Louise Lyons shares her views on being “Conflicted” and a Giveaway!

Conflicted header bannerLouise Lyons is here today talking about her new release, Conflicted, from Dreamspinner Press! Be sure to check out the Rafflecopter at the end of the post for a $10 Amazon Gift Card!

Hello Louise! Welcome to my blog and thank you for answering my nosy discerning, questions! First, please tell us a little about yourself and the kinds of stories you like to write. Would you say there is an underlying theme behind your stories?

Well, I’m over 40, single, and I have a day job in the insurance industry. I have a lot of hobbies, including long distance running, cycling, cross stitch needlework, hiking and camping, and maintaining my own car and motorcycle. I’m a bit of a tomboy and I’m not afraid of hard work, or getting my hands dirty. I like my own company and I often find it difficult to make friends, mainly because I like being on my own a little too much! But I’ve met some lovely people through my writing and am developing some great friendships.

I often have an angsty theme running through my stories. I do like to torment my poor characters and give them struggles to cope with, but there’s always a happy ending eventually! I don’t stick to just one genre within M/M romance though. Although there’s often angst, I write contemporary, coming of age and supernatural themes. I would quite like to include an historical theme in a future story as well – although I’m sure there would be plenty of pain and suffering in that as well!

I do think that many writers prefer solitary pursuits. :-) You sound like me in terms of story-telling–one genre simply isn’t enough! What part of the world do you call home? Can you tell us a little about where you grew up and where you live now?

I grew up close to the fishing port of Grimsby, on the east coast of the UK. It’s not the nicest town in the world, ha-ha! I lived in a village though, so it wasn’t all bad. I left in 2006, spent 4 years in a similar industrial town and then in 2010 I moved to a small market town just outside the city of Peterborough, which is about an hour north of London. I love where I live now – it’s practically in the country, so there are quiet lanes and fields right on my doorstep. Just what I need, as I enjoy running so much.

Atop Chanctonbury RingI had the opportunity to travel to the UK for the first time a few years ago, but I’ve been an Anglophile most of my reading life. :-) I spent most of my time in Sussex, but I did get as far north as Oxford. Lovely country. I’d go back in a heartbeat.

What gave you the courage to submit your first story to a publisher?

I spent a few years writing Fan Fiction, and when I posted my very first M/M romance, I was surprised and delighted by the number of positive comments I received. I think I posted about 25 – 30 stories over the space of 3 or 4 years and I built up a significant following during that time. Some of my readers suggested I tried to get published and at first I just thought “maybe one day”, but in the end I thought about it properly. I was already writing and people from all over the world were reading and giving me their opinion, so I decided, I already had a great launching pad and just needed to push myself to see if a publisher thought my writing was any good, the way my “fans” seemed to think it was.

I took the plunge and actually submitted another story before Conflicted, but it had a theme in it which was thought to be a possible turn-off to some readers (infidelity). The story was put on the backburner and Dreamspinner Press suggested I submit something else to them and they would consider the other story at a later date. So a month later I sent in Conflicted and they said “yes”. I was over the moon that taking the plunge paid off.

Congratulations on your first release! It’s said “Writers should write what they know.” What does this statement mean to you as an author?

I’ve heard that a number of times through the years and at times I’ve thought I should do that, but really, I don’t think it matters. If I only wrote what I knew, I’d be writing het romances and being very bored! I think all it takes is research, empathy, talking to people and you can learn anything well enough to write about it. One of my favorite themes is vampires and a lot of authors write about them, including myself, but none of us can say we’re doing it from experience!

I think it’s important to write about what interests you. If you have the passion for something, you’ll put everything into making a good job of it, regardless of whether you’ve experienced what your character has, or visited the place where your story is set, or whether you’re male or female and writing about any one of M/M, M/F, or F/F.

Do you see your writing as a hobby or is it your goal to be a full time writer at some point in the future?

I used to see it as a hobby, but when I got my contract for Conflicted, it gave me a new dream. If I can have one book published, there’s no reason why more shouldn’t follow. I would love to become a full time writer. I don’t expect to become a millionaire, ha-ha – far from it! But if I can pay the bills without needing to work 9 – 5, I would be delighted. And I’m already working on it!

I’m currently waiting for the “yay or nay” on a novel in the supernatural genre, which is based around vampires, a witch and a modern-day “beauty and the beast” theme. It’s called The Eye of the Beholder so I’m keeping my fingers crossed for it. Meanwhile, I’m working on a variety of short stories for anthologies, I have a coming of age romance novel that is ready for submission and I have the outline for an angsty drama based on a young guy who has been a victim of domestic abuse. That’s something I’ve been through myself, so I can write a lot of what he feels from personal experience. The story will start after he escapes from it, but anyone who has been through this type of situation, will know that getting away from the abuser is very often not the end of the pain. I’m also in the planning stages of a novel set in the early 1990s when it was all guitars and big hair and makeup. That was my era, so I have experience to draw on there.

That certainly falls into the ‘write what you know’ category! Good for you to not only survive such an experience but be able to transform it into something that could help someone else, too. I frequently say I write because it is cheaper than therapy, and I’m only partially joking there.

Have you ever been tempted to give up writing? If so, why?

Before I started writing M/M Fan Fiction, I wrote M/F in a variety of genres. I received some quite nasty comments from a small number of people who didn’t like what I’d done with a particular character. Rather than be constructive, the couple of people in question attacked me personally and it hurt. I did stop writing, for maybe a year – or at least I stopped posting what I wrote. I still put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), but I kept it to myself.
When I look back on that, I tell myself that I’ll never stop writing again, no matter what happens. There are always going to people who don’t like what you write, for whatever reason. We’re all different and we all have different tastes. If I get bad reviews now, I’ll remind myself that there are good ones too, and that just because someone doesn’t like my story, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s no good. As long as someone likes it, then I haven’t wasted my time. I love writing, it’s a big part of my life and I won’t let anything spoil it for me.

There’s a lot to be said for cutting our teeth in fanfiction. We learn not just the mechanics of story-telling but also how to deal with unfavorable reviews and forms of bullying I read a quote recently that said something to the effect that authors had be hard enough to take criticism yet soft enough to share our emotions and feelings. It’s never easy putting yourself on the line like that, but a true writer writes no matter what. :-)

Thank you so much for dropping by to answer a few questions and share an excerpt of Conflicted with us!

Conflicted

Blurb
Two competing gangs of car and drag racing enthusiasts with a shared history of pain and rivalry leading to outright hatred. Two men from opposite sides of the tracks, yet more in common than they’d like to admit.

Paul Appleton is a troubled man who has never been in a relationship, having lost everyone he cared for in his life. His mother died when he was very young and subsequently, he lost his brother and his best friend. Now Paul is convinced love will always end in tears.

Greg was living on the streets after his parents died and was stabbed by a junkie, ending up in hospital. The Buchanans took Greg under their wing while doing charity work, and Greg joined their loving family when he was adopted. He and his siblings are also car enthusiasts with much more money and therefore better cars than Paul Appleton’s gang.

When they eventually find a connection, Paul fights his feelings and tries to convince himself his lover is only a temporary bit of fun, but Greg has other ideas.

Excerpt:

Greg went to the bar to get a beer and was just handing over the money when he noticed the very man he had been hoping to avoid was right next to him, nursing his own bottle of Budweiser.

“I thought you went to a bar in Stevenage,” Paul commented without looking at Greg.

“I couldn’t be bothered driving over there tonight,” Greg said and gulped some of his beer. He leaned against the bar and glanced at Paul. His gray T-shirt looked about three sizes too small and only emphasized the size of his shoulders and broad back. Intentional, no doubt. His faded jeans were even tighter, and clung to his muscular thighs and firm ass as if they were painted on. Damn, he was hot, and Greg wanted to kick himself for thinking that.

“Not even in the new car?” Paul turned to look at him and raised an eyebrow. His eyes were deep brown and piercing, as if he were looking into Greg rather than at him.

“Not tonight.”

“Nice, by the way. Shame we don’t all have rich parents to shower us with toys like that.”

It was just what Greg expected – a brief compliment quickly crushed by an insult. He was immediately pissed.

“You know nothing about it,” he growled.

Paul shrugged. “I can’t blame you. I wouldn’t have said no either.”

“Listen, Appleton, I won’t pretend I’m not smug as hell driving around in an R34, but I didn’t ask for it and to be honest, I would rather have bought a car I can afford with my own money, which I do earn, by the way. I don’t just live off of them like a fucking leech!”

“Alright, chill, I’m sorry,” Paul said.

“Yeah, well, it gets up my nose that people think I’m rich and spoiled when I work hard like anybody else. I can’t help the fact that I got adopted by the Buchanans. I came from an ordinary family, same as most people, even you.”

“My family was anything but ordinary,” Paul grumbled. “So how come you were adopted anyway?”

“You actually want to know?” Greg asked in surprise.

“Yeah, why not?”

“Okay, we might as well get a seat, then.” Greg turned away from the bar and headed for a corner away from the main bustle, leaving Paul to follow if he felt like it. Greg wasn’t particularly delighted by the prospect of spending more time with him, but since he was here, there wasn’t much else Greg could do. Annoyingly, his pulse sped up as he made his way to an unoccupied corner bench and sat down. He chewed his lip. Paul was still at the bar, speaking to someone he apparently knew, but a moment later, he moved away and walked toward Greg. Fuck, those jeans were tight, and Greg would have bet Paul had no underwear on either.

