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

Christmas Dividers

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

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S.A. McAuley

Guest Post and Exclusive Excerpt: The Borders War Series by S.A. McAuley

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Have you ever read a book and thought, Wow! This would be really great if only [insert MAJOR PLOT-SHIFTING idea here].

Well, that was me—except this time, it was my own book I wanted to change.

When I wrote the first edition of One Breath, One Bullet I knew exactly how and where Merq and Armise would eventually end up, but I didn’t officially have plans to turn it into a series. After a discussion with my editor and publisher, we collectively decided to pursue the full five book Border War series. But One Breath, One Bullet was already well on its way to being finalized. So we went ahead with publication of the first book. I wrote the second book—Dominant Predator—and it was published too. Then as I began to write the third book—Powerless—I realized exactly what I should’ve done different in the first book to make the entire series flow better.

Hindsight is a vindictive asshat.

Writing a series was a new endeavor for me at the time. I learned a lot in the year between the first book and the third. I started making lists of all the things I’d change if I ever got the chance. Luckily for me, I didn’t have to wait long. That opportunity came when Pride Publishing was created as a sister company to Totally Bound. Immediately we started talking about doing re-issues of The Borders War series.

I channeled my inner infomercial host, gleefully categorizing all the improvements I could make on these *Bigger! Better! And more efficient!* versions.

The edition of One Breath, One Bullet that releases on January 5, 2016 is a completely different book. It’s gone from 30,000 words to 50,000 words (*now with 60% more violence and enemies to lovers action!*), the flashbacks have been removed in favor of a continual timeline (*that’s right, no more mess and inconvenience!*), and you finally get to hear a bit of what Armise has to say (*warning: this product may have unintended consequences if used against manufacturer’s recommendations*).

If you haven’t read any of The Borders War books, now is a great time to start. As an author, I’m really happy with how the series overall has turned out. More importantly, as a fellow reader who goes way over budget on books, I’m ecstatic to share that Pride Publishing is offering One Breath, One Bullet for FREE and Dominant Predator for 99 cents from now until the end of January. (*Yes, that’s right! Order now and we’ll throw the first book in for free!*)

Even if you’ve already read the first book, read the new version of One Breath, One Bullet. It’s free, get it. Please. I can’t be any clearer on that without giving away major spoilers.

(*ahem*)

Anyway…

What hasn’t changed in the reissues of the first three books is Merq and Armise’s inescapable draw to each other despite being enemies. Or that the world around them is falling apart. Or that they’re going to have to fight through a whole hell of a lot to begin to get a glimpse of the HEA that may or may not be in their future.

The Borders War series is violent. It’s dark. It takes place in a brutal time—five hundred years in the future—that is inhabited by some coldhearted people.

But above all that desolation, there is the hope Merq and Armise carry for their lives to mean something. For each other.

Their story starts with the release of One Breath, One Bullet and Dominant Predator on January 5, continues in Powerless (out January 12) and will end when the last two books of the series—Falling, One by One and Strength of the Rising Sun—go live on January 19 and 26.

(*Don’t hesitate! Act now!*)

A massive thank you to all the readers who’ve stuck with me through the years it’s taken to get to this point.

I can’t wait to share the rest of their journey with you.

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onebreathonebullet_revamp_exlarge_PNG-180x288Blurb – One Breath, One Bullet (The Borders War #1)Face to face, and rifle to rifle. The time and location change, but never the circumstance. Merq Grayson and Armise Darcan are enemies. And neither will be considered successful until the other is dead.

It is the year 2558. A mere decade has passed since the signing of the treaty which ended the three hundred year long Borders War. In the midst of an uneasy peace, the world gathers for the first Olympic games since the war began.

The Rifle competition showcases the very soldiers who fought in the war, pitting former enemies against one another again. Continental States Peacemaker Merq Grayson will once again battle the Dark Ops officer from the People’s Republic of Singapore, Armise Darcan, this time under the flag of their own uneasy truce. The relationship between Merq and Armise is one of violence, secrecy, and a growing intimacy that could have them both branded as traitors.

But there is more at stake than pride or medals in these games. And neither Merq nor Armise may be able to make it out alive before the fires of revolution are set ablaze again.

Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of violence.

Publisher’s Note: This book has previously been released under the same title. It has been revised and re-edited for re-release with Pride Publishing.

General Release Date: 5th January 2016

Reserve your free copy at Pride Publishing

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dominantpredatort_revamp_exlarge_PNG-180x288Blurb – Dominant Predator (The Borders War #2)A relationship is the least of Merq and Armise’s concerns…

With one bullet Merq Grayson set the wealthiest citizens of the world on a collision course with the poorest—with those fighting for their freedom. As the Borders War reignites, the Revolution faces heavy losses. They scramble to maintain their advantage, to strike at the Opposition and crumble their power structure before they are able to rally.

But Merq is in the midst of an internal battle that shakes him to the core. For the first time in his life Merq will have to reconcile the inherent tragedy of war and decide just how much vengeance can be justified by spilt blood. How much can he trust the men and women around him? The President, Neveed, his former soldiers, his parents…and Armise.

Merq and Armise find themselves off grid and on the hunt for Committee members. Merq is just as unsettled with Armise at his side as he was with Armise as an enemy, but they will have to learn how to fight together—or they may just die together.

Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of violence.

Publisher’s Note: This book has previously been released under the same title. It has been revised and re-edited for re-release with Pride Publishing.

General Release Date: 5th January 2016

Pre-order your copy at Pride Publishing

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powerless_revamp_exlarge_PNG-180x288Blurb – Powerless (The Borders War #3)He was built to be invincible.

Merq and Armise return to the States after their mission to assassinate the remaining Committee members only to find the leadership of the Revolution isn’t as stable as they had thought.

Outside forces come crashing down on a Revolution stronghold, leaving two of their soldiers gravely wounded. Merq’s history with his brothers in arms Simion and Neveed forces him into making decisions that will impact his future with the Revolution.

Merq has always identified as a soldier first. Always known who deserved his loyalty and who didn’t. But with the uncertainty surrounding the leadership of the Revolution, the mysterious disappearance of the jacquerie and increased activity with the PsychHAgs, Merq knows there are few people he can trust.

The only man Merq wants or needs at his side is Armise Darcan. But his reliance on his former enemy may be a miscalculation that will threaten everything Merq stands for.

Reader Advisory: This book contains reference to genetic experimentation on children.

Publisher’s Note: This book has previously been released under the same title. It has been revised and re-edited for re-release with Pride Publishing.

General Release Date: 12th January 2016

Pre-order your copy at Pride Publishing

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Falling, One by OneBlurb – Falling, One by One (The Borders War #4)Whether Armise lived or died was never supposed to matter to Merq.

As the fight for the kids of the jacquerie begins and the war between Opposition and Revolution heightens, Merq discovers that he may not have as much control over his actions as he thought he did. Further complicating their tangled relationship, Armise may be just as compromised.

Desperate to learn the truth, Merq and Armise put themselves directly in the path of a powerful enemy. They’ve spent fifteen years of their lives on the knife’s edge of trust and loyalty. What they learn about each other’s pasts—and what it means for their future—will bring them together or definitively tear them apart.

Merq’s life has always been at risk—one bullet away from death in sacrifice of his mission. As his focus begins to shift, Merq may be too late to understand what, and who, is most important in his life.

Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of graphic violence, forced genetic modification, genetic experimentation, genetic experimentation on children and torture.

General Release Date: 19th January 2016

Pre-order your copy at Pride Publishing

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Strength of the Rising Sun (The Borders War #5)

Blurb coming soon!

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Excerpt – One Breath, One Bullet: “I don’t want your eyes to close. Not even to blink,” Jegs said over the comm.

“Yes, Major,” I replied, with Lark’s and Pax’s affirmative responses following mine.

I shifted my elbow off the rusted nail that was digging into my skin and kept my eye locked to the scope. I was stationed on a hill, my body covered in order to blend in to my surroundings, and not on the top level of a crumbling skyscraper in the American Federation, but otherwise, this setup was eerily similar to the first time I’d encountered Armise.

I couldn’t shake the unease that crawled down my spine as I peered at the building where Armise was supposedly holed up. This entire town, in the virtually unpopulated Western Territories, was long abandoned. Fighting between the States and the AmFed was heavy hundreds of miles away from where we were. But not here. Mostly because there was nothing here to defend. Nothing to protect. There were no other people besides Jegs, Lark and Pax, me and, reportedly, Armise. There was no way the coveted infochip was here. So there was no reason for a Dark Ops soldier to be here at all.

I frowned. “How much longer are we expected to keep this up, Major?”

“Until we kill him.”

“I have to see him to do that.”

She hesitated. “He’ll come out when he has reason to.”

