Thorns & Ink: Romance and Attraction

Thorns and Ink

I bet some of you know me, and some of you don’t. I read A LOT. I will read anything. But I think in most circles I am known for my love of kink, erotica, BDSM, shifters, and science fiction.

Today, I want to talk about the romance and attraction. I love when authors get under my skin. Good or bad. It lets me know I am still human. Authors create such beautiful characters, I run out of space on my love list. In books we can be attracted to anyone we please. The beauty of it, we can keep it a secret if we want.

The interesting thing about romance, is that it starts with attraction. Appearance, intellect, station in life, etc. With romantic fiction, the world opens up in a way we can only dream of. (After all, that is why we read.) We can be attracted to those outside of our real life without repercussion or explanation. We don’t have to justify why we are attracted to a character. We can revel in it. Lately, I have been asking myself what happens when you read something so mind blowing that you discover you?

That recently happened to me. It all started with the book Nervous by SM Johnson. This book blew my mind. I was opened. I was floating. Not in subspace, a kind of euphoria that I so rarely get when I am reading. (Becoming Sir by Ella Dominguez was the last one.) The romance was there, but it’s the character Avery. Watching him so effortlessly seduce Julian. Oh my. I was smitten instantly. The more I read, the more I was attracted. I do love a slow burn and this book offered that and more.

Everything else fell away. Conventions, society, all of it. And that my dears, reminded me of my crush.

I am not prone to crushes, but I have one. It was surprising when I realized what was going on. I didn’t discuss it, but I did isolate myself from the person. The person is an author. (Those of you who know me very well know who it is. I had the crush well before I read Nervous.) I reviewed one of their books, but I discovered that I could not continue to do so because I could no longer trust myself to be objective when it came to their work.

So back to this mind blowing book. It is a Dominance and Submission tale. There is courtship, but not the traditional kind. Of course because it is fantasy, things are not as real as we would like. Then again, this is why I read. It was sweet, loving, and warm. The thing about this book though. For some reason, it gave me the OK on my crush. I can revel in it and be happy.

That is the beautiful about the romance genre, something lovely will sneak up on you and there you are, attracted to a character (and perhaps someone in real life), and you have no idea what happened. I find that absolutely amazing. Inspiring even.

I collect book husbands, wives, girlfriends, and boyfriends all the time. I am attracted to them for a variety of reasons. Personality being the number one. I even have a list. When it comes to real life though, that is where it gets tricky. All those fantasy attractions get side-barred when a real person shows up. Inspiring romantic writing can do that. The tricky part is that I have found myself in uncharted waters. I know I am not alone, but I also don’t know how to express it. I find myself rereading the romances that comfort me in my attractions. They may not comfort others, and that is OK. I know it is.

All of this leads me back to Nervous. I do firmly believe that romance starts with attraction. I also believe that personality plays a huge part in it. I may not be The Dragon, but I have no problems with The Dragon in all of his beauty, charm, and grace.

 

Bio: I am just book dragon. You can find my reviews on www.thornsandink.com. You can find various articles, excerpts, and musing on The Official Thorns & Ink Blog

Writing Outside My Spectrum

Writing Outside My Spectrum

I apologize for being late with this month’s post. *sighs* I was ill earlier in the week, and then Nano and day job and… *sighs* Well, here it is!

I’ve wanted to write this blog for a while, and I finally decided why not? You see, other than my Facebook personality, along with the muses, I’m really a shy person. I hide behind the computer screen and most of the time my social media profiles don’t feature a personal picture. It’s not because I don’t think I’m beautiful. *smiles and twists black locks of hair around my fingers* it’s because my writing shows so many different sides of myself. I mean, why would I want to write about a woman in her forties with an evil day job? Ugh. Sometimes those would make for great stories, but in my mind they’re kinda BORING. No, I don’t want to go so far as saying I’m boring.

Once I get to talking and, maybe with some help from the liquor variety, I’ll tell you my life story. Or maybe not.

*laughs*

But really, I’d rather tell you about my writing and the personas I take on when I sit down at the computer. Yep, besides the 4 muses, I have a variety of people I decided to be for every book.

For Michael Mandrake, I write gay male characters. I learn things from reading other books, articles, and things on the internet.

Like, porn. SURPRISE!

I’m sad to say, I have no close gay male friends, but when it comes to sex, I rely on what I read as my guide. While I edited Mocha Kisses, I was fortunate enough to have what I assume was a gay male editor. One thing I’ve hardly been questioned on is my sex scenes, but this time, he asked me about some of the things I wrote. I’m glad he did, because there were things I thought were true because of what I read or seen in porn. It’s good to have someone to advise you when you’re a cis-gendered, mostly het female and didn’t have the resources readily available.

As I’m rambling, I should get back to my post. I, as a cis het, female, want to write outside of what I know. I know customer service, worked in it fifteen years plus. I was a banker, I’m a mother of two kids, I’m married to a wonderful man, and I’m a black female who loves rock music. Even with all the things I claim to know, I will not go so far as to say I’m an expert. I still ask others for opinions or thoughts on things I include in my stories because I want to make an accurate portrayal. Despite all of this, I still might screw up on something because people will say, oh that’s not real or that doesn’t really happen, but that’s a topic for another day. Bottom line, I love writing outside of what I know to challenge myself and learn new things. I like to explore different worlds, cultures, etc, and I get hyped about putting that new knowledge into a book.

