. I can see it was needed, and part of me is thankful for the pain I went through because it made my characters very genuine. The sequel, The Cost Of Loving (TCOL) features the persecution I went through involving the church.
My Roommate’s A Jock? Well, Crap! was written right after WLINE. YES, Eric, I had to balance out the tough novels with something light. JOCK was fun. I needed fun after writing Jimmy and Darian. They felt such pain and I had to think of something lighthearted. Cole is my sarcastic self and was written when I was feeling really good about myself.
Names Can Never Hurt Me, is the book in the middle of my scale. I wanted to get back to some angst, but I wanted to come at it from a different side. Instead of writing the character angst happens TO, I wrote from the POV of the love interest of the guy with a hard back story. Nick Jones is sort of slow on the uptake and kind of stupid at times, he’s sort of a slut, but he’s got a heart of gold. RC is my opposites attract love interest for Nick. RC has the really though backstory. This gives some angst, but it isn’t first hand knowledge, which gives it a lighter feel. I actually do the same thing with No! Jocks Don’t Date Guys ( JOCK 2) as I use a harsh backstory in Alonzo’s life, but the main character, Chris, finds out about it after the fact. When the rough stuff is not experienced first hand, it is not as intense.
I wrote NAMES, and a book called Misplaced Affection back to back and both are much heavier than JOCK. So, to balance out the pain, I wrote JOCK 2 and BH back to back. I need the fun!
I just finished writing JOCK 3 and poured my feelings into my characters. Right now I’m writing JOCK 4. Both of these are being written when I have some major emotional upheaval in my life so that will probably translate into tougher emotions. IDK. It’s the JOCK Series so it is supposed to be light. I’m trying! But the JOCK books will end up across the scale, but no higher than a #4.
I think that writing what you feel does help purge the demons. I can also put a happy ending on something that doesn’t feel so happy to me at the time as a way of searching for hope in myself. My goal when I write is to touch on real life situations and connect with what readers feel, and then to give them hope.
So if you are looking for an escape that is somewhat light, then maybe you’d like Bankers’ Hours. It’s quirky and meant to make you laugh, and maybe cry a little. Or, if you like audiobooks, Nick Jones is the character I think shows the most growth of all my books in Names Can Never Hurt Me.
I hope you all have a great weekend! I will leave you with an excerpt from Names Can Never Hurt Me, but after you read that, look for my other excerpts and blog posts for my blog tour for Bankers’ Hours.
The links to all the posts are on MY BLOG, to be updated daily. There are prizes to win and contest rules on those blogs. I hope to see you there!
This is the official tour list of stops:
February 24 – Prism Book Alliance
March 18 – MM Good Book Reviews
March 22 – Long and Short Reviews
March 23 – My Fiction Nook
March 24 – Oh My Shelves
March 25 – Divine Magazine
March 25 – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
March 28 – Love Bytes
March 29 – Gay Book Reviews
March 30 – The Novel Approach
For LINKS to all the stops, hop over to MY BLOG.
The BUY LINK for Bankers’ Hours is HERE.
The Names Can Never Hurt Me audiobook HERE.
Here ya go….
“Are you going to hide up here all night, or are you going to introduce me to your friend?” My mom smiled pleasantly, but I knew she was irked that I hadn’t already introduced him while we were all down in the kitchen. Not officially anyway. She stood in the middle of my room with her hands clasped behind her back. Waiting. If I didn’t do as asked, she’d probably stand there all night. I could comment about her being intrusive, but really, did I need to? I wasn’t bothered.
“Sorry, Mom, this is RC. RC, this is my mom, Cathy Jones.”
RC held out his hand and shook hers. “RC? Is that a nickname or your initials?” Leave it to Mom to broach the very question I had been dying to ask for a while but hadn’t.
He cleared his throat. “Um, they’re my initials, but also a nickname. My full name’s Raffael Charles Coppola, ma’am.” He looked unsettled as he told her.
“Raffael Coppola,” she repeated. “What a great Italian-sounding name.”
“Yes, ma’am. My father was Italian. My mother’s Greek.”
My mom smiled at RC and looked over at me. “I’m going to lie down and read before bed. Try not to be too loud in here.” She turned and walked out.
I knew her comment contained a double meaning of some sort. We weren’t loud before. She left the door open, and I was fine with it. We weren’t doing anything. I turned my attention to the TV and shot someone else. After a couple of minutes, I asked that burning question, “So, why do you go by RC? Raffy’s a pretty cool nickname.”
“That’s not what they called me in school,” he replied very quietly.
