Sunday, August 31, 2008

September Guest Bloggers

Hard to believe it's almost September!
Kids are back in school. The new fall TV season begins, hopefully with some programs of merit. And we have a new line up of guests for the Blog!
These prolific authors write for several different publishers in a variety of genres. Please drop by Wednesdays and leave a comment! Or two!

Roxy Harte 9/3
Lynn Lorenz
DJ Manly 9/17
T.A. Chase
Hope to see you then!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Sweet Flag Flash

Inspiration from Whitman's words.
Sweet Flag Flash

Whoever You Are Holding Me Now in Hand ~ Walt Whitman

Whoever you are holding me now in hand,
Without one thing all will be useless,
I give you fair warning before you attempt me further,
I am not what you supposed, but far different.

Who is he that would become my follower?
Who would sign himself a candidate for my affections?

The way is suspicious, the result uncertain, perhaps destructive,
You would have to give up all else, I alone would expect to be your
sole and exclusive standard,
Your novitiate would even then be long and exhausting,
The whole past theory of your life and all conformity to the lives
around you would have to be abandon'd,
Therefore release me now before troubling yourself any further, let
go your hand from my shoulders,
Put me down and depart on your way.

Or else by stealth in some wood for trial,
Or back of a rock in the open air,
(For in any roof'd room of a house I emerge not, nor in company,
And in libraries I lie as one dumb, a gawk, or unborn, or dead,)
But just possibly with you on a high hill, first watching lest any
person for miles around approach unawares,
Or possibly with you sailing at sea, or on the beach of the sea or
some quiet island,
Here to put your lips upon mine I permit you,
With the comrade's long-dwelling kiss or the new husband's kiss,
For I am the new husband and I am the comrade.

Or if you will, thrusting me beneath your clothing,
Where I may feel the throbs of your heart or rest upon your hip,
Carry me when you go forth over land or sea;
For thus merely touching you is enough, is best,
And thus touching you would I silently sleep and be carried eternally.

But these leaves conning you con at peril,
For these leaves and me you will not understand,
They will elude you at first and still more afterward, I will
certainly elude you.
Even while you should think you had unquestionably caught me, behold!
Already you see I have escaped from you.

For it is not for what I have put into it that I have written this book,
Nor is it by reading it you will acquire it,
Nor do those know me best who admire me and vauntingly praise me,
Nor will the candidates for my love (unless at most a very few)
prove victorious,
Nor will my poems do good only, they will do just as much evil,
perhaps more,
For all is useless without that which you may guess at many times
and not hit, that which I hinted at;
Therefore release me and depart on your way.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the HEA

KZ Snow's special take on the Happily-ever-after Ending.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the HEA

The sacrosanct happily-ever-after: some readers and publishers insist on it; others are more flexible. A recent trend in romance fiction seems to be toward the happy-for-now or HFN ending, which better reflects reality and is therefore more believable. In both cases, though, it’s considered bad form for an author to mess publicly with a couple once they’ve been joined. If spunky Liza and alpha-dude Lucas decide to buy one-way tickets to Splitsville, they’d better be discreet and do it off-stage.
This became a big issue for me when I was recently backed into a corner by three very stubborn characters who decided they didn’t want to conform to any model.
In my Ellora’s Cave novel Plagued,
vampire hero Adin Swift hooks up with a mortal woman named Celia Quill. They come to love and stand by one another. Because they face a threat of great paranormal magnitude, Adin must call on an old friend for help.
Enter Jackson Spey, a man of many skills.
From the moment this Harley-riding wizard reappeared in Adin’s life, I knew I’d opened a big ol’ can of worms. Adin and Jackson had a ten-year history. They’d always found each other profoundly simpatico in nearly every respect. Then Adin drank his friend’s blood, and . . . Well, you know how it is -- a vampire feed is one erotic experience. Oh, boy.
It quickly became obvious to me that these men were so bloated with repressed desire for each other, something was bound to pop. (Sorry for the metaphor.) But what was to become of Celia, who’d gotten her HFN at the end of Plagued? Hell, Adin wasn’t a faithless cad. He truly loved her. And Jackson was an honorable man who had genuine respect for this woman, both as an individual and as Adin’s partner.
Helluva quandary. I knew Adin and Jackson deserved a chance to explore their mutual passion—it was inevitable, really—but I also knew Celia could not become a scorned and bitter female consigned to the doldrums of romance. The men wouldn’t stand for it, she wouldn’t stand for it, and I wouldn’t stand for it. Furthermore, I refused to kill her off or turn her into a lesbian, either of which would’ve been one of the lamest deus-ex-machina turns imaginable.
Deliverance ultimately came from an unlikely place—MySpace. (My hand to god/dess, this is a true story.)
A former college roommate, somebody I hadn’t seen or heard from in decades, found me there. We began exchanging emails to catch up on each other’s life. Laura rather tentatively confessed she had an “unconventional” marriage. I assumed she and her husband were into some kind of swingers or Dom/sub thing. That wasn’t it. Following their marriage, it became apparent all was not right in the bedroom. Laura and her husband at first assumed he was bisexual. That call, as it turned out, was a little off. Not long thereafter, the husband realized he’d fudged on the truth, however unintentionally, and was actually gay. But he and Laura stayed married. Both soon became happily involved with other men . . . and remained contentedly wed.
This living example of selflessness, devotion, and adaptability has been around for thirty-plus years. I was impressed.
There’s no doubt in my mind that many, many couples have similarly, and silently, chosen to tolerate each other’s sexual preferences/orientations/practices. Moreover, Laura’s story prompted me to reflect on my own experiences. I’ve had two flings with gay men, and I learned from both that fond friendships can spring, sans bile and blame-throwing, from the ashes of doomed romantic pairings.
I sincerely hope more M/M romances explore such situations, which often entail a very special kind of heartbreak coupled with a very special kind of HEA. Although it’s common for the male protagonists to struggle with their own issues, we rarely get a glimpse of a woman who must either accommodate or play past her partner’s choice to be with a man. It would be gratifying to see more characters clear this hurdle with grace.
So back to Celia Quill. I realized she was open-minded enough to understand Adin’s dilemma, and strong and caring enough to help smooth the way toward its resolution. The first step takes place in the novella Obsessed (available from Changeling Press). A recent review of Obsessed at Literary Nymphs further affirmed I'd made the right decision. Wrote the reviewer:
Obsessed surprised me. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but by the end, I realized how deep a story it is. Adin is an admirable man -- very loving toward [his girlfriend], but unable to shake the growing love for his best friend. Jackson possesses more than just physical strength, especially at the end, but it’s Celia who shines, even if she doesn’t take center stage. As someone who understands Adin’s plight, I couldn’t help but adore Celia for her loving and trusting acceptance of who he is and what he feels.
Whether or not Celia continues living with Adin is entirely her decision; he will not summarily dump her, and Jackson will not press the issue. If she decides to stay, it won’t be because she’s been pulled into a domestic threesome. She’s no buttinski (uh, that wasn’t a pun). If she decides to leave, it won’t be because of Adin’s and Jackson’s ongoing trysts. She’s resigned to them.
As the men’s relationship continues to evolve (and it’s currently doing so, in a WIP titled InDescent), so will Celia’s attitudes. From the start, the three of them have communicated with frankness and sensitivity. I do have a feeling, though, there’s great fulfillment in store for her.
My exploration of naughty boys -- with or without girls, but usually without -- will continue in a futuristic urban fantasy series (Utopia-X) I have planned for Loose Id. The first book, Looking for Some Touch, is now in edits. And September 19 will see the release of the erotic romance Prince of Glacier Glas from Ellora's Cave; different men, different world . . . and a plump, juicy HEA any woman would envy!
Looking for some more KZ Snow?
Check out her links:

