A Jeri Review: Unsteady (On Solid Ground #3) by Melissa Collins

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Rating: 4 Stars out of 5

Although this book is officially the third in a series, it absolutely can be read as a stand alone.

Melissa Collins writes really good damaged men. Damaged in a way that makes you want to cheer for them and hug them and want their happily ever after.

Micah was an army brat, moving every few years and never really making connections with people. When his father finally retired and they settled in Texas, he found himself defending Jude against bullies in the high school locker room. Offering both friendship and a work out partner, they were inseparable.

Jude thought he was doing the right thing by telling Micah to get out of his life. Looking back, it was totally the wrong thing. But 10 years have passed and he still can’t forgive himself. So when Micah suddenly calls him out of the blue looking to visit, crash at his place, whatever- Jude can’t say no.

Micah and Jude have a long road of forgiveness to travel together.  But watching them reconnect, forgive and fall in love again is beautiful. Even though Micah had way more issues than Jude- it was Jude who broke my heart. Ten years later, still taking care of his father, living in the closet and working at the school of his bullied childhood. And even though Jude was doing what he loved at the school- I can’t imagine going back there day after day.

And just when I thought Micah was doing well- Jude takes him on a surprise day trip. And Micah freaked out. Ugh I was gutted. His agony was so evident. Especially since the trigger was something you wouldn’t even think of!

Two beautiful but damaged souls healing together and healing each other. This story will rip your heart out, but also make you swoon. It was beautifully written with great regard to the life a soldier with PTSD and permanent injuries would have.

Cover design: Sommer Stein at Perfect Pair Creative Covers.  Cover is hot and eye-catching.

Sales Links  AMAZON

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition
Published April 28th 2017 by M. Collins Author, LLC
ASINB071V5B5T1
SeriesOn Solid Ground #3

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Best New Artist by BA Tortuga

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

 

Kasey “Tuff” Tuffman just told Nashville to kiss his you know what. After winning Best New Artist at an award show, he knows it’s time to head back home to Texas. So after a very public meltdown, Tuff makes his way to Austin, where the Red Dirt music lives large.

Jonah Littlejohn once loved KT more than anything in the world. When KT loses it on national TV, Jonah knows he has to reach out and offer his home studio as a place to heal and make music. A bad relationship has left Jonah broken and wary of romance, but he wants to help his old lover out.

Seeing Jonah again proves to Tuff that he’s made the right decision. Now all he has to do is convince Jonah that they’re the most perfect duet there’s ever been.

Because of BA Tortuga and  Best New Artist, I now know about Red Dirt music, its place in Texas country music and and the artists so often thought of when that term comes up. I want to listen to all their music.  I know about a place called Amaya’s in Austin that makes the best enchiladas. I know I need to go and eat there.  I know about Tuff and JoJo, Littlejohn recording studio and their family of friends and well, family.  I know I love them all too.  Finally, I know know that B.A. Tortuga needs to write another book with these people in them not in the least because of Doodle and Nana, because I need everyone back home in Texas, where they belong, happy deep in my heart.

That’s a lot of knowing.

But then again, Best New Artist is a lot of book.  There’s no question that B.A. Tortuga is a  Texas gal,  this book oozes love for this state out of every narrative pore possible.  Locations, names, food, music…the story is steeped in all things that this author loves and wants to share with her readers.  It’s doled out in bits through her characters, two and four footed, an element I treasure.  In Best New Artist, we have Kasey “Tuff” Tuffman who left home and the man he loved behind 10 years ago chasing a dream of fame and fortune only to find what he wanted wasn’t what he found.  Cue a very loud, unrehearsed and bridge-burning meltdown on television after being awarded Best New Artist.  Watching said meltdown?  The man he still loves and left behind.

The story is told from Tuff’s and JoJo’s (Jonah’s) perspectives which is necessary in order to catch up on some of the 10 year gap between the time they split up and the time they reunite.  Who was responsible each time for the breakup and the decision to reunite might surprise you.  Jonah Littlejohn isn’t just the man  waiting on Tuff to return, thank goodness.  He’s become a hugely successful musician in his own right with a sought after recording studio and group of in house musicians.  But he also has his own story to tell, a darker element here but very well done.    There is no immediate romance but a slow burn  as they get to know each other once more, figuring out trust issues and the question of being outwardly gay in a country music world.  BA Tortuga has layers upon layers for these characters to work through, just as it should be after 10 years apart.  Taking that journey with this couple, as painful as it is at times?  So rewarding and heartwarming, even more so as they come back together.

