An Alisa Release Day Review: Guarding His Melody (Enhanced World Standalone) by Victoria Sue

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Rating:  5 stars out of 5

Deaf since childhood, Sebastian Armitage had a promising musical future until his dreams were shattered when he transformed at twelve years old. In a world where enhanced humans are terrorized and imprisoned, his life shrinks around him even more as he suffers the torment of his father’s experimental research to enable him to hear.

Gray Darling—struggling with the scars left by his experience in Afghanistan—agrees to provide short-term personal protection when anonymous threats escalate into assault on those closest to Seb.

As the lines between protection and attraction blur, Gray and Seb can’t ignore the intense feelings drawing them together. But secrets and betrayals might prove deadly, unless Gray is willing to risk it all. And Seb must find the strength to make his own future and sing his own song….

I love this series so much!  This book doesn’t focus on the team but gives us a more in depth look into the lives of a civilian enhanced and how restrictive their lives may be.

Seb pretty much just exists, he loves playing music but his sickness and the continued surgeries and testing he goes through make his life almost unbearable.  Gray has been running from his past for a long time, taking care of Seb forces him to take a look and gives him a chance to move forward.  I missed seeing the guys but we get s short visit from them and see a hopefully future connection with these characters.

Gray is such a caring man, I love that he makes his protecting Seb into caring for him which is what Seb needs most, someone to put him first.  Seb is so innocent in many ways as he was sheltered by his upbringing and his father’s money but that didn’t mean he wasn’t completely immune to enhanced problems.  These two are wonderful together and give each other the courage to go forward and follow their dreams.  I felt for Seb and how much his father betrayed him, I was just glad he got what was coming in the end and it helped Seb that he knew he had Gray’s love and support.

I love the cover art by Jay Aheer it’s somewhat similar to the others in the series but many elements related to this story.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | B&N

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages

Published: September 25, 2018 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN-13: 978-1-64080-799-0

Edition Language: English

Series: Enhanced World

John Inman on Writing, Research, and his new release Nightfall (author interview and giveaway)

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Nightfall by John Inman

Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Tiferet Design

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host John Inman back again, talking about his latest release Nightfall. Welcome, John.

♦︎

~ Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with John Inman ~

Q.–Does research play a role in choosing what genre you write.
A.–Well, research certainly had a lot to do with writing NIGHTFALL.  One of the reasons I had never tried writing science fiction before was because I knew that to write about a scientific subject, you have to know a little bit about it. Even with science fiction where the plot may not be exactly realistic, you still have to have a basic knowledge of the real subject before you can start skewing the facts.  Even so, I’m sure I made a few factual goof-ups.  So if there are any scientists out there looking to read a gay romance, you might want to pick up SHY instead.  In that one, at least, I knew what the hell I was talking about.  Haha.
Q.–How do you choose your covers?
A.–I’m glad you brought up book covers, because I think the cover for NIGHTFALL is absolutely beautiful.  It was done by Anna Sikorska at Triferet Designs.  I love the colors, the panorama of the red sky, and the two characters in silhouette are perfect.  The way I choose a cover is just try to pick a moment from the story that will maybe translate visually.  I give the idea to the incredible artists at DSP, and they come up with a few choices for me to pick from.  I’ve been happy with all my book covers.  Some are memorable, some are just nice, but I really have liked them all.  I’ve often thought how hard it must be for writers who self-publish to find the artwork for their stories.  I’m so glad I have a publisher behind me to make that job so much easier.
Q.–Do you have a favorite among your own stories, and why?
A.–I think some of my best stories are SHY, THE HIKE, LOVING HECTOR (love the donut fight) and the Belladonna Arms series, all five of them.  But my absolute favorite is THE BOYS ON THE MOUNTAIN.  That’s the book that got me to New York City with a nomination for the Lambdas, and that’s the book I fought hardest to write while my lover at the time was dying of cancer and my business was going to pot.  Everything at that point in my life was falling apart except for that book.  It’s my longest novel and it took me a flat year to write it, but that’s the one I’m most proud of.  I know it’s horror, but I love it anyway.  Maybe just because it was so hard to finish.  But most definitely because of the Lambda nomination.  That meant everything to me.  Even losing didn’t hurt.  Getting there was the main thing.  A highpoint of my life.  And having my husband there with me made it even better.
Q.–Why do you write?
A.–That’s the $64,000 question, isn’t it.  I think I write just because it’s something I’ve always had to do.  It’s like a compulsion.  Even when I was a kid I was writing stories.  I don’t remember exactly, but maybe even with crayon, haha.   I’m happiest when I’m writing.  I love the solitude of it.  I like the fact that I can go anywhere I want and I can bring anybody in the whole wide world of imagination along with me when I go.  Some people talk about how they struggle to write.  Not because of the turmoil going on in their lives, but just the simple problem of putting down one word after another.  I get hungup sometimes in the middle of a story, but I never come to a screeching halt.  Knock on wood, not yet anyway.  I just plod along, move the story forward a little bit to get away from the problem area, and go back later to repair the damage.  Stopping is the worst thing a writer can do.  I think basically, the main reason I write is because I have never found anything else that makes me happier.
Q.– If you could imagine the best possible place for you to write where would that be, and why?
A.–I think the best place for me to write is right where I am right now.  I have my own office overlooking a birdbath and fir trees in the backyard.  I have the beautiful weather of Southern California shining down on the house.  I have a cat sleeping on either side of me.  I have total silence except for the sound of birds outside, and I have my husband piddling around in some other part of the house, humming to himself sometimes but always trying to be quiet about it.  I think if a writer is happy with himself inside, it doesn’t matter where he is physically when he tries to write.  The real story comes from the heart.  If he has peace and happiness there, then he’s got it made.  Nothing else should be a problem.
Q.: Any last words about your new release, NIGHTFALL?
A.: I just hope a decent percentage of the people who read it, enjoy it.  Book releases are always a little nervewracking.  A few reviews will hurt, a few others will make you feel good.  Then one day you get an email from some farm kid in Podunk, Arkansas, telling you how much your book meant to him, and all the other stuff is forgotten.
I want to take a minute to thank everyone at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for letting me spend a few minutes talking about my new book.   I hope NIGHTFALL finds a welcome home in a few laps and I hope everyone who gives it a chance will find a smile or a gasp here and there as they travel through the pages.
Keep reading, everybody!
John
_________

About Nightfall

Joe Chase and Ned Bowden are damaged men. They each bear scars from surviving the world they were born in. Deep scars, both physical and emotional.

When fate offers its first kind act by bringing the two together, suddenly their scars don’t seem so bad, and their lives don’t feel so empty.

Yet that kindness comes at a price.

Just as Joe and Ned begin to experience true happiness for the very first time, the world turns on them again.

