Down These Mean Streets with J.S. Cook

August 14, 2015

Skid Row Serenade is a novel about Tony Leonard, a down-and-out alcoholic war hero suffering from what nowadays we’d call Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In the 1940s – when this novel takes place – it was more likely to be called ‘shell shock’.  During the war, Tony was a commando; he and others of his squad were taken prisoner by the Gestapo and tortured. Because of this, he is emotionally scarred, and can only face the outside world through a buffer of alcohol.

Skid Row Serenade is a noir novel, or what might otherwise be called ‘pulp detective’, a genre that hasn’t always enjoyed the greatest respectability. (When I was in academia, writing genre fiction was seen as something undesirable, almost shameful. You did it, but you never admitted to it, and among the academic community, it wasn’t seen as legitimate writing, not like literary fiction. Writing pulp was and still is too often regarded by intellectuals as the creative equivalent of picking one’s nose in public.) In its earliest incarnation, pulp referred to inexpensive magazines published from about 1896 through the 1950s. It was called ‘pulp’ because of the cheap, wood pulp paper on which it was printed – a direct contrast to the ‘glossies’ or ‘slicks’, magazines printed on high quality paper and often including lavish illustration. Pulps were priced at ten cents each, and within easy reach for almost all readers, unlike the slicks, which were typically twenty-five cents per issue. It doesn’t seem like much money to us nowadays in 2015, but in the dark and dirty 1930s, at the height of the Great Depression, a shoulder of lamb went for seventeen cents, and a dozen eggs were eighteen cents; bread throughout much of the United States cost eight cents. If you had twenty-five cents, you had a meal.

soupkitchen

Even though pulp fiction had a shady reputation, many of these inexpensive magazines played host to some of the greatest authors of the twentieth century. Writers such as Agatha Christie, (Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple); Dashiell Hammett, (Sam Spade, the Continental Op); Elmore Leonard, (Get Shorty, 3:10 to Yuma); and Raymond Chandler, creator of private detective Philip Marlowe.

Of Marlowe, Chandler said, “Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. He is the hero; he is everything.” Here is the detective as lone wolf, as modern knight errant, a man unafraid to tilt at windmills in pursuit of what he sees as justice.

Skid Row Serenade was directly inspired by Chandler’s The Long Goodbye—specifically, the character of Terry Lennox, the alcoholic war hero who befriends Marlowe and who calls upon him to whisk him out of the country when Lennox’s estranged wife is murdered. The story is told from Marlowe’s point of view, which got me wondering: what would the story look like if it were told from Terry’s point of view? In order to get into that 1940s detective vibe, I listened to the kind of music Tony Leonard – my version of Terry Lennox – might listen to: Billie Holiday, Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington. I immersed myself (as much as possible) in the culture of the 1940s, specifically the post-war era, when millions of armed forces personnel worldwide were being ‘demobbed’ and sent back to the everyday world they’d left at the beginning of the war. While I didn’t take up smoking again (I quit back in 2001) I did indulge in the cocktails Tony would have ordered: whiskey sours, champagne cocktails, martinis, and Raymond Chandler’s personal favorite, the gimlet.

What’s a gimlet? Half gin, half Rose’s lime juice. Shake over ice in a cocktail shaker; strain into a martini glass and enjoy. Trust me: it’s delicious.

Gimlet_cocktail

Something interesting happened once I sat down to ‘write Tony’. Maybe it was because of the music, or maybe it was because of the drinks, but I honestly felt as if I were channelling him. Every time I opened my laptop, it seemed he was there, dictating his story to me. All I had to do was take it down. This seemed to confirm something writing teacher Julia Cameron says: ‘writing isn’t about making it up; it’s about taking it down’. I certainly felt that way with Tony living in my head twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

I wanted Skid Row Serenade to have the feeling of an old-time pulp novel, including the snappy patter the genre has always been known for. I wanted it to be funny, but funny with an undercurrent of grimness. For example, Tony muses on his dead wife Janet’s sexual escapades as he flees Los Angeles for Mexico:

“[She] prefer[ed] instead an endless parade of stout young swains eager to fuck her brains out,” Tony says, after Janet has been found brutally murdered, her head beaten to a pulp with what we later find out is a high heeled shoe. “Well, they were out now.”

