If you haven't already joined my group Consorting with Sera Trevor, you should sign up! I'm currently giving details about my next project, which hasn't been announced anywhere else (the picture is a hint). Character bios are this week, snippets will come afterward. You don't want to miss it!
At long last, Earthly Pleasures has finally been released! I'm so excited to have this out in the world. Paurick and Laurel's love story was a pleasure to write, and hopefully to read as well! There's been some great early reviews already. Here's what Divine Magazine had to say:
"Earthly Pleasures is a sweet seduction. A unique slice of historical fantasy, that has just a touch of magic and whole lot of lovin' [...] a beautiful, slow burn of chemistry and romance. Earthly Pleasures was a beautiful story about love, growth, faith, and not judging others by their outward appearance. I've already ordered my paperback."
You can buy the ebook for $3.99 here, and Kindle Unlimited subscribers can read it for free. It's also available in paperback for $13.99, if you want that gorgeous Natasha Snow cover for your bookshelf.
Hope you all enjoy it! Would love to know what you think.
So I've got some good news and some bad news. Good news is, I have my cover for Earthly Pleasures, made by the fantastic Natasha Snow! Isn't it great? She perfectly captured the mood of the book - sexy, fun, and a little cheeky. And that model is the PERFECT Prince Paurick!
The bad news? I don't have the book done yet! A combination of running into a plot hole at 75% through the first draft, some health issues, and having my kids at home for the summer derailed me from my original time line. I had really hoped to have this out to you by August, but it's looking more like September. As penance, here's another excerpt - this time from Laurel's point of view. (You can read the first excerpt I posted here.) Enjoy!
The garden was more of a park than anything, with a variety of trees, dozens of types of flowers, a hothouse, and the stables. It was as overwhelming as all the rest, but it was green, and Laurel found himself grow calmer while in it.
The prince led him to a shady spot where some servants were setting up a game for them. He had decided to teach Laurel croquet. Laurel was not very good at it, especially since the prince kept correcting his form by standing behind him and reaching around, moving his hands on the mallet to where they should be.
He was flirting, in other words. Laurel had never been flirted with, and still wasn’t sure how to handle it. Earlier, it had infuriated him because he assumed the prince was either doing it out of pity or else to make fun of him, but now he wasn’t so sure. The artificiality of it still rankled. Even if Laurel were nobility, he never would have caught the prince’s eye. No amount of dressing up would ever make him into one of the dandies he no doubt truly desired.
They finished the game—the prince won, naturally. They sat down at the table that had been set up for them. It was laden with even more refreshments and a pitcher of lemonade, as if they hadn’t just eaten an enormous meal. And there was still supper left after this! Laurel was so full he felt he might never eat again, but he did take the lemonade when it was offered.
“You’re quiet again,” the prince commented. “Don’t tell me you’re a sore loser.”
“Then what has you looking so glum?”
Laurel flexed his fingers over his cool glass. The lemonade was iced. He’d never had an iced drink before. “Why did you get those suits for me?”
“I already told you. If we want to have our fun, I think you would be more comfortable if you blended in, as it were.”
“It’s not because you’re embarrassed to be seen with me?”
“Of course not! I am never embarrassed about anything. Who on earth would try to shame me? It’s one of the chief pleasures of being royalty. Why are you so against wearing them?”
“I took an oath forsaking earthly pleasures.”
“You also took an oath to tell me the truth. Is that really all it is?”
Laurel swallowed. “Those fine things…they won’t make me any prettier when we’re in bed.”
“Still on about that, are you?” The prince heaved a dramatic sigh. “You are utterly unforgiving—and more my type than you realize.”
Laurel’s cheeks burned. “Don’t make fun of me.”
“I wouldn’t dream of it.”
Still so smug, so amused by the poor, ugly temple virgin. Laurel got to his feet and turned away, folding his arms around himself as he fought back tears. He could run away from the prince, or run away from his responsibilities, but not both, and he couldn’t decide which to choose.
The prince was beside him in a moment. He put his hand on Laurel’s shoulder and turned him around. “Perhaps that sounded flippant. Forgive me—in the circles I run in, sincerity is a foreign language, and I’m afraid my accent makes me unintelligible.” He took his hand in his and met his gaze directly. “I am not making fun of you. I want to show you a nice time. Please let me?”
Laurel bit his lip. “I’ve done nothing but insult you. Why would you be kind to me at all?”
“It so happens that I enjoy it when lads are a little mean. There are very few people who have the courage to be rude to a prince. I find it rather refreshing.”
