Love and Fear with L.J. LaBarthe – Post + Giveaway

October 2, 2015

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Hello everyone, I’m L. J. LaBarthe and I’m here to talk about my new release, “A Candle in the Sun.”

 

This book is the final book in my series, “The Archangel Chronicles.” It’s a little bittersweet for me, because it is the last book and it’s the end of working with these characters who have occupied much of my time and my brain. I have loved every moment of working on this series and I hope that readers have enjoyed it as much as I have.

 

“A Candle in the Sun” was conceived along with the previous two books just prior to my moving house. I wrote the book while I was in the middle of packing boxes and let me tell you, there’s nothing more exhausting than packing all the things you own when you want to get back to a book! I had the first draft down when I moved, and then when I was in my new home, I discovered something horrifying, nay, terrifying and beyond any disaster I can describe.

 

I had no internet.

 

This was the case for about six weeks and it was because I live in a valley and our cable/fiber network here in Australia isn’t that great. My ISP had to put an antenna on the roof of the place, and of course they couldn’t do that while it was raining and wet. And what happened in the first six weeks of writing? If you guessed that it rained and wet, you are spot on. It was incredibly frustrating because I needed to check things, and I had edits to do and it was just one of those times you want to bang your head on the wall and scream. Thankfully, once the internet was connected, I could get back into things but not having the internet right there at my fingertips made me realize just how much I relied on it for research.

 

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The characters in the book rely on the internet as well—Max, the hacker character, provides a lot of information to lovers Gabriel and Michael and to their allies. Archangels they might be, but the two of them are not well versed in the ways of the internet, and their frustration was quite easy to relate to once I had no internet myself!

 

I’d always intended this book to be the end of this “chapter” if you will for the couples in the series. Michael and Gabriel are together, as are Raziel and Uriel, Adramelek and Lucifer, Baxter and Liam, and many others. They go through many ups and downs, some supernatural and paranormal, some not. Baxter has paranoias that Liam may not love him; Michael wonders why Gabriel stays with him when Michael thinks he himself is not that desirable; Adramelek can’t believe his luck that Lucifer wants him; Raziel fears that Uriel may get bored with him. And in between all of this is a conspiracy to destroy all non-Earth life—angels, demons, shifters, monsters—by a group of fearful, greedy humans.

 

Love and fear are two great motivators. The main characters are motivated by both—the love they have for each other in their romantic relationships, and for their nearest and dearest and the fear they have that they will be forever banished from the place that they’ve called home or treated as home for as long as they can remember. None of them want to give that up, and none of them want to lose the simple things that I think all of us want: freedom to live in peace, freedom to love and freedom to live without fear.

 

I’m doing a giveaway of “A Candle in the Sun.” To win a copy, leave a comment answering the following question: Name one of the couples listed above and what their relationship fears or worries are.

 

A lot of the action takes place in country Montana, which, the internet tells me, is absolutely beautiful. If you had to pick a place that was picturesque and good for a battle between the forces of good and evil, where would you choose?

 

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There are a lot of characters in this book as in the preceding eight, but there is also a dramatis personae and I hope that I’ve done them all as much justice as they deserve. This series has been a labor of love for the last several years, now is time for me to move on. I’m making notes for a planned vampire detective quartet, and have a little book of many notes for other novels that I’m sure will end up being written. (I hope!)

 

Thanks for joining me today, and once again, please join in the conversation and giveaway.

 

Cheerio from Australia,

 

L. J. LaBarthe.

Check out A Candle in the Sun and the Archangel Chronicles!

 

Pictures of the elk rut

September 30, 2015

Okay folks, I think this is the last post. We’re running a bit late and by the time I get home, it’ll be too late to wrap this up. I hope everyone has enjoyed getting to know a bit more about the three hot guys of “The Kachina Job” as well as a little insight into their alternate shapes. To close this out, I’m going to share some brand new pictures that I took this afternoon while we were out stalking elk in Rocky Mountain National Park. Even when I’m out hunting with a camera, it triggers that primal hunter inside me and gets the blood going.

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The crowds are less during the week than on the weekend…just image what a mess this would be in a couple of days.

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This little blue bird has got a major attitude about him. I can just imagine him getting up in someone’s face, snapping his feathers and throwing shade.

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These two were determined to chase each other around for a while. Lots of bugling and showing off.

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Just a bit of bugling.

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Couldn’t resist the trees in the background. Gotta love the changing aspens.

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A young guy still wet from digging in the creek.

So folks, thanks for stopping by and finding out about “The Kachina Job” and getting a look at fall in Colorado. I’ll check the comments on the previous post later and pick a winner for the free e-book. I also need to ask people’s patience with my pictures. These are fresh out of the camera and haven’t had any editing, and we all know that writers are only as good as their editors.

In Parting, here’s the buy link for “The Kachina “ now go out and prowl around a bit.

Thanks,

A.J. Marcus

Back Country exploration post and giveaway with A.J. Marcus

September 30, 2015

So we’re over halfway through with this round of the blog take over for the release of “The Kachina Job”. Normally I do these blog post days sitting at my computer at the house, posting interesting things and being really engaging folks. Today we’re doing things a little different. I’m out exploring Estes Park Colorado and Rocky Mountain National Park. We drove a couple of hours for the elk rut. It’s our second trip up this year, the first one was rather lack luster and this one is still a bit of a disappointment compared to previous years.

Rocky Mountain National Park, RMNP, is one of the best spots around for wildlife viewing. Today we saw a few elk, some blue birds and mule deer. The action with the elk herds was low. Just a few big bulls starting to gather harems. Several times we thought we were about to have some action between the bulls, and they broke it off before things got interesting.

At one point we had a young bull…probably 3 years old or so based on his size and weak bugling. He started walking toward a spot where an older bull had gathered a dozen or so cows. The big bull walked a few steps toward him, bugled, marked territory for a second and the young guy turned and walked away. The only plus to him walking away was that he came closer and gave us the opportunity to get some better shots.

