“What Happened in Vegas??” Blog Hop Schedule

Vegas-Hop-Graphic
Thanks to some awesome authors and bloggers, the “What Happened in Vegas??” Blog Hop kicks off on Monday and run through August 31. Posts will generally appear on Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays. I’ll be updating the list with direct links to all the posts as the hop goes on. Each post will highlight an LGBT charity, so be sure to check those out!

Here is the complete schedule:

8/3 Shae Connor The Novel Approach
8/5 Kelly Jensen Charley Descoteaux
8/10 Holley Trent Kelly Jensen
8/12 Grace R. Duncan Prism Book Alliance
8/14 Ann Anderson Anne Barwell
8/17 Jenn Burke Dirk Greyson
8/19 Jana Denardo J.P. Barnaby
8/21 Anna Zabo Hearts on Fire
8/24 C. J. Anthony Love Bytes
8/27 Nicole Dennis Joyfully Jay
8/29 JP Barnaby Bike Book Reviews
8/31 Hunter Frost Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

From New York, With Love

I’m just home from a whirlwind trip to New York for the 2015 Romance Writers of America conference. It was a fabulous week, filled with meet-and-greets with lots of author friends plus a few NYC locals, plus some really good content on the pro-writing side of things.

I only made it to two panel sessions during the conference, but both were great. The first, “Diversity in Romance: Why It Matters,” featured five authors (four POC authors) who had wonderful things to say about, well, why diversity matters. One of the panelists, Alisha Rai, compiled a Storify of many of the tweets from the panel. (I especially loved her “duke-fic” analogy, LOL.) The second panel, “The Human Experience: Throwing Away Stereotypes and Creating Realistically Diverse Characters through Empathy,” included the awesome Farrah Rochon, who was also on the first panel (and who I assured I was not stalking!), and Suzanne Brockmann.

Yes, diversity was a big topic of discussion at RWA this year. It’s one of the ongoing issues in the romance genre, and one that’s changing, albeit slowly. Romances about and written by people of color, LGBT people, and people with disabilities are gradually becoming more and more common and are working their way into the “mainstream” of the genre, rather than being relegated to the sides—though that still happens too. It’s a slow process to change decades of industry practice, but many amazing, smart women are making it happen.

(Adding a bit to the discussion, while I was at RWA, my July Outside the Margins post went up: Mainstreaming the Rainbow.)

One of the best things about RWA is that the “official” events are just the tip of iceberg. I attended a grand total of four events: the Literacy Autographing, the two panels, and the RITA/Golden Hearts awards ceremony. The rest of my time was spent in small groups or one-on-one discussions with other industry professionals. I was part of a critique workshop on Thursday afternoon that gave me some great insight into one of my works in progress, had a meet-up with members of a Facebook author group, and ate several meals with author friends. But mostly, I spent many hours just hanging out in the lobby, chatting with whoever was around. I met so many people I’m afraid to list them for fear of leaving some out!

So now I’m back home, tired and brain-dead, but at the same time energized and ready to dive back into my works in progress. Too bad I’m still booked up with Dragon Con and my sister’s wedding on the horizon!

J. Scott Coatsworth on Finding Inspiration and Following Where It Goes

My guest today is J. Scott Coatsworth, telling the stories behind the stories for his two new releases, “Between the Lines” and “The Homecoming.”

People often ask me how I get inspired – where I get the ideas for the stories that I write.

They come from all sorts of places, depending on the story.

Case in point – I have two different novellas coming out in July, my first stand-alone stories, and they have very different themes and backgrounds.

The first, “Between the Lines”, out from Dreamspinner on 7/15, is the story of a chief of staff for a state lawmaker, and the curious things that happen when he discovers a medallion that lets him see the words behind the words people say.

I’ve been writing for a long time, but with some big gaps, and Between the Lines started out as a story fragment called “The Box”. I wrote it in a sitting or two, one of those “let’s open up a blank page and see where it goes” sort of things, and then it sat on the shelf for a decade or two.

Flash forward to 2014, and I needed something to submit to Dreamspinner’s “Random Acts of Kindness” anthology. I pulled this one down and dusted it off, and thought it would make a perfect entry. I plotted out a direction for the rest of the story and set about writing it, using my current hometown of Sacramento as the backdrop, and voila, a full fledged story.

It was rejected for the anthology, but DSP encouraged me to extend it and resubmit it as a stand-alone, and once I did, they bought it.

