Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Wednesday Briefs: Uncool #2

Merry Christmas! For the holiday I’m continuing the story of Carson, who shared a Christmas Eve of bondage and hot sex with a mysterious dom and whose life will never be the same. Nothing in life is easy, even for men the rest of the world might think have it all.

I threw in some hot chocolate to be able to meet the story prompts. J

Want to start with the first chapter of Uncool? Click here.

Want to read the story that immediately precedes this one, Carson’s first meeting with the mysterious “Sir”? You can read “Unwrapped” here. There are three chapters and they’re linked... as these will be.

Wishing all of you a joyous, happy and loving holiday!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Uncool #2

“I want to meet him.” 

Of course I did! I’d only been thinking about Sir every moment since I’d awakened. Just the memory of his fingers combing my hair, the soft pressure of his lips on my forehead… he hadn’t kissed me on the mouth. But maybe now… I looped the scarf around my neck and thrilled to the sensual caress of the cashmere weave. And the color was perfect!

I’d found a man who understood my love of bondage, and who had great taste too.

“Don’t rush into this—”

“Rush?” I stopped flinging the scarf and shot Stewart a look. Why didn’t he look happy for me? He knew how much I wanted to find a dom. “The man had me at his pleasure last night for hours. I never even saw his face and it didn’t matter. It was like nothing that’s ever happened to me before—I felt a connection.”

“You know why we do this.”

“So the dom can keep control. And if the dom wants more contact with the sub, he or she can initiate it.” I could practically quote the Club’s rule book. I knew the rules, and I followed every one of them. “But he did initiate it…this package is from Sir, isn’t it? You can’t tell me it’s not.” When Stewart didn’t deny it, hope made me bold. “You know who he is. You can arrange it.”

The card glowed with reflected Christmas lights in my lap. Creamy paper bordered with gold, bearing a precisely worded request. Everything about Sir’s message was cultivated, respectful, including his gift. A cashmere scarf was personal but not even remotely intimate.

Jase had made himself scarce and was in the kitchen making chocolate or waffles or something. Dishes clinked and cabinet doors closed. That left just Stewart and me in the festive glow of the Christmas tree. I kept reminding myself I’d agreed to submit to Stewart and allow him to make these kinds of lifestyle decisions for me.

 “Yes, I can arrange a meeting. But can isn’t the same as should.” Seated in his winged back chair, the man I’d chosen as my dom had the gravitas of a judge. In reality he owned a business that manufactured prosthetic limbs.

“But you didn’t object to my engaging in a scene with him last night.”

“Because it was the holiday party. You put yourself up as a gift and the dom was to be your Secret Santa. It was for a good cause and… we all know each other.” Stewart managed a wry frown. “You signed a contract for the event. So did he. He followed the rules. He placed the winning bid.”

My breathing quickened. Something about Stewart’s reaction was off, way off. Hell, everything about this conversation shouted I was still in the dark. About what? In the year I’d been with him, Stewart had always explained things to the last detail.

“So he placed the winning bid… but—?”

“That should have been the end of it. Everyone has a good time and goes home. I thought”—Stewart heaved a sigh, tipped his head back for a moment, then leaned forward—“I hoped he would respect you enough to leave it at that.”

That’s when it hit me. There was only one reason for Stewart to act this way. “I know him too, don’t I?”

Stewart’s grim silence was the only answer I needed. My mind went off the rails. Sir’s voice hadn’t triggered any kind of instant recognition, but had I heard it before? A deep voice, baritone, the kind that belonged on the radio. Nothing else about him had registered at all, neither his touch nor his scent. The drops in my eyes had made sure work of my not seeing him clearly. But my final, almost clear glimpses of the loft had raised questions… something about the view. And none of what was happening right now made any sense.

“No, you can’t do this, Stewart! You can’t drop this pile of steaming shit in my lap on Christmas morning and not answer my questions. I have a right to know who the hell just screwed me!” I whipped the blue scarf off my neck and threw it onto the pile of ripped paper and discarded ribbons.

“No, you don’t. You gave up the right to know when you agreed to the auction and signed the contract. That’s how it should have been and how it should have stayed—except now he’s pushing for more, just like he’s been pushing for months.”


“He’s asked to have a scene with you before.”

And Stewart had told him no. Stewart told almost everyone no, because I wanted him to. I rocked back on my ass and took deep breaths, forcing calm through my body. Stewart was my rock, my anchor. My dom and friend. Actually, he came from a family that was good friends with my grandparents, but I only found out he was a dom after my own early forays into the lifestyle had left me screwed up and badly used. The only reason I hadn’t ended up flat broke as well was thanks to my grandfather’s foresight in placing my inheritance into a trust. Stewart had been a trustee, though he'd stepped down after agreeing to help me by taking me on as a submissive in his household. I can’t mingle control over you with control over your money, he’d said. Which was exactly what my string of user jerk ‘masters’ had tried to do.

