April 24, 2017
Hi! I’m Andria Large. My new release, From War To Forever, is my first traditionally published book. I’ve been self-publishing since 2013. I write both MM and MF Contemporary Romance.
Being an author wasn’t in my plans. At all. When I was 13 years old, I was a huge Backstreet Boys fanatic and while trolling the internet one day, looking at BSB fan websites, I happened upon a fan fiction site. Completely intrigued, I started reading these stories that other people had written about the boys. The gears in my head started turning, so I found an empty notebook and the words began pouring out. Story after never-ending story filled who knows how many notebooks. The stories revolved around The Backstreet Boys (mostly Brian and Nick) and myself as the main characters.
I eventually told a couple of my closest friends at the time and let them read my stories. They loved them and began writing their own stories. We would all trade notebooks in school and read each other’s BSB fan fiction. It was a fun little secret between best friends.
When I got my first real boyfriend at the age of 16, it took me some time, but I told him about my stories and he asked to read some and I let him. Being young and insecure, he became jealous of my love for The Backstreet Boys. It made me regret letting him read my stuff. I mean, seriously, who gets jealous of a story about someone your girlfriend will most likely never in a million years meet in real life? Silly boy.
I filled up a large Xerox box with over a dozen notebooks, every page completely covered. By then, I got an old laptop and started writing on there instead. I would spend hours in my room just writing. At that time, I never finished a story. Whenever I got tired of one, or had a new idea, I would just start over on a fresh page. I was also now making up my own characters, ones that had nothing to do with BSB. And I stopped putting myself in the stories I was writing. My creativity and storytelling was expanding.
Once I graduated high school, the writing sort of dwindled away. I had started community college taking liberal arts classes because I didn’t know what I wanted to do. Nothing really appealed to me as something that I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I didn’t finish my first semester, failing out because I stopped going to classes. I got a job instead, working in a grocery store. I became too preoccupied with friends and work to write.
I had been working at the grocery store for almost two years when I walked in one day and there was a new guy working in loss prevention. All the younger girls that I worked with were talking up a storm about this guy because he was young and cute. I was 19 and single at the time, so I was like, “Oooh, where?!”
I met him soon enough since I was a cashier and he kept coming through my line when on his break. We started talking and I found out that he was only working in our store for a week while one of our regular guys was on vacation. He was from New Jersey (I lived in Philadelphia) and he was 24 years old. On his last night working in my store, he asked me out on a date. We’ve been together ever since. Why is this relevant you ask? Because my husband has been my biggest supporter and a big part of how I got to where I am today.
My inspiration to write again came during season nine of American Idol (don’t judge me), the one where Lee DeWyze won. I fell in love with Lee’s voice and humble demeanor. My mind started wandering and a story started to form. I couldn’t stop thinking about it and knew that I had to get it out. So, I went to my computer and started writing. It was a sweet love story about a male singer and a female ballroom dancer who had no idea who he was. I never did finish the story and I’m actually not even sure what happened to the file, but what did happen was that I started writing again. New plots and characters were going crazy in my brain. My husband knew about my writing and even encouraged it. It was an escape for me, a place for me to go and unwind.
A friend of mine then introduced me to the paranormal romance genre. There was this series that he was reading and knew I would like it, so he basically demanded that I read it. Well, I soon got sucked right in. I was reading 2-3 books a week. When I wasn’t reading, I was writing my own stories. My mom told me about this trilogy that everyone was beginning to talk about called Fifty Shades of Grey. It sounded interesting even though it was nothing like what I usually read. So I read it, and enjoyed it, and it got my imagination working double-time.
That was when Henry was born. Henry was the first story I ever finished and planned on turning into a series with his brothers. Around this time, another friend of mine was starting a book blog and wanted to read unpublished books that she could review. No one but my husband knew that I was writing. I asked him what he thought about it, if I should send her my story. His response was, “What do you have to lose? The worst that can happen is that she doesn’t like it.” Well, shit. Okay then. I sent my friend my book and waited anxiously while she read it. I honestly didn’t think it was any good, so when she came back to me and said that she LOVED it, I was shocked. She told me about how you can self-publish on Amazon. I had no idea this even existed. So being overly excited and curious about what other people would think, I put the book up on Amazon–UNEDITED! I know. I cringe when I think back on it. But remember, I knew nothing about publishing a book. I knew nothing about the authoring world or what it entailed. All I knew was that someone liked my story.
Surprisingly, the reviews started coming in. The ones that weren’t tearing the book apart for editing were actually really freaking good. People were loving the story and wanted more. I did find an editor, or I should say, she found me. She had read Henry and contacted me through Facebook, basically saying I enjoyed your book, but girl, you need help, and offered her editing services. Four years, fifteen edited books, and four co-authored books later, she’s still my editor, best friend and go-to person when I need to hash out ideas.
I delved into the gay genre with the fourth book of my first series. Christian was the youngest of his brothers and had fallen in love with his life long friend, Shea. Some readers shied away from reading Christian because the first three of the series were straight and they didn’t read gay romance. But then, there were the other half of readers who just had to know Christian’s story and even though they never read anything in the gay genre before, they read Christian. I can’t tell you how many times readers have told me that I popped their MM cherry. I’ve been told that they never would have read MM if it weren’t for Christian. I didn’t know of any other authors at the time who were mixing or crossing over genres, but I didn’t care, I was doing what my characters wanted me to do; plus I’ve never been one to follow rules all that well.
After Christian, I started a new MF series called Renegade. While in the midst of writing it, two of the secondary characters started yelling at me, demanding I write their story. An MM story. The kind of story that isn’t about sexual preference, but more about love and the need for that other person in your life. The War Trilogy is what evolved from those two characters shouting at me and readers fell head over heels in love with Dennis and Tucker.