As usual during rut, the elk were close enough to the roads that if you were lucky and parked close enough you didn’t have to walk far…the problem that’s often encountered is there are more people than elk. At one point we had to park about half a mile a way and hike in to the hot spot where other photographers were set up snapping pictures like crazy.

I’ve done some hiking in the area where I envision Read Peak, New Mexico. It’s a much different environment from what I went through today. Coyotes, mule deer, mountain lion and jack rabbits abound…(jack rabbits..abounding…) okay, I’ll go on. In a lot of little towns, be they mountain, desert or whatever, the residents are more accustomed to encounters with nature than folks in the big city have had.  Me personally, I think this makes life fun and exciting. I love sitting at my computer, looking out the window and seeing deer, coyotes, goshawks and more wander through the yard.

With the predatory shifters, they embrace nature and thrill in the hunt. I can connect with the idea of that. Shifters touch on our more primitive selves and I think that’s where the allure of them comes from. The call to that part of our brains that need to break free of the urban jungle that so many of us are trapped in.

Now here’s our contest. Leave me a comment and tell me about any wild animal encounters you’ve had, and or the thing that really attracts you to shifters. In a couple hours I’ll figure out a random comment to get an e-copy of “The Kachina Job” So leave me comments.

In the next post, if I can convince my camera to give up some good pictures, I’ll post them to show how my afternoon has gone.

Dangerous, but wise? with A.J. Marcus

September 30, 2015

Dangerous, but wise?

This time we’re going to take a look at our owl shifter, Shannon O’Flaherty. Personally, I like Shannon better than the other two…don’t tell them that, we’re not supposed to play favorites. Shannon is the sheriff of Red Peak, New Mexico. He moved away from Albuquerque after a disastrous breakup. When the opportunity came along for a raise and a move, he jumped on the chance. Shannon is also an enforcer in the paranormal world. He struggles to keep the regular humans from discovering that there really are things that go bump in the night. When he answers an alarm call at one of the local residences and spies a mountain lion running off through the desert night with a backpack on, he realizes the situation calls for his enforcer position and not just his sheriff’s badge. As the situation turns out to not be a cut and dried one, he adapts quickly but is very surprised when he bonds to first Daniel, then finds Phillip fitting into their lives as well.

Shannon is a fairly stable and straightforward guy. Having the two cat shifters around upsets his life in ways he could never dream of, but he quickly finds that he welcomes the change and chaos the two men bring to his mostly quiet existence. The biggest question is if his deputy will handle things in a civilized manner, or will she shoot first and ask questions later.

Just below the surface of Shannon’s human form hovers the deadly talons of an eagle owl. Owls are found in every environment in the world, save for Antarctica. The eagle owls are the largest of the owls. Here in North America, we only have one species of eagle owl, the great horned owl. Great horned owls are the classic hoot owl. Not many people actually see them, or even know where they despite the fact there are a ton of them living in the cities around us. Great horned owls occupy the same ecological niche as red tailed hawks. It’s a fairly safe bet that if you see red tailed hawks during the day, there are great horned owls at night. They and the other owls go to great lengths to make sure the rodent populations don’t grow out of control.

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Now, let’s see how Shannon feels about things:

 

He laughed again. It felt good to laugh. Until that moment, he didn’t realize he hadn’t been doing much of that recently. “Elisa, you do have a way with words. Okay, as long as it stays fun, I’ll keep them around, if they want to be kept around.”

“So you haven’t run background checks on them yet, then? It might be a good idea. Help you find out if either one of them is keeping anything from you that could come back to bite you.”

She didn’t know about his very powerful hearing and how hard it was for people to lie to him. “No, I haven’t run background checks on them. I’m trusting them to be honest right now. I’m not you. I don’t have to know everything about everyone in my life.”

“Yeah, but those background checks can come in handy. They kept me from falling in with that sexy polygamist last year, or that biker who was wanted for armed robbery a few months ago.”

“I’d almost forgotten about those guys,” Shannon lied. He remembered all of her boyfriends. “You catch more criminals in your bed than we do in the streets. Maybe we should hang a sign on your porch to let them all know they should stop by for the night. You can become the new criminal-trap motel. Criminals check in, but they always leave in cuffs.”

So have any of you encountered owls in your journey through our world?

We’ll be back here in a little while with a few questions and a give away.

 

A Most Dangerous Cat with A.J. Marcus

September 30, 2015

A Most Dangerous Cat

We’re back with another shifter. Daniel Hernandez is a jaguar shifter who’s led a less than savory life up until he meets Phillip and Shannon. Daniel embraces the power that comes with his jaguar. He’s made his living doing jobs of various kinds for the highest bidder. He does care what the job is, as long as it pays well. He’s seeking to move up in the world and so he takes the job to steal the wolf kachina when it comes his way. It sounds like an easy job, and would’ve been if Phillip had beat him to the house.

As far as his love life goes, Daniel treats it like he does the rest of his life, fast and easy. He’s not above screwing his way in and out of various situations as long as he doesn‘t form any lasting ties to the people he’s screwing. Sex for Daniel is loose and just a way to get what he wants. He’s very surprised when Sex with Phillip and Shannon turns out to be more than just a little fling.

Inside Daniel resided, pound for pound, the most powerful big cat in the world. Jaguars might be the third largest big cat, only African lions and tigers are larger, but jaguars are the more powerful and dangerous cat. Like the cougars, jaguars are perfectly suited for their environment which extends from the desert Southwest through the jungles of South America. Like most cats the jaguar is an extreme opportunist. Its prey ranges from large hoofed stock to birds, and even reptiles. Since jaguars love swimming, they’ll often take on caimans and other crocodilians that they encounter in the tropical rivers and streams.

Jaguars often come into contact with humans as their territory shrinks and the human world expands. Although jaguars can do incredible amounts of damage to humans, any conflict with man ultimately ends up to the determent of the cats. Luckily there are still vast stretches of rainforest and desert for the jaguars to call home.

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Let’s take a look at a scene from Daniel’s POV.

Seconds later Daniel closed the bedroom door. He didn’t bother turning on the light as he pulled out his cell phone. He hit Two and Send. When he lay back on the bed, Shannon’s musky scent engulfed him like a worn, familiar comfortable blanket.

