Category Archives: New M/M releases

The Saving Sonny James Road Trip Blog Tour Calendar: Do your planning here, prizes to be had!

SavingSonnyJames_bookmarkV_DSP Saving Sonny James is out now and available at Dreamspinner, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and more. To celebrate their new happy ending, the guys have decided on a a road trip vacation. I insisted they take me along to turn it into a blog tour so all of you can go, too. (I have to ride in the backseat of the Mustang…)

This isn’t just any road trip though, because they cross the Atlantic, visit the Southern Hemisphere, and land accidentally in a strange, post-apolcalyptic world. In order to make it easier to keep up and enter all the drawings for prizes, I thought you might like a calendar itinerary. Here it is, but precise links and prizes will be updated as we proceed!

  • 10/18: Sonny James and Luki Vasquez start their trip home from France, taking the Chunnel train, at The Novel Approach. 1st prize Saving Sonny James signed paperback (or ebook if preferred) and $15 to spend at Dreamspinner Press; 2nd prize Saving Sonny James ebook
  • 10/19: Off the train at Ashford, Kent, England, heading for London, at Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews. 1st Prize $15 to spend at Dreamspinner; 2nd Prize Saving Sonny James ebook.
  • Also Meet the Author (that’s me) Goodreads chat, on Dreamspinner Group discussions! Here’s the precise link, 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM Pacific Time, 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM Eastern. Excerpts, discussion, prize! (Dreamspinner discussion board)

  • 10/20: London! Right here at this sylvre.com blog. For prize info see the Rafflecopter post.
  • 10/21: New Hampshire (yes they will have made it back to the USA!), fittingly at the blog of New Hampshire writer, Jamie Fessenden.
  • 10/22: We take a hiatus from travel for a release party at The Dreamspinner Blog–here be contests, excerpts, history, pictures, and a chance for enjoyable discussion. Please come!
  • 10/25: Uh-oh. On their way to Ohio, to visit at Elizabeth Noble’s blog, Emotion in Motion, when something crazy happens… Todd… Todd Ruger, is that you? Yes, prizes will be had.
  • 10/26: A spot of simple promo at Cafe Risque, hosted by Cardeno C!
  • 10/27: New Zealand? How the hell do you get to New Zealand in a Mustang? Find out at Anne Barwell’s Drops of Ink.
  • Back to the States once again–in Texas! San Antonio, the lovely, romantic Riverwalk, made (even more) famous by the sexy characters of our host, Carol Zampa!
  • 10/30: Visiting at Charlie Cotchet’s blog–agenda, etc to be announced!
  • 11/2: Chris T. Kat will be our host! Hmmm… what to do, what to do?
  • 11/5: Luki and Sonny will take Rhys Ford’s blog and San Diego, CA by storm. (They will… just wait and see. And I’m pretty sure a prize will be up for grabs, too.)
  • 11/8 through 11/11: Well, I’m going to Bent Con in Burbank (yeah, like Los Angeles and Hollywood, only not…) and since the Vasquez-James boys are my transpo, they’re going, too. I’ll post their odd adventures here, at sylvre.com.
  • 11/13, Recap, and a prize. Here again.

Hope to see you all along the way, here, there, wherever!

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Filed under Contests, Lou Sylvre, New M/M releases, Saving Sonny James, Vasquez & James

Just Eight Days until Saving Sonny James is officially released by Dreamspinner Press (Yes that’s a buy link, and it’s already available on pre-order… jus’ sayin’). Between now and then, I’ll put together a calendar of related events, which should include some fun stuff including giveaways, and character shenanigans. I’ll be posting information here, facebook, Goodreads, The Romance Reviews, and possibly elsewhere, too. Keep an eye peeled, because I truly hope you’ll join me for some good times. Meanwhile: beautiful cover! (Again)

Vasquez and James Suspense Series #4

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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.

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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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New Release: A Knight to Remember, by Anne Barwell, from Dreamspinner Press 6/28/13

“The last of your line will be in the embrace of a dragon.”
Aric, Crown Prince of Astria, has been brought up to believe that all dragons are evil. But when he speaks with one, he finds himself questioning those beliefs. The dragon tells him to find a sword in Sherwin Forest to save not only his kingdom but also his sister, Georgia, who must otherwise wed the prince of a neighboring kingdom.

At the start of his quest, Aric dons a disguise and meets Denys, an archer and herbalist who lives alone at the edge of the forest. Denys agrees to guide Aric into the forest, but then Georgia appears, revealing Aric’s true identity.

