Get to Know P.D. Singer

February 3, 2015

DSP: Give us some inside information about the leads in your new book, A New Man.

PD: Our MCs are a couple of students at the University of Colorado, sharing an apartment. Warren’s a grad student in an organic chemistry lab, who has a silent crush on his roommate. He’s not about to make a pass at Chad, who seems straight, but he can wish. Chad’s friendzoned every girl he’s dated, and there is that inevitable question… What if?

Chad’s also a scientific type, so—get some data. With Warren. Oh yeah, there are some curled toes, but some problems to go with it, which the poor guys will spend the rest of the book resolving.

I had some fun with intelligent, athletic, and sweet Chad. Cue Halestorm’s “Mz. Hyde.” Or Mr. Hyde, in this case. Muwhhaahaaah…. Oh, sorry. I got carried away there.

Chad traded skin-tight Speedos and competitive swimming for padded suits and a (insert phallic euphemism here). Oh, get your minds out of the gutter. He’s on the fencing team! Warren has a five year plan, and a ten year plan, and give him a calculator and a half-hour and he’ll solve your biggest problem. Just don’t get in his way or attempt to push around folks he cares about. Need help with homework? He’s your best friend. Hurt his loved one? Moving to another state might be a good idea.

Did I mention the rats? Oh, yes, there are rats! And not just the ones in the Terry Prachett book that Chad adores. Warren’s best buddy Gabrielle has a whole lab full, so cute with white fur and pink toes. Wait! Where’d Warren go? Warren, come back here. You dropped your chemistry journal! I promise you don’t have to hold a rat. Much.

DSP: What is the most challenging thing about writing gay romance for you?

PD: When I think of two characters who’d be perfect for each other, it seems like they’re looking at me saying, “Hey, lady! Just get out of our way and let us be in love!” I want them to be happy, so my first inclination is to go directly to the HEA.

Everyone’s pleased, right? No!

They’re humping like bunnies and we have no story. I have this here plot they’re supposed to star in.

So I have to remind myself they aren’t perfect for each other yet, and then I torture them make them work twice as hard for their happiness.

DSP: What are some of your writing inspirations?

One of my local libraries has a rotating display, where they set out a number of books on a theme. It could be fiction or non-fiction. My challenge to myself is to check out the book in the lower left corner, no matter what it is, just to keep my horizons stretched. I’ve found some great reads, some mehs, some DNFs, and a couple of plot bunnies.  The Rare Event was spawned from one challenge book. Another provided medical insight for the character that became Chad in A New Man.

There are also bit and pieces of my own adventures mixed into the stew. Allan’s fall on the ski slopes (Fall Down the Mountain) was, alas, my own tumble. The prototypes for Kurt, Jake, and their tanker (Fire on the Mountain, etc) found my Cub Scouts while on a camping trip, and yes, we danced in the spray from the fire truck’s hose—only not with shirtless rangers. Warren would have fit right into the chemistry lab where I worked as an undergrad (although I probably had more explosions).

DSP: Do you have characters from your writing that haunt you?

Once I’ve told their stories completely, my characters tend to leave me alone. If someone is unquiet in my head, they have further adventures that I will have to write, sooner or later. Davis from The Rare Event is one such, though I don’t know what his story will be yet. Jake and Kurt make themselves known periodically, which fits with the partial stories on the hard drive.

DSP: Your profile says you measure your cats by the pound. Why? How many cats in thirty pounds?

Two, if they’re behemoths like mine. I used to have thirty-five pounds of cats, but Old Man Cat is getting skinnier with age. He’s almost eighteen. I’ve measured them by weight ever since both of them sat on my lap at the same time and squished me with love.

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P.D. Singer lives in Colorado with her slightly bemused husband, two rowdy teenage boys, and thirty pounds of cats, all of whom approach carefully when she’s in a writing frenzy. She’s a big believer in research, first-hand if possible, so the reader can be quite certain P.D. has skied down a mountain face-first, been stepped on by rodeo horses, acquired a potato burn or two, and will never, ever, write a novel that includes sky-diving.

When not writing, playing her fiddle, or skiing, she can be found with a book in hand. Her husband blesses the advent of ebooks — they’re staving off the day the house collapses from the weight of the printed page.

Find P.D. on Twitter, Facebook, Facebook author page, her blog, and Goodreads

EU Tax Laws and Dreamspinner Press

January 26, 2015

Dreamspinner Press is proud to be international publishers of quality gay romantic fiction. Currently in addition to English, Dreamspinner Press publishes books in German, Italian, French, and Spanish. Dreamspinner Press books can be purchased around the globe.

Some of our international readers have recently commented on higher tax rates on ebooks purchased at the Dreamspinner Press store. The reason is as of January 1, 2015, the European Union (EU) changed the tax law regarding the sale of digital goods, including ebooks. All retailers, including Dreamspinner Press, are required to track the location of buyers and apply the appropriate VAT tax based on that country’s specific VAT rate. The collected VAT tax is sent quarterly to each of the 28 EU countries with a VAT return. Companies selling digital goods, like Dreamspinner Press, are required to maintain records for audit for ten years. Click here for more information on VAT taxes.

We truly value our international readers as part of the Dreamspinner Press family.  We want to continue offering quality gay romantic fiction to our international readers and must therefore comply with local tax laws.

As always, Dreamspinner Press will continue to offer frequent discounts and coupon codes to help stretch all readers’ book budgets. The Dreamspinner Press weekly newsletter often has coupon codes so subscribe here to receive yours.

If you have further questions please email contact@dreamspinnerpress.com.

Happy reading!

The Wheat Paste Heart by Tray Ellis

January 6, 2015

“You know this is illegal, right?”

