RAOK Release Party: Hannah Kollef

February 16, 2015

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To celebrate the release of the Random Acts of Kindness anthology today, some of the authors will be sharing with you a little glimpse behind each of their stories.

 

Hello,

I’m Hannah Kollef, author of One Cold Night in Prague. I am so thrilled to be in the Random Acts of Kindness anthology with so many talented writers.

I was excited about this theme as soon as I saw it announced. With all the negativity in the news, it’s nice to see a book centered around that oft-overlooked quality, kindness. My story is a romance that comes of a thwarted pick-pocketing. I hope it will raise your spirits – writing it certainly raised mine.

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Photo of Prague, inspiration for my story

I based my story in Prague after spending almost two years there. Like John Jacob Jingleheimer – yes, his full name, and yes he knows the song – I was an English teacher. I fell in love with the city, its crumbling buildings and pastel painted Renaissance architecture, gaslit side streets, and dark stone angels that watch over its citizens. Consequently, everything in One Cold Night is based on my experience in the city, including the grand Orloj clock tower that is one of Prague’s crowning jewels. U Medviku is a real pub in the center of the city, though I’ve taken a few licenses with the insides.

Ivan’s giant, pub-dwelling dog is also based in fact. I don’t think I ever entered a pub in Prague that didn’t have a few dogs running around. In Prague dogs are like children to their owners, and are taken to offices, cafes, and parks with equal frequency. And how can you be sad in a place where Great Danes ramble around with tiny Chihuahuas?

I hope you enjoy Jacob and Karel’s story. Maybe it will remind you of your own Czech romance, or inspire you to visit and find one. If you have a story about European travels or Prague specifically, please contact me and share. I’m always happy to meet new friends.

(If you don’t have such a story, don’t let that stop you from reaching out!)

You can find my Dreamspinner work and more about me at http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/AuthorArcade/hannah-kollef. And please come visit my author website, HannahKollef.com, where you’ll find more information about my previously published novels and short stories.

I look forward to meeting y’all, and I hope you enjoy all the wonderful tales in Random Acts of Kindness.

All the very best,

Hannah Kollef

 

Check out Random Acts of Kindness here!

RAOK Release Party: Jessica Chase

February 16, 2015

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To celebrate the release of the Random Acts of Kindness anthology today, some of the authors will be sharing with you a little glimpse behind each of their stories.

 

The Healer and the Thief – Jessica Chase

For Tobias, busy with his life as the healer for a small village, life was simple.  He cared for those around him and lived alone.  One day though, his life would be turned upside down.

Vials on the table were pushed to the side, the herbs tangled together and out of the neat piles he had left them in. Some of the books had been knocked from the shelves, and the blankets were pulled from the boxes.

In this chaos, he finds Joshua hiding from the men who are after him.  A split second decision to look after Joshua will change both their lives forever.

This story was one that I had wanted to write for a long time.  I’ve grown up reading fantasy stories, and I wanted to bring the world that was inside my mind to life on the page.  Creating the relationship between Tobias and Joshua was fantastic fun, and it is definitely a world that I wanted to return to.  With so many stories focussed on sadness, I loved the chance to write something so full of joy and tenderness.   By showing the relationship between the two characters and the way that they learn to trust each other, I was able to create a world full of kindness, where one person’s trust can return to repay them a dozen times over.

So now that you know a little about my story, I’d love to hear about your own experiences.  Any random acts of kindness which have impacted upon your life, or split second decisions you made which changed everything?

 

This will be my first time publishing with DSP, and I can be found on the DSP website at http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/AuthorArcade/jessica-chase.  My writing blog can be found at JChaseStories.blogspot.co.uk, and I am on Twitter at @JChaseStories.  I love hearing from readers, so get in contact!

Check out Random Acts of Kindness here!

Random Acts of Kindness Coupon Code!

February 16, 2015

 

Want to get 25% off the ebook or paperback copy of Random Acts of Kindness?