For Dreamspinner to pick this series up was an incredible achievement for me. I never thought that I would ever be an author, let alone a traditionally published one. And working with the editors has been an amazing learning experience for me that I am truly grateful for. The War Trilogy is now one book and has been renamed From War To Forever. There have been some changes made to the story, but for anyone who read it the first time around, you will still recognize it.
The gay genre has definitely sucked me in and I find that I have a hard time writing anything but that right now. So maybe this is where I’m supposed to be? Time will tell. I’m just glad I got here. Tell me, who was the author who popped your MM cherry?
Check out From War to Forever today!
The love of my life is dead. Is there a reason to live anymore?
I’m a veteran Marine. Terrorists took not only my foot, but also my wife. Recurrent nightmares, a dead-end job, and a painful limp are all I have left. My best friend, Tucker, and my sister, Lizette, keep me afloat. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Tucker… literally. And then, out of nowhere, there are these feelings. The kind I haven’t felt in years. The kind I’m not sure I can handle, or even want to. But they’ve started wrapping around my broken heart, trying to mend it. Only they are not for a woman, but for the man suddenly sharing my bed. I’m not so sure I’m ready to give love another go.
The war took my hearing, but I’m alive. Many of my friends are not. I am building a life with my best friend, Dennis. We have become practically inseparable. And now, we are more than friends. I’ve never had feelings like these for a man. My parents, my brother, my buddy, Duke—will they understand how I feel about Dennis? Can I risk losing my family?
About Andria Large:
Andria Large is a traditionally published and self-published contemporary romance author. She doesn’t always follow the rules, so you will find both M/F and M/M books mixed into some of her series. She considers herself open and friendly, so feel free to send her a message if you have a question or just want to chat.
April 21, 2017
Writing Gabriel has been something of a departure for me in several ways. It’s my first romantic suspense, my first story that didn’t include elements of spanking/domestic discipline, and the first M/M romance I’ve ever written. Of those three things, making the transition from writing M/F to writing M/M was by far the easiest. I’ve been reading M/M for years. In fact, these days I probably read more M/M books than I do M/F. I’ve been asked before, more than once, why I read – and now write – M/M romance. Since this week is National Book Week and the #lovereading campaign is going on, I decided this was the perfect time to talk about why I love reading this genre.
I’ll be honest, at first, when people started asking me, their questions confused me. I’ve never understood why the gender and/or sexuality of characters in the story should be that big a deal. A good story is a good story. Yes, good stories are often character-driven, but frankly to me, that has more to do with who the character is as a person than what I consider secondary details like hair color, eye color, gender, and sexuality. It just doesn’t matter to me. Good characters and good stories matter to me regardless of the body that particular character happens to inhabit.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m in no way trying to belittle or dismiss the legitimate struggles that come with having a non-heteronormative gender or sexuality. To be perfectly blunt, I’m disabled, demisexual, and kinky. I know just a little bit about what it means to live outside of the mainstream myself. I’ve come to suspect that’s probably why I can move pretty easily between writing M/F and M/M books. Given my own make-up, it’s the emotional component that matters to me most of all.
As such, I think I will probably always go back and forth between writing M/F and M/M books, just as I do as a reader. Now that I’ve stepped over into the M/M genre, I have no intention of going back, at least not permanently. I’ll go where the stories lead me, wherever that may be. Gabriel took me all sorts of new places, and I’m sure the next one will as well. That’s a big part of what makes being a writer fun, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Check out Gabriel today!
Gabriel Ingram is running from his past. It’s common knowledge at the college where he teaches that he’s a former CIA technical analyst, but no one knows the things he really did—or about the rage and bloodlust that are his constant companions. He’s holding on to his normal life with both hands, but he knows someday he’ll lose his grip.
Lucas Craig is a social worker studying to become a family therapist. For reasons Lucas can’t understand, the normally reclusive Professor Ingram takes an interest in him, and Lucas secretly hopes their friendship might become more.
Then Eric, Lucas’s roommate, disappears. Lucas is frantic. The police are no help. With nowhere else to turn, Lucas begs Gabriel for his expertise.
What starts as a simple errand to help a friend becomes a journey into a violent world of gangs and human trafficking—one that will bringGabriel face-to-face with the forces intent on stealing his soul. But Lucas might be the one who can save him—if Gabriel can get them out alive.
About the Author:
RK Staunton rebelled against having a Christmas birthday in favor of making an unexpected debut in early fall, and she’s been doing the unexpected ever since. This tendency has resulted in many adventures, including a ten-year stint as a guide in that strange urban jungle called middle school. While entertaining, that expedition ultimately proved too harrowing. After finally making her escape, she turned to a quieter life masquerading as a crazy cat lady living in a small town in the southeastern US.
RK has lived with a menagerie of characters inside her head for as long as she can remember. In a desperate bid to preserve her sanity, she has begun to transcribe the tales they tell her. This endeavor has proven to be fun, occasionally profitable, and cheaper than therapy. It has also fueled raging addictions to caffeine and chocolate on top of her lifelong addiction to books, but everyone is entitled to a vice or three, right?
Find her Online:
Website – http://www.rkstaunton.com/
Blog – http://www.rkstaunton.com/blog/
Newsletter – http://www.rkstaunton.com/home/newsletter/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/rkstaunton/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/rk_staunton
April 18, 2017
Hey y’all! I’m BA Tortuga, resident redneck and lover of all things cowboy.
Music is my deal. It’s funny, I’ve made my living as a visual artist, as a writer, but music is my true love.
Now, I admit, unashamedly, that country music is my soul. It’s not all I listen to, but it’s the one genre where I know all the words, where I know the melodies. Hell, I know why Texas twin fiddles are a thing, who wrote what song, and I challenge you to find a song from 1920 on that I don’t know.
It’s not the only genre on my iTunes/Amazon music player/Pandora player/Sirius player. It’s just the favorite.
