Twelfth Night Release Party with Racheline Maltese & Erin McRae – Excerpt

August 13, 2015

It’s been lovely chatting with you all! We’ll be here til midnight Eastern, chatting with y’all in the comments, but for now we’re going to leave you with an excerpt of Twelfth Night:

John doesn’t expect Michael to be as weirdly taken with the ocean as he is with the wild woods. It doesn’t seem like his element the way the trees are. But he is mesmerized by the beach almost instantly upon their arrival, insisting they walk along the hard wet sand of the tide line. It doesn’t matter how many times John says their muscles will ache unhappily tomorrow from miles walked at the edge of the frigid fall water; Michael either doesn’t hear him or doesn’t care enough to respond.

John is fascinated as Michael keeps a close eye on shells and rocks. One is shaped like a small egg, and he’s disappointed when it’s not. Still he makes John hold it for him, running ahead to a rock jetty to comb through the midden of mussel shells left by persistent and angry seagulls.

John tries not to be horrified, but the sight of Michael’s fingers picking through the dead bivalves and seaweed stinking in the sun is a bit much.

“What’s this?” Michael asks, eventually, holding out a shell, colored and swirled, to him.

It’s in perfect condition, and John is about to be impressed with the find until he realizes there’s still a creature using the shell as its home.

“That’s an animal in there.” He doesn’t actually know what kind. But it’s gelatinous and of the sea and not really a thing they should be messing with. They’ve seen dozens of jellyfish washed up on the beach already today.

“Does it go in the ocean or not in the ocean?”

“Ocean,” John says. He’s not 100 percent sure, but he suspects, like the jellyfish, the sun and the birds will eventually cook and peck it to nothing if it’s not saved by the sea.

Michael throws the shell back and returns to the tide line as they walk, gaze carefully on the ground and picking at every shell he sees that looks like whatever creature he just rescued. Most of them have their animals in them, and John suspects the coming hurricane that’s going to ruin their trip is churning them up.

As Michael throws each one back into the water, John is charmed that he’s trying to save creatures that have no spine, names he doesn’t know, and forms he’s never seen before.

Eventually Michael decides they can leave and reaches for John’s hand. John flinches away. It’s not the strangeness of the town this beach is attached to, half religious meeting town, half gay beach paradise. There’s even a club down the block from their inn that advertises “Less Lights, More Fun!” It’s that he can only think about whatever bacteria Michael is now coated in from all the dead mussels.
God, but he’s going to look like an idiot explaining that.

When he tries, stumbling through a mini monologue about seaweed and sea creatures and sand, Michael just listens with his head tipped to the side.

Finally John’s speech drags to a halt under Michael’s incredibly unimpressed gaze. He sighs and starts again.

“Okay. I swear the handholding thing has nothing to do with anything except your gross dead bivalve hands. But I think I may be freaking out.”

Michael blinks at him. “Did this start when we checked in and you had to deal with people who know we’re here to fuck?”

It’s sharp, but John knows he probably deserves it.

“You know I don’t mind being out in public with you,” he says cautiously. He wants to be honest with Michael, but he also doesn’t want to provoke anger by being less willing to be out than Michael deems sufficient.

Thankfully Michael considers John for a moment and then grins. “Somewhere in the romantic beach getaway, I got that.”
John lets out a relieved sigh and wraps an arm around Michael’s waist. He wants to prove his willingness to be fully in this relationship without shame, but life is also just better when they’re touching. Michael leans into his side, and they start walking down the sand again.

“But it’s something I can’t help being aware of,” John says quietly as they walk. “What we are and what people see when they look at me. Which apparently means I’ve found my internalized homophobia, and I am completely aware of how gross that is. I’m going to work on that, but there it is.”

“You still want to, like, go out to dinner tonight and make out on the boardwalk, though, right?”

“Oh my God, you have no idea. I want to tell everybody about you.”

Michael smirks. “So why don’t you?”

“Coming out at my age is kind of more complicated than it is at twelve. Or however old you were when you did.”

“I was fourteen, thank you.”

“So how did you come out to your parents?” John asks after they walk for a few minutes in silence.

Michael cracks up.

“I’m serious!”

Michael buries his face in John’s arm and apparently can’t stop laughing. “You do understand how ridiculous this is, right?”

