Category Archives: featured authors

Excerpt from Sharita Lira’s new release—Caught in the Crossfire (PROTEKT book 3)

To wrap up sylvre.com’s feature for March—all about Sharita Lira, author and strong supporter of diversity and all things community—here’s an excerpt from her new release, Caught in the Crossfire Enjoy, and if you haven’t already seen the info about her two March 2018 releases and the in-depth interview, be sure to check out those posts!


Chapter One

Babysitting a spoiled pop star? What kind of assignment is this for a skilled person like myself?” Newly recruited PROTEKT agent, Tryst Olivares grumbled to himself as he eyed his instructions from his boss, Wes Moreland. He hated them, and only wished to get this first task out of the way before the real deals came into play… or perhaps he wasn’t, since he had ulterior motives that went against everything he’d taken the PROTEKT oath for.

No matter.

By the time his new “friends” got a load of what hit them, he’d be paid handsomely, lounging around on the beaches of St. Tropez with drink in hand along with plenty of tight asses to take pleasure in.

Despite his name, Tryst didn’t do long term relationships. He figured he was too young to be committed to only one lover. In most of his twenty-eight years, Tryst preferred to have a wide selection of partners to sample as if his love life was some all-you-can-eat dinner buffet. In his mind, why settle when you could have all the men when you want at any time?

No question, Captain Kimball Emerson, the leader of PROTEKT caught his eye, but he had an American bulldog for a man, who more than made his presence felt during their first meeting. Then there was Devlin Crawford and his hot husband Aiden Moriarty, his fellow agents who in a past lifetime, he wouldn’t have minded having in his bed. Yes, PROTEKT was full of hot men, unfortunately none of them available.

Too bad.

Tryst would have loved to add all three to the few notches remaining on his proverbial belt. Tryst loved variety and never allowed anything but another man’s commitment to stop him from jumping into bed with someone. He had to have some kind of morals, even if they meant nothing to him. Besides, his mother always berated Tryst about not following the Lord’s word and the one command he decided he’d follow would be adultery.

Never mind, murder, stealing, and lying.

Didn’t everyone do that just to survive?

In this dog eat dog world, only the people who did things underhandedly would be left standing. So Tryst chose to do everything else but steal someone else’s man. More than God, Tryst believed in Karma and he thought if he wanted to live happily, he’d better not test the bitch.

With his favorite drink in one hand and the tablet containing the instructions on where to meet the spoiled pop tart in the other, Tryst leaned back into the leather sofa at his new digs Wes gave him. Tryst had to say Wes’s attention to detail as well as the lengths he went through to care for his agents impressed him. In the few days he’d been in PROTEKT, he was awed by the manner in which the organization was run. From top to bottom, PROTEKT had ironclad leadership, teaching their agents how to spot and solve problems, as well as man-to-man combat. They thrived on picking the kind of people who wanted to take justice into their own hands.

“Dios mio.”

If only there was a way to make his employers happy, but unfortunately, that would never occur. There were certain things he loved about both and wished he could merge them into one to be completely fulfilled. Perhaps this was yet another reason why Tryst decided to stay single because indecisiveness had always plagued him.

Saddened by that blunt realization, Tryst sipped from his glass again, tasting the sweetness from the liquor on his taste buds. He wasn’t sure exactly what it was, considering that before he’d joined the organization Tryst’s regular poisons were tequila and beer.

Regardless, he’d thoroughly enjoyed the flavorful liquid and relished in its tastes even though he’d been told not to indulge himself too much for fear of losing focus. After all, the time for operation revenge was on the horizon and according to his “actual” boss, he’d better not screw up or it would mean his untimely death.


Buy the book here:

Thanks for sharing your writing and your thoughts, and letting us celebrate your March releases with you. Congratulations on those! I’ve loved having you on the blog—please do come by again.

Thanks, Readers!

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Feature interview: Sharita Lira on writing, diverse characters, community, and being a metalhead

(Readers, before you get into the interview, I just want to remind you to check out the other parts of the feature. Go here for info on Sharita’s new Michael Mandrake books, and here for an excerpt from Caught in the Crossfire.)

Hello, Sharita! I’m happy to welcome you as a featured author in my sylvre.com, Romance Across the Rainbow, 2018 “Community” series. Your support for the community of GLBTQ+ writers and readers is strong, and I do want to talk about that, but let’s start with a few questions about you and your writing.

Q: Just to break the ice, let’s start with something sort of standard for the author interview…. Oh, never mind that. How about this: What family member was the most influential, in terms of your eventual choice to write fiction, as you were growing up? How? What were their favorite things to read? Please feel free to define family according to your own lights—no limits.

A: Thanks for having me, Lou and for the kind words!

Honestly no one. (laughs) I come from a family of squares. It wasn’t until I joined the Erotica Readers and Writers Association that I was encouraged to write. My Durannie (Duran Duran fans) fanfic group encouraged me to publish so that’s as close as I can get to “family” who influenced me.

As far as books growing up, I read the classics as well as VC Andrews Flowers in the Attic. I loved romance early. Read some of grandma’s boring HQN and later, Jackie Collins as well as Fern Michaels.

Q: I admit to being intrigued by your bio. In particular, you name yourself a metalhead and say heavy music inspires your writing. As a founding member of the zine FourteenG, you’ve got some credentials! What first piqued your interest in heavy metal? How is it an inspiration for your stories? Do you have particular books you’d recommend to readers interested in seeing this theme reflected or explored in your writing?

A: Thanks for reading my bio! (laughs) What’s interesting is, I didn’t start out a metalhead. As a matter of fact, I didn’t start listening until I went to High School. I mean, my only exposure to heavy music was Def Leppard and Journey! (laughs) But when I attended an all-black high school, I met my metal tribe. Yes, an all-black (African American) High School. There were 3 white kids in our school and none of them liked metal. Go figure.

As far as what piqued my interest, I’d say the fashion, then the music. I’ve always loved men in makeup! (winks) And then, heavy guitar caught my attention. Once I graduated, I carried that all the way through adulthood. Although I love New Wave and most 80’s, I’ll always be a metalhead.

Inspiration? I have several playlists on my Spotfiy with old school metal or industrial music. Many times the harder it is, it fuels my paranormal work while some of the more soulful metal might be used for a rock and roll romance, or a contemporary with some angst. One example is my Immortals Series under Michael Mandrake. I listened to a lot of Opeth while doing Immortals, especially this last book I’m about to release entitled Calisto’s Quest.

As far as books that reflect the metalhead in me, check out my Wretched Series. Although The Wretched is about to be reworked, you can check it out in raw form on Amazon. It’s not a romance, but it’s full of drama and angst surrounding a fictional Heavy Metal Band.

Q: You say you always have stories waiting to be written, and your website upholds that claim. Writing under several pen names, your publications number at least dozens. Approximately how many books do you write in one year? How do you produce such high-quality books when writing top speed?

A: LOL Thanks for those compliments. Some are short while others are long. My busiest pens are Michael and BLMorticia so a lot of times, Rawiya gets the scraps. ☹ Veronica is new, and I’m about to release my second book with her.

As far as how many I write? I’d say anywhere between 12-15, but some don’t get published that year. I’ve slowed down on the self-publishing because its costly. I’ve also learned not to write long series, even though Immortals is 6 books. (oops) :/

High Quality? Maybe because I agonize over the stories all the time. I try to put out the best product I can in a timely fashion, but if the story doesn’t end well, or doesn’t sound right to me, I hold it until I can redo it.

I’ve written a large amount of novellas which is why I can produce a little more. Nowadays, both of the busy muses want War and Peace type books so it’s harder to release more, which is okay because readers prefer longer works anyway. 😊

Q: Michael Mandrake, Rawiya, BL Morticia, and Veronica Bagby—all of them are you, and each one has a distinct “author brand.” Is any one of these your “favorite”? How do you go about the process of determining “who” needs to be the author of a new story idea?

A: You wish to get me in trouble, right? 😀 Michael is my favorite, but BL is a very bossy bitch who likes to grab the spotlight. Michael loves a complex plot and he’s a lot more formal and long winded. I love writing paranormal with Michael because we always develop some twists together.

However, BL is the boss. She gets her way about 60 percent of the time because she’s my metal muse. Because I love writing musicians into romance, I’ll usually be in favor of writing her books first.

