A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Here’s a Sneak Peek at the Coming Week

Holiday Sneak Peek

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Welcome to the buffet.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s where Checkmate Ever After comes in.

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

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

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

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

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

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

You are extraordinary.


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

Blurb:

2nd Edition (Books One – Three)

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

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

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

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

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


About the Author:

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


Follow the Checkmate Ever After Tour!

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

12/3 – Tali Spencer

12/5 – Sinfully Gay Romance Book Reviews

12/5 – Erin McRae and Racheline Maltese

12/7 – Aidee Ladnier

12/9 – Genre Talk on The Novel Approach

12/12 – Gaylist Book Reviews

12/15 – Checkmate Ever After Release Day!

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

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The Fine Print:

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

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A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Here’s a Sneak Peek at the Coming Week

Sneak Peek

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Followed by author JA Rock on The Subs Club blog Tour

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No one can outrun destiny or the gods.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lightning seared into the inky cloud.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DSP Publications

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

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Chrysalis CorporationChrysalis Corporation

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

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

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

Chrysalis Corporation is available for preorder now from DSP Publications.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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

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A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Here’s a Sneak Peek at the Coming Week

Sneak Peek

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

Here’s what’s coming up:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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DSPP's Genre Talk, Lissa Kasey

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

DSP Publications

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

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Evolution: GenesisEvolution: Genesis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What am I supposed to do with this?”

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

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

Everyone stared at me.

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

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

Bombs?

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

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

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

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

“Do you have any weapons on you?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Vampire.”

The word froze me in my tracks.

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

“Shh.” Lee hushed me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Stop!” I screamed at the creature.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Where are you?”

“Old Town. What’s left of it.”

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

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

“Shit. Are you alone?”

“No. Norms everywhere.”

“Can you shift?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What if PG finds me first?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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

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

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

DSP Publications

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

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ROMANCE—12th Century Style
J Tullos Hennig

So.

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

Yes, I said. Why not?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kids those days!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pax~ JTH

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Here’s a Sneak Peek at the Coming Week

Sneak Peek

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

Here’s what awaits!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DSP Publications

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

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Purpose_headerbanner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Larry Benjamin:

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

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

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

Buy It: AMAZON

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

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

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

Shira Anthony:

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

One of my own paranormal books:

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

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

23755911One of my favorite Paranormal books would be:

Broken Ink, by Jack Pyle

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

 

Scott Coatsworth:

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

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

Buy it: AMAZON

 

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

Buy it: AMAZON

 

Rick R. Reed:

What type of paranormal stories I like:

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

One of my paranormal books:

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

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

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

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

Buy it: AMAZON

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

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

Buy it: AMAZON

Amy Lane:

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

Immortal-AmyLaneFS

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

Buy It: AMAZON

51HRDebyfzL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_

 

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

Buy It: AMAZON

 

Jordan Hawk:

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

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

Get It Free: AMAZON

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

Buy It: AMAZON

 

Cheryl Headford:

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

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

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

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

Buy It: AMAZON || HARMONY INK

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

Buy It: LMW BOOKS

Charlie Cochet:

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

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

Buy It: AMAZON

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

Buy It: AMAZON

 

Lexi Ander:

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

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

Buy It: LESS THAN THREE PRESS

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

Buy It: AMAZON

M.A. Church:

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

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

Buy It: AMAZON

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

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

Buy it: PRIDE PUBLISHING

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PurposeFSPublisher: DSP Publications

Cover Artist: Angsty G

Release Date: October 6, 2015

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

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

Preorder Links:

DSP PUBLICATIONS || OMNILIT

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Watch the Trailer:

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About the Author:

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Enjoy The Journey!

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

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

Follow Andrew:

On his website: andrewqgordon.com

On Facebook: facebook.com/andrewqugordon

On Twitter: @andrewqgordon,

Or just email him: andrewqgordon@gmail.com

Books:

From Wayward Ink Publishing:

A Closed Door

From DSP Publications:

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

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

Purpose:

From Dreamspinner Press:

(Un)Masked

Self published:

Ashes of Life

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The Giveaway:

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

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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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DSPP's Genre Talk, Luchia Dertien

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

DSP Publications

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Renaire is unimpressed. “That’s it?”

Delaurier frowns. “What do you mean?”

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

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

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

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

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

“There was a threat. I removed it.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can follow Luchia via Twitter

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

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A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Here’s a Sneak Peek at the Coming Week!

Sneak Peek

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

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

Here’s what we have on tap:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DSP Publications

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

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a demon insideA Demon Inside

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carole: Tell us about A Demon Inside

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And slams into a mirror.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Deja Black, DSP Publications, DSPP's Genre Talk

DSPP Presents: Genre Talk with Carole Cummings and Deja Black

DSP Publications

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carole: Will there be more of Dan and Aiden?

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

Carole: And will there be more unique supernatural beings?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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EXCERPT: BROKEN BONES:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Danny Boy! What. The. Fuck.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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DSP Publications, DSPP's Genre Talk, Patricia Correll

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

DSP Publications

GENRE TALK WITH CAROLE CUMMINGS AND PATRICIA CORRELL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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EXCERPT: LATE SUMMER, EARLY SPRING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hiro, Iwata thought desperately.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can follow Patricia via her blog or Google+.

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

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Carole Cummings, DSP Publications, DSPP's Genre Talk

DSP Publications Presents: Genre Talk with J Tullos Hennig and Carole Cummings

DSP Publications

Hullo, J Tullos Hennig here, one of DSP Publications’ genre authors, temporarily taking the interviewer reins from Carole Cummings. There is something akin to kismet in my being the one to put Carole in the Genre Talk hotseat, since I sort of talked her into the gig in the first place. Because I knew she’d be bloody brilliant at it—almost as good as she is at telling a damn-fine story.

But before we get on with the interview, let’s have a glimpse of Carole’s latest damn-fine story:

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BlueOnBlackColor_resizedBlue on Black: Kimolijah Adani—Class 2 gridTech, beloved brother, most promising student the Academy’s ever been privileged to call their own, genius mechanical gridstream engineer, brilliantly pioneering inventor… and dead man. But that’s what happens when a whiz kid messes with dynamic crystals and, apparently, comes to the attention of Baron Petra Stanslo. Young and brilliant and killed for his revolutionary designs, Kimolijah Adani had been set to change the world with his impossible train that runs on nothing more than gridstream locked in a crystal that shouldn’t even be possible but nonetheless works.

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

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Jen: So, Carole, it sounds like you’ve all the marks of a fine Speculative tale in Blue on Black. What draws you to write in that genre?

Carole: Well, Speculative Fiction is a genre that’s pretty inclusive—SciFi, Fantasy, Paranormal, Steampunk… pretty much anything that relies on the incredible, the impossible, the extraordinary. Spec Fic uses things that aren’t found in our world—magic, alternate technologies, alternate races—and other fantastical elements in storytelling, wherein the fantastical elements themselves are part of the actual story and setting, not merely sidenotes or plot devices. That generally equals a lot of worldbuilding, which is probably the main component of Spec Fic that initially reeled me in and still keeps me coming back. It’s eye-opening and really quite fascinating to read about imagined worlds with completely different beings, histories, sociologies, religions, geographies, etc. To create such worlds and characters, and still maintain a reader’s ability to identify with it all, is a skill that’s beautiful to me to witness. It’s the sameness and the difference—I can relate to the sameness and be challenged by the difference. I think it’s helped me over the years to cultivate my empathy and to make me an open-minded person who’s willing to see all sides and take individual history into account when forming opinions.

Jen: This book focuses upon a dyadic between two male characters, and your previous releases do as well. I imagine the burning question is: why?

Carole: God, you have no idea how often I get that question, which is why I always ask it on Genre Talk, so authors can have a place to point and say, “here, go look there and don’t ask me again”. And I actually sometimes kind of wish I could write things that would contribute to the dearth of female heroes in today’s literature. But that right there is the reason, and though I do have some personal rationale for why I write what I do, the broader motivations are societal.

