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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.

 

Find Bleeding Like Me on Goodreads

Buy Links: Boroughs | Amazon US | Amazon UK | iBooks | B&N | Kobo | Smashwords

 

 

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.

 

 

GIVEAWAY:

Two prizes of $15 Boroughs Bucks

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

 

 

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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New Release! “Fight For You” by Kayla Bain-Vrba || Lesbian Romance & a Sneak Preview

Kayla Bain-Vrba’s first lesbian romance was published five years ago. Now it’s back—and it’s gotten a makeover! Check it out on KaylaBain-Vrba.com.

 

Cover for “Fight For You” by Kayla Bain-Vrba

 

Title: Fight For You

Pairing: F/F

Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Length: 18,000 words

Publisher: Less Than Three Press

Cover artist: Michelle Seaver

 

Sold off to pay her father’s debts, Cherry spends her nights dancing and her days longing for freedom. Determined to break free of her life, she transfers from the dance halls to the stadiums where all the real money is made.

The only problem with her plan is that she’s not a fighter. In order to learn, Cherry approaches Berlin, one of the best fighters in the stadium. Berlin, however, wants nothing to do with her, and Cherry realizes the hardest fights do not take place in the arena…

 

 

Available now at these online retailers!

 

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’s a Sneak Preview!

Berlin sighed and rolled her eyes as Cherry followed her behind the house, babbling about learning to fight. She ignored Cherry as she removed her leather armor in practiced motions, unlacing her tall boots until they slipped off and loosening the ties on the sides of her shorts until she could wriggle out of them. Despite the lacings between her breasts and the various straps across the front, she unbuckled the choker around her neck and undid the back laces to remove her cropped top.

Reaching for a bucket of rainwater, she poured it over her upturned face, letting the water run down her naked body. Goddess, it felt good. She poured more across her chest and shoulders to wash away the sweat and dirt and realized the babbling had stopped. Finally. She turned and saw Cherry frozen and staring at her. She set the pitcher aside and pushed her dripping red hair out of her eyes. “You want me to train you?”

Cherry nodded furiously. “Yes. I want to be a fighter. I want to get out of The Zone.”

Without warning, Berlin launched herself forward, tackling Cherry and bearing her to the ground with no resistance. Wet body pressed firmly against Cherry’s, Berlin pulled a face. She hadn’t expected much from the pretty blonde girl, but she had assumed she could at least defend herself a little. How long had she been in The Zone? A week? “That’s it?”

Cherry’s breathing was shallow, and her heart was pounding. Her green eyes were wide, but she couldn’t decide where to look—Berlin’s face or the bare breasts right in front of her.

Berlin snorted, no longer phased by unabashed lusty looks. “There’s just as much skin to distract you in the arena.”

Cherry squirmed out from beneath Berlin. She was pinned again a few moments later, but not before Berlin saw something that interested her.

“You’re flexible,” she said sitting casually on the grass nearby, arms resting on her updrawn knee.

In response, Cherry straightened out one leg and lifted the other—vertically and perfectly straight.

It was an impressive move; Berlin could admit that. She looked Cherry over, big green eyes and long waves of golden hair around a youthful face. She was short with a full figure, large breasts and a round bottom, but she looked young despite how mature her assets were. She was flexible, though, and in all her years of fighting, Berlin had never seen anyone quite like Cherry. She wasn’t a fighter, not yet, but Berlin could make her one. If this girl really wanted to get out of The Zone, Berlin could get her there.

She got to her feet, shaking back damp hair beginning to dry in the sun, and watched Cherry scramble up as well. If Cherry failed, it was no reflection on Berlin. She didn’t have anything better to do anyway.

“Fine.” She stuck out her hand, and Cherry shook it with surprise. “There aren’t any spare rooms in this house, but you can bunk with me.” When Cherry opened her mouth to babble her thanks, Berlin held up a hand to stop her. “Don’t thank me yet. You haven’t seen what I’m going to do to you.”

 

 

About the Author

Kayla Bain-Vrba has been living in daydreams ever since she was a little girl and writing about them for as long as she can remember. It was her discovery of m/m romance that inspired her first published work at age nineteen and is the genre she feels most at home in. When she’s not writing—or is procrastinating writing—Kayla enjoys spending time with her other half, crafting, and planning things to a tee.