I listened between her words, to what she wasn’t saying. “You know him?”

“I know enough.”

I scowled. “And you don’t think he’s here for the infochip.”

“I know he’s not.”

“Then why—”

Jegs cut me off. “Keep your eyes locked to that building, Grayson. You’ll only have one shot at him, maybe not even that.”

In my peripheral vision a wall of clouds gathered in the distance. Dark brown and rounded. A dust storm frothing on the horizon, gaining in strength as it whipped toward us.

Candlelight flickered in one of the upper rooms but I couldn’t see any other movement. The analysts had told us exactly where Armise would be and he hadn’t changed his location in days since we’d arrived, but none of us could site him in any of the places he should have been. Regardless, I was sure that he was here. Hiding. Watching. Assessing us and our actions for some ulterior motive we weren’t privy to.

I couldn’t see him but I could feel him watching. I didn’t have a name for the bristling of the hairs at the back of my neck. Or the flush of my skin that was like my blood rising to the surface where it felt like his gaze landed on me. Which was ridiculous because it was unlikely he even knew we were here.

But no matter what logically made sense, I couldn’t shake the unrest that crawled through me because of Armise.

I wanted to end this foreign sensation, needed to kill him in order to regain my equilibrium. From the little Jegs had shared with me though, Armise wasn’t the type to hand us that chance. From what I’d witnessed myself in the days we’d been watching him, I knew he wouldn’t be seen until he wanted to be. He was a ghost, setting the shredded curtains into movement but never revealing himself.

I spent hours with my eye glued to that scope, the dust storm barreling forward with each minute that passed. We would have an hour max before it hit us and there would be no chance of seeing my hand in front of my face, let alone keeping sites on the building. My patience threatened to break.

The outside edges of the dust storm kicked up around me, warning me that I had been wrong. We had half an hour, maybe less, before unpredictable air currents would hamper any shot from my rifle. I gritted my teeth. We weren’t accomplishing anything here.

Particles of dust tickled at my nose and eyes, but I held steady even as the wind picked up. I focused on the sway of the abandoned building as it tried to hold against the first onslaught of wind. It was as if the walls were breathing. Waiting and expectant. Just as much as I was.

The Borders War was swiftly approaching three centuries of active fighting, and we were still no closer to resolution than we’d been before it had started. I was set to be the impetus for change—the edges of a front, where warm air met cold and the sky swirled into chaos, emptying a rain onto the world that could wipe away the scars we’d left on this planet and ourselves. Allow us, as a global society, to start new. Rebuilding would take time, as would the reorganization of country borders, solidified down to only five in a mass consolidation of power. How that restructuring happened when the Borders War ended, at what pace, and who ended up in power wasn’t up to me. Strategy wasn’t my strength.

Killing men was.

I was tasked with a much larger end goal than killing one Dark Ops solider. But Armise was a threat. We couldn’t allow Singapore to gain the infochip. Every moment we sat here, waiting for Armise to take action, was another moment where we were being used as bait, or worse, a distraction. I closed my eyes and took in one long breath.

Although I’d been a Peacemaker for less than a year, and she was my senior in rank and age, it wasn’t Major Jegs I was beholden to. Not Brigadier Blanc. The dictatorial President Wensen Kersch of the Continental States couldn’t intimidate me either. I wouldn’t allow one Singaporean shit to tear away at my confidence by the act of doing nothing.

“He’s taunting us.” I sat up, pushing the camouflage off me and exposing my position.

Jegs’ voice went low and dangerous in my ear. “What the fuck are you doing, Captain?”

Before she could finish challenging me, both Lark and Pax had revealed their positions to my north and south.

Lark’s voice crackled over the comm receiver, gone staticky from the approaching storm. “Grayson’s got the right idea. We can’t try to wait him out anymore with that storm heading our way. He’s waiting for us to make a move, let’s do it.”

“I don’t give a shit if he is baiting us,” Pax added. “We have minutes until the dust hits and we’re out of commission for an unknown length of time. We can end this now.”

“Pax, cover Lark,” Jegs ordered. “Grayson, cover both of them.”

Lark slung his sonicrifle over his shoulder and took off running for the door while Pax covered him with shots aimed at that empty, but lit up, top floor window. Lark made it to the front door and I followed Lark’s trajectory through my sites, ready to take a shot if the opportunity came. The door swung open just as Lark went for it, and a man with his mouth, ears and nose covered with cloth, eyes masked by goggles, slammed the door into Lark’s face and sent him hurtling backward from the force. There was no way I could attempt a shot with the wind barreling down on us and the swiftness of Armise’s movements.

I took off at a dead sprint, bringing my sonicrifle up to attempt a shot while I ran. Armise was just as big as I remembered, just as powerful. I couldn’t run fast enough or get the right angle, Armise was already on the move, stomping his heel into Lark’s windpipe, crushing it with his boot and plunging a thick knife into his sternum. He spun, facing Pax, and popped off a shot from his rifle that had Pax slumping to the ground dead.

Jegs’ orders for me to stand down were background to the unceremonious decimation in front of me.

The cloth around Armise’s face had come lose in the whipping wind, and when he faced me there was a maliciousness to his sneer that spoke of certain victory. The satisfied swell of a man who had sent more than his share of souls into darkness but wouldn’t be truly satisfied until he had mine.

He lifted his sonicpistol, put finger to the trigger, and there was hesitation on his part— only half a heartbeat, barely perceptible, but there nonetheless—and the dust storm hit with a ferocity that sent me tumbling to the ground and filled the space between Armise and me with an impenetrable, stinging wall. I wrapped myself up in a ball, pulling my hood over my head and affixing my respirator.

“We ride this out,” Jegs said through my comm. “Try and make it into the building if you can. We’ll recover Lark’s and Pax’s bodies when it’s clear. Darcan is already gone.”

I hadn’t taken out Armise. He’d failed again to kill me and had taken out two of my fellow Peacemakers. I seethed, my pride stinging much more than the dust that abraded my skin. I didn’t care how long it took, I would be the one to end this, with me taking his life.

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S.A. McAuleyAbout S.A. McAuley: I sleep little, read a lot. Happiest in a foreign country. Twitchy when not mentally in motion. My name is Sam, not Sammy, definitely not Samantha. I’m a pretty dark/cynical/jaded person, but I hide that darkness well behind my obsession(s) for shiny objects. I’m the macabre wrapped in irresistible bubble wrap and a glittery pink bow, I suppose.

I have a never-ending-abyss-like secret love for poetry. Especially Rumi, Hafiz, and Neruda. You can predict (as well as change) my moods and my writing schedule by my playlists.

Insomnia is my greatest ally and my nemesis. I like cheese and bourbon—not necessarily in that order, I’m flexible.

If you’re in any fandom, then I’m probably already in love with you. I’m not joking.

I like my tv shows marathoned and I have to use internet blocking software to be productive. I have software called Producteev that I loaded onto my laptop and proceeded to fill out in detail and now I haven’t touched it in a year.

I enjoy normalized chaos.

Hit me up! I love to hear from readers. xx

-Sam

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A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Here’s a Sneak Peek at the Holiday Week

Holiday Sneak Peek

Monday – We’ve got a fantastic kickoff to this week for you! First up is Abigail Roux, with an exclusive excerpt on the blog tour for the newest Sidewinder novel Part & Parcel

Then, author S.A. McAuley joins us to introduce (or, for some of us, re-introduce) the Borders War series. One Breath, One Bullet has undergone some major renovations and expansions, and Sam has some special news about the rerelease of the first three books in the series—One Breath, One Bullet, Dominant Predator, and Powerless—and the release of the next two books, Falling, One by One and Strength of the Rising Sun

Tuesday – Today we have two more special guests joining us. First is author Felice Stevens on the tour for her new book The Greatest Gift

We’ll also welcome author Morticia Knight on the tour for her latest novel Safe Limits

Wednesday – Author Jon Michaelsen stops by today with a guest post and giveaway to celebrate the release of his new novel Prince of the Sea

Thursday – We’re joined today by author Sean Michael on the tour for his latest release, Three to Get Ready

Friday – From our family here at The Novel Approach to you and yours, we wish you a joyous holiday season. We’re taking some time off to spend with loved ones today, but we’ll be back soon with more guests, giveaways, and reviews. Thank you so much for taking the time to drop by and visit.

With love and good cheer to all of you!

Lisa and the TNA Team

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4 Stars, Fairy Tale/Mythology/Folk Lore, M.A. Ray, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Self-Published

Review: The High King’s Will by M.A. Ray

Amazon

Amazon

Title: The High King’s Will (Steel for the Prince: Book One)

Author: M.A. Ray

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 185 Pages

At a Glance: The High King’s Will takes off on an exciting and action packed adventure.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: “The High King’s will crushes all before it. …Fare well, Eagle Eye Wormsbane. If you can.”

