'I love you' is just the beginning of the story.

Giveaways and Blood and Ghosts Blog Tour!

BloodandGhostsFSBlood and Ghosts (Blood #2) releases this Monday, April 20th! Even better? Dreamspinner Press is running a great sale, you can preorder the book for 25% off. Haven’t read book #1, Blood and Rain, yet? That one’s also 25% off! Want to read an excerpt? Scroll down to the bottom of this post.

The pre-release giveaway for the  cool Dr. Who “Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey” pendant ends very soon (Sunday at midnight). You can enter the giveaway here:

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I’ll be giving away one more of these amazing pendants at the end oft he Blood and Ghosts Blog Tour. Details about that starting on release day.

There are three books planned in the Blood Series. For those of you who might have been putting off reading BloodandRainFSbook #1 because it has a bit of a cliffhanger at the end, the second book ends with a HFN. And of course, you’ll find a HEA at the end of book #3. Three, HEAs, to be precise! The last book in the series, Blood and Eternity, will be released in early 2016.

Here’s the list of wonderful blogs I’ll be visiting with my vampires and hunters over the next few weeks:

April 20th – Prism Book Alliance

April 21st – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

April 22nd – My Fiction Nook

April 23rd – Love Bytes

April 24th – MM Good Book Reviews

April 25th – Andrew Q. Gordon (The Land of Make Believe)

April 26th – Aisling Mancy

April 27th – Bike Book Reviews

April 28th – Charlie Cochet

April 29th – Hearts on Fire Book Reviews

April 30th – Kim Fielding

BloodandGhosts_headerbannerBlurb for Blood and Ghosts:

Sequel to Blood and Rain

With vampire Nicolas Lambert’s marriage to a rival clanswoman only weeks away, Adrien Gilbert struggles to come to terms with his defeat at the hands of Verel Pelletier, a vampire hunter and an immortal like himself. Adrien and his former teacher, Roland Günter, begin to explore his newly acquired abilities. But without his soul’s sword, Adrien flounders.

On Nicolas’s wedding day, a two-hundred-year old secret is revealed, sending the wedding party into a blazing battle between hunters and vampires. Once again Adrien finds himself facing Pelletier’s superior strength. Just as Adrien believes all hope of a future with Nicolas is lost, he finally learns his true gift—he can turn back time. But time travel comes with a high cost. To save Nicolas, Adrien must become strong enough to use his power without descending into madness.

Categories: Contemporary, Fantasy, Fiction, Gay Fiction, Historical, M/M Romance, Paranormal, Romance

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Reese Dante

Sales Links: Dreamspinner eBook and Paperback

 

SmBloodandGhostsFSExcerpt:

Adrien walked back onto the main street and over to the curb, where someone caught his eye. A man with short black hair walked toward him. Dressed in dark jeans, with a white shirt and dark wool jacket, he wore a single diamond stud in his left ear. A woman hurrying down the sidewalk dodged Adrien as he stopped, but the man behind him knocked him to his knees.

“Are you all right?” someone said with a hint of a French accent.

Adrien looked up into familiar brown eyes. Adrien inhaled slowly, hoping to head off the bloodlust that buzzed at the back of his brain. Heat tingled at the back of his neck, raising the hairs there. His palms felt suddenly sweaty. He felt sick. Not nausea—shock at seeing Nicolas here, realizing it really was Nicolas.

“Yes, I….” Adrien took the hand Nicolas offered and struggled back to his feet. The world spun and he grabbed Nicolas’s arm to steady himself.

“You’re not all right. You look ill. I should call an ambulance—”

“No ambulance.” Adrien righted himself. “I just need to eat something. It’s hotter than I realized.”

Nicolas glanced around, frowned, then said, “There’s a coffee shop at the corner.” He didn’t appear convinced by Adrien’s words. “Why don’t I help you over there?”

As if Adrien would object. “Thank you.”

Five minutes later they sat at a booth by the window, Adrien drinking coffee with a trembling hand. Adrien had watched Nicolas as they’d walked the short distance to the restaurant, his swordsman’s muscles straining against the fabric of his shirt. He looked only slightly older than he’d been when they met. “I’m sorry,” he said, coming back to himself and wondering why Nicolas was sitting with him when he could have left. “I must be keeping you from something.”

“No,” Nicolas answered. “In fact, I just came from a meeting. I’ve got the rest of the afternoon free.”

“I’m Adrien.” He forced a smile and set the empty mug down.

“Nicolas.”

“It’s good to meet you, Nicolas,” Adrien said in French. He drew another long breath and his heart slowed its gallop.

“Please call me Nico,” Nicolas said, also in French.

Andrew Q. Gordon’s “The Eye and the Arm”

eyeandthearmthe_fbbanner_dsppThe second book in Andrew Q. Gordon’s series, Champion of the Gods, has just been released by Dreamspinner Press Publications! Andrew’s running a special giveaway as part of the release celebration. You can find out how to enter below and read a bit more about the book as well! Congratulations, Andrew! -Shira

ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: The Eye And The Arm

Series: Champion of the Gods Book 2

BLURB:

TheEyeAndTheArm-Front-PreviewAfter defeating Meglar at Belsport, Farrell returns to Haven to recover from his injuries, but Khron, the god of war, has other ideas. He gives Farrell a new mission: free the survivors of the ancient dwarf realm of Trellham from their three-thousand-year banishment. To fulfill Khron’s near impossible task, Farrell will need the help of his distance ancestor, the legendary wizard Kel. But Kel has been dead for a thousand years.

Farrell finds information hinting that Kel is alive, so he moves his search to Dumbarten, Kel’s birthplace. To reach Dumbarten unannounced, Farrell and Miceral disguise themselves as mercenaries on board a merchant vessel. Their journey is disrupted when pirates attack their ship. While attempting to subdue the attack, Farrell is struck down by one of Meglar’s minions.

