Category Archives: guest authors

Mending the Holes in History with Historical Fiction—article by Christopher Hawtorne Moss

Something a little different this week on sylvre.com—I’m delighted to welcome guest blogger Christopher Hawthorne Moss, author of Beloved Pilgrim, a YA transgender historical novel published by Harmony Ink Press. (As usual on sylvre.com, the cover image is the buy link, just click.)

Elias knows in his heart that despite his female body he is a man. When his twin brother dies suddenly he has the opportunity to live his truth by donning his armor and setting out for the adventure of a lifetime in the world-changing Crusade of 1101.

I remember when feminists coined the expression “herstory” to counteract the overt and subtle mascullinism of the word “History”. Of course, we all know that the “his” in “history” is not actually the masculine pronoun, but it was an acknowledgement that what we were taught in school was, in fact, the history of men. Women were a side issue. The impetus for developing “herstory” was to bring to light the equally central role of women in our past. The impact of this effort did more than just add female names and faces to the story of humanity. It helped change the way we looked at how we both learned of and interpreted our collective past. We stopped reciting the dates of battles and started looking at the records for clues to the actual lives of people of the past.

People who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer deserve a history/herstory too. There is even less record of our lives. Much of what we have in the records consists mostly of religious diatribes and criminal records, for that was the interface between the dominant culture and us: their attempts to control our behavior through threats and punishment. Sadly, there is little alternative if you want to tell our story. The evidence of our lives and loves is at best spotty.

That’s where I believe historical fiction can mend our lack of a history. Intelligent people realize that times change, but every type of person alive today has existed in every era. If the estimate that ten percent of people are GLBTQ now, then we were in those numbers at every point in the history of humankind. The capable storyteller can see the forest for the trees, that is, see just where and how people like us found a way to be no matter when. It is our job, in essence, to tell the stories of our forebears in sexual identity. That the people we write about may or may not have actually lived is irrelevant. They are our history… our story. As Monique Wittig wrote:

“There was a time when you were not a slave, remember that. You walked alone, full of laughter, you bathed bare-bellied. You say you have lost all recollection of it, remember . . . You say there are no words to describe this time, you say it does not exist. But remember. Make an effort to remember. Or, failing that, invent.”

Deprived of concrete records it is our job, and in the case of GLBTQ historical fiction sites such as Our Story – GLBTQ Historical Fiction, which I edit at http://www.glbtbookshelf.com, our purpose, to invent.

My novel, Where My Love Lies Dreaming, used the title of a Stephen Foster song to introduce the ourstrical, to coin a term, tale of two men from different cultures who make a life together in spite of intolerance and also in spite of the American Civil War. More ambitious, perhaps, is my current novel, Beloved Pilgrim, which attempts a plausible transgender character at the beginning of the 12th century CE. The main character is a woman who has known all her life that she is a man in heart and mind and takes the tragic event of her twin brother’s death to strike out as a knight, using his identity. The biological origins of transgenderism make it absolutely certain that people like this character did exist, everywhere and throughout time, and it is my job as a historical novelist to show how this could happen.

But where does plausibility come in? In the instance of Beloved Pilgrim clearly the surgical and pharmacological advances that would make sex reassignment possible are many centuries hence. Would a person even have the framework to realize he or she is not in the right body? The simple fact that ancient cultures, the Romans, Plains Indians, and Hindu, had transgender gods and traditions points to this being more than possible. On a practical level, could a female-bodied person really pass as a man? Yes. Our histories are full of examples of this, including surgeon James Barry, numerous Civil War soldiers, and others throughout time. The person would simply need to be clever and lucky. And as Elias tells Albrecht, people tend to see what they expect to see. I have a female body, but I was called “he” and “sir” just this morning.

It is the responsible novelist’s task to reason this out and represent it plausibly. It would be a mistake in Beloved Pilgrim for anyone to use the term “transgender”, an expression that will not exist for hundreds of years. But my own experience and my knowledge of historical examples tell me that the individual can and at least sometimes would have recognized when a body did not match a soul.

For more examples of how GLBTQ people may have lived and loved in times less tolerant and educated as now visit Our Story – GLBTQ Historical Fiction will provide a collecting place for that invention with book reviews and more. We want to hear about your work and your ideas. We want to know how you are writing another piece of “Our Story”.

Author Bio:
Christopher Hawthorne Moss wrote his first short story when he was seven and has spent some of the happiest hours of his life fully involved with his colorful, passionate and often humorous characters. Moss spent some time away from fiction, writing content for websites before his first book came out under the name Nan Hawthorne in 1991. He has since become a novelist and is a prolific and popular blogger, the historical fiction editor for the GLBT Bookshelf, where you can find his short stories and thoughtful and expert book reviews. He lives in the Pacific Northwest with his husband of over thirty years and four doted upon cats.

He owns Shield-wall Productions. He welcomes comment from readers sent to christopherhmoss(at)gmail(dot)com and can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

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Eon de Beaumont: Rum and Ginger (delicious!)

Hi! Lou Sylvre here with just a word of welcome for author Eon de Beaumont, who serves up a lovely thirst-quencher: Rum and Ginger Yum! Please enjoy the little taster below, and if you’d like leave a comment to let him know you did!

Greetings! My name is Eon de Beaumont and I’ve written my very first contemporary story for Dreamspinner Press. This post is part of a promotional blog tour I’m undertaking to celebrate the release of Rum & Ginger, The Connection: Book One. The story is very character oriented so I’m going to introduce you to each of the major characters in each of these blog posts and give you some background about how they fit in the world and how I came up with them. Let’s talk about Brodie.

Brodie Felix is a young, tattooed bartender who catches the eye of the main character, Ben Silver. Brodie is a fun, impulsive musician. He represents everything that’s lacking in Ben’s current relationship but Ben’s loyalty prevents him from pursuing Brodie. That doesn’t prevent Brodie from trying, at least until he finds out Ben is taken and then Brodie does his best to just be friends.

Brodie has also been out since he discovered he was gay, another thing Ben envies a great deal. Brodie is unabashedly and unapologetically himself. He and Ben discover that they have a lot in common and it gets harder and harder for the two of them to ignore their feelings. I really created Brodie as a foil for Chance. He’s literally Chance’s exact opposite. Brodie also has an insight into bar ownership and management that could really help Ben when he wants to open his bar. It’s a very delicate situation. To find out if it’s a situation that gets resolved, you’ll have to check out Rum and Ginger.

Here’s the blurb:
Ben Silver’s personal dream is to open the first gay bar in Liamsport, Pennsylvania. The town isn’t exactly open-minded, but that’s not why Ben stays in the closet. Chance, Ben’s computer nerd boyfriend, is deathly afraid of anyone finding out he’s gay. On a night out, Ben meets Brodie Felix, a younger, heavily tattooed bartender who lights a spark in Ben’s heart. Although the spark in his relationship with Chance has dwindled to almost nothing, Ben feels guilty for wanting to be single, for wanting another man, so he tries to forget about Brodie.

But when Ben discovers one of Chance’s own secrets, he’s forced to make a difficult choice.

On his own for the first time in his life, Ben can be open with his family and friends. Though honesty has its benefits, his life isn’t perfect. Ben’s circle of friends and family is growing. So is the spark between him and Brodie, and Ben hopes it will grow into a flame. His dream remains out of his grasp, but with a little help and a lot of work, he might yet serve his favorite rum and ginger ale at his own establishment, the first gay bar in his hometown.

Let’s have a look at the scene where Ben and Brodie first meet. You can connect with me on Facebook or follow my Twitter: @mascaraboy13 for updates and announcements. I hope you enjoy the excerpt and if you’re interested, there’s a buy link following. (Lou’s note: You can also click the cover image to open the buy link.) Thanks!

Excerpt:
Ben drove into the municipal lot a few blocks from the Bill and Vinny. He didn’t plan on drinking that much, but a few blocks walk couldn’t hurt at the end of the night. Ben turned the key, cutting Robert Smith off midlament. He looked at his phone before he opened the door. He should text Chance. What I should really do is invite him along, Ben thought. He wouldn’t come. Ben knew it. Chance rarely wanted to go out, and when he did, it was usually to the theater or a movie. Ben shrugged. Maybe tonight would be different.
Heading 2 the B&V w/ Lena. Wanna join? Ben typed and sent. He waited to see if Chance would reply. Sometimes Ben wondered why Chance even had a phone based on the frequency of his responses. Ben was about to open the door when his phone vibrated.

In the middle of a session. Ben read Chance’s message. A session meant Chance was on his computer, writing fan fiction with some of his Internet buddies. They took turns pretending they were fictional characters. Ben wondered if it was the Harry Potter group or the Avengers nerds.

If u get done b4 I get home, offer stands, Ben answered.

Thanks. Have fun. I won’t wait up.

