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Half off sale all month!

Erin O’Quinn is one of my favorite writers, and has written some phenomenal books. If you can only buy one series (though at half off, more than one should be doable, right?), I’d recommend getting The Gaslight Mysteries (Heart to Hart, Sparring with Shadows, To the Bone, Thin as Smoke, and Masters of Cane). It’s 1923 in a fictitious town in Ireland. Michael McCree, a lusty, rough and ready unashamedly gay man (but still not completely out as being gay was illegal at the time) is determined to win a place in Simon Hart’s flat, his private investigations business and his heart. Simon is nowhere near out, not even to himself, so Michael has quite a chase ahead of him. But what man doesn’t love a good chase? These two will capture your own heart and have you laughing, crying, cheering and cussing the pair of them through all the books. Though they are fully realized characters from the beginning, they grow and change throughout each book and the series as a whole. If you love M/M romance with the thrill of mystery and danger added, you’ll love the Gaslight Mysteries series. So, go get the books (but wait until after midnight 1 July to take advantage of this astounding sale.
Don’t forget to leave Erin reviews after you read the books!

The Man in Romance

This notice is for Erin O’Quinn’s blog followers, a sneak preview.

During July, starting at midnight July 1, the following “sweet sixteen” gay-lit titles will be half-off, only at Smashwords.

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You’ll find these works in epub format, which you can read on your e-device. (Don’t worry about the discount codes…Smash will supply them when you purchase).

Here’s your link, and happy reading! http://bit.ly/1s3cf1q

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The Dark Alley

This is an unusual post, in that it has many authors. Yesterday in a writers’ group I’m in, we had a “Tantalizing Tuesday,” where we posted flash fiction (500 words or fewer) or poetry, using one of a set of photos, or one of four sentences as an inspiration point. Bonita Franks and I, with the authors’ permissions, of course, are posting the resulting fiction or poems to our blogs. Bonita has done half (a link to follow), and this is my half. They were all done using the same photo. Here it is. I’ll add similar images as we go.

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Intriguing, isn’t it? Here are the submissions:

Yikes! Somehow I missed grabbing a submission! I’m so sorry! Here it is, in pride of place, to make up for my goof. (Forgive me, Kathy?)

 

Kathy Griffith

Dark Alley

The young man approached the narrow staircase with quite a bit of nervousness; this was the first time he’d even thought to explore his sexuality, and he was prepared. He patted the pocket of his coat where he had stuffed a few condoms. He heard soft sighs and grunts coming from the shadows.

Was he really ready for this?

He leaned against the cool brick, waiting his turn, sweating. In his peripheral vision, he saw a bear of a man fumbling with his zipper, tidying himself up before exchanging a few dollars, then moving on. Apparently, oral was the specialty here, and he wasn’t really ready for anything else anyway. He shuffled forward when the prostitute crooked his finger, and as he approached, seeing the man in the soft glow of the dirty lightbulb, his eyes grew wide and he gasped.

“DAD?”

======

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Kelley York

The atmosphere is too much. The smoke, the smell of cigars permeating the room, the raucous laughter and buzz of hundreds of conversations going on all at once. Coming here was a mistake, one Ben has to rectify. 

He ducks out a back door into the rainy night, yanking loose his tie and the top button of his shirt. With a few heavy breaths to steady his nerves, he slouches back against the cool brick, gazing down the steps to the street below, studying the reflections of street lights off parked cars. Alexander brought him here to unwind with a few drinks, and here he was, running out on him. Hardly polite.

The door creaks open, momentarily allowing the chaos from inside to escape, and Alexander steps out, brows twitching into a frown. “There you are. Everything all right?”

Ben squares his shoulders and offers an apologetic smile. “Sorry. It was a bit much, is all.”

The taller man crams his hands into his pockets, coming down a step to stand before him. The door swings shut, plummeting them into near silence again. “We didn’t have to come here, you know.”

“You wanted to.” 

“I didn’t care where we went, really. I just wanted to spend time with you.”

The confession makes Ben lift his startled gaze to Alexander’s face. “That’s… That’s a bit of a strange thing to say.”

Alexander shrugs, smiles, leans his shoulder into the wall beside Ben, putting them far closer than Ben ought to be comfortable with. “I suppose I’m a bit of a strange man.”

The proximity brings heat rushing to his cheeks. Were anyone to see them out here, like this, they’d never hear the end of it. And yet he can hardly muster a complaint when Alexander closes the remaining distance between them. Just like that, the rest of the world ceases to exist, no longer consisting of anything except them, an eager mouth against his in an empty stairwell.

