Saturday, 28 April 2012

Saddle up, Cowboy

Leave a comment on this post to be entered into the draw for a copy of Complete Faith.

Two days to go before Complete Faith is released. I am so happy to see the boys of the Lost Cow ranch ride across my screen once more. Complete Faith focuses on  the relationship between Tommy, the deeply closeted ranch hand, and Noah, the pastor with a wicked sense of humour, mainly aimed at Luke, and a penchant for lurid sweaters.

As usual in my books, the path of love never runs smoothly. Noah will not enter into a relationship with Tommy until the young man comes out to his parents; his very homophobic parents. Tommy is stuck between a rock and a hard place. He's faced with potentially losing his parents or his love. And what about the town? Is Tommy going to face the same problems Luke and Simon did from the bigots in town?

Of course Luke and Simon from Morning Report play a large role in this book. Luke is still a possessive ass and Simon gets a fright he won't forget. Complete Faith introduces new characters as well; Ray, Noah's deputy, Lance and Marco, and a range of bigots just for the taking.


Chapter One

SHOVEL. Flick. Shovel. Flick. Tommy flung another shovelful of muck into the wheelbarrow with a vicious twist and started again. The ranch hand had been mucking out the stable for an hour, but it was debatable whether he was actually achieving very much. Pain in his bottom lip made him conscious of the way he was gnawing on it. It was raw from constant chewing, and the coppery tang in his mouth suggested he had actually drawn blood this time.

His next shovel of muck went astray, splattering his boss as he came into the stall. Tommy looked up at the grunt to see Luke standing in the doorway, straw and muck covering his flannel shirt and jeans, a few stray bits caught in the light stubble on his jaw.

“Heck, boss, I’m so sorry,” Tommy said, watching as Luke brushed himself down.

“I think you need to work on your aim,” Luke griped, picking off what definitely didn’t look like straw with a disgusted look.

Before Tommy could respond, Luke’s partner and foreman of the Lost Cow Ranch, Simon, appeared in the doorway, his large body blocking out the light. “Luke, I’m going now. See ya later.” He stopped as he caught sight of his partner covered in horse shit. “You been rolling in the hay without me?”

Guiltily, Tommy said, “It was my fault. I didn’t know the boss was standing there.”

“Obviously,” Luke said wryly. “Are you nearly done? I was coming to see if you wanted a lift over to Noah’s. Momma’s got a meeting over at the church, and she was offering a ride.”

Tommy felt his face heat at the knowing looks of his bosses. “No thanks,” he said shortly and went back to shoveling shit, being more careful this time where it landed. There was a long silence, and Tommy could imagine the unspoken conversation going on above his head.

“Is everything all right, Tommy?” Simon asked him, his tone concerned.

“Fine,” he muttered, not looking up. “I just want to finish my chores.” He knew that he was the color of a ripe tomato all over by now. Cursing his red hair and the fact he flushed so easily, Tommy kept his eyes firmly trained on the dirt floor. He only wished it were that simple.

Noah was… Noah was amazing. The pastor of St. Mark’s was a walking wet dream as far as Tommy was concerned: smooth chocolate skin that fascinated him, and huge dark eyes that seemed to know everything there was to know about him. Hell, the only other man he’d ever been attracted to was Luke, and that was one fantasy that was never going to happen. He’d known Luke all his life; the older man had been the subject of all his jerk-off fantasies for years until the advent of Noah, but Luke had never once noticed his crush. Aching with a fierce jealousy, Tommy gripped the handle of the shovel so hard he was white-knuckled.

“Tommy?” A large hand on his shoulder made him jump. “You know you can talk to us if there’s a problem?”

He looked up at Simon, whose expression matched his gentle tone. “I know that,” he muttered. “I’ve just got work to do.”

“Okay, Tommy. Just remember we’re here if you want us.” Simon squeezed his shoulder and nodded at Luke, who picked off some more muck with a grimace.

“All right, then. I’d better change before Momma complains about the smell.”

“Sorry, boss,” Tommy apologized again.

Luke waved his apology away. “No worries. I got in the way of your work. C’mon, Si, I’ve got to get Momma to St. Mark’s before I visit Pops.”

Luke’s father was in the hospital following a heart attack, but he was finally off the critical list, and for the first time in weeks, there wasn’t a member of his family sitting beside his bed at all times. After a car accident, Momma Murray was finding it difficult to drive despite intensive physical therapy, and one of the boys from the Lost Cow acted as her chauffeur when possible.

Tommy watched as Simon dropped a kiss on Luke’s lips, missing the dirt on his face. They grinned at him and walked away, shoulders and hips brushing together. It was hard to hate Simon for having what Tommy wanted. Luke was completely smitten where Simon was concerned. God help anyone who tried to come between them. Sighing, Tommy went back to mucking out the stalls, trying not to think about Luke and Noah, so very different, both gorgeous and both totally unavailable.

Church was tricky. His parents insisted that he attend church every Sunday morning unless there was a crisis on the Lost Cow. To his amazement, his God-fearing mother had wordlessly switched to St. Mark’s church, which meant seeing Noah every Sunday, watching the young pastor as he talked about love and forgiveness, about inclusivity and understanding. The pastor was a sodomite and totally open about his sexuality. Tommy knew that half the congregation were folk who weren’t welcome elsewhere: gays, young unmarried mothers, and now the Lost Cow ranch, who swelled the numbers every Sunday, pleased to have somewhere to worship. His parents weren’t the most tolerant of people, and Tommy couldn’t work out why on earth they had switched to Noah’s church instead of staying with that bigot, Pastor Jackson. Tommy didn’t swear—being brought up with a wooden spoon over his knuckles for every curse word, he had soon learned to curb his language—but whenever he thought about the trouble the Jacksons had caused Luke and Simon, he would have earned himself swollen knuckles for the blue storm he kicked up.

