Stamp of Fate — Second Round of Games

July 30, 2012

My favorite part of writing Stamp of Fate was researching all the mythology. I (re)learned a lot of things I didn’t end up using in the book, and I probably spent far too much time surfing the web to find information as I tried to find everything I needed for the story, but I had a lot of fun doing it.

And since I hope you guys enjoy mythology as much as I do, it’s time for another set of Greek god/goddess quiz questions. Remember, one right answer to any of these will enter you in the drawing for an ebook of Stamp of Fate and if you get all 30 right, you may be eligible for some bigger prizes.

See the first post for full details.

Question Set #2:

  1. This god’s symbols were a cornucopia, a rudder of destiny, and a wheel of fortune.
  2. Some myths say this god was born from sea foam.
  3. This god forged a magic throne that entrapped Hera.
  4. This god was saved from being swallowed by his father when his mother and grandmother substituted a swaddling-wrapped stone in his place.
  5. This god often backed non-Greek people in battle, such as the Trojans and the Amazons

Leave your answers in the comments!

Stamp of Fate — Meet the Gods

July 30, 2012

In Stamp of Fate, the various Greek gods and goddesses live under mortal identities with mortal jobs. I had a lot of fun trying to match their characteristics to jobs in today’s world. I’ll tell you later who I gave what job, but I’m curious, what jobs would you give the Greek gods and goddesses today?

I’ve provided a list of gods and goddesses in Stamp of Fate below. Answer for one, all, or anywhere in between. My favorite answer will win an ebook of your choice from my back catalog.

Gods/Goddesses in Stamp of Fate:

  • Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty
  • Apollo, god of the sun
  • Ares, god of war
  • Artemis, goddess of the hunt
  • Athena, goddess of wisdom and strategic warfare
  • Demeter, goddess of the harvest
  • Dionysus, god of wine
  • Eros, god of sexual love and beauty
  • Hades, ruler of the underworld
  • Helios, personification of the sun
  • Hephaestus, blacksmith of the gods
  • Hera, queen of the gods
  • Hermes, messenger of the gods
  • Hestia, goddess of the hearth
  • Pan, god of the wild
  • Persephone, queen of the underworld
  • Poseidon, god of the sea
  • Tyche, goddess of fortune
  • Zeus, king of the gods

Stamp of Fate – Release Party

July 30, 2012

Hello everyone! I’m here to celebrate the release of my second novel, Stamp of Fate. This one’s a murder mystery with a mythological twist, and I’m really excited that it’s finally here. I had a lot of fun writing this and I can’t wait to share it with all of you. To celebrate, I’ll be giving away an e-book copy of Stamp of Fate. To win, you’ll need to comment on one of my Greek god trivia posts, so brush up on your mythology and enjoy the excerpt below.

Blurb:

A dead body is never a welcome sight, but it’s especially troublesome when Tadd Leventis and Declan Anagnos return home to find one in their foyer. Most people know the dead woman as a curator at the local museum, but Tadd and Declan recognize her as someone from their distant past—Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom and strategic warfare. To Tadd and Declan, it’s more than a murder. It’s a threat to the mortal lives they’ve worked so hard to build—and a wakeup call that their immortal lives are in danger too.

At Zeus’s request, they once again don the mantles of Ares and Hermes, but when they start investigating their fellow Olympians, Tadd and Declan discover things are far more complicated than they seem. As the body count rises, tracking the killer becomes more dangerous, and the investigation starts to strain their relationship. Can they patch things up in time to catch the killer, or will the killer catch them first?

Excerpt:

Declan stalks inside when he gets home, snatches his car keys from the hook by the door, and catches Tadd’s eye. “Let’s go.” He’s in the car, garage door open and engine running by the time Tadd makes it out, and the moment Tadd’s door closes, Declan throws the vehicle into reverse and careens out of the driveway.

He’s halfway to his office before Tadd shifts in his seat and clears his throat. “So, Sofia didn’t know who killed her?”

“I didn’t talk to Sofia.” Declan jerks the car around a corner, making the tires squeal, and smiles slightly as the harsh noise eases his tension a little. “Hades has her locked in Tartarus and wouldn’t take me to her.” He yanks the wheel to the left, sending the car skidding around another corner. “I can’t challenge him on his territory. We have to do this the hard way.”

“We could—” Tadd starts, but Declan cuts him off before he finishes the sentence.