The second novella, “The Homecoming”, also started out as a story fragment, albeit with a much longer history. In elementary school and junor high, I used to draw maps of this world, Antana, that experienced regular worldwide floods. I built a whole history for the world, and then one day I started out a story with the idea of an expedition back from Antana to old Earth – what if Earth was taken over by intelligent wolves?

Less Than Three called for submissions for an anthology “Lovely, Dark and Deep”, about things that happen in the forest. Once again, something off my dusty shelves seemed perfect. I pounded out the story, where the wolves were now werewolves, and submitted it.

And here, too, I was rejected, but with a request to resubmit the story as a stand-alone. I did, and three days later, they said yes.

The takeaway here is that inspiration can come from a myriad of sources.

And you never know when an idea you discarded a few years back will finally come into its own.

BTLcoversmallPublisher: Dreamspinner Press
ISBN: 978-1-63476-235-9
Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson
Length: 15k
Format: eBook
Release Date: 7/15
Price: 3.99

Brad Weston’s life seems perfect. He’s GQ handsome, the Chief of Staff for a Republican California State Senator, and enjoys the power and the promise of a bright future. And he’s in a comfortable relationship with his boyfriend of six years, Alex.

Sam Fuller is Brad’s young, blond, blue-eyed intern, fresh out of college, running from a bad break-up, and questioning his choices and his new life in politics. To make things worse, Sam also has a thing for the boss, but Brad is already taken.

While looking for a gift for his boyfriend, Brad wanders into a curiosity shop and becomes fascinated by an old wooden medallion. Brad’s not a superstitious man, but when he takes out the medallion in his office, he sees the world in a new light. And nothing will ever be the same.

Buy Links

Dreamspinner
Amazon
Kobo
Barnes & Noble
All Romance Ebooks

THcoversmallPublisher: Less Than Three Press
ISBN: 978-1-62004-583-1
Cover Artist: London Burden
Length: 20k
Format: eBook
Release Date: 7/29
Price: 3.99

When his own world is destroyed, Aldiss and his crew barely manage to escape, leaving friends and lovers behind. What was meant to be an exploratory trip back to the home world turns into a mad dash for survival.

When they awaken from stasis on Earth, which was abandoned by humanity five centuries before, they must quickly learn about their new home. While exploring the region around the ship, Aldiss meets Hari, a shape-changer, whose people harbor secrets that might cost the crew their lives.

Buy Link: Less Than Three

About the Author

j-scott-coatsworthScott has been writing since elementary school, when he and won a University of Arizona writing contest in 4th grade for his first sci fi story (with illustrations!). He finished his first novel in his mid twenties, but after seeing it rejected by ten publishers, he gave up on writing for a while.

Over the ensuing years, he came back to it periodically, but it never stuck. Then one day, he was complaining to Mark, his husband, early last year about how he had been derailed yet again by the death of a family member, and Mark said to him “the only one stopping you from writing is you.”

Since then, Scott has gone back to writing in a big way, finishing more than a dozen short stories – some new, some that he had started years before – and seeing his first sale. He’s embarking on a new trilogy, and also runs the Queer Sci Fi (http://www.queerscifi.com) site, a support group for writers of gay sci fi, fantasy, and supernatural fiction.

Website: http://www.jscottcoatsworth.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jscottcoatsworth

Coming Next Week, It’s RWA Time!

I am just a wee bit excited that a week from tomorrow I’ll be getting on a plane headed to New York for the 2015 Romance Writers of America conference. In addition to three full days of panels and workshops focusing on the profession of romance writing, I’ll be visiting friends, meeting new ones, and attending the Saturday night ceremony for the RITA and Golden Heart awards (the “Oscars” of the romance genre).

If you’ll be in the New York area on Wednesday, July 22, you can get to see many of your favorite romance authors, including me, at the “Readers for Life” Literacy Autographing. More than 480 authors will be signing books, with all proceeds going to benefit three literacy-focused charities. You can get more information and check out the full list of authors here.

Hope to see you there! :)

literacy promo

K. Lynn on NaNoWriMo Success and Crossing Gender Lines

My guest today is K. Lynn, another author who’s won the National Novel Writing Month challenge of finishing a novel in a month. She’s here to talk about the finished product, His Womanly Ways.

