November 27, 2013

Wednesday Briefs: Hope #9

Welcome to Wednesday Briefs, where authors post free fiction of 1000 words or less each week. I used this prompt: jump, live, game


Hope #9


I started when Hope jumped against my knees, barking. For him this was all a game, but for me? Taking him in yesterday had been the choice between living and giving up. I swallowed. Shane would've clocked me for ever having a thought in that direction. Then again, he remained dead, and I missed him every single minute of the day.
Hope dug his paws deep into my thighs, which elicited a pained grunt from me. “It's okay, boy.”
I drew in a breath in an attempt to collect myself. Hope wagged his tail and looked up at me with his ears perked. I ruffled his hair and even managed to smile down at him. His happy expression transformed into a questioning head-tilt.
I snorted. “You're not really a dog, are you? You're far too sensitive and... well, I don't know. You're odd.”
Hope pushed himself off my thigh, took two steps backward, and whirled around himself—all pushed up on his hind legs. I gaped at him. He barked, but it sounded more like laughter, especially when he went back on all fours. His tongue lolled out as he sat down, waiting for my reaction.
Okay,” I said slowly. “I need someone to pinch me because obviously I'm sleeping and imagining a whole night and morning—in great detail.”
Hope huffed, then ambled over to me. Suspicion rose within me. “What are you up to?”
He yipped and I crouched down to pet him. Hope snuggled his head into my palm and I used my free hand to stroke the thick fur at his chest. Suddenly, he grabbed my hand with his teeth and I gasped in pain.
Hey!” I protested. It didn't so much hurt as it stung. He also didn't let go. Since I'd never raised a puppy or had a dog I was at a loss. Had he gone mad? Or had he become dangerous? “Would you, um, mind?”
Hope let go of my hand, although he snatched it with his forepaws and licked over the reddened skin. Apprehension and confusion battled inside me and, since I didn't know how to react, I waited until he finished licking.
He peered at me, with the same expectant look I'd seen before. I frowned, puzzling about it when it struck me. “Oh, my God! You pinched me, right?”
Hope bounced against my chest, swishing his tail and barking. His enthusiasm knocked me flat on my ass. I wrapped his wriggling form in my arms, laughing. He understood everything I told him—everything. How was this possible?
When he'd calmed down, I cradled him in my arms and gazed at his face. His eyes reminded me of something—I just couldn't pinpoint what. I'd have to find out because something didn't sit right with me. Hope squirmed in my arms so I set him down. He nudged the phone I must have dropped at one point with his nose and I grabbed it before he had time to slobber all over it again.
I still have no idea who you want me to call,” I confessed.
Hope sagged against me with a look that spoke of righteous exasperation. The corners of my mouth twitched into a smile. “I'm a piece of work, huh?”
He barked in agreement.
How are we going to do this?” I asked. If I'd understood one thing in the last twelve hours, it was that I wouldn't be going anywhere if Hope decided against it. The sooner I found out the right person to call, the sooner I'd get out of the house.
The smile slipped from my face. I couldn't remember the last time I'd wanted to get out of the house. No, that wasn't right. I could remember—it had been before Shane's death. Unbidden tears welled up in my eyes and blurred my sight. The damn lump in my throat reappeared and I cursed, even though it came out as a croak.
Hope whimpered and I laid a hand on his trembling back. “Sorry, I'm a mess. We'll find your owner so you don't have to stick with me, okay?”
I ached as soon as the words had left my mouth. Hope howled as he threw himself against my chest, desperately trying to get underneath my sweater again.


TBC

  Or you can visit us here:
 http://wedbriefsfic.com

November 24, 2013

Sunday Snippet #5 -- "Cuddling Up" in "Animal Magnetism"

This week's post is from a short story, called Cuddling Up, which was published in Dreamspinner's Animal Magnetism Anthology.

Daria's yowl stopped Noah. He turned around, waved, and said, “Yeah, I know. Good thing Mr. Nitpicker wasn't here. He would have had his panties in a bunch.”
Daria mewed an answer, and Noah chuckled. “Though I would love to see his face.”
That can be arranged,” I said.
With great displeasure, I realized Noah didn't jump. On the other hand, all color left his face.
For a moment we stood there, each of us silent, waiting for the other one to start talking. I crossed my arms above my chest, unnecessarily puffing myself up, and glared down at Noah.
He had to tilt his head back to get a good look at me. He wet his upper lip with the tip of his tongue in a nervous gesture. I couldn't ignore the longing desire unfurling in my gut. I had tried to squash this urge way too long already.
How long are we going to do this? Not that I don't get you wanting to act all macho-like. You've at least got the body for it, but… could you step aside so I can go to the room and get comfortable? By the way, how long have you been back, did you say?”
He rambled. Babbled, even.
Allowing a small smirk to appear on my face, but not budging an inch when he came toward me and tried to walk past, I eventually answered, “I didn't want to be drenched and decided to wait until the rain eased off a bit. I came back inside after the first thunder.”
Oh. Oh, you did? I didn't hear you.”
Guess you were occupied, huh? Totally understandable, since you were so busy cuddling a grown snow leopard!” I shouted, finally giving way to my anger.

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3150

November 23, 2013

Interruption ("A Purrfect Match")

Sharing a short story that features Jim, Andrew and Tony from A Purrfect Match. It's set 4 years after the events in the book. I hope you'll enjoy the story.

