Kate Lowell, Loose Id

This Year “Christmas Goes Analog” With Kate Lowell And A Giveaway!



Isn’t it funny how the silliest things are the things we look forward to every year during the holiday season? In our family, one of the traditional activities is getting the Christmas tree and then making fun of it.

As a farming family, it was just not done to go out and buy a tree from a tree farm. Nope. It had to be a tree from the woodlot at the back of the farm.

Unfortunately, trees in the wild always look bigger and bushier than they actually are. It’s like camouflage.

For the past twenty years, I’ve had exactly two trees that didn’t fall into the ‘Charlie Brown Christmas’ category. In fact, it happened so often that it’s now one of our Christmas traditions.

This is our tree for this year, pre-decorations. Yep. Charlie would have been proud of us.

But, just like in ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’, it will still be beautiful once we’re done. It’s a part of the Christmas magic, that something ordinary becomes beautiful, not because of what it looks like, but because of how we see it.



Christmas Goes Analog by Kate Lowell

Length: 32,000 words Christmas contemporary
Links:
Loose Id
Amazon
All Romance Ebooks
Heat Rating: explicit
Contact: WEBSITE | TWITTER

Description: When Rob’s dad was injured by an uninsured driver, it spelled the end of Rob’s carefree childhood and, more important to Rob, the idyllic Christmases they used to have. Hard work and sacrifice nets him a degree in computer programming and then a contract at a rapidly-growing video game company. Things are looking up, especially when he meets his new System Administrator. But the closer it gets to Christmas, the more bugs there are in the system.

Shawn’s found him. The Guy. But Rob’s had it rough and it’s been years since he’s been anything but responsible. It all comes boiling to the surface when a family financial crisis is followed by a work emergency that ruins Rob’s plans to bring Shawn home to meet the family over Christmas holidays.

With Rob’s mood growing darker the closer it gets to Christmas, Shawn needs to find some way to give Rob the Christmas he’s so desperate for. And he just might have the plan…

Excerpt:

“Morning,” came Rob’s voice from around the corner in the kitchenette. “You in a hurry or something?” Flashes of movement showed that he was doing something at the stove. “You eat yet? There’s still a few pancakes, if you get over here before Brandon gets out of the bathroom.”

Shawn dropped his keys into his pocket and shrugged off his jacket, then tossed it over the back of a kitchen chair. “Have you ever known me to resist your pancakes?” His breath caught as he turned and got his first good look of the day at Rob, who was shirtless in pajama pants, his dark hair still rumpled from sleep. Damn, you’re beautiful. “Though I could be tempted to give them a pass.” He reached past Rob to turn off the stove and move the frying pan off the hot burner. Safety issues taken care of, he pushed Rob gently up against the countertop and pulled his head down for a good-morning kiss.

“Ugh. PDAs first thing in the morning.” Rob’s roommate wandered into the kitchen, already dressed for work at the Tire and Lube Express. “Hey, there’s still pancakes. Yum.” Brandon scooped the last two out of the frying pan and stacked them on top of each other before taking a huge bite. “Damn, Rob, if I were gay, I’d so marry you, just for these.”

Rob chuckled and broke off the kiss. “Thanks, but what makes you think I’d have you?”

Brandon stopped in the middle of shoving his foot into a battered running shoe. “With all this on offer?” He waved the hand still holding the pancakes at his narrow, bony torso in its loose T-shirt.

“Like you could resist.”

Shawn buried his face in the side of Rob’s neck and laughed as Rob replied, “Dream on, straight boy.” Rob glanced up at the clock. “You’re gonna miss the bus.”

“Shit!” Cramming the last of the pancakes into his mouth, Brandon grabbed his wallet off the kitchen table and ran for the door. “Have fun shopping! Bring me back something good!”

“More dreams!” Rob shouted as the door clicked closed, and then they listened as the thunder of Brandon racing down the stairs slowly faded.

Rob turned back to Shawn, who nestled closer, sliding one leg in between Rob’s. With a contented sigh, Rob shifted to make space for Shawn’s thigh and bent his head down for another kiss. Shawn lifted up on his toes—Rob’s extra three inches of height were all in his legs, Shawn was sure—and ground against Rob’s hip as he kissed and teased at the other man’s mouth.

When Shawn finally let him up for air, Rob’s voice was hoarse and low. “Are you in a rush to go shopping?”

Shawn brought his lips to Rob’s throat. He stopped just before they touched it, though. “Stores are open till midnight,” he said, letting his words brush ghostly fingers over the pulse hammering away in Rob’s neck. Color bloomed behind them, as if his words had called it into being.

“I suppose we might get there before then.” Rob let his head fall back and groaned as Shawn flicked the tip of his tongue over the glowing skin.

“The sooner we get to your bedroom, the sooner we get out to get Halloween costumes,” Shawn whispered, his lips grazing the corner of Rob’s jaw.

“Who cares about costumes?” Rob hooked a knee behind Shawn’s leg and rubbed his own up and down against it. “For that matter, who cares about the bedroom?”

Shawn laughed and stepped back. “You will, if you get bruises from the edge of the counter again. Follow me, Software, and let me parse your code in comfort.”

“I love it when you talk dirty. Lead on, Hardware.”





The Giveaway: THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED

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MLR Press, Vona Logan

Are You Ready To Go Hard ‘N Deep With Vona Logan? I Hope So, Because There’s A Giveaway

The Men of Hard ‘n Deep

Most of you met Aidan and Matt on the cliff in Queenstown, New Zealand in Rock Hard. First intended as a short story, I was amazed at the response to these characters and overwhelmed with requests for more. As this was my first attempt at being published, Rock Hard had been quite short, so I understood where these readers were coming from for more of the sexy men after the way it ended.

I felt sad to walk away from the story and immediately jumped on board for a sequel. The two men had just met and started a relationship, so there was more than enough room to write their story after the end of Rock Hard.

It is no mystery that relationships have their fair share of hiccups and shadows from different corners threatening the bliss of newfound love. Matt *sigh* is my baby and he’s got a very soft spot in my heart. He is also an adrenaline junkie – brave, fearless and determined when it comes to his career. Emotionally however, Matt has fears and insecurities always waiting to ambush and rob him of the things he desires most – in this case Aidan.

Aidan is the rock in Matt’s life and in these two books – solid, steadfast, secure and completely in love with Matt. His only frustration is getting the stubborn Matt to let go and trust in what they have. At times Aidan has his sizeable hands full (in more ways than one) of Matt, the spitfire. Matt’s fear forces him to run from hurt, but Aidan is adamant to make him stay.

Combine the shadows and insecurities with Matt’s fierce temper and a road trip on an amazingly hot motorbike, The Can-Am Spyder RSS, and you have an explosive encounter bound to tie these guys together or split them apart forever.

Blurb:

The past threatens to tear Aidan and Matt apart, but when Matt takes off, Aidan will stop at nothing to bring him back.

Aidan and Matt had conquered the mountain which almost killed them both and their relationship is secure. Or is it? Without warning the past inevitably rears its ugly head and the sparks begin to fly. While Aidan knows exactly what he wants, Matt’s fierce independence and insecurities threaten to tear them apart. Aidan sets out to prove to Matt he isn’t going anywhere and Matt needs to face and conquer the ghosts from his past. Does Aidan have what it takes to hold onto his man and will Matt allow himself to be loved?

Thank you for visiting today to read all about my new book. For those of you who read it, I sincerely hope it made the wait for a sequel so worth it.

Bye For Now,
Vona

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THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED

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Charlie Cochet, Dreamspinner Press

Charlie Cochet And The Impetuous Afflictions Blog Tour Are Here – Rumor Has It There’s A Giveaway


CCBlogTourBanner

I suppose this is the part where I introduce myself. My name is Jonathan Wolfe, but everyone calls me Johnnie. I suggest you do too. First of all, let me just say that Charlie is screwy in the head, seeing as how she chose me to do this little tour. Why she didn’t ask the Englishman to talk about English things is beyond me, but then I’ve never been very good at understanding the dames. Then again, I don’t do all that well with the fellas either. Let’s just say I’m not the world’s most amicable fellow and leave it at that.

This is the first of six stops on my personal guided tour. After that, you’ll hear from Charlie and the Brats. What’s that you ask? Don’t I have other things I should be getting on with? Say, you got plenty of swift there. Yes I do, but when the lady of the house prods you—in a most unladylike manner might I add–you’ll do as asked if you know what’s good for you. Let’s get on with it, shall we? We’ll start from home: Hawthorne Manor.

HawthorneManor

[Attribution: Mattlever [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons]

Hawthorne Manor is filled with impudent whelps that drive me nuts, and Chance who is a nut. I will admit it’s the only place I have ever felt at ease in. It’s also the only place I’ve ever called home. Hawthorne Manor was built by Jacky’s grandparents back in the late 1800s, but it includes all the modern comforts, such as running water, central heating, and electricity. It’s situated two miles from the town of Aylesbury and employs thirty indoor staff and fifteen outdoor staff plus eight laundry room staff. The west wing of the house is an attachment that was built a good twenty years after the rest of the house, and Jacky gifted it to Henry when we arrived from Africa. There you’ll find Henry’s infirmary, a waiting room, small ward, his office, and a linen area. Yeah, the place is real swanky, with twenty five bedrooms, eight bathrooms, four studies, banquet hall, ballroom, billiard room, dining room, two libraries, two music rooms, breakfast room, morning room, and a bunch of other rooms I can’t quite recall. I know what you’re thinking, but when there are twelve fellas occupying the same space, believe me, the joint can’t be big enough.

FlowerBed

[Attribution: YK Times at en.wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons]

This is the flowerbed outside my bedroom window. It’s also the flowerbed I land in when Elliot locks me in my room. It happens more often than you think. Fenton the grounds-keeper dislikes me greatly. Elliot is one of the impudent whelps I mentioned earlier. You’ll learn more about him later on in the tour. Piece of advice: don’t let that cherub face fool you, he’s a clever little scoundrel. He’s also known to use his teddy bear and pout as a means of distraction. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. You’ll also get to know more about the Brats—that’s what we call’ em. Well, it’s what Chance used to call Bobby, Alexander, and me once upon a time when we were driving him crazy, and then it sort of became a term of endearment. Though the driving everyone nuts part is still very much a part of it.

Hawthorne Manor is more than just my home. It was Jacky’s dream to provide a safe haven for fellas like us, and over the last eight years, we’ve taken in seven Brats: Gideon, Rori, Aubrey, Oliver, Elliot, Connor, and Edmund. They range from six to twenty years old, each one with a heartbreaking story. The six of us who run the manor made a pact to protect these boys, provide them with a family, and help them regain their confidence. We help them find the strength they’ll need to face a world that had once been so cruel to them. Some days it’s crushing, but no matter what happens, we do our best to show them they can have a better life than the one they started off with, that there are folks who do care. It’s my job to help them get settled into their new life at the manor. It ain’t easy, but it’s worth it.

The manor is owned by Jacky, who’s a right guy. He’s the head of the household and as good as they come. Then there’s Chance—who we’ve established is nuts, who supports Jacky and keeps everyone in line. Bobby is a swell guy, and he teaches the Brats etiquette. Alexander is a pain in my backside. He’s also a qualified professor who educates the Brats. Henry looks after everyone’s physical and mental wellbeing. He’s also… uh, well, he’s um… What’s with the face? I ain’t having a sappy moment, so dry up. Okay, so maybe I am having a sappy moment. Henry’s off limits, so you just keep your wandering eye from wandering in his direction. Go look at the posies or something. What’s left of’ em. All right, tour’s over for the day. Flowers gave me the sniffles, so I’m just gonna drop in on Henry. For the sneezin’, cause you know, he’s a doctor and all. Aw, lay off. Next stop on the tour is the billiard room, now breeze.

 

Blurb:

IAJW200Eight years after leaving the deserts of Africa and the French Foreign Legion behind, Jonathan Wolfe has settled into life at Hawthorne Manor in the English countryside. Johnnie helps his adopted family run the manor and provide a safe, loving home for a new generation of “brats”: boys mistreated and discarded for their homosexuality—something all too familiar to Johnnie.

Although no longer an unruly youngster, Johnnie is as stubborn, foul-mouthed, and troublesome as ever. His recent rash behavior becomes a concern for those closest to him, especially Dr. Henry Young, the only man ever to capture Johnnie’s heart. Instead of soothing him, their closeness brings Johnnie’s insecurities from an unsettling past to the surface, and leads to an explosive situation that threatens to tear them apart. Then Henry’s past catches up to them….

 

Excerpts are in the form of a serial.

Excerpt Part 1

UNFORTUNATELY, I only made it as far as the empty waiting room before he caught up with me.

“So, what was that about?”

“Nothing.”

“Now pull the other one.” Chance took a seat in one of the deep, wine-red armchairs against the far wall and made himself comfortable. Damn it. There was no escaping him now. With a heavy sigh, I took a seat in the armchair beside him. The waiting room was large, tastefully decorated in muted yellows, golds, and deep reds, and resembled a drawing room more than a medical waiting room. There were plenty of potted plants and flowers, as well as a large, black iron fireplace on the opposite wall to keep the joint warm in the winter. The large rug in the center of the room was Grecian-styled to match the gilded mirror hanging over the fireplace and the various other frames containing paintings of serene landscapes. It was all very elegant but simple so as not to intimidate its visitors. Henry had been very adamant about that. He wanted folks to feel at ease when they came to see him, no matter their status.

