Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween and Halloween Romances


So it’s Halloween.  I know in some parts of the world the readers are saying, BFD because you don't celebrate it!  Well in America Halloween is a damned fun holiday.

Lots of people decorate their houses in a spooky manner.  I know in our neighborhood this past weekend there were tons of folks out decorating and even some getting ready for having haunted houses in their backyards or garages.  It’s a pretty innocuous holiday but one I really enjoy.  I hate going costume shopping with my kids (as Kris can attest) because they want to try on everything (even if they already know what they want to be) and never pick what I want them to (lol) but when it comes down to the night of the big H and they dress up and go trick or treating I love seeing them having fun. 

So what do I like about Halloween besides the kids stuff?  That’s easy.  I love reading romances that have costume parties where people meet and fall in love.  I especially like these if one or both of the people are in masks or make-up so that the other person falls in love with the person and has no clue what the other one looks like. 

Sad to say that I haven’t read even one Halloween story/costume party romance this year.  *gasp* Unheard of! Sue me!  There just haven’t been any that have caught my attention!

So even though by the time I get replies and seek out these books Halloween will be over, I’m gonna ask for recs anyway.  Do you have any favorite Halloween romances or romances containing costume parties that you want to pass on?  I’d love to know what they are.  Oh, and you know me – I’ll take m/m recs as well as m/f!

(If you're out and about tonight have a happy and safe Halloween!)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Tropes in Romance: Good or Bad?

I can hear some of you asking now, what is a trope? Simply, a trope is a cliché, a common (sometimes overused) literary device. Some common romance tropes are the virgin, friends-to-lovers, enemies-to-lovers, lovers torn apart, The Big Misunderstanding, The Bad Boy, the brooding vampire, insta-love, etc. There is an endless list of tropes easily found in just about every romance title, be it mainstream or gay romance, and every genre has its own special tropes readers either love or hate.

So, the question becomes, are these tropes good or bad? Do they add to a novel or detract? I know a lot of authors and readers who would say to bury the trope deeply, or subvert it in some way. And I agree, subversion of a trope can be an awesome way to bring something unique into a genre full of tropes. For example, vampires and shifters. The images of the brooding vampire or the dark alpha shifter are classics that can be found throughout the genre.

Imagine a vampire who has every reason on earth to hate himself. He’s a murderer, a thief, a seducer. But, because he has someone in his life that reminds him of all the good he has done alongside the bad, he remains optimistic about his existence. Instead of brooding, as a vampire might if he hates who and what he is, he instead revels in the positive aspects of his affliction, finding love and peace rather than endless angst and self-loathing. This would be a new take on an otherwise tired trope.

A subversion of the dark alpha shifter could be a headstrong beta who challenges the alpha of the pack for leadership, but then loses. Here, the main character has been built up as the big bad shifter, one who will take down the current alpha, and then fails spectacularly. The trope has been taken and turned on its ear, because he is the dark alpha-minded shifter, but he really isn’t alpha material. Not yet, anyway.

At the same time, though, taking a trope and owning it 100% is just as valid. The author just has to do it right, sell the reader on it from page one. Don’t half-ass your handling of a trope. That leads to unhappy readers, poor reviews, and a discouraged author. If you’re going to write your two main characters falling in love within the first four sentences of meeting one another, then take that up right to the end. Explore what happens with fated love, with soulmates, with what appears to be the loss of free choice. If you have a Bad Boy, keep him bad from beginning to end, even if he does have a heart of gold under all the rust.

Tropes are great literary devices, and no one can escape them. They creep into all writing, television, movies, plays, music. They’re just there, the undercurrent of the familiar. Tropes aren’t good or bad. They are what they are, and in the hands of a skilled author, a reader can be taken on an amazing journey.

Where you can find S.L. Armstrong:
Website: http://www.slarmstrong.net/
Twitter: @_slarmstrong

Friday, October 28, 2011

What is Wild Moon Books?

Wild Moon Books is the newest imprint from Storm Moon Press. We’ve branched out from GLBT and alternative lifestyle fiction and created an arm that will publish mainstream erotica and erotic romance. Wild Moon Books focuses on quality fiction, author-centric publishing, competitive pricing, and fun, exciting contests and giveaways for readers.

Currently, Wild Moon Books is scheduled to launch in January 2012, but we’re actively seeking submissions for anthologies, novellas, and novels. If you write heterosexual erotica or erotic romances, then take a look at the Wild Moon Books site where all the submission guidelines and anthologies calls are. Our contracts offer generous royalties, along with one of the first flip-point structures in the erotic romance industry, and we ensure authors are not bound to us through Right of First Refusal or non-compete clauses. We’re here for authors and readers.

Readers can look forward to discounted pre-sales of titles, fun contests, giveaways, and competitive prices. All our books will be available not only on the Wild Moon Books site, but in all major third-party vendor sites, so readers will be able to purchase Wild Moon Books at their favorite retailer. There are many surprises in store for readers during Wild Moon Books’ first year, and we can’t wait to start the ball rolling!

We’re excited to begin this new venture, and we can’t wait to work with some awesome authors to bring readers great reading experiences.

Where you can find Wild Moon Books:
Website: http://www.wildmoonbooks.com/
Twitter: @wildmoonbooks

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Moving Beyond M/M

Every writer tends to have their favorite topics and themes, their favorite genre or sub-genre. They might go for years simply writing in one place or continuing a series of books to the exclusion of all else. This is very common, and rather than buying into the view 'Write what you know', I prefer to tell people 'Write what you love'. If we were to limit ourselves only to the topics we have personal knowledge of, I think fiction would suffer. Instead, it's important to just write what you love and explore different topics that you love.

My co-author, S.L. Armstrong, and I love researching new topics and being inspired by a broad range of themes in erotic romance. Ever since we started writing together, we've focused on gay (M/M) erotic romance, because we both love to read and write men falling in love, overcoming obstacles, and finding fulfillment with one another. We've always had a soft spot for paranormal and BDSM themes as well, so we love writing vampires/immortals and exploring different facets of BDSM. Heck, it was a love of both that led to the idea behind Catalyst, which follows the romance between a man with a blood fetish and his psychologist.

Despite our natural tendency to stay in our comfort zones, S.L. and I are always keen to push our boundaries. Because of that, we plan on moving beyond writing exclusively gay fiction (with the occasional dip into lesbian pairings). One of our current writing projects involves Lilith and Cain (of biblical fame), and it will be our first official foray into mainstream M/F erotic romance. We're really excited about the novella trilogy, which will follow Cain and Lilith from shortly after the murder of Abel to modern day London!

In addition to our M/F pursuits, we're also pushing ourselves to showcase more bisexual, trans*, and polyamorous fiction over the next couple years. We pride ourselves on keeping inventive, and sometimes inventive means moving beyond the comfort of M/M erotic romance. Bisexual men and women tend to be sorely under-represented in GLBT erotica beyond the familiar tropes of the 'hot bi chick' and 'one-time ménage', so that's definitely a corner of the market that S.L. and I would love to help expand. The same goes for trans* fiction, which may have a smaller market but is just as important to the spectrum of sexuality and identity.

For both our writing and our management of Storm Moon Press, we strive to find the themes in erotic romance of which we would love to see more, and then write what we wish were there for us to read! While we have plenty on our creative plates for the next few years, with everything from contemporary western to high fantasy to polyamory romance, Storm Moon Press has several anthology calls for all flavors of GLBT erotica and erotic romance, along with open calls for longer pieces with specific themes! Our new imprint, Wild Moon Books, will also be launching in January 2012 for mainstream erotic romance titles, so keep an eye on us these next few months!

