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)

COVER REVEAL! Inconceivable by Cherrie Mack

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About the Book

Inconceivable E-Book Cover

Title: Inconceivable

Author: Cherrie Mack

Genre: Romance / Fantasy

When Prince Charming comes looking for the woman who stole his heart at a Manhattan shoe store, he instead finds her stepsister, Allie. Allie doesn’t leave the best impression with the handsome Zach Brady, who quickly dismisses her as the maid. But an unusual fairy godmother with bulging biceps, long hair, and a cool demeanor has plans for her. Can Allie keep herself from falling for the wrong man and convince him to help her snag Zach? This duo quickly learns that sometimes if the shoe fits, the pair could be all wrong.

Author Bio

Cherrie Mack is a multi-published romance author who grew up in Flushing Queens NY, the youngest child of six. The city’s diversity gave her a great appreciation for many different cultures and lifestyles. After love finally claimed the girl from the city and dragged her to the suburban madness of Long Island, she settled into a quiet life with her new husband. Two children and one mini-van later, the family found themselves moving towards the sunny skies of Florida where they currently reside.

Cherrie is happiest sitting behind a keyboard doing the one thing she loves most—writing. However, when she isn’t writing, she is struggling to man her website, promote her books, keep up with social media and run a household. She loves to hang out with her 12 and 10 year old kids and spend time with her smart, sexy, fun loving husband. She struggles to master the art of meditation but with so many people living inside her head, demanding a story of their own, the task is daunting. She takes time to relax by playing with her best friends–Bailey and Simba.

Cherrie continues to flourish, writing contemporary erotic romance, romantic comedy, urban fantasy, paranormal romance and her latest venture into sci-fi. Her ability to cross genre’s fuels her imagination and gives her the desire to continue to push her boundaries and branch out as a writer. Although she hasn’t settled into any given sub-genre, she is confident her ability will lead her down the right path.

A member of Romance Writers of America, Cherrie is slowly spreading her wings as a romance author. Look for her books at all digital bookstores such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Bookstrand, ITunes, Nook, Kobo and many more.

Links

Blog: http://cherriemack.wordpress.com

Website: http://www.cherriemack.com

Author facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/CherrieMack

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CherrieMack

Google email: mackcherrie@gmail.com

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.cherriemack.com

COVER REVEAL: Henchgirl by Rita Strading

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About the Book

Henchgirl Cover Choice 1

Title: Henchgirl

Author: Rita Stradling

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

I had never thought my life was ideal, but it had been manageable.

By day I pretended to be a human, going to a ‘human’s only’ high-school, making human friends and trying to get the attention of Keanu Hale, my school’s quarterback. At night, I worked as a henchman, making sure no one got in the way of my grandfather’s hotel-empire which spanned across the Mabiian island chain. I was my grandfather’s most cherished weapon, I stole and manipulated emotions, I would even drain someone of their ability to feel joy if my grandfather ordered me to.

I won’t apologize for what I did, it kept my sisters fed and my grandfather from finding out that my mother squandered our monthly allowance on shopping and throwing extravagant parties. It kept my family alive. But more importantly, my job kept me from being trained to be a wife and married off to some rich and powerful dracon, a human-dragon hybrid, as all girls with one-eighth dragon blood are.

As I said, my life was just manageable, until Wyvern Manderson vacationed to my island. Wyvern Manderson, the rich, powerful, and famous for something or other, half-dragon jerk, just kept showing up, sabotaging my missions and ordering me around. On top of that, for some reason he was always angry at me.

Pretty soon I was suspended from further missions, facing eminent financial ruin and still had to see the jerk everywhere I went. When my friend Amanda from my human-high-school vanished, Amanda turned out to be Wyvern’s human half-sister he was keeping secret and protecting.

Taking on the mission to find Amanda might have been what I needed to save my family from losing everything, but to do it I would have to spend all day everyday with the jerk. To top that all off, Amanda was not the only girl who disappeared, and when girls started being discovered dead I realized that my sanity wasn’t the biggest thing I would be risking in this investigation; I might very well be the next to die.

Author Bio

45129_1477978523223_7617030_nRita Stradling lives with her husband and son in Northern California. Her six year old son wants to be a train when he grows up. She has a BA in Art History and a particular interest in modern and medieval art.

Rita has an insatiable novel addiction and mostly reads young adult and adult: paranormal, urban fantasy and high fantasy.

Links

Goodreads

Website

Amazon

SPOTLIGHT: The Homecoming by J. Scott Coatsworth | BOOK GIVEAWAY!

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AboutTheBook

TH CoverTitle: The Homecoming

Author: J. Scott Coatsworth

Publisher: Less Than Three Press

Cover Artist: London Burden

Length: 20,000 words

Release Date: July 29, 2015

Blurb: When his own world is destroyed, Aldiss and his crew barely manage to escape, leaving friends and lovers behind. What was meant to be an exploratory trip back to the home world turns into a mad dash for survival.

When they awaken from stasis on Earth, which was abandoned by humanity five centuries before, they must quickly learn about their new home. While exploring the region around the ship, Aldiss meets Hari, a shape-changer, whose people harbor secrets that might cost the crew their lives.

Excerpt

Hari reached the edge of the woods just in time to see Neru crouching to leap at the two-legs. Young fool.

He gathered himself and jumped after Neru, knocking him aside as his teeth reached for the two-legs’ throat.

Neru turned and snarled at him, backing away toward the woods.

Hari stood firm, ears back, hackles raised, and drew the corners of his mouth back to reveal his teeth. Back off, Neru.

The whelp shook his head and grinned with the brashness of youth, until Hari leaped at him and nipped his ear. With a surprised yelp, Neru turned his head, deferring to Hari’s strength. As you say, brother. There was a cockiness to Neru’s look that unsettled him.