Was he really serious? Laurel pulled away. He couldn’t think clearly when the prince was around. “I would like some time alone.”
The prince dramatically clapped his hands over his heart, as if struck by an arrow. “Oh yes, that’s perfect. You’re driving me wild! Now tell me that you find my company intolerable.”
Laurel paused. “But I don’t.” And it was true. He didn’t anymore.
The prince smiled. “Then we are making progress.” He bowed. “Good afternoon, dearheart.”
Laurel watched him leave, and soon he was alone. But the prince’s absence didn’t make his thoughts any clearer. Indeed, they seemed even muddier than before.
Have you ever had a book change your life?
If you’re a reader, I’m sure you have. That’s one of the reasons we read books. And that was the experience I had when I read Edmond Manning’s King Perry. At the time, I was going through a very painful flare of a chronic illness and was looking for anything to distract me. And that’s all I expected—a distraction to take my mind off the pain. What I got was so much more. It contains incredible insights into loss, suffering, trust and the nature of love, while also being incredibly funny and uplifting. The main character, Vin Vanbly, is one of the most fascinating characters I have ever encountered. It’s a book that benefits strongly from going in completely blind, so I’m not going to spoil it for you. (Although I will say two things: 1) Put your trust in Vin, even when it seems like he doesn't deserve it; and 2) Nothing bad happens to the duck.)
You can buy it on Amazon here, which I suggest you do ASAP. And wonderfully, there are SIX books in the Lost and Founds series: King Mai, The Butterfly King, King John, Come Back to Me, and King Daniel. The series is complete, so you lucky readers who are coming into it now for the first time won't have to wait for the next book!
These books also meant a lot to me as a writer. All writers have their heroes, but most of the time, those heroes are either totally inaccessible, or dead. It really never occurred to me that I could actually, you know, talk to the guy. But then one day I decided why not try? And guess what? HE WROTE BACK! AND HE AGREED TO AN INTERVIEW! Without further ado, here it is!
Do you remember which came first—Vin or the idea of the Lost Kings? Or were they a packaged deal?
Package deal. This answer starts out sounding a little pervy. But here goes.
In 2007, I started chatting online with this nineteen-year-old. (I warned you…sounds pervy.) He was closeted and confident he could never come out. Never. He confessed he was aroused by some “weird stuff” in his opinion, and he doubted he would ever find anyone into similar expressions of his sexuality. He was very cagey and secretive because he didn’t want to share his “weird stuff” with me. Which was fine. We didn’t start out chatting about sex. We were just chatting online. I think he wanted an out/older gay man to talk to about his issues.
Over a few months, he eventually confessed his secret lusts: he fantasized about being dominated by another man. He didn’t want a “Get me a beer, you faggot bitch” kind of experience. He didn’t want to be tied to a wooden cross or chained to a wall in someone’s basement. He was turned on by the idea of being lovingly dominated…loved by a man who truly had his very best in his heart.
(He was also aroused by the idea of cigar smoke, which he thought was just too eccentric for any other man to share. He was shocked when I explained that there are entire fetish weekends devoted to cigar fetish. ☺)
I also tried to convince him that ‘loving domination’ wasn’t that unusual but he refused to believe me. He had never seen anything like that in books or in movies or anywhere, really. What he had seen was controlling and questionable in terms of whose benefit it served. I’m sure loving domination books were available but at the time I wasn’t very well read in M4M, so I couldn’t direct him toward anything.
When he and I started chatting, I was busy writing the GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL but I took a break to write him a short story about a loving, dominating guy named Vin Vanbly. Vin’s passion was to discover the very best inside the rich loving hearts of the men he dominated. Since this wasn’t serious fiction, I tossed in some Joseph Campbell hero’s journey stuff, masculine archetypes (warrior, lover, magician, king), and ridiculous stories about kings. I posted the short story online and promised to let my young friend know if I received any feedback.
Wow, did I get feedback.
Emails poured in from men and women around the world who really responded to Vin’s strange love, his goofy approach to domination. I realized that I was more interested in writing this story about Vin and his kings than the GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL I had been working on. Because I didn’t extend the same enormous expectations and pressure on Vin’s story that I did the GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL, I wrote in a much more relaxed, freer way, closer to my authentic writer’s voice than I had ever done before.
I shared a number of email responses with my online friend who was thrilled to know he wasn’t a freak. I’m no longer in contact with that nineteen-year-old (who would now be twenty-nine). I hope he came out of the closet. I hope he realized he didn’t have to be alone.
I will always be indebted to this young man for introducing me to Vin Vanbly, a fictional friend who would shape the next decade of my writing.