K.Z. Snow blogging this Wednesday

KZ Snow takes a new look on the HEA ending on August 27th. Sometimes it takes more than two to tango!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

8 Everyday Words with X-rated Origins

I just had to post this list and the link to the article.
Who knew we were talking dirty all this time? BTW, I urge you to follow the links imbedded in the list. You'll truly add to your enjoyment!

"Hey, that plant there is kind of shaped like my balls," is something that you're really not allowed to say in polite society. It wasn't always that way, though.
As it turns out, many of the words you use every day were invented by people who had wieners, balls and asses on the brain. Yes, we're serious. For example:

#8. Hysteria

What It Means Now:
An over emotional reaction, chaos, a Def Leppard album.
The Dirty History:
The term comes from the Greek "Hystera," which means womb or ovary, which also gives us the term hysterectomy. Modern examples of hysteria are mostly riot related, but back in the Victorian era, it was considered a nervous condition for females, caused by their lady-parts. Which, like riots, was stopped with fucking fire hoses.

That image shows the so-called "water massage" that was used to treat the condition. For women who didn't like being shot in the crotch with a jet of high-pressure water, the doctor could use his fingers to create the same mysterious effect, which they referred to as "hysterical paroxysm" before someone explained to them what an orgasm was.

#7. Orchid
What It Means Now:
A type of flower.
The Dirty History:
At some point in history a botanist was looking at what is widely considered to be the most beautiful flower in existence when he noticed that the roots sort of looked like balls.

It's unknown if he held the flower next to his crotch, pointed and laughed, but the observation stuck, and the plant was named for a ball-joke.
The term orchid comes from the Greek, orkhis, which means testicle. This etymology of orchid makes the White Stripes lyrics, "You took a white orchid and turned it blue" make much, more sense.

#6. Seminar
What It Means Now:
A group of experts speaking to a usually bored audience, or a certain kind of intensive college course.
The Dirty History:
Seminar comes from the Latin term, "Seminis" which means semen. This is used figuratively because it is a spawning ground for ideas, although it can definitely be taken literally, according to this porno we saw one time.

Likewise if you ever hear some important person referring to a "seminal" moment or idea, same thing. It's the ejaculation that gave birth to something new.
OK, we admit it also means "seed" but the word comes from Old French. If it's the French we're talking about, which do you think they were referring to?

#5. Venus Flytrap
What It Means Now:
A carnivorous plant that eats flies.
The Dirty History:
The botanists that named it saw the flytrap and realized it looked like a vagina, which is why they added Venus (The Greek goddess of love and sex) to its name.
OK, on one hand, you can kind of see it. The plant is oval-shaped, has hair-like cilia, has a pink interior, and secretes mucilage, which is like plant lube, we guess.
Then, you add in the fact that it probably has mashed-up bugs in it, and has huge spiky fucking teeth, and we have to wonder if this dude didn't have some woman issues in his life.

Actually, the idea of a carnivorous snatch is not unique. Tales of fanged vaginas are so common in different cultures that they have a term for it (Vagina Dentata). They even made a movie about it.
So between the orchid thing and this, we're thinking the botanists need to get out more. What else did those people name after their genitals?

#4. Avocado
What It Means Now:
It's a fruit from Central and South America, and the main ingredient in guacamole.
The Dirty History:
Sure enough, the word for Avocado comes from the Nahuatl (The language of the Aztecs) "ahuacatl" which means testicle, because of its shape. OK, they were clearly stretching at this point.

By the way, the avocado was also introduced to America as the "Alligator pear," but the other name stuck so apparently at the time, balls were more popular than alligators. This is apparently not true now because there are no ads with Michael Jordan drinking "Testicalaide," which would have probably made the slogan "Is it in you?" far less popular.
Guacamole also derives from this origin, with its original definition in Nahuatl being "Avocado sauce." We're sure they were referring to the fruit this time, but we're also sure our next trip to Chipotle will involve imagining a money shot that looks like it came out of Ghostbusters.

#3. Mastodon
What It Means Now:
It's an ancestor of the elephant, like the wooly mammoth, except for one difference, and the reason for its sexy name
The Dirty History:
The difference? The tusks. The term "Mastodon" is Greek for "Nipple-tooth," which is a reference to the tit-like protrusions on the end of the tusks, and the ultimate example of nipples getting hard in the cold.

