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“Whirlwind” by J. V. Speyer || Blog Tour, #Giveaway & Excerpts! ~~ #FF #lesfic #romance

 

Happy Tuesday! QSFer J.V. Speyer has a new FF romance book out:

 

 

Title: Whirlwind
Author: J.V. Speyer
Release Date: April 14th, 2018
Genre: FF Contemporary
Published by: JMS Books

 

Rock star Jo Avery didn’t have a choice about coming out, but ever since her ex outed her as bi she’s been a proud advocate for LGBTQ+ issues. Most of her family wants nothing to do with her, but her brother has always supported her. When he gets married, he wants her in the wedding party, and she has to accept.

The only problem? Her new sister in law is the daughter of conservative pundit and anti-LGBT warrior Sarah Tremblay. Sarah has another daughter, too, the beautiful and charming Valeria.

Valeria has been in the closet since she was fourteen. She’s always envied Jo’s strength and freedom, if not her path to living her authentic life. She soon finds herself falling for the fierce, pretty rocker, but coming out could cost her everything. How many risks can she take for someone she’ll only know for two weeks?

Can Jo and Valeria turn attraction into love, or will their whirlwind romance blow out before it gets off the ground?

 

Now available at JMS Books!

 

Whirlwind is also available at: Amazon US | Amazon UKAmazon CA iBooks | B&N | Kobo | Smashwords | Google Play

 

You can also add it on Goodreads!

 

 

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GIVEAWAY:

JV Speyer is giving away a $10 Amazon gift card with this tour – enter via Rafflecopter for a chance to win:

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

{Click on “a Rafflecopter giveaway” to go to the Rafflecopter widget and enter for a chance to win! Or paste this link into your browser: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d476/?}

 

 

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EXCERPT #1

Simon shifted uneasily in his seat. “Should I step in?”

Jo shrugged. “Seems dangerous. You’re not being paid to break up fights between conservative media hosts.” She looked up and groaned as she saw Sarah Tremblay making her way toward her. “Just when the fight was getting good.”

Simon straightened up in his seat as Sarah swept into position beside Jo. “This is not the way people should behave at an event like this. It’s supposed to be a joyous occasion, where people give the bride the material she’ll need in her new life as a wife. Not some kind of spectacle for the enjoyment of others.” She sniffed and cast her gaze pointedly at guests who had their phones out, recording the action.

Jo hated the thought of agreeing with Sarah Tremblay about anything, but she couldn’t argue either. “It’s a little bit like watching daytime television.”

Sarah stared as hotel security swooped in and separated the fighting women. The one who’d been kneed in the face was going to need an ambulance. “This is what comes from an overly permissive culture,” she said after a moment. “This is why I fight so hard.”

Jo rolled her eyes. And of course it all comes down to this. “So we can all enjoy a live action version of the Jerry Springer Show?”

Sarah curled her lip. “Do you honestly think any of this would have happened if you hadn’t showed your face here today?”

Jo lowered her eyes and laughed. “Sarah, I don’t even know those women. Any of those women. The great part of being a pariah at things like this is that no one can say they did anything because of me.”

Sarah grabbed onto Jo’s wrist with one claw-like hand. “You come walking in here with all of those tattoos exposed. That alone lowers the tone. It tells people, ‘Oh, it doesn’t matter what you do.’ And with you flaunting your sin all over the place, disobeying your mother, giving your body to anyone who wants it, wallowing in the sin of Sodom and Gomorra without shame, everyone knows who you are. They know what you do.

“They think to themselves, If she can get away with that, then I don’t have to worry about what I do. I don’t have to live a clean and wholesome life. I don’t have to behave myself in public. And then we get what we had here today.”

“Wow. You get all that from a couple of tattoos and a complete failure at reading the Bible.” Jo snorted. Her hands shook, but they were hiding under the table so it didn’t matter. “Did you miss the part about motes and beams and all that? Or the Samaritan woman? I’m, like, ninety percent sure that those people would have fought even if I’d stayed on tour.”

“You should have stayed on tour. No one wants you here.” Sarah narrowed her eyes at Jo. “If even your own mother can’t stand to look at you, why should the rest of us be troubled with your presence?”

Jo shrugged. “Take it up with Tom. Much as I love hanging out here and being harangued about my sex life, I’d rather be out there with my band mates touring.”

Sarah recoiled, nose in the air. “I can see I’m not going to get anywhere with you. Just stay away from my daughter.”

Jo blinked for a second. Was Sarah really worried about Valeria’s virtue around her? If she was, that must mean she had a reason to be. Maybe there was hope after all. As for the rest of it …

She curled her lips into a wolfish smile and stood up. As Simon stood up beside her, she dropped a hand onto Sarah’s shoulder. “Oh, Sarah. I didn’t realize. I didn’t mean to lead you on. I’m not great with subtle hints. If you wanted to ‘get somewhere’ with me, you should have been more direct. If you want, I can help you find someone who might be looking for someone a little more like you, though.” She walked out of the shower, smiling.

 

 

EXCERPT #2

Jo had never been so grateful for the stereotypical “rock star” treatment in her life. She usually felt ridiculous with the whole limousine, front of the line, special treatment thing. It made her squirm. Sure, a rock star was supposed to be looked at and get attention, but some things just smacked of desperation.

When the guys at the record company gave her a private jet to get from the tour to her brother’s wedding and back, she could have kissed them.

Simon, her assigned bodyguard for this trip, smirked down at her. “You feeling any better now that we’re on solid ground yet?” His dark eyes didn’t rest on her, of course. He kept them on the crowd, the way he always did. No one seemed to have noticed them, but that could change at any moment.

“No.” Jo could be honest with Simon. She wouldn’t have asked him to come to a family event, all things considered, but she’d been more than happy when he volunteered. “No, not really. But it could be worse.” She took a deep breath and found her center, like that therapist she’d seen exactly three times told her. “We’re staying at a hotel. We won’t have to see family more than a handful of times, and those will be super public times when no one will want to cause a scene. So – we’ll be comfortable. Right?”

“Right.” Simon put a hand on her back, right between her shoulder blades. It wasn’t long, but it was just enough to give her the support and strength she needed. “And for the rest of the time, you’re going to rest, relax, take care of yourself, and maybe get a little bit of sun.”

Jo wrinkled her nose at him. “Ick. Sunshine.” They emerged from the terminal to look for their limo.

Jo didn’t see a limo. She did see a car, but it couldn’t have been farther from a limo if they’d tried. The person holding up a piece of cardboard with Jo’s name on it was a woman, a little bit older than Jo herself, and she wore a light purple pants suit. Her dark blonde hair had been restrained in a bun at the back of her neck, and she wore just a little bit of makeup. She leaned against a shiny red Prius.

With the exception of the Prius, she made Jo weak at the knees.

Simon stopped in his tracks. “You’ve got to be freaking kidding me.” He shook his head. “No. Hell no. This is not what I ordered.” He stormed right up to the petite blonde, keeping himself between her and Jo. “What in the ever loving hell is this supposed to be, huh?”

The driver looked Simon up and down. “I’m here to give Josiane a lift to the hotel.” God, even her voice was perfect. She grimaced. “Er, Izzy didn’t say anything about two passengers, though. And she didn’t say anything about so much, er, stuff.” She eyed Jo’s baggage cart with suspicion. “Um, were you planning to play a show while you’re here, or…”

Jo looked down at her guitar cases. She’d only brought two. “I can’t imagine anyone would go for that.” She made herself laugh, because she didn’t want the pretty woman to think she was some kind of dour and bitter jerk only five minutes after meeting her. Of course, Pretty in Purple had mentioned Isabelle, so who knew what impressions the woman had already formed. “But I’m going to be here for two weeks, and since I make my living playing the guitar I definitely can’t afford to get rusty.” Her shoulders settled and lost a little of their tension as she got into her topic. She was on firm ground here. “And the one in the flatter case, the electric, is too valuable for me to just leave behind. I trust the rest of the band, but I’d be foolish just to leave it lying around.”

