“Zipper Fall” release party – a book giveaway winner!

September 22, 2013

Aaaaand – drum roll, please – Trix is the winner of either Wild Horses or Zipper Fall e-book! Trix, please PM me and let me know what you’d like, and how you’d like it! Congratulations!

And now, a bit about book research. Let me list a few things I’ve done either by coincidence or in order to “learn a world” and write about it – and then I’d like you to share the most outlandish thing you would consider doing, or have done, in name of book research. So, here goes:

- climbed rock walls (very…ehm… EXCITING.)
- learned to ride a horse (and today, got stepped on, scraped against the wall, and have accidentally fed him a finger along with a carrot. That foot will bruise, for sure.)
- learned to hunt deer
- various martial arts, including weapons moderns and ancient
- worked in a flower shop (it’s not just arranging flowers – it’s also washing buckets and dealing with the generous public)
- started a business / killed a business / grew a business
- traveled (I rout my business travel through new places in name of reserach, whenever possible)
- trained for a triathlon (and completed two – highly recommended, it doesn’t include heights and you can break when biking downhill…)
- “volunteered” in a restaurant kitchen (free labor in exchange for learning new things)
- ate wild mushrooms (and foraged for them, learned to ID them, and discussed possible lethal methods with an interested toxicologist)
- contacted professors at universities to find out stuff (and they were, usually, happy to oblige!)
- had coffee with a retired CIA employee, who was very helpful in making my CIA operative credible and legal
- fought in medieval armor, AND slept in it (to see if it’s possible…)
- started fire with a bow drill, attempted to brain-tan deerhide (don’t try this at home, its very smelly!)
- shot a machine gun/rode in a tank / held gas mask drills (that’s in elementary school during the Cold War, in Europe, where we took civil defense seriously).

So, spill it. If you write, what was the wildest thing you ever actually did that made its way into your book? If you don’t write, what would you consider doing? I’ll go cook dinner, and before I sign off for the night, I’ll do a random drawing for a winner of a signed trade paperback copy of either Zipper Fall or Wild Horses for one of you who responded!

Don’t forget, buy any of my titles or any mystery/suspense from Dreamspinner Press at 25% off, using the code “PavelleBlog” !

“Zipper Fall” release party 5: What’s good for the gander is good for the other gander, too.

September 22, 2013

You might think Wyatt is the wild one and Jack is the voice of reason. Jack merely impersonates a rational adult, though. Now I know that picking locks in real life is a lot harder than in fiction, but I couldn’t resist! Watch Wyatt be a bad influence in this excerpt:

***

SATURDAY afternoon had come and gone, rolling into evening, and I still hadn’t heard from that infuriating, obstinate man. I didn’t want to go out, didn’t want to watch a movie or hang out online; I wanted Jack, and nothing else would do.
Pathetic.
“Hey, Wyatt.” Reyna called me later that night. “I got the most unusual phone call.”
“Yeah?” I was parading around my small apartment in a pair of black silk shorts and a ratty, light-blue T-shirt at least a size too large. With the phone stuck to my ear, I continued straightening up those odds-and-ends that tend to accumulate over a period of several days.
“Yeah. Azurri called. He wanted to ask some personal questions about you.”
“Oh yeah?” I perked up immediately. “Like what?”
“I can’t tell you that.” She giggled. “Oh, nothing harmful, don’t worry too much. It’s just, if I told him about you, he’d tell me about Auguste. They went to school together.”
My heart sank. “Reyna! Did you sell me out?”
“No, you pathetic goofball, I’m giving you a heads-up. Why’d he ask about you if he lost interest, right?”
We talked some more, me trying to pull critical information out of Reyna, her working hard not to let anything slip. She succeeded; I failed.
Resigned to my fate of earning my living through honest work, I poured myself a tall glass of beer, and once its head settled, I navigated it over to the coffee table, where I left my laptop. I settled on the sofa and got to work. The Novack proposal was beginning to look good. He wanted to target novelty seekers and the lunch crowd. For his crepes, he’d do best to advertise with the Francophiles in the area. Over the next two hours I compiled an exhaustive list of French teachers, as well as local schools and translation agencies, and I was about to get started
102 KATE PAVELLE on travel agencies when my ears picked up suspicious noises from my
front door.
Somebody was trying to pick my lock. That bastard.
Karma was out to get me in this life instead of the next. Payback was imminent. I tiptoed to the door, grabbed my old baseball bat off the coat rack, and listened to the burglar’s effort from the other side. I snickered—what a bumbler. Really, my locks were pretty average. I saw no need to draw attention to myself by indulging in high-tech security. A peek out my peephole didn’t show anything, since whoever was trying to burgle me was either bent over or kneeling on the floor. I was just about to call them on their incompetence and laugh in their face when I heard the tumblers align and fall in place, and the door swung open.
I jumped back, the baseball bat at the ready on my shoulder. I crouched behind the opened door, waiting to see who it was so I could whack them a good one for their trouble.
Tall, brown hair…. “Jack?” My voice rose, and he turned, startled.
His eyes widened at the sight of the weapon. Then I saw him relax and push the bat down with his long arm. “Hey, Gaudens. Should I also greet you with a baseball bat?”
I cleared my throat. “As I recall, you greeted me with a gun and tied me to a chair.”
“I guess turn-about is fair play.” He shrugged, sauntered over to the dining nook right off the kitchen, and set a brown paper bag on the table.
I shut the door behind him, turned the lock, and hung the baseball bat back in its place on the coat rack. “Why… why didn’t you call first?” Being fair-minded, I didn’t ask him why he didn’t knock.
“Why should I call?” he asked. “You never do.”
“Actually I always call before I break in, to make sure nobody’s there. Then I knock for good measure. That one time you were asleep. Your phone must have been turned off.”

