In Our Science Fiction Spotlight: Skythane by J. Scott Coatsworth (guest post and excerpt)

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Skythane by J. Scott Coatsworth
D
reamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Anne Cain

 

Available for Purchase by

Dreamspinner – eBook | Dreamspinner – paperback | Amazon – kindle |Amazon – paperback

Barnes & Noble – paperback | Kobo | iBooksGoodreads 

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host J. Scott Coatsworth here today talking about writing and his newest science fiction release, Skythane. Welcome, Scott.

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Writing the Perfect Story by J. Scott Coatsworth

As a writer, you are just one part of the wide and diverse community that makes a book actually happen. Once you type those last two words “the end”, it takes a village to transform your little manuscript into the finished work of art that your readers will hold in their hot little hands.

Chief among these villagers are your alpha and beta readers.

These are both now typically conflated under the title of “beta reader”, but they do mean fairly specific things. An alpha reader is usually the first peson who reads the book after you finish it, and may send you back to the drawing board for things like problems with the overall structure of the book or the storytelling, whereas a beta reader typically gives you a critique that is more limited in scope.

Both of these types of readers are critical to the process – they can help you catch things you are too close to the story to see.

For Skythane, one of my dear writer friends played the role of alpha reader. Her conclusion? That I had the bones of a cool story, but I had to figure out a lot more of the science and background to make it a great one.

Her critique set me back a few months, but in the end it made Skythane a much better story.

It’s a good thing when a pre-submission reader helps you catch errors before the publisher sees your work, but just once, I want to write a story that even my harshest reader thinks is perfect. Or at least in decent enough shape for submission.

The consolation? Once a story has run the gauntlet, it is pretty damned near perfect. And that’s gotta be worth something.

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My new novel, Skythane, is just out – and it combines my love of sci fi and secret reveals and MM romance. I hope you enjoy it!

Blurb

Jameson Havercamp, a psych from a conservative religious colony, has come to Oberon—unique among the Common Worlds—in search of a rare substance called pith. He’s guided through the wilds on his quest by Xander Kinnison, a handsome, cocky wing man with a troubled past.

Neither knows that Oberon is facing imminent destruction. Even as the world starts to fall apart around them, they have no idea what’s coming—or the bond that will develop between them as they race to avert a cataclysm.

Together, they will journey to uncover the secrets of this strange and singular world, even as it takes them beyond the bounds of reality itself to discover what truly binds them together.

Excerpt

Rain hit the plas and ran downward in little rivulets, separating and rejoining like branches of time as the storm whipped itself into a frenzy over Oberon City.

Xander Kinnson lay on his bed, head thrown back, watching the tempest with a laziness that belied his inner turmoil and pain. Alix had left him and gone missing. A year had passed, and still he had a hard time accepting that simple fact.

His dark wings with their jet-black feathers were stretched out lazily to each side of his supine form, their tips extending past the edge of the bed. His chest heaved slowly up and down, and he breathed easily, as if he were utterly relaxed.

Nothing could have been further from the truth. Below the surface, under the deception of skin and sinew, his heart beat at a thunderous pace, and his mind raced for answers to Alix’s fate that slipped beyond his grasp.

The handsome trick he’d brought home rested his warm hands on Xander’s thighs, his hot mouth engaged elsewhere. Xander smelled the deep, masculine musk of him, slipping a hand absently through the man’s dark, tousled hair as the rain increased to a thundering downpour against the plas. The drops glistened, each an individual universe of shimmering light before running quickly out of sight.

A flash of lightning illuminated the room, thunder indicating how close it had been. As the heavy rain pounded against the arco’s walls, Xander rode the wave of pleasure higher and higher. Despite himself, he rose quickly toward climax, drawn up on the tide as the trick worked his cock. Unable to stop himself, he thrust his hips almost angrily upward into the man’s willing throat. Closer, closer….

He reached the crest, a pleasure so intense it burned through him like phosphorous, a white-hot fire.

Lightning flared again across the wet, black sky, followed by thunder so close it shook the bed. The storm had reached a fever pitch outside, and he arched his back in the air one more time, his wings rustling beneath him. As if in concert with the storm, Xander came, the release of his orgasm radiating from his hips along his spinal cord and down through his toes and the tips of his wings.

The rush of elation washed away his cares for a few brief moments. Xander shuddered, shivered, and shuddered again, and it was over.

For a while, he drifted in an oblivion that was blessed in its emptiness. The rain fell in a steady beat against the window, and he forgot to wallow in his pain. His mind floated free, with no responsibilities, nothing to worry about for those brief moments between sex and real life. This was what he needed. This lack of thought, this pleasurable oblivion where he could just be.

When he opened his eyes at last, the nameless trick was staring down at him, expectant.

“You’re still here.”

“I can do more, if you’d like,” the man said with a grin. Like Alix, he had no wings—a lander man.

Xander glared at him, annoyed. He was handsome enough, tall, dark-haired, with blue eyes and a light complexion. Strangely, he reminded Xander of Alix. The hair and eyes were wrong, but there was something about him, and that annoyed the hell out of Xander, for reasons he didn’t care to examine too closely. “Get out,” he said with a dismissive wave.

The man frowned. “I thought—”

“Oh right, your pay.” Xander took the man’s arm and slitted him a hundred crits from the wrist reader embedded in his own. Then he waved the trick away. “We’re square. Now get the fuck out of my flat.”

The man gathered his own clothes, but Xander didn’t give him time to put them on. Instead he hustled the trick out of the irising door, palming it closed on his hurt and angry expression.

I really have become a bastard, he thought, staring at his dim reflection in the shiny black door. It had been a long year.

He tapped the cirq in his temple with his left hand, and called out to his PA. “Ravi, any messages for me?”

 

About the Author

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Scott has been writing since elementary school, when he and won a University of Arizona writing contest in 4th grade for his first sci fi story (with illustrations!). He finished his first novel in his mid twenties, but after seeing it rejected by ten publishers, he gave up on writing for a while.

Over the ensuing years, he came back to it periodically, but it never stuck. Then one day, he was complaining to Mark, his husband, early last year about how he had been derailed yet again by the death of a family member, and Mark said to him “the only one stopping you from writing is you.”

Since then, Scott has gone back to writing in a big way. He has sold more than a dozen short stories – some new, some that he had started years before. He is currently working on two sci fi trilogies, and also runs the Queer Sci Fi (http://www.queerscifi.com) site, a group for readers and writers of gay sci fi, fantasy, and paranormal fiction.

Website: http://www.jscottcoatsworth.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jscottcoatsworth

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jscoatsworth

In the Spotlight: Foxes by Suki Fleet (giveaway)

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Dreamspinner


2016 Rainbow Award Winner – Best Gay Young Adult

Blurb


When Dashiel’s body is found dumped on an East London wasteland, his best friend Danny sets out to find the killer. But Danny finds interaction difficult and must keep his world small in order to survive. By day he lives in an abandoned swimming pool and fixes electrical devices to trade for supplies, but by night, alone, he hunts sharks—a reckless search for dangerous men who prey on the vulnerable.