The other wolf backed up slowly then turned to disappear into the woods.

Hari caught a glimpse of Mavi watching from the shadows. The old wolf snarled, and slunk off after her son.

What do you seek, old mother? Hari wondered, watching Mavi’s silver-tipped tail flicker into the darkness. It was clear where Neru’s courage and cunning had come from.

Hari turned back toward the two-legs. He was holding a strange stick, not unlike the one that Hari’s grandmother had shown him in the wolf dream.

But it was his face that caught Hari’s eye. He knew that face. The two-legs’ eyes were white-gray, and his jet-black hair was swept to the side.

Despite the danger, he shifted in the manner only a few of the clan are able to do in the cold. He grew quickly taller and less hairy but no less muscled, and stood naked before the two-legs.

They stared at each other for a long moment. Hari felt an immense attraction washing over him. He saw in his summer form that this two-legs was beautiful. His own body responded to this… man… in an unexpected way, seeing and feeling things his winter form could not. Hari leaned forward and sniffed the stranger, drinking in his musk. It smelled enticing. Strangely familiar.

He sensed the two-legs stiffen, and to reassure, him, Hari licked the man’s neck.

The two-legs was trembling now like a young whelp, so he tried something else. He took the stranger’s face in his hands and kissed him.

The shaking slowed, and then the man was kissing him back. Hari was hungry for him, like a starving wolf at the end of a long, hard winter.

It is not the time for this, the keh whispered in his ear.

He broke contact and turned away, ashamed that he was betraying his Clan, and for lust. An emotion of his summer form.

“I’m sorry,” he said to the two-legs, without looking back. “It won’t happen again.” Even he was not sure if he meant Neru’s attack, or the kiss.

He shifted back into his winter form and loped off into the woods after his pack mates.

BuyLinks

Less Than Three Press

Amazon US

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Kobo

AboutTheAuthor

Scott has been writing since elementary school, when he and won a University of Arizona writing contest in 4th grade for his first sci-fi story (with illustrations!). He finished his first novel in his mid-twenties, but after seeing it rejected by ten publishers, he gave up on writing for a while.

Over the ensuing years, he came back to it periodically, but it never stuck. Then one day, he was complaining to Mark, his husband, early last year about how he had been derailed yet again by the death of a family member, and Mark said to him “the only one stopping you from writing is you.

Since then, Scott has gone back to writing in a big way, finishing more than a dozen short stories – some new, some that he had started years before – and seeing his first sale. He’s embarking on a new trilogy, and also runs the Queer Sci Fi (http://www.queerscifi.com) site, a support group for writers of gay sci fi, fantasy, and supernatural fiction.

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Winner’s Prize: E-copy of The Homecoming.

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TourSchedule

August 10:

Susan Mac Nicol

August 11:

Wicked Faeries Tales And Reviews

Diverse Reader

August 12:

Love Bytes Reviews

August 13:

Prism Book Alliance

Amanda C. Stone

August 14:

The Land of Make Believe

August 15:

Nephy’s World

August 16:

Man2ManTastic

August 17:

Loving Without Limits

August 18:

Divine Magazine

World of Diversity Fiction

August 19:

Evelyn Shepherd

August 20:

Eyes on Books

August 21:

Molly Lolly: Reader, Reviewer, Lover of Words

Carly’s Book Reviews

Review: The Homecoming by J. Scott Coatsworth

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.

 

TITLE: The Homecoming

AUTHOR: J. Scott Coatsworth

GENRE: LGBT Romance, Fantasy 

RATING: 2 ½ Stars

Buy Links: 

Less Than Three Press

Amazon US

All Romance eBooks

Kobo

SUMMARY: When his own world is destroyed, Aldiss and his crew barely manage to escape, leaving friends and lovers behind. What was meant to be an exploratory trip back to the home world turns into a mad dash for survival.

When they awaken from stasis on Earth, which was abandoned by humanity five centuries before, they must quickly learn about their new home. While exploring the region around the ship, Aldiss meets Hari, a shape-changer, whose people harbor secrets that might cost the crew their lives.

BUY LINKS:

REVIEW:

The Homecoming had a mixture of pros and cons. I think the biggest issue with the book was that it was too short. There’s a reason fantasy stories are long. It’s to allow ample room for world building and character development, to key points in the genre. The story didn’t allow for this. Important details and developments are crammed into a short number of pages, leaving you wanting (and needing) more.

Scott Coatsworth is talented. The writing was strong, with great imagery. The characters were intriguing and I was genuinely interested about the worlds, but for the majority of the story I was confused and wanting to know more—why did humans leave earth, what happened on their new planet, what are all these unique things they keep mentioning? How do wolves shift to humans? Why are there only certain wolves that do?

Aldiss and Hari had potential as characters, but the space the author allowed for them to grow and form a relationship, wasn’t enough. The romance felt rushed, especially since it doesn’t start till a good portion of the way through the story.

To put simply in terms of pros and cons:

Pros—Great writing. Interesting characters. A unique world.

Cons—A little too much tree imagery. Too short, not enough world & character development.

What I’d like is to see the author take the story and turn it into a full length fantasy. I’d be happy to see 90-110k of the world. It doesn’t even necessarily have to be about sex, but rather about the environment and the characters as a whole. If J. Scott Coatsworth did that, I’d happily throw my money at the story and buy it.