This is really fascinating! I think that this is something that’s very important to being a writer—opening yourself up to other people and seeing what comes of it. You can’t really write good fiction if you don’t understand people. I think it’s awesome that you were able to help that young man explore his desires, and you’ve obviously touched a chord with many other people.
Thank you. Like I said, I have no idea what happened to him. We lost touch. The last time I had any contact with him, King Perry was getting ready to be published by Dreamspinner, and I was able to tell him how much my life had changed by interacting with him.
I LOL’d at the GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL. It’s a little depressing that as a culture, we have this idea of what constitutes Important and Literary writing, when, as you said, writing is better when you develop your own voice. I’m so glad that you were able to find yours!
Yeah, it’s pretty fucked up. I spent so much time focused on the GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL, potentially a decade or more ignoring the stories that were mine to tell because they weren’t grand enough or wouldn’t earn me enough praise or something. I can’t really blame culture for that—that’s on me. It took me a long time to listen to my voice.
Over the weekend, I had dinner with a friend’s friend, and she likes to write. She has a desire to tell stories, but she’s worried she doesn’t have a GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL inside her, and therefore, nothing to say. We spent a lot of time talking about that fallacy, and how to move beyond it—so at least I know I’m not alone in being distracted by that seductive call.
If I tell people that the Lost and Found series is about people going on a spiritual quest toward self-enlightenment, it sounds way fluffier than the books are. It’s more like the most hardcore exposure therapy that has ever existed, with enormous pain and struggle. At the same time, humor is a big component of the series. Was it difficult to balance those elements?
Nobody ever asks about how these three conflicting icebergs of therapy, ideology, and humor come smashing together, so thank you!
I have a Masters degree in Instructional Technology, an emphasis in how adults learn. What experiences change them? My specific area of study in graduate school was the affective domain: how do people learn and internalize beliefs, attitudes, and emotions? That’s what I’ve been studying for my work career for twenty-five years.
In some ways, the king books are an extension of my career. How do people unlearn emotions? Learn new ways of opening their hearts? There’s an entire psychological scaffolding behind each kinging—certain interior walls are deconstructed and new mental/heart structures erected. That kind of mental deconstruction and construction can’t happen non-stop. But you can get a person to do a lot more if you intersperse humor, food, and sex. Those three make everything more palatable. So, really, I used my study of how people learn to develop a plan for how those elements came together.
It probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that you’ve got a degree in this! It makes sense that the process is more effective with those little “release valves” of humor and sex. I know as a reader, there were definitely times when I needed to catch my breath.
Absolutely. Emotional intensity, psychological intensity, not knowing what’s happening next…these are exhausting for readers. I get negative reviews online from folks whose biggest complaint is that they “…didn’t know know what was going to happen next—and I hate that!” I get it. Living in “limbo” for 250 pages is tiring.
The books were written non-chronologically—how did you decide which story to tell when?
I wrote Come Back To Me First. (The short story I wrote for the guy online was Mark and Vin’s story, how they met in a parking lot for the first time and had great sex in a motel room.) It had a different title and wasn’t very polished, quite frankly.
As I mentioned earlier in this document, the story brought me lots of feedback and a new appreciation for voice and the character, Vin Vanbly. I thought to myself, “I bet I could write full novels leading up to how he and Mark met…his strange and lonely life prior to Mark.”
As I pondered the concept and how to work it, I realized that the first book would show Vin polished and powerful—the magician working his craft. He’d be very good, almost flawless, and readers would see a *little* behind the curtain, but not too much. This is “Vin the magician.”
I also realized that this same approach would be boring to read in a second book. Or third. King Perry—as a premise—could only work once exactly like that. And since it wouldn’t be interesting to see Vin get even BETTER at this, that meant we’d have to see Vin get worse. And the way to show him get worse was to show his earlier experiences.
I kept thinking, “But you can’t have the sequel be a prequel and then a prequel to the prequel…you just can’t!” I’d go round-and-round with the premise, what I could show and how, when to show it, what would be revealed. I eventually decided going backward chronologically would give me the opportunity to delve into Vin’s mistakes. One book post-KP (which ended up being King John) would show Vin fail in a completely new way, but also show the toll all these times of being in love and never working out were taking on his already-fractured psyche.
So, I decided that I could work this king premise a total of four times before the books became predictable or just not-as-good.
I could write another 30 paragraphs on why Mai’s tale comes after Perry’s story but chronologically comes before Perry’s story, and why Rance comes after Mai, but before Mai…lots of weird justifications around those decisions. A lot of it had to do with:
• Where Vin was at in his life
• The personality of the man
• The messages about love to be revealed
• Which masculine archetypes (lover, warrior, magician, king) were focused on in each book
All of these were part of the equation. That’s a high-level answer. Ask follow-up questions if you like.
