A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Here’s a Sneak Peek at the Coming Week

Holiday Sneak Peek

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Welcome to the buffet.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s where Checkmate Ever After comes in.

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

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

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

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

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

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

You are extraordinary.


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

Blurb:

2nd Edition (Books One – Three)

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

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

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

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

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


About the Author:

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


Follow the Checkmate Ever After Tour!

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

12/3 – Tali Spencer

12/5 – Sinfully Gay Romance Book Reviews

12/5 – Erin McRae and Racheline Maltese

12/7 – Aidee Ladnier

12/9 – Genre Talk on The Novel Approach

12/12 – Gaylist Book Reviews

12/15 – Checkmate Ever After Release Day!

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

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The Fine Print:

*Entrants must be 18 years or older to qualify
*Some residency restrictions may apply
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*The Novel Approach will not be held liable for prize delivery unless otherwise specified
*Void where prohibited by law

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

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

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

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

No one can outrun destiny or the gods.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lightning seared into the inky cloud.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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4 Stars, DSP Publications, Lissa Kasey, Paranormal, Reviewed by Sammy, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Evolution: Genesis by Lissa Kasey

Amazon

Amazon

Title: Evolution: Genesis (Evolution: Book Two)

Author: Lissa Kasey

Publisher: DSP Publications

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

At a Glance: Genesis is an interesting, if somewhat tangled, read for paranormal fans.

Reviewed By: Sammy

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

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

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Review: I was thrilled to see a sequel to the riveting novel Evolution by author Lissa Kasey. With book two, Genesis, two of the most exciting characters in the paranormal genre are back, center stage, and sparks fly once more—and by sparks I mean an all consuming fire, which is exactly what Gene is currently dealing with at the story’s beginning. I cannot state more clearly than this that you must read this series in order to appreciate all the nuances and relationships that are further developed in book two. If you have not, then please stop reading this review and go read Evolution, for I will be remarking upon some of the themes and incidences from the first book to set the stage for book two.

At the opening of Genesis, Gene is still grappling with the fact that he is a human hybrid in the form of a phoenix. Those who know their mythology will remember that the phoenix never really dies but instead is reborn from flames—dying when engulfed from inner fire—and that is exactly what Gene had discovered he could do when he took down Hane—the maker of Kerestrande (KC), Gene’s vampire, again/off again lover—in the first novel. But remember vampires cannot be fully destroyed by flames—instead, they must incinerate by being exposed to sunlight, which burns them to ash never to rise again. This is exactly what KC does to Hane, and when he does so, the dark shadow—the fallen that clung to Hane—consumes KC and begins to slowly take him over.

Meanwhile, every bad guy and paranormal on the earth seems to be after Gene as a means to get to KC. Consequently, Gene undergoes several horrific deaths only to be reborn again each time. However, Gene is weakening, and coming back to human form takes longer and longer each time. Instead, he is trapped in darkness where he can clearly see what is eating at KC, and all the undead that cling to his lover as well. In the end, it will be up to Gene to save his vampire lover from certain death, as the Fallen within KC pushes its way into his soul and consumes that which is KC at his very core, taking him over completely.

Okay. That was a major oversimplification of a very intricate plot that I must admit I lost my way in at certain points in this novel. Not only were there additional characters to learn about, there were also so many creatures after Gene that it was hard at times to keep up with who was after whom, and why. Still, the bones of this story were really solid and KC and Gene, when they were together, were pure gold in terms of an “it’s complicated” relationship. Every time KC pushed Gene away, Gene’s pain and dejection was so poignant to read—really just heartbreaking. And this author was so smart in that she alternated the point of view almost chapter to chapter so we were privy as to why KC was sending Gene away. Plus, we saw just how it guts the vampire when he does so.

Alongside these two was a cast of secondary characters that were convincingly real, and each became an integral part of Gene’s life—some with deadly and evil intent. Without them, Gene would have never been able to survive all that he does at the hands of evil forces determined to use Gene as bait to draw out KC and the shadowy evil that holds him captive.

So why wasn’t this a five star read? Well, when it came down to it, this story got very involved with the mystical side of both vampires and Gene himself—this phoenix hybrid. In doing so, I honestly was often confused as to where this whole plot was moving and just exactly why Gene kept getting…well, brutally beaten and killed, only to rise again. I felt that the plot was sometimes unanchored and drifted too far into mystical realms that were not always fully realized or fleshed out in the story. That made for some real frustration when I just wanted this story to “get on with it” and come to some conclusion I could understand.

As a result of all this action without a solid plot theme to plant itself on, the ending seemed way too easy and a bit rushed. The final outcome was nice, but after all the angst and miscommunication between KC and Gene, a sweet happy-ever-after seemed just a bit contrived. Still, this is an author whom I really admire and whose writing is often involved and well executed, therefore I would encourage fans of the first in this series to see how things play out between Gene and KC. Genesis is an interesting, if somewhat tangled, read for paranormal fans.

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You can buy Evolution: Genesis here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

OmniLit/ARe

OmniLit/ARe

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4 Stars, DSP Publications, Jamie Fessenden, Literary Fiction, Reviewed by Taz

Review: By That Sin Fell the Angels by Jamie Fessenden

Amazon

Amazon

Title: By That Sin Fell the Angels

Author: Jamie Fessenden

Publisher: DSP Publications

Pages/Word Count:  191 Pages

At a Glance: This is the second book I’ve read by Jamie Fessenden, and while the topics are tough and some of the events made me squirm, I applaud this author’s courage and talent.

Reviewed By: Taz

Blurb: It begins with a 3:00 a.m. telephone call. On one end is Terry Bachelder, a closeted teacher. On the other, the suicidal teenage son of the local preacher. When Terry fails to prevent disaster, grief rips the small town of Crystal Falls apart.

At the epicenter of the tragedy, seventeen-year-old Jonah Riverside tries to make sense of it all. Finding Daniel’s body leaves him struggling to balance his sexual identity with his faith, while his church, led by the Reverend Isaac Thompson, mounts a crusade to destroy Terry, whom Isaac believes corrupted his son and caused the boy to take his own life.

Having quietly crushed on his teacher for years, Jonah is determined to clear Terry’s name. That quest leads him to Eric Jacobs, Daniel’s true secret lover, and to get involved in Eric’s plan to shake up their small-minded town. Meanwhile, Rev. Thompson struggles to make peace between his religious convictions and the revelation of his son’s homosexuality. If he can’t, he leaves the door open to eternal damnation—and for a second tragedy to follow.

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Review: I read Violated by Jamie Fessenden and was so impressed by his courage and style that I had to pick up this book as well. I wasn’t disappointed.

In By That Sin Fell the Angels, we face the tragic issue of teen suicide and homophobia in a small town. The book opens with an ominous phone call from a teen who needs someone to talk to before he kills himself. One of the main protagonists, Terry, who received the call, is helpless to do anything to prevent the horrific event.

As the story unfolds, we meet Jonah, the other main protagonist in the story. He is a high school student who is closeted and gay. We see him interacting with the one open gay student, as well as his crew of homophobic friends. Slowly, as the story develops, we see how he comes to terms with his own failings and, ultimately, acceptance of who he truly is.

Add to this a zealous preacher (the father of the child who committed suicide), a flamboyantly gay peer at Jonah’s school, a ridiculously supportive boyfriend to Terry, Jonah’s mother, who is dating a man half her age, and a general town aura of intolerance. The mixture is a recipe for nail biting intensity.

My only complaint about this book was that it went a bit over the top. I only say this from my deep familiarity with school systems and school boards. The manner in which the school board and the principal handled the events was extreme and wouldn’t happen in real life. The feelings might be there of intolerance and hatred, but the words and actions wouldn’t have unfolded the way they did. That said, it made for good drama and added to the depth of the emotions in the story.

What I loved about the book was how the author wove together a rich web of experience, shifting point of view frequently so that we could get inside the heads of a full range of characters. By doing so, we were able to truly look at this town and the topic of homosexuality, and see a highly religious small town through the eyes of an outsider with omniscient knowledge of everyone’s thoughts and feelings. Had the story only been told from one point of view (and I have no idea whose point of view Mr. Fessenden would have chosen), the story would’ve suffered for it.

