Author Archives: lsylvestre

Easter Eggs: a post by Anne Barwell—*Family and Reflection* blog tour

It is my true pleasure to host Anne Barwell today, as she stops on her tour celebrating the upcoming release of Family and Reflection, book 3 of the popular Sleepless City series, available for pre-order now at the Dreamspinner Press Store. Read on to find out what the heck Easter eggs have to do with books. 🙂 (Also, the blurb, buy links, an excerpt, and a few facts of interest about Anne Barwell.)

Thanks, Lou, for hosting me today.

Something that sneaks into most, if not all of my books, is an easter egg reference. I’m not referring to the chocolate goodies associated with the Easter Bunny, but intertexual references to other books I’ve written. My stories take place in the same universe, so occasionally a character or place from another series has a cameo in the one I’m writing.

A couple of characters from The Sleepless City— a series which is a joint project with Elizabeth Noble— have turned up in other books but so far, only a couple of readers have picked up on it. Often the cameo isn’t something I planned from the outset, but sometimes it’s deliberate either because I’m setting up for something I haven’t written yet, or I need a character in a certain place or time, and I figure as I have an existing one who is there already, why create another? One character—I’m not saying who as that would give too much away—had a blink and you’d miss it cameo in my WW2 book Winter Duet, and a much bigger than I intended one in my WW1 novella, On Wings of Song. Another has turned up in my current WIP One Word, so it will be fun seeing if anyone notices her when things get that far.

On the flip side, there’s also a reference in Family and Reflection to another story I’ve written. It is a very small one, but the clue is that I don’t reuse character names. If you think, “isn’t that the same name as so-and-so in such-and-such a story?” then it probably is the same person.

That’s one cool thing about writing characters who are vampires. There’s a lot of history to play with…

Family and Reflection
Book 3 of The Sleepless City, Sequel to Electric Candle

For as long as Lucas Coate can remember, werewolves have been taught to mistrust vampires. Lucas is an exception—he has close friends who are vampires. The werewolf pack in Flint—and their leader, Jacob Coate—have made it clear that Lucas’s association with vampires is barely tolerated, and another transgression will be his last. When Lucas finds out about the plague of werewolf deaths in the area, he wants to help even though his own life may already be in danger.

Declan has been away from Flint for ten years, but he isn’t surprised to learn that the internal politics of the Supernatural Council haven’t changed for the better. When a series of burglaries hit close to home soon after he arrives, Declan—a vampire and professional thief—is their prime suspect, although for once, he isn’t responsible. With the council keeping secrets, no one is safe. Time is running out, and for Lucas and Declan, everything is about to change.


Buy links:
eBook: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6464
Paperback: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6465


Excerpt:

Declan turned the page of his book, read the first paragraph, then shook his head. He wasn’t sure why he’d bothered, as he couldn’t for the life of him remember what had happened on the previous page, let alone in the last few chapters. He closed the book with a thump, got up from the table, went over to the fridge, and opened it.

He wasn’t hungry, but if he had been, the mold-covered plate on one of the shelves would have put him off whatever else had taken his fancy. Someone really needed to have a word with Lucas about leaving his science experiments to breed. Declan lifted the plate somewhat cautiously and sniffed it, then wished he hadn’t. City coroner or not, this wasn’t… normal. Normal people cleaned out their leftovers before they got the chance to become strange new life forms.

Even if, in this case, his definition of normal was a werewolf.

But, despite his reaction, Declan couldn’t bring himself to throw the—whatever it was—away. To him it was disgusting, but to Lucas it might be some new discovery crucial to whatever he was currently working on. And Declan didn’t want to upset Lucas. In the short time they’d known each other, he’d become quite fond of Lucas, and enjoyed the time they spent together.

Declan sighed. He returned the offending thing to its previous resting place, ignoring the visions of reanimated zombie leftovers creeping up the stairs to attack him in the middle of the night, and instead got a wineglass out of the cupboard. He poured himself a decent-sized portion of his favorite red beverage and settled back down on the chair he’d recently vacated. As much as he enjoyed a good vintage wine, there were times when one had to quench one’s other thirsts. He sniffed the glass and savored the aroma before swallowing.

Hmm, not bad. It was amazing the standard of blood available to purchase through the right sources. It made it so much easier to feed than it used to be, and less messy too.

He heard the light step on the stairs and human heartbeat long before Ben reached the kitchen and stood awkwardly in the doorway.

“Hello, Ben,” Declan said. “Don’t worry, you’re not disturbing me.”

“If you’re sure?” Ben Leyton ran one hand through his thick dark hair. He looked tired. “I couldn’t sleep, so I thought I’d make a Milo and see if that helps.”