I was born into one of the first generations that told women we were equal, that we could demand equal treatment and equal pay, and that we didn’t always have to be the princess or the damsel. We could be the hero too. But at the same time, as a voracious reader, the reading material available to me had not yet caught up with that concept. It still hasn’t caught up. So in my preferred reading genre—Spec Fic, natch—I was still seeing only male heroes. John Carter, Frodo and Aragorn, Roland Deschain, Arthur and Merlin, all of the protagonists written by Bradbury and Asimov and Vonnegut, etc. And since that was all I was given, and since there were no female characters with whom I could identify in those works, I eventually learned to identify with the bolder, more forthright characteristics of the male protagonists. Having also been somewhat rough-and-tumble as a child, and having been surrounded by brothers and male cousins, and having been gifted with the kind of observation skills necessary to write characters in general, I felt like I understood men more than I understood women. So that’s what I started writing. It’s also why I don’t fit in with the Romance presses—my stories are more in line with most mainstream Spec Fic stories, with the exception of the fact that the love interest of the male protagonist also happens to be a male protagonist.

Jen: I understand what you’re saying, believe me! Let’s expand a bit more into the society—and story—in Blue on Black.

Carole: It’s… hard to describe. Kind of Fantasy, kind of SciFi, kind of Steampunk… it’s an amalgam. I like to call it Cowboys and Tesla Trains (thank you Jen, *wink wink*) because though it’s a tongue-in-cheek description, it’s also kind of accurate. I also like to call it BoB because it was a very difficult story for me to write and it sometimes made me feel better to say BoB is being a bastard today.

Anyway, it’s a story mainly about control and the kinds of people who want it, the kinds of people who have it, why they would seek it and what they would do with it. It’s not a pretty story, and I’m told some of the concepts might be triggery for some, but I feel like it says some important things about abusive situations, about what kinds of people might get caught up in one (anyone), what they’ll do to survive it (anything), and where the limits might hide (if there are any). It challenges what we would think of as “normal” and “healthy”, and shows us people who may function outside of those narrow parameters, but who should not be judged by them.

Jen: And Blue on Black is being published through DSP Publications, Dreamspinner Press’s imprint for nonromance genre novels. You’ve already talked some about the relationship in Blue on Black; what makes this novel a better fit for genre Spec Fic as opposed to genre Romance?

Carole: Basically, because I just don’t write romance. I never have. And I’ve tried! And while I like a good romance as much as the next person, my interests lie in characterization and watching a different world develop, in discovering what the characters are like and where they came from, watching them interact with their world and finding the similarities and differences in how we interact with our own. I love the possibilities of Spec Fic, and character-driven stories are like good wine for me. And since I write what I like to read, my stories—in this case Blue on Black—tend more toward exploring those possibilities and finding out whether or not the two protagonists will grow together during that exploration. That means the relationship takes a backseat to plot and worldbuilding and character development, which pretty much disqualifies it as a romance.

DSP Publications was a bloody godsend for me, because I often found myself disheartened by comments and reviews that basically said WTF, what’s all this worldbuilding doing in my Romance? and now I at least have the comfort of knowing that if that’s not what they were looking for, it’s their own fault for not paying attention to what my publisher is all about. ;)

Jen: It sounds as though the evolution of Blue on Black has its own story. Share some of that, if you would; give us a peek into some earlier concepts. Did it always resemble the present story? Was it always Blue on Black, or did it morph from something else entirely?

Carole: Augh. This story snuck up behind me, thunked me on the head and dragged me to my laptop, and by the time I realized what it was and where it was going, it already had me chained to the keyboard and wouldn’t let me put it down. This never ever happens to me, but it quite literally jumped me in a dream with the image of Bas up on top of a train (Karl Urban in Priest may or may not have had something to do with that image), with wild currents of electricity whipping around him and something sinister waiting at the end of the tracks. The rest is unending research into Tesla and his genius, and my own wild imagination, all peppered liberally with whinging and dragging my feet. (Did I mention this story was really hard to write?)

Jen: Though it doesn’t sound as though you found it hard to settle that Blue on Black was to centre on a relationship between two men. Out of all the excellent reasons to explore that dynamic, which ones played a necessary part here?

Carole: All of the stories that come to me these days involve the M/M dynamic, for the reasons stated above, but I think this one in particular needed it because a woman caught in the situation in which one of the protagonists finds himself would likely be, sadly, judged harshly and unfairly (and I’ll be interested to see how the character Mari is received). That’s all I’m going to say on that because a) more would be spoilery, and b) I don’t want to get into some kind of MRA –vs– SJW kerfuffle (though that’s admittedly highly unlikely in this genre and in this particular venue, but still).

As a general comment on M/M as a genre, and why Blue on Black is now a part of it, I think my participation is necessary because every story that features love between two people of the same sex—or someone of color, or someone with a disability, or someone whose “normal” is not your “normal” or my “normal”—is another tick in the advocacy column, another step toward acceptance and equality. It opens eyes and opens discussion. And I like to think I’m contributing to that in my own small ways.

Jen: In your opinion, what is the best trend you’re seeing in Spec Fic publishing today?

Carole: The best trend, I think, is the increased selection of reading material brought about by the advent of small presses. I have been unimpressed for a couple decades now by most of what’s coming out of the bigger NY publishers, and small presses are starting to assuage my unhappiness at getting less and less of what I want to read. Small presses so far are welcoming a lot of what the bigger presses turn their noses up at, and that’s awesome for me, because I want my stories, damn it!

Jen: So then, it also begs the question: what of the worst trend?

Carole: The whole “shorter is better” thing that’s been taking over every genre lately and treating character development like it’s some kind of superfluous indulgence. That says an event can’t be an interior revelation but must be some kind of physical exploit, and action can’t be an intense conversation but must be a car chase or a gunfight. It discounts nuance, it devalues subtext, it forfeits depth and caters to short attention spans. Spec Fic is supposed to challenge readers, not kowtow to them. Intricate plots, in-depth character development, immersive worldbuilding—I want it all, and I’m not getting much of it these days, though the small presses are making it easier to find now.

When I find a book or a series the size of a cinderblock, and the blurb gets me all a-quiver, and the writing makes me drool, I do a Snoopy-dance. I get visions of a lazy weekend (or even a week!) sinking into someone else’s world, getting to know some new characters and finding out everything about them so their reactions will be something that a) makes sense, and b) I can understand, if not empathize with. (Don’t slap a couple Elves into modern day NYC and call it Fantasy—tell me why those Elves are there, who they are, how their presence can make sense in this world and why it matters.) But the trend these days is toward “short and sweet” and cutting out character development and worldbuilding in favor of space battles and explosions. Publishing houses—even some of the smaller ones just coming up—don’t seem to want to make readers think, and a lot of readers will cut a bitch if you try to make them, and that’s a bloody shame, because that’s what Spec Fic is for! I don’t need to be dragged through a story behind a speeding train—I need to care about the characters, and if there is no time and there are no words spent on telling me why I should, there’s no real point for me. Today’s “tell it in 60K or less” means I don’t get many of the in-depth epics I grew up with, because authors aren’t allowed to elaborate unless they’re Stephen King or George R. R. Martin. And I miss my epics.

Jen: Me, too. Let’s go light a candle for them… and nurse a drink! But first I’d better do you proud, and be the proper interviewer, and share a bit from yours.

Because Blue on Black is epic-ly entertaining. Continue on, Fair Readers, and see for yourself. (And links available after the excerpt, natch.)

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EXCERPT – BLUE ON BLACK: It doesn’t start like this:

See, the thing is, it isn’t supposed to go this way.

He’s a goddamned tracker, he’s a goddamned good tracker, better than anything else the Directorate’s got, and the swagger that comes with that has been earned a hundred times over, sometimes in blood, though, okay, let’s not get all maudlin and dramatic. The point is, he’s not supposed to be caught wrong-footed. And he’s certainly not supposed to be staring down eight barrels of a spin-cylinder street cannon in the back of a train station in godforsaken Harrowgate.

That’s supposed to be the agent’s job. Poor guy. Stupid fucking idiot.

“You Barstow?” the man with the gun asks. He’s tall and rangy, rough-looking and sallow-skinned, with patches of beard going wild and scraggly. It’s dark and Bas can’t see the rest of his face very well, just a stubbled sloping chin beneath the shadow cast by his wide-brimmed hat. He looks tough as rusty nails and just as pleasant.

Steam hugs the ground and wreaths the hem of the man’s long dirty coat, clings, and thickens the reek of dirt and sweat that wafts from the man every time he moves. Bas can even smell it through the fug of smoke and engine grease coming from the station, and all of it combined pricks at his eyes and makes them water.