Its also not just Tuff and JoJo working out their relationship, all the people around them are involved and affected by the changes they are going through and realistically, we get believable behaviors from all of them as well.  I adored them all, and don’t even get me started on Doodle!  As I have a Doodle, I recognized him immediately, he runs the pack here.

Best New Artist by BA Tortuga is a terrific contemporary romance.  It sings with the lyrics of a deep love that not even a 10 year separation can vanquish, and dances to a Red Dirt tune that only this amazing author can write.  Its heartwarming and wonderful.  Pick it up today.

Cover Artist: Alexandria Corza.  I love the cover.  Its bright and eye-catching and works for the story.

Available for Purchase at

Book Details:

ebook, 204 pages
Expected publication: April 28th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1635336589 (ISBN13: 9781635336580)
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Personal Challenges (Personal #4) by K.C. Wells

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

This book is the culmination of the series which started with Making It Personal, the story of Will and Blake that served as the foundation for the characters and situations in the rest of the series. In book two we met Rick and Angelo, and in book three the focus was on Ed and Colin. I enjoyed most of the books, giving four stars to the early ones and five stars to book three. However, at least two years have gone by since I read that last book, and I have to be honest—the specifics of the characters and couples didn’t stick with me over the course of that time—understandable since I’ve read at least 500 more books since then.

That leads to my word of caution—this is not a standalone, and not only should you read the first three books before this one, but if it’s been awhile since you did, it would be in your best interest to reread, or at least review, the previous books before starting this one. I did not do that and my enjoyment of the early part of the book was compromised by my lack of recall. Of course, once I started to really get into the story, I did remember the situations in which the couples met and my enjoyment of this story increased exponentially.

Each couple in this series faces a personal challenge, or crisis, during this finale. For Will and Blake, it’s a medical problem with their newborn son, for Angelo and Rick, it’s simply a lot of interference from Angelo’s mother as she “helps” plan their wedding—for two years now—and it’s time to finalize everything. For Ed and Colin, it’s a voice from the past—Colin’s ex who contacts Colin to say goodbye as he’s dying and that leads to deep secrets being revealed and multiple heartstrings being pulled.

The story was interesting and I found myself looking forward to the next step in the process for each of the couples. At times humorous, most often serious, the author took the time to explore each couple’s issues in depth, and toward the end of the story it became highly emotional. And as luck would have it, I was in a waiting room surrounded by other people when I got to the last chapters. I had to furtively sneak a tissue out of my purse to wipe my eyes as I quietly sobbed through both the heartache and the heartwarming events as each couple came to closure in this story.

On a lighter note, aside from the main storyline, the author seems to have planted the seeds for a new couple to appear in a future book—Franco the ex-priest and Anthony, the wedding planner. I enjoyed their dynamic and would indeed like to see them get their own story.

