One Pulse Anthology and a Interview with Jon Keys, author of A Single Night

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one-pulse-anthology

One Pulse (A Dreamspinner Press Anthology)

Release Date September 17
Purchase Links

Stories drive life. Sometimes life is good; sometimes life is bad. But it’s the nature of our community that in the aftermath of an act of hatred, we respond with love. Because darkness cannot exist in the presence of light. Cruelty cannot stand against compassion. Negativity will never overcome hope.

To show our support for those affected by the Orlando shooting, our authors, editors, artists, and staff have volunteered their talents to create this anthology. All proceeds will be donated to LGBT organizations in central Florida. Join us as we celebrate the triumph of love over every obstacle.

Jon Keys—A Single Night
Alicia Nordwell—About Best Friends & Boyfriends
Mickie B. Ashling—Adíos
M.T. Aspen —Asking for Trouble
M.A. Church—Chasing Tyme
Caitlin Ricci—Coming Out
George Seaton—Cucurrucucú
Jayce Ellis—Dance
Bree Cariad—Everyday Miracles
Chrissy Munder—Everything I Need
Ellis Carrington—For the First Time
Felicitas Ivey—Get Me to the Church Town Hall on Time
John Amory—Happy Pride
Grace R. Duncan—Hope
John Goode—Let Them Eat Cake
J. C. Long—Magical Boys Just Wanna Have Fun
Elizabeth Noble—Magicicada
Renee Stevens—More Than a Pact
Troy Storm—One Big Happy… Bunch
Connie Bailey—One Heart at a Time
Dev Bentham—Perfection
Andrea Speed—Pride
Laura Lascarso—Pull
Lila Leigh Hunter—Raffled Kiss
Emery C. Walters—Ranch Dressing
C.C. Dado—Read My Lips
Sera Kane—The Stag’s Bane
KC Burn—The Tithe
Vicktor Alexander—The Wooing of the Marqués de Sierra de Outes
Edmond Manning—They Danced

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is proud to help host Dreamspinner Press’s release week for its One Pulse Anthology, a collection of stories written in the aftermath of the horror of the shootings in Orlando.  Here today, is Jon Keys, author of the wonderful Obsidian series and the story, A Single Night. Welcome, Jon, to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words.

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A Single Night by Jon Keys from the One Pulse Anthology

Interview

  • Where do you normally draw your inspiration for a book from?  A memory, a myth, a place or journey, or something far more personal?Good question! For me it can be from almost anything: a random comment; a location I’ve never been to before, or a familiar one I revisit. I’ve written a few stories based on fairy tales. Many of the contemporary novels begin as a “what if” story. For example, a novel I’m writing now is built from the question of what would happen if a college professor fell for his mechanic. From there I’ve added twists and turns to take it beyond the obvious.
  • Are you a planner or a pantzer when writing a story? And  why?Both. I start out planning the important elements of the novel. Lately I’ve been mapping stories out to get their flow. But once I begin writing, all kinds of twists and turns happen that I hadn’t foreseen. When they do I usually let them run their course.
  • Contemporary, supernatural, fantasy, or science fiction narratives or something else?  Does any genre draw you more than another when writing it or reading it and why does it do so?Well the reading side is easier, so lets start there. Science fiction and fantasy are big time favorites. I enjoy the peek at another world or another time. All of those situations appeal to me as a reader. So far as other genre that are in the mix; some murder mysteries will fall in from time to time. I enjoy solving the puzzles and figuring out the who done it. Contemporary is also in the combination. Nothing scratches an itch sometimes quite like a good love story. But even then I want to know about their life, where they live and other background. I guess that element comes through on both my reading and writing. I want them to have a feeling of place.Writing follows some of the same lines of thought, but the emphasis has been different. Most of my writing has focused around contemporary, or at least the first handful of stories was firmly rooted in the here and now. They also had a strong rural/cowboy flavor to them.  But over the last several stories the focus is on fantasy. Whether it was the retelling of a classic fairy tale or the worlds of high fantasy, I’ve found writing these created worlds very satisfying. I love creating worlds and the animals and people who populate them. But in my next novel set to be released early in 2017 I’m back firmly in the contemporary world, telling cowboy stories again. I seem to have somewhat of a split writing personality!
  • If you had a character you’ve written you would write differently now at this time in your writing career, who would it be and why?The characters I’d probably want most to redo would be some of the antagonists, particularly Peter’s ex from Home Grown. He’d be much more multilayered now, more ominous. Yeah, he would be the character I could change more than most others.
  • Can an author have favorites among their characters and do you have them?Sure! I think authors can definitely have favorites. Some characters come out with so much personality and personal growth that you can’t help but cheer them on and want them to win. Terja from Obsidian Sun was one of those. He grew and changed so much through the course of the books.
  • If you were to be stranded on a small demi-planet, island, or god forbid LaGuardia in a snowstorm, what books would you take to read or authors on your comfort list?Oh jeez, I always go back to these later and can think of a dozen more. My test of a good read is how many times I’ve reread them. Some authors who have made it on my reread list: Anne McCaffrey’s Pern, Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar world, Allen Dean Foster, and for humor I love Robert Aspirin; the MYTH series, Phule’s Company and the Dragon Series. Yeah, that would be the short list, at least for now.
  • How early in your life did you begin writing?.I’m not one of the child prodigies I’m afraid. I never considered writing until a few years ago and I thought, “I can do that” and gave it a try. Now? Well it’s become quite an addiction for me.
  • Were you an early reader or were you read to and what childhood books had an impact on you as a child that you remember to this day and why?I read a lot of books, but don’t remember too many of the early ones. Actually the oldest book that I remember was Mother Goose. I had people read that book to me until I could ‘read’ the book out loud. Oddly enough the novel I remember from elementary school was Farmer Boy and yes, I was an adult before I realized it was part of the Little House on the Prairie series. But I could identify with Alfonzo. Later I found more science fiction and fantasy books. Of course I had the classic collection of all the comic books I could afford. I’d never heard of a graphic novel in those days.
  • If you were writing your life as a romance novel, what would the title be?Oh wow, hard question. I agonize over titles. I really like for them to work on a number of levels. Maybe “Here we go again.”