A chance meeting with an American boy selling himself on the streets throws this lonely existence into disarray. Micky is troubled, fragile, and Danny feels a desperate need to protect him—from what, he doesn’t know. As Danny discovers more about Micky, he realizes that what Micky needs saving from is the one thing Danny can’t help him fight against.

To save Micky, Danny must risk expanding his world and face something that scares him more than any shark ever could: trusting he will be accepted for who he is. If a freezing winter on the streets, a sadistic doctor, and three thousand miles don’t tear them apart first, that is.

February 10 – Back Porch Reader
 

Author Bio

Award Winning Author. Prolific Reader (though less prolific than she’d like). Lover of angst, romance and unexpected love stories.

Suki Fleet writes lyrical stories about memorable characters, and believes everyone should have a chance at a happy ending.

Her first novel This is Not a Love Story won Best Gay Debut in the 2014

Email: sukifleet@gmail.com
https://www.instagram.com/suki_fleet/
https://www.facebook.com/suki.fleet.3
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7919609.Suki_Fleet
http://sukifleet.tumblr.com/
http://sukifleet.wordpress.com/
https://twitter.com/SukiFleet?lang=en

 Giveaway

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Release Blitz and Giveaway: Clare London ‘s How The Other Half Lives

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Length: 20,000 words
 
 
 
Blurb
 

Compulsively neat freak meets chaotic slob: can their living space survive the conflict?

Martin Harrison keeps himself to himself and his Central London flat as neat as a new pin. Maybe he should loosen up and enjoy more of a social life, but in his mind, that’s tantamount to opening the floodgates to emotional chaos. He agrees, however, to join the flat-sitting scheme in his building and look after another tenant’s flat in exchange for a similar watch over his when he’s travelling for his work.

A floor away in the same building, Russ McNeely is happy with his life as a freelance cook and a self-confessed domestic slob. He also joins the flat-sitting scheme, both to be neighbourly and to help keep his flat in order, as Russ also travels for his work.

For a while, the very dissimilar men never meet. Martin is horrified at the mess at Russ’s flat, while Russ finds Martin’s minimalist style creepy. But in a spirit of generosity, each of them starts to help the other out by rearranging things in their own inimitable way.

Until the day a hiccup in the schedule brings them face-to-face at last.

 
 
Author Bio
 

Clare took the pen name London from the city where she lives, loves, and writes. A lone, brave female in a frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home, she juggles her writing with the weekly wash, waiting for the far distant day when she can afford to give up her day job as an accountant. She’s written in many genres and across many settings, with novels and short stories published both online and in print. She says she likes variety in her writing while friends say she’s just fickle, but as long as both theories spawn good fiction, she’s happy. Most of her work features male/male romance and drama with a healthy serving of physical passion, as she enjoys both reading and writing about strong, sympathetic and sexy characters.
Clare currently has several novels sulking at that tricky chapter 3 stage and plenty of other projects in mind . . . she just has to find out where she left them in that frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home.
All the details and free fiction are available at her website. Visit her today and say hello!

Website: http://www.clarelondon.com

Blog: http://clarelondon.livejournal.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/clarelondon
Facebook chat: https://www.facebook.com/groups/clarelondoncalling/
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/clare_london
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/clarelondon
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/author/clarelondon

 Giveaway

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TJ Nichols on Research, Writing, and ‘Warlock in Training’ (author interview and DSP Publications Guest Post)

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Warlock in Training (Studies in Demonology #1) by T.J. Nichols
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SP Publications
Cover Artist: Catt Ford

Available for Purchase at

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host T.J. Nichols here today in our authors interview chair.  Welcome, T.J.!

~Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with T.J. Nichols~

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

I do a lot of research even though I write (mostly) urban fantasy. It could be simple things like the physical location of the story if I’m setting it in a place I’ve never been through to different poisons that were common in the Middle Ages, or even the different types of werewolf lore.

When creating Demonside (the realm where demons live in Warlock in training) I had to research how desert dwelling people survived in those harsh conditions. I had to look up the life cycle of desert plants and animals which are dependent on the rains when, or if, they come.

Research is one of those things that I do all the time, even if I don’t know where the knowledge is going to come in handy.

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

Definitely. I read mainly fantasy novel when growing up, and I love that escape to new worlds. These days I love creating those new worlds and mixing magic into our world.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I like both as a reader and writer. Some stories need everything to be tied up with a bow and other stories need to be left undone. I’m generally happy as long as I think the couple has the chance to give being together a good shot. As a writer crafting the perfect ending can take a while. I try to know the last scene of the book by the time I’m ¼ of the way through writing the first draft. Sometimes I know that final image when I start plotting…then the trouble is working out how to get there. I must confess I’m not a fan of the ‘two years later epilogue’, I’ve never read one that’s made me love the story more (but I’ll read it if it’s there).

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

I didn’t discover romance novels until I was in my twenties. These days I read both. It all depends on what I want from a book (sometimes I want the happily ever after, sometimes I want the bigger world of an urban fantasy/fantasy, and sometimes I just want something I can read in 2 hours so I read a novella). I like the uplifting nature of romance novels and that love wins every time. Love should win and everyone should get their happily ever after, but that doesn’t happen in real life.

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

I don’t think ebooks will go away. I love them. The convenience of having a library on my ereader is great. I still buy print books, usually it comes down to price and availability as to which format I buy (I live in Australia).

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

I love all my stories but for different reasons. A Wolf’s Resistance is set in WW2 which is one of my favorite time periods so the research was really just reading for pleasure. Warlock in Training was just fun to write—not all stories are like that (I’m working on a novella at the moment which is like pulling teeth).

What’s next for you as an author?

I’m busy working on book 3 in the Studies in Demonology series (book 2 is with my crit partner at the moment). In September-ish Olivier (an Order of the Black Knights novel) will be out. If you haven’t checked out the Black Knights multi author series do, as it’s a mix of romantic suspense, past life repercussions and curses (some of my favorite things).

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Blurb

Angus Donohue doesn’t want to be a warlock. He believes draining demons for magic is evil, but it’s a dangerous opinion to have—his father is a powerful and well-connected warlock, and Angus is expected to follow the family tradition.

His only way out is to fail the demon summoning class. Failure means expulsion from the Warlock College. Despite Angus’s best efforts to fumble the summoning, it works. Although not the way anyone expects.

Angus’s demon, Saka, is a powerful mage with his own need for a warlock.

Saka wants to use Angus in a ritual to rebalance the magic that is being stripped from Demonside by warlocks. If Angus survives his demon’s desires and the perils of Demonside, he’ll have to face the Warlock College and their demands.

Angus must choose: obey the College and forget about Demonside or trust Saka and try to fix the damage before it’s too late. Whatever he does, he is in the middle of a war he isn’t qualified to fight.