Unconscious and trapped in his own mind, Farrell’s only chance for survival rests with Miceral and the peregrine king Rothdin entering his thoughts and helping him sort fact from illusion. To reach Farrell, they will need to rely on an untested spell from one of Kel’s spellbooks. If they succeed, Miceral can guide Farrell home safely. If not, Farrell will destroy not only himself, but Miceral, Rothdin, and everyone around him.

DSP Publications

Length: 99,775 words/296 Pages

Release Date: April 14, 2015

Video Trailer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bk6OfKOU6nc&feature=youtu.be

EXCERPT:

“Relax, my friend.” Klissmor’s presence calmed Miceral’s growing anxiety. “You won’t feel my presence.”

Miceral took a deep breath. “Will I be able to hear?”

“Every word. Ready?”

“No, but let’s do it.” He took a deep breath and closed his eyes.

“I need your eyes open for everyone to see.”

He snapped his lids open, blinking several times before could focus again. “Sorry.”

“Master Teberus.” Miceral knew the words came from him, but as promised, he didn’t feel anything. “I have Masters Erstad and Wesfazial as well as Wizard-Priestess Glendora. Ask your questions to Miceral and we four will also hear you.”

“Astounding.” The elder Arlefor glanced at the high priestess. “All four at once?”

“Wizard.” Miceral had heard that tone enough to know Klissmor’s mood. “Maintaining this link, this far away with this many minds, is a strain. If we are to save Farrell, you must focus on him.”

“Of course. My apologies.” Teberus bowed deeply. “My examination of the one who did this to Farrell confirmed that he is no wizard.”

“Then how in the eight gates of Neblor did that man defeat Farrell?” Even though Teberus couldn’t know, Miceral recognized the voice as Wesfazial’s.

“The obvious answer is the correct one. A wizard gave this man the weapon.”

“But Farrell could defeat all four of us and all the other wizards you brought with you and not be tested.” Erstad’s steady temperament sounded tested. “No weapon used by a nonwizard should be capable of this.”

Teberus raised the crest of his hairless eyebrow. “But since that is what happened, we must use it as the basis of our search for a cure.”

No one answered. As the silence dragged on, Miceral’s anxiety slowly returned. If Haven’s senior wizards didn’t know what to do, who could?

“Tell us what happened.” Erstad’s request almost didn’t register with Miceral.

“No,” Klissmor said. “Show them. Let them see the memory.”

Miceral closed his eyes and focused on reliving the attack. The clarity of the image caused his chest to tighten, making it hard to breathe. He knew the result, but watching it again, almost in slow motion, added to his agony.

When the image played over again, he realized Klissmor must have been guiding his thoughts.

“My apologies, old friend—the need is great.” Klissmor’s voice didn’t interrupt the stream of images.

“Do whatever you need. Just find a way to save Farrell.”

“Your friends are doing all they can. Have faith that Lenore will send us what we need.”

When the memory started for the third time, he didn’t find any comfort in Klissmor’s assertion. The Six wouldn’t—couldn’t—help. He needed something that didn’t exist—a great wizard like Heminaltose or Kel.

“In theory, I recognize the magic.” Erstad sounded confused. “But I’ll need to find a reference to be sure.”

“What about Farrell?” He knew he shouted, or at least what Farrell told him passed for shouting, but he couldn’t prevent it. “He could be dead before you find that.”

“It can’t be helped, Miceral. I need to be sure before I suggest a counterspell. If I’m wrong, whatever I try might kill him.”

“He is in no immediate danger.” Teberus put his hand on Farrell’s forehead. “But my fear is the number of spells that draw on him for power. I can only give him but so much. If he doesn’t wake, his body will burn out.”

“Do what you can, Master Teberus. We’ll begin searching immediately and contact you when we find the answer.” When Erstad stopped speaking, Klissmor’s presence left with him.

“Hurry. Please.” Miceral knew no one heard him.

BUY LINKS

DSPP Link: http://www.andrewqgordon.com/2015/04/champion-of-the-gods-books-one-and-two-available-now/

Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.com/The-Eye-Champion-Gods-Book-ebook/dp/B00VGZB6SS

Amazon UK Link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Eye-Champion-Gods-Book-ebook/dp/B00VGZB6SS

Are Omnilit Link: https://www.omnilit.com/product-theeyeandthearm-1773344-234.html

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

086Andrew Q. Gordon wrote his first story back when yellow legal pads, ball point pens were common and a Smith Corona correctable typewriter was considered high tech. Adapting with technology, he now takes his MacBook somewhere quiet when he wants to write.

He currently lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his partner of eighteen years, their young daughter and dog. In addition to dodging some very self-important D.C. ‘insiders’, Andrew uses his commute to catch up on his reading. When not working or writing, he enjoys soccer, high fantasy, baseball and seeing how much coffee he can drink in a day and not get the shakes.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Website: www.andreqgordon.com

Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/andrewqugordon,

Facebook Profile: https://www.facebook.com/dominic.andrews.7568

On Twitter: @andrewqgordon,

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+AndrewQGordon/posts

Email: andrewqgordon@gmail.com

GIVEAWAY

FIVE Winners will win one e-copy of ANY book* each from DSP Publication’s backlist.

*Giveaway is of any currently released DSPP book, which excludes the books that are on pre-order and “The Eye And The Arm”.

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Cody Kennedy: The Smut on Alex and Hephy

SlayingIsidore'sDragons -Book Tour- 400x600Please welcome the fabulous Cody Kennedy, glitterati, to my blog! Cody’s got a brand new release from Harmony Ink Press he’s here to tell us about. And… pasties. Yep. Pasties. But I’ll let you figure out how that fits in! Welcome Cody! -Shira

*~*

When I write for young adults, I try to include information about different cultures, history, and old and new music. I try to teach youth history in a way that they will remember it and joking about it usually helps it stick. As such, throughout Slaying Isidore’s Dragons, there is running subtext about Alexander the Great and Hephaestion. It begins with Isidore being frustrated about his homework and Declan trying to help him:

“Some believe the story of Alexander and Hephaestion is one of the greatest love stories in all of history, and that it was the death of Hephaestion that caused Alexander to go on a rampage in an attempt to conquer the remaining known world until his death ten months later. They were great lovers and open about it.”

