Monday, October 31, 2011

REVIEW: Better Off Red by Rebekah Weatherspoon

Better Off Red, the first volume in the new Vampire Sorority Sisters series, starts simply, almost predictably, with a pair of roommates pledging the hottest sororities.

Except, of course, Ginger really has no interest in pledging, and is only doing so to appease her roommate . . . and keep her ignorant of Ginger’s sexuality. Except, of course, the sorority that so draws their attention seems to have a few secrets . . . such as how an empty table has managed to have so many people sign the pledge sheet? Except, of course, Ginger can’t even get through the simple act of signing a pledge sheet without a call from her mom . . . and a ‘helpful’ chat with her brother.

The initiation into the sorority is so very well done, introducing just a little eroticism, and then keeping us on edge, playing out the suspense while building more than a little fear, that I found myself breathlessly turning pages. Standing before the queen the pledges have no choice but to confess their innermost desires for other women . . . and she is only too delighted to help see them realised. That, right there, is what converted me from a hopeful reader to an expectant one. I loved the fact that Rebekah managed to establish so much of Ginger’s character so early, and to weave so many other layers into the tale. I wasn’t expecting to have so much of the sorority (and its queen) exposed so early on, but I loved the mythology she created.

I was equally surprised to find the story developing into a passionate romance. Ginger’s relationship with Camila was not at all what I expected, but precisely what I had (in retrospect) hoped for. I fell in love with Ginger early on, and so wanted to see her thrive. She’s a high-strung, smart-ass, vulnerable young woman who portrays a façade of perfect confidence. She literally leaps off the page, taking on a personality that seems to stretch beyond the story itself. A large part of my anxiety when reading was fear for her, fear that she’d be destroyed by her vampire seductress, but Rebekah betrays the genre clichés again, and takes the story in a far more interesting direction.

Almost the very definition of a paranormal romance, this is a book that exceeded my expectations, and fulfilled my hopes. It’s well-written, incredibly sexy, and as full of emotional satisfaction as it is physical. I wouldn't dream of spoiling the ending, but I will say this - it literally had me throwing my hands in the air, squealing with girlish glee, at the wonder of it all.

I will definitely be keeping an eye out for whatever she has to offer next, and anxiously awaiting the next chapter of the Vampire Sorority Sisters.

Mailbox Monday, What I'm Reading, and What's Beside my Bed


In My Mailbox, It's Monday, What are you Reading, and What's Beside Your Bed are weekly memes hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren, Sheila at Book Journey, and Nanny at Getting Naughty Between the Stacks. Both are great ways to share the books you're either reading, or shifting to the top of your TBR pile (because, let's face it, sometimes a little shifting is the best we can manage!).


Two books for review this week - Say Yes, Alice by Sidonie Spice and The Value Of Rain by Brandon Shire.


As always, I'm generally hopping between books as the mood grabs me. Teasing me for time and seducing my attentions this week are:

Caressed by Moonlight by Amanda J. Greene
The Darkness by Crystal Connor


As for what's beside my bed this week, that would be Better Off Red by Rebekah Weatherspoon and Story of L by Debra Hyde.


Well, that's it for now . . . what are you reading?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Just for laughs - a sampling of recent spam comments

Despite the occasional problems and glitches Blogger may have, I must say its spam filter for comments is rock-solid. In the least year and a half I can count on one hand the number of comments that have evaded the filter. On the other hand, I would need both hands, both feet, and a surrogate limb to count the number of comments that have been caught by the filter in the last day!

Since some of the comments give me a chuckle - as I hit the DELETE button - I thought I'd share a few with you. Read, smile, shake your head, and enjoy:

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♥ Climbing gowns, eh? Not quite sure what they look like, but something tells me Angelina Jolie could totally rock one!

I was on my normal internet routine, and i got Anti virus Live. it took me an hour to get rid of it, i just want to know how i got it so i can prevent it

♥ Wow, I hate it when you accidentally get infected with an anti-virus program – I mean, where do you find the virus to get rid of it?

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♥ You have to appreciate the idea of a shaped and chiseled . . .  well, something . . . that nearly manages to fascinate . . . um, one person. To that you must occur! (LOL). I also love the idea of actually ascending to a seaside, although I have to wonder where you would be ascending from that isn't already under water.

is this a virus attack. what should i do now?

♥ I'm not a computer expert by any means, but I'd suggest you stop posting immediately and never go near a computer again. In this case, it sounds like the virus is between the chair and the keyboard!

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♥ Hmm, I'm guessing your rather kinky grandmother was watching a Thai version of Pretty Woman in some cheap motel while she uploaded naked photos of your mom. Am I even close? You know, steam of conciousness may work for some writers, but I find punctuation is pretty awesome. :)

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♥ Apparently, when they're not busy with clients, ladies of the night like to curl up with a good book . . . and my blog. Who knew?!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

SHORT STORY REVIEW: Seducing My Beefcake Roommate by Nathan J Morissey

Seducing My Beefcake Roommate is a wonderfully-written story, with a horribly-crafted (perhaps deliberately provocative) title. The two don’t seem to mesh, which means it wasn’t quite the story I expected, but perhaps more of a pleasant surprise because of it.

This is a touching tale of forbidden love once lost, and then found, only to be lost again. It’s also a story of dreams, and of how far reality often veers from those dreams. It’s a remarkably romantic story that manages to pack a lot of emotion into a minimum of words. While it has its erotic elements, particularly towards the end, they’re less the focus and more a flavouring.

Both characters are very well-developed, so much so that you know there’s a life lived off the page. Not that the life lived on the page isn’t complete, but you really have the sense that these are real people who continue to exist through both ends of the story.

Sadly, we don’t get a happily ever after, but the ending is still a satisfying one.

Friday, October 28, 2011

REVIEW: Red Velvet and Absinthe: Paranormal Erotic Romance by Mitzi Szereto

Wow, what a month this has been for short story collections – first I had my chance to get my hands on Take Me There (a 5 star read of transgender erotica), and now I’ve got Red Velvet and Absinthe (a 5 star read of gothic erotica). The fact that they're both courtesy of Cleis Press can't be a coincidence!

If I had to pick one word to define this collection, it would definitely be atmosphere. You can feel the condensation upon the cold, stone walls; you can smell the sulphur scent of recently snuffed candles in the air; and you can taste the coppery tang of blood upon the tip of your tongue. These are not just stories with a gothic touch, these are stories written in the true gothic tradition.

It’s hard to choose from a collection like this, but my favourites included:

Snowlight Moonlight by Rose de Fer – this read like an old-school, 19th century gothic tale . . . just a lot sexier (and with a lovely touch of bondage)!

Cover Him with Darkness by Janine Ashbless – a wonderful story of family pacts, inherited responsibilities, and the erotic allure of a fallen angel who wants only be to be loved . . . and set free

The Blood Moon by Mitzi Szereto – one of my top 3 favourites in the collection, the kind of story that begs for more.

