The Romance of Fan Fiction, part 2 by Jude Sierra

Hello all! Happiest of Novembers to everyone. This month we wanted to welcome Jude Sierra for two exciting reasons: first for a very first look at her upcoming novel and second, for a four part series she wrote for Binge On Books. Jude will be spending the month of November discussing the intersections between some of her favorite things: fanfiction, romance novels, and authors you know who play in both sandboxes! Jude will be talking with some of your favorite romance authors throughout the month about their fanfiction to original fiction publication stories and just how important fan communities have been to them.

Before we get down to the nitty gritty, there’s one more order of business. It’s been a little while since we’ve seen a new novel by Jude, and we’re excited to announce the details of her upcoming novel, A Tiny Piece of Something Greater.

Blurb: Reid Watsford has struggled with his cyclothemia his whole life. When his grandmother offers him a place to stay at her condo in Key Largo, he decides to leave Wisconsin, his ex, and his family to try to make a fresh start. There he meets Joaquim, a Brazilian wanderer who came to the US looking for adventure, and ended up an intern at the Key Largo Dive Shop. When Reid signs up for his introductory dive classes, it seems an adventure has come to Joaquim—but Reid has a lot of secrets, and a past he can’t quite escape. As their relationship deepens, so do Reid’s complications, something they both must learn to navigate—on their own and with each other.

Coming from Interlude Press on May 17th, 2018. 


The Romance of Fanfiction, part 2 by Jude Sierra

Whether it is lore, or underground knowledge; a passing references those of us who have been there and done that will get – many of us recognize our own. When it comes to the ties between fanfiction authors and romance novelists, truthfully, I just thought everyone knew. The whole thing was rather normalized by dialogue within fan communities. I come from an independent publisher (Interlude Press) whose roots were in fandom and who branched out from there. I mention this because Interlude, like many others, recognized the quality and depth of writing and artistry in fan works.

It’s that artistry I really want to focus on here. Whether it’s in the community feedback or in sheer opportunity to write (a lot!) there’s a level skill building for authors that creates transitional opportunities and maturity when moving from one space (fanfiction) to another (published fiction). Every author I spoke to for this article touched on this. For example, Avon Gale (Scoring Chances) described the ways in which fandom taught her to write characters: “When you’re constrained by someone else’s character you really put a lot of thought into every little thing your character does, from actions to voice…inner dialogue, you name it.” Much like Avon, I found that the practice of trying to fit my own stories to existing characters was an instrumental piece of learning how craft.

Fanfiction allows writers to stretch given information in unique new directions. How can we take a high school kid and put him in a world where people have wings? How can we make that a story about how the divisions between those with wings and those without represents class hierarchy, restricts or allows for access to resources, speaks to how social constructs affect our everyday lives…and want readers to care? (Yes, this is a thing I tried to do, thanks Glee!) Fanfiction authors ask devoted fans to take their internal concept and love for a character, plot or story into a voyage that amounts to an incredible leap of faith. To do so, authors have to be able to ground this crazy voyage in something fundamental. I particularly enjoyed fanfiction crafting when the stories that we are given create contradictory moments – how can we stitch together pieces that make no sense or actively contradict each other and make the reader believe them? (I’m looking at you Marvel)

When I spoke with Suzey Ingold (Speakeasy), something that jumped out at me was this – the idea that having characters given to you doesn’t provide a “shortcut”; similarly, having a plot already provided won’t either. Like some of the authors I spoke to (E.M. Ben Shaul, Amy Stilgenbauer, Racheline Maltese), Ingold had experience writing prior to coming to fandom – in her case, in theater and for the screen – but didn’t believe in her ability to write descriptive prose or narrative. Writing fanfiction not only helped her realize she could, but gave her the space to practice and hone those skills. When E.M. Ben Shaul (Flying Without a Net) described her journey from a day job as a technical writer at a software company to published author, fanfiction also came before original fiction: “I started writing fan fiction because…I realized at one point that I had forgotten how to write anything other than short, declarative, action-verb sentences; bulleted lists, and numbered steps. I had forgotten how to write dialogue that sounds like how real people talk.” Importantly, it was in writing fanfiction and skill building – and passion for writing and character – that the main characters for her novel came to her.

For many authors of both fan and published works, the genesis of an original character can be traced to initial interest in writing something in fanfiction. Often, the thing we want to write just doesn’t fit. Loving a story or a unique take on a character enough to see it through – outside of what often becomes a lovey comfort zone with existing readership – is a testament, in my opinion, to craft. Knowing when you’ve stretched something as far as it can go; recognizing when a character demands a unique world and voice; believing in a story enough to take a risk – these are skills we’ve learn through careful attention to character as well as story and world building.


Jude Sierra is a Latinx poet, author, academic and mother who  began her writing career at the age of eight when she immortalized her summer vacation with ten entries in a row that read “pool+tv”. Jude began writing long-form fiction by tackling her first National Novel Writing Month project in 2007. In 2011Jude was introduced to the Glee fan community began writing fanfiction, where her stories garnered thousands of readers.

Jude is currently working toward her PhD in Writing and Rhetoric, looking at the intersections of Queer, Feminist and Pop Culture Studies. She also works as an LGBTQAI+ book reviewer for From Top to Bottom Reviews.  Her novels include Hush,  What it Takes,  and Idlewild, a contemporary LGBT romance set in Detroit’s renaissance, which was named a Best Book of 2016 by Kirkus Reviews. Her upcoming novel, A Tiny Piece of Something Greater will be available in May of 2018.