This kind of ties in with two recent kerfuffles in the gay romance genre about writing GLBTQIA  and/or people of color. You can ask questions, do research, just like you could about a doctor, police officer, EMT, etc. There is a lot of important information about these professions and people of different races, religions, gender identities, sexualities, and ages are no different. However, I do add this. Write them as individuals first because no matter the differences they are still people.

To get back to my writing outside spectrum post, I’m saying don’t let any of this stop you from writing the story you want to write. In all seriousness, Michael Mandrake scares the shit out of me with his complicated plots. Serial killers, CSI’s, homicide detectives, double agents, and that’s only the tip of the iceberg. I’m intimidated at the lengths in which I have to research these things, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

In my opinion, writing people shouldn’t be that much different. Do your due diligence and become that character you’re writing about. Do it with empathy and passion, and not because you feel you have to in order to sell books. Do it because you have a genuine interest in the person you’re including in your story because while you’re writing, you should put yourself in that character’s shoes and become that individual.

So why do I write outside again? To gain knowledge and become a different person. Besides, how many exciting stories are there about women in their forties unless they’re falling in love with a hot musician?

*looks at the idea on my long list of WIPs*

* * * *

Today’s promo is for Anasa’s Awakening, Book Three in the Immortals Series!

Blurb: Downtrodden and beaten by his Master, Anasa departs Nouvelle Terre for the solitude he can only find on earth. He must decide if serving a demon lord that has no love for him is worth eternal suffering. But the very thought of leaving his Master’s side chills him to the bone.

Shifter, Neil Arcenaux lives on the Mississippi River, content with his life as a loner. His ravenous sexual appetite often overrides his need for substance in his lovers. Relationships don’t agree with this gator. Why start now when life in the Big Easy is just that… easy?

When Neil spots Anasa wading in his territory, his natural instincts kick in, but not the ones he expects. Instead, Neil develops an overwhelming desire to mate with Anasa, even if only for a short while.

Surrendering to lust and passion gives Anasa a taste of what he’s always craved, but for how long?

And at what cost?

WARNING: Dark Romance! Flashbacks of torture and rough sex as well as on the page violence.

Books should be read in order.

All books in Immortals are FREE on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon Link to Anasa

To read a sample of Anasa’s Awakening, click here

Bio: Romance and erotica author Sharita Lira believes that love conquers all. Writing sexy stories of people who might be complete opposites, but somehow make a lasting connection that often leads to a happily ever after.

Happily married and mother of two, Sharita never allows complex plots to deter her from writing the story. Inspired by heavy music, attractive people she’s seen in person and on the internet, Sharita always has a tale on her brain.

In addition to being a computer geek and a metalhead, Sharita loves live music, reading, and spending time with family and friends. She’s also a founding member and contributor to the heavy metal ezine FourteenG.

For more information, please visit http://www.thelitriad.com and if you’re a fan who would like exclusive updates on her writings and chances to win prizes, sign up for the newsletter!

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Women and Gay Fiction

Note: the views in this post are those of the author, and do not reflect the official views of the QRI site or its owners. We strive to provide a safe place where various opinions can be expressed, and ask that all posts and comments be kept civil and on-point.

As of late the discussion about heterosexual women writing gay fiction has gathered some heat – again – and even though I tried to avoid the topic until now, I feel like I should throw in my two pennies…

One of the main – if not THE main – objection some people have is that a heterosexual woman is not able to write about something she doesn’t know, e.g. homosexual relationships. This argument seems to have some validity at first glance, but if you think about it, it’s actually not true. When I read the Dexter series, it didn’t occur to me that the author should have some experience in serial murder himself. Or when I read a thriller about black ops, I don’t expect the author to having been on such missions him- or herself. Fiction is just that – fiction. An exercise in ‘what ifs’ and ‘what would I do’.

Apart from that, who reads romance, even if it’s contemporary and not paranormal or historical or…, and expects it to be realistic? The whole reason I read romance is to escape reality for some blissfully happy hours during which things go right. To all those male authors who think I, as a heterosexual woman, shouldn’t be writing about gay relationships, I dare you: Take a hundred heterosexual romance novels and show me ONE where everything is depicted realistically. You won’t find one, I can assure you. And it’s not because those books weren’t written by heterosexual women. It’s because women like romance. It’s because women like to dream.

Yes, we know the sex scenes in those books aren’t that close to reality. Me and my husband have spent many funny hours trying to re-enact some of the more adventurous positions described in the romance books I read. I have killer abs now, from laughing so hard. The same goes for homosexual sex scenes. Of course I don’t know exactly what’s going on between two men in the sac (it’s none of my business either), but that doesn’t mean I can’t let my mind wander and imagine what it could be like or deduce from my own experiences with sex. (Basically, this is something romance and porn have in common: a more desirable, yet unreachable version of reality. Nobody has as many orgasms as the men and women in romance books, but who cares? It’s nice to think that at least somebody is having them.)

How did I get caught in porn? Ah, yes, I remember. I’m a heterosexual woman and I write about gay relationships. I don’t say what I write is true. I create a new world, in which I hope my readers can relax and have fun. I am willing to adopt the argument about me not writing gay fiction when it comes to topics that are more autobiographical and require personal experience. But even then, I’m convinced an empathic person can tell such a story without having lived it.