“I guess that makes sense.” Two spots of color appeared in the stranger’s cheeks. “I’m just a little irritated that Izzy didn’t warn me ahead of time. It’s not that I mind having them around, I just probably wouldn’t have said yes if I’d known. It’s going to be a kind of tight squeeze. A Prius only has so much space.”

Simon folded his arms over his chest and scowled down at her. “And who exactly are you again? Because I know I made arrangements with a company I trust.”

“I’m Valeria Tremblay. I’m the made of honor. And you’d be…”

“I’m Simon Parrino. I’m Ms. Avery’s head of security for this trip. I understand that Ms. Tremblay is the bride, but she doesn’t get to override security arrangements. No one does. Does she not get that my team has had to fend off six thousand fifty two persons seeking access to Ms. Avery alone, never mind to the band in general?”

Valeria flinched, just a little bit. “Look, I’m sorry. She asked me to help out and I said yes. I had no idea there was going to be an issue, but honestly I probably should have thought of it. I’m not all that into rock music, but obviously I’ve heard of Whirlwind. I should have realized arrangements would have been made and looked into it further.”

Jo intervened. “Look. Whatever was going on in Isabelle’s head, I’m sure we’re not going to solve it here. Right? And we’re starting to cause a scene. So maybe we can take Valeria up on her generous offer and call the limo company from the hotel.” She added another bright smile, this time for Simon’s benefit.

Simon glared. They’d been working together for so long Jo didn’t need to hear him speak to understand what was going through his head. This is not what we agreed to.

She shrugged. He would know she meant, No, but what are we going to do? People were staring, and it was only a matter of time before someone recognized her. Westchester Airport wasn’t equipped for some of the mob scenes that had sprung up at some of the sites where they’d been. She just wanted to get out of here. She gestured toward the front seat, with the implication that Simon could have it with all of its extra legroom.

After a long and tense moment, Simon rolled his eyes and slid into the unlocked passenger seat. “Fine,” he growled. “But we’re going to have to have a little chat with your sister in law about re-arranging travel plans without permission, do you understand me?”

“Oh, I understand.” Jo rubbed the back of her neck and moved toward the back of the car. After a second, Valeria remembered herself and popped the hatchback. “Isn’t he going to help you put your bags away?” she whispered, loading Jo’s suitcase into the car.

“He doesn’t, usually. The limo driver does.” Jo stuffed her laptop into the vehicle, and then her acoustic guitar. Her carryon came next. The electric would ride with her. “He has to keep his hands free. Plus, he’s in a snit. Please don’t take it personally. The last time someone changed travel plans on our security team like this, they tried to kidnap our drummer.”

“Oh my God!” Valeria gasped as she shut the trunk. “Does that kind of thing really happen?” She opened up the driver’s side door for Jo, and closed it behind her once she was inside.

Something warm sparked in Jo’s chest. She tried to push it down. It didn’t make sense. There was no way, no way in Hell, that Isabelle’s sister was into women. Even if she was into women, Jo was going to be here for two weeks. She didn’t even stay in New York City for more than a short stretch at a time anymore. They weren’t going to start anything up. That just didn’t happen.

“It does happen. All the time.” Simon tightened his jaw and glanced back at Jo. “Jo wasn’t kidding. The drummer’s family had gotten caught up in something back in her country. They were criticizing the occupying forces, and so the regime decided they wanted to send some people for her. It, ah, it didn’t go so well.”

Jo looked out the window. That had been a terrifying incident, and she wouldn’t forget it soon. She figured Simon would remember it a little longer than she would. He’d been the one who’d had to fire his gun.

“So why were you okay with just yelling at me a little?” Valeria changed lanes and cut a taxi off as she spoke. Jo hugged her guitar a little tighter as the taxi honked at her.

“A real assassin wouldn’t have referred to Ms. Tremblay as Izzy.” Simon paused before answering, but he was honest with her. “Also, no assassin would drive a Prius.” Jo caught a little bit of his smirk as he stared out the windshield.

“Excuse me? It’s a perfectly sustainable, sensible choice.” Valeria frowned at him, just a little bit.

 

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Author Bio

J. V. Speyer has lived in upstate New York and rural Catalonia before making the greater Boston, Massachusetts area her permanent home. She has worked in archaeology, security, accountancy, finance, and non-profit management. She currently lives just south of Boston in a house with more animals than people.

J. V. finds most of her inspiration from music. Her tastes run the gamut from traditional to industrial and back again. When not writing she can usually be found enjoying a baseball game. She’s learning to crochet so she can make blankets to fortify herself against the cold.

J. V. can be found on Twitter at @JVSpeyer, or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/JVSpeyer

 

Website: http://www.jessicawritesonline.com

Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/JVSpeyerAuthor/

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/jvspeyer

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14108614.J_V_Speyer

QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/j-v-speyer/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/J.V.-Speyer/e/B074G3SMMB/

 

 

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Release Blitz! “The Weekend Bucket List” by Mia Kerick || #YA #LGBT and a #Giveaway

 

 

Title: The Weekend Bucket List
Author: Mia Kerick
Release Date: April 19th 2018
Genre: Young Adult, LGBT
Published by: Interlude Press

 

 

BLURB

High school seniors Cady LaBrie and Cooper Murphy have yet to set one toe out of line—they’ve never stayed out all night or snuck into a movie, never gotten drunk or gone skinny-dipping. But they have each other, forty-eight hours before graduation, and a Weekend Bucket List.

There’s a lot riding on this one weekend, especially since Cady and Cooper have yet to admit, much less resolve, their confounding feelings for one another—feelings that prove even more difficult to discern when genial high school dropout Eli Stanley joins their epic adventure. But as the trio ticks through their bucket list, the questions they face shift toward something new: Must friendship play second fiddle to romance? Or can it be the ultimate prize?

 

Purchase links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Interlude Press

Find The Weekend Bucket List on Goodreads

 

 

 

 

EXCERPT

She acts as if this was my big idea, but The Weekend Bucket List has got Cady LaBrie’s name written all over it. She’s persuasive, though—the girl has almost got me believing I came up with the idea to do everything we never did that “normal” kids do in high school, all in the forty-eight hours before graduation. We have a lot of lost time to make up for.

“These fries are so good.” Cady’s eyes are closed like she’s in goddamned ecstasy. I’m not sure why, but I look away.

“How can you eat so freaking much and stay so freaking skinny?” I ask, as Cady starts in on her second large order of french fries. And these are just appetizers.

“I’m petite, Cooper. Not skinny… and you’re skinny, too.”

I shrug and suck futilely on the straw that stands straight in my vanilla shake.

“Whatever.” It doesn’t matter how thick the shake is; I’m in no rush to suck it down. Cady’s the talker in this relationship, so all I’ve got to do is sit here and listen.

 

 

 

 

 

GIVEAWAY:

Win a $15 Amazon Giftcard

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

{Click on “a Rafflecopter giveaway” to go to the Rafflecopter widget and enter for a chance to win!}

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Author

Mia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—a daughter in law school, another in dance school, a third studying at Mia’s alma mater, Boston College, and her lone son still in high school. She writes LGBTQ romance when not editing National Honor Society essays, offering opinions on college and law school applications, helping to create dance bios, and reviewing English papers. Her husband of twenty-four years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about this, as it is a sensitive subject.

Mia focuses her stories on emotional growth in turbulent relationships. As she has a great affinity for the tortured hero, there is, at minimum, one in each book. As a teen, Mia filled spiral-bound notebooks with tales of said tortured heroes (most of whom happened to strongly resemble lead vocalists of 1980s big-hair bands) and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She is thankful to Dreamspinner Press and Harmony Ink Press for providing alternate places to stash her stories.

Her books have won a Best YA Lesbian Rainbow Award, a Reader Views’ Book by Book Publicity Literary Award, the Jack Eadon Award for Best Book in Contemporary Drama, an Indie Fab Award, and a Royal Dragonfly Award for Cultural Diversity, among other awards.

