More Stellar Reviews for Holiday House Swap: Book Tour & Giveaway!

Are you guys ready for the holidays yet? I’m nowhere close to being ready! I’ve still got some shopping to do, and some holiday prep as well.

blog-hop-graphicIf you’re here looking for the link to Divine Promotions Christmas Blog Hop–click on the link. Great memories, tasty recipes, and some fantastic prizes–go check them out!

Looking for that list of holiday stories past and present I compiled? The link is here. If you’re an author with a holiday story, feel free to leave your link in the comments there!

Fool'sGold-400x600Did you hear that Fool’s Gold and Truth & Consequences both came in as Runners Up in their categories in the 2016 Rainbow Awards? To celebrate, for a limited time you can grab a copy of Fool’s Gold for only 99 cents on Amazon and All Romance ebooks.

I’m also up for Author of the Year over at Gay Book Reviews! I don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning, but it’s a great honor just to be on the same page with the greats in this genre. If you’d like to vote for me, the link is here. Authors are listed in alphabetical order by first name and you can vote once a day until the polls close.

holidayhouseswapfs_v2But if you’re here because the title of the post drew you in, yes, I have received some very nice reviews for Holiday House Swap! Do check them out and enter the Rafflecopter giveway as part of the tour!

REVIEWS

Have at it–and have fun!

Divine Promotions Christmas 2016 Blog Hop & Giveaway!

blog-hop-graphicWelcome to Divine Promotions 2016 Christmas Blog Hop! Be sure to enter the Rafflecopter at the end of this post and go back to the main page to hop to the next blog on the list! If you’d like to be entered in an individual giveaway here on this site, leave a comment below after reading this post. 🙂

The holidays were always a special time when I was growing up. My parents worked hard, and though we decorated the house and tree, we weren’t big on parties or celebrations. The one thing we always did was pile into the car after breakfast and drive to my grandmother’s house. There the entire family clan would gather from all over the country. My grandmother would have been cooking and baking for days, and the aroma of our favorite dishes greeted us on entering the house, as much a part of the decorations as the handmade ornaments on the tree or the small panoramas that came out of storage to sit on the mantle or the end tables.

Growing up in a house of utilitarian cooking, where food was considered mere fuel for the body, we loved going to Granny’s house for the holidays! Turkey roasted to perfection, pots of mashed potatoes and green beans (cooked in the true Southern style, until they were limp and had given up), candied yams, dressing and gravy made from the turkey, yeast rolls brushed with butter, tiny ham biscuits, and bite-sized sausage balls. And then the desserts! Pumpkin, pecan, and chocolate silk pies, applesauce cake, pound cake and coconut cake. Something for every preference and plenty to take home afterward. We ate until we could hold no more, opened presents, and watched a movie while the grownups talked. Bliss.

After my grandparents passed, much of the magic went out of the holidays. Work schedules and tight finances frequently prevented us from gathering as a clan, and truth be told, without the love and warmth of my Granny’s house, it was hard to make the trip. The old recipes were lost, as well as the experience as to how to make it just right.

holidayhouseswapfs_v2

 

I think that’s one of the reasons I adore holiday stories and movies. I love the unabashed sentimentality of the tales, the possibility of magic, and the promise of true love. I compiled a list of holiday reads past and present earlier this month–if you’re an author with a holiday story, feel free to leave a link in the comments! If you’re a reader, enjoy this great compilation of holiday stories! I also have a holiday story coming out on Dec 21–the Holiday House Swap Book Tour is ongoing until 12/16 and you can pre-order it now from your favorite outlets.

Amazon:  http://amzn.to/2gT2a1o

Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/2gOUf6c

Amazon AU: http://amzn.to/2gOVv9w

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2gGsV9P

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2gfbQDo

Dreamspinner Press: http://bit.ly/2gIcJ8B

All Romance: http://bit.ly/2fS1JDy

sausage-balls-resized-for-webIn the meantime, I’d like to share with you the recipe for my grandmother’s famous sausage balls–you can google this online and get all sorts of variations but the key is in choosing high quality ingredients, but also in the mixing.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Mix 3 cups Bisquick baking powder

1 lb of pork sausage (flavor of your choice)

10-16 oz of shredded Cheddar Cheese (the sharper the better–I prefer Vermont White)

1 TB of water (as needed to mix ingredients)

Now other recipes will tell you to add milk or additional seasonings, but this is the way we’ve always done it. I recommend placing the sausage (I prefer Jimmy Dean’s or Gunnoe’s in the original flavors, though the hot makes a nice change) in a large mixing bowl and adding the cheese and Bisquick a little at a time. MIXING THOROUGHLY IS CRUCIAL. Work that flour and cheese into the sausage, adding more until all the ingredients have been mixed. Most of the time, a small amount of water (1-2 TB) will be needed to work the flour into the meat.

The next key step is rolling the sausage/flour/cheese mix into tight little balls in the palm of your hand. This further mixes the ingredients–too big a ball and they won’t bake well. Too small and they will burn. It should be smaller than a golf ball, and fit nicely between your palms as you roll.

