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“Enchanted Soles” & “For the Clan” Winners @ the 2016 Rainbow Awards! {ON SALE NOW for $0.99, Limited Time ONLY!!!}

 

Whew! It’s been a fun few hours here. The winners and runners up of the 2016 Rainbow Awards have been announced… and both the Enchanted Soles anthology (with my story, Heart, Lace, and Soul) and For the Clan have won!!

BOTH books are ON SALE for $0.99 from now until midnight EST on Friday, December 9 at Amazon, All Romance eBooks, and directly from the publisher!

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Enchanted Soles cover (small)

Enchanted Soles won 1st place TWICE! #1 in Best Bisexual Book & #1 in Best Bisexual Fantasy/Fantasy Romance.

Congrats to our fantastic editor, Sasha L. Miller, and my fellow anthology authors: A.D. Truax, C. Finley, A.M. Valenza, and Katey Hawthorne!

 

 

 

FtC COVER

For the Clan won 2nd place in in Best Bisexual Fiction.

It also placed as a Runner Up in Best Bisexual Book.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other Less Than Three Press Books won awards too… and they’re ALSO only $0.99 right now! Get them ASAP — the special price will be available through midnight EST on Friday, December 9.

BONUS: Purchases through the LT3 Book Market will count toward their AWESOME holiday raffle!

  1. Alexey Dyed in Red by A.M. Valenza – #1 Best Debut Asexual Book, #2 Best Asexual Book
  2. Beauty & Cruelty by Meredith Katz – #1 Best Lesbian Debut Book, #2 Best Lesbian Fantasy Romance, Runner Up Best Lesbian Book
  3. For Promise Yet Unbroken by Tygati – #1 Best Asexual Book
  4. Glove of Satin, Glove of Bone by Rachel White – #3 Best Lesbian Fantasy Romance
  5. The Forbidden Zone by Victoria Zagar – Runner Up Best Gay Sci-Fi/Futuristic
  6. The High King’s Golden Tongue by Megan Derr – #2 Best Bisexual Fantasy/Fantasy Romance, Runner Up Best Bisexual Book
  7. Ravenhearth by Lotus Oakes – Runner Up Best Gay Fantasy Romance
  8. Supernatural Consultant Vol 1 by Mell Eight – Runner Up Best Gay Paranormal Romance
  9. To Terminator, With Love by Wes Kennedy – #2 Best Debut Asexual Book, #3 Best Asexual Book
  10. Tournament of Losers by Megan Derr – #1 in Best Gay Fantasy, #3 in Best Gay Book
  11. Under the Knife by Laurin Kelly – #2 Best Gay Debut Book, Runner Up in Best Gay Contemporary Romance and Best Gay Book
  12. We Go Forward by Alison Evans – #3 Best Debut Asexual Book

 

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What are the Rainbow Awards?

The 2016 Rainbow Awards is an annual contest celebrating outstanding work in LGBT fiction and nonfiction. Hosted and owned by blogger Elisa Rolle, the contest is open to all authors of work containing LGBT fictional characters and work chronicling the true stories of LGBT persons. ~ http://www.elisarolle.com/rainbowawards/rainbow_awards_2016.html

 

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Celebrating Transgender Awareness Week & Trans Fiction Week #TransFictionWeek #TransAwarenessWeek

 

Happy Transgender Awareness Week 2016!

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This year, Trans Awareness Week has been on from this past Monday (November 14) and goes to Sunday, November 20. To celebrate and put trans and non-binary identities up front and centre, the Trans Fiction Week initiative has been sharing posts all week. Or, as TFW puts it more eloquently:

“Transgender and non-binary people are enormously under-represented in media, including in the LGBT fiction world, and yet we have so many amazing stories to be told. So for one week, we are going to be focusing on transgender and non-binary voices, perspectives, and characters as told by the people writing, reading, working and creating queer stories.”

 

Today, my piece for Trans Fiction Week goes live on their site.

The post gets personal. I might be cisgender, but that doesn’t mean I can’t get what my transgender peers are feeling. (Note: being an empath helps. Mix with that my deep-rooted need to understand what makes people do what they do and you get this thing I’m used to.)

It also doesn’t mean the discrimination and exclusion of people who are transgender or non-binary doesn’t piss me off. Because it does. So bad. Discrimination as a whole pisses me off.

So I wrote a post.

It talks more about my approach to characters in my work who are transgender or non-binary and touches on why the issue of transgender representation in literature is important to me. As the Depeche Mode song goes: “People are people”, and that’s how I see everyone. All just people doing their thing, trying to get from point A to point Z the best way they know how while trying to be who they are. And I’m cool with that.

What I’m not cool with is “They’re not like me so f*#k ’em” or “They’re different so let’s exclude them”. I know exactly what it’s like being excluded because I’m different for one reason or another. Because I don’t fit someone’s box of what they think is acceptable. And being scared (or even terrified) of being yourself? Did it. Done it. In certain situations, I still am. I’ve been harassed for no other reason than I didn’t “fit” in the popular group or majority. I know how shitty it is to treat people like they don’t belong, and if it’s over gender or sexuality or anything like that, don’t even get me started.

So I wrote the post.

Being non-binary and transgender is an in-my-own-household sort of personal. We live it around here. Especially this year: my partner has been moving forward with embracing the non-binary part of herself* rather than staying confined to cis, and I couldn’t be prouder. Just because society says there are two boxes doesn’t mean you have to be in either of them. I’m not about to deny my partner or our friends the right to be themselves. (* This pronoun isn’t a mistake; it’s what she’s going by. Though it doesn’t negate that she really appreciates an “Other” box when asked for gender.)

If you’re interested in reading the article, it’s over here. But as an added bonus here on my blog, below are bits about the three characters I’ve touched on in that post annnnnnd an excerpt from Blood Borne, coming out in 2017.

