Leesa Love’s Best Podcasts for Writers and Readers

August 31, 2016

Dreamspinner’s staff member, Leesa Love, shares her favorite podcasts for writers and readers.

 

With rapidly developing technology and the growing popularity of audiobooks, the podcast scene is on the rise again. Combining the nostalgia for radio shows with the portability of apps, shows of all genres and topics are popping up, including several on the subjects of writing, publishing, fiction, and books in general. This list compiles some of the most helpful and entertaining shows for both writers and readers of all kinds.

Shows can be downloaded or streamed in a variety of locations, including iTunes, Google Play, individual websites, and several Android apps including Podbean and Podbay.

 

The Creative Penn

The Creative Penn

Hosted by successful author of both fiction and writing handbooks Joanna Penn, this show gives listeners access to the best tips on every aspect of writing, publishing, and marketing as well as fun interviews with writers of various backgrounds and styles.

Episode 282, “How To Write And Market Romance With J.A.Huss” may be especially intriguing for Dreamspinner Press authors and readers; Huss tells of her experiences as a scientist and textbook writer turned romantic author, with her own twist.  http://www.thecreativepenn.com/

 

Helping Writers Become Authors**  

Another in-depth writing podcast, host and author K.M. Weiland begins each fifteen minute episode sharing her progress with her own novel writing. She then discusses an aspect of novel writing from pacing to finding the right critique partner, providing helpful tips and walking aspiring authors through the process to success. Her website provides further tips and access to her writing handbooks. https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/

 

Grammar Girl

Grammar Girl Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing

For authors who occasionally struggle with grammar or are simply fascinated by the technical aspects of writing, Grammar Girl is a helpful podcast. These short episodes hosted by Grammar Girl herself, Mignon Fogarty, will take you through some of the trickiest grammar rules such as affect versus effect (episode 524) and even expand your vocabulary with words like “brouhaha” (episode 514). http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/grammar-girl

 

Dissecting Dragons

Dissecting Dragons

Authors and fans of speculative fiction will find an enthralling show in Dissecting Dragons with authors J.A. Ironside and M.E. Vaughan, as they discuss both classic and modern books and films. Each episode explores a specific topic within the speculative genre, from the re-emergence of the fairy tale in modern adaptations to political themes within dystopian stories. http://dissectingdragons.tumblr.com/

 

Lore

Lore

Scary stories meet real life in this spooky historical podcast. Host and supernatural thriller author Aaron Mahnke explores dark tales from history that fuel fears and folklore in a campfire ghost story style. Using stories Mahnke uncovered while researching for his novels, each podcast presents true stories of phenomena, often simultaneously revealing the darkest sides of human nature. http://www.lorepodcast.com/

 

Welcome to Night Vale

Welcome to Night Vale

The first of three fantastical podcasts from Night Vale Presents, Welcome to Night Vale is a community radio show for the fictitious desert town of Night Vale, hosted by the fabulous Cecil Palmer, whose voice is just soothing enough to distract listeners from the strange goings-on and even stranger citizens in town, including sentient glow clouds with positions on the school board, to the faceless old woman secretly living in your home and running for mayor. Between important town updates, listeners also get a glimpse into the growing romance between the host and a certain handsome scientist determined to uncover the secrets of Night Vale.

If you enjoy WTNV, check out the newer shows produced by Night Vale Presents, including Alice Isn’t Dead and Within the Wires. http://www.welcometonightvale.com/

 

Goosebumps

Goosebumps: Welcome to Deadcast

Welcome to Deadcast is hosted by the Terror Twins Daniel and Matthew Scott Montgomery, actors and lifelong fans of R.L. Stine’s classic spooky Goosebumps series. This podcast is filled with nostalgia and laughs as the twins reread and review the series, comparing each novel with its TV show counterpart and sharing their juicy Goosebumps adventures. http://welcometodeadcast.podbean.com/

 

Singing Bones

Singing Bones

The Singing Bones podcast reveals the “bare bones” of our favorite fairy tales, whose origins are often much darker than we realize. In each episode, author and performer Clare Testoni explores a different fairy tale and compares all of its variations around the world, including details about the figures recording the tales as well. Many of the complete stories can be found the podcast’s website http://singingbonespodcast.com/.

15 Ideas for Beating Writer’s Block with Leesa Love

August 2, 2016

Dreamspinner’s staff member, Leesa Love, shares her tips on beating writer’s block.

KEEP CALM AND WRITE SOMETHING

Writer’s Block is no stranger to most dedicated writers. It staunches the creative flow, leaving the most seasoned authored wondering what to write next. There are about as many methods for battling writer’s block as there are remedies for the common cold, so decide which works best for you! Here are some of our favorites.

Set a daily goal.This idea is practiced by many successful authors, including Stephen King and Nicholas Sparks. Whether it’s 500 words or five pages, encourage yourself to write everyday so that it becomes a reliable part of your routine rather than an activity to make time for.

Write badly and freely. A significant portion of writer’s block is caused by fear of bad writing. Give yourself permission to freewrite without the pressure of perfection. Set a timer and write whatever comes to mind; don’t interrupt your thoughts to edit until the end.

Transform a fairy tale...

Transform a fairytale. Another way to take the pressure off of your creativity is retelling a well-known story with your own voice. Having the structure of a story such as a traditional fairytale already in place gives you room to flex your imagination and experiment with your writing. 10 Creative Ways to Beat Writer’s Block Fast

Change your atmosphere. Your surroundings affect the flow of creativity more than you would think. While setting a daily routine may help, if you find yourself stuck at a desk behind a blank computer screen, consider switching things up. Write with a notebook and pen, write at a different time of day or in a different room. Consider heading out to a park or coffee shop for real-life inspiration.