There’s no cleaner, deeper sense of Tech beneath any of it—no thick, sundrop yellow mutters of “psyTech” hazing at the periphery of his vision and scattering something earthy on the back of his tongue; no blue edging that says “kineTech” and somehow tastes of wet cedar. Bas’s mind decides “nonTech” before his eyes bother to fully assess his current situation. Still, though, the gun—Bas can see that just fine.

“Who’s asking?” Bas says from his crouch. He’s somewhat pissed off, so it comes out a growl.

Smooth, Bas, he tells himself. Keep it smooth. He can still salvage this.

“I en’t playin’ games.” The housing of the barrels turns and a cylinder clicks into place. “Are you Barstow?”

Bas peers down at the agent’s body, blood still seeping in a rivulet from the knife in his throat, the heat catching the chill of the desert night and wisping steam. Aaron, Bas thinks. The guy’s name was Aaron.

Bas didn’t know him well. Hadn’t cared to get to know him. Just another Directorate agent who’d maybe gotten a little too cocky. It happens.

“Yeah,” says Bas. “Yeah, I’m Barstow.”

He isn’t. No one is, not really. It’s a cover, a standard one used by trackers when they need a ready-made thug reputation as an in with bands of thieves and murderers, and then that same cover is handed over to the agents along with the case once the tracker’s job is done.

Bas is a tracker, not an agent. Trackers track. They don’t do the set-them-up-then-take-them-down part. They do the sniffing out and the pointing, and then they let the agents take over.

Except.

Bas knows the Barstow cover well enough to fake it. He’s been Barstow plenty of times. Hell, he’d done most of the legwork on this particular case, and he’d done it as Barstow. And someone needs to get into Stanslo’s Bridge.

“Well, Barstow.” It sounds like a sneer. “Ye picked up a tail.”

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Blue on Black is available June 16th from DSP Publications, Amazon, and most other major distributors.

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carole-cummings-6About the Author: Carole Cummings lives with her husband and family in Pennsylvania, USA, where she spends her time trying to find time to write. Author of the Aisling and Wolf’s-own series, Carole is an avid reader of just about anything that’s written well and has good characters. She is a lifelong writer of the “movies” that run constantly in her head. Surprisingly, she does manage sleep in there somewhere, and though she is rumored to live on coffee and Pixy Stix™, no one has as yet suggested she might be more comfortable in a padded room. Well, not to her face.

Free shorts, sneak peeks at WIPs, and other miscellany can be found via Carole’s website, blog, Facebook and/or Twitter.

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Thanks for joining us. Next time on Genre Talk, Patricia Correll will be talking to us about Fantasy.

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DSP Publications, DSPP's Genre Talk, John Inman

DSP Publications Presents: Genre Talk With Carole Cummings and John Inman

DSP Publications

Oh, the horror! And I mean that in the best way possible. ;) John Inman is here with me today to tell you all about ghosts and haunted houses and moldering skeletons in creepy closets. I’m talking, of course, about John’s new release The Boys on the Mountain, released just yesterday from DSP Publications. So light your candles and get out your Ouija boards—but first, let’s have a look at what’s in store.

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tna-dspp--john inman for 05-13The Boys on the Mountain

Jim Brandon has a new house, and boy is it a pip. Built high on the side of the San Diego mountains by a legendary B movie actor of the 1930s, Nigel Letters, the house is not only gorgeous, but supposedly haunted. As a writer of horror novels, Jim couldn’t be happier.

But after a string of ghostly events sets Jim’s teeth on edge and scares the bejesus out of his dog, Jim begins to dig into the house’s history. What he finds is enough to creep out anybody. Even Jim. It seems long dead Nigel Letters had a few nasty habits back in his day. And unhappily for Jim, the old bastard still has some tricks up his sleeve.

As Jim welcomes his ex, Michael, and a bevy of old friends for a two-week visit to help christen the new house, he soon realizes his old friends aren’t the only visitors who have come to call.

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Carole: So last time you were here, John, I called you DSP Publications’ answer to Stephen King, and though you demurred, I haven’t seen anything yet to change my opinion. Now, I know one of King’s least favorite questions is “What is it about the Horror genre that appeals to you?” so let’s be evil and start with that one.

John: Horror stories are always fun. Usually they are so over the top that they make the writing of them a true blast. In horror you can let your imagination take you wherever you want to go. There are no restrictions of reality or time or reason to hold you back. Next to flat out gooshy love stories, which I adore making up, I enjoy writing bloody, creepy, scream-inducing horror stories the best.

Carole: Quite the contrast there! Now, horror as a genre has such broad appeal. Why “narrow the audience,” so to speak, by featuring the M/M dynamic?

John: I guess it boils down to being who I am. Since I’m gay, the M/M perspective on a story is just the way I instinctively go. I’ve always written male on male, even before I ever sold a manuscript and before I ever knew there was actually a market out there for that type of story. And at this late point in the game I don’t think I could change because it’s the only way I know how to write.

Carole: And why should you, really? Okay, so let’s move on to the good stuff. Tell us about The Boys on the Mountain.

John: This book was sort of a test for me. It was my first foray into writing a ghost story. It was also the first time I tried writing a story that encompassed two separate time periods, decades apart. I have published ghost stories before this one but The Boys on the Mountain was written before those. Boys is the story of a serial killer of young men who lived half a century earlier than when the present day part of the story takes place.

Nigel Letters was an old ham actor of the forties who starred in a string of B movies and made quite a name for himself doing it. He also had a few kinks in his persona that his fans didn’t know about at the time. Fast forward five decades. James Brandon is a writer of horror stories who is buying the old Letters home situated on the side of a mountain in Southern California. Once there, he realizes, through his pen, that something horrible once happened in that house, and the victims of that horror are still in residence. When his coterie of gay friends come for two weeks to christen the house, they find themselves in a battle with the ghost of Nigel Letters who still wields control over the poor souls he murdered here fifty years before. And not everyone survives the battle.

Carole: Yikes! Sounds like a book to be read with all the lights on and maybe a guard dog or two. ;)

So, The Boys on the Mountain is being published through DSP Publications, Dreamspinner Press’s imprint for nonromance genre novels. Tell us about the relationship in The Boys on the Mountain and why it doesn’t fit the accepted definition of Romance in the M/M genre.

John: The Boys on the Mountain was accepted by Dreamspinner Press about three years ago, and has been on hold until the new DSP Publications imprint opened up, because they thought it would be a better fit. While Boys is indeed a romance, the romance part of the story is overshadowed by the spooky stuff. My other release through DSP Publications, Willow Man, was likewise held in limbo until the imprint went live. Both books are horror, and both are ghost stories. Anyway, they’re here now, and I couldn’t be happier. Stephen King has always been one of my favorite authors. I think I’ve read every word he’s ever written write down to his grocery list, so if the reader sees any similarities (not in style and deftness of execution, mind you, I could never match King for that, hell, nobody could) but in mood and basic imagery, then I hope I’ll be forgiven.

Carole: *refers John to intro and whistles* Ahem. All right, now it’s time for what’s always my favorite part of Genre Talk: 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 The Boys on the Mountain?

John: The germ of an idea for this story came into being one spring day in San Diego when I was visiting the San Diego Zoo. It’s about a 15 minute walk to there from where I live so I go there quite often. Anyway, one early morning I snuck into the zoo when they first opened and not too many people were around. I was happily hiking the trails and pathways of the zoo, all by myself, chomping down on a humongous bucket of popcorn, when I strolled through the valley of big cats. There were almost no people around at all. It was still really early in the morning and some fog lingered from the night before. As I was passing this vast wire cage that reached about 15 feet high and 30 feet across, a black panther came storming out of the bushes and crashed flat out into the fence, feet first, hissing and snarling and spitting, not two feet from where I stood. Needless to say, my popcorn went flying and I damn near peed my pants. That cat meant business. I guess he thought I was on the breakfast menu. I have never forgotten that moment, and I knew I had to work it into a story. So believe it or not, all 150,000 words of The Boys on the Mountain came from those few seconds of abject terror when I stood in the fog at the San Diego Zoo and tried not to keel over in a dead faint when that black panther flew at me out of the bushes. Haha. I did manage to work the moment into the book though. It also gave me one of the major players in the story. Tania, the puma. And what a bitch she is!