Connect with Kayla on her website, www.kaylabain-vrba.com.

 

 

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Bye-bye, 2017! A Look Back Before Moving Forward

 

Well, we did it. 2017 is over… and now we can all take a big, long breath.

It’s been a rough year for me health-wise, which led to problems on the getting-crap-done side of life. Needless to say, it’s been frustrating and a major pain in the everything. I didn’t get as much done as I’d hoped, and it was a struggle to make the stuff I did get done happen. It started with emotional problems in Fall 2016, where I felt pretty low about myself, then got dumped on with all the angst from the US Presidential election and the fall-out from that lovely result. As an empath, it’s super easy for me to intuit, soak up, and take on other people’s anger, fear, depression, worry, and the rest of the spectrum of emotions. It was not an OK time for me, and I didn’t have the strength at that point to protect myself from being overwhelmed.

Winter was brutal. If I wasn’t suffering from depression, then it was a close cousin. There were a few days I didn’t want to get out of bed — it was comfortable, safe, and I couldn’t be arsed to do much. I did manage to finish writing the first draft of Soulbound and get through a first run-through, though.

Though between the winter and the spring, I went from problems with emotions to physical issues. Burned my hand (and multiple fingers) and couldn’t really work with it. Got sick. Then my eyes were shot, I couldn’t read or do much work because it was like having permanent double-vision, and I had to wear an eye patch just to read anything. Finally, I got new glasses, along with a lot of hmmming at my optometrist appointment because things weren’t adding up with my condition. Not really inspiring, to be honest.

The summer wasn’t any kinder: I spent most of it trying to focus and concentrate on making anything happen, but my mental clarity was pretty shot. Just trying to make a simple decision or think was cloudy and frustrating. Kind of like mucking through a mud-pit and getting nowhere. Or maybe quicksand. Actually, maybe much more like quicksand.

Thankfully, things started to perk up in October, and I was able to push through the rest of autumn, straight into winter, and right through New Year’s. I actually pushed Soulbound towards the finish line this week and was able to send it to my publisher. PARTY TIME!!! \o/

To mark this happy occasion, and the end of a year I never want to see again, here’s a brief look at a few awesome things that happened here in 2017.

 

Blood Borne: Book Release and Flash FictionsBlood Borne COVER

On July 12, 2017, Blood Borne (#3 in The Republic series) was released through Less Than Three Press. This is one of my darker offerings, getting into the lives of two characters who are entrenched in their nation’s most brutal gangs: Ress, who made his debut in Four as Tash’s (former) best friend, and Adren, a new addition to the series ensemble. Both have major personal issues to deal with, and they end up combining those issues into a surprise relationship. But it turns out to be a healthy relationship — one that inspires them to get out of their icky situations and to safer ground. It just takes a little while and a lot of courage. Like a lot, because the gang really doesn’t fool around.

Highlights of the book include my first asexual character (Ress), my first genderqueer character (Adren), and my first go at using neopronouns for a character (ce and cir, because Adren doesn’t identify as female or male — ce’s bigender, instead). Blood Borne also introduces the Goddess-touched, a magic-wielding race of humans who are descendants of their goddesses. This has opened up an entire new playground to wreak havoc in, because where magic goes, trouble usually follows. Not only has it given me a chance to really dig into their nation’s history, I’ve come up with entirely new characters and situations I’m so jazzed to write about. Book #5, that’s all I’m saying. *creepy, manic laughter*

In October, the book’s blog tour happened with the help of Signal Boost Promotions. For that, I wrote a handful of guest posts, a couple of which were flash fictions: one where Ress teaches Adren a simple recipe for a yummy bread and ends up wearing most of the ingredients, followed by a series short where they seem to be visited by the ghost of Varen, one of Ress’s best friends. I also wrote posts about other things, including why I write fantasy, how I build my worlds, and how writing this book has done good things for my partner and I. You can check out this post here for the links to all of them.

And if you’re interested in reading Blood Borne, you can find all the buy links here, including the option to buy directly from my publisher. If you’ve read the book and enjoyed it, please consider leaving a review on Goodreads, Amazon, or other retailers! It’d be very much appreciated, you have no idea.