“I heard Simon having a nightmare earlier. He never did sleep well on anniversaries.” He’d known Simon Hawthorne a long time; Jonas Forge had introduced them shortly after Simon had been turned. Declan had also helped Simon through a dark part of his life, triggered by the events he suspected had prompted this particular nightmare, given the time of year. “I also don’t mind if you turn on the light.”

Although Declan didn’t need much light to see, especially with the full moon casting its glow into the room, Ben would appreciate more illumination.

“Yeah, well, they’re the worst times for most people, I guess.” Ben flicked on the light switch before walking across the kitchen. He filled the kettle and put it on to boil before reaching into the cupboard and bringing down a green can. “Do you want some? It’s a chocolate drink.”

“Thank you but no.” Declan indicated the glass in front of him.

The loud howl almost made him jump, and only years of practiced self-control stopped him. Even so, Declan’s hairs stood on end on the back of his neck, and the howl sent a shiver through him.

Lucas howled again. Frustration, anger, and loss all rolled into a sound that was pure wolf.

Declan knocked his glass over, spilling its contents. Without thinking, he moved at vampire speed, catching what was left of the blood in his palm and drinking deeply.

The glass fell to the floor, smashing into tiny pieces. He ignored it and finished the blood, then wiped the back of his hand across his mouth. A low growl escaped his lips. He knew his eyes were completely green. They tended to do that when his fangs extended.

When he looked up, Ben was staring at him, his eyes wide. “I’ll clean up the mess, shall I?” Ben said hurriedly, already heading for the broom.

“Don’t worry,” Declan said. “I’ll do it. Make your chocolate drink, mon ami. It’s my mess, so my responsibility, yes?”

Bio:
Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with two cats who are convinced that the house is run to suit them; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date it appears as though the cats may be winning.

In 2008 she completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra.

She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth.

Anne’s books have twice received honorable mentions and twice reached the finals in the Rainbow Awards.

Blog: http://anne-barwell.livejournal.com/
Website: http://annebarwell.wordpress.com/
Coffee Unicorns: http://coffeeunicorns.wordpress.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/anne.barwell.1
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/115084832208481414034/posts
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4862410.Anne_Barwell
Dreamspinner Press Author Page:
http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/AuthorArcade/anne-barwell

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Filed under Dreamspinner Press, featured authors, just a category, M/M romance, Upcoming release, Writers on writing

If you entered the contest in my last post, you may be interested in a couple more chances to enter. Visit my post at Love Bytes reviews, and while you’re there, you can read a sexy excerpt from A Shot of J&B and take a look at a sexy guy enjoying his night. Here’s the link: http://goo.gl/X9do4k. 🙂

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by | March 8, 2015 · 1:16 pm

An excerpt from A Shot of J&B (Sonny James’ timely advice to Brian!) And a contest…

rope spider 7b93b2305e712e8ea61a8ecbe732fc88Oh, hello. I just remembered I have a blog here…
Not really of course, but I’ve neglected it for far too long. So to celebrate my return I’m offering an excerpt from my book coming out on March 16th, A Shot of J&B, and a chance to win something a little strange. I’ll tell you about that at the end.

For now, let’s start with this: You can preorder the book at Dreamspinner, and save 20%, simply by keying in this discount code: ASHOTOFJB. You can get there by clicking this link: http://goo.gl/K6Dj2d. This book starts a new series, Vasquez Security, the Next Generation, and as you might have guessed I’ve spun it off the Vasquez and James series. The main sweeties in this one? Jackie and Brian (J&B).

You may have already seen the fabulous cover Reese Dante created for this book, but if you haven’t here it is! Cover, A Shot of J&B artist Reese Dante, author Lou Sylvre

And, also in case you haven’t seen it yet, the Blurb:

Six years ago, Brian Harrison helped save the life of Jackie Vasquez, and he’s never really forgotten him. After the rescue, Brian ended his employment with Jackie’s uncle Luki and left the US for England, aiming to distance himself from the confused feelings—not lust, but not brotherly—that then sixteen-year-old Jackie engendered. Now Jackie has become a man, and when they meet again by chance, lust with a dose of D/s rope kink is definitely on the list of possibilities. As they get to know each other, though, lust shows every sign of growing into love, deep and true.

When Jackie moves to London for graduate studies in criminal psychology, he and Brian hope they’ll be able to enjoy each other’s frequent company. But they haven’t factored in the claim Brian’s police job with Scotland Yard will make on his time, especially when the “Gaslighter crimes” sap investigative resources. An abandoned aide dog named Soldier leads to a breakthrough clue, and a chain of discoveries fall like dominoes. As Brian rushes to beat the criminal’s game before it escalates to true terror, he comes to an undeniable conclusion: Jackie Vasquez, the man he loves, is in mortal danger.

