Category Archives: Bloghop

Guest Blog: “Oberon Cycle Book Two: Lander” by J. Scott Coatsworth

LanderJ. Scott Coatsworth has a new MM Sci Fi book out:

Sometimes the world needs saving twice.

In the sequel to the Rainbow-Award-winning Skythane, Xander and Jameson thought they’d fulfilled their destiny when they brought the worlds of Oberon and Titania back together, but their short-lived moment of triumph is over.

Reunification has thrown the world into chaos. A great storm ravaged Xander’s kingdom of Gaelan, leaving the winged skythane people struggling to survive. Their old enemy, Obercorp, is biding its time, waiting to strike. And to the north, a dangerous new adversary gathers strength, while an unexpected ally awaits them.

In the midst of it all, Xander’s ex Alix returns, and Xander and Jameson discover that their love for each other may have been drug-induced.

Are they truly destined for each other, or is what they feel concocted? And can they face an even greater challenge when their world needs them most?

The Oberon Cycle: Book Two

About the Oberon Cycle:

Xander is a skythane man whose wings have always been a liability on the lander-dominated half world of Oberon.

Jameson is a lander who has been sent to Oberon to find out why the supply of the psycho-amoratic drug pith has dropped off.

What neither knows is that they have a shared destiny that will change the two of them – and all of Oberon – forever.

Dreamspinner – eBook | Dreamspinner – Paperback

Amazon US

Barnes & Noble



QueeRomance Ink

Goodreads Link


Scott is giving away a $25 Amazon gift certificate and three copies of his queer sci fi eBook “The Stark Divide.”

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Lander banner

Xander stared at the torrent of water pouring over the cavern entrance. Somewhere out there, Quince and the others were lost in the storm.

“What happened to everyone else?” Jameson shouted, putting his hand on Xander’s shoulder.

“I don’t know. Last I saw them was before the lightning strike.” How had things changed so quickly?

Jameson started toward the exit. “We have to look for them!”

Xander pulled him back.

Jameson’s eyes were wild.

He squeezed Jameson’s hands, trying to reassure him. “Hey, calm down. There’s nothing we can do right now.”

“We already lost Morgan.” Jameson’s eyes pleaded with him. “I can’t lose the rest of them.”

Xander shook his head. “It’s no use. We’ll never find them in this tempest. They’re seasoned veterans. They can take care of themselves. We’ll go looking after the storm passes.” The loss of Morgan weighed on him too, though he was less and less certain that Morgan had been a human boy at all.

Jameson looked doubtful.

Xander felt it too, but there really was nothing they could do. “Hey, it’s gonna be all right.” He pulled Jameson to him, enfolding the two of them with his wings. Jameson was soaked, but Xander didn’t care.

Jameson nodded against his chest. “You’re right. Gods, I know you’re right. I’m sorry. I thought we were done with all this.”

Xander held him out at arm’s length. “Gods, huh? We’re doing the plural thing now?”

Jameson gave him a half smile. “Trying it out? When in Rome….”

“How’s your hearing?”

Jameson cocked his head. “It’s better. But everything sounds muffled.”

Xander nodded. “I can tell.”

Jameson blushed. “Am I talking too loud?”

“Just a little.”

Jameson smiled sheepishly. “It’s weird. It feels like my ears are full of water.”

Xander kissed him gently. “It’ll pass.” He looked around the cavern at last, his eyes gradually adjusting to the dim blue light.

The place was a faeryland, filled with rows of golden stalactites and stalagmites, like the bulwarks of an eldritch castle. Each one was a miracle of minute detail, like candle wax dripped from above. The whole cavern was lit by a turquoise-blue glow.

Xander looked around for the source. It came from pools of water on either side of the cavern. The scintillating light shimmered along the walls, creating complex, ever-changing patterns.

“Look, Jameson… it’s beautiful.” They were both a muddy mess. “We’re stuck here until the storm blows itself out. Why don’t we get cleaned up and try to rest? Then we can figure out what to do next. We have a long flight to Gaelan.” He was still shivering from the rain.

“A bath sounds like heaven.” Jameson let Xander lead him to one of the glowing ponds.

“Do you think it’s safe to go in?” Xander asked, pulling off his boots and testing the water with his toes. It was warm.

Jameson looked queasy, but then he smiled. “They called them faery ponds. There’s a microscopic organism that makes the light. It’s harmless, but beautiful.” He grinned. “Romantic, even.”

Ah, that’s how you knew this place. “You’ve been here before, haven’t you?” he said, slowly and clearly, gesturing to indicate Jameson and the cavern. His own generational memories were still fleeting, occasional things.

Jameson’s smile fled. He shrugged. “Not me personally….”

“Shhh. I know.” If he closed his eyes and focused, he could see this place too, but he seemed to be able to block them out when they were inconvenient. “Too many memories.” Xander pointed at his head.

Jameson nodded. He looked relieved. He reached out and pulled Xander close, his hands warm on Xander’s waist.

Xander slipped his arms around Jameson and kissed him once, twice. He wrinkled his nose. “You’re filthy and you stink! So do I.” He held up his shirt as proof. It was covered in mud stains.

Jameson laughed. “We can fix that.”

He helped Jameson unlace the sides of his shirt, pulling it off to reveal the naked skin underneath. Jameson returned the favor, his hands lingering for a moment before withdrawing to pull down his own pants.

They shucked their wet and dirty clothes and descended into the water. It was surprisingly warm, silky and smooth around Xander’s waist.

The pool was about three meters across and sloped down to about a meter deep at the far end. There was a warm, gentle current drifting past Xander’s legs, and the stone beneath his feet had been worn smooth by water and time.

Xander washed the grime off his skin, and it drifted off into the water around him.

Jameson pulled him in deeper and gestured for him to lower his head.

Xander lay in Jameson’s arms, and warm water washed over him, carrying the mud and dirt out of his hair. Jameson massaged his scalp, pulling away the twigs and bits of gunk he’d accumulated on the mad run through the forest in the storm.

