All Sorts of Stories with Kelly Jensen – Post + Giveaway

July 27, 2016

All Sorts of Stories

Liquorice Allsorts are one of my favourite candies. I adore the combination of flavours and textures. Strong aniseed layered with fruit and coconut; chewy liquorice and soft gelatine. My reading tastes are similar. I read widely, across most genres. I will follow space opera with contemporary romance, then pick up a supernatural thriller, follow that with some epic fantasy, read something kinky, then settle in with a lush historical. So it comes as no surprise that as a writer, I also like to cross genres and mix things up.

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My first published book was a post-apocalyptic love story with aliens. I kinda knew at the time it wouldn’t be a bestseller—that it would be too weird for most folks. But I loved writing it! I followed that one up with a story about, um, kinky robots. Then some more science fiction romance (the Chaos Station series co-written with Jenn Burke). Next up was contemporary romance—and even there, I had to mix it up. I wrote about a forty-five year old, then a pair of college students. Then an established couple.

Last week saw the release of my first story featuring a questioning character—Marc, a twenty-something accountant who has been so focused on his career, he’s found it easy to ignore the fact women just don’t do it for him. Then he meets Henry and it’s as if the sun has peeked between the clouds. It’s revelation time and Counting Fence Posts presents him with a chance to form a new plan. The story is told from Henry’s point of view, because I like to look at some characters a little sideways. Also, Henry’s perspective is as important as Marc’s—as their relationship will be made up of not one, but two people.

Writing Henry and Marc gave me a chance to talk about sexuality, which is something I don’t often do in my stories. Happily, most of my LGBT characters live in worlds (and neighbourhoods) where their sexuality is nothing but their own business. It would be naïve and perhaps neglectful for me to assume every character exists in such a state of bliss. The most important aspect of writing Counting Fence Posts for me, however, was staying true to my characters. To present their thoughts, feelings and questions. To explore their anxieties, as if they were real people, while keeping in mind that everyone is a different allsort. Our layers and flavours unique.

Today sees the release of my first paranormal tale, Best in Show. This one was so much fun to write, and a completely new field for me. I’d long wanted to write a story about a cat who was actually an alien in disguise. When I saw the Dreamspinner Press call for stories about unusual shifters, my cat character locked himself up in an animal shelter and said, “Write me out of this situation.” So I created a mystery writer who didn’t really want a pet, but ended up with one anyway.

For all my varied reading tastes, I don’t often pick up dark, angst-ridden stories. When I read paranormal, I look for books that take a lighter view. I also really enjoy writing humour. So Best in Show is paranormal “lite”. There are shifters and magic, but essentially, it’s the story of how fun-loving prankster Mac sweeps into the life of lonely mystery writer Julian and shakes things up. Mac plays the part of the sun peeking through clouds, because I love stories like that—where one character shows the other a new way of seeing things. Doing things. Mac has his own issues, of course. He’s human—mostly. But for Julian, he’s that absolutely necessary ray of sunshine.

I have plans to continue both of these stories, which means I’ll be writing a little more questioning and a lot more magic and mayhem. Then I might write Indiana Jones in space, or the post-apocalyptic Christmas love story with magic I’ve been fiddling with. Or maybe another contemporary. Or the dragon shifter book I almost have plotted.

I’d love to hear about your reading choices. Do you mix it up, or stick to a couple of favourite genres? Comment below for a chance to win a title from my Dreamspinner Press backlist.

(Follow the rest of my tour for character interviews, behind the book posts, playlists, excerpts and another giveaway.)

 

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Check out Counting Fence Posts!

There are over two hundred thousand fence posts between Syracuse and Boston. Henry Auttenberg likes numbers—it’s his job—but he isn’t going to count them all, even if the view outside the rental car is less confounding than the driver, his attractive but oh so obnoxious colleague, Marcus Winnamore. It’s Christmas Eve and Henry would much rather be home with his family. When the blizzard that grounded their flight forces them off the road, however, he’s stuck with Marc until the storm passes—or a plow digs them out.

As the temperature outside plummets, the atmosphere inside the car slowly heats up. Henry learns the true reason for Marc’s chilly distance—he’s not exactly straight…maybe…and he’s been fantasizing about Henry’s mouth, among other things. Confession laid out, Marc is all for sharing body heat…and more. Henry isn’t interested in being an experiment, but as the night and cold deepen, he could be convinced to balance certain risk against uncertain reward.

 

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Check out Best in Show!

Solitary mystery writer Julian Wilkes doesn’t want a pet, but his sister persuades him to visit Lingwood Animal Rescue, where he is immediately taken with a large ginger tabby cat. Before he can settle into the joys of cat ownership, however, he discovers something very unusual about his new companion.

Macavity Birch is cursed. By day he is a large tabby cat. At night he can be himself—a human male with ginger hair and oddly yellow eyes. He didn’t mean to end up in the animal rescue, but he never meant any harm when playing the prank that resulted in his curse, either. Happily, Julian adopts him. But while exploring his host’s home, he discovers the diary of a long-dead relative.

Unfortunately, not all of Mac’s ancestors are dead and buried. His great-great-great-grandmother is very much alive, and she’s a powerful witch who doesn’t take kindly to the sharing of family secrets. When Mac reveals himself to Julian in order to save him from bigger trouble, he achieves just the opposite, plunging Julian deeper into a magical mystery with him.

 

Bio

If aliens ever do land on Earth, Kelly will not be prepared, despite having read over a hundred stories of the apocalypse. Still, she will pack her precious books into a box and carry them with her as she strives to survive. It’s what bibliophiles do.

Kelly is the author of a number of novels, novellas and short stories, including the Chaos Station series, co-written with Jenn Burke. A lot of what she writes is speculative in nature, but sometimes it’s just about a guy losing his socks and/or burning dinner. Because life isn’t all conquering aliens and mountain peaks. Sometimes finding a happy ever after is all the adventure we need.

Connect with Kelly: Twitter | Facebook | Website

Jake C. Wallace chats about Soul Seekers and themes in writing + Giveaway

June 22, 2016

Digging into Themes

Hi, everyone! Thanks to Hayley for letting me steal some blog time on my release day. Soul Seekers is my fifth novel, but my first from Dreamspinner—and it won’t be my last. I have four more novels slated to be released from Dreamspinner in the next year. Find out which ones after you read about my new release. Don’t forget to click on the link below to enter the rafflecopter giveaway.

Here’s a bit about Soul Seekers.

Soul Seekers is a fantasy/paranormal that centers around nineteen-year-old Levi. Levi has a problem; he doesn’t feel emotions like others do. What he feels are hollow echoes of what they should be. He can’t connect with others, has never had a boyfriend, has never even kissed anyone. He’s been on antidepressants since he can remember, been to therapy, but nothing has helped. Until he meets Jeb.

Jeb is cocky, arrogant, self-assured, and Levi hates the man who’s been stalking him. He also hates himself for being attracted to Jeb. Levi learns that Jeb isn’t a stalker, but is there to help him. He’s going to help Levi get his soul back. Levi doesn’t believe that his soul is missing. No one can remove a soul, but with the weirdness he’s encountered since he was a child, he has to wonder.

Levi’s disbelief soon changes as he discovers people he knows, he loves, aren’t who they seem to be. He’s been betrayed and lied to his entire life. He’s thrown into a world where people can see souls and remove them, the world of Seers and Keepers. Rules are in place that must be followed given the dangerous nature of their abilities. Seers and Keepers work for the good of the world, creating balance in the natural energy that makes up all life.

Not all are as altruistic. There are those Seers and Keepers who want to use their power disrupt positive energy. They need Levi to make that happen. If they succeed, the entirety of human existence would be wiped out. It’s up to Levi to stop them.

Writing this story was quite the ride. Researching a concept to incorporate into a story is just as exciting as writing it. For this story, I delved into the phenomenon of the soul as far back as Socrates and Plato, in different religions and in different cultures. I have to say the information was fascinating.

When I write a story, the plot quickly branches off into several side plots and gets quite complicated. The MC and each character have their influence. Adding in researched information isn’t as hard as it sounds. As I’m researching, I’m picturing scenarios, interactions, problems, etc., a certain fact could create. The more complicated and technical the information the better. This gives me a greater knowledge that incorporates the meaning seamlessly.

All of my stories revolve around a theme/concept. In Curiosity Killed Shaney, Sacred Geometry is main source of power. In Dare to Love Forever, the treatment of minorities was magnified to create a world where vampires are third class citizens.

I’m sure you see a pattern here.

There are endless themes and ideas that can spark a story. I’m sure even those who aren’t writers hear or read something and think, “That would make a great idea for a story.”

What do you think would make a good idea or spark for a plot?

It can be a person, a place, a certain culture, something in the realm of magic and the paranormal, a job/career, something that’s happened to you or someone else, a saying, a feeling…anything you can think of be the start of a great story.

Post yours in the comments below for all of us to read. Anyone who comments will earn an extra entry into my Rafflecopter giveaway ending on 6/30. (Don’t forget to enter using the link below). I can’t wait to read your ideas!