“Zipper Fall” release party 4: A bit about Jack, Wyatt’s lust interest.

September 22, 2013

Trix and Katherine pinged back with writing tips, which is awesome, and I may try the headphones, especially when I am working on the treadmill desk, which is not nearly as quiet as when I bought it.

I’d like to introduce Jack Azzuri. He has his own tidy parcel of baggage to work through. The most apparent characteristic, aside from a body that must have been sculpted by the ancient Greeks (love handles and all), is his legendary, explosive temper. Wyatt never expected to meet him when he broke into his apartment. All this is laid out front-and-center in the first chapter, which you can read in the sample of DSP’s website. Here is a little detail of Wyatt’s first up-close encounter with the man who would haunt his thoughts forevermore:

***

ELEVEN o’clock could never come soon enough as the far-away wall safe kept crooning its siren song. I barely resisted biting my nails. My microwave clock showed I still had ten minutes to go before departure when, impatient, I pulled on my lightweight, dark green jacket and a baseball cap, hoisted my black backpack, and headed out the door. I walked, using the next twenty minutes to calm down and control my adrenaline levels. I still could back out. I didn’t have to go through with it. The idea died young: it was like paying the entry fee to a public swimming pool and then talking myself out of getting into the water. There was no way I wasn’t getting inside that apartment tonight.

Two blocks away from Azurri’s apartment, I ducked inside an entryway and stuffed my jacket and baseball cap inside the bag. I caught my hair up in my black skullcap, hiding every single strand by feel alone. The black hood of my sweatshirt covered my head as I continued to my target area.
The windows in the corner of the third floor were dark. I dialed the number on my cell phone anyway, but nobody picked up. I sucked in a deep breath.
Shit. I was really going in. I did my phone-check routine, making sure it was on vibrate and the camera flash was off. I also set it on redial, just in case someone was home and I had to distract them—even though that never happened. As a last step, I covered the phone’s screen with three strips of electrical tape. That way, if I had to use it in the dark, I wouldn’t make a target out of myself.
The service entrance in the alley wasn’t equipped with an alarm, and the lock wasn’t hard. Somebody must have miscalculated, thinking there was no point protecting a self-closing door next to a Dumpster. I slipped in like a shadow and took the service elevator all the way up. There was a narrow staircase from the fifth floor to the roof. I took it to an unlocked door. It creaked only a little as I pushed it open, but even that little sound almost made my heart stop. I scanned the flat, asphalt roof and the vents and chimneys to my left. The edge of the roof was to my right. Working fast, I reached inside my backpack and slipped a climbing harness over my black cargo fatigues. I slid my silenced phone into a secure side pocket. The other pocket held my flashlight. I pulled a coil of climbing rope out of the backpack and fastened it to a sturdy chimney. Before I knew it, my feet were anchored on the rim of the ledge and, with the rope wound behind my butt and through my self-belay device, I leaned back over the abyss.

