A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Here’s a Sneak Peek at the Coming Week

Holiday Sneak Peek

Cheers, everyone, I hope you’ve all enjoyed the long holiday weekend! Welcome and thanks so much for stopping by. We’ve got a great week planned to ring out the old and welcome in the new, including our “Best of” picks for 2015, which, of course, will include some giveaways too.

Here’s what’s on tap for the week ahead!

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Monday – Kicking off our week, we have co-authors Joseph Lance Tonlet and Louis Stevens joining us today to chat about their new book Quillon’s Cove

Today’s Best of 2015 Picks and Giveaway gets under way courtesy of Carrie and Jennifer

Tuesday – We’ll welcome author Amy Rae Durreson today to chat about her new novel Resistance with Carole Cummings in DSP Publications’ Genre Talk

And our second round of the Best of 2015 Picks and Giveaway will come courtesy of Jules and Lana

WednesdayS.A. McAuley joins us again today to chat a bit more about the upcoming new releases in her Borders War series

Round three of our Best of 2015 Picks and Giveaways will be brought to you by Lynn and Maryann

Thursday – Today we welcome authors Katey Hawthorne and Carlin Grant on the tour for their new novel Stronger, Better, Faster, More

And we’ll ring out the year with our final Best of 2015 Picks and Giveaway with Sammy, Sadonna, and yours truly

Friday – And finally, to help us ring in the new, we’ll have author Dianne Hartsock joining us today on the tour for her novel Nicholas

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And that does it for this week. Until next time, happy reading!

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Carole Cummings, DSPP's Genre Talk, Giveaways, Lex Chase

DSP Publications Presents: Genre Talk and a Giveaway with Carole Cummings and Lex Chase

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Wednesday greetings, Awesome Readers! Today here on Genre Talk, we’ve got DSP Publications author Lex Chase stopping by The Novel Approach Reviews as the 7th stop on a 9-part blog tour. So let’s just sit back and let her do all the work. ;)

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Hello Internet! I’m Lex Chase and Carole and Lisa are awesome enough to have me over for Genre Talk! I’m here to share a bit about my upcoming anthology Checkmate Ever After from DSP Publications. It’s a story about the dizzying highs, the terrifying lows, and the creamy middle of disgraced superhero Memphis Rook and his rise to redemption alongside his sidekick/boyfriend Hogarth Dawson. In Hogarth’s happy, perky, way too much caffeine, way to little sleep POV, he relays Rook’s dark and angsty story through the rose-colored glasses of a hyperactive chipmunk.

So, one of the Genre Talk questions that I decided to write an entire post about is “what makes your book different from other m/m books.” I had been filling out the question, but this post ended up falling out.

There is a book of every flavor, and a different reader a connoisseur. Cowboys? Check. Firemen? Check. Cops. Cooks. Spies. Spooks. Sports stars and porn stars.

Welcome to the buffet.

There is nothing wrong with any of those tropes. And Rule #1 of Geekdom is “Don’t Be A Dick.” So many people already write those, and they do it far better than I ever could.

Now, superheroes? That’s my thing. Give me any “Superheroes in [FILL IN THE BLANK]” trope and I eat it up like the fistfuls. I have a hardcore weakness for Superheroes In High School. Don’t judge. My favorite movie of all time with this trope being Disney’s Sky High.

I grew up reading comics, drawing comics, eating, sleeping, and breathing comics. I was once considered a local guru on what was the hottest, what was appropriate for kids, that subtitled anime actually taught reading comprehension and fostered intrest in foreign language. Yes. Really.

But my problem with LGBT representation in comics is…a complicated thing. There was either LGBT slice-of-life stories, which I did rather enjoy. But, I could see that in my own life. So. Eh.

Enter “Gay Superhero” comics. You have guys with packages as large as baseball bats and are a veritable fountain of fluids. Overdrawn muscles, veins upon veins, and perpetual “O” faces. Straight up fap material.

I wanted saving the day. I wanted messages of with great power comes great responsibility. I wanted to see guys that I, you, everyone could look up to. Guys people wanted to cosplay and kids wanted to dress as for Halloween. I wanted heroes. Not a porn star in a cape.

One of the things I love about mainstream comics such as Marvel and DC, these characters being larger than life, they still have very human issues. Issues like infidelity, conflicting political and religious views, dealing with grief, addiction, alcoholism, HIV/AIDs, even rape. These characters appealed to those that didn’t think they had a voice. These characters never failed their readers as the world around them did.

These characters taught us how to pick ourselves up. How to take a stand. And how to fly.

These characters were never meant to be just as dirty as your neighbor’s crusty Penthouses.

That’s where Checkmate Ever After comes in.

It’s my love letter to superheroes and pop culture. From the references to the comedy, the very real human issues, and everything in the middle.

Rook and Garth save the day with heroic deeds, and klutzy misadventures, but never with the “healing power of cock.” Rook and Garth are extraordinary guys living in a world that’s more extraordinary than they are, therefore making them just okay.

It takes the whizz! bang! of shiny flawless superheroes, and injects a dose of reality into them. Rook may be able to bench press a Buick with his pinky, but he still puts on his leather pants one leg at a time. Garth can barely pay his bills and is an utter penny pincher. But they still answer the call to danger without a second thought.

They’re the guys that I want to communicate to readers young and old, you can believe again. That there is good in the world.

So. What makes Checkmate Ever After different from most m/m? Well. There’s no cowboys or firemen. Cops or cooks. Spies or spooks. Sports stars or porn stars. It has two dorky superheroes in love doing the best they can with what they got. It’s got guys living in a larger than life world, and being the voice of those voiceless bullied kids that hid behind comics and sci-fi/fantasy novels. It’s being the voice of those voiceless kids that grew into equally timid voiceless adults.

At it’s core, fun story full of humor and heartbreaking peril. But at the end of the day, I want readers to take away one thing:

You are extraordinary.


Genre: Sci-Fi Superhero Comedy
Length: Novel Anthology
Published: December 15, 2015
Publisher: DSP Publications
ISBN: 978-1-63476-462-9
Buy: Paperback (and get the eBook for free!) or only the eBook

Blurb:

2nd Edition (Books One – Three)

The day disgraced superhero Memphis Rook literally fell into Hogarth Dawson’s lap, you could say it was fate. But the brawny Rook did nearly crush Garth’s pancreas. What started as two ships passing in the night ended on the weirdest adventure of their lives. Together, Rook and Garth form Checkmate, a daring super duo that keeps Axis City safe from a rogue’s gallery of nefarious villains, dastardly masterminds, and a coalition of calamity. Fighting evil wherever it appears-from reality shows to comic book conventions-Checkmate serves up knuckle sandwiches of justice. But by day, they’re a couple of broke losers who can barely afford a burger and navigating a weird thing called a relationship. Ain’t true love grand? Rook and Garth may be in over their heads, and even super heroes fail sometimes, but they’re ready to take a stand when no one else will. Don’t hate the players, because Checkmate owns the game.

1st Edition of Pawn Takes Rook published by Dreamspinner Press, 2013.

1st Edition of Cashing the Reality Check published by Dreamspinner Press, 2013.

1st Edition of Conventional Love published by Dreamspinner Press, 2014.

And the all new fourth novella Miracle in Axis City and bonus short What The Water Gave Me, exclusive to the anthology!


About the Author:

madison_parker_MG_4269-WEBLex Chase once heard Stephen King say in a commercial, “We’re all going to die, I’m just trying to make it a little more interesting.” Now, she’s on a mission to make the world a hell of a lot more interesting.

Weaving tales of cinematic, sweeping adventure-and depending on how she feels that day-Lex sprinkles in high-speed chases, shower scenes, and more explosions than a Hollywood blockbuster. Her pride is in telling stories of men who kiss as much as they kick ass. If you’re going to march into the depths of hell, it better be beside the one you love.

Lex is a pop culture diva, her DVR is constantly backlogged, and unapologetically loved the ending of Lost. She wouldn’t last five minutes without technology in the event of the apocalypse and has nightmares about refusing to leave her cats behind.

She is grateful for and humbled by all the readers. She knows very well she wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them and welcomes feedback.

You can find her in the Intarwebz here:
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LXChase
Twitter: http://twitter.com/Lex_Chase
Tumblr: http://lexiconofkittens.tumblr.com
Instagram: http://instagram.com/lexachase
Site: http://lexchase.com


Who is your superhero? Is it someone fictional? Or someone in your life?

Drop your comment below and click the giveaway banner to enter for a chance to win a 25 USD Amazon Gift Card!


Follow the Checkmate Ever After Tour!

12/1 – Charlie Cochet’s Purple Rose Tea House

12/3 – Tali Spencer

12/5 – Sinfully Gay Romance Book Reviews

12/5 – Erin McRae and Racheline Maltese

12/7 – Aidee Ladnier

12/9 – Genre Talk on The Novel Approach

12/12 – Gaylist Book Reviews

12/15 – Checkmate Ever After Release Day!

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Hey, Genre Talk is now on Facebook! To keep up with all the happenings, and get a glimpse of future fun things, please LIKE our fanpage and JOIN our group. We look forward to seeing you all there!

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The Fine Print:

*Entrants must be 18 years or older to qualify
*Some residency restrictions may apply
*All comments must be relevant to the author’s prompt to be eligible (when applicable)
*The Novel Approach will not be held liable for prize delivery unless otherwise specified
*Void where prohibited by law

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A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Here’s a Sneak Peek at the Coming Week

Sneak Peek

Happy Sunday, fellow book addicts, and welcome back to another sneak peek of what we have in store for you in the week ahead. It’s going to be packed to the hilt with guests, giveaways, and reviews, so without further delay, here’s what’s coming up!

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Monday – Kicking off our week, we’ll be welcoming author Rebecca Cohen on the tour for her new novel He’s Behind You

We’ll also have author Rick R. Reed with us today on the tour for his new romantic thriller The Couple Next Door

Tuesday – Today we’ve got a big day planned, starting with a cover reveal for Lane Hayes’s new novel A Kind of Truth

Then following that, we’ll have author Kate Hill with us to chat about her new novel Blow by Blow

Finally, we’ll be hosting the Home for the Holidays Anthology blog tour with SJ Himes, Jenna Kendrick, Heather C. Leigh, Liv Rancourt, and Felice Stevens

Wednesday – Sticking with the “Big Day” theme, today we kick things off with author Cardeno C. on the audiobook tour for Just What the Truth Is, book five in the Home series

Next, author Silvia Violet joins us on the tour for her new novel Professional Distance

Followed by author JA Rock on The Subs Club blog Tour

And finally, we’ll have another installment in DSP Publications’ “Genre Talk” with Carole Cummings and Lex Chase to look forward to

Thursday – Today kicks off with author Joe Cosentino on the tour for his new Christmas novella A Home for the Holidays

And next up we’ll welcome author LB Gregg on the tour for With This Bling, book three in one of my all-time favorites, the Romano and Albright series

Friday – We have a couple of great guests today; first comes author Cate Ashwood on the tour for her new novel A Forced Silence

Then, author Santino Hassell stops back by on the tour for the second novel in his Five Boroughs series, Sunset Park

Saturday – To close out the week, we’re pleased to be taking part in a very special tour for Pride Publishing’s Racing Hearts Anthology, with contributing author Ethan Stone. All proceeds from the book will be donated to Cancer Research UK and Prospect Hospice in memory of Peter Laybourn, the late husband of Pride editor Sue Laybourn

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And that does it for this week. Until next time, happy reading!

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B.A. Brock, DSPP's Genre Talk, Giveaways

DSP Publications Presents: Genre Talk and a Giveaway with Carole Cummings and B.A. Brock

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Hi, Awesome Readers! Thanks for coming along on this Friday edition of Genre Talk here on The Novel Approach Reviews. Today we’ve got DSP Publications author B. A. Brock here to tell us about his new Fantasy release King of the Storm, and he’s also very generously brought along a giveaway. So put your feet up, grab a cuppa, and follow us!

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tna-dspp--ba brock for 12-04King of the Storm

No one can outrun destiny or the gods.

In Epiro, a kingdom in Greece, Perseus is prophesied to be a great demigod hero and king, with a legacy that will shape the world of Gaia. When he was born, his grandfather exiled him, and his mother brought them to Seriphos, where she created an academy for demigod youth. Perseus trains there and waits for the day when he will be able to take the throne of Argos.

Despite potential future glory, Perseus’s fellow students think he is weak. By the time he reaches manhood, he has given up the hope of having any real friends, until Antolios, a son of Apollo, takes an unexpected interest in him. Perseus and Antolios fall in love, but Antolios knows it cannot last and leaves Seriphos.

Perseus, grief-stricken and lonely, rebels against the Fates, thinking he can avoid the prophecy and live his own life. But when the gods find him, he is thrust into an epic adventure. With his divine powers, he fights gorgons and sea serpents, and battles against his darker nature. Perseus strives to be his own man… but the gods have other plans.

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Carole: So hey, B. A.! Thanks for being here today.

B. A.: Thanks, Carole, for the interview! It’s great to be here.

Carole: We’re very glad to have you, and we’re excited to talk to you about this new release. So let’s start with the obvious—tell us about your genre.

B. A.: King of the Storm is a mythic heroic fantasy, where the mythos is similar to that of Ancient Greece, but takes place on another world, and in another time. What I loved about creating my own world was my ability to use ideas from a variety of sources. I’ve added classic fantasy elements, such as elves and dwarves, I’ve borrowed heavily from myth, and I’ve created beings with powers, similar to something you may find in a role playing game. I even generated stat sheets for my classes and monsters. It was so much fun.

Carole: It sounds it! And considering your sources, this is probably an obvious question, but give us an idea of what to expect so far as love interests and nonheteronormative relationships within the world you’ve built.

B. A.: Although “homosexual” has Greek roots, the Ancient Greeks didn’t use the word as we know it. Perseus isn’t gay as we think of the term, and King of the Storm isn’t a traditional M/M Romance. One of the three main characters is Andromeda, Perseus’s wife.

According to legend, Perseus and Andromeda had nine children, and I kept that aspect of his mythos true in my story. Yes, there are explicit scenes between two men, but there are other dynamics as well, though not as explicit. I’ve become aware that quite a few M/M readers are unnerved by “girly bits” in their fiction, but it would have been bisexual erasure, among other insidious things, to cut them out completely.

Carole: And part of DSPP’s goal is to be inclusive within the Rainbow spectrum, so it sounds like you’re making positive inroads there. :fist bump: So then tell us more about King of the Storm and the world you’ve built for The Godhead Epoch series as a whole.

B. A.: The world of The Godhead Epoch isn’t our Earth, so while there are strong mythic themes, the technology isn’t that of Ancient Greece, and there are races and magic not seen during that time, including more modern language. Perseus resembles our hero from legend, but he isn’t that hero.

Carole: King of the Storm is being published through DSP Publications, Dreamspinner Press’s imprint for nonromance genre novels. Tell us about the relationship in King of the Storm and why it doesn’t fit the accepted definition of Romance in the M/M genre.

B. A.: Because DSPP publishes a wide range of LGBTQ+ fiction—more than just M/M Romance—it is the perfect home for my novel. However, the stories they are publishing are within a niche genre, so sometimes finding similar works is difficult.

Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles was an inspiration. But really any legend-retelling fantasy is going to be similar, such as Arthurian legends, or stories of the gods reimagined, such as American Gods, by Neil Gaiman.

Some similar works within this emerging genre are Architects of the Grand Design by Michael Bode, and The Blessed Epoch by August Li. Both are fantastic series.

Carole: Oh, yes—some really good reading in those examples for our fellow Spec Fic nerds out there. ;) Okay, so tell us about the evolution of this story. What was its earliest incarnation as a concept and when did it begin to take the form of King of the Storm?

B. A.: The concept started with Dungeons and Dragons. My gaming group and I had created a world that was Greek themed, so I chose to roleplay the hero Perseus, because he had a flying horse, and I made him into a Paladin, because I wanted a leader and someone who could throw a heal now and then.

Creating my own healing class was part of the impetus of writing my novel. I’ve spent many (too many) hours fantasizing over various healing abilities.

Carole: So, we’ve talked about the dynamics in the world and their Greek inspiration. Can you expand on that a little? Why did you feel this story needed to include the M/M dynamic specifically?

B. A.: I was paying particular attention to the stories of Heracles, Achilles, and Alexander the Great, and I wanted to pay tribute to their love—hidden in the shadows. But as I’ve said, M/M isn’t the entirety of my story, and it isn’t the entirety of my writing.

Carole: *nod nod nod* It really can’t be, if you’re writing human stories, can it? Even when your characters aren’t technically humans. Which begs the question—what was the most difficult aspect of your story to write?

B. A.: Writing Andromeda felt wrong on many levels. However, of all my characters, she was the most adamant of being true to herself. Eventually I realized it wasn’t fair for me to judge her, and so I let her grow into the woman she became. It was a struggle, but I learned something from that process.

Carole: It sounds like an amazing tale, B. A., and I’m sure we’re all looking forward to diving in. Thanks so much for being here with us today.

And thanks to all you Awesome Readers for tagging along. There’s still a giveaway before we’re done, but for now, please enjoy the following excerpt from B. A. Brock’s King of the Storm.

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I sent my consciousness into the sky, and the air pulsed and churned around me. Zeus’s voice was the thunder, and his presence saturated the clouds. With each boom my insides trembled with the fear of being among the gods ingrained in all mortals, but I also felt a pleasant sense of nostalgia, memories of playing with my father in the storms as a boy. We hadn’t played together for a long time. I ground my teeth and grinned.