Xander’s desire threatened to overwhelm him at Jameson’s gentle touch. He dipped his face into the water and rinsed off. It was so fucking good to get clean.

He shook his head, splashing Jameson, who shot him an aggrieved look.

The look turned into a wicked grin, and Jameson splashed him back. Then they were going after each other and laughing, a fine mist of water flying through the air.

Damn, it’s good to hear you laugh again. Xander grabbed Jameson and kissed him, harder this time, and Jameson’s body responded. They fell back into the water, and Jameson was hard against him, his own need naked before Xander’s desire.

After all that had happened, Xander needed to feel human and alive again. He tugged Jameson back to the shallow part of the pool and pulled his skythane down on top of him, Jameson’s skin warm against his own.

He kissed Jameson’s neck and nibbled on his ear, eliciting a low moan.

Jameson wanted this as much as he did. He could tell.

For a long, slow, ecstatic hour, Xander forgot all about the storm.

Author Bio

ScottScott lives between the here and now and the what could be. Indoctrinated into fantasy and sci fi by his mother at the tender age of nine, he devoured her library. But as he grew up, he wondered where the people like him were.

He decided it was time to create the kinds of stories he couldn’t find at Waldenbooks. If there weren’t gay characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends.

His friends say Scott’s brain works a little differently – he sees relationships between things that others miss, and gets more done in a day than most folks manage in a week. He seeks to transform traditional sci fi, fantasy, and contemporary worlds into something unexpected.

He runs Queer Sci Fi and QueeRomance Ink with his husband Mark, sites that bring queer people together to promote and celebrate fiction that reflects their own reality.

Author Website:

Author Facebook (Personal):

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Filed under Bloghop, Excerpt, gay, LGBT, New Release, SciFi

Does it matter if Lincoln was gay? Yes, it does.

UmbrellaNo Year

May 17th is the  International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia, and from May 17-24, we will be celebrating with the:

Hop for Visibility Awareness and Equality

At the bottom of this post, you can check out the other authors, reviewers, and allies who have blogs in the hop, and if you leave a comment with an email address, or send me a private email at, you’ll be entered into a giveaway for any eBook in my back catalog, or the audiobook for my latest novel, Violated.

~ * ~

I’d like to talk a few minutes about one of our US presidents….

Recently, I saw another article about the sexuality of Abraham Lincoln making the rounds on social media. Abraham Lincoln: A life in the closet? made a good case for Lincoln being gay or bisexual, though as is often the case on Facebook, the article turns out to be several years old.

The evidence that Lincoln had very strong, even passionate, attachments to men throughout his life is fairly strong. He wrote several letters to these men, using language that seems oddly intense for just friendship, and insisted upon sharing a bed with more than one man. Times were, of course, different back then. Our culture wasn’t as quick to see sexual interest in an emotionally close friendship between two men, and the practice of sharing a bed was common when there weren’t enough beds to go around.

Several things seem… off… with this interpretation, however. One is that Lincoln continued to share a bed with men well into his later years, when he was no longer poor and living in mean circumstances. In fact, he was rumored to share his bed—and a nightshirt—with his bodyguard while president, whenever his wife was away. He certainly didn’t need to do so.

But, to me, the largest hole in the “it was perfectly ordinary for a man to behave this way in those times” argument is the fact that several of Lincoln’s contemporaries commented upon the fact that it was not ordinary. To quote wikipedia (which in turn, is paraphrasing Michael B. Chesson in an afterward of CA Tripp‘s book The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln):

Elizabeth Woodbury Fox, the wife of Lincoln’s naval aide, wrote in her diary for November 16, 1862, “Tish says, ‘Oh, there is a Bucktail soldier here devoted to the president, drives with him, and when Mrs. L. is not home, sleeps with him.’ What stuff!”

Of course, there are plenty of detractors of the book (one might even say “haters”), and the quote is equally picked apart, with people debating whether “What stuff!” meant “What juicy gossip!” or “What nonsense!” I personally sense a little of both, as in, “Nobody would take that seriously… would they?” Regardless, this salacious bit of gossip clearly was not describing something a lot of men might do. It was scandalous.

My big question is, “Why is it so important that Lincoln be 100 percent heterosexual?”

Not, “Why is it important for Lincoln—or any other well-respected historical figure—to be seen as LGBTQ?” I already know the answer to that. It’s important, because we have largely been eradicated from the history books.

Lincoln-Up-CloseLincoln lived in a time period where it would not have been acceptable for him to come right out and say, “I’m in love with a man, and I’m going to marry him.” Likewise, nobody could have asked him, “Were you in love with Joshua Speed?” It simply wasn’t talked about. So if we’re forced to glean the truth from insufficient evidence and hearsay, don’t blame the LGBTQ community. (On a side note, I often hear the assertion that since “gay” didn’t mean the same thing back then, people couldn’t really be “gay.” I’m sure that would have been good news to the men and women who were imprisoned and killed throughout history for same-sex relationships. Look, there have always been people who preferred sex with others of their gender—or both genders. Always. What changed over time was the idea that this could form the core of a person’s life and identity.)

But we live in different times, don’t we? Today it’s perfectly acceptable for a man to be gay, and even to marry another man. Isn’t that right? If that were really the case, I doubt the suggestion that one of our revered former presidents might have had sex with men would send people into such fits.

Consider this:

Another contemporary of the young Lincoln was a woman named Ann Rutledge. She was engaged to marry a man named  John MacNamar, but she knew Lincoln, and many speculate that he was in love with her. She died at the age of 22, when their town was hit by typhoid fever. Supposedly, Lincoln was asked by a friend if he’d been in love with her, and he replied, “It is true—true indeed I did. I loved the woman dearly and soundly: She was a handsome girl—would have made a good, loving wife… I did honestly and truly love the girl and think often, often of her now.”

