Writer’s Police Academy Part 2: K9 Units by Sarah Madison

I confess, when I saw the K9 handler pull up on that first afternoon at WPA, during the open Q&A session with various law enforcement and emergency personnel, I was immediately drawn to watch. Having owned many high-drive German Shepherds myself, I couldn’t help but admire the power and beauty of these dogs, as well as the appreciate some of the similarities between these working dogs and my own.

But it was impressed upon us just how different these dogs are from any family pet.

I’ll try to make sense from my hastily scribbled notes.

The K9 units are subdivided by specialty training: SWAT, patrol, drug work. A typical shift is 10 hours/ day (though the officers are paid for eleven hours, to include grooming and care of the dogs), four days on, four days off.

Unlike the other units, the drug units frequently rely on sporting dogs for drug work—Labradors, Pointers, etc. It makes sense, as many of these breeds have been selected for their sense of smell as well as a willingness to retrieve. Handlers are only allowed to stay with the drug unit for 5 years before moving into another division—presumably to help prevent burnout.

Most of the ‘police’ dogs are imported from Germany. Handlers undergo six weeks of intensive training, but it can take up to a year before the handler/dog team is call ready. Handlers are expected to train daily. The length of time spent training depends on both handler ability and the capability of the dog.

The cost of a single dog plus training runs between $12-13 thousand dollars—it’s a major investment for a police department. The K9 handler spent a good deal of time discussing protecting that investment, as there had recently been a local case of a dog dying in a police car due to overheating. The cars have fixed grills in them that allow the windows to be rolled down without the dog being able to leave the car. Newer police K9 units have heat sensors that will roll down the windows automatically if the car becomes too hot. Lights and sirens also go off, and a text is sent to the dispatch, the handler, and the captain. As a system of fail-safes, it should be foolproof, and yet many departments have older vehicles well-past retirement age due to budget cuts. All three management systems failed in the case of the heat-related dog death.

There are protection vests for the police dogs, but they are seldom used because they weight between 40-50 pounds, greatly hampering the dog’s ability to do its job. No officer will send their dog in on a ‘suicide mission’, but they will put the dog in danger to protect a fellow officer. Ultimately, the police dog is a tool, much as a service weapon. The speaker stated that the dogs weren’t considered part of the ‘use of force’ continuum, but unfortunately, didn’t explain that statement further.

The average working lifespan of a police dog is eight years, after which they are retired with the handler or euthanized. These dogs are NOT socialized. Walking on a leash in the neighborhood is not an option. The handler who spoke with us estimated his kennel arrangement at the house cost about three thousand dollars to make a safe, dog-proof environment. While euthanasia, if the handler is not prepared to retire the dog at his home, may sound cruel after a lifetime of service, it is preferable to the practice of auctioning off retiring dogs to the highest bidder, which some cash-strapped communities have done in the past. The liability of doing such a thing has probably ended this practice for the most part.

The handler and dog are a team—the dog is rarely out of the handler’s sight, and is the handler’s backup in any given situation. Handlers have a remote control which can open the rear door of the police car and release the dog. The handler can direct a search, direct an attack, but in an open brawl, the dog cannot distinguish friend from foe and will attack the most animated person. This is because the dogs are selected for having a strong prey drive, which means they go after anything that moves. I have personal experience with that, as my last shepherd had a strong prey drive. The very first time he laid eyes on a black bear, he chased it up the side of a mountain!

Dogs are usually trained to ‘bark and hold’, which means they will go up to a suspect and bark but not engage unless the suspect moves. If a dog is already lit up with excitement, however, training may break and the dog might engage regardless.

Dogs are frequently used as a locating tool. The handler referred to ‘walkaways’, which are people who are either suicidal, have dementia, or walked out of an assisted living situation. Dogs are used to locate people in buildings or parks, finding them much more efficiently than a human searcher could do.

Dogs are also frequently utilized at traffic stops because an officer can only hold a driver for so long without probable cause, but if a dog alerts on a car, they have probable cause.

The thing that the handler reiterated the most was that, though he would bawl his eyes out if anything happened to his dog, he was prepared to sacrifice his dog’s life to save a human being. The bond between handler and dog is great, but ultimately, the dog is there to be used.

Tune in next time, when I’ll treat you to the highlights of body armor and how it stops certain kinds of ammunition.

In the meantime, check out the reason I wanted to go to WPA in the first place, the FBI guys from the Sixth Sense series!

I’m also giving away a free short story for signing up for my newsletter.

Also, be sure to check out our Rafflecopter Giveaway for a Kindle Fire loaded with books from our gang here at Authors Speak!

Grace Duncan: Romance, Erotica and Everything in Between

Over the years since I started writing romance, I have found myself in the distinctly uncomfortable situation of answering the “what do you write?” question inevitably asked in response to the “I’m an author” line.

A huge chunk of my discomfort comes from the fact that the two protagonists in my stories are the same gender (so far, all male). The LGBT community—including (especially) the arts portion of it—still has a long way to go as far as acceptance is concerned.

But today, what I want to talk about is the other part of my response: the romance part.

