Lou’s Rainbow Gate Book Blog is happy to welcome Becca Seymour!
Becca Seymour has a new MM contemporary romance out: “Let Me Show You.”
When a veterinarian and a construction worker connect, it takes mishaps, mistakes, and a Rhodesian Ridgeback named Rex to show them they’re made for each other.
Dr. Carter Falon is content living a quiet life in a small town caring for his animal patients. That doesn’t mean he’s not looking for a distraction. After finding himself precariously wedged… naked and at the mercy of a drop-dead gorgeous construction worker, Carter hires his savior to renovate his home.
When Tanner Grady’s best friend and new niece needed him, he uprooted and relocated without a second thought. His life has since been centered on work and spending time with his family, but when he comes to the rescue of a cute vet, Tanner finds he’s a lot more interested in the homeowner than the house he’s renovating.
“Hey, baby boy.” I smiled. In my late twenties, I was far from a baby, but she’d once told me that even at fifty I’d still be her baby. “Good day?”
“Yep. Not too bad. Nothing too hectic or crazy. You?”
“A great one. Your dad’s booked a cruise for our anniversary.” Excitement lit her words. She’d been hinting at Dad for a while about a cruise. I was pleased he’d listened. It didn’t take a lot to make my mom happy; she found joy in the smallest of things,so that he’d organized it all was pretty impressive. Mom usually organized everything, so I knew him booking the vacation for them was a big deal.
“That’s terrific. Caribbean?”
She actually squealed down the line. I pulled the phone from my ear and laughed loudly. “Yes! Carter, I’m so excited.”
“Really? I’d never have guessed.”
“Oh, hush.” She spoke over me as I laughed again. “Don’t sass your mother.”
My laughter continued. “Never, Mom. You’d tan my hide. Wouldn’t dream of it.”
“I should think not. So anything new? Any dates?”
With a groan, I rubbed my face and then stepped further into the kitchen and pulled out a glass. “Mom…,” I sighed.
“What? I worry about you. You’re so far from home and are there all alone.”
I poured myself a glass of wine and took a sip. “I know you worry, but honestly, life’s good.” Admittedly it would have been nice to hook up, but one, I didn’t do casual and never had, and two, there was no way I’d tell my mom I was afraid my penis would drop off from lack of use. “There’s nothing new either, and that’s okay. I’m likingthe quiet life.”
“Hmm….” That was her tell for not being convinced. “You know, I was talking to Julie last week, and her nephew’s gay.”
“Mom,” I said with laughter, “honestly, no hookups. I do not need my mom fixing me up.”
She ignored me. “Well, he lives quite far away, but maybe a week of casual—” She cleared her throat. “—sex would do you good.”
“Jesus, Mom.” I spluttered on my mouthful of wine. Grabbing a towel, I wiped my face, catching the dribble of red wine on my chin, and wiped the countertop I’d sprayed. “Stop. I don’t need you arranging anything, okay? Please tell me you’re listening.” She was quiet. “Mom,” I said louder.
“Yes, yes, I hear you.” She sighed. “Grandbabies would be nice.”
Holy crap on toast! With wide eyes, I looked at the ceiling and counted to five. I then took a big gulp of wine before saying, “Mom.”
“Yes, baby boy?”
“I have to go. I need to grab a shower. I’m expecting someone.”
“Someone to fix the house up.” I’d heard the interest in her tone, the hope in that one syllable.
“Oh.” This time her voice dropped. I hated to kill her enthusiasm, but geez, I really needed to get off the phone.
“Love you, tell Dad I love him too. And I’ll speak to you guys later. Bye, Mom.”
“Will do.” Her tone was a bit brighter. “Love you too. Bye, honey.”
I disconnected quickly and placed my phone down. My mom, yeah, she was wonderful and drove me to absolute distraction. I knew how lucky I was. Every decision I’d ever made, my parents had always had my back. They supported me unconditionally. It was just that my mom could be a little extreme at times. I laughed into the empty room. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Quickly finishing my wine, I looked at the time. I had just fifteen minutes until the contractor was due. I’d left it late to organize myself, still a little in a tizzafter the conversation with my mom and the mention of babies. I glanced around the room at the disorderly mess. Every time I did so, I regretted it.
I detested chaos,and that was what the house felt like. The place was still strewn with my moving boxes, but I had yet to see the point in unpacking. Not necessarily because I planned to move, but rather, the whole house needed a lot of work, so I knew I’d have to pack my things up for any work on the house to start.
I really hoped this Tanner guy would be the person who could finally help me out. I’d had two other quotes, one local and one from out of town. Both were crazy high,and neither would be able to start for another five months or so. I was running out of options. This guy had come recommended to me by one of my clients, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up.
I sighed in defeat as I looked around. I’d have to continue ignoring it all until I finally had the place fixed up. I headed upstairs, careful to miss the coupleof steps that had loose boards, and headed to the main bathroom. I had an en suite, but the shower didn’t work, so it was the pearlescent green suite I headed toward. The sickly porcelain made me shudder every time I laid eyes on it. It was clean though, so there was that.
I hopped into the shower, latheredmyself up, and quickly rinsed off. That was when I heard the knock at the door. “Shoot.” I quickly turned off the taps, stepped out and grabbed a towel. In my haste to get myself together and then answer the door, the dodgy floorboard didn’t even register until my foot slammed throughit, snagging my ankle and bringing me to my knees.
I yelled as I fell, and cursed. Wincing, I looked at my predicament, trying to yank my foot out as I did so. A loud groan slipped past my lips. This was no good. I was wedged, and it appeared I’d lost my towel in my fall. Just great.
Becca Seymour lives and breathes all things book related. Usually with at least three books being read and two WiPs being written at the same time, life is merrily hectic. She tends to do nothing by halves so happily seeks the craziness and busyness life offers.
Living on her small property in Queensland with her human family as well as her animal family of cows, chooks, and dogs, Becca appreciates the beauty of the world around her and is a believer that love truly is love.
Let Me Show You started from an idea of a meet cute, one that immediately had me grinning. There’s nothing I love more as a reader and a writer than that first point of contact. I love the possibility it offers, adore how one pivotal moment can set the tone and the course for the romantic development between characters.
With this in mind, the meet cute in Let Me Show You, which we find in chapter 3, essentially does that. Not only does it set the tone for the lightness and low-angst nature of the book, but it also introduces almost a whimsical chemistry between the protagonists, Tanner and Carter.
While we have two characters who are opposites on many levels, their journey, as sparked by their meet cute, soon begins to highlight their similarities. Both protective and honest, Carter and Tanner, show their determination to be positive and make the best out of a sometimes crappy situation. Their attitudes about family and loyalty are the same, as is their desire for a forever.
It’s this connection that we see immediately in their first meeting that follows them through the novel. And hopefully, it’s enough to keep you wanting to read on and cheer for this amazing couple.
Thanks OWI and Becca Seymour, for including the Lou’s Book Blog on your tour! Please come back soon! Readers, thank you for stopping by! Comments always welcome.
Romance Across the Rainbow is happy to host author Lisa Oliver on her Bound by Blood blog tour—Welcome, Lisa!
Lisa Oliver has a new MM paranormal vampire book out: Bound by Blood.
Maximillian “Max” Lipovsky has been Regent of the Atlanta coven for the past six months. His days are full of meetings and paperwork as he does his best to straighten out the mess left during the disastrous reign of Vadim’s brother Ermine. With Vadim now happily living in Cloverleah with his mate Josh, it’s up to Max to keep his friend’s coven happy and safe. Easier said than done. When it is pointed out to him it’d been more than six months since he’d fed from a willing donor, Max decides a night out is exactly what’s needed.