So overall, yes, I recommend this to lovers of MM romance, and if you’ve enjoyed any of these couples’ stories in the past, by all means, pick this up.

~~~

Cover art by Meredith Russell depicts two men, both with bowed heads, one man with his arms around the other—a good symbol for the couples in the story without trying to depict any one individual couple. The sepia tones are fairly subdued and not necessarily attention-getting but the somber color scheme goes along with the seriousness of the issues the couples face.

Sales Link

Book Details:

ebook, 250 pages
Published April 7th 2017 by Island Tales Press
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesPersonal #4

An Ali Review: See My Words (Spectrum Nights #2) by Melanie Hansen

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Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Successful underwear model Scott Ashworth is lucky—his attack at the hands of an unknown assailant will leave no visible scars. His professional goals are still within reach, and best of all, his stepbrother Rylan Mahoney is back in his life, their teenage infatuation at last getting the chance to deepen into something more.

Thrown together by the circumstances of Scott’s injury, Rylan’s long-dormant feelings for him are quickly rekindled, though he’s haunted by the memory of Scott’s disappearance on the night of his eighteenth birthday and the six missing years that followed. Rylan pushes Scott for the truth, a firm believer in the maxim that secrets lose their power once they’re shared—but resurrecting old demons almost always comes with a price.

Before Scott knows it, his life is spiraling out of control, his toxic insecurities welling up to threaten the fragile relationship he’s building with Rylan. Learning to let go of the past and believe in himself will be Scott’s greatest challenge, or else he risks losing Rylan forever this time.
I really enjoyed the first book in this series but unfortunately did not like this second book as much.  This installment picks up immediately after the previous book ended.  The story then chronicles Scott and Rylan on their journey from friends to lovers.
The overall plot was fine but I just found their relationship dynamic exhausting.  There was so much unnecessary drama.  Scott in particular was really hard for me to like.  I had sympathy for him in the first book but found I had lost it by about mid-point in this story. Some of his behaviors were defense mechanisms but a lot were just because he was a jerk.  I also didn’t care for any of the people he had surrounded himself with.  His boss, his coworkers, his ex-boyfriend, etc were all just horrible and I was done with the lot of them by the time we got to the end.  Rylan, who I really liked in the last book, also got on my nerves.  He was kind and understanding of Scott’s issues but almost to the point of being a door mat.  I imagine people who have been through the things Scott had would have a lot of the issues he had, but it didn’t make it any easier to tolerate.  The entire thing, the plot, the MC’s, the relationship dynamic, just annoyed me to death.
For me the best part was the last 15% or so.  Finally Scott steps up and starts working on getting himself together and he forces Rylan to step back and let him.  I felt like the author did a good job on redeeming Scott by the end of the book.
I think a lot of people will enjoy this book and many won’t have the issues I did with it.  The writing itself was well done.  This book should not be read as a standalone as it is the second half of the story that was started in the book Pieces of Me.
Cover:  I like the cover art on this.  It is eye catching and I like how the covers of this book and the previous one match.
Sales Links
Book Details:
ebook, 278 pages
Published April 24th 2017 by Ninestar Press
ISBN139781945952951
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesSpectrum Nights #2

 

Amy Lane on Writing, Books and her new release in the Little Goddess series ‘Quickening, Vol. 1’ (author interview)

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Quickening Vol. 1 (Little Goddess #5 Vol. 1) by Amy Lane
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SP Publications
Release Date:  May 2, 2017

Buy Links

Vulnerable Amazon | Vulnerable DSPP | Quickening Amazon | Quickening DSPP

~Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words’ Interview with Amy Lane~

How much of yourself goes into a character? That depends on the character—every character has a little bit of me or somebody I know in them—but some have more than others.

Do you feel there’s a tight line between Mary Sue or should I say Gary Stu and using your own experiences to create a character?  Not really—very early on, I learned that when you put your own experiences in the hands of another person they become a different thing altogether. For Lady Cory, when she was an alienated adolescent, she got pissed off. I got mousy—and I liked her reaction better.

Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write?  Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures? 

