Monday, December 29, 2008

The New Year - So much in store

I cannot believe how much is on my plate for the first quarter of 2009.
First, I'm part of a wonderful anthology, "I Do" in support of marriage equality, to raise funds for the Lambda Legal Fund. All the proceeds will go toward the organization. My story "Finally Forever" is very brief, but continues my goal to write about identifiable Jewish gays, this time in a contemporary setting. MLR Press has graciously and generously offered to provide the publishing and editing for this effort.
Speaking of MLR Press, my single author anthology, "Bend in the Road", will be out hopefully the end of February or early March. Along those lines, I'll be posting regularly during January and February, a guide to the world in BITR.
Also coming out in March, most likely, "A Perfect Symmetry", my sequel to "The Shimmering Flame" will be released by Liquid Silver Books. Several of the characters in this book are gay or bisexual and menages - perfect or imperfect play an integral part in the story. I'm very excited about this one since it continues the story of Brigid, Ethan and Gabe and introduces a new cast of Terrans.

That's just the the first part of the year. In the works are more historical gay fiction, some paranormal, m/f (or m/f/m), a sequel to
"The Sweet Flag" and as much as my little fingers can write.

Stay tuned for regular monthly visits from MLR Press authors on the blog!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

And the Winner is

I'd like to thank all the authors and readers who participated in the Contest. I hope that you discovered some wonderful authors and stories and had some fun along the way.
May all of you have a Happy Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanza, Soltice and just a good Winter!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Glowing Hanukah Lights Contest

Hanukah begins Sunday evening the 21st when we light the first of eight candles. In my story The Game, we meet Dave Harris during a very special Hanukah weekend visit.
The Game will be available on the 19th from Aspen Mountain Press at this
Here's the blurb:
Dave Harris is a NYPD vice detective. Single, handsome and straight, with a brand new sexy girlfriend, he shares an apartment with Frank Paterno, his best friend from High School, unaware of Frankie's feelings for him.

Shari Nelson, a freelance reporter is madly in love with Dave, her new boyfriend, but has some secrets that are driving her crazy. Only Marcie Kaplan, her roommate and a lady with a few secrets of her own, knows just how much Shari's little vices are eating at her.

When Dave invites Shari to share his grandfather's cabin in upstate New York for a Hanukah weekend, she spontaneously invites Marcie along for moral support forcing Dave to invite Frankie along as Marcie's date.

Snowbound in the cabin, with no way of getting help and a cupboard more empty than Old Mother Hubbard's, they divert the time playing "Strip Dreidle", a game that will force them to reveal their hidden secrets and desires.

If they're rescued, will they still feel the same?
Dave Harris had pulled more than a couple of strings to get off time from work to take this little four-day excursion. The Holiday season was always busy for the police, but somehow he’d managed to get that four-day back-vacation owed him.
He looked down at Shari’s sleeping form sitting in the front seat next to him. A strand of vivid auburn hair screened her face from view. His shoulder ached from keeping still for the past three hours so he wouldn’t wake her.

He sighed.

He’d planned on some alone time with Shari. After a month together, he still knew next to nothing about her other than that she was a reporter for the Brooklyn Bridge newspaper, a weekly rag that focused on news and human interest stories that affected the borough.

They’d met at a crime scene at a club in the Park Slope area. She’d been hanging around looking for a story and Dave had been instantly drawn to her flame-colored hair. He’d always been a sucker for redheads.

When she saw him eying her she boldly walked up to him, handed over her business card and simply said, “Call me”.

He had.

And for the past four weeks they’d gotten together whenever they had free time -- night or day. He smiled. ‘Get together’ was a pretty pallid way to describe what happened whenever they were in the same space.

Sex. Pure, hot, wet, quick, furious, sweaty fucking.

He met her once a week for lunch at Angelo’s, an Italian joint near the precinct. He’d never taken Angelo up on his offer to use the back room whenever he wanted, until Shari. The nooners had become a weekly ritual. His lips twitched as he realized that now whenever he smelled Italian food he got a hard on.

He’d taken her once, standing up against the wall in an alley in back of a snitch’s apartment near where she worked. On the spur of the moment, he’d text messaged her with the address and just one word -- “now”.

Ten minutes later, her skirt was up to her waist, her thong was down to her ankles and his cock was deep in her pussy. She’d come twice with his hand and once with his prick.

When they finished, she kicked off the thong and handed it to him.

“Think of me.”

And she walked back to work leaving him standing in the alley holding the scrap of black lace, her scent wafting from it, his cock hard and aching again.

The rest of his shift had been shot. His hand kept drifting to his pocket, fondling her gift and his mind kept drifting to the image of her walking around the rest of the day bare-assed. Finally, he’d gone into the men’s room and, locking the door behind him, jacked off.

He couldn’t remember the last time they’d had a full conversation. Hell, why talk? She was always wet and ready when he wanted her, no matter when he got off work. After the second week, she’d given him a key to her first floor apartment of the two-story brownstone she shared with her friend, Marcie. He’d crawl into her bed and she’d wake up instantly. They’d make love without saying a word, then fall asleep after. The next morning he’d leave after setting up coffee for her, a little thing that, but it was his way of making a connection outside of the bedroom.

He’d been like a kid given permission to indulge in his favorite wet dream.

But he wasn’t a kid and now he wanted more. More of the kind of relationship that comforted you when people got killed and you came home pissed and frustrated because you couldn’t do anything enough about it. He wanted more than just someone to go to bed with. Yeah, he wanted more.

But more Shari, not more people!

* * * *

Frank Paterno stared at the back of Dave’s neck and indulged in his favorite fantasy.

He was in the shower in the apartment he shared with him. The hot water pounded down on his aching muscles. Steam swirled around his body and his hair fell into his eyes as he rinsed off the shampoo. He squeezed his eyes shut to keep the lather from stinging, and when he opened them Dave stood there, naked, his cock hard and erect.

“Need some help washing your back?”

In his fantasy, he couldn’t speak, didn’t need to speak. He just nodded and Dave stepped inside the stall and shut the door.

He smiled, his hazel eyes crinkling at the corners. He wore his curly, dark brown hair short and it stood up in little swirls around his ears.

Frank wanted to caress those curls, nip his strong neck and feel Dave’s cock deep in his ass.

And in his dreams, he did.

“Turn around, Frankie. Let me get that spot you always miss.”

It was his dream and so he could observe the scene as though watching a movie. He saw himself turn around facing the tile wall, bracing himself for what he knew would come next.

Dave lathered up his hands and sank one lean finger deep inside his anus. Frank swore he could really feel it move within him, driving him straight over the edge.

He watched as he slid down to the slick, ceramic floor and heard Dave’s forceful command.

“Get on your knees and suck me. Now.”

He rushed to comply. Dave was so much more powerful than him. Even in high school, Dave was the one who earned a letter in basketball while he was the math whiz.

Dave’s folks loved to tease him.

“Maybe the stork figured wrong and left the athlete here with us by mistake. Duhvidle could use a little of your brains, boychik.”

Everyone would laugh and Dave’s mother would put another piece of noodle pudding on his plate.

God, he loved Dave’s family.

After high school, it seemed natural for them to share an apartment. Their natures balanced each other’s.

Dave never knew how much he’d agonized over being close to him on a daily basis and not being able to tell him how much he wanted him. He compensated by making sure to pick up Dave’s cleaning and keep the apartment neat. And he fantasized every time Dave shared the highlights of his latest female conquest. Dave had always kept his love affairs sweet and short, but even though he had only been with Shari a month, it was different this time. Dave had never stayed over night at a woman’s home. He had never wanted to get too close because of his job, but now things had changed. He agonized over how long it would be before Dave moved out completely.

He never brought over any of his gay friends, at least not the ones he was fucking. He had female friends who thought it a riot to cover for him. He’d actually once convinced Dave that he was engaged. When the so-called engagement ended, Dave consoled him with beer and pizza and season tickets to the Knicks. They’d sit next to each other at the games and each time Dave would grab him and scream in his face when the Knicks scored, he’d dream that the screams were ones of ecstasy.

He’d milked his broken heart for over a year so he didn’t need to bring home any females. But he’d finally run out of excuses.