“No. He won’t let you leave if you come with me. That’s a last resort.”

“All right.” Tadd holds up his hands, clearly taken aback by Declan’s vehemence. “We’ll try the hard way.”

“Thank you.” Declan eases back on the gas a little as he merges with traffic. Most of his anger is gone now and he relaxes his grip on the steering wheel as he maneuvers the car into the pattern of moving vehicles.

Tadd fiddles with the radio, flipping through all of Declan’s presets before turning it off. “Can you tell me what he said? I’d rather be prepared if we have to go back later.”

“There isn’t much else, but sure.” They’re still a few miles from the office. Declan fills Tadd in on the entire conversation with Hades, answering all of Tadd’s questions and finishing just as he pulls the car into his assigned parking spot. “Perfect timing.” He climbs out, waits for Tadd to follow, and hits the remote lock as he leads the way into the building.

Rachel Chambers is sitting in her usual spot when they reach Declan’s office, an earpiece in her ear and her computer screen showing Declan’s calendar as well as the memo she was typing. A PowerPoint presentation is minimized to her taskbar, and Declan has a brief flash of worry before he remembers he asked her to edit the presentation he gave the board last month so it could be used in pitches to other companies. It’s nothing he has to do, which is good, because he strongly suspects he won’t be able to take much of a hands-on approach to running the business for the next few weeks.

“You’re late,” Rachel says, pointing her pen at him with one hand as she presses the disconnect button on the phone with another. “I’ve had to reschedule two appointments already, and I was starting to think I’d have to reschedule your lunch meeting too. Where have you been?”

“With me.” Tadd steps in before Declan has a chance to formulate a response. Rachel always manages to make him feel uncomfortable, like he’s the clueless mortal and she’s the god, and he’s never quite sure how he’s supposed to respond when she scolds him like that. She’s his administrative assistant, but Tadd hired her for him when they first orchestrated the switch from being their “fathers” to being themselves, and he’s not sure he can fire her. Tadd would probably just hire her right back.

“Mr. Leventis.” Rachel lets a small smile slip through before she directs her stern gaze at Tadd as well. “I should have known you’d be at fault here.” Her gaze narrows, and she purses her lips as she stares at him.

She looks so ridiculously serious that Declan has to step in. “He actually wasn’t. It was personal business. Something came up unexpectedly. I’m sorry.” Declan sits on the edge of her desk and directs his most winning smile and widest eyes at her. “Can you forgive me?”

“Is it over?”

“Unfortunately, no.” Declan’s reluctant sigh is only half-fake. “I’m not going to be able to be around much for the next several weeks, at least.”

“What should I tell your appointments? I can’t just ask them to keep waiting on their bids because you don’t know when you’ll be back. The business will go under. I’ll be out of a job!”

“Like Tadd would ever let that happen.”

Behind Declan, Tadd shakes his head, a small smile playing on his lips. “I’d find something for you to do, Rachel. I promise.”

“Well,” she huffs, “that’s better than him.”

“Hey!”

“Well, you wouldn’t find something for me, would you?”

“I wouldn’t have to, Tadd would!”

“Not the point.”

“Fine.” Declan assumes his most put-upon expression. “I would find you a better job than Tadd would. Happy?”

“I will be once you tell me what to do with all these meetings I have you scheduled for.”

Declan closes his eyes for a minute, trying to think. Running the business can’t take top priority right now, not with Bront expecting him to solve this mystery, but he can’t let the business sink, either. He and Tadd have worked too hard to get things the way they are. Declan Anagnos, CEO of Alpha Wing Communications, and Hermes, spy for Zeus, must remain separate entities. “Give as many of them to the directors as you can. If there’s anyone I need to handle personally, forward it to me, and I’ll find time.”

“Will do.” Rachel nods. “Anything else?”

“One thing.” Declan waits until he has her full attention. “Did you schedule me for a dinner meeting with Lukas Gallo last night?”

Rachel blinks twice and then her hand flies to her mouth. “Oh my God! I didn’t tell you!” She sucks her bottom lip into her mouth with a hissing noise. “He called yesterday while you were at lunch! I was going to tell you, but you had that conference call, and then you rushed out like your office was on fire. I’m sorry!”

“So he did have an appointment?”

“Yeah. That’s what I just said.” Rachel tilts her head to the side. “Was that wrong? You didn’t have anything on your schedule, and I thought….”

