Guest Post: Jamie Fessenden on the Climb Up the Mountain

Jamie Fessenden is here today to talk about a cool mountain-climbing railway for the release of his new book, Murder on the Mountain.

Day Three of the Murder on the Mountain Blog Tour!

autumn_above_treelineThe Mount Washington Cog Railway always fascinated me as a child, but at about $65 a ticket (now—I don’t recall what it was at the time) it was out of my family’s price range. Alas, I still have yet to experience riding on the Cog. When my husband and I visited the area last December to research Murder on the Mountain, we stopped at the railway station, but the train wasn’t running.

First conceived of in 1852 by Sylvester Marsh, it took him six years to get permission to build the railway, largely putting up his own funds. But the Civil War intervened, and construction didn’t begin until 1866. By 1868, paying customers were riding the train, though it was still incomplete. It finally reached the summit in 1869.

It is the world’s first mountain-climbing cog railway, and the second steepest in the world, with a maximum grade of 37.41%. In order to deal with the steep grade of the tracks, it uses a cog (pinion) in the center of the engine, fit into a rack that runs the length of the track. It originally had boilers which were vertical, mounted on trunnions to keep them upright as the grade changed. Those have since been replaced by horizontal boilers, but as you can see in the photo, they’re positioned an angle so they remain relatively flat during the climb.

At one time, workers on the mountain used to ride “devil’s shingles” down the tracks to make the trip quickly. These were just flat sleds attached to the tracks, big enough for just one person. They plummeted down the mountain at about 60mph, reaching the bottom in about 15 minutes. The record was two minutes and forty-five seconds! Devil’s shingles were eventually banned, when someone accidentally killed himself on one.

For the next four weeks, Murder on the Mountain will be touring the blogs of several MM Romance authors. If you leave an email address in the comments or email me at, you’ll be entered into a drawing for either a free copy of Murder on the Mountain or a $40 gift certificate to Dreamspinner Press!

MurderontheMountain_coverWhen Jesse Morales, a recent college grad who aspires to be a mystery writer, volunteers to work on the summit of Mt. Washington for a week, he expects to work hard. What he doesn’t expect is to find a corpse in the fog, lying among the rocks, his head crushed. The dead man turns out to be a young tourist named Stuart Warren, who strayed from his friends while visiting the mountain.

Kyle Dubois, a widowed state police detective, is called to the scene in the middle of the night, along with his partner, Wesley Roberts. Kyle and Jesse are instantly drawn to one another, except Jesse’s fascination with murder mysteries makes it difficult for Kyle to take the young man seriously. But Jesse finds a way to make himself invaluable to the detective by checking into the hotel where the victim’s friends and family are staying and infiltrating their circle. Soon, he is learning things that could very well solve the case—or get him killed.


Guest Post: Ariel Tachna on Fact and Fiction

My guest today is the awesome Ariel Tachna, talking about her new novel The Path, which she researched up close and personal on a trip to Peru. :)

Integrating Fact into Fiction
by Ariel Tachna

How many times have we as writers made one comment or another about including someone who annoyed us in a book as revenge? How often have we modeled a character after a friend or loved one… or enemy?

peru1It’s so easy to do. After all these are people we know well enough to do justice to. The challenge changed for me when it came time to write an entire book based on something that really happened, and recently. Last August, my husband and I spent a week in Peru hiking the Inca Trail. It was the hardest thing I have ever done but also one of the most rewarding. I saw amazing things and met inspiring people. It came as no surprise, then, that I wanted to write about it and share that with my readers. Except I wasn’t writing about some generic setting I could move to another location to protect the innocent. The Inca Trail can’t be anywhere other than between Piskacucho and Machu Picchu. The guides and porters can’t be anyone other than Quechua Indians. Sure, I can make Benicio from Cancha Cancha when our guide Leonardo was from Ollantaytambo originally. I can create a fictional travel agency instead of the one we actually used, but how do I separate my real trip from the fictional story I want people to read about?

peru2Part of that comes from the romance. Our group of fourteen had six couples, two singles, and of course our two guides, but nobody met and fell in love (although Smith, our other guide, talked about a guide who had fallen in love with and ended up marrying a tourist in his group). So any romance I wrote into The Path was fictional. Smith and Leonardo were hilarious together, but they weren’t in love with each other. And from the pictures they had on their phones, they both had girlfriends to hold their attention when they weren’t on the trail together.