I noticed RC had stopped shooting when his character stood motionless and got killed by the advancing enemy soldier, so I looked over at him to see what was wrong. He was staring at the floor, controller limply held in his grasp. “RC?”
“I was a fat kid in school,” he whispered, however it was very quiet in the room after I paused the game so I could hear him well. He wasn’t looking at me. He was looking down, but I highly doubted he was counting carpet fibers. He continued slowly, “Kids weren’t very nice.”
RC sat very still and he didn’t look up. Am I supposed to say something? I didn’t know what was appropriate to say. “Um, yeah, I know. Kids can be mean. I’ve done some really shitty things.”
“Everyone called me Raffael until second grade. My mom liked my full name, and that’s how I got introduced. Then I remember eating a ham sandwich at lunch one day and some kid had just learned that capicola was a type of ham. He started laughing and slapping the table as if he’d heard some funny joke. When another boy asked what he was laughing about, he said my named rhymed with a type of ham. The whole table started laughing, and by the end of the day everyone was calling me Capicola instead of Coppola.”
“That’s not so bad. I like ham.” I tried sounding positive, but it didn’t help.
Without reaction to my comment RC said, “They all laughed and started making pig sounds. I was already fat and ridiculed by some kids, but when those other kids started oinking whenever I walked by, it only amped up the harassment because then almost all of my class was making fun of me. It went on all year. When I returned in third grade, I hoped it would change, but it didn’t. There were less random oinks in class, but I after threw up on the bus one morning the nickname changed from Capicola to Ralph.”
“That’s not bad. We have a neighbor named Ralph. I don’t see how that’s so awful when you could easily derive Ralph from Raffael.”
He looked at me then, and the pain in his eyes was dreadful. “It is when ‘Ralph’ is accompanied with retching sounds. It never stopped. The noises and euphemisms for vomit continued through high school. Kids didn’t oink as much, but they pretended to throw up when they passed me in the halls. I was called Vomit, Yackhead, Pukeface, and Upchuck. Kids asked questions like ‘Did you lose your lunch?’ or ‘Can I toss your cookies?’ I made the mistake of crying in front of someone in fifth grade, and that’s when it solidified into shameful taunting for the rest of my life. No one ever called me Raffy. It was always something derogatory.”
RC looked away. I guess looking at me as I sat there with a stupid dumbfounded expression glued to my face was not helping alleviate his embarrassment of the personal pain he had endured in school. He’d just revealed the truth behind his nickname RC, and I gave no reaction at all. I should have, but I didn’t know what to say at first. I’d been one of those guys. I was the jerk in school who pointed out the flaws in others and laughed when they puked on the bus. I was never as malicious as RC had experienced, but I also knew I was not very different from that now. How often had I judged others in my head, yet without verbal aspersions?
The main reason I hadn’t called RC fat when I first saw him was because Marcy said it. Hearing her cut somebody down made me feel bad. If I’d have done it first, I don’t think I would’ve apologized. I compared people, but I didn’t look at someone and automatically think fat, ugly, poor, Asian, bad hair, needs a bath…. Okay, I did think that with RC. He’d looked scruffy and unkempt and I postulated he needed lessons in proper hygiene. It was only because I didn’t know him. Once I’d found out about the job and the skin issues, it all made total sense. And now, he looked way better.
However, after hearing someone from his past would make him feel so worthless, I was angry. Raffael was his name, not Ralph or Capicola or—for fuck’s sake—Vomit! And Raffy was my friend. I’d never had a friend who had been bullied like that. I had always been the one joining in the torment of others. I never instigated, but I think it was because I feared getting caught. But if someone else started the teasing, I’d had no qualms assisting… back then. I was different now.
It happened in high school. Somewhere between eighth and tenth grade, our little “gang” gelled, and it wasn’t an issue excluding others. We didn’t need to make fun of them or bully them for being ugly or fat. We tended to stick to our own. We were the “pretty people,” as M-L had put it. Others stayed away by default. We became a gang without the hate crimes. We didn’t beat others up or stuff them into lockers. We hung out and partied and drank and had loads of sex and talked about careers and college and the future. Our gang became a stagnant bubble of “senior year” even though most of us had graduated college and found the careers we’d talked about in high school.
So when RC described his past, I couldn’t help but consider it could have easily been me tormenting him. It wasn’t, and it wouldn’t be now, but it could have been. I felt terrible thinking I had it in me to hurt him like that.
I finally worked up my nerve to whisper, “I’m sorry.”