I wanted the book to have the feeling of a Chandler novel, but not as an intentional copy. Rather, I wanted Skid Row Serenade to read like something Chandler might have written, if he had chosen to write The Long Goodbye from a perspective other than Marlowe’s. There are certain passages that deliberately echo Chandler’s style. For example, Tony’s thoughts as he regards Los Angeles from Mulholland Drive, high above the city:

“Down there, people were crying, being beaten to within an inch of their lives, being disappointed and abandoned, having their bluff called, letting their hair down. Somebody was sitting in an empty room watching the pulse and flicker of the disenchanted neon and waiting for a moving bar of light to fall at a predetermined point along the dank and rumpled sheets of someone’s lonely bed. People were being crushed, being knifed, stabbed and shot; people were bawling their eyes out and people were sitting in a bar drinking themselves into oblivion. People were laughing, celebrating, eating, toasting, gasping, breathing, and dying, and all the while the luminous flesh of the palpitating city didn’t give a sweet goddamn.”

At times, Tony finds himself in down-at-heel bars and taverns, looking for some liquid comfort, most likely in a bottle of gin or bourbon. He’s well aware that his drinking habits are not normal, but he knows he is powerless to do anything about it. His frequent forays into less-than-salutary places and situations see him doling out his usual caustic wit:

“Here.” The barman came back with a bottle of Wild Turkey and a glass. […]“Anything else?” he asked.

“Eternal youth,” I said. “Good teeth. Strong bones. A will to live. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Did I leave anything out?”

The novel noir’s most pertinent distinction is a protagonist who isn’t a cop or detective, but who can instead be seen as either a victim, a suspect, or a perpetrator. The noir character is typically weak, morally corrupt, and self-destructive. If he has morals at all, they are likely his own, drawn from his view of the world; there is little in common with the laws or social mores of the larger world. Because the protagonist is himself a victim (Tony is a horribly damaged prisoner of war turned alcoholic) he has no choice but to victimize others in order to achieve the objective of his own personal end game. Bad things happen to – and around – the noir protagonist, who is sometimes an unwitting patsy and the author of his own destruction.

But it isn’t all bad news for Tony: there is a luscious and brilliant detective to whom he becomes very attached, and while having an alcoholic for a boyfriend isn’t exactly the stuff dreams are made of, Skid Row Serenade definitely has a happily-ever-after.

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Now it’s your turn… For a free copy of any book from my backlist, share your favorite cocktail recipes. What really inspires your inner tippler? Tell me about the first time you had it, who made it, and why you love it so much. Does it include exotic or bizarre ingredients like wood, cereal, or vinegar? Does it have hallucinogenic properties, like absinthe or a Mickey Slim? Or does it simply fly you to the moon? Leave your reply in the comments.

 

 

Image Credits:

Image 1: ”Volunteers of America Soup Kitchen in Washington, D.C.” by Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum – Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum (53227(291), 06/00/1936, 27-0692a.gif). Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Image 2: By The Delicious Life (Vodka Gimlet no. 5  Uploaded by admrboltz) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

A Bit of Britishness with Rebecca Cohen

August 14, 2015


BRITISH

Hello! I’m Rebecca Cohen and DSP have let me visit their blog to mark the release of my new novella, Overly Dramatic. As you may or may not know, I’m a Brit who now lives in Switzerland and many of my books have a very British flavour. Overly Dramatic is one such book, set in and around an amateur dramatics society in Greenwich, South London.

Overly Dramatic is the first of three novellas in the Treading the Boards series, and I’ve been asked a couple of times why I chose the setting. To explain myself, I should mention that my hubby and his family have been “am dram” fans for what seems forever, and the stories I’ve heard and the people I’ve met are just too good not to play with. But I also wanted to have a bit of fun, since my last release was quite an angsty sci fi (Under Glass).