What Dreamspinner Did to Save Me and What’s Coming Next

Dreamspinner saved me when I really needed them. Shortly after Soul Seekers was accepted, my other publisher, Amber Allure, announced they were closing. Three of my four novels published with them, and a recently submitted sequel, were homeless.

Yeah, I freaked.

Getting it together, I sent Elizabeth an email. No doubt being pummeled with emails from other authors, she responded. By March, all three novels and the sequel were accepted. In the end, I contracted two previous stories and the sequel. They have also accepted a new contemporary story.

Here are the books and their expected release windows.

Dare to Love Forever: NVJ Book 1 

Republished paranormal. 10,000 words added, more information about the vampire world, more scenes in the first half of the book. Plot and ending was not changed

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Sept/Oct 2016

A Chance for Us, NVJ Book 2  

New sequel: Tells the story of Justin and Max

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Nov/Dec 2016

Jerricho’s Freedom    

Republished paranormal/fantasy, Mpreg, demons.

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Jan/Feb 2017

Happily Ever After Isn’t Easy

New contemporary about a gay man in his forties who becomes single after eighteen years of marriage to a woman.

(an experience plucked from my own life)

Mar/Apr 2017

Check out Soul Seekers today!

Dreamspinner Press
All Romance eBooks
Amazon
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Blurb

Nineteen-year-old college student Levi Reed has spent his life with hollow emotions and a darkness so deep that he’s convinced he’s losing his mind. He’d give anything to feel something, anything, real.

When a mysterious stranger appears, Levi is convinced the man is trying to kill him. When he’s near, Levi experiences head-crushing pain and something surprising—real emotions for the first time. Jeb Monroe is arrogant, self-assured, closed-off, and handsome, but his isn’t the harbinger of doom Levi assumed. Jeb’s mission: help Levi find his missing soul.

Levi is pulled into the secret world of Seers and Keepers, those born with the innate abilities to manipulate souls and tasked with balancing the negative energy they can produce. Levi learns he possesses a rare gift, and he’s in danger. As Jeb and Levi grow closer, they discover a group of zealots who want to harness Levi’s power to cleanse the world of damaged souls. Everyone Levi cares for is threatened unless he agrees to become their tool of death. But agreeing could spell the destruction of humankind. With no one to trust and nothing as it appears, it’s up to Levi to save them all.

 

Excerpt

Levi could scarcely appreciate the magnitude of the force growing from some primitive pit deep within his mind. It—whatever it was—was surfacing, ready or not.

He had to get out. Running was his only solution, the only thing that made sense. A break with one’s psyche had to be messy and definitely nothing a room full of his fellow students deserved to witness. It sounded like nasty business.

“Hey,” Gia whispered, setting her hand on Levi’s shoulder. “You okay?”

Gia’s touch shot pain into his bones and was more than he could stand. He jerked away.

“Levi?” Concern colored Gia’s voice.

Unprecedented pressure crowded Levi’s mind, and, like a balloon filled past capacity, something eventually had to give. Terrifying visions of his gray and white brain matter splattering across student’s faces, on pages of open textbooks, on Mr. Cobbert and that hideous tie covered with statistical equations, invaded his mind. Levi wondered how long he had before his head exploded.

Fumbling to gather what remained on his desk, he picked up his messenger bag and bolted for the door. What was happening to him? God, anywhere but here. The heat rushing through him spiked. A large black blur startled him as it passed by the window of the door. Taken back, Levi hesitated and then grabbed for the metal door handle. When he tried to pull the door open, a painful spark of static electricity crackled at his fingertips. Instinctively, Levi pulled his hand back as the shock snapped against his skin.

Don’t let the door close!

Levi caught the metal monstrosity with his knee and squeezed through, allowing it to slam behind him.

Which way?

His car. In the back parking lot. To the right. The hallway was empty. As he ran, the unrelenting cranial pressure doubled him over in agony and pain exploded in his chest. Stumbling to remain upright, Levi steadied himself with his hand on the wall and then pushed off, propelling himself forward. His thoughts were vacant. He was in pure survival mode, true fight-or-flight, however something was wrong. No. Something was missing.

The fear.

Out the front doors. Blinding sunlight. Colored figures rushed past him, pushing and knocking into him.

So much pressure!

“Hey, watch it!” a male voice yelled as Levi bounced off a body.

When his vision came into focus, Levi was well into the parking lot, dodging moving and parked cars. Another blur of black passed nearby, but he ignored it, not giving a shit. His only objective: find his car and fast.

Again, he doubled over as the pain escalated, this time accompanied by roiling nausea. Where was his damned car?

Digging deep into his front pocket, Levi fought to free his keys. Just as he reasoned the piece of shit must have been stolen, there it was. He’d never been so relieved to find the old, rusting heap of steel. Juggling the keys, Levi managed to hit the button on the key fob, grateful for access to the locked car.

As he dropped into the driver seat, another wave of mind-numbing pain knocked into him, immense in his head and blossoming in his chest as well. Not again. His hands pressed against the sides of his skull. Maybe if he squeezed hard enough the counter-pressure would relieve the pain, or maybe it would simply crush his skull. When there was a reprieve from the pain, Levi revved the four-cylinder to life. Without hesitation, he backed out of the space, then slammed the gearshift to D, fleeing, as if he were being chased by every scary monster in the history of scary monsters.

##

 

Enter blog tour Rafflecopter Giveaway!

1 – $15 All Romance Ebooks Gift Certificate
1 – Ebook copy of Soul Seekers
2 – $5 All Romance Ebooks Gift Certificate

Jake C. Wallace started writing from a young age, but took a break for marriage, kids, and college (in that order). A few years ago, he ventured into the brave new world of publishing. He has published several novels and short stories. At night and on the weekends, Jake writes about all things men, believing there is nothing hotter than two men finding and loving one another, whether for a night or forever. An avid reader of M/M romance, Jake loves a good twist of a plot, HEA, HFN, or tragic ending, and has over two thousand M/M books in his library. He writes what his best friend calls HUNKs (Happy Until the Next Kidnapping). In his daytime hours, Jake works with individuals with autism and behavior issues.  He is owned by a beautiful partner, three kids, and two grandchildren. He lives in the Northern Vermont.

Website: www.jcwallacebooks.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/jcwallacebooks.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jcwallacebooks
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7237038.J_C_Wallace
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/jcwallace

 

Liv Olteano chats about new book A King and a Prawn + Giveaway

June 20, 2016

Bert’s guide to winning hearts

In A King and a Pawn, the love interest – Will Sims – doesn’t come alone into the life of the main character – Bert. In fact, Will comes with six kids of various ages.

Aside from escorting the Sims family out of fey territory, Will’s first real interaction with them is inviting them over for dinner. It may or may not have something to do with the fact that he’s a bit of a foodie and a good cook. But his solution to start winning over the kids and Will is to feed them one pretty awesome and entirely tasty meal:

 

There were going to be six of us, including kids. A two- or three-course meal wouldn’t do. I wanted it to be more of a family dinner kind of feel, rather than a reception. They’d almost certainly had enough protocol to last them a lifetime already.

So I decided to go with pork-and-beef mix lasagna topped off with plenty of raw eggs to make it nice, crusty, and brown like a pie. It wasn’t too pretentious, was easy to make, delicious to eat, and was filling but left room for dessert. When eating with kids, you had to have dessert—at least, that was how it had been with Alf. The little guy always loved tasty treats without being too picky about the name or even the looks of things. That was key to getting a kid to eat your cooking: you had to earn their trust, make them feel sure whatever you gave them tasted awesome. And I’d gotten pretty good at that. And at guessing what someone liked.

So for dessert I went big: tangerine- and dark cherries-covered cheesecake, and what my mom liked to call basket cake—tiny dough baskets you baked set over some tea cups so they’d keep the tiny basket shape, then filled with all kinds of sliced fruit, sweet and bitter, and covered with a dusting of sugar. You set the basket cakes back in the oven for about half an hour until the fruit baked enough to get all mushy and juicy, but not entirely flopped into submission. When the basket cakes cooled off, they went into the fridge so the fruity goodness would be all the better. When served, you could top it off either with a spoonful of whipped cream or with a spoonful of ice cream, preferably flavored so it would complement the fruits you used. So sweet fruits in the baskets, bitter-flavored ice cream, perhaps lemon or even mint. Of course you’d ask each guest what they wanted, so it was best to have a few options ready. Because I’d already fed them ice cream, and I didn’t want to be so obviously spoiling them to win them over, I went with the whipped cream version tonight.

By the time I had the table arranged, my dining room smelled quite heavenly. I had sweetened fruit tea cooled off and ready to go, plus some red wine because we deserved a glass or two after the kind of day we had.

 

His efforts pay out too, as he learns during and after dinner:

 

I found out new and interesting things about fey during this dinner. For one, they seemed to have healthier appetites than I thought. Everyone went for seconds, and some of the kids went for thirds, actually, though smaller portions.

