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

January 18, 2016

Of Intergalactic Space Ships and a Paradise on Earth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get your copy of “Song of Song” today!

Timeless love against an ancient enemy–who will rise victorious? with M.D. Grimm – Post + Excerpt

January 14, 2016

Timeless love against an ancient enemy--who will rise victorious-

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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….

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“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.

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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,
M.D. Grimm

You can find me at:
Website: www.mdgrimmwrites.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001710645622
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&query=md+grimm
Dreamspinner Press: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/AuthorArcade/md-grimm

The Forgotten Ones with E E Montgomery – Post + Giveaway

December 4, 2015

The Forgotten Ones

Hello and welcome. I’m E E Montgomery and I’m here to share the release of The Planet Whisperer with you.

It’s an exciting time for me right now because my first Science Fiction novel is about to be released through Dreamspinner Press. The Planet Whisperer touches on a lot of things: ethics of scientific experimentation, changing the evolutionary path of planets, criminal justice, care of children, trust and honor, to name just a few. But at its heart, The Planet Whisperer is a love story. It’s a story of hope and joy and future.

Where did it all come from? The human brain is a wondrous thing that I’ll never understand, but I’ll be forever grateful I can pull random facts from mine and link them together, no matter how obscurely.

This is where it all began…

No one could ever confuse me with one of the popular kids, not even as an adult. I’m not a geek either. Sure, I love Dr Who and Star Trek and random facts (like the Earth’s magnetic field is strong enough to land a spacecraft, or buttons were once made of bone, sometimes human bone) but I don’t have the memory I need to be a ‘real’ geek. I fall somewhere in the middle—the forgettable middle.

That’s where I fall in my family as well. While my mother did go through a stage of forgetting my birthday (I received my parents wedding presents hurriedly wrapped in newspaper for a few years), I didn’t actually feel like I was a forgotten child. There were numerous times my family noticed what I was doing and decided I needed to be spoken to. :/

I’ve often wondered what it would be like—to be forgotten.

Tolifax is home to thousands of forgotten people. Some of them began life as a remembered person, only to do something against the laws of the day and end up abandoned on the planet commonly known as the garbage dump of the universe. They were dropped there and, as individuals, were forgotten.

Under the rule of a conservative and narrow-minded government, the people of Tolifax eked out an existence. Some of them thrived, some got by, but most of them floundered, forced into harsher and harsher lives by those climbing over them so they could survive.

Jonah is one of those forgotten people. He was a child, helpless and vulnerable, at the bottom of Tolifax’s food chain. No one knew, no one cared. At seven, he was caring for his mother after a john broke her jaw. He procured customers for her, kept her clean and kept her fed. He discovered he had an affinity with plants and grew vegetables for them to eat and to sell. Apart from his mother’s injury, life was the best it had ever been. Then the john came back. Jonah, in protecting his mother, committed a crime that would have horrified even the most hardened criminals on Tolifax. His mother, who’d seen more of the underbelly of humanity than any person should, was more terrified of her eight year old son than she was of anything else.

So she sold him.

And forgot him.

For years, Jonah remained forgotten. He might have been used and abused, but his existence wasn’t important to anyone. No one would have noticed if he had disappeared completely.

Then Wes saw him, and bought him. Jonah thought that, finally, someone noticed him, and he pinned all his hopes and dreams on being important to Wes.

Wes wasn’t the prince charming Jonah had hoped he’d be, but at least Jonah was no longer forgotten.

Sometimes though—sometimes he wished he was.

Jonah’s life from eight to sixteen wasn’t the stuff of romances. Nor were the following sixteen years with Wes. They happened, nothing can change that. Through all of it, Jonah never lost hope that somehow he’d have a better life; that now he’d ceased to be one of the forgotten, he’d be remembered for the right reasons.

And there you have it: the single thought that caused Jonah to become real, for his whole life to exist, if only in my imagination—and now yours.

Has there been a time in your life you’ve felt like you were forgotten, or wanted to be? I’d love you to tell me about it. I’ll get an independent person (ie family member) to choose a response at random. That lucky person will receive an ecopy of one of my backlist books (your choice).

PlanetWhisperer[The]_postcard_front_DSP

 

Blurb:

Jonah Starovski, a Planet Whisperer, harnesses the energy surrounding dead planets and redirects it into new growth. Abandoned by the man who bought him from a brothel sixteen years ago, Jonah flounders in a world he’s ill-equipped to deal with. He must accept the help of a stranger in order to rebuild his life.