I recently submitted a request for a vendor table at a local anime convention for myself and a couple of other authors. Now, I am lucky to a point because as a volunteer manager for the con, I have some options general vendors don’t. When I did not get the response I wanted (instead, they gave me something vague about variety of merchandise), I requested more information. When I didn’t get a response to my request for clarification, unlike general vendors, I could go higher. Which I did.

The answer I finally got back shocked and angered me. Okay, “anger” is probably a bit mild. Furious? Livid? That’s closer.

The shock ended up a good thing because it kept me from replying immediately with some not-so-polite phrasing, including where they could put their IT department (the department I manage). Their response was fairly short, explaining that since they checked into it “finding only erotica,” it didn’t fit their “family friendly event.”

I don’t know how they came to the conclusion that the books in question are “only erotica.” Not knowing how that came about, I can only speculate one of two things. One, the books are all about gay men and, thus, automatically considered erotica because of that. Or two, they are romance and simply by virtue of the fact that some romance contains sex scenes, it is thus considered “erotica.” I have seen both of these from the non-romance (and non-LGBT) reading groups. As I was not sure if it was the LGBT aspect—since I wasn’t sure how I could reasonably focus on that—I focused instead on discussing the difference between romance and erotica.

I’d read tons on this in different places, but I thought the best pace to start was my own primary publisher. Since I knew Dreamspinner Press does not publish pure erotica, I went straight to their website. From their submission guidelines:

“Dreamspinner Press seeks gay male romance stories in all genres. While works do not need to be graphic, they must contain a primary or strong secondary romance plotline and focus on the interaction between two or more male characters.” (https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/submissions)

Now, I am well aware there are plenty of LGBT and romance publishers that do publish erotica, so I thought I’d dig a bit further. One of the unfortunate problems with trying to define this is that there seem to be no set publishing industry definitions of “romance” and “erotica.” The best I could find was some background on the differences, per a couple of other romance authors and other industry members.

Sylvia Day said, “Erotica: stories written about the sexual journey of the characters and how this impacts them as individuals. Emotion and character growth are important facets of a true erotic story. However, erotica is NOT designed to show the development of a romantic relationship…”

Versus romance:

“Sexy Romance: stories written about the development of a romantic relationship that just happen to have more explicit sex. The sex is not an inherent part of the story, character growth, or relationship development, and could easily be removed or “toned down” without damaging the storyline.” (http://www.sylviaday.com/extras/erotic-romance/)

I further found an article on RT Book reviews (and referencing Publisher’s Weekly) that distilled it even more and said erotica is: “when sex is the basis of the conflict.” (https://www.rtbookreviews.com/rt-daily-blog/what-exactly-difference-between-steamy-romance-and-erotica)

(Please note: I firmly believe that any sex included in a book should be there because it does something for the story, either character development or plot movement. That said, in romance, the story still should not fall apart completely if you don’t show the couple’s whole sexual progression. There are levels, including erotic romance—like my Golden Collar series—where this doesn’t apply in the same way, but it still passes the litmus test I found.)

What I came to, in the end, was that the single distinctive difference was a simple question:

“What drives the story?”

In my research, I found in a number of places where erotica isn’t expected to have an HEA. The Romance Writers of America says for a story to be considered a romance, it should have “a central love story and an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending.” They go on to define that optimistic end as having “emotional justice and unconditional love.” (https://www.rwa.org/Romance)

Beyond the happy ending—or lack thereof—many types of erotica may not even include a primary relationship, and instead is more about one person’s sexual journey. One prime example of this is the Beauty series by Anne Rice (under the pseudonym A.N. Roquelaure). While there is a happy ending at the end of the series, the story is about Beauty—and her sexual journey—not a specific relationship she is in.

I have been a firm believer that there is a wide variety of heat in romance novels. Everyone has their taste. Some want to read the sex, others want to skim. I’ve been in the mood for lighter stories (with less sex) and some that are essentially one sex scene after another. Both have their place. I don’t believe a romance requires sex, but what I found in my research also says that having it certainly doesn’t automatically make it erotica, either.

In the end, it still comes down to what drives the story. Is it the sex? Or is it the relationship?

If it’s the latter, then it’s romance.

Giving Back

 

Many years ago, when my children were little and my youngest son was in the fourth grade or so his class did a project for Thanksgiving about what they were grateful for. One of the things on his list was that we always had a phone and our utilities were never shut off.

That was a real WOW moment for me.

There was a time that broke was a step up in the world. However, there was never a time we didn’t have a home, or heat or food. Sometimes the home was a tiny apartment that we squeezed into and the food was hot dogs and peanut butter and jelly.

Things are a bit different now. My kids are a dog and cat. More months than not I rob Peter to pay Paul and something is always paid late. But, it all gets paid.

I still have a home–one I own now. I have a car, something I couldn’t always afford. The neighborhood I live in is much better, and I can buy groceries.

These changes are a result, in part, of the fact I now publish books. People pay for those books, which has added to my income. I’m extremely grateful for that extra income and it makes a huge difference in my life.

Along the way from published to royalty check there are a number of people who help authors out free of charge. They give their time and energy to creating blogs where books can be showcased, increasing exposure. They offer reviews, post interviews and run contests.

These blog owners and their reviewers help my career as an author a lot. So, when one of them asks for help raising money for a worthwhile charity there is no way I’d refuse.

