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River City Chronicles blog tour—$25 GC giveaway and a double helping of excerpts from J. Scott Coatsworth

COVER-River-City

J. Scott Coatsworth has a new queer magical realism book out:

A group of strangers meets at Ragazzi, an Italian restaurant, for a cooking lesson that will change them all. They quickly become intertwined in each other’s lives, and a bit of magic touches each of them.

Meet Dave, the consultant who lost his partner; Matteo and Diego, the couple who run the restaurant; recently-widowed Carmelina; Marcos, a web designer getting too old for hook-ups; Ben, a trans author writing the Great American Novel; teenager Marissa, kicked out for being bi; and Sam and Brad, a May-September couple who would never have gotten together without a little magic of their own.

Everyone in the River City has a secret, and sooner or later secrets always come out.

Amazon (ebook) | Amazon (paperback) | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | QueeRomance Ink | Goodreads


Giveaway

One lucky winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card. Enter via Rafflecopter for a chance to win.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d4710/?


Excerpt

Matteo stared out the restaurant window into the darkness of Folsom Boulevard. It was getting dark earlier as summer edged into fall. Streetlights flickered on as cars drifted by, looking for parking or making the trip out of Midtown toward home.

The sign on the window read “Ragazzi” (the boys), lettered in a beautiful golden script just two months old. Investing in this little restaurant his uncle had left to them when he’d passed away had been their ticket out of Italy. But now with each passing day, as seats sat empty and tomatoes, pasta, and garlic went uneaten, the worry was gnawing ever deeper into Matteo’s gut.

Behind him in the open, modernized kitchen, Diego was busy cooking—his mother’s lasagne, some fresh fish from San Francisco, and some of the newer Italian dishes they’d brought with them from Bologna. The smells of boiling sauce and fresh-cooked pasta that emanated from the kitchen were entrancing.

They’d sent the rest of the staff —Max and Justin—home for the evening. The three customers who had shown up so far didn’t justify the cost of keeping their waiter and busboy on hand.

Matteo stopped at the couple’s table in front of the other window. “Buona sera,” he said, smiling his brightest Italian smile.

“Hi,” the man said, smiling back at him. He was a gentleman in about his mid-fifties, wearing a golf shirt and floppy hat. “Kinda quiet tonight, huh?”

“It always gets busier later,” Matteo lied smoothly. “Pleasure to have you here. Can I get you anything else?”

“A little more wine, please?” the woman said, holding out her glass so the charm bracelet on her wrist jangled.

“Of course.” He bowed and ducked into the kitchen.

He gave Diego a quick peck on the cheek.

His husband and chef waved him off with a snort. “Più tardi. Sto preparando la cena.”

“I can see that. Dinner for a hundred, is it? It’s dead out there again tonight.”

Diego shot him a dirty look.

Matteo retrieved the bottle of wine from the case and returned to fill up his guests’ glasses. “What brings you in tonight?” Maybe they saw our ad.…

“Just walking by and we were hungry. I miss the old place though.… What was it called, honey?”

Her husband scratched his chin. “Little Italy, I think?”

“That’s it! It was the cutest place. Checkered tablecloths, those great Italian bottles with the melted wax… so Italian.”

Matteo groaned inside. “So glad you came in” was all he said with another smile.


Now an exclusive excerpt!

Brad was rousted from bed by someone pounding on the front door. Who the hell was coming by at ten thirty p.m.? He grabbed the bat he kept next to the bed.

“Who is it?” Sam asked blearily.

“I don’t know. I’ll find out.”

Sam sat up, and Brad smothered the urge to jump back in bed. Screw their visitor. Sam looked adorable with his sleepy eyes and blond hair sticking up at odd angles.
The pounding sounded again.

“Want me to come with?”

“No, just be ready to call 911.” They were downtown, after all. Things happened here, sometimes. “I’m coming!” Brad shouted to whoever was knocking. He pulled on his robe and clambered down the stairway to the front door. “Who is it?” he called, bat held at ready.

“Brad, it’s Marcos. I need your help.”

Marcos… the web designer? He unlocked the door. “How the hell did you get my home address?” he asked, staring at the man. “You do know I’m married, right?”

Marcos grinned sheepishly. “I know. You had a fundraising party here last year for the Center, remember?”

