GUEST POST: World building with Ann Gimpel

Creating a Setting for Your Characters Otherwise Known as Worldbuilding

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Thanks so much for inviting me and my first two Dragon Lore books to your blog! I appreciate the compliment.

I’d love to say I use the same process for every book I write, but I don’t. Many of my books begin with an image, or series of images, that form the basis for the book. I occasionally begin with an empty world, and it tells me what kind of characters it needs. I’m more likely to begin with a character and form a world around them, though.

The Dragon Lore series began a big differently. I wrote To Love a Highland Dragon two years ago, and the first thing that came to me was the image in Chapter One of a dragon shifter wakening in his cave deep beneath Inverness after being ensorcelled for over three hundred years. Elements I built specifically for that book were dragon shifters including how the bond worked and what magic it conferred. I had to figure out how to weave time travel in as well. I actually wrote the prequel after books one and two were complete. And I wrote Dragon’s Dare at the end—just where it should be since it’s the last book.

As the series progressed, I added dragon society to the mix. Interestingly, Dragon Maid, the book after To Love A Highland Dragon, began with another male dragon shifter and it just didn’t feel right. Enter Britta—and her dragon. Once I had the proper main character, the rest of the book flowed from there.

One of the things I love about urban fantasy, as opposed to high fantasy, is it’s set in the “real” world. No odd names for things. No triple moons transiting the sky. My favorite urban fantasies feel so real, they could actually happen. That hunk living next door could be a closet Celtic god, who’s really been alive for millennia. Or a mountain lion shifter jetting off to Europe to track a dangerous adversary. That being said, even urban fantasy needs magic systems that are consistent. Nothing annoys me more than characters who can do everything as an author lurches from one convenient plot twist to the next.

The Dragon Lore books actually combine high fantasy with urban fantasy. When I created a dragon society, they needed their own world. And they got it. A world of heat and volcanoes and lava flows just beyond the edge of time.

Let me tell you a secret. I’m wretchedly old-fashioned. We lost something when our lives got very easy. There’s not much challenge left anymore, unless we create it. That’s why I’ve had a lifelong love affair with traveling the backcountry with a pack, where I have to rely on my wits. I’ve been cold, lost, and out of food, but I feel ever so much more alive when I get back to civilization.

I give my characters similar challenges. They need wits, creativity, and courage to survive to the next chapter, let alone make it to the end of the book. That their worlds hold tests and trials ups the ante.

How about the rest of you authors out there. Do you create characters first, or worlds? Or do they come to you as a unit that refuses to be separated?


Highland Secrets

A Dragon Lore Prequel

Ann Gimpel

Release Date: 9/08/15

Genre: Paranormal romance

Tumble off reality’s edge into myth, magic, and Scottish dragon shifters

Furious and weary, Angus Shea wants out, but no matter how he feels, he can’t stop the magic powering his visions. The Celts kidnapped him when he wasn’t much more than a boy and forced him to do their bidding. He’s sick of them and their endless assignments, but they wiped his memories, and he has no idea where he came from.

Dragon shifters are disappearing from the Scottish Highlands, and the Celtic Council sends Angus to investigate. He meets up with Arianrhod, legendary virgin huntress from Celtic myth, in Fire Mountain, the dragons’ home world.

Arianrhod prefers to work alone, mostly because she harbors a dirty little secret and guards her privacy for the best of reasons. She’s not exactly a virgin, and she’d be laughed out of the Pantheon if the truth surfaced. Despite the complications of leading a double life, she’s never found a lover who tempted her to walk away from her fellow Celtic gods.

Attraction ignites, hot and so urgent Arianrhod’s carefully balanced life teeters on the brink of discovery. Angus is everything she’s ever wanted, but he’s far too close to her Celtic kin to keep her secret safe. Angus wants her too, but she’s a Celt. He’s hated them forever, and she’s part of everything he’s lain awake nights plotting to escape from.

Can they risk everything?

Will they?

If they do, can they live with the consequences?


EXCERPT

…Excitement thrummed through her, and she considered how to proceed once she arrived at Fire Mountain. Mayhap she could pretend she was interested in pairing with a dragon. She narrowed her eyes and chewed thoughtfully on her lower lip. Should she join with Angus and the dragon, Eletea? Or pretend she knew nothing about them. If she chose to masquerade as a wannabe dragon shifter, would the Ancient Ones believe her?

“Why would they?” she muttered. “I haven’t shown the slightest interest in anything dragon-related since the dawn of time.” Perhaps she could tell them she was bored, that her life lacked meaning, purpose. All true. Immortality held a big downside, particularly since somewhere along the line, she’d fashioned herself as the virgin huntress.

Arianrhod rolled her mental eyes. Why the hell had she thought that was a good idea when Danu suggested it? At the time, she’d hoped to escape Bran’s attentions, but she hadn’t planned on a millennia tossing and turning in an empty bed. The god of prophecy—Bran—was as big a pain in the ass as he’d always been, but at least he had a cock…

She winced. It had taken stealth and cunning to maintain her artfully crafted persona and still have a sex life. Nothing frequent enough to draw attention, but she’d lain with an amazing coal black dragon. He’d worried his kin would shun him if their affair were discovered, but it hadn’t made a dent in his hunger for her.

Nothing quite like the forbidden to fan those flames…

Truth smacked her between the eyes. Loneliness and lust were why she’d volunteered so readily to make the trek to Fire Mountain. And why she’d sidestepped Gwydion. The last thing she needed was a witness if she stumbled onto Keene—or another likely candidate. Dragons lived forever. Perhaps Keene might be interested in another fling—for old time’s sake if nothing else.

Usually she stopped herself from thinking about her past and what she wished she’d done differently, but she couldn’t shut off her thoughts. If she’d had children, real children, it would’ve made such a difference.

The two sons she’d conceived magically were odd. But how could they have been aught else? She’d been forced to jump over a magical rod to prove she was a virgin, and twin sons were the result. Dylan sank into obscurity, retreating to the seas when the strain of day-to-day life without enough power to light a candle became too much to bear. Lleu would’ve left as well, but Gwydion subverted every single one of Lleu’s escape plans as he grew to manhood. Lleu blamed her for Gwydion’s meddling, and she hadn’t laid eyes on him for a very long time. She suspected Gwydion hadn’t, either.

Her empty life mocked her, but she was damned if she could figure out what to do to change it. It wasn’t as if she could march up to Ceridwen and the others, clear her throat, and say, “Sorry, but I’m sick of being a Celtic god. Think I’ll be a mortal for a while. And hey, if that doesn’t please you, I’ll take to my owl form and be done with the lot of you.”

“Oberon’s balls!” She crashed one fist into an open hand, taking care not to jostle the traveling portal. “I have to pull my head out of my ass. Ceridwen handed me a fascinating problem. I need to focus on it. No dragon fucking. No diversions. Go in. Put my head down. Get the job done.”

Nice lecture, but can I do it?

Arianrhod stroked the shiny bow draped over her shoulder. It was a work of art. She’d made it herself from yew wood, not cutting any corners, so it took months for the wood to shape and cure. She twisted her mouth into a wry smile. The huntress part of her title was fine. It fit, and she enjoyed the cunning, planning, and forethought it took to outsmart prey. If she was sick of the pretend-to-be-a-virgin part, who could blame her?

The rhythm of her traveling tube shifted. Arianrhod glanced at a node to check her location and understood her journey would be over soon. She rotated her shoulders to relax and ready herself, thought about her virgin huntress title once more, and laughed.

“The virgin part may grate, but I adore being a huntress. Fifty percent isn’t bad,” she told the gray-pink walls as they shuddered to a stop. “Most people don’t even get that.”


To Love A Highland Dragon

Dragon Lore

Book One

Ann Gimpel

Release Date: 9/22/15

Genre: Paranormal romance

Tumble off reality’s edge into myth, magic, and Scottish dragon shifters

A dragon shifter stirs and wakens in a cave beneath Inverness, deep in the Scottish Highlands. The cave’s the same and his hoard intact, yet something’s badly amiss. Determined to set whatever’s gone wrong to rights, Lachlan Moncrieffe ventures above ground—and wishes he hadn’t. His castle’s gone, replaced by ungainly row houses. Men aren’t wearing plaids, and women scarcely wear anything at all, particularly the woman who accosts him with unseemly banter. What manner of wench is she to dress so provocatively?

In Inverness for a year on a psychiatry fellowship, Dr. Maggie Hibbins watches an oddly dressed man pick his way out of a heather and gorse thicket. Even though it runs counter to her better judgment, she teases him about his strange attire. He looks so lost—and so unbelievably, knock-out gorgeous —she takes a chance and stands him a meal. Lachlan’s shock when he picks up a local newspaper at a pub is so palpable, Maggie jumps in with both feet.

She knew something was off, but the hard-to-accept truth bashes gaping holes in her equilibrium. He looks odd, sounds odd, acts odd because he’s a refugee from another era. Her half-baked seduction scheme takes a hike, but her carefully constructed life is still about to change forever. Born of powerful witches, Maggie runs headlong into the myth and magic that are her birthright.


EXCERPT

… He detached the last thorn, finally clear of the thicket of sticker bushes. Where could he find a market with vendors? Did market day still exist in this strange environment?

“Holy crap! A kilt, and an old-fashioned one at that. Tad bit early in the day for a costume ball, isn’t it?” A rich female voice laced with amusement sounded behind him.

Lachlan spun, hands raised to call magic. He stopped dead once his gaze settled on a lass nearly as tall as himself, which meant she was close to six feet. She turned so she faced him squarely. Bare legs emerged from torn fabric that stopped just south of her female parts. Full breasts strained against scraps of material attached to strings tied around her neck and back. Her feet were encased in a few straps of leather. Long, blonde hair eddied around her, the color of sheaves of summer wheat.

His cock jumped to attention. He itched to make a grab for her breasts or her ass. She had an amazing ass: round and high and tight. What was expected of him? The lass was dressed in such a way as to invite him to simply tear what passed for breeks aside and enter her. Had times changed so drastically that women provoked men into public sex? He glanced about, half expecting to see couples having it off with one another willy-nilly.

“Well,” she urged. “Cat got your tongue?” She placed her hands on her hips. The motion stretched the tiny bits of flowered fabric that barely covered her nipples still further.