Lyle Roberts is tired of being scared, tiny, and alone. But mostly he’s tired. When a tall, strong man with flashing red eyes stops him getting beaten up in an alley, he thought he might have found a momentary reprieve from his rotten life. Finding out the man was a vampire, something he’d only seen in movies, Lyle decides to take a chance and asks the man to remove his curse. Only, it turns out Lyle isn’t cursed after all – unless you consider having a workaholic mate as a curse.
Lyle’s arrival at the coven seems to have brought out the worst in people. As soon as one threat’s dealt with, another one rears its ugly head. With the Alpha of the Atlanta pack pushing for a meeting, and vampires turning rogue within the coven itself, Max has his hands full. The only problem is, with his hands full, he doesn’t have anything to hold his beloved with. Will Max and Lyle ever find their HEA or will the mating curse strike its cruelest blow of all?
Bound by Blood is a complete standalone spin off story from the Cloverleah pack. Regular Lisa Oliver readers will remember Max from Watching Out for Fangs (The Cloverleah series #7) but it’s not necessary to have read that book, to understand this one. Intimate situations and some violence means this book is suitable for adults only.
Warnings: some violence including a scene of a man looking as though he was trying to hang himself, but as he’s a vampire, he would never die of it.
Lyle shivered in his fur, huddled behind an overflowing dumpster, praying no one would see him. Not that anyone would care if they did. He was a complete anomaly, not that it showed on his outward form. All passers-by would see if they looked in his direction was a pure white house cat. Well, usually white. Since arriving in the city two weeks before, Lyle had fended off dogs, rats and other cats, not to mention the odd boot from a human. Now his fur was matted with mud, blood and filth from the city streets. He let out a miserable meow. My life sucks.
It wouldn’t have been so bad if he’d had clothes on when he’d been kicked out of home. But no, his step-father insisted he’d paid for them, so they belonged to him too. For over a month now, Lyle had stayed in his shifted form, unable to work up the courage to steal clothes from any washing line he passed. I’m not a thief. I might be a pervert and an abomination, but I will not steal. Which was why he was huddled by a dumpster behind a restaurant hoping a few scraps might come his way.
He was tired, so tired. From the moment he’d shifted, Lyle hadn’t had a decent sleep. Every time he closed his eyes for longer than five minutes, his body shifted back to human, leaving him naked and vulnerable. At least it used to, now Lyle wasn’t so sure. His human perceptions were starting to fade, his life before being thrown out of home becoming distant memories. While a part of him was so tempted to jump off the mental abyss and embrace his cat life completely, a small part of him – the human part – hung on.
An evil hiss sounded behind him and Lyle turned, the fur on the back of his neck rising. A big black tom cat was showing his teeth. Great. I’ve wandered into another cat’s territory. I can’t get a fucking break. Laying his ears back Lyle hissed in return. There was a wonderful smell coming from the restaurant and Lyle wasn’t leaving his post until he’d tasted whatever it was. If that meant fighting, then he’d fight.
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“It’s true, I tell you,” Max laughed as he and Dominic left the restaurant. Feeling more relaxed than he had for ages, Max was looking forward to busting out some moves on the nearest dancefloor. “Tobias told me the next day, just after Vadim got married. His friend had bitten him, claimed him, and then ran off to make a phone call to some other guy. What else was Tobias meant to think?”
“And he ended up with both of them. Lucky bastard.” Dominic stilled. “Did you hear that?”
Max tilted his head. “Sounds like a couple of cats fighting in the alley.” He sniffed the air discretely and his eyes widened. “It’s nasty. There’s blood in the air.” Turning, he walked into the dark alley, his eyes flashing red as he scanned for life forms.
“Max, what are you doing? It’s just a couple of cats, for crying out loud.”
“Not just any cats, Dom. Go and get the car.” Max followed the faint hint of blood in the air, drawn to it, mesmerized. He lost it for one minute, as the smell coming from the dumpster flooded his senses, but he kept going. There, in the darkness, were two cats. One black, one who looked as though he used to have white fur, but now that white was matted with blood and what looked like dust and grease. The skinny white cat was holding his own, but the black tom was bigger, meaner, and wasn’t backing down.
Max kicked a stone across the concrete and both cats froze, looking at him. Trusting his instincts, Max crouched down and held out his hand. “Here, kitty, kitty. Nice white kitty. Come on, come here where you’ll be safe with me.”
“What are you doing?” Dominic’s voice sounded behind him and in the distraction the black cat lashed out a paw, swiping the white one across the face. The pained meow tugged at Max’s heart as fresh blood welled up from the scratch. As soon as the tantalizing scent hit the air, Max knew. His long search was over.
“Fate works in mysterious ways, my friend,” Max said keeping his voice low. “Unless my nose is having a major malfunction, that little white beauty is my beloved.”
“Holy fucking shit.”
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Lyle’s whole body was trembling, and it wasn’t all from fear. The mysterious voice, the stunning man, appearing in the shadows as though sent by the angels themselves. That wonderful smell, the one that lured Lyle to the alley in the first place was coming from the man. But he wasn’t an ordinary man. Lyle hadn’t missed his red eyes glowing in the darkness.
Then that damn tom scratched across his face and with the blood dripping across his eye, Lyle could barely see. He was torn, wanting to get closer to the kind man with the deep voice, but not wanting the tom to get to the man first. Must protect. Must protect. Nothing but pure instinct existed. Turning in a flash of fury, Lyle bared his teeth and unsheathed his claws. Within seconds, he and the tom were rolling around on the concrete in a clash of fur.
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“I can’t believe it,” Dominic’s voice was awed. “Did you see that? He thinks he’s protecting you from a tom cat. Why doesn’t he just shift?”
“I’m not sure.” Nothing about the white cat’s behavior seemed normal to Max. But then, he didn’t know a lot about shifters, period. “Maybe because he’d be naked if he did?”
Lisa Oliver had been writing non-fiction books for years when visions of half dressed, buff men started invading her dreams. Unable to resist the lure of her stories, Lisa decided to switch to fiction books, and now stories about her men clamor to get out from under her fingertips.
When Lisa is not writing, she is usually reading with a cup of tea always at hand. Her grown children and grandchildren sometimes try and pry her away from the computer and have found that the best way to do it, is to promise her chocolate. Lisa will do anything for chocolate.
Thank you so much for hosting me on your blog today. I’m here to share a short excerpt of my book Bound by Blood and answer a few questions about myself.
Bound by Blood is a standalone spin off from the popular Cloverleah Pack Series. Just like my other fifty books, it is MM, paranormal, and features true mates, or in this case a beloved and a mate. Yes, the enigmatic Max is a vampire and they have beloveds. Lyle is a gorgeously sweet, but proves to have a backbone, cat shifter, so he considers Max his mate. Well, he starts to understand about mates when he realizes his ability to turn into a cat isn’t a curse. Intrigued? Here’s the excerpt I promised you. Excerpt
If this is the Twilight Zone, I never want to leave. Lyle didn’t think anything had ever tasted as good as Mrs. Cooper’s chicken soup. He was tempted to gorge himself until he was sick, having subsisted on scraps from dumpsters for so long. But he remembered how he’d overdone it with ice cream one time when he was six. Throwing up wasn’t fun and when the worst of his hunger had been satisfied, he put down his spoon with a sigh.
“You weren’t exaggerating. That is the best chicken soup I’ve ever tasted.”