Bake for 20-25 minutes on a non-greased baking sheet or until golden brown on the outside and NOT PINK on the inside. These taste even better reheated the next day and are great for parties. They also freeze well, so we tend to make a big batch at Thanksgiving and have the rest at Christmas. Oh, what am I saying? They never last until Christmas–we have to make more!

Be sure to leave a comment here telling me what’s your favorite holiday food (and why), along with your email address if you’d like to enter to win a reader’s choice ebook from my backlist! And check out the Rafflecopter as well–some great prizes here!

3D fun face Charms Bracelet – 3 pieces (image attached)
18 K Gold Filled Crystal Pearls Heart Party Dress Jewelry Set (image attached)
$10 Amazon Gift Card from RAM PA Group
18k-gold-filled-crystal-pearls-heart-party-dress-jewelry-set
5 Days Promo Tour from Divine Promotions
Dreamspinner Press Vouchers
$5 gift voucher from Pride Publishing
Ebook of your choice from Author Grein Murray
Swag donated by Author Grein Murray (only available to those living in the USA)
Ebook of your choice from Author Sean Kerr (from his series Dead Camp)
Ebook – The Hard Boys: Alien Abduction (Case #1) from Ian Cadena

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Here are the blogs taking part: be sure to visit them all and enter the Rafflecopter along the way! And Happy Holidays to everyone!

Below you will find all the blogs taking part

🎅🏻 IrishdaisylovesRomance – https://dawn84blog.wordpress.com/2016/12/08/🎄-christmas-blog-hop-2016-🎄/
🎅🏻 Tempeste O’Riley – http://tempesteoriley.com/blog

CyberMonday sales and a Holiday Giveaway!

holidayhouseswapfs_v2Good news–you can get most of my titles for some great discounts today only!

Dreamspinner’s Thanksgiving Weekend sale winds down at midnight EST–but until then, you can get all my Dreamspinner titles for 35% off, including pre-orders on the fun Christmas story, Holiday House Swap!

All Romance eBooks is having a 50% rebate on many of my titles today only, including the bestseller, Fool’s Gold!

And I’m holding a contest until Dec 1st, inviting readers to share with us what says “holidays” to them, in order to be entered for an e-book from my backlist.

Authors: I’m compiling a list of holiday stories to be posted in the first week of December so share your links with us here to get on the list! I’ll be checking it twice (heh-heh) and posting the master list this coming weekend. If you love holiday stories as much as I do, you’ll wan to check this out!

How can you resist a sale! I’m a firm believer in the rule that says every time you buy gifts for other people, you should get a little something for yourself. Never heard of that rule? Well, you should follow it anyway. Besides, books make great Christmas gifts!

blog-hop-graphicI’ve also got a fab book tour coming up in December for Holiday House Swap, and I’ll be participating in Divine Magazine’s Holiday Blog Hop too! Definitely the ‘most wonderful time of the year’ around here. Be sure to stay tuned and join in all the fun and great prizes, too!

Grace Duncan’s Book Tour & Giveaway: Acceptance

Just a bit of housekeeping before I turn things over to Grace–if you’re looking for Divine Magazine’s Summer Blog Hop post, it’s here!

Today, Grace Duncan is here to share with you about her latest release, Acceptance. Be sure to check out the Rafflecopter Giveaway down below!

Hey, thank you so much to Sarah for letting me take up space today! We’re winding down the Acceptance blog tour, but the giveaway will be live for a while yet and you can always go back and catch what you missed. There’s a link below the tour graphic that’ll get you to a page with the rest.

Acceptance_headerbanner

So, at Drops of Ink and Tempeste O’Riley’s blog, I shared a couple of conversations–one via text and one via email–between Quincy and Miles during the couple of months between the epilogue in Patience and the opening chapter of Acceptance. Today, I’d like to share an IM conversation with you between them.

IM1

IM2

IM3

IM4

IM5

I hope you enjoyed Quincy and Miles’s conversation! To all those who followed the tour, thank you! Be sure to catch the last few stops and go back to read the rest, if you missed them.

Be sure to follow the tour here: http://www.grace-duncan.com/acceptance-blog-tour

acceptance--blog-tour

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

AcceptanceFS_halfsize

Blurb:

Dr. Miles Grant acknowledges that his destined mate could be either gender even though his bisexuality cost him his family and his pack. Luckily he found the Forbes Pack, who happily accept him just as he is. What he never counted on was finding his mate in Pittsburgh or for his mate to be another species entirely—a cat!

Quincy Archer isn’t just any jaguar shifter. He is the heir to the leadership of his pride. Destined mates are nothing but legend to the nearly extinct and generally solitary jaguars, and Quincy certainly never expected to find one for himself, much less a male… or a wolf.

However, finding each other and coming to terms with their species is the least of their worries. Quincy is expected to select a proper female mate, father a cub, and take his place as heir to the pride. Except Quincy refuses, having no interest in women or leadership and knowing he isn’t right for it. But his father will stop at nothing—not even attempting to kill Miles—to get his way. Quincy and Miles must overcome many obstacles to stay together as the destined mates they’re meant to be.