Blurb:

The aftermath of tragedy calls for more than just physical healing, but Devon and Logan may find it with family—and with each other.

Author Bio

Jon Keys’ earliest memories revolve around books; with the first ones he can recall reading himself being “The Warlord of Mars” and anything with Tarzan. (The local library wasn’t particularly up to date.) But as puberty set in he started sneaking his mother’s romance magazines and added the world of romance and erotica to his mix of science fiction, fantasy, Native American, westerns and comic books.

A voracious reader for almost half a century, Jon has only recently begun creating his own flights of fiction for the entertainment of others. Born in the Southwest and now living in the Midwest, Jon has worked as a ranch hand, teacher, computer tech, roughneck, designer, retail clerk, welder, artist, and, yes, pool boy; with interests ranging from kayaking and hunting to painting and cooking, he draws from a wide range of life experiences to create written works that draw the reader in and wrap them in a good story.

Buy links:

eBook: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/one-pulse-7577-b

Social Media:

Excerpt:

Logan couldn’t help but notice Devon’s limp was more pronounced than normal. The wear and tear on his husband was visible tonight when Devon grabbed the back of the sofa. His fingers dug into the thick padding as he sighed.

“Sit down, please. I’ll call Michelle and Doug and reschedule. They’ll understand,” Logan said.

“I’m fine. Watch.” Devon winked at Logan, then vaulted over the back of the heavy piece of furniture to land with a bounce on the dense cushions.

A slight rattle and a stifled groan of pain made Logan cringe. “Would you behave, Devon! You’ll mess something up.”

Devon wrapped his meaty arms around Logan and worked to pull him on top. But Logan grabbed his face and planted a kiss on his forehead.

“Knock it off. It’s your sister who’s on her way,” Logan said.

But Devon ignored the protest, pulled Logan close, and pressed their lips together. The tingle in the pit of Logan’s stomach was the same he’d gotten the night they met. In the years since, it had only gotten stronger. Logan took a deep breath and filled his senses with Devon’s masculine scent, letting himself melt against the muscular chest and feel safe. His thoughts became fuzzy and his crotch tight as their closeness sent delicious jolts through Logan. He realized this wasn’t going like it should when they had guests arriving. Logan pushed away, wet his lips, and grinned.

“I have to cook supper before they get here. Go change into something comfortable. And hang up your dress clothes, because I’m the one who has to iron your crap.”

When Devon made an attempt to stand and his breath hissed through his teeth. Logan stepped over to help, but Devon waved him away. “When I can’t get my fat ass off the sofa, I’ll let you know.”

Logan rolled his eyes but stepped back. The effort took several tries before Devon stood. He shot Logan a wink and a smile. “See, told you I didn’t need help.”

Logan’s lips formed a tight line, and he started toward the kitchen. “You’re a stubborn jackass. Now go change.” He pulled out ingredients for dinner and within a few minutes had food strewn across the counters. He had the ingredients for the first course ready when Devon reappeared, still wearing his clothes from work.

“What do you want me to do?” Devon asked.

Logan glanced over and sighed. “Just once you could listen. Sit. Rest. They’ll want to play games until late.”

“I’ll help. I can make a pasta dish.”

Logan studied him for a minute before lifting an eyebrow. “Yeah, pasta would be good. What did you have in mind?”

Devon smirked as he made his way to the refrigerator while Logan worked on getting the entrée ready. He was preparing steaks and fresh vegetables from their garden for grilling. Logan spread them over two trays, seasoned them, and then coated everything with good olive oil they’d discovered on their trip to Italy. It was one of the little indulgences they allowed themselves. Devon was still working his way through the contents of the fridge when Logan stepped out onto their patio to get the grill ready.

While it heated, he looked around the yard and enjoyed the spring flowers he and Devon cared for with meticulous attention. They’d remodeled the deck last year and put in a Jacuzzi. He’d paid for it as part of Devon’s fortieth birthday gift. But he’d also hoped it would help keep the scar tissue on Devon’s leg a little more flexible. Whether it did or didn’t, they enjoyed having the little oasis to escape into each evening. Devon’s job as a victims’ advocate became stressful at times, and Logan wanted him to have a place to unwind.

Logan turned his attention to the barbecue, decided everything was fine, and slipped into the house. He glanced over at Devon and froze. A second later, he started laughing.

Devon turned to him and lifted an eyebrow. “Something wrong?”

“Nope. Not at all. I was just wondering if you’d left anything in the fridge.”

“You questioning my ability to make pasta salad?”

Logan held up both hands in surrender. “No, no. Nothing like that.”

Devon turned to his cutting board and diced peppers with the chef knife Logan bought him last Christmas. The mix of ingredients was unique, but Devon seemed satisfied with his hoard, so Logan didn’t care. No one’s crying, no one’s bleeding, then it isn’t a big deal. They worked together in the kitchen with practiced ease. Logan decided to make shot glass desserts for a treat. Devon was putting his salad in the fridge as Logan sprinkled pecans into the last dessert glass.

Devon was up to something; he was smirking too much over making pasta salad. Logan waited a minute before checking to see what was happening. He wasn’t surprised to discover the source of Devon’s amusement about the dish he’d made.

He frowned at the penis-shaped pasta filling the bowl. “Really? Another porn pasta creation? And for your sister?”

By this time Devon was cackling. “She’ll think it’s great, and Doug will turn a nice shade of red. It’ll all be good.”

Logan sighed and glanced at his watch. “Fine, keep your cock pasta. Your sister will be here soon. We need to shower.” He looked at Devon and lifted one brow. “And taking off your tie doesn’t mean you got relaxed.” Logan stood with an expression he hoped looked appropriately stern.

“If you ask me if I need help, I swear I’ll beat you with a wet noodle.”

Logan chuckled and waved him away. “Go shower. I’ll set the table. If you behave, I’ll come wash your back.”

“If you put out later, maybe I’ll let you,” Devon said with a laugh.

Review: Spice ‘n’ Solace (Galactic Alliance #1) by KC Burn

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Rating: 4.5 stars

Kaz Deinos knows what it feels to be an outsider, he’s been one all his life.  When his family cast him out at an early age due to his sexuality, he lived in the marginal sections of the space station making his living any way he could.  Now he is the owner of one of the only male oriented brothels on the station and he has worked hard to make sure the sex workers in his brothel are taken care of, paid well and never harassed by any client.  It has made him wealthy and his workers some of the most sought after by people of every station, including the most influential and important government figures.  But lately someone is trying to sabotage his business.  There have been rumors of illness at his place and several of his workers  have been ambushed and hurt.  When his business is placed in isolation due to another rumored sickness, Kaz must figure out what to do when his most famous client  has requested a escort for the evening and none can leave the brothel.

Jathan One Moon is one of the galaxies most famous negotiator as was his father before him.  His father negotiated the treaty that ended the war between the Ankylos and the human race.  A treaty that has to be renegotiated once a year, this time by him.  In addition to the treaty, Jathan One Moon is under pressure to  marry and have an heir to take over from him later in life.  But Jathan is gay and not inclined to satisfy the demands he marry.  Instead he is looking to ease some of his tension by a visit from escort from the brothel owned by Kaz Deinos.  While  Jathan has never met the man, his escorts are the best in the business and he is looking forward to this evening.

When Kaz goes over to Jathan’s suite to let him know that there will be a delay for an escort, he is mistaken for one by Jathan himself.  Kaz takes one look at Jathan One Moon and does something he has never done before, substitutes himself in his escorts place.  One night of passion turns into a week as the negotiations continue.  And both men are wondering how they are going to deal with being separated at the end, as their meetings are less and less about just a sexual connection and more about love.