For instance, I love baroque music. Vivaldi is my all-time favorite composer, followed closely by Pachebel. Industrial music? Uhn. It’s made to fuck to. (Can I say fuck on this blog? O.o)
What about what my wife calls ‘angry girl music’? Sarah McLachlan, Jewel, Meredith Brooks, the Indigo Girls. OMG, Tori Amos. I got to interview her once when I was working for a magazine. She told me, “You don’t fuck to a metronome.”
I damn near died. Seriously.
Then there’s my beloved old school doo-wop, the psychedelics of the late 60s. Folk music. 80s pop. Weird Al – I adore Weird Al.
I love it all.
Why am I blathering about this now?
The Seashores of Old Mexico is inspired loosely by the Willie Nelson song of the same name, and when I sat to tell y’all all about it? This is what popped out.
Much love, y’all.
Check out Seashores of Old Mexico today!
After a bar fight gone horribly wrong, Clint is on the run, tired, hungry, and desperate to get out of Texas and across the border as fast as he can. But more than anything, he needs a place to relax and feel safe—at least for a little while. Searching for work, he stumbles into a cantina on the beach and runs into its owner. Jack might be a little older and a little worldlier, but the two men have enough in common to form a fast friendship that soon spills over into the bedroom.
But Clint isn’t the only who’s done things he isn’t proud of, things he’d rather keep hidden. Both of them have to be ready to drop everything and run if the past gets too close, and that’s no foundation for a relationship—especially since the truth always comes out eventually.
About BA Tortuga:
Texan to the bone and an unrepentant Daddy’s Girl, BA Tortuga spends her days with her basset hounds and her beloved wife, texting her sisters, and eating Mexican food. When she’s not doing that, she’s writing. She spends her days off watching rodeo, knitting and surfing Pinterest in the name of research. BA’s personal saviors include her wife, Julia Talbot, her best friend, Sean Michael, and coffee. Lots of coffee. Really good coffee.
Having written everything from fist-fighting rednecks to hard-core cowboys to werewolves, BA does her damnedest to tell the stories of her heart, which was raised in Northeast Texas, but has heard the call of the high desert and lives in the Sandias. With books ranging from hard-hitting GLBT romance, to fiery menages, to the most traditional of love stories, BA refuses to be pigeon-holed by anyone but the voices in her head. Find her on the web at www.batortuga.com
April 15, 2017
Hi everyone! I’m Shira Anthony, celebrating the release of my 20th book from Dreamspinner Press, Forgotten Paradise! If you’re reading this post, you are in for a double dose of giveaway. For you only, I’ve got a special giveaway: reader’s choice of one of my 20 Dreamspinner Press backtitles (anything but my brand new book). And actually, that’s 21 backtitles, since I’m part of the Once Upon a Time in the Weird West anthology as well but didn’t count it as a book. To enter this special release day contest, answer this question: What kind of men’s bathing suits are the sexiest? I’ll choose a winner after 4/18. Then read down to the end of the post on how to win the grand prize for the blog tour contest, a December Diamonds Cupid Merman ornament!
For those readers who may not already know, Forgotten Paradise is my second entry in the Dreamspun Desires line of gay category romances from Dreamspinner Press. I love these sweet, tropey romances that recall the Harlequin and Silhouette books I used to read as a high school student. They’re all about sweaty palms, sweet romance, and a satisfying HEA. Light on the angst, a little sexy (mine does have some explicit sex in it), and a lot of fun.
My love of snorkeling, diving, and sailing inspired the Mermen of Ea trilogy (mermen shifters) from Dreamspinner Press. For Forgotten Paradise, my diving inspired one of the MCs: Jonah James is a dive instructor with the all-inclusive resort where the other MC, Adam Preston, stays for a week.
Forgotten Paradise is all about finding out who you truly are. Not only because Jonah doesn’t remember who he was before he woke up on a Punta Cana beach ten years before! When Jonah’s past and Adam’s future collide, the two men must weather a storm of emotions and challenges. Of course, this is a Dreamspun title, so you can be sure it all works out in the end!
I hope you’ll enjoy finding out who Jonah really is and that you’ll be able to imagine the sand between your toes as you read Forgotten Paradise. To enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for the blog tour, go to one or more of the blog stops and answer the question I’ve asked in the post. Each blog stop comment is an entry. Good luck! –Shira
Check out Forgotten Paradise today!
It’s dangerous diving for secrets.
When a megacompany threatens to take over his family-owned business, programming prodigy Adam Preston escapes the stress with a much-needed vacation in the Dominican Republic. There he meets attractive, intelligent, insightful Jonah James, a scuba dive instructor, and what starts as a holiday fling soon blossoms into much more.
But Jonah has a secret: ten years ago he woke up on an island beach with no idea how he got there… or even who he is. Their paradise may not be as perfect as it seems. When Jonah’s memories come crashing back like waves on the sand, will it be Adam clinging to the proverbial life raft, or will the two men find a safe harbor to ride out the storm?
April 14, 2017
When writing stories, authors pull from life. Write what you know, and all that. For fantasy and science fiction, that means drawing on emotions, landscapes, science, and my unique experience of being human, but not very much about actual people or places. With contemporary stories, though, those people and places can mirror real ones. I certainly did it in Breaking the Ice.
When Dreamspinner put out a call for the States of Love series, two states came immediately to mind: Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. I’ve lived in eleven states, but those are the two I know best. I was born in Wisconsin and raised my sons there. I currently live in Pennsylvania.
When writing what you know, it helps immensely if you know it well.
My family still lives in Wisconsin and bits and pieces of them color the landscape and characters of Breaking the Ice. The main characters, Matt and John, are regular guys—just like my brothers. Neither brother is gay, so please don’t read anything into that. It’s just that, like one of my brothers, Wisconsin native John is a man who built his career by going straight from high school to work at a small heavy industry company, of which Wisconsin has a great many. The company John and Matt work for is located in the town of Slinger. Why? Because my brother lived in Slinger, which lies just off one of the exits of I-45 leading to Green Bay and, importantly, Fond du Lac.