Saxon only paused for a moment to shrug his shoulders and then he continued to apply the homemade wheat paste to the wall with the small paint roller.  Tonight he was installing a series of small posters, ranging from the size of his hand to that of the front of a folded out newspaper.  He’d been working on this project for weeks.  If he had to get caught, he’d have wanted it to be after the display was up and set, but he’d have preferred not to found out at all. He was caught, but he wasn’t stopped. Not yet.  So he kept working.

With the concrete retaining wall covered in sticky, wet paste Saxon put the roller away into a plastic bag and retrieved the folder containing his artwork. He flipped it open to reveal the overall schematic. He’d been doing guerrilla art for nearly a year and a lot of it had been trial and error, but now he had some knowledge and tonight’s project was the culmination of a lot of effort.  The location was risky, but it had been too important not to attempt.  It made all the difference and he wasn’t going to back away.

“If you get caught, you’re going to be in a lot of trouble.”

That made Saxon turn to address his unexpected visitor. “If?” he asked. It seemed the most important aspect of the previous statement.

James scuffed his foot on the ground and it was difficult to read his expression in the nighttime darkness. “I’m not a snitch,” he said.

Saxon thought about that for a moment.  “Thanks,” he finally said.  He looked around him, considering.  It was the middle of the night and he was in a generally non-visible section of a pathway near his high school.  A concrete retaining wall had been built into the ground with a direct sightline from the path, which kids used constantly during the day.  If James was traveling here at this time of night, then he’d been sneaking out as well.  Probably it was more trouble to mention this fact than it’d be worth to confront James with it, and besides, it seemed he wasn’t going to reveal Saxon’s complicity.    ”I only need fifteen more minutes and this’ll be done,” Saxon added and then he returned to his task.

James moved closer, hovering, and glancing at Saxon’s materials.  “What are you doing? Can I help?”

“Sure.”  Saxon handed over the schematic.  “I’m putting these up.  Make sure I have it all in the right place.  Each piece will be part of the whole picture.”

James squinted at the schematic.  The moon was almost full in the clear night sky, shedding a lot of light, but it would still be hard to read. Saxon had waited for the perfect night.  He’d needed enough natural moonlight to work without a flashlight and good weather.  It had rained heavily for the past week and tonight had seemed optimum.

Saxon didn’t need to review the drawing.  He already knew by heart where everything went.

The overall design incorporated more than two dozen drawings of hot air balloons.  Each balloon was heart-shaped with a unique pattern. Each basket below held a single individual.  They were all arranged to seem to float magnificently and peacefully in the sky.  Below them were a handful of terrible, savage creatures with mean eyes and frightful postures, holding different types weapons. Saxon had adorned each with a capital B on their chest, painted bright scarlet, and he had to thank Mr. Beezy someday for the extra reading assignments or else he wouldn’t have known to make that connection.  One of the tormentors had hit his mark.  There was a ragged hole in a beautiful balloon and it was losing altitude, about to crash to the earth.  The individual in the basket was certainly doomed.

Saxon placed the very last piece of paper onto the pasted wall, smoothing it in place so that it adhered strongly:  STOP BULLYING.

He stepped back to look over the entire scene.  The whole installation was over fifteen feet wide and six feet high. The adrenaline he’d felt rushing through him the whole night ebbed away.  He felt calm and serene, his heart as full and light as the hot-air balloons.  Tomorrow, everyone would see it.

“Wow,” James said.

“It has to stop.”  Saxon was tired.  Tired of hiding who he was and tired of waiting, always waiting for some distant day in the future when it would get better. He was tired of being afraid, tired of letting slip that he had different ideas about boys and girls than most of his schoolmates. He looked over at James. “You won’t tell?”

He didn’t know James well. They had different classes and different interests.  James was athletic, but wasn’t a star performer.  He was smart, but not top of the class.  He blended in and never made waves.  Suddenly, he realized that James might be more like him than not.  People who were different sometimes spent their whole lives hiding in plain sight.

“I won’t tell,” James promised, with the solemn childhood gesture of crossing a finger over his heart. He held out a hand.

Saxon looked at it for a moment, surprised.  Then he reached out and shook.  It felt odd and very grown-up.

“If you do something like this again, call me.  I’ll help.”

“Okay,” Saxon said. Then James helped him stuff the last of his materials into his backpack and, convinced he hadn’t left any telltale evidence behind, they exchanged a last serious look, and each went their own way into the dark.

______________________________

Tray Ellis grew up with two brothers and many cats and dogs. Her family loves to cook, eat, sit around talking, and quote old movies at each other. The more laughter the better, and her family loves to laugh. Tray has a completely romantic view of autumn, and thinks it is the perfect season and an excellent source of writing inspiration. When she isn’t writing, she keeps busy by jogging, fishing, cooking, baking, and keeping her home in some semblance of order. (Perhaps she has completely exaggerated that her home is in any kind of order whatsoever.) She can be found at her website and Facebook.

Get to Know K.C. Wells

January 6, 2015

Do any of your characters haunt you and if so, why?

I really don’t think any of my characters haunt me. Sean’s predicament in Learning to Love: Final Exam, now, that’s another matter. I cried writing those scenes. Even now when I read the scene before he goes in for surgery, I tear up.  What comes across is how scared he is – and how much he loves his husband Michael.

Please give us the inside scoop on your upcoming release, A Bond of Three.

This was one of my first ideas for a book, back in 2012, only it wouldn’t leave me alone. Having said that, the novel changed direction when I got to the chapter introducing Prince Sorran. He was….different. And when I got my head around that, I suddenly had a very different plan for the story.

I met with author Chris Quinton in the summer of 2012, when she came to visit the Isle of Wight where I live. I outlined the story for her. She listened intently, and when I’d finished, she looked me in the eye and said, “you have to write that book.” Whoa.

I admit to being a little nervous. So far I’ve written either contemporary or BDSM. This was A, an MMM story, B, a fantasy and C with an added dash of paranormal for good measure – yeah, nothing liked anything I’d written to date. When I first started sending chapters to my betas, I was getting the same response….