Now, the excerpt. A little scene setting, it’s December 26th, and Brian is visiting Luki and Sonny while in the States for the holidays, and just by chance, Jackie is there. (They haven’t seen each other for close to six years.)

Their meal finished, they all bussed dishes, then Brian helped Sonny stow leftovers.-Follow_the_Oldtimers_Advice.-_-_NARA_-_514272

“Don’t think I don’t see what’s going on,” Sonny said, with no preamble.
Brian actually felt himself start to blush, but he clamped down on his emotions and played it cool. He hoped. “What?”

“He’s a wonderful guy. And he’s all grown-up, now.”
Brian said nothing, wrestling with some unruly plastic wrap more viciously than necessary.

“Jackie, I mean,” Sonny clarified, though he obviously was aware Brian knew.

After stowing the covered dish in the fridge, Brian stepped back, put his hands in his pockets, and decided not to even try to be coy. “I know, Sonny. And you’re right—I can’t help but be conscious of him when I’m in the same room. It’s the same feeling I had when we first met, that we have some connection we don’t know about. Only now, he’s obviously… an adult. So there’s another… dimension to it. I… I don’t know,” he finished, aware that it sounded lame.

“I don’t know, either, Brian,” Sonny said, wearing an easygoing, practical look that Brian recognized. “But that’s just it. You never know. I know you have your club, and that meets your needs for now. But maybe keep an open mind?”

Brian worked up the nerve to ask his question—one he really needed the answer to, but was afraid of what it might be. “Um. Well, Sonny. My kink.”man in ropes d8e0a1031980e0c32cc36016182755db

When Brian paused, Sonny inserted, “Yes, control. Domination. On the lighter side, though, if I’m not mistaken. Ropes, maybe?”

Brian chuckled. “Damn, Sonny! How do you do that? Yes, that’s it exactly.”

“And you’re worried.”

“Yeah!” Brian huffed out a somewhat frustrated breath. “I mean, I know Jackie… I remember what he wrote in his e-mails, and things. And…. Well, frankly, I have enough experience to know a sub when I see one, usually. But….” He stopped, trying to compose his thoughts, so he could speak them clearly. “He’s been hurt, right?”

He waited, but this time Sonny didn’t rescue him from the need to express himself, only glanced at him, gave him a quick nod, then returned to wiping down the counter.

Brian sighed, then struck out into dangerous territory. “He interests me, and honestly I think I interest him. But I’m afraid that if we were to get together, it wouldn’t be good for him—he might be hurt. I don’t want to be part of that.”

“I’m glad to hear that, Brian.” Sonny hung up the dishtowel, then leaned back on the counter.

“But not surprised. You’re a good man, I think. Do you want advice?”

“Please,” Brian answered.

Sonny scratched at his chin thoughtfully. “I’m not really in the habit of giving it, but okay. First, don’t put the cart before the horse. Foresight is good, but why worry about something that doesn’t quite look to be happening yet?”

“Right,” Brian said, feeling a bit foolish.

“There’s no reason to feel foolish—it’s good that you care enough to think about these things. I’ll give you a little information: Jackie has come a long way since sixteen. He’s worked very hard to understand himself and put the things that happened to him in some kind of context. He’s strong and bright, and yes—adult. Anything more is for him to tell you, if he wants. So I suggest you talk to him, and maybe listen to him. If something develops between you, trust him to know what he wants, and trust yourself, too.”

Brian smiled. “Thanks,” he said quietly, because he knew what Sonny said was not only right, but should have been obvious.

Sonny slapped him on the shoulder in a friendly manner, and said, “I hear Luki calling the dog for his walk. We should all go, get outside while it’s not raining.”

And the contest: comment on this blog post, and you’re in the running. What’s the prize? Heh. I’ll name a character after you, or put your dog, cat, or bird in my next book in this series (Your choice.) Any takers?

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Filed under A Shot of J&B, Contests, M/M romance, Vasquez Security TNG

Inkslinger’s dinner menu is up until 1/6–and here’s all the links!

Just a quick note: Still time to enter my personal giveaway (scroll down to the next post), and the group giveaway (3 $35 GCs)! You have until 1/6 to make the circuit. Here’s all the links:

images-11Appetizers:

Lynn Lorenz

Morticia Knight

K.A. Mitchell

Clare London

Stormy Glenn

 

Soups:

Lou Harper

Alex Beecroft

Lou Sylvre

Posy Roberts

Elin Gregory

 

images-12

Salads:

Ava March

Poppy Dennison

Lee Rowan

 

 

 

Main Dishes:

Rhys Ford

ZA Maxfield

LE Franks

KC Burn

Anne Tenino

EM Lynley

 

expsi48339_WTHE1872343A10_30_4bDesserts:

Amy Lane

Christopher Koehler

Belinda McBride

Jamie Samms

EM Lynley

 

 

 

 

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by | January 3, 2015 · 5:16 pm

Inkslingers’ NYE dinner buffet–bloghop style! Read, drink, be merry, win prizes!