Change Your Atmosphere

Set the mood. Are you writing a sexually charged scene? Light some candles and play soft background music to help set a romantic tone. If you’re writing a more light-hearted scene, sit in the sunshine and play something more upbeat for the right vibe.

Listen to playlists for writer’s block. Similar to study playlists, writer’s block playlists can keep you focused on your writing as well as inspire you by further setting the mood for your story. Find playlists HERE.

Give your characters a new problem. In his book Writer’s On Writing, Stephen King suggests that writer’s block stems from an insignificant problem, or lack of a problem altogether. Raising the stakes for your characters through introducing a new, radical problem can force the story in a new direction and bring out new aspects of the characters themselves.

Take your character out of the story. Make them wash the dishes! Sometimes you can be so caught up in the story, it becomes difficult to separate your character’s motivations from your own. Putting your character in a simpler situation can allow you to flex their personality and create a more solid characterization.

Research and plan. Allow your own story to re-inspire you by researching the elements that brought the story together. Find out more about the town your character is from, or imagine the character’s childhood in the world you’ve created. Whether it’s for worldbuilding or character background, fleshing out a new detail can be the key to the next scene in your story.

Revisit. Recall those moments when you were truly inspired. Read that poem that spoke to you, watch a movie that made you itch to write, or read the first chapter of your favorite book. Remind yourself why you write, and why you chose to be a writer.

Collaborate. Find author forums online or call up a friend to brainstorm ideas. Allow them to offer new perspectives for the scene you’re stuck on, or to inspire you with their own projects and ideas. 6 Coolest Ways to Write a Story

Do mindless tasks. Rather than force creativity to happen, sometimes you need to give your brain a break. Turn down the internal noise and let your mind wander as you take a shower, vacuum, or complete other simple chores. 18 Ways to Cure Writer’s Block

Take on a different creative project. Paint a picture, try a new recipe, or put together a model. Like mindless tasks, small artsy projects give your brain a break from hard thinking, but still encourage your imagination, making creative thoughts flow more effortlessly.

 

Exercise.

Exercise. If getting your creative juices pumping isn’t enough to fight off writer’s block, try getting your blood pumping! Moving your body can clear your thoughts and also keep you healthy. Check out our post on writer’s health for more tips!

Brian Moreland’s Glass-of-Water Technique. This author’s technique for beating writer’s block within 72 hours is all about intention. Before bed, Moreland thinks his intentions for the next day’s writing session into a full glass of water, such as tapping into his creative energy or finding his best writing form. He then drinks half of the glass, and goes to bed. Upon waking, Moreland drinks the rest of the water and immediately gives himself an hour to write uninterrupted. Completed up to three nights in a row, Moreland claims great success at overcoming his writer’s block. 7 Ways to Overcome Writer’s Block

The Dream Team with Lex Chase

March 19, 2016

Checkmate: The Dream Team by Lex Chase

Hello, Internet! Lex Chase here with my final #dreamer column, where we look back on the Dream Team. Who are these guys? These are my boys that started my whole magical Dreamspinner Press journey, Memphis Rook and Hogarth Dawson of Checkmate.

Checkmate began with a little novella called Pawn Takes Rook released with DSP on March 13, 2013! It’s the story of disgraced superhero Memphis Rook and his rise back to redemption alongside his sidekick/boyfriend Hogarth Dawson. Told from Garth’s POV, it’s the dark and angsty tale of Batman from the POV of a hyperactive chipmunk. There’s action, adventure, explosions, snark, and oodles of pop-culture references. We’re talking hundreds of them.

In another life, I was once a comic artist. And Checkmate was my love letter to the comics I grew up with. Campy, fun, cheesy, and a little (okay a lot) tear-jerky. Over the span of three novellas, Pawn Takes Rook, Cashing the Reality Check, and Conventional Love, the story had taken Rook and Garth on as much of a journey to find their way as heroes, but to find themselves.

The series ended on New Years Day 2014, and what a way to ring in the New Year. But it was a year later, our very own Lynn West approached me about collecting the series in an anthology for the fledgling DSP Publications and with an all new fourth novella and bonus material. Thus… Checkmate Ever After came into the world December 15, 2015 with DSP Publications.

And check out this amazing new cover by Anne Cain!

Checkmate Ever After by Lex Chase

Gorgeous, right? Anne’s got immense talent. Immense. And she and I talked comics, and rattled on about anime we loved, and the battle between Marvel and DC. We clicked. And in a way, she as well as with many kicks to the head from my friends, inspired me to dust off my own 12 year old Wacom Tablet and give it a go again and see if yes, this dog can still hunt.

I didn’t expect my tablet to work at all with Windows 10. And surprise. It actually works better after 12 years. At GRL 2014, I created Checkmate trading cards to hand out. Twenty cards in all with four “special” full color cards, they were fun and fueled by many hours of Investigation Discovery shows. I’ve seen so many episodes of Wives with Knives. So many. Just how many ways can a woman kill her partner? Many. Many ways.

So, I leave this final dreamer column with glimpses of what I used to do for a living, and what I’m starting to get back into. Please enjoy. :D

Garth by Lex Chase

Rook by Lex Chase

Garth by Lex Chase

Rook by Lex Chase

Like what you see? You can see the rest over here!

Now time for one last giveaway! And it’s a good one. A really good one.

First, tell me if it were up to you to save the world, who would be your sidekick? Nothing is too outlandish! Can be someone real, or a character you love. Dean? Sam? Castiel? Daryl Dixon? Captain Mal? All of the above? No matter what! Sky’s the limit!