The call was answered on the second ring. “Daniel, where are you? Are you in trouble? I know something’s wrong.”

“Aunt Louisa, it’s good to hear your voice. I’m fine. Well, not really. I need to ask you some questions.”

“Questions? What kind of questions do you have? I can’t get you out of trouble again. I don’t have the cash.”

Daniel shook his head. She knew she was the first person he called when he was in trouble. And she always said she didn’t have the money to save his ass, but she never failed to save him, no matter how bad things were. “I don’t need cash. I’m not in jail or anything. Yeah, a job went bad, but I’m working through that. Some other stuff has happened, and I need some advice. I’ve met somebody, and I can’t stop thinking about him. I’m not even acting like a rude-ass punk around him. It’s like he’s family already.”

Thanks to his sensitive hearing, he could pick up the sound of her long lacquered nails tapping on the Formica tabletop in her kitchen. “Is he a jaguar like you are?”

“He’s a wer, but not a jaguar.”

“What is he?”

“An owl.” Daniel smiled at the vision of Shannon flying off into the night.

“An owl? Where on earth did you find a wereowl?”

“Northern New Mexico, but where isn’t important. Why is my attitude changing?”

More silence except for the tapping, which stopped a second or so before she spoke again. “Is the attitude change just when he’s around, or is it affecting you with everyone?”

Daniel thought about it for a moment. He hadn’t even hurt Phillip at the idea of him flirting with Shannon. “At first it was just around him, but it’s spreading.”

“If I know you, the two of you have already had sex.”

“Yeah. I mean, not all the way, but yeah.” He loved his aunt, and they had a great relationship, but he wasn’t about to actually split hairs about a blow job versus an ass pounding.

“It sounds like you might be bonding to him. A mate bond is unusual cross-species like that, especially two very different species like jaguar and owl. Now if he was something like a mountain lion, the chances would be a lot more possible.”

Daniel rolled his eyes, then stared up at the dark ceiling. Do I really want to bond to Shannon? He’s cool and all, really sexy, but can I see myself with a police officer for the rest of my life? “How can I tell for sure?”

“If you were close by me, I’d tell you to come over and let me take a look at the two of you, but no, you have to be all the way across the state when you call your dear auntie for help in this matter.”

“Aunt Louisa, how can I tell if we’re bonding?” He tried not to sound too impatient.

“You didn’t swear at me, my darling Daniel. Even from here I can tell a change in you. Look within yourself, and see what you find there. Talk to your cat and listen to him. Your cat will know for sure, even if you don’t.”

 

Check back in a little while and learn a bit about Shannon, find out what makes him tick.

The Not-so Cowardly Mountain Lion with A.J. Marcus

September 30, 2015

These next couple of posts, we’ll explore different characters in “The Kachina Job” and the animals inside them. The first character we meet in the book is Phillip Two Hands, he’s a young Navaho Indian who has become a thief and is hired to steal a really ugly wolf kachina. At 25, Phillip still lives on the reservation with his grandparents who haven’t bothered to teach him much about being a Mountain Lion shifter after his parents were killed by hunters. Phillip is desperate to fit in somewhere, after he was dumped by the boyfriend who taught him to be a thief, he’s been making a living stealing things while he waits for something to come along and lead him down his life’s calling. Without giving too much away, he finds it by the end of the book.

The cat inside Phillip is an interesting one. Mountain lions range across the Americas, from the Arctic Circle down to the tip of South America. They are highly adaptable cats and in some parts of their range are considered nuisance animals. In other parts, like the south end of Florida, the Florida panther, is highly endangered. Mountain lions are known by many names, mountain lions, puma, cougar, catamount, and panther are the main ones.

In the mountains and the desert areas, the cat’s tawny coat is perfect camouflage for it to blend into its surrounds. This natural ability to blend makes it very hard to spot a mountain lion. Here in Colorado, we say that if you see a mountain lion, it’s been watching you for quite some time. You can live in the mountains for years and never see them. Our neighbors have spotted them on our place, but we’ve never seen more than the very rare paw print. It’s both scary and cool at the same time.

Like all cats, mountain lions prey on anything they can get their teeth and claws into. They are supremely opportunistic. Their favorite meal, is deer. One of the big reasons that people are encouraged to not feed deer is that it attracts mountain lions. This can be detrimental to both the cat and the people. If you actually get to see a mountain lion in the wild, consider yourself lucky and if possible, take lots of pictures.

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This is Tawney, one of the mountain lions that lives at CARE.

 

Now, let’s have a short scene from Phillip’s POV:

Phillip Twohands made his way quietly through the large dog door. Easing into the mudroom, he let the plastic flap trail along his backpack and slowly lowered his tail so that no sound betrayed his passage. I hope my information is right and the family’s out, he thought, moving from the mudroom into the kitchen. The whole place smelled overly clean, but beyond some old food, there were no recent scents of people or dogs. He relaxed.

The kitchen was as expensively outfitted as the rest of the place. High-end stainless steel appliances sat among black marble countertops. The black marble was also on the floor tiles that muffled his padded footfalls. Week-old pizza was the only thing that registered on his sense of smell, other than the recent use of ammonia cleaners.

From the kitchen he headed to the living room. The black tiles gave way to mahogany hardwood. Phillip stayed silent as he moved across the wood. His claws were retracted, and the heavy pads of his feet didn’t make a sound as he walked to the display cabinet next to the massive stone fireplace. Just as the information said, the shelves behind the glass held a selection of Hopi kachinas.

He quickly spotted the one that had a wolf’s head with real wolf fur around the neck. He shivered. This has to be the ugliest kachina I’ve ever seen. But I’m not being paid to be an art critic. I’m being paid to steal this thing and get it back to Francis Mendoza. I still don’t know why he couldn’t just send a member of his pack for it.

Phillip turned from the display case and looked around the living room. He shook his head. No obvious cameras. With all the ones outside, I’m surprised by that.