“Oh, crap. Yeah.” He’d forgotten all about it. “So why are you here?”

“I need your help. Remember that girl, Marissa?”

“Yes. What happened?” He was starting to regret having shared the information with Marcos. If anything had happened to her as a result, he could lose his job.

“She’s in trouble. She called me from the County Jail up on I Street.”

Brad scratched his chin. “Why did she call you?”

“I don’t know. I left my number for her where she hangs out. I guess I was the only one she could think of.”

“Maybe so. Many of these kids don’t have anyone. Hey, come inside. It’s cold out there.” He let Marcos in and closed the door.

“Who was it?” Sam was standing at the top of the stairs in only his white briefs.

Marcos looked up and whistled.

“Just our web designer.”

Sam blushed. “Um, sorry. I’ll leave you guys alone.” He vanished into the bedroom.

“Come have a seat.” Brad ushered Marcos into their small living room.

“Congratulations, Brad. The hubby’s quite a catch.”

Brad cleared his throat. “Marissa?”

“Oh, yeah, sorry. She said she was framed. She needs me to come get her out, but I don’t think they’ll let me, since she’s underage. You know people there, right?”

Brad nodded. “What was the officer’s name?”

“Um… Donna? Dorothy?”

“Doris?”

“Yes. I think so.”

“I’ll come with you and see what I can do. What will you do if they release her to you?”

Marcos shook his head. “I don’t know yet. Get her home and in a warm bed for tonight. I can figure out the rest tomorrow.”

Brad touched Marco’s shoulder. “Why are you doing this?”

“Because she’s me twenty years ago.”

Brad nodded. “Okay, let’s go. You brought your car?”

Author Bio

J. Scott Coatsworth

Scott lives with his husband Mark in a little yellow bungalow in East Sacramento, with two pink flamingos by the front porch.

He spends his time between the here and now and the what could be. Indoctrinated into fantasy and sci fi by his mother at the tender age of nine, he devoured her library. But as he grew up, he wondered where the people like him were.

He decided it was time to create the kinds of stories he couldn’t find at Waldenbooks. If there weren’t gay characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends.

His friends say Scott’s brain works a little differently – he sees relationships between things that others miss, and gets more done in a day than most folks manage in a week. He seeks to transform traditional sci fi, fantasy, and contemporary worlds into something unexpected.

He runs Queer Sci Fi and QueeRomance Ink with his husband Mark, sites that bring queer people together to promote and celebrate fiction that reflects their own reality.

Author Website: https://www.jscottcoatsworth.com

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/jscottcoatsworth

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/jscottcoatsworthauthor/

Author Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/jscoatsworth

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8392709.J_Scott_Coatsworth

Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/j-scott-coatsworth/

Author Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/J.-Scott-Coatsworth/e/B011AFO4OQ

 

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Community 2018—Excerpt from The Family We Make by Kaje Harper (Enter to win an e-book!)

Hi readers! This month in the “Community” series, Romance Across the Rainbow is happy to feature Kaje Harper. Here you can find some information about her book, The Family We Make, but don’t miss our thoughtful and fun interview answers here. And yes, there’s a giveaway—comment here or following the interview to have your name in the hat for the random draw. You can win an e-book of your choice (even this one) from Kaje’s backlist!

At seventeen, Rick Albright left his home, his parents and even his old name, rather than pretend to be straight. But being on his own was hard. When his big brother Sam found him, and insisted on giving him a place to stay, he didn’t resist too long. Living with Sam is better than fighting just to survive, but it’s not easy to find his balance in a simple, small-town life, after his time on the streets.

Travis Brinkerhoff finally managed to come out in college, his second year anyway. It was the one bright side to losing his baseball scholarship and jock status. But without money for tuition, second year came to an abrupt end. He’s back in his small Minnesota hometown, and back in the closet. Travis feels like he’s trying to fit into a life he’s outgrown. If he’s going to survive, he has to figure out a way to be his own man, maybe even have his own man, without losing the family he loves.

When he left the Marines, Sam Albright wanted nothing more than to find his missing younger brother. Mission accomplished. Now he’s got an independent, possibly traumatized, openly gay young man on his hands, a girlfriend in a war zone overseas, and parents he has to lie to in order to keep the peace. Keeping it all together won’t be easy, but Sam has never backed away from a challenge.