“I understand that I’m forty-two and have to come out to everyone in my entire life that I give a remote shit about, because you are addictive and fascinating and wonderful and also are sadly holding me to some pretty legitimate ethical standards. So help a guy out, okay?”

“I was making out with my first high school boyfriend in the living room, and my mom walked in.”

John is entirely not surprised. “So hey, when you meet my family, let’s not go with that plan, yeah?”

“Yeah,” Michael says, drawing the word out in a way that makes it clear it’s his turn to be defensive and weird.

John smirks, pleased to be off the hook for the moment. “You haven’t told them about us either,” he says smugly.

Michael mumbles something against John’s arm.

“What was that?”

“You’re really old,” Michael says. “And they’re going to freak.”

*

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Twelfth Night Release Party with Racheline Maltese & Erin McRae – Locations and Stories

August 13, 2015

 

From Racheline:

Like many New Yorkers, I’ve spent most of my summers visiting the Jersey Shore. For me, that’s been the stretch of beach that includes Ocean Grove and Asbury Park.

Both towns, which together encompass little more than two miles of beachfront, are peculiar relics of another age. Asbury was one an amusement park town; today, while the mini golf and pinball hall of fame remain, the rides are all gone.  Ocean Grove, on the other hand, started and continues life as a Methodist Camp Meeting town.

Today both towns are also popular destinations for LGBTQ travelers and have significant LGBTQ populations.  Sometimes, this makes things awkward, like that time someone hissed something about lesbian witches at my partner and I as we walked down the boardwalk.  Mostly,though, no one cares.

We set the opening of Twelfth Night in Ocean Grove and Asbury because we wanted to capture our hero John, who is still in the process of coming out to himself and others, adjusting to being someplace that was strongly queer and would recognize him as one of their own. But we also wanted to capture the sense he has of embodying a lot of internal conflicts, much like these towns.

Both towns are easily accessible by public transit and are just a few hours from New York City, and our worth your visit in you’re in the area.  Regrettably, the nightclub with the “Less Lights, More Fun” marquee mentioned in Twelfth Night is no more.

What are your favorite locations, either as vacation destinations or as settings for stories? What’s your favorite location (or type of location) that you like to read about, or that you like to write about? What place have you read about in a book and decided you want to visit? Let us know in the comments below!

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Twelfth Night Release Party with Racheline Maltese & Erin McRae – Meeting the Parents

August 13, 2015

If you’ve ever dated anyone, chances are you’ve had some version of the awkward, unpleasant, or just downright embarrassing version of the meet-the-parents experience. For me, it was the first time I met the woman who would become my mother-in-law: I had just slept over at her house, with my then-boyfriend, now-husband, Ben. An d in Twelfth Night, when Michael has to admit to his parents that he’s dating someone seventeen years older than him, and John has to admit to his parents that his boyfriend is seventeen years younger than him…and a boy.

We love writing about people navigating romantic relationships and having awesome sexytimes (and Twelfth Night has plenty of both). But we also really like the fun, and farce, and yes, embarrassment, of people meeting their S.O.’s parents for the first time. Because no matter how embarrassing or awkward things get as our heroes try to introduce their boyfriends to their families, it makes a great story.

 What we want to know about here, though, is your stories of meeting the parents/families/friends/etc of your significant other(s), and also holiday dsiasters. Did something go horribly awry? Was anything exceptionally embarassing? What made you want the floor to swallow you up? We are here to comisserate and also share our own less-than-perfect experiences with family and the holidays.

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Twelfth Night Release Party with Racheline Maltese & Erin McRae: Shakespeare and Inspiration

August 13, 2015

In a lot of ways, it was inevitable that, at some point, Racheline and I would write a backstage story about a Shakespearean theater troupe. We’re both theater people — she an actor and playwright; me, a techie and production designer. With our love of words and stories in general, have a great soft spot for the Bard.

Book 1 in the Love’s Labours series, Midsummer, is based around a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which is a play we both enjoy. Because Racheline and I are both queer and because we write LGBTQ stories, Racheline and I are intrigued by productions that explore the genders and orientations of the characters. For instance last summer, the Stratford Festival put on a four-actor production: Four people playing all the various couples of the play, all set as the backdrop of a same-sex marriage. One of our other favorites is The Globe’s 2013 production, which played up an unwritten queerness in the text and portrayed a physical relationship between Oberon and Puck.