 

 

Erik Schubach

He strained, pulling hard on the fabric of reality of the Victorian London alley around him. The warm, fluttering light of the oil lamp illuminating it, steadied into the cold lifeless glow of electrics. The carriages on the street below bled into the heartless steel automobiles of this century.

Gasping, he stepped through to this new place in time. Looking back, he smirked. Let’s see them follow him now.

 

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Neve Wilder

Frenchmen Street, #103

You walk by it every morning, the rough cinderblock flanks of the building, the sleek channel of stairs between. A safe deposit box of memory to which you still hold the key. You stop and plant your feet as you have every day that came before this one, stiff rubber soles dimpled by cracking pavement that will never be strong enough to contain the wildly beating heart of the city beneath. The heat from your coffee bleeds beyond its paper sleeve and fills in the lines of your palm. That psychic who once traced them with the edge of her thumbnail, she knew nothing. She was dead wrong. So you stand there and close your eyes and turn the key: 

After midnight in New Orleans, everyone is a ghost or demon. 

Between the two of you, you were never sure which was which. The breath that passed hot over the back of your neck could have been a spectral breeze, but the lips that followed were pure devilry.

You held onto the railing, fingers twisted around wrought iron so cold and damp it felt like a fever breaking. His fingers curling on top of yours, sliding between skin, the jigsaw fit of hands and bodies. When he moved, you did also, helplessly attuned to the primacy of his need and the way it moved through you like a riptide, sucking you under in a grip so tight and relentless you thought your bones might be ground to powder he could sprinkle in the coffee of other lovers. And you wanted it, oh god, you wanted every ounce of that voodoo alchemy between you. Craved it so much that the places he fucked you became so many love bites pressed into the broad shoulders of the city.

But that psychic was dead wrong and now what do you have but a head full of unwanted keys to safe deposit boxes of ghosts spanning the city where you once loved him and he once loved you back.

 

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Naomi Aoki

Yohei stumbled, banging into the rough stone wall of the alley and he winced. His breaths came in ragged gasps as he allowed himself a moment to rest, confident he didn’t need to run anymore. The men chasing him far behind, lost hopefully.

He moved again, fingers digging into the cracked morter not wanting his descent to be hurried. Tumbling was still a possibility, his jellified-legs protesting loudly about the previous activity. Yohei stared ahead, cars whizzed past on the wide street below casting red and white light into the shadows illuminating each step still to be taken. It promised him crowds. People rushing from one pub to another, businessmen taking detours on the way home from work. 

It promised him safety. A place to hide; to disappear. Yohei needed to disappear if he wanted to keep breathing. 

The information he carried need to be delivered to the right hands, ones that would use it and not bury it beneath layers of corruption. But he could worry about that tomorrow. Tonight he needed to stay alive.

Yohei breathed deep, easier and the scent of food filled his lungs. His stomach grumbled, reminding Yohei he hadn’t eaten since breakfast. Since he’d made the decision to take what he’d found and escape. Yohei ignored it, pushing on toward the promised safety. Too dangerous to stop and eat now. He couldn’t risk being found.

Two more steps.

He paused at the end of the alley and hesitantly peered at the bustling street. Carefully he took in the people passing by assessing them for danger and relaxed when he couldn’t see any. Danger might lurk in the shadows, but he couldnt see any sign that he’d been tracked down. Yohei took a breath calming his panicked nerves and stepped out.

“You had to run, didn’t you Yohei?” A sinister voice broke through teh shadows into the light and one Yohei knew well. He froze. “Lead my men on a merry chase.”

Yohei tried to step back and find another route to escape. His shoulders slumped as he collided with a wall of muscle. “I thought they could do with the exercise.”

He should have realised escape was not possible. Ever.

“Let’s go home, Yohei and I’ll forget that you tried to leave me. But I wont be so generous if you try it again.”

 

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Jason Griswold

The City isn’t Safe at Night

Nick knew better than to walk home alone at night. His mother always warned him that the city isn’t safe at night. The walk from work was only five minutes, though. What was the harm?

The echo of footfalls behind him began three blocks back. He contemplated ducking into a restaurant or bar, but he passed into a residential neighborhood, so that wouldn’t work. He sped up, his footfalls clicking faster as he looked for refuge. 

He knew not to glance back. His mother always said that was dangerous. But so was walking alone at night. Bad things can happen. 

Up ahead he saw a group of people walking in his direction. Just act like you’re meeting them, then walk back toward the restaurants. Call for a ride.