This book follows the first free novella, The Family We’re Born With, but can be read as a stand-alone.

Buy the Book:

Excerpt!

Keith reached for the shovel, Rick leaned on it to keep it planted, and Keith shoved him off hard. Rick staggered backward, hit the fence, and the gate popped open. Quick as a flash, a small beige dog leaped out and bounded toward the woods. All three of them yelled, “Hey! Tiny! Come back here!” and “Come, boy!” but the dog disappeared into the nearest stand of trees.

“Fuck!” Keith stared after it. “Look what the hell you did.”

“Me?” Rick said. “That’s your fucking fault, you slimy crotchwaffle!”

Travis vaulted the porch rail, yelling at both of them, “Who cares. We have to catch it!” He ran after the dog, doing his best to sprint through the deep snow. Rick fell in beside him, keeping up despite his shorter legs. Keith called after them, “You guys go after the dog. I’ll get the owner and the truck, and go around.”

“Fuck him,” Rick panted, as the snow got deeper. “Fuck his smelly turdface mouth.”

No thanks. Travis staggered as his foot caught in some hidden weeds. Rick grabbed his arm and yanked him back upright. They both were forced to slow down. “Man, that dog’s fast,” Travis muttered.

“That’s a whippet. Born to run.”

“Huh.” They were into the trees, and the dog was still out of sight. At least with the snow, its tracks were clear. “Not furry enough to be wandering in the snow though.”

“No. Really not. Damn his whitetrash ass.”

“The dog?”

Rick shot him a look that was clearly not amused.

The ground under the trees was uneven, and there were unexpected deeper hollows. They floundered after the dog, following the trenches that marked its bounding progress. Suddenly Rick grabbed his arm. “Over there.”

The dog stood under an evergreen, where the snow only reached halfway up its slender legs. It stared at them, one forefoot raised, its ears tipped sideways like little signal flags.

“Here, Tiny,” Rick crooned in a soft voice. “Here, boy.” He held out his hand. “Come and get the treat, Tiny.”
Travis whispered, “Do you really have dog treats?”

Rick said in the same deep, soothing tone, “Do I look fucking psychic? Come on, boy. Nice invisible treats here.” He crouched lower.

The dog took a couple of steps toward them, its nose snuffling, its breath clouding the still air.
“It’s shivering,” Travis said. “Poor puppy.”

“Come on, you dumb knobgoblin,” Rick crooned.

“That’s hobgoblin,” Travis pointed out softly.

“Not to me. Come on, Tiny. Nice frog liver treats with sauerkraut, right here. Nice pickled pigeon feet. Come on, Tiny. Come. Come, you stupid-ass biscuit-gobbler.”

Slowly the dog crept closer, taking a step at a time, and then freezing again. Rick waved his hand back and forth. “Yeah, that’s the way. Trav, you don’t have a fucking candy bar or stick of gum or anything, right?”

“No, sorry. And don’t call me Trav.”

“You think you can wait to argue semantics till we catch this hairy twatwaffle?”

“Um. Sure.” He shivered too, but not from cold. That crooning voice, the hint of Texas in the vowels, the way that Rick looked all soft and worried, made him feel strange. And not in any way he wanted to think about. He spoke clearly, trying for a quiet command. “Come, Tiny. Come, boy.”

Clearly he had the wrong voice for this, because the dog jumped backward a step.

Rick practically sang, “Nooo, boy. Gooood boy.” The dog stopped again, looking at him. “Come on, mutant rat. The big scary guy is going to shut up noooow.”

Travis held his breath as the dog crept nearer, and nearer.

“He’s wearing a collar,” Rick lilted quietly. “Grab the little bastard that way, aren’t you a good boy, goooood boy.”

Tiny stretched his neck out, sniffing toward Rick’s hand. Travis gathered himself to get that collar. Suddenly a crow flew up from a tree, with a loud caw. The dog jumped a foot in the air and two feet sideways. Travis’s hand closed on thin air. The dog took another leap past them, and they both grabbed for it, but neither of them made contact, except with each other. The dog dodged away, vaulted a fallen log and was gone, while he and Rick collapsed in the deep snow in a tangled heap.

“Fuck,” Rick grunted. “You’re heavy. Get off me.”