Carole: (Do you see why that’s my favorite part? Always such awesome answers!) Okay, for this last question, I basically just asked John what he would like to talk about. Here’s what he came up with.

John: Since I’ve been told I can say anything I want during this part of the interview, I would like to direct a couple of words to the people out there (you most certainly know who you are) who have a dream to become a writer. To you I would like to say just one thing. Do not ever give up. Hold true to your dream. Practice your craft. And read. Read everything you can get your hands on. Trust me, every rejection letter and every unanswered query you are faced with now will make the final signing of your first contract all the more exciting – and well earned. I wish you all the luck in the world. I really do. Oh, and more thing. Write from the heart. That’s where the best words always lay hidden.

Carole: Oh, John. You’ve gone and made everyone all swoony now. Thanks so much for being with us today and best of luck on the new release!

And thank you, readers, for coming along for the ride. As a reward, please enjoy the following excerpt from The Boys on the Mountain, and look for the buy links at the end of the post.

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Excerpt: A TOUCH at the side of my neck brought me crashing back to the present, my connection to the past lost in the space of a second.

Michael stood over me, smiling down. His hair, freed of the stocking cap and considerably thinner now than when we were an item, poked up around his face in a dozen different directions. Bed hair. Crumpled, baggy pajama bottoms hung precariously from his slim hips, and he sported a nicotine patch on his upper arm. He was trying to quit smoking again, a quest he had pursued off and on and with a constant lack of success since the day I met him.

But for the smoking, and a few too many drinks occasionally (especially when the five of us got together), Michael was something of a health nut, popping God knows how many vitamins every day, jogging or racewalking every morning, working out at his gym four evenings a week. Compared to him, the rest of us were slugs. We basically kept ourselves trim with periodic bouts of starvation. Michael did it with hard, steady exercise. His devotion to it was mirrored in the clean, trim lines of his body.

I snaked an arm around his waist and pulled him into my space, pushing my face into the sprinkling of hair on his firm, rippled stomach. His skin felt sleep-warm and heavenly.

He rested a hand against the back of my neck. “This may come as a surprise to you, Jim, but most life forms require sleep to survive.”

I grinned and kissed his stomach. He not only lived a healthy lifestyle, he had also taken it upon himself to constantly lecture the rest of us on the advantages of one. For my part, his lectures usually oozed in one ear and dribbled out the other without making any long-lasting impressions anywhere in between.

“Nag. What time is it?”

“About an hour before dawn. The sky is just beginning to lighten.”

“Is that what woke you?”

“No,” he said, chuckling. “A warm fuzzy body crawling into my bed is what woke me. I was hoping it was you.”

“Hmm. Who was it?”

“Rex.”

“He misses you.”

“Anybody else around here miss me?”

“Yeah. I do. All the time.”

He ran his fingers through my hair. “Right. That’s why you moved to practically another country. We’re twenty miles from the Mexican border, for Christ’s sake. When the wind is right, you can probably smell the salsa.”

“Right now I can smell only you,” I whispered, breathing in the familiar fragrance of his warm skin.

I felt a stirring beneath the fabric of his pajama bottoms before he gently took a step backward. “Let’s not complicate matters,” he said, but there was a smile in his voice. “We have other things we should be concentrating on.”

“Like what?” I asked innocently.

“Well, gee, let me think. Judging by all the paperwork scattered around you, you’ve just been mysteriously channeling the story of another boy who was murdered in this house more than fifty years ago. Our friend is lying in the back bedroom with first-degree burns over most of his face and so strung out on pills and booze that he doesn’t realize he should be in pain. And, oh yes, you’re in the process of buying a home that is crawling with ghosts and goblins and demons, and we need to be checking the yellow pages for a good exorcist before one or all of the spooks living here decide to set fire to the rest of us. Did I miss anything?”

“Well, there is the small matter of the beast who attacked my dog, but I suppose that would fall under the general demon category, unless you’d prefer to sublist it. Organization is, after all, your middle name.”

“And chaos, my friend, is yours. It follows you wherever you go.”

I studied his face. “Is that why you left?”

He smiled. “Who said I left? Maybe I’m on hiatus.”

“If that’s what it is, it’s been a long one,” I said, but I could feel my heart doing a happy little patter. Maybe there was hope for us yet. Michael apparently was harboring the same thought. At least I hoped he was.

“Complications aren’t necessarily bad things,” he said, moving closer.

“Not bad at all,” I agreed.

“And the other stuff we can work around. Ghosts. Goblins.”

“Demons. Absolutely.”

I slid my lips across his stomach. “Fuck it,” he said. “Let’s go to bed.”

“If you insist.”

He laughed. “You’re so easy.”

I pulled the drawstring on his pajama bottoms and watched them slide to the floor.

“And you’re so hard.”

“Nice segue,” he said.

“Thanks. I’m a writer. We’re good at things like that.”

“What else are you good at?”

“Let me refresh your memory,” I said. And I did.

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john-inman-17Author Bio: John Inman grew up on a tiny 60-acre farm in Indiana. His childhood was a happy one. He spent most of it barefoot with a cane pole over his shoulder, fishing and roaming the countryside and dragging home every wild creature he could get his hands on hoping to make it a pet, much to his mother’s horror.

Longing to see the world (what kid doesn’t?), he joined the Navy two minutes after graduating from high school. The Navy carried him all across the Orient before finally landing him in San Diego, California, a city he fell in love with at first sight. He lives there to this day with his husband John (yep, John and John), and an assortment of pets they’ve happened to adopt along the way, (Yep, he’s still doing that too.)

The one great longing that has stayed with John his entire life, from his childhood on the farm, to his years in the Navy, and all the way up to retirement from the working world, was the need he felt to write fiction. And he did. He wrote every chance he got, from elementary school all the way through to Social Security.

John calls this passion of his a wonderful addiction, and he thanks God every day that he suffers from it. Since he can’t think of a happier way to spend his remaining years on this marvelous planet, you can now find John seven days a week, merrily slogging along on his computer, doing what he most dearly loves to do.

Writing. (And there’s usually a pet on his lap while he’s doing it.)

You can follow John via his website, his blog and/or Facebook

Buy The Boys on the Mountain now in ebook or paperback from DSP Publications, Amazon, and most other major distributors

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Next on the chopping block for Genre Talk is… eek! Me! J Tullos Hennig will be turning the tables and giving me a taste of my own medicine and other mixed metaphors. So, until then—thanks and happy reading, everyone!

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A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Here’s a Sneak Peek at the Coming Week

Sneak Peek

Cheers, everyone, and welcome back to a look at what we have coming up in the week ahead!

Here in the US, we’re celebrating Mother’s Day today, so before I move along to all the great things we have in store for the week ahead, I just want to say one thing. It takes far more than the biological ability to give birth to a child to make a mother. It simply takes a child, any child, who needs our unending patience, our unwavering courage, and our unconditional love and support to make a difference in their lives. That’s what being a mother is about–patience, courage, love and support–so whether that difference-maker is a grandmother, an aunt, a sister, a family friend, or a dad who is both mother and father to his child or children, I share this day with you and salute you for all the caring and love you put into nurturing and shaping the next generation.

Happy Mother’s Day! :)

And now, here’s what’s on tap!

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Monday – Kicking off the week, we have Reesa Herberth and Michelle Moore stopping by on the Peripheral People blog tour

We’ll also have Shae Connor with us on the blog tour for her new novel Wayward Son, the sequel to Unfortunate Son

TuesdayZane Riley drops in today on the Go Your Own Way blog tour

And we’ll also welcome Deanna Wadsworth to talk about her new novel Wrecked, coming soon from Dreamspinner Press

Wednesday – We’ll have author Andi Van here with us today to talk about her new novel Starting with the Unexpected

And DSP Publications authors Carole Cummings and John Inman will join us with another edition of “Genre Talk”—today’s topic: Horror

Thursday – Today we’ll be welcoming author Jason N. Smith, who stops by to chat about his new novel Awakening: The Blood Rock Prophecy

Author Michael Kudo also joins us to talk about his new self-published novel Sequestered Hearts

FridayKeira Andrews gives us a peek at the cover of her upcoming novel Kick at the Darkness

M.J. O’Shea will also be our guest today on her Family Jewels blog tour

Saturday – Author Hayden Thorne joins us to talk about her upcoming novel Ansel of Pryor House

Sunday – And finally, today is the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, and The Novel Approach will once again be participating in the Hop Against Homophobia, Bi- and Transphobia. If you’ve never followed the hop before, as of this post there are more than 90 participating LGBT bloggers and authors, and there are always giveaways involved, so stay tuned for it

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

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

DSPP Presents: Genre Talk With Carole Cummings and Rick R. Reed

DSP Publications

Hullo, all! Since Lisa has yet to bar the doors of The Novel Approach, I’m here today with DSP Publications author Rick R. Reed to talk about suspense and serial killers and anonymous hookups. But all in a good way! (…Wait, is there a good way to talk about serial killers? 0_o Eh, Rick will figure it out.)