He wondered though if he might have guessed how he felt. Every now and then he’d catch Dave eying him, especially after his so-called break-up. Probably not or he wouldn’t be sitting in the back seat of Dave’s car next to Shari’s friend, Marcie.

Time to get back to his dream and Dave’s hard cock waiting for him...

* * * *
And please check out my paranormal story, The Sweet Flag, an m/m historical paranormal romance with unique Jewish characters from Loose Id. And coming early in 2009 from ManLoveRomance Press, A Bend in the Road
, about four Jewish gay men in 1880's Europe.

Remember to send an email to with the name of my two Jewish characters to be part of a drawing to win a selection of holiday gifts! Your next stop on the Hanukah trail is EM Ben Shaul at this link.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Guest Blogger - Victor J. Banis

Victor J. Banis has found a happy, new home with ManLoveRomance Press and currently has several wonderful books out with them, including Lola Dances, but his latest release, Angel Land, is so timely, that I asked him to share his writing process with us relating to this story. Angel Land will be published soon in e-book format by MLR Press.
Here is the blurb for Angel Land:
Late in the 21st Century: ravaged by the deadly Sept virus, the one time United States has disintegrated into The Fundamental Christian Territories, where Catholics, Baptists and Jews are registered as heretics, and gays are herded into walled ghettos: The Zones of Perversion.
Harvey Milk Walton, a runner, finds his way to the ghetto in Angel Land, oldest of the territories, where a legend says that his long ago martyred namesake will return one day to lead his people to freedom—but even to speak of freedom, of leaving the FTC, is punishable by death.
In a crumbling totalitarian society, where evil masquerades as piety, two men fall in love, and begin to dream of escape from
Angel Land

When I first committed to writing this blog, I intended to write about writing, a subject about which, after all these years and all these books, I might be expected to have learned at least a little something, and I thought it might be worthwhile to share some of what I have learned with others.

When the suggestion was made that I write instead about my latest novel, Angel Land, I was not only surprised, but, frankly, it gave me pause. First, because this was intended to be a blogging opportunity for MLR authors, and although I am a happy member of the MLR family, as I like to think of us, Angel Land was contracted for before I joined the family and so is published elsewhere (although happily the upcoming e-version will be released by MLR.)

Second, and this gave me the most pause, I am not very good nor very enthusiastic about tooting my own horn. I have always subscribed to the philosophy that it is better to tell people about your shanty in the country and let them discover for themselves that it is really a palace, than to describe your palace, and have them discover that it is only a shanty. I am always fearful that when I steer others to my writing, they may discover that it is only a shanty. So to devote this column to my own work seemed to me like dbsp—that is to say, disgustingly blatant self promotion.

On the other hand, not since The Man From C.A.M.P., published in 1966, have I had a novel that created so much buzz. Certainly the reviews have been raves; Robert Buck, on the GWR review site, says, "I recommend Angel Land as highly as I have ever recommended a book." AJ Llewelyn, at Dark Diva Reviews, calls it "the work of a master artist." And reviewing the book on Amazon, Bethann Korsmit says, "I give Angel Land my highest recommendation, and I think it should be read by everyone."

Nor is it only reviewers either who have expressed their enthusiasm. In the short time since its introduction, I have already received enthusiastic fan letters, and both readers and those simply contemplating reading the book have flooded me with questions about its creation, its plot, the characters, and the like.

Something about the book, then, has captured the attention of people. Of course, it is not difficult to see why this should be so. First, the movie, Milk, a biopic about the martyred Harvey Milk, has just opened to its own rave reviews, and Harvey Milk, or at least his name and his legend, play an integral part in Angel Land. Indeed, my protagonist's name is Harvey Milk Walton, a fact of considerable consequence in the story.

Moreover, the villains in the piece are religious fundamentalists—Fundies, in the book's parlance. In the wake of recent election results in which gay marriage was outlawed in California and gay adoption in Arkansas, both events largely backed by religious groups, the suggestion of religious persecution of gays and lesbians must certainly seem timely. It is hardly surprising that these unplanned coincidences have touched common chords through the glbt and the writing communities.

In the end, however, I decided to go with the suggestion of writing about Angel Land for the simplest and, yes, vainest of reasons: I like the book.

I like it, in fact, very much; but the truth is, I like most of what I write, or it does not see print. Angel Land, however, is, I think, somewhat unique. Certainly it is not like anything else I have written, but I cannot think of a book by anyone else which it altogether resembles either. Perhaps it is only vanity, but I think it is an important book—not, I hasten to add, a piece of great literature destined to become a classic as time goes along, nor better written than a dozen or so of MLR's writers could deliver, and almost certainly less entertaining than much of what you would find in that publisher's catalog.

It is, however, a thought provoking book. It has much to say that is cautionary, and it is ultimately a celebration of human spirit. It touches upon spiritual issues that I think are important to many homosexuals; and, almost from beginning to end, it is about love, in its many, often contradictory facets. It is, in fact, a book I should like everyone to read, and not simply because I want the sales or the money (though neither is to be scorned); and not just those in the glbt community, either. I think it is a timely book.

But, ever mindful of that shanty in the country, I did not set out to deliver a sales pitch. I will content myself instead with sharing some of the questions that I have been asked, and my answers. I will let them deliver the pitch for me, if one is needed.

Q: Was there any reason for your choice of including Baptists with Catholics and Jews in the ghettos?

A: Actually, none of the above live in the ghettos. The ghettos were created for the sexually deviant, as explained in these excerpts from different parts of the book (and, it should be explained, the POVs of several different characters):

The creation of the Zones:

Harvey Milk Walton: A Reverend Elihu Gaston founded The Fundamental Christian Church early in the century. Fueled to a great extent by the eruption of Sept, the FCC began to gobble up the other churches. Overnight, it seemed, the Church of God went, and the Church of Christ, the Methodists. One by one the lesser fishies succumbed to the great black shark in the sea of religion…
* * *
The Manager: Of course, originally the ghettos had not been intended solely for the gay population. Zones of Perversion they were called, and the statutes were written to include almost any non-marital, non-procreative activity. Some—the rapists, the child molesters, the incestuous—were sent straight off to the camps or, in the extreme cases, to their rewards, but the Zone was the prescribed punishment for any sex outside of marriage. In the early years a few young men had found themselves transported to the Zone for the sin of masturbation, but legend had it that one or two of them grew too fond of the punishment, and after a while, it was decided that a day or two in the public stocks was sufficient for all but the most incorrigible.
Like the heretically religious, the Tribes—the Afros, the Asiatics, the Latins and others—enjoyed what was termed “restricted freedom,” whatever that might mean. It was a crime, however, to “make a perversion of one’s racial or ethnic status.” “Too black,” as Chip put it, and sometimes one of them landed in the Zone as well, sexual orientation notwithstanding.
Not many years passed, however, before the Zones had become de facto ghettos for the territories’ gay populations. And not all of them complained.
From the Nineties of the Twentieth Century through the Teen years of the Twenty-first, the various mutations of the AIDS virus had ravaged the world. With the coming of Sept, however, gays suddenly had more to fear from their neighbors and fellow citizens than from the disease.
He’d heard the tales of mobs rampaging throughout the newly created territories, of sobbing gays dragged from their homes, chased screaming through the streets, beaten, lynched, sometimes burned alive mid-street.
For the gays, the ghetto walls had meant sanctuary from unrelenting terror, and the Fundies were true to their word on that score: the guards at the gates kept the gays in, but they kept violence out too. Perhaps not entirely: gay-bashings weren’t all that unusual, but at least there were no lynch mobs.

Catholics, and Jews are required to be registered as heretics.
Harvey: I said, quickly, firmly, “I’m not Catholic.” Ostensibly, the heretical religious—Catholics, Jews, Baptists et al—were free, but everyone knew that was a crock of butter. In actual practice, they too were registered, their religious services restricted, travel within the territories restricted, travel outside the territories forbidden under pain of death. And everyone knew that Catholic and Queer was a one-way ticket to slave labor. “No religion at all.”
That wasn’t exactly true: I was a devout believer in the religion of Look-Out-For-Number-One, but that wasn’t going to buy me a prayer of a chance.