Social Media Links: Website Twitter Goodreads Facebook


E.M. Ben Shaul is the author of Flying Without a Net, which was published in 2016 by Interlude Press. 

Suzey Ingold is the author of The Willow Weeps for Us, part of the Summer Love Anthology, Speakeasy (Interlude Press), and An Open Letter to the Men that Frighten Me, part of Issue 2 F Word (404 Ink)

Avon Gale is the author of the Scoring Chances series as well as numerous published novels and novellas. She is also co-writing the Hat Trick series with Piper Vaughn and co-wrote Heart of the Steal with Roan Parrish. 


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Contemporary Romance Review: Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell

Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell

Published by: InterMix

Format: mobi

Genre: Contemporary Sports Romance

Order at: Amazon | B&N | Publisher

Reviewed by: Alex

What to Expect: It’s Santino Hassell. What do you think you’re gonna get? You’re going to get hot, snarky, sarcastic dudes making you wish your AC went up to eleven. Or, maybe fifteen. So what’s different? This is the series that could have the tagline: Tight End Seeks Same.

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The Romance of Fan Fiction: Part 1, by Jude Sierra

Hello all! Happiest of Novembers to everyone. This month we wanted to welcome Jude Sierra for two exciting reasons: first for a very first look at her upcoming novel and second, for a four part series she wrote for Binge On Books. Jude will be spending the month of November discussing the intersections between some of her favorite things: fanfiction, romance novels, and authors you know who play in both sandboxes! Jude will be talking with some of your favorite romance authors throughout the month about their fanfiction to original fiction publication stories and just how important fan communities have been to them.

Before we get down to the nitty gritty, there’s one more order of business. It’s been a little while since we’ve seen a new novel by Jude, and we’re excited to announce the details of her upcoming novel, A Tiny Piece of Something Greater.

Blurb: Reid Watsford has struggled with his cyclothemia his whole life. When his grandmother offers him a place to stay at her condo in Key Largo, he decides to leave Wisconsin, his ex, and his family to try to make a fresh start. There he meets Joaquim, a Brazilian wanderer who came to the US looking for adventure, and ended up an intern at the Key Largo Dive Shop. When Reid signs up for his introductory dive classes, it seems an adventure has come to Joaquim—but Reid has a lot of secrets, and a past he can’t quite escape. As their relationship deepens, so do Reid’s complications, something they both must learn to navigate—on their own and with each other.

Coming from Interlude Press on May 17th, 2018. 


The Romance of Fanfiction, part 1 by Jude Sierra

I recently did a teaching module for other teachers on fanfiction as a site rich with creative possibilities, and as one teachers could use in creative writing courses. Writing fanfiction teaches writers how to capture voice and character; as a writer within a world, you’re trying to capture an existing character well enough that your audience is convinced this story could be a continuation or alternate version. This takes skill and insight.

To my surprise, several of the teachers had never heard of fanfiction at all. Earlier in the year, when I’d had the amazing opportunity to meet Judith and spend a day with her at #BookCon (which was a fabulous day, I had an amazing time, our cheekbones were on point in every picture we took), we got to talking about the ties between romance and fanfiction – I was surprised to hear that she was completely unfamiliar with fanfiction as well.

I realized that this is a conversation many people aren’t familiar with: it also made me really want to talk about it, particularly in our community. Many authors we know and love have come from fan communities; many authors were discovered in fan communities. Many of us still participate in fandom and write fanfiction; it’s a very different emotional input and output experience.

Even when the beautiful high of BookCon faded, the desire to have this conversation did not. When Judith put out a call for story ideas for Binge on Books, I was all over that. And what better way to talk about this than with authors who have come from fan communities?

So I sent out a simple tweet asking authors who do or once did write fanfiction to drop me a line. It was the most engaged tweet I have ever had. NO JOKE. 50 responses, and 37 retweets (I’m tiny potatoes, that’s exciting in my world). When I say a lot of your favorite authors come from fanfiction communities, I was not lying.

I don’t want to assume, as I did before, that everyone is familiar with fanfiction or fan communities. So here’s the tiny Prof. Jude Fanfiction 101:

So, at its simplest, fanfiction is fiction written by a fan that continues, alters, or reexamines existing canon. This could be for a TV show, a movie or series, a book, games, etc. Fanfiction can be canon compliant (existing within and working within the constraints of the story we have been given), canon-divergent (diverging from canon but within the realm of what happened) or AU (Alternate Universe), in which we take existing characters and put them into different world, scenarios etc. For example, taking characters from the Hunger Games and putting them in a contemporary high school setting.

Fanfiction is part of what I’ve always described as a gift culture; it is written for no gain or expectation of profit. Fanfiction is written out of love or inspiration. It is a community oriented writing experience. Other fans give a lot feedback; often writers meet and work with betas and with each other collaboratively. It’s a very interactive experience, and often that interaction and gifting of time and love leads to an enrichment and development of writing process.

I am a deep believer that the more you write, the better you get. As did the authors I interviewed.

Upon my approach about an article centered on fanfiction and romance authors, Judith, lovely soul that she is, gifted me with the following — four weeks in which to explore romance roots in fanfiction and what it means for authors and for readers. In the upcoming weeks, watch for conversations with several authors about their roots, their writing stories, and what fanfiction and fan communities continue to mean to them.


