Books · gay romance · lgbt

Forbidden Enchantment Pre-Order

If you’re like me and have been anxiously awaiting news on when Forbidden Enchantment will be released—wait no longer! The pre-order is here with a tentative release date of Jan 10th!

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Sidhe cannot lie. Yet Cedric lies about everything from being happy to being human. Hiding his true appearance with glamor runes, he’s managed to live quietly among humans for nearly fifty years. But as he journeys to the capital at the behest of the empress, a chance encounter with the first dragon to be seen in a thousand years threatens to reveal all his secrets.

Talfryn commits a taboo every time he leaves the mountains. Yet for an outcast, long banished from the dragons’ last city, taboos are trifles. He’s more interested in acquiring items for his hoard. Drawn by the scent of a rare enchantment, he’ll risk everything, including his freedom, to find the source.

Don’t miss out on the excitement! Pre-order your copy now.

 

Books · gay romance · lgbt

Cover Reveal: Forbidden Enchantment

It’s finally here! The cover for my fantasy Forbidden Enchantment. I cannot tell you how excited I am about this story and these characters. While it still features many things you’ve come to expect from my writing, it’s also a little bit of a departure from my normal style, but in a good way.

Inspired by a prompt and the urge to write high fantasy that isn’t set in quasi-Medieval Europe Forbidden Enchantment is a fantasy with a bit of a twist. It features many queer characters including both protagonists. Here is an unofficial blurb for you:

Sidhe cannot lie. Yet Cedric does it every day. Lying about everything from being happy to being human. Hiding his true appearance with glamor runes, he’s managed to live quietly among humans for nearly fifty years. Now, he’s headed for the capital of the Empire at the request of the Empress. A chance meeting with the first dragon to be seen in a thousand years threatens to reveal everything he’s kept hidden.

Talfryn breaks taboo everytime he leaves the mountains. Yet for an outcast, long banished from the dragons’ last city, taboos are trifles. He’s more interested in getting items for his hoard. This means taking risks, including battling knights to get their enchanted shields. Drawn by the scent of a rare enchantment he’ll risk everything, including his freedom, to find the source.

Forbidden Enchantment will be coming soon from Less Than Three Press. I’ll keep you updated on release dates. ^_^

 

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asexual · book review · Books · mogai · Uncategorized

Book Review: Perfect Rhythm by Jae

This past week, October 22-28, was asexual awareness week.

Asexual Awareness Week is an international campaign that seeks to educate about asexual, aromantic, demisexual, and grey-asexual experiences and to create materials that are accessible to our community and our allies around the world.

Asexuality is not a widely known orientation so when I realized Holly Drummond in Perfect Rhythm identifies as ace, I was absolutely thrilled. And a little worried.

 

51hkkc5gpul-_sy346_Pop star Leontyne Blake might sing about love, but she stopped believing in it a long time ago. What women want is her image, not the real her. When her father has a stroke, she flees the spotlight and returns to her tiny Missouri hometown.

In her childhood home, she meets small-town nurse Holly Drummond, who isn’t impressed by Leo’s fame at all. That isn’t the only thing that makes Holly different from other women. She’s also asexual. For her, dating is a minefield of expectations that she has decided to avoid.

Can the tentative friendship between a burned-out pop star and a woman not interested in sex develop into something more despite their diverse expectations?

A lesbian romance about seeking the perfect rhythm between two very different people—and finding happiness where they least expect it.

Thankfully, I didn’t need to be. Jae is a fantastic writer and I’m so glad I grabbed this book. I saw a promo for in on Tumblr and the mention of a lesbian from my home state of Missouri piqued my interest. Granted, I’d never read contemporary f/f before and I wasn’t certain what to expect.

What I got was a lovely, blossoming relationship between two amazing women. When I first started I braced myself, unsure if I’d be able to connect with Leo Blake, the main protagonist. I needn’t have worried. She is wonderfully down to earth and relatable for a pop star. She’s stubborn and full of pride but not so much that she won’t admit mistakes or try her best to rectify things that have gone wrong.

While I love Leo, Holly was the one I really connected with for obvious reasons. I really appreciated how Jae handled Holly’s asexuality, including being frank about how pressured we can feel in relationships.

So many parts of this book hit home for me and not just the setting. It was refreshing to read a story where the asexual character wasn’t ‘fixed’ by having sex or ever pressured into the act at all. I also greatly appreciated the content warning before the chapter that had a sex scene in it.