Initially, Baptists were spared, but in time they too fell afoul of the FCC:
Aram: He was astonished by himself, by the things he had done then, things he had never in his wildest fantasies imagined himself doing—things that had given him pleasure he’d never dreamed existed, had never imagined could be found in the heretofore unexalted act of sex.
He wondered what that said about the state of his Christian soul? He and Elam had been raised in Christian homes. Their parents had been Baptists. Although the Baptist Church had remained independent when the FCC had gobbled up its sister religions, the two churches had remained closely allied for years.
Eventually, though, differences had sprung up. “Mostly,” his mother told him once, “if you can believe it, over music. Baptists love to sing. Fundie music is pious but there’s no passion.”
In time the Baptists had joined the list of heretics…

Q: What research, if any, did you do before and during the writing of the story?

A: Hmm. You know, most of the research I did was Biblical – I did a lot of scriptural reading, and I read a number of books on the question of homosexuality vis-à-vis Christianity; but, in fact, I did most of that research when I was writing my memoirs, Spine Intact, Some Creases, and I expand on the subject a bit more fully there. So, when I came to write Angel Land, it was more a matter of refreshing my memory. I lived in San Francisco (which becomes Angel Land) for many years, so I hardly needed to research the terrain; and most of the rest came from imagination.

Q: Besides the somewhat obvious name choice of Harvey Milk Walton for one of your characters, did you select names with relation to what feelings/reactions that name might evoke? Although I sometimes consciously select names for specific reasons involving my stories, I find that often a name will pop into my mind and I later discover my subconscious has been at work behind my back to pick the perfect name.

A: I think my choices were, like yours, more subconscious. The names just popped into my head, and then when I investigated, I found obvious connections that my writing mind had made. Aram, as an example, is one of Noah's offspring, the clan given charge of recreating the world after the flood; and, there's an obvious symbolism there in the book's end, but I wasn't conscious of it when I was writing.

Q: When you started this story, was the anniversary of Harvey Milk's murder in the back of your mind?

A: No, but like many gays, especially those of us who lived through that time, that is a name very prominent in our thinking; and, of course, the gay liberation movement, from the sixties through Harvey's assassination, was my era, that was my fight as well, so of course, his death had a great significance for me.

Q: How long did the writing of this story take?

A: Forever, it sometimes seemed. I often write very quickly. My novel, Longhorns, for instance, I did in two weeks, though I did spend subsequent time polishing it up. But Angel Land, gosh, I started it, I think, in 2003, so there were five years there before the book was finished. Now, I didn't work on it non stop over all that time, but I did come back to it repeatedly. It was a very complex story, with many characters and many themes running through it. The initial manuscript was something more than 300,000 words, so it required lots of pruning, editing, polishing up. And, I was very fortunate in having Lori Lake for my editor. She's a friend and a fine writer herself, and, let me say, a formidable taskmistress. She worked very hard at making me work very hard, but I am truly grateful to her. She deserves a lot of credit for the final product.

Q: Did you always have this ending in mind as you wrote?

A: Yes, absolutely. The first things I wrote were that travel brochure that opens the novel, and the final scene and epilogue—and, I confess, those last two never fail to bring tears to my eyes, and I hope my readers share that experience. I think that, really, there is the heart of the book, in those last few pages, what it's all about. Hope and Courage and Love.

Q: Obviously, you created a sort of alternative world for this novel. Were there other elements of this future world that do not appear in Angel Land?

A: Goodness, yes. There were those 200,000 some pages that I trimmed. I named and described all nine of the FCT, for example, and even wrote travel brochures for them: Beulah Land (formerly Old South); Eden; Canaan, Jubilee, Jordan, Gilead, The Apostles and Ararat. And not all of the USA became the FCT; there remained the free states—Seattle Free State, DC Free, the Conch Republic, et al. I could fill an entire book with the material I didn't use. But, having written it, it gave me a great sense of the time and place, made Angel Land really come to life for me. I always felt as if I were there.

Q: Various readers have described Angel Land in different terms. Robert Buck, in his review on the GWR blog site, calls it "a crackling good, edge-of-the-seat adventure;"
Rick R. Reed will shortly review it on, a site devoted primarily to horror. Elisa Rolle calls it "apocalyptic" and "a love story." AJ Llewelyn likens it to "Huxley’s Brave New World. There’s tinges of that. There’s Blade Runner and without giving away too much, shades of Planet of the Apes." These people might almost be describing different books. How do you personally define Angel Land?

A: Oh, you know, with all that it has to say and everything it contains, for me, this still boils down to a love story:

Aram: What he couldn't ignore were his feelings for Harvey, feelings that seemed to grow with each moment, feelings that were both a joy and a torment. He had always thought himself a good Christian, even, smugly, a model one. He tithed and prayed and obeyed the letter of the law. He’d had sexual orgasms before of course, mostly alone and once he had mounted a woman, entered and dutifully gave her his tribute, and he had taken a perverse sort of pride in the fact that it had left him so little moved. Surely, he had reasoned, that was proof of his purity, wasn’t it?
Or so he had thought, until that night with Harvey. There had been nothing pure about him then. He had been white hot, wanton, insatiable. His erection would not soften; he could not leave Harvey’s penis alone.
Not a “penis,” he told himself—a cock, a word that he had never spoken aloud, was sure that he had never even consciously thought. Even now, even alone, he blushed when it came into his mind, but once entered, it would not be evicted.
Simply remembering—the intensity, the fervor, that breathless desire that drove him, the pleasure so keen it was painful, the pain so sharp it was pleasurable—just remembering it, he felt a stirring in his trousers. That, too, was new to him. He had lived most of his life with his sexuality carefully tamped, held in rigid check, and now he had to fight to hold those memories at bay.
Despite his efforts, his memory of the passion Harvey had aroused in him would not be denied. And Harvey, too, had been insatiable. Was it always like this when two men made such a connection? Was this why the Church was so adamantly opposed to men with men? How could he know?
All he did know was that it consumed him. It was not so much that the passion was within him, it was more as if he was within it. His desire was like a hot summer haze that enveloped him.
All he really knew for certain was that he was in love.

I couldn't say it better myself.

I want to thank Victor so much for being with us today. I hope you'll visit him at his site where you can learn more about him and his work.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Guest Blogger - Tina Burns, Liquid Silver Books

I'd like to welcome Tina Burns, Liquid Silver Books publisher.

Please tell us a bit about LSB and your position with the publisher.

Atlantic Bridge Publishing was founded in early '99 by Raven and Mike as an Internet Marketing company, Raven went the pub route soon after with ABP which pubbed its first book in Jan 2000, while Mike stayed in marketing until LSB got busy.
In 2002, they branched off AB and founded Liquid Silver Books, the erotic romance imprint of AB. LSB pubbed its first book Jan 2003. Until mid 2004, LSB pubbed one book a week when we moved to two a week since--450 books published so far. We’ve enjoyed steady stable progress mainly due to excellent staff who have been with us since they joined, guided by Raven and Mike's decades of corporate and small business experience.
LSB is all about quality and long-term viability for everyone involved readers, authors and staff. From start-up to the consolidation business phases, LSB has been successful and is now embarking on an expansion phase over the next few years.
My role as Publisher is to “spread-the-good-LSB-word”. My goal is to increase sales, widen our reader base, author retention, and getting LSB to the next phase of ePublishing.
It seems that more and more epublishers are acquiring GLBT titles, specifically M/M stories. What makes an LSB gay title different from the rest of the pack?