When I brought out the fruit baskets and topped each off with a fresh spoonful of whipped cream, Sarah and Hector clapped excitedly. Susannah and Jeremy contained their enthusiasm better, but I did see joy glowing in their eyes. And Will had, I think, five of those baskets between his second and third glass of wine.

 

Now that you’ve read that, are you feeling hungry, lol? I know I am.

When I wrote the scene, I had in mind the idea of family dinners as a way to connect/reconnect/maintain close ties. There’s a sense of communion when we share a meal with someone, even if it’s someone we’ve just met; and if they were the ones to cook it too, the strength of that newly forged bond is intensified. (Particularly for me, lol. I usually don’t cook. If you cook for me, I’m really impressed. I mean, more so if the food is actually tasty, haha. But even if it’s not some culinary feat, I’m going to be impressed. :D ).

In Bert’s case, it’s considerably more intense due to the fact that fey can sense the feelings of the cook as he prepared that food. So in a sense, cooking for the Sims family is a way for Bert to not only share food, but a bit of his heart in the process.

Did you woo someone by manifesting your culinary prowess, hehe?

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Check out A King and a Prawn today!

Dreamspinner Press:
eBook
Paperback

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Blurb:

Bert Cooper’s life used to be great, until his sister turned out to be a traitor. Now Bert feels the whole pack looks on him with doubt and suspicion. To prove his loyalty, he volunteers to be the first ambassador at Fey Court, gathering information to finally solve the Leader Murders and punish those plotting against the Council and community. At least, that was the plan….

When Bert meets Sir William Matthew Sims, Court Interrogator, and one hell of a sexy man, life becomes a balancing act. And when the Fey King is assassinated, things become really messy.

Pack politics, fey politics, treason, suspicions of treason…. Bert has to choose between being ruled by his fears or standing up for what—and who—he believes in. And it might just break his heart.

 

About Liv Olteano:

Voracious reader, music lover, and coffee addict extraordinaire. And occasional geek. Okay, more than occasional. Lover of diversity and quirky character, spamificating the world.

Be afraid, be very afraid. :D

Links:
Website:  http://liv.liviaolteano.com/
Blog:  http://blog.liviaolteano.com/
Newsletter:  http://eepurl.com/zZ7T9
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/LiviaOlteano
Facebook Page:  https://www.facebook.com/LiviaOlteano
Goodreads profile:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6952513.Liv_Olteano

 

 

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Charlie Cochet Drops by for a Chat About THIRDS: Beyond the Books!

June 8, 2016

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Hello, all! Charlie Cochet here celebrating the release of THIRDS Beyond the Books: Volume 1! Thank you so much for joining me on another stop of the blog tour. Today our resident cheesy doodle crunching THIRDS agent Dexter J. Daley is sharing with you one of his many, many, playlists.

Music plays a huge role in the THIRDS world—including the flash fiction stories—and more importantly, in Dex’s life. It makes up a big part of who he is. As you may know, Dex lives and breathes eighties music. Although he also enjoys some modern tunes, as well as songs dated before 1980, his heart belongs to the big hair bands, classic rock, and electro pop of the eighties. Here he’s put together a special playlist for the love of his life Sloane Brodie. I’m sure Sloane is weak at the knees just hearing it. Well, he’s certainly something.

I have a feeling Sloane’s going to have trouble getting through sexy times with a straight face if this playlist is involved. I see much lip syncing coming from Dex, and not nearly enough restraint from Sloane. Picture it. You know you want to. Here’s a little scene to help you along.

***

Sloane sat against the headboard, naked under the blankets, his wide eyes on Dex as his boyfriend lip-synced around the room to Diana Ross’s “Chain Reaction”.

“This isn’t sexy,” Sloane murmured, not sure what to make of the spectacle before him. “I was promised seduction. You and I clearly have very different definitions of what seduction means.”

It had started out great with Dex stripping for him to Aerosmith’s “Angel”. It was followed by Chicago’s “You’re the Inspiration” then a couple of cheesy and sappy love songs, which Sloane had endured, lost in Dex’s bright blue eyes, pouting pink lips, and that tight little ass wiggling in his sky blue boxer-briefs. Then it all sort of spiraled downhill.

Dex jumped on the bed singing about explosions. Sloane wanted explosions. He’d been promised explosions. Dex was definitely sexy. The faces he was making as he lip-synced were… something else. Dex ignored him, dropping to his knees as Debbie Gibson’s “Lost in Your Eyes” came on. Sloane was lost all right. Lost in Dex’s determination to sing rather than get jump his bones. Was he losing his appeal?

Sloane arched an eyebrow at Dex. “You got carried away, didn’t you? You hijacked your own seduction playlist and now I’ve got—What is this? “Cherish”? Seriously?”

There was only one thing to do. Sloane locked his gaze on Dex, stealthily got up while Dex had his eyes shut tight giving it all he had to Foreigner’s “I Wanna Know What Love Is”, and then he did what jaguar Therians did best. He pounced.

Dex let out an impressive yelp as Sloane grabbed him, lifting him into his arms.

“Ooh, are we having An Officer and a Gentleman moment? I knew I should have added “Up Where We Belong” to the playlist.”

“I’m hijacking my seduction back,” Sloane said with a low growl, tossing Dex into the middle of the bed before climbing over him and pinning him to the mattress. He kissed Dex passionately, thrilled by the noises coming from Dex and the way he writhed with need under Sloane. He was going to show Dex real seduction. His hands roamed over Dex’s smooth, soft skin, his mouth devouring Dex’s plump lips until they were forced to come up for air. Beneath him, Dex let out a breathless chuckle.

“What’s so funny?” Sloane asked, bemused. Mischief filled Dex’s pale blue eyes.

“Nothing.”

Sloane narrowed his eyes. He kissed Dex again, determined to teach him a lesson. To show him how it was done. He pulled back suddenly.

“Wait a minute.”

Dex bit down on his bottom lip. Sloane stared down at him. He looked gorgeous and sinfully ravished. He also had “guilty” written all over his pretty face.

Sloane gasped. “You did it on purpose!”

Dex burst into peals of laughter.

“Oh, you sneaky little bastard.”

Once Dex managed to catch his breath and his laughter downgraded to a chuckle, he planted a kiss on Sloane’s jaw.

“So, you gonna teach me how it’s done?”

How…?

Sloane grinned wickedly at his delicious prey. “Challenge accepted.”

***

Dexter J. Daley’s Songs to Seduce Your Jaguar Therian Partner by:

Dexter J. Daley’s Songs to Trick Your Jaguar Therian Partner into Seducing You When You Should Be Seducing Him.

Angel – Aerosmith
You’re the Inspiration – Chicago
Endless Love – Lionel Richie
I Have Nothing – Whitney Houston
Lost in Your Eyes – Debbie Gibson
Cherish – Madonna
I Wanna Know What Love Is – Foreigner

***

What music do you enjoy listening to? Any recommendations for Dex?

***

ABOUT THE BOOK

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Genre: Gay Paranormal Romance, Shifters
Length: Novella
Published: June 8th, 2016
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase
Ebook ISBN-13: 9781634773072

Join us as we celebrate the THIRDS universe with this collection of flash fiction stories written to prompts submitted by fans. Sometimes we want to know more about our favorite characters. Where they came from, how they became who they are, their families, friendships, and past heartaches. These snippets of moments in time offer an inside look at the lives of our favorite THIRDS characters. Whether it’s first shifts, the forging of unbreakable bonds, or a night full of shenanigans, these stories are sure to enrich your THIRDS reading experience.

** All royalties earned from THIRDS Beyond the Books are being donated to Big Cat Rescue.

 

ADD TO GOODREADS

PURCHASE LINKS

Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | All Romance eBooks | Barnes & Noble

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Charlie Cochet is an author by day and artist by night. Always quick to succumb to the whispers of her wayward muse, no star is out of reach when following her passion. From adventurous agents and sexy shifters, to society gentlemen and hardboiled detectives, there’s bound to be plenty of mischief for her heroes to find themselves in, and plenty of romance, too!

Currently residing in Central Florida, Charlie is at the beck and call of a rascally Doxiepoo bent on world domination. When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading, drawing, or watching movies. She runs on coffee, thrives on music, and loves to hear from readers.

Website | THIRDS HQ | Facebook | Facebook Author Page | Twitter | Pinterest | Tumblr | Instagram | Newsletter | DSP |Amazon |Goodreads

GIVEAWAY

Big Cat Rescue Tote bag with Big Cat goodies inside!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

TOUR SCHEDULE

June 1 – MM Good Book Reviews
June 6th – Two Chicks Obsessed with Books and Eye Candy
June 7 – Oh My Shelves
June 8 – The Novel Approach
June 8 – Dreamspinner Blog

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Release Day Event: June 8th – Love Bytes Reviews

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Check out the THIRDS on Pinterest.

The College Experience with Aishlar Snow

May 10, 2016

The College Experience

Hi! I’m Aishlar Snow, author of I Experimented Once in College, and I’m excited to be sharing my first published work with you. I’d like to thank Dreamspinner Press for the opportunity to share.