As far as brand, I’m not sure I can even call it that. I suppose style is part of brand, but at times they crossover. BL and Michael especially. 😊

I usually decide by flipping a coin. KIDDING. No, I usually know right away what muse is to write what story. If it’s a story with lots of plots and subplots, its Michael. Heavy on Angst and comedy is BLMorticia.

Q: Writing, as mentioned, under four pseudonyms, your character loves and liaisons certainly qualify as “across the rainbow.” Your stories, both erotica and romance, are invariably sexy. This leads me nicely to the question I’ve asked every author ever featured on sylvre.com: Give us, please, the fifty sexiest words you’ve ever written. Define “sexy” any way you want, and you can fudge a little on the word count.

A: Oh boy! Um… squirms in chair Let’s see… I’ll do Calisto’s Quest because its coming out soon, but 50 words? Ugh! It’s a tad over and I’m not sure this is the sexiest, but I had this doc open!

Despite those feelings of guilt, I attacked Valios’s mouth with all the fire and passion I could muster. I ran my hands all over his body, tweaking his nipples and pinching his abs. We tangled tongues furiously, making us both breathless.

“Calisto! I want you!

“Yes. I want you too!” I covered his lips with mine, sucking his tongue as if it were his hardened length.

Q: Not surprisingly many, if not all, of your books feature people of color. Tell us, if you will, about moving in your writing from one skin to another, so to speak, and about characters who are different from one another in background find common ground. How much or how little do you feel you have to reflect a difference in culture (wealth, status, race, religion, values, etc.) when writing your characters? Are differences a major source of conflict in your books? A major stimulus for attraction?

A: Really good question!

I do love opposites attract stories, and one is usually so different from the other, that its hard to believe they might click. When I have two or more characters falling in love, I try to get into each one’s head to tell me how they’d feel about that other person. How they could relate in some way, because all people are unique as are characters. I try to find some common traits beyond the, we’re all human, thing. I kind of interview each character and say, Seth what do you like about Malakei? (Seth and Malakei are characters from my rapper/rocker book) There has to be something else in common other than being human. They might like the same music, food, or traveling, or hate the same things. I usually write out a character ARC for both people and find their motivations. If they’re similar, I can match them.

Then there are times when they don’t necessarily match but the attraction is there. Hence, Where There’s Smoke. I had 3 very different men and they decided to be together because of attraction. Once they got to know one another, it worked. There’s more to it, but I can’t reveal the main plot. Lol.

I do like to point out differences in culture. This could be something as simple as the way they talk or their families around them. This all influences characters and what they’re makeup is. And yes, differences are a major source of conflict and its not based on their cultural or race differences. Its usually class, status, or something else a lot smaller because writing an IR book where it is just focused on racial differences would be boring in my opinion.

Q: The fact that you write characters from all walks, across the spectrum racially as well as in the expression of gender and sexuality, reflects your stance as what I’ve called a “warp thread”—a support—in the woven tapestry of the GLBTQ+ readers and writers community. Though you clearly stand against hate and public policies that produce and promote it, when I see you on social media, it always seems to me that, inside the community, you would rather bridge the gaps between people than choose a side. Do you feel that is an accurate statement? Is it a day-by-day, moment-by-moment choice, or does it more reflect your core?

A: You’ve been paying attention to me. Lol
(Note from Lou: I’m not a stalker, really. It’s for the blog, that’s all!)

Yeah, I am that type of person. I’m not confrontational, and if I can avoid it, I do. Anytime you have a difference of opinion its always better to discuss it than jump to conclusions. I try to understand both sides of the argument, especially when it comes to matters of culture and race. Though I don’t stand for intolerance of any kind, I’d try to teach that person, why that doesn’t fly. And if they don’t agree, that’s fine, but yeah, I try to get people together. We need more togetherness in this world. Being on different sides hasn’t solved anything.

Q: A point of controversy at times within the community has been whether people should write outside their own gender, sexuality, or race. Some authors have said they are afraid of being offensive if they write characters from different racial or cultural backgrounds than their own. Would you be willing to share with us your stance, thoughts, or advice on the subject?

A: I’ve always said to do the research. I feel you can research cultural or gender differences just as you can for a doctor, cop, or a lawyer. Of course, talking to someone that’s part of that marginalized group helps more than everything, but you also shouldn’t take it as gospel. Not every ¬¬¬¬______ is the same. You can fill in the blank as far as what person.

For example, the controversy with Amy Lane about the “dark chocolate monkey of love.” Although I wasn’t personally offended, I know the negative connotations behind calling a black person a monkey. I’m black and never do it. On the other hand, describing someone’s skin like a food. Like saying coffee or honey. I don’t see an issue, but some do.

If an author decides to write outside of their spectrum, the best thing to do is ask for help. Read things on Quora or Reddit. Find people from that marginalized group. Use Youtube, everything you can. But don’t make stereotypical statements. That’s just a no no.

Q: You are part of a thoroughly fabulous idea called Queer in Color. Please tell us about that project—how it got started, who’s involved, what we can do to support it, anything else? Do you have any other projects promoting the reflection of the true diversity in GLBTQ+ people?

A: Thanks. It started with me and author Christa Thomlinson. Both of us wanted to do something to highlight books with characters of color. Through a survey in the multicultural queer group I run on FB, we gathered a small group of volunteers to help. Christa and I discussed doing a newsletter, Twitter, Facebook, and the website as a landing page. We started that late last fall and officially “opened” in November.

Of course with any venture there will be some kinks. The site isn’t as comprehensive as Queeromance Ink, but it doesn’t need to be. We are specifically looking to highlight books with CoC as well as spotlight authors of color. We do it all as volunteers and because this isn’t a paid venture, the amount of help has dwindled a little too. We make the best of it.

Q: What’s coming up, Sharita? Anything exciting in your author world you’d like readers to be on the lookout for?

A: Well, I have two releases coming under Michael this month. Caught in the Crossfire is PROTEKT book 3 and Calisto’s Quest is Immortals book four. Readers can read more info at Michael’s website. *smiles*

Also, for Veronica, a cougar IR called Teacher’s Pet.

BL is busy writing a small paranormal novella with a musician, but it is going to a publisher. I’m sure she’ll have a release soon enough!

I can’t thank you enough for letting me interrogate you here on sylvre.com, Sharita. I wish you the best in all your future endeavors. Please come back to visit again!

Thanks so much!

About Sharita Lira:

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blockquote>
Romance and erotica author Sharita Lira believes that love conquers all. Writing sexy stories of people who might be complete opposites, but somehow make a lasting connection that often leads to a happily ever after.

Happily married and mother of two, Sharita never allows complex plots to deter her from writing the story. Inspired by heavy music, attractive people she’s seen in person and on the internet, Sharita always has a tale on her brain.

In addition to being a computer geek and a metalhead, Sharita loves live music, reading, and spending time with family and friends. She’s also a founding member and contributor to the heavy metal ezine FourteenG.

For more information, please visit http://www.thelitriad.com, and if you’re a fan who would like exclusive updates on her writings and chances to win prizes, sign up for the newsletter.

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March “Community” feature: Sharita Lira (Here with two Michael Mandrake releases this month!)

I’m happy to feature Sharita Lira, an extraordinary author, in my “Community 2018” series here on sylvre.com Romance Across the Rainbow. Check the exclusive interview for her in-depth answers to questions about her writing and her active role as a proponent of true diversity in the community of LGBTQ+ writers and readers. Oh, and don’t miss an excerpt from new release, Caught in the Crossfire. First, though, here’s a little about her two recent releases, both under pen name Michael Mandrake. (About that, Sharita is a busy writer, and has four, count ’em, four pen names! See the interview to learn why and how…)


Caught in the Crossfire is book 3 of the PROTEKT series:

Musician Bastien Desmarais is thrust into danger, but he’ll have a chance at love—not once, but twice.

Tryst Olivares aka Domingo Macaya was hired by PROTEKT to guard superstar Bastien Desmarais because of threats he’d received. However, Domingo has an ulterior motive. Instead of following through on his PROTEKT assignment, he has other plans that don’t involve the popular entertainer.

Normally independent of security, Bastien sees this move to hire a bodyguard as a hindrance, but he’ll make the best of it. Why not have fun, especially since Tryst has the look Bastien appreciates?

In the midst of searching for a world-renowned felon, Claudius Peltier is very busy. But even this mission can’t deter his infatuation with Bastien. After years hiding his true self, Claudius won’t turn down the opportunity to be something more than the singer’s number one fan.