This actually confirms a lot of what I already thought, so yay to me being right! I feel like the order tells the story of Vin and the Kings perfectly. I am surprised that Come Back to Me was written first, though. That makes sense with how different it is from the rest of the books. It also makes sense as the fifth book in the series, since that’s where you really see Vin come undone. The last book brings it all full circle.
I’m so glad it works and confirms some internal knowing for you! When I explain this process, how the books came about, the reason for the sequence, people instantly get it. The premise of King Perry could only work once. The craziness of plans awry in The Butterfly King could only work once. Told in the wrong sequence, people would be like, “Yeah, saw this coming a mile away.” I wanted to keep each book a surprise.
There's a mystical component to the books that I was never quite sure how literally to take. I think that the books are better with the ambiguity, so I'm not looking for a direct answer! But I was wondering how you approached it as a writer.
I like the ambiguity myself. For the first two books, I really wanted that air of, “Is this real or is Vin Vanbly mentally deranged?” Even after all the good he does, you’re not quite sure. In King Mai, the second book, Mai asks, “Who’s Perry?” Vin will meet Perry three years later. But…Perry might also be the name of a boy Mai knew as a kid, so it’s not clear if he’s channeling some sort of secret king wisdom or it’s a childhood friend. Those kind of moments are fun, I think, because you can take the interpretation however you want.
On the other hand (and this gets back to the obligation an author owes a reader), there comes a point at which the author can’t keep shrugging his shoulders and saying, “Maybe…” The popular television show, the X-files, kept jerking around viewers for literally YEARS with “are aliens real or not?” Just when they convinced you the aliens are real, it turns out that it’s a government cover-up operation for a drug ring or something mundane. But the drug ring is a cover up for the alien black goo! But the alien black goo is a biological weapon sponsored by a corrupt judge. But the judge was abducted by aliens!
They kept going back and forth, never committing to a narrative until they just lost peoples’ interest. I like ambiguity…and I do feel the series ends without ever really explaining too much about that mysticism. But during the third book, The Butterfly King, I realized I had to get off the fence. One of the characters, Aric, confirms through his observation of Rance that somehow, the king thing is real. But in the next scene, we finally meet Malcolm, Vin’s brother, who has known Vin for years and doesn’t believe (it seems) in the Found Kings and Lost Ones. The series ends without readers knowing how much Malcolm believes or doesn’t believe.
It’s the point you raised earlier—what’s the author’s obligation to explain? Ultimately, I wanted the readers to decide: is this a fun story or could there be another reality layer to our reality? It boils down to this: do you believe?
Ha ha, don’t get me started on The X-Files! Lost was another show that really struggled with that. I think there’s a difference between being ambiguous and being misleading. One respects the audience’s intelligence, and the other just jerks people around in an exhausting way. I don’t think I’ve really decided where I stand with the Lost and Founds, but that’s the way I like it!
LOST! Those &@#^$^#@$!! During Season 1 of that show, I kept telling people, “It’s like someone watched the X-files and learned from that show’s messy narrative…it’s going to work out great on LOST. There’s a plan!” Ugh. Not so much. I mean, not a satisfying one in any way. (Although I did like Season 5, I will admit.)
People have asked me what happens next for Vin and Mark. If I keep writing those books, and I definitely have ideas…it will destroy all the delicate balance of mysticism in the first six books and I’m not quite ready to do that.
If you ever change your mind, I’d totally be up for it!
Thanks again for chatting with me—it’s been a pleasure!
I've reached the halfway mark in my next novel, Earthly Pleasures! To celebrate, I've decided to share an excerpt with you. This book contains all of my favorite tropes: enemies to lovers, sex magic, arranged marriage (or bond, in this case), first times, and ugly ducklings, to name a few. This book is also a lot steamier than my other fantasies, so be prepared for some sexy times!
Prince Padriac is a hedonistic degenerate—or at least that’s what his mother and the rest of the royal family think of him, and he’s happy to live down to their expectations. But when the crops of their kingdom start failing, the queen commands that Padriac be joined to Brother Laurel, a monk, in order to combine his royal magic with that of the earth Goddess to bring fertility back to the land. The union is only meant to be temporary, but Brother Laurel is so ugly and prudish that it might as well be an eternity. However, as they get to know one another, Padriac realizes he has misjudged Laurel and finds himself falling for the thoughtful and sensitive monk. The fate of the kingdom relies on their sexual union, but as time goes on, it becomes clear that the fate of their hearts is in jeopardy as well.
