BA Tortuga on Casts (Cats?) of Thousands and her release ‘What the Cat Dragged In (Sanctuary #2)’ (author guest post)

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What the Cat Dragged In (Sanctuary #2) by B.A. Tortuga
Dreamspinner Press

Cover Artist: Alexandria Corza

Buy Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have B.A. Tortuga back again talking about her latest story,What the Cat Dragged In (Sanctuary #2). Welcome, B.A.!

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Casts (Cats?) of Thousands by B.A. Tortuga

Hey, y’all! I’m BA Tortuga, resident redneck and lover of stories.

I had a reader ask me why there were so many people in my stories and, I have to tell y’all. I’m one child of ten. My daddy is one of seven. Moma Sue is one of six. My stepmom? One of fourteen. Stepdad? One five.

Small families aren’t my expertise.

Not only that, but I come from people that collect folks. We are happy to bring people into the fold and adopt them as our own. I have ‘family’ in Canada, in New Jersey, California, Colorado, South Carolina, North Carolina, Pennsylvania… I grew up like that, and I don’t know another way.

It’s sort of like being part of this huge weird pack of choice. I have dozens of kids that know me as Auntie Pooh, tons of support when I need it, and an endless supply of people to pray for. 😉

You know that’s how it works, right? The more people, the more chances of drama and strangeness, especially from the rednecky side of the fence (and believe me, I have a shitload of folks on the rednecky side of the fence. You ever known someone that broke his neck playing redneck polo? No? I have.)

My universe is populated by huge families and casts of thousands, because I love being surrounded by family with all their bumps and scars and weirdnesses and love, because in the end, that’s what we’re all about right? The love?

Even if they make you a little bit nutso?

Much love, y’all.

BA

Blurb

A Sanctuary Novel

Don’t people know that cats and dogs don’t mix?

Connor Ragbone finds things. Sometimes it’s gold, sometimes jewels, sometimes people. Set in his hippie ways, he never thought he’d find a pack, but with Sam and Gus and their goofy shifter family, he fits right in. Then he finds Brock.

Shifter Brock Herman is undercover alone, working to break up a poaching ring. The last thing he needs is for Connor to wreck his sting. And now the crazy bobcat just won’t go away!

The poachers lead Brock and Connor on a merry chase all over Western Colorado, looking for shifter bears, but it’s a lost pup who brings them back to Nevada and the pack Sam and Gus are building. That’s when Brock has to decide whether he still travels alone or if Connor and his crazy family are where his heart belongs.

This follow-up to Just Like Cats and Dogs is a feel-good shifter romance novel where cats and dogs prove they can be way more than the enemies nature has made them.

About BA Tortuga

Texan to the bone and an unrepentant Daddy’s Girl, BA Tortuga spends her days with her basset hounds and her beloved wife, texting her sisters, and eating Mexican food. When she’s not doing that, she’s writing. She spends her days off watching rodeo, knitting and surfing Pinterest in the name of research. BA’s personal saviors include her wife, Julia Talbot, her best friend, Sean Michael, and coffee. Lots of coffee. Really good coffee.

Having written everything from fist-fighting rednecks to hard-core cowboys to werewolves, BA does her damnedest to tell the stories of her heart, which was raised in Northeast Texas, but has heard the call of the  high desert and lives in the Sandias. With books ranging from hard-hitting GLBT romance, to fiery menages, to the most traditional of love stories, BA refuses to be pigeon-holed by anyone but the voices in her head. Find her on the web at www.batortuga.com

Andrew Grey On A Gulf Fishing Trip and his latest release ‘Setting the Hook’ (author guest post)

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Setting the Hook by Andrew Grey

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: May 12 2017
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase

Available for Sale at:    Dreamspinner Press    | Amazon 

Barnes and Noble

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to welcome back Andrew Grey on his Setting the Hook tour.  Hi, Andrew!

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Labor Day weekend I had the opportunity to fish on the gulf for the first time.  It was an amazing experience and I had an incredible time  And as you can guess, I looked out over the water, fishing, talking, laughing, and the entire time my mind is running though how I could use all the experiences in a book.  I stored them away until the idea for Setting the Hook started developing in my mind.  I do have to tell you that while the situations were different, that weekend we did experience many, of the things in the story, including the hurricane, catching the sharks, as well as meeting some amazing people who left an impression on me.    I can’t wait for my next fishing trip so I can see what comes out of that.

 

Blurb/Synopsis

It could be the catch of a lifetime. William Westmoreland escapes his unfulfilling Rhode Island existence by traveling to Florida twice a year and chartering Mike Jansen’s fishing boat to take him out on the Gulf. The crystal-blue water and tropical scenery isn’t the only view William enjoys, but he’s never made his move. A vacation romance just isn’t on his horizon.

William Westmoreland escapes his unfulfilling Rhode Island existence by traveling to Florida twice a year and chartering Mike Jansen’s fishing boat to take him out on the Gulf. The crystal-blue water and tropical scenery isn’t the only view William enjoys, but he’s never made his move. A vacation romance just isn’t on his horizon.

Mike started his Apalachicola charter fishing service as a way to care for his daughter and mother, putting their safety and security ahead of the needs of his own heart. Denying his attraction becomes harder with each of William’s visits.

William and Mike’s latest fishing excursion starts with a beautiful day, but a hurricane’s erratic course changes everything, stranding William. As the wind and rain rage outside, the passion the two men have been trying to resist for years crashes over them. In the storm’s wake, it leaves both men yearning to prolong what they have found. But real life pulls William back to his obligations. Can they find a way to reduce the distance between them and discover a place where their souls can meet? The journey will require rough sailing, but the bright future at the end might be worth the choppy seas.

Series: Standalone
Genre:  M/M Contemporary Romance

Excerpt 

“The storm didn’t turn north. It’s continued moving west and is now near Orlando. If its winds start to reach the Gulf, the waves are going to build quickly. It seems like they’ve pretty much given up trying to predict this sucker and are winging it.”

Gordon turned toward the water. “Give it a few more hours and we’ll head in. There’s no sense taking any chances, and they’re going to have plenty of fish by then at this rate.”

“I agree.” If the storm headed their way, he and Gordon were going to need time to secure everything. “I’ve been listening to the weather every hour anyway.”

Mike returned to work, and Gordon helped William and Dean replace their nibbled-away bait. Mike moved them to a few more spots, each one closer to shore. After two hours, he checked the forecast once again. The storm was now expected to continue on its current path. “All right. This is our last stop. We’ll stay here for about fifteen minutes and then head in. The storm that was supposed to turn north in the Atlantic didn’t. It’s crossing Florida and will hit the Gulf in a few hours. We don’t want to be out here when it does.”

The attitude on the boat immediately changed. Mike started getting things together while Gordon helped the guys fish. They caught mostly red snapper and threw them back. William got a small reef shark, and Gordon clubbed it enough to stun it and got the hook out, letting it drop back into the water. That brought the trip to an end, and Mike pointed the bow toward land and opened up the throttle.

Gordon gathered up all the equipment and began putting it away. “Sorry, guys, about cutting things short.”

“It’s perfectly all right,” Dean said with a wide grin. “It’s better to be safe than sorry, and this was an amazing day. One I’m going to remember for a long time.” He sat down nearby, and William took the seat right behind him. Mike was hyperaware of him and knew William was watching him.

The wind picked up slightly as they went, though thankfully the water’s surface remained calm. But it wasn’t going to stay that way once the storm passed over Florida.

“Does anyone have a signal on their phone?” Mike asked.