All the characters were wonderfully fleshed out and made the whole journey with Leo and Holly that much more interesting. I loved having plenty of time to get to know them. I know a lot of people call this a ‘slow burn’ romance, but it is still fast-paced by my standards. xD

Overall, I delighted in reading this book. It was thoughtful, funny and moving.

book review · Books · gay romance · lgbt · mogai

Book Review: Seer’s Stone by Holly Evans

October is my month to read and plan for NaNoWriMo. It’s a good way for me to get through my TBR pile … if it quit growing. Anyway, I decided to kick the month off with the brand new release Seers Stone by Holly Evans. Part of the Ink Born world, it is full of fun and magic.  Here is the official blurb:

My name’s Kaitlyn Felis, and I’m a treasure-hunting alchemist.
51nauuwe29lI was given the opportunity of a lifetime to work for a mysterious elf called Fein Thyrin. Not only did he give me my dream alchemy lab, one that came with a beautiful part-nymph assistant (she’ll be the end of me, in the best possible way) he’s also hired me as his personal treasure-hunter. To say I was excited is a drastic understatement.

First on my treasure-hunting list? The Seers Stone – it’s a thing of legends, and I’m going to be the first hunter to get my hands on it.

Seers Stone stars Kaitlyn Felis, a fun, feisty, flirty heroine who I quickly fell in love with. Her companion will’o-the-whisp, Wispy, is adorable and adds just the right touch of humor when things are getting a bit dicey. And they do indeed get dicey at points. Kaitlyn might be an alchemist but she also craves adventure and treasure hunting is the perfect outlet for that. While most of the time I find characters like her grating, she was amazingly well grounded and not above calling herself out on her own bullshit. Something I’ve come to love about Holly’s writing is the fact that her protagonists are allowed to make mistakes and be assholes, but they also acknowledge where they went wrong when the time comes.

I will also say that typically I don’t care for characters who sleep around. Mostly because of personal reasons. I’m demisexual and the thought of sleeping with someone I’ve just met is both baffling and terrifying. But this felt so much different. Kaitlyn is all about adventure and trying new things, and sex is just another component of that. It helped that encounters didn’t feel forced and the scenes were sweet and emotion-focused rather than your typical blow-by-blow erotica (don’t get me wrong, I love those too, when in the right place).

It was great to see Tyn again as well as a couple other familiar faces. As always Evans took us to some spectacular places as well as some rather creepy/depressing areas. It’s nice to see such a well-rounded world. Yes, there is wonderful beautiful magic, but there is also a rather dismal and terrifying underbelly as well. And magic definitely has its cost.

Overall, this was a fun, fast-paced read and I’m very much looking forward to more of Kaitlyn.

 

Limited Print Edition of Masquerade

Get your very own limited edition print copy of Masquerade.

$10.00

book review · Books · lgbt

Book Review: Blood & Ink by Holly Evans

51n2bwvpdrilIt has been quite a while since I’ve read urban fantasy yet this past month I’ve seemingly been on a UF kick.  While it’s not high on my list of go-to genre’s (mostly due to lack of MOGAI representation) I have enjoyed it in the past. Which is what makes Evans’ book all that much more fun to me.

When I picked up Stolen Ink a few weeks ago, I had no idea what to expect and found myself completely wrapped up in the story and characters. I read nearly the entire thing in one sitting. Thankfully, I’d had the forethought to buy the second at the same time as the first. I delved right in as soon as I had a spare moment. And again the story and characters held me captivated from start to finish. I even took my Kindle to the pool with me so I could keep reading. Evans was kind enough to indulge my Twitter flailing.

All flailing aside, this book was excellent for several reasons. I appreciated the added world building that I missed in book one. Learning more about the magic system was fascinating and I love her take on the fae and Sidhe. There were only a few little things that tripped me up here and there such as repetitive phrases, but overall nothing serious. The characters are lifelike, well written, and believable. The plot buzzes along but doesn’t leave you grasping for context or missing pertinent details.

Mostly I enjoyed getting to know Dacian better. While at times he gets pissy and aggressive, it’s never without reason and I love that he’s allowed to make mistakes and be totally human, selfish and then own up and deal with consequences. It is also nice to see side characters be fully realized with their own motivations and for Dacian to have to adjust his perceptions as he learns things.

Keirn is such a sweetheart and I feel so much for him. I’m looking forward very much to learning more about him in the next book.

The next book, Ink Bound, comes out August 4th! You’re going to want to pre-order this one, I promise you. I’m so glad I did. I can hardly stand the wait after finishing Blood & Ink.

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book review · Books · gay romance

Book Review: Ice in Sunlight

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

 

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“I think I’m supposed to be dead.”

Corwen’s emotions are a frozen wasteland after years of enslavement and abuse. When he’s finally rescued, freedom isn’t enough to thaw the wintry landscape of his heart.