Taking a deep centering breath, Phillip willed himself to drop his puma form and become human. The wood floor was colder on his bare feet than it had been on his paws. The air conditioner blew cold air that raised goose pimples on his arms. He wondered why they had to keep things so cold in the rich houses.

He shivered as he took his backpack off and opened it. The soft silk cloth he’d been given to transport the thing unfolded easily in his hands. Phillip hung it over his arm as he pulled on the display case door. It didn’t budge. He glared at it. Just my luck. I knew this was going too easily. I bet he’s got the key on him too.

After setting the backpack on the floor in front of the case, then draping the silk over it so he could still access the side pocket, he pulled out a lockpicking kit. He selected two picks and made short work of the lock.

As he opened the case, an alarm rang out, and every light in the house came on. “Shit!”

Phillip grabbed the wolf-headed kachina and quickly wrapped it in the silk. He still had plenty of room in the backpack, so he grabbed a few of the other figures as well but didn’t bother wrapping them. Even as he slipped the backpack over his shoulders and snapped its waistband shut, he shifted back to his puma form.

Once again on four paws, Phillip ran for the dog door. Every few feet, the sound of a well-hidden still camera clicking was louder than the alarm. He didn’t care how he’d managed to miss it previously. How will they be able to track a mountain lion with a backpack on? And who would believe them anyway? Lions don’t wear backpacks and break into houses to steal things.

Phillip made it almost all the way across the side yard and to the safety of the desert when a loud roar overpowered the alarms from the house. The sound caused him to stumble. Who the hell is that?

Something moved from behind a large rock where the manicured lawn gave way to desert scrub. Phillip tried to dodge, but it caught him in the hip and spun him around as he scrambled to stay on his feet.

The bright lights from the house and porch momentarily blinded him. Phillip blinked. A large sleek silhouette inserted itself between him and the house. It was a huge cat, nearly twice his size.

 

I’ll be back in a bit and we’ll talk about Daniel Hernandez, our Jaguar, until then, tell what you think about mountain lions. Have you had any encounters with them in the past, either in the wild, or in zoos, or nature centers? They are one of the cats that really touch my soul.

Mountain Lions, Jaguars, and Owls, oh my! with A.J. Marcus

September 30, 2015

Hey readers! Looks like I’m taking over the Dreamspinner blog for a few hours. I’m A.J. Marcus, and this is all to promote my new release “The Kachina Job.” This book marks the first time, although not the last time, that I’ve ventured into the world of shifter romance. I decided to go with some shifters that aren’t well explored in M/M romance and also decided to try my hand at a ménage story at the same time. When I got the responses back from my beta readers, I knew I’d done something right. And with the reviews I’ve seen so far…yes I read some reviews…the readers are pleased with the story and we might have to come back and explore some of the ideas I’ve tossed out in the world in future books.

Over the next few hours, with my series of posts, I’ll explore the various characters and the animals that inspired them. For folks who are familiar with my writing, you know that the animals are as important in my books as the people, and in a world where the people can become animals, it opens up a whole new palate of opportunities. I love what a lot of writers do with shifters, and then there are writers that make me cringe with what they do with shifters. I urge people to please study the animals they write about be it real animals or fantasy shifters. Understanding makes things that much more real.

In the case of the shifters in “The Kachina Job”, I’ve worked with both birds of prey and big cats in the past. I’ve had birds in my life for years, they are incredibly fascinating and even as a master falconer, I still learn things every day, when I choose to listen. With the big cats, I spent several years while I lived in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex being photographer for the Bridgeport Nature Center, now called CARE, Center for Animal Research and Education. The big cats are awesome, but I do urge folks not to try and make them pets. They are wild animals. A lion or tiger in your house will eat your couch, dog, and possibly you. At least with most raptors, they can learn to tolerate the silly humans they share the world with.

I tried to bring some of my knowledge of these incredible animals to my story with the three hunky shifters as they struggle to find the missing kachina and work out their feelings toward each other all before the evil werewolf can claim the power that will reshape the shifter world in his dark image.

Here’s the cover and the blurb for “The Kachina Job”

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Phillip Twohands is a thief and a weremountain lion. When he takes a job stealing an ugly kachina, he never realizes it will change his life forever. Daniel Hernandez is a werejaguar who is hired to steal the same kachina by the same werewolf who hired Phillip. When their paths cross, it becomes clear the tension between them is not all about rivalry.
The local sheriff, Shannon O’Flaherty, catches them in the act and has no choice but to take the two into his personal custody, which quickly ends up with the three of them in bed together.
When they learn the kachina has an ancient wolf spirit trapped inside, they rally to prevent it from transferring its power to the werewolf who hired them, but it will take all the strength in their new bond to succeed.

Here’s the buy link for “The Kachina Job”

Next post we’ll look at Phillip as a character and the mountain lion inside him.

Louise Lyons – new release Beautiful Thunder and current works

August 31, 2015

Hi everyone, Louise Lyons still on the blog.

A few people have asked me lately what I’m currently working on, now that Beautiful Thunder has taken its first step out into the world.

Well, firstly I’ve been working on edits for a novella entitled Finding Beck and have just received the cover art for it. It’s set in the same time period as Beautiful Thunder (the 1990s) but is based in my old hometown, Grimsby and Cleethorpes (the two are merged together), in the UK. I used to go to another rock nightclub called Jezebels who had a rock night on Fridays, and my main character, Martin Lynch, meets his love interest Beck in that club. The pair quickly fall for each other, but worry about the potential reactions of Martin’s housemate Graham, and both sets of parents. Some responses are better than others! You can expect to see this available around the middle of October.

I’m also working on a full length novel set in Prague, another city I’ve visited. The book is entitled Cervena, which is “red” in Czech and is the name of a strip/dance/cocktail club owned by main character, Joel Jones, an Englishman who has lived in Prague for ten years. He discovers a young homeless Russian boy named Sasha, offers him a job as a dancer, and quickly develops a strong attraction to Sasha. But their new relationship is fraught with obstacles including the death of Joel’s mother in London, betrayal by his business partner, Karel, and threats from someone to whom Karel owes a substantial amount of money. Joel is convinced he will lose Sasha one way or another, and has to decide what is most important to him – Cervena or Sasha.