Inkslingers NYe Dinner Menu FINAL (1)
Hey everybody, welcome to Inkslingers’ M/M author progressive New Year’s Eve 2014 dinner buffet.

I know, what does slinging ink have to do with cooking, right?

Nothing, but nevertheless, as a group of authors (who write dirty, sexy, queer books) we’re staging this event for the fun of it and for the opportunity of awarding some pretty decent prizes.
Inkslingers facebook banner

Here’s the way it works:

You can “choose your own dinner adventure” from appetizers, soup, salad, main dish and dessert, but those of you who visit and comment at each and every blog will be entered into a drawing for one of three (3) $35.00 gift cards to the venue of your choice: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or All Romance Ebooks.

Plus, some individual authors might include a private drawing for those people who stop by. (A comment on this post, for instance, earns you a chance to win any Vasquez and James e-book.)

So read, drink and be merry! Happy New Year from all of us, at the M/M Writers’ Buffet!

For full blog links visit http://zammaxfield.com/new-years-eve-progressive-dinner/.

Now down to the business of cooking:

My cooking theme these days is simple, light, and tasty, and all the more so for New Year’s Eve, and my soup choice is dead on. This recipe comes from Fitness magazine online, “12 Simple Soup Recipes,” and it’s one of the few recipes I don’t alter at all when cooking. It’s not going to break the bank, require a foot-long shopping list, or keep you busy for hours chopping stirring. And, it uses up the extra can of pumpkin that always seems to remain in my pantry after the holidays! Most importantly: it tastes righteous. (Nomnomnomnom…)

Pumpkin Soup
Ingredients:

  • 2 slices of bacon
  • 1 can of pumpkin
  • 3-1/2 c. chicken broth (low sodium works well here, and vegetable broth is a veggie alternative)
  • 1 c. applesauce (the more apple-y the better, and if you feel like working a bit harder chop up a half cup of apple (peeled) and sauté it with your bacon)
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • salt and fresh ground pepper
  • sour cream (the recipe says light, but… I can’t do it)

pumpkin soup from fitness magazine
Putting it together:
Saute the bacon (with apple if desired), drain fat. Add (to the bacon, not the fat, heh)the pumpkin, broth, applesauce, ginger, salt and pepper, bring to boil, simmer for a little while (non-specific, I know). Garnish with sour cream. (Easy-peasy, right?)

I like to have a little sparkling apple cider to complement this, but if you’re a lush… er, person who drinks wine, you might like something light and white, a tad fruity. 

Thanks for stopping by! See you at the next stop. Have a good time, and don’t forget, comment here for a chance at an e-book, and visit all the blogs for the $35 gift card (x3) giveaway.
VJ 6 cover banner
logo web (smaller) jpg

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Filed under blog hop, Contests, Inkslingers, Vasquez & James

Five shinies for Anne Barwell’s On Wings of Song! (Release day review)

Five luminous stars to Anne Barwell’s On Wings of Song. This novella is not a story of hot love or love at first sight, but rather a tale of the tenacity of a first spark between souls. Here Barwell’s prose style pleases as always, but it’s her ability to ferret out the secrets of the heart that shines above all.

Many of us already know the author has a gift for finding the human truth in historical times and events, and especially for seeing past the walls that veterans of war often—of necessity—build around their hearts. In On Wings of Song, her time-travelling pen (or keyboard, perhaps) takes the reader back to one of the most remarkable verifiable events of modern warfare—the Christmas Truce of 1914. Entrenched soldiers of Germany, France, England, and Scotland (the later three allied) in a number of places along a battlefront that already foretold the later horrors of WWI came together across narrow strips of no-mans-land to celebrate together a few hours of peace.

When German soldier Jochen Weber and Englishman Aiden Foster meet that under that extraordinary circumstance, it isn’t football or cards that help them overcome the initial awkwardness of the exchange, but a mutual love of literature and Aiden’s exceptional musical voice. Before they part, they (like others) exchange uniform buttons as pocket mementos, and each hopes for a someday when in a more lasting peace they may see one another again. The remaining years of war leave both men scarred, and life after war holds new challenges and little time or place for true healing. Both men retreat into the silence in which those who survive years of the worst of human cruelty often cloak their hearts—how can anyone who wasn’t there truly understand? Yet a spark of hope lives Jochen and Aiden’s hearts, sharing space with memory of the “enemy” whom they befriended on dark Christmas on a battlefield.