Use RandomActs (case sensitive) when checking out at the Dreamspinner Press store to redeem the savings.  But hurry, this code lasts for 2 days starting today!

Check out Random Acts of Kindness here!

 

RAOK Release Party: Indra Vaughn & Lane Swi

February 16, 2015

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To celebrate the release of the Random Acts of Kindness anthology today, some of the authors will be sharing with you a little glimpse behind each of their stories.

 

Hi everyone! Thank you for stopping by. My name is Indra Vaughn and I’m here to talk to you about the Random Act of Kindness Anthology, specifically the story Two For Joy.

The tale takes place in the city of Lincoln, UK. I actually lived there for three years before I moved to Cambridge, and absolutely loved the small city so I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to use the setting. The view of the cathedral when you drive into town is breathtakingly stunning.

 

Indra_Lincoln Cathedral

 

When Matt, the main character in the story, arrives in Lincoln he’s a bit too overwhelmed to notice how beautiful the place is, though. He just got in from Belgium, only to find out the university doesn’t have the promised dorm room for him, so he’s homeless! He tries to find another place to live but has no luck until a gorgeous, tall British guy kindly offers to help him out. Matt quickly finds himself embraced by a slightly odd English family, and loves it.

Now, Matt was born with a congenital amputation: one leg ends just above the knee. When I grew up I had a friend who was born with one arm amputated below the elbow, and while we lost touch when she moved, I never forgot her. The completely fearless way she went at life had me admire her even at a very young age. How she faced stares from strangers and how she got around doing all the daily things I could barely do with two hands was amazing. (Like putting her hair in a ponytail. As a little kid this completely fascinated me, like only kids can be unselfconsciously fascinated by these things.)

So in a way Matt is my little tribute to her. His prosthetic leg is there, and it’s completely normal as far as he’s concerned, and if people want to stare at it that’s their problem.

Apart from Gran. Gran doesn’t mince her words and he loves her for it.

I hope you like this little story and I’d love to hear any and all feedback from you.

With me here is Lane Swift, whose story also takes place in England, but I’ll let her tell you all about it. We’re actually good friends, and I am absolutely thrilled that she’s in this anthology too. You will love her story guys, it’s absolutely amazing, and I hope it will serve as an introduction to other amazing things to come from Lane!

Have a wonderful day!

Indra

 

 

Hi! I’m Lane. Yes, Indra and I became friends when I lived in the USA, and have stayed friends even though I’m back in the UK now. Europeans have ways of finding each other, no matter what part of the world they’re in! I’ve read her story, and I know you’ll love it.

I thought I’d use this opportunity to elaborate on the setting for my anthology story, The Blue Umbrella. After that, I’ll be interviewing one of my characters, Vik. (The story is told from Andy’s point of view, and Vik wanted to get the chance to have his say.)

Land’s End is a rugged headland in Cornwall, England, characterised by high granite cliffs and crashing waves. It’s the most westerly place in mainland England. According to the font of all knowledge that is Wikipedia: Land’s End has a particular resonance because it is often used to suggest distance. Land’s End to John o’ Groats in Scotland is a distance of 838 miles by road and this … distance is often used to define charitable events such as end-to-end walks and races in the UK.

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In The Blue Umbrella, Andy Haynes, dying of cancer, completes what he believes is the final leg of his journey from John o’Groats to Land’s End. However, when he meets Vik, while sitting on a bench on the headland, he discovers his journeying isn’t quite over.

Me: What did you think when you first saw Andy, sitting alone on a bench looking out to sea?

Vik: I couldn’t see his face at first, but from the way he sat, he seemed sad. I wasn’t sure whether to approach him. I thought maybe he wanted to be alone. Something inside urged me to go ahead though, and I’m glad I did. When I spoke to him he looked at me and, although I could see he was unwell, he was still striking. Some people have that, don’t they? The ability to capture your imagination with just a look or a smile. That was definitely Andy.

Me: So you offered Andy your umbrella because you fancied him?

(Vik laughs and looks down into his lap. I think his cheeks are burning.)

