Cover Reveal, Dreamspinner Press

Interview, Excerpt, and Giveaway: “Then the Stars Fall” by Brandon Witt


TNA: Hi, Brandon, thanks for being here with us today. Why don’t we start things off by having you tell readers a little bit about yourself?

Brandon: I am thrilled to be here! I’m so excited to share the cover of Then the Stars Fall with all of you! About me… about me… CliffsNote version is this— I am a thirty-six year old, five foot five, used to be red-head/now getting grey at the temples, man. I am a teacher working with students with emotional disabilities (think lots of anger/outburst/ aggression/sweetness/innocence, all wrapped up in one). I’ve been writing for over twenty years (with a five year hiatus while I was in reparative therapy—yep, still gay). I am the daddy to two wonderful corgis, Dunkyn and Dolan, who are actually major characters in this new novel. I am an uncle to the most wonderful five-year-old boy in the entire world. And I am so grateful to finally be living my dream of being a writer. So wonderful! Continue reading

Jennifer Wright, Totally Bound

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TNA: How long have you been writing?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TNA: Which authors have been your biggest influences?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TNA: Where can readers find you on the internet?

Totally Bound:

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


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

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

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


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

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


Larken stilled at the sound of Zane’s voice.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not nearly as much as I’m hurting now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Then why do you seem so upset?”

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

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

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

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

He would just have to show him instead.

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

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


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

JW: Thanks again for having me as a guest!



Pure Slush Publishing, William Henderson

William Henderson Is Here In The “Second Person, Possessive”, With A Giveaway

TNA: Thanks so much for being here with us today, William. After reading Second Person, Possessive, I’m glad to be able to chat with you about the book.

TNA: What made you decide to share this particular chapter of your life with others?

WH: I didn’t set out to share this story with anyone other than Jay. It began as 100 one-page letters that I wrote during my 72-hour inpatient stay at St. Elizabeth’s in Brighton, Massachusetts. Only later did I think that there was a story inside the letters – and inside the experience – to share.

TNA: Was there any second guessing during the writing process about what should and shouldn’t go into the book?

WH: I wouldn’t say second-guessing as much as a need to prune. The first draft was 517 pages and included every moment from the year or so that the book covers (minus the time jump at the end). Inviting early readers to weigh in on the moments that they felt belonged and didn’t belong helped. I ended up excising moments and conversations that didn’t propel the story. There were only so many arguments about his drug use I needed to include in order for the reader to understand that it was a problem in the relationship, you know.

TNA: Are you afraid some readers might judge you harshly for the way that part of your life played out?

WH: I think that no one will judge me as harshly as I judged myself. I am not the only person to have an affair or come out after marrying a woman. I may, however, be the only person to do it so spectacularly.

TNA: Was there ever a point you asked yourself whether or not you should follow through with publishing the book?

WH: There were points when I wondered if anyone would care about my story, but I never questioned the need to publish it.

TNA: Was writing the book a cathartic experience for you? Were old feelings brought to the surface again, or were those feelings ones that have never really gone away?

WH: I wouldn’t call writing the memoir cathartic in any way. I found writing, re-writing, and re-writing again several parts of the story difficult – almost like I had to do it with my eyes closed. I guess I kept hoping for the story to turn out differently – not that Jay and I would end up together but that I had made better choices. And that’s part of why I feel the story needed to be told. You don’t know in the middle of things why you’re going through them or what they will cause to happen.

TNA: What would you say was the most difficult part of telling your story?

WH: The most difficult part of telling this story was deciding when it ended. I think the ends of things are subjective. I could argue that the story continues, since it informs who I am and how I approach relationships today.

TNA: Do you feel now as if you have some closure on the past, or do you feel like you’re still working on putting paid to it?

WH: I have as much closure as I’m going to get. I’ve emotionally moved on. I suppose I’ll always be nostalgic for him and for what being with him felt like – but it was more dopamine than domestic bliss

TNA: Holly’s support, strength and grace really shone throughout the telling of your story. Was she as supportive when you first told her you were thinking about writing a memoir of that time, or did it take some convincing on your part to bring her on board?

WH: I didn’t need to convince her. She thought it would help me process everything that had happened. I talked to her about how much of Avery to include, since he didn’t ask to get involved in this crazy-train of a situation. But I think she trusted me to be judicious with what I chose to and not to tell.

TNA: In the book you reveal you then suffered from undiagnosed bipolar disorder. With the gift of hindsight, are you now surprised it went undiagnosed for as long as it did?

WH: I am. I look back and see many times when it should have been clearer. I’ve been on medication since that hospitalization and cannot envision a time when I won’t take medication. I enjoy being stable – or more stable than I would otherwise be.

TNA: Are you currently in a relationship? If so, was your partner/spouse supportive of your need to tell your story?

WH: When my boyfriend and I started dating two years ago, I told him the highlights of my relationship with Jay. I also told him about Holly, since she and I were still married, albeit separated and working on divorcing. I let him read the book about 15 months into our relationship, only after I felt there were no surprises in there. I wanted him to know those parts of me organically and not by reading them. I don’t think he really had much of a choice to make – just like he wouldn’t have had a say if I was a banker or real estate agent or something other than a writer.

TNA: How do you think Jay felt about you deciding to tell your story?

WH: I don’t know how Jay felt about the book. He knew I was planning to write our story, and he gave me permission to do it. He stipulated that he wanted a copy of it before I published it. The day before the first excerpt from it appeared in a publication, I gave his roommate a copy of the book to give him. I don’t know if he read it or what he thought about it.

TNA: What’s the one thing you hope for readers to take away from the book?

WH: I hope readers take away the idea that everything happens for a reason, which may be a Pollyanna approach to life but that doesn’t make it any less true.

Blurb: After his affair with a man ended, William Henderson came out to his wife, tried twice to kill himself, and ended up at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Brighton, Massachusetts, where he completed a 72-hour inpatient stay. After putting back together the pieces of his life and redeveloping a friendship with his wife and partner of 12 years, he began learning how to be a single parent to his two-year-old son who didn’t understand why his parents no longer lived together, and figuring out why he was willing to throw everything away for an emotionally abusive man unapologetically addicted to drugs. Second Person, Possessive offers an intimate look at relationships and families, proving that families do not break – they simply untangle and rearrange.

TNA: Would you care to share an excerpt of the book with readers?


How a Clock Without Hands Tells Time

Had Jay simply texted The End I may not have understood any more than I did—than I do—but I would have given him props for the text message. Text after text after text, each more desperate than the one before it, each making promises I couldn’t really keep, and he, keeping me at arm’s length. At phone’s length.

Don’t call me. Don’t text me. We’re done. We’re over. We’re through.

My world collapsing, playing cards tossed out of a simple deck. Fifty-two pieces of shiny paper floating to the floor. Light as a feather, stiff as a board. Shards of glass where a window had been.

Splintered reflections where once I saw—

“What brings you here, Bill?”

I hate her already, because my name is not Bill.

This woman—Carrie, she said in introduction—is the fifth psychiatrist I’ve talked to since I signed myself into St. Elizabeth’s for a 72-hour inpatient observation. Talking to the first psychiatrist was difficult, the story still bottled in me. Messages tossed out to sea, adrift, waiting to be read. To be heard. Filled with secrets and mysteries. A lock waiting to be turned.

When I talked to her, I was still living the story.

I’m in a different story now.

“Bill,” Carrie asks, pulling me from my thoughts that won’t can’t don’t stop, despite my knowing that all I should do is silence the voices that tell me to wait and be patient and he’ll come around and everything will be OK.

“Will,” I say, probably more harshly than I should, “My name is Will.”

“Will,” Carrie says.

She makes a note of it on one of several pieces of paper she has in her lap.

Wonder what else has been written about me. And what my wife, Holly, is doing and if our son, Avery, knows he’ll see me later and what my boyfriend—ex-boyfriend—Jay is doing and what time it is.

Not allowed to know what time it is here. Measure days in terms of sleep, and I’m sleeping more than I usually sleep, so today could be Monday or Tuesday or Thursday next week. Time, slippery, fast for a while, then slow—my thoughts racing around, wild thoroughbreds intent on winning, then mares out to pasture.

Carrie. Probably in her late forties. A slight accent. She crosses her legs; the papers in her lap make the sound paper makes when it rubs against other sheets of paper.

“Can you tell me what brought you to St. Elizabeth’s?” Carrie asks.

St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Brighton, Massachusetts, a hospital once synonymous with mental health care for young adults. Somewhere in the hospital is a rusted iron lung and rooms where children met with therapists and psychiatrists and took pills to make them big and small and big again.

Chalkboards with faded fingerprints and window blinds hanging half open on dusty windows. Entire wings of the hospital shuttered and closed, forgotten. Stories of screams and screamers, forgotten. Closed.

My wife, Holly, brought me, I want to say.

Don’t be glib, Holly would say, if she were here.

I’m 33, and people have been calling me a faggot since I was 10, when I asked during sex education if two men could make a baby together. The rumors followed me from elementary school through middle school and again through high school and college. I couldn’t be gay, I said, since I was attracted to women, and dated them, albeit unsuccessfully. Didn’t stop the rumors and the name-calling and how some people wouldn’t walk on the same side of the hall with me in case I had AIDS. Learned to ignore the rumors, but couldn’t ignore the underlying message that who I am and what I wanted is wrong.

“Are you thinking about killing yourself today?” Carrie asks.

“Not today,” I say.

My thoughts shouldn’t be this twisted, not when I’m so far removed from what twisted them in the first place.

“Did you think about killing yourself yesterday?” she asks.

“Not yesterday, either,” I say.

“But last week you did,” Carrie says.

So today is Monday.

Five days ago, everything broke, when I felt like I was falling into a black hole. Going supernova. Exploding.

Multiple explosions since the text message from Jay ending our relationship, the text message that should have just said The End instead of all of the hateful things his text message said.

Five days since the text message and the pills.

Four days since the bridge.

Three days since Holly suggested I sign myself into St. Elizabeth’s. Since doing so, July turned to August.

Measure time in sleeps and moments and the number of hours between seeing and seeing again. Bats in the belfry and keys to his home and the side of his bed that he called my side of the bed. Made his bed before I left that last morning. Took him lunch during his break. Called him that night. And called and called. He didn’t pick up and eventually turned off his phone.

“Have you tried to kill yourself before?” Carrie asks.

“No,” I say.

“Did you want to die?”


I should tell her that I didn’t want to die, but I wanted to die.



J.H. Trumble

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TNA: What is the perfect writing atmosphere for you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JHT: No favorite that I can point to.

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

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

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

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

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

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

JHT: Sure! Here you go:

Excerpt from Just Between Us

Curtis takes an HIV test


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

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

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

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

“About four days.”

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


“When did you last take it?”

“A couple of hours ago.”

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

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

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

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

“That’s my dad.”

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

“Mostly bridges and roads.”

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

“She died when I was a baby.”

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

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

“No blood test?” I ask.

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

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

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

“Okay. Great.”

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

“I will.”

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

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

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

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

“No, I’m fine. Thanks.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Cody Kennedy, Harmony Ink Press

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

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

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

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

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

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

TNA: What is the perfect writing atmosphere for you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TNA: Conversely, what makes you cry?

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

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

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

TNA: Do you have any pets?

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

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

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

TNA: Where can readers find you on the internet?


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

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

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


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

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

“Can I ask you some things?”

“You know you can ask me anything.”

“Does the publicity bother you?”

“What publicity? You mean about the meets?”


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

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

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

“What did you do?”

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

“You don’t care what they say?”

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

“So you simply ignore this?”

“Yes. Why do you want to know?”

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

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


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

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

“She’s famous.”

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

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

“You do not tell them to stop?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christy continued to look up at Michael.

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

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




About Cody:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 27th – Author Wade Kelly – Character Interview with Christy Castle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Get ready to read and win!

Dreamspinner Press, J Tullos Hennig

J Tullos Hennig Has Taken A Break From Writing To Stop In For A Chat. She’s Also Brought Gifts!

TNA: Hi, J, thanks so much for being here with us today. Why don’t we start out by having you tell us a little bit about yourself? Hobbies, interests, odds and ends, things that make you, you.

JTH: Well, first I want to thank you for having me on your blog; you are a gracious and lovely host!

Hm. The main thing that makes me, me? The writing. Always there, no less a part of me than my heart beating, really. My amazing spouse has been in my heart only 17 years less than the writing, and we have terrific children and grandchildren. The rest is perhaps odd with a lot of ends as of late. I recently retired from being a professional equestrian of over 30 years. Spouse and I have been archery enthusiasts off and on, more off lately so the island deer are probably safe. I’ve danced since childhood, teach bellydance and, before my knees started giving me fits, was a regular performer in restaurants and at Ren Faires. Our house is empty of dog presence for the first time in… oh… forever, so I’m looking, particularly if anyone has a nice borzoi…

TNA: Who would you say are your biggest literary influences?

JTH: I should have to say Hail to the Three Marys: Mary Renault, Mary O’Hara, and Mary Stewart. Very different, but alike in that their command of language, emotions and imagery is superb; their work, even the lighter fare, I can read over and over again. Parke Godwin, who by sublime example taught me two things: it’s all right to write thick, evocative prose, and that craft is neither quick nor easy. James Goldman–anyone who can write dialogue like The Lion in Winter needs to be emulated, and often! Poe. Felix Salton. L.M. Montgomery. Virginia Woolf. Robert Graves. And Ray Bradbury, who has never made the mistake of equalling short with shallow or undemanding.

TNA: Who would you say is your biggest real-life influence? Was there someone who encouraged your love of writing?

JTH: Quite the opposite, actually. My writing was not taken seriously when I was younger. But it doesn’t have to quash you; honestly, it can be one hell of a crucible. Particularly if the muse refuses to be cast out. ;)

And things change as you get older. You find kindred spirits. My spouse has always been, in his own way, a steadfast support. There was one incident I really remember in school, where I was writing a scene and doodling pictures of it instead of paying attention. My scribblings got confiscated in front of everyone and I was mortified. The teacher came up to me after class and handed it back. Said it sounded really good and she hoped I’d finish it… I was gobsmacked. It was the beginning of being informed: “You do know you really can do this, don’t you?” Another teacher suggested I think about getting published. That was a rather surreal (and often uncomfortable) introduction, not to having a voice because I was determined to have that, but to having one’s voice really heard. Validation, sure, but even more a conversation. I still have a lot of work that is only known to the wall or the fetishes perched on my desk shelves. But the storyteller in my spirit has always been kind of insistent about, well, telling the story.

TNA: Have you always written fantasy?

JTH: I would have to say that most of my writing has had a fantastical element to it. Even my Historical novels (like Greenwode and Shirewode) tend to have a bit of faery dust layered on the chronicled facts. Contemporary is not my gig, really, but some years back I did write a contemporary fantasy with which a screenwriter friend came this close to a movie option for us. I’ve also done my share of non-fiction articles, mostly about equestrian sport, writing and dance.

I guess my sweet spot writing-wise is that mythic, interstitial something best called Speculative, residing in some other time with a liberal dollop of the far-out.

TNA: What is it about writing in that particular sub-genre that appeals to you most?

JTH: The subtext of subversion. Taking a serious left turn along societal norms and mores, questioning what beautiful and terrible things make a world while observing what the inhabitants of that world make of it. So many books–even ones that should be subversive–are relentlessly set in the expectations of the Now we live in, and so many people are fixed in an idea/l of reality that simply is not the only one. The book that makes me think, that pushes me out of my own vistas?–that’s a book I will remember and re-read for a long time. And I hope to achieve the same with every book I write.

TNA: In your books Greenwode, and now Shirewode, you’ve blended the legend of Robin Hood with Geoffrey Chaucer’s “The Tale of Gamelyn”. How did you come up with the idea to bring these two legends and two characters together into a series?

JTH: Oh, now you’ve put the cat in with the canaries… Firstly, I have to squee over the fact that you know who Gamelyn is! Secondly, I could talk about thematic and lit and history aspects all the day, so just edit me with a meat axe if I start to geek out. ;)

So, Robyn and Gamelyn… It was quite organic, truly. Rather like separate vines trailing out and catching on whatever they touch, and before you realise it there’s this entire connected system. Robyn had been lurking in my subconscious for just, well, forever, and there were other outlaws that I read about and ultimately became fascinated by. Robyn, like all real leaders, is so strongly defined by those who follow him–his Merry Band–so I was looking for ones to fill the communal dynamic. And I have a huge gooey centre when it comes to secondary characters. The ‘Merries’ are fascinating, particularly Little John, who in many of the ballads is basically co-leader and Robyn’s reality check. There’s this whole homosocial dynamic going on that the addition of a female–usually Marion–can both emphasise and contradict. But there were other outlaws informing and peripheral to Robyn’s legend: Foulke fitz Waryn, Adam Bell, and a whole plethora that you just have to be an Medieval Lit geek to know. And there was Gamelyn. The more I read about Gamelyn, the more intriguing it got. Gamelyn is tied in so many subterranean ways to the Robin Hood legend, and before I knew it those stealthy creeper-vines had caught me up and twined me in.

See, Greenwode originally began over thirty years ago as a trilogy that was on the verge of contract with an SFF publisher. Then that publisher died and a lot of things that were going to happen didn’t. It was a run of very, very bad luck on so many fronts. In that first incarnation, Gamelyn was there, but merely on the periphery, a knight who came to Robyn to help him regain his lands. It’s a major part of the RH legend, and also was conversant with “Tale of Gamelyn” insofar that Gamelyn regained his inheritance. He and Robyn weren’t lovers in the original Greenwode, though there was the mythic Holly/Ivy/Oak triad scenario that runs so strongly through Greenwode and Shirewode now. Marion wasn’t Rob’s sister, either; the original was much more along the usual romantic storyline. I ended up putting the manuscript into the bottom of my file cabinet and didn’t look at it again. But the story just wouldn’t leave me alone, the connections with Robyn and Gamelyn wouldn’t be shrugged off, it just kept morphing and changing in my subconscious. It just flat needed a better writer than I was then. My original rubric of Holly King/Oak King rivalling for the Ivy Maid was all still there, but now with this absolutely fascinating (to me, anyway) layer of the two Kings being lovers as well as rivals. It’s the mythic/social/personal triumvirate of terror! Who could resist detangling all these things twining together? Not me.

Gah, I’ll belt up now. I did warn you.

TNA: How many hours of research would you say has gone into the writing of this series?

JTH: Wow. I don’t think I could calculate it. This legend and period in history has been a lifelong passion, gathering bits here and there. When I try to calculate all the research from the first time around with Greenwode, including trips into Robyn’s home territory… as well as the past several years, since research never stops… it’s rather obsessive, actually. I love doing research and will cop to being a bit hardcore about it, but also try to not take myself too seriously over it. History was chronicled by conquerors, after all. This is fiction. Sometimes Fact has to be sloughed away because it just don’t work with what Story demands, and for me, Story trumps everything. But it is a fine tightrope to walk.

So I guess the answer would be less ‘hours’ and more like ‘years’. ;)

TNA: Religion (Christianity vs. Paganism) is the fulcrum upon which all the conflict between Rob and Gamelyn rests. My feeling, after reading Greenwode, was that Christianity comes off as a very real villain, standing in the way of Rob and Gamelyn’s happiness. How much did your own beliefs influence your telling of the story?

JTH: Belief is a fascinating word, isn’t it? Even by saying ‘I believe’ conjures an implied focus and assumption of knowledge. It is inevitable, isn’t it?–what experiences a writer possesses–or doesn’t–will influence what we write, and the assumptions made therein will naturally speak more to those who’ve endured something like.

Yet my focus also has to be subordinate to what the characters are experiencing. As a writer, I need to honour their internal workings–which are often not entirely the same as my own. There’s a disconnect that is very important, despite that our characters are also very much an inexplicable part of us. It seems to me that if we as writers don’t have both strong connection and necessary detachment, the stories we’re telling will in consequence bear little, if any, resonance outward.

Given that, the narrators of Greenwode are young and see things very much in black and white so, yes, the Church gets rather a hard shake. I say hard instead of unfair, because too many horrible things have been done in the name of religion–most often by people who take good teachings and twist them to fit their own prejudices. I think the enculturation of faith is massively important, particularly in this timeframe. It’s all about power, isn’t it?–having it, or lacking it. Class warfare and religious intolerance have historically gone hand in hand. Tolerance is a bit more difficult when one’s survival is under siege–not impossible, certainly, but difficult. I do sincerely hope it comes across that the pains of enculturation go both ways in the Wode books. There is a subtext to be gleaned from the supporting characters’ actions, a glimmer of reality through the naïve cracks of the main characters’ PoV. The take home villain is not necessarily meant to be a particular faith, but what things, fair or foul, people do with faith. How they bind themselves in blind obedience to a One Truth. The problem being, of course, that there are so many truths.

TNA: Did Rob and/or Gamelyn give you fits as you were writing, not wanting to cooperate with where you saw their story going?

JTH: Of course! But I’ve found, when characters are particularly non-compliant, it’s often my fault, not theirs. I’ve stopped paying attention, gone off the rails somehow. The characters usually know best. I might be convinced I see the story unfolding–yet I might be wrong.

There’s an odd discipline within the act of just letting go–and its hard. But it seems to me respect must be given to the story that needs to be told. We just need to be… present for it. There’s this mix of terror and joy and trepidation going in, and the hope that your skills are equal to the task… and sometimes they’re not–so you wait, because eventually, you will mature. If, of course, you’re open to it. And the fits that come are part of it. Kind of like raising toddlers, eh? Except taller, with serious weaponry.

How is it that all my characters are so deedy with sharp objects? Well, I’ve the upper hand in this much: if they off me, who’ll tell their story? Ha!

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

JTH: It’s very hard to pick favourites, because I tend to empathise with all of them–even the antagonists–for such differing reasons… it’s that old saw, ‘apples and oranges’. But I do have a squishy place in my heart for supporting characters. They sneak in and demand their due whilst you’re in awash in brain storms over the main protagonists’ issues… and those supporting characters are the ones who usually end up knocking me arse over tit at how mercilessly they make you care for them. The stablelad John did that, in Greenwode. I thought him a mere walk-on, but he showed me, just took over who he was, and why. And I love the animals. They have their own strong personalities, too. Diamant (Gamelyn’s charger) was a favourite. And there’s another animal familiar/favourite you’ll meet in Shirewode.

TNA: Do you have an all-time favorite literary character? If so, who and why?

JTH: Um… Robin Hood? :)

TNA: If you could sit down to dinner with one person, past or present, who would it be, and what’s the one question you’d love to ask that person?

JTH: It came to me that Hypatia would be just as much a geeky bookworm as myself, involved as she was with the library of Alexandria. I would ask her what it was like, to be surrounded by all of those ancient histories, to be able to just reach out and touch them…

But I don’t think I would want to ask her what it was like to watch all that beautiful knowledge wiped out by narrow-minded zealots.

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

JTH: Well, I did just write ‘The End’ on my newest novel, so I can share that. Wild Indigo is the first in what I hope will be a Speculative Fiction series. It’s set in a Bronze Age type society where shamanism is all but forbidden, and deals with what happens when a young male of the chieftain’s clan hits maturity and starts showing signs of elemental possession. There’ll be some invading aliens and genetic engineering thrown in the mix, too. ;) It’s not based on the usual Fantasy dynamic of western European culture. Not that I don’t love that dynamic–the Wode books are proof of that–but there are many others left wanting.

TNA: Where can readers find you on the internet?

JTH: I’m still learning to navigate the social media thing, but I do have a website that lists most of the important bits:

–And a blog that I’m still moving into and attempting to master (though I think it’s more mastering me), mostly musings about stories and telling them:

–And I have a Facebook page:

I welcome email correspondence from readers and do my best to answer questions.

Of course, if I’m in the middle of a writing jag, I will likely be absent from all of the above. Nobody should take that personally.

TNA: Would you like share an excerpt from Greenwode or Shirewode with us?

JTH: Of course! How about Shirewode?


Robyn didn’t go hunting. Instead of taking down some hapless game—their larder was stocked well enough, anyway—he ended up taking out some aggression on scrap of cloth hung against a tree.

Considerable archery practice—at sheriff’s men as well as target clouts—had rehabilitated his left arm to nigh his old skill. He felt a man—his own man—again. The old monster of a Welsh longbow that had lain sleeping in Cernun’s care was at his back again, her spirit submitting gladly instead of struggling and besting him. The feel of nigh three ells of yew giving to his push and sighing at his pull like a satisfied lover was, sometimes, better than sex.

And this release had its own satisfactions.

Right now, he was imagining a ginger-haired hillock of heartbreak at the end of that release. The arrows sang, hit and hummed, one after the other, deadly accuracy and economy.

I thought you were dead, you Motherless sod. John told me they’d sent you to war, and we all know the odds of a young soldier surviving… it sounds all of danger and hot glory to fight for king and country, only our king is a Norman who refuses to even speak our tongue, so how much would he value our Mother’s sons?

Another three arrows, lining up, one next to the other and the other.

So long… years of it… first Marion then you, ripped from me, always wondering how and why, never feeling whole… the pain there but not… like Arthur, with his missing arm aching in the damp.

Two, in-between the three, a finger-length upward. Then four below, two fingers down. The clout was edged with Gilbert’s goose- and peacock-fletched arrows.

Had Gamelyn… felt it? Could it even be possible he had not?

Robyn stalked over to the tree and pulled his arrows from the clout. Several of them had pierced altogether deep; he tugged the clout away and tossed it aside. Working the bodkins from the rough bark, he exhaled a soft, healing benison, saw the white-blue sparks dancing about the trunk and knew the apology had been accepted.

Not for the first time, he wondered what the world had been like when everyone could see these things, could feel and sense the other realities hovering just beneath this one. For surely it depended upon the day whether he himself thought such a possibility either wondrous or one flaming mad.

Realized, suddenly, the tree he had spitted then caressed was an oak.

Always the slap with the kiss….

Memory ripped at its old, festering scab once more, so merciless that it made his knees wobble. Robyn clutched at the tree, found tears, sudden and hot, filling his eyes.