Jesus, don’t stare. He shifted his eyes up – to bulging pecs. Heat rushed to his groin, and he tried to think about something else. The last thing he wanted was a hard-on, but too long with no fun except for his own hands, and now the company of the hottest guy in the pub, had him stiffening regardless. Greg wondered what the chances were. Would Paul be up for it? Greg knew nothing about him, but he couldn’t imagine him being shy. Greg would bet Paul would shag anything that looked twice at him – or certainly play around with them.

“So? You were going to tell me where you came from,” Paul prompted, dropping onto the seat a little distance away, facing Greg.

“Uh…um…yeah, well, my parents were just ordinary – my dad was a builder and my mum was a waitress. They died in a car crash when I was sixteen.”

“Sorry to hear that,” Paul said with a frown. “Did they treat you okay?”

“My parents? Of course, why wouldn’t they?” That comment puzzled Greg, but he carried on talking. Anything to stop himself imagining Paul’s hand, which was gripping his beer bottle, wrapped around Greg’s cock instead. “They had a huge mortgage, the house got repossessed after they died, and the system didn’t want to know. I lived on the streets for a year, then ended up in hospital, and Agnes Buchanan, who was there doing charity work, took pity on me. And the rest is history.”

“That was lucky.” Paul nodded. “What put you in hospital?”

“A bloke with a knife.

“Shit.”

“So, how did you end up living with…Stewart Sanders, is it?” Greg asked.

“It’s a long story,” Paul grunted. “I left home when I was sixteen, and he and Abby took me in.”

“Why did you leave?”

Paul scowled and drained the rest of his beer before answering. “It’s not important.

“Humor me,” Greg said, genuinely interested.

“I’m not here to entertain you!” Paul snapped and got to his feet.

“Hey…” Greg protested. Hell, the guy had a chip on his shoulder. A huge chip. And he was about to walk away from Greg just when he was beginning to convince himself that they were getting along, and that he might possibly get his hand inside those tight jeans later. But Paul was already walking to the bar.

“Shit!” Greg growled under his breath. He was annoyed that Paul walked away and more annoyed still that he was disappointed. It had seemed like they might be starting to move past what happened at Octane, and Greg hoped the stupid feud might have been forgotten too.

Paul hadn’t gone far. He had wedged himself between two men at the bar and was waiting to be served another drink. Greg stared at his ass until he turned around again and then quickly dropped his eyes and pretended interest in the last mouthful of beer in his bottle.
“Sorry.” Paul appeared at the other side of the table, placed a fresh bottle of Bud in front of Greg, and then stepped over his legs and took up his original seat, maybe a foot closer to Greg than before.

“No, I’m sorry. I suppose I come across as if I’m prying, but really, I’m just interested.”

The corner of Paul’s mouth twitched up slightly into a hint of a smile. “Just don’t ask me about family.”

“Okay. So can I ask about your job at the club? Don’t they need you on a Friday night?”
“They rotate the weekend days off. It’s my first in the month I’ve been there. It’s a good job – decent pay too, better than the shitty warehouse I was in before.”

“Yeah, I imagine bouncers get paid pretty well.” Greg nodded. “Do you have to use your fists much?” Damn, Greg, what the hell did you say that for? He cursed himself.

Paul grinned. “Not really. You get more trouble with drunken girls trying to slobber all over you.” He pulled a face. “If there’s real trouble, you diffuse it rather than add to it. I do kickboxing and jujitsu to help with that.”

“Cool,” Greg said. It was something they had in common. “I did kickboxing for a few years. I’ve been thinking about taking up something else too.”

Paul nodded and took another drink. Greg watched the movement of his throat as he swallowed and imagined his lips were wrapped around his cock instead of the bottle. He shifted awkwardly and rested his arm across his lap, hoping not to draw attention to the fact that he was getting uncomfortably hard. Paul lowered the bottle, and his eyes slid from Greg’s face, down his chest, and fixed on exactly what he was hoping Paul wouldn’t look at. He grinned and trapped the tip of his tongue between his teeth. Oh fuck. He was checking Greg out and way more obviously than Greg was checking him

Should Greg ignore it, or go with it? Did he seriously want to get off with Paul? How difficult would that make things if they ran into each other at shows or something in the future? What the hell would the family say if they found out? What on earth was Greg thinking when he considered taking a chance with a person who went out of his way to make trouble for himself and others?

Greg thought for another minute and realized that it was going to be the only chance he had, at least for that evening. Besides, who was going to know? Paul didn’t want anyone finding out about him anymore than Greg did.

“What are you looking at?” Greg grunted as a way of starting a sort of flirting interaction.

“Isn’t it obvious? Like my company, do you?” Paul responded.

“It seems like it, doesn’t it?”

Paul arched an eyebrow and leaned back. He shifted his ass forward on the seat and drew attention to the fact that the ridiculously tight jeans were virtually crushing him. Greg could make out the head of his cock pushing against the fabric. He wondered if it was his imagination or if he was more turned on than he’d ever been in his life.

Conflicted is available from Dreamspinner Press as an e-book and paperback. Thank you, Louise, for joining us here today and sharing with us a bit about your life and your story! I hope you’ll come back in the future and tell us more about your upcoming works. :-)

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Not Your Typical Bedtime Stories… and a Giveaway!

BedtimeStories_cvr-resizedOh, I’m so pleased to be able to introduce you to some of the authors from the anthology Bedtime Stories, published last month by Wilde City Press! Have you seen this cover? A handsome, shirtless man wearing glasses and reading a book–you definitely have my attention! (I’ve tried to explain this concept to my boyfriend, to make him understand just how sexy I find it that he loves reading. He thinks I’m cute but odd…)

So without further ado, the authors of Bedtime Stories!

Hey, all, we’re some of the authors of “Bedtime Stories” that was released last month from Wilde City Press. Thanks very much to Sarah Madison for hosting us!
Below you can find a few words about what inspired each story, and some excerpts.

Whiskey Wishes – Anna Martin

Excerpt:

Kilbeggan is a town that has, if you’ll excuse the expression, feck all in it. I left at eighteen for Dublin, sure that with some education and big city living in me that I’d never go home. I was sick of the green, of the people and the predictability of rural life. Things were slow, money was rare, and I was gay.

And at eighteen years old, there was no way I was about to make that announcement to anyone.

– – – – –

When I sat down to write this story, all I had was the lyrics of Ireland in my head. I wanted Jim’s narration to be almost musical, so his voice and way of speaking has this very particular rhythm to it.

I was afraid, at first, that I wouldn’t find a home for the story because it’s fairly unusual for me. I don’t often write short stories, and when I do, it’s for an open call for anthologies. The only way I could deal with it was to gather together my friends, and ask them to help me out in writing a collection of bedtime stories, which is how this amazing journey began.

I’ve absolutely loved every minute of being involved in this anthology. My wonderfully diverse group of friends all responded to the request for stories in a different way, resulting in a collection which is diverse and interesting and beautifully written. I only hope the readers love it as much as we do!

Anna Martin’s website
Anna Martin’s Facebook page
~*~*~

Click Your Heels Three Times – Blaine D. Arden

Excerpt:

Groggy and disoriented, I stared at the sky above me. My arms were heavy. I tried to move them, but it was as if I’d been wrapped in cotton wool-they wouldn’t budge. So I lay watching the clouds. Big fluffy clouds in a clear blue sky. The one above me vaguely resembled a hook-nosed witch sticking her tongue out. I blinked. Creepy. But what was even creepier was that she was still there, no matter how long I watched. The clouds weren’t moving at all. They didn’t change shape, either. Frozen, like cotton balls hanging from a ceiling

Where was I? Why was I here?

– – – – –

I so loved writing that one :)
The inspiration for this story came from Anna Martin mentioning fairytales and “Twists on Classics”, and for some reason Dorothy clicking her heels came to mind. There are no red shoes, tin man, or scare crow in my story, but there is a lion, and there might just be a way home.

Blaine Arden’s website
Blaine Arden’s Facebook page

~*~*~

Frangipani Kisses – Liam Livings
(Liam has a lovely blog post about the inspiration for his story, so go read it there. :)

Excerpt:

I walked around the table, handing out small paper plates with taster samples of my cakes. “Help yourself. There’s plenty for everyone. Dig in. It’s only small pieces so if you’re watching your waist, it won’t do any harm. It’s all homemade. All natural ingredients. All made by yours truly.”

The noise in the room built as people chewed and compared notes with their neighbours, nodding as they repeated the words homemade and all natural. Clearly two concepts very close to this room of professionals’ hearts.

As I reached the chief executive at the far end of the table, he waved the plate away. The woman next to him said he had to give it a little try, it was the best she’d ever tasted, better than she’d ever made working her way through the Great British Bake-off cookery book.

I stopped by her chair. “You’ve got that, have you?”

She nodded, taking another tiny sample of my wares, smiling.

“Wonderful, isn’t it?” I leant on the chief executive’s shoulder gently and deliberately camping it up slightly, with an accent straight out of Oklahoma!, turned to him and said, “Oh please, sir, please do try some of my cake. It’s surely the tastiest cake you ever will try.”

He rolled his eyes and took a piece of my special recipe, never been shared, tried eight different versions until I reached the best one, double chocolate sticky brownie. “Good Lord!”

