Take Note – Anne Barwell

Hi, it’s Anne Barwell back for my monthly blog on Authors Speak. Thanks again, Lou, for hosting me.

Last week a few of us at work took a Myers-Briggs personality test. I can’t remember exactly what four letters I came out with, but the end results were spot on: Reader, writer, and musician. I’m very much a reader, and work in a library, am a writer, and a musician. I taught music for ten years, it’s my minor in my BA, and one of the subjects in my BTeach. I played piano for church for many years, and also play violin for a local orchestra.

I usually write with music playing in the background, and often I’ll look up from what I’m doing and think that a particular song or piece of music reminds me of either a character or a story I’m writing. When that happens, I’ll jot the title down. The music I listen to isn’t usually a soundtrack to what I’m working on, but sometimes it’s more the feel of it to get in the right mood. For example I like listening to Michael Bublé when I write my WWII Echoes Rising series. Although he’s not a singer from the 1940s, he sings a lot of older songs, and it puts me in that mindset. Every time I hear ‘I See Fire’ by Ed Sheeran I think of dragons and A Knight to Remember, and Dancing in the Moonlight reminds me of Simon and Ben of The Sleepless City.

Music also tends to be a reoccurring theme in my writing. Several of my characters are musicians, and it’s played a part in a few of my books too.

I’m about to start the final copy edit for the 2nd edition of Winter Duet book 2 of my WII series Echoes Rising from DSPP Publications. Both Kit and Michel in that series are musicians, and I used quotes from Schubert’s Winterreise as part of the code phrases exchanged between members of the Resistance. I also love the idea of code in music, and played with that in the story too. Reese Dante did a wonderful cover for Winter Duet with the outline of a violin against a winter forest backdrop, and sheet music in the background.

Music also features quite extensively in On Wings of Song which begins with the Christmas truce in 1914 during WII, and then continues through to 1920. One of the main characters, Aiden, is a singer, and his music is an integral part of the plot. TL Bland caught the feel of the story perfectly with the sepia cover, and music in the background.

Here’s an excerpt from the story when Aiden sings during the Christmas Service during the Truce:

“I’ve seen it,” Aiden said quietly. “I wish to God I hadn’t.” He looked directly at Jochen. Jochen met Aiden’s gaze. He’d seen an echo of Conrad’s fire in Aiden when he’d talked about his music earlier that afternoon.

“Don’t die on the wire, Aiden.”

“I’ll try not to.” Aiden’s words were an empty promise. They both knew it, but what else was he going to say?

The red-haired man Aiden had spoken to about arranging the burials walked over to him. He too held a shovel, and he wiped perspiration from his brow despite the cold. “There’s going to be a combined service for the dead,” he told them. “In about ten minutes in no man’s land in front of the French trenches.”

As they made their way over, men were already beginning to gather, soldiers from opposite sides sitting together, conversation dwindling to a respectful silence. A British chaplain stood in front of them, a Bible in his hand, a German beside him. Jochen recognized him, although he didn’t know his name. The young man was only a few years older than Jochen and was studying for the ministry—would he ever get the chance to complete those studies?

Jochen and Aiden found somewhere to sit a few rows back from the front and joined the company of men. The German spoke first. “Vater unser, der du bist im Himmel. Geheiligt werde dein Name.

The British chaplain repeated the words in English. “Our Father who art in Heaven, Hallowed be thy Name.”

They then spoke a few words each, some from the Bible, the rest from their hearts. Their congregation was silent apart from a few quiet “amens.” Jochen saw a couple of men wipe tears away. He was close to it himself.

Finally the chaplain bowed his head in prayer. When he’d finished, he spoke quietly to the man who had come to stand next to him. It was Captain Williams. He nodded and looked over the crowd, his gaze fixing on Aiden.

Aiden must have guessed what Williams wanted. He inclined his head in response and then stood. Jochen glanced between the two men, confused. What did Williams expect Aiden to do?

“Aiden?” Jochen asked softly.

Aiden smiled at him and began to sing. “O Holy Night, the stars are brightly shining….” He lifted his head, his voice strong and clear, each note building on the last to create something truly beautiful, something angelic. Aiden’s eyes shone; his body swayed slightly in time with the music. He was the music.