Fond du Lac is where Matt lives, and Matt… well, we’ll get to him later.
I’m familiar with the Slinger exit and the kinds of bars and supper clubs nearby. Sam and Sally’s bar is fictional… but Dale’s in Milwaukee is not. My sister used to hang out at Dale’s and maybe still does. They’re famous for their soup. The crowd at Dale’s, and at many small Milwaukee bars I’ve had occasion to visit (with my sister, as I don’t think I have ever gone to a bar alone), is friendly and social. If you’re a regular, everybody does, truly, know your name. Matt’s social group is loosely based on an evening spent at Dale’s.
Or take bowling. I’m a bowler, or was one, so there’s that. The bowling in Breaking the Ice, though, while a minor plot point, belongs squarely with my brother again, who goes bowling with guys from work—just like Matt and John. Brother got promoted into management and still bowled with the guys… also like Matt. All names are made up, but the fact one of the co-worker bowlers is Hispanic is true to life: Milwaukee has more Mexicans, and Mexican restaurants and businesses, than the entire Philadelphia metro area. Seriously, I can’t find a decent Mexican restaurant near me. But in Milwaukee…
Speaking of Milwaukee, John’s mother’s house is real. It stands about four blocks away from my Mom’s. Whenever I visit and we drive past that house, I just… like it. It’s homey and friendly and everything a house should be. Right off Lloyd Street in Wauwatosa. The kitchen of the house in the book, though, is Mom’s. John and his mom talk at my Mom’s table. Matt’s house also exists, with a boathouse that can be seen from boats on Lake Winnebago. The interior of Matt’s house, but not the exterior, is based on my good friend Amy’s house because her kitchen is awesome.
Breaking the Ice owes a huge debt to my sister. She and her husband inspired Matt (remember, I said I’d get to him). They love to fish and hunt; they own a boat and tons of gear; they’ve speared sturgeon… or at least like to party with the folks who spear sturgeon. Matt, with his passion for the outdoors and conservation, is based on them. I wanted to capture the joy of the outdoor lifestyle. A few of Mary’s anecdotes made their way into Breaking the Ice. Babe and his grill really happened. Ice glow. John’s misadventure with a sturgeon hole. The female warden (I’m sitting on a great story about her that needs a MF book!). And who knew sturgeon spearers like to swig blackberry brandy?
Oh, and don’t tell her, because she’ll probably never read this, but I gave Racko my sister’s no-nonsense personality. And another character her husband’s beard.
Matt’s petty, vengeful streak, though? That one’s all me.
Write what you know.
Check out Breaking the Ice today!
For Matt Wasko, February in Wisconsin is the best time of the year, and ice fishing on Lake Winnebago is his idea of heaven. With shanty villages cropping up, barbeques on the ice, monster sturgeon to spear, and plenty of booze to keep everybody warm, things couldn’t be better—until a surprise storm hits and an uninvited guest shows up at his frozen doorstep.
Matt’s not happy to see John Lutz, a coworker who cracks lame gay jokes at Matt’s expense. But John’s flimsy new ice shelter got blown across the lake, and it wouldn’t be right to leave even a jerk outside to freeze. Would it?
In the close quarters of Matt’s fabulous ice shanty, between stripping off wet clothes, misadventures with bait, and a fighting trophy-sized walleye, the two men discover creative ways to keep the cold at bay. And when John confesses his long-running attraction, Matt must decide if he can believe in John’s change of heart—and crack the ice for a chance at finding love.
About Tali Spencer:
Tali Spencer delights in erotic fantasy and adventure, creating worlds where she can explore the heights and shadows of sexual passion. A hopeful romantic and lover of all things exotic, she also writes high fantasy, science fiction and the occasional contemporary or western. In the real world, she is currently in the process of getting new knees. If you would like to see inspiration pictures for her characters, or glimpse how she envisions her worlds, including works in progress, check out her Pinterest boards.
April 10, 2017
Thank you very much for hosting me on the blog today and giving me a chance to talk a little about Leap of Faith, my latest friends-to-lovers action/suspense story.
As stories go, writing this one held a lot of surprises for me. For one, it ended up being set in a coastal town in the US, while I usually make up fantasy worlds or write stories set much closer to my home in England. The writing muse gave me the story long before I had the actual setting, so by the time I made it to the end I needed to pull the marina, hospital, warehouse district, and Marius’s home in the hills together into one location.
Since I had a shopping list for the place I needed, there was only one thing for it: research.
Put three writers in a room together and soon they’ll be discussing the chances of getting arrested the moment someone gets hold of their search history. Not that we’re looking at anything dodgy, you understand. We’re just researching how to blow up yachts, the best way to stab someone to incapacitate rather than kill, how to hack a High Street bank or impersonate Elvis Presley. Totally normal stuff if you make stuff up for a living.
Research isn’t all about arcane or illegal knowledge, of course. In the last few years I’ve been reading restaurant menus and train timetables, Army training manuals and cookery books. I’ve looked up the best way to re-upholster a chair, how to make venison pie and clam chowder, and tried to find out what kind of cars the police would drive in Connecticut. And I’ve spent hours with Google Earth open on my desktop studying the Connecticut coastline.
Since I’ve never visited Connecticut, Lissand, the home of FireWorks Security, ended up being wholly fictitious. I didn’t want to set it somewhere real and then stumble over little things that neither Google Earth nor guidebooks can tell me. Things like brand-new one-way streets, condemned buildings, or shops that went out of business. And, of course, I needed to make sure I had all my story ingredients in one place, logically arranged to fit the story.
I had a great deal of fun working all that out.
The next surprise that Leap of Faith had for me was what happened to the story itself. You see, when it comes to books I’m a bit of a serial monogamist.
There are plenty of serials out there all set in the same universe, where each book follows a different couple. I do read and enjoy those, but my favorites to read (and write) are series that follow one couple through significant parts of their relationship. That may have something to do with me having stuck it out for over a quarter of a century or maybe I’m simply too stubborn to quit. I really don’t know.
