Release Party Beloved Unmasked by Brita Addams – Can you speak Yat?

October 16, 2015

Beloved UnmaskedWelcome to my release party for my New Orleans-based historical, Beloved Unmasked. I thought we’d have some fun this hour, and this topic does relate to the book. (Good thing, right?)

There are characters in BU that speak what natives of New Orleans nowadays call Yat. I’ve “citified” it a bit, because in its purest form, one might think they are listening to a foreign language. But it is something to hear and never fails to bring a smile to my face.

As a young woman from an Upstate New York farm town, (replete with her own pronunciation problems) I ended up in New Orleans at the age of 22, due to a Navy transfer for my then-husband. While it wasn’t Italy as we requested, New Orleans became home. We figured a couple of years and then we’d move on, as we had left Iceland for the Deep South.

Many years later, I’m still in the area, sans the sailor, and married for the last 35 years to a certified, bona fide New Orleans native. He is N’Awlins to the bone. Yes, that’s the way natives pronounce it. He doesn’t speak much Yat anymore, because college beat that out of him, but every now and again, his upbringing creeps through. It’s in the blood. He’ll ask the kids “Where y’at?”

I will confess to thinking my mother-in-law was wholly uneducated when I first heard her speak. She was Cajun through and through, as was her mother. The eaves on the house were “the ease.” You don’t boil, you berl. You don’t wash dishes in the sink. No, in N’Awlins, every kitchen has a zink. And of course you don’t fry those scrumptious shrimp in oil, but rather, earl.

Here’s a few head scratchers and some of my all time favorites, courtesy of Gumbo Pages:

AX – ask

BANQUETTE – The sidewalk. Pronounced <BANK-it>.

BERL – To cook by surrounding something in hot, bubbling 212°F liquid; the preferred method for cooking shellfish.

BOBO – A small injury or wound. (this one grated on me because my mother always said boo-boo)

BOO – A term of endearment, frequently used by parents and grandparents for small children, even small children who happen to be 40 years old … Believed to be Cajun in origin.

BRA - A form of address for men, usually one with whom you are not acquainted. Usually used in this manner: “Say, bra …” Ostensibly an abbreviation for “brother.”

BRAKE TAG – An inspection sticker on your car, proof that you’ve passed the required annual safety inspection.

CATLICK – The predominant religion in New Orleans. And, according to some Baptists, all Hell-bound.

CEMENT – A standard English word, but with a special pronunciation. Locals say <SEE-ment>, not <s@-MENT>.

DA – The.

DAT – That.

DAWLIN’ – A universal form of address. Women use it to refer to both sexes, men use it toward women.

DEM – Them.

DERE – There. As in “Dere ya go!”, an expression of encouragement or acknowledgement of having done something for someone else.

DESE, DOSE – These, those.

DIS – This.

DODO, MAKE DODO – Sleep. (pronounced dough-dough)

DRESSED – When ordering a po-boy, “dressed” indicates lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and MYNEZ, on it.

ERNGE, URNGE – An orange-colored citrus fruit.

ERSTERS, ERSTAS – Oysters.

INKPEN – A ball-point pen, or any kind of pen, really. Always heavy emphasis on the first syllable … “Lemme borra ya INKpen, awrite?”

MUFFULETTA - A quintessential New Orleans Italian sandwich, of ham, Genoa salami, mortadella, Provolone cheese and marinated olive salad on a round seeded Italian loaf. Invented at Central Grocery on Decatur in da Quarter. Locals pronounce this <muff-@-LOT-@>, and will tend to just abbreviate it as “muff”. But if you ask a member of the Tusa family (the proprietors of Central), they’ll pronounce it in elegantly proper Italian as <moo-foo-LET-ta>. (You haven’t lived if you’ve never eaten one!)

NUTTINONIT - A po-boy that is not dressed, which only contains the main ingredient(s).

ON DA WES’ BANK, ACROSS DA RIVUH, OVA DA RIVUH – On the West Bank of the Mississippi River, where such places as Algiers, Gretna and Marrero lie. Interestingly, the West Bank is due south of New Orleans (except for Algiers, of course). Make sense? Thought not.