 

Tracel
in Rule Breaker (The Republic #0.5) {in Won’t Back Down anthology}

While Gren might be the main character in RB, Tracel is very much a hero in her own right: she stands up to Allon and makes quick decisions to save who she can. She’s a healer who has had her share of disappointments when it comes to romantic relationships. Assigned male at birth, she identifies as female and really wants to do away with the uncomfortable male bits, but can’t due to medical complications and possible death (their world is very much in the vein of medicine from our 16th to 19th centuries). But she doesn’t let that stop her from being who she is.

This isn’t the last appearance of Tracel in this series, however. Mortal Coils (book #7) revisits Tracel and Gren’s relationship as it moves forward. In that installment, Tracel will also make an important decision about aligning her physical self to how she really feels, thanks to a new friendship she’s formed with someone who understands what it’s like to be in that situation. (Seriously, I’m jazzed about that, because Kessan is going to be so much fun to write. He’s fun-loving, gothic, in a polyamorous triad and… spoilers.)

 

Adren
in Blood Borne (The Republic #3)

Like most of the characters in the series, Adren is complicated and has problems. In BB, cir actions and decisions play directly into what happens in the rest of the series. In terms of identity, Adren is best described as a bigender-genderqueer-non-binary-transgender heteoromantic allosexual. In short: Adren is neither female nor male but both, each with their own presentation and feels. Chosen pronouns are “ce” and “cir”, though trying to get family and colleagues to use those terms is frustrating, especially since most of those colleagues don’t respect cir.

Although Adren’s relationship to Ress is antagonistic in the beginning, Adren’s not a bad person. At all. Ce’s got a good heart and an amazing set of abilities. But ce’s been raised in a family that’s not so good. With their family comes responsibility… and a desperate need to avoid jail. Basically, think of a really nasty mafia. What do you do when your dad’s a mafia BOSS? When your brothers love being in the mafia? As much as ce wants out, Adren can’t just up and leave. Not with this gang. Not when they’re the only family ce has. So Adren gets stuck in positions ce’d rather not be in because ce loves them. It’s the only life ce knows.

Things with Ress, though, have interesting implications. Even better: he gets cir. Not completely, but enough to accept Adren as ce is and move on from there. Love wins big in this one.

For more about Adren, check out the excerpt below.

 

Elly Satuura
in Heart, Lace, and Soul {in Enchanted Soles anthology}

Elly is another professional in the medical industry, but her world is one of high-end technology, science, and magic. Within that world, she’s been at her job for a while, has already been married and divorced, and is moving on to the first romantic relationship she’s had in a long time. But she worries. Hard. She identifies as a transgender bisexual and has gone through gender alignment surgery… with the help of her now ex-wife, who was fine with all of it but their relationship still fell apart. When she realizes the possibility of having something with Vadrick, she worries how her gender will affect the relationship. (Spoiler: It doesn’t bother him one bit. It’s all good news.)

 

~~~

And now for an excerpt from Blood Borne (coming in 2017)

Author’s note: Blood Borne is a queer, HEA, enemies-to-lovers, high fantasy romance featuring two characters living in really messed-up situations. There aren’t any fluffy unicorns here. They also aren’t villains. More than anything, they’re heroes-in-training, whose bravery starts with small actions but has big potential. Themes of the book include sacrifice, family, freedom, making difficult choices in the face of lethal adversity, and doing what good is possible in a bad situation.

~~~

 

Guilt struck Adren’s gut. The accusation was wrong the moment the words floated through cir mind. Maliciousness had never been easy for cir, no matter the circumstances. It was why ce never went on hunts with the Shar-denn packs or joined the reconditioning of wayward members. From an early age, cir father had realized cir value existed in other efforts to take control from the High Council.

Ce was a bleeding heart, an ugly fact ce tried to hide from the rest of the gang, disguising it like everything else ce was.

And now my heart’s bleeding all over this rug. Just can’t help itself, can it? Even when I’m screaming inside, telling it to stop being such a damn traitor. Adren frowned at the rug peeking out from beneath the hem of cir white dress. Although ce tried not to care, ce felt bad about the lapsed marriage between Inesta and Ress. There was no reason to be sympathetic, but sorrow clung to cir emotions, digging its claws in further the more ce tried to shake it off. Even worse, ce was at a loss for words, not that ce had the right to say anything at all. Not when ce had never been in a romantic relationship, let alone any attachments outside of family. No one knew what to make of cir—and no one could when cir father ensured no one got close enough to try. Not that anyone wanted to. There was enough about Adren to ward off the most brazen and courageous men, and that was without knowing the truth of what ce was.

Forget me. What in the name of the Four are you? Adren glared at Ress, watching him scrub the floor. Do something—anything—that’ll take this feeling away. I despise you with the fury of a thousand suns; I want you to be miserable. Do something that makes me so mad I can’t help but kill you. Because what I’m feeling… it can’t happen. I can’t feel sorry for you. I have to smother you in your sleep and steal your stuff. I have to look you in the eye and slice open your entrails then sell them to the faction. So do something, you sneaky, docile bastard!

If ever ce needed to be someone other than cirself, it was now. Ce needed to be cir father’s child, everything the Shar-den wanted. Failure was not acceptable.

And seeing a mark as anything close to human was begging for a slow death.

“I’m going for a walk,” Adren announced before swallowing the disgust leaving an acidic taste on cir tongue. To sit there any longer and delay the meeting with cir father’s men was dangerous. Ce would not believe Ress was as nice as he acted, nor could ce waste time wondering about him. Nothing had changed since cir arrival in Araveena Ford. Not the intention, not the motivation, not the required end. No rogue emotions or unwelcome thoughts could deter what needed to happen.