That much said, there’s also another, more important point I wish to make. Dear male authors of gay fiction, I hope you’re aware that more than half of your readers are heterosexual women. In my opinion, this whole discussion weakens the community when it should stand together. The LGBTQ movement needs allies. Allies with a strong voice. Heterosexual women have a strong voice. They are valuable allies. So shunning them for taking an interest, for trying to get a feel for the community, to integrate into it, to open it to others, and help it by donating part of their sales to LGBTQ charities (which many of them do) is, mildly put, dumb.

We’re not here to tell you how gay men should be. We’re not here to steal your customers/readers. We’re here because we have either children, or brothers and sisters, or friends, who identify as LGBTQ. Sometimes we’re just here because we’re liberal and truly think everybody should have the right to live their lives the way they want.

We’re not the enemy. If you feel a female writer has somehow wrongly portrayed homosexual reality, if you feel personally insulted, you can always contact her privately, telling her how you feel about it. Don’t lash out at female writers in general. As I said, we’re your friends, you’re allies. Please treat us with the respect you demand for yourself.

PS: Because I just read another post. To those of you who think a heterosexual woman can’t relate to the trauma and violence homosexual people, especially men, have gone through, hello! I’m a woman. Our gender has CENTURIES of experience with being suppressed, sold like cattle, married off to men we don’t know, of being dependent on our fathers, brothers, husbands, not being allowed to vote, being killed because the way we acted brought shame upon the family (‘shame’ being defined by the male members of society), not getting the job we want because of something we can’t change – our gender, having to be careful when we are alone after dark, or just alone. Many women carry pepper spray with them when going out, because assaults on women happen that often.

We should stick together, not tear each other apart.

Pressing Pause:Taking Time to Make a Plan

You’ve done it. You’ve accomplished your dream and are published. Now what? The first answer is to keep writing. But what? Another book? A short story for an anthology? Promotional materials? Everyone who offers career advice has different opinions. My suggestion is to pause, take some time to write up a plan. Notice I said write a plan. Put it on paper. Take some time to think about it. What do you want to accomplish? Where do you want to be next year? How many books a year do you want to submit, or if you are an independent author do you want to produce?

It doesn’t have to be a formal business plan, but it should have the following elements. Goals, steps to achieve those goals, and measurable outcomes. Only include those things you can control. We’d all like to be on a bestsellers list, but is that in your control? No. What is in your control is continuing to write, studying and improving your craft, working on promotional materials, and building your brand.

The internal pressure to work on every project that bubbles up in our brain can be intense. So many stories call to us, yammering on about how we need to drop everything and work on this story right now, making it difficult to choose where to focus our energy. Decide which creative project will move you towards your goal. Do that thing. Focus your energy on that project. Tuck the others away, schedule time to re-evaluate projects and make another assessment.

Once you’ve decided on your project, make a plan. Use whatever you use to organize your life, paper planner, electronic calendar, whatever, schedule time to work on your projects. Also schedule time for promotional efforts, schedule time to press pause again, and evaluate your plan. Is it working? What do you need to change something to get to where you want to go? Do not expect things to stay the same after you’ve published your first novel, the demands of promotional efforts, blog posts and interview requests can eat away at your writing time. Don’t let it. Building a backlist is the way to success as a published author. Enjoy your accomplishment, make a plan, and then get back to work.

Brenda Murphy writes short stories and novels. She is a member of Romance Writers of America. Her nonfiction and short fiction have been published in various collections. Her most recent novel, One, published by NineStar Press, releases  November 6, 2017. When she is not swilling gallons of hot tea and writing, she wrangles two dogs, twins, and an unrepentant parrot. She writes about life, books, and writing on her blog, https://www.brendalmurphy.com/blog.html

Website: www.brendalmurphy.com
Facebook:Writing While Distracted

 

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Release Blitz including Excerpt and 5 Star Review – Our Reason by Jessie G

Release Blitz including Excerpt and 5 Star Review – Our Reason by Jessie G

Our Reason RDB Banner

 

AUTHOR: Jessie G

TITLE: Our Reason

SERIES: Sizzling Miami #8 (Red & Bull #3)

COVER ARTIST: Andrew Reyna

PHOTOGRAPHER: Randy RLS Images

COVER MODEL: Alfie Gordillo

CATEGORIES: Gay Romance, Contemporary Romance

RELEASE DATE: October 24, 2017

FORMATS: eBook and print (printed version will contain both Their Reason & Our Reason)

 

 

 

 

Our Reason Cover

COVER MODEL: Alfie Gordillo
PHOTOGRAPHER: Randy Rls Sewell
COVER ARTIST: Andrew Reyna

BLURB

Married life is everything Bull and Red could have hoped for. It’s not something they’d ever take for granted and the need to pay it forward is a trait the husbands happily share. When the new director of the Bennett House asks Red to teach an art class, he isn’t entirely sure how it will help, but he’s more than willing to try. Before Bull, he used his art to purge his demons and sharing that with those in need of an outlet for their own pain was a gift he never considered giving. Each week he is rocked by the artful outpouring of emotion and the gratitude of his students. One by one, they burrow into his heart…but none more so than Dillon Young.

Always holding himself apart from the others, the wisp of a boy keeps his head down and hides behind a mangy, overgrown length of dark hair like a shield. Despite his best attempts not to see himself in all the young men that come through the center, everything about Dillon calls out to Red. Needing to share their encounters, and maybe hoping for a little perspective, he turns to the one man he knows he can always count on. Expecting Bull to be the voice of reason had been a fool’s mission from the start and soon they’re both invested in helping Dillon.