His audience sat in awe. Jochen could feel the emotion rippling through the men around him, tangible, as though he could reach out and touch it. He felt something inside himself reach out, wanting to be a part of it, to be carried along the wave of pure music, to grab it and never let go.

Although music isn’t reflected on the cover of Slow Dreaming the song of that name drives the storyline of my New Zealand set time travel novella. Jason, a time traveller, is haunted by a song almost remembered from a dream, but finds the truth behind it almost too late, when he meets Sean, a musician and songwriter who quickly becomes far more than just an assignment.

Finishing this post with an excerpt from that story:

“You’re a musician?” A familiar not-quite tune whispered to him. He ignored it.

“Yeah, although more of a songwriter than a performer.” Sean shrugged. “I doubt you’ve heard of me, although a couple of local bands are willing to play my stuff. I play keyboards for them on the occasional gig, too, when the usual guy is off sick or whatever.” He glanced toward his pile of papers, his mouth twisting into a half grimace, half-shy smile. “I’m working on a new one but having trouble getting it quite right. That happens sometimes, then when it’s the right time, it all falls into place. It drives me crazy until it does, though. I swear I eat, drink, and sleep the thing.”

“I’d love to hear what you’ve got so far.” Jason could have kicked himself for not taking the time to listen to the sound files attached to Sean’s dossier. However, it was Sean’s role at the café that was the focus of the assignment, not his music.

“That settles it.” Sean grinned. “I knew you were crazy with all your talk of hotness. Now you want to hear music composed by a guy you’ve only just met.” He schooled his face into a solemn expression. “I think that’s about the fourth sign of madness isn’t it? After all, for all you know my music could be really bad. How do you know you won’t lose your hearing and good taste for the rest of eternity?”

“And here I was thinking the fourth sign was being a true believer of the sanctity and healing properties of coffee,” Jason deadpanned.

Bio:
Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with two cats who are convinced that the house is run to suit them; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date it appears as though the cats may be winning.

In 2008 she completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra.

She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth.

Anne’s books have received honorable mentions four times and reached the finals three times in the Rainbow Awards. She has also been nominated twice in the Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice Awards—once for Best Fantasy and once for Best Historical.

Links:
Blog: http://anne-barwell.livejournal.com/
Website: http://annebarwell.wordpress.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/anne.barwell.1
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/115084832208481414034/posts
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4862410.Anne_Barwell
Dreamspinner Press Author Page:
http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/AuthorArcade/anne-barwell
DSP Publications Author Page:
https://www.dsppublications.com/authors/anne-barwell-49

The value of giving your opinion

So, right now, the United States is in a huge uproar. Our political system—which I will admit needs to be fixed—is getting worse by the day. This election cycle has been the most poisonous pile of vitriol I think I have ever witnessed in all the years I’ve been old enough to vote (and that’s not a few years!).

It’s very tempting to wade into the conversation and start throwing the
unfollow same verbal punches everyone else is. There is so much misogyny, racism, classism, and more going around that it at times makes me physically ill. I have unfriended and unfollowed more people during this election cycle than I can begin to comprehend.

And believe me, there are plenty of times I want to start yelling from the rooftops about my views. They are important. They are a part of me. However, that way just leads to disaster.

J. Scott Coatsworth wrote about this a little while back. He made good points that I can’t argue. We don’t like to see some of our favorite authors/artists/actors/whatever turn out to be douches because they’ve let their political views out and they’re exactly the opposite of ours (or worse, they call for violence against a group).
unfriendWe are as human as they rest of the world. We have views, ideals, needs and worries just like the rest of the population. In the M/M genre, we can feel safe about speaking about some things—gay rights, marriage equality—because if someone is patently against them, they probably don’t want to read my books, anyway. And that’s cool. We all remember that no book is universally liked (a fact I like to remind myself of when things get bad).

However, for the same reasons my readers don’t want to know the gory details of a surgery I need or how my body reacted to the lunch I had the postoptions

other day, they also don’t need to know every detail of my political stances. Even if they’re on the same general end of the political line as me, there are so many little things we can disagree on that it’s likely that one tiny detail I wouldn’t think is important might be the biggest thing ever to someone else.