Second, what are you saving the world from? Give me something. Anything. The more bizarre the better. And “I don’t know!” isn’t an answer. Gimme something!

What are you playing for?

One lucky US winner will walk away with a signed copy of the Checkmate Ever After paperback and one lucky international winner will score themselves the eBook!

Comments open until April 1st!

Until then, stay sharp, hero! The night is young!


madison_parker_MG_4269-WEB

Photo courtesy of Madison Parker Photography.

Lex Chase once heard Stephen King say in a commercial, “We’re all going to die, I’m just trying to make it a little more interesting.” Now, she’s on a mission to make the world a hell of a lot more interesting.

Weaving tales of cinematic, sweeping adventure—and depending on how she feels that day—Lex sprinkles in high-speed chases, shower scenes, and more explosions than a Hollywood blockbuster. Her pride is in telling stories of men who kiss as much as they kick ass. If you’re going to march into the depths of hell, it better be beside the one you love.

Lex is a pop culture diva, her DVR is constantly backlogged, and unapologetically loved the ending of Lost. She wouldn’t last five minutes without technology in the event of the apocalypse and has nightmares about refusing to leave her cats behind.

She is grateful for and humbled by all the readers. She knows very well she wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them and welcomes feedback.

You can find in the Intarwebz here:

Spring Has (almost) Sprung with Xara X. Xanakas

March 10, 2016

spring

For a lot of us, this weekend marks the beginning of Daylight Saving Time. That magical time of year when we lose one hour of sleep. Then you have to wander around your house and change the time on everything. Your cell phone and computer should be smart enough to figure it out by themselves, but your microwave, oven, coffee maker, alarm clocks, all those glowing lights around your house that blink every time the power goes out, all those things wait for you to stumble around on one less hour of sleep to figure out how to reset them again.

If you’re wondering whose bright idea this was, it’s been around forever. Not all states observe it. And even though Benjamin Franklin suggested it, it wasn’t adopted in the U.S. until 1918.

But look at what we gain from losing that hour. An extra hour of daylight. That doesn’t just mean no more trudging commutes in the dark. It means spring is coming. The cold is moving out, making way for blue skies and warmer days. Trees waking up and flowers blooming. You’ve made it through another miserable winter, and brighter days are ahead. Spring forward and embrace it.

~xXx~

Assembling A Dream Date With Lex Chase

February 18, 2016

SAR_Dream_Date

Hello, everyone! I’m Lex Chase and thank you for joining me on this month’s edition of #Dreamer! Today, I’m sharing a special date from my new release with Bru Baker Some Assembly RequiredIf you haven’t heard, it’s a meet-cute about two dead guys haunting a purgatorial affordable home goods store called CASA. Y’know, everyone considers that particular big box store purgatory, but in this case it really is. ;D

So what do you do when you do when you’re trapped for all eternity in the land of particle board and meatballs? You can’t exactly go out on a movie date. So, you have to get a bit (okay a lot) creative. So presenting here is the excerpt from Benji and Patrick’s dream date. Patrick, who hasn’t seen a current movie in decades, doesn’t know what to expect when Benji our “newly deceased” teaches him the meaning of “watch Netflix and chill.”


Some Assembly Required
by Lex Chase and Bru Baker
Excerpt


Benji would have had a hard time figuring out what to screen for Patrick on their movie date, but after an hour agonizing over his choices, he’d settled on The Avengers. It was the perfect mix of comic book geekery, fists meeting faces, and the three-way dilemma of Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, or Tom Hiddleston. Robert Downey Jr. went without saying. But Hemsworth and Hiddleston were always a difficult choice that usually settled in a tie. It was exactly the type of movie he bet Patrick would have lined up to see on opening night.

Benji was going to be kind of devastated if Patrick didn’t love it. Which was ridiculous, all things considered. But he wanted to give Patrick something special, to do something for him that no one else could. He and Patrick were alike in that way. They were both prone to grand gestures. Benji’s were just usually a little better planned out and a lot more well intentioned.

“You’re doing a very nice thing here, Benji,” Karin said, and there was no mistaking the wistful smile on her face. She was definitely a little jealous.

He grinned. “We could make it a weekly thing, you know. Movie night,” he clarified when both Agnes and Karin gave him a confused look. “Not that I wouldn’t like to have a weekly date with Patrick. I would. But we could have a movie night. For everyone, I mean.”

It felt a bit silly now that he’d said it out loud. Could the Impressions even watch a movie? He wasn’t sure. There was still so much he didn’t understand about CASA. But Agnes and Karin definitely could, so it would at least be the four of them. Like a family night, since they were the only family he had now.

“I’d quite like that,” Agnes said after a moment of consideration.

Karin clapped her hands together. “Me too! How many digital movies does this thing have on it?”

Benji smothered a laugh behind his hand, pretending to yawn. “Uh, they’re not on the laptop, exactly. We’re streaming them from a service that has a bunch of movies. Old television shows too.”

If Karin was young enough, there might be an unfinished plotline out there that had been nagging at her for decades. Maybe she’d spent all this time wondering who shot J.R. He had to bite his lips together to keep from laughing at the thought of Karin with Farrah Fawcett hair and bell-bottoms.

Agnes shot the laptop a look of deep mistrust but grudgingly nodded. “Streaming. Laptops. Digital movies. What’s next, cars that drive themselves?”

They all looked up when someone cleared his throat in the doorway. Patrick leaned against the frame, looking reluctantly amused.

