Tag Archives: Romance

Anne Barwell Interview: The many facets of her romance rainbow

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

Here’s the interview:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s the blurb:

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

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

And an excerpt:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gay Romance University 301: On Weddings, Hankies, Beaches, and Bathtubs (Yes, NSFW)

Hello class! The third level course in Gay Romance according to Vasquez and James commences with a look at the sweet and slightly ridiculous events of their wedding. We’re using book three in the series, Finding Jackie as ‘text.’Finding Jackie by Lou Sylvre art by Reese Dante As you will recall from Sonny’s proposal (Delsyn’s Blues, read from p. 74 for full context, through p. 80), and Luki’s acceptance (continue through p89), Luki wanted to have the wedding in Hawaii, because his mother and beloved uncle Kaholo come from that Pacific paradise. In Finding Jackie, we join them there for the event, and they are looking good! No that is not them in the picture (which comes to us courtesy a gay wedding firm called Purple Unions). hawaiian wedding purple union vendor Luki and Sonny were much like that (happy and kissy and sexy) only loads more fabulous and dressed to the nines. On page 9:

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… .

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.

After the sexy wedding, it’s the honeymoon, Vasquez and James style, starting with Hawaiian beaches. One interesting encounter in which Sonny demonstrates his relative prudishness (as compared to Luki) begins on page 17 of your text. Note the guy in the photo (courtesy Kauai-gay-massage.com) isn’t Luki or Sonny, but he is freakin’ hot! nude rear view on beach kauai massage and intuitive service

“That’s a tough color to match,” Sonny said, finally making some notes when he couldn’t quite duplicate the blue a hundred feet from shore. He wondered, though, if he was only having a hard time because of Luki’s eyes. They were all over him. Even though he didn’t turn to look, he could feel them on every inch of his skin—even the most hidden and intimate. He was getting really warm despite the breeze off the sea, and he really didn’t think it had to do with the sun. He loved the feeling, but enough was enough, and he took hold of Luki’s ice water—why waste his own? He turned and leaned toward Luki, glass in hand, but Luki saw what he was up to. Being ever so much quicker and more capable, Luki simply stopped him, rolled, and stood up.

“Brat,” he said.

“You were making me nervous.”

“I was not,” Luki said as he dusted sand off his rented surfboard.

“Okay. True. You were making me hot.”

“Good, Sonny. That’s good. You’re yummy when you’re hot.”

Sonny laughed and tossed the water from his own glass toward Luki, but Luki evaded it and headed down the beach to the edge of the ocean.

Sonny had worried that Luki wouldn’t enjoy the ocean, what with his history with rivers, almost drowning twice, once involving a knife and once involving a bomb. And last year he’d said he didn’t like being on the water, when they took the boat out to Mack Money’s island in the San Juans. He needn’t have feared. Luki took to surfing like he was born to it. And maybe it was something inherited, something hidden in the genes until opportunity arose.

Kaholo had surfed one day before he left, and as old as he was, his body remembered its Hawaiian youth. He let out a “whoop” once, riding just ahead of the crest of a wave, that reminded Sonny of his own uncle, Melvern, at a powwow. So maybe Luki came by his affinity for board and surf naturally. Whatever the explanation, once Luki had a couple lessons, he hardly left the water. He didn’t try any giant combers, of course, and even on a smaller wave his ride didn’t always succeed. He had some spectacular crashes, and sported a gash on his already scarred left cheek from hitting the board fin.

“It figures,” Luki had said, pressing his palm against it.

But even that hadn’t freaked him out about the water and surfing. Because now, here they were, seventy-two hours before they were due to fly out of Honolulu airport, in the heat of the warmest midafternoon yet. Sonny joined Luki in the waves—he liked them well enough. They were so different from the cold, rocking current of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, where he swam regularly, or at least took a dip almost every day except in a freeze. Here, the water was a whole different kind of playmate. But after Sonny had played a while, he left Luki to surf the aqua sea, and walked up the beach, raising white sand in the miniscule breeze. He shook out his towel and collapsed onto it.

He lay on the beach, then, letting the sun and breeze dry his skin, his eyes almost closed, drowsy but not sleeping, surreptitiously watching Luki’s play. Because that’s what it was, Luki at play in the surf, and Sonny loved it. Loved the very idea of it. And Sonny couldn’t get enough of seeing Luki overfull of joy. He was just thinking that maybe they should never leave this place, when Luki brought some of that joy—dripping wet joy, it turned out—to share with Sonny. He heeled his board into the sand just like an experienced beach bum, and then flopped down right on top of Sonny.

In one of his most articulate moments, Sonny exclaimed, “Ah! Wet!”

“Kiss me,” Luki responded. “That will be wet, too.”

“Ooh,” Sonny said, because Luki was lying flat on top of him, and there were some interesting contact points.

“I know. Ooh.” Luki wiggled a little.

“Luki!”

“Okay, sorry, baby.” Luki started to lift himself off Sonny, but Sonny grabbed him by the shoulders, locking his long arms.

“No! You can’t get up right now. My feelings have become obvious and anybody might walk by. Children. Grandmothers. Lifeguards.”

“Okay, okay. But don’t be silly. There are no lifeguards on this beach—”

“You never know.”

“And I haven’t seen a grandmother around here for at least two days—”

“I’m sure they’ll be back.”