See, there are an awful lot of people who, through no fault of their own, don’t have a home, or enough to eat. They might face bullying because they’re part of the LGBTQ+ population. Maybe there are health issues they face and don’t know where to go for treatment.

The point is for many young people times are bleak and they may feel suicide is their only option.

Which it’s not.

I have always liked to give back, be it with my time, my money or something else. I don’t have a lot to offer in the way of financial support, but I do have books to contribute.

When one of the blog owners I work with regularly put out a call for a fundraising project I jumped at the chance.

Kim from Kimmer’s Erotic Book Blog came up with the idea to sell bundles of books at a discount and donate the proceeds to the Trevor Project, which supports LGBTQ+ youth in the United States.

I’m willing to bet everyone reading this post buys books. Here’s a great way to help someone less fortunate, get your book fix, and maybe try a new author. (ppsssttt…my book is the first one in the picture, Gone Away.)

It’s important to give back, even when you don’t feel very fortunate yourself. There is always someone worse off.

Oodles and goodles of book bundles be HERE!

Until next month,

Happy Reading!

Elizabeth

 

 

Tools of the Trade: What I Learned at Writer’s Police Academy Part 1 by Sarah Madison

Something I’m often asked is how much research I do for my stories.

It’s a good question. I adore research. I’ve been known to dive into the rabbit hole and not come up for air for months. I spent weeks researching The Battle Of Britain to write a simple dream sequence for The Boys of Summer, and what I learned made me determined to share some of the essence of what those young pilots experienced in defence of their country–far beyond the intended scene.

I used my own experiences as an event rider when writing Fool’s Gold, a story set in Olympic level sport horse competition. I once wrote a story about a main character who suffers a spinal cord injury, and immersed myself in both medical texts and the writings of survivors of such injuries.

When I decided to write a series of stories with FBI agents as characters, I knew I needed more than my love of shows such as Bones, NCIS, or The X-Files to give me a feel for how crimes are investigated (even if there is a paranormal element). Among other books, I read A Very Special Agent: Gay and Inside the FBI by Frank Buttino. I also read books on forensics, profiling, and true crime accounts of hunting serial killers. My wish list on Amazon has everything from bloodspatter analysis to books on training cadaver dogs.

So you can bet when I first heard fellow author Eden Winters speaking of her experiences at Writer’s Police Academy, I was all ears. Then I found out Jamie Lynn Miller had been going for years and had fantastic things to say about it. So when Shira Anthony asked if I’d like to share a room with her, I jumped at the chance.

I had a terrific time and I learned a lot. I would definitely go again, given the chance. Because the first thing you need to know about Writer’s Police Academy is that you simply can’t fit it all in on one trip. There are too many courses, there’s too much information and too little time. It was a jam-packed weekend, but that’s a good thing. Think of it like a continuing education seminar in which four different courses are offered at the same time and you have to choose which to attend. It means you have to come back!

The second takeaway lesson I got from WPA is that there’s a reason you’re drawn to certain things. Given I have more of a medical background than the average person, I decided to avoid much of the crime scene courses and concentrate instead in areas where I had little experience, such as ballistics or arson. But shortly into the first day, I realized that I had a natural affinity for some things, and that by avoiding them, I was actually turning my back on the kinds of things I was not only interested in, but most likely to include in a story. I rapidly reassessed my schedule and changed it accordingly. I also changed it when I heard a particular class was good or fun. The great thing about WPA is most courses were offered more than once, with a couple of exceptions. That meant you could pick up something the next day that conflicted with a different lecture before.

So while I took copious notes at the speed of light (just like being in school again), what I really got out of the lectures was a better sense of what I wanted to know more about (and where to find out more about these subjects) and potential contacts for questions among the speakers, many of whom were happy to give out their emails to answer any questions that might arise about procedure, etc.

WPA is held in Greenbay, WI. The venue was pretty amazing. The hotel was a stone’s throw from the airport, and the amenities pleasant. WPA works in conjunction with Northeast Wisconsin Technical College to put on the Academy every year, drawing on the lecturers from the college and volunteers to put on a great program. They also get some pretty amazing authors as keynote speakers for the big dinner at the end of the weekend. Tami Hoag and Lee Goldberg were the 2016 speakers. Ms. Hoag in particular was delightful, but I regret to say I could barely keep my eyes open by the time Saturday night rolled around. The buses rolled out at 7 am, which meant you had to have grabbed breakfast and be ready to roll. Classes were scheduled tightly, and sometimes the logistics of choosing to attend two different lectures on opposites sides of campus left you running in August heat for a bus to take you to the next class–or just running, period.

Snacks, sunscreen, sunglasses, bottled water, and a jacket for when you’re in air conditioning were all essential, as were sensible shoes. And don’t forget your camera! For those who arrived early on Thursday afternoon, there was a prison tour, as well as a special ops demonstration of equipment and police dogs in the parking lot coinciding with registration. I confess, I found the heat debilitating after my long flight, so I probably didn’t take full advantage of the demonstrations.