My inspiration for the book came during a bout of nostalgia for my college days. I had a pretty rocky college experience where I faced down a number of serious situations, but I still look back on it and remember how I met my fiance – and my best friend – there. My main character, William, faces similarly daunting challenges during the semester, and he also ends up finding love and friendship along the way.

While I was writing, one of the things I enjoyed most was painting a picture of a magical university with all the same quirks and routines of a modern one. The freshmen are fresh-faced and often lost, those about to graduate don’t have their books half the time, and throughout the crazy rollercoaster semester the RA plays mediator to such a variety of student concerns you can only find in a soap opera. It’s a confusing place, college, no matter what year you’re in. Maybe your friend is still undecided in his third year, you’re sitting on boxes because none of your roommates remembered to buy chairs, and you can never figure why that one campus building is out in the middle of nowhere. There is a universal quality to college, ineffable, no matter if it’s planted in the real world or fantasy.

Even the music I listened to while writing had ties to my college days, although not in the way you might expect. When I started college in 2009 I listened to a lot of older classics because they were comforting and energetic. My working title for the book was actually “Do You Believe in Magic?” from the 1965 song by The Lovin’ Spoonful. My playlist also included “Magic” by Pilot (1974), “Karma Chameleon” by Culture Club (1985), and “Sweet Dreams” by Eurythmics (1983) among others. These familiar songs brought me back to memories of college as well as setting the stage – with lyrics I could relate to the story – for a few of my favorite scenes.

Weirdly, I threw a handful of 2000′s club mixes into the playlist at one point while writing a scene that never made it into the book. When I was a freshman, my friends dragged me to my first club, and that experience was so profound that I knew I had to write William reluctantly stuck in a magical nightclub. For me, that first glimpse into the world of nightlife and dancefloors and shady under-the-stairwell hookups was as shocking as it was fascinating. Writing William, a reserved and tightly buttoned-up PhD student, in a club setting where he was forced to unwind required club mixes that were pretty jarring after the 80′s hits. In the end, I had a better version of the scene with the setting changed to a professor’s office, but maybe the next book can incorporate a magical nightclub?

I’ve asked my fiance what it was like living with me while I wrote I Experimented Once in College over the course of a month, and his contribution was, “You were kind of a brat.” When asked to elaborate, he shrugged, but then he started laughing at the look on my face, so I think we’re good.

In reality, writing a book in a month, while doable, can be a real whirlwind. I was working at a public library at the time, and I had just finished my Masters in Library Science. Much like William, I was overqualified for my clerical position and growing increasingly frustrated at the lack of high-level positions. I used that frustration to illustrate William’s situation at Efeldon University, especially at the beginning of the book. William knows his worth, and he isn’t afraid to say when he’s being underutilized. It is that frustration in part that contributes to his antagonistic relationship to Taliesin, someone who should be a mentor figure but is more often an additional source of irritation for him. During the month when I wrote I Experimented Once in College, I led a very busy, work-filled life; I wouldn’t recommend it every month, but it was a blast!

Readers, do you have certain songs that remind you of high school or college? Were they popular songs at the time, or were they favorites from another decade? You can reach me at aishlarsnow@gmail.com, @Aishlar, and aishlarsnow.blogspot.com, or by commenting on this post. I would love to hear what’s on your mind!

Check out I Experimented Once in College today!

I-Experimented-Once_postcard_front_DSP

Blurb:

PhD candidate William Yderis comes to Efeldon University to teach and finish his degree in charmcrafting. For methodical, sedate, and scholarly William, the school defies his expectations—and not in a good way. The biggest surprise comes when William meets his boss, absent-minded Archmage Taliesin Karsus, a man as infuriating as he is sexy.

As William struggles to carve out his place at the university, he is drawn in to Tal’s chaotic experiments… and drawn to Tal despite his logical mind’s protests. And if Tal’s wavering affection isn’t enough to complicate William’s studies, he uncovers a plot involving an ambitious staff member, brainwashed students, sexual assault, and a threat to the lives of everyone on campus. When it comes time to face the danger, William is on his own. For the first time in his life, he’ll have to trust in his heart instead of his head.

 

It’s a Kind of Magic with Tam MacNeil – Post + Giveaway

March 8, 2016

It's a Kind of Magic

Ever knocked on wood? Ever thrown a little salt over your shoulder? Maybe it’s because you secretly believe in magic. I grew up in a family that carefully saved the wishbones from fowl and hung horseshoes over doors (tips facing up, if you please). Grandma read tea leaves, and kept the clock that stopped the day Grandpa died. When I was growing up, as far as I was concerned, the world was full of unseen powers and the occasional charm or spell during the day was only to be expected.

The question I always asked myself (and never got answered) was who you’d call if the supernatural world got rowdy and out of control. I figured there had to be some kind of supernatural police force. Some folks who knew about monsters and gods and modern magic, who could break bad luck curses no matter where they came from, and who could prosecute the criminal elements of the unseen world.

Salt and Iron is the story of one of those families. You’ve heard of them, the same way you know about knocking on wood. They’re the van Helsing family.  Sure, they have an old Dutch name, but this branch of the family settled in the US a hundred years ago and they’re thoroughly American these days. Now it’s not just vampires, now whether it’s sidhe, Loa, or fay, a god or a monster, they hunt them all. It’s a family tradition. And they’ve got a big ol’ family secret too.

Lucky for James van Helsing, youngest son and total screw up, he doesn’t have to deal with monsters and magic alone. He’s got his best friend Gabe to lean on. So what if James is maybe super ultra in love with Gabe and can’t bear to tell him? It’s enough to have Gabe in his life, even at a distance. That is, until the monsters make Gabe one of their own.

 

Giveaway: We live in pretty rational times, but let’s face it, from horoscopes to playoff beards to lucky socks, we still believe in magic. Tell me about a magical practice you learned as a kid and where you grew up to enter to win a copy of my short story Four Alternative Christmas Presents.

 

Contact info: I write all kinds of stories, from contemporary romance (as T Neilson) to superhero stories and urban fantasy (as Tam MacNeil). If you want to keep up with my latest releases, get reading recs, read musings on plot and story structure, and if you want to know the best chocolate I’ve tasted lately, you can find me at TwitterFacebookTumblr, or, even better (because, hey, inside scoop and book giveaways!) you can sign up for my newsletter at Mailchimp. 

Check out Salt and Iron today!

SaltAndIronFS

Blurb:

James van Helsing is the youngest son of the famous monster-hunting family—and the family’s big disappointment. He’s falling in love with Gabe Marquez, his oldest friend and son of the family the van Helsings have worked alongside for years. Things get even harder for James when he becomes what he and everyone else despises most—a magic user.

He didn’t mean to evolve into such a despicable person, and he knows using magic is illegal, but there’s nothing James can do about it, no more than he can stop himself from loving Gabe. Just when things can’t seem to get worse, he and Gabe are called to help nab a network of magicians who are changing destiny. Not just any destiny, but the destinies of the van Helsing and Marquez families. James foresees a terrible fate, one in which monsters emerge from the cracks, along with his dark secret. And that’s when people start to die.

Dragon Appreciation with Susan Laine – Post + Giveaway

March 2, 2016

Dragon Appreciation

Hi, everyone. My name is Susan Laine. I’m a Finn but I write in English. Today is release day of my paranormal gay romance, Stealing Dragon’s Heart. This is the sixth in the Lifting the Veil series but it is completely a standalone, so you don’t need to have read the previous books. You can find the story from Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, All Romance eBooks, and other retailers.

Here’s the blurb:

“A Lifting the Veil Story

Notorious master thief Finn Grayson is hired to break into a high-class skyscraper in New Shanghai and steal a priceless artifact known as the Shard. But someone’s gotten to the Shard first—and the penthouse suite turns out to be a dragon’s lair.

Cameron Feilong, Guardian of the Earth Shard, is ancient enough to realize that he and his unbidden guest are being used like puppets on a string. Forming a shaky alliance is the only way for them to survive and to stop their ruthless foes.

Unfortunately, Finn and Cam seem to be forever one step behind. To learn more about their clandestine enemy, they travel together from walled Asian cities, barren tundras, and underwater temples to secret paranormal clubs and legendary elvish cities. Finn and Cam must learn to trust each other before it’s too late, for bringing together the five Elemental Shards will spell the end of the world.”

**********

Today I’m here to talk a bit about the behind the scenes, and to do a giveaway of one (1) e-book.

My mother introduced me to ancient Chinese culture, art, and literature when I was a child. Ancient China felt like a mythical land, far removed from contemporary Finland. I’ve wanted to write a story based on what I’d learned for a long time. The setting is an alternate contemporary Earth, and about a decade after the mysterious Veil lifted, reshaping our reality. Our boring human world and the magical realm of myths, legends, and folklore ended on a collision course, irrevocably changing our planet.

What’s so special about Stealing Dragon’s Heart then? The answer: Dragons! Specifically Chinese dragons that are depicted as wise, good, and honorable. I may wish to be a werewolf myself if I could, but of all the mythical, paranormal, and supernatural creatures I most wanted to meet a Chinese dragon.