Stewart had created a safe place for me, a good place, a place of submission and acceptance. I owed it to him to listen now. I scooted across the floor so I could sit by his chair, the way Jase had done. My cheek rested on Stewart’s knee, warmed by the soft flannel of his pajamas. He cupped my head with his hand, a touch I craved.

“Who is he?” I asked.

Copyright © 2014 Tali Spencer

All of the Wednesday Briefers have great stories to offer this week, so check them out!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Holiday Giveaway Winners

It’s Christmas Eve and the first thing I did this morning was… visit the doctor. Yep, time for my end of the year knee injections! Besides, I had to give him his yearly box of holiday Frango mints.

And then Cate and I rushed upstairs (much easier now that the knees are primed) to pick the winners for this year’s holiday drawing. To the drumming of her tail, I revved up the random number generator and…

The three winners of the book and swag giveaway are:


And the winner of the $10 gift card is Kathy!

I’ll be sending emails to the winners and finding out what they wish to claim as their holiday gifts. To everyone else, thank you so much for participating in this little giveaway. More giveaways are coming up, including a really special swag bag going up in just a few days on a reader and reviewer blog. The bag will include a signed paperback, Petal mug, coin purse, and a basilisk eye necklace among other goodies. 

I wish a very Happy Holiday season and exceptionally good New Year. I have a feeling it’s going to be a great one!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Guest Author: MA Church on BDSM and Submission

"Most welcome, bondage, for thou art a way, I think, to liberty."
- William Shakespeare

Bondage is a beautiful thing. And MA Church writes bondage with both heat and heart. So what does she have to say about that...

Hey everyone! I’m M.A. Church and I’m here to talk about my latest release, Wrapped in Leather. It’s the first in the Wrapped Up series. Wrapped in Leather is about two men exploring a relationship involving their love of leather, BDSM. One of the things Toshi has to answer for himself is: What is a submissive?

A submissive is a person who makes a conscious choice to give up some or all control of their life to another persona Dominant or a Top. Dominance and submission is about a power exchange between two consenting adults. It is about the control within the dynamics of that relationship, whether it be a full time 24/7 relationship, or a casual meeting, or a part time arrangement.

Choosing to be submissive means to allow someone else to control your body and behavior within the preset limits you and that particular person, i.e. the Dominant, have agreed upon. Submission is not a sign of weakness; some of the most successful and strongest people are true submissives.

Submission is not about passiveness, it is not about being a doormatmost submissives are intelligent and well-balanced people just fulfilling their basic desires to submit and to give up control. Submission is not about kinky sex and whips and chainsthough those things can and do play a part in our lifestyle, it is much deeper than just that, and comes from the heart. Submission is a choice, and a wonderful gift to the Dominantit should never be entered into lightly, even in a casual situation at a party or gathering.

Release date: January 3rd
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond

To celebrate his decision to take the next step with his boyfriend Ian, Toshi Baylor plans a romantic evening at their favorite steak house. Toshi starts the special weekend with a bang by surprising Ian at home with lunch. There’s a bang all right, but it’s between Ian and another guy.

Jase Taylor’s auto repair shop and the BDSM club, Wrapped Up, keep him busy while he waits for Mr. Right, instead of Mr. Right Now. He’s a Dom, but playing with the club’s submissives isn’t providing the usual stress release. After a day from hell, he deserves a good meal at his favorite steak house.

Toshi and Jase find a mix-up with their reservations: a table for Baylor, not Taylor. When Toshi invites Jase to dine with him, they discover a mutual affection for leather and a shared belief that trust must be earned.

Before they can explore their common interests, Toshi suffers a series of attacks by vandals. Jase’s protective instincts kick in, but both wonder if it can lead to anything permanent.