I grinned as the thrill of being suspended over a street threatened to overcome my senses— alone in the dark, unseen. Slowly, I slipped my soft black shoes down the side of the building in careful steps as I fed extra rope through my harness. The soles of my feet felt every contour of the vines and flowers carved into the acid-rain roughened stone, giving me extra purchase. I descended past the glowing fifth- floor window and the dark fourth-floor window, and I had just started to breathe a bit harder when, finally, the third-floor window appeared. I stood on the generous parapet and unclipped myself and let the rope hang by my side. Slowly, I pushed in the glass panes.
Lights from the streets illuminated the Spartan bedroom interior as I slipped in, landing in a crouch. The white carpet gleamed pale amber, reflecting the sodium lamps outside. I look around and froze.
The bed was occupied.

At this point, I should have climbed out the window and back up the building and gotten out of there. Yet I stood here, conflicted between running away and getting a little closer. The bed’s owner was sprawled naked on his back, his head and shoulders shrouded by the shadows. The stark city glow, barely impeded by sheer curtains, accentuated the shady contours of his trim abdomen and his well- muscled legs. I stopped in my tracks, feeling as though a Grecian marble statue from a nearby museum had been placed on this stranger’s bed, displayed for my eyes to feast upon. He was incredible, beautiful in the unearthly glow, and I felt like a lost man, captivated by the sight of his physical beauty. Even if I weren’t into guys, I think I would have gotten hard.
He stirred. I broke from my stunned reverie and looked around fast. The dark corner of the room to my left was my only hope, and then I realized a closet was there, with its door cracked open. I ducked into the shadows, moving fast. I blessed my luck and slipped inside, not making a sound. My breathing came in short, shallow breaths, and my heartbeat felt like a drum against the wall of my chest. I fought to maintain absolute silence. I heard Jack Azurri stir. His bed creaked. Then there was the soft patter of his feet, almost muffled by his lush carpet.
I hope he won’t kill me on sight.

::I swear I’ll never do this again.::

I heard him piss in the bathroom next to me, and I breathed a deep, silent sigh of relief. Maybe, just maybe, I didn’t have to voice any rash oaths just yet.
He flushed and washed his hands.
More footsteps, this time in my direction. Once again I began to negotiate with the powers that be.
“Fuck, it’s hot.” The low, sexy growl shot an arrow of heat down my spine.
I heard him draw the curtains aside and open the window even wider. The heavy evening air stirred, and even more light poured in from the street.
My heart sang in relief.
The mattress creaked as he got back in bed. So far so good. I’d have to wait until he was asleep before I could make my exit out the window, which he, being such a considerate gentleman, had opened even wider for my convenience. I didn’t dare attempt cracking the safe with him there. In fact, I barely dared to breathe. I waited, wondering why the hell he wasn’t on a vacation like he should have been.
Light snoring reached my ears, and I pushed the closet door to the side a little more, just enough to get out comfortably. With painful slowness I peeked around the wooden panel.
There he was, now fully lit by the dramatic glow from outside, legs spread apart, sporting a significant boner. You would think I would be no stranger to that part of male anatomy, but being single, it had been a while since I had seen a full-grown specimen. Also, I had never seen one from someone’s closet while hiding in there, trying to avoid detection. This situation had all levels of awkward written all over it, and as my mouth went dry, I felt a hot blush rise up to my cheeks. All the same, I wasn’t quite willing to look away.

***

Oh Wyatt… you have no couth! I do have couth, though. I even have a discount coupon. Use the “PavelleBlog” discount code to receive 25% off any of my titles, as well as any mystery-suspense titles from Dreamspinner Press. This coupon is good for the next 2 days!
Drop me a line and visit so I can enter your name in a free e-book drawing (Zipper Fall or Wild horses, your choice!)

“Zipper Fall” release party 3: A bit about writing.