This story is about four chapters away from being finished so I’m hoping to wrap it up in the next month.

I also have my first sci-fi romance in the pipeline. Regeneration was written during NaNoWriMo last year and finished during the month following. Kim Fortune is the only survivor of a new type of enhanced human in the galaxy of Sigma Kappa, far in the future. Having escaped the lab where he was created, he spends the first few years of freedom as an explorer, until he runs into a more successful member of his species – Christian Novak. Christian is everything Kim was supposed to be, but didn’t quite make the grade in, and he’s envious, confused, and insanely attracted to Chris. There seems no hope for them in the war-torn galaxy and Kim is convinced Chris will never feel anything for him – until Chris risks his life to rescue Kim from imprisonment after a crash landing on an inhospitable planet.

I’m reworking some of the story after advices from readers, and hope to submit this later in the year.

I have two other ideas in note form – a contemporary romance between two ex-jailbirds, and a paranormal romance featuring the ghost of a broken-hearted man who took his own life, so I have lots going on, which will hopefully all see the light of day during the next year.

But for now, Beautiful Thunder is my book of the moment. You can read another excerpt on my blog, during which Alex goes for an audition with Nottingham, UK band, the River Rats, and meets his love, Lindsey, for the first time. Click the link below.

Louise Lyons Blog

 

German Interview With H.B. Pattskyn: Paranormal and BDSM Author

May 20, 2015

Ich bedanke mich herzlich bei H.B. Pattskyn, die sich bereit erklärt hat, an diesem Interview teilzunehmen und euch Lesern Frage und Antwort zu stehen. Auch ein großes Dankeschön an euch Leser, denn ohne euch wäre dieses wunderbare Interview nicht zustande gekommen.

 Zuallererst: Verrate etwas über dich, das deine Leser überraschen würde.

Vielen Dank für diese Gelegenheit! Hmmm … eine Sache, die Leute überraschen würde, wenn sie mich irgendwo treffen oder auf einer Convention sehen, wäre, dass ich extrem introvertiert bin. Aber ich bin nicht wirklich schüchtern. Das verwirrt die Leute. Eigentlich „mag“ ich es, mit Leuten zu reden. Aber nach einiger Zeit kann es ziemlich erschöpfend sein, auch wenn ich mit meinen Freunden oder meiner Familie zusammen bin. Ich muss dann irgendwann gehen und meine Batterien an einem stillen Ort wieder aufladen.

Was hat dich dazu gebracht, M/M Romanzen zu schreiben? Wie lange schreibst du schon und wie lange hat es gebraucht, bis du von einem Verlag publiziert wurdest?

Ich begann mit dem Schreiben in der zweiten Schulstufe. Wir hatten die Aufgabe, eine Geschichte zu schreiben, und dabei die bereits gelernten Wörter zu verwenden. Es machte so viel Spaß, dass ich weiterschrieb. Ich bin jetzt 46, ihr könnt euch also ausrechnen, wie lange das her ist. *grins

Ich begann Fanfiktions zu schreiben, als Reaktion auf die schreckliche-nein-das-haben-die-nicht-wirklich-getan dritte Staffel von Ron Koslows „Die Schöne und das Biest“ (Eine Menge Fans der Serie schrieben nach der dritten Staffel Fanfiktions). Nach ca. 20 Jahren fing ich mit Torchwood Fanfiktions an, weil ich neugierig war, was wohl zwischen den Episoden passieren könnte – und vor allem, weil ich mehr von Jack und Ianto, ein heißes M/M Pärchen der Serie, sehen wollte. Viele meiner Fans ermutigten mich dazu, Bücher zu schreiben und zu publizieren. Ich versuchte es und erhielt eine Menge Absagen (so läuft das nun mal), was mich dann etwas zögern ließ.

Dann hatte ich die Idee zu einer Story, die einfach nicht mehr verschwand. Als das Buch geschrieben war, musste ich einfach irgendwas damit tun, weshalb ich es bei Dreamspinner Press (mein absoluter Lieblingsverlag) einreichte. Ich erwartete natürlich eine Absage. Ich war gerade dabei, mir Gedanken darüber zu machen, wo ich es als Nächstes einreichen sollte, als ich eine E-Mail mit dem Betreff „Vertrag“ erhielt. Ich denke, ich starrte ca. 10 Minuten auf den Bildschirm, ehe ich die Mail öffnete, und hab mich wohl auch grün und blau gezwickt, weil ich es einfach nicht glauben konnte. *grins*

Ich hoffe, die Frage ist nicht zu privat, wenn ja, musst du natürlich nicht darauf antworten: Wie vereinst du deine Liebe zum Schreiben mit deinem Real Life (Familie, Freunden, dem Partner etc.), ohne dass einer dabei zu kurz kommt?

*kicher* Wenn ich die Lösung gefunden habe, lasse ich es euch wissen! Ständig kommt etwas zu kurz. Glücklicherweise habe ich einen wundervollen und unterstützenden Ehemann und richtig gute Freunde, die verständnisvoll sind, wenn ich sage, dass ich ein Treffen sausen lassen muss, weil die Musen in Höchstform sind. Aber es kann auch das Gegenteil der Fall sein. Letztes Jahr zogen wir in ein neues Haus (ein wunderschönes 100 Jahre altes Haus in Detroit), und deshalb konnte ich nur sehr wenig schreiben. All meine kreative Energie wurde gebraucht, um die alten Böden zu schleifen und neu zu lackieren (manche wurden mit Fliesen und Linoleum bedeckt), und Farbe von den wunderschönen Hartholzleisten abzukratzen.

Schreibst du an mehreren Büchern gleichzeitig oder konzentrierst du dich lieber nur auf eines?

Im Moment schreibe ich an mehreren Büchern gleichzeitig. Ich hoffe, das klappt weiterhin so gut, damit ich zwei Bücher in nächster Zeit beenden und einreichen kann!

