Amber Kell, The Joyful Approach

Amber Kell Doesn’t Bite…Hard. No, Really! And She Wants To Give Away An Awesome Prize!


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Hello future GRL attendees! I have to admit GRL was the first conference I attended as a professional writer. I went to the GRL in New Orleans, which was a blast as it gave me an excuse to visit a city with my hubby without kids. (Shh, they don’t know what a great time we had.)

You’ll probably have a different routine than I do when you get ready for events. Mine usually starts with a panic attack that GRL is a few weeks away and I haven’t ordered my swag yet. I then inform my children I am heartlessly abandoning them to their grandmother. Older son promptly plans his exit strategy, calling in favors from his friends who owe him sleepovers. Younger son starts hopping in excitement, or because he has to pee, he likes to hop so it’s kind of hard to determine why sometimes. Hubby confirms that I did indeed get plane tickets and hotel reservations and it wasn’t a dream I had in a caffeine-fueled bout of creativity. Eventually I show up with swag, hubby and clothing (which isn’t optional even at GRL).

This is the third year I’m attending GRL. If you’ve never attended GayRomLit before I’ll give you one piece of advice. Talk to people, especially your favorite authors. We wouldn’t have shown up if we didn’t want to see our fans. If we appear standoffish it could be because we don’t handle social situations well. Some authors aren’t comfortable in crowds, so you’ll find them hanging out in a quiet corner. Go say hi. Introduce yourself. Ask them about their latest project. Some authors don’t like to talk about themselves, but get them started on what their favorite character is up to and…well you might need a chair and a big drink before they’re finished.

I have to admit I’m not a social animal. Give me a rainy day and my laptop, and I can happily spend hours tapping away on my keyboard. Hubby says it’s good to get out. Something about me turning into a hermit or…I don’t know, I sort of stopped listening the third time I heard the speech. I go to GRL to meet with my author friends who I don’t get to see in person often, and to visit with my fans who I see even less.

This year in Atlanta I’m once again dragging my hapless hubby along, if nothing else because it’s fun to watch him blush. Though I have to admit the game he picked out for my author spotlight with Stephani Hecht and RJ Scott had me blushing. Say hi to him. He’ll be the one with the cane, pointing people toward me so I can’t escape socializing.

Most of all have fun. We’re a friendly bunch. Most of us don’t bite and are happy to chat with anyone who wanders our way.

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bondedbroken_800My latest release is Bonded Broken part of the Thresl Chronicles series.

Book Four in the The Thresl Chronicles series.

Friln had always counted on his lover to be there when things go wrong. But when one brief moment of death breaks his bond with his Thresl mate, he loses the only thing in the world he needs to make him happy.
For the past ten years Friln, the king’s Captain of the Guard, has lived with and loved his Thresl mate Nelrin. When an assassination attempt catches Friln in the crossfire, he is killed. In the brief moment before he’s revived, the bond to his lover is shattered.

At Friln’s death Nelrin loses everything. Bereft of the only person he’s ever loved, Nelrin turns back into his cat form and runs away. Unfortunately he falls into the hands of a pair of scientists who have different plans than redemption for the Thresl race.

Readers can contact me at amberkellwrites@gmail.com or visit my blog at http://www.amberkell.com

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Deanna Wadsworth, The Joyful Approach

Deanna Wadsworth Is LOOKING FORWARD TO GRL 2013 With A Giveaway!


I am very excited to be on The Novel Approach today! Thank you for having me!

With GRL less than a week and a half away, I cannot tell you how happy I am to be going. Last year was the first time I attended the event, in Albuquerque New Mexico, and it was the highlight of my autumn. This year I am excited because I have print books to sign at the Saturday Book Fair! Yay! EASY RYDER is not my first book. I have many other titles, including my popular THE NAUGHTY NORTH POLE series, where Santa’s elves have candy flavored come! LOL

Oh yeah, I’m getting well known for that!

EASY RYDER was a special story for me because it showcased a different style of my writing. My 1Night Stand books are sexy contemporaries with sweet endings, and my Christmas books are erotic comedies, much like my erotic fairy tales. So it was exciting for me to be able to fully develop two characters over a longer number of pages. With a dozen books for readers to enjoy, I plan to bring lots of goodies for everyone at GRL. So make sure you come find me because my favorite part about attending GRL is the camaraderie of being surrounded by friends.

I kept telling everyone it was like my Facebook came to life!

I met a lot of new people, and finally got to meet some people that I was already friends with online. Wednesday I will be teaching a class with Brita Addams at the RRW workshop helping writers overcome the dreaded passive voice, and I am going to be helping with the big Scrapbooking event during the Fun Faire on Friday so I should be easy to find. I adore being surrounded by my fellow authors and readers and can’t wait for all the fun!

What about you?

What are you looking forward to in Atlanta?

I would love to hear from you! One lucky commentor will win an e-book copy of my book ACCIDENTALLY BEAUTIFUL, the second in the three-part series of my 1Night Stand books from Decadent Publishing.

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Blurb:

Martin Baird is perfectly content in his safe, predictable job as head concierge for Castillo Resorts, but when a handsome stranger whisks him away for a night of tropical escapades—first visiting an isolated gay bar then to a secluded beach where erotic delights await—Martin’s world is thrown upside down. He’s never met a man like Garret Fisher, but it seems he has been waiting for a night like this all his life.

Could something truly beautiful come out of this accidental meeting? Or was it really not an accident at all?

Author Bio:

Deanna Wadsworth might be a bestselling erotica author, but she leads a pretty vanilla life in Ohio with her wonderful husband and a couple adorable cocker spaniels. She has been spinning tales and penning stories since childhood, and her first erotic novella was published in 2010. When she isn’t writing books or brainstorming with friends, you can find her making people gorgeous in a beauty salon. She loves music and dancing, and can often be seen hanging out on the sandbar in the muddy Maumee River or chilling with her hubby and a cocktail in their basement bar. In between all that fun, Deanna cherishes the quiet times when she can let her wildly active imagination have the full run of her mind. Her fascination with people and the interworkings of their relationships have always inspired her to write romance with spice and love without boundaries.

Like Deanna on Facebook and find her online here: Twitter, Blog, Goodreads

Buy Deanna’s books at Dreamspinner Press, Decadent Publishing or at any reputable eBook seller

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Erica Pike, The Joyful Approach

How About A Little Erica Pike? How About A Little Erica Pike And A Giveaway?



Erica PikeGreetings GRL-goers!

Is this your first GayRomLit? Are you munching on your fingernails, going over every detail the organizers have disclosed, and picturing yourself standing alone in a corner once you’re there? Or have you gone before? Did you realize that the fingernail-gnawing was a total waste of good nails; the plans didn’t really matter as you just went with the flow of people, events and your own mood at any given moment; and that you barely had time to stand alone in a corner? In fact, you were barely allowed to stand in a corner, because people you’ve chatted with online somehow managed to find you and you hit it off like you never did with other people in your life? Did you find it pleasantly odd how much you had in common, how freely you could discuss the function of a penis without anyone batting an eye, and how you suddenly found yourself up on stage singing karaoke after a couple of drinks?

Last year was my first GRL. To sum up the experience into one sentence it would have to be: I had a blast. I had such a blast that I decided to go again this year, even if it meant another long, expensive trip from Iceland and a way to figure out how to get from Washington to Atlanta. I’m doing it anyway, because I know it’ll be worth it.

I was extremely nervous about last year. Like many of you, I’m a shy, reserved person. My cousin and best friend, Thora, came with me. It felt good knowing I wasn’t going to be alone the whole time. I wouldn’t have to stand in a corner and my nails would make it through intact. However, upon arrival, I was approached by one person after another. I was meeting them for the first time, but it was like greeting old friends. My inhibitions fell away and suddenly I was talking to everyone, introducing myself, and generally mingling with the crowd. I may not have taken part in the karaoke, but I did dance up on a stage with a cowboy-stripper (man, he was hot!), dress up in a costume, join Edmond Manning’s impromptu party in one of the conference rooms, and walk around with a basket of Icelandic chocolates to offer people. I rarely saw people on their own. If I did, I talked to them, like so many others did, out of pure joy of being around like-minded people who shared my love of gay romances.

I’m bringing my cousin again this year. I know I won’t need her there, but I managed to twist her arm because I want her there. It didn’t take a lot of twisting; she also had a blast. She had no idea who any of the authors were before last trip. Now she’s hooked on M/M, has read tons of titles, and is all amped to go. Me? Last year was like a whirlwind of new experiences and I have since wished I’d done this or that. Well, I’m putting more emphasis on “this or that” this year and hope to get to talk to people I didn’t manage to sit down with (I only realized Cole was there on the last day!).

So, if you’re new, relax! If you’ve been before, you know it’ll be a blast.

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Black Hurricane OfficialBlack Hurricane (Boston Boys #3)

Twenty-three year old Jasper Jones fell in love with Dean McQueen at fourteen, but after a disastrous relationship, Jazz would like nothing better than to see the rock star choke on his own vomit.

After a catastrophic reunion, Dean seems bent on destroying Jazz’s life. It all started when an impromptu bar performance ended up on YouTube and Jazz became an internet sensation overnight. The name “Jazdean” keeps popping up in headlines and the paparazzi stalk his every move. To make matters worse, Jazz is about to end up on the streets for the second time in his life.

In a desperate attempt to keep his home, Jazz signs a deal with Dean’s band, Black Hurricane, to perform at a couple of concerts. It feels like one of Dean’s feeble attempts to get Jazz back, but painted into a corner like he is, Jazz has no choice.

Erica Pike online:

Webpage/Blog
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Goodreads Group

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Taylor V. Donovan, The Joyful Approach

Be Forewarned – Taylor V. Donovan Wants To Give You “Heatstroke”!




Is It October Seventeenth Yet?

When GRL kicked off in October 2011 I was still learning my way around MM Romancelandia. I’d been reading gay romance almost exclusively for a few years already, and Six Degrees of Lust was under contract, but it wasn’t until April 2011 that I joined Goodreads. That’s when I really became a part of a specific genre reading community, and it was great. I was able to talk to others about the books I enjoyed for the first time, and I didn’t feel like such an oddball anymore. Needless to say, I was beyond excited when I found out there was an actual conference I could attend.

New Orleans is an amazing city. I’d visited it several times in the past, and always thought there’s something mysterious about it. Mythical… magical… That sense multiplied tenfold by the enthusiasm shared by the Gay Rom Lit attendees. Now, I know I’ll sound redundant but what the heck, I’ll say it anyway. The vibe was like magic in the air.

We all believed love comes in different shapes and forms. We all supported the right of our brothers, cousins, friends, and strangers to be out and proud with the man they love. And we all absolutely adored reading stories that convey hope.

Heatstroke_PrintCoverAt the time of GRL 2011 I only had one short story published. Heatstroke was inspired by a picture and a prompt, and what do you know, readers loved it. But promoting my work was the last thing on my mind. I wanted to hang out and have fun. I wanted to spend time with the friends I’d met online and meet more. And that’s exactly what I did.

GRL 2012 was slightly different. By that time I had a few published titles and decided to register as an author. But even though my badge identified me as such, and I participated in and/or hosted a couple of events my main goal remained the same: have fun and hang out with my friends.

This will be my third year attending Gay Rom Lit. It’s become a tradition. October is the time of the year when I get to see my author colleagues, my rocks and partners in crime, and all the readers I’m lucky enough to count as friends. I don’t believe GRL will ever be a promotional event for me. Yes, I’ll bring books and swag, but the one thing I’m really looking forward to is seeing you all.
I’ve come a long way in the past two years. I’ve published more titles and grown as an author, but Heatstroke will always have a special place in my heart. It wasn’t the first story I sold, but it was my first published work, and I can’t tell you how much your support and praise words for it meant to me.

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About Taylor: Taylor V. Donovan is a compulsive reader and author of m/m romantic suspense. She is optimistically cynical about the world; lover of history, museums and all things 80s. She is crazy about fashion, passionate about civil rights and equality for all and shamelessly indulges in mind-numbing reality television.

When she is not making a living in the busiest city in the world or telling the stories of gorgeous men hot for one another, Taylor can be found raising her two daughters and her fur baby in the mountains she calls home.

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Carter Quinn, The Joyful Approach

Carter Quinn Is In The House, And He’s Giving Away Great Prizes!



After a year of anticipation, GRL is only a few days away and, of course, I’m not ready. Hey, I said anticipation, not that p-word everyone tries to get me to do. Puh-pla-planning. Ugh. Just typing the word makes me shudder. I swear my tombstone should read “Here lies Carter Quinn who has Plenty of Time.”