We hope that our submission calls spark ideas for you writers and pique your interest as readers! Be it mainstream M/F or the LBT part of GLBT, Storm Moon Press is taking it up a notch and providing you with something that goes beyond the ordinary and beyond the M/M erotic fiction we specialize in!

Where you can find K. Piet:
Website: http://www.kpiet.net/
Twitter: @k_piet
Publisher: http://www.stormmoonpress.com/ and http://www.wildmoonbooks.com/ 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Halloween Reads

Tori & I are recovering from heavy DIK partying last evening and enjoying some quite time sipping some bottled water whilst laying on a cozy lounge chair under one of the cabanas here on the beach. The waves are lapping on the shore under a beautiful blue sky, I love the sound. (Hey a girl can dream right?) :)

This Monday is Halloween and aside from the fact I have to work (bah) it is one of my favorite festive occasions. Certain books and specifically the particular series I'm featuring today makes me think of Halloween. Jeaniene Frost's extremely popular Night Huntress series to me is imminently "Halloweenesk". I mean the names of the vampire heroine and hero associated with the series are Cat & Bones. Bwahaaaaa! The cover art for the six books written in the series thus far have that spooky, dark Halloween feel. And, of course each of the titles reference the grave....





Flirting With The Grave…

Half-vampire Catherine Crawfield is going after the undead with a vengeance, hoping that one of these deadbeats is her father – the one responsible for ruining her mother’s life. Then she’s captured by Bones, a vampire bounty hunter, and is forced into an unlikely partnership.

In exchange for help finding her father, Cat agrees to train with the sexy night stalker until her battle reflexes are as sharp as his fangs. She’s amazed she doesn’t end up as his dinner – are there actually good vampires? Pretty soon Bones will have her convinced that being half-dead doesn’t have to be all bad. But before she can enjoy her status as kick-ass demon hunter, Cat and Bones are pursued by a group of killers. Now Cat will have to choose a side … and Bones is turning out to be as tempting as any man with a heartbeat.






You can run from the grave, but you can’t hide…

Half-vampire Cat Crawfield is now Special Agent Cat Crawfield, working for the government to rid the world of the rogue undead. She’s still using everything Bones, her sexy and dangerous ex, taught her, but when Cat is targeted for assassination, the only man who can help her is the vampire she left behind.

Being around Bones awakens all her emotions, from the adrenaline rush of slaying vamps side by side to the reckless passion that consumed them. But a price on her head – wanted: dead or half-alive – means her survival depends on teaming up with Bones. And no matter how hard Cat tries to keep things professional between them, she’ll find that desire lasts forever … and Bones won’t let her get away again.






Some Things Won’t Stay Buried … At Grave’s End

It should be the best time of half-vampire Cat Crawfield’s life. With her undead lover Bones at her side, she’s successfully protected mortals from the rogue undead. But though Cat’s worn disguise after disguise to keep her true identity a secret from the brazen bloodsuckers, her cover’s finally been blown, placing her in terrible danger.

As if that wasn’t enough, a woman from Bones’s past is determined to bury him once and for all. Caught in the crosshairs of a vengeful vamp, yet determined to help Bones stop a lethal magic from being unleashed, Cat’s about to learn the true meaning of bad blood. And the tricks she’s learned as a special agent won’t help her. She will need to fully embrace her vampire instincts in order to save herself – and Bones – from a fate worse than the grave.








Her dreams leave her in grave danger…

Since half-vampire Cat Crawfield and her undead lover Bones met six years ago, they’ve fought against the rogue undead, battled a vengeful Master vampire, and pledged their devotion with a blood bond. Now it’s time for a vacation. But their hopes for a perfect Paris holiday are dashed when Cat awakes one night in terror. She’s having visions of a vampire named Gregor who’s more powerful than Bones and has ties to her past that even Cat herself didn’t know about.

Gregor believes Cat is his and he won’t stop until he has her. As the battle begins between the vamp who haunts her nightmares and the one who has her heart, only Cat can break Gregor’s hold over her. She’ll need all the power she can summon in order to bring down the baddest bloodsucker she’s ever faced … even if getting that power will result in an early grave.






Danger waits on both sides of the grave…

Half-vampire Cat Crawfield and her vampire husband Bones have fought for their lives, as well as for their relationship. But just when they’ve triumphed over the latest battle, Cat’s new and unexpected abilities threaten to upset a long-standing balance…

With the mysterious disappearance of vampires, rumors abound that a species war is brewing. A zealot is inciting tensions between the vampires and ghouls, and if these two powerful groups clash, innocent mortals could become collateral damage. Now Cat and Bones are forced to seek help from a dangerous “ally”—the ghoul queen of New Orleans herself. But the price of her assistance may prove more treacherous than even the threat of a supernatural war. …to say nothing of the repercussions Cat never imagined.






How do you send a killer to the grave when he’s already dead?

Having narrowly averted an (under)world war, Cat Crawfield wants nothing more than a little downtime with her vampire husband, Bones. Unfortunately, her gift from New Orleans’ voodoo queen just keeps on giving–leading to a personal favor that sends them into battle once again, this time against a villainous spirit.

Centuries ago, Heinrich Kramer was a witch hunter. Now, every All Hallows Eve, he takes physical form to torture innocent women before burning them alive. This year, however, a determined Cat and Bones must risk all to send him back to the other side of eternity–forever. But one wrong step and they’ll be digging their own graves.


I've been glomming this series for a long time and one of these years on Halloween Eve I'm going to immerse myself in a Night Huntress read-a-thon. ;)

Any favorite Halloween reads or series you'd like to share? Do you like the Night Huntress books?

Tonight Storm Moon Press arrives on the Island, for a 3 day vaca! Be sure and give them a warm Island welcome.

This is it for Tori and I until 2012! Wishing all of you a Happy healthy festive season and we will see you in the New Year!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Genre Confusion...

I thought I'd ramble on about an issue that has been bugging me for a while now: the genre designation assigned to romance novels. As the title of this post indicates I'm rather confused about this issue. (Yes, I confuse easily.)

I talked about After Midnight yesterday, mentioning what a special read it was for me. When I reviewed the book I checked out the publisher's website and was shocked to find the genre label for this book was Interracial. That's it, that's all! Huh? What happened to contemporary romance? The only thing I could attribute the odd genre designation to was that the heroine's father was Native American. Her mother was American. Um...Why would this fact make the book Interracial? Are not Native Americans, American? lol Call me dumb but I just don't understand it.

I guess part of my confusion stems from the fact that I live in a multicultural city and mixed race relationships are extremely common and part of our cultural mosaic. There is no differentiation, really. In my mind, you love who you love exclusive of heritage or gender.


Blood on the Pen was one of my favorite reads of 2010, it is a gripping crime thriller that doesn't spare the grisly in its graphic depiction chronicling the mechanizations of a sociopathic serial killer. This book is meticulously crafted, excellent storytelling. The genre designation?

Crime Fiction/Mystery/Light Interracial Romance

Now, the crime fiction and mystery I get, but once more, we have the Interracial label. I could be wrong but I believe the heroine (who rocks BTW) of the novel is a Hispanic-American. Again, why does this require the book to be designated Interracial? Would lovers of an excellent murder mystery be bothered by the fact that the hero of the story shows affection to a Hispanic-American woman?