Ress lifted his head, appearing dazed. “Sure.” He glanced at the kitchen window, the sunlight illuminating his scarred jaw. “Sounds like a good idea, being a nice day and all. I can come with… if you want?”

Why? Adren nearly spat out, biting back the harsh tone. Ce needed to lull him into trusting cir, not keep snapping at him, no matter how good it felt. “Maybe not this time. I need to be alone to think, but thanks.”

“Oh.” Ress’s gaze fell, disappointment splayed across his face. “I should be here when you get back. Then we can figure out this dinner thing. Ines always—” His face reddened and he resumed scrubbing the floor, shifting his weight to and from his injured knee.

“Sure,” Adren muttered, confused by his embarrassment. His reactions made no sense.

With one look at the settee, Adren considered discarding the blanket draped around cir but decided against it. The contrast of black on cir white dress spoke to how ce felt right then—a blending of everything ce was inside, soft and stark all at the same time.

Ce toyed with the rings on the chain around cir neck, tempted to put them on cir fingers. The cold metal clamping cir skin would push back the part of cir that wanted to bathe in the silken caress of flower petals, balancing the delicate connection between appearance and inner self. The urge was no different than what ce had felt earlier that morning, binding cir chest before dressing.

Have you even noticed the difference? Adren’s face warmed as ce forced cirself to leave the house. What did it matter if Ress noticed what ce did or did not do? If anything, ce needed him not to care. Enough people revealed their opinions about what ce did to feel like cirself. The last thing ce needed was someone new chastising cir for not being like everyone else, fulfilling the supposed rules of who ce ought to be.

One of the only good things about being on my own: no one’s telling me I’m wrong. No one’s insisting on calling me by my other name and ignoring the one I chose like it’s something to be ashamed of. I can be me.

Tightening the blanket around cir shoulders, Adren approached the road and turned left, heading towards the river ce had followed to Araveena Ford after fleeing Elsove Hillock twenty days ago. Ce wanted the freedom to be who ce was without explaining or justifying the whys and how of something ce did not understand. Some days, ce woke up feeling like a woman, overcome with the desire to touch beauty, an insatiable need to float on the breeze like the gentlest fabric, and undeniable want for sweet scents. But sometimes, even within the same day, ce felt like a man, taking comfort in unfeeling, lifeless metal, with a craving for spices that could cleanse cir spirit with their potency, and the urge to dig cir fingers into the earth to soak up its heat.

Other days, ce felt the essence of both, a curious tug-and-pull that found equilibrium, allowing cir to dream in the comfort of feeling whole. Ce was all of it at once, all of the time, unable to pick one over the other for too long. Both and neither, ce was caught in the middle of wishing for parts ce did not have and reveling in who ce was.

The presence of other people only complicated matters further. How ce dressed, cir choice to be called Adren instead of Eradrene, how ce acted—all of it was about showing who ce really was rather than hide. The freedom from being on cir own made existing less of a hassle.

Except freedom came at a price ce could not afford.

Adren’s face heated with the depth of cir rage. How dare Ress betray their family and the Shar-denn. They had entrusted him with secrets and given him the means to have influence within the ranks. They had protected his family and taken him back after the High Council arrested him. Barring the fact no one wanted to attack him should he retaliate with weapons they knew nothing about, the Shar-denn not only let him live, they allowed him to continue working. How could he have turned in a faction boss? What else had he done and what were his intentions? Was it a matter of saving himself or was he trying to dismantle the Shar-denn, one betrayed member at a time?

His reasons were irrelevant, Adren decided. A cold breeze swept down the dirt road from behind cir as ce turned onto a flat, well-trodden path descending to the river, a shortcut to the ruins of an old bridge. At midpoint, thick brush surrounded the path, the twigs of dark, half-bare brambly bushes spilling into the leaf-littered pathway. Long, drooping tree limbs weighted with orange and yellow-black leaves formed an arbour above, riddled with holes that let sunshine through. Purple-winged silverbirds hopped branches, twittering upbeat songs as their outstretched feathers dislodged wilting leaves that swayed to the dry red earth. Past the birdsong was the gurgle of fast-moving water flowing over rocks.

Laughter and loud whoops of excitement flashed through cir thoughts, dancing around fragments of bright, vivid colours moving quickly. Giddy with anticipation dragged up by memory, Adren stroked the wilting leaves of the bushes and surrendered cir worries to a lazy smile. If ce immersed cirself in the recollections, ce could almost feel cir brothers whoosh by cir as they used to as children whenever they cut through the brush on the way to the pond near their home. Merasha had taught all three of them how to swim, insisting that any skill was a skill worth having, even if they never set foot on a ship or fell into a river. More than once, she had accompanied Adren, Mordane, and Tethe on their youthful excursions to the pond, teaching them how appreciate life and each other. While Merasha had preferred to bask in the sun at the edge of the pond as they splashed and played in the water, her presence was always felt, each water drop reminding Adren of the moments with cir mother. Not only had Merasha taught them to tread water and keep their heads high, she had taught them control. She had given them confidence and mastery over an adversary.

In those same lessons, she had showered them with the steadfast love of a mother, captured in every breath they struggled to take and the tender embraces that rewarded them. Her calm, soothing voice fluttered around Adren’s thoughts on small wings of memory, reminding cir to hold onto what hurt inside. Ce could not forget who ce was fighting for; ce had to let the pain drive cir. Pain means something’s wrong, Merasha had said often, and that wrong has to be put right before there is peace. No matter what it takes, no matter the sacrifice, we do what we have to do to make that peace. There is no running away, just pushing forward.

Even if it killed the soul in the process.