Dolly by Charlotte Stein – creepy and sexy at the same time, I thought I knew where it was going, and then she wowed me with a twist that is just perfect

La Belle Mort by Zander Vyne – a passionate and (at times) exhausting tale of witchcraft erotica, and one that made me squeal with delight at the twist ending

Milady's Bath by Giselle Renarde – what can I said, the lovely Ms Renarde can do no wrong by me . . . and her story of a wronged woman taking comfort in the arms of her her maidservant made me sigh with pleasure. Another of my top three.

The Queen by Tahira Iqbal – perhaps the most intensely sexual of all the reads (for me, at least) and the proud piece of pleasure to round out my top 3.

I started out by saying that, if I had to pick one word to define this collection, it would be atmosphere. That’s true, but if I could pick a second, it would be consistency. This is a wonderfully written collection of stories, every one of which captures the spirit of the gothic, and every one of which captures your imagination. There were a few stories where the subject matter didn’t quite enthral me, but the writing still kept me reading.

Perhaps most appreciatively, this is a collection of gothic stories that are also erotic – not just an erotica collection with gothic elements tossed in. Altogether lovely, haunting, and deliciously decadent, you’ll be snuffing out the candles long before you’re done, if only to hide your own gothic touch under the cover of darkness!

REVIEW: The One Percenters by John Podgursky

I’ll come right out and say it - The One Percenters is a very strange, very awkward read, the kind of story that’s hard to peg as belonging to any one genre. This is a story that’s written in a casual, conversational tone, but filtered through one very disturbed mind. You come into it expecting one kind of read, but find yourself trapped in something very different.

That’s not to say it’s a bad read, just a different one.

The concept here is definitely intriguing. The story revolves around a man who loves his wife deeply (perhaps desperately), only to have her torn from his life by a serial rapist/murderer. Although it’s clear he’s not the most normal (or stable) of individuals to begin with, the tragedy drives him to the ‘revelation’ that 99% of world is just taking up space. If it stopped there, we’d just have a sad story – instead, he takes that revelation to the next il(logical) step. He decides that it’s the job of the remaining 1% (of whom he is, of course, a part) to reduce the waste, to weed out the useless, and to take those who don’t contribute out of the equation.

Yes, boys and girls, this is a story about a killer . . . narrated by a killer . . . and yet sold to us as the work of an evolutionary hero. In many ways, it’s a harsh read, one based on the idea that humans are not necessarily good. It’s the story of a wounded individual driven to see the worst in everyone. On a purely statistical level, you can’t argue with his logic but, on a purely emotional level, you have to argue (vehemently) with his conclusions.

Interesting, if not easily enjoyable, this is a story filled with physical, emotional, and intellectual violence. It starts with the abduction of an innocent young woman who the ‘hero’ ties to a tree, forcing her to listen to his tale. It’s a very strange opening, especially because we immediately understand that there’s no malice behind his actions.

As for the ending, I’ve been thinking of it for a few days, and I’m still not sure what I think. It’s either an apologetic cop-out, or a bold twist . . . either a punch in the face that invalidates the entire read, or a slap in the face that validates it. Call me perverse, but I like that ambiguity, especially since this is a story defined by the ambiguity between the reader and the protagonist.

Hops, Follows, and Tag Alongs, Oh My!

The 18 & Over Book Blogger Follow is a weekly feature that begins on Fridays and runs through the weekend, hosted by Crystal from Reading Between the Wines and Kelly at Secrets of a Book Lover.

Q. If you could dress up one of your favorite book characters for Halloween, who would it be & what would you choose?

A. I'd love to put Special Agent Pendergast (from the novels by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child) in drag, either as a sexy little French Maid or as a begowned and bejweled Princess. It would just be so outrageous for his character, but he's such a master of  . . . well, everything . . . that I suspect he could rock it!

It's time for another Book Blogger Hop, courtesy of Crazy for Books!

Book Blogger Hop

Q. “What is your favorite Halloween costume? Even if you don’t celebrate, what kinds of costumes do you like?”

A. Not celebrate Halloween? In the words of Vizzini (from the Princess Bride), inconceivable! Well, the horror fan in me loves something scary, like a really good zombie or a demonic skeletal monster, but the fantasy fan in me loves something pretty, like a medieval princess with corsets and long skirts or a pixie-dust fairy with wings.

It's also time for the Friday Follow, courtesy of Parajunkee's View!

Q. If you could have dinner with your favorite book character, who would you eat with and what would you serve?

A. I'd love to have an old-fashioned campfire BBQ with Roland Deschain of Stephen King's Dark Tower saga. I can just see it now, sitting on the beach at the beginning of his saga, waiting for the Man in Black; sitting on a hilltop, overlooking the ruined cities; or sitting beneath the Tower itself at the end of his quest, wondering what lies inside.

As always, I urge you to hop around to some new blogs, tag along with some new friends, and find some great new reviews to follow. I always find something new to delight me!

HALLOWEEN INTERVIEW: Simon Wood (author of The Scrubs)

Good morning, and welcome to another hauntingly horrific Halloween themed interview! Joining us today is Simon Wood, author of The Scrubs.

Simon Janus is the horror identity for thriller writer Simon Wood. Simon is a California transplant from England. He's a former competitive racecar driver, a licensed pilot and an occasional PI. He shares his world with his American wife, Julie. Their lives are dominated by a longhaired dachshund and five cats. He's the Anthony Award winning author of Working Stiffs, Accidents Waiting to Happen, Paying the Piper and We All Fall Down. His next thriller, Terminated, hits bookshelves in June. Under the Simon Janus pen name he's the author The Scrubs and Road Rash. Curious people can learn more about Simon at

Before we get into Simon's interview, please allow me to introduce you to the chills of The Scrubs:

James Jeter, the notorious serial killer with a sixth sense, holds court inside London's Wormwood Scrubs Prison. He's the focus of the "North Wing Project." Under the influence of a hallucinogen, Jeter can create an alternative world known as "The Rift" containing the souls of his victims. Pardons are on offer to inmates who'll enter The Rift. Michael Keeler has nothing to lose and little to live for. He's sent into The Rift to learn the identity of Jeter's last victim.

It's a mission where the guilty can be redeemed, but at a price....

And now, without further ado, please welcome Simon Wood!


♥ For those who may be new to your writing, and who haven't yet checked out your latest release, please tell us a little about yourself.

I’m an ex-racecar driver, a licensed pilot and an occasional private investigator. I’ve had over 150 stories and articles published. My short fiction has appeared in a variety of magazines and anthologies, and has garnered him an Anthony Award and a CWA Dagger Award nomination, as well as several readers’ choice awards. I’m a frequent contributor to Writer’s Digest. I’m the author of WORKING STIFFS, ACCIDENTS WAITING TO HAPPEN, PAYING THE PIPER, WE ALL FALL DOWN, TERMINATED and ASKING FOR TROUBLE. As Simon Janus, I write darker fiction in the form of THE SCRUBS and ROAD RASH. Curious people can learn more at

Did you deliberately choose the horror genre because there's something specific that draws you to it, something you feel it offers that other genres don't, or was it just 'right' for the story you wanted to tell?