 

So, today I want to talk about the play I created for Overly Dramatic. Whoops, Vicar, There Goes My Trousers is a made up work, styled in the fashion of the best (well, actually the worst) of British farce. Farce is a genre of play famed for madcap antics and double entendres, so I admit I gave myself full license to play around a bit. Missing trousers, flying cassocks and a runaway goat all make Andy, my leading man, wonder what he’s got himself into. I’d dabbled with screenplays when I studied creative writing and wanted to use the correct play format, which is also a nod to what Stephen Fry does in one of my favourite books, Making History.

 

Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, there isn’t room for the full play so I have included a few choice snippets in the novella, which should be enough to understand why Andy is so concerned. Here’s a few lines from the scene that inspired Paul Richmond’s magnificent cover:

Rev. Smithe, crawling around the altar, holds up a discarded pair of trousers and sees the stashed box of brandy.
REV. SMITHE. Dear Lord, what is going on?
(Goat bleats.)
REV. SMITHE. Gertrude? Where have you been, you silly girl?
Goat butts up against Rev. Smithe as if trying to mount him.
REV. SMITHE. No, Gertrude! Bad goat!
Gregory enters, looking for his stashed brandy, does double-take at goat and Rev. Smithe. Drags goat away and helps Rev. Smithe to his feet.
GREGORY. You all right, Reverend?
REV. SMITHE. Yes, thank you, Gregory. Thanks to your divine intervention.
GREGORY. Not sure I could be described as divine, Reverend.
Rev. Smithe stands over grating, cassock flies up.

 

So, for your chance to win an ebook from the choice of my back catalogue (excluding Overly Dramatic) tell me: if you were to join up for an amateur dramatics society what part would you love to play? Or what would make you run screaming for the wings?
We’ll pick a winner from the comments.

You can learn more about my stories, read guest posts and free reads at by blog:
http://rebeccacohenwrites.wordpress.com/
Or following me on twitter http://twitter.com/R_Cohen_writes or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/rebecca.cohen.710

 

Get your copy of Overly Dramatic today!

Why Do I Write? With Rick R. Reed #dreamer

August 12, 2015
Rick R. Reed

Me in a philosophical mood on the Oregon coast.

Today, I’m in a philosophical mood and asking myself a deep question: why do I write? I mean, it’s something I don’t have to do, right?

But perhaps asking that latter question gets to the root of things. Maybe I do have to write. Maybe I can’t help myself. When I asked that question, I tried to think of other things I had to do every day and came up with things like brushing my teeth, taking the handful of pills every day that keep me healthy and possibly alive, sleeping enough, eating right. Those things all keep me balanced and on the right path. I could choose not to do them, but why, when I would be harming myself?

I think I could make the same conclusion about writing, about living for a while in an imaginary world. Maybe I do have to do that, because if I didn’t, I’d be harming myself.

Consider: I’ve been making up stories since I was about six years old. And perhaps, if I’d had a different childhood, one that kept me free from bullying, incessant teasing, and loneliness, I wouldn’t be the writer I am today. Writing filled a void…it still does. It gives me control over at least a world in my imagination, often when any control of the real world seems increasingly out of my grasp. Writing, like reading, allows me an escape.

For those of you who might have thought the answer to this self-posed question might be something like fame or fortune, I really have to scoff at that answer. For one, although I’ve achieved a small measure of success, those things still elude me. And they eluded me before I’d had a single word published. Yet, I wrote and wrote and wrote…even when there was no promise of financial or public reward. Why? It’s work. It’s hard. It’s lonely.

Because I’m compelled to. Because I need to. Even if I had never seen a story or book published, I believe I would still be writing. It’s my safety release valve. It’s my gift to myself, even if I can find about a million things to procrastinate about before getting down to business. It’s my gift (or curse?) from a higher power. I honestly believe there’s a thin line between creativity and insanity…and perhaps it’s the writing, the telling of stories, that keeps me just a hair on the side of creativity.

In closing, I offer you a few word from a woman who I think also had to write, Pearl S. Buck:

“The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive. To him… a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death. Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create — so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is creating.”

