Honorary Blogger Post

Honorary Blogger Cheryl Headford: My Writing Process + Excerpt & Giveaway!

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My Writing Process

by Cheryl Headford

To me writing is like breathing. I can’t live without it. I get restless and unhappy if I am unable to write for any lengthy period of time and I am never happier than when lost in my own words. Writing has got me through tough times.

I do most of my writing sitting on the sofa in my tiny living room, surrounded by cats and balancing my laptop on a rickety old Ikea lap table) not the one that sits on your lap but the one that has one leg with a splayed foot at the bottom that you slide under the chair) It’s so old and rickety that I can’t even put my coffee cup on in next to the laptop anymore because it slides right off.

Strangely, when I’m writing on my laptop, I have to have quiet. I can’t listen to music or watch television. I don’t have a television anymore, since my son took to his room (or should I say cockpit as it looks more like the bridge of The Enterprise than a bedroom) I usually have a couple of PC games open, like Fantasy Mosaics or logic puzzles, that I do in between writing if I get stuck or need a moment out of the scene. Otherwise I don’t really have much awareness of the room around me because I’m living the story with my characters. In fact, that continues even after I stop writing. I often channel one or other of the characters for most of the time I’m writing the book, and sometimes for a period afterwards. That’s why I love to write characters like Draven because he is so much fun to be. I had an absolute blast making jam sandwiches the Draven way, but my son was not impressed.

I’m not happy to only write at home, though. When I had to catch a train to work, I would write (in my head) on the way to the station, (in a book) on the station and on the train, and (in my head) from the station to work. These days, my son is at college and I spend a lot of time waiting for him in a coffee shop, and of course I write. I like to write with ink pens. Sometimes, if I’m doing research, I like to keep notes of the research in a book, with plastic pockets, summarized by a visual essay. I can tell at a glance at the visual essay what the notes in that pocket are about. Quite often, I write the essay if not the notes with dip pens and coloured inks.

I am a total pantser and I don’t plan anything before I start writing. I usually have one or two scenes in mind, and maybe a loose storyline, and of course the characters. I then open a word document and just start writing. I see where things take me. If the story is strong enough, it will simply carry me along. Because I am living it, seeing what the characters see, hearing what they hear, feeling what they feel, it’s easy to let the story flow and so what if I don’t know where it ends until I get there because that just makes it more fun writing it.

Sometimes I come to a situation where I know where I want the story to go, but I don’t know how to get there. Then, I have to figure out scenarios and test out hypotheses to find a way that fits the story and the characters. Occasionally I have to re write earlier bits for continuity and to make better sense, but I’d say situations like this only crop up once or twice a book. It’s easier when writing fantasy because you don’t have to logic test everything. Magic is a great means of getting fantastical, even impossible things done. Continue reading

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Categories: Book Promo, Excerpts, Giveaways, Honorary Blogger Post, LGBT | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Honorary Blogger CB Conwy: The Desire to Write + Excerpt & Giveaway!

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The Desire to Write

by CB Conwy

CB Conwy answers the question, “Where did the desire to write LGBT romance come from?”

If there’s one question every MM writer both love and hate, it’s the “Why do you write this genre? You’re not even a guy! None of your readers are guys!”

(Actually, there are quite a few male readers. But let’s not, you know, confuse the case with logic).

To me, there are two answers. The first one is very simple: I like men. A lot.

The second one is more complicated, and it’s not one I’ve often seen mentioned – but as a matter of fact, I think it’s shared by the majority of readers: MM breaks the gender stereotypes of straight romance. And dear God, do those stereotypes need to be broken.

Romancelandia is a great place to escape for a few hours from the real world. It’s a place that’s emotionally generous and very entertaining. It’s a happy place for many, many readers, me included. But why on Earth should we have to put up with a genre that often pictures the female protagonists as weak, dependent, and powerless compared to their male counterparts? And yes, I get that it’s a fantasy, I get that nobody would act that way in the real world. I also get that I’m probably being unfair to a lot of well written straight romance. But even so: I’m not entertained by seeing women being side characters in their own life while the men decide where the plot goes. I’m a modern, driven woman with a career and a life of my own; I simply can’t see myself in those women. Not even for a couple of hours of entertainment.

That’s where MM romance gives a breath of fresh air. I simply don’t think I could have written the A Russian Bear books with a female protagonist and got any romance publisher to accept it.