When it came time to write a sequel for Midsummer, the hunt for our next Shakespeare play began. After some consideration we decided on Twelfth Night, which takes place at Christmas, when the normal rules of society are allowed to slip a little. That premise ended up being the perfect frame for our next story as John and Michael cope with the holidays, meet each other’s families, and break the news about their relationship to their collective parents and siblings. And while the action of Midsummer centered around an actual professional production of the play, in Twelfth Night, Michael introduces John to one of his family’s favorite traditions: an extremely amateur performance of Twelfth Night in the living room.

And so, our question for you is, what is your favorite Shakespeare play (and why?) Has an existing book or play (or movie, or TV show) ever made you want to write a story of your own?

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Twelfth Night Release Party with Racheline Maltese & Erin McRae

August 13, 2015

Hello! Racheline Maltese and Erin McRae here, and we’re here to talk about our writing inspirations, family holiday disasters, story settings, and of course our new release, Twelfth Night.


Twelfth Night
is the second book in our M/M May-December gay-for-you(ish) contemporary romance novella series Love’s Labours. Book 1, Midsummer, came out this past spring. Lush, funny, magical, and a little bit morbid, the Love’s Labours series chronicles a romance between two actors who first meet during a summerstock production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Sure, 42-year-old John Lyonel has never been attracted to men before, but falling for 25-year-old Michael Hilliard is actually the least screwed up thing that’s happened to him in years. Even if sometimes he thinks Michael’s a changeling.


Michael and John, a May/December couple, navigated the repercussions of their gay-for-you love affair in the hothouse of a summerstock theater production.

Back in New York City at the conclusion of their show’s run, John is overwhelmed by his obsession with Michael and the difficulties of learning to date again after the death of his young son and his recent divorce. John gradually comes out to his colleagues, his football rec league friends, and even his ex-wife.

But when he invites his parents over for Christmas to meet the person he’s been seeing, the holiday—featuring Michael’s family’s amateur production of Twelfth Night—quickly turns into a French farce of potentially catastrophic proportions, forcing John finally to take the lead in claiming his evolving identity as he takes the next step in his relationship with Michael.

Now available from Dreamspinner
Our website

We’re thrilled to be your hosts here for the next little while , so hello to everyone wherever you may be in the world, and we’re looking forward to chatting with you!

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Get (un)Comfortable with Xara X. Xanakas

August 10, 2015

I tend to do the same things every day. I get up, re-read stories that I know and love while the TV plays in the background. I go about my day, and then I come home and do the same thing I did that morning. It’s relaxing. It’s comfortable.

It’s the same for most people, I’d bet. We like our routines. We’re wired to gravitate to things that make life easier for us. Things that allow us to slow down and just breathe. There’s a reason the beaten path is that way.

But what if?

What if you step off that path? Not necessarily leaving it to go hike down the road less traveled, but maybe a step or two off the path. The view doesn’t change all that much, and the terrain isn’t all that different. Just a little bit bumpier.

And isn’t that the sweet spot? That step that makes your heart beat a little harder, makes your breath a little quicker. Then one step leads to another, and soon you’ve been herded into another direction. A direction you never intended to follow, but now you can’t imagine yourself anywhere else.

For me, it was like that when I started in MM romances. Reading progressively more explicit het romances led to different pairings, led to MM romances. Just a series of tiny steps that led me to the big jump–writing and then the actual (utterly terrifying) leap of submitting my first story for publication. The thrill of putting a piece of myself out there and having it be accepted. The validation that I’m not out there alone, that ‘I did that’ feeling. The dream I’d had since high school had finally been realized.

If I hadn’t gotten uncomfortable, I wouldn’t have gotten there. Granted, I’ve reverted back into my little comfort zone, hiding in my own little world. But maybe it’s time for me to start taking some steps off the path. You never know where it may take you.

 

Where will you go?

Where will you go?

~xXx~

 

Talking about Zane “Ash” Ashford – Remmy Duchene

July 17, 2015

Hi Everyone!

Remmy Duchene here. I am one half of the writers responsible for Wounded Hearts.  I know a number of you bought the story during pre-sales, thank you *blows you kisses* You are spank-tacular.