It really says something about the guy who coined that term. When faced with the enormous skeleton of this strange and wondrous beast, he actually took time to notice the very tip of the tusk looked a little like a titty and proceeded to name the entire creature after it.
On a completely unrelated note, Mastodon fossils have been found throughout Europe and the Americas, especially at Kentucky's Big Bone Lick State Park, which is presumably several miles away from Anal Sex Valley National Park.

#2. Manatee
What It Means Now:
A seal's fat cousin from the Caribbean.
The Dirty History:
The term "manatee" comes not only from the Spanish "manos" which alludes to the manatees' flippers looking like hands (of fate), but also, it comes from the term, "Manati," a Carib word for boobs.

This most likely is a result of the mermaid legends and their association with manatees. After centuries of searching for mermaids to fuck, ancient sailors, like many men today, realized they had to lower their standards, and simply referred to the manatees as mermaids, who as legend has it, have great tits.

#1. Fundamental
What It Means Now:
Basic, or pertaining to, the foundation.
The Dirty History:
Fundamental refers to the Latin, "Fundamentum," which meant ass, which is the body's foundation, since both the basement and the ass is where many people store their unwanted possessions (i.e. "Junk in the trunk"). Or something like that.
Fortunately, this is not well known, as the "Reading is Fundamental" organization would have to explain to children that their slogan does not mean that reading is for assholes.
Thanks to Cynnara Tregarth for sharing this!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

One Step Beyond ~ Josh Lanyon

Well, gang, waving the flag a bit early for Josh Lanyon, but I just couldn't wait!

One Step Beyond
Hi there, I’m Josh Lanyon, and -- like the Cowardly Lion -- I do believe in spooks. I do, I do!

Okay, if you’re familiar with my work, you know that I write M/M romance -- usually within the framework of a mystery. Well, mysteries or suspense -- with the occasional action-adventure popcorn book thrown in. My work is known for its realistic elements, in particular realistic characters, which is my way of explaining why I don’t write a lot of paranormal or supernatural stories.

In fact, you’re about as likely to read a vampire or werewolf story from me as you are to read a M/F/M ménage, which is to say: not in this lifetime.

But I love ghost stories.

I love mummies.

I love ancient curses and psychic powers and faked séances that turn into the real thing…

Sexy demons with black fingernails.

Uh, little green men…not so much.

Yeah, I grew up watching shows like One Step Beyond and Night Gallery. (God, remember that thing with the Kachina dolls?) I love stories with supernatural elements -- provided they seem grounded in some recognizable reality. That’s not to say that vampire and werewolf romances can’t be realistic -- or at least follow their own believable internal logic -- just that those things don’t particularly grab my imagination. I’ve never wasted one drop of perspiration over the thought that a vampire might have his red eye on me, but I’ve been in many a dark, ramshackle house that I found myself wondering who had lived and died there. And I’ve caught myself glancing over my shoulder at the squeak of a floorboard or a banging shutter.

That delicious little frisson of fear…who doesn’t enjoy that? Provided it doesn’t end with slashing knifes and flying body parts. Because, yeah, I’m a little squeamish -- and I’m pretty much hung up on happy endings

My favorite ghost story or paranormal has that perfect blend of horror and cozy -- well, and lots of hot romance. And maybe a tiny mystery at its heart, like “Ghost of a Chance,” the ghost story I did for the Scared Stiff anthology.

And why am I thinking about these things? Because I think it’s important for writers to keep pushing, keep trying new things, and so next year -- yep -- I’m going to try a couple of paranormal projects. First up is a novella story called “The Dark Farewell” for The Mysterious, a three-author historical ghost anthology with Alex Beecroft and Laura Baumbach.

Meantime, I thought I would recommend a couple of my favorite spec or fantasy novels: Teot’s War and Blood Storm by Heather Gladney (not M/M exactly, but the series was moving in a promising direction), Chrome by George Nader, and Dragon’s Winter by Elizabeth A. Lynn.

So let me ask you, what do you look for in spec fiction? What elements spoil the fun, what captures your imagination -- and can you recommend your own favorite spec or fantasy novel?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Guest Blogging this August 20th ~ Josh Lanyon

Joining us this Wednesday is fellow Loose Id and ManLoveRomance Press author, Josh Lanyon.
Josh has established himself as one of the best known and best loved authors of m/m fiction. Heck, he even has admirers called "fanyons"!

You have to know you've hit the big time when your fans have a name for themselves! ;~D
Make sure to drop in and leave a comment or two!

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Whitman Excerpt

I couldn't resist putting Walt Whitman into The Sweet Flag. He was one of the most intriguing, enigmatic, conflicted souls of the period. Denying who he was, yet writing such exquiste poetry that can only be fully appreciated when viewed as an expression of homoerotic love.
Whitman appears twice in The Sweet Flag. In this excerpt, we finally find out who the mysterious 'M' was in his poetry.
SET UP: Ron continues to tantalize Brandon with Matthew and deMonde's story.