Jude Sierra is a Latinx poet, author, academic and mother who  began her writing career at the age of eight when she immortalized her summer vacation with ten entries in a row that read “pool+tv”. Jude began writing long-form fiction by tackling her first National Novel Writing Month project in 2007. In 2011Jude was introduced to the Glee fan community began writing fanfiction, where her stories garnered thousands of readers.

Jude is currently working toward her PhD in Writing and Rhetoric, looking at the intersections of Queer, Feminist and Pop Culture Studies. She also works as an LGBTQAI+ book reviewer for From Top to Bottom Reviews.  Her novels include Hush,  What it Takes,  and Idlewild, a contemporary LGBT romance set in Detroit’s renaissance, which was named a Best Book of 2016 by Kirkus Reviews. Her upcoming novel, A Tiny Piece of Something Greater will be available in May of 2018.

Social Media Links: Website Twitter Goodreads Facebook

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Guest Post + Giveaway: When Romantic Suspense and True Crime Accidentally Meet by Rebekah Weatherspoon

Hi all! Happy Halloween! To help us celebrate this spookiest of holidays, author Rebekah Weatherspoon joins Binge on Books to talk Romantic Suspense and True Crime and also to bring you, a giveaway!


When Romantic Suspense and True Crime Accidentally Meet by Rebekah Weatherspoon

I’ve been a fan of true crime since America’s Most Wanted made me suspicious of every white man over the age of twenty-five. Now-days you could say I’m obsessed. From the old school American Justice and Forensic Files to NBC and CBS’s Dateline and 48 Hours I have a thing for what a friend of mine dubbed “Murder Shows”. Despite this weird interest of mine, I’d never considered writing horror, mystery or romantic suspense. That all changed in 2016. For obvious reasons the world got a little darker. I wanted to write something dark. I wanted to let out a little bit of the anger that was cranking through me. I started drafting HAVEN, which opens with two homicides. When I first picked the location for Shep’s mountain home I didn’t think to google any true crimes in that area. Why would I? I was writing fiction, based on my own imagination.

But, not 24 hours after I started working on HAVEN (I’d written the 2 murders in question and put the heroine and hero through one hell of a meet cute) fellow romance author, HelenKay Dimon tweeted about watching a true crime show on the Keddie Murders. I caught the tweet and just had to google. The Keddie Murders are a horrific, violent crime that resulted in the death of four people back in 1981. It also happened in the same Northern California town where I had set up Shep and his secluded cabin. I couldn’t believe it. Later, when I started listening to the true crime podcast My Favorite Murder, they too, covered the Keddie Murders that are still unsolved to this day. I ended up changing the name of Shep’s mountain because while real life does drive fiction, I didn’t want to link the two that way. The next book in the series, HARBOR, will have an intentional link to the Long Island Serial Killer, an ongoing, unsolved investigation.

 

You can learn more about what happened in Keddie California here or check out episode #13 of My Favorite Murder.

 


Rebekah Weatherspoon is celebrating Halloween with a special HAVEN giveaway! Enter below to win your choice of either an e-copy (international) or paperback (USA) of her bestseller, HAVEN!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


About Haven

A week-long getaway…

City girl Claudia Cade’s carefree life is plunged into chaos when a camping trip with her brother in the national forests of Northern California turns into a deadly dash for her survival.

 

 

 

 


Bio: Award-winning author Rebekah Weatherspoon was raised in Southern New Hampshire and now lives in Southern California where she finally found her love for writing romance.
 Most recently her queer paranormal romance, SOUL TO KEEP, Book 3 in the Vampire Sorority Sisters Series won the Lambda Literary Award for Best LGBTQ Erotica. And her coming romantic suspense title, HARBOR hits shelves Spring 2018. Come on by and get to know Rebekah on twitter at @rdotspoon . You can find more stories by Rebekah at rebekahweatherspoon.com

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Sounds Like Halloween: Day 28 with Anyta Sunday

Anyta Sunday joins Sounds Like Halloween with a reading from her new adult romance, Rock.


About Rock: 

Igneous. 
 
When Cooper’s parents divorce, he finds himself landed in Week About—one week with his mum and one week with his dad. 
Only, it’s not just his dad he has to live with. There’s Lila, too: The other woman, the one who stole the rock-solid foundation of his life.  
And then . . . 

There’s Jace. Lila’s son. Lila’s smug, regurgitated-fish-scale-blue eyed son.  

All Cooper wants is to have his family back the way it once was, but there’s something about this boy that promises things will never be the same again.  
 
Sedimentary. 
 
Resisting the realities of his new life, Cooper and Jace get off to a rocky start. But rocky start or not, after hundreds of shared memories together, they forge something new. A close . . . friendship. 

Because friendship is all they can have. Although it’s not like they are real brothers. Technically, they’re not even stepbrothers . . .  
 
Metamorphic. 
 
But how does that friendship evolve under the pressures of life? Under pressures of the heart? 



About Anyta Sunday: 

Heart-stopping slow burn. 

Anyta is a big, BIG fan of slow-burn romances. She loves to read and write stories with characters who slowly fall in love.

Some of her favorite tropes to read and write are: Enemies to Lovers, Friends to Lovers, Clueless Guys, Bisexual, Pansexual, Demisexual, Oblivious MCs, Everyone (Else) Can See It, Slow Burn, Love Has No Boundaries.