The problem is, as an author, it’s not just that one reader I have to worry about. For the same reason we want readers to review, to tell their friends about our books, we have to be careful how we approach controversial topics. That one reader can just as easily talk to their friends about this too.

And let’s face it. The vast majority of us don’t make so much money that we don’t have to worry about that. Sure, Mel Gibson can be an anti-Semitic asshole. But he can afford to be. Me? A two-digit change in the number of books I sell can mean the difference between buying a medication or not.

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“Hmm. Maybe I shouldn’t have said that… oops?” **

Now, not everyone is as politic (see what I did there?) as Scott was. Sometimes you get a fairly new author that (I might be generous here) might not realize just how much a ranty post can cost them—whether it’s about US (the current election) or UK (Brexit) politics or a more localized community concern—like pseudonyms and profile pictures. And rather than approaching it with the preface that, yes, it could cost me readers but it’s necessary, they just go off.

My advice? At the very least, until you have a pretty decent following –or don’t care how many books you sell—don’t bring politics onto your Facebook page, Twitter feed, blog, etc. If you have a private Facebook profile, that’s where you should put your opinions and views. Keep it to family, offline friends, etc. It’s not easy, I get that. Because of it, I’ve hovered over unfollow so much it isn’t funny. I’ve wanted to punch lights out, scream until I’m blue in the face, shake people. But the current political clime is going to do one of two things: fall apart completely (in which case, what my political opinions are won’t matter worth a damn) or the heat will cool off and we’ll all go back to discussing hot man-on-man sex.

So, before you share that post or write your rant, ask yourself this question:

Is it worth it?

Probably not.

**Photo credit: Paul Miller, EPA

Stop Talking About It

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This is an article I wrote a year or so ago for another blog. I’m cheating this month because I’m on the deadline train and I like the article and want to rewrite it a bit and re-share.

Hope that’s okay!

I wish there wasn’t a gay fiction category.

There are many reasons people read and write fiction of any genre with gay characters. My favorite type of story is not the one where the focus is on a character being gay. I love the story where the main character(s) just happen to be gay. Being gay shouldn’t be considered a character flaw so it stands to reason it shouldn’t be what defines a character.

I think it’s great when a book/TV show/movie has characters that also happen to be gay. Their sexual orientation doesn’t need to be the story line.

The Syfy Channel is an excellent example of doing just this. Yes, this is television, not books, however script writing is still writing and all movies/TV shows start out in a written form. LGBT representation is wide-spread in Syfy’s original programming. They don’t shout about it, or advertise it and the importance of the character is not the fact that he or she is gay or a lesbian or bi. These facts are one aspect of the many layers of a character.

One of the best examples of how Syfy channel has accomplished this is the show Warehouse 13 (great, fun show, give it a watch if you haven’t already). From the start the LGBT community has been represented. In season 3 they added a gay character to the regular cast, a former ATF agent, Steve Jinks…aka Jinks or Jinky on the show. He’s also a Buddhist and has recently ended a long term relationship with a man who is US Marshal (cha-ching).

Jinks is badass. He’s a wonderful, multi-layered character who also happens to be gay. He’s got an awesome story line that has nothing to do with his being gay. There is no real angsting over will the other characters accept him or not, which is refreshing. They take his being gay as just him. They are supportive when they have to work with Jink’s ex, asking if they should hate him, because they could do that. Later Jinks and his ex discuss what went wrong between them.

There is a second character, a woman HG Wells, and she’s openly bi. As with Jinks that’s not what is important about her character. She’s one of those good bad guys. The fact she’s bi comes out during her story line but isn’t the focus of her story. Her character has layers upon layers and they all come together to create a memorable, fascinating character.

Let’s not forget Caprica with a gay man who was an enforcer!

The Star Trek franchise is taking the same approach. From the first appearance Star Trek has always boldly gone… and they’re not stopping now. Hikaru Sulu, another badass character was recently revealed as gay. It’s not a big announcement, I understand there’s a family picture and some mention of his husband. How awesome is that? The focus is on the man and his part in the story, not who he goes to bed with at night.