“I figured the very vague note you left on my MILAN this morning to meet you here tonight meant you were reconsidering my blow-job offer. I didn’t realize it was a meeting to talk about future cars. I’d have dressed with more care,” he said wryly, gesturing at the stained Despicable Me shirt he’d plucked from Lost and Found a few days ago. Benji hadn’t had the heart to tell him it was a minion and not a Twinkie with a face. Patrick had been absolutely delighted by it.

Agnes made a disgusted sound and wrinkled her nose at him. “If you cared about anything at all, you’d stop raiding that box and start materializing your clothes like the rest of us.”

Patrick’s eyes widened. “What’s that I hear in your voice, Agnes? Concern? So you do like me!”

She fixed him with a withering stare and rolled her eyes. “I’d like you to be gone,” she muttered before disappearing.

Karin shook her head and followed suit, leaving the two of them alone in the conference room.

Benji watched Patrick for a few seconds, sighing softly when he saw Patrick’s easy posture tighten up when it was just the two of them. “Just so you know, cars that drive themselves actually exist. Or at least, the prototypes do. They’ve had several moderately successful tests.”

Patrick gave him a thin-lipped smile. “Time does march on, doesn’t it?”

Benji cleared his throat, uncomfortable with the maudlin turn things had taken. He knew life was moving on out there without him, but he didn’t like to be reminded of it. And there was no better remedy for escaping reality than slipping into someone else’s.

“Would you go to the movies with me?” he blurted, wincing at the abruptness of the subject change.

Patrick’s brow furrowed. “Are you forgetting that pesky business of us not being able to leave the premises?”

There was definitely interest behind the snarky attitude, and Benji gave himself an internal high five. Operation Movie Date was cleared for takeoff.

“Welcome to the CASA Cineplex, sir,” he said, bowing low. “We’ll begin our screening momentarily. Please help yourself to concessions and find a seat.”

Patrick was still looking at him like he was crazy, but his eyes were sparkling, a sure sign that Patrick was enjoying himself.

Benji fiddled with the light switches while Patrick roamed around the table, finally settling on one of the two seats at the end of the table farthest back from the projector.

“So we don’t disturb any of the other customers in our movie theater if we get frisky during the imaginary movie,” Patrick said with a conspiratorial wink. “I was always a back row kind of guy.”

Benji snorted. He had no trouble seeing Patrick in the back row of a theater, though it had probably been to throw popcorn instead of get up to anything lewd. For all his bravado, Patrick was surprisingly prudish. Benji knew he’d been hurt by someone before, which accounted for a lot of his hesitancy to get intimate, but that didn’t explain why Patrick flustered so easily when their hands brushed. It was endearing.

“It’s not an imaginary movie,” he said, pointedly refusing to engage in Patrick’s childish innuendo. He brought up Netflix and logged into Charles’s account.

His hand hovered over the projector button. “I have a really important question for you,” he said, looking over at Patrick.

“Gee, Beaver, I don’t know where babies come from. You’d better ask Pop,” Patrick said, his eyes wide.

Benji’s lips twitched. “Asshole. Seriously, this is life or death.”

“Afterlife or death, you mean?”

Benji drew his hand back and crossed his arms. “Maybe I was wrong about you. I doubt you’d like this anyway. You’re probably all Superman all the time.”

Patrick gave him an offended tsk. “Earth isn’t so badly off that it needs to import aliens as superheroes,” he scoffed. “Marvel all the way.”

Benji grinned and flicked on the projector. The title credits for The Avengers popped up on the large screen. “Right answer.”

Patrick’s mouth dropped open. “No. They did not make my favorite comic ever into a movie. Did they? Did they really make Avengers into a movie? Who played Thor? Val Kilmer, right? Had to be Val Kilmer.”

Benji snorted a chuckle. “What?”

Patrick shrunk down in his seat a little bit. “Nothing.”

Pure happiness bubbled through Benji. For the first time in a long time, he was exactly where he wanted to be. He could count the number of perfect moments he’d had during life on one hand, and he was thrilled beyond belief to realize he’d get to have them in the afterlife too. A lot more of them, too, if he had anything to say about it. He bet he could easily fill both hands and both feet with happy Patrick moments if he really set his mind to it.

“Oh my God, I can’t tell you how happy I am to get to be the one to introduce you to the perfection that is Chris Hemsworth,” he said, delighted.

“But first, we have a score to settle.” Benji would have pulled on his handlebar mustache if he had one. It was the ultimate villain moment. “I believe you promised to teach me how to eat.” He looked pointedly over at the popcorn and candy Agnes had arranged on the table.

“Come on! That could take forever! I’ll teach you after, I promise.” Patrick pouted and rubbed his face when Benji didn’t unpause the movie. “Benji, it’s The Avengers,” he whined.

Benji raised his eyebrows, holding Patrick’s gaze.

“Oh, fine,” Patrick said. He didn’t bother getting up. Instead, he just teleported over to the table, appearing on it sitting with his legs crossed underneath him. “I hope you choke on it,” he said as he held a piece of popcorn up to Benji’s lips.

“Now who’s forgetting that we don’t need to breathe?” Benji teased, the words muffled by the food.

Patrick’s lips twitched and he withdrew the popcorn. “You don’t get to be the funny one. That job is already taken, by me.”

“I’ll just settle for being the pretty one, then,” Benji said, batting his eyelashes coquettishly.

Patrick choked on the Swedish Fish he’d just tossed into his mouth. “No arguments,” he rasped when he finally managed to swallow it. “Basically, it’s just like everything else here. Mind over matter. Be the change you want to see in the world and all that metaphysical jazz.”

Benji smiled fondly. “That’s a Gandhi quote.”

“Whatever, it still fits. If you want to be able to eat, eat,” Patrick said with a shrug. He ate another Swedish Fish.