“And I haven’t seen any children here at all.”

“First time for everything.”

“Fine. Try to get ahold of your—”

“Luki!”

“Emotions. I’m just gonna move a little to one side, like that”—Luki demonstrated—“so things aren’t quite so… intimate. ’Kay?”

“’Kay, better.”

Luki managed little by little to put some distance between them, and both the men sat up. “Phew,” Sonny said, and they laughed.

Knowing the importance of having the most glorious possible honeymoon and doing everything Sonny wanted to do, Luki agreed to a three-phase honeymoon, part two of which was to be a brief stay in Seattle, since Sonny(aka Dr. James) had to be there anyway to lecture on dyes and fibers. By the time they got into their rather posh hotel room at the Monaco, trouble had already begun to rear it’s ugly head, as is unfortunately the way of things with Vasquez and James. Trouble from outside (see the prologue and pages 34 through 37), and of course, trouble from inside, mostly Luki, the twerp (see pages 22-23). But trouble did not stop them from taking a very hot and steamy bath. We’ll start on page 48 to set the scene and move right into the NSFW from there.

Luki’s eyes followed his husband, who paced from side to side, peeked around curtains and walls, opened doors. He made a sound, something like “Mm,” knowing Sonny wasn’t really looking for a response, but would appreciate knowing Luki was paying attention. He also smiled. Something about the quirky way Sonny settled himself into a space was too sweet for words.

“You know what I need to do, honey?”

Luki noted with glee that Sonny had begun to strip. This time, when he said, “Mm,” he didn’t have to feign interest.

“I need to get in that bathtub—do you see that thing? It’s like a swimming pool. I need to get in there and soak, all nice and relaxed, and take in that wallpaper until it seems normal to me.”

The man is fucking crazy, Luki thought, both disappointed and surprised. Sonny was already in the bathroom, fine-tuning the water temperature. Luki put his hands in his pockets—not a characteristic posture at all, but he was at a loss. He literally jumped when Sonny whooped and yelled.

“Yes! There’s bubble bath in here!”

Now, Luki was so nonplussed that he sat down on the couch, rather hard. When he tried to think of something he might be doing the only two things that came to mind were jerking off—which he dismissed immediately—and eating a hamburger. He considered the hamburger carefully, decided against, and got up to wander into the strangely wall-papered, thoroughly lavender-scented bathroom.

“This is a big tub, Luki.”

Luki stepped closer to Sonny and pushed a long strand of dark hair off his chest, letting it join its fellows falling down Sonny’s back.

Sonny grabbed Luki’s belt at the buckle and made as if to undo it. “Get in, Luki. There’s room. Look.” He lifted a foot out of the water. “See, my feet don’t even reach all the way to the other side. Not crowded at all.”

Luki stood silent, chewing his lip. He wasn’t one for shower play, which Sonny knew. It just reminded him too much of lonelier days. He never took baths, especially bubble baths. And, he really, really didn’t want to smell like flowers. But he loved his husband so much, and there the man was, asking for this simple, little thing.

“Luki, take a bath with me. Come on.”

Luki started to strip, tossing his clothes back out onto the chair in the bedroom. He was, of course, hard by the time he was naked, which was something Sonny certainly didn’t fail to notice, even though he said nothing. Luki stood there, feeling confused, never before having realized that deciding how to get into a bathtub and situate oneself was so difficult.

“Luki, you can just sit on that side, facing me so I can look at your eyes and we can talk. Okay? That way you won’t feel so awkward.”

“I’m pretty sure there’s something in that statement I should scold you for, Sonny Bly, I just haven’t figured out what it is,” Luki said while climbing in and turning around and sitting down as instructed. But once he settled, his hands found Sonny’s legs, and he couldn’t help but rub them. And then Sonny found his foot, and as Sonny well knew, Luki’s toes were really sensitive. And Sonny played with them. All the while they looked each other in the eyes.

“Luki,” Sonny said, finally, “you don’t play in the shower.”

“No. What’s your point?”

For answer, Sonny took Luki’s foot and laid it along his own erection, which was one of the sexiest things that had ever happened to Luki. ment in tub gay beauty blog tumblrThen Sonny took his size a-very-large-number foot, with its long, nearly prehensile toes, and not too gently stroked it up and down Luki’s cock, and Luki spent a few seconds catching his breath.

“This isn’t a shower,” Sonny said.

Luki nodded. “Right.”

Sonny let a little water out, added some hot to adjust the temperature. “We could fuck here, if we so desired, which I do.” Sonny actually looked hopeful, as if he was a little afraid Luki would say no, or maybe scoff.

Luki wasn’t about to do either one. Sonny was the most beautiful, lovable, eminently fuckable person on the planet, and Luki wasn’t about to fail him. As he’d explained to Sonny just the other day, fucking Sonny happy was his personal joy. He licked his lips. “Come here, baby.”

Sonny more or less slithered up Luki’s body, dragging his weight over Luki’s flesh until he’d brought his lips even with Luki’s. He stopped, offering his slightly open lips, but waiting for Luki to take them. Luki did, starting with a suck and nibble of Sonny’s lower lip, then licking with just the hard tip of his tongue along the underside of Sonny’s upper lip. He kept it up, nibbling, sucking, licking, lingering at the sensitive corners. Sonny made a move to kiss back, but Luki pulled away, and answered Sonny’s widened eyes by kissing them. He smiled, biting his own lip, made sure Sonny saw the expression, then whispered in his ear. “Just let me do whatever I want to you, baby, okay? It’ll be good, I promise, and when I want you to kiss me back, I’ll tell you. Okay?”

