October 21, 2016
Hey, all! My name is j. leigh bailey and I’m really excited to be here today talking about my recent release GUYLINER, which came out on October 17. I’m an office drone by day, but when I’m not stuck behind my cubical, I write male/male Young Adult and New Adult Romance. There’s just something about helping my guys discover the world of acceptance, relationships, and romance that keeps me coming back to my computer.
Every author has that one book they wrote that means the most to them, or that holds a special place in their hearts. For me, GUYLINER is the one. Despite being the fifth book I’ve released, this was the first book I wrote. It was the first story that called to me so much I couldn’t put it away, no matter how much I struggled to put the thoughts and experiences of my characters into words.
I can’t even explain what it means to me to see this book out in the world. There are no words. Part of that is because of Taco Bell Guy.
Whenever someone asks me about where I find my inspiration, my answer is usually pretty random. You know, a word or a phrase, an idea, something like that. Rarely can I actually say that I was inspired by an individual. That’s not the case for GUYLINER.
For this book, I found my inspiration at Taco Bell.
I blame fate. Maybe blame is the wrong word. I credit fate.
As a single woman who spent a lot of time driving for work, and to and from work, and to and from different organizations’ meetings and events, I spent an embarrassing amount of time (and money) at fast food restaurants. One night I broke habit and actually went inside my local Taco Bell. A couple things are significant here: first, 99.9% of the time, I specifically chose restaurants that had drive-thrus. Second, it was raining the proverbial cats and dogs, so I had total incentive to stay in my car. But for some reason, I chose to eat inside.
My cashier was a young guy—probably fifteen or so. He had shaggy black hair that hung in his face, and he didn’t look up at me once during the ordering process. Normally I’d have been upset by this—I’ve worked enough customer service jobs that I tend to be a pretty harsh critic when people don’t at least try to appear friendly and open. But I’d noticed he had some pretty severe burn scars and skin grafts on his arm, from his wrist and up over his elbow. I figured he was probably shy, and maybe a little self-conscious, so I decided not to be too judgey.
When I’d paid and gotten my receipt, I said, “thank you.” It was then that he looked up. This kid, this shy, self-effacing kid was wearing thick black eyeliner that showed off bright blue eyes. The combination intrigued me. I’d seen guys in eyeliner before, but the ones I’d see rarely seemed so shy and withdrawn. Added to this dichotomy were the burn scars.
Man, my imagination went crazy. I wanted to know everything about this kid. I wanted to know how he’d gotten burned, why he wore eyeliner, what he was like when he wasn’t manning a register at a fast food restaurant, everything. I couldn’t ask him, though. Not only would it be awkward, but it was none of my business and I didn’t want to be completely rude or invasive. So I let my imagination tell the story.
I ended up spending a very uncomfortable hour sitting at a table in that Taco Bell with my brain creating a character and a plot, the story prompted by this kid. In my head, Graham (the eyeliner-wearing character in GUYLINER) was going to be a bit of a loner, a little bit moody.
Let’s just say that Graham evolved a lot from this first incarnation. But neither he, nor this book, would have been written if it hadn’t been for Taco Bell Guy.
To this day, I have no idea who this kid is, or his background, or where he is now. But I seriously owe him (and maybe fate) a huge hug for his role in bringing GUYLINER to life.
GIVEAWAY—I want to hear from you! Have you ever made a spontaneous decision and it ended up being the absolutely right choice? For me, it was skipping the drive-thru and going inside for a change, which led to meeting the perfect inspiration. Which, in turn, ultimately ignited my writing career. Does anyone have any similar stories? Tell me one, and a random winner will receive their choice of a book from my backlist (Do-Gooder or an anthology).
For more about me, my books, or upcoming appearances, check out my website (www.jleighbailey.net) or subscribe to my (very infrequent) newsletter. I can also be found on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+
Check out Guyliner today!
Seventeen-year-old Connor works his butt off to maintain the golden-boy persona he’s created. He has the grades, the extracurriculars, the athletics, and a part-time job at his dad’s shop… every detail specifically chosen to ensure the college scholarships he needs to get the hell out of the Podunk town where he lives. The last thing he needs is an unexpected attraction to Graham, an eyeliner-wearing soccer phenom from St. Louis, who makes him question his goals and his sexuality. Sure, he’s noticed good-looking boys before—that doesn’t have to mean anything, right?—but he’s got a girlfriend. There’s no room on the agenda for hooking up with Graham, but the heart doesn’t always follow the rules.
As he and Graham grow close, other aspects of Connor’s life fall apart. Family pressure, bad luck, and rumors threaten to derail his carefully laid plans. Suddenly the future he’s fighting for doesn’t seem quite as alluring, especially if he has to deny who he really is to achieve it.
j. leigh bailey is an office drone by day and the author of Young Adult and New Adult LGBT Romance by night. She can usually be found with her nose in a book or pressed up against her computer monitor. A book-a-day reading habit sometimes gets in the way of… well, everything…but some habits aren’t worth breaking. She’s been reading romance novels since she was ten years old. The last twenty years or so have not changed her voracious appetite for stories of romance, relationships and achieving that vitally important Happy Ever After. She’s a firm believer that everyone, no matter their gender, age, sexual orientation or paranormal affiliation deserves a happy ending.
October 10, 2016
Hello! I’m a new to DSP author, but not new to publishing. I have over 30 books/novellas as Lynn Lorenz, writing gay romance and another ten or so het books under another name.
I’ve won awards, been a best seller on ARe and Amazon, but I’ve had my ups and downs. I’m so honored to have DSP re-release some of my books and I’m very impressed with everyone I’ve dealt with at DSP. Thanks!
In case you don’t know me, I’m originally from New Orleans, though I’ve been living in Texas for quite some time, like half my life now. My kids are Texans, but they have deep roots in my home city.
For a long time, I’d wanted to write, to celebrate, my hometown, New Orleans. It weighed on me, especially after Hurricane Katrina. My friends and family were impacted by this storm. It tore families apart, decimated a city, and yet, the courage and determination of the people to rebuild, to restore Nola to the beauty it had been, inspired me.
So I began writing a series of novellas set before, during and after Katrina.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s Waffles and Wings is one of the first ones I wrote. Charlie’s Mission came soon after. I heard not only my friends’ stories, but my family’s stories, about the events, the destruction, and the situations people found themselves in and how they survived.
Believe me, I didn’t have to stretch too far to find plot bunnies, or in Nola, plot nutria. They’re sort of like bunnies on steroids and they swim in the canals all around the city. I heard about the men from the city’s homeless shelters, who were bused out to places like Baton Rouge, before the storm, and who chose to come back and help rebuild, despite having nothing.
The characters, Tony and Scott, and their experiences, are mixtures of men I knew, who had survived despite Katrina’s best, and came out the dirty side of the storm, stronger and more alive than ever.
During the storm, my father, who lived in Metairie off Veteran’s Blvd and Powers Blvd, came to live with us. His apartment was on the second floor, but he’d evacuated to our home in Katy, outside Houston. He lived with us for six months, as the city recovered enough to let citizens back in. He was one of the fortunate people, he had a home to come back to, on the second floor, with no flooding. But with no electricity for three to four months, and no one there to clean up, you can imagine the state of the place when he returned. Mold covered everything, because New Orleans grows mold like nobody’s business. The contents of the fridge had liquefied and oozed out, all over the kitchen floors. The smell was…unforgettable.