Lachlan bowed formally. He straightened and waited for her to hold out a hand for him to kiss. “I’m Lachlan Moncrieffe, my lady. ’Tis a pleasure to—”

She erupted into laughter—and didn’t hold out her hand. “I’m Maggie,” she managed between gouts of mirth. “What are you? A throwback to medieval times? You can drop the Sir Galahad routine.”

Lachlan felt his face heat. “I fear I doona understand the cause of your merriment…my lady.”

Maggie rolled midnight blue eyes. “Oh, brother. Did you escape from a mental hospital? Nah, you’d be in pajamas then, not those fancy duds.” She dropped her hands to her sides and started to walk past him.

“No. Wait. Please, wait.” Lachlan cringed at the whining tone in his voice. The dragon was correct that the Moncrieffe was a proud house. They bowed to no one.

She eyed him askance. “What?”

“I’m a stranger in this town.” He winced at the lie. Once upon a time, he’d been master of these lands. Apparently that time had long since passed. “I’m footsore and hungry. Where might I find victuals and ale?”

Her eyes widened. Finely arched blonde brows drew together over a straight nose dotted by a few freckles. “Victuals and ale,” she repeated disbelievingly.

“Aye. Food and drink, in the common vernacular.”

“Oh, I understood you well enough,” Maggie murmured. “Your words, anyway. Your accent’s a bit off.” His stomach growled again, embarrassingly loud. “Guess you weren’t kidding about being hungry.” She eyed him appraisingly. “Do you have any money?”

Money. Too late he thought of the piles of gold coins and priceless gems lying on the floor of Kheladin’s cave. In the world he’d left, his word was as good as his gold. He opened his mouth, but she waved him to silence. “I’ll stand you for a pint and some fish and chips. You can treat me next time.”

He heard her mutter, “Yeah right,” under her breath as she curled a hand around his arm and tugged. “Come on. I have a couple hours, and then I’ve got to go to work. I’m due in at three today.”

Lachlan trotted along next to her. She let go of him like he was a viper when he tried to close a hand over the one she’d laid so casually on his person. He cleared his throat and wondered what he could safely ask that wouldn’t give his secrets away. He could scarcely believe this alien landscape was Scotland, but if he asked what country they were in, or what year it was, she’d think him mad.

Had the black wyvern had used some diabolical dark magic to transport Kheladin’s cave to another locale? Probably not. Even Rhukon wasn’t that powerful.

“In here.” She pointed to a door beneath a flashing sigil.

He gawked at it. One minute it was red, the next blue, the next green, illuminating the word Open. What manner of magic was this?

“Don’t tell me you have temporal lobe epilepsy.” She stared at him. “It’s only a neon sign. It doesn’t bite. Move through the door. There’s food on the other side,” she added slyly.

Feeling like a rube, Lachlan searched for a latch. When he didn’t find one, he pushed his shoulder against the door. It opened, and he held it with a hand so Maggie could enter first. “After you, my lady,” he murmured.

“Stop that.” She spoke into his ear as she went past. “No more my ladies. Got it?”

“Aye. Got it.” He followed her into a low ceilinged room lined with wooden planks. It was the first thing that looked familiar. Parts of it, anyway. Men—kilt-less men—sat at the bar, hefting glasses and chatting. The tables were empty.

“What’ll it be, Mags?” a man with a towel tied around his waist called from behind the bar.

“Couple of pints and two of today’s special. Come to think of it…” She eyed Lachlan so intently it made him squirm. “Make that three of the special.”

“May I inquire just what the special is?” Lachlan asked, thinking he might want to order something different.

Maggie waved a hand at a black board suspended over the bar. “It’s right there. If you can’t read it—”

“Of course, I can read.” He resented the inference he might be uneducated but swallowed back harsh words.

“Excellent. Then move.”

She shoved her body into his in a distressingly familiar way for such a communal location. Not that he wouldn’t have enjoyed the contact if they were alone, and he were free to take advantage of it…

“All the way to the back,” she hissed into his ear. “That way if you slip up, no one will hear.”

He bristled. Lachlan Moncrieffe did not sit in the back of any establishment. He was always given a choice table near the center of things. He opened his mouth to protest but thought better of it.

She scooped an armful of flattened scrolls off the bar before following him to the back of the room. Once there, she dumped them on the table between them. He wanted to ask what they were but decided he should pretend to know. He turned the top sheaf of papers toward him and scanned the close-spaced print. Many of the words were unfamiliar, but what leapt off the page was The Inverness Courier and presumably the current date: June 10, 2012.

His heart thudded in his ears, deafening him with the roar of rushing blood, as he stared at the date.

It had been 1683 when Rhukon chivied him into the dragon’s cave. Three hundred twenty-nine years ago, give or take a month or two. At least he was still in Inverness—for all the good it did him.

“You look as if you just saw a ghost.” Maggie spoke quietly.

“Nay. I’m quite fine. Thank you for inquiring…my, er…” Lachlan shut up. Anything he said was bound to be wrong.

“Good.” She nodded approvingly. “You’re learning.” The bartender slapped two mugs of ale on the scarred wooden table.

“On your tab, Mags?” he asked.

She nodded. “Except you owe me so much, you’ll never catch up.”

Still shell-shocked by the realization hundreds of years had slipped past while he and Kheladin slept, Lachlan took a sip of what turned out to be weak ale. It wasn’t half bad but could’ve stood an infusion of bitters. Because it was easier than thinking about his problems, he puzzled over what Maggie meant about the barkeep owing her so much he’d never catch up. Why would the barkeep owe her? His nostrils flared. She must work for the establishment—probably as a damsel of ill repute from the looks of her. Mayhap, she hadn’t been paid her share of whatever she earned in quite some time.

Protectiveness flared deep inside him. Maggie shouldn’t have to earn her way lying on her back. He’d see to it she had a more seemly position.

Aye, once I find my way around this bizarre new world.

Money wouldn’t be a problem, but changing three-hundred-year-old gold coins into today’s tender might prove challenging. Surely banks existed that could accomplish something like that.

One thing at a time.

“So.” She skewered him with her blue gaze—Norse eyes if he’d ever seen a set—and took a sip from her mug. “What did you see in the newspaper that upset you so much?”

“Nothing.” He tried for an offhand tone.

“Bullshit,” she said succinctly. “I’m a doctor. A psychiatrist. I read people’s faces quite well, and you look as if you’re perilously close to going into shock.”

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ann Gimpel is a national bestselling author. She’s also a clinical psychologist, with a Jungian bent and a vagabond at heart.  Avocations include mountaineering, skiing, wilderness photography and, of course, writing.  A lifelong aficionado of the unusual, she began writing speculative fiction a few years ago. Since then her short fiction has appeared in a number of webzines and anthologies. Her longer books run the gamut from urban fantasy to paranormal romance. She’s published over 30 books to date, with several more planned for 2015 and beyond.

A husband, grown children, grandchildren and three wolf hybrids round out her family.

www.anngimpel.com

http://anngimpel.blogspot.com

http://www.amazon.com/author/anngimpel

http://www.facebook.com/anngimpel.author

@AnnGimpel (for Twitter)

GUEST BLOG: Jonah Bergans on Anonymity Online | BOOK GIVEAWAY

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In the Time Magazine feature “question everything,” (Sept 21st 2015, Pg 66), the question was posed “Should we let ourselves be anonymous online?”  The responders, Ellen Pao  (former CEO of Reddit) indicated “yes,” and Jonathan Taplan, (Director of USC’s Annenberg Innovation Lab)indicated “no.” Their arguments were both sound but as is all too common in news media today, neither was able to provide a satisfying answer. It was a sound byte of a question, a sound byte of a feature and what they were able to provide was little more than a sound byte of an answer—leaving us with the sense that there is no answer—as if all thought is merely opinion. I disagree. There is an answer, but it cannot be found with the question asked. It is too great a topic for a sound byte of a question. It is not a philosophic question—it is not one of life’s imponderables, but rather it is a question of social responsibility and a question with a direct and immediate bearing on liberty and freedom of speech, and the free exchange of ideas that makes any society great.

Pau, being an entrepreneur and having had personal experience with innovative technologies answered “yes,” in favor of anonymity, and citied the personal stories of growth and the benefit of the open communication that often times does result from anonymity. “More voices expressing more ideas with more openness is a wonderful ideal,” Pao says.  She’s right of course—it is. She goes on to indicate that there are dangers, down-sides and the potential for misuse and so on, and she’s right about that too. But it isn’t a matter of personal stories, it’s a social matter. It is matter that effects the whole society—many societies, all of them and then every one of us within that society.

Taplan, an academic, cites Plato: “If we were shielded from the consequences of our actions, how would that change the way we act?” He insists, that as a result of anonymity online, we now know the answer, and he goes on to make some very solid arguments, including the argument that undermines the sense of any potential benefit from anonymity—that oppressive regimes can and likely do trace even anonymous users.  It’s a strong argument—rather, it is a strong response to an argument, and yet it fails to recognize that an oppressive regime is not necessary to silence a voice. A community standard can silence a voice. A commonly held belief can silence a voice. A belief that blacks should not marry whites can silence a voice. A belief that gay men are pedophiles and perverts can silence a voice.

As authors we all share in a long standing professional tradition of anonymity. Many of us use pseudonyms.  Some do this based on the tradition itself, while others use pseudonyms to shelter family and friends from the consequences of publishing what might be construed as controversial in their own local communities. We know that an oppressive regime is not the only reason anonymity is important and even necessary. We have, for the most part, learned the importance of using anonymity to introduce ideas into the public discussion, and those of us who have succumbed to sensationalism have suffered the consequences of doing so. Can you name a single author who supported slavery? Nazism?  No, it is not the anonymity itself that presents a social danger, but what we do with it, that determines its value to ourselves and to our society. Authors have learned to act responsibly even though many of us publish anonymously, and now so must the rest of the people in our society.

