Giveaways, The Year In Reviews

Simply The Best 2014: Round Four – The Year In Reviews and a Giveaway

2014

Hi, everyone!

We are thisclose to the end of our best of the best selections for this year. In case you missed the earlier selections, Sammy’s and Tina’s can be found HERE, Jackie’s, Lana’s, and Jules’ can be found HERE, and Lynn’s and Chris’s HERE.

Since Kim and Kathie are the audio connoisseurs in our group, today’s feature are their top picks in the audiobook category, and guess what? TNA is going to give you the chance to win TWO of the listed titles. And guess what else? If you’re selected as the winner, you get to choose which titles you’d like in either audio or e-book format. Continue reading

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Giveaways, The Year In Reviews

Simply The Best 2014 – Round Two: The Year In Reviews And A Giveaway

2014

Hi, everyone, we’re back again with the second round of our Best of the Best (be sure to check out Sammy’s and Tina’s lists HERE), and another chance for you to win e-copies of THREE of the titles selected by Jackie, Lana, and Jules, winner’s choice! THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED Continue reading

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Amy Lane, Coastal Magic Convention

Coastal Magic Convention: An Interview With Featured Author Amy Lane

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In the ongoing countdown to Coastal Magic Convention in February, our very own Lynn interviews Amy Lane. Take it away, Lynn!

Lynn: Amy, when did you first start writing?

Amy: I was five and in the house alone. I ranged my stuffed animals around me in a semi-circle and set about telling them the story of two princesses. They were not impressed, but I was hooked. Continue reading

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5 Stars, Amy Lane, Historical Romance, Holiday Romance, Reviewed by Jules, Riptide Publishing

Review: The Bells of Times Square by Amy Lane

Title: The Bells of Times Square

Author: Amy Lane

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 236 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Every New Year’s Eve since 1946, Nate Meyer has ventured alone to Times Square to listen for the ghostly church bells he and his long-lost wartime lover vowed to hear together. This year, however, his grandson Blaine is pushing Nate through the Manhattan streets, revealing his secrets to his silent, stroke-stricken grandfather. Continue reading

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Amy Lane, Riptide Publishing

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Bells of Times Square Blog Tour With Amy Lane

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Hi, and welcome to the blog tour for The Bells of Times Square!  This book is close to my heart — if you read the extra front and back matter in the story, you will see that I drew inspiration from my grandparents and their roles in WWII.  There was a lot of research involved here and also an unusual romance.  I hope you enjoy this stop on the tour, and don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter below for the giveaway of a $10 Riptide Store Credit and a signed copy of The Bells of Times Square! Feel free to comment, or to contact me at any of my links below–I’d love to hear from you! Continue reading

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5 Stars, Amy Lane, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Tina

Review: Beneath the Stain: Parts Six and Seven by Amy Lane

Title: Beneath the Stain: Parts Six and Seven

Author: Amy Lane

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 350 Pages (Full Series)

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: In a town as small as Tyson, CA, everybody knew the four brothers with the four different fathers—and their penchant for making good music when they weren’t getting into trouble. For Mackey Sanders, playing in Outbreak Monkey with his brothers and their friends—especially Grant Adams—made Tyson bearable. But Grant has plans for getting Mackey and the Sanders boys out of Tyson, even if that means staying behind. Continue reading

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5 Stars, Amy Lane, Drama, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Tina

Review: Beneath the Stain (Part Five) by Amy Lane

Title: Beneath the Stain (Part Five)

Author: Amy Lane

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 95 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Mackey is great at taking a leap of faith into a crowd—but taking one into a relationship and a future is a totally different animal. When he and Trav decide to take a risk that Mackey’s healing can hold up to them together, they know it’s going to be a long, difficult road. Mackey proves he can handle the stress of performing on his own, but when it comes to the demons that broke him in the first place, that’s a whole other song.

