Thursday, July 31, 2014

Guest Author Andrew Q. Gordon on The Allure of Fantasy

When Andrew Q. Gordon asked me to beta read his latest fantasy story, I knew I was in for a great ride. And boy, was I right! His story is lovely and magical and... let him tell you what's wonderful about this genre and why we both love Fantasy so much.

And yes, I love this cover! His story is available through the MM Romance group on Goodreads. It will also be available soon as a free download HERE.

So here's Andy...

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For the past few years, the MM Romance group on Goodreads has organized the 'Don't Read in the Closet' [DRitC] event. Readers find a picture that speaks to them. They explain what the picture means and then ask an author to write the story. The stories are posted on both Goodreads and on a website where readers can download the story for free in whichever format they choose. There were a wide mix of things, but when you toss out things I don't like—BDSM (not IRL or in fiction), Gay For You, (don't get me started), Tentacle (I so don't get this, sorry to all who do)—the remainder were contemporary romance or Sci-fi/Fantasy/Paranormal. I went with Fantasy.

Here's the prompt I selected: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1729208-dear-author-ilona---claimed-by-andrew-q-gordon

Fantasy—especially high fantasy over urban fantasy—is a niche market. LGBT/MM Romance Fantasy is even more so. So in an event that is a platform for writers to show off their work, why choose the niche within a niche? Why not use the event to reach out to all those readers who for whatever reason, don't like Fantasy fiction? Because I like Fantasy.

Maybe I have a god complex and want to create my own worlds. More likely is that I have aspirations of being a wizard, of flying on a dragon's back or racing the wind riding on a unicorn. I like to see how the writer creates her world and how she integrates all the disparate parts she's dreamt up. Characters need to stay in character—it's simplistic, yet true. A total douche bag who suddenly changes into a great guy for no reason and remains that way ruins a story.

In Fantasy, more than just the characters need to remain true to themselves. The world must stay in character too. Time travel can't be so available that your professor can loan you one so you can take extra classes as a 13 year old, yet be unavailable for other more important events like preventing atrocities by a dark lord. A wizard can't solve every problem with a snap of his hand, but then be flummoxed and unable to do the same with the stories main conflict.

Reading a good Fantasy story, one where the author has created a rich world with diverse characters and workable limitations, always leaves me satisfied. I love to see a creative twist, an unforeseen danger, or a believable challenge mixed in with the same interpersonal dynamics all good contemporary novels have.

For me, Fantasy isn't limiting, it is encompassing. All the elements of a good contemporary novel can be woven around the magic, swords and unicorns on the pages of a Fantasy novel. It is two for the price of one. What's not to like with a bargain like that?

Ashes of Life, By Andrew Q. Gordon


  Ashes of Life Cover Final 3.4 When Sergeant Thane asked his best friend and second in command, to go riding, he had no idea how much his life would change. Taken by his horse to a forest that shouldn't exist, Thane hears a cry for help.

Answering the plea, Thane releases a phoenix—Eraq—from his centuries long imprisonment. Eraq's first act of freedom is to claim Thane as his own.

But the phoenix is more than he appears. A mage-shifter, Eraq sets his sights on the man who answered his call for help. Thane returns the interest despite learning that his act of liberation has set in motion events that will change the world.

When he learns his relationship with Eraq places him at the center of events beyond his understanding, Thane refuses to abandon the man he's come to love. Even if it hurtles him toward certain death.  

About the Author:

Andrew Q. Gordon wrote his first story back when yellow legal pads, ball point pens were common and a Smith Corona correctable typewriter was considered high tech. Adapting with technology, he now takes his MacBook somewhere quiet when he wants to write. He currently lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his partner of eighteen years, their young daughter and dog. In addition to dodging some very self-important D.C. 'insiders', Andrew uses his commute to catch up on his reading. When not working or writing, he enjoys soccer, high fantasy, baseball and seeing how much coffee he can drink in a day and not get the shakes.