Nobody knows if Lincoln really said this. According to JG Randall in an essay entitled “Sifting the Ann Rutledge Evidence”:

“The most obvious thing about this effusive statement is its unLincolnian quality.” Noting how disinclined Lincoln always was to express private feelings, Randall added, “In the face of such reticence, the Cogdal record seems artificial and made to order. It was given out after Lincoln’s death; it presents him in an unlikely role; it puts in his mouth uncharacteristic sayings.”

The Strange Case of Isaac Cogdal )

Yet there have been popular films and books about the relationship between Lincoln and Rutledge since 1919, and this incident is frequently used to “disprove” the assertion that Lincoln fell in love with men (as if he couldn’t possibly be bisexual). Rejecting the tenuous evidence for Lincoln’s same-sex relationships, while accepting the equally tenuous evidence for a relationship with Rutledge says “heterosexual bias” to me more than it says “desire for historical accuracy.”

abraham-lincoln-quotes-hd-wallpaper-4Ultimately, this isn’t really about Abraham Lincoln. It’s about all the historical figures where we have evidence indicating they may have been LGBTQ. Lincoln may or may not have had same-sex relationships. We’ll probably never know. But why on earth would we look at his history of close relationships with men, his fond letters to them, and the rumors surrounding his relationships, yet ignore all of that in favor of the assumption he couldn’t possibly have been gay or bisexual? Does that really make sense?

Only from the perspective of someone who assumes heterosexual and cisgender is “normal.” And that attitude needs to change.

Even if we’re wrong about some of those historical figures, we’re not wrong about all of them. Some were gay or lesbian or bisexual or trans. Their voices were silenced by the societies they lived in, so they were frequently unable to safely be honest about their sexuality. Either they pretended to be heterosexual and cisgendered, or they remained quiet and allowed everyone to assume they were. But LGBTQ people living today deserve to know that in the past many of us did great things.  We need to hear more about LGBTQ people in history than how the world treated us whenever we were discovered.

Yes, it’s possible we’re making false assumptions about some historical figures. But if we really do believe it’s okay to be LGBTQ, and we’re not just paying it lip-service, we shouldn’t look upon the suggestion that a particular person might have been LGBTQ as diminishing their memory. I grew up thinking Abraham Lincoln was heterosexual. It didn’t make me think any less of him. If somebody can’t respect the man after learning he might have been gay or bisexual, then that’s their failing—not his.

~ * ~

Remember to leave a comment with an email address, or send me a private email at, to be entered into a giveaway for any eBook in my back catalog, or the audiobook for my latest novel, Violated!


Blog Hop for Visibility, Awareness and Equality.

1. Tyler Robbins (M/M, M/M/M) 24. Heloise West (M/M) 47. Sean Michael
2. N.S. Beranek(Gay) 25. Angel Martinez (M/M GAY BI TR) 48. Remmy Duchene (MM)
3. The Novel Approach/Lisa Horan 26. Amelia Bishop (MULTI) 49. Sharita Lira writing as BLMorticia M/M
4. B. A. Brock (BI TR GAY LES) 27. Moonbeams over Atlanta – Eloreen Moon (MM, REV, MULTI) 50. Barbara Winkes (LES)
5. Jamie Fessenden 28. Helena Stone (M/M ) 51. Bronwyn Heeley (m/m)
6. Rory Ni Coileain 29. AM Leibowitz (M/M, F/F, BI, TR, NB, REV) 52. L. J. LaBarthe
7. Erica Pike (M/M) 30. L.D. Blakeley (M/M, BI) 53. VJ Summers (m/m, m/m/f)
8. Andrew Jericho (GAY) 31. Lila Leigh Hunter [M/M, BI] 54. Nikka Michaels (M/M)
9. Tempeste O’Riley (M/M (Bi) (NB) 32. Sharon Bidwell 55. Caraway Carter (LGBT)
10. The Macaronis [various] 33. Nicole Dennis (M/M, ACE, M/M/F) 56. L M Somerton (M/M)
11. Elin Gregory [mm] 34. Lexi Ander 57. Taylor Law (GAY)
12. Alexa MIlne 35. Barbara G.Tarn (M/M, ACE) 58. Anastasia Vitsky (F/F, TR, BI)
13. Nic Starr (M/M) 36. Kaje Harper M/M, TR, BI 59. Draven St. James (M/M)
14. Evelise Archer (MM) 37. JMS Books LLC 60. A.V. Sanders (GAY, ACE, NB)
15. Sue Brown 38. JM Snyder 61. Lynley Wayne
16. Elizabeth Varlet (M/M, BI, NB) 39. Dean Pace-Frech 62. DP Denman (GAY)
17. Raven J. Spencer 40. Kimber Vale 63. M.A. Church M/M
18. Sharing Links and Wisdom (REV) 41. Jacintha Topaz (BI, F/F, M/M, TR) 64. Andrew J. Peters GAY
19. Lisa Horan (REV/Multi) 42. Prism Book Alliance® (MULTI) 65. Dianne Hartsock MM
20. Archer Kay Leah (M/M, F/F, TR, NB, BI, ACE) 43. Eva Lefoy (M/M, F/F, F/M/F, BI, MULTI) 66. M. LeAnne Phoenix M/M F/F
21. Alexis Duran (M/M) 44. Lou Sylvre (M/M) 67. Cherie Noel (M/M)
22. Jules Dixon 45. Anne Barwell 68. Chris McHart (M/M, Trans*)
23. R.M. Olivia 46. Viki Lyn (M/M)


Filed under Bisexual, Bloghop, gay, GLBT History, Historical, Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia, Hop for Visibility Awareness and Equality, Jamie Fessenden, Transgender

Sex Positivity Blog Hop – My experience with slut-shaming

spbhbanner-3I’m posting today as part of the Sex Positivity Blog Hop created by Grace Duncan.  The idea behind it is for romance authors to share positive views about sex, as opposed to the negative views presented so often in the media and in our culture.  I’m a story-teller, so I prefer to discuss things like this as they relate to me personally, as part of the story of my life, rather than in the abstract.  And I’ll use kittens to illustrate my points, because… well, they’re cute.