Padriac had just finished his preparations when there was a knock on the door. When Padriac opened it, he found Brother Laurel standing there, dressed once more in the green robes of the acolyte. His expression was grim as usual, but Padriac did not let that deter him.
“Good evening,” he said with his most charming smile. “I’m so glad you’re here. Please, come in.”
Laurel gave his customary reply—nothing at all. He entered the room swiftly, brushing past Padriac with hardly a second glance. Padriac muttered a brief prayer before shutting the door. Since this was all in service of the Goddess, surely She would offer him a little help.
Laurel stood in the middle of the room, frowning at everything. Padriac cleared his throat and gestured toward the sofa. “Why don’t you have a seat and join me for a glass of wine?” Padriac paused as something occurred to him. “You haven’t taken a vow of silence, have you?”
“No,” Laurel said.
“Excellent. Then sit, please.”
Laurel did not move toward the sofa. “Is there somewhere I can disrobe?” he asked instead.
Padriac blinked. This was moving along more rapidly then he had anticipated. “Certainly. There’s a dressing screen to your left there.”
As Laurel got undressed, Padriac settled on the sofa and poured them both a glass of wine. Laurel emerged soon afterward—he was not nude, but dressed in a strange garment. It was like a nightgown, except that the sleeves were long and snug, and it had a button collar that was done up all the way up. It was not the most erotic of garments, but that did not dissuade Padriac. He patted the sofa beside him. “Come, sit. Have a drink.”
“No, thank you.” Laurel headed for the bed and got in under the covers. “Could you put out the candles?”
Padriac frowned. This was not going as planned, but if Laurel wanted to jump right into it, he supposed that he could accommodate him. Perhaps it was best to get their first time over with—it would take the edge off the situation. After all, they had several months together. He snapped his fingers, extinguishing half of candles, before approaching the bed. “Is that better?”
“I meant all of them.”
“But if I put them all out, how am I to see you?”
“I thought seeing me wasn’t something you would want,” Laurel said stiffly.
Ah. So he was still hung up on that. Padriac sat at the edge of the bed. “I know we got off to a somewhat rocky start, and for that, I apologize. You have to understand that I was taken quite by surprise with the whole situation.” He leaned down, only a breath away now. “I am more than happy to have you in my bed.” He went in for a kiss.
And was shoved backward. “No kissing,” Laurel snapped.
Padriac blinked at him in surprise. “What?”
“No kissing, no touching, other than what is strictly necessary. You might be happy to have me in your bed, but the feeling is not mutual. I am not here for pleasure. I am here in service to the Goddess and to the people. So spare me your seduction. Put out the candles and do your duty.”
It was a truly shriveling outburst. Padriac gritted his teeth. He had promised himself he’d be patient, but this was really testing his resolve. With another snap of his fingers, the candles all went out. He removed his dressing gown, taking care first to remove the vial of oil from its pocket, and hung it on the bedpost. Then he got into bed.
But once he was there, he had no idea what on the Goddess’s green earth he was supposed to do. No kissing—he could understand that much. But what constituted “necessary” touching?
Padriac gave his own cock a few strokes, attempting to coax himself into arousal but was only half successful. He slipped his hands under Laurel’s garment. His skin was clammy to the touch. Padriac caressed his thighs before moving upward, brushing a hand over Laurel’s flaccid prick--
Laurel jerked away. “I said no touching!”
“Well, I’m going to do some touching,” Padriac snapped in exasperation. “I can’t just shove my prick in you with no preparation.”
Laurel was quiet for a moment. “All right,” he finally said. “Just don’t-don’t touch me…there. Just where you need to.”
When Padriac resumed, Laurel was shaking. Padriac pulled back and rubbed his face. This wasn’t going to work. His prick had completely wilted; he had never felt less aroused in his entire life. With a snap of his fingers, the candles lit again.
Laurel, whose eyes had been screwed shut, gradually blinked them open. “Why did you stop?”
“We need to talk.” Padriac grabbed his dressing gown and stood. “Come on, get out of bed. Let’s go sit on the sofa, and I’m afraid I must insist this time.”
Once they were both settled on the sofa (or, well, not “settled” precisely, since Laurel only perched at the edge, as if waiting for a moment to flee), Padriac picked up the wine glasses. “Are you sure you don’t want some?”
Laurel shook his. Padriac downed his glass, and Laurel’s too. He rubbed his face again before speaking. “Are you here of your own free will, or have you been coerced?”