“Well?” Chance angled himself toward me and waited.

There were few people in this world I trusted with my life, and Chance was one of them—the other two being Jacky and Henry. I also knew there was no escape, because Chance always got his way. Always. It was annoying as hell. I opened my mouth when he held a finger up. “Wait.”

“What?”

He threw his head back and laughed.

I sat and waited while he doubled over. It had been a while since I had seen him laugh this hard. “Glad to know my life is so amusing to you.”

Part 2 continued on Nov 11th over at Sue Brown’s blog.

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Available in ebook and print from Dreamspinner Press: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4362

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Comment prompt: What gives you the sniffles? Flowers, puppies, sappy movies?


About the Author:

CCochet100Charlie Cochet is an author by day and artist by night. Always quick to succumb to the whispers of her wayward muse, no star is out of reach when following her passion. From Historical to Fantasy, Contemporary to Science Fiction, there’s bound to be plenty of mischief for her heroes to find themselves in, and plenty of romance, too!

Currently residing in South Florida, Charlie looks forward to migrating to a land where the weather includes seasons other than hot, hotter, and boy, it’s hot! When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading, drawing, or watching movies. She runs on coffee, thrives on music, and loves to hear from readers.

Website: http://www.charliecochet.com
Blog: http://www.charliecochet.com/blog
Email: charlie@charliecochet.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/charliecochet
Twitter: @charliecochet | http://www.twitter.com/charliecochet


Giveaway

1st Prize: $15 Amazon gift card + Impetuous Afflictions signed swag pack + signed 8×10 art print.

2nd & 3rd Prize: Impetuous Afflictions swag pack + signed 8×10 art print.

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To Enter

Just leave a comment on any of the blog posts along the tour, along with a contact email address. **If you would still like to enter the contest but don’t wish to leave your email address in the comment, you can also enter by emailing charlie@charliecochet.com.

Winners will be chosen at random and posted on Charlie’s blog at http://www.charliecochet.com/blog on Monday, December 2nd. Winners will then be notified via email.

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Contest ends

Sunday, December 1st at midnight, Eastern Time.


Tour stops:

11/9 – Welcome to Hawthorne Manor [Excerpt 1] – The Novel Approach

11/11 – Billiard Room Brouhaha [Excerpt 2] – Author Sue Brown

11/12 – A Trip to the Town of Aylesbury [Excerpt 3] – Author Kim Fielding

11/13 – Time for Tea [Excerpt 4] – Author Lex Chase

11/14 – Stopping for a Pint [Excerpt 5] – Author Andrew Q. Gordon

11/15 – Visiting the Furry Hat Man [Excerpt 6] – Author Eden Winters

11/18 – Meet Gideon Brooks [Excerpt 7] – Author Michael Rupured

11/19 – Meet Rori Curti [Excerpt 8]s – Author Shira Anthony

11/20 – Meet Aubrey Jepson [Excerpt 9] – Attention is Arbitrary

11/21 – Meet Oliver Darling [Excerpt 10] – Hearts on Fire

11/22 – Meet Elliot Young [Excerpt 11] – Author Elin Gregory

11/25 – Meet Connor & Edmund Grey [Excerpt 12]- Joyfully Jay

11/26 – The Devilish Duo [Finale] – Mrs. Condit & Friends

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Backlist Book Bump, Jordan Castillo Price

How About A Little Backlist Book Bump From Jordan Castillo Price? And How About A Big Ol’ Giveaway?


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I’m so delighted you’ve asked me to come talk about one of my backlist titles, Lisa! I’ve always loved vampire stories, and I set out to write the freshest, darkest, sexiest, scariest vampire story I could imagine. My Channeling Morpheus series was completed in 2009, and so it’s quite possible that plenty of readers discovered the genre well after the series wrapped. Here’s a taste of the first story, Payback:


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BLURB

The hunt is on.

Pretty young men and women like Michael’s best friend, Scary Mary, are disappearing from underground goth clubs all over Detroit. For over two years, Michael has been scouring the midwest for buried newspaper articles and obscure medical reports, and now he’s finally pinpointed the source of the problem. Too bad he can’t exactly go to the cops and tell them his friend was murdered by vampires. Since it’s his duty to start wiping out the scourge, he’s posing as bait—and he’s got a bag of sharpened hickory stakes to do the job.

Everything should go smoothly, given the amount of preparation that Michael has put into the hunt. He’s got a practiced repertoire of come-hither eyeliner looks and a full blister-pack of the date rape drug Rohypnol. But he didn’t count on Wild Bill showing up.

EXCERPT

Wild Bill is a vision in spiked hair and scuffed black leather—exactly the type of guy Michael would have fallen for…if he’d ever had the chance. Unfortunately, with a vampire in his sights, Michael has no time for an actual date. Despite his best efforts, it seems there’s nothing Michael can do to shake Bill loose. Looks like they’re in for a wild, wild ride.

I picked up my bag, or satchel, or whatever you want to call it, and checked it again—even though I knew everything was still there. It had to be, because it’d been pressed against my foot, and if anyone had been rifling through it, I would have felt them doing it. Mallet? Check. Wooden stake—hickory, of course? Check. Crucifix? Well, yeah. Like five of those. Rohypnol? Check. Holy water? Check. Eyeliner? Check.

Yeah, eyeliner. It looks good on me. Scary Mary used to say that. She’d sworn up and down that I was one of those guys who could pull it off.

My hand sank deep into the bag and brushed against the eyeliner. Or maybe it was a pen. I inched my fingers down the length of it and felt the tip. Damn. It was a pen. Maybe I could use it for touchup anyway if I sweated off all the eyeliner.

Or else I’d have to find the vampire and lure him out of the club before it came to that.

“Got a light?”

I jumped. I wasn’t scared, though. Just startled. It was way too early for vampires, barely an hour past sunset. But I hadn’t realized there was anyone standing practically on top of me while I was digging through my bag. Or whatever you want to call it.

“I don’t….” He was so hot he was incandescent. “I don’t smoke.”

The guy who’d wanted the light was smiling. Still standing practically on top of me, too. Staring me right in the eye.

You’d think that would be all. He asked for a light. I didn’t have one. And then he would move on. But maybe it was more than that. Maybe he’d just been looking for an excuse to talk.

He slid himself onto the barstool beside mine. I did my best to look nonchalant. He was…amazing. Tall and lean, with ripped up jeans and spiked blond hair, earrings and a snake tattoo on his neck and chipped black nail polish. And he wanted to talk to me.

Couldn’t I have run into him any other night? Like, a night that I didn’t already have a date with a vampire?

“Got a name, Mister Lung Association?” he asked me.

“Michael.”

“Michael, Michael, Motorcycle.” He tucked his cigarette behind his ear and shook my hand. Well, more like he jammed his hand toward me, and I either had to shake it or be knocked off the barstool. “Wild Bill.”

A hot guy who had the balls to call himself Wild Bill, straightfaced no less, was hitting on me in a mostly-empty bar. My mind reeled. I hadn’t been putting on my approachable vibe. I saved that for the vampires. I’d been going through my bag, minding my own business. And here he was, with a cigarette tucked behind his ear, chatting me up.

“Is your name really Bill?” I asked.

“Is yours really Michael?”

I rolled my eyes. He smiled wider, a weird, tight-lipped grin, and planted his elbow on the sticky bar top. “What’s with the purse?”

“It’s not a…look, I’m meeting somebody, okay? Don’t you have anyone else to bother?”

He shrugged and half-turned in his seat to spare a glance for the rest of the place. It’d be a cool enough club once it started to fill up, but right now there was only a scattering of people in it. A tight clique of girls in thick eyeliner and hair extensions dominated a pair of pushed-together tables beside the dance floor. A couple swayed together on the glowing tiles. They were so androgynous you could only tell the boy from the girl by the flat planes of his ass. Fog that smelled like cotton candy wafted around their platform boots. And the remainder of the early crowd hugged the perimeter of the bar, backs to the wall, drinking warily.

I pretty much looked like everyone else there. Black clothes and silver studs. Alone and staring. Except that I’d been staring into my bag instead of cruising.

“I’ll keep you company, then,” Bill offered. “Until she…or he…shows up.”

“He,” I said.

Wild Bill’s smile curled the corner of his lips.

Damn. If only there were some way, any way at all, I could ditch the vampire and take my chances with Wild Bill. But it’d taken me two whole years to track this vampire down and figure out where he’d been hunting. Two years’ worth of newspaper clippings, of Coroners’ reports photocopied by bribable janitors, of buried articles printed out from the Internet, accessed through the library’s computers, that I’d stared at until their letters slipped out of focus when my body forced me to rest my eyes.

Maybe Wild Bill would take a rain check. But I kind of doubted it. Besides, after I left a smoking corpse in my wake, I’d have to get out of town. Fast.


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morpheuscover200MORE ABOUT THE SERIES

Gritty, urban vampire tales

These novelette-length stories are scary as hell and packed with freaky sex. Michael is a waif in eyeliner who’s determined to wipe vampires off the face of the earth. Wild Bill’s got his eye on Michael, and he’s willing to do anything to go home with him. If the romance between Gomez & Morticia gives you goosebumps of delight, if you look forward to Halloween movie marathons all year long, if you’ve got a soft spot for fake fog and black lights, then Channeling Morpheus is the series for you!


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sweetoblivion-200SPECIALS AND EXTRAS

The series consists of ten novelettes and two shorts. The novelettes are available in the paperback collections Channeling Morpheus for Scary Mary and A Bitter Taste of Sweet Oblivion.

Official Channeling Morpheus site with bonus wallpaper, flash fiction and character interviews –

Bundle Deals – Save on a Channeling Morpheus bundle at http://jcpbooks.com/bundles. Payback is also included in the $5 JCP Sampler


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The Giveaway

THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED

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S.E. Culpepper

Come “Fall Apart” with S.E. Culpepper, And You Just Might Win A Book!


Fall Apart Blog Tour


Author PicSide Jobs

For those that have read the books in the Liaisons Series, the mention of character Christian Blakely usually brings one thing to mind: tattoos. Most of Christian’s body is covered in tattoos, and the third book in the series, Lost Won, discusses some of that artwork and Christian’s thought process behind it.

In imagining that artwork—how far it went, the placement on his body—I was taking advantage of another great thing about being a writer. I got to take on a job that I wouldn’t be likely to try in my own life. I became Christian’s tattoo artist. In my imagination, I was able to discuss what he was looking to add, what he wanted to say through it, and…ahem…where he wanted the artwork to go. And, wasn’t that a pleasure!

With other characters, for instance, Zane Whitlow, I become an agent or a radio interviewer. I’m thinking up movie scripts, set ideas, troubles with paparazzi. With Alarik, one of the new characters in Fall Apart, released on October 28, I get to be a photographer and travel the world to exotic locations, snapping pics of yummy people.

I think that’s one of my favorite parts of writing; it turns me into a kid again, imagining different worlds and far-off places, jobs I could do, and things I’m scared of. That’s part of why I always encourage people to write if they feel even an inkling of an urge to do so—maybe just journaling is the best thing—but in so many ways, it can set you free.

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BLURB:

Dodging his ex, giving the Best Man speech, and smuggling home extra slices of wedding cake are Damon Wright’s only plans on his buddy’s wedding day. Capturing the attention of a renowned photographer with twice the sexual magnetism of James Bond doesn’t even make the list. Accustomed to a life spent keeping his head down, managing family obligations, Damon is unprepared for even a lukewarm pursuit, much less the hot, focused advances of a man like Alarik whose sophistication leaves Damon reeling.

Tired of the vapid, morally bankrupt and grasping fellows so common in his line of work, Alarik is through serving as just another step for mercenary men on the ladder to success. Damon’s kindhearted reserve excites a profound response within him, enticing him with the idea of an honest future. Compelled to dig beneath the surface in search of something lasting, Alarik can’t help but wonder if falling in love can be as easy as breathing.

Yet, fairytales don’t exist in the pace of real life; they disappear in shadow. Absorbed by the happiness of finding one another, Damon and Alarik never see the darkness coming…

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EXCERPT:

“There you go again, giving me that look,” Alarik whispered and Damon saw the heat in the other man’s eyes in the quick moment before Alarik slipped a pair of sunglasses on that he’d pulled from his pocket.

Desire…and Alarik was trying to hide it.

Where was that crash cart? Charge! Clear! Kaa-chooog!… We have a heartbeat.

“What look?” Damon answered huskily, his voice hitching as he immediately forgot about maintaining his composure. What if his mother walked out and witnessed this fraught moment?

Alarik gave a low groan and glanced away, his fingers combing through his hair again. He wasn’t going to answer. He removed his jacket roughly and then grunted in embarrassment as he folded it over his arm. “Forgive me, but if you could see your face, you’d know what I was up against.”

“Is this you leaving? I thought you were taking me to lunch.”

“Am I?” Alarik gave him a sideways glance.

“I’m begging you.”