So why was he avoiding Noah? Chewing again on his abused bottom lip, Tommy refilled Lulu’s stall with fresh hay and water. Inexperienced he might be, but Tommy knew that Noah was attracted to him. Every time the pastor saw Tommy’s face in the congregation, his eyes lit up, and the warmth in them as they rested on Tommy just got a little more intense. For Tommy’s part, he felt his cheeks flush every time he caught sight of Noah staring at him. But Noah was gay and Tommy was straight, at least as far as his parents and the rest of the world were concerned. There was only one person Tommy had been completely honest to about the feelings he had for other men. Scared and frustrated at having to hide his sexuality, and needing to talk to someone, he had confided in Luke when he’d first started at the ranch. His boss had kept his secret for five years, only admitting that he had told Simon after Tommy had said he was leaving. Tommy could trust both men, though. They were discreet, and none of the other hands suspected he was anything other than shy. Tommy wanted to move across the state, maybe find somewhere he could meet other men, away from his parents’ disapproving attitudes. Yet now they were willingly going to a church populated by homosexuals and other fallen, and he was the object of the attention of the most gorgeous man that walked the earth. The world had tilted on its axis, and Tommy was sliding off the edge.

He started on James’s stall, aware that in his interminable inner monologue, Tommy was avoiding the question. Why was he avoiding Noah? Simple. He was scared shitless. And a virgin. Twenty-three years old and never even been kissed. He’d hoped to go to college away from home and sow his oats there, but his parents had made it clear there wasn’t any money for college and they expected him to start working on a ranch as soon as he left high school. Tommy wasn’t an outstanding scholar or a jock, there were no scholarships for the likes of him, and he had no choice but to accede to his parents’ wishes. They hadn’t been pleased when he’d started at the Lost Cow, but as long-time friends of Greg and Pamela they were careful not to voice their protests in front of Luke’s momma.

There was a noise outside the stable, and he paused, not wanting to coat another person in shit. Tommy looked up to see Luke back again, frown lines between his eyes.

“Is something the matter, boss?” he asked.

“I’ve got to go down to the back pasture. Chuck wants me to look at some plants he’s found. Can you take Momma to the church? Jack can cover you here.”

He was going to see Noah! Cursing himself for the way his heart leaped in his chest, Tommy muttered, “Sure. Give me ten minutes to shower and change. Tell Momma I’ll be over in half an hour.”

“Will do,” Luke agreed. “And Tommy….”

Tommy looked up to see a mischievous grin playing across Luke’s face.

“Just relax, okay? He likes you. You like him. Don’t fret about it.”

Knowing his face was beet red, Tommy wished he could jump in the hay and hide, away from those all too knowing eyes. Luke was never going to let him live this down. “It’s not that simple.”

Luke’s green eyes turned sympathetic. “It really is, Tommy. Noah isn’t going to hurt you. He isn’t that kind of guy.”

“But my parents…,” Tommy began, still clutching the shovel in front of him. How many times had he defended his place in the closet with those three words?

“I’m not saying it won’t be hard, but your parents can’t live your life for you. They moved to the church knowing Noah is gay. See how they cope with you making a friend first.” Luke smiled at him. “Now, git, or Momma will be chewing my hide. You know what she’s like when there’s a cards afternoon.”

Startled, Tommy almost dropped the shovel. “Your momma’s playing cards? I thought she was meeting with the ladies.”

“She is. Except the ladies have an interesting way of studying the Bible. But don’t you tell her I told you,” Luke warned.

There were footsteps outside, and Jack hove into view, a smile on his face. “Ready to get going, Tommy?”

“Sure. I’ve only finished Lulu. I kept being interrupted.” He shot a look at Luke, who laughed and clapped him on the back.

“Say hello to the pastor. Liz and I’ll be there on Sunday. She’s got the day off.” Jack and his wife lived off the ranch and got to church as much as her shifts at the local hospital allowed.

Tommy couldn’t help the flush that spread across his cheeks at the thought of talking to Noah. “I’ll tell him,” he mumbled as he brushed past the two men.

“I’ll call Momma. Don’t take too long making yourself look pretty,” Luke called after him.

Stumbling over his feet, Tommy nearly turned around, horrified at Luke’s obvious implication, but then he heard Jack say, “You sure you want to send him? He’s fair game for all those women.”

“Why do you think I don’t want to go?” Luke retorted, and they both laughed.

Flipping them both off, Tommy made his way into the bunkhouse. It was empty, and after collecting fresh jeans and a shirt, he made his way to the bathroom. Whatever happened, he couldn’t go stinking of horse shit. Luke’s momma wouldn’t approve.

St. Mark’s was about an hour away from the ranch, and Pamela spent most of the ride holding her injured arm against her body, thin lines of pain etched around her mouth. She didn’t seem to want to chat. Too busy worrying about her husband, Tommy imagined. The parking lot was two-thirds full as they arrived. As he put the truck in park, Tommy looked at Pamela. “Do you want me to pick you up later, Momma?”

She frowned at him. “Luke said you’d be staying. I think Noah is looking forward to having some male company. He uses it as an excuse to pretend that he doesn’t know the poker game is going on.”

Tommy’s jaw dropped. The ladies of the church were playing poker? “Please tell me my mother isn’t there.”

Pamela snorted as she reached for the door handle. “She’s one of the best we’ve got. That woman is a card shark. The others say we’ve raised more money since she arrived than in the previous six months.”

Tommy felt a little dizzy. “But she’s only been going three weeks.”

“Yes,” said Pamela grimly. “As I said, card shark.” She took a look at his face. “Don’t look so shocked, son. It’s just like quilting but with cards.”

“But you’re gambling in the Lord’s house,” he said faintly.