“I don’t like fantasy.”

“I don’t like ménage.”

“Hell, woman, give me MORE!!!!”

I sent an advance copy to a friend who doesn’t normally ‘do’ ménage – three guesses what her response was? LOL

So yes, I am awaiting the response from my readers with mixed feelings.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?

HA! My close friends would say, “But she’s always writing!!!!” Er, I read, I love watching movies, I knit, I used to paint, but writing is far more satisfying. But there’s always my notebook not far away – I’ve learnt by now to keep it close. Ideas come ALL the time! But yes, it’s true that if I were writing more, I’d be a happy bunny.

What’s one of your guilty pleasure?

OOOH….Snuggling up with a good book, usually one that I know really well – the Deviations series by Chris Owen, ANY of the Jarhead series by Sean Michael,  the Jock Dorm series by Bobby Michaels, (One of the first MM series I ever read and I still love them)

Then there’s my other guilty pleasure… and nope, you’re hearing NOTHING about that one! ;-)

_____________________________

Born and raised in the north-west of England, K.C. Wells always loved writing. Words were important. Full stop. However, when childhood gave way to adulthood, the writing ceased, as life got in the way.

K.C. discovered erotic fiction in 2009, where the purchase of a ménage storyline led to the startling discovery that reading about men in love was damn hot. In 2012, arriving at a really low point in life led to the desperate need to do something creative. An even bigger discovery waited in the wings—writing about men in love was even hotter….

K.C. now writes full time and is loving every minute of her new career. The laptop still has no idea of what hit it… it only knows that it wants a rest, please. And it now has to get used to the idea that where K.C goes, it goes.

K.C. can be reached via e-mail, on Facebook, or through comments at the K.C. Wells website. K.C. loves to hear from readers.

Get to Know Skylar M. Cates

December 2, 2014

How did you come up with the title for The Guy series?

That’s a funny story. I had a title for the series all planned out. Book one was to be titled Better than Candy, and the series titled the “Better Than” series. Well, right after I submitted book one, my fellow DSP author Lane Hayes came out with a book called Better Than Good.  Yikes!  I had to find something else and fast. Since book one was set in the fictitious town of Glamour, I decided to call it The Guy from GlamourThe Guy series was born from that decision. I think it all worked out for the best!

Do you have a favorite couple that you’ve written?

No, but I do get obsessed with whatever couple I’m focused on most recently. My new series, for example, has the first book releasing in February, and I fell hard for this couple. I never intended to write Cole and Ian’s story at all. It came rushing out like a locomotive. Their story involves sudden tragedy. It gave me all kinds of strong feels to write, and I hope readers will embrace it. It’s called Here for You and will be out in February. What I love about the story is that it’s also a story of friendship. It revolves around five roommates in South Florida and the strong bond they all have for each other. Today it is my favorite, but tomorrow I’ll have a totally different answer.

The truth is I fall in love with different aspects of each MC.

My two December releases have four guys to love. Evan, from The Holiday Hoax, is self-deprecating and sweet— a combination I love—while JD is lonely and shy.   Henry from The Last Guy Breathing has gone through the awful dating scene and needs some love. Locke is flawed yet deeply protective, which is another combination I fall for in a character.

What are some of your favorite books, music and movies?

My kids are watching School of Rock this week, and I adore this movie.  I love many of Robin Williams’s films, especially The World According to Garp. And let’s see… Since it is the holiday season, I would pick A Christmas Story and It’s a Wonderful Life as two favorite holiday flicks.

As for music, I like classic and current rock. Some of my favorites would be The Killers, Aerosmith, and Train.   I enjoy putting on a fun dance band too like the B52s or The Black Eyed Peas. I love dancing, but I do most of my dancing in my living room these days.

Books would be impossible to name only a few favorites. Sorry!  I seriously fall in love with a new book every other month.

Can you briefly share what your writing process is?

Get butt into chair and write, lol. I write as much as possible, but I don’t write daily. My kids, my messy house, and my other responsibilities often steal the time away. I’d love to be one of those Type A writers who charts their progress and counts their daily words, but it never seems to happen for me. As long as I see the novel developing, though, I’m satisfied to follow my own haphazard process.  Once the first draft is complete, I’ll go through several more versions with tough self-edits and beta readers before submitting it. I’m tough on myself and it is hard to let the WIP go.

Cake or pie? Coffee or tea? Chocolate or peanut butter?

Pie  ( I love all kinds)

Coffee (I can never drink enough)

Both (Why pick between chocolate and peanut butter? Reese’s is fine with me)

Happy holidays!

___________________________

Skylar M. Cates loves a good romance. She is quite happy to drink some coffee, curl up with a good book, and not move all day. Most days, however, Skylar is chasing after her husband, her kids, and her giant dog, Wasabi. Skylar dreams about spending her days writing her novels, walking along the beach, and making more time for her good friends. On a shoestring budget, Skylar has traveled all over in her early years. Although, lately, the laundry room is the farthest place she has visited, Skylar still loves to chat with people from all around the globe. Visit Skylar on her website.

The House on F Street by Christopher Hawthorne Moss

December 2, 2014

When I woke that morning, I was alone in the bed.  This was not unusual as Rufus often got up early to take his “customary constitutional on Constitution”, but I was sorry anyway.  Last night had been lovely, sweet and passionate at the same time.  After nights like that I always wanted to wake up in his arms.

I heard the door to my bedchamber open slowly and twisted my head to see if it was he.  “Oh, it’s you, Annie.”  Out of kindness to the girl, I hoped she did not hear the disappointment in my voice.

“A good mornin’ to you, Senator,” she replied in her brogue.  Annie is our maid of all work and came straight to Washington from somewhere near Limerick.  “I am here to open your curtains and to see if you’ll be after comin’ down for breakfast or want to have a tray brought up.”