Damon was vaguely aware of the folks seated at the tables in front of the coffee shop, but they turned into mist as Alarik slowly and purposefully closed the distance between them, his hand reaching up to grasp Damon’s chin. He could see his reflection in the other man’s sunglasses. He looked weak-kneed and turned on, and his fucking fifteen freckles were standing out at high alert. Alarik still hadn’t spoken, but his breathing was quick, his sensuous mouth tight.

“Look at you,” he finally whispered, then seemed to realize what he’d said and done and stepped away.

“Mr. Wright,” he tut-tutted. “You make it easy to forget how to be a gentleman.”

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About the Author:

S.E. Culpepper lives and works in Oregon. After graduating college in New Mexico, she served as an officer in the U.S. Coast Guard for four and a half years before deciding to strike out on her own as a writer. S.E. is addicted to YouTube, reading, and chocolate, not necessarily in that order. In her free time, she visits parks with her son, studies for her Masters, and bakes.

S. E. Culpepper loves to hear from her readers and makes it a point to get back to them.

Author Links:

http://seculpepper.com/
http://www.facebook.com/pages/S-E-Culpepper/120092924797403

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Buy Links:

Amazon Paperback: http://www.amazon.com/Fall-Apart-Liaisons-Series-Volume/dp/1492876569/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_tnr_1

Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Fall-Apart-Liaisons-Series-Culpepper-ebook/dp/B00G8U22XY/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_tnr_2

Smashwords: EPUB https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/371660

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The Giveaway:

THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED

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Amber Kell

It’s A Birthday Bash With Amber Kell, And She’s Brought A Gift!



2012-BirthdayBadge1The month of November has always been special to me mostly because my sister and I share the same birthday. I was born on my older sister’s fourth birthday a fact she still brings up every now and then when she wants to harp on me ruining her big day with my untimely birth.

For my fans, the month of November represents thirty days of prizes, stories and author interviews where I chose a winner a day. This year, I am also sponsoring a month of giving. Anyone who donates a minimum of $5.00 to a charity of their choice can receive a free e-book of their choice from my website. They have up to a year to pick one. More details are on my blog.

If you’ve never read any of my writing, I recently released Keeping Kylen, book eleven in my Moon Pack series. The first book, Attracting Anthony, can be found For Free at Amazon, ARe or most ebook stores or at my website http://amberkellbooks.com.

If you leave a comment it will enter you to win a $25.00 Amazon GC!


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Keeping Kylen 400x600Here is a little blurb from Keeping Kylen.

* * * *

“Dad, where’s Papa?”

Sammy stood in Farro’s bedroom doorway, his teddy bear dangling from one small fist. Blue-footed pajamas covered him from neck to toes. Farro blinked back tears when he recalled Kylen had insisted on buying Sammy a pair in every color. Farro had only put his foot down when Kylen had pointed out the hooded ones with bunny ears. Not even Kylen’s hopeful smile would persuade Farro to let his half-shifter son dress like prey.

Brushing off the memory, Farro walked over to kneel down to his son’s level. He wrapped his hands around Sammy’s smaller ones.

Talking past the lump in his throat made speaking difficult, but he pushed through. “Papa isn’t coming home. We talked about that. Papa has taken a job that moved him away from us. He still loves you, but he’s not coming back.”

Despite his anger over how Kylen left them, Farro had no doubt his mate still loved their son. Kylen just needed a good kick in the ass. For the past four months, Farro had given several variations of ‘Papa’s never returning’ talks to Sammy, and each time, the words tasted sour in his mouth. Sammy refused to believe the man who had adored him so deeply would just abandon him with only a brief letter and never a look back.

Farro couldn’t blame his son. Some days he had difficulty believing it himself. Unfortunately, Farro had grown to face the truth: Kylen wasn’t returning. Kylen was never returning. His inner wolf whimpered sadly inside.

“Why can’t he come home?” With the simplicity of a child, Sammy waited for an easy explanation.
A sigh escaped Farro before he could pull it back. “He’s in charge of the fae now. They need him to rule.”

“We need him more. You should go get him.” Sammy tilted his head and pinned his father with a no-nonsense look. In Sammy’s world, there wasn’t anything his father couldn’t do. Farro hated to disappoint him.

“It’s not quite that easy.” Farro stood and crossed his arms over his chest. He needed every advantage he could get. Unlike the other times he’d explained Kylen’s disappearance, Sammy didn’t appear willing to drop the subject. Farro wouldn’t back down. He had absolutely no plans for retrieving the asshole that had abandoned his family with only a note. He didn’t care how bad Anthony claimed Kylen felt about leaving. Kylen had left—end of story. Farro’s inner wolf might pine from lack of his other half, but Farro’s human half was made of sterner stuff and he refused to give in to his beast.

“But he’s lost!” Sammy wailed, a screechy, high-pitched sound. Farro winced at the noise.

“What makes you think he’s lost?” This was an approach Sammy hadn’t used before, and Farro had to admit he was curious over where it was going. His son had become increasingly creative in his demands for Kylen’s return.

“You told me if I’m not where I’m supposed to be, I’m lost. Papa is supposed to be here so he must be lost too. You need to go find him.” Sammy’s big eyes shone with tears.

Farro didn’t need to go and find Kylen, he knew exactly where his mate was with every breath of his being. The presence of Kylen lived in the back reaches of his mind like a festering wound, constant and painful. Farro was now eternally connected to a man who’d abandoned his family but could never leave him entirely. Now Farro knew why Silver had appeared so ragged after Anthony had vanished. Farro had already penned a letter for Dare and Steven to accept custody of Sammy if Farro snapped under the strain of losing his soul mate. Dare loved Sammy as if the half-wolf shifter was his own, and Steven would make sure Sammy wasn’t ridiculously spoiled.

Farro turned his focus on his child again. Sammy’s eyes were bright with tears, and the grip on his bear had turned his knuckles white. Biting his bottom lip, Farro nodded.

“I’ll go talk to him,” he agreed. His wolf howled in delight at the chance to see their mate again. This could either heal Farro or destroy him entirely.

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K.A. Merikan

Eep! “Mind the Zombies at the Gates of London” by Agnes Merikan – Oh, And There’s Also A Giveaway!


I love zombies. They represent things most of us dread: the slow, ugly process of decomposition of our bodies; a rapidly spreading infectious disease public services can’t stop; and the collapse of society as we know it. But while I love zombies, the typical survival/slasher stories populated by the rotters have never been my cup of tea. I eventually became a huge fan of shows such as The Walking Dead and In the Flesh because they focus on relationships and the way people cope with the new situation. It’s just so much more interesting if the zombies are only used as a background, as an excuse to tell something new about the characters.

At some point, me and my co-writer started fantasizing about writing a story set in an alternative Victorian London. We are both fascinated by this period yet writing a regular historical novel wasn’t what we wanted to do at that point, and in came the zombies. In the universe of Zombie Gentlemen, history starts going off course in 1887 when the undead start appearing all over Europe. The genesis of the illness is unknown, as is the cure, so there are numerous theories and useless ‘treatments’ offered to desperate victims.

Many countries collapse, small communities form self-sustainable enclaves that later develop without any contact with the outside world, and some of the bigger cities that managed to survive formed their own governments. The London of the Zombie Gentlemen universe is a place even less pleasant than its historical counterpart. Citizens were forcibly put to work on huge city walls that helped keep the infected out, but twenty years later, the space inside is running out. In fact, population density is so high, new immigrants are often refused access into the city, which led to the establishment of Bylondon, a group of parasitic districts that formed spontaneously outside the city walls. This situation, of course, starts new trends in architecture, technology, agriculture, and so on, which gives us lots of space for imagining alternative scenarios.

Stung, our newest novel, is set in a forced labour camp somewhere in the forest. It’s not a state-owned penal colony though, but a lucrative business ran by the powerful Dal family. With the drastic shortage of food, slave-driven farms are the source of great wealth. The Dals are one of the most prominent organizations in Bylondon but their influence stretches into the city as well. The mob runs its district with an iron fist and nobody dares to protest in fear of repercussions on them or their families. This way, people like Victor, the main character of Stung, are forced into lifelong servitude for minor offences, or no reason at all. But there is change in the air, a change so powerful it has even reached the labour camp Honeyhill.

***

— If you want honey, prepare to get stung. —

October 1907, Honeyhill

Twenty years into the zombie Plague

Victor is a man of delicate sensibilities, not fit to do backbreaking labour on a farm ran by the mob. Upon arrival in Honeyhill, he decides he needs an anchor, an alliance with one of the guards, if he wants to survive. That anchor comes in the form of Crunch, a hunky ex-sailor with a pair of tight leather trousers and a ruggedly handsome face.

But from day one, Victor knows he won’t last long with the hard physical work assigned to him and the torment he suffers at the hands of a sadistic guard. He needs to run, and his new alliance might prove to be a burden instead of solace.

If Crunch wants Honeyhill liberated, he needs to focus on his job, not on protecting Victor, one of many new arrivals on the farm. Distraction is the last thing he needs after months of undercover work. But it’s hard not to get seduced by Victor’s big brown eyes and fingertips that don’t know work. Hundreds of people depend on Crunch keeping his identity a secret, revealing it could be fatal for both him and Victor, and a failure of his mission.

Thankfully, Victor would never be dumb enough to try and escape through a forest that’s swarming with zombies. Would he?

***

Stung is a standalone book and a part of the “Zombie Gentlemen” universe.

Themes (may contain SPOILERS): zombies, prisoner/guard, beekeeping, gore, deception, undercover agent, captivity, romance, brutality, forced labour camp, murder, farm, torment, forbidden romance, Victorian

Erotic content: explicit m/m sexual scenes (including dubious consent)

Genre: dystopian homoerotic thriller

Length: ~50,000words

Available now at:

Amazon
All Romance eBooks
Smashwords

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BIO

K.A. Merikan is a joint project of Kat and Agnes Merikan, who jokingly claim to share one mind. They finish each other’s sentences and simultaneously come up with the same ideas. Kat and Agnes enjoy writing various kinds of stories, from light-hearted romance to thrillers. They love creating characters that are not easy to classify as good or evil, and firmly believe that even some villains deserve their happy endings. It is easiest to find them in galleries, good restaurants and historical sites, always with a computer or notebook, because for Kat and Agnes, every day is writing day. Future plans include lots of travel and a villa on the coast of Italy or a flat in Paris where they could retire after yet another crazy venture, only to write more hot homoerotic stories.

***

Mail to: kamerikan@gmail.com
K.A. Merikan’s author page:http://kamerikan.com
Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/KAMerikan
Twitter:https://twitter.com/KA_Merikan
Agnes Merikan’s Twitter:https://twitter.com/AgnesMerikan
Goodreads:http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6150530.K_A_Merikan

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THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED

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Jennifer Wright, Totally Bound

Boo! It’s A Vampire Kind Of A Day, And Jennifer Wright Wants To Give You A Halloween Treat, No Trick!




TNA: Welcome to The Novel Approach, Jennifer, we couldn’t be happier to have you here with us today. Why don’t we start by having you tell us a little bit about yourself, a few things that make you, you?

JW: Well, I’m originally from Arizona, but now live in Wisconsin (I know, drastic change in weather, right? :P). I live in a happy home with my sweetie-pie and our two cats. I love watching movies, reading, and spending as much time with my family that I can.

What makes me, me? Simple – writing. Writing defines who I am, my passion, my center, my everything. If I couldn’t be a writer, I’d be a sullen husk without purpose or personality. Wow, too deep? Nah! I know y’all can handle it. ;) I am a writer after all – Drama is my middle name.

TNA: Have you always written M/M Romance, or is that something that came along later in your writing career?

JW: It came along later. I very much enjoyed writing M/F, but then my reading took a turn to the M/M side and I found a whole new passion! My first published book, Pavarus, actually started out as an M/F. It was hell converting it, lol! Now, everything is M/M. My first two books I wrote will stay M/F, and one day when I find time to revamp them, I hope to get them published – maybe under a pen name.

TNA: What was your first published M/M title? Do you remember the precise moment you came up with the story idea and knew you wouldn’t rest until it was told?

JW: My first published M/M title was Pavarus: Finding Home Series book 1. I hate admitting this, but I honestly can’t remember when I came up with the idea, or what inspired it. I’m constantly coming up with new books in my head all the time – it’s hard to keep track of it all.

TNA: How long have you been writing?

JW: I started writing ‘for real’ only a little over 3 years ago. I dabbled in it a little growing up, but nothing serious, just for my own personal pleasure.

TNA: Let’s chat a little bit about the Finding Home series. When you started it, did you have all the books plotted in advance, or do you just write as the characters tell you their stories? Did you know in advance how many books there’d be in the series?

JW: In the very beginning, I didn’t have everything plotted out, but about halfway through writing Pavarus, the rest of the series came to me – well, for the most part. Originally, there were only going to be 4 books, but at the very end of the first one – when writing about Eli – Keddrick and Eli’s story came rushing in. Zane’s story was supposed to be book 2, but the impatient Keddrick and Eli wouldn’t wait and demanded their story next. Thankfully it was all thought out by the time I reached out to Totally Bound.

TNA: I know that Wesley didn’t get the mating mark because he is human, but with Eli being a magical being is there a reason he didn’t get the mating mark?