That’s also the reason why the character type nicknamed “chick with a brick” (well, actually, it’s another word – you know which one) is the single most despised character type in MM romance. It takes us right back to those clichéd gender stereotypes, and they are, as a matter of fact, equally offensive to women and men. Nobody deserves to be a side character in their own life.

Maybe I’m wrong, maybe I’m deeply judgmental towards straight romance – but I do think that’s why a lot of women like MM.

That, and because they like men. Continue reading

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Honorary Bloggers Jocelynn Drake & Rinda Elliott: He Was Never Supposed to Stick… & Excerpt + Giveaway!

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He Was Never Supposed to Stick…

by Jocelynn Drake & Rinda Elliott

There are your plans…

And then there are your characters’ plans.

Sometimes it’s best to let your characters win.

Rinda Elliott and I are plotters. We have to be with two people working on the same book. No plot outline means lots of chaos. We are both writing at the same time, and we must have a solid idea of what the other is planning, where she is going.

Of course, it’s not planned to death. There’s room for improvising, changes, or going completely off the rails if a really good idea strikes.

In short, you leave room for the magic that you can’t plan for.

And Geoffrey Ralse was pure magic.

His first appearance was in a scene in Shiver, book one of the Unbreakable Bonds series. We first see him drunk and crawling all over the gruff and grumpy Dr. Ashton “Snow” Frost. He was supposed to be one of those one-off, adorable and funny characters that enhances a scene but is ultimately forgotten.

But Geoffrey was never forgotten.

When readers took a chance on Shiver, they asked if they’d seen more of Geoffrey. Rinda and I were also asking if we’d see more of Geoffrey. He was flirty and sassy and so much fun to write. We could feel his hidden depths and wanted to explore them.

So…we gave Geoffrey a bigger, more important scene in Shatter, book 2 of the Unbreakable Bonds series. That particular book also included Sven Larsen, who would also find a home in Psycho Romeo with Geoffrey.

As before, Geoffrey shined.

He appeared again in Torch, book 3, and had some touching words to add in Devour, book 4, when we closed out the series.   

Of course, by the end of Torch, Rinda and I had started to scheme a new future for Geoffrey, where he would get his own book, his own adventure, and his own happily ever after. He’s a great, dynamic character. He’s not at all what we expected when we first introduced this sexy club kid in Shiver, but we fell in love.

Psycho Romeo with Geoffrey and Sven was amazing fun to write. It was like watching one of your children grow up over the years and finally achieve the happiness that you always hoped they would find.

We hope that you love Geoffrey too. Continue reading

Categories: Book Promo, Giveaways, Honorary Blogger Post, LGBT, Published in 2017 | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Honorary Blogger L.M. Brown: Technology – The Bane of Our Lives + Exclusive Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Technology – The Bane of Our Lives

by L.M. Brown

Technology is great, when it’s working properly, but when it goes wrong it can be a frustrating nightmare.  We’ve all been there.  An operating system update that stops our favourite program working correctly, a frozen screen when you haven’t yet saved that amazing scene you just wrote, or even worse the Blue Screen of Death that appears in a flash and signals that your computer has some serious problem that, if you’re like me, you have no clue how to fix.

Technology today does things that most people couldn’t even imagine thirty or so years ago.  So imagine what it might be able to do in another hundred years.

That is part of the concept behind Holographic Havoc.  The story is set in the near future where inventions are becoming more and more complex and are able to do even more than they do now.  I set the story 2102, though considering how quickly our technology evolves, it may be that the invention that the story revolves around is something that is not only around, but already obsolete by the time that year arrives.  Not that I am going to be around to see it any event.

So, what is this invention I am talking about?   

Well, it is a holographic personal assistant that is designed to help the user in all aspects of their life. Whether it is organising meetings, booking a restaurant, doing your shopping, or maintaining a good relationship with the mother-in-law, this fictional invention is there to help.

Amazing right?  

But what about when that piece of technology decides to go wrong?   After all, the more complicated the program, the more likely it is to have bugs that are designed to drive a person completely insane.

I hope you enjoy reading about what happens when Hayden’s holographic assistant develops an unexpected bug.  

Feel free to share your own techie horror stories here – we all have them and it sure is nice to know we are not alone when we’re screaming at our computers to just work!