However Aric learns he is not the only one keeping secrets. Denys has a few of his own that could change both of their lives forever.

Anne’s bio:

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

In 2008 she completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, 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.

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A Knight to Remember–Anne Barwell’s latest fantasy (Read an excerpt here!)

Knight to Remember-Barwell_headerbanner

“You said you had something to tell me.” Aric cleared his throat, not wishing to reminiscence about such things, at least not now. He was losing his mind, he must be. This was a dream, it had to be. Yet why did it feel so real? “And my name is not Brandric. It’s Aric. Brandric is what my father calls me.”

“Aric, then.” The dragon inclined its head again, lowering its voice. “Your sister is to marry the prince of a neighboring kingdom. This must not be allowed to happen. It will not unite your kingdoms, but is merely a ploy to gain your father’s trust.”

“I already know that.” Aric had heard two of King Malachite’s men talking. Once the marriage had taken place, King Malachite planned to invade Astria and claim it in the name of Logan, his own kingdom. “He… they talked about using magic.” Aric had told his father about what he’d overheard, but he hadn’t been believed. King Malachite, King Brandr assured his son, would not attempt to betray Astria by using the evil that was magic. Nor would he use their children’s marriage to gain control over Astria. He was an honorable man who had stood by Astria and its people many times, their armies united against a common foe. Together they had triumphed over those who might use magic against them, and worked to rid both their lands of the threat of dragons.

Aric had never trusted King Malachite. There was something about the man that made his skin crawl, but if asked to explain, he couldn’t. Only two people had ever believed him: Georgia and Aunt Hannah.

“The only way to fight magic is with magic.” The dragon looked around, then cocked its head to the side as though listening to something Aric could not hear. “You must seek the Sword of Sherwin, Aric. The quest will not only save your kingdom, but also your sister.”

“I….” Aric stared at the dragon. He’d heard of the sword, of course he had. It was an old tale told to him by both his aunt and his mother. The sword was a thing of power. “It doesn’t exist. It’s just a story. Or if it did, it was lost generations ago.” He shook his head. Surely the dragon couldn’t be serious?

“Then it is time it was found again, isn’t it?”

“You make it sound simple. It’s not.” Aric looked up at the dragon. Its eyes were the same color as its scales. They seemed to bore into his own, searching his heart, and his soul. There was something ageless about it, powerful yet lonely. He shivered, and averted his gaze.

“You see what others don’t, young Aric.” The dragon opened its wings. Aric gasped. They were the length of several men, black cobwebs of fine leather and scale. “Follow your heart, and trust your instincts.”

“But I don’t know where to look.” Aric wanted to believe the dragon, he truly did. Georgia couldn’t be allowed to marry Prince Thorold, and Aric could not stand by and let his kingdom fall. Killing dragons had only been part of the oath he’d taken. He might not intend to keep that part of it, but he certainly would keep the other.

The dragon had already begun to flap its wings. It was preparing to leave, and Aric knew once it took flight he’d never be able to stop it. “Follow your heart, Aric. Do what is right.”

Aric stumbled back, his sword falling to the ground. He couldn’t kill the dragon, but more than that, he didn’t want to. “I don’t know where to look,” he yelled after it. The dragon did not reply but instead took to the air, gliding, hovering above him, its movement graceful, majestic. Something about it called to him, touched him.

He wiped at his eyes. They were wet.

When he looked up again, the dragon was gone.

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We interrupt this HAHaT to bring you this breaking news…

Hi, I don’t really want to interrupt the Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia–see my feature post below. You can still read, comment, and possibly win, and anyway I’d love to hear your thoughts. Thanks to everyone who’s already done commented!

Reveiw and giveaway with the lovely Lou Sylvre

But I do want to briefly say, hey! Come see Monique Lehane’s great reviews of all three Vasquez and James Books (Finding Jackie today, 4.5 stars), and her interview of me, the culprit who penned those books. You can comment to win there, too!

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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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Jacob Flores: *3*, *The Gifted One*, and what might melt his butter

Click the cover image for the buy link at Dreamspinner Press store.

Justin Jimenez has loved his partner, Spencer Harrison, for ten years. He’ll do anything for him—including bury his feelings for a man he met while he and Spencer were separated last year. Justin never planned to fall in love, and he certainly never planned to tell Spencer about it—but when a phone call wakes them in the middle of the night to inform Justin that his former lover, Dutch Keller, has been in an accident, he doesn’t have a choice.