These characters are treated like all the other characters on the show. They are what they are and their story lines is what is important. The focus of their character is what they do, not who they sleep with. I think that goes a long way in promoting the LGBT community in general.

There is certainly a place in literature for the coming out or coming of age traditional LGBT story and those stories need to be told. However, we must also have a place for this other type of story where there are gay characters but the story doesn’t revolve around that aspect of the characters.

Actor Morgan Freeman made a wonderful statement about Black History month that can also apply to LGBT people. He basically says to stop prejudice and bias we need to stop talking about it. The Syfy Channel, Star Trek franchise and publishers such as DSP Publications have done an amazing job of showing how to do just that.

“Stop talking about it. I’m going to stop calling you a white man, and I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man. I know you as Mike Wallace. You know me as Morgan Freeman.”– Morgan Freeman.

 

Visit Elizabeth Noble at her website.

Congratulations to our winner!

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Our Authors Speak giveaway raffle is for July is over. We had a fair number of entries, and appreciate every one of them. Thank you so much for registering, following, and helping us spread the word. Jen CW is the lucky random winner of $15 in book money this time around. Let’s all yell the word at the top of our virtual lungs: Congratulations Jen!
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Sitting on the KU Fence

No dice

To KU or not KU–it’s a question I’ve been pondering for months now. I wrote a post about my ongoing waffling debate about whether or not to list with Kindle Unlimited, at the end of which I’d almost convinced myself not to do it. My reasons were varied–Amazon is paying authors based on a model of number of pages read: but they can’t accurately determine this number, nor can they keep scammers from playing the system to their advantage. The changing TOS is worrisome, as well as the feeling that even for those who say KU is working well for them, this is just a bubble that will collapse once Amazon owns the entire reading market.

Only, there’s that promise of a payout now… the notion that this story, if enrolled, might be the one that catches fire. That, because of Amazon’s aggressive promoting of KU stories over others, this story will be the one that helps pay the bills, brings new readers to your backlist, cures cancer, and will make everything better. Even though intellectually, I know I have a better chance of winning the lottery, it’s a very seductive idea.

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So here’s the background: in 2012, I wrote a novella that was part of an anthology. I’d always wanted to go back and expand on the story, and finally in 2016, I got the chance. Because of its previous incarnation as a novella, I can’t submit the revised story to my usual publisher, which means self-publishing. Fine. No big deal. I’ve self-pubbed before, and while I don’t think it fits my current situation as well as working with a publisher, I recognize there might be a time when that changes, so I like the idea of keeping my hand in. Things change so rapidly in this business. What worked in 2013 is déclassé today.

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One of the big things that has changed is the notion that a stint on Kindle Unlimited is necessary to the success of a story these days. So as I am coming down to the wire with the release of Fool’s Gold (I only have the formatting left to do, and then I can upload the file), I’m looking at this decision once again.

A couple of new cautionary tales have come to my attention since I last toyed with this idea. This post is about an author who got notified by Amazon she’d been banned for life from publishing because the Zon believed she was guilty of manipulating page-clicks. Read the fine print on the post because according to Amazon, the company will hold you responsible for something a book promoting service you hire might do. Also, getting paid $1.50 for a 300 page book in KU is a bit disheartening, don’t you think? The only way KU can make up for undervaluing stories is to sell them to LOTS of people. But I digress…

This post is by an author who got the same warning letter from Amazon–only she also had someone steal her identity–and she can’t help but wonder if the two things were related: that in fact, someone deliberately ran up her KU numbers because they gained access to her bank account. Her advice was to keep close tabs on your sales through KU and alert Amazon to any unusual spikes before they came looking for you. The Digital Reader posted about similar cases, and concluded that until Amazon could distinguish innocent authors from scammers, the only way to be safe was for authors to pull their books from KU.

Whew. Not very encouraging, is it? I find myself having to weigh the risks of being permanently banned from Amazon as an author because my life is too hectic for me to watch my accounts like a hawk versus the whispers of that promised land of author recognition and financial success. The reality is neither scenario is likely to happen. And I can’t adequately say ‘yay’ or ‘nay’ to something I haven’t tried for myself. I don’t have high expectations for this story–I doubt seriously the average romance reader is going to fall hard for a story set in the world of competitive sport horses! So perhaps Fool’s Gold is the perfect guinea pig.