The first time Mackey tries to go home, it sends him into a palm-sweating, stomach-heaving anxiety attack, and Trav has to concede that Mackey is still on loan from the things that almost wrecked him when he was still a kid. When news arrives that affects the entire band, Mackey can either go home and face his demons or let them haunt them forever. Continue reading

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5 Stars, Amy Lane, Drama, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Tina

Review: Beneath the Stain: Parts Three and Four by Amy Lane

Title: Beneath the Stain: Parts 3 and 4

Author: Amy Lane

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: Serial Novel

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: In a town as small as Tyson, CA, everybody knew the four brothers with the four different fathers– and their penchant for making good music when they weren’t getting into trouble. For Mackey Sanders, playing in Outbreak Monkey with his brothers and their friends—especially Grant Adams–made Tyson bearable. But Grant has plans for getting Mackey and the Sanders boys out of Tyson, even if that means staying behind. Continue reading

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5 Stars, Amy Lane, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Tina

Review: Beneath the Stain (Parts One and Two) by Amy Lane

“I did not expect this,” he said, so startled he found the word/rhythm place without thinking. “That the person in my skin was so plain to someone else, I didn’t expect it. How is it that you can see the guy I’ve hidden mostly from myself?”– Amy Lane


Title: Beneath the Stain: Parts One and Two

Author: Amy Lane

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 95 and 71 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb – Part One: In one breath of shotgunned pot smoke, Grant Adams breaks every taboo Mackey knows—and Mackey refuses to look back. In the shadows of their small town, Mackey and Grant carry on a precocious affair under the noses and behind the backs of girlfriends, parents, and overprotective older brothers. When Mackey’s band finally has a chance to make it big, Mackey and Grant are put to the test.

And fail miserably. Continue reading

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5 Stars, Amy Lane, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Kathie

Amy Lane’s “Behind the Curtain” Gets A Recommended Listen – Narrated by Hugh Bradley

“I thought you liked sex?”

“I do, but I want you to come back. You can get more, better sex with anyone. But you can only get the whole Dawson experience when you’re here.” – Amy Lane


Title: Behind the Curtain

Author: Amy Lane

Narrator:: Hugh Bradley

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 8 Hours

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Blurb: Dawson Barnes recognizes his world is very small and very charmed. Running his community college theater like a petty god, he and his best friend, Benji, know they’ll succeed as stage techs after graduation. His father adores him, Benji would die for him, and Dawson never doubted the safety net of his family, even when life hit him below the belt.

But nothing prepared him for falling on Jared Emory’s head. Continue reading

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5 Stars, Amy Lane, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Reviewed by Jules

Jules Recommends You Give A Listen To Amy Lane’s “Going Up!” – Narrated By Paul Woodson


Title: Going Up!

Author: Amy Lane

Narrator:: Paul Woodson

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 2 Hours, 39 Minutes

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Every dreary day, Zach Driscoll takes the elevator from the penthouse apartment of his father’s building to his coldly charmed life where being a union lawyer instead of a corporate lawyer is an act of rebellion. Every day, that is, until the day the elevator breaks and Sean Mallory practically runs into his arms.
Continue reading

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5 Stars, Amy Lane, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Reviewed by Traci

Sean Crisden’s Narration Makes Amy Lane’s “Ethan in Gold” A Must Have – Reviewed by Traci


“Dare to love yourself as if you were a rainbow with gold at both ends.” ― Aberjhani


Title: Ethan in Gold (Johnnies: Book Three)

Author: Amy Lane

Narrator:: Sean Crisden

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 10 Hours, 46 Minutes

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Evan Costa learned from a very early age that there was no such thing as unconditional love and that it was better to settle for what you could get instead of expecting the world to give you what you need. As Ethan, porn model for Johnnies, he gets exactly what he wants – comradeship and physical contact on trade -and he is perfectly satisfied with that. He’s sure of it.
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Amy Lane, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Reviewed by Traci

Sean Crisden’s Narration Is Perfection In Amy Lane’s “Dex in Blue” – Reviewed by Traci


“Love is not pain. Love is goodness. And real love–it’s less shiny than solid and simple.” ― Deb Caletti


Title: Dex in Blue (Johnnies: Book Two)

Author: Amy Lane

Narrator:: Sean Crisden

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 10 Hours, 28 Minutes

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Ten years ago David Worral had plans to go to college and the potential for a beautiful future in front of him. One tragic accident later, he fled to California and reinvented himself as Dex, top porn model of Johnnies.
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5 Stars, Amy Lane, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Reviewed by Traci