Justin’s revelation shatters the fragile relationship he and Spencer were trying to rebuild. The weight of his guilt—both for hurting Spencer and for leaving a heartbroken Dutch to find solace in a bottle—crushes him. But what Justin doesn’t know is that Spencer and Dutch guard an explosive secret of their own. All three men are tangled in a communal web of lies, and unless they find the events in their lives that ultimately led them to friendship, passion, and betrayal, they won’t see the love at the heart of the pain.

Jacob Z. Flores lives a double life. During the day, he is a respected college English professor and mid-level administrator. At night and during his summer vacation, he loosens the tie and tosses aside the trendy sports coat to write man on man fiction, where the hard ass assessor of freshmen level composition turns his attention to the firm posteriors and other rigid appendages of the characters in his fictional world.

Summers in Provincetown, Massachusetts, provide Jacob with inspiration for his fiction. The abundance of barely clothed man flesh and daily debauchery stimulates his personal muse. When he isn’t stroking the keyboard, Jacob spends time with his husband, Bruce, their three children, and two dogs, who represent a bright blue blip in an otherwise predominantly red swath in south Texas.

You can follow Jacob’s musings on his blog at http://jacobzflores.com or become a part of his social media network by visiting http://www.facebook.com/jacob.flores2
or http://twitter.com/#!/JacobZFlores.

The Interview

Q: How important are character names, to you, and how do you go about naming them? What about titles?
A: Great question. Character names and titles are pretty important to me. For the main characters, their names have to sound good together, as if not just the characters as people belong together but so do the names, like Romeo and Juliet or Bo and Hope, for soap opera fans. When I’m naming a character, I choose a name that is significant to the character’s personality. I sometimes consult my Character Naming Sourcebook and research various names until I find one that matches the character’s personality. If I’m using a nickname, I choose one that captures the essence of the character.
Book titles are just as important. I want the title to reflect the theme of the book. For example, my upcoming m/m/m novel slated for release by Dreamspinner in September/October is titled 3. While the title may be simple, it also reflects the inherent complexities and conflict in a relationship between three men. Most of us are familiar with how difficult a relationship between two individuals is. When you add one more to the mix, the struggles magnify exponentially.

Q: In what locale is your most recent book set? How compelling was it to set a story there? Do you choose location the same way every time? How?
A: 3 is set in San Antonio, Texas. I chose San Antonio because it is my hometown, and I feel quite comfortable there. I typically choose locales based on my familiarity with them. I want the reader to get a good sense of the setting, so in order for it to be real for my readers, it has to be crystal clear to me. I aim for as much verisimilitude as possible in terms of setting.

Q: How much power do you give your characters in steering the story line?
A: It really depends on the character and the story. After I create character sketches for each character, I create a plot outline that provides me the direction I need to move the characters from exposition to the novel’s climax and finally to its ultimate conclusion. Once I have a general idea of where I want the characters to go, I let their interactions dictate how I get there. For example, I had envisioned a different ending for 3, but by the time I got to the last third of the novel, I knew my original ending wouldn’t work. The characters had evolved past my original ending. I think if I would have concluded it the way I had first envisioned it, the reader would have felt the ending to be disingenuous.

Q: What is the most satisfying element for you in writing gay relationships, and why?
A: As a gay man, it’s very satisfying. I get to share with the world what a gay relationship is really like. While it may involve two men (or sometimes three), trying to find love, it makes the struggle universal. All of us want love. The only real difference is that some men prefer that happily ever after with another man.

Q: Are readers involved in making your fiction—do they suggest stories or say what they’d like to read?
A: Right now, no. I’m still new to the genre to have such a fan base. If I were ever lucky enough to have such devoted followers, I would take their considerations into mind. In fact, when I wrote my episode of Boxer Falls, which is a “gaytime serial” on Goodreads, I took the wishes of the fans into consideration. They love Oz and Quinn as characters, so I made sure those two characters were spotlighted. I even nudged Oz and Quinn’s relationship along a few steps in the process.

Q: Describe the ideal relationship between author and readers.
A: The ideal relationship would be that the readers loved everything the author wrote. LOL! But I know that’s not going to be the case. You can’t please everyone, but I hope that the readers would be invested enough in my book to understand the choices the characters made. On the same token, authors wouldn’t be successful without our wonderful readers. The relationship needs to be symbiotic, a successful joining of creative minds traveling together on a wonderful journey.