Three paths cross, leading them all down a very dangerous road. If they can survive this mission to catch a dangerous criminal, they can survive just about anything.

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of violence and homophobia.

Genre themes:
Erotic Romance, Gay, Menage and multiple partners, Multicultural
Buy the book:


Calisto’s Quest is coming March 31, book four in the Immortals series:

A battle between good and evil or does love conquer all?

For centuries Calisto and Valios had been frenemies, growing up in the ranks on two different sides. Over a mortal year ago, Most High granted Calisto one wish. A night with Valios, the Dark Lord’s son. By doing this, he thought Calisto would get over his fascination with the demon. However, Calisto developed feelings for the Soul Catcher that would never disappear.

Valios had lost out on true love in two instances, so he created a harem for himself to forget the pain. Though Valios has feelings for Calisto, his loyalty to his fathers Luci and Death must be upheld or he’ll face the wrath of both. Because of this, he’s kept his distance, ignoring his desire for one of High’s most prominent angels. Nothing, not even the commitment he seeks, is more imprtant than making his parents proud.

Once Calisto and Valios realize their emotions for one another run deep, they make plans to have children, which runs the risk of enraging their families and bringing punishment to both.

Calisto and Valios are long time rivals with a chance of gaining something more. Will they bypass it in order stay loyal to their respective sides?

Warning: Rough sex, violence, and MPreg. Relationships that others might find objectionable.

Click here for more info about Calisto’s Quest and a snippet!


Michael Mandrake’s author bio:

Michael Mandrake pens complex characters who are already comfortable in their sexuality. Thorough these characters, he builds worlds not centered on erotica but rather the mainstream plots we might encounter in everyday life through personal experiences or the media.

To find out more please visit Michael’s website.
(Michael Mandrake can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr and Ello.)

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Interview with J. Scott Coatsworth—author of the M/M sci-fi series, the Oberon Cycle

Welcome Scott, and congratulations on the release of Lander. Having you on the blog has given me a reason to take a closer look at your work—something I confess I’ve wanted to do for a while, and I have to say I got drawn in—so much so that I read Skythane instead of doing a number of other things I had on my to do list. I’ve got a few questions that arose from my reading, but let’s start with a few more general facts.

Q: Please tell us three of your favorite things about being a writer. We all get discouraged from time to time—when that happens, what keeps you writing? ame three books, novels, that you could read over and over again—the books that make you want to be a writer, too.

A: So first off—Larque on the Wing—a fabulous magical realism tale about a housewife who wanders into the gay part of town and finds out she quite literally has a gay man inside of her. In this world, there’s a man who can bring to the outside who you really are on the inside. This book showed me what could be done with magical realism and a rainbow palette.

My second—Daughter of the Empire, by Raymond Feist and Janny Wurts. OMG this book is good. It tells the story of a daughter of a powerful family who returns home after the rest of her kin are slaughtered, and is forced to take control of the family business. The world is a feudal society that mirrors Japanese culture, and the twists and turns are fantastic, as is the ending. Plus there are two more after this one. A master class in plot-driven sci fi/fantasy.

Finally, Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern. I am a huge fan of Anne McCaffrey generally and the Pern series in particular, and this one pulled all my heart strings – an epic tragedy that seamlessly combines sci fi and fantasy in a beautifully realized world.

Q: If you couldn’t be a writer, what profession would be your first choice, and why?

A: Hmmm… I always wanted to be an astronomer, until I found out how much math it required.

I’ve always loved space and sci fi, so astronaut would be my second choice. 🙂

Q: Among your characters, who is your favorite, and why?

A: My favorite character? But I love them all! But if I had to choose… probably Mael from “The Great North.” He’s so strong and sure of himself – he comes from a society where there’s no issue with folks who are gay or lesbian or any other part of the queer rainbow. Plus there’s the whole death and reincarnation thing (spoiler)…

Q: In a throwback to a question I used to ask authors for every feature—what are the fifty hottest, sexiest words you ever wrote? Okay, you have some leeway here. It can be less than fifty, but not many more, and “hot” and “sexy” can be defined any way you want.

A:From “A New Year”:

Finn pulled him down into a bed of moss, hungrily, and they kissed with a passion that unleashed Heath’s lust like an uncoiled spring. He pulled off his shirt and unbuttoned his jeans, and Finn shirked off his own clothing. Heath nuzzled Finn’s neck, and was soon lost to an animal passion that surpassed anything he had ever experienced in his bedroom with his own hand and a box of tissues in the dead of night.

I may have cheated and gone over. Just a bit.
(That’s perfectly all right, Scott.)


Q: You do have stories in other genres, but is sci-fi your favorite? If so, what in particular makes that true? Who are your sci-fi author heroes—the writers who made you fall in love with the genre? What new sci-fi favorite authors are on your current reading list?

A: I have three loves – sci fi, fantasy, and magical realism. Most of my stories fall under at least one of those categories, and sometimes several. Sci fi/fantasy has been a favorite of mine since I used to raid my mother’s sci fi bookshelf – McCaffrey, Asimov, Clarke, Anderson, Bova, Tolkien, and many more.

I love being a part of bold, amazing, fully realized worlds that are so different from this one, and others that seem like they might just be a heartbeat away. Give me starships, elf magic and planet-wide terraforming, and I’m in bliss. Put them all together successfully, and I’m in awe.

I have very little reading time these days, but I love me some Angel Martinez. And though he’s new, OMG, Peter Hamilton. If you are a hard-core sci fi butt and you haven’t read Hamilton… * shakes head *

Q: You are one of the administrators of the Queer Sci-fi website, an associated Facebook group, and a critique group. Can you give us a little history? Was this your brainchild? What do you most want people to know about QSF?

A: LOL… yeah it was. I started writing when I was in elementary school, and sent off my first book in my mid-twenties, but I didn’t write queer characters then. When I came back to writing in my mid-forties, I knew it had to be different this time. My new stories exploded with rainbows, and I wanted people to share my newfound freedom with. I found some good groups in Facebook, but none was quote what I wanted – a group that was truly inclusive of all kinds of speculative fiction and all kinds of people across the queer spectrum.

So Queer Sci Fi was born.

Not long after, I managed to convince Angel to come run it with me, and then we added Ben Brock, who has become our reviews guru.

The site’s watchwords are diversity, safety and fun – we work hard to foster an atmosphere where everyone can hang out together and rub elbows with others who are different, without feeling sidelined, disparaged, or made to feel invisible.

Q: The names and creatures in Skythane and Lander draw on Irish or Celtic mythology. What drew you in that direction? How extensively did the ancient figures of Oberon and the fey influence the worlds you created, or the stories you set within them?

A: LOL… it was an accident, actually.

I wrote the first three scenes of what eventually became Skythane in the mid-nineties, and then put it back on a shelf. It had no direction, no outline, no particular place it was going, and it joined a bunch of started stories that I’d never finished.

Around 2014, I pulled out the scenes to take a look at them. The image of the half world against the stark backdrop of space stuck with me. And the name – Oberon.

I did some research, and ran across Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’ Dream” – where King Oberon and Queen Titania are two of the many characters in a play that includes faeries, a magical forest and a love potion that makes people do crazy things. And Skythane was born.

I had gotten about halfway through, but then in November, 2015, I made it my NaNo project, and wrote the whole thing in one month. Of course, it took a few additional months to rework it and clean it up, and then Dreamspinner bought it and the rest was history.

Just for kicks, here’s the first scene I ever wrote of the story in all its misspelled glory. It still appears in the current book, with a few alterations:

Raindrops rolled off the plas screen in crazy patterns, the drops skidding across the slick surface in a wind-whipped frenzy. Xander lay on his back, head thrown back, watching them with a laziness that belied his inner turmoil. His chest heaved slowly up and down, his breath easing out of his lungs with silent ease, his whole posture and demeanor speaking of ease.

Nothing could have been further from the truth. Below the surface, under the deception of skin and sinew, seemingly relaxed muscles and redolent pose, his heart beat at a thunerous pace, and his mind raced for answers that seemed to just as quickly slip beyond his grasp.

The trick he’d brought home worked enthusiatically, his warm hands lain upon Xander’s thighs, his warm mouth evident elsewhere. Xander smelled the deep musk of him, slipped a hand absently through the man’s dark, tousseled hair, watching the rain increase to a thunder on the plas. The drops glistened, each an individual universe of shimering light, combining and recombining and running quickly out of sight.