“I’m checking,” William answered from behind him. “I have something, but not enough to really do any good. I could probably make a call if necessary, but….” William didn’t finish his thought as the power to the engine cut out.

“Fire!” Gordon yelled.

Mike switched the controls off immediately. Black smoke poured from the engine compartment vents, and Mike sprang to his feet, grabbed a fire extinguisher, and ushered Dean and William as far away as possible. Gordon got into position and tugged on the rope that would lift the engine cover, with Mike ready to douse any flames.

About the Author

Andrew grew up in western Michigan with a father who loved to tell stories and a mother who loved to read them. Since then he has lived throughout the country and traveled throughout the world. He has a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and works in information systems for a large corporation.

Andrew’s hobbies include collecting antiques, gardening, and leaving his dirty dishes anywhere but in the sink (particularly when writing)  He considers himself blessed with an accepting family, fantastic friends, and the world’s most supportive and loving partner. Andrew currently lives in beautiful, historic Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Author Links

Amazon Author Page

Barnes and Noble Page

Dreamspinner Press

Facebook

Facebook Group All the Way with Andrew Grey

Goodreads

Twitter @andrewgreybooks

Website

For Other Works by Andrew Grey

(Please Be Sure To Stop by His Website to See All of His Works)

Susan Laine on An Island in the Stars (guest post and exclusive teaser)

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An Island in the Stars by Susan Laine
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Anna Sikorska

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Susan Laine here today talking about her latest New Adult science fiction story, An Island in the Stars. Welcome, Susan!

Thank you kindly, Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words, for having me here today. Hello, readers. I’m Susan Laine, an author with Dreamspinner Press. I’m here to talk about my upcoming novel, An Island in the Stars. It comes out in a few days on June 12, 2017.

Here’s the blurb:

“Sam, a geeky college freshman, has bigger problems than lusting after Marcus, sexy jock, college junior, and his big brother’s best friend. Chasing after a beanie caught in the winter wind turns into a tumble down the rabbit hole for them both—science fiction style.

Sam and Marcus find themselves trapped on a tropical island in the middle of a strange ocean on an alien moon. The sole structure is a ruined temple devoted to the art of love. Flustered, confused, and unable to return home, they need to figure out a means of escape from a hostile jungle teeming with dangerous life-forms.

In this tale where opposites attract and secret crushes are revealed, two very dissimilar young men discover they actually have a lot in common after all, but it will take their differences as much as their points of connection to survive on an island in the stars.”

The topic today is science fiction and genre mashups. As you can read from the blurb, the story is mainly science fiction. Mainly. It’s also gay romance, erotic at that, and new adult.

Science fiction shows the world of the future—but this story takes place in the present day. Science fiction usually takes place on a spaceship or, like I said, in the future but here the elements of scifi are shown in the setting: an alien planet. The advanced technology was created by aliens; humans have no knowledge of them. Neither of the heroes knows how to use this alien technology and has to learn in order to survive. An aptitude in science is a must for people trapped on an alien world.

Thankfully, Sam has his heart set on becoming a scientist and Marcus understands physics. That shows the human element that’s present in the genre, as humans struggle to come to terms with new science, tech, and development. Advancement can he depicted in a positive or negative light. I’m sure that despite their unintentional arrival on an alien planet the boys retain their humanity and keep their moral backbone.

Here’s an exclusive teaser excerpt showing some aspects of the genre:

The light above flickered. A slow hum rose in the chamber, and a heavy noise like grinding gears or generators powering up echoed inside the walls and under their feet.

Then a bright flash brought up a slightly upward tilted, panoramically concaved, blue-glowing holographic console in front of Marcus, who still sat in the chair.

“What the fuck?” Marcus called out in surprise, raising his hands at his sides, his eyes wide and his mouth gaping. “What the hell just happened?”

Sam had only ever seen such elegant holographic technology in the science fiction TV shows he loved to watch. But that was fiction; this was fact. “It’s a hologram.”

If you liked that little scene, here’s the buy link: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/an-island-in-the-stars-by-susan-laine-8561-b

Thanks again to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for arranging this guest post.

You can find me:

Jaime Samms on Families, Kinship and her latest story ‘Off Stage: Beyond the Footlights (Off Stage #3)’ (author guest post)

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Off Stage: Beyond the Footlights (Off Stage #3) by Jaime Samms
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Jaime Samms here today on her Off Stage: Beyond the Footlights tour. Welcome, Jaime!

Life rarely turns out how we think it will. It throws curves at us and when the curves drive us down bumpy, pot-holed, muddy roads, that’s often the time we find out who we can count on to come with a shovel and help dig us out of the mire.

One thing I noticed as I was writing this series, is that sometimes, family is stronger than blood. The family you make isn’t always the one you share DNA with. The strongest bonds can break, and forgiveness never has to be off the table if you’re willing to do the work.

Coming from a gigantic, strongly bonded family filled with diverse opinions, personalities and ideas, I know that kinship is highly malleable. On day, the sibling you’ve always thought you were tightest with is the one you can’t even fathom, and the one you had nothing in common with is the one who gets you, out of the blue. It happens. And the next day, it changes again.

I think even when you’re related to the ones you call family, you still have to spend the time and do the work to make them the family you choose. So as I was writing these books and it came time to fix the damaged family bonds between band mates and brothers of the heart, I enjoyed creating and strengthening those ties. Because family is something you never stop creating, no matter where you find them along your road in life. 

Blurb:

Kilmer and Jacko’s relationship has been foundering for a long time. With the end in sight and despairing that he might never find a Dom who suits him, Kilmer heads to a local bar to drown his sorrows—and meets country singer Tanner.

Tanner feels oddly protective of the broken man and eventually convinces Kilmer to hire him to help remodel the small, sad house Kilmer once shared with Jacko. As Tanner and Kilmer get to know each other, Kilmer regains his lost independence and Tanner’s dominant streak rises to the surface. But will it be a help or a hindrance to the trust they’re trying to build?

The answer might lie in the music Kilmer gave up not long after he met Jacko. Music always granted him solace, clarity, and an outlet for his emotions, and with Tanner’s encouragement, he picks up where he left off. Playing together eases them into honest communication, and though a happily ever after will still take patience and work, taking a chance on each other sounds sweeter with every note.

About Jaime:

Jaime has been writing for various publishers since the fall of 2008, although she’s been writing for herself far longer. Often asked why men—what’s so fascinating about writing stories about men falling in love—she’s never come up with a clear answer. Just that these are the stories that she loves to read, so it seemed to make sense if she was going to write, they would also be the stories she wrote.

These days, you can find plenty of free reading on her website. She also writes for Various Publishers.

Spare time, when it can be found rolled into a ball at the back of the dryer or cavorting with the dust bunnies in the corners, is spent crocheting, drawing, gardening (weather permitting, of course, since she is Canadian!), or watching movies. She has a day job, as well, which she loves, and two kids, but thankfully, also a wonderful husband who shoulders more than his fair share of household and child-care responsibilities.

She graduated some time ago from college with a fine arts diploma, and a major in textile arts, which basically qualifies her to draw pictures and create things with string and fabric. One always needs an official slip of paper to fall back on after all . . .