Found the demand burning through his mind: Why didna you tell me?

The answer, when it came, was slow, almost as if the Horned Lord was spending his thoughts in aimless drift through the trees. There was nothing to tell.

Nowt to—”

He was dead to us. Beyond my reach.

The sense of it trickled through, cooled Robyn’s outrage as swift as it had risen. “And now… he is not.”

Now, he has returned.

“Will he come?” He didn’t dare hope—didn’t want hope—but it warbled through the words, nonetheless.

He will not be able to resist. There was a dark, eerie satisfaction in the words, telling Robyn the Horned Lord had spent much energy into the wait.

A wait that, until this moment, Robyn had not recognized he’d had.

He is not the lad you knew.

“Neither am I,” he whispered. “I’m not sure I know me, most days.”

Summer has returned to our land, my own. We must make sure, you and I, it cannot leave again. However that must be.

There was a threat beneath the words, stirring resentment in Robyn’s belly. “I was told he didna mean—”

It does not matter. He was cause for betrayal and would do so again in a heart’s beat. He has turned his face from me. From you. The tynged that would swirl about him is foreign, dangerous.

“But I felt—”

He is your rival. You forget that at your peril. You played well, but you lost, little pwca. Do not presume you can game so recklessly again.

As the consciousness faded from his own, warning, Robyn smiled.

“What else, o my lord, does your pwca do?”




Dreamspinner Press, Wade Kelly

We Invited Wade Kelly To Stop By And Discuss “The Cost of Loving”. And Yes, There Are Goodies Involved!

The Novel Approach is so pleased to welcome Wade as our guest today, so go grab yourself a drink, kick back in a comfy chair, and read on. Hint: Giveaway details are at the end. :)

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

WK: On Twitter it says: “I’m an author of m/m romantic fiction for Dreamspinner Press. I’m sarcastic. I like snakes. I can’t spell. And I have a tendency to make people cry.” This could not be more true. I am a mother of three. I have a hard time balancing everything in my life, but it is getting easier as people in my life encourage and support me in my writing endeavors.

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

WK: Lonliness. I had two small children in 2006 and while spending long hours alone with them, I began talking to myself in a sense by writing characters. I wrote 284,000 words in 8 months. It was sci-fi and is yet unpublished.

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

WK: I was inspired to write a story for a friend on how he would meet his “Prince Charming”.

TNA: You recently “came out” as a woman. This totally blew apart the mental picture I had of you. Why did you decide to do this now?

WK: I heard tales of other authors who “hid their identities” in order to sell more books. That wasn’t my intent. I did it out of a need to survive. In order to write at all, I had to be “someone else.” People assuming I was male made my secrecy easier, but it was also dishonest. The success of Jock spurred on my deep need to be honest and forthright. I “hid” to be ABLE to write, but hiding as success was looming felt wrong. As I moved into a new stage of life away from a hurtful set of people and found REAL friends, I found I no longer needed to hide. So, I came out. Then, if people liked my books, I knew it would not be because they thought I was a man.

TNA: From where did you choose the name Wade Kelly?

WK: Sliders! It was a TV show from the 90’s I think. Wade Wells. She was one of the main characters. And since she was a “she” I thought Wade would be more neutral, but it wasn’t. Oh well. And I like the name Kelly form a girl I went to school with in elementary school.

TNA: What is the perfect writing atmosphere for you?

WK: Perfect quiet. No children in the house!

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

WK: This is the age group where I see the most despair. I draw my stories from culture. I want to bring a little hope, if I can. I use that one picture (I’m sure you’ve seen it) as my icon the most because I think the stats are alarming and sad. “40% of homeless youth are LGBT. And the #1 reason they are on the street is family rejection.” The thought pains me.

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

WK: Some. Paul Richmond did a great job with When Love Is Not Enough. And Enny was spectacular on The Cost of Loving. I think all the designers have to do is show it to me and I’ve been happy.

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

WK: No. I like the “inspirational” pictures but I cannot say I have seen one and wrote anything based on one.

TNA: You blog a lot about the ups and downs of the creative process and the frustrations you have had while turning The Cost of Loving from an idea to a manuscript to a hold-it-in-your hands book. How has the feedback been from your fans to you sharing so much of yourself with us?

WK: Some fans were “taken a back” by my “coming out” so to say, but most fans were very gracious. They have always been supportive and encouraging and patient. Especially waiting so long for this next book. This fact influenced my dedication in the front of the book.

TNA: In My Roommate’s a Jock? Well Crap! you destroyed some long-held stereotypes about jocks and nerds. Was this something you had planned, or did it just evolve as the story developed?

WK: Oh, I planned it. I like mixing things up.

TNA: Another author recently began the third installment of a popular series and as he started writing, he said, “Man, I’ve missed you guys.” Did you feel that way about Matt and Darian in between <iWhen Love is Not Enough and The Cost of Loving?

WK: Yes and No. The Cost of Loving took 2 years of editing. I don’t think it was ever off my table. I’ve been plugging away at it forever. It was more like “finally,” sigh.

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

WK: Quirky and acquired. I often think I am only laughing at myself and others think my sense of humor is stupid.

TNA: If you could sit down to dinner with one person, past or present, who would it be and what’s the one question you’d love to ask?

WK: Lol. I have no clue. Maybe Sir Elton John. He is famous, but wasn’t always so. And he’s gay, which was not always something he could probably deal with. I guess I would ask him how he handled being gay in a time when that wasn’t accepted and grasp for his dream while being persecuted? Assuming he underwent persecution in the early years.

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

WK: Names Can Never Hurt Me. It is about stereotypes and bullying. And like Jock, I mix it up and try something different with the stereotyping. Stay tuned. It is at 59,000 words and I hope to finish it before GRL in October. I also submitted a short story to Dreamspinner for the Advent Calendar in December called Last Minute Shopping.

TNA: Where can readers find you on the internet?

WK: , also on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, Goodreads, and blogspot.

TNA: Would you like share an excerpt from The Cost of Loving with us?



I feel him enter my body and everything else drains away. I’m no longer me. I become the pliable embodiment of orgasmic rapture when he sinks impossibly deep inside and touches those spots that never knew pleasure before. His titillating touch transforms me into a wanton beast of insatiable lust, and I’ve never felt as ravenous as I do in his arms.

It frightens me—this unquenchable desire. What will I become when the thunderous throes of gratification end and I’m simply left with a hollow heart?

I have no answer.

Chapter 1

September 28, 2010

Teetering on the verge of an anxiety attack, Matthias Dixon drove to work with his brain on autopilot. His nerves were shot—not because his best friend, Jimmy, affectionately known as “Jamie,” died last week; not because he came out to his entire church congregation and faced possible excommunication; not because he feared confrontation from his family; and certainly not because he didn’t want to be gay. Matt drove to the fire station Tuesday morning practically hyperventilating and shaking in his skin because he had to step back into his everyday routine and leave one very important piece of himself at home in his bed: Darian Weston.

Inexplicably, Matt could not function without holding Darian.

What the fuck is wrong with me? Matt thought for the thousandth time.

He’d only just met Darian last Wednesday. Any sane person would not become attached to another person so quickly… would they? Maybe that was the reason. Matt was insane! He could believe it. It had been an extremely difficult week, full of high emotion and stress. Watching as Jamie’s casket was lowered into the ground almost did him in. That is, until he saw Darian completely break down.

Matt had been standing there drowning in his own sorrow as the pastor spoke a few last words but when Darian crumpled to the earth sobbing, Matt felt his inner Legolas—his champion—take over. He couldn’t let Darian suffer alone. He had to go to him and comfort him—protect him. Darian’s heart was broken. Jamie would want Matt to take care of him.

Matt could easily rationalize his actions with the facts: (1) Darian had been Jamie’s fiancé; (2) Jamie had loved Darian; (3) Matt had been Jamie’s best friend; and (4) Darian was Matt’s last physical link to Jamie. Conclusion: Matt needed to care for Darian.
The only complication was sex.

Matt had had sex with Darian. Lots of sex! Darian was like a drug, and Matt’s senses craved more with every touch. Matt knew it was wrong to swoop in on Jamie’s territory so soon after his death, but it had happened accidentally. At least he kept telling himself that. The first few times could be attributed to bad judgment, but the last few… several… several… times could not be blown off as “accidental”. Even after Matt knew who Darian was, he still went back for more and unabashedly fucked him without restraint.

As he drove to work, Matt tried to clear his mind. Who was he kidding? He was intoxicated by a living opiate, and there was no twelve-step program to cure him.

Staind came on the radio, and Matt sang along. When the chorus played, he got the eerie impression the song was written for him. “I can’t live without, all I think about, all I want is you….”

It was all so true.

For the second time in his life, Matt’s hands shook. He turned the corner onto Main Street and thought back to the day he had heard of Jamie’s death, and his hands quaked uncontrollably for several minutes. He wasn’t able to control his nerves then, and now it was happening again only for different reasons. At the red light, he groped under the seat for the crumpled brown bag he remembered from three weeks ago. He inhaled the stench of greasy burgers in a desperate attempt to control his breathing. When the light turned green, he flung the useless bag to the floor. He didn’t need a fucking bag! He couldn’t breathe because he missed Darian’s scent. He couldn’t think because he missed Darian’s voice. Even the steering wheel felt unbearably ridged because his fingers craved Darian’s smooth skin.


Thanks so much for taking the time to answer all our nosy questions, Wade, and also for sharing that excerpt with us!

Now, let’s talk contest, shall we? Wade is offering the chance for one lucky reader to win an E-copy of either When Love is not Enough or The Cost of Loving, and entering this giveaway couldn’t be simpler!

All you have to do is leave a comment right here on this post by 11:59pm Pacific time on Saturday, August 17, 2013. and ba-da-boom, ba-da-bing, you’re automatically entered to win! The winner will be drawn on Sunday, August 18th via and notified via email for prize delivery.

Thanks for stopping by, everyone, and best of luck to you all!


A six-year downward spiral into a world of lies and deception leads to the end of one man’s life when self-discovery crosses the line between being the perfect son or following his heart. 

Jimmy Miller never intended to lead a double life starting the day he fell in love with Darian, but his parents’ divorce, fighting in school, and constantly keeping secrets for his closeted best friend and protector, Matt, force his hand. Jimmy finds the demands too great to withstand and ends it all prematurely, leaving behind an angry best friend and a shattered lover. 

Matt and Darian cling to one another in the aftermath of their loss, forging a new friendship immediately tested by the truths of their relationships with Jimmy that are hidden in the pages of Jimmy’s journals. Will Matt and Darian discover what truly happened to their friend? And will this tragedy birth something beautiful between them as they learn the balance between life, family, and friendship when love is simply not enough?

Matt Dixon, a young firefighter, is the golden child of his family, and he never dreamed that coming out would challenge more than the way his church sees him. 

For years, Matt has led a double life hoping to avoid ridicule. When a self-righteous pastor’s statements provoke him to defend his recently deceased best friend’s honor and subsequently out himself, he suffers the brutal aftermath of his revelation. Everyone in his life, including his family and his new lover, Darian, must deal with the ramifications as Matt struggles to come to terms with guilt, shame, and his very belief in God. 

Darian Weston lost his fiancé when Jamie took his life, and his feelings for Matt added guilt to his burden of grief. Confused and lonely, Darian clings to Matt despite his inner strife. But small-town realities keep intruding, and if Matt and Darian hope to make a life together, they must first take a stand for what they believe in, even if they fear the cost.

Sarah Madison

Sarah Madison’s Brought Her “Boys of Summer” For A Visit, And She’s Offering A Giveaway!

TNA: Hi, Sarah, thanks so much for being here with us today. Why don’t we start out by having you tell us a little bit about yourself? Hobbies, interests, odds and ends things that make you, you.

SM: Thank you for having me here today! Well, I don’t know that there is that much to tell. I used to write when I was a child, but stopped when I went away to college. I thought it was something I needed to put aside in order to grow up. I was being ‘realistic’, I told myself. Up until that time, I’d been very creative. I was involved in the local theater and on the school forensics team. I sang and wrote stories. But that was for children, right? I shut my creative self up in a box and ignored it for twenty years while I concentrated on building a career. Then one day a friend introduced me to online fanfiction archives and it blew the doors on my exile wide open. I haven’t been the same since.

I’m a veterinarian by day, so my hobbies and interests tend to revolve around animals too. I ride in the equine sport of eventing, and enjoy hiking with my big dog. I love taking pictures too, but I think there is a German Shepherd permanently etched in my viewfinder because there seems to be one in every photograph I take.

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

It’s funny you should ask that—I started out writing general stories and couldn’t figure out what was wrong with them. I finally realized I wanted to have my two main—male—characters hook up! What an eye-opening experience that was for me. I took to M/M romance like it was a drug. Really, it felt as though I’d found adult romance for the first time ever. There is so much I love about M/M romance—but not the least of which is that the two protagonists in the story are meeting on equal footing. They take turns being the hero—or the one being saved.

A lot of the tropes about romance in general don’t work quite the same way in M/M romances. I do find myself gradually considering branching out into M/F romances however. I take it as a personal challenge to create a female heroine I don’t want to slap twenty pages into the story! :-)

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

SM: Some friends of mine had been pushing me to try my hand at original publishing for a while—and then I saw a submission call from Dreamspinner Press for their First Contact anthology. I wrote Scavenger Hunt and sent it in. They declined it for the anthology—they said they had too many similar submissions—but they liked it enough that they encouraged me to re-submit it to the main site. I did, and the rest is history. I’m finding out that the short story is really not my forte. Even when I set out to write short stories, they seem to turn into novels!

But the moment I decided to start writing again began much earlier. I’d immersed myself in fanfiction, reading everything I could get my hands on. Finally, I could resist no longer—I was compelled to write my own story! I sat down and started typing—the words flowed out of me and I didn’t stop until I was done. It took me a while to get the hang of writing in segments—of not having to finish every story in a burst of concentrated energy. That’s the wonderful thing about fanfiction , though. You love those characters so much that you have to tell more stories about them. Your love for them overcomes fear, lack of confidence, and inexperience. In five years of writing fanfiction, I logged over a million words in storytelling. By the time I’d reached that point, I felt like I had nothing to lose by sending a story to a publisher.

TNA: Let’s chat a little bit about your new book The Boys of Summer? How did you come up with the idea for the book?

SM: I already had these two characters in mind in what was a contemporary story—but I kept seeing one in a RAF pilot’s uniform leaning against the side of a Spitfire. I couldn’t shake the image, so I decided it would be part of a dream sequence—only once I began the research into the details I needed, I dove straight into history and didn’t come up for air for nearly a month. I was stunned at how little I knew of the period surrounding the Battle of Britain—or the sacrifices these young pilots made. I knew a simple dream sequence wouldn’t do justice to these young men, and so I began to weave elements from the story into the dream and back out again.

I know the dream sequence doesn’t work for some people because it occupies a good bit of the book. But I think it is crucial to understanding Rick and David today because we know now how things would have played out if they’d met during WWII.

TNA: Did either of the main characters give you fits as you were writing, not wanting to cooperate with where you saw their story going?

SM: Well, not after I acquiesced and gave Rick his chance to be the sacrificial hero. :-) Before that, I couldn’t get anything done until I’d told the ‘older’ story first.

My characters are often uncooperative, but only when I try to make them do things that simply aren’t right for them. Once I figure that out, they practically tell their own stories!

TNA: Is this your first self-published title?

SM: It is, and man, what a learning curve! I had a lot of help and I still made some embarrassing mistakes. I’ve gone back and corrected most of them, but I still come across things that make me wince.

TNA: What made you decide to try the self-pubbing route? Do you see this becoming a more common and attractive option for authors, moving forward?

SM: I wasn’t sure this story had a home with a publisher. There was a good bit of personal involvement for me on this one, and I was concerned that the section I thought was the most important—the dream sequence—would be the one to suffer the editorial hatchet. :-)

I also was curious about the self-publishing process. I knew that I could get a greater share of the royalties, that I would have creative control. In a way, this has been one of the most emotionally satisfying stories I’ve ever produced because I’ve invested so much more into it, both in terms of time and money.

That said, I found the self-publishing process daunting, and if I hadn’t had someone with IT experience to willingly help me, I don’t think I would have managed on my own. Even so, the formatting and uploading process took nine hours that first day. I’m sure I would get faster with time, but I’m not sure it is a good use of my time. This story has gotten wonderful reviews and is on the Goodreads list of Best M/M Romances of 2013 (which staggers me as it was only released in April!) but I strongly suspect that it would have sold much better if I’d gone through a publisher. I thought because I had a platform in place, self-pubbing would be a snap in terms of promotion. Boy, was I wrong!

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

SM: I have a special place in my heart for Rodney, the philosophical gargoyle from Raincheck. He’s surly because he is lonely. By day, he’s a stone gargoyle. Each night, as dusk falls, he comes to life and watches over one of the tenants in his building. He builds quite the fantasy about their potential life together, all the while knowing that the day they tear his building down will be the day he ceases to exist. He takes books out of the bins at the used bookstore but he always makes sure he leaves something in return. I keep thinking one day I’ll come back to his world and write more about him. I adore him. :-)

TNA: Do you have an all-time favorite literary character? If so, who and why?

SM: Oooh. Tough question. I have so many favorite characters. I’d have to go with Lord Peter Wimsey from the Dorothy Sayers novels. He’s intelligent and educated, but sensitive, too. Over the course of the series, he grows as a character, becoming less of the act he portrays in public and more of the private man. I love, too, that his relationship with Harriet Vane is an adult one. He does her the honor of treating her like an equal—something that is so very hard to find in a traditional romance. I suspect it is because the Wimsey novels are primarily mysteries with romantic interruptions, but I would be proud if I could ever write a character or a series a tenth as good.

TNA: If you could sit down to dinner with one person, past or present, who would it be, and what’s the one question you’d love to ask that person?

SM: And I thought the last question was tough! This is the kind of question that is often asked in an interview of this sort, and I never know how to answer it. In part because I don’t want to appear shallow or conceited, either, for that matter. In part because my answer changes. At the moment, I think my answer would be Barak Obama. The first time I ever heard him speak was on the NPR radio show Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me. He was articulate and funny, and I remember thinking, ‘wow, he’s pretty cool for a Senator. Why can’t all politicians be so well-informed?’

I’d ask him if it had been worth it. That if he could go back and speak to that Senator, would he do anything differently?

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

SM: Ah. I am currently working on a couple of projects. My main WIP is the long-overdue sequel to Unspeakable Words. I’d always intended for it to be a three book series, but somehow along the way I got sidetracked into working on other things. Things ended on a pretty wild note in Unspeakable Words—I really owe it to the guys to finish their story. Unfortunately for them, I am an evil, terrible person, and they’ve gone from the frying pan into the fire. :-) I don’t want to spoil things for the potential reader, so I’ll stop there.

I have sequels planned for the vampire/shifter story Crying for the Moon as well. I want to tell the story how Nick met Peter—two of the secondary characters in the story that I fell in love with, much to my surprise! And the nemesis of the first story, Victor, isn’t going to give up on getting revenge on Alex. Oh, the terrible things I plan to do to my boys! I believe in making them work for their happy endings. :-)

I’m also toying with my first major M/F story. It’s on the back burner for the moment while I try to decide whether or not I want to publish it under my current pen name or create a new persona for a totally different genre. Part of me thinks this would just be starting over again, so I haven’t decided. One story centers around sport horses, and pits a top competitor between his ex-girlfriend (and veterinarian) and his controlling mother as he is trying to heal both himself and his horse from a potential career-stopping injury.

The second is a science fiction story about a brilliant, prickly scientist who travels to another universe to find the only man with the correct DNA who can pilot the spaceship that she designed. Their pilot, and the man she’d had a secret crush on, had been killed by sabotage during their test flight. Now she must convince a man from another universe to come back with her—and bond to AI that controls the ship.

Ideas. Plot bunnies. They multiply and run rampant all the time. I have story ideas coming out my ears. I just don’t have the time to write them down. In my ideal world, I’d work 3-4 days a week at the ‘day job’ and spend the rest writing.

TNA: Where can readers find you on the internet?

SM: The best place is my website, You can find all my other links there—for Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Amazon, you name it!

TNA: Would you like share an excerpt from The Boys of Summer with us?

SM: I’d love to! Rick and David have been touring small islands in the South Pacific when a tropical storm forces their plane down. Here goes:

Excerpt (rated R for language):

“I don’t think we’ve got much choice.” Sutton’s voice was grim. “We’re lucky to have that much. Hold on, these trees are coming up faster than I’d like.”

Still fighting to keep the nose of the plane up, Sutton guided the recalcitrant aircraft toward the so-called clearing, the ground rising up to meet them far faster than was comfortable. David found himself leaning back in his seat, bracing his hands on the console as the tops of trees scraped the underside of the plane. Branches swiped at the windshield, and David had the sudden impression of being in a car wash scene as written by Stephen King.

“Duck your head!” Sutton barked. “Wrap your arms around your legs!”

“And kiss my ass goodbye?” David shouted, raising his voice over the increasing noise as he obeyed Sutton’s orders.

Incredibly, Sutton laughed. It was an oddly comforting sound. Like everything was somehow going to be all right because Sutton was at the controls.

The moment of humor was gone in a flash. The plane screamed with the sound of tearing metal and the sharp, explosive crack of tree limbs and breaking glass. David kept his head down and his eyes closed, praying to a God he was pretty sure had more important things to do than to keep up with the well-being of one David McIntyre. Despite being strapped in his seat, his head and shoulder thumped painfully against the passenger side door as the plane thrashed wildly. There was a moment of eerie, blessed silence, and for an instant, the assault on the plane seemed as though it had lifted. Eye of the storm, David thought, just before the plane hit the ground.

Someone had left the window open and it was raining on him. How incredibly annoying. He shifted, intent on reaching for the offending window, when a jolt of pain ran through his shoulder and he gasped. When he opened his eyes, nothing made any sense at first. Then he remembered the crash, and realized that his side of the plane was pointing up at the sky. The rain was coming down in a steady stream through the broken windshield. The sound of the rain on the metal hull of the plane was nearly deafening.

He winced at the pain in his neck when he turned to look over at the pilot’s seat. Sutton was slumped to one side in his chair, unmoving. His sunglasses were hanging off one ear.

“Oh God, oh God, oh God,” David murmured, hastily undoing his seatbelt so he could reach across to Sutton. His skin was cold and damp where David touched it, and adrenaline pounded through David’s veins as though he could jumpstart Sutton’s heart by sending his own pulse beating through his fingertips. “Sutton! Rick!”

David fought to free himself of his seat, twisting for greater access to the other side of the cockpit. When the seatbelt came open, he fell half across Sutton. Sprawled practically in his lap, David could now see the nasty cut on the left side of Sutton’s temple. The pilot’s side of the plane had taken a lot of damage, and David yelped as he encountered a sliver of glass. Bits of the windshield and console were scattered like confetti over Sutton’s jacket. “Sutton!” The lack of response was unnerving. He tossed aside the sunglasses and worked a hand down into Sutton’s collar, feeling frantically for a pulse.

He could have kissed the man when Sutton suddenly groaned.

“Rick, are you all right? Can you understand me?” David began feeling around for additional injuries.

“I could never understand you, McIntyre,” Sutton said in a fair approximation of his slow drawl. Even the half-smile was a good imitation of his usual expression. “Who tours the toughest jungles in the South Pacific dressed to play golf?”

“Hah-hah, very funny, keep your day job. Oh, no, wait. Forget that. You’re not so good at the day job either.” Relief made him almost giddy. They were going to be okay. Everything was going to be okay.

Until Sutton tried to move and caught his breath painfully.

“What, what is it?” David tried to reach down around the other side of him, to see what the problem was. He felt something wet, warmer than the rain coming in the windshield, and he pulled back his hand to stare at it in shock.

His hand was covered in blood. The metallic odor of it caught him unaware and almost made him gag.

“Shit,” Sutton said mildly. “I seem to be stuck on something.”

“Stuck?” David knew he was practically shrieking, but what the fuck was he supposed to do, miles from nowhere, with an injured man impaled on God knows what, who might die and leave him here all alone.


Thanks so much for being here with us today, Sarah! We appreciate you taking the time to answer all of our questions.

This Contest Is Now Closed.

Carole Cummings, Dreamspinner Press

Come In, Have A Seat, And Say Hello To Carole Cummings. She Comes Bearing A Gift!

We’re pleased as rum punch to have Carole Cummings as our guest today at The Novel Approach! She’s here to talk a little bit about her newest novel The Queen’s Librarian, as well as offer the chance for one lucky reader to win an E-copy of the book. Make sure to check out the contest details after the excerpt!


Carole, tell us a little bit about yourself: when did you begin writing creatively? Was there any one person who influenced and encouraged you?

I started writing stories as soon as I could pick up a pencil and make it make the shapes I wanted. I don’t recall a time in my life when I wasn’t writing.

I wasn’t very good at sharing my writing with others unless I absolutely had to, and since I absolutely had to in some of my classes in school, I did eventually end up with a particular teacher who said, “You realize you’re pretty good at this, right?” and I kind of blinked and said, “Uh.” At which he snorted and told me to take his word for it. I didn’t (because writers never really do) but I kept writing (because that, writers always do). He eventually got me into some advanced coursework and wrote one of my recommendation letters for college, where the same professor who told me what my name is in Elvish also told me I should be submitting some of my papers to a couple of small publications that accepted short stories. I didn’t (because I still wasn’t good at sharing my writing unless I absolutely had to), but I did eventually end up submitting to a couple private literary organizations that didn’t threaten publication as a “reward” because he just would—not—let—up. As a result, I won a few amateur awards and an extended scholarship, so I had to put up with my professor being smug for-freaking-ever. Anyway, that’s how I learned to appreciate editing and critique, and though it took me a while longer to learn to deal with sharing in general, I respected both of those men very much and I make myself remember their words any time I find myself questioning the sharing part now.