He was in his late 70’s and the entire time he lived with us, all he wanted was to go back home. New Orleans is like that. It calls to you, captures you and won’t let you go. I knew a lot of people while I lived there who never strayed farther than say Lafayette or Biloxi. No reason, they’d tell you. Got it all right here. Ya, you rite!
So he went back, cleaned the place up, even the duct work was black with mold. Nothing my brother or I could say to him would make him stay one day longer than he needed. He’d call once a week to a neighbor, who stayed, believe it or not, and check to see if the power was on, and if they were letting people back into the city.
When he got the “power’s on. Water’s on, but you can’t drink it” message, he was packed and heading home.
New Orleans calls to me too. It’s like it’s in my DNA. Certain times of the year, I think, hey, who’s playing at the Jazz Fest, when does Mardi Gras start, who’s riding in the parades that I know, it should be time for the French Quarter Festival.
And of course, the food really calls my name. Every time I go back, I have my dining schedule set. Where I’ll eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner and with which of my friends who still live there. My dreams are filled with fried shrimp po’boys, muffalettas, snowballs, grits and shrimp or grillades, gumbo, roast beef… my favorites.
And every time I go back, I take a ride to the lakefront, where the 17th Street canal broke its levee. A little stroll down memory lane, of the destruction still marring the city. The blocks of neighborhoods where houses are missing and you can see from one block to another through the gaps.
So these two books, they are a part of me and the city that care forgot.
I know what it means to miss New Orleans.
Can you tell me about the place you miss the most? One lucky commenter will an ebook copy of On the Streets of New Orleans.
Check out On the Streets of New Orleans today!
Breakfast at Tiffany’s Waffles and Wings
A year after Hurricane Katrina, Scott is back in the city he loves, the city that offered him sanctuary from rural Louisiana and its prejudices, but living in a homeless shelter can be almost as dangerous as the streets.
The storm cost Tony his family, his home, and his direction in life. Now he’s squatting and stealing to make ends meet, and he’s lost all hope of things getting better.
When Scott and Tony meet, they realize it’s time to stop merely surviving. It’s time to start living again. Together.
Charlie is an ex-addict plagued by memories of the past. He’s doing penance working at a homeless shelter, staying away from men, drugs, and anything resembling happiness. He’s convinced he doesn’t deserve more.
Devon is determined to keep the dealers out of his neighborhood. No one operates there without his permission. When he brings a sick young man who was selling drugs to the mission, he meets Charlie and can’t stop thinking of the man with the haunted eyes. He’s determined to give Charlie a taste of pleasure, despite Charlie’s claims that he’s not worthy of it.
Lynn Lorenz is an award-winning and bestselling author who grew up in New Orleans but currently lives in Texas, where she’s a fan of all things Texan, like Longhorns, big hair, and cowboys in tight jeans. She’s never met a comma she didn’t like, and enjoys editing and brainstorming with other writers. Lynn spends most of her time writing about hot sex with even hotter heroes, plot twists, werewolves, and medieval swashbucklers. She’s currently at work on her latest book, making herself giggle and blush, and avoiding all the housework.
October 3, 2016
Welcome to release day for Warrior Pledge. It’s a fantasy story set on a world I created piece by piece when I needed a place for my Mafdeti to live.
When I was first planning the world for Warrior Pledge, I made a list of the types of things a world would contain. There would be land and oceans, mountains and valleys, rivers, swamps and plains, jungles and deserts. The climate would change depending on where on the world you were. I decided that, like Earth, Thalazar would have cold poles and a hot equator. That made a lot of things quite easy. I had native peoples and invaders, although only one of each. Then I thought about the animals, insects and birds and tried to decide how many of each I would need to make the world at once recognisable yet different to Earth.
I made pages and pages of notes of different animals that a farming community would need to have, like cows and sheep, possibly dogs, cats, hens, bees, flies, wasps, worms. Then I got stuck on what to call them. Everything I came up with sounded made up and ridiculous, so I backtracked. I started asking myself different questions.
How important were these creatures were to the story? Yes, Rim came from a farming valley, but he wasn’t a farmer. He was the leader so his interactions with animals would be different. Then I took it a step further and decided that Rim wasn’t the main character anyway, so it didn’t matter how he interacted with farm animals.
So what animal/bird/insect on Thalazar was unique to the planet and was also important to the story? It had to be a native to the planet and had to impact on every living thing. The original inhabitants of the planet would be wary of it but also comfortable in its existence. It would be wide ranging and a threat to everything it came across. I decided it was a bird.
Have you looked closely at straw-necked ibis? They’re freaky. They have hard beady eyes and thready feathers around their necks like they’ve been dragged backwards through a wormhole. They could easily be descendents of some alien invader from the past. That’s where my thoughts for the norrgel originally began. The norrgel look a little like an ibis and a cormorant have mated with a penny whistle and a gothic haberdashery shop. These are my original sketches of the norrgel with behavioural annotations. They changed a little during the course of writing the book, but not a lot.
You might notice on my notes that the trailing threads have fine hairs that secrete a poison. That was my next inquiry.
When I was a child my mother told me a story about a young man she nursed. He had tetanus and the slightest sound set off the most violent spasms in his body. The muscular spasms were so strong they broke bones. He used to scream with the pain but the noise of the screaming only made the spasms worse. It was vicious. It was also perfect for my norrgel.
The norrgel hunt in flocks. When they sight prey they dive, one after the other, and whip the threads trailing from their wings and tails against their target. The whipping raises welts where the skin thins and allows the tiny hairs left behind to penetrate. The skin splits and the poison rushes in. The effect of the poison is immediate, the muscles go into spasm. The pain is excruciating, not just because of the spasming muscles but because the combination of the spasms and the poison liquefies the muscles, bones, sinews and tendons.
While they’re still alive.
The poison works its way inwards so things like the brain, heart and lungs are impacted last. The victim is aware of what’s happening every step of the way. It’s brutal and horrifying. Anyone who experiences the thrash of norrgel threads is dead within two hours. Anyone who sees a death by norrgel is changed forever.
The Mafdeti and the Imperials live under a norrgel sky. Their lives are lived around norrgel breeding season, when the birds are more active, and sunlight—norrgel hunt during daylight hours. They have norrgel watch set every day and hides to retreat to when the cry of ‘wings up’ is heard. The hides are large enough to shelter small flocks of farm animals. Once the hunting flock passes over, they emerge to continue their work.
The norrgel have one natural predator but they haven’t been seen for a thousand years. The people of Thalazar have stopped wishing for their return. Their lives now include daily watchfulness and regular deaths by norrgel.
Now we get to the fun part. Think back to my description of the straw-necked ibis. I’d love to hear about an animal/bird/insect you look at and think ‘that’s an alien’. I’ll pick two as winners who will have a choice of any ebook from my backlist.
Check out Warrior Pledge today!
When the two moons of Thalazar cross orbits, the Warrior Pledge must be completed or the cat-shifting Mafdeti nation will face annihilation. There are four who can save the people and their land: the Silver Shining from Rock, the Great Heart Farseeing, the Changeling, and the Pure. They must find each other before time runs out.
Silver-eyed Checa is Captain of the Guard for the Mafdeti. Thanks to the friendship and loyalty of Heath, son of the Mafdeti Matriarch, Checa has survived and thrived after a childhood of horrific abuse. He knows Heath is his Bond-Mate but refuses to bond with the younger man because he feels he isn’t worthy. Nor does Heath’s mother approve of her son bonding with a lowborn warrior.