Website: http://jaime-samms.com

facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000982219151&ref=tn_tnmn

Livejournal:http://dontkickmycane.livejournal.com/

Deviantart: http://dontkickmycane.deviantart.com/

Twitter:https://twitter.com/#!/JaimeSamms

Amazon Author page: amazon.com/author/jaimesamms

Z Allora On Writing, Books and Secured and Free (Entwined Dreams #2) (guest post and giveaway)

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Secured and Free (Entwined Dreams #2) by Z. Allora
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reamspinner Press

Cover Artist: Cover Art by K-Koji; Cover Design by Paul Richmond

BUY LINKS: Dreamspinner Press ebook & paperback  

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Z. Allora here today to talk about writing, books and Secured and Free!

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Greetings! Thank you, Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for interviewing me and allowing me to share my most recent release Secured and Free. 

Giveaway:               

To celebrate the release of Secured and Free I’ll be giving away 3 e-books, 2 audiobooks of Lock and Key (Book #1 of Entwined Dreams) and a $20 gift card to Dreamspinner Press. Details below.

How much of yourself goes into a character?

A lot. I sculpt the character’s personalities & experiences based on my own life. My stories are set in places I’ve lived or visited (Thailand, China, Bali, Albany, South Carolina). My adoration for BDSM infiltrates almost every story. Several characters struggle with anxiety, which unfortunately I have too much experience with. Their professions echo my own jobs: I have my hair license in NY (like Andrew & Phillip). I’ve worked direct care in Human Services and I’m now writing (like Justin). It truly is easier to write what you know.

Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?

Usually my experiences with travel, or BDSM.  Although in Secured and Free, one of the Doms adores piercing play, but needles = allergy shots for me = NOT SEXY. Fate allowed me to meet Revi at YaoiCon2016. She really enjoys needle play and based on her experiences, needs and desires I was able to add to Marcus Satir’s motivation enriching his character.

In The Craving, I had to generate planets and a star system for my characters to live, which was fascinating. I had to come up with why they evolved (with only a few expectations) into bipeds. I loved coming up with each planet’s societal views on sex, love and relationships.

I spent many, many, many hours in Thailand clubs talking to the fascinating performers… Illusions & Dreams is set in a ladyboy club in Bangkok…. We can call in research if you like.

Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

Absolutely! Romances with happy endings are the be all in my world. They have always been tops with me. Seeing a sad movie or reading a non-happy ending makes me annoyed (especially if it wasn’t marketed it as such)… I didn’t care how meaningful it was. The world is horrible enough so I want happy! In my writing, I try to add a little bit of fluffy smexy goodness with a dap of happy.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

HEA. We’re all going to die. Dark but true. While I’m dancing toward death I need love, hope and happiness as my partners. We get a limit number of moments in this life and my goal is to make as many of them as I can happy (for myself and others).

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

Romances are my drug of choice now and then. I have turned to them in the worst of times to allow me to escape if only for a little while. And I re-read them with joy to celebrate happiness.

How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?

I think some folks will always love paperbacks, but how amazing is it that we can hold all of our favorite stories right in the palm of your hand. I think ebooks allow people to explore genres that might not be comfortable having the world know what they are reading. For me: Ebooks are great because I’ve moved 13x in 23 years so not losing my books is an incredible gift. (Though when we left China I gifted reading coffee shops with 100’s of my m/m romances, so some good came out of my loss).

How do you choose your covers?  (curious on my part)

Usually I try to capture a scene… then I find a very patient artist who tries to pull the character out of my head. See Secured and Free’s cover for what that looks like!!! K-Koji struggled with me over many e-mails perfecting Marcus, Orion and even the shadowy Hunter. Ahhhh, it’s glorious to actually show others who is in your head taunting you for years!

Do you have a favorite among your own stories?  And why?

No. I love them all! How can any author chose? Though I like my writing in the most recent because I’m struggling to improve with each book.

What’s next for you as an author?

The Librarian’s Rake will be released in the Fall.

Then I’m diving back into hot rockers. Going to head to Suzhou China where the fledging rock band Made in China is struggling to catch a break. I can’t wait!

To enter the giveaway: Simply leave a comment about the type of BDSM you enjoy reading or participating in. (Winners will be picked June 5th)

Many hugs,

Z. Allora

Entwined Dreams: Book Two

An abusive Dom robbed Orion Gordon of his love of BDSM, destroying his confidence and leaving him unsure he’ll ever find peace through submission to another. Still, deep inside, his longing continues. 

Marcus Sadir loves Hunter Dixon, yet can’t be the one thing Hunter truly desires: a sub to control. And Hunter can’t find satisfaction in the sadistic aspects of the BDSM lifestyle, while Marcus thrives on inflicting and sharing pain. When Marcus convinces Hunter they should find a third on a permanent basis, they discover Orion might be the key to bridging their differences and joining them on a deeper level. 

But they must help Orion move past his trauma enough for him to enjoy new facets of BDSM and kink again. Their journey toward becoming whole—together—won’t be without challenges. Can Orion trust enough to try again?

About the Author

Z. Allora believes in happily ever afters for everyone. She met her own true love through the personals and has traveled to over thirty countries with him. She’s lived in Singapore, Israel and China. Now back home to the USA she’s an active member of PFLAG and a strong supporter of those on the rainbow in her community. She wants to promote understanding and acceptance through her actions and words. Writing rainbow romance allows her the opportunity to open hearts and change minds.

To contact Z. Allora:

E-mail: Z.AlloraHappyEndings@gmail.com

FACEBOOK:   Z Allora Allora

http://zallora.blogspot.com

www.zallorabooks.com

L.A. Merrill on Books, Writing, and her latest release ‘Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch (States of Love)’ (guest post)

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Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch (States of Love) by L.A. Merrill
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reamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht

Available for Purchase at Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have L.A. Merrill here today talking about books, writing, and her latest story, Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch, a States of Love tale!

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How much of yourself goes into a character? A little bit (or sometimes a lot) of me goes into almost every character. Sometimes I don’t realize I’m doing it. I have to find a way to connect with my character’s emotions in order to write about them as truthfully and realistically as possible. Like acting, you find an experience or emotion of your own to use as a touchstone when writing or portraying the character. Often it’s only one trait, emotional quirk, or experience of mine that goes into a character, combined with things I’ve stolen from people I’ve met, and all the wonderful, gritty bits of character that my made-up people seem to generate all on their own. It creates (I hope) characters that read as real, and that the reader gets emotionally invested in.

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? I don’t think there’s anything wrong with writing a thinly disguised autobiographical novel. (I’m working on one now, so of course I’d say that!) As long as you are telling a good story, use whatever tools are at your disposal to write it—including pulling from your own life for details. As they say, write what you know!

Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write?  Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures? RESEARCH SCARES ME. Mostly because I am lazy and fear failure. (Combine those with a serious procrastination problem and it’s a wonder I get anything done at all.) I am in awe of people who spend years on research alone, a couple more years writing, and then show up with these amazing historical novels you can just disappear into. I want to be that person, but for now at least, I know I’m not. So I keep writing about what I know or can easily find out (and failing that, just make up).

Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing? Growing up, I read pretty much anything I could get my hands on. Even better if it was fantasy/adventure and had female main characters. I still read across almost all the genres, but fantasy and adventure still have a strong place in my heart. Every time I write I try to tell a different kind of story, and someday I hope I’ll be a good enough writer to tell the kind of magical, escape-into-and-come-back-changed stories I remember reading when I was younger. Probably the one thing that remains constant across everything I read, and hopefully it comes through in what I write now, is humor. Using humor to tell even the darkest stories is fundamentally important to me. Sir Terry Pratchett wrote some of the funniest novels I’ve ever read—and I read almost all of them as a teenager—but his stories carry an emotional gut-punch of angrily optimistic humanism that walks hand in hand with his satire and screwball dialogue.