Also, if you'd like to receive a bookmark, please a comment with your e-mail address on this post and I'll message you for your snail-mail address. This is how the bookmark looks like:


Interruption (“A Purrfect Match”)

Drew?”
What?” Andrew panted.
Your cat... I think she's contemplating murder.” Jim kept his eyes trained on Nika, their orange-striped tabby, who'd strolled in through the adjacent bedroom door and now stared at him from small slits.
Didn't you close the door?”
No,” Jim muttered. “for some reason I forgot.”
Andrew, who currently hung face down over Jim's left thigh, wiggled his jeans-clad ass and chuckled. “Did this have anything to do with your forgetfulness?”
Jim's erection pressed against the zipper of his pants as he smoothed his hand over Andrew's ass, following its curve in a loving caress. “Maybe.”
Maybe? Well, if it's not up to your standards anymore, I—” Andrew cut himself off with a fervent yelp when Jim's hand connected with his ass. “Ow, sheesh. No joking, okay, I get it.”
You sure?” Jim asked. He patted Andrew's rump, delighted in Andrew's wriggling, and the light flush that crept from his neck to his face.
Well...” Andrew drawled. He glanced over his shoulder and flashed Jim a smile. It was one of his thousand-watt smiles, one of those Jim could never resist. He applied another swat to Andrew's ass, which resulted in a deep moan from Andrew.
It also resulted in Nika jumping on Andrew's back, where she arched and hissed at Jim.
Um, what's going on there?” Andrew asked, sounding breathless. He shifted slightly but aborted any kind of movement when Nika's hiss grew deeper, more intense.
Jim swallowed while he stared at their usually mild-tempered cat. He understood the sounds she made perfectly, even though he wasn't in his cat-form at the moment. Nika was pissed off at him for hurting Andrew, and she'd defend him with claws and teeth if necessary.
Nika's mad at me.” Jim tried to move his lips as little as possible but Nika's eyes narrowed even more. “She probably thinks I'm going to hurt you.”
Can't you explain to her that it's the good kind of hurt?”
I doubt she'll understand there's a difference,” Jim replied.
Can't you just lift her off me and we chase her out of the room and close the door?” Andrew squirmed and rubbed his erection against Jim's thigh, although Nika voiced her displeasure about him moving.
Jim shrugged and reached out for Nika. “It's worth a try, I guess.”
He jerked his hand away when a fierce burn blossomed on the back of his hand. “She scratched me!”
Nika?”
No, Catwoman.”
Wha— Oh, all right. Sorry, it's kinda hard to think when you're hanging upside down.”
Jim stared at the slash on his hand, the way blood trickled out of the small cuts, and shook his head. She had to be seriously pissed off. Point for Nika.
Nika stalked up and down Andrew's back, meowing in a non-stop chatter that pretty much summed up her opinion about Jim. Any time one of them moved, she hissed and bared her teeth. After five minutes, Andrew groaned and pushed his upper body up on the bed. Nika jumped from his back, next to his face, to rub her face against his.
The front door slammed shut and Jim and Andrew jumped. Nika growled at Jim, her fur standing on end as she arched her back again. Tony called, “Dad! Jim! I'm back!”
Oh, my God! What's he doing here already? He can't see us like this!” The panic in Andrew's voice rang clearly.
Drew, calm down, we're both clothed and—”
Jim had no chance to end his sentence because Tony bounded into the bedroom, pushing his glasses up his nose. He jumped onto the bed next to Jim and pecked his cheek before he pointed at Andrew. “What are you doing? Massaging him?”
Jim snorted, which resulted in another spitting fit from Nika.
Something like that,” Jim replied. “Nika got in our way, though.”
Oh.” Tony gazed from Jim to his father and back again before he crawled onto the bed and scooted closer to Andrew. He gesticulated with his hands, and a fine flush covered his cheeks, when he whispered, “You didn't... you know... you weren't going to be busy or something like that, right?”
Andrew whimpered and clapped his hands over his head. Jim laughed, even though Nika advanced on him, hissing.
Oh, come on, girl!” Tony grabbed the cat and rolled into a cross-legged position on the bed. She allowed him to manhandle her and he stroked her belly until she purred.
Andrew pushed himself off from Jim's thigh, which sent him tumbling backward. Jim caught him and lifted him on his lap. “You okay?”
Yeah, just the sudden change of position got to me.” Andrew wrapped his arms around Jim's waist and dropped his head onto his shoulder.
You didn't intend to do the horizontal tango, right?” Tony asked.
The horizontal tango?” Jim asked perplexed. “Where did you learn that word?”
I picked it up somewhere, although I don't get why they'd call it horizontal tango. How are you supposed to dance in a horizontal position?” Tony thought aloud.
Well, I think that's because—”
Andrew cut him off. “Jim! Will you stop it? He's only ten years old!”
He started this conversation,” Jim defended himself.
Tony rolled his eyes, then cradled Nika securely in his arms and scooted toward the edge of the bed. “Since Dad's really pink in the face, I guess you did want to have sex. Nika and I will leave you to it.”
Andrew emitted a strange sound that sounded like something between a terrified squeak and an indignant huff. Jim cupped the back of his neck in one hand and kept Andrew's face on his shoulder, even though Andrew struggled against the hold.
Tony,” Jim sighed.
Tony had climbed off the bed and glanced over his shoulder before he stuck out his tongue. “Dad's so easily embarrassed, I couldn't pass the opportunity. Next time I'll stay longer at Susan's house, though.”
Andrew tweaked Jim's left nipple through the fabric of his shirt. For a moment, Jim lost his hold and Andrew freed his head. Andrew glared at him, or at least he tried, but all Jim could think of was how very enticing the disheveled look was on Andrew.
You said you'd be home by five-thirty, it's not even four,” Andrew said. Concern crept in his voice when he asked, “Did you have a fight with Susan?”
By now, Tony had reached the bedroom door. He shot Andrew a withering scowl. “Susan and I don't fight—ever.”
Jim raised an eyebrow. “What about—”
He stopped when Andrew's elbow drilled sharply into his abdomen. “Don't,” Andrew hissed, then said to Tony, “Why did you come back early then?”
Tony rubbed his face into Nika's fur and his voice was unsteady when he answered, “She's running a high fever. She felt really bad and her mother sent me home.”
Jim bit his tongue to thwart his initial reaction. There went the fun session he'd planned for Drew and himself. If Susan, Tony's best friend was sick, Tony would be a mess.
Oh, baby, come here.” Andrew opened his arms.
Tony didn't hesitate and hurried over to them. He threw himself into Andrew's arms, fighting against tears. Nika protested against the sudden change of location and ambled from Tony's arms onto Jim's thigh. She gazed at him, her tail twitching, then extended her claws for a split second. As soon as Jim gasped she meowed, then circled around herself and curled up into a ball.
Tentatively, Jim patted her head. At her first purr, he smiled—she'd decided to forgive him for spanking Andrew after all.
He transferred his gaze from Nika to Andrew, who sat with his arms wrapped around Tony. A soft smile appeared on Andrew's face and he mouthed, “I'll make it up to you.”
Jim nodded. He'd definitely take Drew up on his promise, but for now he engulfed the two people he loved the most in his arms, enjoying their closeness.