But this time it turns on everyone.

_________

About the Author

John Inman is a Lambda Literary Award finalist and the author of over thirty novels, everything from outrageous comedies to tales of ghosts and monsters and heart stopping romances. John Inman has been writing fiction since he was old enough to hold a pencil. He and his partner live in beautiful San Diego, California. Together, they share a passion for theater, books, hiking and biking along the trails and canyons of San Diego or, if the mood strikes, simply kicking back with a beer and a movie.

John’s advice for anyone who wishes to be a writer? “Set time aside to write every day and do it. Don’t be afraid to share what you’ve written. Feedback is important. When a rejection slip comes in, just tear it up and try again. Keep mailing stuff out. Keep writing and rewriting and then rewrite one more time. Every minute of the struggle is worth it in the end, so don’t give up. Ever. Remember that publishers are a lot like lovers. Sometimes you have to look a long time to find the one that’s right for you.”

Giveaway

John has generously agreed to giveaway with this post, a book from his DSP backlist to whichever reader we choose.  So leave a comment for John, along with your email address should you be chosen.  And  may the force be with you!  Happy Reading!

An Ali Review: On Andross Station by J.C. Long

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Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Hikaru Adachi has come to Andross Station to discover what happened to colleague and fellow Inquisitor Katya. Thane, a tracer, has arrived at the station seeking a bounty on Galen Horn, one of the Unity of Planets’ most wanted men. They will find their paths cross as their interests intersect, and soon they are on a hunt that is more dangerous than they know, for Horn has enlisted some dangerous allies, including one from Thane’s past. If Thane and Hikaru together can’t bring Horn down, he will set in motion a plot that will see the entire station destroyed in an attack of massive proportions.

I thought the premise of this book sounded really good. It turned out to not really be what I was hoping for. It started off strong with the two main characters arriving at the plant , each for their own reasons, and having an immediate connection.

They quickly learn their missions overlap and they join forces to catch the bad guy. I liked the world this was set in and I thought the world building was pretty good. I was interested in it and in all of the different characters, human and alien. I also like both of the MC’s.

As it unfolded though there wasn’t much to it. The mystery plays out easily and there was no real tension or excitement. There was also very little done in regards to the romance between the two MC’s. I thought everything had a bunch of potential but fell flat. I would have loved to see this be a full length novel but as it is the book was just ok for me.

The cover was done by Natasha Snow and I think it’s really well done.  It’s eye catching and fits the story very well.
Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon
Book Details:
ebook
Published August 27th 2018 by NineStar Press
ISBN139781949340334
Edition LanguageEnglish

An Alisa Review: 2230: The Perfect Year by CM Corett

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

Alex Coulson spends his days as a lowly laboratory assistant. At night, he watches movies in his lonely apartment and dreams of exciting adventures and handsome leading men.

When an electrical fire breaks out in the lab, an experimental machine malfunctions and Alex is caught in the explosion. He awakens, injured and confused, to learn he has traveled two hundred years into the future—to the year 2230. Under the care of the gorgeous Doctor Baylin Davies (a definite contender for a leading man) Alex recovers quickly, and his feelings for Baylin deepen each day. Baylin is handsome, sexy, caring, and a verified genius—everything Alex could ever dream of. Add in the whole concept of living in the future, and Alex soon decides the year 2230 is the perfect year to begin his new life.

But then there’s the major…

Whenever the intimidating military man, Major Marcais, is near, a strange power overcomes Alex’s senses, clouding his mind and weakening his desire to be with Baylin.

When the major reveals he is an alien and declares Alex to be his life mate, Alex must find the strength to resist him. And while fighting for the man he truly desires, Alex just might discover he’s the leading man in his own adventure.

Accidental time travel, not something I usually read about but this sounded interesting and I went for it because I have enjoyed the author.  I liked how this wasn’t overly sci-fi but just enough to keep it interesting.  Alex and Baylin feel an instant attraction to each other and both try to navigate how a relationship would work especially if the High Order want to send Alex back to his time.  And Major, he is basically a jerk, he comes around just enough to make Alex off balance.

We get to see both Alex and Baylin struggle with their feelings and how they think they should approach them with each other.  I loved how adorable Alex is and is awkwardness is made to be just a cute quirk since he is so different than those around him.  Baylin still struggles with his confidence based on how some others treat him but Alex is determined to show him differently and he will need it to fight for what he wants.  I was very happy that Alex had the ability to stand up for what he wanted and didn’t have to go along with what the Major said.

Cover art by Natasha Snow is nice though doesn’t scream futuristic to me.

Sales Links: Nine Star Press | Amazon | B&N

Book Details:

ebook, 30,600 words

Published: August 6, 2018 by Nine Star Press

ISBN: 978-1-949340-37-2

Edition Language: English

Jayne Lockwood on Writing, Characters, and the new release ‘Euphoria’ (guest interview)

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Euphoria by Jayne Lockwood

DSP Publications

Cover Artist: Emmy@Studioenp.com

Sales Links:  DSP Publications  |   Amazon US  |   Amazon UK   |  Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Jayne Lockwood here today talking about writing, characters and the latest release from DSP Publications Euphoria.  Welcome, Jayne.

♦︎

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with author Jayne Lockwood

Very many thanks to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for hosting me on their blog. I love doing interviews because the questions can be quite challenging and sometimes I learn something about myself as a writer in the process!

How much of yourself goes into a character?

With my first books, they dealt with straight characters falling in love, and yes, there was a lot of me in the female characters of The Cloud Seeker and Closer Than Blood. I was finding my feet, writing what I knew. As I gained confidence and knowledge as a writer, I could diversify and make the characters their own people, without the safety blanket of basing them on people IKR. I have to add, none of the Savannah Smythe erotica novels are based on my life experience. It’s amazing how many times I get asked that *insert eye roll here*

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

I don’t really choose a genre, TBH. I write the story, and the genre begins to reveal itself eventually. I would never have sat down to write a science fiction book, but Euphoria turned into one. I think keeping within genre lines can inhibit you as a creative. Write the story, then see where it fits. The caveat to that is making sure you don’t fall into the trap of cultural appropriation. Choosing a certain group of people to write about comes with responsibility. Research is essential so you don’t fall into possibly racist or bigoted stereotyping. And with sci-fi, there are also rules. Whatever world you dream up has to feel real, with details based on scientific fact.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I am a big fan of the HEA but I won’t reject a book because there isn’t one. In some genres that just isn’t possible. In my books, there is always an HEA or HFN because I just don’t like writing untidy endings or cliffhangers.

If you write contemporary romance, is there such a thing as making a main character too “real”?  Do you think you can bring too many faults into a character that eventually it becomes too flawed to become a love interest?