 

 

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Virtual FantasyCon 2016 Starts Today! {Runs from Oct 9 – 16 on Facebook}

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Starting today, the second annual Virtual FantasyCon will be taking place until October 16th, 2016 — and it’s all on Facebook!

 

This is an online convention — one you can attend for free. Come meet new authors, chat with participants, comment on the booths, take part in the games and prizes at those booths, and participate in the events, including:

► The Cosplay booth, with a daily prize bundle for a best Cosplay selfie and a Grand Prize at the end of the week!

► Panel Discussions on Youtube

► Blog Hop Hunt — participate, submit the right answer, and you could be eligible to win even more prizes. There are both daily prize bundles and a Grand Prize.

 

Each day will focus on a different genre/subgenre, including urban fantasy, sci fi, all version of types of Punk, paranormal, epic fantasy, fairytales, YA, and more. Authors, artists, and bloggers will have their own virtual booths for readers and fans to attend and see works, teasers, and more.

 

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I’m thrilled to announce that I will be one of the authors at the event on Sunday, Monday, and Thursday, representing epic fantasy, sci-fantasy, and fantasy series. Come on by and say hello!

 

 

Interested? Here are ALL THE LINKS you need!

Booths

Epic/Sword & Sorcery Sunday

Sci-Fi/Sci-Fantasy/Time-Travel Monday

Fairytale/Punk Tuesday

Paranormal/Urban Wednesday

Series/Short Stories Thursday

Dystopian/Apocalyptic Friday

Dark/GrimDark/Horror Saturday

Children/YA Fantasy Sunday

 

 

Blog Hop Hunt

Blog Hop Hunt website

The quick link to the ENTRY PAGE!

 

 

And for a place to chill out with other attendees, the Reader’s Corner event page

Reader’s Corner

 

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Winners in the “Four” Release Day Giveaway!

 

For those who don’t already know, I was running a giveaway this past month to celebrate the release of my new book. I’m happy to say the giveaway is now over and I have the list of winners! Thank you to everyone who participated. This was the first Rafflecopter giveaway I’ve run — and it seems to have functioned, despite my fumbling in the back end.😉

Onto the winners (which hopefully will eventually show up in the Rafflecopter widget):

 

* Winner #1: Ami
$20 Amazon gift certificate

 

* Winner #2: Kara G.
An eBook set of the first two stories in The Republic series: Won’t Back Down (with the novella, Rule Breaker) + A Question of Counsel

 

* Winner #3: Holly J.
$5 Amazon gift card

 

* Winner #4: Didi
An eBook copy of For the Clan

 

 

Congrats to you all! I’ll be contacting you via email soon and getting the prizes to you.

 

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Excerpt from WIP, “Soulbound” (The Republic #4) – #BiWeek 2016 #BiVisibilityDay

 

Happy Bi Visibility Day!
(AKA Celebrate Bisexuality Day)

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Earlier this week, I shared a personal post on being bisexual. But today is a different kind of sharing day. If we want to encourage the acknowledgement of bisexuals in society, we need to represent them in our literature. We need to tell their stories, whether they be fiction or non-fiction.

When I first started writing romances, I wanted to write LGBTQA characters in loving relationships. But as I’ve worked with different characters, I’ve realized my default seems to be bisexual characters, no matter my intention. To date, four of my published stories feature bisexual characters: Gren in Rule Breaker (actually pansexual), Mayr and Tash in Four, Elly in Heart, Lace, and Soul, and Jace and Roan in For the Clan. At the moment, I have at least ten other stories on the writing roster featuring bisexual or pansexual characters. Maybe it’s because it’s how I identify or maybe it’s because, like with most things, I love the middle ground. Either way, these characters are making their way into existence.

Today, I’m sharing a bit of my current WIP, Soulbound. Not only is it the fourth book in The Republic series, it features the main couple in Four. The journey with Mayr and Tash is not yet over — especially as the Shar-denn exacts revenge. Soulbound reveals the second phase of their relationship: the struggle to merge two lives, facing the consequences of Tash’s past, and working with their bisexuality to have the life they want. It also involves another bisexual character, Arieve, whose heart is torn between the life she wants and a girlfriend who keeps breaking things off. This is what happens when they realize they can help each other — and still be committed to the one they love.

{Note: This is raw material and subject to change. It’s also on the long side because I couldn’t decide between one excerpt and another, so I took the combined whole.}

 

 

 

Excerpt:

In two words, Arieve slew his heart.

In an instant, she changed the world.

Tash gripped Mayr’s wrist hard. Out of shock, Mayr suspected, though perhaps it was to keep Mayr from running out the door and hollering for mercy.

He needed to flee. He needed to hide. He needed something safer than standing in the same room with his heart’s other half and the woman he had given up on.

This was not all right.

This made no sense.

And he was cold, so cold. Lost, spinning out of calm thought and drowning in the realization that her words had been spoken with sincerity. Her features were drawn and pinched as she looked away. This was not a joke at his expense. This was a truth she had thrown at them, simple and liable to tear into the friendship they had enjoyed for so long.

He snatched Tash’s hand in both of his faster than he could take a breath and held on.

“You’re not the only ones who want kids,” Arieve said gently, circling the toe of her boot over the floor. “I have for years now. But Coye doesn’t, so I’ve never gotten any further than wishing. And since I never wanted to give her up, it’s always been a choice. I’ve always chosen her. Now I’m starting to see it’s not enough. I’d rather choose me than a relationship that keeps failing. I want a future that’s more than me. I’d drop everything to have a child with you than have none at all.” Her next smile was lopsided. “And considering I’ve had a mad crush on you longer than I’ve known most people, it’s not a sacrifice in the least. I could finally work out all these feelings I have.” A frown killed her smile. “If you’d ever let me in that much.”