For me, there’s more to romance than meeting, falling in love, and deciding to give it a go. That part with the trouble breathing, the fluttering heart and sweaty palms is exciting. But I think true romance really starts with the daily nitty-gritty, with the million and four annoyances and irritations we all face every year, with learning to pull together and make it work. Stories and series that stick with one couple beyond that first flush of attraction have a good chance to feed that craving for me, whether I’m reading or writing.
So imagine my surprise when I was in the middle of writing Leap of Faith, a standalone story as far as I was concerned, and I found myself falling for one of the secondary characters in a pretty serious way.
At that point I already knew that there was more to Kieran’s story than I wanted to explore in Leap of Faith. Realizing that Kieran’s story is closely linked to that of the dishy surgeon didn’t require any great stretch. I let the writing muse play with the idea and before I knew it, Dr. Marius Leven had a book of his own, complete with love interest. That’s not how I usually roll, but it’s exciting all the same.
And it drives Joel up the wall.
Here I got my third surprise. I knew both Kieran and Joel quite well before I started writing. Kieran, the intense, stubborn one, prone to overthink and brood, still coming to terms with losing his partner and his career and finding the courage to start over. Joel, quick, decisive and easygoing by comparison, with a short fuse for bullshit and a need to watch over Kieran. I knew their past, their likes and fears, and I knew how their relationship would bloom. Then Marius Leven arrived on the scene and the story started to change.
Kieran and Marius have a connection from the moment they meet. True, Kieran draws a knife on the doctor, but Marius has faced worse. And when someone needs help, he’s right there, knife or no. Being a doctor, he sees through Kieran’s masks and he has no compunction to push boundaries, be they personal or professional. Kieran responds to that approach, not realizing the effect their easy interaction has on Joel.
I’ve always seen Leap of Faith as Kieran’s story, Kieran’s journey. I saw Joel as Kieran’s strength, that missing piece that, once in place, gives Kieran the courage to deal with his past. I hadn’t expected to have a catalyst like Marius in the mix. His presence changes the interaction between Joel and Kieran and – in the sequel that’s still a work in progress – will change Joel to a point where he and Kieran have to fight if they want to hang on to the relationship they’re building.
Did I say earlier that I preferred series where we get to follow a single couple through several books over series where each book tells a different love story? I could be changing my mind in this instance, but I wonder how everybody else feels about this. Which kind of series do you like best and why? Please leave me a note in the comments.
Check out Leap of Faith today!
Close friends and partners at FireWorks Security, Joel Weston and Kieran Ross know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. They have each other’s backs, make a formidable team, and carefully ignore their volatile chemistry.
When Kieran struggles with the aftermath of an assignment gone wrong, Joel is there to help. When Joel is caught in an explosion, Kieran jumps into a burning marina to rescue the man who means so much to him. But they never discuss what’s closest to their hearts, not prepared to risk their friendship for the mere possibility of something more.
Faced with bombs, assassins, and old ghosts, Joel and Kieran must find out why they’re targets, who is coming after them, and—most of all—how each would feel if he lost the other. Should they continue as best friends, or is it time to take a leap of faith?
About Jackie Keswick:
Jackie Keswick was born behind the Iron Curtain with itchy feet, a bent for rocks and a recurring dream of stepping off a bus in the middle of nowhere to go home. She’s worked in a hospital and as the only girl with 52 men on an oil rig, spent a winter in Moscow and a summer in Iceland and finally settled in the country of her dreams with her dream team: a husband, a cat, a tandem, a hammer and a laptop.
Jackie loves unexpected reunions and second chances, and men who don’t follow the rules when those rules are stupid. She blogs about English history and food, has a thing for green eyes, and is a great believer in making up soundtracks for everything, including her characters and the cat.
And she still hasn’t found the place where the bus stops.
For questions and comments, not restricted to green eyes, bus stops or recipes for traditional English food, you can find Jackie Keswick in all the usual places:
April 7, 2017
I’ve had trouble outlining for years. I took classes on outlining. I attended conference sessions on outlining. I spoke at length with successful authors about outlining. Out of desperation, I even taught a novel outline college-level course three times, hoping I would internalize the lessons. It did not happen until I’d written over a million words. At last, after undergraduate and graduate degrees in creative writing, drafting ten novels, and guiding hundreds of students through the outline process, I’ve finally discovered why I struggle so much with outlining. I’ve learned to lean on my strengths and hybridize the strengths of my writing style (discovery or gardener) with the strengths of the outliner or architect style. First, you must know which is your natural mode, then employ very specific tools to create well-rounded, satisfying fiction.
What kind of writer are you?
The first step is to figure out what kind of writer you are so you know which tools to try. Here’s a short quiz—on a scrap of paper, write numbers of the remarks below that fit you a little, sort-of, or a lot.
1. I struggle to write endings.
2. My writing group says they can’t connect to my characters.
3. I dislike editing a story I’ve finished and often feel lost when it’s time to edit something really big, like a novel.
4. The blank page is overwhelming.
5. A detailed outline is overwhelming–I don’t know where to begin, nor do I care about writing the story anymore.
6. I spend a lot of time researching and don’t ever get around to writing.
7. My endings happen too fast and my writing group complains that they wanted more processing time with the character at the end.
8. I had to cut four chapters about two meticulously-researched secondary characters’ families because everyone said they didn’t matter to the main story and were unnecessary.
9. I had to cut thousands of words because I realized that entire section wasn’t going to work anymore because I had a better idea after writing it.
10. My writing group says my characters’ decisions seem forced/unearned.
Look at the numbers you wrote down. I believe the odd numbers are observed traits of discovery writers. I think the even numbers are observed traits of outline writers. If you have more odd numbers than even ones, try the discovery/gardener writer solutions. If you have more even than odd, try the outline/architect writer solutions.