I read and reviewed the second book in the series, Alien ‘n’ Outlaw, first and I am sorry I did that as the additional exposition you get here makes the second book much clearer, especially concerning the outbreak of the war between the races and why the mineral is so important to  Ankylos. Lesson learned.

That said, I enjoyed reading this book just as much as I did  Alien ‘n’ Outlaw.  Spice ‘n’ Solice introduces us to all the characters we meet in the second with one exception, and the author’s gift of giving the reader realistic characters and backgrounds continues here.  Kaz is beautiful and tough as he has had to be growning up in his religious, conservative family.  Only now is homosexuality being accepted on some of the more  traditional human outposts and Kaz has had to work hard to get his type of brothel and sex worker accepted and respected.  But we also get the idea that the isolation Kaz lives in it also a form of protection against emotional pain and the prospect of love.  Jathan One Moon is Kaz’s equal in everything but background and Burn is sure to make it obvious that their relationship may start off based in sex but deepens based on mental equality and mutual respect.  Yes, there is a huge secret between them, but Kaz is quick to understand that he must be honest with Jathan no matter the consequences.

The Ankylos, the two tiered  race,  is here as well.  I thought the idea of the worker bee/royalty set up intriguing as well as their hive mentality and communication.  And while there is nothing especially “outer spacey” about the space station, the descriptions of a huge city geared around hospitality and the ships that visit are well done.

As I said before, there is also something kind of goofy and endearing about this series.  I just like it and hope KC Burn intends to continue to give us  more installments.  I, for one, will be lined up to get them.

Spice ‘n’ Solice (Galactic Alliance #1)

Alien ‘n’ Outlaw (Galactic Alliance #2) read my review here.

Thanksgiving is Over, a Leftover Turkey Recipe and the Week Ahead in Reviews

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Thanksgiving is over, the leftovers have been divvied out to family and friends, and the thought of cooking at the moment leaves me a little numb. On top of everything, I ended up the next day in an emergency care after hours clinic for a fever, sore throat and massive ear aches. So yeah, there’s that too that seems to go with the holidays.

Still the memories of family and good times are warm even if the leftover turkey isn’t and it leaves me plenty of time to read, review and knit a scarf or two as presents for the nieces.  The cold weather here in Maryland is bitter, the bird feeders stocked to the brim, and the terriers are snug in their (meaning my) bed.  If you need some books to fill your eStockings, here are some I definitely recommend:

Monday 11/26:                                Mourning Heaven by Amy Lane

Tuesday 11/27:                                A Slice of Love (Taste of Love #4) by Andrew Grey

Wednesday 1128:                           Cherish (Faith, Love, & Devotion, #4) by Tere Michaels

Thursday 11/29:                              Spice ‘n’ Solice by KC Burn

Friday 11/30:                                   Black Magic by Megan Derr

Saturday 12/1                                   Holiday Stories

Dad’s Leftover Turkey Pot Pie (from allrecipes.com)

Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 50 Minutes
Ready In: 1 Hour 30 Minutes
Servings: 12

INGREDIENTS:
2 cups frozen peas and carrots
2 cups frozen green beans
1 cup sliced celery
2/3 cup butter
2/3 cup chopped onion
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
1 1/3 cups milk
4 cups cubed cooked turkey meat – light
and dark meat mixed
4 (9 inch) unbaked pie crusts
DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat an oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
2. Place the peas and carrots, green beans, and celery into a saucepan; cover with water, bring to a boil, and simmer over medium-low heat until the celery is tender, about 8 minutes. Drain the vegetables in a colander set in the sink, and set aside.
3. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, and cook the onion until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in 2/3 cup of flour, salt, black pepper, celery seed, onion powder, and Italian seasoning; slowly whisk in the chicken broth and milk until the mixture comes to a simmer and thickens. Remove from heat; stir the cooked vegetables and turkey meat into the filling until well combined.
4. Fit 2 pie crusts into the bottom of 2 9-inch pie dishes. Spoon half the filling into each pie crust, then top each pie with another crust. Pinch and roll the top and bottom crusts together at the edge of each pie to seal, and cut several small slits into the top of the pies with a sharp knife to release steam.
5. Bake in the preheated oven until the crusts are golden brown and the filling is bubbly, 30 to 35 minutes. If the crusts are browning too quickly, cover the pies with aluminum foil after about 15 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Review of Alien ‘n’ Outlaw by K. C. Burn

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Rating: 4.25 stars

R’kos is the youngest child of the Emperor of Ankylos and the most different.  Unlike his brothers and sisters, he has an adventurous nature and no desire to enter into the standard triad marriage of their species. As the time for his arranged marriage draws near, R’los commandeers a family shuttle and heads out into space, eventually landing on Elora Ki.  R’kos is in search of human male companionship.  Just their smell so intrigues R’kos that he ends up in a bar, sniffing each human who comes in.  But the Ankylos sense of smell is so acute that he can smell hate, fear, corruption along with kindness, love, lust and happiness.  So far, no one smell has agreed with him.  Until Darien enters asking the barkeep for help.