I’ll let you know.

Oh! I almost forgot–we’re running a Rafflecopter of prizes for signing up to follow the blog via email! Check out all the details here!

 

Sarah Madison is a writer with a little dog, a big dog, an even bigger horse, too many cats, and an extremely patient boyfriend. You can find her on the web at:

Website/Facebook/Twitter/Newsletter

 

Self-Care is for Everyone by Charley Descoteaux

Hello and welcome to my monthly column at Rainbow-Gate!

I had a post all ready to go but I scrapped it. (Okay, archived it.) This is a happier post, but far less editing has gone into it so if you see anything that makes you cringe I apologize in advance.

The past few weeks have been, well, horrible. I’ll spare you the gory deets, but doctors have been and will be involved for at least the next few weeks. In times like these, when life seems to throw feces regardless of which direction I jump, it’s easy to forget about self-care.

So I’m here to remind us all that it’s important to do things that make us happy. Rest and good nutrition are necessary, but so are the little things. Maybe even things we’ve wanted to do for a long time but were hesitant or even afraid to try.

 

I colored my hair purple for Pride and it made me so happy I’ve kept it that way. Not as purple, but I’m making sure the peek-a-boo highlights don’t fade. So many random people have smiled at me since I’ve had my purple hair and some have even said, “I love your hair” or “Cool color” as we passed on the street or in a store. And that feels pretty great.

 

Self-care doesn’t have to be as bold and unconventional as a 51 year old woman walking around with purple hair. Nobody even has to know about it except you. For instance, I tried to sleep in this morning but couldn’t. However, as soon as I get tired this afternoon (if I make it that long *lol*) I’m taking a nap.

 

I have deadlines and emails to write and a cat and apartment that need care—but I need care too.

 

 

What do you do for self-care? We can all use a new idea (or twelve) for how to treat ourselves better. You don’t have to share one to enter the blog’s Rafflecopter, but I hope you will anyway. Bonus points for ideas that are free or under $10 (hint: book recs are welcome!).

Thanks for sticking with me!

Al the info about the Rafflecopter (book $$ is involved) is in this post.

Catch up with me online & continue the conversation!

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All photos courtesy of johnhain at Pixabay.

Out Now: Acceptance, Forbes Mates #3 by Grace R. Duncan

Finding his mate is the least of Quincy’s worries–keeping Miles alive is the real priority…and will take every ounce of creativity Quincy has.


Published by Dreamspinner Press
Release date: July 8, 2016
236 pages
Cover artist: Reese Dante

Blurb:

Dr. Miles Grant acknowledges that his destined mate could be either gender even though his bisexuality cost him his family and his pack. Luckily he found the Forbes Pack, who happily accept him just as he is. What he never counted on was finding his mate in Pittsburgh or for his mate to be another species entirely—a cat!

Quincy Archer isn’t just any jaguar shifter. He is the heir to the leadership of his pride. Destined mates are nothing but legend to the nearly extinct and generally solitary jaguars, and Quincy certainly never expected to find one for himself, much less a male… or a wolf.

However, finding each other and coming to terms with their species is the least of their worries. Quincy is expected to select a proper female mate, father a cub, and take his place as heir to the pride. Except Quincy refuses, having no interest in women or leadership and knowing he isn’t right for it. But his father will stop at nothing—not even attempting to kill Miles—to get his way. Quincy and Miles must overcome many obstacles to stay together as the destined mates they’re meant to be.

Get Acceptance here:

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Excerpt:

Miles flopped down on the end of the couch in the tiny break room and rested his head on the back. His eyes closed on their own before he could tell them to. He didn’t have long—maybe twenty, if he was lucky.

He was seriously regretting taking on so many shifts. But he’d been missing Quincy and needed something to occupy his mind, to distract him. It was ridiculous, he knew that; they’d met twice. But they were mates, destined, and their bond had already started forming. His wolf had been driving him crazy, pushing him to try to find Quincy and mate.

The problem was, whether he liked it or not, he didn’t doubt for a moment Quincy spoke the truth about why they couldn’t be together yet. He’d talked to Chad and Jamie a little and got the gist of the problems Quincy was having, though Chad wasn’t in good enough shape to do much talking yet. He was still recovering from the change, still learning how to filter sounds and light, still learning how to be a wolf.