As I said, this is the second book I’ve read by Jamie Fessenden, and while the topics are tough and some of the events made me squirm, I applaud this author’s courage and talent. I certainly intend to continue reading his work (starting with a backlog of his sizable completed manuscripts).

TNA_Signature_Taz

 

 

 

 

You can buy By That Sin Fell the Angels here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

OmniLit/ARe

OmniLit/ARe

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5 Stars, Audio Book, DSP Publications, Narration Rating - 5 Stars, Reviewed by Sammy, Rhys Ford, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Audio Review: Black Dog Blues by Rhys Ford – Narrated by Greg Tremblay

Audio Gem

Amazon

Amazon

Title: Black Dog Blues (The Kai Gracen Series: Book One)

Author: Rhys Ford

Narrator: Greg Tremblay

Publisher: DSP Publications

Run Time: 8 hours and 50 minutes

At a Glance: The audio version of this novel was well done and hooked me immediately, drenching me in the mood and pathos of the story.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: Ever since being part of the pot in a high-stakes poker game, elfin outcast Kai Gracen figures he used up his good karma when Dempsey, a human Stalker, won the hand and took him in.

Following the violent merge of Earth and Underhill, the human and elfin races are left with a messy, monster-ridden world, and Stalkers are the only cavalry willing to ride to someone’s rescue when something shadowy appears.

It’s a hard life but one Kai likes—filled with bounty, a few friends, and most importantly, no other elfin around to remind him of his past. And killing monsters is easy. Especially since he’s one himself.

But when a sidhe lord named Ryder arrives in San Diego, Kai is conscripted to do a job for Ryder’s fledgling Dawn Court. It’s supposed to be a simple run up the coast during dragon-mating season to retrieve a pregnant human woman seeking sanctuary. Easy, quick, and best of all, profitable. But Kai ends up in the middle of a deadly bloodline feud he has no hope of escaping.

No one ever got rich being a Stalker. But then few of them got old either and it doesn’t look like Kai will be the exception.

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Review: If you are approaching Rhys Ford’s novel Black Dog Blues looking for a traditional romance or even a sci-fi classic, think again. This is no typical anything. Instead, author Rhys Ford creates a world that has both human and fey, magic and monsters and everything in between, and places them inside a story that is so rich in character and long in plot that you are nearly breathless by novel’s end.

The main story centers on the Sidhe and Unsidhe—those who are elfin and those who are…something evil altogether. They coexist next to humans and multiple creatures of every species, from dragons to the elfin shadow dogs and many other mutant forms of different species. In this new society there are stalkers—those who go hunting our worst nightmares and deliver their hides for payment. One such stalker is the mysterious Kai Gracen, a young elfin who has been humanized to the point of virtually becoming a loner, neither cohabitating with his own kind nor humans. Kai was raised by Dempsey, a stalker who won him in a poker game. At that time, Kai was barely recognizable as any kind of boy, more animal than human or elfin. As this story evolves we come to find out about his past and are mystified as to how Kai not only managed to survive the horrors of his former life but rise above them to be the compassionate man he has become.

He is commissioned to retrieve a pregnant human from the chief city of the sidhe (the good elves, in essence). Accompanying him will be the prince of that dynasty who has come to Kai’s neck of the words to establish a “dawn court” for the disenfranchised sidhe who live in the city. This mission will challenge Kai in many ways and unlock the mystery of who he is and just what stalks his own nightmares. He will be confronted by the horrors of his past and feel himself slipping into love with a man who wields much power for good. The question remains, though, will Kai survive this mission intact, and can he really love another person—especially when he is unsure that love can ever really be his at all.

The brief and admittedly shallow synopsis above touches only the bones of this story. There is one mystery after another in this novel, and Rhys Ford unravels each one, even while intertwining them into the most intricate of plots I have ever read. However, by virtue of her excellent storytelling abilities, I was never lost in the weaving of this tale. Kai is a conundrum whose story just begins in this novel. While he is on every page, his past is slowly and carefully alluded to over and over, with the startling revelation of who and what he is being revealed finally near the end of the novel. Even then, you know there is a wealth of background information just waiting to surface, which becomes the springboard for future novels about this brave young elf.

Speaking of elves—these are not your waif-like forest creatures. No, this author not only makes her elf-kind cunning and smart but strong and determined as well. I was so impressed by the way that the supernatural creatures in this story were three-dimensional and fully fleshed out. The result was that I cared for them, was drawn into their story and captured by their troubles. The story itself was captivating, with so many twists and turns that I found myself trying to solve the many mysteries and was delightfully surprised when the answers turned out to be ones that I would have never thought of in a million years.

Greg Tremblay did a great job with Kai’s sarcasm—that weary ennui that the character wears like a mantle. The variation of voices was quite good—including Dempsey’s lilting brogue that was so reminiscent of those turn of the century New York City Irish cops. Every once in a while Mr. Tremblay would allow the brogue to bleed into the beginning of another character or the narration but overall, the delineation between voices and their cadence was spot on. The narrator’s gravelly tones really added to the gritty feel of the novel as well. Quite frankly, his pitch, speed of delivery and variation in voices enriched the overall mood of the story. Black Dog Blues is a dark tale and the narrator’s approach added to the mysterious feel to this story.

All in all, Black Dog Blues was a compelling mystery with a touch of romance and excellent supernatural shadings thrown in. The audio version of this novel was well done and hooked me immediately, drenching me in the mood and pathos of the story. I enjoyed this narrator immensely and would highly recommend this audiobook.

TNA_Signature_Sammy

 

 

 

 

You can buy Black Dog Blues here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

Audible.com

Audible.com

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

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

DSP Publications

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

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Chrysalis CorporationChrysalis Corporation

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

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

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

Chrysalis Corporation is available for preorder now from DSP Publications.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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

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5 Stars, DSP Publications, Ethan Stone, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed by Maryann

Review: Closing Ranks by Ethan Stone

Amazon

Amazon

Title: Closing Ranks (Flesh: Book Four)

Author: Ethan Stone

Publisher: DSP Publications

Pages/Word Count: 244 Pages

At a Glance: Closing Ranks is an extremely well written mystery/romance story.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: Internal Affairs investigator Jeremy Ranklin is looking into corruption within the Reno Police Department when he’s ordered to examine the suspicious death of the Chief of Police. The assignment partners Jeremy with Detective Cristian Flesh. Though they spar at first, Jeremy earns Cristian’s trust, and they work well together.

Deeply closeted, Jeremy fights an attraction to fellow cop Kipp Mosely. The investigation brings Jeremy and Kipp together, but lies and secrets prevent things from going any further. Jeremy will need both Kipp’s and Cristian’s help to discover how deep the corruption runs—and to stay alive when the danger hits close to home.

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Review: Suspense, danger, murder and so many suspects, Closing Ranks is another wild ride from Ethan Stone, fast paced and full of so much information that it keeps you turning the pages from beginning to end. Yes, Cristian Flesh is back and has teamed up with Jeremy Ranklin, of Internal Affairs, to investigate the suspicious suicide of a mentor, as well as corruption inside the Reno police force.

Besides the twists and turns of the suicide and corruption, we also get to know Jeremy. He has to deal with personal issues, with being gay and closeted, with a young man who has a crush on him, an ex’s return, and an uncontrollable attraction to Officer Kipp Moseley. I really felt bad for him. He carries guilt about being gay and over what would happen if he came out to his parents and sister-in-law. He believes it would kill his father if his secret were to be found out.  He also has a six-year-old nephew he loves dearly, and is afraid of never seeing him again.

Jeremy is trying hard to keep his mind on the case, but no matter what, he keeps coming in contact with Officer Moseley. Kipp is out and doesn’t hide his sexuality. He’s not sure if he’s willing to get involved with Jeremy because he’s not about to be anyone’s “dirty little secret”. There is no insta-love between Jeremy and Kipp. In fact, they have to work at it because neither one wants to have to change who they are. But when danger arises, Kipp has Jeremy’s back.

Flesh play’s a big part in this story, and he’s all business and snarky, as usual. Colby only has a brief part, and Reg, Flesh’s partner, is also back. There are also two newbies, Leif and Rafe…hmmm, very interesting!

I have to say, Closing Ranks is an extremely well written mystery/romance story. It’s hard to choose which book in the Flesh series I liked best, but this one is a favorite.