K. Ben flipped his phone shut, not surprised. He shook his head and stepped out of the car. He pressed the lock button as he walked away, noticing Lena’s VW three spaces from his own. Ben always felt a little guilty having fun without Chance. But why should I? Ben thought. I’m an adult. And it’s only a couple of drinks. He tried to shake off his ill mood as he approached the bar, looking up at the sign and smiling. The bar looked like any of a dozen bars downtown but for the sign. Mike had chosen the classic woodcut picture of William Shakespeare and the famous Van Gogh self-portrait and had them painted to look like they were arm-in-arm and raising pints. It was too hilarious.

As Ben pulled open the door, a gust of smoky, warm air rushed out to meet him, carrying the sounds of a busy bar, music, laughter, and conversation. The one drawback to Mike’s, in Ben’s opinion, was the thick haze of smoke that lingered constantly within. Mike didn’t serve food, so the B&V remained one of a handful of bars where people could still smoke inside.

Ben couldn’t believe the B&V was this busy on a Tuesday. The bar was packed. He stood at the door and scanned the room for Lena. “ID?” the guy at the door asked. Ben thought his name was Curt. Ben dug out his wallet and handed the bouncer his driver’s license with a little satisfaction. Ben was closing in on thirty and relished those times when others couldn’t tell. “Thanks,” the guy said and returned Ben’s ID. “Have a good one.”
Ben nodded and smiled. “I’ll try,” he answered. Then he waded into the sea of bodies gathered here and there in groups, talking, drinking. He still couldn’t see Lena.

Although he did see a disproportionate amount of young hotties. And they looked strangely enough like jocks. The B&V wasn’t a sports bar. Ben wondered what had drawn these guys to this bar. A round of cheers erupted. Ben looked over to see Lena sitting on two beefcakes’ shoulders.

“Ben!” she shouted, waving him over. “Ben-Ben! Get over here! Put me down, boys.” She patted her supporters, and they lowered her to the floor. Lena threw her arm around Ben’s shoulders.

“What’s up, Lena?” Ben asked, returning the embrace. Judging by the way his friend leaned on him, she’d already had more than a few drinks.

“Look at all these little beauties,” she almost slurred, guiding him to the bar. “Get me a vodka and tonic. I have to pee.”

“Delightful,” Ben said with a theatrical grimace. “Just go.” He waved her off as she stuck her tongue out. He grinned at his friend as he pulled a few bills from his pocket and turned back to the bar. Everybody knew orders were taken faster if you showed cash. Ben rested his elbows on the edge of the counter.

He discreetly scanned the room, surveying the massive amount of eye candy. The ratio of men to women was seriously skewed and the pool table busier than he’d seen it in a while, crowded with young men. “Getcha somethin’?” Ben turned toward the voice behind the bar.

His gaze fell on a bartender he didn’t recognize, and Ben’s voice stuck in his throat. The bartender was a vision: lean, tall, with a jaunty fauxhawk of dark hair fading to red at the tips. The young man had beautiful caramel-brown eyes beneath mischievously arched brows. His lips were full, and his mouth quirked in the perfect grin. He was exactly the opposite of Ben’s basically clean-cut style.

“I, uh. My friend,” Ben stuttered. He squeezed his eyes shut, trying to will the heat he felt on his cheeks to go away. “Vodka tonic for my friend,” he finally managed.
“Anything for you?” the pretty bartender asked. He’d already grabbed a highball glass and placed it on the bar. As he dropped ice into the glass, Ben noticed his arms were covered in tattoos, accentuated by a sleeveless dress shirt.

“Rum and ginger ale,” Ben said without thinking.

“Right.” The bartender smiled and nodded, pouring vodka with one hand and retrieving another highball glass with the other. Ben thought the man’s easy movements were like poetry. Glass, ice, pour, and a spray of soda, both hands working independently. “That’ll be six,” the bartender said, dropping black stirrers into the drinks and passing them across. Ben handed over two fives and the bartender turned to the register. Ben took advantage, checking out the view the bartender’s skinny jeans offered. Ben averted his eyes quickly when the bartender turned. “Four’s your change.” Ben accepted the bills and laid two on the bar. “Thanks.” The bartender flashed a smile. Ben returned a smile of his own before sipping from the stirrer like a straw in a decidedly unmasculine gesture.

“What are you doing?” Lena asked as she grabbed her drink from the bar. “You look like a little kid.” She took a long sip from her glass, ignoring her stirrer as Ben released his tiny straw, feeling self-conscious.

“What’s with all the hot boys?” Ben asked, his voice raised to combat the new round of music from the jukebox.

“Mike’s brother just turned twenty-one.” Lena took another sip of her drink, smiling at a much younger man across the pool table.

“So what?” Ben said as he tipped his glass to his mouth, attempting a more mature manner of sipping but poking himself just below the eye with the stirrer. He plucked the thing from his drink and threw it in an ashtray on the bar.

Buy link:
Dreamspinner Press

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Sue Brown’s “A Cock in the Window” Blog Tour Stop (with 2 chances to win a cock!)

Welcom to Sue Brown’s A COCK IN THE WINDOW Blog Tour!

Sue Brown Cock in the Window header

Hello, my name is Kit Stone and I’m taking A Cock in the Window on tour for Sue Brown before its publication on Friday 20th December. You haven’t met me before. I’m thirty-six years old, grey eyes, have most of my hair and am just under six feet tall. Brad Pitt I’m not, but I don’t crack mirrors. I own a gift shop in a seaside town and carve cocks (not the chicken variety).

The fabulous Alex Corza designed the covers with a 1950s noir feel. I say covers because even before A Cock in the Window’s publication, it’s had more than one cover.

Steve (that’s my special someone) wanted to have a say in the cover but honestly, for a man as gorgeous as he is, he has no taste. Then again, look at his home (HINT: you’ll visit his home in the book). He’s just as quick to point out that at least you can see the surfaces in his home. This is true. My shop and flat are ‘cluttered’. This is a polite term, you understand.

He wanted this cover *nods below*. Jean who runs the local hairdressers saw the cover and pointed out rather tartly that no one had lost their arm – yet. In fact our killer is very neat. I’m not giving anything away here. It does say MURDER MYSTERY on the front. Steve sulked but he agreed once I took him to bed. My man is easily pleased and he pleases me.

Sue Brown cover with arm

This [below] was going to be the original cover, and winners of the blog tour will get an ebook with this cover. Sadly booksellers are throwing a wobbler at the moment so a less… um… suggestive cover will be on the book that is for sale. The fabulous Alexa Corza produced the covers for me and over the next few stops I’ll show you some more of the options on our journey.
Sue Brown cover with cock

Excerpt:

“People kill for the strangest of reasons.” Jean seems oblivious to the unspoken conversation flowing around her. “I remember my aunt being accused of murdering the woman next door over the affections of the milkman. Turns out it was the poor woman’s sister who bashed her brains in with a golf club, over some inheritance their grandmother had left them.”

That was so Jean I have to laugh, and Steve relaxes enough to chuckle.

“Kit, we have to go, but we’ll be back to talk to you about the shoot,” Jack says, adding hastily, “Of the short, not a person.”

“Cool.” I say goodbye to the boys, grinning to myself as they use the farewells to grope Steve.

By the end of it he’s mussed and really pleased when the door closes behind them.

Jean is highly amused. “I think I went into the wrong profession. I get all the old dears and you get hot young men. Where did I go wrong?”

“Don’t give me that,” I scoff. “I’ve seen the hot guys you’ve had working for you over the years and not all of them were gay.”

Jean gets a smug look on her face. “Well, some of the clients prefer a man taking care of them.”

“I know just how they feel,” Steve says, slapping my arse.

For an old lady Jean has a really dirty laugh. “I’ll leave you to it, boys.”

Sue can be found:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The blog tour finishes at http://ukgayromance.co.uk/ on Friday 20th December and prizes will be drawn at 10pm GMT. Leave a comment with your email address here or anywhere along the blog tour to take part.

My previous stops on the tour were at:
• 6th Dec. Sue Brown
• 7th Dec. Talon PS

My next stop is on Tuesday 10th at:
• Sara York

PRIZES

1st Prize – Wooden Cock
Plus a copy of A Cock in the Window with original cover (mobi, epub or PDF)
Plus $10 Amazon gift voucher

2nd prize – Wooden Cock
Plus a copy of A Cock in the Window with original cover (mobi, epub or PDF)

3rd Prize x3
A copy of A Cock in the Window with original cover (mobi, epub or PDF)

This is Lou Sylvre thanking Kit Stone for visiting, Sue Brown for writing the book, and Sue Brown again for two chances to win a wooden cock. Oh my.

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A Chinchilla Shifter? Alex Kidwell on Gumption and Gumshoes

Welcome author Alex Kidwell, here with a few words on challenging oneself as an author, and about her new book. She’s also given us a great excerpt! Read on, and note as always, click on the image for the buy link at the Dreamspinner Press store.