Eagle Eye’s world is full of magic. Fairies love him, and his only real friend is the resident unicorn, but since he killed the Worm of Shirith, nothing feels the same. When he collides with beautiful, broken Brother Fox a second time, he knows there’s no going back.

“I’m not in love with him. He needs help, that’s all.”

There’s no shortage of monsters in Fox’s life. The Worm was nothing compared to his own father, High King Beagar. When Eagle suggests an escape, Fox seizes the idea–and he wants Eagle with him.

“Damn propriety! I don’t want a servant! I want you to be my friend!”

The High King’s designs send Eagle and Fox across the sea to Rodansk, a land of summer sunshine at midnight and endless winter dark. Between the two, low-caste Eagle presents the bigger threat to Beagar’s power, and he didn’t even know it. Now that his Prince is giving him so much to lose, he won’t go down without a fight.

“Don’t be afraid. …I’m with you.”

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Review: Filled with magic, betrayal, danger, and mayhem—not to mention a couple of engaging heroes—M.A. Ray’s The High King’s Will sweeps readers along on an exciting high fantasy adventure. Digging into this story, I have to confess I wasn’t sure whether I was reading a fable or folk lore or a fairy tale. It turns out the answer is yes, I was reading a little bit of all those things, and I found this book to be a delightful tale with a New Adult feel.

Eagle Eye has just been named Wormsbane. He’s slain a dragon and saved the life of Brother Fox, the Crown Prince, but feels unworthy of the title that’s been bestowed upon him by the High King Beagar, certain that it wasn’t skill but luck that was with him that day. When the author introduces us to Eagle and Fox (whose names are what kept me wondering at the start of the book if I was reading a fable or maybe the re-imagining of a Native American folk tale), we don’t learn as much about the slaying as we do about the High King—namely that he’s never going to be up for father of the year. He’s abusive in some brutal and heinous ways, and as the story evolves, we see exactly why Fox is so eager to set off with Eagle to see the world when he has the opportunity.

What I didn’t understand for a good ways into this tale is exactly what sort of creatures Eagle and Fox are. I only knew for sure they weren’t at all human—it’s actually a bit difficult to get a good mental picture of what they do look like, at least for me—but the author does make sure we get a clear picture of this fairy tale world inhabited by trolls, dragons, fairies, elves, as well as humans, not to mention the magic and courage our heroes possess. The world-building along with my compassion for Fox and respect for Eagle made for some good binge reading.

As it turns out, the High King allowing Fox to set off on his adventure, accompanied by Eagle as his guard, wasn’t a rare kindness displayed by a father toward his son. There were much more sinister motives involved, and as the boys discover their journey is going to turn into a fight for survival, this story draws you in to all the danger they face, in the classic hero’s journey fashion. The action scenes are well written and fraught with tension, making for a brisk paced read.

Our young lovers have only just begun, and there are more than a few obstacles they’ll have to overcome, not the least of which is that Fox’s life is the stuff of nightmares and there are many things he’s done and had done to him he can’t put behind him. As the book draws to a close, we’re also left on the cusp of change for Eagle… Yes, the story ends in a cliffhanger, so what that change is remains to be seen. I’m looking so forward to book two to find out, and can only hope these boys will find a talisman of good fortune or that fate will throw some luck their way. Something tells me they’re going to need it.

I’m always excited to be introduced to new authors, and if the entire series lives up to the promise of The High King’s Will, M.A. Ray is one I’ll be paying close attention to.

TNA_Signature_Lisa

 

 

 

 

You can buy The High King’s Will here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon UK

Amazon CA

Amazon CA

Amazon DE

Amazon DE

Amazon AU

Amazon AU

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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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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.

TNA_Signature_Sammy

 

 

 

 

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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Zathyn Priest

Guest Post: Inside His Reflection by Zathyn Priest

Inside His Reflection

Thank you to The Novel Approach for the opportunity to talk about my new book, Inside His Reflection, and one of the main characters, Elijah Benson.

Inside His Reflection went through several plot changes before I settled on the one that clicked.  This isn’t unusual for me.  All my books are written in this haphazard manner.  I change my mind to the point the finished product is completely different to the story I intended to write.  Due to this, my characters change, develop personalities, decide they don’t want to play well with ideas I had, and throw me curveballs.  Elijah did this to me many times.

Elijah is a man living with the pain of a horrendous past.  Blamed and demonised for crimes he didn’t commit, and a survivor of a brutal murder attempt.   Given this, he’s also a man who plays his cards close to his chest, trusts no one, and is a loner.  His personality comes across as brusque, sometimes arrogant, in spite of this not being his true self.  It’s a coping mechanism, however it has made him unlikable to most people.  Which, when creating such a character, runs the dangerous risk of making them unlikable to a reader, too.

My challenge with Elijah was to clearly create a mystery around him within the first few pages.  Create a standoffish arrogance, but also add layers to hint there was a lot more to him.  To show that even though he may not have smiled, laughed, or shown much emotion, there was a sense of humour beneath an icy exterior.  If there was nothing other than haughty arrogance, why would my second main character, Harry, be interested in a second date?  And, why would a reader care about Elijah if he simply came across as a tosser?  I used to joke on Facebook that I have an evil love of torturing my characters, and Elijah was my most tortured of all.  It is, in fact, true.  Given this, the last thing I wanted to do to the poor guy was make him so irritating that no one could stand reading more than a few pages of his company!

Elijah is a complex personality, and that made him a challenging character to create and write.  It also made him a challenging character to create a 3D digital model of.  Each fictional character in my books and works in progress have their own 3D digital model.  I craft them and use them in artworks, like movie storyboards.  This alone can take weeks of work in Daz Studio and Photoshop to get the first model of a character at a stage where it matches well with how I’ve imagined them in my mind.  After that, it’s an evolving process over more weeks or even months.  With Elijah, each scar on his face was taken from real photographs of scars, and then Photoshopped onto the 3D model skin texture.  A tedious, time consuming project.

Elijah Portrait

When someone asks my favourite character from the books I’ve written, it’s a bit like asking me to choose a favourite child.  Or, in my case, a favourite four-legged furkid.  My favourite is usually the characters I’m working with at the time.  But, Elijah is special to me because of his strength, his ability to keep putting one foot in front of the other, and to be able to fall in love when his life had been surrounded by so much hate.  If you read Inside His Reflection, I hope Elijah touches your heart, too.

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Inside His Reflection_PROMO sizeINSIDE HIS REFLECTION ~ Zathyn Priest

Publisher: Wilde City Press
Cover Art: Scarlet Tie Designs
Length: Novel
Genre: M/M, Contemporary, Drama
Heat Rating: Mild.  *Please Note* This book contains no sex scenes.
POV: Third
Purchase Link:  Wilde City Press

BLURB: A blind date leaves Harry reeling, and another date goes as badly. Scars on Elijah’s face are clues of a broken soul, yet Harry can’t walk away.  Not even when he learns Elijah sees a dead man in mirror reflections.

Elijah’s sanity snaps. Blamed for crimes he didn’t commit, Elijah has already survived a brutal murder attempt and now hides under a Protection Program. Harry must have faith he is innocent and fight for Elijah’s stolen rights. Can Harry do this without losing his mind, his own rights, and the man he loves?

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Author Bio: Zathyn Priest is an award winning Australian MM fiction author and cover artist.  His published novels include Inside His Reflection, Amara: The Rebirth, The Curtis Reincarnation, The Slayer’s Apprentice, and Liquid Glass. He has also written short fiction, The Statue, Left of Centre, and One of Those Days.  Zathyn’s new graphic novella, HAI-21, will be available early 2016.

Zathyn discovered digital art five years ago when he wanted to create 3D models of his own fictional characters.  The hobby turned into another passion, and then into pre-made cover art business, Scarlet Tie Designs.  He now creates original artwork book covers, website artworks, and poster artworks.

Sitting in an office all day in front of a computer does not match Zathyn’s restless soul.  Therefore, he also attends classical ballet and jazz burlesque dance classes, with the ambition to turn boylesque/burlesque into a part-time career.

Author LinksFacebook || Twitter ~ @zathynpriest || Blog 

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4.5 Stars, Cecilia Tan, Literary Fiction, Reviewed by Lisa, Self-Published

Review: Daron’s Guitar Chronicles: Volume Eight by Cecilia Tan

Amazon

Amazon

Title: Daron’s Guitar Chronicles: Volume Eight

Author: Cecilia Tan

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 258 Pages

At a Glance: And the beat goes on…

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: The latest volume in the award-winning web serial about coming out and coming of age in the music business of the 1980s and 1990s.

As the calendar moves from 1990 to 1991, Daron Marks is trying to stay true to his heart.