The teams collided at inhuman speeds. With little thought, I created a gradient in the air currents and used the resulting tunnel of wind to sweep away all those with red tabards in my path, plus one unfortunate teammate in blue. They tumbled from me, pinwheeling wildly from my course, and I laughed.

As I opened myself to the air, my ears popped and the hair on my arms tingled and stood up. Bortos, a boy in red, charged toward me and then disappeared into a cloud of darkness. Quickly, I drew a line from the sky to where I guessed he would be and split a path for the energy to follow.

Lightning seared into the inky cloud.

The air crashed back to equilibrium, and I felt rather than heard the concussive force of thunder that resulted. The black cloud dissipated, and Bortos slumped to the earth, smoking, and was still. As I stepped past him, the smell of burned flesh tinged the air.

My father would make sure none of us died from our injuries.

Tremors in the ground were my only warning before a towering figure, who could only be half giant, stomped into view, and I barely leaped to the side before I was almost kicked like a ball. I rolled to my feet and readied my sword and shield.

Wearing blue, Zoticus, the dark and gargantuan son of Ares, stalked up and took on the challenge instead. With a manic gleam in his black eyes, he charged, slamming into the giant. I raised a brow and turned to find another fight. Those two could handle it without me.

A shift in the air sent me into a reflexive crouch, and I flung my shield up. Metal clanked against metal—a blur flew past overhead. Seizing the storm, I anchored lightning through my flying opponent.

With a flash and a crack, the flyer plummeted out of sight. The air bloomed with the sharp smell of heaven’s smoke.

I had only a moment to recover when Selene, a daughter of Poseidon, marched in my direction, her pale blonde hair tied up in a Thessalian knot and her silvery arms covered in rust-colored smudges. Moving as quicksilver, she pulled back her arm, shaped it into a sword, and thrust it toward my head.

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b-a-brock-74Author Bio: B. A. Brock has lived most of his life in the Pacific Northwest. He graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in 2007 at Portland State University—which he mostly uses to contemplate how we can achieve a civilization more closely aligned with Star Trek.

When not writing, Brock spends his time reading/reviewing novels, training for marathons, and bemoaning the fact that the world has yet to make a decent gluten free donut.

King of the Storm is available now in ebook and paperback from DSP Publications, Amazon, and most other major retail outlets.

You can follow B. A. through his Website, Facebook, and/or Twitter

Want to win an e-copy of King of the Storm? Just give B. A. your ebook file format preference in the comments section then click on the Rafflecopter widget and post your entry. (Don’t forget to include your email address!) A winner will be chosen on December 11th and announced here, so good luck to all!

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A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Here’s a Sneak Peek at the Coming Week

Sneak Peek

Cheers, fellow fictionistas, and welcome back to another look at what we have coming in the week ahead! We’ve got a busy one coming up, with lots of great guests, giveaways, and reviews in store, so here’s what you’ll see in the upcoming seven days!

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Monday – We’re kicking off this week with authors Santino Hassell, Damon Suede, and Karen Stivali on their #NYCDreamer tour to talk about their new and upcoming novels: Sunset Park, Pent Up, and Moment of Silence

We’ll also have author Cardeno C. with us on a book blast promo tour for the re-release of In Your Eyes

Finally, author Lynley Wayne will be back with the final installment of her three part column on creating a more effective website

Tuesday – Stopping in today we have author Lynn Lorenz touring the interwebs on a Backlist Book Tour

We’ll also have author Scarlet Blackwell with us on the tour for her new book Forbidden

Wednesday – Today we’ll have author April Kelley joining us on the tour for her new book Leave It All

We’ll also have author Talia Carmichael back with a guest post for The Prose Speak

Thursday – Author Keira Andrews joins us today on the tour for her new holiday book If Only in My Dreams

We’ll also be hosting author Max Vos on the tour for his new novel My Hero: The Olympian

Friday – Today we’ll have author RJ Scott with us on the tour for her novel Love’s Design

We’ll also have a new installment of DSP Publications’ “Genre Talk” with authors Carole Cummings and BA Brock

Saturday – Author Rhys Ford stops by today to close out the tour of her new novel Fish Stick Fridays

Sunday – And finally, closing out the week we’ll have author Christina Lee joining us on the tour for her new novel The Deepest Blue

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And that does it for this week. Until next time, happy reading!

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Carole Cummings, DSPP's Genre Talk, Giveaways, T.A. Venedicktov

DSP Publications Presents: Genre Talk and a Giveaway with Carole Cummings and T.A. Venedicktov

DSP Publications

Hello, Awesome Readers, and thanks for joining us here at The Novel Approach Reviews for another edition of Genre Talk. Today we have double the fun as we welcome DSP Publications author (or is that authors?) T.A. Venedicktov, here to tell us all about the upcoming Science Fiction release, Chrysalis Corporation. We also have a fab giveaway, so let’s get right to the good stuff!

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Chrysalis CorporationChrysalis Corporation

Together, they can change the rules of the galaxy and the definition of humanity.

When Damion Hawk is offered an opportunity to escape the destitute life of a miner on Mars and become an elite Alpha Fighter pilot, he jumps at the chance. Within the Chrysalis Corporation, Damion must learn to work with his Core—a man with computerized implants, no human emotions—and no rights. But unlike other Fighters, Damion can’t treat Core 47 as a tool. He sees 47 as more than a machine, and he’ll take deadly risks to help 47 find the humanity inside him.

Fighters and Cores are designed to work together and enhance each other’s strengths in defense of their employer. Damion and 47 will need each other’s support as suspicions about the all-powerful Chrysalis Corporation arise. Someone wants Damion and 47 gone, and they need to find out who and why while hiding 47’s growing emotions and the love forming between them. If they can succeed, they might save not only themselves, but all Cores enslaved by the Corporation.

Chrysalis Corporation is available for preorder now from DSP Publications.

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Carole: Okay, so let’s get this out of the way first, to make things easier on our Awesome Readers: T.A. Venedicktov is, in actuality, two authors—T.C. Nocte and Ariana Juno. They are the twisted minds behind the soon to be released SF novel, Chrysalis Corporation. They’re two women with varied backgrounds yet share similar goals. They want to give readers new worlds and characters to fall in love with, whether it be sci-fi, mystery, paranormal, fantasy, or really anything Ariana comes up with. Chrysalis Corporation is the first novel in the Chrysalis Corporation series as well as their first novel to be published.

So! Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s move on to why we’re all here. So, TC and AJ—tell us about your genre.

TC: With the 10 or so different ‘stories’ that Ariana and I have written together over the years, Chrysalis Corporation is the only sci-fi one. All the others are mostly paranormal with a scatter of fantasy. We started writing CCorp about . . . 5 or 6 years ago. I grew up watching Star Trek, Babylon 5, Stargate, and many more, so my definition of sci-fi varies. While Ariana (as usual) created the idea for CCorp, I took on the technology and planet/moon communities and ran with it. Unlike the majority of sci-fi shows, movies, and books, CCorp is kept within our solar system (for now?) while all the others take place in other galaxies. I loved the idea of going outside our own writing galaxy and turning from our typical paranormal ‘stories’ and writing within the sci-fi genre. There are no limits when it comes to sci-fi, whether it takes place within our current timeline or in the far future.

AJ: I would define sci-fi as any story which treads the lines between space exploration and paranormal. The idea of the impossible, although science is catching up to most space stories, we’re still not there yet in our achievements. I found the inspiration in a blending of many ideas, books, and TV shows. I fell in love with the idea of trying something different. I don’t believe I’ve read a book like CCorp out there yet.

TC: That’s so true. I’ve also never read anything like CCorp before. There’s the saying that no idea is original. However, I think Ariana really hit the idea nail on the head and I very much doubt that we’ll be accused of stealing someone else’s idea. Especially since we’ve been working on CCorp for so long.

Carole: Interesting process, and the story definitely sounds unique. So, why M/M?

TC: Umm *laughs* Because it’s something that both Ariana and I are interested in. We actually met *mumbles* years ago on a storyboard site that I joined back in the day of text only internet. The subject of the storyboard was a combo of two things that I loved, the anime Ronin Warriors and the comic, Elfquest. When the storyboard eventually died years later, Ariana and I decided to continue writing together and our first ‘story’ naturally just ended up being M/M. And we haven’t stopped since.

AJ: I have written f/m, f/f, and m/m. This story evolved with a m/m story line. There are heterosexual characters in the novel. The main characters happened to end up being two males. I hope over time the sexual orientation in novels will not have to be segregated. We could have changed the story to a m/f approach but it would no longer be the story we loved.

TC: That is very true. M/F or F/F just wouldn’t work for CCorp. The main characters, Damian and Re-*coughs* 47, have the masculinity that’s needed for this book. It wouldn’t really work with any other gender coupling. For example, if Damian were female instead, I doubt there would be the roughness in the story that 47 needs to get past certain hurdles. Perhaps female Damian would be more emphatic towards 47 and all other Cores plight much sooner, or more so even. ((And yes, there are female Alpha Fighters and Cores. They’re just not really apparent in the first novel because the Corporation keeps them separated))

Getting into why CCorp needs to be M/M for it to work would take much more time. Maybe a long blog post on our website, we’ll see. *laughs*

Carole: We’ll all look forward to that. :) Okay, so now tell us something about Chrysalis Corporation. Something you really want readers to know about this story.

AJ: I would want people to know the book opens up many, many possibilities. We have rough drafts of several diverging paths this universe can take, and will take, if DSPP will have us as well as any fans of the series we pick up. I want readers to know not to expect a raging love story. Our characters help the story but they’re not magically in love.

TC: There have only been one set of characters where their love life is puppies and rainbows – in the beginning. It’s simple and beautiful – and it ‘ends’ in . . . never mind. Spoilers. We hope to introduce them to you one day.

Carole: Chrysalis Corporation is being published through DSP Publications, Dreamspinner Press‘s imprint for nonromance genre novels. Tell us about the relationship in Chrysalis Corporation and why it doesn’t fit the accepted definition of Romance in the M/M genre.

AJ: The DSP Publications label was a surprise to us, but a happy one. The conflict between Damion and his Core is more than just sexual. There are many layers of challenge for them to dig through. You want Damion to figure his problems out and have him admit his love. The challenge is Damion having to go against everything he knows and throw away everything he’s achieved. He’s a poor boy who has finally become an Alpha Fighter pilot. If Luke Skywalker had just walked away from being a pilot and gone against the Empire for a cute Twi’lek then we would have all been very disappointed.

TC: In all honesty, to be put under the shiny new imprint last year as new authors to the company was a complete and amazing surprise for us. We submitted to DSP and when we heard that we were not only going to be accepted for DSP but for a NEW imprint called DSP Publications – it blew my mind. And made perfect sense once I read back through it (the 1,000th time). Our two main characters – Damion and 47 – have a very slow bubbled ‘romance’. Between 47’s inability to ‘feel’ natural emotions and Damion’s constant ‘I’m straight, what the hell am I doing’ attitude, it’s not an easy or natural thing for them to do. But it was fun figuring it out. :)

Carole: It sounds it! So then tell us about the evolution of this story. What was its earliest incarnation as a concept and when did it begin to take the form of Chrysalis Corporation?

AJ: I had been in a slump of a sorts and reading a lot of novels off of both DSP and Amazon. I hadn’t found anything sci-fi in a while to catch my interest. Plenty of fantasy but sci-fi was not so prevalent. I think it was shortly after my first born came or before but I was flipping through a Game Informer and thought – what if we could plug into computers? It snow balled from there.

TC: *points to AJ* It’s all her fault. *laughs* It’s true. She comes up with all the initial ideas and I just run with it. Since we didn’t have something to work from in the sci-fi world, everything needed to be made to fit our needs. When I was on tour, I racked up so much ink and paper in hotel business lounges for research on all the planets AND all their moons. How did people evolve on each of these planets/moons? What did these places and people look like? How did the first pioneers adapt these ‘inhospitable’ planets into some place to live to thrive? I would spend entire shows (between ques) writing up these notes in my notebook. For every single planet. For every single moon, even ones we may never use – I wanted the info to be there.

Carole: So with all that going on, why did you feel this story needed to be told with the M/M dynamic?

AJ: The main reason we kept the M/M story instead of changing it to a F/M was the characters. Damion, Juni, 108, 47, all of them, plus more, became very vivid over the course of a year. It had no bearing on our own sexual orientations. The characters and their orientations became very set in stone through the progression of the story. It would have been forced and would have ruined the story if we changed it to F/M.

TC: (Over the course of a YEAR, AJ?? Seriously?!) Precisely, the dynamic wouldn’t have worked as well. Damion has to be a bit hard handed with 47 at times because as a Core who doesn’t have any emotions, he can be pretty damn stubborn. As I said before, the relationship for Damion and 47 was slow-burning. It’s a gradual process for Damion, who never really thought of himself as gay, but has an overwhelming pull towards 47 but doesn’t want the Core to think Damion just wants to use 47 like 47’s former Alpha Fighters did. Nor did Damion want to be the kind of Alpha that thought of their Cores as nothing but tools. He can see the humanity within 47 where many others Alpha Fighters use their Core as either a box wrench or a vibrator.

I think it enhances the story because it’s so much in the future that even as we’re making strides in today’s world with equality and equal opportunity for LGBTQ, there still will always be bigots. Even if it’s something that’s been considered ‘normal’ for hundreds of years.

Carole: Too true, alas. So will you write any stories not part of this universe? Or in a different genre?

TC: Will we write any stories not of this universe? *laughs* We have already. Many of them. One or two of them over 900 pgs and still not complete. We started off writing paranormal and stuck with that for a little while. We’ve done fantasy as well. We’ve stolen characters from other stories and made them human because, why not? As for whether or not some of them end up on the publishing block, (if they even can, some are way too in-cohesive [note: 900pg story and going]) it’s a possibility. We have Spook, Riders, Blood Brothers & Trifecta (which will probably be kept in the closet), Ashes, Just for Fun (which is where we write just to write), and many others.

Right now, all of concentration is on CCorp and the stories and characters within the CCorp universe and timeline. AJ has so many ideas for the CCorp Universe outside of the main story/timeline (a few that we’ve already written) that we’ll be busy with our boys and getting them into trouble. There’s SO much to tell.

AJ: I think as long as we’re able to put out quality work to submit to the company then, yes, we would write more. We also need to be able to write, something I’ve been lacking in time for lately, and so I hope we can give the readers more to read for CCorp and other universes sooner than later.

Carole: We’ll all look forward to that. Thanks so much to TC and AJ for joining us here on Genre Talk, and thanks to all you Awesome Readers for tagging along. There’s a giveaway to deal with yet, so don’t go away yet! For now, please enjoy this excerpt from Chrysalis Corporation then scroll down for the Rafflecopter widget and details.

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Excerpt: “We will be reporting to Commander Sandrite to have your assignment made official and also to retrieve your room access card and pass for the Zodiac vessel.” The Core announced the orders in a monotone voice. Typical for a Core, or so Damion had heard. This was all completely new to him. His brow furrowed in confusion. He’d been working hard to eventually achieve command of “his own” Zodiac, but he hadn’t expected it to be so soon or to be receiving one in such a manner. All junior pilots had aspirations to be assigned to a Beta ship that they would share with other pilots before finally working their way to Alpha status and a Zodiac-class ship of their own.

Achieving Alpha rank so quickly was unheard of. Until today.

“A bit soon, isn’t it? I haven’t even met any other Cores, and I’ve only become part of the Beta squad.” Only top pilots—the Alphas—were paired with Cores. Ten Alphas were in command of a unit of twenty Betas each, along with working as a unit with ten other Alphas. This brought the Zeus attack fleet to a total number of 210 ships available for deployment. Unless there was a large battle or they had to practice maneuvers as a unit with their Alpha leader, Betas generally stayed on the ship and worked with simulation units, which had proved boring to Damion so far. Although that didn’t mean he was ready to become an Alpha.

“You do not need to,” the Core replied without looking at him. The doors opened, and the Core waited until Damion exited first before doing so himself. “You have already been chosen by a Core. Therefore there is no need for you to meet others. We are the ones who pick our Alpha Fighters. The Fighters do not pick the Core. It is not ‘a bit soon,’ as you say, for one such as yourself.”

The Core began walking down the corridor beside Damion, obviously leading him but not walking in front of him.

“Right, but how can I be chosen if none of the other Cores have met me?”

Damion was starting to feel even more unbalanced than before. He felt as if he were talking to a wall or a computer console, but knew that if he were truly going to be an Alpha, he would have to adjust to the way Cores spoke, no matter the frustration. If the Commander didn’t laugh him out of his office first.

“You were chosen before you arrived on the Zeus,” the Core stated as if it explained everything. He paused at Commander Sandrite’s gray office door.

Damion sighed as he pulled on the edge of his uniform to straighten out any remaining wrinkles. “I hope you’re not being extremely obtuse on purpose.”

The Core finally turned to him, his odd-hued eyes meeting Damion’s through a length of bangs. “What do you need me to explain? I assumed I was being clear.”

“You didn’t answer my question,” Damion replied, glancing at the door. A hint of excitement joined the nausea in his stomach. “There is no way someone can choose me if they haven’t met me. It’s impossible.”

“Nothing is impossible, and anything deemed such should be proven otherwise,” the Core stated matter-of-factly, some essence of almost emotion flashing in his eyes. He turned to the door himself. “As I have just proven.”

