Tis the Season for Giving ~ Check out the ‘Love Wins Anthology for Charity and the Tray Ellis Interview

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Love Wins Anthology
Publisher:Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: December 16, 2016

Available at

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Contributing Authors: Lucie Archer , Kris T. Bethke, Deja Black, M.A. Church,
David C. Dawson , Jana Denardo , Nicole Dennis , Julie Lynn Hayes  , Jude Dunn , Xenia Melzer,
Grace R. Duncan , L.A. Merrill, Ravon Silvius , Renee Stevens , Alicia Nordwell, Troy Storm , Tray Ellis

~An Interview with Tray Ellis~

Hi, I’m Tray Ellis.  I have a short story called “Prevailing Zzz’s” in the Love Wins charity anthology. Today I’m visiting here at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words.  I have a few interview questions that challenged me to be introspective, and following after that is information on the anthology and my story.

  • Where do you normally draw your inspiration for a book from?  A memory, a myth, a place or journey, or something far more personal?

Inspiration for me comes from every day events and people.  I might have a conversation with someone, or overhear a snippet of dialogue in a store, and it occurs to me that the subject would make a very good topic for a story. It is exciting when that happens. The feel of inspiration is a thrill.  I jot the ideas down as soon as I can, mull them over, and pick and choose which ones will resonate. 

  • Are you a planner or a pantzer when writing a story? And  why?

Definitely a planner! Although there are always elements of ‘I’ll figure it out when I get there”, I like to go for long walks and really think about the story and the characters. I do hold a lot of it in my head rather than try to write it all down in an outline.

  • 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?

Generally contemporary, but with supernatural elements. Ever since I learned the term “magical realism”, I’ve known how to name what I like to write most, and read the most as well. I love writing contemporary stories with something out of the ordinary. I think most of us want our lives to be extraordinary, and it is fun to imagine special ways to make that happen to characters.

  • 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?

This question really made me think, but I’m going to say that I wouldn’t.  There’s something about a character that once development ends, and the story is over, that they feel entirely separate and their own selves.  I suppose there could always be additional information discovered about them. Why do they love something? Or fear something? But to go back and fundamentally change them would be to pull a thread out of a fabric.  You can try to fix it by meticulously pulling the loose thread back in. You can go on wearing the garment, but it never looks quite as nice. It’s always in danger of unraveling again.

  • Can a author have favorites among their characters and do you have them?

Absolutely. It’s hard not to.  Sometimes it is the immediacy of writing about the character.  I might like whomever best that I’m currently considering and typing up in the story. Then, when I shift on to a different portion of the story and spend time with a different character, I might become fond of them.  I suppose it makes me sound a little fickle! But, honestly, even the villains of the story are going to have elements of the author in them, so you’re going to like them just a little.

  • If you were to be stranded on a small demi-planet, island, or god forbid LaGuardia in a snow storm, what books would you take to read or authors on your comfort list?

I actually still travel with real books in my backpack. I like real paper, even though I love electronic reading as well. I always want to have something with me in case I need to settle down and wait for a time.  I have bookshelves stuffed with books I’ve read and when I go to pick them out, as I run my fingers over the spines, I remember the stories told within.  Some of the ones I grab the most often:  Dracula by Bram Stoker, Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, any of the Stephanie Plum books, and Witch Week by Diana Wynne Jones. These are worlds that I enjoyed traveling through again and again.

  • How early in your life did you begin writing?

I wrote adventure stories as early as elementary school with my friends.  In middle school, I started writing stories on my own. One of the best compliments I’ve received was because a friend showed my stories to her mom, and she wanted to read more of my stuff even then!

  • 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 was read to as a child, and we went to the library as a family. Libraries are amazing, and I often borrowed as many books as I was allowed. I loved mystery stories.  I read through the Bobbsey Twins mysteries and moved on to Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys as I got older. The children’s book that made a serious impact on me was The Big Orange Splot, by Daniel Pinkwater. For such a short story, it’s got a lot of complex things to say about differentness, conformity, and being our truest selves. 

  • What question would you ask yourself here?

I thought of about a dozen questions, but one of the better ones was: If you could choose to hear one thing about the stories you write, what would it be?