But first, let’s take a quick look at what Rick has in store for us with his new release, IM:

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IM-400x600The Internet is the new meat market for gay men. Now a killer is turning the meat market into a meat wagon.

One by one, he’s killing them. Lurking in the digital underworld of Men4HookUpNow.com, he lures, seduces, and charms, reaching out through instant messages to the unwary. When the first body surfaces, openly gay Chicago Police Department detective Ed Comparetto is called in to investigate. At the scene, the young man who discovered the body tells him the story of how he found his friend. But did this witness play a bigger role in the murder than he’s letting on?

For Comparetto, this encounter is the beginning of a nightmare—because this witness did more than just show up at the scene of the crime; he set the scene.

Comparetto is on a journey to discover the truth—before he loses his career, his boyfriend, his sanity… his life. Because in this killer’s world, IM doesn’t stand for instant message… it stands for instant murder.

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Carole: Thanks for being here with us, Rick. How about we kick things off with the basics: tell us about your genre.

Rick: Thriller, suspense, horror…I think there are many overlaps here (even with mystery) and they all fascinate me. I think IM falls as much into the psychological suspense category as it does the thriller category. Either way, the book (and the genre) are marked by escalating peril (suspense) and, usually a sense of dread. What should keep people turning the pages in any good thriller is an investment in the characters, so you need to keep reading to discover what happens next.

Carole: Why M/M?

Rick: I write M/M or gay fiction because I’m a gay man myself. I have an investment in telling the stories of my “people” in a way that I hope is entertaining, thought-provoking and, more often than not, touching.

Carole: I’m sure your fans would say your work is all those things, Rick. So tell us about this release in particular. Tell us about IM.

Rick: It’s been a long journey with IM, because this is its third edition. It was originally published in 2007 as a paperback by the Quest imprint of Regal Crest Enterprises. The book struck a chord because it plays on both the fear and excitement of anonymous online hookups, a form of meeting up that continues to grow. This new edition is, if I may say so, the most awesome edition. Starting with the arresting and gorgeous cover design by Reese Dante, the book has been thoroughly re-edited, so I think this is the best possible version of IM for readers.

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

Rick: I was thrilled that one reviewer recently compared the terror in IM to that found in The Silence of the Lambs, one of my favorite thriller/horror tales. I suppose IM fits better at DSP Publications because of the escalating suspense and sense of dread that defines the plot arc. We have one twisted serial killer at the heart of things—and a compelling mystery: is this killer even alive? Or was he murdered himself? The romantic aspect of the story is strong (it’s between the Chicago cop investigating the case and the love interest he finds along the way—a librarian who helps him with more than just research). Because the suspense of the story is so predominant, the romance naturally takes a back seat, so I think that’s why IM is such a splendid fit for the new imprint.

Carole: Okay, you’ve told us about the journey of IM’s publication. Now tell us about the evolution of the story. What was its earliest incarnation as a concept and when did it begin to take the form of IM?

Rick: It occurred to me, when I was younger and single and guilty myself of doing a little hooking up online how anonymous it all was. How you could, on many of these sites, interact via the site with instant messages and in no time at all, have a stranger at your door. While that stranger could be key to all sorts of earthly delights, he could also be your worst nightmare—and thus, a story was born. Add to that the fact that these online connections are difficult to track, and you have an almost perfect crime scenario—something very tempting for a psycho killer.

Carole: In today’s online/high tech world, a plot like this would seem to have such broad appeal, whether in mainstream or gay lit. circles. Why did you feel this story needed to be told with the M/M dynamic?

Rick: I think that’s fairly obvious. While I’m sure online hooking up takes place all the time in the straight community and even the lesbian community, I think it’s pretty safe to say that it’s nowhere more prevalent than in the gay male community. It’s that two-sided coin of risk/excitement versus danger/peril that, I think, makes the story work particularly well with gay men as antagonists and protagonists.

Carole: So, besides the obvious Awesome book, you’ve gotta read this! every author hopes a reader gets from their book, what’s the one thing you’d like to see readers take away from IM?

Rick: I think one thing people have told me, over and over, is that IM made them think twice about hooking up online. You just never know, with such anonymity, what you might be getting yourself into. You could end up with a future lover, future fuck buddy, future husband…or having no future at all. It’s the chance you take when you roll the dice online.

Carole: Excellent advice, Rick. Thanks for chatting with us today, and happy hookup—er, I mean best of luck on your release! :D

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

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Buy IM now in ebook, paperback and Kindle.

Follow Rick through his website, his blog, or through Facebook and/or Twitter.

Join us next time on Genre Talk when Andrew Q. Gordon will come bearing yet more gifts!

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A.J. Marcus, Carole Cummings, DSP Publications, DSPP's Genre Talk

DSP Publications Presents: Genre Talk With Carole Cummings and A.J. Marcus

DSP Publications

Hi, folks! You may remember the last time A.J. was here, when we talked about Eagle’s Blood and nature and falcons. This time, A.J. is talking about the inspiration behind his upcoming (March 24th!) release, Grizzly Discovery, and since he’s more interesting than I am, let’s just turn the post over to him. :)

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Inspiration: Bears

by A.J. Marcus

With my second Mountain Spirit Mystery, Grizzly Discovery, I thought it was a good time to write about my inspiration for writing the book…bears. Not the muscular hairy guys that star in the book, but the huge animals that roam the mountains where I live. Although I haven’t had a lot of bear encounters while hiking or hunting in the mountains, I’m always on the lookout for them. Although none of us saw them, I did get blamed the last time the bears broke into the shed and threw garbage all over the place…long story but I was exonerated by a bent latch and deep claw marks in the door.

I’ve got friends, a couple of whom work for the Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife. Around here it’s hard to go long without hearing something about what the bears have done. Many of those stories have been incorporated into my books. Officially the last grizzly bear in Colorado was poisoned by a government trapper in 1952, then another last grizzly was killed in 1979. With the amount of forest and open space in Colorado, the odds are there’re still a number of grizzlies in the state. A lot of folks talk about the grizzlies they see, they’re just careful not to talk to officials about them, so there are no official records. Also a lot of the officials don’t like to make a fuss because if they do, then they have to do something about it…like we see in Grizzly Discovery. Thanks to the internet, there are groups around, like the Colorado Grizzly Coalition that are out and gathering information about sightings.

More common in Colorado, are the black bears, which actually come in a wide variety of colors. Ironically, I’ve seen more black bears in the city limits of Colorado Springs than I have in the mountains to the west. Bears love garbage. Bears love picnics…Yogi, please stay out of my lunch. I honestly think that most of the bad encounters that happen between bears and humans are due to human stupidity. We were watching bears, from a safe distance, in one of the city parks one day when some guys in fatigues, probably from the nearby military base, came up and asked if we thought they might be able to pet the bears…a momma and two little ones. We urged them not to, they got bored and drove off. If my friends and I hadn’t been there, not sure how that would’ve ended. Unfortunately when those sorts of things happen they end badly for the bears.

As we explore in Grizzly Discovery there is a major black market trade in bear parts, particularly to the Far East for their traditional medicine. Poaching is a real problem anywhere there are bears or other wildlife that people believe can provide cures that modern medicine can’t. The problem with this is that a lot of the time no scientific evidence existsto support the idea. I’m sorry, the bear needs its gallbladder more than you do…and don’t even get me started on tiger penis soup. One of the many reasons I enjoy writing this series of books is I LOVE WILDLIFE. I think the animals we share the world with have as much, and in a lot of cases more, right to continue living as the humans do. I’m hoping that my readers get some of my love of nature through my words.