It’s what I always say. “Pshaw. There’s plenty of time.” There never is, not really. But I was born late, run on Gay Standard Time (at least 5 minutes later than the official time), and will probably die late. It’s not like I don’t try, but my inborn procrastination gene seems to rule my life. If you really know me, you expect it.

So GRL. I can’t wait. This will be my first time attending as an author. My first novel, The Way Back, was published too late for me to register as an author last year, so I was able to attend, without pressure or expectation, as a reader. It was wonderful. I met so many great people, some of whom are now friends for life. I can’t wait to do it all over again.

I owe an enormous thank you to all who have bought, read, rated and/or reviewed my two novels and two free reads. You’ve alternately swelled my heart and bashed in my head (and that’s okay!). So I look to GRL this year with a spirit of celebration. To that end, I’m announcing here first that I will be giving away a Kindle Fire HD at the end of the Supporting Authors signing event (Thursday 9am-11am), so look for me and come register.

For those of you unable to attend, I’ll post on my Facebook page (facebook.com/CarterQuinn) Friday. One random commenter will win a Kindle Paperwhite.

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See you all in Atlanta!

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Out of the Blackness

A childhood of abuse has left Avery so physically and emotionally scarred he believes he shouldn’t be alive. His only sanctuary has been his relationship with his older foster brother Sam. Avery finally lets Sam convince him to start therapy to help overcome his crippling anxiety, but even that can’t prepare him for the upheaval caused by meeting Noah Yates.

Noah is everything Avery fears. He’s large and physically powerful—and undeniably capable of destroying Avery’s hard-earned progress. Although Noah seems to have a tender streak when it comes to him, Avery is terrified of being victimized again. But no matter how many times he tries to push him away, Noah never goes far.

Noah wants to save Avery, but can he be the catalyst Avery needs to begin the journey out of the blackness?

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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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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

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Have a great week, and happy reading!

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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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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!

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THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED

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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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Julie Lynn Hayes, The Joyful Approach

Julie Lynn Hayes Makes “Revelations” – And Yes, There’s A Giveaway!




The Making of Revelations: How it came to be

The idea was born many years ago. Over forty, actually. When I was a teenager. Back then, it didn’t have a name, and it had no real shape. But I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to tell the story of Judas Iscariot. The trouble was I didn’t know how.

What drew me to Judas, is probably what you’re asking yourself, and that’s a valid question. Ask anyone else who Judas is and you’ll get answers that are probably all variations on a theme of betrayal. I’m not sure exactly when I began to question that, but I do know that when I saw Jesus Christ Superstar performed live back in 1971 (or thereabouts), I had an epiphany regarding him. I saw him, not as the bad guy as often portrayed, but someone who not only believed in Jesus but was willing to do what he needed him to do. For without Judas’ “betrayal” of Jesus, the story would not have worked out the way it did. It needed to happen that way. And if you read the Gospel of Judas, he was the only apostle who trusted Jesus enough to do that for him. Gives one food for thought, doesn’t it?
Very interesting, but where’s the story, I wondered. Was I going to take an historical perspective, research the man and his life? Easier said than done, especially back then. We had no Internet. We didn’t even have computers. Research was all done through books. Libraries had card catalogs, a far cry from today when you can log onto your library website and browse their selection, then request what you want. So I looked and I found bupkus (nothing). I had the Bible, of course, but it tends to be limited on information, as well as a bit biased.

So nothing was written, and I let it go, as my thoughts formulated in the back of my head. In the meantime, I was reading, watching… and learning. King of Kings was my first Biblical movie, and I loved it. Jeffrey Hunter’s portrayal of Jesus is very moving, and I was very enamored of the film. Jesus Christ Superstar – I think I know all the words, I’ve listened so many times. I liked the stage version, but the first film not so much.

Besides watching these things and others, I read. Christopher Moore’s Lamb, The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal. What a fabulous book! I loved it! So much I bought the special edition. And I read The Gospel of Judas! Forty years ago I’d never heard of such a thing. Of course I read The Da Vinci Code, and watched the movie. And everything began to percolate inside my head…

Then one day it happened. Judas spoke to me, for the first time. And I simply began to write it down, not knowing what he might say, or where his story might lead. It turned out to be quite the story and took me on quite the journey, and led to places that I didn’t expect it to. If he’d have spoken forty years ago, I would not have been ready to receive his message. But my life up until the moment that I first heard him speak prepared me. And the result is Revelations.

The original title was Kyrie Eleison, a tribute to the Mister Mr. song, Kyrie. Kyrie eleison means Christ, have mercy on us. But then fellow author Marie Sexton, who was reading Kyrie for me at the time, suggested a simpler title. A better title. Revelations. So Revelations it became.
I know there are people who will not like Revelations, and by extension, me. People who will not see the message it carries, only that it does not follow what they believe. But ultimately, no matter what you believe, Revelations is a story of love. Love is the message, and love is something that binds us all together.

Revelations is love.

Thank you for having me here, enjoy your day!

About The Author:

Julie Lynn Hayes was reading at the age of two and writing by the age of nine and always wanted to be a writer when she grew up. Two marriages, five children, and more than forty years later, that is still her dream. She blames her younger daughters for introducing her to yaoi and the world of M/M love, a world which has captured her imagination and her heart and fueled her writing in ways she’d never dreamed of before. She especially loves stories of two men finding true love and happiness in one another’s arms and is a great believer in the happily ever after. She lives in St. Louis with her daughter Sarah and two cats, loves books and movies, and hopes to be a world traveler some day. She enjoys crafts, such as crocheting and cross stitch, knitting and needlepoint and loves to cook. While working a temporary day job, she continues to write her books and stories and reviews, which she posts in various places on the internet. Her family thinks she is a bit off, but she doesn’t mind. Marching to the beat of one’s own drummer is a good thing, after all. Her other published works can be found at Dreamspinner Press, MuseitUp Publishing and coming soon to Torquere Press. She has also begun to self-publish and is an editor at MuseitUp.

You can find her on her blog at http://julielynnhayes.blogspot.com, and you can contact her at tothemax.wolf@gmail.com.

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Blurb:

Judas has never been very popular, not in any incarnation that he and Jesus and the others have lived through. But he doesn’t care about that. All he cares about is following the instructions of God as set forth in the script that they follow. And Jesus. For Judas has secretly loved the son of God for over two thousand years.

But now he decides that enough is enough, and he’s tired of watching Jesus die far too early, and for what? This time Judas is determined to see that Jesus lives a long and happy life, no matter what price he has to pay to accomplish it…no matter if he has to make a deal with the devil himself.

Revelations is a story of what could be, told by those who play it out, time after time after time, unbeknownst to the rest of mankind. They’ve come back again, for yet another round. But this time is going to be different.

Excerpt:

Prologue: God

It’s not always easy to sit on the sidelines and watch what is happening, to resist the urge to intervene in his best interest. My son’s that is. Jesus. But I do so, because I know it’s for his own good. As well as for the good of mankind. I can’t let my concerns as his father override my vested interest in the fate of man. But sometimes that is easier said than done.

This morning I am not alone. Someone else is with me, someone with his own agenda, although we are not as diametrically opposed as some would imagine us to be. Good and evil aren’t the simplistic concepts some would portray them as being—there are more grey areas there than you might think. And rightly so.

He smirks. Too much for my taste, I have to admit, but sometimes he does have his moments, and he too has a part to play in what is happening in the world of men. Someone needs to fill the role of the villain, after all.

The stage is being set for the third act, the scripts have been handed round, and the actors are taking their places. Will this time end any differently than the others? That depends on my son, on Jesus. I’m thinking this will be the time when he’ll make the change.

“He’ll change nothing,” Lucifer interjects, although I’ve asked him nothing, certainly not inquired as to his opinion.

I glance at him. He’s dressed to within an inch of his life, and wears the most ridiculous sunglasses I’ve ever seen. I decide not to comment on his fashion sense. “I think he might, this time. I think he’s ready for change.”

Lucifer snorts. “It’s been two thousand years, and neither one has exactly caught on yet. Why should this time be any different?”

“Care to put your money where your mouth is?”

He eyes me carefully. “I would, but you see you have this whole mystic omnipotent God thing going on. Personally, I don’t care for those odds.”

I arch an eyebrow. “I may be omnipotent, but Jesus does have free will and he does possess the ability to make his own decisions. You think I’d stack the deck in my son’s favor? Just to win a bet with you?”

“Let’s say I’m taking no chances.” He smiles. “Tell you what, though—give me free rein. Let me do what I want, and you not say anything or do anything to interfere with me? As far as they’re concerned, that is.”

I open my mouth to object, he hastily interjects. “No killing, I swear to it.”

That’s better. I still have some measure of control over the serpent.

“So be it.” I agree, turning my attention back to where it had been, to my son. I’m smirking now. Openly.

O ye of little faith, watch and learn.

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THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED

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The Joyful Approach, Venona Keyes

Venona Keyes Is Here Today! She Would Love To Know What You’ll Do For A Dreamspinner Press Gift Card!






What to do?

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My love of reading is at odds with my love of writing, which is always at odds with my love of play. For example, it’s a bright and sunny day outside, what should I do?

A) Go play outside! Skip! Smell the flowers! Weed the garden! Go to the water park!
B) Read just one more chapter of this very interesting book (the one I just can’t seem to put down)
C) Write three thousand words for my current story (how hard can that be)?

What to do?
What to do?

It all goes back to my childhood (don’t all stories and habits start out that way?). Always an advanced and adventurous reader, I had read through my public library (granted, it was a small library). Luckily, once summer, my family was at a party at one of my distant relative’s house. Playing in the basement, I saw all these wonderful books and and comic books neatly placed on makeshift shelves. My cousins were older and no longer read those type of books or the comics, so they boxed them up for me and my siblings sent my family home with ten boxfuls of reading material. I read the entire Nancy Drew, Dana Sisters, and Hardy Boys series, with other series of action, adventure, and science fiction. Long, lazy afternoons going through Superman, The Fantastic Four, The Avengers, The Green Lantern, The Green Hornet, Batman, SpiderMan, The Hulk, Justice League, Brenda Starr, The Archies, along with some lesser known mystery comics. The trend was clear—these characters could save the world and hold down a job with no one the wiser. Crisis averted, work deadlines were made, and of course, our heroes and heroines were dressed as fashion plates. Although it was just fantasy, that is where I got my warped sense of I can do it all.

My foray into graphic novels ended before it began. Bad stick people evidently don’t sell unless you are The Oatmeal. That left writing. The childhood novel I wrote (and I still have—bound and all!) was a romantic comedy and with an adventurous and athletic protagonist. Every once it’s pulled out to remember the joy of writing. As an adult, I like a little bit of romance, but it shouldn’t get in the way of the story, action, or saving the world. I got into the writing bug again after reading *gasp!* fanfiction. It was fun reading and writing a few stories, but nothing in the way of serious writing. Then I met Shira Anthony. She had written a high seas m/f romances (she just loves the water, ships, mermen, and pirates), and after convincing her that we could write about two men – romance or thriller, we were hooked! The two books co-authored with Shira was the balance of the worlds: Prelude, a romance, and The Trust, action-thriller-action-mystery-action.

My answer to what to do: I wander over hill and dale (running, leaping, and exploring) for inspiration, read before bed (and well into the night), and joined a writers’s sprint (sounds action-packed!) during breaks at work. See—doing it all.

Now for you—do you prefer romance or action? Where is your favorite place to read? Outside, at the gym, in bed? Name your favorite genre and place to read, and have a chance to win a $15 Dreamspinner Press e-gift certificate. Good luck, and see you at GRL!



Action Excerpt from The Trust

Chapter One

The Hitman is Hit

I’m falling down a spiral, destination unknown,

I can’t get no connection, can’t get through, where are you…

—“Twilight Zone” by Golden Earring



SHIT. Shit, shit, shit!

Blood gushed from his leg, and for just an instant, he watched it with growing anger. Watched it, that was, until the adrenaline kick-started his brain and he realized he would die if he kept bleeding like this.

Gotta stop the bleeding, he thought with desperation.

He dragged himself to the women’s bathroom, pushed hard on the door, and stumbled in. Between the sound of the door slamming against the wall and the sight of all the blood, the startled women inside screamed and ran out.

Blood coated everything he touched. He leaned against a stall door, and it swung open under his weight. One hand applying pressure to the gunshot wound, he elbowed the toilet-paper holder. He fell to the floor and the roll sprang free. He placed the cheap one-ply paper over the wound and pressed down hard—it only took a minute before the roll was a deep crimson.

He tapped the microphone on his chest and shouted, “Agent down! I need an extraction, now!”

“Who’s down?” came the calm, even voice in his earpiece.

“I am. Sandoval fucking ambushed me. Caught me in the leg. Hit an artery.”

“Anders, where are you?”