“Should we let ourselves be anonymous online? “  It’s a weak question. It’s a question with a faulty premise.  Recently, Facebook has begun banning authors who operate under a pseudonym. These are not authors of hate, but rather targets of hate. It works like this: Authors of LGBT fiction are sought out by the hateful and reported to Facebook for using “a false name.” They are banned. There is no recourse, no appeals process. Their access to what is arguably a public media is simply denied. Their access to their fans, coworkers and editors and to the public itself is eliminated as easily as that. Imagine the delight on those hateful faces as they take down (in their opinion) yet another pervert. Facebook, like a monolith of corporate indifference, does not respond to the emails, the pleas for assistance or even some reasonable accommodation. A voice is silenced. Then another. Then another. Do we “let ourselves” be anonymous? Ask these authors.

No, a better question might be:”What are your rights and responsibilities in a free society?”  We might ask that same question of a monolithic corporation (like Facebook) too. For the same reasons that we must tolerate Klan marches, for the same reason Tenure exists, for the same reason freedom of the press and freedom of speech exists in our country, anonymity online must exist—it must be permitted to exist. It is not a new question or a new argument. We must tolerate the Klan so the NAACP can gather and march—so gay people and all people with a less than majority voice can gather and march. We must have Tenure so a teacher can teach—even those subjects which are unpopular in a local community. We must tolerate the hateful and endure the tiny voices of hate and shame who may also act anonymously, so that the greater louder and enduring voices can speak. Anonymity allows that to happen, not just under oppressive dictators, but right here in America, and right now in our local communities. Maybe the question should have been, “If we silence the hateful, will we silence everyone?”

I am Jonah Bergan.

AboutTheBook

Off-World-Full-Front-CoverTitle: Off World

Author: Jonah Bergan

Publisher: Booktrope Publishing

Cover Artist: Michelle Fairbanks

Length: 240 Pages

Release Date: August 22, 2015

Blurb: What really brought Taine to that backwater little world? Taine’s a hunter. He’s a red-skinned, black-eyed Lowman by nature, and a hunter by trade. Some hunters work in flesh, others in secrets, and some few work to set right what’s been set wrong. It’s a big galaxy and there’s always plenty of work for a hunter like Taine, so you got to wonder, what with all that at his feet, what really brought Taine to that backwater little world?

Off-World is a M/M science fiction action/adventure set in F/M dominated space. The story takes place in an arm of the galaxy where slavery (sexual and otherwise) is legal and commonplace. Strictly speaking, it is not a BDSM novel in that consent is not a matter of concern for the characters, but those with an interest in BDSM should enjoy the story. Due to explicit content, Off-World is not recommended to readers under eighteen years of age.

CommonExcerpt

“You his father?” Taine asked.

“Uncle,” the man said, glancing toward his wife. She looked away, a terse expression on her face. He looked back at Taine, bringing his chin up defiantly. “By marriage,” he said. “I did right by the boy.”

Taine shrugged. It made no difference—these backwater worlds, with their backwater cultures, none of that mattered to him. It was bad enough he had to ride in from the starport on horseback. Bad enough he had to dress the humble part just to avoid offending these rubes. Still, if he’d come blasting into town in his Hover, he’d have found half the doors shut to him, and the other half damned slow to open. Taine was a hunter, a Lowman—a red-skinned and black-eyed alien, and his kind wasn’t welcome everywhere, no matter how much they paid for what they bought. No point in making things worse by flaunting wealth in a place of such poverty.

Taine turned his attention back to the human he was here to inspect. He took a quick inventory of the boy. Pretty face, decent frame, all good starts, but the boy was un-groomed, pale and too lean for his age. Malnourished, Taine thought. Most likely in body and mind both. That might be correctable, might not. Sometimes that kind of damage can’t be undone no matter how much you pay to fix it. Still, the boy looked appealing enough despite the slight frame—long legs, long arms and a pretty face with a halo of wild blond hair like the rays of some golden sun. He’s young, but not under, Taine thought. Taine checked the boy’s teeth, running his finger under the boy’s lips and along the gums. He tugged a tooth or two—still solid.

“How old?” Taine asked.

“Nineteen now,” the boy’s uncle said. “Twenty soon. Been here more’n half that time.”

“Lazy?”

“Hard worker,” the man snapped. “Wouldn’t have lasted otherwise.”

“So why are you selling?”

“Hard times,” the uncle said, “and harder coming.” This brought a scowl from the missus, but she didn’t say a word. She’d had enough of the gambling, and the drinking, and she’d said so often enough that the words seemed to have lost all meaning. If her husband had saved his earnings, instead of squandering them, none of this would have been necessary. When he said, “It’s him or me,” she didn’t argue. After all, it wasn’t an ultimatum, it was simply true. She consoled herself by thinking about the money. It would help them get off-world before the aftermath of the war came upon them like some kind of tidal wave, and swept both of them away from her. Choose one or lose both, bane or burden. It had been an easy choice, at least until now.

Taine slipped his middle finger deep into the boy’s mouth. The boy closed his eyes, and his face blushed red, but he yielded, relaxing his jaw and taking the finger as though it were a cock. Taine moved his finger in and out, fucking the boy’s face, watching him blush and tear up. Taine had good reason for doing it, but he earned a sharp look from the missus anyhow. She nudged her husband and glared at him. He scowled, and turned back toward Taine.

“You buying or not?” he snapped.

“Maybe,” Taine said. “Hard to tell with him all covered up.”

The uncle grunted and stepped forward. He tugged at the waist of the home weave the boy wore. The coarse trousers loosened and then slid down the boy’s long legs. A gentle tug and the shirt came loose in front. The uncle slipped it over the boy’s shoulders and let it fall the floor.

“There,” he said. “No need to make a show of it. Buy, or get out.”

Taine felt the boy’s tongue start moving against his finger. It surprised him, and he drew his finger back, but the boy sucked at it, trying to keep it in him. Taine obliged the boy, sliding it in and out a few more times and smiling as he felt the boy’s tongue bobbing and dancing beneath his finger. The boy wouldn’t speak, wouldn’t make eye contact either. His uncle had taught him that well enough, but the boy doing what he was doing with his tongue spoke volumes. That’s him just about pleading, Taine thought. What must life in this little hell be like, for the boy to yearn for a sale off into the unknown?

Taine leaned forward, drawing in just a taste of the boy from the air around him. He sampled the first scents of the boy’s essence. Sweet, Taine thought. Like honey must taste. It was a thick and golden flavor, and it made Taine smile. That’s all he needed to know to buy any boy—that there was something either savory or sweet in them that was still strong enough to reach the surface. The rest would be up to the trainers—the professionals back at the Temple on Taine’s home-world. But the boy’s dancing tongue sparked Taine’s curiosity, and he wanted to know more.

He reached up with his free hand, taking hold of the boy at the back of the head and began slowly moving his finger in and out. He knew he was humiliating the boy before his family, but Taine closed his eyes, and drove his awareness deeper. There were other ways to open a human. Most of those were forceful, and some were downright violent. The uncle and aunt might not understand, but for a Lowman, this was an act of kindness. It was the gentlest way to break through to the only thing a Lowman truly valued.

Taine pressed his awareness into the boy, moving through the ebb and flow of the boy’s many complex flavors. He was careful not to feed, not to take any of it in. As was so with most humans, the boy was a stormy wash of conflict within. Taine found urges and desires and regrets, a mind in constant turmoil, and rife with fear—predominantly fear. Some of that fear had been earned, and some had been instilled and it lurked in the boy, like shadows in some dark wood. Taine pressed forward beyond all that and went deeper, reaching toward the source of the boy. Taine found his way blocked. It was expected, a barrier—an obstacle to turn him back. It had a scent and a flavor—something akin to the bitterness of burned toast, but its aspect was like a sharp blade bearing a dark stain, it stabbed at him, threatening him and warning him to turn back. Taine instinctively flinched away from it, slipping around and behind it, evading it, and driving himself closer to the wellspring. He found and followed the predominant scents—that of seaweed, dark and rich, and the flavor of saltwater, and he found himself standing on hot sand, feeling the sensations of an empty beach, and the heat of a brilliant and golden sun. It was a rich and delicate feeling, and a smell, and a taste—the smell and taste of sunshine. Yes, Taine thought. That is who he is. Sunshine.

Taine slowly opened his eyes and withdrew his finger. He wondered then, and not for the first time, why humans waste their children so, as though darkening them would brighten the world. Didn’t they know the world would be less hard with fewer hard people in it? It’s not an easy thing to change, it takes some real effort, but didn’t they know it could be changed? Didn’t they know those dark urges could be controlled and even used?

The boy had given him nothing but the idea of burnt toast between him and the seashore. Not much to glean from that, Taine thought. To learn more he’d have to feed, and that wasn’t something he’d be doing, not with an uncultivated and feral human. Still, he was curious.

“You about done?” asked the uncle. The aunt had turned away, and the uncle was glowering.

“Not by a long measure,” Taine said.

The uncle shook his head and waved Taine on. “Just get it over with,” he said.

Taine ran his hands across the boy’s chest and down his flat stomach. The boy’s breathing quickened as Taine fondled his cock, teasing it to life. It responded by thickening and rising, though maybe not as fast as it should. The boy never raised his head, never moved a muscle, he just stood there like Taine had every right to touch and use his body. Taine gave the balls a firm squeeze, and the boy tensed, rising on his toes a little, but he never once raised his arms, never once tried to defend himself. Good submissive spirit, Taine thought, that’ll be important if we’re gonna heal him up.

Taine took the boy by the shoulders and turned him around. He meant to plunge his finger into the boy, just to check for damages, and maybe make the boy’s cock grow up full-sized, but the two cheeks were crossed with welts, some fresh and still white where the switch had marked him recently. Maybe not born to it after all, Taine thought. Maybe all that submission was just beaten into him. No way they nurtured it, no way they cultivated it, not the way the Lowmen would have with such a delicate specimen as this one.

Taine considered the welts across the boy’s ass. There were older ones across his back, a few sores, in-growns and pimples across his shoulders; nothing that couldn’t be tended to, and probably should have been before they offered him. These people had no idea what they were doing, but that wasn’t a surprise either, was it?

Taine would’ve slipped his finger in right then, but by the scent of things they hadn’t cleaned him, so he traced his fingers along the welts on the boy’s ass instead, and then looked up at the uncle.

“Trouble maker?” Taine asked.

“No,” he said. “That’s just from his dailies.”