GUEST BLOG: Feast of Dreams by Christian A. Brown

A Remedy to Media Desensitization

After the Game of Thrones episode with Sansa’s ‘deflowering’, I decided that I needed to take a break from “gritty”, “edgy” programming. A cultural shift is happening and there seems to be nothing on the table that we cannot discuss or see anymore. I’m a strong supporter of the freedom of information, artistic-expression, and choice. That said, I worry—and personally suffer at times—from the overwhelming sensationalism that surrounds certain media. I understand why it is important to accurately portray violence and evil—I have often written divisive, dark material myself. Still, I feel that an over-immersion in this type of content separates us from the humanity that we need to objectively view and tackle rigid gender roles and issues of sexuality and violence. Live too long in the darkness and darkness is all you know. Sometimes it’s easier to just turn off my brain and watch something mindless, instead of having to worry about furthering—or dismantling—negative social constructs with the material I’m watching. I look to laugh. I look for something that doesn’t tax mind or morality.

A hearty serving of brain-pap was what I intended to feed myself when my partner and I flicked on Netflix the other night. While scrolling through our options, I saw a still of Jane Fonda grimacing at Lily Tomlin and was immediately intrigued. “Grace and Frankie,” their new show is called. I didn’t read the synopsis—I rarely do, even with books. I knew that there would be tomfoolery and hilarity with this duo. Grace and Frankie has a kind of magic to its casting and delivery that’s as rare and unexpected as the scent of vanilla while standing knee deep in a fly-buzzing quagmire of manure—my analogy on the current state of crass programming that gluts our media. I rarely, if ever, watch situation comedies. Only that’s not what Grace and Frankie is, entirely, and you realize that right from the opening sequence where all four of the major characters are introduced: Grace (Fonda), Frankie (Tomlin), Sol (Waterston), and Robert (Martin Sheen). The four are at a restaurant. First, only Grace and Frankie are present and we can sense their forced pleasantness around the other. They’re really only acquaintances on account of their husbands who work together. Said husbands, Robert and Sol, arrive for dinner; they’re nervous and fidgety. The men almost immediately come out to their wivesprofessing their love for one another. They have been involved in an affair for decades.

At this point, there are a number of ways in which a comedy tackling social issues of this depth—homosexuality, infidelity, trust—could go horribly off the rails. However, through the power of the performances and a passable script (which gets better as the show matures), the actors guide us through a great betrayal and shattering of relationships, and build something quite remarkable from the pieces. Reviews have been mixed on Grace and Frankie. I’ve read a few blurbs on the show’s ham-fisted characterizations but I’ve never found that to be the case. In the many episodes of Grace and Frankie that I’ve enjoyed, I’ve seen the show deal with addiction, ageism, unfulfilling sexual patterns, death, and of course all of the foibles and disasters that accompany the whole “our husbands are gay” quandary. I like how the writers and actors make less of a fuss about being gay and more of a fuss about the betrayal. That’s why people are usually angry when someone comes out—they think they should have known, they blame or project themselves into the situation. I enjoy how the show slowly paces the long process of healing between former partners, and interweaves that with the budding, beautiful friendship of the titular characters.

A show can’t do or be everything, and you can only impart so much wisdom through twenty minutes of comedic drama. I can forgive the show’s failing of not being life-altering satire. What Grace and Frankie does right, however, is to show human relationships at their most flawed and vulnerable, in a digestible way. You see, it doesn’t matter what the message is if people are too offended to heed it. Grace and Frankie shows people who have hope. It shows people who are old and still beautiful (inside and out). It has a number of lessons for us to learn if we are willing. Also, you get to see Fonda tripping balls on painkillers and peyote juice in the very first episode. That alone is worth the price of admission.

Most of all, I watch Grace and Frankie because I worry for a diet of the mind consisting solely of grim, dark gruel. Too much of one thing is never good. We need levity. We need thoughtful lightness in our emotional diet. A world fed only on Cersei’s machinations and Sansa’s cries makes for a starved and violent populace.


Feast of Dreams

Four Feasts Till Darkness

Book Two

Christian A. Brown

Genre: Fantasy Romance

Book Description:

As King Brutus licks his wounds and gathers new strength, two rival queens vow to destroy each other’s nations.

Lila of Eod, sliding into madness, risks everything in the search for a powerful relic, while Queen Gloriatrix threatens Eod with military might—including three monstrous technomagikal warships.

Far from this clash of queens, Morigan and the Wolf scour Alabion, hunting for the mad king’s hidden weakness. Their quest brings them face to face with their own pasts, their dark futures…and the Sisters Three themselves.

Unbeknownst to all, a third thread in Geadhain’s tapestry begins to move in the wastes of Mor’Khul. There, a father and son scavenge to survive as they travel south toward a new chapter in Geadhain history.

Available at Amazon Kindle and Paperback


EXCERPT

“Fine playing,” said Maggie.

The Silk Purse’s proprietor sat down at the table where the night’s entertainment fiddled with his lute’s strings. The bard glanced up and smiled at her with his eyes, although he kept on tinkering and tuning to the pitch of his voice. Maggie watched him for a spell. The man was mystifying. He was as distant as a dream one forgot and so far into himself, his music, or some secret obsession that she might as well have been elsewhere. He was certainly handsome, though, and in their short conversations today, he’d proven a capable and witty talker. She wanted a bit more of his talk.

“Will you be staying on another night?” she asked. “Before heading back to…”

She realized that in all their discussions, the man had never told her where he had come from—or where he was headed. Or much about himself at all. Even stranger, she couldn’t pin down how she’d made his acquaintance. Had he come knocking at the tavern door yesterday? Had he smiled a dashing hello with a lute over his back and a promise to play for coin? That seemed right.

“Would you like me to stay?” he asked suddenly.