“With Monopoly money,” she assured him. “Then we agree to match it in donations to repair the church roof. It’s all controlled very tightly. The menfolk don’t like it if you spend too much beer money.”

Shaking his head in disbelief, Tommy walked around the truck to help Pamela out and waited while she got her balance. She beamed at him, the lines in her face easing as they started walking to the side door of the church.

“It’s much more fun than sticking a needle in some tatty old fabric. I wish I’d found this church years ago.”

“No wonder my mom likes coming here so much,” he mused, more to himself than Pamela. “She always hated the sewing and baking sessions.”

“Parents always surprise their kids,” Pamela said sagely. “Now, let me find the ladies, and you can keep the pastor company.”

Tommy shot a look at Pamela, but she was walking on ahead. He wasn’t fooled, though. That woman never missed a thing. Pushing open the door for Pamela, he followed her as she walked into a room with about half a dozen women already around a table, his mother being one of them. Tommy grinned at the sight of the Monopoly money. Evelyn caught sight of her son and ducked her head, flushing deeply. His lips twitched. It was the first time in living memory he could remember seeing his mother discomfited. Caught ready to gamble in church. Evelyn was never going to live this down.


A hand landed on his shoulder, startling him. Tommy was acutely aware of Noah’s spicy cologne and his body, warm against Tommy’s back. He froze like a startled rabbit, caught between the object of his fantasies and his mother. The only small bit of comfort was that his mother looked even more uncomfortable with the pastor’s eyes upon her.

Pamela turned to look at the pastor over Tommy’s shoulder. “Morning, Noah,” she said brightly. “We’re just about to start quilting, so if you want to escape now….”

The pastor sighed, his breath tickling Tommy’s ear. “I’m not sure what’s worse. The fact you’re gambling or the fact you’re outright lying to my face, Momma.”

“Why, Pastor Taylor, how could you say such a thing?” she gasped in mock indignation. “Now shoo. Take this nice young man and go and talk man things while the good ladies and I talk… about things you don’t need to hear.”

“Come on, Tommy.” Noah’s hand slipped to Tommy’s waist to guide him away. “Let’s run before they corrupt us even more.”

“Hush now.” Pamela grinned and virtually pushed them both out of the room. “See you later. You boys play nice.”

Now that was going too far in front of his mom. Tommy turned to glare at Pamela, but she shut the door in his face. When he turned back, Noah was grinning at him.

“I wasn’t expecting to see you today,” he said, beckoning Tommy further down the hallway, leading him into a small kitchen. “Do you want a Coke or a tea?”

“Uh… Coke would be great.” Tommy stumbled over his words. Jesus! He mentally apologized upstairs for taking the Lord’s name. He really had to get his head together around this man.

Noah opened the fridge door and surveyed the contents. “I can offer Coke or Dr Pepper,” he advised.

“Coke, please.” Tommy held out his hand for the can, suppressing a shiver as their fingertips brushed lightly, and took a seat at the kitchen table. It was a tiny whitewashed room, only just accommodating the table and chairs. Cups and saucers were laid out on a tray, presumably ready for the ladies when they had finished “quilting.” It was much easier to think of it like that. The thought of his mother gambling was just too much.

“How is Greg?” Noah asked. “I’ve not been in to see him in a few days. He was looking good the last time I saw him.”

“The Boss is doing great.” Tommy smiled as he thought of Luke’s dad the last time he’d seen him. It had been touch and go for a long time, but against the odds, Greg Murray was starting to pull through, although he still wasn’t stable enough to have the triple bypass.

“And Luke and Simon? How are they?” Noah inquired.

Tommy frowned a little. Noah knew how Luke and Simon were, having seen them a couple of days ago.

“They’re fine, and Chuck is as well,” he said shortly. “Would you like to ask about the horses?”

Noah gave him a startled look, and then he laughed ruefully. “He was probably next on my list,” he admitted, looking embarrassed.

“I never thought you’d have problems finding something to talk about,” Tommy said with a smirk.

“I don’t think we’ve ever had a conversation alone before,” Noah pointed out, his fingers unconsciously smoothing away the beads of condensation on the soda can.

Unable to drag his eyes away from Noah’s long fingers caressing the can, Tommy licked his lips.

“Don’t do that!”

Tommy looked up. “Huh?” he said, confused.

Noah’s dark eyes were intent on his mouth. “Don’t lick your lips like that. It’s distracting.”

“I didn’t… I…. ” Tommy stopped, unable to complete the sentence, nervously licking his lips again.

Noah made a low noise in the back of his throat. “Tommy Bradley, you are a tease.”

“I don’t mean to be,” Tommy said honestly, bewildered by Noah’s reaction.

“I know you don’t, and that’s what makes it so enticing.”

Tommy was shocked when Noah leaned over and covered his hand with his own. He tried to pull back. What if his mom saw them holding hands; what if anyone saw them? Noah refused to let him go.

“Do you like me?” the pastor asked bluntly.

“I… uh… you’re… my pastor,” Tommy said faintly.

That provoked an eye roll. “Look,” Noah began, “I’m not going to lie to you. I’m attracted to you, Tommy. I know you’re attracted to me.”

Tommy looked at the kitchen door, tugging to retrieve his hand. What if someone walked in?

Noah gave him an understanding look and let go of his hand. “I know you’re not out,” he said more quietly. “Luke knows, doesn’t he?”

“And Simon now.” Tommy swallowed hard. “That’s all. How did you know I was…?” He paused, not even wanting to say the word here. He was blinded by the leer Noah gave him.

“My gaydar is never wrong.”

Noah’s confidence was annoying. Tommy was tempted to tell him he was straight just to prick that bubble of smugness.

“My parents…,” Tommy muttered, resisting the urge to poke his tongue out.

“Don’t know.” Noah nodded. “I know.”

“They think I’m straight. I want to move away. Find somewhere I can….” He trailed off.

