Friday, April 29, 2016

Warrior Queen-excerpt

Posted by: Shona Husk
Last year I had the chance to get involved in a fantasy romance project The Skeleton Key Series. It had been a while since I’d written a fantasy romance and I had never written a portal fantasy so I jumped on the chance. On May 15 the books will start going up for pre-order but for now here is a sneak peek at the start of my book Warrior Queen (shapeshifting elves, a siege and an ex-cop hero)

If you want to get the heads up when I have a new release you can follow me on Amazon: amazon.com/author/shonahusk

Or join my new release newsletter: http://mad.ly/signups/119074/join

You can find Warrior Queen on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27590442-warrior-queen
~~~

Bryce stumbled and put his hand on the letterbox. He checked for mail, shoved the couple of envelopes into his jacket pocket, then dug around for his keys before he attempted the stairs.

The keys fell from his hand and into the grass that needed cut about three weeks ago.

“Damn it.” Keeping one hand on the letterbox to steady himself, he felt around. His fingers closed on a key. But not his. He was about to toss it back, but he didn’t need it wrecking the lawnmower, so he put it in his pocket with the mail.

He felt around in the grass again and found his keys, now substantially lighter without his work keys. A wave of sadness hit him. He’d been a cop since he’d left school. Twelve years. He’d liked his job, but he just couldn’t do it any longer.

With a wrench of will, he started up the stairs.

The mail and the glass key fell out of his pocket onto the second step. The porch light came on and the odd key he’d picked up glinted in the light. At one end was a skull. The whole thing was about two inches long, and at the other end were two teeth sticking out to be put into the lock.

Weird. What kind of lock did a glass key fit into?

However, he picked it up instead of leaving it there.

Two more steps, and he fumbled for the key to his front door, juggling the envelopes and the glass key and his keys. His fingers kept finding the damn skull. He dropped it on the doormat, then everything fell out of his hands. His wallet joined in, flopping open on the mat.

“What the hell.” He wiped his hands on his pants and picked everything up, got the right key and put it in the door. Only when he turned it he realized it was actually the glass skeleton key. He tried to pull it out before it snapped in the lock, but the key turned and his door swung open.

A wave of heat and something sweet and spicy washed over him.

He wrinkled his nose and stepped back. He hadn’t left the heater on and his house kind of smelled like when his ex was cooking curry. What was the spice she had she used? Cardigan? Cardamom? He could hear talking, but couldn’t make out the words. He was damn sure that he hadn’t left the radio on.

He reached to his side. No gun.

“Shit.” Had he got the right house?

He closed the door and looked around. The mosaic house number tile his ex had made hung on the front door. Hot pink and black. He’d never gotten around to throwing it away.

He pulled the tile off and tucked it under his arm, then took the key out of the lock and stared at it. How had it opened his door?

His brain couldn’t pull the thoughts together.

Had it opened his door?

This time he deliberately put the glass in and gave it a turn. The door opened and he pulled the key out, fisting it in his hand. He knew better than to leave a key, even a weird one, in the door. Again with the heat and strong scents of spices and something else. It was too dark to see what was inside.

His house was inside.

His house didn’t smell like that.

He hesitated not sure if he should go in or call the cops. He was a cop, an ex-cop anyway, and what was he going to report? My house smells funny and I found an odd key?

No. He was going to go in and go to bed. Bryce didn’t step forward though. Something was wrong. He was drunk. That is what was wrong. He wavered on his feet as the world began to tilt, then he stumbled across the threshold. He tried to grab the door frame but his fingers missed.

He managed to put his hands out so he didn’t land on his face.

There were no cold tiles beneath his palms like there should have been. Instead, he felt dirt. Warm, hard packed dirt.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Leap

Posted by: Joshua Roots
“It seems to be a law of nature, inflexible and inexorable, that those who will not risk cannot win.” – John Paul Jones

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” – Wayne Gretzky.

Ask any artist and to a one they’ll tell you that their hobby/profession is crammed with doubt. Can I do this? Can I finish it? Will anyone like it? Will I like it? The very nature of art carries with it a significant level of risk because you’re putting yourself into a product that is presented to the masses. And, to be honest, the masses can be pretty judgmental at times.