He grinned from ear to ear and displayed his offer of companionship as confidently as the fox he reminded her of strutting around the henhouse and picking its prey. She could see him evaluating her body—her full breasts, strong hips, thick, wind-tossed hair, and comely face. She was as chipped and beautiful as a sculptor’s favorite piece. She wore her hardship plainly, but it had not dulled her beauty, and he seemed to appreciate her weathered self. As for the fox’s proposal, Maggie was a sensible self-made woman without need for a man. Once or maybe twice a year, she took one to her bed, but she never asked him to stay or even to break a morning fast with her. Whatever her hesitations, when the fox smiled—fiery and daring—she lit up and felt as warm as a woman sinking into a bath. A decision was made. A little outside of herself, she slid his hand over hers. She reinforced her agreement by standing up from the table and leading him past her tired staff as they cleaned up the night’s mess and rolled the drunks outside. The trip up the stairs and into her chambers was fuzzy. Suddenly, they were alone and kissing in the dark. He whispered of her beauty. “Like a cameo of Diasora,” he declared.

She wondered who Diasora was while he plucked his fingers upon and within her as though she were his lute. They tumbled into chairs, onto the carpet, and onto the bed. She wasn’t sure where they were half the time. She swallowed his hardness just as he ate and kissed the mouth between her thighs. Together they rolled and tumbled about in the dark and moaned in ecstasy. She rode him against the wall and swallowed his gasps as he spilled himself inside her. It was careless, and she should have known better. Apologetically and with a perverted grin, he cleaned out with his tongue what he had done, and passion carried her mind away again. Through the haze of their sex, she would remember his handsome smell—vanilla, subtle incense, and sweeter herbs such as marjoram. Sometimes he sang to her ears while playing the instrument of her body. She would most remember this—his passion and musicality.

When they finished, dawn had come. It cast its hard rays though the curtains and into their humid nest of sin. Maggie should have felt embarrassed or shamed even, but instead she snuggled into her lover’s taut flesh while he continued caressing her breasts. Milk drops, the bard called them, for their pendulous whiteness and succulence. She chuckled as he said it. She would have slapped any other man who made nicknames for portions of her anatomy.

“Where will you go?” she asked.

She knew this was a fleeting encounter. Men as artistic at loving as he were called to greater passions than women.

Alastair kissed her breast. “Well, I shall stay in Taroch’s Arm a while longer. I have another task to which I must attend. One more meeting after this.” He sighed and looked off with his multicolored stare to count the ceiling’s lines.

Maggie snuggled into him further until she realized what he’d admitted. “Wait! Meeting? Is that what this is? What is your aim?”

She leaped from the bed. Alastair went after her and backed her into a corner. He appeared stricken and white from regret. Rather brazenly, he kissed her so deeply she lost her breath. Although Maggie allowed it, she slapped him as soon as their lips parted. He grinned and rubbed his cheek. “What fire you have!” he said, adding sadly, “How much you remind me of a woman I once knew. Do understand. This is not how I had planned our parley. I am not ungrateful, though, for this turn of events. I would stay for a thousand kisses more if I could. However, my master is most demanding of my time.”

“Master?” she exclaimed.

“You are fortunate, Maggie. Most serve masters and destinies from which we cannot break. You have made so much of yourself without the hands of others. Despairingly, I must ask this of you. It’s a task you cannot refuse.”

I can, and I shall, she thought. No man, not even a roguish wanderer, could boss her around. Then the fox whispered a secret and those familiar names to her: Thackery, Caenith, Rowena, and Galivad. By the time he was done, she had no resolve to argue. She had only an unwanted urgency to pack, make quick arrangements for the Silk Purse’s managerial duties, and leave. She had no choice—not with so many lives at stake. While she busied herself about her apartment, the bard came to kiss her a final time, and they fell onto the bed. For all their grinding, they did not make love. Soon he stopped, studied her, and soaked in her beauty. Maggie closed her eyes. She would not watch him leave. When she was certain he had gone, she pulled her sturdiest boots from under her bed and put them on.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bestselling author of the critically acclaimed Feast of Fates, Christian A. Brown received a Kirkus star in 2014 for the first novel in his genre-changing Four Feasts Till Darkness series. He has appeared on Newstalk 1010, AM640, Daytime Rogers, and Get Bold Today with LeGrande Green. He actively writes a blog about his mother’s journey with cancer and on gender issues in the media. A lover of the weird and wonderful, Brown considers himself an eccentric with a talent for cat-whispering.

Links:

http://christianadrianbrown.com

https://twitter.com/AuthorChrisAB

https://www.facebook.com/ChristianAdrianBrown

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8422242.Christian_A_Brown

https://plus.google.com/u/0/105782095673393074893/about

EXCERPT: The Evolved by KT Webb

Title: The Evolved

Author: KT Webb

Genre: YA Fantasy

From Indie Author KT Webb comes a fantasy novel that challenges tradition. She artfully combines elements of mythology, theology, romance and adventure to create a fast paced and intriguing story.

Thatcher Kline is a ward of the state, a runaway and a loner. But he has a few secrets; secrets that make him a freak, secrets that have cut him off from any semblance of a family.

Hadley and Whitley Callaghan are the twin daughters of a powerful man. Their mother abandoned them when they were little, leaving them to be raised by an absent father and his security detail. They find themselves settling into small town life in South Dakota when they meet Kerr Mason and their world turns upside down.

Kerr is a bookworm, storeowner and a good judge of character. He likes to be alone; other people make him uncomfortable. When he meets the Callaghan twins, he feels a connection he can’t comprehend.

Distant relatives raised Nora Lowell after her parents died in a car wreck. She lives in a constant state of suspension as she waits to be joined by others like her. When Nora learns that the others are on their way, she feels like her life can finally begin.