But life is tough when you’re a talented musician whose life is controlled by gigantic mega-corporations. Daron is trying hard not to think about that, though, when he invites Ziggy to spend Christmas with Daron’s chosen family: his mentor Remo and the guys from the band Nomad. Ziggy’s career is taking off at rocket speed; meanwhile Daron spends a few months living in New York City working with one of the music industry’s hottest producers and then takes a gig to hit the road with Nomad. Even with the industry pulling them in different directions, Daron and Ziggy’s paths keep crossing. Can they rebuild a relationship without music tying them together? And what is that mysterious song Daron keeps hearing on the radio?

Volume 8 cover chapters 585 through 636 of the online web serial.

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Review: Have I mentioned yet how much I love this series. Yeah, I thought so, and that opinion hasn’t changed yet. I do have to say, though, that I’m wondering how much more gah! there can possibly be. It’s gah in a good way, though.

Daron and Ziggy. Well, they’re still dancing around each other—same tune, different beat—and tiptoeing over their issues and feelings, so not much has changed there in spite of the fact I thought, “Oh, here we go! There’s the ‘L’ word…” Then nope. I kind of L-word, in a masochistic sort of way, that Cecilia Tan is keeping things so close to the chest with these guys, though, because knowing that Daron’s telling this story in an autobiographical fashion, we’re seeing decades of his life from a current day perspective, and there are many years to go before we get to the 21st century, let alone to 2015. There’s time. There’s time to find out who Daron ends up with. Assuming he ends up with anyone.

And then there’s Colin… Say what, now?

I grew to feel an immense amount of love for Colin—sometimes guitar tech, sometimes CPA—in Volume Eight, and I have to wonder if it’s been sneaking up on me or if that love for him has been there on a slow simmer all along, and it’s finally just bubbled over because it became more evident how well he sees Daron and is sensitive to his moods and needs. Colin can take one look and know that Daron’s keyed up, and knows what it’ll take to undo him, and if that’s not something worth exploring, I don’t know anything about anything. Which I probably don’t because there’s still the enigma that is Ziggy. Is the real question (at least, my real question) whether either of these guys—Ziggy or Colin—are long-term boyfriend material? Cecilia Tan sure threw me a curveball with Colin here, and while I wasn’t expecting it, I can’t wait to see what, if anything, is going to come from it. Which is the awesomely aggravating thing about serialized fiction: that long slow burn of the payoff. But, if nothing else, Colin has proven to be the best friends-with-benefits guy ever.

Or, maybe I’m just reading too much into it.

One of the things I’ve feared as this series progresses is the “second verse same as the first” potential inherent in Daron and Ziggie’s maybe/maybe not relationship, and yet with each installment, Tan has thus far displayed an impressive ability to balance their storyline with Daron’s journey as a musician and a young man who’s growing into his sexuality and finally owning the fact that sex with men isn’t shameful. This is an author who knows her character intimately, and because she loves writing him, I love reading him, angst-ridden guy that he is and all.

We see Daron as more than the guy who loves Ziggy, and we even see him as more than a guitarist, although music is a massive part of who he is. We see him as a brother, a friend, and a surrogate son to Remo Cutler, and Daron allows us in on his most intimate thoughts and feelings and conflicts, and the bottom line is that he’s one of the most deeply drawn and thoroughly explored characters I’ve ever read. If you love character driven fiction and getting into the headspace of the people telling you stories, not to mention fabulous dialogue, this series pretty much owns that in an intricate and what I would declare a singular way. At least, I’ve never read anything like it yet in the M/M genre.

I obviously can’t force anyone to read a book, but if there ever was a series that I’d love to have someone to share my love of it with, it’s this one. Reading these books isn’t even akin to reading fiction, really. It’s like reading a man’s diary, and because Daron’s open and honest and human, which means he’s flawed, he’s also completely endearing.

TNA_Signature_Lisa

 

 

 

 

You can buy Daron’s Guitar Chronicles: Volume Eight here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

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5 Stars, BJ Sheppard, Horror, Reviewed by Lisa, Self-Published

Review: Devil’s Jawbone by BJ Sheppard

Amazon

Amazon

Title: Devil’s Jawbone

Author: BJ Sheppard

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 139 Pages

At a Glance: This author’s creativity is not only impressive, but he’s also just a bit disturbed in only the best possible way.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: As night descends on the town of Devil’s Jawbone, no one is safe. The veil between the living and the dead is at its thinnest, and the darkest side of human nature is boiling to the surface. The supernatural and the natural are colliding, and in this sleepy town, the bump in the night is taking human form. Innocence will be lost; the villain will become the victor; spirits will rise and Satan himself will come to town.

In an eerie collection of short speculative fiction, author BJ Sheppard will grab your imagination, bringing new life to the classic campfire tales synonymous with the scariest of occasions. Halloween will never be the same again.

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Review: Welcome to Devil’s Jawbone, the place where a person’s convictions can be every bit as terrifying as their afflictions…where the only difference between a surgeon and a butcher lies somewhere within intent.

Author BJ Sheppard has tapped into the darker side of his imagination and pulled together a collection of horror stories that showcase the human monster which has the potential of lurking within all of us. Starting with “Legion,” this anthology takes on an eerie tone as the author begins to draw his circle. Imagery and allegory are painted in rich tones of the unknown in a poetic prose that does nothing but make the reader curious about what sort of place he’s leading us into. As it turns out, this author’s creativity is not only impressive, but he’s also just a bit disturbed in only the best possible way for those of us who love a good chill up our spines.

As we move along through each of the subsequent tales, we witness every human failing that can be twisted into horrifying realities—because, as we all know, it’s not the unknown and impossible we should fear most. What ought to strike true terror in the hearts of man is the potential for evil that lives among us, those whose fanatical persuasions and twisted passions and psychological maladaptation are as nearby as the killer who walks by us on the sidewalk and decides whether today is the day we live or die. This omnibus of the macabre leads its readers through the valley of the shadow of death, and we… we should fear its evil.

No one is immune from Sheppard’s distorted treatment of life and death and the in-between in Devil’s Jawbone. From mothers to serial murders, we are offered a glimpse inside the minds of the afflicted. From a twisting of the innocence of a child, to the betrayal of a lover which sets the wheels of retribution into motion, to the reimagining of “The Hook” (that scary little childhood tale so many of once told as we huddled under our blankets), each of these short stories seem to have nothing in common save for their setting and the fact that they’re each more deliciously disturbing than the next. Until, that is, the author’s deft and well-crafted finale, “The Devil at the Crossroads,” which brings the entire collection back around upon itself and ties everything together into a single tapestry that left me more than a little gleeful at its cleverness.

Being a true lover of horror, especially the sort of which exposes a terrifying side to our humanness, I found myself flipping the pages of Devil’s Jawbone and telling myself, “This story is my favorite.” Until I got to the end of the next and had to reevaluate my opinion. Do I have a favorite? If hard pressed I would say it’s “The Ties That Bind,” only because there’s a special sort of depravity in its romantic notions, which I found wickedly lovely.

As the horror genre isn’t a niche everyone frequents, I can’t say I’d recommend this novel to the tried and true romance aficionados, but I can say without an instant of hesitation that BJ Sheppard has offered enthusiasts of the morbid an unsafe haven called Devil’s Jawbone, a place I was more than glad to reside in for a while.

From the safe distance of my Kindle, of course.

TNA_Signature_Lisa

 

 

 

You can buy Devil’s Jawbone here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

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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

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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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5 Stars, Anna Butler, Reviewed by Jennifer, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Wilde City Press

Review: Heart Scarab by Anna Butler

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: Heart Scarab (Taking Shield: Book Two)

Author: Anna Butler

Publisher: Wilde City Press

Pages/Word Count: 300 Pages

At a Glance: Fast-paced, thrilling sequel to the first book in the series.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: In Heart Scarab, set more than a year and a half after Gyrfalcon, Shield Captain Bennet’s company is on a planet in imminent danger of being overrun by the Maess. Telnos is an unpleasant little planet, inhabited by religious fanatics in the festering marshlands and unregistered miners running illegal solactinium mines up in the hills. But the Maess want Telnos, and Bennet’s job is to get out as many civilians as he can. The enemy arrives before the evacuation is complete. Caught in a vicious fire fight, Bennet is left behind, presumed dead.

His family is grieving. Joss, his long-term partner, grieves with them; lost, unhappy, remorseful. First Lieutenant Flynn has no official ‘rights’ here. He isn’t family. He isn’t partner or lover.

All he is, is broken.

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Review: God, what a ride this book was. As a fan of the first book, I was thrilled to read this one. It gripped me from the beginning and took me for a ride until the very end. And I cannot wait for the third book.