I definitely think a character has to have some faults. If they’re perfect, they’re not relatable and could be irritating. If they are too repellent, you’ve lost the reader. If they’re a misogynistic bastard at the beginning and are still one at the end, the author has lost me as a reader. As a writer you have to make the reader fall in love. Just be aware of the genre you want your book to fall into. Romance readers won’t thank you if the hero has halitosis, hairy nostrils or a nose-picking habit. Choose your flaws wisely!

What traits do you find the most interesting in someone? Do you write them into your characters?

I find various traits interesting, but it depends on the story. A strong woman who isn’t a bitch or a ball-breaker, a philanthropist CEO. Everyone on the planet has something, one thing, that makes them unique (apart from DNA.) Hidden talents, a main character revealing their love of the cello, or a former life as a cat burglar, surprises like that are fun. Just don’t give them these things then do doing with them in the story. Have a key scene to showcase their uniqueness and beauty.

In Euphoria, I’ve given Kurt a love of watching ballet, and Tom talks tough but really he’s cotton candy inside. Even Vardam has a skill of getting what they want, using good manners and carefully chosen English.

Have you ever put a story away, thinking it just didn’t work?  Then years/months/whatever later inspiration struck and you loved it?  Is there a title we would recognize if that happened?

Closer Than Blood (M/F romantic suspense) was written between 1994 and 2015. The really observant will see the changes in the writing style between the old sections and the new, though I tried not to make it obvious. That book is a patchwork of old, new and a bit blue. Nothing borrowed though!

Ever drunk written a chapter and then read it the next day and still been happy with it?  Trust me there’s a whole world of us drunk writers dying to know.

I write sober because I rarely drink. I can imagine some interesting results though. Why wouldn’t you be happy with it if it fits the story? If not, at least it’s something to share with readers via a blog post so they can have a laugh out of it.

If you could imagine the best possible place for you to write, where would that be and why?

A mid-town Manhattan apartment with easy access to a deli would be nice. Or a beach hut by the sea, somewhere like Aldeburgh in Suffolk. But really, I have a great writing space here at home, with a window looking out onto green fields. Somewhere with quiet, a comfortable chair and electricity and I’m happy. Oh, and chocolate. And roobois (red bush) tea. Yeah, that will do!

About EUPHORIA …

It might take the arrival of an alien being to remind an isolated man what it means to be human.

With a stressful job, his boss breathing down his neck for profitable results, and an estranged wife and daughter, scientist Kurt Lomax doesn’t think life can get much harder. Until a nonbinary extraterrestrial with an otherworldly beauty, captivating elegance, and a wicked sense of humor inconveniently shows up at his apartment.

Vardam watched the destruction of their own world, and they don’t want to see the same thing happen on Earth. They are lonely, and feelings soon develop between them and the supposedly straight scientist—feelings Kurt reciprocates, much to his confusion.

The arrival of cheery interpreter Tom Soames—whose Goth appearance belies a gentle heart—is like a ray of sunshine in the somber lab. He acts as matchmaker for man and tentacled extraterrestrial, unwittingly instigating a national crisis when the news breaks out.

But will a misunderstanding ruin Kurt and Vardam’s chances for happiness together—along with the hope for peace between humanity and the Var?

About the Author

Jayne Lockwood has always wanted to learn to fly. Spending free time honing her Peter Pan skills on an aerial hoop, she also creates flights of fancy in her books, mingling sex and romance with angst and a healthy dash of dark humor.

Since she was a small child, Jayne has always sympathized with the villain. It all began with Alice Cooper, even though she was banned from listening to his music by her mother. From wanting to sail away with Captain Hook or redeeming the Child Catcher, the antihero has been an enduring fascination ever since.

Jayne is an outwardly respectable member of an English village community. She also is one of the founder members of WROTE podcast, which is dedicated to showcasing LGBTQA authors and their work, and now writes book reviews as well as diverse fiction.

She is also in a sub/Dom relationship with a cat called Keith.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS

Web page https://hollowhillspublishing.blogspot.co.uk

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

Twitter https://twitter.com/ladyjAuthor

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

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6893372.Jayne_Lockwood

QueerRomanceInk https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/jayne-lockwood/

A VVivacious Review : Sky Full Of Mysteries by Rick R Reed

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Rating: 3.5 Stars out of 5

Cole Weston returns home to find his boyfriend and first love, Rory Schneidmiller gone without a trace. Cole is devastated but he gradually puts his life back together and finds love once again in his now husband, Tommy D’Amico.

In the blink of an eye, twenty years pass for Rory and he can’t help but want to see Cole because in his heart Cole is his love but as he comes to realise circumstances have drastically changed for Cole.

Cole finds himself faced with an impossible quandary, what will he do?

I am really not sure of my rating for this book. This is one book in which I am pretty sure a rating can’t truly reflect what I think of the book. It was pretty out there. I don’t even know if I will able to articulate the absolute chaos of thoughts that I have after finishing this book but I guess I have to give it a try.

When I started the story, I had already read the blurb, as I suppose most of you would have as well. The blurb reveals most of the story. So, when you get down to reading the book you would know almost everything. You know where the story is headed after all I picked up this book to know the answer to that question at the end of the blurb, the choice between an idealized and passionate first love and the comfort of a long-term marriage. But, the truth is almost 85% of this book is setup, it is the story behind the choice or in better words, how the choice even came to be. While in hindsight, maybe there isn’t much of a dilemma between these two choices but while I was reading the first 85% of this book I couldn’t help but hope things would hurry along to the real question.

The dilemma that Cole faces is one that almost no one will face, but theoretically, he does face the dilemma. Now the choice depends on a lot of factors, even if he was in an unhappy marriage, Rory would hardly be the best choice, they are more than 20 years apart in age, it would be really difficult to account for his presence and why he looks 20 years younger than he should be and moreover there are going to be a lot of people interested in finding out why, so really the only thing Rory has going for him is that Cole might still be hung-up on Rory after all this time which he is, as the book amply demonstrates and which I felt was the only thing the setup of this book really wanted to achieve. To inform us that Cole still loves Rory and believes him to be his true love. Because what the setup fails to do is give us any substance of the kind of relationship Rory/Cole and Cole/Tommy share we just see the end of one and the beginning of another. In fact, I was so disconnected from these two relationships that the letter Rory writes to Cole feels like a different beast altogether and I still can’t conceive that this letter was written by the Rory we have come to know.

Also, there are obviously things that Cole is hiding from Tommy, we never do get to know how Cole deals with that particular minefield.

There are also aliens in this book. I was a little surprised by this, God knows why but even knowing the premise of this story the whole close encounters of the third kind thing caught me off-guard and I have no idea how I feel about the use of extraterrestrials in this book.