Grizzly Discovery will be available March 24 2015 from DSP Publications

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tna-dspp--aj marcus for 03-11Grizzly Discovery Blurb: Landon Weir and Brock Summers are happily settling into their life as a couple, easily balancing Landon’s work as an animal rehabber with Brock’s career as a Colorado Parks and Wildlife Officer. When they find a bear shot and skinned, they set out to discover who’s behind the heinous act.

Events force Brock to come out to his boss, causing him and Landon to rethink how public they want to make their relationship. As more bear sightings – and more carcasses – show up in the area, Brock is attacked by a black bear he’s trying to release back into the wild, but his injuries don’t prevent him from helping Landon and their friends with the investigation. Despite leads being thin on the ground, the two men try to uncover the poachers before more bears are killed. But when the evidence points them in an unexpected direction, Teller County’s bear population may not be all the killers have in their sights.

Pre-order Grizzly Discovery HERE!

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aj-marcusAbout the Author: A.J. has been writing to pass the time since high school. The stories he wrote helped him deal with life. A few years ago, he started sharing those stories with friends who enjoyed them and he has started sending his works out into the world to share with other people. He lives in the mountains with his extremely supportive lover. They have a lot of critters, including dogs, cats, birds, horses, and rabbits. When not writing, A.J. spends a lot of time hiking, tail riding or just driving in the mountains. Nature provides a lot of inspiration for his work, and keeps him writing. He is also an avid photographer and falconer, don’t get him started talking about his birds because he won’t stop for a while.

You can follow A.J. through his website, on Twitter, or by liking his Facebook author page. Or you can always email him at andy AT ajmarcus DOT com.

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Thanks for stopping by, everyone! Join us next time on Genre Talk, when Rick R. Reed will talk about his upcoming release, IM!

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A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week, Giveaways

Here’s A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Sneak Peek

Hi, everyone, and welcome back to another look at what we have coming up in the week ahead! It’s a busy one, to be sure, and will feature some fantastic guests, great giveaways, and, of course, lots more reviews. Stay tuned and I hope you come back to join in the fun.

Now, here’s what’s on tap!

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MondayCleis Press kicks off our week with a giveaway of their new anthology Best Gay Romance 2015

Author Aimee Brissay also joins us today to do her part in helping to countdown to Euro Pride Con

TuesdayLisa Henry and J.A. Rock drop in on the Tempest blog tour

And we’ll also be featuring Rick R. Reed’s new DSP Publications release IM

Wednesday – We’re welcoming author Amber Kell today as she visits to celebrate Euro Pride Con

We’ll also have a new edition of Genre Talk with Carole Cummings and A.J. Marcus

Thursday – Today, Ana J. Phoenix stops by with her contribution to the countdown to Euro Pride Con

Heidi Cullinan will also be here to offer the chance to win an e-copy of her new book Nowhere Ranch

FridaySue Brown joins us today on the Eddie & Marchant blog tour

Jaycee Edwards and Helena Stone also drop in on their Strangers in the Night tour

Saturday – Today we welcome author Suki Fleet on the Innocence blog tour

Sunday – And we close out the week with author T. Strange and a cover reveal of her new book My Zombie Boyfriend

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

 

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Andrew Q. Gordon, Carole Cummings, DSP Publications, DSPP's Genre Talk

Guest Post: Genre Talk With Carole Cummings and Andrew Q. Gordon

DSP Publications

Ha, a weekend invasion from a couple of DSP Publications’ misfit toys! Hello, everyone! I’ve got Andrew Q. Gordon with me today, and because he’s awesome and generous, he comes bearing a gift. We’ve got a special price for The Novel Approach readers! So stay tuned ’til the end of the post.

For now, let’s jump right in and let Andrew tell us about his high fantasy novel, Book 1 of the Champion of the Gods series—The Last Grand Master:

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tna-dspp--andrew q gordon for 03-08In a war that shook the earth, the six gods of Nendor defeated their brother Neldin, god of evil. For three thousand years, Nendor and the Seven Kingdoms have known peace and prosperity and Neldin’s evil was nearly forgotten.

But then Meglar, wizard king of Zargon, unleashes the dark magic of the underworld and creates an army of creatures to carry out his master’s will. One by one, the sovereign realms fall as a new war between the gods threatens to engulf Nendor.

Leading the opposition to Meglar is Grand Master Farrell. Young and untried, Farrell carries a secret that could hold the key to defeating Meglar—or it could destroy the world.

Farrell is joined by Nerti, queen of the unicorns and Miceral, an immortal muchari warrior the Six have chosen as Farrell’s mate. As Farrell and his new allies make plans to counter Neldin’s evil, Meglar forces their hand when he invades a neighboring kingdom. Rushing to help their ally, Farrell and Miceral find themselves in the middle of the battle. Cut off from help, Farrell attempts an untried spell that will either turn the tide or cost he and Miceral their lives.

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Carole: Thanks for being here with us today, Andrew. How about we start off with genre, since that’s why we’re here. Tell us about yours.

Andrew: I write in many genres: High Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, and some Contemporary. I’ve got a definite Sci-fi story in my head that I want to write, but that’s so far down the future work in progress (FWIP) list that it’s hard to really say I write in that genre. But if I had to pick one genre as my primary one, it would be high fantasy. I’ve been a Tolkien fan for almost forty years and after his books, I read almost any fantasy book I could find. After reading Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar series, a story with a positive gay character, that sealed my love of the genre.

Carole: *high five* on the Tolkien! ;) So, was the Lackey revelation part of why you chose to write M/M?

Andrew: For me M/M is not so much a choice as part of who I am. The lack of positive images—and in many cases, no images—of gay protagonists, made me want to write about people like me as the ‘good guy.’ To me it’s personal. It’s who I am. I’ve spoken to other authors—men and women, straight and gay—and it’s the same for them. Either they are gay, or they have a child, sibling, best mate, whomever is important in their lives, etc., who is gay. We—and I include all the other authors in the MM genres—write as much to educate as to entertain.

Carole: Wow, I love that answer. Okay, so tell us about the Champion of the Gods series.

Andrew: The Champion of the Gods is a High Fantasy story that will be spread over 5 books. Book 1: The Last Grand Master was re-released February 10, 2015, and Book 2: The Eye and The Arm is due April 14, 2015. The series is going to follow Farrell, the last good grand master wizard on the continent of Ardus as he tries to stop Meglar from conquering the Seven Kingdoms of Ardus and ultimately the world.

Book 1 introduces us to Farrell, his life partner Miceral. We see them meet, fall in love, and ultimately experience how the war is going to test their relationship. There is a better than average chance Farrell won’t survive the final conflict, and that affects how he approaches his time with Miceral. We also meet his companions, Nerti, a unicorn, the giant peregrine brothers Grohl and Takala, and some of the lesser wizards who are helping Farrell prepare.

Book 2 begins the journey to the other continents of the world as Farrell and Miceral search for weapons to use in the fight. They are also searching for Farrell’s distant ancestor, the legendary wizard Grand Master Kel who disappeared two thousand years ago. Farrell is convinced Kel holds the key to many of the tasks he must complete before the final battle.

Carole: So definitely the highest of high fantasy. Awesome. Now, the Champion of the Gods is being published through DSP Publications, Dreamspinner Press’s imprint for nonromance genre novels. Tell us about the relationship in The Champion of the Gods and why it doesn’t fit the accepted definition of Romance in the M/M genre.

Andrew: A M/M Romance book means the romance is the primary plot device. Getting the two main characters together and keeping them together is the resolution to the story. That isn’t the case with the Champions series. In Champions, getting Miceral and Farrell together is just the start. Together they are going to take on the enemy who is trying to turn the world into an extension of Neblor (their world’s equivalent of Hell.)

In this, Champions is similar to stories like David Edding’s Belgaraid, or Tolkiens Lord of the Rings. There is an ultimate evil to be fought, and the main character is the one to do the fighting. Unlike those stories, however, Farrell isn’t a normal hobbit taking on the all-powerful Sauron, or Garion, a young but really powerful wizard about to take on a God. Farrell is a powerful wizard chosen by his gods to fight another powerful wizard, Meglar, who was chosen by his god.

So the romance is there, but it’s a small part of the story instead of the main conflict and source of tension.

Carole: Mm, sounds like one of those meaty plots a reader can really sink their teeth into. 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 Champion of the Gods?