First Lieutenant Marcus Davis volunteers as Jonah’s assistant without realizing the terraforming process requires Jonah’s sexual release. Balanced on the knife-edge of fear and ambition, Marcus is faced with his mother’s machinations and threats to his career. Marcus’s parents bring their illegal scientific experiments to the planets Jonah is terraforming just as Marcus learns to accept himself and his feelings for Jonah. At the same time, Jonah’s past catches up to him, putting them both in danger.

Jonah and Marcus must trust in each other to put a stop to the illegal activities, rescue an endangered animal, and create the future they both want—a future they can share.

 

Author Links:

Web, blog and free short stories: www.eemontgomery.com

Email: eemontgomery11@gmail.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ewynelaine.montgomery

Twitter: @eemontgomery1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5347023.E_E_Montgomery

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/E-E-Montgomery/e/B008LO3SBA/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1427806072&sr=1-2-ent

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/eemontgomery11/

Dreamspinner Press: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/AuthorArcade/e-e-montgomery

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

November 6, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Noble

Add A Solitary Man to Your Goodreads and Booklikes Shelves

Like A Solitary Man on Facebook

Thursday, October 29th Aisling is at The

Novel Approach Reviews

with A Brief and Frank Discussion of A Solitary Man

Friday, October 30th Aisling is at Jo

& Isa Love Books

with the Notes Behind the Music Playlist for A Solitary Man

Tuesday, November 4th Aisling is at Bike Book Reviews

Wednesday, November 5th

Aisling is at Joyfully Jay

Reviews

Shira is at Prism Book

Alliance

Friday, November 6th RELEASE DAY CELEBRATION!

Yarning to Write Kermit Flail with lovely Amy Lane!

Aisling is at Divine

Magazine

Aisling is on Dreampsinner’s Blog

Saturday, November 7th Aisling is at Love Bytes Reviews

Sunday, November 8th

Shira is at My Fiction

Nook

LIVE

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

BAG,

SIGNED BOOKS FROM SHIRA &

AISLING,

AND SWAG!

Bugs and Hisses Free Fiction: Big Bad Wolf by Piper Vaughn

October 21, 2015

To celebrate Halloween this month, some of our paranormal authors will be sharing with us some free fiction.

Big Bad Wolf (A Portland Pack Chronicles Flash Fic)

It wasn’t often Avery and Jaden’s schedules allowed them time to shift and play together, but on Halloween, they got a rare opportunity to run and pounce in Forest Park.

As Avery stripped, shivering at the blustery wind, he took a moment to admire Jaden’s animal form. Simply put, Jaden was beautiful. Where Dylan, Avery’s mate, was a powerhouse of a wolf, large and heavily muscled, Jaden was compact, built more for speed than brute strength. Shades of cream and russet accented his shiny auburn coat. He lifted his rear, tail wagging, and yipped encouragingly, his amber eyes gleaming with mischief.

Avery smiled and stepped out of his briefs, letting the change overtake him. The trees swirled as he shrank into his hedgehog form, his spines bursting forth with the familiar flash of pain. When it was over, he sneezed at the overwhelming scents of loamy soil, moss, and decaying leaves.

A wet tongue dragged over his snout and then Jaden nuzzled at him gently. Hedgehogs weren’t tactile creatures like wolves, but Avery nuzzled back, drawing in Jaden’s sweet, musky smell.

For a while they romped through the trees, Avery scurrying on his tiny paws, and Jaden loping ahead before circling back to keep pace with him. With a wolf as his companion, any predators that might have eyed Avery for a snack kept their distance.

Eventually they returned to where they’d left their clothing. Avery shifted to his human form and sat to reorient himself until the cold compelled him to start yanking on his clothes.

“That was fun,” Jaden said once they were dressed. “I need a shower before we go out, though.”

Avery nodded. “Me too. I have a surprise for Dylan tonight.”

Jaden arched his eyebrows. “You didn’t mention any surprises.”

“Wait and see.”

“Is he meeting you at Wolfhound?”

“Yeah. He had to go look at Miss Betty’s car. She’s helping me by making him stay for dinner.”

Jaden smiled and shook himself, sending a dried leaf flying from his ginger hair. “Well, I’ll see you there. Eight o’clock?”

“Yep. But I might be fashionably late.”

Jaden snorted. “When aren’t you?”

Avery grinned cheekily. “Just have your camera ready.”

 

****

 

Two hours later, he hesitated in front of Wolfhound. Two men stood smoking to the left of the entrance and they eyed him with open fascination as Avery adjusted his skimpy costume.

Here goes nothing.

Chin raised, he swept into Wolfhound. As usual, hair metal greeted him. Avery ignored the screeching guitars, eager to see Dylan after spending the day apart.