Despite himself, he felt himself rising quickly to climax; despite his detachment, his mind was drawn up like the tide in the swell that seemed to radiate from his cock and balls down through his toes, up along his spinal cord.

Lightning flared suddenly in the wet-black sky, followed by thunder so close it shook the bed, and Xander came at the same time, his body crying out in joyous release. He shuddered, shivered and shuddered again, feeling for just a moment on the crest of the wave, in a pleasure so intense it burned through him like phosphorous, white hot fire.

In the short moments afterward, he drifted in an oblivion that was blessed in its emptiness, missing the pain that had taken up residence inside him these last few weeks.

When he opened his eyes, the nameless trick was staring down at him, expectant. Xander pushed himself up, off the bed, and took a fifty out opf his wallet, handing it to the trick with a dismissive gesture.

“I can do more…” the man said, but Xander shook his head.

“You’ve done enough. Now get out.”

The trick shot him a dirty look, but hurried out of the flat, slamming the door behind him. Xander looked after him in disgust. This was what he’d sunk to, bringing home tricks for a quick blow?

He stood against the long window, his lithe form silouhetted in the darkness of the plas, touching the cool surface with his hand, and tried to remember where things had gone so horribly wrong. The city spread out below him, thousands of amber lights in strings along the main causeways. In the distance, he could make out the Molokais, their peaks just a sharp-toothed wall of darkness at the edge of the world. Above them, the stars swam in the deepest night, thickest overhead, neither of Oberon’s two moons yet up to challenge their dominance of the night sky.

Turning his back on the night, he stared around the flat, glaring at the unmade bed as if it were to blame for his indiscretions. “Light,” he said, and the dim glow increased to something approaching daylight. “Candler, Deca Seven, Play.”

He eased himself down onto the center of the bed, and Candler Dalias’son was floating there before him, his beautiful gossamer wings extended on either side of him. Camber looked down at him, his amber eyes filled with concern. Xander drank in his beautiful face, the glow of his skin. “Xander, what’s wrong?” Candler reached out a hand toward him, and Xander reached out to touch his fingers, but his own hand closed in thin air.

“Candler, I miss you so…” he started, but his voice cracked. It was still so hard, even after all these weeks…

“Javier’s going out country next week,” Candler said, oblivious to him. “I’d like to go with him…”

“End play,” Xander said, and the thing that wasn’t Candler disappeared. Out country… he’d forgotten… “Oh Candler, why did you have to go?”

He sank down into the bed, exhausted with grief, and fell into a dark and dreamless sleep.

Q: The story descriptions tell us a little about the main characters in Lander. What secondary character do you think is most important to the story? What do they bring to the tale?

A: Hmmm. Depends on how you define secondary. Alix – the Lander the title refers to, starts as a secondary character in Skythane, but comes into his own in “Lander.” But I’d have to say Morgan. This little guy revealed himself to me in Skythane and I didn’t really know what or who he was, but he’s become central to the story. You learn a lot more about him in Lander, and he will be pivotal to “Ithani,” the last book in the trilogy.

Q: Let’s talk about themes. What would you say is the primary theme of the Oberon series? The theme of Skythane? Of Lander? I assume book three is at least well underway. What will be the theme of Ithani?

A: Change. On a macro scale, the change of the world and the species and breeds of people and aliens. And on a micro level, the way the characters themselves, especially our everyman Jameson change.

Q: To wrap up, Scott, what’s in store? Do you have a date (tentative or otherwise) for Ithani’s release? What other works do you have in progress? Any events you’d like your readers to know about? Anything else you’d like to say?

A: So many questions!

Yes – Ithani should be out in February 2019. 🙂 I am about 16k into it at the moment.

And yes, I has plans!

The sequel to “The Stark Divide” – “The Rising Tide” – is in edits, and will release in October, and the final book in that trilogy, as yet unnamed (but it might be “The Shoreless Sea”) will be out in October 2019.

This year, I also plan to get into self publishing with a vengeance, with my blog serial “The River City Chronicles” hitting the shelves in English and Italian in the spring, an anthology of some of my shorter works in the fall, and the fourth Queer Sci Fi flash fiction anthology, “Impact.”

Also, sometime this year, Mischief Corner Books should be coming out with the three volumes of the serial that appeared on their blog titled “Marionettes in the Mist” – I wrote it along with Angel Martinez, Toni Griffin and Freddy MacKay.

After that, who knows?

Thanks so much for having me!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You are very welcome, J. Scott Coatsworth, and I can’t thank you enough for allowing sylvre.com to host you on your tour for Lander. The exclusive excerpt was an unexpected gift, and I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to answer my nosy questions. I wish you all the best with Lander and with everything you’ve got sizzling. I hope you’ll visit again someday.

Readers, thanks for being here. Comments are welcome, and we’ll try to answer any questions.

Find out more about Lander in this post: Featured Author, J. Scott Coatsworth—New Release Lander, book 2 of the Oberon Cycle
And wet your appetite for Scott’s writing here: Exclusive excerpt from J. Scott Coatsworth’s *Lander*

And here’s where you can find a number of of J. Scott Coatsworth’s books.

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Exclusive excerpt from J. Scott Coatsworth’s *Lander*

Alix followed after Xander and Quince, trying to ignore the scowls and hateful stares he got from the skythane they passed as they made their way through the halls of the castle. He wasn’t wearing his enforcer garb, but either these people recognized him from his time there, or they were just soured on landers as a whole.

He couldn’t really blame them. They’d come as advisors to the king, promising to help modernize Gaelan. Within a few months, they’d become occupiers instead.

One man spat on him as he passed.

Alix closed his eyes. They had their reasons—even if he hadn’t been personally responsible for most of the bad things that had happened. He was still a ranger.

He was also astonished that Xander was a prince here. The first time they’d met, Xander had been a pale, skinny thing, running courier duty for Rogan in the Slander. Alix had immediately wanted to protect the boy, but it had taken him three long years to find him again and to buy out his contract. By then Xander had been seventeen, but in some ways he had still seemed much younger, his development arrested when Rogan had taken him. He’d had a lot of anger issues.

Xander had grown into his full potential. It was strange to see the man inhabit the role of a skythane king. Xander had always been out for himself before anyone else, a lone wolf. It was a natural response to six years of sexual slavery.

Now that version of Xander was gone. Somehow, his new maturity only made him more attractive to Alix.

Quince had warned him to stay away, but how could he? The man he had dreamed about for a year, had missed like a ragged hole in his soul, was right there in front of him.

Alix was no fool, though. Xander was focused on his new love, and he would gain nothing by stepping in the middle of that. Especially when Jameson was in some kind of crisis. He would have to wait and see what developed.

“In here.” Mylin led them into a small, bare room with a lumpy mattress.

“What is this place?” Xander asked.

“It’s my room,” Mylin explained. “I didn’t want it. But some of the others insisted I have a place to come for an hour or two to get away from the madness.”

Xander kissed her cheek. “I’m grateful.”

It was a particular kind of grace, as if the whole place didn’t belong to him to begin with. “Let’s get Jameson down on the mattress.” Quince and Xander laid Jameson down, holding him in place to keep him from thrashing about too much and injuring himself.

The man’s face was flushed, his wings extended and shivering as if he were freezing cold, but his skin was covered in sweat.

“What’s wrong with him?” Alix asked. He’d seen that look on men on campaign who’d been injured, but there wasn’t a bruise or cut on him, as far as Alix could tell.

Mylin returned with an earthenware bowl and a cloth and used it to wipe his forehead. The cool water seemed to calm him.

“He’s stuck in a memory loop,” Xander said, as if that should make perfect sense. “He sees these past memories, things that happened wherever he is, and sometimes they overwhelm him.”

“Whose memories? Looks more like a seizure to me.” Xander wasn’t buying into the native superstitions, was he? Though to be fair, Alix had seen his share of strange things on this half of the world.

Xander glared at him. “I have them too, but not like this.”

“What?”

“The memories. You sounded skeptical. We just shifted an entire world. You have to learn to adjust your expectations for what’s likely and possible.”

That shut Alix up.

“This happened before?” Quince asked.

“Yeah, back in the cavern.” Xander pulled out a pulse pistol. “This shocked him out of it.”

Quince smiled grimly. “I imagine it would. But you don’t want to go applying too many of those to poor young Jameson here. They could start to scramble his brain.”

“I know.” Xander winced. “So what do we do?”