“So that’s it? I can eat because I want to eat?”

Patrick saluted him. “Make it so.”

Benji eyed the popcorn with distrust but picked up a piece. It smelled amazing, and he could feel the salt crystals on the surface of the buttery kernel. “So I just go for it, Captain Picard?”

“It’s hard to explain. Why don’t you fall through the floor when you walk? It’s not because you’re corporeal, because you’re not unless you concentrate and will it. But your feet hit the floor and you don’t sink through because you expect to be able to walk on it. It’s never occurred to you that you couldn’t, so you can. Eating is the same basic principle. It takes a fair amount of energy, so we don’t do it often, but some things are worth it, you know?”

Patrick shot him a wicked grin. He grabbed a handful of popcorn and stuffed it into his mouth with a decadent groan.

Benji took a breath and tried to center himself like he did when he was practicing object manipulation with his Yoda figure. He gingerly placed the popcorn kernel on his tongue and focused on the weight of it. He willed his taste buds to engage, but it was like having a piece of cardboard in his mouth. There was no salty zing or smooth, oily roll of butter across his tongue.

He spit it out into his palm with a grimace.

“Do you actually taste things or are you just fucking with me?” he asked, narrowing his eyes at Patrick, who was licking the salt off his fingers with exaggerated bliss.

“Oh, sweetheart, if I was fucking you, you’d know,” he purred. Instead of continuing on with his teasing, though, he straightened up and took one of the chocolates off the pile. “Try this. It’s easier with softer foods at first. Just put it in your mouth and remember what it was like to eat. Think about what you want it to taste like. Think about the feeling of chewing it, or how it feels to swallow.”

Benji snickered at that, and Patrick flushed. Clearly the innuendo had been accidental that time. He really was adorable. Benji leaned forward and let Patrick put the chocolate in his mouth. It was cool on his tongue, and he thought about it melting and spreading sweet, thick chocolate across his taste buds.

He nearly choked when he realized he wasn’t just remembering the taste of chocolate—he was tasting it.

A grin spread across Patrick’s face. “Right? See? You’re doing it, aren’t you? Now chew it and swallow it.”

Benji did, amazed to find his mouth flooded with saliva that definitely hadn’t been there before. Tears pricked at his eyes, and he blinked quickly to dispel them. What a stupid thing to cry over.

He looked away, but Patrick slid his thumb across Benji’s eyelids, gently collecting the unshed tears. “Hey, no. It’s cool. I get it. It’s a lot.”

Benji took a breath and opened his eyes, grinning into Patrick’s. He brought his hand up and caught Patrick’s, twining their fingers together.

“Let’s watch this movie,” he said. He pulled himself up onto the table, settling in next to Patrick.

“Avengers assemble!” Patrick crowed, and Benji laughed, happiness spreading over him like a blanket.

 

 

It was a good thing that Benji had the bowl full of popcorn to keep himself occupied, because otherwise he’d never have made it through the whole thing without cooing over the adorable furrow between Patrick’s eyebrows that appeared while he craned his entire body toward the screen.

Benji had assumed Patrick would be the kind of guy who talked all the way through a movie, critiquing the acting and special effects or making predictions about what was going to happen next. And maybe he was that kind of guy—Benji would be amazed if he wasn’t, because being a bit of an asshole just seemed to be part of Patrick’s DNA—but Patrick didn’t utter a word through the entire movie.

Patrick gasped when Thanos made his brief appearance in the first end credits, his excitement dancing across his face like a five-year-old at Christmas. He watched with rapt attention, like he was trying to memorize every cast and crew member’s name, and then cracked up when the battle-weary team went for shawarma. He didn’t let Benji speak at all until the entire thing ended and the Netflix menu came up.

“Let’s watch it again.”

That wasn’t exactly what Benji had envisioned Patrick saying to him at the end of their first official date. He’d kind of hoped Patrick would be overcome with emotion and throw himself into Benji’s arms, cursing himself for wasting so much of their time together by running away.

And while any excuse to spend time with Patrick was a good one, even if it didn’t involve Patrick emoting, Benji was dead tired.

Ha. Dead tired. Because he was tired. And dead.

Benji bit back a grin at his unintentional pun. Normally he’d share it with Patrick, but he didn’t want to break up the oddly charged mood with a bad joke.

“Tomorrow, maybe? We could have a movie marathon with the Avengers’ back stories.”

Patrick’s eyes grew comically wide. “There are more Avengers movies?”

Benji rubbed the back of his neck. “Well, yeah. There are a couple Captain America movies, and there’s the Hulk’s movie. Oh, and Thor. And Iron Man, of course. There are a bunch of those.”

Patrick held his hand out imperiously toward the laptop. “Let’s watch them now.”

Benji felt his aura flicker, which he’d learned was the ghostly equivalent of a yawn. He’d expended too much energy setting everything up, plus all the energy he’d used eating the popcorn. As much as he’d like to spend the night watching movies, he needed to sleep.

“I’m glad you liked it, but I’m beat.”

“I can fix that,” Patrick said with a heavy-lidded smirk. He slid across the table, and Benji nearly fell off the edge when Patrick wrapped his arms around him. His nose knocked against Patrick’s collarbone, and he felt a zing of energy rush through him when the soft fabric got pushed aside. Benji couldn’t help but nuzzle in closer, chasing the addictive charge.

Patrick curved around him, pressing open-mouthed kisses against Benji’s neck. “So good like this. I’d forgotten,” he muttered. “Orgasms for everyone, and then we’ll watch more movies.”