LOL—anybody who says you don’t do research when world building hasn’t paid attention.  Research to me usually means answering the question, “Hey, is that plausible?”  Sometimes it means defending yourself to your editing staff. I once wrote (in a fantasy) that it got colder right after sunrise. The entire editing staff jumped my shit and said it was impossible, and I had to pull three different sources that said it was totally possible. Even when you’re writing fantasy, you’re building on a long collected established code of wisdom and lore, and it’s good to know who’s ground you’re treading.  No—I choose my genre depending on what I like to read at the moment. The research follows.

Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing? Holy Goddess yes. The Blue Fairy Book, Norse Myths, To Kill a Mockingbird, Alice in Wonderland, The Hero and the Crown, and countless Harlequin Presents are all battling for supremacy with every damned story.

Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it?  You were hurting with the characters or didn’t know how to proceed? No. Once only have I put a story aside, and it’s because I was 70K in, and it was only halfway, and I needed my Christmas story before I’d be finished. Other than that, no. I start, I work to the finish, and I hope for the best.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?  I like HEA, but I don’t mind series that work for it—for example, Fish Out of Water, there are going to be a few more books there, and those guys are continually working for their balance.

Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?  Absolutely.

Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  Now and growing up?  (I listed a few above so I’ll skip this one.)

How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?  I think there are already two kinds of e-book audiences. One is the potato chip audience—reads absolutely everything, one or two books a day.  This is the type of reader that Kindle Unlimited was made for—and that’s wonderful, because that kind of addiction could bankrupt a person.  Also, I started out as an indie-pub, and my editing was not great, and people still found my books and treasured them—so I’m glad to see there is a growing outlet for that writer to get discovered and loved. 

The other reader is more the steak and salad audience—has either limited time or limited income or both, and will read all of an author’s backlist, from beginning to end, because this author has pleased the reader in the past, and it’s worth the reader’s time and effort—and possibly more money—to stick with one writer because there’s a component of trust there. These are often the authors who have a press and a slightly higher book price—there are gatekeepers there to make sure the product is as good as it can be. The thing is, this audience is starting to find itself. For a while, after KU came out, established writers were floundering, but as this audience realized they couldn’t read ALL the books and started relying on their favorite authors as they had before, and things are stabilizing again.

The fact is, e-books as entertainment are still one of the cheapest and most popular forms of entertainment—it’s up to authors and publishers to figure out how best to utilize their accessibility.

That being said, I still remember being part of the Rainbow Book Fair in New York City—where people brought suitcases and filled them with paperbacks, because, as hard as it is for us to believe, there are still people who devote their love of reading to print books. I think print still has a while to go on the favorite list—but e-book will continue to rise.

How do you choose your covers?  (curious on my part)  I usually ask for an image or a set of images, and the cover artist the company provides submits drafts for my approval. I actually have a very funky, odd visual sense—one of my favorite things to make as a knitter is a blanket or sweater put together out of scraps. This isn’t the greatest thing in marketing—it’s taken me a few years to figure that out—and I think it’s one of the reasons the New York publishing houses usually just hand an author a cover and say, “Yes. This is your cover. Deal with it.”  Because some of my covers are STUNNING, but some of them make me wonder what was in the water when I was having that conversation.

Do you have a favorite among your own stories?  And why?  My favorites are the underdogs. The Little Goddess stories will always be my favorites. Fish Out of Water—totally my favorite. Racing for the Sun—top of my list.  I know that I have stories that are more popular than those—and I’m proud to have written them, but some of them get so much love I’m like, “Oh, Beneath the Stain has been soooooooo appreciated. This other one needs my support more.”

What’s next for you as an author?  Well, I’m trying to write a little more paranormal and urban fantasy—the trick is getting it to sell, because it doesn’t always do what we want it to. Coming out I have Quickening 1& 2, Manny Get Your Guy, Red Fish/Dead Fish, Familiar Angel (a paranormal) and Regret Me Not (the Christmas story I just finished), followed by Stand by Your Manny. 