November 22, 2013

Goddess Fish Promotions: Lindsey Fairleigh & Lindsey Pogue -- Into The Fire


INTO THE FIRE
by Lindsey Fairleigh and Lindsey Pogue

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

BLURB:

The Virus changed them, but that was only the beginning…
death…mutation…insanity…corruption…terror…
all that remains is hope.

In the wake of destruction left behind by the Virus, it took Dani and Zoe months to find each other. But their reunion was short-lived. Dani has been taken, and though little distance separates them, they might as well be worlds apart.

From the moment she hears Dani’s scream, Zoe’s only goal is to save her best friend. She and her companions scramble to come up with a rescue plan, but when a ghost from Jake’s past reappears, lines are blurred, decisions become harder, and secrets are revealed…and some secrets are best left buried. To keep heartache and fear from consuming her, Zoe must cling to her determination. She will see Dani again.

Dani awakens inside the final hold-out of civilization: the Colony. Remnants of the former world surround her—electricity, safety, social order—but all is not what it seems. As she faces her most manipulative adversary yet, she loses sight of who she is and who she can trust. Friends become enemies, enemies become allies, and allies will betray her. Dani will have to decide what she’s willing to do and whose lives she’s willing to risk if she is to have any chance of breaking free.




Excerpt (Zoe):

I froze. He’s leaving. I glared at Jake’s back, but feeling his misery, my anger quickly subsided. “We can figure something—”

Stop!” He pulled his arm back and slammed his fist into the wall, denting it. “There’s nothing to figure out. My sister will not be used as a pawn.” His face fell. He leaned back and brought his hand up to pinch the bridge of his nose. “I wouldn’t be able to live with myself.”

He’s already made up his mind. Instantly, I started to question everything about Jake and me…about us. My reservations from the first time I met him—the first time he saved me, opened his mouth, and pushed me away—flared to life, and I chided myself for being so na├»ve. I knew something like this would happen.

The questions jumped off my tongue before I could contain them. “What about Dani? What about me? You’re just going to leave?”

When he didn’t respond, reality burst overhead like a looming storm cloud, clearing away the fog that had settled in my heart and mind. How could I have been so stupid?

The conversation we’d had on the dock back in St. Louis resurfaced from under a month’s-worth of foolhardy emotions. Jake’s words replayed in my mind.

For whatever reason, I know you don’t want to let me in…or maybe you just don’t know how…what are you afraid of?”

This. This feeling of inexplicable loss was what I’d been afraid of—the living lump of hysteria swelling in my throat, the desperation in my heart. I couldn’t swallow it away.

Biting the inside of my cheek as hard as possible, I willed myself to calm down. Keep it together, Zoe.

Jake strode past me to Becca, pulling her up to her feet.

Lunging at him, I pushed against his chest as hard as I could. “You’re leaving?” He stumbled away from Becca, and I pushed him again. “You’re going to kill Dani!” I shoved against his shoulder. “You’re going to kill us all if you take her!” I smack his chest. “I won’t let you ruin everything.” I won’t let you break my heart! I pushed, shoved, and slapped him again and again. “You son of a bitch!”

Jake gripped my arms firmly, immobilizing me and forcing me to look up at him. His eyebrows lifted with sympathy…or is it sorrow? I was too upset to differentiate between his emotions and mine.

Let go,” I warbled.

As he opened his mouth to speak, a gunshot cracked through the air, and Jake yanked me down to the floor.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Lindsey Fairleigh lives her life with one foot in a book—as long as that book transports her to a magical world or bends the rules of science. Her novels, from post-apocalyptic to time travel and historical fantasy, always offer up a hearty dose of unreality, along with plenty of adventure and romance. When she's not working on her next novel, Lindsey spends her time reading and trying out new recipes in the kitchen. She lives in the Napa Valley with her loving husband and confused cats.

Lindsey Pogue has always been a little creative. As a child she established a bug hospital on her elementary school soccer field, compiled books of collages as a teenager, and as an adult, expresses herself through writing. Her novels are inspired by her observations of the world around her--whether she's traveling, people watching, or hiking. When not plotting her next story line or dreaming up new, brooding characters, Lindsey's wrapped in blankets watching her favorite action flicks or going on road trips with her own leading man.


Links:





Buy links:

Amazon:
Into The Fire (The Ending, #2) - not available yet
After The Ending (The Ending, #1) - http://www.amazon.com/After-Ending-ebook/dp/B00BJDUBLU


Barnes & Noble:
Into The Fire (The Ending, #2) - not available yet


Smashwords:
Into The Fire (The Ending, #2) - not available yet
After The Ending (The Ending, #1) – not available yet


Kobo:
Into The Fire (The Ending, #2) - not available yet
After The Ending (The Ending, #1) – not available yet


~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 The authors will be awarding a $15 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour.  