“It’s fine.” Declan flashes a smile at her and squeezes her shoulder as he slides off the desk. “I was caught up with this personal business last night and he surprised me, that’s all. I’ll call him to reschedule.”

“Okeie-dokie.”

Tadd laughs as he takes Declan’s hand. “Thanks, Rachel.”

“Bye, Mr. Leventis.” She wiggles her fingers in a tiny wave as they walk out the door.

As soon as the door shuts behind them, Declan turns to Tadd, a mischievous grin on his face. “Sometimes I think Rachel likes you better than me.”

“What can I say.” Tadd grins back at Declan. “I’m irresistible.”

“Good thing you’re mine, then.” They get into the elevator, and Declan pushes Tadd against the wall and pins him there with his slightly larger frame. He slides his hands up Tadd’s sides to cup his face and leans in to kiss him deeply. As the elevator goes down from the top floor, people start to get on but stop short when they see Declan and Tadd inside and universally decide to take the next car. Declan ignores them, instead concentrating on kissing Tadd, his tongue sliding between Tadd’s lips as he presses their bodies together.

When the elevator is close to the bottom, Declan pulls his keys from his pocket and uses one of them to override the elevator controls. Once it’s locked down, he yanks Tadd’s shirt from his pants so he can slide his hands under it.

“Careful,” Tadd murmurs, pulling back from the kiss just enough to talk. “Don’t pop the buttons.”

“I like popped buttons. They’re a good look on you.”

“You think everything’s a good look on me.” Tadd puts his hands on Declan’s chest and pushes firmly, making Declan take a step back. “We can’t, though.”

“Why not?”

“We’re in the elevator at your office building! While investigating a murder!”

“So I’ll be fast.” Declan leans in as close as he can with Tadd’s hands in the way and smirks. “I’m good at fast.”

“Oh, well, that’s just what I want.” Tadd rolls his eyes. “A quickie in the elevator. You’re almost as classy as Eros.”

Declan winces as he straightens. “Ouch. That hurts.”

“Truth often does.” Tadd pats him on the chest as he leans up and kisses him softly. “I still love you, though, classy or not.”

“Love you too.” Declan’s scowl transforms into a grin, and he kisses Tadd deeply before pulling back and turning the key to return the elevator to the ground floor. He kisses Tadd again as he tucks Tadd’s shirt back into his pants, and when the elevator doors slide open, they step out, their hands entwined once more.

——–

Stayed tuned for more posts about my novel as well as a giveaway!

Release Party: “The Trust” – Ebook Giveaway

June 18, 2012

We hope you’ve enjoyed the posts and excerpts throughout the day here on the Dreamspinner Press blog!  And, of course, we hope you enjoy reading more about Jake and Trace in “The Trust.”  Don’t forget to leave a comment here to be entered to win a free ebook copy in the format of your choice!  We’ll be picking a winner and announcing it tomorrow, June 19th, so stay tuned. – Shira and Venona

Release Party: “The Trust” – Artificial Romance?

June 18, 2012

Artificial intelligence (AI) is the subject of three of my favorite sci fi movies of all time:  “2001, A Space Odyssey,” “Blade Runner” and “The Terminator.”  All three movies involve self-aware computer “beings.”  Wherever you look, whether it’s in the toy store, on line communities, or science, AI is the big new thing.  My daughter just got a new iPhone that talks back to her (Siri).  So when my co-author, Venona Keyes, suggested a gay spy thriller featuring a microchip that is like a virtual hero, I said, “Way cool!”

The Trust” is the story of Jake Anders, who was recruited into a CIA-backed agency, The Michelson Trust, by Trace Michelson, the grandson of the agency’s creator and the agency’s current director.  The flesh and blood Trace trains Jake and ultimately asks Jake to participate in “Project Resurrection.”  Jake receives one of two prototype Sim chips, the “Trace Sim,” created using the life experiences and personality of Trace himself.  But when Trace is assassinated, all that remains of Trace is embodied in the microchip Jake now shares his mind with.   Or so it seems, until the Sim chip becomes Jake’s reality.

So what happens when you fall in love with the artificial recreation of a man?  And what happens when that artificial man becomes real?  For Jake, he begins to doubt that Trace is really dead, and he goes on a dangerous journey across continents to uncover the truth behind the legacy of Trace Michelson and, perhaps find Trace himself.  Along the way, Jake discovers that the Trace Sim is capable of far more than anyone ever realized.