Sean Crisden’s Narration Of “Chase in Shadow” Is Pitch-Perfect And A Must Listen – Reviewed by Traci


“It’s so hard to forget pain, but it’s even harder to remember sweetness. We have no scar to show for happiness. We learn so little from peace.” ― Chuck Palahniuk


Title: Chase In Shadow (Johnnies #1)

Author: Amy Lane

Narrator:: Sean Crisden

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 9 hours, 39 minutes

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Chase Summers: Golden boy. Beautiful girlfriend, good friends, and a promising future.
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Amy Lane, Dreamspinner Press, Rhys Ford

Surviving The Alpaca Roller Coaster – Amy Lane Knows What It All Means – And There’s A Giveaway!



Rhys Ford knows what it means too, considering she’s the one who’s orchestrated this spontaneous little venture in celebration of Blackbird Knitting in a Bunny’s Lair, the latest book in Amy’s Granby Knitting Series. So, in celebration of Amy Lane’s miraculous survival of the treacherous San Diego roads, cliffs and driveways while in search of the elusive alpaca farm in the sage-laden desert hills, she’s offering the chance for TWO lucky readers to win a $25 gift card to the etailer of your choice!

THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED
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5 Stars, Amy Lane, Dreamspinner Press, Reviewed by Lisa

Amy Lane’s “Blackbird Knitting in a Bunny’s Lair” Gives A Man Someone To Call Home


“Happiness is a warm blanket.” – Charles Schulz


Title: Blackbird Knitting in a Bunny’s Lair

Author: Amy Lane

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 244 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: After three years of waiting for “rabbit” Jeremy to commit to a life in Granby—and a life together—Aiden Rhodes was appalled when Jeremy sustained a nearly fatal beating to keep a friend out of harm’s way. How could Aiden’s bunny put himself in danger like that?

Continue reading

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Amy Lane, Dreamspinner Press, Reviewed by Jackie

Amy Lane Delivers All The “Shiny!” – Reviewed by Jackie


“Bad luck makes good stories.” ― Bernard Evslin


Title: Shiny!

Author: Amy Lane

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Will Lafferty and Kenny Scalia are both having sort of a day. Will gets fired for letting fifth graders read Harry Potter, and Kenny finds his boyfriend and his sex toys in bed with a complete stranger. When Will knocks over Kenny’s trash can—and strews Kenny’s personal business all over the street—it feels like the perfect craptastic climax to the sewage of suckage that has rained down on them both.
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Amy Lane, Dreamspinner Press, Ellis Carrington, Jaime Samms, Mary Calmes, Poppy Dennison, Rhys Ford

Mary Calmes Is Owning Up To A Not So Secret Secret, And There’s A Giveaway


I used to protest and say, oh no, I don’t write that many policemen. It didn’t seem like a lot, not really. But as I was counting the other day, I realized how ridiculous that I’m sounding lately. Sam Kage, Duncan Stiel, Pete Lomax, Dante Cerreto, Jerrit Troy and Frost Ramsey, Raza Bashandi, Frank Corrigan, Kevin Chaney, and the two marshals I just finished writing. It has moved past a one-off and become a thing. I feel like I should go to a support group or something.

“Hello, my name is Mary Calmes, I write law enforcement type guys.”

And why is that?

I’ve tried to sit and think, what is it about lawmen that does it for me? First, I decided to ask my friends:


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Amy Lane: I love lawmen in books because they are an opposable force. Their world view locks down the possibilities of the world around them. They’re order imposed on chaos. But since their lovers are often chaos, they are forced to change as characters and so are their mates. Also, since much of the chaos is bad, they’re forced to keep their mates safe. They’re like a walking bank safe strolling through a tornado. If they don’t learn some flexibility, they will hurt their mates against their adamantium walls. If they don’t maintain their strength, the forces of evil will hurt them and their beloveds. And at the center of the safe is a very delicate eggshell, holding a live beating heart.


Jaime Samms: Well, I’ll tell you what does it for me about cops, marshals, private investigators and bodyguards: it’s that they are very “me Tarzan, you mine.” They truly believe themselves to be invincible, and that makes them heroic.