Barwell’s careful, sparsely adorned prose gives the reader an inside look at the redemption of truly broken hearts when long-sheltered sparks meld into flame. The fire burns painfully until it warms and comforts. This is not a long, arduous read, rather a brief but revealing journey into the heart of these two men, Jochen and Aiden, who come to love despite time, distance, and irreparable loss.

I heartily recommend On Wings of Song to those who love men, who love men who love men, and who treasure stories that paint the darkness with light and life.

Here is the buy link: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5869

It’s 25% off at the moment, so now is a good time to snap it up. Or if you feel lucky, Anne will be chatting at the Dreamspinner Goodreads “forum thingy” on 12/28/14 from 4-6 EST, and there will be a giveaway. Win or not, it promises to be a great conversation!

If you want a little more info, here’s the blurb:

Six years after meeting British soldier Aiden Foster during the Christmas Truce of 1914, Jochen Weber still finds himself thinking about Aiden, their shared conversation about literature, and Aiden’s beautiful singing voice. A visit to London gives Jochen the opportunity to search for Aiden, but he’s shocked at what he finds.

The uniform button Jochen gave him is the only thing Aiden has left of the past he’s lost. The war and its aftermath ripped everything away from him, including his family and his music. When Jochen reappears in his life, Aiden enjoys their growing friendship but knows he has nothing to offer. Not anymore.

And here’s Anne’s bio:

Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with two cats who are convinced that the house is run to suit them; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date it appears as though the cats may be winning.

In 2008 she completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher and a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra.

She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth.

Visit Anne at her blog: http://anne-barwell.livejournal.com or her website: http://annebarwell.wordpress.com/. You can contact her at anne0@xtra.co.nz.

Happy reading!

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A Healthy Dose of Sex-positivity

spbhbanner-3
This blog post is late in coming, but for this hop, I think late is far better than never. I’m relatively newly acquainted with the term “sex-positive.” I’d heard it first a couple years ago when I was doing some web research on kink, and linked to the Center for Sex Positivity in Seattle, just up the road 50 miles or so from my home. I thought, wow, that sounds adventurous.

Sadly, I’m not.

Or at least I haven’t been, but I’ve come to understand that I would like to be. And I think it’s a sex-positive attitude that makes me comfortable with that. Why wouldn’t I be comfortable with an adventurous sex-life? Well, no auto-biography here but understand, my childhood unfolded in a strict home in the socially restrictive 1950s and early 60s. And I’m female. And I’m bisexual. Here’s what Susie Bright said about her youth:

“When I was young, I was hurt by political ringmasters who said they wouldn’t talk, fuck or work with me because I was “bisexual.” Now that I’ve talked, worked, and fucked with them all, I know their secret. They desire what they condemn.”

She’s undoubtedly right about a whole lot of dishonest people, but for purposes of this post, they don’t matter. What is inspiring me is the realization of what I lost as a product of a sex-negative culture—a youth and prime where even my best sex had a background tape, saying, “It’s not for you, Lou. She (or sometimes he and once or twice they) are the ones that count.” And even though I never condemned myself for my sexuality, I didn’t quite accept it either. the-sex-positive-umbrella When I was in a relationship with a woman, I felt compelled to erase the part of me that has sexual feelings for some men, and vice-versa, and so forth.

That attitude toward myself has changed over the last few years, and that is my further inspiration for participating in this hop—my still-rather-knew acceptance of the sex I have explored (which actually might be seen as adventurous by some of my peers), which is a direct result of beginning to think sex-positive.

So, yay for me, right. Life’s more fun now that I’m happy to be exactly who I am sexually, and it opens the way for me to like the rest of me too. It does get better, right?

But what if I hadn’t been told that if I had sex of any kind I was making myself “a dirty rag for anyone to wipe their hands on”? Yes, that’s a quote from a sermon preached more than four decades ago, and I still remember who I was sitting by, the perfume smells, what I was wearing, and exactly what I felt. Panic! Doom! Gut-punched. Choked. Hopeless. And yes, dirty.

Many of the messages I received were much like that, overt. But the unspoken ones are just as damaging to a young heart and mind, and those are the ones that our children and teens continue to receive more often than not in school, at home, and in religious settings. And then we confuse them with sex advertising every possible product.

What if we stopped the negativity and moved toward positive messages that embrace the truth that sexuality is part of who we are? What if we let sexuality mature in our youth naturally? What if we educated them about sex in an honest way appropriate to their ability to understand at each level of mental growth? That means tell them the truth about what happens, why it happens, what (true) dangers there are, and how to make their best decisions about sex and safety?