Is there a happily ever after for Jake?  Yes.  Definitely.  It’s a romance!  How do we get there?  That’s the fun part.  You’ll have to read the book to find out! Interested?  Enter to win an ebook copy by commenting here.  Good luck! -Shira

Release Party: “The Trust” – Read an Excerpt (PG-13 Excerpt)

June 18, 2012

Hey y’all!  Here’s the blurb and an excerpt from my third release from Dreamspinner Press, “The Trust” which I co-authored with the lovely Venona Keyes.  It’s a sci fi romance/suspense thriller about a secret agent who races against time to learn the truth about the technology implanted in his body and the man he fell in love with ten years before. Not sure what that’s all about?  Think “gay James Bond with lots of cool gadgets.”  Oh, and a sweet HEA, of course!  Enjoy, and don’t forget to comment to be entered to win an ebook copy! -Shira

Blurb:   Eight years ago, Jake Anders was a college kid from the wrong side of the tracks. Then Trace Michelson recruited him into The Trust, a CIA-backed agency whose “executives” eliminate rogue biotechnology operations. Trace was everything Jake ever wanted in a man: powerful, brilliant, and gorgeous. But Jake never admitted his attraction to his mentor, and Trace always kept Jake at arm’s length.

Now Trace is dead and Jake is one of The Trust’s best operatives, highly skilled and loyal to the organization. But the secret agent has his own secret: six years ago, before he was assassinated, Trace designed a Sim chip containing his memories and experiences—and now that chip is part of Jake. It’s just data, designed to augment Jake’s knowledge, but when Sim becomes reality, Jake wonders if Trace is still alive or if Jake really is going crazy like everyone claims. He doesn’t know if he can trust himself, let alone anyone else.

To learn the truth about Trace and the chip, Jake embarks on a dangerous mission—except he’s not the only one looking for the information. Some of the answers are locked in his head, and unless he finds the key, he’ll be killed for the technology that’s become a part of him.

Now, more than ever, Jake wishes Trace were here to guide him. Too bad he’s dead… right?

*****************

Pre-publication Excerpt, final version may change!

Chapter One: The Hitman is Hit

Shit. Shit, shit, shit!

Blood gushed from his leg, and for just an instant, he watched it with growing anger. Watched it, that was, until the adrenaline kick-started his brain and he realized he would die if he kept bleeding like this.

Gotta stop the bleeding, he thought with desperation.

He dragged himself to the women’s bathroom, pushed hard on the door, and stumbled in. Between the sound of the door slamming against the wall and the sight of all the blood, the startled women inside screamed and ran out.

Blood coated everything he touched. He leaned against a stall door, and it swung open under his weight. One hand applying pressure to the gunshot wound, he elbowed the toilet-paper holder. He fell to the floor and the roll sprang free. He placed the cheap one-ply paper over the wound and pressed down hard—it only took a minute before the roll was a deep crimson.

He tapped the microphone on his chest and shouted, “Agent down! I need an extraction, now!”

“Who’s down?” came the calm, even voice in his earpiece.

“I am. Sandoval fucking ambushed me. Caught me in the leg. Hit an artery.”

“Anders, where are you?”

“I—” He broke off, looking up to see a slender man leaning casually against the stall door, grinning at him. The Silver Fox, Jason Sandoval. Sandoval wasn’t Jake’s target, but it seemed as though Jake was his. Jake had always detested Sandoval. Now he knew why.

“So… there you are. Thanks for leaving me a trail of bloody breadcrumbs to follow.”

“Agent Anders, where are you?” the voice in his ear persisted. He ignored it.

“Looks like ya got a bleeder there, Anders.”

They had never been friends, but they had been colleagues. Now, Jake wanted nothing more than to blow the smirk off the other man’s face.

Fucking traitor.

“I’ve had worse,” Jake lied. If Sandoval wanted him dead, he’d probably only have to wait a few minutes for him to bleed out. But that wasn’t Sandoval’s style—he had never been a patient man, and Jake knew it.

“Not sure that’s true, but I admire your bravado.”

Again, the voice in his ear. “Agent Anders, who’s there with you?”

“What do you want, Sandoval?” Jake asked. He’d pretty much always suspected Jason Sandoval was insane. Now he was sure of it.

Who the hell is he working for? Foreign government? Private concern?