JW: Actually, it’s a family mark. It’s kind of like their last name – it represents who they are. The family mark is only passed between vampires. Since Wes had a way of getting Remus’ mark by an emblem on a necklace, I wanted Eli to get ‘something’, so I was going to have Eli getting Keddrick’s family mark tattooed on, but it didn’t really fit in well to the story.

TNA: The world building in these first two novels was very detailed. How did you come up with this universe that the vampires and their enemies are living in?

JW: Uh, I don’t know. Lol! It just kinda came to me. It wasn’t like I was thinking and devising it in my head, it was more like I was watching it all be created in my mind and I just wrote down what I saw.

TNA: Which authors have been your biggest influences?

JW: J.R. Ward and J.L. Langley. Ward has a writing style that I’m flat-out envious of, and Langley has some of the best story ideas I’ve ever read. There isn’t a book by either author that I don’t absolutely LOVE.

TNA: As I said in my review of Pavarus, I am a vampire story junkie. What are some of your favorite vampire novels?

JW: J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series has to be #1. Lara Adrian’s Midnight Breed series has to be #2. I know neither are M/M, but I don’t actually read a whole lot of vampire books.

TNA: Will any of your couples end up having children in the future, either by surrogate or maybe magical means?

JW: Unfortunately, no. There was a moment when I was going to add an abandoned child in and have the little boy be adopted by my couple in the 4th book, but it really doesn’t seem to be fitting in right anymore, so I don’t think it’ll happen.

TNA: Do you have any favorite characters in the series? If yes, which ones and why?

JW: Zane and Larken, hands down. For Zane, I love his attitude, his hardness (stop thinking dirty there Jackie), and his true personality that is only shone when he’s with Larken. And for Larken…well, what’s not to love. ;)

TNA: Will Aliam be given another mate? I would hate to see him mourn forever while all of his friends find true love.

JW: I hate to be the bearer of bad news then, but no, he doesn’t get another mate. His heart will forever only belong to Eveen.

TNA: Would you care to share a little bit of information on any of your current WIPs?

JW: Ugh! I wish I could tell you about Athis Dey: Finding Home Series book 4, but I don’t want to give anything away for the 3rd book. I really set the 3rd book up as a ‘who’s Zane gonna choose?’, so revealing the main characters in the fourth book will kind of give it away. But other than my FH Series, I’m writing 5 other books.

There’s too many to talk about so I’ll just tell you about a futuristic one titled Love Me As I Am. It’s about this woman, Anna, who has all along known that deep down she’s meant to be a man. Being the future, this is actually possible where she can be transformed completely into a man. Now Rayne (once Anna) has to get Emery, his best friend and the man he’s secretly loved, to except him as a man now instead of the woman he once was.

TNA: Where can readers find you on the internet?

Blog: http://authorjenwright.wordpress.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorJenniferWright
Twitter: https://twitter.com/_JenWright
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/JenniferWright
Totally Bound: https://www.totallybound.com/index.php?route=product/author/info&author_id=253
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Jennifer-Wright/e/B00A2I2F80/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

TNA: Would you care to share an excerpt from Airos with us?

Blurb:

Zane has everything in his life under control and in order, but can he keep it that way when a young dragon is thrown into his life?

Zane was meant to be a warrior—end of story. Though he may not have had the most pleasant life living at the coven, he still loved being there. But the steadiness of his world came to a halt all within one day’s events. A man he never saw coming has pushed the boundaries of what little normalcy he has, and learning of a secret love is just confusing him even more. Zane has never felt more torn on what he should be feeling…and for whom. Though, if he assumed having two men plaguing his every waking thought was hard enough, learning of the danger his mother is in nearly has his head spinning off into another dimension.

The leader of the Dráguns is threatening to take everything away from him, his best friend is slipping further and further away from him, and a little dragon is managing to get under his skin in more ways than one. Sorting out what he has to do, what he wants, and what’s right for him will be the biggest challenge he’s ever been faced with. Will he follow his heart or will he take the easy path…or is the easy path the right path to begin with?

Excerpt:

Larken watched the tiny snowflake drift down from the sky. He reached out and let it fall into his hand, melting the moment it touched his skin.

If it were only that easy, to simply melt away and exist no more.

“Larken?”

Larken stilled at the sound of Zane’s voice.

“There you are. What are you doing out here? It’s fucking freezing.” Zane joined him on the balcony but didn’t come up to stand next to him, instead leaning against the ledge a few feet away. “I, uh… I was wondering if we could talk.”

Larken remained silent—he had nothing to say. And even if he did, he didn’t think he’d be capable of forming the words and speaking them out loud.

“All right, I’ll talk—you listen. Can we go inside, though? It’s colder than hell out here.”

Larken made no move to go inside, he just stared at the woods and at the tiny snowflakes that were slowly gathering on the leaves of the trees.

“All right, I guess we’ll stay out here then.” There was a moment of silence and Larken could hear Zane shuffling next to him. “I imagine today came as quite a surprise for you. Even though I hated to do so, that side of my life had to remain a secret. I did it for my mother.”

His half-breed side, that’s what he came to talk about? Of course, I should have known…why else would he be here.

“You have to know, though, that keeping it from you hurt the most.”

Not nearly as much as I’m hurting now.

“There were so many times that I wanted to tell you, to share that side of my life with you.”

Only a side? But I want all of it. I would have given anything to have it…to have you.

“I hate that you had to find out this way. But I just couldn’t… Bo had been hurt, and I had to go find him.”

Larken closed his eyes as a knot formed in his chest, stealing his breath away. The dragon. Zane exposed himself for Bo. His secret was important enough to go a century and a half without telling anyone…and he gave it up for the dragon.

When Larken had left the gathering room the hurt inside him had clutched at his soul and had been slowly sucking the life out of him. The ache had consumed him and spread throughout his body, attacking every nerve and every emotion—the last bit of it tearing at his heart just then, as the man he loved spoke of another.

“Do you have nothing to say?” Zane asked, concern lacing his words.

Larken let the silence linger between them, trying to figure out in his mind how every-thing had gone so wrong. “I don’t care that you’re a half-breed,” he finally replied. It was true, he didn’t care, and it was the least of his concerns. He looked over to Zane. So many times he’d gazed into those sapphire eyes, praying that someday his friend would look at him in the same way. “Yeah, I’m a little mad that you didn’t tell me before, but it doesn’t matter.”

“Then why do you seem so upset?”

Here’s your chance, he’s asking you up front, do not cower away this time.

Larken wanted to curse at the voice inside his head. He had never cowered away before—he just knew that he’d needed to give Zane time to come around on his own.

Bullshit! The time for excuses is over—you and him are over. You let him slip away. You were weak—too scared that he’d reject you, and look where it’s gotten you.

Larken mentally shook his head, shaking away the harsh words. He wanted to argue back, deny everything, but ultimately he knew the voice was right. This was his last chance to tell Zane how he felt, but there were no words to even begin to describe his love for him.

He would just have to show him instead.

Closing the distance between them, Larken framed Zane’s face with his hands and crushed their mouths together. He put all the love he had into the kiss, handing over every ounce of his heart. He wanted to devour every inch of Zane’s mouth, but he held back, keeping the kiss passionate—not possessive. Finally, he pulled back and rested their foreheads together.

Larken brushed his thumbs across Zane’s cheeks. “Tell me you felt something,” he whispered, then placed a chaste kiss on Zane’s lips. “Tell me you felt something for me.”

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TNA: Thanks again for being here with us today, Jennifer!

JW: Thanks again for having me as a guest!

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THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED

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A.F. Henley, Less Than Three Press

AF Henley’s Giveaway Is “Thicker Than Water”



Thicker Than Water
by: AF Henley
M/M Romance
Coming October 9, 2013, with Less Than Three Press
Novella for the Proud to be Vampire Collection

In a world now weakened with vampire presence, Ladomer’s first experience with one of the creatures was a harsh, life-changing event that fueled his hatred towards the beasts. When a hunter joins his village to fight off the vampire’s nest Ladomer is drawn to the man in a way that surprises him. Forcing himself into Zor’s life is not an easy process nor is it met with Zor’s approval. Yet as the years slide past, Ladomer and Zor become more than mere hunters fighting alongside one another. They become partners. They become lovers.When a new quest calls their attentions deeper into the belly of Eastern Europe, Ladomer gets a new appreciation for just how cold and cruel the vampires can be. Face to face, human to vampire, both are about to gain new understandings into the differences between an oath and a vow. More so, they are about to realize that one does not necessarily need a beating heart to crave love’s existence within it.

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Author: A.F. Henley

Henley was born with a full-blown passion for run-on sentences, a zealous indulgence in all words descriptive, and the endearing tendency to overuse punctuation. Since the early years Henley has been an enthusiastic writer, from the first few I-love-my-dog stories to the current leap into erotica.

A self-professed Google genius, Henley lives for the hours spent digging through the Internet for ‘research purposes’ which, more often than not, lead seven thousand miles away from first intentions but bring Henley to new discoveries and ideas that, once seeded, tend to flourish.

Henley has been proudly working with LT3 since 2012, and has been writing like mad ever since—an indentured servant to the belief that romance and true love can mend the most broken soul. Even when presented in prose.

Comments, kudos and signature card requests are happily received at afhenley.com.

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The Giveaway:

In celebration of the release of Thicker Than Water, and to thank The Novel Approach Reviews for allowing me to get the word out, I’ve decided to try something a little different … everyone who leaves a comment will be entered in a draw for a one month serial subscription to Less Than Three Press. (What is this? Here: check it out.)

THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED

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FAQs:

Is Thicker Than Water a serial fiction post, then? No, it is not. It’s a novella that’s part of a collection. It is available for purchase as a stand alone novella, or as a part of the entire collection.

Do you have any serial fictions that I could read if I won? Yes. As a matter of fact, Rockaybe begins its run on October 30th. It, as well as many other fantastic serials, would be be available for your viewing pleasure.

How long does the subscription run for? One month. And if you love it, and decide you can’t live without it, LT3 has some very reasonable rates to continue your subscription.

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Eileen Griffin, Evernight Publishing, Nikka Michaels

Nikka Michaels And Eileen Griffin Have Brought Chase, Matt, And A Giveaway With Them


We’re so pleased to have both authors and gentlemen here with us today to say hi, so read on to learn a little bit about Chase and Matt, and see how easy it is to enter for a chance to win Chasing Matt


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Blurb

Chase Williams is a gorgeous but painfully shy web designer whose long term boyfriend dumped him for being such a “nice” guy. Instead of meeting his buddies at the local bar for a drink he helps his elderly neighbor with a DIY project. When a wobbly step ladder leads to a banged up wrist and a trip to the ER Chase is convinced it’s the worst night ever. Then he meets his handsome nurse.

Matt Owens is the boy next door who loves working in the busy ER. He’s more than ready to clock out from his double shift until he meets his patient in Bed 4. Matt’s bedside manner is charming enough to make Chase consider throwing caution to the wind and going after what he wants for a change. But will Matt’s attraction to Chase be enough to make him to break his rule about never dating patients?


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Interview with Matt and Chase from Chasing Matt

Question for Chase from Eileen: How did you know that Matt was someone you were willing to take a chance on?

A: *turns beet red* Usually when I meet people they say hello then immediately move onto someone more interesting because I tend to be on the shy and quiet side. With Matt it was different. Well, obviously he treated me as a patient, at the ER, but still, he actually talked to me as a person that was worth talking to and looked past the geeky glasses.

*slight interruption from Matt* Chase, for the thousandth time. The glasses are so far beyond geeky, it’s not even funny. And you in them? Dude, they, and you in them, are hot.

Question for Matt from Nikka: What was it about Chase that made you stop after your shift was over and ask if he needed help in the ER’s lobby?

A: He just looked so alone and I didn’t think that anyone should feel alone in the world. Especially after such a stressful night like the one he’d just had. Plus, he was really hot in his borrowed scrubs.

Question for Chase from Nikka: What do you think of Matt’s truck?

A: *looks over at Matt and turns an even deeper shade of red* I happen to love Matt’s truck. I also happen to love what Matt can do in his truck. *Matt smirks*

Question for Matt from Eileen: What are your honest impressions/feelings about Chase’s ex-boyfriend, Stephen?

A: Without question? He’s a total dick. And not in the good way. Luckily he leaves Chase alone now and has moved on.

Question for Chase from Nikka: Has Mr. Hodges asked for your help with any more DIY projects?

A: He has, but I bought him a new step ladder. I don’t want to end up in the ER again anytime soon.

*interruption from Matt* Um, I might have given Mr. Hodges my cell number. Just in case he needed any more projects done. As happy as I was to meet Chase in the ER, I don’t want him back there anytime soon either.

Question for Matt from Eileen: Caro seems a little wild. Can you tell the readers a little bit more about her?

A: Caro is…well. Caro. She’s very loud and opinionated and totally obnoxious. But she’s also a very loyal and caring friend. Even though she went a little overboard trying to get Chase and me together she meant well.

Question for Chase from Nikka: What are your plans for the future?

A: My plans are expanding my home based business, trying more things with Matt and hopefully getting out there a little more. Well, one step at a time.

Question for Matt from Eileen: What are your plans for the future?