So, something for everyone, I hope

Blurb

Little Goddess: Book Five
Volume One


Cory thought she’d found balance on Green’s hill—sorceress, student, queen of the vampires, wife to three men—she had it down! But establishing her right to risk herself with Green and Bracken had more than one consequence, and now she’s facing the world’s scariest job title: mother.

But getting the news that she’s knocked up takes a backseat when a half-elf hunts them down for help. Her arrival brings news that the werewolf threat, which has been haunting them for over a year, has finally arrived on their doorstep—and it’s bigger and more frightening than they’d ever imagined.

Cory throws herself into this new battle with everything she’s got—and her men let her do it. Because they all know that whether they defeat this enemy now or later, the thing she’s most afraid of is arriving on a set schedule, and not even Cory can avoid it. The trick is getting her to acknowledge she’s pregnant before she gives birth—or kills herself in denial.

Excerpt

Bracken nuzzled my cheek and, very carefully, put his hand on my abdomen again. I felt nothing but a little bit of hardness there, like I’d had a very full meal, except lower.

“What did you do? Why did it hurt?” I asked, half-afraid he’d put the pregnancy at risk in an effort to get through to me. I should have known better.

“Just talked to it,” he said. “One of them shares my gift. It was painful to have us talk through your blood.”

I noticed the way he said “one of them.” Elves did not pass down their own traits in the DNA. In fact, nobody really knew how elves and trait heredity really worked. Bracken’s parents were both lower fey. His mother was a pixie—three and a half feet of sex kitten with violet hair. His father was a redcap—same height, but built like the forgotten corner of a rock quarry.

Bracken was six feet six of beautiful, broad-shouldered, mostly smooth, pale-skinned, big-eyed sidhe perfection.

For all I knew, I was carrying a rock quarry and a pixie in my womb—but somehow I didn’t think so.

I blinked very slowly, wrestling with one thing at a time. “Does that mean I’m going to bleed out every time I pop a zit?” Yes, it was a gross analogy, but my skin hadn’t been this cluttered with acne since I was a junior in high school. Click. Oh, hell. Of course I was a big pimply mass of estrogen. Fucking Jesus—this was not going to get better.

“No,” Green said, his eyes meeting Brack’s. “In fact, we’re pretty sure the other one has my healing power. We think it was, perhaps, the Goddess….” He trailed off delicately.

“Trying to make sure I don’t die of my own stupidity?”

The lingering tension that had been present since I’d first gaped at Green and said “Oh fuck no!” began to dissipate.

“Not stupid, Corinne Carol-Anne,” he said softly. “Just very, very young.”

I usually railed at that. I’d finally reached twenty-two, right? Hell, there was a time I didn’t think I was going to live past twenty—and given how many scary things had tried to kill me, getting here was quite an accomplishment.

But not now. I had never felt so young in all my life—not even the morning I’d woken up in Green’s arms and we’d realized that our vampire lover had died the night before, and it was the two of us alone and grieving.

I snuggled in more tightly, and Bracken got a little closer. His hand brushed my breast as he did so, and my nipple gave a little shriek of pain. I gasped but kept it to myself—because hey, what girl hadn’t endured a boob shot when snuggling with one of her ginormous husbands, right?

Bracken grunted and stared at me through eyes the color of a weedy, brackish pond in shadows. “That hurt,” he stated.

“Yeah. The girls have been a little tender ever since Monterey….”

Just that quickly a kaleidoscope of our adventure down by the sea flickered behind my eyes. In particular, there was the moment when Teague, our alpha werewolf, and his husband, Jack, passive-aggressive pain in my ass, had both teamed up to protect me.

“Oh, hell. Was that why Jack decided to side with me? Because I’m pregnant?”

Dammit! Of all the…. I’d wanted to win Jack over with my leadership abilities, or with my ability to protect his lover, who was one of my captains and one of my best friends, or even with my friendship with their wife, Katy, whom I both adored and was dazzled by.

“You have a problem with that?” Brack asked curiously. Yeah, Brack’s brain worked along straightforward lines—as long as the result was that I was protected, he didn’t give a crap why.

“I would have liked it if he’d just thought I was a good enough leader to serve,” I grumbled. “I mean, what’s a girl gotta do?”

Bracken pulled out from under my arm, his eyes blazing. He ran a distracted hand through his dark hair, setting it on end like an angry hedgehog, and stared at me.

That’s what you’re worried about?” he asked, sounding outraged. “Do you know how many dangerous, foolish things we did in Monterey? And you’re worried that Jack followed you for the wrong reasons?”

I shivered—which was one of the by-products of having an emergency field transfusion of his blood, which I didn’t remind him of, because hey—one more thing to be pissed at me for, right?