After a failed attempt to evacuate the religious fanatics from Telnos before the Maess invade, Bennet is presumed dead; his signal is gone and Rosie has watched him fall after a strafing run. Left to pick up the pieces and move on are the people who loved him the most: his family, his lover Joss, his lieutenant Rosie, and Flynn.

Anna Butler is spectacular at characterization. While I had hated Joss in the first book, for the first half of this one I felt for him. She not only shows things from his perspective, but also switches to second person POV sometimes to show the depth of his thoughts and connect readers to Joss. The second half of the book I wanted to punch him. The same goes for Rosie. I felt for her and her unrequited love for Bennet, but I also hated how she couldn’t accept that he was in love with men. And Flynn. Oh, my poor Flynn. How can you not love him? The cocky flyboy who finds himself in love for the first time in his life only to discover his lover dead…and he’s unable to do anything about it.

While the first book deals a lot with the action part of science fiction, and the first half of this one does as well, the second half is more about the recovery process of loss, grief, and acceptance. How does one cope in a situation like this, where loved ones are gone for so long and placed in dangerous situations? I suppose it’s much like today’s military.

I highly recommend this book, though not without a few words of warning. First, you should definitely read the first book. The relationship between Bennet and Flynn is established in that book, and while T18 isn’t discussed much, it’s still integral to how their relationship began. And why would you want to miss out on Flynn finally falling in love? Second, though I do talk about romance, this book is not a romance. Yes, there are some romantic subplots, but as a whole, the book is science fiction and the relationships, while important, are not the main part of the book.

So, if you haven’t, go back and read the first book, and then come back for round two.

TNA_Signature_Jennifer

 

 

 

You can buy Heart Scarab here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

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Ethan Stone, Giveaways

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

ClosingRanksTourBanner

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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Jo Ramsey

Guest Post and Excerpt: Work Boots and Tees by Jo Ramsey

Jo Ramsey Banner

Today we’re pleased to have author Jo Ramsey here to talk a bit about her new Harmony Ink Press novel Work Boots and Tees, book five in the Dark Secrets and Hope series.

For those readers who may be sensitive to the topic, please be advised that Jo’s blog post broaches the subject of sexual assault in a non-explicit manner.

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When I started writing Work Boots and Tees, book five in my Deep Secrets and Hope series from Harmony Ink Press, I heard some very negative feedback about the idea from other authors. Especially those who had experienced sexual assault or other trauma.

I understand their point of view. I’m a sexual assault survivor myself. And Jim Frankel, the main character of Work Boots and Tees… well, if you’ve read the rest of the series, you know who he is. The bully who sent Evan Granger to the emergency room in Nail Polish and Feathers. The mastermind behind the plan to out Guillermo Garcia in Shoulder Pads and Flannel. And, worst of all, the guy who, as revealed at the end of Shoulder Pads and Flannel, sexually assaulted Chastaine Rollo and another girl, each of whom he was dating at the time. Both times, it was a case of Jim believing he had the girl’s consent because she hadn’t said no; both times, the girl went along with it because she was afraid of what Jim might do if she said no. And that means that both times, Jim committed a crime.

Jim has definitely done some seriously horrible things. No question about that. His bullying of Evan—and others—went on for years before he attacked Evan so severely. And there is never an excuse not to seek consent from a sexual partner. In Work Boots and Tees, I make no attempt to excuse anything Jim has done, but I do show reasons. And I do show Jim trying to start his life over in a new state, living with a cousin he didn’t know existed, after serving time for what he did to Chastaine and Maryellen, while coping with the belief that because of what he did to the girls, he is no better than the man who repeatedly molested him as a child.

Jim is sixteen and for ten years has been dealing with the aftermath of abuse that he hasn’t told anyone about, and the realization that he’s gay has caused him to question, and feel guilty about, whether he enjoyed the abuse. Again, his past trauma does not excuse what he’s done to others, and Jim would be the first to say so. On the other hand, he has a lot of life ahead of him. He knows what he’s done, and he wants to pay for it. Having worked with boys like Jim during my time as a teacher, I have a hard time denying the possibility of redemption for someone who desperately wants it and strives for it.

And that’s why I wrote this book.

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Work Boots and Tees-200Work Boots and Tees Blurb: When Jim Frankel looks in the mirror, he doesn’t see a sixteen-year-old boy. He sees a monster.

Weeks after being released from a month in juvenile detention, Jim is still trying to come to terms with the realization that he sexually assaulted two girls. He believed everything was consensual—until the day he was arrested. Now he’s served his time as far as the law is concerned, but nothing will erase Jim’s knowledge that he’s no better than the man who molested him at age six.

With his parents unwilling to take him in, Jim moves from Massachusetts to Michigan to live with Delia, his father’s cousin. She offers him a home, a job, and a chance at a new start. Jim spends his time helping Delia at her art supply shop and trying to avoid anyone who might have somehow learned of his crime. When Jim meets Man-Shik Park, he can’t accept Manny’s friendship. But Jim’s attempt to push Manny away might lead to the end of his new life before it’s even begun.

Work Boots and Tees is now available from Harmony Ink Press and through third-party retail sites in both print and e-book formats.

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Excerpt: One of the guys who remained came over to the counter carrying a sketchbook and a package of charcoal sticks. He was skinny and a lot shorter than me, with black hair and brown eyes. He looked Asian, but I couldn’t guess which country.

“Hello.” He put down the book and package and studied me.

I looked down at the stuff. “Is this all today?”

“I ordered some sketching pencils last week.” He smiled. “Manny Park. Delia said she’d hold them for me when they came in.”

“She’s out back.” I hesitated. With him standing right there, I couldn’t exactly walk away from the register. Not without pissing Delia off again. “Um….”

Delia came out of the back room, saving me from having to figure out what to do. “Hi, Manny. Your pencils were supposed to be in yesterday’s shipment, but I didn’t see them. I’ll contact the company and find out if they’re on back order.”

“Thank you. No hurry.” Manny looked at me again. “You’re new?”

“This is my nephew Jim.” Delia walked over to me. “He’s living with me now, so I put him to work. Jim, this is Manny Park, one of the town’s best artists.”

Manny’s cheeks reddened. “I just enjoy drawing. Jim, it’s nice to meet you. I haven’t seen you at school, have I?”

“I don’t go to school,” I mumbled, staring at the sketchbook cover. “Nice to meet you too.”

“I’ll ring up Manny’s stuff,” Delia said. “Go ahead out back.”

I walked away feeling like an idiot. Manny wasn’t even close to intimidating, but something about him made me nervous as hell.

Maybe it was the fact that I’d noticed he was good-looking. Kind of cute in a geeky way. I refused to think that way about any guy, which meant I probably shouldn’t be around Manny too much.

I didn’t have anything to do in the back room, so I sat at Delia’s desk and stared at the wall. I really wanted to figure out how to get a tablet or smartphone so I’d have something to do at the shop. Being with Delia was better than sitting alone in the trailer with only the TV for company, but when I had nothing to keep me busy, my brain started going off.

Between the whole thing with the pencils that morning and the stuff I’d brought up with Terry, I had to have a way to shut down my thoughts so I wouldn’t completely lose it.

“Are you okay?” Delia said from the doorway.

Heart racing, I jumped. I should have seen her walk into the room. I was facing the damn curtain. But until she spoke, I hadn’t even noticed her. “Don’t sneak up on me. Um, please.”

“Sorry.” She walked over to the desk. “You were pretty shaky earlier. Did something happen?”

“I had therapy.” If she assumed I was upset about what I’d said to Terry, she might not try to make me talk.

“I’m aware.” She paused. “How did it go?”

“I had a different therapist this time. I like her better than the guy. I actually talked to her, so I guess that’s good, right?”

“Yes, it is. You must have gotten into some tough subjects?”

“My life is a tough subject,” I muttered. “I don’t want to talk about it. I’m in therapy so you don’t have to listen to all my crap, right?”

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Author BioAbout the Author: Jo Ramsey is a former special education teacher who now writes full time. She firmly believes that everyone has it in them to be a hero, whether to others or in their own lives, and she tries to write books that encourage teens to be themselves and make a difference. Jo has been writing since age five and has been writing young adult fiction since she was a teen herself; her first YA book was published in 2010. She lives in Massachusetts with her two daughters, her husband, and two cats, one of whom likes to read over her shoulder.

To find out more about Jo Ramsey and her books, please visit her website, joramsey.com.

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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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5 Stars, Geoffrey Knight, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed by Jennifer, Wilde City Press

Review: The Cross of Sins by Geoffrey Knight

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: Fathom’s Five #1: The Cross of Sins

Author:  Geoffrey Knight

Publisher: Wilde City Press

Pages/Word Count: 233 Pages

At a Glance: A riveting adventure with danger, intrigue, and five sexy men.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: Somewhere in the world is a statue so sinful that a secret sect of the Church wants it destroyed at any cost. Somewhere in the Turkish desert, in the streets of London, and in the depths of Venice, are the clues to find it. And, somewhere in the hearts of five sexy, daring, thrill-seeking gay men, is the courage and die-hard determination to unravel one of the greatest mysteries of all time.