Their paths were destined to meet; their lives were destined to be intertwined as those of their ancestors were. When they come together, mysteries are unraveled, prophecies are revealed and this group of misfits quickly discovers they are destined to save the world from the clutches of evil.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

KT Webb is a big city girl living in small town South Dakota. KT is a wife and mother of two young children. She works full time as a marketing and communications coordinator for a technology solutions company. KT is also an avid reader and prefers books that allow her overactive imagination to run wild. She published her first book, The Evolved as the first installment in The New Era Saga; the second book will be out in late 2015.

Links

www.ktwebbauthor.com 

https://www.facebook.com/KTWebb86 

https://twitter.com/_KT_Webb_


EXCERPT

As soon as they collided, she felt an immense pressure from all angles. She looked around wondering if they had created a book avalanche. As she reached for the book, the clumsy book store clerk reached a hand out to help her. Whitley felt an intense heat rise in her cheeks, she wanted to melt into the floor, and she was so embarrassed she had almost forgotten he was there. Her hand touched the book guys hand and the heat intensified. The room got dark, and light again, she thought she was about to pass out when the realization hit her, the lights were flickering. She hid her embarrassment easily by adding a little “senators’ daughter condescension” to her voice, her father would have been disappointed in her.

“You should really pay your light bill” She threw at him while the lights continued to flicker.

“Uh…what?” Was all he managed to force out.

Whitley pointed up and said, “Your lights. Do they do this often?”

“Oh, no.” His eyebrows knit together as he looked up at the ceiling. “In fact, I’ve owned this building for three years and it’s never happened before.”

“You own this place?” Hadley asked coming up behind him.

“Yeah, Kerr Mason, at your service.” He made a little bow and grinned, the light seemed to sparkle in his eyes.

“Hadley Callaghan, and the klutz you ran into is my sister Whitley.”

“Callaghan huh? As in Eric Callaghan. Senator Eric Callaghan? The presidential candidate?” Kerr asked.

“Yep, that’s our dad. Mr. President himself.” Whitley responded with just a hint of venom in her voice.

“Soft spot huh?” He stage whispered to Hadley.

She nodded, and giggled a little. Whitley rolled her eyes at her sister, she couldn’t believe Hadley hadn’t grabbed her hand and dragged her from the store. That’s what she usually did when she caught Whitley in situations she found embarrassing. She noticed Hadley narrowing her eyes at her and she wondered if her sister could sense how flustered she was.

“Whit, we should probably get going, I’m sure Kerr has to call an electrician or something to get this fixed.” Hadley looked around uncomfortably.

Kerr nodded and started to head to the back room when the jingling of the bell alerted him to another customer. The three of them turned to see who had come in, but couldn’t see anyone. The flickering lights made it hard to focus on anything. As Kerr tried to pass the girls to offer his assistance to the person who’d entered, he stumbled over one of the books still strewn across the floor. Whitley instantly reached to steady him. As soon as she made contact with him again, the lights instantly grew steadily brighter.

CHARACTER INTERVIEW with Alexis Duran | $10 GC GIVEAWAY!

I had the wonderful pleasure of speaking with Alexis Duran, author of Touch of Salarand was given the opportunity to speak with the protagonist of her latest story Betwixt and Between, Ian. Check out my interview and look below for information on how to win a Loose Id GC!


E: Hi Ian! Thanks for speaking with me today. You’re a reporter, right? How did you get into journalism? Were you always drawn to it, or was there something specific that brought you to this career?

I: Hi Evelyn, thanks for inviting me.  Yes, I’m a reporter for the Cosmic Eye, a rather trashy tabloid that covers paranormal activity in Seattle, but hey, they print the kind of stories I want to write so I can’t complain.  I got into journalism because ever since I was a kid I’ve been investigating and prying into strange occurrences no one could explain to my satisfaction, like the time the San Juan Islands Ferry disappeared on Puget Sound and turned up in the middle of Lake Washington. Bet you never read about that in The Seattle Times.

E: You’re really interested in the supernatural and magical. What exactly pulls you towards this strange and unique world? How long have you been interested in the occult or is this a new obsession?

I: I had a weird childhood.  My mom was off the grid and we moved around a lot, chasing after any rumor of magic that caught her fancy.  After she died mysteriously at sea chasing mermaids, I picked up the cause and yeah, I guess I became obsessed with proving she was right.  I always felt there was something about the magical realms that spoke to my soul.

E: So our fans want to know, what do you really think about Ezekiel?

I: Zeke?  Oh, he’s…um…well, I try not to think about him too much because when I do I get all flustered and confused and, uh, distracted.  Man, it’s hot in here. What was the question?

E: A lot of crazy things are going on right now, how do you cope with all of it? It has to be a struggle to balance your new life with your old. Any tips for our readers, in case they ever find themselves in a similar circumstance? You never know when another dark elf will come out!

I: Like the dormouse said, “Keep your head”.  Which is a lot easier said than done, especially when the dark elf is super hot and the sex is mind blowing and…wait. Scratch that last bit. I DO NOT recommend running after elves, no matter how cute they are. I suggest keeping your magical protections refreshed at all times and if you get ever a whiff of a hex brewing, run like hell.  You asked me how I cope and let me tell you, it’s a challenge.  People don’t adapt to magic and elves very well.  They get real squirrelly and make your life difficult, so it’s best to keep it all under wraps if you can, which goes against my reporter’s instincts.  It’s a fine line, deciding what to report and what to ignore.

E: The evil queen is after you, which has to be scary. What tips do you have for handling vicious elf queens?

I: Scary—that’s an understatement.  The fairy grapevine is saying the queen put a hit out on me and Zeke!  Luckily I’ve learned a lot since our first encounter.  It’s important to keep your connection to the realm of light strong, so don’t forget to perform your full moon rituals religiously and always keep a crystal or two on your person.  Never except an apple from a stranger.  Network with other magicals.  It’s good to have friends at your back.