Finding the courage to take that kind of risk, however, can come from many different sources.

Recently, the chorus I sing with had the chance to perform Andrew Lippa’s “I Am Harvey Milk”. Considered a “concept opera”, the piece chronicles major milestones of the late politician’s life. At one point near the end, Anne Hutchinson, from Act 1, comes on stage to provide Harvey encouragement.

"Leap.
You may get wet.
You may get lost.
You may get high.
But leap and you never have to die.”

Powerful words, but also excellent advice for writers. Yes, it requires planning, honing, and editing, but writing also requires faith. In yourself and in your story. More important, you have to believe in what you’re writing and your ability to do so before you write it. Then you have to make the leap and actually do it.

There are a lot of people out there living with Could Have. Could have been a gymnast. Could have been a dancer. Could have been an accountant. Could have married that person. Dreams, ideals, hopes, all left behind because it required a leap of faith they couldn’t make.

Then there are those who leaped once only to crash and burn. A rejection letter on a manuscript, a poor review for their role in a play, laughter from those around them as they stumbled asking someone out on a date. Rather than “climb that climb” once again, they set aside their dream for safer ventures. But they look back from time to time and think “Could have.”

Art is scary. Then again, so are all things worth doing in life. It’s the scythe that separates living from merely existing. Those moments that become seared in your mind, both good and bad, come with inherent risk . From writing to dancing to telling someone you love them, every step along the way is marked with the possibility of success or failure. But being willing to make that leap, to risk the consequences or benefits that come with it, define who we are.


You won’t know what you can become if you don’t leap. 






Bio:




Joshua Roots is a car enthusiest, beekeeper, and storyteller. He enjoys singing with his a cappella chorus, golf, and all facets of Sci-Fi/Fantasy. He's still waiting for his acceptance letter to Hogwarts and Rogue Squadron. He and his wife will talk your ear off about their bees if you let them.

Paranormal Chaos, the final book in The Shifter Chronicles, is available wherever digital books are sold.


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The View from the Cheap Seats

Posted by: Jeffe Kennedy
We're celebrating the release of THE DEVIL'S DOORBELL this week, so I'm sharing this terrific wordswag that contributor Megan Mulry made for me.

I think it fits here because, hey, the supernatural!

It's been super fun working on this project with these amazing other authors I love - both as friends and as writers. It's also the first self-published group project that I've spearheaded. I contributed to another group anthology, and self-published some novellas and backlist stories, but not a "bigger" project like this.

And it's super gratifying to see it sitting at #5 in erotic anthologies this morning, the day after release!

It's interesting to be getting into self-publishing at this point in my career. As many of you know, I started with digital-first presses, like Carina Press, which brought many of us here, and moved from that into more traditional publishing. These days, as with many authors in traditional publishing, I'm moving more and more into a hybrid state. I'm putting eggs into as many baskets as I can.

Which, I'm frankly glad to have the many opportunities writers do today.

The other day, though, a friend made an exasperated comment to me about how she advised me two years ago to self-publish instead of doing digital first. And it reminded me of this moment, from The American President, a movie that's a wonderful romance, too:



Huge thanks to Adam Sass for making the gif for me!

I love that moment when Michael Douglas, as President Shepherd, asks, "Is the view pretty good from the cheap seats?" Now, I'll caveat that Martin Sheen, as AJ, happens to have a great comeback here. He's a kingmaker, an archetype I love. He replies that if he wasn't the one in the background, giving advice, then Shepherd would still be the most popular professor at the University of Wisconsin.

Fair enough. The moral being, the advice of the kingmaker should always be heeded.

But, also, we're all kings of our own careers and no one gets to second-guess the decisions we make. Advice is one thing. Hindsight is another.

There's a tendency in publishing - perhaps in all things, but I see it a lot in publishing these days - to look for the Magic Bullet. Many espouse the One True Way. Maybe this is a side-effect of the gold rush syndrome. It's easy to look at the very successful outliers and say, "See? THAT is how you do it." Or worse, "THAT is how *you* should have done it."

Which is complete and utter bullshit.

Even if I had done exactly what, say, Marie Force did, there is no guarantee I'd be making the money she is. In fact, I feel it's a sure thing that I would not be, because I'm not her and I don't have her same path in life. Nor is my path hers.