Social Media Links:

You can find his books at:

Wayward Ink Publishing
Dreamspinner Press 
Amazon

Follow Andrew on his website: www.andrewqgordon.com,

On Facebook: www.facebook.com/andrewqugordon,

On Twitter: @andrewqgordon,

Or just email him: andrewqgordon@gmail.com

Friday, July 25, 2014

Release Day Blitz for Lex Chase's Chasing Sunrise: A Gorgeous Fantasy



Chasing Sunrise
(The Darkmore Saga, Bk 1)
by Lex Chase

Blurb:
On the Coastal Bend of Texas, a hidden kingdom called Darkmore lies in ruins, and King Sevon Maraté is trapped. Using Sevon as a mouthpiece and a scapegoat, Lord Dominic rules from the shadows. Sevon copes with the unrelenting abuse by dressing in women's finery and casting an image of graceful nobility. Born of royal verkolai blood and as beautiful as he is lethal, he possesses the ability to part the Veil separating his world from hundreds of others. His gift is his chance to escape, but Dominic refuses to relinquish his tool for power. Dominic forges an ambitious plan to invade the prosperous land of Priagust. Only a select few know the mythic kingdom of shifters exists. Sevon is out of options for his people’s survival, and cooperating with Dominic is his only chance.

On their foray into Priagust, Dominic's men kidnap and interrogate a shifter named Jack. Even under torture, Jack's loyalty to his kind never wavers. But as Jack’s knowledge about Darkmore’s king and its history unsettles Sevon, a curious bond begins to form. Despite Sevon’s mistrust, Jack is determined to tame Sevon’s wild heart and perhaps earn his freedom. As invasion looms, Sevon wonders if trusting Jack will lead him into another trap or if he should forget about chasing the sunrise and remain Dominic's compliant prisoner.




Available for purchase at 


 



Excerpt


Jack shuddered against the cold bite of his shackles. The iron cuffs held him upright, and his arms were stretched tight over his head. Gravity pulled him sloping forward painfully against his bonds. His umber hair swayed in sweat-slicked strands and clung to his face. The humidity hung like milky fog visible against the gray stones. He could smell the herbal traces of algae glazing the walls. No moans, no cries for release, not even a rattled chain sounded throughout the dungeon. He deduced he was the only prisoner—or the only one currently living.

It had happened so fast. He was at the shoreline of the lake when two figures shot from the water. Shrouded in black, the demonic men yanked him into the lake. Jack had expected his end. But he didn’t expect a dungeon, and not just any, but Darkmore’s dungeon. He knew it as well as any ghost story. He had teased Sevon mercilessly for crossing his fingers and turning in a circle three times as he walked by the entrance.

Jack’s heart softened. Sevon, sweet Sevon. It had been exciting for Jack when he was a cub to have a special friend outside of Priagust. One who was not a shifter at all, but something different. He was Jack’s treasure, and he would guard their memory.

But the men had taken him and tossed him in this dank cell. It had to be a mistake. Darkmore was Priagust’s sworn protector. King Louis would never wrongfully imprison a shifter. Jack spit a speck of grit. Was Louis alive? Did he survive the storm? What of Anna Maria? Surely she’d know.

But Jack wasn’t sure. He had been just a child when he saw Louis die, and all childhood memories were fallible. He could only hope it was a misunderstanding. He squinted with the painful pull in his shoulders, and the realization sank in. This was far more than a mere misunderstanding.

Jack’s pupils flexed into pinpricks when the sound of distant footsteps announced someone’s approach. He jerked his chin toward the sound to get the first look at his host.

An ethereal, earthbound spirit drifted into the dungeon. Pale as Winter Mother’s snow and with a brilliant bloom of golden curls to rival Father Sun’s rays, the woman captivated him. Dressed in layers of the midnight sky and coal, her skirts swirled in a trail of goldfish fins behind her. The unusual ladybird settled at the cell door, tossing a lock of spun gold over her shoulder. She waited.

“What do they call you?” she coldly demanded.

A peculiar tenor tone in her voice made Jack choke on his breath. A man. The strange, colorful bird was a man.

By the way he glared at Jack as if he were of no consequence, Jack decided that whatever the case, he had to be on guard. Jack sniffed and mentally discerned a more masculine scent under the perfumed oils. But there were two masculine scents, this beautiful man’s and someone else’s. He licked the salt on his lip and smirked. He had nothing left to lose.

Jack lifted his head, and he panted against the searing pain in his back. He focused on the curious little meadowlark shrouded in flimsy frippery. He had never seen such an unusual hue of hair before, but he knew one thing for certain.

“You’re not the king,” Jack said.

Something came over the strange man as he quirked his thin brow in irritation. “Yes, I am the king,” he growled in warning. “Your name, creature.”

Jack evaded the question and changed the subject. “The king of Darkmore would never show a shifter such hostility,” he spat. “Go, little meadowlark. Fetch him, now. You are of no concern.”

The supposed king recoiled on his booted heel as if he had been burned.

“Excuse me, you maggot?” he growled and his temper flared.

Jack squinted at him. He looked so much like Anna Maria, as Jack remembered her. Perhaps her son? Perhaps Sevon? Jack swallowed. He had to keep it to himself. He had to find out what he was dealing with first, if he survived that long. He thought of his brother, Kaltag, back in Priagust, probably wondering where he was and if Jack was still staring over the lake, waiting for the day Sevon would appear.

Jack’s heart thumped.

“Louis is gone. I am the king now, and you will answer to me. My sources tell me you’re a spy from the shifter land of Priagust,” he said. The accusation did not bode well for Jack.

Jack took his stand against his captor. He strained against his shackles and grinned through the searing pain in his shoulder blades. “Your sources are clearly mistaken. I was only fishing when your men emerged from the lake and tried to drown me. Which—” He glanced around, and his shackles rattled. “This is some level of hell, correct?” Jack watched him, still puzzling his way through recollections. It wasn’t possible he was Sevon. Why would Sevon become this? He hissed a laugh and kept up a brave face. Jack turned his gaze up. He smirked when the king leaned away from the hammered iron bars of Jack’s cell in disgusted horror. “You are a very fussy bird. You’re no more than a chick, peeping for nourishment.”

“You will answer my questions, shifter…. Or you will be forced to answer them.”

“What kind of king do you think you are?” Jack asked. “Do you understand the scope of what you are doing by holding me like a criminal?”

“Pardon me for not rolling out the red carpet and most lovely courtesans,” he said sarcastically.

“A little bird that pecks. I like that.” Jack chuckled.

Crossing his willowy arms in irritation, the king nodded to the stocky dungeon guard.

The guard loped forward on his gnarled legs and slipped the heavy key in the iron padlock. With a protesting shrill, the bolt popped from its moorings with a loud echoing clank. The cell door swung open with an antiquated creak, and colorful bird of a man slipped into the cell.

Jack’s heart thumped, and his face heated. It was Sevon. His Sevon. He had never been so sure. In the twenty-two years between then and now, the boy Jack had so longed for no longer existed. Confusion swirled through him, but Jack had to keep it within. More parts of the puzzle would fall into place if he just gave it time.

His heart wouldn’t stop racing; all the while he maintained his arrogant grin.

“I’d curtsey, but as you can see, I’m a little tied up,” Jack apologized.

This new Sevon cocked his hip in irritation and snorted. “For a vicious animal, you don’t look like much.”

The term hit Jack hard, but he wouldn’t cower.

“Funny.” Jack chuckled. “For a king, you present yourself quite a bit like a whore.”

Before he could blink, Sevon was upon him. He yanked Jack by the scruff of his hair, tilting his neck painfully backward on its stalk to meet him eye to eye. Jack’s eyes rolled wildly to focus on the glacier blue of Sevon’s. His scent stabbed into Jack’s nose, jabbing cruelly into his brain. The delicate floral became an unrelenting assault on his mind and body. The damning confirmation sank into Jack’s stomach. It was a matter of survival not to show fascination or fear.

“Listen to me, you worthless shit-eating maggot!” Sevon snarled in his face. “You don’t get to call me a whore! Do you understand? I will leave you here to rot in this dank cell until even the rats find you too foul and putrescent. You will be thankful we don’t outright kill you. You will be appreciative of your accommodations.”

Sevon relaxed his grip and his harsh tone eased. “You will be eager to answer our questions. You will make yourself very helpful. Or I will have you skinned alive and your flesh made into jerky.” Sevon snorted a breath through his nose, and Jack’s hair fluttered. The beautiful blond man smiled like a content feline. “Now, do we have an understanding?”

Channeling the bravest parts of himself, and locking away the heartbreak, Jack laughed with a crooked, toothy grin. If this was the game, then he would play it until he was the last one standing. Finally, he had sorted the second male scent, and his thoughts sparked with devious delight. “Did I ruffle your feathers, meadowlark? Does the man whose scent you’re slathered in get to ruffle more than your feathers?”

Sevon shoved him away with a wail of disgust. Jack’s head bounced against his chest, and his manacles creaked at the added pressure. Sevon’s offended squeal was the only warning as a hard, echoing slap cracked across Jack’s cheek so forcefully that his vision blew out into whiteness for a moment.

With several flustered breaths, Sevon sharply pivoted and then stormed out of the cell. He nodded to the stocky guard. “Have him questioned about the nature of his people and land. I don’t care how you do it, or to what ends. Use any means necessary to milk him dry.”

The guard bobbed his head and bowed.

Turning back, Sevon regarded Jack one final time.

Jack noted the confusion mingled with a semblance of fascination. He forced a smile through his blood-tinged teeth. “See you soon, Your Majesty,” he purred.

Jack clung to a scrap of hope, and listened to the whispers of Sevon’s skirts as he left Jack in the darkness.

The rats chittered.




About the Author
Lex Chase once heard Stephen King say in a commercial, “We’re all going to die, I’m just trying to make it a little more interesting.” She knew then she wanted to make the world a little more interesting too.
Weaving tales of cinematic, sweeping adventure and epic love—and depending on how she feels that day—Lex sprinkles in high-speed chases, shower scenes, and more explosions than a Hollywood blockbuster. She loves tales of men who kiss as much as they kick ass. She believes if you’re going to going to march into the depths of hell, it better be beside the one you love. 

Lex is a pop culture diva and her DVR is constantly backlogged. She wouldn't last five minutes without technology in the event of the apocalypse and has nightmares about refusing to leave her cats behind. She is incredibly sentimental, to the point that she gets choked up at holiday commercials. But like the lovers driven to extreme measures to get home for the holidays, Lex believes everyone deserves a happy ending.
Lex also has a knack for sarcasm, never takes herself seriously, and has been nicknamed “The Next Alan Moore” by her friends for all the pain and suffering she inflicts on her characters. She is a Damned Yankee hailing from the frozen backwoods of Maine now residing in the burbs of Northwest Florida, where it could be 80F and she’d still be a popsicle. 

She is grateful for and humbled by all the readers. She knows very well she wouldn't be here if it wasn't for them and welcomes feedback.


You can find Lex at
               



 Giveaway

Signed Paperback of Chasing Sunrise

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Presented By

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Happy Independence Day Blog Tour and Giveaway!

Today I welcome Michael Rupured to the blog. He writes the most wonderful stories about gay men in the recent past, in the case of his newest book, Happy Independence Day, about the gritty coming of age of the gay lifestyle in the tumultuous 1960s and, in particular, the events surrounding the Stonewall riots in 1969. I’ve read this book and it made me laugh, smile and cry. 

There is also a giveaway! One commenter on this blog will be a winner. Read the details below.

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Thanks, Tali, for allowing me to show off the cover for my upcoming release from Dreamspinner Press on your blog. By far, the most exciting part of the publishing process—at least for me—is seeing the cover for the first time. For my next novel, to be released August 20th, artist Christy Caughie created a gorgeous cover. To celebrate, I’m conducting a giveaway. Keep reading for details.

Terrence Bottom wants to change the world. A prelaw student at Columbia University majoring in political science, his interests range from opposing the draft and the war in Vietnam, to civil rights for gays, to anything to do with Cameron McKenzie. Terrence notices the rugged blond hanging around the Stonewall Inn, but the handsome man—and rumored Mafia hustler—rebuffs his smiles and winks.
Cameron McKenzie dropped out of college and left tiny Paris, Kentucky after the death of the grandmother who raised him, dreaming of an acting career on Broadway. Although he claims to be straight, he becomes a prostitute to make ends meet. Now the Mafia is using him to entrap men for extortion schemes, he is in way over his head, and he can’t see a way out—at least not a way that doesn’t involve a swim to the bottom of the Hudson in a pair of cement flippers.
Cameron is left with a choice: endanger both their lives by telling Terrence everything or walk away from the only man he ever loved. The Mafia hustler and the student activist want to find a way to stay together, but first they need to find a way to stay alive.
Preorder here:


courtesy of New York Public Library
The Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village is the setting for much of the action in Happy Independence Day. What is the Stonewall Inn?
The place, to put it bluntly, was a dive, and yet, in 1969 it was reputed to be the most popular gay bar in America. The building itself has a long history. In 1930, two former stables on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village were combined into one space, refurbished, and opened as a tearoom—Bonnie’s Stone Wall. The name changed to Bonnie’s Stonewall Inn in the 1940s, and to the Stonewall Inn Restaurant before fire gutted the building in the early 1960s. The structure sat empty until 1967 when it reopened as the Stonewall Inn. To conceal fire damage, everything inside–walls, floors, ceilings, and the plywood covering the big front windows—was painted black. The shabby interior lacked running water, so dirty glasses were washed behind the bar in buckets of water, later determined to be the source of a virulent hepatitis outbreak.
GIVEAWAY!!!!
To give you a reason to visit the other blogs helping me celebrate my new cover, I’ve come up with a Giveaway and a quiz about the Stonewall Inn and the 1969 uprising that made it famous. Find the answers to the questions below on the blogs participating in my cover reveal and giveaway (links below). Comment on my post on any of the participating blogs by midnight, July 31, 2014 for a chance to win a signed copy of the prequel, After Christmas Eve (U.S. residents only; ebook available for international winners—one winner per blog).
What was the legal environment in 1969 for NYC homosexuals?
Who owned the Stonewall Inn?
What made the Stonewall Inn a magnet for homosexuals?
What happened at the Stonewall Inn on the night of June 28, 1969 to cause the uprising?
Who/what started the Stonewall riots?
How long did the Stonewall Uprising last?
    Shira Anthony
     Chris Koehler
     Prism Book Alliance

Find out what Michael’s up to by visiting his web site (http://rupured.com), following him on Twitter (@crotchetyman), or by email (mrupured@gmail.com).


Monday, July 14, 2014

BDSM Blog Hop Giveaway Winner

Thanks so much to everyone who stopped by to read my post and leave a comment. It's wonderful to see so many people taking the time to explore and share an interest in consensual and safe power exchange.

My lovely old poodle, Cate, helped me randomly pick a winner for the giveaway I held in conjunction with the blog hop. For a $25 gift card to either Amazon or Good Vibrations, the winner is:

Brandi!

I've sent an email to Brandi and will send her choice of card as soon as I hear back.

To everyone else, another heartfelt THANK YOU for making this event a success!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Top Drop: When Doms Crash

I am writing this post for the BDSM Blog Hop, so if you are interested in reading thoughtful—and sometimes sexy—posts about the many aspects and flavors of power play, then do check out the other bloggers, okay?

As part of the blog hop, I’m holding a drawing for a $25 gift card, winner’s choice of Amazon or Good Vibrations. To enter, follow the instructions at the bottom of the post.

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When I do talk about BDSM, I talk from the heterosexual dominant side of the table. I love men and a man’s body, and I get a rush from being the one who does the tying up, the teasing, the torturing, and all the rest. In the right circumstances, i.e. a consensual relationship, dominance is a way to be loving and nurturing, as well as a means to express sexual interest. Both partners get what they want and if that’s not a definition of fulfilling, I don’t have a better one.

People tend to talk at great length about subspace and sub drop, mostly because the submissive is in the most vulnerable position. Often the submissive is physically helpless and emotionally laid open. So talking about the submissive experience is important and necessary.

Far fewer people talk about top drop, those times when the dominant’s emotions crash.

True, Doms are generally in physical control. We set the scene, we control the pace, we deliver what the submissive receives and, if we’re doing it right, what they want and need. The presumption is the dominant is getting what he or she needs by doing this. And that’s mostly the case. But sometimes it’s not.

When a scene involves intense or painful acts—for example, “forced” sex by consent, or edgy play with clamps or cock cages, sounds, or heavy flogging—the dominant is not some soulless automaton performing mechanically. Take me for example: I’m human. I have an imagination, and scruples, and feelings. And when I go deep, mining my soul for the ability to tap into what the sub needs, every once in a while things just collide in a certain way and… what I’m doing doesn’t make me happy. It leaves me a mess.

It could be anything. Maybe it’s because I take such great care not to hurt someone, but I did. Or I get a mental shot of how my grandmother would react to what I’m doing (hint: she would not approve). Mostly it’s brain chemistry. Dopamine plummets and prolactin rises through the roof. Whatever the trigger, the rush crashes and I end up feeling conflicted, sad, and tired to the core.

Some Doms may never experience top drop. Others might experience it only on occasion. A few experience it so severely they take long breaks from BDSM or even never do it again.

The best thing a submissive can do if his or her Dom falls into a funk is to keep it normal. First and foremost, the Dom’s reaction is NOT about the submissive. It’s not about the scene. No one and nothing failed. If possible, allow your Dom to be loving, snuggle, kiss, and reassure him or her things were wonderful. Try to laugh. If the Dom wants to talk, great—if not, don’t push for an explanation. Your Dom wants to take care of you, not feel under siege for something he or she might not even understand enough to explain.

If you’re a Dom who experiences top drop, do all of the above and then consider talking to a friend in the BDSM scene. If it’s a serious case, it helps to plan another scene, something less intense, and enjoy being with your partner again in that personal, private way.

Ultimately, the most important thing to remember about BDSM is that the participants are people, humans, who have found a very special way to be together.

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Giveaway Details


1. Leave a comment answering this question: Do you seek out BDSM-themed books?

2. Leave an email address so I can contact you should you win.


3. I will choose a winner at the end of the blog hop, on Monday morning, July 14th