I write thrillers as well as horror and the horror side of my work allows me to write about subjects andf ideas that color outside the lines of the conventional world. Part of it is that you write what you love and I love scary stories. As a child, I was blown away by the likes of Richard Matheson, Roald Dahl and the Twilight Zone. I was sucked in by the What-if aspect of these stories, and moreover, I was sucked in by the limitless aspect of What-if. That lends itself very well to the horror genre.

♥ Horror is such an emotionally powerful genre, which touches on so many of our personal fears and fetishes. With that in mind, how has your past influenced your writing? Are you conscious of relating the story to your own experiences, or is it strictly an exercise in imagination?

I feel I’m tapping into my own fears with my horror work. For a really good horror story to work it has to be more than the sum of its body parts. It has to tap into what really scares us. For stories, I look at what scares me and the world at large. Horror isn’t fearing the dentist. Horror is relinquishing ourselves to another person who has the power over our lives. Whatever we fear makes for a great horror story whether it be loss of a loved one, our bodies turning on us, dealing with a guilt of mistake and finding redemption. Whatever scares me and the world is fair game as far as I’m concerned. :-)

♥ Is there a favourite quote or scene from your work that you feel particularly fond of? Something that reminds you of why writing is important to you?

I have a soft spot for ROAD RASH. It’s about a bank robber escaping a botched job who steals a car from a fatal car wreck he happens upon. After stealing the car, he develops a skin disease and it forces him to travel on a journey of self discovery and redemption. The scene I’m particularly fond of centers on an island of Santeria believers in Guatemala and it’s based on a place I visited. I went to this island and attended a ritual and it scared the crap out of me. However, when it came to writing ROAD RASH, I incorporated that experience into the book. The scene on the island is a pivotal point for the characters and readers have reacted so well to that scene as being bizarre and beautiful at the same time. And for me, I’m someone who likes to meet people, talk to them and take part in their lives, because it’s those experiences and ideas that inspire my writing and get morphed into stories.

♥ When you're not writing (or reading), what are some of the hobbies and passions that keep you happy?

I’m quite an active person. I’m a keen road cyclist so I take part in a lot of long distance rides (100 miles long). I’m also into yoga. I like the little slice of piece it gives me, but I also like putting my body through its paces and seeing how far I can take it. I’m a keen traveler. I like traveling to far flung corners of the world. My wife and I rescue animals. We foster quite a few abandoned and sick animals. All our permanent pets have sob stories.

♥ With horror, there's a really fine line between reality and imagination, a fragile barrier between the normal and the paranormal. Do you prefer to play with that line, to tease readers across it, or would you rather thrust them through that barrier and force them to confront the monstrous?

I’m a little Schizo when it comes to setting my stories in a real world or not. I think it’s dependent on the story idea really. If the story is best served being told in a wholly fictional world, then I’ll do it. Some of my stories have been set in the rock solidly in the real world while others have been ambiguous as to whether it was real or someone’s delusion. I think the common denominator that applies to all my horror stories is that the force acting on the protagonist is something that character never believed could happen to them. The world could never be that mean, the repercussions could never been that vicious or their lives should never have been put that hard to the test. Horror ventures in places people never hope to experience.

♥ When writing, do you ever consider how a reader or reviewer will react, or do you write solely for your own satisfaction?

To be honest, I don’t write with the reader in mind and neither do I write for my own satisfaction. I latch onto a story idea that intrigues me and I’m fascinated by the reader’s reaction to the theme, the scenario, the concept, etc. I don’t want to write to order. I want to tell a story that will entertain, surprise and provoke an emotion. Hopefully, it’ll be good, but it could be bad also—and both are fine as long as they experience something.

♥ What is the strangest or most surprising reaction to your work that you've ever encountered?

I wrote a short story called Purely Cosmetic. It was about a female surgeon who believes her life will be perfect if she reaches her target weight. Having failed at every fad diet, she fakes medical conditions in order to have organs and body parts removed. I thought it was a pretty desperate story that went as far as it could go. Well after it appeared in a magazine, a woman who’d suffered with anorexia wrote to me to tell me the story struck a chord. She’d weighed body parts and considered amputation. It proves whatever we can imagine, others have already done.

♥ Since we're creeping up on my favourite holiday, I have to ask: what was your favourite Halloween costume growing up, and do you still get dressed up today?

I grew up in the Uk, so Halloween is about spook stories and not the party aspect (well, it wasn’t when I was a kid). So personally, I’m not into trick or treating or dressing up. I’m quite content to create the scares, not take part. Sorry about that. :-)

♥ Finally, what can we look forward to from you next? Is there a project on the horizon that you're really excited about?

I have a new crime thriller coming out in November, called THE FALL GUY. It’s about Todd, a down on his luck guy who backs in a Porsche. Instead of leaving his details, he leaves a not saying sorry, but so long. Little does he know that he's backed into a drug dealer’s car. The dealer holds Todd responsible and tells him he has to work off his debt to the organization. It’s about how a little mistake can get away from you.

I’m currently working on a 4-book horror series. Each book focuses on one of the four elements. I’m taking a dark and sideways look at earth, air, water and fire.

The next two installments of THE SCRUBS trilogy will be coming out next year. I’ve very excited to see how people react to the even more bizarre worlds. It’s going to be out there. :-)

I’m also finishing up a collection of road inspired stories. Each one looks at a different aspect of the road. It’s called ROUGH RIDES.


Thanks so much to Simon Wood for stopping by! You can check him out at

Thursday, October 27, 2011

REVIEW: Forsaken by Andrew Van Wey

If you’re looking for that near-perfect Halloween read, I cannot recommend Andrew Van Wey’s Forsaken highly enough. Not only is it one of the best electronic reads I’ve come across yet, but it’s the kind of highly polished, well-written story that I only wish I could have on my shelf as a hardcover first edition.

Yes, it’s really that good.

This is a book that really messes with you, contrasting surreal horror with ordinary tragedy in such a way as to keep you guessing (and doubting) as to what’s real and what’s all in Daniel’s head. There are no narrative tricks here, no blatant attempts to confuse the reader – instead, it’s a superbly crafted mystery that maintains an almost constant edge of suspense.

The story opens with a simple game of hide-and-seek that ends in an abandoned house, with a young boy coerced into hiding inside an old chest, and then trapped there by a cruelly placed railroad spike, left to scramble in terror until the nails and flesh have been torn from his hands. Andrew returns to that image time and time again throughout the book, but leaves us hanging until the very end before revealing how that scene, so many years ago, was finally resolved.

There are definitely ‘big’ moments of horror here. The painting at the heart of the story is the creepiest thing you’ve ever laid (virtual) eyes on, and the revelation [minor spoiler here!] that it was painted by a blind woman . . . well, it made my skin crawl. I wish I could describe it too you, but there’s no way to do it justice without replicating the careful work Andrew put into creating that image in the mind’s eye. The crazed, jilted grad student with revenge on her mind has almost become a staple of urban horror, but what Andrew does with (and to) her makes that aspect of the story fresh, and new, and absolutely gut-wrenching.

Really, though, it’s the little details, the smallest bits of horror (both natural and supernatural) that engaged me early, and kept me reading late into the night. The image of the blue jay that just won’t stay dead is one that has stayed with me days later, and the doll with the missing eyes still gives me chills.

As for the ending, it is definitely something to be experienced. Just when you think it’s over, just when you think Andrew has dragged our protagonist as low as can, just when you think redemption (or, at least, salvation) is on the next page, he offers up a twist that is both unexpected and fitting. I honestly did not see it coming, but looking back I can’t question it.

If you’re a fan of the big three – Barker, King, and Koontz – then you will enjoy this. With any luck, somebody in the publishing world will take notice and push Andrew into the spotlight this book deserves but, in the meantime, I will be anxiously awaiting whatever he has to share next.

REVIEW: The Devil's Weekend by Jim Bronyaur

In many ways, The Devil's Weekend reminds me of an episode of an old TV anthology . . . a little Tales from the Crypt, but more Tales from the Darkside. Jim takes two simple concepts (a serial killer & a deal with the devil), mashes them together, and then runs with it, dragging the reader though one crazy weekend. In the end, we’re left with the kind of cliffhanger ending that makes you want to scratch his eyes out . . . even as you find yourself smiling in perverse delight.

The premise is a fun as it is simple. He takes a serial killer nearing the end of his career, one who fully understands that capture is only hours away, and offers him a deal with the devil. In exchange for the usual price, he is provided with one weekend to run amok, with no fear of being stopped, captured, killed, or even harmed.

Of course, the devil is a sneaky bastard, and there’s more than one deal being offered that weekend.

In many ways, this reads like a short story that overstepped its bounds, but Jim freely admits to that in his notes. It’s a bit of an experiment, a personal indulgence on his part, which accounts for some of the minor narrative flaws and lapses of logic. It’s the kind of story that loses a bit of lustre if you think about it for too long but, like those old TV episodes, one that keeps you reaching gleefully for the popcorn until you reach the end.

A fun read, well-told, that definitely kept me entertained.

HALLOWEEN INTERVIEW: Scott Nicholson (author of Speed Dating with the Dead)

Good morning, and welcome to another hauntingly horrific Halloween themed interview! Joining us today is Scott Nicholson, author of Speed Dating with the Dead.

Scott has written 12 thrillers, 60 short stories, four comics series, and six screenplays. He's also a freelance editor and journalist. He lives in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, where he tends an organic garden, successfully eludes stalkers, and generally lives the dream. He's online at

Scott won the grand prize in the international Writers of the Future contest in 1999. That same year, he was first runner-up for the Darrell Award. He studied Creative Writing at Appalachian State University and UNC-Chapel Hill. He has been an officer of Mystery Writers of America and Horror Writers Association and is a member of International Thriller Writers and inaugural member of the Killer Thriller Band. Unfortunately, they never taught him to write: he had 105 rejections before his first story sale and over 400 before he sold a novel. He hasn't learned much from his mistakes but thinks he'll probably improve with practice. If nothing else, he's become a better liar.

Before we get into Scott's interview, please allow me to introduce you to the chills of Speed Dating with the Dead:

When Wayne "Digger" Wilson hosts a paranormal conference at the haunted White Horse Inn, he has motives beyond searching for the inn's legendary ghosts. Years ago, he made a honeymoon promise to his wife Beth that if one of them died, the survivor would return to the White Horse to summon the other's lost spirit. Now she's dead and Digger's back, with the daughter they conceived during that fateful honeymoon sixteen years before. And the ghost hunters are stirring up ancient evils that were better left in peace, because the inn's basement is home to a circle of demons that have been waiting for Wayne to return. They want his teenage daughter Kendra, and they'll play whatever tricks they need in order to satisfy their dark desires. And at the White Horse Inn, not even angels can be trusted . . .

And now, without further ado, please welcome Scott Nicholson!


♥ For those who may be new to your writing, Scott, and who haven't yet checked out your latest release, please tell us a little about yourself.

I’m a hillbilly recluse and misfit who figured out that if I wrote words on paper instead of saying them out loud, I wouldn’t get beat with a stick. With over 200,000 readers around the world, I guess it was a wise decision. Plus it’s crazy fun.

♥ The journey from 'aspiring' to 'accomplished' can be a long one, even in the era of small presses and digital publishing. When did you begin writing, and how did you feel when you first saw your work in print?

I wrote all the time when I was young, and I still have boxes full of handmade comics, poetry, song lyrics, short stories, all the typical learning experiments. After a very semi-pro music career, I started writing seriously in 1996 and started piling up the rejection slips. Eventually I got better after I’d made every mistake in the book. There are two wonderful feelings of accomplishment: one is finishing the work and knowing you got it right to the best of your abilities, and the other is to hear from a reader who brought it to life and connected with it. So email me anytime at hauntedcomputer at!

♥ Did you deliberately choose the horror genre because there's something specific that draws you to it, something you feel it offers that other genres don't, or was it just 'right' for the story you wanted to tell?

I was raised on the old ghost stories, but originally I was writing in multiple genres. In fact, I still do, but most of what I write is paranormal or supernatural. I just love the lack of rules and mysteries of faith and life and death.

♥ Horror is such an emotionally powerful genre, which touches on so many of our personal fears and fetishes. With that in mind, how has your past influenced your writing? Are you conscious of relating the story to your own experiences, or is it strictly an exercise in imagination?

I definitely tap into my own doubts and fears when I develop a character, so in some ways they are all aspects of myself, but often exaggerated, because I could never get away with some of the stuff my people do in books..

♥ Do you have a schedule or a routine to your writing? Is there a time and place that you must write, or do you let the words flow as they demand?

I go back and forth, depending on my life circumstances. Right now I have a lot of freedom but also a lot more duties, since I am doing a lot of self-publishing, but I enjoy it all. I’d get bored if I just sat and wrote for 10 hours a day.

♥ For some authors, it's coming up with a title, and for others it's writing that first paragraph - what do you find is the most difficult aspect of writing?

I have lots of titles, characters, and ideas floating around, and usually it’s the story taking shape through the characters that gets me rolling—what they see and feel, how they interpret the bizarre nature of our existence.

♥ Is there a particular author who has influenced or inspired your writing? Either a fellow horror author who made you want to write in the first place, or somebody from another genre who cleanses your palate and refreshes your literary batteries?

Stephen King was a big inspiration, along with Dean Koontz, Shirley Jackson, Ray Bradbury, Elmore Leonard, Ira Levin, and James Lee Burke, but I also like literary fiction like Kurt Vonnegut, Richard Brautigan, and Cormac McCarthy. I’m not very patient with “potato chip” books that are nothing but light escapism. I want to feel differently or think differently after I finish a book, not simply kill some time. Time is way too fleeting to kill it.

♥ With horror, there's a really fine line between reality and imagination, a fragile barrier between the normal and the paranormal. Do you prefer to play with that line, to tease readers across it, or would you rather thrust them through that barrier and force them to confront the monstrous?

To me, it’s all about the mystery and the big questions. Sometimes you have to dash in a little violence or gore or eroticism, because those are part of life’s rich palette, but creative people should be explorers, the bards and troubadours who go out and learn secrets they can share with people.

♥ When writing, do you ever consider how a reader or reviewer will react, or do you write solely for your own satisfaction?

I am amazed when I hear people say “I only write for myself.” Why not just do a journal or personal diary, then? The way I look at it, the writer only builds half the story, and the reader completes it and brings it to life. No matter what the author intends, each reader will have a unique experience with and relationship to the story.

♥ What is the strangest or most surprising reaction to your work that you've ever encountered?

I was startled to find out people thought I was “dark” or “violent” because I write dark fiction. I’m really just a humble gardener and dreamer, a peace advocate, and a spiritual person. Words are the way I make sense of the world, and how I share my beliefs. I constantly question the value of my actions, because I need a purpose beyond merely selling books and making money. I have a sticky note on my computer that says “Do Good and Be Kind,” which isn’t always so easy when you’re on social media!

♥ Finally, what can we look forward to from you next? Is there a project on the horizon that you're really excited about?

Amazon is re-releasing my thriller Liquid Fear and the sequel Chronic Fear simultaneously on Dec. 20. I am very impressed and ecstatic with Amazon’s publishing efforts, and everyone I’ve worked with there has been professional and dedicated. I hope to continue the series next year, and I am also working on a post-apocalyptic thriller that should be out around Christmas or early January. I’m also really excited about expanding my audience on Kobo and Apple, since I am releasing a number of translated editions. It’s a thrilling, tumultuous time to be a writer. I am so lucky and grateful to be here getting to do what I love, hopefully in a way that makes the world better.


Thanks so much to Scott Nicholson for stopping by, and for really getting into the spirit (pun intended!) of the season. You can check him out on:

Scott on Facebook
Scott on Goodreads
Scott on LibraryThing
Scott on Twitter
Scott’s blog
Scott’s website

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

GUEST POST: Memory is a Fragile Thing by Laura Lee

Good morning, all, and welcome to another wonderful Wednesday! Today I`m featuring a wonderful guest post by Laura Lee, author of Angel, now available from Dreamspinner/Itineris Press.

Since the loss of his lively, charming wife to cancer six years ago, minister Paul Tobit has been operating on autopilot, performing his religious duties by rote. Everything changes the day he enters the church lobby and encounters a radiant, luminous being lit from behind, breathtakingly beautiful and glowing with life. An angel. For a moment Paul is so moved by his vision that he is tempted to fall on his knees and pray.

Even after he regains his focus and realizes he simply met a flesh-and-blood young man, Paul cannot shake his sense of awe and wonder. He feels an instant and overwhelming attraction for the young man, which puzzles him even as it fills his thoughts and fires his feelings. Paul has no doubt that God has spoken to him through this vision, and Paul must determine what God is calling him to do.

Thus begins a journey that will inspire Paul's ministry but put him at odds with his church as he is forced to examine his deeply held beliefs and assumptions about himself, his community, and the nature of love.


Memory is a Fragile Thing
by Laura Lee

Memory is a fragile thing. When you look back on your relationship with your beloved, much of it recedes into darkness. What did you do together the third Wednesday of last year? Did you see that movie together or separately? Whose turn is it to take out the garbage? (Only one of you probably forgot that last one.)

One moment that probably remains vivid for you, however, is your first kiss. It was the touch that signaled the acknowledgment of your desire to be more than you were to each other. It is the kiss, not the so much more hyped sex, that is the first move from friends to lovers.

Sex scenes are easy. What is surprisingly hard to write about is a kiss.

One of the few moments in which I became truly stuck when writing my novel Angel was when it came time for my main characters, who had been dancing around each other for some time, to lock lips. Sure, I could describe what the lips and tongue actually do in a kisser’s mouth, but this would be far too clinical. It would have the opposite of the intended effect. Yet simply saying, “and then they kissed,” was too flat. It failed to capture the essence of an act that, poet Philip Sidney said, “tied together souls.”

A kiss, a first kiss especially, is not only a touch, it is an emotion. It is a question, an invitation that can be accepted or denied. “Will you be my lover?”

It is that most vulnerable of moments, full of nervousness and anxiety, and it is also one of the anxieties that is most quickly relieved. It melts away the moment the lips touch and the invitation has been accepted.

“And then they kissed,” was not going to cut it.

For guidance, I ventured onto Google Books and found myself reading an 1873 magazine called The Galaxy. There, in an article called “The Curiosities of Kissing” I discovered this observation by William Conant Church:

“Shakespeare calls kisses holy, lovely, loving, gentle, jealous, soft, sovereign, warm, and righteous. He has over two hundred and fifty allusions to kisses and kissing in his plays, and in the second part of ‘Henry VI.’ he speaks of ‘twenty thousand kisses.’ In the ‘Midsummer Night's Dream’ he calls lips ‘those kissing treasures.’ But in all his writings we find no full description of a kiss. It was a subject too vast even for Shakespeare's mighty mind.”

Realizing that I had stumbled onto a problem that had stumped Shakespeare made me feel a little bit better about myself, and so I got back to work.

When a man leans in to kiss, he loses sight of the beloved and closes his eyes. (The face is too close to focus on.) This means that in kissing we abandon the sense we rely on most in life, sight, and continue with our more primal senses, touch, taste and smell.

Smell is that great underrated and most primal sense. It is also the most difficult to describe. We have a host of visual words, words for colors, shades and hues. When it comes to the sense of smell, we have no vocabulary. We must usually rely on comparison. “It smells like...” Yet smells are omnipresent and are more effective than any sense in triggering emotion.

“When the olfactory bulb detects something,” wrote Diane Ackerman in A Natural History of the Senses, it “...sends a message straight into the limbic system, a mysterious ancient, and intensely emotional section of our brain in which we feel, lust and invent. Unlike the other senses, smell needs no interpreter. The effect is immediate and undiluted by language, thought, or translation.”

The sense of smell became my revelation, my doorway in.

I was helped in no small part by the fact that my character Ian was a smoker. He would smell of cigarettes. This was something that anyone who leaned in to kiss him should probably expect, and yet probably would not.

And so, after a great deal of tension and literary anticipation, Paul and Ian were finally able to kiss:

“It was natural—the first time and yet not the first time—because this moment had been practiced so often in fantasy. Yet the fantasies were no preparation. Paul’s imagination hadn’t the talent to get it right. He’d focused on the lips and the tongue and the building sense of arousal. But he’d neglected to include all of the senses and all of the emotions. He’d failed to include the sense of smell, the musky, smoky scent of Ian. He’d failed to imagine the twinge of fear and anxiety and the open space it created inside when he let it go. He’d failed to fully include his sense of hearing, the small short breaths and long sighs so close to his ear. He’d focused too much on his mind and his thoughts, which he now released completely. They got lost in each other, lost in the dance. Paul ran his fingers through Ian’s hair. He felt Ian’s hands exploring his back and shoulders. For a moment, he seemed to disappear into pure sensation and emotion.”

It probably does not capture all of the mystery of a first kiss and it not be Shakespeare, but then again, Shakespeare didn’t even try. Maybe words are simply not up to the task.


Laura is the author of more than a dozen books, including the novel Angel, and numerous non-fiction titles, including The Pocket Encyclopedia of Aggravation (Black Dog and Leventhal), now in its third printing and published in France under the title Le Dictionaire des Contrairites; Arlo, Alice and Anglicans (Berkshire House/W.W. Norton), which tells the story of the church made famous in Arlo Guthrie’s song and movie Alice’s Restaurant; The Name’s Familiar: Mr. Leotard, Barbie and Chef Boyardee (Pelican Publishing), a Book-of-the-Month Club alternate selection and its sequel The Name’s Familiar II; the 100 Most Dangerous Things in Life (Broadway Books/Random House), which was featured on Good Morning America and CNN’s American Morning; Blame it on the Rain (HarperCollins), The Elvis Impersonation Kit and A Child’s Introduction to Ballet (both Black Dog and Leventhal), Schadenfreude, Baby! (Lyons Press), and Broke is Beautiful (Running Press).

The San Francisco Chronicle has said of her work, "Lee's dry, humorous tone makes her a charming companion… She has a penchant for wordplay that is irresistible."

To learn more about Laura, please check our her Tumblr blog at, follow her on Twitter as @LauraLeeAuthor, or check out some of the interviews & reviews related to Angel at

"Waiting On" Wednesday - 77 Shadow Street by Dean Koontz

"Waiting On" Wednesday spotlights upcoming releases that everyone's excited about (created by Jill at Breaking The Spine.)

77 Shadow Street by Dean Koontz: I am the One, the all and the only. I live in the Pendleton as surely as I live everywhere. I am the Pendleton's history and its destiny. The building is my place of conception, my monument, my killing ground. . . .

The Pendleton stands on the summit of Shadow Hill at the highest point of an old heartland city, a Gilded Age palace built in the late 1800s as a tycoon’s dream home. Almost from the beginning, its grandeur has been scarred by episodes of  madness, suicide, mass murder, and whispers of things far worse. But since its rechristening in the 1970s as a luxury apartment building, the Pendleton has been at peace. For its fortunate residents—among them a successful songwriter and her young son, a disgraced ex-senator, a widowed attorney, and a driven money manager—the Pendleton’s magnificent quarters are a sanctuary, its dark past all but forgotten.

But now inexplicable shadows caper across walls, security cameras relay impossible images, phantom voices mutter in strange tongues, not-quite-human figures lurk in the basement, elevators plunge  into unknown depths. With each passing hour, a terrifying certainty grows: Whatever drove the Pendleton’s past occupants to their unspeakable fates is at work again. Soon, all those within its boundaries will be engulfed by a dark tide from which few have escaped.

Dean Koontz transcends all expectations as he takes readers on a gripping journey to a place where nightmare visions become real—and where a group of singular individuals hold the key to humanity’s destiny. Welcome to 77 Shadow Street. 
[Dec 27, 2011]

Dean Koontz and I have had a bit of a love-hate relationship going on now for years. When he's being a bad boy - by which I mean all creepy, depraved, inappropriate, and horrific - he's absolutely amazing. When he's being a good boy- by which I mean all tame and preachy, sacrificing story for some moral message - he's absolutely horrible. There are some of his books that I would read again and again, and others that I've thrown against the wall in frustration. Fingers crossed, this one sounds like a keeper!

How about you? What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

INTERVIEW: S.L. Armstrong & K. Piet (Storm Moon Press)

It is my great pleasure to once again welcome the amazing folks over at Storm Moon Press to my little Bibrary Book Lust blog! Following up on yesterday's guest post on Bisexual, Trans*, and Intersexed Characters, S.L. Armstrong & K. Piet have stopped by for a fantastic interview that gets into their roles as authors, editors, and publishers.

If you`d like a little taste of what Storm Moon Press has to offer, I urge you to check out my review of Daughters of Artemis, published by Storm Moon Press, edited by S.L. Armstrong, and containing stories by both S.L. Armstrong & K. Piet!


♥ For those who may be new to your writing, as well as to Storm Moon Press, please tell us a little about yourselves.

[S.L.] Back in 2009, K. Piet and I wanted to begin publishing our original fiction. We researched and researched, but we couldn't find what we were looking for exactly, which was high control, high royalties, and dedicated marketing. So, in January of 2010, we launched Storm Moon Press. It was supposed to be only a platform for us to publish our works and some anthologies, but we quickly decided other authors may want to work with us on the terms we'd set. Since then, we've worked with some wonderful authors like Cornelia Grey, Rachel Haimowitz, and Aleksandr Voinov.


♥ The journey from 'aspiring' to 'accomplished' can be a long one, even in the era of small presses and digital publishing. When did each of you begin writing, and how did you feel when you first saw your work in print?

[S.L.] I began writing with the intent to publish sometime back in 2003-2004. I'd grown tired of fanfiction, I had worlds and characters of my own I wanted to share, and so I began focusing 100% on my original writing. When K. and I joined together as a writing team a couple of years later, I knew we'd stumbled on something really great. When we first held "The Keeper" in our hands, we were just ecstatic. It was an awesome moment.

[K.] For my part, I hadn't really written anything outside of college essays and the occasional fanfic that never saw the light of day. The writing bug bit me in my last couple years of college (2008-2009), and partnering with S.L. for our collaborative works has been life changing!

♥ What was it that led you to try writing as a team?

[S.L.] K. hadn't written prior to meeting me, and it took some encouraging through some roleplaying with fanfiction characters before I convinced her that we could do some really outstanding work if we moved into the realm of original fiction. It took about a year to iron out all the kinks, but I think we've managed to enter a phase where our styles mesh perfectly and our goals are aligned. I just love writing with her, the plotting and planning. It's social, and she's great to work with.

[K.] I definitely needed a helping hand in the beginning. My style of writing had been so very restricted because of college essays in my major (Kinesiological Sciences) that I had a good amount of difficulty toning down the vocabulary, getting my grammar right, and not buying into some of the terrible advice I’d been given way back in grade school regarding writing fiction. There was a ton I could learn from S.L., and she didn’t mind taking the time to teach me as we explored both the fanfiction and original ideas we had.

♥ What is it about the team dynamic that keeps you writing as partners? Is it ever a challenge to come together on a work, or are you that in sync?

[S.L.] At the beginning, it was hard. It took a lot of trial and error before we found a rhythm, especially since I was on one coast and K. was on the other. It made the 2-3 hour time difference a struggle. But, I love the interaction, the collaboration, the joint effort to bring about characters, the world, their struggles...

[K.] That we managed to come into that great alignment and pop out our first few manuscripts while being in different time zones still astonishes me! The challenge when writing long distance is really communication. You have to communicate everything you want for the plot/characters/world in addition to your misgivings, confusions, and opinions. Everything. While this is the challenge, it’s also one of the most rewarding parts of our collaboration. When you have a co-author, all that interaction makes the writing process very dynamic.

♥ Over the years you've written in a number of genres, covering everything from medieval fantasy to contemporary fiction. Is there one genre that draws you more strongly than the others, one that offers something the other genres don't, or do you just go with what feels 'right' for the story you want to tell?

[S.L.] We keep going back to the paranormal. Vampires, shifters, immortals, ghosts... Contemporary paranormal allows us to use the world we exist in, but skew it enough to offer something extraordinary, and we both have such a weakness for vampires. I think we'll be writing them for years to come, even if they're no longer 'in'. :)

[K.] The other common thread is our love for fantasy. We both grew up reading it, and we both have always wanted to write a sweeping fantasy book set in a world of our own creation. While all that is still in the works at this point, I think we’ll always love playing in our fantasy world. Because it’s all of our own making, the inspiration for it never ceases.

♥ For some authors, it's coming up with a title, and for others it's writing that first paragraph - what do you find is the most difficult aspect of writing . . . or do you each have a personal challenge for which the other compensates?

[S.L.] I think the weaknesses are compensated for. In all honesty, I suck at writing action scenes. If you see a really great action scene in one of our books? It's a good bet K. wrote it. K., though, can have a really hard time starting or ending a scene, so I tend to take that on my shoulders.

[K.] She’s completely right! XD We compensate pretty well for each other, and it was by coincidence, which makes it all the more fun.

♥ With almost a dozen works between you this might be an unfair question, but is there a favourite quote or scene from your work that you feel particularly fond of?

[S.L.] Presently? I have to say one of my absolutely favorite scenes is in "Other Side of Night: Bastian & Riley", which just came out. It's one of the latter Riley scenes, after he comes back from the hospital and realizes just what it is Bastian has done to him. I won't say more than that, but those two initial scenes in that section were just some of my favorites. If I had to pick a second one, it would be the finger sucking scene in "The Keeper". ;)

[K.] Ooo… S.L.’s choices there are really good! As far as emotional impact goes, the scenes in "Catalyst" where Logan finds Kasper after Kasper has hit rock bottom pull my heartstrings every time. Seeing Kasper go so far with his obsession with perfection not only breaks Logan’s heart, but it solidifies how much Logan loves him, that even at his very worst, Kasper is worth keeping, helping, and loving. On a completely different note, I love the way that Aric, the teenaged character in "Rachmaninoff" refers to where Nikola lives as an "obscure corner of Fuckoffistan". XD

♥ Sometimes, characters can take on a life of their own, pulling the story in directions you hadn't originally anticipated. Whether it came from your own pen or your partner's, has a twist or turn in your writing ever surprised you, or really challenged your original plans?

[S.L.] Actually, no. I'm not an author who subscribes to the myth that characters just do what they do and an author is helpless to stop them. They're our characters, our stories, and so we control them from start to finish. :) K. and I plan the stories out from start to finish, chapter by chapter, in outlines. By the time we sit down to write the story proper, we know exactly what the motivations are, all the twists and turns, and how it will end. Nothing to surprise us!

[K.] The surprises only happen in the initial planning stages, usually when we’re playing around with the characters in a more role-play kind of setting, just getting a feel for the characters and to see if they interact well with one another. There have been a few ‘ah-ha!’ moments then, but by the time we’re actually writing, the characters don’t take over and force us to change something with our delicate nerve endings at knife-point. ;)


♥ When did you first get the idea to launch your own press, what is it about Storm Moon Press that differentiates it from the other small presses out there?

[S.L.] It was an idea we'd been tossing back and forth for a couple of years, but in 2010, we took the plunge. Storm Moon Press gives authors incredible control over cover art, we use two wonderful cover artists (one that does drawings from scratch, the other uses stock images), we offer marketing support, reimburse authors for their convention registration fees when they attend cons we attend, and we had one of the first royalty structures that offered generous flip-points for authors where the base royalty increased at a certain threshold.

[K.] On top of all that, we offer our titles at competitive prices so readers can afford them and consequently enjoy them. We also have no plans on becoming a huge press, which means that we cultivate one-on-one relationships with the authors who publish through us, offering them support through every step of the publishing process. This small size allows us to focus on quality rather than quantity, which we really love. We hope readers love it, too!

♥ Looking back over the last year and a bit, what were the hardest lessons you had to learn? What were the most pleasant surprises?

[S.L.] Hardest lesson would be about how friendships change once there is a level of professional involvement, and for me, the most pleasant surprise was the great fun it was to work with really talented people from start to finish on their fiction.

[K.] Hardest lesson for me would be that having demanding goals in business often means that sacrifices must be made in personal life. Not necessarily bad, but difficult to adjust to. The most pleasant surprise has been finding a select few authors (and business contacts) who are a joy to work with on the marketing side of the business.

♥ Clearly both aspects must have very different demands upon your time, so how difficult is it to juggle your time and prioritize as both authors and publishers?

[S.L.] That's been one hell of a learning experience this year. *laughs* Our original planned output for 2011 was three novels and one novella. It wound up being one novel, one novella, and two short stories. It took some thinking, but we've decided to prioritize our writing a little more over the publishing of our own works. 2012 will be a light year with only one novella (written for our new mainstream imprint, Wild Moon Books) and one novel, but there will be short story contributions to about half a dozen anthologies, all while we write like fiends to stockpile manuscripts for 2013. Once we have that cushion, we feel we'll be able to juggle the hats of authors and publishers more easily.

♥ How hard is it to deal with other authors, knowing where they're coming from and how protective they can be of their work?

[S.L.] Pretty hard. :) It's a mixed bag, but we enjoy every aspect of the publishing job, and I personally don't regret a moment of it.

[K.] Everyone’s a little different, so I think the most difficult part is adapting to the needs of each different author. It’s a challenge we relish, though, and S.L. is right: no regrets!

♥ At the same time, how has wearing the publisher's hat and dealing with other authors affected your own writing?

[S.L.] I'm not sure it's affected my writing on a personal level, though it has on restricted the amount of time I have to spend on it.

[K.] It hasn’t so much affected my writing as it has affected my networking. I’m a lot more organized than I used to be. That and the time restriction S.L. mentioned.

♥ What is the strangest or most surprising reaction to the works of Storm Moon Press that you've ever encountered so far?

[S.L.] Our offer to pay for marketing or convention registration. It seems authors have come to expect the most minimal of effort on the part of their publisher, but Storm Moon Press' goal is to make the publishing aspect of their work all about them. Without authors, what purpose does a publisher have? We always try to remember that authors are where the creativity and stories come from, and they should be treated well and with respect.

♥ What can we look forward to from Storm Moon Press next? Is there a project on the horizon that you're really excited about?

[S.L.] Well, we have begun to acquire work for Storm Moon Press' mainstream erotic romance imprint, Wild Moon Books. Wild Moon Books launches next year, and we can't wait to work with authors who prefer heterosexual romances over the GLBT titles. Other than that, we have some wonderful authors lined up in 2012, and we can't wait to share those great works with readers.

[K.] In addition to that, 2012 also marks our first year in the convention circuit, so you’ll be seeing Storm Moon Press at a few conventions throughout the year. We’re really excited to have a presence where both readers and authors will be able to interact with us directly. It also means being able to purchase our products in person, too, which is always fun!


♥ Just for fun, who would you single out as your number one celebrity crush, and what would you like most to do with/to them?

[S.L.] I think my 'celebrity crush' would have to be Nigella Lawson. I adore that woman, and I would love to just spend a day with her in the kitchen, cooking and laughing and chatting about food.

[K.] Hmm… I would have to say Shane Dawson of YouTube fame. The man isn’t afraid to go out there (usually in drag) and make some great comedy. I’d love to just spend a day on one of his random excursions, which would probably end up on one of his YouTube channels and be hilarious.

♥ If you could live a day in the world of someone else's story, whose would you choose, and why?

[S.L.] Aman. Tolkien's paradise for the Elves. I've always thought it would be amazing to see perfection as it was meant to be, to walk with immortal creatures who have both done amazing and terrible deeds.

[K.] S.L. totally stole my answer! This is one reason we work so well together. We sometimes read one another’s minds. Aman would be my number one destination in Tolkien’s world, though there are various places that I’d love to visit if I had more than one day and could hop around in the timeline (Nargothrond, Gondolin, Imladris, etc.). Forgive my geek-fest there.

♥ When you're not writing (or publishing), what are some of the hobbies and passions that keep you sane?

[S.L.] Reading. I love to read. I also enjoy cooking, singing, gaming, and crafting.

[K.] Massage therapy (which is actually my day job), hoopdancing, singing/karaoke, and cross-stitch needlework all make it to the top of my list.

♥ Finally, if we can solidly turn the attention back on yourselves for a moment, what can we look forward to from S.L. Armstrong and K. Piet next? Is there a collaboration you're excited about?

[S.L.] Right now, I'm hugely excited to begin writing a trilogy we've been planning for a few months now that stars Oscar Wilde's Dorian Gray as one of the main protagonists. We're also beginning work on our epic series set in our fantasy world of Egaea.

[K.] The Dorian Gray project is going to be amazing! We also have the first installment of our "Wanderlust" trilogy slated for 2012, which surrounds the characters of Cain and Lilith from biblical fame. That’ll be coming from Wild Moon Books, so keep your eyes peeled both there and on Storm Moon Press!

Monday, October 24, 2011

GUEST POST: The Invisible by Storm Moon Press

It is my great pleasure to welcome the amazing folks over at Storm Moon Press to my little Bibrary Book Lust blog! Today I`m featuring a wonderful guest post on Bisexual, Trans*, and Intersexed Characters, while tomorrow I`ll have an interview with none other than S.L. Armstrong & K. Piet - the faces behind the pages!

If you`d like a little taste of what Storm Moon Press has to offer, I urge you to check out my review of Daughters of Artemis, published by Storm Moon Press, edited by S.L. Armstrong, and containing stories by both S.L. Armstrong & K. Piet!


The Invisible: Bisexual, Trans, and Intersexed Characters
by Storm Moon Press

Throughout fiction, there has always been The Invisible – a class of minority characters that writers keep out of their writing. At various times in history, The Invisible has been women, people of color, and homosexuals. Now, The Invisible are bisexual, trans* (a term which represents a combination of transgender, transsexual, and transvestite), and intersexed (referring to any number of genetic conditions characterized by an ambiguity in the appearance of sex-linked traits) characters. And I believe it’s time to start bringing them into the light as well.

All too often, bisexual characters – especially bisexual male characters – are reserved for "ménage" stories in which their bisexuality frequently manifests as infidelity or promiscuity, generally culminating in a "why didn't you tell me?" moment from their established partner (usually female) and leads into a threesome scene, curtain falls, story over. In these cases, the bisexual partner is portrayed as dishonest, uncommunicative, and shady, while the other two characters are always understanding and open. It shouldn't need to be said, but this is very rarely the way things work out in reality.

Alternatively, the bisexuality of a character is completely erased, as in the common "Gay For You" trope. In this type of story, the character (again, usually male) is either shown in an existing heterosexual relationship or shown to have a history of heterosexual relationships. But then he meets the one man in all the world with the power to make him question his lifelong assumptions. Sometimes, this story dovetails with the above, with the author making the point that the man is still "really" straight, it's just this one man he wants. Other times, the man is shown throwing away his heterosexual relationship entirely in favor of starting life anew as a "real" gay man.

For trans* and intersexed characters, the situation is even grimmer. They are almost never featured in fiction at all, not even in the marginalized capacities that bisexual characters can be found! Even worse, trans* characters are often conflated with intersexed characters, which are then treated with an utter lack of respect or medical accuracy. Sometimes, these characters exist for no other reason than to facilitate an mpreg (male pregnancy) storyline. The very real difficulties for trans* and intersexed individuals are hardly ever addressed.

Complicating the matter is the fact that readers of heterosexual romance rarely want to see same-sex contact, and the reverse is true for readers of same-sex romance. And the general lack of common knowledge (and prevalence of misconception) make both writing and reading about trans* and intersexed characters somewhat problematic. And so authors have the tendency to stick to "safer" waters for their subject matter, publishers avoid taking on projects that may challenge their audience and potentially harm sales, and marginalized readers find their voices drowned out by the mainstream clamoring for more of the same.

So, what's the solution? Well, just as the Grand Canyon was once the Completely Uninteresting Gully, the answer lies in time, persistence, and slowly chipping away at the foundation. Other invisible characters have endured and become more prevalent in fiction (admittedly with varying degrees of success – there is always more that can be done!), so we have no doubt that bisexual, trans*, and intersexed characters will begin to appear more frequently and in more positive representations. What it will take are authors willing to write outside their comfort zones, publishers willing to take a chance on a new market, and readers willing to challenge their own perceptions of what characters can be.

This is an area in which we hope Storm Moon Press can stand out. We are actively searching for romances and other fiction that include positive portrayals of bisexual, trans*, and intersexed characters. We have several anthology calls on our site that specifically cater to each of these niche (for now) areas, and we invite authors of these types of characters who have been unable to locate a publisher, as well as those who may not have considered them in the past but are willing to take a chance, to submit a short story to one or more of these collections. We also hope readers will expand their horizons a little bit more and give these sorts of stories a chance. There are wonderful worlds out there filled with unique characters, and they’re just waiting to be given a voice.

Where you can find Storm Moon Press:
Twitter: @stormmoonpress

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Mailbox Monday, What I'm Reading, and What's Beside my Bed

In My Mailbox, It's Monday, What are you Reading, and What's Beside Your Bed are weekly memes hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren, Sheila at Book Journey, and Nanny at Getting Naughty Between the Stacks. Both are great ways to share the books you're either reading, or shifting to the top of your TBR pile (because, let's face it, sometimes a little shifting is the best we can manage!).


Two books for review this week - Better Off Red by Rebekah Weatherspoon and From Russia with Blood by Michael J Lee (via Bewitching Book Tours).


As always, I'm generally hopping between books as the mood grabs me. Teasing me for time and seducing my attentions this week are:

Caressed by Moonlight by Amanda J. Greene
The Devil's Weekend by Jim Bronyaur
The One Percenters by John Podgursky
Forsaken by Andrew Van Wey


As for what's beside my bed this week, that would be a double-shot of Sovereign Erotics edited by Qwo-Li Driskill, and Best Bondage Erotica 2012 edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel.


Well, that's it for now . . . what are you reading?