Poppy Dennison: For me, law enforcement romance heroes represent the American dream. I love a good Good Guy, one who will keep you safe and make sure no one messes with what’s his. They’re really swoon worthy!

Rhys Ford: Because there’s nothing sexier than a bad boy on the right side of the law.

Ellis Carrington: Law enforcement professionals are taught to carry themselves with a commanding presence, and that added air of authority and confidence is sexy as well as magnetic. Plus, the uniforms are damn hot.


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I think about the all the amazing lawmen I’ve read; Tere Michaels’ Evan Cerelli and Matt Haight, as well as Jim Shea; Rhys Ford’s Kane Morgan and his brother Conner, the SWAT commander; Dani Alexander’s Austin Glass; or Brooke McKinley’s Miller Sutton. I definitely have a thing for policemen, and I think more than anything it’s about the weight of the job. Day after day, they have to make life and death decisions. Sometimes big, sometime small, but all of those have to try and be made taking into consideration what’s best for everyone. Since a true alpha takes care of the whole and the many and not the one and the few, it’s a heavy responsibility to bear. So perhaps the similarity to an alpha is where the lure lies.

My new book Floodgates was released March 3rd, and of course, there’s a lawman.

Here’s the blurb:



Tracy Brandt considers himself a lucky man. He has a wonderful family, good friends, and a dependable job. His love life, however, features a cheating ex who, though out of the house, is not yet out of the picture—with a past that just might get Tracy killed.

Homicide inspector Cord Nolan wants nothing more than to show his best friend’s little brother that he’s a reliable man, but to do that he’ll have to get Tracy to look past the player he used to be. It’ll be a tough sell; reputation is everything, and Cord’s is tarnished by his past indiscretions.

Tracy and Cord have spent five years trying to suffocate their fiery attraction under a blanket of grudging antagonism. When Tracy finds himself with a target on his back, Cord finally has the chance to ride to the rescue and break through the dam of Tracy’s reserve. But he’d better be careful: if Cord is breaking the floodgates to wash away the past, he’s going to have to hold tight to Tracy to make sure they’re still standing when the tumult recedes.

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THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED

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Amy Lane, Dreamspinner Press

It’s A Fair Amount Of Hard Work Falling In Love “Behind the Curtains”


“When I am lonely for boys, it’s their bodies I miss. I study their hands lifting the cigarettes in the darkness of the movie theaters, the slope of a shoulder, the angle of a hip. Looking at them sideways I examine them in different lights. My love for them is visual: that is the part of them I would like to possess.” – Margaret Atwood


Title: Behind the Curtain

Author: Amy Lane

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 266

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Dawson Barnes recognizes his world is very small and very charmed. Running his community college theater like a petty god, he and his best friend, Benji know they’ll succeed as stage techs after graduation. His father adores him, Benji would die for him, and Dawson never doubted the safety net of his family, even when life hit him below the belt.
Continue reading

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Amy Lane, Dreamspinner Press

It’s Love In An Elevator In Amy Lane’s “Going Up”


“We sometimes encounter people, even perfect strangers, who begin to interest us at first sight, somehow suddenly, all at once, before a word has been spoken.” — Fydor Dostoevsky



Title: Going Up

Author: Amy Lane

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 94

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Every dreary day, Zach Driscoll takes the elevator from the penthouse apartment of his father’s building to his coldly charmed life where being a union lawyer instead of a corporate lawyer is an act of rebellion. Every day, that is, until the day the elevator breaks and Sean Mallory practically runs into his arms.

Substitute teacher Sean Mallory is everything Zach is not—poor, happy, and goofily charming. With a disarming smile and a penchant for drama, Sean laughs his way into Zach’s heart one elevator ride at a time. Zach would love to get to know Sean better, but first he needs the courage to leave his ivory tower and face a relationship that doesn’t end at the “Ding!”
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Amy Lane, Riptide Publishing

In Which Amy Lane Throws A Little “Christmas Kitsch” Your Way



“I love Christmas. A time to slow down and enjoy life and be with my family and friends. In busy years, it keeps me sane. In bad years, it makes me feel whole again.”– Mary Jo Putney


You can’t go wrong with Amy Lane. No matter what the season or reason, she seems to always get it right, in my humble opinion. Most Christmas stories are short stories or maybe novella length. Amy Lane had the guts and talent to write a full-length novel out of her Christmas story. And it is excellent.

