Dreamspinner Press, K.C. Burn

You Definitely Won’t Want To “Cast Off” This Toronto Tale



“True best friends never fail on understanding, forgiving, and being there for one another no matter what the situation that they might be in or be having with one another because of the fact of that no matter if it’s two males or females love should always be there as if brothers or sisters if they’re what we call best friends.” ― Jonathan Anthony Burkett


I had read the first book in K.C. Burns’ Toronto Tales series, but hadn’t gotten to the second one before I read Cast Off. That worked out just fine. The series is probably best read in order since the characters from the first two books appear frequently in this one. However, K.C. Burn explains their roles in the story enough so that I didn’t feel like I was missing anything.
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Dreamspinner Press, Kim Fielding

Review: The Tin Box by Kim Fielding


“Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

 

I’ve read several books by this author and enjoyed them immensely. I had no idea she was going to take me on such an emotional ride with this one.

William takes on a job as a caretaker at an old asylum while working on his dissertation for his PhD. While there, he comes across an old tin box. Inside were letters written by a former patient named Bill to his lover Johnny. As William reads the letters, he’s realizing he has a lot more in common with this patient besides having the same name. You see, Bill was sent to the asylum to be “cured” of being a homosexual.

Colby works at his grandpa’s grocery store in the same small town. Colby is out and proud and doesn’t care who knows it. When Colby meets William, neither one could know they would change each other’s lives forever.

I loved William. I wasn’t too sure about him in the beginning, he seemed a little too uptight and full of himself, but as his story unfolded, my heart went out to him. Forced by his parents to be “cured” for his deviant, sinful, homosexual behavior, he is ultimately brainwashed into suppressing his true self. Having read about religious organizations in the past trying to make gay people straight, I had somewhat of an idea of what it all entailed. Never could I have imagined what lasting affects it could have on a person, on William. It was utterly heartbreaking.

I absolutely loved William and Colby together. If ever two characters needed each other it was these two. Colby was such a delight, his sense of humor, his laughter, his positive outlook on life. He showed William it was okay to be who he was. Colby was definitely the shining light William needed to come to terms with who and what he was.

I have never read a story in which one of the most heartbreaking characters wasn’t even physically there. The letters William found in that tin box were devastating and so sad. The realization of what those letters meant was gut-wrenching to say the least. For William, I believe it was kind of a wake-up call for him. He had a choice of how he wanted to live his life, he had his freedom. Bill, the man who wrote those letters, never had a choice. He had his freedom taken away simply because he loved another man. I believe that voice from the past made William stronger in ways he never thought possible. It shows in the letter William writes to Bill at the end of this story. Wow, I had to swallow back tears as I read it, so beautiful.

What a talent this author has for bringing us such a dark and sad topic, and balancing it with light and sweet scenes. By talking about a subject that isn’t really touched upon too often in this genre, and making us realize just how far we have come, and just how far we still have yet to go. I thank you, Ms. Fielding, for writing such an inspiring story that I know I will never forget.

This book is definitely a must read for everyone.





You can buy The Tin Box here:

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Dreamspinner Press, Jameson Dash

“Home Team” Is Where The Heart Is



“Home is where we tie one end of the thread of life.” ― Martin Buxbaum


Summary:

Aaron left his hometown some fifteen years earlier in hot pursuit of his NHL career, leaving behind his parents, his sister and the love of his life, Zach. Pushing thirty six, he finds himself heading towards retirement, the Stanley cup and his big time dreams benched due to his relative maturity. When a clumsy car wreck leaves his all-star rookie teammate with a sprain, Aaron is forced to return home and take up his place in the minor league. But with fifteen years and his rising star far behind him, Aaron is forced to find out if you can ever really just go home.
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P.D. Singer, The Joyful Approach

P.D. Singer Is Here To Pedal Some Goodies To Celebrate GRL!


DSC_0438The entire world, or the Chez Singer section of it, comes to a screeching halt in late June and early July, because the Tour de France is on. When each stage can take hours to air, even in the condensed cable TV version, and then the Marital Unit needs to watch it all over again when it repeats, I end up watching a lot of cycling. Then we have the Tour of California and the Tour of Utah, and let’s see, the US Pro Cycling Tour, which has him driving all over Colorado to follow the stages, and…

css-bottle1 So my response to a TV screen full of guys in skin-tight spandex, not all of it zipped, is to evolve plot bunnies. Heh, heh, heh.

I’ve been working on Spokes a lot longer than I wished, not because I don’t have the plot worked out, but because five Mountain novels had contracts and I do, by golly, meet my deadlines. Linear girl also has issues working on more than one project at a time, but when Team Sky, Astana, Garmin-Sharp and all the others have their 200 riders pedaling through my living room, the creative juices do flow. I’m taking notes, I’m writing a chapter, I’m asking for explanations.

(Honey, why do 153 riders all have the same time for the stage?)

There’s a lot about cycling that’s not intuitive, though it certainly seems straightforward: get on the bike, go fast. I bet Bradley Wiggins and Cadel Evans wish that’s all it took. I had to learn the details, organize them, and pick out the bits that need to make it into the story.

saunaI found very little about gay pro cyclists: Graeme Obree didn’t come out until 2011, after he retired, and even he suggested that other gay cyclists remain quiet lest it cause problems in the changing rooms. Yet I find it hard to believe that there aren’t gay cyclists at every level, including the topmost echelons, on the teams who stand on the podium at the Tour, the Giro d’Italia, or the Vuelta de Espana.

Tour de FranceThose last two are big stage races, every bit as important as their better-known French equivalent. In all three, thousands of people turn out to line the routes, to cheer their favorites (or everyone who comes by), ring their cowbells and dress peculiarly, the better to be seen running alongside the cyclists, and scrawl the leaders’ names on the pavement in chalk. I chose to set my story against the late-winter-into-spring time of training and early races, and include the big stage race that falls first in the season.

I invented another UCI ProTeam, Antano-Clark, and based it out of Boulder, where they have to share the off-season roads with Team Garmin-Cervelo. Given how things have changed since I started writing, that team is now Garmin-Sharp. Sponsors change and are hard to come by: fielding a world class team takes many millions of dollars a year, and cyclists can run out of logo-space on their clothing for all the smaller sponsors who chip in. (Team Liquigas put its logo across the riders’ butts for great visibility. Don’t know how Bobke kept a straight face the year the announcers pronounced it correctly, which isn’t “likwi-gas.”)

001wqa3hTeam Antano-Clark has Julien Biondi as its star, and Julien has his secret, not to mention some issues with the rider who should be his lieutenant and biggest supporter. He also has eyes for Christopher Nye, an amateur cyclist and would-be journalist, whom he meets at a cycling store. Between the social hazards, the riding hazards, and Julien’s need to leave for Europe, this relationship needs to be in heavy training.

The author is doing some heavy lifting—this is a real sport with real competitors, and I don’t have authorization to use a one of them, so everyone but the MCs are composites with some big old inventions added.

I do make my guys work for their HEA, and I am working to give it to them. The big question—will I have this ready for Gay Rom Lit?

Heh, Linear Girl meets her deadlines. I’m off to write!

Spokes

Pro cyclist Julien Biondi has fought his way from lowly domestique to the general classification star of Team Antano-Clark without ever poking his nose out of the closet. Being on an American-based team has given him the courage to take a chance on Christopher Nye, a journalist and amateur cyclist. A relationship is harder than any twenty-one stages of the Giro d’Italia–can Julien and Christopher finish this together?

Find Pam and her news at http://PDSinger.com, https://www.facebook.com/pd.singer.9, and https://twitter.com/PD_Singer .

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THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED

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Diana DeRicci, MLR Press

A Little Luck And A Little Romance Is What “Learning to Live” Is All About



“If one is lucky, a solitary fantasy can totally transform one million realities.” – Maya Angelou



BLURB: Avery Storey has bought a house in a conscious effort to be more independent. Right before he moves in, the kitchen pipes malfunction. Lucky for him, one of his new neighbors is the same man Avery has begun to warm up to through his teller job. Gratefully, AJ comes to the rescue, because that’s what neighbors do. A little romance blooms between the two men. Unfortunately, AJ blows his chance when he learns Avery is thirteen years his junior. Hurting for the sweet man across the street, he’s forced to face what his life would be like without Avery at all, because being neighbors alone just would not be enough.
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A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week, The Joyful Approach

Here’s A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week!



Can you believe we’ve already closed out six weeks of the Joyful Approach Countdown to GayRomLit 2013 Celebration? And now we’re down to the final week of virtual fun before we get to Atlanta, where the real action begins! We’ll be taking lots of pictures and collecting lots of stories to share when we get home, not to mention that the October calendar is all but filled with more guests and goodies for the coming weeks, so stay tuned.

Just in case you’ve missed it, HERE is a list of all the authors who’ve appeared so far, including links to their guest posts; plus the balance of the guests who’ll be hosted at Joyfully Jay‘s place.

We’ve got a great week coming up, more guest articles, more great giveaways, and, as always, more reviews, so be sure to stop by and say howdy to:

>> Monday – P.D. Singer
>> Tuesday – Carter Quinn
>> Wednesday – Taylor V. Donovan
>> Thursday – Erica Pike
>> Friday – Deanna Wadsworth
>> Saturday – Rhys Ford – “Sinner’s Gin Backstage Pass” Tour
>> Sunday – Amber Kell

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

Have a great week, and happy reading!

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Carina Press, Kim Knox

And The Trilogy Ends? “Agamemnon Frost and the Crown of Towers”



“I think I could not refuse this moment to die for you, if that would save you.” ― Walt Whitman


Kim Knox brings the Agamemnon Frost trilogy to a pretty satisfying finish in Agamemnon Frost and the Crown of Towers, as Frost and his faithful manservant Mason prepare to save the world, at any and all cost, from the evil and elusive alien Pandarus and his automaton army.

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Amy Lane, Harmony Ink Press

Amy Lane Is Here Today To Talk “Triane’s Son Rising” – And She’s Offering A Giveaway!












TNA: Hi, Amy, and welcome back! It’s always so great to have you here with us. I’ll also give a shout out and total props to Cody Kennedy for arranging this for us. ::waves at Cody:: :-D

AL: Hi, Lisa—so lovely to be here! And Cody was a DOLL because I hadn’t even had a sec to THINK about chatting about this series, so big whopping smishes to Cody.

TNA: Let’s jump right into the thick of it and talk a little bit about your new book Triane’s Son Rising from Harmony Ink Press.

Is this your first foray into the Young Adult genre? If so, what made you decide that now was the time?

AL: Actually, now wasn’t the time—six years ago was the time. Now is just when Harmony Ink imprint became active and I asked if maybe these older works might work for the parameters of YA. Six years ago, I’d published three of my Little Goddess books, and my older kids were getting old enough to ask me to write something for them. I wrote and self published these books with the intention of giving my kids something they could take to school (Little Goddess actually isn’t in the extreme scale for erotica, but my kids were in middle school, and I was being cautious) and as a result, I put a lot of our family and my love of high fantasy into them.

What’s funny is, after I wrote these, and I started writing contemporary m/m fiction, I still gravitated to the New Adult or Young Adult scale. People are giving Talker and Truth in the Dark to their older high school students, and that makes me very proud.

TNA: Do you remember the moment you came up with the idea for the story? Was it something that came on as a burst of inspiration, or did it gel slowly?