About the Author

TJ Nichols is an avid runner and martial arts enthusiast who first started writing as child. Many years later while working as a civil designer TJ decided to pick up a pen and start writing again. Having grown up reading thrillers and fantasy novels it’s no surprise that mixing danger and magic comes so easily, writing urban fantasy allows TJ to bring magic to the everyday.

With two cats acting as supervisors TJ has gone from designing roads to building worlds and wouldn’t have it any other way. After traveling all over the world and Australia, TJ now lives in Perth, Western Australia.

Website: tjnichols-author.blogspot.com

Twitter: @TobyJNichols

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TJNichols.author/

Ebook: 978-1-63533-267-4

Print: 978-1-63533-266-7

In Our High Fantasy Showcase: The Shadow Mark (Lords of Davenia #2) by Mason Thomas (author interview)

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The Shadow Mark (Lords of Davenia #2) by Mason Thomas
D
reamspinner Press
Cover Designer: Maria Fanning

Available for Purchase from

           
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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Mason Thomas here today to talk about writing, characters and his latest release, The Shadow Mark. Welcome, Mason.
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~Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interviews Mason Thomas~

How much of yourself goes into a character?

An intriguing question, and the answer isn’t easy to peg down since character development doesn’t always occur on a conscious level. It’s impossible to not put yourself into your characters to some extent since it is your own experiences that you draw from. You cannot escape your own brain, and little aspects of yourself are going to infiltrate your characters. None of my characters are ever “me” per se. They just tap into various facets of my personality.

At times, you need to be deliberate about it. To generate authentic reactions to the events in your story, you have to draw from your personal experiences and extrapolate what the feelings and responses would be. Auraq Greystone, the main character in The Shadow Mark, is the least like me in terms of personality. He’s brooding and ill-tempered, and isn’t into talking about his feelings. This made him a challenge to write—in a good way. I had to dig deep into some dark history at times to channel him properly.

I will say there are times however that a character comes onto the scene and I have no idea where he or she came from. They arrive fully formed and announce who they are with utter certainty. It’s as if they’ve already received an early draft and are merely showing up to perform their part, and I’m only there to record them in the scene. I’ve even tried to direct them, and say, no I’d like you to be more “this.”  They grin back at me, and then do what they’re going to do anyway, whether I like it or not.


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?

You have to be mindful of that line, certainly. I’m very intentional when creating a character not use myself as a template. Like I said in the previous question, you can’t escape your thoughts and your own experiences, but characters also take on their own distinct traits and personalities through the writing process. They evolve their own identities, and you cannot fight against that.  You are not the character—you are only channeling them, recording their words and actions.

You also have to embrace the weaknesses and negative qualities of your characters. It’s good if your main character makes a mistake, or says the wrong thing, or makes a mess of something. Readers have to see that a character can fail. There’s a looming fear that bad behavior will make your character unlikeable, but what it can do is makes them believable—and if the reason behind the bad behavior fits their history or circumstances, it makes them sympathetic too.

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

I enjoy the world building aspect of writing speculative fiction. I like the “sandbox” nature of being able to construct the world and establish the rules that exist within it.  I pull from real world events, cultures and experiences, but since the world is of your own design, there isn’t a danger of getting the facts wrong. You just have to make certain that your world make sense, and you don’t break your own rules. This means that much my research is for generating ideas.

Sadly, I cannot escape real research, however. Do I enjoy it? No. But it’s a necessary evil. Smaller details—like how a barrel is constructed, or how a mill works to grind flour—have to be right. A detail you’ve gotten wrong is an insipid little imp that can easily escape your notice if you’re not careful, and it can turn your reader against you if they catch it. Combat is the area that I probably invested the most time researching a topic. I’ve even taken longsword classes to learn how to move, and how the body feels and reacts during combat. That was my favorite kind of research. If you’ve never taken a sword-fighting class, it’s seriously fun and I recommend it for everyone.

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

The irony is I wasn’t always a great reader as a kid. I have a slow reading speed, and being ADHD, I had a difficult time remaining focused long enough on a book to finish it. I lost interest very easily. The very first novel I read on my own from cover to cover was The Hobbit. I was in sixth grade. I was instantly hooked. Something about the escapism of fantasy (and science fiction as well) and the notion of a completely different world, connected with my overactive brain and dynamic inner life like nothing ever had before. I’ve been obsessed with speculative fiction ever since.   

Today, I write the stories I wish had existed when I was growing up—fantasy adventures with gay heroes.

 

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?

More the opposite. I use my own emotional connection to a story as a barometer. If I’m not feeling emotional as I write it, then it’s not connecting for some reason and I have to shelf it until I figure out what it’s missing. I’ve not yet reached a topic that cut too deeply, as it were, that it forced me to put it aside.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

This entirely depends on the story being told and the characters that occupy it.

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

I tend to not pick up novels that identify as “romance” alone. I choose the ones that overlap into speculative fiction. For me, as both a writer and a reader, I like it when the love story exists along with a larger context, and the two work in concert. The speculative elements shouldn’t be just a backdrop for the romance, but play a part in bringing the people together.  And speculative stories without a romance feel incomplete. The romance brings an authenticity to the story because connecting with others is a part of life that shouldn’t be ignored.

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

Hard to narrow this one down. I’ve been influenced by so many amazing writers over the years. Tolkien, of course, since he was my first introduction to speculative fiction. Anne McCaffrey, Brain Jacques, Piers Anthony and Stephen King to name a few more. Each of these authors has a magic about them that I’ve always revered—the ability to pull me so completely into their world. However, my primary influence as a writer has been Isaac Asimov, a writer from the golden age of science fiction. He was incredibly prolific, writing five-hundred books in his lifetime—but still took the time to type a personalized note to a thirteen-year-old fan boy who wrote him a letter with a pointless and annoying question. Twice.  I’ve always thought that was incredibly gracious of him. I have always been drawn to his intellect, and his humor, and his devotion to his craft. Many of his quotes are on my favorites list, but one quote has had a great impact on me as a writer: “I made up my mind long ago to follow one cardinal rule in all my writing—to be clear.”

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

Choosing a cover is terribly difficult and stressful for me. I want it to emote the tone of the book, I want it to be visually striking, and I want it to be sexy. I also want it to be original and stand out. That’s a lot of boxes I need it check off. I perseverate on the tiniest details, because once I’ve chosen the cover, it is forever connected to that work. I’m sure I drive the artist a little insane. Can you change the font? Can you move my name up just a little? Can you bring a little more color into it? I applaud their patience. 

The cover of The Shadow Mark, which was designed by Maria Fanning, is astounding and I couldn’t be happier with the result. It has everything I wanted. I think it exudes the strength of my main character, Auraq Greystone, it has a compelling look that draws you in, and it connects well to my previous cover as well.

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

Short answer—no.  They are all deeply personal to me for different reasons, and to select one over another is impossible. If I’m not fully drawn in to my own story, I’m not compelled to write it and it doesn’t get finished. My favorite project tends to be the one I’m currently working on.

What’s next for you as an author?