Andrew: Like most stories, Champions didn’t pop out like Athena from Zeus’ head. It took years to fully form. The initial version was a scene that will never make it into the book/series. That was a battle scene where the two sides have been fighting and Farrell activated a defensive spell to bar Meglar’s army from pursuing his forces. Only several of Meglar’s warped creatures scurried through before the wall was dropped. As the enemy pursues the tired rear guard, Farrell sends magical help. In the end, it looked very pretty and what not, but in practice it was completely silly in the context of the story that evolved.

Since then I’ve tweaked and changed and fixed and altered and…you get the idea. One thing I did that I’m glad for, is I wrote almost all five books before I submitted the first one. The end and epilogue are written and all that remains is to weave the final strands into the story and all five will be done. The benefit, I found, was to find ‘problems’ in the earlier books that would have boxed me into a corner. For instance, in book three I wanted to do something, but it was in total conflict with something earlier, but the new twisted needed to remain to keep the story from turning contrived. So, during the rewrite of book 1, I made changes that helped keep the story on track. I’ve also been incorporating those changes as I go over the rough draft and clean it up before submission.

That is when the story started to resemble what you see now.

Carole: Which begs the question: do you have a file of scrapped scenes on your hard drive somewhere, and how often do you use it?

Andrew: I have a fairly large file of ‘unused’ scenes. Pretty much because I wrote the entire series before I started to publish it, I have been pulling scenes out and saving them for future use. Not so much in Book 1, but quite a bit in books 2 & 3. In Book 3 that I’m finishing up the third draft right now, there was a major shift in how I presented a situation. It was more than just a tweak or a change of scene. I ended up fundamentally changing the cause/effect of a fairly key element of the story. It kept the element intake, but it made it more ‘believable’ in my mind. That said, there was a lot of information that I need to work into the overall story in order to get the end to stay on track. Enter the file of misfit scenes.

I’ve cut those sections, titled and put markers in the rest of the text to ensure I know where to find the scenes and more importantly, where to put them. I’ve used a fair number of misfit scenes so far, but I expect several will end up on the cutting room floor.

One last thought on this, there are some scenes that won’t make it into the books but they are nice background stories for the universe. At some point I might go back and use them either as blog posts or short stories to give a bit more depth to the to the overall world.

Carole: And I’m sure you’ve got fans who would just love to get their hands on those scrap files, Andrew. ;) One more question before you go: Why did you feel this story needed to be told with the M/M dynamic?

Andrew: I really can’t say why it was important for the story, but it is necessary for more than just – I wanted a gay character in my epic fantasy story. Suffice it to say, there is a reason why the gods made sure Farrell was attracted to men, and a reason why they sent him Miceral. Anymore and I’d give away something I want to hold onto until book four.

Carole: Perfect, Andrew, and thanks so much for being here with us today.

Readers, as promised, Andrew has generously arranged for a special sale price for you, and we’ll tell you more about in a moment. For now, please enjoy this intriguing excerpt from The Last Grand Master:

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Excerpt: “Prince Jursten.” Farrell’s voice drew all eyes to him. “I’d be remiss in my friendship if I didn’t warn you about your dinner companion.”

Alicia’s jaw tightened so much her lips almost disappeared. Ignoring the daggers she shot him with her eyes, he plastered his best court smile on his face. “She’s an expert conversationalist who will surprise you with her wit. Don’t let the pretty face fool you; she’s even smarter than she is lovely.”

For the first time since Farrell met her, Alicia blushed.

“And how is that a warning?” Jursten turned back to Alicia. “A compliment such as that is hard to disagree with.”

The color deepened in Alicia’s cheeks, prompting her to glare at him. “It would appear….”

“Princess, did you tell Jursten we might go riding tomorrow?” Farrell arched an eyebrow, daring her to risk her invitation.

Peter sniggered next to him, then busied himself arranging his silverware when his sister looked his way. Jursten looked from Farrell to Alicia, then back.

He grinned at Farrell before turning to his new companion. “How badly did you make him blush?

“He was almost as red as Prince Kerstand’s shirt.” She pointed to the scarlet tunic signifying Honal’s royal colors. “But it was an innocent mistake. Twice he answered the door shirtless and sweating. What else was I to think other than my virtue was at stake?”

Miceral roared, but Farrell kept his smile without turning red. “Help me out here. Miceral, what was that comment she made about us being—”

“That was an honest mistake too.” Alicia looked fit to burst as she spoke through clenched teeth.

“Payback?” Kerstand asked.

“Of course.” Farrell nodded seriously. “She delighted in making me squirm. I thought she enjoyed the feeling. I guess I was wrong.”

Jursten took Alicia’s hand and patted it fondly. “Maybe later I can tell you some of the things I said to embarrass him. For instance, the time he met the Count of Durtress’s youngest son. Poor Farrell’s eyes nearly popped out of his skull when he heard the young man was interested in him.”

Farrell rolled his eyes but stopped when he saw Miceral staring at him.

“Son of a count?” He smirked. “How come I never heard this one?”

“Because the oaf had cabbage between his ears and couldn’t speak in complete sentences.” Farrell tried to frown but couldn’t keep it from turning into a smile. “But he was nice to look at and—”

“Oh my.” Alicia giggled. “You can make yourself blush. I’m impressed.”

“To be fair to Farrell,” Jursten said, drawing attention back to him, “Fentar was quite handsome and athletic. If he understood politics a bit better, he might have gone far.”

“What happened to the strapping young Fentar?” Alicia turned her head slowly toward Farrell, eyebrow raised.

Farrell cocked his head to the right, looking toward Jursten. “He did join with the son of that Arvendian clan chief, Gelg, didn’t he?”

“Sub-clan chief,” Jursten corrected. “They counted his strength and athleticism more highly than having an advanced degree.”

“Poor Fentar.” Farrell sighed.

“Why?” Alicia looked confused. “Sounds like he found his perfect mate.”

“Oh, he did.” Jursten laughed. “It’s just, well, Endor is one of the few kingdoms devoted to the God of Wisdom. Fentar wasn’t an especially adept follower and never really fit in at court.”

“If I recall correctly”—Farrell smiled at his friend—“you arranged for Gelg to bring his son to court when you knew Fentar would be there.”

“Your memory is somewhat selective.” Jursten turned to Alicia. “Fentar was very taken with Farrell. I mean, he swooned whenever Farrell came near. It was… embarrassing to his father and my father. Farrell heard that Gelg’s son was attracted to men and was looking for a mate. He let drop that bit of information in a most suggestive way.”

He glanced at Farrell, who shrugged. “What? Your father was about to exile Fentar. All I did was mention how it might be a good match.”

“Wait.” Alicia put her free hand up, leaving the one under Jursten’s. “How did you know Gelg’s son was looking for a mate?”

Jursten smirked. “Gelg wanted to match him with Farrell, who of course had enough of the handsome but dumb-as-a-stone type.”

“So why did you get involved?” Miceral’s expression told Farrell he’d have to give more details up when they were alone.

“Um… well….” Jursten suddenly looked uncomfortable.

“Jursten owed me a favor.” Farrell earned a look of gratitude from his friend. “I ran interference when a particularly obnoxious mother wanted to pair her equally obnoxious daughter with Jursten at a state dinner. I made sure she sat next to me instead.”

“And that helped how?” Alicia seemed amused and kept stealing glances at Jursten.

“Sitting next to the Prince of Haven is an honor every mother dreams of for her unmarried daughter.” Jursten’s chuckle became a full laugh.

“Unless the prince isn’t interested in women.” Farrell tried to look innocent. “Then it becomes a wasted social opportunity.”

“It sounds like you two have quite an interesting history together.” Alicia smiled coyly at Jursten.

“Jursten was my first real friend.” Farrell turned serious but still smiled. “He wasn’t a teacher, mentor, vassal, subject, court dandy looking for something, or any of the other people I dealt with on a daily basis. We were both young, and aside from him trying to fix me up with all sorts of hideous men—”

“Please, you told Duchess Helena I mentioned her daughter to you fondly.” Jursten rolled his eyes. “Do you remember how much trouble we both got in when Father had to deal with the old battle-ax?”

“Not attractive?” Kerstand asked.

“She was forty-three and I was twenty-four!” Jursten pointed at Farrell. “He knew the Duchess was desperate to find a suitable husband for Jonice, and his little comment had the old woman practically sprinting for my father’s chambers.”