Now how about a giveaway for you and your dream date? I’m not giving away one but two $5 USD DSP Gift Certificates! What do you have to do? Tell me about your ideal dream date. Or tell me about the one you had between you and your true love (husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, whatever!) And then nominate someone you’d gift with the second DSP certificate! Spread the love to your valentine!


Lex Chase once heard Stephen King say in a commercial, “We’re all going to die, I’m just trying to make it a little more interesting.” Now she’s on a mission to make the world a hell of a lot more interesting.

Weaving tales of sweeping cinematic adventure—depending on how she feels that day—Lex sprinkles in high-speed chases, shower scenes, and more explosions than a Hollywood blockbuster. Her pride is in telling stories of men who kiss as much as they kick ass. If you’re going to march into the depths of hell, it better be beside the one you love.

Lex is a pop culture diva, her DVR is constantly backlogged, and she unapologetically loved the ending of Lost. She wouldn’t last five minutes without technology in the event of the apocalypse and has nightmares about refusing to leave her cats behind.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LXChase
Twitter: http://twitter.com/Lex_Chase
Tumblr: http://lexiconofkittens.tumblr.com
Instagram: http://instagram.com/lexachase


Bru_Headshot

Bru Baker got her first taste of life as a writer at the tender age of four when she started publishing a weekly newspaper for her family. What they called nosiness she called a nose for news, and no one was surprised when she ended up with degrees in journalism and political science and started a career in journalism.

Bru spent fifteen years writing for newspapers before making the jump to fiction. She now works in reference and readers’ advisory in a Midwestern library, though she still finds it hard to believe someone’s willing to pay her to talk about books all day. Most evenings you can find her curled up with a mug of tea, some fuzzy socks, and a book or her laptop. Whether it’s creating her own characters or getting caught up in someone else’s, there’s no denying that Bru is happiest when she’s engrossed in a story. She and her husband have two children, which means a lot of her books get written from the sidelines of various sports practices.

www.bru-baker.com
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PS: I’m waaaaay behind with naming giveaway winners from previous dreamer posts! No worries! I’ll be picking them out this week! Watch your inboxes! ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Be Your Valentine with Xara X. Xanakas

February 10, 2016

It’s that time again. Valentines’ Day. Chalky hearts, boxes of chocolates, flowers. Commercials hawking the perfect piece of jewellery. Restaurants featuring special, guaranteed romantic meals. If you’re anything like me, you’re already over it. Don’t get me wrong, I love romance. It’s just… a bit much. Cram an entire year’s worth of wining and dining into one day, and do it bigger than the next person.

If you have someone special in your life, for the love of Dog, don’t wait for that one day to show them. Make sure they know, every day, that you love them. That you’re there for them. That they’re it for you. Why not go different this year? Here’s a few ideas to get you started.

http://www.yourtango.com/201167466/9-unconventional-valentines-day-ideas

http://www.details.com/story/8-clich-busting-valentines-day-ideas

http://indexdigital.co.uk/10-top-alternative-valentines-day-ideas/

http://www.cheapism.com/blog/4101/what-to-do-for-valentines-day

http://www.refinery29.com/alternative-valentines-day-ideas

http://www.buzzfeed.com/mallorymcinnis/you-repulse-me-the-least#.gbZKrjY4l

 

You may find yourself at a Singles Party, helpfully set up by one of your Valentine’s loving friends. Make sure you’re prepared:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/compost/wp/2013/02/14/the-top-20-grammatical-pick-up-lines-for-valentines-day/

http://www.pickuplinesgalore.com/valentinesday.html

https://pickupline.net/holiday-themed-pick-up-lines/valentines-day-pick-up-lines/

http://www.gotlines.com/lines/cheesy.php

 

If you know someone who is staunchly Anti-Valentines, here’s some gifts you could surprise them with. Maybe you’ll make a convert out of them.

http://giftcanyon.com/anti-valentines-gifts/

http://www.buzzfeed.com/jennaguillaume/down-with-v-day#.mdBrQ0MgJ

http://nerdist.com/6-movies-for-people-who-hate-valentines-day/

http://www.oddee.com/item_97438.aspx

http://www.hexjam.com/uk/news/9-incredible-anti-valentine-s-day-presents

 

If you don’t have someone, then take the day to spoil the one person you absolutely cannot live without: YOURSELF. Be as selfish as you want. You deserve it, just as much as the next couple. Here’s some tips:

http://toomuchonherplate.com/10-selfcare-tips-valentines-day/

http://www.yourtango.com/experts/kanya-daley/3-things-you-must-do-if-you-re-single-valentine-s-day

https://thegirlwhoknows.com/be-your-own-valentine/

 

Don’t let some marketer’s idea of ‘romantic’ make the rules for your life. So what if your Valentines doesn’t look like the idealized versions they wave in your face. Only you have the right to define what works for you.

 

~xXx~

Just a Little Bit Snowy with Andrew Grey #dreamer

January 25, 2016

This month’s post is going to be short and sweet.  Dominic and I have just spent most of the day digging out some 30 inches of snow that fell during winter storm Jonas.  Yesterday I shoveled from the front porch to the street and today we dug out the cars. A neighbor helped by snowblowing the sidewalk.  So right now, without a doubt I am dreaming of someplace warm and absolutely no snow.  I am already sick of snow and wish it would all go away and spring would arrive.  I’m attaching a picture of just how much snow we got.  I actually measured in multiple places and came up with just over 30 inches, two and a half feet of snow.  My back aches and my legs hurt.  Ok I know, that’s enough complaining.  But right now I am dreaming of blue skies, sand, surf, and scantily dressed cabana boys bringing drinks while I sleep under a thatched room on an island deep in the Caribbean.  All I can say right now is come on spring.