Mia is a Progressive, a little bit too obsessed by politics, and cheers for each and every victory in the name of human rights. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology.

Contact Mia at miakerick@gmail.com. Visit her website for updates on what is going on in Mia’s world, rants, music, parties, and pictures, and maybe even a little bit of inspiration.

Links: Facebook | Twitter

 

 

 

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April Updates & 29% Off Book Sale — Including My Backlist! {Time to stock up on on LGBTQA+ Romances!}

Happy Spring, everyone… even if you were hit with snowstorms lately like we were. But with April comes a fabulous 29% off sale on my publisher’s website to celebrate their 9th anniversary — more about that below! But first, an update on what I’ve been up to, other than dealing with Delayed Sleep Phase hell, reading, and binging on episodes of “The 100” and “Once Upon A Time”.

For the last month, I’ve been buried under outlines and mounds of notes. And they’re still growing, outward, upward, and onward. (Help! I’m drowning in the wordiness of words.) I still haven’t sat down to actually write anything, but that’s changing shortly.

Usually it doesn’t take so long to get outlines assembled, but with multiple projects on the go, it’s taking a lot longer. Then again, this is what I get for keeping running files and piles of notes that need to be sorted! But before I could dump all of those notes into their respective outlines, I had to peg down the story structures. I always have an idea of what things will look like, but proper outlines help me work out the connections, kinks, and little bits of structure I’m missing. Though sometimes it highlights some really fun problems that take me a few days to sort out — like timeline issues, which happened with a couple of my current WIPs. I had to hammer out certain world-building details to fix both stories, so that was… productive. And kind of stressful, because NUMBERS. So many numbers.

I finished the outline for Rebel Call, though, so that’s ready to be written. Except before I get there, I’m changing tracks and focusing on the Imbolc/Home for the Holidays story I’m supposed to be writing. Of the six projects I’ve got on the go, only that one has a deadline: June 30. I’ve got two months to write and edit it… oh boy. Thankfully the word count is under 40,000. 🙂

After that, it’ll be back to outlines… I’m determined to finish the other four, because otherwise those books will be a disaster. Two of the books are in the Republic universe, but the other two are brand new worlds and completely different character ensembles. If I don’t get them organized, I’ll (a) get lost, (b) screw them up, and (c) possibly start blending worlds that I really don’t want to mix up!

It also doesn’t help that I’ve been bombarded with ideas for other books: Witch of War is building itself with all sorts of surprises and dastardly details; I’ve come up with something for Gren’s son, Playe, which will also turn out to be major payback on Mayr for all the times he’s pestered me; and I’ve found ways to be really, really mean to Pellon.

Don’t mind me… I’m just gonna crawl under my desk and hide for a bit. :S

 

 

But Oooh, Shiny! There’s a SALE!!!

Yes! Something happy! ^_^

My publisher, LT3, is celebrating their 9th anniversary this month — and they’re hosting an awesome sale on their website! ALL of their ebooks and paperbacks are currently 29% OFF, with that 29% off applied to preorders in addition to the usual preorder discount.

There’s also a raffle and 99¢ sales throughout the month! For every book you purchase in the LT3 Book Market during April, you’ll be entered into a raffle for a chance to win one of the following fantastic prizes, including: One of two Kindle E-readers, one of two bundles of NINE ebooks of your choice, and one of NINE $9 gift certificates to the LT3 Book Market!

For more details on how to enter the raffle, eligibility, etc., see the official announcement here.

That also means my entire backlist is on sale for 29% off! And there’s a possibility the books may even go on sale for 99¢ — in fact, For the Clan already did. 🙂

Here’s a peek at what’s available:

 

The Republic series

Book #1: A Question of Counsel
~~ usually $4.99, NOW $3.54!

Life hasn’t been easy for Aeley since she arrested her brother, and her role as a political leader leaves her feeling isolated and lonely. Days before her brother’s trial, she meets Lira, a quiet and modest scribe who makes Aeley want more than just a professional relationship.

When she attends the trial and leaves with a marriage contract, Aeley doesn’t know what to do. She must choose one of two brothers, marrying into a family she doesn’t know. Then she discovers that Lira is part of the same family—a sister to Aeley’s suitors and the family’s disgrace. And not at all opposed to an intimate relationship.

Except random acts of violence against her people test Aeley’s ability as a leader, and a web of lies and deceit threaten not only her chance at happiness, but her life…

 

Book #2: Four
~~ usually $6.99, NOW $4.96!

On the outside, Mayr seems to have it all: a successful career as Head of the Guard for a prominent politician, family and friends who adore him, and the attention of beautiful women. But appearances are a good way to bury secrets, including the fact that while Mayr is a romantic at heart, searching for the one person to share his life with, his lovers keep leaving him.

When his last girlfriend takes him back and suggests an intimate night with Tash, one of her lovers, Mayr reluctantly agrees. The last thing he expects is to fall hard for Tash, who is nothing like Mayr’s previous lovers—and about to undertake the Uldana Trials. If Tash fails, he’ll likely die. If he succeeds, he must give up Mayr, and become the latest to leave Mayr standing alone with a broken heart.

 

Book #3: Blood Borne
~~ usually $6.99, NOW $4.96!

For Ress, survival is a complicated nightmare. Caught between two masters on different sides of the law, his life is falling apart one bad decision at a time. All he wants is to be is a good person, a loyal family man, and a successful metalsmith—a dream he can never obtain while he works for the Shar-denn, the violent gang that plagues the republic of Kattal.

To make matters worse, he works as an informant for the High Council. He scrapes through both jobs waiting for his last breath. As the Shar-denn motto says: the only way out is dead.

No stranger to living complicated decisions, Adren is caught between worlds of cir own. As the child of a Shar-denn faction boss, cir life is a conflicted tangle of expectation and duty. When cir family is arrested, Adren manages to escape, but nowhere is safe. Desperate and on the run, Adren is determined to punish Ress for turning in cir family. No one who betrays the gang can live. Ress must pay the price, even if Adren has to go against everything ce is.

 

 

Anthologies & Stand Alones!

Enchanted Soles
~~ usually $5.99, NOW $4.25!

Sometimes all it takes is the right pair of shoes…

In Three Nights (A.D. Truax), Synder buys a pair of sandals that have a mind and plan of their own, and drag him to a celebration to which he was not invited—and into the arms of a handsome prince.

Saidah of Dame Fortune (C. Finley) asks her beautiful new wishing boots to take her to her true love, but the simple question has a complicated answer that will take more than magic boots to find.

Heart, Lace, and Soul (Archer Kay Leah) brings together Elly, who seldom removes the psychic boots that let her read and feel the minds of other people in order to help them, and a man her boots cannot read.

In Aelfwear (Katey Hawthorne), Frida is hired to make hideous shoes for a beautiful woman who claims she’s out to cause misery for a man who once betrayed Frida’s family—but Frida fears she’ll wind up being played for a fool a second time.

And Into the Hollowed Veil (A.M. Valenza) is the story of a man who puts on a pair of beautiful red shoes and finds himself in a strange forest helping a beautiful woman rescue the man she loves…

 

For the Clan
~~ usually $6.99, NOW $4.96!

Canada, 2165 AD. The Water Wars and a decimated economy have taken their toll. Anyone who doesn’t live in a military-patrolled metropolis lives in a clan. But being in a clan doesn’t mean safety.

And for a Ven like Roan Lee, it doesn’t matter where he lives. Safety is a luxury. So is freedom.

Roan is desperate to escape the governtary’s exploitation and torture. He is nothing to them but 54σK1, an artifact born from a genetic mishap. When the chance to escape arises, he makes a run for it—and encounters the lover from his past, twisting his future into a second chance he never expected.