Meet Luca da Roma, an Italian model and expert in art, both ancient and modern; Dr Eden Santiago, Brazilian biologist, physician and genetic engineer; Shane Houston, a Texas cowboy and an expert in cartography; Will Hunter, a San Diego college student and football star, majoring in ancient history; and Jake Stone, an adventurer-for-hire from New York and the newest member of Professor Fathom’s team of hot gay adventure seekers.

Together, they are Fathom’s Five, traveling the world, solving ancient mysteries, uncovering priceless treasures, and getting into hot, sticky and sexy situations, while thwarting danger at every turn! From Venice to Vienna, from Tuscany to Turkey, from the South Pacific to the seas off Sicily, join in the heroic adventures, hunky sex and hot, high-octane action of Fathom’s Five.

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Review: I first read this series years ago when it came out in print, but I could never find book one. After reading the rest of the series, I finally got my hands on a copy of the first book. And, years after that, I see the series is being rereleased by Wilde City Press with a gorgeous new cover. Of course, I snapped it up to see if the adventure series I loved so much still held up to my memory.

I’m happy to report that it does. If you’re a fan of adventure, you really don’t need to look any further than this.

Some reviewers have compared the series to Indiana Jones, and to be honest, it’s an apt description. Fathom’s men (Luca, Eden, Shane, Will, and Jake) are very different in their day jobs, but when it comes to finding adventure and missing treasure, they’re very much like Indy. Except, well, gay.

It’s impossible to pick just one favorite guy, as each one has his charms that adds to the story. They all have different backgrounds and such well-developed personalities. And, of course, then there’s the wonderful sex between some of them. Can’t argue with that, right? If I had to pick my favorite, though, it would have to be Will. There’s something so intriguing about him. Most of the time when you picture a football star, you won’t imagine his major being ancient history, but that’s Will for you.

One word of advice to readers: if you’re looking for romance, this book (series, really) is not for you. While yes, there is sex, it’s not of the romantic variety. If you go into this book expecting that, you’re going to be disappointed, but don’t let that keep you from reading it. Just go in with the mindset that this is an adventure, a mystery, and you’ll enjoy it thoroughly. This book will take you around the world, from London to Venice to the middle of the desert to an erupting volcano. Your heart will race as the boys get themselves into dangerous situations and back out by the skin of their teeth, and then tumble into bed together.

As far as whether or not the book has changed much from the first version, I honestly cannot tell. It was so long ago that I read it that while I remember the basic story and all of the characters, no place jumped out at me as being different. If you’ve read the story before, I’d say read it again. First, the new cover art is gorgeous, and second, who wouldn’t want to relive a Fathom’s Five adventure?

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You can buy The Cross of Sins here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

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Eric Arvin, Giveaways

Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway: The Rascal by Eric Arvin

Rascal Blog Tour Banner

Welcome to The Rascal blog tour with Eric Arvin. We’re so pleased to be a part of helping Eric promote his newest novel, with an exclusive excerpt from the book for you, as well as a couple of great giveaways.

The Grand Prize on the tour is the chance for one lucky reader to win a $20 Gift Card to the e-tailer of choice.

The Runner-up Prize is the chance to win one of THREE e-copies of The Rascal–and, let me tell you, this is the perfect book for some October thrills and chills!

Here are the details:

  • Leave a relevant and thoughtful comment at each stop on the tour for a chance to win a $20 gift card. The titles of some of your favorite scary and spooktastic books? Loved the Goosebumps series as a kid? That counts. :)
  • Tour organizers will select a winner at each stop on 25 October 2015 for the $20 Gift Card. Winners of the THREE e-book copies from The Novel Approach will be selected on 13 October 2015.
  • Must be 18 years or older to enter.
  • Void where prohibited.
  • No residency restrictions apply.
  •  
    And that’s it. Enjoy this little teaser, and good luck!

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    TheRascalCover200x314Blurb: Lana is a faded movie star who lives alone in a big house on a hill that overlooks the sea. She has lived this way since the death of her daughter and the disappearance of her husband.

    Jeff and Chloe are a couple who live in a cabin below the big house. It was Chloe’s idea to strengthen their marriage; but she see’s now that it isn’t working. Jeff has become obsessed with the cabin and the old water well. Chloe only sees strangeness around her.

    One night while talking on the computer with Ethan, Jeff’s brother, a feeling of dread comes to the fore. When Ethan see’s a figure behind Chloe, he leaves his boyfriend and baby and sets out to save Jeff.

    Chloe, Ethan and Lana come together to fight an evil that would destroy Jeff. Will they suc-ceed or will all of them fall to the taste of a young cannibalistic ghost?

    Buy Link: Wilde City Press || Amazon Pre-Order

    The Rascal will be available from other third party e-tailers on 14 October.

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    Excerpt: Chloe Singh-Cane felt the town’s sense of reverence and expectation as she walked from the old, beaten Jeep into the small grocery store with her husband, Jeff. The few people on the sidewalks abruptly stopped what they were doing and looked at the strangers as if in rapt gratitude. Their expressions verged on hunger. Chloe walked as close to Jeff as he would allow her. His personal space was still precious to him where she was involved.

    The store clerk, a razor-thin woman with willows for fingers, watched them from beneath the rims of her glasses. A pleasant, if knowing smile never shifted or fell. There was no one else in the store.

    It was a small cubicle of a shop that had been there since the town’s founding. Like all of the structures on the main street, it seemed stoic and stuck, as if the shelves and walls were still adjusting to fluorescent lighting and the computer age was but science fiction. Arts and crafts were sold alongside loaves of bread and bags of candy. Individual colas could still be purchased out of an icebox. There was a smell of nostalgic comfort: wood stoves and wax candles.

    Jeff went to the pharmacy aisle and picked up a bottle of aspirin. It had been a long drive and his back was hurting him. Chloe had volunteered to take over, but he shrugged her off as if her suggestion was an annoyance.

    Chloe wandered around the store, happy to stretch her legs. She was still surrounded by silence, but at least this was a new silence. In the Jeep, Jeff’s silence had been covered by rock music. In the store, it was disguised by pop-flavored piano music and scented candles. She picked up a bag of candy corn and a bag of sour gummies.

    Jeff was waiting at the cash register. He had a cold bottle of root beer to wash down the aspirin. The clerk put down the tabloid magazine she was thumbing through and continued to smile at them as she rang the items up. The lighting behind her caused her long fingers to cast thin shadows.

    “Just passing through?” she asked, her voice a scratchy, nicotine-lined thing.

    “No,” Chloe offered. “We bought a cottage up on the hill.”

    The clerk’s bagging of the items slowed to a crawl. Her eyes swallowed them. “The little place up on Bad Luck Hill?”

    “Is that what it’s called? Why in heaven’s name is it called Bad Luck Hill?”

    The clerk’s item bagging picked up. “Silly reasons. Or none at all. Who can remember how things get their names?”

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    EricArvinHeadshotAbout the Author: “Some of [Arvin’s] work is as direct as Hemingway with the sensitivity of O’Connor or Shields, and yet others nuanced as if Maupin wrote a letter to Penthouse.” – Thom Fitzgerald, director THE HANGING GARDEN 

    Eric Arvin resides in the same sleepy Indiana river town where he grew up. He graduated from Hanover College with a Bachelors in History. He has lived, for brief periods, in Italy and Australia. He has survived brain surgery and his own loud-mouthed personal demons. Eric is the author ofmWoke Up In A Strange Place, Subsurdity, Simple Men, Galley Proof, and various other sundry and not-so-sundry writings. He intends to live the rest of his days with tongue in cheek and eyes set to roam.

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    Tour Schedule: 

    7 Oct – Prism Book Alliance

    8 Oct – The Novel Approach

    9 Oct – Rhys Ford

    10 Oct – Joyfully Jay

    11 Oct – Love Bytes

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    4 Stars, Jack Bumgardner, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed by Maryann, Wilde City Press

    Review: Underneath It All by Jack Bumgardner

    Underneath It All

    Underneath It All

    Title: Underneath It All

    Author: Jack Bumgardner

    Publisher: Wilde City Press

    Pages/Word Count: 53 Pages

    At a Glance: I found Underneath It All to be a good short story for a new mystery series, full of action and danger, fast paced and suspenseful.