To see the other stops on the blog hop, go here.

black catI’ve always had a very casual attitude toward sex—it’s fun and I enjoy it, but I’ve never connected it to love.  Love is how I feel about a very select few people in my life, including my husband, of course.  But sex?  I’ve had a lot of it.  Some of it was with friends, and some was with people I didn’t know.  I’ve tried nearly every position I can think of, and quite a few kinks.  Some of it was special, some of it was incredibly hot, some of it was awful.  But only when it was with someone I cared about deeply did it have any emotional power.

I’m not saying this is the way everybody should feel about sex, but it’s the way I’m wired.  Love is love, and sex is for fun.

It surprised me to learn, as I grew older, that some people found me disgusting because of this.  One of the most hurtful things that happened to me when I was dating was when I was on a second date with a man I was very attracted to.  We ended up back at my apartment, making out passionately on my bed.  I assumed this meant we would be having sex soon, so I joked, “I’ll warn you—I’m easy!”

386200_2673280425520_1061443511_32785704_1832786642_n.jpgHe jerked away and said in a disgusted voice, “I’m not!”  Then he left, and I never saw him again.  All calls to his number went unanswered.

I ran into more men like this over the years—men who initially found me attractive, but quickly dumped me when they found out I’d had a lot of sex in the past.  I was now “damaged goods.”  And because they saw me as worthless—certainly not as someone they could have a relationship with—to offer to have sex with them seemed to insult them.  “How dare you think I would stoop to having sex with someone like you?”

Once, when I went to look at an apartment, the landlord accosted me, pulling me into a dark room and yanking down my pants.  I didn’t want it—I was dating someone, at the time, and I found this man to be repulsive—so I struggled to get free of him, and ended up fleeing with one hand pulling my pants up as I ran.  I told my boyfriend about it that night, and he responded by sneering at me and saying, “That figures.  What did you do to encourage him?”

Luckily I continue dating nevertheless, meeting people everywhere and going online on those free trial chatlines,that helps people meet new people, and then I found Erich.

So, needless to say, by the time I met Erich, I was used to people thinking I was a “slut.”  It wasn’t so much that I thought badly of myself for my sexual history, but I was convinced I’d given up whatever chance I might have had for a permanent relationship.

kitten cuddleThank God for Erich.  Our first “date” was more of a geeky study group for two.  We were both interested in Old Norse, the language spoken by the Vikings, so we met at my apartment to go over some lessons.  When we got tired of that, we ended up making out.  I came onto him, and he didn’t play hard to get or act offended.  He acted as if he was lucky to have found me.  And I quickly realized I was lucky to have found him.

We’ve been together for thirteen years now.  We’ll be celebrating our fourth wedding anniversary this week, in fact.  During this time, Erich has always enjoyed hearing about the sexual antics I used to get up to in my youth.  He hadn’t been quite so adventuresome himself.  But whenever I mention how men used to make me feel there was something “tainted” about me for being so experienced, he pulls me into his arms and laughs.  “Then they missed out,” he tells me.  “I love hearing your stories.  I think they’re hot.”

So I may not be the type of guy every man wants to marry.  But that doesn’t matter anymore, because Erich wanted to marry me.

I wrote about some of this, fictionalized, in my novel Screwups.  What happened to Danny isn’t true—not for me, at least, though sadly it does happen to some high school students.  Some have committed suicide over it.  But his feelings of being sleazy and not good enough to be Jake’s boyfriend—of having screwed up his life—I understood all too well.  And many of the events that occur in the dorm really did happen to me, though of course I’ve inserted my fictional characters into them.  Eaton House did in fact have nude pizza parties, people chasing each other through the dorm naked, and residents posing nude in the lounge for art students.

One thing I left out of the novel was the time I streaked the dorm covered head to toe in nothing but marshmallow fluff.

Ah… good times….

To buy a copy of Screwups, look for it at Dreamspinner Press or Amazon.


Filed under Bloghop, College, Contemporary, Jamie Fessenden, Life, Nudity, Sex, Sex Positivity

The Equal Rights Blog Hop: Coming Out in the 80s

Coming Out in Small Town New England in the 80s


Welcome to the Equal Rights Blog Hop! Each year, members of the the GLBTQ community and their supporters gather to celebrate the battle for equal rights. This year, thirty different authors have joined in the hop, and there are prizes galore! Be sure to check out the entire prize list at Queertown Abbey and see how you can enter to win the rafflecopter–as well as the Master List of Participating Authors.

I came out in 1983 in Keene, NH, a town with a population of about 23,000.  This was not a great time to be gay in America.  Homosexuality was still classified as a mental illness (until it was reclassified in an addendum to the DSM-III in 1987), and just one year after I came out, a young, openly gay man named Charlie Howard drowned, after being beaten and thrown off a bridge in Bangor, Maine—the town I was born in.

The world was not yet ready for us—for me.

I was actually lucky.  Though I’d spent some time in fundamentalist churches and, not to put too fine a point on it, been seriously screwed up by their loathing of homosexuals, my parents were not mean people.  In 1983, I was living with my mother—a psychologist—and she handled the revelation that her oldest son was gay pretty well.  My problems were self-loathing, taught to me by the church and society, and sheer loneliness.

Apparently, my self-loathing didn’t go very deep, because I was able to get over that within a few years of meeting other gay men and starting to date.  Thank God.  But that first obstacle—meeting other gay men—was a challenge.  Keep in mind, they didn’t want to be found.  Not by anyone who wasn’t gay.  And that made it hard for those who were gay to find them too.

It took me about a year to go from coming out to finally meeting another gay man.  Any gay man.

A friend of mine had heard that one of the local supermarket papers had personals for gays as well as straight people, so I picked up a copy.  There were a few GWM (Gay White Male) Seeking… hookups, mostly.  I found most of them kind of creepy.  But there was one from a man just a few years older than myself, and he appeared to be looking for someone to hang out with—not necessarily sex.  So I agonized over my response and finally sent a letter that just copied his ad, replacing his age with mine.