Rick R. Reed Biography
Rick R. Reed is all about exploring the romantic entanglements of gay men in contemporary, realistic settings. While his stories often contain elements of suspense, mystery and the paranormal, his focus ultimately returns to the power of love. He is the author of dozens of published novels, novellas, and short stories. He is a three-time EPIC eBook Award winner (for Caregiver, Orientation and The Blue Moon Cafe). Raining Men and Caregiver have both won the Rainbow Award for gay fiction.  Lambda Literary Review has called him, “a writer that doesn’t disappoint.” Rick lives in Seattle with his husband and a very spoiled Boston terrier. He is forever “at work on another novel.”

Find him at:
Web
Blog
Facebook
Twitter
E-mail

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Rick’s latest book is Dinner at Fiorello’s (where love is on the menu). Buy it at the Dreamspinner Press site in ebook or paperback. Or at Amazon.

 

Choices and Second Chances with Nic Starr

August 10, 2015

choices

Hi. Nic Starr here. I’m joining you today to talk a little about my upcoming release, Andrew’s Promise. I wanted to share with you a little about the book, and its theme of life choices and the promises we make.

Andrew’s Promise is the story of a young man who is on the verge of starting his adult life when tragedy occurs. He has hopes and dreams, all of which he has to give up. Although some might argue he didn’t have to give up his dreams. Andrew could have been with the man he loved. He could have left his hometown and taken the road trip he’d always planned. Andrew could have handed the care of his fifteen-year-old brother, Josh, to someone else. But he didn’t. For Andrew there was no choice. It was inevitable he would stay and care for his brother, putting his own life—or at least the future he had envisaged—on hold.

I think we’ve all been in a position at some time or another, where we’ve had to make choices and decisions that result in sacrificing something important to us. I know as a mother, that’s definitely the case. I make choices on a daily basis that put my kids first. Having a child is making a promise to nurture, love, and protect.  Josh may not be Andrew’s child, but Andrew’s sense of family and the love he feels for his brother, are all encompassing and it is his instinct to protect and fill the void left by his father.

Andrew first appears in Charlie’s Hero, the first book of the series, as a responsible man who doesn’t seem to have much of a life of his own. In fact, he comes across as quite overbearing and a bit boring. He may have honoured his promise to look after Josh but he’s let that decision—the responsibility and fear of losing his brother—impact heavily on his own life and personality. But deep down Andrew is a wonderful man, and he deserved to have his dreams delayed not extinguished. The advantage of writing a novel, is the ability to make people’s dreams come true, to give them their second chances. For Andrew, it is all about his second chance at love with Tanner, the man he pushed away so many years before. And thus this second book was born. ☺

When I was writing this story, I thought back on my own life and the choices I’ve made. Would I have done anything differently? I’m not so sure I would have.

The first big choice I made was back when I was seventeen, so a very long time ago. *wink* I made the choice not to take a gap-year. A gap-year is the twelve months of travelling many Aussies do between finishing high school and starting university. I wanted to keep the study momentum going. After all, the quicker I finished, the sooner I’d be out in the workforce earning money. Did that choice impact me? Sure, it means I’ve worked pretty much full-time for twenty years and haven’t seen a great deal of the world.

That’s another fact of living in Australia—everything is so far away you need weeks and weeks for a holiday. Plus it’s expensive. I’ve seen a lot of Australia, the South Pacific, and a bit of Asia, but nothing of far-away places like Europe, Africa and the USA. Do I regret it? No, because I plan on doing a lot of travelling in my hopefully not-too-distant-future. The benefit is I now have a bit more money to travel in style. Although I do have friends who think backpacking as a youngster would have been more adventurous. Oh well, each to their own and better late than never. ☺

I’m starting my travels with a three week trip to the USA in October. GRL seemed a good excuse to plan a holiday. Hopefully, I’ll have a chance to meet many of you in San Diego.

***

Anyway, enough of my ramblings but how about I leave you with a giveaway? If you’d like to win an eBook copy of one of my backlist titles, leave a comment on this blog post. All you need to do is share a choice you’ve made and whether you’d do the same thing again. Fingers crossed your choices have brought you happiness. ☺

Have a great day!

Nic xx

***

And for those of you interested, here are the details of my latest release. It will be available on 12th August but is available for pre-order now.