There’s no doubt they have an abundance of love to share and if ever there was someone who needed it, Dillon was the one. Between Bull’s strength and Red’s patience, they’ll help Dillon learn to trust again and in the process, create a family that none of them intended. Though they never envisioned themselves as parents, Bull and Red will find room in their happily ever after to save the child they didn’t know lived in their hearts.

ABOUT THE CHARITY: The Zebra Coalition® is a network of organizations which provide services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and all youth (LGBT+) ages 13 – 24. The Coalition assists young people facing homelessness, bullying, isolation from their families, and physical, sexual and drug abuse with individualized programs to guide them to recovery and stability.

A portion of the royalties from Our Reason will be donated by the author, but you can donate now at http://www.zebrayouth.org/donate/

 

 

AMAZON

GOODREADS: http://bit.ly/2xYW6RI

 

Our Reason by Jessie G - Teaser #1

EXCERPT

Dillon was at school when the center called about a job interview and his grandmother made the appointment before he knew it was happening. When he walked through the door, she was waiting with the news like they’d won the fucking lottery. He tried not to dampen her relief, but it only added weight to already high expectations—especially because Dillon knew it would probably blow up in his face. One lesson he learned in this fucked up life was that the more he wanted or needed something, the harder it was to get.

And they needed this. Desperately.

His grandmother tried her hardest, but they were barely getting by and all it would take was for the wrong person to notice. Dillon knew all about services that were supposed to protect children and wanted no part of being sent to some group home where he’d have to grovel or worse just to earn a blanket and a meal. More than that, he definitely didn’t want to be sent back to his mother.

Alabama had done both to him. First, taking him out of a situation they called dangerous only to put him someplace worse, then returning him because his mama proved herself reformed. The joke was on him for believing that things would be different. That she’d actually be the mother he’d always wished for. Now he knew better and having that threat hanging over their heads made him willing to do anything. Including allowing himself a moment of hope that maybe—just maybe—if the center vouched for him, then it might be doable.

Turns out, hope had a seriously screwed up sense of humor and Dillon really hated the thing that happened in his stomach when he heard the name of the business. The same one he’d seen it on the side of the tow truck that Mr. Connor’s husband drove. That massive beast gleamed in the sunlight and was impossible to miss, just like the man who drove it.

Dillon would never admit that he was both intimidated and fascinated by that big, bald, hulk of a man, but he was. How could he not be after seeing how that massive mountain treated his husband? Or that he had a husband to begin with? Men like that weren’t gay, they weren’t nice or gentle…or so he believed. That was his experience and he hated that someone was making him question it.

 

 

 

 

5 of 5 Stars

I’m going to start my review with a tiny confession. My opinion of this book, and my review of it, will not be unbiased. Red and Bull are my favorite couple. Every time I even read the word Red my heart breaks all over again. I have read For a Reason (FaR) 7 times. I will probably read it 7 more times (realistically probably more than that). In fact, when I first read FaR I had never heard of Jessie G…but you can rest assured I reached out to her after I read it.

If you haven’t read FaR and Their Reason, you need to read those books first. And while you’re at it just read all her books because you really won’t be sorry. But more than that, if you’re like me you’ll want to know who all the characters are and want their stories before meeting them in this book.

I knew I would love this book…what I didn’t know was how much I would feel while reading it. In fact, there is a little bit of water in my eyes as I write this. Red’s story is one of the most devastating I’ve read. Dillion’s wasn’t much better and between the two of them, I had a hard time reading part of this book because I couldn’t see the pages. This book couldn’t be anything but amazing because if it wasn’t the Red and Bull army would be in an uproar (myself included). Jessie delivered the perfect story…again. And the best part? We’ll probably see more of them in the future…in the other stories in this series and her other series.

As always, the entire ‘Connor clan’ is involved in this story and we get to hear from quite a few of them. We meet a couple of new characters including Dillion’s grandmother who is a ba$$ in her own right and Rupert, the fishing attorney, who I know we’ll see again. As always, the Queen of Tease leaves us with a huge hint for what he’ll be up to in the near future.

I’m going to go finish crying in the corner while I read For a Reason…again.

 

 

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Like many readers, the dream of being a writer has been with me a long time. After three decades of trying, I’d begun to doubt. Thanks to social media, I followed my favorite authors hoping to glean some words of wisdom as I pounded out half-formed ideas with alarming regularity. Two repetitive themes emerged: to be a great writer you must read a lot and your butt must be in the chair every day like it’s a job. The more you write, the easier it will be to write and the better you will be at writing. I took that advice to heart and write every day. With three series in the works and a full schedule of releases planned for the next two years, it’s been amazing to have made this dream my reality.

I am a firm believer in marriage equality, love at first sight, power dynamics, and happily ever after. I’m a lover of strong secondary characters, and series filled with families—biological or chosen. All are themes you’ll find throughout my books.


WHERE TO FIND JESSIE G:

Contact Links:

Website: http://www.jessiegbooks.com

Email: jessie@jessiegbooks.com

Newsletter Signup direct thru Mailchimp: http://eepurl.com/bhuja1

Newsletter Signup via InstaFreebie (Get a free copy of Brewing Up Trouble) https://www.instafreebie.com/free/sNhSy

Social Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JessieGBooks

Google +: google.com/+Jessiegbooksmm
Instagram: https://instagram.com/jessiegbooks

Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/jessiegbooks

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/jessiegbooks/

Tumblr (NSFW 18+): http://jessiegbooks.tumblr.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JessieGBooks

Author Pages:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/author/jessieg

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/jessiegbooks

To The Journey: Hiding Ourselves

To The Journey: Hiding Ourselves

Welcome to my first blog post. I titled my blog To The Journey because I believe we all walk our life’s path and learn from every experience—good and bad. And I am also a huge Star Trek Voyager fan and in the finale episode these words are used in a toast. I’ll be posting about writing, life, books, experiences…really anything. I plan on posting a couple of times each month. Please feel free to comment or ask questions because, as I state below, my life is an open book. So, on with the blog!