Juggling quite a few projects right now. I’ve recently finished a new young adult fantasy novel that I’ve very excited about. It’s the first in what I hope to be a series, with multiple young LGBTQ characters. My goal for this was to create a world where the LGBTQ characters are admired and respected, and are the heroes of the kingdom.  I’m in the process of editing it now, and hope to send it out this summer. I’m writing another romance/fantasy that takes place in a different world than the Lords of Davenia series. I’m also in the planning stages of creating a sequel for Lord Mouse.

Blurb

Auraq Greystone, once a military officer with a promising future, exists on the fringe of society. Accused of murder, Auraq is on the run from the ax—until two fugitives crash into his solitary life. One is a young man named Kane. The glowing marks on his arm pulse with an otherworldly power, and they have made him the target of a sinister organization called the Order of the Jackal. When the old man protecting Kane dies in an ambush, Auraq swears an oath to take his place.

But the runes are far more significant than they realize. They are a message from the shadow realm, a dark memory of the past—one holding evidence of a bloody massacre and its savage architect; one that will shake the kingdom to its foundation. Risking arrest and execution, Auraq fights to get Kane to the capital city where the cryptic marking can be unlocked.  And with assassins close on their trail, Auraq might never get the chance to show Kane what’s in his heart—or the way their journey together has changed him.

The Shadow Mark is an epic tale of magic, murder, conspiracy, betrayal, and—for the two men tasked with unraveling the mystery—love and redemption.

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Mason Thomas AUTHOR BIO:

Mason Thomas began his writing journey at the age of thirteen when his personal hero, Isaac Asimov, took the time to respond to a letter he wrote him. He’s been writing stories ever since. Today he is ecstatic and grateful that there is a place at the speculative table for stories with strong gay protagonists.


Mason, by all accounts, is still a nerdy teenager, although his hairline and waistline indicate otherwise. When his fingers are not pounding furiously at a keyboard, they can usually be found holding a video-game controller, plucking away at an electric guitar, or shaking a twenty-sided die during a role-playing game. Mason will take any opportunity to play dress-up, whether through cosplay, Halloween, or a visit to a Renaissance Faire. He pays the bills by daring middle school students to actually like school and encouraging them to make a mess in his science classroom. He lives in Chicago with his endlessly patient husband, who has tolerated his geeky nonsense for nearly two decades, and two unruly cats who graciously allow Mason and his husband to share the same space with them.

 
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In Our Urban Fantasy Spotlight: Jaeger (Order of the Black Knights #4) by Evelise Archer (special guest post, excerpt and teaser)

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Jaeger (Order of the Black Knights #4) by Evelise Archer

Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond

Available for Purchase at

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Evelise Archer here today to share a little bit about herself, writing, and her latest novel in her Order of the Black Knights series, Jaeger.  Welcome, Evelise!

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A Little Extra…

Once I decide to write a specific type of book, the research begins. I love the search aspect of hunting down the particulars, whether it be about culture, area, profession. Jaeger, a mystery/suspense allowed me to be creative with the part of the world some of the story took place and with the law enforcement aspect. Two things near and dear to my heart.

As a Latina, infusing my culture into the writing is very important to me and as a family of law enforcement/military, as well. Jaeger gave me the freedom to make a gruff individual evolve into a loving man- Jaeger just didn’t know he had honor and integrity deep in his soul until the lovely Latin brought out the best in him.

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Jaeger Blurb

US Marshal Jaeger Tripp is assigned to the Federal Witness Protection Program. The hurt and destruction he’s seen—along with protecting criminals who are only cooperating with the authorities to keep themselves out of jail—have left him with a bleak and jaded view of both life and people. His current assignment is Wren O’Riley, a computer wizard who witnessed a high-profile cartel hit.

To Jaeger, Wren is the same as any other job. He must protect him long enough to get him to testify at trial, and his personal feelings have no place in his work and must be set aside. But that’s easier said than done. On the run and fighting for their lives, Jaeger and Wren can’t help but grow closer. And Jaeger can’t help seeing beyond Wren’s nerdy exterior to a man who might be just what Jaeger needs to settle his soul and capture his heart—if they survive long enough to get that chance.

 About the series Order of the Black Knights

Every century has seen its knights. But there are those who are never seen. They do what must be done, what has to be done—when nobody wants to get their hands dirty. They are called the Black Knights. First created in the 1100s by the wizard Moriel, these men seem cold and hard, and it is said that some have no soul. But for each knight, there is one who can bring out the man who waits inside. The question is whether or not he will kill the individual before he figures it out.

Through the ages, they’ve conquered and ruled and taken what they wanted. And they have adapted to modern times. Instead of being bullies for hire, they have taken their skills further—the Internet, the CIA, government infiltration, hacking, special ops, assassination, but each one of them has a need they don’t understand—to squash, kill, or destroy.

If the Knight pardons an enemy, he will no longer be cursed. If not, he will continue to live the same life again and again, and each life will make him harder and more unyielding. And each life will make it is less likely that he can be saved.

Excerpt

Prologue 1981

Oppressive heat caused the sweat to trickle down Jaeger’s back and pool at the waistband of his camouflage BDUs. For three fucking days, he’d been entrenched in the mosquito-ridden jungle of Colombia, waiting for his mark, Carlos Quintanilla—drug runner, coca grower, and major player in the Colombian cartel. He and his team were paid handsomely to sit, wait, and dispose of a target. And though the original twenty-four hours—in, shoot, and out—had grown to three days, mercenaries were paid to wait under any conditions.

Once the deed was done, he would trek four klicks through the jungle and rendezvous with the team, cross into Venezuela, and transform into a businessman for the trip back to the States. With his payoff, he planned to retire—hang up his hat as a killer for hire and live on an island in peace and quiet. Maybe. If the nightmares stopped and gave him respite.

He watched through his rifle sight as Quintanilla lumbered along the edge of the pool of his multi-million-dollar fortress. Security was a priority for him, but that was of little consequence to Jaeger, who was perched approximately half a mile away from the complex in a makeshift tree stand with his Remington 700, nicknamed Lolita. He waited.

Movement to the right of the pool caught his attention. Jaeger shifted ever so slightly as the slim figure of a man dressed in blue flowered board shorts, a white undershirt, and flip flops approached Quintanilla. The young man couldn’t have been more than twenty-four.

A dirty blond mop of hair fell over his eyes. His skin was only slightly tanned, as though it had been kissed by the sun, and his ass was meant to be grabbed.

Jaeger didn’t have time to ogle over some squeeze Quintanilla kept at his house. Or maybe the young man was the drug runner’s son. Intel reported that Quintanilla’s wife, children, and mistress were away on vacation. So either the young man was a fuck buddy or a returning son, there to see daddy. Additionally, the team had watched the workers and security guards and knew the next few days were the only time that month Quintanilla would be alone. It looked like a vacation from the world. Quintanilla sent everyone else away and stayed to enjoy the amenities he acquired by dipping his hands into blood money. Carlos Quintanilla believed himself so powerful that no one would dare to touch him. He’d soon be proven wrong.