Anyta writes a variety of stories, Contemporary MM Romances with a good dollop of angst, Contemporary lighthearted MM Romances, and even a splash of fantasy. Her books have been translated into German, Italian and French.

Member of Romance Writers of America.

Contact: http://www.anytasunday.com/?page_id=386

Sign up for Anyta’s newsletter and receive a free e-book: http://www.anytasunday.com/?page_id=977 

Author website: http://www.anytasunday.com/ 

Author newsletter signup: http://www.anytasunday.com/newsletter-free-e-book/ 

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/anytasunday 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/anytasunday/ 


Learn more about the Sounds Like Halloween audio series, including authors taking part & what you can expect, here.

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Horror-Romance Anthology, All in Fear, currently on sale! Plus excerpts from each of the stories…

 

Spotlight on: All in Fear! Currently on sale now through 10/31 for only 99 cents!

Authors: Steve Berman, KJ Charles, Avon Gale, Roan Parrish, Kris Ripper, J.A. Rock

Original Release Date: 12/1/16

Available at: Publisher | Amazon | All other retailers


Learn more about the book:

All in Fear: A Collection of Six Horror Tales

Horror wears many faces, and its masks can be tantalizing. Some of the top names in queer fiction come together to spin their own versions of horror. Worlds rife with dark beauty and mystery, the familiar becoming terrible, creatures ethereal and alluring—and all bearing the gleam of love. Does hope lie along these grim passages or only doom? It will become clear. All in time—and all in fear.

Company by Roan Parrish

Nick Levy’s family is falling apart and he has no friends, but at least he can escape into the world of his favorite comic book series, The Face of the Vampire. Naturally, when the vampire in question shows up one day, Nick is enthralled. After all, what could be better than his own personal fantasy made real? Except that Nick isn’t exactly sure whether Michel is real or not. And when the arrival of a new boy in school promises romance, Nick sees a side of Michel he never could have imagined. This Michel is cruel, jealous . . . and he’ll do anything to keep Nick for himself.

Love Me True by Kris Ripper

Palmer’s life is as good as it gets. Well, okay, so he hates his mind-numbing office job. But he’s found a hot, smart, incredibly kinky guy. The sex is explosive. The power play is off the hook. And if he gets his way, Jon will soon be his husband.

When Palmer asks, Jon says yes. For the first time ever, Palmer thinks things might be really good. Sure, bad things happen in the worldto other people. But this is all he needs: Jon at the end of the day, in their bed, arms around him.

How could he have possibly been so stupid?

The Price of Meat by KJ Charles

Johanna Oakley will do anything to save her beloved Arabella from the cruelty of Mr Fogg’s madhouse—but ‘anything’ turns out to be more than she bargained for when she finds herself working for a man suspected of worse than murder. As Johanna is plunged from the horror of Sawney Reynard’s barber shop into the foul, lawless labyrinth at the heart of London, can she or anyone get out alive?

His Mouth Will Taste of Chernobyl by Steve Berman

Joining Zeta Psi isn’t Steve’s dream, it’s his dad’s. Nevertheless his dad’s gift of the mysterious Bailey flask gets Steve an in to the frat house, and maybe his best shot at being accepted on campus. But the flask’s silver sheen may only be lighting his way into the darkness at the heart of the frat—and the darkness he’s learning is within himself. Steve wants to choose who he is, but choices are dropping like flies as he learns the true mystery of the Bailey flask. How does he give back a gift that’s also a curse?

Legion: A Love Story by Avon Gale

STAFF SERGEANT JASON ESSEX, YOU HAVE RECEIVED THE FOLLOWING ORDERS FROM THE UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS:

REPORT TO: CAIN INSTITUTE [ADDRESS REDACTED]

ACTIVE DUTY COMMITMENT: GUARD AN ENTITY CURRENTLY HELD IN AN ENCLOSURE AT THE CAIN INSTITUTE. RECORD DAILY MEASUREMENTS. KEEP ANY AND ALL PERSONS FROM ENTERING OR LEAVING THE FACILITY. ENSURE THE ENTITY REMAINS COMPLETELY INCARCERATED. OBSERVE THE ENTITY WITHOUT ENGAGING.

ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS: THIS ASSIGNMENT WILL BE CARRIED OUT IN FULL ISOLATION. PLEASE BE ADVISED.

Beauties by J.A. Rock

When Dr. Lester Usole attends an event at AI developer Carnificiality, he’s introduced to Beauties: artificial beings designed to provide tailored sexual experiences for their human owners. Lester isn’t interested in sex—but he is fascinated by Ira, a Beauty too violent to be sold.

Lester convinces Carnificiality to give Ira to him. Lester has always wanted the chance to work with an adult AI, and around Lester, Ira isn’t violent. He’s strangely innocent, uncannily perceptive, and his company does much to ease Lester’s loneliness. Except something’s not quite right: Ira roams at night, even when Lester’s sure he’s locked Ira’s door.

Soon Lester is certain of only one thing: Ira has a secret. Something that will link their pasts and change the course of their future—if Lester is willing to face what’s on the inside.


Check out excerpts from each of the stories of ALL IN FEAR:

Excerpt from Company by Roan Parrish:

“Hello, Nicholas,” he said. How the hell did he know my name? I ran through many possible responses and settled, naturally, on the worst one.