“I—” He broke off, looking up to see a slender man leaning casually against the stall door, grinning at him. The Silver Fox, Jason Sandoval. Sandoval wasn’t Jake’s target, but it seemed as though Jake was his. Jake had always detested Sandoval. Now he knew why.

“So… there you are. Thanks for leaving me a trail of bloody breadcrumbs to follow.”

“Agent Anders, where are you?” the voice in his ear persisted. He ignored it.

“Looks like ya got a bleeder there, Anders.”

They had never been friends, but they had been colleagues. Now, Jake wanted nothing more than to blow the smirk off the other man’s face.

Fucking traitor.

“I’ve had worse,” Jake lied. If Sandoval wanted him dead, he’d probably only have to wait a few minutes for him to bleed out. But that wasn’t Sandoval’s style—he had never been a patient man, and Jake knew it.

“Not sure that’s true, but I admire your bravado.”

Again, the voice in his ear. “Agent Anders, who’s there with you?”

“What do you want, Sandoval?” Jake asked. He’d pretty much always suspected Jason Sandoval was insane. Now he was sure of it.

Who the hell is he working for? Foreign government? Private concern?

They had come here as a team, their mission to intercept a scientist who was in town for a conference. But things had gone horribly wrong. It had been a setup, the entire scenario. Three of their own agents had turned their guns against him and his backup team. But why?

Fucking traitors. All of them.

“Well, I could watch you bleed to death. Or I suppose I could just end it for you now. Seems a shame, though. You really were a first-class ops guy, Jake. Now your life is fading away, and I get to witness it.”

Jake slowly reached inside his pants.

“Now, now, Jake,” drawled Sandoval, “no cheatin’. Take that hand out of your pocket.”

“I’m trying to stem the bleeding at the pressure point.”

“Like hell.”

Jake withdrew his hand and flicked his wrist faster than the other man could follow, impaling him in the right eye with a knife. Sandoval staggered backward and out of the stall without uttering a word. Jake reached for his gun, but it was missing. When had he lost it? He needed to finish Sandoval off before he was the one lying on the floor with his brains blown out.

He heard the distinctive muffled “pflnk” of a silencer. With the last scrap of his energy, Jake pushed the stall door open in time to see Sandoval fall backward, hitting the tile wall and sliding onto the floor. He was dead.

“Jake,” came a familiar baritone voice. “Reduce your heart rate, just as I taught you. It will slow the bleeding.”

Jake closed his eyes. In spite of the ice that flowed through his veins and the drowsiness that threatened to pull him under, he forced himself to meditate. He envisioned the frantic beating of his heart slowing down, imagined the damaged artery closing, the blood clotting, and the wound beginning to heal. The thundering rush of blood in his ears began to ebb. The dizziness subsided. He slowed his breathing, and his heart steadied.

“Good work, Jake,” he heard the soothing voice say. “It isn’t your time to be with me. Not yet.”

“Agent Anders! Agent Anders!” He wanted to swat the earpiece away, but he didn’t have the strength.

He blinked, trying to focus his uncooperative eyes on the figure that stood before him. “Trace?” he whispered as he passed out.

“FUCKING traitor Sandoval,” Ryan Roberts growled from nearby.

“If Jake hadn’t killed him, I’d’ve gladly done it myself.” John Carson—Jake recognized the voice.
“He’s a damn lucky bastard.” Ryan’s voice again.

“Un-fucking-believable. Got that tourniquet on and still had the presence of mind to write the time on his leg,” added Carson.

“I gotta hand it to ’im—got Sandoval once in the eye, then turned around and shot ’im to make sure he was dead—all while he’s fuckin’ bleeding to death.”

“Gentleman, Agent Anders needs to rest.” A woman’s voice this time: soothing, no-nonsense, and familiar.

“Sorry, Dr. Carroll.” Carson sounded embarrassed, but Jake could hear the note of concern in his gruff voice. “We just wanted to be here when Jake wakes up.”

“He will regain consciousness when his body’s ready. He’s lost a lot of blood, and he’s been in surgery.”

“We’ll wait,” Ryan replied. Jake almost smiled to hear the stubbornness in Ryan’s voice.

“Agent Roberts, Agent Carson, the director has called a meeting, and you both need to be in attendance.” Stephanie Carroll’s voice was now commanding.

Jake felt a strong hand squeeze his shoulder. “You better get your lazy ass outta here, Anders, or I’m gonna have to beat the crap outta ya.” The sounds of chairs scraping the floor and fading footsteps followed Ryan’s words.

“It’s all right, Agent Anders. They’re gone,” Jake heard a few minutes later.

The dim light of the room was too bright. Jake squinted, blinked several times, and slowly opened his eyes. He had a splitting headache.

“Welcome back to the world of the living, Jake.”

Jake attempted to smile back at the gentle-voiced doctor, but it came out more like a grimace.
“Are you in pain?”

“My head feels like it’s gonna explode.”

“I’ll give you something.”

Jake watched as the tiny woman took a syringe and injected it into the IV in his arm. He felt warmth radiate from the site of the line as his muscles relaxed and the pounding in his head began to lessen.
“Thanks. I think I feel less ‘vincible’ now,” he said, managing a lopsided grin.

She smiled at him. “Jake, I really can’t tell you how impressed I am with the skills you exhibited under the extreme pressure of the situation.”

“I had help.”

“Oh?”

“The Trace Sim. He told me to slow down my breathing and meditate. I imagined my artery knitting itself back together.”

“Impressive. I didn’t think the simulation microchips were so detailed in their programming.”
Jake shrugged. “Neither did I. It’s like he was right there in front of me.”

“When our bodies are under acute stress, we often imagine things,” she replied in a kind but patronizing tone.

Jake guessed that she’d heard the recording of his call for help and had wondered why he’d spoken Trace Michelson’s name.

“He seemed so real. Not like the usual Sim.”

Her answer was what he’d expected and hoped for: reassuring and kind. “The brain is an amazing organ. In times of severe stress, it can be a powerful tool to ensure survival.”

The tension in his shoulders abated with her words.

She’s right. It was probably a combination of the Sim and my own imagination. Either way, it worked, right?

She offered him a sympathetic smile. “You need to rest.” She checked the IV and made a notation on the chart at the foot of his bed.

She turned to leave, then paused as if considering something. “You know, Jake,” she said with a contemplative hand to her chin, “applying a tourniquet made from the toilet roll spindle and your torn shirt was quite remarkable, given the extent of your injury. But you didn’t really need it—the artery had already begun to heal on its own. It appears Dr. Michelson’s techniques are more effective than we originally thought. Quite fascinating.”

“Tourniquet?” It was the second time someone had mentioned it since he’d regained consciousness. But he didn’t remember a tourniquet, let alone applying one to himself in the heat of the moment.

“The one you placed on your leg before you lost consciousness.”

“I don’t remember that. The last thing I remember is Trace.”

“Writing the time you placed the tourniquet on your leg required true presence of mind, Jake,” she continued, undaunted. “We were able to quickly ascertain how long the circulation had been compromised.”

“I don’t remember that either.” He frowned.

She gave him another reassuring smile. “You really must get some rest now. I’ll be back to check on you later. Would you like something to drink?”

“Something more than ice chips?” he asked with a hopeful expression.

“I’ll see that you get some water.”

“Thanks.” He closed his eyes. He heard her walk out of the room and close the door behind her.
Tourniquet? Writing the time on my leg? And who killed Sandoval? I couldn’t have shot him; I didn’t have my gun….

It made no sense. An image of the man with dark hair and slate-blue eyes filled Jake’s mind. He’d seen that face many times while training with his Sim. He had known the real man himself years before—Trace Michelson had recruited Jake into the Trust. But for years, it had been only a virtual Trace who had inhabited his mind, training him, sharing his knowledge with his host as all Sims did.

This was different. He was so… real.

He forced his eyes open again and stared up at the ceiling. The gray acoustic tiles provided him with no answers.

“Idiot,” he muttered as he fought the overwhelming urge to sleep. “Of course he wasn’t there. He’s been dead for nearly five years.”


Romance Excerpt from Prelude:

David Somers had a headache. He’d hoped it would pass, but it had only gotten worse in the past fifteen minutes. He waited stage left as the orchestra finished tuning.

Deep breath.

Focus.

The concertmaster sat back down—the signal for David to walk onto the stage of Orchestra Hall. His hall. His orchestra. He breathed in slowly before schooling his expression and walking onto the stage, utterly focused. He knew he looked the part of the confident performer: his Armani tux was perfectly pressed, his posture faultless, and his stride confident. The orchestra stood as he entered. The hall, filled to capacity, rang with polite applause. But David’s disinterested poise was merely a sham. He was irritated to the extreme. Only his strong sense of duty had brought him back to the stage tonight for the second half of the program. That, and his modern music series’s potential sponsors, who he knew sat in the center box seats—the box that had been owned by Somers Investments for more than sixty years. He glanced stage left to where the soloist waited to make his entrance. David had seen him for the first time only moments before, and he’d been left with the distinct impression of a street thug. The man was tattooed, for heaven’s sake. There was no place for such a thing in the refined world of classical music. True, the soloist wore the traditional tails of an artist making a solo appearance with the Chicago Symphony, one of the finest symphony orchestras in the world. But that was de rigueur, expected of him, regardless of his personal tastes. No, it was the telltale ink visible at the other man’s throat as he buttoned up his shirt that had taken David by surprise.

“Lastislav Voitavich is ill,” his personal assistant, James Roland, had told him as he arrived at the back entrance to Symphony Center that afternoon, “but we’ve managed to find a replacement.” David hadn’t been concerned. Such last-minute substitutions were rare but not unheard of. He knew there were plenty of violinists who would give their eyeteeth to take the stage under his baton and with such a prestigious orchestra. There were few conductors on the classical music scene with his reputation, let alone as young as he. “Has the replacement performed the piece before?” “Of course, Maestro,” James assured him. “Several times, I’m told.” “That will be sufficient.” It would be just that—sufficient—nothing more and nothing less. That was the way with all last-minute substitutions. The evening would not be a memorable one, but David would make sure his audience did not leave disappointed. The orchestra’s performance would be outstanding. “There is one thing you should know, though,” James added in a quavering voice. They’d worked together for nearly five years, but David knew he’d never been an easy man to please. Then again, one didn’t get a reputation like his by having lax standards. He glared at James. He didn’t appreciate being troubled with such nonsense before a performance—he needed time to prepare, to focus on the music and review the score. “What do you wish to tell me?” “Th-the… the soloist… he… ah—” “I don’t care who he is as long as he can play the Sibelius.” David ran a hand through his hair in frustration. “He… he can, of course.” Beads of sweat appeared on James’s forehead. Five minutes before he took the stage for the second half of the concert, when he read through the bio James had handed him, David realized what a mistake he’d made by not pressing the issue further.

It’s a concert.

Nothing more.

There will be time to kowtow in apology to the Symphony Association tomorrow, if need be. He detested kowtowing, but he also knew he did it well. David rarely made any sort of public speech, let alone an announcement in the middle of a concert. He despised public speaking, but there was nothing to do for it—the substitution had been too eleventh hour to print something to add into the programs.

“Good evening,” he began with a practiced smile. “There has been a slight change in tonight’s program. Our featured soloist, Lastislav Voitavich, has taken ill.” There were murmurs from the audience, so David waited until the hall was silent before continuing, “Alexander Bishop has graciously agreed to perform the Sibelius.” Instead of voicing their disappointment, the audience applauded with surprising enthusiasm. “Thank you.”

David was unsure what to make of the response. He nodded toward the wings. There was renewed applause as the violinist took to the stage. Alex Bishop. A rock star masquerading as a classical violinist. Tattoos and groupies. David didn’t doubt Bishop was competent—his assistant was young, not stupid. Still, David loathed this “new breed” of musician who all too often graced the covers of magazines like Time and, more recently, Rolling Stone. Tattoos, indeed. The term “crossover artist” was a mere marketing tool intended to exploit an artist’s good looks and increase sales. He’d heard so-called crossover artists perform before, and he hadn’t been impressed. He signaled for the concertmaster to provide the soloist with an opportunity to tune before turning to face the orchestra, his back to the audience.