Mayr choked on the first breath he could manage. He sputtered and stumbled, fragments of words flying out of his mouth in a mess of noise. “Arieve,” was the only thing he said with certainty.

Arms wrapped around him, drawing him close to Tash before his knees could buckle.

“Breathe,” Tash whispered against his temple. “Hold onto me and breathe.”

Arieve pushed off the desk and rushed forward three steps, reaching out. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you this bad.” Her arm lowered. “I don’t know how to say any of this. I never have.”

Clamping both hands around Tash’s arm, Mayr was at war with himself, his emotions and rational thought clashing in a painful raid. “You’re going to have to spell this out, Arieve, because everything you’re saying… I have to be hearing it wrong. You and me, we’ve only ever been—and you said—you called me family—and we’ve always been separate, always at the wrong time—”

“I know.” Arieve chewed on her bottom lip. “There’s been a lot of dancing around the truth. We’re never quite right at the best times, but so perfect at the worst. You’ve always been my look-but-don’t-touch. Mine to fix when you were hurt and mine to lose when the world offered you better. Now I feel bad for even looking.” She motioned to Tash with one hand. “Though I can’t lie and say it hurts seeing you two together. Out of all the men you could’ve had, the one you chose does all the right things…” Clearing her throat, she backed towards the desk. “Let’s just say I’d be happy to help.”

“And while that’s flattering,” Tash started softly, “I’m trying to understand what you understand and what I’m missing.” He pressed his forehead to Mayr’s temple. “Because I feel like I’m standing in something that should be private—a moment that’s not mine to have.”

Mayr stilled. Alternating between focused and unfocused, his gaze clung to the paintings on the wall behind the desk: portraits of Orae’s first husband and their children next to the portrait of her second husband and the rest of her children. Smiling families, happy to be together in the time life afforded them.

And in the top corner, the portrait of a young Arieve, no older than sixteen, with a smile that could light someone’s entire world for the whole of their life.

A life he had been certain they would never share. A life he had committed to the man at his side.

A life that could spiral into misery quicker than he could collapse to his knees in apology.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered, holding Tash tighter. “So sorry.”

Tash’s breath skipped across Mayr’s cheek. “For what?”

“For not being honest when I should have told you everything,” Mayr mumbled. “For never owning up to what I really think. For never being able to lose these stupid feelings. I owe you better, and I’ve been a complete ass.” He flushed beneath the scrutiny of Tash’s gaze. “I can’t even say it now, even though you’re here and she’s here and this would be a really good time to stop being an idiot.”

Silent moments past, weighted with his struggle to string words together. He felt the fluttering caress of Tash’s eyelashes against his skin.

“Mayr,” Tash murmured into his ear, “say it.”

“I don’t—”

“Let it go. Release the truth from wherever you’ve stashed it and let it breathe. If you can tell yourself what this really is, you can tell me.” Gentle fingertips glided over his jaw and down the back of his neck. “Say you have feelings for her and set yourself free.”

A chill raced down Mayr’s spine, small bumps rising across the skin where Tash’s fingers rested. Loosened by a touch that always made him want more, words tumbled from his lips, slow and stiff. “I’ve had a… thing… for her. Since we were kids. But we’ve never—” He turned his head, catching Tash’s lips on his. “We’ve never done anything. I’ve never done anything. I never could. There was a line—a really good line—and—”

A kiss silenced him, soft and smooth, without tongue, without command, without heat. A gentle kiss he never tired of receiving. Compassion and hope in the embrace of restrained passion.

“Thank you,” Tash whispered, pulling back. “You can stop fretting now. You don’t need to apologize.” He cupped Mayr’s cheek. “And you needn’t hide. I’ve got you.”

“But—”

“You’d challenge a servant of Emeraliss?” One of Tash’s brows arched. “I’m the last one to scold the inconvenience of love. Or strong like, whatever this is.” He glanced at Arieve.

Arieve hunched her shoulders. “I don’t know. It might be. Since I was sixteen, I figured if I ended up committing my life to a man, they’d have to be like him,” she admitted, pointing at Mayr. “But I never said anything. And with my grandmother’s connection to his family—us growing up with them, in a way—it seemed like something we shouldn’t overstep. But when he married Betta…” She let out a long sigh. “I was so disappointed. And when she left him, I was pleased. Pleased, like I was full of myself and happy to be cruel. Then I found out why she’d left and I wanted to find the bitch so I could rip her apart. I wanted to tell him then what I felt, but I never had the courage to flirt with him enough to make it obvious. Never had the words.”

“And I put it out of my thoughts.” Mayr leaned into Tash. “After Betta, I hurt too much to do anything. It wasn’t worth ruining our friendship.”

“Yet it’s come back around,” Tash said, his lips hinting at a small smile. “And maybe that’s the whole point.”

More silence, almost deafening in what it did not say.

Arieve approached, stopping two paces away. “As much as I’d like to continue this—as long as I’ve waited to hear it—I have to get back to work. But here’s the proposition: what you want and what I want are the same thing, so instead of waiting for someone else to fill the gap—someone who might never come or want what we want—we could try having it together.” Hesitant, she reached for Mayr and Tash, one hand finally settling on each of them. “I’m not involved with anyone. I want to get pregnant. And I really wouldn’t mind the fooling around it takes to get there. It wouldn’t have to be permanent. I’m not looking to destroy your marriage and take anyone’s place. You could consider it a favour if you want. Consider it one friend helping another, and we’ll leave your marriage intact. We’ll protect it.”

Before Mayr could answer, she withdrew her touch. “It’s ideal, too. I’ll still work at the estate, so I’ll be there. You’ll be around for the pregnancy, and after, I’ll be around to parent. It’s better than consigning ourselves to what we don’t want.”

“Why us?” Mayr swallowed hard, his mouth dry. “Why not someone else?”