Beryl curtseyed and gestured to me. “Ladies and gentlemen, my secret weapon, to save the Canvey Island shop. John.”

Liam Livings’s website
Liam Livings’s Facebook page

~*~*~

Charmed – MJ O’Shea

Basically, I wanted to try my hand at re-writing Cinderella in a (very) short form. It’s both easy and a huge challenge, since it’s been done a million times so it has to be a little bit different than the other attempts. I decided I wanted to make my prince the one who’d been beat down by life and not very trusting, and while “Cinderella” does come from a family with sisters it’s a loving supportive family. I took the framework of the story, three magical nights that ended with the possibility of happily ever after, and made the characters very normal and somewhat cynical (in the prince’s case). I put the whole story from the Prince’s point of view instead of Cinderella and let his snark run wild:)

Here’s a bit from the beginning:
Excerpt:

It happened one average Friday night like it always did. You know those things, the whole boy meets boy, smile flirt go home fuck for a few hours then see ya later typical kinda things, right? Yeah, it was just like that. Sort of. Except not at all. Except everything changed in that moment. There was none of the normal stuff, no sly smiles or lingering looks of acknowledgement, just whole lot of awkward needy pulse pounding staring. Like some kind of cosmic blinding soulmate shit. Seriously. Heavens colliding, universes aligning, love and rockets soulmate shit. Of course all that could only be true if Kelly believed in cosmic blinding soulmate sorts of things. Which he didn’t. Probably.

Too bad nobody told that to him. To the lanky, dorky, freckly guy with stupid pale ginger hair — of all things…ginger. Had he learned nothing from Southpark? One damn look at the kid made Kelly’s whole body burst into galaxies of ridiculous heated sparkly starry pulse pounding no. Nope, nope, nope. Absolutely not. Kelly didn’t do stars. Usually. No. Never. None of the sparkly shit for him. He didn’t have time for that kinda trouble.

Kelly one, Soulmate zero. Game over.

Right?

See the thing was, Kelly knew how to work it. No shame in that. He had to work it. It wasn’t like he had much of anything else to fall back on. School had been a bust, his family was more of a slow pathetic slide from not much to speak of into big fat zero. He got lucky when he’d first come to the city. Malek, The Court’s owner, thought he was cute and that bartender course he’d taken because, well, why the hell not, pretty much saved his life. He’d been ruling over the bar at The Court since he turned twenty-two and he didn’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon.

Three years in Kelly had his game down. Flirty but not too flirty, smile for tips and maybe unbutton a few buttons on his shirt so his tattoos showed, never wink like a sleaze-ball, and when he took guys home he did it once and once only. Wouldn’t do to have any of them thinking they owned him. Every guy wanted to keep one of the ungettable bartenders at The Court, especially Malek’s favorite, Kelly. Nobody got to keep him. Ever. There was a reason for that.

James, the last bartender Kelly had to fire was a really great guy, and the hot Scottish accent raked in the tips, that was until he contracted an unfortunate case of long term jealous boyfriend. The stupid boyfriend perched at corner of Kelly’s bar most nights like a malevolent vulture glaring down the customers who even dared to look James’ way. Wasn’t good for business and there was no way Kelly wanted to get into breaking up the inevitable fights. He had to let James go. Malek trusted Kelly to keep the bullshit to a minimum. He hoped the rest of the guys behind the bar knew better. He sure as hell did.

So yeah. Cosmic blinding soulmate shit? He’d give that a miss, thanks.

But it happened anyway. And there was nothing Kelly could even do about it.

MJ O’Shea’s website

MJ O’Shea’s Facebook page

~*~*~

Miles To Go – B Snow

I’m not really sure where this story came from – a combination of a vague story idea about a father who falls in love with the baby sitter, and trying to work out in my head how someone could reach the age of 30 or thereabouts without knowing they were gay. Yes, there are people in the closet, people in denial, but every once in awhile there’s someone who really didn’t known until a friend – or more usually, a potential love interest – points it out. And some people need more hints than others. :)

Excerpt:

“Do you have a lot of anonymous sex?”

Danny blinked at him. “How do you define ‘a lot’?”

“Uh…any.”

“Then yes, I would say I do. Or used to, anyway, I’m slowing down in my old age.” He smiled. “Are you saying you’ve never had a one-night stand?”

“No. Marty’s the only person I’ve ever been with.” Except for that afternoon at Dave’s, but no, he’d been high, and besides, Marty had been there, so that didn’t count.

Danny cocked his head. “You’re kidding, right?”

“No. I’ve been with her since we were both seventeen.”

“Whoa. That’s—”

Tragic? Impressive? Boring? Joe didn’t get to find out, because Danny’s phone rang. When Danny jumped up to answer it, Joe set his beer bottle on the coffee table and went upstairs to give Danny some privacy and to check on Ethan again. When he came down, Danny had his jacket on.

“One of my friends got to the bar early, so I’m gonna meet her there. Unless you want to keep talking?”

Thank God, an escape. “No, I’m ready to call it a night. Go meet your friend.”

“All right, see you next week.”

“Next week?”

“Marty said this’d be a regular gig for a while.”

Ah, hell. The conditions of their agreement. He had six more dates to get through. “Yeah, see you then.”

“Okay. Good night.”

Six more dates. Joe locked the door behind Danny, and leaned against it, muttering, “Fuck my life.”

B Snow’s website

B Snow’s Facebook page

~*~*~
Leave a comment about this blog post or your favorite bedtime story for a chance to win an e-copy of Bedtime Stories or an e-copy of any of my (B’s) massively extensive backlist.

Bedtime Stories is available from Wilde City and Amazon

Thanks for stopping by, guys! It’s been so delightful getting a sneak peek into your worlds and a hint of your stories! And readers, don’t forget to leave a comment to get a chance at the giveaway!  Contest is open until Sept 16, 2014

 

Chris T. Kat shares some Secret Energy: Age gaps in romances

Author Chris T. Kat is here with us today, sharing about her latest release from Dreamspinner Press, Secret Energy, as well as one of the things she finds fascinating in romances: age gaps.

I have to say, I hadn’t thought about it much myself, but there is an age gap between me and the boyfriend. Not enough to put me in cougar territory, but I do joke about it. I was attending a seminar once in which the speaker asked the audience,” How many people do you know can say they’ve slept in the same bed with a female cougar?”

It was supposed to be a rhetorical question, but I raised my hand and said, “My boyfriend.”

Yes. I’m bad. :-)

So on that note, without any further ado, here’s Chris!
Sarah, thank you very much for the opportunity to be a guest on your blog. Dreamspinner Press published my new release, Secret Energy, on August 29th. Secret Energy is a shape-shifter story, and the sequel to Secret Chemistry.

I’ve written several stories in which the characters have an age gap. Sometimes it’s only a small gap, like maybe five years, but sometimes it’s ten years or more. I’ve also written stories in which the characters are the same age, but very often there’s a gap of about ten years. Not only do I like to write stories that include such an age difference, but I also love to read those. I have no real explanation for my preference, though.

I guess it has to do with how I view the dynamics between the characters. The younger partner is often boisterous, sometimes a bit insecure or still looking for his place in the world, while the older partner is a solid presence, quiet and knowing where he stands. It’s not different in Secret Energy. Robin is a bundle of energy, who doesn’t always know what he wants or if he should follow his gut feeling or not. His mate, Peter, is an old soul and knows exactly what he wants and needs, which doesn’t mean he can’t learn something new from Robin.

How about you? Do you like to read stories with an age gap? Or do you prefer your characters to be of the same age?

SecretEnergy
Buy links:
Secret Energy: e-book
Secret Energy: paperback

Blurb:
When wolf shifter Robin agreed to cover for his older brother Tim and Tim’s lover Jay, he never imagined feeling so stifled. Tim’s overprotective attitude suffocates him. Pressure from within—the urge to find his own mate—mounts daily. With a little help from Jay, Robin finally convinces Tim to let him go for a run alone, but he has no inkling that his life will change forever as a result.

Unexpectedly, he finds his mate Peter Brannigan, an old and special soul, and the one shifter who can bring balance to Robin’s life. The new couple spend days together, developing their bond as mates. Yet even as they explore and cement their relationship, crisis looms just ahead when an old enemy of the pack shows up and kills someone Robin loves.

Excerpt:
The scent called to Robin, setting something free within him—something unfamiliar and primal in nature. Robin’s mood alternated between exhilarated and scared, the combination and sheer intensity of both feelings troubling him.

Robin stopped near a small creek and carefully stepped inside the stream, the cool water soothing his paws and ankles. He took a few swallows of the clear water while his heartbeat slowed down.

The scent was strong around the creek, but Robin was unable to pinpoint it. After raising his snout high in the air, he inhaled the smell deeply, hoping it would infuse his lungs and from there spread to every part of his body, because whatever it was, it had a highly arousing but also calming effect on him. A long, high-pitched yowl broke free from his throat, announcing his longing.

Robin waited before he swept his gaze around. High pines surrounded the small creek, casting shadows on the water’s surface. The creek flowed slowly and smoothly, only occasionally hindered by rocks strewn in its bed. The water swirled around them, creating small vortices that gurgled.

Would anyone answer his plea? What would he do if someone did? Why was he even expecting someone to answer? It couldn’t be his mate—it just couldn’t—although everything would make sense, then.