Fortunately, Michael thought it was cute.  He called and we arranged to meet in a public place.  Again, I was lucky.  Michael didn’t turn out to be my One True Soulmate, but he did turn out to be a caring, attractive man who made me feel good about myself and, as someone who worked in public radio news, he opened my eyes to the world around me.  And yes, he also became my first lover. For the record, he didn’t seduce me—I pretty much threw myself at him.

It was also through Michael that I finally found the Gay community in Keene.  It turned out they moved every month from one house to another, the next month’s location published in a newsletter distributed only to members, and then marked by purple balloons attached to the house’s mailbox when the time came.

At this time, there wasn’t much of an “LGBT” community.  Gay men did not hang out with lesbians, and the two groups frequently badmouthed each other.  Bisexuals and transgendered people were, I’m sad to say, treated with mockery.  Michael wasn’t like that. He and I rented rooms from a lesbian couple and he had friends who were bisexual, so I learned not to absorb the cliquish attitudes I encountered in the men’s group.  But we certainly weren’t any more welcome at the lesbian group than our landlady and her partner were welcome at the men’s group.

I recall being baffled, at the time.  I couldn’t understand why we didn’t all ban together and recognize we had a common cause.  I can’t tell you how much better things got for all of us in the 90s, when this began to happen.

To enter the grand prize drawing at Queer Town Abbey, please answer this question — WHAT TOWN DID I LIVE IN WHEN I CAME OUT?

Then, go to this link–

What you do next, will be explained there!





Filed under Bloghop, gay, GLBT History, Jamie Fessenden, Life

The World’s Most Disorganized Blog Tour

MurderousRequieum_ORIGSo I hear it’s a good idea to do a blog tour, when your novel comes out. This consists of guest posts on other author’s blogs in a fairly organized sequence, promoting your book and generally giving away free copies.

Well, I’ve been trying to do that with Murderous Requiem since it came out, but the “organized” part has completely eluded me.  Some of you may have seen some of the posts go by, but I utterly failed to present them in any kind of orderly manner.

However, for anyone interested in Murderous Requiem, there has been some interesting information in these posts, concerning magick, Marsillio Ficino, herbalism, Renaissance music, and other subjects that come up in the novel.  So even though many of them are no longer giving away free copies, I thought I should post them in a list here, just so they’re easily accessible.

I intend to post one or two more, before I’m done with it.  And the one on Renaissance music (on Shira Anthony‘s blog) still has a free giveaway going on until July 7th!

The Chaotic Murderous Requiem Blog Tour:

April 15th:  Magick and the Occult on Grace Duncan’s Blog

April 27th:  Excerpt on Butterfly-o-Meter Books (L.E. Olteano)

May 8th:  Herbal Teas and Remedies on Kim Fielding’s Blog

May 10th:  Marsilio Ficino on K.Z. Snow’s Blog

May 20th:  Greek Musical Notation on Skylar M. Cates’s Blog

June 30th:  Renaissance Music on Shira Anthony’s Blog (free giveaway until July 7th!)

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Filed under Bloghop, gay, Guest Blogger, Murderous Requiem, Mystery, New Release, occult, Occult/Paranormal, Romance, Writing

Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia 2013

2013 2Today, May 17th, is the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, an event designed to get people to rally together in this ongoing fight.

To that end, I’m participating in the 2013 Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia, in which almost 200 authors, publishers, reviewers, and cover designers of LGBTQ literature promote awareness of discrimination against the LGBTQ community on their blogs.

Each blog is also contributing a prize.  My prize, for one lucky person who leaves a comment on this blog, is a free copy—either digital or a signed paperback, your choice!—of my novel, By That Sin Fell the Angels, about a small New England community reeling from the suicide of a young gay teenager… who happened to be the son of a prominent fundamentalist pastor in town.

This novel is loosely based upon my own experiences as a teenager in a fundamentalist community.  I came into this community late, though already devoutly Christian.  When my parents had been married, we lived in the small town of Gorham, NH, where much of my life revolved around the church—I believe our church, if I read Google maps correctly, was the United Church of Christ—including Sunday services, Sunday school, after school Bible study, church socials, church potlucks (with more Jell-O salad than you could shake a stick at), and church-run Easter egg hunts in the park.  For a short time, one of my best friends was the pastor’s daughter.

According to Wikipedia, that church is a fairly socially liberal Protestant church these days (not to be confused with other similarly named churches), which might explain why I managed to grow up very liberal.  But this was the seventies, and the community was still pretty conservative about some things.  When my mother divorced my father, she wasn’t treated particularly well and ended up withdrawing from the church, as a result.  But I held onto my faith, reading the Bible on my own.  Not all the time, mind you, but now and then—especially during the holidays.

Then puberty struck.  It took two weeks—literally—for me to go from “It feels good when I rub this!” to “My God!  How do I get rid of this mess!”  And although I was confused for a while by crushes on both boys and girls, I have no recollection of ever feeling the slightest bit of arousal when looking at girls.  But I have a very distinct memory of watching a male friend undress in our living room after swimming.  We were eleven and I thought he was utterly fascinating.

Still, I didn’t know I was gay.  I thought the attraction to girls would come eventually.  And I knew that the Bible said homosexuality was an abomination.  Since I was still a good Christian, I was convinced that I couldn’t actually be homosexual.  It had to be something I was just being afflicted with for a while—like bronchitis.  It couldn’t be helping of course that, when I was aroused, I would write out my fantasies on paper, or sketch naked boys.  I kept destroying these, convinced I could swear off my homosexual tendencies, go cold turkey, but then I’d just end up creating more.

When I was sixteen, I moved out to New Mexico to live with my father for a year.  Unlike my mother, he’d stayed with the church and was now attending the considerably less liberal Assembly of God church in Truth or Consequences.   I had no problem settling into this church, primarily I think because certain topics never came up.  Nobody ever talked about homosexuality—the gay rights movement hadn’t really come to small-town America yet.  Nobody talked about Evolution.  (I had no idea I was supposed to be against it.)