 Follow the tour and comment to increase your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here: 

 

November 20, 2013

Wednesday Briefs: Hope #8


Welcome to Wednesday Briefs, where authors post free fiction of 1000 words or less each week. I used this prompt: "May I help you with that?"


Hope #8


Hope kept staring at me from his dark, liquid eyes and I heard the light thump of his tail on the floor. When I had myself under control, I said, “Hope, come out here.”
He crawled backward, growling. I sighed and went from my knees to my belly. We studied each other until I put my chin on my folded hands in front of me. Hope's ears perked up but his paw remained on my keys.
“All right,” I said as I closed my eyes and rested my head on my hands, “let me know when you decide to come out of your hiding spot.”
It took Hope a long time to move. I laid quietly while he inched closer and closer. A wet nose poked me gently in the ear. I waited until Hope nestled up behind my neck, licking my ear with an enthusiasm only a puppy could bring, then snatched him by the nape of his neck. He squeaked and his little paws scrabbled frantically on the floor to stop me from manhandling him, but he was only a puppy after all.
I rolled around and cradled the squirming and wriggling Hope in my arms. “Shhh, boy, it's all right. I just need my keys.”
Hope wailed. I flinched so hard I almost lost my grip on him. I'd never heard a dog emit such a high-pitched, desperate sound.
“Hope!” I called out. “Calm down!”
He whimpered and struggled until I couldn't hold him anymore. Instead of diving back under the sofa, he stuck his head under my sweater and pushed his way farther up. At first I tried to stop him, but his wailing peaked at such a volume that I had to clap my hands over my ears. Hope used this freedom to burrow under my shirt, although his left forepaw got tangled in the fabric, which resulted in a squeaked protest.
After lowering my hands, I asked, “May I help you with that?”
Hope whimpered, but his frantic movements lessened. I freed his paw and Hope plastered himself against my chest until only his tail stuck out from my sweater. With a sigh, I sat cross-legged on the floor, waiting for Hope's breathing to ease.
You're a troublemaker. All right, how about I take you with me in the car? But when we're at the store, you’ll have to stay there. Only for a short while.”
Hope nipped at my chest and I gasped. “Ow! Stop that!”
He wriggled his way out from under my clothes, which gave him the appearance of an oversized ball of fluffy fur, then he shook. I watched him squeeze himself underneath the sofa and groaned. “Hope.”
Hope came out quickly and dropped my keys onto my lap, then ambled away. Puzzled, I rose to my feet and straightened my clothes. Maybe he had a change of heart?
I hurried toward the door but stopped dead in my tracks. Hope sat in front of the door, holding a phone in his snout. He dropped it when he saw me and thumped his tail on the floor. I never thought it'd be possible for a dog, or any animal, to look pleased with itself but Hope sure pulled the look off.
You... want me to call someone?” I asked. Hope barked and bounced to his feet. He nudged the phone in my direction. Dumbstruck, I bent and picked it up. “Eew! Puppy slobber all over my phone.”
Hope's ears flopped down and his large eyes seemed even larger than normal. I kneaded the thin skin behind his ears, reassuring him, “It's all right. It can be cleaned.”
I wiped the phone, then stared from my cell to Hope and back again. “I suppose you want me to call someone special, right?”
Hope wagged his tail and I thought about pinching myself to wake up from this daydream. It could only be a daydream because I was seriously talking to a puppy!
Despite my sudden fear for my sanity, I asked, “Who should I call?”
Hope expelled a long breath before he sat down with an accusing look on his face. I frowned, then it dawned on me. “Oh, I need to ask a yes or no question, right?”
He barked and looked up at me with an expectant expression. Pride swelled up inside me because I'd gotten his meaning immediately. A moment later, I pressed the heels of my hands against my eyes, wondering whether I was finally going insane from my grief.


November 19, 2013

Grace R. Duncan: Deception & Giveaway!

Please help me welcome back fellow DsP author Grace R. Duncan with her new release "Deception".



Thank you so much, Chris, for hosting me today! I really appreciate the opportunity. 

* * *

When I sit down to do a story—whether it’s a book, a short story, or something else, I expect it to be a single, standalone thing. Which, I should know by now, is pretty difficult for me to do (like keeping them short. *cough*). I often find that it’s not only the main characters that I end up getting attached to, but the secondary guys, as well.

I have a fellow author who has a real aversion to his characters when he’s done. He jokes that he keeps a literary machine gun for them for when he’s finished his books. He’s written them, and he’s usually quite happy to walk away from them when he’s done.

Me… not so much.

When I started writing Choices, more than two years ago now, I had envisioned a nice, sexy story that I’d write… and then move on. Except before I even got thoroughly into the book, I knew that some of the side characters had caught my attention. Without even finishing the story, I knew that the slave master, Salehi, and the captain of the guard, Darius, would get their own story. I think I was maybe at the fourth chapter when I knew Salehi would want page time of his own. And before I finished Teman’s training, Cyrus and Nadir had very distinct voices in my head.

I’ve been pretty good about putting it aside and finishing the current project, but every so often, these guys sneak up and insist they be heard. It can actually be a little frustrating when they all insist on talking at once. 

I swear, we authors sound more than a little crazy. But that’s kind of what it feels like, especially if you’re writing these guys as secondary characters in the current WIP. Salehi kept poking at me, wanting his own happy ending and I kept having to tell him to be patient. *laughs*

But in all seriousness, I tend to fall in love with my characters a little bit. And I want to give them as much as I can, make them as happy as I can.