Taine nodded. “So, what’s your price?”

“Sixty,” the uncle said.

“Waste of time,” Taine said. He snorted and turned for the door.

“Sixty’s fair,” the uncle said, raising his chin. “More’-n-fair.”

“Yeah,” Taine said, “Not for that.”

“Now, don’t be disrespectful,” he said. “The boy’s family after all.”

Taine turned and looked the man squarely in the eyes.

“I’m interested, so you name me a real price and I’ll consider it,” Taine snapped, “but sixty is just plain fantasy.”

The man stepped close. That was a brave act, or maybe just a desperate one. Not many people dared approach a Lowman hunter, not with their alien looks and their reputation for violence. The solid black eyes and all that red flesh intimidated humans—something about their ancient myths. Still, Taine had gone to a great deal of trouble to make himself approachable to these backwaters, and now he wondered if maybe he’d done that a little too well.

“Boy sucks cock good as any,” the uncle said, keeping his voice low, as if keeping it from his wife.”He’s a good earner, and that backside’s got years of action left to it. I wouldn’t be selling if I didn’t need to, and I know you got your own expenses, so you tell me what’s fair.”

“Ten,” Taine said.

The man grimaced.

“Ten and you’re lucky to get it,” Taine said. “He’s nineteen, nearly twenty, easily a year past prime, and by my guess, he’s spent that time squaring up plenty of your debts. You’ve done nothing to develop him. By the time I’m done fixing what you’ve botched, I’ll be lucky to clear a slender profit. So that’s my offer, ten, or I’ll head over to Jenkins Creek where I hear there are a set of twins coming up prime.”

“I can’t take ten,” the man said, shaking his head. “I gotta have fifteen, and that’s a loss for me, Mister. I had him ten years under my roof. Fifteen don’t half cover it, but I’m willin’ to concede some, if you are. So there we are, it’s fifteen, or I’ll wish you a safe trip over to Jenkins Creek.”

Taine reached for the door handle, but hesitated. He thought about Shilandra, and what he had done to her. The memory returned, unbidden and heavy, like betrayal. He still had some of the boy’s scent with him, so he turned and looked back. The boy was standing there just about trembling—his head down, and face red, and his cock still jutting up. Would she even accept this one? He thought.

The boy was as lean a colt as Taine had ever seen, but the flavor of him showed promise. It’d take some work, bringing this one up, but there was something alluring about him—a hint of what might be found in him by skilled hands. He’d already found the boy’s name: Sunshine, and that was no small thing. Making him live up to that name, that’d be some hard work, and some expensive work as well, but if he did, if the boy did live up to that name, he’d be valuable well beyond his family’s reckoning of wealth, and well worth Taine’s time and investment. She’d recognize that at least, Taine thought.She’d see the value in him, wouldn’t she?

“I know I’m going to regret this,” Taine muttered. “You got his papers drawn up?”

“All but the price and date,” the man said smiling.

BuyLinks

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AboutTheAuthor

Jonah Bergan is a freelance writer living in New England. His publishing credits include a ten part serial, multiple short stories, and a collection of anecdotal humor. He has also published MMORPG game reviews and content, hypnosis scripts, online user manuals, and advertising texts. Please visit jonahbergan.com to learn more about him.

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EXCERPT: Blood Slave by Kathleen Collins

The zombie Pomeranian yipped at Nathaniel in between growling and tugging at the leg of his jeans. Juliana pulled her foot back to kick the creature away from her friend and made ready to bring her sword down on it as soon as it was clear.

“Don’t,” Nathaniel protested as he held up a still-clawed hand. “You might hurt it.”

Her brows arched up into her hairline. “That would be the general idea.” The thing growled again and she looked down at it where it was doing its utmost to gnaw a hole through Nathaniel’s jeans. And she wasn’t entirely sure it would stop when it got to skin. I realize you have a particu-lar kinship with all things canine, but it’s gnawing on your leg.”

“Just my jeans.” Now back in fully human form, he bent and disengaged the dog from the denim.

“Easy there, boy. Good dog.” When the Pomeranian continued to express its displeasure with the situation in general and Nathaniel in particular, he lifted the beast above his head, looked at it nose to nose and growled back. Evidently recognizing an alpha even in its altered state, the dog curled in on itself and whimpered before darting its tongue out to lick Nathaniel’s nose. Juliana grimaced. Zombie breath couldn’t be pretty.

“See, he doesn’t mean any harm,” her friend said as he tucked the abomination under one arm. Their scruffy brown hair made them look surprisingly similar.

She blinked at him in disbelief before taking another look at the creature in question. When she bent closer, it growled and she straightened with a huff. “She.”

“What?”

“She. Name tag says Fifi. Last time I checked that was a girl’s name.”

Nathaniel snorted in derision. “Fifi. What a prissy name.”

“Hate to break it to you, partner, but that is a prissy dog. And it smells like mold.”


Blood Slave

Realm Walker Series

Book 3

Kathleen Collins

 

Can she find a killer in a town where the basest desires are allowed to run free?

There are zombies in the Dead Zone and Juliana Norris is sent to take care of the problem. And for there to be zombies, there had to be bodies. When vampires are found to be the culprits, Juliana is sent undercover in the red light district of Kansas City. Lying to her mate, Thomas Kendrick, isn’t something she wants to do, but she’s in another vampire’s territory and Thomas would not be pleased. Besides, she’s more than capable of doing the job and she needs to prove it to everyone. Most of all herself.

Charles Morgan is in control of the Kansas City area, making a rich living off his various enterprises. Juliana goes undercover at the strip club Lust and gets sucked into his dark, decadent world. More victims turn up and the Agency is positive they’ve got their man, but Juliana is not so sure. When the Agency refuses to listen, she reluctantly turns to Thomas for help. He intervenes but finds Juliana unaware of the danger she is in and discovers she may just be too deep for him to save.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kathleen Collins lives and works in Missouri. By day, she labors in the local prosecutor’s office. At night she writes while surrounded by her husband, two boys and two loveable mutts. She is constantly thinking of her next project and loves to connect with her readers. You can fine her most often on Facebook or on her website.

www.Kathleencollins.net

@kathy_collins

www.facebook.com/kathleencollinsauthor

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7191208.Kathleen_Collins

EXCERPT: Put a Ring On It by K. A. Mitchell |

PPutARingOnItLGut a Ring on It

Ready or Knot

Book One

K.A. Mitchell

Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Date of Publication: September 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-63476-380-6 Paperback

ISBN: 978-1-63476-381-3 eBook

Number of pages: 204

Cover Artist: Reese Dante

Kieran Delaney-Schwartz—adoptee, underachiever, and self-professed-slacker IT guy—lives his under-the-radar life by the motto: Don’t try, don’t fail. His adopted siblings are all overachievers thanks to his driven, liberal parents, but Kieran has elected to avoid disappointing anyone by not getting their hopes up. He’s coasting through his early twenties when he’s hit head-on by Theo. The successful decade-older Broadway producer sweeps him off his feet for a whirlwind thirteen months that are pretty sweet, until it all comes screeching to a halt on Valentine’s Day, with an unexpected proposal via an NYC Times Square flash mob. Now everyone wants in on the wedding, except the grooms….


BUY IT HERE

Dreamspinner Press   ARe


EXCERPT

KIERAN’S PHONE buzzed incessantly in his pocket, and he glared at his khakis as if he could see through to the caller. What part of ‘away from my desk’ is confusing to you people?

It was his own fault for violating his core principle: Success invariably leads to diminished returns. He’d done one job well because it was interesting, and now everyone in the building wanted the Korean IT Guy With the Hair to be the one who showed up when they yelled for help.

He sank down against the wall until he sat folded, head on his knees. He’d hide out in the server room, at least until the afternoon sleepies hit around two and they all started playing their Facebook games. In fact, as long as they could get online to Facebook, probably no one would notice if everything else on the servers went dark.

This room had a consistently cool temperature, perfect humidity control, and top-of-the-line filters. His nose and eyes never itched when he was in here. The constant rush of the fans blotted out any outside noise.

The phone buzzed again, a steady rhythm. He should have put it on silent.

Just audible over the white noise of the fans, keys jangled outside, then scraped against the door. Not a lot of people had keys to the server room, but most of the ones who did could fire him. He rolled onto his knees and slid across the floor, pulled out a screwdriver, and prepared to look busy.

A voice came to him now—Shanara, the office manager. As bosses went, she wasn’t a bad one, but Kieran still figured hiding and ignoring his phone would probably get him reported to the head of IT, who was a total dick.

“Someone said they saw him headed this way.”

“Thank you for all your help, Shanara.”

Kieran dropped the screwdriver. What the hell was Theo doing here, thirty blocks away from where Kieran thought he was? His brain raced through multiple possibilities. Theo had met Kieran’s family, but why would Theo have been the one to come if something had happened to one of them?

“My pleasure, Mr. Medina.”

“Theo, please.”

The door opened. Kieran straightened from picking up his screwdriver and caught Theo’s wink square in the chest.

There it was again. That funny jolt that Kieran was sure his sister, the epidemiologist, could explain resulted through neurotransmitters, conditioned responses, and hormone dumps. But since Siobhan had been in Sierra Leone for the past eight months working to contain the latest Ebola outbreak, she was a little busy for stupid questions about why Kieran’s heart jumped when his boyfriend looked at him like that.

As cheerful as Theo usually was, Kieran was pretty sure Theo wouldn’t wink if something bad had happened. It didn’t explain why he was suddenly next to Shanara in the door to the server room.

Hi seemed like a safer bet than What the fuck are you doing here? so he went with that.

“Hey, I wanted to take you to lunch.” Theo’s smile didn’t affect Kieran’s nervous system like that look could, but it was definitely an autonomous response that made Kieran smile back. “I planned to do it tomorrow, but it’s the understudy’s first matinee and I need to be there.”

“You’re so lucky, Kieran.” Shanara had a smile a bit brighter than her usual professional one. Theo had the same effect on other people. “My boyfriend probably won’t even remember.”

Kieran was already in the same boat with Shanara’s boyfriend. Then he saw the rose Theo produced from behind his back, and Kieran’s brain latched on to the significance. Valentine’s Day was this weekend.