Then we moved to Texas.  The Assembly of God church there was great!  The kids in the high school were mostly horrible to me and the teachers weren’t much better (with the exception of a wonderful English teacher who did a lot to encourage my writing), so the teenagers in the church seemed particularly nice.  The pastor was a woman (surprising in and of itself, back then) and she was incredibly funny and charismatic.  She even let me come in to practice on the piano during weekdays.

Then there was the anti-gay sermon.  This hit me completely out of the blue.  One minute, I practically idolized this woman and the next, she was breathing fire about homosexuals.  I was still in denial about my own homosexuality, despite having fallen in love with my best friend in New Mexico (he figured it out before I did), and I’d convinced myself that I was just being tested with these feelings. I was being given a challenge to overcome by God (because He was apparently a sadist).  But there was nothing in this sermon about some of us might have to contend with these feelings, or why God would allow some of us to be afflicted with this thing.  There was no sense that any good Christian could possibly experience homosexual feelings.  It was them, the outsiders.  They were against God and therefore prone to evils like homosexuality.

I was shocked to my core.  For the first time in my life, I didn’t feel like I belonged to my church.  For seventeen years, I’d felt close to God and Jesus, but suddenly I was the enemy.  I was a sick pervert.  And there was no hope for me.  God hated me.

All of this happened so long ago, it’s difficult to even recall now how much of an affect this woman’s hatred of homosexuals had on me.  We moved away from Texas soon after that and I returned to New Hampshire to live with my mother again.  I think that probably saved me.  As it was, I spiraled into a depression for next year, searching desperately for answers in the Bible, but there were none there.  It was probably a good thing that I didn’t have access to anything from the ex-gay movement (which may not have even started yet), or I might have jumped on board.  I’d already been trying some of the tactics they’d later employ—psychoanalyzing my childhood in an attempt to find out what made me this way, trying to remain pure and “pray away the gay,” trying to condition myself to find naked pictures of women arousing.  Celibacy, which many ex-gay organizations now claim is the best answer, was something I knew I could never do.  I was eighteen by then and feeling isolated and alone.  The thought of never finding someone I could be with romantically frightened me more than God turning His back on me!

It got to the point where I was coming home from school every day and literally rushing to my room before the tears could hit.  My mother noticed and tried to help, but I didn’t feel I could talk to her.  In the end, it was coming out—first to a family friend and then to her—and finding love and acceptance there, that saved me.  Within a couple years, I was no longer Christian.  My faith had turned it’s back on me and, in order to survive, I’d had to turn my back on it.

By That Sin Fell the Angels Looking back now, I realize I had it easy.  I wrote By That Sin Fell the Angels as a way of reconciling old conflicts still lingering in my psyche from these years, but since then I’ve spoken to others who were much more immersed in Evangelical fundamentalism than I’d been and whose families turned on them.  I was lucky that my mother didn’t turn on me.  Would my father have cast me out?  I like to think not.  He is still as religious as ever, but he tells me all the time about the nice gay couple who live down the road and have just adopted a child.  He seems very happy for them.

If I’d known certain people back then—my mother’s second husband, a Baptist minister who strongly supports the LGBTQ community, a friend who came out as an Episcopal priest and found support within his congregation, many other good Christian people I know—I might have been able to retain my faith.  But I have explored many religious paths since then and I no longer believe that there is only one valid one.  I have no desire to go back.

To view other blog posts on this  hop, click the link below (here’s hoping it works!) or click here to go back to the blog hop page!


Filed under Bloghop, gay, Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia, Religion

Guest blogger: Augusta Li on Point of View

IceEmbers_postcard_front_DSP (2)Hi everybody! Gus here. A big hug and a huge thank you to Jamie for letting me stop by!

For today’s post on my tour to support my latest release, Ice and Embers, I’m going to attempt to tackle what can be tough and prickly subject: point of view.

A lot of readers and reviewers consider “head-hopping”—switching from one character’s point of view to another—an error and an amateurish mistake. In some cases this is true; in my other role as an editor I see it often and suggest authors change it—when it isn’t used consistently or with good reason. That is to say, when it’s actually an oversight and not used intentionally by the author to convey something.

The third person omniscient point of view is a method of storytelling in which the author dips into the heads of all the characters and knows their thoughts and can look through their eyes. One of the most famous examples of this type of fiction is Anna Karenina. Terry Pratchett also uses it frequently, and it is a legitimate, if difficult to pull off, point of view. Of course the author has to be very careful to let readers know which character’s head they are in, and it can become confusing unless the narrator is very clear.

Third person limited point of view sticks to looking through the eyes of a single character, and it’s the style of storytelling I usually prefer. When I wrote Ash and Echoes, the book before Ice and Embers, I realized early on that my characters were so vastly different that each of them needed his own voice. I decided against the third person omniscient point of view because the characters had such disparate thought processes and world views. Instead, I chose the third person limited, though I opted to alternate between the characters, just not in the same scene. I chose to stay with a single character within a scene and switch to another when the scene changed.

I took some heat from some reviewers for this decision, as they felt it was “head-hopping” and assumed I just didn’t know any better. Even so, I chose to stick with this approach for the second book in the series. Why?

I believe everything a person, or a character, experiences colors how he sees the world. People are, to an extent, the sum of their pasts. This can affect everything from what a character thinks or feels in a given situation down to the details he notices. An excellent example of how peoples’ perceptions can dictate how they view events is Akira Kurosawa’s stellar 1950 film Rashoman, in which several characters recount their experiences regarding the murder of a samurai. Because of their different backgrounds, each of these people tells a vastly different story. The film poses the question of what is truth, and whether truth is different for each person based upon his or her perceptions. After all, a notorious criminal will see things differently than the wife of a murdered samurai.