Solutions for Discovery Writers
If you’re a discovery writer, you tend to need a character to attach to. You tend to play with different beginnings and find a character’s voice that compels you. You’re not sure what’s going to happen in the story—you spin out the yarn and see what happens, watching the story grow as you go, like a gardener. You tend to edit as you write, to get your words and thoughts in line, and after, say 10,000 words or so, you know the characters well enough that the story gets legs and sort of writes itself. Your critique group is annoyed by your abrupt endings, because, as soon as you think of how to end the story, the story loses all interest for you so you end it and get out quick. Editing a big story is a lot of work—you’re not sure how to begin, you only know something in the story isn’t working, some beat or plot point comes at the wrong time and you’re not sure how to fix it. You know that writing an outline would save you time and help you keep your story on track, but every time you try to write one first, you’re not quite sure how to begin and/or lose interest partway through.
Personally, I’m very much a discovery writer, and I’ve found the following very helpful:
Start writing the story right away, using a prompt or a question you’re asking yourself, or having just read some provoking fiction or watched a movie that left you feeling unresolved. Write until you feel good about what you’re working on and you’ve got a reasonable idea of who the character/what the voice is.
STOP. No, seriously, stop.
Sketch out a very loose seven-point outline (I like to use Dan Wells’ Story Structure https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KcmiqQ9NpPE). Don’t go overboard. Just write seven general things that form the shape of the story as suggested by the character/voice/happenings of the first few paragraphs. This can be a sentence or even a single word.
Go back to your draft and start writing again. If the story’s a short one, finish it and then look back at your outline. Rewrite the outline to more accurately reflect your story. If the story is a long one, after each chapter/section, take a look at your outline and adjust it to fit what you have written, inserting potential future things that might happen based on what the text is suggesting. DO NOT GO INTO DETAIL. As a discovery writer, going into detail threatens to suck the fun out of drafting. After you have the seven general main points laid out and you feel interested by their possibilities, return to drafting. When you’re done with the whole thing, correct your outline.
Write a summary of your story. This will help you figure out where your story is going wrong so you can address that in edits. Call a friend and tell them your story’s plot. Write down any inconsistencies between what you said to your friend and what you actually wrote. This can guide you toward stronger choices in revision.
Force yourself to write a long enough ending. Remember your reader loves your character. They want to know how the character emotionally reacts to what happened to them and have a sense of what happens after the story ends.
Solutions for Outline Writers
From what I’ve observed in friends and students, outline writers feel lost without an outline, just like discovery writers feel lost without a character—just starting a story and seeing what happens can be overwhelming and feel alien. For readers, an architect’s characters can feel flat and disconnected, or worse, unnatural, because there isn’t enough growth happening for the character while the architect fills in the events around the bones of the outline. Another danger of too much outlining is to continued structuring and world-building until the story is “perfect” which keeps you from starting writing at all. Also, a meticulously-researched world is tempting to use in ways that are boring for readers or too much information that distracts from the main story points.
My outliner students have found some of the below useful:
Write down five things you know about your main character. Resist outlining these five things into story-form.
Write down five events that have happened in your main character’s life before the action of the story. Write down how the character reacted to each of those events. This helps you start connecting to and understanding who your main character is.
Stop the outline you just started that places those events in time and turns them into story. You won’t need them, they are just to help you understand your character’s reactions.
Pick a very strong emotion: Joy, Anger, Love, Grief, Surprise, Fear, Trust, Anxiety—anything that is easy for you to picture and feel. Have your character describe one of the settings or an important object in your story while feeling the emotion strongly without mentioning the emotion. This will help you attach your character’s emotions to the world and the story.
Don’t let yourself outline too deeply. Get down the main story points you need to feel comfortable starting, and then go ahead and start writing. Adjust your outline as you go. If you start to wonder if your character is nuanced and natural, stop and repeat step two and step four.
Don’t add in world-building details you researched that distract readers from the main character’s emotional journey—only use the ones that feel relevant and fit well with the character you now know so much more about.
Learning what kind of writer you are, discovery or outline, or a mix of both, can help you learn your strengths and hybridize the discovery/gardener and outliner/architect styles. If you’re testing somewhere in the middle of the two, try using tools from either list and see what results. Pay careful attention to when you are bored or getting bogged down and anything that makes you stop writing. It’s important to listen to your muse—write what you enjoy in the way that keeps you productive, but use tools to head off problems your critique groups have reported to you. As you master this balancing act, you’ll be able to plan your garden to grow in natural and beautiful ways and create nuanced, satisfying fiction and save yourself a lot of time editing.
Check out Swift for the Sun today!
Benjamin Lector imagines himself a smuggler, a gunrunner, and an all-around scoundrel. A preacher’s son turned criminal, first and foremost he is a survivor.
When Benjamin is shipwrecked on Dread Island, fortune sends an unlikely savior—a blond savage who is everything Benjamin didn’t know he needed. Falling in love with Sun is easy. But pirates have come looking for the remains of Benjamin’s cargo, and they find their former slave Sun instead.
Held captive by the pirates, Benjamin learns the depths of Sun’s past and the horrors he endured and was forced to perpetrate. Together, they must not only escape, but prevent a shipment of weapons from making its way to rebellious colonists. Benjamin is determined to save the man he loves and ensure that a peaceful future together is never threatened again. To succeed might require the unthinkable—an altruistic sacrifice.
About Karen Bovenmyer:
Karen Bovenmyer earned an MFA in Creative Writing: Popular Fiction from the University of Southern Maine. She currently serves as the Nonfiction Assistant Editor of Escape Artists’ Mothership Zeta Magazine and is the 2016 recipient of the Horror Writer’s Association Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Scholarship. Her science fiction, fantasy, and horror novellas, short stories, and poems appear in more than twenty publications. Though she triple-majored in anthropology, English, and history for her BS from Iowa State University in 1997, Swift for the Sun is her first published work of historical fiction.