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Author BioAuthor Bio: T.A. Venedicktov is in reality two people.

A, Ariana Juno, is a full-time working single mother with a love of chai tea lattes and tumblr. When Ariana is not working or raising two amazing children, she is plotting with her co-author. Ariana has been in the medical field for fifteen years and has a love of travel. She lives in the Midwest and has an ice cream habit which calls for an intervention. Ariana daydreams most of the plots of the T.A. novels—daily, hourly, nonstop, which drives TC nuts at times. Even though Ariana’s constant stream of ideas for even more new characters and books may drive TC crazy, TC knows that without Ariana they wouldn’t be where they are today.

T, TC Nocte, is a full-time mom with a vast background in theatre. (No, not as an actor. She wanted to actually make money so became a touring theatrical carpenter.) TC has traveled all over the US as well as outside to multiple countries when she was still touring and strives to visit many more in her future. She’s the main headliner in regards to editing and keeping their writing in order, as well as trying to untangle all of Ariana’s random ideas. TC lives in Florida with her consort and his three human children that she has claimed as well as three cat babies. She’s been battling Primary Sjogren’s Disease (https://www.sjogrens.org/home/about-sjogrens/symptoms) and RA while drinking coffee and kicking ass.

The duo has been writing unprofessionally for over a decade together and hope to share their twisted but lovable characters with the world.

You can follow T.A. Venedicktov via their Website, Facebook, Twitter, or just drop them an Email. You can also find them at their DSPP Author Page.

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Want to win an e-copy of Chrysalis Corporation? Just give TC and AJ your ebook file format preference in the comments section then click on the Rafflecopter widget and post your entry. (Don’t forget to include your email address!) A winner will be chosen on Chrysalis Corporation release day, November 17th. Good luck to all!

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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Join us next time on Genre Talk when we’ll get Lex Chase to tell us what Rook and Garth are up to these days with their upcoming 2nd Edition release of Checkmate Ever After!

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A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Here’s a Sneak Peek at the Coming Week

Sneak Peek

Cheers, fellow book-a-holics, and welcome back to a sneak peek at who and what we have in store for you in the next five days. We have a busy week lined up, so I hope you’ll all join us in the fun.

Here’s what’s coming up:

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Monday – Kicking off our week this week, we’ll be hosting authors Leta Blake and Alice Griffiths and their tour for Episode Two of Woke Up Married, Meet the Family

Tuesday – We’ll welcome author Bru Baker today on the tour for her new novel King of the Kitchen

And we’ll also have author Cecilia Tan dropping by on the tour for the next installment in her web-serial-turned-novels, Daron’s Guitar Chronicles

WednesdaySandrine Gasq-Dion stops in today on the tour for her newest release, Jinxed

We’ll also be bringing you another installment in DSP Publications Genre Talk with Carole Cummings and T.A. Venedicktov

Thursday – Author Jessie Gin stops by today on the tour for her new novel Strength in Numbers

We’ll also be bringing you a look at the cover art Paul Richmond worked up for author Rebecca Cohen‘s new book, He’s Behind You

Friday – And to close out the week, we have a busy day today. First up is author Charlie Cochet with a cover reveal of her new holiday novella Loving Blitz

We’ll also have author Christine d’Abo joining us on the Rebound Remedy blog tour

Cardeno C. is on tour for the audiobook of her novel Until Forever Comes, which will be stopping by today

And finally, we’ll be bringing you another Flashback Friday. This week’s edition will highlight the Bad Boys of Romance—the rule breakers and risk takers and heartbreakers

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And that does it for this week. Until next time, happy reading!

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DSPP's Genre Talk, Lissa Kasey

DSPP Presents: Genre Talk and a Giveaway with Carole Cummings and Lissa Kasey

DSP Publications

Yay, it’s time for Genre Talk again here at The Novel Approach Reviews! This week we have DSP Publications author Lissa Kasey here to talk about her new Urban Fantasy/Paranormal novel Evolution: Genesis. And as a special treat, she’s giving away a signed paperback! So grab a cuppa, put up your feet, and let’s let Lissa tell us all about her genre and why she loves all its delightful (and sometimes impossible!) possibilities.

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Evolution: GenesisEvolution: Genesis

Evolution made music history when one bandmate turned vampire and another joined the vampire hate movement Preservation Group. Gene is trying to cling to the music as his relationship with Kerstrande begins to spiral into the darkness of hidden demons. Jaded by his years as a vampire flunkie, Kerstrande uses his newly won power over New York City to destroy his enemies and protect Gene. But a demon called a Fallen begins to take control of KC, slowly devouring his soul and through him the entire city. Battling against the evil that wants to destroy him, Kerstrande fights to hold onto Gene’s brightness.

A power unlike any other grows within Gene and shines like a beacon to the demons surrounding him. Realizing that only he can save his lover, Gene is willing to do anything to shake the darkness loose. Even if it means reshaping the future, the band, and his own existence.

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Carole: So, Lissa, let’s start with the obvious—tell us about your genre.

Lissa: I write Urban Fantasy. The simple definition is supernatural elements integrated in modern society. Like Supernatural, Buffy, Heroes, etc. It’s a question of “what if” the supernatural really existed in our modern world. And I have to say really, what if? Have you ever seen a ghost? Seen anything you just can’t explain? Experienced a miracle? These are all elements of the genre. Typical UF tends to be a little darker. Often the MC hunting the bad guys who happen to not be quite human. It’s about the story, the world, and the people. That’s why I love it so much.

Carole: So is that why your work contains the M/M dynamic? The possibilities?

Lissa: There are a lot of people who question why I write m/m or as I call it LGBTUQA fiction. I always wonder why. Why do I have to write “het” fiction? Why can’t my characters be a spectrum? I myself identify as asexual so I guess writing in the spectrum feels more natural for me. It’s a level of unacceptance, really. The characters I identify with easiest to write about are mostly male. It feels natural. Not sure there has to be another reason.

Carole: Absolutely not, but it’s something everyone always wants to know, isn’t it. So let’s move on to what’s really important. Tell us about Evolution: Genesis.

Lissa: Evolution/Evolution: Genesis is a novel that took about ten years to write. It was a lot about my evolution as a writer, as well as the evolution of the darkness of the characters trying to break out and destroy them. Gene is the average kid, barely out on his own, only kind of smart, but he’s got a big heart. KC has seen the worst of the world and knows it’s out to get him. The darkness is eating him from the inside out, and only Gene seems to be able to push it back. They have to learn to work together. Embrace the bad with the good and create their own future. Which is why I love these books so much. While their demons are very real and physical, this story could very much be about a lot of psychological demons we all fight every day.

Carole: Evolution: Genesis is being published through DSP Publications, Dreamspinner Press’s imprint for nonromance genre novels. Tell us about the relationship in Evolution: Genesis and why it doesn’t fit the accepted definition of Romance in the M/M genre.

Lissa: For a long time I’ve used the tagline: More than just romance. That’s what I write. My books have always been more story driven than relationship driven. Yes, there are often relationships in the books. It’s a fact of life. Most of us couldn’t survive the day to day struggles without some sort of relationship. But it’s never my focus. In Evolution it’s really on the backburner. Yes, KC and Gene are a couple, but it’s not the point of the story any more than Frodo and Samwise’s relationship in The Lord of the Rings was the point of the story. It changes them as people, helps them through the good and bad times, and gives them a hand to hold when the fire erupts (literally in Evolution), but there is so much more going on. So many other things that are important.

Carole: And speaking of things that are important, let’s get to my favorite part of Genre Talk: tell us about the evolution (ha!) of this story. What was its earliest incarnation as a concept and when did it begin to take the form of Evolution: Genesis?

Lissa: Ha. Shall I say it? Fan fiction. It’s a concept that I really don’t care for in this day and age, but 10 years ago when I was in college and stuck in class for three to four hours at a time I did a lot of fan fiction reading. I was also a huge fan of anime/manga (still am). There was a series which is very old now about a snarky writer and an over-exuberant singer who just found each other. And then the comics sort of got weird. I stopped reading, but the seed had been planted. What if snarky writer was actually an ex musician who was now hiding the fact he was a vampire? Or if the singer had weird powers that drew the supernatural to him like a moth to flame? I actually wrote two other books that overlapped the Evolution series, but the characters have since vanished. The evolution of the series is complete and it only took ten years to do so.

Carole: So, with all that going on, why did you feel this story needed to be told with the M/M dynamic?

Lissa: Again this goes back to the point I made above about why I write m/m. There aren’t a lot of spectrum characters in UF. Lots of side characters have begun to pop up in the past ten or so years, but not MCs. I wondered why. There’s always some super hot girl with a dozen guys after her, or a tall, dark, handsome guy with girls immediately drawn to him. I never really understood it. (Probably due to my asexuality) But it sort of became the norm. Expected. Which means for me at least it lacks excitement. I’m sure there are a million ways to make a het relationship exciting. I still read it. I just don’t write it. The M/M dynamic is still interesting, and so I’ll keep pushing the boundaries of my comfort levels as I continue to explore the depths of my characters. They are really the ones who choose, not me.

Carole: Before we wrap up, Lissa, I have one more for you: if there’s one thing you hope to convey about this story, one small, maybe even subtextual thing you really want readers to get, what would that be?

Lissa: There is this long sequence through these novels about time. KC is always checking his watch. He’s sort of obsessed with time, yet he’s a vampire, so for him time has essentially stopped. It’s a bit of irony. And while it was toned down in the final version, it is still present.

Carole: Awesome, Lissa. I really enjoyed this Q&A and I’m so pleased you agreed to come and let us have a peek inside your creative process. Thanks so much!

And thanks to our Awesome Readers for spending time with us today. Lissa’s got a fantastic giveaway for you, but before you scroll down to the Rafflecopter widget, please enjoy this brilliant excerpt from Evolution: Genesis.

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Excerpt: A group of people stood gathered around the address Lee had given me. Everyone was dressed in combat gear—heavy boots, camouflage, goofy goggles, and gloves. I stood out in my jeans, brightly colored hoodie, and orange hair. Lee walked up in battle fatigues similar to the rest of the group, bandana around his forehead. I felt like I’d stepped out of New York and into some weird third-world country, ready to go into battle. There were guns and knives, but I didn’t know enough about weapons to know if they were real. They looked real, but so did a lot of toys nowadays.

“Everyone ready?” Lee took charge. “Target is in the western quadrant. Scouts have cleared the area of all living persons, so it should be a straight in and straight out assignment.” It sounded like a game. Quadrant, assignment, and all that. I shrugged and got into the van with everyone, feeling marginally safer in the group. Lee dropped a small chain with a cross attached into my hand.

“What am I supposed to do with this?”

“It’s protection. You point it at evil, and they stay away.”

That made no sense. Metal was metal. And I wasn’t Christian. I shoved it in my pocket anyway.

Everyone stared at me.

“What’s the deal?” I asked them. Had they heard “Midnight Rain”? I’d been stopped a few times on the street by people wanting autographs, but mostly no one seemed to recognize me. Maybe ’cause my hair was always changing. Who knew?

“Did you bring any bombs with you?” one of them asked.

Bombs?

“We’ve tried to copy you, but nothing we’ve found can burn that hot. Are you using napalm? We tried to get it, but it’s government restricted and heavily monitored.”

If I’d been any more confused, tiny duckies would have been spinning around my head like they did with cartoon characters. Lee gripped my arm.

“Leave him be. I invited him, but he doesn’t have to do anything. Our methods are probably too juvenile for him. So just stop.”

Everyone nodded with wide eyes. Obviously I was the only one in the dark. The van stopped, and everyone got out. Lee pulled me along with him. He smudged dark paint on his face, then dug through his backpack to find something.

“Do you have any weapons on you?”

“Why would I need a weapon?” The area looked decimated, something that happened when the vampires had come out more than ten years ago. There had been a sort of microwar between vampires and police. The government had come in with the military and stopped it, but the damage had been done. Some cities, like New York, had entire areas destroyed and turned into ghost towns. Buildings had been turned to rubble, nothing grew, no one dared to enter those places anymore—except, apparently, for a bunch of kids with a hard-on to fight zombies or something stupid. A game. Ha. I was more likely to twist an ankle out here than run into a zombie. I’d seen a lot of weird crap in my life, but I was pretty sure zombies didn’t really exist. I was open to being proved wrong, however, so long as it didn’t try to eat my brains.

The broken city was devoid of everything. Having never been here before, I expected lots of ghosts. After all, hundreds, maybe even thousands had died. But there was nothing. Not even a flicker. I’d learned about the war in school, but like everything else politicians didn’t like, it was downplayed until it seemed almost unimportant. I’d never visited Old Town simply because why would anyone want to? The idea of thousands of ghosts would have scared me, but the lack of anything worried me more.

Everyone headed toward a building. Lee handed me a pair of goggles. I stared at them a minute, then put them on. Cool, infrared.

“Where’d you get these?” I so wanted my own pair.

“Army supply store.” Lee pulled out a knife and handed it to me. “I’ll feel better if you take it. It’s blessed and empowered by a whole church. Even if you have your own stuff, just take it.”

I frowned at the weapon. It was in a sheath, but when I opened the snap and pulled it out, it was real enough and very sharp. I was more likely to cut off my own fingers, so I shoved it back in the leather and snapped it shut before putting it in my hoodie pocket.

“Where are we going? These buildings don’t look safe.”

“They’ve been cleared. Stay away from the upper levels and watch your step. The higher up you go, the more unstable they are. He’s new, so it should be an easy hunt. He’ll be clumsy and loud and really hungry.” He paused, waving the rest of the team to positions, I guessed. “The young are always hungry.”

Hungry? Should I have brought some pizza? I followed him into the building, picking my way around debris and giant holes in the floor. Safe. Yeah, right.

“What are we hunting?” I whispered, feeling a little silly since we were already to the second floor and everyone was moving room to room like SWAT on TV.

“Vampire.”

The word froze me in my tracks.

“You’re kidding, right?” The infrared goggles let me see the team just fine, but it was hard to see the floor or anything else. Hunting a vampire? Were these kids insane? “Like a real vampire?”

“Shh.” Lee hushed me.

The place actually looked pretty clean. No graffiti or debris in the hall, other than pieces of the wall. It sort of looked like my old neighborhood. The door to the third floor hung on its hinges. Something had been in a hurry to open it and hadn’t cared about handles or locks. A weird smell irritated my nose, and I had to pause to sneeze twice. Both times Lee shushed me. If there was a vampire in here, maybe I could warn him. But that meant I had to find him first.

I pushed my way past the rest of the team, taking “point”—or so they called it—and headed toward the third floor. The floor was even less stable. Patches of the outer wall gave way, letting the night breeze flow through it. Was there someone else here? I focused on my surroundings, calling any lingering spirits who might still be hanging around.

My grandfather often said my aura shone like a beacon to the dead, a homing signal to let them know that I was there to direct them to the correct path. Though how exactly I was supposed to do that seemed to stump him. No amount of “go into the light” could make a spirit leave. Mostly they just left on their own.

Even pushing out extra power, there was nothing. It was so weird. I’d never been in a place so barren of any kind of life, even spiritual life.

Lee came up behind me as I approached the stairway to the final floor. “It’s up there. Do you hear it?”

Something was up there. Could have been a raccoon for all I knew. Well, yeah. I guess I knew, since whatever it was didn’t feel human. Not a person in a costume, then. But Joel and KC never felt like this, so devoid of everything. Crap. I sucked in a deep breath. Lee kicked the door open, and something flew at me in the same moment. Pain smashed into the right side of my head, and I hit the wall so hard I went through it, landing in a room half-crumbled down. The goggles went spinning away. Stars danced around my vision as darkness swam up for a minute, threatening to take over. Something tore into my shoulder, bringing me back to consciousness and making me scream all at once. Whatever it was, it had a human shape, but no aura.

I swung upward with my good arm as hard as I could, aiming for the side of its head. Aim for the ears to disorient, that’s what Cris had always taught me. It grunted but didn’t let go. In fact, I was pretty sure it was gnawing on my shoulder. Maybe it was a fucking zombie!

With no choice but to fight dirty, I swung my knee up and slammed into the sensitive area between its legs. No matter what it was, it would go down. Cris had promised me. And he was right. It howled and fell back for a moment, long enough for me to roll away and get shakily to my feet. My shoulder ached, and I could feel the heat of blood staining my clothes. It probably should have hurt more, and that it didn’t worried me. My arm wouldn’t move. The shoulder pulsed, a dull ache, and the heat of the blood poured down my chest and back. Deep wound. That couldn’t be good.

It was up in seconds, mimicking my movement, shifting in whatever direction I did. Where were all the people I’d come in with? Didn’t anyone care that the newbie was being attacked by something? Only a few feet stood between me and a deadly drop of three stories. The floor and walls didn’t look strong enough to hold much weight, so I tried to ease away from the edge.

It flew across the room, lunging at me and slamming me into the floor, hands locked on my throat. Black starbursts exploded across my sight as my lungs screamed for air. I clawed at its hands, yanked at its arms, kicked, but it didn’t budge. The knife Lee had given me dug into my side where I’d stuffed it in my pocket. I struggled to reach it before the creature succeeded in suffocating me. The second my fingertips brushed the hilt, I smashed my attacker with my fist again, aiming at the eyes. The grip loosened, and I opened the sheath and ripped the knife out, slashing forward.