Andrew’s Promise – The Blurb

Young mechanic Andrew Campbell’s life couldn’t be better. He is about to restore a Ford Mustang with his dad before heading off on the ultimate cross-country road trip with his best friend, Tanner McKenzie.

But tragedy strikes, and Andrew’s life is shattered. Worried his family will be torn apart if he doesn’t step in, Andrew makes a tough choice between following his heart and doing what he needs to do to protect his little brother.

When Andrew pushes Tanner away, Tanner heads off on the planned trip alone. Once Tanner leaves town, his life takes a different path and it’s ten years before he returns. Now a firefighter, he’s never forgotten his first love, and no one has ever taken Andrew’s place in his heart. He’s determined to see if Andrew feels the same way. He just hopes Andrew’s excited to see him, hopes that he’s available—and finally out—after all this time.

They might not have been ready to deal with emerging feelings years ago, but now might be the time for their second chance at love.

Buy Links

Dreamspinner Press: http://bit.ly/1ghCwTq

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1fXw6bG

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1UgKMSu

Amazon AU: http://bit.ly/1IdHI3X

All Romance eBooks: http://bit.ly/1ODE5GY

About Nic Starr

Nic Starr lives in Australia where she tries to squeeze as much into her busy life as possible. Balancing the demands of a corporate career with raising a family and writing can be challenging but she wouldn’t give it up for the world.

Always a reader, the lure of m/m romance was strong and she devoured hundreds of wonderful m/m romance books before eventually realising she had some stories of her own that needed to be told!

When not writing or reading, she loves to spend time with her family—an understanding husband and two beautiful daughters—and is often found indulging in her love of cooking and planning her dream home in the country.

You can find Nic on Facebook, Twitter and her blog. She’d love it if you stopped by to say hi.

Website & Blog: http://www.nicstarr.com

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Nic-Starr/e/B00MAWRRQG/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nicki.nicstar

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/NicStarrAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/nicstar000

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/nicstar000/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8139967.Nic_Starr

 

Welcome to Sutphin Boulevard with Santino Hassell

July 31, 2015

Hey guys. I’m Santino Hassell and I’m dropping in on Dreamspinner’s blog to talk about SUTPHIN BOULEVARD—released today.

SUTPHIN BOULEVARD is a contemporary gay romance and features two teachers from Jamaica, Queens. Don’t know much about Jamaica? Don’t worry. It rarely comes up in pop culture and gets very little recognition despite being a hugely diverse neighborhood that houses major thoroughfares. Sutphin Boulevard itself is a hub of transportation, which includes the AirTrain to JFK International Airport. It’s the kind of the place people pass through but don’t linger around unless they live in the neighborhood.

Despite that description, certain parts of Jamaica have struggled with crime (especially in the 80s and 90s) and have large populations hovering on the poverty line. And that aspect of the area bleeds into the lives of Michael Rodriguez and Nunzio Medici in my new novel. They’re both intense passionate gay men whose choices are strongly influenced by their families and the neighborhood they grew up in. Even their career paths were motivated by a desire for the stability they didn’t have as kids (NYC has a pretty solid teachers’ union and strong benefits despite being unsurprisingly underpaid) as well as a passion to educate young people who may be dealing with the same barriers they managed to overcome.

Stress the word educate and not help ;) . They both judge idealistic people who go into teaching thinking they’re going to be stars of the next Freedom Writers or Dangerous Minds.

It would be a lie to say some of my own experiences didn’t bleed into writing this novel. I’ve worked in education, I practically grew up with my ex-wife’s large Puerto Rican family, my own family is Italian, and I also spent a lot of time in South Jamaica as a young adult. But I also really wanted to write an urban love story people could relate to even if they’ve never lived in a city like New York, and if they grew up in a quiet cul-de-sac instead of a checkered neighborhood like Jamaica.