I think the problem is that people want to reduce life decisions to a series of formulas. If you put in x, add y, you'll get z. But this thinking is reductive to a damaging extreme. The universe is a complex, complicated and delightfully random place. Nobody knows the meaning of life or what we're here to learn.

I'm pretty sure, though, that regardless of religious or philosophical persuasion, we can all agree that the meaning of life is not to make as much money as possible. Which means that God, or Tao, or the Universe, or what-have-you, does not set our paths according to rewarding us with vast fortunes. That may come our way, but usually that's part of teaching us some other lesson.

Which is why I always think of the view from the cheap seats. It's easy for other people to sit back and say what we should do. But all we can do is make the best decision that we can at the time. I made my decisions for good reasons and I regret nothing. Even the directions I've taken in life that felt like "wasted" time or dead ends have all contributed to who am I today. I put a lot of faith in that.

Besides - all in all - there's worse things than being the most popular professor at the University of Wisconsin.


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

You Write...What?

Posted by: Kelly Jensen
When I tell people I’m a writer, most want to know what I write. Depending on my audience, I’ll answer with science fiction, romance, or sometimes science fiction romance. I rarely label what I write as gay romance.

It’s not that I’m embarrassed by what I write. I’m not. That’s my name on the cover of every book. Not a pseudonym. I love my guys and the stories I tell about them. I want people to know these books are mine. But getting into the gay thing can be an awkward conversation starter, particularly if you don’t really know the person you’re talking to.

My deflection doesn’t always have good results. I have told someone I write science fiction only to have them answer, “My nephew LOVES science fiction, what’s the name of your book?” 

The nephew in question is eight. I’d love to imagine an eight year old reading a story about two men who reclaim their love in the aftermath of a devastating war. But we kill a lot of people in the Chaos Station series. And then there’s the sex. On the page sex. Lots of man parts, described in sexy detail.

My books are not appropriate for an eight year old.

So I tack on the caveat, “Oh, well, they’re romance as well.”

Everyone knows science fiction romance is all about space barbarians needing to have sex with every woman on the planet in order to save the universe, right? Well, everyone I’ve ever mentioned my books to does.

Except for the woman who told me, “My husband likes sex! I’m sure he’d love your books.”

“But does he like reading about sex between men?”

Honestly, I really should just tell the truth from the beginning. “My books are gay romance. One series is science fiction, the others are mostly contemporary romance. I’ve got one coming out this summer that’s paranormal. A mystery writer adopts a cursed house cat shifter from the local shelter.”

That, right there, is the point where I lose them again.

So is what I’m writing really that weird? That difficult to explain?

My friends get it—or simply don’t care what I write. They’re happy I’m published because I’m happy to be published and they buy my books because I’m published. Some of them actually read them and then tell me embarrassing stories about what they thought gay sex was all about, and how their perceptions have been changed—and that's a good thing.

Others flat out ask the follow up question. “But why are you writing gay romance?”

There’s no simple answer to that one. Well, actually, there is. I write science fiction because I love science fiction. I write romance because I adore love stories.

It gets a bit more complicated from there.

I write gay romance because I will never tire of putting men in situations where they must confront their emotions—regardless of whether they do it with a grunt or over a romantic, candlelit dinner. I write it because the stories in my head at the moment often have two male protagonists and, because I’m in love with love, they usually end up together.

But here’s the thing. I’m not really writing men. Or just gay men. Yes, my characters are male and some of them identify as gay. Some are bisexual, some of them don’t care to put a label on it. I see them as people, though. I’m writing stories about two people falling in love.

Some of these stories are set in space; some of them include guys who can shift shape into house cats (and squirrels. I’m not looking forward to explaining that one). They’re about college students and forensic accountants. Travel agents and art appraisers. Mystery writers, soldiers and property developers. I’ve got a baker and a numbers guy in there. They’re young, old and in between. Some have broken hearts; some have never been in love. More than a few have bit of a belly because I kinda like a little belly on a guy. Lots of them wear glasses. An extraordinary number have blue eyes because I’m a sucker for blue eyes.