Today, I like to say my life is an open book: nothing to hide, but I wasn’t always like this. I spent years trying to hide from the world. But no matter how hard you try to shroud yourself in secrecy, bits and pieces spill through.

The first time I understood this I was in fourth grade, although to be perfectly honest I don’t think the full reality of what I learned hit me until I was somewhat older.

What does a fourth grader have to hide? For me it was everything. I felt ugly and awkward and that year the school was discussing whether to have me skip a grade, which was basically like placing a huge target sign on my back announcing to all that I was a geek. Not that my Annie glasses didn’t already do a great job of that already. I was constantly scared and just wanted to blend into the scenery and let others pass by without so much as a glance my way. Well, most people. I loved my teacher, Mrs. Robertson.

School was a bit of a dichotomy for me. I worked hard on my assignments and genuinely loved learning, but I was a child full of anxiety and sadness. I had a couple of friends, so I wasn’t completely alone, but I felt alone. A child’s perception can be distorted and as I look back now, I know that many of the things I feared at school were more in my mind than anything. Yet somehow, I knew from a young age that I had to hide certain things from people around me.

The fear amped up when I rode the bus home. What should I say? How should I act? What if he’s in a bad mood? Evenings were unpredictable at home, but reading offered me a chance to escape and live out amazing adventures in relative safety. So when Mrs. Robertson told the class we were going to publish a book, I was over the moon. I’d been writing stories for my dolls for as long as I remember. Now, this was the early 1980s and her version of “publishing” included staples and creating a cover out of fabric, but it was still thrilling.

The assignment was to write a short story about an object that meant something to you—a baseball, a picture, anything that you “treasured”. My mind immediately went to my doll, Pollyanna. My grandmother had given her to me the previous Christmas and she’d saved it from the 1950s to give to a granddaughter someday. I slept with her every night, or at least I had until recently, when I’d hidden her in my closet.

This assignment put me in a predicament. Removing her could mean I lost her. What if I forgot to put her back? What if she caught fire and I couldn’t rescue her?

You’re shaking your head, not understanding. I totally get that. Let me give you a little background.

My father was a brilliant man. Brilliant. He was an aerospace engineer and created amazing things across the globe-there was no doubt about it. He was brilliant, charming, and very religious. So religious, he found it necessary to quote the Bible as he beat the crap out of my mother in the middle of the night—usually after he’d arrived home from the bar.

Once he’d finished with my mother, he’d always make himself fried eggs and bacon. Our house always smelled like fried eggs and bacon. But in his drunken state, my brilliant father never remembered to shut off the stove. Never. If my mother was so beaten that she couldn’t turn it off, I would try to sneak out and do it, but I was petrified of being caught. My dad was violent and terrifying.

Okay, let me answer your obvious question. Why weren’t the police called? They were. In fact, they visited often. But in the late 70s and early 80s, each visit to our home brought about only one of three outcomes. Either they made sure he was passed out before they left, asked him to stay somewhere else for the night, or helped us pack to go to my grandparents for the night. The domestic abuse laws were woefully inadequate back then.

But I am getting off point, which is that I lived in fear of fire at that time. The knowledge of all that bacon grease sitting atop a stove that was still on filled me with a paralyzing fear. When a small grease fire started a month or so before this assignment, I had pulled out my favorite pink gingham pillowcase from the linen closet and filled it with all my favorite worldly possessions: Pollyanna, my stuffed dog Le Mutt (look him up, very popular in my day), my parrot t-shirt, my swimsuit, books that were important to me, and a birthday necklace. I hid it in my closet, which was just next to my window, sure that if a fire happened I could escape with my pillowcase.

I’d stopped taking Pollyanna and Le Mutt to bed once I packed them away in the closet, but that night I pulled out Pollyanna so I could write about her. I honestly don’t remember what I wrote that night, but I do remember not being able to sleep because I was too worried she would burn up, because once I took her out of the pillowcase, I didn’t want to let her go.

Over the next week we worked on our stories and then Mrs. Robertson had us illustrate several pages using colored pencils. The final touch was gluing the fabric to cardboard and attaching it to the book, creating a hardcover.

So, what did the little girl that spent most of her life hiding her reality from others call her book? Packed in a Pink Pillowcase. And what was the story about? How important it was to keep my doll safe from fire.

Yeah. Without even understanding it at the time, I had told my school about my dad. Meetings were held. Mom cried. I ended up in therapy. Twelve years of therapy to be exact. But my mom did find the courage to leave him not long after that.

I learned three things from this experience that I am pretty sure were not supposed to be part of the assignment.

First of all, no matter how hard you try, without even knowing it you give those close to you a snapshot into your heart and mind. You can’t hide the truth from those that love you.

Secondly, admitting the truth gave me courage. It eventually set me free from the daily fear and anxiety, although anxiety still rears its ugly head.

And third, I realized that writers can’t help but put part of themselves into a story. It’s just what we do, whether we intend to or not.