They had come here as a team, their mission to intercept a scientist who was in town for a conference. But things had gone horribly wrong. It had been a setup, the entire scenario. Three of their own agents had turned their guns against him and his backup team. But why?

Fucking traitors. All of them.

“Well, I could watch you bleed to death. Or I suppose I could just end it for you now. Seems a shame, though. You really were a first-class ops guy, Jake. Now your life is fading away, and I get to witness it.”

Jake slowly reached inside his pants.

“Now, now, Jake,” drawled Sandoval, “no cheatin’. Take that hand out of your pocket.”

“I’m trying to stem the bleeding at the pressure point.”

“Like hell.”

Jake withdrew his hand and flicked his wrist faster than the other man could follow, impaling him in the right eye with a knife. Sandoval staggered backward and out of the stall without uttering a word. Jake reached for his gun, but it was missing. When had he lost it? He needed to finish Sandoval off before he was the one lying on the floor with his brains blown out.

He heard the distinctive muffled “pflnk” of a silencer. With the last scrap of his energy, Jake pushed the stall door open in time to see Sandoval fall backward, hitting the tile wall and sliding onto the floor. He was dead.

“Jake,” came a familiar baritone voice. “Reduce your heart rate, just as I taught you. It will slow the bleeding.”

Jake closed his eyes, and in spite of the ice that flowed through his veins and the drowsiness that threatened to pull him under, he forced himself to meditate. He envisioned the frantic beating of his heart slowing down, imagined the damaged artery closing, the blood clotting, and the wound beginning to heal. The thundering rush of blood in his ears began to ebb, and the dizziness subsided. He slowed his breathing, and his heart steadied.

“Good work, Jake,” he heard the soothing voice say. “It isn’t your time to be with me. Not yet.”

“Agent Anders! Agent Anders!” He wanted to swat the microphone away, but he didn’t have the strength.

He blinked, trying to focus his uncooperative eyes on the figure that stood before him. “Trace?” he whispered as he passed out.

“Fucking traitor Sandoval,” Ryan Roberts growled from nearby.

“If Jake hadn’t killed him, I’d’ve gladly done it myself.” John Carson—Jake recognized the voice.

“He’s a damn lucky bastard.” Ryan’s voice again.

“Un-fucking-believable. Got that tourniquet on and still had the presence of mind to write the time on his leg,” added Carson.

“I gotta hand it to ’im—got Sandoval once in the eye, then turned around and shot ’im to make sure he was dead—all while he’s fuckin’ bleeding to death.”

“Gentleman, Agent Anders needs to rest.” A woman’s voice this time: soothing, no-nonsense, and familiar.

“Sorry, Dr. Carroll.” Carson sounded embarrassed, but Jake could hear the note of concern in his gruff voice. “We just wanted to be here when Jake wakes up.”

“He will regain consciousness when his body’s ready. He’s lost a lot of blood, and he’s been in surgery.”

“We’ll wait,” Ryan replied. Jake almost smiled to hear the stubbornness in Ryan’s voice.

“Agent Roberts, Agent Carson, the director has called a meeting, and you both need to be in attendance.” Stephanie Carroll’s voice was now commanding.

Jake felt a strong hand squeeze his shoulder. “You better get your lazy ass outta here, Anders, or I’m gonna have to beat the crap outta ya.” The sounds of chairs scraping the floor and fading footsteps followed Ryan’s words.

“It’s all right, Agent Anders. They’re gone,” Jake heard a few minutes later.

The dim light of the room was too bright. Jake squinted, blinked several times, and slowly opened his eyes. He had a splitting headache.

“Welcome back to the world of the living, Jake.”

Jake attempted to smile back at the gentle-voiced doctor, but it came out more like a grimace.

“Are you in pain?”

“My head feels like it’s gonna explode.”

“I’ll give you something.”

Jake watched as the tiny woman took a syringe and injected it into the IV in his arm. He felt warmth radiate from the site of the line as his muscles relaxed and the pounding in his head began to lessen.

“Thanks. I think I feel less ‘vincible’ now,” he said, managing a lopsided grin.

She smiled at him. “Jake, I really can’t tell you how impressed I am with the skills you exhibited under the extreme pressure of the situation.”

“I had help.”

“Oh?”

“The Trace Sim. He told me to slow down my breathing and meditate. I imagined my artery knitting itself back together.”

“Impressive. I didn’t think the simulation microchips were so detailed in their programming.”

