Steel Time Excerpt

 

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I had the very great privilege of reading Steel Time by J.L. Gribble in the beta stages, and I am so excited to share this excerpt with all of you! In a world with vampires, warrior-mages, weredragons, and sarcastic violin players, time travel seems like the obvious next step.


ABOUT THE BOOK

Steel Time Jacket.inddYou’re never too young or too old to experience a paradigm shift.

Toria Connor is 25 when tripping over an artifact in the ruins of Nacostina thrusts her a century into the past, before the city is destroyed during the Last War. Now, she finds herself alone. Adrift in a time where she must hide everything important to her, from her mercenary career to her true magical ability.

Victory is over eight centuries old when she follows her adopted daughter. She has seen empires rise and fall, but never anything like this. She must survive alone in a city inhospitable to vampires, dodging friends and foes from her past alike.

Both of them know the clock is ticking down to the moment when the city is wiped off the map. Now, they’re in a race against time. To find each other. To escape the past. And to save the future.

Currently Available From

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Direct from publisher
Carpe Librum (the author’s local indie bookseller)
Or support your own local independent bookstore by requesting a copy today!


ABOUT THE SERIES

It is possible to read Steel Time as a stand-alone book, but don’t miss out on Toria and Victory’s previous adventures!

Book 1: Steel Victory
Book 2: Steel Magic
Book 2: Steel Blood


EXCERPT

The drive began in silence, but Toria didn’t miss the glances Liam made, as if he wanted to say something but didn’t know how. As if he’d had a better idea of how to handle her when she was an intriguing artifact to be studied, but now that she blended into his normal surroundings, he was more inclined to treat her like a boring human woman.

Well, that wouldn’t do. Toria might be in over her head, but she was never, ever boring. “Thank you for the delicious lunch today. And for orchestrating the appointment with Granny Tia. I’m not sure how I would have handled this on my own.”

“Lunch was my treat. You’re very welcome.” Liam maneuvered the large vehicle around a slower car. “So, you’re a governess?”

Ah, the next round of interrogation. “Something like that.”

“Is that something you were interested in continuing?”

Toria twisted herself to face him. Behind them, Hugh stared out the window as if the passing scenery was the most interesting thing in the world. “It’s an option I’d considered. I’m trained in a variety of things, so there has to be something I’m qualified to do here.”

“I hope you’re aware that it’s not necessary.” This time, Liam gripped the steering wheel with both hands, and tension strained his shoulders under his tailored sport coat.

“What the hell else am I supposed to do with my time?”

Liam flinched at her language, but didn’t respond until after he’d shifted gears and pulled into Hugh’s quieter neighborhood. “First of all, it might be a good idea to give you some lessons on the particulars of the future. You have some history to catch up on, and it might help you blend in better.”

“I see.” Toria tilted her head forward, as if eyeing him over the rims of the sunglasses she’d left behind in the future. “Teach me how to be a proper lady, is that it?” When the length of Liam’s silence made it obvious he had no immediate response, she gave an unladylike snort just to see him flinch again. “Okay, fine. Civilization lessons it is. When do we start?”

Liam slid the car to a smooth halt before Hugh’s house. “Will it suit you if we meet for lunch again tomorrow?” His fingers tapped the gear stick, and he avoided her gaze.

“I’m sure I’ll manage to fit it into my busy schedule.” Without waiting for a response, Toria exited the car and stormed toward Hugh’s front door. The door was locked, of course, so she threw herself into a rocking chair while Hugh exchanged his farewells.

Instead of unlocking the door, Hugh set the package of Toria’s clothing in front of it and settled into the other rocker. He lifted one arm in a wave, and Liam pulled away from the curb. When the car disappeared around the block, Hugh turned to Toria. “Gonna tell me what that was about?”

She tucked one foot under herself and pushed the rocker with the toes of her other. “I can’t imagine that Liam expects me to fritter away the rest of my life as a woman of leisure, even after he trains me to be a proper woman by Nacostina’s standards.”

Hugh matched her pace with his own rocking chair, lacing his fingers together across his stomach. “You have to remember that nothing like this ever happened during my time at the museum, and I started a good decade before Liam moved here from Europa, along with the head curator. But I know the annual budget includes funds for such incidents. I bet the compounded interest is…extensive, at this point. So, yes, you could be a woman of leisure for quite a while.”

The streetlights flickered on one by one, and down the street, an unseen mother called her children for dinner. “That doesn’t sit well with me.”

“And that right there is another reason I like you.”