September 22, 2013

I get asked about how I write. People who ask me about writing don’t realize that writing is, mostly, about not procrastinating. Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, WordPress, Tumblr, plus any excuse for online research, can send me off course and into the time-sink of browsing to “see who is there.” On a typical day, I wake up at 5:45, respond to email, clear the dishwasher while the coffee is brewing, fix lunches, and put up a load of laundry. Once I walk my daughter to the bus stop and take the dog around the neighborhood, I am ready to write. In order to do that, I push the power button on our WiFi antenna. Yes, I really do. It keeps my word count up and my needless visits to “see who is there” down to zero.

I am an Organic Writer, which means that creating an outline is a sure way to lose interest in the story. After all, I already know what happened, right? So, why bother writing it out? Sometimes, when I am plagued by distracting and unrelated story lines that pop into my mind, I outline them. It’s the surest way to banish them forever. I have the WiFi turned off for 4 hours in the morning, which usually results in 3-5 thousand words. I take a break every 45 minutes to an hour (switch the laundry, water the plants, feed the koi) to move my body around. After lunch, my writing time will be over for the day, and I’ll need to apply myself to business activities that keep the lights on and the WiFi service turned on. In general, I feel very blessed to be able to do this.

And now, I have a question for you. If you do write, what is your favorite trick to keep distractions to a minimum? Respond, and I’ll enter your name into a drawing for a free copy of Wild Horses or Zipper Fall (Your choice!)

Party’s ON! “Zipper Fall” release blogfest Sunday, Sept 22nd!

September 22, 2013

I am online and blogging about Zipper Fall, the 2nd book of the Steel City Series. It can be read as a stand-alone, but if you read the no. 1 book of the series, Wild Horses, you will recognize several characters and landmarks.
I’ve been asked if I climb. Wyatt Gaudens, my POV character, is a climber who misuses his skills for burglary. I do climb a bit, and I was inspired to try it to get over my fear of heights (my wild, adventuring characters do all kinds of things I’d love to be able to do – I live through them vicariously!). I can climb up a wall and rapell down, and I love to boulder when outside. Wyatt is a natural where I am a struggling coward. So now some of you will ask, wait, do you also pick locks?
I tried, using lock picks I bought online. It’s hard, but doable. I watched people pick locks and crack safes, and both activities require patience, a steady hand, and a special touch that seems to come to some people naturally. I’ve never picked a lock that didn’t belong to me, although I’d lie if I claimed that no locks were harmed in the making of this book ;-)

To get more familiar with Wyatt’s mindset, I am going to share a brief excerpt. Our poor, flawed, adrenaline-addicted hero just needs a better source of excitement in his life:

***

Life can be incredibly boring at times, and in order to make it worth living, I need a bit of zing to spice up my dull routine. I’ve always been like that, and besides, I have always been able to talk my way out of anything. My mother used to say I’d make her go prematurely gray with my wild skateboarding antics. After a while, skateboarding wasn’t enough, and I started rock climbing. Small risks turned to bigger risks, except I didn’t want to endanger my climbing buddies by doing something really crazy on the rock face. Instead, I discovered the thrill of occasional and strictly recreational break-ins. Two years ago, I took my first souvenir. I knew it would be missed, which made the experience even more thrilling. Heightening the risk heightened the excitement. Last year, I wore a distinctive ring for a few days. I got away with it, which was almost disappointing, because it was a Superbowl ring. I ended up wiping my prints off and sending it to the local TV station, and its return made the news because anything having to do with the Steelers makes the news. I rode that high for almost a whole month.

***

I have a question for you: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done in search of YOUR adrenaline high? Log in to www.dreamspinner.com/blog so I can see your answer!

“Zipper Fall” release party from noon till dinner EST!

September 22, 2013

Hi everyone, Kate Pavelle here. I hope you can stop by for a launch party for “Zipper Fall,” the 2nd book in the Steel City Series. I’ll be online from noon till dinner today, and will check in after dinner for a bit. There will be excerpts, give-aways, and questions both asked and answered! This is a new thing for me.
I hope you can stop by! Just use the following address: http://blog.dreamspinnerpress.com/blog
See in after lunch!
Kate

Zipper Fall cover

Have You Gotten a Little HUNGRY FOR LOVE?

September 15, 2013
Well, whether you have or not, maybe you’re looking for something to read that warms your heart…and maybe a few other places. My latest book, Hungry for Love, not only hits romance and erotic buttons, it also provokes a little thought about who we are as people and the face, or faces, we choose to show the world.