TNA_Signature_Maryann

 

 

 

You can buy Closing Ranks here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

OmniLit/ARe

OmniLit/ARe

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DSPP's Genre Talk, Lissa Kasey

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

DSP Publications

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

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Evolution: GenesisEvolution: Genesis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What am I supposed to do with this?”

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

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

Everyone stared at me.

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

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

Bombs?

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

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

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

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

“Do you have any weapons on you?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Vampire.”

The word froze me in my tracks.

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

“Shh.” Lee hushed me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Stop!” I screamed at the creature.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Where are you?”

“Old Town. What’s left of it.”

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

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

“Shit. Are you alone?”

“No. Norms everywhere.”

“Can you shift?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What if PG finds me first?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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

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Ethan Stone, Giveaways

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Closing Ranks Blog Tour with Ethan Stone

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We’re so pleased to welcome author Ethan Stone to The Novel Approach today, on the tour for the new novel in the Flesh series, Closing Ranks.

Giveaway Details: Ethan will be giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card to one lucky commenter on the tour. Be sure to leave a thoughtful comment on each stop on the tour for additional chances to win. The tour organizer will select a winner from entries received as of close of business 1 November 2015.

Good luck!

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My Ten favorite LGBTQ Films

1-Shelter: A tale of a young man fighting with his sexuality while also dealing with a great deal of responsibility. The chemistry between Trevor Wright as Zach and Brad Rowe as Shaun is simply incredible. A sweet story with a satisfying ending.

2-Latter Days: A classic tale of opposites attract, but the acting and plot takes it beyond the trope. Here it’s a Mormon out on his first mission, and a gay guy who sleeps around. The connection between Steve Sandvoss and Wes Ramsey blows me out of the water each and every time I’ve seen it. It’s also one of the few movies that brings me to tears every single time.

3-Boy Culture: The acting here is spotty, but the writing is solid. A hustler known only as X who is convinced he should keep his emotions hidden learns a lesson thanks to one of his customers, an elderly man. I especially liked Darryl Stephens as X’s friend and roommate.

4-Bear City: As a huge fan of bears, I loved seeing a movie where men of all sizes are represented. Here a young man gets shit from his friends for being attracted to bears. He follows his heart anyway and falls for an older, sexy man with plenty of body hair. Here I liked the subplot of an overweight man considering a dangerous surgery because he thinks it’s what his boyfriend wants.

5-Were the World Mine: A sad young gay man from an all-boys school used a magical flower to turn people in his school and the community gay. There’s lots of music and songs in this one and it’s got a sweet ending.

6-Mulligans: This one may not have a happy ending, but it felt realistic every step of the way. Starring Charlie David as Chase, a college man falls for his best friend’s married father. Solid performances from every cast member.

7-Eating Out series: The movies in this series are rather silly and totally unrealistic, but still total fun. The first is the best, but they can call be enjoyed provided you don’t expect Oscar-worthy acting or writing. My least favorite part of the series is Rebekah Kocah as Tiffani who’s shrill voice and over-the-top performances are completely cringeworthy.

8-All Over the Guy: The best example of how to do a gay romantic comedy. The acting here is top notch, and the plot is simple and realistic. The supporting characters are just the right amount of funny and annoying.

9-Birthday Cake: I just recently watched this one and was pleasantly surprised. The story is about a gay couple in LA throwing a birthday party for their daughter. They, of course, want it to be perfect and, of course, it’s anything but. Lots of things go wrong, including a clown having a heart attack and an appearance by a serial killer. It’s goofy fun with some true heart thrown in there as well. The mothers of both men play a part, and I dare you not to cry during the kitchen scene between estranged mother and son.

10-Bent: As you can tell by my list I prefer romance and comedies, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention this one. A historically accurate tale of a gay man in a Nazi concentration camp. Clive Owen pulls off a deeply moving performance here as Max, a man who denies being gay while in captivity. He falls in love with Horst played by Lothaire Bluteau. There is an especially moving scene where the men stand together and whisper so their guards can’t hear. Believe it or not, the scene is both romantic and sexy, as much as it can be.

Honorable Mention: The movie Gerontophilia deals with a tough subject but is beautifully acted. I urge you to give it a chance.

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ClosingRanksCover200x300Blurb: Internal Affairs investigator Jeremy Ranklin is looking into corruption within the Reno Police Department when he’s ordered to examine the suspicious death of the Chief of Police. The assignment partners Jeremy with Detective Cristian Flesh. Though they spar at first, Jeremy earns Cristian’s trust, and they work well together.

Deeply closeted, Jeremy fights an attraction to fellow cop Kipp Mosely. The investigation brings Jeremy and Kipp together, but lies and secrets prevent things from going any further. Jeremy will need both Kipp’s and Cristian’s help to discover how deep the corruption runs—and to stay alive when the danger hits close to home.

Buy Links: DSP Publications || Amazon || OmniLit

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Ethan Stone 200x200Author Bio: Ethan Stone is an out and proud gay man. Which is fairly new in his life, the out part, not the gay part. He’s been queer his whole life, though he tried to deny it for years with a wonderful woman. The years in denial weren’t all bad, he has two amazing kids out of it. His son is a teenager and his daughter has made him a grandfather, three times over. A way too young grandfather.

Ethan has returned to Oregon after almost a decade in Nevada. He no longer has a day job and is doing his best to make a living at this writing thing. If he can’t make a living, he at least wants to support his Mt. Dew and beef jerky addictions.

Readers can find Ethan online: Facebook || Twitter: @ethanjstone || Google + || Ello: @ethanstone92 || Website || Email

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Tour Schedule: 

20 Oct – Prism Book Alliance
21 Oct – Love Bytes
22 Oct – Joyfully Jay
23 Oct – Novel Approach
24 Oct – Sinfully
25 Oct – GGR
26 Oct – Boys in Our Books
27 Oct – MM Good book Reviews
28 Oct – JP Barnaby
29 Oct – Ethan Stone
30 Oct – Hearts on Fire Reviews
31 Oct – Rainbow Gold Reviews

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The Fine Print:

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

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

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

DSP Publications

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

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ROMANCE—12th Century Style
J Tullos Hennig

So.

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

Yes, I said. Why not?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kids those days!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pax~ JTH

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Here’s a Sneak Peek at the Coming Week

Sneak Peek

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

Here’s what awaits!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Andrew Q. Gordon, DSPP's Genre Talk, Giveaways

DSP Publications Presents: Genre Talk and a Giveaway with Carole Cummings and Andrew Q. Gordon

DSP Publications

Hello, all you lovely genre readers! As we do sometimes here at Genre Talk, today is a turn-the-tables day. Andrew Q. Gordon has been talking to a lot of fabulous authors and has brought you a ton of brilliant things, a very generous giveaway among them, so I’m handing the reins over to him today. Please be sure to look for the Rafflecopter widget and rules later in the post, but for now, please welcome DSP Publications spec fic author Andrew Q. Gordon!

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With Purpose, my paranormal novel coming out on October 6, 2015, I thought it would be a good time to talk about just does paranormal mean. Ask, ‘what is paranormal’ and you’re going to get different answers. How do I know? Because I asked a bunch of other authors to tell me what it means to them. I also asked them to name their favorite paranormal book (one of their own and one from someone else.) I think you’ll find the answers interesting.

Since this is my post, it is best if I lead the way.

I like my paranormal without shifters and vampires. Those things are part of the paranormal universe, but they’re not what I think of when the question comes to mind. I prefer my paranormal, Supernatural like, with things that are not quite right. Think Highlander, or Charmed or Heroes. I think of Superheroes in a world where no one really knows they exist. Clearly my world view isn’t everyone’s.

I like paranormal to have a whiff of something different, but not enough to require a new universe, ala Harry Potter. Take this world, add a dash of something different, shake it around, and viola! You have type of book/show/movie/story.

Little wonder that Purpose is exactly that. My ‘world’ is our world. It draws on my observations and experiences living and working in Washington, DC. Tossed in the mix is the Spirit of Vengeance. A creature of energy that takes over humans to act as its host and requires them to exact vengeance on the guilty. There is but the one and the world as a whole is largely ignorant of its existence.

To answer the questions I asked everyone else: name two paranormal books, one of mine, one of someone else.

From me it would be Purpose. You can learn more about that below.

invisible-f-220x330From someone else, that’s really a harder question. There have been so many I’ve really enjoyed over time, but one that I’d recommend is (In)visible, by Anyta Sunday. When you read this you get a glimpse into the amazingly creative mind of one of my favorite authors. Rune is invisible to world. No one can see him unless he wants them to, except Scott. Being visible, however, has an adverse affect on people, so Rune doesn’t let people see him often. But somehow, Scott isn’t affected. He can see Rune and he doesn’t get sick.

I highly recommend the book. It’s a wonderful read and Anyta does such a great job with not only the characters, but the paranormal element.

Larry Benjamin:

What attracts me to paranormal is the stories are set in the real world, the world as we know it…with a little extra thrown in. I love the idea of the extraordinary thrown in alongside the mundane, the ordinary. And that gives us, the reader, a choice: Believe, or don’t believe, the choice is yours. My parents are West Indian so we grew up hearing stories about curses and powerful Obeah women with spirits trapped in bottles. I was born with a “caul,” and so could see ghosts, only at the time I had no idea why I was seeing people no one else could. Decades ago after returning to a trip to St Croix, I mentioned my friend and I thought we’d seen a werewolf in a field of sugar cane. My parents at once pronounced his name and said, “I can’t believe he’s still alive.”

Believe, or don’t believe, the choice is yours.

vampirerising-fVampire Rising, is an example of my own paranormal fiction. It is very much grounded in the world, albeit a world that is at once futuristic and retrospective. It is an allegorical novella very much focused on the plight of Vampires as they move among humans. That they are an allegory plays into the idea of believing and not believing, that is: are they really Vampires as we think of Vampires, meaning Vampires really exist, or are they something else, simply different, other?

Buy It: AMAZON

513+ThK+6rL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_One of my favorite paranormal books is Red Caps by Steve Berman. He an extraordinary writer, and the stories in Red Caps, allow you find romance, solve a mystery, jump into an unworldly place that is at once familiar and ordinary and remarkably different , all while teasingly telling you: Believe, or don’t believe, the choice is yours.

Another favorite paranormal book—and I have been saying this for years—is Andrew Q. Gordon’s Purpose, for all the reasons stated above. I am so happy it is being re-released giving many others a chance to discover a story that is both real and unreal, ordinary and extraordinary.

Believe, or don’t believe, the choice is yours.

Shira Anthony:

SmBloodandGhostsFSI particularly love paranormal stories that incorporate high fantasy or sci fi elements. I also love paranormal stories where the main character is thrown into a new universe/reality and we learn about the new world along with him/her. But most of all I love paranormal stories that are strongly character driven, with characters I can relate to.

One of my own paranormal books:

Blood and Rain (Blood #1) – love between a vampire and a vampire hunter with a high fantasy bent (magic, time-travel)

Buy It: AMAZON || All Romance eBooks || Dreamspinner Press

23755911One of my favorite Paranormal books would be:

Broken Ink, by Jack Pyle

Fascinating and original concept. Special ink in tattoos give the ability to control minds or be controlled by others’ thoughts. Romantic elements and a HEA, but far from a typical romance.

 

Scott Coatsworth:

51puIJJRPVL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_I really like books with a paranormal or magical twist. Something that makes me think, even days later, about the story I just read.

My own story that’s closest to this is Between the Lines, where a Chief of Staff to a Republican Senator finds a medallion that lets him see what people are really saying behind their words.

Buy it: AMAZON

 

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One book I really liked in this vein was Stephen del Mar’s The Demise of Bobby and Clyde, a great little gay ghost story set in Stephen’s Bennet Bay world. Sexy and twisty-turny.

Buy it: AMAZON

 

Rick R. Reed:

What type of paranormal stories I like:

Although the genre is paranormal, I like stories that are grounded in reality. Take the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris. She gives us a world populated by witches, vampires, shapeshifters, mindreaders, and more, yet they are grounded in common folk who wait tables, short order cook, and so on…you know, like real people. The grounding in reality makes the paranormal, to me, that much more compelling.

One of my paranormal books:

med_BlueMoonCafeThe Blue Moon Cafe, which I like to think is the first werewolf story that contains a homophobic werewolf killer. Here’s the blurb:

Someone–or something–is killing Seattle’s gay men.
A creature moves through the darkest night, lit only by the full moon, taking them, one by one, from the rain city’s gay gathering areas.

Someone–or something–is falling in love with Thad Matthews.

Against a backdrop of horror and fear, young Thad finds his first true love in the most unlikely of places: a new Italian restaurant called The Blue Moon Cafe. Sam is everything Thad has ever dreamed of in a man: compassionate, giving, handsome, and with brown eyes Thad feels he could sink into. And Sam can cook! But as the pair’s love begins to grow, so do the questions and uncertainties, the main one being, why do Sam’s unexplained disappearances always coincide with the full moon?

Buy it: AMAZON

51ANGe2+wML._SX338_BO1,204,203,200_And a paranormal book that’s not mine:

I already mentioned Charlaine Harris (wonderful!) but for this, I’ll stick with m/m paranormal and would give a shout-out to John Inman’s SPIRIT, which combines the paranormal with humor in an awesome way.

Buy it: AMAZON

Amy Lane:

For me, writing paranormal or fantasy stories gives human beings a great chance to explore what it means to be human. We can’t read about shape changers or elves or fantastic magical lands unless the characters resonate with us–and that means we need to look at the essence of what makes people people— whether they’re vampires, aliens, or tentacle monsters. So I love romance in my fantasy– I think it’s essential. I don’t mind sex (duh!) because it’s a human or alien/human or werewolf/human or elf/human thing, and the communication and family that is built into mating and sex is important when defining a community– large or small. I need there to be individuals in my fantasy world, and personalities in my tropes, and I need to feel that if I fell through a hole in the sky and encountered the blue-skinned, pointy-eared, warrior prince/princess of whatever tribe I’m meeting, the two of us could be friends–or enemies, or lovers–but on a personal, visceral level and not just because the prince/princess is well endowed or worships flowers or built like a brick shithouse.

Immortal-AmyLaneFS

My most reason fantasy story is called Immortal, and it’s a dark, dark fairy tale. I’ve always felt that creating another world is an opportunity to explore the more painful things in this world, and I did that in this book, possibly more than any other. My hero isn’t always nice, and he’s not always admirable, but he does redeem himself in the end.

Buy It: AMAZON

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I’m going back to one of my first inspirations here– Robin McKinley’s Beauty. This was a first person fairy tale retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and when I wrote my own version (Truth in the Dark) I wanted more than anything for that story to touch people’s hearts the way this story touched mine.

Buy It: AMAZON

 

Jordan Hawk:

51qYg+LGuML._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_My favorite type of paranormal stories are the ones were the paranormal element–magic, ghosts, whatever–feels integrated into the world around it. Good world building makes or breaks a paranormal for me.

When I was writing SPECTR, I spent a lot of time trying to figure what a world where people could summon demons would look like–and the reasons people would have to do it anyway, even when they ought to know better. ;) The first book, Hunter of Demons, is currently free on Amazon and elsewhere.

Get It Free: AMAZON

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An author who does this sort of paranormal world building fantastically well is Jordan Castillo Price: her Psycop books, starting with Among the Living, blew me away.

Buy It: AMAZON

 

Cheryl Headford:

The pull of the paranormal for me is that there are no boundaries. Things that define and confine humanity no longer apply. I like paranormal stories that take the norm, even mythical norm, and twist it. I have a soft spot for vampires: always have and always will. There’s something about darkly brooding that appeals, and the whole licking and biting of necks is so sexy

HostageFor one of my own, I will stretch the definition a little, I think, and recommend my new YA Hostage. There is nothing in the book to confirm or deny that Astrin and Rowan are human at all. However, assuming they are, they have abilities that set them apart and. I believe. qualify them as being paranormal.

In the world of Hostage, there are four Houses, each associated with one of the cardinal points and its magical associations. For example, Astrin Raphael comes from the West and his house is therefore associated with ‘watery’ things. He is able to manipulate water, and has some influence over the emotions of others. House Gabriel is in the North, and its prince, Rowan Gabriel, manipulates earth.

As well as their ‘gifts’ Astrin and Rowan are able to speak to each other within their own minds, which comes in very handy after they get caught up in a revolution. Of course, by that time they’re well into their quest to locate and rescue their guardians, and are deep into enemy territory.