Well, after I make them a teensy bit miserable. *wink*

My current project is a contemporary story about an actor who’s been rather forced to recognize and accept his bisexuality when he reacts to his male co-star during a kissing scene. I’ve had a lovely time putting him through all sorts of torment. And in the process, not one, not two, but three of the other characters have decided they want to be heard, too. One of them was supposed to be a sort of bad guy. But the more I wrote of him, the more I knew that wasn’t who he was. Instead, he’ll get his own story, eventually. The other two were supposed to just be minor, almost background characters, but they, too, decided that wasn’t nearly good enough. They wanted, probably needed, to be heard much more. 

I actually rather love seeing my characters develop like this. They really begin to take on a personality and voice of their own and it is such a joy to write them, spend time with them. I think it’s one reason it’s so hard for me to finish a novel and walk away from their stories. Luckily, as the author, I can write more, if I like. I may not publish it, but… *laughs*

The neat thing about this, to me, is that it has helped me get over two of the biggest fears I’ve had about starting a writing career. I used to be thoroughly afraid that I’d have one good idea in me and never be able to come up with another story. Well, that is obviously not a problem. Especially if you saw my idea notebook and that doesn’t even include all the side stories I’d like to write.

The other fear was that my characters would come out… flat. That they wouldn’t be likeable—or hateable—but rather, just plain, boring cardboard cut-outs. I have a reader of my fanfiction to thank for helping me out of this (thank you again, Greekbread!), but it was the character she loved so much that made me realize that I could do it. He was the only major original character I’d written and she kept asking me when she’d get more of him. The side effect was that she helped me believe in my characters quite a bit more. 

So now, when they speak, I listen. Most of the time, that leads to another story. Sometimes, it just means that the character you meet is just a little bit deeper than you might expect of a secondary character. And sometimes, even my insistence on not writing it doesn’t quite hold and they find their way to the page of their own story anyway. 

Perhaps those are the ones I should listen to most. So far, I’ve loved it. Cyrus and Nadir spoke so loudly that I couldn’t ignore them. Darius and Salehi are not far behind. 

How do you feel about series and sequels and spin-offs? Do you like them? Leave your comments for an entry to win a paperback copy of Deception!
Follow the giveaway here: http://tinyurl.com/puw3nro

For more from Grace, check out her website here: http://www.grace-duncan.com
or on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/GraceRDuncan2

To check out the entire Golden Collar series, head over to the Dreamspinner Press page here: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/index.php?cPath=976

Be sure to check the Facebook page and visit my other blog stops in celebration of Deception’s release for more chances to win! 

* * *

Cyrus and Nadir first met as hungry orphans on Behekam’s streets at twelve years old. They became friends, then partners in the thievery that enabled them to survive, and as they passed their days together, they fell in love. When they are both taken as pleasure slaves in the opulent palace of the Malik of Neyem, love becomes more complicated.

Rumors of an attempt on Malik Bathasar's life put Cyrus and Nadir's relationship to the test—they must pose convincingly as intimate slaves to the young malik as part of a plan to lure the assassin into the open. Teman—Malik Bathasar’s real personal pleasure slave and true lover—was once trained by Cyrus for the same duties, and the attraction and care Cyrus developed for him then still remains. The Malik of Neyem proves an easy man to love and Nadir’s feelings for him grow while they’re pretending to love each other.

Cyrus and Nadir care deeply for each other but they’ve forgotten the first rule of love: communicate in honesty. Their love remains strong enough to weather the changes—if they have the courage not only to face the coming dangers, but to put aside deception and find their truth.

November 18, 2013

Teegan Loy: Echoes of Us

Please help me welcome fellow Dreamspinner author Teegan Loy!

First off, I’d like to thank Chris for letting me hang out on this blog. My name is Teegan Loy and my new novel Echoes of Us will be available from Dreamspinner on November 18, 2013. 


 

Blurb:

Most people think falling in love is a wonderful thing. For Rylan Blake, love only complicates his life. After a disastrous tip home, Rylan and his best friend, Maggie, head back to Chicago to meet their new roommate, Jade Marin, and prepare for their final year of college.

Love is the last think Rylan expects when he meets Jade. But as the two men get to know each other and discover their mutual love of music, friendship becomes more. They compose songs and, at Maggie’s urging, post their work on YouTube-where the videos go viral and a music producer discovers them.

But hitting it big isn’t always a good thing, especially when it comes with a price. When Rylan and Jade sign a deal with a big music company, they’re ordered to hide their relationship from the public and take fake girlfriends. At first, it’s a game, but as their fame grows, Rylan feels forced to choose: Does he stay and live a lie, or does he walk away from a life of fame-and from Jade?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A few people recently asked me if I ever use “real life” incidents in my stories. And yes, one of the people actually did the air quote gesture. I rolled my eyes and told her this story.

One day, a very good friend sent me a text, telling me she had a weasel in her house and no one believed her until her dog started sitting in front of the dishwasher. The first thing I asked was if it was a ferret and not a weasel. She insisted it was a weasel. I still didn’t believe her. About an hour later, I got a comical description of how the exterminator and several members of her family tried to round up the unwanted houseguest. Needless to say, I included a slightly different version of the weasel story in Echoes of Us.

Here’s a sneak peek of my main character, Rylan Blake in Echoes of Us. In this scene, he’s talking with his sister and his best friend, Maggie. The first person to speak is Rylan’s sister, Kellie.