Today, I’m dropping by the Dreamspinner Press blog to offer you a chance to see why Hungry for Love seems to be touching hot buttons with reviewers and readers alike in only its first couple of days of release. For the next couple of days, or so, when you enter coupon code Rick0915, you’ll get 25% off all my books, including Hungry for Love, plus all contemporaries.


What’s Hungry for Love about? Check out the blurb:

Nate Tippie and Brandon Wilde are gay, single, and both hoping to meet that special man, even though fate has not yet delivered him to their doorstep. Nate’s sister, Hannah, and her kooky best friend, Marilyn, are about to help fate with that task by creating a profile on the gay dating site, OpenHeartOpenMind. The two women are only exploring, but when they need a face and body for the persona they create, they use Nate as the model.

When Brandon comes across the false profile, he falls for the guy he sees online. Keeping up the charade, Hannah begins corresponding with him, posing as Nate. Real complications begin when Brandon wants to meet Nate, but Nate doesn’t even know he’s being used in the online dating ruse. Hannah and Marilyn concoct another story and send Nate out to let the guy down gently. But when Nate and Brandon meet, the two men feel an instant and powerful pull toward each other. Cupid seems to have shot his bow, but how do Nate and Brandon climb out from under a mountain of deceit without letting go of their chance at love?

REVIEWS
From LIVE YOUR LIFE, BUY THE BOOK
“I loved his writing style, I loved the flow of the book, I didn’t feel like there was anything missing by the time the end of the story came around and I was really able to love Brandon and Nate very easily…this story had romance, love, friendship, deception, jealousy, heartbreak…. Read the review.
From ON TOP DOWN UNDER BOOK REVIEW
“…overall, I really enjoyed this book…it was perfect…” Read the review.
From MRS. CONDIT AND FRIENDS READ BOOKS
“…written beautifully with humor, and love, and intelligence. Rick Reed has done a wonderful, wonderful job with this story!!” Read the review.
From AMOS LASSEN REVIEWS
“Reed has never been afraid to tackle the important issues of the LGBT community and here he looks at friendship, love, lies, heartbreak and jealousy while creating characters that we can identify with and grow to love.” Read the review.
From USA Today
I’ve gotten distracted reading a book before but never because I stopped to marvel at the genius of the author...sigh worthy….” Read the review.

BUY from Dreamspinner Press in ebook or in paperback

Release Party Like Fire Through Bone: tackling the tough issues or writing about slavery

September 13, 2013

All right, one last post on a really tough issue before we call it a night.

In general I don’t go in much for non-con or rape fantasies.

I will admit though every once in a while I like indulging in the fantasy of sexual slavery. There is something about having total control over a person, being able to bend them to your will and take what you want without care for their feelings or their desires that can tap into the very darkest parts of my sexual appetite when played out in the safety of my mind or on the pages of a good piece of erotica.

As a historian though I am all too aware of the real world history and cost of slavery.   Owning humans as chattels degrades not just the people who are held in bondage but also the ones who hold them. A society which allows slavery is a society which will allow for a certain level of cruelty to be normalized. For in a society where it is acceptable to buy and sell humans like cattle it also often becomes acceptable to abuse, maim and murder them as well.

As Ira Berlin states “In saves societies by contrast, slavery stood at the center of economic production, and the master-slave relationship provided the model for all social relations: husband and wife, parent and child, employer and employee, teacher and student.”  This is a chilling world view but it does highlight the ways in which the mindset that allowed one man to own another outright affected everyone within that society.

During the editing process my editor mention that several of the characters are referred to as “good master” even though they do thing we would see as terrible or abuse.  They have slaves beaten, solid off to people who will abuse them further and subject their slaves to a thousand tiny acts of degradation daily.

This was very intentional on my part because in the grand scheme of things these characters are “good masters” but they are still people who see nothing morally wrong with owning other human beings and treating them like objects.


It is easy to condemn the beating, mutilation and forced rape of slaves. I think though the fact that Vasilios has to go to his knees every time he enters a room and cannot make eye contact with his “betters” and this is seen as so normal that no one questions it, is more indicative of the kind of damage slavery does to a society at large.