        “Did my mom send you after me?” I asked, like a total loser.

        Michel didn’t respond, just cocked his head as if to say, “I am a beautiful and otherworldly creature. Where I come from there is no such thing as mothers.”

        “Are you real?” I asked then, congratulating myself on a slightly more pressing and practical question.

        “Of course,” he said.

        He was just how I’d imagined him: graceful, and beautiful, and so, so lonely. I realized that I had returned his handshake without thinking and was now just standing there, holding his hand and staring like an idiot. At this thought, Michel smiled kindly, and lifted my hand to his lips in a soft, gentlemanly kiss. I’m not proud of it, but it was my first kiss, and even though it was just on my hand, I felt it everywhere.


Excerpt from Love Me True by Kris Ripper:

“Truth or dare, Palmer.” He lay back against the pillows of our bed, still idly playing with the band of his shorts.

“Does this game really work if we already know everything about each other?”

He grinned. “You think we know everything about each other?”

“Oh, come on.” I poked him in the chest. “Do you really have secrets from me, mister?”

“Maybe one or two things that haven’t exactly come up yet.” The grin turned into a smirk. “I don’t tell you everything I think about, Palmer. Aren’t secrets supposed to keep things interesting in a couple?”

I rolled my eyes. “I don’t think we need any help keeping things interesting. Plus, I want to know everything about you. Don’t you want to know everything about me?”

“Uh huh. I really do. So: truth or dare?”

“Truth.”

“Okay. How about . . . when did you know you were in love with me?”


Excerpt from The Price of Meat by KJ Charles:

The doctor grasped her arm. Johanna stamped on his instep with everything she had, wrenched her arm free, and fled out of the terrible room, running for the stairs. Reynard gave a roar that might have been amusement or rage, and at the cry his men rose from the shadows with leering grins and stretching arms. Two moved to the base of the stairs. Johanna changed direction and fled for the other door, driven by the instinct of the hunted fox to seek any hole, and this time, nobody got in her way. She pulled it open, hurtled in, batted aside something heavy and cold that swung from the ceiling—

One of dozens of things, hanging from great hooks, cold and pale and heavy in the dim light from the door, white bone-ends showing where the inedible parts had been trimmed off.  It was a meat store, full of carcasses. The one she’d shoved swung back at her and on its side, like a cattle brand, Johanna saw an anchor-shaped tattoo.

A shadow fell over her. Reynard, with ragged, grinning men at his side, loomed in the doorway.

“Not a bad idea, Miss Oakley. We leave meat here to tenderise, and this should soften you up nicely. A couple of hours should make you more obliging, don’t you think? I’ve got to gather the Freemen for a meeting, but I daresay we can let you out once I’m done, if you ask nice enough.”

He stepped back and shut the door. It slammed on her like the thud of a coffin lid; the bolt scraped on the outside; she was alone in the dark. She hammered on its unyielding surface with her fists, begging and weeping and screaming for release from this dreadful larder, while behind her the dead men creaked and swayed on their hooks, quietly, gently decaying in the dark.


Excerpt from His Mouth Will Taste of Chernobyl by Steve Berman:

As I push open the trapdoor at the top of the ladder, a moist, thick heat trapped within the attic overruns me. The outside daylight seeps through the oddly peaked roof, enough that I can find the dangling cord of a single bare bulb. One pull and I see the attic is really an unfinished elevated crawl space. By the time I worm off the last rung and onto the floor beams, my face feels like a windshield in the rain.

Carl climbs after me. The brothers ordered me to retrieve last year’s Halloween decorations, but Carl volunteered to help. I almost wish he hadn’t because there’s not enough room in the attic for the two of us to move about comfortably. He ends up on his hands and knees beside me.

The cardboard boxes I brush with one hand are mottled with mold and coated with dust. I reach blindly into one box and pull out a cheap plastic devil mask, the scarlet streaked with thick crud.

“I hate Halloween,” Carl says. His pained face is inches away from my shoulder. Dark crescents bloom under his neck, his armpits.

“No one hates Halloween. There’s all you can eat candy. Free candy.”

He shakes his head like a thick-coated dog after a bath and the sweat flies in droplets. “My folks celebrated the ‘harvest’—”

I hold the devil mask in front of my face. The bits of Carl I see through the cut-out eyes look miserable. “That sounds spookier—”

“It’s just pathetic.” Carl reaches out and lifts the mask off me. “I was . . . quieter before I came here.”


Excerpt from Legion: A Love Story by Avon Gale:

Personal Journal

Today I asked Cain if demons really did eat human souls. I expected him to tell me that wasn’t true (they don’t live in a lake of fire, either) but . . . well. Apparently that part of demon-lore is true.

“When I’ve broken these bonds of magic and found those who summoned me, Jason, I’m going to feast on their souls so slowly they will die a thousand deaths before I swallow them.”

That probably should have put an end to my thoughts about getting him out of there, but honestly . . . could I really blame him? If I were kidnapped and put into a cage, experimented on and held against my will, I’d be pretty pissed and looking for revenge, too. Definitely.

“Do you need souls to survive? Like food?” I asked. Because there’s only one human here at the moment. Freeing Cain doesn’t mean I have to be his lunch. At least, I hope it doesn’t mean that.


Excerpt from Beauties by J.A. Rock:

Lester turned in time to see Ira pinch each end of the worm and pull it in half.