But Miles’s wolf didn’t understand, didn’t give a shit about any of that. In fact, he was pushing Miles to protect Quincy, which was more than a little laughable. He’d been truthful—he wasn’t afraid of a cat—but he had no knowledge whatsoever of the jaguar world. It still killed him that Diana had given him a cat. He’d been ready for his mate to be either male or female; he would have been content with either, even if his family and former pack had other ideas about that. But no, he had to get a different species altogether.

And a species he didn’t know a damned thing about. He didn’t know how far someone like Quincy’s father would go to get his way. And Miles was a healer, not a fighter. He could fight—all shifters learned how—but that didn’t mean he relished it, so he wasn’t as good as most others.

He needed to see Quincy again, even for a little while. He could appease his wolf a little, make himself feel a little better, and maybe find some patience to wait more.

Quincy had sent a few messages since he’d seen his mate last—in the emergency room waiting area two months ago—mostly texts and a couple of e-mails to let Miles know he was still alive and still in hiding. They’d exchanged little bits about each other, but Quincy hadn’t wanted to say a lot lest it was intercepted. It wasn’t much, but at least knowing Quincy was okay helped keep Miles from going completely insane. He’d like to think he’d know if Quincy was killed, but he wasn’t sure how far their thin bond went, for something like that. When he’d asked Chad how Quincy had gotten his contact information since he’d never had a chance to give it, Chad had told Miles not to wonder about it. But Miles knew at least part of what Quincy did and wasn’t worried. He didn’t think for a moment Quincy would use it against him.

The last two months had been pure hell. He had no idea how Tanner had managed to keep Finley at arm’s length for two years. Granted, they’d been able to date, hang out together, that sort of thing, and he hadn’t so much as glimpsed Quincy in two months.

So he’d spent most of it working. A few times he’d been told point-blank to go home, that he’d been working too much. Whether he’d liked it or not, they’d been right. He’d been so tired he’d barely been standing. But after getting a few hours’ sleep—filled with some very vivid dreams of Quincy—he’d needed to do something.

Since he couldn’t go back to work, he decided to do the other thing he was good at: learn. He’d gone down to the Carnegie Library in Oakland and begun reading up on all things Ancient Egypt, starting with Bastet. He had no idea how much of it was accurate to the jaguars and how much was pure myth, but he figured having a basis to start from wouldn’t hurt.

Miles sighed and sat up again, eyeing the coffee machine in the corner. It was clear he wasn’t going to get any sleep, so he might as well get going the only other way he could. But as he stood and turned to the counter, he got hit with a huge tangle of emotion that wasn’t his. Anger seemed the primary emotion, though there was fear mixed in. And pain. Too much pain.

Quincy?

Miles raced out of the room, not thinking about how it would look—not thinking much at all. If Quincy was close, something was very, very wrong.

Just as he rounded the corner near the ambulance entrance, one of the nurses ran up to meet him. “Dr. Grant! Your pa—”

“Partner,” Miles interrupted, then stopped himself when the nurse simply blinked at him. He’d never told them about a partner—because he hadn’t actually had one, as far as he knew—but he’d deal with that later. “A friend called me,” he said, thinking quickly.

“Oh. Okay. They’re bringing him in now.”

“Thanks. How bad is it?”

Just then the doors opened and the paramedics pushed Quincy in on a stretcher. He was naked except for a sheet, his normally pale skin way too light. He had long gashes on his chest and stomach, but the rest was covered by the sheet. It looked like the scratches—probably caused by shifter claws, if he was any judge—had already started healing, though plenty more still looked wrong with him.

Miles had to take a quick breath, then a second as Quincy’s scent hit him hard—the hint of graphite and paper that overlaid a sweetness incongruent to Quincy’s outer personality. Miles had to shove hard on his wolf. He wanted out and wanted to go after whatever or whoever hurt their mate. Not now. We’ll help our mate, but not now.

With another breath through his mouth, he went into professional mode, falling back on his training and knowledge so he could make sure Quincy healed properly and didn’t raise too many eyebrows in the process.