RC straightened and took a deep breath. He stood up and shrugged it off. “If that was the worst thing to ever happen to me, I think I’d be grateful. But the rest is a story for another day.”
“You didn’t need to say all that to me. Not if it’s painful.”
“Yeah, I did.”
“Because it’s like you said three weeks ago… I feel comfortable around you. I know lots of things about you, but we hadn’t gotten around to me yet. I didn’t want to dump it all on you at once, but I felt like I should start with something. After your mom asked my name, it seemed like the right time.”
My heart warmed. “You feel comfortable around me?”
“Yes. It feels like you’re the first friend I ever had. And if you give me shit over it, I’ll pound you.”
Wade Kelly lives and writes in conservative, small-town America on the east coast where it’s not easy to live free and open in one’s beliefs. Wade writes passionately about controversial issues and strives to make a difference by making people think. Wade does not have a background in writing or philosophy, but still draws from personal experience to ponder contentious subjects on paper. There is a lot of pain in the world and people need hope. When not writing, she is thinking about writing, and more than likely scribbling ideas on sticky notes in the car while playing “taxi driver” for her children. She likes snakes, can’t spell, and has a tendency to make people cry.
My social media:
Facebook Fan group, The Wade Brigade : https://www.facebook.com/groups/247976895406172/
March 14, 2016
Who doesn’t love Paris? And Paris in the spring may be my favorite season. Rather than try to put into words things that defy explanation, I thought you might enjoy seeing some pictures of just why I love it so much.
This isn’t any special street. It’s actually right up the street from our hotel, but turn your head and suddenly you’re staring at the Eiffel Tower.
Or at other pieces of interesting architecture. Notice the tile design on the roof line of the curved turret.
This one goes to show one of my favorite things about France. Old buildings aren’t torn down. They’re repurposed for a new and different use.
Okay, enough architecture. How about some spring pictures…?
Not every day is beautiful in Paris, but even the dreary ones are dramatic.
And if you know the right people, you might even get…
Lambs! (Okay, so that one doesn’t have anything to do with Paris, but it is in France in the spring and it was too cute not to share.)
Now that I’ve spammed you with pictures, you’re probably wondering what that has to do with At Your Service. Anthony has the chance to visit Paris in the spring as part of his job, and the last day he’s there is one much like I had when I took the first set of pictures (along with the hundred others I didn’t make you look at). He and Paul, a native Parisian, spend the day in the city doing their best to avoid tourist spots. They wander the residential streets and an out-of-the-way park and bask in the glory of Paris.
“What a perfect day!” Anthony said as they climbed the stairs to street level at their destination. “I’m not sure I’ve ever been in Paris on a day like this.”
“Have you ever been in Paris in the spring?” Paul asked. “Because this is not unusual for this time of year.”
“No, it’s either been in the summer when it was hot and not a breath of air to be found in the city or in the winter when it was cold and gray. Before I came in the summer the first time, I used to joke that the pictures on the postcards with blue skies behind the monuments were staged, with a huge blue cloth hung behind the buildings. I’d seen the buildings, but never the blue sky.”
“Then I’m glad we decided to spend the day outside,” Paul said. “You can visit the museums on cold, rainy winter days or the hot summer ones when you have to escape to somewhere with air-conditioning.”
“I’ve done plenty of escaping both kinds of weather, but not today. Come on. I want to see the park.”
“Let’s find food first. We can carry it with us until we’re ready to eat, but otherwise we’d have to come back out of the park when we get hungry,” Paul suggested, although the eagerness on Anthony’s face made him want to hurry so he could see Anthony’s reaction to the park. He didn’t come all the way across town often, but he had attended a cousin’s wedding several years ago and remembered well the manicured lawns and ornate stonework of the follies. They could easily spend hours wandering through the park, and this way they could do it undisturbed.
They found a charcuterie nearby and stocked up on ham and thinly sliced sausage, and the bakery next door netted them two baguettes to share. They walked back to the main entrance of the park through the wrought-iron gates tipped with gold leaf. “Even away from the center of town, everything is so ornate,” Anthony commented.
When Anthony Mercer walked into Au cœur du terroir, he was looking for good food and a pleasant evening spent with a friend. He never expected to meet—and sleep with—Paul Delescluse, a waiter at the restaurant. After spending a magical week together in Paris, Anthony must return to his life in North Carolina, while Paul remains in France.
Despite the distance and the lack of promises between them—Paul wants sex, not a relationship—Paul and Anthony forge a solid friendship. Then Anthony’s job takes him back to Paris, this time to stay. Paul is thrilled to have him back, but Anthony has a harder choice: be another of Paul’s conquests or fight for the relationship he knows they could have, if only Paul would believe it.