My mom tells me it was one of the things that really nudged her in the direction to start leaving him and, while she says she is proud of me, it’s really me that’s so very proud of her. She came out of the shadows of seclusion and our family stepped into the truth. It was blinding and scary and full of unanswered questions, but in the end it was what I needed. What we all needed.

I don’t write this to vilify my father or to seek sympathy. Rather, I choose to not hide or be ashamed of the experiences that made me who I am today. I learned not only is it almost impossible to keep secrets, there are times you shouldn’t keep secrets. I live my life as an open book now because I never want to hide again or feel ashamed of who I am or the journey I have traveled in my life.

Now, that being said, there is nothing wrong with keeping a few things to yourself. For instance, the possibility that I made chocolate mint brownies the other day and ended up eating half (code for all) is not something I would necessarily share. Purely hypothetical, of course.

*****

Sarah Hadley Brook reserves her evenings for her hobby-turned-passion of writing, letting the characters she conjures up in her mind take the lead and show her where the story will go. She dreams of traveling to Scotland some day and visiting the places her ancestors lived. Sarah believes in “Happily Ever After” and strives to ensure her characters find their own happiness in love and life.

 

You can find me at:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/sarahhadleybrookwrites

Twitter: @SarahHBrook

Website: www.sarahhadleybrookwrites.com

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/SHadleyBrook

Email me at contact@sarahhadleybrookwrites.com

Defending Romance

Defending Romance

Romance Locks

Okay, I should have been ranting about three weeks ago. Sorry, the madness of a new schoolyear sucked me in and has only now spit me out again. A little damp, but still mostly myself. Now that our daily routines are in order again, I have time to think about – well, everything. And mostly, I don’t like it.

Recently, I stopped watching the news – it’s too depressing. It’s like the whole world has gone mad and we’ve run out of pills. There’s so much I could rant about, so much that makes my insides twist with anger and sadness and general disbelief.

Luckily, I’m a romance/fantasy author. I can go places other people can’t (at least in my head). So I decided to leave all the nastiness behind and enjoy some much needed escape time. Which is basically what books, especially romance books, are for. When I attended college, the romance genre was always depicted as inferior and unsophisticated, something for housewives and people with no education, because, how much depth can there be in a love story? Especially one with explicit sex scenes?

I always resented that attitude. Granted, there are books out there which are more complicated than an average romance. But what good does that to me, when my brain is so overtaxed, it can’t handle complicated? Books are there to take the reader on a journey to places their bodies can’t go. They’re supposed to make the reader feel better after reading them. Perhaps not always happier, depending on the topic, but with a sense of calm.

People turn to books to deal with reality, because reality can be harsh and cruel and demanding sometimes. Reality is often a place we don’t want to be in. A book provides a safe space, an environment of the reader’s choosing where we can forget about all the things we can’t change. Romance books even more so. Who doesn’t enjoy a HEA? And, yes, that is a repetitive motive, but even Shakespeare deemed it important enough to write several plays about it. Relationships are something we all have, or wish to have, or wish to end, depending on the individual. So it’s only natural to read books about relationships and even more natural to like books with a happy ending.

I have to admit, I’m a reader who’s easily moved. I’m known to have cried over Yaoi comics and, of course, when Groot said his famous last line – We are Groot. I love to be moved by books. (I know, Guardians of the Galaxy is not a book, but, hey, work with me here 😊). I love becoming part of the story. I love getting so invested in the characters, I see them as real persons, even though they are not. Romance provides all these things to me. Romance makes me laugh and cry and giggle and sniffle. So what if sometimes the story-lines are a bit generic? That’s quite natural for a genre that focuses on one thing only – love. Besides, ‘generic’ doesn’t equal ‘boring’. It just means the reader is on familiar territory and can be surprised more easily with sudden plot turns.

Next time you feel the world is too much and you just don’t have the strength to counter it with a smile and by lighting a candle – grab a book, make yourself some hot chocolate or tea (sorry, I can’t recommend coffee, since I don’t drink it), find the coziest spot imaginable and just lose yourself in the utter perfection of a love story ending well.

And next time somebody wants to tell you romance is not a ‘real’ genre at all and anybody could write a romance, since it’s obviously just writing about sex and the couple having a misunderstanding and then getting together again, smile and think about the last time a romantic story saved your sanity. You can even pity the poor soul who’ll never have that kind of comfort.

Keep on reading!

All Covers Matter

Cover by the talented Emmy Ellis Studio ENP

This is a repost. To see the original with the beautiful covers of other authors represented, please click here.  Also please read the message about Queer in Color, coming November 5th!

When you think about book covers, it should represent what happens in the book. If it’s a mystery, it might be dark with big letters or some kind of complex scene. Fantasy, perhaps illuminations, bright lights that appear to be magic. In romance, most of the time you have people. Whether it be one or multiple torsos, that usually implies romance. Now, that isn’t always the case. Many romances have no people on them, which is fine too. Regardless of how it’s presented, it’s supposed to attract readers.

Now, let me be clear, this isn’t a post about covers being overpriced, ugly, or done on Photoshop or Canva. It’s about the message your cover gives when it’s on Amazon or any other selling platform as well as in the book store. What am I saying about the book through this cover?