No one answered Robin. In fact, he couldn’t even hear the usual cacophony of animal noises, just the water lapping at his feet. Robin pricked his ears, concentrating hard on what he could hear—the purling of the creek, the wind whipping through the treetops, and sometimes branches creaking. His breathing sounded harsh, closer to panting. Something wasn’t right, not at all.

Robin walked over to the other side of the stream, the earlier exhilaration dwindling. He shifted from foot to foot, darting his gaze around. An uncomfortable sense of isolation nestled into his insides. Maybe he should have listened to Tim after all?
Shivering, he stood there, not sure whether he wanted to go on with his search or go back to Tim, Jay, and Walter. Going back meant safety, whereas going after his potential mate—or whatever it was he was following—could mean anything.
Robin tucked his tail between his hind legs. He had never heard of a wolf being afraid of his mate. Wouldn’t that mean the scent didn’t belong to his mate? Or maybe his mate was nuts and he somehow recognized it? Whatever the scent was—or to whomever it belonged—it didn’t smell like a wolf.

What if his mate was female? How would that work? He had never been into girls. He liked them as friends, but any kind of advances had him running for the hills. Robin was gay, period. No, the scent had to belong to a male wolf.

No, wait. He’d already ruled out another wolf.

The darkness settling around him didn’t help the queasy feeling in his stomach. Whichever direction he turned his head, something moved in the shadows, leaving him vulnerable and scared. The moon remained partially hidden behind the clouds, but even if the sky had been clear, the moonlight wouldn’t have been able to illuminate the forest ground properly. Or at least not in a way Robin wanted.

Suddenly he started. The moon? Oh hell! Shouldn’t he have been back hours ago? Surely Tim was already looking for him. Why hadn’t he realized hours had passed? Had his wolf taken over without him noticing? His father obviously had a point with not wanting Robin to go anywhere alone in his wolf form.

Robin threw his head back and closed his eyes before he howled at the moon, the sound of his voice echoing through the forest, silencing every other animal in his vicinity. This time someone answered him. Robin jumped at the sound of a roar at the other side of the creek.

The roar didn’t sound like a wolf; it was too guttural for that. After his initial jump, Robin stood frozen, shock waves rolling through his entire body.

Bio: Chris T. Kat lives in the middle of Europe, where she shares a house with her husband of many years and their two children. She stumbled upon the M/M genre by luck and was swiftly drawn into it. She divides her time between work, her family—which includes chasing after escaping horses and lugging around huge instruments such as a harp—and writing. She enjoys a variety of genres, such as mystery/suspense, paranormal, and romance. If there’s any spare time, she happily reads for hours, listens to audiobooks or does cross stitch.

Links:

Amazon
Blog: http://christikat.blogspot.com
Twitter
GoodReads
Facebook

 

 

Susan Mac Nicol talks “Love and Punishment”, Excerpt & Giveaway!

I’m so pleased to be able to host Susan Mac Nicol here today as part of her Love and Punishment blog tour with Pride Promotions! Join us for her post on finding the time to write in a busy life, as well as a trailer and more about her latest release! Be sure to enter the rafflecopter at the end of the post for a chance at one of Susan’s best-selling stories!

Love600x600BannerBlue

Here’s Susan!

I know this subject is close to Sarah’s heart too. That elusive work/life balance and how to keep the writing mojo going.

The bottom line is that there is no easy answer and what works for one may not work for another.  I started writing my first book in Feb 2012 when I was full time employed and working 14 hour days. I had a two hour commute to work each morning, and the same back. The one saving grace was that I was a fairly senior person in the chain of command and had a team of people working for me who were fairly self sufficient. A good team working with you makes all the difference when it comes to spending your time doing things you’d rather do, such as training,  attending high brow management meetings, and strategising and planning the future of the company. I also found I had time to actually sit back at lunch times and yes, sometimes during working hours, and concentrate on my writing. I didn’t really feel all that guilty doing this. I worked long hours, did more than what was expected of me, and at one time worked three months until 8 pm in the evening to get a big and very important project finished.

Of course I also worked after the day job till one o’clock every morning, worked weekends almost non- stop and totally neglected the family. So I was able to ‘churn’ out books at an alarming rate and wrote six novels in the space of as many months.

Then I left this company to take a position closer to home. The only problem was, I wasn’t really busy here. I looked around for more tasks to take on and when none were forthcoming and the company didn’t really seem to have much more for me to do -I wrote. Again, the evenings too were dedicated to this and weekends. I loved this busy, hectic time, passionate about my writing and enjoying every minute. I did start to slow down though, because as I honed the craft of writing, I took more time to think about what I was putting on paper rather than spewing it out like water from a hose.

I managed to write close to twelve books in less than an eighteen month period. The disaster struck. I was made redundant and was out of work for almost ten months. And the strangest thing happened. I found I could no longer write at the speed I had, that my motivation was low, my desire to write became a chore not a passion out-flowing of words as it had been before. I had to force myself to sit down and put words on the screen. Not only was this demotivating in itself, my heart broke because I thought I wasn’t the person I used to be. The writer who everyone made jokes about, doing fifteen to twenty thousand words a week. I had plenty of time now- why wasn’t I writing? I know times were hard, there were money troubles and the threat of losing my home so depression had well and truly set in. But still in my eyes that was no excuse.

Then a good friend, himself an author, told me what he thought it was. I’ve paraphrased him a little. “Sue,” he said. “It’s like a field – you go out there and you sow the seeds while the weather is good. You sit back, content, then reap what you’ve sown. You enjoy the fruit of your labours and then…then comes the fallow part, when the field needs to rest so it can gain back its energies and replenish itself. That’s where you are now and it’s all good. It needs to happen-that’s nature.’

I felt much better then because I could see that as maybe being the case. So to anyone out there who might be facing the same problem -take these words to heart, hold them close and remember things can only get better if you let them.

Love and Punishment2SMBook Name: Love & Punishment

Author Name: Susan Mac Nicol 

Cover Artist: Boroughs Publishing Group

Publisher: Boroughs Publishing Group

Blurb: On the search for a serial killer, Detective Anthony Parglietto and Flynn Parker learn that every man must make a choice: to kill, to live, to love.

FROM DARKNESS AND LIGHT

Someone is leaving a trail of bodies throughout London, and Detective Anthony Parglietto is determined to end the violence. Then he’ll return to the man he loves.

Tough, street-savvy, and used to dealing with lowlifes, Flynn Parker is the last person Anthony thinks he has to protect. Then the Bow-Tie Killer strikes close to home and the world turns upside down. Right is wrong, black is white, and a policeman might become a monster. But in the name of love, justice must be served. In the name of love, pain can be endured. In the name of love, a man can taste the very essence that defines him.

Watch the Love and Punishment Book Trailer here!

Excerpt:

Anthony walked down the hall. He reached the bedroom and gently pushed the door open. He saw Flynn framed in the light of the lamp shining from the lounge. He lay, apparently asleep, on the leather and wood divan Anthony had brought over from Italy. Its dark burgundy colour contrasted with what Flynn wore, which was nothing but a black thong lying stark against his pale skin. The divan was under the window. The bed covers were rumpled, as if Flynn had been sleeping. His robe was draped across the foot of the bed. Anthony moved towards the gleaming body of his supine lover.

Flynn’s face was turned away towards the back of the sofa. His dark hair was tousled and his arms stretched above his head to the right. He wore a blindfold. Anthony felt a stir in his groin seeing those lean, hairy legs stretched out wantonly, inviting him to run his hands up and over his groin. Even appearing asleep, Flynn had the power to excite him, to make Anthony hard and ready. He stepped towards him, watching the rise and fall of Flynn’s chest with their already hardened nubs. Anthony wanted to run his tongue over that chest, with its smattering of fine hair, to take Flynn’s nipples in his mouth and suck them until Flynn groaned in pleasure. As he got closer in the dim light he saw the hands with their bonds of silk. Green bonds lay dark against Flynn’s wrists, fastened to the wooden struts of the upright chair arm. His hands were tight fists. Anthony chuckled softly, a noise that sounded loud in the stillness of the room.

“Been waiting long?’ he whispered as he took off his jacket. ‘I tried to get home as soon as I could.”

Anthony knew the bonds would be loose so Flynn could break free if needed but he also knew he wouldn’t. It was the way the game was played.

Tour Dates/Stops:

8/29: The Hat Party, It’s Raining Men

9/1: My Fiction Nook, Tara Lain

9/2: MM Good Book Reviews, EE Montgomery, Sarah Madison Fiction

9/3: Love Bytes, A_TiffyFit’s Reading Corner

9/4: Parker Williams, Amanda C. Stone

9/5: Full Moon Dreaming

9/8: Hearts on Fire, Rainbow Gold Reviews

9/9: Jade Crystal, Book Reviews, Rants, and Raves

9/10: Prism Book Alliance, Fallen Angel Reviews

9/11: Book Reviews and More by Kathy, Book Suburbia

9/12: Havan Fellows, Elisa – My Reviews and Ramblings

9/15: Decadent Delights, 3 Chicks After Dark

9/16: Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Because Two Men Are Better Than One

9/17: Regular Guys, Hot Romance, Joyfully Jay

9/18: Louise Lyons, Gaylist Book Reviews

9/19: Cate Ashwood, Iyana Jenna

9/22: The Novel Approach, Crystal’s Many Reviewers

9/23: Inked Rainbow Reads, Wake Up Your Wild Side

9/24: LeAnn’s Book Reviews, Emotion in Motion

9/25: The Blogger Girls, Velvet Panic 

WillPride

Author Bio:

Susan Mac Nicol was born in Leeds, Yorkshire, in the United Kingdom. At the age of eight, her family moved to Johannesburg, South Africa where she stayed for nearly thirty years before arriving back in the UK in December 2000. Currently, She lives in the rural village of Bocking, in Essex, with her family.