Gibt es bestimmte Stärken und Schwächen, die du als Autor besitzt?

Unsicherheit ist meine größte Schwäche. Bei jeder Geschichte komme ich zu einem Punkt, wo ich davon überzeugt bin, dass alles schlecht ist und ich das Handtuch werfen sollte. Gerade dann hilft es, wenn man eine unterstützende Familie und ein helfendes Netzwerk von Schreibkollegen hat.

Eine meiner Stärken ist das Schreiben von Dialogen. Es ist eines der Dinge, wo ich am häufigsten positives Feedback erhalten habe, als ich noch Fanfiktions schrieb, und wo das Schreiben von Fanfiktions auch ziemlich geholfen hat. Ich schrieb über bereits bestehende Charaktere, deshalb war es wichtig, sie nicht zu verändern. Und gerade Dialoge sind ein großer Teil davon, eine Person in einer Geschichte einzigartig zu machen.

Hast du einen bestimmten Schreiballtag und wie lange schreibst du durchschnittlich an einer Geschichte?

Meine Tage sind zur Zeit noch recht unbeständig. Mein Mann und ich teilen uns ein Auto (es ist der einzige Weg, dass es finanziell klappt, dass ich als Vollzeitautorin arbeiten kann), und meine Tochter hat einen Job, bei dem sie um Mitternacht anfängt zu arbeiten. Mein neuer Tag besteht als darin, sie um 23 Uhr zur Arbeit zu bringen, heimzukommen, ins Bett zu gehen, mit meinem Mann um 4 Uhr aufzustehen, ihn zur Arbeit zu fahren, meine Tochter um 7 Uhr abzuholen (versuchen, dazwischen ein wenig zu schreiben), mehr zu schreiben – oder dumme Computerspiele zu spielen, je nachdem wie müde ich bin! Irgendwann versuche ich ein Nickerchen zu machen und / oder ein wenig Hausarbeit oder Gartenarbeit zu erledigen. Dann hole ich meinen Mann um 14 Uhr ab. Zur Zeit bin ich am Morgen am kreativsten, aber ich versuche mich auf meinen neuen Zeitplan einzustellen und bin damit zufrieden, wenn ich mal 1000 Wörter hier und 1000 Wörter da schaffe. Mein Ziel ist es, 3000 Wörter an einem Tag zu schaffen, aber manchmal klappt das eben nicht.

Zwei Tage die Woche arbeite ich ehrenamtlich für die AIDS Partnership Michigan.

Was für eine Szene war die am schwersten zu schreibende?  

Eines meiner derzeitigen Projekte ist die Fortsetzung von „Das graue Halsband“. Es geht aber nicht um Jason und Henry, obwohl sie natürlich vorkommen werden, sondern um Derrik. Der Typ, mit dem er am Ende zusammenkommen wird, lebt am Anfang in einer missbrauchenden, gewalttätigen D/s Beziehung. Es ist ein sehr sensibles und berührendes Thema, und es fällt mir schwer, es zu schreiben, weil ich nicht daran denken möchte, dass D/s Beziehungen etwas anderes als liebevoll und einvernehmlich sein können. Obwohl ich in meiner vorherigen Ehe mit einem Mann verheiratet war, der das Konzept ganz und gar nicht verstanden hatte. Es wurde nie gewalttätig, missbrauchend (ich konnte mich sozusagen von ihm lösen, ehe es zu diesem Punkt kommen konnte) aber das Potenzial war da. Es fällt mir schwer, einen Dom zu schreiben, der so sehr meinem Exmann ähnelt. Es gab nämlich ein paar Situationen, wo er mich wirklich verängstigt hatte.

Du hast zeitgenössische und eine paranormale Geschichte geschrieben. Welchen Stil bevorzugst du und warum?

Ich denke, paranormale Geschichten, weil sie dir viel Spielraum und Freiheiten lassen, um kreativ zu sein und Spaß zu haben – aber in letzter Zeit waren meine Ideen eher den zeitgenössischen Geschichten zugehörig, deshalb schreibe ich mehr Bücher in diesem Genre. Genauer gesagt, ich schreibe all das, was meine Musen mir diktieren. *grins*

Gehörst du auch zu den Autoren, die von der Muse ständig Arschtritte bekommen, vor allem, wenn sie etwas will, das dir aktuell so gar nicht in den Zeitplan passt?

Auf jeden Fall!

Hast du schon einmal abfällige / beleidigende Bemerkungen zu deinen Büchern erhalten? Wenn ja, wie hast du darauf reagiert?

Möglicherweise war die abfälligste Bemerkung, der Satz: „Oh, du schreibst homoerotische Romanzen? Wo veröffentlichst du deine Geschichten online?“ Es war sehr frustrierend, dass er gleich dachte, dass ich mit Geschichten dieses Genres, bei keinem Verlag veröffentlichen kann oder für meine Arbeit bezahlt werde.

Als Antwort auf seine Frage sagte ich lächelnd, dass er meine Bücher ja gerne auf der Seite meines Verlages oder auf Amazon nachschlagen könnte.

Jemand anderes dachte, ich würde selbst veröffentlichen. Ich habe überhaupt nichts dagegen, wenn Autoren ihre Bücher selbst veröffentlichen – mich irritierte nur die Annahme, dass er dachte, dass wohl kein Verlag M/M Romanzen veröffentlichen würde. Ich habe ihn höflich korrigiert, und wieder auf Dreamspinner verwiesen – ebenso wie auf all die anderen tollen M/M Verlage.

Hast du vor, irgendwann die Länder zu besuchen, in deren Sprachen deine Bücher übersetzt wurden?

Ich möchte unbedingt mal nach Deutschland! Und auch einige andere europäische Länder besuchen.

Letzte Woche veröffentliche DSP die deutsche Übersetzung von deinem Buch Das graue Halsband (Bound: Forget Me Knot). Hat dir die Muse eines Tages die Idee (auch das Thema BDSM) zugeflüstert oder inspirierte dich etwas anderes?