As leaders of Clan Teach, Jace Ama and his wife, Cayra Diega, have enough difficulty keeping their people safe. When Roan is thrown to their feet as a prisoner, their marriage becomes an additional challenge. Jace still loves Roan, but where does that leave Cayra?

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March 2018 ~ Updates! (aka: Which WIP Will Claim My Soul First?)

 

Whoa, it’s March.

This would probably be a good time for an update… especially since I never finished the post I drafted in January about my 2018 projects. Oops.

So here it is: my installment of What Am I Doing In 2018?

I got derailed for about a month or so, I won’t lie. After I submitted Soulbound to my publisher in January, I took some time to just… not write. Or edit. Or do things that were terribly creative. That’s not the say the ideas stopped — no, those kept going, and I wrote way too many notes, successfully killing another notebook. But I took a couple weeks to catch up on things — half of it personal stuff; half of it author things. Though during the last couple of weeks in January and the first couple in February, I spent a lot of time just reading.

*GASP*

This is a HUGE deal. I didn’t read much last year, not in concentrated amounts, and books that I was stoked to read went untouched because I couldn’t focus. Or, in some cases, my eyes and brain wouldn’t physically let me read properly. But for a few precious weeks this year, I devoured two complete series. AND IT FELT SO GOOD. It was like being a kid again, always having a book attached to my hand. Total bliss. \o/

At some point, I’ll do a What-I’ve-Been-Reading post, talking about those series that I read, because I really enjoyed them — so much the characters stuck around and have bugged me for weeks. I’m dying to read more of the books… or just read them over again. 🙂

THIS post, however, is about my current WIPs. Several of them have been vying for my attention for months, scrapping with each other to see who’ll win. I’ve decided to show them all some love and see if we can’t all just get along. For now, here’s glimpse of them:

 

 

Rebel Call (The Republic #5)

I wrote about this last summer, when it popped itself into existence. I have scads of notes for this story that are just waiting to be plunked into the outline properly. Dawne, Massy, and Geyle — or DMG, as we refer to them at home. I’m going to have so much fun with this one. The first 1,700 words have already been laid down.

This story takes three misfit characters, throws them together with a serving of WTF, and comes out with three brand new bounty hunters. Dawne is a mason and a widower who’s tired of life in general. His relationship with the rest of his family is miserable, so it’s mostly just him on his own. Massy is a teacher who’s tired of teaching a certain set of values and not being able to live fully by them — things have to change, rules be damned. Meanwhile, Geyle works in the household of a Tract Steward, where he’s kept relatively safe from the things that could harm him, especially after his abusive ex ruined his life. They all end up hooking up and a lovely poly relationship is born.

Of course, it’s not going to be all that straightforward. Add a politically-charged murder, an impromptu manhunt, and magic they aren’t supposed to be using, and things get a bit involved. *evil smirk*


» Genre: High fantasy romance

» Pairing & Identities: M/M/NB (pansexual, transgender & genderqueer)

 

 

To Live A Dragon (Cinder & Scale #1)

My first dragon story EVER, inspired by a submission call by Less Than Three Press for their “For the Hoard” collection, which is all about dragons. (To see the full collection, all of the novellas are available here and at other online retailers!)

Unfortunately, I couldn’t write TLAD before the deadline for the collection, so I put it on the backburner… where it completely fleshed itself out. By the end of 2017, I had two VERY irate dragons bothering me on a constant basis. Now it’s blossomed into a series. *groan* I really can’t help myself.

This series goes into the dragon afterlife and what happens when that afterlife comes to an end or is interrupted. I’m also hoping to get into different character types that I normally don’t write about, including the super artistic and the awesomely nerdy! This world is a mash-up of time periods and technological progress, so there’s A LOT to work with.

To Live A Dragon is about Paise and Kildee, two dead dragon shifters who finally hook up after crushing on each other for a while, then are tested when things go terribly awry.

Paise is a modern guy, experienced with our kind of tech and cities. He can’t stop the itch to design and build stuff, thanks to his engineer/architect training. Kildee, on the other hand, is bright and shiny and glamourous. His training is in the performance arts with a Victorian-esque flair, so he’s rather different from Paise.

I’m excited for this project! It’s different from what I usually write, but still very me. It’s also exciting because Kildee comes from my love of music and theatre. (True story: In grade 13, I considered becoming a professional singer, but auditioning for the university music programs terrified me, so I pursued my love of zoology instead. I still really appreciate the discipline it took to get through my vocal classes, conductor’s class, and the performances I did, especially as an alto. Seriously, we get some of the crappiest parts in songs.)


» Genre: High fantasy romance, urban fantasy, paranormal

» Pairing & Identities: M/M (homosexual, homoromantic asexual)

 

 

Ashsender (Kindle Overthrow #1)

This is the darkest project on the roster right now, and the start to not just one, but two rather hefty series, which I’ve collectively dubbed “the Kindles”. I composed a post about this book and the series last year (the year before?), but I haven’t published it yet. Soon, though. I wanted to do this first.

Ashsender is an M/M sci fi romance, but the lead characters aren’t perfectly good heroes. They’ve done some pretty shitty things, whatever the reason; however tricked, trapped, or coerced they may have been. The relationship in this book is between Eve, a retired corpse collector for the galactic government, and Lexx, a corporate-owned assassin. Neither of them is in a good place mentally, emotionally, or physically. Both of them want out of their lives, and they’d sell their souls just to get free… if they hadn’t already sold them a long time back, leaving them with little to hold onto.

This is a redemption story, as are all of the books in the Kindles. It’s also spinning out from the general angst, fear, and grief society has been facing for a while now, none of which have been improved by the current political or social climates. In a way, the Kindles share things in common with The Republic series: people are trying to right the wrongs caused by illegal activities, morally unacceptable behaviour, and the conflicts that have been hanging around from past events. But where The Republic comes at social change from the unified angle of law enforcement, government, and citizens fighting against a criminal organization, the Kindles pit the people against the government and corporate control. There’s a lot of hurt that’s been caused by these organizations — lines that have been obliterated, not just crossed — and that’s what Overthrow speaks to.

Eve definitely wants to serve the government their just desserts for the crap he’s been through. “Corpse collector” is the short way of saying he cleaned up the dead bodies the government made because people were getting in their way, causing trouble. Rebelling. He just didn’t see the truth of what they were doing until it became personal. And Lexx… he wanted to get rid of the scum in the world, but he’s since discovered he’s working for them. So yeah, this is very much about two guys that have done things they’re not proud of — things that have messed up their humanity, making them into the monsters they fear most. This story is them finding that humanity again, but together, along with their chosen family.

I’ve been working on the outline for this in the last few days, organizing my notes. Along the way, I’ve discovered interesting details about the characters, including the fact that Lexx is actually demisexual, which wasn’t planned, but hey, that’s cool. It explains so much about his relationship with Eve. I love when characters surprise me.


» Genre: Science fiction romance

» Pairing & Identities: M/M (bisexual, homoromantic demisexual)

 

 

Heartfastened (The Republic #4.5)

This is Arieve and Coye’s story, which spins off from Soulbound. Their relationship is complicated, with plenty of ups and downs . Because of the length of Soulbound, I wasn’t able to focus on these ladies — just show glimpses of their relationship, particularly where it intersected with Mayr and Tash. But I want to tell their story, and for a few different reasons. First, the simplest reason: I wanted to add another F/F romance in the series, especially since it sees another lesbian added to the roster.

Second: There’s this thing I really wanted to do, where Coye woos Arieve through achieving impossible tasks. The plot was inspired by the song “Scarborough Fair,” which I’ve loved for a long time, though the book borrows from the concept only. I’ve written a whole new ballad that Coye uses. She’s got a lot to make up for when it comes to Arieve, so she pulls it all out.