Sue is a PAN (Published Author’s Network) member of Romance Writers of America and a member of the Romantic Novelists Association in the UK. Also, she is a member of a rather unique writing group, called the Talliston Writer’s Circle, which in itself has a story all of its own to tell. She has written nine novels, two novellas and a screenplay since February 2012 and clearly believes in keeping herself busy. She has found herself wanting to stay in the sub-genre that is M/M Romance so more can definitely be expected.

Her plan is to keep writing as long as her muse sits upon her shoulder. Her dream is to make enough money to give up the day job and get that big old house in the English countryside overlooking a river, where she can write all day and continue to indulge her passion for telling stories. 

Author Contact:

website: www.susanmacnicol.com

blog: susanmacnicol.wordpress.com

facebook: www.facebook.com/susiemax77

twitter: www.twitter.com/SusanMacNicol7

pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/susiemax777/pins/

linkedin: http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/susanmacnicol/48/a44/602

tumblr: http://www.susanmacnicol.com/my-tumblr-blog/ 

Rafflecopter Code:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Rafflecopter Prize: One copy of each of Double Alchemy and Double Alchemy: Climax.

Sales Links: www.BoroughsPublishingGroup.com

 

 

The Fab Five Redux: Or, What’s Coming Up Next?

Bradford PearsI got tagged by Charlie Cochet as part of the Fabulous Five meme, where authors answer four specific questions about their writing styles and then tag five more people to do the same the following week. Well, I got tagged by Anne Barwell the week before, and my answers haven’t changed since then, so I will link you to that post instead. :-)

In the meantime, what am I up to? Well, I’m still waiting for a cover and a release date for book 2 in The Sixth Sense series. Walk a Mile, the sequel to the FBI paranormal mystery Unspeakable Words, should be released sometime in early October from Dreamspinner Press. As part of the run-up to my own release date, I’m hosting a bunch of authors here: Susan Mac Nicol, Chris T. Kate, Bee Snow, Louise Lyons, Kindle Alexander, and Suki Fleet will all be featured in the coming weeks! Also, starting tomorrow, I’ll be one of over one hundred authors and publishers participating in the Fall Into Love Party on The Romance Reviews website. There are over a hundred prizes to be given away, and the grand prize is a $100 gift card! My Q&A will go up September 5th, and the answer is somewhere on this website–so be sure to take a look around for it!

Look of Eagles_resizedAs for today itself, I’m enjoying the holiday weekend here in the US. We’re having a cookout tonight; this morning I’m headed out for a trail ride. I hope you’re having a wonderful weekend, yourself! Stay tuned for the first author guest post: coming up tomorrow, Susan Mac Nicol will be stopping by as part of her Love and Punishment tour! be sure to check it out!

Let it Go is more than just a Disney song

Spring Kitty_resizedThursdays frequently wind up being frustrating for me. Ostensibly, they are my day off, but I typically have them so carefully orchestrated so that the whole day is spent rushing from one task after the other, for fear of being late and causing the whole house of cards to tumble down.

For the past six months, I’ve been spending a good bit of my Thursdays working off board for my two horses at the ‘retirement’ farm. My Old Man has been there for years now; this past spring, I had to move my no-longer-young mare there for financial reasons. Since caring for a community of horses, many of which are blind, lame, and need medication, is time consuming, I spend about 2 hours in the morning taking care of the herd–only to have to come back in the evening and do it again. My goal has always been to get out there early, hurry through my tasks, and rush home so I can do laundry, get groceries, and try to get some writing done before I have to head back out again. Thursdays are also the only night I can get to my yoga classes, and for the last month I’ve been skipping it. Well, that’s catching up with me, especially since I dropped all the other expensive manage-the-pain therapies I’d been doing for years.

I already had to skip the morning walk with the dog in order to meet a client before doing the first feeding, but today, instead of rushing through the chores, I decided, “Screw it. I’m taking my time.” Why? Well, the biggest problem about Thursdays is not how much I have to do but my attitude toward it. Far better to let go of the expectation of ‘getting something done’ and just be there in the moment doing what I’m actually doing.

BridleSo I took the time to appreciate the choreography of herd interactions–how the horses all know where they are supposed to go, and how doing things out of order upsets them. The last thing you want to do with a herd is let a submissive horse get pinned in a corner by a dominant one, so at feeding time, there is a lot of opening and closing gates so that the right horses end up in the right slots in the right order. It’s kind of beautiful when it all works smoothly. When you make a mistake, however, or one horse slips past you, ears pinned and teeth bared, there is the potential for serious injury (yourself included) if you don’t intervene right away.

I also took the time to appreciate the Old Man. He’s thirty years old now, and he no longer has any front teeth. He’s swaybacked, and despite eating $75 worth of grain every 2 weeks, I can’t keep any weight on him. But he is still happily puttering around the property, gumming grass and eating his mush–as much as I will give him twice a day. He still comes up to me looking for scratches and snuffling my pockets for treats. I’m sure if someone who didn’t know better saw him, they would accuse me of animal neglect, but he’s the equivalent of a 95 year old man and he looks it. I worry about him with the coming winter, but I also know he’s had wonderfully long life. I don’t regret a single moment since the day I bought him as a three year old for 89 cents a pound.

I also came to a decision today about the Mare Who Lived. This weekend, I’m going to bring my tack out to the farm. I’ve received permission to ride the fields out there. There’s no arena–just open fields–and my mare is a bit hot for just a simple trail ride, but I feel like I have to give this a try. If we survive the attempt, I’ll let you know. I’ve just put far too much of my life on hold to let *this* go. I look back at all the things I’ve let slip through my fingers waiting for ‘the right time’ or a better situation and I should have taken them when I could. When I had the chance.

There are other things we need to let go of, however. While I was taking my time at the farm this morning, I got a text from work: could I come in and see a patient that can’t wait until tomorrow? Well, there goes the carefully orchestrated day… but since I had accepted that I wasn’t going to rush around like a chicken with its head cut off, I was able to shrug, pick a time that would fit into the schedule, and say yes.Had the call come in before I’d made the decision not to rush, I probably would have been seething as I hurried through my chores, anxious to get home in order to salvage a little writing time.

All I needed was an attitude adjustment.

I know that attitude is everything, and I wish I could understand how to make that work for you when deep down you don’t believe you have what it is you’re faking. I can’t fake feeling beautiful and sexy when I don’t. I can’t fake confidence in my writing when I don’t have it. But I look at that picture of the cat in the flowers I posted above and recall how this little tomcat could prevent my 95 pound German Shepherd from leaving the house simply by sitting on the porch and staring at him through the door.

My boy would get to the door and back up, saying, “I can’t go out there. Dat bad cat’s out there.” And nothing I could do could persuade my dog it was safe to come out with me. The tom has since tamed down and been neutered and vaccinated. The dog will now walk past him without batting an eye, and occasionally will try to engage in play. The cat runs up to us when we’re outside and shoulders into the dog, taking a swat at his legs as the dog re-enters the house. They’ve reached a level of detente that they are comfortable with. But I am still amazed that a ten pound cat could stare down a dog ten times his size without even hissing.

That’s attitude. Or Catitude, depending on your POV. Because that cat was utterly confident of his ability to take on my dog and win–and my dog knew it. I think I could use a little Catitude. I’m a little too quick to listen to the negative self-talk because it is familiar, something I’ve heard my entire life: from family, from frenemies, but perfected by my self. I’ve been working on it. On dressing up for no particular reason, other than I know it makes me look good. Wearing something I like is empowering to me, be it a favorite necklace or a good pair of boots. That’s why I am so fond of International Walk Like Beckett Day. It’s not about how you look–it’s about how you think you look. And with little feel-good boosters, I can get there sometimes.

Writing is a different story. Or is it? I strongly suspect the only thing holding me back is my own negative self-talk. Chuck Wendig wrote this great blog post the other day about self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy, and it’s simply brilliant. This one line jumped out at me: And suddenly your doubt has the hunger and gravity of a collapsing star. Wow. Yes. Been there, done that, own the T-shirt, sing the song almost every day. Go read the rest of his post, it’s awesome.

But as I’m sitting here, just as earlier I contemplated the stupidity and necessity of trying to ride my horse again, it occurs to me that I’m my biggest roadblock. And I don’t have as much time left as I used to. So it’s kind of now or never, you know? I got an email last night from one of my friends who is an author–a ‘real’ author, someone who got published back when you had to have an agent and legacy publishing was the only way to go, and the walls were steep and topped with guards ready to pour boiling oil down upon your head for daring to approach the gate. I know, I’m a real author with a real press behind me, but there’s that doubt, you know? The one that says if not for the digital revolution, you’d be papering your walls with rejection slips. Anyway, in response to my saying I’m not good enough to write x-y-z, she tells me that I’m capable of writing anything I put my mind to, that is it the voices of little-minded people running down my confidence that’s holding me back. So… what if she’s right? What’s the worst that can happen if I assume she is? I’ve got nothing to lose by trying.