“Oh!” Sonny’s breath puffed out; then he nodded. “Okay,” he said. “Yes, Luki. Okay.”

The water, hot and ever so slightly silky from the bubble bath, made touching—running his hands along Sonny’s back, over his ass, down his legs—a little bit different than touching had ever been before, for Luki. And by different he meant, damn, that’s nice! And Sonny, who was never, ever still unless specifically instructed, kept squirming and rocking, moving his body side to side over Luki’s. And the water lifted him just a little bit so Luki felt little weight on him, only a teasingly sweet, achingly light friction.
He pulled his lover tight against his chest. “Sonny, baby, you are so damn sweet!”

Sonny was not very coherent. “Mmm, mm… ooooh! Luki!”

Luki chuckled. He couldn’t help it. Then he took hold of Sonny’s forelock and tilted his head back until he was sure he had Sonny’s eyes, and he said, “Stick out your tongue.”

Sonny did so, a little, and said, “Aauuh?”

Luki smiled. “More.”

When Sonny obeyed, he said, “Yeah, like that.” Then he laid his own tongue alongside it, teased it, licking at its tip, and finally closed his lips around it and sucked it into his mouth, meanwhile invading Sonny’s mouth with his own tongue, and touching every part of Sonny he could reach with any limb, and rocking Sonny over him, cock to cock, chest to chest. At some point he said, “Okay, kiss me back, Sonny.” Finally, after a long interval of bliss, or else torture, Luki asked the question he almost always asked when they made love. “What do you want, baby?”

Unlike his earlier efforts at speech, Sonny answered clear and concise. “Fuck me.” Then he buried his face in Luki’s neck, where he commenced licking, sucking, and yes, even biting.

Luki gasped at the sensations that weren’t quite tickle, weren’t quite pain, “So you’re serious, you want to fuck here? In the bath?”

“Mmm-mmm.”
“Turn over, baby, and turn around; get up on your knees. I want your ass right here, up close and personal.”

There’s more to that bath, but that’s it for the lecture. Read on to the bliss in your text for extra credit. If you don’t own the text, click on the cover image up at the top for a link to Dreamspinner. Also available at Amazon, All-Romance E-books, etc (like all the V&J books).
Thanks for coming to class… see you next time!

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Filed under Finding Jackie, Gay Romance University, Vasquez & James

Bits (Yes, just bits. Think what you want.)

man wearing shear black lace briefs google ftuos No, not that kind of bits.
A few newsy items

For those who wonder, Gay Romance University resumes class tomorrow with GRU 301; the text is Finding Jackie, Vasquez and James book 3 (for those that like to be prepared).

After GRU studies Vasquez and James we will be moving on to learning about Gay Romance from other characters, by other authors. Should be fun, starting later this month. Stay tuned. (I’m considering opening a new school also, Sexy Gay Romance University. Feedback on this idea welcome.)

I snagged a prompt for the Goodreads M/M Romance group’s 2014 Don’t Read in the Closet event, and here’s the link to it. (Bare cheeks-so NSFW.)

I’m working on making a website, of which this blog will be a part, as will pages for the University posts, my bigstock-Cropped-Image-Of-A-Nude-Africa-32140823published works, free fiction, featured authors, reviews, and who knows! I’m working on having some type of grand opening event. Ideas welcome!

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Gay Romance University: Vasquez and James 101 (intro with excerpts and NquiteSFW pics)

gay couple in bed
Want to get your degree in Gay Romance Lit? Well, why not start by learning from the sweet and hot experts, Luki Vasquez and Sonny James. No, you’re right, the couple to the left is not Luki and Sonny, but they are sweet, and they are romantic, and I think they should have a book written about them. (I’m working on it.) Luki and Sonny are older (especially Luki) and more… well, I’ll get to that later.

As you may know, there are, to date, four installments to the Vasquez and James Suspense/Romance story. (If you wish to purchase the texts for home study, click on the image below. 🙂 )

VJ 4 covers by Monique

There is one more book about the couple, the novella Yes,, and another book in the series entitled Because of Jade,coming in spring 2014. For this introductory bit of GRU’s Vasquez and James course, however, we’ll focus on the first book in the series, Loving Luki Vasquez.

One thing you will note about Luki and Sonny is that although they were certainly always hot (and sort of sweet), they were definitely not always experts in romance. In fact if you’ll turn to page 3 of your text (or just keep reading here), you’ll find an account of the events when they first met, accidentally, on the streets of (fictional) Port Clifton, Washington. To set the scene, Sonny—who lived in the area—was walking down the street in a not very good mood…

Pt T main drag

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?”

Groan with me now, class. Good Lord, Sonny James! Could you be any less romantic?

But… maybe it was fate, because minutes later, the heretofore icy-hearted badass Luki Vasquez took a most uncharacteristic chance. You’ll find this bit on page 4 of the text, and Sonny has just witnessed hardcore Luki sweetly pick up a fallen teddy bear and return it to a child.

coffee-love

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.”