E: After everything is said and done, what do you plan to do with your life? It’ll be hard to go back to the mortal realm after seeing something so fantastical. Are there any big plans for you and Ezekiel?

I: Actually, after all I went through in the dark realm, having good old ordinary ground under my feet is pretty comforting.  Living with an elf, especially a powerful one like Ezekiel, can really screw up your equilibrium.  While I recuperate and brush up on all this elf business, Zeke is back in the dark realm. Like Persephone, he has to go back to charge his dark energy.  Hopefully the dark queen won’t make a move before he returns.  When he does, we’re going to start searching for other Liosa (light elves).  I know they’re rare, but I can’t believe I’m the last one.


Excerpt

Ian’s first impression of the musician in the stairwell was that, yes indeed, he’d stumbled across a magical creature. Shadowed lines resolved into a dark-haired figure in a long, heavy coat and high leather boots. The outfit looked like something a down-and-out musketeer might wear, the coat being old-fashioned, fastened with two rows of brass buttons, and well-worn. His shoulder-length black hair hid most of his face. He was tall, and he posed in a jaunty fashion with one leg up, boot resting on a concrete block. His violin case sat open before him, and gleaming coins speckled the black velvet lining, though no one stopped in the few moments Ian stood watching.

The man radiated magical energy but otherwise looked perfectly normal except for the outfit, which could be considered normal among the odd musical and dramatic types that wandered the market. For a while he made no indication of being aware of Ian, but then with a flick of his head he tossed the hair out of his face and quickly moved his gaze from the violin to Ian. That was when Ian knew for sure the man was some sort of magician.

His eyes were smoky blue or stormy gray or some combination of dusty sapphire and silver. Whatever they were, they weren’t human. And he was ridiculously handsome like he should be fronting a rock band, not busking for quarters in a dark stairwell. This made Ian wonder if it was lust rather than magic drawing him in. Could just be an ordinary guy. He doubted it. The music was penetrating Ian’s soul, rooting him to the spot. He’d fallen for glamour casting 101.


BUY IT HERE

Loose ID: http://www.loose-id.com/edge-of-night-1-betwixt-and-between.html

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Betwixt-Between-Edge-Night-Book-ebook/dp/B010O6IP8S/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1435725258&sr=1-1

All Romance: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-betwixtandbetween-1842131-143.html


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alexis Duran was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. At the University of Oregon, her fascination with people and relationships led her to major in Sociology, but her main love has always been creative writing.  She’s worked in museums, fashion, finance and film production. Her favorite job so far was inventorying the collection of a haunted Victorian Mansion.  She’s had several short stories published in the mystery, horror and literary genres and is the author of the Masters and Mages erotic fantasy series.  Her fiction has won several awards including the Rupert Hughes Award from the Maui Writers Conference. She lives with one dog and four and half cats.  She’s currently working on the next Masters and Mages novel and several other erotic novellas.


GIVEAWAY

Alexis is giving away a $10 GC for Loose Id to one lucky reader. Just click on the rafflecopter to enter!

GUEST BLOG: Amanda Meuwissen | EBOOK GIVEAWAY!

Accepting the ‘Other’ in Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance

Urban fantasy and paranormal fiction, particularly paranormal romance, seem to be the hot tickets these days, and I’m no exception writing my trilogy: The Incubus Saga. We all know these genres are popular; they’re everywhere. And I’ve noticed that gay romance within these genres is just as common as the genres themselves, if not more so than in others.

The urban fantasy and paranormal genres are basically set in our modern world but with a touch of otherworldliness that is exciting while still somewhat believable. The characters live in mostly normal, modern towns, go to high school or have jobs, and drop the occasional familiar pop culture reference—their story could be real! Even if they’re also dealing with fairies, demons, and vampires.

So it makes it even easier to project our own insecurities or ideas of being oppressed and different onto something fantastical, without losing the reality of it. Take the X-Men! The way society treats them for being mutants can be a parallel for all sorts of things, like being gay, being a minority, being a part of the ‘wrong’ culture or class.

We all know the idea of the Other in fiction and in life. Someone who is different and therefore ostracized because they aren’t the norm. Like someone who identifies as GLBT. This is a serious issue, that society often sees such people as an Other at all, and it’s an important topic to discuss and to write about.

In Incubus, Changeling, and the now third installment of my series, Sidhe, I’m able to shed light on how people with non-heterosexual orientations are often seen as an Other, but I also mirror that with paranormal examples.

Sasha Kelly as an incubus is an Other who expresses throughout the story how sometimes he just wishes he was human, that he was normal, because of how others see him and how he often negatively sees himself. Jim Grier, the protagonist’s brother, also experiences this as a changeling. Nathan Grier is the Control, as it were, the Normal to counter their Other, and yet he experiences the exact same doubts in himself and challenges, showing readers that there is no Other. We’re all people, who feel and share a lot of the same things in our lives regardless of our differences.

When Nathan encounters more traditional bigotry in book 2, being attacked for having a romantic relationship with another man, there is no more parallel, it’s just a straight up mirror into our actual world. I love getting the opportunity to present the idea of the Other in so many varied ways, something that is really only possible by being set in genres that are a little fantastical, but also familiar.

I don’t think I’m alone in this. I think the X-Men and all the books and movies and TV shows out there in these genres are very purposeful windows into what the GLBT community (and many other communities) face, and because of that I’ve found urban fantasy and paranormal romance more welcoming even from authors and readers who would normally stick with only straight romance.

The whole point is to see the good in what’s different, in the Others we tell our tales about, and it just wouldn’t be the same if we forgot that from one story to the next. So I say, bring on more, and continue to be welcoming to all sub-genres, for all people.