Slowly, his new compatriots teach him that physical intimacy is a sacred gift, that pleasure can be shared without pain. With endless patience, they offer him a different way of being.

In order to be whole, Corwen must surrender the self-loathing he wears like armor. Can he learn to see himself the way his new companions do? Or will he hide from love forever in the icy vault that shields his deepest soul?

Ice in Sunlight is a full-length M/M fantasy tale. It is intended for mature readers only due to adult themes and content.

This is one of the few times I will post a review for a book I did not finish. While I personally did not care for the book I know the style and subject matter are something many might find compelling. Please do not let my personal opinion sway you from picking this book up, there are still many reasons to read it.

While I find Julia’s writing style pleasurable to read and the prose clear and evocative, from page one I found it impossible to connect with Corwen. I appreciated that Julia showed Corwen struggling to cope with the horrible things that had been done to him without having to actually show the abuse itself. His reaction to the changing situation is proof enough.

That being said, after six chapters of listening to Corwen’s derision at being shown kindness and many references to his daydreams of dying I could no longer handle his attitude. It might have helped if there was a break from his constant melancholy. I would have appreciated another viewpoint, such as from Amir, to give me a respite from Corwen’s depression and show me why the trio felt compelled to help him beyond the seemingly altruistic motives.

I finally closed the book on chapter six. I have enough dealing with my own self-loathing, depression and post trauma issues and would rather not read a whole book dealing with someone else’s. Unfortunately, Corwen was not someone with whom I could relate. Corwen has no redeeming qualities outside of his pining after Elias, he’s cruel and manipulative and knows he is. It is what has kept him alive this long. I really wanted to like him, but after spending half a book with him, I was done. I suppose it is a good thing Amir and the others have more patience since I no longer cared whether this frosty young man ever thawed or not.

 

Tomorrow join me on Queer Sci-Fi for an interview with author and editor Ryan Vance.

Please consider supporting me on Patreon.

 

 

 

 

Books · Going Over the Rainbow · mogai

New Book Release: Masquerade

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I’d hoped to have this ready back in February, but life.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ In other news the Going Over the Rainbow series is going on hiatus while a major revamp/restructure is in the works. I hope to have more news for you soon. I’m super excited about the new direction and I think it will be much more helpful to writers and really anyone looking to bring more diversity into their lives.

Now on to the new release.

Masquerade is a novella prequel to The Jeweled Dagger and follows Lafayette on their ill-fated mission in Galey. If you’ve had a chance to read The Jeweled Dagger this will give you more insight into what happened and introduce you to a couple of characters who are only mentioned in passing in the novel. If you’ve not had a chance to read the novel and want to read this first, it’s a great introduction to Lafayette & Genevieve. The events lead directly into the opening of The Jeweled Dagger.

Plots and intrigue are Marchioness Genevieve Merlot’s specialty, and opulent balls teeming with bored aristocrats are the perfect opportunity to uncover the secrets behind idle gossip and courtly scheming.

However, things take a sinister turn when they overhear a plot to assassinate the Orandon Queen.

It will take all their skill and ingenuity  not only to survive but to foil the assassins and return home.

Masquerade is available for pre-order on Amazon as an e-book only release. It will be available June 1st.

The Jeweled Dagger CoverYou can purchase The Jeweled Dagger here:

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Books · Characters · gay romance · Going Over the Rainbow · lgbt · mogai · Movies · writing · Writing FUNdamentals

Going Over the Rainbow: The Trope Trap

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All joking aside, accountability is something that professionals of any discipline face. Even us writers.

Yes, you read that right. You, my dear writer, are accountable to your reader. Well yes, you say, I should give them the best story I can write.

Yes you should, but it goes beyond that too. If you’ve written for long you’ve probably ended up having to do some research into an unfamiliar topic. We often joke about hoping the government isn’t keeping too close an eye on our internet research history. There are many resources available online to help us flesh out our characters and our setting. One Stop For Writers is a great example. However, while we might research settings, the job our character has and where they live; sometimes we forget that other things need research too.

Jami Gold had several excellent articles about writing with diversity and the research that goes along with it.

Ask if the Story Is Ours to Tell: If we don’t have direct experience with the diverse element, a story that centers on the diverse aspect might suffer from disrespectful negative stereotypes or breathless, isn’t-it-inspirational-how-they-overcame-those-obstacles “positive” stereotypes. (Note that treating a character’s diverse element as a problem to overcome isn’t actually positive.) — Jami Gold

Sometimes when we are writing a character, even when we’ve done research, we might find ourselves slipping into stereotypes or tropes. They are like clichés. They are comfortable and familiar. Unlike clichés they can be damaging and perpetuate some very harmful thinking.