Q: What do you find useful about reviews?
A: Like I said before, I’m still new, so I don’t have many reviews. However, I did self-publish a novel titled Moral Authority. I got some great reviews on that book. It’s a dystopian tale reminiscent of George Orwell’s Nineteen-Eighty Four with a gay twist. But the reviews that offered some constructive criticism made me re-think certain approaches to plot and character development. Sometimes, what we as authors think will work may not resonate with some readers. It’s the author’s job to make the book resonate with as many readers as possible, in my opinion. So, while constructive reviews may be hard to read at times, I use them as learning tools.

Q: I’m well known for demanding to know an author’s opinion about which of their characters is the sexiest, and I’m making no exception for this group. Who, how, and why?
A: For 3, I would have to say that Dutch is the sexiest. First of all, physically, Dutch is the most impressive. He’s a tall muscle bear with crystal blue eyes. His presence is intimidating, but his character is kind and gentle, at least until he’s pushed too far. Then, watch out! Those characters whose physical strength is tempered by their kind hearts always melt my butter.

Q: What are the fifty hottest words (approximate the word count) you’ve ever written, in your opinion. (Be sure to include citation).
A: This is a scene from 3, where two of the main characters, Justin and Spencer are having a three-way with their best friend Tyler.

“Fuck me,” Tyler moaned. He took Spencer’s cock out of his mouth and looked back at Justin with pleading, wild eyes. “Fuck me hard!”

“Beg for it,” Justin demanded. “Beg for me to fuck your man pussy.”

“Fuck me,” Tyler begged. “Fuck my pussy like the whore I am.”
–From 3 by Jacob Z. Flores

Q: What are you doing now, what do plan to write next?
A: Actually, Dreamspinner just accepted my paranormal romance tentatively titled The Gifted One, which should be out in March/April.

Here’s a blurb:
Though Matt sees himself as an ordinary man loved by the family who adopted him, he is unaware that he is the Gifted One. His unknown blood lineage makes him a seventh son of a seventh son. Within him rests the unlocked potential of a positive force for good. His promise as the Gifted One grants him special favors from heaven in the form of his own personal savior, the Archangel Gabriel, but it also marks Matt for death from the wicked, who attempt to kill him every year on his birthday.

Being the Gifted One and dodging demonic attacks aren’t Matt’s only problems. He has fallen in love with the Archangel Gabriel, who was sent by heaven to protect him. Gabriel returns Matt’s love, defying divine law and placing them both in danger from demons and angels alike. Heaven fears that Matt and Gabriel’s union will result in an evil similar to that of a fallen band of angels called The Watchers.

Can Matt survive the rising ancient evils that have hounded him since birth? Will heaven allow Matt and Gabriel’s love to exist? Or will both heaven and hell turn being the Gifted One into a curse?

An Excerpt from 3

“Watch your step,” Justin told him. His eyes were as refreshing as a coastal breeze on a scorching day, and their brown hue reminded him of the cool, packed sand that lay between the ocean’s edge and the sandy beach. When his family went on a summer vacation that involved a beach, that is where he stayed—at the water’s edge. While his brother and sister swam in the ocean and his parents lay out on their beach blankets, he sat in the cool, wet sand, thrusting his toes into the velvety folds.

He felt safe, as if by sinking his toes into the sand the earth had somehow claimed him as its own, grounding him and giving him the companionship he lacked in his family or at school.

When he gazed into Justin’s eyes, as he looked back to make sure Spencer didn’t trip over any one of the inebriated patrons in the small stairwell, he felt transported back to that beach, toes in the sand and connected to another life force much greater than his own.

Going past the small series of stairs that led to a walkway, they skirted the packed dance floor where the gays were getting down to Cher’s “Believe.”
Justin surprised Spencer by pulling him onto the dance floor, where they joined their gay brethren in their fevered adoration of the ultimate gay icon.

Rarely, if ever, did Spencer dance at the clubs. He preferred observing the standard mating ritual as the dance partners gyrated on the floor with the express purpose of gauging each other’s sexual prowess through thrusting hips to the syncopated beat.

He found the custom distasteful, yet here he was grinding in sync with Justin, whose hands rested on Spencer’s hips and whose crotch was currently scraping against his ass.

What has gotten into you? his mind asked him. Since when do you engage in such immature and improper activities? You’re practically copulating on the dance floor?