Jake shrugged. “Neither did I. It’s like he was right there in front of me.”

“When our bodies are under acute stress, we often imagine things,” she replied in a kind but patronizing tone.

Jake guessed that she’d heard the recording of his call for help and had wondered why he’d spoken Trace Michelson’s name.

“He seemed so real. Not like the usual Sim.”

Her answer was what he’d expected and hoped for: reassuring and kind. “The brain is an amazing organ. In times of severe stress, it can be a powerful tool to ensure survival.”

The tension in his shoulders abated with her words.

She’s right. It was probably a combination of the Sim and my own imagination. Either way, it worked, right?

She offered him a sympathetic smile. “You need to rest.” She checked the IV and made a notation on the chart at the foot of his bed.

She turned to leave, then paused as if considering something. “You know, Jake,” she said with a contemplative hand to her chin, “applying a tourniquet made from the toilet roll spindle and your torn shirt was quite remarkable, given the extent of your injury. But you didn’t really need it—the artery had already begun to heal on its own. It appears Dr. Michelson’s techniques are more effective than we originally thought. Quite fascinating.”

“Tourniquet?” It was the second time someone had mentioned it since he’d regained consciousness. But he didn’t remember a tourniquet, let alone applying one to himself in the heat of the moment.

“The one you placed on your leg before you lost consciousness.”

“I don’t remember that. The last thing I remember is Trace.”

“Writing the time you placed the tourniquet on your leg required true presence of mind, Jake,” she continued, undaunted. “We were able to quickly ascertain how long the circulation had been compromised.”

“I don’t remember that either.” He frowned.

She gave him another reassuring smile. “You really must get some rest now. I’ll be back to check on you later. Would you like something to drink?”

“Something more than ice chips?” he asked with a hopeful expression.

“I’ll see that you get some water.”

“Thanks.” He closed his eyes. He heard her walk out of the room and close the door behind her.

Tourniquet? Writing the time on my leg? And who killed Sandoval? I couldn’t have shot him; I didn’t have my gun….

It made no sense. An image of the man with dark hair and slate-blue eyes filled Jake’s mind. He’d seen that face many times while training with his Sim. He had known the real man himself years before—Trace Michelson had recruited Jake into the Trust. But for years, it had been only a virtual Trace who had inhabited his mind, training him, sharing his knowledge with his host as all Sims did.

This was different. He was so… real.

He forced his eyes open again and stared up at the ceiling. The gray acoustic tiles provided him with no answers.

“Idiot,” he muttered as he fought the overwhelming urge to sleep. “Of course he wasn’t there. He’s been dead for nearly five years.”

Release party: “The Trust”

June 18, 2012

Welcome to release day for “The Trust,” by Dreamspinner Press authors Shira Anthony and Venona Keyes.  Please join us today for excerpts and an ebook giveaway contest, and read a little about the inspiration for this gay spy thriller/romance.

Throughout the day, Shira and Venona will be talking about their book and posting excerpts.  Enter to win a free ebook copy (format of your choice) by commenting here or on Shira’s website, www.shiraanthony.com A winner will be drawn at midnight on June 18th.

DSP Party: Kaden’s Colors–Thank you and goodnight! (Anti-bullying resources)

June 6, 2012

This is it. Thank you to everyone who came to hang out with me today. I hope that those of you who read the book will enjoy it.

I leave you with links to organizations that fight bullying. These links are also included at the back of the book.

GLSEN: Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network

http://www.glsen.org

The Trevor Project: Crisis and Suicide Prevention for LGBTQ Youth

http://www.thetrevorproject.org

Stonewall at school (UK)

http://www.stonewall.org.uk/at_school/

Finally, here’s the blurb again.

The first alien immigrants arrived on Earth long before Henry Mekes was born. Now they’re policed by the government, forbidden from attending school, and assigned menial jobs to prevent them from becoming drains on human society. Twenty-two-year-old Kaden, for example, was assigned the job of sex worker.
 
When eighteen-year-old Henry and his friend Ellil meet Kaden in a grotty backroom to avail themselves of his services, alien rights are the furthest thing from their minds. It’s not until afterward, when Henry is trying to remind himself aliens can’t get enough of sex, that he questions his actions and the rules of the world he lives in.
 
Something about Kaden compels Henry to return again and again—but only as a friend. Soon he and his classmates hatch a plan to free Kaden, but even if they succeed, the world is still full of prejudice against aliens—and those who love them.