Our first day started out with a bang–as we rolled into the campus parking lot, we were greeted with a major accident. Two cars were involved. There was at least one obvious fatality and several serious injuries. Some people were still trapped in one of the vehicles, and the driver of the van appeared to be under the influence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we watched, police and rescue vehicles came roaring in and took over the scene.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We got to see the ‘jaws of life’ in action, as well as watch as the police put the impaired driver through sobriety tests and then arrest her when she failed. The procedures were narrated throughout so we could hear as well as see what was going on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then to our amazement, a helicopter arrived to airlift out the victims!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And that was all in the first hour! You can see why it will take me several posts to go through my experiences at WPA. I want to give as much detail as I can, as it will help solidify the information learned for me as well.

In the meantime, the newly expanded version of Unspeakable Words (Sixth Sense Series Book One) was released on March 1o, 2017! You can check out the series and see while I thought Writer’s Police Academy was such a great idea.

Ch-ch-chaaanges!

Well, hello there again and thank you for stopping by my little corner of Authors Speak at Rainbow Gate!

Writing professionally requires certain things and not all of them pertain to the technicalities of putting words together to form a story. Sometimes writers have to make choices about what to write. There is the hard reality that we have to make a living as well as writing what we love.

There is absolutely no reason one can’t do both.

That choices can be difficult if one isn’t willing to expand horizons and change a bit. However, there are a lot of choices and with a bit of thought it’s easy to discover there are other stories that need writing.

I’ve always said I’m a serial offender. I write in series. Series have much to offer in the way of extended plots and character development. It’s my writing as well as reading preference.

However stand alone books have a great deal to offer as well. Some stories don’t need four or six books to complete. There are readers who’d prefer a story be told with the covers of one book.

I decided it’s time to switch gears and write more stand alone stories. Some discussion with Lynn West, Dreamspinner Press editor in chief, helped me decide on a good direction to pursue.

Romantic suspense will still be part of my line-up, though I think the Circles series has come to an end. The next mystery will be a full length novel with more development and probably a more complicated plot. However, my mysteries will be in the same high action/adventure (sometimes in the wilderness) style as the Circles mysteries. I’ll still be working on The Vampire Guard, however it’ll be my ‘written for me’ side pet project stories. Sentries has been completed, though I may offer free stories on my website from time to time.

This isn’t the first time in my life I’ve taken a new path. I’ve always tried to live by the adage “I’m nothing if not adaptable”. Honestly, every change of direction for me has always been a good one. I’m excited over this change.

Coming soon, awaiting contract decision and in the works are two Dreamspun Desires books, a BDSM featuring an ice dancer and a hockey player. Of course there is a murder mystery planned, it will take place in Wrigleyville. There may also be a scifi romance in the future.

I hope you’ll join me in my new writing adventure!

I’m always excited and happy to take requests from readers, so if anyone has a plot bunny bouncing around you’d like to share please let me know!

Elizabeth

PS…you can find all my books on my website, click on the banner below.

There is also a great new repository site for finding Quiltbag/LGBTQ+ books. Check out Queeromance Inc.

Relaunching a Series by Sarah Madison: Why do it?

Sorry, I’m a bit late getting here today. I’ve been working a number of things, not the least of which is trying to put some blog posts in the bag so I can get ahead of my commitments for a change. Among other things, I’m putting together a series of posts about my experiences at Writer’s Police Academy last summer, which I plan to share here. As soon as I can decipher my notes, that is!

In the meantime, I’m delighted to share with you the brand new look for the Sixth Sense series!

You might be asking yourself why anyone would relaunch an old series wit a new look? I’m glad you did! On the surface of it, it probably doesn’t seem to make much sense. A little backstory is necessary.

Unspeakable Words was the very first major story I submitted for publication back in 2010. I did it on a whim, really. I had no expectations of it being accepted by Dreamspinner Press or winding up on their bestseller list for over a month! I’ll be honest, when I got the acceptance email I was flabbergasted–and came very close to snatching the story back from them. I was afraid if I did, however, I would blow my one chance to be a published author. I’ve always wished I’d trusted my instincts and held out for the opportunity to flesh the story out the way I saw it in my mind.

There was an unfortunate delay between Unspeakable Words and the next installment, Walk a Mile. Some of it was inexperience on my part,  some of it was as a result of life getting in the way. When I submitted Walk a Mile, I don’t think anyone realized that I’d jumped from a long novella into novel format. I didn’t think anything of it myself–not until I began running into people who didn’t want to buy the paperbacks because the first in the series was only available as an ebook. Truth and Consequences rolled on in the same novel format–it was only Unspeakable Words that didn’t fit the lineup.

So I went to Dreamspinner and asked if it would be possible to expand Unspeakable Words into the story I’d always meant for it to be. They said yes–and then suggested revamping the series look for the revised version. I’m delighted to announce that not only has L.C. Chase done a bang-up job of capturing the essence of these stories–which I was far more capable of conveying due to developing the skills I needed as an author–but you can now pre-order the expanded, revised version of Unspeakable Words! Release date March 10, 2017.

I hope you’ll enjoy revisiting these guys as much as I have–I’m working on the fourth (and final) installment now, tentatively titled Deal with the Devil.

Defending Your Copyright: What You Need to Know

Recently, I found out the hard way what you can expect in a battle to defend your copyright.