Theo turned and offered the rose to Shanara. “If you can spare him.”

She held the paper-wrapped stem in the space between them. “I thought this was for Kieran.”

Theo sighed. “He’s allergic to flowers. And romance. But I’m working on him.”

Kieran shoved his glasses up on his nose and glared, only to get smacked with another Theo wink, which induced a helpless shake of his head.

“It might take some time….” Theo trailed off and glanced at Shanara.

Her smile was broad, sharpening her cheeks. “You have personal leave banked, right, Kieran?” Barely pausing for his agreement, she said, “I’ll write you as out for the afternoon, let Todd know.”

Kieran nodded. The less he had to deal with the asshole director of IT, the better. Especially now that Kieran was in high demand.

“Thank you so much, Shanara.” Theo handed her a business card. “Just present that at the Will Call window any time and they’ll take care of you.”

“Thank you, Theo. Be sure to lock up the server room, Kieran.”

Shanara shut the door, which had an auto lock, so Kieran was puzzling over her order when Theo put his hands behind Kieran’s neck and kissed him.

A typical Theo kiss, warm, open, inviting Kieran to decide if it was going deeper.

Kieran put his hands on Theo’s back, under his coat, touched the velvety fleece, and breathed in the rich leather scent from his shoulder. The heavy wool coat Theo had been wearing when they met vanished immediately when Kieran confessed his allergy to it.

When Kieran drew back, Theo released him with a leer. “Cozy in your little den, here.”

Kieran shook his head. “The servers are sensitive to humidity. I’m pretty sure that includes jizz.”

“I’m insulted. I never spill a drop.”

Theo said it mockingly, but the reminder of how incredible Theo was at sucking dick stirred a tingle in Kieran’s balls.

“Yeah.” Theo leaned to brush his forehead against Kieran’s. “You’re thinking about it now.”

He was right. Because Theo was damned good at reading Kieran. The first person ever who bothered to pay enough attention to figure out—and offer—what Kieran wanted.

A nooner sounded interesting, but they certainly weren’t doing it in the server room.

“Thought you said we were going to lunch?”

“I did. Are you hungry?”

Kieran shrugged. He could eat, but he didn’t want Theo to think Kieran expected a lobster dinner just because he was peckish. Theo liked making people happy. He wasn’t a pushover or anything. Kieran had heard him get pissed enough to snap at people on the phone. Once when he met Theo at the theater, Kieran had heard him go off in a rage about a delivery of light bulbs. So scratch that. Theo was nice to most people, but he liked trying to make Kieran happy. And that didn’t suck at all.

The look in Theo’s eyes did that thing to Kieran’s circulatory system again as Theo tugged him toward the door. “Come on, then.” 

 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

K.A. Mitchell discovered the magic of writing at an early age when she learned that a carefully crayoned note of apology sent to the kitchen in a toy truck would earn her a reprieve from banishment to her room. Her career as a spin-control artist was cut short when her family moved to a two-story house and her trucks would not roll safely down the stairs. Around the same time, she decided that Chip and Ken made a much cuter couple than Ken and Barbie and was perplexed when invitations to play Barbie dropped off. She never stopped making stuff up, though, and was surprised to find out that people would pay her to do it. Although the men in her stories usually carry more emotional baggage than even LAX can lose in a year, she guarantees they always find their sexy way to a happy ending.

K.A. loves to hear from her readers.

She is often found talking about her imaginary friends on Twitter @ka_mitchell

http://www.kamitchell.com/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2746690.K_A_Mitchell

https://www.facebook.com/authorkamitchell

https://authorkamitchell.wordpress.com/

https://twitter.com/ka_mitchell

http://kamitchellplotbunnyfarm.tumblr.com/

GUEST BLOG with D. River | GIVEAWAY

Hello, I’m D. River, author of Moon Born, Feral Hearts Tales #2. Today I thought I’d talk dirty to you. Wait, that came out wrong. I meant I’d whisper dirty things…

I’ll come in again.

In any book with a romantic element, sex is pretty much a given. As a reader, I know I like to see when the two romantic leads finally, after challenges great and small, get it on. Er, that is, they finally bond in a beautifully emotional and spiritually satisfying way.

When I wrote my first M/M book, “Wild Horses,” I was coming to it from years of experience with erotica and friends telling me I wrote really good sex scenes and that I should write erotica for a living. No, really, my friends said that. It wasn’t the voices in my head.

As time has passed and I’ve read even more gay romance, in particular paranormal romance, I’ve seen sex handled well and seen it handled badly. With a romance novel, it could be argued that sex is the whole point of the book, that getting to that moment with the characters is the story’s climax, as it were.

However, with a paranormal story, there’s other stuff going on. As with the Feral Hearts Tales, while certainly the point at which the straight friends give in to their mate urges and have sex is important to the story, they had a whole lot of other things going on. So that creates the interesting dilemma that this post is all about:

How much sex is enough? How much is too much?

A very clever review of a shifter book (not mine but not naming names either) remarked that the sex scenes felt like “commercial breaks” in the story. The reviewer hit it right on the nose with that one. Of course the sexy times are fun and all, but if they are actually causing a pause in the story, that seems like a problem. And I’ve seen enough feedback from readers to suggest that a lot of people are getting tired of books with a lot of sex in them.

What I like to read, and what I try to write, are sex scenes that forward the characters’ growth. In that way, they mesh with the story and become a part of the plot. Put another way, they’re not just a part of the story that you can skip. If that means a book only has one or two sex scenes, that’s fine with me. If that means a book needs a dozen (there is one shifter title in particular I can think of where this is true) then by all means, have at.

Anyway, that’s how I feel about sex scenes in books. How about you fine folks? Do you like your books with a little or a lot of sex in them?


moonbornMoon Born

Feral Hearts Tales

Book 2

D. River

Genre: Shifter/paranormal romance/gay romance

Publisher: Lightbane Publications

Date of Publication: 9/14/2015

ISBN: 978-1-4675-7745-8

Word Count: 90,000

Pages: 332

Cover Artist: Fiona Jayde

Tucker and Ryder figured that the worst was over. They’d gotten used to being lycans, they’d managed to not get killed by werewolf hunters and they’d stopped a crazy magician from trying to unleash Armageddon.

However, as they try to get back to their lives, they find a whole host of new problems awaiting them. The government has established a task force to deal with paranormal threats and lycans are at the top of that list. There is a monster prowling the dark places of New York City. And the Moon Spirit has an agenda for them to fulfill.

Moon Born continues the story of Love Bites, with new characters, new dangers and new complications for Ryder and Tucker’s relationship.


EXCERPT

Ryder awoke very slowly, and only because there was an obnoxious ray of sunlight trying to burn a hole through his eyelid, undoubtedly seeking to find a way into his brain. He grumbled and swatted uselessly at the sunbeam and then rolled over to get away from it.

After three nights of glorious hunts, he and his pack were all thoroughly done in. Ryder wasn’t even sure where they were, other than the Wild Wood somewhere. He didn’t really feel inclined to care, either. The Wild Wood had been strangely hospitable to them, which made him resent it a little less even while he suspected the trees were just biding their time.

Having escaped the sunbeam, Ryder now had a twig under his ribs. He sighed and surrendered, sitting up and looking around. Tucker was already awake, standing nearby and examining a tree. Ryder didn’t ignore the fact that Tucker was gloriously naked, but after the last three days, sex was not his primary interest.

“You were twitching a lot in your sleep,” Tucker said. “It was kind of adorable.”

“I was having a good dream.” Ryder looked over at Trey, who was sleeping on his stomach and snoring peacefully. “We really need to find him a mate, you know.”

“Do they have a dating app for that sort of thing?”

“No, I don’t think anyone’s created ‘Wolfr” yet.” Ryder smiled and yawned. “It’s just…. I mean, we had so much fun these past few days and he had only his hand.”

“Which he used liberally.”

Ryder stifled a giggle. “It was hard to miss that. But anyway…. We need to look into it.”

Tucker nodded. “I think we’ll need some advice on that, though.”

Ryder cocked his head to one side. “Oh?”

“Yeah, we should head to the lycan cave, get the Moonstone and talk to the Moon Twink about his crazy idea for making more lycans.”

“You’d be willing to consider doing that?”

Tucker shook his head. “It sounds like a terrible idea. But I’m willing to hear what our friend has to say.”

Trey started to twitch violently in his sleep. Low, unhappy moans spilled from his lips. Ryder was just about to poke him awake when the younger lycan started awake. He looked around with wild eyes for a moment that were full of terror. His auburn hair was a fright, sticking up at all angles and full of leaves and twigs.

“Trey?”

For a long, unsettling moment, the young man just stared blankly ahead. Then he shook himself and rubbed at his eyes. “I’m fine.”

Tucker eyed him. “That seemed like one bitch of a nightmare. And I’ve had my share.”

Trey pulled his knees to his chest. “It…. It’s fine.”

Ryder sighed and looked skyward. “Why am I doomed to be surrounded by guys who can’t talk about what’s going on with them?”

Tucker smirked at him and then went over to sit beside Trey. Even as the younger lycan stiffened in a defensive posture, Tucker slipped an arm around his shoulders and gave him a firm sideways hug. Trey looked down at his knees, his eyes clouded with misery.

“Hey, dude, look, I get it. More than you know.” His expression grew somber. “When I was growing up, my asshole old man beat the shit out of me too. So I get nightmares of my own.”

Trey relaxed a tiny bit against his Alpha. “It’s not that. I’m used to those.”

Ryder wished he could live in a world where no one ever had to get used to that sort of thing. “Then what was it?”

“It’s hard to explain…. When I wake up, the dream sort of dissipates like smoke. But in the dream, I’m somewhere dark and someone’s hurting me….” He swallowed hard. “I think it’s Matchitehew.”

Ryder frowned. “Maybe it’s just because of that horrible place we raided?”

Trey nodded. “I think so. I mean, that’s what makes the most sense. It just…. It feels so real.”

Tucker eyed him sidelong. “Well, we’ll add it to the questions for the Moon Twink.”

“I wish you wouldn’t call him that. He might turn us into wereturtles or something,” Ryder said.

Trey giggled. “Wereturtles….”