Alix refrained from saying that it would be hard to tell the difference. “I might be able to help,” he said instead, as surprised as any of them that those words came out of his mouth.

Xander and Quince turned to him, surprised. “How?” Xander asked, but he looked hopeful.

“I have some experience dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder and panic attacks.” He pulled off his jacket and unbuttoned his shirt. He brushed off Xander’s renewed glare. “I know it’s not the same, but he needs to regain his focus on the here and now. I know a few things that might help.” He knelt next to Jameson.

Jameson whimpered.

Alix had a hard time keeping up his anger at Jameson. In fact, for a moment he was reminded of Xander, the first time they’d met. Jameson was pale and helpless, out of control of his own fate. Alix growled under his breath. He did not want to have sympathy for this man.

Gently he took Jameson’s hand and turned it over. Stunned, he hesitated.

Jameson’s fingernails had a double moon—a second arc above the first, separated by a thin line. It was subtle, but he was used to seeing it in rangers who’d taken up the habit during the long occupation.

Jameson was a pith user?

Alix shook his head. It was none of his business. “Can you take the lantern out of here? It may be easier if he has less to focus on.”

Robyn complied, taking it outside the door, and the room dimmed.

Alix held Jameson’s palm to his own bare chest. “Jameson, can you hear me?”

There was no glimmer of recognition in Jameson’s eyes.

Alix sighed. He had no guarantee that this would work. Still, it didn’t hurt to try. “Jameson, this is Alix. I’m right here with you.” He took a deep breath and breathed out just as slowly. “You have to focus, Jameson. Focus on me. Feel my breathing.” He breathed in once, deeply, holding it for a long moment, and then out again. “I want you to breathe with me.”

Alix put his other hand on Jameson’s chest. “In. Out. In. Out. Focus on breathing.”

He concentrated on his own.

“Is it working?” Xander peered over his shoulder.

“Shhhh.” Alix’s hand was warm against Jameson’s beautiful chest. Jameson looked like an angel. He shook his head. He would not let himself be attracted to Xander’s crush. “We’re all here with you, Jameson. In….”

Jameson’s chest lifted.

“Out.”
Jameson’s chest fell.

“That’s good.” Soon they were breathing together as one, connected skin to skin. It was as intimate a thing as he had ever experienced. “It’s okay. Let the memories go. Just keep breathing.”

Xander’s hand settled on his shoulder, sending a new splash of warmth through his body.

At last, Jameson’s eyes focused.

He looked up at Alix. “What… what happened?”

“You were stuck in your memories. The breathing helped you to get a grip and move past them.” He lifted his hand off Jameson’s chest and laid it down on the bed. The connection was broken.

“Thanks.” Jameson’s voice was raspy.

“Are they gone for now?”

Jameson looked around. “I think so.”

Alix nodded. “Good. I can teach you how to cope with them, I think. If you want.”

“Yes, please.” Jameson closed his eyes. “So tired.”

“He was tired last time too,” Xander said. “I think these memory storms really take it out of him.” Alix got up so Xander could kneel next to Jameson. “Sleep, my love.”

Jameson nodded, and his head drooped to the side.

“That was nicely done,” Quince whispered to Alix.

“Just part of my training.”

Thanks, Scott!
Readers—stay tuned for the interview! You can find it here: Interview with J. Scott Coatsworth, author of the MM Sci-fi series, the Oberon Cycle
Go here for more information about Lander and the series: Featured Author, J. Scott Coatsworth—New Release Lander, book 2 of the Oberon Cycle

And in case you’re hooked and need to get Lander right now, here’s some links.

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Featured author, J. Scott Coatsworth—New release Lander, book 2 of the Oberon Cycle

J. Scott Coatsworth is the sylvre.com featured author today, celebrating the release of Lander by Dreamspinner Press. Lander is the sequel to his celebrated novel Skythane.

The Oberon Cycle.

Xander and Jameson—a skythane and a lander—don’t know they have a shared destiny that will change the two of them—and all of Oberon—forever.

(The cover artist behind this dazzling beauty is Anne Cain.)

About Lander:

Sometimes the world needs saving twice.

Xander and Jameson thought they’d fulfilled their destiny when they brought the worlds of Oberon and Titania back together, but their short-lived moment of triumph is over.

Reunification has thrown the world into chaos. A great storm ravaged Xander’s kingdom of Gaelan, leaving the winged skythane people struggling to survive. Their old enemy, Obercorp, is biding its time, waiting to strike. And to the north, a dangerous new adversary gathers strength, while an unexpected ally awaits them.

In the midst of it all, Xander’s ex Alix returns, and Xander and Jameson discover that their love for each other may have been drug-induced.

Are they truly destined for each other, or is what they feel artificial? And can they face an even greater challenge when their world needs them most?

Where to find Lander

Here’s what some reviewers said about book one, Skythane:

“The writing was stellar… and I loved the progression of Xander and Jameson’s relationship. The chemistry between them was undeniable…” ~~Bayou Book Junkie

“The world building alone is totally wow and if this isn’t the foundation for a series, I’d be hugely disappointed… You’ll not only walk away satisfied, you’ll definitely be asking ‘when’s the next book coming out?” ~~-Jessie G.

“Three POVs, Shakespearian references, and a rich tapestry of a plot that’ll leave you asking for more. Skythane, by J Scott Coatsworth, proved to be a delightful Sci-Fantasy read.” ~~Jeanne, Reviewing the Gaps

About the author:

Scott lives between the here and now and the what could be. Indoctrinated into fantasy and sci fi by his mother at the tender age of nine, he devoured her library. But as he grew up, he wondered where the people like him were.

He decided it was time to create the kinds of stories he couldn’t find at Waldenbooks. If there weren’t gay characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends.

His friends say Scott’s brain works a little differently – he sees relationships between things that others miss, and gets more done in a day than most folks manage in a week. He seeks to transform traditional sci fi, fantasy, and contemporary worlds into something unexpected.

He runs Queer Sci Fi and QueeRomance Ink with his husband Mark, sites that bring queer people together to promote and celebrate fiction that reflects their own reality.

Follow this link for an exclusive excerpt from Lander: Exclusive excerpt from J. Scott Coatsworth’s Lander
Go here for a telling interview with the author: Interview with J. Scott Coatsworth, author of the MM Sci-fi series, the Oberon Cycle

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Lou Sylvre’s Word of the day: Upcoming

Upcoming. Seriously, I love that word. Its dictionary meaning—stuff that’s going to happen—has a connotation of anticipation rather than anxiety. But in my mind it also signals an expectation of things getting better—up coming, coming up, like climbing a ladder, like your star being on the rise, like ascending, maybe even like transcending.

Well, that’s all spiffy, but it isn’t what this post is about. This post is about what’s coming up for me—Lou Sylvre—and for sylvre.com. This year of 2018, which I’ll venture to call new even though a couple weeks have flown since it’s birth, seems for me to be about renewal, refreshment, re-energizing, and I hope that’s going to show in my writing and my blogging.

On the writing horizon, I’m excited about a few things, preliminary though they may be:

I’ve got the series starring Jackie Vasquez and Brian Harrison out to a publisher for consideration. Two of those books are written, one underway, and another one planned. Fingers presently crossed, but one way or another, I hope to get these stories—stories quite a few readers have asked for—out there and available.

Each of the three nights that had passed since Brian left for LA, lying in bed alone looking out at the Nebraska winter, Jackie missed Brian so much it hurt. Missed the smell of him, missed his weight creating a dent in the mattress next to him that Jackie couldn’t help but roll into, so that regardless of how far apart they started when they said good night, in the darkest hour he always found himself right up against Brian, usually ensconced in his arms. Safe.
He’d learned enough to know that he couldn’t entrust his safety to another, not really. He was his own responsibility—and he knew himself to be capable of meeting it. Still, in Brian’s arms was his favorite place to be, especially around two a.m. So when he woke deep in the darkness alone half a continent away from Brian, he ached for the man.

Writing partner Anne Barwell and I have finally got down to brass tacks with our Scottish historical fantasy romance, The Harp and the Sea. We’re on target to finish the writing in the first half of 2018, and (drops voice to a whisper) one top-notch publisher has already expressed interest.

“Ian, please. You see, before, always when I got into this boat, I did so because I wanted… needed to get away. And always I woke up many years later, many miles distant.” He forced his voice into what surely must seem like anger, but it was no more than determination. “Sir, I do not want to wake up away in the future, I want to wake with you. I am so afraid to climb in that boat that I cannot make my limbs move.”