*grins* Ich stand beim Tisch eines Händlers bei einer lokalen Science Fiction Convention (nicht die, wo sich Henry und Jason trafen, aber sie war der Convention sehr ähnlich) und gegenüber von mir erblickte ich diesen umwerfenden, jungen (19 oder 20 Jahre alt) Kerl, gekleidet in einem Netzshirt, seine Nippelpiercings waren deutlich zu sehen. Schräg gegenüber war ein Lederwaren Händler (mehr Steampunk als BDSM Zeug, aber es gab auch ein paar Halsbänder und Handschellen). Ich konnte nicht anders, als die beiden in meinen Gedanken zusammenzubringen.

Wird es eine Fortsetzung geben? Oder sind andere Bücher geplant, die das Thema BDSM beinhalten?

Neben Derriks Geschichte (die Fortsetzung von „Das graue Halsband“) arbeite ich an einer weiteren BDSM Geschichte, die Visceral heißt, und die ich sehr liebe. Mittlerweile habe ich ungefähr 70 000 Wörter geschrieben, also wird sie bald fertig sein.

Kannst du ein bisschen über dein Buch Hanging by the Moment erzählen? War der Plot geplant oder entwickelte es sich während des Schreibens?

Ich hatte nicht geplant, ein Buch über HIV zu schreiben, als ich mit der Geschichte von Daniel und Pasha begann. Ich hatte gerade erst „Das graue Halsband“ beendet, und wollte daher etwas leichtes und schmerzloses schreiben. Aber leicht und schmerzlos ist in meinem Wortschatz wohl nicht vorhanden. Ich hatte ungefähr 10 000 Wörter geschrieben und wollte mich gerade etwas hinlegen, um eine Pause zu machen, als mich Daniel darüber informierte (und zwar in der Art und Weise wie Charaktere manchmal die Autoren vor vollendete Tatsachen stellen), dass er HIV-positiv sei.

Nein.

Niemals. Das war nicht das Buch, das ich schreiben wollte.

Aber es war das Buch, das geschrieben werden musste.

Wegen der Recherche zu dem Thema endete ich als ehrenamtliche Mitarbeiterin bei der AIDS Partnership Michigan. Es bricht mir mein Herz, dass noch immer so viele falsche Informationen im Internet über HIV und AIDS zu finden sind. Es ist kein Todesurteil. Es ist keine Krankheit, die jemand haben möchte, aber man kann sich damit arrangieren und leben.

Ich weiß, eine Menge Leser mieden „Hanging by the Moment“, wegen dieses Themas, aber es ist keine depressive, traurige Geschichte. Es ist eine Geschichte über einen Mann, der sich in einen anderen Mann verliebt, der HIV-positiv ist.

Zu guter Letzt. Woran arbeitest du zur Zeit?

Neben Derriks Geschichte und Visceral, arbeite ich an dem Buch A Place to Belong, das mich ziemlich mitgenommen hat. Es ist eine weitere Geschichte mit einem schwierigen Plot, der Selbstverletzung, Straßenprostitution und eine Beziehung mit einem erheblichen Altersunterschied beinhaltet. Es ist einer der Fälle, wo ich, egal was ich schreibe, denke, dass es Mist ist (obwohl mir vier Beta Leser gesagt haben, dass sie es lieben, und das sind Leute, die ich sehr respektiere). Ich denke, wenn ich Visceral beendet habe, werde ich mich wieder auf diese Story stürzen (Ich begann mit Visceral, weil ich eine Pause brauchte – und weil ich an der Reihe war, etwas in einer Kritikergruppe zu schreiben, und ich wollte nichts von A Place to Belong posten, weil die Geschichte gerade bei einem Beta Reader war, und ich zu der Zeit nur deren Meinungen hören wollte).

Interview With H.B. Pattskyn: Paranormal and BDSM Author

May 20, 2015

A big thank you to H.B. Pattskyn, who agreed to do this interview and answer the questions of her readers. I also want to thank you, the readers, who came up with the questions and thus made this interview possible.

First of all, name one thing readers would be surprised to know about you.

Thank you so much for the opportunity!  Hmmm….one thing that surprises most people when they meet me somewhere like a conference or a convention is that I’m an extreme introvert, I just happen to not be a very shy one. That confuses people. I actually *like* talking to people, it’s just that after a while, it can be very draining, even when I’m around friends and family. I need to go and recharge my batteries some place quiet after a long day of interacting with people.

What made you start writing M/M novels? How long have you been writing, and was it a long process to become a published author?

I started writing in the second grade. We had an assignment to write a story using our spelling words and it was so much fun, I started writing more stories. I’m 46 now, so you can do the math on how long ago that was  *grin* !

I started writing fanficiton in response to the horrible-it-didn’t-really-happen third season of Ron Koslow’s Beauty and the Beast. (A lot of fans of the show wrote fanfiction after the third season aired, in the late 1980’s.) Fast forward about twenty years and I found myself writing Torchwood fanfiction, because I wanted to see what happened in between episodes—and mostly because I wanted more Jack and Ianto, a cannon M/M couple. A bunch of my fans encouraged me to write and publish original fiction. I’d tried that previously and collected a stack of rejection letters (that’s just the nature of the business) so I was reluctant.

Then I had an idea for a story that wouldn’t go away. Once the novel was written, I had to do something with it, so I submitted it to Dreamspinner Press (my absolute favorite publisher, from a customer-perspective) , fully expecting to get another rejection letter. I’d even settled on where I was going to submit it next when the inevitable happened. But instead of the anticipated rejection letter, I got an email with  Contract in the subject line. I think I stared at it for ten minutes before opening it and probably pinched my arm black and blue to make sure I wasn’t dreaming *grin* !

I hope this question is not too personal; if yes you of course don’t have to answer it. How do you unite your writing with your private life (family, friends, partner, etc.) without neglecting anyone or anything?

*snicker* When I figure that one out, I’ll let you know!  Invariably, something gets neglected along the way. Fortunately, I have a wonderful and supportive husband and really awesome friends who understand it when I say I have to bail on a social engagement because the Muses are dancing and I’m working hard. Sometimes it works the opposite way, too. Last year, we were very busy moving to a new house (a lovely 100 year old home in Detroit) and as a consequence, I got very  little writing done. All my creative energy went to sanding and refinishing old floors (some of which were covered by layes of tile and linoleum), and scraping peeling paint off of the most beautiful hardwood crown molding.

