What If? with Amberly Smith

August 28, 2015

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Anyone up for a game of what-if? That’s how my story Marriage Most Convenient all started, what-ifs and friendship. I’m Amberly Smith and I’m really psyched to chat you all up.

My best girlfriend and I have known each other for over twenty years, since high school. Our kids are of an age, our spouses are proud geeks, and we’ve got the good dirt on each other. A while ago she showed me a listing for a military silo and the what-ifs began. We probably drank oolong tea and ate homemade ginger cookies, though I can’t recall for sure. It might have been a Saint Mark for me and a Long Island for her. The silo’s previous owners had converted the bunker-grade home into a beautiful retreat and had several acres to sell separately. What if you wanted to buy this place? What if you could only fly in and out because there were no roads? Where would you get the money? Who would you have to kill, sleep with, or marry to have that kind of dough? I like my creature comforts, I don’t want to live in the middle of nowhere, so what kind of person does?

The thing about what-if, it’s a game that can haunt you. Play with caution, fellow readers, play with caution. I wrote Marriage Most Convenient as a way of answering those questions. And because marriage of convenience stories, who doesn’t love those? From back cover blurb:

No bank is going to give a nomadic thrill seeker a loan. Even if Tom Flynn wants to develop and run a retreat for disabled kids. Good thing he is finally old enough to pull from his trust fund. However, it would mean settling down—because accessing the money requires him to be married—so he asks his best friend, Luke, to marry him.

So this is where the friendship steps back in. I love stories with banter, with characters who know each other well enough to see the flaws. Yes, there is still the excitement of new love, a deeper connection but with friendship? That complicates things, makes things more vibrant.

Luke Marten’s goal is simple: don’t go on one more crazy adventure with Tom. Knowing how successful he has been in the past, Luke has a backup plan: don’t fall in love. He’s a goner when Tom not only proposes but confesses to one seriously hot kink.

For their friendship to survive this marriage, they’ll need to face DOMA, conservative judges, and long held beliefs about each other. Talk about getting caught by the short hairs.

 

The story I’m working on now is different, futuristic sci-fi, but it also started with a question. What if the government figured out how to make super soldiers but no one man can hold all the abilities?

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Now for a rousing game of what-if, your turn edition. What if you desperately need a vacation? How far would you go to get what you want? And, because all great adventures should involve friendship, who do you take with you?

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You can also chat me up on Facebook, my website, Twitter or Goodreads.

 

Check out Marriage Most Convenient today!

MarriageMostConvenientFS

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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Man’s Best Friend with K. Lynn

July 22, 2015

-POP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Get your copy of Must Love Dogs here!

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Author bio:

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

 

Wrapping it up folks!

March 27, 2015

One of the fun things about writing a book is that I can make playlists for it or identify unofficial theme songs. For “The Serpent and the Angel,” there is a song by Falconer called “Wings of Serenity” that is such a perfect fit, it’s eerie. If Tobias could sing, that would be his song for Angel.

 

Here it is and it is work safe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-lTBVsaZ2I

You can find the lyrics here: http://www.metrolyrics.com/wings-of-serenity-lyrics-falconer.html

 

I love his voice, I love the lyrics, I love the music… everything! This is the sort of music I listen to frequently.

 

I don’t always find a theme song or a love song from one character to another, but when I do, it’s magical!!

 

That about wraps it up for me this time around. I’ll probably be back when “Predator and Prey” is ready to be released. One of my favorite things about writing is coming up with the titles for the stories. Sometimes I already know the title even before I start to write and other times I have to edit the story a few times before the title reveals itself. It can be the most frustrating part, yet also the most gratifying especially when I come up with that perfect title.

 

I enjoy this title because of the contrast—”serpent” often means evil and “angel” often means good. But nothing is ever so black and white, there are always shades of grey (and no, I’m not talking about that book).

 

May dragons guard your dreams,

-M.D.

Villains

March 27, 2015

Hi there! Still promoting my story “The Serpent and the Angel” book 8 of my Shifters series. http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6201

 

As I stated in my first post, “The Serpent and the Angel” continues the story of the scrolls and their guardians. But I also wanted to mention that it also furthers the story of the main villain of my series: in present days, he’s known as Arcas, but he’s had many names over many centuries. Some of my readers might have guessed it already and that’s great, I really don’t want it to be a secret, but I also wanted a little intrigue and mystery surrounding my villain.

 

There’s a reason I spent some time describing Arcas’s sapphire blue eyes and his beauty. Lady Anne Blackthorn (Hunted Guardian) had sapphire blue eyes and was a great beauty. Another character will appear in “The Serpent and the Angel” that has the same eyes and similar beauty. Try and spot him! (yes, it’s a man).

 

My villain is just as important as my heroes, perhaps even more so. He works behind the scenes as well as occasionally stepping to the front. He has a goal/plan and nothing will stop him from executing it. ;) I really love to hate that guy.

 

What are your thoughts on villains? Do you love to hate them? Just plain hate them? Or would you rather see more of them in a story?

 

-M.D.

Excerpt!