AL: Like most of my complicated stuff, it’s a whole different mix of things. I started off with (as I recall) my love of Batman. I threw in my love of fantasy, my love of my family, of my high school students, and of the idea of duality—how does a child grow into a man who wants to be two contradictory things—the diplomat and the weapon. The book grew from there.

TNA: How many books do you have the “Bitter Moon Saga” plotted out for?

AL: Bitter Moon was actually previously published in two big fat volumes. The first one was over 200,000 words, and the second one was near to 250,000. What we did for the Harmony Ink release was divide each of the larger volumes into two smaller ones (we could have easily made it three books for a total of six.) We already have covers for them and everything.

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TNA: The book is labeled “High Fantasy”. Do you enjoy writing fantasy more so than contemporary, or are they both equally challenging and gratifying?

AL: I love writing contemporary, but fantasy—in all of its forms, steampunk, high fantasy, science fiction, contemporary fantasy, UCF, PNR—these are the stories that feed my soul. I just published an essay for RRW (it’s available on my website as well) about the basics of world building, and it’s something I love about writing fiction in general. I have this belief that for all of us, there is a skill, or an art or a science where, when we work at it and perfect it, this is where we see the divine. For me, I see the grand scheme of heroics and humanity when I write Alternative Universe fiction.

TNA: If you were to offer readers a sense of “timing” in this world you’ve created, would you say it feels futuristic or historical?

AL: This is very much historical. I’d place it pre-industrial age—trade ships and explosives exist, as do bows and arrows, so I’d place it as analogous to the European Renaissance or Restoration.

TNA: Could you see yourself writing a contemporary Young Adult novel any time soon?

AL: I would love to. It’s just got to find room in my queue!

TNA: I read this quote recently from author Judy Blume: “Let children read whatever they want and then talk about it with them. If parents and kids can talk together, we won’t have as much censorship because we won’t have as much fear, and have watched a few debates here and there on social media (and have discussed it right here on TNA, as well) over how much sex is acceptable, and possibly even expected, in Young Adult fiction. Do you think there’s a defining line in the “how much is too much” question? And, if so, where do you think that line should be drawn?

AL: That’s funny—this question came to me right after I got the edit for the second Bitter Moon book, asking for more sex, of all things.

I actually believe in what she’s saying very much. Not too long after the second Bitter Moon book was published, my daughter started high school. She came home one day and said, “Mom, there’s a girl in my class who’s reading Vulnerable. (The first book of the Little Goddess.) She’s my age, mom, and she’s reading it.” So I let her read it. She got to the sex parts and told me, “Yeah, I’m not all that excited about those parts right now,” and I realized that I should have had more faith in her in the first place. I have always talked about what they read or which movies they see—in fact, when my teenagers reached that age where I think they’re from Mars and they think I’m prehistoric, literature was the one language the entire household spoke. Seeing this, my attitude has changed from, “Oh my God! Am I a bad parent if I let my kid watch this!” to “Oh my God! I’m a bad parent if I don’t know what they’re watching and talk about it with them.”

I keep my iPod on random—and my seven-year-old daughter picked up on “Cell Block Tango”—and learned most of the words. (It’s chilling hearing a 2nd grader say things like, “He ran into my knife. He ran into my knife ten times.”) So I showed her the movie on my Kindle while I was writing. I checked on her in the middle of the movie, and she was looking a little tearful. “It’s so sad, mom—they killed the one girl because she didn’t speak any English. She was the only one who didn’t kill anyone.” Yeah—kids will tell you what they’re ready for. No doubt about it. And if you communicate with them about what stories mean, they’ll usually get that even sex in good literature isn’t about sex at all.

TNA: Of all the characters in the book, who ended up being your favorite to write?

AL: Aylan. He starts out as the handsome bully, but he proved to have such amazing, surprising depths. Of all the sacrifices made by the characters in the book, Aylan’s and Trieste’s (my other favorite) were some of the most painful—and their responses some of the most amazing.

TNA: Was there any one character who gave you fits through the writing process? If so, whom and why?

AL: LOL—yes—my family. I decided to incorporate my family into these books—remember, at first they were written for my middle-schoolers. I started the books when my youngest was still an infant—maybe nine months old, and when you first see Bethen (my character—but much cooler and stronger and more awesome than I am, actually) she’s pregnant. The books themselves span twelve years in action, and then another thirty years beyond the action, into the future. So I had to not just age my children from the children they were into adulthood, but I had to age them into middle age as well. On the one hand, I took my Zoomboy right off the page from the little hellion he was at three (we called him the Cave Troll) to the kid giving all his teachers fits when he hit grade school. (He’s actually very respectful—I’m a little disappointed.) On the other hand, I had to predict painful things for their young adulthood, and hope that they saw them through.

TNA: Do you have any works-in-progress you’d like to share a bit about?

AL: I actually just finished a story called Behind the Curtain which is another one of those borderline books—I think New Adults will enjoy this one very much, even though it’s not being published in the YA or NA imprint. It starts with Dawson, a Junior College student and the petty tyrant of the theater department, meeting up with Jared, a visiting soloist who performs with the local ballet troupe on stage. Jared seems very cool and very reserved, but Dawson is irrepressible, and as the story—and their relationship—progresses, we realize that Jared’s reserve is, in fact, the guardedness of a man who has been wounded a lot in his life. Dawson is drawn into Jared’s life—much of which happens behind the curtain of a long distance relationship—and in the end, he needs to do a lot of growing up when it comes to what makes a relationship, and how much you can do for another person.

TNA: Would you be willing to share an excerpt from Triane’s Son Rising with us?

AL: Absolutely— this is from the very beginning, and it all look s happy-happy joy-joy—which is pretty much when everything goes to hell.

They looked like brothers but were not. Torrant’s mother had been a widow, come begging at the home of Ellyot’s parents with her infant in tow, and she and Torrant had been taken in. Torrant’s father had been the local doctor and midwife, and one night he had gone out for a call, to never return. His body had been found, savaged and cold, the next morning, and Torrant’s mother had, for reasons known only to her, been afraid the attack had been more than random. She left her home to seek shelter at the Moon enclave. When Torrant was a child, he remembered her apologizing for being too weak to keep them safe on her own, but if there had been weakness in her, Torrant had never seen it.

In fact, there had always been strength and a quality to Myrla Shadow that had impressed the Moons of Clough in the extreme. She had volunteered to be a laundress and a maid, but her husband had delivered most of the Moon children with Myrla at his side, and so she had become the enclave healer, the lead housekeeper, a friend and equal to the family, and another parent to the Moon children.

In all of Torrant’s memory, he had been raised like a brother to Ellyot and the twins, since forever, since before Yarri, and since before the King’s guard had become an overt part of the marauding force that overran the countryside. Although Torrant had a Goddess’s name from birth, he didn’t realize how lucky he was to be safe with the Moons.

Torrant had learned to read alongside Ellyot. He had also learned swordplay and archery, politics and poetry. Eating at the table with Myrla and the other members of the enclave, among Ellyot’s father, mother, Tal and Qir, the older twins, he had learned family. Yarri had been born, the youngest daughter, their precious one, and he had learned joy.

He remembered that last day.

He and Ellyot had practiced their swordsmanship hard and ridden even harder. They had come pushing each other across the neat courtyard of the Moon hold with the rambunctiousness of fourteen-year-old boys. Ellyot, always arrogant, had swept his leg in a half circle, but Torrant had leapt above it and landed on his hands. Then he tucked into a perfect roll and came up twisting to catch Ellyot under the knee, bringing him down. Ellyot laughed, then winced as he felt the bruise to his calf, but laughed again anyway. They were just wrestling, and neither of them played dirty. Torrant won, and that was all.

Ellyot was taller than he was and had shocking blue eyes in his tanned face, whereas Torrant’s eyes were a complicated hazel; but they were both handsome, chestnut-haired boys. Ellyot had a cleft in one cheek, Torrant one in his chin. Ellyot had a slenderness, a grace, that spoke dancer, swordsman, and courtier. Torrant had a heaviness in the chest, a tumbler’s agility, a wrestler’s strength, and when he smiled, one corner of his lip curled up, and twin grooves bracketed his mouth in a way that had made people want to make him smile since he was very young. Ellyot had the family divot in the ear, and, of course, the deadly handsome dimple. But that was all. From a distance, which is all anyone not connected with the homestead really ever saw, they were identical.

That day, a tall soldier had approached, wearing the teal and black of Rath’s house on the tunic over his armor and in his horse’s livery. He called Ellyot by Tal’s name, and Torrant by Qir’s, and the boys looked at each other sideways and lied easily. “Yes, sir, no, sir, our father is not at home, sir. He paid his levies, sir; he’s loyal to the consort. The family is away, sir.” Then, when they were asked about worship services at the hold, Ellyot’s eyes narrowed, and his carefully politic answers melted like fog in spring.

“My father doesn’t allow politics in his hold,” he said evenly, and Torrant had to try very hard not to dart a glance at the boy he loved like a brother. People listened when Ellyot spoke—there was an authority to his voice; there always had been. You didn’t argue with someone who could kill you when you had that in your voice, not when you were unarmed and alone.

“I’m not talking about politics, boy!” the guard had protested. “I’m talking about religion!”

“When you’re wearing a uniform of the crown and asking me about worship, sir, that’s politics,” Ellyot replied with the arrogance of a child who had been born and raised on the land and power he stood upon.

“All I want to know, boy, is if your father is loyal to the Consort or not!” the guard snapped then, out of patience and obviously frustrated that he was being outconned by a youngster.

“We’ve been raised to love our country,” Torrant said honestly, because Owen Moon was nothing if not a patriot. That didn’t mean he liked what the Consort was doing to the Goddess’s people, but Clough was horse country, and horses were in the Moon blood, and the family all loved the open plains of the valley they lived in with something akin to fever.

“So this isn’t an island of Triane’s children, then, planning insurrection?” the man asked with narrowed eyes.

“You can be assured that no one here would know how to plan an insurrection,” Torrant answered, and this, he knew, was the gods’ honest truth.

But it was also the Goddess’s truth, because while Moon’s hold may not have been a hotbed of insurrection, it was a safe haven for those who didn’t feel comfortable making a living in their own country anymore. Although everybody in the hold had a place in their hearts for Oueant and Dueant, the twin gods, they also worshipped Triane, the Goddess, and that was what the Consort didn’t like.

Torrant, who was named for the Goddess and who had a wizard’s gift to match, was certainly a child of Triane, and so were Ginny and Arel, two women who lived together in one of the cottages Moon had built for the workers on his land. So was Bren, who had conceived her son Orel during one of Triane’s wildings. There were over thirty workers on the fertile Moon—land: farmers, spinners, weavers, horsebreakers. Until he diced words with this man, who spoke well and stank so badly of death and lies even the nongifted Ellyot had to suppress a retch, Torrant hadn’t realized the two things he had in common with the others on Moon lands were also the two things that put the Moons in danger. When he realized that, he had no trouble lying, none at all.

And it had gone well, right up until the man had turned away, rudely, as it seemed, and a rock had sailed out of nowhere and crashed down on his helm, pitching him out of his saddle. Torrant and Ellyot looked at each other, startled. It was not that they hadn’t wanted to crack the man a good one across the skull, but that they hadn’t had the opportunity. And they had known of the consequences if they had.