“Other than the fact I’ve always wondered what it’d be like to kiss you?” Arieve drew her fingertips across her lips. “I trust you. I don’t sleep around; I choose my partners carefully. I don’t want to be with someone who’ll resent having a family or use a child against me or fight me for custody. I don’t mind being a single mother, but I also don’t want to use a guy to have a baby without their permission or without them understanding why.” She tapped the back of Mayr’s hand. “But from what you said to Aeley, it sounds like you want the same thing as me, and for the same reasons. You want a child of your own blood. Seeing as I’ve known you for most of my life and I know you’re a good man, I’m willing to try with you, if you’ll have me. I’m not asking to be married to you. I’m not expecting us to live in the same house. I’m not demanding anything. But I can’t ignore this. It’s like fate’s stepped right on in and hijacked opportunity.”

With a gentle smile, she moved to the door and opened it. “It’s just an offer. The two of you can think about it. I’ll keep thinking, too. And whenever you have your answer, whatever the answer is, you know where to find me.”

In Mayr’s mind, the quiet sound of the door closing behind her was more like a hammer striking down the wall. He blinked, unable to focus on anything but the floor.

All he had wanted was to take Tash to dinner and spend a quiet night worshipping Tash’s naked body.

This was more than he could take.

“We should go,” Tash suggested, tugging Mayr’s hand. He had his short coat on before Mayr moved from his spot.

Without words, they dressed in their winter long coats and cloaks, the brown-black fur capelet of Mayr’s cloak still damp. After wrapping their scarves around their necks and pulling on their gloves, they left the office together and wove their way around the tavern patrons to the front door.

Cold, dry gusts greeted them the moment they stepped outside. The snowfall had not let up since their arrival, descending upon the darkened village in large flakes. The dark figures of villagers shuffled down the road in a group, their voices carrying over the quiet as they sang wintertide carols off-tune and made their way through the foot of snow. The occasional ball of snow sailed through the air, resulting in pelted victims and peals of laughter.

Meanwhile, Mayr felt as though his world had turbulently flung itself into a stop and could not get started again.

In step with Tash as they trod up the flattened path left by the wheels of a wagon, Mayr dug his hands deep into his pockets. Snow crunched beneath their boots, echoing the grinding noise in his mind.

After all the years, after all the heartbreak, he could have told Arieve he loved her and that would have been enough.

I really know how to ruin things before they start. Mayr gaze at Tash from the corner of his eye, barely seeing Tash’s face around the thick, red hood of Tash’s cloak. And sabotage the things I have.

“I can read your worries from here,” Tash said, walking closer to grasp Mayr’s hand. “Talk to me.”

“This is where you’re supposed to be angry,” Mayr answered, barely louder than a mumble. “You should be disgusted, unsettled, lecturing me on disrespect.” He glanced down at their clasped hands. “Not treating me like you did before. Not being so perfect and loving and nice.”

“Hey.” Tash pulled Mayr to a stop, turning to face him, his brow furrowed. “What have I ever done to make you think I would react otherwise?”

Mayr shrunk back, huddling into the warmth of his coat. “I wasn’t honest with you. Of all things, you prefer honesty. I let you down. I wanted to tell you how I feel about her—how I’ve always felt—but something always stopped me. Then you found out like that. Considering…” His gaze dropped to the hand with his marriage ring. “The timing couldn’t be worse.”

With strong hands, Tash gripped Mayr’s arms. “Mayr, I encourage your honesty in all things, but I don’t demand it. Everyone has secrets—from themselves, from their loves, from the world. It’s in our nature to keep things to ourselves. Sometimes we don’t think about it or the truth is so far from our conscious, we can’t think of it. It’s how we were put together. And love is sneaky, you know this as well as I do,” he said softly. “It seeps into our hearts without invitation and sets things into motion without our command. When we deny it, when we try to lock it away, it yells and fights and bangs on the walls, devising plans and doing everything to have what it wants. When time and chance and circumstance get in the way, love might wait for a while, but it eventually comes to light.”

“But—”

Tash’s cold hands cupped Mayr’s cheeks. “You did nothing wrong. I have not been slighted. I don’t feel any less loved than before Arieve’s proposition.” A gentle smile softened his features, blue eyes gleaming in the faint moonlight. “Truth be told, I feel more loved.” He held Mayr’s hand in both of his and kissed the back of Mayr’s fingers. “You could have sought her. You could have waited. You could have turned me away. Instead, you allowed me into your heart, and for that I am yours, come all complicated matters and embarrassing moments that make you stammer and struggle.”

Heat swept across Mayr’s cheeks. “Now you’re just making fun of me.”

The grin in reply twisted knots in Mayr’s gut. “It does make me laugh a little, I’ll admit.” Tash brushed snow from the tip of Mayr’s nose. “You’re unspeakably ravishing when you’re flustered over love. When your emotions get too far ahead of your words and you can’t catch up,” he murmured, his fingers settling on Mayr’s lips. “It’s like falling in love with you again and again.”

Mayr swallowed hard, painfully aware of the effect Tash’s touch had on the rest of his body. Perhaps he could salvage the night after all. “Yeah?”

“Yes. Besides, she’s cute. I’m certainly getting to know your taste in women. Not entirely different from my own.”

“And that sounds like you’re trying to say something.”

“That I understand, for one. How you could feel something but not speak of it. How you can care for someone else and be too afraid to admit it. I can’t fault you for that, especially since what we have fell prey to the same choices,” Tash said quietly. “But even more than that, I don’t have a need to be angry, or the right. You’ve been so patient with my love for Inesta and the things that eat at my conscience with Naliss and Erithe. You don’t hold them against me. And I dare not complain about whatever you still feel for Betta because I understand it. Our hearts are as they are. Love lingers, even when the body is gone. You’re allowed to feel something. I never demanded you give any of that up.”