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Andrew Grey: Andrew grew up in western Michigan with a father who loved to tell stories and a mother who loved to read them. Since then he has lived throughout the country and traveled throughout the world. He has a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and now writes full time.

Andrew’s hobbies include collecting antiques, gardening, and leaving his dirty dishes anywhere but in the sink (particularly when writing)  He considers himself blessed with an accepting family, fantastic friends, and the world’s most supportive and loving partner. Andrew currently lives in beautiful, historic Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Check out Andrew Grey’s books here!

Dream Books with Lex Chase

January 21, 2016

Dream_Books

Howdy, everyone! Lex Chase here for the first edition of #Dreamer for the new year! I hope everyone’s had an awesome new year and is looking forward what 2016 has in store. (Besides writing 2015 until June. Oi, oi.)

This year for me has started off with a bang of pre-order mania! Bru Baker and I co-wrote a book called Some Assembly Required. It’s about two dead guys that meet in the afterlife in CASA—an affordable Italian minimalistic furnishing superstore—that happens to be purgatory. Yes. Really. You can check it out here! 

And that’s not all! Over at DSP Publications, the shiny new 2nd edition of my horror high fantasy novel, Chasing Sunrise is now up and ready to go! Heavily re-edited with humongous chunks rewritten, and yup, you heard right, a completely different ending.

All of that aside, I’m talking about Dream Books! I’m presenting my top five favorites that have definitely had an effect on me as a writer and as a reader. And some of them may surprise you! So presenting in no particular order.

Child of God by Cormac McCarthy

Child of God by Cormac McCarthy

I have a love/hate/love-to-hate/hate-to-love thing with Cormac McCarthy. I discovered him via a college class where we studied his works for the entire semester. Child of God remains a favorite. McCarthy breaks every damned rule he possibly can that are non-negotiables for book publishing and completely gets away with it. Not a single dialog quote, topics that are never, ever okay, dialect for days, and you can’t read his books without a dictionary in one hand and a map in the other. It’s one of the most challenging books I read just for the effort I had to make to understand it. But also the most rewarding. I find myself slipping tiny homages to McCarthy in my books all the time.

By the way, the “hero” and I use that term loosely is a guy named Lester Ballard. He is a horrid human being, but you also understand him deeply that he just wants to live his life in peace. His life? That of a necrophiliac. Yeah. Did I mention McMarthy’s work is whoa what nooooo.

Infected: Prey by Andrea Speed

Infected: Prey by Andrea Speed

Back when I was first trying to get published with Dreamspinner in 2009/2010, I was working with developing the world of Chasing Sunrise as well as another project. At the time, M/M was considered erotica, despite not having any erotic content. But of course in the realm of “the rules” of erotica, basically you needed a crapton of sex, and you didn’t need a happy ending. Because erotica didn’t count as romance and M/M slipped right through this loophole.

I picked up the first Infected book to actually get a feel for M/M. First, Infected isn’t erotica. Not even close. Sure there’s romance in it. A little. But it’s mostly Roan being the most broken anti-hero he can possibly be. He lives in a world that hates him just on the principle of the thing, and he just does his best with what he has, while he deals with the absolute worse in humanity.

Here is the ultimate kicker, I actually didn’t like Infected when I first read it. I didn’t even finish it. But in the years since, and since the Infected series has continued, and Andy has taught us a very valuable lesson. She showed us what M/M could be.

Thick as Thieves by Tali Spencer

Thick as Thieves by Tali Spencer

Can we just talk about that opening line to the blurb.

“After Vorgell the barbarian fucks himself with a unicorn horn, he ends up in a cell with Maddog, a pretty young thief.”

I was like “…………alrighty.” *buys with one-click.*

I read it while I was laid up with the flu. Because I am a terrible patient and I get mad when I want to get stuff done and my body said “Hahahah…silly you.”

So while I wasn’t coherent enough for a single thing, I dived in to the world of Gurgh and went on grand adventures with Vorgell and Madd. It was the most entertaining read I had had in a long time, and I am so, so hype about the sequel Thick as Ice. Thick as Thieves was a book that you knew going in the cheese was on purpose, and if you tried to rationalize any of it, you’d ruin it. The kingdom is called Gurgh, people. Like that’s kind of a clue.

Vorgell and Madd are a great mismatched couple. Vorgell can come off like a doof, but really he’s a guy of very simple desires and sees the world in a very pure way. Madd sees only the complications and has to run through every possibility before choosing one that sucks less. And then there’s Petal. The tiny baby basilisk that I can’t cope with she’s so adorable and full of sass.

Art of Death by Ana Bosch

Art of Death by Ana Bosch

I’ve known Ana for years. We met back when she was developing her now wildly popular webcomic Demon of the Underground. She’s multi-talented, and her ideas of how she connects the A to B are mindboggling. I had the pleasure of beta reading Art of Death, and the sequel Bonds of Death. Both of us hailing from art school backgrounds, she captured the feel of being back there with all it’s quirk, weirdness, and snarky professors.

We were also introduced to the undead and their secret society. They never really had an exact name, but Ana and I discussed they were basically revenants.

We also met Westwood. *dreamy siiiiiigh* Reviews of Westwood had been mixed, but I have such feelings for him. He is the most anti of anti-heroes. He makes no apologies, takes no shit, and just doesn’t care. He’s not a perfect person, in fact he’s a terrible person, but he never stops being an effective person. He gets results under any means necessary even if that means putting his love interest directly in the line of fire. He is definitely a guy that will have no issues shooting the hostage and shrug.