I’ve got two hours before I have to be at the next task on my list of things to do today. I can get a lot done in two hours.

Tennant You Should Be Writing

Fabulous Five Blog Post: What’s Your Writing Style?

I was invited by Anne Barwell to take place in the Fabulous Five Author Blog Hop. The idea is that we answer a specific set of questions and tag five more authors to do the same. The hardest part of the challenge has been finding someone who isn’t already doing this! The best part, however, has been reading what everyone is working on and what their writing process is like. So here I go!

UnspeakableWordscover1. What am I working on?

Hah, this might as well read ‘what should you be working on?’ I’ve just finished the sequel to my FBI/paranormal story Unspeakable Words. Walk a Mile will be coming out with Dreamspinner Press in early October. I’ve started the sequel to that story as well, tentatively titled Truth and Consequences, because I left things on a bit of a cliff-hanger and I didn’t want my audience to suffer too long! I had a good session with my critique group today, and realized that I’m going to have to separate my plot lines and go for a fourth story in the series—there’s just too much going on to wrap it up in three books! I’ve just finished the galley proofs on Walk a Mile, and am anxiously anticipating the cover reveal. You know how it is with covers: it’s like finding out the sex of your unborn baby. You’ll love your child no matter what, but you want to know, right? I’ll be sharing the cover just as soon as I get it, believe me!

I recently had a short story published as part of The Not Quite Shakespeare Anthology, also from Dreamspinner. I also have several WIPs that need some serious attention—the kind where you evaluate the story and decide if it is dead in the water or simply needs more time to simmer. :-) I have a contemporary story that deals with the difficult topic of job burnout and depression, and another that’s a Regency romp. I want to get back to writing some science fiction as well.

I am seriously considering stepping a toe in to the traditional romance market, so I’ve been doing a lot of reading as a result. To be honest, I’m not sure I can write a heroine for a traditional romance story. I suspect when I launch the Madison Dean line of stories, I’ll be writing the same kind of quirky, non-traditional main characters, mixing a little humor, a little drama, some hot, sexy times, and a touch of paranormal activity together into story that’s a little bit out there. I have plans for a new series of stories set in the 1950s, in which my main characters are undercover agents investigating paranormal events in a small Southern town. Think of it as Ward and June Cleaver meets Area 51. :-) I’m excited about the idea of centering a heroine in the post-WW2 era. She’s come back from the war in which she’s done exciting, dangerous things, and is expected just to re-assimilate her life as a 50’s homemaker. Her partner, paired with her because he is the science to her soldier, has secrets of his own, one of which is that he took a pilot as a lover during the war. Writing M/F romance is a big departure for me, as Sarah Madison writes almost exclusively in the M/M romance genre. This is important to me, however. These are stories I want to tell.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

The Boys of Summer400x600I frequently describe my stories as being ‘romances with a twist’. I find odd things interesting. I spend most of my time running around thinking, ‘hey, wouldn’t it be cool if…?’ What that means is that you’ll seldom find a straightforward romance among my stories. As you can see from above, I describe Unspeakable Words as a ‘FBI/paranormal story’. The Boys of Summer is a contemporary story, but it has a long historical sequence within it. Crying for the Moon is about a vampire who wants to live a ‘normal’ life. The fun of writing for me is to create a set of characters and put them in a crucible of sorts–to put them in hot water and see how strong they are. It may be an odd confession for a romance writer, but romance in and of itself is not the driving force behind my stories. I’m interested in the characters and how they interact. Falling in love is icing on the cake. I wouldn’t want to eat just the frosting, though, would you? There has to be some tart to balance all the sweet.

3. Why do I write what I do?

108267663_8Whew-boy. That’s a tough one. I wish I knew. I write stories that appeal to me. I’m aware they don’t work for everyone. Sometimes I wish my own thought processes were a little more mainstream.:-) I’m aware that I’m your basic mid-list author and that I will never rise to NYT bestseller status. The idea of writing outside the M/M genre is stemming from a desire to try my hand at something new, but also because I like the idea of challenging myself to create a heroine I can admire. One that goes against some of the common tropes. One of the reasons I enjoying writing M/M romance is because there is something incredibly liberating about writing from a male point of view. I love the fact that when two male characters come together in a romance, they meet on equal terms. No one is dominant or submissive to the needs of the other (unless that is part of the story). They each bring different things to the table. They each take turns rescuing or being the one needing to be rescued. The best part? While I may be called upon to defend my right as a straight woman to write M/M romance, I’ve never been taken to task for the portrayal of the characters themselves.

I *adore* strong female characters. Give me the Zoe from Firefly, or Peggy Carter from Captain America, or Kate Beckett from Castle. Creating a heroine of my own that I like and respect will be tricky, though. Heroines seem to come in for a lot more criticism than heroes. If she stands up for herself, she’s a bitch. If she is vulnerable, she’s weak. If she sleeps with the hero without a major show of reluctance and some resistance that needs to be broken down, she’s a slut. If she doesn’t sleep with the hero at all, she’s a tease. I think it is very difficult to write a three dimensional female character without inviting the world to heap coals of fire on her head for failing to meet the mythical standard of womanly perfection. You know that cell they had you study in biology class? With the nucleolus and the ribosomes and the Golgi bodies? Do you remember that in the fine print, the textbook said that no cell contained all the parts we were studying? They just put them all in this one imaginary cell so that you could learn all the different parts possible in a cell.

That’s how it is with heroines. It is ridiculous to assume they will contain ALL the possible characteristics that go into making the perfect heroine. No matter how you create her, someone’s going to hate what you’ve done. That’s okay. As long as I love her, I won’t mind.

So yeah. There are days when I dream of writing a ridiculously runaway bestseller like 50 Shades of Gray. Sadly, that kind of story doesn’t interest me as a reader or a writer. I’d die happy if I created a series heroine I adored, though.

Black ShoesAnd I love shoes. :-) So, creating my own kick-ass heroine makes sense, right? I can give her the impeccable style I don’t have.

4. How does my writing process work?

Well, it usually starts with a ‘what if’ idea. What if rooftop gargoyles came to life every night? What if they were fascinated by humans, read their books, observed their activities? Or what if a vampire decided to shun his old existence and attempt to live life as a moral? What if a hard-ass FBI agent accidentally touched an artifact and developed paranormal powers? I LOVE ‘what if’ questions. They take my mind on a wild journey where improbable dangers and cheesily romantic things happen. I play around with these ideas for a while, daydreaming over chores or before I drift off to sleep at night. Eventually the characters take form and I tone down the more ludicrous aspects of my fantasy. And lo, a story is born. :-)

So there you have it! Now I’m going to some fabulous authors to answer the same questions next week on their own blogs and tag more authors themselves. And so on, and so on. Sometime during the first week of September, check out the blogs of Raine O’Tierney, Whitley Gray, Elizabeth Noble, and Eden Winters–and find out who they are tagging, too!

Cover Reveal & Giveway: Americana Fairy Tale by Lex Chase

I love cover reveals! I’m anxiously awaiting my own cover for my soon-to-be-released M/M romance, Walk a Mile. Waiting for a cover is like waiting for the doctor to tell you if you’re having a boy or a girl: you’ll love your child no matter what, but the anticipation is killing you! Fortunately, you won’t have to wait for Lex Chase’s latest cover reveal! Better yet, you can pre-order the story AND if any of you are going to Gay Rom Lit,print copies of both Americana Fairy Tales and Chasing Sunrise qualify for free shipping to the convention so you can get Lex to autograph them there. Be sure to check out the rafflecopter giveaway  at the end of the post! AmericanaFairyTaleFS

 

Americana Fairy Tale
by Lex Chase

Genre: M/M Fairy Tale Urban Fantasy
Length: Novel, 340 Pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Blurb

Modern fairy-tale princess Taylor Hatfield has problems. One: He’s a guy. Two: His perfect brother Atticus is the reincarnation of Snow White. Three: Taylor has no idea which princess he is supposed to be. Four: Taylor just left his prince (a girl) at the altar. Despite his enchanted lineage, Taylor is desperate to find his Happily Ever After away from magic, witches, and stuffy traditions. Regrettably, destiny has other plans for him. Dammit.

When word reaches Taylor that Idi the Witchking has captured Atticus, Taylor is determined to save his brother. He enlists the help of rakish and insufferable Corentin Devereaux, likewise of enchanted lineage. A malicious spell sends Taylor and Corentin on a road trip through the kitschy nostalgia of roadside Americana. To save Atticus, they must solve the puzzles put forth by Idi the Witchking. As they struggle, Taylor and Corentin’s volatile partnership sparks a flash of something more. But princesses have many enemies, and Taylor must keep his wits about him because there’s nothing worse than losing your heart… or your head.

 

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Excerpt

 

Still flustered and confused, with no time to contemplate what had just come over him, Corentin tossed out his hand and gestured to the open road. “Do you see signs for I-85 North anywhere, genius?”

“Man, you’re really bitchy,” Ringo said, crossing his arms. “Have enough water today? Hydration is important.”

“Why should I trust you anyway? You could be getting us lost on purpose,” Taylor said. There was a sneer in his tone, and he glared in the rearview. “I’m not counting out we nearly died three seconds ago.”