Together they face deadly wing-strikes from carnivorous birds, earthquake, betrayal, ambush, and an enemy invasion, only to be confronted with the possibility that the Warrior Pledge will bond Checa and Heath to others. If Checa is to complete the Warrior Pledge, he must overcome the belief that he doesn’t deserve Heath’s love, and fight for the one man who can make him whole.
E E Montgomery wants the world to be a better place, with equality and acceptance for all. Her philosophy is: We can’t change the world but we can change our small part of it and, in that way, influence the whole. Writing stories that show people finding their own ‘better place’ is part of E E Montgomery’s own small contribution.
Thankfully, there’s never a shortage of inspiration for stories that show people growing in their acceptance and love of themselves and others. A dedicated people-watcher, E E finds stories everywhere. In a cafe, a cemetery, a book on space exploration or on the news, there’ll be a story of personal growth, love, and unconditional acceptance there somewhere.
You can contact E E Montgomery at firstname.lastname@example.org; on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ewynelaine.montgomery; on Twitter: @EEMontgomery1; or at her web site: http://www.eemontgomery.com/ and blog: http://www.eemontgomery.com/blog.
September 26, 2016
I’m willing to bet if we checked Remi’s closet, he’d have a T-shirt with that on it lol. Another T-shirt he has says: Be careful when you follow the masses…. Sometimes the M is silent. Remi is connoisseur of snarky T-shirts. It’s one of the things he’s well-known for. He likes to make a statement.
Hello everyone! My name is M.A. Church, but most people call me Michelle. Or just ‘M’. I’ve dropped by to talk about the next book in the Fur, Fangs, and Felines series, It Takes Two to Tango. It releases September 26th. This book centers on Remi and his mate, Marshell. Out of all the betas in the West Falls Clowder, Remi would’ve been the one perfectly fine with a mate who was human. But is that who his goddess gives him?
Of course not.
*Grin* That’d be too simple. Instead, she gives Remi a mate who’s not only dominant than him, but who’s also just as toppy. Marshell is a Vetala, a snakelike nonshifting paranormal who must have blood to survive. But unlike vampires, the Vetala are very much alive. The Vetala’s eyes, when aroused or threatened, changed to an eerie blue with a black, vertical iris. They also have fangs, but they’re not like the fangs you’d see with vampires. Marshell’s are different… more gnarly.
Then there’s the venom Marshell can use to paralyze his victim as he feeds. The venom can be used for other things too. *Grin* Can y’all guess where I’m going with that? The pair dance around each other while they try to figure out how to make a mating work, thus the title. Then Marshell is attacked. *Whew*
Oh, if that isn’t enough, there’s a twist at the very end when Aidric meets his mate.
Out of all the characters in this series, Marshell may possibly be my favorite. He’s a tough guy, and often feared because of what he is. If threatened, he’ll kill with no regret. But under that tough exterior…. Oh, who am I kidding? He’s still tough guy, but his loved ones are the most important people in his life. He’ll do anything for them.
This series is based on racism, but it’s viewed through the lens of speciesism. The werecats, especially the elders in the clowder, are resistant to accepting anyone who isn’t like them. They’re not particularly fond of humans either, as Kirk can tell you. Then there’s the issue of how women are viewed… think 1920s, and there you go.
The West Falls Clowder is undergoing change, and it certainly hasn’t been painless. *Grin* And I’m not through with them yet. I’m working on Aidric’s book now, then after that will be the Brier’s. That’ll be the last one in this series.
I’m doing a giveaway to celebrate the release of Tango. As I mentioned, Remi has a wardrobe full of snarky T-shirts dedicated to funny sayings. In order to enter the giveaway, tell me one of your favorite sayings that you’d like to see on a T-shirt. A winner will be chosen and that person will get to pick one of my backlist of books.
Check out It Takes Two to Tango today!
Can two very different men find the love they need to survive?
Remi Ginn’s an easygoing werecat with a love of snarky T-shirts. He would be perfectly happy with a human mate. Is that what the goddess Bast gives him? Of course not. Instead she gifts him with Marshell, a Vetala, a snakelike nonshifter who drinks blood to survive. A man who’s just as toppy as Remi—and even more powerful than the West Falls Clowder’s Alpha and heir apparent.
While Remi is deciding whether he can handle the fates’ choice, hunters attack Marshell. Afterward, in an explosion of passion, Remi and Marshell mate and Remi declares Marshell his. Now they have to figure out how to make their relationship work as they dance around each other.
The clowder is in turmoil, and Remi’s acceptance of Marshell rocks the very foundation of the insular group. The consequences will be far-reaching. And if that isn’t problem enough, the situation with the hunters is far from resolved… as proved by the appearance of an Alpha werewolf.
About M.A. Church:
M.A. Church is a true Southern belle who spent many years in the elementary education sector. Now she spends her days lost in fantasy worlds, arguing with hardheaded aliens on far-off planets, herding her numerous shifters, or trying to tempt her country boys away from their fishing poles. It’s a fulltime job, but hey, someone’s gotta do it! When not writing, she’s exploring the latest M/M novel to hit the market, watching her beloved Steelers, or glued to HGTV. That’s if she’s not on the back porch tending to the demanding wildlife around the pond in the backyard. The ducks are very outspoken. She’s married to her high school sweetheart, and they have two grown children. She was a finalist in the Rainbow awards for 2013and is a member of Romance Writers of America, Rainbow Romance Writers, and Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.
September 24, 2016
Hello! My name is Stephen Osborne, and I’m here to tell you about my new release, Raven’s Rest. It’s about ghosts, disembodied voices, seances, and, of course, love.
I blame Dark Shadows.
For those who don’t know, Dark Shadows was an late afternoon soap opera which ran from 1966 to 1971. Unlike other TV soaps, however, Dark Shadows dealt with vampires, witches, werewolves, and ghosts. Lots of ghosts. Kids used to race home from school to catch up with vampire Barnabas Collins and the other members of the cursed Collins family. Ah, those were the days.
Ever since Dark Shadows, I’ve loved a good spooky story. Stephen King quickly became a favorite writer, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read Hell House by Richard Matheson. TV shows? Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Supernatural, American Horror Story, and Stranger Things are on my watch list. I can’t seem to get away from the ghostly tales.
As if that isn’t bad enough, I sometimes spend the night in haunted locations. I’ve visited (and written about) the Coronado Performing Arts Center in Rockford, where shadowy figures are seen and spectral perfume can be smelled. Many a night I’ve spent at Willow Creek Farm, a private residence that’s listed as one of the most haunted houses in Illinois. At Willow Creek, I witnessed a chair falling over for apparently no reason, heard footsteps above me when no one was upstairs, and had a flashlight turn on and off by command. This flashlight, I must add, was old and dented, and it took one heck of a twist to turn it on!
Ghosts pop up in my own writing all the time. There’s Robbie, the late lover of Duncan Andrews in the Pale As a Ghost series, who died ten years ago but still hangs around. In Rat Bastard, Weasel masquerades as the Phantom Lady of Kennedy Hill Road—a real local legend in these parts! And, of course, there’s the Raven’s Rest Inn, which boasts several spirits. One of them, that of Coleman Hollis, becomes very familiar to Michael Cook.
And it continues. Currently, I’m working on another Duncan Andrews story, as well as bouncing around ideas for a possible sequel to Raven’s Rest. The ghosts just keep coming, keeping me company.