“Trying.” Travis shoved his right hand into the drift to brace himself and sank past his elbow. Something hard under the snow rasped against his wrist, and he dropped lower onto Rick. “Why don’t you move?”

“Because your damned hip is in my crotch,” Rick grunted. “The last guy who pinned me like this at least bought dinner.”

“Screw you.” Travis was suddenly aware of the lean body under him and the muscled hardness of Rick’s legs against his thighs. Rick’s sunglasses had come off in the fall. His eyes were dark, mostly brown but with little hints of gold in them, and they met Travis’s, widening slightly. Travis blinked hard. “Here, wait.” He twisted, his knee slipping in the snow, which only brought their hips together more. He gasped a breath, tugging his arm out of whatever branch had it in a death grip under the snow, and felt his groin press against Rick’s.

Rick looked up at him with a nasty grin, bucked his hips up, and said, “You’re liking this a bit too much for a straight boy.”
Travis hauled off with his free hand and hit him.

About the author:

I get asked about my name a lot. It’s not something exotic, though. “Kaje” is pronounced just like “cage” – it’s an old nickname.

I was born in Montreal but I’ve lived for 30 years in Minnesota, where the two seasons are Snow-removal and Road-repair, where the mosquito is the state bird, and where winter can be breathtakingly beautiful. Minnesota’s a kind, quiet (if sometimes chilly) place and it’s home.

I’ve been writing far longer than I care to admit (whispers – forty years), mostly for my own entertainment, usually M/M romance (with added mystery, fantasy, historical, SciFi…) I also have a few Young Adult stories (some released under the pen name Kira Harp.)

My husband finally convinced me that after all the years of writing for fun, I really should submit something, somewhere. My first professionally published book, Life Lessons, came out from MLR Press in May 2011. I have a weakness for closeted cops with honest hearts, and teachers who speak their minds, and I had fun writing four novels and three freebie short stories in that series. I was delighted and encouraged by the reception Mac and Tony received.

I now have a good-sized backlist in ebooks and print, both free and professionally published, including Amazon bestseller The Rebuilding Year and Rainbow Award Best Mystery-Thriller Tracefinder: Contact. A complete list with links can be found on my website “Books” page at https://kajeharper.wordpress.com/books/.

I’m always pleased to have readers find me online at:

Website: https://kajeharper.wordpress.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KajeHarper
Goodreads Author page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4769304.Kaje_Harper

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Filed under community, Contests, featured authors, GLBT YA fiction, just a category

Excerpt from Sharita Lira’s new release—Caught in the Crossfire (PROTEKT book 3)

To wrap up sylvre.com’s feature for March—all about Sharita Lira, author and strong supporter of diversity and all things community—here’s an excerpt from her new release, Caught in the Crossfire Enjoy, and if you haven’t already seen the info about her two March 2018 releases and the in-depth interview, be sure to check out those posts!


Chapter One

Babysitting a spoiled pop star? What kind of assignment is this for a skilled person like myself?” Newly recruited PROTEKT agent, Tryst Olivares grumbled to himself as he eyed his instructions from his boss, Wes Moreland. He hated them, and only wished to get this first task out of the way before the real deals came into play… or perhaps he wasn’t, since he had ulterior motives that went against everything he’d taken the PROTEKT oath for.

No matter.

By the time his new “friends” got a load of what hit them, he’d be paid handsomely, lounging around on the beaches of St. Tropez with drink in hand along with plenty of tight asses to take pleasure in.

Despite his name, Tryst didn’t do long term relationships. He figured he was too young to be committed to only one lover. In most of his twenty-eight years, Tryst preferred to have a wide selection of partners to sample as if his love life was some all-you-can-eat dinner buffet. In his mind, why settle when you could have all the men when you want at any time?

No question, Captain Kimball Emerson, the leader of PROTEKT caught his eye, but he had an American bulldog for a man, who more than made his presence felt during their first meeting. Then there was Devlin Crawford and his hot husband Aiden Moriarty, his fellow agents who in a past lifetime, he wouldn’t have minded having in his bed. Yes, PROTEKT was full of hot men, unfortunately none of them available.

Too bad.