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About Holographic Havoc

Hayden Knight’s job is simple. All he has to do is sell his father’s latest invention to Tate South, the Acquisitions Manager of the biggest supplier of the best in cutting-edge technology. The virtual assistant is designed to help the user in all aspects of their life, but Hayden views the holographic helper as nothing but a nuisance. Keeping his annoyance to himself is relatively easy until a major technical glitch causes Tate to see and hear Hayden’s assistant.

Hayden and Tate are thrown together while they try to figure out what has happened, and the chemistry between them is electric. Hayden soon finds that convincing Tate that he needs a Holo-Assistant isn’t as important to him as persuading him he needs Hayden in his life.

The attraction is mutual and the sparks fly. If only they could get rid of their holographic third wheel.

Available at: Amazon

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An Exclusive Excerpt from Holographic Havoc

After picking up Hayden’s car, a self-driving sporty model that was as comfortable as it was sleek, they settled in for the journey, with Randy hovering in the back seat.

“What sort of information can the assistant access about individuals? About me?”

“Anything that’s public knowledge.”

“Care to demonstrate?”

“Randy, please tell me everything you know about Tate.”

“Tate South, aged twenty seven, date of birth 6th May 2075. Owner of ED Electronics and Head of Acquisitions.”

“What about personal stuff?” Tate interrupted.

“Personal?” Hayden asked.

“My name, age, job, and stuff like that is all public record. What else can it find out?”

“Randy, personal profile of Tate please.”

“Tate South, single, currently ranked as number ninety in the top one hundred most eligible bachelors in England. Sexual orientation—gay. Sexual health status—clean. Last long term relationship was between February 2097 and October 2100. Infrequent user of gay hook-up app—” Continue reading

Categories: Book Promo, Excerpts, Giveaways, Honorary Blogger Post, LGBT, Published in 2017 | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Honorary Blogger Skylar M. Cates: Dedications + Giveaway!

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Dedications

by Skylar M. Cates

Do you know what irritates me? When my kindle skips over the acknowledgements and dedication pages and always takes me to the first chapter. Maybe I’m a nerd, but I enjoy reading the author’s notes and acknowledgments.

Secrets of You, the fourth book in my Sunshine and Happiness series, has a special dedication. Before I write about it, and I’m a little choked up to do so, I wanted to reflect on some of my previous dedications and what they meant to me.

As I went back to various books and the dedications, each one did have significance. Here are a few that I wanted to share:

Exposed: A first book really is a baby, so who better than Mom to dedicate it to?  A day or so before Exposed was to be on the coming soon page at Dreamspinner, I had a nerve-jangling attack. The book wasn’t ready! It could still be better! I’m taking it back! Mom came to my rescue.

It was my mom who reassured me, cheered me on, and made me take that final leap of faith. She really was my hero that week.

Dedication: And for my mom, my eleventh-hour champion

The Guy from Glamour: Aware of the dedication to my mother in my first novel, my sister said all her friends teased her. Where was she in my acknowledgments? She had to defend our sisterly bond from the doubters.  Although she was joking (sort of), I could tell she wished a book would be dedicated to her too. The Guy from Glamour seemed a perfect choice. The book had sisters, after all, lots of them. Siblings played an important role in the book.

Dedication:  This book is dedicated to Karen, my big sister and my friend

Lovers, Losers, and You:  This wasn’t the first novel that I dedicated to my kids; however, it was the first novel they all took an avid interest in discussing. No, they haven’t read it (yet), but my kids often heard me bemoaning plot and character points with my husband (who nodded in all the correct places), and they began to offer “help”.  In the book, there’s a reality cooking show, and at the time, my daughters loved shows like Cupcake Wars and Master Chef Jr., so I used some of that for inspiration. Each one of my kids wanted to create a judge. I have three kids= three judges. I took notes on the gender, personality and looks. I used what they told me. One day I would love to see them actually read about the judges that they helped their mom create. For now, it makes me smile when I reread those competition scenes.

Dedication: For Ariana, Jared, and Talia—thanks for the judges!

Secrets of You: My original person to thank was my husband. He is the best at giving me time to create. I had the dedication there, ready to go.

Then I changed it.

Editors don’t often get the credit they so richly deserve. They can take an author’s words and improve them. They can talk you off the ledge. They can make you shine. If you’re lucky, as I have been, they are also friends.

At the start of Secrets of You, my head editor Sue was leave, for reasons I didn’t know, but I was assured she was coming back for the second half of the editing process. Sadly, Sue was unable to return. For personal reasons, she had to leave DSP for a longer period.

Although the substitute editor was excellent too, I missed my friend. Only Sue had been with me through the creation of the Sunshine and Happiness series to here. She once joked “I speak Skylar,” and that was for real. She got me.

I decided my hubby could get some other dedication (and had been in other dedications already). Before the final draft went to print, I altered the page.

Dedication: For Sue Adams.

Sue, I miss your expert eye and warm heart. Be well.

There is a second part to my dedication in Secrets of You.

Without readers, writing can be a lonely and frustrating task. On the bad days, it’s enough to make a writer want to stick the manuscript in the closet.

I certainly have felt this way. But then I wonder if somebody is actually waiting and wanting my book? And I push through the doubts.

If you ever are considering sending a writer a small note of appreciation, I’m here to tell you to do it. It matters. A whole lot!

Dedication:

To the loyal readers of this series—you’re the miracle that makes me want to write. You’re the bright sunshine in my day. Thank you!

Writers do not have to leave dedications; it’s optional, but I always do it. How often do we get a chance to thank the important people in our lives? These days, especially, I want to remember to be grateful.

So, guys, next time the kindle jumps to the first chapter, maybe scroll back? Take a look? You never know what dedication is waiting.

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About Secrets of You

secretsofyoufs_v1It’s never easy to find redemption.

Carrying scars and regrets, River Darcourt avoids too much intimate contact. Among his friends, he is known as a quiet loner. Forget about love—it’s not something he will consider—until sweet, young, and tempting Morgan Hayes becomes his housemate. River closed his heart long ago, but the attraction is impossible to deny.

Morgan Hayes needs a change. He is moving out of his critical father’s home and in with his friends, including his secret/not-so-secret crush, River. Having feelings for River is a terrible idea. But what is a guy to do when the annoyingly sexy mechanic is just across the hall?

While Morgan has overcome ugliness and is ready for love, he’s just not sure River ever will be. They have both experienced pain in their lives. So Morgan dares River to take a chance, and love will either break their fractured hearts in more pieces or, just possibly, make them whole again.

Available at: Dreamspinner Press & Amazon

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About Skylar M. Cates

Skylar M. Cates loves a good romance. She is quite happy to drink some coffee, curl up with a good book, and not move all day. Most days, however, Skylar is chasing after her husband, her kids, and her giant dog, Wasabi. Skylar dreams about spending her days writing her novels, walking along the beach, and making more time for her good friends. On a shoestring budget, Skylar has traveled all over in her early years. Although, lately, the laundry room is the farthest place she has visited, Skylar still loves to chat with people from all around the globe.

Find out more about Skylar on her Blog, Facebook or Twitter.

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Skylar has graciously offered up a copy of the Secrets of You e-book or choice E-book from her backlist to one lucky winner!! The giveaway starts now and ends March 10, 2017 at 11:59 p.m. To enter, just comment below with who you would dedicate a novel to and why?

Good luck!

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Honorary Bloggers Kelly Wyre & AF Henley: The Character Discussion + Giveaway!

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The Character Discussion

by Kelly Wyre & AF Henley

Welcome to the Breaker (Exile, Volume 1) Blog Tour and Giveaway! We’re both super excited about this new release and thrilled to be able to share it with you. Throughout this tour, we’re going to be introducing many of the characters within, and associated with, Exile’s bizarre shores, as well as introducing Exile itself. Then we’re going to top that off with a quick little teaser.

However, before we get into any of that we wanted to remind you that we’ve got a couple of awesome giveaways going along with the tour so be sure to read through to the end to find out how you could win either a Silver-plated Starfish Anklet (just by leaving a single comment!), or the grand prize of a signed, print copy of Breaker, a coordinates bracelet with the Believe. Seek. Prove. reminder so you can always find your way back to the island of Exile, and a $20 gift certificate to the Less Than Three Press book market.

The Character Discussion

AF Henley: *looks up, petrified* What do you mean, “YOU start it this time?”

Kelly Wyre: I think I meant exactly that. And now I’m questioning my life choices. As usual. Ahem. HI EVERYBODY! We’re here to keep on discussing Exile: Breaker characters. Who’s up today, Henley?

AFH: Loaded question, Kelly.

KW: *eyes Henley* Hm. Do you need a second? Does today’s character just… do it for you?