What do you love most about writing stories in the Alt U/Fantasy sub-genre? Is there something more personally satisfying for you, as a storyteller, to write beyond and outside of the world as we know it?

I think, in a lot of cases, it’s an opportunity to point out some of our less attractive societal behaviors in a way that applies and yet doesn’t apply to a different society that doesn’t have our history. In most of my m/m stories, for example, you’ll find societies that don’t have the same prejudices against what we in our world call homosexuality. In those worlds, where there were no “prophets” telling early inhabitants that they must propagate the species at all costs and thus creating a “wrongness” in natural sexualities, the prejudices never surfaced against natural biological and physiological preferences. There are, certainly, other prejudices that are analogous, but the worlds in my stories don’t generally have that particular prejudice because it didn’t evolve in those cultures. They don’t react in the same ways because they’re not us. It’s very interesting to hypothesize different evolutionary, psychological and societal processes and figure out how they apply to the world I’m writing and the characters that exist there.

A lot of the stories I see labeled “fantasy” are really just stories about humans on a human world reacting in human ways. For me, that kind of defeats the purpose. I like to be presented with a world and its various histories and cultural reactions and then extrapolate how those histories and reactions would factor in with my characters’ own personal histories and reactions. It’s like my own little psychological and societal petri dish.

Tell us about your writing process: Are you a plotter? When writing a series as detail oriented and as epic as Aisling and Wolf’s-own, do you plot book-by-book, or plot the entire series beginning to end before you begin writing?

I really can’t plan too far ahead, because my characters are the ones who determine where the story will go next and they rarely consult me. I know people say “You’re the author, you have the power!” but that’s just not how it works for me. At least, not if I want to allow my characters to become real people on the page. Their motivations and experiences and wants and needs, not mine, are what matter in the world of that story, and since they have all of those motivations and experiences and wants and needs, I can’t control them any more than I can control the guy sitting next to me on the bus. I think of myself as a channel more than an author.

My stories always start with a character who pops into my head for whatever reason and then proceeds to tell me all about himself and his world and what his major gripe is. When he’s spent enough time beating the crap out of my backbrain and filling in details about where he’s been and where he is right now, then I can start writing where he’s going and hope I make it through to wherever he needs to end up. But even when I start a story thinking I know how it will end, the characters always change it along the way and it never ends up where I thought it would.

The Queen’s Librarian is, in comparison to the Aisling and Wolf’s-own series, much more lighthearted. Why the break from drama and intensity?

Though it’s definitely very different than what I’ve thus far published, TQL is not actually different than probably at least half of what I write. It’s actually closer to what the inside of my head looks like than the more dramatic stuff I’ve published over the past few years.

I need things like TQL to keep me on an even keel when I’m writing the darker stuff. I wrote chapters of TQL in between chapters of Wolf because I needed to hide from the Fen-angst every now and then or my head would go ’splody. Probably close to half of the stuff I have on my hard drive is just as absurd and fluffy as TQL. I just haven’t inflicted it on other people as much. ;)

Did you perhaps channel a little bit of Jane Austen while writing this book?

Ha! Maybe in the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies vein. I’ve been saying TQL is kind of Wooster and Jeeves meet Monty Python and Doctor Who. Because, again, that’s just what the inside of my head looks like.

Are you planning to bring Lucas and Alex back in a series of sequels? Because I don’t mind telling you, you really, really should. I’m very much interested in Lucas’ new line of work!

Hee. Thanks. It’s certainly possible. I hardly ever end a story at an END, it’s almost always a beginning, because unless the world blows up and everybody dies, the stories go on, whether I’m there to tell them or not. Unless a character is dead, he hasn’t reached an end, he’s only started a new chapter.

I’d kind of like to see how Lucas’s next chapter goes and how he handles his new job, too, and he and Alex and Laurie were all kinds of fun, so I hope to get back there eventually.

Can you tell us what Fen and Malick are up to these days?

Fen, I think, is training the ever-loving crap out of Morin, because he’ll want to make sure Morin is the best and deadliest general to ever stage a coup, and Fen will want to make sure he doesn’t lose anyone else. Malick is probably watching and drooling and trying to talk Fen out of his trousers every time Fen does an especially acrobatic move or a particularly impressive twirl with a knife.

I also picture Fen, post-Incendiary, spending a lot of time with the governor of Tambalon, learning about politics and trying to get all his ducks in a row before deciding how he wants to help Morin when they go back to Ada. Malick, for all his cavalier “everybody wants me and I have the hottest boyfriend ever,” is actually probably very busy forming alliances, calling in favors and plotting how he’s going to help Fen get exactly what he wants. Because anyone who doesn’t think Fen was the boss in that relationship wasn’t paying attention, and Malick is all about getting Fen exactly what he wants.

How about Wil and Dallin?

I actually wrote a goofy little thing (I’ll have to see if I can find it) where the Old Ones are training Wil in how to use his magic, and he’s not taking instruction very well. They had him practice turning a small pond into a fountain. He got bored and froze the fountain in mid-splash. According to Thorne, “The fish looked… surprised.” Dallin, when Thorne is telling him this, is trying to be very sober and concerned, but on the inside, he’s rolling on the floor. That’s kind of how I picture them: Wil being very much Wil, and Dallin making sure he’s at Wil’s back in case anyone tries to make Wil not be Wil. I picture them traveling around their world and righting wrongs, with Dallin being careful to make sure Wil doesn’t get shot in the back while he’s stretching his wings.

Of all the characters you’ve created, is there one who’s nearest and dearest to your heart?

Ooh, tough question! Generally, it’s whatever characters I’m writing at the moment, but if I had to pick one… Actually, I’m not sure I can. I have a soft spot for Umeia because I think most readers misunderstood her because they humanized her and she wasn’t human, she was an immortal demigod. What she did, she did for the love of her brother and she wasn’t actually wrong, in the grand scheme of bigger events. A lot of readers despised her because of what Malick called a betrayal, but when looked at from the amoral viewpoints of the gods of that world—which was how Malick and Umeia both were supposed to have been looking at things—Malick was actually the one who was being too “human” about the situation. If looked at from Umeia’s POV, Malick was being a sentimental idiot and putting himself in a hugely dangerous position; Umeia was really only trying to save him.

There’s also Ailin and Garreth from Impromptu because their story has stayed with me for so long. I wrote their novel—of which Impromptu is a part—a long time ago and then lost it in a computer crash. I work on rewriting it off and on between other projects. I’m almost done, but other things keep horning in.

Do you have a favorite fictional character (outside of those you’ve created)? If so, who is it, and why?

Everything always comes back to Frodo, and I think there are bits of him in at least one of the protagonists of all of my stories. (I’m talking Frodo of the books, not the movies; there’s a huge difference.) I’ve admired that character since I was ten, and first loves tend to have staying power.

Tolkien, for all his truly amazing work, was better at giving his world depth than he was his characters, but it’s there nonetheless; it shines through despite the obfuscation of superficial exposition. Frodo was a gentle soul with a core of adamant. He took on the most horrible, evil and debilitating thing that existed in his world and gave up his Self to defeat it. (And don’t talk to me about how Gollum saved Middle-earth; I could write dissertations on why that’s a depthless load of bull, and Tolkien himself said it had been horribly misunderstood, so neener.)

If you could sit down to dinner with anyone, either real or fictitious, who would it be, and what would be the one question you’d be dying to ask?

Yikes. Another tough one. It’s really hard to narrow it down to just one. John of Patmos would be one, because he was a crazy bastard and a conversation with him would be enormously interesting, if probably somewhat boggling. Carl Sagan would be a must, and Neil deGrasse Tyson is one of those brilliant minds who can put enormous concepts into understandable shapes, and I’d love to just sit and listen to them talk about the universe. Geoffrey of Monmouth, because he was a fount of history and the first authority on King Arthur, and I would love to know how much of that history was based in fact. In that same vein, I’d love to meet Merlin, though I think he’d be a scary BAMF. Socrates and Plato, for obvious reasons. Some literary heroes like Alexandre Dumas, along with several of his characters. Virginia Woolf, Edgar Allen Poe (though I might need a Zoloft afterwards), Lord Byron (OMG, how fascinatingly fun would that be!), Chaucer (hilarious!). Neil Gaiman would probably be fun and Terry Pratchett… well, that would be like sitting down with a minor god. Can you imagine going out for drinks with him and Death? *falls down*

Yeah, I’m apparently greedy and incapable of picking just one.

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

Ha. Probably “inappropriate” works best. Maybe “absurdist”. I see humor where it sometimes doesn’t belong, and subtle non sequiturs will generally have me on the floor with everyone else looking at me like Uh, yeah, it wasn’t that funny. There are tons of one-liners in TQL, but the stuff that was going on inside Lucas’s head was what really entertained me.

Do you have any works-in-progress you’d like to tell us about?

There are a few. I’m working on one that’s leaning toward steampunk but isn’t really; it’s more fantasy, but it involves a train and mechanical technology, so it’s on the line. It will be called Blue on Black mostly because it enables me to refer to it as BoB. (As in BoB is being a recalcitrant bastard today.) Kimo is a mechanical and technical genius who disappeared a few years ago, and Bas is the guy sent to find him. It’s gone in directions I really didn’t want it to, but as I said, BoB is a recalcitrant bastard and a bossy jerk and won’t let me walk away from it with a little bit of dignity, so I imagine it’ll be done soonish. (Whether or not I work up the chops to let anyone else see it will be another question entirely.) In between chapters of that, I’ve been playing with a contemporary fantasy in which Emory fancies himself the real Harry Potter (only not nearly as cool) and who was supposed to have died when he walked out in front of a bus. He kind of did die but really didn’t and now the Reaper whose job it was to cross him over is very confused. Shenanigans and lurve ensue. And, like I said, I’m actively working on Ailin and Garreth’s story, and I hope to get the rewrites on it finished after I’m done with BoB.

Where can we find you on the internet?

My site is You can find all the other places I haunt through the links page there.

Would you like to share an excerpt from The Queen’s Librarian with us?

Sure! I’ve got the whole of chapter 1 up on my site, if you’d like to see what comes before this. This is from chapter 3. I wish I could include the entire scene, because it’s one of my favorites just for its sheer silliness, but here’s a taste:


“Lucas! Lucas Tripp!”

“Yes, Lucas, come in here,” Laurie called. “Stop hiding out in the hallway and come let your mother take care of you.”

Lucas was rather surprised the Glare of Death wasn’t melting the lenses of his spectacles and burning a hole through the wall and right between Laurie’s eyes. He squared his shoulders and put on a smile as he stepped into the room, only barely keeping his feet when his mother sailed out of her chair and came at him like a very elegant, silk- and lace-draped battleship.

“What have you done to your lovely face?” she wailed as she took Lucas by the shoulders and shoved his face into her bosom. “Oh, I knew you shouldn’t be down in that dangerous little house all by yourself with that treacherous loft and all that splintery wood, and that dreadful cat! Was it the cat? It was the cat, wasn’t it, oh my poor baby, let me look at you.”

She shoved Lucas back again with enough force that his spectacles slipped down to totter at the end of his nose. “It’s a scratch,” he told her, probably a little bit desperately, though he’d never admit it, because then Laurie would think he’d won, and that was just unacceptable. “And I didn’t even get it at home, my house is not dangerous, for pity’s sake, Mother. I was just being clumsy, that’s all, and you know, you’re really kind of hurting my arms a little, and really, how are you so strong?”

Mother didn’t appear to have heard any of it—she gripped harder. “You’re moving back in here straight away, and you’re putting that awful creature right back out in the barns where it belongs. Alex Booker,” she intoned, turning an imperious glare across the room, “what in the world were you doing while that horrible monster was attacking my son?”

Alex gulped. Lucas didn’t blame him—anyone would. “It wasn’t—”

“Yes, Alex,” Laurie said with a tilt of his head and really quite a believable indignant glare, considering he was an evil Goblin King, “what were you doing while Lucas was being attacked by that horrible, awful fiend and almost losing an eye?”

Mother’s glance snapped back to the plaster on Lucas’s cheek, then widened, even as her grip tightened another notch. She was cutting off circulation now; forget the eye, Lucas was going to lose an arm, he just knew it.

“Your eye!” Mother shrieked. “It’s what they do, you know, they go for the eyes, oh, Lucas, my poor b—”

“It wasn’t Cat!” It had come to this—Lucas was defending a cushion with legs who had basically come with the carriage house because she wouldn’t leave when he’d moved in and only “allowed” him to share “her” space because he was sometimes useful to her. “It was a bush, Mother, a simple thorny bush, and it wasn’t at home, it was at the Duck, and I got a scratch—on my cheek, not my eye—because I was being clumsy and couldn’t get my sleeve unstuck from some prickers when I was—”

He stopped himself short. Because he wasn’t about to tell his mother that he’d been weeing outdoors “like a peasant” or that he’d been weeing at all. There were some things, though Mother was no doubt aware of their existence and necessity, Lucas had no intention of acknowledging in her presence, and what he had in his trousers was one of those things. He’d never be able to use it again—for anything—if he had to admit that she knew he had it. And that would probably disappoint Alex. Well, and Lucas too.

“Really, Mother,” Lucas said, trying to gently twist out of her clutches without looking like he was having some kind of spasm. “I mean, you know, ow.”

“The Duck?” said Laurie. “Do you mean the Drunken Duck?” His eyes were wide and his smile was pure evil. “So you were out rowing with cutthroats and ruffians. At a tavern!” He looked at Alex. “Which still doesn’t explain why you haven’t a mark on you, Alex.”

And why did everyone seem to think that, if Lucas had been fighting, it would have been Alex’s “duty” to step in and save him? There were dozens of insults in that assumption; Lucas couldn’t decide which one to start with.

“Yes, funny that,” Alex retorted, relaxing back into his chair with a small smile that had to mean some kind of trouble. He set to casually straightening his cuffs. “Because, since you brought up marks and all, I was just noticing that strange little bruise below your left ear.” He smirked a little when Laurie too obviously stopped his hand from reflexively reaching up to cover the mark. “Sort of looks like a love bite, but since I’m certain the Prince of the Realm wouldn’t dream of going about corrupting the innocent daughters of his mother’s subjects, that can’t be right, can it? I mean—ha!—whatever would the Queen say if she got it into her royal head that her only son was the randiest horndog to have ever, say, blown up a baking hall?” Alex took a prim sip of his tea. “I saw Miss Maida the other day when I had business in Applethrow. She sends her, um….” He cleared his throat. “… regards.”

And now Lucas couldn’t decide between boggling and smirking. How did Alex know all this stuff?

It had the desired effect on Laurie—he shut his mouth and glared then shot a quick cowed glance at Lucas’s mother. She didn’t notice. She was busy looking at Lucas with… drat. She was going to pull out the tears.

“You went to a tavern?”

She said it like she was talking about the third portal of the Netherworld—the one where all the debauchers and lusters went to cool their heels for eons until the Sentinel Wardens decided they were sexually frustrated enough and sent them off to the second portal to spend another few eons with the proselytizers and the radicals.

Lucas didn’t want to spend eons with the proselytizers and the radicals.

“Laurie’s got a love bite,” he said weakly.

“The Drunken Duck?” Mother sniffed. “The Drunken Duck?”

“It’s an inn!” Lucas defended. “And maybe it has a, um, you know, a sort of hall-type room, which might almost resemble a tavern, but there are more rooms in the place that don’t resemble a tavern, so it’s really just an inn with what some might consider one tavern-ish room among lots of other untavern-ish rooms, which by its definition doesn’t necessarily make it—”

“Isn’t that where Mister Singer met his unfortunate end?” asked Laurie.

Lucas couldn’t tell if it was a deliberate prod or if it was simply one of those occasions where Laurie’s mouth hadn’t bothered to check with his brain before engaging. Either way, it made Lucas clench his teeth, and the headache that Miss Emma’s tea had almost killed came roaring back to life to pulse red and hot behind his eyes.

“Laurie,” Lucas said slowly, “I swear, if you don’t shut your mouth, I will kick your arse so hard you’ll have to reach—bottom!” Lucas snapped wide eyes back to his mother. “I didn’t say arse, I said bottom!”

Oh my god. He’d just said “arse” in front of his mother. To his mother. Twice. He’d gone a little light-headed, so he almost didn’t notice the squeals and shrieks coming from the south garden, or the bobbing heads that a moment later passed by the sunroom’s large eastern window on the way to the front door. He was too caught up in trying to turn back time so the past eternity had never happened at all.

“Oh look, Nan’s here,” he said, and he didn’t even care that it was so obviously wretched. Bugger not letting Laurie win—this one had been over before Lucas had even stepped into the room.


This Contest Is Now Closed.

MLR Press, Taylor V. Donovan

Taylor V. Donovan Is Here Today To Talk About “Disasterology 101”, And She’s Offering A Giveaway!

We’re so pleased to have Taylor here visiting with us today. She has a new book just released with MLR Press called Disasterology 101, and she’s not only here today to talk a little bit about the book but also to offer one lucky reader the chance to win a FREE copy! (Contest details follow the excerpt below)

And now, please welcome Taylor!

TVD: Thanks for having me. :)

Q. – When did you begin writing creatively? Was there any one person who encouraged and inspired you to publish your work?

TVD: I’m a bit of an accidental writer. I hadn’t been dreaming up characters or creating stories in my head before writing Six Degrees of Lust. In fact, I started writing because of a very good friend of mine. She has been writing since forever and her dream was to get published. But she was having a bit of a hard time finishing her stories, so she asked me to collaborate with her. Anyone who knows me would tell you how…obsessive…I am about finishing what I start, and the idea was for me to attempt to write something with her, and keep her focused through completion of the book. So I got to work on it. The collaboration didn’t last long, though. As it turned out we had different styles, and that’s when I realized I actually have a style and a rather defined voice. I submitted Six Degrees of Lust five months later.

Q. – What was your first published book?

TVD: Six Degrees of Lust was contracted first, but while it was in edits I wrote and published Heatstroke, a free novella for the MM Romance Group’s Hot Summer Days event on Goodreads.

Q. – Have you always written M/M romance? What attracted you to the genre?

TVD: Always. I didn’t choose to write gay romance, though. I’m convinced it’s a calling. :-)

Q. – Let’s talk a little bit about your newest book, Disasterology 101. You delve deeply into the subject of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. How much research did you do to make sure you got Cedric’s affliction just right?

TVD: The research process was intense and extensive. I read medical textbooks and testimonies; talked to people I know who are affected by either germaphobia or some form of ODC. I studied treatments, therapies and medication until I felt confident I had a sound basic knowledge of what would be Cedric’s condition. Then I sat down to write. This is a serious subject, and it was my responsibility to get it right.

Q. – Was he a difficult character to write?

TVD: Not at all. Once I knew how severe his condition was, he kind of guided me ’til the end. :)

Q. – Bruce and I both agree that the sense of anxiety while reading this book was pretty tangible, sometimes almost overwhelming! Did you ever worry at any point that Cedric’s own anxiety wouldn’t translate well on the page?

TVD: Every single day.

Q. – Did you have anxiety while writing the book?

TVD: Absolutely. Like I mentioned before, I took on a serious issue that could be a trigger to many readers. It was important I got it right, both for Cedric and for every OCD patient out there that might read Disasterology 101.

Q. – Were you ever tempted at any point to come up with a “magic fix” for Cedric’s OCD?

TVD: No. That’s not realistic. It isn’t the way it works for OCD patients. They can take medication, go to counseling and therapy and get better as a result, but there’s no cure for them in real life. They face the challenge to cope and find ways to live their lives to the best of their capability, and I’m anal when it comes to details and accuracy. Cedric was never meant to be “fixed”.

Q. – This might seem like a silly question, but I’m going to ask it anyway. Was it a conscious choice to make Cedric British, or did he just show up in your imagination that way?

TVD: I knew from the very beginning there was a dichotomy between who Cedric seemed to be and the man he really was; between his physical appearance and his behavior. In my imagination he looked like a thug, but sounded posh. And I actually thought the word “posh”. He was British from the get go. :)

Q. – I don’t want to dismiss Kevin and the importance of his role in Cedric’s life, so let me ask you this: which character came to you first, and how did you decide that Kevin—this recently divorced, not even out of the closet yet, inexperienced in his sexuality dad to three kids—would be a perfect fit for Cedric?

TVD: Cedric came to me first. As complicated as he was, he needed a man who was understanding, patient and rock solid. A man who could deal with the unexpected and be able to roll with the punches. Life isn’t perfect though, so of course he’d come with his own set of baggage, and I knew Kevin’s experience with kids and the chaotic environment they often create would come in handy when it came to dealing with Cedric. :)

Q. – What made you decide to write a ten year age difference between these two men?

TVD: It wasn’t a conscious decision. Once I knew he was a father of three it was only natural he’d be significantly older. He needed time to make those babies, build a life and ultimately get divorced before meeting his guy.

Q. – Do you have news of any works-in-progress you’d care to share with us?

TVD: Currently I’m editing Six Degrees of Separation, the second installment in my “By Degrees” serial, and also working on a story about gay Puerto Rican guys dealing with taboos and machismo that’s set in Puerto Rico. Homosexuality isn’t widely accepted in my country, and that’s something I want to explore and write about.

Q. – Where can readers find you on the internet?

TVD: I’m all over the place.
And you can also visit My Website, but I warn you, I don’t update it as often as I should! LOL

Q. – Would you be willing to share an excerpt of Disasterology 101 with us?

TVD: Of course. This excerpt takes place during a conversation between Cedric and Kevin where they discuss the possibility of getting together. Enjoy!

Disasterology 101: Excerpt

Kevin had always had a thing for architecture. He was a big fan of the structures Greenbriar built all over the world, and it had just dawned on him that eventually, some of them would be Cedric’s designs. Had circumstances been different Kevin would’ve loved to talk to him about his job.

Instead he was about to turn him down.

Kevin decided to do it during the second class break. He didn’t think it was appropriate for him to approach Cedric while the class was technically still in progress, but he couldn’t deal anymore with the heated—albeit brief—looks Cedric kept casting his way. And he especially didn’t want to wait until everybody had left. He didn’t trust himself. If they were alone and that pretty young thing decided to kiss him again, Kevin might not be able to resist.

Cedric left the room during the first break, but for the second he told the students he’d see them in fifteen minutes and stood in front of the board. He was still facing it when Kevin approached him. It was the weirdest thing. He wasn’t writing. He wasn’t even moving. He just stood there and—

“Are you counting?”


He surely was. That was the second time Kevin had seen him do that. And Cedric didn’t stop to answer. He just held up his left hand, a clear sign he didn’t want to be interrupted, and continued counting until he reached thirty. Then he turned around, and damned if he didn’t look as if he’d just been caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

“You should be out with the rest of the class,” Cedric muttered, not quite making eye contact with Kevin. “I didn’t mean for anyone to witness that.” He didn’t explain what “that” was, and Kevin didn’t ask.

“We need to talk.”

“We’ll talk after class.”

Cedric tried to walk by him. Kevin didn’t let him pass. “We’ll talk now.”

“You’re too close.”

“Excuse me?”

“I can’t have you breathing on me like that. Not when I haven’t prepared for it.”

“Does this have anything to do with your issue with germs?”

“How did you know I have an issue?”

“You’re kidding me, right?” Kevin couldn’t hold his sardonic chuckle back. “I don’t get you. I really don’t. You can’t handle me breathing near you, but you can—” He glanced at the door to make sure they were still alone. “You’ve kissed me and stuck your tongue in my mouth, and for some reason that I can’t even understand you want to have sex with m—”

“You want to have sex with me too.”

“That’s not the point,” Kevin growled. “How the hell are we going to manage sex if you can’t handle my germs?” he finished in a very low voice. “Anal sex is a messy thing, you know?”

“It can be a little complicated but there are ways around it,” Cedric said, glancing at Kevin from under those long, thick lashes of his. Kevin’s throat was suddenly so dry he had to gulp several times. “I know my limits, and it isn’t the same when I’m the one making the moves.”

“How is it different?”

“This is not the time or the place to discuss this.”

“It’s going to have to do.”

Cedric shook his head and moved toward the door. “Come with me.”

Kevin followed him to the floor’s emergency exit and up the stairs, all the way to the roof. Good. They had a little privacy. He felt much better knowing there wouldn’t be any accidental witnesses.

The moment the roof door closed behind him Kevin repeated his question. “So how is it different?”

“I have control.”

“That doesn’t explain how it’s different.”

He shouldn’t be asking this. Considering he had no intentions of being with Cedric, it was information Kevin didn’t need. But he couldn’t resist.

“You’d have to cooperate.”

“In order to cooperate I’d have to understand what the he—”

“There’s a time limit for things,” Cedric mumbled.

“What does that mean?”

Cedric shoved his hands inside his pockets and paced in front of Kevin. “And there are things I’ve never tried to do… that I’m afraid I’ll never be able to do.”

“What things?” Kevin couldn’t remember any other time when he’d felt as exasperated as he did at that moment. “Come on, Cedric. How’s a man supposed to score with you if he doesn’t know the rules?”

Cedric didn’t answer. He didn’t move for the longest time, and didn’t seem to be breathing either. “Thank you for coming back to class, by the way,” Cedric finally said, his words followed by a tug of his lip ring. His had to be the pinkest, most tempting tongue in existence. “But you should know I would’ve called had you not been here tonight.”

Kevin sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. “Please don’t do that.”

“Don’t call you?”

Kevin nodded. He’d never be able to resist Cedric if the guy decided to actively pursue him. “This has to stop.”

“There won’t be any disciplinary actions against us, Kevin. I checked. Neither Greenbriar nor MCC will care if they find out we’re having sex. You don’t need to worry about that.”

“I’m…not… I’m not having—” Kevin shut his mouth, counted to five and started again. “I’m not having sex with you.”

“You just said you are.”

“What?” Kevin quickly reviewed their conversation in his mind, but came up with nothing. “When did I say that?”

“You asked about the rules,” Cedric clarified. “You wanted to know what it takes to score with me.”

“Okay….” Kevin took a deep breath and released it quickly. “That’s not what I meant.”

“I’m not taking no for an answer.”