Vik: No, I would have done the same for anyone. But maybe I wouldn’t have sat quite so close if it had been someone I wasn’t attracted to. (Vik smiles again.)

Me: What would you say to anyone who doesn’t believe a story with a dying man can have a happy ending?

Vik: Believe! Cornwall is a place of wonder and magic. Anything is possible.

 

I hope you enjoy the story!

Lane

 

Indra Vaughn Author Page Here.

Lane Swift Author Page Here.

Check out Random Acts of Kindness here!

RAOK Release Party: Tray Ellis

February 16, 2015

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To celebrate the release of the Random Acts of Kindness anthology today, some of the authors will be sharing with you a little glimpse behind each of their stories.

 

Not Exactly Deep Thoughts, But Neither Fluffy Ones, On Kindness, by Tray Ellis

For over a week now, I’ve been pondering what sort of topic would be interesting with respect to the latest anthology that Dreamspinner Press is publishing, Random Acts of Kindness.  I have a story in this anthology, “Never Waste a Good Left Turn”, and it follows the unexpected romance between uptight Leif and Jason, who is living by the seat of his pants.  Jason gives away kindness and favors as easily as breathing and all that good mojo comes back to him double fold. He lets Leif take a congested left hand turn in the mornings, and after an auto accident, Leif stops to repay the favor.

But no satisfying topic jumped out at me.  (Other than possibly traffic, because the story deals with commuting and traffic, and everyone hates that.  But writing about it is a surefire way to make everyone cross, so better to concentrate elsewhere!)  I paid attention to my own life, weighing good deeds and bad, hoping to find something to tie in, but nothing seemed quite right.

But then I started to think about my own reactions to the kindnesses and unkind acts happening to me and all around me.  These things really, really matter.  They become talking points and topics of conversation, debates spark from their occurrences.  People remember them, long after they should have passed into obscurity.  Our lives can take direction from even the smallest incident, or the most carelessly spoken sentence.

And that is an excellent reason to delve into this anthology.  Fourteen different writers pondered deeply on this topic and then crafted stories where kindness matters and makes a difference.  All of them are focused on the better elements of human nature with romance all tucked in. Uplift your spirits! Who doesn’t need a little bit more kindness in their life?  This anthology provides it!

 

Tray Ellis Author Page Here.

Check out Random Acts of Kindness here!

RAOK Release Party: Reni Kieffer + Exclusive Prequel!

February 16, 2015

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To celebrate the release of the Random Acts of Kindness anthology today, some of the authors will be sharing with you a little glimpse behind each of their stories.

 

Steve and Alec appeared to me one night without warning to tell me about kindness. They showed up nameless and insisted on staying that way for a long while. Because names are not the important piece of information in The Blue Arrow. Steve and Alec could be anyone, and who knows what might happen, if we reach out a hand and show some compassion to a stranger, without expecting anything in return. Be kind once in a while. Be selfless. There is beauty in altruism, and if, by chance, you find a friend, a lover, or even a spouse in the process, there is magic in it, too.

 

Here’s an exclusive prequel to The Blue Arrow:

 

“I used to see him everywhere. The boy with the ruffled hair, the lanky posture of youth and the hat askew on his head. He seemed to follow me. I saw him at the airport as I left home, at the side of the road, next to me on the train, when I still could afford to travel.

I haven’t been able to do that in a while. My current means of transport are my own two feet. I walk a lot. Sometimes, I just wander the streets all day, trying to find something, a solution, maybe, or maybe just inspiration, I don’t know. Some days I don’t even bother to get up. I just lie there in my tiny corner and stare past the bricks and the concrete at the sky, watch the clouds drift by like my own tattered thoughts. And I wonder. What to do. How to change again. Why. Sometimes, the cold is so exhausting that I imagine my bones freezing inside my body, and I don’t dare move for fear they might break.

The cold is the worst.