Excerpt:

Because you’ve always gone after what you wanted, dressed and acted like you didn’t give a shit about what anyone thought. You’re talented and special, and you’re not afraid of anything.”
I’m afraid of everything,” I choked.
He is,” Maggie confirmed. “Once, I was sitting in the living room and Rylan screamed so loud I thought someone was murdering him. Even our next-door neighbor heard him. She came rushing over to our house wielding a golf club like it was a machete, and she’s eighty years old. We found Rylan perched on top of his desk shouting about a giant weasel that ran across his floor. Mrs. Morgan burst out laughing and got down on her hands and knees, talking softly to something she called Harry. A few seconds later, a cute little ferret poked his nose out from under Rylan’s bed. It was one of our neighbor’s missing pets. Mrs. Morgan picked him up and left, laughing.”
I didn’t know it was a ferret.”
You grew up on a farm,” Maggie fired back.
I took liberties with the scene and changed the weasel into a ferret. In real life, it was a weasel that came into my friend’s house. It still makes her shudder when you mention weasels.

Thanks again, Chris, for letting my hang out here
Xo Teegan


Sometimes, I’m even on my Blog… sometimes http://teeganloy.wordpress.com/




November 17, 2013

Sunday Snippets #4 -- A Purrfect Match

This week's post is from A Purrfect Match (shape-shifter story, published by Dreamspinner Press):




Andrew Wright hastily pulled his hand out of reach of the hissing cat. Jim’s body vibrated from barely restrained anger, a feeling he couldn’t recall ever having had in his shifted form.
Daddy! Don’t yell, you’re scaring Mr. Frosty,” the boy protested.
Jim pushed his forepaws against the small clavicle and stared at the boy. Mr. Frosty?
Mr. Frosty?” Andrew echoed Jim’s confusion perfectly.
The boy, Tony, lifted his chin, daring his father to object. “Yes, Mr. Frosty. It’s the name I gave him.”
Tony,” Andrew sighed.
I want to keep him,” Tony declared.
Deciding this could be interesting, Jim changed tactics. Instead of hissing and pushing away from the boy, he snuggled closer and purred loudly. Tony tightened his arms around him. Laboriously, the boy clambered to his feet with the big cat in his arms.
Tony,” Andrew sighed again, his voice taking on a pleading edge.
He carded his left hand through his hair, ruffling it until he looked decidedly disheveled. Jim gazed up at him, waiting for Andrew’s next words.
Tony, I know you’re missing Lady, but we can’t just take in a stray cat.”
Why not?”
Yes, why not?
Jim watched Andrew, how he struggled to find the right answer. “Well, we don’t know what kind of diseases this cat has. It doesn't have a collar or anything, and I don’t want either of us to get sick.”
Jim saw Tony mulling this over. Obviously he didn’t take the comment lightly. Jim reverted to an unfair tactic—he pushed his head against Tony’s cheek, rubbing and eliciting happy giggling noises.
He heard Andrew mutter in defeat. “Oh, great. All right, let’s take Mr. Frosty inside and towel him off.”
Point one for Jim, the cat.

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3437

November 13, 2013

Wednesday Briefs: Hope 7




Welcome to Wednesday Briefs, where authors post free fiction of 1000 words or less each week. I used this prompt: use time in your story in some way.

Hope #7


After some serious cuddle time, I dressed. Hope watched me, his head tilted slightly upward and his ears pricked up. Shane would've loved this small creature, even though Hope wasn't really all that small. He'd be a large dog when he was fully grown.
His size didn't matter. We—no, I—owned the condo, and a German Shepherd would fit without trouble. I turned toward the window in the bedroom, swallowing hard. What the hell had happened with me in less than twenty-four hours? How did I go from suicidal thoughts to planning how a puppy would fit into my life? The life I'd considered giving up only a short time ago?
I squeaked when Hope's cold and wet nose nudged my hand. “Hey! You don't like when my attention is on anything other than you, huh?”
Hope tried to climb up my jeans-clad leg, which even with the protective layer, hurt.
“All right, all right! You're confusing yourself with a lapdog but come here anyway.” I laughed when he flung himself into my open arms, wriggling and yipping. I buried my face in Hope's soft fur and inhaled his scent.
Reluctantly, I calmed him down and set him back on the floor. “We need to get you some food, and I need to ask around if someone's missing you. Oh, and we need a collar and a leash. How about you stay for an hour and I go fetch everything?”
I didn't mention to Hope that this would be the first time I willingly left the house without someone threatening me or dragging me out. Hope growled at me; a long-drawn, vibration that went right through my bones. Wincing, I crouched down and petted his head. “Do you know how freaky it is for you to understand me? Or at least for you to appear to understand me? Anyway, we need all these things and I can't just keep you without looking for your owner first. Look at you! You're in good shape, someone must miss you.”
Hope lifted his forepaws and rested them on my knees before he gently, almost lovingly, rubbed his head against my cheek. I'd miss him too if someone claimed him. I knew I would. The thought of giving Hope up had me sweating.
You must be hungry.” I tried again.
Hope simply pushed his body between my knees and shoved his head underneath my chin, whimpering. I choked. Shane had done the very same whenever he felt off-kilter or wanted me to comfort him. Sometimes he'd used the exact same position when he didn't want to deal with something unpleasant.
“Don't do that, please,” I whispered. “Don't remind me of him.”
Hope withdrew from my grasp, his large eyes shining even more. I never thought a puppy could pull off a hurt look, but Hope did.
I closed my eyes, then rose to my feet and staggered out of the bedroom. Hope whizzed past me. What was he up to?
I scratched my head as I thought about the whereabouts of my car keys. They weren't on their usual place, at the hook near the front door, and they weren't in any of the jackets hanging in the floor wardrobe.
Hope busied himself with whatever but suddenly a tinkling sound caught my attention. Frowning, I watched Hope passing me with his head ducked low.
“Hope?”
Hope fell into a run and I scurried after him, almost tripping over old newspapers and dirty dishes. The house was a mess! And now, my puppy seemed to have found my car keys—as incredible as it sounded.
“Hope! Give me the keys!” I shouted.
He looked back and indeed, my car keys dangled from his snout. Unbelievable! Even more unbelievable was the fact that Hope squeezed himself under the sofa. I followed him and lifted the hem of the fabric to peer at him. Hope lay pressed on his belly, with the keys between his paws. When I reached out to grab , he put one forepaw on them, a triumphant gleam in his dark eyes.
For a moment time stood still and I just stared at him. Then I burst out laughing.