Buy It: AMAZON || HARMONY INK

dark_love_live_oak_cover-2 One of the best series of books I have ever read is The Live Oak Tales by Stephen Del Mar. There are all sorts – shifters, witches, gypsies, fairies and kind of a vampire. I LOVED the whole series. It’s an absolute must for all paranormal lovers. It’s extremely well written, rich in lore and fantasy and with cracking stories. They are light on the sex and heavy on the story, but what sex there is, is mindblowing. Did I mention I love them?

Buy It: LMW BOOKS

Charlie Cochet:

Hell&HighWaterHiRes300 I love all types of Paranormal stories, though I admit I’m not took crazy about horror. I love a good paranormal romance, and I’m not fussy about which creatures are involved as long as the characters draw me in.

Hell & High Water is the first book in my THIRDS series which is a paranormal series with a twist on shapeshifters.

Buy It: AMAZON

512DaW2LeFL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_
There are so many amazing paranormal books out there. One of my favorite series (and I have many), is the Whyborne & Griffin series by Jordan L. Hawk, book 1 being Widdershins. Such fun books.

Buy It: AMAZON

 

Lexi Ander:

I enjoy paranormal stories that are out of the ordinary, that takes a trope and completely flips it into something fresh and exciting.

PrintOne from me would be: Dragon’s Eye which is about three of Sumeria’s sons struggling against the odds to keep their people from being irradiated by a vengeful goddess. This is the fifth book in the series that deals with the transformation of Tristan, Ushna, and Brian, and how they finally bind themselves together after spending so many lifetimes apart. There is only more more book left in the series.

Buy It: LESS THAN THREE PRESS

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Sword of the King by Megan Derr. One of my favorites where everyday humans “who bear dragon potential are stolen away and turned into beasts, their former lives lost forever. They are drugged to compliance and trained to fight in the notorious D Pits for the profit of the crime lords who breed them.” Loved the concept and the lore behind the origin of the dragons. This is part of a series (one of my favorites) but can be read as a standalone.

Buy It: AMAZON

M.A. Church:

Oh goodness, there are several types of paranormal stories I enjoy, but I’d have to say my favorite involves shifters. I’ll read just about anything with a shifter in it, lol. And while I love werewolves, my favorite types are werecats. But then, I’m a cat person so that comes as no surprise!

Out of all the paranormal books I’ve written, Trouble Comes in Threes is my favorite. The shifters, of course, are werecats.

Buy It: AMAZON

Bailey Bradford is one of my all-time favorite paranormal writers. Her world building and characters keep me turning the pages every time!

Cliff – Leopard’s Spots series (Book #12) is my absolute favorite of hers.

Buy it: PRIDE PUBLISHING

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PurposeFSPublisher: DSP Publications

Cover Artist: Angsty G

Release Date: October 6, 2015

Blurb:Forty years ago the Spirit of Vengeance—a Purpose—took William Morgan as its host, demanding he avenge the innocent by killing the guilty. Since then, Will has retreated behind Gar, a façade he uses to avoid dealing with what he’s become. Cold, impassive, and devoid of emotion, Gar goes about his life alone—until his tidy, orderly world is upended when he meets Ryan, a broken young man cast out by his family. Spurred to action for reasons he can’t understand, Gar saves Ryan from death and finds himself confronted by his humanity.

Spending time with Ryan helps Will claw out from under Gar’s shadow. He recognizes Ryan is the key to his reclaiming his humanity and facing his past. As Will struggles to control the Purpose, Ryan challenges him to rethink everything he knew about himself and the spirit that possesses him. In the process, he pushes Will to do something he hasn’t done in decades: care.

Preorder Links:

DSP PUBLICATIONS || OMNILIT

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Watch the Trailer:

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About the Author:

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Enjoy The Journey!

Andrew Q. Gordon wrote his first story back when yellow legal pads, ball point pens were common and a Smith Corona correctable typewriter was considered high tech. Adapting with technology, he now takes his MacBook somewhere quiet when he wants to write.

He currently lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his partner of twenty years, their young daughter and dog. In addition to dodging some very self-important D.C. ‘insiders’, Andrew uses his commute to catch up on his reading. When not working or writing, he enjoys soccer, high fantasy, baseball and seeing how much coffee he can drink in a day.

Follow Andrew:

On his website: andrewqgordon.com

On Facebook: facebook.com/andrewqugordon

On Twitter: @andrewqgordon,

Or just email him: andrewqgordon@gmail.com

Books:

From Wayward Ink Publishing:

A Closed Door

From DSP Publications:

The Last Grand Master: (Champion of the Gods – Book 1)

The Eye and the Arm: (Champion of the Gods – Book 2)

Purpose:

From Dreamspinner Press:

(Un)Masked

Self published:

Ashes of Life

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The Giveaway:

Enter to win a DSP Publications E-Book of your choice

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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Carole Cummings, Giveaways

Guest Post and Backlist Giveaway With Carole Cummings

Author's Spotlight

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

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

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

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

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A Rafflecopter Giveaway

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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DSPP's Genre Talk, Luchia Dertien

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

DSP Publications

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Renaire is unimpressed. “That’s it?”

Delaurier frowns. “What do you mean?”

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

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

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

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

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

“There was a threat. I removed it.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can follow Luchia via Twitter

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

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5 Stars, DSP Publications, Horror, Reviewed by Lisa, Rick R. Reed

Retro Review: A Demon Inside by Rick R. Reed

TNA Page Turner Resized

Title: A Demon Inside

Author: Rick R. Reed

Publisher: DSP Publications

Pages/Word Count: 260 Pages

At a Glance: An intense, macabre, edge-of-your-seat, don’t-read-it-in-the-dark thrill ride.

Reviewed By: Lisa

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

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

First Edition published by ManLove Romance Press, 2010.

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Back in July of 2010, when I was still a fairly wet-behind-the-ears newbie to blog reviewing, I grabbed a book from an author whose Tales from the Sexual Underground I’d just read two weeks before. This book, as you can probably glean from the titles, was a vastly different reading experience.

When Mr. Reed contacted me to let me know he’d pulled a quote from my review to use as a blurb on the front of the new cover for A Demon Inside’s re-release, I was both shocked and humbled, and I’m also grateful that he saw something worthy in what I look back on now and can see just how much my reviewing style has changed (and improved, I hope) over the course of the last five years.

So, in honor of this 2nd Edition of one of my earlier reviewing experiences for a book that invokes the spirit of some of Stephen King’s finest tales, here’s a rerun of my review:

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Review: Rick R. Reed’s A Demon Inside is an intense, macabre, edge-of-your-seat, don’t-read-it-in-the-dark thrill ride. From the prologue to its final chapter, I couldn’t turn the pages quickly enough to see what would happen next.

The story opens in a dark winter forest in 1845, where the reader witnesses a lone gypsy woman consigning her baby boy to his eternal sleep. The scene is dense with tension, mystery and a sense of foreboding that sets the mood up beautifully for the entire book, as the reader experiences the results of this gypsy’s invocation over her son’s grave.

Hunter Beaumont is an orphan. At the age of five, when a child isn’t nearly old enough to understand the concept of life, let alone death, Hunter witnesses his parents’ murder but has experienced a form of post traumatic memory loss that has helped him escape the worst of the trauma. Hunter’s family legacy holds a dark secret that has cursed his ancestors for generations, and Hunter learns the true meaning of being orphaned when his beloved grandmother succumbs to cancer, leaving him entirely alone in the world. On her deathbed, his Nana exacts a promise from Hunter—to destroy his family’s ancestral home, Beaumont House, a place he’d never known existed until that moment.

The Beaumont family legacy has also left Hunter a wealthy young man, but his sheltered upbringing leaves him a man susceptible to the human predators who would prey on his innocence. Dr. Jay Blackstock, the doctor who saw Nana through her waning days, is just such a predator, a scavenger who feeds on Hunter’s naiveté. Jay manipulates and insinuates himself into Hunter’s life so entirely that his ultimate betrayal of Hunter’s trust leaves the young man broken and wary.