I sat up in bed and made sure my nightshirt wasn’t a scandal.  “Is the Senator at home?” I asked her hopefully.

“Himself is not, sir,” she answered, grasping the heavy curtains and thrusting them apart with a clatter of the curtain rings.  “Senator King went out quite early this morning.”

I sighed.  It was a special day, you see.  It was St. Valentine’s Day, and I so wanted to spend it with, well, my paramours is a word I have heard it called.  I am sure the wags in Congress have unkinder terms than that.  I had hoped to breakfast with Rufus on this special day of all days.  I knew he had not forgotten, as he had made reference to the occasion when we lay together in my bed last evening.

“I shall take my meal in here then.  Will you be a dear and hand me my dressing gown?”

A neat and prim little woman, no older than 25, Annie was a country girl and seemingly blessedly ignorant of the ways of the world.  I once overheard her speaking with the boy who delivers produce talking in low tones.  He appeared to have been telling her how my old friend Andrew Jackson called me “Miss Nancy” and my dear Rufus “Aunt Fancy”.  She must have expressed some confusion as I saw him lean to her and whisper something in her ear.  She drew back with a look of horror on her face and exclaimed, “Jack, no!  Senator Buchanan is a very respectable statesman, so he is.  He and Senator. King are just housemates.  I never heard such a shameful thing in all me days,” she went on.  “I am thinkin’ you have a filthy mind, Jack Hamilton.”

I was loath to believe that she was that innocent, I must tell you.  But then so young and just off the boat, who knows?  I saw to it she got a stern talking to by our cook, Mabel, who impressed upon the girl the importance of not sharing tales with the likes of delivery boys.

I had breakfasted and dressed and decided to go into my study and read up on two bills that my party would bring to a vote in the afternoon.  I took my seat by the small fireplace to read when I happened to look up at the mantelpiece.  I sat and stared for a moment, sensing something missing.  I realized with a start that the empty place on the wall was where my painting of Mr. Jackson, Old Hickory, should be. It was a gift from him.   “My stars!” I exclaimed.  I shot up from my chair and flew to the door.  When I was in the hall I shouted, “Annie!  Come here this instant!”

In a moment the girl was standing before me, her eyes wide and her hands twisting anxiously in her apron.  “Whatever be amiss, sir?” she asked.

“That!” I said, pointing to the bare spot on the wall.

She peered in the direction I indicated.  “Sir?”

“See for yourself!” I accused.

She crept past me, crossing the room to peer closely at the wall.  She carefully looked all around, her nose no more than a few inches from pressing against the wallpaper.  She reached up a pale finger and touched a spot.  She finally turned to me with a perplexed expression.  “I be that sorry, Senator, but I’m not findin’ anything amiss.”

Making an impatient harrumph, I stated, “That is just what I mean, girl.  You don’t see anything amiss… because what should be there is missing.”

She turned back and looked, then threw up her hands and said, “Saints preserve us!  Why this is where that picture of that disagreeable looking old gentleman should be.  What happened to it?”

“That ‘disagreeable old gentleman, as you describe him, my dear, is the seventh President of these United States, Mr. Andrew Jackson!  The painting was a gift to me from that august personage.  And how should I know where it’s gone?  I called you in here to have you tell me that.”

Her look of chagrin quickly shifted to hurt feelings.  With her fists on her narrow hips she muttered something in what I assume was Irish and then, in what passes for English through her lips, she said, “Senator, you cannot be suggestin’ that I should take the old thing, now, would you?”

I realized she was right, that I had not taken care to be clear that all I wanted to know was if she had removed the portrait.  “I beg your pardon, Annie.  I was intemperate.  I merely wanted to know if the picture had been removed for some reason.”

Giving me such a look of “Are you simple?” she shook her head.  “Well I am that certain that it has, Senator.  By whom and why I cannot tell.”

Now I was annoyed that she should take such an insolent approach to my obvious wish to learn where my treasured portrait of Old Hickory had been removed to.  Impatiently I demanded, “Then go ask cook what she knows.”

Annie put her proud shoulders back and an imperious nose in the air and whisked out of the study.  “Aye, sir, that I shall.”

I followed her to prevent her from sharing her less flattering thoughts about me with the cook.  When I arrived at the kitchen just behind her I heard her ask, in a manner of utmost asperity, where the portrait of Mr. Jackson that was hung on the Senator’s study wall above the mantelpiece might be.

The cook looked up at me then and bobbed a respectful curtsy.  “Senator Buchanan, I cannot say.”  She turned towards the scullery door and called out, “Jack, come in here.”

From the scullery emerged the tousled headed befreckled face of the young scamp, Jack Hamilton.  “Ma’am?” he squeaked.  He had a partly consumed piece of cake in his grubby hand.

I took over the questioning.  “Young man, a very valuable picture is missing from my study.  Do you know anything about that?”

The boy looked from me to Mabel and then to Annie, the look on his face bespeaking a readiness to make up a story turned into genuine puzzlement.  “Why, no, sir.  I never even seen it.”

Annie said smugly, “It’s a paintin’ of the seventh president of these United States, it is!”

The boy looked back at me, wide eyed.  I headed off whatever he was going to say.  “Never mind, boy.  I shall no doubt have to summon a policeman to look into the matter.  Would be so kind as to find one and send him to this house?”

He had gone pale, making me wonder if I had been hasty in exonerating him from guilt, but with one look at Mabel, he stuffed the rest of the cake in his mouth, said something no one could have understood, took his soft cap from a back pocket, and exiting quickly, pulled it onto his head.

It was clear when no officer of the law arrived at my front door within a half hour that Jack had not made the effort.  I called for Annie to fetch my coat, gloves and hat.  I shall go to the Senate for the rest of the day.  If I see a policeman on the way, I will enlist his assistance.”