So let’s have a contest! To win a copy of one of my backlist titles (Duncan Andrews, one of the Weasel books, or anything you like!) tell me your favorite ghost story. It can be a personal experience, or a scary novel or story you’ve read! Let me know what’s kept you up at night!
Check out Raven’s Rest today!
Michael Cook has left his abusive lover and settled in the small town of Banning, Illinois. Having nowhere else to go, he checks into the Raven’s Rest Inn and soon learns that the haunted reputation of the hotel is well deserved. Michael gets a job at a local café, where he meets Trey Ramsey. Though Michael has misgivings about starting up a new relationship, Trey seems to be the complete opposite of Michael’s controlling ex, so he decides to give Trey a chance.
Life at the Raven’s Rest becomes increasingly frightening when the ghost of Coleman Hollis appears in Michael’s room. Coleman seems to want something from Michael, and the mystery deepens when Michael discovers he’s the spitting image of Coleman’s lover from years ago. Together, Michael and Trey must discover why Coleman’s spirit is drawn to the Raven’s Rest—and to Michael.
Stephen Osborne lives in Northern Illinois with Christine, the diva border terrier mix, where he works at a food packaging plant, testing food. So basically he makes brownies for a living. His loves include Doctor Who, Dark Shadows, and Broadway musicals. A mystery fanatic, his favorite authors are Rex Stout, Ellery Queen, and the wonderful Agatha Christie. His goal: to be the Phantom of the Opera. Not play the part…he wants to find an opera house to haunt!
September 22, 2016
Hello! Charley Descoteaux here, to talk about my new release Safe House.
Well, actually, I’m probably on an Amtrak train as you’re reading this, on my way from Portland to Seattle for the Gay Romance Northwest Meet-up! If you’ll be in the Seattle area Saturday the 24th I hope you’ll drop by the Seattle Central Library and check us out. Admission is free this year and the day will be packed with games and panels and giveaways and an after-party at the Rendezvous!
This week I celebrated the release of Safe House, the fourth book in my Buchanan House series. One thing that’s played an important role in the series is food. Not only does the cast feature a few chefs, they’re all foodies to one level or another. In Tiny House (Book 3) Nathan came up with a special event and it’s back in Safe House: Guest Chef Night.
Let me back up a little. If you’ve been following the tour it won’t surprise you to learn that my original plan for the series was for Kyle to end up with Derek. They’ve been best friends with benefits for years so it seemed like a natural way to go, with the added bonus of pairing a Japanese hero with an African American love interest (or vice versa—since they’re both core members of the family it could have gone either way). I haven’t seen many male-male Romances with main players like this and thought it would be a fun story to write. But Alex had other plans and she swept Derek off his feet in book one.
I still feel a little bad that Derek ended up as a subplot instead of the star of a book (even though I never heard him complain about getting an HEA without jumping through flaming hoops to get there), but since his spouse identifies as female most of their road to the altar took place off page. I love Derek, though, so he gets a turn to be the guest chef in Safe House. In Tiny House some of Derek’s backstory came out and he’s from the Southwestern US, so he creates a Southwestern feast for Guest Chef Night. This part of the story takes place in late February, which is the perfect time to enjoy steaming bowls of Chile Verde and spiced hot chocolate. And that steamy atmosphere is perfect for flirting.
A few Trato Hechos didn’t hurt the flirting. Here’s a recipe I found for the drink while researching Derek’s feast, followed by a nice long excerpt.
3/4 oz Pineapple-Infused Mezcal
3/4 oz Green Chartreuse
3/4 oz Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
3/4 oz Lime juice
Add all the ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice.
Shake, and strain into a coupe glass.
To make your own Pineapple-Infused Mezcal, peel, core and chop a whole pineapple into 1-inch cubes. Add to a large jar or other container with a lid, and add a 750-mL bottle of mezcal. Let stand for 5 days and strain before using.
And now the excerpt!
Bran suppressed a blush, but only pulled it off because most of his blood had pooled into his lap the first time Kyle touched him. As soon as their table was served, last (one of the drawbacks of being friends with the proprietors), Bran noticed immediately that Kyle was not a lefty. If he wasn’t careful, their elbows would be knocking together all through the meal—which also had probably been scripted by Nathan. Paulie too, if Bran knew him at all. They really were shameless.
It would be a shame to disappoint them.
He decided to let Nathan’s plan unfold as he’d envisioned it, so he stopped being careful about where his left elbow went while he ate. A gentle nudge against Kyle’s arm earned Bran a smile. If that smile made Bran sigh, it just as easily could’ve been the food. If anyone was paying attention.
It sounds and feels like sex waiting to happen in this room anyway.
Or maybe that’s just me.
The rest of the meal passed quickly and with surprisingly little conversation around the table. Bran guessed the rest of the men were so at ease with each other as longtime friends that a silent meal didn’t make anyone uncomfortable. If he hadn’t been so preoccupied with the man beside him, and thoughts of how he could get him alone, Bran would have been far less comfortable with the silence. He was used to directing the flow of any scene he found himself in, or at least making a good show of it, but tonight he wasn’t accomplishing that. He devoured the heavenly food and told himself there would be time to take control of the situation later.
When everyone had finished their quesadillas and chili, which sounded simple but tasted delightfully complex, Nathan stood again. Bran had been attracted to Nathan since the first time he laid eyes on him, but right then he found his fascination had dulled to a simple appreciation for his beauty and sense of style. He would have been happier focusing his attention on the man beside him, but Kyle wasn’t the one delicately clinking his knife against the rim of a wineglass.
“Derek, that was heavenly, darling. Thank you for a lovely meal.” Nathan smiled in the direction of the kitchen, and all heads turned to look at the chef—happy and handsome, he also looked tired and a little bit wilted.
Not surprising. If everything Bran had heard about Guest Chef Night was true, he’d even made the tortillas from scratch. Considering the full dining room had a capacity of thirty-five, that meant a bit of work.
The diners all applauded. Someone near Bran whistled—not at full volume, but enough to be heard over the applause and smattering of cheers. He could’ve sworn it was Kyle, but since all Bran could see was the back of his head, he couldn’t be sure.
When the noise level began to taper off, Nathan cleared his throat and drew the spotlight back to himself. “Once all the tables have been cleared, we’ll start the dessert course. Buñuelos are traditionally served with hot chocolate, so we have that. If you’d rather get your party started faster, we also have Trato Hechos—a fruity, spicy drink with mescal. Choose your poison, men, but if you drink, please don’t drive.” Nathan winked in Bran’s direction, and even though a groan or two was audible from the dining room, his smile didn’t falter. “No need to fret, gents. We have a designated driver and a van that seats about ten—a dozen if you’re friendly—leaving at eight for dancing in Lincoln City!”
Bran started to worry that he’d already had too much to drink when he pulled his attention from Nathan and realized their table had been cleared and fresh plates set. Servers descended on the room with drinks—steamy mugs on one tray and pitchers with light greenish drinks in martini glasses on the others—filling the room with the aromas of chocolate and pineapple. Brandon took a mug, as did everyone at the table except the two new guys.
Paulie laughed his infectious laugh. “You two are incorrigible. Do you plan on remembering any of this weekend?”
The smaller of the two men, delicate, with pale skin and auburn hair and fingertips stained black—Garrett—laughed and raised his glass. “Not if I can help it.”