I noticed a number of review requests that were coming down the pipe at a blog where I share my thoughts about books fell under the space opera genre and it prompted me to ask what it was? Color me stupid, I mean I've been reading romance since the age of 12 and am damn old now but I'd never heard of this particular genre until recently. Anyway I was given the explanation found on Definition from Wikipedia:

Space opera is a subgenre of science fiction that emphasizes romantic, often melodramatic adventure, set mainly or entirely in outer space, generally involving conflict between opponents possessing advanced technologies and abilities. The term has no relation to music and it is analogous to "soap opera" (see below). Perhaps the most significant trait of space opera is that settings, characters, battles, powers, and themes tend to be very large-scale.

I was astounded to discover it's been around for a very long time. Duh! Wikipedia gives the example of Planet Stories which was an American Pulp Fiction magazine. I think this cover looks like kind of campy sci fi. lol

I was told it could be equated with Linnea Sinclair's Sci Fi Romance novels, but I always thought of her work as exactly that, not a space opera, although her novels are certainly grand in scale. I'm in no way meaning to denigrate Space Opera as a genre, but it did and does produce significant confusion on my part. I mean Sinclair's novels are fast paced adventures. I always found soap operas to be ongoing painfully slow and nonsensical. lol *scratching head*

Another genre label that I find confusing is Police Procedural. What happened to Crime Thriller or Mystery? What is wrong with Romantic Suspense?

Do we need to subcategorize to define romance novels like surgical subspecialties? On the other hand, I know it's vitally important to give readers accurate direction so that they can chose books that suite there tastes. I do think that romance genres move in and out of vogue depending on what types of reads are selling well. However, do we need to define and "sub-genreize" to minutiae?

Any genres that you find confusing? Have you ever been steered to a book by the genre label it has been assigned and been surprised or even disappointed by it's content?

Tori and I are looking forward to one more fun day with our heroes here on the island tomorrow and are going to be chatting about Halloween reads! Specifically, a series that I think is quite "Halloweenish".. lol

I hope everyone has a wonderful day and that your week is going well so far. :)

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Power of an Awesome Read


Tori and I are back on the island for a 3 day fall getaway. It’s getting chilly back home, but I love the fall, the comfortable temperatures, the beautiful colors. We have a huge maple on our front lawn and I actually look forward to raking the leaves each year when they fall. I can’t believe how quickly 2011 has passed. Its nearly November and while flying over on the DIK jet (Tori quite likes its luxury BTW) I got to thinking about some of my favorite reads so far this year, took a peek at my Goodreads favorites list and thought I’d talk about some new-to-me authors that have rocketed to the top of my 2011 Awesome category.

First is Sarah Grimm’s contemporary romance After Midnight, an emotional love story about Isabeau Montgomery, a piano virtuoso who has had a tragic life and Noah Clark, a famous rock musician. I wasn’t expecting much from this book but quickly became captivated by Ms. Grimm’s vivid descriptive prose and exemplary characterization. Noah's persistence while wooing Isabeau along with his compassion and tenderness toward her is extremely touching. I found reading about their journey toward eventual happiness to be unique and memorable.





Thirteen years—that's how long Isabeau Montgomery has been living a lie. After an automobile accident took her mother's life, Izzy hid herself away, surviving the only way she knew how. Now she is happy in her carefully reconstructed life. That is until he walks through the door of her bar...

Black Phoenix singer/front man Noah Clark came to Long Island City with a goal--one that doesn't include an instant, electric attraction to the dark-haired beauty behind the bar. Coaxing her into his bed won't be easy, but he can't get her pale, haunted eyes nor her skill on the piano out of his head.

Can Noah help Isabeau overcome the past? Or will her need to protect her secret force her back into hiding and destroy their chance at happiness?


Next has to be Nadia Lee’s, contemporary romance Carnal Secrets, another emotional story which details the relationship between Natalie Hall and billionaire Alex Damon, who reminded me of Edward Lewis from the movie Pretty Woman. Alex, however is far more appealing, innately seductive and confident. Their tempestuous romance and Natalie’s issues tugged at my heartstrings. Once I started this one, I couldn’t put it down.





After a rapid change in management, Natalie Hall is surprised to find that she's being promoted so quickly. But when it becomes obvious that the new CEO is interested in her on a more personal level, she pushes him away -- she doesn't want to repeat her past mistake of giving her heart to the wrong man.

A self-made billionaire, Alex Damon has his own reasons for pursuing Natalie. Her adoptive father, a powerful U.S. senator, is using his political clout to protect his friends the Rodales, who Alex intends to destroy for ripping his own family apart when he was a child. Furthermore, he suspects that Natalie is spying for the Rodales.

What he hasn't planned on is her unflinching sense of loyalty and integrity, the sizzling attraction between them that threatens to turn into something much more, and the dark secrets that can destroy them both.


Then there is the romantic suspense, Jamie Alden’s, Beg for Mercy, which sat in my TBR pile for a while before I picked it up and by the end of the first chapter I was completely entranced. A multilayered story, Beg for Mercy details heroine Megan Flynn's stalwart refusal to give up on her brother Sean who has been wrongly convicted of the heinous murder of a woman and has been sentenced to death. Ms. Alden crafts a gripping subplot involving a sociopathic serial killer who literally made my hair stand on end. The kicker is, the man Megan loves is Detective Cole Williams, who saw to it Sean was brought to trial and convicted. Can anyone say conflict? I thought this one was brilliantly crafted and am panting for the next book in the series Hide from Evil, which is Sean Flynn’s story and releases tomorrow. :-)





He lurks in the shadows, waiting and watching . . . And once he has you, all you can do is. . .

Megan Flynn thought she was falling in love. Cole Williams wasn't just handsome and passionate, he was one of the good guys. Or so she thought, until he arrested her brother-the only family she has left-for a murder she knows he couldn't have possibly committed. Now, with her heart broken and her brother's life hanging in the balance, Megan will risk everything to prove his innocence. Even if that means throwing herself into the path of a sadistic killer with a hauntingly familiar MO.

Seattle Detective Cole Williams had given up on making Megan see reason where her brother is concerned. But when she insinuates herself into the most shockingly brutal case Cole has ever worked, he can't stand idly by. Plunged into a secret world where the city's elite indulge their darkest desires, Cole will do whatever it takes to bring down a madman who has made Megan his most coveted prey.


Deacon’s Touch, erotic author Callie Croix’s debut novel about a former Pararescueman who due to a significant injury was forced to give up the career he loved. He has returned home to the Texas dude ranch he and his brothers own to try to get himself sorted out. Deke meets Jessie, a hard working, up-tight stock broker when she comes to the ranch to attend a Bachelorette party. Deke is a sexual dominant and Jessie is a repressed submissive. This is a hot sexually explicit erotic romance, and all I can say is the love scenes crafted for this hero and heroine equate with an emotional maelstrom. Callie Croix is better known as romantic suspense author Kaylea Cross and I can tell you she has a new fan. :)






After her own engagement goes to hell, workaholic Jessica Talbot dreads her friend’s bachelorette party at a dude ranch in Nowheresville, Texas. But the outlook for the weekend brightens when Deacon Dumen picks her up at the airport. The sexy cowboy awakens every dormant sexual fantasy with nothing more than a friendly smile and a handshake.

Ex-Air Force Pararescueman Deke Dumen doesn’t know what to make of the sexy yet reserved brunette who breaks through the walls he built after an injury ended his career and a divorce soured him on relationships. As a guest at his family’s ranch Jessie is off limits, but the Dom in him rebels at the restriction, even as he realizes his penchant for control in the bedroom would likely scare the holy hell out of her.

When Jessie shocks Deke by asking for exactly what he’s been craving, he’s ready to break the rules and introduce her to his own brand of dominance. Her willing surrender rocks them both to the core. But once the weekend’s over, they must decide if it was just a wild fling or the start of something more.


I've enjoyed a great year for reading so far but these among a number of others share a few things in common:

  • The books are keepers.
  • The plot and some of the scenes that are particularly moving stay vivid in my memory.
  • I return to these books again and again to re-read coveted passages or in some cases the entire story.
  • I've reviewed all of them.
  • I'm looking forward to reading more work from each of these authors.
  • If someone asks me about a book I've enjoyed this year that falls in the genres mentioned above I suggest one of these novels or novellas (or others that have fallen into my Awesome category).
  • Lastly, when a book such as the ones I've mentioned above impact me so powerfully, I have difficulty picking up another read for days after.

What about you? Any special, memorable stories that have stood out for you this year and qualify as "favorites"? Any new-to-you author's whose books you are going to watch for?

Tori and I will be back on the Island tomorrow talking about Genre confusion....and it doesn't take much to confuse me. lol Have a wonderful day everyone!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

This Time of Year

Just thought I'd start the day off with a little eye-opener ;)

Excuse me for being immature, but it's October 22nd. Which means soon, it's . . . . . . . .

HALLOWEEN!

Though I outgrew trick-or-treating in like, eleventh grade, Halloween is  still one of my all-time favorite holidays. The costume parties, the haunted houses, the bobbing of apples -- definitely a rush of blood to the head.

It isn't very widely celebrated here in Korea -- major sadness -- but I still bought costumes from an online shop. Just to get myself in the mood and all.
Parisian Provocateur - CostumeShips Ahoy - Costume
My options: slutty maid or slutty pirate.

Considering I won't actually be attending a costume party here (unless I host one.......hmmm...), I'm not quite sure why I have these. But I'll figure out a use for them sooner or later. I'll save them for next year when I'm back in the states if I must!

I suppose the excitement of Halloween is the same idea as the appeal of paranormal romance; people love the adrenaline, the supernatural, the magic of possibility. Even if nothing actually happens by the end of the night, we at least keep in mind that it is that initial, fluttering hope that makes it all worth it.

May your Halloween be magical!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Culture Shock

Understandably, Korean society and American society aren't exactly the same. I arrived knowing that, but there was one thing I didn't expect to be so different. . . . . .

The male population.

The above picture may be a gross over-exaggeration of what men are like here in Korea, but let me tell you, none of them are even remotely close to men of American standards. The majority of the guys here are more feminine than I am. And if you don't believe me, please allow me to give my extrapolations.

Exhibit A: The infamous earring
In terms of dating material, you know you're in trouble when your boyfriend wears more jewelry than you do. There are two different types of body piercings: the badass kind (see Josh Beech), and the incredibly girly kind. Looking at the photo, which do you think I classify Korean guys as?

Exhibit B: Le super super super skinny jeans
My only concern here, is that his butt looks better in these pants than mine does. That, and the fact that his family jewels may be suffocating a little (a LOT).

Exhibit C: The straightenings, the perms, the root-to-tip dye jobs
I just.... I can't even....... o.O

Exhibit D: The manigan (man + cardigan)
At least I know if I ever run out of things to wear, I can always borrow his clothes every once in a while.

So fashion-forward, these guys, no? I'm sure there are some more "American" guys here... I've yet to find one, however!

til tomorrow,

Thursday, October 20, 2011

What to Read?

Some of you may already know, but considering I haven't blogged in a really long time, most of you may not; in July, I made a move to Korea on an abroad program for school!

Wish I had some cool pictures to share with everyone, but unfortunately I A) Happen to be an awful photographer and B) Haven't gotten the chance to travel anywhere cool.... so here's a picture I took with my laptop. I call it A Room with a View:
I know this isn't that impressive, but trust me, it's way prettier at night. And when there aren't trees in the way.

Since I'm at an international school, I don't feel as much as a foreigner as I expected. What I did expect was to be much busier because of balancing classes with the foreigner-ness, and boy, have I put my money where my mouth is. I haven't blogged in SO long :'( and I only get to go to Seoul (the NYC of Korea; only about an hour away from my town!) once every few weeks. Welcome to the student life.

What I have been able to keep up with, however, is read. Of coooourrse. *Collective eye roll* Here's a picture of my book lovin':
Yes, I am the sort of freak who reads four or five books simultaneously. What can I say, I'm a restless person. One book is just not exciting enough for me ;)

Here's what's beside my bed:
Alison Wonderland by Helen Smith: About two-thirds of the way in, I like it so far -- it has a sort of a British charm and bluntness, but so far it's been really slow. The plot is interesting enough to keep me hanging on, but not enough to thrill me terribly. Be on the lookout for a review at my place soon!

Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice: Visiting the classics, oh yes! To be completely truthful, I haven't really started this one, LOL. But it is literally waiting at the side of my bed (as pictured above!), wishful of my TLC. Which I will give soon! Once the half-semester is over :)

Until There Was You by Kristan Higgins: My newest Harlequin obsession. I'm only about a quarter in, but I'm already in lurve. In lurve, I say! Kristan Higgins is a godsend to the contemporary romance genre.

Atonement by Ian McEwan: One of those books I know I would not have been able to get through, if it weren't for good ol' lit class. Just turned in my final analysis essay for this one, actually! It's a brilliant novel, but way too flowery and slow for me. I know it's a perennial modern classic and all, but come on; you and I both know I'm more of a penny dreadful kind of girl. Otherwise known as: cheap romance junkie.

The Things they Carried by Tim O'Brien: Just got into this one. It's in the same unit as Atonement for class. It's much more fast-paced (at least of what I've read so far), which means I like it better (so far). Me and my prejudgments. 

So what's everyone got beside there bed? Read anything good lately that you recommend? Dish! I'm always in search of new books to read, even though the list is unending.

,

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cover Alert and Excerpt from Scandal in the Wind by KT Grant

Excuse me while I pimp myself out. I was just sent the cover for my next release that will be released in a few days.

Scandal in the Wind is a Lesbian Historical Romance from Ravenous Romance.

Can I admit how excited I am at being called a "best selling author"?


Synopsis: Lily Odell was the belle of Charleston, South Carolina high society until her husband, Beau, walked out on her after believing she’d been unfaithful to him. Lily has always been devoted to Beau, although she has kept a dark secret concerning her relationship with her childhood girlfriend. Now Lily has been ostracized because of the gossip and lies and has no one to turn to for help.

Charleston’s most popular brothel madam, Mrs. Rose Ware, lives her life on her own terms and answers to no one. When she discovers Beau abandoned Lily and has thrown her out on the street, Rose takes Lily in until she can get back on her feet. Rose has always been attracted to the spirited and beautiful Lily, but kept her feelings to herself because of her wanton reputation and her past with Beau. Now that Beau’s out of the picture, she might have a chance to seduce the heartbroken Lily.

Lily wants revenge against Beau, and Rose is more than willing to help her. Soon both women come up with a plan, one that will scandalize Charleston, and expose a forbidden passion between a brothel madam and a genteel Southern lady.


How about an excerpt to tickle your fancy?