Tryst would have loved to add all three to the few notches remaining on his proverbial belt. Tryst loved variety and never allowed anything but another man’s commitment to stop him from jumping into bed with someone. He had to have some kind of morals, even if they meant nothing to him. Besides, his mother always berated Tryst about not following the Lord’s word and the one command he decided he’d follow would be adultery.

Never mind, murder, stealing, and lying.

Didn’t everyone do that just to survive?

In this dog eat dog world, only the people who did things underhandedly would be left standing. So Tryst chose to do everything else but steal someone else’s man. More than God, Tryst believed in Karma and he thought if he wanted to live happily, he’d better not test the bitch.

With his favorite drink in one hand and the tablet containing the instructions on where to meet the spoiled pop tart in the other, Tryst leaned back into the leather sofa at his new digs Wes gave him. Tryst had to say Wes’s attention to detail as well as the lengths he went through to care for his agents impressed him. In the few days he’d been in PROTEKT, he was awed by the manner in which the organization was run. From top to bottom, PROTEKT had ironclad leadership, teaching their agents how to spot and solve problems, as well as man-to-man combat. They thrived on picking the kind of people who wanted to take justice into their own hands.

“Dios mio.”

If only there was a way to make his employers happy, but unfortunately, that would never occur. There were certain things he loved about both and wished he could merge them into one to be completely fulfilled. Perhaps this was yet another reason why Tryst decided to stay single because indecisiveness had always plagued him.

Saddened by that blunt realization, Tryst sipped from his glass again, tasting the sweetness from the liquor on his taste buds. He wasn’t sure exactly what it was, considering that before he’d joined the organization Tryst’s regular poisons were tequila and beer.

Regardless, he’d thoroughly enjoyed the flavorful liquid and relished in its tastes even though he’d been told not to indulge himself too much for fear of losing focus. After all, the time for operation revenge was on the horizon and according to his “actual” boss, he’d better not screw up or it would mean his untimely death.


Buy the book here:

Thanks for sharing your writing and your thoughts, and letting us celebrate your March releases with you. Congratulations on those! I’ve loved having you on the blog—please do come by again.

Thanks, Readers!

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Exclusive excerpt from J. Scott Coatsworth’s *Lander*

Alix followed after Xander and Quince, trying to ignore the scowls and hateful stares he got from the skythane they passed as they made their way through the halls of the castle. He wasn’t wearing his enforcer garb, but either these people recognized him from his time there, or they were just soured on landers as a whole.

He couldn’t really blame them. They’d come as advisors to the king, promising to help modernize Gaelan. Within a few months, they’d become occupiers instead.

One man spat on him as he passed.

Alix closed his eyes. They had their reasons—even if he hadn’t been personally responsible for most of the bad things that had happened. He was still a ranger.

He was also astonished that Xander was a prince here. The first time they’d met, Xander had been a pale, skinny thing, running courier duty for Rogan in the Slander. Alix had immediately wanted to protect the boy, but it had taken him three long years to find him again and to buy out his contract. By then Xander had been seventeen, but in some ways he had still seemed much younger, his development arrested when Rogan had taken him. He’d had a lot of anger issues.

Xander had grown into his full potential. It was strange to see the man inhabit the role of a skythane king. Xander had always been out for himself before anyone else, a lone wolf. It was a natural response to six years of sexual slavery.

Now that version of Xander was gone. Somehow, his new maturity only made him more attractive to Alix.

Quince had warned him to stay away, but how could he? The man he had dreamed about for a year, had missed like a ragged hole in his soul, was right there in front of him.

Alix was no fool, though. Xander was focused on his new love, and he would gain nothing by stepping in the middle of that. Especially when Jameson was in some kind of crisis. He would have to wait and see what developed.

“In here.” Mylin led them into a small, bare room with a lumpy mattress.

“What is this place?” Xander asked.

“It’s my room,” Mylin explained. “I didn’t want it. But some of the others insisted I have a place to come for an hour or two to get away from the madness.”

Xander kissed her cheek. “I’m grateful.”

It was a particular kind of grace, as if the whole place didn’t belong to him to begin with. “Let’s get Jameson down on the mattress.” Quince and Xander laid Jameson down, holding him in place to keep him from thrashing about too much and injuring himself.

The man’s face was flushed, his wings extended and shivering as if he were freezing cold, but his skin was covered in sweat.