Wounded Hearts is a monster of a story. Yes, even bigger than Captive to his Wonder that is now out at Dreamspinner as well. When we were finished I think both Sharita and I had nightmares about the editing process.  I think it was about at 100K when we finally wrote those two horrifying words “the end.” During editing we cut out a lot to what we have now and as I re-read it during the process, I was so proud of my little Zane Ashford.

Okay, as Dylan Thomas wrote in Under Milkwood, to begin at the beginning….

Yes, I know, you’ve seen me write with people before so you know I’m kind of a veteran with that. And it is something I really enjoy doing. This time around I was responsible for Zane  Ashford aka Ash, aka Uncle Zee aka Big Daddy, the African American NYPD officer who is banished to the boonies of Montana so he can heal after a bust goes horribly wrong.

I wasn’t sure what job to give Zane. As you know I’ve written quite a number of cops, Real Estate moguls, software gurus, writers – but this character just gave itself life.  A cop was the only reasonable way to go and when you read the story you will see why.

When Sharita and I wrote this tale, we didn’t really plan anything. We created small bios for each character and then tried sticking to that but as you can probably guess, quickly went off the reservation in all the best ways.

I enjoyed writing Zane because he gives life to my belief that a man can be wealthy and not be a complete jerk. Well sure, he had his brain farts moments, what character doesn’t? But they are necessary, he needs failures to learn from. He needs “Standing on his soap box” moments to be taken down a peg. Even though he could kick Cyrus’ but if he truly wanted to *whispers* Don’t tell Sharita I said that, shhhh.  *runs around room making karate chop sounds* Just sayin’

But seriously, I enjoyed watching his pain and developing his relationships with those around him. Though Zane was unlike any man I’ve ever written (of course he had to be because Cyrus was unlike any lover I’ve ever given one of my men to) it was a good change for me.

So please, do enjoy Wounded Hearts. We put a lot of thought, sweat and love amongst these pages. We are quite proud of the end result and I hope you see, that love can blossom anywhere between any two people. All you have to do is stop fighting long enough, for just a second and love will find away…

Hugs,

Remmy Duchene

 

Ace Excerpt with Jack Byrne

July 15, 2015

 

 

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On a lighter note: Australian men and understatement (and another excerpt for you):

“Jesus, the things people do to dogs. It’s disgraceful. They ought to do the same to the owners. But how did you retrain her? Apart from occasionally trying to eat me, she seems sweet now.”
Jake laughed. “You should have seen the look on her face the first time I petted her. She looked at me like I’d lost my mind.”
“Was she savage?”
Jake remembered the snarling beast that had been pulled into the back of his pickup truck in Brisbane by two burly men with lead ropes on either side of her. “She wasn’t too bad. A bit stressed out.”
Damien peered at his face and asked, “Where did you get her?”
“Brisbane—from a car wrecker’s yard that had gone bust.” Jake hadn’t been able to get her off the back of his truck for a week and had to borrow a work car to get to and from work. He had parked the pickup under the carport and put food and water on the truck with her.
“Weren’t you scared of her?”
He remembered feeding her by poking her food bowl along to her with a stick. “Not scared. Respectful.”
“What is it you’re not telling me?”
“She was a bit of a handful, to be quite honest. Took me a while to gain her trust.”
“I know the feeling.”

 

Rescuing Dogs – the ones they don’t tell you about.

I put Karma, Sally and Bunny in this book because I find it hard to write a book without a dog in it.  I’ve lived all my life with dogs and horses around me, and it would seem strange not to have a furry friend nudging me awake in the morning at some ungodly hour, or greeting me when I come home.  The other day, someone referred to dog rescuers as ‘do-gooders’ and that really burred me up though because… it’s not an easy thing to do.  These dogs often don’t come to us in a good state.  They are often filthy, starving, smelly, horribly stressed and snappy, and generally not nice to know.  It takes a strong stomach and a lot of money, time and work to rehabilitate a dog once it gets that far down.  I rescue German shepherds, Rottweilers and some of the large breeds with bad reps, and I have scars up my arms from where they have bitten me, usually in the first few days of handling them when I’ve had to do all the unpleasant stuff (baths and clipping nails and treating injuries and infections and getting them needles) before they have learned to trust me.  I take my hat off to anyone who has ever rescued a dog, and I will keep writing dogs into my stories.  Of the two I am working on now, Feind Angelical has a huge black German shepherd in it, and of course if you read Taniwha Dreaming you will meet Shivers.