“Wow, didn’t know that. So?”

“My assignment is to write of the last year of Alexander’s life. How can I do that without speaking of his rage over the death of Hephaestion?”

Now, a little history. We know that Alexander the Great was, well… great! He lived from 356 BC to 323 BC, was the son of Phillip the II, inherited the throne in 336 BC, grew up with Hephaestion, and both were tutored by Aristotle. Further, Bucephalas, Alexander’s horse, played a big role in his life. No one could break him. Alexander bet his father that he could break him and did within a very short time once he figured out that Bucephalas was afraid of shadows. He simply turned the horse to the sun and all was well. Bucephalas remained Alexander’s battle horse throughout his adult life. But our knowledge of Alexander is limited to that of men who lived five hundred years after he died. 1) Ephemerides, Alexander’s royal journal, is a case of the victor rewriting history; 2) The Alexander Romance, often cited as authority, is fiction; and two chronicles by Arian and Plutarch, both reputable chroniclers.

There are two diametric opinions about Alexander:

The first is that of great benign conqueror and statesman. A great military commander, politically shrewd, a Greek who ultimately became a Persian, and the first person to unite the then known world. His conquests were bloody and brutal because that’s war, and he had little tolerance for petty nationalism. After he died, his generals divided his empire among themselves, which insured that Greek culture dominated for centuries. The Hellenistic age changed Western Civilization.

Or

Alexander slaughtered people on an unprecedented scale, squandered the resources of the lands he acquired, murdered friends out of paranoia, and led most of his troops to early deaths. In short, a gambler who staked his life and the lives of those around him on chance, and there was nothing magical about him.

In any event, two elements of history are consistent irrespective of the foregoing opinions. First, his empire became prey to his generals and they played finders-keepers with his body after he died—a story for another time—and, second, he was in love with Hephaestion, his life-long companion who was also his general. The former is accurate, the latter no one likes to discuss. But I discuss it in Slaying Isidore’s Dragons and hope youth remember it.

When Isidore has nightmares and can’t sleep, Declan tells him stories of Alexander and Alex with pastiesHephaestion making the stories up as goes. Here is the smut on Alex and Hephy:

“You’re looking rather chipper this morning, Isidore,” Sorcha complimented as they rode to school.

Isidore shook his head and looked away with a shy smile.

“He had a nightmare last night, and I told him the story of Alexander and Hephaestion to put him back to sleep,” Declan said.

“You did not,” Isidore retorted, his smile one of his priceless genuine smiles.

Declan grinned. “I sort of made it up as I went.”

“This is what you did. I am certain no literature exists wherein Hephaestion favored women’s clothing and accessories.”

“Sure he did. Especially pasties. They were his favorite,” Declan teased.

Sorcha howled in laughter. “Declan David de Quirke the second, you didn’t!”

Isidore giggled and shook his head again. “Yes, Sorcha, he did and worse. Can you imagine Hephaestion leading men into battle in pasties, stockings, and heels?”

“It kept you from having another nightmare, didn’t it?” Declan defended.

“It did and provoked others.”

“I don’t believe you, Declan,” Sorcha said through her laughter. She had tears in her eyes by the time they reached the school. “Both of you try to behave. I’ll see you this evening.”

By the end of the book, pasties are an issue to overcome. There you have it. The very unofficial smut on Alex and Hephy. Enjoy Slaying Isidore’s Dragons!

Follow Slaying Isidore’s Dragons’ Book Tour!

Now available in print and ebook at

Dreamspinner/Harmony Ink Press

Amazon   GooglePlay   Barnes & Noble   OmniLit/ARe

Beam-eBooks in Europe

Ingram Books for Libraries and Schools

 

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Follow Slaying Isidore’s Dragons’ Book Tour!

About Slaying Isidore’s Dragons

5 Best friends
4 Vicious brothers
3 STD tests
2 Guys in love
1 Car bombing
&
Nowhere to run

Follow the burgeoning love of two teens during the worst year of their lives. Irish-born Declan David de Quirke II is the son of two ambassadors, one Irish and one American. He is ‘out’ to his parents but to no one else. French-born Jean Isidore de Sauveterre is also the son of two ambassadors, one Catalan and one Parisian. His four half brothers have been told to cure him of his homosexuality. Both teens have lost a parent in a London car bombing.

5 Weeks of hell
4 Attempts on their lives
3 Law enforcement agencies
2 Dead high school seniors
1 Jealous friend
&
A love that won’t be denied

Declan and Isidore meet at the beginning of their senior year at a private academy in the United States. Declan is immediately smitten with Isidore and becomes his knight in shining armor. Isidore wants to keep what is left of his sanity and needs Declan’s love to do it. One is beaten, one is drugged, one is nearly raped, one has been raped. They are harassed by professors and police, and have fights at school, but none of it compares to running for their lives. When the headmaster’s popular son attempts suicide and someone tries to assassinate Declan’s mother, they are thrown headlong into chaos, betrayal, conspiracy, allegations of sexual coercion, even murder. And one of them carries a secret that may get them killed.

 5 New family members
4 BFF’s
3 Countries
2 Extraordinary Psychologists
1 Courageous Mother &
A new beginning for two young men in love

Read Chapter One of Slaying Isidore’s Dragons

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About Cody Kennedy

Raised on the mean streets and back lots of Hollywood by a Yoda-look-alike grandfather, Cody doesn’t conform, doesn’t fit in, is epic awkward, and lives to perfect a deep-seated oppositional defiance disorder. In a constant state of fascination with the trivial, Cody contemplates such weighty questions as If time and space are curved, then where do all the straight people come from? When not writing, Cody can be found taming waves on western shores, pondering the nutritional value of sunsets, appreciating the much maligned dandelion, unhooking guide ropes from stanchions, and marveling at all things ordinary.

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Stop by Cody’s Blog with questions or comments, or simply share what’s on your mind.