“Ira! What are you doing?”

Ira held the two halves up, each one still wriggling. “I want to see what’s on the inside.”

“But that kills the worm. Don’t you know that?”

Ira frowned at the dark half. “It wipes the worm?”

A sharp pain pulsed behind Lester’s right temple. It’s just a worm. Just a worm. It was startling, to see something come apart like that, is all. “It kills the worm,” Lester repeated.

“It doesn’t,” Ira said steadily. “Both halves can live on and become new worms.” The halves curled around Ira’s thumbs in perfect synchronicity, as though Ira had commanded them. “I just wanted to see what was on the inside. Lester.”

Lester didn’t answer. He studied the dark red clots at each end of the severed worm, unable, for a moment, to move.

A pale mass trailing wires like jellyfish tentacles. Lips moving. No screams. The long, spindly appendages of a cancer cell. Shaking in a white hospital bed. Lips moving. Last words. You had to take things apart to make them whole. That was how ABs had been created—by dissecting the human body until it was nothing. By building its echo.

Ira tossed the worm halves aside. “They have nothing on the inside.”


Get to know the authors of ALL IN FEAR:

Steve Berman

Steve Berman loves to tell stories that are both queer and weird. He was a Zeta Psi back in his college days at and remembers being hazed. He survived and graduated and even earned a Masters Degree in Liberal Studies. He has written and sold over a hundred articles, essays, and short stories. His YA novel, Vintage, was a finalist for the Andre Norton Award.

Website: www.steveberman.com

KJ Charles

KJ Charles is a writer and freelance editor. She lives in London with her husband, two kids, and a cat with murder management issues. KJ writes mostly historical romance, mostly queer, often with fantasy or horror in there.

Find her on Twitter @kj_charles, pick up book info and free reads on her website at kjcharleswriter.com, get the infrequent newsletter at kjcharleswriter.com/newsletter, or join her Facebook group, KJ Charles Chat, for sneak peeks and exclusives.

Avon Gale

Avon Gale wrote her first story at the age of seven, about a “Space Hat” hanging on a rack and waiting for that special person to come along and purchase it — even if it was a bit weirder than the other, more normal hats. Like all of Avon’s characters, the space hat did get its happily ever after — though she’s pretty sure it was with a unicorn. She likes to think her vocabulary has improved since then, but the theme of quirky people waiting for their perfect match is still one of her favorites.

Avon grew up in the southern United States, and now lives with her very patient husband in a liberal midwestern college town. When she’s not writing, she’s either doing some kind of craft project that makes a huge mess, reading, watching horror movies, listening to music or yelling at her favorite hockey team to get it together, already. Avon is always up for a road trip, adores Kentucky bourbon, thinks nothing is as stress relieving as a good rock concert and will never say no to candy.

At one point, Avon was the mayor of both Jazzercise and Lollicup on Foursquare. This tells you basically all you need to know about her as a person.

Connect with Avon:

Website: www.avongalewrites.com/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/avongalewrites

Twitter: @avongalewrites

Sign up for Avon’s Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bOXXp9

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/14237686.Avon_Gale

Roan Parrish

Roan Parrish lives in Philadelphia where she is gradually attempting to write love stories in every genre.

When not writing, she can usually be found cutting her friends’ hair, meandering through whatever city she’s in while listening to torch songs and melodic death metal, or cooking overly elaborate meals. She loves bonfires, winter beaches, minor chord harmonies, and self-tattooing. One time she may or may not have baked a six-layer chocolate cake and then thrown it out the window in a fit of pique.

Sign up for her Newsletter to receive updates about new releases, works-in-progress, and bonus materials like sneak peeks and extra scenes! eepurl.com/bmJUbr

Website: www.roanparrish.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/roanparrish

Twitter: @RoanParrish

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/ARoanParrish

Instagram: www.instagram.com/roanparrish

Kris Ripper

Kris Ripper lives in the great state of California and hails from the San Francisco Bay Area. Kris shares a converted garage with a little kid, can do two pull-ups in a row, and can write backwards. (No, really.) Kris is genderqueer and prefers the z-based pronouns because they’re freaking sweet. Ze has been writing fiction since ze learned how to write, and boring zir stuffed animals with stories long before that.

Links:
The site: krisripper.com

The Facebook group: Ripper’s Irregulars: https://www.facebook.com/groups/405062456366636/

The Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/SmutTasticKris

J.A. Rock

J.A. Rock is the author or coauthor of over twenty LGBTQ romance, suspense, and horror novels, as well as an occasional contributor to HuffPo Queer Voices. J.A. has received Lambda Literary and INDIEFAB Award nominations for Minotaur, and The Subs Club received the 2016 National Leather Association-International Pauline Reage Novel Award. J.A. lives in Chicago with an extremely judgmental dog, Professor Anne Studebaker.

Website: www.jarockauthor.com

Blog: http://jarockauthor.blogspot.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jarockauthor

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ja.rock.39


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Sounds Like Halloween: Day 19 with Meredith Duran

Meredith Duran joins Sounds Like Halloween with a reading from her historical romance, Duke of Shadows.


About Duke of Shadows:

From exotic sandstone palaces…

Sick of tragedy, done with rebellion, Emmaline Martin vows to settle quietly into British Indian society. But when the pillars of privilege topple, her fiancé’s betrayal leaves Emma no choice. She must turn for help to the one man whom she should not trust, but cannot resist: Julian Sinclair, the dangerous and dazzling heir to the Duke of Auburn.