    Reviewed By: Maryann

    Blurb: When Crosby Comeaux, the owner of the only gay detective agency in New Cypress can’t even pay his light bill he decides that it’s time to close up shop. But, Armin Bleu, a cute blond with evidence of a double murder, convinces him to take on one last case. As Crosby investigates the murder it becomes clear that the motive was not just kinky sex gone wrong but something much more sinister. His journey takes him into a circle of men who have devised a plot that could literally destroy New Cypress and everything he loves—including his memories.

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    Review: Author Jack Bumgardner is a first time author for me. I found Underneath It All to be a good short story for a new mystery series, full of action and danger, fast paced and suspenseful—it was a page turner for me— and full of surprises too, from a sad relationship between a father and a son to the motives for the murders, which were not what I expected.

    The MC is Crosby Comeaux, who used to be a cop but now is a PI, with a failing business in New Cypress. He takes a chance on Armin Bleu, who has evidence of a murder. Crosby finds himself facing continuing harassment from an old co-worker, along with betrayal, and suspects who are greedy to the point they would destroy New Cypress.

    Crosby’s character isn’t unique, he’s just a man trying to do his job and survive from day to day, but he’s sympathetic and his heart is still hanging on to a loss that may never be replaced. I didn’t want this story to end because there is a still a lot to learn about Crosby Comeaux.

    As I am such a big fan of mysteries, I would really be interested to see what cases Jack Bumgardner creates for Crosby Comeaux next.

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    You can buy Underneath It All here:

    Amazon US

    Amazon US

    Barnes & Noble

    Barnes & Noble

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    4 Stars, Genta Sebastian, Reviewed by Lisa, Shadoe Publishing, Young Adult

    Review: A Man’s Man by Genta Sebastian

    Amazon US

    Amazon US

    Title: A Man’s Man

    Author: Genta Sebastian

    Publisher: Shadoe Publishing

    Pages/Word Count: 152 Pages

    At a Glance: With a narrator who isn’t always easy to like, let alone love, A Man’s Man gives its young narrator the room to discover what being a man’s man truly means.

    Reviewed By: Lisa

    Blurb: “It’s like this, see. My dad’s a fag, his boyfriend’s a queer, and I think I might be gay. I mean, I think it’s catching or something.”

    When thirteen year old R.J. decides to turn his dad straight, unintended consequences mess everything up. To make things right he will have to figure out for himself what it means to be A Man’s Man.

    (For YA readers age 12-16)

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    Review: The narrator of A Man’s Man, R.J. Davis, is a boy carrying around a lot of hurt and anger. Our evidence? The opening paragraph of the book, which you’ll notice is also the opening paragraph of the blurb.

    Written with her intended audience in mind, Sebastian does a fantastic job of keeping things simple and straightforward in this narrative, as well as making these characters and their story relatable to her YA readers. As adults, we often reflect upon how brutal kids can be to one another, but sometimes we have to acknowledge how horrific adults can be too. In snide remarks masked as jokes and extremism masquerading as religion, we’re forced to recognize that hatred, bigotry, and discrimination can be found any and everywhere—even as close as our schools and communities—and this book relays that without sugarcoating it in the slightest.

    The author presents these scenarios through R.J.’s narration, and as an adult reader, I don’t mind admitting I cringed at every disparaging remark and nasty epithet flung so carelessly, especially by R.J. himself. This isn’t a comfortable read for those of us who think of ourselves as being politically correct, but this book and its subject aren’t meant to be comfortable, nor is A Man’s Man intended to show anything but the ways R.J.’s relationship with his father is colored by the boy’s perceptions. In that goal, the author succeeds.

    After his parents divorced, R.J.’s father moved to Minnesota while R.J. and his mother remained behind in San Diego—a divorce that was instigated by his father finally acknowledging the truth of his own sexuality. Establishing plausibility for R.J.’s bitterness is achieved by tapping into the reader’s empathy for the boy whose parents’ best intentions had left him feeling abandoned by his father; feeling displaced by his father’s partner Stephen (whom R.J. introduces to people as his uncle); feeling betrayed by a father who obviously (in R.J.’s opinion) never loved the mother R.J. adores—a mother who has died too soon. Which leaves the boy feeling abandoned once again, even as he’s exiled to Minnesota to live with a father who not only seems somewhat like a stranger to R.J. but is also the object of the boy’s intense scorn.

    We witness R.J.’s grief present as the actions of a boy who is sometimes difficult to like, I don’t mind saying. His attitude certainly makes him an unreliable narrator where Robert and Stephen’s relationship is concerned, a relationship that’s anathema to the boy and, were their community to discover the true nature of the men’s living arrangements, it would open them up to the sort of ridicule they have been disinclined to test. That is, until R.J. makes it his mission to break up Robert and Stephen so his father will be straight again.

    As I was reading this book, I found myself wondering how many of the events I should take as dramatic license and how much should be acknowledged as the believable actions of a teenage boy who didn’t grow up with two dads but was introduced to it more or less at a time when he’s only just becoming aware of what sexuality even is—his own included. How much should be acknowledged as the actions of a boy who needed to have his father to himself, weighed against the actions of a boy who equated his father’s being gay as being the direct result of R.J.’s feeling abandoned—when in truth, Robert’s embracing his homosexuality, the subsequent divorce, his moving away and distancing himself from his son were merely the byproducts of two parents whose love for their child and respect for each other was all misinterpreted by a boy who was too young to understand. R.J.’s naïveté rang absolutely true to me in his belief that his dad would quit being gay if only the temptation of the man he loves could be removed from the equation. R.J.’s anger rang true as well, and served to make Robert and Stephen our sympathetic protagonists in the story. Does that make R.J. the antagonist? Yes, absolutely. But this is also a story of redemption and an opportunity for R.J. to grow into his feelings once he learns what being a man’s man truly means.

    Although Genta Sebastian’s A Man’s Man is labeled as a Young Adult novella suitable for ages 12 to 16, I can’t begin to tell you how much I appreciated this story from the perspective of an adult. With no action or fantasy in the plot, I’m not sure how well kids will relate to the story, but it’s certainly a lesson that life isn’t always easy, that losing a parent is hard (at any age), that being a teenager sometimes feels impossible, and finding the courage to finally speak up and right a wrong is everything this novella’s title is about.

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    You can buy A Man’s Man here:

    Amazon US

    Amazon US

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    5 Stars, Edmond Manning, Literary Fiction, Pickwick Ink Publishing, Reviewed by Sammy

    Review: King John by Edmond Manning

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    Amazon US

    Amazon US

    Title: King John (The Lost And Founds: Book Four)

    Author: Edmond Manning

    Publisher: Pickwick Ink Publishing

    Pages/Word Count: 245 Pages

    At a Glance: Every second with this story is a second well spent.

    Reviewed By: Sammy

    Blurb: English attorney Alistair Robertson can’t quite believe an astonishing tale of kingship and transformation he hears at Burning Man, the annual counter-culture art festival in the Black Rock.

    Who are the Found Kings? Is “being kinged” as magical as it sounds?

    Determined to find the mysterious garage mechanic named Vin who helps men “remember who they were always meant to be,” Alistair catches his quarry amid the extravagant sculptures, fire worshipers, mutant cars, and lavish costumes. After searching for three years, he’ll finally get to ask the question burning inside him: “Will you king me?”

    Wandering together through the desert, Vin Vanbly and Alistair explore Burning Man’s gifting culture and exotic traditions, where they meet the best and worst of their fellow burners. Alistair’s overconfidence in Vin’s manipulative power collides with Vin’s obsessive need to save a sixteen-year-old runaway from a nightmarish fate, and the two men spiral into uncontrollable, explosive directions.

    In this fourth adventure of The Lost and Founds, beneath the sweltering summer sun and the six billion midnight stars, one truth emerges, searing itself on their hearts: in the desert, everything burns.

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    Review: I must admit–I am not very clever, not when it comes to riddles or subtle clues. For some reason, while I can often suss out who the bad guy is in a mystery novel, I really do very poorly at picking up clues in any other form of writing. For this reason, I hesitated to review the latest novel in Edmond Manning’s Lost and Founds series, King John. I was afraid I could not do it justice–not give it the credit it deserved as being a clever and multi-layered work of fiction. With these thoughts in the back of my mind I moved on, knowing full well I would read this lyrically beautiful piece of fiction–whether for the purposes of reviewing it or not. There is a good reason for this. You see, I am a “kingite”, a hardcore fan of this series and this author. And, yes, I just made that title “kingite” up, and I rather like it!

    So, here would be the place I attempt to provide a succinct synopsis of this incredible tome that spans a mere few days but feels as though it has exposed more raw emotional material than ever before. Returning to the place where he has truly felt at home for the only time in his life, Vin partakes of the Burning Man festival held in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada, a seven day exploration of self expression that has few boundaries and is geared toward inclusion, self-reliance, and the idea that they will leave no trace of themselves after the end of their time in the desert. Everything that can burns in the end, including the gigantic man who is built to herald in the event and mark its closing.