A: Getting out more when I have time and am off work and hanging out more with Chase. He’s very much into his Rec Sports soccer league, so I’ve decided to give that a try. *coughs* I also like to be on hand in case any “accidents” happen while he’s playing.

*interruption from Chase* What kind of accidents? I’m perfectly capable of taking care of myself.

*smirk from Matt* But I like being the one who takes care of you.

Question from Chase from Eileen: What’s your favorite sexual position?

A: *turns crimson red and avoids all eye contact with everyone in the room* Um… Is that really one of the interview questions?

Question for Matt from Nikka: What’s your favorite sexual position?

A: *smirks wider* Yes, Chase. It’s really one of the interview questions. My favorite position is any position that involves Chase, so do I really have to pick just one?

Question for Chase from Nikka: What’s your favorite thing about Matt?

A: *smiles over at Matt* I love his sense of humor. If I’ve had a long or bad day, he never fails to have me smiling or laughing within minutes of just being near him.

Question for Matt from Eileen: What’s your favorite thing about Chase?

A: *smiles over at Chase* I love his loyalty and passion for life and the people in his life. He loves with all of his heart. It’s hard to find that in someone these days. I just feel lucky that I was on duty the night he walked into the ER.


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Links

Evernight Publishing

Amazon

All Romance Ebooks

Bookstrand

Rainbow eBooks

Barnes and Noble

Smashwords

Kobo


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THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED

Excerpt

Nurse Matt Owens paused and held my eyes for a minute before leaning over to type some notes on the computer. My skin flushed when he looked away. I liked the feeling of his eyes on me. I only wished he did it with personal interest instead of the clinical way he evaluated my injury.

I shifted on the stretcher as he gently manipulated my wrist, his hands steady and warm through the gloves. The pain was mostly manageable, until he held onto my forearm with one hand, and flexed my hand backward with the other. I jumped and yelped, unable to hide how much even that small movement hurt.

His eyes were sympathetic, but his hands remained firmly on my arm, steadying me. “Sorry. Bad news? There’s a lot of swelling, and the skin is already turning a nice shade of purple.”

He looked back down at my wrist, and manipulated my fingers and wrist again. When he held my hand still and slowly moved his thumb in circles over the top of my wrist, my breath hitched. The pain of the injury mixed with a deeper pleasure that shot straight to my cock. I quickly shifted my good arm to cover my lap.

“Pain?” Matt’s concerned eyes met mine as he moved his thumb, gently rubbing the swollen skin between my thumb and pointer finger.

“A little.”

“Pressure points can help alleviate pain sometimes, but right now you’re too swollen to receive any real benefit. This pressure point is called the Valley of Harmony, but I’m sensing this is less than harmonic for you.”

I thought I saw the smallest hint of a smirk on his lips, but I couldn’t be sure since his face was still tilted down toward my arm. I cursed at myself for getting turned on by a nurse’s clinical exam.
“I’ve just called for a tech from Radiology to escort you down for your scans. Do you have any questions?”

I laughed under my breath. Did I have any questions? A whole litany of questions came to my mind ranging from where the hell was the exit so I can finally go home to what’s your phone number.

After I settled on the new stretcher, the tech wheeled me down the hallway towards Radiology. All I thought about was whether Matt would be there when I got back from the tests. If he was, and I hadn’t killed anyone from the pain taking over my whole body, maybe I’d actually work up the courage to strike up a conversation that had nothing to do with sludgy coffee, sucky fluorescent lighting, or beautiful ER lobbies, and get to know more about Nurse Owens. Maybe I’d embrace the new Chase Williams like Brett wanted me to and actually go after what I wanted for the first time in my life.

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Author Bios/Links

Nikka Michaels lives in the often rainy Pacific Northwest where she spends her time cooking, laughing and crafting romantic tales to satisfy her craving for HEAs.

http://www.facebook.com/Nikka.Michaels

http://www.nikkamichaels.com

http://www.evernightpublishing.com/nikka-michaels/

http://www.amazon.com/author/nikkamichaels

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7231273.Nikka_Michaels

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Eileen Griffin loves to travel and has spent many summers crossing Europe with nothing but a backpack. She enjoys TexMex, good wine and losing herself in a great book.

http://www.eileengriffin.wordpress.com

http://www.twitter.com/eileengriffin77

http://www.facebook.com/eileen.griffin

http://www.evernightpublishing.com/eileen-griffin/

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7231778.Eileen_Griffin

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Erica Pike, The Joyful Approach

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



Erica PikeGreetings GRL-goers!

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

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

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

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

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

THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED

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Black Hurricane OfficialBlack Hurricane (Boston Boys #3)

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

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

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

Erica Pike online:

Webpage/Blog
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Goodreads Group

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Carter Quinn, The Joyful Approach

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



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

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

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

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

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

THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED

See you all in Atlanta!

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

Out of the Blackness

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

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

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

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Eden Winters, The Joyful Approach

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



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


Diversion:

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

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

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

Collusion:

Dead men can’t love.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Corruption: Sequel to bestselling novels Diversion and Collusion.

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

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

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

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

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

Deleted scene from the upcoming book, Corruption

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Sir?” the tech asked.

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

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

“Get him!” someone shouted.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Think we lost them?” the kid asked.

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

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

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

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

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


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About the author:

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

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

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

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Julie Lynn Hayes, The Joyful Approach

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




The Making of Revelations: How it came to be

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

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

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

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

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

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

Revelations is love.

Thank you for having me here, enjoy your day!

About The Author:

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

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

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Blurb:

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

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

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

Excerpt:

Prologue: God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

O ye of little faith, watch and learn.

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The Joyful Approach, Venona Keyes

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






What to do?

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

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

What to do?
What to do?

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

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

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

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



Action Excerpt from The Trust

Chapter One

The Hitman is Hit

I’m falling down a spiral, destination unknown,

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

—“Twilight Zone” by Golden Earring



SHIT. Shit, shit, shit!

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

Gotta stop the bleeding, he thought with desperation.

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

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

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

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

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

“Anders, where are you?”

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

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

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

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

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

Fucking traitor.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fucking traitors. All of them.

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

Jake slowly reached inside his pants.

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

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

“Like hell.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’ll give you something.”

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

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

“I had help.”

“Oh?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

The tension in his shoulders abated with her words.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’ll see that you get some water.”

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

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

This was different. He was so… real.

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

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


Romance Excerpt from Prelude:

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

Deep breath.

Focus.

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

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

It’s a concert.

Nothing more.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can find Venona Keyes:

Facebook
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Website
Email

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J.H. Trumble

Just Between Us, JH Trumble Is Here With An Interview And Giveaway!





TNA: Hi, Janet, thanks so much for being here with us today. Why don’t we start out with you telling us a little bit about yourself?

JHT: I’m utterly boring and alternate between being a hopeless procrastinator and positively driven. (You might want to skip this question. :) )

TNA: Was there someone who inspired and encouraged you to begin writing creatively?

JHT: Not directly. I’ve been a reader since I was a little girl, and I’ve always admired authors and their ability to enchant and enthrall and rip your heart out and keep you up at night. I wanted to do that too. I studied creative writing in college, did a little writing for my university’s review and my local newspaper. It took me a long time, though, to take the plunge and pen a complete novel.

TNA: Why did you start writing M/M romance?

JHT: The first novel I ever read featuring a gay character was James Howe’s Totally Joe. I so adored that middle grade book that I set out to read every LGBT YA book I could get my hands on. And there are some terrific ones out there. But I felt like something was missing. So I decided to write a story that I didn’t think had been written yet, the story that I really wanted to read. It evolved and I found myself drawing on all kinds of experiences that I’d had and tragedies that I knew of. I never dreamed it would be published. And then I fell in love with the characters and just kept going. I wanted to find out what happened to Luke, and then Robert. My novels were actually written in that order—Don’t Let Me Go, Just Between Us, and then Where You Are. But they were not published in that order. Just Between Us took a little longer to become.

TNA: How are you doing now that your son is away at school? Are you settling into a new routine?

JHT: He told me recently I was clogging up his Facebook newsfeed with my comments on his posts and tags. The brat! Letting go is hard. As for a new routine, the beginning of every school year is a crazy time for us. I still have a 16-year-old daughter at home who’s just starting driving. I do hope to settle into a routine soon, though, and get a new book off the ground. Getting my son ready to leave for college and all the anxiety that came with that (mine, not his) completely consumed my spring and summer. As I’m writing this, I’m watching the Longhorn Band’s pregame performance and trying to spot him on the field!

TNA: What is the perfect writing atmosphere for you?

JHT: Quiet, early morning, when the house is cold and my brain is firing on all pistons. Sometimes I listen to music; sometimes I don’t. Sometimes the TV is on; sometimes it’s off. But I always do my best work in the early morning hours before anyone is up. I pour a cup of coffee that usually goes cold before I drink it, turn on a small heater at my feet, and lose myself in the story. But even when I quit writing for the day, I’m always thinking and jotting down notes.

TNA: Many of your characters are in their late teens and early twenties. What is it that draws you to characters in this period of their personal growth?

JHT: Older teens are right on the cusp of adulthood, yet they are not yet independent, and their parents still wield considerable power. It makes for some interesting power struggles. I write parents (the good ones) the way I want to be.

Also, some of the neatest couples I know were high school sweethearts. I think that’s such a romantic thing—to meet young and grow up together. I just believe that teenagers are capable of so much more than we often give them credit for.

TNA: The photos on your book covers are all beautiful. How much input do you have in the design of them? Do you have a favorite photographer?

JHT: They are beautiful, thank you. I had very little input. My editor and a cover designer chose the covers. I didn’t see any of them until they were a done deal.

TNA: Have you ever seen a particularly sexy photograph and knew you had to write a book based on that picture? If so, which book(s)?

JHT: Not photos, but I am often influenced by people that I find interesting. Nate and Adam were influenced by Nate Berkus and Adam Lambert. I always intended to change their names, but they became their own people and they were just Nate Schaper and Adam Jefferies to me and that was that. Luke and Robert were both influenced by young men in my son’s marching band. I didn’t know either of them—just names and what I observed, but I found them fascinating. Danial was influenced by a young man I knew when he was a 7th grader, long grown now, but one of the neatest kids I ever met. Andrew was more of a compilation of a couple of really cool teachers I know. Curtis was completely original, though, to me, he looks a lot like Daniel Tosh.

TNA: In Where You Are you wrote about a really controversial topic. What was your motivation in that? Also, you have a son who was close to Robert’s age. Did you find yourself putting Danny in Robert’s shoes and experiencing how a mother might feel in the situation?

JHT: I’ve been asked that question before—what if it were my own son. By the second semester of his senior year, my son was very much a grown man. If he’d met someone six years older, I’d certainly have been concerned, but I doubt I would have had much influence on the relationship. While he is still financially dependent on me, he’s very much his own man.

As to your first question—my motivation for writing Where You Are—that’s kind of complicated. I guess the idea originated with a lawyer friend of mine who met his wife in high school. He was a first year history teacher and she was a senior cheerleader. About a month after she graduated, he asked her out. They recently welcomed their third grandchild. That’s the first part. The second part is that public school is an environment I know well, including the scandals that pop up from time to time, and the harsh Texas law that makes felons out of consenting adults. I wanted to blend the two. I wanted to write about a good person, a good teacher, and a relationship that simply launched too soon. I wanted to know under what circumstances someone like that would cross that line between student and teacher. I find nothing shocking about Andrew and Robert’s relationship except for the fact that for four more months, they were student and teacher.

There are quite a few books out there exploring predator/victim relationships. This is not that book. Nevertheless, I knew from the get-go that there had to be consequences.

TNA: In your new book, Just Between Us, you again take on controversial subject matter. I think it is courageous of you to do that. Do you feel it makes you more vulnerable to criticism?

JHT: Perhaps. I don’t know. I don’t think about whether or not my books will be controversial when I tackle a topic. I just want to explore difficult relationships and the heroics that keep them together. With Just Between Us I wanted to write about stigma and I wanted to give Luke a chance to prove his mettle. I didn’t even know when I started the novel that Curtis would be diagnosed with HIV. It was several rewrites later when I finally knew what was really going on. His earlier ailments just didn’t have the kind of gravity I needed for the story.

The idea came from my own experiences. When I met my late husband, I already knew from friends that he didn’t have many more years to live. He was just 27 when he was diagnosed. When it came to relationships, many considered him a Dead Man Walking. I saw how the stigma of terminal cancer affected him. That’s what I wanted to write about—the humanity of someone who is dealing with a devastating diagnosis. I chose HIV because I don’t think there’s a disease with a greater stigma, and ultimately I wanted Curtis to live.

TNA: You keep a relatively low profile in social media. Do you feel one way or the other about your low profile in comparison to other authors who maintain an extensive on-line presence?

JHT: How do they do that? I always ALWAYS feel like I should be doing more. At the same time, I want to just shut out the world and focus on my writing. I’m fairly introverted, pretty awkward socially, and easily overwhelmed by the demands of social media, so I hope fans will forgive me. But I always respond when readers reach out to me. I appreciate them so much for reading my books and for sharing their thoughts with me. It makes all that time I spend alone in front of my computer so worthwhile.

TNA: Of all the characters you’ve created, do you have a favorite? If so, who and why?