I’d like to make it clear that I’m not comparing myself to Kurosawa! But his insight into the human psyche is valuable to anyone hoping to depict the human condition. Who we are, what we believe, what we’ve experience, and what we value affects how we perceive the world. This is why I needed to give readers the opportunity to look through the eyes of each of my characters. Their backgrounds are varied, and it colors not only what they think and feel but how they see the world and the events around them. Yarrow, my mage, grew up as the third son of a noble family and was largely ignored and dismissed. This taught him to rely on himself and his own opinions over those of others, and it made him a little defensive. Duncan trained for the knighthood from a young age and holds close to the sense of honor he learned there. Sasha was raised almost from birth by a cult of assassins, and they taught him to suppress and mistrust emotion. In some ways, he’s the polar opposite of Duncan. I wanted my readers to have a chance to experience the world through each of the character’s very different minds and perceptions.

Sasha doesn’t see the world as Duncan sees it. A prime example of this occurs when Duncan is meeting with his vassals in his hall. He sits in an alcove surrounded by three tall windows which afford a wonderful view of the sea. Duncan and most others see the beauty in the architecture and the surroundings, while Sasha sees a strategic weakness: those windows are a prime opportunity for an archer and hard to protect against. Because of how he has been brought up, Sasha looks for potential threats everywhere and formulates plans to defend himself and his friends. It isn’t easy for him to abandon this mindset and start to appreciate the pleasures the world can offer.

It’s been said you can’t know someone until you walk a mile in his shoes. I want my readers to know my characters by walking in their shoes and seeing through their eyes, and that’s why I chose to alternate between their points of view. Authors, how do you differentiate characters from one another? And readers, what point of view brings you closest to the characters? First person? Third limited to a single character? Omniscient? What do you prefer and why?

Don’t forget my Dreamspinner Press titles are all 25% off from March 15th to the 22nd in celebration of this release. You can see what I have on sale here:

And stop by my blog and sign up to win a copy of Ice and Embers and a cell phone charm or bracelet!

And here’s the blurb and an excerpt from Ice and Embers:

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Despite their disparate natures, Yarrow, Duncan, and Sasha united against overwhelming odds to save Prince Garith’s life. Now Garith is king and the three friends may be facing their undoing.

Distraught over Yarrow’s departure to find the cure to his magical affliction, Duncan struggles with his new role as Bairn of Windwake, a realm left bankrupt by his predecessor. Many of Duncan’s vassals conspire against him, and Sasha’s unorthodox solutions to Duncan’s problem have earned them the contempt of Garith’s nobles.

When word reaches Duncan and Sasha that Yarrow is in danger, they want nothing more than to rush to his aid. But Duncan’s absence could tip Windwake into the hands of his enemies. In addition, a near-mythic order of assassins wants Sasha dead. Without Yarrow, Duncan and Sasha can’t take the fight to the assassins. They are stuck, entangled in a political world they don’t understand. But finding Yarrow may cause more problems, and with his court divided, King Garith must strike a balance between supporting his friends and assuaging the nobles who want Duncan punished—and Sasha executed.


IceEmbers_postcard_front_DSP (2)THE bairn of Windwake cast off his golden ceremonial cloak emblazoned with the crag eagle livery and let it fall heavily to the stone floor of his chambers. Duncan collapsed into an upholstered chair by the inglenook and rubbed his forehead. The fire had long ago diminished to embers, leaving the expansive suite dark and chill on this early spring night. Ruling Windwake had turned out nothing like he’d imagined, and the stresses of yet another day of listening to the demands of squabbling nobles wore on him. When Duncan had been granted his lands and title, he’d anticipated protecting and providing for his people, much as he’d done when he’d been a knight. The reality clashed hard against his expectations. He’d rather face an entire field of soldiers than those nattering, duplicitous aristocrats any day. At least men with swords were honest about wanting to destroy him, and he knew how to counter them.

Duncan had no sooner let his eyes fall shut and his head rest against the padded velvet of the chair when he heard a sound, even softer than the flutter of a night bird’s wings, on the balcony opposite his hearth. He tensed, his exhaustion replaced by alertness. Many of his vassals couldn’t be trusted; he found them avaricious, their only loyalty to their own treasuries. Some of them still owed fealty to Taran Edercrest, the traitor whose mantle Duncan had assumed after the man’s death in a failed attempt to overthrow Selindria’s true king. Duncan knew at least a few of the backstabbing nobles might stoop to murder if they could profit from it. He crept as quietly as he could to the weapons stand and picked up his greatsword. He held it in both hands as he approached the balcony, ready to defend himself.

With the sole of his boot, Duncan nudged the wooden double doors, and they swung open with a rasp and a groan. The red-tinged crescent moon provided little light as he glanced from one end of the parapet to the other. Nothing moved except a few leaves tumbling across the stone in the light breeze. Duncan blinked hard as sweat dripped into his eyes. He knew he’d heard something, but now he wondered if the combination of his weariness and the ever-present threat of treachery toyed with his mind. He’d never been a paranoid man, but as he stood looking out from the western side of Windust Castle, over the deep, round Barrier Bay, sheltered on three sides by high cliffs, he heard nothing but the gentle lap of the waves against the strong, gray ironstone that made up so much of Windwake. On a clear day, Duncan could see almost to the southern shore of Lockhaven from this balcony, but the gloom of the night and the chill mist rising from the water restricted his vision to the dozens of ships huddled close to the shore, bobbing gently on the calm tide.

“You should be more careful.”

Duncan started and turned toward the low, velvety voice. He scanned the shadows but couldn’t locate the speaker. Then, at the opposite end of the terrace, a sliver of shade separated from the wall, and a lithe silhouette tiptoed along the thin, stone railing before leaping down in front of Duncan without even disturbing the leaves. His boots met the stone silently, and the leather armor he wore didn’t even creak or rustle.

Duncan blew out an extended breath and lowered his weapon. “Goddesses, Sasha. Why must you sneak around like that? I could have cut you in two before I recognized you.”

Sasha answered with a sensuous laugh devoid of any genuine amusement. “I don’t think you could have.”