“What’s wrong with him?” Alix asked. He’d seen that look on men on campaign who’d been injured, but there wasn’t a bruise or cut on him, as far as Alix could tell.

Mylin returned with an earthenware bowl and a cloth and used it to wipe his forehead. The cool water seemed to calm him.

“He’s stuck in a memory loop,” Xander said, as if that should make perfect sense. “He sees these past memories, things that happened wherever he is, and sometimes they overwhelm him.”

“Whose memories? Looks more like a seizure to me.” Xander wasn’t buying into the native superstitions, was he? Though to be fair, Alix had seen his share of strange things on this half of the world.

Xander glared at him. “I have them too, but not like this.”

“What?”

“The memories. You sounded skeptical. We just shifted an entire world. You have to learn to adjust your expectations for what’s likely and possible.”

That shut Alix up.

“This happened before?” Quince asked.

“Yeah, back in the cavern.” Xander pulled out a pulse pistol. “This shocked him out of it.”

Quince smiled grimly. “I imagine it would. But you don’t want to go applying too many of those to poor young Jameson here. They could start to scramble his brain.”

“I know.” Xander winced. “So what do we do?”

Alix refrained from saying that it would be hard to tell the difference. “I might be able to help,” he said instead, as surprised as any of them that those words came out of his mouth.

Xander and Quince turned to him, surprised. “How?” Xander asked, but he looked hopeful.

“I have some experience dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder and panic attacks.” He pulled off his jacket and unbuttoned his shirt. He brushed off Xander’s renewed glare. “I know it’s not the same, but he needs to regain his focus on the here and now. I know a few things that might help.” He knelt next to Jameson.

Jameson whimpered.

Alix had a hard time keeping up his anger at Jameson. In fact, for a moment he was reminded of Xander, the first time they’d met. Jameson was pale and helpless, out of control of his own fate. Alix growled under his breath. He did not want to have sympathy for this man.

Gently he took Jameson’s hand and turned it over. Stunned, he hesitated.

Jameson’s fingernails had a double moon—a second arc above the first, separated by a thin line. It was subtle, but he was used to seeing it in rangers who’d taken up the habit during the long occupation.

Jameson was a pith user?

Alix shook his head. It was none of his business. “Can you take the lantern out of here? It may be easier if he has less to focus on.”

Robyn complied, taking it outside the door, and the room dimmed.

Alix held Jameson’s palm to his own bare chest. “Jameson, can you hear me?”

There was no glimmer of recognition in Jameson’s eyes.

Alix sighed. He had no guarantee that this would work. Still, it didn’t hurt to try. “Jameson, this is Alix. I’m right here with you.” He took a deep breath and breathed out just as slowly. “You have to focus, Jameson. Focus on me. Feel my breathing.” He breathed in once, deeply, holding it for a long moment, and then out again. “I want you to breathe with me.”

Alix put his other hand on Jameson’s chest. “In. Out. In. Out. Focus on breathing.”

He concentrated on his own.

“Is it working?” Xander peered over his shoulder.

“Shhhh.” Alix’s hand was warm against Jameson’s beautiful chest. Jameson looked like an angel. He shook his head. He would not let himself be attracted to Xander’s crush. “We’re all here with you, Jameson. In….”

Jameson’s chest lifted.

“Out.”
Jameson’s chest fell.

“That’s good.” Soon they were breathing together as one, connected skin to skin. It was as intimate a thing as he had ever experienced. “It’s okay. Let the memories go. Just keep breathing.”

Xander’s hand settled on his shoulder, sending a new splash of warmth through his body.

At last, Jameson’s eyes focused.

He looked up at Alix. “What… what happened?”

“You were stuck in your memories. The breathing helped you to get a grip and move past them.” He lifted his hand off Jameson’s chest and laid it down on the bed. The connection was broken.

“Thanks.” Jameson’s voice was raspy.

“Are they gone for now?”

Jameson looked around. “I think so.”

Alix nodded. “Good. I can teach you how to cope with them, I think. If you want.”

“Yes, please.” Jameson closed his eyes. “So tired.”

“He was tired last time too,” Xander said. “I think these memory storms really take it out of him.” Alix got up so Xander could kneel next to Jameson. “Sleep, my love.”

Jameson nodded, and his head drooped to the side.

“That was nicely done,” Quince whispered to Alix.