So instead of arguing, I actually thought about what he was saying. Then I wished I hadn’t.

’Cause, well, we’d jumped out of a helicopter to be caught by my magic and my magic alone, which was a first for me in the flying department. We’d stood up to a gigantic rabid wolf pack with nothing but exhausted, injured werewolves and a few tired Avian shifters as support, and I’d….

Oh God, I’d….

I’d been forced to mass kill again, when I’d sworn I’d never do that. Not on purpose. Not so soon after having to issue a death warrant on vampire children because they’d had the bad luck to be turned by a pedophile and would never be sane, never be safe, never be human again.

In my mind I went back to that moment, the lot of us trapped under the force field I’d erected out of magic and desperation in a back alleyway. We’d been just far enough from the sea for us to lose the smell of hope. The rogue wolves had been throwing themselves against it for what seemed like forever, and I’d been growing tired. I could make the shield lethal. I’d been able to kill with my power from the very beginning, but I just kept hoping they’d see sense, that they’d stop somehow, that I wouldn’t have to waste so many fucking lives….

And I’d been teetering between trying to fight our way out and simply making the shield enough to kill them all, when Teague—my captain, my right-hand man, my friend—had looked at me and whimpered. His back end had dropped then—as it should, since he’d been recovering from breaking every bone in his body less than a week before—and I’d seen it in his eyes.

Please.

His mates were there, Jack and Katy, and he wanted them to live.

Or that’s what I’d thought.

Instinctively I placed my hand over my lower abdomen, thinking of what we could have lost there. What Bracken had known I’d been risking.

“You didn’t say anything,” I whispered. I looked over my shoulder at Green. He was gazing at me levelly, with no apologies and no regrets.

“No,” Green said. He and Bracken were staring at each other as though they were reliving a terrible conversation of their own.

“But—” But why? Why would two men who had made my health and welfare their bloody science for the past two years not protest, not try to protect me, not try to talk me out of my own stupid pride when I had their children on board?

“You never would have forgiven….” Bracken looked around the living room like he was looking for words. “Anybody!” he burst out. “Any of us. You, me, Green—hell, the children-to-be. And if, Goddess forbid, anything had happened to Teague, it would have been—” He stood for a moment and flailed his arms. “Cory-a-geddon. You would have self-detonated. This whole… baby thing would have begun under a—”

“A black karmic funk of epic proportions,” I supplied, feeling a little queasy just thinking about it. Of course, since I’d been feeling queasy pretty much for the past two and a half weeks, that was no big news. “But….” I could have died? Well, I could have died a lot of times in the last two years. I kept arguing that I would be fine—there were no promises, and my entire purpose was protection.

But….

Nothing.

“I asked for this?” Quiet revelations do sometimes sound like questions. “I did. I… I said I knew best, and… and….”

“And we trusted you to know best,” Green said quietly. “We trusted you with you, and our children.”

I closed my eyes, somewhat reassured. “That’s….” But I couldn’t do it. Maturity had apparently gotten me into this mess. It was time for honesty to get me out.

Terrifying!” I wailed, and then I dissolved into stupid tears on Green’s chest.

Bracken sighed and plopped behind me, and I cried until I fell asleep.

About the Author

Amy Lane has two kids in college, two gradeschoolers in soccer, two cats, and two Chi-who-whats at large. She lives in a crumbling crapmansion with most of the children and a bemused spouse. She also has too damned much yarn, a penchant for action adventure movies, and a need to know that somewhere in all the pain is a story of Wuv, Twu Wuv, which she continues to believe in to this day! She writes fantasy, urban fantasy, and m/m romance–and if you accidentally make eye contact, she’ll bore you to tears with why those three genres go together. She’ll also tell you that sacrifices, large and small, are worth the urge to write.
 
Twitter: @amymaclane
 
 
 

Marguerite Labbe on Writing SciFi, and her latest release ‘Pandora’ (author guest blog)

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Pandora by Marguerite Labbe
D
SP Publications
Release Date: April 25, 2017

Available for Purchase at

 

amazon square borderB&N border

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Marguerite Labbe here today talking about her latest release, Pandora.  

Welcome, Marguerite!

✒︎ 

This Scardy Cat Luddite Wrote a Creepy Sci-Fi

by Marguerite Labbe