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. Usually if I set a story aside it’s because I flat-out don’t know the story well enough. If I’ve made it interesting enough, if I love the characters, I’m in it for the long haul, no matter what dark and twisty corridors we’re heading down.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why? HECK YEAH, I LIKE HAPPY ENDINGS. Life is hard enough, and we almost never get a happily ever after. I don’t want everyone’s problems to be magically solved, everything tied in a too-neat bow, but if there’s going to be romance, it needs to end with the happy. Don’t throw me off this ship, I just got on board!

Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult? I really never did read straight-up “romance” when I was a teenager, barring some Sophie Kinsella (and I was mostly there for the dialogue and character voice in those). I sometimes read LGBT+ romance now, but they’re hard to come by where I live. I like books that have romance in them, but a good story is the most important thing for me. Let’s ride off into worlds unknown—and if we fall in love along the way, so much the better.

Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  Now and growing up? DO YOU WANT A LIST? Norton Juster, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Patricia Wrede, L.M. Montgomery, Robert Louis Stevenson, Barbara Michaels/Elizabeth Peters, Maureen Johnson, Flannery O’Connor, John Green, Willa Cather, Sir Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, Diana Wynne Jones, Charles Dickens, Joseph Fink and Jeffery Cranor, Chris Carter, Jennifer Crusie, Georgette Heyer, E. Nesbit, Edward Eager, Maud Hart Lovelace…SRSLY, HOW MUCH SPACE DO WE HAVE? That list was in no particular order. Everything I read then shaped who I was—and consequently, who I was as a writer—and taught me how to be a person. I love them for that, and for the memories they gave me and the stories they shared. It’s no different today, except maybe now, as a working writer, I can see some of the tricks behind the illusions, and I take notes. It doesn’t diminish the magic at all—in fact, it makes me even more impressed. (Especially if you can pull something off without my realizing how!)

How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going? When ebooks first came out, everyone was all panic-shouty about “the death of the printed word!” and I naturally got a bit freaked out because BOOKS WERE GOING TO BE EXTINCT, Y’ALL. And then that didn’t happen. I never bought an ereader, so I was late to the party, but when I discovered LGBT romance ebooks from the library, I was all over that like ants at a picnic. I will always be a physical book kinda girl, but ebooks and I are pals now. They are definitely great for our genre, where we might not be able to read gay and lesbian stories out in the open. I will be interested to see where ebooks go in the future—who knows, maybe we can download directly to our brains! (That sounds like a sci-fi plot right there…)

How do you choose your covers?  (curious on my part) I’ve only gotten to work on one of my covers so far—the cover for my upcoming novella, Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch! (Which you are totally going to buy, so you can enjoy the cover as much as you want, EVERY DAY.) The fabulous art department people took my sketchy cover ideas and turned them into an awesome rendition with cool details I didn’t even think of. (Those stars in the background? TOTALLY THEM. Aren’t they pretty?) There were a few iterations, and then we settled on the one that worked best for the story. That is my one experience with cover selection: artistic beings do cool photoshoppy things on my behalf. It was great.

Do you have a favorite among your own stories?  And why? I love my stories when I get them, to my mind, right. Sometimes it’s only after I come back to them and reread them months later that I go—hey, that turned out pretty good. Of what I’ve published with Dreamspinner Press, I’m particularly fond of Don’t Let the Light Go Out for what I managed to achieve as far as realism and emotional depth. I wrote a highly stylized microfic called Standby that was published in a literary magazine. It will always be one of my favorite things I’ve done just because I achieved what I set out to do and it was funny and almost perfect in tone. It was also the first thing I ever sold. Somewhere at home I have a screwball Regency romance, written on two yellow legal pads when I was a teenager, that was the first thing I wrote—and finished—that made me realize I was actually pretty good at this writing racket. It was a blast to write, and I think it’s one of my favorites not because of any particular virtue in the plot itself (best friends switch places! the Prince has an insane sister! spies in London!), but because of how much fun I had writing it. Always try and have fun with your writing. If you’re not having at least a little bit of fun, no one else will either.

What’s next for you as an author? TOP SECRET SECRET-ISH THINGS. Nah, I’ll give you a hint. I just started leading a LGBT+ writers group, so I’ve decided to be brave and write A NOVEL while working with the group. I haven’t written a novel in ages. This one is set to feature a Kansas City heat wave, a quirky M/M romance, and the fabulous and scary world of theater camp.

Stay kind, stay classy, y’all.

L.A. Merrill

   Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch  By L.A. Merrill

          David Marks is looking for the perfect place to film his new web series and recover from his latest failed relationship. When reclusive writer Michael Sharp opens his Montana ranch to paying guests, David knows he’s found the right place—but he doesn’t expect to find Mr. Right too.

          Forty years ago, Michael Sharp’s father was murdered in front of him. No one believed a six-year-old boy’s testimony against the powerful Carver brothers. For years Michael has lived in self-imposed exile, the only living witness who can bring down the Carver criminal empire. But now the money is running out, and he’s forced to play host to a troupe of temperamental web actors and their energetically attractive director in order to stay alive.

          The Carvers aren’t about to stand for rebellion. Michael has outlived his usefulness. Now Michael and David have to find a way to end this fight once and for all, finding justice for Michael’s father and meeting David’s funding deadline—all before one or both of them ends up dead.

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch comes out with Dreamspinner Press on Monday, May 29! 

         

                                             

About The Author

          L.A. Merrill is a tiny blonde woman who loves a good story. She has worked as a tour guide and an assistant stage director, and spent one memorable summer as a camp counselor. After five years in vocal performance, production work, and arts education, she now writes full-time. Her work has appeared in Kansas City Voices magazine, on the YouTube series The Blank Scene, and online. Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch is L.A.’s fourth story with Dreamspinner Press, and her first published novella. (There’s an unpublished novella, about murderous husbands and Scottish ghosts, written when she was thirteen, that is sitting in a file at home. It will likely never see the light of day.)

          An avid knitter, she has yet to follow a pattern and has made some interestingly shaped hats as a result. L.A. makes handknit and crocheted blankets and hats for local charities, as well as leading a LGBT+ writers group in her hometown. She lives with her family in the Midwest, where she can usually be found reading, writing, and making things up as she goes along. Follow her on Twitter for feminism and fangirling at @la_mer92

Ari Mckay on Breaking Bonds (guest post and excerpt)

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Breaking Bonds (The Walker Boys #2) by Ari McKay
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reamspinner Press

Buy Links

 Dreamspinner PressAmazon  | Barnes & Noble

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Arionrhod of Ari McKay here today talking about the second book of their  Walker Boys series, Breaking Bonds.  Welcome!

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Hello, everyone! Thanks for taking time out of your day to spend a few minutes with me today. I’m Arionrhod, the “Ari” half of Ari McKay, and I’m here to talk a bit about our upcoming release on June 1, Breaking Bonds.

This story is the second involving one of the Walker Boys, our fictional family of Texas hunks who love cooking. Like his cousin Beau from Striking Sparks, Liam Walker was born with a spatula in one had and a tasting spoon in his mouth. But Liam’s path takes him out of Texas, to the cutthroat culinary world of New York City, where he spends almost a decade working his way up the ladder. He has the good fortune to be discovered by a famous celebrity chef, Marco Cabrisi, who makes Liam the executive chef of one of his premiere restaurants. Yet even as Liam stands only one step away from the dream of opening his own restaurant, his temper lands him in hot water. Marco tells him to take a vacation to cool off, and so he picks a resort at random — and finds himself taking up the role of savior for handsome resort owner Carter Galloway.