We can usually spot harmful racial stereotypes. I wrote about avoiding stereotypes in a previous post. I still recommend WritingWithColor, DiversityCrossCheck and betas to help with racial/cultural sensitivity. But tropes aren’t always stereotypes, so how do we know if we are falling into the trope trap?

Trumping the Tropes

There are a LOT of tropes out there. And they are not all bad, most exist for a reason and like popular themes don’t have to be eschewed completely and can even be used to good effect. Over the course of this series I will be addressing various tropes and how they relate to the identity or orientation I’m discussing. In case you are curious as to how many there are TV Tropes Queer as Tropes page is a good place to start.

One of the most prevalent tropes is Bury Your Gays. Queer persons never get happy endings. Ever. Often they die.

Or, more recently, they are the villain.

This doesn’t mean that your queer character has to survive and not be evil. However, it does mean that you need to be very careful about how you approach each of those circumstances. Just as careful as you’d be about casting a black man as a street thug.

Tropes at their most basic are indeed stereotypes and thus need to be very carefully considered. Many common romance themes are tropes in disguise.

  • Stereotypes: Not literary. We avoid using this term to talk about classifying characters, settings, plot points, etc..
  • Archetypes: The broad, all-encompassing norms of the stories humanity tells. The same archetypes can be found in all or nearly all cultures.
  • Tropes: Culturally-specific norms in storytelling. Tropes are cultural classifications of archetypes. There can be many tropes found under the umbrella of one archetype. Literary devices are not tropes (i.e. narrators, foreshadowing, flashbacks, etc.).
  • Clichés: Overused and hackneyed phrases, characters, settings, plot points, etc.. Archetypes do not become clichéd. Tropes can become clichés if they are used too often and readers get bored of them. Clichés are defined by a loss of the meaning or as a distraction from the story.

Definition list from WriteWorld.org.

If we find ourselves falling back on common tropes a lot in our writing5 Questions to Ask Yourself (1), we might need to ask ourselves why. There is absolutely nothing wrong with using tropes but we need to make sure we are giving them our own special treatment. This is easily done by combining two or more tropes or even subverting or flipping them.

Let’s look at some examples:

All Gays Are Promiscuous trope is the stereotype that a gay man is completely driven by lust and must therefore have sex all the time.

Game of Thrones: Downplayed by Ser Loras Tyrell; he is rather easily seduced by an attractive male prostitute, and exchanges significant glances with the openly bisexual Oberyn Martell not long after his lover Renly Baratheon is killed. He mostly comes across as this in comparison to his literary incarnation, who falls into a deep depression after Renly’s death, is apparently celibate, and shows signs of being a Death Seeker.

Wallace Wells, Scott Pilgrim‘s cool gay roommate, is characterized with this trope, even going so far as to hang a lampshade it when chastising Scott for infidelity.

Scott: Double standard!
Wallace: Hey, I didn’t make the gay rules. If you don’t like it, take it up with Liberace’s ghost!
Are there gay men who like to sleep around? Yes, or course, just as there are lesbians, bi-sexuals, pansexuals and straight people who do the same. But the issue comes when we perpetuate it as a defining trait of being gay. This trope is very easily subverted by letting our gay character be in a committed relationship that is not centered on sexual gratification. After all that’s the kind of relationships many of us have and enjoy.
So, do you see how a trope can be trouble? But why should you care?

Jumping the Shark

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The blockbuster movie Jaws launched a national campaign against the ‘man eaters’ and contributed to the drastic decline in the shark population. To this day, the stereotype against sharks persists.

The film’s key mistake was portraying great white sharks as vengeful predators that could remember specific human beings and go after them to settle a grudge. — How ‘Jaws’ Forever Changed Our View of Great White Sharks by Charles Q. Choi

This is just one example of how harmful a negative portrayal in our work can be on others. This is why I wanted to address the issue of accountability with you and how it relates to using tropes.

As authors we enjoy the privilege of having readers accept our words at face value (for the most part). People trust us. What we show them in our fiction, no matter what we write— paranormal, romance, thriller, mystery, literary, et cetera—has an impact on their thinking and their perception of the world around them. This is why we have to be so careful about stereotypical or negatively portrayed characters from marginalized identities/orientations/races/cultures.

This is why I say we are accountable. Our words have power. The power to create understanding and empathy or further the divide. This is why research from valid sources is so important and why we must recognize our own tendency toward common tropes and stereotypes when writing.