April 6, 2017
I’m Julia, and I’m a cowboy-o-holic.
Okay, so I write a lot more werewolves and bears and historical dudes. But I love me some cowboys. I mean, I married BA Tortuga, the queen of the down to earth cowboy book.
So, what is it about the cowboys?
There’s the iconic aspect of them. The heroic John Wayne figure, riding off into the sunset. There’s the Wranglers. There’s the work hardened body, a lean, mean fighting machine with a farmer’s tan.
But really, for me, there’s a lot more to it. I grew up watching the rodeo team at the college where I lived practice. I went to visit my grandpa in the summer, where he still did his job on horseback. I wore cowboy boots to school. While I was a suburban kid at best, I’m only one generation removed from people who worked the very land I write about in my Riding Cowboy Flats series.
So, here I give you Julia’s top ten real life most cowboy experiences, so you can see where I’m coming from. Trust me, some were fun, some not so much…
10. Being told a calf can’t buck you off if you ride him backward and hold onto the tail. And trying it. Not true.
9. Getting shot at with buckshot while diving through a barbed wire fence.
8. Watching my wife string fence on her Daddy’s ranch in Texas, while she wore flip flops and threw a ball for the dog
7. Going to watch the tiniest rodeo on earth at the Hunt County fair
6. Buying my first pair of adult cowboy boots at an outlet store in Texas
5. Hitting all the little rodeos in Central Texas over the 4th of July, also called Cowboy Christmas. We must have gone to 15 in one year
4. Cattleman’s Days in Gunnison, Colorado. The oldest rodeo in CO
3. Cowboy poetry competition in Colorado- holy moustache batman
2. Seeing George Strait at the Houston Rodeo and shaking his hand
1. Cheyenne Frontier Days, y’all. The Daddy of ‘em All!
Check out Just a Cowboy today!
Riding Cowboy Flats: Book Two
Can an old-fashioned cowboy and a young man on the run from his dark past find a future together?
Herschel is a simple rancher who believes everybody deserves a second chance, which is why he tends to hire underdogs—like Dalton, a young cowboy who needs all the support and TLC Herschel can offer.
Dalton doesn’t think anyone can forgive him for what he did, but Herschel seems willing to try. In fact, he might be the best thing that has ever happened to Dalton. He might even be the one to help Dalton trust in the future again. Just when he’s about to tell Herschel everything, all hell breaks loose. Herschel must help Dalton break free from everything that’s haunting him, or they’ll both end up alone.
First Edition published by Torquere Press, 2010.
Stories that leave a mark. Julia Talbot loves romance across all the genders and genres, and loves to write about people working to see past the skin they’re in to love what lies beneath. Julia Talbot lives in the great mountain and high desert Southwest, where there is hot and cold running rodeo, cowboys, and everything from meat and potatoes to the best Tex-Mex. A full time author, Julia has been published by Dreamspinner and Changeling Press among many others. She believes that everyone deserves a happy ending, so she writes about love without limits, where boys love boys, girls love girls, and boys and girls get together to get wild, especially when her crazy paranormal characters are involved. She also writes BDSM and erotic romance as Minerva Howe. Find Julia at @juliatalbot on Twitter, or at www.juliatalbot.com “The mountains are calling, and I must go”
April 3, 2017
Hi to all readers of m/m romance. My name is Wendy Rathbone and I have just released my novel “The Android and the Thief.”
This book is a romance set in a far flung future with some dark elements but a lot of heart and two main characters who really came to life for me.
The story was great fun to write. It is difficult to say exactly where the idea originated. The way I generate ideas is to make lists of my favorite things to read including plot points, characteristics of people, etc. I also create prompts for myself with words, phrases or poems. I take some of these prompts and mix them up, pairing things that might seem at odds, then figuring out the story from there.
For this book I knew I wanted a character who was an indentured servant, someone with no rights or freedom to choose his own destiny. The idea of having characters with all choice taken from them has always intrigued me. So I often write about themes involving people who are slaves or created beings or in some way imprisoned. I had created an idea in the past of “androids” who are actually human in every way, simply enhanced genetically to be near-perfect, and grown in vats. Born adult with implanted memories of false childhoods, these “androids” become expensive toys for the rich and decadent, or expendable as space military combat soldiers. (Yes, I am a fan of Blade Runner.) The problem is these androids are fully functioning, physical humans and so this manufacturing process can actually create emotionally damaged or stunted beings if their imprinted programming roles break down and they begin to “wake up” and think outside their given parameters. Thus, Khim, one of the two main characters in the book, was born to my mind.
I love characters with dark pasts, or who are emerging from mind-jolting, mind-awakening traumas.The character of Khim came to life for me a little at a time. I knew he would be a combat soldier, the only life he’d ever known. I knew he would be injured and forced, after ten years, into another life he was not prepared for. Because of his enhanced beauty, that life was going to be a brothel, and it was not going to be pleasant. But it was the only way I could think of to break him and create a story about his slowly emerging real self, an abrupt introduction to his true humanity, and to the transformative experience of eventual love.
Next, in walks Trev, who has lived a very privileged life, the son of a dynamic crime figure whom he cannot escape. Trev’s story, like Khim’s, is also about breaking out of a kind of prison, one where his life is owned and manipulated by his controlling father.
So I have two characters trying to break away from their pasts and, to make things even worse, both get thrown into prison together as cellmates. Khim knows a secret about Trev which makes him hate him right away, so there is lots of conflict. But they aren’t bad guys, not really, and they soon learn that to defeat their demons they are stronger together.
When I put all those ideas together in my head, the story wrote itself.
If I were asked to pick a favorite character between the two, Trev or Khim, I don’t think I could. Each has his own specific problems and thoughts. Each was an equally fun point of view to write.
For readers, I have a question. Who are your favorite characters who are broken but healing, with tragic pasts? You can name from any media, books, TV, movies.