Find Cody on Facebook, Twitter @CodyKAuthor, Pinterest, Tumblr, Google+, Ello, Goodreads, & read Cody’s free serial story, Fairy

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Giveaway and Dreamspinner Sale: Old and New

Encore-BuildI love spring! The frogs have been chirping at night, we’re sleeping with the windows open, and I’m waking to birds singing in the morning. It was 86 degrees here yesterday and bright sunshine. Daffodils are in full bloom, as are the ornamental trees and bushes (Bradford pears, plums, forsythia). Now that the time has shifted back, I’ve been running in the local state park in the evenings after leaving my RL job, trying to get into shape for my first 10K in May. I’m about to shift from winter clothes to spring/summer, and attempting my usual half-assed spring cleaning.

Dreamspinner Press is doing a bit of its own spring cleaning. First, they’re featuring one of my backlist books for a song (pun intended). Encore is available for 35% off list price the entire month of April. I personally think it’s one of my best books ever. It was Bradford pear3a Prism Book Alliance Recommended Read, and a The Romance Reviews Top Pick. Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words wrote, “I can’t say it enough, Encore is such a remarkable story.  It is definitely one of the best of 2013.  It is a symphony of emotions, its instruments the men Shira Anthony has created along with their deep love for music and each other.  Encore will have you calling for a repeat performance from this incredible author.  Brava, brava!” Live Your Life Buy the Book said, “After reading this story, I was on my feet shouting “Bravo!” Encore is a stunning portrayal of the human condition.” And The Romance Reviews (TRR) wrote, “Where are more than 5 stars when you need them? Former opera singer Shira Anthony has outdone herself in this fifth Blue Notes novel….”

Encore is a standalone love story in the Blue Notes Series that spans several decades, from when the two main characters meet in high school until that last note (happily ever after) is played years later. Best friends to lovers, with lots of bumps along the way. Roger is a rebel and a gifted violinist who can’t accept that he’s gay, John is an aspiring conductor who has never doubted his sexuality. Coming-of-age story, contemporary romance, and the first, chronologically, in the Blue Notes Series, Roger and John pave the way for some of the other characters in the Blue Notes novels.

BloodandGhostsFSAnother great sale at Dreamspinner? In stock paperbacks are 50% off right now! That’s a better discount than we authors get. Of my books, Aria, Blood and Rain, Blue Notes (2nd ed), Dissonance, and Lighting the Way Home are all 50% off. Fantasy and sci fi are 30% off, which leads me to the upcoming release of Blood and Ghosts (Blood #2) in two weeks! You can preorder the book for 30% off. Haven’t read book #1, Blood and Rain, yet? That one’s also 30% off! Of you can check out my mermen books ahead of the June release of the final book in the series, Running with the Wind. The first two books in the series are 30% off right now.

Interested in a giveaway? I’m running a fun one ahead of the Blood and Ghosts release. Since the book has a time travel element, I’ve got a cool Dr. Who “Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey” pendant. You can enter the giveaway here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
There are three books planned in the Blood Series. For those of you who might have been putting off reading book #1 because it has a bit of a cliffhanger at the end, the second book ends with a HFN. And of course, you’ll find a HEA at the end of book #3. Three, HEAs, to be precise! The last book in the series, Blood and Eternity, will be released in early 2016.

I’ll leave you all with the blurb for Blood and Ghosts. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway. I do enough of these over the year that just about everyone will win something if they keep entering. You know the old adage, “You can’t win if you don’t enter!” Seriously.

Happy spring, happy Easter, happy Passover! -Shira

~*~

Blurb for Blood and Ghosts:

Sequel to Blood and Rain

With vampire Nicolas Lambert’s marriage to a rival clanswoman only weeks away, Adrien Gilbert struggles to come to terms with his defeat at the hands of Verel Pelletier, a vampire hunter and an immortal like himself. Adrien and his former teacher, Roland Günter, begin to explore his newly acquired abilities. But without his soul’s sword, Adrien flounders.

On Nicolas’s wedding day, a two-hundred-year old secret is revealed, sending the wedding party into a blazing battle between hunters and vampires. Once again Adrien finds himself facing Pelletier’s superior strength. Just as Adrien believes all hope of a future with Nicolas is lost, he finally learns his true gift—he can turn back time. But time travel comes with a high cost. To save Nicolas, Adrien must become strong enough to use his power without descending into madness.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner eBook and Paperback

 

 

Giveaway, Excerpt, and Sale: Preorder “Blood and Ghosts” at 25% Off!

BloodandGhostsFSToday is cover reveal day for Blood and Ghosts (Blood #2)! And since Dreamspinner Press is running a great sale, you can preorder the book for 25% off. Haven’t read book #1, Blood and Rain, yet? That one’s also 25% off!

I’m running a fun giveaway ahead of the Blood and Ghosts release. Since the book has a time travel element, how about a cool Dr. Who “Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey” pendant? You can enter the giveaway here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
There are three books planned in the Blood Series. For those of you who might have been putting off reading book #1 because it has a bit of a cliffhanger at the end, the second book ends with a HFN. And of course, you’ll find a HEA at the end of book #3. Three, HEAs, to be precise! The last book in the series, Blood and Eternity, will be released in early 2016.

Blurb for Blood and Ghosts:

Sequel to Blood and Rain

With vampire Nicolas Lambert’s marriage to a rival clanswoman only weeks away, Adrien Gilbert struggles to come to terms with his defeat at the hands of Verel Pelletier, a vampire hunter and an immortal like himself. Adrien and his former teacher, Roland Günter, begin to explore his newly acquired abilities. But without his soul’s sword, Adrien flounders.

On Nicolas’s wedding day, a two-hundred-year old secret is revealed, sending the wedding party into a blazing battle between hunters and vampires. Once again Adrien finds himself facing Pelletier’s superior strength. Just as Adrien believes all hope of a future with Nicolas is lost, he finally learns his true gift—he can turn back time. But time travel comes with a high cost. To save Nicolas, Adrien must become strong enough to use his power without descending into madness.