Thank you so much for allowing me to be here today! I’m really excited to be talking about my latest novel, Gumption & Gumshoes. It comes as a whole different tone for me and one that I had a lot of fun doing. G&G started as a prompt from a friend for a chinchilla shifter. What it became was a lighthearted book that nods towards film noir and deals with August Mendez, an overweight, under-motivated guy stuck in a dead end job. August’s most notable quality, in his eyes, is that he actually dared to move an hour away from his close knit herd.

Oh, yeah. And he can change into a furry little chinchilla.

When he gets the chance to pursue his dream and become a detective, things do not go as smoothly as he expected. There’s a case to work, evidence to gather, and oh yeah, his landlord. Sam Ewing, a bitter, older divorcee who gives August all kinds of nervous butterflies. When the two of them start working together, things get really interesting.

One of the most fun things for me, as a writer, to do is to challenge myself to take on new ideas or genres. I’d never really thought about doing a shifter novel before, but from the moment I got the idea of August, I couldn’t put the idea away.

I’d like to share with you an excerpt from Gumption & Gumshoes. It shows the first time we see August shifting, during the course of one of his investigations.

It was dark outside, starting to spit rain. The cars sloshed through the streets, lights reflecting in puddles like melted crayons. Sighing, I tugged on my fedora and power-walked the two blocks to my car. The spot I’d managed to find that morning wasn’t the greatest. And now I was blocked in by an oversized truck and a stupid sporty car that looked like a penis replacement. Fan-friggin-tastic.

Two inches forward. Stop. Reverse three inches. Stop. Crank the wheel left. Forward two inches. Over and over again, while I muttered curses and tried to remember how much my insurance deductible was. Finally I eked out of the spot, pulling out onto the main road and making my way back toward the dry cleaners.

By then I was later than I’d wanted to be, and I barely got parked in a good spot out front when the outside lights were turned off. I could see Jake and a woman who must be Tina moving around inside the shop, doing their closing duties, I imagined. The car engine pinged softly as it cooled, the rain spattered the windshield, and I slouched down in my seat, watching.

Just like a real detective.

Sometimes my life got cool all at once.

And sometimes it was forty-five minutes of sitting in my car, staring at two people mopping a floor. No one was twirling a mustache or tying anyone to train tracks. No obvious signs of chicanery. Just two employees trying to close up shop after a long day.

Damn.

</
Just when I was about to call it a night, there was a flare of light from the alley beside the dry cleaners. I caught sight of Tina taking out two large trash bags to toss them into the bins. When she walked back inside, though, I could still see the faint outline of the door; she hadn’t closed it properly behind her. On purpose? Or maybe the stolen money was leaving with the garbage.

Either way, I knew I had to get in that alley. I could see Tina and Jake turning off lights, moving toward the exit. I took my chance to duck out of my car, cursing quietly when it dinged at me for leaving the keys in the ignition. I darted into the alley, my eyes taking far too long to adjust to the dark. Tripping over my feet, I almost slammed my head into a wall, barely getting my hand up in time to save my nose. There was a flare of pain on my palm, and I hissed in a breath, looking down to barely make out the shimmer of blood. I’d scraped the skin off. Fantastic.

Shaking the sleeve of my hoodie down to cover it, I kept going. I wanted to take a look in those trash bags. The dumpster was sitting open, and I grabbed the closest garbage sack. There was the distinct sour scent of rotting things all mixed together with the pervasive piss smell all alleys seemed to have. Choking a little, eyes watering, I hauled the bag out and ripped it open. It was a lot of paper, huge clumps of lint like basketball-sized tumbleweeds, and I dragged it a little closer to the seam of light creeping out from the ajar door.

I dug through the garbage. There seemed to be a lot of receipts, huge handfuls of them, like they’d been ripped from a book and stuffed in here. I frowned, uncrumpling one, tipping it toward the light so I could read it better. It was just tallying up an order, although I had a momentary thought that it seemed like Petros was charging an awful lot for laundry.

“Hey!” The sharp voice broke my concentration, and I dropped the receipts I was holding, scrambling back. Jake was in the doorway, scowling at me. “What the fuck are you doing?”

Shit, shit, shit. I shoved myself away, stumbling as I struggled to my feet. I saw Jake’s big, meaty hand reaching out for my hoodie. Christ, if that guy caught me, I was mush.

So I took off running. I didn’t run a lot. Or ever. But now the not-so-jolly giant was chasing me, so it seemed like a really good time to start. Heaving in panicked breaths, my sneakers skidding on the wet pavement, I darted out across the street. Horns blared but I didn’t dare stop. I could hear him on my heels, cursing, the sound of his footsteps pounding behind me.

I was going to die. Holy fuck, that giant-ass man was going to kill me.

And that was when I realized I didn’t have my keys. I couldn’t get into the building.

Fuck.

Changing direction at the last second, I dodged into the alley that ran alongside my building. If I could double around, maybe get lost in the foot traffic the next street over, I could shake him. My heartbeat was throbbing in my ears, a stabbing pain in my side with every heaving breath I took. The fear slamming through me with every step, though, kept me desperately throwing myself forward.

The alley wasn’t very long. There were dumpsters and closed doors that I staggered my way past, no help in sight. It was pitch-black; I didn’t see the fence until I slammed into it full force. “No, no, no,” I muttered, frantically grabbing at the chain link, pulling it like I was suddenly going to Hulk out and be able to yank it out of my way.

I was trapped.

There were seconds until Jake came around the corner. There was no way I could face him like I was. So I did the only thing I could think of.

I changed.

It started as an itch in my nose, a prickle along my skin. The world got very big very quickly as I shrank down, the ground rushing up to meet me. The night world flared to life, scents and sounds filling my senses. And then I wasn’t human anymore. My nose twitched, ears pricking at the sound of footsteps. Two sets. I could smell one sweaty human; he stank like cigarettes and jerky. Jake appeared at the end of the alley, searching for me. But there was another man there, the tang of soap and beer, but more importantly behind him was an open doorway.

I zoomed off, nails skidding on the cement, hurtling myself toward the escape. There was the thunder of boots in my way, and I squeaked aloud in terror as I tried to correct course. Before I was stepped on, though, a hand reached down, wrapping around me. There wasn’t time for me to react before I was pushed gently into a huge pocket and left there to tremble. I had no fucking clue what had just happened.

Well, I did. I was a chinchilla in someone’s pocket.

Fuck.

Thank you again for letting me stop by and talk a little bit about G&G! It was a blast to write and I really hope people enjoy it as much as I did.
If anyone has questions or comments for me, I’m more than happy to chat.

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Filed under Author, guest authors, M/M romance, New M/M releases, Writers on writing

You Can Go Home Agan (and kick some ass when you do) Elizabeth Noble, Todd Ruger, and *Collared Souls*

Welcome Elizabeth Noble! Readers note that as usual on sylvre.com, the cover image is the buy link. Enjoy!
Collared Souls Elizabeth Noble Cover Paul Richmond
Elizabeth: Hello, and thank you to Lou Sylvre for giving me a spot on her blog. Actually this time the spot will go one of my favorite tough guys, Todd Ruger to answer a few questions.
Todd: Only one of your favorites?
Elizabeth: Shhh, we don’t want the others getting jealous. Lou doesn’t have all day, she has her own tough guys to cater to so, let’s dive right in.
Lou: Luki Vasquez you get back here right now! Todd is not going to bother Sonny at all. He loves Nick!
Elizabeth: Recently, within the covers of Collared Souls, you had to do something very difficult for you. Tell us about it.
Todd: You’ll have to be more specific, I was sort of kept busy start to finish with difficult things. You never gave me a moment’s rest.
Elizabeth: You and Nick had to return to the village Nick grew up in, Eldrid. How’d that go for you?
Todd: You wrote the book, don’t you remember?
Elizabeth: *clears throat* Why don’t you share, for all the nice readers?
Todd: Okay, no need to get testy. Taking Nick back there, the way we had to go about it, was a fat pain in the ass. Chancellor Clarke likes to pretend he’s our friend, but he really just uses us. I would have rather gone back for our own reasons, but that’s not how things worked out.
To be honest, it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Nicky was scared going back there, even though he did a great job of covering up how he felt. It was like a constant itch, the vibes I got from him the whole time we were there.
Elizabeth: But you both got things done?
Todd: Of course we did! I was a bit sad because I didn’t have a chance to blow the place up.
Elizabeth: You did speak to a very important person from Nick’s past, however.
Todd: Yeah, that was a highlight. See, Nick had a tutor the entire time he was growing up, a guy called Linn. He was a real prick and thought a good way to get a kid to behave was to hit them. I’ve spent a few years fantasizing about snapping the little twerp in half. I held back and only hit him a few times.
Elizabeth: There was another thing you did for Nick while you were there, can you tell us about it?
Todd: My biggest problem was making these people see Nick as my mate and a sentry. Not a little slave kid. He had strict instructions not to kneel to any of them. I had to make him stay on his horse to be sure and threaten to restrict his coffee drinking.
Luki: Oh my god!
Lou: Luki, relax. One more outburst and you’re out of here!
Elizabeth: The ultimate punishment for Nick!
Todd: You got that right.
Elizabeth: Thank you for sharing with us today.
Todd: Don’t you want to talk about the hidden archive, or the bombs and shooting, or… ?
Elizabeth: We don’t want to spoil things.
Todd: Not even my Dad?
Elizabeth: No. And don’t sulk.
Nick: Todd says I pout when I don’t get my own way. And I loved what he did to Tutor Linn. Talk about revenge.
Todd: Where’d you come from? Did you hear all that?
Nick: *nodding* Where do you think I came from? Don’t tell me I have to explain that to you.
Elizabeth: Nick, since you’re here, tell us, how did you feel going back to Eldrid.
Nick: There’s a saying ‘you can’t go home again’, but that’s not really true. You can go home, but you can’t go back to the way things were when you were a child. I could never have stepped foot in that village without Todd. He really made me see I could go back a different person, not a slave, but a sentry. Todd’s my hero.
Todd: *Groan* Maybe we should give these nice readers an excerpt.
Nick: And don’t forget the blurb.
Luki and Lou: Bye, you two. Thanks for stopping by!