First, let me put a disclaimer here: this information, to the best of my knowledge, only applies in the US. You should check into the regulations within your own country.

summer_fling-200x300I’ve posted extensively on my website about the conflict I got into with Amazon over my right to publish A Summer Fling, but I’ll share the highlights with you here: a short time ago, I updated some information in my bio on a long-standing free short story on Amazon.

The next day, I received an email from KDP saying that prior to my submission they’d received a complaint and takedown notice from a third party and they declined to re-publish the story. A story that had been available for the last three years. I was given four days to prove I was the author of the story in question or face a lifetime ban from publishing on Amazon.

I was aghast. My initial thought was I’d done something wrong with the file changes. I contacted friends, who assured me this wasn’t all that unusual, and that Amazon was getting tougher about establishing copyright due to copyright claim jumping as well as people stealing the pen names of established authors to publish their own stories. Self-published authors may be at greater risk.

This is a good time to state here that in the US, copyright is conferred at the time the work is created, and it is not necessary to register it with the copyright office to claim copyright or even defend that copyright in court. Is *is* necessary, however, if you intend to sue for damages due to copyright infringement. I have since learned that having your works registered will go a long way toward defending your copyright in many cases without going to court–something most of us would probably prefer. I also believe in this age where theft of digital products is on the rise (funny how everyone wants access to the end product but few want to pay the actual creator of these works…), it behooves us as authors to think proactively about our stories.

From the US copyright office:

1. Copyright, a form of intellectual property law, protects original works of authorship.
2. Your work is under copyright protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.
3. Registration is recommended for a number of reasons. Many choose to register their works because they wish to have the facts of their copyright on the public record and have a certificate of registration. Registered works may be eligible for statutory damages and attorney’s fees in successful litigation. Finally, if registration occurs within 5 years of publication, it is considered prima facie evidence in a court of law.
4. The United States has copyright relations with most countries throughout the world, and as a result of these agreements, we honor each other’s citizens’ copyrights. However, the United States does not have such copyright relationships with every country. For a listing of countries and the nature of their copyright relations with the United States, see Circular 38a, International Copyright Relations of the United States.

Here is the link for the US copyright office.

That said, I was able to provide Amazon with ample proof that I was the copyright holder of the story. I sent in the original draft (written in 2011), as well as links to where it appeared as a free story online during a fest, and then the 2013 Smashwords creation. I also, for good measure, retroactively registered the copyright and provided Amazon with that case number. Satisfied there was no way anyone could contest I was the author of A Summer Fling, I sent the email and dismissed it from my mind.

Only the next communication changed everything. Amazon no longer disputed that I had written the story. The problem was some third party claimed I didn’t have a right to publish the story. WTH?

This was no longer a case of random copyright theft. The number of potential claimants in this case was quite small. Two as a matter of fact. The first party contacted Amazon on my behalf and received a generic email response that told her nothing.

A fourth refusal from Amazon to re-establish the story included a generous invitation to continue publishing with them in the future–and a suggestion to hire a copyright lawyer. In the meantime, I’d been on the phone with Author Central and KDP, and I’d forwarded Jeff Bezos all my communications with KDP–including a statement from a now-defunct ebook retailer (who happened to have closed doors 24 hours before this problem arose) showing they had no publishing rights to my story. Because now I’m suspicious. Highly suspicious.

And then suddenly, I receive an email from Amazon stating ‘on further review’ they’ve decided to reverse their position and put the story back up again. No explanation. I have no idea if it was my loud persistence, the intervention of one of the two possible claimants, or my contacting Jeff Bezos about the matter that resolved it.

I doubt that copyright registration would have made a difference in this case because this was about publishing rights, not copyrights. But I will definitely be registering my previous and future stories with the copyright office as an extra layer of protection.

I will also download copies of *every* agreement signed to allow distribution of my stories. I was fortunate to still have access to a copy of the ARe agreement, even though I don’t know if they were the source of the conflict.

The takehome message here is to be proactive in defending your works. I was facing hiring a copyright lawyer to determine if a free story was being blocked by accident or a malicious attempt to lay claim to all my self-published stories. You can see why I had to seriously consider hiring that lawyer.

 

Bio:

Sarah Madison is a writer with a little dog, a large dog, an even bigger horse, too many cats, and a very patient boyfriend. When she’s in the middle of a chapter, she relies on the smoke detector to tell her dinner is ready. She writes because it’s cheaper than therapy.

Sarah Madison was a finalist in the 2013, 2015, and 2016 Rainbow Awards. The Boys of Summer won Best M/M Romance in the 2013 PRG Reviewer’s Choice Awards. The Sixth Sense series was voted 2nd place in the 2014 PRG Reviewer’s Choice Awards for Best M/M Mystery series, and 3rd place in the 2105 PGR Reviewer’s Choice Awards for Best M/M Paranormal/Urban Fantasy series.

If you want to make her day, e-mail her and tell you how much you like her stories.

Website: http://www.sarahmadisonfiction.com

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E-mail: akasarahmadison@gmail.com

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Tempeste O’Riley’s Monthly Author Column: Disability Author or Writer of Life?

Hello everyone! Thanks so much for stopping by again. I know I’ve been MIA for a bit *blushes* but health has been kicking me around a bit. But, I’m back and will do my best to be here every month for you. Today I’m here to talk a little about something I keep being asked and thought I’d write up as a post instead of relying on all the little replies making the rounds, lol. “Are you a disability author?”

