For Teaser Tuesday today, I thought I would share an excerpt from my current WIP tentatively called Wolves on the Glen. It’s a new adult m/m with werewolves set just south of Ottawa, ON (my hometown). Hope you enjoy!
The lane leading to the bonfire pit was surprisingly well maintained. I had worried that my poor Mazda would bottom out when we started driving down the narrow road, but the Beatties apparently used it often enough to invest in some grading. There were a few big dips that made me hold my breath as I eased my car through them, but nothing jarring enough to necessitate a trip back to Gray’s shop.
After a curve in the road, a field opened up before them—one already teeming with cars, people, and a massive bonfire just taking hold.
“I thought you said we were still early.” I glared at Gray. The last rays of the sun still colored the night sky and my new friend had assured me we’d have a chance to watch the crowd grow instead of being thrust into it head first. Anxiety started clawing at my chest and I focused on breathing, keeping it slow and even.
“Guess Dustin figured it was dark enough.” Gray squeezed my fingers. “I’m here with you, okay? Everything’ll be all right.”
Like hell. Look at all those people.
I couldn’t resist the confident command in Gray’s voice. As I pressed down on the brake, the car rolled to a gentle stop, and I looked over at him.
“It’ll be all right,” he repeated. There was a strength to his tone that made me believe it.
“You my therapist now?”
“No. Just your friend.”
I drove the car off the narrow road, into the field, away from the rest of the vehicles. Just in case. I was playing with metaphorical fire here—anxiety bubbled just beneath the surface of my skin, held back only by sheer force of will and Gray’s presence. Questions poked at my brain, demands of what the hell I’d been thinking, agreeing to this, but the dark, repetitive thoughts couldn’t withstand the memory of Gray’s quiet command.
I could do deep breaths. That’s all I needed to do, wasn’t it? Just breathe slowly. Evenly. That was my only job and Gray trusted me to do it.
Why that meant so much after only meeting the guy a few hours ago, I had no fucking idea.
I followed Gray out of the car, sticking close enough to my new friend’s side to feel heat radiating from him in the chill of the early summer night, but I didn’t give into the urge to touch Gray again. Something, some instinct, told me that wouldn’t be a good idea here. I held back no more than a step, and barely looked at the crowd awaiting us. If I didn’t acknowledge the group’s existence, I could pretend the anxiety was just paranoia.
Footsteps separated from the larger crowd, moving forward to stop in front of Gray. I chanced a look up and resisted the immediate urge to cower behind Gray’s back.
At first glance, the man who’d stepped forward didn’t have a threatening countenance. A smile stretched his lips, revealing straight white teeth, and his brown eyes held a hint of laughter. He was tall, maybe slightly taller than my full height, and had a much broader set of shoulders and a chest that was almost barrel-like. Short brown hair in purposely messy style teased his brow and his chin and cheeks had just the first hint of dark stubble.
He looked like a hundred other university students or recent graduates. And if I ever met him in a dark alley, I’d run screaming in the other direction.
I couldn’t pinpoint why. The guy looked nice enough—his smile was warm and genuine and he didn’t seem dangerous. Yet everything in my gut and chest was hollering at me to get away.
Get away now.
“Dustin.” Gray folded his arms and met the guy’s gaze without flinching, his stance firm. Confidence radiated from him, which encouraged me to look up again. I was safe. With Gray, I would always be safe.
How do you know that? How can you trust that?
“Gray.” Dustin’s lips twitched, as though the greeting amused him. An inside joke? If so, Gray didn’t share it. “This is the friend you mentioned?”
He’d mentioned me? When?
“Yeah. Mike Tanaka.”
“M-Michael.” The correction tripped from my lips automatically, hitching as Gray moved to the side. Suddenly there was nothing between me and Dustin and I felt like I’d been put at post before a firing squad.
Vulnerable. Completely, utterly vulnerable.