Dreamspinner Press: eBookPaperbook
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/acceptance/id1126559228?mt=11
Amz: https://www.amazon.com/Acceptance-Forbes-Mates-Book-3-ebook/dp/B01H8325Q8
B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/acceptance-grace-r-duncan/1123943161?ean=9781634774055
Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/acceptance-19
ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-acceptance-2060133-341.html

 

About Grace

Grace Duncan grew up with a wild imagination. She told stories from an early age – many grace_nohateof which got her into trouble. Eventually, she learned to channel that imagination into less troublesome areas, including fanfiction, which is what has led her to writing male/male erotica.

A gypsy in her own right, Grace has lived all over the United States. She has currently set up camp in East Texas with her husband and children – both the human and furry kind.

As one of those rare creatures who loves research, Grace can get lost for hours on the internet, reading up on any number of strange and different topics. She can also be found writing fanfiction, reading fantasy, crime, suspense, romance and other erotica or even dabbling in art.

Find Grace here:

WebsiteFacebookTwitter ◊ Youtube

New Release by Sarah Madison: Fool’s Gold

It’s here! It’s finally here at last! The buy links for Fool’s Gold went live this afternoon. I’m sure my constantly refreshing the Amazon page hurried things along. 🙂

If you’re looking for Divine Magazine’s Summer Blog Hop, go here. Great prizes, so you should check it out!

As for Fool’s Gold, I decided to go with KDP select and Kindle Unlimited on a trial basis. I’ll let you know what I think in a couple of months. In the meantime, you can borrow it through KU or order it from Amazon. If you prefer a print copy, you can get it here. Hey, if you run into me at a convention and you have one of my books with you, I’ll be happy to sign it for you, too!

I’m planning a book tour, which will hopefully coincide with the beginning of the Summer Games in Rio, so be sure to come back (or follow my blog) for more updates as they come. Fool’s Gold is a story of loves loves and second chances, set in the exciting world of competitive sport horses. It’s also a love letter to my own sport, eventing, and all the horses I’ve ever known. 🙂

In the meantime, the dogs managed to get themselves skunked tonight, so I’m off to bathe… well, everything.

Fool'sGold-400x600

Blurb: Eight years ago, Jake Stanford had it all: a spot on the U.S. Olympic Equestrian Team and the love of his life, Rich Evans. A tragic accident wipes out everything in the blink of an eye. Hard work and sacrifice get him another shot at Olympic Gold, but only if he puts his past behind him and agrees to work with Rich again.

Bound by secrets he cannot share, Rich was forced to give up Jake eight years ago. Now he has a second chance to help Jake realize his dreams. But the secrets that drove them apart haven’t changed, and Rich must face them or risk losing Jake forever.

Divine Magazine’s 2016 Summer Blog Hop & Giveaway!

summer-2016-blog-hopI’ll be the first to admit, I’m not really a fan of summer. To me summer is unbearable heat and humidity, mosquitoes and ticks, poison ivy and sweat. I don’t enjoy fireworks and I’d just as soon eat my picnic food indoors to avoid the gnats and ants. Summer is when I consider chopping off all my hair, until I remember that I look like an angry hedgehog with short hair, and believe me, that’s not a good look on me.

 

 

 

Melting Cat

Right now, it’s so hot, even the cats have melted! 🙂 You can see why I’m tempted to cut off all my hair.

So why, you might ask, am I participating in Divine Magazine’s Summer Blog Hop?

It’s a good question. I suspect the answer is I love blog hops, but I also love seasons. I’m fortunate to live in an area that has definitive seasons. Each one comes in its turn on a fairly predictable schedule. I love it it when the cold mud and snow of winter evolves into budding blossoms and balmy mornings where you don’t need that heavy coat. I adore autumn–that first time the temperatures drop twenty degrees, or the sound of dry leaves skittering across the pavement. I spend countless hours photographing my dogs in the snow, and I love hunkering down in front of a fireplace with a good book and a cup of hot chocolate.

Summer, I mostly endure.

But it has its moments as well. When I was a child, summer meant we went off to stay with our grandparents for a good bit of the season. Spending the summer with the grandparents was always fun because though there were still rules, the rules were different and somehow easier to follow. Summer meant fresh vegetables grown in their garden and cooked as only my grandmother could do. It meant staying up past my bedtime to watch my grandparents’ favorite television shows–programs we’d never be allowed to view at home. It was bowls of Cheerios as a bedtime snack, and up at sunrise to catch the bus for Vacation Bible School.

Leaping H_FBThat’s why we were sent–because of the wonderful Bible School. I know what you’re thinking, but this was Bible School done right. We spent an hour each morning with our lessons, and then the rest of the day we swam like fishes at the church lake. Every afternoon, we’d pile back into the bus, sunburnt and with ravenous appetites, to head home. On rainy days, we did crafts under wide pavilions, the damp misty air blowing cool on our skins. Or we played cards: Go Fish, Rook, Hearts, Jack-Change-It–I learned them all. I learned how to play chess, too–albeit badly. And some kind teenager, whose name I’ve forgotten, taught me how to swim as well.

There was no pressure. There was no push. It wasn’t a stepping stone to a better school or a rung in the ladder of personal achievements. The best part of it all was that the religious teaching didn’t come loaded with so much of what I see and hear now–or perhaps I just wasn’t aware of it then. It felt simple, however, without judgement or anger. More New Testament and less Old. And the rest of the time, we were allowed to be children.