I can deal with hunger and thirst and the lack of hygiene. I can deal with the violence and the social shabbiness, the looks and the ignorance of the lucky ones who are better off than us. But the cold wears me down. No matter how many clothes you manage to pull on (and I don’t own a whole lot of clothes anymore), no matter who grants you shelter for the night, and no matter how many blankets and how much soup they offer, the cold is insistent. Once it has its teeth dug into your bones, there’s no way to get rid of it again.

It even drove the boy away. He, who has formed my fate before and has led me here of all places with his blue arrow, was driven away by the bitterness of this winter. And even though the loss of him feels like a missing limb, I understand him perfectly.

That morning, I saw him again. He was leaning against the wall outside the place I never walk into. I can’t afford the food, no matter how cheap their daily offer, and the tables are too polished, and the girl behind the counter looks like someone who would regard me with pity. I cannot stand someone this beautiful feeling sorry for me. But the boy insisted and with some trepidation I crossed the street and entered the place. And then his blue arrow hit me right in the back. Again.”

 

Reni Kieffer Author Page Here.

Check out Random Acts of Kindness here!

Random Acts of Kindness Release Party: Fil Preis

February 16, 2015

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To celebrate the release of the Random Acts of Kindness anthology today, some of the authors will be sharing with you a little glimpse behind each of their stories.

 

Hi, this is Fil Preis, and for “Random Acts of Kindness” I’m excited to present my first fantasy romance, “The Cambion’s Servant.” I’ve long been a fan of fantastic fiction but my first few romances have all been set in the contemporary world. With “The Cambion’s Servant” I went back to my fantasy roots just far enough to turn some tropes upside down!

A lot of fantasy stories are about a youth finding his way in a magical world, often with the assistance of an older and wiser mentor. And in romance, you don’t have to look too far to find stories about virgins being initiated by sexually experienced partners, or innocents being seduced by darkly sexy rogues. The call for “Random Acts of Kindness” gave me a chance to play with some characters who have a somewhat different dynamic.

Tomas is an orphan only just come of age, thrown out of the hermitage where he was raised after refusing to become a priest under the dour, strict Father Denego. Gavin is a cambion—half man, half demon—and as such, an outcast who makes his living as a mercenary. Dangerous and fierce, anyone would expect Gavin to be the one with dark designs on an innocent like Tomas.

Instead, Gavin is the one who goes out of his way to defend Tomas when his employer tries to take advantage of him. And Tomas, very quickly, warms to his strange defender. What Tomas doesn’t know is that there’s an unspoken reason why Gavin intervened on his behalf. And if Tomas wants to experience love firsthand, it’s up to him to make the first move…and the second.

 

Here’s an excerpt:

Tomas leaned over to take a look at his new Master in the light of day.
Those eagle eyes were closed in sleep, but the man’s lip had curled back, revealing a hint of fang. The feathers in his hair were not decorations. They actually grew right out of his scalp.
Cambion. Half man, half demon.
He was handsome, yet terrifying. Or…he would be frightening, if he wasn’t asleep.
Slowly, Tomas’s panic subsided. Gavin had had all night to hurt Tomas if he’d wished to. Maybe Tomas had no reason to be afraid.
Still, Tomas thought it would be wise for him to be a good servant. He rose from the blankets and set about making a fire. He found a pan, a cup, a full water-skin and some dried sacks of tea in Gavin’s pack. By the time the cambion finally stirred, Tomas was waiting to press the cup, filled with hot tea, into his gloved hands.
Gavin accepted the drink and sipped from it. “You’re still here,” the cambion remarked, his voice low and gravelly.
“Why are you surprised? You saved me. Rulio would have taken my virtue and perhaps also my life. I swore to serve you, and I…I stand by my word.”
“Heed me well. I no longer believe in serving or keeping servants. It is too easy for one who owns another’s labour to believe he owns that person’s body and soul as well.” Gavin stretched out a gloved finger and pointed it at Tomas. “Remember this always—your will is your own.”
“And if my will is to go with you?”
The cambion’s lips curved in an expression that, though stern, was definitely a smile.
“Then make some of that tea for your own, and fortify yourself. This morning we hunt, and this afternoon we travel north.”