 

 

2016 Bisexual Book Awards

This year, the winners of the 2016 Bisexual Book Awards were announced. The Bi Book Awards are hosted by the Bi Writers Association and celebrate bi+ characters in literature. In May 2017, I found out that For the Clan was a Finalist in their Speculative Fiction category, along with the Enchanted Soles anthology, which also a Finalist in the Anthology category.

Winners were announced in June: Enchanted Soles took won Best Anthology *and* my publisher won Publisher of the Year. *throws confetti* Congrats all the way around! My anthology mates and I even got our own fancy little awards to keep. One of the best packages of happy I got this year! ^_^

 

 

2017 Rainbow Awards

In December, the winners of the 2017 Rainbow Awards were announced! For anyone not familiar with these awards, they celebrate LGBTQA+ literature, including fiction and non-fiction. It’s always an honour to be nominated, and I really love how the entry fees are turned into donations to not-for-profit organizations that help queer folk. It’s a beautiful thing! (This year’s awards raised $13035.59, split among many charities!)

Both Four and Blood Borne were nominated, thanks to my publisher for whom I am grateful and truly lucky to work with. ♥♥♥

Neither won top prize or anything, though they did place, which is a blessing in itself.

Cooooool. Congrats to all of the winners! And seriously giggly congrats to everyone in the Transgender Sci-Fi / Futuristic, Paranormal Romance, Fantasy & Fantasy Romance category — all Less Than Three Press authors! *awkwardly happy dance*

 

 

Soulbound: Finished and Submitted!

Here’s the last and one of the best things about 2017 (and this week): I finally got Soulbound written, edited to within one inch of my life, and submitted to LT3. WHEW! It’s been a journey. This is book #4 in The Republic series, and carries on from both book #2 with the same couple, Mayr and Tash, and book #3, as it picks up the day after Blood Borne finishes, then carries on with certain storylines.

I’ll chat so much more about it at a later time, but I’m just happy to have it done. It’s a BEAST. I started writing it June 23, 2016 and completed the first draft on January 25, 2017. It took me until two days ago (January 3, 2018) to get it fixed up to a point where I’m totally sick of seeing the thing. SO MANY EDITS. It started off at 173,568 words, but I’ve pared it down to a slightly less scary 135,696 words. Still, that’s A LOT, considering an average novel is usually between 80,000 and 120,000 words. A lot of editors and publishers won’t even touch anything over 120k, which can suck for authors of high fantasy because sometimes it takes a little more than that to tell the story with the plot and characters and allll the world-building. Thankfully, my publisher is a bit more forgiving, so I’m not totally stressing as much as I could be.

Still, it’s taken a year to get it right. But I’m happy with it. There’s so much sappy, saccharine, lovey-dovey stuff in it, accompanied by some not-so-happy things. Mayr and Tash have a journey to go on, and this is just part 2. I’m thrilled to have finally gotten to get into Tash’s head. He’s similar to Mayr, where how he acts and presents himself to others isn’t necessarily how he feels or sees himself. He’s messed up, but he’s still learning, still growing, and still working on redeeming himself.

There’s SO MUCH in the way of family stuff and friendship in this book. There’s a poly relationship involving them and Mayr’s first love, Arieve. That relationship is also open on Arieve’s end, leading to an expanded view of what a nuclear family can look like. There are a few of the Dahe guards that Mayr’s in charge of, and this won’t be the last of them. There’s more about certain characters that I couldn’t reveal things about before because the POV wasn’t right. There’s just STUFF. I’m crossing my fingers that my publisher enjoys it. *bites nails down worse than they already are*

 

And that’s it for this post! Thanks for reading and hanging in there with me, and thanks for all your support. In a couple weeks, I’ll post about what I plan to work on in 2018. Until then — peace!

 

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“Masked Heart” by Calli Hall || Blog Tour, #Giveaway & Exclusive Excerpt!

 

 

Title: Masked Heart
Author: Calli Hall
Release Date: November 28th 2017
Publisher: RAWmance Publishing
Genre: Gay romance, Historical

 

 

BLURB

Benedict, Duke of Lexerton, faces a problem. After his brother’s sudden passing, he is confronted with the necessity to find a spouse.