While it does seem M/M titles are becoming a dime a dozen, I think there is still room for more. We have a few books with F/F elements in them, but only one dedicated F/F romance book and I'd like to see more. What sets us apart are our high standards, every book we accept is exceptional in its own way, then goes through rigorous editing, polishing it even more. Our books are relationship focused stories that will melt your socks off. :~D
Could you tell us how many titles are specifically M/M?
Whew, you made me count. Looks like we've got about 35+ M/M dedicated books and/or books with M/M elements.
What subgenres appear to be the most popular?
There’s actually a pretty even mix of Contemporary and Paranormal/Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Are there plans for further defining your Molten Silver line to indicate LGBT titles, making it easier for readers to find particular genres?
We are currently building a new shopping cart which will allow us to better designate the elements in our books. I’m hoping to see that up and running for the public by March of 2010.
Are there any themed submissions calls coming out that you feel authors of GLBT stories will find particularly attractive?
I do have some themed submissions coming out for 2010, but I’m not quite ready to reveal them. ;) I do have spots left for our Firemen series, Hearts Afire, which is a pretty popular M/M genre. Here’s the link to the Phase Two submissions call. Please read the submissions guidelines and note that Phase Two is still open.
Any comments you'd like to share with our readers?
I’d love to see more GLBT stories submitted to Liquid Silver Books, and am open to suggestions for themes that cater to GLBT stories as well. My inbox is always open so feel free to email me anytime!
Thanks so much for joining me here today, Tina.
Thanks for having me!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Guest Blogger ~ Stormy Glenn

My guest today is Stormy Glenn. The reason? Well, heck, cowboys, werewolves and M/M??
Do you need to ask? But in case you do, here are Stormy's reasons

Hmmm…Werewolves, Cowboys, and M/M?
Okay, let’s talk about werewolves. I just love the general idea of werewolves and seem to be somewhat obsessed with writing about them right now. First off, they have "mates" that they know on sight, smell, or whatever. Just kind of cuts down on the crap. There’s no blind dates, etc. You just know. The great part of that is you can usually jump right in to the good stuff without having to go through the whole "gee, do I like you" stuff…unless you’re human and have just been mated by a werewolf. That could cause some problems…at least we can hope.

There is also the problem of finding a mate but that usually works it out somehow, for at least one of the characters in the book, sometimes more. And, depending on how I write the story, they are mated for life. I think that is extra cool. The second part of my love for werewolves is the dominant alpha male. Hot! Hot! Hot! There is just nothing like an alpha male. They’re dominant, possessive, and sexy. What more could you want? Besides, I usually try to have my alpha males "mated" to someone that makes their life very interesting. In Full Moon Mating, the werewolf in this story falls in love with a guy that doesn't speak but has some unusual abilities that make his life very interesting.

I’m presently working on the third installment of the Tri Omega Mates series right now, called Hidden Desires. Caleb is the alpha of Hunter Pack. He finds himself mated to Micah, who could really care less that he is the alpha. Micah is human. He’s never even heard about werewolves until he’s mated to one. When he tells Caleb they need to go talk, Caleb reminds Micah that he is the alpha of his pack. Micah’s response? "I’m happy for you, now let’s go talk." Caleb’s status means nothing to him. For Caleb, having been the alpha of his pack for so long, Micah’s attitude is very unusual to him and he is totally unprepared with how to deal with it, or Micah. Tends to create some interesting situations.

Werewolves, cowboys, and M/M together?
I like writing about the story behind men falling in love, especially when the men in question are werewolves. If they’re cowboys, that’s even hotter! Having fallen in love with men in cowboy boots as a teenager, I believe that there is nothing sexier than a man in cowboy boots…two or three men in cowboy boots is even better. Then, if you add the alpha male aspect? Is there anything better? I’ve always associated sexy men with cowboy boots…a man could be dressed in a gunny sack and still be sexy as long as he is wearing cowboy boots. Hence, the cowboys…I REALLy like cowboys.

As for the M/M aspect…I never started out to write M/M novels. It just happened that way. Now, I find that I read as much M/M as I write. I love the dynamics behind two men falling in love…three is even better. In my experience, men tend to be rather possessive, especially if they are alpha males. It doesn’t matter whether they are gay or straight. It just is. If you add a third person to the relationship, it makes for some very interesting, and often humours situations. I think I tend to write stories where there is at least one alpha male type, if not two, and then someone that would be considered not so dominant. However, I find that the ones that are considered more submissive are actually the ones that hold the relationship together. However, my more "submissive" characters tend to be little spitfires too. The combination is great!

My Books
I spend a lot of time writing…sometimes I think too much, but I love it, every aspect of it. I love the ability to create entire worlds and cultures. I can do pretty much anything, write pretty much anything. Take "The Katzman’s Mate" for example. This is an entire planetary system…new worlds, new cultures, new life forms. There’s even a guy with blue skin. The sky, or planetary system in this case, is the limit. I never really know what I am going to write until I write it. I also don't write a book to fit a particluar genre. I write the book, then decide where it fits. I just recently finished a series about a group of special ops soldiers that have special "abilities" who each find love, either together or with others. There are sveral differnt genres here...M/F/M, M/M, M/F, and M/M/M. I have three more books planned for this series so who knows where its going to go. Like I said, I never know what I'm going to write until I write it, sometimes not even paragraph to paragraph. I let the characters guide me.

I have another series that I researched and created for a year before I started writing. The "Warriors of Akasha" is still a WIP. I spent so much time on this series because of the detail involved with creating this entire culture, from the Blood Rhyte Ceremony to the tattoo’s that each warrior receive when he/she is mated. I even have an entire dictionary that I created for reference when writing the stories. I hope to have this series released in a few months. I want to get at least two of the books done before then, then I’ll finish the other three that I have planned…and maybe more.

Tri Omega Mates is my first series. A Tri Omega is a special type of omega that needs two mates to keep him grounded and safe. Without two mates, he will die. As such, all of the books in this series are M/M/M menage.

1. Secret Desires – released October 20th from Siren Publishing
2. Forbidden Desires – Due December 29th from Siren Publishing
3. Hidden Desires – Due February from Siren Publishing
4. #4 unnamed as of yet – release date sometime in 2009.

Wolf Creek Pack is my next series. This series totally unconnected with the Tri Omega Mates series. They are not even the same type of werewolf…different mating rituals, packs, cultures, physical forms. The first book in this series is Full Moon Mating. It is due for release in June 2009. I presently have four sequels in progress.

My Lupine Lover is a stand-alone novel (due for release May 2009 by Siren Publishing) but it is connected to the Tri Omega Mates series. It was not added under that series name simply because it is not a M/M/M menage. Only a M/M story…sorry. However, if you enjoy the Tri Omega Mates series, I would suggest this book also.

I never meant for either of these series to actually be a series. I actually wrote the first books to each, Secret Desires and Full Moon Mating, with no intention of them being a series. However, after I wrote them, their characters were just so alive, and I loved the werewolf idea so much, that I just continued. Besides, the minor characters in each book kept bugging me for their own books, so…

To go totally off on a different tangent is my M/M futuristic book, The Katzman’s Mate, due for release in March 2009 from Siren Publishing. No werewolves, no cowboys, but I kept the dominant, possessive, sexy male. Chellak Rai is just a cat… or Katzman. I wanted to write about an alpha male that didn't look totally human... he has a light coating of fur, pointed ears, a face that is not altogther human looking, a great scense of smell and hearing...and sexy as can be. He's also the displaced heir to an entire world and he just found his mate.

I have several more books due for release or WIP’s. I think I’m working on like, seventeen books right now. I don’t believe in writer’s block. I f I get stuck, I just move on to another story until I can go back. To find out more about me and my books, release dates, book trailers, etc, please visit me. There are several places to find me…
My web site:
My blog:
Book Trailers:
Siren Publishing:
Buy my books at Siren-Bookstrand:
M/M Romance Readers & Writers
I love to hear from readers so stop by and drop me a line…

I'll be offering a free copy of my eBook, Secret Desires, this month. On Nov. 30th, I will choose a winner from all replies. You need to answer one question for me. The most interesting answer will win. And you have the rest of the month to answer so answer as many times as you like. The best answer wins!
Author's Question: why do we write in genres that we do?

Reader's Question: why do we read the genres that we do?
Just visit the Novel Sisterhood Retreat at
Coffee Time Romance & More and leave your answer to enter. Please do not email me your answer.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Guest Blogger ~ Angela Fiddler

Writer's block -- dealing with problems in the beginning of a novel before they turn into huge problems at the end

I love writing. Writing rocks. Writing, when everything is going well, is about the best feeling in the world. I have a loving wife who supports me and who understands that 'Can't talk. Writing' is a perfectly good excuse when the hard questions, such as 'did you unload the dishwasher' or 'shall we go visit your folks this weekend' come up. In short, writing is the most awesomest awesome, awesome thing that a single person can do in public, private, or with pets in the room. Go writing!

Unless you can't write. The words don't come and the cursor seems to mock you with its empty, useless blinking. Or worse, you live on a ground floor, your windows are painted closed, or you've signed some sort of ridiculous rental or condominium by-law agreement that made you swear you weren't going to throw whatever you use to write out the window. Then what?