The Sibelius Violin Concerto was a challenging but not overly taxing piece, and he’d rehearsed his orchestra well. The orchestra will shine, despite any deficit in the quality of the fiddle playing. He raised his baton and did his best to ignore the auburn hair tied at the nape of the soloist’s neck. Alex Bishop was attractive enough. Tall and muscular—taller than David himself. David was surprised he noticed, but there was something about Bishop that commanded attention. Still, in spite of his apparent ease in front of the large crowd and his undeniable stage presence, Bishop was no more than a pretender to the world of classical music. All hype and no substance—a creation of Hollywood agents and a second-rate player, no doubt. Bishop glanced over to David, his instrument tucked under his chin. Their eyes met for a brief moment. Bishop’s dark-brown eyes simmered with passion and focus. David raised his baton higher, the signal to the orchestra for the downbeat. One deft flick of the baton later, the orchestra began the first measures of the Sibelius Violin Concerto in D Minor. As a conductor, David had always preferred the less emotional modern repertoire to the sweeping romanticism of Brahms, Mahler, or Sibelius. Tonight’s program—and the Sibelius concerto in particular—was a nod to the wealthy patrons who kept the orchestra’s finances in the black. Its soaring and plaintive melodies failed to move him, although he knew his audience would respond with enthusiasm. It was a tedious thing, to be required to accommodate the common musical tastes of his benefactors, but David tolerated it, since he’d included a less tonal, more challenging piece later in the symphony’s performance schedule. David glanced over at Bishop. Their eyes met again as Bishop began the first few notes of the solo line and the heady tones of his violin filled the concert hall. With effort, David returned his focus to the score that sat on the podium in front of him. He didn’t need to read the music to conduct the piece—he had committed every measure to memory—but he sought the distraction. He’s better than I expected. Far better, really, although David would hardly admit it to himself. Bishop finished the opening phrase of the movement with obvious ease. David found himself taken aback by the intensity of the other man’s playing, as well as the natural musicality and the warm tone he coaxed from the fiddle.

The violin Bishop played was serviceable. It was no Stradivarius or Guarneri, but the instrument sounded nearly as resonant as the finest instruments he had heard through the years. “A good instrument can make the performer,” his old friend and predecessor, John Fuchs, had once told him. “But without talent, it is only an instrument.” As the evening progressed, Bishop began the second movement: a slow and sensual adagio.

Once more, David found himself transported by the artistry with which Bishop conveyed the depth of the composition, and again David found himself struggling to maintain his focus and not lose himself in the music. After the third and final movement, the crowd jumped to its feet. Amidst the enthusiastic applause were resounding calls of “Bravo!” from some of the patrons, including, David noted with pleasure, the two men and one woman seated in the Somers’s box. The audience was satisfied with no fewer than four bows, each time calling back both soloist and conductor to the stage with more cheers and applause. As they walked back and forth across the stage for each bow, David watched with interest, half expecting Bishop to react as a rock star might and toss an article of clothing to his adoring fans. He did nothing of the sort, but bowed with surprising grace and maintained the decorum expected from a soloist performing with a world-renowned symphony orchestra. Rather than basking in the glow of the audience’s response, Bishop appeared slightly ill at ease with the adulation, although he smiled personably.

After the final bow, David followed Bishop offstage. He had intended to retreat to his dressing room, but several fans already crowded the wings, blocking the way. Irritated by the lack of security, David attempted to walk around the gathering crowd by taking a path through the wings instead of directly out to the corridor. Several orchestra members milled about, clearly anxious to congratulate Bishop on his performance. Seeing David, they nodded in a formal manner—they had long since learned that he did not wish to be disturbed after a performance. David returned each gesture with a curt nod, sidestepping the approaching fans before slipping out the door and into the hallway.

He closed the door behind him and looked up into a pair of dark eyes. Bishop, it appeared, had also sought to avoid the backstage chaos. He smiled at David. “Maestro,” he said. After transferring his violin and bow to his left hand, he offered his right hand to David. The casual warmth of the gesture took David aback—he was used to being the one to initiate such contact with the orchestra’s guest artists. They shook hands in silence. David hesitated a moment before withdrawing his hand and saying, “We appreciate your willingness to fill in at the last minute.” “It was my pleasure,” the violinist murmured. He watched David as if unsure what to make of him. “I’ve played the concerto a few times, although never with such a skillful conductor.” Accustomed to compliments, David was unmoved. “Thank you.” Bishop shifted inelegantly on his feet. “Listen,” he said, “we’re having a little party at my place. Just a few friends, a couple of beers, that sort of thing. Nothin’ fancy. Would you like to join us?” “I appreciate the invitation, but I’m expected at a donors’ party in a few minutes.” “No problem.” Bishop smiled and nodded. “I understand.” Was that disappointment David saw in the other man’s face? Unlikely. He’s relieved. Besides, can you see yourself at a party with a few friends and a “couple of beers”? He’s just trying to be kind. Then, realizing that his response had been rude, David said, “Perhaps another ti—” His words were cut short by shouts and giggles as two teenage girls launched themselves at Bishop, nearly knocking his violin from his hand. David stepped backward to avoid the onslaught and almost collided with a woman with long blond hair who swooped in to protect Bishop from the girls. The girlfriend, no doubt. Time to leave. He turned and strode quickly down the hallway to his dressing room, closed the door, and took a deep breath on the other side. Alex bent down and managed to catch his instrument before it hit the ground, but when he stood up again, David had vanished. Alex managed a self-conscious smile as another woman planted a wet kiss on his cheek, missing his lips by a hair’s breadth.

That was strange. He was sorry to see that David had disappeared. There was something appealing about David Somers, not the least of which was his command of the orchestra and his unique musical voice. Alex had heard David conduct before, of course, but performing under his baton had been a refreshing experience. “Thanks for the rescue, Mar,” he said after he’d signed the girls’ programs. “You looked like you needed it.” Marla laughed as the girls headed off toward the exit. He took his roommate’s arm and led her down the hallway to the green room, where he’d left his coat and case. Marla waited as he wiped the rosin from the strings, fingerboard, and bridge of his violin with a small white cloth. Satisfied with his handiwork, he gently laid the instrument in its case, loosened the hair of his bow, and locked it into place in the lid. He clicked the case closed and picked up his coat without a word. “You’re quiet tonight.” Marla watched him with obvious interest. “Disappointed with the performance?” “Nah. It was one of the best concerts I’ve played.” “Sounded pretty good to me too, but then I’m no musician.” She pressed a pensive finger to her lips and, cocking her head to the side, asked, “So, how was he?” “He?” “The maestro.” She laughed. “David Somers. You said it yourself, he’s probably the best young conductor on the classical music scene. Did he live up to his reputation?” “He….” Alex hesitated. He wasn’t sure how to describe David. “He’s certainly a difficult man to approach. Still….” Marla’s musical laughter filled the room. “I wasn’t talking about his personality, silly boy, I was talking about his musical ability.” She eyed him with suspicion before adding, “But it seems as though he might have made more than just a musical impression on you.” Despite Alex’s best efforts, his jaw tightened. “You’re playing matchmaker again.” “Can’t blame a girl for wanting a Michigan Avenue apartment of her own, can you?” “You couldn’t afford it without a roommate.” She sighed and shook her head. “No, probably not.” Alex paid the rent and utilities on the condo they shared—he insisted on it now that he was making good money performing. The advance on his last recording hadn’t hurt, either. “Besides,” he added with a smile, “I’ve got a least a few more years’ rent to pay you back before we’re even.” “Eh, you’re right.” She waved her hand in the air as she often did when he let her win. “I figure I’ve got about a year left before I’m out on the street. So how about the maestro?” “Don’t think he’s my type.” Alex emphasized the word and glared at her, shaking his head. “You never know.” Her expression held an open challenge he chose to ignore. Instead, he opened the door to the green room and picked up the violin case. With her arm firmly wrapped around his waist, they walked back into the crowded hallway.

He signed a few more autographs until Marla began to push through the crowd, leading him to the stage door. The fans, assuming Marla was his girlfriend, looked irritated, some openly hostile. He ignored this. He was used to it. Besides, Marla was adept at fending off the women she affectionately called “simpering spineless sluts.” As they walked out of the Adams Street entrance, Alex spotted a limousine waiting a few yards away. The driver held the door open and a lone figure walked quickly over, avoiding any contact with the public. David Somers, dressed in a dark coat with a white scarf flung about his neck, ducked into the limo. As he sat down, he glanced back to where Alex stood. Their eyes met for an instant before the driver closed the door. Marla eyed Alex with suspicion. “What?” He shot her a look of mock irritation. “Nothing.” She grinned at him. “Nothing at all.” They crossed the street and headed the half block to Michigan Avenue for the shortcut through Millennium Park to their apartment.

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

Venona Keyes is currently writing a sequel to The Trust, and a has a few action novellas in the works. She is a GRL supporting author.

Venona Keyes is a modern woman who believes in doing it all; if doing it all is only in her head. She amazes people that she can be wholly unorganized yet pack a perfect carryon suitcase for a ten day trip to Paris. Ms. Keyes is a believer in the just in time theory, and can be seen sprinting to the airport gate before the plane door closes.

Venona has experienced love and loss at the deepest level, and is thankful for writing and daydreaming, for it kept, and still keeps her sane. Writing also introduced her to some of the most supportive and wonderful people, to which she will always be grateful.

Venona is a voracious reader, loves her feline boy, volunteers at an animal shelter, cooks everything in her CSA boxes, is an accomplished speaker, enjoys swimming, biking, skipping, and her beloved over-grown garden.

You can find Venona Keyes:

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Website
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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 got five weeks of GayRomLit celebration behind us? I know! Neither can I. That means there are only two more weeks to go before the party comes to a close.

If you want to keep score of who has already appeared and who’s left to appear, check out the complete lineup HERE. I’ve been updating links to past appearance both here and at Joyfully Jay’s place so you can catch up on what our participating authors have had to say so far.

The Joyful Approach schedule this week includes:

>> Monday – Venona Keyes
>> Tuesday – Julie Lynn Hayes
>> Wednesday – Eden Winters
>> Thursday – Geoffrey Knight
>> Friday – K-lee Klein

But, wait, that’s not all! We’ve got some non-GRL fun on tap too:

>> Saturday – K. Vale will be here to talk about her latest book Forever Is Now and will also be offering an opportunity to win a great prize

>> Sunday – Amy Lane will be our guest. She’ll be here to talk a little bit about her new Young Adult Fantasy Triane’s Son Rising and will also be offering the chance for one lucky reader to win the book.

And, of course, as always we’ll have the lovely A.J. Corza from GotYouCovered here on Wednesday, with her choice of Cover Art of the Week.

◄►◄►◄►◄►◄►◄►

So be sure to stay tuned for this and lots more reviews. Happy reading!

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Jade Buchanan, MLR Press, The Joyful Approach

Jade Buchanan Has Dropped In To Play Along, And Yes, There’s A Giveaway!



Hi there! Thanks for letting me play today!

I wanted to talk about my current WIP, Broken Distance in my Broken series at MLR Press. The Broken series consists of two novels and two short stories set between Calgary, Alberta and Northern Ontario and tells the tales of the trials and tribulations of a few men coming to terms with who they are and who they love. The first book, Broken Rules, was a friends to lovers story featuring Jonah and Neil. Jonah had been kicked out of his home when his parents found out he was gay and he never dreamt that he might find love with his best friend years later when he returned home for his mothers funeral. The second story, Broken Silence, told the tale of Rich, a closeted bar owner and the very man Jonah was caught with a decade ago, and Matthew, an out and proud nurse who falls in love despite himself. Broken Boughs brought us back to Neil and Jonah and a very important question Neil wanted to ask his lover and the fourth book, Broken Wings brought us back to Ontario and featured Nathan and Tim, ex-boyfriends who wanted to see if second chances were possible.

The next story in the Broken series is Broken Distance. It features David and Jacob, two men who come from very different backgrounds, but are drawn together by a mutual attraction. When they discover they have more in common than they thought (namely, David’s big overprotective brother who happens to be a coworker of Jacob’s) they have to decide if their mutual lust can lead to something more. Here’s a little taste of it!

Broken Distance by Jade Buchanan

David Brogan has had a lot of growing up to do since he moved away from home and started living with his brother, Neil. With wedding bells on Neil’s horizon, he’s even more anxious to find someone to love and accept him for who he is. He’s just got to stop making such poor choices first. Detective Jacob Tate falls for the firecracker from the first time he sees him. Only, discovering he’s the younger — much younger — brother of his friend isn’t exactly what he wanted to hear. Will David be able to change his mind? Or will his family’s interference drive them further apart?

Unedited Excerpt:

David didn’t know how long he’d been sitting outside before Neil came looking for him. At least he assumed Neil had come looking for him. Maybe he’d just wanted some fresh air after all the bullshit inside.

Neil walked over to the side of the porch where David was sitting on the ground. “What’s up?”

David shrugged.

“Come on, turd. I left my wedding to see how you were doing. Tell me what’s going on. What was all that inside?”

David shrugged again. “Nothing. Just go back inside and enjoy yourself. I didn’t ask you to come out here.”

“Yeah, and Jonah will have my nuts if I admit I came back in without beating the truth out of you. Spill.”

David sighed. He knew his brother. They’d be out here all night if he didn’t say anything. Either that or one of the others would come looking for him. He’d rather talk to Neil. He had a feeling Neil would understand a little better. “I don’t know what I’m doing. Everything I do I end up screwing up.”