PECAN – A nut indigenous to the South, and beloved in New Orleans as an ingredient in pies and pralines. Pronounced <p@-KAWN>, not <PEE-can>.

PO-BOY – The quintessential New Orleans lunch, a sandwich on good, crispy New Orleans French bread. This definition doesn’t begin to describe what a po-boy is all about, so if you really don’t know you need to get one soon. Take a moment to read a little bit about po-boys.

PRALINE – A sugary Creole candy, invented in New Orleans (not the same as the French culinary/confectionery term “praline” or “praliné”) The classic version is made with sugar, brown sugar, butter, vanilla and pecans, and is a flat sugary pecan-filled disk. Yummmmm. There are also creamy pralines, chocolate pralines, maple pralines, etc. Pecan pralines are the classic, though.

This is one of THE most mispronounced New Orleans terms of all.

 

It is ***N O T*** pronounced <PRAY-leen>.It is pronounced <PRAH-leen>. Got it? Good.

SHOW, DA SHOW – The cinema. The movie house. The local motion picture emporium. Where works of cinematic art (or crappy flicks, depending) are shown. True New Orleanians never say, “I went to the movies”, they say “I went to da show.”

SILVER DIME – A small coin of U.S. currency, worth ten cents. Always pronounced with the emphasis on the first syllable, <SIL-vah dime>, even though they haven’t been made of actual silver for over 35 years.

SUCK DA HEAD, SQUEEZE DA TIP – The technique for eating crawfish. If you’ve never done this, have someone demonstrate.

SUG – A term of endearment used primarily by Yat females. Pronounced <SHOOG> with a soft “oo” as in “book”. (I changed the spelling in the book to shug, so non-natives would know how to pronounce it.)

“THROW ME SOMETHIN, MISTA!” – The traditional (nay, required) request of a Mardi Gras paradegoer to a Mardi Gras parade rider, so that the rider will shower said paradegoer with cheap trinkets like beads, doubloons or cups (actually, the cups are highly coveted, more so than the doubloons are these days, apparently).

TURLET - Ya standard flushable porcelain waste disposal unit found in every bat’troom, referred to by English speakers as a “toilet”.

So there you have a primer in Yat. Fun, huh? Imagine this one here plunked down in the middle a all dat. A shock to my system. But I got used to it and picked up a few.

 

 

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I’m  excited about the pre-release buzz about Beloved Unmasked

Beloved Unmasked is a beautifully written historical romance. You can feel the streets of New Orleans, see the sights, and hear the sounds. (Cathy Brockman – MM Good Book Reviews)

When you want a historical you can really sink into and feel like you are there, this is the book to pick up. Really amazingly well done. A Recommended Read (Tina Brunelle – Redz World)

Beloved Unmasked has a whole lot packed into the pages. Brita Addams has certainly done her research about New Orleans. (Kazza – On the Top Down Under Reviews)

 

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Beloved Unmasked

 

Cherished One: Book One

A Tarnished novel

Blurb:

Born to a spiteful prostitute in Storyville, the red-light district in New Orleans, David comes into the world as Picayune, meaning “of little value,” or, as his mother reminds him, “nothing.” In the early 20th century brothels and clubs, his love of music sustains young Pic until a life-changing meeting places him on the road to respectability, and Pic reinvents himself as David Reid.

As David realizes happiness for the first time, conscription forces his friend and first love, Spencer Webb, into the Great War. While he pursues a law degree, letters from Spence connect David to his hopes for the future. After staggering news at war’s end, David must find a way to move forward. Under the tutelage of his benefactor, David’s career prospers, but specters from Storyville threaten all he’s worked so hard to achieve.

The past holds both pain and love. Will facing it head-on destroy David or give him everything he’s ever dared dream?

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So in my best Yat, y’all come back chere, and see what I got in stow fa ya next hour. Hows about some pitchers taken in Storyville? Y’all’d like dat? Show ya would. Pass back in a while.

Meanwhile, pass on by Dreamspinner for a copy of Beloved Unmasked. Dreamspinner has it on sale at 25% off through October 18.