“Dammit!” Ellyot exploded as they ran to the still form on the ground. “Where is—” Torrant held his hand up and shot a quick look at the fallen King’s man. They had lied about the family being home, and given the strength this man could bring to bear against them, it had been a good pretense to keep up. Ellyot caught himself. “Where did that come from?” he asked, gritting his teeth. He caught Torrant’s eye, looked to the oaks that arched the road to the boundary of Moon lands where Torrant himself was looking, and scowled consequence at the unseen rock-launcher. They sat the man up, checked to see if he was sound, and put him dazedly back on his horse. Torrant closed his eyes hard, thought for a moment, and then staggered. A glazed, evil smile crept up the courtier’s face, and his fine horse cantered off, bearing the man’s wobbly weight with the grace of a nag with a sack of mud.

“What did you do?” Ellyot demanded, supporting his brother, his voice frustrated and protective.

Torrant shook his head. “Made him happy he came here, that was all.”

Ellyot’s eyes met Torrant’s, and they both shivered. “Then why,” Ellyot murmured, “did that smile look so mean?” Without looking over their shoulders for the unrepentant Yarri, both boys took off running behind the homestead for the stables to tell Ellyot’s father.

Moon was well and truly alarmed. Moon was a black-haired giant of a man, with a red beard and wide shoulders. His alarm was terrifying. “You told him we were gone?” he asked his son for the thousandth time. “And you made him happy he came?” He looked at Torrant, who was beginning to feel sick, and not just in the aftermath of using his gift.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered, wobbling on his feet. “Triane’s travels, Moon—I didn’t mean to get us into trouble….” Moon gave him a grim smile and a fortifying clasp of the shoulder.

“Go rest, boy,” he said kindly. “You were trying to allay trouble, that was all, and it was a good aim. You didn’t count on the evil in Consort Rath. The one thing that would make him happy in all the world is to find me guilty of treason, you understand?”

“But, Dad, you’re a Regent!” Ellyot was saying, just as Torrant’s unusually pale face blanched green, and without ceremony he sank to his knees and vomited in the clean straw. Moon bent and held his head, then wiped his mouth with a cloth. Torrant was exceptionally gifted—as his name might imply—but gifts never came without cost. The Moon family understood that. With little protest, Torrant was ushered to a bale of hay in the corner of the barn, covered with a horse blanket, and told to sleep.

“I should help,” he murmured as Ellyot tucked him in. Moon was already making plans to gather the whole family and the workers off the land by sundown—Torrant could tell by his booming orders and the hard edge of command in his voice.

Ellyot rolled his eyes. “You’re no good to us now….” He grinned wickedly, his blue eyes twinkling. The dimple in his cheek deepened, and Torrant thought bemusedly that it was a good thing he’d known his brother all his life, or he might be made as foolish by that smile as girls were around Qir and boys around Tal. “Besides,” Ellyot continued, “we might need to hunt, and you know that’s not your thing.”

“Piss off—my aim is better than yours and you know it!” Torrant yawned, and his shoulders hunched as his body prepared to protect itself in sleep.

“Yeah—it’s hitting flesh and blood that balks you, you poor, sensitive thing,” Ellyot teased without mercy. “It’s a good thing you talk pretty, or we would have pasted the barn with you.”

“Piss off…,” Torrant mumbled again, and was rewarded by his brother’s laughter as his dark, curly head bobbed away among the hay bales. He would think about that later, because they had been telling each other to “piss off” since they were old enough to say it without adults present. He would hope, later, that “piss off” had come to mean, in the language of the fourteen-year-old boy, the same thing that “I love you” did to a full-grown man. As he drifted off, he was dimly aware that the family made ready to take a hasty holiday with cousins in the north.

The sun had traveled a bit when Torrant opened his eyes, and late afternoon shadows dappled the barn. It was autumn, so the heat was not too intense, but Torrant still sweated a bit as he made to turn in his nest in the hay. It was then that he met a somber pair of frightened brown eyes in a fair, piquant little face with a halo of gold hair caught back in a very frazzled braid.

“’llo, Yar….” he mumbled, fighting to keep his eyes open. Torrant’s mother had been the midwife at Yarri’s birth, and Torrant had helped her. His mother had placed that perfect, red, wriggling body in his arms and he had heard, far off and ringing in his heart, the sound of great bells that tolled from the soles of his feet to the soul in his chest. Every time Yarri smiled at him from that moment on, Torrant heard the far-off sound of bells.

“Ellyot hollered at me,” she told him now, unhappily. Yarri was six, and she adored her older brothers—Torrant included—fiercely.

“You flew off the handle, Yar,” Torrant told her gently. “It made things difficult.”

She shook her head, brown eyes welling with tears. “I’m why we have to leave,” she quavered, and he opened the horse blanket so she could come in and snuggle. Usually Yarri was petted beyond words, every tear caught and soothed before it could hit the ground. But the family was packing for a flight from a bitter enemy, and she had probably been overlooked in the chaos. Torrant felt stirrings of guilt—he should be helping, but his body, overexerted by his gift, was not going to cooperate with that imperative.

“Where are we going?” he asked.

“Father’s brother, Moon in the next country,” she said softly, and Torrant grimaced—that wasn’t a help. Their little kingdom was an island surrounded by mountains; outside of the mountains were at least four kingdoms that could be termed “next country.”

“We’re going to the sea,” Yarri said next. “Mama said I could see a whale.” And Torrant had a better idea—they were headed northwest, to Eiran. Good, he thought, it should have been long before.

“It wasn’t your fault,” he told Yarri belatedly. “I’m the one who told the silly sot he was happy. Your rock on the head wouldn’t have done much harm if I hadn’t butted my big head into it.”

“Can you really do that?” Yarri sniffled. “Can you really tell someone that they’re happy, and they believe it?”

He knew what she was asking, but he’d known her since her first bath, and it wouldn’t take his gift to help. “Yes, Littlest, I can. Would you like me to make you happy now?”

“Oh yes…,” she sighed, wiggling down some more into in her big brother’s embrace. “Make me happy.”

Torrant began to sing of whales and travel, of autumn leaves and sweetness. Yarri’s eyes closed, and happily, she fell asleep.

A few moments later, his mother came to check on him. She rolled her eyes when she saw Yarri’s fair head peeping out of the blanket and bent to kiss her son’s own tousled, brown hair.

“How’re you feeling, sweetheart?” she asked gently. Myrla Shadow was always gentle, Torrant thought fondly. His mother was a still-pretty woman, even with the silver that shot her dark hair in other places than her temple and the lines at her hazel eyes from her deep and quiet smile.

“I’m feeling stupid, mama,” he confessed with a pained sigh, careful not to wake Yarri. “I can’t think of what else I should have done, though. I didn’t want him to get mad at Yarri.”

Myrla shook her head in mock exasperation. “The world is not all about Yarri, you know.”

“He would have hurt Ellyot too—”

“Or Ellyot!” she overrode, and then sighed. “I can’t blame you really, darling. They’re your family.

I’m proud of that. But someday you’re going to need to see bigger than Yarri and Ellyot. We’re going to Eiran, you know.”

He nodded. “I heard—I’m sorry I can’t help.” Just raising his head made him dizzy and weak, and he was a little worried. “I’ve done… bigger things… with my gift; it’s never made me feel like this.” He had spun illusions for Yarri out of the air when he was singing and engraved paper with those same images when he’d held the paper and sung.

“You forced your will on someone else, son. That’s the biggest, hardest, most painful thing any human can do. It should have a bigger backlash, don’t you think?” He nodded, and his mother went on. “Going to Eiran will be good for you. You’ll see a bigger world than this hold.”

Torrant, as weak as he was, was shocked. “I love my home!” he said, although he knew, he always knew, that his heartbeat had never thumped in time to the hoofbeats of horses in the way of his brothers of the heart and their father. Clough was horse country, and Torrant loved it because his family loved it, but he’d never thought beyond that to the things he loved himself.

“So do I, Torrant.” Myrla laughed a little. “Of course we love our home. But it will be good for you to see the world beyond it, so you know what it is you love. Your father wanted the wide world for you. It will be good to see some of it.” He was going to protest, but she forestalled him with a kiss on the forehead. “Now sleep, baby—you and Yarri just stay out of the way and rest. We’re not leaving until dark of night, so you can get in plenty of sleep in the meantime.” She bent and kissed him again, and at first Torrant took the gesture for granted, as do all children who are loved, and then, feeling childish like Yarri but needing to say it just the same, he said, “I love you, mama.”

“I love you too, sweetheart.” She laughed outright. “And I love you too, Yarri,” she murmured, and Torrant realized the sleeping child in his arms was giggling and not altogether asleep. Myrla gave Yarri a hug and smoothed back the hair from her small face, then turned and left. Yarri settled down and actually slept, and Torrant found it easy to follow her.

When they awoke hours later, it was to the smell of smoke and the sound of screams.

TNA: Thanks so much for being here with us today, Amy. I hope you’ll come back soon and often. :)

AL: My pleasure, Lisa—I always enjoy my visits!

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THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED

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AR Moler, Torquere Press

“Burning Now” Is A Burning Mystery Up To The Very End



“Love is not maximum emotion. Love is maximum commitment.” ― Sinclair B. Ferguson


I never read anything by this author but have heard good things, so I was pretty excited to read story. This was such a unique story in the sense that I had never read about a shape shifter who was a fire bird.

Vanya, a different kind shape shifter gets himself into a little trouble and is rescued by Gideon, a local firefighter. Gideon is absolutely fascinated by this man he found in the burning building and wants to find out more about him. Vanya has no recollection whatsoever of how he got there and together they are determined to find out.
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Jane Davitt, Torquere Press

Every Drop Of Your Love Might Go Into “Every Drop of My Love”



“Not all vampires are created equal, you know.” — Melika Dannese Lux



After reading a couple of duds, my faith in vampire stories has been restored! Every Drop of My Love is the book that made my week! I can’t begin to explain how much I loved this little book. Every Drop of My Love is what a vampire story should be, fast paced, sexy and hot as hell! Because if the vampire isn’t hot, what’s the point?

The story is told from Stephen’s point of view. He’s a blood donor and North is the vampire that he services. Their relationship is complicated. Stephen can’t get involved with his client and North holds himself back. But from North’s first bite, he becomes much more to him and Stephen reveals his deepest fantasies to North. Then North makes him an offer that he can’t refuse, which Stephen has been waiting for.
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Sara York, Wilde City Press

“Cherished” Is A Story Of Taking Control And Letting Go



“The truth is balance. However, the opposite of truth, which is unbalance, may not be a lie.” – Susan Sontag


What is a control freak supposed to do when a pretty, innocent face starts to topple the walls he has built around his heart?

Scotty Fuller has control over everything in his life. He has control over the books in the library where he works, and he has control over the subs he has scenes with at the local BDSM club. If there is one thing he cannot and will not ever give up, it is his control. He believes this with his whole heart until the day he meets Wesley Reese.
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K. Vale, Liquid Silver Books

How Happy Is Your Ending? By K. Vale



1238845_505387326219878_1309695949_nHow loose is your goose? Just kidding. What does that even mean?


I love reading reviews (both of my own books and of others). I know some people subscribe to the old adage that authors shouldn’t look at reviews, but I see them as a way to find out what works for people and what doesn’t—what readers are looking for in a book and what they absolutely hate.