Darien Lancaster is the son of a wealthy industrialist.  His father shipped him off to become a miner when he found out that Darien was gay but  he escaped, traveling the galaxy under assumed names and trading illegally to make a living. Darien hates what his father’s businesses have done to people, including inflicting an incurable disease on miners.  To counteract his father’s actions, Darien has become something of a Robin Hood, stealing from the rich and buying goods for the poor and sick.  Now he owes money to an infamous drug dealer who is hunting him down. Just when he thinks he is cornered a hooded stranger comes to his rescue.  The stranger?  R ‘kos whom Darien calls Ricky.  It takes both their efforts to get off planet where Ricky  accompanies Darien on his trade routes.  Ricky is having the time of his life and Darien is coming to depend on Ricky for friendship and then so much more.  It’s not just passion they feel for each other but love.  Then Ricky is injured and Darien must contact the people  who  seek to lock him up. Darien will risk everything to save Ricky and he must convince Ricky’s father and the Alliance that Ricky was not kidnapped, a crime which could send Darien to prison for the rest of his life.

I will admit that R’kos and I got off to a shaky start.  I mean really, a lavender Mr. Clean? With purple eyes and a nose in overdrive? And yes, there’s that misunderstood thief with a heart of gold, who just needs someone to love and believe in him.  Cliche territory seemed to surround me. And then, none of that mattered. Both R’kos ne Ricky and Darien got to me, I fell in love with both of them, found some really nice plot details  and ended up being swept away on the journey with them. *shakes head*.  Usually I go on about great characterization, or personas flatter than a frozen pancake but here I am just going to say I loved these two, not really sure why they captured my heart. I only know they did.  I cared for them despite his oddball coloring which was never completely explained or why a herbivore has a hive structure for their species.  Interesting details though they didn’t make sense to my naturalist mind.  Didn’t matter.  See what I mean?  I loved that big hairless Ricky who wanted more from life than any other Ankylos and went out to find it.  And ended up meeting Darien who is trying to make up for the pain and suffering his father inflicted on his brother and others. Darien is so alone that he captures both our understanding as well as compassion.  Loved him too.

I appreciated how Burn gave us an updated Robin Hood in space as well as a horrific reason that Darien chose to become an illegal trader.  The creation of a disease that so alters the human minors that they become gnarled twisted mindless beings called Chimera is horrific.  Black lung, asbestos, leprosy and more jumped immediately to mind.  Burn took those and then added even more symptoms to give us an interplanetary disease of nightmares. And then made it personal to Darien and the reader.  Great job.  Some science fiction stories only tweak one or two things, put it on a spaceship and expect it to be real science fiction.  No that does not make a story credible science fiction.  Give us world building, new species and make it seem realistic or possible.  And that definitely occurred here.  So believable that I am with Darien about living on Ankylos.  I felt his panic along with him.  It was just too alien, the complete lack of privacy unnerving and Darien knew he would not be able to adjust.  I found that credible too because I wouldn’t either.

To me, there is really only one substantial mistep.  KC Burns tells us of the big rift between the speciies over a mineral called Wolframite, in fact, the very lack of the mineral caused a protracted war between the Alliance (humans) and Ankylos with huge losses on both sides.  It is a major plot point in this story so imagine my astonishment upon finding out exactly what the wolframite was needed for.  I won’t tell you but to me it showed an amazing disregard to prior story elements, especially considering the  substantial impact on the characters and interspecies relations the war had and all for a throwaway bit of humor.   Why  that was not caught and pointed out to the author who hadn’t shown too many errors up until then I will never know.  Getting past that plot pothole, than my one last quibble is one of backstory.  Darien’s brother became a Chimera and Darien has been looking for him as he has travelled.  I would have liked more of that history. Perhaps KC Burns will give us a sequel and another journey for Darien and Ricky.  I would love a second visit to their universe.  But no more overly “cutsey” elements, they aren’t needed.  You have a good story, trust that to be enough.  So I do recommend this but let me know what you think.  Can you fall in love with characters just because? Either way, I hope to see these again.