After having made a trip to Beaumont House with the family lawyer, during which time Rick R. Reed serves us a mere morsel of what’s to come, Hunter decides to go against his Nana’s dying wish to destroy the house and instead, aspires to make it his refuge, a sanctuary from the social order that is determined to make him its victim. It doesn’t take long for the reader to understand that Beaumont House holds strange and terrible secrets, and it didn’t take long for me to realize that I’d been drawn into this story, feeling as though, like Hunter, I’d become ensnared in a residual web of nightmares reaching out from the past to grab hold of my reality. Just as society had deemed to victimize him, so does Hunter’s home seem determined to exact a deadly price.

Michael Burt is introduced to the story as the caretaker for a neighboring property, living in a cottage at the edge of Hunter’s estate. Michael is a ruggedly handsome and affable man who, living with the loneliness of the remote location of these estates, looks to befriend Hunter, but Hunter, who has determined that he can’t afford to trust anyone, makes it clear to Michael that friendship is not on his agenda. Michael, as fate would have it, is also penning a novel based on the local folklore surrounding a mysterious gypsy woman – some called her a witch – who lived in the area near the mid-1800s. As more and more unexplained phenomena occur in Beaumont House, legend becomes portent, and Hunter has to choose whether to stand firm, or cut and run.

There were times during the reading of this novel that I didn’t know whether to cheer Hunter for a hero, or curse him for a fool. Perhaps there’s a fine line between the two, and the side of the line the protagonist falls on depends on whether he succeeds or fails at his quest. The one thing I do know for certain is that Hunter had me holding my breath and devouring pages in a frenzy to decide whether he would be hero or fool at the end. My final determination is that Hunter was a foolish hero – how’s that for not choosing sides? One important lesson Hunter does learn is that detachment and independence aren’t synonymous, and sometimes it takes great strength to learn to depend on others.

A Demon Inside is an enthralling read that kept my nerves stretched taut as a tightrope, leaving me spellbound from beginning to end.

TNA_Signature_Lisa

 

 

 

You can buy A Demon Inside here:

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

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

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

DSP Publications

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

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a demon insideA Demon Inside

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carole: Tell us about A Demon Inside

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And slams into a mirror.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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5 Stars, DSP Publications, Ethan Stone, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed by Maryann

Review: Blood & Tears by Ethan Stone

Title: Blood & Tears (Flesh: Book Three)

Author: Ethan Stone

Publisher: DSP Publications

Pages/Word Count: 244 Pages

At a Glance: Ethan Stone gives us an in-depth and well deserved story about Gabriel Vargas and FBI Agent Andrew Bradley in Blood & Tears.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: The last thing Gabe Vargas wants to do after nearly dying is to leave his young son. But that’s exactly what FBI Agent Drew Bradley is asking him to do. According to Drew, the only way to protect Gabe and find his wife’s killer is to fake Gabe’s death.

With an already established adversarial relationship, protecting a hothead like Gabe isn’t exactly a picnic for Drew either. But Drew lets his guard down and a desire for Gabe leaves him confused. Before the crime can be solved, Drew will have to risk more than his life. He’ll also have to risk his heart.

1st Edition published by Dreamspinner Press, July 2011.

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Review: Ethan Stone gives us an in-depth and well deserved story about Gabriel Vargas and FBI Agent Andrew Bradley in Blood & Tears. The murder mystery itself was tension filled, fast paced, suspenseful, and the investigation was skillfully written. I liked that it wasn’t obvious who the murderer was. Please keep in mind this is not a Cristian and Colby story, but for those of you who have withdrawal, Cristian and Colby do make some cameos throughout.

After Gabe almost dying, and several tragedies that take place in his life, he’s still not safe and is under the protection of the FBI, with none other than Drew. Drew and Gabe have a really rocky start, and we find them both going through various emotions about each other. Gabe is still struggling with the murder of both Violet and Casey, and leaving Victor behind. Drew still carries guilt from Casey’s death. As time passes we start to see changes in both Drew and Gabe.

Drew becomes very uncomfortable because he really hasn’t figured out the change in him and his feelings about Gabe. Even though I see Drew being the stability that Gabe needs in his life, he has his own issues to face. He’s not sure if he’s gay, but he knows he wants Gabe. It was interesting to watch Gabe push Drew’s buttons during the kinky scrabble game.

For me, this was a great story for Gabe and Drew, so many twists and turns in the plot to go along with the twisted suspect. You could actually feel the fear that Drew has for Gabe and Victor when they are in the hands of the suspect. It kept me on the edge, not knowing if Gabe would realize what was happening to him.

I liked that Mr. Stone gave Gabe his own story because we got to see him grow throughout the Flesh series, and become a great father and committed lover to Drew. It was a special treat to see how Drew, Gabe and Victor interacted with each other. I really liked how little Victor was a wonderful fit to this story. So loving, smart and really alert to things going on around him.

TNA_Signature_Maryann

 

 

 

You can buy Blood & Tears here:

OmniLit/ARe

OmniLit/ARe

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DSP Publications, Ethan Stone

Interview and Giveaway: The Blood & Tears Blog Tour with Ethan Stone

Even if you've read it before, you should read it again...
Even if you’ve read it before, you should read it again…

TNA: Hi, Ethan, welcome. It’s great to have you here with us today.

Since you’re here to chat a bit about the re-release of Blood & Tears, let’s start out with the series in general. What made you want to move it from Dreamspinner to DSP Publications? Or, in other words, what makes the series a better fit under that press?

Ethan: While all the books in the Flesh series have romance in them, I believe the mystery elements are somewhat stronger. The books under the DSP Publications umbrella are ones where romance isn’t the primary focus. I thought the dark tone of Flesh fit with the new imprint.

TNA: Did you revisit the books before they went in to publication at DSPP, do any revisions to them? How do you feel your writing style has changed, if at all, since you first published In the Flesh five years ago?

Ethan: All three books were re-edited. In the Flesh and Flesh & Blood, the first two in the series, had only minor changes. However, this book, Blood & Tears, was totally re-written from third person into first person. I consider it a brand new book, which is why I’m saying that even if you read the first version, you should read this edition. It’s a thousand times better, in my opinion.

My writing style has changed a great deal. I realized that when I started re-edits on In the Flesh. I tried not to change too much because it was my first published novel, and it has a unique voice. My voice is different now, and I wanted to keep my original voice intact.

TNA: If someone were considering reading the series but wanted to know a bit more about Cristian Flesh first, what are a few things you’d want that reader to know about him from your point of view?

Ethan: Cristian can be an asshole, a total douchebag, but he has a big heart. He’s afraid of getting hurt, especially when we first meet him in In the Flesh, so he uses a rough exterior to keep people away. A few people manage to see beyond his attitude and find the real man beneath. He’s a good cop, an excellent one, even if he is a bit unorthodox. If he doesn’t like you he will tell you, but if he likes you he will do whatever it takes to protect you.

TNA: Would you say there are any parts of you in Cristian? If so, how would you say he’s most like you?

Ethan: The Cristian we see in In the Flesh was very much like me at the time I wrote the book. I wasn’t very happy and had a dim view of the future. I was in an unhappy relationship, and many of the rules Cristian lives by were ones we had regarding our open relationship. As I’ve written more books in the series, where Cristian is a supporting character, I’ve written him as mellower and happier, which is how I am as well.

TNA: Was it difficult to switch gears in Blood & Tears, leaving Cristian and Colby in the background to focus on Gabe and Drew? How do Gabe and Drew’s “voices” differ from Cristian and Colby’s—are they grittier, or less so? More or less romantic?

Ethan: It was difficult at first, but once I got into it, I enjoyed it a lot. I’ve loved Gabe since I first wrote him in In the Flesh. He was originally meant to be a disposable character—and a bad guy—but he took over and I’d been looking forward to writing his book for a while. Both Gabe and Drew are less gritty than Cristian. Drew is a bit of a stuffed shirt in the beginning, and I had him relax and chill out as the book progressed. Gabe was rather damaged—mentally and physically—in the beginning of Blood & Tears, but he still had hope beneath the anger. The romance and sex between Gabe and Drew is different than with Cristian and Colby because Drew is a newbie to it all, so it’s not as rough but just as enjoyable.

TNA: Do you have any more books planned for this series, or was this always meant to be a trilogy?