That I made the reader smile or laugh. I’m not a straight-out comedic writer, so my words aren’t going to make a reader guffaw until tears roll down their cheeks, but I do like to tuck amusing and funny little bits into my stories. I find it supremely satisfying when I hear from someone that they had a good chuckle over some irreverent dialogue or an unusual situation.

  • If you were writing your life as a romance novel, what would the title be?

The Constant Heart. This was the toughest question in the bunch!  Like a lot of authors who write in the romance genre, I believe in True Love.  If I can’t find enough of it in real life, I’m going to seek it in the fictional worlds. This constancy is the element that most describes my affections.

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Love Wins Blurb

With time comes healing, but Orlando and the LGBT community are still recovering from last June’s tragedy. To show our ongoing support for those affected by the Orlando shooting, our authors, editors, artists, and staff have volunteered their talents to create this second benefit anthology. All proceeds will be donated to LGBT organizations in central Florida. Join us as we reaffirm that no matter the obstacle, love always wins.

Specific Blurb:

Prevailing Zzz’s by Tray Ellis

After eight months together, Greg wants Win to move in with him. But how can Win agree when Greg’s snoring leaves him sleep-deprived and miserable?

Author Bio

Tray Ellis grew up across from an empty field where she spun a lot of imaginary adventures, helping to prepare her for a lifetime of writing. When she isn’t writing, she keeps busy by hiking, cooking, stacking the odd cord of wood in the shed, baking, and being too busy to keep her home in any semblance of order. Currently she tries to find a balance between the logical way she thinks and the flights of fancy that she often daydreams about.  Mostly, the daydreams are winning.

Tray can be found at the following social media locations:

trayellis.dreamwidth.org

http://www.facebook.com/tray.ellis.54

trayellis.blogspot.com/

twitter.com/TrayEllisWrites

A Caryn Review: One Pulse Anthology

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

one-pulse-anthologySince the shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando on June 12, 2016, people worldwide have donated a total of more than 23 million dollars to the OneOrlando Fund set up to benefit the victims and their families.  It seems like a lot of money, but between the number of people affected, and the severity of their injuries – mental and physical – that money will be exhausted fairly soon.  Also, after the initial outcry and horror that such a thing could have happened, and for such a reason, the shooting has faded out of the headlines.  But for those who were directly affected, and for all people in the LGBTQ spectrum, the shooting is still at the forefront of their thoughts, and fears, and worries.  So I was very pleased to see Dreamspinner Press put out this anthology to raise money for various LGBT organizations in central Florida, and I jumped at the chance to review it.  Dreamspinner also has another anthology coming out in time for the 2016 holiday season, that will also benefit the same charities.

At first, I planned to do a short review on each story individually, but at a total of 31 stories (and almost 200,000 words) that just wasn’t possible.  The stories are written by a combination of well known and lesser known authors from Dreamspinner’s ranks, and run the gamut of genres.  There are contemporary, fantasy, paranormal, historical, and sci-fi works.  Most are romances, but some are not.  Most are M/M pairings, but there was also one F/F and one M/M/M/M.  Some stories were extremely good, some less so, but there was only one that I had to DNF.  My favorite was The Tithe by K.C. Burn, which was one of the fully original stories, but there were several that were in the various universes created by the authors in other published works (like Edmond Manning’s They Danced which tells another tale of the Lost and Founds, which would not have made much sense to me if I hadn’t read one of them first).  The stories ranged from1 star to 5 star ratings, and overall the anthology really is more of a 3 star read, but I give it an extra star because of the generosity of the authors and the other people from Dreamspinner involved in putting it together.  I looked at the call for submissions, and they were due only a month after the shooting itself, which is an incredibly short period of time to write something really good, so I actually expect the next anthology to be even better.

I also hope that there will be a little more detail of which organizations the money will be going towards in the next anthology.  Overall, I do recommend this collection, especially for those who like to read shorter stories.  I plan on buying the next anthology when it’s available.

The cover art, by Paul Richmond, really fits with the title of the anthology and the reasons it was written.  I like the symbolism of one pair of hands holding and caring for another, checking a pulse as a nod to the name of the nightclub, and the rainbow coloring for Pride.

Sales Links

        

Book Details:

ebook, 574 pages
Published September 19th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
Original TitleOne Pulse
ISBN139781635330984
Edition LanguageEnglish

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

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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.