“Be yourself?” Noah suggested, his eyes gentle on Tommy’s face.

“They’d throw me out if they found out.”

“Have you ever been in a relationship with a man, Tommy?”

Tommy shook his head. “I’ve never even kissed a man, kissed anyone, for that matter.”

Noah looked surprised. “Not one?”

“No opportunity. I’m not out anywhere, and I don’t know any gay men except Luke and Simon, and it’s not like—well, they’re completely exclusive.”

“Yes, they are. I’ve never met a couple so tight. You know a few more gay men than that now you come to my church.”

“So do my parents.” Tommy shrugged. “I never thought I’d see that day. Why do they come here?”

Shaking his head, Noah said, “You know I can’t tell you that.” His eyes softened. “I can tell you that maybe you ought to try talking to them.”

Tommy stared at him incredulously. “Have you tried talking to my mom? She cheered when Pastor Tony said that all queers burn in hell.”


At Noah’s raised eyebrow, Tommy squirmed. “She agreed, anyhow.”

“Just talk to them, Tommy. They feel real bad for what’s happened to Greg and Pamela.”

“But not what happened to Luke and Simon,” Tommy pointed out.

Noah huffed out a breath. “I think people need time. You can’t expect them to change overnight.”

“I don’t expect anything from people around here. Not anymore.” Tommy couldn’t stop the bitterness in his voice. As far as he was concerned, he couldn’t wait to see the back of his childhood home. Tommy had had nothing but good times at Lost Cow, apart from the frustration of his feelings for Luke, but as for the people in the town, he wouldn’t give them the time of day.

“It’s been a difficult time,” Noah agreed.

Tommy had to bite back the angry words. Noah had no real idea what he was talking about. And then Tommy looked at Noah, really looked at him, and saw the understanding in his eyes. Noah was an out and proud black homosexual living in Texas.

“Was it bad?” he asked awkwardly.

“Pretty awful,” Noah agreed easily, not put out by the question.

Tommy opened and closed his mouth, not really sure what to say.

“Maybe I’ll tell you one day,” Noah said, patting Tommy’s hand. “Would you like another drink? I have some danish as well.”

Friday, 27 April 2012

WTH Amazon? Laura Harner speaks

I asked Laura Harner for a post, any subject. I can see why she wrote this one.

Over to you Laura.

Ty Hard has been the little book that could. Released in July 2011, Ty quickly went…nowhere. I wasn’t surprised nor particularly worried. After all, I was a new, self-published author, and this was my first MM romance. I expected a few people would find it and hopefully, be entertained enough to recommend the book to others.
Then the Bear, Tom Webb, reviewed it and people started to notice. After a mere five months (LOL), Ty made an appearance on the Amazon Gay Best Seller Lists.  Dawn Roberto reviewed it and Ty sort of just moved in and stayed there on the lists. Ty Hard even made a couple of “Best Gay Fiction of 2011” end of year lists and was nominated for Best Cover and Best Book at the LRC Loop. I cherish each and every one of these honors.
All books have a life cycle. A period of time when the book, the market and the reader all come together and result in that magic moment…the time when distribution of a title is at its maximum. That time has come and gone for Ty Hard, and I enjoyed every minute of the ride.
This has been such a pleasant experience, that it is a shame it’s coming to a close on such a sour note for me.
I noticed a few days ago that sales for Ty Hard had dropped. Not the slowing that has been occurring as part of the natural life cycle of a title, but a sudden and near complete stop. With a little investigation I found something that may have some bearing on sales…and is a great example of biting the hand that feeds you.
I’m not the type of author who complains about reader reviews. I believe every reader should be free to post his or her opinion without author interference. So believe me when I tell you…this is NOT about a review. However this IS about how Amazon has highlighted a review.
Currently, when you shop for a book at Amazon, if you scroll down the page there is a Customer Reviews section. You will find a chart showing how many “Stars” reviewers gave the book. To the far right, there is a section that displays the most recent reviews. Below the chart are the Highlighted Reviews…those are the reviews with the most “helpful” ratings. In other words, the reviews other readers said helped them with their purchasing decision.
Recently, the Community branch at Amazon started testing a new feature on selected titles. The idea is to extract single phrases from three reviews and display them next to the Ratings Chart in an italicized font. The reader can see at a glance the ratings and these snippets without reading through all the reviews.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that despite solid sales and a couple of glowing reviews from bloggers, Ty only has six ratings at Amazon. Two five-star, one four-star, two three-star, and one two-star. Not very impressive for a book that has sold thousands of copies…but not awful, either. There are some lovely comments in all of them, including several readers mentioning they would buy another book in the series.
That is what makes this whole thing so inexplicable. Presumably someone wrote a program to scan reviews and extract certain phrases…and again, one would assume those phrases would be intended to entice a reader to purchase a book. After all, both Amazon and the author benefit from sales.

If you’ve stayed with me this far…brace yourself because this next bit isn’t pretty. The three highlighted, italicized, and prominently displayed excerpts from my reader reviews:

Thank you very much. Is it any wonder sales have stopped?

Laura Harner can be found at her blog, One Hot Mess

Ty Hard Blurb:

Tyler has used Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell as a shield against the truth since he was seventeen. Cut loose from his Navy career and mourning his mentor’s death, Ty must come to terms with his desire for another man, even while he fights to keep his PTSD from pulling him under. Rancher Cass Cartwright’s relationships never last more than a few hours, and that’s just the way he likes it. Now he's done the one thing he swore never to do: fallen in love. Can Cass convince Ty to let go of his past or will sabotage at the ranch kill their love before it has a chance to grow?

Thursday, 26 April 2012

The Fitzwarren Inheritance Finally in Print

I was so excited to get the email from Silver that at long last the print book for The Fitzwarren Inheritance is due out on 1st May 2012.