I know there are dozens and dozens of books and websites out there on how to deal with writer's block, but these are things that work for me. I'm not going to lie to you. Some of the treatments I talk about are worse than the cure. I've cut, and cut drastically the first/middle/last 20,000 words of something I was working on, and although I cut and pasted it into a new document, I knew, in my heart, that there was either nothing in those words to salvage, or that those words only fit in the piece one way, with the characters in only one mental state, and though I said I'd go through and pick apart cute turns of phrasing, I never have. Because amputation is amputation, and anything sewn back on after it's been cut off is bound to go evil, as any science fiction or horror writer will tell you. (Your mileage may vary on that last 'going evil' part.)

So here is what works for me when I'm either the one writing, or I'm critiquing for a friend whose story is going nowhere.

Did I begin at the beginning?

This is the petering out problem. A great, cracking story has begun, fantastic characters are introduced, and a great world is built up around them and…nothing. It may go a page, it may go twenty, but then there's the feeling of 'and now what' and you don't have a single clue as to what that what is supposed to be. From all the work I've critiqued, I can normally tell a great story that has petered out has failed because the story did not begin at the right spot. Especially for fantasy and science fiction, the desire is to start it either after a great battle has finished (for both science fiction and fantasy) or as the intrepid hero is off to the castle to meet Y about problem X (for most often fantasy, but substitute 'home base to get new orders,' for 'castle' and it works for science fiction, too). More to the point, as the reader of these failed beginnings, I get the sense time and time again it's either began far too early before the action has begun, or too late for the reader to either (A) care about the characters about to be thrown under a bus or (B) way after the epic whatever had happened.
I always ask myself, at what point do things change to the point where if nothing is done, the world ends, and what where my main characters doing immediately before that? (In erotic fiction, that answer should be fairly obvious, btw)

Am I loving the Bacon Guys?

There's a brilliant scene in Season 1 of Stargate Atlantis. It's just two guys, talking about how bacon is the food that makes other food worth eating. And you can't help but nod with the wisdom behind that, religious or vegetarian objections aside. Bacon *is* the food that makes other food worth eating! These two, nameless, uniformed men speak the truth! You love the bacon guys. Go bacon guys! Then Koyla comes through the gate and shoots them both. And seriously, you just met the bacon guys, and they're dead, but you *care*. It's an awesome scene. If the action starts before your reader loves your characters, even just a little, they're going to have a hard time connecting with them as horrible things are being thrown at them.

Am I too afraid something may not be explained?

Back story is important. It adds a dimension to the characters, a history that can be hinted at, and conflict between characters that can be eluded at or ignored with tragic consequences. And I'm all about the tragic consequences.

However, back story doesn't usually belong in the front of a story. As much as the author cries that the reader won't understand their prose if the reader doesn't understand that Bad Guy X did Action Y to main character Z in the very first scene, or that if it's not explained how the main character got to the action of the start of the book, then reader isn't going to understand.

The author shouldn't be afraid that their readers isn't going to trust them. I mean there is a limit of how much mysterious mystery you can cram in (I'm looking at you, Lost), but there's a fair bit of tension you can have. Most readers are more likely turn the page to find out why rather than give up in disgust because everything is not instantly explained. Critique groups are partly to blame for this, because the moment they get to something that isn't completely explained in a neat package, some people feel compelled to ask for more exposition. In commercial fiction there is a trust that the author will get to the dark looks between the dreaded Count and his beautiful Ward eventually. As long as you know you'll get to it, eventually, don't let a critique partner demand to know more information than they really ought to have. Don't interrupt the flow of what is happening now to talk about what happened last week/month/century.

The first chapter has to do three things. It has to introduce an interesting character, in an interesting world, with an interesting problem he or she has to either solve, or fail miserably at solving, by the end of the book. Everything else can wait.

Why am I using today as a starting point?

It should be clear, to you, if not immediately to the reader why you have started the novel the day, of all the days in the character's life. What causes the change that makes the character suddenly need to get involved outside their day to day lives to fight the greater good? It helps if there is a personal as well as global reason, and helps even more if their motivation doesn't come down to just 'money' 'family' or 'trying not to die'. Sadly, we all need money, we all should think family is important, and we're all, even crossing the street at the cross-walk, trying not to die. What makes your character more unique than that?

What happens if the character fails?

This may not have to be dealt with in the first chapter. But soon, the reader has to know what will happen if your character stops fighting. If he or she throws up their hands, says, "Bugger this, I'm going back home to my farm/my town/Alpha Centauri" there has to be dire consequences. How does the world end? This question may not work when dealing with a contemporary romance, but in science fiction and fantasy, it is of upmost importance.

And if they can quit and walk away, it's a huge failing of:

Where's my tension?

No, really, where is it? Tension is needed, even from page one. If you've ever seen pictures of slush piles, or hear editors talk about slush burning parties, there is no hope for a story that starts getting good in chapter 4. Sad, tragic, not the way they did it in the old days, but true. Back story, as it is in the back and not in the present, pretty much guarantees that the main character, if he or she is in it, will survive. There goes your tension.

And there has to be a buildup of tension. The characters rarely can still be solving the same problems in chapter thirty as they are in chapter one. The characters, by their own actions, have to struggle to fix the problem, even if their attempts have just made the situation worse. Your bad guy is out there, stirring the pot, and it's not enough that your characters just react to what is thrown at them. They have to try to get ahead of the ball and start making changes themselves, for better or for worse. The stakes have to get higher, the personal involvement the characters feel needs to get deeper, and if they give up, their world has to end or change so badly, it might as well have ended.

Okay, I have all that. And I'm still vacuuming my cat. Now what?

Checklist time!

◊ Do you have the right main character? Is he/she/it going to be the character who has the most to gain, the most to lose, and is most at odds with the message of the book. If no, a book can be done from the outsider point of view, but it's very hard to pull off well when the greatest emotion is reported, but not shown. While working on Castoffs, my first erotica novel, there was a blond thug in it that had to bring the main character from place A to place B. I decided he needed a name, called him Vision, and Vision stole the next four books right from under the main character's nose. In the second book, I needed a name for Vision'sdriver, a character I had no plans for at all. I called him Hanz. The vampire series is now the Vision and Hanz show. I'm just saying.
◊ Is your world too big? Do you have a cast of thousands already and you've not gotten past the first chapter? Eliminate as many duplicate point of view characters as possible. Remember any more than a couple characters introduced on a page are too many characters for the readers to keep straight.
◊ An antagonist that does not just kick children and steal candy from puppies is a rare, valuable thing. What is he doing to make sure the good guys don't just waltz in and take over? Why is he being antagonistic in the first place? Does he have a legitimate gripe against your main character? The more real he is as a character, the more he will be remembered.
◊ Is the startling point, the point that changes everything and gets the story rolling happening off screen? And if it is off screen…why? Drag the action onto the page, get your characters in the thick of things for their emotional involvement, and then have them deal with the consequences as things spiral out of control.
◊ Take away the easy outs. Make the characters work. Eliminate any character that only exists to go to the main character to tell or give them stuff. Knowledge has to be hard won. I'm the first to admit that it is rough to have painted the characters into the proverbial corner, but it's even tougher to make readers care about characters that never have to suffer or earn what they're given.
◊ If a chapter/scene/section isn't working, switch it up. Switch point of views. Switch motivations. Switch the outcome of the scene itself. If that doesn't help ask yourself why you need that scene to begin with. If you need to cut, cut swiftly. It will hurt less. Go back to the point in the story where you know deep down that you've backed the wrong horse or gone on the wrong tangent and begin again. For me, it's amazing how listening to the little voice in the back of the head telling you that the scene isn't working can save so much effort. It is almost impossible to recover a scene that feels like it was forced out.
◊ Trust yourself. If you are bored with a scene, ask yourself why. Be honest. I find this especially useful when I've written things out long hand to be dictated or transcribed into text, or I'm reading it over in a draft stage. If I'm bored with a section, or if it goes nowhere or nothing happens, I'm more likely to skip it or work on it then and there so it becomes important, things change, or it goes somewhere. These nowhere scenes and nobody characters can change the book in a whole new way you hadn't even thought of, connecting a bunch of random scenes that had come at the beginning to make it seem like you had that very thought in your head the whole time. Go with it.