To the marble halls of London…

In London, they toast Sinclair with champagne. In India, they call him a traitor. Cynical and impatient with both worlds, Julian has never imagined that the place he might belong is in the embrace of a woman with a reluctant laugh and haunted eyes. But in a time of terrible darkness, he and Emma will discover that love itself can be perilous — and that a single decision can alter one’s life forever.

Destiny follows wherever you run.

A lifetime of grief later, in a cold London spring, Emma and Julian must finally confront the truth: no matter how hard one tries to deny it, some pasts cannot be disowned…and some passions never die.



About Meredith Duran: 

MEREDITH DURAN grew up enamored of British history. At thirteen years old, she made a list of life goals that included writing romance novels, trying sushi, and going to London to see Holbein’s portraits of the Tudor court. She is now happy to report that all three goals have become her favorite things to do. When not writing, she enjoys reading, teaching, knitting, weightlifting, baking, painting (alas, poorly), a full-fledged internet addiction, and the hunting and collecting of dusty travelogues written by nineteenth-century Englishwomen.

Connect with Meredith on her author site.


Learn more about the Sounds Like Halloween audio series, including authors taking part & what you can expect, here.

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Historical Romance review: An Unsuitable Heir by KJ Charles

Title: An Unsuitable Heir by KJ Charles

Published by: Random House LLC

Format: Mobi

Genre: Historical Romance

Order at: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Publisher

Reviewed by: Alex

What to Expect: KJ Charles wraps up the Sins of the Cities trilogy with with a trapeze artist named Pen who won’t compromise gender identity for sake of an earldom and a detective who acknowledges Pen’s true self while knowing he might have to convince Pen to do exactly that in order to save Pen’s life. 


Plot: 

A private detective finds passion, danger, and the love of a lifetime when he hunts down a lost earl in Victorian London.

On the trail of an aristocrat’s secret son, enquiry agent Mark Braglewicz finds his quarry in a music hall, performing as a trapeze artist with his twin sister. Graceful, beautiful, elusive, and strong, Pen Starling is like nobody Mark’s ever met—and everything he’s ever wanted. But the long-haired acrobat has an earldom and a fortune to claim.

Pen doesn’t want to live as any sort of man, least of all a nobleman. The thought of being wealthy, titled, and always in the public eye is horrifying. He likes his life now—his days on the trapeze, his nights with Mark. And he won’t be pushed into taking a title that would destroy his soul.

But there’s a killer stalking London’s foggy streets, and more lives than just Pen’s are at risk. Mark decides he must force the reluctant heir from music hall to manor house, to save Pen’s neck. Betrayed by the one man he thought he could trust, Pen never wants to see his lover again. But when the killer comes after him, Pen must find a way to forgive—or he might not live long enough for Mark to make amends.

Review: 

While I haven’t read the entire KJ Charles oeuvre, the stories I have read are about careful, thoughtful lovers in the Victorian age. Interesting time to be queer. It’s an age with visible homosexuality and an age gearing up toward the 1885 legislation that will make private acts between consenting men blatantly illegal. The same legislation that will land Oscar Wilde in gaol in 1896. 

But the Victorian era, known for sexual repression, was categorized by an awful lot of talk about sex and, thanks to one sexologist Havelock Ellis, created a term called sexual inversion, which was used to describe a reversal of gender traits as an inborn mechanism. The term was used across the spectrum of homosexuality and gender identity but perhaps it was most closely descriptive of transgenderism—a term that was introduced a century later. 

(Don’t get too excited about this guy Ellis. He was also a proponent for Eugenics. Jerk.)

*Cough*

I rudely interrupted myself. What was I saying?

Oh, yeah.

Enter Pen.

Who doesn’t have the language to describe how odd it feels to have large hands and broad shoulders, despite the fact they have uncommon body awareness to fly on the trapeze. It was interesting to consider a character who know who they were (Pen’s identity wasn’t in question for himself) but because of this lack of common vocabulary (which is remains topics of many Twitter threads today), Pen was wary of the constant requirement to adhere to a standard that simply didn’t suit them.

Enter Mark.

Who sees Pen authentically. Conversely, Pen sees Mark (a one-armed Polish man who has long ago worked out how to perform daily tasks, though others see him as defective) for who he is as well. This ongoing discussion and validation is nice to see. In fact, KJ Charles often writes about the perspective of those who are seen as ‘others’ or ‘outliers’ to standard white bread society. She writes with a lot of kindness and patience and, I suspect, with the hope of raising awareness so we (as a whole) can elevate how we treat those around us.

I was invested. And as much as I didn’t quite fall in love with this couple as much as Nathaniel and Justin, I did (on more than one occasion) pick up my e-reader just after closing it just to read another few lines, which became some more pages, which became chapters.

This trilogy demonstrates why KJ Charles has such a dedicated following. If you don’t pick up this series, pick up another; the choice on whether or not to read her books is a no-brainer.

What you may not like: As referenced above, there is such care put into how her lovers treat each other, how they navigate each other’s ‘otherness’ — not just accepting their lover but constantly, consistently, repetitively accepting their lover. Unfortunately, this wore down my interest, possibly because I was already onboard with these concepts. Similarly, in book #3 (which this is), there was a lot of revisiting of what had happened in prior books. Perhaps it was necessary for those who read the prior books in the series some time ago. I felt it could have been more subtle. 