Before anyone could comment, the kitchen doors opened again and flooded the room with such cinnamony goodness that all conversation stopped. The servers worked even faster than before, leaving plates with three crispy circles stacked like pancakes and dusted with powdered sugar.
“Oh, God, I love these.” Paulie sighed and picked up his fork even before his plate arrived. “Be careful, they’ll be hot.”
Bran watched as their desserts arrived, catching a whiff of something fruity along with the cinnamon. He’d just taken a bite when a warm hand clasped his shoulder. He jerked in surprise and turned to find Derek standing between him and Kyle, a hand on each of their shoulders.
“What do you guys think? Ever had a tortilla cookie before?”
Bran shook his head. “Good. The whole meal has been delicious.”
“Thanks. I’m glad you enjoyed it.” Derek grinned and might have pulled Kyle closer but might not have.
Which is none of my business.
Bran wanted to say something more, to show his appreciation and maybe not seem so much the stereotypical plodding hick, but he didn’t get the chance. Derek dropped a kiss onto the top of Kyle’s head and then sped around the table doing the same for the rest of the Portland family before moving farther into the room to mingle. Bran watched as he worked the room, chatting with almost everyone and basking in the well-deserved kudos aimed in his direction.
The buñuelos disappeared in moments, crispy little cinnamon bombs with sugar and sugary syrup that Bran thought meant an extra workout or two so they wouldn’t show on his gut. Then the dining room started to clear.
Kyle turned to Bran for the first time since they’d started eating and looked him straight in the eyes. “Are you going into town?”
“Hadn’t planned on it. You?”
Kyle shrugged, an elegant gesture that sent a shiver down Brandon’s spine. “I’ll save the van space for paying guests.”
Bran didn’t point out that he hadn’t seen Kyle drink one drop of alcohol. He could barely form the thought while captured by Kyle’s gorgeous dark eyes. It took a few beats too long, but he finally recovered enough to speak. “I haven’t had anything to drink—” He checked his watch. “—for almost an hour. If you wanted to go dancing, you could ride with me.”
“Sounds good. I need to work off some of this food.”
Bran didn’t want to seem overeager, but he did fold his napkin and place it beside his plate. When he uncovered his lap, his dick seemed to take that as a signal that it was game time and jerked to life. More than one way to work off extra calories.
Thank you for reading!
This post was about food, so let’s continue that in the comments. What would you make if you were the guest chef at a beach resort? Or if you’d rather sit in the dining room and be served, what would you like to find on the menu?
Don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter before you go!
Rafflecopter Giveaway (9/12/2016-10/01/2016):
Three winners! Prizes: One signed paperback of Safe House (US Only); one ebook copy of book one of the series, Buchanan House; one backlist book (any ebook except Safe House)
Check out Safe House today!
Kyle Shimoda is an asshole magnet, has been for as long as he can remember. At forty-seven, he doesn’t see much chance for improving his luck in love. His friends who run Buchanan House, a gay retreat on the central Oregon coast, know he wants to find “someone nice” to settle down with, and they set him up with Officer Brandon Smith. Kyle has a turbulent history with law enforcement, but he can’t deny his attraction to the buff cop.
Brandon has been a police officer in Lincoln City almost since the day he graduated from high school over thirty years ago. He’s cultivated the facade of a serious, disciplined law enforcement officer, but beneath his overdeveloped chest beats the soft heart of a drama queen. A cancer scare shifts Bran’s focus from finding a serious relationship to having as much sex as he can—putting his goals squarely at odds with Kyle’s. If he can’t find the courage to be honest about his feelings for Kyle, the happiness they’ve both been searching for could slip through their fingers.
Tour Dates & Stops:
Sept. 12: MM Good Book Reviews
Sept. 19: My Fiction Nook
Sept. 20: Alpha Book Reviews
Sept. 21: Open Skye Book Reviews
Sept. 22: Dreamspinner Blog
Sept. 23: Love Bytes
About the Author
Charley Descoteaux has always heard voices. She was relieved to learn they were fictional characters, and started writing when they insisted daydreaming just wasn’t good enough. In exchange, they’ve agreed to let her sleep once in a while. Charley grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area during a drought, and found her true home in the soggy Pacific Northwest. She has survived earthquakes, tornadoes, and floods, but couldn’t make it through one day without stories.
Rattle my cages:
Series: Buchanan House
Book Number: 4
Release Date: September 19, 2016
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase
September 20, 2016
Hello everyone! I’m Lucie Archer, another States of Love author here, and today I thought I’d offer a little insight into a few things I learned while writing Taming the Wyld. But first I should probably start with a little background since I’m new around here.
When I stumbled on the open call for the series, I wasn’t exactly looking to write my first novella. I had just begun researching publishers for the book I wrote for NaNoWriMo, but as soon as I saw the word Alaska, the idea for the book formed in my mind and I couldn’t shake it. I took a leap of faith, sent in my claim, received the go ahead, and immediately set out to write. Or rather, I started scouring the web in the name of research.
As a self-proclaimed nerd who loves learning, nothing gets me more excited when starting a new project than the research I know will go into it. I get to learn all sorts of things I wouldn’t have thought to look up otherwise, and then I get to mash them together and sprinkle them into a nice plot with handsome guys and call it a day. What’s not to love?
So without further ado, here are the top five things I learned about the great state of Alaska:
1) It’s not a frozen wasteland
This might seem obvious, but I’m a bit guilty of associating snow with Alaska. It does snow there, A LOT, but the summer temperatures range from 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, which sound like heaven to me to a Texan like me. There are also vast acres of green forests teeming with life, but I bet when you hear the word Alaska, the first images that form in your mind are of their infamous glaciers and near-frozen animals trudging through snow. Maybe even a random polar bear or two.
Taming the Wyld is set during the summer months, and there are scenes involving a few lakes and natural forests, but there is also talk of polar bears, in particular the fascinating factoid Jake, my MC, mentions on the connection of polar bears and Sasquatch.
2) Glacier ice is blue
While not necessarily restricted to Alaska, even though it has around 100,000 glaciers, this is a little tidbit I did not know. Glaciers are huge, which means they weigh tons and tons. All this weight puts pressure on the ice molecules and essentially changes them. This change affects the light waves they reflect and absorb, and because of this [insert long-winded scientific explanation] they appear as a beautiful blue.
3) Alaska is the biggest state with one of the smallest populations
This is probably another intuitive fact some may know, but I thought I’d provide a little comparison to illustrate the point. Alaska is twice the size of my home state of Texas, but there are more people living in my hometown of Fort Worth, almost 800,000, than there are in the whole state. That doesn’t even include the rest of the crowded DFW metroplex that I’m used to, which contains over 6.5 million people.
In contrast, the fictional town of Two Pines in Taming the Wyld has about 600 residents. I can really relate to JD, my second MC. He’s from Los Angeles, and I had fun toying with his culture shock.
Like with many western states in the US, Alaska had its fair share of gold rushes in the 1800’s. During my research on geography, I came across many towns, or former towns, that once burst at the seams with thousands of people but now currently boast populations of a hundred or less. And some, maybe most, are now ghost towns.
Why did I bother mentioning this? Because I’m a huge history nerd who loves boomtowns, and there is also a very real and possibly haunted hotel by a hot spring Jake and JD visit in the book. The town of Circle, Alaska, where the hotel is located, started as a mining supply town.
5) The indigenous history
I can’t go into much about this because there were so many different indigenous populations in Alaska, and I don’t have time to cover them all in a blog post. I’m half Native American myself, and I kind of wanted to pay tribute to that history with Denny, who is half Alaska Native as well as Jake’s best friend and co-pilot.