Now, that’s an interesting question that I both smile and frown at. Yes, you can do both, lol. The answer is no, I’m not. Yes, I have a habit of writing characters that have challenges, be they abuse, family, mobility, health, hearing, or other…. But, I do not consider myself a “disability author.” I’m not specifically writing “disabled” characters as a “thing.” I know some authors have a niche, but mine is homoerotic love, in all it’s forms, though I’ve only written with boy bits so far (under this name). I do have a few differently-abled (love that term, thank you Josh for insisting I see myself that way instead of a disabled or broken as I had been told I was by others now in my past!) characters, but the point of the story isn’t their mobility or hearing or … issue, it’s the friendship and life and eventual love they find that their “disability” has nothing to do with.

We all want to see ourselves in the stories we read, the poor, the sick, the rich, the lonely, the successful, the ___…. I write for everyone. Therefore, I put a little of everyone into my stories. One day, you might even find you in one Winking smile

Right now I’m working on two books—the MCs keep trading off who’s louder, ugh! –and in one, one of the MCs has an anxiety disorder and is a sub and in the other, the soon to be sub has been met before, in Dreamers’ Destiny. Nate was referred to as having twisted legs by one of the other characters, though it didn’t bother the guy. It was just a descriptor like saying he had blue eyes or something. What he actually has is severe Internal Tibial Torsion (rotated shin bone) and Femoral Anteversion (twisted thigh bone).

Should we consider either one disabled?

Now, for a fun question or two… Do you have any questions/topics you’d love to see me write about? If so, please email me at tempeste@tempesteoriley.com and let me know! Also, what should I call my monthly column? It needs a name…. But as most know, I’m shite with naming things. Ask anyone in the know how Whiskers of a Chance got it’s name, lol…. For all suggestions, ideas, or just to drop me a note, please email me at tempeste@tempesteoriley.com.

For a chance to win any eBook from by backlist, tell me your favorite story with an MC that had a disability of some form (physical, mental, etc.) in the comment section below. (Don’t forget to leave your email so I can notify you if you win.)

And remember, having a little glitch makes us unique, not broken. Be proud of being you and hold out for that person that sees all of you, instead of just the issue. It’s worth it—even more so in real life than in the stories we write.

Turn The Page…. (Suicide Awareness & Prevention Anthology)
by Tempeste O’Riley, Dianne Hartsock, Nikki Prince, Grace R. Duncan, Sue Brown, Aine P Massie, Carole Cummings, Hope Ryan, Mark Zubro, Antonia Aquilante, D. Zander Crane

M/M F/F Transgender Genderfluid 
Contemporary Urban Fantasy Paranormal BDSM Romance
(Each story is unique and special, so the genre varies wildly. All are LGBTQ)

Publisher: Abbey of the Brew City Sisters
Cover Artist: Jess Small
Release Date: October 7, 2016 (ebook/print)
Length: Novel / 270 pages

Turn The Page…. began as a simple idea and grew from there. No matter how bad things seem to be, just turn the page, there’s more—better—things to come. This is only one chapter in your life. It’s not the whole story. With this simple idea, Novice Sister Eroti-Quill—whom most know better as Tempeste O’Riley—began their quest to help Suicide Prevention and Awareness programs in their area. They managed to con (excuse me, convince) other authors to donate their time and stories to the project, and now, many months later, Turn The Page is born!

The authors in this anthology donated their talent as a way to support Eroti-Quill’s hope for others, to help bring strength to programs that so desperately need funding. It will allow them show those that need support but may not have it, or that may be afraid to reach out, just how much love and understanding surrounds them. Turn The Page…. is a diverse range of stories about the journey of love, hope, and acceptance.

Amazon  Create Space   B & N  Smashwords Kobo 

Homo-Erotic Romance Author, Tempeste O’Riley is an out and proud pansexual genderfluid whose best friend growing up had the courage to do what they couldn’t – defy the hate and come out. He has been their hero ever since. Tempe is a hopeless romantic who loves strong relationships and happily-ever-afters. They count their friends, family, and Muse as their greatest blessings in life.

Tempe is also a PAN member of Romance Writers of America®, Rainbow Romance Writers, and WisRWA.

Website: http://tempesteoriley.com/

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year by Sarah Madison

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I frequently have recurring themes in my stories. One of the most common is the notion that life is more than mere survival. That’s one I need to remind myself of often. By that, I mean life is more than going to work, paying the bills, mowing the lawn, etc. It’s more than going through the motions of living so that at the end of your life you can rest. If that’s your sole motivation in this world, your life is going to be mighty bleak indeed.

Another common theme in my stories is the idea that you can build your own family. Maybe it’s with friends or teammates. Maybe it’s with your children, or pets, or the people in your community, but family doesn’t necessarily have to be people who are related to you. That’s another major lesson I’ve learned in life.