Hugh seemed content to enjoy the warm evening air while Toria brooded. How much to tell him? Even though he agreed with her side of this odd moral dilemma, some context would not go amiss. But how much could she explain about her past in the context of the history she was creating for herself? What could she say without compromising the secret she must protect?

She could begin small, then gauge the rest from Hugh’s reactions. “I’ve never been a woman of leisure, though you could say I come from an upperclass background.” A quick glance to Hugh, who dipped his chin once in encouragement. “I have a college degree. More than one, if you consider I graduated in multiple specialties. I’m also a master-level mage, a status I obtained before college. And I have master-level status in the Mercenary Guild.” She held her breath. If he asked for details, her cover might fall apart. Her life story was colorful enough even without throwing in the warrior-mage thing. Or the adopted-by-a-vampire thing.

Hugh’s expression was more thoughtful than confused. “That does explain the muscles.”

His response startled a laugh out of Toria. “Like I said, the sword’s not just for show.”

“Can I ask why you won’t share all of this with Liam?”

“I don’t know.” Some of the tension bled out of her skin at Hugh’s calm responses. “I guess I don’t think he could handle it? He has such strong expectations and ideas about what he thinks is right.”

“Sounds like an elf to me.” Hugh shrugged one shoulder.

Toria curled her lips in a smirk. “Sounds like a man to me.”


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gribble photo color

By day, J. L. Gribble is a professional medical editor. By night, she does freelance fiction editing in all genres, along with reading, playing video games, and occasionally even writing. She is currently working on the Steel Empires series for Dog Star Books, the science-fiction/adventure imprint of Raw Dog Screaming Press. Previously, she was an editor for the Far Worlds anthology.

Gribble studied English at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. She received her Master’s degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, where her debut novel Steel Victory was her thesis for the program.

She lives in Ellicott City, Maryland, with her husband and three vocal Siamese cats.

Find her online at:

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What’s Next for the Born to Love Wild Authors?

Born to Love Wild: A Paranormal Romance Short Story Anthology

Take a walk on the wild side of love with this paranormal romance anthology featuring USA Today Bestselling author Traci Douglass and many more.

BORN TO LOVE WILD
A Paranormal Romance Short Story Anthology
Stars and Stone Books

Featuring: USA Today Bestselling Author Traci Douglass, Cara McKinnon, Sheri Queen, Pepper McGraw, M.T. DeSantis, Read Gallo, J. Bigelow, and Andie Biagini.

Buy Now:

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The Born to Love Wild authors all came together to answer some questions about their stories for the anthology. Here, they talk about what they’re working on now and what’s coming out for them next.

Andie Biagini – “Water Temperature”
An engineering student and a cryptozoologist. One of them can talk to sea monsters, but it’s not who you think.

Right now I’m in different parts of the revision process for two different paranormal novels, one about Victorian-era ghosts causing trouble in the 21st century, and another about a college campus that sits on top of a portal to Faerie. I’m starting to dip my toe into a contemporary romance, which is genre I’ve never written before—less magic and more kissing than I’m used to, for sure. You can follow me on Twitter @andieinitaly to see what I’m up to.

Bigelow – “Focal Point”

Sometimes a wizard from Sweden needs help from a medium from Michigan.

 I’m currently working on a dark fantasy as well as other short stories.

M.T. DeSantis – “Forever Love”

To find a chance… A chance to find…

For the first time in a while, I have a novel-length project that I’m burning rubber on. It’s currently a little secret, but the writing style is similar to Forever Love. I’d go so far as to say Forever Love gave me the confidence to try something longer with lyrical prose. I have a flash piece in an anthology with Transmundane Press releasing later this year, and I’m writing a smattering of short stories, some for Stars and Stone anthologies.

 Traci Douglass – “Blood Strong: A Blood Ravagers Novella”

One guardian demon in love. One witch with a secret crush. One evil threatening their newfound connection.

 This summer is busy, busy for me. I’ve got this short story coming out on July 24th. Then I’ve got book four of my Seven Seals Series, Scion’s Redemption, releasing on July 30th. Then, on August 1st, my first contemporary romance release with Harlequin/Mills & Boon Medical Romance comes out, One Night With The Army Doc. After that, I hope to have the last three of my Seven Seal Series books out before the end of 2018, plus I’ll be working on revisions for book two for Harlequin Medicals, getting proposals together for more Medicals books in the future, and working on edits for two new books for Entangled Bliss set to release in early 2019. Whew. I’m tired just typing all that! LOL.

Read Gallo – “The Flying Saltines”

When a river falls in love with an ordinary person will New York City survive?

Honestly, the October story for Stars and Stones… I’m also trying to sell a fantasy trilogy called Witch, Ghost, Dog, Clone.

 Pepper McGraw – “Full Moon Shenanigans”

The full moon’s coming and it’s time to embrace the wildness within.

I’m working on several upcoming projects. I have three more stories in the Shenanigans series and am also working on the next book in the Murrysville Coalition series. I also have a completely new series on the horizon that I’m not ready to announce yet, but am super excited about.

 Cara McKinnon – “A Change of Heart”

She’s a hybrid shifter who’s not supposed to exist. He’s a wolf who was born to protect her. But her secrets force him to choose: his mate, or his pack loyalty?

I am finishing up a short story for the next anthology from Stars and Stone Books (coming out just in time for Halloween!) called For Love the Bell Tolls. The genre for the anthology is Gothic Romance (with a theme of Hauntings) but all of the authors were given free rein to decide what “gothic” meant to them. I’m going with traditional Victorian gothic—a haunted/possessed house story, complete with brooding male main character and plucky, no-nonsense heroine. I couldn’t quite bring myself to write about a swoony, insipid virginal type, so she’s a world-traveler who comes back home as an adult to discover that the boy she was in love with as a girl has inherited his family’s possessed estate, his wife has died under mysterious circumstances, and his young child would rather talk to ghosts than living people. But the truth about what’s happening in the house is darker than any of them could imagine.

After that, I really need to finish book four in my Fay of Skye series, Secret Magic.

Sheri Queen – “The Robinson Agency”

Some are born with the gift to see into the future. Others create their own destiny.

I have another short story in the works, the third book in my Sleepy Hollow Hunter series that I expect to release this fall, and tons of re-writes on a new series in which I have the first book written.

CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT OUR AUTHORS

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Born-to-Love-Wild-Kindle

 

New Release: Born to Love Wild

Born-to-Love-Wild-KindleBORN TO LOVE WILD
A Paranormal Romance Short Story Anthology
from Stars and Stone Books

Featuring: USA Today Bestselling Author Traci Douglass, Cara McKinnon, Sheri Queen, Pepper McGraw, M.T. DeSantis, Read Gallo, J. Bigelow, and Andie Biagini.

Buy Now!

Kindle | iBooks | Nook | Kobo | Google Play

Amazon

These eight paranormal romance stories will take you for a walk on the wild side of love.

From baby sea monsters bringing couples together, to river spirits falling in love with mortals, to demons and witches fighting evil together, to mismatched shifters struggling to figure out how to love each other, Born to Love Wild dishes up sweet and heat in equal measures. Come for the magic—stay for the happily-ever-after.

Traci Douglass – “Blood Strong: A Blood Ravagers Novella”
One guardian demon in love. One witch with a secret crush. One evil threatening their newfound connection.

Cara McKinnon – “A Change of Heart”
She’s a hybrid shifter who’s not supposed to exist. He’s a wolf who was born to protect her. But her secrets force him to choose: his mate, or his pack loyalty?

Sheri Queen – “The Robinson Agency”
Some are born with the gift to see into the future. Others create their own destiny.

Pepper McGraw – “Full Moon Shenanigans”
The full moon’s coming and it’s time to embrace the wildness within.

M.T. DeSantis – “Forever Love”
To find a chance… A chance to find…

Read Gallo – “The Flying Saltines”
When a river falls in love with an ordinary person will New York City survive?

J. Bigelow – “Focal Point”
Sometimes a wizard from Sweden needs help from a medium from Michigan.

Andie Biagini – “Water Temperature”
An engineering student and a cryptozoologist. One of them can talk to sea monsters, but it’s not who you think.

CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT OUR AUTHORS

STARS AND STONE BOOKSGOODREADS ♥ FACEBOOK RELEASE PARTY ♥
TWITTER  ♥ ANTHOLOGY WEBSITE ♥

An Event and a New Book

I haven’t been blogging much this year. The truth is, I have been in a very deep depression and my anxiety is out of control. I finally went to see my doctor about a month ago and we’re trying a mix of meds and therapy. So far, it is helping a little bit, but not a lot. I need to completely unlearn almost forty years of unhealthy coping mechanisms and replace them with healthy ones. But what I haven’t been doing much of is writing.

Born-to-Love-Wild-Kindle

Secret Magic is still coming, but right now it’s on an indefinite hold while I work through the worst of my issues. I did manage to write a few short stories during my black times, though, and those will be coming out later this year. The first one is called “A Change of Heart” and it will be out in July in the anthology Born to Love Wild. More on that in a few weeks, but for now, check out the cover to the left and click this link to reserve your copy on Kindle!