I don’t set out to write gay men (or bisexual men, or otherwise), I’m just writing guys. And, often, the stories aren’t about their orientation. The plumbing on the object of their affection is important as the colour of their hair (until we get to the sex).

My stories are about guys being, well, guys. Falling in love—and fending off a marauding alien or two. So, when people ask me what I write, I start with that, because, honestly, that’s how I think of my books. I write science fiction and I write romance. Sometimes I combine the two.

~*~*~*~

Phase Shift, the final book in the Chaos Station series (co-written with Jenn Burke) releases next week! You can read Chapter One on our website. There, you can also sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date with release news, giveaways and free extras.

Phase Shift

Book five of Chaos Station

Zander and Felix’s relationship has always pushed boundaries—personal and professional alike—but their love and commitment is stronger than ever. So strong that Zander’s ready to ask commitment-shy Felix the question of a lifetime when he’s interrupted. The Chaos is being hacked, and crucial, top secret information about the project that created Zander—and his fellow super soldiers—has been leaked.

Neither man could have expected the enormity of what’s discovered at the end of the data trail: an entire colony of super soldiers run by the very doctor who changed Zander’s life forever. And now she needs them both—Zander to train her new crop of soldiers, and Felix’s new crystalline arm to stabilize their body chemistry.

With help from the unlikeliest of allies, Zander, Felix and the Chaos crew must destroy the project and all its ill-gotten information. But when the team is split up and Felix is MIA after a dangerous run, galactic disaster is a very real possibility…and Zander may have missed his chance to ask for forever.


~*~*~*~

About Kelly

If aliens ever do land on Earth, Kelly will not be prepared, despite having read over a hundred stories of the apocalypse. Still, she will pack her precious books into a box and carry them with her as she strives to survive. It’s what bibliophiles do.

Kelly is the author of a number of novels, novellas and short stories, including the Chaos Station series, co-written with Jenn Burke. At lot of what she writes is speculative in nature, but sometimes it’s just about a guy losing his socks and/or burning dinner. Because life isn’t all conquering aliens and mountain peaks. Sometimes finding a happy ever after is all the adventure we need.

Visit Kelly Online:




Monday, April 25, 2016

Here Be News

Posted by: Eleri Stone

New Releases


MINE UNTIL MIDNIGHT
Sci-Fi, Steampunk, Western Romance
by Linda Mooney
Word Count: 39.9K
$2.99 e
(and coming soon to print!)


He gambled and won something more valuable than money. He won love.

It started off as a little R&R on a backwater planet. All Ruce Haulk wanted was a place where he could breathe some fresh air, have a stiff drink, and perhaps while away a few hours at a game of chance. He should have known better. Before he's aware, he's embroiled in the middle of a flesh-peddling scheme, and the woman he "wins" is someone he never expected to find.

The moment Remi Clysonne saw the stranger take on Yarnell and his men single-handedly, she knew he was her only chance at escaping. She doesn't blame him when he doubts her claim that she's there to bring Yarnell to justice. What's more, she suspects there may be another reason why he's reluctant to offer aid.

What should have been a brief layover quickly becomes an all-out struggle for survival as Haulk and Remi battle their way out of an increasingly tangled mess. But the secrets they're keeping from each other may tear them apart before they manage to get away from this world and to safety.

Warning! Contains a clothes swap, levitating locomotives, watery soup, a pretty silver star, thousand-degree heat, attack dirigibles, and two people totally unprepared for whatever the future might hold for them.


Link: http://lindamooney.com/MUMidnight.htm


* * * * *


It's not magic, but it's delicious!

THE DEVIL'S DOORBELL, out April 26!

A woman’s pleasure is a dangerous thing. A primal appetite that, once awakened, can never be sated. A secret that gives power to those who know it. A magic that, once unleashed, can never be contained.

 Some say the clitoris is the devil’s doorbell, set to summon him forth at the merest touch… 

It’s time to ring the bell. Here are seven tales of sexual empowerment and erotic defiance, featuring the hottest storytellers of erotic fiction.

 Anne Calhoun
Christine d’Abo
Delphine Dryden
Megan Hart
Jeffe Kennedy
Megan Mulry
M. O’Keefe

 Exact Warm Unholy, by Jeffe Kennedy

 Tonight my name is Mary… Or is it? Sometimes she’s Tiffany or Syd or Bobbi. But whatever face she wears, she returns to the same bar, to find a new man and seduce him, safe in the knowledge that no one will recognize her. Until one man does.


What They're Saying... 

 “In a world that works hard at limiting women’s choices through draconian laws and social pressures this collection of stories is different. The women in these stories are not waiting around for someone to show up and show them a good time. Nope. These women are going for it. Erotica featuring empowered women? Bring it.”

 ~Writing While Distracted

 “Fans of anthology will have gratification of seven erotic short stories by various diverse best-selling authors. These tales had unique plots which made the readers think. Honoring women’s bliss in passion.”

 ~Romantic Fanatic




A werewolf in London romance.


DOCTOR WOLF out April 27


Liz Jekyll might be the most wanted werewolf in London—wanted for dating, that is—but she doesn’t take it as a compliment. In fact, it’s a wretched nuisance because Liz has a vital secret to hide. What she needs is a disinterested werewolf who could pretend to be her boyfriend.

Carson Erving would be very interested in Liz if it weren’t for Gentiana Aeternae. The botanist werewolf from Alabama has found the legendary Elixir Gentian, and ruthless people will do anything, kill anyone, to get their hands on a plant that can grant an extra hundred years of life.


As danger explodes around them, two very independent werewolves will have to do the unthinkable and rely on one another. But when Liz’s secret is revealed, who will die?

Doctor Wolf is currently a special release price of 99c (US dollars).  Buy now! at Amazon. Free to borrow for Kindle Unlimited subscribers.







Saturday, April 23, 2016

In Memoriam

Posted by: PG Forte
I don't know about the rest of you, but 2016 isn't even half over yet and I am DONE with all the loss and grief. All the death....

Seriously. I'm afraid to ask who's next. Go home '16: you're drunk.

Originally, I'd planned to blog about my experiences in Las Vegas last week at this year's RT Booklovers Convention. But what happened in Vegas is just going to have to stay in Vegas--or at least in my head--for a few more weeks. Thursday's news about Prince has left me too depressed to think about the future right now. So instead, I'm going to post a scene from the beginning of Ashes of the Day. It seems more fitting.  

December 31, 1999
New Year’s Eve
Damian leaned against the railing of the second-floor balcony and cast a jaded eye over the crowded ballroom below. The decorations were a tad overdone, in his opinion. Gaudy gold-and-silver Mylar festooned every surface—the bar, the tables, even the walls. The glare all but blinded him. Overhead, a billowing mass of champagne- and platinum-colored balloons were tethered to the ceiling, awaiting the stroke of midnight, when they’d be released. The last day of the year had dwindled down to the final hour. Y2K was on the verge, that ticking time bomb that would shortly send the world hurtling back toward the dark ages…or not.

Either way, Damian could not find it in himself to be concerned, or even very interested, in the fate of the world. The new millennium, as most people counted it, was about to begin. For the time being, however, it was still 1999 and the throng of people gathered on the dance floor was certainly partying like it.

Exhibiting far more enthusiasm than skill, the crowd sang loudly along with Prince’s signature anthem as they bounced and gyrated to the music. The once-familiar song struck a bittersweet chord in Damian’s heart and he closed his eyes as nostalgia overwhelmed him. How many times had he danced to this same record back when it was first popular? He didn’t feel even remotely like dancing tonight. Hadn’t felt like dancing in years.

Memories rose in his mind of a supple young body pressed tight against his own, warming his back, more often than not. He remembered arms holding him possessively close, sweet lips dropping kisses all along his cheek, his neck, his shoulder…

He remembered the feel of strong hands splayed on his hips, guiding him as they moved together, thrusting, grinding, taunting each other with graphic reminders of everything they’d be doing together later in bed.

Oh, how he longed to feel that way again, careless and wanton, desired, loved. Oh, how he longed to hear that sexy voice whispering in his ear. To feel those muscular arms encircling his waist or his neck, or wrapped around his shoulders. To see that smile, hear that laugh, just one more time.


Knowing those wishes would never come true, that those days of joy and innocence were lost to him, gone for good, never to return, did nothing to improve his mood.



Friday, April 22, 2016

I'm sensing that...you want to read this blog post. Does that make me psychic?

Posted by: Angela Campbell
From the archives: A version of post originally appeared on Here Be Magic in 2012, but it's still relevant to my books, so I thought I'd update and share it. Enjoy! - Angela

***

These days I’ve got psychics on the brain, because I'm finishing up another book in my psychic detectives series.

I’m fascinated by all of the research I’ve been doing into the topic of psychics and psychic abilities. Do I believe in psychics? Well, sure. I wouldn’t be writing about them otherwise. But I’ve also grown pretty skeptical about them over the years. Like pretty much everyone on planet earth, I’d love to have advance knowledge of events so I can exploit it to win the lottery, find my soul mate, know when to go to the doctor, and know what career path is going to reap happiness and success. But I also think there are probably a lot of charlatans out there taking advantage of people desperate to know that information in these uncertain times.

Okay, I admit it. I’ve used the services of a psychic in the past, uh, once or twice — when I was much younger and curious. This one psychic had been featured on some forensics TV shows, so I figured that gave him some legitimacy. He was dead on about some things, and dead wrong about some others. For instance, he knew I was a writer — he could tell by my erratic finances, which he said were always up and down (snort) — but he also told me I’d go to New Orleans during Mardi Gras, get inspired to write a book about the place which would later get published, and oh yeah, I’d also meet my future husband while there. He would be older. The psychic thought my future hubby's name was John. The kicker was this was supposed to happen within 10 months — and that was about 10 years ago. Still single. Never been to New Orleans either. John, are you reading this? Call me.

A few years ago, I was given a real "fluff" assignment at the newspaper where I worked. A pet psychic had written a book we were going to feature for Halloween on our “pets” page. I was set to interview her by phone. Well, all righty then. I called her — she was, I think, based in Los Angeles — and one of the first things I asked her was, “Can you offer any proof to our readers that you’re psychic?” She invited me to email her a photo of my cat, which I did while she held on the line. A few minutes later, she freaked me the heck out when she said something that amounted to, “Your cat says you’ve been going through a lot of papers lately — like thumbing through papers, throwing them in the floor, making a mess in her space. She wishes you would stop. She says, 'Tell her to stop throwing junk in MY floor.'” At the time, I had been in de-clutter mode at home, going through old boxes of college papers and newspapers and junk I had kept for whatever reason. Okay, that was eerie. She continued on with my free reading. She said my cat was showing her a photograph of a man placed on the wall beside where my cat liked to take naps, and he was dressed in a policeman’s uniform. Was he my husband? Because my cat really loved him. Uh...actually I think she was referencing an old photo of my dad placed in the hallway. He'd been a cop for 32 years, and he was in uniform in the picture I'd framed. And yes, my cat LOVED him because he fed her lots of kitty treats whenever he saw her.He was putty in her paws.

Funny thing is, my dad’s name is John. Coincidence? Or just weird? Hmmm.

What about you? Do you believe in psychics? Have you ever visited one? Tell me your stories in the comments below. You never know. They might inspire another book of my series!

***
Angela Campbell is the author of the psychic detectives series from Harper Impulse. Learn more about her and her books at www.AngelaCampbellOnline.com. Looking for a psychic mystery that's a little spooky? Here's a recommendation (it's Book 2 in the series, but it can be read as a standalone, and it's currently only 99 cents!):

Something wicked this way comes…

All homicide detective Dylan Collins wants is a few hours of pleasure to take his mind off of the case haunting him. A serial killer is stalking the streets of Charleston, SC – a killer who calls himself The Grim Reaper. When the woman he'd just spent the night with turns up and offers her services as a psychic consultant on the case, his ardor quickly cools. Last thing he needs is to get tangled up with a con artist.

It doesn't take long for Dylan to realize Alexandra King is the real deal – and the killer's next target. Dylan's protective instincts battle his reluctance to get too involved with a woman he isn't sure he can trust. As they get closer to finding the killer, they also grow closer to one another, but will Alexandra's secret agenda destroy their chance at happiness – if the killer doesn't strike first?

Amazon |  Amazon UK | Barnes and Noble |  Nook (UK) |  iBooks |  Google Play |  Kobo 
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