“Mrs. Cooper will be pleased.” Max smiled but Lyle noticed it didn’t quite meet his eyes. “Do you think you are ready to talk about this curse idea, now?”
“I think that’s obvious to you what it is, already.” Lyle looked down at his hands. So much bigger than paws. “You saw me. I was a cat, a house cat. That can’t be normal.”
“There are some people who think being a vampire isn’t normal either, but I was born this way.” Max’s grin was wider this time, showing his fangs. “Do you think I’m cursed?”
The urge to arch his head and bare his neck was so strong and so sudden, it took all of Lyle’s willpower not to give into it. The elusive Max could be considered a lot of things, but cursed wasn’t one of them. Handsome. Powerful. Even, Lyle dared to think it, sexy. He shook his head. “You’re just different, I guess. I’ve never met anyone like you before.”
“Hopefully, that’s a good thing. I take it, you’ve never met anyone who can turn into an animal before, either? Because, as I told you before, I have met them – lots of them.
I’ve met men and women who share their spirit with bears, wolves, and big cats like lions, cougars and panthers. I even met a hawk shifter once. They were all born that way and none of them believed they were cursed. They loved the added bonuses they get in their lives from being able to shift at will.”
“My step-daddy said I was marked by the devil himself. He said I wasn’t fit to live among decent god-fearing folks. My momma cried, but she didn’t stop him from ripping the clothes off my back and casting me out on the streets naked in front of God and his congregation. How can that not be a curse?”
______________ Author Interview
Gulp, now comes the hard part – a bit about me. Honestly, I’d much rather talk about my characters, not because there is anything wrong with me as such, but because they lead much more interesting lives than I do. Here is goes.
When did you know you wanted to write, and when did you discover that you were good at it?
I should make one point perfectly clear – I have never considered myself good at writing – but I enjoy it immensely. I love telling stories. But for how long? Let’s see. I’ve been writing for roughly twenty years. When my children were small we lived in rural locations, and there weren’t many opportunities for work. So, I learned to use the internet. I already had a diploma in Journalism and used that to write for blogs, magazines and ghost writing. It wasn’t until 2013 that I decided to take up the NaNoWriMo challenge. My father had recently passed away, my children had left home, my marriage was on the rocks and I needed something. I started dreaming about the love I wish I had in my life, and The Reluctant Wolf was born. I was already halfway through the second book in what is now known as the Cloverleah Pack series by the time the challenge was over. Fifty one books later, and I have never looked back.
What pets are currently on your keyboard, and what are their names? Pictures?
If my puppies sat on my keyboard, they’d break it. Meet Hades and Zeus, two Rotty puppies I added to my family about two months ago. Currently my boys are at the chewing stage and nothing in the house is safe – furniture, cords, shoes. But this picture was taken on their first day with me – they have got a lot bigger now.
What are some day jobs that you have held? If any of them impacted your writing, share an example.
I am an older person, so I have had a multitude of different jobs. My family always hoped I would become a lawyer, although I didn’t share the same passion for it. I started working in an office when I was seventeen as an Accounts Receivable Clerk for the Education Department. That didn’t last long. By eighteen I’d moved to a big city and although I worked in offices during the day, at night I was bartending and running night clubs. I spent a year driving a taxi on the night shift when I was having my children and that was probably my favorite job before I became a writer. Unfortunately, an unhealthy domestic partnership left me with complex PTSD and I now I live alone, I find writing suits my need for privacy and the ability to work from home. Not to mention, I love it.
Thank you, Lisa, and Other Worlds Ink Tours for letting RATR be part of celebrating your new book
Hello readers! Romance Cross the Rainbow is happy to host Tucker McCallahan today, who’s touring the virtual world with her new release, The Boys of Summer.
Lead singer Ash Redvers needs a drummer. When Dustin Davis shows up, ready, willing, and able to play – not to mention gorgeous – Ash thinks it’s going to be the best season yet. But Ash has never had a boyfriend, and Dust isn’t willing to be a quick hook-up. As the summer heats up, they’ll have to decide whether all they can make together is music, or if there’s something more for them after the Boys of Summer are gone.
Hi! My name is Tucker McCallahan, and I’m the author of The Boys of Summer, the first book in the Dust & Ash Saga. I’m so grateful to Lou Sylvre for hosting me today! (From Lou: You’re welcome, Tucker! My pleasure.)
One of the reasons I ended up choosing to self-publish the saga was because it’s a little unconventional. The novels follow an ensemble cast (a rock band – The Boys of Summer) over the course of the summer of 2011, and every single aspect of the sexual spectrum ends up represented: straight, bisexual, pansexual, gay, lesbian, transgender, polyamory, monogamy, monandry… You name it, if it exists, there’s a character repping it in the Dust & Ash Saga.
I feel like that representation is very important. My sole exposure to LGBTQ+ anything while I was growing up was Clive Barker (and yes, I also write erotic gay horror – mostly because of that). I didn’t stumble onto LGBTQ+ fiction until I was in college, and then suddenly it was like the sun came out, the birds sang, and I knew I wasn’t alone. But in reading those early tales, it seemed like the LGBTQ+ world was somehow separate from the reality of my daily life. Like the things those novels encompassed – while being titillating and wonderful – also existed in their own little world, separate from work, school, and most of all, my family.
In The Boys of Summer, I explored the idea that the LGBTQ+ community didn’t have to ever be separate from any other community; that we could all live, work, and love side by side. I wrote it to be realistic, and chose to tackle some of the trope events of LGBTQ+ life: coming out, having a first relationship, and how friendship effects love.
From The Boys of Summer:
Two hours later Jared was pulling his shirt back on when he heard footfalls on the gravel. He turned to see Ash, wide-awake and his usual charming self, striding toward him.
“Hey, man, place looks good.”
“Thanks. You meet the new drummer?”
“Not yet. I saw you guys moving his massive drum kit and beat feet back to bed.”
Jared’s eyebrows shot up into his hairline. He crumpled the empty cigarette pack in his hand and threw it at Ash’s head. He missed by a mile.
Ash grinned at him. “What? No way was I moving all that shit in the hot sun. I needed my beauty sleep.”
“His name is Dustin. He has more bathroom junk than you do.”
Ash stared at Jared for a minute, slightly nonplussed. “Uh, okay.”
“I put him in Arden’s room, but there’s no bed in there except that mattress from—”
“Ugh, that’s nasty.” Ash made a face. “Okay. As soon as he’s done, uh, doing whatever it is he’s in there doing, we’ll go buy a new bed.”
“Cool. He seems like a nice guy. Kinda quiet.”
“He looked like a Marilyn Manson reject, but honestly, as long as he can play the drums, I don’t really care.”
“Well, hopefully I’ll improve your opinion of me over the course of the summer.”
The voice was deep and sultry. Ash instantly thought of Jim Morrison from the Doors growling “Break On Through” or crooning “Love Her Madly.” Ash hoped he wasn’t blushing as he turned around, but when he saw the vision of total fucking hotness on his front porch, he gave up. Ash’s face went as red as a chili pepper.
Dustin was a towhead, that uncanny, natural white-blond that some males were blessed with at birth and never escape with age. Even Dustin’s eyebrows and eyelashes were white, and of course, the very first thing that went through Ash’s filthy mind was that Dustin’s pubic hair would be that same wonderful white-blond too. That thought, and the accompanying mental image, gave Ash a raging hard-on. Fuck.