Sidhe

The Incubus Saga

Book 3

Amanda Meuwissen

Genre: Urban Fantasy/Gay Paranormal Romance

Publisher: BigWorldNetwork.com, LLC

Date of Publication: July 2, 2015

ISBN:

ASIN: B00Y1WDVK4

Word Count: 180,000

Cover Artist: Mario Hernandez

Book Description:

Nathan Grier returns from the Veil a changed man. The consequences of his time with Malak, the dark sidhe king, and the deal made to free him may be more than he can bear. The weakening of the Veil and new enemies foretell of a greater battle still ahead.

With Nathan’s brother Jim now an Awakened changeling, and Nathan’s role in Malak’s plans finally revealed, Nathan’s love for fae hunter and incubus, Sasha Kelly, may not be enough to save him after all.

Available at Amazon


EXCERPT

“Nathan, it’s us,” Sasha tried to say calmly, inching closer with hands held up in seeming surrender.  Jim did the same.

Nathan knew he had to be a pitiable sight with that weakly held knife, but he’d use it, damn it, he would.  Somehow he’d use it.

His back hit the corner of the room.

“Playing that game?” Nathan scoffed. “I know better.  You haven’t been them in…in so long, I…I don’t even remember.  I don’t remember…”

“Nathan,” Jim pleaded, moving closer with one hand outstretched.  He looked so strange to Nathan, almost believable with those dark blue eyes so caring, so concerned.  “I can’t imagine what it must have been like, but it’s over.  You’re not in the Veil anymore.  We got you out.  You’re safe.  With us.”

“Please believe us, Nathan,” Sasha said. “Just look at us.”  He gestured to himself; to Jim.  Sasha too looked so normal, so honest and how Nathan remembered him.  “It’s really us.  You’re safe, Nathan.  Please recognize us…”

He recognized them.  But it had to be a trick.  Another damn trick like all the others.

“I gave you what you wanted,” Nathan said again.  He was so cold.  Nothing looked right.  Nothing felt right.  He couldn’t understand why this was happening when he had finally given in.

“Nathan, it’s us,” Sasha said more firmly, like maybe Nathan just couldn’t hear them.

“Malak took you and we’re so sorry,” Jim said. “We wish we could have gotten you out sooner, but you have to know us.  Please tell me you still know us…”

“Malak…?” Nathan glared at the false images before him, knife still held firm, warning them not to get closer.  “It had nothing to do with that, you know that, you know.  I didn’t…I didn’t go to the Veil.”

Jim and Sasha stopped their progression toward him, their eyes wide and disbelieving.  They shared a pained look, not knowing what to say until finally Jim spoke, slow and gentle.

“Nathan, don’t you remember?  Malak said killing the spriggan instead of banishing it broke the deal. That’s why we couldn’t win, why we couldn’t save you.  You went to the Veil, Nathan.  You’ve been in the Veil.  But you’re out now.  I don’t know what Malak did to you there, but we got you out.”

It almost made sense, as if a second reality were trying to push into Nathan’s mind: memories of what Jim was saying, memories he knew weren’t fabrications, and yet…how could he remember things happening two different ways?

The Veil?  Had that been the Veil?  To him it had felt like life.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amanda Meuwissen is the author of The Incubus Saga and The Collector. Amanda also serves as COO and Managing Editor for BigWorldNetwork.com. She oversees editing and series selection, and is featured as a narrator for several BWN series. Amanda lives in Minneapolis, MN, with her husband, John, and their cats, Helga and Sasha (no connection to the incubus of the same name).

http://bigworldnetwork.com/site/series/incubus

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6831429.Amanda_Meuwissen

https://twitter.com/MissSuperCube

http://crimsondomingo.tumblr.com

http://pinterest.com/crimsondomingo

https://www.facebook.com/TheIncubusSaga

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GIVEAWAY

1 copy of all three eBooks in the series to one lucky winner at end of tour. To enter, go to the rafflecopter.

INTERVIEW with Elizabeth Varlet | BOOK GIVEAWAY!

I had the pleasure of speaking with Elizabeth Varlet about her latest work. Check out our interview and an excerpt from Abounding Dawn. One lucky reader can win a free copy of the book!


E: First off thank you for speaking with me today. What inspired you to write Abounding Dawn? Have you always been a fantasy fan?

EV: As a teenager I preferred horror (R.L. Stine books were my fave) and borrowed copies of historical romances, actually. Although fantasy movies have held a place in my heart ever since one Christmas when my brother and I received a copy of Willow and spent the entire day watching it, over and over and over again.

I think my first real foray into fantasy fiction was Lord of the Rings. My then boyfriend (now husband) introduced me to the series during our first visit to Europe to meet his parents. There were days when we didn’t have much to do and his old battered copies were sitting on the bookshelf. So, I picked them up and started reading. I was instantly hooked. From there, I read authors like Tad Williams, Terry Brooks, and Robert Jordan. However, I always finished the books wishing there had been more romance.

I guess I’ve always been a tender-heart. Eventually, I decided to write my own epic fantasy where the romance would play a bigger role. I signed up for NaNoWriMo and set about doing just that. After ten years, that story has morphed into an entire series set in the universe of Sevenworlds. It is epic with a capital “E”.

E: The story is MMF. What made you decide to go this route for the story? Did you consider a love triangle at any point or did you know from the beginning that you wanted to do a poly relationship?

EV: I knew from the beginning that Abounding Dawn would be a ménage. It was originally titled (in my head) Josie and the Dragon Kings. This was most probably due to my addiction to all things M/M and MMF. I blame this on a lovely author, Denise Rossetti, whose Phoenix series was my introduction into the genre.