Even the logical reminder that Gray stood right beside me, not two paces away, could silence that thought. My anxiety spiked. Heart thundering, I concentrated on keeping myself still. The same thing that had warned me not to touch Gray said that if I turned tail and ran now, it would all be over.
Why? What would be over?
“Michael Tanaka.” Dustin chewed the name like he was tasting it. His eyes drooped as he inhaled deeply.
“You know him?” Gray’s voice was casual, but there was something in the air that was not.
I shifted from foot to foot. “I’ve never met—”
Dustin spoke over me like I hadn’t uttered a word. “No, I don’t.”
“How the hell can you not?” Gray demanded, his voice cracking like a whip.
Behind him, around the fire, more than one partygoer growled.
“I could ask the same of you.”
“You know I’ve never—”
“Ah, that’s right. You won’t stoop that low.” Dustin smiled. “Well, I’ll be happy to take him off your hands.”
In a heartbeat, Gray was back in front of me. I was about half a foot taller than Gray, but in that moment, it felt like I was behind a wall.
“No,” Gray growled.
Dustin’s smile dropped away. “No?”
“You want me to say it in French?”
I swallowed as Dustin held Gray’s gaze. The threatening vibe jacked upward. “You know, McConnell, I’ve put up with a lot of shit from you. I put up with you not falling into line. I’ve tolerated your need to be separate and alone. I haven’t run you out of my territory when I have every fucking right to.” The people gathered behind Dustin voiced their agreement with his words—though how they could hear Dustin’s low, growling tone over the distance that separated them and the rising roar of the bonfire, I had no idea. “All of this I’ve let you get away with. Because we were friends. But this…” Dustin shook his head. “No, Gray.”
This time, the growl that emerged from Gray’s throat had little relation to a human sound. Dustin’s eyes flashed—glowed gold—
What the fuck?
Before Dustin could do anything, Gray had a hand wrapped around his throat. A hand that had claws instead of blunt fingernails. Claws that bit into Dustin’s skin, eliciting beads of blood to trickle freely toward the collar of his t-shirt.
Hey hey hey, it’s another release day! Inversion Point, book 4 of the Chaos Station series, is now available.
Here’s the cover + blurb + purchasing details…
Zander and Felix’s relationship has been to the brink and back: the Human-Stin War, imprisonment and an actual death/resurrection. Zander’s death, to be specific, and the experience has left him…changed. The mysterious race known as the Guardians chose to revive him and appointed him as their emissary. A high honor, but he could do without the group of would-be cultists following him around the galaxy.
When a recently discovered species destroys a stin probe, Zander’s new role soon commands all of his time and focus. The human ambassador—Felix’s ex-lover, much to Zander’s annoyance—pulls them into strategy talks aimed at preserving galactic peace. Soon everyone is relying on Zander’s Guardian tech to telepathically communicate with the strange aliens.
Only Felix seems concerned with the strain piling up on Zander, but he has his own resolve tested when the very stin that imprisoned him show up to a summit. Zander and Felix will both have to find a way to face their doubts and preserve their love—while preventing another galaxy-wide war.
This was my favourite Chaos Station book to write. It was so much fun coming up with new aliens and finally giving the stin some time on-page. Of course, Zed and Felix’s romance is still very important to the plot, but things are a little more stable for them than they were in the first three books. Good thing, because Felix’s first boyfriend shows up, and Zed starts to wonder if “normal” Theo would be a better fit for Felix…
We’ve got a ton of blog tour stops happening this week, too! Enter the rafflecopter at the following blogs for a chance to win the first three books of the series PLUS a $25 gift card for the book retailer of your choice. Good luck!
1/26 Purple Rose Teahouse
1/27 Joyfully Jay
1/28 Smitten with Reading
1/29 Prism Book Alliance
1/29 The Novel Approach
INVERSION POINT (Chaos Station #4) will be available on January 25, in fact! This week, though, Kelly and I are working on copy edits for the last book in the series, PHASE SHIFT, which will be out in May. I thought I’d share a funny little snippet…
“Should scan yourself while you’re at it,” Zed suggested. “This heat, the funky water.”