Their effect on Chinese mythology is substantial, and they appear far more complex than their monstrous counterparts in Western myths. The Chinese dragons are typically shown as snake-like creatures that move on four legs, and they have characteristics of turtles, fish, serpents, and the like. These beings represent positive powers, and they control rain, floods, typhoons, tsunami, and other water-related phenomena. Dragon was an imperial symbol of power, strength, and good fortune.

I mostly kept that image with my dragon. Cameron Feilong is an immortal dragon. But his powers connect with the element of Earth, not Water. His sacred duty is to guard the Earth Shard. He is wise and powerful, and he is a sign of good luck for his human and flawed anti-hero, Finn Grayson, a thief who ends up in the lair of the dragon but manages to get through unscathed. Mostly, anyway.

Picture taken from Wikipedia.

My dragon is many things. Among them an artist and a poet. For the art, I was influenced by Wǔ Xíng paintings depicting the five elements—wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. The natural themes of the art style were inspired monumentally by the landscapes of ancient China, most significantly by Huángshān, or the Yellow Mountains. Below are, a picture of Huángshān, and an ink Wǔ Xíng painting of Huángshān, both taken from Wikipedia:

As you can see, Huángshān, or the Yellow Mountains, and their scenery were common subjects of artwork and poetry an ancient China, and even today through photography and film. During the Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE), tens of thousands of poems were written about Huángshān alone, and a school of painting was named after the region.

The cover of Stealing Dragon’s Heart, which depicts the Wǔ Xíng painting style, was done by the extremely talented Anne Cain.

Cameron Feilong, my ancient dragon, shares my love of Wǔ Xíng artwork and poetry, and he even lives high in the Yellow Mountains. I adore ancient Chinese poetry, and the multitude of interpretations. In the story Cameron talks about his favorite poems and poets, among them Dù Fǔ and Li Bai, two essential poets of the Tang period. Below is an English translation of one of Li Bai’s poems, Long Yearning.

“Long yearning,

To be in Chang’an [capital city of the Tang Dynasty].

The grasshoppers weave their autumn song by the golden railing of the well;

Frost coalesces on my bamboo mat, changing its color with cold.

My lonely lamp is not bright, I’d like to end these thoughts;

I roll back the hanging, gaze at the moon, and long sigh in vain.

A beautiful person’s like a flower beyond the edge of the clouds.

Above is the black night of heaven’s height;

Below is the green water billowing on.

The sky is long, the road is far, bitter flies my spirit;

The spirit I dream can’t get through, the mountain pass is hard.

Long yearning,

Breaks my heart.”

(Poem: http://www.chinese-poems.com/lb.html)

As you can see, there’s a connection between literature, painting style, and nature. The aesthetics of these three always pleased me as a child, and now as an adult, ancient China inspired me to write a story about a wise dragon and his perilous adventure with a human thief.

So there you have it. My thoughts on Stealing Dragon’s Heart. I hope you liked reading my sort of intro into the story and the ancient Chinese culture.

I’m doing a giveaway of an e-book (Stealing Dragon’s Heart, or anything from my backlog), so if you’d like to enter, comment below with an answer to this question: “If you could be any mythical or paranormal being, which one would it be, and why?” Good luck, everyone!

Thank you, DSP Blog, for hosting my guest post, and thank you readers for stopping by!

Author Bio:

“Susan Laine is an award-winning, multi-published author of LGBTQ erotic romance. Her favorite pastimes include listening to music, watching action flicks, eating chocolate, and doing the dishes while pondering the meaning of life.”

Find Susan online:

Website – http://www.susan-laine-author.fi/
Blog – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5221828.Susan_Laine/blog
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/susan.laine.author
Twitter – https://twitter.com/Laine_Susan
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5221828.Susan_Laine

Find Stealing Dragon’s Heart online:

Dreamspinner Press – http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=7488
Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Stealing-Dragons-Heart-Lifting-Veil-ebook/dp/B01BO6TYU0/
Barnes & Noble – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/stealing-dragons-heart-susan-laine/1123402484?ean=2940157914202
All Romance eBooks – https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-stealingdragonrsquosheart-1983709-143.html

 

Assembling A Dream Date With Lex Chase

February 18, 2016

SAR_Dream_Date

Hello, everyone! I’m Lex Chase and thank you for joining me on this month’s edition of #Dreamer! Today, I’m sharing a special date from my new release with Bru Baker Some Assembly RequiredIf you haven’t heard, it’s a meet-cute about two dead guys haunting a purgatorial affordable home goods store called CASA. Y’know, everyone considers that particular big box store purgatory, but in this case it really is. ;D

So what do you do when you do when you’re trapped for all eternity in the land of particle board and meatballs? You can’t exactly go out on a movie date. So, you have to get a bit (okay a lot) creative. So presenting here is the excerpt from Benji and Patrick’s dream date. Patrick, who hasn’t seen a current movie in decades, doesn’t know what to expect when Benji our “newly deceased” teaches him the meaning of “watch Netflix and chill.”


Some Assembly Required
by Lex Chase and Bru Baker
Excerpt


Benji would have had a hard time figuring out what to screen for Patrick on their movie date, but after an hour agonizing over his choices, he’d settled on The Avengers. It was the perfect mix of comic book geekery, fists meeting faces, and the three-way dilemma of Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, or Tom Hiddleston. Robert Downey Jr. went without saying. But Hemsworth and Hiddleston were always a difficult choice that usually settled in a tie. It was exactly the type of movie he bet Patrick would have lined up to see on opening night.

Benji was going to be kind of devastated if Patrick didn’t love it. Which was ridiculous, all things considered. But he wanted to give Patrick something special, to do something for him that no one else could. He and Patrick were alike in that way. They were both prone to grand gestures. Benji’s were just usually a little better planned out and a lot more well intentioned.

“You’re doing a very nice thing here, Benji,” Karin said, and there was no mistaking the wistful smile on her face. She was definitely a little jealous.

He grinned. “We could make it a weekly thing, you know. Movie night,” he clarified when both Agnes and Karin gave him a confused look. “Not that I wouldn’t like to have a weekly date with Patrick. I would. But we could have a movie night. For everyone, I mean.”

It felt a bit silly now that he’d said it out loud. Could the Impressions even watch a movie? He wasn’t sure. There was still so much he didn’t understand about CASA. But Agnes and Karin definitely could, so it would at least be the four of them. Like a family night, since they were the only family he had now.

“I’d quite like that,” Agnes said after a moment of consideration.

Karin clapped her hands together. “Me too! How many digital movies does this thing have on it?”

Benji smothered a laugh behind his hand, pretending to yawn. “Uh, they’re not on the laptop, exactly. We’re streaming them from a service that has a bunch of movies. Old television shows too.”

If Karin was young enough, there might be an unfinished plotline out there that had been nagging at her for decades. Maybe she’d spent all this time wondering who shot J.R. He had to bite his lips together to keep from laughing at the thought of Karin with Farrah Fawcett hair and bell-bottoms.

Agnes shot the laptop a look of deep mistrust but grudgingly nodded. “Streaming. Laptops. Digital movies. What’s next, cars that drive themselves?”

They all looked up when someone cleared his throat in the doorway. Patrick leaned against the frame, looking reluctantly amused.

“I figured the very vague note you left on my MILAN this morning to meet you here tonight meant you were reconsidering my blow-job offer. I didn’t realize it was a meeting to talk about future cars. I’d have dressed with more care,” he said wryly, gesturing at the stained Despicable Me shirt he’d plucked from Lost and Found a few days ago. Benji hadn’t had the heart to tell him it was a minion and not a Twinkie with a face. Patrick had been absolutely delighted by it.

Agnes made a disgusted sound and wrinkled her nose at him. “If you cared about anything at all, you’d stop raiding that box and start materializing your clothes like the rest of us.”

Patrick’s eyes widened. “What’s that I hear in your voice, Agnes? Concern? So you do like me!”

She fixed him with a withering stare and rolled her eyes. “I’d like you to be gone,” she muttered before disappearing.

Karin shook her head and followed suit, leaving the two of them alone in the conference room.

Benji watched Patrick for a few seconds, sighing softly when he saw Patrick’s easy posture tighten up when it was just the two of them. “Just so you know, cars that drive themselves actually exist. Or at least, the prototypes do. They’ve had several moderately successful tests.”

Patrick gave him a thin-lipped smile. “Time does march on, doesn’t it?”

Benji cleared his throat, uncomfortable with the maudlin turn things had taken. He knew life was moving on out there without him, but he didn’t like to be reminded of it. And there was no better remedy for escaping reality than slipping into someone else’s.

“Would you go to the movies with me?” he blurted, wincing at the abruptness of the subject change.

Patrick’s brow furrowed. “Are you forgetting that pesky business of us not being able to leave the premises?”

There was definitely interest behind the snarky attitude, and Benji gave himself an internal high five. Operation Movie Date was cleared for takeoff.

“Welcome to the CASA Cineplex, sir,” he said, bowing low. “We’ll begin our screening momentarily. Please help yourself to concessions and find a seat.”