TBC


November 12, 2013

Cheryl Headford: The Face In The Window



The Face In The Window

There are those who can’t see, and those who don’t see, but we are all blind sometimes.

The Face in the Window is a story of two very different boys, trying to find their way and bring together two worlds that are as different as night and day. 

Ace’s world is dark. Born blind, he’s learned to open his eyes in a different way and from the very start he is a stabilizing and calming influence on Haze.

Haze’s world is lonely, filled with the crushing pain of a long past event and the crippling fear of the uncontrollable outbursts of rage it left in its wake. 

Ace struggles with a brother who is intent on making his life miserable in every way, and Haze struggles to control the rage that threatens whenever he does so.

Gradually, they learn about each other’s world and, as the two are brought together the boys head toward an explosive climax when they meet. 

Let’s hear what the boys have to say in their own words about the journey that led from the first glimpse of the face in the window to the traumatic events that very nearly part them forever.

Me: So, Ace, how do you do that thing where you turn to someone and look into their face? How do you know where their face is when you can’t see it?

Ace: I don’t know, it’s not something I’ve ever thought about. I suppose, it’s something to do with how they sound. I can’t do it if I can’t hear them. When someone speaks, I orient on their voice and look where I think the voice comes from. I picture the person’s face, if I know what they look like, otherwise it’s just looking into the dark like usual.

Me: How can you know what someone looks like? 

Ace: I see them through my fingers. If I touch your face I create a picture in my mind of what your face looks like and then I always see that picture when I hear your voice.

Haze: It’s truly amazing. He doesn’t think it’s anything special, but it’s almost uncanny how close he can get. He has amazing ears. He’s very particular about where we sit in a cinema or in his room, so we get to the best place possible to hear the sound. It all seems the same to me.

Ace: You’re a philistine when it comes to music anyway. The rubbish you like does sound the same wherever you sit. I’m going to give you an appreciation of the depth and nuances of classical music if it kills you.

Haze: They teach you a load of crap at that school.

Ace: They teach me how to kick your ass.

Haze: You wish.

Ace: Don’t make me have to do it again, here and now.

Haze: You wouldn’t want to destroy the image of sweet little angel would you?

Ace: That’s not the image I’ve ever had of myself. I’m quite happy for it to be destroyed. On your feet and prepare for a good old fashioned ass kicking

Haze: Easy ninja. Trust me, this is not the place for that kind of shenanigans.

Ace: Okay, but you know I could, right?

Haze: You can do anything.

Ace: When you are with me I can.

Me: Alright, guys, enough of the smooshy stuff. We get that Ace is pretty amazing, but I’ve been hearing good things about you too, Haze.

Haze: There’s nothing amazing about me.

Ace: Yes, there is. You saved me.

Haze: No I didn’t. You saved me

Ace: We saved each other.

Haze: No, seriously, you saved me. If you hadn’t recognised the sound of the waterfall I might never have been found and I was in no shape to get out of there on my own. I’d likely be dead.

Ace: No. You’d have found me if I hadn’t found you. I know it.

Me: You sound so certain.

Ace: I am. We were meant to be together and that’s it.

Haze: Ace sees the world in very simple terms. It’s all black and white to him.

Ace: Actually, it’s all black. I’ve never really got my head round colours. I’ve never seen them, after all. I think in pictures but I don’t think they’re pictures you’d recognise.

Me: That’s very interesting. I didn’t think about colours, or rather not being able to see them. I can’t imagine a world without colour.

Ace: I can’t imagine a world with colour. I see shapes and patterns, sometimes shadows and light.

Me: You see patterns? 

Ace: Yes. Actually, I see sounds. Mostly sharp sounds. When I listen to music I see a lot.

Me: That’s fascinating. What does sound look like?

Ace: Depends on the sounds. Sharp sounds usually look sharp. Sweet sounds, softer, like bubbles or whorls. Sudden loud noises kind of explode out of the middle and sometimes loud and sharp make black and white squares.

Haze: He can be really weird sometimes.

Ace: So can you.

Me: I hear you’re going to university next year. Have you enrolled at the same one? 

Ace: Yes. It took some organisation but we got there in the end. My mother wanted me to go to the same university as my brother, Nick, so he could keep an eye on me, but they didn’t do the courses we both wanted, so it took some investigation and discussion. The university we’re going to has amazing facilities for blind students. 

Haze: When we went to look around, they assigned Ace a girl who’s just like him, except not as beautiful, of course. *At this point Ace smiles coyly and snuggles up to him. It’s so cute* She’s in her third year and is absolutely amazing. She’s so bubbly and brilliant. She showed us around and had Ace using all kinds of hi tech stuff I couldn’t begin to understand. The blind students have so much going on I don’t know when he’ll find time to spend with me.

Ace: I’ll always find time to spend with you. Besides…. We’re going to be living together.

Okay, that look needs censoring, so I think this might be a good place to draw the interview to a conclusion.
I can tell you two are going to do just fine. Maybe one day you’ll come back and let us know how university works out for you. Somehow, I know you’ll have plenty of adventures to recount.