“Target in sight.” Jaeger spoke softly into the mic attached to the lapel of his camouflage shirt. The earpiece in his right ear crackled with static.

“Can you take the shot, Arrow One?” The speaker, located approximately four kilometers away, waited with the rest of the team for Jaeger to complete the deed and return to the rendezvous point.

“Roger, Base One. Shot available, but there’s a slight problem. The target is not alone. Over.”

Jaeger waited for base to confirm or negate his mission. He hoped it was a go, because if not, the sitting in a mosquito-infested jungle, being eaten alive would have been for naught. And that would highly piss him off.

“Can you take them both out, Arrow One?”

Jaeger thought and quickly contemplated the speed of the traveling bullet, the wind velocity, and the reaction time for the second target to move and attempt to take cover and fall at Quintanilla’s feet. He couldn’t guarantee it.

“Negative, Base One. Advise.” Jaeger waited.

Sitting in the jungle required patience, which any mercenary or sniper had in spades. The average man found it torturous to sit in silence for three minutes. Jaeger did it for days at a time. So the five minutes it took for base to get back to him was nothing. If Quintanilla attempted to leave the premises, Jaeger would have to either take him out and leave the young man alive or try to eradicate both of them.

“Base One to Arrow One. Over.”

“Arrow One here.”

“It’s a go, Arrow One. Target first, then the secondary. Take the trip to the destination and see if any cleaning is required. We are still a go for the meet. Over.”

“Roger, Base One. Over.”

Jaeger had the green light. Kill Quintanilla, shoot the young man, and confirm both kills. Jaeger had no doubt Carlos Quintanilla would be dead, but was not sure of the second target. He’d put a bullet in him on sight, if needed.

Jaeger peered through the lens, blinked his eyes to refocus, and stared at Quintanilla. He and his blond companion were seated side by side in chaise lounges. The young man’s hands moved earnestly, as if the talk was at the forefront of his young life. Jaeger inhaled and filled his lungs. The feel of Lolita against his cheek and on his shoulder and the caress of the scope and wood stock comforted him but had also brought him great pain. But this was not the time to become maudlin. He had a job. One that would enlarge his bank account and maybe deliver the solace he’d struggled so hard to find.

Ever so slowly he released his breath as his index finger rested on the trigger. As he let go the last of his breath, Jaeger squeezed the trigger. The whiz of the bullet rang through the air and blended with the cacophony of birds in the untamed Colombian jungle. Jaeger released the shell, inhaled again, and aligned his second shot. Dead-on, the bullet pierced Carlos Quintanilla’s skull, and blood oozed from the hole. Quintanilla fell over in the lounger. The young man dropped to his knees and covered his mouth with his hands. The angle of his body made it impossible for Jaeger to kill him, but he’d maim him until he was onsite and could finish the deed. This better involve a bonus. And not a two-fer-one sale.

The second shot, strategically aimed at the young man’s side, tore through his ribs and pierced a lung, incapacitating him until Jaeger arrived. The man dropped.

Jaeger slung his minipack onto his back, hoisted Lolita onto his shoulder by her strap, and jogged through the foliage. Normally the slight trek would have taken about ten minutes on solid ground, but in the thick of the Colombian jungle, half a mile could take up to an hour. Jaeger didn’t have the luxury of wasted time. He humped the half mile as fast and expediently as the surrounding area allowed and arrived at the fortress in less than thirty minutes.

Careful and mindful of any unwanted guests, Jaeger quickly entered through a low-lying wall on the back side and made his way to the pool area. The silence was welcome, except for the slight whimpers of the wounded bystander. Jaeger verified Quintanilla’s death and turned his attention to the young man who struggled for breath as his lungs obviously filled with blood and his heart enlarged and worked overtime to pump. Blood trickled from the corner of his mouth. His soulful chocolate-brown eyes pooled with tears as he peered up at Jaeger. Blood, snot, and tears did not detract from the young man’s good looks. In retrospect Jaeger realized he was Quintanilla’s son and not a boy toy.

Jaeger removed his Sig from the side holster and aimed. The young man resignedly closed his eyes. Sadness illuminated Jaeger’s soul at the prospect of taking an innocent, but no witnesses were allowed. And Jaeger was paid to kill. He wasn’t quite sure where his feeling emanated from, but a job was a job, and Jaeger and the team were being paid handsomely. The boy had the misfortune to be born into the Quintanilla family and grow up the son of a notorious drug runner. Maybe not so innocent, then—tainted by his genealogy. Jaeger pulled the trigger. The sound was louder than usual.

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About the Author

Evelise Archer is a wife, mother, and grandmother. She is a new-found lover of tea, and don’t look in her office because what you find may astound you. She currently has twenty tins of tealeaves just waiting to be brewed for her drinking pleasure. She is bilingual, lives in one of the original thirteen colonies, and is a lover of the cold weather and snow. It’s a safe bet that you may find her on the beach in the autumn and winter, but rarely in the summer. She’s been married for over thirty years to a loving man who puts up with her obsession to clean—she currently owns three vacuum cleaners—, read, and spin a tale when the voices speak to her. When she’s not in front of the computer, search her out in the local gym.

Lila Leigh Hunter on Family Questioning and her States of Love Story ‘Dating in Retrospect’ (author interview, excerpt and giveaway)

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Dating in Retrospect (States of Love) by Lila Leigh Hunter
Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase

Release Date: February 15, 2017

Pre-Order Links

Dreamspinner | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Nook | Kobo

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have one of our own in the author’s chair talking about their latest novel and answering our questions on writing.  Hi, Lila!

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Family Questioning

Hi, guys! I’m Lila and I have been part of the Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words family for a little over a year. I love to write stories for all of you, but reading is my first love. I have been lucky enough to find a great place to share that love with other readers. Today, though, I’m here as an author. My States of Love novella, Dating in Retrospect, comes out tomorrow.  And it’s time for me to sit on the hot chair and answers the author’s interrogation. Sorry, fun and friendly questions.

How much of yourself goes into a character?

  • This time, more of my husband and his friends are weaved into my characters. The story is set in Southeastern Iowa were he’s from. So, small details like wearing ballcaps instead of cowboy hats and watching the four of July fireworks from a parking lot are part of my story.

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

  • No, I do my research after I select the genre I’m going to write. I prefer to write contemporary romances, but I have some alternate historical fantasies. In the next couple of years, I’m hoping to work on several full fantasy stories, but I’d need the time to build the worlds and everything that goes with it.

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

  • I started reading romances about four years ago. Before that, I read mostly literary fiction and autobiographies. I really enjoy learning about others’ lives. It’s interesting to see the world trough others’ experiences.

How do you feel about the e-book format and where do you see it going?

  • I’m a fan of e-books. They have allowed me to read over two hundred books a year, something I couldn’t afford when buying paperbacks. I still love the smell of new books, but I buy e-books almost every day. The best part, I don’t have to leave the house to do it.

How do you choose your covers? 

  • I designed all the covers for my indie stories. I prefer to use one of the main characters as the main focus. I try to think of ideas beforehand, but most times, I simply look around stock photos until I find the right one. Then, I just play with the fonts until I get it right. For my trad published stories, I send all the relevant information to the cover artist and we work together to get the right cover after they presented me with some rough drafts.

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

  • My favorite story is tentatively called Prescribed Discipline. It’s not out yet, but I wrote it in 2015. It’s my favorite because the character are the oldest ones I have work with so far. One is in his late forties and the other on his fifties. I love to give HEA to men that were not able to be themselves in their youth.

What’s next for you as an author?

  • I’m currently revising one of my BDSM stories and writing the follow up book to Tow Trucks & New Year’s Kisses. After that, I’m stepping out of my comfort zone and working on a FF short story and a het speculative story. But don’t worry, there’s plenty of men coming your way.

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Book Blurb

Giving the commencement speech at his alma mater doesn’t fit Clay Keller’s meticulous schedule. As Chief Executive Officer of Travel Mogul—the largest travel connoisseur company on the West Coast—he has no time to get back in touch with his country roots. He left fifteen years ago without a second look, but a medical scare makes him change his mind about the speech and brings him face-to-face with his only regret.

Time always moves slower in Southeastern Iowa, and Aaron Grant loves it. He’s added solar farms to the Grant Lanes portfolio and has been teaching at the local university for a decade. The last thing he needs is to have his tenure application compromised by the return of his ex-boyfriend. If he had known who the commencement speaker would be, he would never have volunteered to be the administration liaison.

A proposal—to date for a year—will help them discover that time changes a person, even when everything else stays the same.

Category: Romance
Genre: Contemporary
Sex Content: Explicit
Pairing: MM
Orientation: Bisexual
Identity: Cisgender
Length: Novella-Words: 38,800
Pages: 101

Excerpt

Excerpt

©2017 Lila Leigh Hunter

All Rights Reserved

Clay—May ’15

Back to the future and all of that were Clay’s first thoughts as he stepped out of the car. The campus looked the same—Midwest Americana at its best. Redbrick buildings and perfectly pruned trees surrounded him, but as if the last fifteen years hadn’t happened, Clay’s world narrowed to the man waiting at the top of the portico stairs. The only thing time had changed? Them.

“Here’s your receipt, Mr. Keller,” the valet said, interrupting Clay’s musings. He didn’t remember being as young as the valet. Mr. Keller was his father, but Clay didn’t feel like correcting the man’s error.

“Thank you.”

“Not a problem. The man in the light gray suit is Professor Grant. He will be your escort today.”

“Perfect,” Clay responded, smiling at the mention of having an escort at his service, especially one whose body he knew well. With a nod and a tip, Clay left the valet behind, turning his attention back to Professor Grant. Professor. Aaron had done it after all. Clay had never doubted it, even after Aaron decided to stay and work at his family’s farm instead of moving with him to LA. Now he needed to find out if he had a chance with Aaron. At least having him there, waiting for him, had to be a good sign. Today was his lucky day indeed. True, he hadn’t expected to see Aaron so soon. He had planned to stop by the farm after the commencement, but he was ready either way. Life had been rough lately, but having the opportunity to see Aaron again was worth coming back to the middle of Nowhere, Iowa.

He walked casually toward the man he’d left behind many summers ago—a man standing like a prizefighter, waiting for Clay to reach him. With only a couple of feet between them, Clay’s step faltered. Aaron didn’t seem happy to see him, more like he was ready to bolt before Clay got to him. Shaking his head and keeping his eyes on his prey, he closed the distance and extended his hand in greeting.

“Professor Grant, I believe you’re expecting me?” He hoped his smile would ease Aaron’s frown.

“That I am, Mr. Keller. As the university liaison, it is my pleasure to welcome you back to your alma mater and to convey the president’s and the board of trustees’ deepest regards.”

“How long did it take you to memorize that spiel? As far as I remember, you weren’t fond of formalities.” Neither of them let go of the other’s hand. Aaron’s touch, familiar and foreign, branded him in seconds.

“Ass.”

Aaron didn’t expect the hug that followed. As soon as their bodies touched, Aaron tensed, but Clay held him tighter.

“Relax, sunshine. It’s been a while.” Clay let Aaron go, but not before he rubbed his trimmed beard against Aaron’s clean-shaven face as he moved back.

Meet the Author

Lila Leigh Hunter is the pen name of a Puerto Rican author with a hyphenated surname. Born and raised on the island, Lila grew up making up stories her siblings pretended to like. But no matter what they say, as the youngest of six, she’s still their mom’s favorite. According to the dusty diplomas on her wall, she’s an architectural designer living in Southern Texas with her husband and four military brats.

She spends most of her free time writing homoerotic romances about middle-aged men finding happiness and the rest hiding from pesky house chores. When outside of her cave, she likes to observe people and try to guess their stories. Sometimes she wishes the voices in her head were real; going out with the boys in her books sounds like a plan made in heaven.

Social Media

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/ctHk41

Author’s Page: http://www.facebook.com/HunterRomances

Lila’s Cabana on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/groups/LilasBooks/

Facebook Profile: https://www.facebook.com/LilaLeighHunter

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Hunter_Romances

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lila_leigh/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/Hunter_Romances/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/HunterRomances

Website: http://lilaleighhunter.wordpress.com

Email: llhunter.romance@gmail.com

blog-tour-dates

Rafflecopter Giveaway
(February 9th to February 28th – Winner to be contacted March 1st)

Dating in Retrospect Giveaway

Its Tara Lain on Inspiration and her novel, Fire Balls (Balls to the Wall #2) by Tara Lain (guest post)

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Fire Balls (Balls to the Wall #2) by Tara Lain
D
reamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Reese Dante

Available for Purchase at

       

Plus iBooks

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 Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Tara Lain here today.  Welcome, Tara.  Tell us more about Fire Balls and your series!

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Book Ideas are a Ball!

Hi everyone. I am so happy to be visiting Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words and celebrating the re-release of my book, Fire Balls. Where do the stories come from? That’s one of the questions all writers get asked a lot. I used to wonder that too. I’m a non-fiction writer by long-time profession and for years people would say I should write a book. That sounded like work!  LOL. Then I discovered LGBT romance and loved it so much I wrote my first novel, a book called Genetic Attraction, based on the genetic research of a company I knew from my day job.

What I discovered writing that first book is that creating fiction is like sex. The more you have the more you want! Once I turned on the story spigot it just kept running and everything I see and person I meet has book potential (yes, be afraid!). For example, I have lived in or near a beautiful beach town in California. It’s famous for its art festivals. Bingo. What if my hero was one of the people who poses as a nude statue in the famous Pageant of the Masters? And what if my other hero was a hunky alpha male who’s gay but in the closet. That’s was the idea for the best-selling summer romance, Volley Balls.