There are authors who have mastered the ability to write characters people can relate to despite extraordinary circumstances. Jordan Castillo Price writes some of the most brilliant queer speculative fiction I’ve ever read but I can almost always connect with her characters. Take Desmond Poole in MEATWORKS—that book is set in a near-future filled with robots but Desmond’s problems (big and small) were almost a mirror of my own. The same could be said for the former rich kid Tom Worthington in Amy Jo Cousin’s novel OFF CAMPUS. My life is nothing like his, but I strongly related to his need for privacy, his trust issues, and the total lack of preparedness he had once he found himself caught out in the world completely on his own.

I wanted to follow in their footsteps with SUTPHIN BOULEVARD. My goal was to write a book that spoke to people no matter who they were or where they came from even if they picked up the book and thought they would never have anything in common with a couple of cynical New Yorkers. So hopefully while you’re reading about Michael’s and Nunzio’s teacher drama, raunchy sex, and even the darker moments, there will be moments when you stop, nod, and think “I’ve been there”.

Talk to me in the comments and let me know which books or characters you’ve had major text-to-self connections with and why.

© 2015 Santino Hassell.

 

Find Sutphin Boulevard on:

Dreamspinner Press | All Romance ebooks

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6532

https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-sutphinboulevard-1850450-149.html

 

Find me on:

My Website (www.santinohassell.com)

Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/santinohassellbooks)

Hassell & Hall FB Group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/HassellandHall/)

Twitter (https://twitter.com/SantinoHassell)

Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/santino_hassell)

Amazon (amazon.com/author/santinohassell)

 

Author Bio:

Santino is a dedicated gamer, a former fanfic writer, an ASoIaF mega nerd, a Grindr enthusiast, but most of all he is a writer of queer fiction that is heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, his belief that human relationships are complex and flawed, and his own life experiences.

Image Credits:

Under the Big Top with Jessica Walsh

July 29, 2015

Under the Big Top

Today is the day of my first Dreamspinner Press release – so please be kind and I hope you enjoy it.  I’m Jessica Walsh, from Minnesota and I’ve been writing published works for the last two years, however this is my first solo work.  Ironbound Kisses and my other work are all Urban Supernatural – you know, our world with a bit of fantasy and the unusual mixed in.  This is a genre I’ve always loved, because I always preferred to think that this world isn’t quite as normal as we all think it is.

As for the circus, where this novella takes place, this is the first time I’ve written a story in such a setting, and yet it seemed to fit perfectly because the circus is supposed to be a place of magic anyway.  So I had a lot of fun pulling back that curtain to show the back area – something we don’t generally see.  In Minnesota we only really have one circus and it’s not in the best area and shows like Cirque De Sol weren’t exactly what I was looking for.  So instead, I found my research in the oddest of places – Netflix, PBS and a few scattered childhood memories.

The whole magic of the circus is being able to get your popcorn and candy and spend a couple hours watching normal people do almost magical things before your very eyes.  There’s something about seeing real people do it in front of you that trumps the feeling of watching it on screen.  Sure, with television and movies the effects might be flashier, but there’s times when a little ‘in person’ magic can also be just as stunning.  Be it stunts, extreme skills with sharp objects, or tamed animals that act like docile pets, you have to admit that it’s easy to lose yourself in seeing these performers show off their skills.

I had the most fun with Thomas, the main character.  Since he starts the story interviewing for a job at the circus, his curtained view of that world is immediately taken away.  He, and the reader, get to almost immediately see the reality of circus life with the hard work, traveling and living in trailers behind the large tents.  The magic and performance is quickly stripped away for hard work and very simple lifestyle.

But what Thomas soon comes to discover is that there’s still something hidden at this circus and there’s still magic and mystery hiding in the trees and one of the trailers.  So even in the background, behind the scenes where it’s all pulled away, there’s still something left to be discovered.

Part of the fun of writing in Urban Fantasy relates back to a very personal part of my childhood.  I grew up needing glasses from the time I was three because I naturally saw double.  This meant, at night, when I wasn’t wearing glasses it was really easy to see that monster hiding behind my door, in the corner of my room and my closet.  And even if you showed me it was a pile of clothes in the morning, when the lights went out I was positive it was there.