Carter has some issues of his own, trying to fulfill his dream of owning his own resort, against the wishes of his domineering parents. The Overlook has potential, but Carter is cash-strapped and stretched incredibly thin. He knows he’s taking a risk when he hires an inexperienced chef, but he doesn’t know just how bad things are until Liam Walker complains about the food. He’s desperate enough that he accepts Liam’s offer of help in getting the restaurant turned around, and can’t help being attracted to Liam playing white knight.

As the two of them work together, they realize they have great chemistry, but they both have obligations that prevent them from acting on it. Carter isn’t going to fuel the prejudices of his homophobic parents by engaging in a short term fling — no matter how much he really wants to — and unfortunately, Liam has a life and commitments in New York, so he can’t offer anything else. That is the central conflict of the story — both men finding a way to cut the chains binding them to the past in order to embrace a future together.

It’s not all conflict, of course! There is a real connection between Carter and Liam, and they each recognize the passion in the other, and the desire to succeed. Plus there is great food, amazing scenery, and a lot of Southern charm.  We hope you’ll give Breaking Bonds a try — this was one of my favorite stories that we’ve ever written, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it!

Here’s a little taste, to whet your appetite. Bon appetit!

After they were loaded up, Liam asked Eckhart for recommendations for meat markets, pulled out his phone, and made note of the information.

“I think that takes care of everything here,” Liam said. “Shall we tackle the meat now? I think Rocky can handle lunch. We’re keeping it simple, and I made the soups during breakfast.”

Carter knew Liam’s comment about tackling the meat wasn’t meant to be suggestive, but that he wanted to snicker like a twelve-year-old meant that he’d probably been celibate too long. “Meat tackling sounds good to me,” he replied as he started up the van.

Liam turned in his seat, raising one eyebrow as if he’d read something of Carter’s thoughts in the tone of his voice. “It sounds good to me too,” he drawled. “I normally frown on mixing business and pleasure, but considering I’m not really your employee, I suppose it doesn’t cross that boundary.”

Carter shot a wide-eyed look at Liam, startled that Liam had not only picked up on his innuendo but had also responded with such bluntness. At least that answered the question of Liam’s sexuality.

“I—uh—” Carter floundered for a way to respond that wouldn’t offend Liam, because he couldn’t get involved, not even short term. He had too little time in the day as it was, and besides, he was fighting enough hard battles with his parents already. He didn’t have the energy to start waging another one. “I’m sorry if that was inappropriate. You’re an attractive man, but you’ve made it clear you’re only here for two weeks, and I don’t do flings.”

Liam looked at him for a long moment, then shrugged. “Sure,” he said, not seeming offended, though there might have been just a touch of disappointment in his voice. “To be honest, part of the reason I said it was because I caught the flirtation last night. I was trying to see if that was actual interest or if that’s just your way.”

“A little of both,” Carter replied, deciding he might as well be honest. Liam was attractive, and under different circumstances, Carter would have taken him up on the offer, but the timing was all wrong right now. “I’ll stop if it bothers you, though. I don’t want to make you uncomfortable.”

With a snort of amusement, Liam shook his head. “I’ve spent the last ten years in New York City, working as everything from a dishwasher to an executive chef. I’ve seen it all, son—and been hit on by half of it.” A slight shadow crossed his face, but it was gone quickly. “It takes a lot more than an innocent bit of flirtation to ruffle my feathers.”

“I’m glad to hear it.” Carter smiled, relieved to know he hadn’t damaged their working relationship. “So which of the meat markets do you want to try first?”

BLURB

From the frying pan into the fire.

After a critic’s review attacks both Chef Liam Walker’s culinary skills and his personal life, Liam can no longer take the heat of the cutthroat New York City restaurant scene. He needs to get out of the kitchen—at least long enough to cool down and regroup.

At the Overlook Resort in North Carolina, Liam meets owner Carter Galloway. Carter has a passion for the hospitality business to rival Liam’s own, and it’s not hard to see where their shared interests—and attraction—could lead. But Carter has no interest in a fling, and Liam has no intention of walking away from the career he fought so hard for. If they want a taste of happiness together, they’ll have to find the courage to break the bonds threatening to pull them apart.

About the Author(s)

Ari McKay is the professional pseudonym for Arionrhod and McKay, who have been writing together for over a decade. Their collaborations encompass a wide variety of romance genres, including contemporary, fantasy, science fiction, gothic, and action/adventure. Their work includes the Blood Bathory series of paranormal novels, the Herc’s Mercs series, as well as two historical Westerns: Heart of Stone and Finding Forgiveness. When not writing, they can often be found scheming over costume designs or binge watching TV shows together.

Arionrhod is a systems engineer by day who is eagerly looking forward to (hopefully) becoming a full time writer in the not-too-distant future. Now that she is an empty-nester, she has turned her attentions to finding the perfect piece of land to build a fortress in preparation for the zombie apocalypse, and baking (and eating) far too many cakes.

McKay is an English teacher who has been writing for one reason or another most of her life. She also enjoys knitting, reading, cooking, and playing video games. She has been known to knit in public. Given she has the survival skills of a gnat, she’s relying on Arionrhod to help her survive the zombie apocalypse.

Arionrhod and McKay

CONTACTS:

Mario Kai Lipinski on Writing, Books and his new release ‘Symbols’, out now! (guest post/author interview)

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Symbols by Mario Kai Lipinski
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reamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Garrett Leigh

Available for Purchase at

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Mario Kai Lipinski here today. Welcome, Mario!

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I’m very happy to be featured on Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words and grateful for getting the chance to present my upcoming book ‘Symbols.’

Let me begin with an admission: I really suck at self-adulation, so I won’t even try. Then again, you will find a lot of me in the answers to the interview questions, and that’s what you can also expect to find in ‘Symbols.’

Phew!

We made it through the advertising part, and without any further ado: enjoy the interview.

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How much of yourself goes into a character?

My characters are mostly made up of parts that are not me. In my writing, I live out traits that I don’t have or that I don’t want to have. The people in my stories are athletes, very confident, or party lions. I’m nothing like that. On the other hand, they are bullies, devious, and mean. I’m nothing like that either and give my best to keep it this way.

Yet there are always details of my life and personality shaping my characters. One of my basic beliefs is wonderfully summarized in the Wiccan rede: An it harm none, do what ye will. Most of my main chars share this conviction with me. Another example is strong family bonds. I’m very close to my parents and my sister, and so are most of my characters.

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?

The strongest case against me creating Gary Stu’s in my books is that I don’t want to be any of my characters. At least not in the beginning of the stories. 🙂

There are always parts of me (or anti-parts of me) in the characters, but I strive to balance the good and the bad. Of course, fictional characters exhibit a tendency to be extreme in one way or another. And I think that’s a necessity because most readers would fall asleep after reading three pages of my actual life and thoughts. In my opinion, the tight line doesn’t run between my experiences and a Gary Stu, but between believable and yet edgy characters inspired by me (or by anti-me).

Still I have a confession to make: The Gary-Stuest aspect in my stories is the theme of the outcast getting the handsome guy. That’s actual wishful thinking on my side. But what the heck? It’s fun to write and hopefully as fun to read.

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

In ‘real’ life, I’m a mathematician. It doesn’t get more—researchy—than playing around with abstract structures that don’t exist for real.

The way I write is the polar opposite of that: If you don’t know it, wing it and only look up the most basic stuff.