Russell (Rusty) Baker is a poor little rich boy. Blonde and beautiful, he is a star football player in high school and seems to have it all. He has an air of entitlement and is oblivious to anything that isn’t in his immediate surroundings. Until Oliver Campbell comes to class. Oliver is out and proud. He is the opposite of everything Rusty is. Oliver is smart, confident and knows what he wants.
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Amy Lane, Dreamspinner Press

Amy Lane Gives Just The Right Touch To “Ethan in Gold”



“Touch has a memory.” – John Keats


Touch is a sense memory, an imprint on the mind and on the skin, a physical and emotional imperative that, if denied over an extended period of time, will cause a boy to grow into a man who craves it so desperately he is willing to seek it out in the one place he is all but guaranteed it will always be available.

Evan Costa knows the difference between good touch and bad. The bad kind is the one that strips you of all your power; it’s the kind that strips you of your choices and makes you–not the you on the outside but the you on the inside–invisible to the people who are supposed to love you unconditionally and stand by you and see you and let you cling to them when you feel like you can’t stop yourself from falling. The bad touch strips you of your right to say no and to keep safe the part of you that defines who you are, the part that grows upward and outward from the seed of a helpless boy into a young man who so intensely needs to be touched that he doesn’t realize, or trust in, the difference between a loving touch and a touch of forever.

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Amy Lane, Harmony Ink Press

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












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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He remembered that last day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Where are we going?” he asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“He would have hurt Ellyot too—”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED

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Amy Lane, Dreamspinner Press

Sometimes Even Bad Directions Can Lead You To The Right Place

“…Florida laughed, a low, dirty laugh that did something melty to Carson’s insides, … He did not have this reaction to men, oh no he did not. Women made him melty, men made him humpty.” – Amy Lane



I have no idea where Amy Lane pulls these ideas from. She must have so many people running around in her brain that it feels like her own little city in there. Left on St. Truth-be-Well (and what in the world gave her the idea for that title and the malfunction that leads to the title???) is another fine example of her willingness to share some of the brilliance floating around in her head with us, her humble, loyal readers.

Carson O’ Shaughnessy waits table at a restaurant in Chicago. His boss just happens to be a mobster. When Carson reads the owner’s nephew, Stassy’s signals wrong and kisses him in the broom closet all his troubles begin. Stassy takes off for parts unknown and his uncle tasks Carson with finding him and returning him to Chicago.

Credit card charges lead him to the hell-hole known as the Bates Parrot Hotel. It defies description, but Amy Lane is able to give us a mental picture of the place that I’d like to soon forget. When Carson sees one roach too many, he decides he can’t spend the night in the disgusting place, and moves to another hotel.

While eating at a local café, he sees a beautiful young man working there. Dale Arden is wearing cutoffs and flip flops and immediately catches Carson’s eye. Dale has a seductive voice and a bossy streak that affect Carson in ways he’s loathe to admit. Under all that sexiness is a brain and a heart. Both Carson and Dale have been lonely lately. Neither one has attached that word to the feeling that something is missing in their “sex as release only” lives until they meet and fall immediately into bed.

Dale and Carson begin their hunt for Stassy at the hotel room where he is registered. They find a dead man in the bed and Stassy is nowhere to be found. Stassy has found a love of his own and is safely tucked away with him. Now begins the adventure of finding the killer and finding true love.

As always, Amy Lane makes me think and feel and fall in love with her characters. When I finished Left on St. Truth-be-Well, I wanted more. I always want more Amy Lane. She is able to pack so much into a book, yet not make it feel like it is forced. Lost boy, dead body, bad directions from the GPS, mobster uncle, hooker and dirty maintenance guy, love everywhere. Sounds like a lot, right? But Amy Lane makes it all go together when she adds a touch of her very own magic. It not only doesn’t feel forced, or too full, it feels perfect.

Highly recommended.

Reviewed by: Tina

You can buy Left on St. Truth-Be-Well here:

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