Still with me? Awesome! Share a picture of springtime in your favorite place to be entered to win a copy of At Your Service!
When Ariel Tachna was twelve years old, she discovered two things: the French language and romance novels. Those two loves have defined her ever since. By the time she finished high school, she’d written four novels, none of which anyone would want to read now, featuring a young woman who was—you guessed it—bilingual. That girl was everything Ariel wanted to be at age twelve and wasn’t.
She now lives on the outskirts of Houston with her husband (who also speaks French), her kids (who understand French even when they’re too lazy to speak it back), and their two dogs (who steadfastly refuse to answer any French commands).
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 14, 2016
Hi everyone! My name is M.D. Grimm and I am the proud author of “The Shifters” series, of which “Predator and Prey” is the latest book. I plan to run “The Shifters” into the 20s before coming to that epic battle that will conclude everything. Hopefully, at that point, all loose threads will be tied up neatly and we can all leave this strange world I created satisfied.
But until then….
“Predator and Prey” is book #9 in the series and the last of the “historicals” for a while. Yes, I know the 1970s are hardly “historical” in the usual sense, but they aren’t current times, so I just lumped this story in with “Hunted Guardian” (#7) and “The Serpent and the Angel” (#8). I have two more historical stories in the series to write, but those are for later.
First the blurb:
Vietnam War vet turned deep-sea treasure hunter Digger Sullivan scratches out a living, and this new commission is just another job—albeit an exciting one off the Florida coast in 1977. But while exploring the area, Digger and his crew encounter a lot more sharks than they expected.
Reef and his shark shifter clan are charged with protecting a vital, magical secret—two of four scrolls that, when brought together, could annihilate shifters across the world. But Reef can’t keep his head in the game around this intriguing diver, and it’s not long before Digger takes one of the scrolls topside. Reef now has two missions: seduce Digger and recapture the scroll. Despite his attraction to Digger, Reef’s priority must be reclaiming the scroll.
But when Reef’s true identity is exposed, Digger is scared and appalled, and rejects him. Yet Digger might change his mind when his crew is captured by the very person who commissioned them, and Reef and his shark clan are the only things standing between them and death.
Are you all intrigued yet??
Now, for what you’ve all come for: the dirty deats on “Predator and Prey.” First of all, it came about because I really wanted to write a story about a shark shape-shifter. I have a particular fondness for sharks and hope to swim with them one day. What can I say? I’m a little odd. The biggest challenge this presented, however, was trying to reconcile the inherent “alieness” of a shark’s emotion with the more familiar one of a human. It was a similar challenge that “The Serpent and the Angel” offered, since Tobias was a snake. But sharks are even more alien and practically emotionless. But I needed Reef to be relatable, so that was a delicate balance I had to keep. I decided that the best way to approach the situation was to pick a few key features of the shark I wanted to emphasis and stick with them, giving them as much play as possible. Reef is practical, territorially protective, and isn’t ashamed by what he wants. He just goes and gets it. He’s refreshingly free of human idiosyncrasies… at least at the beginning of the story. He was a fun character to play with, and I liked him more and more as the story progressed.
Digger, however, I knew right off: ex-soldier looking for freedom on the ocean, living by no one’s rules but his own, and befriending those society didn’t want. Yeah, I liked him a lot. I have a soft place in my heart for those who serve, and I wanted to try my hand at bringing one to life. It was intriguing to put Reef and Digger together, and even I couldn’t have guessed how well they would click! They “get” each other on a level that most could only dream about.
I consider this story my most ambitious yet. I had zero knowledge of scuba diving, treasure hunting, boats/ships, the Florida coast and waters. For that matter, I had to research the 1970s and be grateful my story was set mostly in isolation on a boat. College work had nothing on the massive research project I dumped on myself. Jeez. But it was all worth it. I am very proud of the end product and though some of my research didn’t end up in the story, that wasn’t the point. I needed to know all those tedious details if I was going to make everything seem real. If it wasn’t real for me, how could I make it real for anyone else?