BuyLink here.

Now you can have the three stories from Chris Quinton, RJ Scott and me (Sue Brown in case you've forgotten) in one fantastic book.

The Psychic's Tale by Chris Quinton 

"I curse you and your children's children, that you shall all live out your allotted years, and that those years shall be filled with grief and loss and betrayal, even as you have betrayed and bereaved me."

Four hundred years ago in rural England, a mob burned two men to death, but not before one of them, Jonathan Curtess, hurled a dreadful curse at the mob's leader, Sir Belvedere Fitzwarren. The curse has followed the family through the centuries, bringing grief and loss to each generation.

Mark Renfrew is a closeted psychic and openly gay. When his grandmother discovers a family link to a 17th century feud and a still-potent curse, she insists he investigates and do his best to end it. When he travels to the village of Steeple Westford, he meets and falls for Jack Faulkner, an archaeologist. He also meets the Fitzwarrens, who are facing yet another tragedy.

Then Mark learns that the man who cursed them had twisted the knife by leaving three cryptic conditions that would lift the curse, and he knows he has to try to break the curse his ancestor had set.


The Soldier's Tale by RJ Scott 

Corporal Daniel Francis has returned to his childhood home in England to heal; the only one of his unit that survived a roadside bomb. His reasons for skipping medication are based on a stubborn refusal to become an addict, and he is overwhelmed with survivor's guilt.

Doctor Sean Lester has joined his father's surgery and when he is held at knife point by a patient high on drugs it is Daniel that leaps to his rescue-much to his horror.

When Sean nearly runs Daniel down in the dark he finds a man who needs help, and resolves to be the person to show Daniel that it is possible to live through guilt and find happiness.

Set against the backdrop of the Fitzwarren family curse, The Soldiers Tale is a story of one man's fight to find his place in a new world outside of the Army.


The Lord's Tale by Sue Brown 

Surrounded by the tragedy of his family's history, the last thing Phil expects is to be picked up by a gorgeous guy twenty feet up a climbing wall. What scares him even more is the way Lee fits into his life, the final piece to break the Fitzwarren curse.

Welcome to Christianna Spencer

I am thrilled to have Christianna Spencer on my blog today. Her book is the same name as my dog. I'm not sure if she would like to be linked to my mutt but there you go.

Over to you, Christianna.

When and why did you begin writing?
I started really writing in middle school. The school had a contest called Young Authors which my teacher at the time made a mandatory thing as a way to help teach about sentence structure and punctuation as well as communication. I liked writing out the story I submitted, which won surprisingly, so I just kept writing from there.

What inspires you to write and why?
Inspiration is varied for me. Sometimes it’s an idea that pops into my head that won’t go away until I start writing it down, other times its coming across something and my mind automatically says “I can do better than that.” And writing is cathartic for me. It’s an escape.  

What is the best piece of advice you received before you got published?
Just hit submit. You can’t be published if you don’t. If they like it, they like it. If not, screw ‘em and try again.

Do you have any rituals to start your writing day?
If I’m writing certain parts, I’ll turn on music that fits with what is going on or fits with the emotion of the scene. Otherwise, no rituals.

What are you currently writing?
I’ve been working on a private story for a while and I’m trying to sort through some ideas at the moment.

How do you find your names?
I frequently look at baby naming sites for some or I’ll look for indigenous names if, say, the character is Native American or even name popularity sites if the characters are set in a different era.

What is the most interesting piece of research you’ve done so far?
I did some research on explosion shockwaves and paralytic drugs so for a week my computer’s search history was really questionable and possibly incriminating.

Do you include your life experiences in your books?
Not entirely. I’ve given characters traits of friends before, mostly attitudes.

Who is your favourite author and why?
I don’t really have a favourite but I read Stephen King, Anne Rice and a lot of mysteries. 

What do you do to relax?
I listen to music and play video games to help vent sometimes. Or I’ll sit down and work on a piece of jewellery or bead project. Other times I’ll read. Depends on the mood really.

Where can we find you on the web?
Mostly I can be found through Dreamspinner Press.

Tyler is available on May 2nd at Dreamspinner Press

Blurb: Being a college student on a road trip means making certain sacrifices, like eating gas station food instead of in decent restaurants and staying in a series of tacky motel rooms. When Aiden leaves his buddy Chase to search for some excitement, he figures the dive bar not far from the motel is as good a place as any to start the night. At least he can get a couple of drinks and hustle some poor sucker out of a few bucks at pool. There’s even the possibility of getting a little action if he plays his cards right—a possibility that quickly becomes reality in the form of a dark and sexy stranger named Tyler.

Aiden looked at their new accommodations as he sat on the end of his bed, hearing Chase busy himself with God knows what in the bathroom. He couldn’t figure out why no matter where the road took them, he and Chase always seemed to stay in the same motel room. True, the decor was different for each, bad ’70s porn motif here or a fishing theme there, but somehow they all just seemed to feel the same. It was like the same guy went around designing crappy motel rooms.
Aiden stared at the tacky—and God, were they ever—furnishings as he ran his hands over the legs of his jeans. Being a college student on a road trip meant you made certain sacrifices. Gas station food versus decent restaurants had been the most common, but this mustard-yellow carpeted nightmare was, in his mind, the worst so far. That observation had only been added to when he caught his muscular reflection staring back at him from gold-veined, mirrored tiles.
“You sure about this, Chase?” Aiden called toward the closed door. “What we talked about in the car… you’re sure?”
“Yeah.” Chase’s voice came loud and clear through the sound of running water behind the door. “Just trust me, Aiden.”
Aiden pushed himself up, making his way over to the bathroom. He leaned his six-foot-one frame against the doorjamb and brought a hand to his head, his fingers running absently over his mess of dark blond hair. “If this is about that ‘vanilla’ comment I made—”
The door opened just enough for Chase to stick his shaggy head out, a cloud of steam from the shower inside hitting Aiden full in the face. “Aiden, I’m sure. Just go enjoy yourself.”
Aiden sighed, shaking his head slightly, as he looked at his lover. “Okay.” He turned and headed for the door, grabbing his keys as he passed the TV.