Love comes from accepting ourselves first and foremost, because only then can we know how precious and abundant and endlessly multiplying that gift is. If we teach our youth that it’s good for them to learn about their own sexuality—and make no mistake, the particulars of our sexualities are as unique to us as the particulars of our minds—they just might accept themselves more easily and fully, and my, what a wonderful world it could be then!

A moment of fear-monger myth-busting:

1) Educating young people honestly does not encourage them to have sex. It’s not giving them a green light; it can be viewed as giving them a caution light. If we’ve done the job well, they’ll know what to think about, and are much better equipped to keep from getting blind-sided in the cross-traffic..

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2) Sex-positivity is about embracing all the snowflake individuality of human sexuality, with safety and clear consent.

3) Sex-positive parents, believe it or not, do not have sexual contact with their children! Period. If you might want to know what it does mean to be a sex-positive parent, I found a great Huffington Post article here, by a woman who is living it.

That’s my two pennies’ worth for today. Thanks for reading, and be sure to follow the blog hop and read all the posts! You can find a whole list of blog links at Grace Duncan’s blog.

Oh, and if you’re interested in knowing more about Seattle’s Center for Sex Positivity, here’s a link.

Right, almost forgot. Comment, 1 meaningful word or more, and your name’s in the hat for a copy of Loving Luki Vasquez, a positively sexy read and a story of real love.

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Gay Romance University 601—Once you have your scientist, keep him happy… and alive! (Course lessons drawn from Shadowboxing, first book in Anne Barwell’s Echoes series)

Please take your seats people, we want to get started…. What’s that? Boxer shorts? Certainly they’re allowed…. Yes, sir, briefs, certainly. Sure, speedos are not only allowed but encouraged. Be comfortable, but do pay attention in class.

Even though Kristopher Lehrer’s last name means ‘teacher,’ as we examine the early pages of our textbook, Anne Barwell’s novel Shadowboxing, it is Kristopher who is most in need of schooling. Oh, he is a learned man, it’s true—a physicist working on an important, possibly world-altering project. Unfortunately Very Important Projects often become the clouds where a scientist’s head is most comfortable. Kristopher’s attitude, as the novel opens, is reminiscent of the fearless forward motion of a horse with blinders.

To illustrate, consider this: Kristopher’s friend—the man that could have been his first true love if Kristopher had been honest—is Jewish, and in World War II Germany the yellow Star of David he must wear means that he is in danger every time he steps out in public. And, though David is a respected physician, he can no longer practice medicine for the same reason. Yet when Kristopher meets him for coffee he has no clue why his friend is upset, or scared. Read along in your text (or look over your neighbor’s shoulder if you haven’t yet picked up your text). We look at what happens with David challenges Kristopher’s naivety, beginning on page eight.

“Have you any idea what kind of people you are working for?” David spoke quietly, as always, but there was an underlying tone of fear in his voice that Kristopher didn’t remember hearing before. David’s emotions were always controlled; it was something that Kristopher had envied. “Have you any idea of their real agenda?”

Kristopher snatched his hand away, trying to ignore how fast his heart was beating. Why had David come to him? Surely he couldn’t have presumed to use the closeness they’d once had to further whatever agenda he had? “I’m a scientist, David, trying to make the world a better place, just as you are. We are working for the advancement of science and for the good of the Fatherland.” The last sentence came out sounding like the mantra it was. Any doubts that Kristopher had were always dealt with efficiently when he repeated those words. While he knew the potential danger of the device they were working on, the chances of anyone considering utilizing the catastrophic component of it were remote.

“You always were naïve, Lehrer.” David raked a hand through his hair and replaced his glasses, adjusting them when they slipped down his nose. “Wake up and take a look at what’s going on around you before it’s too late.” An edge of desperation and fear sharpened his voice as he lowered it to almost a whisper; it sounded as though he was talking about the end of the world.

“Too late? Too late for what?” His earlier fears of being used vanished at David’s tone. Kristopher’s voice rose in pitch, all attempts of hiding his conflicting emotions lost as he tried to desperately work through his rapidly escalating confusion.

David shook his head, unwilling to say more, his eyes darting nervously around the small Kaffeehaus before his gaze settled on the man who had entered several minutes earlier. “I have to go. I’ve said too much already.”

“Wait!” David was already halfway out the door before the word was out of Kristopher’s mouth. He pushed his chair back, ready to follow his friend, then hesitated, suddenly unsure as to what had just happened.

A week later, dining at home with his sister Clara (whom he loves and depends on) and his father (with whom he has a strained relationship), he is shocked to hear that David has disappeared, and clueless as to why such a thing had happened. What’s more, he is just as dumbfounded when Clara says (on page 11)…

“Poor Kristopher.” Clara rolled her eyes. “You’re so involved in your work that you haven’t noticed what’s going on around you.” There was no teasing in her voice now. Whatever this was about, it was something very serious. “It’s because he’s Jewish, of course.”