Most of my story ideas come from the question “what if?” I’m a big fan of asking “what if?” and letting it lead me down winding paths filled with plot bunnies. This has served me well for “The Shifters” series since I wanted to distance myself from the classic wolf shape-shifter stories and experiment with other animals. Don’t get me wrong, I love wolves, but there are so many interesting, beautiful creatures out there, and I didn’t want to limit myself. This strange world I created is full of life, various and magical, and yet connected and fragile. That’s one of the themes I work with through most of the stories—the idea of connectedness. We are all connected to each other, and if one of us fails, it’s a loss to everyone. In my series, the world essentially has three sorts of players: shape-shifters, magical people/fae descendants (the Knights and the Agency), and mundane humans who are oblivious to the war waging. It’s a massive, dysfunctional family, and there aren’t many who know how the war all began.
“Predator and Prey” answers some of those questions. The main villain in the story has an intimate connection with Arcas, the main villain of my series. Also, for those who’ve read “Hunted Guardian” and “The Serpent and the Angel,” I’m sure you’ve guessed the connection between the villains in those stories and Arcas.
Arcas is more than he appears. But more on that at a later date.
“Predator and Prey” also continues the storyline of the four ancient scrolls that act as keys to unlock a weapon that can annihilate shape-shifters. The scrolls will feature heavily for the next three books, then a new facet of the war will emerge. To keep things organized for myself, I split the books up into parts (of which there are five) and kept to specific themes and connected events.
Part 1 has all been published and includes: Psychic Moon, Love is a Whirlwind, Blind Devotion, Hunter and Hunted, Healing Minds, and Master’s Blood.
Part 2 is what I’m working on now: Hunted Guardian, The Serpent and the Angel, and Predator and Prey. There will be three other stories in Part 2. Happily, Shifting Moon has been accepted by Dreamspinner and due out in April/May 2016. Shifting Moon will be based in current times and chronologically follows Master’s Blood. It also includes Derek and Brian from Psychic Moon. I was very happy to meet up with them again! I missed them.
Because I’m super excited with the progress of the series, I’m going to reveal the titles of the next two books… drum roll please… Feather and Scroll (#11) and Kindred Truths (#12). While Feather and Scroll introduces new characters, Kindred Truths will revisit some fan favorites… *cough* Poe and Nordik *cough*
As you can see, I’m moving right along and hope to have Feather and Scroll done perhaps by the end of 2016. But no promises! You know how life can happen.
Since I’m sure you’re done with my rambling, here’s an excerpt!
That’s when they all heard something smack hard against the starboard side, causing the boat to rock slightly. Everyone jumped up from the table, and for some reason Digger decided to race to his bedroom and thrust the tube inside before following the rest on deck. He’d learned long ago not to question his impulses, and it had saved his life more than once.
“The lights!” Digger said.
Kevin and Felipe flicked on the large spotlights and scanned the waters. It wasn’t long before the light flickered on something pale in the water.
“Put it back.” Digger pointed. “Put it back over there.”
Felipe followed orders and swung the light back around. What it illuminated made everyone freeze in shock. A pale, naked man was floating facedown in the water.
“How—” Hook started but then he let off with a cry when Digger dove into the water. The sudden motion jerked everyone into action. More lights were turned on and directed at the motionless man and their captain, who swam straight and sure through the dark night waters. Jewel dashed below to grab blankets while Angie threw a rescue donut attached to a rope into the water. Kevin and Felipe kept the lights trained on their captain.
Digger quickly reached the man and flipped him over, slipping an arm under his chin. He turned back to the boat, thankful it was summer and he was at the surface. The temperature was mild but carting the dead weight of the man through the water taxed him. How long had the man been in the water? And why the hell was he naked? Digger gripped the donut and watched Angie and Felipe pull on the rope, reeling them both in. He hadn’t thought before he dove into the water. One minute he’d been on the deck and the next the sensation of swimming in inky black water with the unknown lurking beneath made him grimace in agitation. He gritted his teeth, trying not to dwell on the fact that the man in his arms wasn’t breathing.
Digger’s entire crew helped drag him and the naked man onto the boat. He shivered as a wind rose up and accepted the blanket Jewel draped over his shoulders. Angie wrapped the rest around the man before she bent to give him CPR. She managed to give him only one breath before his eyes popped open and he began coughing and gagging. Angie rolled him onto his side as he sucked in air, and Digger closed his eyes, taking a deep breath. Thank God.
Soaking wet and shivering slightly, Digger pulled the blanket tighter around his shoulders and could only ride the wave of relief that flooded inside him. It had been a while since he’d saved anyone’s life, and this hadn’t even been in a war. Just an odd, random occurrence.
“Sarge?” Hook gripped his shoulder.
Digger grunted before opening his eyes. He considered the man who was now sitting up, wrapped tightly in several blankets. Jewel and Angie each had a shoulder and were rubbing his back and arms. The man wasn’t very old, if Digger was any judge. He couldn’t have been past his midtwenties, and Digger remembered his body had been slender, his skin cold. And where the hell had he come from?