“I was avoiding a tire in the road,” Corentin lied. “And I am not getting us lost.” His irritation grew as he tried to puzzle through everything that had just transpired. “I’m keeping my promise. You’re useless to me, so we’re going to go save your brother and kill Idi instead.”

“Woooooah,” Ringo said, holding up his hands in surrender. “You didn’t tell me this was Idi we were up against.”

“Someone fill me in,” Taylor said in a demanding tone.

Corentin gritted his teeth. Just like all princesses, Taylor was a pretty spoiled brat. “Idi is the Witchking,” Corentin said simply. He braced himself for the oncoming flurry of questions. Which he wouldn’t know how to answer in the simplest of terms.

“Idi’s bad juju,” Ringo said. “The worst of all witches.”

“And we’re going to kill him?” Taylor asked.

Corentin caught him arching a brow and making a doubtful expression in the rearview. “That’s the plan.”

“And save Atticus,” Taylor said.

That’s the plan,” Corentin repeated tersely.

“What’s in it for you?” Taylor asked. Something in his tone suggested his mistrust had hit its limit.

Before Corentin could come up with an expert lie, he was unfortunately saved by the GPS popping with sizzles and showering sparks over the cabin of the truck. Ringo zipped behind the passenger seat, and Taylor yelped in a half squeal. The truck fishtailed over two lanes and came dangerously close to clipping a car. Corentin acted fast, ripping the melting device from its dash mount and chucking it out the window. Taylor turned to look out the back window, and Corentin caught the bright orange flame as the thing exploded like a grenade.

When the spots cleared from Corentin’s eyes, he muttered a curse under his breath as the truck passed from a clear division of daylight into the dead of night. He clicked the headlights on and waited for his eyes to adjust.

“What the hell is going on?” Taylor asked, leaning up to the back window.

“Idi’s fucking with us,” Corentin said. “It seems like he’s trying to delay us as much as possible.”

“He knows we’re onto him,” Taylor said. “Way to go for discussing the super-secret squirrel plan out loud.”

“You know…,” Corentin said, glaring in the rearview. “You are a lot more pleasant when you’re passed out, snoring.”

Taylor huffed. “I don’t snore.”

“You bleat like a dying hyena,” Ringo said, then spit a giggle.

Taylor’s attention snapped to the pixie. “What is this? Asshole day?”

Corentin caught his eerie pink glare in the rearview.

“Dude, just get off at the nearest exit. We should be near Birmingham by now.”

“All right, all right,” Corentin said, and it was a pleasant reprieve that Taylor kept his mouth shut for more than five minutes. It didn’t last.

“Hey, hey!” Taylor said and pointed at a green-and-white interstate exit sign in the distance. “Talladega! Turn here. I can get us to Atlanta from here. We’re not that far off.”

Corentin guided the truck up the exit ramp and frowned. Something was wrong—flat-topped mesas came into view.

“What the…?” Taylor whispered and watched the rolling dunes of the Painted Desert.

“Uuuh…,” Ringo added and pressed himself to the windshield. The occasional cactus whisked by. “Wow, Talladega’s having a hard time with the drought this season,” Ringo said through their awestruck silence.

“That’s not a drought,” Corentin said softly.

Taylor squinted into the distance. “Does ‘Welcome to Arizona, the Grand Canyon State’ answer your question?”

Ringo pasted his face to the windshield. “How do you even see—” Ringo squeaked when the state sign of Arizona blurred by. “Oh my Storyteller!”

Corentin remained tense, trying to get his thoughts together.

Taylor, however, seemed to not be able to resist blurting out his opinion. “It seems this Eddie guy is doing more than just fucking with us.”

Idi,” Corentin said and realized how terse he sounded. “I think he wants to do more than just delay us.”

Ringo peeled himself from the windshield. He slapped his hands to his cheeks in horror. “He wants us to die out here?” he croaked.

“Panicking is not going to help,” Corentin said firmly.

“Easy for you to say,” Taylor snapped. “We just need to stop somewhere and ask for directions. We’ll get back on the right road in no time.”

Corentin sighed. Taylor’s hope was admirable, but Ringo was only half right. They would die out here, but only one of them. This was Corentin’s first trial. Now he was here, in the middle of nowhere, with Taylor to do with what he will. As soon as that was over, Idi would release him and he’d be on his way, but only until the next time Idi summoned him to do his bidding.

They drove on, again in a long-hanging silence. The interstate lay barren, not a single car or scrap of civilization to be seen. The pavement bore veins of black tar from years of shoddy repair. Corentin caught Taylor’s pink gaze in the rearview, and his feral eyes seemed to gleam in the dark.

The princess shifted from one side of the backseat to the other. He seemed to look for anything that would help. He cupped his hands around the glass and peeked out into the night. “I can’t see anything out there. It’s just desert,” Taylor muttered.

Ringo turned to Corentin, “How are we on ga—”

Don’t say it!” Corentin and Taylor shouted in unison.

Ringo held up his hands and pursed his lips. “Got it…. Uh… why?”

“I assume Eddie is listening in to everything,” Taylor said.

Idi,” Corentin corrected Taylor again. “I think sir princess is right. It seems the second we’ve said anything, something’s gone wrong.”

Ringo fluttered over to the dash and rested his chin in his palm. “You know… it could be all a coincidence….”

Corentin and Taylor glared angrily at Ringo in silence while the hum of the pavement whooshed as Corentin drove.

Ringo waved his hands. “By Titania’s tatas, guys, I was just kidding!”

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Giveaway

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About the author

 

LXC_FlamesLex Chase once heard Stephen King say in a commercial, “We’re all going to die, I’m just trying to make it a little more interesting.” She knew then she wanted to make the world a little more interesting too.

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

Lex is a pop culture diva and her DVR is constantly backlogged. She wouldn’t last five minutes without technology in the event of the apocalypse and has nightmares about refusing to leave her cats behind. She is incredibly sentimental, to the point that she gets choked up at holiday commercials. But like the lovers driven to extreme measures to get home for the holidays, Lex believes everyone deserves a happy ending.

Lex also has a knack for sarcasm, never takes herself seriously, and has been nicknamed “The Next Alan Moore” by her friends for all the pain and suffering she inflicts on her characters. She is a Damned Yankee hailing from the frozen backwoods of Maine now residing in the burbs of Northwest Florida, where it could be 80F and she’d still be a popsicle.

She is grateful for and humbled by all the readers. She knows very well she wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them and welcomes feedback.

You can find in the Intarwebz here:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LXChase
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Lex_Chase
Tumblr: http://lexiconofkittens.tumblr.com
Instagram: http://instagram.com/westbaylen
I love cover reveals! I am anxiously awaiting the cover for my own soon-to-be-released story, Walk a Mile, and I liken it to waiting to find out if you’re having a boy or a girl. You’ll love your child no matter what, but the anticipation is killing you, right?

Fortunately, you won’t have to wait any longer to see the cover for Lex Chase’s new story because here it is!

 

Ramping up for the release of Walk a Mile: Giveaways Galore!

UnspeakableWordscoverToday I got the galley proofs for Walk a Mile, which means I’m in the final stages of the editing process–yay! I am anxiously awaiting my first glimpse at the cover–I know it will be fantastic!  I’ve been fortunate to have the best names in the business create covers for me: Paul Richmond, Reese Dante, Ann Cain… I know that whatever the artist comes up with will be marvelous, but it’s a bit like waiting to find out if your baby will be a boy or a girl. You’ll be thrilled with either, but you want to *know*. :-)

 

Walk a Mile is the second in The Sixth Sense series, and is the sequel to Unspeakable Words. There has been a long delay between the first and second book in the series, so I think reminders are in order! Special Agents John Flynn and Jerry Parker are about as opposite as you can get. Parker is by the book because he can quote the book chapter and verse, while Flynn is the lone wolf who gets the job done by any means necessary. Sparks fly when the two men are assigned to a cold case and their investigative styles clash. Accidental contact with a mysterious artifact in a museum changes everything, forcing Flynn to rely on Parker while he tries to make sense of what’s happened to him. The artifact has bestowed inexplicable powers on Flynn, and now he must live with them.

Walk a Mile picks up six months later. Flynn’s extrasensory abilities are the elephant in the room, straining the relationship between the two men. The discovery of an artifact similar to the first one sends Flynn and Parker back to Flynn’s old stomping grounds in an effort to reverse the terrible ‘gift’ he’s been given. But they aren’t the only ones looking for the artifact, and there are secrets in Flynn’s past best left buried… Walk a Mile will be released in early October 2014 by Dreamspinner Press.

Tomorrow, I’m one of the authors participating in the Reader Appreciation Day over on the Sweet Spot. One lucky winner will receive a copy of Unspeakable Words. Here are the details:

RAD_08_2014_Banner_01When: Saturday, August 16th from 8 am – 8 pm Eastern Time

Where: The Sweet Spot Yahoo Group (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TheSweetSpotMM)The following authors have generously donated these books or other prizes:
Fall into LoveI’ve also got a blog spot over on Jessica Skye Davies’s  site tomorrow–do drop in and find out why it took me so long to write this sequel, as well as read an excerpt from Unspeakable Words. In the next month, I’ll be hosting authors Susan Mac Nicol, Kindle Alexander, Chris T. Kat, and Bee Snow here on this site, and I’ll be doing spots on Guys Like Romance, Too, Wade Kelly’s site, and Dawn’s Reading Nook, as well. Also in September, I’ll be participating in The Romance Reviews Fall into Love celebration with over 100 participating authors (and prizes to be won)! Grand Prize is a $100 gift card. :-)
I’m sure I’m leaving something out–it’s been that kind of day. But rest assured, I’ll probably be posting about all this again as I get a cover to reveal and a release date. I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to an early fall!
BookDonation_DSPsiteAlso, from now until the end of the month, Dreamspinner Press is donating a book to a LGBTQ Youth Center for every $20 spent at DSP! So now’s your chance to stock up on stories from your favorite authors while helping to donate to a worthy cause! What are you waiting for, hmmm?