A couple of brand new characters introduced themselves to me and demanded their story! It turns out to be a holiday story. I’m calling it The Holiday Home Hotel. I’ve got a publisher interested (though again, it’s preliminary) for a possible 2019 debut. Yes, 2018 would be better, but I’m happy with the encouraging “maybe” I already have. Meanwhile, I’m loving the characters and enjoying the writing.

As he walked back to the table where his friends sat waiting, with applause for his performance echoing in his ears, Daren felt power coursing through his veins. He was high on it as he’d never been before, and the feeling so far surpassed the booze that Gunny had tried to get him drunk on that he didn’t even want to sit back down. He needed to move.

“Let’s go,” he said, looking at Jimmy but oh-so-aware of Gunny’s hungry look. Daren didn’t know what that look really meant, but he liked it, and he thought he might have just made a discovery about himself that had been a long time coming.

Or maybe several discoveries, all because he liked that look. A lot. He liked knowing he’d affected Gunny by his drag Karaoke—by his look and his voice and his walk, all of which were different from, but somehow part of, everyday Daren. He liked that it made him want to get up next to Gunny and move, and he loved the feeling—the certainty—that Gunny would want that too.

I have a few other things queued up, and I’m hoping I can get some things out for readers this year, but in case I don’t, as Lou Sylvre, I do have something coming up in YA from Harmony Ink under my alternate pen name, Lou Hoffmann. Here’s a bit from Ciarrah’s Light, book 3 of The Sun Child Chronicles, which is destined for release in October.

“How’s your leg, Uncle?”

“It hurts,” Han said after swallowing a mouthful. “But it’s better, and I’m not feverish. You did a good job, Luccan.”

Lucky’s heart lightened a little, both with the news and the praise, although it made him feel a little awkward. In an effort to get past that, he chewed attentively for a moment, noticing the meat was either surprisingly flavorful or well-seasoned by hunger. He swallowed, took a sip of water, and returned his mind to practical matters. “You think it’ll be okay until we get back to the Sisterhold?”

Han took a deep breath. “With Behl’s help, yes.”

Lucky pushed his hair back and scratched at the back of his head to help him think. After a quiet moment, he spoke up to share what was on his mind. “Han? Uh, you know…. K’ormahk is magic, right?”

“Well, yes, in a way. I mean, the winged horses are a natural species, but like dragons—some dragons—they have a magic of their own. What are you thinking?”

“You know when we were on the ridge? I called him somehow, and there he was. All the way from Morrow’s lands—which isn’t even part of Ethra, really, from what Morrow said. So, if K’ormahk could do that, maybe if I asked him to he could just, um, transfer us to the Sisterhold. What do you think?”

“Makes sense,” Han said, his warm, dark amber eyes crinkling with his smile. “Worth a try!”

K’ormahk proved even more magical than Lucky had suspected. After they loaded up, before Lucky even had a chance to put his request into word or thought, the huge black horse turned his head back to flash a suspiciously twinkling eye at Lucky, and they were off.

The time they flew certainly was no more than minutes, but the flight was so breathtaking Lucky felt it was worth an eternity. They rode straight through stars clustered in colorful nebulae—Lucky was sure that was true, though he would have been at a loss to explain how they could do that and never even have trouble breathing. Stars were born all around them like the greatest ever fireworks display in slow motion. Lucky even heard a kind of music, a wavering and weaving discord like battling electric guitars but eerie and enchanting.

But things are coming for this blog, too. Some of you who’ve been around for a while may remember the author features I used to post a couple times per month. If you’re not familir or don’t remember, maybe check out the archives. Sylvre.com featured such authors as Andrew Grey, Ariel Tachna, Sjd Peterson, Tj Klune, Rhys Ford, and many more. At some point, life kicked me out of pocket and those posts and other good things slowed to a crawl and all but stopped. This year, the features will be back—I’m hoping for one per month. Next week on January 23rd, I’ve got Grace R. Duncan slated, and then in February, J. Scott Coatsworth. Exciting times for me, and I hope you’ll ‘tune in.’

In other news, I’m hopeful that the Authors Speak Newsletter will kick off within a couple of months, and then we’ll be quarterly after that. Just like on the Authors Speak blog (now cocooned to transform into a newsletter), we’ll have thoughtful articles from various authors and maybe readers, too, as well as book and event announcements and more. I’ll announce it here when it’s out, but if you want to be sure to get a copy of the first addition, register with your email at the Authors Speak blog page

You can still catch my monthly blogs at Love Bytes—I love blogging there, and frequently have great discussion with readers in comments. Starting something new, too—I’ll be honored to appear with a quarterly post on the Queer Romance Ink blog.

I’m adding a couple of new fixtures here on sylvre.com: A page that will list links to all my blogs, and a front page widget that gives the reading order for all my books in a series.

I sound busy, don’t I? I’ve got more percolating, so time will just have to stretch for me. No problem, right?

Thanks for reading. I look forward to seeing you a lot more often in the months to come. In case you don’t know it, I love comments! Sometimes I even bribe readers with a contest for them, but this time, I’ll just say, hey, I’d love to hear your thoughts about anything in this post, or about your plans for 2018. Otherwise, I’ll see you soon.

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Filed under A Shot of J&B, featured authors, just a category, Lou Hoffmann, Lou Sylvre, M/M romance, News, Vasquez Security TNG

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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Gay Romance University 102: How to have a solid romance with a ghostly lover (Haunted, Brynn Stein)

Hello class! Luki Vasquez and Sonny James are on hiatus, resting up before their new book release in May—more about that soon. In their absence, this Gay Romance University course draws an all-important lesson from author Brynn Stein’s novella, Haunted.

(If you don’t yet have a copy of the text book, you can pick it up at Dreamspinner Press dirt cheap. 🙂 Just click on the cover image for the buy link.)

If you’ll open your text to page 11 (or read the brief excerpt below), you’ll find Lenard Blake has, after initial skepticism, come to believe ghosts exist and in fact one resides in his house (a ‘fixer-upper’, you might say).

He finally decided to assume the ghost existed and to try to make peace with it. After all, it didn’t seem to wish him ill will. It didn’t seem to be trying to get him to leave or frighten him in any way. It just seemed to want the house kept in good shape. Lenard figured he could help with that. abandoned house whirling stars iStock_000033218692Large

He made sure to return any books he started reading to their rightful places. “Is it okay if I leave a bookmark in this before I put it on the shelf?” he had asked the ghost he still didn’t completely believe in. When nothing happened, he figured it was okay to leave the bookmark in the book and replaced it on the shelf.

The first point of this lesson is contained in these brief paragraphs: If a ghost doesn’t want you to mess with the books, ask permission before placing your bookmark.

Oh… wait, no.

The first important point of this lesson is communication! As in all relationships, the first thing you must do if you want anything good to develop is find a way to get through to the other party. In this case, when the ghost said and did nothing, Lenard knew he had his reply. Well done, Lenard.

The second thing I’d like you to take away from this lesson is this: The “honey-do” list is a sure way to gain your ghosts appreciation, and if the ghost keeps fixing the screen door, it’s on the list.. Consider, further down on page 11:

He decided the reason the screen door kept falling off after the ghost had fixed it was because the screws were stripped in the rusty hinges. screen door google ftuos 8142836247_80aaca3c65_oThey had already pulled away from the wall, so just putting them back in the holes wasn’t really helping. So, Lenard bought new hinges and screws and new wood for the door facing. He wasn’t as good a woodworker as the original craftsman, and the door frame would be considerably plainer, but it would be new and solid and would hold the screws in the new hinges so the screen door wouldn’t fall off again.

iced tea google ftuos 2903455081_d4d851c5d1_o
Lenard cleaned up his mess and went into the kitchen to get a drink. There he found the pitcher of iced tea he had made earlier, and had put in the refrigerator to get cold—sitting on the counter along with a glass.
“I’ll take that as a ‘thank you’ for hanging the door,” he called to Jason and downed the drink. “And thank you for the tea.”

(Okay, so that’s not a ghost in the image with the screen door. It’s a zombie. Call it literary license.)

If a live man continues to develop his relationship with a dead man, he may be privileged to see him. In the middle of the night. Standing by the bed. Which of course would not be startling at all. We’re reading from page 16 of the text, here:

If Lenard still had any doubts about the existence of his ghost, it was finally taken away one night around two in the morning.
Lenard had come home from an abnormally troublesome day at the station and had stripped quickly and fallen into bed, practically asleep before he hit the mattress. As tired as he was, though, something woke him from a sound sleep in the middle of the night.