The elephant in the room while writing about Vasilios’ time in captivity is rape. Slaves are not capable of consent. They can not say no especially to their masters but to any free person. For a slave to say know would be to risk severe punishment and would go totally disregarded anyway. A table does not consent, a horse does not consent and in a slave holding society slaves have no more right to consent than a table or a horse.

One of the things that was important to me while writing Like Fire Through Bone was to portray slavery as corrupting and degrading as it historically was and still is.

Vasilios has had sexual encounters with his master but I want to be clear that he in no way consented to them. He submitted to them out of a sense of self preservation and because he knew as owned property he could not say no to his master’s demands.

Further he and Markos can not further any kind of relationship with each other as long as Vasilios is held as a slave. As Markos points out if they were to become involved romantically or sexually before that neither could be completely sure that where wouldn’t be cohesion involved at some level. Markos is an extremely powerful man and business partner to Vasilios’ master. For Vasilios as a slave it would be almost impossible for him to say no to Markos if Markos where to make a pass at him and Markos knows this.
Stories that deal with slaves are a huge part of the romance genre but often these stories do not deal directly with issues like a slaves inability to consent. On the other hand the fantasy of sexual slavery is a potent one. Going into writing Like Fire Through Bone though I wanted to do something more realistic.

So what do you think? Do you prefer a more historically accurate portrayal of slavery? Or do you like like the fantasy better, where the pretty slave falls for his sexy master? Why or why not?

Release Party for Like Fire Through Bone: Let’s Talk Cover Art

September 13, 2013

I was originally going to talk about music but I can’t figure out how to embed the media player so let’s talk about cover art first.

I’ll admit it, I totally judge books by their covers.

As a reader browsing through a brick and mortar bookstore I am far more likely to grab a book that has an exciting or beautiful cover. As a die hard fantasy  and science fiction fan I’m going to be drawn to cover to portray something new and fresh from the genre. A cover with bulky space Marines isn’t going to attract my attention the same way a cover depicting a character walking the streets of a futuristic Delhi would.

When it comes to romance novels I’m just as picky. I’m not a fan of covers which show over developed pectoral muscles as their primarily attraction since they are a dime a dozen in the m/m romance genre. I am much more likely to be attracted to interesting covers even if they are not “sexy” per say. In fact a cover which doesn’t immediately scream “romance” to me is going to be more attractive because it will grab my attention and making me at least read the blurb.

Unless I know the author or have had the book recommended to me the cover art may indeed make or break my decision to buy the book. I know this about myself therefore I take the designing of the covers for my own book very seriously.

Working with a new publisher and new set of cover artists is always a little nerve wracking and the cover art is such an important part of the process that when I sent off my survey form for the cover art of Like Fire Through Bone I was mostly just anxious about how it was going to turn out.

I tried to give as much details about each of the characters as possible along with the over all feeling I was going for.

I really wanted to cover to emphasize the plot and tone of the book over the sex appeal of the characters.

It’s not that Like Fire Through Bone isn’t a sexy book because I think there is great chemistry between Vasilios and Markos and multiple hot sex scenes. On the other hand though the book is not all about the romance as much as it is about combining plot with romance I wanted a cover to reflect that.

What I got back from the talented Brooke Albrecht was four different but equally lovely covers. Two of them really jumped out at me though. In one I loved the cover model and felt like he was closest to my mental picture of Vasilios. The other I was totally in love with the color scene and lettering.

I asked if they could be combined and the cover that resulted was the one we went with. I love it. I think it is a beautiful cover.


“Wow” my brother said to me when I showed it to him “I could see that being a paperback novel in the fantasy section of any bookstore. I’d probably pick it up and read the back too.”

That made me so happy for all sorts of reasons.

So what do people think? What role does the cover art play in your decision whether to buy a book? What kinds of things do you love or hate to see on covers of m/m romance book?

It’s A Release Party!: Like Fire Through Bone

September 13, 2013

Hello all!
I am E.E. Ottoman and I am here to talk about Like Fire Through Bone cones out on Friday 13th, today! I am so excited about this release party which will be going all day and include an awesome coupon code for 25% off all Angel and Demon stories at Dreamspinner somewhere along the way.