Aside from the gorgeous color, Dustin’s hair was cut in a skater’s asymmetrical shag, longer on top than it was in the back, and he used some kind of styling gunk to stand it up into an artful pile of spikes. His eyes were toffee brown and positively danced with mischief as he stood on the porch in tight, skinny jeans, an Affliction hoodie, and Chuck Taylor All-Stars.
Yup. Ash was hard as granite.
“Well, goddamn!” Jared said with feeling. “Where’s the little punk I helped with the drums a few hours ago?”
Dustin laughed and jumped off the porch. He landed in a graceful crouch, standing to stretch like a cat, which made his clothing ride up and showed off a sweet little six-pack, complete with a pierced navel.
Oh motherfucking hell. Ash was going to have to go inside and adjust. He contemplated the physical tightness of Dustin’s jeans and cocked his head, trying to decide if the hard-bodied little drummer wore boxers, briefs, or—groan—nothing at all.
“I washed him off. You’re stuck with me.”
Ash stared, filled with simple but intense desire. Everything about Dustin turned Ash on fiercely, right down to the multiple piercings in Dustin’s ears.
Jared laughed and looked sideways at Ash, who was unusually quiet. “Uh, Dustin, this is Ash, our singer. Ash, Dustin.”
Dustin’s gaze devoured Ash from the top down. The singer and leader of the Boys of Summer had skin the color of teak, a tawny dark brown that gleamed in the golden sunshine. Dustin had to put effort into not straight-up ogling the guy, because Ash looked like a hero from some romance cover, complete with long, windswept black hair, fiery dark eyes, and oh-so-kissable lips. “You look like a lead singer. Tall, gorgeous, pretty eyes…. Can you actually sing too?”
Ash’s mouth went bone-dry and his heart pounded like a bongo. Had he heard that right? Did Dustin just call him gorgeous? Ash mumbled something unintelligible.
Jared stared at him. “Ground control to Ash, you okay over there?”
Ash looked at Jared, slightly panicked. He could hardly admit to macking on their new drummer in front of the guy. Plus, there was the whole bit about being told he was gorgeous by somebody he wanted to knock down and fuck senseless on the front porch. What was he supposed to say? Tell Jared he was fine except for the massive erection that was currently preventing any blood from getting to his brain and causing a huge case of stupid? Oh yeah, that would go over great.
Ash managed a vague sort of nod and stuffed his hands in his pockets. He tried to keep his eyes glued to the ground, but it didn’t work. They kept flipping up to gaze at their new drummer. Ash jerked his head toward his SUV. “Guess I’ll drive,” he mumbled.
They were all headed in that direction when Jared’s cell phone rang. Ash’s Sketchers crunching on the gravel didn’t quite mask his growl as he glared at Jared’s retreating back and the phone plastered to his ear.
“Hey, I can sleep on the floor, if getting a bed is a problem.” Dustin’s concern was audible in his voice. “Or if the money’s the issue, a futon would be—”
Ash’s beleaguered brain finally clicked on and he turned his attention back to Dustin. “No. No problem. Sorry, man. I just got done with a killer semester. If I space out, or just kind of stare off or something, smack me. It’s totally posttraumatic stress.”
“If you say so.”
Ash furrowed his brows as he glared at Jared, still talking on his phone. Damn it, Ash needed a wingman here. He hooked his thumbs in his back pockets and cocked his head, pivoting on his heel before dancing from foot to foot as if music played somewhere. Dustin smiled, watching him. Ash’s hair swung around his shoulders as he came to a stop, facing Dustin once again as Jared finally came toward them with an apologetic look on his face.
“Sorry, guys, I gotta bail on the bed trip. I have to go see a… a friend.”
“Dealing during daylight hours?” Ash quipped. “Damn.”
Jared made a face, his voice taking on a very serious tone. “I suggest you tell Dustin that you’re merely attempting to be amusing, because everybody in our band knows that I have no sense of humor whatsoever about being referred to as something so onerous as a purveyor of narcotics.”
Ash abruptly stopped dancing about, straightened up, and nodded. “Right dude, sorry. So… you gotta go?”
“Yeah. That was Tracy.”
“Oh,” Ash said, surprised. “I didn’t know you guys were talking again.”
“On and off.”
“I didn’t know she’d finally gotten a divorce.”
Ash cringed. “Jared, man….”
“Stay out of it, Ash.”
“Yeah, okay. Just… be careful.”
“Have fun buying junior there a bed. Don’t embarrass him too badly.”
Jared jogged off to his ancient Bug, leaving Ash and Dust alone.
As they drove out toward the shopping mall on the edge of the county line, a comfortable silence filled the SUV. They used the time to size each other up, taking the first leg of the journey for some thorough studying. Dustin decided Ash was simply the best-looking man he’d ever laid eyes on. From his long black hair with its natural red highlights, to his rangy hard body that seemed full of childish, happy energy, the lead singer of the Boys of Summer was completely gorgeous. And firmly in his closet, Dustin was sure, which was a problem.
Ash, on the other hand, decided he was getting laid tonight. He was going to take a man home, alone, for the very first time. No girls allowed this time. He didn’t want anything distracting him from the unbelievable bounty that was Dustin the drummer. Ash had Plans (with a capital P) for this boy, and the more he thought about it, the more excited he got. Why the hell hadn’t he ever done something like this before?
“So… thought about what kind of bed you want?” Ash asked.
Dustin cocked his head and frowned. “The kind you sleep on?”
“Smartass. I meant, like, a queen, a king, a firm mattress, a soft mattress? You ever try one of those Tempur-Pedic beds?”
Dustin stared at him with his mouth hanging open. It was kind of cute. Ash wanted to lean over and suck on Dustin’s lower lip, which probably meant he was going to have a car accident if he didn’t stop thinking with his dick and pay attention to the road.
“What are you, like, the Jacques Cousteau of beds?”
“We spend a third of our lives asleep, Dust. It okay if I call you Dust?”
“Sure, I don’t care,” Dustin said, shrugging. Ash beamed at him.
“I happen to like sleeping, so I have a thing for comfortable beds.”
“Okay.” Dustin slowly nodded. “What kind of bed do you have?”
“At the farmhouse?”
“I have a king-sized double pillow-top that I roll a two-inch layer of memory foam over. It’s not ideal, but it does the job for the summer.”
“What’s ideal?” Now Dustin was interested, because thinking about how serious Ash was about his bed was kind of hot.
“The house I live in up in Pittsburgh? I have a California King up there, one of those Sleep Number jobs with separate adjustment areas on each side. It’s on a custom-built spring platform, and it’s fucking amazing. I sleep like a baby every night, even if I’m not wrapped in flesh.”
“Excuse me?” Dustin choked.
“Yeah, uh, I don’t like to sleep alone. It’s kind of a fetish. You’d have found out anyway, living with me. It’s not so much a sex thing as a skin thing. I just sleep better if I’ve got skin on either side of me.”
Dustin stared at him and decided to jump in with both feet and see where he landed. “Well hell, Ash. Why are we wasting money on a bed? Why don’t I just sleep in your room?”
Ash’s heart pounded, and he chose his speech carefully. “Uh, as much as I… appreciate… your offer, you’ll find out pretty quick that our band is really popular. Most of the guys pick up bed-warmers, whether they have sex or not.” At the look on Dustin’s face, Ash’s words spilled out. “I’m not making any assumptions, Dust. What you do is your business. I’m just saying, I don’t doubt you’ll have plenty of offers for—”
But Dustin interrupted him with the one thing Ash totally didn’t expect to hear. At least, not that way.
“I’m gay, Ash. I really don’t think I’m gonna be picking up anybody at a wedding and bringing them home for sex.”