The third reason for this story is extremely personal, and part of my healing process, I think. While I was developing Coye’s character, there were certain aspects that crept in — reasons why she’s never been able to fully commit to Arieve, and why she might seem emotionally unavailable. Part of her story is my story, dealing with tragedy and loss in our families, one right after another, taking our mothers, our aunts, our uncles… most of them without a definitive explanation. My uncle died from an aneurysm, but with my mother and her two sisters, we still have no idea. We’ll likely never know, leaving me, my brother, my cousins, and other family members to question if we’ll die the same way. Will our hearts simply stop while we sleep and never start again, no warning, no explanation, no reason a doctor can pinpoint? This can be a heavy weight to carry, and in Coye’s case, it influences her enough that sometimes she makes choices that hurt the people she loves. She has more issues to deal with — including commitment as a whole, which she finds rather frightening — but more on that once I get the story written.


» Genre: High fantasy romance

» Pairing & Identities: F/F (bisexual, lesbian)

 

 

Rule Breaker, 2nd edition (The Republic #0.5)

This past June, the rights to Rule Breaker reverted back to me. This novella was originally in Won’t Back Down, an anthology published by Less Than Three Press, and was the very first queer romance I wrote. It was also my first time writing a trans character. I had such a fantastic time writing it and working with LT3 that I wrote A Question of Counsel, spinning off of the events and characters in RB. This was where Aeley and the entire Republic series were born!

RB has a special place in my heart, and soon after writing it, I’d hoped to do another story for Gren and Tracel to show how they met, called Healer. That story didn’t happen, mostly due to time and other projects, but I’m glad it didn’t: I can now take RB and expand it, including throwing in bits of the rest of their story, as well as telling Tracel’s part of the story from her POV. I had the option of letting LT3 republish RB as-is, but decided to hold back and work on a longer version that really puts their story on par with the rest of the series. Gren and Tracel have important roles to play — plus I really want to hang out with them more. They make me happy. 😀


» Genre: High fantasy romance

» Pairing & Identities: M/F (pansexual, transgender)

 

 

Story for “Home for the Holidays” Collection Call

Here’s a new project that wasn’t on my radar, though it’s something that’s been coming for a while. In December, there were a couple of tweets with a list of things that my publisher wanted to see more of in 2018, including the item “non-Christian holidays”. That made me think a bit, because I’d LOVE to see more Pagan holiday stories, though I didn’t pursue it because that requires real-life holidays, which screams CONTEMPORARY, and I don’t write contemporary. Everything comes up lacklustre and boring, then I lose interest and things fall apart. It’s a disaster waiting to happen.

When the “Home for the Holidays” collection call came out in January, I was thrilled to see this bit: “Stories must focus on a holiday, and preference will be given to holidays that do not get much mainstream attention (i.e. we are looking for stories that go beyond Christmas, Thanksgiving, and similar)”, but I was even happier to see this: “Any sub-genre is gladly accepted: sci-fi, mystery, contemporary, steampunk, etc.”.

I decided I’d give it a go, though it’s been like pulling teeth. My first ideas just plain sucked, one of which went the contemporary route, then paranormal, then it got boring, so I scrapped it. A few weeks ago, though, I had an idea that actually stuck. It’s sci fi, but involves future Earth and a space station. The story is still in development, but it’s finally coming along! It took me a few days to come up with character names, though, including one whole day of researching if the names I’d come up with were even real-life names, and what the heck the main character’s name was even going to BE. *face palm* Usually names are one of the easiest, quickest elements for me to whip up. Ugh.

But I’m keeping at it. So far I know the story is about Imbolc, which Druids, Wiccans, and other folks celebrate on Feburary 1st/2nd. It’s a feel-good holiday, celebrating life and light and the oncoming spring. It’s a time to pull around hearth and home and entreat the blessings of the goddess Brighde (aka Brighid, Bridget, and other spellings). Since I feel some pull to Brighde, who’s the Celtic goddess of fire, poetry, inspiration, wisdom, healing, smithing, and other lovely things, I’m running with this.

The premise of the story is simple: Dath, a botanist, has just returned to the space station after being away for a year on a research mission. All he wants is to go down to Earth and celebrate Imbolc with his family and grove, but things don’t go as planned — in fact, it all goes horribly wrong and he’s stuck on the station, all miserable and ick. But then there’s Mack and Kytzia, a couple who are pursuing his affections, and things get plenty interesting…

There’s poly romance, nerdy wooing, a tree made from sexy suggestions, and a chance of lizardbots. Hopefully it’ll turn out to be on the lighter, humourous side that I’m aiming for. Just a pinch of sweet holiday fun. 🙂


» Genre: Science fiction romance

» Pairing & Identities: M/F/NB (pansexual, transgender & genderqueer)

 

 

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NEWS! “Soulbound” Has Been Signed with Less Than Three Press! ♥

 

YES, it’s official: Soulbound, book #4 in The Republic series (aka. Mayr & Tash part 2), has been taken on by my incredibly awesomesauce of a publisher, LT3 Press!

I’ve got so many warm fuzzies over this, you have no idea.

This project’s been a labour of love and need and want and just trying to get it done. The latter was a struggle. The book took 7 months to write, twice as long as expected, then it took another 12 months to get it edited — I kept being tripped up by health issues, resulting in much frustration at myself for feeling like a failure, hating my inability to achieve anything useful. It was such a relief when I finally sent the finished book to LT3 at the beginning of January, and an even deeper relief to receive the acceptance email this week. I just hope people enjoy it, and I hope readers aren’t disappointed in the direction Mayr and Tash have gone. I love these guys — I adore this pair — and hopefully the readers who enjoyed Four will embrace this sequel.

To be honest, Soulbound was never intended to be a thing, not when I wrote Four. At the time, I just really wanted to give Mayr a story, explore his romantic side and place as Aeley’s best friend. When he found Tash, they just gelled — I fell for them, hard. I love their dynamic; the sweet, kind way they love each other, even when things get rough, and their soul-deep need to hold on to what they have. They take the time to slow things down and just breathe with each other. And I love it, that inner peace they find.

But around the time I was working on Blood Borne, I started getting ideas as to where Mayr and Tash would end up. I thought I’d do a novella, just a little bit of fluff, especially after what they said in Blood Borne. I actually have a file entitled “Aim for 30k – 35k (ebook only)”, from the time I’d believed that.

The joke was on me. The story wrote itself into a decidedly fluffy/non-fluffy novel. Even worse: there’s a third installment for these guys, and it’s going to be another beast that ends the series, bringing things full circle. Turns out they’re caught in the centre of the overarching story line, which also just waltzed itself into the series.

Welcome to the writer’s world. This calls for more chocolate.

 

But enough of that… More about the book!

Here’s the tentative blurb, though it’s likely to change:

In a relationship that violates rules and expectations, Mayr and Tash have found their perfect match in each other. Despite their fears and difficult pasts, they hope for a shared future with security and a family. When Mayr’s secret first love, Arieve, proposes they create that family with her, it seems dreams could become reality.

But life is complicated, and so is the delicate balance between duty and love. While Mayr protects the Dahe family at all costs, Tash is determined to succeed as a priest. Both positions require sacrifice, forcing their relationship into painful choices. To make matters worse, criminals lurk in the shadows, seeking revenge on them and those they guard.

The life they want risks losing everything—including Arieve and each other. Even if they can have it all, keeping it may take more than they can give.

 

Key notes about this one: It features bisexual characters, a poly relationship (MMF) that’s also open on Arieve’s end (FF), and it’s written from an MM perspective, with a focus on Mayr and Tash’s relationship and how things go when Arieve becomes part of it.

Having said that… I wish I could’ve added Arieve’s POV. But with the book already being a lot longer than an average novel, I had to hold back. The truth is that in order to tell Arieve’s part of the story, I also have to tell Coye’s (her girlfriend). To tell their story properly, without trying to jam things into a teensy space and doing them a great disservice, I’ve decided to tell Arieve and Coye’s story in a separate book, Heartfastened, which will be book #4.5 since the Shar-denn story line isn’t really part of it. I wanted more FF stories in the series, so it works out.