JHT: I hurt for Nate. I adore Adam’s openness and loyalty. I feel Robert’s longing and Andrew’s passion. I admire Luke’s courage, and I want to see Curtis live and love until he’s an old man. They are all my favorites!

TNA: How would you describe your sense of humor? What makes you laugh?

JHT: I definitely have a funny bone. I hope it shows through in my books. I used to follow a blog called Gossip Candy that had me rolling on the floor, my eyes streaming, day after day. She’d post these hilarious gifs and add conversation bubbles to photos. It’s down now (I miss it!) but that blog definitely influenced my writing in Don’t Let Me Go. I don’t know. Silly things make me lose it. Kids are great source of hilarity. I’ll get the giggles and sometimes it’s hard to stop.

TNA: Do you have a favorite literary character? If so, who and why?

JHT: No favorite that I can point to.

TNA: You publish through one of the large New York traditional publishers, Kensington. They aren’t known for their LGBT presence. How did this relationship come about?

JHT: Kenginston is the largest independent publisher in the U.S., I believe. My agent pitched Don’t Let Me Go to Peter Senftleben at Kensington. He loved it, helped me clean it up. And the rest is history.

TNA: Would you care to share a little bit of information on any of your current WIPs?

JHT: I have a couple of projects I’ve been playing around with, but I haven’t settled on anything yet. I feel very committed to writing gay characters, though, so I’m sure there will be more to come.
Where can readers find you on the internet?

I do maintain (and I use that word loosely) a website and blog at http://www.jhtrumble.com and readers can find me on Facebook and Twitter. I’m terrible about updates, though. I’m just not that interesting.

TNA: Would you like share an excerpt from Just Between Us with us?

JHT: Sure! Here you go:

Excerpt from Just Between Us

Curtis takes an HIV test

Curtis

By Wednesday morning, there’s no denying I’m run down. I’m achy, tired. The fever is in its fourth day, and I promised Dad. I make an appointment at the health center for late morning. Maybe I can get a vitamin shot or at least some assurance that this fever has just about run its course.

The health center is located on the far side of campus from my dorm room, but it’s a short walk from my ten o’clock class.

A heavy-set woman with graying hair pinned in an old-fashioned bun calls me back and directs me to a treatment room. She smiles as she closes the door behind us and asks me to step on the scale. “We’re seeing a lot of flu right now. Happens every fall.” She notes my weight—162. I step off the scale and take a seat on the treatment table as she pulls a cuff from the wall. My hands tremble. Doctors’ offices always do that to me. Maybe that’s natural, or maybe it’s a throwback from my head injury when I was a kid.

“Just relax,” the nurse says as she wraps the blood pressure cuff around my arm. She places a stethoscope on the inside of my elbow and pumps up the cuff. “You’re warm. How long have you been running a fever?”

“About four days.”

“One twenty-two over eighty-four,” she says, releasing the air from the cuff. “A little high, but understandable.” She wraps up the cuff and places it back in the plastic holder on the wall, then takes my temperature. “Are you taking anything for the fever?”

“Tylenol.”

“When did you last take it?”

“A couple of hours ago.”

She notes everything on the computer, then pats my leg and tells me the doctor will be in shortly.

I check the time on my phone: 11:32. Luke is probably having lunch right now. I wonder who he’s sitting with. Jackson? Spencer? Phoebe? I make a mental note to ask him. And then I think about our second first date. I wonder if he dances. I imagine holding him close in some dance hall, whispering in his ear, nuzzling his ear, kissing his ear. Breathing in the great peppermint smell that always wafts from his skin. Soon, Luke.

I scan the pamphlets tucked in an acrylic display case hanging on the wall—Alcohol and Substance Abuse, Depression and Suicide, Eating Disorders, Stress, Prescription Medication, STDs . . . . I look at my phone again and think about texting Dad to let him know I’m okay.

A firm, quick knock on the door. “Curtis,” the doctor says, stepping in. He reaches for my hand. “I’m Dr. Nguyen. So, I understand you’ve been running a fever,” he says, checking the nurse’s notes. “Let’s have a look.” He feels the glands around my neck, then checks my throat, my eyes, my ears. “Cameron. Hmm. I went to UT with a Cameron. Derrick. We called him DC. Any relation?”

“That’s my dad.”

“No kidding? Small world, huh? How’s he doing? I haven’t seen him in years. Is he designing skyscrapers?”

“Mostly bridges and roads.”

“Yeah? And what about your mom? How’s she doing?”

“She died when I was a baby.”

He studies my face. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know.” He presses a stethoscope to my back and chest.

“Chills? Body aches?” I nod. “Well, I’d say you’ve got the flu. Your chest sounds a little rattley, so I’m going to go ahead and start you on some antibiotics just in case you’re working on a secondary infection here—we’ve been seeing some cases of pneumonia already—but I suspect this flu’s about run its course. You should be feeling much better in a few days in any case.”

“No blood test?” I ask.

He scoots his stool over to the computer. “Any reason why you think you need one?” He taps out some notes on the keyboard.

I take a deep breath to steady myself. “I thought maybe you could test for HIV while I’m here. It’s just, I’ve never had one, and I thought it would be a good idea.”

“Sure. No problem. We generally do that with a mouth swab though. We can have results in about twenty minutes.”

“Okay. Great.”

“I wish all our students would get tested. It should be part of everyone’s routine health screening.” He stands and reaches for my hand again. “Let me get the nurse back in here. Be sure and tell your dad hello for me.”

“I will.”

He’s not planning to come back in again. I take that as a good sign. Routine test. Routine results.

I hadn’t actually considered asking for an HIV test until I did. But I’m relieved to get this out of the way. Twenty minutes. I expected to have to wait weeks. I breathe a little easier knowing that in twenty minutes, I can take off that emergency brake and move on with my life. Because I’ve got some making up to do to a cute, blond, high school kid next weekend.

“All right,” the nurse says, coming through the door with a small package from which she removes a plastic stick with a pad on one end. “This will only take a second.”

I open my mouth so she can swab my outer gums on top and on bottom. “That’s it.” She drops the swab in a vial with some liquid and gives me a reassuring smile. “Can I bring you some magazines to read while you wait?”

“No, I’m fine. Thanks.”

I check the time again: 11:50. If I text now, I might catch him before he heads back to class. Still running a fever, but antibiotics ordered. I intend to collect on that rain check soon. I miss you.
I stare at that last sentence for a moment. It’s funny . . . telling him I miss him seems like more of a declaration than a kiss or a rain check. But I know he’ll like that. And it’s true. I’m smiling to myself when I press Send.

In a moment, he texts back. Spencer just asked what I’m smiling about. J I miss you too. After game Friday?

Can’t. Have my own game. Drum major coaching on Saturday?

Drum major coaching—riiight. Ha ha. I appear to have some deficits. Be prepared for some intense one-on-one instruction.

One-on one-instruction, huh? The flirt. I’m still sitting on the treatment table, smiling down at the screen, when there’s a knock, and Dr. Nguyen steps back into the room. Despite the fever, my skin goes cold. He takes the stool and swivels to face me, then clasps his hands in his lap and studies them for a moment.

My eyes blur. Please. No. Tell me I’ve got pneumonia. Tell me I’ve got herpes. Anything. Just—just not this.

He lifts his eyes to mine. “The HIV test came back positive, Curtis.”

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Many thanks to JH Trumble for taking the time out of her writing schedule to be here with us at The Novel Approach today.

THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED

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Santino Hassell

Everything Good Happens “After Midnight” – Including Giveaways!



CoverProofFinalAfter Midnight by Santino Hassell

Gordon Frost is a survivor. He survived a war that ravaged the nation, and he made it through the orphanages and crime-ridden slums that followed. With few prospects for the future, Gordon carved out a niche for himself in the expanding drug trade of Lexington, PA. It’s not pretty, but it’s his, and it beats what he was doing before. But a classic case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time results in a brush with death, going by the name of Adam. Afterward, the life that seemed good enough before, isn’t quite the same.

Adam Blake is an assassin on the brink of being terminated by the very organization that controls him. He completed his mission, but not without being seen. With his secrets in danger of being exposed by Gordon, Adam knows he should kill the smart-mouthed redhead, but finds himself intrigued by the troublesome civilian instead.

When Gordon’s knack for finding trouble combines with the dangerous consequences of Adam’s indecision, their worlds intertwine in an explosive way.


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After Midnight: Excerpt

“You know what I love?”

“No, but I’m sure you’re dying to tell me.”

“Oh, ha, funny. Anyway, I love to drink champagne while taking a bath. I feel so decadent and it always puts me in a better mood. You should try it sometime. You’d be less tense.”

Adam sneered as the absurd conversation played out in his ear. Marquis Delahunt was a fucking moron.

“Sure, I’ll get right on that. You think the liquor store on Post is keeping the Dom Pérignon behind the paper bags of Wild Irish Rose? I bet the bums are dying to get at that shit. Popping the bubbly over their garbage can bonfires and whatnot.”

Adam’s mouth twitched up.

“Why are you such a sarcastic bitch all the time, Gordon?”

“I’m not. You’re just extra vapid right now. Like dark matter. A weird, empty, non-substance. . .”

Adam rolled over onto his back and placed a hand on his bare abdomen. He didn’t fight the smile that crept onto his face. Bugging Gordon’s phone had been a practical step in Adam’s new career as a stalker, but it had other perks. Amusement was the primary bonus.

“Like your head,” Marquis retorted.

“Worst comeback in the history of comebacks, baby.”

“Oh, whatever.”

Adam could practically hear Marquis pouting. He rolled his eyes.

“Aw, I’m joking,” Gordon said, not sounding the least bit regretful. “I’m just in a bad mood. Everyone’s being a pain in the ass lately. I’m surprised you even called me. You were included on that list.”

“Moi? Why? I did nothing but be myself.”

Yes. That was the fucking problem.

“I guess. But my feelings get hurt easy. You know that.”

The sneer returned. Adam had a strong desire to backhand Gordon repeatedly until the fool saw the error of his ways, and realized that Marquis Delahunt was best placed at the bottom of a landfill somewhere. Adam had been keeping tabs on Gordon for almost three weeks and nearly every conversation he had with Marquis turned into an embarrassing display of easily manipulated retardation.

“Sounds like a personal problem,” Marquis replied. “But I have an easy fix.”

“Oh yeah? What’s that?”

The sound of Gordon’s animated voice dropping into that husky octave went straight to Adam’s dick.

“Phone sex.”

Adam’s fingers curled into a loose fist.

“Or,” Marquis continued, his voice a purr. “We can do it online so you can see me.”

No.

“No,” Gordon swallowed audibly. “Phone is fine.”


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About the Author:

Santino Hassell is the co-author of the popular epic series In the Company of Shadows and the newly released solo project After Midnight. When not writing, he works in education, is a single dad to two amazing kids, and can be found either reading, playing video games, or complaining about the failure of New York’s public transportation system.


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Author Links:

http://www.santinohassell.com

http://www.goodreads.com/santino_hassell.com


BUY LINKS:

Amazon
All Romance Ebooks
Smashwords

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The Giveaway:

We have an After Midnight swag package available for giveaway that includes a free copy of the ebook along with After Midnight branded mason jar glass, koozie, pens, mousepad, and matchbox.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Jade Buchanan, MLR Press, The Joyful Approach

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



Hi there! Thanks for letting me play today!

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

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

Broken Distance by Jade Buchanan

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

Unedited Excerpt:

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

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

David shrugged.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“If it was you, what would you do?”

“David.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m telling mom.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

PicMonkey Collage

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

THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED

Thanks again!

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Poppy Dennison, The Joyful Approach

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


GRL Memories
Flashback: October, 2011

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

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

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

Poppy_Carol Lynne

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

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

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

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

Poppy_Geoff_Ethan

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

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

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

Albuquerque crew

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

Poppy_Jacob Flores

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

Poppy_TJ_Eric Arvin

Next up is GRL 2013. A month away…

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

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

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

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

Bio:

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

Visit her on her website
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED

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Rick R. Reed, The Joyful Approach

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






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

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

This bugs me for a few reasons:

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

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

But is it a romance? Oh yes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Blurb for Raining Men

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

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

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

Excerpt from Raining Men:

Prologue

Bobby’s Dream

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

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

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

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

Glorious!

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

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

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

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

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

It truly is raining men!

Hallelujah!

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

All for me!

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

And they do.

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

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

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

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

The music reaches a crescendo in time with my shrieks.

BOBBY NELSON woke.

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

The room was silent.

Where did the music go? Martha? Weather Girls?

Where was the rain? The thunder?

He breathed in deeply and exhaled slowly.

Calm.

Just a dream. A nightmare.

Where are all the men?

Finally, he grinned, turning over in his bed.

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

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

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

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

This has never happened before.

I have no idea who he is.

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

§§§§§§

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

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

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

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

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THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED

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Dreamspinner Press, Marguerite Labbe, The Joyful Approach

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





Make Me Whole – Myths and Self-Fulfilling Prophecies



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

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

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

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

THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED

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

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

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Amelia C. Gormley, The Joyful Approach

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






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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED

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

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

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

So here we go. The character profiles.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Strain is now available for pre-order from Riptide.