Tucker gave Trey a pointed look. “No more keeping secrets from your pack, puppy. If something’s bothering you, you tell us.”

“Yes, sir,” Trey mumbled.

“Hey, you get all grumpy with me when I call you ‘puppy,'” Ryder complained.

“You’re not the Alpha,” Trey said.

Tucker laughed. “He’s got you there.”

“I suppose. So, homeward?” Ryder asked.

Trey nodded and stretched mightily. “Absolutely.” He smacked his lips. “I could use some coffee first. And maybe some eggs.”

“You’re not full from last night?” Ryder asked. “I’m still stuffed.”

“Well, you two hogged most of that deer, so yeah.” Trey frowned. “Not sure when I stopped thinking of raw meat as icky, but whatever.”

“Well, Clif bars will have to do.” Ryder looked around. “Now, where did we put that pack we brought?”


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

River has been writing for many decades, and most of it is filthy, dirty stuff that you absolutely shouldn’t read. Highly-trained experts have successfully quarantined most of that work to keep save innocent bystanders from debilitating cases of blushing.

River started putting out books for sale with Wild Horses. Since no one told him to stop, he went on to publish other novels, including the popular Love Bites. The men in white coats caught up with him, though, and he vanished off the face the of Earth. Having made his escape and having set up shop in an abandoned adult toy factory, he is now ready to unleash more paranormal romances/adventure stories on an unsuspecting world.

http://lightbane.com/driver.html

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4123971.D_River/blog


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GUEST BLOG: Christy Carlyle on Writing a Book Lover’s Romance

Christy Carlyle on Writing a Book Lover’s Romance
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Books have been a preoccupation since I was a kid. My grandfather collected books, and Grandma taught me to read long before I started kindergarten. Books were my favorite birthday gifts, and going to the library always seemed like a bit of an adventure. Maybe it had something to do with being an only child. Reading kept me entertained and gave me a place to let my imagination soar.

Our collection of books tends to grow as we do, reflecting our changing tastes, perhaps evolving into a stash of “keepers” as we cull some and acquire others. My books have followed me through countless moves, even overseas and back, and they multiply every year. When I moved two years ago, one of the moving guys actually grumbled, “I hope you enjoy your books!” as he carried the umpteenth book box up into my second floor apartment.

As a reader, I like encountering characters who love to read as much as I do. I’m also intrigued by any story with a writer hero or heroine. When a character is portrayed as a book lover, I feel an instant connection, relating to them more easily and rooting for them more readily.

When the idea for my first Avon Impulse historical romance, One Scandalous Kiss, popped into my head, I knew my heroine, Jessamin Wright, would be a book lover. She ended up being a book seller too, with a failing bookshop inherited from her father. I wanted her to be someone whose life had been affected by the power of books. She believes in women’s rights, so Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman is near and dear to her heart, but during the story she reveals that Charles Dickens is her favorite author. Jess even asks Lucius, the hero, to name his favorite book. His choice gives her insight into his heart and mind.

As a reader, do you enjoy encountering characters who love to read as much as you do?


EXCERPT

London, September 1890

She’d never imagined wealth would be so uncomfortable. Nearly every aspect of the Marquess of Clayborne’s Belgrave Square drawing room made Jessamin Wright uneasy. There were no books stacked in piles, no candles whose wax had run down their sides in haphazard sculptures, and not a spot of ash dusting the hearth—nothing inviting about the room at all. How could any lived-in space be so clean? The slippery damask settee felt stiff and unyielding beneath her body. Nothing about it urged you to sit and stop awhile. Even art was lacking from the walls, except for a series of watercolors of what must have been a terribly boring fox hunt. A fire burned low in the grate and offered a bit of warmth against the autumn chill, but the cool beiges and tepid pinks of the wallpaper and furnishings made Jess feel slightly queasy, as if blood had been drained from her body as thoroughly as color had been drawn out of every surface in the room. Even the wood was light colored or painted white and lacquered to a high sheen. It was all wrong. No room should be so spotless. As she and Alice had yet to meet their host, she began to doubt that anyone lived here at all. Then again, she’d never before set foot inside a fine London townhouse. Perhaps they were all this stark and unpleasant.

Jess didn’t have to look down to know the room’s pristine neatness contrasted sharply with her scuffed boots, soot-dusted cloak, and unfashionable work clothes. She found it impossible to settle herself in such elegant surroundings. Sitting, then standing, then sitting again, she rearranged her limbs and scratched her neck in a most unladylike manner. Finally finding a spot on the settee that suited her, she stripped off her twice-mended gloves but kept her hands clasped, careful not to touch anything for fear she might leave a mark.

Her cluttered thoughts offered as little comfort as the room. She fretted about leaving the bookshop managed solely by her assistant, Jack. He was a longtime employee and utterly trustworthy, but he’d never been fond of dealing with customers. He simply loved books—acquiring them, reading them, repairing them—and that was something she understood. He hadn’t stayed on after Father’s death for her, but out of loyalty to Lionel Wright. She understood that too. One of Father’s gifts had been the ability to inspire a bone deep sense of obligation in others. Since Jess had taken on the shop, other employees had been hard to come by—few men wished to take their wages and direction from a woman.

Slipping Father’s old watch from its place in her skirt pocket, Jess’s mind sifted through what she had yet to accomplish before resting her head for the day. It was a long list and —Ah, that too—now included an article she’d almost forgotten to write for the Women’s Union journal.

“I hope Lady Katherine hasn’t forgotten us. To be honest, I won’t be sad to see the last of this room. It’s all rather cold, even with the fire. Makes you afraid to touch anything or even breathe.”

Alice McGregor had an uncanny talent for reading one’s mind and could always be counted on for blunt and insightful commentary. Of all Jessamin’s friends at the Women’s Union, Alice was the most practical and plain-speaking. Delicacy was overrated as far as Alice was concerned. She said what everyone else was thinking but knew it impolite to mention.

“No, it’s not terribly inviting, is it?”

If Jess could decorate such a room, the colors would be bold and full of life. Red would do very nicely. And she’d decorate the walls with art so vivid you’d believe you could smell the pot of basil in a Holman Hunt painting or hear the swish of silk and satin as one of Mr. Tissot’s beauties crossed the room. She closed her eyes and imagined crimson walls covered with art in rich, vibrant colors.

“Miss Wright, have I caught you napping?” Lady Katherine Adderly’s giggle was like the clash of two crystal glasses meeting in a toast. Sharp and clear, it instantly snapped Jessamin out of her fantasies.

As she swept in, a maid followed close on her heels with a tea tray. Lady Katherine smelled of flowers, but far too many, the scent cloying and sickly sweet.

“Forgive me, my lady.” It was easier for Jessamin to apologize for drowsing than acknowledge how she loathed the decor.

Jess and Alice exchanged raised-brow glances as their hostess handed each of them a fine porcelain teacup and began the process of pouring tea and offering them confections from plates laden with biscuits and tiny pastries. It was an elaborate ritual, much more fuss about tea than Jess had ever made in life. But the rich tang of jasmine in the brew was delicious and she was grateful for the distraction of the warm refreshment, even as she sensed the persistent tick of Father’s watch against her skirt pocket. She had to get back to the shop and hoped their meeting with the marquess’s daugther wouldn’t take long.

“I’m pleased to make this donation to the Women’s Union. You know how I enjoy the lively meetings.”

Lady Katherine had attended only three of the group’s weekly meetings over the course of four months, but she’d been eager to make a financial contribution and Alice, as the union’s treasurer and co-founder, was all too happy to accept. Jess wasn’t certain why Alice had asked her to come along to collect the money, but as editor of the group’s printed journal and author of many of the speeches given at gatherings, she supposed she was a visible member of the organization.

“We are most grateful for the funds, my lady.” As always Alice spoke with sincerity, gratitude clear in her tone.

“Oh, please call me Kitty.”

Alice took a sip of tea, attempting to hold the cup with all the dignity  Kitty seemed to manage effortlessly.

“I understand there’s another worthy cause to which I may also contribute.”

“I’m sure there are many in London,” Jess offered, thinking of a dozen ways she might spend charitable funds, not to mention the money needed to salvage the indebted bookshop her father had left her.

“I was referring to you, Miss Wright.”

Jessamin shot Alice a look, wondering just what her scrupulously honest friend had revealed to Lady Katherine.

“I understand you have a bookshop and lending library here in town.”

“Yes, my lady,” Jess bit off, unable to keep the irritation from her voice. Alice shouldn’t have mentioned her situation to anyone. Kitty might be feeling benevolent, but the amount needed to clear the shop’s debt was more than any wealthy aristocrat’s daughter would wish to spend, no matter how generous they were feeling.

“Would one hundred pounds be useful to you?”

A shiver tickled Jessamin’s spine as she contemplated the amount, a sum she couldn’t earn at the shop in months, perhaps not even in a year. It wasn’t nearly enough to clear the entire debt, but it would bring her payments with the bank current.

Jessamin studied Kitty’s feline smile and tried to unravel the mystery of the young woman’s wish to help her. She knew Kitty was wealthy, the daughter of a marquess, and perhaps a bit bored, but she’d never even conversed with her before today. Kitty was mentioned off and on in the scandal sheets Jess admitted to no one she indulged in reading, but she was hardly known as an outstanding philanthropist.

Charity tasted sour, yet how could she refuse the sum?

“Neither a borrower nor a lender be” had been one of Father’s favorite lines from Hamlet. But it was an adage he’d failed to uphold. His gambling had turned him into the worst sort of borrower, taking loans from friends and money from the bookshop he’d worked so hard to build up. For Jess’s part, she’d become a lender soon after her father’s death, finally instituting the lending library she’d been envisioning for years. It seemed neither of them had heeded the Shakespearian admonition at all.

Kitty watched Jess closely and appeared to notice the moment she’d almost made up her mind to accept the money.

“I am so pleased you’ll allow me to help you, Jessamin. And in return, I’m certain you won’t mind assisting me with one tiny request.”

Alice frowned and set her teacup on the table between them, edging forward on the settee as if she meant to get up and leave. “I’m not sure that’s quite right.”

“What is the favor, Lady Katherine? Please, let’s speak plainly with one another.” It didn’t surprise Jess in the least that Kitty expected something in return. No one offered such a sum without expecting something in return.