Sensing his mate’s presence on the other side of the bar near the pool tables, Avery hurried his steps. He ignored the side glances and comments from the other patrons. He wasn’t the only one in costume, but he stood out for several reasons.

Jaden and Sawyer saw him first. Quiet, implacable Sawyer choked on his mouthful of beer while Jaden let out a bark of a laugh that drew everyone’s attention.

When Dylan spotted Avery, his eyes bugged. Avery approached him and slowly spun around so Dylan had a view of the back of his costume. He shook his ass, swinging the fake bushy tail suspended from the broad belt above his hips.

“What. The hell. Are you wearing?” Dylan sounded constipated.

Avery shot him a coy look over his shoulder—which Dylan missed, as he was staring at Avery’s tail in horror.

“I’m the big bad wolf.” Avery turned to face his mate. “Sort of.”

The costume was a loose interpretation. It consisted of a skintight gray romper with a low-cut halter top that left most of Avery’s chest bare. Furry leg warmers made up his hind paws and a hood with big ears and tassels completed the outfit. Avery hadn’t bothered tucking, and the material hid nothing. Both his bulge and lower asscheeks were on full display. Any other time, he wouldn’t have been caught dead in something so tacky, but it was Halloween. If there was ever time for a trashy costume, it was now.

“I brought you something too.” Avery dug into his messenger bag and pulled out the sweater, nose, and ears he’d purchased for Dylan. The sweater had fake spines and padding on the back, meant to mimic the look of a rounded hedgehog.

Dylan snapped his jaw shut. “Fuck no.”

Around him, their friends watched with open amusement. Too bad Lucas wasn’t there. He would’ve at least leered at Avery a little.

Avery pouted. “Come on. Don’t be a spoilsport.”

“Nope.” Dylan turned away.

Avery narrowed his eyes at his back. Dylan could play hard to get if he wanted, but Avery would wear him down.

He started his attack with a lot of bending—over the pool table to line up a shot, down to the floor when he “accidentally” dropped his cue stick. He felt eyes on his ass every time, and once or twice, he might have wiggled his hips a little just to set the tail swinging.

Finally, Dylan growled and snatched the bag off the table where Avery had set it.

“Fine,” he snapped. “I’ll wear the damn costume if you stop flashing your ass! I don’t want anyone else seeing what’s mine.”

Avery widened his eyes and amped up his Southern twang. “Me? Flashing? I haven’t the slightest idea what you mean.”

Dylan glared. “Shut it.”

Avery watched as Dylan pulled on the sweater and then set the ears on top of his head. The nose came last, and it made Dylan look absolutely ridiculous. Avery smiled gleefully and pounced on his mate. He kissed Dylan, not caring that Wolfhound wasn’t a gay bar. No one in their group would mind, and Avery didn’t care about anyone else.

Dylan growled again and dragged him close. “Such a brat,” Dylan whispered against his mouth. “I oughta put you over my knee.”

Light flashed and a shutter clicked as someone nearby took a picture.

Avery laughed and nipped at Dylan’s lower lip. “Maybe later. And if you’re a good boy, I’ll keep the tail on.”

 

****

 

Meet Dylan and Avery in Prickly Business, now available from Dreamspinner Press.

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Buy link: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6530

And look for the sequel, Prickly By Nature, on November 19th!

 

****

 

Piper Vaughn Bio

Piper Vaughn wrote her first love story at eleven and never looked back. Since then, she’s known that writing in some form was exactly what she wanted to do. A reader at the core, Piper loves nothing more than getting lost in a great book—fantasy, young adult, romance, she loves them all (and has a two-thousand-book library to prove it!). She grew up in Chicago, in an ethnically diverse neighborhood, and loves to put faces and characters of every ethnicity in her stories, so her fictional worlds are as colorful as the real one. Above all, she believes that everyone needs a little true love in their life… even if it’s only in a book.

 

Visit Piper at:

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Loss, Recovery, Hope… and Cannibalism with Evelyn Esrig

October 21, 2015

Loss Recovery Hope and Cannibalism

Hi! I’m Evelyln Esrig and today I’m releasing my novella Sweetbreads and Sweet Nothings. It’s a strange little book about loss, recovery, hope, … and cannibalism. If you watch NBC’s Hannibal I’m pretty sure my story will seem tame by comparison.