For example, I must admit that my knowledge about the US school and college system mainly stems from books, movies, and series. Strangely enough that’s sufficient to present a halfway plausible story most of the time. And sometimes it fails miserably. So just bear with an ignorant German if a detail is off.

Since I’m not much of a researcher when it comes to stories, I’d never dabble with writing a historic novel where accurate facts are paramount. On the other hand, I enjoy world building in fantasy and sci-fi stories. I have at least three different concepts for faster-than-light travel in my head, and probably even more magical systems floating around there.

To boil this down to a credo: don’t just write what you know, write what you can imagine.

Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

Only partly. In my childhood and teenager years, I mostly read fantasy and sci-fi books. I’m still very fond of the Taran series by Lloyd Alexander and the Dune series by Frank Herbert. When it comes to gay romance, I’m a late starter. My gateway drug was the Last Herald-Mage series by Mercedes Lackey, the first books I bought for my then brand-new kindle. It was a revelation: there were actually books out there with meaningful gay romance plots. A wide selection of contemporary MM books followed.

In fact, I have written a gay sci-fi/romance book (part of MLR’s Storming Love: Meteor Strikes series), and there’s an unfinished gay fantasy story lingering on my hard disk. So, my early reading years had an influence on my writing, but I can’t say they set me on a fixed road.

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?

I never actually had to stop writing. Some scenes I wrote brought me to tears—e.g., in “Perception” the death of a mama dog was very hard for me to finish, but I just went on putting down words. Though I never had to abandon a scene, I write emotional ones the slowest. It takes me quite a time to formulate the inner thoughts and dialogues, expressing the correct level of feelings. I partly blame not being a native speaker for that. It’s difficult for me to assess whether a given word is appropriate and not too strong or too weak. In addition, I write and edit at the same time. I put down some words, change them, change them again, and go on. This method is the sluggishest way to write, but it’s the only one that truly works for me.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I’m an incurable romantic, so I’m a definite sucker for HEA.

Love overcomes anything. Love survives anything. Love lasts forever.

That’s the way I want things to be. Of course, my rational part insists that reality is different, that even true love might not stand a chance against the hardships of life. But dreams are an indispensable part of what we are. Dreams make the human existence worthwhile. That’s why my naive heart will always prefer to dream and demand its HEA… and I’m glad it does.

Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  Now and growing up?

I can’t say that there is one single influence. My approach to writing (and many other things in life) is eclectic. I study a lot of resources and pick out the things that work for me. However, one book from which I adopted a lot of ideas was ‘Immediate Fiction’ by Jerry Cleaver. The greatest strength of this book is that all concepts presented therein are explicitly labeled as optional. I tend to act like a petulant child if someone tells me it’s their way or the highway, and Jerry never did.

That petulant child also brought me to writing in the first place. I loved all the MM books I read, but there was always a little voice nagging me that the stories were a little off, that I would have written them differently. And so I did. In this sense, every MM author I read has influenced me.

How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?

Ebooks have almost completely replaced paper books in my life. Most of the fictional stuff I read is in electronic form. The only place where I regularly work with traditional books is at university, but ebooks are also gaining ground there.

Yet I believe that ebooks will never totally oust traditional books. There will always be people who prefer the sensory experience of reading, the touch, the smell, the weight.

On the other hand, I like the additional convenience of ebooks, the portability, the fact that the e-reader remembers the last page I read (because I never do and always lose my bookmarks).

In my opinion, ebooks and traditional books will coexist. Moreover, I’m very curious what new features future ebook generations will bring.

How do you choose your covers?

My selection process can only be described as intuitive. I don’t have any fixed criteria. I look at the cover and my guts tell me whether it’s perfect or not. There are some design elements which consistently work better for me than others: soft colors, not too many picture elements, or an interesting font. Yet there will always be a cover in primary colors, brimming with different items, and a blunt font that catches my eye.

Some good friends of mine hoard pre-made covers and write the stories inspired by them. For me, the cover comes after the story and reflects the finished book. But each to their own. 🙂

Do you have a favorite among your own stories?  And why?

I think that’s the answer that most authors give, but my favorite story is my first one: ‘Opposites attract.’

It’s full of errors, ignores most of the ‘rules’ of writing, and doesn’t have much conflict, yet it was the most fun to write. ‘Ignorance is bliss’ is also true when it comes to stories. I didn’t think at all and just wrote, a state of flow I never came close to after Opposites. It’s this lightness of creation which makes that story so dear to me.

It’s still available on the Nifty Archive and Gay Authors under the pen name of Hasimir Fenrig. But don’t hold it against me… 😉

What’s next for you as an author?

Two of my novels are Young Adult stories evolving around the gentle giant trope, yet many of my plot bunnies want to explore this setting further. By the way, is anyone interested in a gay version of ‘The Blue Lagoon – The Awakening’? 🙂

On the other hand, I’d like to broaden my writing perspective. I’m a middle-aged German man, so there are plenty of ‘adult’ topics I could cover. One of my plot ideas centers around a man diagnosed with a fatal disease who rids himself of all social inhibitions. It’d be interesting for me to delve into this adventure because I’m a very restrained person in real life. There are also some darker stories whirling around in my head. Stories dealing with torture and violence, things I despise and condemn from the bottom of my heart but which hold a certain fascination of evil for me.

You see I got lots of ideas, but I’m not working on a specific project right now. The cliché of “The story finds the author, not the other way round.” actually isn’t one.

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Blurb ‘Symbols’:

Violence is hard to escape because of the scars it leaves—on the body, the mind, and the heart.

Small, skinny, and timid, Matt is the school’s punching bag. He suffers in silence and holds no hope anyone will come to his aid. The last thing on his mind is finding someone special. He’s sure it’s impossible, so why bother trying?

Shane is no stranger to pain. At his old school, he broke a football player’s arms for tormenting his friend, and with his size and multiple tattoos, he looks every bit the thug everyone—Matt included—assumes he is.

Building trust isn’t easy, but a sweet yet passionate romance slowly unfolds. Their road isn’t without bumps, but Matt and Shane navigate them together, finding happiness and security in each other—until another act of violence and its aftermath threatens to tear their lives—and their love—apart once and for all. But like the symbols etched into Shane’s skin, some things are made to last.

Author Bio:

Mario Kai Lipinski lives in Herne, Germany.

He is a spare-time author, and his evil day job, teaching mathematics at university level, isn’t that evil after all. Granted, on some days he wants to strangle his students, but it only takes a coffee or two and he remembers how much he loves them. He loves nerdy science stuff too. Does it show in his books? Of course it does.

English is not his native language, and he frequently gets asked why he writes in English. The answer has two parts. Firstly, he has slightly masochistic tendencies. Secondly, most books he reads are in English. So it feels only natural to write in this language too. English is beautiful—until it isn’t. Never, absolutely never, get him started on comma rules.

One reader described his books as “sexually explicit Disney movies.” That hits the nail on the head. Mario is into romance with a capital R and loves his cheesy. He is so good at channeling his inner teenager that sometimes he doubts he even has an inner adult.

Andrea Speed on Soundtracks, Writing and her latest Lochlann (Order of the Black Knights #6) (guest post and excerpt)

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Lochlann (Order of the Black Knights #6) by Andrea Speed
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reamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Andrea Speed here today. Andrea is talking soundtracks for her stories, specifically her latest novel in the Order of the Black Knights series, Lochlann.  Welcome, Andrea!

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Soundtracks for Lochlann by Andrea Speed

I love making soundtracks for my stories. I have a ton of them, and I’ll admit they’re mostly pretty weird. I know people are supposed to mellow out as they get older, but I’m just getting stranger.