Ethan: Excellent question! I’d planned on it just being a trilogy, but as I worked on the re-releases, I realized I wasn’t quite done with these characters. A fourth book—Closing Ranks—is due out in October. It introduces new characters, but has Cristian and the cops at Reno Police Department as supporting characters. Jeremy Ranklin, the main character, works alongside Cristian on a case and gets to know both Cristian and Colby. It also shakes things up in the police department, which opens up possibilities for new stories. I’m also working on a fifth book which will feature characters introduced in Closing Ranks.

TNA: What’s coming up next for you? Any new releases on the horizon you’d like to share some news about with us?

Ethan: In addition to Closing Ranks from DSP Publications in October, I have a release around the beginning of the year with Pride Publications. Hiding in Plain Sight is a sequel to Vegas Hustle. I’ve also written a couple of short stories for various anthologies.

TNA: Where can readers follow you on the internet?

Ethan: I’m a Facebook addict so you can usually find me there. I’m also on Twitter-@ethanjstone.

A huge thanks to The Novel Approach for having me and to the readers who support me. As a reward to the readers, I will give out an ebook copy of Blood and Tears to one lucky commenter.

THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED

Good luck!

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blood-tearsBlurb: 2nd Edition

The last thing Gabe Vargas wants to do after nearly dying is to leave his young son. But that’s exactly what FBI Agent Drew Bradley is asking him to do. According to Drew, the only way to protect Gabe and find his wife’s killer is to fake Gabe’s death.

With an already established adversarial relationship, protecting a hothead like Gabe isn’t exactly a picnic for Drew either. But Drew lets his guard down and a desire for Gabe leaves him confused. Before the crime can be solved, Drew will have to risk more than his life. He’ll also have to risk his heart.

1st Edition published by Dreamspinner Press, July 2011.

Buy Link: DSP Publications

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Ethan Stone 200x200About Ethan: Ethan Stone is an out and proud gay man. Which is fairly new in his life, the out part, not the gay part. He’s been queer his whole life, though he tried to deny it for years with a wonderful woman. The years in denial weren’t all bad, he has two amazing kids out of it. His son is a teenager and his daughter has made him a grandfather, three times over. A way too young grandfather.

Ethan has returned to Oregon after almost a decade in Nevada. He no longer has a day job and is doing his best to make a living at this writing thing. If he can’t make a living, he at least wants to support his Mt. Dew and beef jerky addictions.

Find Ethan at his Website or Email him at ethanstone.nv@gmail.com

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4 Stars, DSP Publications, Ethan Stone, Literary Fiction, Reviewed by Maryann

Review: Flesh & Blood by Ethan Stone

Title: Flesh & Blood (Flesh: Book Two)

Author: Ethan Stone

Publisher: DSP Publications

Pages/Word Count: 260 Pages

At a Glance: I like the tone Ethan Stone in Flesh and Blood. It may have been a risk, but I think it turned out well.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: Detective Cristian Flesh is about to find out that he can only run from his past for so long.

When a local man is attacked and the suspect is a hustler, Cristian knows there’s more to the case than meets the eye. His investigation will lead him into a maze of lies, deceit, and underage prostitution. But that’s only the beginning as people start disappearing and turning up dead. Cristian begins to realize that solving the case and stopping the murders won’t be enough. If he wants to make his new life with lawyer Colby Maddox work, he’ll need to face the demons of his past and put them to rest once and for all.

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Review: I always seem to look at Cristian “Bello” Flesh as the tough, snarky guy, but he has a lot of issues and demons that he’s dealt with all of his life. While he faces and fights his demons, we see him becoming a more emotional and caring person toward Victor, the homeless kids, and with the deaths of friends. We see him come face-to-face with his family, and confront his past. Most of all, I think he comes to realize how much he does love Colby.

Colby “Big Guy” Maddox is still very protective of Cristian, and little by little they work together and chip away at Cristian’s rules. Colby has so much love, patience and understanding for Cristian. Colby is in this relationship, no matter what. I couldn’t have been more in agreement when Colby left the law firm; he should have done it sooner. Cristian has always been supportive of Colby opening his own law firm.

There’s also some new characters, FBI agent Drew Bradley and Jed Harper, a homeless kid. I hope Jed Harper gets a story of his own to see how the ranch is working out.

I like the tone Ethan Stone in Flesh and Blood. It may have been a risk, but I think it turned out well. There was crime, court trials and justice prevailing, and humor, but more so, this was a story about Cristian and Colby’s decisions about their own personal lives and their life together. There also are two blurbs at the end of this story for books 3 and 4. I sort of wish they hadn’t been there because one of them surprised me. I hate spoilers, so I am not going to tell!

TNA_Signature_Maryann

 

 

 

You can buy Flesh & Blood here:

OmniLit/ARe

OmniLit/ARe

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5 Stars, DSP Publications, Lissa Kasey, Paranormal, Reviewed by Sammy, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Evolution by Lissa Kasey

Title: Evolution

Author: Lissa Kasey

Publisher: DSP Publications

Pages/Word Count: 250 Pages

At a Glance: Evolution unlocks an exciting paranormal world where the focus is on the heart and soul of its characters rather than just their superhuman qualities.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: Gene Sage has only ever wanted to sing, but his band, Evolution, is pushing him toward the big time. He finds it hard to focus on making musical history when he’s dreaming of graveyards and seeing ghosts. And while all he can think of is hiding who he is from a world unforgiving of anyone different, he discovers he’s also the ultimate snack for vampires and demons. When Gene literally runs into—over—his idol, Kerstrande Petterson, rock god, vampire in hiding, and music cynic, his life falls over the edge into chaos.

Jaded by the world and nearly a decade in the music business, Kerstrande thinks Gene wants to use him to make Evolution immortal in more than one way, but he can’t seem to brush aside the young singer’s enthusiasm.

Getting involved with Kerstrande drags Gene into otherworldly power struggles. Between the ghosts stalking them, the media painting supernaturals as villains, and a vampire out of control in the city, the only way for Gene and Kerstrande to survive is for Gene to embrace his powers—and his destiny.

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Review: How to understand living a life that was always skirting the edge of reality, versus the terrifying thought that there was something so very wrong with you. Genesis sees dead people. But it’s more than that, for he also sees the darkness which possesses people and creates such a sinister and evil change in them that they become nearly unrecognizable. It is more than their aura and yet it is. From an early age he knew he was different, and he spent years being the focus of bullies and trying desperately not to stand out. Then one day, after nearly being drowned, and knowing the one person who professed to be his friend stood by and watched, Genesis chucked school and pursued his dream—to sing. Forming the band Evolution with two friends, he set out to be himself: gay, quirky and unafraid. However, living in a world where vampires were registered and regularly hunted, and being different himself, Genesis still walked on the edge, trying to live free yet still weighed down with fear.

When his car accidentally hits a living legend, Kerstrande, of rock star fame, little does he know that his life is about to change forever, and for the first time, he will truly understand what it is to be the balance in another person’s life. Unfortunately it is unclear if Kerstrande really wants that feeling of calm Genesis provides for he also evokes other strong feelings, and some of those put Genesis in mortal danger.

Author Lissa Kasey creates a world so familiar yet innately sinister and fantastical in her novel Evolution. Set in New York, we enter a city inhabited by creatures that roam the city, hunting others for sport and, of course, for blood. But those are not the only beings that inhabit this world. The undead roam the streets and are just as real and frightening to Genesis as the vampires. Along with these, our hero himself is not quite human and possesses unknown and untapped power waiting to surface. The world building, the paranormal thread that is unraveled, and the tender and poignant person that Genesis is all converge in what is a fascinating story that had me hooked from the very beginning.

Genesis was, in many ways, a simple young man, full of loving compassion and a core of iron strength that had not yet been fully tested despite his painful history. Each time he was described by the author, from his ever-changing hair color to his painted nails, he evoked such a protective response in me. Much like one of her secondary characters, Cris, Gene’s only real friend, I felt such a need to protect this young man. Lissa Kasey writes her novel with such deliberate care, vividly describing her creations, laying out the city with such a visceral and graphic description that you taste the grit and the evil underbelly that makes up her world. To say that this book was an intense ride is an understatement. Ending with a cliffhanger, I am thrilled that I can turn immediately to the next installment in this exciting series.

Evolution unlocks an exciting paranormal world where the focus is on the heart and soul of its characters rather than just their superhuman qualities. It is an exciting novel that I can definitely recommend to those who love this genre.