 

 

The Difference between Being Depressed and Having Depression

Sad Man_flickrLike many people around the world, I was shocked and heartbroken over the news that Robin Williams was found dead in his home yesterday, probably as the result of suicide. It’s well-known that this brilliant actor and comic genius had battled substance abuse problems and severe depression for most of his life, and yet the news still stunned. It was as though someone punched you in the gut and you’re struggling to take the next breath as you process what just happened.

The outpouring of sympathy has been huge. Robin Williams’s work has touched the lives of so many people and nearly everyone I know had something to share about a favorite memory. One of the things many people have said was how sad it was that a man who brought so much laughter to so many people was in such pain he felt he had to end his life. Many people expressed stunned disbelief that a man who had accomplished so much and was beloved by many could take his own life. For many others, this was not as senseless as it would appear, however. Not for anyone who has ever truly suffered from clinical depression.

I make that distinction here because I truly believe there is a world of difference between being depressed and dealing with depression. They are two entirely different beasts. I’ve posted about this before, and discussed it a bit further last night on Facebook, too. For many years, I’ve lived with depressing circumstances, but 99% of the time, I would not consider myself as having depression. Being discouraged, yes. Disheartened, disillusioned, frightened for my future, exhausted by my present–all of these things. But there have been times when I slip into real depression, and believe me, it’s completely different. You can have a fantastic life–a successful career, people who love you, the respect of your peers–but when you are depressed, it is all dust and ashes. Not only does it feel like nothing you do matters, but it feels as though nothing will ever matter again. You look at everything you’ve achieved and think it is utter shit. People tell you otherwise–they tell you how brilliant you are and how much they love your work, and you simply don’t believe them. You don’t believe them because you know your work is crap and that everyone around you is so much better at what you want to do. All you can think of is the times you’ve failed:as a professional in the workplace, as an artist, as a lover, as a human being.

You look at the people who love you and you think they are only there out of pity. You can’t enjoy the things you love–just looking at them brings you to the brink of tears. You mourn the loss of things YEARS before that loss actually occurs. You beat yourself up for every failing, real or imaginary. You truly see no point in continuing to try. You can’t muster the energy to connect with friends who love you no matter what. You know you should get help but you can’t overcome the inertia of your depression. Why?  Because it tells you that nothing will make a difference, and that you will always feel this way, and worse, that you probably *deserve* to feel this way.

But here’s the important thing: DEPRESSION LIES TO YOU. You cannot, must never, ever listen to the lies it tells you when you are in the darkest moments. You aren’t utter shit. The people who love you do so because you are YOU–the person they love. And this black cloud hanging over your head, constantly misting lightly with misery, won’t last forever. Depression is as ephemeral as Marley’s Ghost in A Christmas Carol, and could just as easily be a bit of bad beef or a transitory biochemical imbalance.

For many people it is completely biochemical, for some it is deeply ingrained self-loathing reinforced by negative life experiences; for others it is a combination thereof. I’ve seen it onset as a result of trauma, due to illness or surgery, due to birth control pills, or just simply just because. I lived with people who were depressed and I thought I got it–but I didn’t *really* understand it until one day I slipped off the tightrope myself. The important part is to recognize it for what it is (as J. K. Rowing so aptly depicted them): A Dementor that will suck all the joy right out of you. You need to find your own Patronus spell to combat it–and it’s different for every person.

Many artists struggle with depression, and I think it may be more common in the creative/artistic personalities because the very thing that allows our imagination to take flight in wondrous, marvelous ways is the same that can bind ourselves with chains that drag us down.

Fellow author Elin Gregory had this to say about depression on Facebook (reposted with permission):

I feel it’s like having a broken leg in your brain. If someone put a lovely cuddly puppy in your arms you’d smile sadly and think “best not get too attached, they only live about 12 years” and you feel that’s perfectly reasonable. Then there’s also an internal commentary that’s saying ‘could you be any more pathetic?’ and piling on the guilt and self loathing. But unlike a broken leg with a nice big cast covered in drawings of dicks, if you’ve got the right sort of friends, so nobody will expect you to run upstairs or a marathon or whatever, depression doesn’t show. There’s nothing to indicate that the barista who smiles as she gives you your coffee woke up this morning and thought ‘dammit I didn’t die in my sleep’. The only thing to do with it is to keep on carrying on because one day you hope it will go away and you can start enjoying life again.

Autumn H_resizedI can completely sympathize with her words here. I find myself saying, “This will be my last horse. This will be my last big dog. When the cats go, I won’t get any more.” In part because I’m conscious that I am getting older and I need to be thinking of scaling back but in part because I’m not sure I can take the heartbreak of little losses anymore. Of wasting the years that I have with my beloved pet right there in front of me crying over the losses to come. My dog doesn’t say, “Hey, my muzzle is turning gray and I’ve got cataracts, I’ve only got a short time left with you.” He says, “Can we go on a walk now? It’s stopped raining! Well, okay, maybe it hasn’t stopped raining but we can walk in the rain, so can we go on a walk now? It will be fun!” But that isn’t how I see things sometimes.

I would highly encourage everyone to read The Spoon Theory by Christine Miserandino. This blog post isn’t about depression per se, but it is about having an invisible illness and having to choose how much energy to expend on specific tasks on any given day. “You don’t look sick” is something many people with depression hear all the time, and I’ve found the post to be an excellent explanation of what living with a chronic illness is like.

My good friend Finn Wightman, the author of such insightful pieces as A Letter To My Son on Consent, had some illuminating things to say on the subject of depression when soccer phenomenon Gary Speed committed suicide in 2011.

I was on twitter when the news broke, and his name became the top trend almost instantly. In the first hour, when no cause of death was known, the tributes were fulsome (as well they should be). Then the confirmation came that he had taken his own life. Tweets took the expected turn: “we saw him yesterday afternoon – he wasn’t depressed!” “He didn’t look ill!” And of course, the perennial favourite, “he had everything, why would he take his own life.”

He did, he had everything you would think a person could want in life. Everything. So if that’s true, how much uncontrolled despair must have overwhelmed his mind that night for him to decide the world would be better off without him?

We think we’ve come so far in the way society understands mental illness, and then we see the open, honest, unfiltered thoughts of individuals and realise we haven’t come far at all. Why can’t we see that something desperate must have been going on in his mind that night? As someone who lives with unipolar disorder, takes medication to control it every day, and has suffered through suicidal thoughts and desires in the past, the comments that failed to understand were deeply upsetting. Then came the abusive, critical comments calling him a coward and a fool. That was the point that I decided it was better if I turned off the tv and got off twitter. I felt triggered, and was shaky and weepy for most of the next 24 hours. In fact, it’s upset me so much that I had to let it out of my head somewhere.

It’s scary enough to see how cruel and quick to judge the public are when they’ve never been there themselves. It’s worrying that there have been a plethora of campaigns, newspaper articles, books and TV programmes aimed at expanding the public’s understanding of mental illness, and yet so many can’t grasp that mental states are still physical states, and that the illness part of mental illness is not something to be shrugged off by an act of will. Asking what a person ‘has to be depressed about’ makes as much sense as asking a diabetic what they have to ‘be diabetic about’. It’s not something we chose; it’s something we manage.

So why did Gary Speed’s tragic death shake me (and a number of fellow sufferers) up so much? It’s because he had ‘everything to live for’. It’s because he smiled and laughed and joked on my TV screen and then went home to his family and their beautiful house – and then the black dog came in the night and not one jot of the everything-he-had-to-live-for could fight it off.

It’s the chill of recognition that shivers across you. You’ve come home at the end of a day that was soft with smiles only to find yourself suddenly in the dark. You’ve sat under the same roof as everyone you love and wondered if the world wouldn’t be better of without you. So far you’ve fought the black dog off by daylight –  although some nights it’s been a close run thing.

Then you wake up one morning, turn on the news,  and you’re confronted with the awful truth of living with a mental illness: a lot of us don’t survive. And you can’t help but wonder what was the final straw? And you can’t help but think ‘will the night come when that voice inside that says, “the world would be a better place without you” will be too loud to ignore’? And most of all, you feel a leaden dread in the pit of your stomach.

Because if it can happen to Gary Speed, with Everything To Live For, then why not you?”

Sad Silouette_pixaby public domainAt the time that she wrote this, I was one of the people shaking my head and saying, “But he had everything to live for!” After I read her post, I got it intellectually, but not emotionally. Not until someone I care deeply about looked at me with all expression removed from his face and said, “You don’t understand. It’s not about what you have. It  doesn’t work like that.”

Even then, I didn’t really get it until I found myself in that dark pit for the first time. I get it now. I wish I didn’t. Moreover, I wish with all my heart that the people I love didn’t have to struggle daily with battle not to give in to the voice that lies to them. I don’t want to lose anyone else.