Blood splashed me from a wound I’d opened up on its arm. But it kept coming. It bled, but it was determined to kill me. My lungs ached, and my shoulder hurt enough I couldn’t move it. Was this a true vampire? Not the dressed-up-nice-hiding kind like Kerstrande or Hane, but the real animal with no fear, no morals, just hunger? It didn’t speak, but I saw enough of it in the small amount of moonlight to know it had once been male. It was strong. It wanted to kill me.

He danced around me like he knew how to fight with a knife. I just held the weapon in front of me, praying for a chance to get away. I jabbed at it with the knife, but he smacked it away like I was nothing more than a child holding up a toy. I could have called the fire, but if I did, the whole building would go up. There were others inside, and as stupid as they were to play this game, they didn’t deserve to die. And what made it right for me to kill this thing? Maybe he was like Joel, lost. Maybe I could save him too.

He lunged at me, baring fangs like the stuff of horror movies in a face gaunt and rotting. This was not a vampire. What the hell was it?

“Stop!” I screamed at the creature.

It made an unearthly sound as it tackled me to the floor, extended fangs tearing for my throat.

“Stop!” I screamed again, heart pounding. Inches from my neck, he sagged. Hot liquid poured over me, then a horrible stench—like a sewer only magnified. Lee rolled the creature off me, the knife he’d given me in his grip, dripping blood. Everything inside me went cold as I watched the creature shudder. It looked human, a normal guy, probably no older than me. Darkness seeped from him like blood, slinking away, hiding in the pooling red mess that was the end of his existence. And once the black shadow was gone, all the cuts and bruises appeared. His skin took on an ashen tone. Blood burst from his flesh like from a balloon too full of water.

I lost the pizza I’d eaten earlier, and probably everything else I’d eaten for the past week.

“The young never die pretty. Old ones sort of dry up, I guess. The young ones just pop,” Lee was saying. His words made me heave again. He patted my back. “Thanks for cornering him. The blade only works in close combat if you shatter the heart. You had me worried for a minute there. But I realized you were testing me. My loyalty. I hope I passed.”

Passed? This guy was fucking insane. I wobbled to my feet, the pain in my shoulder bad enough to make my head spin. Hopefully I could make it downstairs without falling down them. My fingers were numb as I pulled the cell phone out of my pocket and slumped against the wall to drag my ass down the stairs. I’d killed some kid. Sure, he hadn’t been human anymore, but maybe I could have helped him.

The phone rang and rang. Cris was probably out hunting. I wondered what that meant since he fed on sex. Cruising, I guess. Would it matter? I hoped he didn’t kill anyone. Funny how the things that mattered to a person changed so much when they were faced with issues of life and death.

I sighed, hung up, and dialed again, praying for Cris to pick up. Was there a cab company in the whole country who would drive to this forbidden part of town for a guy bleeding to death on the doorstep of a building where some sort of undead had just been slaughtered?

“Gene?” Cris’s voice suddenly filled the line.

“I need help.” I finally reached the bottom floor. The world outside looked no different than when I’d gone in. Everyone was standing around talking, and just like every other occasion in my life, I barely seemed to exist. The city looked so far away, high-rises towering in the distance.

“I’m bleeding. Bad.” Darkness danced around the edges of my vision. I was going to die again. And I couldn’t do it where anyone could see.

“Where are you?”

“Old Town. What’s left of it.”

“You shouldn’t be there. Do you know how unsafe that is?”

“Ah, yeah, bleeding to death.” I wondered if my sarcasm was lost on him.

“Shit. Are you alone?”

“No. Norms everywhere.”

“Can you shift?”

Could I? I’d tried it at will many times with no luck. Thinking about it just gave me a headache. Nothing happened, even when I paused to focus for a minute. Nope. Nothing. I kept walking, letting the group get farther and farther away. I rounded a few buildings, trying to stay aware of my surroundings. Maybe there were more like that kid.

“There was this kid. He wasn’t human anymore….”

“I know, baby. Old Town has a lot of those. I’m on my way to you.”

“They came to hunt him. Told me it was a game.” A fucking game. Of course it wasn’t. My life didn’t give me outs like that. I saw dead people. That made me exempt from normal. I thought of Joel, his smiles, jokes, and generosity. If I hadn’t saved him, would he have become that thing back there? Something feral?

“Combat gear, high-tech equipment?” Cris asked.

“Yeah.” The cool goggles that I had wanted had been lost somewhere in the rubble.

“PG. Fuck. That’s how they operate. Get kids in acting like it’s a game. How far away from them are you?”

Not far enough, as far as I was concerned. I wandered into a building, watching for signs that anyone had followed or that anything occupied the space but me. Nothing moved outside or in. My vision was starting to go, and I could feel the beat of my heart slowing.

“Not long now. Sorry. Probably won’t be here when you get here.” My speech was slurred. Too much blood.

“Put your wallet, keys, and phone somewhere outside of the blast zone if you can still move. I’ll pick them up when I get there.”

“What if PG finds me first?”

“They won’t. You’re gonna fly, remember?”

“Yeah, maybe.” Everything was pretty fuzzy. I put my stuff between a few rocks and covered them with another. “Putting the phone down. Sorry,” I slurred.

“See you soon, baby. Don’t be afraid.”

Easy for him to say. He wasn’t about to die.

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Evolution Genesis is available in ebook and paperback from DSP Publications, Amazon, and most other retail outlets.

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Lissa KaseyAuthor Bio: Lissa Kasey lives in St. Paul, MN, has a Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing, and collects Asian Ball Joint Dolls who look like her characters. She has three cats who enjoy waking her up an hour before her alarm every morning and sitting on her lap to help her write. She can often be found at Anime Conventions masquerading as random characters when she’s not writing about about vampires, witches, and shapeshifters. Oh My!

You can follow Lissa via her Website, Facebook, Twitter, and/or her Facebook Author Page.

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To enter the giveaway for a signed copy of Evolution: Genesis, please comment below then click the Rafflecopter widget below. (Don’t forget to leave your email address!) A winner will be chosen and notified on November 4th.

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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Please join us next time on Genre Talk, when T.A. Venedicktov will be by to talk about the upcoming SciFi release Chrysalis Corporation.

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A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Here’s a Sneak Peek at the Coming Week

Sneak Peek

Halloo from the happiest place on earth! :-D Yes, this sneak peek at the coming week is comin’ atcha from Disney World. I hope you’ve all had a lovely weekend and are ready to check out what’s on tap!

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Monday – We’ve got a couple of great authors here today to kick off our week. First, we’ll be bringing you Eli Easton and a cover reveal for her upcoming release How to Walk Like a Man, book two in the Howl at the Moon series.

We’ll also have Piper Vaughn with us, welcoming you all to the Gayborhood with the Heartsville series featuring Piper, Nico Jaye, J.H. Knight, Jayden Brooks, and Cate Ashwood

Tuesday – Today we welcome authors Katey Hawthorne and Jenna Rose on their Kanaan and Tilney blog tour

Wednesday – We start off our day today with an exclusive cover reveal for A.V. Sanders and her upcoming holiday novella Wet, Hot, Australian Christmas

We’ll also be featuring another installment of DSPP’s Genre Talk with Carole Cummings and her guest Lissa Kasey

Thursday – We kick off the day today with author Damon Suede and the cover reveal for his upcoming release Pent Up

Aisling Mancy also joins us today on the tour for his novel A Solitary Man, his collaboration with author Shira Anthony

Friday – Author Cardeno C. drops by today with an excerpt or two to celebrate the re-release of the books in the Family Series

And we’ll also pick back up on our Flashback Friday feature today, maybe with a little something to lead us into Halloween

Saturday – And finally, author Charlie Cochet closes out our week on the tour for her new release, Between the Devil and the Pacific Blue

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And that does it for the week ahead. Until next time, happy reading!

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Carole Cummings, DSPP's Genre Talk, J Tullos Hennig

DSPP Presents: Genre Talk With Carole Cummings and J Tullos Hennig

DSP Publications

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the latest edition of Genre Talk. Today DSP Publications author J Tullos Hennig—Historical Fantasy maven of the Books of the Wode series—has agreed to come and take the helm, and give us a historical perspective on Romance. (Romance. On Genre Talk! I know, right?!) So if any of you have ever wondered about the origins of Romance as a genre, and its various permutations over the years, buckle up—or, rather, unrip those bodices—and read on!

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ROMANCE—12th Century Style
J Tullos Hennig

So.

When I first pitched this particular idea to Our Fair & Fearless Leader (a.k.a. Genre Talk Co-ordinator Carole Cummings) she blinked at me. Said, “You’re going to talk about Romance for Genre Talk? You.”

Yes, I said. Why not?

At the time we were kvetching about the modern, (and bloody foolish, let’s just say it) notion that if a book or movie doesn’t open with the equivalence of a car chase and shootout, then ‘nothing’s happening’. We were coming up with examples, both written and filmed, where there was no shootout equivalent, but to say nothing was happening was just, well, wrong. The Lion in Winter (the original with Hepburn and O’Toole) was mentioned as a masterpiece of dialogue and in-depth characterization.

(And let’s get this out of the way right now… if you say to either of us that The Lion In Winter is one of those movies in which ‘nothing happens’, then you’d better duck. Seriously. Because there was a ton of happenings in that movie; those characters, that dialogue, and people who staged it told an amazing story.)

All asides aside, I mentioned to the FFL that watching this movie so long ago was the beginning of my fascination and admiration for Eleanor of Aquitaine and the early Plantagenets. And since Eleanor plays a minor, if rather influential, role in the upcoming Wode trilogy (including in the newest offering, Winterwode, now available from DSP Publications… and yes, that is a shameless plug, why?) then I can, in fact, talk about the modern genre of Romance, because Eleanor was instrumental in its invention.

This can be argued, certainly. Not only because everything to do with history will have many fiery-eyed historians fencing over it, believe me, but also this:

Either Eleanor did us an amazing service by breaking societal expectations and, through her patronisation of the arts, further arm a burgeoning cultural revolution based on secular ideals, reason, and the individuated journey, complete with personal sacrifice and fulfillment…

Or an overly idealistic woman, who had been thwarted once too often by society, her marriage partners, fate, and her own biology, decided to spearhead an idealised and over-entitled bit of claptrap that has spawned such things as Disney princesses and the oft-horrific ideal that if we don’t have a “Happily Ever After” then we have somehow failed as human beings.

(Neither argument is quite true, though I will admit subscribing to either theory on alternate Thursdays. ) ;)

But either way Eleanor, a powerful, amazing, and intelligent woman no matter how you parse it, is arguably the one who enabled a lasting portal into the ideal of modern romance.

A little context, first. Contrary to popular belief, life in the early Middle Ages wasn’t all about the “nasty, brutish and short”, and neither were its people. The years circa 1100-1250 A.C.E. are also known as the ‘12th Century Renaissance’. There was an upsurge of the sciences, particularly in the Middle East. Cross-culturalism was a fact, despite—and in some ways, due to—religious war and crusade. Expressions of the arts were in high esteem about this time, not only in the Middle East but Western Europe, with writers, musicians and poets—particularly the trouvère and the troubadour—thriving from high courts to tavern hearths.

And those expressions were changing. Before, they were articulated through the means of the Epic, or chanson de geste, such as The Song of Roland, or the vast amount of Matter of _____ (fill in the blank with some country’s name). They were focused on a hero—usually larger than life, with massive thews and equally-as-massive entitlement, real and imagined—and that hero’s involvement with societal, national and familial doings. Robin Hood began life in this vein; one of his major introductory tales is called A Gest of Robyn Hode.

The mediaeval Romance, on the other hand, had as its focus the individual and interior struggles of that hero. Take The Tale of Gamelyn (I’ve certainly taken it and ran!), which is classified as a Romance. There is no ‘romance’ in it—at least not the way modern audiences would describe it. The only mention that remotely resembles a lover is an unnamed wife he receives at the story’s end complete with his inheritance, therefore more prize than anything. But it is a Romance, by all the definitions of its time: it is a character study, a rather violent journey of an individual (Gamelyn) from dispossession into his own. It’s one of the original Cinderella-type stories, in fact (and without the nasty subtext of ‘just be a ‘good girl’ and take it, and you’ll get that prince’).

The original definition of the Romance could therefore be perceived in two words: character development.

This is where it gets a bit more tangly. From that surge of interest in the individual came interest in all the things that make up an individual: the interior strengths and weaknesses that come along with food, fighting and fornication. Learning was valued. Accepted values were more and more being questioned. The weather cooperated, too; the fire-blasted North had mostly recovered from the Norman Conquest, and pastures and crops waxed abundant. As did the people. All classes were living at a higher standard than before, so there was also the very real problem of lots of children. Territorial children. Daughters raised to manage their dower with iron fingers in velvet gloves, and sons who were raised to fight, covered in iron and leather with no velvet whatsoever. A bunch of bully boys with meat cleavers and pig stickers were, literally, terrorizing the country.

Kids those days!

The religious institutions came up with one answer: send ‘em on Crusade. Scorn nature and kill the godless infidels. But there was another answer, and it came from more secular means. Celebrate nature—in its place, mind—and perhaps nick some of the least offensive ideas from the godless infidels.

(Because, really, they weren’t that much more open-minded than a lot of folks today. Think more Team Bernard of Clairvaux vs. Team Peter Abelard.)

Yet despite what you might have gleaned from the musical Camelot, it wasn’t a King named Arthur who instituted the concepts of chivalry, May revels and ‘knights picking flowers’. It wasn’t even a man. The fiń amor or ‘courtly love’, in which the ideals of love for love’s sake were transliterated into a complex code of service to the object of love—be it unrequited amor, or open expressions of passion—were championed by a woman. Eleanor of Aquitaine. In fact, the court she held and inhabited in Poitiers, during the longest of her varied estrangements from her husband Henry II, was significant in its patronage of one of the original purveyors of the written Arthurian sagas—and likely fully imbibed Arthur and his Table with a concept of chivalry that would inhabit ages to come.

Also interesting is how the cult of the Virgin took possession of the hearts and minds of 12th century individuals. This is part of the conceptualisation of Marion into the outlaw ballads… and actually deserves its own lengthy discussion. Whilst it is easy to look back upon this cult/phenomenon with feminist ire (I’m quite guilty), it also speaks to the very real problem of an affluent society seeking ways to control the rampages of its more powerful citizens. Cast one’s less powerful members into a mould of inviolability, and give the ones in power something to defend and worship…

Therein, of course, lies a problem. Not only from the fact that the poor and anyone considered ‘the other’ are outside this set of protections, but the effects of such. Whilst Romance in its original meaning possesses the natural focus upon character and the individual journey, it also—with the Courts of Love—puts forth another ‘spin’: an ideal lifted above reality, based on longing for the unattainable.

By Church and State channelling an ‘angry young knight’s’ impulses toward Protect instead of Plunder, it also relegated the object of desire to just that: an object. A fantasy, pleasant but ultimately unattainable. A game, where the rules can nibble your ear or bite your arse.

Perhaps the Courts of Love was based on something as simple as Eleanor, thwarted of too many ambitions, having the very real desire to be cherished. We all do, in one form or another. Many of us, regardless of gender, even fancy the notion of being placed on a pedestal.

But the actuality of that pedestal has its drawbacks, many of them quite serious. Which is what I ultimately find fascinating.

So, yes, I can talk about Romance, despite the fact that readers will not find a modern genre romance in my books, but rather more old-fashioned notions of such. If you, like me, fancy the ‘more mediaeval’ definition of Romance-as-character-development, with an individuated journey of interior cogitations, personal struggles and sacrifice, within an oft-brutal lens of nature and reality… well then, you might fancy the Wode books.

For not only Robyn, Marion and Gamelyn are there, but so is Eleanor.

In fact, The Lion in Winter is perhaps a primo example of good, old-fashioned Mediaeval Romance.

Pax~ JTH

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tna-dspp--j tullos hennig for 10-14Robyn Hood is the undisputed ruler of the wild, green Wode. Reunited with his sister Marion and his lover Gamelyn, Robyn and his band of outlaws seek to raise the Ceugant—the magical trine of the Old Religion—against the tyranny of Church and Crown. Yet their forest kingdom is roiling with conflict. Marion has been made welcome, but old shackles and new fears hamper her true promise. Gamelyn is torn between oaths of heart and head—and the outlaws never let him forget he was but recently Guy of Gisbourne, defrocked Templar and Robyn’s fiercest enemy.

When a lone traveler is waylaid on the road, a common occurrence quickly proves uncommon. Knight and Maiden, Archer and Men, all are conscripted to aid a Queen’s—and ultimately a King’s—ransom. For beneath winter’s chill is awakening the deepest of magics, and there are those who seek the power of Robyn Hood and his Shire Wode for their own ends.

Winterwode, along with the rest of the Wode series, is available now from DSP Publications, Amazon, and most other retail outlets.

You can follow JTH via her website, Facebook and/or Tumblr.

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Now aren’t you glad your bodice was snug and secure? ;)

Many thanks to J Tullos Hennig for being here, and to Lisa and the crew at The Novel Approach Reviews for giving us a venue in which to talk about such fascinating subjects.

Next time on Genre Talk, Lissa Kasey will be here to talk about her new Fantasy/Paranormal release Evolution: Genesis. Thanks for reading and we’ll see you then!