The spotlights glared off pale skin that had a strange, almost translucent quality, and Digger gave a start when he realized the man’s hair was silver. Not blond, not gray, but freaking silver. How was that even possible?
Then the man opened his eyes and a sharp black gaze met Digger’s. A zing of familiarity pinged inside Digger before quickly fading. There was no reason for it; he’d never seen this man in his life. He wasn’t a forgettable one. The man continued to stare at Digger though, breathing heavily, shivering now and then. Digger couldn’t read what was in those black eyes but he was intrigued despite himself.
“Can you tell us your name?” Jewel asked.
The man jerked slightly at her voice and glanced at her. Digger looked away, realizing his gaze had been held captive. Mentally cursing himself an old fool, Digger struggled to his feet. Hook grabbed his arm to steady him.
The man turned back to watch him, a puzzled expression on his face.
“My name is Reef.” His smooth voice was pleasant to hear.
Digger raised an eyebrow.
“Reef?” Angie scoffed. “What sort of pansy name is that?”
“Angie!” Jewel scolded.
“Calls them like I sees them.” She stood and walked below decks.
Reef watched her go and Digger thought he looked amused rather than insulted.
“I’m sorry, Reef,” Jewel said, continuing to rub his back. “She’s a foul person on her best days.”
Reef shrugged. “It’s my name and I like it. No one else has to.”
Digger smiled. “Good sentiment for most things in life.”
Reef returned his attention to Digger, and Digger realized he wanted it to stay there. Old fool. What would a young buck want with you? You’re twice his age!
“Where’s your boat, kid?” Hook demanded. “Your clothes? One would think you’d just bubbled up from the depths.”
For a moment a look of panic seemed to cross Reef’s face but then it was gone, and his expression was smooth and unaffected. Digger wondered if he’d imagined it.
“Give it a rest, Hook,” Jewel said as she started to help Reef to his feet. “Hasn’t he been through enough? Are you hungry, Reef? Thirsty?”
“I’m fine. I just—” He suddenly gripped his head and wobbled. Digger found himself by Reef’s side, supporting him as Jewel was doing. His own blanket fluttered to the deck as his focus centered entirely on Reef.
“Sarge, don’t you think we deserve some answers?”
“In the morning is early enough, Hook.”
Hook scowled and part of Digger was surprised by his sudden defense of a stranger. But when Reef began to lean against him and his unique scent filled Digger’s nose, an urge to protect overcame him. The feeling intensified when he realized Reef couldn’t be taller than five feet and that, added to his slender form, made him appear fragile. Then another feeling rose up, one he hadn’t felt in years. He almost welcomed it, relieved the war hadn’t taken away his sexual drive, as it had some men’s. But most of him was wary of it as it caused him to forget his control and lower his guard.
But then Reef looked up at him, gaze steady and direct, and smiled. It wasn’t a smile of puppy dogs and kittens, but one that a shark might give potential prey. A challenging, hungry smile, and it shot a bolt of lust straight to Digger’s gut. He reassessed his initial thought that Reef was fragile. There was steel in that gaze. Unconsciously, his grip on Reef’s arm tightened, and Reef’s smile became knowing even as he looked away. With help from Jewel, they managed to get Reef below decks.
And that’s it for now!
Who is your favorite couple in my series? Or, if you haven’t read any books yet, what’s your favorite shifting animal? Or shifter series? I’m always on the lookout for new books and series to dive into!
May dragons guard your dreams,
You can find me at:
Dreamspinner Press: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/AuthorArcade/md-grimm
December 24, 2015
For the last post, how about some heat? Cody, being bisexual, is completely attracted to both the masculine and feminine qualities of Phineas. As we saw in the last excerpt, he finds Phineas as Phanny a huge turn on.
This excerpt comes several months into their relationship after another Phanny Hill performance at Janelle’s. Cody is beginning to struggle with jealousy and goes a bit caveman on the guys who are swarming around Phanny in the lobby. He retreats to the dressing room to wait for her.
Ten minutes later, Phinney, aka Phanny, came into the dressing room where Cody had holed up. No one was around at the moment, although there’d been a near-constant stream of queens coming in and out.