Patrick was still looking at him like he was crazy, but his eyes were sparkling, a sure sign that Patrick was enjoying himself.

Benji fiddled with the light switches while Patrick roamed around the table, finally settling on one of the two seats at the end of the table farthest back from the projector.

“So we don’t disturb any of the other customers in our movie theater if we get frisky during the imaginary movie,” Patrick said with a conspiratorial wink. “I was always a back row kind of guy.”

Benji snorted. He had no trouble seeing Patrick in the back row of a theater, though it had probably been to throw popcorn instead of get up to anything lewd. For all his bravado, Patrick was surprisingly prudish. Benji knew he’d been hurt by someone before, which accounted for a lot of his hesitancy to get intimate, but that didn’t explain why Patrick flustered so easily when their hands brushed. It was endearing.

“It’s not an imaginary movie,” he said, pointedly refusing to engage in Patrick’s childish innuendo. He brought up Netflix and logged into Charles’s account.

His hand hovered over the projector button. “I have a really important question for you,” he said, looking over at Patrick.

“Gee, Beaver, I don’t know where babies come from. You’d better ask Pop,” Patrick said, his eyes wide.

Benji’s lips twitched. “Asshole. Seriously, this is life or death.”

“Afterlife or death, you mean?”

Benji drew his hand back and crossed his arms. “Maybe I was wrong about you. I doubt you’d like this anyway. You’re probably all Superman all the time.”

Patrick gave him an offended tsk. “Earth isn’t so badly off that it needs to import aliens as superheroes,” he scoffed. “Marvel all the way.”

Benji grinned and flicked on the projector. The title credits for The Avengers popped up on the large screen. “Right answer.”

Patrick’s mouth dropped open. “No. They did not make my favorite comic ever into a movie. Did they? Did they really make Avengers into a movie? Who played Thor? Val Kilmer, right? Had to be Val Kilmer.”

Benji snorted a chuckle. “What?”

Patrick shrunk down in his seat a little bit. “Nothing.”

Pure happiness bubbled through Benji. For the first time in a long time, he was exactly where he wanted to be. He could count the number of perfect moments he’d had during life on one hand, and he was thrilled beyond belief to realize he’d get to have them in the afterlife too. A lot more of them, too, if he had anything to say about it. He bet he could easily fill both hands and both feet with happy Patrick moments if he really set his mind to it.

“Oh my God, I can’t tell you how happy I am to get to be the one to introduce you to the perfection that is Chris Hemsworth,” he said, delighted.

“But first, we have a score to settle.” Benji would have pulled on his handlebar mustache if he had one. It was the ultimate villain moment. “I believe you promised to teach me how to eat.” He looked pointedly over at the popcorn and candy Agnes had arranged on the table.

“Come on! That could take forever! I’ll teach you after, I promise.” Patrick pouted and rubbed his face when Benji didn’t unpause the movie. “Benji, it’s The Avengers,” he whined.

Benji raised his eyebrows, holding Patrick’s gaze.

“Oh, fine,” Patrick said. He didn’t bother getting up. Instead, he just teleported over to the table, appearing on it sitting with his legs crossed underneath him. “I hope you choke on it,” he said as he held a piece of popcorn up to Benji’s lips.

“Now who’s forgetting that we don’t need to breathe?” Benji teased, the words muffled by the food.

Patrick’s lips twitched and he withdrew the popcorn. “You don’t get to be the funny one. That job is already taken, by me.”

“I’ll just settle for being the pretty one, then,” Benji said, batting his eyelashes coquettishly.

Patrick choked on the Swedish Fish he’d just tossed into his mouth. “No arguments,” he rasped when he finally managed to swallow it. “Basically, it’s just like everything else here. Mind over matter. Be the change you want to see in the world and all that metaphysical jazz.”

Benji smiled fondly. “That’s a Gandhi quote.”

“Whatever, it still fits. If you want to be able to eat, eat,” Patrick said with a shrug. He ate another Swedish Fish.

“So that’s it? I can eat because I want to eat?”

Patrick saluted him. “Make it so.”

Benji eyed the popcorn with distrust but picked up a piece. It smelled amazing, and he could feel the salt crystals on the surface of the buttery kernel. “So I just go for it, Captain Picard?”

“It’s hard to explain. Why don’t you fall through the floor when you walk? It’s not because you’re corporeal, because you’re not unless you concentrate and will it. But your feet hit the floor and you don’t sink through because you expect to be able to walk on it. It’s never occurred to you that you couldn’t, so you can. Eating is the same basic principle. It takes a fair amount of energy, so we don’t do it often, but some things are worth it, you know?”

Patrick shot him a wicked grin. He grabbed a handful of popcorn and stuffed it into his mouth with a decadent groan.

Benji took a breath and tried to center himself like he did when he was practicing object manipulation with his Yoda figure. He gingerly placed the popcorn kernel on his tongue and focused on the weight of it. He willed his taste buds to engage, but it was like having a piece of cardboard in his mouth. There was no salty zing or smooth, oily roll of butter across his tongue.

He spit it out into his palm with a grimace.

“Do you actually taste things or are you just fucking with me?” he asked, narrowing his eyes at Patrick, who was licking the salt off his fingers with exaggerated bliss.

“Oh, sweetheart, if I was fucking you, you’d know,” he purred. Instead of continuing on with his teasing, though, he straightened up and took one of the chocolates off the pile. “Try this. It’s easier with softer foods at first. Just put it in your mouth and remember what it was like to eat. Think about what you want it to taste like. Think about the feeling of chewing it, or how it feels to swallow.”

Benji snickered at that, and Patrick flushed. Clearly the innuendo had been accidental that time. He really was adorable. Benji leaned forward and let Patrick put the chocolate in his mouth. It was cool on his tongue, and he thought about it melting and spreading sweet, thick chocolate across his taste buds.

He nearly choked when he realized he wasn’t just remembering the taste of chocolate—he was tasting it.

A grin spread across Patrick’s face. “Right? See? You’re doing it, aren’t you? Now chew it and swallow it.”

Benji did, amazed to find his mouth flooded with saliva that definitely hadn’t been there before. Tears pricked at his eyes, and he blinked quickly to dispel them. What a stupid thing to cry over.

He looked away, but Patrick slid his thumb across Benji’s eyelids, gently collecting the unshed tears. “Hey, no. It’s cool. I get it. It’s a lot.”

Benji took a breath and opened his eyes, grinning into Patrick’s. He brought his hand up and caught Patrick’s, twining their fingers together.

“Let’s watch this movie,” he said. He pulled himself up onto the table, settling in next to Patrick.

“Avengers assemble!” Patrick crowed, and Benji laughed, happiness spreading over him like a blanket.

 

 

It was a good thing that Benji had the bowl full of popcorn to keep himself occupied, because otherwise he’d never have made it through the whole thing without cooing over the adorable furrow between Patrick’s eyebrows that appeared while he craned his entire body toward the screen.

Benji had assumed Patrick would be the kind of guy who talked all the way through a movie, critiquing the acting and special effects or making predictions about what was going to happen next. And maybe he was that kind of guy—Benji would be amazed if he wasn’t, because being a bit of an asshole just seemed to be part of Patrick’s DNA—but Patrick didn’t utter a word through the entire movie.

Patrick gasped when Thanos made his brief appearance in the first end credits, his excitement dancing across his face like a five-year-old at Christmas. He watched with rapt attention, like he was trying to memorize every cast and crew member’s name, and then cracked up when the battle-weary team went for shawarma. He didn’t let Benji speak at all until the entire thing ended and the Netflix menu came up.

“Let’s watch it again.”

That wasn’t exactly what Benji had envisioned Patrick saying to him at the end of their first official date. He’d kind of hoped Patrick would be overcome with emotion and throw himself into Benji’s arms, cursing himself for wasting so much of their time together by running away.

And while any excuse to spend time with Patrick was a good one, even if it didn’t involve Patrick emoting, Benji was dead tired.

Ha. Dead tired. Because he was tired. And dead.

Benji bit back a grin at his unintentional pun. Normally he’d share it with Patrick, but he didn’t want to break up the oddly charged mood with a bad joke.

“Tomorrow, maybe? We could have a movie marathon with the Avengers’ back stories.”

Patrick’s eyes grew comically wide. “There are more Avengers movies?”

Benji rubbed the back of his neck. “Well, yeah. There are a couple Captain America movies, and there’s the Hulk’s movie. Oh, and Thor. And Iron Man, of course. There are a bunch of those.”

Patrick held his hand out imperiously toward the laptop. “Let’s watch them now.”

Benji felt his aura flicker, which he’d learned was the ghostly equivalent of a yawn. He’d expended too much energy setting everything up, plus all the energy he’d used eating the popcorn. As much as he’d like to spend the night watching movies, he needed to sleep.

“I’m glad you liked it, but I’m beat.”

“I can fix that,” Patrick said with a heavy-lidded smirk. He slid across the table, and Benji nearly fell off the edge when Patrick wrapped his arms around him. His nose knocked against Patrick’s collarbone, and he felt a zing of energy rush through him when the soft fabric got pushed aside. Benji couldn’t help but nuzzle in closer, chasing the addictive charge.

Patrick curved around him, pressing open-mouthed kisses against Benji’s neck. “So good like this. I’d forgotten,” he muttered. “Orgasms for everyone, and then we’ll watch more movies.”


Now how about a giveaway for you and your dream date? I’m not giving away one but two $5 USD DSP Gift Certificates! What do you have to do? Tell me about your ideal dream date. Or tell me about the one you had between you and your true love (husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, whatever!) And then nominate someone you’d gift with the second DSP certificate! Spread the love to your valentine!


Lex Chase once heard Stephen King say in a commercial, “We’re all going to die, I’m just trying to make it a little more interesting.” Now she’s on a mission to make the world a hell of a lot more interesting.

Weaving tales of sweeping cinematic adventure—depending on how she feels that day—Lex sprinkles in high-speed chases, shower scenes, and more explosions than a Hollywood blockbuster. Her pride is in telling stories of men who kiss as much as they kick ass. If you’re going to march into the depths of hell, it better be beside the one you love.

Lex is a pop culture diva, her DVR is constantly backlogged, and she unapologetically loved the ending of Lost. She wouldn’t last five minutes without technology in the event of the apocalypse and has nightmares about refusing to leave her cats behind.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LXChase
Twitter: http://twitter.com/Lex_Chase
Tumblr: http://lexiconofkittens.tumblr.com
Instagram: http://instagram.com/lexachase


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Bru Baker got her first taste of life as a writer at the tender age of four when she started publishing a weekly newspaper for her family. What they called nosiness she called a nose for news, and no one was surprised when she ended up with degrees in journalism and political science and started a career in journalism.

Bru spent fifteen years writing for newspapers before making the jump to fiction. She now works in reference and readers’ advisory in a Midwestern library, though she still finds it hard to believe someone’s willing to pay her to talk about books all day. Most evenings you can find her curled up with a mug of tea, some fuzzy socks, and a book or her laptop. Whether it’s creating her own characters or getting caught up in someone else’s, there’s no denying that Bru is happiest when she’s engrossed in a story. She and her husband have two children, which means a lot of her books get written from the sidelines of various sports practices.

www.bru-baker.com
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Twitter


PS: I’m waaaaay behind with naming giveaway winners from previous dreamer posts! No worries! I’ll be picking them out this week! Watch your inboxes! ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Finding the Fairy in Fairytales with Joe Cosentino

January 27, 2016

Finding the Fairy in Fairytale

Hi, fairytale lovers, this is Joe Cosentino taking over the Dreamspinner Press blog. Don’t worry, they let me do it. You might have read my three novellas from Dreamspinner Press, AN INFATUATION (winner of Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Poll Award for 2nd Place for Favorite MM Novel of the Year!), A SHOOTING STAR, and A HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS. I’m here with you to talk about my current novella releasing today (Happy Release Day!), THE NAKED PRINCE AND OTHER TALES FROM FAIRYLAND.

The Naked Prince cover

I had terrible insomnia as a kid, and my older (sorry, sis) sister read fairytales to me at night so I would finally go to sleep. It worked! And it still works today! Except I read them to myself now to fall asleep. I know what you’re thinking. How can those sometimes violent, sexist, dark stories relax you to sleep? I was and still am totally transported by those magical tales of common people defying the odds, struggling through misfortune, surviving abuse, and ending up with their one true love—often a prince or princess in a palace! The likeable characters, witty dialogue, creative plot twists and turns, stunning illustrations, sense of wonderment, high drama, and of course happily ever after endings still make me cheer (and obviously konk out at night). I wanted (and still do) to live in those quaint mountain villages, rub elbows (and other things) with those charming princes, outsmart the witches and top 1%ers, and live happily ever after in those palaces. So my sister and I wrote, directed, choreographed, and costumes elaborate musical fairytales for our very patient family and neighbors. No ten million-dollar Broadway budget for us. Our parents’ card-table, bedsheets, blankets, robes, coats, serving bowls, and wooden spoons were all we needed for our audience to enter fairyland.

After college I continued playing make believe as a professional actor including acting in fairytale-like productions such as Roar of the Greasepaint on stage with Nathan Lane, A Midsummer Night’s Dream onstage with Bruce Willis, and the ABC-TV Afterschool Special My Mother Was Never a Kid with Holland Taylor. I also wrote and directed musical plays for professional touring theatre companies, many based on fairytales like The Princess and the Pea, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, Aladdin, The Emperor’s New Clothes, and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

As such a lover of fairytales I often wondered why there are no gay characters in them! Okay, Prince Charming does seem a little gay. Peter Pan may have a thing for the captain’s hook. And I have my suspicions about what the seven dwarves really did with the Woodsman in the woods. Yet there are no openly gay characters or same-sex romances in fairytales. I had my hopes up when Disney and other companies produced Broadway musicals and movies based on fairytales. But no luck. When openly gay celebrities like Chris Coffer wrote fairytale books, again I assumed the breakthrough would come. Alas, that wasn’t the case. Surely there are some gay people in fairyland! Why don’t we read about them?

As a writer, my imagination kicked into gear, and I started thinking about my favorite fairytales. Why couldn’t a poor boy living with his stepmother and stepsisters fall in love with a handsome prince? Couldn’t a blond boy who was thrown out of his home for being gay seek shelter with three bears? What was Pinocchio’s growing appendage really about? Did Jack and the Giant do more up there on the beanstalk than they let on? And could the Snow Queen be a tantalizing, smooth-faced prince with a cold heart?

So I wrote four humorous, romantic, adventurous, touching, and definitely gay tales from Fairyland for THE NAKED PRINCE AND OTHER TALES FROM FAIRYLAND. “The Naked Prince” is a different take on the Cinderella story. Cinder, a poor and beautiful young man who designs clothing, makeup, and hair for his stepmother and stepsisters, offers his clothing and slippers to a naked stranger in the woods who turns out to be none other than Prince Charming. Will Cinder and Prince Charming confront their manipulative mothers, bring equality to the kingdom, find themselves, and find one another? In “The Golden Rule,” when he is caught with nimble Jack, eighteen-year-old Gideon Golden is thrown out of his home in Fairyland by his homophobic parents. With nowhere else to go, he breaks into the home of three men living on Bear Mountain. Bo and Butch enjoy having a young roommate, but Ben isn’t convinced. Will Gideon and Ben make vinegar or honey? “Whatever Happened To … ?” takes place on Christmas Eve. A reporter living on Andersen Lane interviews a celebrity for the Queen Newspaper series, “What Ever Happened To … .” Friction ensues between the celebrity with the growing appendage who can’t tell fact from fiction, and the reporter who has a thing for giants. Eventually a romantic spark is lit between the two as Christmas Day arrives, and they realize they have more in common than living in Fairyland. Finally in “Ice Cold,” after losing their families during the great ice storm in the northernmost kingdom of Fairyland, young Gaelen and Kieran pledged their love for one another. When Isidore rides into Frost Village on his elaborate sleigh, Kieran follows the handsome prince to his castle in the Arctic Kingdom, where Kieran becomes Isidore’s bewitched slave. This leads Gaelen on an amazing adventure to find his true love and melt his frozen heart.

So if you’re a fairytale lover like me, or even if you aren’t, I think you will enjoy these very gay fairytales. Maybe movie studios will finally take notice, and realize the most entertaining inhabitants of fairyland are the fairies.

***

I hope you enjoyed my blog post. Now it’s YOUR turn. Write a comment about your favorite fairytale. Why do you love it? What’s gay about it? After seventy-two hours I will choose the comment that tickles my Fairyland dust the most and the winner will receive a gift e-book of my hit novella from Dreamspinner Press, AN INFATUATION (soon to be partnered with A SHOOTING STAR for a paperback version releasing March 21!). Thanks for reading my blog post. I’m looking forward to reading your comments!

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An excerpt from THE NAKED PRINCE AND OTHER TALES FROM FAIRYLAND:

 

As was his custom, Cinder sat at the fireplace, lit a candle, and placed his pet mouse from the jar onto his lap. He closed his eyes and asked his fathers to help him get to the ball to give his stepsister her missing apparel for her dance with the prince. Suddenly the flame of the candle flickered, and Cinder heard his fathers’ voices. Cinder’s father Maxwell, told him how much he missed him. Cinder’s other father, Mortimer, reminded Maxwell that he missed Cinder too. Maxwell explained to Cinder that he was safe and happy in the other world. Mortimer interjected that Maxwell should not forget that Mortimer was safe and happy in the other world with Maxwell. It was the most comforting moment of Cinder’s life, except for meeting the young man in the meadow.

Maxwell then said, “Cinder, my son, whom I love more than anything in all creation, your fathers have been granted one night, and one night only, with the power to help you. And we have chosen this night.”

“Tell our boy what we are going to do for him,” said Cinder’s other father Mortimer.

Maxwell explained that Cinder would attend the prince’s ball.

Cinder could not believe what he was hearing. At first he thought it was a dream, but no dream could ever be so wonderful. Knowing his stepsister must be heartbroken without her hat and bag, Cinder hoped he could get them to her before she danced with the prince.

“Tell Cinder the stipulation, Maxwell.”

“I was just about to do that, Mortimer.” Then Maxwell said to Cinder with tenderness in his voice, “My son—”

“He’s my son too, Maxwell,” added Cinder’s other father.

After taking a calming breath, Maxwell continued. “Our son, the great force has granted me—”

Mortimer cleared his throat.

“Has granted us the special power to send you to the prince’s ball, but the power will last for one night only. At the stroke of midnight, everything will return back to the way it was.”

Cinder was incredibly grateful to his fathers. He wanted more than anything to tell them how much he loved them and to ask them so many questions, including whether they could help him see the young man from the meadow again. But before Cinder could speak, a slight breeze grazed his cheek. The breeze grew slowly and steadily in intensity and finally became a gust of wind as Cinder’s burlap clothing magically transformed into an exquisite powder blue suit, ruffled shirt, and handkerchief. Cinder looked down at his feet and noticed the mouse’s pickling jar had been transformed into handsome glass slippers. The wind continued to grow until it threw open the cottage door, carrying a pumpkin from the root vegetable bin and Cinder’s pet mouse with it. Cinder hurried outside and marveled as the pumpkin turned into a stunning gold coach and the pet mouse expanded into a handsome coachman. The squirrel, chipmunk, rabbit, and blue jay frolicked in the wind until they became four striking white horses.

***

Purchase Links:

Dreamspinner Press

Amazon

ARe

 

Links to Joe Cosentino:

Web site: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JoeCosentinoauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JoeCosen

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4071647.Joe_Cosentino

Amazon: Author.to/JoeCosentino

 

When Chaos Rules How Well Do You Know Those Closest To You? with Elizabeth Noble

September 7, 2015

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Hello and thank you for stopping by today! I’m Elizabeth Noble, author of Shifting Chaos (book 4 of The Sleepless City) which coincidentally released today.

How well do you really know those closest to you? What about how well they know you?

In the series The Sleepless City (co-written with Anne Barwell) vampires and werewolves live and work alongside humans. While humans and werewolves reproduce naturally, and pair bond for love and to create offspring, vampires have mates for a different reason. They live incredibly long lives bordering on immortality. Nature gave vampires the unique ability to bond with one person, their soul mate, for life. Each person in the soul mate bond complements the other. Where one is weak the other is strong.

Vampires can and do soul bond with other vampires, humans and on rare occasions werewolves. Each couple experiences different things and each soul bond is unique. The bonding between two vampires takes place in stages. During that time it’s possible for each party to telepathically see some important, highly emotionally charged memories of the other. Think of it as those Facebook life event highlights for the mind.

Soul mates aren’t the only loves vampires have. Before they meet their soul mate they form friendships and have relationships with other lovers, some for hundreds of years. After a 150 years or so you get to know a person pretty well. You might think you know everything about them. Or do you? Do they really know everything about you?

During the course of The Sleepless City the three oldest vampires of the group, Declan, Forge and Simon meet and bond with their soul mates. One with another vampire, one with a human and one with a werewolf. This gives the relationships they’ve already formed with one another a good, hearty shaking up and dynamics change. Together they are a family and those family ties are challenged to the brink of destruction.

Throughout Shifting Chaos, the final book of the series, all of those individual relationships are strained, tested, and given room to grow. There is the very real threat to one man that the discovery of the deepest, darkest event of his life will leave him rejected by his soul mate and family, an outcast. He’s even managed to hide this event from his soul mate. There is the risk of losing loved ones to death and inner demons.

While writing Shifting Chaos I wanted to show a bit of the past for a few of these men. Two of them have known each other—intimately—since 1821, so there is a lot of history there. Getting ideas for snippets of what they’d lived through and then presenting it into the story was a wonderful challenge for me. I didn’t want to have an overload of flashbacks. In some places I went the route of these two individuals sort of competing to tell the best, most embarrassing, entertaining story about each other to the rest of their family of choice. Doing this allowed me the opportunity to forward the plot and add some humor along the way. Their pasts become very relevant to the conspiracy they face and the disaster they’re trying to prevent in the present.

The fight with demons, inner and otherwise, causes memories and events long buried to resurface. Men who think they know each other so well, find out there is more to be discovered. What they learn is not only surprising, but frightening. How each individual reacts to those revelations is an important aspect of the story. Most importantly they all learn love really does conquer all, and in their case allows for a lot of forgiveness. When you love someone, truly and deeply love them, you take the good with the bad and work it out because that is part of what love is.

What would you do if you discovered some deeply hidden secret about the person you loved most? How do you think they’d react finding out something like that about you?

Everyone commenting will be entered into a drawing to win any ebook off my backlist (Shifting Chaos is excluded from the contest and not eligible for the giveaway).

Thank you for stopping by today and as always, happy reading!

 

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Blurb:

Chaos reigns in The Sleepless City, and it’s really beginning to piss Detective Jonas Forge off. He’s got inner demons to battle and a life to build with his new soul mate, Blair Turner. Nothing is going right, and he already feels the universe is conspiring against him when a turn of events he never saw coming flips his world upside down.

Hallucinations grip the town and everyone in it, threatening to tear their precariously built family apart, and the only way forward is to bare all to each other. This means Declan and Blair need to learn to accept one another. Lucas Coate has to move forward without ties to his werewolf pack and live a monogamous life with Declan.

But while Forge and Declan confront horrors from their shared past, Simon learns a terrible truth about vampires—one he couldn’t have imagined in his worst nightmares.

Excerpt:

Blair had only been a vampire for five years, not nearly time enough to have learned the depths of power he possessed. Or how to really control it. A simple shove to Ben’s shoulder could have shattered bone and sent him flying. Fortunately Simon intervened, catching Ben around the waist and dragging him away at high speed before Blair could
touch him.

Simon whirled around, putting himself in front of Ben and Blair and shielding them from Forge. For a split second, his eyes were deep, dark brown with no whites or iris visible.

Declan stood at the bottom of the steps, fists clenched. He didn’t say a word, but he didn’t have to. It sucked knowing someone that well. Forge could still tell what Declan was thinking. Yet the memory that surfaced surrounding those killings so long ago were events Forge had never told Declan, or anyone, about. It had been hidden even from Blair,
it was so deeply buried in Forge’s subconscious. So how did Declan know? How could he possibly know?
It was Declan who finally ushered them up the steps—Simon, Ben, and Blair first—muttering, “I go out for twenty minutes to pick up pizza, and everyone goes nuts.”

When Declan glanced over his shoulder and nodded at Lucas, he reached down and took Forge’s arm to help him up.

“What happened? What did I do?” Forge asked.

Lucas pulled him into a hug. “Nothing. You yelled. Knocked some furniture over and scared the crap out of Blair and Moose. And me.”

When Lucas leaned back, holding Forge by the shoulders, Forge noticed for the first time Lucas’s clothes were ripped and his jeans had split, but not enough that they fell off him. He must have mostly transformed to get control of Forge.

“Where’s Moose?” Forge looked around. Moose moved slowly out from under Blair’s desk. He whimpered and wagged his tail, then ran to Forge.

Lucas put his arm around Forge’s shoulders and steered him toward the stairs, clicking his fingers for Moose, who followed. “You’re colder than usual.”

As soon as they were up the stairs in the living room, Forge saw Blair on the couch, knees tucked under his chin, arms around his legs. Lucas sat him next to Blair, and Forge immediately gathered Blair in his arms and pulled him close. He was ridiculously relieved when Blair grabbed on, and bent his head to press his face against Forge’s shoulder. Never letting Blair out of his sight and never letting him go again was what Forge wanted; however, that was impractical. Blair couldn’t enlighten the young minds he taught with two hundred pounds of irritable vampire attached to him.

Lucas wrapped a blanket around the two of them and sat on the arm of the couch nearest Blair. Simon showed up with two cups of steaming liquid. He moved the coffee table back and crouched in front of them, holding one cup out to Forge. After he took it, Simon tapped Blair’s arm and said, “Blair, here, drink this. It fixes everything. I promise.”

Declan sat on Forge’s other side and rubbed his hand over Forge’s head before dropping his hands to his lap. He chuckled, and Forge relaxed. Tea was Simon’s cure for all disasters.

Links and things:

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My website, Emotion in Motion has information on Shifting Chaos, and all my books. There are excerpts, reviews and links as well a sign up for my newsletter (I promise to never get spammy). Please feel free to look around.

I can also be found on the Dreamspinner Press Author ArcadeFacebook, Google+, Twitter, and Goodreads. Email me at elizabeth.noble19@gmail.com

I’m always thrilled to hear from my readers and one of my biggest joys is interacting with them. I’m one of those people who will chat with others in line at the grocery store, so don’t be shy!

 

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The Sleepless City website

The Sleepless City Facebook Page