About the Author:
Christianna Spencer began writing as a child, filling page after page with whatever her vivid imagination could come up with. After she placed in a grade school writing contest, her heart was dead-set on becoming an author.
Christianna works part time in retail when she’s not letting her imagination run wild and calls a small town in Southern Michigan home. She has an interest in mythology, genealogy, and the supernatural. She enjoys spending time with her cats and friends as well as reading, cooking, music, and travel.
She can be contacted via email at

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Movies I adore: The Princess Bride

In 1991, my ex-husband  and I did a road trip through America. We started in New York, went up into Canada, and back down to Washington. I found two loves on that trip. America - yeah, I don't get your politics, your sports or your religion, but you - I love. I also fell in love with The Princess Bride.

Picture the scene. Two very exhausted people crawl into their hotel room in Gettysburg, knowing they only have a few hours to soak in the history. Desperate for a break, they sit on the bed for fifteen minutes, switching on the TV for some mindless entertainment. A film starts. Neither of them have watched it, but hey, Columbo is in it and that kid from The Wonder Years. Two hours later (adverts people adverts), they stare at each other. They haven't moved an inch. History can wait.

Oh my God. I was in love with Inigo, in love with Fezzig and Vizzini. Westley was gorgeous and I had the hots for Buttercup as well. Rob Reiner created a world I wanted to live in. Before someone picks me up on this... I have read the book as well.
Twenty-one years on, and many many viewings later I am still as entranced by the adventures of Buttercup and Westley. If you don't understand when someone says "Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." you are missing out on a whole world of swords and fighting, heroes and villains, magic and skullduggery.

I know that I freaked some friends of mine recently when I said I didn't believe in love. I still don't. But The Princess Bride is the closest I will come to the Happy Ever After.

You want a perfect kiss? As you wish.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Sue's Muse: GBLT Teens and Suicide

The recent well publicised spate of teenage suicides has reminded me of a time in my life when I was confronted with something I was profoundly unprepared to handle.

Five years ago I had just started writing and posting fanfiction, when I met a lovely girl online. In the course of our conversation I found out she was a young teen. For the first time in my life I was faced with things I had no idea how to handle; depression, bullying, abuse, neglect and a GBLT teen. I was middle-aged, had wonderful parents, got on great at school, and was struggling with my own sexual identity at the time. I felt I had nothing to offer my friend. We lived on different timezones and I would wake up to heart-breaking emails threatening suicide and words that scraped at my soul. I didn't have any of the knowledge and experience I have gained in the last five years. I felt useless to help her and so did our friends.

What did I do in the face of my inadequacy? I spoke to my child protection officer at my church, I looked up research online, I looked for organizations that could help, but more to the point I, and many, many friends listened to her talk. She wrote poems; raw, painful poems that explained more than a thousand lectures the isolation that teenagers like her face. We read them, we listened, and she knew that at least online, she wasn't alone.

That was five years ago. She travelled half-way around the world to meet me. She coped, and she lived. I've lost contact with her now, but I won't forget her.

Recently, I started to follow Wipeout Homophobia on Facebook, and from there other blogs, such as Enough is Enough and Stop Teenage Suicide. I wish I had had them five years ago, when I felt so uselessly inadequate. Just this page on suicide support would have been helpful.

I'm not writing this to say oh look at me how wonderful I was. I'm writing this to highlight that there are places to go if you are confronted with a teen in need and feel as inadequate as I did. Week after week we are confronted with the knowledge that teenagers cannot cope without support. Sometimes, neither can the adults. That's what makes these communities and blogs so valuable.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Why TV made John Goode a Bad Gay

I have a friend called John. Hello, John. When I need a blog I ask him. He asked for a topic. I said adolescent gay males and trivia. He obliged. Thanks John.

Over to you, John Goode

So I blame TV a lot for not just making me gay but making me a bad gay on top of that.
How does one be a bad gay? Well thanks for asking, let me explain.
First, I assume that all men must have a cool and calm front that is never broken no matter what their inner emotions may be. A crying on the inside kind of guy who just acts like he is the coolest thing in the world.
I blame The Fucking Fonz.
I mean he messed me up in ways I have yet to untie. There was that jacket, the hair, the sweet bachelor pad above the garage. Also, he had a super diesel girlfriend in Pinky Tuscadero who I always wanted because then she could beat up guys who were too tough for me. He had that thing with the jukebox (That everyone my age tried, don't front, bitch. How many records could you make skip doing that move?), he had the boy next door best friend and though he seemed to have a lot of sex, we never actually saw him with a girl unless she was pimping on his arm. I mean if he wasn't gay he should have been, and because of him I am terminally lame because of my need to be cool.
Then, there is my desire to have a douchebag car.
Hello there Michael Knight, I'm looking at you.
Once again, sweet Members Only jacket, man fro and that manly hair chest that I have never quite mastered. He had a snotty "friend" who was a penis car that had cool lights in its hood. He moved from town to town, his manly face pressed up against KITT's window...sigh. Because of him I wanted to find some weird drifter that talked into his watch and slept in his car, a guy I ended up dating more than once let me tell you.
Thirdly, the way too pretty guy who was still "straight" even though he looked like an underwear model.