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A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Here’s a Sneak Peek at the Coming Week

Sneak Peek

Hi, fellow book hoarders, and welcome to another sneak peek at what we have in store for you in the week ahead, as I’m feverishly preparing for the trip to San Diego and GayRomLit 2015. I hope to see so many of you there. And I hope you’ll stop me and say hello. We’ll have coffee and chat books. :-D

Here’s what awaits!

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Monday – Kicking off our week, we’re hosting author Rebecca Cohen on her Summer Season blog tour

We’ll also have author Hayden Thorne with us today to chat about the final book in the Masks series, The Porcelain Carnival

Tuesday – Today begins with Rick R. Reed when he stops by to talk a bit about the re-release of his book Tricks

We’ll also have author Charlie Cochrane with us on the tour for the latest book in the Cambridge Mysteries series, Lessons for Sleeping Dogs

Wednesday – Author Rachel Sparks joins us today on the tour for her new novel Giving Love a Chance

We’ll also be joined by J Tullos Hennig and Carole Cummings in another installment of DSPP’s Genre Talk

Thursday – Today we’ll be hosting author Jo Ramsey to chat about Work Boots and Tees, the latest installment in the Harmony Ink Young Adult series Deep Secrets and Hope

We’ll also be featuring a cover reveal today for Volume 8 of Daron’s Guitar Chronicles by author Cecilia Tan

Friday – Finally, to close out the week, we’ll have author Silvia Violet joining us on the tour for her newest novel Unexpected Engagement

And Perie Wolford will be joining us as well, on the tour for his new book Lights

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And that does it for another week. Until next time, happy reading!

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A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Here’s a Sneak Peek at the Coming Week

Sneak Peek

Hi, friends and fellow reading addicts, welcome back to another peek into the future at The Novel Approach, and a teaser of who we have visiting with us in the coming week.

We’ve got a great lineup of guest authors to share with you, along with giveaways, and, of course, many more reviews too.

Here’s what’s on tap!

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Monday – Author BA Tortuga kicks off our week this week on the tour for The Articles of Release, book two in the Release Series

Tuesday – Today we’ll be welcoming author Lexi Ander to TNA on the tour for her latest novel Dragon’s Eye

We’ll also have author Ingela Bohm joining us today to chat a bit about her new novel Last Communion

Wednesday – We’ll have author KC Burn dropping by today as a featured author on the Countdown to GayRomLit 2015 Celebration

We also have Carole Cummings and Andrew Q. Gordon stopping in for a new edition of Genre Talk

Thursday – We’ll be starting October (!!!) off with author Skylar M. Cates and an exclusive cover reveal for her upcoming Dreamspinner holiday story A Guy’s Thanksgiving

We’ll also have author AF Henley with us to chat about their new novel Wolf WY

Friday – Rounding out the second of our GayRomLit Blog Tour visits this week will be author Jaime Reese, filling us in on what she likes most about GRL

Mia Kerick will also join us today on the tour for her new book A Hard Day’s Night

And, we’ll have yet another edition of Flashback Friday for you today too

Saturday – Finally, to close out the week, we’ll have author Lex Chase here with us to chat about her new novel Bayou Fairy Tale

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And that, as they say, is that! Until next week, happy reading!

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Carole Cummings, Giveaways

Guest Post and Backlist Giveaway With Carole Cummings

Author's Spotlight

Hi, everyone, and thanks to Lisa and the crew at The Novel Approach Reviews for letting me come and do this. I’m not wearing my Genre Talk hat today, but I’ve got some plans to make the semiregular feature even more exciting in 2016, with new authors, more interviews, and lots of giveaways of DSP Publications releases. The backlists are growing and we’re all looking forward to sharing them with all you Awesome Readers.

I am, however, a bit of a Luddite, alas. And in order to bring you all the things I want to bring you, I need to know how to do the giveaways properly, which means I need to learn how to use Rafflecopter. (Shut up, I’m tech-useless and it’s scary!) So today I’m breaking my Rafflecopter cherry, and you’re all my guinea p—er, I mean my awesomely patient helpers.

The prize is a book of your choice from my backlist. All you have to do to enter is use the widget to comment below. In keeping with TNA’s upcoming Flashback Friday theme, recommend your favorite M/M Speculative Fiction novel in the comments. Please include your email address, CC backlist title choice, and preferred file format, and that’s it! Shares and referrals are like hugs but are not required. This time. Mwa ha ha ha ha ha! (<—-evil laughter) A recommendation, though, is required, so c’mon, everyone—give us all some good things to read!

Okay, that should do it. (I hope!) A winner will be chosen on Sunday and notified shortly thereafter. Thanks for your patience, and good luck!

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A Rafflecopter Giveaway

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Here’s a Sneak Peek at the Coming Week!

Sneak Peek

Cheers, everyone, and welcome back for a preview of what we have coming up for you in the week ahead. There’s lots of activity to come as we welcome some very special guests and have lots of giveaways to offer along with our reviews and another Flashback Friday feature.

Here’s what’s on tap!

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MondayNaomi MacKenzie kicks off our week as she makes the rounds on the Lodestones blog tour

We’ll also welcome author Larissa Ione to TNA today, on the tour for the newest addition to the popular Demonica series, Base Instincts

TuesdayDH Starr joins us as we continue the Countdown Celebration to GayRomLit 2015

Keira Andrews also stops by as she tours the interwebs to introduce readers to her newest novel Valor on the Move

Wednesday – Author Maggie Kavanagh joins us today to talk sequels and romance on her Inner Sanctum blog tour

Edmond Manning also drops by on his King John tour, the newest addition to the Lost and Founds series, so you won’t want to miss that as Mr. Manning always has something interesting to say

Thursday – Today we’ll look forward to having you help us welcome Brad Vance on his Werewolves of Brooklyn tour

Along with Jeff Adams, and he tours to chat about his latest release Hat Trick 3: Penalty Shot

Friday – We’ll have author Nico Jaye with us in our next Countdown to GayRomLit guest spot

N.R. Walker will also be with us, as she tours the web in support of her newest novel, Cronin’s Key III

We’ll also be bringing you another edition of Flashback Friday today, and the chance to win an e-copy of one of the featured titles. This week’s category is Speculative Fiction, so stay tuned

Sunday – Finally, to close out the week, we’ll have author Hayden Thorne here with us to introduce The Romeo and Julian Effect

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And that puts an end to this sneak peek. Until next time, happy reading!

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DSPP's Genre Talk, Luchia Dertien

DSP Publications Presents: Genre Talk With Carole Cummings and Luchia Dertien

DSP Publications

Hey, we’re back, and this time we’ve got DSP Publications author Luchia Dertien here to tell us all about her new Mystery-Suspense novel Gnomon, hot off the presses and available right now. She’s brought us an excerpt for a little later, but right now, let’s have a look at what Gnomon is all about:

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tna-dspp--luchia dertien for 09-02Emile Delaurier is a beautiful militant revolutionary, a living beacon of righteous justice for the world. For Renaire, an artist in a constant battle against the demons in the bottle, it was obsession at first sight. His devotion led to two years of homicidal partnership as Renaire followed Delaurier in his ruthless quest for equality through the death of the corrupt, like a murderous Robin Hood.

Then Delaurier breaks his pattern, leading Renaire into Russia to kill a reporter with no immoral background, and gives no explanation for his actions.

When Interpol contacts Renaire, he already has enough problems—keeping Delaurier alive, dealing with the shift in their relationship, and surviving the broken past that still haunts him. But when he learns what Interpol wants from him, Renaire must face the truth about Delaurier: that a noble man isn’t always a good one. He’s left with a choice no man should ever have to make—to follow his heart or his morals.

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Carole: So let’s start with the obvious: tell us about your genre.

Luchia: The suspense/thriller genre is about creating a fast-paced blend of action and mystery, and the goal is to write the kind of book that you need to read in one sitting. That’s exactly the sort of novel I want to read. I love getting sucked into a story, and always want to write something that hooks me. If I get bored reading my own work, it needs more work, and after a while that accumulated into what is a suspense novel! If I’m not excited to get to the next page, I’m not doing it right.

Carole: That says some promising things for Gnomon! So give us a look at what it’s all about.

Luchia: The book is a classic tale of boy meets boy, boy kills for other boy, boys then go kill people together – it’s not a very nice story. Not at the beginning, at least. The main characters are extremely messed up, but they managed to have a mostly-functional partnership for two years, running around Europe and trying to force the world into being a better place by killing bad people. And then, something changes. Our fearless leader Emile Delaurier is suddenly acting wildly out of character, obviously hiding something, and things get more and more out of control. Questions of devotion and morality are raised, and there’s no avoiding that the characters (and the world) will never be the same.
Gnomon is a blend of action, tragedy, sex, humor, mystery, tension, and romance. It’s everything I want to read in a book, and I really hope everyone enjoys it!

Carole: It sounds like they won’t have a choice! Now, Gnomon is being published through DSP Publications, Dreamspinner Press’s imprint for nonromance genre novels. Tell us about the relationship in Gnomon and why it doesn’t fit the accepted definition of Romance in the M/M genre.

Luchia: Well, for one, the romance part isn’t really about romance so much as it’s about addiction. It really is about obsession, and it’s an extremely unhealthy relationship at the start. The relationship is intense and extremely unhinged. The entire book is, really! Gnomon is a lot more like Gone Girl than a Nicholas Sparks novel. It also includes things like mass murder, suicide, and terrorism, so marketing it as a romance does seem sort of inappropriate.

Originally I was shocked that it wasn’t considered a romance, since the relationship between the two main characters is an absolutely essential plot point, but I agree more and more with the suspense genre label as time goes on. It’s not your usual suspense novel, and it’s definitely not your usual romance novel, so Gnomon is probably much safer to put in the suspense/mystery section. I’d rather have someone step away from the book because of romance instead of someone step away from the book because of violence.

Carole: Tell us about the evolution of this story. What was its earliest incarnation as a concept and when did it begin to take the form of Gnomon?

Luchia: The central question that sparked the plot is where the line is drawn between rebellions, freedom-fighters, and terrorism? Is it all a matter of public opinion? Is it all just history being written by the victors? Do people even know when they’ve tipped over the line from revolutionary to terrorist? And what sort of mindset and worldview does someone need to have to even start an uprising? I wanted to try to understand what drives someone to organized violence. I saw someone willing to kill and die for their beliefs. They had to be almost obsessively devoted to their convictions, had to be passionate and a little bit terrifying and extremely charismatic if they were going to lead others into this with them.

The concept was fascinating. I had the major scenes crystal clear in my mind within hours, and wrote it in about six weeks. It changed on me while I wrote it (the original ending was not a happy one), but it changed for the better. I’m happy with it, and actually being satisfied with my writing is a very rare thing for me.

Carole: And why did you feel it needed to be told with the M/M dynamic?

Luchia: It needed to be told with the M/M dynamic because the two main characters are in a relationship, and they’re both men. There are details that require one character to be male if the book’s going to be historically accurate, and the other character just…doesn’t work as anything other than himself. It’s a boring answer, but it’s also the honest one.

Carole: Hey, the honest ones always work best. ;) So, tell us about your own reading habits. What authors have influenced you?

Luchia: My reading habits when it comes to suspense and mystery genre novels are…unconventional. I’m a fantasy and sci-fi person overall when it comes to preferred reading, and my bookshelves are overflowing with fantasy novels, two books deep with even more shoved in on top of those. But, I have one corner for the mystery/suspense books. I don’t usually read them, but when I do, I get very, very into it.

The first time I read a suspense novel was during high school. I volunteered in the library, and someone returned Thomas Harris’ Red Dragon, the first of the Hannibal Lecter books. It was a slow day, so I started reading, and I couldn’t stop. I rushed out to the bookstore (and ‘borrowed’ the car to get there – sorry, parents!) to buy every single Thomas Harris book, and read through one per day. This was also right when the actual Hannibal book came out, and I remember being extremely frustrated with the sudden retcon in Lecter’s cannibalistic motivations and entire character and – well, I could go on about that for a long time. But back to the actual topic, which is that my sudden Harris marathon was the start of a ravenous trend that’s switched on and off over the years. I read some fantasy novels, I read some sci-fi novels, and then I completely devour a few suspense novels in a single week before going back to my usual material. It’s a strange way of doing things, but it’s also extremely satisfying to binge-read books you just can’t put down and then go back to dragons and spaceships.

Carole: Well, it’s only strange to people who don’t get the appeal of genre. Everyone else is totally with you. ;)

Thanks for being with us today, Luchia, and thanks to all the Awesome Readers who’ve come along for the ride. Buy links are at the end of the post, but first, please enjoy the following excerpt from Luchia Dertien’s Mystery-Suspense novel Gnomon:

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Gnomon: Delaurier wakes up four hours later, snapping upright and grabbing onto his armrests so tight that the plastic squeaks and bone’s visible beneath his knuckles. He takes a shuddering breath, blinks a few times, and exhales while staring straight at Renaire. He looks awkward. It’s unsettling. “Get some sleep,” Delaurier says.

Renaire is unimpressed. “That’s it?”

Delaurier frowns. “What do you mean?”

“No thank you? No asking where we’re headed? No explanation?” Renaire asks. “An explanation would be really good right now. If I get to pick something, it’s that.”

“You don’t get an explanation because you don’t need one,” Delaurier states.

Renaire isn’t letting this go. “You’re the one who says I can’t reason my way out of a paper bag, so why wouldn’t I need you to explain things for me?”

“You just proved you can reason,” Delaurier points out irritably. “Right there. You beat your own argument by making it.”

“Which only an idiot would do, proving—again—that I’m a reasonless fool who needs an explanation,” Renaire says. “So stop trying to deflect and tell me what the fuck is going on.”

“There was a threat. I removed it.”

Renaire feels like tearing his hair out, watching the stubborn set of the other man’s jaw, the unyielding stare right back into Renaire’s eyes. He shook after killing a reporter, but there’s not a thread of regret in Delaurier. They’ve killed screaming politicians and begging CEOs and maybe five times as many people in collateral damage, not to mention what the rest of the organization has done. This may have shaken him, but Renaire has plenty of nightmares about seeing soul-deep regret on Delaurier’s face, and this is a thousand shades away from that.

“Is that all I’m going to get?” Renaire asks, because he is a creature of eternal (pathetic, useless) hope when it comes to Delaurier.

“Go to sleep,” Delaurier says. “I’ll need you alert when we get to Moscow.”

Renaire doesn’t ask what’s in Moscow. Their working relationship comes down to Delaurier deciding everything and Renaire choosing whether or not to go along with whatever it is. Renaire can remember saying no probably twice. Maybe three times. It’s not like Renaire has anything else to do.

He leans back and closes his eyes, and he’s gone.

Gnomon is available now in ebook and paperback from DSP Publications, Amazon, and other major retail sellers.

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Author BioAbout the Author: Luchia Dertien is a recovered agoraphobic who climbed a 14,400 foot mountain to prove it. She does not enjoy mountain climbing. Luchia received a B.A. in English from the University of Denver and started writing when she was three years old, dictating a modern classic called Castle Castle, which is a close examination of the societal impact of overpopulation and also fighting dragons. She is an advocate for mental health treatment and the encouragement of young writers. Luchia currently lives in Denver, Colorado.

You can follow Luchia via Twitter

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Thanks for being with us today, everyone! Join us next time on Genre Talk when Andrew Q. Gordon will be by to talk to us about his upcoming Paranormal release Purpose and might just have a surprise or two up his sleeve. ;)

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A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Here’s a Sneak Peek at the Coming Week!

Sneak Peek

Welcome, friends, and many thanks for stopping by to see what we have in store for you in the week ahead!

We’ve got such a fun-filled and busy week in store for you that I’ve had to open up my calendar on Saturday and Sunday just to bring it all to you, and I’m happy to do it too.

Here’s what we have on tap:

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Monday – Kicking off our week, we have Marie Sexton as our guest today to help us celebrate the countdown to GayRomLit 2015

Joining Marie will be author Hayden Thorne, doing a little bit of her own celebrating of the release of her YA Historical Fantasy novel Desmond and Garrick (Book Two)

Tuesday – We have another two fabulous authors with us today. First up is Mickie B. Ashling to chat a bit about her new novel Forged in Trust

Next up is L.A. Witt, who’s joining us to talk about Running with Scissors (the book, not the “don’t run with…”) :-)

Wednesday – Today we have author and editor Denise Wyant with us today to share an excerpt from the just recently released anthology Apple Bites, a blend of M/M and M/F shorts, ranging from sweet to spicy

We also have another edition of “Genre Talk” with Carole Cummings coming up today, featuring Luchia Dertien in the spotlight

Thursday – We’re kicking off today with a cover reveal from Riptide Publishing for the next new book in their popular Bluewater Bay collection

We’ll also have author Joe Cosentino with us to talk about his new book Shooting Star

Friday – And starting a busy day today, we’ll have author Rhys Ford with us to do a little celebrating of her own, for the release of Sloe Ride, Quinn Morgan and Rafe Andrade’s story in the Sinner’s Gin series

We’ll also welcome author Morticia Knight as our second guest of the week in the Countdown to GayRomLit 2015

And Rayna Vause will also be here to chat about her new novel Demon of Mine

Saturday – Today we have author Sandrine Gasq-Dion joining us on the blog tour for her new book Fret

Sunday – Author T.M. Smith closes out our week on the tour for her new book Fame and Fortune

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And that does it for this week. Until next time, happy reading!