Ash swung the SUV into the furniture outlet and shut the engine off. He pulled the keys from the ignition and turned to look at Dustin, who sat quietly, staring at him, obviously waiting for Ash’s reaction. “Just so you know, I haven’t had any problems picking guys up at weddings for sex. Hell, I ended up with the groom once.” Ash’s face flushed as Dustin’s eyebrows flew up in surprise. “And no, I’m not telling that story. Falling Banks may be a small town, but they aren’t stuck in the dark ages. There are gay couples. There’s even a gay bar.”
“So you expect me to discover the pleasures of hooking up with small-town gay guys?” Dustin’s voice had a hard, sarcastic edge Ash really didn’t like.
“That’s not what I said.” Ash looked decidedly uncomfortable. “I’m just saying, if you’re, uh, out, then you should have your own space.”
Dustin sat back, a contemplative look on his face as he eyed Ash. “I take it, despite your hookups and the fact that you ooze metrosexual all over the place, you’re not out.”
Ash flushed an even deeper shade of scarlet, but decided it was probably better to have this conversation now. He stuck the keys back in the ignition, started the engine, and flipped the air-conditioning on so they’d have both some air—and some cover—then leaned back and turned to his sexy new bandmate.
“No, I’m not. Not down here. Up at school it’s another story, but here at home? No. Jared knows because he lives with me and has seen who I bring home, but since I know he’s a fucking drug dealer, we keep our mouths shut about each other’s business.”
“You mind telling me why? I mean, no offense, but I knew the minute I saw you.”
“I’m not gay.”
“Yeah, okay, dude, whatever.” With a tired sigh, Dustin completely disengaged from the conversation and turned away from Ash to get out of the truck. God, this guy was so far in the closet, he couldn’t even see the door!
Ash reached over and grabbed Dustin’s arm before he could open the door. Strange electricity arced between them, pulling a gasp from Ash and stiffening Dustin’s spine. Reacting on instinct, Ash yanked, and Dust bounced across the seat like he’d been shot from a cannon right into Ash’s lap. Dustin slapped one hand against Ash’s chest to stop the singer from hauling him any closer, and it only made things worse. Unbelievable heat arced up Dustin’s hand into his arm, drawing a hiss from between his clenched teeth. Ash couldn’t think; he hummed with need. He wrapped his fingers around Dustin’s upper arms. Dustin shoved both of his hands into Ash’s chest with a sexy little growl. Their eyes locked, and the wrestling went from a surprised struggle to something downright erotic.
“Thought you said you weren’t gay,” Dustin said, a little breathless.
“Thought you said you weren’t out.” Dustin’s arms trembled and started to weaken. God, Ash smelled good, and he was so pretty….
“I’m not!” Four more inches. Just four more fucking inches, and Ash could devour that mouth.
“You kiss me in the front seat of your truck in broad daylight while they load that sofa, and you will be,” Dustin breathed.
Ash whipped his head around. Four men from the furniture store were loading a large sectional sofa into a 4×4 about twenty yards away. Ash immediately let go of Dustin, but couldn’t help raking his eyes over him again.
Dustin felt the heat of Ash’s gaze and knew he had scant seconds before Ash decided he didn’t care about having an audience. Dust had to stop this now; he just met this guy.
“Look, Ash, I don’t want there to be any problems between us, and I don’t want to cause any problems with the band.” Dustin scooted back over into the passenger seat. He tugged his hoodie down, and only then did Ash realize Dustin’s shirt had ridden up over his abs. Ash bit the inside of cheek to hold back the whimper.
“I’m not usually this—” Ash didn’t know how to say it. “Fuck.” He’d never wanted a guy like he wanted Dustin, but if he said that, it sounded stupid and purely physical—which, well, maybe it was. Damn.
Dustin watched the thoughts flicker across Ash’s face as clearly as if he’d sung them. Dustin had never met a man with a more expressive face. A bolt of lust stronger than anything Dustin had felt in a year struck and left him smoldering. Dustin’s chest seized with actual pain as he recognized the feeling and squashed it flat. He couldn’t afford to take any chances. He was in Falling Banks to play the drums, not find a boyfriend. He took a slow, deep breath to ease the ache in the center of his chest and gazed at Ash.
“Look, I felt it too, okay? There’s definitely some kind of crazy attraction between us, but I’m shambling here. I played an all-nighter last night, and we still need to buy a bed. Then, if you don’t mind, I need to get something to eat—something, you know, real. Not fast food. Energy drinks stop working after you’ve been using them for a few days, so—”
“Dude, when did you sleep last?”
Dustin rubbed his beautiful toffee-colored eyes and offered Ash an exhausted smile. “What day is it?”
“I am so sorry.” Ash turned the SUV back off and pocketed his keys. “Let’s pick out a bed. I gotta drop your contract and tax forms off at my parents’ house, but we can grab food after that. I promise not to make a run on your virtue until you can appreciate it.” Ash’s wink was downright lewd.
Dustin took a deep breath and climbed out of the SUV. He followed the tall, sexy singer into the large furniture depot and tried to focus on the rectangles made for sleeping.
I hope you enjoyed the excerpt. The Boys of Summer is the first book in the Dust & Ash Saga and is available now on Amazon and Smashwords. The second book is scheduled to come out in the spring; there are six books in all.
To celebrate the first release in the saga, I’m sponsoring a giveaway! There are three ways to enter: like my author page on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, or – if you’re already following me on FB and Twitter – leave me a comment about your favorite music to listen to at a wedding reception. I’ll be giving away three gift cards, and the winners will get to choose what they’d like to receive! Winners will be announced on my blog on September 30th.
Once again, I’d like to thank Lou for hosting me and the Boys today. Enjoy the end of summer! Thanks for being here, Tucker. Be sure to visit again!
About the author
Tucker McCallahan has been lots of places, seen lots of things, and is still learning new stuff on the regular. Multi-published, bisexual, polyamorous, and slave to a big black cat named Emperor Inka, Tucker is a long-time member of the LGBT community and a proud educator/activist.
There’s a new queer romance anthology out that benefits RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) – Summer Fair.
Summer festivals bring the aroma of popcorn, the excitement of rides, and the promise of real-life enchantment. Seven authors bring you original love stories, each set at a different summer celebration. You’ll experience the thrill of the Chicago World’s fair through the eyes of a plucky girl reporter and the quiet desperation of a teen working a summer job at a traveling carnival. Get whisked away on romantic journeys around the world from a sweet Texas Dewberry Festival to a lantern-filled temple celebration to a surprisingly rowdy New England Founders Day. Whether it’s the magic of a Renaissance Fair, the excitement of a Theater Retreat, or the pulse of a Music Festival, you’re sure to get geared up for all things summer with this delightful new collection.
Note: Most stories are fantasy, but this anthology also includes historical, paranormal and contemporary works.
She decided to do something bold. “Come up in the wheel with me.”
“I’ve been up in the wheel,” but Cathleen didn’t say no. “You don’t have to buy me a ticket.”
“But I want to,” Anna said. “I want to go up there with you. The line is long. It may be the last thing I get to do today, and though I’m terrified I can’t pass up the chance to do something that is once-in-a-lifetime.”
“No, I imagine you can’t.” Wiping her face, Cathleen finished her hot dog. Anna did the same, and they returned their glasses to the Pabst booth and then got into the long line for the wheel. Children bounced in line, excited to go up but bored with waiting. Men smoked and sent the wafts of smoke across all the people in line, and more than one person looked nervous about going into the sky in the steel contraption.