Giveaway: Stop by my blog between October 16 and 23 for a series of posts on Storyville.  Leave a substantive comment (not “I’m in” or the like,) about the posts and on November 1, I’ll select the winner of a New Orleans-themed gift pack. Beloved Unmasked isn’t included in the giveaway.

 

Release Party for Brita Addams’ Beloved Unmasked

October 16, 2015

Beloved UnmaskedI’m Brita Addams, and I’d like to welcome you to the release Party for Beloved Unmasked. I’ll be here from Noon until five o’clock with posts about fun things to do with the book, New Orleans, and Storyville.

Each hour, I’ll give away a backlist book, Beloved Unmasked is not included. Your comments have to be more than “I’m in.” Let’s chat.

Beloved Unmasked has been a long time coming and I’m very excited to get it into readers’ hands. A year ago, I thought this book was going to be something completely different. I’ll tell you about that in my second post.

This is third Tarnished novel and the first in the Cherished One series. Why the new series within the Tarnished world? Well, because first, Beloved Unmasked takes place in New Orleans, where the other two are set in old Hollywood. But more than that, Cherished One will be a series about men who feel unworthy, who have had tough starts to life, had things done to them that leaves them leery of anything that makes them happy.

In Beloved Unmasked, David starts life as Picayune. No real name and no surname. His mother, a Storyville prostitute, is a bitter piece of work, who hates him and shows her disdain in ways that shape who Pic thinks he is, starting with his name. But he has something she doesn’t have, and that’s hope, which makes him vulnerable in a way she isn’t.

I intermingle my characters with real life personalities. Pic’s love of  music is nurtured by Joseph “King” Oliver, a famous New Orleans musician in the early 1900s. King was what people of the day called a professor, a musician who played piano. King, like Jelly Roll Morton and others, plied their trade in the brothels that lined Basin Street. Their job was to entertain the customers, while the ladies softened them up. Everybody won. The girl had the john tip the professor and the john got heaven in return.

While Pic doesn’t play at the brothel he grew up in, he carries his lessons with him. Music provides solace and joy for him. But music isn’t the only thing that keeps Pic going. He has a soft spot for his friend Spence, a male prostitute at Miss Gert’s. We meet Spence as he calls to Pic from his second story window. I can’t begin to tell you what a joy Spence was to write. To this day, my family knows what I mean when I say, “I’m channeling my inner Spence.”

Like many of my characters, Pic evolves over the course of the book. We see him grow, much as Jack Abadie did in Tarnished Gold, and as he grows, he blossoms. A secondary character, Emile Dauterive, a lawyer some years older, takes Pic under his wing, helps him change his name, and from there—well, you’ll have to read Beloved Unmasked to find out.

New Orleans is heartbeat of this book, much as the French Quarter (different than Storyville,) is the heartbeat of New Orleans. I love the city, having lived in the area for many years. There is no other city in the world with the uniqueness New Orleans has. The language, a mixture of English, Cajun French, and what the natives call Yat—as in Where y’at? is an experience not to be forgotten.

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Come back during my release party, and I’ll give you a taste of Yat. LOL

Giveaway: Stop by my blog between October 16 and 23 for a series of posts on Storyville. Leave a substantive comment about the post or the book (not “I’m in” or the like,) and on November 1, I’ll select the winner of a New Orleans-themed gift pack. Beloved Unmasked isn’t included in the giveaway.

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Here’s some of the pre-release buzz about Beloved Unmasked:

Beloved Unmasked is a beautifully written historical romance. You can feel the streets of New Orleans, see the sights, and hear the sounds. (Cathy Brockman – MM Good Book Reviews)

When you want a historical you can really sink into and feel like you are there, this is the book to pick up. Really amazingly well done. A Recommended Read (Tina Brunelle – Redz World)

Beloved Unmasked has a whole lot packed into the pages. Brita Addams has certainly done her research about New Orleans. (Kazza – On the Top Down Under Reviews)

I was delighted that I was asked to review Beloved before release. I really enjoyed the story. Brita is the only historical author who can suck me in early enough that I’ll read the entire book. :) (4 Stars – Brenda Cothern)

Absolutely amazing. (Lorraine Lesar - Threebooksovertherainbow.wordpress.com)

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Dreamspinner has Beloved Unmasked on sale until October 18, at 25% off. Buy now to get the great discount.