Well, this story gave me a lot to think about but I don’t know if it managed to answer it’s own question. I didn’t quite agree with the ending of the book. I can’t fully reconcile with Rory’s decision which appears to hinge completely on Cole’s.

The story is engaging and the setup doesn’t bog you down too much but definitely allows you to really get to know Cole and Rory. It raises a lot of questions and speculations but all in all, it truly is an interesting read.

Cover Art by Reese Dante. I liked the cover it tends to evoke just the kind of response that the story does though there is an almost criminal overuse of white dots on the cover.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Dreamspinner

Book Details:

ebook, 220 pages
Expected publication: August 14th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781640801585
Edition LanguageEnglish

Alan Chin on Writing, Early Influences and his new release Surviving Immortality (author guest interview)

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Surviving Immortality

by

Alan Chin
DSP Publications

Cover Artist: Tiferet Design

Sales Links:  DSP Publications https://tinyurl.com/y7kffs4a

Amazon https://tinyurl.com/y9mefgad

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Alan Chin here today on tour for his latest novel, Surviving Immortality. Welcome, Alan.  Thanks for sitting in our author’s interview chair today.

✒︎

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Alan Chin 

  • How much of yourself goes into a character?

All my characters come from aspects of my multifaceted personality. I pick and choose different characteristics based on the needs of the plot, but they all come from somewhere inside that gray area I call me. It’s one of the things I love about writing; I’m forced to explore different facets of myself.

  • 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 entirely sure what you’re asking here. I feel that the only way to create a multidimensional, realistic character is to use my own life experiences to define the parameter of feelings and emotions and actions a character will encounter. My own life defines the only guidelines I have to create. Fortunately, I’ve had countless experiences over the last sixty-plus years to draw from and my memory is still sharp enough to recall them.

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

An old friend of mine, Victor Banis, once said he believed that I didn’t choose my stories, my stories choose me. I believe that is true of genre as well. Generally, story ideas knock about my head for years before I finally put pen to paper to scratch out some notes. During that phase I don’t give any thought to which genre to use.

For example, Surviving Immortality started with a question of which is more destructive, man’s greed or his lust for violence, and what happens when you pit those two traits against each other? That premise rattled around my brain for three years before I was ready to get serious about it. It grew in scope and intensity until I had a breakthrough moment of inspiration of how to present it. At first, I had no idea there would be a love interest for the protagonist, let alone where he would end up. I was too engrossed in staging the theme.

I seldom research ideas until I’m ready to start outlining. Once I’m into a story, I enjoy the hell out of digging deep to find the most interesting tidbits for the telling of the story. And I like to keep my stories as factual as possible, even in a fictional world. Once I’m absorbed in a story, information flies at me from all directions and from totally surprising places. It’s part of the fun of writing.

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

No. As a child and young adult, I hated reading. I didn’t take up reading until I was in my twenties, and I didn’t start writing until my fortieth year. I was a late start, but reading and writing grew into a love affair between me and books of all genres. Early on, I read general fiction almost exclusively. I started with the old masters. Lately, I’ve been reading mostly non-fiction and biographies. For the last few months I’ve been immersed in the French Revolution and Napoléon Bonaparte. A fascinating time and man.

  • 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?

Once I get hooked on the story and feel connections with the characters, nothing short of nuclear annihilation can keep me from working on it. Even when I’m not at my keyboard or writing notes, I’m always thinking about the story, examining, refining. I can’t wait to climb out of bed in the mornings to get started, usually before sunup. I’m afraid it’s become an overly obsessive passion.

With Surviving Immortality, it took me over a year to write the first longwinded draft. It took another year to edit it down into something I’m exceedingly proud of. In those two years, there were only a handful of days that I didn’t work on it in one way or another.

I do suffer emotional ties with my characters and sometimes that feels painful. But I also experience their joys and their confusion and a whole range of emotions I don’t experience in my non-writing life. And isn’t that why we read? To experience that wide range of feelings and ideas?

  • Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I like whatever the plot dictates. What’s important, for me at least, is for the reader to experience emotional satisfaction. There is nothing more gratifying than coming to the end of a story and knowing why it ended the way it did, but also knowing that the ending fit, that it was, emotionally and intellectually, the most suitable outcome.

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

As an adult, oh yes. Romance adds spice to any story. And for me, when it comes to spices, the hotter the better. Romance can make fools or heroes out of the most stable men and women. It adds pressure to any situation and gives us a truer idea of the character’s makeup. Nothing exposes a character’s internal being better than how he/she treats their love interest.

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

There are so many. Colm Toibin and Marguerite Duras for their beautiful prose. Truman Capote for his vivid characters. Christopher Isherwood, Michael Cunningham and Evelyn Waugh for everything. I’m also a fan of Michael Crichton for his solidly entertaining storytelling. And of course, Annie Proulx for her brilliant short stories.

We are so lucky to live in a time where we have so many masters to choose from.

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

You’d have to shoot me to pry my Kindle from my grip. I love it, especially when I travel. I generally travel three months at a time, and up to six months each year. Before ebooks, I loaded my luggage down with a dozen or more books. It was always a fight with my husband, who likes to travel as lightly as possible. Now I take hundreds of books, all on my Kindle. I love it and so does Herman.

Also, I’m getting older (I signed up for Medicare last month), and the larger print really helps. As much as I love hardbacks, ebooks are here to stay and I’m good with that.

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

My publisher, Dreamspinner Publications, has a brilliant staff of artists. We exchange several emails delving into the stories characters, plot, themes, and they present me with several options. I’ve always been blown away by their talent to express ideas in images.

With Surviving Immortality, we agreed it was important to show a protagonist with the weight of the world on his shoulders, for indeed, the future of mankind pivots on his decisions. The first time I saw this cover, I knew they had nailed it. The whole universe is pressing down on him. I love it.

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

My favorite is always the book I’m currently writing. In fact, I get so engrossed in my current work, that I have a hard time remembering the details of my previous stories.

Over the years my stories and characters have become more complex, and hence, more interesting, at least to me. I also feel that with each passing year, I become a better writer. It’s not what you write, it’s how you write it, and I feel I keep improving with each book.


  • If you write contemporary romance, is there such a thing as making a main character too “real”?  Do you think you can bring too many faults into a character that eventually it becomes too flawed to become a love interest?

I think there is a danger in making a character so complex that the reader will have problems relating to him or her. It’s great to give characters faults, but not just for the hell of it. A faulty trait is there for a good reason. It needs to be a vehicle that relates to the plot, and something the character can overcome or take advantage of in order to complete his or her arc.  

  • What traits do you find the most interesting in someone? Do you write them into your characters?

Loyalty. E.M. Forster once said: “If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country.” This, I believe goes to the heart of the protagonists I try to create, and it’s a trait my antagonists seldom display. I’ve always regarded loyalty to friends and loved ones as going beyond admirable to heroic. It represents the best qualities of mankind.

I’m drawn to people who, like me, are outsiders—people who don’t really fit in. These characters are varied: some don’t fit in because of sheer defiance, some because they are terrified of society, some are simply scandalous. There are some, like the protagonist in Surviving Immortality, who have such a high degree of integrity that they don’t fit in anywhere in a world tainted by corruption. Because outsiders are on the fringe of society looking in, they tend to have a much different viewpoint from the norm. They often see things more clearly. All my protagonists are outsiders, hence abnormal, sometimes painfully so. Fish out of water.  For me, it’s what makes them interesting.

  • Have you ever put a story away, thinking it just didn’t work?  Then years/months/whatever later inspiration struck and you loved it?  Is there a title we would recognize if that happened?

No. As I said earlier, stories knock about my head for years. I don’t begin to write them until I’m so excited about them that I absolutely must write them. By then, there is no stopping until it’s complete.

  • Have you ever had an issue in RL and worked it through by writing it out in a story?  Maybe how you thought you’d feel in a situation?

I’m constantly dealing with my real-life issues in my work. I’ve always assumed that all writers do that.

  • What’s the wildest scene you’ve imagined and did it make it into a story?

I won’t describe the scene because it is the crisis/conclusion of Surviving Immortality, and I don’t want to spoil the ending for anyone who chooses to read it. But trust me, it is one of the most chilling and exciting and heartbreaking and uplifting scene’s I’ve ever written. It’s a scene that may very well haunt a reader for a good long while. It did me.

 

  • Ever drunk written a chapter and then read it the next day and still been happy with it?  Trust me there’s a whole world of us drunk writers dying to know.

Writing is hard work for me. So I tend to write early in the morning when I’m fresh and alert. I generally start writing at sunup and often work until lunchtime. That’s a little early for me to be drinking. <smile> However, many times I’ve had to work while suffering a horrific hangover, which is no fun at all. These days, I still like my glass or two of wine around dinnertime, but I’ve given up on the hard stuff. When you reach your mid-sixties, you’ll know doubt understand why.

 

  • If you could imagine the best possible place for you to write, where would that be and why?

I’ve travel to over sixty countries over the last twenty-five years, and I write most days when I travel. In all those places I’ve not once found a writing environment more suitable than my own office at home. Here in my workspace, I’m surrounded by the books I love and the quiet I need to concentrate. And even more important, my next cup of coffee is just down the hallway.

When it comes to a work environment, for me, less is better. I need quiet and internet access. And coffee, gallons of it, but that goes without saying.

  • With so much going on in the world today, do you write to explain?  To get away? To move past? To widen our knowledge? Why do you write?

I write to first help me understand the world I live in, both my internal gray matter and the external world, and then to present my reaction to those two worlds. And yes, there is a lot going on. Surviving Immortality tackles, among other topics, the epidemic of gun violence in America, the buildup of weapons of mass destruction, and the issues that lead our politicians into corruption. It’s a very topical love story.

I don’t think there has ever been a better time to write. We have such a rich tapestry of culture to draw from. 

  • What’s next for you as a writer?

For the next several months I’ll be promoting my new release, Surviving Immortality.
About a month ago I completed the first draft of my next novel. I’m currently in editing mode on that project, and I suspect that will continue for the rest of the year. Not sure what 2019 will bring, but this year will be busy with those two projects.

I’m very pleased to announce that my latest novel, Surviving Immortality, is now available in paperback and any eBook format, at

Dreamspinner Press Publications https://tinyurl.com/y7kffs4a

Amazon https://tinyurl.com/y9mefgad

This story is purely fictional and not based on real people or true events.

About Surviving Immortality

This is the story of the fountain of youth.

When Kenji Hiroshige discovers a formula that will keep people youthful and healthy for several thousand years, he tells the world he will not divulge his secret until every gun, tank, battleship, and bomb hasbeen destroyed. When the world is free of weapons, everyone can live forever. And then he goes into hiding.

Before he disappears, his son Matt Reece is exposed to the formula. Kenji takes Matt Reece on the run with him, but as they struggle to elude both government agencies and corporations who will do anything to profit from Kenji’s discovery, Matt Reece learns that world peace might not be his father’s only goal. But what can a young man who’s barely stepped foot off his isolated ranch do in the face of something so sinister?

This is the story of human greed and the lust for violence. It’s the story of a world on the brink of destruction, but it’s also a tale of one young man who finds in himself the will, courage, and compassion to stand against the darkness—both outside and within himself.

This is a story of hope.

About the Author

Alan Chin’s books explore spiritual growth through finding the right relationships. While his stories often contain elements of suspense, romance, Eastern religion, and the paranormal, his underlying focus is the power of love.

Alan is the author of nine novels, an anthology of short stories, and three screenplays.

Alan’s first novel, Island Song, won the 2008 QBliss Excellence in Literature award. His novels, The Lonely War and Match Maker won a total of five Rainbow Literature Awards. His book, The Plain of Bitter Honey is a 2014 ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year finalist in the Science Fiction category.

Alan lives and writes half of each year at his home in Southern California, and spends the other half of each year traveling the globe with his husband, Herman Chin.

You can learn more about Alan Chin and his writing at: http://alanchinauthor.com or his blog: http://AlanChinWriter.blogspot.com  

A MelanieM Release Day Review: My Fair Captain (Sci-Regency #1) by J.L. Langley

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

 

When Intergalactic Navy Captain Nathaniel Hawkins goes undercover to investigate the theft of an IN weapons stash, the mission raises painful memories from his past. Using a title he fled nearly two decades earlier, Nate once again becomes the Earl of Deverell, heir to the Duke of Hawthorne, in order to navigate the ins and outs of a Regency world. But planet Regelence—where young lords are supposed to remain pure until marriage—has a few surprises for Nate, not least of which is his attraction to Prince Aiden.

A talented artist, Prince Aiden Townsend isn’t interested in politics and the machinations of society gentlemen, and he adamantly rejects the idea of marriage and a consort. Aiden wants the freedom to pursue his art and determine his own future. But the arrival of the dashing and mysterious Deverell awakens feelings of passion and longing the young prince can’t deny.

As Nate uncovers a conspiracy reaching far beyond the stolen weapons, his future is irrevocably altered by the temptations of a life he never thought he could have. Drawn into the web of intrigue, Aiden is in danger of losing his life… and his heart.

Well, this is a surprising review to write because I thought I knew exactly how this was going to go before I started the book and wrote the review.  Talk about a teaching moment.  Sigh.  Never make assumptions.  Trite but oh so true.

You see I thought I knew the book I was going to read.  Why?   Because I read the first edition published in 2007.  Well, my paperback copy (yellowed and well loved due to multiple readings) says 2008.  Really, I read that thing so many times I had it half memorized.  I mean, that book sizzled!  Just the growled “Boy” from Hawk to Aiden was enough to have me fanning myself.  And the sex?  Off the charts!  Spanking and yes, fisting. My Fair Captain was incendiary!

It also was funny, layered, and grounded in an amazing universe so well built that it could support a series. As finally did.

Add to that a complicated intergalactic conspiracy that has it’s intricate groundwork laid down in this novel for books to come (The Englor Affair,My Regelence Rake (Sci-Regency #3), a fantastic family and cast of fully developed characters you couldn’t get enough of and you had an addictive 5 star novel.  I’m one of its biggest fans. I knew exactly what to expect when I picked up the new release from Dreamspinner Press.

Only that’s not what I got.

I got My Fair Captain…Lite.

From the original 341 pages down to 244, gone are all the BDSM aspects of the story (a favorite element quite frankly).  The few times that that Hawk calls Aiden “boy” here it makes no sense  and its most likely because they forgot to delete it.  Now he calls Aiden “Sweetheart”.  I actually shuddered.  So far out of character is that nickname as a replacement for “Boy”.

Another character I loved got a lightening of character.  Trouble was a dangerous, brilliant teenage soldier who was capable of threatening to kill someone in the first story.  This made total sense as he had been in countless battles with Hawk on the Lady Anna spaceship.  The second version?  Thrown out the window! That aspect of Trouble where he could actually take down someone in combat or kill someone?  Gone, and with it something of value.  It was endearing to have Trouble wearing bunny slippers knowing he was a predator.  Not as funny when that was removed.

Yes, I got out my paperback after completing the eBook and went page by page because I was so dumbfounded by the changes.

Some beloved passages remain the same.  A lot really.  But there are also major shifts to just a sweet romance, away from the complicated, sensual story I first fell in love with.  So how to review this?  There’s so much of the old still here that I loved?  And yet so much elemental that’s gone.  The framework is here, the characters are all here, but even they aren’t exactly the same…mostly.  It’s just different enough for someone to have read and still loves the original to be off-putting. Like I said all the robust flavor and depth has been removed…and now it’s lite beer.

Which is fine if that’s to your liking.

So, I guess if you are new to this series, you won’t have the same expectations as I did and will enjoy this series immensely. It really does  have great characters, a fast paced plot, lots of humor and romance.  And with four brothers, more stories (one for each) to come.

But if you are like me, a lover of the original.  Skip it.  Run, don’t walk, back to our paperback copies, grab hold and start reading them again like I did last night.  All of a sudden it was 2008 and I had just discovered this incredible author and this amazing book I couldn’t get enough of.  Now to turn on that fan.

First Edition published by Samhain Publishing Ltd., June 2007

Cover Artist: Tiferet Design.  Again, sweet and nice.  Lite! Will never live up to the hottness that was that original Anne Cain cover.  It brought in the half naked torso craze that’s so common now everywhere.  Tired of half naked torsos?  Blame it on this cover because (fans self) thats where it began.  See the original cover design below.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press eBook and Paperback | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 2nd Edition, 244 pages
Expected publication: May 29th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press (first published June 2007)
Original Title My Fair Captain
ISBN 1640806865 (ISBN13: 9781640806863)
Edition Language English
setting Regelence, 4829
The Original Cover Art by Anne Cain 2007:

JL Langley on Characters, Writing, and her new release ‘My Fair Captain’ (author guest interview)

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My Fair Captain (Sci-Regency #1) by J.L. Langley

Dreamspinner Press

Cover Artist: Tiferet Design

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press eBook and Paperback | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is  happy to have J.L. Langley here today talking about writing, characters, and one of our favorites stories, My Fair Captain.  Welcome, J.L.

~ Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with J.L. Langley ~

 

  • How much of yourself goes into a character?  

It actually depends on the character, but I’d say there is always something of me in my characters. I find the ones that are most different from me are the toughest to write.  In my upcoming story, Diplomatic Relations, Blaise gave me absolute fits because he is so different from me. I had a hard time trying to put myself into his mindset and think like him. Fortunately, I do have a very good friend and critique partner that identified with Blaise very easily and helped see things the way he did.

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

No research doesn’t play a part in my genre choice at all. I always start with characters, I’m very character driven, but I do love research.  Like most authors, I find myself losing hours and hours in research because I love to learn new things. 

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

Not at all.  As a child, I read Judy Blume. Sadly, I didn’t read as a teen. I know that sounds so bad, but it’s true.  I think English Lit really soured me on reading. I do NOT like literature as a general rule. Especially the things we read in High School. I can sum high school literature up in one word: depressing. I learned really early on in jr. high school that Cliff’s Notes were my friend! I’m not sure I actually read any books after I discovered Cliff’s Notes. Sadly, college literature was even worse. I wanted to throw the book at the professor for making me read, The Lottery. Trust me, he got an earful! And I’d still like to have a few words with whomever wrote the screenplay for Seven.

  • Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?  

HEA all the way!  As you can probably tell from my answer above. I read for two reasons: to learn (as in how to do something or what happened in the past. I don’t want a moral lesson) or for entertainment. Nothing makes me madder than wasting my time and getting a bad ending. I’m like that with movies too. If I want real life, I’ll watch the news. When I read, I want to be entertained. I want to feel wonderful and refreshed when I’m done.

 

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

If I had to pick I’d have to say Julia Quinn. I absolutely love everything she writes. She has a wonderful sense of humor and her books are always romantic. She’s a very character driven writer. Growing up? Judy Blume? She had a pretty good sense of humor as well and I do tend to include humor in my writing.

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

As a reader, I didn’t like ebooks to begin with.  I wanted a paperback, or preferably a hardback. I wanted that keepsake. Now I won’t read a book if I can’t get it in ebook. Which oddly enough it’s kind of ironic because I love libraries and being surrounded by actual, physical books. There is just something about the smell of them. I definitely see a day where ebooks are the only books.  More and more we gravitate to the electronic. Since I’ve been published I’ve seen a huge shift.  When I first started my print books always sold more than my ebooks, but now? I kind of surprised publishers still do print, they just don’t sell much anymore.

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

My Regelence Rake is my favorite.  As to why? I’m not really sure. Oddly enough though those are not my favorite characters. 

  • If you write contemporary romance, is there such a thing as making a main character too “real”?  Do you think you can bring too many faults into a character that eventually it becomes too flawed to become a love interest?  

I don’t think so. The more flawed the better. You can redeem just about any character. After reading Larissa Ione’s, Rough Rider, I’m certain of that. Talk about incredible conflict and incredible character development. Larissa is amazing and that story especially is awe inspiring. <bows at Larissa’s feet>  She definitely redeemed the unredeemable.  