“I forgive you because of your ignorance, but I am growing tired of your attitude toward Matthew.” He paused. “Perhaps you are jealous of him? He was the embodiment of the heroic ideal of that time. In fact ‑‑ listen. One day, Matthew became the object of adoration of…well, I would not wish to bandy about his name.” He smiled slyly, knowing I’d take the bait.
“Don’t fucking pinch me, but you know damned well I want to know who you’re talking about.”
“Since it cannot be proved one way or the other, I’ll tell you what I know. Matthew caught the eye of the great Walt Whitman.”
“No shit?” The light slowly dawned. “Wait a minute. You’re not going to tell me that Matthew was the mysterious ‘M’ he wrote about?”
“So, you have heard of him? You know then that Whitman trolled for boys and young men. Usually, lower class types, but one day he spied Matthew as Matthew was leaving a neighborhood eatery and was struck by Matthew’s manliness. Whitman found out where Matthew lived and deluged him with gifts. Cuban cigars, liquors, fine linen handkerchiefs, cravats, and walking sticks all arrived at his door with impassioned notes of undying love. Whitman created a non-existent love affair. He hounded Matthew to the point that he could not leave the house for fear of running into him. At last, deMonde had had enough. He arranged to meet Whitman at a café in Manhattan in a part of town where neither man was known. He knew Whitman would be there, for he had signed the letter with Matthew’s initial and intimated that he had finally succumbed to Whitman’s ‘courtship.’
“Whitman arrived early, expecting Matthew’s arrival. Instead, deMonde sat down at the secluded table for two and introduced himself as Matthew’s lover. At first, Whitman was disbelieving. It wasn’t until deMonde described Matthew’s body in loving, intimate detail that he conceded defeat. DeMonde’s delineation could only come from one who had seen Matthew naked. His portrayal of Matthew’s physique exceeded the brief look Whitman glimpsed one morning from the sidewalk as he gazed up at Matthew’s bedroom window. That wasn’t good enough for deMonde. He demanded and received Whitman’s assurance in writing that he would never reveal the name of his fixation. When, the next year, a volume of Whitman’s poetry was published, they knew at once that Whitman had adhered to the agreement, but only marginally.”
I stared at Ron, convinced yet still somewhat incredulous. “The ‘Calamus’ poems.”
He nodded.
“You mean Hardesty was the guy who nearly pushed Whitman over the deep end?”
“If you mean Whitman’s melodramatic response to the ending of his imaginary relationship, then yes. Did you know that the calamus plant was often called “the sweet flag” and named after the river god Calamus who mourned for the drowning of his young male lover? Whitman did. Poor Walt always vacillated over his own nature. Why do you think he left the identity of “M” a mystery? It is ironic that he and deMonde met again in quite different circumstances several years later. But that is a story for another time.” He shifted so that we faced each other. “I would rather not speak any further.” He rubbed his cock against mine and smiled. “I would rather use my mouth in a far more enjoyable manner.” He stopped rubbing, holding still while we both hardened in anticipation. He cocked his head. “Silent, again, eh? You are an apt student and deserve a reward. What shall it be?”
I grabbed his hand and curved his fingers around my dick, gripping his shoulder with my other hand. “You know damn fucking well what I want. The same damn thing as you! Fuck me!”
And he chuckled softly. “Good answer. And I will not spare the rod for fear of spoiling the student.”
He crushed his fingers around me and squeezed.
And there was no more talking.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Kiernan Kelly ~ Sex and Laughter

Kiernan Kelly is a prolific author with her own unique twist to her writing.


A Brief Introduction

I'd first like to thank Jeanne for the opportunity to participate on the Sweet Flag blog! That said, I suppose I should introduce myself.

My name is Kiernan Kelly, and I primarily write gay romance, having been published for the first time over three years ago. I haven't stopped since, and continue to work with several different publishers.

At the present, I have four full novels available, a contemporary romance, Riding Heartbreak Road, two historical romances, In Bear Country, and its sequel, The Barbary Coast, and a paranormal, Seti's Heart. In addition, I have a plethora of short stories and novellas available from Torquere Press, Starbooks Press, Cleis Press, Aspen Mountain Press, Coscom Press, and coming soon, MLR Press, the titles of which can be found at my website,

Inspiration comes from everywhere, at any time. I've been given inspiration from my husband (who gave me the idea for a mummy in Seti's Heart), my kids, my friends, the strange-looking man at the carwash, the front page headlines of a newspaper – even a single word or phrase can catch my attention and send my imagination spiraling out of control.

Although I've written in nearly every genre, from contemporary to shapeshifters, vampires to angels and demons, I seem to have garnered a reputation for extremely odd situations and characters, usually written with a clear tongue-in-cheek flavor. For example, I wrote a short story about a satyr (Satyr-Day Night Fever) who was a porn star and who fell in love with the film's straight assistant director. I had a recent flash fiction piece included for release in Bits of the Dead, which starred a zombie goldfish named Cletus.

Curses are often a common theme in my stories. I've written cursed fairies (Fionn of the Fae series), cursed Egyptian kings (Seti's Heart), and cursed Vikings (A-Viking) and cursed just-about-everything-else. In addition, I've written holiday-themed shorts where I turned Jack Frost into Santa's lover (Just a Touch of Frost), and had Kris Kringle working as a detective in New York investigating a serial killer (The Naughty List).

I've written superheroes whose weakness was having an orgasm a the most inconvenient times(A Dirty Job, in the Unmasked: Erotic Tales of Gay Superheroes), miners doing the horizontal hula six hundred feet underground (Sandhogs, in the anthology Hard Hats), and have even delved into military BDSM (Take it Like a Marine, in the anthology Don't Ask, Don't Tie Me Up).

I'm not entirely sure of why I pick such peculiar themes, except to say that not only do I find the strange and bizarre fascinating, I also have the attention span of a gnat. I couldn't stick to a genre without a hefty dollop of super glue.

Truthfully, as a reader, I've always enjoyed reading diverse subject matter. I love horror, romance, historicals, sci-fi, and fantasy. Everything from Stephen King to JRR Tolkien has found its way to my bookshelf, so I never felt the inclination to stay within one theme when writing.