Following that initial flubbed meeting and interesting invitation, Sonny and Luki met a couple of times on purpose and accidentally, with disastrous and somewhat humorous results, and on would think that would have been the end of it. Truth was, however, neither could forget the other. One day, they met by chance—and a kiss happened. Not love at first kiss, no, but a hint at what a romance between them might be. Beginning on page 16 of your book, Luki is disgusted with himself and decides a little tai chi practice on a mostly deserted beach would do him good…
Kiss: Sean Chappin + Juan Valdez / 20100117.7D.02119.P1.L1.SQ.BW

By the time he‟d finished, the sun had risen almost midway. With heat and exertion, he‟d broken into a profuse sweat. He turned his face into the breeze, let it riffle his curls, took his shirt off, and tossed it to hang on one of his targets.

A dot in the distance moving up the beach toward him. A person. Sonny, no flags in sight.

Crap.

Oh well, no problem. If there was anything he knew how to do, it was shut out emotional disturbance. He‟d just continue with his practice, maybe work another form first, as if Sonny weren‟t there. But with Sonny‟s long legs, he covered a lot of distance in a short time, and now he‟d come almost close enough for eye contact. My God, the man is beautiful.

“Hey,” Luki said.

“Hi.”

“Nice out, huh?” Oh, yeah. Great. Talk about the weather.

Sonny ignored the comment.

Thank you, universe.

“It‟s like dancing.”

The conversation seemed like some kind of mirror image of the last time they spoke, when Sonny was checking out colors, which certainly weren‟t all the same, or so Sonny informed him, leaving him to feel foolish. Nice thing was, now they were in his territory. But he had no taste for retaliation.
“It‟s been called that. Tai chi.”

“Oh. Yeah. I‟ve heard of it. Sort of dancing that can kill. Seems exactly right.”

Luki didn‟t know what he meant by that last remark, so he stayed silent.

“It‟s graceful, the way you do it.”

Luki remained at a loss for a response. Was that a compliment?

“I‟ve even thought about trying to learn it. But I could never get away from my studio—or maybe I should say get my studio out of my head—long enough for anything like that.”

Luki still said nothing, but now he subtly eyed Sonny from head to toe—a pleasant undertaking but one with purpose. “You‟re in good enough shape to do it well.”

“I suppose.”

Luki didn‟t know how he could speak and hold his breath at the same time, but it felt that way. “I could teach you a little,” he said, “right now.”

To his surprise and nervous delight, Sonny agreed after only a second’s hesitation. Soon Luki had him barefoot and mastering a perfect opening stance. From there, he taught him some traditional warm-ups—not part of the forms but a good way to get the feel of the art. Though his long, loose limbs gave him some trouble and made Luki want to secretly and fondly laugh, and though Sonny giggled—yes, giggled—at a few of the early warm-ups, he attended well and learned fast.

They‟d reached the last of the warm-up exercises: Pushing Chi. A little more complicated than the ones that came before, it took focused coordination. When Sonny could Push Chi with acceptable grace, Luki decided to introduce him to at least part of the Chen form: First, he revisited the simple but all-important Opening Movement. Then, Pound the Pestle, Lazy Tying Coat, and Six Sealing, Four Closing.

Single Whip led into White Crane Spreads Its Wings, the name of which made Sonny adorably… all right fine, adorably happy. The sequence involved motions that at first felt counterintuitive. Like probably every student in the centuries tai chi had been around, Sonny needed help with it. As he would with any other student, Luki stood behind him, using his own hands to guide Sonny through the move. He wondered if he could get away with teaching him all the rest of the moves in just that way. Perhaps for hours. Every day. For a long time.

As he was teaching and wondering and probably even almost smiling, a wind rose up, splashing spray and sand and whipping Sonny‟s long hair at Luki‟s face and right into his mouth. On the word “open,” appropriately enough.

Sonny spun around, gathering up his luxurious baked-earth red hair. Before Luki had a chance to close his mouth, Sonny kissed him. A passionate, seeking sort of kiss. A kiss that Luki instinctively returned, though kissing wasn‟t a large part of his intimate life, and especially not kissing on the beach.

Well! That is a nice development. After that, some very suspenseful things begin to happen, throwing Luki and Sonny together whether they (profess to) want it or not. One thing of course leads to another, and things heat up, leading to this, on page 48:

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After a moment, that not-quite smile of Luki’s that Sonny had come to recognize appeared in his eyes. He laced his strong fingers into Sonny’s hair and rose up to meet Sonny’s lips in a long, soft kiss, keeping possession of his gaze all the while. “Sweet, so sweet,” he whispered. And then, his lips still moving against Sonny’s: “You can have my ass.”

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Saving Sonny James Road Trip–London (A friend, some food, sex for dessert)

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London: Being the third stop in the Saving Sonny James Road Trip Blog Tour Vasquez and James adventure

Sonny slept the whole way from Ashford to King’s Cross Station in London. It wasn’t a long trip, but as they deboard Sonny thinks Luki must be getting tired of that scenario–he’d slept from France to England too.

“I’m sorry, Luki.”

Luki looked slightly up into Sonny’s eyes, something close to confusion written on his face. “I don’t mind, baby. If you need to sleep, sleep. Gather your strength.”

“C’mon, Luki. Don’t pretend I’m not boring you silly.”