Blurb:

Freedom is within reach for Todd and Nick Ruger, but their dreams of Elk’s Ridge are dashed by Vice-Chancellor Raleigh’s troops. With his mate imprisoned, Nick searches for help and finds an unlikely and unexpected ally, but Todd’s release leaves them once again in debt to Chancellor Clarke.

Their mission sends them to the small village of Eldrid in search of a historic record of owners and slaves with unique abilities. Eldrid holds even more secrets from the past—including the origins of sentries—as well as conspiracies of the present that are set to launch a new battle that will turn lover helplessly against lover. Though Todd and Nick know the realities of war are hard lessons, it will be a fight to draw on the strengths of their bond, survive, and learn to forgive.

Excerpt:

A large creek ran adjacent to the main road into the village, then around one side to the farm. Todd seemed to know there was an irrigation system from that creek to the farm, but he couldn’t remember if he’d seen it as a child or if Nick had told him. A wooden track had been built a few feet above the ground and wound through the farm and converged at the opposite end of the village to the creek. In several places it branched off and looped around parts of the village, following the gently rising and falling course of the land.

Small carts could be hand cranked or pulled along the tracks, moving harvested crops to various parts of Eldrid. Close to the main part of the creek was a mill, powered by a paddle wheel. Just beyond was a wooden watchtower, though Todd had never seen anyone inside when he’d passed through as a child and younger adult. He supposed it was probably more for weather keeping and observation, though at some point in the past it might have been used for security.

The entire village looked like it had been carved out of a mesa. The reddish-brown stone and adobe buildings were a stark contrast to the dull gray of the wood tracks and buildings that intermingled with those of rock and stone. Wooden steps had been built to wind around the taller rock-tower structures, with platforms leading to second story entrances of the wooden buildings.

Like the farm surrounding it, the village was horseshoe shaped, with a large, open space nestled in the middle of the three-quarter circle. It was that space the road led to, directing anyone coming into the village to the flat stone building housing the offices of the elders. Todd’s gaze was immediately drawn to the metal cages in the village center. At no time when he’d come here before taking Nick away with him had he ever seen anyone or anything in them, but Nick had told him sometimes children were put in them.
“Outsiders are always told those cages are for livestock. To keep them in temporarily when they are first shipped in, or just before they are shipped out,” Nick said softly. He was rubbing a small scar on the palm of his left hand. Todd realized that, wherever he looked, Nick’s gaze followed right along with him.

Todd picked up the reins of his horse and gently squeezed his calves against Arenite’s sides. At the same time, he clucked softly. As the horse set into motion again, Todd glanced over at Nick. “Let’s get this over with.”

Nick nodded and nudged Obi forward, staying back so Obi’s shoulder was even with Todd’s leg. Todd considered holding back until Nick was even with him, but the look on Nick’s face when he turned to his mate stopped Todd. Nick was tense and stressed just coming here. Pissing off the elders and tutors by having Nick ride abreast of Todd wasn’t going to help them and would simply increase Nick’s anxiety even more. Todd reached back, dug around in one of his saddlebags, and extracted Nick’s tether. He held it out to Nick. “Stick that in your pocket in case you need it fast.”

That forced Nick to urge Obi’s stride to lengthen so he could take the tether from Todd’s hand. When Todd glanced back as the tether transferred from Todd to Nick, Nick ducked his head and smiled shyly. Todd winked and returned Nick’s smile with one of his own.

Even though the village was a mixture of stone and wooden structures, where the slave children were housed and where their overseers lived was obvious. The stone structures had small gardens near their entrances, and some of the windows had flower boxes drilled into the stone. The weather in this part of the protectorate was warmer than in the north and more humid. Stone houses were cooler and more comfortable. Solar panels installed into the sides of each one and the windmills scattered around the village told Todd they were powered.

The slave dorms were the two-story wooden structures, all grouped to the eastern end of Eldrid, closer to the farm entrances and the grain mill. They had none of the amenities, such as window boxes or a place for gardens, the other structures had. Between that and the main part of the village was a small group of wooden buildings constructed into the rock.

“Those are the school buildings,” Nick said. Todd heard Obi trot a few steps, bringing Nick more even with him. “Up there”—Nick pointed to one of the second-story windows—“is where my room was. Behind that building is livestock barns. I used to work there and on the farm sometimes.” He tapped Todd’s shoulder and indicated another fenced-off area set between the farm and village, but more to the center. “See that?”

“Yeah.”

“Training and workout grounds. That’s where we’d have exercises, and those of us who did actual weapons training and hand-to-hand type stuff practiced there.” He pointed to a series of small buildings near the western edge of Eldrid. A few were freestanding, the others built into the side of one of the buttes, with wooden balconies and stairs leading from the ground to the entrances. “Those are the guest accommodations.”

“You don’t kneel.”

“Todd.” Nick’s eyebrows pulled together, and the muscle along his jaw knotted.

“I mean it, Nick. Not to these bastards. No coffee for a year.”
Todd’s gaze slipped to the side for a quick look at Nick. He winked, hoping to reassure his mate.

Links:
Website: http://www.elizabeth-noble.com
Additional link: http://coffeeunicorns.wordpress.com/
DSP Author Page: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/index.php?cPath=55_423

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Grace R Duncan:Choices, Research, and a chance for Swag

After an unintentioanal hiatus, sylvre.com is back this week, hosting Grace R Duncan. What better way to break our silence? Take a moment to feast eyes on the wonderful cover by Paul Richmond (who just keeps getting better in this bloggers opinion), check out her bio and links, and then scroll down for Grace’s engaging post. And yeah, there’s swag! (As is usual on sylvre.com, click the cover for the buy link.)

Born and raised a gypsy in the late eleventh century, Teman values freedom over everything. He and his best friend, Jasim, are thieves for hire—until one night they’re caught and their precious freedom is revoked. Given the choice between the dungeons or palace pleasure slavery, they become slaves, but Teman vows to escape someday.

Bathasar doesn’t want the throne. He supports his brother instead, which suits their sadistic father, Mukesh. When Teman, the handsome slave Bathasar has secretly been watching, saves his life, Bathasar requests a slave for the first time. Before long, Bathasar and Teman fall in love. But all is not well. One day Mukesh brutalizes Teman before the court, angering the empress of a neighboring nation. To appease her, he then offers her Jasim as a gift, and Teman decides to stay with Bathasar for now—despite the abuse he may suffer.

The peace doesn’t last. Mukesh plans to invade Jasim’s new country, and Bathasar must find a way to stop the destruction. But if he succeeds, he’ll ascend to the throne and have the power to grant Teman his liberty. Then Teman will surely leave him. What other choice could a gypsy make?

Grace R. Duncan grew up with a wild imagination. She told stories from an early age—many of which got her into trouble. Eventually, she learned to channel that imagination into less troublesome areas, including fanfiction, which is what has led her to writing male/male erotica.

A gypsy in her own right, Grace has lived all over the United States. She has currently set up camp in East Texas with her husband and children—both the human and furry kind. She also teaches information technology classes at a local college.

As one of those rare creatures who loves research, Grace can get lost for hours on the internet, reading up on any number of strange and different topics. She can also be found writing fanfiction, reading fantasy, crime, suspense, romance, and other erotica, or even dabbling in art.

Contact information:

Today, I want to talk about another portion of worldbuilding: history and politics. Like any other aspect of creating a world, it requires research because if I wanted to build a reasonably believable political system, I had to have something real to base it on. Politics in Choices matters because it affects the possible outcome of quite a bit


So I had to consider my political system carefully. I knew it was a monarchy, that part was easy, but not all monarchies are made the same and that was where I had to decide how it would work. Yet again, I ventured out to research.