Anna and Cathleen bought tickets and, by virtue of space, were shoved together as they shuffled slowly to the front.
“Mercy, but it’s high.” Anna felt as if she might be sick.
“You don’t have to do it, you know.”
“But I’ve already bought a ticket.”
“Someone’d pay you for it.”
“But I’ve come all this way and I’m here standing underneath it. Besides, what’ll I do if I don’t—go look at the Fisheries?”
She felt a warm hand take hers and nearly fainted. Cathleen had taken her hand. “Don’t be afraid. It’s fun. It really is.”
“And if it collapses and we die, at least we’ll die together.”
Anna groaned but did not take her hand away. Hand in hand, they reached the front of the line and waited with a group of thirty others for the next car to come down and to board. Cathleen pulled them to a windowed corner where they could both press against the glass.
Still, they held hands.
And when the car started to move, Anna squeezed hard from nerves without thinking. Cathleen ducked her head in and put her lips to Anna’s. It was brief, just a momentary touch, but then she whispered into Anna’s ear. “Don’t be afraid.”
Anna wasn’t. Cathleen’s lips against hers had taken away all the fear she had felt about the Ferris Wheel, and then some. With Cathleen beside her, their fingers entwined, she rode the car that rose into the air and beheld the entire fair in all directions before her. She saw the Coliseum of the Wild West show, and the balloon in the sky, and all the trains, and all the people, and all the way back to the basin where she’d first entered the fair off the Lake. The sun was just beginning to go down in the sky. Soon, it would be evening, and Anna would need to get on her way—but with the incredible views and the hand of the lovely girl in hers, and Anna’s heart swelled about to bursting. She could have wept at it all, at this perfect day.
The car started to descend.
“We get one more loop,” Cathleen said.
“I wish it was a hundred,” Anna replied, turning to her friend. “I wish we could stay here forever.” It was an honest confession.
Cathleen smiled, but sadly. With the displays below, Anna felt as if she could see all the world ahead of her. And all the world seemed so small and unimportant.
About the Authors
The brain child of Chicago romance author Marie Piper, the StoryPenners is a collection of fiction and romance authors dedicated to producing independent anthologies to support charitable causes. The StoryPenners has members from the Midwest, the West Coast, New England, Canada, England, and Australia.
Original Members: Marie Piper, Harley Easton, CM Peters, S.B. Roark, and Sienna Saint-Cyr
Contributing StoryPenners: Randi Perrin, Annabeth Leong, Gregory L. Norris, R.L. Merrill, Katey Tattrie, R. Diamond, Arden de Winter
When I was younger, I’d kind of ‘shut off’ emotionally. Not much affected me by my teen years. I was depressed, into cutting myself (mostly because I wanted to feel something and that was something I could feel), and I ended up working for the local fair. While the fair was run by local folks mostly, the rides were brought in by another party. The folks that ran the rides referred to themselves as Carnies.
Many aspects of my story are real and likely have that feel for that reason. I’ve changed names and scenarios, but there really was a very sweet man running the Tilt-O-Whirl and my friend and I did indeed ask him to ride it with us. We were the first to ever ask him and it really did bring him to tears. I’ve wondered how he’s doing over the years but each year brought a new carnival and different crew, so I never found out. I was sad when I realized he was never coming back.
It’s true that the rules are different when you work for a carnival. I was only fifteen and constantly being hit on by older men. They’d slam cups onto the counter and say, “Do me,” and most of them were complete jerks. And worse, tolerated jerks. But not all were like that. The man that ran the Tilt-O-Whirl was good to me. He watched out for me (and my friend). I didn’t have visible cutting scars then because I mostly kept that to areas people wouldn’t see, but I suspect he saw pain in me, just as I have my characters experience in the story. I saw his pain to.
That’s why I wrote this story the way I did. He’d once told me that no woman could ever love him. I wanted to give him a better story than that. This stranger that I only knew as Carnie Nine was my inspiration for this story. I hope he’s still around, that he’s found someone to love him, and that he one day reads this story and remembers the teen girls that asked him to ride the Tilt-O-Whirl with him.
Sienna Saint-Cyr’s erotic fiction has appeared in the Love Slave books and Sexual Expression series; contemporary erotica in Silence is Golden and Goodbye Moderation: Lust, and romance in Melt, Haunt, and Summer Fair. She also writes nonfiction and flash fiction for several websites. Sienna owns and edits for SinCyr Publishing, an erotica company with a focus
on shifting rape culture one sexy story at a time. She also runs a nonprofit writing workshop and writes dark SF and literary fiction under her legal name.
Along with writing, Sienna speaks at conventions, workshops, and for private gatherings on such sex-positive topics as a healthy body image, using sexuality to promote healing, enthusiastic consent, LGBTQIA, CPTSD, and navigating diverse or non-traditional relationships.
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.
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?”
“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?”
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.
As promised, Kaje Harper visits the blog today! Read on for an interview both fun and thoughtful, and comment below for a chance to win an ebook of your choice from Kaje’s backlist—an opportunity you won’t want to pass up!Click for a post about Kaje’s book, The Family We Make.
Hello Kaje, and welcome to Romance Across the Rainbow on sylvre.com. I’m very pleased to feature you and your work as part of my 2018 series on community. It’s a tough road, these days, being involved in the community of rainbow-friendly “book people.” We’ve seen hard-won human rights erode, and it seems like books with LGBTQIAND (very long acronym, so from now forward I’ll just say “Q,”) characters and content are getting flagged and picked on by everyone from readers on Goodreads to major booksellers. It’s easy to get discouraged, and without support from one another some of us might easily unravel. For this series I’m looking for people who exemplify support among us, those who go out of their way to uphold us in our interwoven Q book community—the warp threads, if you will. I’ve seen you in that role, and I’ll want to talk some about that, but I visited your website and checked out your bio, and I’d like to start with a few questions about you as an author and a human (not necessarily in that order).
Kaje says: Thanks so much for inviting me to be on this bog. (And wow, for including me among the warp threads.)
Q: From these pairs, choose which make your happier: (Note Kaje’s choices are in bold type.
All of them?
Sunshine or Old trees Wildflowers or Crystals
Sexy humans or Wild horses Laughter or Sleep
Cat noses or Dog tails Long books or Walks in the woods
Q: You’ve been writing a long time, but your first publication of a M/M story was 2011. Before being published, what were you writing? What was the theme of the first mature story you remember writing, and why did you choose that theme?
A: I wrote my first M/M novel in 1974, when I was 14. I’d read The Persian Boy by Mary Renault and was deeply affected by the love and loss, and the intrinsic unfairness of the way a gay love story was considered less valid and viable than a straight one. Although my family was quietly committed to equality and social justice, I wasn’t at that time aware of LGBTQ family members, or the specific issues they faced.
After the Renault story, I began reading both non-fiction and fiction with LGBTQ people in them (of which there was not much that didn’t end sadly.) I’d been writing novellas as a young teen, but I was driven to give two gay men a love story that had a deservedly sweet, secure, and happy ending. I wrote (but didn’t try to publish) all sorts of stories in many genres over the subsequent years, most with gay main characters.
Q: Are there authors within the community of Q writers who significantly influenced your own writing? Particular books? If so, who and why?
A: Besides The Persian Boy, I was inspired by Patricia Nell Warren’s The Front Runner. I read both books when I was a teenager. Both shone with their portrayal of love between two men that was human and deep and undeniable, set against a society that devalued, demeaned, denied, and destroyed it.