I think I’d enjoy summer if it was like that again!

There is a GREAT giveaway going for this blog hop–some participants are doing an individual giveaway but the Grand Prize has it all: jewelry, a promotional tour, and gift cards from Dreamspinner Press! To enter the Rafflecopter for the Grand Prize, you must click on the link and leave a comment on the page there. As part of my giveaway here, if you leave a comment telling me what your favorite thing to eat on a hot summer day is, I’ll randomly select someone to win their choice from my backlist. Also, I just released my latest M/M contemporary romance–Fool’s Gold!

Fool'sGold-400x600

Now Available on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited: Just in time for the 2016 Summer Games!

Blurb: Eight years ago, Jake Stanford had it all: a spot on the U.S. Olympic Equestrian Team and the love of his life, Rich Evans. A tragic accident wipes out everything in the blink of an eye. Hard work and sacrifice get him another shot at Olympic Gold, but only if he puts his past behind him and agrees to work with Rich again.

Bound by secrets he cannot share, Rich was forced to give up Jake eight years ago. Now he has a second chance to help Jake realize his dreams. But the secrets that drove them apart haven’t changed, and Rich must face them or risk losing Jake forever.

So be sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or sign up to follow the blog and newsletter (links on the right side bar here) to get all the latest news on the newest releases.

The Summer Blog Hop Lineup is right here for easy access, too!

 

 

Sex Positivity Blog Hop: Why Sex Shouldn’t be a Dirty Word

spbhbadge (2)Hello and welcome to the Sex Positively Blog Hop, the brainchild of fellow author, Grace Duncan. For the next two weeks, you’ll be hearing from some of your favorite romance authors sharing their positive views on sexuality, as opposed to the negative spin we get from most lawmakers, the media, and ‘concerned citizens.’ For the entire list of participants in the hop according to dates posting, check out this link here. There is a link at the bottom of the post for the websites themselves.

I think this is a terrific idea! I believe that what two consenting adults choose to do in the privacy of their own home should be just that: private. And I believe we have the right to read and watch and enjoy what we like, as long as all parties involved are consenting adults as well. You like to read Dinosaur Erotic Fiction? Okay, not my thing, but I can respect that it might be yours. It’s not my place to judge you on it. It is certainly not my place to try and have it removed from Amazon. You think 50 Shades of Grey is the best book ever? Well, I disagree, but I’m not going to try and get it banned from the local library or condemn your morality because you enjoyed it. Likewise, I would not expect you to get your knickers in a twist because I write male on male romance, or because one of my friends loves what she calls ‘tentacle porn.’

Why do so many people put their noses in your private life? There’s a small business near my house that sums it up pretty well, I think. Painted on the side of their building is a picture of a large, ugly city, a modern day Sodom and Gomorrah. The painting quotes a Bible verse about how we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God: and then goes on to state that unless we put to death the sinners, our nation will fall. Um, remind me not to take my business there, okay? But it illustrates a real problem with the viewpoints of some religions: it’s not enough to say, “My religion forbids me to eat doughnuts, therefore I won’t.” It’s the religions that state, “Doughnuts are the gateway to hell and everyone who eats doughnuts are sinners and we must BAN all doughnuts or else our mortal souls are in jeopardy, so prevent access to doughnuts NOW” that are the problem.

Daisy DukeSex is a weird beast when it comes down to it. We revere it in advertising, as long as it follows certain rules. Daisy Duke had to wear panty hose in order to get her miniscule shorts past the censors on the Dukes of Hazzard, and yet Catherine Bach’s poster of the Daisy Duke character sold over five million copies. There’s no doubt, sex sells. When it comes to products, to television series or movies, or novels, sex is often a big part of the marketing campaign, even if there is little sex in the actual item being promoted.

And yet sex is strangely taboo, as well. I’m sorry, but I think it is a bit strange that we here in the US have a high tolerance for blood and gore in action films, but showing a little bit of flesh can move a film into a restricted viewing category. It’s the push-me pull-you reaction on the part of the public to sex that is so puzzling and frustrating to me. Especially when it comes to how women are portrayed.

Redhead bondageA few months ago, I got into a discussion about tropes in traditional romantic fiction with a friend of mine, Pir8fancier, on Live Journal. I’d read a scene from a best-selling novel from a famous author, and due to an unfortunate choice of words, I’d mistakenly assumed that the new lover had handcuffed the woman to the bed when she showed signs of leaving. My misinterpretation of the scene threw me right out of the story. I was already having issues with the scene as it was: the heroine had a history of sexual abuse, and there were elements in the scene that made me very uncomfortable, as the hero refused to back off, but persisted in his pursuit of the woman. One of the things I’d been enjoying up until this point was the fact that the heroine was only interested in the man for sex. She only wanted to scratch an itch. I had found it to be a refreshing take in a story from the woman’s POV, and was pleased to see it. But then, out of nowhere, came what I perceived to be dubious consent.