E: What came first for you, the characters or the plot? How did you go about crafting each character? Which character was harder for you to write?

EV: Abounding Dawn came about because where I live there is this massive, ancient looking doorway in a back alley not too far away from our apartment. Whenever I used to pass it, my imagination would run wild. It’s never open and I just kept wondering, what’s behind those doors? The world of Odren sprang forth in my mind and a heroine with a secret past and an adventurous heart.

Finn was the most difficult for me to write. He is, to me, the most complex. And his issues were deeply hidden at first. It took me a long time to figure him out. What was he afraid of? Why couldn’t he let go? What was keeping him from his HEA? Once I understood him, the story flew out of my fingertips.

E: Writing a poly relationship can be hard. There has to be a balance between all three characters, otherwise it can feel like one character is left out. How did you overcome the hurdle of making it a solid relationship between Brax, Finn, and Josie?

EV: I feel like the three of them need each other. Without Josie, Brax would never have been able to overcome the indoctrinated fears from his youth. Without Josie, Finn would never have been able to see himself as a worthy king. Without the love they all have for one another, they wouldn’t have had the courage or the power to defeat the obstacles in their way.

While I was writing, I kept a list of reasons why they each fell in love with the other two characters. Those lists were long so I won’t share them here, but I think having those reasons in the back of my head helped the relationships develop organically and realistically. At least, I hope so.

E: What would you say is the hardest part about writing an epic fantasy?

EV: My biggest challenge was creating a world that felt so alive it actually became another character. That is my favorite thing about reading fantasy books. The worlds always feel so dynamic and interesting. But man, that’s hard. It takes so much time and thinking and rethinking and more time. Still, somehow I learned to love it. Now, worldbuilding is one of best parts of my writing process.

E: An important part in fantasy stories is creating a believable world. Abounding Dawn is set in your Sevenworlds series. What was the hardest part about building the world? How did you overcome this and what kind of advice would you give for aspiring fantasy writers?

EV: Sevenworlds is a universe that consists of seven different worlds, one of them being Earth. In Abounding Dawn – Odren’s Unrest: Book One, I only explore one of those worlds, but others are mentioned occasionally.

I did a ton of research about worldbuilding when I first started. Many of the details came about through writing or brainstorming. Some came from inspirational images which I built cultures around. I started with my goal for the story. I knew I needed a culture where a triad royal family would be accepted as normal. From there I built the religion for the Amendal Empire. I knew I needed conflict, and what kind of epic fantasy would it be without some kind of war or battle? So I built other cultures and more religions which opposed the one I’d created for Amendal.

I think the most difficult part, for me, was the scope. So, my advice for newbie authors is to KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid). Unfortunately, I learned this the hard way. I mean SEVEN worlds? How crazy am I? 😉

E: Can you tell us about any future projects you may have?

EV: I’m writing the rest of my Odren’s Unrest series which features Josie’s long lost siblings. Imperious Shroud – Odren’s Unrest: Book Two, is about her oldest brother and the two people he teams up with to solve a mystery plaguing Odren.

I also have a contemporary M/M series called Sassy Boyz in the works about a group of androgynous male strippers in NYC who struggle through dark pasts and bad choices before they can find their HEAs. The first book, Damaged, is completed and submitted to agents as we speak.

E: Lastly, do you have any pearls of wisdom you’d like to share with our readers? Any advice for aspiring writers who are trying to break into the market?

EV: I would like to encourage readers who are unfamiliar with M/M or MMF to give the genre a chance. I never imagined I’d enjoy it, but now I’m addicted. It has been a very eye-opening experience.

For authors, just keep at it. If you have a story in your head bursting to come out, write it. Sign up for writer groups, join a class, and take workshops, read books. Especially, read books! If you set your mind to something the only thing that can stand in your way is yourself.


EXCERPT

Bind the Chalice and harness the dragons… Josie returns to her birthplace and is named the Chalice, destined bride to Amendal’s two kings. But no matter how attracted she is to both men, the fate of the kingdom is not her problem.

With their nation threatened by war, the kings, Brax and Finn, must summon their mythical dragon forms to save their people. But with Brax tormented by a lifelong indoctrination against same-sex coupling, and Finn crippled by the fear of being unworthy, a true union seems impossible. Without it, they are left with no weapon to stop the tide of death.

When the final battle erupts, the kings fight to protect their fleeing citizens, but their army is a meager defense against the enemy’s dark magick.

An impending war. Two kings desperate to save their people. A centuries old legend. And the woman who unites them all.


BUY LINKS

Loose ID – http://www.loose-id.com/odren-s-unrest-1-abounding-dawn.html

Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Abounding-Dawn-Odrens-Unrest-Book-ebook/dp/B00YB4YYJO/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

ARe – https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-aboundingdawn-1815110-340.html

Kobo – https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/abounding-dawn


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Elizabeth Varlet is a nerd at heart and spends way too many hours binging on episodes of her favorite television shows. If you love Doctor Who, Supernatural, Stargate, Star Trek, Sherlock, or Firefly you are already her best friend.

She started writing stories in high school and hasn’t stopped. Now, her characters like to get frisky under the covers – or the stars, they’re not picky. She’s a thirty-something, newly married, world traveler who devours books like they were candy.

To contact Elizabeth, send her an email to elizabethvarlet@gmail.com. Or follow her on any of her social media sites.

Website – http://www.elizabethvarlet.com/

FB Author Page – https://www.facebook.com/EVarletAuthor

Twitter – https://twitter.com/ElizabethVarlet

Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/elizabethvarlet/

FB Reader Group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/ElizabethsEntourage/


GIVEAWAY

Want to win a copy of Abounding Dawn? Just go to the rafflecopter for a chance to win!