Neil slid down to sit beside him. “That’s not true.”

David reached up and slid both hands through his hair in frustration before rubbing his face.

“It is! I just… Just tell me what to do. I’m so confused and I don’t know up from down. Just tell me what to do.” David looked up through his fingers, begging Neil to help him.

Neil threw his arm around David. “I can’t make this decision for you. I wish I could. But, it’s on you, turd.”

“If it was you, what would you do?”

“David.”

David huffed out a breath. There had to be an easier way to do this. After everything that had happened inside, all the shit that had come out. He couldn’t do this alone. It was pretty apparent he was screwed up. “Please! I’m begging you, give me something. Just a direction. I’m so lost. I’m a fuck up. I always have been.”

Neil shifted so the arm that was slung around David tightened around his neck. “Alright, that’s enough. You say one more word like that and I’m taking you out to the tiger cage and beating the piss out of you. You’re perfect. And you know I’m not good at this stuff, so thanks for doing this to me, douchebag.”

David gave a watery chuckle, just like he knew Neil intended. “Yeah. You’re so great at this. Too bad Patrick didn’t come out. Or Jonah. Or creepy Mr. Jones.”

“Mr. Jones was a pedophile. There’s no way he’d be better at this than me. And he’s not even at my wedding. Okay, just give me a sec. Look, I’m not making this choice for you, and I honestly don’t know what I’d do in your shoes. Because I don’t know the whole story. I’ve only heard bits and pieces. And no, that wasn’t an invitation to unload the whole story on me. But, the facts, DB, are that you’re not a screw up. Would I love a screw up? No. So, there you go.”

David blinked in confusion. “That’s your advice? I can’t be a screw up because you say I’m not?”

“I said more than that. It was good advice. I give awesome advice. I got you smiling, didn’t I? So, I can’t be that bad at it.”

“I’m telling mom.”

Neil flailed his free arm. “Shit, don’t do that! What the hell? I’m trying to help here.”

David started to stand up, only to be hampered by Neil grabbing him around the waist. He dragged his brother along the ground for a step before collapsing back into Neil. He ended up sprawled across Neil’s lap, both of them giggling like lunatics.

“Seriously? I asked you to come out here and check on your brother, not do whatever dirty things you’re doing right now.”

David looked up to spy Jonah standing above them with his arms crossed and one eyebrow lifted in exasperation. It immediately set David into giggles again.

“Help! Stranger danger, stranger danger! Help me, Jonah! The bad man tried to touch me.” David yelled.

Neil pushed him up and over until David was laying on the ground. “That’s it. I’m done with you before mom and dad come over here.” Neil brushed off his hands before going over to hug Jonah to his side. “And babe, you know I only do dirty dirty things with you. I’ve got the ring that proves it.”

***

PicMonkey Collage

For more information about the Broken series, or any of my other stories, you can check out my website: http://www.jadebuchananbooks.com/books/the-broken-trilogy/

THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED

Thanks again!

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Poppy Dennison, The Joyful Approach

Oh, Poppy Dennison, She Is A Special Flower And She’s Brought Goodies!


GRL Memories
Flashback: October, 2011

My first GayRomLit…the first GRL ever! And it was in New Orleans, a city I’d never visited before! I might have been bouncing off the walls in excitement. Just a little. Okay, maybe a lot, but don’t tell anyone. I had no idea what to expect! Would I be sitting like a lump in the corner with no one to talk to? Would I have as much in common with this big group of strangers as I seemed to have online?

The answer to the first question was a resounding no. I was way too busy to sit like a lump anywhere because the answer to the second question was YES YES YES. Finally, a group of people I connected with in such an amazing and special way.

True confession time. There were two authors in particular who I was both excited and terrified to meet. I had this moment where I thought I’d come off like a bumbling idiot. *whistles innocently* Who me? The first was the lovely Carol Lynne.

Poppy_Carol Lynne

Now come on: it’s Carol Lynne! She’s like…FAMOUS! I was twelve shades of green meeting this woman. Not going to lie. But you know what? Carol was so lovely and sweet that she didn’t even seem to mind me bumbling all over her and asking for her autograph! I also have another special memory of Carol from GRL 2011, one she probably doesn’t even remember, but something that will be with me forever.

See, I had something extra special happen in New Orleans. In August, I’d submitted my first novel, Mind Magic, to Dreamspinner press. Right after the Riverboat Autograph signing, I returned to the hotel and checked my email…only to find my very first contract! Yeah. I cried like a big old baby! (Just ask Xara Xanakas…I called her to my hotel room so I could cry all over her! )

Later that evening, I was heading to an event and passed Carol. She said “Congratulations, Poppy!” One, Carol Lynne remembered my name. Two, Carol Lynne knew I had a book coming out. I have no idea why that memory holds such a special place in my heart, but I think it shows the love and support of the GRL community. We’re definitely one big family, and Carol proved that to me.

The second author I was a nervous wreck to meet was none other than Geoffrey Knight.

Poppy_Geoff_Ethan

Gotta tell you, I was too nervous to ask him for his autograph. Yes, I’m that big of a goober. I own it. I even brought a paperback copy of Riddle of the Sands for him to sign for me…and was too nervous to ask him to sign it. Funny thing about that? Geoff and I are friends now. And take a look at this picture…foreshadowing of things to come? Geoff and Ethan, who are now owners of Wilde City Press, and me, one of their authors!

There were so many other people who made an impression on me that trip. I became good friends with the gals from Mantastic Fiction (waves to Amy, Lynn, and Dolorianne!) and those friendships continue today. I met the peeps from my writing group and I can’t tell you how special that was! Special shout outs to M.J. O’Shea, L.C. Chase, Piper Vaughn, Taylor Donovan, and of course, Xara Xanakas!

Fast forward to October of 2012: GRL in Albuquerque, New Mexico! Another city I’d never visited. (GRL is certainly broadening my traveling horizons!) After New Orleans, I found that I wasn’t as nervous about Albuquerque. There were still a lot of folks I was excited to meet though. It’s funny how friendships form over the internet and then solidify at these events. Case in point, hanging out with Lara Brukz, Ethan Stone, Daniel Kaine, and Monika! We all had a blast and tried not to get into too much trouble.

Albuquerque crew

Oh and then there was the delightful Jacob Flores who I’ve gotten to be such good friends with! It was so fun getting to hug the stuffing out of him and seeing that amazing smile in person!

Poppy_Jacob Flores

Now, in case you think there weren’t fangirl squees in Albuquerque, I’ll share my picture with Eric Arvin and T.J. Klune. So, I might possibly be a rabid Eric Arvin fangirl. I might have made a slight ass out of myself when I met him. Yeah. I do that. What can I say? He’s awesome sauce.

Poppy_TJ_Eric Arvin

Next up is GRL 2013. A month away…

So what am I looking forward to this year? Meeting new friends, of course. I’ve placed a target on Rhys Ford, as I didn’t get to meet her last year and she needs a hug. Okay, well, she might not need a hug but I need to hug her. Whatever. Semantics. Don’t mess with my fangirl logic, okay?

Then there’s the lovely and delightful Lisa, from this very blog. How did I not get to meet Lisa last year? How, I ask you? HOW??? But Lisa, sweets, you’re getting a big old hug too! (To this I answer, “I dunno!” ::wibbles:: But, oh, you will be properly smished, ma’am!) Oh and Marilyn Blimes, look out because you’re getting tacklehugged too. Oh yeah you are!

I’m also looking forward to drooling on *ahem* I mean meeting Charlie Harding, my new cover model for Accidental Alpha, who will be hosting an event at GRL and yeah… I’m going to drool. I can’t help it.

Now you may be wondering why I’ve rambled on about GRL’s past. Really it’s because there may be one or two of you who are newbies this year and as nervous as I was prior to New Orleans. Don’t be. Well, okay, that might be easier said than done, but I promise you’re going to have a blast! And if you’re nervous, well, to slightly butcher a line from Steel Magnolias: Come sit by me! I promise I won’t bite (don’t believe anything Daniel Kaine says about that…)

Bio:

A sassy southern lady, Poppy Dennison developed an obsession with things that go bump in the night in her early years after a barn door flew off its hinges and nearly squashed her. Convinced it was a ghost trying to get her attention, she started looking for other strange and mysterious happenings around her. Not satisfied with what she found, Poppy has traveled to Greece, Malaysia and England to find inspiration for the burly bears and silver foxes that melt her butter. Her love of paranormal continues to flourish nearly thirty years later, and she writes steamy love stories about the very things that used to keep her up all night. If her childhood ghost is lucky, maybe one day she’ll give him his own happily ever after.

Visit her on her website
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED

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Rick R. Reed, The Joyful Approach

Hallelujah! It’s “Raining Men” In Here! And Rick R. Reed Has Brought Goodies!






Lily and RRR at Gas WorksWhat is Romance? A Guest Blog By Rick R. Reed

So one of the comments I’ve been seeing since the release of my new book, Raining Men is “this is NOT a romance.” Ironically, almost all of these reviews have been raves, so it’s NOT a complaint at all. But I cringe when I see it.

This bugs me for a few reasons:

1. Such a comment has the potential to turn romance readers away. And what romance author wants to do that? Romance readers are my main target market. Besides, see below for why I think saying such a thing isn’t correct.
2. Such a comment is magnanimous, setting the speaker up as the authority on what constitutes romance. I just spent about an hour researching the term on line and I couldn’t find a list of specific rules that a book must follow in order to qualify as a romance. The only common denominator I could find in all the information I sorted through boiled down to two words: love story.
3. Raining Men was written with the intention that it is a contemporary romance and I believe, with all my heart, that it is.

Now, is it a typical romance? No. Is it a formula romance? No.

But is it a romance? Oh yes.

And I’ll tell you why and what, to me, constitutes a romance and how my books fits in that category. First and foremost, Raining Men is a love story. It is about two men, both damaged, both in varying stages of the process of coming to terms with who they are, falling in love and finding their happily-ever-after with that one special person. I think it’s this business of “coming to terms with who they are” is what may have prompted some people to comment that this is not a romance. They say that it is, instead, about a journey of self-realization.

The book is, indeed, that. We’ve all heard the old adage, “you can’t love someone else until you learn to love yourself” and that’s really what Raining Men is all about. My main character is a wounded and often vain and despicable man, who did not understand nor value himself. His journey in the book is all about discovering who he is and loving what good there is within him.

But the purpose of taking that journey was to find love, one special love that went beyond all the endless hooking up my main character did before he took this journey to discover the good person hiding beneath his porn-star handsome exterior.

And how could a journey whose ultimate destination is about finding one’s own true love not be a romance? Beats me.

You can say Raining Men may not be your cup of tea. That’s fine; that’s your personal opinion. But please don’t say it’s not a romance because it really, really is. Really.

How we define romance, how we define love stories, hell, how we define love itself varies from person to person.

I think broad labels are fine. They help us find things; they help us determine where things fit. But I think it’s also a good idea for each person to keep an open mind about what constitutes a particular genre and what doesn’t.

In the end, you may find that if you keep that open mind, you may open yourself up to some pretty wonderful stuff that you may not have even realized you would like.

The same goes for food. At least that’s what Mom and Dad always told me and they were right.

So, if someone tells you my new book Raining Men is not a romance, you tell them: “I’ll be the judge of that.”

§§§§§§

Blurb for Raining Men

The character you loved to hate in Chaser becomes the character you will simply love in Raining Men.

It’s been raining men for most of Bobby Nelson’s adult life. Normally, he wouldn’t have it any other way, but lately something’s missing. Now, he wants the deluge to slow to a single special drop. But is it even possible for Bobby to find “the one” after endless years of hooking up?

When Bobby’s father passes away, Bobby finally examines his rocky relationship with the man and how it might have contributed to his inability to find the love he yearns for. Guided by a sexy therapist, a Sex Addicts Anonymous group, a well-endowed Chihuahua named Johnny Wadd, and Bobby’s own cache of memories, Bobby takes a spiritual, sexual, and emotional journey to discover that life’s most satisfactory love connections lie in quality, not quantity. And when he’s ready to love not only himself but someone else, sex and love fit, at last, into one perfect package.

Excerpt from Raining Men:

Prologue

Bobby’s Dream

THUNDER rumbles. Rain hisses. Flashes of lightning—brilliant and blue white—rip across the sky.
I know I’m dreaming, yet something about this whole scenario seems as real as the nose on my face, the hair on my head, the dick swinging between my legs.

In addition to the natural sounds of the storm, there’s another noise, and it makes me smile. Music. Rising. Percussion. Disco beats. And the powerful wail of Martha Wash and the Weather Girls singing “It’s Raining Men.”