At first, he couldn’t identify what had awakened him, and then he saw it… or rather, him. male ghostly image by bed google ftuos 8135574517_8d185c393f_oA young man was standing in front of the ornate closet door. Just standing… hip cocked with his hands hooked in his pockets, but looking as if he had lost his last friend.

And then there is bound to come a day, if a man is patient with his ghostly lover, that he reaps his sweet reward, and a truly solid relationship can materialize (all puns intended) (page 33):

…One morning, Lenard decided to take the chance. He was awake enough, as Jason went to get out of bed, that he caught the ghost by the hand, still almost surprised—as he always was—that he could actually grasp his arm. “Stay, Jason.”

The ghost stopped his movement, neither leaving, nor coming back, also seemingly a bit shocked that they could maintain contact this long. “I wanted to have your breakfast ready for you, Barnaby.”

“I’d rather have you ready for me, old man.” Now that Len knew he and Jason could actually touch, he couldn’t help but want to explore thoughts he had been having for a while now. He positively leered at Jason and answered the age-old question of whether or not a ghost could blush.

Jason settled back down onto the bed, propped up on an elbow, and whispered, “Anytime, Len.” He reached out to cup Lenard’s face, enjoying the prolonged ability to touch. He ran his hand up Lenard’s cheek and into his hair.

Lenard took the invitation and brought Jason’s face closer until their lips met. He was pretty sure by then that they would, indeed, be able to kiss, but he still sighed in relief into Jason’s mouth. They both just savored the kiss. There was a promise of passion, but for right now, they kept it light. A brush of lips that had longed for each other… then another, longer contact… and another.

Lenard slowly pulled the ghost back down toward him, wiggling onto his back so that Jason could lie on top of him. They continued the kiss with a little more passion. Neither fought for control; they simply let it go where it wanted to. But they both knew it wouldn’t stay with just kissing for long.
male ghost in chair google ftuos 353807265_37832270f1_zLenard let his hands roam over the body he had admired… had wanted… for a long time now. He explored the powerful arms and traveled down the lean, but muscular back to settle on well-developed glutes. Len was pleased to find that Jason had been right. The only way the ghost looked nineteen was in his youthful face. In every other way, he was all man.

“Probably a good thing you’ve gotten the hang of being solid in the bedroom,” Lenard whispered as he nuzzled his lover’s cheek… blond hair mixing with dark brown.

Of course, there is more to loving a ghost than good times. Ghosts hang around because they have needs, right? So yeah, Lenard has his detective work cut out for him, but we can’t cover that in class. The remainder of the novella is recommended reading for inquiring minds.

Thanks for coming to class, and great big thanks to Brynn for allowing me to embarrass her characters in this way. If you’d like to offer your sympathy (or contact her about her writing) you can find her:

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Filed under featured authors, Gay Romance University, M/M romance

Anne Barwell Interview: The many facets of her romance rainbow

Hello! Today I’m happy to share with you my recent interview with author Anne Barwell. One of the things I most enjoy about Anne’s writing is it’s diversity—she writes series, but they’re all quite different. I made her talk about that sneaky little habit! You can ask her disturbing questions too, if you like, in comments. 🙂
Note: Click any cover for a buy link to that book. For Anne’s bio (and other good stuff), visit her blog

Here’s the interview:

Q: You have, if I’m not mistaken, four different series in process. Please tell us a little bit about each one.
A: Five if you include The Harp and the Sea, which is our joint project… [LS—I’m so pleased to be working on this project with Anne!]

I’m still not sure how I ended up with so many series in progress. I blame demanding characters. Seriously though, one advantage I find with having more than one series in progress is that I have a hardcopy in front of me for the previous book while I’m writing the next one, which is so much easier when hunting for continuity details.

Hidden Places [series] is a contemporary fantasy which crosses through a portal into another world called Naearu. The main characters are Tomas, a writer, and Cathal, who is from Naearu. Part of the action takes place in the English village of Oakwood, part in Naearu. So far I’ve written two books in this series Cat’s Quill and Magic’s Muse. I have two more planned: One Word is Ethan and Donovan’s story and is a side story to Cat’s Quill. Dragon’s Price finishes the series and takes the characters back to Naearu.

Echoes is an historical series set in occupied Europe during WWII. Kristopher Lehrer is a scientist working on a top secret project in Germany. When his illusions are shattered and he discovers what the Nazis plan to do with his work, it isn’t long before he is on the run with both the Gestapo and the Allies after the plans he carries. Shadowboxing is the first book in the series and is set in Berlin in 1943. Winter Duet (which I’ve just submitted to Dreamspinner Press) is set in Germany in early 1944. The last book, Comes a Horseman, is set in France in mid 1944

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Dragons of Astria is a fantasy series set in Astria, a land where dragons are real and magic exists, although it has been outlawed for generations. Aric and Denys are from two very different backgrounds, but their destinies are intertwined in more ways than one. A quest for a magical sword will affect not only their life together, but the future of the kingdom. A Knight to Remember is the first in this series, and there will be two more books: A Mage to Forget and A Sword to Rule.

The Sleepless City is an urban fantasy series which is a joint project with Elizabeth Noble. The first four books are set in the re-imagined city of Flint, Ohio, and the characters are vampires, werewolves, ghosts—and human. I’ve written the first book, Shades of Sepia, and book 2, Electric Candle, by Elizabeth is coming out on April 4th.

Q: Of your series, do you have one that is easier for you to write? One that is your favorite? If so, please explain your choice?
AEchoes, being an historical series, requires a lot more research than the others, but I was surprised how fast Winter Duet wrote once I got going with it. It’s difficult to pick a favourite, it’s like choosing a favourite child. My favourite tends to be the one I’m working on at the moment and yes I know that’s not helpful. Each of them have aspects I really enjoy, and I love all my guys but it is easier writing fantasy especially as I can build worlds and ‘make stuff up’ rather than worry about whether I’ve got the details of a time and/or place just right. Ben from The Sleepless City, as a Kiwi character, is very easy to write, but the US setting means a bit of research as it’s the little things that I really don’t know. I’m definitely setting my next contemporary series in New Zealand. But not just for that reason as I think there needs to be more M/M set locally.

Q: How do you balance your writing time between the different series? Do you find that your style differs from one to the next? If so, how do you get in the right mind set for the particular series you’re working on?
A: I didn’t intend to have four series on the go at once. My original plan was to have two and alternate them, and once I’ve caught up with finishing what I’ve started that’s what I’ll be doing with maybe a one shot—and yes I know they always turn into series—or two in between. Meantime I’m trying to write in a circle: Hidden Places book 3, </em.Dragons of Astria book 2, Echoes book 3 etc. That way I’m not leaving readers of those readers hanging around too long, or at least that’s the plan. There aren’t enough hours in the day with working full time [outside of writing] so a couple of novels a year is about as much as I can manage.

With the series being different genres, my style does differ between them. No too much so but more in what is needed for the characters and plot. The series tend to have a different feel to them, especially in the narrative/dialogue between historical/contemporary and high fantasy. Aric’s speech in Dragons of Astria is going to be more formal, and have no modern idioms compared to Tomas in Hidden Places, while Cathal from that series being between two worlds in a sense has a mix of both. It also depends on what story a particular book is telling. Magic’s Muse was slower paced but it was filling in a lot of gaps and building relationships which need to be in place for the final book in that series Dragon’s Price which will more of an action/drama.

I get in the mind set when I switch projects by firstly writing an outline, printing it out and scribbling over it, and writing a blurb. Usually I’m thinking through and researching/discussing ideas a couple of projects ahead of what I’m writing so I do tend to multitask a bit I guess especially if I’m working on more than one project at a time like I am now with Echoes and The Harp and the Sea.

Q: Your most recent release is Shades of Sepia, book one in a shared world series, The Sleepless City. How did you and your series partner, Elizabeth Noble, develop this concept? Any hints you can give us about what’s yet to come?
A: Elizabeth and I were chatting on IM one day and found we both had vampire characters we wanted to do something more with. One thing led to another and The Sleepless City was born. The mythos or ‘series bible’ is the product of hours of discussion, which is still ongoing.