Do you work at several books at the same time or do you rather focus on one? 

Lately, I’ve been working on multiple books at once.  I’m hoping that works out to see two books finished and submitted very soon!

What would you say are your strengths and weaknesses as an author?

Insecurity is my biggest weakness. There comes a point in every story where I’m convinced it totally sucks and I should just throw in the towel. Those moments are where having a supportive family and network of writer-friends really helps.

I think one of my strongest suits as a writer is writing dialogue. It’s one the things I got the most positive feedback on when I was writing fanfiction, and one of the places where fanfiction really helped. I was writing pre-made characters, so keeping them in character was really super important. It became engrained me that dialogue is a huge part of what makes a person seem unique on the page.

Do you have a writing routine and how long does it take you on average to write a story?

My days are in flux right now; my husband and I share a car (pretty much the only way we can make it work financially for me to be a fulltime writer), and my daughter just got a job working midnights. So my new day is to take her to work at 11pm, come home, go to bed, get up with my husband at 4am, drive him to work, pick my daughter up at 7am (trying to get some writing done in between), do some more writing—or play stupid computer games, depending on how tired I am! Somewhere in there I catch a nap and/or attempt to do some housework or work in the garden. Then I pick my husband up at 2. My best creative times are in the morning, but I’m adapting to the new schedule and trying to be content to get in a thousand words here and a thousand words there. My goal is 3000 words a day, but sometimes that just doesn’t happen.

Two days a week, I volunteer for AIDS Partnership Michigan.

What is the hardest scene you ever had to write?

One of my current projects is the followup to Bound:Forget Me Knot.  It’s not a sequel, although Jason and Henry will be in it—but really the new book is Derrik’s story. The guy he ends up with starts out the story in an abusive D/s relationship. It’s a really touchy subject all the way around and hard to write because I don’t want to think of D/s as being anything but loving and consensual, even though my previous marriage was to a man who totally didn’t get the concept of that at all. It never got abusive (I got out before it could go there) but the potential existed. It’s hard for me to write a Dom who is so much like my ex; there were a few times he really scared me.

You’ve written contemporaries and you’ve written a paranormal novel. Which do you prefer and why?

I think paranormal, because paranormal gives a lot of leeway and freedom to really explore and be creative and have fun—but lately my ideas have mostly been contemporary, so that’s what I’m writing more of. Pretty much I write whatever the Muses dictate  *smile*

Are you one of the authors that get kicked by their muse all of the time, especially when she wants something that doesn’t really fit into your writing timetable in that situation?

Completely!

Have you ever got insulted because of your books? Or have your books ever got insulted? If yes, how did you react to it?

Probably the most insulting thing anyone has ever said was along the lines, „Oh, you write gay male romance? Where do you post your stories online?“  It was really frustrating that he thought that because of what I write, I couldn’t possibly have a publisher or get paid for my work.

In response to that question, I smiled and said that if he wanted to look me up, he could try my publisher’s website or track me down on Amazon.

I had someone else who assumed I was self published. I have nothing against self publishing—it was just the assumption that irritated me, like somehow no one publishes M/M romance. I politely corrected the misconception and once again suggested the other person check out Dreampsinner—and all of the other wonderful M/M publishers out there.

Do you want to travel to the countries where the languages your books were translated into are spoken?

 I would love to come to Germany some day! And most of Europe, for that matter.

Last week DSP published the German translation of Bound: Forget Me Knot. It’s the first book of you which was translated into another language. What inspired you to write this novel?

*grin*  I was sitting at a dealer’s table at a local science fiction convention (not the one where Jason and Henry meet, but they’re fairly similar) and across the room, I spoted this adorable little (19 or 20 years old) guy in a fishnet shirt, his nipple rings clearly visible. Just kitty corner to my table was a leather dealer (more Steampunk stuff than BDSM gear, but there were a few collars and cuffs discretely on display as well.) I couldn’t help putting those two things together.

Are you planning to write a sequel or more books dealing with BDSM?

In addition to Derrik’s story (the follow up for Bound), I’m hard at work on a BDSM story called Visceral that I’m really in love with. It’s at about the 70,000 word mark, so it’s almost done.

Can you tell us a little about Hanging by the Moment? Did you plan the plot before you start writing or did you let things just develop themselves?

I so did not set out to write a book about HIV when I stared Daniel and Pasha’s story! I’d just finished Bound and I wanted to write something light and easy. Light and easy is apparently not in my vocabulary. I was about 10,000 words in and laying down to take a little break when Daniel informes me (in that way that characters sometimes inform authors of things the poor author had no prior knowledge of) that he’s HIV positive.

No.

No way. That was not the book I wanted to write.

But it was the book that needed to be written.

Because of the research I did, I ended up as a volunteer at AIDS Partnership Michigan—it completely breaks my heart that there is still so much misinformation circulating around the Internet about HIV and AIDS. It’s not a death sentence. It’s not a disease anyone wants, but it can be managed and lived with.

I know a lot of people have steered clear of Hanging by the Moment because of the subject matter, but it’s not a depressing story. It’s a story about a guy who falls in love with a guy who happens to be living with HIV.

Last but not least: What are you currently working?

In addition to Derrik’s story and Visceral, I’m working on book called A Place to Belong that’s been causing me great consternation for the better part of a year. It’s another story with a difficult plot line that involves self-injury, street level sex work, and a relationship with a significant age gap.  It’s been one of those cases where no matter what I write, I think it sucks (even though I’ve had no less than 4 beta readers tell me they love and they’re all people I respect tremendously!)  I think once I finish Visceral, I’ll get back to it (I started Visceral because I needed a break—and because it was my turn to submit something to my critique group and I didn’t want to submit any of A Place to Belong; it was in the hands of a beta reader and his were the only other opinions I wanted on it.)