 

I hope you enjoy “The Cambion’s Servant” and discover the magic than can result from a random act of kindness.

 

Fil Preis Author Page Here.

Fil Preis on Facebook Here.

 

Check out Random Acts of Kindness here!

Illusions – My inspiration for the Book

February 13, 2015

Hi, it’s S.A. again. I’ll be on the DSP blog until noon today and back again around 5pm EST until Midnight.

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Today is the release day for my very first novel, Illusions and I wanted to share with you my start in writing. In February 2013, I was laid off from my job of twenty-two years. After getting over the initial panic, I started the endless chore of trying to find a job. My day consisted of filling out online resumes and eating. Can you say, “stress eater”?

I was watching a few You Tube videos during my down time and I saw a fan video made with The Kill – by 30 Seconds to Mars. It featured one of my favorite actors and my crush, Sebastian Stan, from his old television show, “Kings”. I remembered how much I love the show and how angry it made me that the Prince (Sebastian’s character) hadn’t been able to be with his boyfriend (a non-noble) due to his title and his father saying he could never be gay and be the King.

I had wanted to write a m/m love story for a long time and this video gave the idea for Illusions. I needed someone unattainable so I went with what I know – Hollywood. Since we’ve all have had out celebrity crushes, I thought that maybe it would be fun to write a love story between a Hollywood celebrity and a non-celeb type person. I chose a firefighter because I think they are heroic and all kinds of amazing.

Below is the You Tube video that started it all for me..well for Illusions. But first, tell me, have you ever had a crush on a celebrity? If so, who and why?

Link: e-book  http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6041

Link: paperback http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6042

That’s a wrap!

February 12, 2015

Well everyone, this will be my last post. Thank you for joining me! It was great fun, and I appreciate your enthusiasm for my latest release. I shall be back on the DSP blog in March for “The Serpent and the Angel” release party.

 

As a farewell / Valentine’s Day gift, here’s another excerpt!

 

When he finally managed to reach the cashier after loading two fucking carts full of food, he noticed a tall, broad man whom he recognized. He smiled. The man’s girth might be intimidating, but he was a self-proclaimed teddy bear, despite the fact he was a cougar shifter.

“Morning, Travis.”

Travis, who was also Sheriff Jack’s mate, turned and smiled back. His dark blond hair was neatly trimmed just below his ears, and his eyes were a pretty light blue framed by wire-rimmed glasses that actually didn’t look too bad on him.

Travis eyed Xavier’s carts and looked amused. “Expecting a nuclear attack?”

Xavier snorted. “You’d think so, right? No. Apparently, the workers and patients expect us to feed them.”

“The nerve of them.”

They both chuckled.

“So, are you ready for Valentine’s Day?” Travis asked as he finished his purchase and moved out of line. Xavier pushed his carts up and started handing things to the cashier, a young teen girl who looked bored as she chewed gum.

“Huh? Valentine’s Day?”

“Yeah, the day after tomorrow.”

Xavier gave him a blank look. Travis shrugged. “Just thought you and Josh would want to celebrate since it’s your first. But that’s fine if you don’t; not everyone does. Jack personally hates it. He says it’s ‘commercial love.’”

“So, you don’t celebrate it?”

“In our own way we do.”

“What do you do?”

“We go out to Sanctuary, get furry, and run around like children.” Travis’s grin widened. “Then we fuck like animals. Works for us.”

Xavier smiled at the anticipation in Travis’s eyes. It was nice to see how someone who’d been a victim of the Knights himself could move past it and find joy in life. Travis had been captured as a teen along with his entire family. He’d been the only one to survive but had been blinded by the experiments the Knights had subjected him to. With the help of an operative from the Agency, he’d managed to regain partial sight, which was helped along with a pair of glasses.