Pages or Words: Approximately 70,000 words/250 pages

Categories: Contemporary, Fantasy, Fiction, Gay Fiction, Historical, M/M Romance, Paranormal, Romance

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Reese Dante

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner eBook and Paperback

 

SmBloodandGhostsFSExcerpt:

Adrien walked back onto the main street and over to the curb, where someone caught his eye. A man with short black hair walked toward him. Dressed in dark jeans, with a white shirt and dark wool jacket, he wore a single diamond stud in his left ear. A woman hurrying down the sidewalk dodged Adrien as he stopped, but the man behind him knocked him to his knees.

“Are you all right?” someone said with a hint of a French accent.

Adrien looked up into familiar brown eyes. Adrien inhaled slowly, hoping to head off the bloodlust that buzzed at the back of his brain. Heat tingled at the back of his neck, raising the hairs there. His palms felt suddenly sweaty. He felt sick. Not nausea—shock at seeing Nicolas here, realizing it really was Nicolas.

“Yes, I….” Adrien took the hand Nicolas offered and struggled back to his feet. The world spun and he grabbed Nicolas’s arm to steady himself.

“You’re not all right. You look ill. I should call an ambulance—”

“No ambulance.” Adrien righted himself. “I just need to eat something. It’s hotter than I realized.”

Nicolas glanced around, frowned, then said, “There’s a coffee shop at the corner.” He didn’t appear convinced by Adrien’s words. “Why don’t I help you over there?”

As if Adrien would object. “Thank you.”

Five minutes later they sat at a booth by the window, Adrien drinking coffee with a trembling hand. Adrien had watched Nicolas as they’d walked the short distance to the restaurant, his swordsman’s muscles straining against the fabric of his shirt. He looked only slightly older than he’d been when they met. “I’m sorry,” he said, coming back to himself and wondering why Nicolas was sitting with him when he could have left. “I must be keeping you from something.”

“No,” Nicolas answered. “In fact, I just came from a meeting. I’ve got the rest of the afternoon free.”

“I’m Adrien.” He forced a smile and set the empty mug down.

“Nicolas.”

“It’s good to meet you, Nicolas,” Adrien said in French. He drew another long breath and his heart slowed its gallop.

“Please call me Nico,” Nicolas said, also in French.

Giveaway and Writer’s World: Writing Series Part II by Shira Anthony

Reblogged from Love Bytes Reviews.

In my first post here about series, I blogged about the different kinds of series and their pros and cons. I also asked you to comment and let me know what you like and dislike about series. The responses were really interesting, and were pretty much split down the middle between those of you who won’t read a series until it’s complete, and those of you who are willing to read even if a series isn’t complete. There was also a pretty even split between those who said they prefer sequel (sequential) series and those who prefer spinoff (standalone books in the same universe) series. I’m doing another giveaway after this post, so check it out at the end and find out how you can win a $10 Amazon gift certificate!

BlueNotesFSIn this post, I’ll discuss the sequel series, in particular, and why and how an author decides to break up a much longer story into multiple books.

One of the commenters on my last post wrote, “I feel cheated if there isn’t some resolution to every book I read, particularly if there’s no warning ahead of time that there won’t be. It can seem like a cheap trick to sell more books.” A very valid point, and one I want to address here. Because, although it may seem that writers would want to put out more rather than fewer books in order to make more money, there can be some very compelling reasons why a writer will divide a very long story (sequel series) into multiple books. There is also some truth to the idea that writers divide stories because they want to sell more books, but it’s not exactly what you might think of off the bat.

StealingWind2Speaking as someone who’s written both sequel and spinoff series, I can honestly say that I don’t set out with the idea that I’m going to write a series. With my Blue Notes series, I had only intended to write a single book: Blue Notes. About 3/4 of the way through that story, however, I realized there were several secondary characters I’d included that I was genuinely curious about and wanted to revisit. Both Antonio Bianchi and Sam Ryan flirt with Jason Greene in that story, and those characters, whom I never intended to write into a longer story, became more three-dimensional to me as a wrote. That’s why I wrote The Melody Thief and, later, Aria.

When I write sequel series like Mermen of Ea or Blood, though, I’m also not thinking series. I’ve got a single storyline in mind, with a beginning, middle, and end. And, as is often the case when writing a series that is mostly fantasy, it takes a lot of words and pages to create a new universe for theBlood and Rain 400x600 reader. So what starts out as a planned single novel now becomes a very, very, very long story!

Here’s where the behind the scenes sort of stuff happens that many non-writers aren’t aware of. In the publishing universe, most publishers will not print a story shorter than 50,000 to 60,000 words (that’s why you see some books in ebook format only, what are called “novellas”). Why? Part of it has to do with sales, but part of it has to do with the cost of physically printing a book. The sales angle? Books around 65,000 words tend to sell better than books considerably longer than that. Of course, there are always exceptions, but we’re talking about the general rule here.

For example, if the 3 Mermen of Ea books were a single novel, it would be approximately 200,000 words long. Depending on how the book is typeset, that can be over 600 pages long! It’s more expensive to publish, and would cost significantly more, whether in ebook or paperback. Why more expensive in ebook? Because editing a book that long (and formatting it, etc) also takes a lot more time. And most readers don’t want to pay a lot of money for a really long ebook. Because of this, publishers tend to limit the length of books. It’s a business decision for them: they sell more books if the books are about 65,000 words long because most readers prefer them, and also because they are less expensive to publish.

So the writer is in a quandary. Does he cut down his story? Or does he divide it so that it fits into traditional publishing business models? And let me add one more business consideration to consider: how does writing a super long book affect the author’s business? Because writing is a business, of course!

I’ll stop here and continue next month with the author’s side of the business, and how that affects a choice to write a series and where to break stories. That’s an entire post in and of itself. In the 3rd post in this series (*coughs*) of blogs, I’ll tackle the issue of endings in sequel series books (the dreaded cliffhanger, the happily-for-now, and the to-be-continued endings).

I’ll leave you all with a question: What do you, as a reader, think about balancing business and the art of writing from the publisher’s perspective? One commenter who answers the question will win a $10 Amazon gift certificate. Contest ends at midnight on March19th! Can’t wait to hear your responses! -Shira

Vampires and hunters and mermen, oh my!

George the Groundhog2

George the groundhog, who makes his home near the building I work in.

Can you believe it’s already March? After nearly three weeks of snow and ice here in Raleigh, North Carolina, it’s going to be 70 degrees today! That just gives me hope that the groundhog was wrong.

March has me thinking of the busy spring and summer I have on tap. Stay tuned for the cover reveal for Blood and Ghosts (Blood #2) sometime in March. The book releases on April 20th! By BloodandRainFSthe way, for those of you who read the post on series, Blood and Ghosts actually has a happily-for-now (HFN) at the end rather than a cliffhanger. Of course, there’s still one more book to come which will have several well-deserved HEAs.

Also coming soon? The last book in the Mermen of Ea Series, Running with the Wind is tentatively set for release on June 8th! I can’t tell you how excited I am (and a little sad IntoWindtoo) to be wrapping up the series. And to answer a question I’ve had a few readers ask me, yes, I am considering a follow up book or series based on two secondary characters. I promise I’ll keep you posted!

What else is in the works? A Blue Notes Series Valentine’s novella featuring a very special wedding, a cop/lawyer contemporary novel written with my good friend Cody BlueNotes[2ndEd]LGKennedy (writing under his adult pseudonym, Aisling Mancy), the last book in the Blood series, and another contemporary novel. Between writing and editing, I can barely breathe! But that’s a good thing.

I’ll be attending a bunch of conferences this year, including GRL 2015 in San Diego, Animazement 2015 in Raleigh, RainbowCon 2015 in Tampa, and Yaoicon in San Francisco. Oh, and I’ll be attending my first ever Romance Times (RT) conference in Dallas in May to kick the conference season off. I hope to see you at one of the events – be sure to come and say hello!

Stay tuned for the Blood and Ghosts cover reveal coming soon. Reese Dante’s cover is amazing, as always! I’ll be running some cool giveaways, including one for a Doctor Who “Wibbly Wobbley Timey Wimey” pendant leading up to release day. And, speaking of giveaways, congratulations to Dan, who won an ebook for commenting on the series post.

Stay warm and think spring! -Shira

Giveaway and Writer’s World: Writing Series Part I

BloodandRainFSReblogged from LoveBytes Reviews

I’m reblogging this with another contest because I got such great comments from readers and writers alike over at LoveBytes. (If you entered but didn’t win, feel free to enter again.) -Shira

A few weeks ago, a wonderful writers blog asked for discussion questions. I didn’t realize my question would generate such a lively discussion: How do you feel about series, both as a writer and as a reader?

There’s no way I can do justice to the subject of series in a single post, so why not a series of posts about series? I’ll explore the pros and cons of writing and reading series, as well as some of the reasons authors write them (you might just be surprised!). Since I want to hear your thoughts, if you comment on this post you could win your choice of an ebook (format of your choice) from one of my series (Blue Notes, Mermen of Ea, or the new Blood Series). I’ll choose a winner on February 27th at midnight from the entries.

I’m a writer and an avid reader (okay, I read less now that I write, but only because there’s a limit to hours in a day!). One of my favorite things to do is dive into a series, regardless of genre. As a kid, Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover books held me captive for years. I still reread those books today, when I need a “comfort” read. Yes, I’ve given up on series, too. My latest DNF? The Southern Vampire (Sookie Stackhouse) books. Which brings me to my first series topic….

Living in a universe. For me, as both a writer and reader, the universe the writer creates is what draws me above all else to series. What is a “universe”? It’s both the setting of the series, as well as the characters who inhabit that setting.

Let me backtrack and get some of the publishing jargon out there just so we’re all on the same page. Although you may find variations, there are generally 2 major sequel formats, each offering a certain appeal. Each type of series exploit the series universe (characters and setting) in different ways.

  • A “sequel” series is the most popular of the series formats. Books must be read in order, and either follow a long plot arc, or follow chronologically (The Lord of the Rings trilogy is in this vein). My Mermen of Ea and Blood Series follow this model.
  • A “spinoff” series is generally set in the same universe but is made up of separate, standalone stories. My Blue Notes Series falls into this category. Within the spinoff series, you may find a continuing character having independent adventures (Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot detective mysteries come to mind), or you may have secondary characters from one book become main characters in the next (that would be Blue Notes).

The appeal of spinoff series is simple. Worldbuilding (creating the universe characters inhabit, whether real or imaginary) is time consuming if done properly. Once a reader or writer gets to know the universe, there’s a certain appeal to staying there for more stories. And what better way to connect with a universe than through the characters who inhabit it. In a sense, the characters become part of the universe. And when familiar characters reappear in books about secondary characters, the reader has an immediate connection to the new characters through them.

IntoWindIn my Blue Notes Series books about classical musicians, although each novel is a standalone work, certain characters appear in all the books. A common thread. Conductor David Somers is a bit of a fairy godfather (he even jokes around about that from time to time in the books) to some of the other musicians. He’s a familiar character to readers of the series, and he’s become one of my favorites. In a sense, he is part of the setting of the books, and ties them together in a very important way.

Sequel series are more of a challenge for some. These series require a reader to buy in to the universe and commit themselves to completing a far longer story. Sometimes these series end with what I often call a “comma,” a happily-for-now (HFN), or a pause. Sometimes they end with a cliffhanger (a subject worthy of a post of its own!), or a “to be continued” ending.

In my Mermen of Ea books, there’s a HFN at the end of the first book, and what some might call a cliffhanger at the end of the second. That series, like the Blood Series, is one long story told over 3 books. Although the end of Blood and Rain isn’t what I call a true cliffhanger, it’s definitely a “to-be-continued”.

I personally love both kinds of series, and I don’t mind a cliffhanger, as long as the tension is resolved eventually. I prefer 3 book series, and studies show most readers do as well. Draw a story out too long, and you’ll lose me. And yes, there are horror stories of writers dying before they finish series! I love a good cliffhanger, and I’ll wait impatiently for it to be resolved. I know there are readers who won’t start a series until it’s finished. I get that, but I have no self-restraint.BlueNotesFS If it sounds good, I’m going to read it regardless of whether it’s complete.

Interestingly, Marion Zimmer Bradley, in the Darkover series I told you about? She combined both these models. She created a universe in the form of a colonized planet, where humans interbred with the aliens who inhabited the world and developed psi powers (telekenisis, teleportation, telepathy, etc.). She wrote series within series, focusing on one part of Darkover history for 3-6 books, then moved forward or backward in time. Same universe, 300 years later. Same universe 100 years earlier. It’s part of what I loved about that series.

That’s the 10,000 foot view of series. Next month I’ll get into the weeds and blog a bit about technique and cliffhangers in particular.

Now it’s your turn. Tell me what kinds of series you read. Will you read an unfinished series? Why? Why not? I’ll pick a winner on February 27th at midnight from the comments. Want to read an excerpt from any of my series? You can find them all here: http://www.shiraanthony.com/series/http://www.shiraanthony.com/series/ Just pick a series and a book, scroll down and click “read and excerpt.”

Giveaway, Interview & Exclusive Excerpt: Andrew Q. Gordon is here!

LastGrandMaster[The]FSPlease welcome my guest, Andrew Q. Gordon! Andrew’s a wonderful writer, a great companion for conferences (we’ve had some great times together), husband to a sweetheart of a man, and “daddy” to one of the sweetest, smartest, and cutest little munchkins I’ve ever met. Andrew is on tour promoting the re-release of The Last Grand Master from Dreamspinner Press Publications, Dreamspinner’s brand new imprint! Don’t forget to check out the super cool blog tour giveaway, as well as an exclusive excerpt from the book.

Shira: So, Andrew, I’ve always been fascinated by how writers find inspiration for their work. How do you find your creative mojo? How do your ideas become a fully-fledged plot?

Andrew: I used to think I was weird until I started talking to other writers, because I’d see something or listen to a piece of music and I ‘see’ stories come from them. I’m not sure I can explain it other than once an image or idea takes root, I can run with it in my head forever. It might not end up being a good story, but it’s there.

How these jumbled thoughts get to be a full-on plot is something of a process. Typically, I have to write a ‘chapter or two’ to get the ball rolling. The act of putting the idea to paper requires fleshing it out and from that, the story grows. I’ll be honest, I don’t always know where the story is going. And I’m not going to say the story has its own life, but in my mind it will change as I write it. Maybe the original idea doesn’t work out with all the pieces, so I change it up and that sends it in a new direction.

This can be a bit of an issue with a series like Champion of the Gods if you haven’t finished the series before you start to publish the books. If you decide to move in a different direction, you can’t go back and un-write those books. In those cases, you can’t always go where you want.

Shira: How much preparation do you do before you start to write? What sort of things do you do to prepare to write?

Andrew: Very little, typically. While writing, I’ll stop and research things, but generally before I start I don’t worry about what I can and can’t do. My thinking is, books are fluid. I’m very apt to change things up before I get to the things I’ve researched. Better to look for it when I needed it, then waste my limited time. This has, however, been a problem when what I think is right isn’t and I’m forced to go back and re-do whole sections. But those are the exceptions, generally this method works for me.

Shira: When you’re working on a story, have you ever changed plot or character direction unexpectedly? What made you change?

Andrew: As I’ve said above, yes, probably all the time. Why? Hard to say. Most times it’s because what I intended to do doesn’t work. Either it’s too pat or contrived, or it’s not as interesting as I thought it would be once I wrote it down

Shira: When you submit a manuscript for publication, do you let it go until the editing process, or do you continue to tweak the manuscript until you start edits?

Andrew: I put it aside and work on the other hundred or so characters in my head. I figure they’re going to give me a slew of edits anyway, so why mess it now?

Shira: What is your favorite time and place to write? Why?

Andrew: With a three year old, any free time I get is when I write. It’s not ideal, but it’s what I have to work with. After ‘lil q was born, I started to write in the little office I have upstairs so I could hear her. Ideally, I find I get my best writing done in a coffee shop. There are far fewer interruptions and usually the wi-fi sucks so I have fewer distractions on-line too.

Shira: Did you hit any roadblocks in writing your new release? What were they and how did you overcome them?

Andrew: Most of the ‘problems’ stemmed from something I hadn’t researched (ironic that you asked about research, no?) when I began the story. To me, fantasy stories were long—as in three or more books long—and I had no idea about word counts. Stories were as many pages and words as they needed. And in truth, now that DSP Publications is around, those notions are not so far fetched. But when I started book one, there weren’t that many places you could publish LGBT fiction and most of those were MM Romance publishers. While I didn’t need to change the story to fit into the MM Romance Genre, I did need to change the word count.

As originally written, The Last Grand Master was more than twice as long as its final version. Editing in general might have cut a third of the words out, but getting it to a max of 120K required something of a re-write. It got harder fitting into the number for book two. Fortunately, DSP Publication has given me a greater word count for the remaining three books so I’ll be able to do more with books three through five.

Thanks for having me, Shira.

Shira: Thanks for stopping by and letting me pick your brains! Best of luck with the release!

******

BLURB: In a war that shook the earth, the six gods of Nendor defeated their brother Neldin, god of evil. For three thousand years, Nendor and the Seven Kingdoms have known peace and prosperity and Neldin’s evil was nearly forgotten.

But then Meglar, wizard king of Zargon, unleashes the dark magic of the underworld and creates an army of creatures to carry out his master’s will. One by one, the sovereign realms fall as a new war between the gods threatens to engulf Nendor.

Leading the opposition to Meglar is Grand Master Farrell. Young and untried, Farrell carries a secret that could hold the key to defeating Meglar—or it could destroy the world.