Beloved Unmasked

Cherished One: Book One
A Tarnished novel

Blurb:

Born to a spiteful prostitute in Storyville, the red-light district in New Orleans, David comes into the world as Picayune, meaning “of little value,” or, as his mother reminds him, “nothing.” In the early 20th century brothels and clubs, his love of music sustains young Pic until a life-changing meeting places him on the road to respectability, and Pic reinvents himself as David Reid.

As David realizes happiness for the first time, conscription forces his friend and first love, Spencer Webb, into the Great War. While he pursues a law degree, letters from Spence connect David to his hopes for the future. After staggering news at war’s end, David must find a way to move forward. Under the tutelage of his benefactor, David’s career prospers, but specters from Storyville threaten all he’s worked so hard to achieve.

The past holds both pain and love. Will facing it head-on destroy David or give him everything he’s ever dared dream?

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Next hour – What was the original book going to be about? And I’ll give you a taste of Yat.

Bowerbirds (Nested Hearts: Book Two) by Ada Maria Soto – Plot or Die!

August 26, 2015

My evil enabler Cooper West and I spend a fair amount of time bouncing plot ideas and bits and pieces of WiPs at each other. She’s the one who talked me out of deleting Empty Nests. In the time we’ve been doing this it has become very clear that we have vastly different approaches in how we attack a project. She has her characters and a base idea then sits down to write. That is something I cannot do.

I’m a plotter. I’ve tried to just sit down and write a story. This is how I’ve ended up with a dozen barely started projects in my WiP folder. If I don’t have at least a beginning, middle, and end my project is dead before my fingers ever hit the keys. I blame years of theater and film training on this.

In my undergrad days I had a wonderful mad Russian for a professor, who despite being devout to Anton Chekhov who wrote four act plays, believed that plays should have three act and that the five acts Shakespeare is usually cut into is just completely mad. Of course this is the man who also said “Shakespeare wrote it wrong” when discussing Hamlet. In grad school my film writing professor was a BIG proponent of the three act structure as well as outlining. She believed that a step outline, giving brief notes on every single scene was necessary before getting anywhere near the actual meat of the writing. All this seems to have sunk in.

Bowerbirds ScrivI don’t think my books necessarily have that nice three act structure by the final draft but they certainly start like that. It’s one of the reasons I love Scrivener writing software. I can take that bullet list, make each bullet an individual file, then write whichever bit has my attention that day without losing track. I learn things about the characters as I go and what looks like a little jump on a bullet list can easily turn into a 5,000 word chapter. For Bowerbirds the original bullet list for chapters 3 and 4 went Date Night, Phone Breakup, Dinner. It took me a little over 13,000 words to get through those three points and made up the first half of act 2.

I do wish I could just sit down and write and have the story flow organically from me, or something like that. I tried it with my YA project last year. 12,000 words in it crashed and burned. I know where I wanted to start from and I know how I wanted it to end but that entire middle bit just didn’t happen. I have an M/F/M story I started when I was nineteen. I have a ton of backstory for each of the characters, a poetic beginning and nothing past about 2,000 words.

So if you hear me say ‘I don’t have any ideas for story XXXXX’ what I’m probably saying is ‘I have a bunch of random disjointed scenes in my head that involve the same characters but I have no clue how they intersect and until I do I’m not going to get anyone’s hopes up’.

By the way. I don’t have any ideas for Nested Hearts: Book Three, but I think Book Two wraps things up in a nice way.