Part of making it fictional comes from drawing on the stories Smith and Leo told us about other groups they’d gone with instead of writing only about what happened while we were actually there. The climactic sequence at the end of The Path is based on an experience Smith shared, embellished with my own imagination, of course.

The rest of it, though, was accepting that it was okay to describe our experiences where they fit into the greater story. The tourists teaching Benicio to play bocce ball really happened. I really stood at the Sun Gate watching the light come down the mountain and into the valley and cried. In the end, it isn’t about fact or fiction. It’s about believability and the emotions of the story. Maybe some of the events didn’t happen or didn’t happen to me, but the experience of hiking the Inca Trail did, and I like to think that will carry over to my readers.

thepathcoverAll his life Benicio Quispe has dreamed of being a guide on the Inca Trail. He gets his chance when the top travel agency in Cusco, Peru hires him. Alberto Salazar, his assigned mentor, fits Benicio’s idea of a perfect guide, but he’s also everything Benicio never dared to dream of in a boyfriend.

Alberto learned a long time ago to be discreet about his sexuality. It’s a necessary sacrifice to keep the respect of the guides and porters whose help is critical in a successful hike. So he pushes aside his attraction to his new junior guide and goes on as usual. But when a group of old friends arrives to hike the trail again, they convince him a relationship with Benicio is worth pursuing. His newfound resolve is enough to get them on a first date, but no amount of courage can change the attitudes of their family and friends. The risks on the trail are easy compared to finding a path through the challenges keeping them apart.

Buy from Dreamspinner Press

Ariel Tachna lives outside of Houston with her husband, her daughter and son, and their two dogs. Before moving there, she traveled all over the world, having fallen in love with France, where she met her husband, and India, where she hopes to retire some day. She’s bilingual with snippets of four other languages to her credit and is as in love with languages as she is with writing.

Web site:
Twitter: @arieltachna

One Does Not Simply GO to @DragonCon


Well, once again it’s time for me to gird my loins for a week at Dragon Con. Yes, I’m well aware that Dragon Con is a four-day convention. I am a crazy person who volunteers, so I’m on site Wednesday afternoon, and I don’t schlep out of there until lunchtime in Tuesday. In between, I’ll mostly be in the Chicago Room of the Hyatt Regency or snoring into a pillow in my hotel room, though I do hope to be able to emerge into common areas and maybe catch a meal or a drink with friends here and there.

logoThis will be my ninth trip to Dragon Con, my eighth straight as a volunteer. I went for a day once in about 1998, when I was deep into fandom for “The X-Files,” but it wasn’t until 2007, after I moved back to Atlanta from my New Jersey exile, that I looked into going again. I discovered the Daily Dragon, the on-site publication, and contacted the editor, Eugie Foster, asking if she needed any volunteers. She did, as it turned out. She’d tried several people to do layout for the print issue that’s handed out each morning, but none had gotten the job done. She’d been ready to give up, but she gave me a shot… and at the end of the weekend, begged me to come back. I told her I’d be delighted. LOL

My tasks have morphed and grown over time. I now do editing work for the larger publications department, including editing guest bios and panel descriptions, and this year I helped out with some film festival editing, too. August always gets a little hectic with everything needing to be done at once—including planning and packing for the actual con!—but it’s all too much fun to give up.

I did decide to simplify things this year and forgo costuming. I’m going to stick to jeans and geeky t-shirts in the name of comfort. Plus, I usually end up in what amounts to jammies for my late-night volunteer shifts anyway. I might go for some interesting hair color to make up for the lack of costuming, though.