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

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

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Cody Kennedy, Harmony Ink Press

What A Way To Kick Off A Blog Tour – A Little Cody Kennedy, A Little “Omorphi”, And A Little Giveaway!






TNA: Hi, Cody, thanks so much for being here with us today. We are so excited to be part of your very first blog tour!

Why don’t we start out with you telling us a little bit about yourself?

CK: Hey, thanks for having me! It’s great to be here! I was born in Los Angeles, California and raised by my grandfather, a prolific author.

TNA: Was it your grandfather who inspired and encouraged you to begin writing creatively?

CK: Yes. I lost the ability to speak around age five or six and, at the age of seven, my grandfather said: “You may not have a voice, but you have a mind. Use it.” Then he slapped a pen, not a pencil, down in front of me. He used to say, “Real crossword puzzle doers do it in pen.” Yep, I had to write in pen. No erasers allowed. To add insult to injury, I had to write in proper cursive on unlined vellum. My grandfather had perfect penmanship and expected me to perfect mine and write in straight lines. There was none of this crooked-on-the-page stuff allowed. Brutal pressure for a seven-year-old.

TNA: What is the perfect writing atmosphere for you?

CK: A big room with lots of natural light. I can’t write in a claustrophobic environment.

TNA: Would you ever consider donating your hair to Locks of Love?

CK: Some of it? Yes. I mean, my hair may be down to my waist, but I’m old and have only three hairs left. I need to conserve.

TNA: How much input do you have in the design of your book covers?

CK: With respect to Omorphi, originally, I wasn’t brave enough to submit it to Harmony Ink Press. I didn’t think I wrote well enough and doubted Omorphi would be accepted. I planned to self-publish it and worked with Reese Dante to create the cover before I submitted Omorphi to Harmony Ink Press. As such, I had one-hundred-percent input. In working with Harmony Ink Press on Safe’s cover, Paul Richmond, who runs the art department, is fantastic to work with. Both he and Reese are good listeners, patient, and provide lots of choices.

TNA: As a responsible writer of LGBT fiction directly marketed to the YA consumer, you have written several blog posts about what you feel is and isn’t age appropriate to include in YA books, both heterosexual and homosexual. Where can we find this important information?

CK: Readers can find an article I wrote entitled ‘Young People Should Read About Life as it is – Lived: Writing Sex in Young Adult Works’ on my adult blog.

I’ll expound on this subject, and about writing violence, action, and the suspension of disbelief, during Omorphi’s blog tour.

TNA: Have you faced any blow-back from other authors or publishers regarding your opinions on the above mentioned topic?

CK: Including sex in young adult works is a very polarizing and controversial issue and some authors and publishers have openly criticized and disagreed with what I write. I am not offended by this and believe the controversy encourages desperately needed discussion on the issue. Sexual reference is everywhere in society and is obvious, and young adults will practice sexual exploration irrespective of age, law, and popular opinion. To avoid writing “things as they are” or “life as it is” in a contemporary novel is disingenuous. Writing about normal, healthy sexual exploration in teen relationships also provides introductory information that young adults may not otherwise have access to. It’s a given that young adults are far better prepared for society if armed with knowledge. I also believe that censoring and withholding vital information from young adults in the name of protecting them from themselves is often applied inappropriately and to extremes; and speaks to a lack of confidence in them. Young people can read and think for themselves and I wholly support their right to do so.

TNA: Of all the characters you’ve created, do you have a favorite? If so, who and why?

CK: I have two favorites. Christy in Omorphi and Isidore in my upcoming novel, Slaying Isidore’s Dragons. The two of them together are a fair representation of what I, and others who have suffered abuse, have endured yet triumphed over.

TNA: As an author, what’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

CK: *chuckles* My grandfather drilled ‘don’t get it right, get it written’ into me. As authors, our imaginations are priceless. It’s the most loyal BFF we will ever have. Explore it, cultivate it, own it. It is far more important to put our imaginations on paper than it is to be perfect. Bonus advice: Wear sunscreen. At least SPF 50.

TNA: You work with and mentor young people. Would you be willing to tell us a little bit about that?

CK: TF-CBT or Trauma-focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is an important part of therapy when recovering from abuse, and it requires that victims write or draw about what has happened to them. From time to time, I volunteer to help abused male tweens and teens write their stories. It is, without question, one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

TNA: How would you describe your sense of humor? What makes you laugh?

CK: *cracks up* Questions like this make me laugh. I don’t have a sense of humor. I’m terrible with humor. People tell jokes and I’m often left thinking, “What’s so funny about that?” or “I don’t get it.” That said, I’m great with sarcasm in my writing. Sometimes too good and I have to go back and tone down my writing.

TNA: Conversely, what makes you cry?

CK: I’m not a crier, per se, but my heart breaks and I become teary-eyed every time I learn or hear about another abused kid. I also tear-up when I read a great redemption story; or when people I respect compliment me. When genuine people take the time to contemplate me as a whole and compliment me, or my efforts, I’m deeply touched.

TNA: Do your characters ever up and take off without your consent and the best you can do is hang on and follow, or do you keep tight control over them?

CK: They take off all of the time. They’re horribly undisciplined. I’m often left hanging on for dear life as they turn a corner and change the entire direction of the story. They also accost me in the middle of the night with a new subplot or new dialogue. It leaves me feeling rather miniony.

TNA: Do you have any pets?

CK: Three wacky parrots who can imitate my laugh perfectly. One of them often peers at my laptop screen closely because the ever-changing posts scrolling through Facebook fascinate him. Truly odd, is that he often laughs before I do when a funny post passes by. I’m fairly certain he can read and he’s far better at understanding humor than I am. It’s kind of embarrassing when you think about it.

TNA: Would you care to share a little bit of information on any of your current WIPs?

CK: Slaying Isidore’s Dragons is an action-packed romance for gay young adults. The story is about two young men who lose parents in the same London car bombing. They meet at the beginning of their senior year at a private academy in the U.S. and fall in love. When conspiracy moves from theory to reality, only their unwavering determination to be together can save them. Together they face grief, tragedy, cruelty, and extraordinary peril. Read an excerpt HERE

TNA: Where can readers find you on the internet?

CK:
BLOG
TWITTER
FACEBOOK
GOODREADS

TNA: Would you like share an excerpt from Omorphi with us?

CK: Sure and thank you again for having me! It’s been awesome being here!

One of the reasons Christy moves to the U.S. is to avoid the Greek media, but the U.S. media finds him and an article appears in the news. In this scene, Christy asks Michael about it.

Blurb:

High school senior Michael Sattler leads a charmed life. He’s a star athlete, has great friends, and parents who love him just the way he is. What’s missing from his life is a boyfriend. That’s a problem because he’s out only to his parents and best friend. When Michael accidentally bumps into Christy Castle at school, his life changes in ways he never imagined. Christy is Michael’s dream guy: smart, pretty, and sexy. But nothing could have prepared Michael for what being Christy’s boyfriend would entail.

Christy needs to heal after years of abuse and knows he needs help to do it. After the death of his notorious father, he leaves his native Greece and settles in upstate New York. Alone, afraid, and left without a voice, Christy hides the myriad scars of his abuse. He desperately wants to be loved and when he meets Michael, he dares to hope that day has arrived. When one of Michael’s team-mates becomes an enemy and an abuser from Christy’s past seeks to return him to a life of slavery, only Michael and Christy’s combined strength and unwavering determination can save them from the violence that threatens to destroy their future together.

“Can I ask you some things?”

“You know you can ask me anything.”

“Does the publicity bother you?”

“What publicity? You mean about the meets?”

“Yes.”

“Mmm, sometimes. Usually only when they get in my face and ask personal questions.”

“They don’t say bad things about you?”

“Some jerk accused me of cheating once, and the media wouldn’t let it go for a year. It sucked.”

“What did you do?”

“Ignored it. You can’t get into an argument with someone who buys ink by the barrel. They’ll only say more. Now, I just ignore all the press.”

“You don’t care what they say?”

“Jake’s dad has something called a clipping service. They find all the articles that mention Jake or me and send copies to Nero’s office for review. If there is something I need to know, he tells me.”

“So you simply ignore this?”

“Yes. Why do you want to know?”

“Okay, another question. Have you ever known anyone who is famous?”

Michael smiled at Christy for ignoring his question. “What do you mean? Like a rock star?”

“Anyone.”

“Jake’s dad is kind of famous, and now I know Sophia.”

Christy clucked his disapproval. “You cannot look at her like this.”

“She’s famous.”

“A little. What if the media were cruel to you? If they say the truth, but in a bad light?”

“That happens a lot. Just ask Jake. We just ignore it.”

“You do not tell them to stop?”

“You can’t. At least not in this country. I know a couple of times Jake’s dad has called the newspaper or a TV station and told them to correct things, but that’s about all that you can do. You just have to take it in stride.”

Christy’s balled fist clenched against Michael’s chest. “What if… they say something about someone you care about?”

“If it were untrue, and if it warranted it, I’d issue a formal statement correcting it.”

Christy was agitated, clearly trying to get a point across. “What if it is true but phrased poorly?”

“I think you mean to ask what I would do if they said something that was true but phrased it unkindly for purposes of sensationalism.”

Christy looked up at him again. “Yes.” The word was breathless, said half in desperation, half in relief.

“I’d issue a statement saying just that. I’d say that the media was making statements for the sole purpose of selling copy without regard to that person, a penultimate form of disrespect, invasion of privacy, and I might even go so far as to say that it was an abuse of privilege.”

Christy continued to look up at Michael.

“What, babe? Why all these questions about media?”

Christy reached beneath his pillow, withdrew a newspaper, and handed it to Michael.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED

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About Cody:

Raised on the mean streets and back lots of Hollywood by a Yoda-look-alike grandfather, Cody Kennedy doesn’t conform, doesn’t fit in, is epic awkward and lives to perfect a deep-seated oppositional defiance disorder. In a constant state of fascination with the trivial, Cody contemplates such weighty questions as: If time and space are curved, then where do all the straight people come from? When not writing, Cody can be found taming waves on western shores, pondering the nutritional value of sunsets, appreciating the much maligned dandelion, unhooking guide ropes from stanchions, and marveling at all things ordinary.

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And now, here are the details for your second and third chances to win!

Follow Omorphi’s blog tour to win an ebook copy of Omorphi!

September 18th – Author Will Parkinson – Will holds nervous Cody’s hand the day before Omorphi’s release because he promised to and Cody’s talks about Omorphi’s Cover and Bringing Omorphi to Life

I’m #2 on Cody Kennedy’s Blog Tour for Omorphi! Welcome Cody.

September 19th – Mrs. Condit & Friends Read Books – Cody writes Perils and Pitfalls of Post Production Public Relations and a SECOND chance to win an ebook copy of Omorphi!

http://mrsconditreadsbooks.com/

September 19th – Smile, Somebody Loves You – Announcement post and Cody shares Omorphi Trivia with Beverly and Tamara

http://sslyblog.wordpress.com/

September 20th – Author Shira Anthony – Why I write the kind of stories I do by Cody

http://www.shiraanthony.com/

October 20th – Cody’s BlogOmorphi’s One Month Anniversary Trivia Contest and a THIRD chance to win an ebook copy of Omorphi – In order to enter this contest you must:

September 21st – Author Jamie Mayfield – Why Omorphi and A Broken Kind of Life are Same but Different

http://jamiemayfield.com/

Also on September 21st – Harmony Ink Press on Facebook: Meet Cody Kennedy and Jamie Mayfield

September 22nd – Cody’s Blog – Tony Edmondson, Fan Extraordinaire, interviews Cody

http://www.ckennedyauthor.blogspot.com/

September 27th – Author Wade Kelly – Character Interview with Christy Castle
http://www.writerwadekelly.com/

September 28th – Author Iyana Jenna – Fairy Fan Extraordinaire, Q&A with Christy Castle

http://iyanajenna.blogspot.com/

September 29th – Author Zoe Lynn – The Notes Behind Omorphi’s Play List

http://zoelynnebooks.blogspot.com/

October 4th – Sid Love’s Blog – Why the title Omorphi?

http://sidlove.wordpress.com/

October 5th – Author Madison Parker – What makes Omorphi unique?

http://madisonparklove.com

October 6th – Author John Ames – Q&A with Michael Sattler

http://jhabooks.webs.com/

October 11th – Boys on the BrinkOmorphi: Writing Sex and Violence in Young Adult works

http://www.blog.boysonthebrink.com/

October 12th – Author Jamie Fessenden – Cody shares Omorphi Trivia with Jamie

http://jamiefessenden.com/

October 15th – Granny Irene – A week in the Life of Christy Castle before Michael Sattler

http://ingridhall.wordpress.com/

October 18th – Author Sara Alva – A week in the life of Michael Sattler before Christy Castle

http://saraalva.com/

October 19th – Author Sam Kadence – Cody Talks About Writing Action and the Suspension of Disbelief

http://samkadence.com/

October 20th – Cody’s BlogOmorphi’s One Month Anniversary Trivia Contest and a SECOND chance to win an ebook copy of Omorphi – In order to enter this contest you must:

1) have visited and commented on each stop on Omorphi’s Blog Tour – please be sure to leave your name in your blog comment. “Anonymous” comments won’t qualify; and

2) you must correctly answer the trivia questions posted on Cody’s Blog by placing your answers in the comments section beneath the questions; and

3) along with your answers to the trivia questions, you must leave a comment about Omorphi’s Blog Tour.