“Kitty, please. Do call me Kitty. It’s a simple favor, really. As simple as a kiss.”

Jess choked. “Pardon?” she squeaked, when she’d finally managed to swallow her mouthful of tea and could breathe again.

“Just a kiss, Jessamin. Surely you don’t object to kissing.” Kitty’s teasing tone belied the glint of steel in her gaze. “You’re a modern, free-thinking woman, after all. You believe in the suffrage and equality for our sex. You should feel quite free to kiss any man you like.”

Kissing men had nothing to do with Jess’s interest in social reform or gaining a voice for women in the political sphere. If Kitty thought it did, she hadn’t been to nearly enough meetings.

“You want me to kiss a man?” Jess spoke the words as if it was an extraordinary feat. And it was. She’d never kissed a man. Not really. A childish, graceless kiss on the cheek from Tom Jenkins when she was twelve years old hardly counted.

“This seems a rather strange favor, Kitty.” Alice’s precise tone cut through the quiet of the room.

Kitty’s tinkling laughter rang out. “Yes, I suppose it does. But it’s merely a harmless bit of revenge.”

“Revenge.” Jess waited. There had to be more.

“Oh, all right. If you must know, the dreadful man snubbed me.” Kitty plumped her bow-shaped mouth in a pout.

Was she the shallowest heiress in Belgravia? The thought that Kitty wished to seek revenge because a man did not prefer her company was ridiculous. Her beauty and wealth could secure her any suitor she set her cap at. In fact, the question of why the man rejected her was as intriguing as her desire for Jess to kiss him.

“Why did he snub you?”

“Why, indeed!” Kitty straightened up in her chair and slid her fingers into honey blond hair, tucking her already neatly pinned coiffure more firmly into place. “Perhaps because he is an odious man. If he wasn’t a viscount, soon to be an earl, and so irredeemably handsome, I wouldn’t have bothered with him. Never mind Papa’s mad notion I marry Lord Grim. Freddie is much more fun, even if he doesn’t have a farthing to his name.” Kitty turned the full force of her bright green gaze on Jess. “You’ll do it then?”

“I’m still not sure I understand.”

Kitty’s tone became pedantic, as if she was speaking to a child who needed to be set aright.

“My dear, it couldn’t be simpler. Viscount Grimsby snubbed me at a soiree last week and I would like your help to put him in his place. He’s a dour man, as cold as marble. Some call him Lord Grim. And so he is. Grim and heartless. He needs a little comeuppance.” As an afterthought, she added, “He’s against the vote for women, of course.”

As if that made the whole ridiculous scheme noble. As if kissing him would change his mind about women’s suffrage.

“And where does kissing come into play?” It all sounded wrong to Jess, like the discordant notes of an untuned piano playing over and over in her mind, but Kitty waved away her concern dismissively.

“It won’t be a real kiss, my dear. Not the kind that matters. Just a kiss that knocks him off his pedestal a bit. It will cause him a trifle of social bother. Stir up some tittle tattle.”

For a moment Kitty’s expression altered, the corners of her mouth turning down as if she’d fallen into troubled contemplation. Jess wondered if she was already regretting her petty scheme? Then she lifted her head, a satisfied cat-at-the-cream grin lifting her cheeks.

“The next time I see the man at a ball, perhaps he’ll manage a bit of humility. And since no one else will wish to stand up with him, I suspect he’ll be more than happy to dance with me.”

None of Kitty’s words put Jess’s mind at ease. She’d never heard of Lord Grimsby but from Kitty’s description, kissing the man certainly didn’t sound appealing.

“I happen to know he’ll be at an art gallery in Mayfair this evening.”

“And?” Jess was growing impatient. Who had time for games when she had a business to run?

“There will be a gathering at the gallery. Mrs. Ornish is a great fan of art and has sponsored one of the artists whose works will be featured. I do wonder why he always goes to Mrs. Ornish’s events. Could he have his eye on Meredith, do you think?”

Of course, Jess had no idea who Mrs. Ornish or Meredith was. She might share their love of art, but they were the kind of women with wealth enough to offer an artist patronage. Jess couldn’t even afford to buy a painting. Her walls were decorated with cut-out prints culled from books and newspapers.

“Kitty, please just tell me. What must I do?”

Kitty’s crooked her mouth alluringly. Jess supposed she used the simpering expression to charm everyone. Everyone except Lord Grimsby, apparently.

“I want you to show up at the gallery event and stride up to Lord Grim. Yes, you’ll just walk up and plant a kiss square on that cruel, unsmiling mouth of his.”

“I really don’t think—“Alice’s voice had taken on the same pitch and volume she used to quiet the women’s group meetings.

Jess knew what she was going to say and cut her off. “Wait. Let me consider a moment.”

Jess closed her eyes and breathed deeply. She had to do it. She needed the one hundred pounds Kitty offered. There was no denying what the woman proposed was scandalous, not to mention farcical and childish. But Jess had no reputation to protect. As Kitty said, she saw herself as a free-thinking woman, unhampered by society’s strictures and eager for changing women’s roles. She had no idea how kissing a complete stranger would strike a blow for woman’s rights, but she knew her desperation for funds made her beholden to Kitty’s whims.

“Come, Jessamin.” Kitty’s sing song voice was cajoling. “I dare you.”

Because Jess’s speeches encouraged action over words, perhaps Kitty saw her as brave and daring. But if she was brave, it was because Father died and took all of her options with him.  She’d lost everything—her home, a modestly comfortable lifestyle, freedom to study and spend her days more or less as she wished—and put all her energy into maintaining his business, even after discovering the massive debt he’d accumulated. She was beginning to make inroads toward repaying the debt and Kitty’s funds would be another step toward financial success for Wright and Sons Booksellers.

“Fine. I’ll do it.”

Kitty gasped with delight and clapped her hands together.

Alice shot her a look as if Jess had taken leave of whatever sense she’d been given.

Jess couldn’t match Kitty’s enthusiasm nor acknowledge Alice’s concern. She was too busy fighting off the sense of dread that settled in the pit of her stomach at the prospect of what she’d agreed to do.

“Where is this gallery and what time will he be there?”

EXCERPT: Fur, Fangs, and Secrets by | GIVEAWAY!

Title: Fur, Fangs and Secrets

Author: Katie Gatto

Genre: Paranormal Romance

When Alpha Cole Martin takes his mate from the middle of a public park, he expected some complications. He didn’t expect her to have a few secrets of her own.


EXCERPT

“Who are you really?,” I asked him.

“Someone who is desperately in love with you,” he said in a small voice. I yanked my hand away from his. “That’s not possible,” I told him. I looked him in his eyes. He seemed so earnest. I let him keep talking, “Yes it is. I fell in love with you the second I saw you in the store. I’ll never love anyone else but you for the rest of my life. I need you by my side. Please don’t run from me. I’ll do everything I can to make you happy.”

My next thought came out of my mouth before I had time to check it with my brain, “You’re insane!” It wasn’t the best response I know, but it was the truth. He grabbed onto my hand tighter. “I finally touched you. You must be feeling something by now. I know humans don’t feel the connection the way that we do, but they usually feel something. Don’t you feel it?,” he sounded downright desperate at this point. “All I feel right now is frightened. I really think you need to see someone about these mental problems. I’m worried about you. This isn’t normal.”

He didn’t let go and he didn’t speak. His eyes were wide. His grip actually tightened on my hand. I tried changing my tactic, “Look we are in a very public place right now. If you don’t let go of me I’m going to scream.”

Cole

 

She didn’t feel it. She thinks that we’re crazy. I looked to my wolf because I didn’t know what else to do. We can’t lose her. Get her somewhere safe. He didn’t tell me to try and mate her right there so I figured his advice was better than my lack of plan. I was actually starting to formulate one of those. I let go of her hand and like I expected she started to get up. She’s leaving, my wolf was howling, Make her come back!

I let her stand up, and then when she got up I kissed her. Not a simple kiss but one like the movies, where I bent her backwards over my arm. She must have been surprised because she opened her mouth and I pressed into her deeper, covering all of her mouth. I cupped her head in my hands and used one of them to cover her nose as surreptitiously as I could. When she finally passed out I scooped her up. Leaving the picnic I got her into my car as quickly as I could.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Katie Gatto is a New Jersey based fantasy and romance author, with more than a dozen books to her name. You can follow her on Twitter for up to the moment updates or find on her author site. Samples of her works are also available on Wattpad.

Links

Author Site – https://katiegatto.wordpress.com

Smashwords Profile – https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/katiegatto

Twitter – https://twitter.com/KTMG


GIVEAWAY

A random fan who reviews the book on Goodreads during the tour will get to choose the name of one of the characters in the author’s next book. Rafflecopter.

REVIEW: Through Adversity by Amelia Faulkner

I received this book for free by the author for an honest and impartial review. My receiving the book in no way affects my review.

Through-Adversity-0TITLE: Through Adversity

AUTHOR: Amelia Faulkner

GENRE: Historical Romance, LGBT

RATING: 4 Stars

SUMMARY: Tortured German fighter ace Lt. Siegfried Krämer has a terrible secret which could ruin him: he prefers men. Hurried, loveless encounters have armed him with a sardonic wit and a bleak outlook, and he faces a life in which his only companion is his dog, Eike.

The young and talented Lt. Valentine Westbrook should be considered an ace, but most of his victories are unconfirmed, and now that his squadron is relegated to bombing missions the chances of him ever reaching the magic number are dwindling. When he encounters an equally-skilled enemy pilot during a terrible storm, Valentine is unable to resist the hunt.

Both men soon abandon all common sense and – with a protracted dogfight at their backs – crash-land in the midst of the German Empire’s last great offensive push. Injured, stranded, and with no idea which side of the Line they are on, they must work together if they are to survive. One of them will become the other’s prisoner just as soon as they figure out where they are, but until then they are stuck with no food and no shelter in storms which don’t seem ready to end. But worse still, their mutual respect blossoms into something dangerously intimate, and their lives are about to become forever intertwined…

BUY LINKS: Lovelight Press | Amazon

REVIEW:

Through Adversity is a historical romance that tells the story of a British pilot and a German pilot falling in love. It’s the kind of forbidden romance that we can all get on board with, so I was eager to read this story. All together I was really happy with the book, but there were still some points that I think could have used some work.