Now, will I tailor my writing to a reader’s preference, regardless of my own instincts or desires? Probably not, but if enough reviewers make a similar comment about a book, it can certainly make me think when composing the next one.

For my free M/M story Sticking It, I adopted a HFN (happy for now) ending. It’s a short story, and my college boys began a tentative relationship by the end of my 13000 words. Had they been a couple already in an established relationship at the beginning of the story, of course they would have gotten the complete package—happily ever after (HEA)—by the end. But a short isn’t long enough to create a believable long-lasting relationship, in my opinion. Flowers and promises and long-term commitments aren’t realistic to me in so few words—heck, it’s hard to pull that off in a full-length novel.

Some people really want that, though, short story or no. I’ve seen comments, both on my own story and other people’s, to that affect. Of course, maybe what they really wanted was another 30,000 words, which I suppose is a compliment in a way, but I personally didn’t have time to pull a novel out of my hat in six weeks and still get my other projects done.

My latest release, Forever is Now, is a novel, complete with happily ever after. It took 51, 000 words to get my guys there, and I gave a flash-forward epilogue to make it realistic. They also had an established relationship nine years before the meat and potatoes of the tale take place. I’m writing the second book in my Shooting Stars series right now, and Chance and Alex of Forever have a walk-on part in the next book. So, people who want to check in on their HEA and make sure the flame is still burning can pick up Gio’s book, Double Takes, in a few months.

At the end of the day, everyone has their own likes and dislikes when it comes to reading (and every aspect of life, of course). Good thing there are so many books to choose from, so we’re all guaranteed our own personal happy ending. You want fries with that?

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Blurb for Forever is Now:

If you love someone, set him free. If he steals something of yours, hunt him down and make him sorry.

Alex Bremen is over Chance Ralan. Ever since his high school boyfriend ditched him nine years ago, Alex has barely thought of Chance at all. Sure, Alex attended a concert or two when his ex’s band, Armageddon Showdown, was in the area, but that was more curiosity than anything else. Who wouldn’t want to see firsthand how his once clean-cut boyfriend transformed into a pierced and tattooed heavy metal god?

But when Chance has the nerve to record a love song Alex wrote for him years ago, Alex crosses the country to confront him. Revenge becomes a dish best served sizzling hot. The two men lock horns, but find the chemistry between them has only intensified with time, and occasionally love needs to do some growing up before it can be done right.

Excerpt:

“I bet you never got over that first boyfriend, huh?” Delia must have been a scab-picker as a kid. She just did not quit.

“Him? I gave up on him a long time ago.”

“Well, he sounds like a real asshole, letting you go.” Delia shrugged.

“Yeah, his loss, right?”

Chance picked up his beer glass and chugged the remainder before he slammed it down on the table. He nudged the startled groupie, who scooted out of the booth with him right behind her. Like a pent-up and poked lion, he stalked to the bar. Judging by the two fingers Chance held up, he ordered a double of something clear. He threw back the shooter and stomped off toward the men’s room.

“What’s his deal?” Delia asked no one in particular.

Alex’s glass was low, and he used the opportunity to excuse himself. Jools grabbed his computer and slid it over to pick up where he left off without a skipped beat. Miles racked pool balls across the room, while Jimmy laughed loudly and chalked his cue. Alex breathed a sigh of relief to see his assistant occupied.

He was so stupid for sticking his dick in that guy. He’d have to look for another position for him—one where they wouldn’t work closely together. Obviously, Miles hadn’t gotten past it.

When Alex entered the men’s room, he initially thought Chance wasn’t in there after all. A toilet flushed, and the door on the end stall flew open hard enough to crash against the tiled wall behind it. Chance squinted at him as they both stood before the row of sinks, the rocker washing his hands and Alex giving him a dull stare.

“What the fuck are you playing at, Alex? Why are you here?”

“What am I playing at? You’ve got to be kidding, right?”

“You come here just to screw with my head?” Chance stared accusingly into the mirror, moss-green eyes skewering Alex.

“Like you need any help with that, Chance. I think your head is fucked well and good, and it’s got nothing to do with me. Besides, you sent me a goddamn bat signal on the airwaves when you used my song!”

“So, you didn’t just show up ’cause you missed this, huh?” He grinned maliciously into the glass while he grabbed his crotch in a mocking gesture. In the harsh lighting, even with his dark makeup ringing his eyes from the concert, and the ebony spiral of a dragon’s body curling around his neck and disappearing into the ripped collar of his shirt, Alex could still see flashes of the boy he once knew. The row of stainless steel rings that marched up his left earlobe, and the skinny black leather pants, the anti-social hair and full sleeves of ink—even the cold and cynical glint in his eyes couldn’t completely mask the Chance Alex used to adore.

“How could you sing that song? I know I lost the competition. You needed to be a rock star more than you need me. I’m over it. But here you fuckin’ are, Chance—you made it to the big time without me, and without that song. The least you could do is show an ounce of fucking respect for what we had.”

“I do… I didn’t…” He tripped over his words, and Alex shook his head, about to walk out. Distance was the best thing to have between them. Why did he think confronting Chance would bring some sort of resolution, some kind of healing to the wound that never closed no matter how much time passed? He should have known being so near Chance would tear him apart all over again.

“Wait. Alex?” Chance exhaled a deep breath as if trying to decide if he really wanted to say whatever he was about to.

“I was drunk one night. I couldn’t get you … that song out of my head. I just thought if I sang it, I could sleep, ya know? Cliff heard me. Said we had to cut it.” Chance shook his head as if to negate his words. “He had the rest of the band pressure me.”

“So, once again, I lose to the band, huh? It’s classic Chance. You fucked me over for your career already! Years later, with an entire country between us, you do it again? I let you go, Chance. You should do the same.”

“Did you really?” Chance turned toward him, closing the distance between their bodies. Alex smelled sweat and leather, and Chance’s breath held the essence of liquor as he spoke. “You want to tell me you didn’t think about me at all this whole time? Is that why you never tried to find me? Never called?”

“Are you fucking serious? Is that what I was supposed to do?” Alex clenched his fists, torn between wanting to hit him, and dying to know if his lips, his tongue, tasted like vodka, or beer, or both.

“It woulda shown you cared.”

“I see the world still revolves around you. Nice to know some things never change.”

“Yeah, some things don’t. Your eyes are still that same amazing blue.” Chance leaned closer and the tip of his tongue flicked out to smooth his lips. “I still feel like I could just … dive into them and drown.”

Fuck. A shiver of excitement rumbled through Alex’s body. He had come here to yell at him, to make him realize what a self-centered prick he was. Hopefully shame him, at least a little. After that he was going to leave.

Instead, he leaned in, and his lips were on Chance’s. And, good lord, he tasted and smelled just the way Alex remembered underneath the burn of booze. Chance’s face was rougher against his chin and cheeks, not like the smooth-faced boy Alex used to steal kisses from. Damn, if the man wasn’t so much hotter. He licked the seam of Chance’s closed lips and the guy groaned beneath Alex’s onslaught while his mouth opened in response. Their tongues met, and Chance molded his warm body against Alex’s.

Christ, he feels almost too good.

Alex’s hand wrapped around the back of Chance’s neck. He loved the thatch of hair at Chance’s nape. Different color, but still reassuringly soft. Threading his fingers through the silky mass, he pulled Chance’s mouth closer, his tongue deeper into his own moist heat.

Alex smiled against Chance’s mouth as the rocker ground his hips upward into Alex’s throbbing groin. The guy’s cock was hot and hard, wrapped in buttery leather. It surged against Alex’s hard-on.

Not everything changed.

The squeak of the outer door being tugged open broke the love buzz, and Chance wrenched guiltily out of his arms.

Alex turned on the tap in a liquid-lightning move and started splashing water around as nonchalantly as he could manage. The sink was the right height to cover most of the bulge in his pants, and he prayed it would be enough.

When Dave wobbled in with a shit-faced grin and a “Heyahh!” Alex knew they were safe. Chance was safe, actually, because Alex had quit giving a donkey’s dick what anyone thought about his sexuality a long time ago.

He ran wet fingers through his dark-brown hair and spared Chance a last look. He wouldn’t even make eye contact. The guy was obviously freaked out of his mind.

Alex laughed out loud at the look of abject terror twisting Chance’s face, and gave Dave a nod as he walked out. His balls burned with disappointment, but his heart was lighter than it had been in a long time.

———

Find Forever is Now from Liquid Silver Books: http://www.lsbooks.com/forever-is-now-p827.php

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Forever-Shooting-Stars-Book-ebook/dp/B00F2M2YSM/ref=sr_sp-atf_title_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1378826994&sr=1-1&keywords=forever+is+now

All Romance: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-foreverisnow-1291116-149.html and other major e-book retailers beginning 9/9/13.

And stop by My Blog to help me name the puppy in book two of my Shooting Stars series. The winner will get a shout-out in my acknowledgments, an e-copy of book two (Double Takes) when it releases, and a $20 Amazon gift card. You have until 10/6 to get your name suggestions in, so get to work on something totally rocking! And thanks for playing!

-Kimber Vale
http://www.kimbervale.com

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Poppy Dennison, Wilde City Press

Go Grab This “Accidental Alpha” On Purpose



“Wolves are not ruled by law. They are ruled by the alpha-wolf’s policy.” – Richard Kelly Hoskins



First of all, to get the formalities out of the way……Lex is a policeman taking a break from his strenuous life. He wants to be left alone and is looking for as few complications in his life as possible. A wondering toddler strays onto his property and as he is trying to figure out where the little guy belongs, is bitten by the toddler. Little does he know that this bite not only makes him a werewolf but transfers the position of alpha onto him. Lex’s new pack is very dysfunctional and is in sore need of a strong leader which is a position that given Lex’s stand alone attitude he is reluctant to assume. Throw in the antagonist in the form of the affable, charming, and handsome Spencer and you have the beginnings of a great story.
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J.R. Lenk

Be Prepared For Your Past And Your Present To “Collide”



“Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia” – E.L. Doctorow



When I read Collide I had no idea the age or gender of the author. It seemed to me to be written by a young gay man who is still close enough to those “coming of age” years that he can perfectly communicate them to the reader. I now know that Jerico Lenk is a beautiful, creative, intelligent, articulate twenty-one year old young man. He loves Kurt Cobain, Courtney Love, Harry Potter, anime, performance art and his friends. That’s his favorite quote up there at the top. And he can write like nobody’s business. From what I understand, Collide was written when Lenk was only seventeen. As far as I could find out, he has had nothing else published, but does have some fanfic on-line.
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Dreamspinner Press, Layla M. Wier

“Homespun” Is Not Your Everyday Yarn



“We are sun and moon, dear friend; we are sea and land. It is not our purpose to become each other; it is to recognize each other, to learn to see the other and honor him for what he is: each the other’s opposite and complement.” ― Hermann Hesse



BLURB: For twenty years, Owen Fortescue, a down-to-earth farmer in upstate New York, has had an on-again, off-again relationship with volatile New York City artist Kerry Ruehling. Now that same-sex marriage is recognized in New York, Owen wants to tie the knot. But Kerry responds to the proposal with instant, angry withdrawal. Owen resolves to prove to Kerry that, regardless of the way his family of origin has treated him, family ties don’t necessarily tie a man down. With help from his grown daughter, Laura, who loves them both, Owen hopes to convince Kerry that his marriage proposal isn’t a trap, but a chance at real love.
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K-lee Klein, The Joyful Approach

K-lee Klein Is Here Today With A Few Random Facts And A Great Giveaway!