Ana had hinted one day of writing Westwood’s origin story. Whether or not it’ll really happen, I can only dream.

The Authority by Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch

The Authority: Relentless by Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch

I will always and forever be in love with comics. The Authority was a revelation. The birth of the “widescreen cinematic comic” and amazing writing and comics were never the same again. With Bryan Hitch’s beautiful art, and Warren Ellis’s brilliant writing, I was chomping at the bit for each issue.

It featured the first gay couple in a mainstream comic book, and they were superheroes who happened to be gay, and not gay superheroes. There’s a difference. Every character was flawed, and every character had their own thing going. They were not above sacrificing the many for the good of the few. They were the sledge hammer of justice upon the world.

Warren Ellis gave us concepts like their mode of transportation being the size of a large city was powered by a caged baby universe. To save the day, one of the heroes used his powers to hold Italy stationary while the Earth rotated around it. Hell yeah!

Warren Ellis not only writes comics, but everything else. Novels, articles, screenplays, and one of his quotes “whatever I can steal money for.” His writing is gritty, subversive, and can be downright filthy not at all in the erotica sense but in the complete horrific things he can come up with. Stuff that sticks with you and haunts your nightmares and makes me think dammit why didn’t I think of that!


So question time! What’s a book that’s stuck with you? One that remains a tried and true favorite? For an even bigger challenge pick one that isn’t M/M! One lucky commenter will walk away with a 5 dollar DSP Gift Certificate!


Lex Chase brings readers on dangerous adventures alongside heroes facing impossible odds from saving the world from a nefarious villain, to saving dinner from igniting like a roman candle. Lex believes that even in lush fantasy worlds or grim and gritty sci-fi, there is a timeless human quality. Marching to the beat of a different drum, Lex knows we’re all going to die someday, but she’s on a mission to make the ride interesting through action, adventure, and true love.

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I resolve to be… with Xara X. Xanakas

January 10, 2016

So, it’s a new year. Did you make any resolutions? Whether yours is self improvement, money, relationship, weight loss, or something more obscure, they can be a great motivator. A helpful reminder to try to be the best you you can be. Something to aspire to, to reach for, throughout the year. Yes, resolutions can be a great thing.

Until they’re not. All too often, they become another weapon our subconscious uses to against us in its ongoing battle for our psyche. Another stick to club ourselves with. You know what I mean. That little voice that pipes up after you’ve had that cigarette you resolved not to, or that last doughnut from the break room after you promised yourself you wouldn’t. We are our own worst enemies when it comes to following through on resolutions. And we convince ourselves that we are the outcast here, that everyone else is having a cakewalk.

BUT WAIT! Did you know that a quarter of all resolutions never make it out of the first week of the year? One in four don’t make last seven days. And over half of them are abandoned within six months. Think about that. In fact, do you know how many resolutions are actually kept for a full year?

Eight percent.

That means ninety-two percent of us ‘failed’ in our resolutions. Those little missteps? Yeah, that’s normal. Let me say it again: YOU ARE NORMAL. So you slipped. So what? You got tomorrow to do better. That’s what my resolution is: to be. That’s it. I resolve to be. And trust that any changes I make, any slips I have don’t make me a failure; they make me human. And I can live with that.

Resolution-greeting-card

 

~xXx~

 

Things My Husband Convinces Me Would Be A Good Idea with Caitlin Ricci

December 28, 2015

THINGS MY HUSBAND CONVINCES ME WOULD BE A GOOD IDEA (1)

Hey everyone! This is Caitlin Ricci here taking over to talk about my new novel Blood Slave. This is a very different story for me in a lot of ways and it came about because my husband, Scott, said hey, I have this idea for a book and you should write it. He’s given me lots of ideas over the years that we’ve been together and they’re all filed away in my docs under Scott’s Ideas. They’ll be written, I promise him. Someday I’ll get to them. But this one was even more out there than some of his others.

What he gave me was a post apocalyptic world where people can no longer produce enough of their own red blood cells and have to then start drinking the blood of humans and animals to survive or else get very weak and eventually die. Some people are unaffected, and those lucky few are the humans. The ones who feed on other people became a version of vampires and those who feed on animals are werewolves. He wanted big battles and bloody wars and one big anti-hero to pull it all together.

I write a lot of shifters and contemporaries. I don’t write post apocalyptic or vampires. I just don’t. I figured someday I would, but for the most part a story like this wasn’t even on my radar. But there he was with this idea that he was so excited about and I’d been promising him that I’d write one of his ideas soon. So I decided to give this one a try. Only I made it a gay romance and people fall in love and there wasn’t nearly enough death and things getting blown up for him.

But this novel became a great experiment for me. I got to play with characters I never would have been able to try out in any other world. Jai, the merciless vampire prince, led the story and I fell so hard for Ash, the blood slave. I wanted their love to be gentle in a world that is anything but. While people are dying around them and every day they have to kill just to survive I had these two men who were just trying to figure themselves, and each other, out. It’s a very different book for me and I’m extremely proud of it and how it all came together in the end. It’s about redemption and falling in love when that word really doesn’t exist anymore. And it’s also about revenge and deciding that the world isn’t working how you want it to so it’s better to start a war and remake the entire continent as you want it to be. There is death and gore but in the end it’s a love story about a merciless vampire prince and the blood slave he helps.

Thank you for taking time out of your day to spend it with me. And now I’d like to know, what’s the strangest thing someone has ever convinced you to do? 

Happy Holidays everyone. See you in the new year!

Caitlin Ricci

https://www.facebook.com/caitlin.ricci.7
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authorcaitlinricci@gmail.com
www.caitlinricci.com