The winner will be selected by Kismet, Cody’s greenwing macaw. The winner to be announced on October 21st.

http://www.ckennedyauthor.blogspot.com/

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To make things even more exciting, a new contest will begin on October 21st on The Novel Approach Reviews Blog to win an ebook copy of Cody’s novella, Safe, due out October 24th from Harmony Ink Press!

Get ready to read and win!

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Kendall McKenna, MLR Press

Kendall McKenna Is Here Today To Talk Wolves And Dog Tags And Giveaways!



Hello! I’m Kendall McKenna and write M/M Erotic Romance Novels. I’m best known for characters that are authentically written U.S. Marines right down to the jargon they use and the cadence of their speech. When they’re not falling in love, I like to send my Marines into realistic combat scenes that will get your heart racing.

I threw a curve into my series, The Tameness of the Wolf, by adding werewolves who serve openly alongside their human counterparts…and fall in love with them, too! The first book, Strength of the Pack, altered the landscape of the paranormal genre. The main characters, Lucas and Noah, have earned themselves a fierce and loyal following. Their commanding officer, Tim Madison, is a supporting character who generated his own fan base.

The second book in the series, Strength of the Wolf, was released a week ago and has quickly clawed its way up to the top of the bestseller lists. Tim Madison returns in this book, and he gets himself his own (civilian) werewolf to challenge him. Noah and Lucas are back, although in a supporting role. Strength of the Wolf expands the universe I introduced in the first book, giving a deeper look at werewolf biology and culture. Set in the early days of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Strength of the Wolf also takes a closer look at humans and werewolves working together in close pairings, like many of the ancient warrior cultures and brotherhoods.

1291250_424258644349183_722154818_nStrength of the Wolf, like Strength of the Pack before it, is a healthy, compelling, and very satisfying full length novel. The stories and relationships unfold before you, instead of exploding into existence and concluding before you’ve really gotten to know the characters. And since natural wolves are loyal, loving, and physically affectionate, you can bet the open-door love scenes between Lucas & Noah and Jeremy & Tim are affectionate, intimate, and just plain hot!

Reader affection for these pairings is so strong that when it came time to have swag made for the series, I couldn’t do any of the typical trinkets. Instead, I’ve had authentic dog tags made for the individual pairings. These dog tags are the same as those worn by U.S. military personal, except they’re for characters that inhabit a universe where some people shift into an animal! Lucas and Noah have a set, and are highly coveted. Just yesterday, I received the dog tags for Tim and Jeremy!

Today is my birthday, so I’m in the mood to celebrate! I’m going to give away an e-book copy of one of the Tameness of the Wolf titles. I’m also going to give away one set of dog tags, either Noah & Lucas or Jeremy & Tim.

More on that later! First, here’s a quick look at why Strength of the Wolf is climbing the bestseller lists:


Blurb:

After a fiery exit from Afghanistan, Tim Madison is promoted to major. Jeremy Wagner is a civilian, just beginning his Transition to True Alpha. As a lone wolf, he has no one to teach him the vital principles of strong leadership. After a volatile chance encounter, Tim and Jeremy form an intimate bond.

As Jeremy prepares to someday lead his own pack, Tim struggles with military werewolves being needlessly maimed in combat, as well as specifically targeted by hostile forces. Despite Tim and Jeremy’s feelings, werewolf and human politics or family conflict could prevent their mate-bond.



Excerpt:

The crowd of Marines backed away, forming a wide circle around Tim. To his left, Lucas dropped what he was carrying. Glass shattered on the wooden deck and dispelled the food it contained. To Tim’s right, Jeremy’s clawed hands wrapped around Terrell Hubbard’s throat. His lips pulled back in a ferocious snarl, revealing long, wickedly sharp fangs. Hubbard’s fingers were claws, as well. One gripped Jeremy’s bicep, the other was fisted in Jeremy’s shirt. Hubbard bared his fangs, barking and growling in Jeremy’s face.

Adrenaline surged into Tim’s bloodstream. His heart pounded, his mouth went dry. “Jeremy! Knock it the fuck off!” he shouted, reaching for the brat’s shoulders to pull him away from Hubbard. “Sergeant Hubbard! Stand down! Right the fuck now!” Tim’s skin tightened over his bones and his clothes were suddenly painful.

Tim hadn’t been this afraid in combat. Hubbard was inches taller and tens of pounds heavier than Jeremy. He was a trained Marine, battle hardened. Jeremy was outclassed and that scared the shit out of Tim.

“Submit, Terrell,” Noah shouted, voice rough and commanding. He sounded more wolf than human.
Just as Tim reached for Jeremy, strong hands grasped his wrists.

“Stay out of it,” Lucas said, trying to drag Tim away from the embattled werewolves. “You’ll only get hurt.”

“Jeremy’s no match for Hubbard,” Tim said angrily, trying to shake off Lucas.

“Yes, he is.” Lucas put himself between Tim and the shifters, giving a mighty shove. “Let Noah handle it.”

Tim stumbled, Lucas’ shove sending him off balance. He started back toward Jeremy, desperate to get him away from the larger, stronger Hubbard. Lucas blocked his path. Dawson was suddenly behind Lucas as silent reinforcement.

“Submit to him, Terrell,” Noah ordered again. He stood beside the two werewolves but didn’t touch. Tim wondered why the hell he didn’t break up the fight. “If you make him shift he’ll rip your throat out.”
In the blink of an eye, Hubbard gave up the fight and let himself be carried to the ground by Jeremy’s weight. Now on his back, Terrell let his arms go limp beside him. He tilted back his head so that both his throat and his belly were vulnerable to Jeremy’s attack.

A strange silence fell over the yard, save for Hubbard’s labored breathing as he struggled to get air past Jeremy’s grip on his throat. Jeremy crouched over Terrell’s supine form. He gripped Hubbard’s throat with only one clawed hand now. He leaned down until his open mouth hovered just above Terrell’s throat.

“My wolf has submitted, Jeremy,” Noah said calmly. He knelt next to the combatants, still not touching Jeremy. “You’re the victor. He submitted. Let him up.”

Jeremy continued to crouch over Hubbard. He snapped audibly at the vulnerable flesh of Terrell’s throat. Hubbard flinched. Tim clenched his jaw, silently begging Jeremy to accept Hubbard’s submission.

“You can’t filter this through any human or military standards,” Lucas said quietly. Tim had nearly forgotten he was there. “I know you think it’s too soon, but do you feel a connection to Jeremy?”
Tim swallowed hard, his throat tight. To his relief, Jeremy released Terrell, rising gracefully to his feet. “Yes,” Tim admitted, eyes following Jeremy as he stalked back and forth, glaring at the werewolves circled around them.

“Let him mark you, then,” said Lucas. “Right now, in front of the Pack.”

Tim realized everything had been leading him to this very moment, despite his efforts to deny and avoid it. “Yeah,” he sighed. He had feelings for the kid he knew weren’t mixed up with Jeremy’s, or tied to the full moon. Jeremy’s well-being mattered to Tim, but he was the reason Jeremy was angry and aggressive. Jeremy needed Tim to stop hiding.

“It’s got to be a visible mark,” Lucas reminded him. “He’s going to want to get his scent on you, too.”

None of that bothered Tim. Well, the visible marks made him apprehensive. He’d had such sympathy for Lucas, watching him struggle with werewolves making things public that humans usually kept private.
“The brat had better be worth all the drama,” Tim muttered darkly, decision made.

Lucas chuckled. “You wouldn’t like him if he wasn’t a challenge.”

Lucas and Dawson both stepped aside, leaving Tim free to approach to Jeremy. Or Jeremy to approach Tim. It wasn’t clear yet how this was going to go down. Terrell had rolled onto his side, but he still lay on the ground at Jeremy’s feet. The neck of his muscle shirt was darkened with blood. Jeremy’s claws had done some damage. Thankfully, it didn’t appear too severe.

Jeremy stopped pacing. Noah stood behind him, speaking quietly. Jeremy stood tall, shoulders squared, staring directly at Tim. His eyes were amber and those of a wolf. His chest heaved with each breath. At least his hands were no longer claws. Tim couldn’t tell if Jeremy still had fangs.

It didn’t matter if he did. Tim knew he was in no danger from Jeremy. Focusing all of his attention on Jeremy, Tim realized he should have done this before now. Jeremy’s need was a physical ache. His desire to mark Tim, and be marked in return had always been there. It lingered at the back of Tim’s mind like white noise, making it easy to ignore. Tim’s own regret poured through him, drowning out everything else. He hoped this effort would make up for his mistakes. Releasing a shaky breath, Tim silently acknowledged that he’d wanted this all along.

Tim saw the moment Jeremy sensed that their needs finally synced. He closed the distance between them in a few long strides. Tim clutched at Jeremy’s shirt as Jeremy wrapped his arms around Tim’s waist, pulling their bodies together roughly. Their open mouths collided and Tim felt the hard press of teeth. Jeremy did still have his fangs, their sharp tips drawing blood from Tim’s lips. A thrill ran down Tim’s spine, knowing Jeremy’s lethal strength was leashed, just for him.

Jeremy licked deep into Tim’s mouth, their tongues tangling wetly. Jeremy’s body was flame-hot, pressed to the length of Tim’s. His breath was scalding as it ghosted across Tim’s cheek.

Breaking the kiss, Jeremy buried his face in the join of Tim’s neck and shoulder. Tim shuddered. He pushed his hips against Jeremy’s, feeling Jeremy’s already hard cock. Tim tilted his head slightly, asking at the same time he gave consent.

Jeremy pried Tim’s fingers from his shirt. Tim gasped as Jeremy forced his arms to cross at the small of his back. The strength in Jeremy’s hand was surprising as he restrained Tim’s wrists. The arch in his back pushed Tim’s body hard against Jeremy’s. His own cock was completely hard now and he rubbed himself back and forth against Jeremy. Tim closed his eyes, letting his head fall back in silent pleading.

Jeremy kissed up the length of Tim’s throat, dragging the sharp tips of his teeth along the edge of Tim’s jaw. The slight sting sent a thrill down Tim’s spine and he wanted more. Jeremy nipped at Tim’s pulse where it throbbed just below his skin. Tim moaned when Jeremy soothed the spot with his tongue.
His body went rigid and Tim unleashed a decadent groan when Jeremy’s hot mouth latched onto the side of his neck. Tim’s blood rose to the surface as Jeremy sucked hard at the spot. Jeremy soothed the bruise with a swipe of his tongue. Tim relaxed into Jeremy’s hard body, moaning each time Jeremy sucked a bruise into his throat, or nipped sharply at his too-sensitive skin.

He wanted to touch. Tim struggled to free his hands from Jeremy’s grip. When Jeremy released his wrists, Tim buried his fingers in Jeremy’s hair, holding him close. Jeremy nosed at Tim’s ear, dragging his sharp teeth along the sensitive lobe. Tim shuddered again and moaned.

Lowering his head, Tim found Jeremy’s mouth. He chased Jeremy’s tongue with his own. Curling his fingers in Jeremy’s hair, Tim used it to tilt his head back. He skimmed his lips and nose over the pounding pulse in Jeremy’s throat. Tim pressed his open mouth to the same spot and drew heated blood to the surface. Jeremy panted. He cradled the back of Tim’s head, encouraging him. Tim sucked blood to the surface of Jeremy’s skin. He was deeply satisfied that Jeremy wore his mark. The werewolf pack that surrounded them would know that Jeremy was his, and only his.

Jeremy pulled back abruptly. “Okay, that’s enough,” he gasped. “Any more and we’re going to put on a much more revealing show than I’d planned.”

Tim blinked, struggling to understand Jeremy’s words. He watched Jeremy’s eyes roam over his throat, taking in the bruises Tim could feel darkening on his skin. Jeremy’s expression was satisfied, bordering on arrogant. Tim couldn’t help but chuckle. It was such an Alpha thing to do.

The world began to move around them. Dawson directed someone to clean up the shattered glass and spilled food. Noah tried to save the meat left forgotten on the grill. Mundane conversations swirled around them.

Tim and Jeremy stood alone, completely surrounded by Noah’s Pack, breathing heavily, looking only at one another.

“How long do we have to stay?” Desire was obvious in Jeremy’s still-amber eyes.
“It would be polite to eat something, then help clean up a little,” Tim replied, already calculating how he might maneuver them into an early departure.

“Stay with me tonight?” Jeremy asked.

Tim nodded emphatically. “Of course.” Everyone associated with a werewolf pack was excused from duty for the next two days for the full-moon run. He imagined the two of them had much to discuss over the course of the next twenty-four hours.

“Good,” Jeremy said. He turned toward the cluster of Marines who had begun to serve themselves food. “Now let’s go let them all know it’s time to keep their hands off of what’s mine.”

Jeremy’s possessive words should have angered Tim. Instead, it made him consider being rude and skipping out on food.

If anyone would understand, it would be Lucas and Noah.


*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*



1368869_424259297682451_2131068159_nYou can find all you need to know about both Strength of the Pack and Strength of the Wolf at my website: http://kendallmckenna.com/books/the-tameness-of-the-wolf/

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