Farrell is joined by Nerti, queen of the unicorns and Miceral, an immortal muchari warrior the Six have chosen as Farrell’s mate. As Farrell and his new allies make plans to counter Neldin’s evil, Meglar forces their hand when he invades a neighboring kingdom. Rushing to help their ally, Farrell and Miceral find themselves in the middle of the battle. Cut off from help, Farrell attempts an untried spell that will either turn the tide or cost he and Miceral their lives.

******

Here’s the link to Andrew’s blog tour giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Excerpt:

Master Thomas stared at Miceral before bowing his head an inch.

“Master Thomas,” Farrell said, stopping an arm’s length from his teacher. “This is Miceral, son of Horgon, Chief of the Muchari. He’ll be joining us from now on, as he’s staying with me.”

As Farrell put on his jerkin, the older man gave no indication he cared about Miceral or whom he slept with. Extending his arm, he said, “Pleased to meet you, sir. Kindly stay out of our way while I work with the prince.”

Miceral nodded and unwrapped his own swords. Farrell watched him select two similar blades and swing both in a twirling motion. A firm slap on his ass from the flat of a sword elicited a short yelp.

“Stop watching your friend over there and concentrate on your own practice.” Master Thomas’s voice held nothing except the business at hand. Rubbing his “wound,” Farrell began to limber up, performing the stretching routine he’d been taught as a boy. When ready, he picked up his sword and bowed to his teacher.

After a perfunctory bow, Thomas attacked. Farrell used a lighter sword that played to his wiry build and natural quickness. After a few passes, Thomas stopped and lowered his sword.

“Your arm is too low.” Thomas moved Farrell’s sword arm approximately three inches.

Feeling foolish at the almost negligible adjustment, Farrell barely paid attention to the additional instructions.

Master Thomas moved in front of Farrell, and they resumed practice. Without warning, Thomas changed his attack, stopped, and repeated the drill of showing Farrell what he’d done wrong this time. Farrell chafed as the lesson continued. He wanted to show Miceral his skill with a sword, but his trainer consistently focused on his weaker points.

“Boy!” Thomas slammed the point of his practice sword into the ground, signaling a stop. “What in the Eight Gates of Neblor are you doing? Trying to show off for the pretty lad sitting over there?”

Farrell turned beet-red, glaring at his instructor.

Undeterred, Thomas scowled back. “We’re here to work on where you’re most vulnerable, not to do fancy moves to impress someone you hope to get in your bed tonight. Trust me. I saw what he can do. You’re not going to impress him. You aren’t that good.”

Humiliated, Farrell ground his teeth, eyes barely open. If this fool thought to insult him in front of Miceral without consequences, he—

“Master Thomas.” Miceral’s voice broke into Farrell’s thoughts. “If you wouldn’t mind, may I talk to Farrell a moment, please?”

The two locked eyes for an instant before Farrell saw his teacher nod.

Putting a hand on Farrell’s shoulder, Miceral drew them aside. “He’s correct. I am a distraction. I shouldn’t have come. I’ll go back to the rooms to wait for you.”

“No.” Farrell grabbed Miceral’s arm. “It’s not you, it’s him. I’m a much better wizard than he is a swordsman, and this is his way of humiliating me.”

Shaking his head, Miceral gripped Farrell by the biceps. “That’s not true. He’s trying to teach you how to work around your weaknesses. It makes no sense to work on what you’re good at and ignore where you need help. You were in the wrong. Master Thomas is a fine teacher. If you want me to stay, you need to apologize to him.”

Farrell’s head snapped back. “Are you joking? He’s a surly, grumpy old man—”

“Who’s trying to save your life by making you a better swordsman. He was right to call you out just then. He might have been a bit mean, but he got your attention.” Miceral suddenly smiled at him. “It was sweet of you to try to show off for me. I’m impressed. You’re a much better swordsman than I thought. But if you really want to impress me, then learn what he’s trying to teach you.” He kissed Farrell’s forehead. “Go on, apologize and get on with the lesson.”

TLGM BT Banner

BUY LINKS:

 DSP Publication – http://www.dsppublications.com/books/the-last-grand-master-by-andrew-q-gordon-53-b

AUTHOR BIO: Andrew Q. Gordon wrote his first story back when yellow legal pads, ball point pens were common and a Smith Corona correctable typewriter was considered high tech. Adapting with technology, he now takes his MacBook somewhere quiet when he wants to write.

He currently lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his partner of nineteen years, their daughter and dog. In addition to dodging some very self-important D.C. ‘insiders’, Andrew uses his commute to catch up on his reading. When not working or writing, he enjoys soccer, high fantasy, baseball and seeing how much coffee he can drink in a day.

AUTHOR LINKS:

Website: www.andrewqgordon.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/andrewqugordon

Twitter: @andrewqgordon

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+AndrewQGordon

E-mail: andrewqgordon@gmail.com

******

TOUR SCHEDULE

 2/10 – Cate Ashwood

2/11 – Susan Mac Nicol

2/12 – Tali Spencer

2/13 – Shira Anthony

2/16 – M.A. Church

2/17 – Charlie Cochet

2/18 – Raine O’Tierney

2/19 – RJ Scott

2/20 – Sue Brown

Dreamspinner 25% Off Sale

Juno_sale_DSPsiteDreamspinner Press is running a sale that will make you want to stay indoors and read (that’s me, just about every weekend). Everything in the store is 25% off right now, including my new release, Blood and Rain! Book 2, Blood and Ghosts, will be released in a couple of months now!

Or maybe you haven’t checked out my mermen. The Mermen of Ea Series is also on sale. Or maybe that’s “sail.” (Anyone hear crickets?) The last series book will be coming out this summer (June or July).

Have my fantasy series, but haven’t tried my contemporary musici series, Blue Notes? Now’s a great time. Those can be read in any order, so pick the one that speaks to you, and dive on in.

Kindle users, don’t forget you can sign up to have DSP send your books directly to your device (and get them cheaper than they would be on Amazon!).

Stay warm, ignore the snow, and read! -Shira

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