In Volley Balls, I created a memorable character named Rodney who was my hero’s best friend. He was an unlikely hero himself–short and flamboyant —  but he wanted his own book. That’s how I got to bring you my beach romance, Fire Balls. Actually, the title came first. People told me they loved the title Volley Balls and I was thinking of “Balls” titles. When I thought of the name Fire Balls a whole story started to form. What if my hero, Rodney, was a great artist who has a passion for a firefighter but can’t imagine that the man could ever care for him, the short and weird? So when his good friend, the handsome surfer Jerry, develops an unexpected crush on the firefighter, Rodney helps Jerry woo the guy, breaking his own heart. The story is loosely based on the famous book, Cyrano de Bergerac. Very loosely!

See, stories do come from everywhere. I have a whole series called The Pennymaker Tales that pay homage to fairy tales. The third book in the Balls to the Wall series, Beach Balls, is based on an actual environmental dispute that took place a few years ago in Newport Beach California. When a friend told me about it I thought what if two guys fell in love and then found themselves on opposite sides of that case. I also included in the story the passion for rebreather diving of one of my best friends. The story of Knight of Ocean Avenue, my most popular novel, came from me watching the construction workers renovating my house and wondering if any of them were gay. LOL. The stories are all around us – we only have to pay attention and take notes!

I hope you enjoy Fire Balls!

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Excerpt: FIRE BALLS by Tara Lain; The Artist and the Firefighter

Renowned artist Rodney Mansfield stands five foot six, has pink hair, six earrings, a black belt in karate—and a desperate yearning for firefighter Hunter Fallon. But Rod, the Runtback of Notre Dame, knows he’ll never land the beautiful “straight gay” guy, so Rod musters his altruism and helps his more masculine friend Jerry attract Hunter. As if a broken heart wasn’t enough, Rod saves Hunter from a firehouse homophobe—humiliating Hunter in front of his dad!

Hunter lives a dream life—his father’s dream. While he’d like to teach literature in college, read poetry in the sun, and find a strong guy to top him, he fights fires for his dad. Hunter hates flamboyant guys like Rodney. So why can’t he resist him? Maybe it’s time to admit this is one flame he has no desire to put out.

He leaned back on the couch. “Anyway, he’s dreamy, straight-up divine. Sweet and nice and smart. Shit, man, have you ever seen anything so beautiful?”

Too much. Rod got up and went back to the easel. At least he didn’t have to stare into Jerry’s smitten face. Crap, he wanted to be happy for the guy. He really did. “He’s beautiful, all right.”

“And guess what? He asked about you.”

No breath. “He, uh, did?”

“Yeah. Said you were so talented. See, I told you not to leave.”

“Didn’t want to be a third wheel.”

“Hey, my man, you’re my brother from another mother. What I got, you got. So I’m going on another date with him, and he loves to read and shit. Could you tell me some stuff to talk about?”

Oh dear God. “So what have you read, Jerry?”

He looked at his hands. “I, uh, read a few romance novels.”

“I think it’s okay to talk about those, but you have to know some other writers too. So think. What did you read in high school?”

“Comic books.”

“Graphic novels?”

“Yeah. Man, I love Watchmen and X-Men and Batman.”

“Comic books.” He walked over to a bookshelf he kept tucked away in the corner of the studio. When he rested on the couch, he loved to read himself to sleep. “Have you ever heard of Lord Byron?”

Jerry shook his head. “Sounds like a rock star.”

“He kind of was for his time. He was a poet.” He took out a slim volume and began to read from Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage. “Roll on, thou deep and dark blue ocean—roll! Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain; man marks the earth with ruin—his control stops with the shore.” When he got to “unknelled, uncoffined, and unknown” he looked up.

Jerry’s big blue eyes shone with tears. “Hey, man, that’s awesome. Probably not a surfer, I guess. All the ‘thees’ and ‘thous’ sound kind of old. But that dude knew what a surfer feels, man. We ride on top of the—what did he call it?—deep and dark blue ocean. And we know we can sink and never be heard from again, man. Axed. It’s how we want to go if we gotta.”

He had to stop underestimating this man. Rod walked over to the couch and handed the book to Jerry. “Just be yourself. He’s got to love you.”

“Wow, thanks. But I’ll read this, man. Every word, or at least the words I understand, okay?”

He smiled. “Okay.”

“I sure do like the way you read it, though.”

Rod laughed, took back the book, and began to read.

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About the Author

Tara Lain writes the Beautiful Boys of Romance in LGBT erotic romance novels that star her unique, charismatic heroes. Her first novel was published in January of 2011 and she’s now somewhere around book 35. Her best-selling novels have garnered awards for Best Series, Best Contemporary Romance, Best Paranormal Romance, Best Ménage, Best LGBT Romance, Best Gay Characters, and Tara has been named Best Writer of the Year in the LRC Awards. In her other job, Tara owns an advertising and public relations firm. She often does workshops on both author promotion and writing craft.  She lives with her soul-mate husband and her soul-mate dog near the sea in California where she sets a lot of her books.  Passionate about diversity, justice, and new experiences, Tara says on her tombstone it will say “Yes”!

Website:              http://www.taralain.com

Blog: http://www.taralain.com/blog

Goodreads:        http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4541791.Tara_Lain

Twitter:               http://twitter.com/taralain

FB Page: http://www.facebook.com/taralain

Its Writing, Research and Their Latest Release ‘Letters from Cupid’ by Ari McKay (author interview)

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Letters from Cupid by Ari McKay
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reamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Bree Archer

Available for Purchase at

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host McKay of the writing duo known as Ari McKay here today to talk about their latest release Letters from Cupid.  Welcome, McKay!

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Hi, I’m the McKay half of Ari McKay! I’d like to thank Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for giving me the opportunity to be a guest blogger today. Ari and I are currently celebrating the release of our Valentine’s Day story, Letters from Cupid, from Dreamspinner Press.

I loved the questions that Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words provided, so I’m going to answer some of those!

How much of yourself goes into a character?

I think it’s safe to say there’s always a little bit of Ari and me in the characters we write. In Letters from Cupid, I wrote Macon, who is a tenured professor in creative writing. I was going to say that Macon isn’t the character who is closest to me out of all our books, but now that I’m thinking about it, he’s pretty close! We’re both academics and creative writers who are introverted, single, and over forty. There’s one scene in which I shamelessly channeled my own opinion through him, and that’s when I let Macon go on a little rant about administration bloat. I could have easily let that rant go on for a good page or more because I have Opinions. I will say his view on faculty meetings and departmental parties isn’t that far from mine either. 😉

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. I think what makes a character a Mary Sue/Gary Stu is their lack of flaws. Everyone loves them, and every obstacle is easily overcome because of their intelligence/super powers/whatever. There’s no real character growth because the character is already “perfect”, and there’s no real conflict.

To me, that’s very different from using your own experiences to create a character. For example, I used a lot of my experiences in academia to create Macon, but I wouldn’t consider him a Gary Stu because he’s an imperfect character, and forcing himself to emerge from his introvert bubble in order to help Derek changes him over the course of the story.