Pir8’s take on this was interesting. The heroine, who’d previously shown herself to be tough and uncompromising, was having her role flipped on her. She said, “It sounds as if the author is actually punishing the heroine for wanting to be sexual and not be the submissive little sex slave that she should be. That her role is to be the woman who is enthralled with the man, NOT with his sexual organ. That sex for sex’s sake is bad and she has to be put in her place. PHYSICALLY. All of her sexual agency in this scene is taken away from her. He physically overpowers her. She cannot direct the sex. She is there for his pleasure. And naturally because this is fiction, his pleasure becomes her pleasure. Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be? We can’t have our own pleasure, we can’t please ourselves. We have to be passive and let the man please us.

I know that this type of scenario plays into a lot of our shame about sex, which society promotes big time, and it is no surprise that this would appeal to many women because it absolves us of the burden of enjoying sex. We are helpless! It just happened! I had nothing to do with it!

I cannot accept this sort of passivity any longer. I want my heroines to embrace their sexual selves.

THIS. I want to draw hearts and flowers around this statement and decorate it with glitter because YES.

GOP PLan for WomenThe discussion turned to the conflict between the sexualization of pre-teens, while constantly sending out messages that women need to be passive sexual partners. It was Pir8’s opinion that this conflict was possibly behind many of the self-destructive behaviors such as cutting and anorexia. And it is not just limited to women any longer, though the stigma of being a ‘slut’ is still actively being championed by the Far Right. For the heterosexual male, being sexually active is more likely to be viewed with pride than with shame or name-calling, and yet more and more we’re seeing legislation being passed to limit access to birth control measures, or as some people on the Right refer to them, “Whore Pills.” When the Hobby Lobby debacle came down, I had people on Twitter telling me they didn’t want their tax dollars going to pay for some slut’s whoring around. Funny, we don’t see any bans on insurance companies selling Viagra or performing vasectomies, now do we?

But I digress.

I agree with Pir8fancier. We have a heavy media presence pushing sexuality on one hand, and a social presence condemning it on the other. Yes, the message is definitely be sexual and get punished for it–or don’t be sexual and be ostracized and turned into a pariah. I can remember driving up to pick up my younger sister from her high school and being treated to a gauntlet of stares, nasty comments, and laughter as I waited for her. When I mentioned the reactions I’d received while simply waiting to pick her up, she looked me up and down and said, “Well, if you’d bothered to do your hair and wear nice clothes, they’d be the ones jealous of you.”

I stared at my then 15-year-old sister and asked, “Why would I give a rat’s ass about what some teenagers think of me?”

She didn’t get it. That was the message she’d gotten from her peers and from society around her was, “Look the part but don’t act the part.”

Which is sad. It’s sadder, too, that online misogyny and slut-shaming seems to be growing in strength rather than diminishing.

What can we do about it? Well, for one, we can stop buying into society’s playbook. We need to teach our kids not to be ashamed of their bodies or their sexuality. We need to do away with the ineffective (and largely American religious-based groups) abstinence only programs and teach proper sex education in schools again. We need to talk to our teenagers about consent (an excellent open letter written here–but be prepared, the comments are just as ugly and inflammatory as you could expect). We need to talk to our kids about protecting themselves from inappropriate sexual contact without making them fear and revile ALL sexual contact. We need to stop making sex a selling point in advertising.

ink pen_wikipedia_orgI think the biggest task, however, lies in the hands of the writers. Yes, we writers. The pen is mightier than the sword, after all. 🙂 The writers are always on the forefront of changing society’s perception of accepted mores. It’s writers telling stories about same-sex couples finding their happily-ever-after or introducing GLBTQ characters into television shows that has been instrumental in increasing both the visibility and acceptance of this community, as well as championing their rights. Star Trek put a black woman in an officer’s position on the bridge of a spaceship, taking her out of the traditional role of a maid for the first time ever. Star Trek also gave us the first interracial kiss (even if it was The Aliens Made Them Do It) and then decades later on Deep Space Nine, the franchise gave us this scene, in which Jadzia Dax is faced with the woman she was once married to–but as a man.

 

 

One of the things I love about this scene is that the love is between two characters–not their external bodies. Not who they are on the outside, but who they are on the inside. The taboo in the relationship is not that they are both women now, but that Trill society forbids romantic relationships between former hosts from past lives.

We need to keep breaking the ground on what is ‘acceptable’ in terms of romantic fiction and refuse to play into the old tropes where a woman had to be forcibly overcome during sex so that she wouldn’t come across as a slut, or that a man had to come over all alpha and dominate his partner in order to be seen as a ‘proper’ romantic lead.

It’s up to you readers as well. In many cases, you hold the most power. Vote with your purchases and your reviews. Don’t accept the tired old tropes (unless of course, you like them). Tell authors what you love about their stories. Tell your friends about the books they must read. Leave reviews on the stories that touched your heart and why. Share. Promote. Talk about it. It’s time to embrace your own sexuality as well. Yesterday I tried on a pair of ridiculously inappropriate shoes. Inappropriate because my life is filled with mud and animal hair, with horses, dogs, and cats. Inappropriate because I nearly killed myself trying to walk down a short flight of stairs in them.

My Frozen ShoesBut damn, they looked good. And that’s reason enough to have them. I feel like a princess when I put them on, and I’m learning to embrace my Inner Princess. She’s the one who dresses up simply because it pleases her, and she’s not afraid to ask for what she wants–and take it when it is offered.