“I still feel like I should.”

“And miss the opportunity that’s thrown itself at us?” Tash clasped Mayr’s hands and swung them gently. “I can’t tell you how blessed I feel right now. It’s an unexpected gift. However it’s come to us, whatever the path, it’s a chance to have everything we want. And no one has to get hurt along the way. No one needs to be embarrassed or uncomfortable.”

Mayr held his breath, waiting for Tash to add a caveat. When none came, he breathed out long and slow. This was beyond him. Tash’s optimism and reason forged ahead faster than Mayr’s thoughts could make sense of why he was not standing alone at the side of the road, watching Tash walking away in disappointment. His heart had been sold on a hard fight, armed to his frozen back teeth with apologies and gifts to prove his love.

Instead, Tash bounced on his toes with a boyish smile, blowing away any hint of jealousy or disapproval Mayr had anticipated.

He was reading everyone wrong lately.

 

 

 

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Bisexual and Baffled: A Very Personal, Very Geeky #BiWeek Post {Let’s Slay the Bierasure Beast}

 

Happy Bisexual Awareness Week! If you have no idea what it is, visit the GLAAD site to learn about what this week’s all about. And check out #BiWeek on Twitter to see what others are saying. The week runs from September 19th to 26th this year, with Celebrate Bisexuality Day on September 23rd.

I missed writing something last year, but I’m on it this year. There are two posts this week. This is post #1, which is personal and touches on my issues with bisexual erasure (a.k.a. bierasure). Post #2 will be the fun one with an excerpt from my current WIP, because the 23rd is all about celebrating and I WILL CELEBRATE! *ROAR*

So without any further ado…

 

biprideflag

 

Hello, It’s Me, and I’m Bisexual

 

And that’s as simple as it gets. But since there’s always that little bit extra, let’s get this on the table right now:

No, I’m not confused

Yes, I really am bisexual.

Yes, I’m in a long-term, common-law marriage with a female who identifies more as bigender.

And yes, I find other women attractive.

But I’m attracted to men, too.

And no, I’m never going to apologize.

Or hide.

Because this is part of who I am.

 

Here’s the low-down: I grew up with the occasional crush on the occasional guy. There weren’t many that I was attracted to, and no girls I liked “that” way, and they certainly never returned the interest. (I also had zero clue that bisexuality was a thing — until high school, I didn’t even know being gay was a thing. There was no talk in our schools, nothing in the TV shows I watched or books I read, and none of the adults around me talked about it.) So public school and high school were a little… lacklustre in the romance department. I didn’t date. I didn’t have sex. I never got to explore exactly who I was in terms of those things. I knew I liked guys and they didn’t like me — that was it. Then again, I was a complete misfit that only other misfits seemed to understand. And those misfits became my chosen siblings. I was weird, odd; I was a thinker and a writer and studious, and if people other than my friends or teachers liked me, they certainly had a screwed up way of showing it.

But in university, things changed. In my first year, at twenty years old, I came around to bisexuality. And I discovered what it’s like to elevate the status of one of your best friends to girlfriend after thinking about her in ALL the sexual ways… and how to be okay with that.

It was alarming at first. I suppose I could blame the video for t.A.T.u.’s “All the Things She Said” for making me see the possibility. At that point, I’d had thoughts but had done nothing with them. After that video, though, things moved along emotionally. To put it not-so-delicately: I woke the fuck up. I let the emotional barriers fall. I let assumptions about myself go.

And it scared the shit out of me when the feelings I had were returned in kind.

It was a very complicated year. My psychology class was way easier to get through than the emotional whirlwind. My science courses were more manageable than thoughts. At least they made perfect sense.

Fast forward to now, 13 years later: That girlfriend and I live together, hardcore common-law. We wear wedding bands — hers is gold, mine is silver, catering to what we like best. We’ve lived in the same apartment for 12 years. We’ve laughed, cried, fought, and struggled together. We’ve become full-fledged adults together, weathering the ridiculousness of life. And that’s a good thing. A bit of security to fall on. She puts up with my wacky humour, my writing, and the irritability I inherited. I deal with her video game obsession, her social butterfly personality, and the vicious, damaging truths haunting her from a childhood marred by abuse and rape. Between us is a wonderful give-and-take, and I really wouldn’t trade it, even on the days when I’m 100% anti-social hermit.

But that doesn’t change certain things about us, like the fact that while we’re committed to each other, we’re still attracted to others. I still dig men. So does she.

And we drool over them together.

Because wouldn’t you know:  it’s damn liberating being able to crush on the same people with your spouse. We can watch movies and TV shows and find the same guys hot. We can compare notes. Then we can turn around and watch the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show and drool over sexy abs on gorgeous female models. Because we can. Because when we hooked up, we didn’t stop being who we are. We didn’t stop finding certain people of different genders attractive. I’m bisexual, she’s pansexual, and it’s SO. MUCH. FUN.

Even better: no one is apologizing.

 

 

Being Bisexual Was My Destiny.

 

If the subject of sexuality comes up or someone asks about mine, I’m open about it. I’ve got no shame. But to be honest, my in-the-middle / blended romantic and sexual interests are exactly like who I am in so much of my life and decisions: neither one extreme nor the other, dancing around the middle line and enjoying every bit of it.

I’m both “left-” and “right-brained”; both an artist and a scientist, adoring language and fictional worlds as much as I love logic and scientific thinking (even though my mathematical skills are suspect). I need diversity in my thinking and the way I see the world. I need diversity in the way I explore the universe and understand it.

My music collection is all over the place because I can’t choose genre over genre. I like having a little of everything. I need diversity in my tunes.