I read very little genre M/M for the first few decades I was writing it (and no slash fanfic, although I wrote some in those pre-Internet days.) I read other books with gay and bi characters (like Diane Duane’s The Door Into Fire or Tany Huff’s The Fire’s Stone, or Michael Nava’s Henry Rios mysteries.) Then when my husband began pushing me to publish, I had just read and loved James Buchanan’s M/M mystery Hard Fall. The characters and story felt like the kind of thing I was trying to write, and my first submission was to James’s publisher, MLR press.
Q: Ever since I started sylvre.com, I’ve asked every featured author this question. What are the hottest 50 words you’ve ever written. Feel free to fudge on the word count, and to define “hottest” according to your own lights.
A: Wow. Sex scenes are not my forte. I mainly want the heat to convey important things about the characters or story. Maybe this one, from Learning Curve, the 4th book in the “Life Lessons” series. (And I’m fudging a lot on the word count)
“Yeah, oh yeah!” Mac shook so hard he almost threw Tony off him, coming in hot, slick spurts over Tony’s hand. Tony fucked him through it, not slowing, until Mac’s gasps became whimpers. Then he moved his hands back to Mac’s hips, straightened to watch the force of his paler body driving against Mac’s big, dark frame in that mirror. And came, in uncontrolled, shaking pulses, deep inside Mac’s ass.
Afterward, they stood there, trembling, as the color ebbed from their foreheads and necks, and muscles twitched and relaxed. Mac’s back was sweaty and warm under Tony. Tony slipped free and Mac grunted, bringing his legs together stiffly. Tony planted a hand on his spine to keep him bent over, though.
“Look in that mirror,” he whispered. “There. That stunning, big, dark man, and that smaller guy. That’s you and that’s me. And that’s fucking hot and gorgeous and just about perfect. That’s as gay as an Easter parade, and still completely about two real men. Your family can throw insults, and they can shun us, but they can’t make that less than fucking perfect.”
He waited, his gaze boring into Mac’s in the mirror, until Mac nodded. Tony took his hand away.
Mac turned and hugged him, leaning over to bury his face in Tony’s neck. “You, um, undo me. Every time.”
Q: You live in Minnesota and you love it, I see. Are the people in your life—family and community—aware that you write rainbow-friendly books? If so, do you find people to be accepting and supportive? Is Minnesota in general a forward-looking state in terms of human rights and protections?
A: Minnesota’s a good state for LGBTQ rights and human rights, in the Midwest. We were the first state to reject a one-man-one-woman amendment by popular vote. Obviously it’s far from uniform across the state. We have a relatively liberal urban population, and more conservative outstate one. Some of our schools have significant issues with homophobia, but there is more access to LGBTQ support and resources here than in many states. Our Medicaid and ACA plans must cover trans health procedures, including surgery, which many states don’t.
Most people in my life know what I write, including my husband, kids, brothers, friends, employer, and coworkers, parents of kids’ friends, and random folk like bank tellers if they asked when I deposited my Amazon checks. If they don’t, it’s because the topic hasn’t come up. Part of my supporting the community is being out and visible about it, from the bumper stickers on my car to discussing the books I write.
But I’m also relatively safe in doing so. My family is liberal. I’m white, het, married, and middle class. If it had cost me my job, I have the skills to find another. I have occasionally had someone preach at me over my bumper stickers (and once threaten me, after Trump won the election), and I’ve disconcerted the occasional friend or acquaintance, but not more than that. I’d never pass judgment on someone who’s not in the same position, and chooses to keep it quiet. I’m lucky, and I know it.
Q: You have written a few YA books and are a moderator in the Goodreads YA LGBT books group. How did that role come about? Why did you decide that group was an important place to spend your time and effort? How important is it that we support and promote Q YA books, those (especially the youth) who read them, and the authors who write them? Is there anything you believe people can do to get these books into the hands of young people, and do you think it’s important to target only Q youth as potential readers, or should that target readership be broadened to include all young readers? Please explain your answer.
A: The group began as an M/M YA offshoot of the M/M Romance group, when an underage gay boy really wanted to join that one and couldn’t. The M/M mods ran it first, and I joined – I’ve always read YA. At a time when they were very short of help, I volunteered to co-moderate. Real-life demands for the others made me the most active moderator for the last few years (although Sammy does what she can, given family and health crises she’s had. May she finally have a good year to come!) We now have 7100 members.
I think YA LGBTQ books are vitally important. They give those teens and the people around them, including their peers, real, positive, and varied depictions of the lives of young people who identify as gender and sexual minorities. For many of our older members (and we have all ages from 13 to “older than dirt” as one guy said) books were their first view into a world where people like them were normal and accepted and could expect full lives. Many cite Mercedes Lackey’s Magic’s Pawn as the first time they saw a gay boy as a hero, and gay love shown as something good.
Even today, despite online images, and real life role models, books have an important place Some teens still tell us that reading a YA story was their first chance to see people like them celebrated (especially our small-town and international teens.) Some found their identity and words for the feelings they were confused by in the pages of a book, (particularly some of our gender-questioning teens.)
Another factor is that, while there are now quite a few out celebrities, and porn of all kinds is easy to find, neither of those address important issues of day to day life of an LGBTQ teen. Things like dating, coming out, relationships, the role of sex, family issues, school issues – all of those may be found more easily and relatably in fiction.
Sex ed in schools often does not cover non-hetro relationships. Porn says nothing about real sex beyond (often idealized) mechanics, and yet sadly, that’s the model for some of our teens on relationships. Group members say they turned to fiction for the parts beyond “insert tab A in slot B.” While YA should not have erotic sex on page, it can and does cover a lot of the important parts of emotions, joys, and consequences of LGBTQ relationships, including sex.
I think it’s important that straight, cisgender people have access to those stories too. I love the rising popularity of books like Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda and its movie, Love, Simon, and fantasies like Carry On, or The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue. Those stories make readers more open to the rainbow of people around them. We’re seeing trans prom queens and kings, and out gay teen couples, and I think that real teens are benefiting from open representation everywhere, including books.
Getting more books into teen hands is a goal with many approaches. Reviewing, discussing, buying, and voting for these books helps. Last year in the open “Goodreads Choice” awards with millions of members, there were more than 15 YA nominees with either primary or secondary LGBTQ characters. Requesting them at libraries helps. My group has done book drives for teen libraries of several sorts, including school Gay-Straight Alliances. We also have free short stories posted monthly, and link free books, sales, and discounts.
I think we still need more diverse stories. We’re particularly short of stories that feature POC main characters. Minority teens are among those most short of role models and accurate pictures of lives like theirs. We also could use more stories of bisexual, transgender, non-binary, and asexual teens. Looking for and supporting own-voices authors is important.
But I’m heartened by the progress being made, including more stories for middle schoolers and even kids, and the ways they can bring change. One Wisconsin school class was planning to read “I Am Jazz” about a trans girl, and bigots forced them to cancel. Following the cancellation, organizers arranged a reading of the book at a library nearby. The lead organizer, said she was hoping for about 15 people to show up. The reading instead drew almost 600 from the local community in support. Books can make a difference.
Q: In your online presence, you often choose to speak up for accuracy when a misleading story (or “fake news”) is posted, even when (or perhaps especially when?) the stories would, if they were true, support the “left,” which is where we expect Q support to be strongest. Tell us, if you will, about why you do that.
A: We’ve all seen photoshops (like Emma Gonzales ripping the constitution,) and audio pasted on video (like Bernie Sanders entering to a homophobic song.) These techniques are getting more sophisticated all the time. It’s incumbent on us, if we want our kids to survive the next century, to do our very best to find facts, support fact-checking organizations, and to take down lies even if they appeal to us. It’s been shown that Russia, among others, has been working to divide opinion by formulating lies to appeal to both sides. Opinion manipulation is a fast-growing science and social media right now is our training ground, learning to fact-check and double-check and not let ourselves be suckered in.