He also knew a little of what Travis had gone through to become mates with Jack. Jack was part of the largest pack in Haven, but not its leader. That would be Jack’s father, Jeffrey. There had been considerable resistance to Jack mating with a cougar shifter, and it reminded Xavier of his own pack. They considered wolf shifters far superior to any other shifter, and it had been one of the reasons he’d left. He was glad to know not all wolf packs were willing to lose one of their own simply because of who he was in love with.

“You think I should celebrate it? I never have before.” Xavier winced at the price that showed on the monitor, despite the fact the Agency was paying for everything. He handed the cashier the Agency’s credit card.

“Like I said, up to you. It just seems to me that Josh’s one who might want to celebrate.”

Xavier frowned, considering. Travis was right. Dammit. Xavier loaded the bags into the carts, and Travis walked with him out of the store.

“I really don’t know if we could carve out the time,” Xavier said. “We’re busy from sun up to sun down and barely do more than sleep when night hits.”

“Well, that’s all the more reason to find the time, don’t you think?”

Xavier shrugged. “I suppose.”

Travis helped Xavier load the truck before giving him a firm pat on the back. Travis smiled again, nothing but friendly and open.

“Even if it wasn’t Valentine’s Day, I think a night off is just what you guys need. Like you said, you’ve been working hard ever since you arrived. You didn’t even get any sort of honeymoon, did you?”

Xavier smirked. “Not really. We just sort of dove into this whole counseling clinic thing.”

“What better reason do you need to plan something?” Travis nodded as if the matter was settled. “Trust me, Xavier, time has a way of getting away from you. Jack and I have been together nearly two years now, and I don’t know where the time went.”

“Thought you two were friends before you were mates.”

“We were. That time went pretty fast as well.” Travis’s eyes glazed slightly, and Xavier knew Travis was seeing something he couldn’t.

Travis shook himself, looking a little embarrassed. “Besides, Haven likes to take advantage of any sort of holiday. Not many stores will be open, and the ones that will, they’ll be closed probably half the day. Any excuse not to work, right? You should take advantage of that; I do.”

“What are you talking about? You’re a writer. That’s not actual work.”

Travis snorted. “Hey, watch it. Writing’s hard. It’s a job just like any other.”

Xavier raised an eyebrow. “I’m not convinced. You can do it at home in nothing but your underwear. Hell, you can do it naked.”

Travis laughed. It was a full-bellied laugh that caused Xavier’s mouth to twitch.

“You know, I think Jack might enjoy that. But then he’d probably jump me, and I’d get no work done. See how hard it is?”

“Oh yeah, so hard.” Xavier rolled his eyes.

Travis took slow breaths, calming. “Anyway, if you need any help, or suggestions, just let me know.”

“Thanks.”

 

Thank you my lovelies and…

May dragons guard your dreams,

M.D. Grimm

 

Remember – to learn more about my series and where it’s going, check out my blog at: http://www.mdgrimmwrites.com/#!Shifters-explained/c1o5e/3AB7F857-F8F4-4032-829D-A151576ED328

 

And please check out my website in general, it’s gorgeous, I swear!

Music and books

February 12, 2015

Here’s the link to my The Shifters part 1 book trailer – check it out! I had a lot of fun making it and it is office appropriate.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MDh7v193dFE&feature=youtu.be

 

Let me know what you think! Good, bad, meh? Be honest!

I plan to do another trailer when all of Part 2 is published.

 

I often listen to music when I write and it’s often instrumental – but not just any instrumental. I love EPIC music!

 

I listened to the following groups a lot when I wrote “Hearts and Minds” and they are very inspiring, and I don’t have to focus on them, like I do if there are lyrics. They fade into the background but not all the way.

 

A couple of my favorites are: Two Steps from Hell, E.S. Posthumus, and Mary McLaughlin (piano, Irish).

Here are some links to my favorite albums on YouTube. (all work appropriate – you’re welcome)

Two Steps from Hell: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL7B16C924C1FAD7BD

E.S. Posthumus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmbuwZXtsS0

 

My question to you is – What music do you listen to: to write, read, clean the bathroom, whatever? Fav artists, music groups, musicians…? I want to know!

 

-M.D.