Humor feels almost as good as sex to me, so it's only natural for me to combine the two often in my writings. Some folks don't believe there's room for humor in erotic romance, but I respectfully disagree. I'm human - I like to laugh, I like to have sex, and sometimes I like to do both at the same time. J

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Musical Period Pieces

When I researched The Sweet Flag I often fell back on my knowledge of and training in music. The music mentioned in the story were not only time appropriate, but were selected to subtly reinforce the themes of the story.
Set up: Jacques Offenbach was of German-Jewish origin and one of the most feted composers of operettas during the 1850s and 60s. I was fortunate to perform in his last great opera, The Tales of Hoffmann. The farce mentioned in this excerpt is one of Offenbach's most well-known works, Orpheus in the Underworld, with libretto by Ludovic Halévy, librettist of the opera, Carmen. In this first excerpt, Ron tells Brandon of what transpired when Clermont, deMonde's former lover, brings news of the new operetta to Matthew and deMonde.
First Excerpt:
“One day, Clermont brought the latest rumor to them. He always knew what was going on in the musical community and shared every bit of gossip. He had great news. Offenbach was mounting a new production. A madcap retelling of Orpheus and Eurydice. Matthew and deMonde greeted his information with mixed feelings, both of them recalling the night they’d met, when Matthew compared deMonde’s voice to Orpheus.” Ron paused. “Was it fate that this farce should drive a wedge between them?
“The next time he visited, Clermont brought the sheet music with him. They went through the parts, singing the female roles in falsetto and bringing Matthew to tears of laughter. But when they sang the male arias, he quieted. The vocal part of Jupiter was for a baritone. It was perfect for deMonde’s voice. Clermont noticed how quiet Matthew had become while deMonde read the music and damned himself for a fool. He loved the two of them, had not one jealous bone in his body. He wished them to remain as they were ‑‑ the epitome of romantic love in his eyes. And now, he had become the snake in their little Garden of Eden.”
I butted in. “And they knew this how?”
Ron sighed. “Wait. You’ll see later.” He sipped some more of the tonic and leaned back against the couch, sliding closer to me and playing with my hand. He brought my palm to his mouth, and I waited for his kiss.

When I needed a dramatic piece of music supposedly performed by deMonde, I chose to use the musical/operetta written by Jerome Kern for several reasons. First and foremost was the music, of course. Considered by many to be among the most powerful and the first true piece of American musical theater, Showboat shocked many contemporary audiences in 1927, because of the story's non-too subtle message against prejudice. The character of Julie La Verne is a mulatto passing as white, illegally married to a white man. When they are about to be arrested for the crime of miscegenation, he cuts her hand and swallows some of her blood, thus giving him one drop of "colored" blood, making him a mulatto, too. How could I not select this musical? As a personal note, all the talented people involved with this work - the book, the music, the libretto, even the producer - were all Jewish.
Set up:

While Brandon waits for Ron to prepare some food, Ron puts on a special recording for Brandon to listen to.
Second Excerpt:

“Don’t strain yourself, mon ami. The key is not there. If you’re looking for a way out, try the front door.”
Shit, that bastard moved like a ghost.
I turned around and faced him. Like myself, he was barefoot and shirtless. His jeans were still unbuttoned, and the fly partially zipped. He shook his head, zipped up his fly, and buttoned his jeans while I stammered like a choirboy caught sucking the choirmaster’s cock.
“I was looking for some food. There’s bloody nothing to eat in the fridge.”
He laughed without mirth.
“And so you thought to find something in the desk or the basement?”
He’d seen me from the minute I’d gone back into the parlor.
Why the hell hadn’t I seen him?
“Silent?” He shook his head and tsked. “If you had checked the cupboards more carefully, you would have found tuna fish and instant coffee. In the freezer are some steaks.” He sighed. “I haven’t had a chance to shop for a while.”
I didn’t buy his explanation ‑‑ who could resist cooking in a kitchen like that? ‑‑ but I couldn’t think of a better one. I wondered if tuna, coffee, and steak would be the only things I’d find if I looked.
“I’ll open the tuna, and you can have some with bread. I’ll put the kettle on for the coffee. I’m sorry I have no milk. The last of it turned sour, and I dumped it.” He went over to the antique Victrola and unlocked the cabinet, chose a recording, and placed it on the turntable. “While I prepare the food, why don’t you sit back and enjoy some music.” He stood there for a moment, his eyes shut, listening in delight, then opened his eyes and walked without another word into the kitchen.
The tinny sound couldn’t completely disguise the quality of the baritone voice issuing from the speaker.
I recognized the song ‑‑ Jerome Kern’s “Old Man River” from Showboat. A former lover had been a dinner theater waiter. Three months of heartburn and four operettas and musicals, but I did develop an interest in classic American shows. The period of history in which Showboat was set was fascinating, and the story was a cut above anything before it.
I recognized incredible singing when I heard it. The performance was done as a solo with piano and included an introduction and arrangement I’d never heard before. The recording came to an end, and I went over and lifted the needle from the record while the disk continued to revolve silently.
“Did you enjoy the song?” Ron’s voice drifted back to me. I heard the kettle whistle, and then he came into the room, carrying a tray with the tuna fish artfully arranged on a bed of lettuce on a china plate, a chunk of bread, some butter, the carafe of amber liquid and a glass. The copper kettle sat on a trivet with a jar of instant coffee and a single mug. He set the tray down on the hassock and gestured for me to join him. He poured a glass of tonic for himself and sipped it before speaking again.
“You didn’t answer me. Did you like the performance?”
“The guy has a great voice. Who’s the singer? There was no label on the record. I’ve only heard modern recordings of the show.”
“Yeah, right. Do you think I’m an idiot? Showboat was written in the nineteen twenties, assuming deMonde was still alive, he would have been in his nineties!”
Ron laughed. “Of course he would have been in his nineties. I just wanted to tease you. Eat.” He leered and twirled an imaginary handlebar mustache. “You’ll need the strength when I have my wicked way with you.”
“Join me, m’dear,” I retorted in my best imitation of Snidely Whiplash. “We’ll both need all our strength.”
But he didn’t join me. He watched me eat and urged me to share his drink with him, holding the glass to my mouth and doling out the liquid between the two of us. And when the glass was empty, he set it aside, leaned back against the arm of the couch, and watched me expectantly as my eyes traveled the length of his body.
The dark swirl of hair on his chest arrowed to his waistband, and I knew exactly where it led.
He narrowed his gaze while I reached out and unbuttoned the jeans’ brass fastener and pulled down his fly. His penis nestled in the dark curls, thick and heavy and already semi-erect.
“What are you waiting for? I can smell your arousal.” His voice was calm.
It pissed me off until I dragged my eyes from his erection and looked up at his face. His nostrils flared, and his mouth was a slash in his face.
I smiled.
“I can’t smell yours. I’ll have to get closer.”
I lowered my face until my breath moved the fine curls of his bush. Taking my time, I licked him from base to tip.
He groaned.
I spread his pants open wider, and he lifted up as I pulled the denim down below his buttocks, leaving his legs restrained. His dick was hard; a drop of precum glistened on the crown. My mouth still hovered by his groin as I breathed in his scent. He’d moved his legs until they were half off the couch, his knees nudging mine, and I could feel them trembling ‑‑ my knees and his.
“What are you waiting for? Merde, what are you waiting for?” There was desperation and need in his voice.
Just what I was waiting for.