I don’t believe in all-peace or all-war because both can be a disaster; coexistence is the real trick. Moderation is key. Balance is everything.  I need the middle ground.

I’m a realist, with equal helpings of optimism and pessimism. And when it comes to politics, I don’t identify with any one party because while none of them will ever truly, or properly, represent me, I think they all have their merits. I need the world to be represented among the multiple options.

My simplest truth is this: I see greys everywhere, in everything. I don’t see the world in black-and-white but rather a range of colour and shade.

So why would my sexuality to be any different?

The only thing that doesn’t seem to “abide” by this in-the-middle thing is my cisgender identity. Other than that, I’m all over the map. It makes perfect sense to me. I feel pretty damn balanced.

Which is why I really don’t get why bisexual erasure is a thing.

 

 

/Cue RANT

 

Straight-up, the fact that bisexual erasure and anti-bisexual crap exists pisses. me. off. And baffles me. It breaks my brain as much as it breaks my heart.

I don’t get it.

Okay, that’s not completely true. I kind of get it, in some moments more than others, though it still baffles me on the most basic level of behaviour and logic. Why the hate against bisexuals? Why the myths that it isn’t legit, or true, or that we don’t exist? Why are some people so quick to shove bisexuals and pansexuals and others in a similar circumstance into the Mythical Unicorn category and deny us the chance to be exactly who we are?

Although it’s difficult to explain how it comes up rational in my head, sometimes I get it, though I usually don’t have the words to explain it. Ego is involved, especially when it comes to the really human thought of “we know EVERYTHING”… when we totally don’t, but our species likes to think so. Fear is another thing, though I’m not sure what those exact fears are. Is it the fear that in recognizing bisexuality as real somehow invalidates homosexuality and/or heterosexuality? Or is it the fear that in validating bisexuality, it brings it too close to home in terms of the truth? Or is it the fear that our strange, clingy relationship to binary concepts is under attack?

Because, oh god, do humans LOVE the freaking binary concept.

 

[Insert the ultimate face palm]

 

So maybe it’s the scientist in me, but what the fuck, fellow homo sapiens sapiens? This obsession with binary — it’s harmful. Really, truly harmful. The world does not evolve around binary concepts. SURPRISE! Spectrums have everything to do with everything. So do things that exist of more than one thing.

Light exists across an entire spectrum. So do colour, sound, temperature, and a host of other variables. Without those spectrums, the world would be a very different place. They have extremes, but so much more of the universe is found between those opposite ends. They can overlap and they can stand alone.

Gender exists as a mix and a spectrum. Our biological make-up is all over the place on spectrums: from skin tone, eye colour, and hair colour to behaviours, personalities, and disorders. And don’t forget hormones, chemical balances, and pH levels! There are spectrums everywhere, inside every one of us.

Why can’t sexuality be like that? Why can’t we have asexuals, homosexuals, heterosexuals, bisexuals, and all-manner of other-sexuals? Who has the right to say those don’t exist?

But guess what: there’s MORE.

Light can exist as both wave and particle.

Matter can exist in multiple states. Water can be a liquid, solid, or a gas, dependent on the situation. While it might exist for awhile in one form, it can still exist in the others.

Bonobo apes are known to be sexual with females and males, engaging in both hetero- and homosexual activities. They’re more interested in social interactions and keeping peaceful groups. And they share about 99% of the same DNA as we do. They’re our closest relatives.

So why can’t we be attracted to two or more genders? Why can’t we be in-between or outside homosexual and heterosexual? And why can’t we be with someone of one gender and still be attracted to another?

Enter the Big Question: Just what is it about bisexuals that is so terrifying? What is so offensive that some people feel the need to say it’s a lie? Because the last I heard, the universe operated on spectrums and diversity and mixes of all sorts of things. The galaxies laugh at our obsession with binary.

We need to learn to let that shit go.

We need to learn to accept there’s more to the world — more to us.

And we need learn to accept that more is beautiful.

 

 

In Closing…

 

So go forth, my bisexual, pansexual, and whatever-sexual friends. I see you. You’re here. You’re a person. And I see you. Because we aren’t invisible — we’re right here, right now, and we’re beautiful together. Just like our homosexual, heterosexual, and asexual friends, we’re real, we’re valid, and we’re here to stay.

We will not be erased.

 

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Release Party for FOUR = Tonight On Facebook! + Giveaway Reminder #MM #romance #fantasy♥

The party is on!

 

To celebrate the release of my newest book, Four, there’s a party on Facebook tonight, thanks to Vicki Rose at Platinum Promotions. Come join us!

 

The Official Four Release Party
September 14 @ 6:30 PM – 8 PM CST
(that’s 7:30 – 9pm EST)


On Facebook, so feel free to come in PJs.
Games, prizes, hanging out, stress-free time, and the occasional silliness.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1133768410030428/

•••

 

FOUR Teaser 2

Blurb: Four

Genres: Fantasy, romance
Series: The Republic

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.

*Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30619748-four

Also check out the other stories in the series, Rule Breaker and A Question of Counsel.

 

Purchase Four directly from the publisher Less Than Three Press or from any major online retailer, including: AmazonBarnes & NobleSmashwordsAll Romance eBooksKoboiTunes

•••

 

FOUR Teaser 3

 

Don’t forget to enter the  G I V E A W A Y!

Here’s a chance to win stuff! The giveaway will run until October 5th. You must be 18+ years old to enter.

 

Prizes to be won:

* Winner #1:
$20 Amazon gift certificate

* Winner #2:
An eBook set of the first two stories in The Republic series: Won’t Back Down (with the novella, Rule Breaker) + A Question of Counsel

* Winner #3:
$5 Amazon gift card

* Winner #4:
An eBook copy of For the Clan

 

For a chance to win, enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

 

 

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