Music played a big part in my Infected series, but less so in my other stories. But just because music doesn’t play a direct part on the page in my Josh of the Damned series, doesn’t mean I didn’t have a soundtrack in mind. (Josh went through an embarrassing emo phase that he refuses to talk about.) The same is true of Lochlann, where music plays no part in the story, but I’m keenly aware of what should be there. I’ve already put together an online soundtrack you can listen to, but I’ll pick out a couple of songs to highlight Lochlann’s musical taste. .

To my way of thinking, Lochlann is a fan of gloomy music. Dark ambient stuff that lasts twenty minutes or so, longer than ever necessary. Stuff you think should be over long before it is, but is still undeniably creepy.

The Inward Circles – The Soul Itself A Rhombus

https://youtu.be/myk_wALF0_0

If you’re saying to yourself “What the hell is this” – congratulations! You have grasped dark ambient as a genre. I feel I can say that as I like quite a bit of it myself, but there’s no dismissing the fact that most of it can be boiled down to “why does this exist” and “who is this for”. An argument could be made it exists for soundtracks, but truth be told, dark ambient isn’t used in soundtracks like it should be, because people who put them together aren’t aware of the genre? Or don’t want to creep people out. Really good dark ambient can freak you the hell out. That’s a feature, not a bug.

Arovane & Porya Hatami – Becoming

https://youtu.be/dwPYry0v0q8

Now this is really dark ambient stuff, in that it’s a concept album. Yes, a collection of subtly shifting tones and notes is somehow a concept album. A really good one too! I encourage you to sit down and listen to the whole thing. I never really considered what a micro-organism might sound like, but this is probably close.

Verge – Deluge

https://youtu.be/y_833qIfDGI

A mild cheat, as this often falls under experimental, but it is very dark ambient sounding. Sometimes you do get genre creep with this style of music, as it is so damn strange. It also sometimes gets filed under electronic or metal, depending on whether it’s heavier with keyboards or guitars, alternate, post-rock, and a few other genres as well. It comes down to opinion of the artist or the listener a lot of the time. In that way, there’s a freedom to dark ambient that is kind of intriguing. It’s hard to define, but you know it when you hear it.

Lawrence English – Hard Rain

https://youtu.be/IrxDvJbZ9VQ


Another one that gets slotted into experimental more often than not, and that’s fair, as all his music doesn’t sound like this. But this is definitely dark ambient style experimental, and I feel that should be encouraged.

I think this puts you into Lochlann’s mindset quite easily, and I hope I encouraged at least one person to look up more dark ambient music. Because believe me, it’s so easy to write to, especially if you’re working on a dark or dramatic story. Let the creepiness commence!

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Blurb

Violence has been Lochlann O’Connor’s companion since he was born into a family of old-school Irish terrorists. From there he is recruited into Alpha, a secret government agency dedicated to fighting terrorism—with extreme prejudice. Lochlann’s bravery, efficiency, ruthlessness, and the natural dead eye that lets him hit anything that moves, quickly make him one of the shadowy organization’s most valued operatives.

Cas Vega joins Alpha because it’s marginally better than a prison sentence. He’s a former drug cartel assassin—or at least that’s his story. But Lochlann is suspicious. Despite an irrational and overwhelming attraction to Cas, Lochlann has questions, and they soon lead to a deeper and deadlier mystery. What is Alpha’s true purpose, and why does it seem they want to eliminate Lochlann?

Lochlann and Cas must work together to get to the bottom of Alpha’s scheme and escape it—and all while Cas keeps secrets that could cost him his life if they’re revealed. But it’s not an alliance that can last. Duty turns the men into enemies, even while fate compels them into each other’s arms. Before they can contemplate which will prevail, they must figure out how to survive.

 

Excerpt

 

Lochlann knew the mission had gone bad the second before Anze came over his earpiece and said, “We’ve been comp—” The rest of the sentence disappeared in a burst of static.

Not that it mattered. He knew what Anze was trying to say. And yet he barely quickened his pace as the emergency siren ripped through the building. Hoping security hadn’t been shut down yet, he ran Dr. Waters’s ID keycard through the door scanner. It beeped, and the light turned green as the lock released with a faint clunk. He opened the door and ducked inside as lights pulsed on the walls.

He was in the lowest level of the Kishigawa Pharmaceuticals building in Prague, which was actually a needless detail, as the building could have been any one of the two dozen or so Kishigawa Pharmaceutical buildings across the globe. The layouts were cookie cutter, exactly the same, which made it easy to find points of entrance and egress. But getting into the building was never the hard part of any operation. Getting what they came for and leaving were the issues.

He was on the second sublevel, which, according to the official records, was an empty storage area but was actually a secret lab, cooking up a biological weapon that made sarin gas seem like hot sauce. Alpha wanted to get the formula before Dr. Laska put it on the open market. That was Lochlann’s job—to neutralize the creator, and retrieve the only known sample of the finished product. And get out alive, which was the biggest challenge.

A lab assistant wearing thick glasses ran up to him. “Dr. Waters, do you know what’s going on?”

He was supposed to neutralize any witnesses. He had his Glock 30SF and his tactical knife, or he could simply punch the assistant in the larynx and kill him with a single blow. He would be neither the first nor the last innocent bystander Lochlann had killed.

So why didn’t he?

“Fire,” he said, jerking his head back toward the door. “Evacuate immediately.”

The assistant looked confused as Lochlann continued down the corridor. “Sir, what about you?”

“I’ll be right there. I have to get Dr. Laska. Go outside.” The comms were off. That burst of static that cut off Anze sounded like a jamming signal. If you couldn’t receive, you couldn’t send either. So officially none of it ever happened.

Laska’s lab was at the end of the hall. It was an airtight room with its own filtration system and its own inner airlock. No one ever asked why Dr. Laska needed those precautious. It was an idiosyncrasy everyone tolerated without knowing the reason behind it.

Dr. Laska’s assistant, Tinordi, turned to face him as Lochlann entered the room. “Dr. Waters, you’re not—”

Lochlann punched Tinordi square in the throat, crushing his larynx and windpipe. He crumpled to the floor and made terrible rasping sounds in lieu of breathing. He had to die—he worked on the project—but at least he’d die fast.

Laska was in his inner lab with his back turned to the outer chamber. That allowed Lochlann to cycle the airlock without being noticed. In there he couldn’t hear the emergency alert siren, which seemed like a tragic oversight. Laska would never know.

Once the airlock irised open, Laska, without turning around, said, “Bring me a number three flask, would you?” Laska assumed Lochlann was Tinordi. He didn’t know his assistant was dead in the adjoining room.

Lochlann didn’t answer immediately. He pulled out his Glock first. “I’m not your assistant.”

The strange voice made Laska spin on his heels, and he froze the second he saw the gun. His small eyes narrowed until they almost disappeared into the soft, white moon of his face. “Who do you work for? The Russians? The Chinese?”

Lochlann didn’t answer. Instead he fired, put a neat hole in Laska’s forehead, and blew his brains over the white wall behind him. Crimson bloomed messily and dripped down the wall, while grisly chunks splattered to the ground. Laska crumpled like a marionette that just had its strings cut. Lochlann stepped over the body and made his way to the wall safe, where the sample dubbed “formula X213” was stored.

Alpha had infiltrated Laska’s home and business computers a while before. The tech team had stolen all data on the formula and destroyed it, damaging the research from the inside out. They knew the safe code and all Laska’s other codes, because when Alpha targeted you, you were as good as dead in every sense of the word.