 

But seriously, what IS Soulbound about?

Moving past fears.

Moving forward together towards a brighter future, fears and doubts and uncertainties included.

Holding onto someone you love more than you love yourself and grappling to keep the peace they offer.

Keeping family and friends close and safe because life without them is terrifying.

 

Soulbound goes deeper into Mayr and Tash’s connection, spinning off of something brought up in Four, which Tash noticed but couldn’t really explain. It’s a matter of what it’s like to be soulmates and the struggle to make their relationship work, especially when their duties bump heads. They’ve both been burned in the past and they both have flaws that can clash, so having a family of their own can seem like a huge mountain to climb. There’s also the fact that Tash shouldn’t even be in such a relationship, not by the laws of the priesthood. He’s under a lot of pressure; they both are. Both fear making choices that will rip everything away and leave them broken and alone.

There’s also the matter of what it’s like having that soul-binding connection and welcoming someone else into it — which is where the poly comes in. Most of the time, when the concept of soulmates comes up, people only ever focus on seeing two people as soulmates and we never discuss the possibility of more because two-by-two is the rule of religion and law and tradition. There’s never a question of what it could be if more than two people were soulmates, or if they brought someone else into their relationship to perhaps build something more. This book goes there, because I’m done with playing by the rules.

I also wanted to write another poly where having kids is on their wishlist. There’s a tendency for poly stories to focus on sex, angst, and the confines of the relationship among the adults involved, but I want more. I want to see poly families. I want to see kids growing up within that framework, with love and support from multiple parents. Stories where it isn’t necessarily about getting off on sexual fantasy, but commitment. I definitely want to see more stories where poly isn’t a boo-hiss, that’s disgusting issue — stories where it’s both socially and legally acceptable.

The book also goes into matters of faith, which I haven’t done in the series yet. Soulbound goes further into their Goddesses, their spirituality, and their customs. With Tash being a priest, it made sense to explore them here — it’s part of how he sees the world, how he thinks, how he solves problems. It’s his safety net, so I ran with it.

Oh, boy, did I run with it.

For those who don’t already know: I’m a Pagan. More specifically, Druid, coming from the old Celtic beliefs, pre-Roman invasion and pre-Christianity. I don’t hide the fact. I’m not ashamed of it. I’m also really, really frustrated with the lack of positive Pagan representation in queer literature and fiction as a whole. There are witches aplenty, but few stories about Wiccans or others in the Pagan boat, especially stories where we’re portrayed as good people. We’re a minority that keeps getting shoved into the dark corners. We’re sneered at, called crazy, dismissed, and there’s always someone wanting to convert us. Our gods and beliefs keep getting twisted up and out and around, bits and pieces used and abused for the sake of pop culture, without an ounce of respect or care that these things are sacred, special, and that people still worship them. Things like Marvel’s Thor movies piss me off because of that very thing — tearing things apart, cherry-picking bits and smashing them together without caring about the deep significance or sacredness. (Because NO, Loki isn’t Odin’s son. He’s more like a blood brother — and knowing that is key to understanding Loki’s value in the pantheon, especially if you consider Odin and him like two halves of the same coin. And NO, Hela isn’t Odin’s daughter, she’s LOKI’s [an important distinction], and she’s in charge of Hel, a realm of the dead — kind of a “default” realm, actually, where many good, regular people end up instead of the halls of other gods. Even Odin and Frigga’s son, Baldr, is there until Ragnarok so he can put the world back together afterwards. Don’t even get me started on ignoring most of the other goddesses.)

Oppression remains alive and well — even our holidays tend not to be recognized, or if they are, many employers don’t care and won’t allow for religious observance, despite our sacred days being millenniums old. There’s also a need to hide — hide our thoughts, hide our symbols, hide who we are. So it’s not a surprise that when I write religious elements, most of the time they’re Pagan-based. I don’t write about the real-life pantheons, though — I leave those be. I would rather live them than write them, out of respect. But I take inspiration from them and come up with something new. That’s what I’ve done with The Republic, and Soulbound gives a better look at the particulars. There’s a portrayal of the Goddesses themselves that I’m rather proud of — the full image of what they represent as individuals. One day, I’m hoping to write a discourse on that religion for this blog, discussing the details, but those familiar with old pantheons might notice the common factors, such as ties to nature, liberty, the hunt, and death. There’s a crapload of symbolism involved. I’ve also included pieces of ritual — Tash actually casts a formal circle at one point, which I’ve never had a character do before. Wiccans, that one’s for you.

There’s so much else to the rest of the book that I haven’t mentioned here, but… spoilers! Hopefully most of it makes it through the rest of the editing process. More than that, I’m really hoping people love it like I do. Mayr and Tash have become so dear to me it hurts sometimes. Their last book is going to be the best kind of hurt… said the sadistic author.

*wanders away, cackling wickedly*

 

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New Release! “Resilience: Puerto Rico” — Charity Anthology for #PuertoRicoRelief || LGBTQA+ Romance + Excerpts!

 

Oooooh, look at this anthology! I’m excited to get my hands on this one (especially A Faire Encounter, I won’t lie. Two words: RENN. FAIRE.). It’s a charity anthology that was released by Less Than Three Press this week, with all proceeds going to the Hispanic Federation to aid relief efforts in Puerto Rico after the effects of Hurricane Maria last year.  There are eight stories in total — all of them LGBTQA+ romances — including fantasy, contemporary, and sci fi.

Congrats to all of the authors, LT3, and Sasha L. Miller for such a great project! And look at that cover — Natasha Snow hit it out of the park once again. ^_^

 

 

Cover for Resilience: Puerto Rico

 

Title: Resilience: Puerto Rico

Queer Identities Included: Asexual, Bisexual, Gay, Genderqueer, Lesbian

Genre: Contemporary, Fantasy, Romance, Science Fiction

Length: 100,000 words

Publisher: Less Than Three Press

Cover artist: Natasha Snow

 

 

All proceeds from this anthology will be donated to the Hispanic Federation to assist with hurricane recovery efforts in Puerto Rico.

 

A Faire Encounter by A.M. Valenza—Elena is working the Renaissance Faire with her cousin Luís when she spots the Cutest Girl Ever, a yawning, shivering, chubby little thing dressed up in a dragon onesie. The only problem is getting her attention. She comes up with a plan: impress that adorable dragon girl at all costs. A little magic wouldn’t hurt either.

Beginnings by Alexa Black—The Finishers are a collective of alien beings that end worlds when “called” to do so. But when they’re not ending worlds, they’re extremely bored. When the Finishers meet Vana, a strange, small being, they find themselves a bit less bored—and curious about what other beings do when they’re not being destroyed. Intrigued, they examine the contents of Vana’s mind… and decide they’d like to try humans’ version of companionship.

Diplomatic Complications by Isobelle Winter—After defeating an alien invasion, Earth has taken its place in the interstellar community. But not all alien species are thrilled to welcome humanity, and it’s Benjamin’s job to work with those species to prevent wars. The Aradon pose the biggest challenge of his career. Not only is there little information about their history or culture, it seems they don’t actually sign treaties, but instead seal alliances through marriages…

Silverhands by Megan Derr—Annia was happy being a humble miller alongside her stepbrother—but her stepbrother prefers that Annia agree to be his wife. When she refuses, he brutally cuts off her hands, and Annia flees when he falls asleep. With no one to turn to, and nowhere to go, she leaves the only home she’s ever known in hopes a new one might be out there somewhere.

Sleepwalking and the Single Girl by Stephanie Rabig—Jessica wants to make a good impression on her new housemates, but what she wants even more is a good night’s sleep after a long shift. But the stress of the move sets off her sleepwalking again, and instead of meeting them over a group dinner, one of them trips over Jessica while in search of a late-night snack…

Dream by Nicole Field—Mia is a painter starting a fledgling relationship with gallery boy Sebastian when her inspiration comes to life in the form of Morpheus, the god of dreams. She is beautiful and compelling, and Mia finds herself caught between the two and unable to choose…

A Night in the Beast’s Arms by L.J. Hamlin—Desperate for a cure that might save his father’s life, Tom ventures into a mysterious castle and encounters the beautiful, mysterious Benji—who becomes something else entirely when the sun sets.