“I can’t have sex with you.”

“You took a shower.”

“That doesn’t mean I was planning on having sex.”

Cedric glared at him. “You shouldn’t have taken a shower.”

“Had I known you would jump to the wrong conclus—Jesus!” Kevin took several steps back when Cedric leaned forward and sniffed his neck. “What are you doing?”

“You took a shower and now I can’t smell your sweat. Not that I can deal with it all the time, but once in a while is fine. As long as you run and take a shower right away. I like to see you sweaty and a bit dirty. Makes you look even sexier. ”

Kevin stared at him. Opened his mouth and then closed it again when he couldn’t figure out what to say. He rubbed his face with his hands and paced a little before coming to a halt in front of Cedric.

“Are you saying I stunk before?” He finally asked through gritted teeth.

Cedric slipped his tongue through his lip ring and tugged at it. Kevin’s misbehaved dick stirred inside his jeans. “You look upset.”

“No shit.”

“You didn’t smell at the sex shop, but the first day of class you did. Only a little, though. I wouldn’t even say you stunk, but you did smell. I could smell you. Drove me crazy, I have to say. I wanted you so much I almost threw you over my desk. I don’t remember being harder in my life. See, I have a very sensitive olfactory sense. Anything out of order and I break out in a sweat. Sometimes I even throw up. But I smelled you and I got hard and that’s why you can’t say you won’t have sex with me.”

Kevin was speechless. Amazed by the amount of information coming at him and completely confused by it. He was also charmed out of his wits by Cedric’s quirky behavior and his courage to continue to talk even though he looked as if he wanted the floor to open up and swallow him.

“So what are you saying?” Kevin asked after a few seconds of hard thinking. “That we have to have sex because you could smell me?”

“Because you didn’t make me gag right away.” Cedric moved so fast he was on top of Kevin before he could even register they guy had moved. When Cedric snatched Kevin’s hand and pressed it against himself, all thoughts escaped Kevin’s mind. “And because even when you’re being bloody contrary, I can see you want me and you still manage to get me hard.”


This Contest Is Now Closed

Dreamspinner Press, K.C. Wells

Unlocking The Secrets To Author K.C. Wells… And There’s A Giveaway!

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

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

I’d always written from an early age. My dad always encouraged me, because he was of a literary bent too. Of course, life gets in the way and I pushed aside any thoughts of writing. But once I got going with the writing last year, my dad and stepmum were absolutely wonderful. They were so supportive, particularly during the past four months when life got a little more interesting. Dad says he is suffering from Very Proud Father syndrome…lol

Why did you start writing M/M romance?

I came across a M/M scene in a M/M/F ménage storyline, and really liked it. So much so, that I started looking for more such stories. Eventually I took the plunge and bought Bareback by Chris Owen… wow. That was it – I was hooked. But then of course, the idea for a story began niggling at me. Four months after starting to read M/M romances, I finally sat down at my laptop and began to write Learning to Love: Michael & Sean. I had no idea what I’d just started…

What drew you to the BDSM aspect of M/M?

The first books I ever read about BDSM were the Hammer series by Sean Michael. I loved Found. And then I discovered SE Jakes, then Heidi Cullinan. I loved the dynamics of the D/s relationship. It’s true to say I’m not into heavy BDSM – I prefer looking at how two people can fit together and meet each other’s needs. When the idea for An Unlocked Heart first came to me, I approached a friend who describes himself as a total submissive. He helped me a great deal, particularly when it came to getting inside Alex’s head. I’d originally planned the Collars & Cuffs series to be three books in length – er…that might have changed.

You recently worked with a co-author who lives in the States. How did it work? I hear he is particularly difficult to work with (tee hee).

HAHAHAHAHA…. I suggested (casually) that if Will Parkinson ever considered co-authoring a book, to count me in. A couple of weeks later, he messaged that actually, he had an idea… When I told a friend that I was going to do this, well, let’s just say his reaction was extremely negative. Luckily, I didn’t listen to him.

Working with Will was fantastic. We planned the whole story out first, ironing out any plot holes, making sure it all made sense. Will had already written the Prologue and we just took it from there. We each wrote chapters, bits of chapters… Our friends assume that Will wrote the part of Scott (American) and I wrote Ben (British) but to be honest, it didn’t work out that way. We both wrote for both characters, and then we checked each other’s stuff. (Will says he had to correct my English – yeah, let’s not go there, Will )

It was sooooo much fun. Our writing styles just…meshed. Lots of fun Skype conversations, usually when Will got home from work, so gone midnight for him and about 5-7am for me – yeah, early bird here. And it left us wanting to do more.

I understand that An Unlocked Heart is the first in the “Collars and Cuffs” series. Any idea how many we can expect?

As I wrote earlier, it had been intended originally to be a series of three. The second in the series, Trusting Thomas, is due for release in October / November. I then had the idea for a story involving Dorian. But then the whole Will thing happened and Someone to Keep Me became part of the Collars & Cuffs world. And during the writing of Thomas, I suddenly found myself wanting to write about a very interesting character, Darren. And now? Will and I have plans for two more…

What is the perfect writing atmosphere for you?

Somewhere with no Internet! (Yeah, okay, I get distracted, I admit it)

I live on the Isle of Wight – and just like it says on the tin, it’s an island – and to the south is a wonderful little bay, Steephill Cove. I go down there when I want to concentrate. No phone signal, no Internet, just the sound of the waves…heaven. Plus tea whenever I want it, and great food, too. They’re used to seeing me down there now. Most of book #3 in the L2L series was written there.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Plotter, mostly. I like to know where I’m going. But sometimes things take a different direction. I love that. Especially when a character starts telling me that no, he doesn’t want to do that, he wants to do this…. And then I go with the flow.

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

The first three books, I told Paul Richmond at Dreamspinner that the house had to be there. But for this one, I fell in love with the wonderful photos of real life couple Nate and Zach, from photographer Terry Cyr’s Naked Man Project. And I want to use them again for further books in the series. Paul loves the idea.

Dreamspinner are good in that they ask you for a lot of info to help them put together the perfect cover. And isn’t this one beautiful? Sigh….

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

That hasn’t happened to me yet. But I don’t rule it out. I get my inspiration in so many different places.

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

Oh, now you’re asking…. I always had a soft spot for Evan, right from the start. That boy is just adorable. Sexy, flirtatious and wicked at times.

I loved all six boys from to L2L series. I wanted to create a world where they could be close to each other, supportive, loving… To then be told by some readers that this was unlikely in the real world… Sigh. This is fiction, and it’s my little world. And I wouldn’t change them.

Lately, though, I created Blake Davis and Will Parkinson in the story Making it Personal, and I absolutely loved them from the start. These weren’t boys, these were definitely Men, and I loved how they were together.

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

To let someone look at what you’re writing. My dad would disagree, but it’s been so important to me to get feedback as I’m going along. There are a few really close friends who get to read my stuff as I’m going along, and their advice is really important to me. Will is my barometer. I trust his reactions implicitly, and he hasn’t steered me wrong yet.

What 3 pearls of wisdom would you offer to an author just starting out?

Carry a notebook – you never know when inspiration will strike, and that wonderful idea that came to you on the bus going to work this morning? You will forget it…

Get a second (third / fourth) pair of eyes to check your writing. Both for errors and plot holes.
Learn from your mistakes. I know my writing has changed a lot since February 2012, and for the better. I would also invest in some software like SmartEdit – it’s great for spotting early on if you’re overusing some words.

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

I laugh real easily. I love Mel Brooks’s films, particularly Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein. I think I need more humor in my stories, though.

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

Actually, I don’t think I do!

If you could sit down to dinner with one person, past or present, who would it be and what’s the one question you’d love to ask?

Wow… you’ve stumped me. Might have to think about that one.

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

I started on a series of novellas entitled Island Tales, all set on the Isle of Wight. The first, Waiting for a Prince, should be out next month. The current WIP is September’s Tide, and I’m about 16K into it. That one is based around Steephill Cove. There are at least three or four more in the pipeline.

Then there’s the next Will / KC collaboration…. We’re still at the planning stage, although Will has already written a few scenes. I’m on catch-up. LOL.

Where can readers find you on the internet?

Twitter: @IslandTalesPres

Would you like share an excerpt from An Unlocked Heart with us?

Alex knocked on the door to Sev’s office on the first floor and then walked in—and stopped dead in his tracks. Sev wasn’t there, but Leo was, seated in Sev’s big leather-padded chair. Alex’s face must have betrayed his shock.

Leo stood up and came around to his side of the desk. “Good evening, Alex.” He leaned back against Sev’s desk, his eyes on Alex’s face.

Alex’s brain couldn’t compute what Leo was doing in Sev’s office. What the…?

Leo smiled. “Your boss let me use his office for a moment. I didn’t want to do this downstairs in the restaurant or with any of your colleagues around.”

Do what? Alex’s brain was making frantic leaps, trying to connect the dots. He waited for Leo to speak, to give him more information. Leo’s brain was clearly having issues of its own. The tall, confident man appeared nervous.

“Alex, I… I’d like to take you out to dinner tomorrow night.”

Oh. Fuck. Leo was asking him on a date. Alex’s body switched to its default setting: he froze.

He wanted to say yes. He was dying to say yes. But as a cold wave of fear rolled through him, Alex realized it wasn’t that easy. He’d never been on a date in his life. And as for dating a man…. Alex didn’t have a fucking clue what to expect. What seemed like a million thoughts raced through his brain. Leo was older than him, had more experience than him…. What if Alex disappointed him? Leo might have an inkling Alex was inexperienced, but he’d probably assume that Alex wasn’t still a virgin.

He couldn’t do it. Couldn’t.

“I… I’m sorry, Leo, but… I’m working tomorrow night.” The lie rolled easily off his tongue. Suddenly, he was aware of those eyes on him, coolly appraising him.

“No you’re not. I checked.” There was the merest hint of amusement in that rich, deep voice. Alex’s heart stuttered. Damn Sev. Leo’s next words confirmed his worst suspicions. “Sev was very helpful. In fact, he gave me your work schedule for the next month.”

So many emotions vied for pole position in Alex’s head right now. Outrage that Sev had done this without mentioning it. Astonishment Leo had even thought of doing it. And one more: shock. Leo wanted to know his days off for the next month? This was obviously not going to be a one-off.

“Are you going to make me wait for your answer? Do you need time to think about it?”

Alex heard the faintest nuance of anxiety in Leo’s voice. His would-be date wasn’t as confident as he appeared, it seemed.

“I… I have to help out at home,” Alex said, although he was cursing himself even as the words slipped out. Christ, Leo must think he was a real loser.

Leo moved closer to him, and all of a sudden, Alex was aware of the heat from his body. It made his head swim. He was unable to keep in the small intake of breath as Leo took Alex’s hand in his. Alex’s immediate reaction was to jerk away, but that would’ve been incomparably rude. He decided to bear it, just a little while longer. But he couldn’t make the decision to say yes. No fucking way. That was a step just beyond his reach.

Leo’s head tilted down toward him, and Alex could feel his warm breath on his face. “Say yes, Alex. It’s just dinner.” The words were whispered, intimate.

Alex was in agony. Oh, he so wanted to tell him, “Fuck yes!” But he couldn’t bring himself to get the words out. Why was he so crap at making decisions? It… was… just… dinner.

Leo’s next words sent a torrent of calm surging through him. “I’ll pick you up outside the restaurant, tomorrow night, 7:00 p.m.”

It was clear it wasn’t a request. Leo had decided. End of story. But oh, the fucking relief that he’d taken that decision away from him. Alex took a calming breath, and Leo’s reaction showed Alex he’d noticed. Who was he kidding? Alex was beginning to think the man noticed everything.

“What… what do I need to wear?” Alex stammered. Important to know these things.

“Casual will be fine, Alex.”

Leo also seemed to be breathing more easily, and for a brief second, Alex pondered on what he’d learned from Vittorio. Had Leo even dated since Gabe’s death? Could that be the reason for his nerves?

Finally, Leo released Alex’s hand, albeit seemingly reluctantly, and Alex relaxed a little. “Until tomorrow night, then.”

Alex’s eyes fluttered upward to take in Leo’s expression. The man was smiling. Alex lowered his gaze, keeping his features straight, but inside he was a writhing mass of nerves. He was going on a date… with Leo Hart.

Alex was suddenly conscious of Leo’s amused grin, as if the man was able to see his thoughts. Christ, he hoped not.

Leo stepped toward the door of the office. “Good night, Alex.”

“Good night… Leo.” And then Leo was gone, and Alex was trying to get his head around what had just happened. He still didn’t have a clue what the following night would bring, and to be honest, he just wanted to get home to the sanctuary of his room where he could think about it clearly. What was he going to wear? Where would Leo take him? And more importantly, what did he tell his parents?

He gave a snort. That one was easy. Fuck all.

Thanks so much for being here with us today, K.C. Come back and visit with us again soon.

Now, let’s get on to this contest business. How about a little “Winner’s Choice” to make things fun? K.C. Wells is offering one lucky winner the choice of an ebook from her bookshelf, including An Unlocked Heart! Also included are the titles Making it Personal; Learning to Love: Michael and Sean; Learning to Love: Evan and Daniel; or Learning to Love: Josh and Chris

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment right here before 11:59pm Pacific Time on Tuesday, July 16, 2013. One winner will be drawn at random and notified via email on Wednesday, July 20.

Good Luck!

Amy Lane, Dreamspinner Press

Just In Case You Haven’t Heard, Amy Lane Has A New Book Releasing Today. And Just In Case You’re Interested, We Have Amy Here As Our Guest!


We’re so excited to have the always delectable Amy Lane with us here at The Novel Approach today to celebrate the release of her latest book Forever Promised. Jackie wrote a fantastic review of the book, then she, Tina, Bruce, and I put our thinking caps on and came up with a few questions for Ms. Amy and, in her true super good sport way, she answered every last one of them and then shared some excerpts with us–both from “Forever” as well as a sneaky peeky from her current Work-In-Progress!

So, read on, and enjoy!


• With Forever Promised closing out the Promises series, are there any characters you will miss writing about more than others?

I think Shane and Mikhail. I mean, I loved Deacon and Crick and Jeff and Collin, but Shane and Mikhail are going a different way with their “grown up and mature” happy ever after, and I think I could live with them and see how that goes!

• One thing that I have noticed with your characters is that you don’t seem to have any one certain type of guy. There are cowboys, basketball players, porn stars and yarn makers. Out of all these men, do you have a favorite, or is there one man that pulled those heart strings more than another?

See, I’ve always wanted to DO ALL THE THINGS. So when I write characters, I enjoy writing characters that DO ALL THE THINGS—because honestly, there are only a few things I personally could actually do myself. (An office job is right the hell out, for example. And remind me some day to tell you why I don’t ride horses. High entertainment—it only took three broken bones, a broken nose, stitches, and two concussions for me to realize we weren’t meant to be.) So my “type” of man is mostly the good type of man. I like men with integrity, and even though they might have that pesky communication problem, I like characters that can work around that. And right there I think is my type. The type who means well, and wants to do good in the world. Ta-da!

• I loved “Truth in the Dark”: do you think you’ll write more paranormal/fantasy/fairy tales anytime in the near future?

Yes! I so have an idea for a couple of AU stories. One of them, Immortal is going to be the last thing I do before I write Quickening, which is part of my Little Goddess series. (This series is not m/m—but it does have m/m relationships.)

• Are you more of a plot it out from beginning to end writer, or are you a fly by the seat of your pants type?

I’m a “road trip” writer. I have a beginning, a few stops planned in the middle, and an end. Everything else that happens on the trip is fair game—and I look for those moments as I go.

• What author do you feel has influenced your work, if any? Also, do you have a favorite author?

The authors I read as a kid influenced me a LOT—Lloyd Alexander, Robin McKinley, Patricia McKillip, Barry Hughart, Guy Gavriel Kay, David Eddings—I know they’re all fantasy, but they had such an approach to prose and storytelling and giving the reader a space to find their own words instead of filling that space with empty words—these are lessons I’ve never forgotten.

• I love that your passion for knitting shines through in so many of your books. How did you get started with your knitting?

Ooh! I LOVE telling people this! See, I had a couple of grandmothers who crocheted and knitted, and they tried to teach me, but, well, patience, not such a strong suit. Anyway, after the one who crocheted the most passed away, I had this dream. Not about grandma, but about the hook and the yarn, and how it fit together. I woke up, thought, “I can do that!” and went and bought myself some yarn and a hook and a how-to book. And then I saw pattern books in the store with crochet and knitting patterns. I bought the books, and felt sort of left out not knowing the knitting patterns while I had the book so I taught myself that too. And then I started reading The Yarn Harlot (Stephanie Pearl-MacPhee) and I’ve been completely obsessed with knitting and premium yarn ever since!

• I cry a lot while reading your books, mostly while reading the characters’ backstories. Does it affect you the same way as you’re writing about their lives?

Yes. I cry every damned time. When I’m writing, these people are a part of me. Finding out what happened to them always sucks.

• Which of your books is your favorite, and what is your all time favorite book?

Hm… which of my books is my favorite? I think my personal favorite is Truth in the Dark—for a lot of reasons. My all time favorite book? Is probably Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay, or The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley, or maybe Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart.

• What is the strangest thing you have ever knitted?

When I was knitting a sweater for Zoomboy, the front of the sweater had a duck’s face on it. The back of the sweater was blank, but I sort of thought I could do better than that—so I knitted a big square back with a duck’s butt on it. And even though all anybody saw was the front (and the fact that it looked ADORABLE on Zoomboy!) I kept calling it the Duck’s Butt sweater. So, well, yeah. That. I also knitted an afghan with a cat on it. The original pattern called for a black and white cat on a red background, but Chicken wanted pink with rainbow stripes. (Ask me what a nightmare this was—I dare you.) It was hideous—but she loved it very much.

• What’s the easiest and most difficult part of writing a sex scene?

The easiest part is what goes where. The most difficult part is why these two people are putting it there and why we should care.

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

Sometimes really inappropriate things—I’ve had to seriously monitor my sense of humor to keep from being a creepy little spazzmonster who would scare people. But mostly what makes my sense of humor perk up is a playing with words, unexpected takes on things, and boldly stated truths. And wiener jokes. I can never get enough of wiener jokes. And weird pet names. That’s one of my all-time faves.

• What’s the strangest thing a fan has ever done for you or to you?

Well, I’ve had a surprising number of them cry on me (*wink*) so that’s no longer strange, but it’s still sort of awesome and humbling. I’ve had fans make fan art (one of my favorite things ever) buy me lunch, make me sock knitting bags, and knit me scarves. I’m like a big, fat, lazy cat—if a fan wants to stroke me I will roll over and purr. I’m just always so grateful that what I do makes other people happy! *(Wink Note: Amy is a real sport when people ugly-cry all over her. You should try it sometime. Just sayin’.)*

• What famous person would you most like to have in a room…naked? ::waggles eyebrows:: :)

Jensen Ackles, hands down. But once Tyler Hoechlin hits 30 and I can consider him fair game, I’m taking that fantasy and adding a hotbody!

• Have you ever written something and then thought, “Oh my goddess, I can’t put that out there for people to read?!”

Yes. Absolutely. I think I have a moment like that with every book. But I was working on Wounded and inwardly spazzing over the sex scenes (which, at that time, were some of my most explicit) when someone asked me about Vulnerable in front of my husband. I turned red and muttered something about “explicit” and “alternative” and “you might not like it because of, uhm, guys and guys” and Mate said something that I’ve carried with me ever since. “Own your sex scenes. They don’t make you a bad person, they just make you a creative writer.” So now, before I go back and take it out (Ace’s cold, calculating description of how he has sex with women is one of the moments that sticks in my mind at the moment) I run it by Mary. Usually the stuff that makes the chubby soccer mom in me cringe the most is the stuff that makes Mary (Calmes) as well as my other readers say, “That was amazing and brave.”

• Have you ever seen a picture of a beautiful man (men) and known instantly that you have to write a book based on that picture?

Chase in Shadow, Dex in Blue, Ethan Gold, Racing for the Sun—ah, Corbin Fisher, the many gifts you’ve given me!

• You have been called an evil genius before, by someone in this very interview. Are you an evil genius, or just a misunderstood writer of heartbreaking angst?

(crosses eyes) Well, I think I’m someone in between. I can think of two instances where I did something heinous in print because I thought it would be “interesting in a literary way” instead of sticking to the rules of storytelling that I know in my bones. Both times beta readers said, “No. No, that feels forced. Please take that out.” I never even thought of myself as a “writer of angst” until the reviewers started pinning me with that after Keeping Promise Rock. The only thing m/m audiences had really seen from me at that point was If I Must. I think I surprised people, going from the cute and light to the sturm and drang—all I’ve ever really striven to do as a writer is to write real. I hear about as much news as I can stand, and I hate watching it because it always feels exploitive. What I actually do when someone tells me a story about something awful or something painful that happened to a friend or herself is internalize. “How does somebody survive that situation? How do they walk away and interact with other human beings?” That’s often what drives me to write broken people. I want to see these broken people fixed—or at least in a place where someone else can help them with their brokenness, and they can thrive.

• What’s the one thing about you that might surprise us to know?

I suck at keeping family albums. One of the reasons I started keeping a blog is so I could document my children growing up because putting pictures in a book just seemed to be so beyond me.

• Do you have any works-in-progress you’d care to share with us?

I’m currently working on Ethan Gold, and it’s currently breaking my ever-loving heart. Here’s a little snippet, where we see Jonah, who knows nothing about Johnnies, and his interaction with some people we know very well:

“Who are we meeting again?” Amelia asked for like, the five-hundredth time.

“A guy I met at work. He’s a friend of the new manager’s.”

“Whom you like.” She was looking at him suspiciously, and he couldn’t blame her. He’d simultaneously bitched about Tommy and felt bad for him over the last four days.

“He’s a good manager,” Jonah said after a few moments. “He’s just… I think he’s really tightly wound right now.” It had taken him a while to put stuff together, but that blond guy had come by a couple more times and every time he did, Tommy, the god with the bright eyes and the abrasive manner, seemed to become Dex’s favorite little brother. Jonah had overheard a few more conversations, and he realized that all of the hushed references to Tommy’s boyfriend and his illness had actually been references to mental illness, and Jonah wasn’t sure what to think about that. And then he’d heard “not suicidal anymore” and he was sure that Tommy, who was starting a new life and taking care of someone who couldn’t take care of himself, deserved whatever break Jonah could give him.

And that included nodding his head and saying, “Yeah, sure!” even when Tommy was more gruff than tactful.

“Dammit, Jonah, could you get the fucking fish food? I don’t know who forgot to stack it but I wanna spank them with a four-by-four.”

“Yeah, sure!”

“Fuck it—I don’t give a fuck when we’re scheduled to clean the cat cages, they smell now! Get someone to—no, dammit, you don’t do it, you’re the only reason I don’t fucking kill everyone in the fucking store!”

“Yeah, sure!”

And finally, tonight, actually, “Dammit, Jonah—Ethan’s gonna be hella fuckin’ bummed if you don’t get your ass outta here and get ready for your date—”

“It’s not a date!”

“Yeah, sure. Whatever. Get the hell outta here. I’ll finish the stocking.”

“Yeah,” Jonah said, finally realizing that Tommy’s gruffness, his manic intensity (and his overuse of the F-word) did not actually make him a bad person. It just made him gruff. “Sure, Tommy. Thank you.”

“You been a good helper this week, kid. And Ethan needs a good night out, even if it’s a not-date. Get your ass outta here, kay?”

“Yeah. Sure.”

Jonah smiled tentatively, and Tommy’s grin back was truly remarkable. Pointy teeth, glittering black eyes—no matter how shadowed—and hard-apple cheeks. Jonah’s heart beat just a little faster, but he didn’t linger over that smile.

He really wanted to see Ethan again.

• Would you be willing to share an excerpt from Forever Promised with us?

Sure—here’s one of my favorite sequences, because Mikhail doesn’t do bad dialog!


Mikhail eyed Martin with deep suspicion, especially since the boy had obviously not heard a word he’d said two and a half years earlier, and had eaten enough to grow to the size of a house. Any boy who grew that big was obviously a person not to be trusted.

“You understand, this is a very special vehicle,” he said sharply.

Martin, to his credit, eyed the giant purple Chevy van with the freehand pink lettering without batting a thick black eyelash.

“I understand,” he said, and his voice was soft and low, but Mikhail still scowled.

“You understand that this is a special vehicle, or you understand how to work on such a thing?” he demanded. “The other boy—”

“Collin?” Martin asked, confused, and Mikhail waved his hand.

“Pfft—yes, he is still a boy. You are all children. I am surrounded by children, and disrespectful ones at that, or that boy would not have gone off and on a holiday when my car chose to break down.”
Martin thrust out a pink-chocolate lip and turned big soulful eyes on Mikhail without the slightest twinge of impatience. Martin had been able to make it out for the wedding, and he’d been a mechanic in a garage down south during his entire junior year of high school. Although technically an adult, this was the summer before his final year of high school, and he’d come out to attend the wedding and watch Collin and Jeff’s house and Collin’s business. The two of them were spending a week in Manhattan, seeing plays and museums and generally boring Collin to death (or so Mikhail assumed).

It appeared that Martin had earned enough self-possession in the years to not succumb to Mikhail’s little temper tantrum about his beloved Purple Brick. “They’re on their honeymoon,” Martin emphasized, “and Collin wouldn’t have left me in charge if he didn’t trust me.”

Collin, in fact, had told Mikhail that this boy was planning to come to California permanently once he’d graduated, where he would live in Collin’s old flat above his mother’s garage and assist Collin and Joshua with the business. Next June, he would be a high school graduate as well as an adult, and right now, he was practicing for the job. Mikhail had trouble believing that—the boy had been the next best thing to a delinquent when he’d first arrived at Levee Oaks, and he had certainly hated Jeff’s queer ass with everything inside him. But still, Mikhail was walking, irritated proof that people could indeed change.