AFH: Aw, Kelly. All our characters do it for me. But Mithra *is* a pretty cool one.

KW: I like her.

AFH: She does the thing… with the thing… that we wrote about.

KW: Yes. That thing. The give-the-Barrier-its-creepy-ass-vibes-thing. Mithra is one of the people who maintains the Barrier on the Island, which is the thing that helps guard it from the overly-militarized-completely-freaked-out-and-trigger-happy world. Unfortunately, it makes Eddie see the Kraken.

AFH: Damn. She’s good at what she does then.

A great big thank you to The Blogger Girls for hosting us today, and another to you for joining in on the fun. Best of luck with the giveaway and we hope you enjoyed the post!

Until next time,

Kelly Wyre and AF Henley ❤ Continue reading

Categories: Book Promo, Excerpts, Giveaways, Honorary Blogger Post, LGBT, Published in 2017 | Tags: , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Honorary Blogger R Phoenix: Behind Too Close + Giveaway!

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Behind Too Close

by R Phoenix

Hello everyone,

Thank you for taken an interest in me, my work, and what I have to say. Much like Skylar, the main character in my contemporary book Too Close, I have a groan-worthy sense of humor. He didn’t get it from a stranger, but with some of that groan-worthy levity I would like to talk about some deeper stuff.

“I’m dealing with a lot of scary things. I think you have to react to them. And you either laugh at them or you go insane Or you shut off from everything and everyone. Trying not to feel.”
–Death Masks. Jim Butcher.

I’ve been surprised by how many people genuinely want to know about the motivation behind Too Close. I’m not here to tell you everything you read was true, even though my experiences have heavily colored the story depicted in this book. Unfortunately, all too often we run into the question of why people stay in an abusive relationship, and that is something I would like to touch upon in this blog post.

What did the grape say when it got crushed? Nothing. It just let out a little wine.

There’s a misconception that if you’re that miserable, you’ll head out and never look back, but it’s not quite that simple. I’m hoping Too Close gives a better approximation of why people stay. Of course, Skylar’s story is as purely unique as that of any other abuse victim. The reasons for staying vary greatly from person to person. To give you an idea, they tend to come down to thing like love, hope, fear, isolation, lack of resources, children, confusion, guilt, self-worth and social pressure. It is rarely just one thing, and often an amalgamation of several.

We don’t have any vegetable jokes yet, so if you do, lettuce know.

From a young age, we are taught responsibility by our parents, and that responsibility extends to honoring commitments. Then through media, we are often given the message that true love will conquer all and that you should give everything up for a chance at such unique happiness. Love demands sacrifice, love requires you to work on it. Love means that in the end all the hardships will have been worthwhile, because then it was true love!

Do not trust atoms. They make up everything.

We aren’t taught what true love actually looks like though, and all too often, we aren’t taught how much sacrifice is too much. When faced with abuse, reaching out for help becomes hard, because no one wants to admit that maybe they made a mistake in believing their heart and following their emotions. Maybe the situation is abusive, but it also provides financial stability, and wouldn’t it then be silly to leave that behind? Or what if there are children involved, and they are a good parent to them; would you deprive your children of that because you’re feeling undervalued? What if they also tell you that they love you? That they didn’t mean it and will never do it again?

Wouldn’t you want to believe that, knowing that a relationship is a commitment, takes work, and true love is worth it? Besides, where would you go? You can’t go back to your parents because you can’t work out your relationship. You’re an adult now…! Maybe you already know you should leave, but you’re afraid what your partner will do to you or themselves if you do. Maybe, after so long, you have started to believe your partner when they say they love you, but you make them so angry…! You kind of had it coming, right? You could have been nicer. And they’re not that bad. Other people have it much worse!

I tried to catch some fog. I mist. Continue reading

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Honorary Blogger Erica Cameron: Nemesis Playlist + Quotes & Giveaway!

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Nemesis Playlist

by Erica Cameron

I can’t usually listen to music I know when I’m writing. Inevitably, I end up singing along and getting distracted from whatever I’m working on, so I’ve stopped trying to force it. That means I don’t usually create a playlist of music until after the first draft is done. Most often, I’ll be listening to something and one line will spark an “Oh, that reminds me of _____!” thought. This is how my book playlists get built. Slowly. Song by random song.

A note: the list below is in order based on band name, not anything book specific.