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About Grace

noh8Grace Duncan grew up with a wild imagination.  She told stories from an early age – many of which got her into trouble.  Eventually, she learned to channel that imagination into less troublesome areas, including fanfiction, which is what has led her to writing male/male erotica.

A gypsy in her own right, Grace has lived all over the United States.  She has currently set up camp in East Texas with her husband and children – both the human and furry kind.

As one of those rare creatures who loves research, Grace can get lost for hours on the internet, reading up on any number of strange and different topics.  She can also be found writing fanfiction, reading fantasy, crime, suspense, romance and other erotica or even dabbling in art.

Find Grace here:

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Shelly Davidson – Happy Independence Day

Happy Independence Day!

I have been pondering what independence means, truly means and I suppose it’s different for everyone. For some, it’s being able to stand on their own two feet (or one if the case may be) and to be able to gain what they desire in their hearts. It’s being able to make choices and to live with those choices. Independence is about surviving.

Writers understand independence in ways that many others do not. As a writer, much of our craft is born within our minds, takes life in our thoughts, and is born through the keystrokes of our fingers. Being a writer is a very lonely place, existing solely in the mind until one brings it forward and dares to put to words what has been festering in the dark depths. Writers take the ideas that are a very private part of themselves and weave them into characters and stories and can take readers on a journey through their words.

I have recently become a published author for the first time (plug: Resurrection, a M/M Military Romance available through Amazon Click here) and I have had some very good reviews. Many have expressed amazement to the fact that this is my first book. What people tend to look over is that this is by far NOT my first book. I’m over 50 years old and I have been a writer my entire life! I have written short stories, poetry, plays, online role play, and countless stories and books over the years. Yes, this IS my first published novel and honestly, I am very proud of it.

But I am no different from so many authors out there. I read many posting on Facebook about the struggles, with feelings of giving up, and the frustrations with not being able to make ends meet. I get that. Being a writer is something that can be so emotionally draining and take so much out of a person yet pays so little and rarely gets the writer the kudos they deserve. If you’re lucky, you write that best seller that is seen by millions, but most of us, 99.999% of writers will never feel that sort of success. It does not mean we are not as good of a writer as that person is. It does not mean we do not have as good of ideas as that person. I mean, have you ever read Stephan King? That guy has some seriously messed up ideas! It just means it wasn’t meant to be.

I have never wanted to make a living with my writing. Maybe that’s why I never tried to become published before now. I have always figured that if I have to rely on what I love to do in order to pay my rent, then I will be forced to do it and writing does not always work that way. I write for myself first, for my own enjoyment and yes, to calm the characters that pop up in my head, make me lose sleep, and demand their story be written down. Now, that fact that others are also enjoying something I wrote not only boggles my mind but makes me very happy. To have a physical book with MY name on the spine is pretty damn mind-blowing.

Now, that is not to say that you shouldn’t love your job or be passionate about what you do for a living. Many people are able to combine the two and live quite happily. I am just not one of those people and I am sure there are plenty of creative individuals out there, writing until the wee hours of the morning or painting and drawing over and over until they feel it’s right who also believe that art and the creation is a very personal thing. Some people have amazing talent but the thought of showing that talent to the world is terrifying because it’s part of them in some way. The words, the strokes, the colors – it’s all a part of the creator in some way.

I suppose the aim of this posting and the focus I wanted to take today was that it is Independence Day. Celebrate it however you feel you should. In my family, it is a day of mourning because we lost a loved but troubled family member on this day so we all avoid festivities.

However, this year, I am able to celebrate something new. I am a writer and I have been successful in completing a full novel (not as easy of a task as you’d think! You should see all the story starters I have over the years!) and been lucky enough to not only get it published but have others enjoy it as well. So, for me, this Independence Day has taken on a bigger meaning. This Independence Day, I can celebrate my success in being able to wrangle those thoughts in my head, put them to paper, seek out a publisher, have them accept me, and see my dream available to others and have it received well. So, as you can see by that lengthy sentence, that this day means so much more to me this year. This is MY Independence Day because I made a dream come true. No one else but me. And that sounds like a reason to celebrate.

Happy Independence Day!

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