  • What’s the wildest scene you’ve imagined and did it make it into a story?  

Hmmm…  this isn’t exactly the same thing, BUT… the scene in the Broken H where Shane hears Jamie and Gray in the kitchen and one of them, Gray, I think, says, “suck the head!” And Jamie yells, “eewww… No I don’t like the taste. Stop pushing my head!” It actually happened in RL.  My youngest BIL and I were in the kitchen at a New Year’s Eve party and he was fixing a beer for my husband. I happened to come in as he put the lime in the Corona then added the salt.  It started foaming and the rest his history. We noticed the room got very quiet and we looked up and everyone was standing at the door staring at us.  Needless to say, the beer got all over the floor and everyone died laughing. It then dawned on my BIL and I how the whole exchange had sounded He looked over at me and sighed and said, “This is going in a book, isn’t it?” 

  • Ever drunk written a chapter and then read it the next day and still been happy with it?  Trust me there’s a whole world of us drunk writers dying to know.  

Nope. I don’t drink. But I have gotten up in the middle of the night and written ideas down when I was still asleep. Needless to say, they have never made it into books, but they are always entertaining to read the next morning. Lets see there was one about a vampire turtle who shot spider webs…  seriously! I read it the next morning and was like O_O  Really?  I couldn’t stop laughing.

 

My Fair Captain Blurb

When Intergalactic Navy Captain Nathaniel Hawkins goes undercover to investigate the theft of an IN weapons stash, the mission raises painful memories from his past. Using a title he fled nearly two decades earlier, Nate once again becomes the Earl of Deverell, heir to the Duke of Hawthorne, in order to navigate the ins and outs of a Regency world. But planet Regelence—where young lords are supposed to remain pure until marriage—has a few surprises for Nate, not least of which is his attraction to Prince Aiden. 

A talented artist, Prince Aiden Townsend isn’t interested in politics and the machinations of society gentlemen, and he adamantly rejects the idea of marriage and a consort. Aiden wants the freedom to pursue his art and determine his own future. But the arrival of the dashing and mysterious Deverell awakens feelings of passion and longing the young prince can’t deny.

As Nate uncovers a conspiracy reaching far beyond the stolen weapons, his future is irrevocably altered by the temptations of a life he never thought he could have. Drawn into the web of intrigue, Aiden is in danger of losing his life… and his heart. 

 About the Author

J.L. Langley said her first words at six months of age. By the time she was a year old, she was talking in complete sentences and, as most of her family and friends will tell you, she hasn’t shut up since. After becoming an accomplished motormouth, J.L. set out to master other avenues of self-expression, including art, and dance.

 

She attended the University of Texas, where she majored in art, and worked as a dance instructor on the side. Her love of artistic expression in dance landed her a career in which she taught and performed for over twenty-five years. After marriage to her junior high school sweetheart and the birth of their children, J.L. decided to try her hand at writing. To date, she has several successful novels and a handful of novellas to her credit.

 

She lives in Texas, where she was born and raised, with her real life hero, their rowdy two boys, two even rowdier German Shepherds and ten goldfish, one of which is named Jaws. When she’s not writing, she can usually be found with her nose in a book, appreciating the communication skills of other writers.

Social media links:

Website: http://www.jllangley.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jl_langley

Series Recap Blitz/Cover Reveal – Taking Shield Series by Anna Butler

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The award-winning Taking Shield series comes to an explosive conclusion in the fifth book, Day of Wrath, to be published on 28 June 2018.

First that cover. Designed by Adrian Nicholas, whoís been responsible for creating the Taking Shield brand, this cover features a faceless drone, one of the cyborg soldiers sent against humanity by the Maess:

About Day of Wrath

In less than a week, Bennet will finally return to the Shield Regiment, leaving behind the Gyrfalcon, his father, his friendsÖ and Flynn. Promotion to Shield Major and being given command of a battle group despite the political fallout from Makepeace the year before is everything he thought he wanted. Everything heís worked towards for the last three years. Except for leaving Flynn. He really doesnít want to leave Flynn.

Thereís time for one last flight together. A routine mission. Nothing too taxing, just savouring every moment with the best wingman, the best friend, heís ever had. Thatís the plan.

Bennet should know better than to trust to routine because what waits for them out there will change their lives forever.

Pre-order Day of Wrath

Want to win some loot? Pre-order The Day of Wrath at a digital store (Amazon, Kobo, Nook etc) and send a copy of the email confirmation (or a screengrab of it) to annabutlerfiction@gmail.com and

(i) Anna will send you the first chapter and some deleted scenes by email. The deleted scenes will be exclusive until the end of the year;

(ii) the first twenty to respond will get a little bag of Taking Shield loot; and

(ii) your name will be entered in a draw to win one of seven signed first edition paperbacks of Taking Shield 02: Heart Scarab. Winners will be announced on publication day.

Preorder here: Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Kobo | Smashwords

 

Excerpt from Day of Wrath

As Bennet angled over to starboard, Flynn gave his own Hornet a metaphorical boot in the backside, and tagged along faithfully at Bennetís port wing. He stayed close and tight. Pity the ensigns werenít there to see how it was done. With finesse. Panache. And sheer, mind-boggling talent.

The Hornetís navigational computer helpfully overlaid a representation of Aglaia with the usual spherical latitude-longitude grid, pulling the planetary data from the database. At least they had the figures for known planets logged and stored and the nav-com didnít have to make it up. Which it could, of course, by designating the poles with an arbitrary north and south label, locating the equator, and inventing an arbitrary prime meridian to work with. According to legend, the system originated on Earth before man took to the skies, so old it was invented for sailing ships. Given Earth was ten thousand years gone, Flynn put a lot of emphasis on ëlegendí. Their flight navigation systems were built on bloody folklore.

Madness.

Still, at least he couldnít get lost.

He followed Bennet into a high orbit along Aglaiaís equator, skimming along for a moment before going down into the atmosphere. And by skimming, he meant they bounced along like stones skipping over water before they burst through into a storm system. A big storm system. The air roiled in great waves and billows, buffeting the Hornets, and lightning cracked and sizzled off their hulls. The flow of the clouds was fierce, the turbulence greatest at the boundaries between cloud layers. And the winds! More than fierce. They were a howling, raging, relentless savagery that threatened to overwhelm even the Hornetís engines. The Hornet bucked and balked against the winds, and it took every ounce of skill Flynn possessed to fight her into obedience, to keep her flying in the direction he wanted. He couldnít rely on relaxed experience here. This was active, constant readjustment to make her respond. He dropped back a trifle, giving Bennet and himself room to ride out the bucking and bouncing. He wasnít so much flying through Aglaiaís skies, as cavorting through them.

Gods, it was fun!