CHAOS IN THE MOONLIGHT



Hello everyone. I’m K-lee and this is my first time at The Novel Approach. I’m very excited to be included with so many awesome authors for this GRL countdown. This will be my third time going to GRL and second time as an author. But before I talk about that, how about if I introduce myself a little.

I’m a Western Canadian, the proud mom of three, and a cat-lover. I have a strong belief that I could watch sweaty, half-naked men with swords, or sexy dwarfs on a quest, for hours on end (and I most definitely have – I blame the OCD), but I’m also a sappy romantic who cannot NOT write an HEA, and it’s only recently that I’ve started calling myself an author.

It’s still a surreal thing to wrap my mind around, but…well, some of you might understand the jitters that can rock your insides when fantasy meets reality, and you’re suddenly expected to include yourself in a category you’ve always dreamed of being in. Writing and referring to myself as an author is like that for me, and to be perfectly honest, being published opened up a new part of my life, a part that had to be rediscovered when my kids were grown and I needed something just for myself.

I was first published in December 2011, thanks in part to the lovely SJ Frost who encouraged me to submit something to MLR. Glory behold! Finally Home was actually accepted and a new door opened for me. 2012 was a very prolific year with several short stories, anthology additions, and two print books published with both MLR—Lucius’ Bite-Family of Misfits 1, and with Less Than Three Press—Domestic Relations.

2013 has been a slower year, at least in terms of published works. I had a short story come out in January, but then nothing until July when my free story, Las Palabras de Amor, was posted in the GoodReads m/m romance group. Then it happened—I finished two novels at the same time.

Unbreak My Heart came out August 25 from Amber Allure (my first with them) and Ali’s Intuition-Family of Misfits 2 was released on September 20. These two books almost broke me, one more so than the other, and together they exhausted my mind and heart—hence, I was broken.

Between the two of them, I wrote 199,000 words in the span of six months, plus my free short and some (coughs) fanfiction. Is there any wonder I felt rode hard and put away wet? And do you know what makes it all worthwhile? It’s not the ten day book tour I did for Unbreak My Heart or my first time on the bestseller list at ARE. It’s not the fact I still cry when I read certain parts of the book or the lovely compliments about the cover.

For me, the validation of hours, weeks, months spent with a character like Brett Taylor, messing with my head and hurting my heart, came in the form of a single comment with the sweet words realistic, painful, and hopeful. That’s exactly how I wanted Unbreak My Heart to be perceived. It’s a love story, but not an easy one to sit back and watch unfold, or to write for that matter. I needed Brett to be strong and stubborn with a huge helping of soft and sensitive on the side. I was relieved when a reader told me they ached for Brett, but at one point were madder than hell at him, as well. That’s a win in my book—literally.

So back to GRL, I guess you could say I’m an old-timer with regards to attending. I went to the first GRL in fabulous New Orleans. I was there as a reader and I’m the first to admit I wad scared to death. Finally Home had been accepted just before that time so besides being terrified I was a little bit–a lot–elated. To be honest, I’m not one for crowds or socializing under normal circumstances so just being there was a complete shock to my system. But it went fine, more than fine, and I had a freaking awesome time.

One of the most important things I discovered was that despite some of the controversy our genre can breed, the authors I met and now call friends were open and accepting, people I just wanted to be near and hang around with. Some of my most memorable experiences were lunch with the fabulous ZA Maxfield, being introduced as part of the MLR family by my editor, finding more than one kindred spirit among authors and readers, and getting to know Mr. William Neale. Bill and I kept in touch after GRL and I was honored to call him my friend. For those of you who don’t know, Bill passed away suddenly in 2012. I believe he left only the best memories in a large number of people’s minds, and of course he left us his beautiful words.

GRL 2012 was different in a lot of ways from the premiere edition—bigger, more events, more people—but the feeling of belonging was still there. I was hobbling around on one crutch, nervous at being called an author for reals, and just trying to stand in the shadows where I could see everything but not have to become involved. I’m self-conscious that way. Of course, by the end of the festivities I was dancing my ass off with two of my favorite men in the world. Imagine the sight—two deaf fellows dancing in abandon with a woman with one crutch. My knee didn’t thank me in the morning, but it’s an experience I’ll always cherish and never forget.

That’s one of the biggest and most important parts of any GRL for me–finding those connections, making memories, sharing experiences that will last a lifetime. Now how about GRL 2013? New location, larger (don’t quote me on that, though), a little more structure, and overall what am I looking most forward to? Again, it’s not the fact I’ll be a supporting author with a few actual books to sell and sign, or the fabulous, interesting, and informative events and activities planned.

No. For me, it’s the people again. It’s making those connections, collecting hugs (lock that away in your minds – K-lee loves hugs), meeting authors and readers I haven’t met yet, and latching on tight to the ones I already know and love. In short, GRL is about the people, the personalities, the unspoken promise and allowance that anything goes. It’s being able to be who I really am with a group of people who understand just why reading and writing two men in a loving relationship is so important to me.

I’m going to leave you with a few random facts about K-lee, the writer, and the blurb from the book that broke my heart while I was writing it. Thanks for joining me in reading this post, thank you, Lisa, for inviting me, and I hope to meet (re-meet) some of you at GRL.

Randomness

– I never refer to my books by their titles. Every one of my stories I associate more with the characters than the actual name. For example, I didn’t have a title for Unbreak My Heart until it was completely finished and ready for editing. Even now I still refer to it as Brett, just as Lazy Sundays is either (or both) Devon and Scott. Of course, I lucked out (or cheated) with Lucius’ Bite and Ali’s Intuition.

– I suffer more from muse-overload than writers’ block, something that could explain why I generally have more than five stories on the go at a time.

– My muse is an exceptionally bossy bastard. He physically inhabits whichever character he believes needs the most attention (he requested that I torment poor Brett a lot). He’s been known to scream and bounce himself off the walls of my skull if I ignore him or don’t abide by his wishes (demands). His favorite time to make himself known is at night (a lot of times after I’ve taken my sleeping meds) and in the tub (and yes, I do cave to his wishes and write on my iPad in the bath).

– I don’t generally have a specific playlist for each book I write, but I have been known to play one artist, album or even song for the entirety of said book’s writing. For Unbreak My Heart it was Christian Kane, except for the sex scenes, which for some unexplained reason became Backstreet Boys’ territory.

– The most important element of a story for me is the emotions of the characters. If I had to choose between writing a story that did not inhabit the inside of the characters’ heads and hearts but was laced with steamy smut, or one that was smutless with high emotional content, the latter would win hands-down.

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UNBREAK MY HEART

Brett Taylor has been doing just fine living in his own little world for the past three years, thank you very much. Losing someone special is life changing, and Brett doesn’t understand why everyone and their damn dog thinks they can get all up in his business about him needing to move on. He managed to make the transition from musician to rancher without relying on anyone else’s opinion or help, and he certainly doesn’t need some city kid coming into his life to disrupt his routine–one that involves grief, isolation, and a whole lot of Jack Daniels.

Moving from one meaningless job to the next, JT Campbell is on a quest to escape his old life and figure out who he is and where he belongs. He’s not looking to save anyone, let alone a secretive, hotter-than-hell rancher who wears his heart on his sleeve. JT likes working for Brett, but Brett’s made it perfectly clear that any relationship between them other than a professional one will never see the light of day.

But when JT’s lust turns to love, and he gives in to his desire to find out what makes Brett tick, will his interest push Brett away? Or will he, through his patience and support, be the one who can finally unbreak Brett’s heart?


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BIO

K-lee Klein has lived in one part of Western Canada or another for her entire life. She’s a doting mother of three now-grown kids, and has had characters and plots running around her head for as long as she can remember.

She lives with a patient husband who totally does not get her thing for gay men, two spoiled but wonderful sons (who don’t get it either), and two also spoiled but beautiful cats. Her days are filled with texts and phone calls with her daughter who has already left the nest, and an abundance of fabulous gay men, large and small, bouncing off the walls of her skull, competing for their turns to tell their stories.

You can find all of K-lee’s books on her website:
http://www.kleeklein.com
And K-lee herself at
http://chaosinthemoonlight.blogspot.ca

https://www.facebook.com/kleemoon


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THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED

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Anne Tenino, Riptide Publishing

Be A “Good Boy” (Or Girl) And Grab This Installment In The Theta Alpha Gamma Series



“The way to love anything is to realize that it may be lost.” – Gilbert K. Chesterton


Oh, it is always a treat to revisit one of your favorite couples in a series and Sebastian and Brad have to be one of my favorite couples in the M/M genre. In Frat Boy and Toppy, Brad and Sebastian overcame many obstacles to earn their HEA and I couldn’t wait to see how they are doing with it. We got a glimpse of them in Sweet Young Thang and it didn’t seem like all was well.
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Cornelia Grey, Riptide Publishing

The “Devil at the Crossroads” Won’t Steer You Wrong



“A man sees in the world what he carries in his heart.” ― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe



There is always a price to pay when a man covets, isn’t there? When he is offered the world, is given his dreams but with strings attached, then he hangs himself on those dreams in a noose of his own making.

Logan Hart, after all, is only human.
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Kia Zi Shiru, Smashwords

The Past Informs The Future In “Disturbed Fate”



“Sometimes things have to go very wrong before they can be right.” ― Samantha Freber


BLURB: Marc, a small pet shop owner and seer, needs help with his store, but his new employee, Galen, brings with him more trouble than expected. Marc tries to keep their relationship professional even if Galen seems insistent on taking it to the next level. And then there is the problem of Galen’s past.
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Geoffrey Knight, The Joyful Approach

Taking A Walk Down GayRomLit Memory Lane With Geoffrey Knight, And There’s A Wilde City Giveaway!


ONE TRIBE AGAIN
Geoffrey Knight



The French Quarter

The French Quarter




Something strange and wonderful happened at the first GRL in New Orleans in 2011.

It’s really quite difficult to describe, and at the time we all just let it fill us, silently and happily, and rolled with this strange feeling like a big old riverboat drifting down the Mississippi. Everything felt very familiar, but it wasn’t like déjà vu. We felt like we had all been together before, but it wasn’t like a past-life experience or anything like that. No, it was a simple sense of ‘oneness’. That we strangers from all over the United States—and all over the world—belonged together. We had a true passion, a burning love, for m/m fiction that bonded us so unexpectedly, and yet we barely discussed how incredibly comfortable we were in each other’s company. We didn’t need to. Why? Because we felt so safe with each other! Some of us were openly dedicated to gay romance in our normal lives; others held it as a precious secret that they could finally let out in front of other people without fear of being judged or ridiculed. We felt like a tribe that was always meant to belong together.

Many of us left New Orleans with brand new life-long friends, and in the year between New Orleans and the second GRL in Albuquerque in 2012 we often discussed this weird and wonderful experience of meeting a group of strangers who instantly become your best friends. After all, it’s not something that happens often in life. When you start a new job or go to a new school, friendship and trust takes a long time to build. But the oneness of our tribe at GRL was immediate. And very genuine. In Albuquerque the feeling was back, but bigger and stronger than ever!