The Wicked Ones – 10 Years
Ticking Bomb – Aloe Blacc
Daniel in the Den – Bastille
Angel With a Shotgun – The Cab
Can’t Change Me – Chris Cornell
Seven Devils – Florence + The Machine
The Pretender – Foo Fighters
Wait it Out – Imogen Heap
Not Alone – Linkin Park
Wretches and Kings – Linkin Park
You Can Run, But We’ll Find You – Matchbook Romance
Youth Without Youth – Metric
Zero Sum – Nine Inch Nails
What Am I Becoming? – POP ETC
Ghost – Sir Sly

Listen to the whole list on Spotify here. Continue reading

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Honorary Blogger M.A. Church: The Inspiration Behind In Enemy Hands + Giveaway!

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The Inspiration Behind In Enemy Hands

by M.A. Church

About a year ago, I was taking a break from writing and was goofing off on the Internet and ended up on Google Images. Originally I’d typed in vampires, then an incubus caught my eye, and from there it was a short trip to looking at fey-type characters, lol.

Since it was so long ago, I don’t remember why I was looking at these types of beings—probably needed character inspiration pictures. Then it happened… I ran across an image, one drawn by an artist.

I swear, my world actually stopped. In the artist’s rendition, one character had long black hair and the other had long white. I was so fascinated with the picture, I scrounged around on the Internet until I found who drew it and her gallery. Unfortunately, she’s French, so I couldn’t speak to her, but I saved the link.

The black-headed one (Adlar) is actually what the cover for In Enemy Hands is based on. His pale, pale skin, jet black hair, and pointed ears caught my attention. There was this look about him—introspective, but also restrained violence.

I knew then I had to write these two characters.

When I write science fiction, I usually start with the characters. Once I have them, and know their background, the world building starts from there. The picture I used for inspiration had the character standing side-by-side. The dark-headed one was standings upright with his arms crossed. The white-headed one (Varo) is slightly bent at the waist, his arms crossed, and leaning over a post. They’re both looking into the distance. There is an ease between the two of them, and I knew somehow that was going to be very important to the story.

There’s also a lot of play on imagery in the story. Good guys usually wear the white hats, right? *Points at Varo* There’s Varo with his white-blond hair. Then there’s Adlar, with his pale looks and black hair. Bad guys were black hats, right? *Grin* One of the things you often see in my stories is that appearances can be deceiving. Continue reading

Categories: Book Promo, Excerpts, Giveaways, Honorary Blogger Post, LGBT, Published in 2016 | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Honorary Blogger KJ Charles: A Soundtrack to a Story (All in Fear Anthology)

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A Soundtrack to a Story

by KJ Charles

I have a number of bad habits—biting my nails, inadvertently swearing in public, intentionally swearing in public, putting too much chilli in food—but the current worst is probably saying, “Sure, I’ll write a story for that!” without knowing what the story’s going to be about. This summer I found myself having once again done this, with a 15K queer horror story to write, a deadline fast approaching, and a screen as blank as my mind.

I actually find it had to convey how stuck I was. I spent the whole of a Sunday making compote as avoidance therapy, while listening to my favourite album (the cast recording of the recent Sweeney Todd stage production). I had no ideas at all. I went and moaned in my online writers group, where we all firmly agreed I just needed to think of one damn thing and if—

Sorry, wait, hang on, shut up. Did you say Sweeney Todd?

A lot of people will tell you Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street who murders people and makes them into pies, is either a folk myth like Robin Hood, or a real person like Jack the Ripper. But Sweeney was a literary creation, from an amazingly weird, dark and horrific early Victorian pulp tale called The String of Pearls, serialised weekly in 1846-7. This Sweeney is an unrepentant murderer, nothing like the wronged man driven to insanity in the Stephen Sondheim musical.

Sondheim repurposes a lot of the original tale’s characters, as so many people have over the years in adaptations. Johanna, the brave and determined heroine of The String of Pearls, becomes a helpless victim in the musical, confined to a lunatic asylum by an abusive judge (as happens to a different woman in the book). Sondheim invents a young romantic hero, Anthony, rather than using the original love interest, Mark Ingestrie, a man gone to the bad and presumed dead who is imprisoned by Todd to make the famous pies. Mark’s role as victim is taken in the musical by a boy, Toby, who also works for Todd in the book. The book uses as investigator a character ignored by Sondheim, Colonel Jeffery, seeking his friend who was murdered by Todd. (And when I say friend, they are specifically said in the book to have had an “almost romantic friendship… Thornhill made the colonel’s breast the repository of all his thoughts and all his wishes, and a freedom of intercourse and a community of feeling ensued between then, which, when it does take place between persons of really congenial dispositions, produces the most delightful results of human companionship.” Draw your own conclusions.)