In the foyer, she helped me on with my coat.  I asked, “Is Senator King expected to take his supper at home, do you know?”

“I do not, sir.  The Senator left so early this morn that I did not see to speak to him”

I went out the door onto F Street where carts and horses clattered by and natty young gentleman strode with purpose on some business.  I had no eye for them at the moment, intent as I was on getting to the Hill.

I did let myself become distracted from time to time as I made my way to Constitution Avenue and the Capitol for I was anxious to spy Rufus along the way so I could inform him of the missing portrait.  I was not far from my own destination when I caught sight of him, head to head with a most attractive and elegant young man, laughing and sharing a pleasant moment together.  I was about to call to him when I saw him put his arm about the younger man’s shoulders.  I quite simply froze.  I did not call out.

Rufus is an extremely handsome and well turned out fellow.  I on the other hand am plain and what some would call dumpy.  I should lie if I did not say it had puzzled me these several years that a man as fine-looking as my Rufus should want to be with me, to live with me, to be my one and only.  The result of this uncertainty has been a sort of vigilance where my love’s attention might turn, if that attention is to another quite good looking fellow.  I am quite sure some day I shall lose Rufus to such a one.  I shall be the pathetic abandoned lover, pitiful in all men’s eyes.

I sighed and turned to walk quickly away.

Seeing a policeman as I approached the Capitol, I waylaid the man and described my loss, the portrait of Old Hickory and not, of course, the future loss of my dearest one, nor of my heart and present peace of mind.  He promised to go to my house straight away to look into the matter.

I spent a dispirited day, I can tell you, feeling as if everything I cared for was slipping through my fingers.  Rufus was not at luncheon in the Senate dining hall, and as a result I was quite unapproachable and some of my colleagues made some quite common remarks that should not be spoken of in the presence of the fairer sex.  Fortunately there were none about in the Senate.

As I wended my way home to our house on F Street , I lacked an appetite for my supper.  I fully expected to find my portrait still gone, no news from the policeman, and no Rufus awaiting me with a glass of whiskey and a cigar.

Annie, it seemed, was no more cheerful with me.  With no syllable of her lilting speech, she took my hat, gloves and coat.  When I asked if the Senator was at home, she gave me a tight-lipped shake of the head and left me standing there quite alone.  I proceeded into the parlor with the newspaper which I had taken from the hall table and found my own whiskey and cigar, feeling most misused.

I had despaired of companionship at supper when I heard the front door open and close.  I heard Rufus’s voice, shushing Annie as he divested himself of his coat and the rest.    My heart beat faster waiting for my love to come into the parlor, then it fell when I heard his footsteps pass the door and head up the staircase.  I sat for a while trying to decide what to do.  Why had he shushed Annie?  Was there someone with him?  Someone he took up to his rooms?

I had had enough.  I threw down the paper I was reading and stormed out of the parlor and up the stairs.  I went to Rufus’s bedchamber door and without announcing myself, I reached for the doorknob.  I was surprised when it turned and the door opened.  I had half expected it locked, to prevent discovery of whatever indiscretion my Rufus was involved in.

“Jamie, dear!” he called, obviously startled.  He spun to face me, and I could not help but stare, admiring him, his slender but manly form, his fine features, his dapper apparel.  I found myself thinking, whatever you have done to break my heart, dear boy, I shall forgive you.  What I said aloud however was “What are you hiding, Rufus?”

The look he gave me then shook me to the core.  He looked embarrassed, sheepish, and guilty.  I thought, Here it is.  The death of the idyll. 

I had to sit down.  I stumbled to a chair and planted my backside heavily.

“Oh Jamie, I wanted it to be a surprise.  I was going to give it to you at supper.”

I looked up sharply at Rufus.  “You what?”  I gazed into his eyes to see them twinkling, so full of love and happiness.

He slowly turned and lifted a package wrapped in brown paper and tied with twine.  “Since you caught me with it, I suppose I shall just give it to you now.”  He came towards me, and I stood to face him.  He held the package out to me.

“Happy Valentine’s Day, dearest Jamie,” said in that soft warm voice of his with its Alabama drawl.  “I love you.”

I must have looked like a trout, standing, holding the package and staring into his eyes open-mouthed.  “I-I love you too, my darling Rufus,” I managed to get out.  “What is it?”

“Open it.  Here, I’ll cut the string with my pocket knife.”  He proceeded to match his actions to his words.  The twine felt to the floor and, meticulous as he always is, he crouched to pick it up and tuck it in his pocket.

I turned over the package and unfolded the brown paper with which it was wrapped.  I could see at once that I was looking at the back of a frame.  The wire for hanging it was attached.  I turned the gift over as Rufus carefully refolded the paper and set it aside to reuse.  He is as frugal as he is meticulous.  Well, except for fashions.  Those he spends what he must on.

He looked at me expectantly as I gazed back, then I lowered my eyes and was confused.  What I held in my hands was my portrait of Andrew Jackson.  The portrait that Jackson himself gave me.  I stammered, “W-why, Rufus, it’s wonderful.”

“What a silly man you can be, Jamie.  Look at it.  There is something different.  That is your gift.”

I looked again, perplexed.  Then I realized what the difference was.  “It’s the frame. It’s new.”

Rufus gave me one of those patient indulgent looks he often gives me when I am being obtuse.  “Yes, but you don’t see it, do you.  The wood.  It’s hickory!  Old hickory!”

My Rufus was the one who had removed my treasured portrait of Old Hickory and had a new frame made of old hickory wood.  I was speechless with wonder and gratitude.

Rufus went on chattily.  “I was on Constitution today as I was going to pick this up at the woodworker.  I ran into Simon Beauregard.  Do you remember him?  That very tiresome fellow from Tuscaloosa.  I was so excited about seeing the new frame I could not get away from him fast enough.  He is a pretty man, to be sure, but all I could do was pretend to laugh at his jokes and get away as soon as I could manage.”