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Carole Cummings, DSPP's Genre Talk, Rick R. Reed

DSP Publications Presents: Genre Talk with Carole Cummings and Rick R. Reed

DSP Publications

Happy Tuesday, everyone, and Happy Release Day to Rick R. Reed! Rick has graciously agreed to come tell Genre Talk all about his new Horror-Romance, A Demon Inside, which is available for purchase right now from DSP Publications. He’s also brought us an excerpt, but first, let’s have a look at what Rick’s newest is all about.

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a demon insideA Demon Inside

Hunter Beaumont doesn’t understand his grandmother’s deathbed wish: “Destroy Beaumont House.” He’s never even heard of the place. But after his grandmother passes and his first love betrays him, the family house in the Wisconsin woods looks like a tempting refuge. Going against his grandmother’s wishes, Hunter flees to Beaumont House.

But will the house be the sanctuary he had hoped for? Soon after moving in, Hunter realizes he may not be alone. And with whom—or what—he shares the house may plunge him into a nightmare from which he may never escape. Sparks fly when he meets his handsome neighbor, Michael Burt, a caretaker for the estate next door. The man might be his salvation… or he could be the source of Hunter’s terror.

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Carole: So, Rick, you’ve visited with us before to talk about your Suspense-Thriller IM and how it was difficult to pin it to just one genre. Now you’ve got A Demon Inside, which is categorized as Mystery-Suspense but is pretty heavy on the Romance too. So if I ask you to tell us about your genre, which one(s) are we dealing with?

Rick: Do I have a genre? Am I restricted to only one? Can I check more than one box? See, I love writing—and reading!!—all different sorts of genres. My favorites for both are romance, horror, dark suspense, and thrillers. I suppose, since this post concentrates on my latest release, A Demon Inside, I should tell you about my love for horror. I think I love horror because it’s a very pure genre, with a very pure objective: does it frighten you? Just like the key question for comedy is: does it make you laugh? Horror has the same emotional touchstone, how the author gets you to that fearful place can vary, but he or she must hit that bottom line—to scare you. I find the best way to do that is to appeal to our universal fears, which have to do with protecting our own lives and those whom we love. Horror in a way is like romance, because it’s about distilled and universal emotions, often with the same signposts—rapidly beating heart, uptick in respiration, and so on….

Carole: You’ve been writing M/M for quite a while, since before it was really a genre. You must have seen a lot of changes from then until now.

Rick: When I first began seeing the term m/m romance, I wasn’t even aware I was writing it. I thought I was just writing stories about people I knew (i.e. gay people) and their desire to love and be loved, possibly the strongest and most universal of all desires. When it became a “thing” I realized that I didn’t always color within the lines (my endings might be happy for now, for example), but I think there is room for diversity in m/m romance, just like there’s room for it in life. And thank god for our differences, as well as what brings us together.

Carole: Tell us about A Demon Inside

Rick: I think A Demon Inside is a bit of a throwback to the gothic horror novels of the past, set in contemporary time and place. It’s the story of an outsider, a sheltered young gay man, fleeing the world and its pains to hide away in a big, old, and foreboding house he inherited. Of course, the house, he comes to find is not empty, but occupied by a presence more fearful than anything from which he tried to run. It’s a very traditional kind of horror story, but with a gay twist.

Carole: A Demon Inside is being published through DSP Publications, Dreamspinner Press’s imprint for nonromance genre novels, but at the same time, there’s as much Romance in this book as there is Horror, isn’t there?

Rick: There is. At its heart, as with almost anything I write, there’s a love story. What’s fun about this is the suspicion I build that the love interest could also be the source of the fear and danger.

Carole: Ah, keep ’em guessing, yeah? That’s why they call is suspense! ;) Speaking of, this is always my favorite question: Tell us about the evolution of this story. What was its earliest incarnation as a concept and when did it begin to take the form of A Demon Inside?

Rick: Short answer: I don’t know how I thought of it, but I once had the realization that one of the most horrifying things I could imagine is to awaken in a pitch-dark room, thinking I’m alone but then to hear someone nearby whispering my name. Just the idea of that gave me chills…and Hunter experiences that in A Demon Inside…and it was really that little thing that inspired the whole story.

Carole: Wow, it is a little thing, but it packs a disturbing punch, doesn’t it? *shudder* And hearkens back to so many classic horror tales. So are there any movies or TV shows that have inspired you when it’s come to your horror works?

Rick: When I was a little boy, I was a huge, huge fan of the horror soap opera, Dark Shadows. I used to run home every day to watch it. I had Barnabas and Quentin posters on my wall, a scrapbook and even the series soundtrack album. I believe that series, and its trafficking on horror tropes, was definitely an inspiration.

I would also mention a couple of movies that probably also taught me a lot about horror and especially how things unseen can be scarier than in-your-face gore and blatant shock value. Those are: The Haunting of Hill House and Carnival of Souls. They’re both so moody, atmospheric, and truly nightmarish. They stick with you.

Carole: They really do. THoHH especially has one of the best opening paragraphs of all time, in my opinion. And no doubt your work will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with it.

Thanks so much, Rick, for being with us here today, and much success with your new release.

And thank you, Awesome Readers, for spending time with us today. Please enjoy the following excerpt from Rick R. Reed’s new release A Demon Inside, then scroll down to the bottom of the post for the buy links.

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Excerpt: Hunter stands in front of a blackened Beaumont House, transformed into a silhouette by the dying crimson sky behind it. One by one lights come on in the house, small pools of light. By themselves the double doors of the house open. Hunter backs away, then stands paralyzed, staring at the open doors as if they have issued an invitation to him, which, in a sense, they have.

The night air cools around him. The red sky deepens in hue, displaying swatches of lilac, deep purple, and blue. The orchestra of frogs, crickets, and cicadas grows louder in proportion to the quickly encroaching darkness.

Hunter shivers, and the house looks more and more tempting—warm. But he feels an unreasonable, unnamable dread. The warmth, he thinks, is deceptive. The house is calling to him, he’s sure, but it’s a siren’s call, with purposes he won’t even begin to fully understand until he’s walked firmly into its clutches.

Just as he is about to turn away, he glimpses figures moving inside. He turns back slowly and sees his parents on the curving staircase, about halfway up. They stare at him, their expressions impossible to read. His mother raises a hand, beckoning.

He needs no more incentive. He hurries to the house, picking up his pace as his parents turn, ascending the stairs into the shadows. As Hunter crosses the threshold, his parents vanish into darkness.

He can hear their whispers, though, as he mounts the steps. He gets to the top and sees them at the end of the corridor, watching him. Hunter feels tears gathering in his eyes and starts to run to them.

And slams into a mirror.

He steps back, disoriented, and looks in the opposite direction, but there is only a hallway, almost pitch black, awaiting him. Turning back, he looks again into the mirror and sees the same dark, empty corridor.

Suddenly he is surrounded by whispers, snatches of conversation, music… all of it fading in and out like someone spinning an old-fashioned tuning dial on a radio. Frozen, Hunter stands peering into the black, trying to force the rapid adaptation of his eyes to pinpoint the source of the noise.

Where has all the light gone that he had seen from outside?

He is seized by fear, his heart pounding, hairs standing up on the back of his neck, a scream trapped in his throat. All around he can feel a presence. Blindly he dashes down the hallway, hands outstretched, groping. Webs stick to his face, Insects attach themselves to him until all he can feel are sickening crawling sensations all over his body. Ahead in the dimness, something with a hairless tail and glowing eyes skitters into the darkness.

A light comes on at the end of the hallway. Gratefully Hunter lunges toward it.

He gasps when he enters the room. It is his grandmother’s bedroom, right here in Evanston. With his fist Hunter stifles the scream about to emerge. Nana lies propped once more on the pillows, her eyes engaging and imploring him.

“Destroy Beaumont House.” His grandmother makes the command over and over again, a litany, her voice dead and toneless. Soon other voices join in, people hidden in shadows in corners of the room. The chorus rises in volume until it hurts his ears.

And then it stops. Hunter moves toward his grandmother, but before his eyes she morphs into something else, something scaly with feral yellow eyes.

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A Demon Inside is available now in both ebook and paperback from DSP Publications and Amazon, as well as other retail outlets.

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Rick R. ReedAbout the Author: 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). Raining Men and Caregiver have both won the Rainbow Award for gay fiction. 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.”

You can follow Rick via the following links: Website || Blog || Facebook || Twitter || E-mail

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Thanks to everyone for joining us for this edition of Genre Talk, and thanks, as always, to Lisa and the gang here at The Novel Approach for letting us come and pretend we know what we’re doing for a little while. Please join us next time when we drag Luchia Dertien into our genre circus and sic the scary clowns on her, just for giggles. ;)

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A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Here’s a Sneak Peek at the Coming Week!

Sneak Peek

Cheers, everyone! Thanks so much for stopping by to see what we have in store for you in the coming week here at The Novel Approach. We’ve a whole slew of great guests coming to visit us, including our next author feature on the Countdown to GayRomLit 2015 tour, so sit back, relax, and wait for all the fun to start.

Here’s a rundown of what you can expect!

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Monday – Author Kim Fielding is here to help us kick off a great week today, on the Rattlesnake blog tour

And joining her are the writing duo of S.A. McAuley and SJD Peterson, with an interview on their Ruin Porn tour

Tuesday – We have another installment of DSPP’s “Genre Talk” on deck today, when Carole Cummings interviews author Rick R. Reed about the re-release of his chilling and thrilling A Demon Inside

We’ll also welcome Felice Stevens today with a guest post that’s quite personal to her, as she joins us to chat about her new book Beyond the Surface

Wednesday – Today we welcome debut author A.V. Sanders, with an exclusive excerpt from her new May/December romance short, Percolation, Poetry, and Passion

Author Charlie Cochrane will also be joining us today on the tour for her new book from Bold Strokes Books, Don’t Kiss the Vicar

ThursdaySara York drops in on us today to chat about her latest release, Bonded 2

Joining us as well, is author Sedonia Guillone to chat about her latest novel Danny’s Dragon

Friday – Finally, closing out our week we have GayRomLit attending author AC Katt with us to chat about the dreaded writer’s block

And author Jessie G. will be here as well, on her Their Reason blog tour

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That puts the cap on another great week. Until next time, happy reading!

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Deja Black, DSP Publications, DSPP's Genre Talk

DSPP Presents: Genre Talk with Carole Cummings and Deja Black

DSP Publications

Hullo, everyone, and welcome to the latest edition of Genre Talk. This week we’ve got DSP Publications author Deja Black in the hotseat, and she’s brought an excerpt from her new release, Broken Bones, to share. But first, let’s have a look at what it’s all about and get to the grilling. ;)

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tna-dspp-deja black for 08-05Dan Tolliver, the adopted son of alpha pack leader Jeremiah Tolliver, has suffered his last moment of abuse by his lover Keith Mulligan and finds himself in the hospital. There he meets dark and sharp-tongued Dr. Aiden Kavanaugh, who believes Dan needs some of his straightforward kind of medicine. Still, there is something different about the doctor.

Aiden is a sandman, a weaver of dreams, and has been on earth far longer than even he knows. He’s at the end of his time, ready to transition, and needs a human mate to keep him connected to the world he’s grown to love. Only he hasn’t found a special person who makes him want to stay. He doesn’t despair, because not every sandman has the chance to choose, but he knows if he doesn’t find a partner, he will soon lose his physical form and exist only in dreams.

When Aiden realizes Keith is a far greater monster than Dan has any idea, they grow and work together using the support of the pack—and Dan’s inner strength—to overcome impossible odds.

Broken Bones is available for purchase in ebook and paperback from DSP Publications, Amazon, and most other retail outets.

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Carole: Sounds like you’re really mixing it up here, with lots of intrigue and paranormal genre elements. So let’s start there. Tell us about your genre.

Deja: I write paranormal suspense/mystery. I love my supernatural beings, but love them more when they’re fighting crime or some type of demonic adversary, whether it’s of the mentally horrific persuasion or the heinous physical kind. I like my reads with all types of flavors—a little sweet, a little gritty, a little twisted. My genre allows me to give all of that with the promise that there will be a happy ending. My requirement for my main characters, as with any book I choose to read, is that two men better be falling in love. There must be the opportunity for me to introduce a completely new or untouched being, or play around with a bit of the old. There must be passion, struggle. The battle they face and the enemy they overcome will bring them together, unite them in such a way that their lives and the impressions they have made on the reader will not be easily forgotten. Writing paranormal suspense/mystery allows me to do exactly that.

Carole: You mentioned “two men better be falling in love”. Why two men?

Deja: Well, there is simply something mouthwatering to me about two men falling in love, vulnerable yet empowered. It’s scintillating imagery that I want so desperately to immortalize in word. Men love differently. They love differently with women. They love passionately with men in a way that their physical prowess, their power, is that much more impressive because they don’t have to hold back. Still, that release may be tempered by the restrictions and vices of a warped society, but conquering the limitations that the world may try to throw against them inspires me to reach above and surpass my own obstacles. The physical beauty of two men entwined is, to me, artistic. It’s a symbol of freedom, the ability to love, to hope regardless of circumstance. It excites me, and it challenges me to capture it in a way that is artistically authentic. As a woman, it requires talking to men, researching, finding out what works and what doesn’t. It requires me to learn more about a subject that never fails to make me burn with interest.

Carole: As it will with your readers, no doubt. So, tell us about Broken Bones.

Deja: Broken Bones brings together the explored paranormal world (werewolves/shifters) with the unexplored (sandman). It is a story of overcoming fears and adversity, while also finding love and acceptance.

Though hard to take in, readers need to understand the introduction is necessary. That moment for Dan is his turning point in a life that has nearly destroyed his spirit. It is where the reader can not only empathize with his suffering, but honestly connect, and though it’s terrible and horrific, it’s written so that readers might truly appreciate how far Dan is able to rise to become what Aiden needs.

I wanted my readers to enjoy meeting a different supernatural creature, to see Aiden as both a man and as the glorious being he can become. I enjoyed bringing Aiden to life, building his world, aiding him in finding someone for him—someone who would help him, love him, be the family he needs when he feels lost and alone. I wanted readers to appreciate and cheer for Dan and Aiden in their battle to vanquish someone so evil, something so sinister, whose mission it was to destroy them both. I want readers to be able to shout with joy as they prevail against their shared enemy together.

Carole: Broken Bones is being published through DSP Publications, Dreamspinner Press’s imprint for nonromance genre novels. Tell us about the relationship in Broken Bones and why it doesn’t fit the accepted definition of Romance in the M/M genre.

Deja: DSP Publications is a branch of Dreamspinner Press that promotes nonromance genre novels. Why is this the perfect fit for me? Hmm. While I love a great romance, my stories tend to lend themselves more to the writings of James Patterson or even Steven King. Yes, I have two men (sometimes more) who will fall in love, but the story itself is so much more than the romance between them. My plot is filled with action, supports a storyline that will capture the reader’s attention, make their blood rush while the hunt is on for the villain, draw them into the story, and never truly release them as they anticipate the next read, the next step in the characters’ lives. There’s horror, tragedy, suspense, and humor, both dark and light. These all blend to make a read that reaches beyond the traditional romance. DSP Publications allows me the opportunity to blend my romance with a storyline filled with energy and complications not often faced by the main character. And yet, we still have two men who fall in love.

Carole: Tell us about the evolution of this story. What was its earliest incarnation as a concept and when did it begin to take the form of Broken Bones?

Deja: The first few lines of the story itself came to me while I was working on something else actually. I still need to complete that piece, so I won’t mention too much about it right now. Anyway, creating the demon for that work led me to Dan, which in turn gave me Aiden, the sandman. Before I realized it, I had already moved on to writing the first chapter, placing the other work on the backburner because I had to tell Dan and Aiden’s story, make them real. I couldn’t let them go without completing it, without bringing them to life and helping them have their happy ending. I visualized my men, how they would look, how they would love. I knew who Aiden would be, what he would be. I knew what he needed. I knew Dan would have to be broken in order to become the steel that Aiden’s creature would require for balance, to give him a home. Keith was there in the beginning, a sleek and powerful presence the two of them would have to face. Dan would have to challenge his fears. Aiden would have to choose to be loved. And, there we have it. Broken Bones was born.

Carole: Organic evolution—my favorite kind! ;) Okay, so you’ve talked about why you write M/M in general—now tell us why you felt this story in particular needed to be told with the M/M dynamic.

Deja: Well, it’s sort of the way I think. For so long I believed I was the only one who loved M/M writing. Imagine my joy to discover a world of readers who enjoyed the romance that could be shared between two men! Nirvana! I’ve actually been writing M/M romance ever since I was young, and to unearth an audience that would treasure my men as much as I do has been one of life’s greatest moments. Why does this story have an M/M dynamic? It’s what I read. It’s what I love. It’s a story that needs my men to make it whole.

Carole: Will there be more of Dan and Aiden?

Deja: Yes, there will be. I will continue their story through the lives of others. There’s more for these two men, more for them to experience. The Broken Series already has a sequel in the making, and while many of you have asked about Kristoff, his story will be in Broken Promises. Peter’s story will help to introduce Kristoff’s story in Broken Pieces.

Carole: And will there be more unique supernatural beings?

Deja: Yes, there most certainly will be, along with variations of the tried and true classics. My men have their own stories to tell, their own powers and abilities to thrill you. Not stereotypical, not a carbon copy. Variety. It’s the spice of life. I’m here to ensure you enjoy the many flavors.

Carole: How do you manage the balance between main characters and side characters?