Now, as we steam swiftly toward GRL 2013 in Atlanta, I know that this event will be more fun than ever before—four or so days filled with familiar, smiling faces and lots of new ones too. So while our new memories await us in Atlanta, I thought I’d write this post to revisit some of my favourite moments from the last two GRLs.

The Gentlemen’s Juke Joint Parties at New Orleans and Albuquerque!

Ethan Day, Jared Rackler, Kris Jacen, Barry Brennessel, Damon Suede and me

Ethan Day, Jared Rackler, Kris Jacen, Barry Brennessel, Damon Suede and me


Ah, there’s nothing quite like an opening night party to kickstart proceedings, and when those opening nights involve lots of fun, booze and hunks in G-strings (if not nothing at all), then bring it on! Over the last two GRLs, the man with the moves, Damon Suede, has rounded up the male authors of m/m fiction to host a helluva party, the first being at the landmark gay bar Lafayette In Exile in New Orleans (where the blurry night involved us all downing shots off the stomach of a hunky naked stripper laying spread-eagle on the pool table… yes, we’re all class, I know), and the second being a cowboy-themed night at the Albuquerque Hard Rock hotel (where Damon himself had a dance-off with strippers on stage). This year’s opening night will be sponsored by Stiff Rain Press, eXtasy Books and the publishing company that Ethan Day and I started this year, Wilde City Press. Get your party on with a night you won’t soon forget, hosted by male entertainer extraordinaire Charlie Harding!

Bourbon Street… Every Night!

Our very own Magic Mike, the cutest stripper in Oz

Our very own Magic Mike, the cutest stripper in Oz

Too many Hand Grenades on Bourbon Street had me seeing visions of the dead!

Too many Hand Grenades on Bourbon Street had me seeing visions of the dead!


















While I had been to the States many times before GRL 2011, I had never been to New Orleans and I couldn’t wait to experience the French Quarter. And while my hopes for a great time were high, I’m happy to report that New Orleans came to the party and exceeded those hopes in every way. Yes, Bourbon Street with all its chaos, colour and calamity—with its sugary cocktails and gay bars like Oz and Lafayette In Exile filled with bare cocks and tails—was like no other place I had ever been. Our nightly strolls up and down the street made my head spin with delight… or was it the Hand Grenades?

Discovering New Orleans

Said Book

Said Book

The Creepy LaLaurie Mansion

The Creepy LaLaurie Mansion


















Prior to GRL, Ethan Day and I had begun work on our first co-authored book To Catch A Fox. The story is set in New Orleans, and while its fun as an author to travel to places you’ve never been in your mind and put those imaginings down on paper, there’s nothing quite like visiting a city to really get a feel for it. I’m so glad we didn’t finish the book before GRL, because discovering New Orleans gave me so many new ideas to add to the plot. One was spotting the old Mardi Gras warehouse on the outskirts of town; a huge old storage building filled with Mardi Gras costumes from years gone by. The moment I saw it I knew I wanted to use it as a setting for a chase/fight scene. Another sensational discovery was the creepy old LaLaurie Mansion on Royal Street. On a very spooky ghost tour one night, we learned that the history of the house involved serial killing and torture, with slaves bricked inside a hidden room in the house. It was the inspiration for the ghoulish Mr. Graves in To Catch a Fox.

The Riverboat Book Signing

Ethan Day and Jambrea Jo Jones on the Riverboat

Ethan Day and Jambrea Jo Jones on the Riverboat

Me and Ethan at the Riverboat Book Signing

Me and Ethan at the Riverboat Book Signing














The Riverboat Book Signing was both a chance to meet all the authors and readers at GRL plus a relaxing cruise up the Mississippi River. It was my first time doing both things, and what an awesome experience it was! Perched between Ethan Day and Carol Lynne, with Jambrea Jo Jones at the table next to us, we chatted with fans and with each other while the paddle wheel of the riverboat thumped away and the sunny banks of the Mississippi drifted by. What a wonderful way to spend an afternoon!

A Visit to Roswell

Aliens messing with me in Roswell

Aliens messing with me in Roswell

The ET Gang... Mum, Tracy Ward, me, Poppy Dennison, Amy DiMartino and Helen Beattie... And some evil alien creature who photobombed the shot!

The ET Gang… Mum, Tracy Ward, me, Poppy Dennison, Amy DiMartino and Helen Beattie… And some evil alien creature who photobombed the shot!




















GRL is as much about the people you meet and the friends you make, as it is about books. This was something we all quickly discovered in New Orleans, so planning fun stuff to do together in New Mexico for GRL 2012 was totally on the cards. Being the total geek that I am, there was no way on earth I was going to New Mexico without a visit to Roswell. Thankfully I’m not the only geek among us, and when I mentioned the idea on Facebook I soon had a gang of geeks willing to trek across the desert to visit Roswell and it’s crazy UFO museums with me. And so it was that Tracy Ward, Poppy Dennison, Amy DiMartino, my mum (whom I took on the trip with me for her first ever visit to the States) and my bestie Helen Beattie all piled into Tracy’s rental car to go meet ET! It was one of the quirkiest, weirdest, most wonderful days of my life, I loved every minute of it!

The Day of the Dead Party

MLR's Day of the Dead Celebration Cake

MLR’s Day of the Dead Celebration Cake

One of the events organised for last year’s GRL was the Day of the Dead party hosted by MLR Press. The traditional Day of the Dead celebrations are designed to honour those who have died and celebrate their life and memory. This particular event had special meaning for Laura Baumbach and Kris Jacen from MLR, as well as the organisers of GRL, because a few months before GRL 2012, MLR author and GRL organiser William Neale passed away very unexpectedly. His sudden death affected us all greatly—even those who had never met Bill or those of us who had only briefly befriended him in New Orleans—for the tribe had lost one of its own. It was a wonderful and moving experience to celebrate Bill’s life together at MLR’s Day of the Dead party.

Elisa Rolle’s Guided Tour of Santa Fe

Sante Fe

Sante Fe

Is that a ghost in the old church?? Oh no wait, it’s just an apparition of Ethan.

Is that a ghost in the old church?? Oh no wait, it’s just an apparition of Ethan.

 Elisa Rolle in the traditional Kakawa Chocolate Shop


Elisa Rolle in the traditional Kakawa Chocolate Shop

On a day trip from Albuquerque to Santa Fe, it was decided that the very well-travelled Elisa Rolle (the only person smart enough to bring a guide book with her) would become our tour guide for the day. And so with hand held high to keep our little group together, Elisa led us on a wonderful day’s excursion of the old city, visiting churches, marketplaces and the town square. Elisa even managed to track down the well-hidden chocolate shop Kakawa Chocolate—makers of traditional Mexican chocolates filled with various spices and scents—which I wanted to visit as part of research for a new book I’m writing. Naturally, we all left with goodie bags filled with tasty treats!

My Skull Collection!

My GRL Skull Collection

My GRL Skull Collection

Lastly, I’ve unwittingly started my own GRL tradition that I will now continue forever! In New Orleans, I visited a Voodoo shop and found this gorgeous purple quartz crystal skull. It’s my most cherished souvenir from GRL 2011. Then in the old town of Albuquerque, I stumbled across this wonderful Day of the Dead skull decorated with fruits of the harvest. It’s my most cherished souvenir from GRL 2012. So, anybody know of a good little shop tucked away in a secret corner of Atlanta that sells skulls? :)

Of course, there are many many more moments I haven’t even touched on here, like the many unforgettable author readings, the fun and fabulous discussion panels, and of course meeting all the amazing, dedicated and passionate readers! Just writing this post has made me SO excited to get to Atlanta and re-live it all again. To all my old friends—and all the new ones I’m about to make—I can’t wait to see you all. Let’s make GRL 2013 the best one yet!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED

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Deanna Wadsworth, Decadent Publishing

The Headless Horseman Rides Again In “The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow”



“He would have passed a pleasant life of it, in despite of the Devil and all his works, if his path had not been crossed by a being that causes more perplexity to mortal man than ghosts, goblins, and the whole race of witches put together.” – Washington Irving


I remember reading The Legend of Sleepy Hollow when I was younger, but it wasn’t quite like this. I loved how the author took this classic and made it her own.

Ichabod Crane is a geeky schoolteacher trying to better his place in life by getting the hand of a the wealthy girl in town. He has no interest her, just the land and money he would gain. Now mind you, I wasn’t too happy with Ichabod wanting to marry someone only for their money and property. I felt he was shallow and self serving. But I guess you have to do what you have to do.
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A.J. Corza, GotYouCovrd

A.J. Corza’s Got You Covered – This Week’s Pick – “Blood Ties” – Cover Art By Carrie Spencer Of Cheeky Covers






I bet when you saw this week’s cover you said to yourself, as I did, I’ve seen that cover before, how cliché, how boring, it’s been done and redone. Guess again. I could have sworn I’d seen this before myself, maybe even multiple times. I even went so far as to use my Google Fu, which I’ve been told is sometimes magical in its findings, to do an image search based off the cover. I found NOTHING. I know, marvel. I mean sure I found lots of logo’s for sports places and businesses just ‘cause a clean black/red on a white background makes for a nice eye popping look, but no book covers. I found a ghost story named Blood Diamond that was similarish but that was it. Color me surprised and equally happy at the same time cause I really like this.

First off we need to give kudos to the author Lavinia Lewis for writing the book and uber-kudos to Carrie Spencer of Cheeky Covers for the cool cover art. And with that tip of our hat, we’re off.

Look at it closely; do you see what I see? That’s right! You can read it. Small, big, teeny tiny thumbnail size, you can read it. Plus, you can see its blood. So what does that tell you right off the bat? Well, you now know that this fic is about something on the darker side of the spectrum. Perhaps the paranormal realm, did someone say vampires?

Honestly, when I first saw this cover I was thinking murder mystery, but then I realized I’d forgotten what genre I’m actually reviewing for! (I blame my current forty millionth re-read of The Shining for this, damn you Stephen King!!! *Shakes a fist*) So I had to do something I never do beforehand, I read the blurb.

I was just discussing this with Lisa (the owner of TNA Reviews) just last week. She asked if I based my opinions off the blurbs or on the covers alone. Until today, I never thought to explain my process in choosing the covers but thought today’s as good as any to tell you what goes into my choosing.

First off, the lovely Lisa sends me a folder with 10 to 15 covers in it from the previous week’s book reviews. Usually thumbnails, which actually works out perfectly because I can see right off the bat what cover jumps off the page in the line of small pics. Sometimes it’s one or two, or even three that jump up and say, hey look at me, sometimes just the one. I then look up the author and find a larger cover. That’s usually when I find the one that stands out the best, because what can’t be seen at thumbnail size can be seen at a much larger size. That means imperfections, weird lighting choices, rough edges on the manips, etc.

Note to artists: ALWAYS, ALWAYS work at a large size so you can see these things, otherwise they’re entirely too easy to miss! Trust me, I’ve got some doozy covers that I’ll post up sometime so you can see the travesty of cover work I did about 8 years ago. Drink heavily beforehand is all I’m sayin’!
Continuing on, I look at the larger covers and really try to see what the artist is telling me without actually reading the blurb. Is the story within romantic? Is it fraught with angst? Is it suspenseful? What the frilly heck is going on that I haven’t read, and do I want to read it? After I’ve done that, I try to capture the little nuances, the small details, the man in the room all alone, the wrought iron fencing, the hands cupping the face, the diving board behind the main character. You know, all the stuff that you see but don’t really look at that your subconscious still records for you, and slowly percolates over without your even noticing. After ALL that, I read the blurb.