I check progressive stories and memes more, because I know my own confirmation biases. I want those to be true, and with my friend base, I see far more of them. But I also fact-check my small number of conservative online friends. They are well-meaning people too, and it’s scary to realize how easy it is to convince people of lies, given enough authority behind the story, or enough appeal to how it’s written.
We must not condone or make important decisions based on lies. These days, with the line between satire and news razor thin, and so many news sources, it can be hard to tell. I’ve pulled down a few stories that I shared myself, that I later checked further and debunked, or found were shaded beyond truth.
I’m sure I sometimes come off as officious, fact checking others – people say “it could be true, what’s the harm, it’s typical anyway.” Some are grateful, but some are annoyed. But as a scientist, I think checking the facts and ethics of the views I support is part of being a responsible, ethical adult.
Q: What do you have coming up for readers?
A: I just rereleased a fantasy novella – Gift of the Goddess – about a man who’s determined to rescue his kidnapped lover, and as a last resort, petitions the Goddess on his lover’s behalf. He’s not expecting an answer, particularly the one he gets.
I’m editing an indie novel about a gay man with seven cats and Crohn’s Disease, and a bisexual veterinarian. I’m also in edits with Dreamspinner Press on a novella in their “States of Love” series about two small-town young men in the city, one a college student, the other a failed dairy farmer. And I’m really hoping to get the third Tracefinder book back on track soon.
(Kaje Harper May 2018)
Thank you Kaje, for visiting Romance Across the Rainbow, for your insightful answers, and for a pleasant chance to get to know you. I hope you’ll visit again! And readers, thank you for being here as always and don’t forget to comment below for a chance to win an e-book of your choice from Kaje’s backlist.
If you entered the contest in my last post, you may be interested in a couple more chances to enter. Visit my post at Love Bytes reviews, and while you’re there, you can read a sexy excerpt from A Shot of J&B and take a look at a sexy guy enjoying his night. Here’s the link: http://goo.gl/X9do4k. 🙂
Another year has gone by, and equal marriage rights have been popping up all over the USA.
The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia is a yearly event on May 17th, and the Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia is one way some of us bloggers participate. (Click that link for a list of all participating blogs!) Since last May, the US Supreme Court has made a landmark decision, believe it or not, helping to prevent California state law from undermining marriage rights for people who love another of their own gender. And several states have found their conscience and passed laws equalizing marriage rights. And some state courts have overturned bans. Even the IRS has joined in to treat people in same-sex marriages equally with their heterosexual counterparts. The list of accomplishments goes on—there’s a lot to celebrate. In that spirit
I’m giving away $15.00 in money for (what else) books from Dreamspinner Press.
All you have to do to enter is comment below, naming the one event since May 2013, personal or public, that most spurred your hope for equality. You don’t have to use a lot of words, a few will do and they don’t have to be fancy. I just want to cheer when I read your comment. 🙂
But I’m no believer in blind optimism. I think there are many good reasons to hope and envision a day when who a person loves is not hung from the town hall for public judgment. We’re not there yet, though. I recently was asked why I write homophobic events into my stories. Well, my characters are gay. I’m bisexual. Homophobic stuff happens. Hate crimes happen. Bullying and abuse of LGBTQ spectrum teens continues to happen, be tolerated by some who should know better, and to cause despair to the point of suicide. And as for marriage equality, here is a map of the US. After you’ve looked at the map,
consider this: Only the solid dark blue states have fully legalized same-sex marriage. I count sixteen.
Honey, we have a long way to go, just for the legal stuff! Changing minds and hearts, stopping homophobia and transphobia, is another layer—a thicker, crustier, more corrosive one, and it moves glacially slow. I remind myself of this so that I
Every year, chocolatiers and florists make an unholy mint on February 14th, Valentine’s day. Couples are making their first declarations of love (or lust as the case maybe), others proposing marriage, and others smiling, crying, or quaking through their wedding vows. Thank all the powers that be, in some states, some of those couples who are getting married are gay.
But what makes February 14th the romantic pinnacle of the year? The day is named after a Christian (Catholic) Saint who allegedly was martyred on that day. Yes, martyred, as in put to death whilst taking a stand for a cause, which doesn’t seem very romantic, in the sense of love and happily ever after. Of course, as soon as someone says that, someone’s conscience will lead them to proclaim that, like just about every other “Christian” holiday, the celebration had pagan origins—and they’re right.
In fact, ancient Romans celebrated Lupercalia on February 13th – 15th,, commemorating (who else?) Romulus and Remus, the twin hotties who, after being suckled by a wolf in a cave called the Lupercal, grew up to found Rome. “Ah,” you say, glancing back at my title. “There is the wolf connection, right there.” Well, yes, but the connection is multi-faceted and a lot more convoluted. You see, the festival was connected with the Roman God Lupercus, represented by a wolf, who strangely enough was the God of shepherds. Yes, Roman shepherds worshipped the wolf—and I’m sure they had their reasons. During the festival a goat (standing in for a sheep?) and a dog (standing in for a wolf?) were sacrificed, and salt cakes prepared by vestal virgins were burnt. Okay, vestal virgins/romance, a vague connection, but a step further reveals that Lupercus was sometimes identified with Faunus, the Roman version of Pan.
Okay, Pan. Not so much romance, but hot sex with glorious abandon. That’s possibly a connection. And in fact, before the Roman holiday, a Greek festival on the ides (13th) of February celebrated Lykaia (the wolf-god) and Pan (the pleasure and chaos god, or at least that’s how I like to think of the little devil).
But we’re still a far cry from the public vow of love (or at least commitment) which we know as marriage, and especially (see title of post), equality of marriage rights. For that, we must return to the story of the martyr, Valentine. There are many stories about the man, but it is agreed he was a real fellow and did indeed get martyred on February 14th by the Roman emperor Claudius II in the 3rd century of the common era (AD). One story about why he was martyred… wait for it… wait for it… he was performing marriages for Christians! Apparently, Christians in 3rd century Rome did not enjoy marriage equality, and our dear Saint Valentine defied the powers that were, either just because he wanted to, or because he believed love is love, marriage is marriage. (Or else he didn’t do it at all, as no one knows for sure.)
To further muddy the waters, there are a dozen or so Saints Valentine. That’s unimportant, as the February 14th date is definitely connected with the forward thinker I mentioned above, identified for disambiguation as Valentine of Rome. But it does tickle the imagination—what if we celebrated a smexy holiday for each of them?
As a last little tidbit of information, in medieval times, Valentine’s Day may already have been a celebration of love, courtly and/or marital. Chaucer took note that on February 14th, birds find their mates. Also humans, for he wrote:
For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s day when every foul (fool) cometh ther (sic) to choose his mate.
So, go forth and give chocolates, send bouquets, kiss, make love, and marry the person of your dreams no matter the gender and (possibly thanks to Saint Valentine) even if you’re Christian.
So yeah, comment below, tell me something lovely about Valentine’s day, or the reason you loathe it, if that’s the case, and you’ll be in the drawing for $14 spending cash at Dreamspinner–and they just happen to be having a sale!
Vasquez Inc #4—A Shot at Perfect (Click to preorder)
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Vasquez and James Vol. 1—Click the cover to buy!
Vasquez and James Vol. 2—Click the cover to buy!
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