The safe opened with a pneumatic hiss, as it was temperature controlled, and Lochlann found the formula inside a vacuum-sealed thermos. He held it in his hand as he scanned the room and saw the incinerator in the corner.

A huge metal box, plastered with warning stickers, it used microwaves and intense heat not just to bake an object, but essentially to vaporize it and leave barely even a char mark. That was how Laska got rid of his previous failed formulas and kept industrial spies from taking even the tiniest samples of his work. Nothing survived that incinerator, not even clues.

Why did Alpha want formula X213? At the briefing Number One instructed them to wipe out all records of it, along with the scientist who created it. It was too deadly. A teaspoon of the stuff could kill everyone in a crowded mall, and in the open it could contaminate soil, air, and water for decades. But they wanted the sample. Yes, they had the formula, so they could make it themselves, but there was something tricky about the mixture. He didn’t know what. He didn’t need to. He was a field operative, not a tech.

The operation had never felt right to him. Alpha had plans for it, and he didn’t trust Alpha. They were supposed to be the good guys, but questions had been eating at him since the Rome incident. Alpha worked in deception. Could anything that relied on obfuscation be exactly what it seemed?

Before he could think about what he was doing, he went to the incinerator, dropped the thermos in, and activated it. He had to step back because the heat it shed was impressive, and the noise it made, while brief, was incredibly loud… which might have explained why Laska’s lab was soundproofed.

He had no idea what he was going to say to Number One, but he’d figure it out. Working for Alpha had made him an excellent liar.

He planted the explosive charge and shed his lab coat and fake Dr. Waters ID. Then he grabbed Dr. Laska’s security badge from his bloodied corpse and left the lab. Lochlann kept up his normal stride, as though he were leaving at the end of a shift, but he still had his gun out, held casually down at his side in his left hand. According to his trainer, he was one of the rarest of people—a truly ambidextrous shooter. He could use either hand with virtually the same results.

Lochlann met no one on his way to the exit. He’d have to kill anyone he encountered. The exit door had a security lock, and there was a chance that, if they’d locked the entire system down, it wouldn’t open even for Laska’s high-clearance badge. Hopefully the interruption to the comms hadn’t completely locked Alpha out of the building’s systems.

The first time he ran the badge through the lock, it made a negative noise and the light stayed red. He ran it again, and got the same response. Lochlann counted down in his head the time remaining to detonation as he ran the badge a third time and it worked. The light flashed green, and the lock released with a clunk. He flung it open and was out in the subterranean parking lot within five seconds. And despite the low lighting, he knew he wasn’t alone.

Buy link: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/lochlann-by-andrea-speed-8493-b

About the Author

Andrea Speed is a random collection of newspapers and food scraps that somehow became sentient. Perhaps this explains her fear of goats. If you see her, just nod politely as she tells you how composting is an Illuminati conspiracy, and try not to make any sudden moves.

Author contacts:

Diana Copland on Writing,Books and Michael, Reinvented (Delta Restorations #2) by Diana Copland (author interview/guest post)

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Michael, Reinvented (Delta Restorations #2) by Diana Copland
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reamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Anne Cain

Available for Purchase at

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to welcome Diana Copland here today.  Welcome, Diana, and thanks for sharing something about yourself, your writing, and your latest release Michael, Reinvented (Delta Restorations #2).

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Diana Copland

  • How much of yourself goes into a character?

There have been some characters that I think are more ‘me’ than others. I’m nothing like Jackson in ‘David, Renewed’, but I think some of David’s insecurities come from my personal playbook. I do think I’m a bit like Gil.

  • 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?

I think if a writer ‘writes what they know’ there’s always a danger of sticking a little too much of ourselves in a character. Writing a detailed character study before you ever start a book helps with that. In my character studies, I decide who my characters are, where they live, what they eat, how they dress. I decide what their background is, what their families are like, and how that informs their decisions. I think you have to have a pretty good idea who your characters are before you begin, or ‘Gary Stuism’ may be inevitable. On the other hand, your own experiences are going to inform characters a certain amount. Because I have Diabetes, I could write a diabetic with more authenticity. It’s a fine line.

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

Research is a huge part of everything I write. (Even though occasionally I’m accused of not doing enough! Lol.) I try, really hard, to make sure I research my characters jobs, where they live, and their experiences with other people. Because so far I’ve written in the contemporary ‘real world’ I try to get it right. I don’t always love research, but I think it’s really important. For instance, I had an ER Doctor read ‘Michael, Reinvented’, just to be sure it was accurate.

  • Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

Absolutely. My first experience reading romance was ‘Green Darkness’, by Anya Seaton. It was a love story with a paranormal influence, and the vast majority of my stuff has had a paranormal bent. The Delta Restorations Series are the first books I’ve written that don’t, and I’m going back to paranormal for my next project. You can still get ‘Green Darkness’ by the way, and it’s a great read.

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? I can’t say that’s ever happened to me. When we write characters that hurt the way we do, they can be more true to life. I think you have to understand the hurt to convey it.

  • Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  Now and growing up?

Before I discovered m/m as a genre, I’d say Anya Seaton was huge influence. So were Alexandra Ripley, and Jennifer Crusie. In m/m, there are so many! But I have to say Josh Lanyon was first, and has remained a huge influence.  I can only hope to write like Josh.

  • How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?

I love the ebook format. I can carry around three hundred books in my cell phone! But I love holding one of my books in my hands, too. I do think ebooks are the future of publishing, but I think we lose something fundamentally thrilling when we can’t hold that hard copy. For instance, I’ll never have a hard copy of A Reason to Believe because the publisher only does a print version when you hit a certain sales limit.

  • How do you choose your covers?  (curious on my part)

It really depends on the publisher. At Carina, they simply said ‘here’s your cover!’ Fortunately, I loved it so it was all good. At Dreamspinner, we work with a cover artist. (Mine is the brilliant Anne Cain). It’s a very interactive experience, and it’s made for some of my favorite covers. I really love Michael, Reinvented. I think Anne did an awesome job.

  • Do you have a favorite among your own stories? And why?

I know it sounds really self-serving, but I love Michael and Gil in ‘Michael, Reinvented’. Michael is such a smart ass, and Gil is this gentle giant who understands more about Michael’s self defense mechanisms than Michael will ever know. He’s also so protective, even though Michael doesn’t necessarily know he needs that part of Gil. They’re kind of complicated and I like that.

What’s next for you as an author? Up immediately is ‘Manny, Reborn’, book three in the Delta Restorations Series. After that is a book about reincarnation, which could possibly be a series. And then I’ve outlined an Urban Fantasy series. So, I’ll be busy for a while!

Blurb

Cute hipster and interior designer Michael doesn’t do love—not after his ex screwed him over. Sex is a different story, though, and the gentle giant who’s painting the mural in the old mansion they’re restoring might be perfect hookup material. Gil is just Michael’s type with his solid muscle, wicked sense of humor, and the hazel eyes that seem to see into Michael’s soul.

Trouble is, Gil does do love. He wants romance and forever, and he’s set his sights firmly on Michael. Michael’s not going there again.

Yet when Michael is the victim of a vandal who’s been plaguing the men working for Delta Restoration, Renovation, and Design, Gil is the first person he tells. No matter how he fights it, it’s becoming harder and harder to deny he’s crazy about the guy—even if that thought terrifies him. But the true fear sets in when the criminal behavior escalates, and Michael realizes he might have lost the chance to tell Gil how he feels—forever.

Delta Restorations Series at Goodreads