I think one of the reasons I love holiday stories and movies is because my flesh-and-blood family doesn’t really celebrate the holidays. There are many reasons why people don’t. They can be estranged from their relatives, either physically or emotionally. They can have bad memories associated with such events and avoid them like the plague. They can be struggling with depression and unable to participate in anyone else’s joy. In the case of my family, we’re scattered all over the country, constrained by jobs and tight finances to rely on an annual phone call on holidays to stay in touch for the most part. This very pragmatic approach to a time of year when most people look forward to celebrations makes me crave the magic and romance of holiday stories. I love the ridiculous set-ups, the cute-meets, the unabashed sentimentality of the songs, movies and stories.

christmas-1524357-1279x1705This year, I compiled a list of mostly M/M romance holiday stories past and present. Some are free, some are only available for pre-order just yet, but if you love holiday stories, this list is for you! And if you’re an author who’s written a holiday story, please feel free to leave a link in the comments!

I’m also participating in Divine Promotions 2016 Christmas Blog Hop! The hop runs until 12/17, so there’s still time to check out the blog posts and enter the Rafflecopter Giveway for the terrific prizes! Many participants are holding their own giveaways as well, so be sure to do the hop! You’ll find links to the other blogs, holiday memories, recipes and more at my website link above.

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Given how much I love holiday stories, it’s no surprise I’ve written one of my own, now is it? Holiday House Swap is available from Dreamspinner Press on Dec 21, 2016, but you can pre-order it now from these outlets:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2gT2a1o

Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/2gOUf6c

Amazon AU: http://amzn.to/2gOVv9w

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2gGsV9P

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2gfbQDo

Dreamspinner Press: http://bit.ly/2gIcJ8B

All Romance: http://bit.ly/2fS1JDy

Blurb:

Reclusive writer Noah Kinley is facing a dilemma: how to confess to the world he’s really the author of a best-selling romance series. For years, his friend Julie has been the face of his brand, but she wants her life back now. Fast running out of ideas for his popular series, Noah wants to break out into other genres. Not that he’s writing much of anything at the moment anyway, thanks to paralyzing writer’s block. With his publisher breathing down his neck for the next installment, he hopes a change of scene will get his writer’s juices flowing again. Desperate enough to try anything, during the holidays Noah swaps his isolated cabin in the woods for a gentrified horse farm.

USAF Major Connor Harrison has chosen forced retirement over facing charges for an unauthorized mission to rescue a buddy from behind enemy lines. No one expects him home for the holidays, and he certainly didn’t anticipate finding a stranger in his house, much less Noah Kinley with his acid tongue and a wry sense of humor that pierces all of Connor’s defenses.

Both men need to figure out what the next chapter in their lives will be—and whether it will include each other.
Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht

Excerpt:

To his delight, a wall switch within arm’s length turned out to be for a sound system. He fiddled with the dial until he found a radio station playing Christmas music. He sank down into the bubbling water until just his toes and head were sticking out. Bing Crosby sang a rousing rendition of “Mele Kalikimaka.” Obviously another indication the station was getting desperate for different Christmas songs already. Then the playlist segued into one of many versions of “Santa Baby,” all of which Noah hated. Still, the sheer bliss of soaking in a steaming tub without having to cross a snow-covered porch to get there had him humming along when “The Twelve Days of Christmas” came on.

Noah had just belted out “five go-old rings” when he opened his eyes to see the bathroom door slowly swinging toward him. His jaw dropped in horror when he saw a soldier dressed in desert camo standing in the entranceway. The man had a 9mm in his hand and had used the barrel to open the door.

Noah couldn’t help it. He shrieked and flung the Kindle aside, ducking down into the Jacuzzi. It didn’t take him long to realize this wasn’t a workable escape plan, and he burst up out of the water, gasping for air. Blinking soapy water out of his eyes, he grasped the wine bottle by the neck and swung it overhead with the intent of throwing it.

To his surprise, while he’d been underwater, the solider had holstered his gun. The man had also taken off his cap to reveal a shock of short brown hair practically sticking up on end. He was leaning against the sink with his arms folded across his chest. The overhead light made his eyes gleam like a cat’s, almost amber in color. His two-day stubble made him look like an extra from Miami Vice. Although he no longer acted as though he planned to shoot Noah, he gave off a dangerous vibe just the same.

“Calm down.” He was unimpressed by Noah’s defensive posture. “I’m guessing you’re not a burglar after all. Unless you’re the kind of thief who enjoys breaking into other people’s houses to take bubble baths.”

“I’m not a thief!” Fear sharpened into anger. “Your first clue should have been the Ford Fiesta sitting in the driveway. A real thief would drive something more impressive, like a black Hummer or something. The second tip-off should have been the fact there’s no evidence of a break-in, and the third should’ve been, I don’t know, perhaps my luggage sitting in the guest room?” Rage made his blood pressure go up like a rocket. “Whereas you came busting in here with a gun in your hand, so tell me, Lieutenant Soldier Man, why the hell I shouldn’t call the police right now?”

Noah noted his hand holding the wine was trembling, and he hastily set the bottle down. Awareness of his naked state, damp and only thinly covered by soap, made him ooze back down into the bubbles. He swept some toward him to cover strategic areas, all while glaring at the soldier.

“Well, I don’t know,” the military man drawled in a lazy manner that sent a little chill down Noah’s spine, even though he was hunkered down in the steaming water. “Maybe because I’m between you and the phone. Maybe because I still have a gun and you don’t. Or maybe—” The man pushed himself off the sink and took a step closer to the tub, pressing his fists into his hips as he leaned over to speak with emphasis. “Maybe because I live here.”