Now, I am a history buff. I love history. I can read some of the driest stuff and still enjoy it more than almost anyone else (except maybe my history prof in college. That guy was quite insane. Wonderful, but insane.). But political systems and the various forms of monarchy soon had my eyes crossing. I decided that since the political system played a part but I didn’t have to be intricate about it, I’d go with a simplified version of the English system with Arabic names.
Part of my research led me to a delightful publication from the Society for Creative Anachronisms. Someone had done a good deal of research on using Arabic forms of address and naming within the SCA and I found it very helpful. It really made it easy for me to choose my titles and such for Neyem’s political system.

It also helped that I already knew I didn’t want to use sheik or sultan. Those titles have been overdone to the extreme in media, especially in romance. I wanted something different. I was very happy to see malik on the list and as soon as I spotted it, I knew I had my titles.

With that, the rest fell into place quickly. There was no malika (or malik’s wife), but I had two amirs – Bathasar, the crown amir and his brother, Seth. I didn’t want things too complicated. The English have an almost ridiculous number of nobility and the titles to go with it. Thanks to A.F. Henley and his research for Honour, I was well acquainted with just how complicated it could be. If I didn’t want to get lost in trying to keep it straight (and if I couldn’t, I knew my readers couldn’t), then I had to simplify.

Following the recommendations from the SCA publications, I chose a few other titles. They never made it into Choices, but will definitely make appearances in Deception. The one title I did use in Choices other than malik and amir was sayyid, meaning Lord. But as I wrote Deception, I had to include more ranks because more of the nobility would be making appearances, so it was time to choose.

Mushir, or duke was to me, a given. I’ve always liked the title of duke and the address of “Your Grace” (name puns not intended) really appealed to me. So that was easy. Next on the list was qadi – loosely count. Every time I hear the word “count”, I have unfortunate images of muppets crossed with Bela Lugosi pop into my head. But the next in line – viscount (naqib) wasn’t much better, so for simplicity, I stuck with qadi and moved on.

Next was one I’d wanted to avoid. Sheik. But I found a different spelling —shayk—that, at least, looked a bit better and I snatched at that one. I know it is, in the end, the same thing, but it worked better in my head. That was the English baron and, as far as the English are concerned, the last of the “Peerage”. From there, it includes Knight, which I liked (or faris) and the aforementioned sayyid.

It’s amazing how much can go into putting together what amounts to little more than a few dozen lines of text. I’d done hours of research and when I sat down to write this and saw how little of it made it in, I had to laugh at myself. Hopefully, it’ll work in Deception, though and it won’t be too wasted.
Neyem is, of course, not the only country in my world. As I mentioned in my post yesterday, the other two prominent nations are Saol and Tiantang. Saol was easy. Everything else had been based off of Medieval England and its political system was no different. Thankfully, I didn’t have to get specific as it hasn’t (as yet) been mentioned, so I could simply pick it and move on.

Tiantang, on the other hand, was more complicated. Because their empress was a main figure in the story, I had to give more thought to how that all worked. So, once more, to the Internet.

It turned out to be easier than I thought. Some basic research into Chinese history yielded information that showed that China’s dynastic period wasn’t too far off of a basic monarchy with a single ruler and nobility. It does, of course, change over time, but as I could choose for myself which I wanted to go with, keeping my eye ever on that simplicity, then a basic model with an emperor (or empress), some noble titles and not much else would work well.

It was even better that I didn’t need to consider the nobility themselves – yet. I have promised a short story to a very dear friend of mine featuring Jasim and his empress, Jielan. I have a feeling the Tiantang nobility will be much more prominent in that story. Even so, I can’t leave something like that unresearched and funny enough, when I looked… lo and behold the titles were not-so-amazingly similar to… you guessed it, British Peerage.

Duke (gōng), marquis (hó), count (bó), viscount (zǐ), and baron (nán) were all there. The Chinese didn’t, as far as I researched, include knights or lords so that made things quite neat. This, of course, changed often with the different dynasties, some using no titles and others getting even more complicated, but for my purposes, this worked and made me very happy.

I would never have thought I’d be working out a full political system for a book. When I sat down to write Choices, I had no idea just how much I’d put into it. I’m glad I had the chance to, though, because it was a great learning experience.

Now, if you haven’t fallen asleep, I’d love to hear from you. Do you like to read about these things in fiction? Or would you prefer to leave the intricacies of peerage and titles out of it? Any comments get you entered for a chance to win some great swag!

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Conversation with Cardeno’s C’s Characters–or, the characters tell all

On a particularly busy Sunday in EC West, we joined our friends from Cardeno C.’s Home series for brunch. In between mimosas and food, we caught up with Noah and Clark (from Home Again), Micah and Ben (from Just What the Truth Is), Jake and Nate (from Where He Ends and I Begin), Jonathan and David (from Love at First Sight), Zach and Aaron (from He Completes Me), and TJ and Finn (from the free series of shorts posted at www.cardenoc.com). We’re grateful to Amanda, Anita, Wilbert, Monique, and Jonathan for sharing what they learned with us.

Zach, are you still having to visit the craft room when you visit Aaron’s family or is Mimi a little easier to take now?
Zach picked up his glass and swallowed down his mimosa before answering.

“Oh, shit yeah. Mimi’s nice and she dotes on Aaron, which is cute as hell. But when we go visit we’re usually there for a whole week and it’s fuckin’ chaos the entire time.” He rolled his eyes. “Hanging out in the craft room with the other in-laws is the only break I get.” Then he set his glass down and leaned forward, whispering conspiratorially. “Just don’t tell Aaron about that, okay? It’s top secret classified blah blah blah.”

We didn’t realize Aaron had walked up behind us until he we heard his voice.

“What if I already know?” he said.
Zach flew up from his chair and turned around. Aaron smiled at him and took his seat, then he pulled Zach down onto his lap and kissed his cheek.
“Don’t worry about it, babe. I realize those trips to see my family can be a lot and you’re amazing the whole time. Besides, I think it’s nice that you and Jane and Cliff spend time together.”
Aaron, you said next time you wouldn’t be so weird about being topped by Zack, so was there a next time? If so were you ever relaxed enough to really enjoy it?
Aaron’s neck and cheek turned bright red and Zach started laughing hysterically.
“Fuck, Aaron, it’s not a secret that we’re screwing, why’re you so embarrassed about it?” Zach shook his head. “The man’s hopeless. Don’t worry, though, it freaks him out to talk about sex, but he’s got no problem with actual execution.” He patted Aaron’s arm. “Are you going to answer the nice lady’s question?”
Aaron opened his mouth but no words came out. He looked so panicked, that Zach stepped in.
“I got this, big guy. Yes, we tried it again, because he wanted to. And it was better than last time. But the reality is, bottoming isn’t his thing and topping isn’t mine. Soooo, let’s just say, that’s never going to become a regular item on the menu.”

Do you guys see marriage in the future at any point? And given how much Aaron loves kids, any more thought on kids?
“Absolutely,” Aaron answered.
Zach’s eyes widened. “Seriously?” he asked Aaron. “When did you decide this?”
Aaron furrowed his brow. “Umm, probably about thirty seconds after you walked into Kimmy’s kitchen and I felt my heart race. You know that, babe, I’d love to be able to marry you. The day it’s legal, I’ll be down on one knee.”
“Oh,” Zach sighed in relief. “You were answering the marriage question.”
Aaron started laughing. “Course I was. I haven’t changed my mind about kids, and even if I did, I wouldn’t spring that on you at brunch.”
“I would, you know,” Zach nuzzled Aaron’s neck and spoke quietly into his ear. “If you want kids, I’ll do it, big guy.”
Aaron cupped Zach’s cheek. “I know. But I want you all to myself, so it isn’t an issue.”

Noah, Clark, what about the two of you? Do you think you’ll ever have kids? And how are things with Noah’s folks now that his big brother, Ben, has the twins?
“Lilah and Raphi are the best,” Clark answered. “We love being uncles.”
Noah nodded. “They’re cute as hell and I think they’ll be even more fun when they get older. Sometimes I think about what it’d be like to have our own, but family is …” He let the thought trail off and shrugged.
Clark curled his hand around the back of Noah’s neck and stroked his tattoo with this thumb.
“Things are getting better with Noah’s parents,” Clark said. Noah snorted. “But there’s still a ways to go,” Clark continued, calmly. “It might help speed things up if we spent as much time with them as Ben and Micah.”
“Right,” Noah scoffed. “Because when we have down time, I want to go hang out with my parents so they can look at us like we’re circus freaks. No thank you. Ben’s doing fine, he doesn’t need me there, so why bother?”
“They don’t think we’re circus freaks, sweetheart,” Clark replied. “It’s just that this is still hard for them and they’re not used to it. But at least they’re trying now. You know, they’re never going to get comfortable around us if we’re not there.”
“It’s not my job to make my parents comfortable. They need to get over their issues. Or they don’t. I don’t give a shit either way,” Noah said in an angry tone.
“I know you don’t, Noah. But Ben does. Your brother cares a lot. You know how much it means to him to get your family reconnected.”
Noah gazed into Clark’s eyes for several long seconds. “Ben, Micah, and the kids are coming over for dinner next weekend, right?” he said quietly. “I’ll call my parents to see if they want to come over too.”