“This van is very special,” he conceded. “When I brought it home, my cop took one look at it and called everybody we know to come out and fix it. It took them four days.”

Martin’s eyes got a little wider, and he looked under the hood of the van again. “You got off lucky, little man. If you’d brought that thing to me in any worse condition than it’s already in, I would have gotten Collin’s gun out of the safe and shot it dead.”

Mikhail grunted and narrowed his eyes. “You say that, but you? You do not have the guts. It takes a Russian to make a mercy killing, but only on a good day. I have no mercy in me. You’d better fix it, or the damned thing is going to haunt you like whatever small city you ate for breakfast.”

Martin grinned. “I frickin’ missed you, you grumpy Russian bastard.” He straightened up and wiped his hands with one of the cloths he and Collin seemed to sprout from their pockets. “Do you have a ride, or do I have to send you into the garage to make Joshua’s life a living hell?”


Thanks for stopping by, Amy, and congratulations on the new release! Don’t be a stranger! ;-)

JL Merrow, Riptide Publishing

Well, Look Who Just Dropped In For A Quick Visit – Please Welcome JL Merrow! And Yes, There’s a Giveaway!

Hello and welcome to the virtual book tour for Damned If You Do! I’m JL Merrow, and our lovely host has been kind enough to interview me today. I made sure to bring along a giveaway—leave a comment below by 11:59pm on 6/28/13 and you’ll be entered in a week-long contest to win a $10 gift certificate to Riptide! Follow the tour all week for more Damned If You Do celebrations, including more interviews, thoughts from editor Sarah Frantz, and, of course, more chances to win.

* * *

Hi JL! Congratulations on your new release with Riptide!

Tell us a little about yourself. Which do you read on: Nook, Kindle, Kindle Fire, iPad, Paperback, or Hardcover? Why?

None of the above – I have a Kobo Glo. I absolutely love e-readers, and am on my third one now. Why? Well, for one thing, I’m a fickle reader. I generally have several books on the go at any one time, and read them according to the mood I’m in. I just love being able to take ALL of them with me whenever I go somewhere. Plus, there’s the dictionary features – particularly useful if you read in a foreign language – and all the free out-of-copyright books you can get from places like ManyBooks.
If I absolutely have to get a dead tree book, I’ll buy paperback. I’ve never been a fan of hardbacks. Reading is supposed to build up your brain, not your muscles!

How big is your personal library? What genre do you read/collect the most?

This is the wonder of ebooks—I never have to admit to how many I’ve bought! These days, I generally read m/m or LGBT fiction, and within that genre, I’m very partial to a mystery. I also like paranormals. I used to read a lot of mainstream urban fantasy, but I don’t have so much time for it now I’m writing myself. I still enjoy classic, Golden Age mysteries.

Which authors have influenced your writing the most?

Without a doubt, Sir Terry Pratchett. His books are a masterclass in comedy. Also Jim Butcher. The Dresden Files are a perfect example of a strong first-person narrative.

Okay, last question—If you were stranded on an island with one book and one object, what would they be?

Preferably some kind of escape craft. And the instruction manual. Roughing it is not my favourite pastime. And I burn in the sun, and dislike eating fish.

Thanks for coming by, JL!

Thanks for having me!

Blurb: Sexy male succubus Rael has an insatiable appetite for men that gets him into all kinds of trouble. And he’s just found his favorite flavor: hunky blond detective Lars Thornsson. When those cool Nordic looks combine with Rael’s smoldering dark charms, all Hell could break loose.
Lars’s job at the Paranormal Enforcement Agency means he’s supposed to be policing demons, not falling in lust—or love—with them. But there’s something about this feisty little sex demon that hits all his buttons.

With no shortage of deadly sinners in his city, from serial-killing succubi to drug-dealing demons, all Lars can do is try to keep his private life from interfering with his work. But Rael has a knack for getting mixed up in cases that threaten both their domestic harmony and their lives.

Damned If You Do can be purchased from Riptide here.

About the Author: JL Merrow is that rare beast, an English person who refuses to drink tea. She read Natural Sciences at Cambridge, where she learned many things, chief amongst which was that she never wanted to see the inside of a lab ever again. Her one regret is that she never mastered the ability of punting one-handed whilst holding a glass of champagne.

She writes across genres, with a preference for contemporary gay romance and the paranormal, and is frequently accused of humour. Her novella Muscling Through is a 2013 EPIC ebook Award finalist. She is a member of the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet organising team.

Find JL Merrow online at:, on Twitter as @jlmerrow, and on Facebook at


Anne Brooke, Geoffrey Knight, Wilde City Press

Look Who’s Just Turned 21! Please Help Us Give A Warm Birthday Welcome To The One And Only Anne Brooke!

The incomparable Geoffrey Knight had the honor of asking the inimitable Anne Brooke a few questions about her first Wilde City publication, The Beginning of Knowledge, her upcoming release Taking a Chance, her contributions to the WCP poetry collection Falling Awake, and a lot more. What came of it is this, an interview you won’t want to miss!

Happy Birthday, Anne!


GK: First of all, a big thank you to Lisa and everyone at The Novel Approach for having us, and Anne, thanks so much for joining in the fun of Wilde City’s week at The Novel Approach. Lisa from TNA has told me she’s a big fan of yours and has read everything you’ve written, so I’m very pleased to let her know that we’ll soon be publishing a new short romance from you titled Taking A Chance. Why don’t we start by chatting about that, because I think everyone is going to love Taking A Chance.

AB: The cheque’s in the post, Lisa – again … Seriously, what a lovely woman you are – thank you very much! It’s fabulous to be here. Yes, I’m really looking forward to getting Taking A Chance out there. I’ve a real soft spot for people who make sudden dramatic decisions that have the potential to change their lives. It’s an incredibly brave and liberating thing to do. Which is just what my hero Benjamin does in the story:

The moment model and part-time actor Benjamin spots the sexually alluring David outside his local restaurant one Friday night, he’s determined to get to know him better. Much better. So he takes a chance and pretends to be Timothy, the blind date David is waiting for. Soon he realises it’s not just an ordinary date, but something way beyond his experience is actually going on.

When David asks him about submission, safe words and spanking, Benjamin knows the sensible thing to do would be to make his apologies and leave. Funny then how his body keeps telling him something different, and instead he finds himself strangely eager to know more. Will it be a date to remember and if David discovers his deceit, could he ever be persuaded to take any kind of a chance on Benjamin?

Many years ago, one of my husband’s friends went on holiday to Spain, met a man out there – and married him, all in the three weeks of her holiday. When she came back, everyone who knew her was totally shocked (she was really a very sensible kind of a gal) and they all said it would never last. I thought it was amazing, and a huge well done to her (and the man concerned). Well over twenty-five years and three children later, they’re still going strong. Sometimes your whole life has the potential to change in a moment if you just have the courage to believe in yourself, and that’s the kind of dilemma I wanted Benjamin – and David – to have. I hope people will enjoy the read.

GK: The thing I love most about your writing is that, no matter how short or long a story is, you thrive on characters with complexities, even if you only hint at them or we have to dig to find them. Even when the plot seems to control the stakes in the story, it’s actually the depth of character and their reactions that steer things. How easy or hard is it to come up with your characters?

AB: I’m endlessly fascinated by people and what makes them tick – which is something of a family trait as my grandmother could sit on park benches for hours, watching people going by and making up stories about them. She was an odd one, was Grandma! I always loved to hear what she came up with – and it’s probably from her that I learnt the truth that people are always a thousand times more complex than you think they are. Everyone’s capable of great saintliness and great horror in their lives, no matter how straightforward they might look on the surface, and there’s no end to the actions we all might do at any time. Even when we think we know someone incredibly well, we most definitely do not – people are like onions in the sense that there’s no real end to their layers. It’s that kind of mystery I like to convey in my stories, in the best way for the particular character I’m writing about. Sometimes the most important thing about writing is to stand aside – as far as any writer can – and let the character run with the text. It’s the hardest thing to do, but always the most satisfying.

GK: Your first story with Wilde City is The Beginning of Knowledge, published under our Charlie Harding Presents banner. As a porn star who knows how to turn up the heat, Charlie publishes books that are highly erotic, but also strong on story and character. We were lucky enough to publish The Beginning of Knowledge, which is dark and edgy and hot, and ticks all of Charlie’s boxes. Tell us about the story and what compelled you to write it.

AB: The Beginning of Knowledge is a story about passion and power, and how it can change our lives for the worse as well as for the better. A lot of my stories focus in one way or another on the issue of obsession, especially sexual obsession, as I think it’s a very powerful driver, and it’s always fascinating to explore people living life at an extreme edge. The blurb is:

When University administrator Alan Castleton meets temporary worker and talented pianist Luke Milton, he doesn’t expect to become obsessed with the handsome young blond. But soon he is heavily involved in a passionate and angry affair, and exploring the dark shadows of his own personality in a way he’s never encountered before.

The more Alan tries to break free from his obsession, the deeper it entangles him. The dangerous split between his reason and his sexual desires threatens his peace of mind and, when the crisis point comes, he must decide once and for all the kind of life he should lead.

It started out as a very different story which simply wasn’t working and I couldn’t think why. Then it came to me that I was skirting round the issue of the heat and passion between Alan and Luke, and trying to make it something it wasn’t – ie by focusing on the business setting where they’d first met, rather than on the erotic relationship. I wasn’t really listening to either character’s story as they understood it – which is always a fatal mistake for any author to make, of course! Once I’d given up trying to fit them both into my idea of what they should be and started really listening to them, the whole story just came alive and was a thousand times easier to write. I did scare myself though with how much I enjoyed writing angry desperate sex. Funny – I think my husband might be hiding right now, hmmm …

GK: You write both sweet romances and scorching hot erotica, not to mention you’re able to pen laugh-out-loud comedy, heart-wrenching drama and dark, dangerous thrills. Is there any one genre or sub-genre you prefer?

AB: Oh heck, that’s really tough. It honestly depends on what mood I’m in – as I go with the genre which fits my feelings about life at the time. Which probably goes to show – rather too well for comfort – just how unstable I can actually be! I do enjoy writing the comic fiction, but I suspect the dark stuff sits more naturally with the way I am underneath. Strangely the scenes which I find easiest to write and I tend to be able to do without a lot of editing afterwards are the sex scenes (well, I’m only human …) and the scenes involving violence and pain. I did explain this to my husband some while back and, worryingly, he didn’t look that surprised but just smiled and walked backwards out of the door whilst calling the Police for help. I made that last bit up – no, really I did!…

I think this is part of the trouble I have with actually selling books – people don’t tend to know exactly what genre I’ll be writing in this time whenever they pick up one of my stories – so they can’t always instantly tell if it’s going to suit them or not. I suspect it’s easier being an author these days who only writes in one genre, as then everyone knows where they are. On the other hand, I get a big kick out of writing in different moods and formats as it just seems more honest a way of doing things, certainly for me.

GK: I’ve asked you this before when I interviewed you for Why Straight Women Love Gay Romance, but I love that you as a person contradict what many perceive to be the norm. You are a straight, married woman and devout Christian living in the English countryside. Yet you have struck this amazing balance between being true to your faith and writing gay male romance and erotica, and even better, you’re not afraid to discuss your views and fight for them.

AB: Ha! Thank you – I loved your questions for that book, and am really proud to be part of it. You did a brilliant job and I can thoroughly recommend it to everyone. I think in many ways every one of us is contradictory and that’s something that should be celebrated rather than questioned. I’m not sure I’ve ever actually met a normal person – or maybe I’m not moving in the right circles (as it were)?…

On the other hand and at a deeper level, I see nothing wrong and everything right with being a happily married Christian and a gay romance and erotica fiction writer – I believe very much that this is part of God’s “calling” to me, and all I need to do is fulfill it the best dang way I can – it certainly helps me to be able to express the powerful male voice in my head that’s been with me as long as I can remember. And, besides, as I’m sure I’ve said before – to you and many others! – God invented sex and romance as part of being human and we should celebrate these gifts. Goodness me, even Christians have sex – but only on Sundays and out of sight of the vicar, naturally (hmm, now there’s a plot line – no, stop right there as I’m scaring myself!)… Anyway, I do find it funny how many people question writers of erotic fiction as if they’re very strange indeed – but nobody ever thinks to question writers of crime fiction. Murder is much odder than sex, after all, and certainly less desirable!

GK: Both in terms of time and headspace, how do you manage to juggle writing, marriage, a job at the university where you work, your dedication to the Church and your fabulous baking! (Yes, I’ve seen the posts on Facebook and my mouth waters every time you bake a cake!)

AB: I hate being bored. No, seriously, I really hate it. I love doing a lot of things at once, though these days (I’m 49 years and 2 days old by the time you publish this on Sunday!) I find I have to factor in sleep as well, or I get rather too angsty for sanity – mine and everyone else’s. I believe also that you always make time for the things you’re passionate about and all those things you mention above are a huge part of who I am and who I see myself to be. Marriage, writing, my faith are all vital and I couldn’t be me without them – and I thoroughly enjoy working for the Uni and once a week pretending to be a Domestic Goddess in the kitchen. Mind you, don’t forget you only see the cake successes though – I’m too embarrassed to post pictures of the disasters, and also you can’t tell what they actually taste like, which occasionally is definitely a blessing. Of course my husband is far too much of a gentleman to be anything but complimentary about my baking…

GK: Poetry! There’s just not enough of it in the world today, which is why Wilde City decided to give poetry a chance and publish our first collection from various Wilde City authors titled Falling Awake (which is the title of one of your poems in the collection). Best of all, it’s Free! Why did you jump at the chance to be in this collection, especially knowing that nobody was going to earn a penny in royalties? What is it about poetry that seems to awaken our senses?

AB: I think all poems should be free and there for everyone to enjoy – as if you get the right poem at the right time for you, then it just sings and can speak to you in a way nothing else can. That’s the magic of it. Sometimes people tell me they hate poetry – when actually they’ve not met the right poem or type of poetry for them just yet. I also think that people actually speak poetry and rhythm every time they open their mouths. It’s the way we’re wired. Nobody speaks in prose, ever. Listen next time you go to the supermarket or the bank – you’ll hear the lilt and song of everyday speech all around you. Truly magical indeed.

GK: Do you have a favorite poem in the collection?

AB: I think Falling Awake maintains an incredibly high standard throughout and I’m thrilled to be part of the anthology. If I absolutely had to pick a favourite and you were twisting my arm for an answer (cruel man!), then I’d say I truly LOVE Exchange by Hank Edwards which makes me gasp each time I read it for the way it tells a whole relationship story just in two perfect verses. Then again (and I know you don’t want me to mention yours, Geoff, but, sorry, I’m going to anyway …) Pedestal is just brilliant and I smile each time I read that one. It says it all in such a short space and I dang well wish I’d written it. Curses, foiled again …

GK: What’s currently on Anne Brooke’s WIP list?

AB: I’m currently working on a gay fantasy, The Taming of The Hawk. It started out as a short story, then it became a novella and, heck, it’s still going. Oh heck, anyone for a trilogy?? It’s all very rough at the moment so it’ll need a load of editing when the first draft is finally all on the page, but I’m enjoying the ride.

At the same time, I’ve just started a new short story (which will definitely remain a short story, I’m – almost – sure of it) called The Frozen Heart. It’s about a man physically terrified of touch – for good reason – and his relationship with a young hooker. This one’s in the early stages for now, but I’m looking forward to getting more of it down over the summer. Weather permitting!

GK: Anne, thanks so much for chatting, I love a good chat with you. One day we’ll do it over scones and tea! And one of your cakes! :-)

AB: Thanks so much for letting me be part of Wilde City Press – I’m loving the location and the company. And thanks again to Lisa for letting us take over her site for a week-long party – we’re all very grateful. And we promise to leave everything tidy when we go, honest. Meanwhile, in terms of cakes, I’m already getting my apron on and my spatula out, Geoff (as it were …). Naturally, my door is always open to you!


Thanks so much, Anne and Geoff, for closing out our Wilde Week on such a great note! It’s been an honor to host Wilde City Press and all the authors who’ve contributed their time and talents to making it stellar!

M.A. Church, Sandrine Gasq-Dion, Wilde City Press

Want To Find Out What Sandrine Gasq-Dion’s Muse Looks Like? Read On, And Welcome Sandrine & Author M.A. Church To Wilde Week!

Author M.A. Church took the opportunity to sit down with Sandrine and ask her a few questions about her latest book A Betting Man, and we here at The Novel Approach are glad she did, because that means Sandrine gets to be part of our Wilde, Wilde week of fun with Wilde City Press!

And now, we give you…the interview.


Hey guys! Pull up a chair and join me. Lovely day for an interview, huh? :) Today I have the fab Sandrine visiting. She’s going to talk a little about her latest M/M release A Betting Man from Wilde City Press. Plus, she’s going to reveal all, lol, in an interview. o.0

Hope y’all enjoy! :)

By Sandrine Gasq-Dion


How bad could one harmless bet be? Kent Samson is about to find out. Raised in Alabama, Kent has hidden his past and now loves his life as a big time ad exec for a prestigious advertising company in New York. But when he makes a bet with his best friend, Blaine, Kent is thrown for a loop—for Kent has to make the next person to walk through the door fall in love with him.

Terry Barron is hiding out in New York. Raised in England in a wealthy family, Terry escapes to New York to avoid arranged marriages and the lifestyle he’s grown to hate. When he delivers a package to an advertising firm, he meets the unbelievably sexy Kent Samson. Suddenly, secrets and lies complicate everything and both men find themselves in uncharted waters. How will Terry feel when Kent is revealed as a betting man?


Sandrine (Sandy) was born in Inglewood, California. Raised by “Old School” French parents, she later moved to Tucson, AZ. It was there that writing became a hobby. Always told she had a great imagination, Sandy wrote short stories for her friends in high school. In college, she took more writing classes while working on her Criminal Justice degree, but it wasn’t until a soap opera caught her eye that she got involved in male on male romances. On the advice of a friend, Sandy dipped her toes into the world of M/M Romance. Sandy takes the writing seriously and has had countless conversations with gay men as well as hours of research. She’s been involved with the military in one way or another for over twenty years, and has a great deal of respect for our men in uniform. She’s traveled the world, but is currently enjoying the South.

And now for the interview…

~When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

Middle school. My English teacher told us all to write an essay about where we saw ourselves in ten years. It was due by the end of the week and I wrote it in one day—all ten pages front and back. I got an ‘A’ and she told me I had one hell of an imagination.

~How much of your personality and life experiences are in your writing?

Almost all of it! There are places I’ve been, people I’ve met, situations I’ve been in that most people would say, “Well, that could never happen!” But it does! I think almost all writers pull from their own life, that’s what makes great storytelling! I’ve been involved in the military for over twenty years and the stories from that alone could make another ten books! My personality is most definitely in all my books. I think it comes out the most in my snarky characters.

~Have you ever doubted yourself as a writer and if so, how did you overcome it?

Oh God, all the time! I am so lucky to have friends that back me up and shout in my face when I become a babbling, crying idiot. I don’t think you ever really overcome it. I think you’ll always have that little voice in your head that pokes you and tells you that you’re just not good enough. I think for me, I write the best I can and when I look at a finished manuscript, I know at least ONE person is going to love it, and that’s all I need.

~How do you come up with a title?

It’s been interesting how many times I’ve bounced ideas off my friends who are close to me. Reflash was me talking to firefighter friends. Since the book revolved around Firefighters and Cops, Reflash became the only title I even considered. Mostly I’m looking at the storyline itself and what one word brings it all together. In the instance of The Nik of Time, I let my readers name it!

~When do you do your best writing… morning, afternoon, evening, night?

There really isn’t a set time of day. I TRY to write when the kids are at school, but half the time I’m up until about two in the morning typing like a mad woman. So I’d have to say I get more done in the early morning hours. My editor hates it because I do less punctuation at that time. lol

~Out of all the stories you’ve written which one are you most proud of?

I would have to say Second Time Around it was really my first try at first person and I realized I LOVE writing in the first person. I think in a lot of ways it’s easier and the words flow faster. I like putting myself into that character and bringing him to life.

~Do you plan your stories and, if so, to what extent?

I do and I don’t. I know with the Assassin-Shifter books, I have couples that I plan out way ahead of time (Wyatt and Preston, Devin &Andrei and Keegan and Vince) Then there are the ones that come to me as I’m driving down the road. I’m 16 books into the Assassin-Shifter series and I have so many more to write! Coming up with fresh storylines is where the planning starts. I don’t want to rehash the same story over and over so I’ve added a few characters to mix it up a bit! I’ve also got the books I’m writing for Wilde City Press and those will not be a series, but you’ll see past characters come in!

~How many stories do you work on at any one time?

Oh God, right now I’ve got five going at once. It’s like a never ending voice in my head. Usually it’s when I’m driving down the road I’ll get an idea for a book. Sometimes it’s in the middle of the night!

~What was your favorite character to write, and why?

I think Riley Flynn is my favorite. He’s just so much fun and he has innocence about him. He’s spontaneous and has an inner child that loves wreaking havoc. He’s also very loving and to an extent– naïve.

~Name three things that would surprise your fans to know about you?

I speak fluent French.

I actually hang out with tatted, bulging military men.

I have actually lived in every state I’ve written about. And not just for a few months, we’re talking YEARS.

~What’s your guilty pleasure?


~What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

In the beginning I couldn’t afford an editor. My friend and I tried our best, but I’ve never been one to care about where a comma goes and if that period needed to be there. So I think the flack we both took in the beginning hit us both hard. I changed editor’s right after Half Moon Rising but still keep anyone involved in this close to me. They were here from the beginning and shall remain here throughout.

The best compliment hands down are from my readers. When I get an email telling me how much a book lifted someone’s spirits, or just made their day, any five star review can’t beat that.

~What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you?

I had another author tell me never to read reviews below five stars. Normally, I try to adhere to that advice, but there’s still that part of me that wants to see if I could do better. I’m a glutton for punishment.

~If there was one piece of advice you could give a new author, what would it be?

Edit, edit, edit. Try not to take that one star review to heart. If there is one thing I learned over the last year and a half, it’s that you can’t please everyone!

~What was the hardest book for you to write, or the hardest scene in one of your books to write, and why did you struggle with it?

Second Time Around and Summer of Awakenings tie as the books hardest to write. With “Second”, I pulled a lot of emotion from my own loss. I lost my father and my grandmother in a plane crash and I think for me, losing someone so suddenly takes one hell of a toll on you. So the funeral scene in “Second” drained me emotionally. “Summer” was hard to write as well, especially for the character of William and the kids that had been abused. That book was mainly for all the teenage kids I have been blessed to meet, and some of the names in the books are actually theirs.

~When you sit down to write a book, do you go with the flow? Or do you outline and plot all the important details out first?

Both. Some books just write themselves and I’m going with the flow. Other’s I’ve had to actually sit down with a pad of paper and write down how I wanted it to go chapter by chapter. Sometimes I’m writing the ending of the book and then I fill in all the spaces in between. It’s crazy!

~Who are your favorite authors (in your same genre or not) and some of the best books you’ve ever read? What is your favorite book that you remember from childhood?

I fell in love with The Thorn Birds. I think that all-consuming-can’t-have-it love makes a story that’s much more compelling. And the movie was done beautifully! That book has remained my favorite all this time.

I love Stephen King; he’s just got this twisted mind that I love! Dolores Claiborne is my favorite, with Misery close behind!

I love M.A. Church (Hehe), GA Hauser, Mercy Celeste, Mary Calmes, Ethan Day and Geoff Knight, just to name a few!

Feeling inspired yet? I am.

~If your “Muse” were an actual flesh and blood person, what would he/she look like?

A seriously tall, tatted man with bulging muscles!!

~What part of the writing process do you dread?

Research. Although I’ve lived in every state I’ve written about, I still go back and make sure I’ve got that right street, or that building is where I said it is. Researching Russian Prey started with me trying to find a maximum security prison in Russia out in the middle of nowhere. FUN! lol

~Do you prefer hot or cold weather and why?

Now this is funny. I was born in California, but raised in Arizona, so I LOVE hot! BUT, on that same note, I was stationed in Fairbanks Alaska for two years and LOVED the cold. I think in Arizona, I loved the fact that I could just go dip in the pool and get a tan in five minutes. In Alaska, I loved the cold because I could bundle up and watch the Aurora Borealis from my front porch. I’m at an impasse…lol.

~Are you a romantic?

Oh God yes! I believe in love at first sight!

~Do you listen to music when you’re writing?

All the time. I also incorporate songs into the books so my readers know just what song I was listening to when I write that hot/sexy/steamy love scene.

~If we could see your writing space, what would we see?

I’m so organized it’s pathetic. You’d see a very clean desk with little to no clutter. I keep little knick knacks on it that the kids have made for me, or readers have sent me. Other than that, my coaster for my coffee cup and the cat bed.

~Do you own a pet? If so, tell us about him/her!

I own two cats, one dog, three fish and four rats. I’ve had the dog the longest though. She’s a Siberian Husky and fourteen. She set in her ways and loves to drive me up the wall. I had another Siberian, a male named Nikoli, my readers will know that name ;). I lost him last June and adopted my cat, Mateo. (My readers will know that name too). He sits on my desk and watches me work. Nikoli used to sit in my office all the time and I would talk to him about what I was writing. So in a way, Mateo has helped me heal just a bit!

~What are your favorite TV shows?

Supernatural, Castle and The Vampire Diaries. I’ve cut out so much TV in the last year I’ll have to watch all the shows I dumped on Netflix.

~Want to tell us about any projects you have in the works? Or any releases coming soon?

I’m actually writing a follow up to A Betting Man. I’ve also got The Littlest Assassin-Shifters as well as Lesson’s Learned in the works, and four more other books, some in the Assassin series and some off on their own. The Nik of Time Should be out soon. I’m going to be very busy this summer.

~Where can your readers find you on the web?

I have two facebook pages, a blog and a website.

~Is there any message you’d like to share with readers?

First off, thank you! If it wasn’t for all of you, I would not be where I am. So thank you, thank you, thank you!! Second, I look forward to bringing you many, many more books in the future!