I don't plan my novels. I may break out the odd post-it note to work out a tricky scene, but I'm very fluid when it comes do what happens next. I trust my intelligent characters to react intelligently to the problem they're dealing with. Whatever you do, as long as it works for you, is fantastic. But a good solid base can carry a novel through the muddle in the middle right through to the end, and a bad beginning can sink a story before it even had a chance to get good.

So, what's your surefire way to unblock writer's block?

Angela's website:
Angela's Loose Id titles can be found here
Angela's ManLoveRomance Press are available here

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Guest Blogger ~ Laura Baumbach

New Characters to New Worlds—even new or *improved* body parts!
Writing in the sci-fi genre

That’s what you can achieve when you write sci-fi.
Hello. My name is Laura Baumbach. I’m an author and publisher of M/M erotic romance. I write for several publishers including MLR Press, Aspen Mountain Press, Samhain, Changeling, LooseId, Torquere, and Forbidden Publications. I written in several different sub-genres such as paranormal-vampires, werewolves and ghosts, suspense, contemporary, crime drama, thrillers and my current fixation - science fiction.
This month I'm spending all my time that isn't taken up by my family or my business writing my latest novel GENETIC SNARE. This one is the second in my sci-fi DETAILS series. The first on was the 2007 EPPIE finalist DETAILS OF THE HUNT.
This series came about when I took a challenge off the Sci-Fi Channel's website to write a story using the theme of pirate treasure and outer space. I thought it would be fun to change around the traditional story and make the pirate the treasure. I realize there are modern day pirates, and will probably be pirates in the future, but when I think about them I imagine the swashbuckling, cunning buccaneers of the 18th century.
But then came the challenge of how to incorporate an 18th century earth pirate into a futuristic space tale. Obviously, I needed to add time travel elements to my story, remembering that anything I did couldn't affect the time line continuum in the process of telling my story.
I didn't want the travel to be a common occurrence either. I wanted the talent to be restricted to an ethical few. So I created a race of warriors that had the ability to time jump. These beings, six to seven foot tall, gray skinned, muscle bound, slightly reptilian looking, fierce warriors, would have learned over time to keep the source of their talent secret, and to use the ability for the benefit of not only themselves but other races. Thus was born my time traveling alien bounty hunters, the Oracan.
The Oracan accept petitions for hunts from anyone, anywhere in the universe. The one requirement is that the hunt must have some type of altruistic goal, a benefit for more than just personal gain. They procure anything from inanimate objects to people. Those Oracans that choose to become Hunter have a high moral code to go with their extreme physical skill and warrior upbringing. Think navy seals/secret agents on massive growth hormones and steroids. *lol*
My Oracan hero is named Talos. Mr. Tall, Gray and Stoic. High moral fiber, strict rules of conduct and an attitude that comes from knowing he can take any male in the room on and win without even trying. I mean, Oracan cultural ritual practices eating the hearts of their fallen enemies. Tough guys personified. And this one learned to speak English from watching ancient Earth gangster films from the 1930's an 40's. When he calls a woman a 'dame' he's not referring to any type of British title. *g*
Once I had my 'big guy' I had to create my 'small guy'. This is a dynamic I love to write. It may not be your thing, but it is definitely mine. I like the physical contrasts, making imbalance of power dynamic. I like showing that my 'little guy' can be just as tough and manly as the 'big guy', and in some cases like in MEXICAN HEAT, even more stoic or scrappy than his partner.
Aidan Maymon was born out of this dynamic. I wanted my pirate to be young in keeping with the short life expectancies in the 18th century, cunning and quick-witted as he would need to be to survive the times and be captain of a buccaneer ship, and brave enough to stand up to the worse of the immoral criminals that made up a fair share of the seafaring men. Quick with his sword and a creative curse, Aidan has a core of fair play and goodness wrapped in a survivor's thick, clever, conniving hide. And he's an excellent pickpocket. *g*
And the marvelous, wondrous thing about writing sci-fi is that you have the flexibility to combine two such radically unique characters in one story and still make it work. As long the author creates a believable world and sticks to their own rules through the novel or series, anything they can imagine is possible. Which s how I ended up with an 18th century pirate pairing with a 6th century alien bounty hunter for adventure and love.
I'm continuing the adventures of Talos and Aidan in the series with GENETIC SNARE. I have a total of seven books planned, one per year. Originally it was written as a two-hour buddy flick movie script for a TV pilot with an additional six episodes. The script won a couple of minor awards but never went anywhere. The cost of producing a sci-fi movie was a big stumbling block.
But I love the characters and didn't want them to go to waste. So I moved that buddy flick relationship over the line to lovers and rewrote the story a bit to develop that relationship into a M/M erotic romance. Since that was were I was inclined to take it when I wrote the mainstream version, it wasn't a difficult task. The end result earned DETAILS OF THE HUNT a nod as a 2007 EPPIE finalist for best GLBT novel.
No where but in sci-fi do I find the freedom to be as unorthodox as my imagination can be. And trust me, my imagination can run a lot of wild places, some of them maybe even in my upcoming December release (hopefully) GENETIC SNARE!
Pirates, aliens, bounty hunters, mating rituals, combats rituals, murder, mayhem and LOTS of steamy, and uniquely alien-endowed lovemaking in this one. My muse was looking for an unrestrained run.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Alex Beecroft ~ Writing the Historical Ghost Story

From that title you'd suppose I was some kind of expert on historical ghost stories, but that's very far from the truth. My qualifications to talk on the subject are that I have written one historical ghost story – 'The Wages of Sin', due to come out in time for Halloween 2009 in an anthology by ManLove Romance Press. But I very much enjoyed the process, to the extent that I'm hoping to write more. So, if you thought of this as 'writing the historical ghost story – for complete beginners', that would be more like it.

Although this was my first ghost story, I started out from a background of writing historical novels set in the 18th Century. So I already had a lot of historical information about the setting on hand, and a good idea where to go to find more.

I figured that if I was writing a historical novel about brewers, I would research into how brewing was done in the 18th Century and see if any ideas were sparked by the techniques or attitudes of the time towards brewing. So why should ghosts be any different?

I started off with an overview of how ghosts have been perceived throughout history:

Those and many more websites, and a couple of books on the subject, seemed unanimous that ghosts linger in the world because of something left undone. Either an injustice done towards the person when they were alive, which they remain to avenge, or an injustice the ghost did to another, which they need somebody to right for them before they can move on. That, or the person's burial rites were not completed properly – they were buried in unconsecrated ground, or without the correct sacrifices etc.

This early conception of ghosts as being people who had a good reason to linger – people who were trying to put something right – carried on into the 18th Century. Once I'd got an overview, I concentrated on reading about the most famous ghost of the era – the Cock Lane ghost.

This ghost, which claimed to be the murdered wife of a man who had subsequently re-married and lived in a small lodging house in Cock Lane, was heard by hundreds of people in London. It became a bit of a fashion to go and listen to it answering questions by the famous 'one knock or two' method.

Eventually the 'ghost' was unmasked by a team of investigators, including Samuel Johnson of Dictionary fame. The knocks were being faked by the young daughter of the man's landlord.

What's most scary about this story is the way a whole family united in an attempt to get their lodger lynched by the mob for a murder he didn't actually commit. The ghost itself was a bit of a fairground sideshow.

But again, what's notable is that once the ghost identified itself as the lodger's first wife, everyone assumed that she must have returned in order to gain justice for herself. A ghost was assumed to be proof positive of murder.

Which, of course, makes it easy to tie a ghost story into a murder-mystery. What violent deed in the past created the ghost? How does that tie in with the events in the present? Who will see the ghost, and what will they need to do to right the wrong and allow the ghost to move on?

In the course of reviewing the evidence about ghosts through history, I came across a lot of 'real life stories' which were spine chilling, and quite a few – like the Cock Lane ghost – which were only scary from a perspective of human psychology. So naturally I paid a lot of attention to the elements of the scary ones, to see what was working on me and what wasn't. I soon decided that I found poltergeists, which can move objects and therefore harm you, more scary than the classic ghost which just walks along a corridor on windy nights. So I made mine a poltergeist.