Cody jumped up, prepared to apologize for his caveman act in the lobby, his stomach doing a flip at the way Phineas was advancing on him in all his Phanny Hill glory, something dangerous flashing in her eyes. “Phinney, I—”
“Wait.” She—for he could only see Phanny in this moment—pushed the dressing room door so that it was almost closed, then shoved Cody up against the wall, her ruby-red talons digging into his shoulder. Cody grunted in surprise when she used her other hand to grip his cock through his jeans. A wave of her perfume tickled his nose and he hardened to the point of pain. God, she was glorious, her glittered breasts peeking out of her low-cut bodice, her big brown eyes framed by the false eyelashes. She unsnapped his pants and he found it difficult to breathe, even more so when she pulled down his zipper ever so slowly.
The hotness of the moment was enhanced by the door not being fully shut. Cody could hear people walking by and talking as she finally slid her hand under his briefs and took hold of his cock.
She looked up then, pinning him with a seductive glance, her ruby lips curved in a knowing smile. “You like?” she asked huskily, then licked those sultry lips.
“Um-hmm,” he rasped, unable to tear his eyes away from her mouth and that pink tongue. His cock twitched under her hand.
“You’re such a bad boy, scaring away all my men. I think I should punish you, hmm?” she purred, giving him a stroke for emphasis. “But I’d rather reward you, because that was smoking hot.”
“What do you want? And ask nicely. Phanny’s a lady, you know.”
Cody felt the room spinning as he tried to get out the words, the world having narrowed to the smell of her perfume, the feeling of her warm fingers on him. “Will you… please… suck me?”
I think I’ll be a tease and stop here! Thank you for helping me celebrate the release of my new book. I’ll be back in a bit with a wrap-up post.
Question: Easygoing Cody finds himself jealous for the first time in his life and he doesn’t like the feeling. Have you ever been jealous in a relationship? I have!
GIVEAWAY: Make sure you comment because three people who comment during the There You Are Release Party today will win a CJane Elliott ebook of their choice. You can leave a comment any time. I’ll be checking throughout the day!
December 24, 2015
Cody finds out early on that Phineas was a drag queen by the name of Phanny Hill and performed regularly at a local drag club, and that Phineas gave up doing drag after Allen died. One of the ways Cody helps Phineas come back to life is by encouraging him to return to performing as Phanny Hill.
I modeled the club Janelle’s in the book after Portland’s drag club Darcelle’s, which I went to a few years back with some other DSP authors. This is Darcelle herself who is Janelle in my book:
Here’s the drag queen version of Phineas from Shutterstock. This is the same model as the cover. Isn’t she beautiful?
I love drag shows! It was fun to include drag in my story. And when Phineas allows Phanny out again, he finds a whole new spark to his life. Cody likes it too.
Here’s an excerpt from when Phineas returns to Janelle’s after four years to perform as Phanny Hill.
Janelle herself, a regal old drag queen, took the stage. She bantered and told ribald jokes, pointed out some bachelorette parties and other would-be notables in the crowd, and then paused to take a sip of water. “And now, I’ve been savin’ the best for last, chickadees. Because tonight marks the return of one of the fiercest queens ever to grace our stage. It’s been too long, way too long, and I’m overjoyed that she’s here with us tonight. Please welcome back to Janelle’s stage our very own Phanny Hill!”
Cody and friends applauded wildly as Janelle exited and the stage went black. The first chords of Diana Ross’s “I’m Coming Out” accompanied the spotlight illuminating Phanny Hill, a vision in a formfitting scarlet sequined gown and short black hair. She was coming out, all right, strutting the stage in her spike heels, her lips ruby red, her long eyelashes fluttering, glitter in her cleavage. Cody had no idea where the breasts had come from, but it didn’t matter. Phineas had disappeared, leaving sexy, alluring Phanny. And fuck, was she a turn-on.
She sashayed in their direction, her painted mouth lip-synching the song, and stopped right in front of them. Blaine and Gemma had their dollar bills at the ready to stuff into the top of her dress. She leaned down to accommodate them, then slid her hand, with the long red nails, along the back of Cody’s neck, emanating a trace of tantalizing perfume. He lifted his face, and the crowd cheered at their kiss. Then she was off, playing to the audience, while Cody touched his lips and Blaine and Gemma laughed.
Question: I don’t have a good question for this topic, so how about asking me anything you want to know – about me, my writing, this story or my others. Fire away!
GIVEAWAY: Make sure you comment because three people who comment during the There You Are Release Party today will win a CJane Elliott ebook of their choice. You can leave a comment any time. I’ll be checking throughout the day!
November 23, 2015
For years, Clayton Potter’s been friends and workout partners with Ronnie. Though Clay is attracted, he’s never come on to Ronnie because, let’s face it, Ronnie only dates women.