And that’s it, folks! A huge thank you to Sandrine and M.A. for visiting us today!

Ethan Stone, Wilde City Press

Here In The Present Tense To Talk A Little Bit About His New Book Past Tense, Please Welcome Ethan Stone!

Is he dressed to thrill… or out for the kill? Does he pray for forgiveness… or prey through the night? Will he take you down a dark, cobblestone alley to have his way… or make you pay?

Intrigued yet? Well, that’s Ethan Stone for you, folks, here in the flesh…almost, and pun fully intended…to celebrate this Wilde, Wilde week of erotic, thrilling, chilling, madcap, futuristic fun!

Park yourself somewhere cool, why don’t you, and enjoy what Mr. Stone has in store for you!


JerkyA lot of changes for you recently, how is the move to Oregon working out?

It’s been great. I love the weather and the beautiful scenery. So green and beautiful, especially compared to the bleak, starkness of Nevada. Moving here was definitely the right choice for me. You’d think all that would translate into writing inspiration, right? Not so much. Totally blocked at the moment. I’ve been missing one of my biggest writing tools; Werner’s Peppered Beef Jerky rounds. I used to eat them all the time when I was writing and I haven’t been able to find them here.

You’ll be attending the Seattle meet-up in September … what should be in store for readers and authors who are able to make it?

I am way excited about this event. I don’t really know what to expect since it’s the first year, but the organizers have been great and have a lot of awesome plans. I think it will be a great chance to meet with readers for some great conversation. GayRomanceNorthwest.

Where did you get the idea for the storyline of your book Past Tense?

It was one of those ideas that was circulating in my head for a while. And it turned out very different than I originally imagined. In addition to the names changing several times (which is normal for me) I originally conceived Jason as a married man whose wife is killed by the father of his teenage lover. Jason was either a journalist or lawyer before he became the Blackjack dealing stripper he transformed into. Quinn’s character was still a loner but his and Liam’s family didn’t appear to me until I was writing the book.

Was Liam’s family based on your own or someone’s you know?

Definitely not based on my own, which would mean they all sit around watching tv and not much else. The MacKenna’s are totally my own creations, taking the best and worst of families I’ve seen. In a way, they’re a family I’d love to be part of.

You mentioned that Past Tense went into a whole other direction than you planned, what was the key factor that changed the story?

When I started writing it I had no idea it was going to become paranormal. I was about halfway through and didn’t think it would be any different than lots of other stories. I want it to at least be unique and I accomplished that, regardless of whether readers enjoy it or not.

Is that the reason behind keeping the paranormal so subtle in the beginning of the book?

I wanted readers to have a surprise. I wanted readers who may not normally read a paranormal to be swept into the world and go for the ride. If I accomplished that or not, I’m not sure.

Was there a scene that you loved but for some reason or another it had to be taken out?

I was tempted to write in omniscient third because I kind of wanted to be in the mind of Kyon, the leather dog. He still fascinates me and would love to someday use him again. Can he be redeemed? I’m not sure, but it might be fun to try.

Kyon is a frightening character, where did he come from?

leathers8He was a character in my head from the very beginning. I’m not so much into the leather scene or puppy play, but I stumbled across a few pictures and the idea formed. Waking up with a man dressed in the dog getup staring down at me would freak me out. Add in him being a sadistic bastard and I had an awesome villain. There’s a reason why Kyon isn’t dead at the end of the book. I’m sure I’ll use him again.

Do you plan on writing a sequel?

Absolutely. I think there is much more story to tell. Why didn’t Jason’s parents tell him about his powers? Are there others out there like him? What’s the deal with Quinn and his wings? Why didn’t his wings appear when he was with Liam? And…

I want to know all those things! We can have book 2 sometime next week, right?

Ummm, I wouldn’t hold your breath. Hopefully soon if I can break the damn blockage.

Are you planning to write a backstory for Liam and Quinn’s relationship?

I hadn’t originally planned on writing a back story for them, but if readers want it I could go there. I have a lot of the story in my head so you never know.

What scene was your favorite to write?

I enjoyed the final battle scene because it was so different than anything I’d done before.

What was the hardest scene to write?

Same answer as above.

Was it the paranormal “rules” that were so challenging and exciting? Or something else?

It was freeing to be able to go further than I had in other stories while also trying not to go too far overboard. Part of it was using images I’d seen on the net or in my mind and putting it on the page.

How did you decide on what Jay’s power would be?

Chlorophyll KidFor his powers I wanted something somewhat simple but still useful. Jay is a down to earth guy so the ability of an earth-based power came to mind. Limits had to come into play again with him. I didn’t want to go overboard and say he could affect ropes if they were made out of hemp. I chose to make it that he could control only live plants.

Are you a fan or superheroes?

To answer that question let me tell a few things I own; Green Lantern wallet, Justice League t-shirt, Superman, Batman and Green Lantern underwear, oh and about 3,000 comic books. In Past Tense there is a mention of Chlorophyll Kid. That is a genuine character, though in the comics he was presented in a humorous manner. Chlorophyll Kid

Is there a meaning behind the title, Past Tense?

The book deals a lot with both Quinn’s and Jason’s pasts, so it was a play on the writing term past tense.

If Past Tense were to be made into a movie, what actors do you imagine playing Quinn, Jay or even Liam?

Matthew FoxMark Ruffalo
For Quinn I’m torn between Matthew Fox and Mark Ruffalo. They both have the rugged good looks and can play the tortured soul very well. For Jay I’d love Chad Michael Murray. Maybe it’s because I’ve been watching One Tree Hill on Netflix that I’m obsessed with Chad Michael, but he can play the brooding young man extremely well. Former gay porn star Blu Kennedy would make a perfect Liam.

Chad Michael MurrayBlu Kennedy 2

What is your typical process when starting to write a book?

Grab onto a kernel of an idea and praying I can make it into something.

Do you “write what you know” or search out uncommon things to write about? How do you go about researching themes that you aren’t familiar with?

I try to start with something I know and go from there. I love adding twists to common ideas to make them fresh and unique. I admit I’m not the biggest researcher. When I do need information it’s all about Google. My upcoming book, Compromised, involves prison gangs, which I had some knowledge about since I worked at a prison for several years, but online I found history and information I didn’t know. Facebook is also great. I can throw out a question and ask my friends on there for help. I usually get what I need that way.

What are some things you would love to write about, but haven’t found the right “story” yet?

I’ve wanted to write a twincest or brocest story, even came close a few times, but just never had enough of a plot. I’d love to write a post-apocalyptic story as well.

Anything that you would never write about?

I don’t have many limits, other than some of the obvious like underage guys. At one point I’d have said you never find a bare vagina in one of my stories but lately I’ve been contemplating a m/m/f scene.

What are some of the future projects you’re working on right now?

It’s been a struggle lately. Lots of nothing. WIP’s include a sequel to Compromised, which is due out soon from Total-e-Bound, and a short story set in a gay men’s resort in Vegas.

What is Compromised about?

Daniel “Kash” Kashaveroff is a correctional officer at a maximum security prison and looking for Mr. Right. He has a NSA relationship with a co-worker, Zane Davis. The relationship turns serious but they face challenges because of Zane’s bi-sexuality and Kash’s desire to prove the innocence of an inmate, Kody Ives.

Lots of hotness to be found in a gay man’s resort … does what happen in Vegas really stay in Vegas?

I don’t think anything really stays in Vegas. For some men who stay at Hotel Incognito (the resort in my story) what happens there will stay there, for others it continues outside the walls of Incognito. Incognito is based on the Blue Moon Resort in Las Vegas. And yes, I did stay at Blue Moon one time, but what I did there, will stay there. A gentleman should never kiss and tell. I may not be a gentleman but…

Thanks, Ethan!

Jordan L. Hawk, Self-Published

Crossing the Threshold with Jordan L. Hawk – And There’s A Giveaway Too!

Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers,
but to be fearless in facing them. – Rabindranath Tagore

Dr. Percival Whyborne and Griffin Flaherty have settled into their home and a life together; or are as settled as they can be, given the nature of their relationship and their need for discretion. Life in Widdershins has been quiet for the two men since the city last teetered on the brink of annihilation, but life… well, at least life as Whyborne and Griffin know it, is about to take a turn for the supernatural.

Whyborne’s father—he of the, “Oops, I nearly destroyed the world,” Whybornes—wants to hire Griffin to investigate some strange goings-on in Threshold, West Virginia. Seems there’ve been reports of disappearances, odd behaviors, and inexplicable noises in the coal mine there, for which the town even exists at all. It’s a case he and Ival are reluctant to accept, but accept they do because if they didn’t, there wouldn’t be anything for me to have stayed awake until the wee hours to devour now, would there? And that would be bad, which is an understatement. Tragic! It would be tragic…

There’s a stone—the literal keystone, to put a finer point on its significance—that holds a secret message, one Whyborne must attempt to translate. But someone, or something, doesn’t want this puzzle solved, and they’re willing to do whatever it takes to make sure our dear philologist isn’t afforded the opportunity to make heads or tails…or claws or pincers or tentacles, oh my!…out of it.

Whyborne, Griffin, and Dr. Christine Putnam (whom I adore!) make the trip to the small West Virginia mining town, entirely unprepared for what they might find there, which, at first blush, seems to be nothing more than local legend and imagination run amok.

The Pinkertons are there to keep the peace. Sort of. But things become less than peaceful on a very personal level, when someone from Griffin’s past resurfaces and creates all sorts of havoc in his and Whyborne’s relationship. But, I have to say, for as much as it gave me the angsty boo-boos on my heart, it needed doing because Griffin needed to get some wrongheaded notions straightened out before he and Whyborne could move forward. Everything happens for a reason, doesn’t it?

How do you sum up a book like Threshold in a single word? Clearly, I’m not very good at it, but if I were to try, I’d say it’s extraordinary. It truly is all the synonyms of that word: amazing and bizarre and unique and strange and marvelous. The plot is chockfull of squicky surprises and brimming with frightening and freakish bogies, not to mention danger and intrigue and romance. Plus, it’s a chance to spend more time with the characters I fell in love with in Widdershins, which is possibly the best part of it all.

Joseph Campbell once said that the crossing of the threshold in a hero’s journey is ”the point of no return.” Why in the world would you want to miss that?

You can buy Threshold (Whyborne & Griffin, Book 2) here:


Bruce, Tina, and I are ecstatic to have Jordan with us today. She graciously accepted our invitation to answer a few questions, and if you read all the way to the end, you’ll find out that she’s also generously offering a giveaway to one lucky winner. Welcome, Jordan!

So, let’s start off with having you tell us a little bit about yourself: hobbies, interests, whatever you’d like to share about what makes you, you.

A.) When I’m not writing, I brew beer and mead (honey-wine), hike, and drink scotch (I’m lying – I do that while I’m writing, too). I’m a giant geek who fell in love with Doctor Who in 1986 when the local PBS station aired the Tom Baker episodes, and my first love letter was to Spock (I was four, and I wrote it in green crayon and asked him to marry me). I spent more of my life than any human should in college, first to get an archaeology degree, then later to get a BS and a Masters in biology. I’m vegan, have two cats, and an amazing husband who doubles as my beta reader.

Q.) Why paranormal/fantasy? What attracts you to the crafting of those stories rather than a simple contemporary romance? Is there any sort of psychological component behind writing what you write?

A.) Ever since I was a little kid, my favorite stories always had magic in them. I’ve always loved stretching my imagination, envisioning different worlds, or worlds that are almost—but not quite—our own. I also love it because it lets me explore real world problems through a slightly different lens.

Families are a continuous thread in all of my works so far: families made by blood, and families made through choice, and the places they intersect. Dan in Hainted is in danger of wasting his own life making up for his parents’ mistakes, while raising his two younger siblings. In the SPECTR books, the agency is the family which took John in when his own rejected him. Whyborne in Widdershins spent his childhood bullied and put down by his father and brother–only to discover they’re even worse people than he realized.

On that note, I would love to write a book bringing in some of the Endicotts from Whyborne’s mother’s side of the family. One thing I learned from reading HP Lovecraft: never, ever look into your family tree. You’ll only find undead sorcerers, cannibal sorcerers, or fishmen, and it all ends in madness and screaming.

The transformative power of love–for good or ill–is another theme I find myself going back to over and over again. The idea that a person can be inspired to do better, or be a better person, or even just to finally let go of those past wounds and heal, crops up all over the place.

Q.) (From Rhys Ford – this is a multi-part question) When it comes to world building, do you find inspiration in the writings of H.P. Lovecraft and Jules Verne? Who are some other successful world builders that have inspired you? Have you read the Sebastian St. Cyr books?

I’m a huge HPL fan, as you might have guessed. I read a lot of Jules Verne in high school, along with Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, Charles Dickens (for fun, even—giant nerd!), and some of the other classics. I grew up reading fantasy and science fiction: Barbara Hambly’s lush descriptions in her Windrose books left a permanent mark on me.

I am deeply ashamed to admit I’d never even heard of the Sebastian St. Cyr books before now.

Q.) Are you a plotter or a pantser?

A.) I’m an obsessive plotter. I have a storyboard of every book before I sit down to start on page one. Of course, just as any military plan doesn’t survive contact with the enemy, my novel plans don’t always survive contact with the actual page.

Q.) Since we’re here today celebrating the release of Threshold, Book 2 in the Whyborne & Griffin series, let’s talk a little bit about those characters. What made you decide to place them in a historical rather than contemporary setting?

A.) I’ve always adored history—my first degree was in archaeology—and the idea of setting a story some time in the late 1800s collided with another idea about writing a story with a museum employee as the main character. (This is how most of my stories begin, with two unrelated ideas bumping into each other and sticking.) The era was perfect, because at the time museums still did as much research as universities—more, in some cases—which opened up plenty of opportunities to get my MC into trouble.

Not to mention a lot of people, myself included, find the period fascinating. It’s almost, but not quite, the modern world: there are a lot of familiar elements compared to earlier times, and yet it’s still something of an alien landscape.

Q.) What sorts of research did you do to make sure the feel of the time period, as well as the speech and mannerisms, were as authentic as possible?

A.) I’m a research whore. The reason I set Widdershins specifically in 1897 is because I was able to find a reprint of an 1897 Sears & Roebuck catalog, so I could check the accuracy of everything from Griffin’s “shampoo paste” to what scents cologne came in.

One of the trickiest things about researching this era is that so much information out there is about the Victorian Era in England, rather than the Gilded Age in America. They’re similar enough to trip you up if you aren’t careful; a lot of the things I thought I knew turned out to be right for London and wrong for Massachusetts. And of course I still managed to make some accidental flubs.

However, I hasten to point out this is an alternate universe where people go around raising the dead, summoning creatures from beyond, and all sort of exciting things. Even within this ours-but-not-ours universe, Widdershins is an odd town.

And to be perfectly honest, I consider Whyborne & Griffin series of books to be as much historicals as the Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes movies, or The Mummy, or Indiana Jones. ;) The setting enhances our enjoyment of the show, but we’re there to see fisticuffs, wild chases, things blowing up, and boys kissing (hush—leave me to my Sherlockian fantasies!). My primary goal is to have the reader close the book feeling as if they’ve just lived through a fantastic, romantic adventure.

Q.) Which is the trickier character to write, Whyborne or Griffin? Why?

A.) Griffin, without question. Whyborne’s character and narrative voice came very easily to me, but Griffin, especially at first, was more of a cipher.

I guess it’s only fitting, since Griffin has issues with honesty. Whyborne wants to get through life without anyone noticing him, but if he can’t do that, he’ll quietly put up with all sorts of bullying—but he won’t try to change himself to fit in. When push comes to shove, he’s always chosen to be himself instead of being liked. It hasn’t brought him happiness, but then again, he’s probably less miserable than he would have been if he had given in.

Griffin, on the other hand, wants to hide his real self. He’s constructed this persona of a well-educated guy who is fun and charming, and totally has his shit together. He thinks it will make other people like him. But the mask slowly starts slipping away, and we (and Whyborne) find out that he was in a lunatic asylum, and he’s kind of a manipulative bastard when it suits him, and he has massive trust issues, and he’s really even more of a mess than Whyborne. Which is saying a lot!

So, in keeping with their natures, Whyborne was completely open with me, and Griffin made me keep peeling away layer after layer to figure out his character.

Q.) I simply adore Dr. Christine Putnam, Percival’s friend and colleague. When you created her character, did you intend to make her such a strong and dynamic presence, or did she simply evolve that way as you got to know her?

A.) I really wanted a prominent female character to keep the series from being a total sausage party, so I started looking into women scientists from the era (they did exist!). Given the era, Christine would need a very tenacious personality to get where she has, which in turn made her the perfect foil for Whyborne. They’re superficially opposites: brash and confident vs. quiet and shy, athletic vs. klutzy, explorer vs. recluse, etc. But underneath they have a great deal in common: the quest for knowledge, a general dislike of other people, and a huge mutual respect.

Q.) Can you give us any hints as to what the next Whyborne & Griffin book will be about and when we can expect it?

A.) I’m currently researching late-nineteenth century lunatic asylums. As for when, I currently expect it to be out in December 2013.

Q.) Would you mind sharing an excerpt from the book with us?

Griffin frowned at me. “Surely you can ride, Whyborne.”

“Well…yes. I’ve ridden before.” My childhood friend Leander had loved horses, and insisted I join him on little tours around his estate. Of course, I hadn’t been on one of the beasts in a decade, instead riding in cabs, like a civilized person.

“Then mount up!” Christine exclaimed. She swung easily into the saddle, as if she did such things all the time. No doubt she rode horses and wrangled camels as a matter of course in Egypt.

I stared at the remaining creature. I could barely make it out in the dim light, but I thought it was brown in color, with a white blaze on its forehead. What was more obvious was it was very tall and very large.

“Do you need help adjusting the stirrups?” Griffin offered kindly.

“No! Well, yes.”

Griffin assisted me up onto the towering monster’s back and adjusted the stirrups to fit my long legs, before stepping back with a grin. “Don’t fret, my dear—you’ll be fine.”

I rather doubted it. Griffin swung up onto his mount with the same ease Christine had shown, and I remembered his tales of chasing train robbers and the like across the west. Of course he was an accomplished horseman. No doubt Elliot rode like a cowboy as well.

Griffin’s steed responded to a light touch of his knee and headed away from the livery stable at a brisk walk. Mine followed, more or less by default, as I’d done nothing to encourage it I was aware of.

“Buck up, Whyborne!” Christine called from behind me. “They can sense fear, you know!”

Wonderful. I’d be trampled to death by midnight.

Griffin led the way up along the cleared area, avoiding the bulk of the town. I clung grimly to the reins, every step—trot—whatever—of the horse jarring my spine. As we approached the woods, Griffin glanced back and me and winced. “Try to sit more loosely,” he advised. “You’re bouncing along like a sack of wet laundry. Move with the horse.”

“Oh, yes, why didn’t I think of that?” I muttered under my breath. As for what he even meant to begin with, I hadn’t the slightest notion.

Thunder growled over the mountain, louder now, and my horse let out a worried snort. I rather shared the sentiment. The wind picked up, rattling the trees as they closed around us, and bringing with it the scent of rain. The temperature dropped quickly, the oppressive feeling of the air giving way to something wilder.

I looked about worriedly, but the tossing trees already blocked the scattered lights of Threshold. Cloud rack covered the sky from horizon to horizon now, and our lanterns seemed to be the only points of light in all the world.

Griffin slowed his horse and cast about. “Listen,” he said.

“I don’t hear anything except the wind.”

He nodded. “Exactly. The frogs and whippoorwills have fallen silent.”

My skin crawled, and the horse seemed to agree, snorting and tossing its head, tugging at the reins in my clenched hands. We surely couldn’t have penetrated far into the forest, but in the dark I had no idea which direction would lead us back to Threshold and which deeper into the hollow.

“How much further?” I asked. Surely Mrs. Hicks wouldn’t have journeyed too deep into the countryside, given the dangers lurking in the woods.

“Not very—did you hear that?”

The wind howled down off the mountain, and the trees thrashed, branches rubbing together with obscene moans. But underneath it all, nearer at hand, there came the sound of something moving over the forest floor, snapping twigs and crunching leaves.

Christine pulled her rifle from her shoulder. “There’s something moving in the woods.”

Q.) What other works-in-progress do you have coming up?

A.) I’m hard at work with my SPECTR series: book 3, Reaper of Souls is due out July 2, and I’m currently writing book 4, Eater of Lives, for release in September.

Q.) (Here’s another one from Rhys) Would you LOVE to be able to get into a time machine and travel to the Victorian era, just to see what Bedlam was really like back then?

A.) Having taken field trips to the morgue and crime labs back when I studied forensic anthropology, I probably would. :D

Q.) Will you tell us where we can find you on the internet?

My website:
Be my friend on Facebook!
Or tweet with me!
You can also show Whyborne & Griffin some love on Facebook:

Thanks so much for being here with us today, Jordan. We’ve loved having you here and hope you’ll stop by again soon.


Now let’s talk goodies! Jordan is offering the chance for one lucky reader to win a $5 (US) Gift Card from Amazon. I don’t know about you all, but I’d definitely use it to purchase a certain book. ;-)

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment right here by 11:59pm (Pacific Time) on Saturday, June 8, 2013, and you’ll automatically be entered to win.

The drawing will be held on June 9, 2013 using the random number generator at, and the winner will be contacted for prize delivery. Now, in order to do that, we need you to make sure and leave your Email Address in your comment. Makes it much easier to get in touch. :-)

Thanks so much for participating and best of luck to you all!

Allen Mack, Allison Cassatta, Anyta Sunday, Brandon Shire, Poppy Dennison, Storm Moon Press

What’s Coming Up This Week?

Here’s what Bruce and I have on tap for the week ahead!

Monday – Brandon Shire will be our guest, answering a few questions about his new book Cold, a book that definitely left me wanting more!
Tuesday – Bruce reviews Poppy Dennison’s Soul Magic, book 3 in the Triad series
Wednesday – Allison Cassatta’s Dear Diary will be the featured review of the day
Thursday – Brings a little Lenny For Your Thoughts by Anyta Sunday
FridayDorian’s World, Allen Mack’s foray into futuristic Alt U, is on tap
Saturday – Storm Moon Press will be our guest with a post for the upcoming Dracones anthology

Happy reading and have a fantastic week!

Dreamspinner Press, Jacob Z. Flores

Part Angel, Part Little Devil, And He’s Here With A Giveaway – Please Welcome Jacob Z. Flores!

Our special guest here at The Novel Approach today is none other than Dreamspinner Press author Jacob Z. Flores, who has been hopping around the internet recently to promote his newest novel, The Gifted One. Not only has Jacob agreed to answer a few questions about the book, but he’s also giving one lucky reader the chance to win his/her choice of either an eCopy or a signed print copy of the book. Read on and see how, at the end! :-D

Welcome back, Jacob! Bruce and I couldn’t be happier to have you here visiting today. But let’s talk about you, okay? Will you give readers a brief synopsis of The Gifted One?

First of all, thanks for having me back, Lisa. We had fun the last time, didn’t we? (**YEP!**) Tossing back drinks and flirting with hot guys. Good times. I say, we do that again after the interview. You up for it? (**YEP!!**) I know I am. Haha! :-D

And I’d be happy to give you a synopsis, although I can’t guarantee I’ll be brief. I like to take my time for most things I enjoy doing. The Gifted One is a paranormal romance about a man named Matt who falls in love with his guardian angel, Gabriel. Matt and Gabriel battle demons that want to kill Matt and the angels who want to keep Matt and Gabriel apart. There are some very tender moments between Matt and Gabriel, but there are also some tense, scary moments as well. What better way to get them in each other’s arms, right? Well, there are other ways, but the danger brings them together. Gabriel’s goal is to protect Matt, and in protecting his charge, the two fall in love. I think readers will be pleased to read a love story about such devotion. Plus, there’s some pretty hot scenes that will make reader glad they came.

Q. Angels and Demons are irrevocably intertwined and their mythology, the conflict of the pure and the corrupted, has long held a fascination for people, regardless of religious views. How did you come up with the idea for this story?

A. I totally based the story on me since I’m an angel/demon hybrid. My smile may seem innocent and pure, but the intentions behind it are usually far from wholesome. :-)

In all seriousness though, the idea actually came from a dream I had. No, not a sex dream, Lisa. Although I do have some good ones. This was actually a nightmare. I was in this dark room, and all I could see was a door. Something on the other side was trying to get in. I was trying to keep it out, and I was failing miserably. The door then caught fire and disappeared but before whatever was on the other side could reach me, this bright light turned on behind me. When I turned around to see who brought the light, I woke up. ::(Dear readers, please note that Jacob has never once caught me thinking about his sex dreams. Ha!)::

Naturally, I jotted that sucker down in my dream book. I asked myself questions like: where was I? What was on the other side of the door? Who brought the light?

My answers turned into The Gifted One.

Q. There are several variations of the Seventh Son of the Seventh Son legend, depending upon the country. Did you use any particular bit of folklore as a foundation for your version, or is yours entirely original?

A. Oh my God, there are tons of variations! I didn’t realize how many until I started researching. I felt like I was at a bar in my single days with how many seventh sons I went through! Haha! But to answer your question, despite the research, I went with what I already know—that seventh sons typically have healing hands and are considered blessed, or cursed, depending on how they live their lives. I wanted Matt to represent the best of the best, and I created him with that in mind. He’s been through a whole heck of a lot in his life, and I wanted to portray him as an individual who wouldn’t let his tragedies turn him down a dark road, no matter how hard the demons might try.

Q. Let’s talk about that gorgeous cover for a moment! It must be so difficult to be forced to look at pictures of gorgeous men all the time. :-D Did you have a lot of input in its design?