The idea for Sweetbreads and Sweet Nothings came about ages ago, when I rediscovered the Consensual Cannibalism case. The story of a cannibal and his willing prey first cropped up in the news cycle in the early 2000s back when I was in high school. Apparently a two German men named Armin Meiwes and Bernd-Jurgen Brandes met in a cannibal forum and arranged to meet so that Meiwes could butcher and eat Brandes, with Brandes’ full and enthusiastic consent.  Needless to say, my friends and I, geek scifi/horror nerds the lot of us, were obsessed for weeks. But like many teenagers, our attention spans were fleeting and we eventually moved on.

Years later, I had a shiny new creative writing degree and a lot of free time on my hands when the story crossed my path again. It popped up on something like Facebook or Twitter in February 2012. Once again I was enthralled. Consensual cannibalism. How was that possible? The ethical ramifications alone made for some pretty meaty material.

I almost began writing about a cannibal but then I thought “What about the man he ate? What must his family think of this person they thought they knew willingly consenting to be consumed? What must it be like to be that person’s next of kin?” and suddenly I had a whole different story on my hands.  I had a story about someone who lost someone they loved for reasons beyond their understanding and that was a story I wanted to explore more than I wanted to get inside the mind of a killer.

I wanted to be as non-judgmental as possible. I wanted to try and understand. I wanted to understand what would motivate someone to commit the crime of cannibalism, assisted suicide by cannibalism, and what it was like to have someone disappear from your life without a trace. I tried to make it about empathy and rebuilding and recovery. I parked myself at my local Cheesecake Factory listening to My Chemical Romance and The Arctic Monkeys and ate a lot of complimentary bread as I worked.

But what started as a simple story about being left behind evolved from an experiment in fiction for me in the spring of 2012 when someone close to me committed suicide. Needless to say, suddenly I was much deeper in touch with my main character than I had been before. The story became an exercise in acceptance and understanding something that is beyond comprehension – How do we come with the reality that sometimes people choose to leave us in violent and tragic ways? How do we move on? How do we heal? These are the questions that I tried to explore in this story. I don’t know if I accomplished it but I know that when I finished writing it, I certainly felt healed.

Have you ever had an experience like that – where you fell into something that helped you just the way you needed in the least likely way? It’s a beautiful thing and I’d love to hear about it.

<3

@evelynesrig

evelynesrig.tumblr.com

evelynesrig@gmail.com

 

Beneath the Streets with Amber Kell + Post and Giveaway

October 1, 2015

Beneath the Streets

Hello, I’m Amber Kell. Dreamspinner Press was kind enough to let me post about my new release Keys. I’m super excited about this book. Keys is my first story that is over sixty thousand words long. I know some authors can type that out half asleep while balancing a baby on their right knee and petting the dog with their left foot, but for me it took a lot of effort.

 

Dreamspinner said I should write about what inspired me. I don’t usually have an answer for that. I get ideas walking down by the water, driving my kids to school or doing laundry, however this time I actually have an answer to that question. My ideas about the City of Keys started when I took the Underground Tour in Seattle. I live in Seattle for those of you who’ve never heard of me and I get a lot of inspiration from the city. Anyway, the Underground Tour is where they take you below the city streets and show you what it was like when it was built over when fire swept through downtown in the 19th century. They show you old shop fronts and explain about the history of the city. It’s really quite a good tour if you happen to be in town.

 

My tour beneath the ground had me thinking about what else could be buried. When I went to London I walked the narrow cobblestone streets and took in the history and began to think steampunkish thoughts. I have to admit I don’t read a lot of steampunk so let’s go that mine is steampunk inspired and leave it at that. It was my trip to Paris that solidified my ideas. After visiting the Paris Catacombs I went to a church crypt. Walking down the halls of the crypt and seeing all the locked iron doors had my idea for Keys springing to life.

 

I asked myself what if a city locked all its magic underneath the city streets?

 

That is the thought that triggered my City of Keys trilogy. A city where magic is considered too dangerous to be out in the world so they chained it below and away from its citizens. How would if affect their way of life and what would happen if it suddenly became free? Most books start with a what if and that was mine. Check out Keys to find out what I did with that concept. Buy link: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6897

 

I’ll be giving away a $25.00 Amazon GC to one lucky person. To enter the contest, tell me what magical ability you’d find the most useful.

 

Website: www.amberkellbooks.com

Blog: www.amberkell.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/amber.kell.7

Twitter: @amberkell

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/amberkellwrites/

Pictures of the elk rut

September 30, 2015

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

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

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

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

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Just a bit of bugling.

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

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A young guy still wet from digging in the creek.

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

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

Thanks,

A.J. Marcus

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

September 30, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dangerous, but wise? with A.J. Marcus

September 30, 2015

Dangerous, but wise?

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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