The Potion Maker by Sasha L. Miller—Sarin ran away from the city for a simpler life making potions in the woods. He has good reasons for avoiding people, but when a poisoned Royal Herald falls through his door and literally knocks him over, life gets more complicated than he ever thought he wanted.

 

Content notes: Resilience: Puerto Rico contains some explicit content. The stories Dream and Sleepwalking and the Single Girl feature poly relationships.

 

 

 

Available now at these online retailers!

IMPORTANT NOTE:
To provide the maximum/full donation value to the cause, please buy directly from the publisher, Less Than Three Press, which offers multiple digital formats (as well as a print version to come)! Purchases from 3rd party vendors means a portion of the sale price will be kept by those vendors.

 

Less Than Three Press (Publisher)| Amazon (US) | Amazon (Canada) | Amazon (UK) |
Barnes & Noble | Smashwords | Kobo | Bookstrand

You can also add it to your shelf on Goodreads.

 

 

 

Here are a Couple of  Sneak Previews!

A Faire Encounter by A.M. Valenza

Elena wiped clammy palms on the heavy black skirts of her costume, ready to plunge, ready to walk up and open her mouth to ask that dangerously cute girl on a date. Except she wasn’t, she totally wasn’t, she was super-glued to the spot, she was a total freakin’ coward. Why?! Why was that girl so cute? Look at that perfect bob of shiny black hair, curled ever so faintly at the ends. Elena wanted to kiss each curl, then kiss those round cheeks and that bubbly nose until it fell off, ay, ¡que linda! That skin was a smooth, buttery dark tan, and Elena could nibble those pouty brown lips forever, ay, oof, ack! Elena couldn’t handle it.

She sneezed.

Several sparks of sizzling magic shot from her nose, shit! Shit, shit! She slapped her skirts vigorously, growling as she snatched the mischievous little fires off. She threw them in the mud, ignoring the squeals. Stupid. She wiped her nose, glancing at the girl. Still there. Good. Elena watched. The girl stood awkwardly behind her two friends, cracking an adorable yawn every few minutes. Elena absolutely didn’t want to lose sight of her, though she couldn’t say why that would do any good. She was supposed to be working. Not, like, harassing guests.

Sniffing, she patted her smoking skirts, then scowled when her brass knuckles and metal bracers caught. She definitely didn’t want to get fired. She enjoyed working the Renaissance Faire, and she was today’s Conquering Queen! But the idea of this one disappearing into the crowd, just a glimpse of perfection and nothing more? Unbearable. Elena nodded. Unbearable.

Though disappearing would be kind of hard to do because—because—oh, she could not handle that level of cute, she was going to die—because—

Elena swooned.

Because the girl was wearing a dragon onesie.

A dragon onesie.

Elena yanked her arms free with a nasty tearing sound. A few more sparks shot free of her fingers, singeing a jerky peddler who yelped, then waddled away in a huff.

Pink! The onesie was cotton candy pink against a sea of dark cloaks, leathers, and furs. Maybe on pirate weekend that wouldn’t be so impressive, but dragon girl was a shining beacon of bubblegum against the overcast sky. She sparkled amidst the mist and mud. Elena swooned again. Her little dragon girl looked so small, so cuddly, so very cute as she jiggled in place, obviously chilled. Elena wanted to snatch her away, tote her off—

“Elena, I would make a joke about you staring a hole into her, but you can actually do that, so maybe stop,” Luís muttered, fiddling with his costume’s belt. The leather was smudged, the golden clasp twisted at a bad angle. His nose twitched, eyes staining black for a moment. “Definitely broken. I told that asshole not-Claudio to stop throwing me so hard in the live chess games yesterday.” He jerked his scabbard off. “I’ll have what’s-his-face fix it. What’s-his-face again? Elena? Elena, seriously, stop. You’ll kill her. Bruja, remember?”

“She’s wearing a dragon onesie, Luís! A pink dragon onesie!” Elena hissed, the strain cracking her voice to pieces. She dug her nails into her cheeks, ready to rip her own face off because this girl was destroying her just by existing. Sucking in a breath, she let out a barely audible moan. “Did you see that, Luís? Did you see her push up her glasses? That was perfect. Those tiny hands, just going boop! ¡Me fascina!”

“You’re so gross,” Luís replied. A snap of his fingers and Elena’s head snapped back, a chunk of her hair yanked backwards, ow! She squawked. Ow! Ow! “Mira, mensa, you’re supposed to be Conquering Queen today—”

“I know that! Ow! Get off!”

He rolled his eyes, but released her. She rubbed her scalp, scowling at him. He continued to fuss with his belt and scabbard. “We’re at Faire. At our jobs. Don’t give me that look. I know you, prima.” She scowled so hard she bit her tongue, spewing a bit of blood. “You’re dumb as a dog sometimes. Once you get ahold of an idea, you don’t let it go until you’ve made a mess. And I am not cleaning up your mess, not this time.” Elena gawped, insulted. She wasn’t dumb! “Get back into character. You’re a queen. She’s a frumpy pajama dragon.” Luís whipped his scabbard back on, tying it all together with a loose piece of leather—wait, hey! That had been hanging from her belt! “Scream, swoon, faint, whatever. Just stop staring. I’m not cleaning up your mess.”

“No one asked you to clean it up last time,” Elena replied.

Luís shot a blistering glare at her, and a welt opened up on her cheek. She wiped it away, annoyed, because Luís could be a real petty asshat when he wanted. “Shows how much of a brat you are if you still think that.”

Elena glowered. She couldn’t exactly argue. She was a brat. Luís would know—they were cousins, one year apart, but it felt like fifteen sometimes. Or forty. He acted like a crotchety old dude most of the time, and Elena was admittedly reckless on a good day. Downright destructive on a bad. Which meant their parents had kind of designated him as the ‘responsible older one’ and Elena as a disaster to be mitigated. She didn’t mean to be such a wreck, but sometimes it was hard even for her to figure out how she had gotten from point A to filling the ice cream truck with scorpions.

Oh wait.

That’s right. It had been the song. The song on the speaker had been super annoying, yep, she remembered now. Woke her up from a nap during the worst part of her period.

Eh. She’d do it again.

 

 

Silverhands by Megan Derr

Once upon a time there was a beautiful young woman, named Annia, who was possessed of flawless dark skin, hair the red-gold of autumn, and eyes the gold of a summer sun. She was admired and envied by all in the village, and many dreamed of making her their bride, but none coveted her more than her stepbrother.

She was lovely in appearance, possessed of a kind heart and a bright smile, but it was her hands he most obsessed over. They were strong hands, from keeping house and assisting in their humble mill all day, but soft, the fingers long and elegant, easy when petting animals and deft when sewing, strong when cooking and gentle when stroking a brow at the end of a long day.

He declared he loved her as the sun loves the sky, and wanted her not for a stepsister, but for a wife. Dismayed at his revelation, she begged him to give up such a notion, that though she loved him as any sister loved a brother, she had no desire to be his wife.

Her stepbrother begged and pleaded, but still she would not give in. He raged and ranted, screamed and shouted, but still she refused and urged him to let the notion go, to let them be happy siblings once more.

Enraged beyond all reason, he determined that if he could not have what he wanted, no one would—not even her. Dragging her out to the chopping block, he there took an ax and cut off her hands.

Overcome by pain and fear, Annia passed out.

When she woke in the dark, it was to find someone had carefully bandaged and tended her wounds. The village healer, probably, and bitterness got hold of Annia for a moment at the realization the man had just left her there. Maybe her stepbrother had spun a convincing enough lie.