… as he is when his father says…

“They are Jewish, Kristopher. What other reason is needed? Better that they are rounded up and sent somewhere more suited for their place in the scheme of things. We must not lose sight of the fact that the Jews are nothing more than parasites interested in taking control of the economy for themselves.”

We, the readers can take our first lesson from this, and the downhill spiral of father-son relations that follow. Please take this down in your notebooks. It will be on the test:German_Experimental_Pile_-_Haigerloch_-_April_1945

The longer you keep your head stuck in the clouds of denial (about anything, really), the more it hurts to pull it out.

Our next unit of study follows Kristopher as he goes about his work the next day. The clouds around his head have been disturbed, but not quite dislodged. Feeling cranky and a little wooly due to a poor night’s sleep, he enters his boss’s office when the boss is out, and rather clumsily knocks a pile of papers on the floor, and reads this sentence on one of them:

Cue ominous music.

We look forward to putting these plans into reality. Such a device will ensure the continued success of the Fatherland during this war against our enemies.

Kristopher’s head falls from the clouds with a mighty thud, which hurts and can’t be ignored even by a dreamy physicist.

Gott im himmel, as my very German mother would have said. Here Kristopher had been, believing he was working on nuclear fission for peaceful purposes, and suddenly he realized he’d been living in a lollipop world.

For a number of minutes, our scientist is unable to think straight. He knows what he saw, but he’s unsure of what he might do about it, or even how to keep from getting in trouble for standing in his boss’s office with his pants down (figuratively of course, because that would be far too weird).

But a guard comes along, Obergefreiter (Sargent) Schmitz, and helps him organize his brain and move his body, thank goodness. Of course, at first, Kristoffer is afraid that Schmitz will actually contribute to his danger, but he soon realizes he was lucky the Obergefrieter came along. He leaves the office that day still waffling about what to do. Like most ordinary Germans of the day, he loves his country and has some significant blind spots about it—a phenomenon not unknown at any age of the world in just about any country, including all of those where readers of this blog might be living today. But you don’t become a leading physicist if you are slow-witted. Once Kristopher’s sight is forcibly cleared, he cannot escape the truth about the leaders of the Nazi regime and what their intentions are.

After much soul-searching, presumably some hand-wringing, and a few horrid nightmares, Kristopher Lehrer confronts his boss… and is told in no uncertain way to mind his own business. The encounter goes from bad to worse. (You can read about this in home study, chapter three of the text.) When he is discovered in the room with his dead boss by the same Obergefreiter Schmitz, he figures his number is up.

Thank heaven for pleasant surprises, large and small. When Schmitz asks Kristopher if, as smart as he is, he can come up with no better plan than to threaten the guard with broken glass, here’s what happens (at the beginning of chapter four).

“My plan? […] I don’t have a plan. […] Do you honestly think I would be standing here waving a piece of broken glass if I had a plan.”

“Good point,” Schmitz admitted.

[Text elided by blogger… er, I mean university professor Lou Sylvre. Kristopher says:]

“Have you come to hand me over to the Nazis?” Whatever happened he didn’t intend to go easily.

The corner of Schmitz’s mouth turned up in a half smile before he shook his head. “I’m here to help you, Herr Dr. Lehrer.”

“You expect me to believe you?” Kristopher wished the desk behind him would disappear into thin air, although it still wouldn’t be of much help as Schmitz was blocking the path to the only door. “I know you’ve followed me for the past week.” He noticed the slight look of surprise on Schmitz’s face with a degree of satisfaction.

“You need to trust me, Dr. Lehrer.”

You may guess that Kristopher isn’t so sure that’s the best course of action, but like people everywhere when they’re in danger and want to trust someone, he looks for a way to do so.

“Give me one good reason.”

“The Nazis will be here in, Schmitz said, consulting his watch, approximately ten minutes. Either you trust me, or you tell them what you’ve just told me. I doubt they will believe your story.”

His voice softened. “I do.”

Now, students, you may have guessed that the Obergefreiter isn’t really the Obergefreiter. His real name is Michel, and he’s not even German. And his interest in Kristopher, like Kristopher’s trust of Michel, soon weaves into a whole new feeling. After negotiating much hell and highwater together, Michel soothes a startled, overwhelmed Kristopher in his own native tongue.

“A l’aise, Kit. Je suis ici… Ssh, tout est bien.”

Yes, Michel is there and all is well for the moment. There’s a whole lot more trouble to face, more evil to evade, more heroes to meet—all kinds, German, foreign, soldiers, everyday people. But Michel does whatever he needs to do to keep Kristopher alive. And since this is Gay Romance University, it isn’t giving away secrets to let you know, that once Michel has WinterDuetLGseen to the matter of Kristopher’s continued existence, he gets the opportunity to use a little French term of endearment.