Like Pir8 said, I cannot accept this sort of passivity any longer. I want my heroines and heroes to embrace their sexual selves. And that means starting with myself.

Here’s the link to the rest of the blog hop! Do join in the fun!

My latest release is Walk a Mile, the second installment in the bestselling Sixth Sense series from Dreamspinner Press. FBI agents John Flynn and Jerry Parker are struggling to keep their evolving relationship together while on hunt for a murderer. Do check it out!

UnspeakableWordscoverWalkAMile

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!

The Sound of My People: The Equal Rights Blog Hop

equal_rights_blog_hop_buttonWelcome to the Equal Rights Blog Hop! Each year, members of the the GLBTQ community and their supporters gather to celebrate the battle for equal rights. This year, thirty different authors have joined in the hop, and there are prizes galore! Be sure to check out the entire prize list at Queertown Abbey and see how you can enter to win the rafflecopter–as well as the Master List of Participating Authors.

Last year at my annual weekend gathering of fandom friends, where we meet up to stuff ourselves silly with each others best recipes and stay up until all hours talking about our fandom loves, there was a moment when all of us were busy on our laptops checking our emails, updating our status, or working on stories. The only sound in the room was the clattering of keys. One of my friends looked up and said with a happy sigh, “Ah, the sound of my people.”

We all laughed, and it has become a catch-phrase for us ever since.

You know what she meant, though. It’s true, as a species, we like to say ‘us, not them’ and form communities while at the same time, shutting some people out. The very thing that makes us recognize ‘alike’ makes us suspicious and leery of ‘other’. That need to separate people into tribes, into ‘us vs. them’ can be both a good and a bad thing.

This post was supposed to be about my first experience with the GLBTQ community, and I’d originally planned a nice sweet little blog post about how I did a lot of theater in high school and how my friends were neither my gay nor straight friends but my theater friends. I didn’t identify them as to their sexual orientation. It wasn’t a big deal. Ricky was the one who could hold a note for 16 bars without taking a breath. Amy was the one who made me laugh. Tom was the one I had a mad crush on, despite my friends telling me I couldn’t have a crush on him–and I knew it would never work, but I had a thing for talent, you see. Yeah, short and sweet, that was going to be my original post.

Then the whole thing with SCOTUS and their ruling on the Hobby Lobby case came down, and I have to tell you, I was both stunned and appalled. I’ve spent most of the week being seriously pissed. I’m sure I’ve annoyed and alienated many of my friends (and potential readers, too) with how angry I’ve been. I posted about it yesterday, as a matter of fact, and why I believe that the only thing that scares the GOP more than the mythical ‘gay agenda’ is the single, independent woman.

But here’s the thing. Almost every one of my GLBTQ friends have been just as upset, vocal, and angry by this ruling as I am–and for many of them, it has no direct bearing on them and their lifestyle. They resent it, however, for what it represents: discrimination on the part of one group of people against another group of people based on religious, economic, and political beliefs. They resent it in the same way that I resent seeing states pass laws banning equal marriage rights, or allowing discriminatory hiring/firing practices. Because it is wrong. Because no one group should be able to impose their will on others to this degree. All those times I stood up and cheered for my friends finally getting married, or I voted for someone who vowed to stand up for civil liberties across the board, or I fought to see some measure passed that would protect my friends? Well, yeah, they’ve got my back, too. And that, my friends, is what community is all about. I love you guys. 🙂

If you enter the Rafflecopter, you’re entered to win an e-copy of my award-winning novel, The Boys of Summer. I have a short story out in the newly released Not Quite Shakespeare anthology from Dreamspinner Press, and will be releasing Walk a Mile, the sequel to Unspeakable Words, in Sept/Oct 2014. Good luck, and happy hopping!

Susan Mac Nicol drops in for a little Double Alchemy!

Double_AlchemyI’m delighted to be hosting Susan Mac Nicol today as part of her Double Alchemy book tour! Double Alchemy is just the latest M/M romance release from this bestselling author, so if you haven’t yet discovered her work, you’re in for a treat!

If you’re looking for the “Is it Summer Yet?” blog hop, check it out here. But do come back and read the rest of Susan’s release debut and interview!

Be sure to read the entire post to catch Sue’s interview, as well as find out where she’ll be next on the tour and how to enter her Rafflecopter Giveaway!

 

 

Title: Double Alchemy
Author: Susan Mac Nicol
Publisher: Boroughs Publishing Group
Release Date: 25th March, 2014
Genre: M/M Paranormal Romance

Buy links:

Amazon

Amazon UK

Amazon AU

Amazon CA

Boroughs Publishing

Smashwords

All Romance Ebooks

 

 

 

Book Trailer:

Powerful yet tormented modern warlock Quinn Fairmont must initiate the silver-eyed Cade Mairston into the world of witchfinders, Withinners, and what can happen when two men fall truly, madly, deeply in love.

THE WORLD IN SHADOW

In modern London there lurks a warlock, Quinn Fairmont. Dangerous, powerful, tortured, sharing his body with the soul of an ancient Welsh sorcerer, Quinn is never alone—and never wholly himself. He fights against all those who would exploit his kind. He takes pleasure where he can find it.