Jase placed his hand on Toshi’s arm, halting the smaller man. “Okay, as I was saying… Why not meet me sometime at the gym? You wouldn’t have to work out alone then, and neither would I.”
Toshi stopped hunting his car keys and looked up at Jase. “Really? I’d like that.”
Jase held his helmet under his arm. He really didn’t want Toshi to leave without knowing when he’d see him again or having some way to contact him. That alone surprised him, but he didn’t question the impulse, just went with it.
“Tell you what, let’s exchange numbers and I’ll call you… well, hell.” Jase wasn’t letting Toshi go without knowing something. “Why don’t you meet me tomorrow at three? We can work out.”
Toshi fiddled with his keys. “I, ah, yeah. That sounds good. Three it is. Just go easy on me, man. It’s been two weeks, at least, since I worked out.”
Jase zipped his leather jacket, debating how to answer, then threw caution to the wind. Better to see how Toshi would react now than later. “Going easy isn’t in my vocabulary. That’s not who I am. I push—that’s what I do. But I won’t push you any harder than what you… need.”
Toshi’s mouth opened slightly. “Oh. I, ah… I, oh. Three, right? Yes, I’ll be there.”
There was no mistaking the look of lust that flashed in Toshi’s eyes, and Jase felt himself respond. “Give me your phone.” After Jase programmed his number, he handed the cell back to Toshi. “Dress in street clothes and bring whatever you work out in. After we’re done, we can shower there, then grab something to eat or… whatever. And Toshi, I enjoyed tonight. Very much. Call me if you can’t make it.”
Jase put on his helmet and his leather gloves. He noticed the way Toshi eyed the leather he wore—that was promising—before he flipped the visor down. He looked at Toshi—both of them standing there, staring at each other. He made a point of glancing down at the front of Toshi’s pants, to where a nice bulge showed, before walking away.
Just as he started the bike, he saw Toshi hurry to his car. Jase pulled out and passed in front of Toshi’s car. He stopped, one foot on the road to balance himself. Toshi was just sitting there, doing nothing. Jase’s grin was hidden behind the visor. It looked like he had Toshi’s attention. He lifted his hand, making the motion of starting a vehicle. When Toshi’s car started, he nodded and drove off, very satisfied with what he’d seen so far.
He glanced in his rearview mirror as headlights turned in the opposite direction. He’d bet Toshi was a submissive but had no real training. That need was there, though. He’d seen glimpses of it during dinner and at dessert. It had been a while since he'd played with anyone who wasn’t in the lifestyle, but Toshi showed promise. If he wasn’t very much mistaken, they shared a common interest… leather.

Author bio:
M.A. Church lives in the southern United States and spent many years in the elementary education sector. She is married to her high school sweetheart and they have two children. Her hobbies are gardening, walking, attending flea markets, watching professional football, racing, and spending time with her family on the lake.

But her most beloved hobby is reading. From an early age, she can remember hunting for books at the library. Later nonhuman and science fiction genres captured her attention and drew her into the worlds the authors had created. But always at the back of her mind was the thought that one day, when the kids were older and she had more time, she would write a book.

By sheer chance she stumbled across a gay male romance story on the web and was hooked. A new world opened up and she fell in love. Thus the journey started. When not writing or researching, she enjoys reading the latest erotic and mainstream romance novels.

My links:
Twitter @nomoretears00

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Holiday Giveaway

As the holiday gets near, my bells are jingling. There’s even snow on the ground to make the season bright. And that means it’s time for a holiday giveaway!

From now until 11:59 p.m. on Monday, December 23rd I will be taking names and checking lists. I didn’t join a holiday blog hop this year, so this giveaway is a quiet holiday thank you.

I will draw three winners, who can choose one of the following items (it’s not a problem if all three winners choose the same one):

  1. A signed paperback copy of Thick as Thieves.
  2. A signed paperback copy of Captive Heart.
  3. A swag bag that includes a Thick as Thieves notebook, coin purse, unicorn horn soap, and other goodies.
  4. A free ebook of your choice from my list.
And if you are a follower of my blog, or would be so kind as to follow my blog, you will be entered into a separate drawing for my special “Extra Nice” prize:

  • A $10 gift card, winner’s choice from Amazon, AllRomance, or Dreamspinner

How do you enter? 

~ Leave a comment on this post. Tell me your favorite holiday song. Mine is “Let it Snow”. People want to smack me when I sing it, but I love it anyway. J

~ Include your email. I need the email so I can notify you if you win and you can choose your prize.

~ And yes, I ship internationallyJ

My loving poodle and I will draw winners at random on the morning of Tuesday, December 24th. It’s that easy!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wednesday Briefs: Uncool

Welcome to the Holiday Edition of Wednesday Briefs. And wouldnt you know... I decided it would be fun to write a seasonal story! 

So for the next three weeks I’m suspending my current serial and writing a holiday tale. Or rather, continuing one. You see, last year I wrote a little BDSM story called “Unwrapped” [you can read it here] and I thought it would be fun to write the rest of Carson’s Christmas. This week’s episode is the first of at least three.

There were so many great prompts this week I chose two: eggnog and Duck Dynasty.

Happy Holidays to you!



I’m such a loser I wake up on Christmas morning, look out at freshly falling snow while smelling cinnamon and coffee—and wish my naked body was cuffed, collared, and kneeling at the foot of a leather-clad stranger’s tree. It’s not that Master Stewart’s guest bedroom is lacking; the townhouse is warm and cozy and everything a home should be, except it’s not mine. It’s Stewart’s home, and Jase’s. Because they are the couple here and it doesn’t matter how many times I stay over or wake up in this bed to see pictures of covered bridges on the walls, I’m still just a guest.

Carson Chase, guy without a home.

“Hey Carson, get your ass downstairs.” Jase’s head appeared through the half opened door. The elf hat on his long blond hair dangled a sprig of mistletoe. Everyone in range was at risk of his full, sexy lips. “Stewart won’t let me open gifts until you join us.”

I reached for my sweatpants. “Hold on,” I called when Jase moved to withdraw. His head popped back around the door, followed by a green-clad shoulder trimmed with white fur. “I need to talk about what happened at the party last night.”

Jase’s smile dimmed. “Don’t tell me it went bad, or that Stewart lied to me about that—”

“No, it went well. Better than well. It was… I’m really glad I put myself up as a gift this year, because it was fucking amazing. But I don’t think the man who bid on me was one of the usual doms I see at The Club.”

“Hell, Carson, you know the rules. Silent auction. I can’t tell you who won you even if I know.”

“Well, do you know who it was?”

“I’m out of here.” Jase vanished, though he yelled back as he retreated down the hall. “I know what you’re doing!”

Yeah, because the whole world knew Jase couldn’t tell a lie without it being written in neon letters on his face. It was wrong of me to try to put him on the spot, but I couldn’t get Sir out of my mind. I tugged the sweats up over my slightly aching hips and plopped back onto the bed.

Sir. That was the only name I had for the man who had turned my world upside down, and that title applied to just about every dom in the English-speaking world. Narrowing down the list was the first thing I needed to do.

I held up my right arm and turned it over, marveling at how I could still feel thick coils of rope encircling my wrist, both wrists… my ankles too, and my torso and ass… holding my body captive. Hardly a trace of my ordeal remained, just a few red marks on my pale skin. Otherwise, it was like I’d been wrapped in magical rope. Everything about last night felt like a dream, from the moment I’d knelt naked and cuffed at the base of The Club’s holiday tree and allowed myself to be auctioned off, to being wrapped in a coat hours later by Stewart and brought here. All I had left of last night were my memories and two lengths of scarlet rope on the nightstand.

I’d told Stewart not to untie my wrists, but he’d done it anyway.

I sighed and stared out the window again at the Philadelphia streets below, trying to mentally reconstruct the place Sir had used for our scene. The high ceiling and open spaces suggested some kind of loft. Sir had said he’d designed and installed the suspension apparatus himself. Probably his place, then. A spacious loft with a killer view of the skyline.

The man had fucked me in front of floor to ceiling windows, for all the city to see. If I looked in the mirror right now, I’d be red as Rudolph’s nose.

He held me after, I reminded myself, and kissed me too. I got up to find the Christmas sweatshirt I’d remembered to pack for the occasion. Moments later I wore a gingerbread man in bondage under the words “Bite Me” on my chest. After sticking my feet into shearling slippers, I shuffled downstairs.

I found Jase and Stewart near the tree. Presents spread around in a profusion of shining, seasonal paper and glittery ribbons. Stewart occupied his favorite winged armchair, with Jase seated next to the tree and Stewart’s feet. I sat on the floor facing them and watched the way they smiled into each other’s eyes. It was too intimate to look at, so I glanced away. I shouldn’t be here, infringing on their happiness….


My head jerked up to see Stewart holding out a package. I opened it to find an official Duck Dynasty camo wristwatch.

“Hey! This is great!”

“We know how much you love the show.”

“Best. Family. Ever.”

Before long, Stewart and Jase had opened my gifts to them—hand-tooled leather luggage tags, black with a dragon for Stewart and violet paisley for Jase—and we’d moved on to carols and eggnog. When the doorbell rang, Stewart left the room.

“God, I love Christmas!” Jase grinned and leaned dangerously close with his mistletoe. My mood had improved so much there was little chance of my moving out of his path.

Stewart cut our fun short by walking back into the room with a frown on his face and a gift-wrapped package in his hands. Jase bounded to his feet, but Stewart kept the silvery package out his reach. “It’s not for us, Jase. This one’s for Carson.”

“Me?” Packages for me didn’t come to this house. They went to my condo a few blocks away. “Who’s it from?”

“It doesn’t say.”

My heart thumped. Only people from The Club knew I might be with Stewart this morning. I tore open the wrappings and lifted out a cloud of steel blue cashmere. A scarf. And a card.

I would like to meet you.

(continue to next chapter...)

Copyright © 2014 Tali Spencer


All of the Wednesday Briefers have great stories to offer this week, so check them out!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Four Nods for Thick as Thieves

Many thanks to the readers who nominated Thick as Thieves in four categories of the Goodreads M/M Romance group’s Members Choice Awards! Every time I turn around, you manage to floor me. This is such an amazing honor!

Best Fantasy.

Best Action/Suspense/Adventure.

Best Humorous.

Best Book That Should/Must Have a Sequel. (For the record, I’m working on that right now.)

There are so many wonderful books in this poll (and a LOT of different categories). You don’t have to be a member of the group to vote, so please if you have the time go and show your favorite authors and books some love. The link to the poll is in message #33.

Thank you so much!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Wednesday Briefs: Sealed in Stone #25

Welcome to Wednesday Briefs, where every week authors post free fiction of 1000 words or less.

In this week's Sealed as Stone, Torrey tells Willem about Cyrrhi’s likely plan for them. This week’s prompts were:

- rule with a rod of iron
- That's none of your business
- you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs
- more dead than alive
- my whole world collapsed about my ears
- That won't kill you!
- one good turn deserves another
- never look a gift horse in the mouth
- it's a matter of life and death
- I'm damned if I know!

I used “more dead than alive”. J



Sealed in Stone #25

Willem trailed kisses down Torrey’s neck and nibbled at his collarbone. It was heaven, being with him like this, discovering his body all over again. All those passings yearning and dreaming, and feeling more dead than alive….

“Willem, listen,” Torrey beseeched. “It’s important.”

“No, this is important.” Willem found Torrey’s mouth again and kissed him soundly. With all the ardor of true love, their cocks were hard again, pressing through the sticky remnants of their earlier release. Torrey’s moan of pleasure vibrated Willem’s probing tongue. They were both gasping when they parted.

“Oh, fuck, Willem. For the sake of the First, just listen! She’s in full phase. Cyrrhi’s in phase. We’re responding to that. We’re going to want to screw all the time, for as long as our bodies can stand it. But there’s something you have to know going in—”

“It doesn’t matter if you screwed her. I don’t care.” Actually, he did, a little. Thinking about that hurt. But they were together now and She wasn’t in bed with them. Willem sucked the skin at the hollow of Torrey’s throat.

“No, I never screwed her. She never screwed me. Maybe She will this time, but”—Torrey pulled away, leaving Willem blinking and gape-mouthed, no longer sucking on his skin—“listen, will you? Cyrrhi has men to screw. Hari… she can’t get enough of him. He's so damn beautiful. And Aktu and Nak, she claimed them from other queens in dominance moves, so she screws them too, for the dominance… but I’m different.”

“You’re wonderful!”

“I’m gay. And She likes that. Willem, she likes to watch boys together, and—”

He took a deep breath, trying to focus on what Torrey was saying. “Together like you and me?”

“Yes, like that. But—”

Oh fuck. “You’ve been with other men?”

“No! No, not like… not really. She had one of them kiss me, and touch me, but I hated it and she could tell.”

“What the fuck are you telling me?” He had some clarity now. Not much, but enough to realize Torrey was heartsick about something. And the craziness of it was all he really wanted to do was kiss the words silent and roll Torrey under him and screw his brains out.

“I think that’s why She brought you here. Don’t you see? She wants to watch us! Together, doing… things.”

“While She watches?”

“Yeah.” Torrey huddled flustered and wet-eyed, with his cheeks flushed and his hair all crazy and wild from Willem running his hands through it. It was all Willem could do not to pounce on him and kiss away every trace of pain so he could replace it with pleasure, with need….

Fuck, what was he thinking? Torrey actually looked scared.

“Is She watching now?”

“No, I don’t think so. I mean, it’s possible. This nom is filled with passages and—”

“But She just wants to watch? She won’t want to, you know, screw me too? Or tell one of Her other men to screw me?” Or Torrey, because he didn’t think he could stand that, either.

Torrey managed a sick little smile. “She might. Herself, I mean. But she’d make you wear a kramskin first.”

“You mean like those things women make men wear for their pleasure—or to keep babies out?”

Torrey nodded.

Willem thought he could handle that part, wearing a skin. He’d never done it, but… that wasn’t the problem. The problem was he didn’t want to screw anyone but Torrey. Not the nomari Queen, whose voluptuous body all at once seemed terrifying. And not the Queen’s other men, about whom so far he’d heard only names and rumors of extraordinary beauty. He didn’t give a flying fuck about any man’s beauty but Torrey’s.

At the moment his cock ached so hard he could barely stand it. He wanted to fuck Torrey so bad he was about to lose his mind.

“Torrey, please. If this is what it’s like, I don’t care if she watches.” If that was all it was, he could do it.

He groaned with relief when Torrey reached for him, and together they rolled over on the bed, Willem on top. He straddled the beautiful body for which he’d yearned for so many passings. The hot length of Torrey’s cock slid alongside his own.

“I can’t promise you what She’ll do or want.” Torrey’s lips slid against Willem’s and he pursued that opening, only to be disappointed when Torrey kept talking. “But She knows I don’t want the other men. She teased it, you see… made Hari kiss me. Pushed him to it. Maybe she hoped I’d kiss back and like it, but I didn’t.”

“Did he?” The thought of another man’s mouth assaulting the mouth he loved raised his blood. At the kumbh he’d been the only one Torrey kissed, furtive hot kisses stolen and treasured and never to be equaled.

“I don’t know. He seemed angry.”

As Willem would be if Cyrrhi made unreasonable demands. Fuck it. If Torrey was too distracted to kiss him, Willem would just lick and suck a path down his throat. He knew Torrey’s weakness and would launch a devastating assault on the other boy’s nipples. “But you say she stopped it? Didn’t let it go on?”

“She stopped it.” Again Torrey thwarted him by pulling back, causing Willem to growl with frustration. “I’m her Chosen. It’s more than a treaty, it’s a sacrament… I represent sacred love. She’s expected to honor me, and my body, and She gains dominance by that. She won’t force me to do things She knows I don’t want.”

Those wide eyes pleaded with him, and looked ready to cry. Willem’s heart fell.

“But what?” he asked.

“She won’t force me, Willem. I won’t be asked to do anything I don’t want to do. I have the protection of being her Chosen. But you… you don’t.”


Thanks for reading! If you’re looking for more fun, free fiction use the links below to visit the blogs of the other Wednesday Briefers.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Where stories meet: Shira Anthony Talks About Coming of Age and Adult Romance

Shira Anthony is my guest today. Not only is she a knock-your-socks-off writer (I love, love, love her Blue Notes series), but shes a lovely person who says nice things about me. :D  And thats all the intro she needs.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Thank you, Tali, for hosting me on your blog!  You are truly a joy: an amazing writer, a wonderful woman, and someone I’m happy to count among my friends. And even though I look forward to seeing more of you in person, thank you for inviting me for this virtual visit and for letting me explore some of my inspiration behind my new release, Encore.  And for those of you reading this post, be sure to check out the Blue Notes Holiday 2013 Blog Tour Giveaway link below.  You could win a Kindle loaded with lots of wonderful books, as well as a bunch of other great prizes.

For those of you not familiar with my Blue Notes Series of music/musician-centered gay romance novels from Dreamspinner Press, each is a standalone story, and can be read in any order.  The exception?  Symphony in Blue, which will be released on Christmas Day, 2013, and is a holiday novella and sequel to the first four books in the series. Encore, the 5th book in the series, is also chronologically the first.  So if you haven’t read any of the other books, this might be a place for you to start! Encore shares themes in common with the other Blue Notes books: music and musicians, a heavy focus on character development, and long-term, committed relationships. 

Encore, unlike the other books in the series, tells the story of a relationship over a more than 30 year period, from when Roger Nelson and John Fuchs meet in high school, until the present day. One of my friends called Roger and John “modern star-crossed lovers.” They are.  Do they get their happy ending?  You bet, since I won’t write a romance without one.  But it’s a very long haul.  One of the benefits of writing a relationship over such a long period of time was that, in a sense, I got to write 2 different books: a coming of age story, and a mature, adult romance. 

When Roger and John meet, Roger is a violinist with a very promising future and John is an aspiring conductor.  In this first half of the book, the two boys are at very different places in their lives.  It’s the early 1970s, and being gay in the US was so much more difficult than it is now. John has already figured it out.  He’s not “out” or “proud” in any sense of the word, but he knows who he is and he’s accepted it.  Roger, on the other hand, has not.  And it’s his struggle that is probably the most difficult to write and to read.  I know I personally wanted to take him by the shoulders and shake him—make him realize he was meant to be with John and stop pretending he was someone else.  But the reality of the 1970s was that there were many men like Roger who had a vague sense that something was wrong with their lives, but didn’t want to face the truth: that they were homosexual. Being gay meant a lifetime of ridicule, hatred, or worse.

The adult romance comes when, after Roger and John had been separated for a long time (they’ve stayed best friends throughout their lives), Roger finally comes to accept himself for who he is.  By then, John is a superstar conductor and a bit of a playboy.  There’s only one man he wants to be with, and that’s Roger, but he’s afraid Roger will break his heart again.  So the mature, adult romance part of Encore is all about self-acceptance and trust.  A very different sort of relationship. 

The youthful and adult relationships, however, share much in common.  When Roger and John get back together after being apart for many years, they have to re-explore some of the same things they explored before: emotions and sexuality.  They’ve been friends, but they need to become lovers again.  I hadn’t planned on creating that parallel.  As often happens, my characters “told” me to write it that way.  It felt right, and it felt honest to have that rediscovery after so long.

The lesson I learned here (and one I hope will help inspire my own interest in writing young adult romances at some point down the road)?  Relationships are driven by human beings.  By their flaws, their quirks, their hearts and minds.  Sure, youth plays a role in how a relationship grows, but not as much as you might think.  Long-term relationships, like Roger and John’s, are about coming to understand and learning to live with another person’s soul.

Looking for sexy hot romances with fluffy scenes?  I think you’ll like the Blue Notes books.  But if you’re also looking for something more—for something more real than Cinderella and her prince? I think you’ll enjoy these stories about real men in real relationships.  You can find all of my Dreamspinner Press books by clicking here.  Want to read more about me and about my books, including free fiction and excerpts?  Check out my website,

Don’t forget to enter the Blue Notes Holiday 2013 Blog Tour giveaway by clicking here (Rafflecopter).  There are plenty of ways to enter, and you can enter more than once by commenting, tweeting, buying books, and liking pages.  I’ll be drawing winners on New Year’s Eve at midnight!  Good luck! –Shira

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Blue Notes Holiday 2013 Blog Tour Info

This blog tour is to celebrate TWO Blue Notes Series releases:  “Encore” (Blue Notes #5) on November 11, 2013, and “Symphony in Blue” (Blue Notes #4.5) on December 25, 2013 (Christmas Day).  “Symphony in Blue” is my 10th Dreamspinner Press release!  I’ve put together a special prize list to celebrate. 
Blue Notes Series Holiday 2013 Giveaway:

  • Begins on release day for “Encore,” November 11, 2013
  • Ends on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2013, at midnight
  • Drawings are open to both U.S. readers and international readers, but physical prizes (Kindle, necklace, book, and t-shirt) are for U.S. readers only. I will award a virtual set of the first 4 Blue Notes Series books to one winner from outside the U.S.
  • Prizes (U.S. Only):
    • Grand Prize: A Kindle loaded with the first 4 Blue Notes Series books and some of my other back titles
    • 1st Place: A sterling silver music themed necklace
    • 2nd Place: Winner’s choice of one of my back titles in paperback (i.e., not including the 2 new releases)
    • 3rd Place: Blue Notes t-shirt, cover of the winner’s choice
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[Tali here…] How about a lovely EXCERPT from Encore?

 Roger watched the snow fall outside the window of his apartment before glancing over at the clock. It was nearly 9:00 p.m., and John should have arrived an hour before.
“Promise me you won’t come if the snow gets too bad. You know how I-23 can get,” he’d told John that morning over the phone.
“I’ll be fine,” John had reassured him. “With the opera rehearsal schedule and Professor Menard’s vocal performance class, I’d never get to see you if I waited for perfect weather.”
Now, an hour after John was supposed to be here, Roger was pacing the apartment. Worrying. Imagining John’s car somewhere in a ditch. Or worse.
He pulled a beer out of the fridge, popped the top, and resumed his pacing. Ten minutes later, the phone rang.
“Hello!” he practically barked into the handset.
“Oh, hey, Mom.” Fuck. “How’re you doing?”
“Fine.” She paused, and Roger tried to think of something to get her off the phone. If John needed to get a hold of him, he didn’t want him to get a busy signal. “I’m surprised you’re around on a Saturday night. You usually aren’t.”
“I’ve got an exam on Monday,” he lied. “I can’t talk long.”
“No, of course. I wouldn’t want to keep you from it.” She’d been thrilled when he’d told her he planned on finishing school in three years. He hadn’t told her he planned on moving to New York, where John had already been accepted to do his master’s in conducting at Juilliard.
“Thanks, Mom.” Roger pushed back the curtain on the window in the kitchen with his foot—the long telephone cord didn’t go quite that far. From here, he could see the parking lot. A blanket of white covered the stripes on the asphalt. No John.
“… aren’t you?”
“I asked if you were coming over on Monday for dinner.” She sounded irritated.
“Oh, yeah. Right. Sure. I’ll be there.” He had to get her off the phone. “Look, Mom. I gotta get back to studying. I’ll see you Monday, okay?”
“Are you sure everything is all right, dear?”
“It’s great, Mom. I really need to go.”
Her huff was audible through the handset. “Of course.”
He hung up the phone before she could say anything more, and opened the drapes a bit farther. There had to be at least six inches of snow outside. He pressed his nose against the cold glass like he had when he’d been a kid, then closed his eyes. A moment later, the buzzer to the apartment sounded.
Thank God!
Roger scrambled over to the door and opened it to find a disheveled John smiling back at him. “Had to ditch the car over by the Woolworth’s. Forgot my keys. The ploughs haven’t made it this far yet—”
Roger grabbed John and pulled him inside. He was soaking wet, his shoulder-length hair curled at the ends, but Roger didn’t care. He drew John against him, wrapped his arms around his shoulders, and just held him.
“You okay?” John’s voice sounded muffled against Roger’s cheek.
“I am now.”
“Can I take this backpack off?” John asked with a soft laugh. “It’s a little heavy.”
“Oh. Shit. Sorry.” Roger grabbed the pack off John’s shoulders and kicked the door shut behind them.
“You were worried about me.” Not a question, and the way the edges of John’s mouth edged upward, Roger could tell he was teasing.
Roger was tempted to lie, but he was so relieved, he just sighed and said, “Yeah.”
John stared at him in surprise. “You really were worried.”
“Fuck, John, I—”
John kissed him. He tasted of snow and Coca-Cola. Roger closed his eyes as their tongues skirted each other in a now-familiar dance. God, he loved John! More than he could get up the nerve to admit.
For two years they’d stolen every moment they could, working around John’s busy schedule and Roger’s mother. Miranda suspected something. Roger was sure of it. She’d even shown up at the apartment early in the morning on the weekend. John said he was sure she was trying to catch them together. It made things a bit more difficult, but they’d worked it out. John stored his things under the bed, and the bedroom closet was big enough that he could slip inside and hide. They’d left a few pillows behind Roger’s clothing, as well as a flashlight and a few books.
“Don’t worry about it,” John had said the first time he’d hidden there. They both knew Roger needed his parents to pay tuition—at least they hadn’t threatened to stop when Roger announced he was getting his own apartment. “It’s just for a little while.”
Roger came back to himself and realized John was shivering. “Shit, John. You’re freezing your ass off.” He took John by the hand and led him into the bedroom. In the light, John’s cheeks looked pink in contrast to his pale skin. Roger unzipped John’s wet jacket and pushed it off his shoulders. “Stay right there,” he said before stepping into the bathroom to retrieve a towel.
John smiled as Roger dried his face and hair. “Feels good. I like it when you fuss over me.”
Roger’s cheeks heated. “Your pants are soaked,” he said in an effort to mask his embarrassment. He reached for John’s belt, undid the buckle, and unbuttoned the waist of John’s pants. The room was silent except for the sound of the zipper and Roger’s heart pounding in his ears. His hands shook as he pulled John’s pants down—he still hadn’t quite moved past the sinking feeling in his gut that had lodged itself there when he’d worried something had happened to John. He could handle a lot, but the thought of losing John terrified him.
“Are you okay?” John was studying him with a strange expression.
“Yeah.” I am now.
Roger focused on helping John step out of the cold, damp pants. He knew if he met John’s gaze, everything he felt would be obvious. It wasn’t just that he was embarrassed. What he felt was something he’d only begun to understand: vulnerability. The feeling you get when you realize your entire world would come to a screeching halt if the certain someone in your life were to vanish.
John shivered again.
“Get under the covers. I’ll be there in a minute.” Roger watched John pull the warm comforter over himself as he got undressed. He joined John underneath and skated his palms over John’s cold thighs until they warmed to his touch.
“Feels good.”
“You’re still cold.” Roger wrapped his body around John’s and held him. John’s skin was slightly damp against his own.
“I’m fine.” John tucked his chin into the space between Roger’s neck and shoulder. “Really.”
Roger just held him tighter.
“You okay?” John pulled away a bit and looked at him with obvious concern.
“Talk to me, Roger. What’s up?”
It was Roger’s turn to shiver. “I told you. I was just a little worried.”
“About me?” John reached for Roger’s face and pulled it gently so that Roger had no choice but to look at him.
“Yeah.” He didn’t want to talk about this. He just wanted to hold John and reassure himself John was safe. He looked away again.
“Hey.” John rolled onto his side so his face was next to Roger’s. “You can tell me, you know. I’m not going to laugh or anything.”
“I know.” Roger hesitated another moment, then said, “It’s just that I feel like an idiot.”
“Worrying about me doesn’t make you an idiot.” John leaned in and kissed Roger’s nose. “It makes me feel good.”
Roger’s breath stuttered. “I kept thinking back to that night… the accident. I kept imagining you in a ditch somewhere. Hurt…. Shit.” He grabbed John and buried his face in his chest. “I dream about that night sometimes, except in my dreams, you’re….” He clenched his jaw and blinked back tears. He’d had a lot of those dreams—nightmares, really—since John had started driving down from Ann Arbor to stay with him. He dreamed he woke up in the hospital and instead of John being all right, the doctor told him they’d done everything they could, and then he was standing in front of a headstone and he knew, he just knew whose headstone it was.
“I don’t know what I’d do if I lost you,” Roger whispered. “I’d lose my mind. I love you so fucking much, I don’t know what I’d do.” It took him a moment to realize what he’d just said.
John leaned over and kissed him again, this time on the lips. In the semidarkness, Roger saw John’s eyes sparkle. The edges of his mouth curved upward in a tentative smile as the kiss broke. “You love me?” he asked.
Roger could only nod.
“Thank God. Because I don’t know what I’d do if I was the only one who felt like that.”
“You love me too.” He said the words as though he didn’t believe them.
“Always, Roger.”

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Pre-order Symphony in Blue here: