Category Archives: Leta Blake

Biting My Nails And, Oh, So Curious! Ginn Hale – The Rifter Series #fantasy #amreading

I had a plan to write about some older series I have loved, like, say, Frank Herbert’s Dune or L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, but recently I started reading The Rifer Series by Ginn Hale and it has consumed my heart and brain!

Book One

The Rifer is a fantasy series set between earth and another plane. It  leaps through time and place, building a world that I can see clearly in my mind with every word. I had read and loved both Wicked Gentlemen (need a sequel!) and The Lord of the White Hell (1 & 2)  so I am not surprised that The Rifter series had gobbled up my brain, but I suppose I am surprised at the extent that I feel Hale has improved in her skills. The jumping through time, the building of the world, all feels quite masterful, like this kind of thing has started to come to her like breathing. There are so few places where you see the author at work.

I am emotionally invested in all of the characters. They all have so much to lose and she’s placed them in such utterly impossible situations. I am most driven, however, by my insatiable curiosity. The leaps through time, the interactions between different characters in different time lines all makes me desperately hungry for the information to put the pieces together. If, for you, part of a good reading experience is the sense of being compelled to go forward, of feeling constantly in a state of, “How? But why? Is this going to be fixed? Oh, god, my heart!”, then this is the kind of reading experience for you.

I am only in Book Three (Black Blades) currently, so I fully admit that with seven books to go everything could go to shit and what looks like masterful world-building could become a total disaster, but, uh, I’m an optimist, okay? And I’m feeling sure this series is going to rock my world and my heart. I suspect you should let it rock yours, too.

GO FORTH AND CHECK IT OUT! 🙂

By the way, the books are available on Amazon, but they are listed there out of order. So, be sure to read them as follows:

1. The Shattered Gates
2. Servants of the Crossed Arrows
3. Black Blades
4. Witches’ Blood
5. The Holy Road
6. Broken Fortress
7. Enemies and Shadows
8. The Silent City
9. The Iron Temple
10. His Holy Bones

The story skips around in time so much that if you don’t read in the right order, I imagine it would actually be possible to not realize it for quite some time! I solved that problem by buying it directly from Blind Eye Books. It is available in both ebook and print form. I have a feeling this will be one that I re-buy just to have the print books!

Oh, and another favorite series of mine, though I admit to being a bit biased, is the one I write with Keira Andrews! Our Tempting Tales Series, but of course! The latest of which, a stand alone sexy m/m re-imagining of The Twelve Dancing PrincessesLove’s Nest, is available on Amazon, B&N, All Romance EBooks, and Ellora’s Cave.

Also, if you’re interested in Love’s Nest, August 16th is the last day to comment over at Stumbling Over Chaos for a chance to win a free copy of Love’s Nest!

And, lastly, if you’ve never read Ginn Hale’s other work, do check it out. She’s got a gift for making me love her books. And look at this! Who wouldn’t want to read something written by a woman wearing these glasses?

Ginn Hale

Keira Andrews and Leta Blake write fairy tale inspired m/m erotica and romantica with Ellora’s Cave. Check out Love’s Nest, available on Wednesday through Ellora’s Cave! And also remember to look at Earthly Desires and Ascending Hearts, the first two books in the Tempting Tales series, available for purchase at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and Ellora’s Cave.

Stiles Doesn’t Want to be Robin to His Bestie’s Batman All the Time #teenwolf

Teen Wolf’s Stiles Stilinski is 140 lbs of pale skin and fragile bones and believes sarcasm is his only defense. The reality is that Stiles is 140 lbs of all things good in the world.

His affection and loyalty for his best friend, Scott, the (supposed) hero of the show can’t be underestimated. Like Buffy, he’s saved the world–or at least Scott–a lot, and while he’s hilarious, always bringing the laughs, he has the scars to show for all the pain he’s faced in the world.

If you can watch, oh, I don’t know, six full episodes of Teen Wolf and not fall for Stiles Stilinski, then I’m pretty sure we can’t be friends. 😉

This fanvid explains all that his hilarious and awesome about Stiles. Watch it and learn why to know him is to laugh and love him.

And this fanvid explains Stiles’ pain. And, lo, does he have the pain. He’s not just sarcasm. He’s a deep abyss of feels, yo.

Seriously, after watching those, don’t you love Stiles? And want to give him hugs and cookies? And be his best friend? And encourage him to snuggle up with you and just breathe in his scent? Um, *cough*, maybe that’s just me.

Speaking of sidekicks, in our latest book, Love’s Nest, our hero, Mateo, has a funny, life-long sidekick in his twin sister, Luz. But when their relationship changes due to secrets Luz is withholding from him, Mateo is led to a new life of passion and fairy magic. Love’s Nest is out on Wednesday! Be sure to check it out! We’re really excited about this release!

Keira Andrews and Leta Blake write fairy tale inspired m/m erotica and romantica with Ellora’s Cave. Check out Love’s Nest, available on Wednesday through Ellora’s Cave! And also remember to look at Earthly Desires and Ascending Hearts, the first two books in the Tempting Tales series, available for purchase at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and Ellora’s Cave.

What I Need to Write

What I need to write can be pretty much summed up by the above picture. I need music on and the world turned off. What I need to edit, though, is music off and world off. Editing and writing go hand-in-hand but are definitely not the same thing. When I’m writing, music helps set tone, mood, and rhythm. A fast-paced song can lead to a fast, upbeat scene. A slow, sad song can help me reach the emotional levels of despair that I need to plumb in order to get the write words to express a character’s pain.

When I’m editing, such things are usually a distraction. I recognize that the reader won’t be consuming my book with the soundtrack I wrote it to playing in the background, so I edit in silence. This keeps my mind free of distraction and helps me to see if I really did hit all of the emotional points as soundly as I needed to hit them.

The most important aspect of writing or editing, though, is world off. I can’t get much accomplished when I’m distracted. I need to know that I’ve got a solid hour of near-solid time that I can really get my head in the right space. When I’m writing or editing, my child might come in and ask me something and I have to work really hard to make any sense of what she’s saying. I have a feeling that as a pre-teen she’ll figure out how to work this to her advantage. So a quiet place, alone, with nothing to pull my mind away is what I need to edit.

Everyone is different, though. I have a friend who writes in silence and listens to classical while she edits. I have another friend who does her best work in busy cafes. The thing is, if you write, find out what you need and seek it relentlessly.

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Keira Andrews and Leta Blake write fairy tale inspired m/m erotica and romantica with Ellora’s Cave. Check out Ascending Hearts, available through Ellora’s CaveAmazonBarnes & NobleSony, and others! And also remember to look at Earthly Desires, the first book in the Tempting Tales series, available for purchase at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and Ellora’s Cave.

The Only Real Advice You Can Give Anyone Is To Keep Writing ~ David Sedaris

1. Keep the drama on the page.

I first heard this writing advice from a woman in a Writing Marathon Group. Essentially, the lesson here is to not let your life get so bogged down in drama that you don’t have the emotional room or time to write. Don’t lose your days to bullshit concerns like who said what to whom, or get dragged into making poor choices that end up giving you real life consequences that eat into your mind and erode your ability to get words on the page. If you’re going to have drama in your life? Keep it on the page. Write it into a story where it only hurts your poor, hapless characters; don’t let it hurt you or your productivity.

2. Write for only one person.

I heard this advice only two weeks ago from a friend who heard it from her writing coach. Don’t let the voices of your editors, your friends, the crowd, the reviewers, and the polls about what “our readers” want tell you what you can or can’t write. If you do that, you’ll no longer be able to hear your own inner voice and you’ll be paralyzed with fear. You’ll think things like, “I can’t write this story in first person! Everyone hates first person!” or “I can’t have the other love interest be a woman because the main m/m review sites won’t look at a story if there’s a woman in it, too!”

If you think those thoughts, your creativity dies. It shrivels up into a corner and starts to cry, “Everyone hates me, nobody loves me, guess I’ll go eat worms.” Then it will sit there and refuse to move, letting your miserable writerly self stew in panic over how you can’t write anymore!

Yep, that’s what will happen. So! Write for one person and one person only. No matter who it might be. It’s okay for that person to be your best friend, or that one reader you know will love the concept, or perhaps best and most freeing of all, write it for yourself.

3. Don’t get caught up in ideas of what you should be writing. Write whatever the hell you want to write. Write trash, write smut, write hoity-toity literature, write gay romance, write heterosexual romance, write threesomes, fivesomes, westerns, space-cowboys, write about circuses or trash collectors. Don’t cut yourself off from your creative source by deciding what kind of writer you want to be and sticking only to that.

People will tell you that diversification is bad because your following only wants to read what you’ve fed them in the past. Well, creativity doesn’t thrive on reproducing the same book again and again, and readers will either follow you into something new or or they won’t. Your creativity, though, won’t stick around while you batter it against the same wall again and again. If you do that, what you once loved–writing–will become a dreadful chore.

4. That’s right. It’s okay for your book to not be okay. It’s okay for it to not be perfect or even really good. It’s okay if people don’t like it. It’s okay if it only sells four copies. It’s okay.

Do you know why it’s okay? Because you wrote a motherfucking book! And not everyone does that. You know that quote, right? The one about perfection being the enemy of good? At some point just be done with your book. There’s a ‘good enough’ point that must be reached in order to let your book live in the hands of readers. Bow to that and submit fully to it. Be okay with the outcome. After all….

You wrote a motherfucking book!

5. Make peace with the fact that you’re not Jonathan Lethem or Catherynne Valente or Ernest Hemingway or any writer other than yourself. Make peace with the fact that you’re not going to be in TIME or win a prize. Make peace with that reality and write your books to the very best of your ability–and it might turn out that you were wrong. But even if you weren’t wrong, you wrote a damn book. Good on you!

5. Yep, that’s right. Every book is a new creature and you’re going to have to face that fact. Don’t let the new and daunting stop you from going forward. Every writer struggles at times, some books are easier than others, and you just have to keep on keeping on.

6. What’s the most important thing to do as a writer? We all know the answer. The single most important thing you can do to become a successful writer is…*drum roll*…

FINISH YOUR WORK!!!!!

That’s right. That’s the single most important thing you can do to become a successful writer. Why’s that? Because if you finish nothing then you’ll never sell anything either. You have to start somewhere and that means you’ve got to have a finished product. Embrace “good enough” and finish your book. Don’t get overly distracted by the pretty, shiny of a new idea, or let yourself quit when the going gets tough. If you get bored, come at it from a new angle, introduce a new point of view, or throw away part of it. Embrace the rewrites. Just don’t quit and don’t stop. Finish. Your. Work.

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Keira Andrews and Leta Blake write fairy tale inspired m/m erotica and romantica with Ellora’s Cave. Check out Ascending Hearts, available through Ellora’s CaveAmazonBarnes & NobleSony, and others! And also remember to look for Earthly Desires, the first book in the Tempting Tales series, available for purchase at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and Ellora’s Cave.

Calling the Love Scene

Love scenes! What makes ’em? What breaks ’em? What’s hot? What’s not? Oh, there are so many ways to answer these questions and there is no doubt that everyone, just like in life, has their own cuppa when it comes to the written sex scene.

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An auspicious start to a love scene, I must say!

For me, I’ve noticed I’m either into a quick start, where the characters jump into bed immediately due to uncontrollable passion, which then evolves into romantic, emotional love making eventually, or I’m into the long, drawn out UST that is resolved with intense, long, endless sex scenes that make your toes curl.

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click to buy

Interestingly, though, I realize that the two books I wanted to talk about today have a bit of both. The relationship in the first book, Calling Pomegranate by Nisha-Anne D’Souza, begins with one of the least sexy, most uncomfortable sex scenes I’ve ever read. The characters are strangers, the sex is obviously not very pleasurable to either, and the motivations for it are boredom and fucked-up-ness on both sides.

After that, via a series of really difficult, and often unpleasant encounters, we see the characters start to develop feelings, almost like tentacles that reach out and entwine with the other person’s soul, leaving them embedded in each other’s lives even when they’d really rather not be. The sex scenes during this portion of the story are beautifully written, with crisp, sexy imagery, but even so I’m not quite there with the relationship, so I’m not entirely breathless from them. (Though I am definitely breathless from the lovely quality of the writing.)

Finally, about halfway through the story, we reach a point where the tentacles–I hasten to add these are metaphorical tentacles, not actual tentacles! it’s not that kind of book!–reaching between them have started to grow stronger, weakening the walls they’ve got up around them to the point that the start to soften entirely, their tender selves showing through the cracks forced open by these binding moments between them.

At that point, the sex becomes a massive mindfuck of intensity. How much will they give up to each other? How much more absorbed can they be before it ceases to be functional, as it is now, and inspiring, as it is now, and becomes a mash of obsession nearly as sick as the careless hurtfulness of their early encounters? And that’s where I’ve left off reading, so I can’t tell you what happens after that.

What I do know is that the sex scenes in the book so far are exquisite in ways I can only tell you to check out for yourself. They were so well done that they kept me reading during some difficult passages in the book when I couldn’t decide if I loathed the characters or only found them tolerable. At this point, I’m glad I carried on. There are sex scenes in this book that will forever inspire and make me think about how to go forward with any given sex scene I’m writing.

I will cop to the fact that there are probably too many sex scenes in this book. And this is me talking, so if I say too many, then there are probably too many. (Because I love sex scenes! Love ’em! So much!) But as I approach each one, sometimes thinking to myself, “Oh, really, another sex scene?” I find myself seduced by it. Each one is so entirely different, separate, and psychologically important to the development of the relationship that I can understand why Ms. D’Souza found it impossible to cut any particular one. I often go into the scene thinking, “I bet this one could’ve been done away with.” And then leave the scene thinking, “But would I have wanted to miss out on that?” And the answer has always been no.

A sample:

So I bore down and she moaned harder, rising to meet me, faster and breathless and lovely. A slight sheen of sweat was slipping down my back but it was so much hotter inside her and getting wetter all the time.

“Oh god, Sean,” she gasped and I leaned down now, pressed my abdomen hard against hers, ducked my head and shoulders so I could bury my face into her hair, my elbows deep in the mattress and fists curled as her thighs and arms came around me and she took me in as deep as she could, my cock aching, brain delirious, as my balls tightened, pulled hard into the orgasm so close. I tilted my face up and bit the underside of her chin. I got my teeth in, fucked her sharper, and felt it as she trembled on the edge and then came in a tide of cries and convulsions, her cunt wet and crushing along the length of my cock. That was all I needed. I lifted and fitted my mouth over hers, kissed her and felt I was kissed back as I came, hard and endless and devastating, into her.

Excerpt From: Nisha-Anne D’Souza. “Calling Pomegranate.” iBooks.
This material may be protected by copyright.

And another brief sample highlighting some of what I love about the writer’s choices with this book:

From under my other arm, I watched the shapes of leaves change on the sunlit ceiling. My mind was empty, vast, but slowly thought was creeping back along the edges. I could smell her, could smell us, the sticky heady aroma of her come and mine, and it was blending in this hideous fantastic way with her perfume and our sweat and my mother’s flowers.

Excerpt From: Nisha-Anne D’Souza. “Calling Pomegranate.” iBooks.
This material may be protected by copyright.

BUY CALLING POMEGRANATE

casket

This love scene didn’t end well at all, now did it?

Now, I want to talk about another book, briefly, which some smoking hot m/m sex scenes, because we all know that’s my most favorite cuppa when it comes to reading. For reasons. Which I shall explain to you another day, but for now let’s just go with this gif as reason enough!

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Well, hello, smokin’ hotness!

In Skylar M. Cates’ debut novel, Exposed, there are some seriously smoking hot sex scenes. I’ve given some thought to what make them so hot, because it’s not UST, that’s for dang sure. I think it is my other kryptonite: serious sexual chemistry that deepens over time to have emotional consequences for both parties. Against their wills. It’s emotional dubcon! Ha! Seriously, though, it kind of is. Neither party wants to fall in love and, yet, they do. And it leads to some seriously wonderful, sexy, wild sex between them.

In the reviews for this book, you’ll sometimes see things like, “Too much sex!” But, uh, no. That’s inaccurate. Not too much sex. Sorry. If you didn’t like the sex in this then…well, I don’t even know, man. I don’t even know.

I should probably talk more about the reasons this sex is so hot. Let’s see–two alpha males, both prone to temper in their own way, but one with a cold temper and the other with a hot head, and you’ve got the recipe for some raging hot sex. Throw in a set up where one of them can’t be honest, and the other is being honest for the first time in years? You’ve got emotional angst to ramp up that hot sex times ten! I can’t recommend it enough for the sex scenes alone. Yowza.

BUY EXPOSED

Clearly, I have a thing for casual sex turning into deep emotional sex. That’s what’s come out of this post, huh? Yeah. Okay, well, hopefully you’ll buy these two books and enjoy them as much as I did!

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Keira Andrews and Leta Blake write fairy tale inspired m/m erotica and romantica with Ellora’s Cave. Check out Ascending Hearts, available through Ellora’s CaveAmazonBarnes & NobleSony, and others! And also remember to look at Earthly Desires, the first book in the Tempting Tales series, available for purchase at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and Ellora’s Cave.

Favorites Through the Years

This shall be a walk through my favorite books, literature or not, through the years. You could probably map out something important about my mind from just reading these books, something rather intimate.

Anne 1987
Oh, Anne, thank you for everything. The best book a girl child made of wonder and imagination could ever read.

dune-cover
Obsessed with this book and series for about three years. Looking back, it’s quite misogynistic, but it otherwise had everything I’d ever wanted in a book.

medium_deathless_catvalente
This book is a mind map, a heart map, a battle between choosing Life and choosing to Live. Not always the same and often exclusive.

middlemarch
The passionate past and all its prejudices, horrors, loves, and losses in a book.

suitableboy
A whole life, an entire existence, everything and more delivered between two covers. Fall into it and live there awhile.

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The book that owned me. Might even still own me. There is no book like this book and you’ll either love or hate it. But I loved it. I still love it. It pretty much devours my heart and mind whenever I even think about it. Read it and feel something powerful.

The Curse of Levity and the Love of Gravity

thelightprincess

The truth is, I have a ton of favorite fairy tales, the darker the better. Bluebeard or The Wild Swans, for example, appeal to that side of me. But there is no doubt that one of my all time favorites is The Light Princess by George MacDonald. Given that the story centers around a princess who has been cursed to lose her gravity, one might image it to be a light tale, full of humor and jokes. It isn’t that at all, however. There are few crueler things than someone who cannot empathize with pain or sadness and The Light Princess demonstrates that well.

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In fact, I was so inspired by the many questions the story brings up about the ties between an ability to experience pain and the ability to experience love, that the first fairy tale Keira and I worked on for our Tempting Tales series was an erotic, m/m rewrite of the story. We chose it because the themes were so fascinating, but also because when the gender of the protagonists change from a m/f story to a m/m story, it highlights those issues even more by removing the sharp edge of misogyny inevitably present in the original work.

The outcome of our experiment is titled Earthly Desires, and we are quite proud of it.

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An Excerpt from Earthly Desires

Dmitri didn’t understand it, but as he gazed at Efrosin’s lips, he felt a heretofore unfamiliar, and yet compelling surge of need pulse through him, and before he could stop himself, he leaned forward and kissed those lips. The answering gasp, followed by more laughter that seemed to fill his own mouth and tickle against his palate, did not discourage him at all.

Efrosin’s lips were soft and his tongue was slick and he didn’t pull away from Dmitri’s clumsy attempt, but rather deepened the kiss in a way that made Dmitri’s toes curl and blood rush to his cock. For a confused moment he thought he was kissing an angel before he remembered that he was only kissing a prince. A free-floating, beautiful, powerful, laughing prince. Perhaps “only” was not quite the proper word.

“Lovely,” Efrosin exclaimed, pulling away and licking his lips. “I hope you intend to ravish me, because I have always imagined it would be quite fun to be ravished. No one’s ever tried it with me, alas.” Efrosin frowned a little and licked his mouth. “You taste like dirt. It’s delicious, though I’ve never enjoyed the taste of dirt before. How odd.”

“You taste like clouds,” Dmitri said, hoping it was a compliment.

“I ate quite a few during my journey to this tree,” Efrosin said. “I…feel a bit strange. Quick. Kiss me again.”

Dmitri, reminded of Efrosin’s perilous flight, came to his senses, and while he was not willing to say that he would not kiss the prince again, he did think there were just a few things that should be accomplished first. “We must get you down.”

Efrosin frowned, seeming much less intent on getting back to the earth now that he had company in the tree. “But you will kiss me again?”

“Once we’re safe.” Dmitri looked down to choose which limbs they should try, and immediately wished he hadn’t. His head swirled with the distance between his body and the earth below. He’d never before climbed so high.

“Safe is such a thrilling state of being. I can’t remember the last time I felt safe. Grip my hands,” Efrosin said. “Don’t let go.”

Dmitri took Efrosin’s smooth hands into his own, and Efrosin began to shake with amusement again. “Your calluses tickle. Now, hold tight. It will be fun.”

“What will be?” Dmitri asked.

“Jump.”

“What?”

“We are tied hand and foot, and you have hold of my hands. All will be well. Trust me.”

It was surprisingly hard to trust laughing royalty. “We’ll die. It’s too far.”

“Too far? What a silly notion.”

Dmitri’s last thought when Efrosin kicked his feet out from under him with a strong swipe was, At least I got to kiss him. They tumbled into the air, crashing into branches below until Efrosin pushed off against the tree trunk, thrusting them both clear. It was only then Dmitri realized how slowly the ground rose up to meet them.

“Your weight to bring us down,” Efrosin sang in his ear. “My levity to keep us from being quite smashed.” There was more laughter, and then a curl of words in his ear, which, coupled with the rush of adrenaline coursing through his veins, made Dmitri’s cock stiffen against the hard bone of Efrosin’s hip. “And you will ravish me, won’t you? Once we’re on the ground. You promised. You’re so handsome, and your hands are so big. I’m aquiver at the thought of you on me, in me, touching me—”

“Oh my God,” Dmitri choked. “Do you speak to everyone who gets you down from trees this way?”


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Buy Earthly Desires at Ellora’s CaveAmazonBarnes & NobleSony and All Romance eBooks.


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Keira Andrews and Leta Blake write fairy tale inspired m/m erotica and romantica with Ellora’s Cave. Check out Ascending Hearts, available through Ellora’s Cave, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Sony, and others! And also remember to look at Earthly Desires, the first book in the Tempting Tales series, available for purchase at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and Ellora’s Cave.

Bullet-Proof Kinks – Hurt/Comfort and DubCon

According to one definition, a bulletproof kink is a story element a fanfiction reader likes or is turned on by regardless of poor writing quality, implausibility, or unsavory plot elements.

Most readers have something that they just can’t get enough of whether they are consciously aware of that fact or not. It doesn’t have to be something that fits the more common idea of kink–like leather or gags. It just needs to be something that the reader gets hot and bothered about whether that reaction is reasonable or not. For some folks, it’s something as simple as reading about neck kissing, or regular sized women, or buying a dog together.

Keira’s bullet-proof kink is hurt-comfort. Have one protagonist be injured or sick while his love interest must stand by and cope with all the feelings of helplessness that brings on and then follow that up with a great deal of comforting of the unwell party? Keira is on board that train! She’s chugging out of the station! Whoo-hoo! All aboard!

I'm willing to bet some money that this fanart of Stiles and Derek from Teen Wolf makes Keira feel fluttery and hot inside.

I’m willing to bet some money that this fanart of Stiles and Derek from Teen Wolf makes Keira feel fluttery and hot inside.

And then there’s me. Yes, it should be known that I am pretty much the depraved one of this writing team. My bullet-proof kink? The thing I’ll read horrible, terribly written books or stories in order to get my fix of? Yes, that would be the very pervy dubcon, also known as dubious consent.

Let me be clear, in actual life I am a firm believer in good, clear consent. Every party of every sexual encounter must be able to enthusiastically consent to sex without any feeling of coercion, manipulation, or other imposing circumstance.

But in fiction and fantasy? Well, let’s just say that my earliest semi-sexual fantasies involved me being Robin (of Batman and Robin), and I’d been kidnapped, and said kidnappers were doing terribly wonderful-feeling things to me as a form of ‘torture’ while Batman frantically tried to rescue me. When it comes to fantasy, I am all for consent being incredibly suspect.

That guy is passed out, yo! You do not have consent to press your lips on his! Oooh, um, maybe that's kinda hot in this fantasy where Dean kisses Castiel.

That guy is passed out, yo! You do not have consent to press your lips on his! Oooh, um, maybe that’s kinda hot in this fantasy where Dean kisses Castiel.

I have been known to read pages and pages of complete crap simply because the set up and follow through hinted at dubcon. It doesn’t matter to me if it is Fuck or Die, Sex Pollen, or Aliens Made Them Do It. If it’s dubcon, I’m in.

Now, does it matter if the story is well-written? Of course. I’d much prefer that it was! Anyone would, but I’m even willing to overlook the use of epithets* (usually an automatic DNF for me) for some halfway well-done dubcon sex scenes. I’m just wrong in the head like that, okay? I make no apologies for the Cat Aliens dubcon I read the other day, okay? It’s my bullet-proof kink. My hands were tied.

*epithets: an adjective or descriptive phrase expressing a quality regarded as characteristic of the person or thing mentioned. Nothing kills a book or story for faster than the use of ‘the dark haired man’ or ‘the beautiful ballerina’ once we already know the characters’ names. If dubcon is my bullet-proof kink, then epithets are my bullet-proof turn off. Uh, unless dubcon is applied and then dubcon cancels out the epithets.


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Keira Andrews and Leta Blake write fairy tale inspired m/m erotica and romantica with Ellora’s Cave. Check out Ascending Hearts, available through Ellora’s Cave, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Sony, and others! And also remember to look at Earthly Desires, the first book in the Tempting Tales series, available for purchase at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and Ellora’s Cave.

When Zombies aren’t Zombies, and When Zombie Stories Take You by Surprise

Today, Amelia Gormley, author of The Impulse Trilogy is guest blogging for Keira and me. Let’s welcome her warmly!

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Okay, in the interest of full disclosure, let me just say up front that I haven’t followed the zombie movement very closely. I don’t read zombie novels, watch zombie movies, or even watch The Walking Dead. When the zombie apocalypse comes, I will so not be prepared.

You say “zombies” and my mind goes blank. I don’t dislike them, not at all (well, aside from being vaguely skeeved out by understanding that lately, zombies are sometimes heroes in romance novels and seriously, how does that work? Because the whole rotting corpse thing?) They just haven’t captured my imagination or interest (yet. I am, however, an avid Plants vs. Zombies player.)

I know nothing about the genre and have no opinion. Which, um, made it just a leeetle interesting when Leta Blake approached me about doing this guest post. What can I possibly say about zombies? It’s a shame Leta wasn’t face to face with me when she made the offer because I imagine I would have had a rather priceless deer-in-the-headlights expression on my face.

Now, of course, there is an exception to every rule. In this case, I’m going to take the opportunity to plug someone else’s writing. The one zombie apocalypse story I’ve read. I think the only reason I began reading it was because someone posted a full-throated rec for it (over on Tumblr, maybe? I don’t remember) without mentioning that it was a zombie story and it started so strong that I was caught up in it and laughing my butt off before I realized that yes, I was indeed enjoying a zombie story.

That story was El Presidio Rides North by Domashita Romero for Shousetsu Bang*Bang. (The link to the—free, btw—story is on the GoodReads page there, I just wanted to include the GR link so people can rate and review if they choose to do so.) I just…I’m not even sure how to describe this story. I mean, what do you say about a story whose main characters are named Mercury and Gaga because they live in a world where they don’t dare become attached enough to know each other by name in case they have to kill one another, so instead they choose their names from the stack of CDs on the floorboard in their rolling fortress? A story where the (presumably straight) alpha hero dresses in (female) stripper clothes and gives the beta hero a lap dance because the beta hero had never been to a strip club before the apocalypse and that just wasn’t right.

It’s hilarious and absurd and yet it also becomes a very compelling romance. It’s short. It’s free. Read it. Just read it. Even if, like me, zombies aren’t your thing, read it. You won’t regret it.

Anyway, getting back to me and zombies. I know so little about the upcoming zombie apocalypse that when I tried my hand recently at writing a post-apocalyptic novel, I had to actively avoid venturing into zombie territory because I was afraid I would commit every cliché known to man in the process. I did, however, need a monster so I ended up writing someone kinda-vaguely-sorta-quasi-zombieish where I could make my own rules a little bit while still hitting that kind of note.

Unfortunately, I can’t really pimp that story yet because I’m not sure just when it’s going to be published, so instead I’ll just say, if post-apocalyptic worlds and zombie-esque monsters appeal to you, be on the lookout for Strain, which should be coming sometime later this year.

In the meantime, I’ll be working on the release of my upcoming novel, Velocity, the final installment in my Impulse trilogy, concluding the story of Derrick and Gavin that began in Inertia and Acceleration. It releases on March 2nd. Hope you enjoy!

 

Velocity-ecover-72dpi

 

REACHING OPTIMUM SPEED

 

For Detroit handyman Derrick Chance and his lover, Gavin Hayes, the holiday season is filled with the promise of new beginnings. Gavin’s officially moving in, and after the New Year, they’ll begin house hunting. But they both know all the talk of gift exchange, whose holiday ornaments go where, and what repairs and remodels will be needed to put Derrick’s house on the market is only a smoke screen.

 

Before the month is over, Gavin will have the final verdict on whether or not his dangerously delusional ex, Lukas, infected him with HIV. No matter how good Gavin’s chances appear with the three-month hurdle already passed, neither he nor Derrick knows what the future holds for them.

 

The holidays have always been a time of loss and mourning for Derrick, but now he has to stay strong as Gavin’s own fears and doubts assail him relentlessly. And when Lukas returns, unexpectedly penitent amid troubling revelations, Gavin has to ask himself whether he can offer Derrick the future he deserves, or whether these first few months of happiness are the best they will ever get.

 

How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse by The Sisters Grimm

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by 3oneseven
Warning! Flashing on that site! Migraine or seizure trigger alert!

 Since perhaps even before the Cranberries’ song Zombie in 1994, the connection between war, apocalyptic thinking, and zombies has been in the widespread cultural consciousness. It’s to the point that university professors and the CDC have taken interest in the phenomenon, though maybe for different reasons. It’s to the point that there are articles out there trying to impress upon us the positive influence this zombie fixation can have on our psychology. Is it any wonder that a large number of people are mashing zombies up with another phenomenon of the zeitgeist–the return of mass popular fascination with fairy tales? (See the bottom of this post for links around the web to fascinating and amusing mash-ups of zombies and fairy tales.)

When Keira and I were assigned the theme “How would you survive the zombie apocalypse?” we immediately decided to to mash the two ideas ourselves, given our own love of fairy tales. We decided to see how–or if–some of our favorite fairy tale characters might survive a zombie apocalypse.

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by Lora Zombie

Little Red Riding Hood. Would she survive? We believe she would. With the help of her massive, vicious, protective, sentient, talking wolf friend (and maybe a machine gun in accord with this drawing by Lora Zombie), Red could definitely hold off the zombies and make a cozy home of a wolf den. There are all kinds of incredibly filthy stories that might come of that scenario, but I’ll leave that to your own perverted imaginations. Or you can bleach your brain now, if you like. I’ll wait here.

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by punziesshiftedworld

Rapunzel. Would she survive? We believe she would. For awhile. As the zombies crowd around the base of her tower, Rapunzel watches safely from her tower above, refusing to let down her hair. Eventually, though, it becomes clear that her beloved prince and her evil captor have both lost their yummy brains to the zombies below. Trapped as she is in her tower, Rapunzel must make a terrible choice–die of dehydration and starvation or lower her hair to creatures of the night below.

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by Anka Zhuravleva

The Light Princess. Would she make it out alive? We think that the Light Princess stands one of the best chances for successful zombie evasion–assuming she doesn’t find herself completely untethered to float away into the stratosphere to freeze and suffocate. When the zombies approach, the Light Princess could bound to the top of buildings, float to grip the uppermost twigs of trees, and dangle herself off the church spires, climbing down to collect food and water when the coast was clear. Alas, her poor prince would probably be zombified, but the princess herself could likely survive quite some time. (By the way, Keira and I wrote a m/m version of The Light Princess called Earthly Desires.)

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by yusef abonamah

Jack (and the Beanstalk). Would he make it? Well, most of the time it would be touch and go for him, but we think there are a few ways that Jack might survive the zombie apocalypse. The first and most obvious step would be for Jack to climb the beanstalk to escape the crowd of zombies. He’d have to get to the top before them all, and then, of course, he’d have to deal with the giant. This is where the possibilities really open up for him. He could try to somehow destroy the beanstalk before the zombies get to the top, hoping that he can accomplish it before the giant smells his delicious English blood. Or he could hide, wait for the zombies to reach the top, and hope the giant takes care of them himself. I’m pretty sure the giant could defeat the zombies. I think he’d have the strength to toss them, one after another, off the side of the cloud, and he’d probably be more successful at destroying the stalk than Jack would be. He’s likely only left it up this long in order to seduce humans up it in order to supplement his food supply with tasty flesh and bones. So, truly, this is probably Jack’s best bet.

Once the giant has tossed the zombies over, destroyed the stalk so no more can climb up, Jack would then need to deal with the giant. He could go the traditional route of cutting off his head (see picture above) or perhaps he might be a bit sneakier than that, choosing instead to attempt to befriend the giant, introduce him to the idea of vegetarianism, or at least seduce him into embracing a diet free of human flesh. There are other options, of course, but I think it all hinges on Jack beating the zombies up the beanstalk and then being able to either kill or befriend the giant.

Another possibility that would be fun would be if the giant cannot destroy the stalk, and so zombies are a constant threat. I’m now imagining a scenario where Jack hides out in the castle, and he and the giant are foes at first, but finally they begin to work together to defeat the zombie threat. Eventually friendship blossoms and then love blooms. It’s the classic danger scenario bringing to enemies together that so many grand romances are made of. Speaking of, while there are no zombies, Keira and I did pen a hate-to-love Jack and the Beanstalk story, which you can purchase HERE.

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Welcome to the Zombie/Fairy Tale Zeitgeist!

1. Kevin Richey’s Zombie Fairy Tales: “Kevin Richey’s Zombie Fairy Tales are a monthly series of short stories set in a dark fairy tale universe plagued by zombies. Surreal and full of black humor, installments feature familiar childhood characters as they encounter a world of stark violence and horror — Cinderella is worked to death before the ball, Pinocchio is made from children’s corpses, and Little Red Riding Hood finds more than wolves in the forest. New titles will appear on the 13th of each month throughout 2012. The series features overlapping elements, characters, and places for a more immersive experience for the dedicated fan, but can also be read as stand-alone entries in any order.”

2. Little Red Riding Hood: A Zombie Fairy Tale GAME: “Little Dead Riding Hood is a racing game. Each player assumes the role of one of the Riding Hood sisters trying desperately to get supplies to their beloved grandmother. Simple really, except for those pesky zombie wolves.” (I’m not sure why the wolves need to be zombies and not just, you know, wolves, but there you have it!)

3. Snow White and the Seven Dead Dwarves: A Zombie Fairytale: “Fast-paced and violent with a lot of zombie carnage (seriously; A LOT) make SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DEAD DWARFS a really fun read.”

4. Zombie Fairy Tale Theater: A hilarious and charming new webseries “Zombie Fairytale Theater”; where the zombies tell the stories. You can view the series HERE. (Yes, I used the words ‘hilarious’ and ‘charming’ with regard to zombies. I don’t know either.)

5. Zombie Fairy Tales by Jill Myles: “Collected here are 7 short, slightly twisted fairy tales retold from a zombie perspective. What if Cinderella had been undead when she went to the ball? What if Little Red Riding Hood went to Grandma’s house to eat her?”

6. A Very Zombie Fairy Tale! A play in Dublin that seems to have already run, but deserves a mention anyway due to it’s description: Zombies! Puppets! Musical Numbers! True Love! Sounds like a hoot, don’t you think?

7. Call for Fairy Tale Zombies Submission from Entangled in Romance: The deadline for it was summer 2012, so if you’ve got the sweetest, hottest zombie fairy tale romance sitting on your hard drive, alas you are too late. But! Surely the books or anthology should be available for purchase soon since the deadline for submission was last summer, right? Keep an eye out for it!


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Keira Andrews and Leta Blake write fairy tale inspired m/m erotica and romantica with Ellora’s Cave. Check out Ascending Hearts, available through Ellora’s Cave, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Sony, and others! And also remember to look at Earthly Desires, the first book in the Tempting Tales series, available for purchase at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and Ellora’s Cave.

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