You can buy Like Fire Through Bone as an ebook here or as a paperback

First let me introduce myself. I am a graduate student in my late twenties, studying history and living in the greater New York City area. I am a cat lover and an avid home cook. I love menswear and fashion and try to dress as fashionably as possible. I adore all things history, am a big opera fan and love reading mythology. My idea of a perfect day out is a trip to a great museum or art gallery followed by a stunning meal. I am definitely a fantasy author and I love relationships between people and portraying them in all different varieties so romance is an incredibly exciting genre for me.

But enough about me, let’s talk about the book:

Like Fire Through Bone is my first full length novel, although I have written multiple short stories and novellas before this. This is also my first book working with Dreamspinner Press.

When I set out to write it I didn’t set out to write a full length novel. In fact I was aiming for 30,000 words.

I originally had something of a Byzantine/Roman Empire world in mind. I wanted to write a short fantasy adventure story so I came up with a demon who had been terrorizing the capital city stealing away children in the night. The demon was based on old Christian folklore from the Middle East. I came up with two main character Vasilios was a household eunuch who held a kind of secretarial position for a wealthy merchant and Markos who was a General in the Imperial Army.

My original plot outline was simple, they were going to exorcise the demon and then get together as a couple.

I knew Vasilios would have prophetic dreams about the demon and I assumed as soon as he went to Markos with the that information the story would pretty much wrap itself up.

Except it didn’t work like that.

As soon as I started writing Vasilios I realized he was a far more complex character than I had originally intended. I was going to have to deal with his trust issues, his relationship to his master, his relationship to his status as a eunuch, and most importantly the fact that he was a slave.

My outline expanded to deal with the question of Vasilios’ servitude and the real tough questions of portraying slavery in any story.

Then Aritê came into the story. She was originally supposed to be a character mentioned in passing but who never got any actual on screen time, as it were.

As soon as I wrote the scene were Thoefilos describes her though I knew they were going to have to go out into the desert to find her.  With her Aritê  brought the question of faith and the complicated role faith plays in the story.

Suddenly I found myself writing scenes with angels in them and realizing that in some ways the story was also about Vasilios’ faith journey and his relationship with faith, belief and surrender.

At this point the story was over 60k word, twice what I had originally set out to write and I knew they were going to have to out back out into the desert again but this time to a monastery in search of a half-snake monk …

What really surprised me the most about writing the initial draft of the story was how fast it came together. For all that it ended up being almost three times longer than the story I had set out to write, it only took a couple weeks to knock out the first draft.

I wasn’t really sure what to do with it after I had written the first draft though. Going back over and editing something of that length seemed too intimating to me and I had no real idea if anyone asides from me would like it.

The story dealt with some heavy issues like slavery and religion. It also starred a fully castrated main character. As an author I was pretty much unknown in the m/m romance genre and unsure about how much I could get away with.

So I let it sit in my edits folder and went on to write other shorter works. At some point though I mentioned its existence in passing to the amazing LJ LaBarthe who was, to my shock, excited about reading it. She offered to beta read it for me and do some historical facts checking which I desperately needed.

Her enthusiasm made me reconsider. I dug the manuscript out and read over it. I was shocked by how much I liked the story and set about editing it.

Originally my world building had been very Euro-centric. Reevaluating I went back and did some research widening my inspiration pool to include some amazing non-European civilizations and cultures. I also reevaluated my reasoning for making my cast white. “Did my characters need to be white?” I asked myself and discovered that they didn’t.

I also broke the story up into chapters.

When I was done going over it I sent it off to LJ who went over it with a fine tooth comb, doing an especially good job catching, correcting or adding historical details.

We had some great back and forth over different articles of clothing, some of which I made up and some of which are historical, different foods, and what the monitory system for my world was like.

When she was done I went over it again this time looking for consistency in overall tone and overarching themes. I added the second sex scene since I felt there were things that hadn’t been addressed in the first one.

Finally I submitted it to Dreamspinner Press and kept my fingers crossed that they would take a chance and accept it.

Which they did!

It might not be as related to my process of writing but I am genuinely curious, what do all of you love in fantasy? What attracts you to the sub-genre of fantasy romance? Or if you are not ordinarily into the sub-genre  what makes you interested in Like Fire Through Bone?