There is also one point in which Pen seems to have adopted a new pronoun but because it was said by Mark rather than Pen themselves, I was uncomfortable. This is in part because there were several instances in this story in which Mark proceeded to move against Pen’s explicit wishes (which is likely the other reason I didn’t love them together). It is very difficult to run roughshod over a lover’s wishes and is, perhaps, unforgivable to many readers. I’m still mulling it over (Though in real life? No. I’d be raising hell if that happened to a friend of mine. No forgiveness, know what I’m saying?)

What you will love: The authentic Victorian London experience – complete with smells, fog, livelihood, trendy words, and lots (and lots) of tea. The relationships supersede the mystery but, even so, the plot was interesting, especially as it grew over the course of the three books. Mostly, I loved the community, how each character remains imperfect, but also perfectly, wonderfully loved. Because, really, her characters are perfectly, wonderfully lovable.


Alex claims to read more than any normal, healthy adult should though the rest of the Binge on Books team would beg to differ. You can read all of his reviews here.

Connect with Alex on Twitter: @Alex_deMorra

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Sounds Like Halloween: 31 Days of Authors in Audio

What does Halloween sound like?

The wind blowing through the trees. A noise in the dark where no noise is supposed to be. The rev of a chainsaw, a lone meow, a scream calling out into the wilderness–and then cut off just as quickly. These are the sounds of horror and terror; of spooky nights and chilling days where you don’t want to sleep for fear of never waking up. Where you pray for the nights to be over. These are the sounds of Halloween.

Get ready to enter a literary world where these sounds come to life…

From October 1st through 31st, Binge on Books is hosting an audio series featuring authors from across books reading the spookiest, scariest, most terrifyingly horrible scenes they’ve ever written. Whether it’s Romance or Sci-Fi, Fantasy or Thrillers, scary stories abound and we are bringing them to you in audio. Sounds Like Halloween asks you to ask yourself…

…what really terrifies you?

Read More

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Guest Review: Romantic Thrillers: Playing with Fire by G.J. Phoenix

 

A too-good-to-be-true job opportunity. A mystery of life and death proportions. Help sought from the most unlikely of places. All of these are what makes the beginning of a thriller. Then, person meets person, and sparks fly. You just found yourself in a romantic thriller, let the magic begin.

I think my love of romantic thrillers began when a friend gave me Iris Johansen’s Wind Dancer series. In typical romantic thriller way, it snuck up on me. Starting with a historical, Wind Dancer moved from the Italian Renaissance to Revolutionary France straight to modern times. I didn’t realize just how much I loved it until I immediately went online and tracked down the rest of Johansen’s work. By the time I finished the Eve Duncan series, I was a goner. Tess Gerritsen, JD Robb, Catherine Coulter, and so many others became staple in my TBR pile.

Most people know Gerritsen as the momma of Rizzoli and Isles. I recently read Playing with Fire, released in 2015. This book was dark, twisty, and all kinds of thrilling goodness. When Julia finds an unpublished waltz in an old book of sheet music at a sketchy antique dealer in Italy, I had no idea how dark Gerritsen was going to go.

Then Julia goes home to loving husband, Rob, and adorable toddler Lily and things got pitch black. (trigger warning: animal violence almost made me put the book to the side, but this author is usually worth it, so I kept going).

Julia plays the waltz she found, and her daughter instantly changes from a beloved doll to … well, Annabel. As she fights for herself, her family and mostly her child; Julia flies back to Italy determined to find out why the music transformed her baby into a demon. Or did it? Playing with Fire is two stories which are eventually brought together in the end. Told at the same time, is the heartbreaking story of Lorenzo and Laura, who meet and fall in love just as World War II turns their homeland into a place of nightmares. Gerritsen, a musician herself, writes about other musicians with passion, insight, and understanding that really can’t be faked. She even composed the waltz Julia found and had it recorded. You can listen to it on her website!

Both of these stories are told at a fast clip, you will get paper cuts from turning pages to keep up. Seriously, Tess Gerritsen makes you feel like you’re sitting next to the characters on a roller coaster and the next plummet will either be epic, or everyone’s going to die. The ending isn’t typical for most romance readers, but I still really enjoyed it. The combination of mystery, horror, historical, and romance is a strong one and will definitely place Playing with Fire on my favorite Gerritsen list.


About G.J. Phoenix: As a child, I got to ride the lightening and a dreamer was born. I stood on the top of the world, and traveled to the lowest point that can support life. I got to swim with dolphins and sharks, some of which were on dry land. I didn’t shoot the Sheriff but I definitely knifed the deputy–he looked at me funny. My life has taken me to many exotic places, and I was honored to meet some truly amazing people. I learned about God and religion through the stories people were kind enough to share with me, and the books I read.

The truth is, in one way or another, most of my books are based on real people, facing hellish problems, involving intriguing legends or myths, and finding solutions through the power of hope.

I’m G.J. Nice to meet you. Please spend some time and get to know me as well as my family-the characters in my books. My newest romantic thriller, God Remains, third installment of my Ethiopian Chronicles series, is due in stores before the end of the year.  Let’s see if the prince of Ethiopia can steal the heart of the queen of thieves. Cheers!

Connect with G.J. Phoenix: Website  |  Books  |  Book Trailer  | Twitter  |  Facebook


 

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