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

Ari and I both enjoy doing research. We’re both history buffs, and when we write historical books, we like to make sure we’re getting the details right. So having to do research doesn’t deter us from writing in a particular genre. We enjoy world-building as well, so for us, it comes down to asking “How hard is this plot bunny gnawing on our ankles?” rather than “Do we want to tackle research/world-building?”. If we feel strongly enough about a particular story, we’ll write it, regardless of genre.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

HEA! I think Ari would agree with me when I say we have enough problems, stress, and things out of our control in our real lives that we like being able to fix things for our characters. Writing HEA romances is a form of escapism for us. We may put our characters through the angst mill, but we’ll make it up to them by the end every time.

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

I know there are a lot of print purists, and I like the weight of a real book in my hand as much as the next bookworm, but I think ebooks have their advantages as well. I like that I’ve got an extensive library on my phone as well as on my bookshelves. I used to carry a book everywhere, but now I whip out my phone to read while I’m waiting at the doctor’s office.

I think, too, that the rise of ebooks has been beneficial to writers. There are now other avenues for getting published than the traditional publishing houses, and I think having those choices is beneficial for the authors and readers.

There are drawbacks as well. We’ve seen some indie publishers go under in the last year, but I’m inclined to attribute some of that to less than stellar management. Amazon has the potential to saturate the market with self-published works that haven’t known the touch of an editor’s hand.

I think overall, the ebooks market is going to thrive, and it’s not going to spell the end of the print book market because there are plenty of people – myself included – who like reading words on a page instead of a screen sometimes. I think there’s room in the world for both.

What’s next for you as an author?

Right now, we’re finishing up a revision of Fortune’s Slings and Cupid’s Arrows, which is a 2nd edition story that will be released by Dreamspinner Press in September. After that, we’ve got a to-do list lined up: the first book in a new light contemporary series, a new Herc’s Mercs book, and another book for Dreamspinner’s Dreamspun line. We’re never at a loss for something to write! Our main problem is time. Too many plot bunnies, too little time.

Thanks again to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for hosting us on our blog tour!

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About Letters from Cupid

After breaking up with his partner, English professor Dr. Derek Chandler feels like a failure who will never win at romance. His aloof colleague, Dr. Macon Pinney, disagrees and pens an anonymous note of encouragement to Derek, which he signs “Cupid.” Thus begins an exchange of correspondence, a courtship through words where the two men find out they have a great deal in common. Meanwhile, Derek reaches out to Macon, not knowing Macon is his anonymous pen pal. Derek reveals through his letters that someone close by has piqued his interest. Could he mean Macon—or has Macon missed his opportunity and lost Derek to another man?

Perhaps the time has come for Cupid to put in an appearance, and when better to do so than Valentine’s Day?

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About the Authors

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.

CONTACTS:

Dev Bentham On Hot Men, Dull Jobs and her new Story ‘Buyout – A Love Story’ (guest blog by Dev Bentham)

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Buyout – A Love Story by Dev Bentham
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reamspinner Press

Cover Artist: Catt Ford

Buy Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kobo

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 Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Dev Bentham here today to talk about writing and Buyout – A Love Story.

Welcome, Dev!

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Hot men, boring jobs by Dev Bentham

I often first meet a character through his employment. That isn’t all that surprising for someone who has had a lot of jobs in her life. Except that you’d think a writer who conceptualized characters through their work would fill her books with men in really interesting occupations. I do have a few protagonists with cool jobs (like my Antarctic diver in August Ice). But mostly my books are about regular guys who are teachers, cooks, farmers, veterinarians, yoga teachers—you get the idea. No dentists or plumbers yet, but who knows what the future will bring.

I like the challenge of inviting readers to fall in love with men who aren’t characteristically dreamy romantic heros. For example, in Buyout—A Love Story, my narrator is a burned-out finance guy in his mid-30s and the man of his dreams is the proprietor of a struggling hotel. Neither of them are Mr. Darcy types. Which I think is what I love about them.

Because, while we spend a lot of our time working, our jobs don’t have much to do with our innate attractiveness, worthiness or ability to love. I’ve known some distinctly un-hot firemen and cowboys or have been bowled over by a janitor or the guy behind the counter at a fast food restaurant. Traditional romance stories don’t prepare us for finding that perfect someone where we least expect them—right in the middle of our everyday lives. I like to think that anyone can be a romantic hero, no matter what he (or she) does to pay the rent.

My quirkiest job was counting ants for the Forest Service. Forty hours a week bent over a microscope, sorting dead ants by species and counting—1, 2, 3 …a million. I don’t think that job said anything about my attractiveness (or at least I hope it didn’t), but the ants—they kind of grow on you after a while.

So how about you—got any great work stories??

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Blurb:

Everyone deserves a second chance. Or do they? Sean and Martim fell in love at Harvard. Things broke apart when Martim fell into a downward spiral of addiction after his father died. Sean kicked him out but has regretted it ever since. He’s never gotten over losing Martim. But then, not many aspects of his life have lived up to his collegiate dreams.

When he’s sent to evaluate Martim’s family hotel for foreclosure, Sean is once again in the position to put Martim out on the street. In the time since they parted, Martim has pulled himself together, although both health and financial problems linger as a result of his years as an addict. Can the two men bridge the gap of distance and time to rekindle their relationship, or will they fall apart again under the burdens of guilt and disease? 

Set in Lisbon, Portugal, this is the story of lovers reunited after more than a decade apart, and their second chance at romance.

Here’s a taste:

He wore jeans and a black turtleneck, and with one finger held a sleek leather jacket slung over his shoulder. Looking at him was enough to make a man break out in a cold sweat.

He leaned against the doorway. “Stop working, Sean. The sun is out. Let me show you the sights. Then you’ll know why people want to come here.”

My first thought was that I was looking at it. But of course, even Martim in his most promiscuous days couldn’t have satisfied all the tourists.

I shook my head. “I’ve been to Lisbon before. Remember?”

“I remember.” He let it hang. After a moment he rubbed his hands together. “Okay. I have a new plan. I’ll take you someplace we did not go to back then.”

I couldn’t help but smile a little at his enthusiasm. It was so much like the old Martim, the one I knew before he fell apart.

He raised one eyebrow. “Come on, Sean. I promise I won’t bite.”

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About the Author

Dev Bentham has lived in way too many places and had far too many jobs. She’s finally settled in frozen northern Wisconsin where she teaches online and draws on her former lives to write love stories about mature men searching for true love. Her restless feet take her globetrotting whenever she gets the chance, but most of the time she’s tucked up in her office in the woods dreaming about romance and adventure.

She’s the author of many gay romances, including a DABWAHA finalist, a Rainbow Award Honorable Mention and a Rainbow Awards Finalist.

Website: http://www.devbentham.com

Twitter @DevBentham

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/dev.bentham

E-mail: DevBentham@yahoo.com

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