I am a fan of mixing up genres when I write. I’ll do a little paranormal and mystery with my romance. Spin together myth with contemporary. Since I read all genres, I love writing most of them too. And though I’ve added a touch of horror to some of my other stories, until Pandora I have never written Science Fiction. Don’t get me wrong, I adore Science Fiction. My first love was fantasy, but my Dad’s Frank Herbert books fascinated me and I think I first read Dune in the sixth grade. I’m a huge fan of science fiction shows, probably more a fan of them than I am of the shows based off comic books. (Shhh, please don’t tell my husband.) But writing Science Fiction myself seemed way out of my league.

I just bought my first smart phone last year after much pressure from my husband who was dismayed that I still had a flip phone. He called me a Luddite. The flip phone did everything I needed it to which was have something on me in case of an emergency and to call for a ride home from my commuter bus. A smart phone was too smart for me. I couldn’t find anything I needed at first. I used to love video games, back when it was on the classic NES system. But then more buttons were added to controllers and my brain shut down. I love watching my son and husband play because I enjoy the stories and graphics, but when I try it’s pretty much punching random buttons and hoping for the best.

As for the horror part, though depending on your level of comfort Pandora may be more creepy than horror, horror movies have terrorized me since I was a kid. Yet I was drawn to them. It was a love/hate relationship. I wanted to know what happened, I wanted to watch, but I wouldn’t sleep without a light on for months. To this day, I have to be careful with what I watch. When I saw Grudge, I was a grown assed woman hiding under the covers, trying not to wake up my husband to keep me company. My son loves horror. He accidentally saw Alien when he was three. I walked into the living room, it was on and my son thought the monster was the coolest thing he’d ever seen. I hid from that movie during my childhood, though I love it now. My son likes to put on Paranormal Activity while I’m writing. He knows that stuff freaks me out. And he’ll wait until I’m distracted and freaky part is about to come on and go “Mom, look!” Just to watch me jump.

So when I came up with the first scene idea, of Riff waking up trapped alone in the prison I knew I would probably scare myself a couple times. (I did, though I’m not saying which scenes.) But I hadn’t thought of mixing in Science Fiction until a few friends asked me to join a dark sci-fi anthology. My first thought was no way. I’ll read all the stories, but I couldn’t possibly write one myself. Then one of my muses poked me and said, “Hey… don’t you think that story you never finished would work so much better on a space prison ship? You don’t plan on leaving me trapped forever in that story do you? Withering away, dying for lack of attention?”

One thing I’ve learned since my muses adopted me, They Always Win. Always. I have one, the one poking me above who will just give me the big, brown, sad eyes or dramatic quips like that. I think the sad eyes are the worst. The other one gets a gleeful look and goes, “really, watch this.” And then I know I’m in trouble because he will keep throwing crazy things at my brain, keeping me hopping and turning me around until I’m doing exactly what he wants. And he doesn’t shut up.

So if you write, and you have muses like mine, let them win. They know more than I do and they’re always right about the direction a story should go. In case of Pandora, Science Fiction, Horror, with a little bit of romance. I hope you enjoy.

****

Excerpt

Sanity returned in dribbles of half-lucid thoughts. Those brief flickers of consciousness brought the scent of dried blood and bloating flesh rotting in the stale air. They awoke the pain that stabbed through Riff’s body. The temptation to sink back into madness, to let the sounds of distant drums, wild music, and piercing screams take over, to become part of the chaos again and its dancing obscene figures, won more times than Riff could count.

But the sanity always returned, and finally, with a start, Riff came to full clarity in a silent cell. The memory of hazel eyes hard with irritation first in his thoughts. It was never quiet in the penal wing, not even in the middle of the night. Snores came from the cell beside him, grunts and distressed whimpers from farther down the corridor, the continuous hum of the ship’s engines. Never a silence this pregnant with foreboding.

Riff smelled the carnage around him, and it made him reluctant to open his eyes. He didn’t want to see it as well. Seeing it would make it real, and fear was a living creature inside him, screaming to get out. Sharp pains stabbed his wrists, and his body ached with numerous bruises.

He had vague memories of a strange man with short near-white hair and bottomless eyes. They’d found him in a hiber unit on the derelict. The only sign of life on the entire yacht. Riff’s salvage team had rescued him and taken him aboard. Noyes. Yes, that was the name.

The memories afterward were even hazier. A confrontation with Vidal. Another with Jakobsen. Rioting. Quick flashes of violence and lust, of hurting and being hurt, taking and being taken, all mixed in with that insane music. Even now he could hear the drums in the rapid beating of his heart, hear the reedy instruments in the whistle of his breath through a broken nose.