So, Noah, you’re spending time with your brother now. When you were kids, did you miss not having a good relationship with Ben? Do you ever regret pushing him away?
“Honestly?” Noah asked and shook his head. “Nope. You have to understand, I didn’t know what Ben was going through back then. He seemed like Mister Shiny Happy to me. We lived in two different worlds as far as I was concerned, and I was too pissed off to think about wanting a good relationship with him. And as far as regrets …” Noah shrugged. “Why bother, you know? Shit happened, it’s over, and we’re all good now.” He brushed his hands together. “Done and done.”

Noah, you used to want Clark to be more dominant in the bedroom and now he is. But how would you feel if Clark wanted you to be the dominant one in the bedroom for a while?
“Thankfully, he doesn’t want that. I’d give Clark anything, but …” Noah shook his head. “He’s my angel, you know? I wouldn’t ever want to hurt him. I know that sounds weird, ‘cause of what I like him to do to me, but …” Noah shrugged. “It is what it is. What we’re doing works for both of us.”

David and Jonathan, What did y’all end up doing with the “Will Dragon” disk?
“Uh,” David pursed his lips and racked his memory. “I don’t remember seeing it at all after that first day I had it. I have no idea where it is.”
“I broke it into a million pieces with a hammer and then trashed it,” Jonathan supplied helpfully.
“You did?” David asked in surprise.
“Mmm, hmm. I mean, I didn’t want to take the chance on Sam somehow stumbling onto it. I sure don’t have any interest in seeing it. And you said you didn’t need to watch. So I figured, why keep it, you know?”
David draped one arm around Jonathan’s neck and the other around his waist. “Hey,” he whispered. “I’m sorry I didn’t think about Sam seeing it or about what you’d want to do with it. I guess I just—”
“Going on five years and you didn’t think about it at all. It didn’t matter to you. I know,” Jonathan said and kissed David softly. “And I love that about you.”

I decided it was my lucky day when Aaron got a call from his cousin, Jake, during brunch and I got to ask a question that had been on my mind. Jake, you told Mama C that you could handle the guilt of what happened the night of the accident. And I know you feel that you are protecting Nate by not telling him, but do you ever feel guilty about not being honest with him about that night when you are honest in all other aspects of y’all’s relationship?
“Fuck no. Nothing good can come to Nate from knowing about that. Honesty is one thing. Hurting him to make myself feel better is something else entirely. I try not to remember my parents in the context of that one crappy moment. We had years of great times and I focus on those. But I’d be lying if I told you that I could keep it out of my head all the time. I remember the way my mom was hunched in the car. I remember the look in my dad’s eyes. And I remember knowing that I’d never see them again. If Nate had been awake, he’d have probably figured out a way to save them, but I don’t have his brilliant mind.” A pause and a loud sigh came over the phone. <strong.“Do I feel guilty?” Jake asked, his voice rough. “Yeah, but not about keeping that awful shit from Nate. And not about choosing him. I just wish I had been able to save them too.”

Micah and Ben, how often does Micah’s mom come to visit the twins? And does she make you nuts while she’s there?
“My mom comes in about one weekend every month and we try to get out there every few months,” Micah answered. “She spends a lot of time with Raphi and Lilah, she cooks up a storm and fills our freezer with meals that last a couple of weeks, and she’s really good to Ben.”
“Don’t you love how he answered your question without actually answering it?” Ben laughed. “Deborah’s the best, but she does make Micah nuts sometimes.” He looked at Micah and winked. “Either that or it’s a coincidence that when she’s here you often remember a really critical project at the office that requires you to go in unexpectedly.”

Speaking of family, Ben, how is your relationship with Noah? Is it still somewhat tense?
“Tense? No, definitely not. Tense was most of our childhood when Noah was pissed off at our family and sometimes the world and I was hiding and pretending everything was okay. Things between us now are better than they’ve ever been, which is amazing considering …” Ben dragged his hands through his chestnut hair and sighed dejectedly. “I messed up so many times. The things I said to Noah, the way I treated Clark, I … I know I don’t deserve their forgiveness but—”
Micah put his hand on Ben’s bicep and squeezed lightly. “Come one, honey, don’t be so hard on yourself. You made mistakes. That makes you human. Your brother and Clark realize that and they’ve forgiven you. Maybe it’s time you forgave yourself.”

Micah, would you have been as forgiving to Ben as you were if he was a commitment-phobe as opposed to someone who ended up being severely repressed?
“I was frustrated with Ben because I didn’t understand why he kept pulling back and, frankly, freaking out. Once he explained what he’d been going through, a lot of his actions made sense. But the most important thing to me was that Ben was committing to put himself in the relationship. I wasn’t interested in chasing someone that wasn’t ready to settle down or wasn’t interested in me. With those issues resolved, there was no keeping me away from Ben. I mean, have you met my guy? He’s incredibly sweet, has a giving heart and a sharp mind, he’s fun to be around, and he is seriously hot.”

TJ, Finn mentioned a man at your office that gives you strange looks? Is it Ben Forman?
“Oh, God!” TJ cringed. “If I have any hope of making partner, I better pray word of that little comment I made doesn’t get out. Micah would surely find some way to make me wish I was dead or something if he thought I was bad-talking Ben.”
“Oh, please,” Finn rolled his eyes. “Ben all but apologized to you for all that. He knows he used to act weird. I’m sure it’s not a secret to Micah. Besides, it’s all in the past, right?”
“Course. Ben’s been great for awhile now.” TJ furrowed his brow. “Actually, he’s been better since around the time he and Micah got together. I guess true love ‘ll do that to you.”
“Either that or great sex.” Finn shrugged.
TJ nodded thoughtfully. “True,” he said. “Speaking of which, are you ready to go home?”

You can learn more about these characters and find information about Cardeno C.’s Home series at www.cardenoc.com.

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Rhys Ford: Babbling for Lou’s Pleasure.

This morning I woke up kind of late and ambled about. Made coffee. Let the dogs out to pee. The normal morning stuff. Booted up my laptop, Kai (all the best laptops have names), and read my email. And saw the alert that I owed a post on Lou’s blog. Swear to God, thought I had a day or so. I didn’t panic. I’m a writer! I can blog about anything!

I’d actually been kicking around a few ideas but none of them seemed to hold anything but a passing interest. Kind of like a dot of ink you find on your hand and you wonder… how did that get there?

So I promptly turned my laptop off and found a brush to clean the fans out with. Then I wiped down the keyboard with the brush to release any extra cat hair and cleaned the screen and keyboard with a damp paper towel.

I was THINKING! Damn it. It counts!

And I kept coming back to one thing… music. Which then jumped me over to styles of writing. Don’t judge me. My brain’s broken. I’m not wired right. Known that for years. Focus, focus, focus… *deep breath*… OOOOO SHINY! No judging! It’s a wonder I get anything done. But music!

Music plays a big part in my writing. I have entire playlists of songs to help me write and I’ll listen to them depending on the mood of what the chapter is or the scenes that are going to unfurl. Since I use an EXTREMELY loose plot, the music I’m listening to helps drive the scenes. Especially those scenes where I can throw everything in my brain at the page and see what sticks.

For the most part, I’ll find myself in something relatively mindless and driving. Kpop usually is where I’m at during the majority of the scenes. A driving beat helps me and it helps me focus on what I’m doing.

Something like this: Kim Junsu (Xia, Part of JYJ) Tarantellega

Sex scenes are different. God, they are different. They’re impossible at times because really, you want to make Tab A going into Slot B interesting. There are a lot of feet, tongues and fingers to keep track of and there’s always the question; did I have him on his back or stomach… goes back to reread.

So those kind of scenes require something different… something more mellow and melodic. Darker if you will. Like VAST’s Touched.

I was going to put Pretty When You Cry but it’s not my blog so I didn’t want to inflict that on Lou. Love the song. The video can be disturbing for people.

Action scenes? A HEAVY dose of AC/DC and Metallica. There are others… Classic Rock, a HUGE collection of Blues songs, Janis Joplin, Stevie Ray Vaughan and well, J-rock too. I use them to drive where I’m going. Because honestly, writers HATE writing.

Oh we start off loving it and then somewhere along the 40,000 word mark, it becomes a demon that suckles us dry and we are flailing about trying to scrape some sense of the scenes and dialogue and just everything. We become so immersed in the world and characters that we literally cannot see the forest for the trees.

Hello. I am here to nestle into your brain.