I’m standing under some kind of awning—red, canvas—watching the rain pour down not in drops, but sheets. Blinding. The flashes of lightning are like a disco strobe light, revealing in flashes of blue and silver, a darkened cityscape. Night. But a netherworld cityscape, blue gray, unreal.

It’s the music that makes me want to move out from under the awning. The music that has me smiling, my hips, head, and arms in synchronized rhythm with the beat.

Glorious!

Even the rain, a cold shock to my naked body, isn’t enough to keep me from driving myself out into the downpour to dance to the song, which has long been a favorite of mine.

What a delicious notion—raining men! Men falling from the skies! More men than one can shake a stick at (or something that rhymes with stick, heh-heh).

I look up into the midnight-blue clouds, my mouth and eyes open to the water pouring down, and I see it: the first of the men.

I stare in wonder as he drops from the sky. A blond Adonis, smooth and muscled, allover tanned with a dick thick, long, and perfectly hard, pointing back up at the sky. He lands somewhere outside my vision, and I dance, spinning toward where I saw him fall, hoping to find him where he has landed so I can say hello, reach out and touch him.

But before I can make any progress, another man falls from the sky. This one is hirsute, bearded, husky but hard-muscled, putting me in mind of the actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan. He smiles. Before I can even smile back, other men tumble from the skies, and I want to laugh, cry out in jubilation at my good fortune.

It truly is raining men!

Hallelujah!

They start raining faster now—blonds, redheads, brunets, black, white, Asian, Latino (yum), lanky, beefy, short, tall—all the most gorgeous men I have ever seen. All naked.

All for me!

I raise my arms and shout, “Come to Papa!”

And they do.

The first body hits me hard, feeling more like a ton of concrete instead of the delicious marriage of sinew, skin, and bone that I have come to know and love as the male form. I collapse to the ground, wind knocked out of me, and look up at the man who has rained down on me. He seems to have no awareness that I am beneath him, and I scurry to get out from underneath the crushing weight threatening to suffocate me, pressing my bones into the wet concrete beneath my back.

I manage to get out just as another man drops from the sky, a hot African American, bald, and looking just like Taye Diggs. I scramble free of his path, but he lands on my leg anyway as I crawl through the rain-slicked street.

I hear my leg break with a sickening crack. It takes only seconds for the pain to radiate throughout my entire body.

I roll over, gasping, wincing, groaning, and look up to see an entire sea of naked men falling from the sky in ever-increasing velocity—all headed straight for me.

The music reaches a crescendo in time with my shrieks.

BOBBY NELSON woke.

The sheets beneath him were twisted and damp with sweat. He gasped, trying to regulate his heartbeat, which was jackhammering so hard he expected to look down and see it lifting the skin off his chest. A cartoon heart.

The room was silent.

Where did the music go? Martha? Weather Girls?

Where was the rain? The thunder?

He breathed in deeply and exhaled slowly.

Calm.

Just a dream. A nightmare.

Where are all the men?

Finally, he grinned, turning over in his bed.

Why, there’s one! Lying right next to me, looking at me with a concerned face, a handsome face. Even in a darkened bedroom, Bobby could still tell if they’re hot or not. It was his specialty.

This one, with a mop of curly blond hair and pecs like Michael Phelps, was a ten.

His voice was husky, sleep-choked. “Dude. You were having a nightmare. You okay?”

He placed what was meant to be, Bobby was sure, a comforting hand on Bobby’s chest. Bobby cringed a little, moving away.

This has never happened before.

I have no idea who he is.

Before Bobby could stop the words from tumbling out of his mouth, they came. “Who the fuck are you?”

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Photo on 2013-07-28 at 17.32 #2Rick R. Reed Biography

Rick R. Reed is all about exploring the romantic entanglements of gay men in contemporary, realistic settings. While his stories often contain elements of suspense, mystery and the paranormal, his focus ultimately returns to the power of love. He is the author of dozens of published novels, novellas, and short stories. He is a three-time EPIC eBook Award winner (for Caregiver, Orientation and The Blue Moon Cafe). Lambda Literary Review has called him, “a writer that doesn’t disappoint.” Rick lives in Seattle with his husband and a very spoiled Boston terrier. He is forever “at work on another novel.”

Visit Rick’s website at http://www.rickrreed.com or follow his blog at http://rickrreedreality.blogspot.com/. You can also like Rick on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/rickrreedbooks or on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/rickrreed. Rick always enjoys hearing from readers and answers all e-mails personally. Send him a message at jimmyfels@gmail.com

Buy Links for Raining Men
Amazon (Kindle) http://www.amazon.com/Raining-Men-ebook/dp/B00D3XHMFW
Amazon (paperback) http://www.amazon.com/Raining-Men-Rick-R-Reed/dp/1623807220/
Dreamspinner (paperback): http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3873
Dreamspinner (ebook) http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3826

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Dreamspinner Press, Marguerite Labbe, The Joyful Approach

Please Welcome Marguerite Labbe To The Joyful Approach Celebration! And Don’t Forget To Check Out The Goods!





Make Me Whole – Myths and Self-Fulfilling Prophecies



I’ve loved mythology ever since I was a little girl. The tales of gods and goddess were right up there with tales of dragons and fantasy worlds, the myths may have even ranked higher because the tales were such a pivotal part of some cultures. They were stories of another world, they pertained to my world. That love stayed with my whole life. When I went to college and dived into all the wonderful classes in the Humanities Department, I found myself specializing in Comparative Folklore and Mythology. It brought together my love of stories, with art history, sociology, language and history, all in one intriguing package.

One of the elements that both fascinated and frustrated me about Greek mythology was the self-fulfilling prophecies. Like when Oedipus was doomed to kill his father and marry his mother. Everybody in the tragic tale went out of their way to do something to avoid that happening and everything they did, led to the inevitable outcome. I’d always wondered what would happen if Oedipus’s parents hadn’t given in to their fears and raised him instead of abandoning him. Would that still have been his fate? There had to be a point where they could stop, take a look at what was happening, take a look forward and make a conscious decision to alter their fate in a way that didn’t stem from trying to run from it.

The idea of the self-fulfilling prophecy comes into play with Make Me Whole. Nick Charisteas knows too much about the cursed statues. Finding them has become an obsession to him and he’s spent many hours reading over his family’s journals, reliving the heartbreak of those who failed to break the curse. So when he starts suspecting that he’s the next in line, reborn to try, it has him contemplating running instead. And just to add to his aggravation, Dexios takes it upon himself to emerge from the statues and offer his own kind of cryptic and often angry advice.

Make Me Whole is a story of learning to trust again, with Galen and Nick starting to risk their heart again despite fear of being hurt again, because keeping it safe means being only half alive. I hope you enjoy Make Me Whole as much as I enjoyed writing it. It was a wild ride from start to finish.

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Blurb: After a grueling battle in ancient Greece, lovers Dexios and Lykon committed their lives to each other in the name of Goddess Cythera. After the war, fearing the strength of his love for Dexios, Lykon abandoned his vow and returned home. Heartbroken, Dexios called on Cythera, who changed him into four unfinished statues. In that form he would wait for his fickle lover to return, break the curse, and make him whole.

Thousands of years have passed when Galen Kanellis finds the disassembled pieces in the storeroom of a Seattle museum and makes them the focus of his new exhibit. Needing information, he contacts his ex-lover Nick Charisteas. Nick has a lifelong dream of finding the Dexios Collection, and the last thing he expected was for it to wind up in the hands of the man who broke his heart. As both men search for answers about the statues, worries of abandonment and fear of loss test their renewed relationship, threatening to separate them again—this time permanently.

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Amelia C. Gormley, The Joyful Approach

Want To Know What It’s Like In Amelia C. Gormley’s Head? Read On – And Then Enter This Giveaway!






Most of my books tend to take place over a short enough stretch of time that I don’t really need a timeline. However, now that I’m working on the prequel to Strain, I have a universe which spans multiple years and therefore chronological consistency has become an issue. This is complicated by the fact that I was deliberately vague about dates in Strain. I didn’t want people looking at it and comparing my vision of such-and-such a year to what they believe might realistically happen, so I didn’t specify a year. If you’re paying attention, from the text in Strain, you get the idea that we’re somewhere in the early 22nd century. Xolani, when explaining the military situation, describes “over a century of occupying one country or another” after listing a number of wars, beginning with Afghanistan and Iraq in the early 21st century. That’s about as specific as it gets.

So, I started trying to put together a rough timeline like this:

21XX(-10): Plague begins (Bane)
21XX(-7)   : Rhys arrives at monastery
21XX           : Strain

In other words, the plague began 10 years before the events of Strain and Rhys arrived at the monastery 7 years before the events of Strain.

Seems pretty straightforward, right? Well, it would be, if I weren’t a neurotic perfectionist who can’t handle that sort of vagueness when I’m trying to nail something down with precision. See, in Bane (which begins in 21XX(-10)) I need to break things down by months, and the story itself will likely span at least a couple years.

This means I need to have a very specific idea for how long it’s going to take for the plague to become uncontainable and to wipe everyone out (I’ll be consulting an epidemiologist and a mathematician this week when they have the availability.)

It also means that when I’m calculating anyone’s age at a specific event, I need to know when their birthday is, because of course that will make a difference in the way I state character’s ages during important events. Like, Rhys may be 19-going-on-20 during the events of Strain, but what age he is (12 or 13) when he arrives at the monastery depends on what month he arrives versus what month his birthday is. But–again, perfectionist, here. I can’t just assign them an arbitrary birthday. No, I need to reverse engineer their personality to figure out their zodiac sign and from there calculate their birthday. Which then makes me aware that I already specified in Strain that Rhys’ birthday is in the autumn (he says at one point, “I’m nineteen. Well, actually, if it’s getting toward fall, I may be 20 already.”) Which then makes me wonder if I need to change that line if he personality doesn’t work for any of the possible zodiac signs.

This is what it’s like to be in my brain, and why I have such a hard time sometimes actually WRITING, because I get lost in the minutiae that surrounds what I’m trying to write. I really need to find a way to break this habit.

Normally when I have zodiac questions, I go to Leta Blake because she has a lot of knowledge there and I have, like, none. But I figure since I need to write this guest blog post anyway, I can put it before others who might also be knowledgeable about astrology and see if they can help me figure out when my bbs were born. So I’m going to give a brief character profile here, and anyone who comments with suggestions for what their sign is and why will be entered to win a copy of Impulse: The Complete Trilogy.

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Impulse-Trilogy-ecover-600x900Quiet, grounded Detroit handyman Derrick Chance isn’t looking for a relationship. After spending his twenties recovering from a series of tragic losses, he’s content with his insular existence and not interested in risking the possibility of another.

Stylish accountant Gavin Hayes has every reason to avoid entanglements, too. Fresh out of an abusive relationship with a world-class manipulator, he questions whether he’s ever going to be fit for another partner. At the very least, it will be months before he knows just how big an issue his future health will be if he tries again.

But when a series of home repairs unexpectedly turns into an extravagant game of flirtation, they discover that the last thing they thought they wanted is the one thing they can’t live without. As the autumn months pass and they wait for the final verdict on Gavin’s health, the two wounded men learn to open up, to let someone into their lives, and to trust again. But when Gavin’s dangerous ex re-enters the picture, will their new and fragile bond withstand the final test?

So here we go. The character profiles.

RHYS COOPER (Strain): The first character trait we really notice about Rhys is that he has a streak of self-sacrificing nobility. The first time we meet him, he is facing almost certain death in an effort to allow his younger sister and her baby to escape. Living in isolation, hiding out from the plague for nearly a decade, he feels like he really hasn’t experienced life at all, which leads to moments like this:

Rhys giggled madly. He was losing it, he realized. His senses were aflame, singing; his awareness of everything had sharpened to a keen point. His heart raced and his muscles quivered. In those moments before death, he felt more alive than he had in the past seven years. He could almost thank the revenants for smelling so foul, because it made his last breaths into something that actually had an impact.

For one instant, he considered not fighting. Let them kill him. Let his final moment of this delicious sensitivity be the excruciating pain of their teeth rending his flesh.

Rhys has spent the last seven years being so hopelessly bullied and brow-beaten that he doesn’t believe anyone will take his side against his antagonist, so he doesn’t even try to complain about it. But neither is he entirely passive. He sasses back and shows hints of defiance and rebellion, and when pushed too far, he can definitely snap.

He could be considered a bit naive in that he can’t really separate out sex from the need for emotional connection. Even in a situation where casual, impersonal sex is the only pragmatic approach, he resists. He thinks it’s warped. He does it, but it’s not at all comfortable for him and he really doesn’t want to enjoy it. He has also internalized a lot of homophobic shaming over the years, to the point where he feels like he has to prove he’s a decent person by not engaging in loose behavior.