“That was the closest Clement ever came to yelling at me.” Farrell nodded at the memory. “But the two-hour lecture on the finer points of marriage diplomacy was enough that I never did that again.”

Alicia turned to Jursten. “You will have to tell me more about your adventures.”

Peter rolled his eyes, but his sister kept flirting with Jursten and didn’t notice.

“After dinner,” Jursten said, smiling back, “it would be my pleasure to regale you with some of our more amusing adventures.”

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

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

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Get your copy of The Last Grandmaster for only $.99 (this week only!) at DSP Publications and Amazon.

Want to make sure you don’t miss Book 2 of the Champions series? Follow Andrew via his website, or like his Author Page on Facebook.

You can also follow Andrew on Twitter, Google+, or his personal Facebook page.

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Andrea Speed, Carole Cummings, DSP Publications, DSPP's Genre Talk

DSP Publications and Carole Cummings Present: Genre Talk With Andrea Speed – Infected: Paris

DSP Publications

Genre Talk with Carole Cummings and DSP Publications Author Andrea Speed

It’s Wednesday, which means Lisa has once again allowed us to invade TNA. This time, we’re coming on like a virus with the woman who’s made the word “infected” into something gripping in the best sense of the word. The fabulous Andrea Speed is here today to talk about her DSP Publications upcoming (February 24th) release Infected: Paris!

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infected-parisIn a world where a werecat virus has changed society, Roan McKichan, a born infected and ex-cop, works as a private detective trying to solve crimes involving other infecteds.

Roan is working a frustrating stalker case, with no shortage of suspects and little solid evidence, when he comes across a startling eyewitness living in his car across the street from the scene. A tiger-strain infected, the only one Roan’s ever met, Paris Lehane is a former Canadian golden boy who suffered a breakdown after becoming infected in college.

While Roan’s ex, Diego “Dee” Cole, warns against falling for the infected Paris, a man doomed to die, Roan struggles with his attraction and the knowledge that no happily ever after is possible for them.

But is the knowledge enough to discourage him from following his heart? Roan helps Paris out of homelessness, and maybe a special hospital can help Paris with the infection, but Roan’s got his hands full with this case, and there’s no end in sight.

You’ll find buy links at the end of the post, so sit back and let yourself succumb to this most virulent strain. (See what I did there? *nudge nudge*)

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Carole: The book sounds like a great addition to an already well-loved series, Andrea. For those who haven’t tried it yet, tell us about the genre of this latest.

Andrea: You know, I have a hard time picking a genre for this book. I would guess it’s mystery, with a hint of science-fiction and horror. And I love all these genres! Murder mysteries are just fun to read, at least for me. Same with science fiction and horror. In fact, I will beat the drum for all genre writing over “mainstream” or “literary” writing, for the simple fact that the holds are not barred in most genre writing. Almost anything can happen, and I think that’s amazing. Also, you can talk about contemporary or constant issues, but in coded ways, and it often makes it easier to take for the audience. Nobody wants to be lectured at. But dress it up as, say, an orphan wizard learning his place in the world, and you have something that tastes great, and yet never seems preachy.

Carole: So, why M/M?

Andrea: Why not?

Carole: I know, right?! Okay, so let’s get to the meat of things—tell us about Infected: Paris.

Andrea: This isn’t your typical shapeshifter book. The virus in this story – and there are different strains of cat (cougar, leopard, tiger, panther, lion) – is terrible. You are not consciously aware when you’re a cat, and it hurts. In fact, it ends up killing you, and if you’re really unlucky, you may kill other people as well on your way there. Being infected makes you a pariah. Society is learning to deal with this new thing, and while it has to some degree, it still has a long way to go. Except for the cult that worships the virus as divine, but that’s still not ideal.

And the virus is the only fantastical element of this story. So if you’re expecting vampires or some other urban fantasy stuff, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but it’s not. I try and treat the virus as realistically as possible within the context of the story.

Carole: Infected: Paris is being published through DS PPublications, Dreamspinner Press’s imprint for non-romance genre novels. Tell us about the relationship in Infected: Paris and why it doesn’t fit the accepted definition of Romance in the M/M genre.

Andrea: While the relationship between Roan and Paris is very much the bedrock of Roan’s humanity and continuing sanity, it’s not really front and center. It’s the spine of the book, but not the meat. That’s devoted to establishing the characters, the world they live in, and the mystery. So while it’s clear they love and depend on each other, there just isn’t any on page sex.

I kind of thought it was odd that Infected: Prey was originally published by a romance publisher, because it isn’t really. It’s an alternate universe mystery, where the relationship is important, but it’s not the most important thing going on. In a way, this is my homage to the hard boiled mysteries of Raymond Chandler (but gay) and the gay mysteries of Joseph Hansen. Although I doubt I belong in their company. But it’s something to aspire to.

Carole: Oh, I think you’re doing just fine. ;) Now 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 Infected: Paris?

Andrea: Well, I first started thinking about this story after reading an article about gene therapy. I thought it would lead to interesting complications if someone decided to use a live virus for the hell of it, or to prove a theory, or build a better person. First I thought of werewolves, but I didn’t want to write about them, so I changed it to werecats. Then I wrote the novel, wasn’t happy with it, and set it aside for a year or two. I eventually figured out the story didn’t work because I had the wrong character in the lead. So I rewrote it, and this time Roan showed up, and that was that. I wrote out the plot before I had the character. I’m just lucky he showed up when he did.

Carole: As are your fans, no doubt. So with all that in mind, why did you feel this story needed to be told with the M/M dynamic?

Andrea: Roan is an outsider in many respects. He’s an orphan turned foster child, turned medical pariah, as most virus children – kids born infected with the cat virus – are too damaged to survive or function successfully for long. But Roan was a one in a million, because he was born not physically or mentally deformed, but then no one knew what to do with him. He wasn’t like other virus children, but he wasn’t a normal child either. He had no known family, and the medical establishment wasn’t sure what to do with him. He grew up in hospitals as well as the few foster homes willing to take him (there weren’t many of those), and he was treated like medical waste with a short shelf life. When the character occurred to me, I knew he was gay right away, because of course he would be. His life has been defined by narrow odds, and I have a hard time imagining him being in any kind of majority group. He’s very punk rock, and he learned early on to revel in his misfit role, and of course there’s something in him that just loves to fight. Roan just wouldn’t be Roan if he were straight, or even bi. That would be a different character entirely.

But I also knew that having a human connection was very important for him, beyond even that of your average person. Roan has always longed for a permanent home, but not one made of bricks and mortar. Home to him is a person, someone he could love and trust, someone who wouldn’t let him down as so many people and things have done in his life. So he would have a relationship, and a pretty solid one at that, especially if he found someone he could trust. And Paris is definitely a man he can trust, a man who helps keep him emotionally grounded. Roan is very much a character who needs someone else in his life. Because his fighter impulse could spin out of control if he didn’t have a solid reason to hold it back.

Carole: Sounds great, Andrea, and I know fans of the Infected series are looking forward to this latest addition. One last question before we go. If you could give out only one piece of advice, what would it be?

Andrea: Be yourself. Which is a bland, blah sentiment, but I goddamn mean it. If you want to be a writer, painter, cartoonist, professional knitter or curler, go for it. What’s holding you back? You’ll be ridiculed/you’re not good/there’s no way you’ll make enough money at it … so what? You shouldn’t let that hold you back. Nor should the “everything’s been done” thing either. So what? It hasn’t been done by you – that alone makes it different. Life is very short, and you can’t keep wishing you would do something while putting it off for one reason or another. To hell with that. If you have a passion, pursue it before it’s too late. Do it now!

Carole: Excellent advice, Andrea. I hope all those creative souls out there take it to heart. Thanks so much for being with us today, and best of luck on your upcoming release!

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Author BioAndrea Speed was born looking for trouble in some hot month without an R in it. While succeeding in finding Trouble, she has also been found by its twin brother, Clean Up, and is now on the run, wanted for the murder of a mop and a really cute, innocent bucket that was only one day away from retirement. (I was framed, I tell you – framed!)

In her spare time, she arms lemurs in preparation for the upcoming war against the Mole Men.

Viva la revolution!

Preorder Infected: Paris HERE.

You can follow Andrea Speed via her website or on Tumblr or 8Tracks.

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Be sure to stay tuned for the March edition of Carole Cummings’ Genre Talk with DSPP author A.J. Marcus.

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