Lily placed her hand over Rose’s. “Why didn’t you come to me last night?” she asked.

Rose’s hand twitched as Lily drifted her fingers back and forth over the side of her stiff ones. She finally pulled away, dropping her arms to her sides. “You had Beau to take care of you. I wasn’t needed.”

“You’re a foolish, stubborn woman, Rose Ware,” Lily stated in an incensed voice.

Rose opened her mouth to argue, but not one peep left her, for Lily hands came around her head and gave her a kiss.

A deep moan left Rose, and when Lily’s fingers dug into the back of her nape, she pulled her roughly against her and kissed her greedily. She gave her open mouth kisses, which Lily received by opening her own mouth wide and tangling her tongue with Rose’s searching one.

By the time she needed air, Rose had pulled Lily’s hair out of her pins and her mouth was swollen and red. Her own throbbed, among other key areas on her body aching to be caressed and filled.

“I should make you angry more often,” Rose joked and spread her fingers through Lily’s hair, making a curtain over her shoulders.

Lily gave her a disgruntled look as she pressed her palms against Rose’s chest. Rose shifted to push her breast into Lily’s palm. Lily cupped her there, squeezing her flesh and causing her nipple to harden.

“I came here to talk to you.” Lily removed her hand.

Rose released a suffering sigh. “Then why did you kiss me just now? It makes me want to do other things besides talk.” Rose went over to the settee in the corner and patted the seat next to her. Lily followed and sat down, taking Rose’s hands in both of hers.

“I missed you and wanted to make certain you tasted the same like the last time I kissed you,” Lily said and turned Rose’s hand over to trace the lines on her palm.

Lily’s simple touch made her inner thighs slick and she pressed her legs tightly together to cover her arousal. First they would clear the air and then spend an hour or so involved in more amorous pursuits if she had any say.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A KT Grant Ponder: Is Research Important To You as a Reader?


Are you the type of reader who will mark down a book based on inaccuracies found in something you have read?

I've noticed lately if say, in a contemporary novel, the author has incorrect information about a character's profession (mainly the hero or heroine), book reviewers will call the author on it or give it a lower grade. Or in a historical romance, if events haven't occurred yet, or something hasn't been invented, but yet the event if mentioned or some sort of item  is used at one point, readers will become annoyed.

As an author who writes both contemporary and historical fiction, I'm full aware I have to do some research when writing a book. An example is with my soon to be release from Ravenous Romance called Scandal in the Wind. Scandal takes place in Charleston, South Carolina in 1871. This is a lesbian historical romance where a soon to be divorced Southern belle ends up in a sexual relationship with a Madam of a brothel.

When writing Scandal in the Wind, I had to keep in mind that two women, such as my heroines, couldn't be as public with the affections mainly because of the time and setting. Scenarios where women drink alcohol in public, including something as simple as having a newspaper sent to a house are two things I had to research. Also, the wardrobe for both men and women had to be correct. I even went as far as finding out what flowers and plant life are indigenous to that area.

Details and facts can be very important to some when reading, but in the end it's all subjective.

Are you one of these readers who expect the facts in the book to be correct or do you just shrug and go with the flow?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Talking to Myself in Funny Voices

Please welcome Jessica Freely to our island hideaway!

Thank you to the ladies of DIK for having me here today, and thank you for joining me as I celebrate the release of my new m/m erotic romance, Broken, the book that answers the question: What happens when the closeted younger brother of a mob boss falls for the boss's latest acquisition, a rent-boy from Hong Kong?

Broken is now available from Loose Id

For the first four months of sales I am donating half of my proceeds from Broken to Project Polaris, combating human trafficking and modern day slavery.

I'm thrilled to be here and to share with you a story about how Broken came to be.

Oh, but before I forget, I'm running a contest today and the winner gets a free copy of Broken. Please leave a comment to this post and you'll be entered. The lucky winner will be announced at the end of the day.

Do you ever wonder how a book goes from idea to completed project? Well, the truth is, no two writers work exactly the same way.

Sometimes, the process is different just from one project to the next. Take Broken, for example. This story began way back in 2007 when I was at YaoiCon. I had just met my first epublisher and the prospect of a fertile market for m/m stories had set my little brain on fire with story ideas. An hour before I caught the shuttle to the airport, I sat down and quickly jotted down several quick outlines. One of these was what eventually became my David and Seth series. Another was about a mob enforcer who falls for a rent boy.

That little kernel of a story sat in the back of my brain gestating for three years while I worked on other projects. By the time I started working on it last winter, it was ready to come out into the world.

Not just ready, bursting with eagerness.

The first draft was pouring out of me and right in the middle of it, I had another convention to attend. EPICon, in Williamsburg, VA. I live in Michigan, and I was driving. The prospect of taking a week off in the middle of this creative frenzy troubled me deeply. In the first place, I wasn't sure the project was going to let me put it on hiatus. In the second place, there's always the chance, when you bring a hurtling locomotive to a screeching halt, that it might run right off the rails. I couldn't risk that.

So I did something I've never done before.

I used a voice recorder.

I know, I know, big deal, right? Well it was kind of a big deal to me. I'd tried using one in the past, and it had felt odd and awkward and I hated the way my voice sounded on playback. That's what I sound like to other people? I'm never talking again! (Heh, fat chance of that.)

Anyway, whether it was my overwhelming need to keep creating Broken or something else, I got over myself and I used the voice recorder on the Evernote app on my iPhone. All the way from Detroit to Virginia, a trip I broke up into three days of driving, I ruminated on the story and talked to myself. Well, to my phone. In the evenings, I transcribed my day's notes and used that as a jumping off point for more writing, which in turn fed my brain for the next day, when I drove and talked out the book some more.

It worked a charm, and had the added benefit that now I have all these little audio clips that stand as a record to the process by which Broken came into being. Some of them are ideas or observations. The ones I like the best are the ones where I take on the roles of the characters and actually talk out their dialogue. (I use funny voices and everything.)

It worked so well I kept it up even after I got home. I was taking audio notes in the gym, in the coffeehouse, in the parking garage. And somewhere along the line, I got over the sound of my own voice, too, so much so, in fact that I've decided to share these little glimpses behind the scenes of Broken with the rest of the world.

From Aug. 30 through Nov. 10 every Tuesday and Thursday on my blog, I'm posting a mini podcast featuring one of my audio notes. They're short, almost always under five minutes long and often much less than that, and they cover everything from mobster birthday parties to notes for scenes that never made it into the book.

But my audio madness didn't stop there. I have a subscribers-only Yahoo! newsletter group. These are folks who have deliberately signed up to receive notices whenever I have a new release out. They are insane maniacs and I adore them. So of course I try to do something special for them whenever I can. That's why I've created an audio version of the first chapter of Broken. It's available exclusively to my newsletter members. (For more information on my group and how to join, go here http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jessicafreely/)

I love how writing just keeps pushing me out beyond my comfort zone. Thank you for accompanying me on this leg of my journey!

About Broken:
When the closeted younger brother of a mob boss falls for the boss's latest acquisition, a rent-boy from Hong Kong, it's either suicide or one last chance for two broken men to mend each other.

Buy Link: http://www.loose-id.com/Broken.aspx

Excerpt:
Eben had lied to his brother and made love, both for the first time, all in one day.

And now he and Xiu were supposed to go back to their regular lives and never touch each other again. The thought of that hollowed out Eben's heart and filled it with ice.

But the sight of Xiu waving a condom at him and grinning melted it all over again.

There'd be plenty of time later for real life. Eben pulled Xiu down and kissed him. "Good morning!"

Their naked bodies pressed together. Xiu's cock was hot and hard. He shifted his hips to rub it against Eben's own erection. They bumped and slid together, filling Eben with excitement and longing. This was their chance. Whatever they wanted, they had to do it now.

Eben sat up and took the condom from Xiu. He tore it open and started rolling it over Xiu's cock.

The expression on Xiu's face made Eben laugh. Mouth open and eyes wide, he looked like Eben had just brought a goat into the bed with them. "Seriously?"

"Yes, of course!" He paused. "Unless you don't want to."

Xiu opened and closed his mouth a few times before saying, "No, I do. I just -- Most guys I --" Xiu laughed too. "But what am I saying? You're not most guys. Yes, why not?"

"Exactly."

Xiu smiled and his dimple appeared. He watched, apparently mesmerized, as Eben finished rolling the condom down his cock.

Eben lay back and lifted his knees. "Now this is my first time," he said, grinning. "Be gentle with me?"

That got a burst of startled laughter from Xiu. "You are just --" He leaned forward and kissed Eben, pulled back and gazed into his face with glittering dark eyes that might have had tears in them, and then kissed Eben again. "Oyun. I will be gentle with you."

Xiu kissed his way down Eben's body. Every press of his lips and glide of his tongue awakened Eben's nerve endings until he hummed like a tightly strung wire. Precum dripped from his cock and beaded on his belly. Xiu dragged his fingers through it and painted circles and flowers on Eben's skin. Then he reached down and pressed his slick fingers to Eben's hole.

A jolt of adrenaline-laced excitement shot through Eben at that touch. He was a little scared. It was probably going to hurt but he didn't care. He wanted it anyway.

Wet heat enveloped his straining cock, derailing his thoughts. Xiu had one hand wrapped around the base of Eben's cock. He sucked Eben while he played with Eben's asshole. The warm, silken suction and the delicate dance of damp fingers combined to make Eben's head spin and his balls tighten. "Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!" He bucked up, helpless in the grip of Xiu's erotic mastery.

Xiu pulled off him for a moment and reached for the lube. He spread more on his fingers and then went back to sucking Eben's cock. One finger probed at Eben's opening, which fluttered in response to the gentle pressure. Slowly, Xiu breeched Eben's body. It felt weird at first, kind of uncomfortable, and then something deep inside Eben's body sparked to life and started to pulse, demanding more. "Oh!"

Xiu slid his finger in deeper, deeper, all the while working Eben's cock with lips and tongue. Eben was caught in a whirlwind of sensations, and then suddenly, Xiu's finger brushed that pulsing spot inside and Eben's whole world turned to molten joy. "Jesus!"

Eben's body seemed to suck Xiu's finger in now. He wanted more. More. He pushed down against Xiu's finger and then thrust up into Xiu's mouth, his hips moving as if with a will of their own. He reached down and stroked Xiu's silken hair. "Jesus Xiu. You… you…"

Xiu slid another finger inside Eben and joy turned to ecstasy, bright and sharp with need. Eben's balls drew up. Honey gathered in Eben's belly. "You better hurry. I'm… I'm…"

Xiu pulled off and readjusted his grip, grasping Eben's cock and the base of his balls and clamping down tight. The sweet fire in Eben's belly had nowhere to go now. All it could do was build as Xiu kept stroking the sensitive walls of Eben's channel with his fingers.

Eben had never felt anything like this. His hands and feet tingled. His cock throbbed. This was going to kill him but at least he'd die happy.

At last Xiu withdrew his fingers and shifted position. He leaned forward and kissed Eben. "Ready?"

"Oh my God! Yes, please!"

Xiu grinned and kissed the tip of Eben's nose. More lube and then the warm, slick, firm head of Xiu's cock nudged at Eben's body. It felt really big, but Eben was far past caring at this point. "Yes. Do it. Please."

Sweat beaded on Xiu's forehead as he slowly pressed inward, stretching Eben wider and wider. Eben struggled for breath. This is impossible. It… it… Oh! Suddenly, Xiu's cock slid all the way in and filled Eben with so much heat and pressure and pleasure that ecstasy seemed to flood every part of his body. And because Xiu still had a vise-like grip around the base of Eben's balls, it had nowhere to go except to take Eben higher. "Oh God!"

For a moment neither of them moved, and then Xiu very slowly withdrew, leaving Eben empty and aching to be filled again. When Xiu thrust forward again, his cock slid right over that little pulsing place inside and sent Eben reeling.

He whimpered when Xiu withdrew again, and bucked up to meet him at the next thrust. The same rhythm that had taken them the night before found them again and soon they were moving together as if they were one being. Ebb and flow, thrust and flex.

Xiu fucked Eben with relentless majesty, sweat dripping from his face to land on Eben's chest. Eben arched beneath him, lost in the tide of their passion, no longer able to distinguish one sensation from another.

Their pace quickened. Xiu released his stranglehold on Eben's balls and the knot of pleasure in Eben's belly that had been building and building all this time pulsed. Xiu reached down and stroked Eben's cock.

Eben's whole body jerked as every ripple and wave that had washed over him until then suddenly rushed to the base of his balls. He came, shouting and spasming, helpless in the grip of an orgasm that seemed to pour out from everywhere at once and wash him clean.

"Ling jan ging kei!" Xiu pumped into him. He leaned forward, capturing Eben's mouth with his as he thrust raggedly and then went still.

They clung together as aftershocks shook their bodies. Eben fully expected to find that they lay in the middle of a crater, but as it turned out, it was still just his bedroom, unchanged, though it seemed impossible that anything could be the same again after that.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Short Stories by Josephine Myles

Today is Jo's final day here at DIK and many thanks to her for saving my lazy arse filling in for me!  Today Jo is talking about something very close to my heart. The humble short story:




Short Stories

I know many readers aren’t that into short stories and much prefer sinking their teeth into an epic novel, but I absolutely adore them. Thanks to Jen and Tam setting up Brief Encounters Reviews, I now have a source of great reviews to help me choose my next m/m short story. I’m going to use their definition of a short story as being anything up to 20,000 words, which includes the whole spectrum from drabbles (100 words exactly) to novelettes.

Here are my top six reasons why short stories rock:

They’re quick to read

This is a huge bonus for me, as a busy mum and writer. Back when I had plentiful free time, I used to lose whole days devouring huge, brick-like novels, including lengthy fantasy series and classics like War and Peace. However, these days I generally only find the odd half hour at either end of the day to read, so I tend to lose track of where I am in a longer work. I really appreciate being able to finish a story in one sitting – or at least within a few days of starting it so I haven’t forgotten how it started by the time I reach the end.

They’re often free (or very cheap)

Okay, I know that the prices publishers charge can seem like a rip-off when compared to novel length stories, but the canny reader can find scores of free self-published short story ebooks out there – just try browsing the freebies at Smashwords and All Romance eBooks. And if you’re willing to read online, many publishers and writers have free shorts on their websites too.
I do buy individual short stories, but I also go for anthologies as they’re a great source of cheap short stories – the price per story is usually less than a dollar. There are also huge numbers of $0.99 short stories available on Amazon – usually self-published.

They’re great for sampling new authors

I’ve found plenty of new favourite authors through reading shorts in anthologies, and some new friends as well! This is why I think it’s so important that shorts are carefully drafted and edited – for me, they’re often the first (and possibly only) chance an author will get to hook me in. If I love someone’s short story I will always buy something longer by them.
They’re sexy

I have to admit, I won’t often buy novels that are pure erotica as I find it can get quite tiresome if the whole plot is sex, and there’s no guarantee of a happy ending. However, I’m perfectly happy to read erotica in short story format.

They force writers to get to the heart of the story

With a limited word count, writers don’t tend to include so much of the pointless filler scenes, convoluted backstory and info-dumps that can plague longer, poorly edited m/m novels (especially from certain publishers, who shall remain nameless). I’m not saying all shorts are perfect and I’ve certainly read a few duds in my time, but I think that writers tend to focus more carefully on their words when they have a limited number of them to make an impression. They’re also far less likely to lose sight of the central thrust of the story.

Another thing that consistently delights me when authors get it right, is the beautiful simplicity of a well-crafted short story. I love the fact that a story can be set entirely in one scene, or one location, or within a strictly limited time frame. Many of my favourite tv series episodes and plays are set in one location and unfold in real time, so perhaps it’s no coincidence that I love it when short stories do this too.

They let writers and readers experiment

There are plenty of sub-genres, tropes and themes out there that don’t grab me so much and I’d be wary of reading at novel length (including, but not limited to, dark fantasy, high fantasy, hardcore BDSM, kidnapping, space opera, vampires and shifters), but that I’m perfectly willing to sample in a short story. Similarly, I’m not all that interested in reading long novels that are either angst-fests or super-fluffy (I prefer a more nuanced mix), but I can handle shorts at either extreme.

Other things writers might experiment with in shorts, but which might become tiresome at novel length, are unconventional points of view (second person, for instance), present tense narration, dialogue only, and highly unsympathetic narrators. I can’t cope with being inside the head of a character I don’t like for a whole novel, but I’ll go with it for a short.
There are also shorts out there dealing with all kinds of kinks that don’t often make it to longer novels, including cross-dressing heroes. God, I’d love to see more of those at novel length!

***

So those are my top six reasons for reading short stories. What do you all reckon? Do you read many shorts, and if so, what are your reasons for doing so? And those who don’t care for shorts, I’d love to know why!

Oh yes, and if you want to read any of my short stories for free, you can find links to downloadable ebooks here, and the free reads on my website here.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Inexperienced Hero by Josephine Myles



Are any of you fans of the inexperienced hero? I’m not necessarily talking about virgins (although I’m happy to include them here), but those guys who’ve either never had a relationship before, or are entering into a new type of relationship for them. I’ve realised I really enjoy reading and writing these types of heroes, as there’s so much scope for conflict and character development as they negotiate their way through the minefield of a brand new relationship.

The virgin hero

I’ve got to admit, I don’t find enough of these as I’d like within m/m romance. Perhaps it’s because it’s hard to imagine someone getting it completely right the first time around, so no matter how beautiful the love story between two heroes in their early twenties, the realistic part of me doesn’t always hold a huge amount of hope for their HEA. I say this having recently written a novella featuring two young university student heroes, one of whom was a virgin at the start. I believe in their HEA, though – I have to!

Of course, you do occasionally find characters who stay virgins for longer (yes, it does happen), but the author needs to work extra hard to make the reasons for this convincing. Perhaps a past traumatic sexual experience if it’s a darker story, or maybe they’re just workaholics or painfully shy.

What’s more likely in m/m romance, is to find a hero who’s had sexual encounters with women, but is still a virgin when it comes to same-sex encounters. It takes skill to make a gay for you or out for you storyline work, but I really appreciate them when they do. Not only does this character have the fun of discovering what goes where in the bedroom, but they have to face the world as a gay man for the first time. They also get to find out all the ways in which sharing a relationship with a man is different to doing so with a woman.

Okay, I know men and women probably more similar than we are different, but I still think hormones have a lot to answer for. Testosterone is great for action and single-minded purpose, but it doesn’t necessarily help with compromise and domestic harmony. I’m just sayin’...

The never-had-a-boyfriend hero

These ones are great fun to write, because they can be as experienced as you like in the bedroom, but they’ve never before found anyone they wanted to settle down with. Watching them discover the trials and joys of having a life-partner can be by turns amusing, angsty and heart-warming. This was one of my favourite things about writing Dan in Barging In – he might have had boundless experience in terms of shagging his way around the world, but he didn’t have the first clue about how to behave as a boyfriend.

Of course, this type of character can be extremely angsty if their reasons for not having settled down are because of previous traumatic experiences, such as being abused or betrayed. I’m not quite so keen on these kinds of darker stories, but I know a lot of readers adore them.

The novice hero

These guys will have had regular relationships before, but are entering into a new kind of relationship for the first time. An awful lot of BDSM novels have one of the characters (usually a submissive) as a novice being initiated into a D/s relationship. I think this works really well for readers who are unfamiliar with these kinds of relationships, as it gives them an outsider’s view of a new world. They can share the novice hero’s new impressions, and are given the explanations they need to make sense of the power dynamics that a more experienced practitioner would take for granted. In many BDSM novels this is all the conflict you need – or all that the author sees fit to include, at any rate.

Alternatively, you can have someone who’s experienced as a Dom or sub, but is entering into a 24/7 Master/slave relationship for the first time. These books can be absolutely fascinating, but only ring true when they’re written by authors who’ve done their research diligently or lived the lifestyle themselves.

Ménage relationships are another great testing ground for the novice hero. Indeed, in many of these set-ups all three characters are entering into a ménage for the first time. Again, there is ample grounds for interpersonal conflict simply from the dynamics of three men trying to work out how to make this work – especially when it’s a form of relationship much of the outside world condemns. Not only do you have all the deliciousness of three guys in bed together, but you have three guys fighting over the duvet and who gets to sleep in the middle.

***

Those are some of my favourite kinds of inexperienced heroes in m/m, but perhaps you can think of more? Do you have any favourite novels to share that feature any of these types of hero? Alternatively, do you prefer your heroes to have plenty of previous relationship experience, and if so, why?

Please share!

Waving Hello to Josephine Myles

For my final two days at DIK I'm going to stop being controversial and hand some of my time over to my good friend and all round brilliant author, Josephine Myles.  Firstly for today here's a quick intro followed by a post about Inexperienced Heroes.  Over to you, Jo!


Hi there, Josephine Myles here – Jo, if you want less of a mouthful. Jen has very kindly let me take over the blog for today and tomorrow, so I’ll be lounging around and sharing some of my thoughts about inexperienced heroes in m/m romance and why I love short stories. I hope you’ll share your thoughts on those with me!

I’ve been writing m/m for the last couple of years and have had numerous short stories published, but my first novel didn’t come out until last month. Barging In is a contemporary m/m erotic romance set on the canal near Bath, and it allowed me to indulge my love of flawed heroes and narrowboats. Here’s the blurb and a short n’ sexy excerpt to kick things off:





Blurb:

When the boat's a rockin’, don't come knockin’!

Out-and-proud travel writer Dan Taylor can’t steer a boat to save his life, but that doesn’t stop him from accepting an assignment to write up a narrowboat holiday. Instead of a change of pace from city life, though, the canal seems dull as ditchwater. Until he crashes into the boat of a half-naked, tattooed, pierced man whose rugged, penniless appearance is at odds with a posh accent.

Still smarting from past betrayal, Robin Hamilton’s “closet” is his narrowboat, his refuge from outrageous, provocative men like Dan. Yet he can’t seem to stop himself from rescuing the hopelessly out-of-place city boy from one scrape after another. Until he finds himself giving in to reluctant attraction, even considering a brief, harmless fling.

