Tag Archives: Authors

Book Sale at Dreamspinner (the best!)

Great Celebration Sale going on at Dreamspinner Press–voted the best M/M publisher in the Love Romance Cafe poll.

Of course those in-stock items include the Vasquez and James Series by yours truly, but also a lot of other great books full of every possible flavor of M/M romance. Authors like Jamie Fessenden, Andrew Grey, Sue Brown, Ruth Sims, Isabelle Rowan, Rhys Ford, Tj Klune, Eric Arvin, Anna Martin, Anne Barwell, Rick Reed, Elizabeth Noble, JL O’Faolain, and way too many to name. Get a bunch? Maybe enough to last until summer…

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Happy New Year 2013!

May 2013 shine for all our relations and friends!

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by | January 1, 2013 · 9:33 am

Jake Mactire author interview (cowboy romance from a guy who knows)

LS: Jake, welcome to the blog! I’m very pleased to have the opportunity to feature your writing, and I’m looking forward to some interesting Q and A.
JM: Thanks Lou! It’s great to be here

Q: Before we talk directly about your novels, Jake, I’d love to hear a little bit more about you. Your bio certainly piques interest. You now live in Seattle—close to my adopted home, incidentally. I always give a bit of a cheer when I run across another Puget Sound author. Is this where you’re from? Have you lived many places? Maybe you can talk a bit about how “home base” affects your writing, whether that’s Seattle, or wherever?
A: I’m originally from the Midwest. I grew up on a ranch just outside a small town of 2500 on a good day. I’ve lived in Seattle for eighteen years now. I love it, including the rain! I really enjoy the outdoors, and Seattle is great in that I can be by the ocean in about 15 minutes and in the mountains in about 45. The Methow Valley, the place which has inspired the Jeff and Mike books is about three and a half hours away. It’s one of my favorite places in the world. The laid back, live and let live atmosphere of Seattle has been a big influence on my writing. I have some of my best inspirations when I’m outside, kayaking, skiing, or hiking.

I’ve lived in quite a few places. I was an exchange student in Finland, studied in Mexico, worked in both Ireland and India, and in the US have lived in Michigan, Arizona, California, and Washington.

Q: Do you care to say what your “boring day job” is? Tell us anything about it, or how it affects your work as an author? Do you plan to be a full time writer, and if so, have you progressed in that direction?
A: Sure, I’m a software test engineer. I worked for quite a while for a very large software firm headquartered in Redmond WA. The sixty to eighty hour weeks took their toll, and I left several years ago. During my ‘break time’ from work, I wrote. I really enjoyed it and want to continue to write. Now that I’ve gone back to work (still testing software, but at a much more relaxed company) I don’t have all the time I’d like to write. I would love to be a full time writer. I am thinking of buying property in the Methow Valley here in Washington and that would give me the perfect place to write.

Q: You’ve done a lot of wonderful travelling, and you’ve found that to be a boost for your writing. What travel destination has most influenced you as a writer, whether it be the scenery, the people, or something less solid—a feeling, or attitude? Explain, if you would, please.
A: I’d have to list a couple of places. One was Phoenix, Arizona. I went to grad school there and I was dealing with coming out at that time. I had participated in high school and college rodeo for a while and most of my friends knew it. One of my friends had figured out my story so to speak and asked me to take her country and western dancing. She picked the place; it turned out to be Charlie’s, a gay honky- tonk. I remember standing there with my mouth open watching all the cowboys and some guy came up and asked me to dance. We got to the dance floor and he asked me “Lead or follow?” I asked “What do ya mean, follow?” Being from a small town and never having been to a gay bar, it didn’t even occur to me men could follow in dancing. Well, one thing led to another and I got involved in gay rodeo. I kept on rodeoing in the IGRA in California and Washington too. The friendliness and camaraderie of Charlie’s really has influenced my writing. The Methow Valley has also influenced me quite a bit. It does have places like local artist’s galleries, bakeries manned by guys in tie dyed clothes with pony tails, and rodeos with cowboys. As far as foreign places I’d have to say Scandinavia. It was really refreshing to see how accepted gay folks are there.

Q: Before I ask about Twisted, your latest release, let’s talk just a bit about the book that came before it—Two Sides of the Same Coin. It’s set in the Methow (for the unfamiliar, that’s pronounced like the two words, met + how), a broad valley that perhaps epitomizes wide-open western beauty. In it you’ve dropped these two men, gorgeous, different, capable, grieving, and needy, and mixed up for them what, judging from the excerpts, promises to be a memorable romance. Enduring, I hope. Sexy, I’m absolutely certain. Considering these elements, the plot or story line, the main characters, and the powerful setting, what came first when you got your idea to write this? How much did the characters control or fight for the storyline you had planned? How strongly did the Methow influence the events, or the characters’ emotions?

A: One weekend I went camping in the Methow Valley, in the eastern part just outside the North Cascades National Park. While I was hiking the idea for the story for Jeff and Mike came to me. I ended up hiking about twenty miles in the three days I was there and by that time I had a pretty good outline. I was surprised when I began to write as the characters really had to have their say. I hadn’t planned Jeff to be so ‘act first and think next’, but it is in character with a lot of cowboys I know. Mike ended up being a lot more stable and grounded than when I first envisioned him. When they meet, there’s an instant attraction, and the sparks begin to fly pretty quick. They compliment each other very well, and that came up as I was writing them. Jeff’s super self confidence is balanced by Mike’s mild insecurities. On the other hand Mike is very grounded while Jeff is impulsive. The characters actually controlled and wrote much of the story. I found that a bit surprising, but it worked out well. The Methow was the inspiration and the perfect setting.

Q: Paul Richmond’s unique style graces both of these covers, identifiable as his work from first glance. How much input did you have into the elements, colors, or other considerations for the covers? What was your reaction when you first saw them?
A: When I first saw the sketches for the covers, I was just blown away by how good they were, especially the first cover for Two Sides of the Same Coin. Paul really seemed to capture their personalities in his cover art. I had described what I thought would be the ideal cover in both scenarios and he brought it to life.

Q: Now, in Twisted, we meet back up with Mike and Jeff a couple of months down the line. Everything about the life they’re building together seems to balance, from their roping skills (the header and the heeler), to who dominates their kisses. They have a happy Christmas, they’re looking forward to the start of their dream dude ranch, things are good. But, oops, there’s one big problem in paradise: a serial killer. OMG! How did this idea come to you?
A: Good question! A few years ago I took the Trans-Siberian Express train from Moscow to Beijing. I broke the journey in Novosibirsk, Irkutsk, and Ulaan Bataar. In preparing for the trip I went to a second hand book store in Moscow which had a section in English. In that section there were two true crime books about serial killers. I bought them and there were chapters on the gay serial killers Larry Eyler and Randy Kraft. That gave me the idea. I had a lot of time to think about it; the train trip was seven days.

Q: Presumably, you sound like an authority on the cowboy stuff because you are—you’ve lived it. But hopefully, you had to research serial killers, and/or catching them? Anything special that you did to make sure your writing about this was authentic? Do you find in general that you do a lot of research for your writing, and how do you go about it?
A: I do quite a bit of research for my books. The serial killers was one area I really knew nothing about and ended up spending a lot of time online doing research. I also read several books by crime profilers who study serial killers. Other things I’ve researched are things like bronze casting. Since Jeff is an artist, I wanted to make that part of the book realistic. In Twisted, Jeff suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I ended up talking with a friend who is a Psychiatrist several times at length about PTSD, the symptoms, and therapy for it. The cowboy stuff is the easiest for me, I really don’t have to research that. I end up talking with friends and beta readers quite a bit too as part of my research. Occasionally I have to laugh, in a review on Amazon, someone said the books were unrealistic in that Mike came out after meeting Jeff, and someone that closeted would never come out. I’d talked to about ten guys who had come out like Mike did, after meeting someone special. So I tend to do quite a bit of research about things in the books prior to and while writing.

Q: Time for my famous, unavoidable question, Jake—I ask everyone, the rules are always the same, and they’re simple. 1. You must really choose. Waffling and hedging are okay, but in the end you must name a single name. 2. This is an essay question. No one-word answers. Choose, and explain. Here’s the question: Who is sexiest, Mike or Jeff?
A: LOL, I reckon I can’t leave that one up to the reader, can I? That’s a tough one since they are a lot alike. As part of the hemming and hawing prior to the selection of just one, I’ll have to say that I find both very sexy. I like Jeff’s self confidence and the way he walks around in various states of undress and is a bit unpredictable. I find the easy rapport he builds with people, like the kids in the bakery in Winslett, and the guests of the ranch very appealing.

That being said, I’d have to say to me, Mike is the sexiest. According to my friends and rodeo buddies who’ve read the books, I’m quite a bit like Jeff. I imagine that when thinking up the ideal man for Jeff, I envisioned him according to my tastes. First of all, I imagine Mike to have a beautiful smile. Jeff describes it as ‘lighting up his face’ when they’re out riding fences. I have a huge weakness for a guy with a captivating smile. I like the fact that Mike is willing to go after what he wants (in this case, Jeff). I think the fact that Mike can be submissive to Jeff and not feel he is giving up his masculinity is very hot. (Am I revealing a bit too much about myself?) Physically, Mike has hair on his chest and backside (not back!) which I find very alluring. Envisioning Mike, while he and Jeff are two-stepping or ‘rubbin’ belt buckles’ as they call it, is another big thing for me. Mike follows and there is just something really special about having a hot, hunky guy in your arms as you guide him around the dance floor.

I hope that answered the question!

Q: Do you have any upcoming releases, or things in process that your readers can look forward to? A longer range plan? Also, if you have any guest blog appearances, contests, chats, or other promos your readers might enjoy, let us know!
A: I have a third Jeff and Mike novel, Stickmen, which is being read by my beta readers. Then some editing, they’ll look at it again, and I’ll do some more editing and then submit it for publication. Keep your fingers crossed for that. I also did an outline for a spin off book featuring a character from the Jeff and Mike books. One of the guys there has a story that needs telling. I occasionally think about writing a hard boiled detective novel set in prohibition era Detroit, and also have a fantasy novel in mind. So it looks like I may have to write full time just to tell all the stories I have!

LS: Jake, thanks for coming and sharing your work. It’s been a delight. I hope you’ll come back.

JM: Thank you, Lou! It’s been a pleasure and I would love to come back sometime in the future. One of the greatest things about writing is meeting readers and other authors like you! Thanks again!

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S.A. Garcia’s *Divine Devine’s Love Song* (Dreamspinner Press)

Featured this week, S.A. Garcia and her latest novel, Divine Devine’s Love Song. Here’s a little about the author and the book, scroll down for an interview and intriguing excerpts from her work. As usual, on this blog, the cover images are buy links—click on one and it’ll take you straight to the publisher’s store.

In a world destroyed by nuclear mismanagement, a deformed young man named Trill finds an intact Netpad. Once he secures a working battery, he discovers a story penned by Sam Devine, a hacker who led a rebellion against the insane corporation BCM thirty years previously.

Sam works for BCM out of necessity rather than choice. He despises the company for its lack of ethics and knows the best way to destroy it is from within. When a meeting opens with the torture of BCM’s captive enemies, Sam receives his chance: he lies to convince his bosses he wants to further degrade one of the warriors, a man named Pokatawer. Once Pokatawer is released to Sam, he finds they share common goals and lusts.

But Sam and Pokatawer are up against a hugely powerful corporation, and they’ll have to bring BCM to its knees to escape nuclear wrath and make a life for themselves somewhere outside the company’s grasp.


S.A. Garcia can never decide between red or white. Nor can she decide between creating visual art or word art, so over the decades a career in visual design, music journalism, and technical writing blossomed. Ten years of running an indie music magazine certainly provided plenty of wild characters and curious situations for fiction.

Even when traveling to interview bands, writing fiction always percolated in the background, and writing male romantic fiction ruled above all. Reading Gordon Merrick at age nineteen sounded a wonderful wake-up call. There’s thirty years of male/male romance hidden away in her notebooks and on the computer. Now it is time to release the stories into the free air.

When not obsessing over different ways to describe romantic encounters, S.A. enjoys cooking for her beloved of twenty-five years; she endures the endless experiments with grace. Gardening, traveling, arguing politics, and teaching the house bunnies new tricks provide more fun. Unfortunately the furry furies refuse to learn how to type.

S.A. invites you to find her at her blog, S.A. Garcia’s World of Words.

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What I learned Since I Became a Published Writer—by Tj Klune

Featured this week on sylvre.com, a guest post by Tj Klune, author of Bear, Otter, and the Kid, and two upcoming novels. Burn is due out 2/6/12, and Who We Are (the sequel to BOATK) is due out in April—all Dreamspinner Press publications.

As always on this blog, if you think you might like to buy the book, click on the cover to go straight to the publisher’s store. Now, Here’s Tj Klune’s words to the wise. Enjoy!

A little over three months ago, my first book was published. It was surreal, the lead up to that moment: a sort of breathless anticipation that was really, for all intents and purposes, anti-climactic when it actually occurred. And when I say anti-climactic, I strictly speak only of the day of. It wasn’t like the heavens opened up on August 12th and angels streamed down from the sky, singing out the title of my book for the masses to hear. It just came out.

And I couldn’t have been happier. Or more terrified.

There’s no manual given to first time writers, no outline of what the expectations should and shouldn’t be. It’s scary, flying blindly like that. Oh sure, there’s people that have come before me that told me what it was like for them, but it’s different really, for everyone.

Did I learn anything from it?

You bet your sweet ass I did.

Gather round, and I’ll show you that it’s possible for a twenty-something gay man to actually learn a lesson or two.

The First: People think I’m a woman. Or rather, they did initially. And why not? The m/m writing world is heavily populated by female authors, definitely out-numbering the amount of men who write about man-love. Does the sex of a writer really matter in the long run? I’d like to think it doesn’t. As long as the story is good and the characters are people you can grow to like/love, whether the author is a man or a woman should really be the last thing to look for. However, as a caveat, as we recently learned from a successful M/M author who portrayed herself as a man (even going so far as to have a male stand-in for her at a book signing even), honesty is always the best policy, no matter what. For the record, my author name is a pseudonym, the T and J being initials for my first and middle name. My name is Travis. It’s nice to meet you. I swear I’m a dude. Please don’t ask me to prove it to you. I don’t want my penis ending up on the Internet. Again.

The Second: My editor is smarter than I am. Seriously. Way smarter. Like, to the point where it’s scary. But did I realize that at first? Hell to the no. Me: What do you mean that’s hyphenated? Are you sure there’s an apostrophe? Well, that sentence that doesn’t make sense to you makes sense to me. To be honest, I’m surprised that she didn’t run screaming every time she saw an email from me. Seriously, though? 99.9% of the time, she’s right, I’m wrong (but there is that .01% that totally validates the 99.9%–I take what I can get).

The Third: My books will never be used as masturbatory aids. And don’t give me that look. Let me explain. I’m speaking about sex scenes, of course: where penises meet for the first time in an orgy or riotous passion. There are some really gifted writers out there who look forward to writing those hot and steamy scenes that make the heart race and your mouth dry. And some can go on for pages. And pages. And pages. Others are simply PWP (and some are just porn). My point? You’re probably not going to open up a book by me and say “Holy Jesus, TJ Klune writes fantastic smut. I should probably take off my pants while I read this.” It’s not my thing. I can’t really tell you why; I am more focused on a story when writing, not wondering what needs to be done to get to the next sex scene. And the scenes I do write are going to be minimal, not because I don’t know what to write in them, but because I don’t know how much they’ll add overall. Look. I’m a gay man. I’ve probably done half the things I could write about (and, if you’re reading this, Mom, it all happened well after the age of 18 and I had moved out. If she’s not reading this, then that was a lie). I’m no prude (except when it comes to felching—that is so gross. If you don’t know what that is, only Google it when there’s no innocent eyes around). But if there was a choice between writing a minimal sex scene and pages and pages of plot/dialogue/action versus pages and pages of boning to get to the HEA, then I’d go with the plot every time. Not everyone agrees with that. Not everyone likes to read that. To each their own.

The Fourth: Word of mouth is everything, especially for a new writer. That was something I did not understand, nor something I could even fully appreciate before the release of my first book. M/M readers are a voracious bunch, willing to go to bat for the authors they like. There’s talk about how the M/M market is over-saturated, how it seems like everyone in the free world is writing a book about two dudes (or three or four—I saw one recently with SEVEN guys. My God, can you imagine the clean-up that has to go on after a seven-way? *shudders*) Maybe there’s a lot of m/m books out there. Maybe some better than others. But regardless of that, the readers are what are important and again, if they find something to latch onto, they do, both good and bad. Hell, I can even admit to a bit of snobbery about passing on a book I thought may have been interesting simply because the masses seemed to dislike it. Seriously though, as a new writer? I would have not gotten anywhere without word of mouth. What the hell did I know before it came out? Zilch. Nada. Facebook? Oh sure, I had an account I never used. Goodreads? WTF is that? You want me to keep up with a blog? Are you out of your damned mind? I hate computers. But for some damn reason, people talked about my book, both good and bad, and it caused people to read it. Which, to be honest, humbled me and shamed me. Humbled me, because I never expected that. Shamed me because I was one of those readers who read books and then never wrote reviews about them. I didn’t feel the need to share my thoughts with others on what I felt about a story. Now I am caught playing catch-up, simply because I know how important reader reviews are to an author. I won’t make that mistake again.

The Fifth: There’s never been an experience quite like this one. I’ve been told, “Oh, there’s nothing like having your first book published!” I’ve also been told, “You get that feeling with every book.” Can I tell you what it’s like to be published? A lot of you may know. Some of you may disagree with what I say. But for me? For me it was horrifying. It was exhausting. It was sheer blinding joy, a definite decrease in sanity, frustrating as all hell. My first good review. My first bad review. The email I got from a soldier in Iraq who told me my book gave him courage, that at the tail end of DADT, he was ready to tell his squadron about his sexuality. The email I got from the irate housewife who asked me personally that I provide her with a refund because of how awful my book was. The time I was at Starbucks with a friend and saw a woman reading a paperback copy of my book. I nervously went up to her, told her I was the author. She laughed so brightly and asked me to sign it for her. Her name was Megan. Somehow, I misspelled her name. And then I bought her a scone. She gave me a hug and I never saw her again.

Everything that has happened since I became a published author has been like the scariest rollercoaster in the world, one that I sometimes wish would stop so I could get off and just breathe for a moment. But it doesn’t. It won’t. But that’s okay. I can’t stop now, not now that I’ve had a taste.

And you know what? I wouldn’t change a damn thing.

And that, ladies and gents, is what I’ve learned.

Thanks to Lou for letting me blah, blah, blah on her blog!

(Oh, and P.S.—While spell checking this blog post, “felching” came up and MS Word asked if I meant “belching.” If you know what felching is, you would know why I found that to be grossly hysterical. DON’T LOOK IT UP.)

When TJ Klune was eight, he picked up a pen and paper and began to write his first story (which turned out to be his own sweeping epic version of the video game Super Metroid—he didn’t think the game ended very well and wanted to offer his own take on it. He never heard back from the video game company, much to his chagrin). Now, two decades later, the cast of characters in his head have only gotten louder, wondering why he has to go to work as a claims examiner for an insurance company during the day when he could just stay home and write.

He lives with a neurotic cat in the middle of the Sonoran Desert. It’s hot there, but he doesn’t mind. He dreams about one day standing at Stonehenge, just so he can say he did.

TJ can be found:

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Feature Author Andrea Speed: *The Little Death* (Dreamspinner Press)

Welcome Andrea Speed as featured author this week. Farther down the page you’ll find excerpts and an interview a little more about her work. Enjoy, and leave a comment or question if you wish, for Andrea or for me, Lou Sylvre. Thanks!

Note: as is standard on this blog, all cover images are links to the book at the publisher’s site, in case you’ve decided to buy or just want to check it out some more.

Jake Falconer, a hard-boiled detective in Echo City, is struggling with his love of booze, a square ex (and a cop, no less) he can’t get over, and a murdered partner. In sashays Sloane, an homme fatal whose twin brother has gone missing. The search leads them to a sex club used for blackmailing the city’s most powerful, and soon Jake finds himself hip deep in sex and danger—it’s a good thing he’s no stranger to slogging through either.

Andrea Speed was born looking for trouble in some hot month without an R in it. While succeeding in finding Trouble, she has also been found by its twin brother, Clean Up, and is now on the run, wanted for the murder of a mop and a really cute, innocent bucket that was only one day away from retirement. (I was framed, I tell you – framed!) In her spare time, she arms lemurs in preparation for the upcoming war against the Mole Men. Viva la revolution!

Find Andrea at the following links:

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Andrea Speed: Lions and Monsters and Men—Oh My! (The interview)

Andrea, welcome. Thank you for allowing me to feature you and your work on Sylvre.com.

Ciao bella! (This is me, pretending to be Italian for no obvious reason.)

Q: Andrea, you live just a couple of towns and a large army base away from me here in the Pacific Northwest, and your facebook profile says you’re from Seattle. Have you lived anywhere else? What about our landscape, climate, and the peculiar fashion habits of some denizens (such as socks with sandals) do you like about the region? Anything you really don’t like? Does any of that influence your fiction, and if so, how?
Northwest Rainforest
A: I’ve pretty much just lived all over Washington all of my life, and I’d say I’m spoiled by it. We have mountains, forests (a rainforest even) and beaches, plus a desert if you’re into that sort of thing. It’s a beautiful state. And it’s an integral part of Infected, if only because Seattle, in this alternate universe, is one of the few cities where the cat church can exist, making it an unintentional magnet for the infected. Which opens up its own can of worms.

Q: Your Josh of the Damned series starter (to be released 10/30 by Riptide Publishing), “Pretty Monsters,” appears to be laugh-out-loud funny. Your more serious recent release, The Little Death, seems to have a humorous edge. Is humor a common theme or element in your fiction? Why write horror and crime with humor?
A: I like to think of myself as a failed comedian, because I love humor, and that seems to be my main coping mechanism. So I guess it’s not surprising that this has carried over to my characters. They all pretty much have a good sense of humor, and use it to get through. In the case of Roan (the lead in my Infected series), who’s had an exceedingly hard life, humor is what helped him hold it together in very hard times. It was a choice of laughing or crying, and he chose laughing. And occasionally punching things, but that’s as valid a coping mechanism as any.

Personally, I think you can find humor in many things. Knowing I’m completely screwed often makes me snicker, because it’s so silly. Completely screwed! Well, that’s life for you. You can find it in almost any situation, as long as you don’t mind getting a bit dark.

Q: Why did you choose to write the jaded PI in The Little Death? Will we be seeing more of Falconer (a series)? Did you have the character first, or the story concept, and which usually comes to you first?
A: I love the detective genre (again, I can point to the Infected series), especially those hard boiled detectives of old, and I always wanted to write what essentially was a gay Raymond Chandler detective. A snarky, somewhat functional alcoholic who always finds himself beaten up and double crossed and is forced to figure out what was going on before he got himself killed. Jake is not the most competent detective, but I like to think if he sobered up a bit, he’d be much better at his job. This story was unusual in the fact that I built it around the cover, as I took the cover in a writing challenge. (Note from LS: the cover for TLD was done by Dan Skinner of Cerberus, Ink. And wow, great cover!) But immediately I had Jake, the Raymond Chandler-esque detective. He was a given, as he’s someone I always wanted to write.

Q: You are, or have been involved with a publisher of comics. Can you talk about that a little—perhaps give us an idea what you do there? Have you been published in that arena?
A: I’m just a reviewer, although I’ve written the introductions to two graphic novels, Bomb Queen II: Dirty Bomb (an awesome if occasionally tasteless satire of “bad girl” comics) by Jimmie Robinson, available from Image Comics, and the upcoming Diary of A Catering Whore by Sean Seamus McWhinny, which should be out soon from Northwest Press. Comic writing is a lot like screenplay writing, which I’ve never mastered, but I admire those who can do it well.

Q: In The Little Death, we get an idea instantly of who Falconer is, his general characteristics, personality, approach to the world. But really, other than the reference to an “homme fatale,” there are few clues to Sloane. Is there anything you can share about him? This is a detective story, but also romance. Assuming Sloane is Falconer’s love interest, what initially stands in the way of their getting together? Of course there’s more I would ask, but I don’t want to do any spoiling, so I’ll move on to the next question….
A: Ooh, the femme fatale is never really a love interest in pulp detective stories, just a seducer, and the same is true of Sloane here. He’s a honey trap, so to speak. No, Jake’s real love interest is his ex, a square cop named Kyle Gomez. Jake has no idea how they ever got together in the first place, they’re so different, but there’s still some obvious lingering chemistry between them. They still care about one another, and Kyle eventually becomes entangled in the case, if only out of his desire to protect Jake.

Q: I ask this of every author I interview and give the same rules. Fudge but don’t cheat (you can’t just say “both”), and no one word answers. This is an essay question: Who’s sexier—Falconer or Sloane? Josh or Hot Guy—assuming Hot Guy is the second in the romance?
A: Between Jake and Sloane? Well, Sloane has it on him in physical attraction, which even Jake would admit, but I think Jake has a slightly more attractive personality. At least he generally means well.

Hot Guy is the second in the romance, and come on, no contest – Hot Guy. (Whose name is Colin.) He’s also … well, it would spoil, but let’s say he’ll always have a leg up on all human competition, and leave it at that. The playing field is not fair; it’s rigged in his favor. He’s very hot and very seductive, and he’s got a kind of bad boy/mysterious allure, which it’s difficult not to like. In an overall contest, Hot Guy would take the crown. Unless you threw in Paris from the Infected series, because he’d win hands down. He’s probably the most attractive character I’ve ever written about.

Q: What would you like readers to know about your Infected series? It’s an interesting concept, that the ability to shift is caused by a virus. How did you get that idea? What can you tell us about the main characters?
A:The true inspiration came about a decade or so ago, when I was reading an article in a science magazine (n.b. – I love science magazines. It takes all kinds …) about gene therapy. You know they use “neutered” viruses to impart new DNA into the host? I always wondered what would happen if someone screwed up, or deliberately tried to rig that system, perhaps for a benefit. What happens next? I thought it would be awesome to fold that into a werewolf story, but werewolves have been done to death, so I thought werecats was the way forward. This was before the werecat explosion – I got in just ahead of the curve, I think.

I’d be completely disingenuous if I didn’t admit I kept HIV in mind as well, and certainly there are aspects to that in the story (blood and bodily fluid transmissions seem to be the only way to get infected, and there’s a social stigma attached to it, even though there shouldn’t be). But the odd aspect of the cat virus allowed me to go to stranger areas, such as the church and the worshipping of the virus by some very misguided people, and things like that.

As for the main characters, I keep expanding the universe, adding new characters (who come and go, as in life), but Roan is the constant. For those who don’t know, he’s a former cop turned private detective, and he’s perhaps the only know fully functioning “virus child”, meaning he was born infected. Most babies born with the virus who don’t die come out very deformed and have short, miserable lives, but for whatever reason, Roan came out as close to normal as you’d like. Still, he has some things that make him different (a bloodhound level sense of smell, for example), but even he’s in the dark about how different he truly is. As the series goes on, both he and we learn how different he truly is, not only from regular humans but from other infecteds as well. Roan has always struggled with the lion inside him (he’s lion strain), but that takes center stage as he comes to understand how unusual he really is. I’d say more, but I’d spoil.

Q: Can you talk a bit about your covers by Anne Cain for the Infected series? I don’t see the name of the artist for “Pretty Monsters.” Any information? Thoughts?
A: Jordan Taylor is responsible for putting together the “Pretty Monsters” cover, and she did a damn fine job of it.

As for Anne Cain, I got so lucky that she’s done my covers, and she’s done so beautifully on all of them. The only input I’ve ever really had on those covers is I’m responsible for the Paris tattoo on Roan’s arm (featured since Infected: Bloodlines), and the pier in the background of Infected: Bloodlines. That’s it. She’s a genius, and the best thing I can do is get out of her way, so I do.

Q: Andrea, what can your readers expect to see in the future? More in the series we’ve talked about? New things in the works? Aside from the October 30th release of “Pretty Monsters” (Josh of the Damned #1), any upcoming dates we should know about?
A: I don’t have an exact release date yet – or cover art – but the next in the Infected series, Infected: Freefall, should be out by early next year (late this year at the earliest, but I doubt it’ll come out of that fast). There’s also the next in the Josh of the Damned series coming out in January, “Peek-A-Boo (Josh of the Damned #2)”, and for Josh stories down the road, there’s one about a rampaging giant mustache (I am not kidding), and possibly one about Cthulhu’s ne’er-do-well half brother. I’m also writing a fantasy novel called Strange Angels, which should be out on Riptide in the near future, depending on whenever I finish the thing.

Thank you, Andrea! I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to get to know you a bit and learn more about your work. I hope you’ll come back and visit again sometime.

I’d love to! If you’d have me, and if I haven’t been committed yet. (I understand mental institutions have spotty internet connections.)

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Ford, Noble, Barwell, Klune, Sylvre get together for a cluster… interview

We five authors had a lot of fun doing this, and we hope you’ll enjoy the results. Each of us came up with a question for the interview, and all of us answered every question. So let the games begin!

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As both a writer and a reader, what ingredients do you consider indispensable for a romance novel?

Anne:Interesting three dimensional characters and a ‘real’ relationship or building of one between them. I want to be able to care about the characters, even if it takes me a while to grow to like them. There also needs to be some conflict they need to work through whether it’s their history, a situation outside of their relationship or whatnot so that their HEA or HEA feels as though it’s deserved and worked for.

Lou:
Attraction
A common enemy or opposing force
Conflict between the parties to the romance
Resolution of that conflict
United victory over the external opposition
A final consummation or sealing of the new love.

Elizabeth: A solid plot and a good story with characters I have some sort of emotional reaction to, even if that means the character is a jerk.

I’m a huge fan of the happy ending, in some manner, and I’m not a fan of the tragedy. I read because I want to feel good, so the characters and the plot need to come to some logical end that is at least nice. I don’t mean they have to be ooey-gooey, just not in tears and emotionally wrecked at the end.

No matter the setting and world the characters must be believable and solid in their development and the development and progress of their relationship. I particularly need characters who can communicate and have a sense of humor.

T.J.: Believable characters. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been pulled out of a story when a character suddenly just does something that makes me go WTF!?!? It’s a bummer when that happens because it can definitely effect how I read and view the rest of the story. When I write, I have a long thought process for most scenes, where I will sit back when it’s finished and think “Okay, would (fill in the blank) REALLY do/say what whatever they just did/said?”

Rhys: A romance? Whoosh. Um. Keep track of the dead bodies. Never ever write about a ferret. And most importantly, I would say a sense of realism. I love happy ever afters as much as the rest but there’s something satisfying about seeing a relationship build over a series of books. And hot sex. Okay, that just helps.

Plot or character, which comes first?

Anne: A bit of both, depending on what I’m working on. I work a lot on what-ifs either with specific characters in mind or those characters show up and become a part of whatever happens or is going to happen. Once I have the basic plot, how the rest of the story develops is very much down to the characters and where they want it to go, often leading in directions I hadn’t thought of or where I hadn’t planned to go.

Lou: For me, character almost always come first. The characters demand my attention until I make them a story, but then they change the story as we go along until, in the end, it rarely resembles the story we started with.

Elizabeth: Ah, the old chicken or egg question…LOL For me it’s the plot and generally not even the entire plot. I’ll often come up with an entire plot idea based on some small scene or even a line in a scene or dialog. I’ll often imagine a character physically along with that little kernel of a plot idea, but I’ll develop the characters to suit the story.

T.J.: Characters, all the way. I have weirdness going on in my head where my characters “talk” to me and are born as such. Plot follows, but it’s usually only after I’ve already thought up how character will look/sound/act. But obviously, there have been moments where a set piece has come into my head and I love to find out how my characters will fall into it.

Rhys: I’d say the main characters. Mainly I write series so I need characters that can hold up over a few books. If they aren’t complex enough, then the plot of the book falls apart. For me, there are two sets of plots; the book’s plot which will be resolved at the end and the arc plot which should span over the series. There could be smaller sub-plots accompanying the main arc plot but they must supplement the overall story, not overwhelm the characters.

How do you name your characters, or do they already show up with their own names or ‘correct’ the names you’ve chosen?

Anne: Some characters turn up already named, others I have to hunt for. One of my favourite websites is ‘behind the name’ as it gives the meanings of the names and their origins which I like to keep in mind when I am naming characters. Others though, as I’ve said, just turn up with all of that in place and don’t care about what their names mean. I’ve also named characters, started writing and been told, in no uncertain terms, that no my name isn’t this, it’s this. I don’t tend to argue with them on that.

Lou: Naming my characters is almost a ritual with me. I struggle (though I enjoy it) to find a name that is right — representing ethnic origin and character traits, having the right sound, and interacting with other character names the right way. My first resource is a baby name book that I’ve had for years, but sometimes I use other sources, too. In the process, I almost always learn more about my character (by knowing what does and doesn’t fit), or at the very least solidify the character in my mind. Sometimes, a lesser character comes with a name: Margie, Jim Ladd, and (believe it or not) Mack Money. For the dog in Delsyn’s Blues, a reader named him in a contest. That was fun.

Elizabeth: I don’t have any specific ritual I go through to name characters and often the names just pop into my head. If I have the wrong name I know it and keep searching until the correct one shows up. Sometimes I use online name sites if I want a certain meaning or nationality.

Another trick I’ll do is go through the data base of names of at work and pick a first and last name that appeals to me. I’ll sometimes read movie or TV show credits for names. I keep a list of names to peruse when I’m naming characters.

T.J.: As a writer who has somewhat…different names of characters, I’ve been asked how I get the names that I do. (I anticipate that won’t change when This Is How We Burn The World comes out and people get to meet Seven, and the Clock Twins, Tick and Tock.) They generally show up in my head already named, but sometimes some tweaking is in order. For some reason, I’m drawn to “A” names for secondary characters and I have yet to figure out why.

Rhys: I usually “taste” a character’s name. It’s rare that I change something once I start writing. It has to fit the person before I start. I know the character. Then I name him or her.

Lion and Unicorn battling over the Crown

What is a “classic tale (fairy or otherwise)” that you’d like to retell. And how?

Anne: St George and the Dragon. I’d rework the story a bit though so that the so called dragon slayer really isn’t one and the dragon is a shifter and so naturally there’s a HFN in there for both of them. After all fairy stories and the like are only based on the truth and the actual story behind it can be quite different. *sigh* I’m going to have to write this one now at some point. Thanks, Rhys 😛

Lou: I don’t have anything specific, but I really love TH White’s The Once and Future King. Let’s face it, it’s chock full of little tales that could be—should be—gay.

Also, on a completely different note, there is a beautiful Iroquois tale that has at least a couple of versions for each of the nations about a young man who falls in love with a salmon wife. He sees that beneath the lake is a mirror-image world (and here we all thought it was reflection), and he goes to live with her there. No, he doesn’t drown! Why would you think that? ;-)Anyway, I think it would be very fine if the mirror-world lovers were both fine young men.

Elizabeth: The Three Musketeers. Well, I think instead of bromance there’d be more actual romance between the Musketeers. It sort of screams for it. I’m not sure who I’d pair with whom yet, but, yeah, that would be cool. My second choice would be the Atlantis legends.

T.J.: Sleepy Hollow, hands down. The original scared the crap out of me when I was a child and I recently read an M/M take on it that I though could have been so much more than it was. I’ve stewed on the idea for quite some time, even having gone as far to write a general outline, but I’ve stopped time and time again, just because I don’t think it’d be right to mess with what is obviously a classic.

Rhys: Damn it, I came up with this question and I don’t have an answer. What a fricking fail! Um… I would say a more current tale that I would love to re-tell is The Treasure is the Rose by Julia Cunningham. Fantastic book. Perhaps the Wizard of Oz. Less… psychotropic drugs but still, that would be fun. I would love to take a stab (no pun intended) at the Ninja Circus, an old Japanese drama about a group of assassins traveling from town to town as an entertaining troupe.

Is there a particular genre or sub-genre that you’ve always wanted to write in but have not done so yet? What would it be?

Anne: Gothic. I’d love to write a ghost story, but give it a bit of a twist and throw some romance into the mix.

Lou: Space opera!

Elizabeth: Space opera! I’ll have to second that.

T.J: Horror. Man, would I give my left arm to be able to write in horror. I’ve read every Stephen King book countless times and I always wished I could write a good horror story. I think that horror can definitely be effective in the long story/novella format i.e. Edgar Allen Poe, and I still hope to one day sit down and write something that’ll scare the bejesus out of everyone, myself included.

Rhys: Wow, I have no answer for this one either. I’ve written in a lot of genres. I would say I’d love to Regency romance (in the style of Loretta Chase). So much discipline and knowledge needed for those. And the language shifts. Totally daunting. And of course, as a male-male romance.

Anne Barwell is the author of Cat’s Quill, Tj Klune is the author of Bear, Otter, and the Kid, Rhys Ford is the author of Dirty Kiss, Elizabeth Noble penned Marked Yours, Together Bound, and Strays, and I wrote Loving Luki Vasquez.

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The Author Interview: MD Grimm on Whirlwinds and Wolves

Hello MD, and thanks for allowing me to feature you on sylvre.com. I’m looking forward to sharing some excerpts from your work, but first I’d like to ask a few questions about you, your ideas, and how you turn them into great fiction.

Thanks for having me and I’m also looking forward to sharing myself with potential readers. (sharing my ideas anyway, ;))

Q: You live in Oregon, now, according to your bio. Is that where you were raised? You said the “wet” state of Oregon, so I assume you live west of the Cascades. With the mountains on one side and the Pacific on the other, it’s a region with a lot of character, I think. Has the landscape influenced your writing? If so, how? You set Psychic Moon in Seattle. Have you spent much time there? Why did you choose to set the story there, and how big a part does locale play in the way your story plays out?
A: Yes, I was raised in Oregon. I live in the Willamette Valley. I suppose the landscape has influenced me in that I’m used to seeing trees and lots of them. Trees, mountains especially and just a lot of green. It’s hard for me to imagine living in a place which is flat and desert-like, which means I should probably stay away from Arizona and New Mexico. Most of the places I set my stories are usually forest-like or small towns, like the one I grew up in. As for Seattle, no I haven’t actually been to Washington, but I wanted a wet forest state with a humane center and Washington has a lot of forest parks, which allowed my characters to play in the woods.

Q: You’ve wanted to be an author since second grade, so I’m sure you’ve been writing right along. What or who has inspired you to keep your eyes on your goal along the road?
A: Amazingly, my entire family, close and extended, have inspired and supported me. Also, my favorite authors, just by reading their books, have influenced and inspired me, making me think that I could one day write as good (or close) as them.

Q: Was Psychic Moon your first published work? Of course, the publisher’s acceptance is the bona fide stamp of approval, but was there a point in writing the novel when you knew you had it—knew that this story was a winner and worthy of publication and would surely make it? If so, can you tell us a bit about that?
A: No, I have another story published by Torquere Press called “A Giant’s Friend”. It was my first work and I’ll admit, it needs some revision. Despite its flaws, I cherish it because it really made me believe I could become a published author and it opened up an entirely new world for me with resources I didn’t even known I needed (like Beta readers ). Psychic Moon is essentially based around an animal humane center because I watched several “Animal Cops” shows and was so touched and horrified by the abuse inflicted on animals meant to give humans comfort. I started to wonder what would happen if a shifter was involved and what he/she would do about it. Psychic Moon is that result and I was so passionate about this story, I was going to submit it to any and all publishers until one came back with a contract. I knew this story was worth telling and since most people have pets or had pets, I knew others would feel the same.

Q: Stories about (shape) shifters are quite popular right now, both in the M/M romance genre and elsewhere in genre fiction. Why do you think that’s true? What prompted you to write a shifter novel? How do you see your story—or your characters—as different from other novels about shifters? In this story, did your characters come first and drive the story, or did the plot create the need for characters like those you’ve created?
A: Shifters have certain (pardon the pun) animal magnetism to them. They are the “other” that challenges “normal” people and yet they can disguise themselves as one of us. I think they have a similar appeal as the vampire does—the primal, dominate, slightly savage nature that has no morals when they are in animal form. They are an escapist fantasy for people tired of human society, morals, and structure. For myself, all of that is true. That is why I love shifters, and I love coming up with different animals for shifters to be and matching their personalities to that animal. I haven’t read many other shifter stories (shame on me, I know) so I can’t say if my stories or characters are “different” but I like to think I have a unique take on them. The shifter stories I have read seem to present their shifters in a vacuum, sort of speak. The shifters just are with no real explanation why. I’m a big fan of why. I have a tendency to go back to the Beginning and create a story of why. Psychic Moon is only the first book in my shifters series and I have about twenty planned (for now). I delve more into the shifters’ past and the why of their existence. Another thing that’s “different” is that I have the Agency, a secret non-government, privately funded organization whose sole purpose is to keep shifters a secret to the general public and the act as the “policing” force against rogue shifters. As the series goes on, I get into the why of them as well. I have a whole bushel of stories and several-book storylines that are just nagging me to get out.

As for this story, and which came first, the plot or the characters, I’d have to say character. I do have a tendency to come up with both at the same time, however. This time, I thought of a shifter humane officer and a human vet and then the rogue shifter and Agency came after. The plot formed and solidified after that.

Q: MD, I ask this question of every author I interview. Some enjoy answering, some seem to squirm (although it’s hard to be sure just by the look of the words on the page). Regardless, none escape, and now it’s your turn. Who is sexiest, Derek or Brian? You can fudge (waffle a little), but you cannot cheat. (“Both” is not an answer.) You can’t choose a name and move on to the next question. Explanation is required. Think of it as a brief essay question. 😉
A: Derek. I love Brian, don’t get me wrong. He’s sweet, funny, loving and kind but Derek is the bad boy. They are both working to save animals from human cruelty and they are so cute together and Brian is sexy in his own right but I lean towards Derek. Maybe because I made him the alpha…

Q: The cover Reese Dante created for Psychic Moon is another example of her very fine work. How much influence did you have in determining what the cover would look like in general? Do you feel the men on the cover portray your characters in a generally accurate way?
A: I love that cover. When I first saw it, I stared at it for several seconds before squealing. I had a lot of influence on the cover, I described what I wanted and how I wanted the men positioned and the cover was even better than what I imagined. The men were even better than what was in my mind. I looked at the cover and I thought, “those are my guys.”

Q: I understand you have a couple more works coming up for publication based on these characters. Without giving away more than you’d like about any of your pieces, can you tell us a little more about what’s coming up? Can you share perhaps a little “teaser” excerpt? MD, if you don’t want to do that fine. If you do, go ahead and insert it as part of your answer.
A: I’d love to share that with you! I have a Christmas short coming up in December that involves Derek and Brian, titled Celtic Warrior and Wolf Spirit. I am very proud of it and it involves Brian’s very ex-boyfriend Kyle (the abusive one). He shows up and well… Derek doesn’t like that too much… It is Derek and Brian’s first Christmas together and Brian is determined to make it perfect, and of course, his plans get wrecked but something good comes out of it.
I also have book 2 of my shifter series coming out sometime in February or March, entitled Love is a Whirlwind. I introduce two new characters in this one, a human named Caleb and a bull shifter named Ryan (aka Whirlwind). Agent Poe, who first shows up in Psychic Moon, comes back in this one after Ryan is kidnapped. To find out who and why, I encourage you to read it!

Here is a Chapter 1 excerpt of Love is a Whirlwind:

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The bull flew out of the chute, bucking like a demon and the bull rider didn’t stand a chance. Whirlwind twisted like a tornado and kicked up dirt, making it hard for the bull rider to keep up. It wasn’t three seconds before the bull rider flew off and planted his face in the dirt.

The crowd ate it up, but the bull wasn’t done. Whirlwind ran after the rider even as the rodeo clowns descended on him, trying to keep the rider safe. Whirlwind seemed to be satisfied with running those jokers off and let the bull rider gain his feet. The cowboy high-tailed it out of the ring while Whirlwind flung his head around in triumph. He strutted for the crowd, the flank strap and bull rope falling to the ground.

Caleb grinned wide, his face actually hurting. He cheered and hollered with the rest of the crowd. That was his bull out there. His friend. With a coat of rich brown, deep brown eyes and the strength of an elephant, Whirlwind was a prize many stock contractors wanted. Numerous offers had been made but he and his mother would never sell Whirlwind, not for all the money in the world.

Whirlwind strutted into the out-gate, head high. He snickered. Whirlwind was so full of it. Arrogant prick. But he was Caleb’s arrogant prick. It was over. They had won. He knew without a doubt or looking at the points that Whirlwind had won. They would have some more money to take home and more prestige than they ever had before. He wished his dad was still alive. Wouldn’t his mother be ecstatic?

Of course, good ol’ Mandy O’Connell wasn’t one to get ecstatic. She would just nod, “humph” and say “good work”. But that was the equivalent of how other people would jump for joy and do a victory dance. For himself, he would do the victory dance. But it was too crowded in the arena to get a good one in at that moment.

The celebration wore one, the bull riding champion was named, pictures were taken and Caleb, along with his crew, were given the winner’s check and were nearly made blind by all the flashes of the cameras. The crowds slowly filed out, the media left and the cleanup crew came in. Caleb, by now sweating and probably smelling like a dumpster, made his way to the truck where Whirlwind was kept. The other bulls and the rest of his crew were already on their way home but he took care of Whirlwind personally. He drove the truck that housed the star bull and he set his own schedule when he started home. He always started a couple of days after everyone else.

“Hey Caleb!”

Annoyed, he turned around to see one of the rodeo clowns jogging towards him. He didn’t know his name but stopped and planned to give him only five minutes of his time.

“Hey,” he said lamely, “You were good out there.”

“Me,” the man laughed and slapped his shoulder. “What about you and that bull? Whirlwind’s amazing. Never seen a bull so quick and smart. Sort of eerie right, the way he knows just how to turn and when the buck and how high. Intelligent.”

Caleb shrugged, unease making his stomach cramp. “As far as bulls go, I guess he’s intelligent. You could also say he’s well trained. There were other bulls that were just as impressive.”

The rodeo clown still had his makeup and suit on and Caleb didn’t recognize him. They were about the same height and the clown was maybe a bit thicker around the chest and waist.

“Come on,” the clown said, nudging him. “Just between you and me, what’s the secret, huh? You have to admit, he almost has human intelligence, it just blazes in his eyes. Yet he’s a bull. Strange, right?”

His palms were sweating and he rubbed them on his jeans. “Yeah, right, listen, I have to go. Nice talking to you. Good show this week.”

He left as quickly as he could, never looking back. He rubbed his stomach and forced himself to put it aside. That wasn’t the first time he’d been asked about a “secret” when it came to Whirlwind, but there had been a strange gleam, almost manic, in the rodeo clown’s eyes and he hadn’t liked it. At all.

The bull was sleeping in his pen in the truck but instantly opened his eyes when Caleb approached. A large brown eye captured his own eyes and he stood in front of Whirlwind with a huge smile. The encounter with the rodeo clown drifted to the back of his mind and was buried. This wasn’t the day for worries, it was the day for celebration.

“We did it, buddy. Another notch on our belt and all that money. Maybe we should go commercial, huh? Have you sell a few products?”

Before his eyes, like many times before though it never lost its awe, Whirlwind shifted into Ryan, his best friend. The same rich brown eyes that had belonged to the bull now belonged to a thick, naked man kneeling inside the truck.

He had broad shoulders, a broad chest, thick waist, thighs and arms. He resembled a bull even in human form. But that wasn’t surprising when considering that Ryan’s mother had been an actual cow and his father had been in bull form during his conception. It was incredibly rare, nearly impossible, for offspring to be born from an animal and a shifter. Ryan was certainly one of a kind.

Caleb learned a lot about the real world from Ryan. Like the fact that there was a shifter community, a community filled with extraordinary creatures who could live as animal or as human.

Ryan raised an eyebrow. “We’re in Vegas. I’d rather go drinking.”
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Q: What can your readers expect from you in the next couple of years, in addition to what you’ve already shared? Are you writing in genres other than M/M? Anything else you’d like us to know?
A: Well, certainly more shifter stories and I’m working on another series, a fantasy one, which involves a mage who thinks he’s a villain, magic gemstones, dragons, elves, and a world resembling Earth but without the technology. I’m taking my time with these, considering they are unashamedly very fantasy and I want to make them as “realistic” as possible (beta readers are priceless!).

Thank you again, MD. It’s been a pleasure getting to know you a bit. I hope you will visit again.

It’s been great fun! I really enjoyed your questions and I hope I’ve gotten readers excited or at least curious about my future (and present) works. This really is my passion and it’s the readers who will keep me going.

(Bull Riding photo above by C. Szmurlo)

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4 Author Chat Oct 8th at Love Romances Cafe—You’re invited

On October 8th, we’re going to be chatting at Love Romances Cafe. Hours are noon-6 eastern (9-3 Pacific). We hope you’ll join us.

Participating authors:

Elizabeth Noble author of Marked Yours and Strays

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Tj Klune author of Bear, Otter, and The Kid

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Anne Barwellauthor of Cat’s Quill

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Lou Sylvre author of Loving Luki Vasquez

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As you see, quite a variety of styles and themes. We’ll be chatting about what’s out, what’s soon to be out, what we’re working on, but also about whatever you’d like know.

We’ll be having contests, posting excerpts, and blurbs, and who knows what else. I really, really hope you’ll come and chat with us!

Oh, yeah, one more thing. Here’s the link to Love Romances Cafe, and you have to join to chat. Of course you can unjoin later if you want, but they have some great promos there, from time to time.

Leave a comment here if you have any questions.

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