JM Snyder :: Other speculative fiction

Other speculative fiction
When Jeanne first asked me to participate at her blog, I didn't think I would have much to contribute because I don't consider myself an author of paranormal stories. However, I do write a lot of speculative fiction. My first stories with most all of my publishers were spec fic:

  • Operation Starseed (iUniverse) is a sci-fi novel in which a team of star-mappers discover a lost colony ship.
  • Trin (Aspen Mountain Press) is set in a dystopic future where one young man longs to meet the run-gunner of his dreams.
  • Persistence of Memory (Amber Allure Press), also set in a dystopic future, has one man scrambling to recover memories the government took away.
  • World Enough and Time (Torquere Press), again with the dystopic future, only this time the world is on the brink of destruction.
Sense a theme?

Seriously though, I have more spec fic in my resume than most authors who also write contemporary fiction. There's a story about merrows, which are Celtic mermaids (in my case, mermen), a tale about a man who uses virtual reality to create a lover more real than he knows, and a whole series about Vic and Matt, my 'superhero' characters, whose lovemaking imbues Vic with comic book powers. The positions in which they have sex help determine which powers Vic will get. I'm finishing up a 12-part series with these characters, entitled The Positions of Love, and a paperback collection of all twelve stories should be released in December (Amber Allure Press).

For more information on all my writing, please visit my website at There are free stories and book excerpts for you to enjoy. I also have a separate page set up for Vic and Matt, at

Thank you, Jeanne, for having me here! And thank you everyone who commented! E-mail me at for a prize :)

Werecats and the American Civil War


I am J.M. Snyder, author of gay erotic/romantic fiction. I began self-publishing with iUniverse in 2002 and while I still enjoy the amount of control I retain when publishing my own books (which I do infrequently through Lulu Press), I now work with Amber Allure, Aspen Mountain, and Torquere Presses. My short fiction has appeared online at Ruthie's Club, Tit-Elation, and Amazon Shorts, as well as in anthologies released by Aspen Mountain Press, Cleis Press, and Alyson Books.

I will keep this post at the top of the page while I'm chatting here. Scroll down to read the latest entries!

Between States
Today I'd like to talk a bit about my e-book series, Between States, which is about shapeshifters. Currently there are two stories available in the series: Under a Confederate Moon and Beneath a Yankee Sky, both published by Amber Allure Press.

If the titles of the first two don't clue you in, the stories are set during the American Civil War. Caleb Chilson is a soldier in the Confederate army (for those who may not know, that means he fights for the South). Brance Brenneman is a Union soldier, fighting for the North. Once a month for a few days while the moon is full, they shift into bobcats and spend their nights hunting in the woods. By morning, they return to human form and rejoin their respective armies.

In the first book, Under a Confederate Moon, told from Caleb's point of view, the two meet in shifted form. Brance is wounded, and Caleb has never met another like himself. After assisting the older bobcat with his injury, Caleb refuses to leave him, though when morning comes, he realizes they fight on opposing sides. When he returns to his unit, Caleb is brought before his commanding officer on charges of desertion. To save himself, he blurts out the location of the Yankee camp. Fighting ensues, and Caleb must decide what matters more to him ~ the war raging between humans or the undeniable attraction he feels for a fellow shifter.

In the second book, Beneath a Yankee Sky, readers get an inside look at the elusive Brance. The son of an Amish preacher, Brance knew the simple life on a Pennsylvanian farm wasn't for him and he left home at an early age. By the time this story opens, he and Caleb have deserted the War Between the States, choosing to forge their own path together. However, trappers in the woods threaten their safety, and when the hunters see the two shift into bobcat form, Brance knows they're in trouble. A cleverly placed trap snares Caleb, and Brance must fight to protect the life ~ and the man ~ he's come to love.

Coming up
Later this fall, a third story will be released, entitled A More Perfect Union, and in early January 2009, a paperback collection of all three stories will be available, entitled Between States. Both will be published by Amber Allure Press.

Thanks for taking the time to read my posts, and thank you, Jeanne, for having me here today! I'll post two excerpts later in the day, one from each book in the Between States series, and will be giving away a copy of both e-books to one lucky winner who comments on any of my entries.

JM Snyder :: Under a Confederate Moon

Book 1 of the Between States series

Bitten as a teen, Caleb now suffers through a painful transformation from human to bobcat a few days each month. As a bobcat, he leaves behind his camp and fellow soldiers to explore the night. But a gunshot and the bright scent of fresh blood draws him to a clearing where he learns that he isn't the only one of his kind.

Wounded and hurt, Brance is a loner by nature, gruff and grumbling, who doesn't want anything to do with Caleb ... at first. The younger bobcat prevails, and starts to win Brance over, until they turn human again and find themselves on opposite sides of the American Civil War.

Publisher: Amber Quill Press (July 2007)
ISBN: 978-1-60272-075-6


The scent of man enveloped him. Each tree he sniffed, each branch, each bush, carried the smell of humans and their artillery. Dried blood and disease mingled with the smell, painful scents Caleb didn't like. The shirt on his back only confused his sense of smell, but once the camp was behind him, he took a moment to wiggle out of the torn material. He sniffed it, curious, then left it among the leaves as he hurried away, the growl still tickling the back of his throat. The sound warned anything away from his vicinity, and helped keep his mind off his churning stomach, or the bloodlust that filled his veins.