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Wendy-Rathbone/e/B00B0O9BMS/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1490462215&sr=1-2-ent
Newsletter sign up: http://eepurl.com/cqDVcX
Check out The Android and the Thief today!
Will love set them free—or seal their fate?
In the sixty-seventh century, Trev, a master thief and computer hacker, and Khim, a vat-grown human android, reluctantly share a cell in a floating space prison called Steering Star. Trev is there as part of an arrangement that might finally free him from his father’s control. Khim, formerly a combat android, snaps when he is sold into the pleasure trade and murders one of the men who sexually assaults him. At first they are at odds, but despite secrets and their dark pasts, they form a pact—first to survive the prison, and then to escape it.
But independence remains elusive, and falling in love comes with its own challenges. Trev’s father, Dante, a powerful underworld figure with sweeping influence throughout the galaxy, maintains control over their lives that seems stronger than any prison security system, and he seeks to keep them apart. Trev and Khim must plan another, more complex escape, and this time make sure they are well beyond the law as well as Dante’s reach.
About the Author:
Wendy Rathbone lives with a cat, three dogs, and her partner of thirty-six years, Della. She has been writing since the age of twelve. She lives in the high desert of southern California.
Male/male romance has been a passion of Wendy’s since before the signature “m/m” was even invented. She wrote a lot of slash fanfic in various fandoms to assuage that obsession but moved on to original writing in the fields of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, where she is published in many anthologies and magazines.
She is an award-winning poet, a graduate from UCSD, and runs her own retail business. Her self-published science fiction and m/m romances can be found on Amazon, and her novel The Android and the Thief is available everywhere.
Wendy’s blog: wendyrathbone.blogspot.com
April 3, 2017
Poor Henry and Marc. They haven’t had a good dating history so far. When they first get together, it’s because they’re trapped on the side of a road during a blizzard. On Christmas Eve, no less. Then, on New Year’s Eve, they get trapped in a basement. To Marc’s credit, he did pick a good date location. They should have been safe in the home of senior partner Shelly Flores. But, really, would these guys be safe anywhere?
For fun (see, this is why my characters hate me) I thought I’d check out a few recommended “first date” recommendations on the internet, and see if they’d work for Henry and Marc.
POPSUGAR has a list of 22 Kiss-Friendly New Year’s Eve Date Ideas. The second is a sunset picnic. Okay, I guess that could work if you were in the right climate for it, but Boston in December? Ugh, no. That’s just asking for disaster. Also, I couldn’t even look at the food on their pretty little blanket without thinking ALLERGIES. Going into anaphylactic shock on a date is…memorable? But not particularly kiss-friendly.
The sexy movie marathon could work…
AskMen’s Top 10: New Year’s Eve Ideas has a fun first suggestion: A quick getaway. Really? Putting Henry and Marc on any form of public transport is just asking for trouble. A quick cab ride across the city is risk enough.
Staying home for a quiet, romantic dinner sounds nice.
Bustle has 7 Last-Minute New Year’s Eve Date Night Ideas. Last minute is probably not a good idea and not really Marc’s thing, but… Okay, going to the movies could work. If no one chokes on the popcorn. But the DIY fireworks are OUT. Not giving these guys anything explosive, any time soon.
So, Astroglide (don’t laugh) has 21 Sexy Winter Date Ideas for Guys on Any Budget. I love the second suggestion, sledding in the park. It’s fun, it’s romantic, it’s different… and it’s ripe for disaster, broken limbs being the least among them. Now in any normal story, this date would happen during the day. Henry and Marc on a sled at night in a park in Boston on New Year’s Eve? I’ll just let your imagination run with that one for a little while.
Gay Life at About.com has a nice list of Untraditional Date Ideas. First thought is that untraditional is probably not a good idea for these guys. Second thought is, maybe that’s what we need. (Also, I am very amused that these ideas are specifically for gay couples, because we all know they don’t enjoy traditional date ideas, right?) So, number two is out. No rollercoasters. Roller skating probably isn’t a good idea, either. But I’m not really coming up with any objections to bowling. Might have to think laterally for that one. Where is this bowling alley and how would they get there? Do they serve peanuts at the snack shop? Has Marc ever actually bowled before?
It’s not looking good for Henry and Marc, is it? All joking aside, though, I’d like to think the worst is behind them. Such a rocky beginning can only guarantee a smooth ascent from here on, right?
Thanks for following my tour! At the end of every post, I’ll be asking a question. Leave a comment with your answer (and your email address). Every comment throughout the tour counts as an entry in my giveaway. One winners will receive $15 (US or equivalent) to spend at the Dreamspinner Press store.
Question: Do you have a date idea for Henry and Marc?
Check out Counting Down today!
It’s been a week since a Christmas Eve blizzard changed the course of Marcus Winnamore’s life. Plan A is now Plan B, and the first item on his new agenda is taking Henry Auttenberg on a date. They’ve been invited to a New Year’s Eve party, and Marc is counting down the hours until midnight… until he can kiss Henry in front of his colleagues and friends.
Things don’t quite work out to plan. Finding the elevator out of service, Marc and Henry check the stairs, only to choose the wrong door and become locked in the basement. Close quarters once again make for close conversation, and as they explore every avenue of escape, they also explore the deepening attraction between them. For Marc, this isn’t an experiment. Will he still feel that way when he has to admit to someone other than Henry that he’s gay?
About Kelly Jensen:
Kelly Jensen was born in Australia and raised everywhere else. Currently, she lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, daughter, and herd of four cats. After disproving the theory that water only spins counterclockwise around drains north of the equator, she turned her attention to more productive pursuits such as reading, writing, writing about reading, and writing stories of her own. She also enjoys volunteering at her local library, playing video games, and holds a brown belt in Kiryoku, a martial art combining Shotokan, Aikido, and Tang Soo Do. Her family is not intimidated by her.