Usually you can pretty much guess from a cover what the tone of emotion is going to be, even what the very general gist of the story may be, that is if the cover is done well. Sometimes this takes multiple pics with lots of color and flash, and sometimes it’s just simplicity that sells it, even if you have no clue what type of story resides within the covers. I mean, honestly, look at the Twilight books or *shudders* the Shades of Grey Series, their covers are phenomenal. Visually striking, elegant, romantic, in short good enough I would sell my soul, or at least my favorite set of drawing pens for just a smidge of the sales that those covers have managed to garner. The cover of the week, Blood Ties? Simple, elegant, visually striking. Carrie Spencer gets it. That’s the point I’m trying to make here.

Go check out her site and you’ll see that Carrie actually has a slew of awesome pre-made covers that you can look through and purchase but she also does custom orders. I’m not sure if Blood Ties was custom or not, but considering the preciseness of the representation, I’m willing to bet it was.

Really, she’s pretty awesome and does a full range of artwork for covers that encompass every genre it seems, and they’re unique from one another! This is a huge bonus in my humble opinion, and tough to find in the book cover arena. Hell, it’s so bad that they even have websites dedicated to books that have used the same exact stock photos. Don’t let that make you feel too bad, artists, they have sites like this for movie posters also. And yes, I did scour these sites and I was happy to say none of my meager offerings showed up on these sites, thankfully. *wipes brow*

Blood Ties is really the best of the best in visual presentation, in my opinion. It’s just so clean and tight that it will fit into virtually any type of banner/thumbnail/picture you choose without any problem. And that’s what we like to see. Especially with all the printing companies out there, it’s hard enough sometimes just to get the postcard sizes to print correctly that are sent out in complimentary packets from your publishers. You’re in good company, though, authors. With the resulting frustration at said sites, we artists feel your pain and wish/pray/build alters to the Gods asking for more universal sizing templates, but alas it is not to be.

So in closing, I’m just gonna lay it out there, Blood Ties written by Lavinia Lewis and cover artwork by Carrie Spencer of Cheeky Covers, gets not only a sigh of relief and happiness for a thoroughly uncomplicated but oh-so-teasing cover, but also an oo and ahh for elegance and taste.
Really fabulous job Carrie, keep up the good work!

Have a great day and may the good books be with you!

A.J. – GotYouCovered



All thoughts and comments are the reviewers only and not the viewpoints of others. If I’ve made you angry, stepped on any toes, or otherwise ruffled any feathers, I do apologize. This is just for fun, and written in the hopes that it will help fledgling book authors and artists to grow and learn.

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Eden Winters, Rocky Ridge Books

In Which A Little “Corruption” Is A Very Good Thing


Love makes you learn where all the pitfalls are, and how to avoid them, or how to set them off.” ― Laurell K. Hamilton



In Corruption, the third book in Eden Winter’s Diversion series, we once again get to spend some quality time with Bo and Lucky. If you have read the first two books in the series, then you know these two men have had a rough road both personally and professionally. It has seemed in the past that they drew strength from one another, but it seems that as much as their differences pull them together, they could end up pushing them apart.

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Eden Winters, The Joyful Approach

Welcome To A Little “Diversion”, A bit of “Collusion”, A Healthy Dose Of “Corruption”, And A Great Eden Winters Giveaway!!



EdenWinterMAgnoliaLogo2The Diversion series stars a drug trafficker (Richmond “Lucky” Lucklighter aka Simon Harrison) and a former Marine turned pharmacist and pharmaceutical drug addict (Bo Schollenberger). Both men are offered a chance at redemption, working for the Southeastern Narcotics Bureau’s Department of Diversion Prevention and Control. These guys focus on the white collar crime of diverting legal prescription drugs for illicit use. Where once they found themselves on the wrong side of the law, they’re now champions for the right. And in the process, they just might find redemption in each other too.


Diversion:

Drug dealers aren’t always on the streets; sometimes they sit in offices and board rooms, selling merchandise in official looking bottles instead of little cellophane bags.

When given a choice between eight more years in prison or using his “expertise” to assist the Southeastern Narcotics Bureau’s Department of Diversion Prevention and Control, convicted drug trafficker Richmond “Lucky” Lucklighter takes the sentence with the illusion of freedom. Cynical and unwilling to admit he’s begun to care about his job, he counts the days until his debt is paid. His sole obstacle to getting his life back is the rookie he’s assigned to train before he leaves; a rookie who quotes pharmacy texts, hasn’t paid his dues, and has the obnoxious tendency of seeing the good in everyone – including the target of their investigation.

Former Marine Bo Schollenberger dreamed of becoming a pharmacist and watched the dream turn into a nightmare of PTSD-fueled prescription drug abuse. Battling his demons daily, he wakes up every morning, wondering, “Will this be the day I give in?” To keep his license, he must now put his skills to use for a diversion control task force, deal with a crude partner with too much attitude and no brain-to-mouth filter, and take down a drug lord who reminds him of his favorite cooking show hostess.

Collusion:

Dead men can’t love.

Former drug trafficker Richmond “Lucky” Lucklighter “died” in the line of duty while working off a ten-year sentence in service to the Southeastern Narcotics Bureau, only to be reborn as Simon “Lucky” Harrison. The newbie he trained, former Marine Bo Schollenberger, is now his partner on (and maybe off) the job. It’s hard to tell when Lucky doesn’t understand relationships or have a clue what any sane human is doing in his bed. Bo’s nice to have around, sure, but there’s none of that picking-out-china-together crap for Lucky.

While fighting PTSD, memories of a horrid childhood, and a prescription drug addiction, Bo is paying for his mistakes. Using his pharmacy license for the good guys provides the sort of education he never got in school. Undercover with his hard-headed partner, Bo learns that not everything is as it seems in the world of pharmaceuticals.

When a prescription drug shortage jeopardizes the patients at Rosario Children’s Cancer Center, it not only pits Bo and Lucky against predatory opportunists, but also each other. How can they tell who the villains are? The bad guys don’t wear black hats, but they might wear white coats.

And don’t miss the upcoming Corruption, due out Fall 2013 (tentative blurb):

To save your life, could you live someone else’s?

Former drug trafficker turned narcotics agent Simon “Lucky” Harrison is the best, always has been, always will be. The Southeastern Narcotics Bureau puts his beliefs to the test with inner-division cooperation, new policies, new personnel, and a tough new case involving a designer drug that turns mild mannered people into violent criminals. When the call comes for undercover work, Lucky’s raring to go—and never expects to get passed over for a rookie.

Having a partner like Lucky, both on and off the job, isn’t easy, but Bo Schollenberger sees the man behind the arrogant façade. But now he must to step out of his mentor’s shadow and stand on his own. He didn’t know the time would come so soon, or that his first big case without Lucky would require months away from home. One false move could end his life as he immerses himself into an Athens, Georgia motorcycle gang to stop a smuggling ring.

The case gets sticky and Lucky charges in. He has no clue what to expect, but it isn’t finding his lover totally enmeshed in being someone else. Lucky knows the difference between Cyrus Cooper, outlaw biker, and Bo Schollenberger, mild-mannered SNB agent, but does Bo?


Corruption: Sequel to bestselling novels Diversion and Collusion.

Renegade biker. Drug runner. Recovering addict. Wanted by the Southeastern Narcotics Bureau. But he isn’t a crook, he’s the law.

SNB Agent Bo Schollenberger’s solved his cases using his brains and not a gun, and with his partner, not alone. Now he’s handed a tough new case involving designer drugs that turn users violent. One false move could end his life as he immerses himself into a motorcycle gang to locate the source. His fate depends on how well he can impersonate someone else. Someone named Cyrus Cooper.

Cyrus is everything Bo Schollenberger isn’t, including the badass enforcer for a smuggling ring. He establishes pecking order with his fists and doesn’t take shit from anybody, not even the undercover agent who comes to help his case.

Simon “Lucky” Harrison’s always been the best, whichever side of the law he was on. Former trafficker turned SNB agent, he damned well ought to be undercover in this motorcycle gang, instead of hanging around the office going crazy with new policies, new people, and “inter-departmental cooperation” that sticks him in a classroom. Yet he’s passed over for the SNB’s biggest case in decades in favor of the rookie who shares his bed. A man Lucky thought he knew.

When survival depends on a web of tangled lies, lines blur, worlds collide, and a high stakes game turns friend to foe. Lucky knows the difference between Bo the agent and Cyrus the outlaw, but does Bo?

Deleted scene from the upcoming book, Corruption

What the fuck did I ever do to deserve this? One hard case doesn’t mean I got go back to lightweight duty, even if every time I close my eyes I see that woman’s eyes. What the hell had she seen to scare her so badly, and left a formerly law-abiding citizen facing assault charges? Thank God she’d only hit his shoulder instead of a warm body or she’d be facing murder charges too.

The sixteen passenger van jostled Lucky against the man sitting to his left, who grinned, showing yellowed teeth. “Rub all you want,” tall, dark and unwashed said, placing a hand on Lucky’s knee. “I don’t mind at all”.

A foul mix of stale cigarettes and sour booze wafted from the cretin’s mouth, wrinkling Lucky’s nose and driving back evil visions. Relieving the man of the need to brush his front teeth by removing them with a fist was definitely an option. Not one the boss would approve, but definitely a possibility. It would also blow his cover as a mindless sheep and set back three months of casework. Maybe not an option after all. A return to assholery loomed in the future, the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.

Lucky grasped the offending hand and peeled it off his leg, finger by finger, while biting back the words, Try that again and you’ll be known as “Lefty.”

Leaves of red, gold, and yellow clung to the branches of mostly nude trees outside the van’s window, a far sight prettier than Mr. Toxic Breath. Grinding gears pushed the mindless chatter of fellow passengers into the background. The last of the afternoon’s rays kissed Lucky’s cheek with warmth, though outside the temperatures fell into the zone his mother used to call, “Sweater weather.” The tobacco harvest would be over back home, along with apple picking season. Mason jars of canned Granny Smiths probably lined the pantry shelves of his parents’ old farmhouse, waiting to be turned into pies or apple crumble. Hmmm… Apple pie. With cinnamon and oatmeal on top. And a side of home churned vanilla ice cream—made with fresh cream, courtesy of Old Betsy, or Bessie, or whatever name Mom hung on the latest in a long string of milk cows. Mom. Home. Gone forever.

An icy pit formed in Lucky’s stomach that tightening his jacket didn’t drive away. Francine Lucklighter wasn’t “Mom” anymore; she’d stopped calling Lucky “Son” ten years ago.

The van pulled to a stop behind a familiar brick building before the overly ambitious grabby fucker sitting next to him could try again, a clinic Lucky’d visited regularly over the past three weeks. From the crowded van Lucky trudged with ten other drudges to a tiny office ill equipped to handle so many at once. No patients sat in the waiting room, and a chair by itself at the far end offered a bit of protection against mingling and attempts at mindless chatter. Lucky’s ass hit faded upholstery a moment before the moron from the van dragged over a stool. “What ‘cha doing later?” the loser asked, plopping his pungent ass down way too close for Lucky’s comfort.