But you see, for me… music is a cue to dream. I can bathe in it. Let if flow over me. I can drink it in and let it wash away the dregs of the world that are clinging to me. It allows me to take that step into the forest where I’m a bit lost and cursing the darkness because I don’t have a single candle to light. Music is that candle. It’s that flash of starlight and moonshine to light up the way.

I know people who need absolute quiet when they write. I can’t imagine that. I can’t imagine the vacuum of melodic sound, the lack of auditory colour to help paint the scene. It helps me get through that last 40,000 words when I’m swearing at the minute specks of a storyline that seem to disappear when I reach out for them. Damned will o’ wisps.

So in all of that, a question emerges. What do YOU need in order to do certain things? A cup of tea while knitting? Television on while you eat? Silence while reading? Let me know. ::::grins:::

Oh, and I also need coffee. Trust me on that. Lots of coffee.

And a clean laptop.

 

 

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From Elizabeth Noble: The Future is What We Make It (Plus an excerpt from upcoming release, *Chained Hearts*

I like the future. It can be a very cool and interesting place to hang out. Writing in the future means I can take that time and setting and make it whatever and however I’d like it to be.

The Sentries is a series that takes place three hundred years in the future. This is a future that hails back to the past. It’s not a high tech future. The culture and society in general have changed. The world of Sentries was created by a natural disaster occurring, for the characters Todd and Nick Ruger, three hundred years in their past. Things have changed between now and then.

I wanted a totally different society for my series, and since I stayed on planet Earth for this one, I needed to do something with the society we have now. Being basically lazy and wanting to take the easy route I did the only logical thing I could think of: I blew ours up.

Don’t you just hate it when some schmo comes along and blows up the modern world?

I suppose it was messy and scary and there was chaos for a while, but for the Ruger guys that was way, way in the past, so what the reader knows of those scary, messy, chaotic days are on par with what the Rugers know. I’m currently writing book four of the series, and the Rugers will know a whole lot more about those days by the end of it, which means so will the rest of us.

However, that’s in the future.

Let’s go back to the Sentries and the future.

Creating a different society wasn’t my only motivation for using the future. I needed a place and time where my characters, those delightful Ruger men, could be what I wanted them to be and here and now wasn’t that place, or time.

I’ve had more than one reader comment on the fact that the future in Sentries isn’t bleak and barren, people aren’t struggling to survive, and they’re not starving. My question is why does it have to be that way? Firstly, it’s not logical to think three hundred years after even a globally devastating natural disaster, that humans wouldn’t have at least partially gotten their act together and rebuilt something. Secondly, there is no reason good can’t evolve from horrible.

In Sentries there are cities, farms, politics, coffee and pancakes along with a few paranormal baddies to be dealt with. There is also something else, and that is what is more important, to me at least.

Ever since I started reading and writing in the M/M genre I’ve been seeing blog posts discussing the fact that women can’t write about gay men because women have no idea what it’s like to be a gay man. I’ve even heard tell there are gay men who will not read anything written by a woman concerning the relationships of gay men.

For me, personally the gender of the author isn’t important as long as they tell me a good story, but I’ll concede to the fact that not everyone feels the same way. Do I know what it’s like to be a gay man? Well, no. I’m not even sure I know what it’s like to be a straight woman.

What I do know and understand is what it’s like to be discriminated against for reasons that are just silly.

See, I was divorced when my oldest child was only seven, he has two younger siblings. Before that I was a child of a divorced couple and for some reason people seem to think untraditional families of any sort produce people (male or female, gay or straight) that are somehow damaged. I had friends in school whose parents blatantly refused to allow their children to interact socially with me since I was from “a broken home”. I had a very nice home and was given a good education.

Twenty plus years later my own children were told they weren’t welcome in this family’s home or that child’s birthday party because—go ahead, gasp in horror—yes, they came from a broken home! Our home wasn’t broken, I fixed it and I now have three successful adult children with decent jobs and their own homes.

I may not be a gay man, but I sure do understand what it’s like to be judged (falsely) by others simply because my life is different from theirs.

What does all this have to do with blowing up the world as we know it, two guys in love with one another who fight paranormal baddies, drink coffee, like pancakes, and the future in general?

Quite a bit, actually, in a roundabout sort of way.

I detest discrimination against anything for any reason. One method I try to fight it on a personal level is via the books I write. This is where we go back to the future (loved those movies by the way). In the Sentries version of the future things are different, they have changed. One of those changes is same sex unions are perfectly normal and acceptable.
My most favorite books, movies, stories of any sort are filled with action, adventure as well as a smattering of romance. Sentries is a series set in the future, with lots of action, tons of adventure and a smattering of romance between two main characters who happen to both be men. It’s sort of my own, little, personal way of protesting those that might discriminate against someone because they prefer a partner/spouse/soul mate who is not the opposite sex.

I purposely don’t make a big deal out of the fact that Todd and Nick are both men; I do make a big deal out of the fact they are very in love with one another. The Rugers are a family in their eyes and I hope in the eyes of the reader.

The words homosexual or gay are not used in the series because I like to imagine a future where those are not words used to describe people. A world where one is not judged by whom they are attracted to or lovFroe, where it doesn’t matter if your family isn’t what we today consider traditional and ‘right’.

My take on the future is best summed up by the words of Doc Brown in Back to the Future III “…It means your future hasn’t been written yet. No one’s has. Our future is whatever you make it. So make it a good one, both of you.”

There is no reason we, as a society, can’t make a future where tags such as gay aren’t what defines people. The future is what we make of it and I chose to try and make it a more tolerant place, unless of course, you’re some paranormal baddie that needs dispatching. In that case, watch out, because Todd and Nick will getcha!

Thank you Lou for allowing me to take up your blog and ramble on it.

From Chained Hearts, book 3 of the Sentries series:

Blurb:

Todd and Nick Ruger are alive and on the run in the Yellowknife Protectorate, but maybe not for long. After narrowly escaping New Colorado, where they were implicated in the assassination of Chancellor Shaffer, they’re running out of steam: Todd is gravely ill and Nick’s injured. Just when it seems like the harsh winter will get the best of them, they find refuge with a doctor in the isolated town of Elk’s Ridge.

On the surface, Elk’s Ridge seems the ideal place to rebuild their lives. Nick begins training as the doctor’s apprentice, and Todd works in a lumberyard until they’re recovered enough to return to their duties as Sentries. They make friends, forge a new life, and most importantly, there’s no sign of anyone from New Colorado.

They should have known it was too good to be true. Victor Raleigh, the new Vice Chancellor of New Colorado, knows all about Nick’s psychic abilities, and he wants them in his corner. When Nick is betrayed and captured, Todd sees no alternative but to head back to the war zone to rescue him. But will Nick be the same man Todd loves after Raleigh’s pet psychic vampire is through with him?

Excerpt:

Movement from the direction of Nick drew Todd’s attention. His mate rolled to his butt, sitting there leaning on one hand, legs half stretched in front of him and crossed just below his knees. Shaggy, dark hair was brushed away from his face and sleep-blurry eyes blinked at Todd making his young mate look even younger…more like a sleep tousled little boy.

There was no way Todd could, or would even try, to stop the smile from spreading over his face. Scooting closer to Nick, he combed his fingers through Nick’s hair, appreciating how soft it was. He pressed a gentle kiss to Nick’s forehead. “Morning.”

One side of Nick’s mouth twitched up for a second before he yawned.

“Christ, Nick, some days you make me feel like a pedophile.”

Nick yawned again, scratched at his chest and mumbled out, “huh?” Inching along the ground until he wedged himself between Todd’s legs and laid his head on Todd’s shoulder, face pressed against the side of his neck. Nick yawned again. His entire body relaxed as he nestled against Todd, ribcage expanding with yet another yawn.

“Lemme see this.” Todd lifted Nick’s shirt and inspected the bandaged wound as he had earlier. “According to the map there’s a town not too far from here, how about we check it out, see if there is somewhere we can get some supplies? We need more bandaging material and more medicine to put on this. I’m going to heat some water and get it cleaned out again.”

“I don’t think it’s ever going to heal.” Nick grumbled. “It’s been almost a month.”

“I wouldn’t mind finding a doctor to take a look at it either.” Todd smoothed Nick’s shirt back into place and took a deep breath. “Nick, you keep having those nightmares.”

“How are we going to explain this kind of wound?”

Tapping Nick’s nose with one finger, Todd warned, “No changing the subject.”

“I’m sorry. I can’t stop them, they keep coming.”

“Don’t be sorry, it’s not your fault. We need to work on stopping them.” Easing away from Nick, Todd stood up. Moving farther from the wagon he got a fire started and set a pot of water on to heat. Nick wandered off to the nearby river. Todd grabbed his clothes and headed after his mate. He’d considered the possibility Nick was right and the kelbit did have a mate who was somehow able to infiltrate Nick’s dreams. More likely it was trauma. Nick’s ability to sense evil entities also made him incredibly sensitive emotionally. That trait didn’t always work for them which strengthened his resolve to find them somewhere bigger than their wagon to stay.