On four padded feet, Caleb crept through the forest as silently as a house cat stalking its prey. He hunted half-heartedly, not quite ready to sate his appetite and call it a night. At some point he scared up a large hare, coming onto it from downwind, but the creature caught his scent moments before he pounced and darted just beyond his powerful jaws to disappear into a hole too narrow and deep to dig in for long. Abandoning the prey, Caleb kept moving, always keeping the men and their smoke-filled camp at his back. He heard no more gunshots, and felt no urgency to hurry through the night.

Around him, the woods were alive in a way the human in him would never see. Small rodents raced over the forest floor, skittering through the moss and lichen, raising whiffs of fresh meat in their wake. Occasionally one would catch Caleb's attention and he'd give chase, toying with the frightened mouse until it disappeared into a crevice of tree roots too small for his paw to fit through. He caught a couple, nothing large, and let each one go after playing a bit. He wanted something larger, something worth the effort of a kill. Something ...

Off in the distance, along in the direction he was heading, he heard a gunshot. He stopped, ears trained on the sound, his whole body rigid and tense. Men, he thought, the word anathema to him in his current state. He waited for another sound, a second shot maybe, or raucous laughter in the night, but nothing seemed to follow. The tip of his tail twitched, waiting.

Then a volley of shots rang out, three, maybe four, all at once. Caleb dropped into a crouch and heard a wounded yelp cry out, a primal sound that tugged at his instinct. Another cat, he knew—a large one, by the sound of it. That damned growl of his started up again, and he sniffed the air, trying to smell powder or blood, but nothing came to him on the wind.

Could be Yanks, the still-human part of his mind whispered. Sensing an unprecedented opportunity, Caleb sat down on his haunches and licked one forepaw as he mulled over his options. Race ahead, get shot like the other cat. Or no, sneak in and sneak out, but learn enough of the enemy camp to bring back to his commanding officer in the morning. Major Pennock would want to know how he came about the information, but if they ambushed the Yanks, would it matter how he knew?

With a decisive flick of his tail, Caleb leapt away. On strong legs, with sure strides, he ran through the forest, dodging undergrowth, vaulting over fallen logs and large stones, climbing low trees to jump from their quivering branches when it suited him. The wind raced him, whipping around his ears and flaring his nostrils. His fangs were bared to the night, allowing him to catch the faintest of odors. Before long he found the scent of man again, and gun smoke, and blood.

He skidded to a halt. Like a knife, the blood pierced his mind and stirred his senses. Nosing around, he found a drop of dark lifeblood on a deadfall, still warm. His tongue licked out, and the taste of copper filled his mouth. A heavy scent like wet fur clung to the wood. Picking his way carefully over the rotten limbs, Caleb climbed the deadfall and, on the other side of the forest floor, found another bright patch of blood, a clump of fur clinging stubbornly to the edges of a paw print. Another bobcat, just as he'd thought. Wounded.

He wouldn't get far.

With his animal senses, Caleb could easily discern the cat's path through the woods -- here the grass bent in a certain direction, there a few branches were snapped as if pointing the way. Caleb padded on, cautious. Every now and then he paused to sniff around. The trail led to a thicket of tall grass, tamped down in the center. As Caleb approached, he heard a low growl issue from the grass in warning.

He sat back. Cocked his head to one side. Ventured another step and received a breathy hiss as a reward. In the darkness he could see two golden cat's eyes staring back at him. A guttural voice spoke in his mind. Another step and you die.

Under a Confederate Moon
E-Book Price: $4.00
Buy from Amber QuillBuy from Fictionwise

JM Snyder :: Beneath a Yankee Sky

Book 2 of the Between States series

Brance Brenneman is used to harsh conditions -- the eldest son of a stern Amish preacher, Brance was bit by a werecat as a young boy, and managed to keep his secret from his family until he was old enough to leave them and their religion behind. Years later, when the nation is divided by the American Civil War, Brance finds himself enlisted in the Union army. By sheer chance, he meets Caleb Chilson, a Confederate soldier who bears his same shapeshifting burden.

Together they leave the war behind to forge a new life in the wilderness of Pennsylvania. But trappers near their camp are hunting bobcats, and they don't much care if Brance and Caleb are only in the fur part of the time. Brance finds his peaceful existence shattered, and he has to fight to defend the life -- and the bobcat, the man -- he's come to love.

Publisher: Amber Quill Press (September 2007)
ISBN: 978-1-60272-027-5


Caleb nodded against Brance's back and stood, then leaned down to whisper, "I still want that fuck."

"Later," Brance conceded.

Behind him Caleb stretched again. Brance risked a quick glance up and saw a glorious sight -- his lover's balls nestled in fuzzy hair, and the tip of his dick pointing down at Brance like a single sightless eye winking in temptation. If it weren't so late, and the change so imminent ... if only they had world enough and time ...

A foot nudged the small of Brance's back. "I see you looking," Caleb said again. "Two minutes, I'm telling you ..."

Sudden discomfort flickered across Caleb's face as one hand clutched his lower belly. "God," he gasped, a look of sickness on his young face. Turning on his heel, he raced for a low thicket nearby. Brance heard him retch as he disappeared into the underbrush.

It was nothing more than the moon on the rise but when Caleb cried out in pain, Brance stood and half-turned to follow his lover into the trees before a cramp in his own stomach doubled him over. Clutching his abdomen, Brance fell, breathless, to the ground. His skin began to burn, as if flames lapped his body -- pain slashed through him, radiating from his belly up through his chest, shooting down both legs, crippling his arms. In the cataclysm of change, his joints popped as his bones crunched down, reshaping themselves into a familiar feline form. Burnished hair erupted over the back of his hands, along his legs. As he writhed on the ground, his fingers fumbled to unbutton his shirt. His breath came hoarse and close, ragged to his own ears. Over the sound he heard the brook muttering to itself and, beyond that, Caleb's quiet sobs.