In the book, Denny makes Jake and JD Eskimo ice cream, or Akutaq, which is a native dish traditionally made with whipped fat mixed with berries, fish, greens, and sometimes reindeer. Not sure how good that sounds to most of our modern day American pallets, but it was a staple for thousands of years for native inhabitants.
And there you have it, a crash course on Alaska that should wet your whistle until you can pick up a copy of my debut novella!
Check out Taming the Wyld today!
The Witness Protection Program dumps JD Smith practically at the ends of the earth—in Two Pines, Alaska—to protect him until he can testify against a dangerous gang. He tries to stick to his story and keep his head down, but it’s impossible to ignore bush pilot Jake Wylder, a sexy loner with quite a reputation around the small town.
Flying medical supplies around Alaska suits Jake’s wild streak and love of freedom. He’s perfectly content to keep his romantic encounters casual—at least until he meets JD. Something about the nurse makes Jake think settling down might not be such a hardship. Now he just needs to convince JD he’s serious—which won’t be easy, given his past.
For a relationship to stand a chance, JD must testify so he can return to Two Pines as the man he really is—and Jake must grow into the man JD needs him to be.
Lucie Archer is a student of the universe who is obsessed with the stars, in love with beaches, and crazy about dudes falling in love. Her weaknesses include a big heart, the sun, self-doubt, and kryptonite… probably. Not the exact recipe for a supervillain, but she has plans to take over the world nonetheless.
Her first foray into nonacademic writing started with fanfiction—hardly an original origin story—but after a few years of honing her craft with other people’s characters, she realized she was perfectly capable of creating her own. Her underground lair, somewhere in Texas, is now overflowing with them as she prepares to unleash them on an unsuspecting world one book at a time.
As a realist, she works hard to write stories that are as honest and accurate as possible, regardless of whether that means staying up till 5:00 a.m. researching circumcision in the Ol’ West or refusing to quit until she knows exactly what the runway in Circle Hot Springs, Alaska, consists of. (It’s gravel, in case you were wondering.)
When she’s not writing, she can be found tending to her garden, playing with her four-legged children, procrastinating, or planning world domination. Although she does spend an awful lot of time fending off random plot bunnies that threaten to derail her WIPs.
September 15, 2016
Hello, folks! Thanks so much for inviting me on the release of my newest novel, Obsidian Moons, book two of the Obsidian series. In Obsidian Sun, the first novel of this series, readers were introduced to the Talac and Varas, and the unique elements of their culture. In Obsidian Moons we are introduced to the Ubica who have an exclusive society of their own. Each Triad is comprised of three members: the forge, hammer and anvil. Each member of the Triad has specific characteristics, but I thought it might interest everyone to look at the weapon specialization of each member.
Oka is the forge for this Triad. The forge of each Triad is a master of thrown weapons. Legend says each forge carries a hundred blades. You can also see the throwing spikes in Oka’s topknot on the cover image. But Oka’s skills are focused on thrown knives and spikes.
Daya is the hammer of our Triad. Not too surprising his weapon of choice is the war hammer. These weapons look more like an ice ax than a traditional hammer. Daya sees himself as the protector of the other Triad members.
The final member of our Triad is Gurvan, the anvil of the Triad. As the anvil Gurvan is the spokesman for the Triad and carries a sword as his weapon on the battlefield. Gurvan’s sword is similar to the katana of medieval Japan. He’s skilled to where he can deflect arrows.
So there is a little more background on our newest culture in the Obsidian Series. I hope you enjoy reading more about the Ubica in Obsidian Moons.
Check out Obsidian Moons today!
After achieving the impossible and releasing their people from the Varas slavers, Anan and Terja, a spellweaver and spellspinner, start the arduous journey back to their homeland. A winter trek across the grasslands is dangerous enough, but the traitor, Xain, is tasked with recapturing the slaves, and failure will mean his death. As added insurance, the Varas High Regent hires a Triad of legendary Ubica assassins and assigns a full regiment of his personal guards, along with their captain, to the task. Their mission is clear: recapture the escaped Talac slaves destined for the Varas pleasure houses—and the bed of the High Regent—at any cost.
The newly freed Talac travel toward their homelands with the full knowledge they are likely being pursued. The flight westward is fraught with new and unexpected dangers as Anan and Terja struggle to save their tribe. The battle for shelter, food, and a way to defend themselves becomes an all-consuming task, but they are reminded by the avatars of their gods that all is not as it appears.
Jon Keys’ earliest memories revolve around books; with the first ones he can recall reading himself being “The Warlord of Mars” and anything with Tarzan. (The local library wasn’t particularly up to date.) But as puberty set in he started sneaking his mother’s romance magazines and added the world of romance and erotica to his mix of science fiction, fantasy, Native American, westerns and comic books.
A voracious reader for almost half a century, Jon has only recently begun creating his own flights of fiction for the entertainment of others. Born in the Southwest and now living in the Midwest, Jon has worked as a ranch hand, teacher, computer tech, roughneck, designer, retail clerk, welder, artist, and, yes, pool boy; with interests ranging from kayaking and hunting to painting and cooking, he draws from a wide range of life experiences to create written works that draw the reader in and wrap them in a good story.
As the lamps were extinguished and the room darkened, Oka curled up facing the wall and tried to sleep. He listened to the night sounds around him, but they brought no comfort. They served only to emphasize the foreign setting. He’d surprised himself by sharing a secret of the Forge sect. It wasn’t forbidden, but as Gurvan pointed out, it wasn’t common unless the Triad was forged. For Oka, it seemed the right thing to do.
He felt the wounds of loss reopen as he thought about Ata and Lanvi. His Triad had been on their final contract and planned to forge the mating bond afterward. But things went terribly wrong. Oka missed an impossibly easy knife throw, and the target’s personal guards had burst through the door with crossbows loaded. The chaos had been short and lethal. His Triad had practically thrown him out the window to save him.
“Questioning their choice is not helping, Oka. They wanted you to live or they wouldn’t have protected you so you could escape,” said Gurvan when the silence stretched longer.
“And I let them. I fled faster than a rockdiver.” Oka cringed at the memory of scurrying away in fear. Retracing the event brought the same feeling of hollowness and pain it always did.
“The time will come when you must forgive yourself, or when you go to the Master Smith for reforging you will be found faulty.”
He searched for a response when a knock came from the thick wooden door. Gurvan motioned Oka to light a lamp.
He quickly struck the back of a blade against a piece of firestone he kept. The spark hit the lamp’s wick and a flame formed quickly. Gurvan moved beside him, and Oka handed him the flame. Oka saw he had a blade palmed as he moved to open the door.
Holding the light low, Gurvan cracked open the entrance. During the heartbeat that followed, Oka readied himself for a throw. He could only guess Daya was arming himself too. Only a fool disturbed a Triad under contract. But these Varas didn’t seem to understand the nuances of working with the Ubica.
“Let me in, fools!” hissed the voice from the other side of the door.
Gurvan’s eyes narrowed, causing Oka to tense, but then he opened the door wide enough to allow the nocturnal visitor admittance. The shadows moved but more lamps were not lit. Oka wondered why, but knew Gurvan would have his reason.
Oka’s vision adjusted to the flickering light and he recognized the furry Talac. Why would he come here? I can see Gurvan’s hand twitch with the need to feed his iron with this one’s blood. The Talac should state his business quickly.