He reached to take the portrait away from me and set it down on a table.  He walked the short distance to the door and bolted it.  He came back, took me in his arms, and pressed his sweet lips to my own thin ones.  I relaxed into his embrace.

“I do so love you, Jamie,” he said softly when we ended the kiss.  “These past years have been such golden ones.  Promise you will never leave me for some younger, more handsome man.”

I could only lean back in for another of his delicious kisses.

“Take me to bed, Jamie,” he sighed against my lips.

“But what about supper?” I reminded him.

“It can wait.”  His hands were already at my cravat loosening it as he applied the firm but gentle pressure to my chest to guide me through the door and into his bedchamber.

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Author’s note:  Was President James Buchanan gay?  He and William Rufus King lived together for many years and their colleagues in the Senate called them “Mr. and Mrs. Buchanan”.  Their nieces burned all their letters.  Let’s just say we don’t really know if he was, but then again we don’t really know that he wasn’t.

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Christopher Hawthorne Moss wrote his first short story when he was seven and has spent some of the happiest hours of his life fully involved with his colorful, passionate, and often humorous, characters. Moss spent some time away from fiction, writing content for websites before his first book came out under the name Nan Hawthorne in 1991. He has since become a novelist and is a prolific and popular blogger; he is the historical fiction editor for the GLBT Bookshelf, where you can find his short stories and thoughtful and expert book reviews. Moss is transgender, having been born with a female body but a male heart and mind. He lives full time as a gay man in the Pacific Northwest with his partner of over thirty years and their doted upon cats. He owns Shield-wall Productions. Moss welcomes comment from readers via email and can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Let’s Talk THIRDS with Charlie Cochet

November 5, 2014

Dreamspinner: So, Dex? Where did you get the inspiration for this 80′s-music-singing, high-octane cop with the mouth of a sailor who can’t hold his liquor?

Ah, Dex. Dex popped into my head in all his Cheesy-doodle-crunching, power-ballad-singing glory. It’s kind of scary how many traits Dex and I share. The 80s quirk was easy for me because like Dex, I’m a child of the 80s. I love the music, the movies, the cartoons, and toys. The clothes maybe not so much, but I definitely enjoy looking back at the fashion horrors. The coffee obsession is something we also share. Brain function is difficult without my cup of java in the morning. All that frothy goodness. Mmm….

I’m also big fan of John McClane from the Die Hard movies. This every day cop with amazing wit who always found himself embroiled in some kind of trouble that ends up with him beat up or almost getting blown up. That whole kind of “every man” trait that John McClane has is something I wanted for Dex. He’s not this invincible action hero who knows three kinds of martial arts and can walk away from an explosion without a scratch on him. I wanted Dex to be fun but complex. He’s the kind of guy you’d love to have as a friend. He’s a genuinely nice guy, loyal, always wants to do the right thing, loves his family, and knows when to be serious. Trouble has a way of finding him. He might be on an elite team, but he’s just a regular guy. Just weirder.

Dreamspinner: Are we only going to get three books in the THIRDS series?

There are quite a few books planned for the THIRDS series. At the moment, I have 8 books planned. It’s a continuous timeline, though book 5 will be from Ash & Cael’s point of views, and Book 6 from Calvin & Hobbs’s point of views, Book 7 & 8 will return to Dex and Sloane. I also have a book planned in the THIRDS world with agent Sebastian Hobbs and Chief Medical Examiner Hudson Colbourn. After that, we’ll have to see. You never know which characters will demand to have their stories told. I have a few couples that might get their own novellas.

Dreamspinner: What scene in any of the THIRDS books do you still laugh about?

I admit that I still laugh at a good deal of Dex’s antics. It’s hard to pick just one. The training scene in Blood & Thunder is a top favorite. Sloane is in his jaguar form and he takes off after another agent who screams “like a pre-teen at a Bieber concert”. That scene still makes me chuckle. Also the scene with his ex at Bar Dekatria with the goats and Waking Dead secrets coming to light.

Dreamspinner: Who was the most difficult character to write in the THIRDS series?

All the characters in the THIRDS are challenging in some way, but I think Dex is still my most complex character because there’s the image he portrays of this happy go-lucky guy who’s always smiling and joking, but inside he’s very sharp and perceptive. He feels things deeply. Plus there’s his humor. Humor is incredibly difficult to write because it either happens or it doesn’t. You can’t force humor. Dex’s one-liners and snappy comebacks have to come during that moment. There are just so many layers to him, so many instances where he’s doing one thing but thinking or feeling something completely different.

Dreamspinner: Coffee or tea? Ebook or print? Vanilla or chocolate? Rap or country music?

Coffee. Sentences and words don’t happen without coffee. I love both eBook and print. For research, I prefer print books. Chocolate for sure. I do enjoy vanilla, but chocolate is right up there just below coffee. I’m not big on rap or country. I’m more into 80s music. ;)

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Charlie Cochet is an author by day and artist by night. Always quick to succumb to the whispers of her wayward muse, no star is out of reach when following her passion. From historical to fantasy, contemporary to science fiction, there’s bound to be plenty of mischief for her heroes to find themselves in, and plenty of romance, too! Currently residing in South Florida, Charlie looks forward to migrating to a land where the weather includes seasons other than hot, hotter, and, boy, it’s hot! When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading, drawing, or watching movies. She runs on coffee, thrives on music, and loves to hear from readers.

“If This Were a Movie” Free Read by Kate McMurray

November 5, 2014

Kyle’s life flashed before his eyes as the huge bear of a dog galloped toward him with alarming speed. The beast was all brown fur and teeth and slobber, and it was barreling toward Kyle so quickly, he couldn’t manage to move his feet.

“Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god….”

Kyle didn’t understand at first that the breathless invocation of a deity was coming not from him but from the lips of the man running at top speed behind the dog.