Trying to fulfill his obligation at the events of high society, he repeatedly encounters a strange woman. Who is this mysterious Madame P. and how is she connected to his brother’s death?

A gay historical thriller about forbidden passions, power and a deadly secret society.

 

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

 

 

 

EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT

Madame P. pulled the hood of her cape further down over her veiled face. Gracefully and without haste she approached the stately villa of her host. It thundered deafeningly, followed closely by violent lightning, as the door was opened for the darkly dressed woman and she allowed her cloak to be taken from her shoulders.

As if cast from misfortune, the soothsayer Madame P. stood in the ballroom, her hair as dark as her clothing and the permanent veil in front of her white-painted face. Everything underneath encouraged the aristocracy’s fantasies as much as her prophesies themselves.

Part fascinated, part afraid, the gazes of the invited guests followed her. She appeared to have an effect like a demon from the deepest abysses of Hell.

Whispered behind the fans of moneyed society, even the King’s family were said to have made use of the services of the mysterious foreigner. It was outrageous when one considered that said mysterious foreigner had resorted to prophesying the death of a few of the most esteemed members of the nobility only to then to be proven right!

Madame P. let her sharp eye wander over those present. Indeed, hardly a new face among them. Nevertheless the evening would be worth it for her. Lady Saint Claire, a faithful, regular customer and her host today was rewarding her for her appearance in more than just money.

Sometimes the dark-haired woman seemed like a rare animal, which was shown around until the people got bored and looked for something new. Thus was human nature: always on the hunt for a new excitement. However, her star was still shining, and they still hung on her every word. They were waiting for the next prophecy.

 

 

 

EXTRA EXCERPT

How long had he been in the dungeon? How long had it been since his darkened eyes had seen anything other than his dark cell?

Too long. Long ago, after his voice had broken, he had given up the screaming, which had echoed back to him from the halls of this Hell. Unheard.

Now he had become like his guards, deaf to the suffering that reached his ears. He didn’t hear it at all anymore, didn’t feel the cold that ate through his bones, nor the hunger in his stomach. The rustling of the rats, the disgust at these vermin, the thirst that burned in his throat: all of this he had learned to suppress.

Only the stink in his nose had eaten into him worse than the scar on his face. He had always been sensitive to smell. Since his early childhood it had been his most highly developed sense. He used to dream of becoming a perfume maker and of creating the finest scents. He twisted his mouth ironically. Look how far these senseless dreams had brought him. He had been waiting for his execution for months.

The hope from the first week of the trial and the belief he could prove his innocence had died. They were as dead as he soon would hopefully be. Long was he beyond the phases of blind rage, hate of the unknown person, who he had to thank for all of this, as well as sadness, hope, and doubt.

He only desired the rope that would free him from this dungeon, in which a small piece of his soul broke night after night.

Thunder rumbled overhead. He only guessed at the following lightning. Not even that found a way in to illuminate his forced home. The blackness held him with an iron grip.

Bored, the prisoner broke a piece off the moldy edge of his bread. The furry nose of his roommate immediately appeared through a crack. It sniffed in every direction before the small animal made its way to him, careful and alert.

What irony. This rat and he now had the same status in the eye of society. Not much was left to differentiate between them. Both of their daily lives consisted of the hope for a little moldy bread. The squeaking of the cell door scared the dirty brown animal away. He didn’t react to it anymore. It was too late in the day for his guards to have remembered to bring him something to eat or to take him to the gallows.

Bile wanted to rise up in his throat. Quietly he balled his bony hands into fists to try to suppress the familiar shaking. He had learned not to defend himself when they set upon him, to just close his eyes and hope that it would be over soon.

On his first night in this Hell he had given up prayer, on the second night begging for mercy. However this time it was not the smell of cheap schnapps that filled his tiny room. It was as if he were suddenly standing on the deck of a ship in the eye of a storm. He could feel the powerful waves beneath him, how the ship swayed, how the rain hit him in his face and the wind tugged at his hair.