The original Sweeney Todd is a brilliant read. The musical is one of my all time favourites; I’ve seen four different stage productions. The whole story has been reconfigured again and again by different writers with different preoccupations, taking the elements and characters, rolling the dice. What the hell, it was my turn. I bet my writing group a pot of freshly made compote that I couldn’t come up with a queered version of Sweeney Todd, and had a full plot and two thousand words by lunchtime the next day.

Just like Sondheim and everyone else, I repurposed the characters. So Johanna’s friend Arabella Wilmot became her lover; Colonel Jeffrey remains an investigator with a missing man to find; Johanna’s lost, wretched love Mark takes on a new role. I resurrected a brilliant piece of London history about the liberty of Alsatia, an area where the laws didn’t apply for the story, and I rewrote the British Empire while I was at it, because why the hell not.

And I had the soundtrack of Sweeney Todd in my head all the time, whispering, threatening, shrieking.

Attend the tale of Sweeney Todd
He served a dark and a vengeful god
What happened then, well, that’s the play
And he wouldn’t want us to give it away

Not Sweeney
Not Sweeney Todd
The demon barber of Fleet Street.

(Those who know the musical may pick up a few Sondheim quotes in the story. Happy spotting!)

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About All in Fear Anthology

 

unnamedCompany by Roan Parrish

Nick Levy’s family is falling apart and he has no friends, but at least he can escape into the world of his favorite comic book series, The Face of the Vampire. Naturally, when the vampire in question shows up one day, Nick is enthralled. After all, what could be better than his own personal fantasy made real? Except that Nick isn’t exactly sure whether Michel is real or not. And when the arrival of a new boy in school promises romance, Nick sees a side of Michel he never could have imagined. This Michel is cruel, jealous . . . and he’ll do anything to keep Nick for himself.

Love Me True by Kris Ripper

Palmer’s life is as good as it gets. Well, okay, so he hates his mind-numbing office job. But he’s found a hot, smart, incredibly kinky guy. The sex is explosive. The power play is off the hook. And if he gets his way, Jon will soon be his husband.

When Palmer asks, Jon says yes. For the first time ever, Palmer thinks things might be really good. Sure, bad things happen in the world—to other people. But this is all he needs: Jon at the end of the day, in their bed, arms around him.

How could he have possibly been so stupid?

The Price of Meat by KJ Charles

Johanna Oakley will do anything to save her beloved Arabella from the cruelty of Mr Fogg’s madhouse—but ‘anything’ turns out to be more than she bargained for when she finds herself working for a man suspected of worse than murder. As Johanna is plunged from the horror of Sawney Reynard’s barber shop into the foul, lawless labyrinth at the heart of London, can she or anyone get out alive?

His Mouth Will Taste of Chernobyl by Steve Berman

Joining Zeta Psi isn’t Steve’s dream, it’s his dad’s. Nevertheless his dad’s gift of the mysterious Bailey flask gets Steve an in to the frat house, and maybe his best shot at being accepted on campus. But the flask’s silver sheen may only be lighting his way into the darkness at the heart of the frat—and the darkness he’s learning is within himself. Steve wants to choose who he is, but choices are dropping like flies as he learns the true mystery of the Bailey flask. How does he give back a gift that’s also a curse?

Legion: A Love Story by Avon Gale

STAFF SERGEANT JASON ESSEX, YOU HAVE RECEIVED THE FOLLOWING ORDERS FROM THE UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS:

REPORT TO: CAIN INSTITUTE [ADDRESS REDACTED]

ACTIVE DUTY COMMITMENT: GUARD AN ENTITY CURRENTLY HELD IN AN ENCLOSURE AT THE CAIN INSTITUTE. RECORD DAILY MEASUREMENTS. KEEP ANY AND ALL PERSONS FROM ENTERING OR LEAVING THE FACILITY. ENSURE THE ENTITY REMAINS COMPLETELY INCARCERATED. OBSERVE THE ENTITY WITHOUT ENGAGING.

ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS: THIS ASSIGNMENT WILL BE CARRIED OUT IN FULL ISOLATION. PLEASE BE ADVISED.