In the forest of Hampstead Heath, Quinn’s hometown, Cade Mairston appears to him like a waking dream. Lithe, lean and silver-eyed, he evokes feelings in Quinn unlike any other: lust with true affection, immediate and shocking. Cade is clearly more than he seems. And yet, if a man of the world, Cade is innocent. He knows nothing of warlocks, witchfinders or Withinners. He knows nothing of what he is, what he might be, or what he might feel. For him, the story is just beginning. Magyck, peril and passion await.

Praise for Double Alchemy

“I love Paranormal stories & I’m a huge fan of Susan Mac Nicol’s M/M books. In this book, she brings both genres together & gives us this amazing story. With her master storytelling, she takes us into the mystical & magical world of Witches, Warlocks, Withinners & Feys. A world where danger lurks in the shadows.” – Maria Recchia

“I stayed up all night reading this story. Susan has a way of writing that is different than anyone else. She’s uniquely brilliant at weaving a tale that brings out my emotions. I have laughed in every one of her stories. That’s incredible for me. Not just a smile, but a laugh. I love that. This book needs to be read. You won’t be disappointed.” – Author Kindle Alexander

Praise for Susan Mac Nicol

“We have to re-iterate that this Author will always be an automatic one-click for us. Her writing is flawless and her flawed characters are completely lovable. There’s always something quirky and fun in her stories as well as drama, angst and heaps of passion! We can highly recommend!!” – Gitte & Jenny – Totally Booked Blog

“Susan has been hailed as a genius writer of male/male literature. Her Saving Alexander has been nominated for several awards and has been reviewed widely. Congrats on all your success, Susan. You have earned it.” – Gay Lit Authors

About Susan Mac Nicol

SueSusan Mac Nicol was born in Leeds, UK, and left for South Africa when she was eight. She returned to the UK thirty years later and now lives in Essex. Her debut novel Cassandra by Starlight, the first in a trilogy, was published last year by Boroughs Publishing Group in the US. Sue’s latest story, Double Alchemy is her fifth m/m romance.
Sue has written since she was very young, and never thought she would see herself becoming a Romance writer, being a horror/psychological thriller reader all her life. But the Romance genre is now something very close to her heart and she intends continuing the trend.

Sue is a member of the Romance Writers of America and the Romantic Novelists Association here in the UK.

Susan Mac Nicol is also author of The Magick of Christmas, Confounding Cupid, Cassandra by Starlight, Together in Starlight, Stripped Bare, Saving Alexander, Worth Keeping and Waiting for Rain.

Social Links: Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest

Interview Questions:

Hello, Susan! Welcome to my blog! You’ve said elsewhere that Double Alchemy is a bit of a departure for you. Can you tell us what you mean by that, and what inspired you to write it?

Double Alchemy was something that was seething in the back of my psyche and I decided to act upon it. I love magic and mystery and have a lovely book collection on all thing witchy and wizardy. I wanted to write about something a little personal, as I’m a Wiccan myself, and I loved the idea of being to take some of the things I’ve learnt about and put them in a story. Of course, the uber man witch to me is a Warlock and Quinn was born. Then (and I have no idea where it came from) I decided I wanted him to have a ‘Withinner’ another being that co-existed with him. Taliesin was an easy choice as I’ve always been fascinated by him and his story fitted in so well. Then Quinn needed a mate and I wanted someone that loved water because of some future plot elements – and Cade came into being as a Water Sprite.

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 know that you live in the UK now (in what sounds like the quintessential English village!) but that you lived for many years in South Africa. What was the biggest culture shock for you on returning to the UK?

I was born in Leeds in Yorkshire and moved to South Africa when I was about eight. My dad was in construction and he was sent to Johannesburg to help build the Carlton Centre. We lived there for nearly 30 years. I lived in Johannesburg, now called Gauteng, on what we called the East Rand-the eastern part of the city. The crime got a bit much to bear – we had break in after break in, even thought we had six foot walls, guard dogs, panic buttons around our necks to the local security service, and steel doors in the house separating the bedrooms from the living rooms, as an extra precaution. With two young children we decided to move to the UK. We’d never been back again and we took the plunge. We arrived, hubby, me and two kids, with £3000, no jobs, a few boxes of clothes, and stayed with a friend while we got settled. Luckily life was good to us and we managed to get sorted. And we’ve remained ever since.

What’s your idea of a perfect vacation?

The perfect vacation to me is one in the mountains, with forests and trees, a lake you can swim in, warm weather (not too hot), a beautiful mountain wood cabin, with all the amenities (I’m not into slumming it lol) and a wireless connection so I can use my phone and laptop. (Sorry, that’s a not-negotiable for me..) I want a village nearby, quaint and picturesque, like something in Switzerland, or Austria, where you can get a decent, home cooked meal and a variety of local beers. Friendly residents, beautiful scenery and walks, castles and haunted mansions. Sheer bliss.

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?

It started out as a hobby, a creative desire to do something about the ideas that were whirling around in my head. I even said to my husband (something he throws back at me when I moan about the bad book sales) that I didn’t care about the money, I just had this dream of being published and people reading my books. Well, I was lucky enough to have that dream realised and of course, meeting one goal means one has to set another. So now the goal is to write books that sell well so I can make a lot more money to give up the day job and focus on being a full time writer. Actually, having lost my job seven months ago due to redundancy, that’s kind of where I am now but without the ‘enough money’ lol.