I’ve written a number of manuscripts over the past few years, full-length novels that are in different levels of editing. And I’ve written quite a few short stories and novellas, all of which have been published to date. However, I’ve only done NaNoWriMo once. The push to write at such a fast pace, in such a short time, is both freeing and terrifying. But, I figured I’d give it a try once. And as a result, I completed the first draft of His Womanly Ways.

This novel is unlike my usual fare of works, and perhaps that’s why it came so fast to me. I let myself go and just saw where the plot would take me. And it turns out that it took me to quite an interesting place. The only thing I knew going in was that I wanted to do a genderswap book, but one that was unlike those I had read prior. I have always been interested in the genre, but I find most of it jumps straight to objectification rather than exploration. You’re turned into another gender, so the first thing you do is feel yourself up and try to have sex with the nearest willing person? I don’t buy that.

Essentially your body doesn’t match your inner self anymore. That should cause some kind of journey to either accept or reject the situation. That’s what I tried to do with His Womanly Ways. Alex didn’t ask for this to happen to him, and the process is gradual, as is his acceptance of the changes. His mind doesn’t match the image he sees in the mirror, and that’s important to realize.

hiswomanlyways_smallAlex is a womanizer. He makes no excuses for it. Yes, he picks up women at the local bar, leaving them with just a memory of a good night and a good lay, but he hasn’t had any complaints yet. That is, until he picks up the wrong woman. Not satisfied to be tossed aside as just another notch in Alex’s bedpost, she curses him, wishing he “knew what it was like for a woman.” And he’s about to find out what she means, embarking on a genderswap journey that he can’t stop.

Alex starts slowly gaining secondary female characteristics. Waking up with his cock gone, replaced by a vagina, was bad enough. Then it gets worse, as his body becomes more like a woman than the man he used to be. Alex tries to hide the changes he’s going through, for fear that someone will discover his secret, but keeping this quite literally “under wraps” might be impossible before the curse runs its course.

With the help of his female best friend, Eve, Alex tries to deal with who he is becoming.  He feels like he’s lost his identity, his mind not matching the body he now has. But Eve sticks by him, and they become closer as Alex’s changes progress. What started out as friendship may become something more before Alex’s journey is over. Perhaps this curse was actually a blessing in disguise.

Did I strike the right balance between humor and drama? Create an interesting storyline with realistic characters, despite the extraordinary circumstances they are in? That’s up to the reader to decide, but I do hope I provide a new way to look at the concept. Because a change in gender is not something to take lightly.

Buy Links:
Torquere
Amazon

About The Author:

writerklynnK. Lynn has been an avid reader and writer since childhood. While in college, K. Lynn increased her involvement in LGBT issues and writing within the LGBT fiction genre. She has become a long-time fan of the authors that seek to explore the commonality that exists within all sexualities and genders. Most of K. Lynn’s work features LGBT characters, many of whom are in established relationships and show how love perseveres through every trial and tribulation that life holds. She also has a particular interest in seeing transgender characters gain a larger foothold within the LGBT fiction genre, hoping that the market for these works expand in the future. Contact K. Lynn at writerklynn@gmail.com or follow her on Twitter @WriterKLynn

Hope Ryan on Location, Location, Location

My guest today is YA author Hope Ryan, here to talk about her first release, The Geek and His Artist. Don’t miss the giveaway!

Hello and thanks so much to Shae for giving me some space today! I really appreciate it.


One of the things I like to do for my stories is to have firm pictures in my head of the locations things take place in. Whether it’s a school, a home, or some other place that’s important to the characters or plot, I like to collect pictures of them. I unashamedly scavenge from Google Maps, as well as a number of other places.

The Geek and His Artist takes place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a town I am very familiar with. I lived there for several years (and hope to again!), so I like to set stories there. Without further ado, let me show you some of the places important in Geek.

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The guys in Geek attend Carrick High School. I used to live not too far from this one and my amazing editor still lives just up the street!
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Early in the story, Jimmy, Ronnie, and Sean go to the AMC theater in an area called The Waterfront to see The Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies. I’ve always had a particular fondness for the theater, if for no other reason than just how pretty it is on the outside.
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But the inside isn’t anything to sneeze at, either. The theater Jimmy sees Simon in doesn’t have that middle section, but otherwise, is the same as the picture below. I have seen more than a few movies here.
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After the movie, the guys head down to the Barnes & Noble in the same shopping area. It’s cold—just before Christmas, but not too far to walk in the cold. There aren’t a lot of brick-and-mortar bookstores anymore, sadly, but this one was still open as of June 1st.
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Jimmy and Simon go to the same theater for their first date, but skip the bookstore afterward, heading to the Starbucks, instead.

Simon, Tony, Deck, and Kip are all skaters, living on their boards. Turns out, Sean does a bit of skateboarding, as well and one day after school lets out early, they head over to the skate park at McKinley Park.20150601_11253220150601_112427

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Really? They call these benches? I don’t know any >6 foot tall guy who could be comfortable on this and Jimmy at 6’6″, well, let’s just say he was happy to move when Simon suggested it.
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The half-pipe they moved to when the benches got to them. They were sitting up on the platform to the left.

* * *

Be sure to follow the rest of the tour for chances to win a paperback copy of Geek and $25 to spend at Harmony Ink! Each comment below also qualifies you for an entry to the giveaway. One reader today will win a Geek character trading card of your choice!

tumblr_inline_np30cq2jKj1slfj1n_500http://hoperyan.com/geek-tour

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Simon Williams spends his lunch periods drawing his geek and trying not to think about the terrors waiting for him at home. He needs to get away from his abusive father before he suffers the same grisly fate as his mother. Because he’s learned the hard way running away doesn’t work, he’s counting the days until his eighteenth birthday.

Jimmy Bennet should be spending his lunch studying so his senior GPA is good enough to get him into college, but he can’t seem to focus thanks to his distracting artist. When he’s given the opportunity to tutor Simon in Trig and discovers Simon’s home-life nightmare, he wants nothing more than to get Simon out of danger. This need becomes more urgent when Simon comes to school the Monday after their first date with bruises, but it takes a broken leg before Jimmy can convince his boyfriend the Bennets really want him.

But the danger Simon thought was past shows up at the most unexpected time, and he must stand up to the fears he’s held so long to protect not only himself, but the man he wants to spend his life with.

You can get Geek here:

Harmony Ink Press Dreamspinner Press Amazon AllRomanceebooks Kobo Barnes & Noble

About Hope:hope (1)

Hope Ryan is an out and proud bisexual, wife of a loving guy and mother to three, including an amazingly brave gender fluid son. She loves to write about the tough stuff, but also wants to see her characters happy in the end. She feels strongly about showing there is hope for everyone, no matter where you come from, how you identify your gender or who you love.

Hope likes to play board and card games and can often be found playing God with her Sims or running around, fighting monsters in a virtual version of Middle Earth. Her TV and movie preferences lean towards anime, sci fi and fantasy, though she’ll never turn down a good happily ever after love story, either. As long as there are explosions or action, she’s happy. She loves to read books of all kinds, though prefers stories about love in its many forms.

Find Hope at her website, email her (hoperyanauthor@gmail.com), or on Facebook.

Indigent: A Charity Anthology

It’s my pleasure to feature a new YA charity anthology today. Indigent, edited by Louis J. Harris and Kimi D. Saunders and featuring stories by five authors, will benefit a group of LGBT charities. It releases on June 15, 2015.

Our nature is to live and let live.

Often disregarding the plight of our homeless, our sick, our tired and our handicapped LGBT fellow beings. It gives us great pleasure in presenting this edition to assist our community members wherever they may be. Many of our community members have nowhere to sleep, nothing to eat, and have no work. The proceeds collected from this book will go to rewarding several charities across the globe. These charities are passionate about what they do. Some take in the homeless and others provide a home for the aged and the handicapped. The charities whom we will be assisting:

  • GALA is a centre for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) culture and education in Africa. Their mission is, first and foremost, to act as a catalyst for the production, preservation and dissemination of knowledge on the history, culture and contemporary experiences of LGBTI people.
  • Lost-n-Found is Atlanta’s only non-profit organization dedicated to taking homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth off the street and into more permanent housing, Lost-n-Found Youth is dedicated to the advocacy and service of youth from 13 to 25 years old.
  • Youth Off The Streets is a non-denominational community organisation working for young people aged 12-25 who are facing challenges of homeless- ness, drug and alcohol dependency, exclusion from school, neglect and abuse. We support these young people as they work to turn their lives around and overcome immense personal traumas such as neglect and physical, psychological and emotional abuse.
  • The Albert Kennedy Trust supports lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans homeless young people in crisis. Every day they deal with the the effects home lessness can have on young people’s lives.

These charities require funding to assist desperate, needy members of our community and this book is a mere drop in the ocean of how we can reach out socially to them.

indigent_coverIndigent has been produced to entertain and delight and all the stories leave the reader with a “feel good” state of mind.

Frederick Eugene Feeley Jr’s “Indigent”, after which the anthology takes its name, brings the reader to witness an apocalyptic war between the good and evil that rages in one man’s mind. Soon he will know that his problems are insignificant compared to those of others.

Mari Evan’s “Stumbling into Forever” involves a handsome young vampire who will learn that just a sip of blood is the difference between love and freezing to death.

Leona Windwalker’s “If Only the World” takes rejection to another level. A heartbreaking story that is turned on its head by the kindness of strangers.
Shaye Evans’ “Rescued” is a contemporary social statement about the aftermath of a young man’s life after his drink has been spiked at a bar.

M. LeAnne Phoenix’s “Higher Love” takes us on an almost spiritual journey through the minds of two people who have never met, but have spoken on a telepathic level. When they do come together, that bond is already cemented but there is a price to pay.

Buy Indigent at Amazon

Author and Publisher Links

Louis J. Harris
louisjharris@cooldudespublishing.com

Kimi D Saunders (Writes as Leona Windwalker)
https://twitter.com/ShroudedDancer
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Leona-Windwalker/890405037684824?fref=ts

Frederick Eugene Feeley Jr
http://www.authorfefeeleyjr.wordpress.com

Mari Evans
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mari-Evans/1412324675676352

Shaye Evans
https://www.facebook.com/ShayeLEvans?fref=ts

M. LeAnne Phoenix
mleannephoenix.com
FB: mleannephoenix
Twitter: @MLPhoenix

CoolDudes Publishing
https://www.facebook.com/pages/CoolDudes-Publishing/1524105151191706
Twitter: @lgbtpublisher

https://plus.google.com/u/0/108242351336143580514/videos

Recommended: Bend or Break Series

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Another in my occasional series of recommendations for books/series. Disclaimer: Just because I don’t mention a certain book/series/author doesn’t mean anything bad! These will simply be ones that really stand out, usually ones that get regular re-reads.

My first encounter (that I remember) with author Amy Jo Cousins was being jointly recruited to write for a workplace-themed anthology for Dreamspinner Press. About the time All in a Day’s Work was published, I started hearing about this book called Off Campus that she had written for Samhain Publishing. Well, Amy Jo being the awesome person that she is, she slipped me an eARC, and I devoured the hell out of it. And then the sequel, Nothing Like Paris. And though I forced myself to wait until I finished the draft of Nobody’s Son, as soon as I was free, I gobbled up The Girl Next Door. (Oh, CASH. *happy sigh*)

(Yes, yes, The Girl Next Door is M/F, but you’ll already be in love with Cash after reading Off Campus, and Steph is all kinds of fabulous, and the sex, including a M/F/M threesome, is ultra-hot.)

And there are MORE BOOKS coming. OMG. (Level Hands will be next up, in August.)

Let’s just say I’m a total Amy Jo fangirl now. :D

Even if the books weren’t awesome—which they totally are—just the cover art would be enough to make me take a look at them. I mean, really, check out this lineup:

bend-or-break-covers-4bks-final

Kanaxa’s work is amazing.

So: Read this series. I have helpfully provided linkage to the first three books below. ;)

Off Campus

Nothing Like Paris

The Girl Next Door

 

Updates and A Look Ahead

1. Nobody’s Son, book 3 in the Sons series, is complete and in beta. After revisions, I plan to have the final version to Dreamspinner by mid-June. Release date will be late in the year (probably November). There’ll also be a short “coda” to the series coming, a freebie slated for New Year’s Eve. It’s my primary writing project right now.

2. My next story for Dreamspinner will likely be what I call “football boys,” about high school seniors and best friends who become boyfriends and then have to weather an on the field injury. It’s about half written, and I want to finish it this year.

3. I’ll also be working on a “crossover” series, one that includes more than just m/m pairings. If I finish all five stories that are on the list, it’ll include m/f and f/f. I don’t know yet if these will be novels or novellas; they’re still in development. And I don’t know yet where I’ll look to publish them.

4. I’ll have another short story coming later this year for the next butt-thology, Butt Villains on Vacation. I probably won’t tackle that until after my sister’s wedding in October, though.

5. I have several other projects on the back burner: a shifter story (OMG worldbuilding!); two possible sequels to the football book; a puppy play novella; a standalone m/f “category”-type romance (aka “a book my mother will read”); a holiday-themed package of previously published stories with two other authors; a set of Christmas stories for next year. One thing that is never a problem for me is having enough ideas. :)

6. My tentative travel plans for 2016 include attending both the RT and RWA conventions, so if you’ll be in Las Vegas in April or San Diego in July, I’d love to see you. :D

Erin McRae and Racheline Maltese on Death and Midsummer

My guests today are Erin McRae and Racheline Maltese, here to talk about their new release, Midsummer.

Death is a thing Erin and I write about a lot. Not in the sense of the tragic tear-jerker love story, but in the sense that death lurks around all of us. It’s in our fears, in our backstories, and hey if you like vampire novels, in our fantasies.

Midsummer is a contemporary HEA about a May/December couple that fall into an obsessive and sexy love affair while working at a summer stock theater together. Each of them have a history with death in their families that color their relationships, their ability to take risks, and the way they roll with surprises. Despite this, both of them do their best to keep their secrets around loss, amplifying the eeriness of the woods that hosts the theater company.

For us, death is fertilizer. If we can’t avoid it, we can at least use it to make our stories — fiction and not — richer. For John and Michael, the loss of their pasts proves to be their own way forward together.

Midsummer Cover

John Lyonel, a long-time theater professional and teacher, heads to Virginia to play Oberon in the Theater in the Woods’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, intending to focus on his work. John is recovering from the tragic loss of his family and needs a break. The last thing he expects is to become captivated by Michael Hilliard, the professional actor playing Puck, especially since John has never been attracted to men, let alone one so much younger.

They rush headlong into an affair which falls apart dramatically over secrets that John and Michael are keeping from each other. A steep learning curve, the gossipy cast of the show, and the sometimes sinister magic of the woods conspire to keep them apart. But stage lights and stars might work their magic and help them define a new future.

About the Authors

Erin McRae is a queer writer and blogger based in Washington, D.C. She has a master’s degree in International Affairs from American University, and delights in applying her knowledge of international relations theory to her fiction and screen-based projects, because conflict drives narrative.

Racheline Maltese lives a big life from a small space. She flies planes, sails boats, and rides horses, but as a native New Yorker, has no idea how to drive a car. A long-time entertainment and media industry professional, she lives in Brooklyn with her partner and their two cats.

Together, they are co-authors of the gay romance series Love in Los Angeles, set in the film and television industry—Starling (September 10, 2014), Doves (January 21, 2015), and Phoenix (June 10, 2015)—from Torquere Press. Their gay romance novella series Love’s Labours, set in the theater world—Midsummer (May 2015), and Twelfth Night (Fall 2015), is from Dreamspinner Press. They also have a story in Best Gay Romance 2015 from Cleis Press and edited by Felice Picano. You can find them on the web at http://www.Avian30.com.

Connect with Erin & Racheline online:

Blog | Facebook Page | Erin’s Twitter | Racheline’s Twitter | Erin’s Goodreads | Racheline’s Goodreads | Erin’s Amazon Author Page | Racheline’s Amazon Author Page

Midsummer Buy Links:

Amazon | AllRomance | B&N | Dreamspinner

Excerpt:

Costume fittings and dress rehearsals means that John finally gets to see Michael costumed as Puck. The human characters are dressed contemporarily, in suits and cocktail dresses that become increasingly disheveled as the show goes on. The fairies, though, are dressed in greens and browns with crowns of strange wildness — thistles, cornsilk, and Queen Ann’s lace. Michael as Puck looks deeply inhuman, covered in leaves as if dragged in from the wooded grounds. For their first dress rehearsal, it takes all of John’s considerable experience and willpower to actually focus on the play and not Michael. As taken as Oberon is meant to be with Puck, he should actually be able to remember and deliver his lines.

“Whose idea was this?” he asks Michael afterward, catching him before he can change. Michael blinks at him with eyes done up in silver and green. John wants to devour him.

“Do you like it?” Michael asks, more distant and coy than usual, sliding his hands up John’s chest which, like his own, is bare.

All John can do is groan when Michael looks up at him from under his lashes. He stands on his tiptoes to kiss John briefly, and then vanishes. When he reappears he’s Michael again, in t-shirt and shorts, but John can’t forget the image of him transformed.