Anna : what you, dear reader, might expect from the Taking Shield series

Gay literature is a growing genre. And the biggest element of that, just as itís the biggest element of literature generally? Romance. Love, hearts, kisses, and happiness. M/M romance, in particular, is booming.

Now then, if Iím reading a romance, I have certain expectations. I want to see two people attracted to each other, overcoming some obstacle to being together, being faithful and loving. And at the very least, the book must close with a Happy-For-Now ending even if the story canít quite make it Happy Ever After. En route they can have all sorts of things happen: murders, mystery, mayhem. Doesnít matter. What matters is theyíre together and I can put the book down feeling good about the outcome.

But this is where things get a little sticky. Because if youíre looking for pure romance, then I have to confess that the Taking Shield series wonít deliver it. Shield isnít romance. It is a love storyóa very deep and, at times, intense love storyóthat covers five or six years of interstellar war and billions of miles of space travel. This is a classic space opera. All the staples of old school sci-fi are here: big spaceships, infiltrations of enemy bases, cool Shield suits, and lots of people running around shooting their lasers.

And it has two men in love. Oh wait. Not as old school as all that, then.

Across the whole of the series, there are two main story themes, intertwining with each other: the war against the Maess and, set against that, the relationship between Shield Captain Bennet and Fleet Lieutenant Flynn. The Maess war and everything Bennet has to do there gets equal billing with the slow unfolding of his relationship with Flynn.

So something of a niche appeal, here! But if you like sweeping sagas and big love stories where the obstacles the heroes face are big and sweeping too, I do hope youíll give Bennet and Flynn a try. They arenít perfect, but a couple of guys with all their warts and faults, all their brilliance and intelligence, all their courage and loyalty and great hearts, all their beauty and all their uglinessóand they love each other. They love each other a great deal, despite every parting, and every reverse and upset in their relationship. And now, at the end of the series, perhaps theyíll get their chance.

Do come on the adventure with them. I donít think youíll regret it.

About the series

Taking Shield started out as a simple set of ëwhat ifí questions. What if, in some AU universe, Earthís been a burnt out dustball for the last ten thousand years? What if thereís a riff on the Exodus and remnants of humanity escape, but led by Pharaohs? What if the new world they found, Albion, is at war with an enemy no one has ever seen? What if the hero is a member of Albionís special forces and the Military Strategy Unit? What if he finds something that seriously threatens Albion? What if he falls in love with a Fleet pilot and has his life turned upside down?

Earthís a dead planet, dark for more than ten thousand years; lost for so long no one even knows where its solar system is. Her last known colony, Albion, has grown to be regional galactic power in its own right. But Albionís drive to expand and found colonies of its own has threatened an alien race, the Maess, against whom Albion is now fighting a last-ditch battle for survival in a war thatís dragged on for generations.

The Taking Shield series charts the missions and adventures of Shield Captain Bennet, scion of a prominent military family. Over the Taking Shield arc, Bennet will see the extremes to which humanityís enemies, and his own people, will go to win the war. Some days he isnít able to tell friend from foe. Some days he doubts everything, including himself, as he strives to ensure Albionís victory. And some days he isnít sure, any longer, what victory looks like.


Note: the novels are not standalones and should be read in order.

 

Taking Shield 01: Gyrfalcon ó Earthís last known colony, Albion, is fighting an alien enemy. In the first of the Taking Shield series, Shield Captain Bennet is dropped behind the lines to steal priceless intelligence. A dangerous job, and Bennet doesnít need the distractions of changing relationships with his long-term partner, Joss, or with his fatheróor with Flynn, the new lover who will turn his world upside-down. He expects to risk his life. He expects the data will alter the course of the war. What he doesnít expect is that it will change his life or that Flynn will be impossible to forget.

Available FREE at Payhip | A digital bookstore near you

Taking Shield 02: Heart Scarab ó Shield Captain Bennet is on Telnos, an unpleasant little planet inhabited by religious fanatics and unregistered miners running illegal solactinium mines. Itís about to be about to be overrun by the Maess. Bennetís job is to get out as many civilians as he can, but the enemy arrives before the evacuation is complete. Caught in a vicious fire fight, Bennet is left behind, presumed dead.

His family is grieving. Joss, his long-term partner, grieves with them; lost, unhappy, remorseful. First Lieutenant Flynn has no official ërightsí here. He isnít family. He isnít partner or lover. Heís just broken

Available at Payhip | A digital bookstore near you

Taking Shield 03: Makepeace ó Returning to duty following his long recovery from the injuries he sustained during the events recounted in Heart Scarab, Shield Captain Bennet accepts a tour of duty in Fleet as flight captain on a dreadnought. The one saving grace is that it isnít his fatherís shipóbad enough that he canít yet return to the Shield Regiment, at least he doesnít have the added stress of commanding former lover, Fleet Lieutenant Flynn and knowing the fraternisation regulations will keep them apart.

Bennetís new mission takes him behind the lines to Makepeace, once a human colony but under Maess control for more than a century. The mission goes belly up, costing Albion one of her precious, irreplaceable dreadnoughts and bringing political upheaval, acrimony and the threat of public unrest in its wake. But for Bennet, the real nightmare is discovering what the Maess have in store for humanity. Itís not good. Itís not good at all.

SECOND PLACE WINNER 2016 Rainbow Awards for Best Sci/Fi Futuristic book

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Taking Shield 04: The Chains Of Their Sins ó Shield Captain Bennet arrives on the Gyrfalcon to take up his final year’s posting before returning to the Shield Regiment.

On the Gyrfalcon he faces up to the fallout from Makepeaceóethical, political and above all, personal. Will he be able to accept necessity: that knowing what the Maess are up to outweighs the humanitarian issues surrounding the prisoners he rescued from Makepeace? Can he ride out the political furore that follows the loss of the dreadnought Caliban? How will he cope with an entire year of serving under his father, Caeden? And worst of all, how in the name of every god in the Pantheon can he stand to see Flynn every single day, with the Fraternisation Regs standing between them and keeping them apart?

It will be an interesting year. Bennet can hardly wait for it to be over. Of course, things never really do go to plan…

FIRST PLACE WINNER 2017 Rainbow Awards for Best Sci/Fi Futuristic book

THIRD PLACE WINNER 2017 Rainbow Awards for Best Gay Book

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Anna Butler was a communications specialist for many years, working in various UK government departments on everything from marketing employment schemes to organizing conferences for 10,000 civil servants to running an internal TV service. These days, though, she is writing full time. She lives with her husband in a quiet village tucked deep in the Nottinghamshire countryside. Sheís supported there by the Deputy Editor, aka Molly the cockerpoo, who is assisted by the lovely Mavis, a Yorkie-Bichon cross with a bark several sizes larger than she is but no opinion whatsoever on the placement of semi-colons.

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