I know, Spencer returned. It feels great!

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Jaime Samms interview, and bittersweet beauty *Angel Elegy*

Click the cover images for buy links at Dreamspinner Press store.

Twin Angels Jophiel and Ariel are servants of Heaven bound to help the humans of a world headed for ruin. But for them to become the independent Angels they need to be, their bond must first be broken.

Jophiel takes his duties seriously, answering a call from an artist struggling with his dominant, sadistic nature. But Ariel, embittered after being tortured and killed by human captors and returning to Heaven in shame, hesitates. The choice is taken from his hands when he is sent to Earth, wingless and without any memory of who or what he is. Until he regains the faith in the humans he’s meant to help, he’ll never reach his full potential and be readmitted into Heaven. From somewhere within himself, Jophiel must find the courage to let go of his twin and trust Ariel to be strong enough to Rise again… or they will never be together.

A Bittersweet Dreams title: It’s an unfortunate truth: love doesn’t always conquer all. Regardless of its strength, sometimes fate intervenes, tragedy strikes, or forces conspire against it. These stories of romance do not offer a traditional happy ending, but the strong and enduring love will still touch your heart and maybe move you to tears.

Jaime has been writing for various publishers since the fall of 2008, although she’s been writing for herself far longer. Often asked why men; what’s so fascinating about writing stories about men falling in love, she’s never come up with a clear answer. Just that these are the stories that she loves to read, so it seemed to make sense if she was going to write, they should also be the stories she wrote.

These days, you can find plenty of free reading on her website. She also writes for Freya’s Bower, Loveyoudivine Alterotica, Pink Petal Books, Dreamspinner Press and Total E-Bound.

Spare time, when it can be found rolled into a ball at the back of the dryer or cavorting with the dust bunnies in the corners, she’s probably spending reading, drawing, gardening (weather permitting, of course, since she is Canadian!) or watching movies. Well. She has a day job or two, as well, and two kids, but thankfully, also a wonderful husband who shoulders more than his fair share of household and child care responsibilities.

She graduated some time ago from college with a Fine Arts diploma, with a major in textile arts, which basically qualifies her to draw pictures and create things with string and fabric. One always needs an official slip of paper to fall back on after all….

The Interview

Q: How important are character names, to you, and how do you go about naming them? What about titles?
A: I have found that in my contemporary books, I just like to make sure I haven’t already used a name in any significant way. In my fantasy stuff, I put a little more thought into it, though. I like the names to mean something. As for titles. OMG. I have the worst time coming up with them, most of the time.

Q: In what locale is your most recent book set? How compelling was it to set a story there? Do you choose location the same way every time? How?
A: I think the immediate setting of the Main Character’s actual apartment in Stained Glass was very important, but the world at large is usually pretty generic. If I have to use elements like laws or school customs, I usually use generic Canadian, because that’s what I know. I only set things in the States or elsewhere if I have to. As to how I decide, if it’s not generic Canada, then the plot or characters let me know where it is.

Q: How much power do you give your characters in steering the story line?
A: Better to ask how much power they give me. Lol! When I try to steer, we inevitably go off the rails. Better to let them have their own way.

Q: What is the most satisfying element for you in writing gay relationships, and why?
A: That moment in the story when the main characters realize they are together because that is the right place for them to be, that’s magic. I don’t think it would be any different if I wrote het or f/f. Gender isn’t the issue. The magic is the issue.

Q: Are readers involved in making your fiction—do they suggest stories or say what they’d like to read?
A: They always suggest. It isn’t that I don’t listen. It is more like some characters speak to me and I tell their stories, some do not. I can’t force a character to talk to me. But there are characters I’ve lived with a long time, secondary characters or main characters I had thought I was done with, who come back, years after the fact and whisper in my ear, and I’ll do my best to accommodate them. If a reader asks for the story of a character I can’t feel, I’m happy to chat about the characters, happy to discuss the story and the possibilities, but I never make promises.

Q: Describe the ideal relationship between author and readers.
A: Respect.

Q: What do you find useful about reviews?
A: When I’m looking for a book to read, I sometimes glance at them if I’m waffling about whether to pick up a title. More often, I’m like any other reader. I have my go-to authors who I know I don’t even have to read the blurb, I’ll more than likely love the story.

Q: I’m well known for demanding to know an author’s opinion about which of their characters is the sexiest, and I’m making no exception for this group. Who, how, and why?
A: Well, on the manly-men side, there is Vance Ashcroft, country music mega-star and ever-so-slightly, hide-the-truth-in-plain-sight closet queer. He’s everything a country boy should be and then some, with a crooning baritone and silky amber locks to run your fingers through.

On the Fem side, we have Mac, coming in Still Life in December, from Total E-Bound. He’s butch in the every day, but looks killer in a pair of hose and heels, and a mini skirt to show off his sculpted legs. And he has just enough of that vulnerable, love-me-keep-me vibe to drive any top’s fantasy.

Q: What are the fifty hottest words (approximate the word count) you’ve ever written, in your opinion. (Be sure to include citation).
A: That’s so hard to say. Fifty words is like…nothing…lol! I found 92, from my WIP, and I can’t really think about anything else right now, so this probably means more to me than it will to anyone else, but here, Stanley has just finished helping Damian remove his eye make-up.

Stanley was entirely too close when those lashes fluttered and he found grey-green eyes gazing up at him.

“Done,” he whispered.

Damian licked his lips, a tentative smile dancing over his features. “Lip gloss.”

“How do you get that off?”It was Stanley’s turn to breathe too shallowly. Stanley’s turn to find himself slightly too shaky.

“Best way I know.” Damian cupped one towel-wrapped hand at the back of
Stanley’s neck and drew him the rest of the few inches down until their lips met.

The gloss tasted like strawberries and confectioner’s sugar. And whiskey. He moaned.

Q: What are you doing now, what do plan to write next?
A: Right now, I’m working on a Goth rock singer and his Manager, the manager’s Country music signer best friend and sometimes fuck-buddy, and the rock singer’s puppy-love guitar player. I’m in the middle of tossing them all in a big sac, shaking it up a bit and seeing who falls out with whom.

After this, I am dying a little bit inside to get back to Rainbow Alley and give some of those boys their happy endings. And, there’s this thing with a couple of cowboys I wrote about long ago in the way back of beyond, Miles and Dillon from The Runaway. Oooh, and the futuristic one with the really Dominant Dom and his sub who doesn’t yet know he’s a sub. And the mer-shifters…and the dragon shifters. Two universes of dragon shifters, even. And the east coast fisherman and his bartender…and….and….

An Excerpt from Angel Elegy

“YOU can’t expect me to leave him there!” My voice rose, anger elevating it to Haniel’s level. “Do you not see what that human is doing to him?” I’d come home empty-handed, but I was not going to leave the younger Angel to the mercies of a man who had no scruples against using him in such hurtful ways.

“I see an Angel who answered a call,” Haniel said quietly. “I see a young, troubled man and an Angel trying to help him.” But his voice was as filled with sadness as my heart was with fury.

“He’s brainwashing Jophiel. Our brother thinks what that creature is doing to him is okay, Haniel, and it isn’t.”

“I understand your concerns, Ariel.” He looked at me with such sympathy.

I could claw his eyes out for turning that pity on me rather than using his sense of truth to help our fellow Angel.

“But you speak from the heart of someone who feels more than brotherly love. There are things you cannot see past that barrier.”

“You have never set foot outside this sanctum,” I spat. “You have no idea. My concerns—” I shot a hand out, and a flash of livid light splashed across the open expanse of the sanctum. “You don’t know, Haniel.” Anger tossed me about, breaking down my ability to think, forcing me to sporadic movement across the limitless space. “You just don’t—” I stopped and then winged back to stand once more before him. “And Jophiel will not stop that man from doing anything he wants, all in the name of art and creativity. He’ll twist everything that’s good and giving and honest in him. He’ll—”

“Break him?”

“Jophiel doesn’t understand what’s happening. He’ll just give and give—”

“Like you did?”

I whirled, fury giving me power, sparking in my gut and drawing my wings out to full splendor. “This is not about me. It’s about him, and the false safety everyone thinks is down there because Michael and Gabriel stayed behind. Angels aren’t safe. We never will be safe. Not among humans.”

Deeper sadness infused Haniel’s eyes, burning the blue to dark indigo. His wings drooped slightly, silver tips disappearing into the hazy divide between the worlds. “You have lost your Faith.”

“I have lost nothing!” Panic rose to fill the spaces left empty by anger. “I know. I was there.” The memories crowded, one piling on top of the next: the clipped wings, the pain, the annihilation of every good thing….

Until a bullet in the back was not betrayal. It was freedom.

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