Was this a stampede?

Then Kyle was on his back, the heavy weight of this bear on top of him, with a face full of tongue.

Dirt flew as the guy chasing the dog caught up and skittered to a stop.

“Tiny, no. No, Tiny. Get off the nice man.”

The dog seemed immovable.

Kyle gathered his faculties enough to swat at the dog’s tongue with his hands, not connecting as the dog lifted his head away but otherwise settled on top of Kyle’s body as if Kyle were a large velvet pillow and this giant dog were a dainty princess. Kyle sighed and let his head fall back to the grass. He looked up.

Well, hello. The owner of the bear was a tall, dark-haired, slightly scruffy guy with a gym-sculpted body. His muscles flexed as he tugged on the dog’s leash, though the dog seemed determined not to go anywhere.

“Come on, Tiny,” the guy said.

If the weight of the dog hadn’t been crushing his lungs, Kyle might have found the fact that this freakishly large dog was named Tiny funny enough to laugh about, but as it was, Kyle worried his sternum was about to cave in.

“I’m so sorry about this,” the guy said. “He’s not usually like this. I don’t know what’s gotten into—”

Just as quickly as Kyle had been flattened into a pancake on the grass, Tiny the Bear lost interest, stood up and walked away.

Kyle pulled in a deep breath.

“Uh, you need help?”

Kyle looked up and saw the cute guy who owned the bear reaching down with his hand. Kyle briefly indulged in a fantasy wherein the sun shown directly behind this man’s head like a halo, and the clouds parted, and the angels sang. None of those things actually happened, but the man was quite lovely. Kyle reached up and allowed himself to be helped to his feet.

“So, um…” Kyle tried, struck speechless by the handsome man. Who smiled. Lord, he had a gorgeous smile.

“I’m Chris,” the guy said. “And this is Tiny, but you probably got that already.”

“The most logical name for a bear on a leash is Tiny.”

Chris smiled. “That’s what I thought. He’s a chow, actually. Aren’t you, boy?” Chris reached over and scratched Tiny between the ears. “And I think he likes you.”

“I guess.” Kyle looked at the dog, feeling puzzled, not understanding what just happened.

“So. Do you live around here?” asked Chris.

“Yeah, I was just cutting through the park to get home from work. You?”

“Yep, Tiny and I just moved here. A few blocks west.”

Kyle was at a loss for what to say. He was still rattled from getting knocked over by a dog, but Chris was so handsome that Kyle wasn’t ready to let him go just yet. Chris pet his dog and smiled and had that nice line of stubble on his chin and the slightly disheveled hair, and he really looked yummy. Kyle tried not to stare.

“I really am sorry,” Chris said. “I’ve never seen him do that before.”

“I seem to be okay.” Kyle dusted off his butt and the back of his thighs. He tugged on his shirt to get any residual dirt and grass to fall off. He smiled at Chris. Who smiled back.

Their eyes met for a moment.

“You know,” Kyle said after he let the moment pay out. “If this were a cheesy romantic comedy, this would be the scene in which the couple meets cute. Sure, there will be a big misunderstanding or something that will separate the pair down the line, but they’ll end up together in the end. The dog knew all along that they were meant to be, after all.”

Chris laughed, which was good. Kyle didn’t know if he was gay—he suspected, based on how snug Chris’s tee-shirt was, but that was hardly an accurate indicator of anything—but he’d made the joke without thinking. He blamed getting jumped by a dog.

A dog who sat obediently at Chris’s feet now and waved his tail while his mouth hung open. Kyle didn’t think dogs smiled, but this one seemed to be.

“But with dudes,” Chris said.

“Huh?”

“If we starred in a romantic comedy in which my dog orchestrated the meet cute, which I’m pretty sure is what just happened, it would be a romantic comedy with two dudes.”

“Who cares?” asked Kyle, still feeling dazed.

“Well, I don’t. You’re cute. You want to go get a cup of coffee with me?”

Years later, when poor Tiny had arthritis, Kyle spent a good ten minutes trying to get a little pouch affixed to the dog’s collar.

“Hold still, boy. I just need you to…”

“Babe?” called Chris, rapping on the door. “Are you ditching me?”

“No. Still trying to get this…”

Tiny huffed out a breath and sank to the floor, pushing his paws out in front of him. Of course. Kyle finished the task and stood up.

He opened the door to a concerned-looking Chris.

“Not sure we’re supposed to see each other,” Kyle said.

“Don’t care. What are you doing?”

“Getting the ring bear fixed up.”

Tiny trotted over and whuffed at Chris.

“Ring bearer?”

“Nope, bear. I was right the first time.”

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Kate McMurray is an award-winning romance author and fan. When she’s not writing, she works as a nonfiction editor, dabbles in various crafts, and is maybe a tiny bit obsessed with baseball. She is active in RWA and has served as president of Rainbow Romance Writers and on the board of RWANYC. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Chris T. Kat Author Interview

September 28, 2014

DSP: So… mermen?
That was exactly my thought when I read my first merman story a few years ago. That was a time when I still wrote fan fiction, and any story that held fantasy or fairy-tale elements drew my attention. So, I read that story and was intrigued. To be honest, I’ve wanted to write a story about merfolk since I was a child. While I liked the classic mermaids with their long, flowing hair and graceful appearances, the discovery of mermen was the icing on the cake.

When I wrote Tidal Change, my newest release with Dreamspinner Press, I had a blast. I love to swim, and we usually spend our summer vacation at the sea, so that was the perfect time for me to write Marty and Rick’s story. It must’ve been one of the fastest stories I’ve ever written because I got it done in about two weeks. What can I say? The weather was great, I could sit at the beach and watch the waves and the occasional seal, and Marty and Rick demanded their story be told.