Laurel worried the hem of his garment. “No. I mean, yes, I agreed to this. No coercion.”
“Are you certain?”
“Yes. I volunteered.”
That surprised Padriac, considering how unhappy he clearly was. “You volunteered? Why?”
“Because my connection with the Goddess is among the strongest anyone’s seen in a century,” he said. “The High Priestess herself said so. How could I say no when such a small sacrifice will save so many lives?”
“A noble sentiment,” Padriac conceded. “But it seems to me that it is not such a small sacrifice for you. You’re terrified.”
“I am not,” Laurel said, some of that earlier ferocity back in his voice. Padriac was glad for it—it was certainly more appealing than the frightened fawn demeanor. “I have pledged myself to the Goddess to do Her work on this earth. I will endure whatever I must to end the famine.”
Padriac felt a headache coming on. He poured himself another glass of wine. “That’s all very well for you, but I’m afraid I won’t be up for such an arrangement, if you catch my meaning.”
Laurel’s cheeks flushed. “All right,” he said quietly with his head bowed. “You can kiss me if you need to.”
Padriac considered him. “No, I don’t think so.”
Laurel looked up, confusion in his eyes. “Then what must I do?”
“Nothing for tonight.” Padriac stood. “I’m going to bed.” He made his way to the bed without looking to see if Laurel was following.
Padriac took off his robe and got in under the covers. With a snap of his fingers, the candles extinguished, leaving the room only dimly lit by the fireplace. After a few minutes, Laurel joined him.
When several more minutes had passed with Padriac saying nothing, Laurel spoke up. “I’m ready,” he said, his voice shaky.
“No, you aren’t. And that’s the issue. I’m not touching you until you are comfortable with this.”
“But I am!” Laurel protested.
Quick as lighting, Padriac rolled onto Laurel, supporting himself with his arms on either side of Laurel as he loomed over him. Laurel cried out in surprise and flinched. Padriac looked down at him grimly. “That’s what I thought.” He moved off of him and lay down with his back to Laurel.
“I’m sorry! I’ll do whatever you want—”
“What I want is to get some sleep. I suggest you do the same.”
“So that’s it then?” Laurel’s voice raised in outrage. “You’re just going to abandon your duties and let all those people starve?”
“I doubt very much that we will end the famine in one night. It can wait.”
Silence fell between them. Padriac thought that that would be the end of it, but then Laurel spoke again. “Everything I’ve heard about you is true. You care nothing for duty— the only thing that matters to you is your own pleasure!”
Padriac wasn’t quite sure what to make of that. Was it a genuine outburst of temper, or an attempt to goad him? He rolled onto him again, taking a wrist in each hand. Laurel didn’t flinch this time; he glared up at him, his face flushed again and his jaw clenched tight, his chest heaving. Interesting. Padriac made a mental note of his reaction.
“I am your prince,” Padriac growled. “And you would do well to remember that before you speak in such a manner to me again. And if you think you can shame me into doing what you want, you’d best think again. It doesn’t work when my brother does it, and he’s the crown prince. It certainly won’t work coming from you.” Padriac released him. “Now go to sleep, or get out. I don’t care which.”
Padriac rolled over and shut his eyes. Laurel remained where he was for a few long moments, but then he got out of bed and made his way to the sofa. Which was fine with Padriac. He sighed. Goodness, what a mess. But it was a mess that could wait until morning.
So what did you think? Let me know! I'm so excited for these boys and I hope you are, too. Stay tuned for updates!
I'm pleased to officially announce my latest project and the title. Thanks so much to those of you who have provided feedback!
My next book will be...
Prince Padric is a hedonistic degenerate—or at least that’s what the rest of the royal family think of him, and he’s happy to live down to their expectations. But when the crops of their kingdom start failing, the queen commands that her son be joined to Brother Laurel, a monk, in order to combine the royal magic of the Sun God with that of the fertility magic of the Moon Goddess. The union is only meant to be temporary, but Brother Laurel is so ugly and prudish that it might as well be an eternity. However, as they get to know one another, Padric realizes he has misjudged Laurell and finds himself falling for the thoughtful and sensitive monk. The fate of the kingdom relies on their sexual union, but as time goes on, it becomes clear that the fate of their hearts is in jeopardy as well.
...and it has a brand new cover by the talented Natasha Snow!