If you would like to read more of Ace and Haze’s story, you can find it here at Featherweight Press



Blurb
Ace is blind and Haze is damaged. They live in different worlds and not everyone is happy when they become boyfriends. Haze is struggling with the after effects of a traumatic event in his past that has left him at the mercy of an uncontrollable rage. When Ace’s brother steps up his campaign of torment against Ace, they’re all in danger from Haze’s outbursts, though it isn’t until things get completely out of control that the healing can really begin. But with Ace unseeing and Haze perched on the edge of a cliff, will either of them survive long enough to benefit?

Excerpt

Next we went to the phone shop and I started browsing the displays while Ace breathed in the sounds and scents.
A young salesman came shyly over. “Hi. I’m Shaun. I hope I’m not being presumptuous but I was wondering which one of you was looking for a phone.”
That would be me,” said Ace orienting on Shaun. “Although it’s my friend who’s doing the looking for me.”
Shaun coloured slightly and became even shyer. Speaking directly to Ace he said, “We have a new phone which I think might be of interest to you. It’s just come in. It has special features which make it particularly suitable for people with impaired vision. Can I show it to you?”
Absolutely,” Ace said, clearly excited as hell. His excitement was infectious and Shaun was lit up as he showed him the phone. Right from the offset he put the phone in Ace’s hand and guided his fingers over the keys.
It’s no bigger than some of the other phones we carry and the only obvious difference is that the screen is absent, which allows the buttons to be larger. It is very durable and can be thrown at a wall, dropped in water, even stepped on without damage.
From your point of view the most significant feature is that it’s entirely voice activated. We’ll teach it to recognise your voice and you can dial, disconnect, check the time, set alarms, in fact use all the normal features including texting, by touching a button and speaking.
When you touch a button, it will tell you what you’ve pressed and what options you have opened. After that it’s all voice. Let me show you.”
He gently took the phone out of Ace’s hand and pressed a button. A surprisingly gentle, although clearly electronic voice said, “You have accessed the menu for alarms, applications, calendar, tasks, notes, timer, stopwatch, calculator, and menu.”
Shaun said, slowly and clearly, “Calendar.”
To set an appointment,” said the voice, “please say ‘set’, to check an appointment already entered, please say ‘check’, to add a note, please say ‘note’, to set a task, please say ‘task’.”
Set,” Shaun said.
Please state the date on which you wish the appointment to be entered into the calendar.”
Twenty-sixth of June two thousand and ten.”
That’s the twenty-sixth of June two thousand and ten.”
Yes.”
At what time does the appointment commence?”
Eleven fifteen.”
At what time does the appointment end?”
Twelve fifteen.”
Would you like a warning?”
Yes.”
Of how much?”
Fifteen minutes.”
Would you like to add a note?”
No.”
The voice read back all the details and then said, “If all details are correct, please say ‘close’, to change any of the details please say ‘change’.”
Close. Lock,” Shaun said and smiled at the awed expression on Ace’s face. “That’s in tutorial mode. Once you’re used to it you can turn that mode off and you won’t get all the prompts just the check back at the end.”
Shaun then proceeded to take Ace through a few more applications but I could already see that the phone was about to be his.
How much is it?” I asked eventually.
£350. But if you take out a twelve month contract it’s only £100.”
We haggled slightly and finally settled on a tariff and filled out the paperwork. Ace was bored by this but was more than content playing with the phone, running his fingers over it, feeling the smoothness of its glossy black surface. It was a way cool phone.
When we were done Shaun set up Ace’s phone and had him to speak into it a few times until it recognised his voice and then to practice some of the applications. In the middle of it all a loud buzzing sound came from the phone getting progressively louder.
What’s that?” Ace asked, alarmed.
It’s the warning, remember we set it earlier?”
Wow. It must be eleven o’clock then, yeah?”
Absolutely right. You have a good memory.”
Ace grinned happily. “What about all the numbers I’ve saved?”
If you want to give me your old phone, I’ll transfer them all over for you.”
When Ace handed him the Disney phone, his eyes widened.
Cruel brothers who pick out his stuff knowing he can’t see how hideous it is,” I explained, surprised by how much the words stung.
Shaun nodded. “Would you like me to recycle that for you? We have a £25 gift voucher available if you do.”
Hell yeah. Never mind the gift voucher just get rid of that hideous monstrosity.”
Shaun spent no time at all transferring all of Ace’s numbers onto the new phone and showing him how to access them.
Ace would have been happy sitting outside the shop playing with his phone all day but I had a whole different agenda.




Bio
Cheryl was born into a poor mining family in the South Wales Valleys. Until she was 16, the toilet was at the bottom of the garden and the bath hung on the wall. Her refrigerator was a stone slab in the pantry and there was a black lead fireplace in the kitchen. They look lovely in a museum but aren’t so much fun to clean.
Cheryl has always been a storyteller. As a child, she’d make up stories for her nieces, nephews and cousin and they’d explore the imaginary worlds she created, in play.
Later in life, Cheryl became the storyteller for a re enactment group who travelled widely, giving a taste of life in the Iron Age. As well as having an opportunity to run around hitting people with a sword, she had an opportunity to tell stories of all kinds, sometimes of her own making, to all kinds of people. The criticism was sometimes harsh, especially from the children, but the reward enormous.
It was here she began to appreciate the power of stories and the primal need to hear them. In ancient times, the wandering bard was the only source of news, and the storyteller the heart of the village, keeping the lore and the magic alive. Although much of the magic has been lost, the stories still provide a link to the part of us that still wants to believe that it’s still there, somewhere.
In present times, Cheryl lives in a terraced house in the valleys with her son and her two cats. Her daughter has deserted her for the big city, but they’re still close. The part of her that needs to earn money is a lawyer, but the deepest, and most important part of her is a storyteller and artist, and always will be.