Speaking from the author viewpoint, I want all my covers to reflect the diverse world I live in. Unfortunately, many times that doesn’t happen. Since I write mostly people of color, specifically characters who are black, the variety of stock models is limited. This can be very disheartening because the world is diverse so our options should be vast. Still, in 2017 this is a problem and an even bigger one when it comes to writing queer romance. I’ve been told a lot of models, especially those from marginalized groups don’t want to be associated with a queer book for fear of backlash. I respect that, but it doesn’t make it any easier for authors like myself. However, me, a person of color, will make every effort to put my PoC character on the front for everyone to see. I’ve been adamant about that even with my publishers. With one, only my PoC was on the front and I asked the wonderful artist to add his white counterpart, which she did. Not everyone will get this chance, so I fully understand it isn’t easy with a publisher.

Cover by the talented Emmy Ellis Studio ENP

However, if an author is self-publishing a book with a PoC, do all you can to include that character. As I stated, the number of PoC models are few and far between and many of them get used multiple times. (Shoutout to Karamo Brown) Despite him being reproduced on hundreds of covers, it represents a character of color you wrote.

From the perspective of a reader, your book will be the first one I pick up. Why? Because I see someone who looks like me on the front. Before people get upset, that doesn’t mean those are the only books I read. Again, I live in a diverse world so I want to read books about other races and cultures as well, but when I see a book that includes people from a marginalized group such as my own, I will pick up those first.

Cover by Brenda Gonet

Regardless of anything I say it is still your book. If you feel better about making the book with a PoC “fit in” with the rest to gain more sales, by all means, do that. This isn’t a slap on the wrist, it’s only my thoughts. I truly believe that any author who goes the lengths to create a character of a race or culture different than their own, should do everything they can to show that character. In my opinion, it shows you are trying to promote diversity and aren’t concerned that the story might lose a couple of notches on Amazon best seller’s list. People continue to cry for more diverse romance, but a big reason they can’t be found is because the marginalized person isn’t on the front.

And let me add, although I primarily mentioned race, this goes for other things too. Writing a story about a blind man? A person in a wheelchair? Someone with a hearing impairment? A different religion? Include something or someone that reflects that.  I guarantee if you do, it will stand out above the rest.

So, to conclude, this isn’t a slam on anyone. Authors, you have the right to do with your cover what you will. However, representation matters, especially these days when our society wants to go backwards. Fiction authors should be leaders when it comes to open-mindedness and diversity. Let’s continue to move forward, instead of going back.

Thanks for listening and please share your thoughts!

* * * *

All covers featured in the post are from my alter egos. Information can be found here on each one

Michael Mandrake Closely Guarded

Rawiya Something About Jayden

BLMorticia Under the Gun 3 

* * * *

I also wanted to take this time to inform everyone about the new initiative a group of authors are starting called Queer in Color. QIC is a website with a newsletter and social media to give exposure to books with people of color. Right now, we have a Kickstarter going on and we’d appreciate your support. Please donate if you can. Otherwise, please share the Kickstarter with others!

Queer in Color Kickstarter

* * * *

Bio: Romance and erotica author Sharita Lira believes that love conquers all. Writing sexy stories of people who might be complete opposites, but somehow make a lasting connection that often leads to a happily ever after.

Happily married and mother of two, Sharita never allows complex plots to deter her from writing the story. Inspired by heavy music, attractive people she’s seen in person and on the internet, Sharita always has a tale on her brain.

In addition to being a computer geek and a metalhead, Sharita loves live music, reading, and spending time with family and friends. She’s also a founding member and contributor to the heavy metal ezine FourteenG.

For more information, please visit http://www.thelitriad.com and if you’re a fan who would like exclusive updates on her writings and chances to win prizes, sign up for the newsletter!

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Thia’s Muse: It’s that time of year again

Thia’s Muse: It’s that time of year again

It’s that time of year again.

No, not fall (or spring if you’re south of the equator). No, not the beginning of the school year, though it is that. And no, not the fact that in the US we’re besieged with all manner of football and baseball games and people acting like Neanderthals watching them.

No, it’s… the buildup to the most overblown commercial holiday of the year. And in the book world, that means a plethora of wonderful new books by my favorite authors.

Which means, I’m going to be spending a lot of money over the next three months.

As a bookaholic & bibliophile, I cannot not read. And I’ve got tons of books that I reread often. However, there are always new books out there to tempt me. (Not that it takes much when it comes to books.)

One would think I would have figured this out by now – that I should have remembered to start saving on January 1st. So that I would have a few hundred bucks burning a hole in my pocket come this time of year. But no. Nope – it always comes as a surprise toward the end of September when I start seeing the ‘Coming Soon’ banners on my fave authors’ websites and then I start seeing even more coming soon notices on places like Facebook for authors I don’t know but whose books sound marvelous.

And now, this year, we’ve got QueeRomance Ink with that wonderful first page of Coming Soon LGBT romances.

What am I looking forward to this year? Well, that I know of: Jordan L. Hawk’s HexSlayer which comes out in early October. I’m hoping Heidi Cullinan releases a new Minnesota Christmas, though she’s busy rereleasing all her old Samhain stuff, so maybe not. (I want those babies in paperback!) There are several holiday boxed sets coming out.

I may have to take a job just to feed my holiday book habit.

So, what about you? What books are you looking forward to snatching up this coming few months? Though, maybe I shouldn’t ask… my to buy list will probably grow.

Until next time …grabs pen and begins adding to list

Thia

is a writer by day and supernova by night. Or at least that’s what the faeries tell her. And who is she to deny those pesky *cough* lovely little creatures?