“True story is, Mr. Sonny James, you’re an awful sweet husband to cuddle, and your various snores keep me interested.”

“I don’t snore.”

“Will you teach me how to record with my phone, so I can play it back it next time?”

London night wiki 799px-Thames_Night_Pan

They’ve arrived in London just as dark has fallen, though the lights of the millenium city keep the deepest dark at bay and almost hide the moon and stars. They’ve contacted Brian Harrison, Luki’s former agent who, in the tale told in Finding Jackie helped rescue Luki’s teenage nephew from a nightmare. He left Luki’s employ and came to London to escape Jackie, because–even though he’s only a few years older–he knew the feelings he had for the childlike but scarily mature seventeen-year-old would have to wait until Jackie dealt with demons and came of age.

But instead of breaking the fever, the separation has cured Brian’s feelings into a low-level but ever present yearning, a haunting kind of love. Sonny never knew him well, but he knew the story, and the minute he saw Brian’s face in the light outside Cannon Street station, he read the loneliness there and understood its source. He glanced at Luki to see if he read his former agent as well. An expression passed over Luki’s face, perhaps of puzzlement. It seemed he knew something wasn’t right, but he didn’t know what.

“Hey, Luki! Sonny! It’s good to see you. You look tired–probably too much travel. I didn’t even know you guys were over on this side of the Atlantic. Did you go to France for a delayed honeymoon, or something?”

“Well–” Luki started to answer.

“Yes,” Sonny interjected. “Paris is something else.” He had no desire to relive for Brian the nightmare Lou Sylvre (their author) had put them through in Saving Sonny James.

“Well,” Brian chuckled, “I’ve never been there. Maybe someday… if I ever have a honeymoon…”

“He’ll be eighteen in a couple months, you know.” Sonny wanted to chuckle seeing Luki’s surprise, quickly followed by the dawn of understanding, but he didn’t want to seem flippant.

Brian stayed silent as they walked away from the station entrance, then said. “I hope you don’t mind–we’re not far from my neighborhood–I share a flat near the college with some other students. I thought we’d just take the bus.”

“Sure,” Luki said. “So how are you doing? School? Everything else?”

“School’s good–a lot to learn as you probably already know, boss.” He smiled.

Luki raised his eyebrows and nodded. “Yeah, a lot of new stuff since I was in school, and I’m sure you’re better suited to learn it. But what about everything else?”

Brian laughed, low and not really with much humor. “Well, I know he’s going to be eighteen soon–thanks for the reminder Sonny–but I’ll wait. He’s got other stuff to figure out. I send him a card every now and then, he texts me thanks, but nothing else.”

“Sorry, Brian,” Luki said.

“Brian,” Sonny said, “if it’s meant to be it will. If you’re waiting, it’s only because you choose to wait, and think it’s worth waiting for something that’s not a sure bet. I’d lay my money down betting someday the two of you will have something together, but of course none of us know.”

“Hey, Luki, ever eat a lamburger?”

Sonny smiled, understanding Brian’s remark as a permanent change of subjct.

Luki looked a bit lost, “Um…”

“I know a place, called The Don Bistro, where they serve a fabulous one. I think you’ll like it as much as much as Dick’s Drive-in’s hamburgers.”

They stopped first at Brian’s apartment, and Sonny felt a little shell-shocked. Luki looked a lot shell-shocked. After they’d taken in the smell, the stack of fly-strewn dishes, and the apparently drunken state of two of Brian’s roommates, they looked at each other and by unspoken agreement kissed each other to keep from embarrassingly loud laughter.

Luki whispered in Sonny’s ear. “Oh my god, baby, I’ve never been so glad to be forty-two!”

Brian said, “Uh… well, listen if you guys aren’t too tired for another bus ride, let’s go eat.”

They did. The Don was fabulous. Luki had the recommended lamburger The Don Smithens Lane London bistro-0111with carmelized onions, and Sonny had a rib-eye, Scottish beef, with mushrooms. They both had fries and local beer chosen by Brian. Brian, it turned out had become a vegetarian, and had risotto with veggies and gorgonzola, and bean salad.

After a fabulous dinner completed by great conversation and Luki’s repeated promise that he’d rehire the young man whenever he wanted, they thanked Brian, Luki slipped money into Brian’s coat, and they decided to get a hotel room rather than try to brave Brian’s apartment for the night.

On the street, watching for a cab, Luki put an arm around Sonny–protecting him from anything that might be hiding in the fog, Sonny thought.

Luki said, “I know a place I think you’d like, Sonny. Called the Hand and Flower. It’s a bit out of the way–Chelsea, I think. But we’ll have time to get to the airport tomorrow without rushing. What do you think? Not exactly luxury, but… history, and, um… beauty, maybe.”

“Beauty?”

“I think so. I can’t explain.”

london hand and flower street They went, and Sonny did love the polished wood, decorative iron work railings, lush colors and papers on the wall. The Hand and Flower had history, and that made it feel rich to Sonny, luxurious even though the quarters seemed a bit cramped.

He walked around the small suite, carrying his bottle of wine, but when he saw the bed…

“Luki, let’s go to bed.”

“You’re tired again, baby?”

“No. I don’t think so. Not at all, at the moment. See?” He looked down at the bulge that had developed behind his zipper.