With nerveless fingers, Brance managed to extract himself from the shirt. His hands changed as he struggled to undress -- his nails lengthening, curving, sharpening; his fingers retreating into padded paws. The last vestiges of humanity fell away as he kicked off his underpants -- the legs that slipped from the shorts drew up to Brance's body, feet dissolving into paws, ankles straightening, knees bending back as his thighs reformed into haunches.

Around him, the night came alive with sights and smells and sounds the human he had been could not appreciate. Brance lay on his side, panting, as he allowed himself to remember the feel of this body, its weight and power, the strength now flowing through his veins. The thrashing in Caleb's thicket had stopped, as well. The stench of man filled the clearing but Brance recognized it as his own scent, mingled so heavily with his lover's that the two became one.

A sudden roar split the night. It flashed like lightning through Brance, igniting his blood. As he rolled into a sitting position, the trees nearby shook -- he watched a bobcat trot from the thicket, amber eyes trained on Brance's face. Before he could react, the cat came right for him without hesitation. Its cold nose wrinkled as it sniffed over Brance's forehead -- he closed his eyes, waiting.

Then a choppy purr filled the night air, and the bobcat butted its head against Brance's. What about now? the other cat mused. It turned, raising its short tail into the air to expose its anus. A heady scent blossomed between them, a randy, wild smell that eclipsed all others and made Brance's claws knead the soft dirt beneath him, eager. Caleb's voice spoke into Brance's feline brain. Will you fuck me now?

Beneath a Yankee Sky
E-Book Price: $4.00
Buy from Amber QuillBuy from Fictionwise

JM Snyder :: Why Bobcats?

Why bobcats?
The most common question I get about my Between States series is, why bobcats? My tongue-in-cheek response is, why not?

The first thought that comes to mind when you say 'shapeshifter' is werewolf and, in my opinion, they're just a little overdone. I've written the obligatory werewolf story myself (it's entitled "One of Us" and appears in my short story collection, Shorts), but when I first came up with the idea for the Between States stories, I wanted something different. Something that would stand out. The first story was written with the original intention of submitting it to shifter anthology (which I decided against, in the end), and I knew every other story in the slush pile would be werewolves. I needed something all my own.

To be honest, I'm not much of a dog person and have never been "into" wolves. I have, however, always been owned by at least one cat (at the moment, two very spoiled kitties take care of me, Jelly and Jono, who have shared my life for the past twelve years). I know feline behavior intimately ~ I'm the first person called whenever a cat expert is needed among my family and friends. I know the way they act, the way they play, the way they move ... I know their purr, their meow, their walk. The flick of their tail when they're pissed, the flattening of their ears when they're mad, the head bump and rub when they're pleased.

In short, I know cats. And if I wanted my characters to feel real to the reader, in both human and shifted form, then I would need to play on my strengths and write what I know. You always hear that, "Write what you know," from writing instructors and books and magazines, and I've heard a lot of argument from people who write spec fic (fantasy, sci-fi, horror) who say they can't write what they know because magic doesn't exist, or elves aren't real, or vampires are only works of fiction. Maybe so, but there are elements you do know, which you can write about with authority, and which will make your writing stronger and your story believable. In my case, here, I wrote about cats.

I picked bobcats for several reasons. One, they're felines, of course. Two, they're very prevalent in the United States, specifically in the woods of the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania, where these stories take place. They're also known as lynxes, FYI. And finally, a full-grown bobcat can be large enough to shift back into a human.

This last point was very important to me. Some authors of shapeshifting fiction don't think about the logistics of shifting. A human has a certain amount of body mass which just doesn't disappear if/when they shift into another form. Or rather, wouldn't, assuming this were something that could really happen. All the bones, the muscles, the sheer weight of a human male has to go somewhere, don't you think? To me, a bobcat solved that problem nicely, being a creature which could conceivably contain that body mass without looking grotesquely over-sized for its species.

Maybe I'm too anal in my approach, but even with spec fic, I like it to ring true.

JM Snyder :: Why the Civil War?

Why the Civil War?

The next thing people want to know is, why did I set the stories during the Civil War?

Well, this originally gets back to the anthology I planned to submit the first story to ~ it was a collection of historical shifter stories, so I needed to set these cats in a time period not my own. The Civil War was a natural choice for me, simply because I was raised in Virginia, where the history is still very much alive. We don't have history classes in middle school; we have Virginia History. Our capital city of Richmond, where I currently live, was once the seat of the Confederacy. We have statues of Civil War heroes all over town; we have museums and battlefields and earthworks, historical markers lining our roads and highways, whole sections of our cemeteries dedicated to those who died fighting the War of Northern Aggression, as some people call it around here.

I definitely consider myself a Civil War buff. Military history intrigues me, particularly that pertaining to American forces. I'm not pro-war by any means, don't get me wrong, but I am very much in awe of the courage it takes average citizens to take up arms to fight for my freedom. I know I can write the stories I write only because someone somewhere died for my right to say what I want. I am very grateful to those men and women who have given up their lives so I could live mine.

The period of the Civil War is very romantic to me. Not the war itself, because wars are brutal and bloody and destructive. But the time period of the 1860's appeals to my sense of romanticism and nostalgia. It's a simpler time, before big business came into the farmland and took over the country. A time when things like honor and love mattered above all else, or so it seems to me. Add to that a land divided in the midst of battle, fighting amongst itself, and you get a turbulent, exhilarating time to be alive. A time when the only choices available were do or die. A time much more volatile than the staid life in which I live, a time more exciting, more daring. How could you not want to capture some essence of that, to savor a life lived on the edge, when all you've known is the comfort and quiet of today's society?

Given my predilection for all things pre-1900's, I didn't have to do much research for these stories at all. I already know Civil War history better than the average person; I've probably forgotten more names and dates of battle than most school kids learn nowadays. I have a few research books to help with the words and phrasing used in everyday life during the 1800's, but that was the extent of the research I had to undertake. These stories flowed from me like a river, each word tumbling over the last in its haste to get down on paper.