“It’s all right, mon cher. I love you. I’m not letting you go.”

That is the end of our lesson, today. If you are interested in learning more on the subject, click the cover image above for a link to the blurb and purchase links. (And while you’re there, check out the continuation of this beautiful story in book two of the Echoes of War series, Winter Duet.

I thank Anne Barwell, Kristopher, and Michel for the privilege of treating the serious story of one of the world’s most painful times with a bit of irreverence. Truthfully, the heroes in this story are a reflection of all the real life heroes on every side of that war and every other, especially the quiet ones not lauded in headlines. They all deserve our gratitude, and I take no such service or sacrifice lightly.

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Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment!

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Lou Hoffmann’s *Key of Behliseth*, dragons and wizards and swords, oh my!

KeyofBehliseth_postcard_front_Harmony Happy to announce that Harmony Ink (Dreamspinner Press Imprint) will release Key of Behliseth (the first book in The Sun Child Chronicles), on 9/11/14. Visit Pride Promotions to enter the ebook giveaway raffle! There’s also a 20% discount on pre-orders at the Dreamspinner Press Store! At checkout, Use code SUNCHILD. It’s good on e-book and paperback, and if you can get there today, you get another 25% off!

On his way to meet a fate he’d rather avoid, homeless gay teen Lucky steps through a wizard’s door and is caught up in a whirlwind quest and an ancient war. He tries to convince himself that his involvement with sword fights, magic, and interworld travelMan on spiritual journey is a fluke, and that ice-breathing dragons and fire-breathing eagles don’t really exist. But with each passing hour, he remembers more about who he is and where he’s from, and with help, he begins to claim his power.

Lucky might someday rule a nation, but before he can do that, he must remember his true name, accept his destiny, and master his extraordinary abilities. Only then can he help to banish the evil that has invaded earth and find his way home—through a gateway to another world.

Lou Hoffmann, a mother and grandmother now, has carried on her love affair with books for more than half a century, and she hasn’t even made a dent in the list of books she’d love to read—partly because the list keeps growing as more and more fascinating tales are told in written form. She reads factual things—books about physics and stars and fractal chaos, but when she wants truth, she looks for it in quality fiction. Through all that time she’s written stories of her own, but she’s come to be a published author only as a johnnie-come-lately. Lou loves other kinds of beauty as well, including music and silence, laughter and tears, youth and age, sunshine and storms, forests and fields, rivers and seas. Proud to be a bisexual woman, she’s seen the world change and change back and change more in dozens of ways, and she has great hope for the freedom to love in the world the youth of today will create in the future.

You can find Lou:

On Lucky’s fifteenth birthday, heading home after a long and trying day…

When he emerged from the trees and caught sight of the shack he called home, he stopped and stared while a chill prickled over his scalp like a tattoo needle made of ice.shack on edge

Something wasn’t right.

Could he have somehow come to the wrong place?

For the comfort the sound of his voice might offer, he spoke aloud again. “Don’t be stupid, Lucky. You know your way home by now.”

He’d been living there for nearly a year. After about that same length of time sleeping in alleys and doorways—only occasionally sleeping in a bed, which was even worse—he’d been raveled to within a hair’s breadth of wanting to give up. Even now he didn’t want to think of what that might have meant. But he’d been truly lucky, for once, and happened on this old shed while he was looking for a place to hide from truant officers who’d spotted him trying to panhandle. He’d slept better that night than he had in a long time, and the next morning he decided to make the place his own. He’d swept away bugs and spiders, pounded loose nails, and even mended split planks, and within a few weeks he’d patched it up. Ever since, he’d shared the ten-by-twelve space with Maizie and a family of finches in the eaves, and he’d come to think of it as the one secure place on Earth.

The shack might once have been in the center of a pasture or field, but the walls of Black Creek’s infamous gorge had since crumbled, and now the structure squatted at the cliff’s edge, at the end of the flats. Ordinarily, that precarious location didn’t trouble Lucky. But tonight… tonight a mist rose from the ravine and pearled silver in the moonlight, twisting and twining like ghost flesh. The strange, swarming fog cut the cabin’s hulk off from everything beyond, as if the place he counted on as refuge now hunkered at the edge of oblivion, the brink of the world.

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Filed under GLBT YA fiction, Lou Hoffmann, Upcoming release

Congrats to my HAHaT drawing winner!

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The winner is JenCW! Congratulations Jen! Thanks for your comment and “playing” my raffle!

I’ll email you personally.

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by | May 25, 2014 · 12:23 pm