What happened to them, to the ship… or was he just hallucinating and Vidal had gone too far with his sadistic pleasures? He’d been ready to kill the last time Riff had seen him.

Riff forced himself to draw a deep breath despite the stench. This wasn’t him. He didn’t let fear rule him. He had to assess the situation, calculate how bad it was, then make a plan. Otherwise he’d be trapped here, a broken, terrified mess, and he’d deserve whatever punishment came his way.

****

Blurb

Haunted by the screams of the men he murdered, ex-Marine medic Riff Khora is serving a life sentence on board a prison ship. Seeking more punishment for his crime, he strikes a deal with the corrupt Captain Vidal—an exchange of pleasure and pain—and forges a new life leading the team that surveys space wreckage for salvage.

Ship engineer Zed Jakobsen’s psychometric abilities make prison a sentence worse than death, and the barrage of emotional stimuli is an unending torment. His only regret is that he didn’t kill the monster who sent him to prison, and only a glimmer of hope to escape a judgment he doesn’t deserve keeps him clinging to a brutal existence.

When they board derelict ship Pandora and discover a lone survivor, the hell of prison life plunges into abject horror. An epidemic of violence and insanity consumes their ship, driving the crew to murder and destruction. Mutual need draws Riff and Zed together, and their bond gives them the strength to fight a reality they cannot trust. But Vidal possesses the only means of escape from the nightmare, and he’s not letting anyone leave alive.

About the Author

Marguerite has been accused of being eccentric and a shade neurotic, both of which she freely admits to, but her muse has OCD tendencies, so who can blame her? She loves writing stories about the beauty of love with all of its fascinating quirks and the strength of family, whether it’s the family you’re born into or the one you create. Marguerite was born in New Hampshire, grew up as a military brat, moving from one end of the U.S. to the other before settling down in Southern Maryland. She married her next-door neighbor and best friend, and they have one son and two cats who rule them. To her dismay, she has failed to convince her Alabama born husband to move north, where being a passionate Red Sox fan is perfectly normal. She runs Apocrypha Comics Studio with her husband and they often trek off to comic book conventions on the weekend where they celebrate all manner of geek culture. In her spare time she loves reading novels of all genres, enjoying a table top role-playing games with her friends, many which end up on the Role With Us podcast, and finding really good restaurants where she can indulge in her love of food and wine.

Social Networking Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marguerite.labbe.3

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MargueriteLabbe

Release Day Tour: Unsteady by Melissa Collins (giveaway on FB)

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Happy Release Day!

Unsteady by Melissa Collins
A stand alone, M/M romance
IS NOW LIVE!
Free to read with Kindle Unlimited

Grab your copy here –> AMAZON

Cover design: Sommer Stein at Perfect Pair Creative Covers

Photography: Wander Aguiar at WANDER AGUIAR :: PHOTOGRAPHY

Models: Jacob Cooley and Ryan Dick

BLURB:

Micah Hudson and Jude MacMillian were both lonely teenagers. One the new kid
and one the target of relentless bullying, they quickly became friends. But
when friendship grew into more, the relationship was too much for either to
handle. As their tenuous bond was tested, everything tumbled down, leaving
them lonely once again.

A decade later, Micah is on the brink of losing his will to live. Beyond
exhausted from lying to everyone, including himself, Micah thinks of the one
person who knows his deepest secret. Desperate and alone, Micah makes the
only decision he feels he has: he must leave. But his need for closure
depends on one thing.

Can Jude make room in his Unsteady life for Micah once again?

Join me on Facebook where you will find a $50 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway!
Melissa Collins Author Page

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Melissa Collins has always been a book worm. Studying Literature in college ensured that her nose was always stuck in a book. She followed her passion for reading to the most logical career choice: English teacher. Her hope was to share her passion for reading and the escapism of books to her students. Having spent more than a decade in front of a classroom, she can easily say that it’s been a dream.
Her passion for writing didn’t start until more recently. When she was home on maternity leave in early 2012, she read her first romance novel and her head filled with the passion, angst and laughter of the characters who she read about it. It wasn’t long before characters of her own took shape in her mind. Their lives took over Melissa’s brain and The Love Series was born.

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