***
cocksox-mens-boxer- Sonny's shorts

Luki’s eyes followed Sonny’s lead, seemingly of their own accord, though Ms. Sylvre always says that can’t be true–autonomous body parts and all. Still, Ms. Sylvre never has had an erection, or (apparently) unruly eyes that go where their lover leads.

“Yes,” Luki said. “But I’d like to see more.”

Sonny smiled, giggled even, and with a flourish of his free hand, reached for his zipper. Ever so slowly, he un-zipped, revealing–yes, you guessed it–red silk beneath. He took his hand away, pushing his jeans down just a bit, and his penis gave a mighty push at the silk, trying to break free (ABP again), but only succeeding in peeking out.

Luki’s breath escaped in a loud puff, and he took the wine bottle from Sonny and plunked it on the side table. Then he pushed his body against Sonny until his sweet, beautiful husband fell back on the bed, his mouth already wet and craving a taste of his favorite dessert–husband, hot and a la creme.

koisuru_boukun__color_version__by_samy_consu-d614r3c (google free to U or S)

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

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

Vasquez and James Suspense Series #4

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A 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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Next Big Thing Blog Chain (Finding Jackie)

Jamie Fessenden tagged me last week, now it’s my turn! In turn, I’m tagging Elizabeth Noble, Anne Barwell and Andrea Speed! (They should have a blog posted by 1/2/13 or sooner.)

What is the title of your book?
Finding Jackie (third book in the Vasquez and James suspense series)

How did you come by the idea?
This book follows a couple of threads from Delsyn’s Blues. It struck me that major events involving marriage proposals and gun battles with the children of a mafia style hitman would not go without consequence. I also wanted to send main characters Luki and Sonny. on a road trip!

What genre does your book fall under?
It’s M/M, Romance/Suspense

Which actors would you choose to play your characters if it were a movie?
Someone asked me this before, and I really had a heck of a time coming up with an answer. Luki’s looks are so singular, in a way, especially his dark skin tone and very pale blue eyes, that it’s hard to think of anyone else looking like him. So I went shopping for a star! I came up with two possibilities, neither perfect both fun. 😉 First, Johnny Depp can play Luki. Well, because Johnny Depp can play anybody. Or, alternatively, how about Jason Momoa? He’s half Hawaiian, half European—like Luki. Skin and hair color about right and he’s well… here’s a picture. Needs a scar, and a bit more muscle, etc., but a decent candidate, wouldn’t you say? I wouldn’t mind doing the interview! For Sonny, I say Johnny Depp is a possibility (heh-heh), or how about this guy, Jay Tavare? Yeah, Sonny’s gorgeous.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
The wedding is perfect—almost—but Luki and Sonny’s honeymoon is derailed when sixteen-year-old nephew Jackie is lured into capture and torture by a sadistic killer, and must be rescued from a compound in the desert-dry Umatilla Forest.

Will your book be self-published or traditional?
Dreamspinner Press will publish it in May or June 2013. They’ve published the other Vasquez and James books as well.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I really don’t remember. I started the book—just snatches here and there—but got to work on it more in earnest after Delsyn’s Blues was released. I was interrupted to work on Yes: A Vasquez and James Novella. It did take me longer than usual, for some reason.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Well, because the reading I can do is limited, due to time, I’m sure there are books I don’t know of that would fit the bill. With the hope that Rhys Ford doesn’t mind, I will say that her Dirty Kiss and Dirty Secret have some similarity—at least in terms of the “badass” main character. Other than that I don’t know—but I’d love to hear from someone else what they think!

Who or What inspired you to write this book?
The characters, Luki Vasquez and Sonny James. They constantly inspire me.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
The romance between Luki and Sonny is always evolving, growing stronger, and they just get sexier together. There’s some erotic scenes, some funny ones, and some edge-of-your-seat fear. And then there’s some scenes that are just plain sweet. I think it will be hard for a reader not to fall in love with these beautiful men. And of course, they get married in wonderful Hawaii. Yes!

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Filed under Dreamspinner Press, Finding Jackie, Next Big Thing Blog Chain, Vasquez & James

T. A. Webb (aka the Mean Old Bear That Could)–on *Second Chances* and “pantser” style writing

Click the cover image to go to the buy/preorder page at Dreamspinner.

Mark Jennings is at a crossroads. His finance job in the Atlanta nonprofit scene stresses him out, his mother is dying, and his relationship with Brian Jacobs has crashed and burned. He needs a distraction, some way to relax, and a massage seems like just the thing. He never expected his massage therapist, Antonio Roberto, to become his best friend.
Despite their differences—Antonio is a divorced single father—the two men forge a firm friendship that weathers Mark’s reconciliation with Brian and Antonio’s questionable taste in women. Over the years, Antonio remains constant in his support, though others in Mark’s life come and go through a revolving door.
When a young boy runs away from the group home where he works, Mark finds another door opening. Through it all he holds on to the things his loved ones taught him—about family, about friends and lovers, about life and death. Most importantly, he realizes that sometimes the greatest gift of all is a second chance. Second Chances” will be out on October 17th from Dreamspinner.

T. A. Webb is the writing name for the Mean Old Bear That Could. By day, he’s the director of finance for a non-profit agency. He’s worked with people living with HIV/AIDS and with children in the foster care system for over twenty years, and takes the smaller pay for the chance to make a difference for those who can’t help themselves. After hours, he’s the proud single papa of four rescue dogs, was born and raised in Atlanta, where he still lives, and is a pretty darned good country cook.