DSP: What was your inspiration for your history teacher lead?
I’m a teacher myself. I’m a Special Ed teacher, but I studied history as a subject, so I felt comfortable with Rick being a history teacher. He’s not based on me, just his profession, because for once I wanted to write about a profession I know firsthand. There might be more teachers in my next books…
Often history teachers are portrayed as old, boring, and dry people. While Rick is older than Marty, he’s not boring, and his lessons at school aren’t sleep-inducing either. Rick is laid-back, ready to settle down, and he wants Marty to become his partner, even though Marty plays hot and cold for a long time. Marty has his reasons, though, what with him being a merman.

DSP: What are some of your favorite books?
That’s a tough question. I read in pretty much every genre, but of course I have my favorite authors and books. I’m a big fan of Josh Lanyon’s and Megan Derr’s books. One of my favorite authors, who publishes with Dreamspinner Press, is Lynn Gala and I adore her books Gathering Storm and Mountain Prey. Another DSP author I discovered recently is Liv Olteano. I first read her recent release A Tooth for a Fang, then got her other two books and LOVED them. Oh, and Charlie Cochet’s THIRDS series has become one of my favorite series. I could go on and on but that would probably go beyond the scope of this interview. ;-)

DSP: What made you decide to start writing gay romance?
I started out as a fan fiction writer. For a while, I was very content to read anything I could find, until I got stuck in one fandom and desperately searched for a certain kind of story. After searching all available archives and not finding what I sought, I decided to try my hand at writing. I’ve never looked back since then. I can’t exactly pinpoint why I enjoy writing gay romance so much, I just know that it’s my favorite genre. Several people—including my husband—pushed me into the direction of writing original fiction, and the same supportive people pestered me until I submitted my first story to Dreamspinner Press. As the saying goes, the rest is history.

DSP: Where can your reader-fans interact with you and why do you like that social media outlet?
The easiest way for readers to interact with me is probably on Twitter and Facebook. I also have a blog, and I post free fiction there every Wednesday, so that’s a good place to meet me as well.
I like Twitter and Facebook, though I’d say it’s easier for me to interact on Twitter. On Facebook, I always fear I’m missing out on stuff, and sometimes I’m just overwhelmed with all the posts there, so that I just click like instead of leaving a comment. On Twitter, I like to respond and simply have nice conversations with like-minded people. It’s like an instant messenger for me, and since I tend to get chatty, that’s a great tool for me, especially since most people live in the States and therefore are in a different time zone. Twitter simply allows me to have quick conversations, ask questions, see how someone is doing, without having to write a long e-mail (which I like, but don’t always have the time for).
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Chris T. Kat lives in the middle of Europe, where she shares a house with her husband of many years and their two children. She stumbled upon the M/M genre by luck and was swiftly drawn into it. She divides her time between work, her family—which includes chasing after escaping horses and lugging around huge instruments such as a harp—and writing. She enjoys a variety of genres, such as mystery/suspense, paranormal, and romance. If there’s any spare time, she happily reads for hours, listens to audiobooks, or does cross stitch.

Visit her blog, find her on Facebook, or add her on Twitter.

Last First Kiss by Cardeno C.

September 28, 2014

I stumbled into the kitchen and rubbed my bleary eyes. Caffeine. I needed my fix. The coffee machine was my first stop, but when I knocked over the carafe and dropped the grounds, I was forced to concede defeat. Apparently, I wasn’t awake enough to brew a pot. No worries. I was prepared for these types of emergencies. I pulled the refrigerator door open and fumbled inside until I had a bottle of Diet Coke in my grasp.

I had the bottle tipped all the way back and the last of the caramel-colored elixir flowing into my throat when I heard a voice.

“It’s nice to know some things don’t change.”

Seeing as how I lived alone, I found the question disconcerting. Particularly because I recognized that voice: Preston Shultz, the man who had disappeared from my life ten years earlier. Was I still asleep?

I reluctantly lowered the bottle and blinked until I could see clearly. Yup, that was Preston. Older, a bit less hair on top, a bit more hair on his face, but the crystal-blue eyes were just as bright, the crooked smile just as warm.

“Uh,” I grunted.

He put his arm around my shoulder, led me to the table, and pulled out a chair. “Sit,” he said as he deposited me on the wooden surface. Then he walked over to the coffee maker, picked up the carafe, and started pouring water and measuring grounds. “I’m assuming you still take it strong enough to wake the dead?”

He didn’t wait for my answer. Good idea because the only thing I seemed capable of saying was, “uh.”

Eventually, he came to the table holding a giant mug. I instinctively reached for it and he smiled at me, the sides of his eyes crinkling. I’m pretty sure I stopped breathing.

First my brain, now my lungs — I was down two major organs.

As I took a sip, Preston sat next to me and pulled his chair so close that his knees touched mine. I moaned. Strong and sweet, just how I liked my coffee. And my men.

“Good?” he asked.

I nodded. “What …” It was a step up from “uh” but still not coherent. I raised the mug back up to my lips. By the time I finished the coffee, some memories from the night before had started surfacing.

Preston knocking on my door, saying he missed me, asking me to take him back. Me yelling, and then crying, and then collapsing in his arms.

He was back. We were back.

I darted my gaze over to his still-handsome face. “You didn’t kiss me last night.”

He leaned in and cupped my cheek. “You were so tired. I wanted to make sure you’d remember our first kiss.”

“We’ve kissed lots of times,” I corrected him.

“Not like this.” His voice was barely a whisper. “This will be our last first kiss.”

His lips met mine and my heart stuttered. That was three organs down. I needed more caffeine.
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Cardeno C.—CC to friends—is a hopeless romantic who wants to add a lot of happiness and a few “awwws” into a reader’s day. Writing is a nice break from real life as a corporate type and volunteer work with gay rights organizations. Cardeno’s stories range from sweet to intense, contemporary to paranormal, long to short, but they always include strong relationships and walks into the happily-ever-after sunset.