She lives in the Pacific Northwest, though her heart belongs elsewhere. In the meantime, until she can return to the place she calls home, she happily lives in a city that still thinks it’s a small town. Thankfully, it has given her muse lots of amusing places to start a story.

Thia’s Muse: Flash Fic Fun #SciFi #mm

Thia’s Muse: Flash Fic Fun #SciFi #mm

I’ve been writing all my life and have been published since 2012, but I know I’m still a relative unknown out there, even with over 50 currently published books to my name–err, names. I thought it would be a fun way of ‘introducing myself’ to do some flash fiction. They will run the gamut genre wise.  Some will be serious, some will be filled to overflowing with humor – as I said last week, I’ve got four pseudonyms and each one writes something a bit different.

In the future, I hope you’ll help me choose a subject to write a flash fiction about, but for this first one I have a Sci-Fi flash fiction for you. The aliens in this ‘world’ came for one reason and they’re going to get it…no matter what Earth is prepared to do in retaliation. This flash fic was written so I could get more of a look into Forgon’s mind.

~~~

Earth lost. It was a foregone conclusion of course, but Earthens were a tiresome lot who, even when they had no chance, still tried to fight. If it weren’t the fact their stupidity had made the war last two months longer than it should have, Forgon would have been impressed with them. As it was, he was pissed. And not so much with the aliens in the polluted planet he could see through his window. No, he was angry at his own reconnaissance. They had done a piss-poor job and it would cost them.

Every Tranken aboard ship had come to find his mate. He would make sure that the thirty individuals who had been watching Earth for a decade were last in line to find theirs. Bastards.

The doors behind him swished open, his second in command stepping inside. “Ninety percent of the planet is under control, Forgon. The last ten percent is in the middle of a country we have shut off communications with. They can continue to fight and kill one another. By the time we need to check them out, most of them will be out of the way.”

Turning slowly, he looked at Tellet. Several millenias his junior, the man had risen through the ranks quickly and while the logical side of his brain could see why, at times like this he wanted to blast the idiot out into space. “We’re here for our mates,” he said slowly, each word like a bullet in the small room. “Our mates. If we let them kill one another, there’s a chance that one of the dead could be your mate. Are you willing to sacrifice him for the sake of letting a few idiots fight?”

A dull purple flush settled over Tellet’s soft blue skin, making his yellow hair appear orange. “I apologize, Forgon. You are correct. I will have a battalion end their squabbles.”

“Good. Make sure all armaments are dead tonight. For tomorrow, we start testing.”

Tellet stood tall, boots together, his hands held firmly at his sides, while his tail hung straight down between his legs. “As you command.” After lowering his head, he stepped backward, the doors swooshing open to allow him through and closing moments later.

“Someone’s going to cut his tail off if he doesn’t start thinking,” he murmured to himself, turning back to look down on Earth.

Coming to another dimension to find their mates wasn’t new, but it was always fraught with complications. As an eternal species, finding that one other being to share their existence with was imperative. Unfortunately, less than one percent found their bonded mate. Usually, they gave up and found someone they could be biologically united with for the life of the individual, anywhere from ten years to ten millennia, depending on the species. However, anytime one of them chose that course, it took them to the bottom rung on the list to be mated.

Forgon had been alive more than a hundred millennia. It had been so long he stopped counting ages ago. For the last thousand years, he had commanded the vessels to find the mated. It was a daunting task. For every Tranken who went knew they had less than a one percent of a one percent chance of finding their eternal companion. Even though they knew that, every individual hoped that this would be the time. As such, the trip back would be filled with a ship filled with depressed men who would be jealous of anyone who was lucky enough to find theirs. It was one of the reasons he had instituted a mandatory secure area that only those who found their mates could enter and there they would stay throughout the return journey.

The squawk of the com system let him know there was about to be a ship-wide announcement. Of course, he knew what it would say, but he allowed himself to feel what the other men felt when it came.

“Tranken, tomorrow the process will begin. Proceed to create your Bio cards so they may be inserted into the system. Once we begin to receive Bio transmissions from earth, they will be compared to all the information on file. Any near chances will be tagged and if near enough, you will be taken to Earth to meet your possible mate. Again…” The message played four times and Forgon trembled as the feeling of hope rushed through the ship along with nerves.

There would be no working tonight. Every Tranken on board would be too busy hoping, wishing to meet their mate. And Forgon, even after he thought he’d come to terms with never finding his, was one of them. All he needed was to find that one humanoid amongst the stars and his forever would change.

Looking back down at Earth, he sighed. An Earthen would not find the change from mortal to immortal easy, but if he found his mate, they would not get a choice. Just as it was with all of his species, once the mating began, nothing would stop it and three days after it began, his mate would be fully on his/her way to being perfected. Sighing again, he placed his palm against the window and sent up a little prayer that he would find his companion. Forever was too long to be alone.

~~~

I’d love to hear what you think. And if you have an idea for a flash fiction, write it in the comments below. Not a fully fleshed out idea, but give me 1-5 words, a word or phrase you’d like seen in a flash fic. I’ll keep note of any ideas you have and will post the flash fics that hit me from time to time. This should be fun 😀

Until next time… where’d I put my pen?

is a writer by day and supernova by night. Or at least that’s what the faeries tell her. And who is she to deny those pesky *cough* lovely little creatures?

She lives in the Pacific Northwest, though her heart belongs elsewhere. In the meantime, until she can return to the place she calls home, she happily lives in a city that still thinks it’s a small town. Thankfully, it has given her muse lots of amusing places to start a story.