His name was Jon Eric Hexum and the show was called Voyagers. he took a younger boy (that was me) and then with a magic watch travelled through time in outfits that always seemed to show off his incredible body. Every night I wanted for some weird stranger to show up in my room and offer to take me to the great unknown. Of course the guys who were talking to me had windowless vans that smelled like tears but hey a kid could dream. This man was so hot to my young mind that I still remember not quite understanding why this show was SO good to me even when it sucked. I think I cried a little when it got cancelled.
And then lastly, the cherry on top of my bad gay sundae.
Captain Kirk.
The fact that I had a huge crush on William Shatner to this day shames me but when I tell you half the reason I joined the military because it was the closest I could get to being in Starfleet I assure you I am not kidding, He had swagger, perfect hair, he was a huge man slut and he always won. In every day like this was the guy who got punched in the face in any bar after about three beers but in the 23rd century he was the shit. I thought a man was supposed to strut like that, be cocky like that and generally just be a dick and expect people to drop their panties because of it. As I have found more than once, this is not how it works. Kirk, more than any other guy, is the reason that guys seem attracted to me until they are with me and then realize, wow, he is always like that. I am still thinking about bringing a class action suit against Star Trek on behalf of all us self-centered jerks in the world but I know every single one of us would just fight to see who's name ended up on the lawsuit.
Nowadays, I can watch Glee, Queer Like Folk, Will and Grace and I can see good gays all over the place. I hope this makes a better generation of gays for the future, because I know the effects shitty tv shows can have on a young mind. Remember, bad TV hurts us all. And that's one to grow on. And knowing is half the battle. And sit on it.
Fucking TV. 

Lords of Arcadia: Act One

Kane Vess may be gay, but he is also extraordinarily ordinary—a crushing weight in Athens, Iowa, where a person’s worth is measured by his uniqueness. But when he meets the school’s newest student, Kane’s ordinariness seems to evaporate. He is desperate to get to know the mysterious stranger… and that leads him into danger.

Hawk is an exile from his homeland, an otherworldly traveler with impossible abilities and a changeling bodyguard. He’s generally disappointed in Earth, which seems common except for Kane. But while Hawk and Kane explore their mutual interest, the forces that made Hawk an exile are busy tracking him down. Kane’s newfound feelings pull him into Hawk’s shadowy fantasy world, where he learns he needs to grow up fast. Kane’s life may now be extraordinary, but if he isn’t careful it could cost him everyone he holds dear—including Hawk.

John's Bio:
John Goode was found in the back of a garden shed originally, and lured out by candy, he was raised on Elm Street before moving due to a rare sleep disorder. After taking off with a few friends to find a dead body, he attended Sherman High School majoring in absenteeism. Dropping out of college to work at the Gap, he struggled on perfecting his karaoke version of "Conjunction Junction" before moving on. He worked several odd jobs, first as a clerk at a record store that was open till midnight, moving to garbage collector with his brother, and then he finally decided on being a convenience store clerk who complained a lot that he wasn't even supposed to be there that particular day. He lives with a talking cartoon dog or cat or three squirrels and has possibly ingested far too much pop culture over the years.

Or he is this guy who lives in this place and writes stuff he hopes you read. John discovered M/M erotica when he heard himself describing what he had done the previous night.

And contact information is and John Goode on Goodreads where my writing blog is:

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Talented Photographer: Joem Bayawa

Recently I came across the talented photographer, Joem Bayawa as he kindly allowed one of his photographs to be used for the It's Raining Men Summer anthology.

I asked if I could show some of his photographs from his Facebook Page as I adore the way he captures the eyes on his models. Yes, I admit, I have a thing for eyes. Now, I could have picked all his photographs. These are just a fraction of the ones I like. I hope they make your Sunday a happy one.

Jace (look at those eyes!!)
Scot Alin (because this made me laugh)

Kris (okay, gorgeous eyes again)

Ian (just drool)

Armin (such a strong gaze)

Anton (he needs a hug, seriously)

Michael, Jace and Kris (having fun, boys?)

Alexander (so moody)

Friday, 20 April 2012

No Point Blog: Cowboys Don't Roam Around the M25

This is my standard reason that I give for setting my stories in America. Actually, I lied. Cowboys do roam around the M25 (the orbital motorway around London).

Unfortunately they don't wear hats and chaps. These are the cowboys I want to write about.

These are the cowboys we have. White Van Man. 

And unfortunately, these guys do not float my boat, tickle my fancy, or do anything at all really.

So this is why I write about cowboys on horseback in Texas. Do I need to explain it any more?

Welcome to Talon p.s

I love making new friends and if there is any reason not to love indie author, Talon p.s., I can't find it. Any man who puts flowers up on my Facebook wall is a friend for life. Also any writer that puts this in as a warning gets an extra cuddle. This e-book contains sexually explicit homoerotic M/M sexual content, graphic language, and situations that may be considered offensive to some readers, For readers who are NOT offended may still experience some symptoms such as heavy breath, increased body temperature, extreme arousal and the uncontrollable need to pounce your partner.
Should you feel yourself experiencing any of the mentioned, relax its natural and very healthy. Just go with the flow. Your partner will thank me later.

Over to you, Talon...

As a writer of erotica, of course all forms of erotica inspires me. I hate it when our genre of literature is widdled down to being described as nothing more than porno in words. And while yes, some publications in the erotic/romance genre could be summed up as that; I have also seen a growth in literature that still maintains a strong sexual content. That’s what I write. Because sex without life IS just porno, but life without SEX is just downright dull and (let's face it) unrealistic. I don’t think a day goes by I don’t think about sex at least once or twice.

I am an Indie Published Author. And while it has its downs it also has its ups. (other than my arousal. For one I’m published (yeah!), but just because I am self-published doesn’t mean I’m a bad writer. In my case main stream publishers don’t have interest in my work because I break more than just a couple of rules when it comes to my story content. I AM A RULE BREAKER. It’s my nature and upbringing. I’m from the generation X (that was before everything went digital  for you young folks). We’re known for breaking the rules, primarily the conformity ones. Like tattoos, hair color and body piercings. We also rewrote what is considered sports. We ushered in the X-Games with inline skates, skateboards, and DMX bikes (yes Tony Hawk is from the Gen-X). I happen to be a major fan of sculling and bull riders (grins), anyways to get back on topic   we did what all those video games are based on today (except the shooting parts - thats all theirs – modern teenage angst).