Beauties by J.A. Rock

When Dr. Lester Usole attends an event at AI developer Carnificiality, he’s introduced to Beauties: artificial beings designed to provide tailored sexual experiences for their human owners. Lester isn’t interested in sex—but he is fascinated by Ira, a Beauty too violent to be sold.

Lester convinces Carnificiality to give Ira to him. Lester has always wanted the chance to work with an adult AI, and around Lester, Ira isn’t violent. He’s strangely innocent, uncannily perceptive, and his company does much to ease Lester’s loneliness. Except something’s not quite right: Ira roams at night, even when Lester’s sure he’s locked Ira’s door.

Soon Lester is certain of only one thing: Ira has a secret. Something that will link their pasts and change the course of their future—if Lester is willing to face what’s on the inside.

Available at: Open Ink Press  |  Amazon  |  B&N  |  ARe  |   Apple  |  Kobo

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About Authors

Steve Berman: Steve Berman loves to tell stories that are both queer and weird. He was a Zeta Psi back in his college days at and remembers being hazed. He survived and graduated and even earned a Masters Degree in Liberal Studies. He has written and sold over a hundred articles, essays, and short stories. His YA novel, Vintage, was a finalist for the Andre Norton Award.

Find out more at Steve’s Website.

KJ Charles: KJ Charles is a writer and freelance editor. She lives in London with her husband, two kids, and a cat with murder management issues. KJ writes mostly historical romance, mostly queer, often with fantasy or horror in there.

Find her on Twitter, pick up book info and free reads on her website, get the infrequent newsletter at kjcharleswriter.com/newsletter, or join her Facebook group, KJ Charles Chat, for sneak peeks and exclusives.

Avon Gale: Avon Gale wrote her first story at the age of seven, about a “Space Hat” hanging on a rack and waiting for that special person to come along and purchase it — even if it was a bit weirder than the other, more normal hats. Like all of Avon’s characters, the space hat did get its happily ever after — though she’s pretty sure it was with a unicorn. She likes to think her vocabulary has improved since then, but the theme of quirky people waiting for their perfect match is still one of her favorites.

Avon grew up in the southern United States, and now lives with her very patient husband in a liberal midwestern college town. When she’s not writing, she’s either doing some kind of craft project that makes a huge mess, reading, watching horror movies, listening to music or yelling at her favorite hockey team to get it together, already. Avon is always up for a road trip, adores Kentucky bourbon, thinks nothing is as stress relieving as a good rock concert and will never say no to candy.

At one point, Avon was the mayor of both Jazzercise and Lollicup on Foursquare. This tells you basically all you need to know about her as a person.

Connect with Avon on her Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads or sign up for her Newsletter.

 

Roan Parrish: Roan Parrish lives in Philadelphia where she is gradually attempting to write love stories in every genre.

When not writing, she can usually be found cutting her friends’ hair, meandering through whatever city she’s in while listening to torch songs and melodic death metal, or cooking overly elaborate meals. She loves bonfires, winter beaches, minor chord harmonies, and self-tattooing. One time she may or may not have baked a six-layer chocolate cake and then thrown it out the window in a fit of pique.

Sign up for her Newsletter to receive updates about new releases, works-in-progress, and bonus materials like sneak peeks and extra scenes! Find out more on her Website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram

Kris Ripper: Kris Ripper lives in the great state of California and hails from the San Francisco Bay Area. Kris shares a converted garage with a little kid, can do two pull-ups in a row, and can write backwards. (No, really.) Kris is genderqueer and prefers the z-based pronouns because they’re freaking sweet. Ze has been writing fiction since ze learned how to write, and boring zir stuffed animals with stories long before that.

Find out more on Kris’ Website, Facebook or Twitter

J.A. Rock: J.A. Rock is the author or coauthor of over twenty LGBTQ romance, suspense, and horror novels, as well as an occasional contributor to HuffPo Queer Voices. J.A. has received Lambda Literary and INDIEFAB Award nominations for Minotaur, and The Subs Club received the 2016 National Leather Association-International Pauline Reage Novel Award. J.A. lives in Chicago with an extremely judgmental dog, Professor Anne Studebaker.

Find out more on her Website, Blog, Twitter and Facebook.

Categories: Book Promo, Honorary Blogger Post, LGBT, Published in 2016 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment