Tag Archives: m/m

$25 prize 5-minutes-in-heaven part 2: select an excerpt to enter

Well, I’m behind… who is surprised? I was supposed to put this part two up yesterday. But (insert credible excuse here) so I’m racing to try to catch up. The $25 prize is still up for grabs. If you offered an excerpt to be considered for my five-minutes-in-heaven reading (9/14, Seattle, happy hour following GRNW), then your name is in the bucket once. But now vote, and you enter again. If you didn’t offer a selection, you can still enter by voting! There are seven selections, please vote twice. The entries are here, I’ve linked here from facebook, twitter, and goodreads. You can vote at any one of the sites (whatevers easiest for you). Voting is open for one week, through 8/7/13. on 8/8, I’ll announce a winner and which excerpt I’ll read.

#1 (Lou’s own selection) On the Hilltop Before the Wedding, in Finding Jackie 823 words)

Finding Jackie by Lou Sylvre art by Reese Dante THE Hawaiian sky stretched wide, exactly the hue of Delsyn’s Blue #3, which would make it all that much easier for Sonny James to eventually weave a tapestry commemorating the day of his marriage to Luki Vasquez. The lava at Sonny’s feet seemed peculiarly lumpy; he studied its color as he stepped across the nearly flat-topped hill where they would be wed. Splashes of dark red lay almost hidden in the surface. From a distance, one would never guess they were there. If Sonny had encountered that coloring a year ago, he would have woven it with judicious touches of Sonny’s Red, a dye that had long been his trademark. But once he’d been forced to stand and watch his nephew’s precious, red blood drip into white porcelain, Sonny’s Red was dead and gone, and even scarlet and carmine no longer held a prominent place in his art.

“No,” he said, forcing the horrors from his mind. “Happier things today.” He half turned just as Luki—his lover, fiancé, groom, and at the moment the most breathtaking part of the scenery—stepped near. Thinking “groom” made Sonny smile, and when Luki held out his big, capable hand, Sonny recognized the invitation and held out his own, letting Luki twine their fingers together.

“Hey, sweetie,” Luki said, his scratchy voice nevertheless deep and musical.
“Hey,” Sonny answered, feeling suddenly shy under Luki’s gaze—an inexplicable reaction, though not unusual. Their eyes met as they leaned toward each other for a kiss, and even though the sight was far from new, Luki’s pale blue irises, bright eyes surrounded with black lashes and dark skin, startled Sonny, and he caught his breath in surprise. Sometimes those eyes were like ice. Used to be that way more often than not, but lately the irises were nearly always dark-centered, wide open with love when they looked at Sonny, and the corners of Luki’s eyes often crinkled with a smile that didn’t quite reach his lips. He smiled like that now, in that very moment on the lava hill, and his eyes danced, reflecting blue sky, blue ocean, sunlight. The grooms shared their kiss, chaste but full of promise. Then, Luki pulled Sonny’s hand to his lips and kissed the finger that bore the fire opal engagement ring. Sonny’s mouth went dry.

“Kaholo’s on his way up the mountain,” Luki reported. “We’ll be saying our vows in just minutes, baby.” His voice held an edge of excitement that Sonny would have bottled if he could. Miracles like that thrill in Luki’s words, like that flush over his dusky skin, were not things that happened every day—even now, even after Luki had learned how to love. Sonny breathed deep in an effort to slow his thoughts enough to savor that and everything beautiful about the day. And Sonny was honest enough, and artist enough, to admit that he was part of the beauty—he and Luki both.

Both men wore white. Luki’s suit fit loosely, almost blousy, giving him plenty of room for his muscled chest and shoulders, yet at the same time it had been tailored so perfectly that, while it only showed off some of Luki’s curves and planes, it eloquently promised the rest. He wore a tie of barely blue silk, woven by Sonny with a subtle, obscured pattern of lauburu—the Basque Cross. They’d gotten legally married at home in Washington State, but they were both thinking of this Hawaiian ceremony as their real wedding. Luki had asked for that, in honor of his Hawaiian ancestors. But Sonny had thought it proper to have something to honor Luki’s Basque heritage too, and when he found the lauburu, a simple, ancient, pagan symbol of prosperity, he took some joy in weaving it into the tie.

Sonny wore white silk, an Italian cut customized for his height and slightly broader shoulders, following closely the slim lines of his elegant frame. He wore a white ribbon shirt, with the remaining three sacred colors in the ribbons—narrow strips of a blue so deep it was almost black, golden yellow, and dark red. They crossed his chest and climbed his shoulders, then hung from his shoulder blades in the back, hidden now under his jacket. The two silk-covered buttons of Sonny’s light-weight, summer wool jacket had been set with diamonds at the center. A silk scarf woven—like the ribbons on his shirt—of the four sacred colors from his tribal heritage, fluttered at his chest in the slight breeze. Sonny had created both Luki’s tie and his own scarf, and they carried meaning—almost as much as the rings they would exchange.
Reality check, Sonny thought. Nothing meant nearly as much to him as Luki himself, as he was just then, awaiting their wedding—his eyes excited, his smile nervous, his touch warm on Sonny’s hand.

#2 The Wedding Ceremony suggested by Traci from Finding Jackie 597 Words

Finding Jackie by Lou Sylvre art by Reese Dante The ceremony involved simple words, panic, laughter, and tears.

First, Kaholo led them through some traditional vows. To have and to hold, to love and to cherish, and so forth. Luki stopped himself from thinking, yada, yada.

Then it was Luki’s turn to wing it. He’d rehearsed only a little and never really planned the words. He was surprised how easy they came, how good they felt. “Sonny, I promise to love you, never to try to change you, to trust you with my heart and with everything I have, and always to remember how precious, how fine, how beautiful you are to me. And I’ll keep you safe, Sonny. I’ll always keep you safe.”

Panic entered the picture when it came time for Sonny to respond—which he couldn’t seem to do, really. “I… I… Luki, I… oh.” Tears started, and Luki had no idea what to do until Josh nudged him and mouthed the word handkerchief.

“Oh!” Luki said. “Yeah. Here, baby.” He held the snowy-white square out as if he was going to wipe his groom’s nose, but Sonny snatched it away, swiped it down his face, and then grabbed hold of Luki’s shoulders, bending slightly to bury his face in Luki’s neck. Luki reached up and put his two big hands over Sonny’s slender ones—Sonny’s trembling hands that seemed so vulnerable. “Shh, sweetie. It’s okay. You don’t have to say anyth—”

“Shut up, Luki, of course I have to say something.”

Those words left Luki slack-jawed again, but the need to decide what to say or do was swept away from him as Sonny stood away once more, grabbing both of Luki’s hands and holding them to his chest, where the many-colored scarf buffeted against them in the breeze, tickling. Luki met his lover’s dark, dark eyes, and found them smoldering despite the rim of moisture, smoldering with such intense sincerity or need that Luki wondered absently if a spark would ignite them like oil on water.
“Yes, Luki. I have to say things. I have to tell you that I… will love you and no other, body and soul… will honor your strength and cherish it. And, Luki, I promise to give you what I am. Every day I want to show you beauty—the beauty I see in the world. That vision is the best I have to give, the best of what I am. And….” His voice trailed to a whisper. “Thank you, Luki, for loving me so much.”

“The rings,” Kaholo said, somehow managing to put an audial eye roll in the words. Josh passed one to Luki, and Jackie passed one to Sonny, and chuckling with their guests they pushed them past knuckles that seemed to have recently grown too large.

“Kiss, then,” Kaholo ordered, and pronounced them a pair of husbands.

Everyone had survived. The boys began to help the guests line up for congratulations. Neither of the men had wanted a receiving line, but Kaholo and Leilani insisted. Both of the men looked a little shell-shocked, but a worried look suddenly flashed across Luki’s face. “Wait!

All eyes turned Luki’s way as he dropped Sonny’s hand and reached into his vest pocket. “I forgot something important. Sonny, this is a wedding present. I know it isn’t all glamorous or anything, but… I hope you’re happy with it.” He held out a hand to Kaholo, a hand holding a half-smoked pack of cigarettes and his dad’s USS Vincent/Dennis the Menace vintage lighter. “Uncle, please take these. I’m quitting. As of right now, I don’t smoke.”

#3 from Bluesimplicity First Meeting from Loving Luki Vasquez 557 words

LovingLukiVasquezLg cover Reese Dante BRIGHT clothes, sunburns. Summer had arrived, and Port Clifton was awash in tourists. Since Juan de Fuca Boulevard constituted most of the town, they had nowhere else to go. They chattered and milled about, and Sonny Bly James wasn‟t in the mood for chatter or milling because he was worried about his nephew, Delsyn, who always stayed gone for days, but who should have come home by now. Sonny quickened his long-legged strides and slid through the crush, trying to disturb the air as little as possible on the way to his truck.

Then he saw a man.

Which in itself wasn‟t unusual, but this man, an islander, maybe Hawaiian, by the look of him, lounged cool and beautiful in loose summer whites, half-sitting on the fender of an ice-blue Mercedes, a strip of sand beach and the blue straits for a backdrop. Dark chestnut curls shining; straight, white teeth softly teasing a lush, plum-red bottom lip. His eyes, startling pale blue against brown skin, roved all over Sonny; the islander made no effort to pretend otherwise, and besides, Sonny could feel them. Their touch trickled over him like ice water, exciting every nerve he had, even those he‟d never heard from before.

Which scared Sonny, a recluse by choice—and, he knew, because he‟d always managed to be socially… well, clumsy. So, he turned to the weapon that had been his first line of defense since adolescence, when all the reservation had noticed that their star young grass dancer didn‟t mind being gay: a smart mouth.

“What are you looking at?”

Even though the islander had responded by looking away, Sonny knew he hadn‟t—couldn‟t have—intimidated him. The stranger might have been a few inches shorter than him, but judging by his physique, and despite his laid-back manner, Sonny guessed the man could have dropped him with a cold look and a slap. It would have been less of a blow if he had. Instead, he freed his lower lip from his teeth and spoke.

“I beg your pardon.”

Sonny wanted to let a whole raft of words spill out, starting with “I didn‟t mean it,” and ending with “so kiss me, now.” But the man‟s attention had turned away. A baby in a stroller dropped a floppy brown bear at his feet. The young mother looked frazzled, at her wit‟s end, carrying another child and trying to keep a third from making a dash down the boulevard. The islander squatted down—a graceful move—and picked up the bear. Right before Sonny‟s eyes, his icy exterior melted, and though he didn‟t smile and couldn‟t pass for cheerful, he somehow seemed kind. He handed the stuffed creature back to the baby, who seemed to like him. She expressed her gratitude by spouting a number of syllables that all sounded a lot like “da.”

Sonny, angry with himself for blowing his chance to meet this chill but beautiful stranger—who might be trying to hide a kind heart—pretended he hadn‟t seen. He turned his faux-stoic shoulder and walked away. A little shaky, perhaps; already sorry. Three strides and he heard a voice, unexpectedly scratchy, even hoarse.

“Hey.”

Sonny turned.

The man took a deep, lovely breath, flashed his cold-fire eyes at Sonny, and said, “I have coffee most mornings at Margie‟s. In case you‟re interested.”

#4 Suggested by Juliana The Tucking-in Scene at the Hotel from Loving Luki Vasquez 418 words

LovingLukiVasquezLg cover Reese Dante After a while Sonny‟s breathing calmed. Luki flared his nostrils to draw in the smell of Sonny‟s sex, like saving it up, and rose to his knees.

Sonny looked spent. Not necessarily in a bad way, but Luki hoped he hadn‟t overtaxed him, what with his injury and all. He moved up next to him, handed him the water glass, and propped him up to drink from it. Not at all sure what to make of his own feelings, Luki nevertheless curled up around Sonny, cradled his head and kissed the top of it.

Sonny said, “You?”

“No. Another time. This was for you, Sonny.”

Sonny pulled his head away to look at him. After a time he whispered, half asleep, “You‟re smiling.”

“I guess I am. I‟ll probably have to rectify that.”

“Punctures the tough-guy image.”

“Almost irreparably. Are you hurting, now that you‟re awake and not being driven into a sexual frenzy? Do you want some more pain meds?”

Sonny hesitated. “Yeah, I think so.”

Luki extracted himself from his cozy situation reluctantly, then resisted the instinct to rush after

Sonny, who had rolled off the bed and set off for the bathroom.

Damn, Sonny, what if you fall! Damn, Luki, give it a rest!

Sonny made it back in one piece and, breathing again, Luki brought him his pill and plumped his pillows and helped him lay down without straining his injured muscle and pulled the blanket up and….

“What are you doing, Luki?”

“I‟m tucking you in.”

“Tucking me in?”

“Yes.” He hoped he was managing a cold and intimidating expression. “You have some sort of problem with that?”

Sonny laughed hard enough that Luki worried about his stitches—what the hell is going on with me—and kept laughing when Luki turned the lights out and stepped to the balcony to smoke, flopping on a cushioned wicker chair with one leg draped loosely over the arm.

Sonny fell silent, and a moment later his drowsy advice floated out to the balcony. “You should quit.”

“News,” Luki said. He found the night air, the lights on the water, the faint noises of traffic a lot more satisfying than would usually have been the case. He suspected he was still smiling, even though it wasn‟t stretching his scar.

Sonny‟s low, buttery voice came again, softly, from the edge of sleep. “Luki?”

“Mmm.”

“Uh… thank you?”

Luki smiled some more, which should have alarmed him but didn‟t. “You‟re welcome, sweetie,” he said. “You‟re more than welcome.”

#5 Suggested by Kat The Ambulance Ride (Neck Collar) Loving Luki Vasquez 473 words

LovingLukiVasquezLg cover Reese Dante The EMT had already checked Luki over, catalogued cuts and bruises and—mostly on his hands—relayed information about body temperature, pulse, and respiration to the ER. He moved on, and Luki tried to catch glimpses of Sonny as the EMT moved up and down the narrow aisle between them. He saw bloody patches on his clothes, gashes on his arms, one place on his left shoulder where both shirt and skin had been peeled away. A cotton pad had been laid under his back, and blood oozed into it, blooming along the edge near Luki.

Just when Luki felt despair looming over him, Sonny inhaled sharply, cleared his throat.

“Mr. James,” the EMT said. “Glad to see you‟re with us.”

Sonny said nothing. His breathing sounded ragged.

The EMT moved into Sonny‟s line of sight, which meant Luki could see Sonny too. Alive. Awake. Relief struck so fast and hard it hurt. Luki thought that, though he‟d survived everything else, this just might stop his heart.

“Mr. James, can you hear me? Do you know where you are?”

Which is when Luki realized that his own hearing had returned. Though a bit muffled, it was acute enough to hear Sonny rasp his answers.

“Can hear. I‟m in hell. Delsyn? Luki?”

“You know damn well you‟re not in hell, Mr. James.”

“Sonny.”

“Okay, Sonny. Delsyn was airlifted about three minutes before the blast; they got away clean and will be at Nebraska Hospital in about ten, I‟d say—”

“Factor?”

“Yeah, that turned out well. Mr. Vasquez‟s folks had the stuff in spades. Not quite sure how they got it, but I imagine that little breach of legal etiquette will be overlooked in light of the outcome. He‟s getting factor and red cells, and they‟ll transfuse him as soon as they arrive at the hospital. I can call and see if I can get an update, if you like, as soon as we clear this mockery of a road and reach the highway.”

“Luki?”

“He‟s right here, to your left—that‟s the side that probably hurts the most—and he won‟t stop staring at you. Not sure what that‟s about….”

It looked like an effort, but Sonny turned his head. Luki crinkled his brow, thinking they should have had a neck collar on him. What’s wrong with these people? But when Sonny locked his soft brown eyes on him, Luki forgot about his complaints. It felt like forever that they stared at each other. To him, it seemed they floated in a vacuum; nothing else existed but his lover and the small part of him that was good enough to let Sonny love him back. Finally, the ride smoothed out as the aid van pulled onto the highway, and the two of them spoke at once.

“What,” they said, “are you looking at?”

#6 The Blood Bowl Loving Luki Vasquez suggested by Cynthia 712 words

LovingLukiVasquezLg cover Reese Dante The ATF experts confirmed that, indeed, there were explosives in the van. They confirmed that the hardwired device did appear to be a detonator. They were a little surprised, and alarmed, at the ingenuity Royce had used in rigging the heat-sensitive switch. Maybe it wasn‟t a first, but this bunch hadn‟t seen that twist before.

“We don‟t have any way to be sure about the remote detonator because we could set it off while trying to find the closed signal. Cell phone controlled detonators are pretty common, easily done, and it seems he‟s got the know-how, so I think we‟d best assume it‟s real. As far as that heat-activated switch, we‟ve got a solution.”

Janine helped him pull a cut-off, dark green, insulated ATF vest over his head, which covered the face of the lens but missed the various wires. “There,” she said, in a voice like everybody‟s kid sister. “Now we‟re all a notch safer and you‟re more stylish into the bargain.”

Sonny actually smiled at that, which he found unbelievable. But it did feel good, like it untied one of the numerous knots in his belly.

“Hey, Sonny,” Duff said. “We‟ve got some of Luki‟s people here—employees, we call them. We‟re kind of snooty so we don‟t call them agents even though they‟re damn good ones. And our folks are calling in from Kaholo‟s. I‟m supposed to be the boss, so I need to hear everything. I‟m going to leave Janine here for company. She likes to gossip, so just tell her to button up if she‟s bothering you. And, Sonny, calm is the word. If it helps, I‟ve done this job for twenty-two years, done dozens of situations, and I can tell you the odds are on our side.”

Sonny nodded as the fiftyish man walked away. It surprised him how much calmer he did feel, just having the agents there. Have faith. Luki was right of course. There would be a way out, even if it hadn‟t come into view. He looked into the windows at Delsyn‟s blood. Still dripping. Still a steady rhythm. He reminded himself that, though it seemed a lifetime, not much time had passed. Del would be alright as long as they could get him out of that van alive.

He saw a black speck in the left hand blood bowl. It moved.

(Passage of time)

A fly.

SONNY could see nothing but the black fly in the bowl of blood. It had subverted every cell capable of forming thoughts. It didn‟t move, and Sonny wondered if flies drown. But, still as it was, he soon forgot that it was a fly at all. Just a dot of black on a field of red. Red that didn‟t quite match Sonny‟s red, the dye no one could copy, but almost. Whoever made this red, he thought, should be proud. He wanted that red, wanted to weave it through weft of the same hue….

“Mr. James… Mr. James!”

For a split instant, Sonny wondered why the young woman was bothering him, couldn‟t she see he was working? He lifted his eyes from the porcelain bowl in order to scold her. On the way to do that he saw Delsyn, then the van, then remembered the monstrous device strapped to his belly, and he came back.
He breathed a deep and quivering sigh, licked dry lips, and focused on Janine. “Sorry,” he croaked.

“Mr. James, did you hear the explosion?”

He realized that he had, though he‟d shut it away.

The sergeant, Duff, trotted toward them. “Are you holding up okay, Sonny?”

“The explosion?”

“Yeah, that‟s what I want to talk about. We got a radio call from the agents who went upstream, following the trail Vasquez left, presumably for us. An old powerhouse on the river is what blew.” He slicked his hair back, as if stalling. As if he didn‟t want to say more. “It‟s pretty clear that the bomber was in there. Since the remote detonator signal, apparently, did not come, we‟re operating on the assumption that the bomber went down with the building.

“Luki.”

“We don‟t know. We haven‟t found him, but he‟s always been crafty. And strong. There‟s hope.”

“Faith.”

“Pardon.”

“He told me to have faith. In him. In chances.”

#7 First Reunion Love Scene Beginning Delsyn’s Blues (Lou’s own selection) 607 words

delsynsbluesfs1.jpg An hour later, Luki stepped outside to smoke, no jacket against the cold, dry wind, nothing between his eyes and the stars. Dry, cold, and clear—a rare March night here on the Olympic Peninsula. He walked out to sit on the drift log halfway between Sonny’s house and the water. A square of artificial daylight lay on the sandy grass to his left, bursting out through the window of Sonny’s studio, where he was probably hard at work.

“I’m going to my studio,” he’d said a short while ago. “See if I can clean it up some.”

“Want help?”

One word answer, “No.” And he walked away.

Luki refused to wonder if now, inside his studio, something bad was happening to Sonny—emotions, memories, dope, whatever. He told himself for the hundredth time it was about trust. Soon, his cigarette had come to its predestined seven-minute end, and he was starting to feel the bite of the cold. But instead of going in, he walked down to the edge of the water, dark as it was, with stars sprinkled in the quiet waves. At the edge of his vision, he noticed the studio light disappear from the ground, and moments later he felt, more than heard, Sonny coming out of the house, walking toward him. He didn’t turn
around, but when Sonny reached an arm over his shoulder, Luki took Sonny’s hand and kissed it, not surprised at all, and led him back to the driftwood seat.

Sonny straddled the log next to Luki and leaned in to kiss Luki’s neck. Which tickled in a most seductive way. Sonny’s long legs grabbed hold of him like pincers, and he dragged his lean fingers over Luki’s chest, leaving heat trails on Luki’s night-chilled skin. The whole event felt like a stroke of better-than-luck to Luki because, though he refused to jump to conclusions, he was pretty sure Sonny was making sexual advances. And it had been a couple or a hundred months since any such thing occurred or even was hinted at. So if his response was a little too enthusiastic, a little too heated, he hoped Sonny would forgive him for that.

Better than forgiving, Sonny matched him flame for flame, and pretty soon hands were inside clothes and doing some exquisite touching, tickling, rubbing. But it wasn’t all that comfortable—cold and clothed—so Luki breathed, “Bed, sweetie.”

“Yeah,” Sonny answered, but he didn’t stop what he was doing, and Luki didn’t really want him to.

It made it all the more difficult to insist. “Come on, baby, let’s go.” He took Sonny’s hand out of his clothing and they both jogged, holding hands and holding up their unzipped pants with their free hands, moving about as gracefully as contestants in a three-legged race. Which made Sonny guffaw. He did it from time to time and it always delighted Luki—made him sort of laugh too.

When they reached the house, Luki slammed the door behind them with a foot and rushed to catch up with Sonny, who was already shirtless and dropping his jeans and a step away from the bed. All Luki could think about was skin, Sonny’s skin: bare, sweet, brown skin over legs and ass and chest and shoulders and toes and fingers and yes, penis. Perhaps the sweetest skin of all, that. He wanted so badly to taste it.

When Sonny’s jeans came off and he stood bare and enflamed, molded by lamplight, Luki’s entire being—every sense, every belief, and everything he knew in all the world—was about Sonny, the beautiful, breathtaking, heart-stealing man standing naked before him.

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Filed under Contests, Dreamspinner Press, Lou Sylvre, Vasquez & James

Win a $25 prize! 5 Minutes in Heaven Contest (and author rescue)

GRNW_Sylvre_Ad copy by Reece Wedschilde

It’s simple, really. I’ll be reading my work at the Gay Rom NW meet-up happy hour on 9/14 in Seattle, and I can’t decide what to read! 5 minutes, 550 to 700 words, on the theme 5 minutes in heaven. That means the readings have to be sweet stuff, happy, sexy, poignant perhaps but not angsty or scary, etc. 2 part contest, double-down by playing both parts. PART ONE (starts now!): nominate a favorite passage from any Vasquez and James book! Make your nominations here in comments. Every nomination get’s your name in the hat! PART TWO (starts Tuesday 7/28) I’ll post a link to all possible passages nominated or selected separately by me, and you vote. Your vote gets your name in the hat again. Summary–play either part or both, help me out (save my butt), and maybe win a bunch of book money!

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Filed under Contests, Dreamspinner Press, Lou Sylvre, M/M romance, Vasquez & James

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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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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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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Filed under Dreamspinner Press, featured authors, New M/M releases, Writers on writing

Jana Denardo: *The Darkest Midnight in December* and 50 sizzling words

Click the cover image for the buy link at the Dreamspinner Store.
The year is 1930, and something is hunting infants and young couples in Economy Village, PA. When a local priest begins to suspect a demon may be the culprit, the sheriff calls in a team of Soldiers from the Sun.

Caleb, Agni, Temple, and Li specialize in demon hunting, but they can’t rule out an old religious sect as the true culprit. Prejudice, distraught parents, and angry townspeople don’t make the team’s job any easier. And if something goes wrong, they’re on their own, because by the time their backup arrives, it will be too late.

Jana Denardo’s career choices and wanderlust take her all over the United States and beyond. Much of her travels make their way into her stories. Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Mystery have been her favorite genres since she started reading, and they often flavor her erotic works. In her secret identity, she works with the science of life and calls on her medical degree often in her stories. When she’s not chained to her computer writing, she functions as stray cat magnet. She’s also learning that the road to enlightenment is filled with boulders she keeps falling over and that the words gardening and Zen don’t go together no matter what anyone says.

My web presence:
http://jana-denardo.livejournal.com/
http://twitter.com/#/JanaDenardo

The Interview

Q: How important are character names, to you, and how do you go about naming them? What about titles?
A: You started out with a toughie. For me, the process of naming a character is very difficult. I often take days, if not weeks, to find the right name, sometimes even going so far as to put in a generic name to switch out later, once I know more about the character. I also try to find one that fits ethnically, if that’s important to that character.

Titles are even harder. I’m a little ashamed to say that, sometimes, there is much whining and begging for help in that department on my blog. (Bet my first readers will say it’s more than sometimes).

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: Pittsburgh and Ambridge, or at least the Old Economy part of the latter, was the locale of my most recent novella, The Darkest Midnight in December. It’s also set in the 1930’s. It was compelling for the story to have Old Economy, as its history played into the demon-hunting aspects of the story. It made a good counterpoint to the demons, as the founders of the village were a celibate Christian sect.

I don’t choose the setting the same way every time. Sometimes, especially if the setting plays a role in the story, it has to be a very carefully considered locale. Sometimes, it’s a place I just vacationed in, like with “Haunted” in Dreamspinner’s Two Tickets to Paradise anthology, or is a place I’ve lived in. I was born and raised in the Pittsburgh area, so I knew something about the area I was writing about for The Darkest Midnight in December. Also, I look at the characters’ jobs, and set my stories somewhere appropriate to that in some cases, like the holiday story I just finished, where a mountainous area was needed.

Q: How much power do you give your characters in steering the story line?
A: I give them most of the power. I’m in Stephen King’s “Let it Spin” camp, so I follow where the characters lead me. Of course, I have ideas where a story will start and end, but the rest is from the characters as they come to life.

Q: What is the most satisfying element for you in writing gay relationships, and why?
A: I’ve never really thought about it. I write all kinds of characters of various orientations. I started emphasizing gay relationships about fifteen years ago, when various writing instructors, writers groups and first readers told me that I couldn’t write gay characters and be taken seriously along with a whole host of other narrow-minded crap. I said, ‘Watch me.’ I’m ornery that way. I won’t say that’s satisfying except in the most cynical of ways, but it really is one of the reasons I started writing in this field. I hate seeing people marginalized. I think if I had to pick one thing that satisfied me most, it is the opportunity to show love is love.

Q: Are readers involved in making your fiction—do they suggest stories or say what they’d like to read?
A: So far, not so much and I’ve tried to engage them in this sort of thing on my blog. In my non-pro stuff, yes, they do. I, at least, try to get ideas from my first readers and friends on my blog. It’s been surprisingly unsuccessful. I could only wish it was like the fanfiction side of life, where people offer me all sorts of ideas.

Q: Describe the ideal relationship between author and readers.
A: For me, that would be the moment when they tell me they were up all night or late to work so they could finish the story. Or maybe when they didn’t quite want to finish the end because they didn’t want to say goodbye. If I can give them a story that touches them and they, in turn, want to tell others about the book, I think the ideal relationship has been reached.

Q: What do you find useful about reviews?
A: I know a lot of people don’t care for reviews, especially reader based ones like Amazon and Goodreads (and I’ve seen those sites light up like New Year’s Eve when someone feels their review has been ignored or disputed). Even with those sites, I can often find something worthwhile in a review, be it good or bad. All reviews, regardless of source, should reflect something of my writing that I need to know. Sometimes, it’s a weakness, and even if it hurts to hear it, there have been many cases where I have to agree about the weakness and hope to do better next time. Of course, if it’s a positive review, that’s enough to make me grin all day. That said, probably very quickly there will be a time where I do not even look at them for my own peace of mind. The reviews are more for the reader than they really are for me.

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: This is always a ridiculously hard question to answer. Probably I’d have to give the edge to Arrigo, one of my Las Vegas vampires (see Crisis of Faith with Dreamspinner Press). He’s certainly been taking up real estate in my head the longest (I started writing him in the early 1990’s). Arrigo has the coloring I love, that dark olive skin, long, black hair and chocolate eyes. He’s been alive for nearly two thousand years, so to say he’s experienced in lovemaking is probably a wee bit of an understatement.

Q: What are the fifty hottest words (approximate the word count) you’ve ever written, in your opinion. (Be sure to include citation).
A: Another really tough one. This is from “Snowbound” in the Dreamspinner anthology, Necking. (The same characters are in the prequel The Darkest Midnight in December.)

Taking hold of Temple’s hips, Agni complied, pounding into
Temple, raw and unbridled. Caleb felt the transmitted force. It took
Temple a few moments to get the fast rhythm but he matched it, diving
into Caleb deep. Temple’s breath rasped in Caleb’s ear. Caught in the
middle, the redhead’s moans dissolved into a symphony of inarticulate
cries until one final sharp one as he emptied into Caleb.

Q: What are you doing now, what do plan to write next?
A: I’m going to be doing Nanowrimo in November, and I do erotica every other year, so I’m currently trying to figure out what to write. Another story with my 1930’s demon hunter series? A modern day demon hunter story also set in Pittsburgh? A traditional fantasy story?

I’m also working on finishing a novel length story for my Las Vegas vampires and I’m within 10K of finishing an urban fantasy novel featuring an injured Iraqi vet and that story has become very special to me. I did my residency in VA hospitals and had wanted to go into service myself. Veterans, their service and sacrifice, mean a lot to me, so the characters in this story do as well.

Excerpt from The Darkest Midnight in December

“How many babies have gone missing?” Li asked.

Caleb tapped the briefcase holding a stack of files given to him by General Taglioferro before they left their headquarters in Pittsburgh. “Three and several couples. The local priests and police think it’s all the work of demons.”

“I was too busy packing.” Temple patted the box that held his Tommy gun and ammunition. “I didn’t get a chance to check out what the Order already knows about what’s going on here.”

“Once again, Li, your partner was napping.” Agni leveled a look at Temple who wrinkled his nose.

“We’ll bring him up to date once we get there.” Li pulled his coat tighter as the truck taking them from train station to hotel lurched down the road. “I just want to know why we have to ride in the bed with the luggage.”

“We all wouldn’t have fit.” Caleb shrugged. “And the driver they sent didn’t want any demon hunters in the cab with him, like we’ll infect him with our ability to see the demons or something.”

“Idiot. Who does he think is going to save this dumb town?” Temple grumbled.

“I also think he wasn’t too keen on our partners.” Caleb glanced over at his Hindu partner. Agni’s dark skin peeked out from where he had a scarf wound around his hooded head.

Temple snorted. “Big surprise. One of Father’s biggest complaints about me joining the Soldiers of the Sun and not the Knights Templar was that we welcomed all faiths, all cultures. I thought he’d go apoplectic when he found out I have a Chinese partner,” he said. The wind nearly whipped away his whispered, “too bad he didn’t just die from it.”

The four demon hunters hunkered down, trying to keep out of the wind as the truck wound its way through Ambridge, Pennsylvania. The store fronts winked by with promises of Christmas treasures on offer. The holiday was only a few days away. None of them, Temple in particular, had wanted to leave home before Christmas. There was no guarantee they wouldn’t be spending the holiday holed up in their hotel, nursing demon-inflicted wounds.

The brick hotel looked hospitable enough, and the truck owner was quick to help them off his truck and inside, away from him. It wasn’t an entirely new reaction. As Soldiers of the Sun, they had long since gotten used to people being wary of them. The hotel staff shunted them upstairs just as swiftly to adjoining rooms. Temple scowled at the metal bed frame of his twin bed in the room he shared with Li.

“This bed better be movable,” he grumbled.

“If you keep me awake, that adjoining door will be a pathway to your doom,” Agni warned grimly.

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Filed under Dreamspinner Press, featured authors, Writers on writing

Kim Fielding on writing for readers and other stuff, and a sweet excerpt from *Speechless*

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

Travis Miller has a machining job, a cat named Elwood, and a pathetic love life. The one bright spot in his existence is the handsome guitar player he sometimes passes on his way home from work. But when he finally gathers the courage to speak to the man, Travis learns that former novelist Drew Clifton suffers from aphasia: Drew can understand everything Travis says, but he is unable to speak or write.

The two lonely men form a friendship that soon blossoms into romance. But communication is only one of their challenges—there’s also Travis’s inexperience with love and his precarious financial situation. If words are the bridge between two people, what will keep them together?

Kim Fielding lives in California and travels as often as she can manage. A professor by day, at night she rushes into a phonebooth to change into her author costume (which involves comfy clothes instead of Spandex and is, sadly, lacking a cape). Her superpowers include the ability to write nearly anywhere, often while simultaneously doling out homework assistance to her children. Her favorite word to describe herself is “eclectic” and she’s currently considering whether to get that third tattoo.

Links:
http://kfieldingwrites.blogspot.com
https://www.facebook.com/KFieldingWrites

The Interview

Q: How important are character names, to you, and how do you go about naming them? What about titles?
A: Names are very important to me—they’re one of the first things I decide. They can tell you something about the age and background of the character, and I also try to choose names that tell you something about personality. For example, in my novella Speechless, one of the characters has aphasia and can no longer communicate verbally. His name is Drew. In an upcoming novel, Venetian Masks, Jeff is a very ordinary guy with a very ordinary name. His love interest is Cleve, which is sort of a play on words because “cleave” can mean either “to sever” or “to stick,” and it’s unclear whether Cleve is going to stick around.

As for titles, I agonize endlessly, but usually end up with one that pleases me. I have a bit of a weakness for puns and double meanings.

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: Locations are also very important to me because I see the scenes in my head, and also because they often dictate parts of the storyline. In fact, it’s very often a location that gives me the plot idea to begin with. Both Good Bones and Speechless happen to be set in Oregon. Dylan in Good Bones buys a farm that bears a distinct resemblance to the farm some of my family members own. My upcoming fantasy romance, Brute, is set in an imaginary city called Tellomer. And Venetian Masks is a bit of a travelogue, set in Venice—of course!—but with scenes in a few other central European cities as well.
I love to travel, and it’s often my travels that suggest story locations.

Q: How much power do you give your characters in steering the story line?
A: I don’t give it—they take it from me! I start out with a very rough outline, but rarely stick to it very closely. Once I give my characters life, they run the show.

Q: What is the most satisfying element for you in writing gay relationships, and why?
A: I like to be able to depict the positive aspects of love, even when the people involved face serious challenges. I also like being able to free myself from stereotypes.

Q: Are readers involved in making your fiction—do they suggest stories or say what they’d like to read?
A: Not much, aside from requesting sequels—which is always flattering!

Q: Describe the ideal relationship between author and readers.
A: Ideally, what I love to write is what readers will love to read. Also ideally, my stories can entertain, can stir emotions, and can maybe make people think about things in new ways. If my stories inspire people, even better. And of course readers are really important to me, because otherwise I’m just writing for my own amusement.

Q: What do you find useful about reviews?
A: I find reviews especially useful when people give specific constructive criticism. Also, if several reviewers say more or less the same thing—either negative or positive—that tells me I should probably listen.

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: Wow, this is a tough one! I guess I’d have to choose Drew Clifton from Speechless. What’s sexy about him is that, because he can’t communicate with words, he has to convey all his thoughts and feelings with his body and face. He’s also vulnerable yet very strong, which I find an irresistible combination.

Q: What are the fifty hottest words (approximate the word count) you’ve ever written, in your opinion. (Be sure to include citation).

Dylan buried his nose in Chris’s hair, inhaling deeply. He wondered vaguely if he could become drunk off the rich odors of drugstore soap and hard work and spicy meals, and a scent that spoke eloquently to him of Chris’s desire and need.

Good Bones

Q: What are you doing now, what do plan to write next?
A: A lot! My short story “Tyler Wang Has a Ball” releases October 8 in Dreamspinner’s Don’t Try This at Home anthology. In December, my story “Joys R Us” will come out in Silver Publishing’s holiday anthology. My fantasy romance novel Brute releases in December or January. Venetian Masks will come out in February or March. And my gay fantasy trilogy (Stasis, Flux, and Equipoise) just began production as audiobooks. I also have a couple other short stories in various stages of progress. Whew!
My next novel will be a sequel to Good Bones. I have another novel planned after that as well, a contemporary romance set in rural California, and involving a former mental hospital.

An excerpt from Speechless

Drew stopped at a Walgreens, where the stringy-haired woman behind the counter gave them a deeply skeptical look. Travis supposed they did look pretty disreputable. But they gathered up a basketful of Band-Aids and Neosporin and ice packs and other first aid supplies—which Drew cheerfully paid for with his MasterCard—and then headed to Drew’s house.

Drew took Travis by the hand and towed him to a neat bathroom with white tile, a claw-foot tub, and an antique shelf full of fluffy towels. He gently pushed Travis down onto the closed toilet and dampened a washcloth in the sink. And then he reached for the eye patch.

Travis jerked his hands up and grabbed Drew’s arms. “You can clean around it.

It’s… it’s gross.”

But Drew shook his head and twisted his arm away, then slid the strap off Travis’s head. He tossed it onto the counter and for a long minute just stood there, staring. Travis tensed, waiting for the revulsion and rejection. But instead, Drew leaned down and, light as a butterfly, brushed his lips over Travis’s empty lid. Then he stood straight again, and Travis took a deep, shuddery breath. “It doesn’t disgust you?”

Drew shook his head impatiently and then pointed to a scar that ran across the upper part of his forehead.

“Well, yeah, but yours is sexy. Sort of like a dueling scar from your student days at Heidelberg or a slash from an assassin’s blade when you were saving the Ark of the Covenant.” He paused. “Is it from the car accident?”

Nod.

“Well, it’s still sexy.” Travis lifted his hand and smoothed his forefinger across the length of the mark. “Sexy,” he repeated, aware that his voice had gone kind of gravelly.

After that, well… it sort of started out as the mutual administration of first aid for the various scrapes and bruises they’d acquired in the fight. But a thorough rendering of aid required removal of clothing, and then Drew apparently decided that kisses would do a better job of healing than would antibiotic ointments, and then…. How the hell had Drew managed to slip some K-Y and Trojans into their Walgreens basket without Travis noticing?

The bathroom floor was hard and cold, but Travis barely noticed as he was flooded with sensation. Drew was so tight and warm around him, uttering ragged sounds that weren’t quite words but didn’t need to be. His pale skin was so fine and smooth, and his nipples ripe like fruit. And afterward they stumbled to the couch and wrapped themselves in a fuzzy blanket and sort of floated for a while.

Travis was drifting toward sleep—Drew between his legs and leaning back against his chest—when he roused himself and kissed Drew’s mussed hair. “I gotta go.”

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K.Z. Snow interview and an excerpt from upcoming release *Xylophone*

Click on the Dreamspinner image to go to the Dreamspinner store, where you’ll find many K.Z. Snow titles. Farther down the page, click on the cover for a buy link to InDescent at Liquid Silver Books.

Xylophone–Coming in December from Dreamspinner Press

Daren Boothe has a secret. It centers on an unlikely object: a xylophone. And it’s reflected in his professional alter-ego, an androgynous but extremely sensual performer named Pepper Jack. When Dare begins his second (and considerably more wholesome) job playing clarinet in a polka band, he meets an unassuming young man who takes his grandmother out dancing each week — a man who also has a secret and is about to change Dare’s life.

Jonah Day immediately recognizes the clarinetist. Three years earlier they’d crossed paths in a therapist’s office, but they’d both abandoned that route to mental health. Neither was ready then to open up about the psychological traumas that haunted them and were adversely affecting their lives.

Dare and Jonah, both in their twenties, are survivors of sexual abuse. Still struggling to heal their wounds, they turn to each other — or Jonah suggests they do. Dare balks at first but then, almost in spite of himself, gives in. The men begin to confide in each other. Understanding and empathy come instantly, accompanied by ambivalence about their growing attraction. But the repercussions of their victimization are many. Soon, the very experiences Dare and Jonah share threaten to drive them apart. Only learning how to “play past the past” will sustain and strengthen their bond.

The Interview

Q: How important are character names, to you, and how do you go about naming them? What about titles?
A: Titles are, to me, far more important than character names. Often a title comes to me first, sparking the story. All that concerns me about names is that I haven’t used them before, they seem age-appropriate, and I mix in non-Anglo surnames. (I grew up in a very ethnic city.)

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: Almost all my stories take place in Wisconsin – cities, small towns, and rural areas. I guess I see a Midwestern setting as part of my “brand” (whatever the hell that is!)

Q: How much power do you give your characters in steering the story line?
A: It isn’t a choice. The buggers just take over!

Q: What is the most satisfying element for you in writing gay relationships, and why?
A: I could make something up, but truthfully, I just don’t know. Must be my inner gay man. (I’ve been aware of having one since I was in my twenties. In fact, straight men have even pointed it out to me.)

Q: Are readers involved in making your fiction—do they suggest stories or say what they’d like to read?
A: Not too much. I have a very wayward imagination. Once in a while, though, people express interest in a sequel, and I take that into consideration. It was reader interest in my steampunk novel Mongrel that spurred me to start writing Merman (which is nowhere near finished, by the way — gah!)

Q: Describe the ideal relationship between author and readers.
A: Interactive, in a way marked by mutual respect and appreciation. A sense of humor doesn’t hurt, either. 😉

Q: What do you find useful about reviews?
A: I don’t read reviews of my own stuff unless I’m specifically notified. Too many authors go off the rails because they’re constantly trawling through and fretting over their reviews. I don’t need that kind of distraction. But I’ll check out reviews of books I’m considering buying or have read.

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: Jackson Spey, my urban wizard (who happens to be in the short excerpt below). I’ve loved him for a long time and made no secret about it. Ex-biker with a colorful past, hot and powerful as hell, a little rough around the edges, a lot intelligent. He’s currently in his early forties, and he’s grown increasingly complex over the years. Now he’s married, going through a midlife crisis, and has a surrogate son. Can still work some phenomenal magic, though, and doesn’t take any crap from anybody.

Q: What are the fifty hottest words (approximate the word count) you’ve ever written, in your opinion. (Be sure to include citation).

Jackson’s expression didn’t change. His face remained impassive yet somehow eloquent. Only his shallow breathing belied his blank composure. “You have no idea,” he whispered, “how much I’ve wanted to feel your mouth on me again. It’s been a kind of torture.”

Those words pulled the trigger. Adin’s fingers dug into the tendons of Jackson’s neck. “You want my mouth on you again? I swear I’ll worship you with it.”

He crushed his lips against the lips of his best friend.

~ from Obsessed

Q: What are you doing now, what do plan to write next?
A: I’m waiting on edits for my next Dreamspinner release, Xylophone. And I’m trying to pull together that sequel to Mongrel.

An Excerpt from Xylophone

The following week I got off the bus just a few doors down from Over the Rainbow resale shop. Since I had a bus pass, I wouldn’t have to walk the remaining distance, maybe a mile or so, to my house. This mattered, because I was carrying my clarinet. Not that it was heavy, but I was afraid someone might snatch it from me. I was even more slightly built than most girls my age. If I’d been mugged (and it never occurred to me most muggers weren’t after clarinets), I couldn’t have hung on to my most treasured possession.

At first I dawdled on the sidewalk, hugging the case to my chest, and studied the stuff in the windows. A manikin wearing a polka-dot bikini and a Creature from the Black Lagoon mask. A barbecue grill heaped with molded plastic food and a rubber plucked chicken. Painted wood fish and frogs sitting on the rungs of a swimming pool ladder. African-looking busts draped in costume jewelry. An old-fashioned picnic basket stuffed with garden tools. A red bicycle. An alto sax with silk flowers erupting from its bell.

Beyond this summery mad mess, the shop looked dim and dingy inside. But a multicolored OPEN sign hung crookedly on the door. I set my clarinet case at my feet, cupped my hands around my eyes, and peered inside. The ceiling lights were on. I saw shelving units, brimming with merchandise, set at odd angles to each other, and more weird stand-alone displays, and even a few racks of clothing. But no one was manning the old office desk that sat near the wall to the left of the door. It must have been the checkout area, I thought, because a scrolled brass behemoth of a cash register weighed down a counter behind the desk.

Someone had to be there.

I crept inside…and immediately heard it. Magical music dancing behind the buzzer sound that wavered from somewhere in the back of the shop. Notes like a fusion of dripping water and muffled bells.

He’d seen me. I didn’t know it then but I know it now. He’d seen me staring enrapt at the junk in the windows, a clarinet case clutched to my heart, and he’d scurried away to set his trap.

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Lee James on *Errors and Omissions*, characters powerful and sexy, and love

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

Rock star Brent Hunter has a plan to get back to the top of the charts—until his jet vanishes en route to London. Four months later, a phone call convinces Austin Hunter that his brother is alive and in hiding. That, or it’s all an elaborate and deadly confidence game.

Austin turns to private detective Kirk MacGregor to find the truth about his brother. As Kirk follows a trail of dead-end leads in the most perplexing investigation of his career, a strong attraction simmers between him and Austin, despite the fact they’re both married.

Together they unearth a tragic family history of violence, pure greed, and a thirty-year-old fratricide as they take on the coldest killer since Hannibal Lecter. But deadly foes have nothing on the painful truths and even more painful losses Kirk and Austin must face… and none of that compares to confronting what they feel for each other.

About the Author: Lee James is a retired civil rights lawyer who enjoys rose gardening, working in the yard, music, reading, and writing. He is married, and resides in a Twin Cities’ suburb.

The Interview

Q: How important are character names, to you, and how do you go about naming them? What about titles?
A: I want the names of my main characters to fall pleasantly on readers’ eyes and ears. The villain, however, must have either a Christian or a surname that will make a reader’s nose wrinkle; e.g., “Claggart,” in Melville’s Billy Bud, is a surname that makes me think of the sound some charming guy makes before spitting on the sidewalk. I keep a list of uncommon or interesting names that I’ve heard or read, and I spend a good deal of time choosing names that feel and sound right for the characters.

Book titles are also critical. I tend to dislike one-word titles; they do not, in my opinion, convey much to a prospective buyer. I think a title needs to encompass what the novel is about, or the underlying message, if there is one.

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: Errors and Omissions is Book One in my Los Angeles Private Eyes series. I chose The City of Angels primarily for its mystique, extreme wealth and abject poverty, crassness and breathtaking beauty; plus, as an M/M romance/mystery-thriller writer, nothing ever seems too strange or horrific in Los Angeles.

Q: How much power do you give your characters in steering the story line?
A: My characters get all the power. It’s simply the way I like to write fiction.

Q: What is the most satisfying element for you in writing gay relationships, and why?
A: The most satisfying element is depicting how two men can fall deeply in love, and stay together for a lifetime. (My husband and I have lived happily together for twenty-eight years.) I write M/M with the hope of chipping away at America’s Puritanical notions. In many ways, we are an intellectually advanced nation that’s emotionally locked in the nineteenth century. Cast-off those old, tired ideals!

Q: Are readers involved in making your fiction—do they suggest stories or say what they’d like to read?
A: Readers have commented on what they like and dislike about my characters, dialogue, story lines/plots, endings, and cover art. It’s become my practice to listen. I’ve not received story ideas, to date.

Q: Describe the ideal relationship between author and readers.
A: Chatting with readers via e-mail, FB, Twitter, and on my blog (leejameswrites.blogspot.com) is one of the most enjoyable parts of writing. I always take the time to answer readers’ questions, or thank them for their comments. It’s been my pleasure to have gotten to know several readers; their careers, spouses, children, and new books they’ve read and loved.

Q: What do you find useful about reviews?
A: Those who are professional (paid or unpaid) in their reviews, who have read (not skimmed) and comprehended my work, and use constructive criticism are very helpful. Echo Magazine (Bob Lind), Hearts on Fire Reviews (Lucy, Aggie, et al), reviewsbyjessewave.com, mrsconditandfriends.com, pixie at goodbooksreviews, and The Novel Approach offer insightful and helpful reviews.

Then there’s internet vitriol. Anyone with A PC and an ISP has venues to offer critiques such as, “I skimmed it just to say I’d read it. I didn’t understand it. This book sucks.” Wow, how insightful… and telling.

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: The novel I’m writing at the moment always has the sexiest main character/s. If the characters I’m creating turn my head, it’s my hope that they’ll do the same for readers.

Errors and Omissions‘ Kirk MacGregor (tall, blond, ruggedly handsome, with hidden assets), and Austin Hunter (dark-haired, blue-eyed, cowboy roughneck and vulnerable) were my first main characters, and many readers told me they fell in love with them. A Crack in Time’s Micha Dahl (young, full of life, wonderful to look at, but he doesn’t know it) who has a fling with USAF Lieutenant Trent Valiston (handsome, married, and a real tramt) held the “sexiest” titles at the time I was writing the short story. Readers will soon meet my newest and sexiest characters: Mike Holland, a smokin’ hot private detective, and drop-dead handsome actor Heath Mathis.

Q: What are the fifty hottest words (approximate the word count) you’ve ever written, in your opinion. (Be sure to include citation).
A: I’ll give you something warm (the hottest words are for sale) from my upcoming novella, Land of Dreams. In the following scene, protagonist Mike Holland and Heath Mathis meet for the first time. And yes, hot, sweaty sex ensues.

A young man, wearing clingy, white silk gym shorts, and a towel bunched across his shoulders, answered the door. His chiseled features and jade green eyes made him a work of art, Mike thought. He cleared his throat. “Heath Mathis?”

“Yes.” He toweled his curly blond hair, and then swiped at his pecs and six pack abs. “Pardon me. You caught me during my workout.” Heath took a closer look at the man outside his door. The guy stood at least six foot four, with bruising shoulders, a square chin, sinuous muscles, jet black hair, and turquoise-blue eyes. Heath’s heart skipped a beat: before him stood milk fed, Grade-A beef. He smiled.

Mike smiled back.
Oh shit, Heath groaned inwardly. The man had dimples that could stop traffic. It was lust at first sight.

© Copyright 2012 by Lee James.

Q: What are you doing now, what do plan to write next?
A: As mentioned, my next project, recently submitted to DSP for consideration, is Book Two in my LA Private Eyes Series, titled Land of Dreams. I’m presently working on Book Three of the series, Hard Luck and Trouble.

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MD Grimm on *Ruby: Lost and Found* and the hotness of love and devotion

Click the cover image for the buy link at Torguere Books
(Stones of Power – Book 1)

Morgorth is a mage on the planet Karishian. There is little else he hates more than the Stones of Power – gemstones which were infused with magick by the first seven mages ever born. So when a sorcerer gets ahold of a major stone – a ruby – Morgorth has no other choice but to go after him. But, to his irritation, he is not alone. Aishe is a dialen whose tribe was massacred by the sorcerer and now he is on a mission of vengeance. The attraction is instant between them but Morgorth keeps his distance. Because of a traumatic childhood and a deadly destiny, he has no desire for emotional complications. But Aishe’s very presence challenges Morgorth’s resolve.

Not only does Morgorth begin to admire Aishe’s strength and mind, but he begins to see him as a friend. As their hunt continues and their time together lengthens, their bond deepens as does Morgorth’s fear. If he becomes the monster that destiny claims he will, would he hurt Aishe? Would he harm the one person who saw right through him? Who accepted him wholeheartedly? Determined to not let that happen, Morgorth keeps Aishe at a distance but when Aishe is kidnapped by the sorcerer, what will Morgorth do to get him back?

M.D. Grimm lives in the wet state of Oregon, and when Grimm is not reading, writing, or watching movies, Grimm dreams of owning a pet dragon. Grimm wanted to become an author since second grade and feels that those dreams are finally coming true. Grimm was fortunate to have supporting parents who never said “get your head out of the clouds.” While not liking to write in only one set genre, Grimm feels romance is at the core of most of their stories. Grimm earned a Bachelor of Arts in English at the University of Oregon and hopes to put that degree to good use in the literature world as well as the “real” world.

I’m at Facebook, Goodreads, and Livejournal. (no website yet)

The Interview

Q: How important are character names, to you, and how do you go about naming them? What about titles?
A: Character names are VERY important to me. For me, names must tell something about the personality of the character. Either by the way the name sounds, what the name means, or both. Sometimes the names just come with the character when I create them, but other times I have to pull out my baby book of 35,000 names and look up what would fit the character best.

Titles are probably my favorite and most headache-inducing part of creating a story. Sometimes, I know the title before I even write the book, other times I have a tentative title and I can only finalize it after I’ve finished the story. I like creating titles that either play on words or connect wittily with what’s in my story. My Shifter series with Dreamspinner Press is one such example. My most recent release of that series was Blind Devotion. One of the main characters is blind but I also use that title to describe followers of a sect that desire the eradication of shifters. Titles are very important. If they’re clever, they capture readers’ attention and you potentially make a sale! And a new fan.

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 had two releases in August, so I will talk a little bit about both. Blind Devotion is set in Montana. Ruby: Lost and Found with Torquere Press, is set on another planet, but it is a fantasy, not a sci-fi. Both settings were compelling and offered up their own challenges. With Blind Devotion, I let the criteria of the story help me determine where the story would be placed. I needed an isolated place where a small town of shifters could live in relative peace and secrecy. Montana fit the bill because it was far north and covered with national forests – a perfect places for shifters to run around on four legs. I had to do a lot of research on Montana, however, before I could start writing. I think that’s what makes me choose settings in places I have never been – so I can discover and travel, if only in my mind. It lets me learn and I love to learn.

Ruby: Lost and Found is, as I said, a fantasy, so that meant I was starting from scratch. I had to create flora/fauna, geology, continents, etc. I really had to create everything but, since it is the first book of a series as well, I have time to gradually evolve the world and present it to readers. This series doesn’t allow me to take anything for granted – the reader would know nothing of my world as they would most places on Earth. I want to make it as real to them as it is to me.

Q: How much power do you give your characters in steering the story line?
A:I’m a big fan of allowing the character to steer the story, instead of just reacting to what happens to them. But I do try to keep a good balance between outside events influencing my characters’ actions and my characters’ actions influencing the events. I do try to have an overall plot that is a guide for the character, but I make sure they have agency.

Q: What is the most satisfying element for you in writing gay relationships, and why?
A: I like to think love conquers all. Naïve, perhaps, but reality is a bitter pill sometimes, and I read and write to take me out of that reality and into a world where, despite everything, you do end up with your soul mate (or soul mates). Unfortunately in our society, there is a sort of “built-in” conflict with gay relationships and that makes me even more devoted into making sure, at least in my stories, the men (or women) end up together.

Q: Are readers involved in making your fiction—do they suggest stories or say what they’d like to read?
A: I haven’t had that situation yet. I’m still pretty new at publishing and I’m still building my fan base.

Q: Describe the ideal relationship between author and readers.
A: Respect. For the author to respect the readers, and for the readers to respect the author. For the author: they need to respect the fact that readers might not like all their stories, or how they write, and that’s okay. You can’t please everyone. You shouldn’t try. For the reader: they need to respect the author and their craft. If they don’t like the story, okay, fine, but there is no need to attack or disrespect the author or their story. They need to remember that others might enjoy that story, and that their opinion is just that: an opinion. A preference. They have a right to that preference, but also a responsibility to give it respectfully.

I am a reader and an author, so I see both sides. If I don’t like a story, I don’t see a need to attack the author, or the story. It’s not my preference. There have been certain popular stories coming out recently (I’m sure you could guess what they are) that I have no interest it. But others love and adore those stories. Okay, fine. To each their own.

As an author, I love my readers. I really do. And it does hurt when a negative/hateful review comes out. But it would hurt less if it was respectful. I’ve read several of those reviews that don’t tear down the story or me but inform other readers why they didn’t like the story. I almost want to thank them for that review – even if it was negative – because I didn’t feel attacked.

Q: What do you find useful about reviews?
A: Well… it’s nice to see when my book is positively accepted. And sometimes it can help if the review is more critique then attack. I can see where the reviewer thought the story had issues and if I agree, I can make sure not to do it again. I don’t depend on them to tell me how to write – I write because I want to and because I need to. I don’t allow reviews to affect my confidence in my writing.

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: Oh goddess!! Now all my characters are glaring at me – daring me to choose favorites!

To make things easier, I will only choose from those stories that have been published (I have several written but not ready for publishing yet). Right now I’m partial to Morgorth, the protagonist in my Stones of Power series with Torquere Press, of which Ruby: Lost and Found is the first book. He might not be gorgeous or traditionally handsome but he’s a mage which means he can use magick like most warriors use swords. He’s sexy because he doesn’t think he is – he’s grumpy, angry, and often broods. I think he’s sexy because of how he changes during the course of the series and his growth as a character – mostly due to his relationship with Aishe, his mate. Sometimes the sexiest characters are those who aren’t traditionally sexy.

Q: What are the fifty hottest words (approximate the word count) you’ve ever written, in your opinion. (Be sure to include citation).
A: Now that is a hard one – I have too many, but I’ll choose some that I’ve written very recently. (50 words really cramps my style…) This little sample comes from Ruby: Lost and Found, published by Torquere Press:

“I love you,” [Aishe] said in a pained whisper that slammed me […]. I believed him […]

“We were meant for each other,” he continued […]”I’m staying with you; […] You don’t have to be alone anymore. I trust you, Morgorth. […] “You don’t think much of yourself, but I think the world of you. You’re beautiful.”

(Yes, I cheated with the […]) And why didn’t I use a sex scene? Well, this precludes a sex scene AND all of my sex scenes were certainly more than 50 words and… well, what is hotter than a declaration of love and devotion?)

Q: What are you doing now, what do you plan to write next?
A:Right now I’m working on the second and third book of my Stones of Power series as well as finishing book five and six of my Shifters series. I’m also working on outlines of a couple of other books that have nothing to do with these stories. I’m always keeping myself busy.

An Excerpt from Ruby: Lost and Found

Someone roared and the weight lifted. The stars before my eyes faded and I looked over to see Aishe actually straddling the revenai’s wrist, stabbing it with a short sword, causing black viscous blood to gush. I sucked in a breath and struggled to my feet just as Aishe leapt off of the revenai. Another hand came to grab him. He ducked away and rolled and I kept on the opposite side of him, trying to divide the demon’s attention. Five heads were enough to deal with.

Aishe and I couldn’t keep this up and I tore through my brain, trying to find a way that would end this conflict as fast and as bloodless as possible.
Before I’d found a satisfying idea, the demon got a hold of Aishe and proceeded to squeeze the life from his body. Fury so intense I wondered why I didn’t explode whirled through me and I created a blade of pure force and flung it at the revenai’s arm, cutting it cleanly in half. The monster roared, Aishe fell, and more blood gushed.

The dialen didn’t move.

“Hey! Demon shit!” I bellowed, my magick amplifying my voice. The revenai turned to me, the lust for death in its eyes.

“Follow me if you have the guts!” I ran deeper into the forest, hearing the lumbering beast close behind me. Fury gave me power and focus and I used it. I gasped for breath, my muscles burning, as I emerged at the river where only minutes before I had seen Aishe naked. I ran along the bank, the revenai emerging seconds later, lumbering awkwardly, ripping up trees as it went. I swung around and churned the water, lifting it into the air and flinging it at the charging revenai. I continued to lash the monster with water and it swung its hands around uselessly, becoming more enraged. When I had enough water whirling around the revenai, I took a deep breath and blew it out, causing the water to freeze.

The revenai’s thrashing ceased and the drool froze on its lips. I knew it wouldn’t hold but maybe it would contain the thing long enough for me to find out what to do with it. And to find out if Aishe was even still alive. I ran around the large frozen demon and nearly collided with the dialen as he emerged, whole, from the trashed forest.

I skidded to a halt and my heart was drumming in my chest, relief making me dizzy.

“Thank the Mother,” I gasped and before I could think better of it, I flung my arms around the dialen and hugged him hard. It lasted for about a second before I jerked back as if electrocuted. I grimaced and Aishe looked shocked.
I took several steps back. “Sorry, I… you all right?”

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