Heavy snores filled the room, along with the stench of alcohol. Her stepbrother was passed out on a pallet in front of the fire, probably because he’d wanted to keep an eye on her, and later he’d been too drunk to move.

Stifling her tears, Annia did her best to pack what food and supplies she could and fled the only home she had ever known.

On and on she traveled, resting only in brief bursts, keeping hidden whenever she heard people approaching. Eventually, however, her food ran out and exhaustion got the better of her, and Annia was forced to seek shelter in the hollow of a great tree.

The sound of horses and murmuring voices woke her a second time, and she cried out in fear—only to be stopped by a man with kind gray eyes and a warm smile. He was a handsome man, with brown skin and soft-looking, dark curly hair, dressed in the finest clothes she’d ever seen.

Though she was at first afraid, eventually the man convinced her to let him help her, and into his carriage she went. Several hours later, they reached the man’s destination: the royal palace, where everyone greeted him as ‘Your Majesty.’

Before she could run away, terrified all over again at being in the company of the king, Annia was ushered inside and swept off to the healer. Then she was escorted to a room so beautiful and luxurious it made her homesick for her little cottage by the river and the familiar rattle and creak of the mill as it made flour for the village.

Eventually, she fell asleep, and for the first time in many days, slept peacefully. But when she woke in the morning, it was not to find all had been a strange dream, as she had hoped. She had no hands. She was far from home, in a castle that was as terrifying as it was beautiful.

And the king, she was told as a servant appeared to see if she was awake, had invited her to breakfast…

 

 

Annia tried not to gawk as she walked through the halls, following the kind woman who had helped her the previous night and woken her this morning, and given her a tonic for pain. She reminded Annia of so many women back home, with her efficient manner and bright smile, hair pulled tightly back so as to be out of the way, a rolling lilt to her words that the rare city folk who passed through the village did not possess. That the king did not possess.

Oh, moon and stars, the king.

She tried to grip the folds of her heavy skirts with her hands, and was yet again reminded that she didn’t have hands. That the fingers she expected to be there, could swear she felt sometimes, were probably still lying in the grass where Tomi had thrown them.

Tears threatened, and a scream started to form in her throat, but Annia blinked away the tears and choked the scream. Neither would help. She would do as she’d done when her mother had died, when her father had died, when her stepmother had remarried and left them for a new life in a distant city: make do and carry on.

 

 

 

 

 

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“Bleeding Like Me” by Riley Parks || Blog Tour, #Giveaway & Guest Post!

 

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Title: Bleeding Like Me
Author: Riley Parks
Release Date: November 21st 2017
Genre: MM Contemporary Dark Romance
Published by: Boroughs Publishing

 

Cover for "Bleeding Like Me" by Riley Parks

 

BLURB

Being gay in their neighborhood is perilous. Being gay in a street gang is unheard of. Being gay and in love with a man in a rival gang is a death wish. Through drug addiction, brutality, and seemingly endless peril, they remain; finding stability within each other that shouldn’t exist in their volatile world.

BEAUTIFUL CONTRADICTION

He didn’t paint people; the curves of their bodies and angles of their faces never interested him as much as cityscapes. The circumstances of his life had compelled him to create new worlds that he could get lost in rather than reflect the features of the people he ran from. He constructed buildings from their foundations, making them taller and stronger than he was. He adorned the edifices with countless windows, always left open or cracked so hope could pour in and fears could seep out. Tree lined streets reminded him how to breathe, pumping oxygen through the atmosphere, off the canvas, and into his lungs.

He didn’t paint people until the day he no longer desired the anonymity of his cities. The streets didn’t feel like his escape anymore, not like him. Cerulean skies gave way to pale blue eyes and bus routes to pink pouts. Evan didn’t paint people until he painted Jackson.

 

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GUEST POST:

FEELING IT

by Riley Parks

 

You don’t know me, but if you did, you wouldn’t expect that I would write a book exploring the dark themes that weave through my debut novel Bleeding Like Me. I’ve always lived a rather traditional suburban wife life even before I was one. I don’t personally relate to the struggles my characters Jackson and Evan faced on a daily basis. I haven’t had to fear for my life, hate myself, be hated for who I am, or cope with a lifetime of abandonment. I’ve never been caught in the cycle of poverty, shot a gun or done a hard drug, and I won’t pretend I have. Still, somehow, I find I deeply understand my two main characters whose lives are so disparate from my own.

Before I was an author, I was a high school teacher working in an underprivileged area where gangs ruled the streets. My students let me into their world and I listened to their stories with empathy and anger. They deserved better than their circumstances, but regardless of how much I wished I could change their lives in a meaningful way, my impact was micro compared to their bigger picture. Though I didn’t have the capability to influence the culture of the school, I learned from my students, and I hope they learned half as much from me.

The most beautiful part of writing Bleeding Like Me was the chance to give two men who struggled so greatly their happily ever after. Being able to help them find one another, and heal through each other, was an immense privilege. They give me hope that some of the stories told to me while I was working in that high school will end in happiness too.

 

 

EXCERPT

He’d never been to Humboldt Park before, but he heard it had a pretty good scene. When he was unaffiliated, he could get away with going to the gay spots on the South Side, but now that he was with the KKz, he had to be more careful. He disembarked and walked the short distance to the big rock where guys supposedly met. Sitting down on a bench, he pulled out a cigarette he had bummed off Luis and watched as a couple of queens made a connection and disappeared into the wooded area a few feet behind the boulder. He let the filter rest between his lips as he leaned back to stare up at the moon. It was a waxing crescent that barely glowed against the black expanse of the sky, making the already poorly lit park even darker.

He peered down at a man who took a seat on the bench next to him. They sat quietly, Evan’s head still thrown back and the guy smoking his cigarette as if he hadn’t just propositioned him.

“Nice night,” Evan threw out as if he was telling the moon rather than the guy beside him.

“Are you looking to chitchat or are you trying to fuck?” When Evan finally dropped his head, he noticed that the guy was peering at him with raised eyebrows. They stared for a moment, and without a doubt, a spark arced between them.

“Depends what you’re into I guess,” Evan replied, noticing that the man had a perfectly plump pout. He wanted to see what those lips looked like wrapped around his cock. “I’m not going to bend over.”

“Wouldn’t want you to,” the guy replied with a sniff, blue eyes dropping to momentarily study the grass before returning to Evan’s.

“That right?” he questioned, moderately surprised. Mr. Ready To Hook Up seemed to be tough as fuck, with his sleeve tattoos and muscular biceps that were perfectly displayed in his gray sleeveless shirt. Evan knew it was a stereotype that men who exclusively took cock were soft, but in his experience, more often than not, they had been. He’d fucked a variety of guys, and there was always some negotiating between him and a dude who was versatile. This hot motherfucker was clearly a power bottom, a fact that had Evan’s cock standing up to take notice.

“Need me to spell it out for you, Daywalker?” he huffed, eyebrows raised in challenge.

Evan shook his head and self-consciously ran his fingers through his red hair. “So you want to go—” he began.

The guy interrupted by saying, “Show me what you got.”

Without wasting another second, Evan tossed his cigarette to the ground and unzipped the fly of his jeans, arching his back enough to shimmy them, along with his boxer briefs, down his thighs so his hard cock could spring out. Instinctively, he moved a hand down to the shaft and started to pump it.

Blue eyes observed every stroke as full lips smacked subconsciously. “Yeah, I want to fuck,” the guy stated, seemingly impressed by what Evan was working with. Wordlessly, the hot-as-shit motherfucker stood up and started walking, leaving Evan scrambling to get his pants up so he could follow.

 

 

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RileyParksAuthorPhotoAbout the Author

Riley has always loved to write, believing that life has the possibility to be its most beautiful when it’s portrayed on the pages of a book. Feeling the need to create and liberate in the midst of the political landscape, Riley writes novels that focus on LGBTQ protagonists, wanting to honor a community that deserves better representation depicting lives, loves and triumphs in all facets of fiction.

Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

 

 

 

 

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