Flick complied without a complaint. Like Zed, he was slightly dehydrated—and there was a minor muscle strain in his back. After checking the outside temperature again—forty-eight Celsius now—he made a noise of disgust and disengaged his bracelet. “You ever see that holo, the one with the prison planet that had virtually no atmosphere, so when the sun rose, it roasted the surface? If you weren’t in the shade, you were sausage.”
Zed turned to look at him. “No, I did not. Thanks for that thought. That’s exactly what I needed.”
“The story was pretty good.”
“What? I’m just saying…”
“If I dream about roasted people during my nap, Felix, I’m not going to be happy.”
“Oh, we’re napping?”
Zed leaned more heavily against Flick. “Yeah. We’re napping.”
“Better tuck your hands and feet in closer so the sun doesn’t get them.” Zed could hear the smile in Flick’s voice.
“You are such an asshole.”
INVERSION POINT releases in just three weeks,
but you can read the first chapter now!
“Inversion Point is arguably the strongest entry yet
in the Chaos Station series…”
“This is probably my favorite installment in the series.”
In other news:
M/M Romance group Members’ Choice Awards
Chaos Station, Lonely Shore and Skip Trace have been nominated in several categories, including Best SciFi, Best Main Character and Best Secondary Character. We’re thrilled to be recognised! In addition, Kelly’s Wrong Direction has been nominated for Best Humorous and Best DRitC Story. Voting is open until January 15th. If you’re a member of the group, we’d certainly appreciate your consideration!
Have you read REUNION?
It’s been four years since Zander and Felix graduated from Shepard Academy. Four years since they shared a single night together. Now they have five days of shore leave to see if their friendship is still as strong as it was…and to see if the promises they didn’t want to make back then might be possible now.
This year was an incredible year for me as a professional writer. For one…I became a professional writer with the release of my first book, Her Sexy Sentinel, in January 2015. That book represents the culmination of a lifelong dream to be a published author—but the thrill ride didn’t stop there. In March, the first book of the Chaos Station series came out, followed by the second (Lonely Shore) in May and the third (Skip Trace) in October. Inversion Point, book four, is out in January (almost to the day that Her Sexy Sentinel was released!) and the fifth and final Chaos Station book, Phase Shift, will be released in May.
Over the course of the year, in addition to writing, I had a chance to read some amazing books, too—over 300 of them, in fact. (Before you ask, I don’t watch TV, so my main entertainment is reading.) Rather than try to run down my favourite individual books, I’m going to talk about 15 favourite authors I read this year and list one favourite book of theirs that I read this year (though it might have been published earlier).
Feel free to share your favourites, too! What authors or books made your year special?
Keira Andrews has been on my radar for quite some time, but I hadn’t gotten around to reading anything by her despite the praise I’d heard for her Amish m/m series. So when I saw that she had a paranormal m/m with zombies and werewolves, I had to pick it up. So glad I did! I loved the world-building and the characters. Keira assured me on Twitter that a sequel is in the works. Can’t wait!
Favourite book this year: Kick at the Darkness
I met ‘Nathan online in the Queer Sci-Fi group on Facebook and discovered he lives in my hometown of Ottawa! I might be biased, but I think Ottawa writers are pretty cool. Anyway, I picked up his novel Light and…wow. LOVED IT. A gay superhero saving the day at the Ottawa Pride celebrations? It was such a wonderful read. I’m eager for the sequel!
Favourite book this year: Light
Mary Calmes is my go-to author when I need a comfort re-read. In fact, I think I read the Matter of Time series three times this year. Her point-of-view characters are adorable and her alpha guys are very alpha. Her books are contemporary but they tread that line of fantasy, where you know these people and situations could probably never actually exist, but it’s so much fun, so involving and just so happy-sigh-inducing, it doesn’t matter. I’m loving her new Marshals series.
Favourite book this year: Fit to be Tied
With How to Walk Like a Man, Eli Easton reminded me why she’s one of the authors I turn to when I need a good laugh. Seriously, if you haven’t checked her books out yet, do! How to Walk Like a Man is the second book in her Howl at the Moon series and I thought it was even better than the first. Laugh-out-loud funny and poignant, which is a trademark of Eli’s. (And check out her Sex in Seattle series, too, particularly the second book, The Enlightenment of Daniel—there’s one scene in the middle that makes me laugh no matter how many times I read it.)
Favourite book this year: How to Walk Like a Man
Amelia Faulkner is a new find for me this year, but I’m loving her Tooth & Claw series about a blind vampire and his werewolf boyfriend. I love how there are so many mysteries that the characters have to uncover about themselves—vampirism and lycanthropy don’t come with manuals, apparently. Or mentors. Or the mentors are homicidal, which, you know, makes things difficult.
Favourite book this year: Balance of Power
Rhys Ford is another auto-buy author for me. Her stories are always full of adventure, love, and “oh crap!” moments. The biggest surprise for me from Rhys this year was Black Dog Blues, which I picked up on sale. I like Urban Fantasy, but it can be hit and miss…and the prevalence of love triangles in the UF I’ve read has kinda turned me off the genre. But I’m really glad I took the chance! I fell in love with the world she’s created, which is a near future, post-apocalyptic place where the faerie realm of Underhill and the mundane human world have collided. It was complex, but not so complex I couldn’t follow, and I absolutely adored Kai, snark and sharp edges and all.
Favourite book this year: Black Dog Blues
Eileen Griffin and Nikka Michaels
I am so thankful for meeting these ladies through our shared publisher! If you like foodie romance, you need to check out their In the Kitchen series from Carina Press. They write poignant, heart-tugging romance with characters you just want to pull into a hug. And they managed to redeem the guy who was a jerk in the second book, so yay! Also, I loved their novella Stripped Bare, which featured an established couple discovering a shared interest in BDSM.
Favourite book this year: In the Distance
Alexis Hall is another author who has been on my radar for ages and in fact, I’ve had Glitterland on my tablet for some time, but it keeps getting buried! But I devoured his most recent release For Real, which is a BDSM romance with a 19-year-old Dom and a 38-year-old sub. It’s a dynamic that shouldn’t work, but it does. So well. The characters are both so real and so true to themselves. It’s a book that’s definitely deserving of the accolades it’s getting!
Favourite book this year: For Real
Riley Hart writes awesome GFY/OFY (gay for you/out for you) romance. One of my favourite depictions of this trope occurs in her novel Collide, where the GFY character really struggles with this aspect of self-discovery. In Crossroads, she has two GFY characters…the ever-elusive double-GFY! But it’s so well done, with one of the guys absolutely eager to explore this new playground (while the other is a little more hesitant) and a smidge of angst.
Favourite book this year: Crossroads
Reesa Herberth and Michelle Moore
My co-author, Kelly Jensen, flagged Peripheral People for me, saying “It has psychic detectives…in space!” and I replied, “OMG, it’s like it was written for me!” Maybe it wasn’t written with me in mind, specifically, but I loved this book. The Rainbow Awards judges did too, as it tied for first place in the Gay Sci-Fi/Futuristic category. Go Reesa and Michelle!
Favourite book this year: Peripheral People
Wow, Amy Lane. You know when you pick up an Amy Lane book, you’re going to feel things. Your heart might ache…or if might feel like it was ripped out of your chest and stomped on, depending on whether you read one of her light contemporaries or one of her darker books. But you know that by the end, everyone will be living their happily ever after—and damn, she’s good at writing those. I read a LOT of Amy Lane this year, and re-read at least three of her books, too (Clear Water, Dex in Blue, and Christmas Kitsch). Christmas Kitsch remains one of my all-time favourite books—I love Rusty so much! But I was absolutely haunted by A Solid Core of Alpha for days after I read it. It was such a heartbreaking read.