Anything but you. Lucky’s barely restrained comeback died on his tongue as a nurse emerged from a door to call out, “Zimmerman? Stoddard? Yancy?” Head of the class today, and just in time to leave the guy with too much ambition and a skewed sense of self-worth behind. The nurse bypassed the scale and the area set up to collect blood samples and pressure, her pink-smocked back serving as a guide to a cubbyhole marked, “Exam Room A.” “The doctor will be with you in a moment,” the woman said, beating a hasty retreat as though she sensed the trouble she’d just ushered in.

Somewhere a family might be waiting for her. She probably needed this job and had no idea she worked for a shady son of a bitch who wrote pain pills prescriptions with a far too easy hand. Tomorrow her reality would be filled with investigators and a subpoena. A few short months ago twinges of guilt never would never have crossed his mind. I’m getting soft.

A balding, fifty-ish man in a lab coat stepped through the door. He didn’t examine Lucky, didn’t speak, and, in fact, never regarded Lucky long enough to pick him out of a lineup should there be reason to later. The man whose name graced several degrees—proudly displayed in frames on the wall—merely handed Lucky a stack of prescriptions.

The crumpled scripts tightly fisted in Lucky’s hand scratched his sweaty palm as he made his way out to the waiting room. The two men who’d gone back to the exam rooms with him emerged and the nurse called three more names. All returned in less than fifteen minutes, to be replaced by the remaining four. The surly van driver stood by the front door, ensuring no one left.

Less than an hour after arriving, Lucky and his fellow “will ache for money” patients clambered back into the van for the short trip to a mom and pop type pharmacy. A rusty awning and fading linoleum spoke of more prosperous times when the tiny apothecary most likely faced little competition in the area. Now, the aging building stood alone, a relic of an earlier era, and poor cousin to the four brand-new chain stores the van passed en route. Lucky took his place in line at the counter, handing over the papers the doctor had given him. A pharmacy tech took a brief look before handing the slips over to another tech. “Medicaid?” the woman, scarcely more than a girl, asked, extending a hand for his ID.

Lucky handed over his fake documentation. From his vantage point at the counter he perused the pharmacy area, mentally cataloguing row upon row of bottles and boxes. Nothing much to look at until he noticed a white-jacketed man busy counting out pills. Chestnut hair barely touched the man’s collar in the back, and when he glanced up, deep chocolate eyes bored into Lucky’s, bringing to mind someone else. Lucky’s heart skipped a beat. He snapped his mouth closed. Crow’s feet gathered where smooth skin should be, and a shiny gold band spoke of marriage. A too-long nose and absence of freckles further broke apart Lucky’s momentary bout of mistaken identity. Not Bo. Just a guy in a pharmacist jacket with dark hair and dark eyes. Damn. What did it mean to be seeing Bo everywhere, even when not there?

Under the guise of asking the pharmacy tech an inane question about dosages, Lucky checked out the pharmacist’s backside. Yup, Bo had him beat in that department too. The reminder of the one who shared Lucky’s bed met the height requirement, easily topping six feet. Only, he didn’t make Lucky want to climb him like a tree.

“Where’s my oak when I need him,” Lucky mumbled under his breath.

“Sir?” the tech asked.

“Nothing.” While Lucky waited. How’d he love to see his pharmacist soon, maybe go a few rounds. Ah, to run his fingers through that lush mass of perfectly styled hair, turning it into a sexy, freshly-fucked- looking mess. Or see those dark tresses fanned out on a pillowcase while he…

Lucky made a discreet dick shift and stepped to the far end of the counter to wait for the little white bag filled with enough pain killers to keep him numb for a month or more.

“Get him!” someone shouted.

A flash of dark blue shot past, a kid in a hoodie snatching a bag from a tech’s hand. “Outta my way, Grandma!” The guy shoved a lady to the side, his tennis shoes pounding on tile toward the door.

Lucky jumped out of the way of the hulking gorilla of a van driver. The man pile-drove the kid into a rack of sunglasses. “Help!” the kid cried, twisting like an eel in the man’s grasp, sending Ray-Bans flying. Lucky averted his gaze. Not his business if a victim tried to victimize the buzzards. Only, if the enterprising youngster did break free, it’d only mean a loose end—and more paperwork. Paperwork. Brrr. After a moment spent staring at the offender, those milling around the pharmacy went about their business. It wouldn’t be the first time someone of their crew attempted a rip off.

“Zimmerman?” the tech he’d spoken to earlier called. A trip to the counter and one scribbled signature later made Lucky the proud owner of a bag full of mind and pain numbing goodies. Under the watchful eyes of the van driver, and reproachful gaze of the apprehended kid, he waited until the last of their group clutched a white pharmacy bag to shuffle back out the door.

“Wanna come over later?” the ugliest man to hit on Lucky in ten years asked.

I must be losing my touch if that troll expects a yes. Lucky flashed an insincere grin. “Sorry, fella, but I’ve got other plans.”

Pudgy cheeks drooped, the man’s shoulders following suit. Not Lucky’s problem. Besides, though he didn’t know it yet, the overly optimistic suitor would also have his hands full in about—Lucky glanced his watch—oh, thirty minutes, give or take. He rubbed a thumbnail over the cheap watch he’d bought to replace the ancient Timex he’d left up in the woods when a couple of felons grew a conscience and ditched him in the wild rather than disposing of him in a more permanent manner. Big mistake. The felons now sat in jail, while the watch probably added a touch of shiny to a raccoon’s treasure trove.

As he stepped from the pharmacy out into the rapidly chilling evening, Lucky adjusted the innocent looking medallion around his neck, liberating it from the audio-muffling effects of his shirt collar, and climbed back into the van. There, by the driver’s visor, was a new camera that hadn’t been there the last time Lucky visited Dr. Have a Pill. Some IT geeks must be pushing for a raise.

The driver took them away from the drug store and to a nearly empty back-street parking lot. A late model Cadillac waited. The faint orange glow of the setting sun glimmered from behind the nearest building, casting shadows across cracked asphalt.

The closer they came to the Cadillac, the faster Lucky’s heart pounded. Show time! Lucky held his breath as the seconds ticked by. The culmination of weeks’ worth of careful preparation was coming to a head. Still, one false move might blow meticulous plans to shit. Slow inhales and exhales steadied his breathing as he clenched and unclenched his fists.

Glancing at his comrades in felony, he sized up his opponents. The felonious kid would benefit from the surprise ending to his day—it might just prolong a life currently on a crash course with an overdose, and the loser with too much ambition needed to get a real job. Lucky had no idea why the others in the van resorted to law-breaking to enhance their incomes, but his job didn’t include being judge and jury—only ensuring these folks kept their as yet unknown appointments with legal types.

Lucky squirmed on a cracked plastic seat, fighting the urge to bounce a leg, and divided his attention between the Caddy, his fellow passengers, and the roads leading in. The van came to the full stop and a man stepped out of the waiting car. From a distance he spotted two black SUVs turning down the street, slowly making their way toward the parking lot. Had to be newbies. Could they be any more fucking obvious? He shifted in his seat again, muscles bunching to spring the moment the door opened.

Cadillac man climbed into the van, holding a leather bank deposit bag. “When I call your name, come forward, please.”

Politeness? From a soon-to-be-con? What a waste of breath.

“Aaron? Barber?” the man called. Alphabetic order. Lucky sank back into the seat. Whoever made his fake IDs and gave him a name destined to make him wait, owed him, big time.

One by one Lucky’s co-conspirators stepped forward, relinquishing their bags of legal goodies in exchange for one hundred dollars, a mere pittance of the street market for the drugs they turned over. The van driver examined the contents, comparing the bottles inside the bags with the list on the outside before letting anyone off the van. As predicted, Lucky handed his bag over last.

“Here you go,” Lucky said, adding, “though I hate to give up good oxycodone. I could have myself one hell of a party with this.” He winked at the man handing out cash.

The man glared, counting twenties into Lucky’s hand but not responding. No problem, the camera caught every detail, even without audio. Lucky chanced a glance out the window, spotting the two SUVs he’d seen earlier parked beside a building across the street. A muscle jumped in his cheek, and he damped down the beginnings of a smile. Sometimes he couldn’t help himself, but he’d never in a million years confess to anyone how much he loved his job.

“Until next time.” He hopped out of the van and aimed across the parking lot toward the bus stop, where most of the other van passengers huddled together.

Five, four, three… Nothing happened on the count of one. Okay. One more time. Five, four, three…Still nothing. Slow bastards. Hesitation blew cases. Five, four, three, two… The Cadillac rolled forward. Twin screeches split the quiet, from twin Dodge Chargers, sliding into position front and back, cutting off the Cadillac’s escape. The sleek sedans beat the hell out of the old Crown Victorias the department used to pursue Lucky in, back in the days when he’d been up to no good. Slam, slam, slam… Uniformed officers erupted from the vehicles, surrounding the Caddy.

Before the frightened sheep could react, the two SUVs barreled toward the bus stop. The vehicles screeched to a standstill. Men in blue piled out. Gotta get out of here, now! Lucky’s tennis shoes smacked the asphalt in a perfect one, two cadence, followed close behind the enterprising kid from the drug store. Heart and legs pumping in rhythm, Lucky whipped around a building and down a deserted alleyway. In the gathering gloom of an early November evening, he stopped, recently broken foot choosing then to remind him of an unfortunate spill out of a factory window last summer. His doctor wouldn’t be thrilled about the running, and in another lifetime he’d have found a way to save some of those high powered painkillers from the pharmacy bag for himself.

“Think we lost them?” the kid asked.

“Dunno,” Lucky replied, peering through the shadows to the end of the alley. “Looks like we might have.”

The kids blew out a relieved-sounding sigh. Lucky caught a flash of blue out of the corner of his eyes at the far end of the alley. “You go on,” he said, holding his side and pouring drama into a winded gasp. “I can’t run no more.”

Stained teeth flashed against a freckled face, and the guy pushed back a mop of lank hair. “Hold ‘em off then, old-timer. I’m outta here.”

Smug bastard. Rough brick abraded Lucky’s jacket as he leaned against the wall. Little shit deserved what he had coming. A few minutes later, from the end of the alley, the distinct snick of handcuffs broke the quiet, followed by, “You have the right to remain silent.”

And another one bites the dust. Lucky limped off into the proverbial sunset, slipped his cell out of his pocket, and hit speed dial for his boss. The phone rang once before connecting. Lucky spoke two short words, “It’s done.”


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About the author:

All Eden Winters requires to spin a yarn is two hot men and a happy ever after. A spectral Highlander haunting a Scottish castle while awaiting his lover’s rebirth? Why not? A time-traveling pirate? You betcha! A pack of ravenous… possum shifters? (Crickets beware!) Yeah, that’s how Eden’s mind works. She’s the author of such Rainbow Awards recognized novels as The Wish, The Angel of Thirteenth Street, Duet, Diversion, and the Lambda Literary Awards nominated Settling the Score.

Currently, Eden calls the southern US home, and many of her stories take place in the rural South (yes, her possum shifters speak with a Southern accent). She divides her time between a day job, friends, grandkids, writing, trying different varieties of vegetarian cuisine, and exploring her world. Her musical tastes run from Ambient to Zydeco, she owns a TV she never watches, and she’s a firm believer that life is better with pets. She also loves cruising down the road on the back of a Harley Davidson.

Visit Eden’s website at http://www.edenwinters.com. Contact her at edenwinters@gmail.com

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THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED

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