A. Lisa, words can’t explain how difficult it is. I’ve looked at so many pictures of hot men that I’m sure I’ve developed carpal tunnel. But, hey, I’m willing to suffer for my craft, so bring it on! Luckily, Reese Dante, who did my cover for Dreamspinner, found the perfect image to capture what I was looking for. I wanted the reader to see the two characters in a loving, protective embrace, and I wanted it to be super hot! Reese exceeded all my expectations. I was blown away by what she did. ::I agree, Jacob! It’s really stunning.::

Q. Do you do a lot of plotting and mapping when you get an idea for a book, or are you more of a pantser?

A. I’m pretty anal when it comes to my writing. Well, I guess I’m pretty anal about most things, but I do try to plot out my books. I like to see where the story is going to go, so I create a tentative outline. That way if things change, I can make adjustments to the outline as I go. The story doesn’t always work that way though. Sometimes, the characters have a life of their own, and they tell me where they want to go. When that happens, I go with the flow. I’m easy like that.

Q. What’s the most difficult part of the writing process for you?

A. Writer’s block! I hate when I become creatively constipated. It makes me a bit grumpy. When it strikes, I usually start reading, which tends to get my creative juices flowing. Then, I’m happy Jacob again. I’m the most content when I’m writing so no matter if it’s writing, editing, or revising, I’m typically pretty darn pleased. I just wish I could write even more than I do now, but that darn day job gets in the way. But since my family has grown accustomed to a roof and food, I’ve got to keep plugging away at both.

Q. This is a random question, but one that Rhys Ford made me ask recently (Yes, she challenged by big-girl-pantsiness. I accepted the challenge for the win. Go me!), so I’m going to ask you too. :-D If you were going to come up with the most romantic place in the world to have sex in public, where would it be?

A. Hmmm. Do you want a hypothetical answer or a true story? Haha! Let’s go with hypothetical. That would probably be safer. I think it would be at the Tabacon Spa in Costa Rica. They have a beautiful outdoor spa with luxurious hot springs and a volcano named Arenal rumbling in the background. On a starlit night, you can see the red glare of the lava against the night sky. It’s really quite beautiful. Sigh. I miss Costa Rica. We need to go back.

Q. What makes you laugh?

A. Silly things get me. I like oddball shows like Family Guy and Robot Chicken. I know. I have a weird sense of humor, but I like comedy that is a little weird like me. But being with my family, friends, and loved ones can really get me going too. It doesn’t even have to be something that anyone else finds too terribly funny, but being around the people I truly care for makes me happy. When I’m happy, I laugh. I can’t help it. Maybe that’s one reason I’m always smiling.

Q. I know a lot of authors that write to music, have playlists that fit their plots, do you ever have certain songs in mind when sitting down to write a book?

A. I actually can’t write with music playing because then I’ll start singing. I love music so much that if a song’s on, I start belting it out like I’m auditioning for X-Factor or something. My family finds it terribly annoying. Probably because I sound so much like an angel while I sing. Haha!

Songs do inspire me though. The whole time I wrote The Gifted One the song “Send Me an Angel” by Real Life played through my head. I LOVE that song. Of course, now that I’ve talked about it, I can’t stop singing it. Sing it with me, Lisa! ::OMG! 80s flashback! Let’s all sing along!::

Q. What projects do you have lined up next?

A. A lot actually. Wilde City will be publishing Moral Authority a book I self-published in 2011. It’s gay fiction not gay romance. Think Orwell’s 1984. It’s a dystopian novel and takes place in America of 2050, where homosexuality is a sin and lifestyle legislation rules the land. It’s a darker book, but it’s one that I wrote when I was worried about the future of our country. The book is intended to be the first book of a series and will be coming out in May.

I also have the first book of my Provincetown Series slated for release in August/September of this year from Dreamspinner. The book is titled When Love Takes Over and like the title suggests, love takes two characters who don’t want to fall in love and brings them together. Zach, who is a struggling author suffering from a painful breakup, heads to Provincetown to escape the pain.

He’s a bit of a goof and doesn’t see himself for what he is, which is a pretty good guy, but he heads to the Cape to find himself and well, have a good time. What he finds is Van, a porn star, who loves doing porn. He loves it so much that he’s never happier than when he’s on all four with the camera rolling. Van has no time for love, but love has time for him. When Zach and Van meet, they’re destined to be together. They just have to figure that out for themselves.

Q. Would you care to share an excerpt from The Gifted One with us?

A. I’d love to! The scene I’m sharing is the first time Matt and Gabriel meet. Well, at least, the first time Matt can remember. ;)


The minute his head hit the street, Matt’s breath left his body and stars suddenly rocketed into his field of vision. The world spun around and made him dizzy.

Rain continued to fall around him, splashing his face and getting in his mouth and nose. Each splatter of rain felt more like a slap across the face. Never before had rainfall hurt so much. It reminded him of what he sometimes did to unresponsive patients at the hospital. Gentle smacks to rouse the patient to consciousness.

The sudden sound of a car peeling toward him grabbed his attention. Even though it hurt to move, he turned his head to the left and watched as a black truck barreled down the road toward him.

He needed to get to his feet and get out of the way, but when Matt sat up, the world spun around even faster and he almost lost consciousness. He had a concussion and that meant he was going nowhere without someone to help him up.

Now only a few feet away, the truck continued toward him. Matt knew this was it. His number was up, and it was time for him to meet his maker. He just hoped his death wouldn’t break his grandmother’s heart. She had suffered enough loss in her life already.

Matt braced himself for the impact, but instead of metal slamming into him and tires crushing his bones, a blur of movement darted toward him through the rain. Someone he couldn’t see through his hazy vision lifted him off the pavement, before sidestepping the oncoming vehicle.

A flash of something bright flew from the stranger’s hands and hit the rear tires of the truck. In response, the vehicle skidded and lost control. It spun to the left before lurching forward and careening into the intersection, where an eighteen-wheeler T-boned the truck. The resulting impact caused the truck to split in half with a deafening crunch of metal.

“Good God!” Matt exclaimed as his vision cleared enough to see drivers exiting their cars in an attempt to rescue the man in the truck. It wasn’t until his feet once again touched the ground that he realized he had still been safely cradled in his savior’s arms.

Matt looked up at the man who saved him. When he saw him for the first time, his breath left him for the second time that day.

The man was stunning. His eyes looked like chipped fragments from the heavens. The radiant blue filled Matt full of awe and made him want to soar like a bird on the uplifting currents emanating from the man’s stare. Rivulets of rain fell from his jet-black, short-cropped hair, which matched the stubble that spread across his face. It made him look brooding, serious, and intimidating.

Matt, however, wasn’t fooled. Hidden behind the strong, chiseled face, that most would find unapproachable, he sensed only kindness and compassion. A rough exterior existed, no doubt. His chest was expansive, framed by massive shoulders and muscular arms. Packaged inside a black leather jacket and dark blue denim, he looked tougher than diamond, but Matt instinctively knew he had nothing to fear from this man.

He had risked his life to save him, and Matt knew he would do it again, if necessary.

“How’s your head?” the man asked. His voice sounded like a symphony.

“It hurts,” he replied. Although he forgot the pain for a few moments, the throbbing returned with a vengeance. “Good thing I’m a nurse. I know what to do.”

“I have no doubt.” The man reached up and placed his sizeable hands on each side of Matt’s head. After a few moments, the pain ebbed to a dull ache before disappearing all together.

“The pain’s gone. What did you do?”

“I did nothing,” his savior said before turning to leave as the heavens abruptly shut off the rainstorm.

“Wait a minute. Come back here.”

“Excuse me, sir, but are you okay?”

Matt turned to face a police officer. “I’m fine,” he told the officer. “But I have to go.”

“I’m afraid I can’t allow that. You need to answer some questions. And see a paramedic.” The officer glanced back across the street, where the man’s partner dealt with the accident.

“Listen, Officer Belton,” he said, reading the name on his tag. “I have to go find the man who saved me and thank him.”

Officer Belton’s eyes narrowed in concern. “The man who saved you?”

Matt nodded in reply and turned around only to find his savior had disappeared as suddenly as the rain.

“There wasn’t anyone else here, sir. I was in my patrol car across the street. I saw you fall down and the truck headed toward you. I tried to make it here as fast as I could, but you jumped out of the way at the last second. There was nobody else.”

The serious look on Officer Belton’s face told Matt that the policeman believed he was telling the truth. The problem was that Matt knew it wasn’t.

How was it possible for him to be saved by a man no one else could see?


Q. Where can we find you on the internet?

You can find me at my blog at or become by visiting,!/JacobZFlores, or I’m all over the place, so I love meeting new people. I hope everyone stops on by one of my social media outlets. I promise if you do, you’ll be glad you came.


Thanks very much for being here with us today, Jacob! As always, it was fun! :-)

And now here’s the contest information: Jacob will be giving away a copy of The Gifted One to one lucky fan! If you’re selected to win, you can choose to receive either an eCopy or a signed Print copy of the book!

All you have to do to win is leave a comment here (with email address) by 11:59pm Pacific Time on Monday, April 29, 2013. The winner will be selected via and notified on Tuesday, April, 30th!

Good luck!

K. Lynn, Storm Moon Press

Coffee Break Quickies – It’s Sort Of Like A Nooner, Only… Quicker

The Novel Approach is thrilled to be playing host to author K.Lynn today, a contributor in Storm Moon Press’ new anthology Gay & Lesbian Coffee Break Quickies. Thanks so much for being here with us today, K. Let’s get right down to business.


Tell us a little about yourself.

I’ve been an avid reader and writer since childhood, spending more time at the library than anywhere else. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t coming up with new character adventures, from writing plays and short stories to venturing into novellas and novels.

In college, I increased my involvement in LGBT issues and began writing within the LGBT fiction genre. Most of my work features LGBT characters prominently, many of whom are in established relationships and show how love perseveres through every trial and tribulation that life holds.

I’m also a life-long learner, holding degrees and certificates in the areas of American History, Religion, Creative Writing, Public Health, and Journalism, as well as being a member of Mensa. To me, life is an ongoing adventure, and I seek to learn something new every day.

Storm Moon Press’ Gay & Lesbian Coffee Break Quickies anthology just released April 12th. What is the name of your short story contribution, and what is it about?

My story is called “Personal Assistance” and it’s about Tom, the overworked personal assistant of Mr. Neal Thompson. Tom’s coworkers often pity him for having to work for such a difficult boss, but what they don’t know is that the job also has a few perks and everything is not what it seems.

As an aside, April 12th is also my birthday, so it’s a nice present to have an anthology release on this day!

What theme in your erotic short sets it apart from the rest? Is there something special you put into it that readers should look forward to?

I think a theme that is evident in this story, as well as many of my stories, is that I deal more with established relationships than first times. I like the draw of having two people who have already gone through awkwardness of meeting and getting to know one another. Now they’re set, committed to one another, and trying to make it work for the long-term. In this particular story, there’s also the element of office power dynamics and thriving for equality in the relationship both at work and at home.

Do you have your own coffee break fantasy from a menial job? What about that secret flame for a co-worker? Any work-related tidbits from your life you can share in celebration of your book release?

Ah, if only my company were bigger, this would be relevant. Instead, I have to fantasize about imaginary companies and their employees to live out the dream. I can tell you one thing: at no point in my career has an under-the-desk blowjob taken place… that I know of.

What’s television show comes up most at your water cooler conversations?

My office is so small that we don’t really engage in “water cooler conversations”. It’s sad, but at least I have the Internet to fulfill my fannish needs. And what’s at the top of my list? Supernatural of course! I love those Winchester boys.

Where can readers find you?

If you want to find out the latest about my releases, my works-in-progress, etc. then you can stop by my website I’m also on Twitter @writerklynn (though my alter ego is more active). I’m always up for engaging in conversations, so drop me a tweet or an email.

Thanks for stopping by!

Gay & Lesbian Coffee Break Quickies – Now available from Storm Moon Press for $3.99 (ebook)

Ah, the allure of the office romance. The sly smiles across the room as you wonder if anyone else knows. The danger of being caught by the boss. The thrill of those stolen moments in the copy room or supply closet. It’s this feeling that we’ve condensed, distilled, and captured in the short shorts of Gay & Lesbian Coffee Break Quickies. We’ve compiled thirteen brief tales of men and women getting it on with a co-worker or a boss in a steamy office romance.

Some of them are established and have been sneaking around the office for some time, like Lori Hunt and her P.A. Ms. Lovell in She’s the Boss or Tom and Neal in Personal Assistance. Others, like The New Guy‘s Greg and Eli or the awkwardly-named Rebecca A. and Rebecca B. from Tele-Romance are just beginning to experience the allure that can come from keeping the secret. Nor are such trysts confined to the office itself, spilling out into stairwells, copy rooms, gyms, and even computer server rooms. Whatever the case, though, they’re sure to arouse your imagination, and maybe even leave you looking at your own co-workers a little bit… differently.

Gay & Lesbian Coffee Break Quickies includes:
Skype Wars by Rob Rosen
Hands On by K. Piet
One Week by L. Alonso Corona
Working Lunch by Ann Anderson
Personal Assistance by K. Lynn
She’s the Boss by Angel Propps
The New Guy by John Amory
Stair Walking by Harper Bliss
1-800-BOREDOM by Raven de Hart
Fair Play by Anna Hedley
His Nonexistent Coffee Break by Lor Rose
Tele-Romance by Erik Moore
Three Strikes by Piper Vaughn


Thanks so much for taking the time to be here with us today, K. It was a pleasure having you. :)

Hayden Thorne, Queerteen Press

Hayden Thorne Won’t Make You Climb A Beanstalk To Find This Treasure

We’re so thrilled to have author Hayden Thorne as our guest today, and we hope you’ll help welcome her. :)

Hayden has a new book that released on April 14, 2013, from Queerteen Press, called Gold in the Clouds, a project she’s here to tell us a bit more about, as well as offering an excerpt from the novel AND giving one lucky reader the chance to win an eCopy of the book! Read on to see how to enter to win.


Q. When did you start writing creatively, and who was your greatest literary influence?

A. I started out writing cartoon strips with my younger sister. We used to deface our family encyclopedias by doodling in the margins, which, obviously, didn’t go down very well with our parents. But we got blank notebooks and filled those up with crazy stories and weird characters. I remember writing a comic strip about a family that got stranded on Easter Island. That was long, long before I knew that Easter Island wasn’t a Robinson Crusoe type of place.

I didn’t pick up the pen again till around 2000, when I got sucked into the Gundam Wing fandom. Eventually I messed around with Kaze to Ki no Uta, literary slash, and then original fiction, mostly short. It wasn’t until around 2006 when I started publishing short stories for anthologies (adult, by the way). I got tapped by the editors of Prizm Books to contribute material for their new LGBT Young Adult imprint, and things snowballed from there.

My greatest literary influence is Charles Dickens. His books were one of my first forays into classic literature in high school alongside Victor Hugo, and I adored – still adore – his works. His books were instrumental in broadening my horizons from J.R.R. Tolkien to some pretty heavy stuff, and I’ve absorbed what I could of his characterization. I think that element right there is what inspired me the most. He’s not a perfect writer and is the worst when it comes to the use of coincidence in plots, but his characters are incredible. I’ve always wanted to write teenagers (and even adults as side characters) who stand out in some way or other and leave some kind of impression in readers’ minds.

Q. What was the first of your books to be published?

A. It was a group thing, so to speak. Prizm Books opened their doors with Icarus in Flight, Banshee, and Masks: Rise of Heroes. Those books plus additional titles from other authors.

Q. If someone had never read your work before but was getting ready to dive in, what’s the one thing you’d want them to know before they purchased one of your books?

A. Hmm. That I’m no romance writer, even in YA. I remember having some readers react in shock at realizing that Desmond and Garrick weren’t going to get together because their names are front and center in the series’ title. But my main point is friendship developing between two completely disparate characters. I prefer to focus on other relationships involving gay kids in my stories, and I really enjoy exploring families and friends as opposed to love interests. Romance is always secondary to whatever the main conflict is.

I’m also not a writer of contemporary issues faced by gay teens. When I do write about them, it’s always removed from the real world, i.e., I love playing with metaphors and symbols. By and large, I want to write gay kids as individuals who’re much more than their sexual orientation. I prefer to write them no differently from the way I’d write about straight kids. My fairy tales, especially the novels, don’t even make a big deal about homosexuality unless a side character decides to twist it for a reason.

Q. You’ve often said you write in a very niche segment of the LGBT YA market. How do you come up with the ideas for your books, especially for those like The Twilight Gods and Renfred’s Masquerade which, to this day, are two of my all-time favorites?

A. The “preferred genre” for LGBT YA fiction remains contemporary coming-out novels or issues-based novels. You’ll see a lot of those books being published by the larger, more mainstream presses, with occasional fantasy fiction mixed in. And there’s a good reason for that, of course. LGBT kids will always need them, no matter what generation we’re looking at. But at the same time, the even smaller market for genre fiction for LGBT teens is slowly growing, thanks to small, independent presses who aren’t afraid of taking chances. Those books have yet to win over the majority of gatekeepers in the LGBT YA world, but they’re holding steady, and I don’t see them going away at any time soon. As far as the importance of speculative fiction for LGBT teens is concerned, it’s just as needed as coming-out novels; if we want to help these kids find their courage to be who they are, why can’t we write about them in every genre out there?

I tend to find inspiration in art: music, visual arts, literature. The Twilight Gods was inspired by a Native American folktale and is in fact a retelling of the story. When I first read the folktale, I saw so many connections between the imagery of death, the skeletons, and the marriage with the more negative beliefs that too many of us still have regarding homosexuality. But music tends to have a stronger influence on my writing. Renfred’s Masquerade was inspired by Offenbach’s “Barcarolle” in the sense that when I listened to the piece, a number of images and, again, connections came to mind. A masquerade, for sure, was one of them. The context of Offenbach’s piece also made me think of reality vs. fantasy because the aria is sung by a doll, with whom a man falls in love and believes to be real. Plus I couldn’t help but picture two people in a boat or gondola leaving—but it wasn’t a happy image.

Classical music to me is the best source of story inspiration. Each piece works on my imagination in ways that are different from another, but overall, it’s the emotions roused by these pieces that I zero in on and use to influence the way the plot unravels. Strong emotions tend to give rise to images, which can lead to something more, etc. I recently blogged about Carl Orff’s “Gassenhauer” and how it’s helping me sort through my difficulties with a story I’ve been having trouble with. The piece is very short, very light, and very playful—a child’s song, almost. But it’s helped me work out some kinks in a story that I had to set aside for the time being because the emotions affected by it really fit the tone of the story, which is very whimsical.

Q. You have a new book just released from QueerTeen Press called Gold in the Clouds. Would you tell us a little bit about the story, where you found the inspiration for it, and perhaps share an excerpt with us?

A. Gold in the Clouds is “Jack and the Beanstalk” as witnessed by Jack’s gay best friend, Blythe Midwinter. It’s a fantasy and a comedy along the same lines as Rose and Spindle, but it’s snarkier. The novel’s conflict revolves around Blythe’s self-worth and the constant struggle in him regarding wealth and luck because he’s poor, and he’s tired of being poor. It doesn’t help him any that, on one hand, his best friend happens to be a lazy little bugger and prefers to wait for Lady Luck to shower him with gold and so on, and on the other hand, his sister keeps rubbing his nose into the value of honest, hard work despite their poverty.

Inspiration for this story came a long time ago. I was toying with the idea of writing a picaresque series involving two gay kids (boyfriends, to be brief) who run away and try to find how they fit in a number of fairy tale plots, and one of them was “Jack and the Beanstalk”. I pictured them both standing around the chopped-up beanstalk and staring at it forlornly, wondering why they couldn’t be a part of the adventure. My rationale behind the series is like a satirical stab at different fairy tales—especially those princess ones—and how cool it would be to have LGBT kids be a part of those adventures. Or maybe even create their own or add an unexpected turn of events to one that’s already existing.

The series idea died pretty quickly, but I liked the idea of telling familiar fairy tales from the point-of-view of side characters who didn’t exist in the original stories. So Rose and Spindle and Gold in the Clouds came about, but for the next one, I’d like to go back and write an original fairy tale.

* * * * *

(excerpt from Chapter 2)

The sound of rumbling carriage wheels broke through the lovely calm, and Blythe looked up to watch a handsome private coach being pulled by an even handsomer team of horses along the dirt road on the other side of the river. The liveried driver sat straight and proud, his nose high even as he guided the gleaming horses with skill and confidence.

“I’d love to have one of those,” Jack said in breathless tones.

“You’ll have to work for it.”

“I know. It’s not fair, I tell you.”

Blythe followed the coach’s progress till it vanished behind some trees and dense shrubbery. “I suppose you can always gamble for it.”

“I don’t have any money to gamble with, you oaf.”

Blythe tried not to roll his eyes again. “Sell something, then. One of your cows, for one thing.”

“Mama and I only have one cow,” Jack retorted. “I don’t think she’ll take to selling it. I mean, where will we get our milk?”

“Then find a job, you lazy dog!”

Jack let out a noise that sounded suspiciously like a fart, and he stumbled to his feet, brushing grass and dirt off his ragged trousers. “Dear God, you sound like Mama. Worse, you sound like a wife. I’m going home.”

Blythe shook his head as he watched Jack yawn and stretch his long, bony arms, twisting his torso and cracking his back when he did.

“A wife,” Blythe said. “That’s what you need, Jack. A wife. Preferably a rich one.”

Jack made a face and lightly slapped the top of Blythe’s head with an open hand. “Don’t be stupid. I’ll never marry. I’d rather go off on grand adventures and come back rich.”

“If so, then you’ll have dozens of girls running after you and your money.”

“Ha! They’ll never get a penny from me!”

Blythe grinned as he threw another stone in the river. “I doubt if your mama will be too happy about that. I’m sure she’ll be demanding grandchildren from you someday.”

“Bah! I’ll be the one bringing home the gold, not her! If she wants to stay on my good side, she’ll keep her nose out of my business and let me have my way!”

A sudden movement just off to the right side of the road across from them caught Blythe’s attention, and he cackled as he gave Jack’s leg a sharp slap.

“Speaking of staying on one’s good side, it looks like you haven’t gotten that far with your mama.”

A plump, red-faced woman walked into view, her ragged gown and smock as well as her bonnet caked with road dust. On one hand she held a particularly large rolling pin, and from what Jack had told him, it was never used for baking.

“Jack Wicket!” she hollered, turning her head left and right. “Where are you, you no good lout?”

Jack stuck two fingers into his mouth and whistled—a shrill siren that always set Blythe’s teeth on edge and send nearby dogs howling. Mrs. Wicket stopped dead and caught sight of the boys, and if her face was red then, it turned nearly black upon clapping eyes on her son.

“Jack! What the devil are you doing? Get your lazy, bony arse back home right this instant if you value your worthless hide!” she screeched, waving her rolling pin wildly in the air. “Didn’t I tell you to chop wood? Didn’t I? You’ve had all this time, and you never bothered to do one simple thing?”

For his part, Jack looked to be taking it all in stride. He stood silently for a moment, allowing his hysterical mother to unburden herself so passionately and convincingly, before turning and saluting Blythe.

“I’ll be dreaming of riches while she thrashes me,” he said and then strode off, hands in tattered pockets, and sang a vulgar drinking song. As to where and how he’d learned it, Blythe couldn’t even begin to guess.

* * * * *

Q. I love to ask this question because I get so many different answers: if you could sit down to dinner with anyone, past or present, first of all, whom would it be, and second, what’s the one question you’d be dying to ask?

A. I’d love to sit down with John Keats and ask him how he came up with such gorgeous, gorgeous poetry. I’ll probably be too emotional to hear what he’d say, though, and will likely end the conversation blubbing over how lovely he is and how sorry I am that we never get to see him write more glorious verses till his old age.

Q. Do you have a favorite fictional character? If so, whom and why?

A. I don’t, sorry. There are just way too many great, memorable characters I’ve read that no one really stands out.

Q. Of all the characters you yourself have created, do you have a favorite, and same as above, whom and why?

A. I’d say Eric Plath from the Masks series. That boy’s my free personal therapist. He’s got the confidence and especially the balls to do things that would get me locked up in a convent if I even attempted any of them. He’s everything I’m not, both as an adult and when I was a teenager, and it’s incredibly liberating, writing him in so many adventures—especially when he shoots his mouth off and tries to sass his way out of an argument with his parents and ends up getting grounded or punished for it.

Q. Along the same lines: if you were to choose your favorite among all the books you’ve written, what would it be and why?

A. I’d say Renfred’s Masquerade (a really tough choice between that and Desmond and Garrick). It’s the novel that comes the closest to the kind of book I’d love to be known for as a writer of speculative LGBT YA fiction. It’s an original fairy tale that makes use of the setting as part of the characters, so to speak, and the fantasy elements really played themselves out as well as I’d hoped. I really enjoyed the writing process, too, especially the masquerade scenes, and I even put together a playlist over at YouTube to listen to while working on the rough draft. It’s also the first book I wrote where I didn’t ease up on the darker or more tragic elements and was able to tie things neatly together at the end without making the conclusion implausible or, worse, laughable. I managed to do something similar with The Glass Minstrel, but Renfred’s Masquerade unfolded more smoothly and less tentatively compared to the other book. If anything, how the book ended is inevitable; there really was no other way for Gustav, Constanza, and Jacopo’s story to conclude, and while I was tempted to do something along the lines of a deus ex machina, I held back and let logic dictate the final events. I suppose I could sum things up by saying that this was the first book where I went all out with my imagination and didn’t regret a single decision I made.

Q. How involved are you in the process of coming up with just the right cover art for your books?

A. Very involved. I usually start looking for images to use when I’m almost done with my rough draft. I collect as many links as possible and share those with my publisher. Sometimes we decide which image would work best with the book, and sometimes I decide which one and send my preferred image instead of a collection of links. My publisher takes care of acquiring the image and tweaking the graphics. If you’ve noticed, all books published by Queerteen Press don’t have boys on their covers; that’s my preference. I don’t like having people on my book covers and would rather work with the story’s theme. I find that I have a lot more freedom choosing images that way, and readers’ mental images of my characters aren’t already fixed before they start reading.