Noah gasped. “You do not!”

Holiday stories–with their potential for hope, joy, and a little bit of magic–are what makes this the most wonderful time of year for me. How about you?

Bio:

Sarah Madison is a writer with a little dog, a large dog, an even bigger horse, too many cats, and a very patient boyfriend. An amateur photographer and a former competitor in the horse sport known as eventing, when she’s not out hiking with the dogs or down at the stables, she’s at the laptop working on her next story. When she’s in the middle of a chapter, she relies on the smoke detector to tell her dinner is ready. She writes because it’s cheaper than therapy.

Sarah Madison was a finalist in the 2013, 2015, and 2016 Rainbow Awards. The Boys of Summer won Best M/M Romance in the 2013 PRG Reviewer’s Choice Awards. The Sixth Sense series was voted 2nd place in the 2014 PRG Reviewer’s Choice Awards for Best M/M Mystery series, and 3rd place in the 2105 PGR Reviewer’s Choice Awards for Best M/M Paranormal/Urban Fantasy series.

If you want to make her day, e-mail her and tell you how much you like her stories.

Website: http://www.sarahmadisonfiction.com

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Sarah-Madison/e/B004K9QY5C/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1471196589&sr=1-2-ent

Dreamspinner: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/searchresults?q=Sarah+Madison

E-mail: akasarahmadison@gmail.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sarah-Madison-Author/106445646104338

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SarahMadisonFic

 

Why I write (and read) fanfic

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Fan fiction, other wise known as fanfic has been around for a long time. The first official use of the term happened in 1939 and referred to amatuer science fiction as opposed to professionally written stories. The original Star Trek televison series was the source of this particular aspect of fandom.

For those of you who might not know, fanfic is just what it sounds like. It’s pieces of fiction written by fans. Today it’s spread beyond televison shows to movies, books, games, bands…just about anything really.

I wrote fanfic and I still read fanfic.

So, what’s the allure?

As often is the case, the short answer is: I like it.

The longer answer has been written about and the subject of a number of studies. Yeah, it’s that big of a thing.

As a reader fanfic offers a way to express love of your favorite characters, maybe put them in a situation not presented in the cononical version of the TV show, movie, book, whatever. There are communities dedicated to certain fandoms and the fanfic produced. People organize awards and large events to showcase stories and art. Fanart is just as big a thing as fanfic and often the two are paired together.

There are people who think this type of writing is second rate or beneath them.

I say not so.

First let’s look at the fact this promotes reading and writing. Any kid with a paper and pen can write a story or draw a picture. It’s easy when they already have an established world and characters they know to work with. It doesn’t have to be good. The point is those who that might not otherwise pick up a book, let alone try to write one, do just that. If one really becomes active and participate in certain events they learn to write on a deadline, edit and deal with critism.

All very valuable life tools.

Why did I write fanfic?

The short answer is: I could.

Becoming involved in a fandom and writing fanfic did a lot for me. First, and foremost it was fun. I rediscovered my love of writing and that writing came very easily because certain aspects of the story were already laid out. I made friends I still have today. I was given valuable experiences with editors when my work was published in fanzines. I eventually made the jump to writing original fiction professionally, but for many people it remains a creative outlet and hobby. In general it’s an excellent learning ground.

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Feed back from those who read my fanfic is in part what gave me the courage to take the next step and begin submitting manuscripts again. After trying for years and never quite making it I’d given up. It also opened up a whole new genre to me. M/M fiction. While working on various stories, some M/M, some not, I honed my writng skills in a safe, supportive place.

Since I know someone will ask, I wrote in the Supernatural fandom. If you’re curious here are links to two of my stories.

Slash: Crystal Bulls of Thera this story was written for something known as a Big Bang. Many authors and artists come together to create works of fanfic that are then posted on one site. The theme was taking Disney movies and re-tell that story. It’s M/M romance.

Not Slash: What You Feel this story was written as a fundraiser. A group of fans auctioned off fanfic writers who’d then create a story for whoever ‘bought’ them. The money went to charity.

Both of these events are pretty popular in the fanfic world.

Today I have sixteen published novels (and three more in various stages of development) and a couple of short stories in anthologies. I owe a debt of thanks to the world of fanfic and those who love it. Fanfic was an important stepping stone to realizing my dream of becoming a published author.

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We have a rafflecopter give away going on, the winner gets books! We’re writers, of course we give away books.

Rafflecopter Give Away

I have a special sale going on at Dreamspinner Press this weekend. Three of my books, Electric Candle, Run for the Roses and Gone Away, are 99c. You can purchase them HERE.

Little known fact, Jonas Forge from The Sleepless City and The Vampire Guard started out as a supporting character in a series of Supernatural fanfic stories. Back then he was Tim Forge, I think he liked the name change! I know I do.

I also have a newsletter that I put out three or four times a year. If you’d like to sign up you can do so HERE. And if you want super-secret uber updates I have a private Facebook group On the Patio with Elizabeth Noble. It’s low-key and fun and I occasionally give stuff away.

Until next month, happy reading!

Elizabeth

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