“Just part of my training.”

Thanks, Scott!
Readers—stay tuned for the interview! You can find it here: Interview with J. Scott Coatsworth, author of the MM Sci-fi series, the Oberon Cycle
Go here for more information about Lander and the series: Featured Author, J. Scott Coatsworth—New Release Lander, book 2 of the Oberon Cycle

And in case you’re hooked and need to get Lander right now, here’s some links.

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Filed under Book tour, featured authors, just a category, M/M romance, New Release, Sci-fi

Rainbow Snippet from Falling Snow on Snow—expected winter release from Dreamspinner

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Hi readers! I’m trying, this month, to catch up with a few of the things that I’ve fallen behind on, and one of them is “Rainbow Snippets”, a brainchild of author Charley Descoteaux. The idea is for lots of authors to post snippets and link them to the associated Rainbow Snippets Facebook group. Click that link, and from there link to dozens of authors posts. It’s a great way to shop for a book that hooks you, and believe me, many of them will do just that with only a few words. Go see for yourself—but not before you check out my contribution this month, please!

I’m happy to spread the news here that this holiday-themed contemporary romance is accepted by Dreamspinner Press for release this winter. Here’s the snippet, blurb to follow:

The scene is inside Pike Place Market in Seattle, pre-Christmas, and guitar-playing busker Beck Justice is playing something rare—a holiday song he likes—even though he knows it won’t bring the big tips. And as he plays, an unseen singer joins in.

Snow on Snow guitarist market

Beck wasn’t, in fact, a man of religion. And though he admitted the possibility that something more existed than what could be seen, the closest he knew to spirit lived right there, in the music. In the tones born in the body of a fine guitar, the passage of breath through the vein of a flute. In the flight of sound on the wings of a perfect voice. Like this one.

“Snow was falling, snow on snow.” The singer wove the words over and under the harmonies he offered up with fingers and strings, turned them into something different, something more.

The song ended, as all songs do. But this time, when the words stopped and the echoes died away, Beck felt a thrill of panic, for he still hadn’t located the singer. What if he never found them, never again heard that soaring voice, never looked into the eyes of the man who sang.

The blurb:

For Beck Justice, December is black-hearted and cruel. It’s been that way for a long time, since before he found himself on the streets eight years ago. His recent step up into a tiny apartment and a Busker’s permit for Seattle’s Pike Place Market has done nothing to change his mind. When singer Oleg Abramov comes into his life, Beck begins to think there might be light in the middle of the bleak winter, but his efforts to get to know Oleg are blocked at every turn—mostly by happenstance, but also by his own fears.

Oleg wants Beck in his life, but when he opens up to let Beck into his heart, Beck disappears. Finally, things begin to look brighter for a possible future with the two of them in it together, until Oleg overhears a phone conversation and jumps to the wrong conclusion. It spells the end for their romance unless they both risk their hearts to trust.

logo web (smaller) jpg

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Filed under Dreamspinner Press, Falling Snow on Snow, just a category, Lou Sylvre, M/M romance, Rainbow Snippets, Upcoming release

Never Doubt! Vasquez and James Romance Will Live On!

I got to thinking, when I’ve posted about Because of Jade (Vasquez and James novel coming from in May), I share so much about the Luki and Sonny’s relationship with the little girl, Jade, that you may think there’s no romance. On the contrary… Luki always delivers. For instance, here’s a very teensy excerpt that leads up to a long, hot night of spoiling Sonny and loving him senseless.

Red rose and few lighting candles on dark background

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Filed under Because of Jade, Lou Sylvre, Vasquez & James

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: 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:

bigstock-Cropped-Image-Of-A-Nude-Africa-32140823

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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Filed under Gay Romance University, Lou Sylvre, Loving Luki Vasquez, M/M romance, Vasquez & James

A Chinchilla Shifter? Alex Kidwell on Gumption and Gumshoes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just like a real detective.

Sometimes my life got cool all at once.

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

Damn.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fuck.

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

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

I was trapped.

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

I changed.

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

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

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

Fuck.

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

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Breaking news: Deadline to enter for $25 prize extended through 8/10

I got the mother of all summer colds and didn’t follow through on anything, so there’s still time to enter to win. See the full post for details, and please do play!

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by | August 6, 2013 · 5:13 pm