His sister taught him to read when he was four, and he tore his way through the local library over the next few years. Always wanting more, he snuck a copy of The Exorcist under his parents’ house to read when he was eleven and scared the bejesus out of himself. Thus began a love affair with books that skirt the edge, and when he discovered gay literature, he was hooked for life.

T. A. can be found at Facebook under AuthorTAWebb, tweeted at #TomBearAtl, or if you really want to, you can email him at AuthorTAWebb@aol.com.

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. Once I get in my head who they are, then they start talking to me and the story is off and running! I fill in the blanks of their personalities, and the names just kind of come to me. Same with titles – I start with something generic until the story really cooks, then the name comes to me kind of organically.

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: My most recent book, Deep Blues Goodbye, is set in New Orleans. It’s an erotic urban fantasy, vampires and werewolves set on an unaware world. And what better place than New Orleans with the voodoo that we do so well? I like to set stories close to home – Atlanta for me – or where they make most sense. Second Chances is set in Atlanta, as is the short I have in the IRM Winter Anthology, His Name was Harley Manfield.

Q: How much power do you give your characters in steering the story line?
A: All the power. I’m a “pantser” – I write by the seat of my pants. The characters talk to me and set the action. They live and laugh and love and sometimes die and I have no idea what’s gonna happen until it does.

Q: What is the most satisfying element for you in writing gay relationships, and why?
Q: Hmmm. I like to tell the history, how the characters got to the place in their lives where they are today. And then how that history led them to interact with each other and fall in love or whatever they do. It’s all about the build-up for me.

Q: Are readers involved in making your fiction—do they suggest stories or say what they’d like to read?
A: Not yet. So far I’m still a newbie, so nobody cares yet!

Q: Describe the ideal relationship between author and readers.
A: Wow. Should there be a relationship? Other than that the author writes for readers, and readers read. I’ve been a reviewer for a couple of years and a reader all my life, and have always thought that authors don’t owe me anything except a well-written work. Today, though, it seems with the internet everyone thinks they own a piece of each other. Well, I disagree. Read me or not. Like me or not. But it’s my work that you should [be] worried about.

Q: What do you find useful about reviews?
A: They can tell a writer if they are on track with their stories. I write reviews, and my goal is always to tell other readers the good about a book, and what I think might be improved. But I refuse to write bad reviews or talk about the author. So the feedback – as a writer – it tells me if I am doing a good job communicating my story. If I am, great, but if I’m not, I need to get better. And even with a good review, I need to get better!

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: In Deep Blues Goodbye, we have a boatload of sexy men. My personal favorite is Travis. He’s tall, dark and handsome, and just now getting that he can have a life after being turned into a vampire. But Sam is a special guy too. He’s always willing to look inside himself and learn something new. In Second Chances, it’s Brian. He’s loving, knows he fucked up, and still comes back for more.

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

He pushed up into my hand and I shoved a hand inside his jeans. “Think you can come in the next two minutes?” He groaned and nodded. This was my new favorite game. Giving him a time limit, and if he didn’t get off within that time, he didn’t get to. ’Til the next day. He’d gotten very good at this game.

From Second Chances

Q: What are you doing now, what do plan to write next?
A: I have *gulps* six things going on at once now. I have two shorts for a new YA anthology to finish, the new book in the Altered States series, a novella about two porn guys and the man who brings them together in love, a 1940’s story called Buzz and Tommy’s Summer, and a book with another writer that’s a fun semi-paranormal piece. Then another book in the series and a follow-up to Second Chances that tells Robbie and Jason’s story. Then…another Altered States book and a paranormal book I woke up with already all plotted and told in my head!

I wondered if praying that she wouldn’t pull out of this episode made me a terrible son. I didn’t dare breathe a word of that to anybody, but fuck it, I could stand here and by God take a minute to suffer and let my heart bleed in private. Pull all the jagged pieces of my soul together and cobble them into something resembling the man everybody knew as Mark Jennings before I had to go in and be him.

But after a few minutes and a few more deep breaths, I pulled it together. Took the piece of me that was the good son, attached it to the responsible work Mark, the peacemaker brother, the single gay man pieces. Looked at all the parts tiredly, and once they fit into something that approached a whole man, I slipped back into my skin. I took a deep breath and opened the door to Mom’s room.

Dad was there. It may have been too early for any of my brothers and sisters, but that was almost a relief. Today it would be nice just to have some time with him while I still felt so tired and raw.

“It’s good to see you, son.” He hugged me and eyed the sack I brought in from Huey’s. He loved the beignets and the muffaletta sandwiches I’d gotten into the habit of picking up for our dinner.

I handed him the bag. “You too, Dad. Looks like everything’s about the same here, huh? Thought I’d come and keep you company.”

“But I know you’re tired. I told you to go home after work and I’d call you if anything changed,” he fussed as he dug around in the bag.

“Just hush and eat. Where is everybody?” I plopped down in a chair and kicked my shoes off. I’d been at this damn hospital enough to know how to make myself comfortable.

“You’re it right now.” He plowed into the food like a hungry bear, and I knew he’d probably skipped lunch to sit with her. Again. “Patty was here earlier, and Robert. Said he and Jennifer’d be back tonight. The doctor was in today, said she may wake up tomorrow some time.”