Instead, he walked past the group, ducking into a dark alley up ahead. There was a single light at the bottom of a set of stairs, leading up into darkness. As he pondered if he should ascend, He felt a jolt, as he was pushed from behind.. 

his assailant was large. He was armed with a knife, and a snarl. “Listen up!” he growled. “Empty your bag, buddy.” Nick looked at him. “Open your bag. Empty it. Give me your money, jewelry, and wallet.”

“Please…” Nick said. “Please, sir. You don’t want to do this.”

“Oh yeah? Why not?” He asked.

“Because, it isn’t safe at night. You never know what bad things might happen.”

The man pointed the knife in his face. “Money. Wallet. Now.”

He paused. Nick stood in front of him, eyes closed. When he finally opened his eyes, they gleamed yellow. His face contorted into a monstrous grimace. his teeth became razors, his skin furred. The beast that once was NIck leapt forward, grabbing the brute by the throat, and dragged him up the stairs into the pitch black.

As he tore out the mugger’s throat, the beast that once was Nick had a strange, human thought. His mother was always right.

The City isn’t safe at night. For anyone.

~~~~~~~

All images credited to user hotblack at morguefile.com.

As promised, here’s the link to Bonita’s post.

Winter 2018

The winter that robbed us of our children,
The winter that took away our souls,
The still, silent, purity of snow annihilated, made nihil, nothing
By violent sprayed blood
By shrieks and running feet
By terror, muffled, sobbing, knee-wrapped
In a corner, praying
“Don’t let them hear me, don’t let them find me,
I’ll promise you anything, but don’t let them hear me!”
The shame-filled joy that the scream
Ripped from a young throat
Was thank god someone else’s
And not their own.
The winter that destroyed our innocence,
The winter that fractured our dreams——
Does it yet hold a spring?

Review – The Harvested by Kindra Sowder

I gave this one 5 stars —

Review: Harvested by Kindra Sowder
CONTAINS semi-spoilers
Harvested is the first book in a five-book series, the finale of which will be published in June, and as the opener, Harvested is a well-crafted introduction to the setting and the characters. Mila and her friends Julius, Nero and Cato are taken by the government, along with others, to an isolated secret laboratory complex, to undergo testing due to their unusual powers and abilities. There, they are subjected to various biological tests, isolation and constant surveillance. While no one in their group knows what’s going to happen to them, or what’s being done to the others, they do know that the head of the government, Dictator King, is power hungry and wants to rule the world as well as the United States. Because he is so singleminded, they suspect that their kidnapping and disappearance is part of his plan, but have no clue what he envisions as their role.
Mila is the central character, and she is put through many incidents of laboratory testing, having blood drawn and biopsies taken with no explanation and usually under intense sedation, all without explanation. Gradually, she comes to trust her doctor and her guard, until King forces her into a “test” with the threat of death for all of her friends and family if she refuses. After that violation, Mila changes and becomes determined to fight in any way she can, though she will not use her power—the ability to cause another person’’s blood to boil.
Julius and Mila, along with new friend Caius and her guard and doctor plan an escape. It does not go well, though the book ends on a positive note.
This book is fast-paced and, as it was designed to do, leaves the reader wanting more, though this portion of the story is completely contained in Harvested. I recommend reading it when you have time to sit and read cover-to-cover; it is a page-turner and you won’t want to put it down.

Returning

It’s been a long time. I’ve thought I was ready to come back before, and I just wasn’t. What’s different this time? I’m writing again. (It’s OK to cheer, if you like.) I’ve been working on a revision of Bittermoon, and that’s done, in the hands of my publisher and about to be released as part of a box set of the three books in the series. I’m currently revising two books, one a contemporary M/M romcom and the other an epic fantasy saga. I really mean it with the “epic” thing—it’s running, in its unrevised form, a million and a quarter words. It won’t be that big when I’m done, but it will still be pretty long, 6 or 7 books. That one is M/F, M/F/F, M/M/F/, M/M/F/F and other wild things when the dragons involve the humans in their rituals. Also rumbling around in my head are a couple of other ideas, a sequel to Raveneye, and a stand-alone set in the Fallow Moon universe (the guys in the trilogy will likely make cameo appearances in that one.). I’m excited about writing again!

Be prepared, get ready — the Fallow Moon box set will be released on 1 September. There will be a brand-new opening to Bittermoon (book 1), some tweaks and the like to Stygian Moon and Fallow Moon, and gorgeous new art by my cover artist extraordinaire, Rebecca Poole of Dreams2Media. Look for more activity here, too. Some of it will be political, most of it not. I can’t close my eyes to the horrible things happening in this country and the world, but I will try to keep a civil tongue at least nearby if not in my head.

It’s good to be back! As always, feel free to comment. I enjoy hearing from you.

Raveneye is live and I’m giving away stuff! I’m a Rafflecopter virgin, so I’m not quite sure how this is working, since I have multiple prizes, but if it doesn’t work properly, I’ll set up separate giveaways for each prize. The prizes are:
$5 Amazon gift card
Copy of Roman (Saints and Sinners) by Kennedy Streath
Copy of the box set Burns mysteries by Erin O’Quinn
Copy of your choice of books by Sessha Batto
$25 Amazon gift card

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I’m SO excited!

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Guess What?

Starting tomorrow, I’ll be running a giveaway here on my blog in conjunction with the release of my new book, Raveneye! It will run through the end of the week (until October 28, midnight CST) and the prizes are great – Amazon gift cards, copies of my book Raveneye, a copy of Roman (Saints and Sinners) by Kennedy Streath, and gorgeous silver chopsticks from Sessha Batto! There will be more than one gift card and more than one copy of my book. (Only one from Kennedy and only one set of chopsticks, so cross your fingers hard!

Here’s a bit of the book to whet your appetite. [WARNING: 18+ only]

Edie laughed and retreated to her station. After a few minutes, she looked up and said, “He checked out early. Did you know that?”
“What?”
“At least you didn’t say, ‘who’. He had booked a month here, Teo, but he left after… Teo, he was only here four days. He checked out on the twelfth.”
The day after I saw him in the desert. Damn.
“Something happened while he was here.” She turned to stare at Teo again. “Do you know what it was? You do, don’t you? Oh my God, Teo, did he try something funny with you?”
“No! He’s straight, Edie, as he was at pains to let me know.”
“Oohh. Did you try something funny with him, then?”
“Do you want those drinks or not?”
“You know I do, sweets.” She glanced up at the clock. “In fact, the late shift should be here any minute. You ready to go?”
“I need to change.”
“Go on and do that. I’ll meet you there, all right?”
He nodded, shut down his computer, and headed for his cottage, arguing with himself until he was standing in his bedroom, jeans and a tee in hand. Why did I agree to drinks? I don’t want to do this. I can’t tell her what happened. Damn. We’ve smoked together often enough over the years, and the peyote isn’t exactly secret from her either, but Raveneye? No, I can’t tell her that. I won’t go. But I can’t stand her up. I’ll have one shot, then make an excuse and come home. I could call her and cancel. I need to know what the gossip mill is churning out. I need to know why he left. My God, he left! Because he saw a bird in the desert? It was more than that. He made us… Raveneye welcome to perch with him. We should have… I should have… damn!
The mirror he’d been avoiding confirmed Edie’s assessment. There were dark circles under his eyes, and his favorite jeans slipped low on his hips. Rode hard, and put away wet, if at all. I can’t let him get to me like this. He was threading a belt through the loops on his jeans when the knock sounded.
“It’s me, Teo.”
“It’s open, Edie.”
“Brought us a bottle, baby. No need to get all dolled up. Or all GI Joe’d up in your case. Shot glasses in the same place?”
“Yeah. Thanks. Be out in a few.”
“Oh, you’re not dressed? I’ll be right there. I know I can’t have any, but I can look, can’t I?” She walked into the bedroom. “Teo, what the hell is that?”
Teo scrambled for his t-shirt and yanked it over his head. “Don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Edie stood close enough to pull up the tee and run her fingers over the marks. “Teo, those are wounds on your pecs. They look like claw marks. Oh, God, have you let some asshole hurt you?”
“No!”
Edie raised a brow.
“Okay, yes, but the asshole was me, all right?”
“No, not all right.” She grabbed his hand and pulled him toward the living area. “We’re doing twofer shots until you start talking.”
Teo let himself be dragged to the counter while Edie lined up an entire set of shot glasses, and began filling them. She held up a small bag of limes and said, “Wedge them,” as she rummaged in the cabinet for the coarse salt. “Counter?”