Deja: I treat my characters as people with stories to tell. Real people know others, interact with them. I give that to my characters. They know people, some more than others. They live and breathe, sharing their pain, facing obstacles, and they grow. My main characters need the side or secondary characters for that to happen, to make their world real, the story cohesive. In my mind, I see their lives and the people they know and love, or even hate. My mission? To make sure you do, too, which means giving everyone a story to tell.

Thank you for reading the thoughts behind Broken Bones. May you enjoy reading Dan and Aiden’s story as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Carole: And thank you, Deja, for spending some time with us today. I’ve no doubt our awesome readers are intrigued and looking forward to sinking into Dan and Aiden’s world.

And to you, Awesome Readers, thank you for hanging out with us. Stay tuned for buy links, but for now, please enjoy the following excerpt from Deja Black’s Broken Bones:

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EXCERPT: BROKEN BONES:

As time passed, with Dan continuing to see Aiden vividly in his dreams, he could no longer put off discussing how Aiden was involved in Dan’s psyche.

“You’re holding back, Daniel. You’ve yet to share where I fit in, in those dreams of yours.”

The question stole his breath. Dan had wanted to avoid this. Yeah, he knew it was going to come up, that his father would not have neglected to tell Aiden of his name being cried out by Dan as he slept. Was Jeremiah aware that, instead of those cries resulting from pain, they were in fact cries directly connected to the emptying of his balls, blissful visions of his dick encased within Aiden’s scrumptious ass? The more time he spent with Aiden, the more the fantasies increased, and the more the kneading spread over his body, the more Dan hungered for his touch. If Aiden reached any higher, he was going to encounter a hard dick with a specific destination in mind. In fact, Dan was starting to want those fingers wrapped around his mushroom cap as he spilled into Aiden’s waiting hand.

“Ugh.” Dan groaned as he stood abruptly, moving away from Aiden. He needed space from the source of these thoughts. He didn’t know if he could fight the impulse to jump Aiden’s bones, straddle him, and kiss the fuck out of those juicy lips that teased him. Oh, what he wanted to do with that tongue, what he wanted to do with his own. Deep breaths. Deep breaths.

“Daniel?” Aiden moved to stand, but Dan placed his hand out to ward him off. Aiden eased back onto the bench. “Okay….”

The day was nice, one of many they had enjoyed in the gardens. The sun was bright, eager to give light to Dan’s hidden secrets. Was he ready for this, ready to share what had been tying him in knots every day he saw him?

With Aiden’s assurance that he would remain seated, Dan took a second to count down until he could breathe a little easier. It was all or nothing. True, he needed to get everything off his chest, but did he want to tell Aiden what role he was playing in Dan’s fantasies, that when he took a shower, Aiden’s face covered in his cum was what made him get off?

“Daniel, your dreams about me? What do you see me doing in them?”

Aiden had decided to help him along? Okay. Dan could do that. Answer Aiden’s questions. There was a chance he might feel the need to limit how much he would actually say, though. He wasn’t quite ready for much more. Just thinking about it was making a noticeable impression against the fly of his jeans. In fact, Little Dan was trying to make a break for it as they spoke. Spinning around, Dan gave himself time to adjust, shifting his leg with the hope of changing his manhood’s position at least.

“Sometimes you’re talking to me, just talking.” Just a minute more, and he would totally look at Aiden, not completely wimp out. “And other times….”

Aiden was nearer now. Dan felt the heat of Aiden’s body against his back, one hand sliding down his thigh, mapping his flesh. Those lips that had often mesmerized Dan were at his ear, wet and traveling.

“Other times? I… we… we’re making love. I’m leading, or you’re leading. We’re drenched in each other’s cum. There are moments when….” Dan had to pause before he could share the one that had shaken him to his bones. The fantasy or dream, whatever it was, when he had awakened and sat erect in bed, breath pumping like he had just finished a marathon. He could almost taste the blood in his mouth. The shock of that was what forced him out of sleep. It was vivid, tangible. They had drunk from each other, shared each other’s blood. Dan remembered being so hungry for it, gorging himself on Aiden’s carotid artery like he was a starving man and Aiden was his first meal. It was—he was so good. Dan ran his tongue along his teeth as if he could recapture the nectar, the honeyed taste. It was light, like wine… sweet ambrosia. He wanted it now, could almost taste it. Just thinking about it, remembering it, was driving him out of his mind. It didn’t help that Aiden’s touches were building a fire within him he felt powerless to contain.

“Well, I wouldn’t say no to that, Dan.”

Aiden licked him softly against the shell of his ear, then used sharp teeth to nip at him, stoking the flames. He sighed, leaning into Aiden as he welcomed him, made him feel at home. Aiden gently turned Dan in his arms, drawing him closer. He bent down to Dan’s lips, reached his tongue out for a sample first before placing them hotly against Dan’s to enjoy the whole meal. Immediately Dan’s cock was granite. He could even feel the precum wetting the inside of his boxer briefs, his dick pressing against the zipper, eager to rut against Aiden’s own. Lips locked together, Dan crushed Aiden to him, trying to crawl inside the marrow of his bones.

It was good, fucking good. He had been waiting, torturing himself with thoughts of Aiden. It was real skin, real flesh he was grasping needily, real cloth Dan was rending apart with eager hands, desperate to get to more skin, to feel Aiden’s nakedness against him. He wanted Aiden. He wanted him, and Dan was going to take him right here, right now, on this ground. He was going to sink between those glorious globes and spear that tender hole. For once, he would be the one in control. The gasps of breath Aiden heaved now would be nothing compared to the cries he would make as Dan thrust his hungry cock inside him, owned him. They would slow dance to their own blended rhythm, and he would savor every step.

“Danny Boy! What. The. Fuck.”

Oh, shit. Conner. Dan spun to see his Celtic brother marching toward them, a cell phone in hand, target in sight, battle ready. The pink case practically glowed in Conner’s paws, so clearly the phone was not his.

Arriving next to the two, Conner faced Aiden down. “This is what you are being paid to do, is it, Kavanagh? Maul my brother,” Conner growled.

“Maul him, Mr. Tolliver? I would chance to look at him and then to me.” Aiden glanced down toward his powder blue Ralph Lauren cotton dress shirt, buttons missing, petal-soft fabric torn open to reveal tanned flesh. Face flushed from Dan’s passionate assault, red welts standing out along his neck from Dan’s teeth.

Dan was trying to catch his breath. What had come over him? He wasn’t alone in it, though. Aiden had touched him, had hungered for those kisses as much as he wanted to feed them to him. He could feel the roughness of his tongue as he tugged on Dan’s lobe. Not just Dan. They shared equally whatever this was between them, overpowering them both.

“Conner,” Dan called, louder when his brother started squaring off. True, Aiden looked like he could probably hold his own, but with Conner’s martial arts training and combat experience, Dan didn’t want to chance it. Besides, he was as much at fault as Aiden. “I did it. I… uhm… I kissed him.”

Conner turned to face him, eyes wide. “You… you started this? You’ve never….”

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Author BioDEJA BLACK had fantasies of men loving men, men who felt strongly, loved hard, and needed a hero. Then one great day she came across a book and discovered the world of M/M writing, encountered others who shared her obsession as much as she did, and found a world where she could not only be accepted for the lives and loves she envisioned, but she could create them too. So why not? Why not take the stories she would write and throw away as a teenager, grow them, dream them, and make them a reality where she could know her own characters, let them live their story, and make them real for someone else? And she did. Now, with the support of her hubby and some intense time management, she is learning to balance her family of two children at home and the many others she teaches each and every day with her passion of writing what she loves to read.

Deja is always interested in connecting to new people who also share her love, so please feel free to contact her via: Facebook, her blog, and Twitter

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That’s all for this edition of Genre Talk. Please join us next time when Rick R. Reed will be visiting again to talk about his upcoming Horror/Romance release, A Demon Inside. (You know you can’t wait!)

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A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Here’s a Sneak Peek at the Coming Week

Sneak Peek

Cheers, everyone, I hope you’ve all had a fantastic weekend! Thanks so much for stopping by to see what we have coming up in the week ahead. I hope you’ll come back to visit with our guest authors and to check out some of the reviews we have in store for you.

Here’s what’s on tap:

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Monday – We have Lexi Ander stopping in for a visit to help us kick of the week, on her Surrounded by Crimson blog tour

We’re also hosting author Shae Connor today on the What Happened in Vegas?? blog tour

Tuesday – We have Tuesday twofer for you today, when authors Piper Vaughn and Kenzie Cade drop by on their Prickly Business blog tour

WednesdayR.J. Jones is our lead-off guest today on the Black and Bluhe blog tour

We’re also welcoming Carole Cummings back for another edition of Genre Talk with author Deja Black

ThursdayCharlie Cochet is our guest of honor today on the Against the Grain blog tour

Friday – And finally, Tara Lain is wrapping up the week to help us celebrate the GayRomLit 2015 Blog Tour, with an interview with her guys from Knave of Broken Hearts

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And that does it for now. Until next time, happy reading!

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DSP Publications, DSPP's Genre Talk, Patricia Correll

DSP Publications Presents: Genre Talk with Patricia Correll and Carole Cummings

DSP Publications

GENRE TALK WITH CAROLE CUMMINGS AND PATRICIA CORRELL

Greetings and Happy Wednesday! Today on Genre Talk we have DSP Publications author Patricia Correll who’s here to talk about Late Summer, Early Spring, which is two (two!) books in one. So before we get to the chatting, let’s have a look at what Patricia’s brought for us:

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tna-dspp--patricia correll for 07-08Hour of the Lotus
General Sho Iwata is devastated when the man he secretly loves, Prince Narita, is struck with a mysterious illness. Iwata’s current lover, Hiroshi, is well aware of the general’s unrequited passion. But that isn’t his biggest problem. His sister is Narita’s favorite consort, but Hiroshi believes she has been replaced by an imposter. When they discover the true cause of the illness, they will have to battle an ancient spirit and survive.

Fox Hunter
Lord General Sho Iwata sets out in search of the mysterious Fox Hunter. When he finds his former lover, Hiroshi, he discovers a changed man, scarred inside and out and consumed by vengeance. Together with Narita’s grown son Daigo, Iwata and Hiroshi pursue the malicious spirit as it leaves bloodshed in its wake. Iwata worries about what will become of Hiroshi when the fox is defeated—if Hiroshi’s revenge doesn’t kill him first.

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Carole: Wow. Sounds wonderfully complex and intriguing, so let’s start at the beginning. Tell us about your genre.

Patricia: I tend to write character-driven fantasy stories and Late Summer, Early Spring is pretty typical of my style. While it is fantasy, it’s not the world-shattering, wizard battling, when-does-the-war start fantasy. I love that kind of story, but I’m not interested in writing it! Late Summer, Early Spring is an intimate story focusing on a handful of characters, but set in another world and with supernatural elements based on Japanese mythology.

The world-shattering, when-does-the-war-start fantasy definitely seems more common in today’s world, but I think as a genre fantasy is open to many kinds of stories and my type of writing has its niche. Fantasy has always been an inclusive genre, and is open to characters of many races (and species), orientations, and values. I feel that relatively recently there’s been a shift from telling stories based on European history and mythology to stories based on other worlds, which I think is really exciting.

Fantasy is a broad and open genre, and its writers, publishers and readers are willing to entertain all kinds of ideas, even if they widely diverge from what’s accepted by the mainstream. I love it. I can’t think of any other genre that’s quite as diverse and welcoming.

Carole: So, with all that wide-open space, why M/M?

Patricia: My mind works on a story for a long time before I ever write the first word, and as a consequence my characters are fully formed as soon as they hit paper. Iwata and Hiroshi just happened to be lovers; I saw that the relationship added a new layer to the story and ran with it.

Carole: And Spec Fic is all about layers. ;) So tell us about Late Summer, Early Spring.

Patricia: The book is actually two linked novellas; the title refers to the seasons when each story takes place, though the late summer and early spring are actually separated by eight years.

I’ve written several short stories based on Japanese folktales. I’ve always imagined the old storytellers sitting around the fire, giving every well-worn tale their own personal twist. I like to think I’m upholding that tradition when I write these stories.

These two novellas are the latest in this vein; they’re loosely based on an old folktale about a shape-shifting vampire cat. While I’m fond of cats, I thought it would be more fun to transfer the villainy to Asian mythology’s most famous shape-changing trickster, the fox, which has a long and detailed supernatural history. Hour of the Lotus and The Fox Hunter are definitely the most complex of my retold folktales, and I think that’s because I find the main characters so engaging.

Carole: Late Summer, Early Spring is being published through DSP Publications, Dreamspinner Press’s imprint for nonromance genre novels. Tell us about the relationship in Late Summer, Early Spring and why it doesn’t fit the accepted definition of Romance in the M/M genre.

Patricia: Iwata and Hiroshi are already lovers when Hour of the Lotus begins. Their relationship changes as the plot develops over the course of the two novellas, and progresses from solving a mystery to seeking revenge. It’s an aspect of the story, but not the whole story.

Hour of the Lotus was originally published under (spoiler!) Dreamspinner’s Bittersweet Dreams imprint, which means the ending isn’t exactly a happy one. I always felt like the end of that novella was more like a pause, and I later wrote a sequel, The Fox Hunter. I submitted it to Dreamspinner, and that’s when I learned about DSP Publications. They suggested packaging the two novellas together. I was thrilled, because it seemed like DSP Publications was a better home for it, focusing as it does on stories where romance is not necessarily the main point. I felt it was possible that some readers might have been disappointed with Hour of the Lotus, if they were expecting a straight-up love story. People who read books from DSP Publications should be going into it with the knowledge that they’re going to get something different.

Carole: *nod nod nod* That’s what I always say! ;) Okay, now we’ve come to my favorite question: tell us about the evolution of this story. What was its earliest incarnation as a concept and when did it begin to take the form of Late Summer, Early Spring?

Patricia: Since I have an interest in world mythology, I like to seek out folktales from different places. I came across the vampire cat story. All the basics of Hour of the Lotus come from it: the energy-sucking shape-shifting villain, the loyal retainer who fights to solve the mystery and save his prince. But as my characters developed they brought with them more and more elements and the story became more complex. Unrequited love from a couple of different angles, familial loyalty, traditional Asian values, adherence to duty and finally, a quest for revenge and forgiveness. When Hour of the Lotus was complete, I knew there would be a follow-up, but it took some time to write it.

Two of my favorite writers are Ursula K. LeGuin or Peter S. Beagle, and you may be able to see their influence on my style. I aim for just enough description, and hopefully a little lyricism as well.

Carole: Well, if you’re going to have role models, you can’t go wrong with those two. Now, with everything going on in these two stories, why did you feel they needed to be told with the M/M dynamic?

Patricia: I honestly didn’t put that much thought into it. Hiroshi and Iwata seemed like a natural couple. As their personalities developed, it was obvious that Hiroshi was the sort of determined person Iwata would respect, and the strict, collected Lord General was the kind of man, or challenge, really, that Hiroshi would be eager to take on.

Carole: And finally, as a kind of tagalong to that last question: there are so many questions writers get asked, some unusual, some clichéd, some that make you go “hmm…” and some for which we actually have an answer. Give us one you get a lot and how you generally answer.

Patricia: When people learn I’m a writer, they often say, “I wish I could write, but…”

But I don’t know how/I don’t have time/I have no talent.

Well, I can help you. You don’t know how? Here’s a notebook, a pen (or a laptop — I write longhand but most people don’t). Sit down in this chair and begin. You don’t have time? Do you eat lunch? Eat with one hand, write with the other. If your kids are at the park, write while they play. As for talent, there’s a place for it, but it’s far, far less important than work.

People tend to think that writing is some holy experience where you go into a locked room and work in absolute solitude and silence for hours at a time. Some people can do that, but the rest of us fit it in when we can, while the TV is on or the radio or the guy in the next cubicle is on the phone. If you keep your story running in a stream at the back of your mind, you can easily dip your fingers in and pluck out a piece of it while your kid is at sports practice.

We all have lots of stuff to do in our lives, but if it’s important to you, you’ll find the time for it, and if you want to learn to do it, you will. Anyone can write if they really want to.

Carole: Interesting points, Patricia, and thanks so much for sharing them. And thank you, Dear Readers, for dropping by. Buy links and other info is at the bottom of the post, but first, please enjoy the following from Patricia’s upcoming release:

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EXCERPT: LATE SUMMER, EARLY SPRING

A lantern hung at the end of the new corridor. A figure stood in front of it, cast into darkness by the light behind. Iwata pulled up short.

“Lord General Iwata?” The figure spoke. “Younger Brother?”

Iwata felt Hiroshi’s muscles knot; he thought he could hear the younger man’s teeth grind. Iwata made himself relax and sheathe his katana. But he kept his hand on his obi, where his dagger hid.

Lady Kumomo drifted toward them, emerging from the darkness into the dim light. Her face shone white as the moon. Despite the hour she was fully dressed, her hair piled in a shining mound on top of her head. “Why is your sword out, Hiroshi?”

“We’re protecting the prince tonight.” He didn’t sheathe it.

Iwata interrupted. “Why is my lady out at this hour?”

“I couldn’t sleep, my lord. My worry for my prince is too great.” She smiled sadly. Iwata peered into her face, but he saw nothing sinister, nothing false. Nothing that had not been there before.

She turned to Hiroshi, who stood just behind Iwata, his katana still exposed. “I’m sorry if I frightened you, Brother.”

Hiroshi’s eyes were black pools in the dimness. His scar stretched tight across his face. He held his sword so tightly that his knuckles were white.