Now having skimmed over some general background, now let me get a little more intimate (well not that intimate – you can read my books that’s close enough). When I was just 3yrs old me Mum gave me the donkey from her plaster divinity set to paint. I painted it black and blue. When I was 7, the Sunday school I went to brought me home and told my parents to never send me back (don’t worry my head didn’t spin backwards or anything like that – I just asked A LOT of questions, and apparently their own faith was too fragile to handle me. Can you imagine that? A seven year old.)

Anyways what I am getting at is that from the beginning I was apparently destined to be the black sheep, the odd one out. (I did not disappoint, nor did I fail to entertain) And in most ways I still am (do). I am not who you think I am. I’m not who they think I am. I am the sum of my many parts, yet you cannot define me.

This obviously has a bearing factor on my writing. In other words I don’t follow the formula erotic romance wants me too. I don’t have sex five minutes after my characters meet. My characters don’t propose marriage on the first night and happily ever after doesn’t apply. If my story implies something intense or foreboding is coming   guess what? It’s coming. I deliver what I promise. I promise to not make you suffer inside a woman’s rambling mind for more than a few brief thoughts (the majority of the stories content will never take place inside a woman’s head- there’s a reason why men don’t understand women, (No, there isn’t a cure for your man). My shape shifters actually shape shift. My sex is detailed, intense and lasting. (No minute men here). Neither my writing nor my characters are passive submissive/politically correct. They have their faults they are also fantasy so NO they aren’t fearful that YOU might be offended by their faults. It’s a story – please try to remember that).

Americans for all the sex going on, are the most sexually fearful, that fear includes nudity. It’s amazing how many people are too modest to even change clothes in the locker room while someone else is nearby. (It probably explains why romance and erotic/romance is the largest selling of any genre fiction – we desperately need to get laid – and laid well AND often) I’m single right now, but I confess when I do have a partner I like looking at them. The fewer the clothes the better. This of course leads to touching   and so on and so on.

Back to what I was saying and why I say it: I am a figment of my imagination. A fantasy    like the world’s I create to take you places you’ve never been to, yet desire them in ways you never thought to imagine. I am neither man nor woman. I am both and I am neither. I am what you need me to be so that in the end I have sated your darkest and most secret needs. I am not afraid to love you for the moment and love every moment with you. I will not weigh our experience together with false expectations. Our connection may be as deep and as fleeting as a glance, but even a glance can make the heart quicken and certain body parts warmer. I may love you for only the one night we’ve been graced to know each other, or it could be a week, a month or a life time. I will love you today even if there is no tomorrow and there will be no part of your body that misses my touch. I will ignite and cherish them all.

Be ready for me… because I’m about to make you wet. Talon p.s.

 MY BLOG ON THE BOOK: (first time all for you)

I’m a die hard Sci-fi fan having grown up with Star Trek and Star Wars. My all time favorites were Farscape and Firefly (awesome shows by the way   worth tracking down the reruns if you can find them). So anyways I happened across a random blog conversation (its amazing the conversations folks have sometimes) about the downsides to trying to mix Sci-fi with erotica. Most agreed it cant be done. None Sci-fi enthusiasts claimed it’s hard to follow and it messes with the aroused high they expect from a book. While even Sci-fi fans hate to see it show up in erotica because either 1) the erotica takes over and there’s no true sense of the Sci-fi aspect or 2) the writer has no feel for writing Sci-fi (not an easy task creating worlds, creatures and languages not of this earth and still get a detailed enough picture painted so you can proceed with the story plot without writing a book the size of Love and War) in the first place.

Sooooo being a BIG BIG fan of Sci-fi AND a writer of erotica... I deemed myself worthy of being knighted to take up the challenge. Actually the damn story thumped me in the back of the head that day, demanding to know what I was waitin’ on.

And to be completely honest the whole thing was a surprise to me from beginning to end how it came together. But I am proud of it. I hope’ll you enjoy.

Blurb: A new life on the Quantum Transport Research Project is what Raffe Landau is hoping for, what he found was a lover with a rare and similar condition of mutation that makes everyone else untouchable. But there’s a reason the space station has laws that forbid anyone touching either of the TorinLee twins and when they’re attacked Raffe knows he’s to blame. And the only way to protect the young man he’d fallen in love with is to stop touching him.
Torin has ever known human touch. That is until Raffe came along and it’s not just the touch. Raffe makes him feel things he never knew existed. So when Raffe pulls away, not only does he not understand, it’s not allowed. Raffe’s about to find out that what Torin wants Torin gets.

Author Bio:I'm a published author of erotic and dark fantasy. That's what I love to do. Write. And I like to writing intense moments, I also tend to break the rules which translate as me being an Indie Published writer. I live in historic Tarpon Springs Florida where it is anything but cold at least 10 and a half months out of the year raising a teenage Daughter, known as ‘My Bug’ along with a slew of hairy four leggeds that act more needy then the Bug does.
Talon has worked in the concert industry with staging and production for the last 22 years and can honestly say “I’ve seen and heard it all. Well maybe not all but damn close and if I haven’t… I know how to Google & Wiki it.” 
Writing has always been an affair creating Fictions of Dark Fantasy and Film Scripts in the Action/Drama and a few Sci-Fi’s. It wasn’t until I began an ancient history tale that the works turned to the Erotic Genre and I’ve been hooked ever since. In just one year close to 30 book projects have been started, many of which are nearing ready for release. And each one finding a new way to push the boundaries to make you feel more, think more and arouse you more.

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