“You know I’d rather sit on the floor.”
“Good. It’ll give you a chance to look up my skirt and see I’m not as much a woman yet as you think I am.”
In spite of himself, Teo chuckled. Edie could lighten the atmosphere without really working at it.
“Are you the only gay man in the world without a tray in his kitchen? Help me carry all this to that thing you use for a coffee table.”
“It is a coffee table. A table anyway,” Teo protested as he stacked the plate of lime wedges atop the bowl of salt, and did a finger-dip-and-grip with three of the shot glasses. Edie grabbed the others and followed him to the low table that was simply two planks on cinder blocks, covered with his grandmother’s Navajo blanket. “And don’t start. I know, you want to do that ‘decorate’ thing, but this suits me.”
“Wasn’t going to say a word.” She folded herself neatly tailor-fashion, leaning back against the utilitarian futon Teo was certain she would call ‘boring’. She lifted a shot glass, tipped it toward him and said, “To friends who listen.”
He grunted. “To friends who don’t pry,” he replied and slammed the shot back.
“Another, dude. It’s going to take a lot to get you to spill it.”
“Edie, I don’t want to talk about it.”
“You do. You just want me to persuade you. Drink that.”
Four shots later, Teo found himself wishing he’d eaten. Today. Maybe yesterday would have been a good idea, too. The tequila was buzzing between his ears, warm in his belly, and loosening his slurring tongue.
“He’s… It was hard… tough, having him there on my table, naked. I want him, Edie. Shit, I want him.”
“Don’t blame you. Day-yum.”
“No, no, not like that. OK, like that, but after I looked at him with my Other Eyes, it was worse.”
“Other eyes?”
“Yeah, the ones that see the deep stuff, the real and true.”
“I have no clue what you’re talking about, but keeping talking. Maybe I’ll catch on.”
“He’s so beautiful, Edie. And so different. Nobody’s like him.”
“Nobody’s like anybody else.”
“Not him. He’s not-like-anybody-else-r than… anybody else.”
Edie laughed, and the tequila she was pouring sloshed over the edge of Teo’s shot glass.
“Hey, don’t waste that! You brought the good stuff.”
“‘Course I did. Not gonna get my best friend drunk on the stomach-chewers.”
“Am I?”
“Am you what?”
“My best friend. Your best friend.”
“Oh, fuck, yes, honey. You accept me, like no one else does. And that’s why… why something. Oh, yeah, why I want to help you. You’re gonna let me help you, aren’t you, doll?” She leaned toward Teo and laid a hand on his arm. “Tell me what happened. Why you hurt yourself.”
Teo focused with an effort, and looked into her eyes. “It hurts, Edie. It hurt then and it hurts worse every day. The only way to make it stop was to… to try to dig the hurting place out. It didn’t work. I quit before I got deep enough.”
“Oh my god, Teo, you were trying to claw the pain in your heart out?”
He nodded.
“Were you tripping?”
“I… not exactly.” I can’t tell her those were Raveneye’s talons. She’ll want to take him away. If he ever forgives me for forcing him to do that.
“You either were or you weren’t. It’s like being pregnant. You can’t be a little bit pregnant. It’s yes or no. Drink this and tell me which it was.”
“I don’t think I can do another, baby.”
Her raised eyebrow told him she hadn’t missed the ‘baby.’ “Sure you can.”
It was futile to argue with her. Or maybe I really need to get out of my mind drunk. He tossed it back. “Set ‘em up again.”
“Good for you. Now, tripping?”
“Coming down. Coming… damn I wish I’d been coming.”
“I can make that happen for you, doll.”
“Shit, Edie, that sounds good. But friends shouldn’t…”
“Bullshit. Friends are the best fuck buddies.” She leaned closer, brushing his lips with her own. “I want it, too, Teo. All my junk is still there, baby. It’s just the boobs, and they’re nice and small.”
“Can you still… I mean, the hormones…”
“I haven’t been on them long. Can I get it up? Touch me and see.” She took his hand and slid it under the skirt that had inched up far enough he’d quit wondering about the surgery and lingerie choices. Commando seemed to be her preference.
“Oh, god, Edie. You’re hard.”
“Yes, baby. Hard for you.” She whispered into his ear. He shivered and she went on, “Yes, Teo, yes. Pull it out, baby. Let me see. God, let me get it good and wet before you fuck me with it.”
“Edie, I…”
“You need it. I need it. What’s the problem?” She fumbled with his belt buckle.
“We work together. We shouldn’t.”
“That’s not stopping you from taking a good grip. And it’s not going to stop me from riding you.” She kissed him, demanding his mouth, as she swung a leg over his lap to straddle him.
Teo groaned. “Don’t. Don’t take that cock out of my hand.”
She threw her head back and ground against him, and Teo was lost.