    Vin meets all manner of people, but as in the past with this man, there is always an edge of worry—for you see, this is not his first year, and he has a reputation that precedes him—he has made an enemy. A ranger discovered Vin many years before when he broke the law and jumped the barrier that keeps the burning man participants safe from wandering off and getting lost in the desert. The fence is also a way to contain those who attend the festival so that there can be some stability in what appears to be well established chaos. The rangers do not like rule breakers, and poor Vin is a veteran rule breaker

    So he moves about the festival, happy in many ways and yet cautious, for this is the Vin we know from previous novels: controlled, careful, self-critical and condemning, lost while still being the near perfect guide for men in need of rediscovering their kingship. While this was not meant to be a king weekend, Vin will be approached by a man desperate to become just that—a found king. Alistair is an enigma, a British lawyer on American soil, who has met one of Vin’s success stories, another Found King, Liam.

    Alistair is positive he knows it all—has got a fix on Vin and his many bags of tricks—his “magic”. Alistair pursues Vin, who almost grudgingly gives in and sets the wheels in motion for this Lost King to find his way to cross over and return to his destiny. But Alistair is full of questions and resists Vin’s best attempts to guide him on the right path. In fact, Alistair will be the linchpin to cracking wide open a time in Vin’s past that he has kept hidden for so long. Vin will be forced to share a memory that, to this day, still has the power to gut his soul and remind him of the failure he is so certain he is—a Lost King who will never be found.

    King John begins slowly, unwrapping the festival and establishing its background, setting the scene for us. Even when Alistair arrives to make Vin’s final days at Burning Man a frantic scramble for setting up a king weekend, the story almost lazily takes on the challenge set before Vin. Then something happens. I am not sure at what point this story became so intense, but the moment it did, I could not put this book down. So much was at stake, suddenly, lives in peril, a dredged up past threatening to destroy the fragile equilibrium that Vin clings to in order to not see how horribly he does not belong. All of a sudden this is not about Alistair, but rather, about survival…and not only Vin’s.

    This was perhaps the most gut wrenching King novel to date. In previous books, we had been privy to Vin’s great moments of self-doubt and frantic worry that he was not going to do right by his Lost King—that he would be the thing to prevent a king from crossing over due to his fumbling, heavy handed acts that were meant to aid his king rather than hinder. This was the Vin we had grown used to—the one that we would shout at again and again to stop berating himself, stop worrying, stop running away from his own destiny. In this novel, author Edmond Manning has done the unthinkable—he has lulled us into this false sense of security. He’s come along side us and, with a nudge and a wink, assured us that Vin was just doing that “Vin stuff” he does and all would work out in the end. Till now. Till King John. Till an ending so shocking that I actually dropped my Kindle. No, say it is not so, Mr. Manning—say it is all just another elaborate clue that will lead to a happy-ever-after for our Vin–our Lost King who surely will get found.

    Instead, we got… I am afraid you will have to read this novel to complete that sentence for yourself. Is this long trek into madness and mayhem in the desert worth the emotional wreckage it might leave you with? I must say, dear reader, it is. There are such wonderful moments in this story, and there are such heart breaking times as well. However, it is the journey—as always it is the journey that will make you race through this novel and, once again, recognize a piece of your own humanity within its pages. I bid you calm winds and cooler days as you traverse this desert with Vin. Every second with this story is a second well spent.

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    You can buy King John here:

    Amazon US

    Amazon US

    All Romance eBooks

    All Romance eBooks

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    5 Stars, Bey Deckard, Horror, Reviewed by Lisa, Self-Published

    Release Day Review: Better the Devil You Know by Bey Deckard

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    Better the Devil You KnowTitle: Better the Devil You Know

    Author: Bey Deckard

    Publisher: Self-Published

    Pages/Word Count: 39000 Words

    At a Glance: Sick, twisted, brutal, filled with the unexpected, and I loved it.

    Reviewed By: Lisa

    Blurb: Byron is tall, handsome, well spoken, wealthy, and has outstanding taste in wine and food. You’ll be impressed by his impeccable attire and eloquence in conversation, ranging from Baroque art to the newest advances in pharmacology. With his charming smile and elegant manners, Byron truly is the perfect date… and who doesn’t love a man who appreciates opera?

    What’s the catch, you ask?

    Just this: if Byron finds you suitable, he will subject you to utterly depraved forms of torture.

    No, I’m not talking about S&M.

    Byron will mutilate, rape, and then kill you. Don’t think that you will survive the encounter, because you won’t. He has a perfect record.

    Intrigued? Would you like me to arrange a rendezvous? It has to be in the next few days because he’s leaving on a trip south to much warmer climes, and his calendar will be completely full.

    Yes? Very good. I will make a reservation for two under the name of Smith.

    Who am I? I’m Gloria, his personal assistant.

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    Review: First off, let me say that one of the things I will never do is read a book that’s dark and twisted (a lot twisted), or one that contains material which some may consider triggers—or, situations that may just plain offend a person’s sensibilities—and then say, unequivocally, “You have got to read this book!” We all have comfort zones and boundaries, and pushing those boundaries doesn’t make anyone braver or more intellectual or more open-minded than someone who chooses not to do so. Having said that, I personally have been waiting a long time for this book in the M/M genre.

    Okay, not this book, specifically (I’m still waiting for someone to write an M/M Jack the Ripper novel), but rather, a no-holds-barred psychological horror story along the lines of “I ate his liver with some Fava beans and a nice chianti,” only more graphic in detail and agitating in its horrifying displays of insanity. What I’ve been waiting for is a novel that would engage and repulse, all at the same time, and Bey Deckard has delivered in a big way with Better the Devil You Know, a perfectly twisted tale that looks at evil through the eyes of a serial killer, the devil, and questions a psychopath’s ability to be redeemed at the hands of Lucifer himself.

    Byron Danielsen, former doctor and this story’s antagonist, is a sick son of a bitch (if you’ll pardon my français). John Wayne Gacy? Ted Bundy? Jeffrey Dahmer? Pfft. Byron makes their crimes seem uninspired and amateurish by comparison, and I’m in awe of Deckard’s imagination—which is one of the reasons I love this niche of fiction. No, I’m not living vicariously in any way through the genre, I’m not at all titillated by the extremes of perversion herein, but I am fascinated by the abnormal psychology of the depraved and irredeemable. When they say “truth is stranger than fiction” (in an ironic bit of perfection, a quote attributed to Lord Byron), they aren’t talking about books like Better the Devil You Know. It’s difficult enough to comprehend when we see crimes of a particularly brutal and aberrant nature on the news, but when we read a story such as this, all we can do is feel grateful the author’s imagination isn’t one born of experience…or fruitful as inspiration.

    Byron is… what is Byron? He is repugnant yet is possessed of a certain charm and refinement, which is what makes him such a dangerous beast—what makes so many serial killers dangerous, in fact—their ability to blend in and to attract victims by preying on our inability to see what lurks behind the veil of normalcy. He has the advantage of luring his victims to him, masquerading as a human, if a little odd, when, in fact, there is a monster lurking beneath a hotbed of psychosis. That is what makes this book, and those like it, so terrifying—we know without question that human monsters exist. And his crimes against these innocents are of a nature so foul—if we can really measure murder by degrees of obscenity—that I was left with no other choice but to keep turning pages to see how the author would bring this story to a conclusion. And, I persevered gladly.

    In an interesting genre-jump, the plot soon merges with the metaphysical when Byron must give the devil his due. Literally. The Prince of Darkness aims to make Byron pay for his depravity, sending him to Hell, where Byron must endure the ultimate in karmic payback in an effort to harvest even the smallest seeds of regret for his crimes. In an even more interesting twist, Lucifer becomes a sympathetic character when pitted against Byron, which was a fantastic juxtaposition in the flipping of roles, but remember, he is Lucifer, so even in our seeing him from a softer angle, he’s still Satan, still the Lord of Flies who is determined to make Byron remember the one victim he seems to have erased from his memories.

    There is no doubt this book is compelling. There is no doubt this story is well written, never once sugarcoating Byron’s crimes or insanity. There is also no doubt whatsoever that this book is not a romance in any way. Nor is this a book that will appeal to anyone but the reader who loves a chilling and macabre and thoroughly bent antagonist.

    Does Byron redeem himself in the end? Mmm… I shan’t even attempt to weigh out an opinion on that one. But, to quote another famous author, “Please, sir, I want some more.”

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    You can buy Better the Devil You Know here:

    All Romance eBooks

    All Romance eBooks

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    A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

    Here’s a Sneak Peek at the Coming Week

    Sneak Peek

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

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

    Here’s what’s on tap!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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