TNA_Signature_Sammy

 

 

 

You can buy Evolution here:

OmniLit/ARe

OmniLit/ARe

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2 Stars, DSP Publications, Lyn Gala, Reviewed by Jennifer, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Desert World Allegiances by Lyn Gala

Title: Desert World Allegiances (Desert World #1)

Author: Lyn Gala

Publisher: DSP Publications

Pages/Word Count: 240 Pages

At a Glance: To be honest, I struggled to get through this book.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: Being condemned to slavery is a common enough occurrence on the desert planet of Livre, but this time, priest Shan Polli is determined to prevent the corrupt, soul-eating system from destroying one more life. Temar Grazer was sentenced for what amounted to a criminal prank—but Shan soon finds that the dangers extend far beyond Temar’s crime.

Caught between guilt and hope, Shan must find his true path in either the priesthood or in a man whose strength and survival defies the odds. Can the two men unravel a plot that threatens the entire world before Temar is broken by a system of slavery that has twisted out of control?

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Review: I knew going into this book that there would be no romance, so that aspect didn’t bother me. If you really want to read a romance, then this book is not for you, but if you want to read a science fiction novel with some terraforming and a world where water is scarce, then you might enjoy Desert World Allegiance.

To be honest, I struggled to get through this book. While the world-building is well done and the descriptions are vivid, I just couldn’t connect with the characters, and that’s what made most of the book so difficult for me. I didn’t care. From the first pages I was immediately frustrated because I knew how horribly wrong things were going to go, and it didn’t leave me in suspense. It just left me screaming at Temar for being an idiot. I knew everything was going to go from bad to worse. Temar and his sister are the victims of water theft, which is a big deal on a planet where water is scarce. An accident occurs and Temar’s sentence is short-term slavery. Enter Shan, who is against the sentence for Temar, and as he investigates the story he uncovers a conspiracy.

There is a lot of politics in the novel, which I have to be in a certain mood to read. I guess I wasn’t when I was reading Desert World Allegiance, because while it intrigued me sometimes, most of the time I didn’t want to read it. I often felt compelled to put the book down and do something else.

I also struggled with some of the concepts of the book. While I’m not averse to stories with slavery, in some it just doesn’t make sense. This book was borderline. On one hand I could see that as a severe punishment, the threat of slavery would be a deterrent to committing crimes. But on the other hand, for this society, which seems to be advanced, slavery felt a bit incongruous.

There is a second book to this series which I hear has more of a romantic aspect in it. Will I read it? Probably not. I don’t have enough of an emotional investment in the characters.

TNA_Signature_Jennifer

 

 

 

You can buy Desert World Allegiance here:

OmniLit/ARe

OmniLit/ARe

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Deja Black, DSP Publications, DSPP's Genre Talk

DSPP Presents: Genre Talk with Carole Cummings and Deja Black

DSP Publications

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carole: Will there be more of Dan and Aiden?

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

Carole: And will there be more unique supernatural beings?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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EXCERPT: BROKEN BONES:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Danny Boy! What. The. Fuck.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Giveaways, Rhys Ford

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Ink and Shadows Tour with Rhys Ford

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The Novel Approach is pleased to bring you the final leg of Kismet’s journey on Rhys Ford’s Ink and Shadows blog tour. Sit back, relax, learn a little bit about Kisment, and be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below for the chance to win not only a Pestilence Pony BUT ALSO a $25 Gift Card to the e-tailer of the winner’s choice.

Good luck!

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First, thank the blogs for having me on this Ink and Shadows tour! Thank you so so much! Secondly, this next part will be the same across the blogs but I wanted to give a bit of a soundbite about the whys of this book.

In the Beginning, there was urban fantasy. Okay, to be fair, the urban fantasy genre didn’t exist when I began to read. Back then, it was pretty much either sci-fi or high fantasy. There were murmurs of urban fantasy—Mercedes Lackey’s elves / bard series, Gael Baudino’s Gossamer Axe, to name a few—but it caught and began gaining traction, a bastard stepchild of magic and an alternative universe.

Urban fantasy was always a playground for experimentation, and I wanted to go off the rails a bit with Ink and Shadows. There had to be a solid footing in the contemporary world and the underbelly of humanity. Or rather, the expression of humanity. When I wrote this book, it was to explore the possibilities of personalities and, okay, play around with the world.

I chose to write about the Horsemen of the Apocalypse and Kismet, the human who changes their world, because I wanted to delve into their being a necessary part of humanity’s existence. Over the course of the tour, I’ll touch on the main characters and components of the Horsemen’s world.

I hope you all like Ink and Shadows, my foray past the shadows.

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Kismet

Kismet is a complicated character to write. He is human, yet touched by a slight madness…or at least he thinks so. Struggling with the shadows moving around him, Kismet fell to heroin to maintain an even keel. Tattooing and art drives him, it helps him focus his mind off of the world pushing in on him. It also serves as a means for him to express the insanity surging around him.

He thinks he’s managing fine.

Until one day, something breaks and the shadows come crashing down on top of him.

And that’s when he meets Mal—Pestilence of the Four Horsemen. Sort of.

Kismet’s world is broken apart, everything he thought wasn’t real turns out to exist and suddenly the crazy—the comfortable crazy he’d been living with—isn’t so insane any more. But the world keeps spinning and someone or something is after him.

I wanted to write a human—a flawed human—being thrust into the Horsemen’s shadowy world. To be shoved beyond the Looking Glass, as it were. To find the struggles of humanity played out on a bigger stage, over eons and manipulated by not-quite-people who are as human and flawed as Kismet.

There is an attraction Kismet feels towards Mal and in some ways, Kismet is a hell of a lot older than Pestilence. He’s fought to survive, fought to find his footing and scraped together a fairly decent living for himself, as far as he’s concerned. To have his existence suddenly expanded is overwhelming but he’s a survivor. He can land on his feet.

But it seems like someone is trying to kick Kismet’s feet out from under him…and the Horsemen are the only ones who can save—or damn—him.

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o-ink-and-shadowsBlurb: Kismet Andreas lives in fear of the shadows.

For the young tattoo artist, the shadows hold more than darkness. He is certain of his insanity because the dark holds creatures and crawling things only he can see—monsters who hunt out the weak to eat their minds and souls, leaving behind only empty husks and despair.

And if there’s one thing Kismet fears more than being hunted—it’s the madness left in its wake.

The shadowy Veil is Mal’s home. As Pestilence, he is the youngest—and most inexperienced—of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, immortal manifestations resurrected to serve—and cull—mankind. Invisible to all but the dead and insane, the Four exist between the Veil and the mortal world, bound to their nearly eternal fate. Feared by other immortals, the Horsemen live in near solitude but Mal longs to know more than Death, War and Famine.

Mal longs to be… more human. To interact with someone other than lunatics or the deceased.

When Kismet rescues Mal from a shadowy attack, Pestilence is suddenly thrust into a vicious war—where mankind is the prize, and the only one who has faith in Mal is the human the other Horsemen believe is destined to die.

BUY LINKS: DSP Publications | Amazon | OmniLit/ARe | Barnes & Noble

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!rhys_ford_headshotAbout the Author: Rhys Ford was born and raised in Hawai’i then wandered off to see the world. After chewing through a pile of books, a lot of odd food, and a stray boyfriend or two, Rhys eventually landed in San Diego, which is a very nice place but seriously needs more rain.

Rhys admits to sharing the house with three cats of varying degrees of black fur and a ginger cairn terrorist. Rhys is also enslaved to the upkeep a 1979 Pontiac Firebird, a Toshiba laptop, and an overworked red coffee maker.

My Blog | Facebook | Twitter

And at the Starbucks down the street. No really, they’re 24/7. And a drive-thru. It’s like heaven.

My books can be purchased, folded and first chapters read at Dreamspinner Press.

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THE GIVEAWAY

Pestilence Pony - Guaranteed not to make you itch, hork, or break out in leprosy

Pestilence Pony – Guaranteed not to make you itch, hork, or break out in leprosy


Rafflecopter Giveaway

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Tour Dates:
July 2: Love Bytes | July 3: It’s About the Book | July 6: Sinfully Sexy | July 7: RELEASE DAY! WOOOOT | July 8: Prism Book Alliance | July 9: Joyfully Jay | July 10: GGR Review | July 11: The Blogger Girls

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