March 27, 2015

Hello everyone! M.D. Grimm here promoting “The Serpent and the Angel,” the latest story in my Shifters series.

 

“The Serpent and the Angel” continues the story of the ancient scrolls and their bird guardians. For those of you puzzled by the direction I’m taking with this series, rest assured I have a plan, the scrolls are very important and that’s why I’m diving into the past to introduce them. And because it’s fun J

 

If you want to learn more about my “grand plan” for the series, you can check out my blog at: http://www.mdgrimmwrites.com/#!blog/cqsg

I share all you ever wanted (or not wanted) to know!

 

I’m not too familiar with historicals, which is why I wanted to challenge myself with “Hunted Guardian” (book 7), “The Serpent and the Angel” (book 8), and the nearly-completed book #9 “Predator and Prey.” I wanted to introduce the scrolls in a historical setting to set up where they are in the present (which will be books #10-#12, and possibly later ones).

 

Now here’s a short excerpt:

 

Tobias knew how to intimidate, to make others fear. Lord knew it was his greatest skill. He had a deadly stare, aptly like that of a rattlesnake, and his eyes, his expression, were blistering cold. His boots thumped up the two steps of the general store’s long porch before he entered the building itself. He turned smartly to the counter where an older gentlemen, one in a snappy suit, stood, waiting for the few customers inside to purchase their items. The man’s gaze shot to Tobias’s, and he visibly paled, his eyes widening.

With a casual lean on the counter, which didn’t fool anyone, Tobias lifted the brim of his hat a fraction before considering the man.

“Good morning, Mr. Thompson.”

Mr. Thompson had to clear his throat before he found his voice. “Good morning, Sheriff.”

“I hear we might have a problem.”

He blinked. “Problem, sir?”

“Aye, a problem. Namely, a problem you might have with a few of the hardworking miners the coal mine employs.”

“I got no problem with those men.”

Tobias’s lips lifted slightly. It wasn’t a smile. “Right glad I am to hear it, Mr. Thompson. That puts my mind at ease. Now, I’ll just leave here and go tell those nice hardworking Chinese men that you don’t have a problem with them.”

Mr. Thompson scowled, his wrinkled face becoming more wrinkled. “Damn Chinamen. What kinda trouble they causing now?”

Tobias lifted his eyebrows. “They claimed, mistakenly, I’m sure, that you be raising the prices for them, while keeping the prices reasonable for the other miners. I reckon that ain’t true, is it, sir?”

Mr. Thompson, while obviously still wary of the sheriff, didn’t seem to want to appear cowardly. There were a few decent women in the store, including his seamstress wife, who were obviously staring at the two of them, eager to see what transpired.

“They come to this country, stealing work from decent folk. Lord knows they gotta damn pay for it.”

Tobias tilted his head slowly to one side, his eyes flat, his face emotionless. Then, without warning, Tobias lashed out. He gripped Mr. Thompson’s collar and yanked him forward, causing his upper half to lie flat along the counter. Mr. Thompson gasped and choked, his eyes reeling. Tobias shoved his face near the older man’s, their noses almost touching.

“Let me make myself perfectly clear, Mr. Thompson,” Tobias said in a low voice only the two of them could hear. “Consider this your only warning. Whether it’s a Negro, Chinaman, Indian, or a damn dandy who walks into this store, you had better treat them with the same decency you treat those who look like you.”

Mr. Thompson sputtered. Tobias tightened his hold, his strength absolute.

“I don’t got a use for bigots in this town, and you know how I feel about useless folk.”

Mr. Thompson paled even further, his eyes growing dark with terror.

Tobias paused, making sure his point sunk into the man’s thick skull. “If a person got a use in this town, they get the same damn items for the same damn price. Have I made myself clear?”

“Aye.” It was nearly a squeak.

Tobias let go and shoved Mr. Thompson lightly on the shoulder, sending him back across the counter. Mr. Thompson stumbled and panted, his hands shaky as he tried to straighten his clothing.

Tobias gripped the hem of his vest and gave a light tug to resituate it, before smoothing out his shirt. He sniffed and lowered the brim of his hat again, casting his face into shadow, his eyes the only things gleaming.

“Remember, Mr. Thompson, I only give one warning.”

Mr. Thompson nodded vigorously, gulping. “Y—yes, sir.”

Tobias spun on his heal, tipped his hat to the ladies who stood behind him, stunned. Then he was gone, striding out of the store and back down the lane. The sun glinted off the sheriff’s star pinned to his vest as he now observed his surroundings. Parkers Hollow was a tough town with tough people, and he had damn well be tougher. That had never been hard for him. He was cold, detached, and merciless. He’d never pretended to be otherwise. Lord knew he was exactly the type of sheriff a town like this needed.

He lived by one rule: If a person had a use, then that person deserved his protection. In these rough lands, there wasn’t any room for laziness or parasites. The last sheriff had learned that lesson quickly… when Tobias had put a bullet in his brain. The man had been a corrupt, drunken horse turd in fancy suits. He’d certainly had no use whatsoever.

 

Which do you prefer: series with the same couple/characters every book or different characters/couples but with a related theme?

 

I shall be back!

-M.D.