In ‘Ace’ I think Jake’s treatment of the dogs (Sally and Karma) shows that he is not a cold-hearted person, and this is one of the reasons Damien decides to stick around initially, despite being rejected sexually.  So the way he treats his animals becomes a key note in the story.

 

 

 

Ace Release Party with Jack Byrne

July 15, 2015

 

 

Hi, everyone! Jack Byrne here. I thought I’d share an excerpt from ‘Ace’ and some of the things that have been said about the book so far!

Excerpt:

Jake sat up. “I was fine.”
“No, you were not fine. You were coping. You were coping with me doing that. Like someone copes with—” Damien sat up too, but he broke off and looked away.
There was a long silence, then Jake whispered, “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be.”
“It was my fault.”
“Nothing’s your fault!” exploded Damien. “Don’t you see that?”
“I’m not sure I know what you mean.” Jake’s voice sounded flat and worried even to him.
Damien closed his eyes. “Oh Jesus, Jake, I must be a nightmare for you to deal with.”
“Only because—”
Damien turned to take Jake in his arms and hug him, stroking his hair. “Only because what?”
“Only because you matter.”
Damien sighed.
Jake said, “Only because you noticed.”
Damien looked at him. “You need a safe word.”
“I need what?”
“You need a safe word. Something you can say if it’s not okay, what I’m doing, you know?”
“We’re not doing anything that bad.”
“Oh? And tell me, how do you feel right now? Relieved?”
“Er, yeah, but—”
“Right. Relieved because I stopped. Which meant that you were uncomfortable about where it was going. Come on, Jake. Think of a safe word.”
“No. I can’t.”
“Why not?”
“Because I’d use it every time, before we started.”

 

So, asexuality. It’s a complex topic, and not one that’s yet well understood. One of the first (outraged) reviews I received about this book was that ‘you can’t have a gay asexual.’ (This was from someone who hadn’t read the book btw.) Well, you CAN have a gay asexual. Because asexual people are not always aromantic, and some asexual people are homoromantic. If you find this confusing, there’s a wonderful place called AVEN (The Asexual Visibility and Education Network) which has ALL the resources: www.asexuality.org/en/

What is the book ‘Ace’ really about then?

Jake Tanner is asexual, but he’s never heard the term and doesn’t understand why he doesn’t feel sexual attraction to others.  He’s had sex in the past, but not really enjoyed it.  When he meets highly sexualized Damien Jamieson, he is expecting their relationship to end disastrously, just like every other relationship Jake has had.  But Damien surprises him by listening, putting his desires aside and trying to get to know Jake.  This gives Jake a breather, and he has time to get to know Damien in turn.  What Jake discovers however, will shock him and make him reassess his assumptions about Damien.

 

Welcome to the Tigers on the Run release party with Sean Kennedy

July 13, 2015

Sorry I am a little late to my own shindig, but I am full of ineptitude when it comes to WordPress.

 

Hello, and welcome!

 

As you may have guessed, I am Sean Kennedy and today “Tigers on the Run”, the third book in the Tigers and Devils series, is released!

 

I’m not exactly sure how to start, but I thought I would talk a little bit about the state of out players in Australian football.

 

Um, there’s none.

 

There never have been.  There have been rumours, but they always turned out unfounded.

 

The first Tigers and Devils book was released in 2009.  And although I never thought people would really read it back then (or would still be reading it now) I do believe I thought there might have been a real Declan Tyler by now.

 

But no.  Nada.  Zip.

 

What about rugby league?

 

Okay, there has been one (yes, 1) player to come out as gay, and that was Ian Roberts back in 1995.  Twenty years ago.

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Twen – ty.

 

No one since.

 

You would think that maybe when one person did it, it might make it easier for the next.  But nobody ever took up the mantle after Ian Roberts.

 

But other sports have seen gay people out and proud.  Matthew Mitcham is our Olympic gold-winning medallist.  Casey Dellacqua in tennis.  And of course, Ian Thorpe just recently came out.

 

But still no-one in the AFL.  Is it because it is the last bastion of extreme Australian masculine sport?  I don’t know if I have an answer for it.  I don’t think anybody does, really.

 

But I have to wonder, in another six years, if we’ll still be asking this question.

 

But, I digress.  Any questions about the book, new or old?