I also came across some delightful evidence of early vampires. I wasn't sure whether vampires were around in the 18th Century, but it turns out that one of the things the 18th Century did for us was to introduce the Western world to the concept of the vampire.

These were not your modern suave and sexy (even glittery) vampires, but the blood-sucking walking corpses of legend. As with the Cock Lane ghost in London, so many people believed these creatures existed that there was public hysteria in Prussia over them. Eventually official investigators were sent to make a scientific inquiry into whether vampires existed or not, and the investigation reported that they did not.

Newspaper reports spread the information all over Europe, so I feel no shame at making Jasper - one of my heroes – into an early 18th Century vampire hunter. But that's something for a different story, I hope!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Bend in the Road ~ Update and Blurb

Well, we now have a title for my 2009 work coming out from ManLoveRomance Press. - Bend in the Road. And a Blurb (unedited). Here it is:
BEND IN THE ROAD, set in Eastern Europe in the 1880s, introduces us to two couples that find safe havens in the insular world of a traveling Yiddish theater troupe. IN THE LION'S DEN introduces us to Daniel Bercovich, a young man in the first throes of finding his identity. Can the man he comes to love accept a new side to him?

Yuval Smolenski finds more than the inspiration for his music, he finds something everlasting in FROM STAGE TO STAGE. These Jewish men in love must deal not only with the stigma of that love but also fear the rise of anti-Semitism. Can their love survive all the forces that surround them?
Well, what do you think?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Guest Blogger ~ Jason Edding, a new star!

JB: I'd like to thank ManLoveRomance Press debut author Jason Edding for joining me at The Sweet Flag today. Jason is the author of Dark Robe Heart: Dark Robe Society 1 part of the two author anthology, Space Escapes with Angela Fiddler. So, Jason, first, let's get the nittygritty out of the way, tell us a little about yourself.

JE: Thank you Jeanne for having me today. I was born in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. My family is fairly large. I have nine brothers and sisters, and while we still lived on the Cape, we had a virtual farm of animals living with us. Cats, dogs, a skunk, rabbits, a snake, a turtle and I'm not sure, but possibly one or two other wild animals. I was too young to remember all of these critters, because when I was four we moved to Maine. I started reading when I was pretty young and we moved around a lot, so books became very important to me.

JB: Can you tell us about the premise of your story? Since the title says Dark Robe Heart: Dark Robe Society 1 I'd suspect we'll be seeing another story in the series. Will this be a stand alone or do you envision doing it as another novella with one of MLR Press's wonderful cadre of authors?
JE: Jack Harrow is a clone who has escaped to find his own life. At first he thinks all he wants is to get away from it, but he realizes he wants to destroy the Dark Robe Society and end their total domination of the world. They are the world leaders. They control the military, and in fact there is nothing they don't control. He meets Edge Fland who has been sent to kill him and return with something Jack has that the Dark Robes want.
Yes, Dark Robe Heart is book one. When this story came to me, I envisioned a huge world and I keep telling a friend of mine, 'this story could go on forever.' I am currently working on the sequel. The title is Dark Robe Edges and will have not only Jack and Edge returning, but two new heroes: Alton Tees and Toren Mir. This story will tell how they go against the Dark Robes and their leader, the Hierarch Ernst Venderhem... As of yet whether it will be a novella or stand alone is up in the air. LOL

JB: Do you think you might incorporate your love of cats in your stories? I know this might sound a bit weird, but when we got our little kitties earlier this year, I wound up putting a cat in a sequel I was working on.
JE: I have another story on the back burner involving vampires and a young book collector, who just so happens to have a cat who has the same name as my kitty, so yes, I have every intention of having lots of cats in my stories. I have to plug them now and then. LOL

JB: Did you find your love of astronomy made it easier to write a story that takes place in space?

JE: I found that my love of astronomy spurred me on to write sci-fi. I have countless astronomy books and I'm always searching for more information. The universe is so vast and we'll never know it all. I've found the Hubble images of the universe to be thought provoking. And every time astronomers find a new planet out there, it's exciting! So, to answer your question, yes, it certainly helped me write.

JB: An author can choose the genres in which they write. What led you to write not only a sci/fi story, but one with gay characters?
JE: Hmm, writing sci-fi and gay romance. Well, I've always found it fun and interesting to write gay erotica. To write a love story between two men is something I've always wanted to do. To have them in a sci-fi, space, futuristic environment at the same time is just icing on the cake. Besides, it's really so much fun to create the passion.

JB: What's on the horizon for you? Will you be doing any stories not in the Dark Robe world?
JE: On my horizons. Well, I have the vampire novella/novel that I'm working on from time to time, and I've got an idea for a totally new sci-fi story that may or may not take place on the planet Saturn. I've always wanted to write a fantasy novel, but no plans for one yet. Those won't be in the Dark Robe world. However, in my mind, the Dark Robe world may be here for a long, long time.

JB: Now for something totally frivolous: What are your favorite scifi shows or films and if you could, what two heroes do you think would make a hot couple?
JE: Favorite tv shows? Hmm, I love Battlestar Galactica. I mean, I froth over it. The new version. Omg, what a fantastic show! Also I watch M*A*S*H five days a week. My mom and I would watch it together, and she has passed away. It's one of my ways of remembering her and her laughter. Two heroes that would make a hot couple... oh boy. Han Solo and Luke Skywalker. LOL That's my dream couple. I'd love to know what readers think.
Thank you Jeanne, this has been a great time for me.

JB: You're quite welcome. I always love having guys visit The Sweet Flag!
Jack shrugged. "When one show stops, another begins soon after."
"Shit, I'm living in here." Edge guzzled his liquor, until only half still remained.
"I found a contact with the information we need," Jack told him, fingering his bottle.
Edge leaned close. "Yeah? Where?" He looked around the dim joint.
"The owner. Don't worry about that part, the less you know for now, the better," Jack replied quickly.
Edge smiled at Jack and shrugged. "Too many secrets spoil the fun, Jack."
Jack placed his hand on Edge's. "I'm glad you liked the show, because they've already picked the next two guys to fuck."
Edge clanked his bottle against Jack's. "Good, I'm not even close to being satisfied. That young guy had a hot cock and a sweet ass; I'm surprised he's down here." He threw his head back and stretched to the ceiling. "Hot ass...wonder if I could get him out of here and to our bed."
Jack nodded slowly. "That young guy has probably been bought and sold more times than you've pissed on the ground," Jack told him. Edge had told him he liked to be one with nature, back on Earth. Jack had wished he had been there to see it, but hearing it was the next best thing.
"Good, there'll be a new show soon." Then he added, "Part of the deal I made was that the next two men to go into that cubicle to fuck will be you and me." Jack grinned, but he was frowning behind the mask.
"What?" Edge's mouth dropped open and he let his bottle drop, spilling half of its contents across the table and his lap.

Copyright 2008 Jason Edding

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Jules Jones ~ The British are coming!

Morning (or evening) to everyone, and thanks to Jeanne for inviting me. Jeanne's suggested that I talk about some of my stories, so I thought I'd do a slightly different version of that old favourite, "where do you get your ideas from?" But if anyone's got general questions or comments about any of my books and stories, go ahead.

I write cross-genre romance, and while I'm published by a romance house (Loose Id), I started on the science fiction and fantasy side. I've been a speculative fiction reader since I was old enough to read, but I got started writing fiction about twelve years ago, when I discovered fanfiction -- specifically, fanfiction for an old sf show on the BBC. It was dark and political and had some fascinating characters and world-building, and it left a lot of loose threads waiting to be picked up by fan writers who wanted to explore that world.
When I started getting ideas for stories with original characters, they were by and large speculative fiction -- science fiction and fantasy. But they were speculative fiction about relationships between people, stories that reflected some of the books I'd loved best as a reader. Not always romantic or sexual relationships, but very much about people learning to make things work between them. So it's not a surprise that the first stories I sold were cross-genre erotic romance, and that's continued to be a strong strand in my output. But as I keep writing, I keep exploring different aspects of my chosen genres. Each book is a learning experience, a chance to develop new skills and techniques.
My books range across a variety of styles of SF&F. The Syndicate, my first full-length book (and Loose Id's first m/m title) is slapstick comedy about geeks in space. It's silly, over the top, and was enormous fun to write. It's also, in the third book in the series, a gay inspirational romance. At the time Alex and I wrote volume 3, theAnglican communion was having a family fight over the acceptance of gay church members, and I wanted to show a future where it was no longer an issue. So there are a lot of anachronistic jokes about potential culture clashes at a mixed Anglican-Methodist wedding, and not a mention of the fact that it's two men getting married.
The Buildup series, Mindscan and Pulling Strings (and maybe one day I'll break the writer's block on the third book) is dark space opera with strong political undertones. It's essentially looking at some of the same themes that attracted me to writing in the first place, only with my own characters and stories rather than with someone else's universe. And, of course, a romantic couple in each book who manage to win their way to an ending that's at least happy for now, with hopefor the future.