When Clay’s father suffers a heart attack, Ronnie, having recently lost his dad, springs into action, driving Clay to the hospital over a hundred miles away. To stay close to Clay’s father, the men share a hotel room near the hospital, but after an emotional day, one thing leads to another, and straight-as-an-arrow Ronnie make a proposal that knocks Clay’s socks off! Just a little something to take the edge off.
Clay responds in a way he’s never considered. After an amazing night together, Clay expects Ronnie to ignore what happened between them and go back to his old life. Ronnie surprises him and seems interested in additional exploration. Though they’re friends, Clay suddenly finds it hard to accept the new Ronnie and suspects that Ronnie will return to his old ways. Maybe they both have a thing or two to learn.
Purchase a copy:
I changed in the locker room while Ronnie talked to everyone. His big personality was back, and it was good to see. After filling my water bottle, I went up to the mezzanine to the treadmills. I got on one, dropped my phone into one of the cup holders, then started the machine and began my workout. I had a good view of the workout floor, so I watched as the others went through their routines, talking constantly as they did. A few times I saw Ronnie glance up, making the occasional rude gesture and then grinning like a naughty child. I was about to give him one back when my phone rang. I picked it up and answered it.
“Is this Clayton Potter?” I heard a strange voice ask.
“Yes, it is,” I answered, figuring this was some sort of telemarketing call. I made a mental note to check the do-not-call lists.
“I’m Dr. Greenway down at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. Your father listed you as next of kin. He was brought in earlier today. I’m afraid he’s had as many as three strokes in the past few hours.”
Hearing the word stroke, I forgot what I was doing or where I was. The machine kept working even as I stopped, and it pushed me off the back. I stumbled and managed to keep from crashing to the floor but ended up in a heap nonetheless as my legs gave out.
“Mr. Potter, are you all right?”
“I don’t know” was the only answer I could form. My head buzzed and my ears rang, hands and legs tingling. “How is he now?”
“Howard is stable at the moment, but he’s slipped into a coma. Part of it is the body’s way of protecting itself. We need to run some more tests to determine the cause of the strokes, and then we may need to perform surgery to try to correct the blockage in his neck. Is it possible for you to get here? We will need permission to perform the surgery. I can do emergency surgery without it, but I would prefer we time this as best we can.”
“Yes. I’ll see about leaving as soon as I can.” I stared at the phone, sitting on the floor while other people began gathering around me. I scanned the faces, people I didn’t know all asking questions that didn’t seem to register. Then Ronnie pushed his way in, and I took a deep breath as the fog over my mind lifted somewhat.
“It’s my dad,” I told him. Those words galvanized Ronnie into action. He helped me to my feet and grabbed my things from the machine before turning it off.
“What happened to him?” Ronnie asked.
“Stroke,” I answered. “Got to get to Johns Hopkins.”
Ronnie stared into my eyes. “You can’t drive. Not like this.” Even as he said the words, he was already leading me down the steps and toward the locker room. “Change your clothes.” He left me in front of my locker, and I stared at it, forcing my hands to work. I pulled off my gym clothes and got back into the regular ones. By the time I was done, Ronnie was dressed.
“Where are you going?” I asked.
“My dad was at Hopkins,” Ronnie told me, and then he snatched up my bag and took me by the arm. My head was clearing, and the feeling was returning in my arms and legs, but I still felt shaky on my feet. He half propelled me toward the door, stopped at the desk briefly, and then we continued outside.
“My car is over there,” I said, but Ronnie guided me to his and somehow managed to get both gym bags in the tiny trunk of the Lamborghini.
“I’m taking you down.” He unlocked the car and lifted the door upward. It felt like I was still almost on the ground once I got in. Ronnie pushed the door down to close it and came around to the driver’s side. As soon as he got in, he started the engine, which roared to life, and within minutes we were out of the lot and entering the freeway.
“You don’t have to do this,” I said, a little belatedly, though I was pleased he thought enough of me to take this much care. Ronnie and I were friends, but he was a very busy man whose time was extremely valuable.
“Of course I do.” Ronnie reached over and patted my leg a few times, then returned his hand to the wheel. “When my dad was in the hospital, you came in all the time, talked to him and Mom.” Ronnie’s voice faltered for a few seconds. “She told me how you used to sit with her and just listen while she spouted all kinds of crap. Her words. She said she needed someone to talk with, and you were there.” Ronnie continued driving as I stared out the window. I’d made the drive from Harrisburg to Baltimore more times than I could count. It had been just my dad and me for a long time.