After all, in less than a week, Dan’s going back to his London diet of casual hook-ups and friends with benefits.

Determined not to fall in love, both men dive into one week of indulgence…only to find themselves drawn deep into an undertow of escalating intimacy and emotional intensity. Troubled waters neither of them expected…or wanted.

Product Warning:

Contains one lovable tart, one posh boy gone feral, rough sex, alfresco sex, vile strawberry flavoured condoms, intimate body piercings, red thermal long-johns, erotic woodchopping, an errant cat, a few colourful characters you wouldn't touch with a bargepole, and plenty of messing about on the river.

Excerpt:

It was dark under the trees. As Robin waited for his vision to adjust, he concentrated on listening. There was a faint splashing sound off to his right, and he waited until Dan was finished before clearing his throat.

“Dan?”

A dark shape detached itself from the shadows and moved towards him. The next thing he knew, arms were snaking around his waist and he felt warm breath on his cheek.

“Robin? I hope that’s you.” Dan’s voice was low and seductive, but he held himself back as if expecting Robin to make the first move.

“It’s me,” Robin whispered, not trusting his voice to stay steady. All he could concentrate on was the press of Dan’s warm body against his, the scent rising from him, sweet and heady. His hands rose of their own accord, pulling Dan’s head closer as he closed in for a kiss.

Dan tasted of lager and marijuana, with that underlying sweetness Robin remembered from before. He moaned into Dan’s mouth, growing hard so fast it was painful. He grabbed hold of Dan’s arse and pulled him in tight, willing him to feel how much he wanted him. Dan responded by grinding his hips, and their erections rubbed together with an intense friction. Made Robin want to rip Dan’s clothes off and have him on the damp leaf litter.

But Dan had his own ideas, and Robin found himself stumbling backwards as Dan broke off the kiss and pushed him, his fall broken by a tree trunk. He panted, slightly winded by the unexpected blow. That was uncalled for! But then Dan slid a cool hand down the front of his trousers, and all other thoughts fled.

“Oh! This is a pleasant surprise,” Dan said, fingering Robin’s Prince Albert piercing in a way that made him whimper and push into Dan’s hand. “I think I’d better get a closer look.”

And when Dan sank down, unzipped Robin’s fly and exposed his aching prick to the cold night air, Robin needed the support of the tree behind him. Dan’s hot breath against the head of his cock made his knees buckle as he trembled with anticipation.

But Dan seemed determined to tease him, nuzzling, licking and touching him so gently it was an exquisite torture. Dan paid special attention to the piercing, and the way the ring moved under his tongue sent jolts of pleasure racing through Robin’s body. He gasped, his hands clawing at the bark. He had to stop himself from grabbing Dan’s hair and thrusting into his mouth. He wasn’t going to be that needy. He wasn’t that desperate. He wasn’t.

When Dan finally enveloped him in the moist heat of his mouth, Robin had to bite down on his hand to prevent a howl escaping. The relief that the torture was over barely registered—now he had to concentrate on not coming too fast. To hold back, to make it last. No matter how good. And oh, it was good. Dan knew what he was doing, taking him deep and making happy noises like Robin’s dick was the most delicious thing he’d ever tasted.

***

Barging In is available from Samhain Publishing, Amazon, and all good online bookstores.


Author bio:

English through and through, Josephine Myles is addicted to tea and busy cultivating a reputation for eccentricity. She writes gay erotica and romance, but finds the erotica keeps cuddling up to the romance, and the romance keeps corrupting the erotica. Jo blames her rebellious muse but he never listens to her anyway, no matter how much she threatens him with a big stick. She’s beginning to suspect he enjoys it.

For more about her published stories, regular blog posts and saucy free reads, please visit Jo’s website.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Heroes Who Cheat


Infidelity in a hero is a tricky topic, isn't it? And one that many readers just cannot stand to read about, to the extent that they DNF any book with a hint of infidelity. This has always been the case but recently I've seen a bit of an upsurge in general outrage over infidelity on sites such as Good Reads. I've read comments where people have outright condemned a whole book, no matter how well written, because one of the characters has cheated on the other. I've had readers email me to check whether there is any infidelity in a book I have reviewed because they wouldn't read it if there was, even if I had given the book a glowing review.

I've come to the conclusion that I must be a person of dubious morals because I'm willing to give a cheating character the benefit of the doubt and would never dismiss an entire book based on the flaws of one character. Yes, even one who is unfaithful. Now that doesn't mean to say that I condone infidelity, and certainly if a hero consistently cheats on the other hero/heroine throughout the book then I wouldn't like that man very much - indeed a man like that would be more akin to villain material than hero. I would also question why the person being cheated on would keep standing for that behaviour from their lover. However, there are occasions in a book when I enjoy an infidelity storyline because they often show a significant character growth, and I'm also very partial to a flawed character who makes mistakes.

This is the crux of the matter really: Is the infidelity a mistake, a product of a flaw in a character which needs to be addressed and resolved for love to flourish? If it is, then I'm willing to set aside any reservations and see where the book takes me.

Another thing to consider is the definition of what cheating is. This varies from person to person as can be seen from the following example:

I read a m/m romance book recently which a few people called a 'cheating book'. Now, I have to admit, I was scratching my head a little over why people felt it was a cheating book because I couldn't remember there being any cheating in it! Then I remembered the following scene: To set the scene, the hero is a man who in the past was used to sleeping around a lot. He meets another guy whilst on holiday and they spend a week together, promising afterwards to keep seeing each other long distance. Whilst back at home the hero is lonely, plus he and his lover have argued. He goes out with his friend with whom he used to have a 'friends with benefits' relationship, gets completely plastered and they end up at his friend's flat, kissing and getting naked. However, before the deed takes place, the hero comes to his senses and puts the brakes on.

Depending on your definition of cheating, then hero could be a cheater or not. The way I saw it was that the hero's natural inclination when going out was to pick up a guy and have sex and so the temptation, when back in his regular life away from the long distance lover, is to do what he's always done, especially when there was bad feeling between them at that time. The fact that he didn't go through with it, meant that he didn't cheat - therefore he had overcome his essentially flawed nature. However, I know that many of you will read that description and say that because he kissed and got half naked with someone other than the hero, then he is a big, fat cheater and deserves to be condemned as such.

Interesting, huh?

What I will say is that there has to be a reason why a hero cheats for it to be effective in a book, and it either has to further the plot or show us something of the character of the cheater. One of the most controversial cheaters I've come across in m/m romance is Jake Riordan from the Adrien English books by Josh Lanyon. Jake cheats on Adrien and his wife but still manages to remain sympathetic in my eyes because the author shows how much of a mess he is. The emotional fallout from his actions are what drives the romantic narrative and keeps me reading. I know not everyone agrees with me on this matter!

One final thing to say is that for me to truly forgive a cheater there must be a significant amount of grovelling done by the person who cheats towards the person cheated on. Preferable on their knees or prostrate on the floor with promises of endless chocolate/back rubs/blow jobs. Also once the cheating is done and all has been forgiven, then that will be it. The hero remains faithful to their dying day. Unless, of course the other hero/heroine suggests bringing a third into their bed, which is a different matter entirely!

Do you agree with me? Are you one of those readers who cannot tolerate any hint of cheating in your romance, or are you like me and have a certain fluidity when it comes to this theme? Do tell.
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