What advice would you give to someone who aspires to be a published author?

I’m sure they’ll have heard this before. Two things. 1. Bloody well write and don’t just talk about it! So many people I meet say ‘Oh, I’m a writer’ and when you ask them what they’ve written they tell you, ‘Well, nothing yet. I’m still thinking about it and oh my God, I just can’t find the time.’ Well you can guess what I tell them. Put that damn pen to paper and write something. Then you’re a writer. 2. Don’t give up. Ever. It’s tough for me to say this as I’ve thought about it countless times. The whole ‘why the hell am I putting myself through this’ argument that no doubt every writer can identify with. I’m lucky to have a supportive publisher who keep telling me my time will come and I just need to keep writing and producing books. It can be tough but you need staying power. I pinched that from my Editor in Chief, Chris Keeslar. (Oh dear, is that plagiarism?)

If you could have lunch with anyone in the world (real life, celebrity, fictional, etc.) who would you choose to dine with and why?

Oh goodness me, Sarah, really? You already know the answer and I’m going to be abso-bloody-lutely predictable and say Benedict Cumberbatch. My fan girl crush, my adult dirty secret. He’s erudite, has a voice like melted chocolate, is easy on the eyes, funny, sweet and adorable. Who wouldn’t want to lunch at The Ivy with this man?

*gigglesnort* Yes, I could have guessed you’d answer the question that way–but then who wouldn’t? 🙂

If you could pick one of your stories to become real, one world which you could be part of, which would you choose and why?

I’d choose Double Alchemy. I want so much to be a real witch and be able to cast spells, throw energy bolts from my fingers like Quinn can, swim like a fish as Cade does, breathe underwater and get sucked into that whole fantasy world where real life takes a back seat and I’m able to do things that a normal person can’t. I’m such a dreamer, and I live in worlds that aren’t really anyway, being a writer and creating them for myself with every book I write. Being able to have special powers would be the icing on the cake.

Intelligence and a sense of humor are paramount, but what’s your favorite physical characteristic on a man or woman? What do you check out first? What makes you decide if someone’s good looking or not?

I have a thing for two areas of a man’s anatomy that make my little heart skip a beat. Backside and eyebrows. The sight of a man’s naked bum is delight to behold as long as its tight, firm and you can bounce a penny off it. There are times when I really want to be a gay man *winks* And eyebrows, thick and dark, like Robbie Williams’ are such a turn on for me. I don’t like bushy, I like sexy. They need to be neatly trimmed and well shaped but oh my goodness, I love them.

What is your favorite genre to read, and is it different from the one(s) in which you write?

I have two favourite genres to read. One is M/M Romance obviously. I have become addicted to this genre and I’m constantly looking for different books in this genre, whether it be historical, contemporary, or to a small extent, paranormal. I’m not a fan of werewolves and shape shifters, but don’t mind the vamps. I love historical novels like The Spanish Captain by Robyn Elliot. The other genre is horror. I’m a big Stephen King and Dean Koontz fan, Phil Rickman (although his books aren’t strictly horror more supernatural psychological suspense) and Joe Donnelly. A good, well written story of ghouls and demons and evil beings always goes down well with me.

Thank  you so much for dropping by, Susan! As always, it’s a delight to hear what you have to say and what new story you have in store for us!

image001Susan’s tour schedule main page is here.

Monday 21st April, 2014– Virtual Writers (interview) & Serendipity Reviews (review and character interview)

Tuesday 22nd April, 2014– Charlie Cochet (interview) & Robin Kalinich (guest post)

Wednesday 23rd April, 2014– MM Good Book Reviews (review and guest post) & Kirsty Vizard (interview) & The Blogger Girls (interview)

Thursday 24th April, 2014– Gay List Book Reviews (review and guest post) & Mandie Foxylutely (guest post and review) & Sarah Madison (interview)

Friday 25th April, 2014– Mrs Condit & Friends (review and guest post) & Janet Wrenn (guest post)

Saturday 26th April, 2014– Zipper Rippers (guest post) Kathryn Lively All Romance Café (guest post)

Sunday 27th April, 2014– In the Pages of a Good Book (promo post)

Monday 28th April, 2014 – Scott from Gay Guy Reading (guest post and review) & Joyfully Jay (original excerpt)

Tuesday 29th April, 2014 – Cup o Porn (guest post) & Scuttlebutt Reviews (guest post & review)

Wednesday 30th April, 2014 – Melanie from Fangfreakintastic (guest post) & A Reader Review (guest post and review)

Thursday 1st May, 2014 – Tracey’s Vampy and Racey Book Blog (review and guest post) & A Novel Approach (guest post) & Smile Somebody Loves You (promo post)

Friday 2nd May, 2014 – Susan’s Site & Lynda K Scott (guest post)

Saturday 3rd May, 2014  – Sophie Sansregret (review and guest post) & Andrew Q Gordon (interview)

Sunday 4th May, 2014 – Tammy Middleton (review and guest post) & I Smell Sheep (guest post and review) & Twitter Interview at 6pm UK time

a Rafflecopter giveaway