Don’t, Iwata thought, his gut clenching. Don’t.

Hiroshi stared at Lady Kumomo. His fingers twitched, and Iwata gripped the hilt of his dagger. Lady Kumomo blinked at him, her face a mask of puzzlement. “Brother?”

Hiro, Iwata thought desperately.

As if he’d heard, Hiroshi breathed deeply. Woodenly he sheathed his sword.

“No,” he said quietly, his voice brittle. “You don’t frighten me.”

She stepped past Iwata, who stiffened. She smelled of incense and honey. “Poor Hiroshi. Good night.” She raised one hand and brushed his cheek with lacquered nails. Then she leaned up and kissed his scarred cheek. A visible shudder coursed through Hiroshi’s body. Lady Kumomo stepped back, smiling. A light flashed in her eyes; a light that shouldn’t have been there, so far from the lantern. An icy fist clutched the base of Iwata’s spine.

“Good evening, Lord General. Take good care of your prince.” She rested a hand lightly on Iwata’s arm. A spike of pain tore through his wounded thigh, pooling beneath the stitches. The agony was so intense it made Iwata’s head spin. Vaguely he felt the pressure of her hand lift, heard the rustle of her robes, saw the flicker as she passed by the lantern. When she was lost to the darkness, Iwata staggered back and leaned against the wall. Hiroshi remained in the center of the corridor, staring after Lady Kumomo. His face had collapsed into fury, disgust… hate. Iwata knew the expression well but had never seen it on Hiroshi. It cut through his dizziness into his heart. “Hiro.”

Hiroshi looked at him. Immediately his expression turned to concern. “Sho?”

“My leg,” he growled. Hiroshi crossed to him, taking his arm and propping him up. They leaned together. Iwata’s dizziness began to abate.
“It was mocking us.” Hiroshi’s voice was thick with bitterness.

Iwata said nothing. Hiroshi was right. The pain had burned down to a single point of agony; he focused on it, trying to drive it out. Hiroshi reached up to brush a stray lock of hair from Iwata’s ear. He leaned forward until their foreheads touched. “Sho?”

“Yes, it was mocking us.” Iwata sucked in a breath, grimacing.

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Late Summer, Early Spring will be released July 14th from DSP Publications and is available for pre-order now.

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Author BioPatricia Correll believes that all humans are natural storytellers. She’s been telling tales since she could string words together, but in the last thirty years or so has graduated from My Little Pony stories to the unholy trinity of fantasy, SF, and horror.

She lives with her husband, their sons, and a fifteen-pound calico cat. When she’s not writing, she spends her time being a stay-at-home mom, occasionally working at a bookstore, and trying to make her cat lose weight (which is almost impossible to do). She also eats lots of ice cream, pretends to be a gardener, and possesses staggering amounts of Hello Kitty merchandise.

You can follow Patricia via her blog or Google+.

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That’s it for this edition of Genre Talk. Thanks for reading, and please join us next time when we’ll turn Deja Black upside-down and see what kinds of answers fall out of her pockets. ;)

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A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Here’s a Sneak Peek at the Coming Week

Sneak Peek

Cheers, folks! Welcome back to a sneak peek at what we have coming up for you in the week ahead. I hope you’ll drop back by to visit with all of our guests throughout the week, as well as check out some of the books we’ll be featuring for review each day.

Here’s what’s on tap!

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Monday – Kicking off our week for us, we start by welcoming author Meredith Russell on the Fallout (Flight HA1710) blog tour

We’ll also have author Annabelle Jacobs with us here today on the tour for her latest novella A Casual Thing

Tuesday – Author Hayden Thorne joins us today with a look at the re-release of her humorous take on Regency vampires in Desmond and Garrick

Wednesday – Author B. Snow stops in today to chat a bit about her newest release, Emily’s Magical Codpiece, and where the idea for the book came from

We’ll also have DSP Publications author Patricia Correll in the spotlight in another edition of Carole Cummings’ Genre Talk

Thursday – Author A.L. Boyd joins us today on the Crest Ridge blog tour

We’ll also be doing a little GayRomLit Countdown celebrating with author Lei Carol

FridayGrace R. Duncan stops by with a look at her new book Turning His Life Around

Saturday – And, last but certainly never least, author Rhys Ford closes out the Ink and Shadows blog tour with us today

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And that’s the lineup for the week ahead. Until next time, happy reading!

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Carole Cummings, Guest Contributor

Guest Post: Bullying (Or Not So Much) by Carole Cummings

Author's Spotlight

BULLYING (OR NOT SO MUCH)

Carole Cummings

So, I guess you’d have to live under a rock (or be a writer in the cruel, all-consuming throes of a developing story) to have missed all the #AskELJames … stuff. And if you’ve seen all that, you’ve likely seen the follow-up calls of shame on you or shame on us or shame on them and then the inevitable cries to STOP THE BULLYING!

And, on principle, I don’t necessarily disagree with any of them.

However.

When it comes to bullying, we’re not dealing with “principle”. We’re dealing with something a lot harder and colder and plainer. Or, well, we should be.

Now, there are several points to be made here, but the bullying accusation is what I want to start with. Because I’ve seen it so often over the past few years, and to be perfectly frank, it’s starting to lose its meaning. Which, to me, is a very, very bad thing. But probably not in the way you think.

Let’s start with a definition, because it’s always better coming from something official:

bully
verb
: to frighten, hurt, or threaten (a smaller or weaker person)
: to cause (someone) to do something by making threats or insults or by using force

bul·lied bul·ly·ing
transitive verb
: to treat abusively
: to affect by means of force or coercion

I want to concentrate on that top definition, because I think that one’s the key here: to frighten, hurt, or threaten (a smaller or weaker person).

And here’s where I disagree with those who define what happened to E.L. James as bullying, and are using it to make a point about “author bullying” or maybe “reader bullying” or even what the neo-Conservatives have started waving around when their beliefs are trotted out and exposed as the bigoted points of view they are. Because none of that is actually bullying. It’s unpleasant, yes. Hurtful, absolutely. Mean-spirited fuckery and a platform for asshole trolls, yup. Almost invariably unnecessary. Generally uneducated. Any adjective for “bad” one can come up with.

But it’s not bullying.

Now, I’m not here to pile on E.L. James, by any means, though I’ll admit I don’t like what she does. I personally think her lack of research and her callous treatment of her subject matter is unforgivable and potentially harmful. I think my teenaged daughter can out-prose her at her most (questionably) eloquent. I think she’s done actual harm to women’s issues by giving opponents a notorious, though admittedly shaky, set of clay feet upon which to lay their arguments.

That doesn’t mean I condone what happened with that hashtag. But it doesn’t mean I’m inclined to defend her from “bullying” either.

Because—and let me state this plainly and without question—what happened to E.L. James was not bullying. The people who participated in that hashtag were, by and large, indefensible jerks, but “jerks” does not automatically equal “bullies”. And, in truth, not all of the points brought up in all of that were indefensible. There were some rather valid arguments raised, and approached with perhaps some snarky wit but without rancor or foul invective. That’s called free speech and people are allowed to have it, regardless of whether or not we like what they say, or how they say it.

I know, I know, I can already hear the “but, but, but!” and I understand where the whole bullying thing comes from. I even empathize with it up to a point. But it doesn’t change the fact that we’re taking a very serious word here and trivializing it with “those people were mean.” And, yes, absolutely, some of them were. But they weren’t bullies. It’s a distinction I think is enormously important, because we’re losing the point of that word—bully—and we need that point with all its sharp edges.

Doxing is bullying. What happened to the women during GamerGate was bullying. What happens to the skinny gay kid who’s afraid to go to school for fear of getting pantsed or beaten up is bullying. What happens to a woman who’s groped on the subway is bullying. What happens to a person in an abusive relationship is bullying. What happens to people of color when confronted with a bigoted cop is bullying.

That hashtag? No. And saying it was bullying is saying that it’s just as bad as those situations in that paragraph above. It takes away the power of the word and therefore, the power of the people who are victims of real bullying who’ve already lost most of their power.

Look at that definition again—to frighten, hurt, or threaten (a smaller or weaker person)

Was E.L. James frightened? I suppose it’s possible, but I doubt it. There were no threats I could see, and I read—I think—the entire thread. Was she hurt? Maybe her feelings, because no matter my opinion of her talents as such, she is an author, and we’re a rather thin-skinned lot. Did she feel threatened? Again, it’s possible, but doubtful.

But here’s the key to this, and it’s really important—E.L. James, especially in the context of this internet Q&A, was neither a smaller nor a weaker person. If anything, she was the only one in the entirety of that situation who had any power. The woman is a multi-millionaire with the comfort of the knowledge that probably a good percentage of the people who participated in that hashtag free-for-all had most likely purchased at least one of her books, even if it was to make fun of it with their friends. Or seen the movie. A portion of the people engaging in the mockery on Twitter, statistically speaking, have put money in E.L. James’s pocket, have given her power, both as a wealthy person in a world where wealth already equals power, and as a best-selling author in an industry where that’s the only kind that matters.

But, most importantly, E.L. James, if she even read through the thread at all (which I doubt), was doing so from behind the safety of her computer monitor, comfortably ensconced… wherever multi-millionaire best-selling authors ensconce themselves. There was no danger. There was no threat. E.L. James was not and is not small or powerless. There was, therefore, no bullying.

And I need to say this again—I do not condone what happened, but if ever there was a subject that needs perspective, it’s bullying and what it really is and who really needs our protection from it.

Look, I’ve been on the receiving end of some pretty nasty commentary in my years of toddling about the troll-infested Lord of the Flies world we call the internet. I’ve been told I needed to be raped and die in a fire. I’ve been told the only good female brain is the one that’s scooped out to make room for a good skull-fucking. I’ve been told I should be beaten to death with my keyboard. And those are only the ones I remember off the top of my head. There have been more. And it’s not like I go to message boards or forums where you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a troll. This is just in the normal course of being an author who is accessible online. And who among us hasn’t gotten the one-starring troll treatment for no good reason?

Do I like it? Absolutely not. Do I think it’s fair? Nope. Do I think it’s nasty and hurtful and infuriating? Yes, yes, and yes.

But do I think it’s bullying? No. No. Because when I’m sitting in my home with my laptop and reading these things on my monitor, regardless of my actual size and/or strength, I am neither smaller nor weaker than the person saying them. In point of fact, intellectually speaking—which is the only part that matters on the internet—I’m betting I’m the much bigger and stronger person. And if worse came to worse, all I really have to do is turn the internet off and walk away. These trolls have no power over me but what I give them, and I refuse to give them any. Which means, by definition, I am not being bullied.

And neither was E.L. James.

Personally, I’d like to see that word—bullied—saved for the people who actually need it, not robbed of its power by those who get their feelings hurt because someone was mean to them on the internet. Those who truly are bullied have lost enough power already, don’t you think?

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5 Stars, Carole Cummings, DSP Publications, Literary Fiction, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed by Lisa, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Steampunk

Review: Blue on Black by Carole Cummings

TNA Page Turner Resized

Title: Blue on Black

Author: Carole Cummings

Publisher: DSP Publications

Pages/Word Count: 380 Pages

At a Glance: Blue on Black is an alternate universe, twisted history, sci-fi/fantasy/steampunkish feast for the imagination and senses.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Kimolijah Adani—Class 2 gridTech, beloved brother, most promising student the Academy’s ever had the privilege of calling their own, genius mechanical gridstream engineer, brilliantly pioneering inventor… and dead man. But that’s what happens when a whiz kid messes with dynamic crystals and, apparently, comes to the attention of Baron Petra Stanslo. Killed for his revolutionary designs, Kimolijah Adani had been set to change the world with his impossible train that runs on nothing more than gridstream locked in a crystal. Technically it shouldn’t even be possible, but there is no doubt it works.

Bas is convinced the notoriously covetous and corrupt Stanslo had something to do with Kimolijah Adani’s tragic and suspicious end. A Directorate Tracker, Bas has finally managed to catch the scent of Kimolijah Adani’s killer, and it leads right into Stanslo’s little desert barony. For almost three years, Bas has tried to find a way into Stanslo’s Bridge, and when he finally makes it, shock is too small a word for what—or, rather, whom—he finds there.

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Review: If ever there was a book written that deserves to be an illustrated novel, it’s Carole Cummings’ Blue on Black, an alternate universe, twisted history, sci-fi/fantasy/steampunkish feast for the imagination and senses that sends readers on a synesthetic journey to an Old West-like place that, had it ever existed in reality, would have changed our own world dramatically.

Blue on Black is a story that’s not so much woven together from beginning to end as it is deconstructed and put back together again. What I mean by that is the plot and characters, and how they relate to each other, are constructed of a series of knots at the outset that must be untangled in order for us to see the “big picture” resolve itself in the end. Everything in this novel is layered—the colors, the characters, the setting, the Tech, the grandiose scheme which has brought the outlier Stanslo’s Bridge and its robber baron, Petra Stanslo, to the attention of the Directorate—with a subtlety that makes you look just that little bit deeper to make sure you don’t miss a thing. Who are enemies, who are allies, and who is simply looking out for number one? When does servitude represent freedom and freedom, servitude? It’s a web we’re snared in from the start, and we must decipher it right along with our intrepid hero.

Stanslo is both the Pandora’s Box and the Prometheus in the novel, dictator of a place where life often means death, where language is mind control, where double-think and its controlled insanity is delivered with a feral grin. Stanslo has opened up his twisted mind and spilled out an insane amount of narcissism upon his world, using people as leverage to oppress and fear to motivate them to carry out his plans, leaving the reader wondering where is their hope. He is predator and scavenger, exploiter and extortionist, both law and lawlessness, and he has stolen the spark (a spark he’s having trouble harnessing, by the way) necessary to unleash a technology upon humankind that humankind will not appreciate. Rather than a tool of progress, the technology in this novel is the agent of greed and lust and evil, and there seems to be no way to stop Stanslo before his delusions of grandeur give free reign to unchecked horror.

This is where Bartholomew Eisen becomes integral to the story. Bas is a Grade 3 Tracker with the Directorate of the Consolidated Territories, which is a fancy way of saying he can not only sense Tech but can taste its colors, and by taste, can tell what sort of Tech a man or woman possesses. He’s been assigned to track a missing weatherTech, a case which ends up intersecting with another, a murder case he’s been investigating involving one of the most promising minds in gridTech ever to be born, Kimolijah Adani, and Kimolijah’s father Ajamil. And this is how Bas ends up in Stanslo’s Bridge posing as a gunslinger called Jakob Barstow.

Narrated with no small amount of sarcasm and tongue-in-cheek humor, not to mention a flair that invokes comic book storytelling, Blue on Black is motion and movement in not only in its crafting but in the very magic of its Tech. Kimo’s power is all about the kinetic energy that flows through and from him, which draws all manner of attention to him, not to mention attracts the bad to him like a negative to a positive charge. “Everything that leaks from the Bruise goes after gridstream,” and poor Kimo is the target of the worst of it.

The Bruise itself is a place, a contusion in the skin of this world from which mutant beasts escape, a place where Nature has been made wild and toxic, a foe of the humans who, in all its karmic glory, are the ones guilty of corrupting it in the first place. It is the place that has offered Stanslo the means to control and the method to compel his madness and incite his avarice, jealousy, suspicion, and obsession with his most prized possession, playing god in his own little corner of hell. But, as with all oppressors, a day of reckoning awaits, and it’s one of the book’s greatest and most satisfying ironies when it happens.

There is action and suspense and danger between the covers of this novel, and while there is something building between Bas and Kimo amidst the destruction, Blue on Black is not a love story, though it is the story of two men who don’t know they’re falling into something that could be love, and doing it quite humorously, I might add. Really, how could they know, though, when one of them is in denial of his feelings, and the other is so full of anger and distrust that there isn’t much room for anything else? You’ve heard the idiom about someone having a burr under his saddle (or in other ::ahem:: delicate areas)? Well, the burrs in this book aren’t figurative, they are literal, and they play far too significant a role in Kimo’s life for him not to be more than a bit prickly. Plus, it’s hard to know love in the presence of fear, and it’s also rather difficult to recognize it when fear and love present some of the same physical symptoms—another lovely irony that.

Blue on Black is yet another outstanding novel by this author. I have had the pleasure of reading all her published work to date and can say without reservation that each of her books is an experience that may make you think a little harder, but the payoff in the end is always well worth the journey.

When you’re in the mood for an Alt U, Sci-Fi, Action/Adventure trip into an (un)reality of (un)imaginably fantastic proportions, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Blue on Black.

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You can buy Blue on Black here:

OmniLit/ARe

OmniLit/ARe

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10264965_252539888266926_3416999939270236877_nCarole lives with her husband and family in Pennsylvania, USA, where she spends her time trying to find time to write. Recipient of various amateur writing awards, several of her short stories have been translated into Spanish, German, Chinese and Polish.

Author of the Aisling and Wolf’s-own series, Carole is currently in the process of developing several other works, including more short stories than anyone will ever want to read, and novels that turn into series when she’s not looking.

Carole is an avid reader of just about anything that’s written well and has good characters. She is a lifelong writer of the ‘movies’ that run constantly in her head. Surprisingly, she does manage sleep in there somewhere, and though she is rumored to live on coffee and Pixy Stix™, no one has as yet suggested she might be more comfortable in a padded room.

…Well. Not to her face.

Carole is a Rainbow Con 2015 Attending Author

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