NICOLÁS FERNÁNDEZ (Bane): Nico is a male escort making a career with the escort agency founded by his mother before he was born in states where prostitution has been legalized. As such, he’s suitably shameless. He’s very open, sex-positive, and completely pansexual. He has a strong sense of loyalty, especially as regards his very first client, who has been a lifelong friend and quasi-mentor. But he also has a solid will, and his loyalty ends where the person to whom he’s loyal steps over a certain line. For example, he’s willing to defy his mother/boss when she tries to tell him certain clients won’t be welcomed with the agency anymore, even to the point of threatening to take his client list and walk rather than allow her to dictate what clients he can and can’t take on.

ZACHARIAS HOUTMAN (Bane): Zach is a tie-in to some characters we meet in Strain. He’s the eldest son of a fundamentalist minister leading the charge to stem the “tide of immorality” in an era where the liberal trend of society is driving fundamentalists to more and more desperate extremes. Zach is very sincere in his (less extremist) faith and dutiful; he works as the right-hand-man for his father’s ministry and political campaign even as his own ideology and his father’s drift farther and farther apart.

So there you have it. Three characters I need–at the very least–sun signs for. Additional astrological details will be even more helpful.

For those of you who are interested in the world of the characters I’ve described above, Strain is coming from Riptide Publishing on February 17, 2014.

Strain_500x750Rhys Cooper is a dead man. Cut off from the world since childhood, he’s finally exposed to the lethal virus that wiped out most of the human race. Now his only hope for survival is infection by another strain that might confer immunity. But it’s sexually transmitted, and the degradation he feels at submitting to the entire squad of soldiers that rescued him eclipses any potential for pleasure—except with Darius, the squadron’s respected, capable leader.

Sergeant Darius Murrell has seen too much death and too little humanity. He’s spent a decade putting plague victims out of their misery and escorting survivors to a safe haven he can never enjoy. He’d rather help Rhys live than put him down, so when Rhys can’t reconcile himself to doing what’s necessary to survive, Darius is forced to save Rhys in spite of himself.

But with each passing day, it looks less and less likely that Rhys can be saved. Which means that soon Darius might have to put a bullet in the head of the one person in years who reminds him of what it means to be human.

Strain is now available for pre-order from Riptide.


Amelia C. Gormley may seem like anyone else. But the truth is she sings in the shower, dances doing laundry, and writes blisteringly hot m/m erotic romance while her son is at school. When she’s not writing in her Pacific Northwest home, Amelia single-handedly juggles her husband, her son, their home, and the obstacles of life by turning into a everyday superhero. And that, she supposes, is just like anyone else. Her self-published Impulse Trilogy is available through Amazon, AllRomanceEbooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Itunes, and other retailers. Her Highland historical romance The Laird’s Forbidden Lover, and The Professor’s Rule, her contemporary erotica series co-written with Heidi Belleau, are also available through Riptide.

You can contact Amelia on TwitterFacebookGoodReads, or contact her by email using the form on her About Page.

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A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week, The Joyful Approach

Here’s A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week!



Well, folks, we’ve got another exciting and giveaway filled week ahead, as well as some great reviews to share. This is a week you’re most definitely not going to want to miss!

Included in the Joyful Approach Countdown to GayRomLit fun will be:




>> Monday: Amelia C. Gormley
>> Tuesday: Marguerite Labbe
>> Wednesday: Rick R. Reed
>> Thursday: Poppy Dennison
>> Friday: Jade Buchanan


>> We’ll also have graphic artist A.J. Corza (from GotYouCovered) here on Wednesday with her weekly Top Cover Pick.


But that’s not all! The giveaways continue on into the weekend:

>> Saturday: Santino Hassell visits on his After Midnight Blog Tour
>> Sunday: J.H. Trumble will be our guest on her Just Between Us Tour

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We hope to see you all in the days ahead. In the meantime, Happy Reading!

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RJ Scott, The Joyful Approach

RJ Scott Is Ready For Atlanta – And She’s Also Ready To Giveaway A Great Prize!

RJS logo large_smallThis year is my first GRL. The whole event has kind of snuck up on me. Don’t get me wrong, I have ordered pens, and little bags, and postcards, and we’ve talked about prizes as giveaways. I’ve spent time talking to Amber and Stephani about our storyteller panel. We even wrote a book each in a trilogy that will be ready for print just before GRL starts. But, it only seems like yesterday that I booked mine and hubby’s places and suddenly we’re a month away.

My nerves have started to kick in a little. The usual stuff, who will want to meet me anyway, what do I say to people when I see them… the concerns of a newbie I guess… I still live in that awkward bubble where half of me can’t believe I’m actually a writer and make a living from it, and the other half keeps smacking me around and demanding I get with the plan.

What I can’t wait to happen: Meeting the authors that I have been chatting to online, talking to the readers who have contacted me to say they want to meet me, quiet times with my friends. I can’t wait to spend time with people who love writing in the genre and where there is absolutely no judgement. I don’t think I will hear someone say to me, *why don’t you write normal stuff*, in the week I am in Atlanta!

What I’m dreading: f****d up sleep patterns, no one coming to my table, saying something stupid (very likely), and a few other things I won’t write down! Self doubt is part of the Writer’s condition… I read that on Tumblr and it’s probably one of the truest things I have read.

I’m excited, and nervous, then excited again. Luckily Texas 4 is taking up my brain power in the next few weeks so I have less thought-space to worry about things. Then, when T4 is off with the editor I will peer over the top of my writer’s cave and suddenly it will only be a couple of days to GRL. Then watch me freak out!

For anyone attending GRL, I kinda like hugs… just saying… :)

Website: http://www.rjscott.co.uk

Email: rj@rjscott.co.uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/author.rjscott

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Rjscott_author

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THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED

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MLR Press, The Joyful Approach, Z. Allora

Z. Allora Brings An Asian Flair To The GayRomLit Countdown, With A Giveaway Of “Made in China: The Great Wall”!

Ni Hao Ma, my Pretties? My name is Z. Allora. I LOVED the GRL last year and can’t wait until this year. The only description that fits the GRL is it is like returning to one’s tribe. No one asks you why you read or write gay romance. The question is, when is your next book coming out, or have you read this book? The acceptance from this fabulous community gave me an overwhelming sense of happiness and joy I’d never felt. I look forward to meeting everyone but because October’s still a ways off, here’s a little about me.

Last year, I moved back to the USA from living six years in China. My husband’s work brings us all over the world and I follow my soulmate to the ends of the earth… quite literally at times. I’ve traveled to twenty-nine countries, lived in four of them, moved thirteen times in twenty-three years and some months I live out of a suitcase. But that’s fine with me because it allows me the opportunity to write. I love sharing the gorgeous men who run around in my head flashing me wicked bouts of sex along with their angst and yearning desire. I write in a more Yaoi-style because sometimes when life is kicking your butt you deserve a bit of sweet sexy braincandy to let you relax. But my real intention is to promote love, equality and romance for all.

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How to reach me:
Z.Allora@yahoo.com
Facebook: Z.Allora Allora (thank you China for freezing Z. Allora when you censored Facebook off the Internet in Chinese)
http://zallora.blogspot.com
http://zallorabooks.com

There’s no gay in China so what’s the drummer of Made in China supposed to do about loving his male best friend when his family thinks he’s engaged to the girl next door?

Jun “Styx” Wong’s heart and mind battle to determine his destiny. His mind tells him to be a good Chinese son and marry the girl his parents chose, but his heart longs for his best friend, Jin, and life with their new band. “Jun” means honesty, but he’s not even honest with himself. A quest to eradicate his feelings for Jin nearly ends his life. Styx’s near death serves as a wake-up call for Jin, whose blond hair–legacy of his German father–marks him as different. Jin harbors secrets of his own. His experiences prepare him to take the drastic measures needed to help Jun overcome the walls surrounding them.

Because there is no gay in China…

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RJ Scott, The Joyful Approach

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes…






No, I’m not suddenly channeling David Bowie, but I am here to announce a bit of a change to the Joyful Approach GayRomLit Countdown Celebration.

Due to unforeseen circumstances, Simone Anderson is unable to appear as our guest on Friday, BUT, never fear because the lovely RJ Scott will be here to help us celebrate and word is she’s bringing along a giveaway, so be sure to stay tuned in and turned on to all the fun!

Cheers!

Lisa, Joyfully Jay, and the TNA and Joyfully Jay Teams

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Kaje Harper, The Joyful Approach

And Now, A Warm Joyful Approach Welcome To Kaje Harper! Giveaway Time!


Kaje Harper, and the guys who live in my head…



“Write-oholic” : /rīt-.ə-ˈhȯ-lik/ – a person who looks at anything, no matter how simple or mundane, and immediately has characters leaping up inside their head, saying, “That’s me, my story, write mine…” And who can’t say no to the stories. Like this one:

Uke

Carson sat right there on the sidewalk, leaned his forehead against the rough concrete pillar of the bridge rail, and looked down at the water. This bridge wasn’t very high, and he could see occasional leaves and debris floating past on the lazy river below him. He nudged his elbow against his front pocket. The envelope in there no longer crackled crisply. Two months of rubbing had worn it thin, but he knew perfectly well what it contained.

Fifty-seven dollars. The price of a one way bus fare back to Des Moines. His father had tucked it into his jacket pocket, back in June, standing outside the bus station.

“You know this is crazy, don’t you, boy? You and that damned ukulele will be coming home flat broke in no time at all, with all the shine rubbed off those big city ideas.”

Carson had kicked his duffel bag and refused to meet his father’s eyes, for fear the old man might read the truth of just how scared and how desperate he was – desperate to be gone, and terrified that his father was right. His worst nightmare was that he’d come back a failure and squeeze himself down to a dry, brown, little life in his home town. The hometown where he’d never had the courage to even look at another boy, let alone stand up and tell his old man…

“Not that I’m sayin’ you’re not good with that thing. Hell, if you’d put the time in on a regular guitar, well, you’d still have a snowball’s chance in hell of making it big, but it wouldn’t look as dumb.”

“Thanks, Dad.” He hefted his bag onto his shoulder, and carefully picked up the uke case. Everyone and his brother played guitar. He had a unique sound. He straightened his back and forced down all his self doubts. He didn’t need his dad’s words to make his faith in himself go weak at the knees, but it was now or never. His brother was working at the feed store, his sister had two toddlers – they were never leaving. Carson had to get out. “I’ll try not to look too dumb.”

“I didn’t mean nothin’ by it. Just… Here, boy.”His father had held out the envelope. “There’s bus fare in there. You keep that safe, remember you’re always welcome back home.”

“No matter what?” His voice was strained, the truth he wanted to ask straining to escape.

“No matter.” His father’s intense stare almost gave him the courage to say the words, but in the end he’d stood silent as his father tucked the money into his pocket, gave his shoulder a slap, and strode off to his truck. No backward looks, but when the bus pulled out of the station, he saw that beat-up light-blue pickup still parked in the lot, where his father could watch him go.

Now the money he’d saved all through high school for his escape was gone. Two months of nothing but odd jobs and occasional gigs, and he was down to four dollars and change in his back pocket. And that envelope. Fifty seven dollars was two nights in the cheapest motel he’d found, where the roaches were big enough to carry away your sandwich if you took your eye off it. Two days to see if that bartender at Click meant it when she said, “You have a unique sound. Let me talk to the manager.” Or two days to burn through his last chance to go home without having to beg for more money from his father. He’d probably get the money, but he wasn’t sure his pride would let him ask.

Stay or go. He’d almost come to this once before, and then picked up a last-minute job that had refilled his reserve for a week. But now he had nothing in sight but that vague hint from the woman at the bar.

Really, he should just go home. His dad was right – a lot of venues looked at his uke and laughed. Others didn’t want him because he was under twenty-one and they were worried about their liquor license. If they gave him a chance to play, he usually had them caught enough to listen for a while, but so far that mostly got him regretful headshakes at the end of the audition. He’d made some money busking on the streets, but the cops had warned him twice, and nearly arrested him the third time. He couldn’t afford that.

He should just go home. That other hope that he’d left with – the thought that maybe outside of his small hometown he’d have the nerve to find a boyfriend – that hadn’t really worked out well either. He’d had a few experiences, anonymous and hurried, mostly hands, one glorious time a guy’s skilled mouth. But it was just sex, with no connection, better than jerking off, but not the shiny hope he’d left home and family for.

Stay or go?

He stood up, dusted his jeans off, and pulled out the envelope, feeling the thin stack of bills inside. The corners curled limply under his fingers. He tapped it on the railing, the soft shush of the paper on concrete a rhythm for his heart to beat to. Stay. Or. Go? Stay. Or. Go?