Way back in 2014, I wrote my debut novella, Consorting with Dragons, for the Goodreads M/M Romance Group’s Don’t Read in the Closet story telling event. While I had spent ten years writing fan fiction, this was my first foray into original work. I had no idea what reception the book would get. The event was very big, with lots of stories by more established authors. And honestly, I was a little disappointed with how it turned out—because there was a strict time limit on how long I had to write the story, the ending was incredibly rushed. I also didn’t have enough time to really dig into the world building and the relationship between Jasen and Rilvor the way I wanted to.
So I was very surprised that Consorting with Dragons was so well-received. It remains my most popular work, with over 900 ratings on Goodreads. It won third place for Best Debut in the Goodreads M/M Romance Group’s annual Reader’s Choice Awards, and people still contact me to tell me how much they enjoyed it. I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction into the world of original m/m romance!
After the event was over, I immediately began plans to expand the original novella to make it the book that I had hoped to write the first time around. I was sure that it would be just a matter of redoing the ending, adding a couple of other scenes, and voila. Surely that would be easy!
Turns out, not so much. However, four years and three books later, I am happy to announce that the expansion of Consorting with Dragons is at last finished! At around 90,000 words, the book is more than twice as long as the original novella. Don’t worry—the core story hasn’t changed, but now there’s more romance and more hijinks! There are several new characters, such as a sinister minister who plots against Jasen, and an old boyfriend who shows up to make trouble. You’ll get to see more of the Allied Realms, including Rilvor’s home country of Rakon, and of course, Grumhul, where you’ll also meet Queen Urga the Unimpressed. There’s a pair of cursed shoes, a ghost, and a grand ball (it is a Cinderella story, after all). I’m really excited for you guys to read it!
But before I can get it to you, it needs some polishing. I’m hoping to publish it mid-to-late March, April at the latest. In the meantime, I’m making the first three chapters available for free. There’s not much new here other than some tweaks to the world-building (gender equality has come to the Allied Realms!), but if it’s been a while since you’ve read it, you might enjoy refreshing your memory. And if you haven’t read it yet, it’s a good intro! You can claim your copy at Instafreebie or Bookfunnel. Let me know if you have any problems, and I'll get it to you directly. My email is email@example.com.
And while you’re waiting, why not check out some free books? I’ve got two great giveaways I want to tell you about—one that’s romance centered, featuring authors such as Layla Woolf, Abra Harrington, Lina Langley, and Amy Tasukada, among others. There’s some MMF in there with the m/m—I’ve always meant to give that a try, so I snagged a few of those. The other giveaway is for LGBTQ+ fantasy books, with books by JR Thorn, LC Mawson, RA Steffan, and more. Go check them out!
Thanks to everyone for your patience - I know it's been a long wait, but hopefully it will be worth it!
Hello everyone! I wanted to tell you about my friend Gillian's murder mystery novel, which is now up for consideration at Kindle Scout. It's a vintage detective story with a queer hero. I'm a huge fan of historical novels, but it's really tough to pull off those kinds of stories with LGBT protagonists. She's managed it splendidly, and it's a fanastic mystery to boot.
She's put in up on Kindle Scouts, which is a program to help aspiring authors get a contract with Amazon. In order to make that happen, she needs votes! You can read all about the book and how you can help on her blog. I hope you check it out -- if you like my writing, you will definitely like hers!
PS - I have an announcement about my own project to make soon - hopefully in a day or so. :)
The holiday season is a time of joy...except when it's not!
The Charity Shop Rejects Live in Concert is the third book in Gillian St. Kevern's For the Love of Christmas! series, which includes The Ugliest Sweater and Ibiza on Ice. I highly recommend all of them, but The Charity Shop Rejects also can be read as a stand-alone. The whole series is a laugh riot, but Gillian also includes a lot of the anxiety that can come from "the most wonderful time of the year." This book is the perfect break from the hectic holidays.
Mikaal Sarhadi has been in trouble since the moment he met guitarist Declan Hyde. Declan treats music like religion, setting high standards for himself and his bandmates. Mikaal struggles to even step on stage. He will do anything to justify Declan’s belief in him—even if that means ignoring the powerful attraction between them.
After a chance meeting with Brandon, Declan’s estranged brother, reveals just how much Declan will sacrifice for his music, Mikaal wonders if he can even call himself a musician. Worse, drummer Hiro’s visa application has been denied. With time running out for The Charity Shop Rejects, Mikaal must conquer his stage fright or lose music—and Declan—entirely.
And now, I'm very pleased to have Gillian on my blog to answer a few questions about ugly clothes, the perils of the holiday season, and how to deal with self-doubt.
In the “The Ugliest Sweater,” Dan has a hideous Christmas sweater and refuses to give it up, even though his past boyfriends found it so embarrassing that they’d rather break up with him than be seen with him in it. Have you ever had an item of clothing that you knew was objectively pretty terrible, but still loved it nonetheless?