I had a change of pace and shift of genre with the Spindrift stories.These books are fantasy, a reworking of British and Irish mythology in a modern setting. I took the legend of the silkies, the fairy people who live as seals but can shed their sealskin to appear human, and wrote a story of silkies in the present day -- a people who are dying out as the magic fades away, but who remain yet, hidden amongst human friends in a Scottish fishing village.

One of the staples of silkie mythology is the silkie woman whose skin is stolen so that she cannot return to seal form, forcing her to remain on land as wife to a human man. But my stranded silkie is a man, his skin stolen in mistake for his sister's, in a community where such theft has not been known in generations; and the refuge he finds while his friends look for his lost skin is with another man, a stranger to the village who finds himself trusted with its greatest secret. On the surface it's lighter in tone than Buildup and much more slice-of-life, and there's a much more unequivocal HEA ending for the central couple, but it's also a look at the problems faced by people who want or need to live in two worlds. You can see a more detailed discussion of where this and some similarly themed short stories came from in a blog post I wrote to answer a piece of fanmail:

I stayed with shapeshifters in a contemporary world when I wrote my next book, Dolphin Dreams, but this was another development in my writing range -- it was the first time I wrote a menage a trois romance. That was an interesting thing to handle, as I needed to develop a balanced relationship where nobody felt like a spare part brought in to make up the numbers. Writing it was also interesting from another perspective, as when I started researching real dolphin biology and social behaviour to do my world-building, I found a lot of nifty stuff that fitted neatly into how I wanted the story to go. Sometimes you get lucky this way, and your research gives you even more ideas for the book.
And after that I moved out of sf&F altogether, with my take on that classic romance plot, the tycoon/secretary. In Lord and Master, my tycoon and secretary are both openly gay men, and with more in common than their gender and sexual orientation. What separates them is a gap in age and experience, the tycoon a self-made millionaire in his forties who's built up his own engineering consultancy firm, his secretary the newly-qualified young scientist he's just hired as his research assistant -- a man much like himself twenty years earlier.

This started as a very short erotica story about a young man who got involved in a friends-with-benefits affair with his older boss, but then fell in love and has no idea if his feelings are reciprocated. But as sometimes happens, I then wanted to write more about the characters -- how they got into that situation, and what happened next. And in the two years the story had been in submission to various anthologies, the UK Civil Partnership legislation had passed through parliament. That was an interesting plot hook to base the story around, all by itself. But I wanted something more for the conflict in the story, and so as I developed the book, something else crept in -- the downside to the creativity that had made Steven successful in business...

The next completely new book I work on will be an urban fantasy. It started as so many of my stories have -- a single scene, a sudden mental image of characters doing something, and the need to know how they got there and what happened next. In this case, a protagonist who has befriended a local homeless man is asked to help a mutual acquaintance who has been badly beaten -- and discovers that the reason they've asked him for help rather than going to the police is that there are dragonfly wings under that long shapeless coat the man always wears. _Someone_ has collared and bound a fairy, in 21st century inner London. I've got about 15,000 words so far, although I set it aside for a while to work on more material in the Lord and Master series.
And that's the theme that runs through much of my writing. It covers a broad range of sub-genres, and more than one genre, but it's largely character-driven. One of my sf writer friends says that writing is chasing your characters up a tree and throwing rocks at them to see what they do -- and that does describe a lot of my writing. I hope it's as interesting to read as it is to write.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

World-Building in Speculative Fiction - Astrid Amara

We're waving the Flag today for Astrid Amara

What is it that excites readers about speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, paranormal, horror)? Is it the sense of escapism into a world that is almost like ours, some place familiar and yet different enough to awaken the dormant explorer within us? Is it the expression of imagination, striving to define not only characters, but the very nature of the society in which they live? Or is it an opportunity to derive meaning through metaphor?

As a reader, I am most enchanted with spec fiction that takes me to a unique alternate universe - a place where the basic rules are different. Where the devils of hell won the battle in heaven. Or where the machines are run by biological components instead of the other way around. Or where the glittering future of space is sooty and tarnished with the messy detritus of our industrial past.

As a writer, I strive to create realistic worlds that are similar enough to our own that I can feel comfortable in them, and yet with enough difference to transport me outside my own realities. In Intimate Traitors, I visualized a plausible future of nanotechnology, oppressive governmental regime, and computers embedded in end-users to present a world that seemed plausible and yet foreign.

Similarly, in A Policy of Lies, I took trends in computer development and transported this to a satellite in space, complete with mining moons, all-powerful corporate oversight, and a futuristic insurance agency where if you sign a life insurance policy, the company literally owns your life.

Both of these are exaggerations of modern realism. It is world-building on a small scale. Nearly real, but different enough to add a challenge as a writer to create more than just plot and character – to create society, and cityscape, and political structure.

But it was with my fantasy novel The Archer's Heart that I had the most fun, creating a complete universe from scratch. Although based heavily on Indian epic tradition, I created a world and a society where caste defines all, where mystic powers are wielded by the nobility, and immortal demons themselves are transformed by the power of words into weapons of mass destruction.

In fantasy, the setting must become one with the story itself, and therefore, if the world-building is dull, then the story itself suffers. The two should build off each other, enhancing the quality of the character's journey until even the oddest settings become the only settings that story can take place in.

In my latest release, Hell Cop, I worked with two talented authors, Nicole Kimberling and Ginn Hale, and together we created three novellas that interact in the same alternate world. This gritty urban setting has a sorcerer-elite class, demons whose parts run their technology, and whose psychic powers can unravel mysteries. This was a great experiment in world-building; can three different authors make up a new universe and have all the rules apply equally? I think we pulled it off, and had a lot of fun doing so!

When I'm writing, I constantly ask myself the question: has this been done before? Because I want something fresh if I'm going into another world. And then I ask, am I faithful to the realism of my own world? Because nothing takes a reader out of the story faster than breaking one's own rules within the setting.

And the beauty of world-building a story with the author's unique mark is that it can be so much more than mere setting. It is the metaphorical power of fantasy and science fiction that allows for a world to be twisted around the character's experience, and serve as allegory for the theme of the story as a whole.

In realism, we see a person react to specific circumstance and illustrates the economic, political, and social conditions of our world today.

But since so much of fantasy is archetype-based, readers get more than just plot; they get a psychological journey, and an opportunity to question universals. It represents more than just one person, but what it is to be human, and the vivid, raw truth of what it means to live and breathe, fall in love and fight for one's dreams.

Wow. I didn't even mention that all my stories involve hardcore anal sex, did I?

Heh. But they do that as well. And again, that's the beauty of speculative fiction – if you're going to write an anal sex scene… why not put it on the moon? Oh the glories of fiction!

So there's my rant, but monologues are boring. What do you think? What is it that you enjoy most about stories set in alternate universes? When is some fabrication too much? And what are the worlds that stick in your mind as real places, as real as the emotions, the situations, and the characters themselves? I'd love to hear from you!

And I would be remiss if I didn't now thank Jeanne for the honor of being a guest blogger! Thank you so much.

About Astrid Amara
Astrid is the author of four science fiction/fantasy novels, all with gay protagonists:
Intimate Traitors
Hell Cop
(all available through Loose Id);

The Archer's Heart available through Blind Eye Books
She is also the author of two short stories in the gay fantasy anthology, Tangle, also available through Blind Eye Books.

Check out her website at: and help her Porn for Ponies campaign! That's right – every porn-y novel you buy puts more money in her savings to rescue an old, decrepit, bite-y pony!
Astrid's blog: