Saturday, September 7, 2013

Waiting for Summer to Turn and Fall

Welcome to September! I’m sorry for my absence in updating properly. I don’t know what happened to August, but I have a few updates to share. 
  • Polyester Prince was accepted by Dreamspinner Press! If you’re read Paid Leave (and you really should) you might remember Kyle. This is his story immediately following the events in Paid Leave. Kyle falls for a bicycle cop named Isaac he meets during the Pride parade in Albuquerque. The expected release date is January or February 2014. I’ll update with a specific date at a later time.  More information about Polyester Prince can be found in the coming soon section.
  • I have a new silhouette image to use in my logo created for me by the wonderful Charlie Cochet! It’s in the header above under my name. I adore it. She’s so talented.
  • I’ve officially began writing the sequel to Undercover Sins, tentatively titled Undercover Desires. It takes place a few years after Undercover Sins and in a new city. The two main characters return, but this time around they’re part of the supporting cast. I’ll post more about it in the upcoming months.
  • I am 100% ready for summer to be over. I want cooler weather! 
  • If you want quicker updates, please friend me on Facebook (I won't bite) or like my author page. I tend to update my Facebook profile more than the page, but I update both with relevant information more often than Twitter or tumblr...which are both just silly fun times all the time.
That's all I have for today. I know I've made this promise before, but I'll update more regularly. (I hope)






Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Equal Rights Blog Hop

The Equal Rights Blog Hop is brought to you by Queer Town Abbey. Click the banner to see the other participants. :) There are TWO giveaways: One from my blog and one from Queer Town Abbey. See below for details.

I write gay romance, but that’s not the reason I see myself as part of the GLBT community. I have many friends who are bi, lesbian, or gay. My best friend is gay, and when he came out to me during a movie date it didn’t register on a richter scale. It wasn’t that I had guessed or I already knew, but it just didn’t matter. He was himself regardless of his orientation. He was my friend I loved him then as much as I do now.

But even having friends doesn’t make me a part of the community. I’m a part of the GLBT community because I want my friends and the millions of strangers out there to have the same freedoms and rights I receive. I read the news and my heart hurts for the abandoned youth and couples denied basic human rights.

My novels are not strictly for naughty entertainment. I don’t think any political statement made in them could change the world, but there’s no telling what might open an eye somewhere.

In my latest release Paid Leave I built the story around two statements I wanted to make without making it obvious. The lead struggles against hate for his badge and for his sexual orientation. Benji is lucky enough to be in a novel where happy endings are expected, but not everyone lives where they can believe it will get better.

And that’s another reason I’m a part of GLBT community. Until the world is equal, I’ll be around doing what I can to stop prejudice and hate.  
That said, if you ever want to donate to some awesome sources, don't forget HRC and It Gets Better. They do the hard work.

Hayley’s giveaway:
Leave me a comment. One winner will be selected to receive a Paid Leave coffee mug and coffee from the shop that inspired Beans. (Neal's shop in Paid Leave)

Queer Town Abbey grand prize giveaway:
To enter, answer this question: Where did my best friend come out to me?
(for more info on the grand prize, and to read the other blogs in the hop, visit Queer Town Abbey.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Paid Leave Receives Positive Reviews

I don't normally like to toot my own horn, but I'm going to right now. Paid Leave has received some great reviews. I can honestly say this is the first of my novels to gain so many stars. I put a lot of love into Paid Leave, so I'm very happy to see readers enjoy it. It also really encourages me to finish the sequel!

-- Below are a few reviews I've seen and wanted to share --


4.5 Nymphs from Literary Nymphs Reviews Only.
"Paid Leave is a well written story that slowly brings the readers into Benji’s life and allows them to see how meeting the right person helps him become a stronger person. The personal and professional conflicts the men face help strengthen their relationship. This is a story that will find its way to many keeper piles. Fans of the M/M genre should really give it a try. "


5 Stars from World of Diversity Fiction.
"I loved this story! Benji could have been any gay man from any place in the world. He is the man afraid to come out, but will not let the man he loves go without standing up for himself and his relationship. I loved watching him grow as a character."
"I give Paid Leave, 5 stars! If you are looking for a law enforcement story that makes you want to turn the page and ask for more work from the author, then this story is for [you]!"


5 stars from Sid Love.
"The best thing about this story is that Hayley B James makes these characters so real. I loved that she avoided going down the route that most m/m romances take – making these two guys stereotypically gorgeous hunks with flowery descriptions of model style looks or perfect bodies - No! She gives us perfectly normal, everyday guys and that was what made this story so believable. "

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia 2013 #HAHAT


Even though the world is clearly changing, there's a long way to go before homophobia is seen by the  entire population as just as terrible of a thing as racism. I do believe there will be a day when the population as a whole will look into history books and cringe at their past ignorance.

There's a handy, interactive graph on the Guardian's website that I highly suggest you poke around on. It was posted May of 2012 and as I write this, it doesn't include Minnesota's newest law change. But it's still a great tool to really see the difference of rights between the communities. It's tangible and clear cut that there's a major difference and that's a major problem.


All these changes are coming from the changing mindset of the population. Change will happen. One day grand kids will be ashamed of their anti-gay grandparents just how today grand kids are embarrassed by granny's racist slurs leftover from the 1950s.

The internet and social sites have really pushed progress forward. It helps get the word out that "Hey! This shit is fucked up. Don't do it. People are people and love is love." Tumblr is a perfect example. The community on tumblr will not hesitate to call you out on anything. (It's a great place for feminism as a whole too)


People are constantly learning and evolving. Someone who was taught homophobia might be on tumblr one day and be called out on using "gay" as an insult, and after hearing the explanation of why it's wrong, that person might just start to change years of narrow thinking. Education and patience (sadly, still patience) is needed just as much as raising hell to get law makers to vote for and sign the right laws.

Overall I have high hopes for humanity even if sometimes it seems bleak.

EDIT: the contest is closed now. I'll be picking a winner and posting it tomorrow. Thank you for the comments!
EDIT 2: The winner has been selected and contacted via email.

--

If you leave a comment on this post, you'll be entered to win an ebook of my latest novel, Paid Leave. (the winner will be a randomly chosen comment and will be selected sometime after May 22. I'm actually out of the country right now.)

Blurb: Albuquerque police officer Benji Miller made the choice to hide his sexuality and devote his life to his career. He guards his secret carefully, believing he is protecting his job and happiness. Then, during a routine traffic stop gone awry, he shoots a suspect to protect a young girl, and his life spins out of control. A department-mandated paid leave rips away the only distraction he had, and he has to deal with the unsympathetic media who criticize the police department’s every move.

One day, needing to get out of the house, Benji walks into a café, where he meets Neal McCoy—a gay man living without shame, unafraid to speak his mind or stand up against prejudice. Benji quickly falls for Neal but struggles to combine his new love interest and his career. With the media threatening the careful illusion he’s built around himself, Benji can’t stand the pressure.

Benji has to decide: sacrifice his happiness in the name of his career and an easy life, or find the courage to give up the lonely existence he knows and take a step into the unknown.


Excerpt:

“So is my charm winning you over yet?”
“What charm?” Benji meant it as a joke, but Neal didn’t laugh.
“I’m usually very good at reading men, but you’re sending me mixed signals. I understand if you can’t tell when a man flirts, but at least tell me I’m not making a fool of myself and giving you a funny story to tell your girlfriend.”
“I don’t have a girlfriend.”
“Are we on the same team, Benji?” Neal changed his question into a more direct one Benji wasn’t comfortable answering.
“I have a convincing life of a straight bachelor I would like to maintain.” Benji couldn’t stop himself despite knowing he was ending chances before he even had a chance. “But that’s as far as it goes—a lie.”
“I see.” Neal nodded and watched Lucky chew a few dried twigs.
“I’m proud of what I am, Benji. If I could shit rainbows, I would.” Neal tugged on Lucky’s leash to get his attention and started toward the parking lot. “I like you, but it isn’t my place to convince you to change what you are.”
Benji was lost in a sea of his own insecurities that had flooded in following the shooting. Things he’d never challenged before became the only questions he had. “What if I want to be normal?”
His words froze Neal in his retreat. He looked over his shoulder, and his brown eyes carried sadness Benji wouldn’t have believed he was capable of experiencing. “You are normal, Benji.”
“What if I want more than what I’m allowed to have?”
“You struggle through hell to have what you deserve.”
Benji shook his head. “What if I lose my career?”
“I can’t answer that one. I don’t even know what you do.” Neal returned to Benji’s side and touched his arm. “It sounds like you need a friend more than a date.”
“I have friends.”
“Yeah. But I have a hunch that you don’t have friends that understand what it’s like to be gay.” Neal slipped his arm into Benji’s and started forward on the trail. “Let’s get back to the date. I know you’re not a coffee connoisseur, so what’s your favorite drink?”
Benji forced himself to relax. The trail was empty, and the birds hardly cared if two men touched. “Coke, I guess. After water. Most guys drink beer. I pick a cola.”
“We can break that bad habit,” Neal said. His chuckle warned Benji he was teasing.
“Do you only drink coffee?”
“Of course not. I also like water. We have so much in common, Benji.”

Friday, May 3, 2013

Available Now: Paid Leave

Paid Leave is now available at Dreamspinner Press. You can buy it today!
I'll be starting up promo late on this release. May is a month of vacation and packing the house for a remodel and a possible move. When I return, I'll be hosting a blog tour and giving away coffee from the coffee shop that inspired Beans in Paid Leave, coffee mugs, and of course copies of the book itself.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Guest: LJ LaBarthe

Please welcome guest author LJ LaBarthe! I got to say The Body on The Beach sounds like it needs a home on my Nook.

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Thanks for having me, Hayley!

The "Under the Southern Cross" anthology has stories from different genres and various Australian experiences, and I think it's fair to say that one thing the binds us all together, whether we're Australian or New Zealander or American or British or any other nationality, is food. Every country has its own 'signature dish(es)' and Australia is no different.

Anyone who has lived or visited here knows very well the deliciousness that is the Tim Tam cookie, which comes in a variety of flavours, or the tasty candy called Jaffas. We have billy tea, which is tea brewed in a tin can over an open fire, made popular in Australian folk song and poetry; damper, which is bread baked in an open fire or the meat pie. There's the pie floater (a meat pie in the middle of a bowl of green pea soup), or Vegemite (a spread made from brewer's yeast), or chiko rolls (a deep fried savoury roll vaguely like a spring roll).

There's also things like lamingtons (vanilla sponge cake squares coated in chocolate and coconut), fairy bread (buttered bread topped with hundreds and thousands), sausage rolls (flaky pastry wrapped around minced meat with herbs and spices, shaped like a long roll), or pavlova, which is a meringue cake with fruit and cream. There's some dispute about the origin of the pavlova, as some say it originated in New Zealand and not Australia.

One of the things I remember from my childhood is ANZAC biscuits. Originally, they were made as digestive biscuits for soldiers in the First World War, hence the name ANZAC. (ANZAC – Australia and New Zealand Army Corps.) Eggs were scarce during war time, so these biscuits are egg-free, which is great for me, as I'm allergic to eggs.

ANZAC biscuits were—and are—a popular biscuit. The scent of freshly baked ANZAC biscuits is one that always reminds me of home and family, and it's part of the Australian and New Zealand heritage. As the anthology and my story, "The Body on The Beach" are about Australians in Australia, I want to share this recipe with you and hope that you too will enjoy these biscuits as much as we do.

ANZAC Biscuits:

1 cup plain flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons golden syrup (if you don't have golden syrup, treacle is a close substitute).
1 teaspoon boiling water
1 cup rolled oats
125 g butter
2 teaspoons bicarbonate soda

*Note: Some recipes call for 2/3 cup of desiccated coconut as well, but my mum never put that into her biscuits. It's up to you.*

Mix flour, oats and sugar (and coconut, if using). Melt butter and golden syrup together. Mix bi-carbonate soda with boiling water and add to the butter mixture. Pour into dry ingredients and stir to combine. Place spoonfuls of mixture onto greased oven trays, leaving room for them to spread. Bake at 170o Celsius / 338o Fahrenheit for 20 minutes. Put onto a cooling tray to cool completely before packing away. Makes about 30.

(This recipe is from the East Goulburn Valley Country Women's Association and was first on the ABC.)


"The Body on The Beach" by L. J. LaBarthe.

Blurb: In 1920, a body is found on Brighton Beach, Adelaide. Billy Liang has been living a respectable life as the representative of Adelaide’s Chinese community—with his lover, lawyer Tom Williams, discreetly at his side. When evidence seems to implicate the people Billy represents, he steps up to help solve the murder. He and Tom deal with illegal opium dens, fantan games and gambling, racism, and being shot at. Though Billy’s family accepts the love he and Tom share, Australia’s laws against sodomy and homosexuality pose a constant danger. Now, the body on the beach brings a whole new threat to Billy and Tom’s life in Adelaide.



You can find L. J. at:
Twitter: @brbsiberia

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Guest: Anne Barwell

My guest today is Anne Barwell! She shares her thoughts about urban fantasy and some information on her WIP. Enjoy!

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Urban Fantasy  - a brief tourists' guide to The Sleepless City.
A big "thank you" to Hayley for the invitation to visit her blog today. 

Why urban fantasy?  When I was growing up, the term was virtually unheard of, although there were some stories out there set in cities with characters who were supernatural beings such as werewolves, vampires, ghosts and the like, if you could find them. But then, during that time it was difficult to find much in the way of fantasy, as science fiction was more popular.  
Today the shelves are full of fantasy, and a large number of those are urban fantasy. Why the attraction to the genre?
I can't speak for others but I really like the idea of something different lurking out there amongst the city streets, of there either being another world amongst the cracks in the concrete or one which co-exists alongside our own without our knowledge.  I'm a big fan of finding the extra ordinary in the ordinary, and especially of a scenario where someone wanders into this kind of world and has to adapt to it quickly and become a part of it themselves, either to survive or if they want to be with the person they love.
I've always enjoyed a good vampire or werewolf story, and thought why shouldn't these beings live alongside humans? Urban fantasy explores that, and what it means to be different. In most stories the supernatural pass themselves off as humans for the most part, except for when their talents are needed to bring down what is often referred to as a 'big bad'.  And yes, I am a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, why do you ask?
Of course there's the flip side of it all as being a vampire, a werewolf, or a ghost does have its downside. What happens when a vampire falls for a human who is going to age and die while the vampire keeps living physically unchanged, for centuries? I think that's the real curse, watching everything and everyone around you change while you don't.
I wrote a series of short stories a few years ago about a photographer who fell for a vampire, the irony of it that he would never be able to capture the man he loved on film. I really liked these characters, and the scenario and wanted to do something further with them, so when Elizabeth Noble and I were discussing vampires one day – as one does -  and she said she had a vampire character she'd like to write more of too, our series The Sleepless City was born.
So far we have five books planned, and we're having a lot of fun with it. The first book is Shades of Sepia, which is my current WIP, and Elizabeth is writing book two, Electric Candle.  The main characters are vampires, werewolves, ghosts and the photographer I mentioned before, although his character has morphed a bit since then, as they all have. We're going for a slightly different take on vampire and werewolf lore, and it's led to some very interesting conversations.
I'll leave you with the blurb for Shades of Sepia, and a brief excerpt to whet your appetite. Keep in mind though, that this is currently a WIP... Stay tuned.

Blurb:
A serial killer stalks the streets of Flint, Ohio. The victims are always found in pairs, one human and one vampire.
Simon Hawthorne has been a vampire for nearly a hundred years and he has never seen anything like it before. Neither have any of others who make up the team of supernaturals he works with to keep the streets safe for both their kind and the humans who live in this city.
One meeting with Simon and Ben Leyton finds himself falling for a man he knows is keeping secrets, but he can't ignore the growing attraction between them. Ben has only recently arrived in Flint, and finding it very different from his native New Zealand, but there's something about Simon that makes Ben feel as though he's found a new home.
After a close friend becomes one of the killer's victims, Simon is torn between revealing his true nature to Ben, and walking away and avoiding the reaction he fears. But with the body count rising and the murders becoming more frequent is it already too late to prevent either of them from becoming the next victim? 

+++

"Cool. I knew you guys were like the Justice League or something."
Lucas laughed. "I was going more for the Legion of Super Heroes actually."
"Yeah but the League has Batman in it," Blair began, "and the Legion is―" Luckily whatever he was going to say was interrupted by the sound of a telephone ringing.  Once he and Lucas started on one of their comics' conversations they'd go for what seemed forever.
"Aren't you going to answer that?" Forge asked Simon.
"What?" Simon glanced around for the source of the ringing. He didn't get telephone calls, and had presumed the noise was coming from wherever Blair was.
"You're the only one around here who insists on that horrible ringtone," Forge pointed out, "so it's obviously your phone."  He'd complained about it ever since Simon had explained―quite logically he'd thought― that if he was to carry a telephone it made sense for it to at least sound like one.
"Try your pockets?" said Lucas helpfully.
"Oh right." Simon fished his telephone out of his pocket. Its screen was flashing with the name of the caller. Simon stared at it.
"You're supposed to answer it, not stare at it," Forge said. "Or have you forgotten how to again?"
"I know how to answer it." Simon poked at appropriate button then held the telephone up to his ear. "Simon speaking. How can I help you?"
Forge snickered. Simon glared at him, thought for a moment about retreating to somewhere more private then realised it would be a waste of time. Damn vampire hearing. Not that werewolves and ghosts were much better.
"Hey, Simon. It's Ben."
Perhaps he was calling to say he'd thought twice about meeting for coffee. But why would he take the time to do that? Surely if that were the case he'd just not contact Simon again at all?
"Hello, Ben."  Simon took a couple of steps toward the door, half turning his back on the other occupants of the room.
"I rang to apologise," Ben said, his words tumbling out over each other.
"Apologise?" Simon frowned. "Why?" If anyone should be apologising for the way in which their conversation had ended, it should be him.
"I obviously upset you, and I'm sorry."
"You didn't," Simon reassured him. "I overreacted. I do that sometimes." He reached for his glass of milk and took a long draught. Feeling a little calmer, he collected his thoughts before breaking the silence. "Would you still like to meet for coffee?"
Lucas and Forge high fiving was something best ignored, as was the smug expression on both their faces.
"Yeah, sure, that would be great." Ben answered Simon very quickly. "When and where? I'm working a long shift tomorrow so that won't work but I don't start until eleven on Thursday."
After mentally consulting his calendar, Simon nodded. "That would be fine. I don't have lectures on Thursday mornings. Do you know Hunter's on West 13th Street? We could meet at there at nine."
"I haven't been there but I'll find it," Ben said. "See you at nine then on Thursday?"
"Yes. Goodbye, Ben."
"Bye, Ben," called out Lucas.
"Bye ..." Ben trailed off. "Hey, who is that?" His voice took on a rather suspicious tone. "Simon, is there someone listening in on us?"
"Unfortunately, yes," Simon said.  "I share my... building... with some friends who don't understand the concept of privacy. That was Lucas. I'll explain on Thursday."
"Okay.  Bye."
"Goodbye," Simon said again, this time to a darkened telephone. He shoved it back in his pocket.
"He sounds cute," said Lucas. "I like the accent." He grinned. "Can I come too? I want to hear how you explain me."

+++

Bio:
Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand, sharing her home with her twin daughters, at least during the holidays, when one of them isn't away at university. Her son has left home and started his own family, although she claims she is too young to be a grandmother already. Her three cats are convinced that the house is run to suit them; this is an ongoing "discussion," and to date it appears as though the cats may be winning.

In 2008 she completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching and has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and a librarian. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction club and plays piano for her local church and violin for a local orchestra.

She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as "too many." These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of "spare time" is really just a myth.

Links:

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Guest: Skylar M. Cates


 Today my guest is Skylar M. Cates! Skylar talks about tropes and repetition authors use. I read a lot of mystery, and the genre follows a formula. But I love a mystery even if I can spot the formula, so I always go back to the genre no matter.

--

You’re My Obsession
Writers are constantly trying to create something new with every novel. They like to push the envelope. They like to grow and change and defy expectation…Don’t they? That is the question that I’m struggling with today. Do writers repeat? Do readers want that repetition?

I think that the answer is yes.

When I pick up a Pat Conroy novel, for example, I expect to see an abusive military type of father and a struggling son. If it is a theme that Conroy repeats in several books, then it is a theme that resonates with me. I like it. I might even be disappointed in one of his works that didn’t have a Great Santini type of father. Similarly, I expect to have a fun time with a Janet Evanovich story. I don’t want her to suddenly turn morose. When I am in the mood for heavy reading, I still turn to a good classic like Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, but I don’t want that in Finger Licking Fifteen.

Recently, I stumbled upon an argument amongst romance writers who were attempting to clarify how they, “Go beyond mere romance trope.” It struck me that I love trope. Give me friends-to-lovers, hate-to-love, lovers reuniting trope. Whenever I pick up the novels of the romance queens like Jayne Anne Krentz or Nora Roberts, I want trope---repeated, predictable trope--- and they deliver it. It is the dependability of the trope combined with their particular writing style that I actually savor.

But what about the writers desires?  Should they deliberately try and change their patterns? Isn’t it important to spread their wings and take some risks?

I’m too new to even know what my patterns are in my books. I’m sure that over time, readers will let me know. It won’t surprise me to hear, though, that I unconsciously repeat themes or even images. We all have obsessions, right? There are some core ideas that float around in our heads. They come from our childhoods, our lovers, our lives. Even if we change genres, make a concentrated effort to write something new, I suspect that these obsessions will still linger, hovering like ghosts. On the other hand, I do see some value in pushing some limits and trying to slay them.

So I’m throwing the question out there to readers and to writers. For the readers, I am wondering if you like spotting an author’s obsessions? If so, why do you like it? Or does it bore you? Do you like it when your most beloved author goes in a completely different direction or do you resent it?  

For my writer friends here, I’m wondering if you try and escape from your own patterns (whether it is in terms of style, theme, POV, or plot)? Do you embrace it, or is it an albatross around your neck?

Tell me your obsessions and I’ll tell you mine.

  
Skylar’s novel, Exposed, is available from Dreamspinner Press:
Links:
http://skylarmcates.wordpress.com/
Buy link and contact link:
 http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/y links:
skylarmcates@yahoo.com

Description:
After years of running from a traumatic secret, young journalist Rafe Quintero is making his way in the world alone. Now that he’s landed a job at a Miami newspaper, he’s hungry for success. His goal? A blistering exposé on closeted PGA golfer Daniel Andrews. Rafe will stop at nothing to get the scoop—even if it means going undercover on Daniel’s private yacht.
Daniel is used to being in the spotlight, but his reputation for being cold and unfriendly hasn’t made him very popular. Still reeling from his mother’s death and his ex-boyfriend’s engagement, he hides out on his yacht to escape the press hounding his every step. His instant attraction to Rafe, his new crew member, is a problem he can't ignore.
When Rafe and Daniel begin a steamy affair, Rafe knows it’s only a matter of time before Daniel discovers his betrayal. Now he has to choose: confess and hope Daniel can swallow his pride and forgive him, or put his ambition ahead of his heart and follow the story.


Monday, April 15, 2013

Cover Revealed! Paid Leave

Albuquerque police officer Benji Miller made the choice to hide his sexuality and devote his life to his career. He guards his secret carefully, believing he is protecting his job and happiness. Then, during a routine traffic stop gone awry, he shoots a suspect to protect a young girl, and his life spins out of control. A department-mandated paid leave rips away the only distraction he had, and he has to deal with the unsympathetic media who criticize the police department’s every move. 

One day, needing to get out of the house, Benji walks into a café, where he meets Neal McCoy—a gay man living without shame, unafraid to speak his mind or stand up against prejudice. Benji quickly falls for Neal but struggles to combine his new love interest and his career. With the media threatening the careful illusion he’s built around himself, Benji can’t stand the pressure. 

Benji has to decide: sacrifice his happiness in the name of his career and an easy life, or find the courage to give up the lonely existence he knows and take a step into the unknown.

Pre-order today from Dreamspinner Press

--

Paul Richmond has created another beautiful work of art. I simply can't explain how much I love this cover. Paid Leave comes out on May 3, 2013. I plan to do a little celebrating and have some awesome prizes so mark your calendars!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Guest: Grace R. Duncan

Today my guest is Grace R. Duncan. Comment to be entered into a drawing for a bag of swag and a signed copy of Choices. Good luck!

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Hayley B. James is a big fan of this cover 
I am fairly new to professional writing.  Choices is my first published novel, my first truly professional endeavor.  I’ve self-pubbed one story before but that was it.  The rest of my writing started out as fanfiction, which I’d been doing for some four years before Choices was published.

In all that time, I have been writing adult-oriented fiction.  I like sex, I like to write it and in all the stories I’ve written, only one has prompted someone to tell me that I had too much sex in there.  And I have gotten some really nasty reviews over my fanfiction.  I write BDSM – quite a bit – and I’m not ashamed of that.  Because many of my stories are BDSM-centric, they also involve a lot of sex. 

So, imagine my surprise when the first negative comments to come back on Choices was talking about there being too much sex.  Tacked on to that involved comments about it being the same sex over and over and I have to say that I was really surprised.  I had gone to great lengths to keep the sex scenes fresh. 

My content editor and I went over them many times, did a lot of cutting, moving and refining and both of us were quite happy with what came out. 

But that whole thing led me to start wondering – how do you keep sex fresh when writing erotica? I mean, let’s be real, erotica comes with certain expectations, like a lot of sex.  Most also expect a decent variety of it.

I was talking to a friend of mine tonight and he agreed, when you’re talking about vanilla sex, there are only so many ways to write it.  Location, position, things like that, but unless one of the guys is holding a Kama Sutra, it’s not going to be all that varied. 

As a writer of BDSM, that helps.  When you bring kink into the picture, things open up.  I can’t begin to imagine that Choices would have been nearly as erotic if it wasn’t BDSM-focused.   But BDSM gives a lot of options, and I enjoyed using many of them.  Bondage, denial, pain, Domination and submission – many of these things allowed me to keep the sex scenes fresh and different. 

It’s not easy, even when there are relatively few sex scenes in a book, to make them different.  As I pointed out above, there are really only so many ways to HAVE vanilla sex, much less write it.  Choices will not be, by far, my last novel.  I have some 20 different stories running around in my head.  Some of those will be erotica, some of them won’t.  A few of them may not even have sex in them (I know, this is shocking to me, too, believe me!). 

But I think that, perhaps because it’s not easy, I look forward to the challenge, I look for ways to make it different, both in and out of kink.  Here’s to hoping I manage it.

* * *
Thank you again to Hayley for hosting me! I am very appreciative of the opportunity.  Do be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win a bag of swag!  I’ll be drawing the name on Monday, April 15th, along with the winner of the signed paperback copy of Choices!
Thank you for stopping by and reading!
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Born and raised a gypsy in the late eleventh century, Teman values freedom over everything. He and his best friend, Jasim, are thieves for hire—until one night they're caught and their precious freedom is revoked. Given the choice between the dungeons or palace pleasure slavery, they become slaves, but Teman vows to escape someday.

Bathasar doesn’t want the throne. He supports his brother instead, which suits their sadistic father, Mukesh. When Teman, the handsome slave Bathasar has secretly been watching, saves his life, Bathasar requests a slave for the first time. Before long, Bathasar and Teman fall in love. But all is not well. One day Mukesh brutalizes Teman before the court, angering the empress of a neighboring nation. To appease her, he then offers her Jasim as a gift, and Teman decides to stay with Bathasar for now—despite the abuse he may suffer.

The peace doesn’t last. Mukesh plans to invade Jasim's new country, and Bathasar must find a way to stop the destruction. But if he succeeds, he'll ascend to the throne and have the power to grant Teman his liberty. Then Teman will surely leave him. What other choice could a gypsy make?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Guest: Antonio

Today my guest is first-time published author Antonio! I'm very excited to read Dueling Divas(An Avondale Story), and am happy to have Antonio as a guest today. 

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I’d been writing on and off for years, but never really thought about getting anything published.  The idea of sitting at a desk and actually typing a story didn’t appeal to me until the stories started coming to me demanding to be written.  It’s at the point where you write— not because you want to or just feel like it, but because something inside you has to do it.
The funny thing is, when I sat down to write, it wasn’t the chore I thought it would be, but rather more of an organic process.  Just the very act of typing and writing fueled my creativity and the words just seemed to flow.

What’s it like getting my first novel Dueling Divas(An Avondale Story) published:
I felt very lucky having the first novel I’d ever submitted to Dreamspinner Press accepted.  Getting the e-mail from them saying they wanted my novel touched me more profoundly and deeply than I ever would’ve thought it would.  There was such a sense of having achieved something, that was recognized as being worthwhile, that was unlike anything else I’d ever felt in my life.

The nitty-gritty of getting ready to be published:
The editing process can be excruciating for a newbie.  My editors were all very nice, but the first time someone suggested a change in a story or word, I learned just how attached I was to my work.  You learn a lot about yourself when dealing with criticism and you also learn how much of yourself is actually in the story.  It’s definitely a growing process and you’re not just a better writer, but a better person by the end of it.
It can also be a fun experience.  I thoroughly enjoyed working with cover artist Reese Dante.

Surprises:
The biggest surprise to me happened during the editing process.  My story went through a couple of editors before I submitted it, and after I submitted it, which meant I was constantly rereading it.  As the writer I thought for sure there would be a point where I’d start getting tired of reading the story over and over.  Funnily enough, I never got to that point.  There were times it felt like I was reading a story written by someone else and I’d be completely drawn into it.  One moment I’d be laughing at something a character said and at times I would feel a tear or two roll down from my eyes.  That’s when I remembered something we’d discussed in my college literature class years ago.  A good story can be read many times and each time you read it you can find something new and interesting.

Things I learned during the writing process:
I learned that a writer collects characters that have surrounded him or her their entire life.  Bits and pieces of people we know well or those we meet and know for a brief moment in time combine to add the flavors of real life into our stories.  As a writer, the things I’ve seen and felt passionate about make their way into my stories and because they were meaningful to me; others have found them meaningful as well.  And, I was surprised by the people who came to me, interested in what I had to say as a writer.  It’s never who you think it will be.
There was another surprising thing I learned during the writing process.  I learned just how fun and satisfying it can be to play God.  You other writers, know what I mean.  It’s when you realize that a character’s fate lies solely in your hands, and their happiness or sadness all depends on you.  An editor reading one of the stories I’m currently working on was shocked by the fate of one of my characters.  The joy I felt in surprising the person, whose opinion I valued, was immense.
Having stated the above, I also have to take a step back and say that sometimes the characters in a story lead you where they want to go.  In one story I decided on a name for a female character but every time I typed it I would accidentally use a different name.  It was clear she wanted the second name and eventually I gave in to her.  Sounds crazy, I know, but it happens.  In another story I had planned for one couple to be together at the end, but was actually surprised when one of the men ended up with someone else.  Sometimes your characters surprise you, even though you’re the writer.

My advice for would-be-writers:
Follow your dreams and don’t be afraid to go for it.  Before I submitted my novel I submitted two short stories (thinking that route would be easier)   and both were rejected for different reasons.  But I didn’t quit, instead I realized that my ideas worked better as full-length novels and I decided to just go for the big one and submit a novel.

Dueling Divas (an Avondale Story):
I think it’s a great story and I believe that a writer needs to like their work and feel good about it before anyone else can.  First and foremost, I want my stories to be about the characters above all else.  There have to be characters for people to root for, who they want to see succeed and be happy.  And like real life there also have to be the villains or the odd sort that you just don’t like.
Also like real, life Dueling Divas reflects the joys, sorrows and strange relationships that exist in our day to day lives.  But, it also thrusts people out of their comfort zones into new worlds to discover new things.  Dueling Divas is at times fun and campy, then at other points tragic and maybe even a little scary and of course sometimes in the middle of all that —true love rears its head demanding to be heard and acknowledged.

An excerpt, exclusive to this blog,  from Dueling Divas (an Avondale story)
In this scene one of the main characters named Bobby is helping take care of his nephews and niece while his sister Stacey shops for groceries.  Then out of nowhere something happens:

Excerpt from Dueling Divas chapter five:
They finished breakfast and loaded everyone into the van.  Stacey thought about how nice it was having Bobby to keep the children occupied with his clownish antics.  “I swear, Bobby, sometimes I think you’re just an overgrown kid, but I appreciate you,” Stacey said.
“Just because we get older doesn’t mean we have to act older,” Bobby said.  “Just call me Peter Pan.”
Outside of Publix, Bobby put Meggy and the other kids in one of the large shopping carts made to look like cars.
“Not too wild now,” Stacey said.
“Oh, come on, sis,” Bobby said before making car noises with his mouth and speeding off with the cart and kids into the grocery store.  They went down one aisle and then the other with Bobby swerving and turning fast with the cart much to the kid’s delight.
“Faster, Uncle Bobby!  Faster!”
“Vroom!  Vroom!” Bobby said as he picked up speed.
The kids were laughing as Bobby raced through the store.  As they turned a corner in front of the freezer section, something caught Bobby’s eye.  At the center of the aisle was “the perfect ass”, belonging to the man who was bent over putting up stock.  I’m in love, he thought.
“Wow!” Bobby said loud enough for Meggy to hear.
“Wow what, Uncle Bobby?  Wow what?”  Meggy said.
“Don’t worry about it,” Bobby said as he looked back at that ass and then promptly crashed his cart into the stocker’s cart in front of him, knocking some of the supplies over.
“Oops, sorry,” Bobby said back toward the stocker as he bent over to pick up the boxes of frozen vegetables.
When Bobby looked up, a gorgeous Mediterranean-looking man standing over six feet tall and brushing a dark curl away from his eye was looking down at him.  It was all he could do to keep his tongue from hanging out.  Here was the man of his dreams made flesh.  And here he was running through every clichéd phrase he’d ever known from every cliché romance ever created.  The crazy thing was suddenly they all made sense to him and felt very real.  God, he was even getting weak in the knees.  Seeing the man smiling at him made him feel like a complete idiot.  Then came his nervous laugh which he hoped didn’t come across more like a giggle.  He tried to regain control of the situation.  The one thing he never liked was the idea of not being in control.  “Again, so sorry.  I’ve got to watch who… I mean what I’m doing.”  He laughed again embarrassed by his blunder.
“That’s alright, Sir.”
“Wow,” Meggy said.
Stacey had caught up with them by then. “I had a feeling that crashing sound I heard would have something to do with you, Bobby,” she said.
The stocker stared at Stacey for a minute before exclaiming, “You!”
“Excuse me,” Stacey said.
“It’s you,” Nash said.

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Link to novel Dueling Divas, (An Avondale Story) by Antonio on Dreamspinner sitehttp://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3649
Link to Dueling Divas e-book by Antonio on Dreamspinner Press site

Thank you and enjoy!

            Antonio


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Guest Post: Tinnean

Today my guest is Tinnean!

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I’ve talked before of the necessity for me to have a title before I can comfortably start to write. It can be as inane as Disclaimers in the Prologue or as telling as The One Who Got the Bullet Was Lucky.

This time, it was simple. I was writing about a couple of men who were getting married, so the title would be Here Comes the Groom.

But then I realized that the crux of the story was being faithful, so I changed the title to The Wedding Vow. No, wait a second, they’d both be exchanging vows, so: The Wedding Vows.

I usually find listening to music very conducive to writing. (and less distracting than watching TV) WAVV, the radio station down here in SW Florida, is great for the easy listening sound that’s my music of choice, but Sonic, the music service offered by DirecTV, nails it when I want to hear tunes of the ’50s.   

We were talking about titles, weren’t we? How did we get to music? Let me tell you about that. ;-)

One evening, while I was listening to Malt Shop Oldies on Sonic, Chuck Berry’s “Brown-Eyed Handsome Man” came on.

All right, the perfect title! Brown-Eyed Handsome Man!

Now, Kipp was always going to be a blue-eyed blond, but Hyde’s coloring was up in the air. Hearing this song gave me the perfect description for him.

But wait a second: brown-eyed, as used in song, usually denotes someone of color. (The Righteous Brothers’ “Brown-Eyed Woman” and Van Morrison’s “Brown-Eyed Girl”.) Id never written an interracial romance before. Could I do it?

Yes, I could! I’ve got a great title, two loveable characters, and I like the route this story is taking.

So I’m keying my little heart out, and all of a sudden, Kipp is having a conversation with his Granddad:

I shook my head. “That clause in the contract…. Why marry me?”
“Haven’t you looked into a mirror recently?”
“Of course. ‘Item, two lips, indifferent red—’”

Wait, what? Okay, I go for offbeat titles (see my first Dreamspinner novel, Bless Us With Content –emphasis on the second syllable), but this one... I liked it. I liked it a lot.
I finished the story, sent it off to Dreamspinner, and signed a contract for it.

And that, kiddies, is how Here Comes the Groom came to be Two Lips, Indifferent Red.
(Although the folder is still labeled Groom.) *falls down laughing*

Excerpt:

Charlestown, Pennsylvania
May 2017
Charlestown, Pennsylvania was beautiful in May. The trees that lined the streets of the small university town had leafed out earlier in the month. Flowers bloomed in a riot of color and scents in front of the stately homes that now served as dormitories for Charles T. Armand University.
Of course, I wasn’t able to enjoy that balmy spring day. The semester had come to an end, and while I’d taken most of my finals, there were two left, and I intended to do as well on them as I’d done on the others. Scholarships funded my education at Armand U, and I needed to maintain my GPA.
I took a break when my bladder informed me in no uncertain terms that if I didn’t pay a visit to the john now, things were going to get ugly.
And since I had already interrupted my studying, I decided to go down to the first floor, where there was a vending machine. I could use the sugar rush, and a bag of M&Ms would do the trick.
It would take a little while for the sugar to work its magic, so I went out onto the front porch and leaned against the railing.
The air was like warm silk against my face, and I closed my eyes, tipped back my head, and breathed in the lovely fragrance of the flowers I’d helped plant earlier in the spring.
Well, standing here doesn’t get the studying done. “Time to get back to the books, Llewellyn.”
I returned to my room, opened the door, and frowned.
“Hey, Kipp! I thought you’d fallen in!” My roommate, Andrew Scott, was sprawled casually on my bed. Of course he wasn’t on his own bed—that was piled high with the clothes he was packing to go home.
I could have lived without him, but I hadn’t been given much choice. I’d learned early on in life not to make waves, and so I generally wound up with the roommates no one else wanted: players, partiers, and general pains in the ass. The room would be mine alone during the summer semester, but hopefully, come the fall I’d have someone who didn’t get quite as much on my last nerve.
Kippers! You with me, boy?”
I paused for a minute before turning and closing the door behind me. I hated when people called me Kippers, but I hated being called “boy” even more. Hearing that always made me look around for my father.
“Yes?” 
“Phone call for you!” He waggled my cell phone.
“And you felt the need to answer it?”
“Hey, we’re genetically programmed to do that. Besides, that ring tone….”
“Oh?” My heart felt like it was doing somersaults. “Was it ‘Brown-Eyed Handsome Man’?” 
He shrugged. “I didn’t recognize it, but it sounded like elevator music to me.”
That didn’t surprise me. If it wasn’t something like “I Wanna Sex You Up” or “Bust a Move,” he had no idea what it was.
I rarely got phone calls, so I assumed it was a prank he had set up. “Tell whoever it is that I’m not interested and hang up my phone.”
“You sure? She sounds sexy as all hell!”
Now I was certain it was a prank. Sexy-as-all-hell women didn’t call me. Not that I minded; I’d much rather have received a call from a guy, and one guy in particular.  He was older, and so sexy, although that wouldn’t have mattered—I’d have been content with someone who loved me, no matter what he looked like. 
I’d learned better than to let a handsome face draw me in.
I thought of Daniel, who’d not only made a fool of me in high school, but who’d broken my heart as well.
We’d gone to grade school together until second grade. At that time, I was sent to a boarding school in upstate New York, where no one knew me as Marcus Llewellyn’s son, and where I was happy.
That lasted until I was fourteen, when, as abruptly as I’d been sent away, I’d been ordered to return home and informed that I would start Benjamin Martin High in the fall.
I ran into Daniel when it turned out we had homeroom together. And embarrassingly, I popped wood. Every time I looked at him, I wound up with an erection, and so I got into the habit of wearing my shirt untucked.
By our senior year, not only was Daniel a jock, he headed the debate team, played clarinet in the school orchestra, sang in senior chorus, always got the lead role in drama club, and was president of the student body. Added to that, he was so handsome there wasn’t a girl in school who’d say no to him. Rumor had it that included some of the teachers as well.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Guest Post: JP Barnaby Shares Something Sexy

Today I have the wondrous J.P. Barnaby as my guest. She's sharing a yummy one-shot. Thank you, J.P.!
Enjoy!

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 Online
Part One: Virtually Loved
By J. P. Barnaby

The laptop shifted on the bed as his back arched against the draw of his impending orgasm. Seeing the lust in Tom’s digital eyes made Eli ache. Skype was such a beautiful thing—especially when you lived at the edge of the world. A tinny moan from the speakers warned him that his virtual lover might beat him to the promise land if he didn’t get on the ball, so to speak.
“Eli, God, I wish it were your hand on my cock,” the slightly blurred image of Tom called from thousands of miles away over the impersonal expanse of wires connecting their computers. The act was so intimate, so personal, but the medium in which they spoke turned out to be anything but. Eli thought that being able to see Tom, to hear him, would make the experience better. It only intensified Eli’s longing to touch the other man. He decided just to play along.
“I wish it were my mouth on your cock,” Eli said, his Spanish heavier and more pronounced in the heady arousal. Part of him wanted to keep his eyes open, to watch even the distorted image of Tom as he jacked off for Eli, but the tingle of his own hand was impossible to resist. He rested back against the pillows, allowing Tom a view of his naked skin from the tiny camera pointed up the length of his torso. When he closed his eyes, a faceless lover pulled Eli’s legs over muscled forearms and thrust powerful hips forward. Careful of the laptop, Eli rolled to the side and pulled a small bottle of lube from the drawer next to his bed. Using it sparingly, he drizzled the thick liquid over the toy and ran a slow finger around his tight hole. Supplementing the lube with spit, he slid one finger gingerly inside, getting himself ready. He loved the sweet stretch and burn as another finger joined the first, teasing him open.
A deep groan from the computer caught his attention and he opened his eyes. Tom was only half stroking himself, but watching Eli with great interest. Self-conscious, Eli let his fingers slip from his body, but his voyeur spoke up in an instant.
“You looked so beautiful. Please don’t stop,” he whispered and even the distance separating them couldn’t hide the desperate need from Tom’s voice. Eli turned the computer so that he couldn’t see Tom’s face, but picked up the dildo from where it had fallen on his chest. The lube stuck lightly to the soft hair on his chest and his hands shook as he pulled one knee up to his chest, the knee farthest from the camera as his favorite porn stars would do. His heart raced with the sheer decadence of fucking himself on camera even before the tip breeched his opening.
The harsh moan came from his own lips as his body opened to accommodate the thick toy. He imagined the way the transparent phallus would look if he could see it splitting him open. The lube caused the flared tip of the dildo to slide in his fingers as he drove it deeper and felt every inch filling him. A bead of sweat trickled from his temple as Eli started a slow, deliberate rhythm, fucking himself with hard, even strokes. A small sigh escaped each time it slid home and rubbed against that sweet spot inside him.
Undulating between the fake cock in his ass and the tight grip of his fist, Eli lost himself as he spread his legs wider and drove his hips off the bed. A tingle of excitement shot through his spine and he remembered the camera. Someone watched him as he lay spread, wanton across his bed, fucking himself with abandon. Opening his eyes, he looked right into the camera, incidentally seeing the motion of Tom’s hand. He bit his lip as the feeling rose up in his groin. For what felt like hours, but could only have been a few minutes, Eli teetered on the edge of one of the best orgasms of his life. He loved that he could excite and entice a man in another part of the world by getting off for him.
The power rush made him dizzy and he fell back against the bed as he came in long hot bursts over his tanned stomach with a succession of short quiet cries. Dimly in the background, he heard Tom groan and knew that the other man reached his peak as well. Breathing heavily, he closed the laptop and disconnected the Skype session.
He’d apologize later, but in that moment, Eli felt incredibly alone.

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Award winning romance novelist, J. P. Barnaby has penned over a dozen books including the Forbidden Room series, the Little Boy Lost series, and Aaron. As a bisexual woman, J.P. is a proud member of the GLBT community both online and in her small town on the outskirts of Chicago. A member of Mensa, she is described as brilliant but troubled, sweet but introverted, and talented but deviant. She spends her days writing software and her nights writing erotica, which is, of course, far more interesting. The spare time that she carves out between her career and her novels is spent reading about the concept of love, which, like some of her characters, she has never quite figured out for herself.