 

Now that I’ve got most of the preliminary issues out of the way, it’s time to start delving into the various gender identities and sexual orientations. As we move forward, I’d like to encourage you to refer back to these posts and keep these things in mind.

What are your thoughts on author accountability? Have you ever come across a negative portrayal that affected you personally? Have you read any books where certain characters were walking stereotypes? Do you have any other comments or questions for me?

If you enjoyed this post and would like access to exclusive content please consider supporting me on Patreon.

Books · lgbt · mogai

The Jeweled Dagger Pre-Order News and Book Release Party

It’s been just over a year since I started working on The Jeweled Dagger. It all started from a NaNoWriMo boot camp in 2013 and a little righteous indignation at an editor over being told to take out Lafayette’s ‘cross dressing.’ I quit the boot camp when it became obvious I wasn’t going to get any support writing a non-traditional romance. I’ve never once regretted my decision.

Over the past year I’ve had amazing support from my friends, both online and off, and the lovely staff at my local comic book store who let me come haunt their premises.

This book would not have been possible without the help of the exceptional Jean Mabbs and the amazing Eleonore Eder and my lovely sprinting partner Joana Maia. You all are invaluable and this book would not exist without you.

The Jeweled Dagger Cover

Genderfluid spy Lafayette Goddard knows better than to trust anyone in their line of work. Now they sit in prison with information that could save the Queen yet they cannot bring themselves to trust the new Captain of the Royal Guard. Even if it means losing everything they’ve worked so hard for.

All Captain Jasper Stanton ever wanted was a chance to prove himself. Mistakenly imprisoning Lafayette isn’t how he planned on distinguishing himself. Now he must try to win the former spy’s respect if he wants cooperation investigating the conspiracy.

The secret to finding out who is plotting to kill the Queen lies with Lafayette’s mysterious informant known only as the Jeweled Dagger. The closer Jasper gets to Lafayette, the more he wonders just how much is being hidden from him.

The Jeweled Dagger is currently available for pre-order  and will be available Feb 1st.

I’m inviting anyone who can attend, to the book release party on Feb 13th from 11am till 8pm at Collectomaniacs here in Ozark. If you cannot make it in person, don’t worry I’ll be hosting an online party as well (I’ll post details once they are finalized). You will find your personal invitation here. I look forward to seeing or hearing from you and hope you’ll join me in celebrating this unique novel.

Book Release Party Flyer

book review · Books

Queer Lit Book Review: Lord Mouse

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I’ve been reading a lot of great books lately but it’s been a rare thing to find a book that hits all my literary kinks.

I’ve been searching for well crafted fantasy with queer characters for so long I almost decided to write something myself. Then I happened upon a review by Just Love that sounded promising.

Boy did it deliver.

Lord Mouse is everything I’ve been lusting after in a fantasy novel. The main character is Mouse, a tiny little badass thief and assassin, and no he doesn’t have a heart of gold but he does pride himself on a job well done. If you can afford him. He’s never failed a job and when he gets a chance at a challenging job that pays more coin than he’s ever seen he’s not about to turn it down.

And that’s exactly what gets him into trouble.

Thomas does a fantastic job at throwing you right into Mouse’s world and a dark, dirty, gritty world it is. Thomas takes you from the cruel criminal underbelly, up the rungs of the social ladder in a way that feels natural, but not too easy. Mouse has to work for his contacts and information and sometimes it’s a blade and sometimes it’s a bed.

As an asexual I’m not a big fan of casual hook-ups but the sex scenes were never gratuitous and were mostly fade-to-black moments. This was something I appreciated. The story was about Mouse’s character growth, not about sexual escapades.

It was also very refreshing to read a book where being gay wasn’t something to angst over. It was just treated as part of who he is, which in my opinion, is as it should be.

I loved getting to know Mouse but I sincerely wish the story had been longer and I think it should have been. The first act is spent getting Mouse into position to do this big rescue mission and then we spend the next act of the book with him trying to escape. I did enjoy it very much, but I felt the last third was rushed and would have liked to have seen Garron and Mouse get to know each other better before the end. The big reveal at the end could have packed a lot more punch had we had a chance to get to know Garron better.

Ideally the rescue could have happened by the end of the first act and the second act could have had a longer build up to the finale. I feel that a longer second act would have helped with the rushed feel to their relationship and the finale. I would have happily read 80-100K words of these two.

I was also disappointed with the copy editing and found a few instances where a side character’s name was misspelled from one page to the next, which wouldn’t have been a big deal but it threw me out of the story for a moment as I tried to figure out who was being mentioned.

Overall, these issues were minor and I thoroughly enjoyed the story and am eager to read anything else Thomas writes.