Favourite book this year: A Solid Core of Alpha
I love the Plumber’s Mate series by J.L. Merrow. The dialogue sets a wonderful sense of place, with the British slang—but it’s not too overdone. It’s gratifying to see Tom and Phil’s relationship progress, too! That ability to set a place so well in a reader’s head also comes into play in her book Fall Hard, which is set in Iceland and described so well, I could almost see the locations.
Favourite book this year: Fall Hard
Sam B. Morgan
Anyone who knows me knows that I have a special place in my heart for m/m romance featuring cops and detectives. I tend to haunt lists on Goodreads to find new authors, and I think that’s where I saw Sam B. Morgan’s books A Rookie Move and Slow Burn. They were both fantastic!
Favourite book this year: Slow Burn
I can’t remember where I first saw Chris Scully’s name mentioned but I remember the first book of hers that I read: Touch Me. And that’s what the book did—it touched me. It’s about a massage therapist who goes above and beyond for a few special clients who absolutely need the comfort of touch, even as his own world is imploding. It’s a beautiful book. When I saw she had a new book this year from Dreamspinner, I jumped on it. Nights Like These is a complete 180 from Touch Me, featuring a 40-year-old laid off tech worker starting over as a security guard, but it’s such an enjoyable book. Also, it starts in a Tim Hortons, so hello, instant winner for this Canadian.
Favourite book this year: Nights Like These
I picked up the first book in the Diversion series ages ago and it languished on my tablet, unread. While I was in New York this year at RWA and needed to unwind after a long day, I figured, hey, I’ll give it a shot. Yeah, I mainlined the series (four books at the time) in the five days I was at the conference. It’s such a unique take on one of my favourite tropes, law enforcement—Lucky is an ex-con working for a drug agency in lieu of serving his sentence in prison, a complete snarky jerk to everyone, just putting in his years before he can achieve real, full freedom. But everything changes when he’s partnered with a rookie agent who is incredibly capable, but has untold layers of issues. The character development of both Lucky and Bo is just…phenomenal. This series is SO GOOD.
Favourite book this year: Redemption
(And of course I have to give a shout-out to my partner in crime, my co-author, Kelly Jensen, who had some awesome releases this year, too. You should check out her story Wrong Direction from the M/M Romance Group on Goodreads (it’s free!) and her contribution to the Daily Dose 2015 package from Dreamspinner, Out in the Blue. And you’ll want to keep an eye out for more short contemporary fiction from Kelly in the new year! She’s got a story coming out that you guys will LOVE and you can quote me on that.)
I want to wish all of my readers and writing friends from all over the world a very happy holiday season. I hope Santa is good to you and yours.
Both Chaos Station and Lonely Shore are finalists in the 2015 Rainbow Awards! How cool is that?
Here’s the complete list of finalists: http://reviews-and-ramblings.dreamwidth.org/4759926.html
That is some amazing company for our boys. Thank you so much to Elisa and the judges!
Winners are announced tomorrow. My fingers are crossed!
A year ago today, my home town was rocked by a terrorist act. A gunman shot and killed a ceremonial guard standing at the National War Memorial, then stormed Parliament. A few days after this event, I posted the following. Bringing it back to remember the event and our fallen soldier, Corporal Nathan Cirillo.
For those of you who don’t know, I live just outside of Ottawa, Ontario. My hometown made international news this week when a disillusioned, unstable man shot and killed a soldier standing on honour guard at our national War Memorial, then raced across the street to the Parliament Buildings, entered them, and proceeded to terrorize the politicians before being killed by Parliament’s Sergeant-at-Arms.
Living and working in Canada’s capital after 9/11, an act of terror is…well, not something we were expecting, really, because that implies that such a thing is inevitable. It isn’t. Our police forces have uncovered and stopped many potential terrorist plots, and a huge thank you to them for their perseverance, determination and untiring service. But Ottawa’s always been a target for acts like this, even if they don’t happen frequently. (They have happened, though.)
On Wednesday, I was at work, thankfully nowhere near the events unfolding downtown. I followed everything on Twitter, though. All the confusion about how many perpetrators were involved, the news about Cpl. Cirillo’s death, the worry for people caught up in the security perimeter in the downtown core. This was happening to my home.
You have to understand, Ottawa is not a large city. We have no skyscrapers (there’s a bylaw that states that no buildings in the downtown core can be taller than the Peace Tower so it dominates the skyline). The population of Ottawa, from the eastern suburbs to the southern suburbs to the western suburbs, is just over 1 million. We’re no Toronto. We’re no Montreal. We’re a log town that was tapped by Queen Victoria in 1857 to be Canada’s capital because we were central between Upper and Lower Canada. We’re a small town that thinks, occasionally, it’s a big city.
On Friday, that small-town mentality came out.
Hundreds of people gathered at the War Memorial for the reinstatement of the honour guard. They spontaneously broke into song, singing the national anthem, after the guards took up their positions.
Thousands more stood along the route taken by Cpl. Cirillo’s procession out of town, back home to Hamilton, along the Highway of Heroes.
Thousands and thousands more—and I’m not exaggerating—lined overpasses all the way along highways leading to Hamilton.
So what did I learn this week?
Horrible, tragic, awful things can happen at any time and reverberate through my country, but even though we don’t often flaunt our patriotism, it’s there. God, it’s there and it’s strong. We won’t bow, we won’t break, no matter what is thrown at us.
Rest in peace, Cpl. Cirillo.
There’s a moment in the original Jurassic Park film when Ian Malcolm, played by Jeff Goldblum, says emphatically, “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”
Yeah, he’s talking about cloning dinosaurs, but this is a statement that has always stuck with me.
Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
Just because you CAN tell a story about a Jewish woman falling in love with a Nazi commander, doesn’t mean you should.
Just because you CAN tell a story about an African American slave falling in love with a slave owner, doesn’t mean you should.
And yes, both those stories exist. The first was a Romance Writers of America RITA award finalist this summer. The second is a free story recently published by the M/M Romance Group on Goodreads.
Both stories feature protagonists from oppressed groups falling in love with a person who is their oppressor.
“But!” a thousand voices shout. “Not every person in that privileged group was an oppressor!”
No. Stop. This is where you need to reflect back on what I said earlier.
Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
When the discussion about the Nazi “romance” occurred this summer, some people brought up the fact that there were recorded instances of Jewish women falling in love with Nazis. I’m sure there are recorded instances of this happening between slaves and slave owners, as well.
But that’s irrelevant. Completely and utterly irrelevant.
Because as soon as you put that romanticized notion in a book—that not all Nazis were bad, or not all slave owners were bad—you erase the pain and horror these Jewish people or black people experience
You erase the fact that these marginalized groups STILL experience oppression every single day.
You ignore the fact that these groups are SCREAMING for people to stop and think. Rethink. Understand what privilege is. Acknowledge that it exists.
You are saying:
No, my desire to tell a love story trumps the depravity your ancestors experienced. Oh, and it’s more important than pain you still experience today.
At its core, romance is a fantasy. It doesn’t matter what kind of romance novel you write—you are presenting an ideal situation that probably doesn’t exist in the real world. We read romance to escape. We read romance to experience the high and low emotions of falling in love, knowing all the while that we’re safe and we won’t be left adrift. We know that the characters we come to love over the course of the story will have their happily ever after and we can rejoice in that.
But we need to be aware that some historical events should never be romanticized.
We need to, as a community, consider consent and what it means in the romance genre.
We need to listen to marginalized groups when they say, “No. Stop. This hurts me and this is why.” We need to not dismiss those comments, but actively consider them and work to understand their point of view.
We need to think critically about what we’re reading. And what we’re writing. We need to look beyond the “feels” and understand that no, some stories should never be told, because they are so damaging, so untrue, and present a rose-coloured view of history that hurts everyone—but especially those who are shouting for us to listen.