I didn’t want to talk about that right now. More than anything, that subject threatened the fragile internal balance I’d forged, so we talked about little crap. What my day’d been like. What had to be done around the house when he made it back there.

But we also slid in some of the more important things, too. How was he holding up. Was I okay. Had I heard from Brian. Things he would share with me, the responsible son. My brothers and sisters, while I loved them, always made everything such fucking drama, and found reasons to let me handle the hard things. You know, since I didn’t have kids and a wife, or a husband, or a boyfriend. At least that’s what Brenda and Sam and Linda thought. Robert and Patti, at least, pitched in as best they could.

But it was also our way to ignore the big things without telling each other to fuck off.

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Filed under featured authors, just a category, M/M romance, Writers on writing

This is a Follow the Rainbow Blog Hop Stop!

Hi! Welcome to the Follow the Rainbow Blog Hop! Before I answer the essay question posed by the hop organizers, just in case you don’t already know I’m going to tell you about the other important stuff—prizes! The hop is the brainchild of Rainbow Book Reviews, and they’re set to give away four $25 book gift certificates, good at Amazon or All Romance. Nice, huh? To be eligible for one of those prizes, follow this link and comment: Rainbow Book Reviews Follow the Rainbow Blog Hop. But that’s not all! Your comment there also puts you in the running for prizes from a whole long list of participating publishers—Dreamspinner, Bold Strokes, Silver, Torquere, Untreed Reads, Riptide, Amber Allure, Less than Three. (I think I got them all).

On top of all that, if you comment here, I’ll put your name in the hat for my own drawing, prize is an ebook of Yes: A Vasquez and James Novella (the latest release in the series). (If you already have Yes, we may be able to work a deal for one of the other Vasquez and James books.

Okay, now down to the Blog Hop Question. The instructions tell me to write about what writing GLBTQ means to me. Um. Well. As a bi woman who has lived much of her life as a lesbian, you would think I would say it gives me a chance to create lesbian role models and beautiful lesbian relationships. However, I have in recent times only written M/M romance. So I’m going to cheat a bit and write about “why” I write M/M romance. Of course the short answer is because I love to write and this is what I’m loving to write right now—probably will be for a good long while, if the multiplying ideas and plot bunnies are any indication. So, other than sheer love of the act, why do I write M/M romance?

Why is always a trick question, I think. So often, as soon as I say, “this is why I did it,” I realize there’s a thousand other answers equally true. Nevertheless, here’s the answer:

I find it unavoidable.

No bull, this is true—for me, for right now I cannot not write this stuff.

This situation of inevitable M/M romance production started when I was writing a YA fantasy, a book meant for the young end of that readership spectrum. The book had no romance (I don’t believe the average 12 y/o boy wants to read romance of any kind) although I did have an idea that romances might flourish in later installments in the series. One night, while I slept and the characters talked quietly amongst themselves in their word document, a couple of really, really fine adult male characters (both of whom I was secretly in love with) fell in love with each other. They were so hot for each other strange things happened, and they became tongue-tied when they met up. One of these guys was a tall Native American (like Sonny James) firefighter from northern California (not like Sonny James) who also happened to be a shape shifter—his alter ego being a California Condor. The other guy was a very self-possessed ultimate warrior with a limited talent for reading minds—sometimes for some reasons. (Oh yeah, also he’s 200 years old, from another world, and works for the Premier Wizard.)

When those two fell in love I was virtually paralyzed as far as writing the book I’d meant to write. I had to stop working on the book, scratch out a quick, hot love story for the guys, promise I’d see them later, and then finally get back to my YA Fantasy. But I had never heard of M/M romance as a genre, and I’d never heard of publishers that not only accepted but solicited such stories.

At the time, I wrote short stories with some regularity, and published them in small markets. I wrote two blatantly M/M stories, one a humorous romance, and one an angsty romance. I wrote another humorous story in which the protag is gay, but that wasn’t the central theme of the story, and there was no romance. Finally I wrote a dark paranormal pseudo-historical fantasy (I know, too many adjectives) that I can best describe as murder/romance, very creepy but one of my faves. All that time, I still didn’t know I wanted to write M/M romance.

But then I did know.

Loving Luki Vasquez is a direct descendant of that original pair of demanding lovers that were born (in full, rampant, sexual heat) in the manuscript of that YA fantasy—maybe a couple of generations removed. It almost wrote itself—at least in the sex scenes—and I started looking for a place to submit. When I ran across Dreamspinner, I almost thought, “No, that’s too good to be true!” Once I had that novel submitted and accepted, I realized that Luki and Sonny had more stories. I also realized that, while they don’t think of me as their slave, I am an indentured servant. I hope I can buy my way out soon.

Ah, but if I do… I have other gay men standing around making romantic and or sexual overtures toward each other, keeping each other occupied by making up stories together that I will then be forced to write. Forced to write because the stories are compelling, because the love and pain the characters endure are not so much gay as human, because passion and heartbreak and sickness and health and friends and children and parents and pets and—deep breath—are no different for gay men and their loved ones than they are for anyone else.

So that’s why I write M/M Romance. That’s what it means to me. Good thing I enjoy it!

(See my free fiction page for some of the stories I mentioned above, if you are interested.)

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