Once they were done washing in the cool water, Nick quietly sat by the fire, naked from the waist up, while Todd scrubbed out the round bite wound, smeared some more of the antiseptic cream over it and applied a fresh bandage. The only sign of discomfort Nick let show was the occasional hissed in breath and a shifting of his shoulders forward. After the cream was smoothed over him, he turned and looked over his shoulder, rubbing at it with one hand. “That makes it feel better.”

“How about we get a real meal in town? It should be over that rise, it’s called Elk’s Ridge, and from the looks of it on the map it’s a decent sized town. Then we can hit a store if they have one. We’ll need somewhere for the winter, this area is as good as any I suppose. If we want we can head out again in the spring, but for now we have enough money to get us through.”

“We can always get work, Todd. There will be lots of our sort of problems kicked up by the war.”

“Not until that wound is healed we don’t. Besides, time to give it a break for a bit I think, and stay as far away from that war as we can. I hope if they have a store there is a post office so we can send our letter to Jimmy and maybe get a newspaper, see what we’re missing.”

Nick nodded and pulled his shirt over his head then the sweatshirt Todd had given him on their first day together and he still insisted on wearing. They dowsed the fire and packed their camp into the wagon before securing the team, choosing instead to ride the saddle horses into town.

“We can’t ride the same horse?” Nick stood beside Obi, looking up at Todd who was already sitting on the other horse. “What if it’s a problem, me on a horse?”

Motioning to Nick to mount up, Todd smiled softly. “It’ll be okay. No law says you can’t ride one as long as you’re with me. I know you like when we ride together better, but we’re going to need both horses and the packs to haul back supplies.”

“No law in New Colorado,” Nick grumbled and swung onto the horse.

“I doubt the laws in Yellowknife are much different, but if they are we’ll worry about it then.”

Nick didn’t say anything else, simply nodded and nudged Obi into motion, keeping close enough to Todd their legs brushed as the horses moved. The town, Todd discovered, was a pleasant one. There was maybe around a thousand inhabitants, smaller than the tens of thousands who lived in bigger cities like New Colorado City or Yellowknife City, but not so small that they were totally unaccustomed to people passing through.

Even as far north as it was, it was a hub for travelers which was immediately evident by the several number of inns. There were also a few cafes and restaurants, a larger sized livery, libraries and a fair amount of homes scattered around the outskirts and farther out in the countryside. Leaving their horses in the care of the livery, they decided to hike around and check the place out.

The buildings were mostly stone and wood with slate and shingle roofs. The streets were cobblestone or brick paved with wide, wooden sidewalks on either side. This was a little oasis of civilization in the rugged, mostly uninhabited far northern part of the Rocky Mountains.

Their first stop was a café a few blocks over from the livery. The letter to Jimmy started a few days ago was finished while they waited for their meal. Todd was pleased that people here had slaves, he’d seen several on their trip through and no one seemed much fussed over how he treated Nick. In fact this town reminded him of the New Colorado City neighborhood he’d chosen to live in, where more of the owners and slaves were a part of a family.

The fact Todd was a stranger and there with a slave drew little attention other than a few people greeting them on the street. As he’d always done, Nick’s tether was hooked to his collar and then tucked into his back pocket making it easy to grab if needed.

Todd got a good feeling from the town, people who minded their own business and were open to newcomers, not that he was ready to find a real estate office just yet, but this was definitely a place to check out more closely. They would probably be fine if they could find a small cabin or even a cave for the winter, keep an eye on the town and decide if this was where they wanted to live.

“The coffee here is good.” Nick had finally stopped shoveling food in and was leaning back in his chair, looking up and down the street. He looked content and was smiling, another good sign as far as Todd was concerned.

When they left the café there was a five-pound bag of coffee beans to add to their packs. The doctor, they discovered, lived just west of the town and outside of it on a small piece of property. If he didn’t find something for Nick’s shoulder in town then Todd decided a visit to the doctor was in order.

They wandered down the street to the next main intersecting street and took a right, walking along. There was a large store not far from the intersection; they’d gotten directions from a waiter at the café. It took up nearly half the block. It was several stories high, a store on the main floor, lodging on the second floor and whatever was on the third wasn’t open to the public, but Todd suspected it was storage. He could see houses behind the store that were attached to it. Probably whatever family owned it lived in those houses.

As they walked through Nick was all eyes, checking out everything, making Todd smile. It’d been a while since he’d truly seen Nick’s insatiable curiosity come bouncing to the forefront and it gave him hope his young mate would be on the mend if they stuck around this area for a while. Heading toward the back where there was a counter, and looking beyond it Todd did indeed see that there was someone’s home.

Two small children, a boy and girl, maybe about four years old came running from behind the counter. They were small, blond, cute, looked like twins and nearly ran Todd over.

“Whoa, whoa, easy there,” he laughed and scooped one kid—the girl—up, swung her around and set her on the counter all while deftly sidestepping away from the little boy plowing into his shins. Nick covered his mouth and snickered.

“Oh my gosh, I am so sorry. Karen, Kieron you’re both supposed to be in the house helping Nana not annoying our customers. Now go.” A woman about Todd’s age rushed after them. She was small, equally as blond as her children with crystal blue eyes and had long, wavy hair that fell to below her shoulders. She offered Todd a dazzling smile. “I am very sorry. What can I do for you?”

A quick glance back at Nick who was brushing his hair back from his face and looking a little grumpy and Todd stepped up to the counter after the little girl, Karen, vacated it for the house and her Nana. The woman’s gaze flashed to Nick for a brief instant before landing back on Todd. He hoped he really didn’t look like some kind of pedophile after all. His mate looked too damn young sometimes. Todd resisted the urge to blurt out Nick was twenty-three.

“Do you have any postal service here?” Todd fished the letter out of his coat pocket.

Nick stepped up behind him and dropped to one knee, arms crossed over his bent one, he looked around the store casually. Todd knew that for what it was, Nick’s little bouts of jealousy hadn’t bothered him since the night he’d chased after his mate. Nick behaved this way the most when he wanted reassurance from Todd, he understood that and found giving Nick his needed security and letting it ride was his best course of action. He let one hand drop casually to his side and moved it back far enough to skim across Nick’s hair for a few seconds before bring it back up to rest on the counter. Todd didn’t often demand Nick take a kneeling position behind him, but wanted Nick to know when he chose to do so on his own, Todd completely understood the reasoning behind Nick’s actions and that Nick would never be reprimanded.

“We do.” She held out her hand and Todd set the envelope with their letter to Jimmy in her palm. It took her a minute to weight it and figure the postage, she chatted away at him while she worked. “I’m Amelia Wilbourne and you’ve met my children. Are you new in town or passing through?”

He also found out in those few minutes she was a widow, her husband killed earlier the year before. She lived with her grandparents and children. Her brother and his family ran the local lumberyard about a mile down the road. It was way too much information, definitely way too much hair flipping and touching of Todd’s forearm while she was giving it out.

“Not sure yet.” Todd smiled at her and handed over payment for the postage then gave her a quick handshake when she offered her other hand. “We’re definitely here to pick up some supplies.” Reaching behind him, he slipped one finger under Nick’s collar and tugged lightly. Nick stood, stepped closer and waited placidly beside him. “I’m Todd Ruger, this is Nick, my mate.”

Amelia’s gaze barely flicked to Nick who smiled politely and nodded. “Hello.” His voice was soft and Todd was likely the only person who’d ever hear the note of insecurity in it.

“Well, Mr. Ruger, if you need anything at all let me know.” She had a sort of predatory sweet smile that made Todd want to shake his head. Nick more glared at her than anything. “I hope we see more of you in here. If there is anything you can’t find, let me know, I’ll have it ordered.”

“I bet you will,” Nick grumbled. If she heard him, she ignored him.

Giving Nick a slight bump on his arm, they grabbed a basket and walked up and down the aisles. Thankfully Todd found some medicated cream as well as the rest of the supplies they were getting low on. Nick finding a book that interested him made Todd happy and he made it a point to hand it back to Nick after paying for it. Amelia’s looks were making him nervous and he decided he really wanted her to understand Nick was his mate and Todd was not looking for any other sort of company.

It was early evening when they left the town and headed back to their wagon, Todd wasn’t comfortable enough to get a room at one of the inns for a few nights. He wanted to watch the town and the area for a few weeks first. That night a cold wind blew in heavy rains forcing them to sleep in the wagon. Todd spent the night shifting from one side to the other, trying to ease aches and cramps, never seeming to find a position that allowed him to relax and sleep all while trying to stifle a cough he figured came from the damp air and not wake up Nick. That turned out to be a non-issue since Nick didn’t really sleep much. If he wasn’t flinching awake from nightmares he was rousted from Todd’s tossing and coughing.

By early morning the two of them finally got to sleep. It rained most of that day, making Todd even more antsy. He’d decided he wanted to check the area, watch the town, and bad weather was thwarting his plans.

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