“Perhaps not,” Duncan conceded, his happiness at his lover’s return trumping his slight annoyance. Besides, he knew Sasha spoke not out of arrogance but simply stated the truth. Sasha had been trained by a cult of assassins so legendary and feared most doubted they even existed. The Order of the Crimson Scythe held mythical status throughout Selindria and Gaeltheon, and Duncan had witnessed Sasha’s lethal skill on more than one occasion. If he’d been inclined, Sasha could have cut Duncan’s throat while Duncan stood watching the boats like a dull-witted child.

Sasha’s training was also responsible for what Duncan saw when he stepped closer to his partner: a face that, while exotically beautiful, betrayed no hint of emotion. Shrewd, black eyes offered no clue of the intentions behind them. Though they hadn’t seen each other in weeks, Duncan looked into the cold face of a killer, not the warm smile of a lover. He tried, unsuccessfully, to staunch the hurt by reminding himself Sasha had been taught almost since birth not to feel love or attachment, let alone show evidence of what he’d been told was weakness.

Duncan reached up and stroked the soft, black hair that fell to Sasha’s slender shoulders. Sasha batted his long, thick lashes and smiled mischievously. He had the most amazing, full, dark lips Duncan had ever seen, and the sight of them curling up and parting slightly sent a tremor of desire down Duncan’s spine. He hoped Sasha showed sincere pleasure at his touch, as much pleasure as he experienced feeling the smooth skin of Sasha’s cheek again after what seemed like forever. Sasha had no reason to perform with Duncan, but Duncan knew old habits held on tenaciously sometimes, like a cough that lingered after the fever had passed.

“I missed you,” he said, pressing a kiss to Sasha’s forehead. “But you could try using the front gate like a normal man. Or are you trying to impress me?”

Sasha curled his body against Duncan and brushed their bellies together. He rubbed his face against Duncan’s whiskers and whispered close to his ear. “Did it work?”

Duncan glanced over the railing at the sheer, four-story drop to the sharp rocks surrounding the fortress. A wide gravel road wound out around those cliffs from the docks to the gate at the southern wall, on the opposite side of the fortress. Aside from that entrance, Windust was virtually impenetrable. “I suppose it did. Did your—” Duncan still felt uncomfortable discussing Sasha’s work. “Were you successful?”

Sasha snorted as if insulted and crossed his arms over his slim chest. His devastating smile widened. “Pym Goodsal and his associates will cause no more trouble for your friend Garith.”

“His Majesty will be pleased,” Duncan said, taking Sasha’s gloved hand, careful of the thin blades hidden at his wrists and the razor-like spikes over his knuckles, and leading him inside.

Sasha shrugged. “So long as he produces the agreed-upon gold.”

Duncan almost asked what Sasha would do if Garith, High King of Selindria and Gaeltheon, the largest and most powerful kingdom in the known world, withheld the payment. He thought better of it, though, and went instead to add logs to the fire and stir up the coals. By now, Duncan knew Sasha regarded a prince and a beggar alike only as men who bled and died for his Cast-Down god.

Sasha removed his gloves, loosening the buckles and then tugging them off one finger at a time, while Duncan poked at the ashes in the hearth. Sasha unbuckled the belts over his hips that held daggers and pouches likely full of poisons, and then he unfastened the strap crossing his chest, along with the weapons it held, and let it drop onto a wooden bench. Sasha effortlessly disarmed himself in absolute silence. Duncan admired Sasha’s grace and fluidity of movement from the corner of his eye as he tended the fire. The room soon glowed warm and bright as the flames flickered and grew. Orange light reflected off the snug, deep-red leather wrapping Sasha’s slender limbs and made shadows dance across his face. The fire couldn’t melt the icy mask the assassin wore, but Duncan knew what might. He replaced the iron poker and crossed the room to Sasha, who stood only a few feet from the balcony door, as if waiting to be invited inside, seemingly unsure of his welcome.

Duncan curled his big hands around Sasha’s waist, almost encircling it. He drew Sasha’s chest against his, rubbed his palm up Sasha’s back to his neck, and guided Sasha’s head to his shoulder. Burying his face in the top of Sasha’s hair, he inhaled the spicy fragrance that almost masked the scents of leather, steel, and blood. “Sasha, this is your home as much as mine. I wouldn’t have any of it if it hadn’t been for you. You don’t have to enter it in secret.”

Sasha laughed icily, but his lips and nose felt warm as he nuzzled against Duncan’s neck. The tickle of his breath against Duncan’s dampening skin when he spoke made Duncan shudder. “So, you’d parade me before your nobles and officials? Claim me as part of your household, as your friend?”

Holding Sasha’s cheeks in both hands, Duncan tilted his face upward and made Sasha meet his eyes. He searched for some trace of emotion in those glittering, black orbs but saw only his own conflicted face reflected back at him in distorted miniature. “I would. Why do you make it sound so absurd? I’ll tell them anything you like, anything that will make you happy. Sasha, you know I love you.”

“I know.” The assassin tried to look away as he furrowed his brow and turned down his lips, but Duncan held him, not letting him hide what he felt.

A fake smile replaced Sasha’s concerned expression. “You’d lose your bairny if anyone discovered the nature of our association,” he said with false cheer. “I understand better than most the need for secrecy. It’s of little consequence how I enter the castle, anyway. I’m used to standing in the shadows.”

Duncan hated it when his partner walled himself off, but he didn’t know how to breach barriers that had been in place so long. Battering them down would not do, he’d learned. If he pushed too hard, Sasha would instinctively close him out, so he slid his hands down Sasha’s lithe arms, clasped his hands, and led him to the massive bed canopied in gold and black velvet. They sat facing each other on the edge. Sasha pulled his heel to his crotch.

“Are you hungry?” Duncan asked, stroking up and down Sasha’s thigh, savoring the feel of taut muscles beneath buttery leather. “Shall I have something sent up from the kitchens? My servants, at least, still respect my wishes.”

Sasha edged closer and draped his hand over Duncan’s knee. “Thank you, my friend. But not just now. Is there nothing on your mind besides food?”

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Filed under Bloghop, gay, Guest Blogger, Point of View, Romance, Writing