The first four books in the series are an ‘arc’ and tell a complete story, and then we’re each writing books set within the universe. An arc seemed to be a good way to start the series and establish it and the characters. Shades of Sepia is Simon and Ben’s story, Electric Candle by Elizabeth which comes out in April is Forge’s. [LS—this book is now available for pre-order on Dreamspinner’s site.] I’m writing Family and Reflection later this year which is Lucas’s, and then Elizabeth will tie up the arc with the last book Checkmate. One thing I’m looking forward to in Family and Reflection, as there’s got to be some fun in amongst all the seriousness of the case they’re working, is that Ben’s friend Ange visits from New Zealand. She doesn’t know who or rather what they all are, so they’re going to try to keep it from her. Good luck with that one.

Q: What can you tell readers in advance about the two main characters in Shades of Sepia, Ben and Simon? (Make us curious, or make them irresistible!)
A: Ben’s a local guy – well local for me – as he comes from Wellington where I live. He’s very laid back but at the same time speaks his mind and doesn’t take any shit. He’s also a bit of a geek and collects comics/graphic novels. His passion is photography and that’s the really ironic thing about his and Simon’s relationship. The one person Ben really wants to photograph he can’t because vampires not show up on film. Well, not usually, there is a way around it but he’ll have to convince Simon first – and you’ll have to read the book to find out what I’m referring to 😉

Simon’s is very different to Ben, it’s one of the reasons they complement each other so well. Simon’s more serious, and carefully considers his actions before he takes them where Ben’s more likely to just decide and do it. Simon’s also got an old fashioned streak a mile high, which isn’t just because he was born in the late nineteenth century. He’s also got a dark side, not unexpected as he’s a vampire! But like Ben he’s fiercely protective of the people he cares about and won’t hesitate to put himself in the line of fire to do just that. As Lucas says, “You can argue over which one of you is going to play protective over the other one’s ass on a given day. Promise me I can watch?”

Q: What’s coming next from Anne Barwell? Anything slated for release in the upcoming months? (Please elaborate!) Also, what’s on the burner for the next year or so?
A: I’m putting the final touches to Winter Duet, which is the sequel to Shadowboxing and the next book in the Echoes series.

Here’s the blurb:

Germany, 1944. With Kristopher finally fit enough to travel, he and Michel begin their journey across Germany toward Switzerland and safety.
Separated in the middle of a warzone, after helping an injured RAF pilot, Kristopher is determined to find Michel again. But how far can he trust the man travelling with him? Whoever he is, he is definitely not the German soldier he appears to be.

Meanwhile Michel mounts a rescue mission. Time is running out. Loyalties are tested and betrayed as the Gestapo close in. Can he reach one of their own before information is revealed that could compromise not only his and Kristopher’s safety, but that of the remaining members of the Allied team?
Or is it already too late for all of them?

And an excerpt:

Kristopher dropped to his knees, and examined the boy. His eyes were glazed over and he flinched when Kristopher touched him. “He must have hit his head when he fell,” Kristopher said. He brought his hand away from the boy’s temple. It was covered in blood. “He needs help, but I can’t do much for him here, just try and stop the bleeding.” He quickly opened his satchel and pulled out a short length of bandage, bundled it into a wad and held it against the wound. It probably wouldn’t be enough to stop it, but it was better than doing nothing. Head wounds tended to bleed, didn’t they? It didn’t mean it was something serious, but it could be.

He let out a quick breath. Damn it. He wished he’d paid more attention when he’d watched Clara at work. Why had he agreed to disguise himself a medic? In this situation when that was exactly what was needed, he was next to useless.

“We can’t stay here,” Michel said. “Can you tie something around the bandage so it keeps the pressure on it when we move him?”

“Keep pressure on the wound while I look.” Kristopher searched around in his bag, ripped some more of the bandaging material, and tied it quickly. His hands were shaking, but at least there didn’t seem to be any blood seeping through the original cloth he’d put over the wound. “I think that should hold it for now.”

Michel handed Kristopher the flashlight and then lifted the boy into his arms. “What’s your name?” he asked softly when the boy opened his eyes and looked up at him.

“Fritz,” the boy replied, his voice wavering. He put his arms around Michel’s neck and clung to him. Thankfully he seemed more alert than he had a few moments before.

“Hello, Fritz. I’m Michel and this is Paul,” Michel said. “We’re going to keep you safe, I promise.”

“You promise?” Fritz’s earlier confidence was gone. “I didn’t think it was so dark. I know this place. I shouldn’t have tripped.” He glared at the ground. “Stupid thing. Stupid stupid. Everything looks different.” He sniffled loudly, and wiped one dirty hand over his face.

“Do you remember the way to the bunker, Fritz?” Kristopher asked. Michel was watching Fritz carefully, holding the boy close to him. His grip had tightened at the first sign of Fritz’s distress.

“I don’t need to put you down,” Michel reassured Fritz. “You can still guide us while I’m holding you.”

“I don’t want to walk.” Fritz bit his lip. He looked around and then pointed to a street to their left. “If we go down there it’s only about ten minutes away.” They’d never reach the bunker in time before it closed.

“There isn’t one closer?” Michel asked.
“It’s the one I know about,” Fritz said somewhat defensively. “Mutter told me if something happened I should go to it.”

“Where’s your mother now?” Kristopher asked. The light from the flashlight was dying quickly. They had to hurry.

“I don’t know. She went to get my baby sister but she never came downstairs.” Fritz stuck his chin out. “I waited like she said, even when I heard the loud noises and people crying.”

“You live around here?” Kristopher hoped Fritz’s family had survived this. They’d have to try and reunite them or at least find someone who could look after him before they left Stuttgart.

Fritz nodded. Whatever his wound, it seemed as though it was definitely superficial or he wouldn’t be talking as much as he was. “I went looking for her, and I couldn’t find her.”

“You sound much better, Fritz. Do you think you could walk?” Michel asked.

“I don’t want to lose you and Paul too,” Fritz said. He let Michel put him down and then put one small hand into Michel’s.

“You won’t lose us,” Michel promised. “Keep holding my hand and Paul will look after the flashlight. We can work together.”

“Michel’s very good at working together,” Kristopher told Fritz. He shone the flashlight around. The further out into the street they got, the more rubble there was. It wasn’t safe to move too quickly and at this speed they’d never reach the shelter before daylight. He glanced up at the sky. Most of the flashes of light seemed to now be focused toward the city centre. “I’m wondering if it’s safer to stay here, but get as far away from the buildings as we can, and wait for daylight.”

“We don’t know how long this raid is going to last,” Michel said, “but we need to make a decision.” Something creaked and groaned to the side of them. “Move!” Michel yelled. He picked up Fritz and ran back the way they’d come. Kristopher didn’t stop to see what was going on behind him. He followed.

Moments later, more rubble hit the street where they’d just been standing. If they’d stayed there they would have been buried in it.

Kristopher shone the flashlight on it and shivered. “I think finding the shelter is the least of our problems,” he said. “We need to get out into the open. It’s not just more bombings that could kill us, but the buildings that are already damaged.”

“I know a place,” Fritz said after Michel put him down. “I’ll show you.” He took hold of Michel’s hand again. “You and Paul are soldiers.” He pointed to the Red Cross on Kristopher’s arm. “You’ll stay and help look after all the hurt people, won’t you? Vater is a soldier too. He’s fighting at the front. Mutter says he’s very brave.”

“Yes, we’ll stay and help,” Michel said before Kristopher could say anything. He squeezed Fitz’s hand. “We’ll also help you find your mother, or at least someone who can look after you.” He looked over at Kristopher and gave him a questioning look.

“Of course we will,” Kristopher said, wondering why Michel felt he’d even had to ask.

My next project is On Wings of Song which is a WW1 novella which begins in France in 1914. I’ve had the idea for a while, and as this year is the centenary of the beginning of the war, it felt like the right time to write it. And of course The Harp and The Sea.

After that, and book 3 of The Sleepless City, I’m focusing on working on/finishing the series I already have in progress.

Q: To wrap up, please describe for me the single most satisfying thing about being an author. When and how does it happen?
A Seeing my ideas and characters take shape as I write, and having others enjoy my stories. It’s a scary thing putting a bit of myself out there, but even if each book just touches one person it’s worth it. I write the stories I want to read, or otherwise what’s the point?

LS—Your writing has certainly touched me, and I know I’m not alone, so thanks for taking the chance! And thank you, Anne, for being my guest today! Come back soon.

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