“Why are you disturbing our sleep, slave?” Gurvan asked.
Oka was a little surprised Gurvan spoke so abruptly. Ubica tradition dictated a more hospitable approach, but he was the Anvil of their Triad. He waited to see what the Talac’s response to the offense would be. He was surprised to see the tall man fold into a bow of subservience.
“My apologies for disturbing you, Anvil. But I hoped for a moment of the Triad’s time.”
Gurvan’s only response was a low grunt.
The slave slipped into the room, his movement echoing those of a hunting longtooth. This was no helpless slave. Gurvan held the lamp higher and the two locked eyes.
This time with a short, less formal bow, the slave began. “My name is Xain. This mission is important to me. I know your contract is with the High Regent, but we will be working together and you will need my help, or you will be unable to complete your agreement.”
The muscles in Gurvan’s jaw tensed at Xain’s words. Oka could imagine only the forging with the Master Smiths kept the Talac alive. Then he noticed something else about the visitor. The Talac was wearing a spiritknife at his waist. How did he get the short sword? Only certain Triad Anvils carry that weapon. It was an incredible blade in the right hands. But even for someone of the Iron People, it was not to be treated lightly. Gurvan hadn’t been awarded one because their Triad wasn’t life forged. How the Talac had gotten one was beyond Oka.
“We will finish our mission, furry one. There is nothing you can tell us that we do not already know,” Gurvan said.
“You know the Talac magic? You know, the two you are assigned to kill have more skills than any Talac I’ve ever seen. I think they are blessed of the Twined Ones. I believe the spellspinner somehow survived akhir. No one since the clans were joined has survived akhir.”
Oka caught the twitch traveling along the dark skin on Gurvan’s face. A wash of surprise came over Oka. Gurvan doesn’t know. Or he hadn’t known. Interesting.
“What of it? And what do you ask of us? I’m sure even you are aware we will not go against the forging we have already created with the High Regent.”
The Talac’s expression changed even further. This was not a man Oka wanted at his back. “I want those two. The spellspinner and his mate. They destroyed my plans. Now I am living only at the grace of the High Regent. Do you have any idea what that means?”
Oka shook his head in a negative but Gurvan nodded, and his expression seemed to soften. After a moment of silence, he spoke to Xain. “We cannot help you directly. But our goals are similar. I understand you are marked, but our current forging is with him.”
Xain glared at Gurvan until the tension became palpable in the room. “You want to be my ally, Ubica. I am not a person you want to be pitted against. I am not the helpless slave you think I am.” Xain rested his hand against the spiritknife’s hilt.
Oka stepped from the shadows at the same instant Daya moved to Gurvan’s other side. Oka could see the eyes of the other two were echoes of their roles. Gurvan’s became the coal black of the anvil and Daya’s the shining silver of a working hammer. He knew from past experience his own eyes were the deep red and yellow from the forge.
Oka was pleased the combined energies of his Triad drove the Talac back until he was pinned against the door. Oka’s fire built as he watched the man who was rapidly becoming his prey. The feeding hunger sensed the fear from Xain until Oka twitched his arm and held three throwing spikes in his palm. Three, the sacred number, it’s a sign from the Great Smith. Oka tensed to launch the lethal missiles, but a heavy hand closed on his shoulder.
The fire he was about to unleash drained from him. He tensed as his desire faded faster than a drop of water against red hot metal. I will have words with Gurvan later. But I will play my role for now.
Gurvan spoke and this time it had the true ring of the Anvil. The almost crystalline chime in his voice traveled through Oka, soothing some of his fire. He glanced at Daya and got a small nod. Daya agreed with Gurvan. Tonight his fire would not be fed.
“Leave now and we will forget this ever happened. Don’t interfere with our forging again. Know that whatever you feared from the pair of weavers would be nothing compared to the wrath of a Triad of the Iron People,” Gurvan said.
The conflict in the room built until Oka thought he felt the waves traveling through him. Xain reached behind him, slipping across the face of the heavy wooden door until he reached the latch. Oka enjoyed the moments of fumbling as the Talac tried to open the lock. With the bolt’s click, the door pivoted open, and Xain slipped through.
Oka glared at the door as he calmed his racing heart. Once he thought he could speak to Gurvan with the respect due his station, he turned to catch his gaze. “Why would you—”
Gurvan silenced him with a flick of his hand. “You were unleashing the hunger of the Forge. I know the outlander carries a spiritblade, which will make our forging more difficult. I couldn’t allow you to send him to the Ancients for reforging. We have many obstacles ahead of us. There is no need to make it more difficult.”
The heat inside Oka built for a moment, and then he allowed Gurvan and Daya to calm him. Without looking at either of them, he returned the throwing spikes to their sheaths and moved to the corner and his sleeping mat.
“Oka, come. Sleep with us,” Daya said.
Oka stared at the two men for several moments. Do I want to become close to these two? They are different from Ata and Lanvi. Ata would never have quenched my fire. He enjoyed seeing me use it. But Ata is dead, and I have a second chance with Gurvan and Daya.
“Come. You can give us some of the heat you are filled with. These Smith-cursed northlands are cold,” Gurvan said with a throaty tone to his words.
Oka chuckled at the idea of Gurvan being affected by the cool temperature. It served its purpose too.
“All right. But don’t complain to me in the morning about feeling as if you’d slept with a live ember.”
Answer a simple question in the comments and make yourself eligible for a free eBook from my backlist. The question? What was the Talac term for the youngsters who cared for their kuri herds. I’ll go through the comments on Sept 20th and select a winner.
If you have any other questions for me be sure and leave them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer.
September 13, 2016
Hi, I’m M. Raiya, and I want to thank the folks at DSP for hosting me on their blog today. This is the last stop on my Depth of Return blog tour. Depth of Return is an urban fantasy novel set in northern Vermont, where I live. It’s the second book in the Another Healing universe. The main characters of the first novel make an appearance, but Depth of Return’s characters are new and the novel stands alone. The two main characters, North and Alan, are a witch/demon pair, predestined before they were born to make magic together. I’m really excited to be here — this feels a bit like my home base. So I thought I’d talk about home today, since it’s really important to both main characters in Depth of Return.
North’s home is a cabin on an island in the middle of a pond in Vermont. It provides the safety and privacy he craves, as well as the seclusion his coven of witches and demons needs. North’s coven is one of several in the area, and each one has a specialty. One is made up of mostly healers (that’s the one James and Ambient from Another Healing have joined for obvious reasons.) There is another coven of people who call themselves “Enforcers.” They’re the ones who get called when a witch or demon has trouble with another witch or demon, which happens too frequently.
In this excerpt, North describes his coven to Alan, who is about to become part of it.
“What is your coven’s theme?”
“‘Our’ coven,” I corrected. “At least as long as you want it to be. We’re… I don’t know. It’s a little hard to explain. We all have strong academic backgrounds, especially in history. We’re a bit philosophical. Magical theorists, if that makes sense. We focus on the ‘whys’ just as much as the ‘hows.’ Practically speaking, what we do is what you saw us do tonight. We link to each other and to the stars, raise power, and then release it into the world to do what it will.”
Alan stopped slicing the tomato on his cutting board and stared at me.