Instinctively the prisoner shook his head to shoo off the bittersweet delusions his nose was giving him. Never again would he stand on the planks of a ship.

The stranger stood quietly in the doorway.

An icy watcher was eying the prisoner’s back. Even if he couldn’t see him, he still felt him and how the sharp look penetrated beneath his cracked skin into his deepest chasms.

However, for him the eyes were not his most important means of recognizing people. Rain and sea. He tasted its scent on his tongue. Interested, his tired eyes rose to meet the visitor.

 

 

GIVEAWAY:

Win 2 x Masked Heart ebooks

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

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

 

 

 

About the Author

Ever since Calli was released into the world in 1986, she’s been driving everyone around her crazy. She spends the nights in a bed of books, fighting with her dog Toby for the blanket. As she lost the fight once more, she started writing, because the TV program at 3 am is simply awful. She’s a huge fan of Gay Romance and Yaoi Mangas, so she knew exactly what she wanted to write about, and her sister Carla reads the midnight creations pretty willingly. However, if the guys don’t get their happy ending, she’ll beat Calli until there’s enough sugar in the story (and the happy ending). Covered in bruises and tired, she hopes you’ll enjoy her books as much as Toby enjoys his place in Calli’s bed.

 

 

 

 

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EXCLUSIVE Flash Fictions & the End of the BLOOD BORNE Blog Tour #Giveaway

 

The Blood Borne tour with Signal Boost Promotions is wrapping up today! In the last few weeks, a handful of bloggers have shared either a guest post from me *or* an exclusive flash fiction piece — and all of them include the tour-wide giveaway. (4 lucky winners will get a $5 Amazon gift card!)

Below are links to every tour stop. You can visit ANY of the posts to take part in the Rafflecopter giveaway for however long the giveaway lasts. (It ends really, really soon!! Like today…in 8 hours!)

Many thanks to all of the bloggers who are on the tour with me! ♥♥♥

•••

 

October 16, 2017 – EXCLUSIVE Flash fiction @ Love Bytes
“Baking Lessons & Gifts”
I haven’t written flash fiction in a very long time (high school?). Certainly I’ve never done one for a story I’d already written, but I’ve been bitten by the inspiration bug after seeing the flash fics from other authors , so… here’s a fun one! This is what happens when Ress gives Adren cir first baking lesson, post-Blood Borne, when they’re in a better position to be happy. Poor kitchen. ^_^

 

October 20, 2017 – EXCLUSIVE Flash fiction @ MM Good Book Reviews
Ghosts
Another flash fiction, this time more solemn. In honour of Samhain (aka Hallowe’en), here’s a look at how things goes down when Ress takes Tash, Adren, and Mayr to the abandoned house that used to belong to their two other brothers-by-choice. It’s a little side-scene takes place during Blood Borne, during one of Tash’s visits to Araveena to check on Adren. I’ve tried not to include too much in the way of spoilers, though I will say that both Nimae and Varen have some significance left to come in the series. *zips mouths shut with great difficulty*

 

 

And in case you missed them, here are the previous guest posts:

 

October 3, 2017 – Guest post @ Queer Sci Fi
The 4 Reasons Why I Write Fantasy
Just what it says: a trip down writer’s lane with the main reasons I love writing fantasy, because I really can’t help myself. I’m such a high fantasy junkie. It’s so vast, so open, so creative and involved. Love, love, love it.

 

October 6, 2017 – Guest post @ The Novel Approach
How Writing Blood Borne Has Helped My Marriage
Something wonderful happened while I was writing Blood Borne: my wife and I touched on something important to her — who she is in terms of gender, and it’s thanks to Adren’s character. Because words and representation matter. Sometimes it just takes the right moment and some random babbling to inspire the most meaningful conversations. ❤

 

October 11, 2017 – Guest post @ Diverse Reader
Building a Fantastical World from Scratch
Here’s a little bit about how I build worlds in what I write, especially since I’m a die-hard high fantasy nerd. This is a super-duper boiled down version of my process, though I’m hoping to write an expanded version and post it here on my site at some point in the future. World-building is so hilariously FUN! I’d love to open that can of very colourful, very epic (gummy)worms. (Did I mention I’m a nerd?)

 

Happy reading!

 

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