Behind him car tires squealed and a horn blasted. He jumped and lost his grip on the envelope. It sailed out of his hand, over the side, and dropped into the water. Instinctively he lunged forward over the rail, grabbing for it.

A voice yelled, “Shit! Stop!” His T-shirt suddenly dug into his neck as he was grabbed from behind.

Carson dropped back to his heels on the sidewalk, and tried to turn around. The hard grip in the back of his shirt released slowly, and he was able to pivot enough to see his captor.

The guy was about Cason’s age, skinnier despite Carson’s recent piss-poor diet, shorter, dressed in skin tight jeans and T-shirt that looked deliberate, not just outgrown. He frowned at Carson, blue eyes under dark brows looking disproportionately angry.

“You fucking idiot. It’s too shallow for that. Unless you manage somehow to break your neck, you’re going to just get hauled back out in worse shape than you went in. Believe me, that’d suck. There are better bridges for it, if you must.”

“If what?” Carson glanced over the rail, at the brown river where his last money had sunk out of sight. Then he figured it out. “Oh. Shit. I wasn’t trying to jump. I dropped something.”

“Oh.” The other guy’s gaze held his for a moment. There was something odd in his eyes. Entreaty? Disappointment? Before Carson could identify it, he’d turned away.

Carson should have just let him go, but there was a dejected set to the guy’s shoulders that made him step forward and say, “Thanks, though. Really. Just ’cause I wasn’t trying to off myself doesn’t mean I couldn’t have fallen. This rail’s pretty fucking low for a bridge.”

“Because this bridge is safe.” But the guy nodded. “No problem. My good deed for the day. It helps to keep going, knowing I did something fucking useful for someone.”

They stood looking at each other. For some reason, Carson felt like every detail of this guy was being burned into his memory – the way his dark hair curled over his ears, the line of his thin arms and chest under the thin grey cotton T, the blue of his eyes, a pale shade like overwashed denim right before it falls apart. Maybe it was the adrenaline, although he hadn’t really been that close to falling. Maybe it was the loss of those last fifty-seven dollars. Whatever the reason, Carson felt as if the beat of pulse in the guy’s neck echoed inside his own chest. He said, “I’m Carson Anders.”

“Delaney. My friends called me Del.”

Carson almost asked about the ”called” part of that, but there was a coolness to Del’s expression that didn’t invite questions. He sighed. “So. My last fifty bucks just went into the river. Any ideas how I can make more?”

Del tilted his head, lips pressed in a thin line. “No. Not for you.”

“Not for me what?”

Del shrugged, a minimum twitch of one shoulder. “You’re young and cute. You could easily get someone to pay you to suck his cock. But it ain’t worth it. Start down that road, and one day you’ll know how high all the bridges are too. You don’t want to be the one to stand there and decide which one you’re going to cross today.”

“Like you do?”

“Yeah.” Delaney’s gaze defied him to make something of it.

Carson sighed. “I don’t know what to do now.” He normally would have died before admitting that out loud, but he felt like Del was an inch from walking away, and if asking for help would keep him around a bit longer, he’d swallow his fucking pride and ask. “Got no money, no place to stay. I might have a job in two days, but there’s sleeping and eating.”

Del grunted. “Two days’re nothing. It’s summer. Sleeping out is easy. You can panhandle a couple of bucks for MacDonald’s.”

“I guess.”

“You could pawn something. Got anything worth it in the pack? Or that case?”

“The pack’s just dirty clothes. This…” He unsnapped the latch on the ukulele case, to show off his baby.

“What’d you do? Put your guitar through a shrink cycle?”

“It’s a ukulele.”

“A fucking uke? Like that Hawaiian Elvis thing? Jesus, that’s retirement home music.”

“Not the way I play it.” He took her out of the case. The wood was smooth under his fingers and he stroked a string. Why not. What the fucking else did he have to do right now? A touch of tuning and he started to play. His voice wasn’t perfect, but it fit the tone of his baby perfectly, and the compositions were his own. He didn’t watch Del as he played. The guy might stay, or go. It was in the hands of fate.

He was startled almost out of his song-trance by the ring of coins at his feet as a woman passed by, with a nod and a smile. He managed to keep his chords true, though. Del was apparently still there, because he bent and opened up the instrument case, and dropped the coins inside on the dark lining. “Keep playing, moron.”

Carson played. If this was going to be his last big city concert, he was going out with all his favorites, given to this wide slow river, and the short intense guy with blue eyes who stood listening. He played until his voice was hoarse and his fingers cramped. And then he stopped, and looked at Del.

“Okay. So that wasn’t too fucking rocking-chair-set.” Del bent to inspect the money that had accumulated. There weren’t a lot of pedestrians on these downtown bridges, but several had dropped bills. Del said, “Nine bucks and change. Not too freaking bad. You could eat decent for that.”

Carson put his instrument down carefully in the top, and scooped the money out of the case. Without looking at Del, he said, “Or a couple of guys could do something.”

There was a silence. When he finally looked up, Del’s eyes were on him, cautious but interested. “I ain’t blowing you for nine bucks.”

“I don’t want you to.” That was a lie, because when Del said blowing you, every nerve in Carson’s body came alive with approval. But even more, he wanted to prolong this strange moment. “I was thinking Arby’s for two.”

“Food is good.”

“I still don’t know where to sleep. I might have to hock the uke to pay for a room.”

Del laughed. In that moment, Carson was happier than he’d ever been, to have made this man laugh that way, head back, eyes bright and open.

“The hell you will,” Del said. “That’s a money-maker, that is.”

“I don’t want to get busted for busking. Again.”

“I know these streets like my own fucking dick. I’ll show you where it’s safe.”

“Like a manager for street musicians?”

“With one client?”

“It’s a start,” Carson said, more firmly than he felt.

They eyed each other, in the bright August sun on that concrete bridge.

“Yeah,” Del said softly. “It could be a start.”

Carson shouldered his pack, and carefully lifted the uke case, gentle with the handle that sometimes unhooked. “Come on. I want curly fries. And a conference with my new manager.”

“You know I know sweet fuck-all about music, right?”

“Well, I know sweet fuck-all about this city. I need a native guide. I figure we can be good for each other.”

Carson held his breath, waiting for Del’s reply. Held his breath, held it, held it.

And let it out in a soft sigh, when Del said, “Shit, why not. I love those fucking curly fries.”

****

Hi. My name is Kaje Harper, and I’m a write-oholic.

I thought this series of blogs was a great idea – to have a bunch of authors line up posts, in the approach to GayRomLit… until I realized I’d have to actually write the thing. Blogging has never been my forte. I wanted to say hi and won’t GRL be fun, and are you looking forward to it too? But after that?

I could tell you about me, but I’ve done enough basic interviews now and I was never that interesting to begin with. Many of you already know that I’m old enough that my first stories were typed on a portable typewriter; that I’ve been published for a couple of years now; that I’ve been luckier than I deserve in the reception my stories have received.

Nothing new there. Nothing worth a whole separate blog post. So I did what we all do – I whined to a friend. ”Edmond, I don’t know what to wriiiite!”

Edmond is a fellow writer, a man whose first book I adored, even before I met him and found out he’s funny and sweet and the kind of guy who will actually try to come up with ideas. Being who he is, the ideas might be off the wall, and involve costumes and imagination, and in my case end up embarrassingly flat. I don’t have his gift with the absurd. But he’d try.

Eventually he suggested he could at least send me some interview questions I might not have answered before. And he did. I read them, snickered, said, “No.” and “Hell, no.”

He also sent a few basic ones; What’s the best thing about GayRomLit? – All the wonderful people, and the feeling of being among friends, where two guys kissing in the hallway are either ignored or applauded.

What’s the worst thing about GRL? – All the wonderful people, who are loud and enthusiastic and make my social anxiety get up and do tap dances in my gut.

He sent a few unfamiliar ones: Name two things you always buy at the grocery store and never end up using before it goes bad or gets shoved in the back of the cabinet. – Say what? Anyway, my husband cooks and he is way more organized than I’ll ever be. Other than the pineapple juice that I forgot he’s allergic to, I don’t think we have that stuff.

And Edmond also asked, A man comes to your home and says, “Kaje, I’ll give you $_________ but you can never write another book or story ever again. How much is that dollar amount? That got me thinking about just how much writing is part of my daily life. Stories pop into my head all the time. If that hypothetical guy paid me a million dollars, I could stand not putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) ever again, even though my stories are better when I write them down. That much money would set up my kids for a long time, after all, and be worth it. But if he wanted to stop the stories that roll out in my mind, unspooling complete with dialog and scene setting and all, he’d have to use the money for a frontal lobotomy. I’ve never not made up stories. I’ll never be able to stop.

As a kid, those first books were girl-gets-a-pony stories. Then I moved on to romances, which quickly went M/M. When I was fourteen and fifteen, that meant notebooks full of slash fiction, with teen-girl-no-internet fade to black sex scenes. This was forty years ago, remember. (Yeah, I’m that old.) I sat on my bed with a pencil, and made Starsky grab Hutch for that first unexpected kiss, made Frank Hardy explain to his brother Joe that he had a boyfriend, let Robin grow up enough to show Batman that he didn’t have to be so alone. And then there were Kirk and Spock…

I worked for realism, well, mostly. These might be fantasy love stories, but I wanted to believe them. Starsky and Hutch had issues as they tried to be both cops and lovers. Batman thought Robin was too young and inexperienced, and decided to be noble, and Alfred was not immediately onboard with the romance. The possibilities spun out in any free quiet moment I ever had. And after a while, my own original characters set up residence, living lives of adventure, change, loss and pain, but ending in love.

And there’s no way to turn that off.

So in the end, I decided to start this blog post with a short story, because that’s what I do. Who I am.

I’m excited about Gay Rom Lit. I look forward (with anxiety, but forward) to answering questions about why I put the depressing story line of a Mom with Alzheimer’s front and center in Sole Support or how Nor Iron Bars a Cage became a 103,000 word freebie instead of a short story. I look forward to hearing from other writers, learning from them, and meeting both familiar names and new faces from the M/M world. But at the end of the day, I’ll go home and write some more fictional guys. That’s not just what I do, it’s who I have always been. See you there.

Sole Support cover

Nor Iron Bars cover

-Kaje Harper

****

THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED

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Jordan L. Hawk, The Joyful Approach

Wanna Know What Jordan L. Hawk Wants To Talk About? Hint: It’s Spicy… And There’s A Giveaway!!




Let’s talk about sex!

Some writers hate to write sex scenes, and others can’t wait to get to the naughty scenes. As for me, I’m firmly in the second camp. I love writing sex scenes, not just because sex is awesome in and of itself, but because I believe showing how your characters approach sex can truly deepen and enrich a book.

When it comes to planning (because I’m nothing if not a plotter), I approach sex scenes as I would any other conversation between the characters. What are they trying to express to one another? Is it something they might never be able to say aloud, or just a reaffirmation of what the other person already knows? It can be something simple and straightforward: “I want you.” “I care about you.” Or more complex: “I’m afraid you’ll leave me.” “Nothing in my life feels real except this.” “You’re mine and I won’t share you with anyone else.”

There’s a complicated language which develops organically between each couple, and everything from what sort of sex they choose to have (frottage, oral, anal), to which partner is giving or receiving (if applicable) expresses something specific.

Similarly, it’s worth noting when a character can’t sustain the mood and ends up not having sex. Rare in the romance genre, I know! But it can be a powerful way of showing a character’s sorrow, or how neurotically freaked out he is over being compared to an ex, or whatever other emotion needs to be conveyed.

The amount of realism in sex scenes is an ongoing debate among fiction writers (and readers). Given I’m writing about zombies, ghosts, vampires, and other assorted fantastic beasties, should I feel compelled to include condoms, for instance?

I think the answer to this varies from writer to writer. As with so much, there is no “right” answer here. For me, I’m already asking the reader to suspend their disbelief with the paranormal aspects. Therefore, I feel I need to make an effort not to jar them out of the story with the ordinary aspects. Not to mention, how conscientious a character is (or isn’t) about condoms can say something about him. Not to mention it gives me an excuse to turn up the heat if they both test safe and are now free to do it bareback. ;)

On the other hand, when it comes to stories set in historic eras, like Widdershins and Threshold, I’m more than content to just assume Griffin got extremely lucky. I’ve yet to have anyone write me and complain he isn’t riddled with syphilis or other (at the time) incurable STDs. It might not be realistic, but that’s simply not what the story is about.

As for realism in other aspects, well, you may have gathered I’m very sex-positive, so more than anything what I want to do is show the characters having a good time in a way that will satisfy the reader. I figure I put my poor characters through hell, so I can at least give them a great time in bed to balance everything out.

So what’s your opinion on sex scenes, readers? Writers, how do you approach them in your work?

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THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED

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