The beginning was slow and it almost turned me away from the story. It took about three chapters for me to really grow invested. As soon as Valentine and Siegfried met, though, I felt an instant chemistry and was pulled in. While Valentine and Siegfried interacted naturally, some of the conversations Val and Siegfried had with others around them felt artificial and forced.

I was pulled in once we into the meat of the story, when Valentine and Siegfried have to trek across the countryside, not sure where they are, and slowly falling in love. It only took me a couple days to read the book. The nice thing was that when I did set it down (not because I was bored, but because life interrupted or I had to go to bed), it was easy to pick back up where I left, as if I’d never even set it down.

Ms. Faulkner crafted wonderful characters. There was an authenticity to Valentine and Siegfried that a lot of m/m novels lack. They were human. It was refreshing to read about two male characters falling in love and neither being pigeonholed into an “Alpha Male” status. They reacted to their situation appropriately and their romance felt real. Watching it unfold was heartbreaking, because you knew that things wouldn’t end well, but you hoped they would get their happy ending.

Ms. Faulkner’s style is gorgeous. She weaves in the descriptions beautifully so that you feel as if you’re stuck in the French countryside right along with Val and Siegfried.

My only other issue was that I wanted more at the ending. While it was touching and had me choking a bit, I really wished that the story had an extra fifty pages where she expanded on Val and Siegfried’s separation. I wanted to hurt while reading this. I wanted to feel their pining and the distance, and I wanted to see them suffer because of it. I feel a little cheated that we didn’t get this moment, especially after the great build up of their relationship. It would have made the reunion (which was so sweet) much more emotional.

I went back and forth on how I should rate this one by about ½ a star. While Through Adversity has some faults and parts that could use work, for the most part the story was engaging and beautiful, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. In the end I settled on four stars, because despite some cons, all together this was a very entertaining read and I would recommend it to other readers.

SPOTLIGHT: Love Bites by Valerie Kogan | BOOK GIVEAWAY!

Love Bites:

A Collection of Short Stories

Valeria Kogan

Genre: Romance

Publisher: Wattle Publishing

Number of pages: 134

Love Bites is the debut collection of short stories by Valeria Kogan. From heartbreak to redemption, Love Bites provides a spellbinding interpretation of love and friendship, glamour and guilt, secrets and deceit. Each story provides a captivating insight into the world of love; its profound impact and effect; and how women relate to their partners.

This cleverly constructed collection of short stories will leave you tantalized and yearning for more.

Amazon    Amazon UK   

Paperback Amazon.co.uk    Paperback Amazon US


ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Valeria Kogan was born in Russia and moved to the UK in 1991, where she developed her love of art and literature.

Website: www.valeriakogan.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6154487.Valeria_Kogan

Publisher twitter: @wattlepub

Wattle Publishing Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WattlePublishing


GIVEAWAY

Valerie is giving away 3 paperback copies Love Bites. Enter through the rafflecopter!

GUEST POST: Pest Peeves with Spencer Dryden | SWAG GIFT BASKET GIVEAWAY!

Hello, I’m Spencer Dryden, author of a new book, “The Memory Of Mermaids” published by Fireborn Publishers. It’s an action/fantasy/adventure about an ordinary guy living in the world today who rescues a mermaid from a sea monster and then….

I’m still pretty new to the writing life, if you can call living in a refrigerator box a life, but I’ve been at it long enough to develop a few pet peeves. Pardon me while I take a moment to vent. These are in no particular order but if the shoe fits wear it. Most of my rants have to do with social media where we all have to camp, building our platform.

I must confess one part of me is very envious of writers, who in addition to literary skills also poses graphic arts skills. I don’t know much, but I know a post that includes catchy graphics is more likely to be read. Moreover, I’m impressed by those writers who are avid readers and reviewers and maintain elaborate websites and blogs. Not me. I have a website but it’s an embarrassment. Blogging depletes my limited creative talent. Finally, there are those that can traverse Goodreads. I find it hard to navigate. I’m grateful for people who have added and reviewed my books. I’ve all but given up on Twitter, the noise is deafening me, me! ME! is all I hear. Facebook is the source of my biggest anguish. So here we go:

1) As writers in the modern era we all have to do platform building. Facebook is a big hang out for trying to gain some exposure. But friends, because of the Facebook algorithm everyone you friend is also a writer trying to gain attention. Sites are overloaded with promotion. I get that. I do some self-serving promotion but the thing that drives me crazy is the people who day after day, sometimes many times in the same, day put up the same promotional material. Dude, we get it, you managed to fit enough words together to have a book. Beating us on the head won’t make us want to read it. Why not take part in discussions, promote other writers, find something to lighten our day. Stop with the repeat button already.

2) Cryptic language for a small group of insiders. Do it in a group e-mail, Facebook is a public forum. It’s annoying. Stop it. Hit that button that limits who sees your posts.

3) Using the same promo over and over. Oh, I said that.

4) Reporting writers on violation of Facebook community standards. F’n’ trolls do this. If you’re subscribing to an adult site expect adult material. Unfriend the person but don’t report them, you are depriving someone of their livelihood and undermining their self confidence.

5) Some women seem to use Facebook trying to get over bad self image problems. They publish endless selfies seeking approval for their looks. Facebook is not a good place to try to cure deep seeded psychological problems. Go get therapy or join a private support group. Nothing anyone tells you on Facebook is going to make you feel pretty if you feel ugly inside.

6) Publishing the same promo material day after day. Is there an echo in here?

7) I’m sorry that creep broke your heart, but he was a creep. There are plenty of good men out there who would treat you with far more respect. Whining about it day in and day out wears thin. It’s important to go through grief but a public forum isn’t the right place. Once again, hit that button that limits shares. Get out of the virtual world and get out in the real world. You’ll find your true heart there.

8) I’m sorry about breast cancer, really, but if you are not aware of breast cancer by now you’re too stupid to live. More men die of prostate/ colon cancer than woman die of breast cancer. We need more awareness of men’s health issues because we are too stupid to live.

9) Memes that use false dichotomies, like I’m not a patriot unless I forward your poster. I am a patriot. I don’t need to prove it to you. Put your energy to work helping disabled veterans.

10) Did I mention how much I hate seeing the same promotional material day after day?

11) Trolls. Ladies, I’m sorry, trolls are everywhere. They are seriously diseased. It has to be unnerving to be trolled.  It’s nothing you did.  There seems to be no way to stop them. At the first sign inappropriate behavior block the bastard.

12) Too many 5 star reviews for a POS. Amazon has it faults worthy of an entire rant, but one thing they try to do is perform a service of accurately representing user experiences. I don’t know how many stories I’ve read, mostly by indie authors operating outside of any vetting mechanism, that somehow manage to get their book loaded with five star reviews when in fact, it’s a piece of crap. There are very few books worthy of five stars, including mine. (Some would say especially mine). When you line up a pile of friends to give five star reviews you’re cheating honest buyers and making the world more resistant to good evaluations. Seek honest reviews. It’s very revealing and will actually help you grow as a writer. I’m terrible at doing formal reviews so I don’t do to many. I won’t post a review unless I can honestly give the book three stars. For bad ratings I prefer to contact writers off line to tell them of my problems with their work.

13) I almost forgot. Posting the same promo material ad nauseam.

14) The endless invitations to ‘like’ pages and attend cover reveals.

I’ve done something a little different with “The Memory of Mermaids.” (Actually not me but my creative, energetic marketer Lori Blantin of Indigo Marketing) She created a Facebook give away page for me where we celebrate the inner mermaid with photos, musings and easy entry contests for mermaid theme bath products. Once in a while I throw in a promo for the book but it’s easy to ignore. You should come over and take a look.

Thanks for spending a few minutes with me. I know my host would be most grateful if you made a comment or asked a question.

Oh did I mention how much I hate seeing the same promo material every day? I finally unfriended that guy.

TITLE: The Memory of Mermaids

SERIES TITLE AND NUMBER:  N/A

PUBLISHER:  Fireborn Publishing

RELEASE DATE:  August 21, 2015

GENRE:  Fantasy

TAGS:  Action/Adventure, Romance, Comedy/Humor  

HEAT LEVEL: 2

PAIRING: Male/Female Mermaid

LENGTH: Novella

BOOK LINKS:

Fireborn Publishing – http://firebornpublishing.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_bookx_info&cPath=4&products_id=130

BLURB:

After he rescues a mermaid from a sea monster, Max Weiss falls into a world of pirate treasure, dolphin whisperers, murderous mobsters and a forbidden love.

Troubles multiply in the already-troubled life of Max Weiss after he rescues a mermaid from the clutches of a sea monster. Drawn by the allure of the enchanting mermaid, Azzaria, Max agrees to help her find her lost mermaid sister. Max is pulled into a world of missing drug money, pirate treasure, murderous mobsters, dolphin whisperers and a forbidden love.


AUTHOR BIO

Spencer Dryden is a new writer, but an old guy on the threshold of draining any reserves left in Medicare and Social Security.

In real life he is a handyman, an at-home dad, inventor and web videographer living a quiet life in the frozen tundra of Minnesota (USA).

Like all writers he has a cat but they don’t get along well. He can be found at the usual writer hangouts:

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GIVEAWAY

Rafflecopter Giveaway – Mermaids and Seashells Gift Basket valued at $100.00

Memory of Mermaids gift basket includes;

Seashell Gift Box that looks like a Book

Bamboo Fiber Bath Scrub

Mermaid Ornament

Mermaid window decal

Starfish Glass Soap Dish

Sea Clay Dry Body Scrub 5 ounce

Shimmering Mineral Bath 5 ounce

Soy Milk Bath scent Mermaid Dreams (2 standard tub uses or 1 garden tub size) scent Mermaid Dreams

Bath Melts (2 standard tub uses or 1 garden tub use)

Shimmer Body Powder scent Memory of Mermaids

Cocoa Butter Lip Balm – passion fruit

Organic Sugar Lip Scrub- passion fruit

Sea Urchin Massage Bar Soap

Mermaid Olive Oil Soap

Nautilus Soap

Conch Soap

Sand Dollar Soap