Kaden’s Colors info:

$4.99, 168 pages, e-book.
Link: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=2970

Be sure to drop by the DSP Goodreads group on Saturday afternoon when I’m hosting a Meet the Author chat. Hope to see you there!

DSP Party Kaden’s Colors–Stories of changing prejudices into positives

June 6, 2012

One of most important themes in Kaden’s Colors is that people can change and let their prejudices go. We see this happen with two generations of characters. This is something that reflects my own life. When I came out, someone very close to me couldn’t handle it. Over the years she has gradually opened up bit by bit until now, and she’s an advocate of gay rights. It was a beautiful moment for me when she actually transcended me by connecting her new acceptance of GLBT people to her faith. “God made someone for everyone to love,” she said, and she asked me to point out gay couples to her so she could see God at work. It was so simple and perfect. I was incredibly moved by this small, huge, statement.

Do you have stories like this to share? I’d love to hear them. Some days the news is filled with hate and discrimination. It’s important to share stories of change. One person at a time and eventually equality will happen!

Kaden’s Colors info:

$4.99, 168 pages, e-book.
Link: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=2970

DSP Party: Kaden’s Colors–Excerpt and second giveaway

June 6, 2012

Same rules as before. Comment to enter. Winner will be notified via e-mail Thursday night. Please include your email address in your comment.

Excerpt:

Madsen took the cash and pulled the curtain back. Henry tensed as Madsen grabbed his arm again. “Thought you were better than this.”

“You said I had to get over him. Maybe using him is the best way.”

Madsen shoved Henry inside, as if Henry disgusted him. The curtain dropped shut. Kaden lay in his usual position, strapped to the narrow table on his stomach. Henry went to his head first, and touched Kaden’s back. Kaden opened his eyes. Seeing Henry, he looked betrayed, but maybe that was Henry’s imagination.

“Kaden? It’s Henry.” The music coming from the arcade area was loud enough to drown them out, but he whispered anyway. “I… I’m sorry I haven’t been here for a few days. I didn’t, um, I didn’t forget about you.”

Kaden blinked. His mouth parted and his tongue came out a little.

“I know. You can’t talk. Just listen. We’re going to get you out. Right now. Blink twice if you want to go with me.”

He waited. Kaden didn’t move a muscle.

“It’s, um, it’s a good place that we’re taking you to. It’s not like this. And it’ll be really…. I think you’ll like it. There’s lots of grass. Not that you’ll be living on the grass. You’ll have a bed. A real one. Unless you want to live on the grass. Is that how you…?” He couldn’t stop babbling. A line of drool fell from Kaden’s mouth. Unthinking, Henry wiped it off with his thumb. Kaden’s lips pursed, as if he would suck it in, but Henry jerked it away. “They have a cow.” He sounded as desperate as he felt. “Please, Kaden. You can’t stay here. I don’t want to kidnap you, but if you don’t agree right now to go with me, I’m going to. You shouldn’t be living like this. Strapped to a table and fucked every night? Please.”

Kaden blinked. Henry held his breath. Kaden blinked again.

“Thank you, Jodhpur,” Henry said, invoking his mother’s favorite deity. He set about releasing Kaden’s bonds, starting with Kaden’s wrists. From his bag, he got the T-shirt and pushed it into Kaden’s hands. “Put this on while I undo your legs.”

He had more trouble with the straps around Kaden’s ankles. Once Kaden’s legs were free, Henry started to put Ellil’s sweatpants on him, but Kaden struggled a little. Henry looked up and saw that he was still shirtless. Kaden pointed at the counter behind him. “What? What do you need?”

Kaden pointed again. Finally, Henry saw the ointment. “This?” Kaden nodded. He flopped back on his stomach and parted his legs, making his request obvious.

“Right,” Henry said. “Okay.” He uncapped the ointment and squirted some onto his fingers. With his other hand, he pushed Kaden’s cheeks apart. His hole looked irritated. Henry flinched right along with Kaden when he touched the cool ointment to it.

“Sorry. Guess I should have warmed it up for you first, huh?”

Kaden arched his bottom up a little higher. Henry extended two fingers, traced them over the hole. Took a deep breath. Then, for the first time in his life, he pushed a part of himself into an alien’s—into anyone’s—ass. Kaden quivered and rocked against him. Henry looked away to get himself under control as Kaden’s body squeezed his fingers. Henry spread the ointment around inside him. He hadn’t expected Kaden to feel so hot.

“Everything all right?”

Henry jerked around to see Madsen stick his head through the curtain.

“Yeah.” He stopped and started talking again in a lower pitch. “Uh. Fine.”

“You don’t have to foreplay him, you know. He’s ready. Just get your dick out and go.”

“I’m a gentleman,” Henry said, and hoped that his expression conveyed indignation and not fear.

“Hmm,” Madsen said, but he disappeared.

Henry looked at Kaden. The straps were off. Madsen would have seen…. But no, Kaden had lain flat on their ends with his hands tucked under himself so it looked like he was bound.

“Clever,” Henry said. He started to pull his fingers out, but Kaden followed him up. Henry’s eyes fell on the hard cock.

“Oh. Right.” Okay. Another first. He grabbed it, too tight, and whispered an apology when Kaden winced. It was heavy—heavier than his—and the skin felt fragile from all the nights it had been kept hard and trapped between Kaden’s groin and the table. “Look, do you want me to just…?” But Kaden answered for him, thrusting into Henry’s fist and back onto his fingers, so Henry held still and let Kaden take what he needed. When Kaden finished, he collapsed into the mess. Henry pulled his hand out of the way just in time and wished he was strong enough to catch Kaden before he fell into it like Madsen had. He stared at his hand before raising it to his lips and taking a careful lick. Kaden watched him through drowsy eyes.

It didn’t taste too bad. Not very different from Henry’s actually, though he would never ever admit that to anyone since that would mean he’d have to confess that he’d tasted his own. Even though he was pretty sure everyone had at one time or another, it wasn’t something you confessed. His fingers were still in Kaden’s ass, so he felt the aftershocks of the orgasm. He eased them out. After wiping his hand on his pants, he applied hand sanitizer from the counter on them and grabbed the shirt off the floor.

“Now will you get dressed?” Henry held it out, trying to convey the need to rush without alarming Kaden.

Kaden reached for the shirt. Henry helped him get his arms through the holes. The sweatpants were easier. Kaden rolled onto his back and Henry slid them up his legs. Kaden stood, leaning on Henry for support, which was awkward for both them because Kaden was at least a head taller if not more, but Henry grabbed the waistband and hiked the pants up. The moccasins were the last thing. They almost lost their balance together. It would have been easier sitting down, but there was no place to sit aside from the table, and no way was Henry telling Kaden to get back on that.

“Okay,” Henry said when the moccasins were on. “We wait for the signal, and then we get out of here.”

Lurching free from Henry’s arm, Kaden stumbled toward the room where he slept. Henry grabbed his elbow. “No. Kaden. You can’t go to sleep. You have to stay awake. Be ready to move.” He bounced up and down to demonstrate being energetic. Kaden leaned toward the room, his eyes wide and pleading.

“Do you need something from in there?”

Kaden nodded.

“What? I’ll get it.”

Kaden held his hands up like a book and mimed reading it.

“Oh. Okay.” Henry leaned Kaden against the counter. “Don’t move. Don’t sit.”

The door was locked. “Key?”

Kaden pointed at the curtain.

“Madsen. Right.” Oh no. No. They hadn’t come this far to ruin the rescue because Kaden had a weird attachment to a book. “Could we maybe get you a new book?”

Kaden blinked.

Henry pushed on the door, as if it would do any good. Kaden stayed where Henry had put him. “I’m starting to think you don’t really want to be rescued.” Henry rubbed his shoulder. He’d have a bruise. God, a stupid book. It had better be the best book ever.

Kaden flushed and looked down. At least he was embarrassed about it. Good. He deserved to be, interrupting his own rescue like this. But… Henry didn’t want Kaden to look so forlorn.
Henry sighed. “Fine.” He pulled his wallet out, found his school ID, and got to work jimmying the lock. He had it open in a second. He didn’t pause to look around the room, just found the book on the pillow and got out. The Trumpet of the Swan. He’d never heard of it.

A woman’s high-pitched scream broke through the noise of the arcade. Henry raced over to Kaden, who had slapped his hands over his ears.

“That’s the signal. Move!”

Kaden’s Colors info:

$4.99, 168 pages, e-book.
Link: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=2970

ETA: Winner has been chosen via Random.org. Congrats to Chrissy! Thank you to everyone who commented. :)