Despite the listing of Dragon Con on my appearances list, I won’t actually be doing anything as my author self. No panels this year, and none of my publishers are doing anything. But I’ll be there, of course, and anyone who’d like to meet up is welcome to email or tweet at me, and I’ll do my best.

Really, though, the best way to find me will be to find the Daily Dragon offices, especially after 10 p.m., and ask for Shae. Because that’s where I’m most likely to be!


Guest Post: L.M. Brown and Life Under the Sea

Today my guest is L.M. Brown, with an inside look at her newest release, Forbidden Waters, the first book in the Merman & Magic series from Totally Bound. It’s a ménage, so you know I’m in!

Jake Seabrook is a regular human with no idea that there are mythical beings living their lives beneath the surface of the ocean. His concerns don’t revolve around sunken cities or anything else to do with the ocean.  He has returned to the coastal town he grew up in after travelling for a year. If he were to be completely honest, he’d admit he has spent the last year running away from the feelings he has for his best friend, Alex.  Unfortunately for Jake, Alex is straight and all they will ever be is friends.

Leaving town didn’t help him get over Alex, so now he has returned, hoping to at least get their friendship back on track, if he can pluck up the courage to face those he walked out on.

Making amends takes second place when Jake and Alex find what appears to be a body on the beach.  The naked man isn’t dead, but is in definite need of assistance.

Taking the stranger under his wing Jake can’t help being attracted to the handsome man who speaks no English.  It’s difficult to hide your feelings when your unexpected flatmate spends most of his time naked.

For Jake the surprise of finding a naked man on the beach is only the first of many shocks he has to face.  Not only does he have to come to terms with the knowledge that beings he thought were myths actually exist, he has to face some harsh truths about himself.

Having harboured feelings for his friend for so long, Jake has always considered himself a one man kind of guy.  But what happens when the man you’re in love with is in love with someone else as well?  Do you give him up and let the better man win?  Do you fight for him and potentially break another’s heart?  Or do you choose the third option?

For Jake the big question is whether it is possible to love more than one person.

forbiddenwaters 200x320To save his clan from ever-increasing shark attacks, merman Kyle seeks sanctuary for his people in the sunken city of Atlantis, even though he knows that as a homosexual merman, he will be sacrificing his own chance for love. Love finds him anyway in the form of Prince Finn, the rebellious young heir to the Atlantean throne.

When their relationship is discovered, Kyle is the one to pay the price. Banished from the oceans, he seeks shelter in England and finds a new love with human, Jake Seabrook. 

For Jake, Kyle is the chance to move on from the crush he has on his straight best friend. The strange man he found naked on the beach seems to fit into his life with ease.  If only Kyle weren’t keeping secrets from him, Jake could see them having a future together. 

Things are not what they seem for either of the men and when Kyle discovers the truth about Finn, he knows he must return to Atlantis. 

Three men, a tangled relationship, and one chance for happiness—if they can trust enough to take it.


Jake’s phone vibrated in his pocket and he pulled it out. He sighed when he saw Alex’s name on the screen as the incoming call. He hadn’t spoken to him for eleven months, just sending the occasional text while avoiding Alex’s attempts to phone him. Jake guessed Summer had clocked him on the street and given Alex the heads up.

The temptation to hit the reject button yet again was strong, but he knew he’d merely be putting off the inevitable.

“Hi, Alex,” he greeted his oldest friend.

“Don’t ‘Hi, Alex’, me like you didn’t just fuck off out of town for a year. When did you get back?”

“Last night.”

“And you didn’t think maybe I’d want to know you were back in town?”

Jake bit back a snide comment about Alex needing advance warning to cover his arse, but he knew his friend didn’t deserve it. It wasn’t Alex’s fault his gay best friend had fallen for him. Alex had done everything he could to be supportive of Jake.