Q. How would you describe your sense of humor? What makes you laugh?

A. I think my sense of humor is dry /deadpan, and I’ve got my dad to thank for it. The man had some pretty powerful genes because every one of us has that sense of humor; my mom was the only killjoy in my family.

My favorite comedy series of all time is Blackadder, and that series pretty much encapsulates what I consider to be the best kind of comic writing on TV. Wee caveat: I don’t care much for Blackadder I save for “The Queen of Spain’s Beard” because the humor comes across as a bit strained. I think the writing vastly improved from Series II and onward.

Q. Do you have any other works-in-progress you’d like to share a few details about?

A. I’m currently expanding a novelette I’ve already contracted with Queerteen Press called “The Weeping Willow”. It’s an original fairy tale that started out pretty light and whimsical—rather sentimental, even, but we’re changing that, aren’t we?—that was also supposed to be a part of a new single author anthology. Unfortunately things didn’t pan out with that project, so it’s been shelved for now, and I’m given the green light to work on “The Weeping Willow” some more.

It’s going to turn into a gothic folktale with a lot of supernatural elements worked into the main plot. There’s really not much more to say at the moment since I’m practically starting over with the story, but I’ll definitely be sharing more with readers as I go along over at my blog.

Q. Where can readers find you on the internet?

A. My wee corner of the web is over at


**And now, on to the contest!

All you need to do to enter to win a copy of Gold in the Clouds is leave a comment for Hayden right here. Please remember to include your email address so we know how to contact you for delivery of the eBook. This contest will run through 11:59pm Pacific Time on Friday, April 19, 2013.

A single winner will be selected via and notified on Saturday, April 20, 2013 for prize delivery.

Thanks so much for participating, and good luck!**

Alex Kidwell, Dreamspinner Press

Sex? In Public? Go See Where Alex Kidwell Says He’d Do It… (How’s that for a catchy title?)

Today’s guest at The Novel Approach is Alex Kidwell, author of the utterly sublime After the End, which, if you haven’t read it yet, is a novel you ought to very much consider adding to your TBR and placing it right at the top. Just don’t forget the box of tissues you’ll need to get through it. :-P

So, go pour yourselves a cuppa, or whatever it is you like to drink, and help me welcome Alex to the show. :-D

Q.) How long have you been writing creatively, and is there one particular person you’d credit for fostering your love of storytelling?

A.) I’m actually a relative newcomer to creative writing. I’ve always made up stories, and my love of books means I’ve developed quite the daydreaming habit, but when I was younger I took most of my creativity out in theatre. I wrote plays and monologues through high school and college, but somewhere in the back of my mind I always wanted to write a book. About eight years ago, I tried my first short story. I still remember sitting there, tentatively poking out words, making my roommate read every sentence. It was nerve-wracking, it was terrifying, and I got hooked immediately.

I have somewhere in a hidden part of my hard drive my very first novel. It’s terrible and should never see the light of day, but it’s finished, and doing that proved to me that I could do it. It took me another six years before I tried again, but when Robin and I had the crazy idea to start Blood Howl, just knowing that I’d written something that long before and managed to complete it was huge.

There’s not one specific person, I think, who really pushed me into writing. More like a series of people – my dad, who gave me A Little Princess one Christmas, which is still my most cherished book, and who constantly was encouraging me to read new and different things; two friends that happened into my life and pushed me to try something terrifying and dare to be geeky and proud in my writing; Robin, who constantly makes me step up my game and who is a source of boundless inspiration – who have set up different stages of my road to becoming an author.

As for people I don’t know personally, much to my constant sorrow, I point to four writers as my biggest heroes – J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis who filled out my childhood with stories and places that formed my imagination, Madeline L’Engle who captured my adolescent angst for something more, and Rob Thurman, who was my inspiration to attempt to write professionally.

Q.) If I’m not mistaken, this is your first solo novel (without partner Robin Saxon). What made you decide to venture out on your own with Quinn and Brady’s story?

A.) The short answer is boredom.

Robin lives in Australia much of the time while I’m in the States. Visas are hard to come by for same-sex partners, so mostly we’re fourteen to sixteen hours separated. We write when we can together, but there would be large blocks of time when we’d be on our own, and we decided that we’d each try to write our own novels in our spare time. So Robin came up with The Royal Road, and I sat down to write After the End. It was honestly the scariest, hardest thing I’ve ever done, but what started out as a kind of experiment and a way to pass the time turned into characters I love and a story I am extremely proud of.

Q.) Speaking of After the End, tell us about the writing process for this book, because I don’t mind admitting I was sobbing before the end of Chapter One. How did the idea of writing a novel about death and grief and the whole process of recovery come to you? And please, be honest, how emotionally draining was it on you?

A.) The idea of After the End was to distill the emotion of grief and write a very simple, very pure story about the stages of it. It came from missing Robin one night and honestly feeling like I couldn’t move for how deeply I ached with that. We’re simply separated by distance; I started to wonder how someone could handle something more permanent, and the idea of writing through that developed from there.

When I write, I start always with the characters. Quinn came to me first, the idea of someone who’d had the love of his life, who had already had his happy ending, how do you go on from there? Actually, the original idea was to do a short story and Brady didn’t exist at all. It was just going to be Quinn dealing with his grief. But as I started to play around with Quinn’s character, I realized that I was writing a fairy tale; the flip side of one, where the happily ever after happened and then ended. Quinn was frozen, unable to force his way out of his own coffin. In order to really tell that story, I needed to find the person who would help him thaw. And so came the character of Brady. I always wanted to explore the idea of someone who had loved so completely figuring out how to live when that love was gone, and I felt, in the end, that having Brady there to support Quinn through his recovery – a recovery that happened not for Brady, or because of him, but that was helped by his presence – allowed for hope and for the promise that eventually you can live with your grief.

I’m an emotional writer. If I don’t feel the story or the characters, I can’t continue. Needless to say, writing After the End meant I was very involved in the emotions that were happening. It was draining, yes, for sure. I think that writing a good story always is, in some ways. But this book felt personal for me; I wanted the readers to walk side by side with Quinn through his grief, through the numbness and the haunting agony of loss, and then come out the other side with a sense of hope.

Q.) When writing the book, did you find it difficult to strike a balance with Quinn, to keep his dark from becoming too dark?

A.) I think the character himself is really what keeps it from veering into totally dark. I mean, here’s a guy who has lost the biggest thing in his life, and he’s still pushing forward. His coping methods aren’t that great, and he’s shut down a lot of himself, but he’s trying, and I think that’s huge. We open the book with hope and we follow Quinn as he learns to accept that. I don’t know, I just loved writing him because while he might not be emotionally healthy, he’s at least trying to figure out how to get there. He’s so sad and so lost, and I think his question is really a universal, poignant one – how do you say you loved someone when you’re trying to move on.

Q.) Aaron Paterson is such a larger-than-life, tangible influence in the story, yet he never spends a single moment on the page. Did you purposely set out to make him such a forceful presence in the book, or did he simply turn out that way as the story evolved?

A.) The one thing I knew from the start was that I wanted people to fall in love with Aaron. For Quinn, Aaron was not the lesser choice. He wasn’t someone he settled with for ten years. He was the absolute, hands down love of Quinn’s life. They were happy, they were fulfilled, and losing him absolutely destroyed Quinn.

If Aaron hadn’t been that important, or if Quinn hadn’t really been that in love, then the moving on part wouldn’t have been as heartbreaking for Quinn. It was incredibly important to me that we could feel how much Aaron and Quinn had been in love, and that they be a couple you would root for in any other circumstance. Their love story is the central theme of the book, really.

Q.) Brady Banner is, hands down, one of the most romantic characters I’ve ever read. What’s the most romantic gesture you’ve ever made?

A.) I really would say I’m not that romantic of a person. The interesting thing to me about Brady is that I never intended him to be overly romantic, either. I do think he’s like Robin in the sense that both of their love languages are in actions. How people express love is often how they believe love should be shown, and so I think Brady’s actions, in this book, definitely speak for how he’s feeling, even when he doesn’t say the words.

Q.) Do you foresee there could be a sequel to After the End? Not that I’m pressuring you or anything. Unless begging would help, in which case, I am indeed begging and/or groveling. ;-)

A.) Actually, just the other day I sat down and mapped out the plot of the sequel! I wasn’t sure if I was going to. I felt like After the End was a fairly complete story and I didn’t want to tack something on that wouldn’t have the same emotional weight. But I can say now that I have found a plot I’m very excited about; we’re going to get the next part of their story from Brady’s perspective and I’m really looking forward to writing it.

Q.) Of all the characters you’ve created, do you have one who’s your absolute favorite? If so, whom and why?

A.) Oh, man, good question. While I love all my characters equally, I will admit to a special kind of pleasure that comes from writing Jed Walker from the Sanguis Noctis series. He’s this great mix of foul mouth badass and vulnerable good guy that I really enjoy. The things we have planned for him in the future are really going to stretch him way beyond his comfort zone, which is where I love him most.

Q.) Are you a plotter or a pantser?

A.) Totally depends. With Robin, we are hard core plotters. We have plotting documents that would rival novellas in length. For After the End, I had nothing written down. My current projects vary – the one that was just submitted had a few paragraphs, the one I’m in the middle of has a few pages. I’m unfortunately not very consistent with my process, but once I find what each story needs I get into my groove for that book.

Q.) What makes you laugh?

A.) Robin. Honestly, no matter how bad of a mood I’m in, no matter how much I don’t want to laugh, Robin can always make me.

Q.) If you could sit down to dinner with one famous person, past or present, fictional or not, whom would that be, and why?

A.) I am actually terrible at questions like this, because in a real life situation with someone I like or admire, I wouldn’t be chatty or brilliant or witty. I’d more than likely sit there with a big dumb grin on my face or fall down or burn myself on the soup. But I’d love to sit there and listen to J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis while they down pints and discuss theology and philosophy and the nature of fiction. I’d never be able to say a word, but I think that would be something magical.

(Lemme ‘splain, people, that the next three questions were submitted by Rhys Ford, and one of them made me blush so I wasn’t going to ask it, but then she told me to put on my big girl panties and ask anyway. Oh yes. The gauntlet was thrown and I accepted her challenge, and dear Alex had this to say: “I am an open book, my dear, and no question is too naughty.” :-P So, here with go…

Q.) If you were on death row and were down to your last meal, what would you order?

A.) Something that counteracts poison. (Hah.) Seriously, though, probably a turkey dinner. I’m a big fan of simple, homey meals, as my cooking skills are sadly lacking (I think the Food Network is a magic show). Turkey, my mom’s cranberry orange relish, which is my favorite food ever, stuffing, gravy, potatoes, and a peach pie for dessert. I’d just nap through my execution.

Q.) Where’s the most romantic place you can imagine having sex in public, without that pesky risk of worrying about being caught? ::blushes::

A.) I think half the point of having sex in public is that thrill of possible discovery. But if I got my choice, I am a huge fan of the idea of being under my partner’s desk, slowly teasing them with my tongue, completely undoing them while they’re having to pretend nothing at all is going on. ::Oh myyyyyy:: :-D

Q.) What’s your favorite swear word, and why?

A.) Fuck. God, I love the word fuck. I was never allowed to curse as a kid and I think I overcompensate now – I have a mouth like a salty sailor.

Q.) Do you have any Works-In-Progress you’d like to share a bit about?

A.) I have a few that I’m really excited about. The first one is Bloodlines, which is the third book in Robin’s and my Sanguis Noctis series. In it, we’re delving hardcore into the lore of that world. Jed and Redford are getting tangled up in a brewing war, we’re introducing new characters, and we’re really exploring this idea of wolves within the supernatural community. In it, Jed and Redford are having some growing pains, which is both fun and heartbreaking to write. The book is basically about family – what it means to be born into one and what it means to choose your own – and I have to admit, it’s my favorite one so far.

I just submitted a solo novel called Gumption & Gumshoes. It’s extremely lighthearted, which is a nice change, and I had a blast writing it. It’s the story of August, an overweight underachiever who gets to pursue his dream of being a detective like in the film noir movies he loves so much. Oh, and he’s also a chinchilla shifter.

Sam is a gruff, bitter divorcee who is also the landlord for August’s detective agency. Together, they fight crime! (**ETA: Gumption & Gumshoes is scheduled for publication with Dreamspinner Press in August/September 2013!**)

What I’m working on now alone is The Women in the Water. It’s a murder mystery that, I hope, will be an homage to the likes of Agathe Christie. It’s set around an isolated lake town with a serial killer on the loose, two characters who alternate between suspicion of each other and outright dislike, and a snowstorm that traps them all. It’s a very different type of thing than I normally write and I’m finding it to be a very thrilling challenge.

And then there’s Happily After, which is the sequel to After the End. I won’t give away too much, but as I said, it will be from Brady’s perspective as he and Quinn start to make a life together. There will be heartbreak for them, of course, but I really hope to be able to capture the hope and love they have together as well.

Q.) Will you share an excerpt from After the End with us?

A.) Here’s a snippet from Brady and Quinn’s first real date. They’ve gone to the movies and are now off to get a piece of the infamous peach pie:

“Pie?” Brady asked, tugging my hand lightly. “Come on, I know this great diner. The coffee is strong enough to hold up a spoon.”

“Sounds like my kind of place.” Our steps matched as we wound our way through the evening crowd. “So, this is kind of embarrassing, but other than the fact you’re a party planner who hates overly fussy cocktails and enjoys fried cheese—”

“Which, by the way, is what makes America great,” he interjected with an impish grin.

I huffed out a laugh and nudged his shoulder with my own. “Fine. Besides the fact you’re a good American cheese-loving man, I don’t know much about you.”

He opened the door for me, a bell chiming lightly to announce our entrance. There were tables scattered around a long counter, the clank of dishes and hum of quiet conversation, and the delicious aroma of coffee. We got seated, and I ordered the promised peach pie, Brady adding a scoop of ice cream to his order.

“Well,” Brady said, sprawled out on his side of the booth, looking good in his tight black sweater. Not that he wasn’t perfectly aware of how he looked. His deep brown eyes crinkled at the corners as he smiled at me, and he drummed his fingers on the back of his seat. “I’m a middle child. I went to school for biology for three semesters before I realized I couldn’t stand it, dropped out, and started working catering.”

“Wait.” A smile curled up my lips. “You were a science geek?”

“A very handsome science geek,” Brady shot back, poking a finger at me with a haughty look that only lasted through the beginnings of his laugh. Rubbing a hand through his hair, he shrugged. “I like knowing what makes people work. But now I use that knowledge for creating beautiful moments instead of cutting open frogs.”

Our coffee and pie came out and I dug into the sweet fruit. As promised, Brady reached over to steal my crust. I batted at his fork with mine, but he triumphed, grinning. I didn’t mind at all.
“How about you? Tracy mentioned something about a store?”

Shifting a bit, I fussed with my coffee, adding cream, keeping my eyes down. “Uh, yeah. I own a comic book store.”

People had different reactions to that. Mostly, I got laughed at. Yes, the grown man still spent his days talking about comic books. And Brady did laugh, yeah, but it wasn’t an unkind sound.
“Really? That’s kind of adorable.”

My eyes lifted to find him smiling at me. Something tight lifted in my stomach, a soaring kind of lurch, and I fiddled with my fork. “Adorable?” I murmured, quirking up an eyebrow.

“Yeah.” His hand stole across the table to find mine, that smile still doing weird flippy things in my chest. “Cool. Adorable. Kind of awesome. Take your pick of adjectives.”

“You really shouldn’t be this sweet,” I managed, kind of abruptly, though maybe it just felt that way because my cheeks were all red and I was barely able to keep from stuttering. “I just…. You’re the first person I’ve done this with in a really long time. And Aaron….”

And Aaron. Wasn’t that always the coda in everything? The start and the end and the fucking middle. And Aaron. Only there wasn’t any and anymore.


Q.) Thanks so much for that, Alex! Where can we find you on the internet?

A.) I am all things and everywhere. The internet is in my blood.

Robin and I have a website:

I’m on facebook:

Occasionally I tweet @KiddingAlex

And Robin and I are on Tumblr, where we reblog incredibly geeky things and give anonymous love to strangers as saxonandkidwell

We are both really friendly and I hardly ever bite, so if you’d like to drop me a line about books or writing or how amazing Doctor Who, Sherlock, or Hannibal are (seriously, we are huge geeks), I am always up for a chat.

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer all these nosy questions, Alex! It’s been a pleasure having you here and getting to know you a bit better. :)

And thank you! I had a wonderful time answering these.

Dreamspinner Press, Rhys Ford

The Most Interesting Kitteh In The World – She Doesn’t Always Speak, But When She Does, It’s To Rhys Ford

In honor of the forthcoming third installment in the Cole McGinnis Mysteries series, Dirty Laundry, (Due April 19, 2013 from Dreamspinner Press), Neko Kim has finally broken her silence, agreeing to sit down with Rhys for an exclusive, and one time only, interview in which she reveals much about why she is the queen of all kittehs. Enjoy!


nekoHaving already interviewed Bobby and Jae, I turned my sights onto the most silent of personalities in Cole McGinnis’ world, Neko Kim. I met up with Neko in the spacious living room of McGinnis’ home. The meet was going to be in secret and in some ways, experimental as the technology to interpret a cat’s thoughts is iffy at best. Armed with a translator I’d been given by the owner of Hellsinger Investigations, a nearly too pretty man with laughing dark eyes.

I sat down on the couch and turned the device on, listening to it crackle and beep as it cycled through its software load.

It looked remarkably like a Walkman CD player with a few gewgaws stuck into it and a plug for a small speaker but I was assured it would work for about half an hour at the most. I was going to have to make it fast. To my knowledge, no one else has done this kind of thing before and well, let’s face it, holding a cat’s undivided attention for thirty minutes is more of a miracle than getting one to talk to you through some jimmied together Babylon device.

I didn’t have to wait long. Neko joined me within five minutes of my entering the house. Of course the small plastic container of sardines I’d brought with me and left open on the apothecary chest by the couches probably had something to do with that too.

Turning on my borrowed electronics, I settled in to the questioning, trying to ignore the soft growling sounds of the tiny furry despot crouching over her sardine kill as she ate. After a few mouthfuls, her wide yellow eyes narrowed slightly and she reached over with one paw to tap the flat casing of the translator. She wasn’t stupid. She knew exactly why I’d come.

I’d have to make it very quick. There was only so much sardines and a cat has very little patience.

I have several questions for you, I said. I wasn’t going to make it pretty. No thanking her for being here. It was going to be a swift kill on my part. On hers, probably more of a toying with the mouse but I was hoping for some real answers. Showing her my list of questions, I read them off to her, going down the list. I could tell she followed along. Her eyes were rapt on the page and the puff of her long tail swished back and forth over the edge of the chest.

These three are all similar. If you could assassinate Cole, how would you do it? Where is the best vantage point in Cole’s house to make an assassination on him? Where’d you hide the bodies?

The voice that came from the device was surprisingly smooth. I guess I was expecting something more mechanical. Instead, she sounded like Lauren Bacall waiting to hear me whistle.

Cole? Ah, Big Minion. Why would I kill him? He brings me food. If I were to kill one of them, it would be Loud Barking Laugh Man. He is a nuisance. He does not watch where he puts his feet and he sometimes has bags of clothes that are very smelly. Big Minion puts his smelly things into the washing machine. He buries his smell. I am fine with that. It shows I am dominant. I do not bury my scent. It is there for all to encounter when they go into the small washing room. First Minion cleans it for me. Twice a day. I don’t like getting waste between my toes.

2119480448_6ec3ee0284So tell me Neko, how do you REALLY feel about Cole?

Big Minion is… one of my humans. One does not feel anything other than favour towards minions. They know their place and respect it. He also dug me out of the fallen building. I reward him graciously by spreading my scent and fur over him so all may know he is mine. What more does he need?

What is the best way to piss off your humans?

I do not think of ways to anger my humans. I punish them at times when they are bad. For instance, once I was fed something that did not agree with my stomach. Since First Minion fed it to me, I chose to punish Big Minion in turn. A human feels punishment more keenly when it happens to their other rather than them. Guilt is a motivator.

Which of your pets do you like the most? Cole or Jae?

There are different reasons to like each. I don’t play favourites. Big Minion suffers more to be around me therefore I must show him affection in marking him or his clothes more. He should not go out without having my scent on him. First Minion is my first. He is better trained, however.

Do your humans deserve you? ;-)

No human deserves a cat. We are here for their souls to reach a level of consciousness so they may one day come back as a cat. If you deserved a cat, you would be a cat.

Total destruction of the bed: What do have to say about your silly humans, and what do you think of the new bed Neko?

591-304r_sleigh_bedThe new bed is more comfortable and it does not squeak. The last one squeaked. It kept me up sometimes because I thought there was a rodent. It was very annoying.

Are you planning world domination? Who gets to live, and who do you take down first?

We already have world domination. Have you not seen the internet? Do you now know how many dollars you spend on us a year to keep us happy. And while there are those humans who are cruel to our kind, they are repaid in shunning. There is nothing a human hates more than to be cut off from its pack. They are like tiny little chickens, huddling together.

Do you ever want to just hump Bobby’s leg?

I believe that question might be meant for a dog. I do not hump anything. And which one is Bobby? Oh! Loud Barking Laugh Man. No, but I have peed in his smelly bag. I aimed for his gun but I believe I got his shoes instead.

You’re smarter than Cole and Jae. Do you ever want to bitch-slap them?

Of course I’m smarter than they are. I am a cat. No, unlike other cats, I do not believe in mauling my minions. A quick nip once in a while to guide them, yes that is suitable but the true carnage some cats wreck upon their humans is so déclassé. A withering look is usually enough to set them straight. If not, then I find sleep deprivation works wonders. After a few nights of howling, they are more than willing to see the error of their ways.

What icky thing does Cole do when he thinks no one is watching?

He brings the Loud Barking Laugh man into my house. How much more icky can that get? The others that come in are fine. Nuna Minion is nice and so is Funny Walking Woman. Round Mother is very sweet. She always gives me treats. Hedgehog Head I do not mind. He means nothing to me. I like the new one. Skin Pictures Man. He has fish on his arm. That bodes well for him. He might make it to minion status one day. He knows cats. He gives good belly rubs.

It is funny to you when Cole and Jae have sex?

I don’t watch them do that. It’s odd. I’ve tried explaining to Big Minion that it’s better if he learns to bite the neck to hold onto First Minion but he does not listen. I have stopped talking to them about it. One can only teach the stupid so much before it starts feeling like I am screaming at a rock.

il_fullxfull.379302100_j9zoDoes Cole talk to you as a friend when Jae is away, telling you things he would like to know, telling you how he feels and his plans?

Big Minion talks to me when I require it. Sometimes he makes little noises and pets me. That’s suitable too. Mostly he feeds me. And leaves the curtains open so I do not have to tear them down to get the sunbeams in the house. Other than that, I don’t pay much attention to what he is saying. Sometimes he sings. He’s not very good at it. He’s always in human pitch.

Tell us the truth, Neko, when Cole’s not around you curl up in his t-shirts, right? The brush off you give him is all an act so he doesn’t know your secret that you love him as much as Jae. Right or wrong?

I curl up with him all the time. I make his eyes itch. It reminds him of his place and in turn, reminds First Minion that he suffers through it because he loves me. It is a true sign of devotion. All should be so submissive.

One cannot show a minion too much affection or they will take you for granted and start doing horrible things like putting antlers on you when it is time to bring your piney smelly tree in at the end of the year. Or worse, crocheted hats. They then take pictures hoping to blackmail you into behaving or perhaps even humiliate you by putting it on the internet. I do not believe this helps them in their quest to become cats. This also does not bode well for their souls.

When was the moment you first knew you could trust Cole with Jae??

When he came to get me and took up the mantle of being my minion. I knew when I saw his face in the dust that First Minion sent him to care for me. I trust First Minion, for all I berate him. Big Minion is an exemplary minion. It is nice to have two of them. It is easier to get two helpings of food that way.

A small thread of smoke burst up from the former CD player and it groaned woefully. Mere seconds later, something in it popped and I scrambled to find something to beat out the flames coming out of its entry ports. Sacrificing one of Jae’s dish towels, I tamped out the small disaster as Neko continued to eat, unperturbed by the potential fur-singeing catastrophe mere inches from her tail. Yawning, she haughtily graced me with one final look, burped as delicately as a wide-mouthed demon cat could and bounced off, leaving a trail of sardine-flavoured miasma behind her.

Cole rushed from the kitchen with a bottle of water but the damage was already done. The device was a smoking slag of plastic and the cat was long gone.

“Was that thing expensive? Because if it was, hope you had a warranty or something. It went all Pinto on you.” McGinnis cracked open the water and I used it to quench my thirst rather than ruin the chest by dumping water all over the certainly deceased translator. “Looks kinda… well like something a robot puked up.”

I gingerly picked up the translator’s carcass. The pretty man who’d given it to me warned me it wouldn’t last long. I’d been lucky it captured as much as it had. Shaking my head, I answered McGinnis, mourning the loss of the machine but at the same time, aware there were mysteries — such as hearing a cat’s words — that were best left unknown.

“It’s definitely dead, Jim.”

“Yeah, well be glad it was the red shirt and not you. With that cat, anything’s possible.” Cole snorted and patted my shoulder. “So, you staying for dinner? How does a deep dish Chicago style pizza sound? ‘Cause if you say yes, I can guilt Jae into saying it’s for a guest and he won’t bitch about the lack of veggies.”

*Interview posted with permission from Rhys Ford

Rhys Ford

Are You A Fan Of The “Dirty” Series?

Yeah, me too! So here’s the scoop. Rhys Ford has generously offered to let me ask Neko a few questions. Whether she’ll deign to answer them is another question entirely, but you know, who has a better insight into Cole and Jae’s relationship than the four-legged, furry brains of the operation? :-D

If you have any questions you’d love to ask her about the Misters McGinnis and Kim, leave a comment on this post, or Click Here and leave your comment on Rhys’ blog.

And don’t be shy, please. I’m going to ask her how she feels about that whole bed destruction business. :-D