As I got older and grew out of being scared of the monsters, glancing twice at shadows and things that looked strange was a second nature to me.  I’ll still do it now when I’m sitting at home or work and I hear a strange sound, even though I’m alone.  Call it ghosts, fairies or the house settling, I notice it a lot.  And it’s now become more of a game to make up stories about what might actually be there just beyond my sight.  Maybe there is a ghost rummaging through the fabric in my sewing room at night.  Maybe there is a fairy hiding in the rafters of our basement, taunting our kitties who can’t quite jump high enough.  Or maybe my house is just far too old for any of that and the wood creaks and the pipes clang.  Whatever the story, it’s a fun ride for the imagination, and more than a few of those thoughts have formed into outlines waiting to be written.

***

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Aside from Ironbound Kisses I’m currently working on an ongoing series with another Dreamspinner Author: Briana Lawrence .  She and I have been together for almost 14 years and actually met through our love of writing.  We spent years writing fanfiction together before we moved on to our own original works.  Seeking the Storyteller is the beginning of our long series set in Minnesota and also has a twist of supernatural in it, though this time it’s not as subtle.  We introduce a being called the Storyteller, who lives in a room of endless books full of the stories of people’s lives.  He has the power to read all those stories and change them, however he feels fit.

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You can find both of us, most days, either at or preparing for our next Anime Convention.  We wear costumes, sell our books and crafts in Artist Alley and can generally be found having fun with other convention goers all over the US.  So I suppose, in a way, I’m still working the fun and magical into my life – now I’m just doing it with a notebook and a couple Disney Princess dresses I’ve made.

***

So, what kind of magic is hiding at the edge of your world?  Are there dragons hidden in the marsh along your jogging path?  Fairies hidden in the cupboards above the work coffee machine?  Or maybe your dog chases little imps around the backyard trees.  Whatever it is, maybe you should take a second glance, because otherwise you might just miss it.

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Author facebook: https://www.facebook.com/storytellerhuntersseries

Blog: http://snowtigra.blogspot.com/

Website: http://www.sewntogetherreflections.com/books

 

Get Ironbound Kisses today!

IronboundKissesFS

The Fun’s in the Water with Andrew Grey #dreamer

July 25, 2015

When on a cruise the excursions in port are half the fun. And a few years ago I found out Dominic loves to snorkel. So since he’s in charge of the planning, we go on a snorkeling excursion on each cruise. The last time we were on Bonaire and I think it spoiled us for every other place we’ve visited. The snorkeling here is unlike any other place in the world. There are no rivers on Bonaire, so there is no runoff into the sea. The reefs have been protected for many years and are unbelievable.

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So Dominic found a private company and he booked the excursion. These people were amazing. They handled everything for us. The water there in January was a little chilly for me, so they loaned me a wet suit. That was awesome. They had sun shirts if we needed them. But I think the king of service was the Vaseline. Dominic and I have mustaches and the hostess was kind enough to slather Vaseline on them so the masks would fit well. It worked like a charm, I can tell you that. Of course once I got out of the water, I was washing the stuff off my lips for days.

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One other benefit of this particular trip was that there was a photographer along with us and he snapped some of the most amazing pictures, of the coral, sea life, and us. We saw sea turtles, scared up an octopus, coral of every kind, and even a sea horse. I can’t wait to see what kind of excursion Dominic books on our next trip.

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Man’s Best Friend with K. Lynn

July 22, 2015

-POP

Hello, all! K. Lynn here, talking about my new novella Must Love Dogs.

This novella was a labor of love and had its origination as an anthology piece. The story expanded outward and I wanted to see where it went, so the anthology submission didn’t happen. Instead, I went on a journey with my main characters, Colt and Ben and Dr. Jay, to discover how Ben’s recovery was still an ongoing process, but a determined veterinarian is going to be a vital part of that.

I’ve always been drawn to stories that feature characters dealing with life changes, including disabilities. For this story, I knew I wanted to focus on an artist who became blind, to delve into how he had to adapt and what that might mean for his future. However, it wasn’t until I was in the middle of writing that I realized just how challenging writing from the viewpoint of a blind character actually was. Ben can’t describe what’s going on around him visually, he doesn’t know what his new love interest looks like, so he must rely on other senses to ground him. I enjoyed the challenge, though. It stretched my creative muscles.