“It was a last minute decision,” Jake said instead. “I’m not even sure if I’m going to stick around.”

“All the more reason to pick up the damn phone and tell your best friend you’re here,” Alex shouted. “Where are you?”

“Just walking the dog on the beach.”

“You have a dog?”

“Yeah. We kind of adopted each other.”

“Cool. I’ll be there in five minutes. Don’t you dare run off!”

The line went dead before Jake could reply. He guessed Alex still lived with his father in the luxurious beach house at the other end of the beach. Sure enough, he soon spotted Alex trotting across the sand. Alex came to a halt several feet in front of him.

“You’re finally back,” Alex said.

“Yeah, for the moment at least.”

Alex narrowed his eyes and when Jake drew level with him, he punched him hard on the arm. “That’s for taking off without a word to anyone, you git.”

Jake guessed he deserved the hit, as well as the second strike that came a few seconds later. “What was that one for?”

“For ignoring my calls. The only reason I didn’t call out a search party for you was because you occasionally updated your Facebook page with pictures of you on your travels.”

“I texted you.”

“After you’d been gone for three weeks. I was going out of my bloody mind worrying about you. We all were.”

Jake focused his gaze on the water. “I’m sorry. I just had to get away for a while.”

“I get that. What I don’t understand is why you couldn’t have said goodbye or let us know you were okay.”

Jake didn’t have any justification for what he had done. Alex was absolutely right. He could have done something other than packing up his bags in the middle of the night and hitching a ride out of town because he didn’t want to wait for the first train the next morning.

Buy Link

About the Author

L.M. Brown lives in England, in a quaint little village time doesn’t seem to have touched. No, wait a minute—that’s the retirement biography. Right now, she is in England in a medium sized town no one has ever heard of, so she won’t bore you with the details. Keeping her company are numerous sexy men. She just wishes they weren’t all inside her head.

L.M. believes there is nothing hotter or sweeter than two men in love with each other… unless it is three.

L.M. Brown loves hearing from readers so don’t be shy.

Website & Blog:
Twitter: @LMBrownAuthor


COVER REVEAL: All in a Day’s Work

We have a gorgeous cover for the upcoming anthology All in a Day’s Work! Just check THIS baby out:



I’m happy to be sharing space with some amazing authors for this anthology of workplace-themed short stories. My contribution is titled “Ice Cream Dreams,” and here’s the blurb:

Gage Albert is working at his Uncle Gordon’s ice cream shop when well-regarded young chef Loren Rey stops by, interested in using the shop’s unique flavors for his new restaurant. Gage plies Loren with samples and banter and soon finds ice cream isn’t the only thing on the menu. After the men share a hot night together, Gage approaches his uncle about Loren’s ideas, but he fears Gordon’s religious nature may mean rejection not just for Loren but also for Gage, who isn’t out to his uncle. Torn between the business and the personal, Gage has to decide if a future with Loren is worth revealing all.​

Pre-orders coming soon! (And the paperback will be available to pre-order for GayRomLit!)

It’s My Book-iversary, and I’m Giving Away A Copy!

Sand&WaterLGToday is the third anniversary of the publication of my first novel, Sand & Water. Wheee! To celebrate, I’m offering up one ebook copy in the format of your choice. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post and tell me you want it! Here’s the blurb to help you decide if you do. :)

Widower John McConnell gets along fine raising his daughter on Georgia’s Tybee Island, though he wouldn’t exactly say he’s happy. Haunted by the memory of his dead wife, John hasn’t considered dating again until he meets Bryan Simmons in the park. It isn’t long before John realizes that what he feels for Bryan could be something real, but how will he know he’s ready to move on?

As John soon discovers, Bryan carries some heavy emotional baggage of his own. With John’s help, Bryan starts to put his demons to rest, and together they lay the foundation for a relationship. It looks like they might finally leave their tragedies behind them—until John takes a misstep that could turn a magical night together into their last.

Guest Post: Brynn Stein on Writing Style

Today I’m happy to welcome Brynn Stein to talk about her new release, Living Again, and her writing style—a subject I love to hear about for any author!

I’m enjoying my blog tour so far, and have gotten a fair number of responses for my give away. If you haven’t seen any of my other stops on this tour, here’s how the giveaway will work. Comment below, and go to as many sites listed in the blog schedule listed here and comment there as well. Each blog you comment on will earn you one entry for my giveaway. Three prizes will be given. One signed paperback copy, and two electronic copies of Living Again.

Now to talk about other things.

For this stop, let’s talk about my writing style.

I tend to be a person who likes to plan and organize. I have responsibilities and even fun activities planned two months in advance, if at all possible. I actually almost didn’t have a second date with my husband because every time he asked, “what about such and such date”, I’d tell him, “oh, that’s when I’m going here or doing that.” He thought I was blowing him off and just didn’t want another date. But, I actually did have things planned that far ahead.

So, you’d think that my writing style would reflect that. You’d think that I’d have outlines and flow charts and know exactly what was going to happen. I could picture me with timelines and banks of quotes to use throughout the story, probably even in order. Very organized and methodical.

I get the story in fits and starts in my head, usually while driving. The longer the drive the more of the story I get, but not necessarily in order. I also dream it, but again, not in order. By the time I actually sit down at the keyboard I have a good idea of what will happen in the story. A general outline, if you will, in my head. But not quite every detail.

Once I start writing, it just flows. The characters natter away at me, and I just write what they say. Sometimes I end up in entirely unexpected places, but the characters assure me that is exactly what happened, so I just write it down.

Usually they have the common curtesy to tell me the story in order. With Living Again, they told it in order (both in its fan fiction incarnation and the current one). I struggled to keep up. The story just flowed from my head to the page. It was a joy to write. It was like I was watching a movie in my head and was like a courtroom stenographer, writing fast and furiously just to get everything down as it happened.

In an upcoming story, For Mac, due out in March, the details didn’t come in order at all. It was all over the place. I had the basic idea, but from what I had, I figured it was going to be a novella. There wasn’t enough detail for me to think that it was going to be very long. Once the characters got going though, the thing turned out to be over 85000 words. But they came out of order.

I had written the basic story. It had a beginning, middle, and end. It was short, and to the point. Okay, but missing the heart. The characters then led me on a merry chase for that heart. They said, ‘oh yeah, we forgot to tell you about one of the characters.’ It was a minor character, but he really needed to be there, and of course, he popped up throughout the story. When I wrote about him in one place, it affected how the characters would act throughout the rest of the story, so I had to seek out the other scenes that he needed to be in. It was nuts, and my characters just sat back and laughed at me. I swear they did.

That was the only story to date that I did end up with an outline of sorts. I used the headings in word to be able to navigate from one part of the story to another because, for that one, I kept going backwards and forwards. It was definitely not written in my usual style.

What about you, writers? Do you plan and organize? Or does your story just flow? Have you ever had that one story that just delighted in not fitting into your usual style?

Readers, what about you? Do you plan for projects, hobbies, etc? Or do they just pop up. Has there ever been something that went against your usual style? That one vacation that you didn’t plan for, but just found yourself on the beach even though you usually plan everything months in advance? Or that remodeling project that you planned out thoroughly, with charts and diagrams and stages outlined in advance, even though you tend to be a fly by the seat of your pants person?

Leave me your comments. I’d love to know what you think. And here’s a link to my Blog Tour Schedule. Thanks so much for stopping by today. Please pay a visit to these other blog sites as well. Don’t forget, the more you comment, the greater your chance of winning a copy of Living Again.


Daniel Larson has walled himself off from any possibility of romance since his lover died violently five years ago in Afghanistan. The same bomb that ended his partner’s life took the lower part of Daniel’s left leg. The only support Daniel has, his Uncle Lawrence, is dead-set against anything homosexual, including Daniel.

Now, a popular language teacher at the local university, Daniel’s suffering from a car accident that broke his one good leg. His uncle, who is much better at throwing money at things than offering emotional support, provides a rented power chair and a private in-home nurse. Unbeknownst to his uncle, the nurse comes in the form of a man named Jonah Thacker.

Instantly attracted, Daniel and Jonah fight their mutual feelings in favor of professionalism. They become friends anyway, and Jonah shares his life with Daniel, including his handicapped son, Ethan. As Jonah and Daniel grow closer, Daniel becomes more involved in Jonah and his son’s lives, even being there for Ethan when his medical conditions worsen. But when Daniel’s uncle finds out the nurse he’s hired is male, he uses all of his resources to keep Jonah and Daniel apart.

Buy Link: Dreamspinner

(links to other sites from the Goodreads page are not yet active)

About the Author

Brynn Stein has always loved to write. Fan fiction, original fiction, whatever. While Brynn wrote in numerous genres—everything from mystery, to contemporary, to supernatural—she had always tended toward strong male characters. And then she discovered “slash,” male/male romance, and all those strong male characters were finally allowed to express their love for one another. It seems that there are always at least two characters clamoring to tell Brynn their story.

Brynn lives in Virginia with one of her two two-legged children, and two four-legged ones. Her supportive family encourages her writing and provides a sounding board for fledgling stories. When she isn’t writing, Brynn teaches children with special needs. In free time, when such a thing exists, she reads anything she can get her hands on, and haunts bookstores. She draws and paints, and enjoys the outdoors—especially if she can get to the beach—and is always thinking about her next story.

Please feel free to contact Brynn at any of the following:

Friday Feedbag: Party Food


As some of you may recall, we had a fabulous 50th anniversary party for my parents last weekend. And it was fabulous! We kept things as simple as possible, in part by ordering food trays from Publix for the bulk of the food, as well as a cake from a local bakery. My aunt made brownies, Mom made punch, and a cousin made pimiento cheese spread. We ended up with a LOT of leftovers from the food trays (especially cheese and veggies), but since I still came in around the total cost I had in mind, it didn’t matter. (We gave one veggie tray to a friend and a cheese tray and some other leftovers to the local soup kitchen.)

Here are a few pics of the feast! My aunt and I did the table decorations. :)

The couple topper is the original from Mom and Dad's wedding. The 50 topper is from my grandparents' 50th anniversary party!

The couple topper is the original from Mom and Dad’s wedding. The 50 topper is from my grandparents’ 50th anniversary party!

Food table, part 1

Food table, part 1 …

... and food table, part 2!

… and food table, part 2! The silver punch bowl at the far end was originally bought for my grandparents’ 25th anniversary, the year I was born.

Monday Music: Cribbing Off Shira’s Blue Notes

My busy weekend meant I never had time to queue up a post for today, so I’m going to borrow from Shira Anthony’s musical post about her new story, Dissonance, which comes out on Friday from Dreamspinner. It’s the latest in her fabulous Blue Notes series, and she’s put together a playlist to go with it. Check out her post and the accompanying (heh) links here!

Happy Anniversary to ME!

rainbowheartsparkleIt’s all kinds of appropriate that I’m throwing an anniversary party tomorrow. Four years ago tomorrow—August 2, 2010—I got “the call,” in the form of an email from the fabulous Elizabeth North at Dreamspinner Press, offering me a contract for my first novella, Model Student.

It’s been a hell of a ride since then. I couldn’t begin to thank everyone who’s been involved in this journey I’ve been taking (because I know I’d forget someone!), but a good place to start would be my ever-awesome beta readers Dani and Kat, plus everyone else who’s edited for me; all the staff at Dreamspinner, Wilde City, and my other publishers; and all the friends, readers, and fellow authors who’ve kept me going.


*dashes off to finish party prep*