I shrugged. “The other covens think we’re a little impractical and out there. I grant you that our coven was originally formed back in the sixties, and Arnold just lost his beard and long hair a little while ago. We don’t fix problems. We try to prevent them. Hence it’s a little difficult to prove that we accomplish anything at all. No one ever comments on a war that was prevented, because no one knows about it. Easier to sing songs about the heroes. And we’re fine with that.” I shrugged. “And maybe they’re right. Maybe we aren’t accomplishing anything.”
“No way.” Alan shook his head. “I might not know much yet, but I can feel shit, and you guys… we… sent up a trainload of power. I’ll bet if we stopped, those other covens would suddenly have their hands full with people who needed healing or had to be enforced. Without so much peace raining down on them, people would be even crazier.”
“Well, it’s what we do, for whatever it’s worth. They say we’re just throwing away our power. What they don’t understand is how much we get back from doing it. But covens pretty much keep to themselves, anyway. I couldn’t even tell you how many there are around the world. I guess it used to be a form of protection, not to know. Now it’s a habit.”
North describes the members of his coven as “A mismatched collection of misfits.” One of the DSP editors I worked with called them, “North’s quirky coven,” and I thought that was both perfect and very funny. They are quirky, for sure, and I had way too much fun writing about them.
Alan has never really had a home until he meets North. He fits right into the quirky coven. He was abandoned by his parents and raised by an aunt until she got tired of it. He lived in a series of foster homes until high school, and then he couch surfed amongst his friends. Despite all that, Alan grows up to be a really nice, decent guy. But when he finds out he’s a demon, it all becomes too much and his past catches up to him. North’s island becomes a sanctuary.
Home is very important to me, too. I’m incredibly lucky to have two of them — the house my husband and I had built on a dirt road up in the mountains, and a camp on Lake Champlain that has been in my family for four generations. For the last three years, my husband and I pack up our cat and move in for the summer. Our camp is on the top of a thirty foot cliff overlooking three miles of open water with the Adirondack Mountains in the background. We live here from mid May to the first of October, weather allowing. Followers of my social media know that I spam people endlessly with photos of sunsets, but I can’t help it; they are absolutely magical here.
Since it’s August as I’m writing this, and I’m at camp, I just took a few photos of the space where I do my writing and the view over my shoulder. I love this place with all my heart — my father designed it and all the relatives worked together to built it, and it has so many windows that you feel like you’re outside even when you’re inside. And lots and lots of good memories. I can completely identify with North and Alan about how much they love their cabin on the island.
I would love to hear about special places for you in the comments below. Or feel free to ask me anything. Anyone who comments in the next 72 hours will be entered into a drawing for a free book from my backlist at Dreamspinner.
Thanks so much for reading!
Check out Depth of Return today!
Betrayed and left for dead by his lover, North has retreated to a secluded island to nurture his coven of witches and their demon partners. His group uses the magic of starlight to bring as much peace to the world as they can. It’s enough. North has no desire to look for love again.
When an accident on a carpentry job reveals that he is a demon, Alan Holsen is sent to North for training. Alan possesses a rare healing ability—one he might be able to use to close the old wounds in North’s heart. While North teaches Alan magic, Alan teaches North to love again, and they both struggle with the leftover resonance of their haunted pasts.
Just when they dare to relax, North’s old enemy returns—and sets his sights on Alan. To save him, North must enlist the aid of neighboring covens, and he learns he isn’t as alone as he thought. But in the end, only North’s love for Alan and the power of the stars have any chance of saving them.
About M. Raiya:
M. Raiya knew she was a writer since second grade when her teacher kept her in for recess because “Somebody had better teach you about semicolons!” She started her first fantasy trilogy in fifth grade. She majored in writing in college, got her master’s degree in English, published some literary fiction, and fortunately emerged from all that with her imagination unscathed.
She is a native Vermonter and often needs four-wheel drive to reach her home on a dirt road in the mountains. Her other passions are birdwatching, nature photography, and swimming. When she’s not writing, she takes long walks with a big lens and a pair of binoculars, often standing motionless for hours waiting for the right lighting for the perfect shot, or climbing into places not meant to be climbed into for the right angle. Or she might be found in the nearby lake in the summer or a handy swimming pool in the winter, since she will turn into a mermaid if she doesn’t submerge at least once a day.
She is married and has two almost grown daughters, a cat who demands to lie between her and her computer whenever she dares to sit down, and a day job working with high school kids with special needs who frequently tell her that she is completely crazy, which she’s always known and definitely would not want to change.
September 9, 2016
Hi everyone! I’m Shira Anthony, former opera singer, sci fi fantasy geek, anime otaku, and gay romance writer, here to introduce my latest Dreamspinner Press release, Take Two!
Take Two is a lighthearted, funny story about second chances at love. For those who have read my Blue Notes series, contemporary and very angsty stories about classical musicians, this story will be a bit of a departure. It’s low on angst, and more about pure romance, and friendship between lovers that runs deep. Two men who are very different—the geeky professor and over the top Hollywood superstar—but who were and are still attracted to each other in spite of a long separation.
I set Take Two in one of my favorite places, Bald Head Island, at North Carolina’s coast and not far from Wilmington, North Carolina. It’s a lovely island that’s as much a study in contrasts as the two main characters in my story. On the one hand, much of the island is still the way nature created it, with sand dunes, long, white sand beaches, and an inland waterway you can kayak on. On the other, the island has some of the nicest and most expensive beach houses (think more like beach mansions!) I’ve ever seen. People drive around the island on golf carts, since cars are forbidden. The grocery store in the center of the island sells foie gras, the best cuts of steak you can buy, imported wine and beer, and the sorts of foods you’ll only find in upscale stores on the mainland like Whole Foods.
But Bald Head works in spite of its strange mix, just like Wesley and Sam in my story. Yin and yang. It’s a wonderful refuge from reality, accessible only by boat. A little fantasy island. Romantic and relaxing. And a perfect place to film a movie! Because that’s what brings Wesley and Sam back together again, and it’s what literally sets the scene for their second chance at love.
To celebrate the release of Take Two, I’m offering up a copy of another lighthearted romance, First Comes Marriage, from Dreamspinner Press’s Dreamspun Desires line. For folks in the U.S., I’ll give you the choice of a paperback or ebook copy. For folks outside the U.S., you’ll receive an ebook copy.
How do you enter? Answer this question: What’s the most romantic place you wish you could travel to? I’ll choose one winner from all the comments after midnight on Sunday, September 11th. Good luck! -Shira
Check out Take Two today!
Shiver me timbers! When Professor Wesley Coolidge accepts a summer job as a historical consultant to a pirate movie being filmed in North Carolina, the last person he expects to bump into is his soon-to-be ex, movie star Sander Carson. Just like the flamboyant pirate he’s playing, Sander, aka Sam Carr, is used to getting what he wants, and he makes it clear he wants Wesley back in his life.
Sam acknowledges it’s his fault they split up. He lost Wesley when he left their life in New York City behind for a career in Hollywood. But Wesley has finally managed to put the pieces of his heart back together, and he isn’t interested in Sam and Wesley: The Sequel. Sam soon realizes that convincing Wesley to give their relationship a second chance will take much more than apologies and reminders of good times past. If he wants Wesley back, Sam will have to show Wesley that they really can sail into the sunset together—a real-life happily-ever-after that won’t end once the final credits roll.
Shira Anthony was a professional opera singer in her last incarnation, performing roles in such operas as Tosca, Pagliacci, and La Traviata, among others. She’s given up TV for evenings spent with her laptop, and she never goes anywhere without a pile of unread M/M romance on her Kindle.
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