How did you know? I saw my ugly cardigan in a mall in Japan and it was so ugly I had to stop and point it out to the friends I was with. It’s a union jack design, but with tan instead of blue, and crimson instead of red. It’s got a black trim, and none of the buttons match. There’s even extra unnecessary buttons. It’s one of those ‘only in Japan’ clothing items. Anyway, after spending two days thinking about it, I went back to the mall and bought it--I kind of had to. Clearly I was the only person who could give it the love it so deserved.
In “Ibiza on Ice,” Dan’s ex-boyfriend, Aston, gets a redemption arc. He’s pretty obsessed with his reputation, but through the course of the story, Aston learns to be more comfortable with himself. Learning not to care about what other people think is a theme that runs through the series. Do you think there’s something special about the holiday season that helps make that sort of transformation easier?
I actually think it’s the opposite. The fact that the end of the year is a time to reflect on accomplishments and where people are combined with the fact that it’s a huge time for commercialism means that what should be a season for family, for thankfulness and special moments too often becomes about getting the best present, having the perfect Christmas dinner, and competing with friends and family for the best life. There’s so much external pressure from relatives, and a lot of internal pressure created by advertisers selling the perfect Christmas, that it is really easy to get swept up and lost in the seasonal madness. Which is why, I think, that the importance of recognising what matters to you and going for it is such a big part of this series. We all need this reminder--but we need it even more at this time of year!
In “The Charity Shop Rejects,” Mikaal has some self-doubts that are crippling his dreams of being a successful musician. How do you deal with self-doubt?
Usually, when I experience self-doubt, it’s because I’ve fallen into the trap of comparing myself to others--mostly other authors, but sometimes family members or friends whose careers are going places I’m not. When I recognise this is having an effect on my happiness and productivity, I take some time out for myself. I disengage from social media, and do something that makes me happy (usually reading a book, but most recently marathoning Baywatching, a Youtube series where a comedian reviews episodes of Baywatch). I then go back and spend some time doing what is most important to me--writing. When I’m back in a good writing routine and am feeling happy and productive, I’m ready to go back to social media. I’m also really fortunate that I have a number of good writing friends who I can share that I’m in a down mood and they can commiserate with me--because they’re in the same boat.
And finally, just for fun, what’s your favorite holiday movie?
The Santa Clause. I’m not a Tim Allen fan, but this movie--everything about it is gold. As a young kid with divorced parents, I really appreciated a holiday movie that didn’t center on a perfect nuclear family. The fact that Scott’s transformation into Santa Claus included making peace with his wife’s new partner was really special. There’s also the elves (I love Bernard! He is the best!) and there are some truly hideous sweaters in the movie, too.
The Charity Shop Rejects Live in Concert will go on live on December 18 and will be available at all major retailers. You can preorder your copy on Amazon and NineStar Press!
What is a curse?
It’s something dark that hangs over your life. You didn’t ask for it. You don’t deserve it. There is no adequate explanation. Maybe it’s a disease—one that’s devastated you or someone you love. Maybe it’s a shitty childhood, or a dead-end job, or debts you had to take just to keep your head above water. Maybe it’s an accident that changed your life. Maybe it’s a person you shouldn’t have let in, or one who broke in and won’t leave.
Whatever it is, it sucks. And everyone has one.
My curse is a mood disorder. It’s one of the scarier ones—it rhymes with “high roller.” The thing about being a high roller is that mostly, you roll low. Two years ago, I was barely rolling at all. To cheer myself up, I thought it would be funny to write a vampire romance where the mortal is the cynical, brooding character, and the vampire is a total doofus. It got a laugh out of me when I wasn’t doing a whole lot of laughing.
The book, as you have probably determined, became Curses, Foiled Again. Felix is my big, doofy vampire, and John is my brooding mortal. John and I don’t have a lot in common, but we both are on the receiving end of familial curses, and we both have a tendency to be fatalistic about it.
But that’s the thing about curses—the more you brood about them, the worse they get. I wish I could tell you how to break your curse, but most curses can’t be broken. However, I can tell you your curse’s big weakness—it feeds on your energy. It wants it, but it can’t take it. You can move that energy elsewhere.
So I took my energy and made it into a book, and my curse got a little weaker. There’s probably something in your life that deserves your energy more than your curse—find it and nurture it. You can’t break your curse completely – but you can foil it.
Curses, Foiled Again is now available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, NineStar, and iBooks.
Give her a mask and she'll tell you the truth.