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Bowerbirds (Nested Hearts: Book Two) available through Dreamspinner Press

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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Immutable Release Party – Fantasy

July 8, 2015

Immutable is my first full on fantasy story. The rest have been sci-fi. So why suddenly a fantasy story? Why a shifter not an alien? (Hmm, plot bunny…)

I didn’t used to read a lot of fantasy except for the books of the late Sir Terry Pratchett. Yet I love Terry Pratchett – you can see my tribute to him here. But I also didn’t used to read a lot of romance and now I write it. I’m one of the people who came to m/m romance via the fanfic route rather than the mainstream romance route. So the past really is no guide to the future.

I am a long time sci-fi fan, but in many cases more for sci-fi movies and TV shows than books. Though my all time favourite books remains The Hitchhiker’s guide to the Galaxy. I’m a fan of the optimistic vision of Star Trek, but even more when it’s tempered with uncomfortable reality – like in the Deep Space Nine series. I also love some grittier military sci-fi, like Aliens. So it’s a strange thing that I’ve even had the idea to write a fantasy/paranormal romantic story.

But my tastes are changing. Lately I’ve been reading a lot more fantasy, whether it’s classical high fantasy, like George R R Martin, or m/m urban fantasy like Psycop or SPECTR. And everything in-between. In fact several of my current favourite authors write at least some fantasy.

That’s not the only genre I’m reading more of. Crime is another, and I combined crime and sci-fi, along with romance of course, in my recent release Mapping the Shadows {link}

We change. At least in part because of the books we read and movies and TV we watch. Using the Goodreads site the past few years shows me the gradual change in my reading habits. We should always be open to getting into a new genre and never dismiss it out of hand because it’s not the kind of thing we usually read.

It’s not only reading. I’m working on moving out of my comfort zone, and expanding what I write. I’ve got an F/F sci-fi story published and a couple of short contemporaries. I’ve got a longer F/F contemporary drafted waiting for editing. I’ve got plans for a m/m near-future murder mystery story to write later this year. But I don’t think purely contemporary is for me. I always want an extra genre element to it – be it crime, fantasy or a zombie apocalypse. But the great thing is to explore and not assume there’s only one genre to read or to write.

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Question – how have your reading habits changed over the years? If one of those changes was starting to read m/m fiction, how did you come to the genre?

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Immutable Release Party – Shifters

July 8, 2015

Immutable is my first ever shifter story. I’m not going to tell you what kind of shifter is involved, because spoliers! But I’ll tell you that it’s not a werewolf. Not that I have anything against werewolves. I love me a werewolf, be it Sergeant Angua in Pratchett’s Discworld books, or Oz in Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, or Scott McCall in Teen Wolf. But there are lots of different shifters besides werewoves around these days. Still lots of the classic wolves of course, but also plenty of big cats, and everything else from sloths to octopi.

Legends of humans that turn into wolves and other creatures are ancient, but continue to appeal today. Like many tropes that originate in horror stories, they are symbolic of our fears. Like vampires are symbolic of fears about sex and sexuality, and zombies are symbols of fears about contamination and disease. Shifters can symbolise the fear of the animal side of human nature and what happens if it is unleashed. They’re good for themes of identity too. Which am I, human or animal, or something else?

Attitudes to them are different though. They used to be scary, but shifters have followed the vampires into the romance genre. Maybe it’s because our attitude to animals has changed. People used to be more afraid of them or consider them dangerous pests. Now we tend to admire animals like wolves and big cats. At least those of us who don’t live near them and don’t have to deal with them eating our livestock or pets. So a shapeshifter can be romantic and sexy, though with that extra frisson of danger. The current, dare I say it, obsession, with Alpha Males in the romance genre may be a factor too. Make a character a wolf part of the time and the whole Alpha Male thing can be taken to literal extremes.

So shifters are fun to read about and maybe I’ll write more in the future. The nearest I’ve come to a shifter before this is a shapeshifting ship’s doctor in my Red Dragon series, who cycles between male, female and alien form. Zhe gets an extra uniform allowance.

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Question – what’s the oddest shapeshifter you’ve seen? Mine would be the sloths, in a story by Charlie Cochrane in the Lashings of Sauce anthology. Being a sloth part of the time might not be as sexy as being a wolf or panther, but there’d be less racing over moonlit hills persued by hunters and more just hanging out and chilling. Sounds good to me!

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