Ben took me places that I didn’t know I would go to, but that’s similar to all my characters. I never know what they might reveal, what kind of personality or secrets they might have, which makes the writing process all the more fun. With Ben, he has been through quite a lot in a short amount of time. He lost his boyfriend, his sight, and his livelihood. He has walled himself away to begin his recovery process, and his closest companion is his guide dog, Colt. When that connection is put in danger, Ben couldn’t realize what a fortunate situation it might actually turn out to be. He wasn’t looking for love, but it found him anyway.

Dr. Jay was a fun character to work with because he’s so different from Ben. He hasn’t been touched by tragedy, and he’s got a constantly upbeat outlook on life. All I knew going in was that he loved animals and he was going to fall in love with Ben. All the rest was up to Dr. Jay, and he certainly delivered. When Ben tries to push him away, Dr. Jay’s just that more determined to make their relationship work. And that determination is what helps see them through the ups and downs of what life throws at them.

And, of course, Ben and Dr. Jay would never have gotten together if it weren’t for Colt. He was their basis for introduction and remained a vital character throughout the story. Ben loves Colt, Dr. Jay does as well, and he is the third point in their triangle. The three of them together makes for a very strong unit, and I foresee Colt being an important part of a marriage ceremony if Ben and Dr. Jay make it down the aisle in the future. For now, he’s happy to stay by their sides and bask in the happiness that they are creating.

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Speaking of dogs, do you have a favorite? Maybe you prefer poodles over pugs. Great Danes over Greyhounds. Or are cartoon dogs your preference? Leave a comment with your favorite dog, real or otherwise.

 

I hope you enjoy Must Love Dogs, and the journey of Colt, Ben, and Dr. Jay. If you want to keep up with my current and future releases (it’s been a busy year for me so far!), you can check out my site at WriterKLynn.com or find me on Twitter @WriterKLynn.

Get your copy of Must Love Dogs here!

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Author bio:

K. Lynn has been an avid reader and writer since childhood. While in college, she increased her involvement in LGBT issues and writing within the LGBT fiction genre. She is a fan of authors who explore the commonality that exists within all sexualities and genders. Most of her own work features LGBT characters, many of whom are in established relationships and show how love perseveres. She has particular interest in seeing transgender characters gain a larger foothold within the genre and hopes the market for these works expands in the future.

 

Final Tigers on the Run Release Party Post with Sean Kennedy

July 13, 2015

Thank you all so much for hanging out with me here.  It was fun!  But it is midnight here, and I will have a peppermint tea, try to finish “The Goldfinch” and go to bed.  So exciting!

I hope you enjoy “Tigers on the Run”.  I never expected there to be more than one Tigers book, but there is something about Simon and Declan that makes me keep returning to them.

Well, that, and the fact that Simon never shuts up.

Don’t forget, if you ever have anything to ask, I can be found on Twitter and Facebook!

 

One last thing: GO TIGERS!

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Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby with Sean Kennedy

July 13, 2015

Sex.

 

Yeah, yeah.  I said the magic word.

 

One of the main criticisms levelled at the Tigers books, besides Simon’s unlikeability (which KILLS me, especially as I’ve now admitted my family think I’m him) is that there is very little sex on the page.

 

I don’t know why that should be a criticism, or why it should be expected that every m/m book must have steamy engorged-cock sex scenes every so often.  Not that there’s anything wrong with it.  My book with Catt Ford, Dash and Dingo, has much of the sexiness that occurs between two men.  Because it seemed suited to that style of story, which was in every way rooted in classic gay pulp tropes and adventure action tropes.

 

tumblr_nqgvn5tGv01su49fgo1_500.gifBut when I started writing Tigers, I thought Simon – despite wearing his heart on his sleeve – is also a pretty private person.  You just have to watch his interactions with his family.  Of course that improves with each book, but I guess Simon thinks some things are his business, and his business alone.  Okay, he might admit to Declan having a pretty cock in Book #3, but that was more to mortify him than anything else.

 

So let the curtains rustle in the windows and watch the fade to black occur whenever these boys retreat to the bedroom.  It’s their circus, and their circus alone.