In the meantime, I am still making my annual trek back to my favorite place on earth, Seton Hill University, aka Hogwarts for Writers. I graduated with my MFA in Writing Popular Fiction in 2012, but I miss it so much I go back every year for the alumni workshop, In Your Write Mind. If you’re looking for a small but very craft- and business-focused event where you can make connections with other authors as well as industry professionals like agents and editors, check out In Your Write Mind.

And if you’re going to be in the Pittsburgh area this Saturday night (June 23rd) from 5:30-9:30, you can come see me! I will be at the Seton Hill Performing Arts Center in downtown Greensburg, PA at the mass booksigning. I’ll be signing from 5:30-7 and 8-9:30. That hour break isn’t for dinner, either—it’s to hear amazing historical romance author Beverly Jenkins speak!

I will have copies of all my books, including Kindle download codes for cheaper than what you’d pay online! So come see me, pick up a book, and then stay to visit with all of the other awesome authors who will be there. I hope to see you!

Villain: The Voices of Shattered

Villain 10 DigitalI usually highlight fiction—romantic fiction—on my blog, but today I’m sharing a book which is entirely, heart-breakingly, true.

Last fall, my friend and fellow author A.E. Hayes published her autobiography, Shattered: Memoirs of an Amnesiac. In Shattered, Hayes takes readers through the fragments of her life, painstakingly pieced together from journals, hospital records, accounts of friends and family, and a few actual memories retained after a traumatic brain injury wiped out most of her past.

Most of those retained memories, she would come to learn, were not her own. Instead, they belonged to alters: alternate personalities her mind created to deal with the psychological and emotional traumas of her childhood. But while Shattered grapples with the existence of the alters and their effect on Hayes’s life, her next book gives them voice.

Villain: The Voices of Shattered is a series of nonfiction essays, written primarily by alter personalities. In the book, Hayes and the alters tell stories that were not included in Shattered—stories that pose a question: what is good, and what is evil?

Villain will make you question your notion of heroism and villainy, and leave you wondering: who is the villain of this story—and my own?

BUY NOW

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Here’s a brief excerpt from the introduction.


Five days before my twenty-first birthday, I was drunk. I was so drunk that I ignored both the speed limit and the fact that, up ahead, there was a train barreling down a set of tracks that I was seconds away from crossing.

“Stop!” a voice commanded. I didn’t know who she was at the time, but I heard her. I stopped.

The train missed me by a foot, and the force of its momentum made my little green Dodge Neon sway. I was on a boat, seasick from rocking, but mostly seasick from having downed a half-dozen small whisky bottles I kept in the glove compartment.

A man who had stopped behind me approached and tapped on my window. Shaking, sick, and wanting to forget about the train that was still passing in front of us, I attempted to ignore the stranger, but he would have none of it. He kept tapping until I rolled down the window.

“Can I help you?” I asked.

“Can I help you?” he said. “You were almost hit by that train! You didn’t see the flashing lights? Hey, you don’t look well. Would you like me to call someone?”

The only person this stranger could have called at the time was my abusive boyfriend, Alexander. I was on my way to visit him and I wanted to be properly drunk before I arrived. That way, when he forced me to cut myself or punched me for talking too loudly, the impact wouldn’t feel as severe. And he was going to do those things. Drunk or not, it didn’t matter. Alexander was always a man of action. And I, his possession, was desperately trying to drink myself into an early grave.

“No,” I finally said. “I’ll be OK. Thank you.”

The train passed and my car stopped shaking. The man, still staring at me, shook his head, mumbled something under his breath, and walked back to his car. I looked with clouded vision through my rear-view mirror and watched him pick up a cell phone.

Shit, I thought. He’s going to call the cops, report my license plate, and have me arrested. I slammed my foot down on the gas pedal and took off, twisting and weaving my way through the Pennsylvania back roads that would eventually lead me to a large highway.

The drive from my college to Alexander’s house was only two hours long. I was used to driving to him. After all, he never came to me.

The little bottles of liquor were gone, and I knew I couldn’t score more until later that evening. Alexander was abusive, but he didn’t mind providing for me. He enjoyed showing off the fact that he was wealthy and able to procure whatever he wanted at any hour or at the location of his choosing, and what harm would a dozen or so small bottles of whisky do to his pain-in-the-ass girlfriend? I was an asset to him because of my age—twenty to his almost twenty-eight years—but other than being arm candy and a person to buy alcohol for, I meant nothing.

I didn’t want to believe that, but I knew it to be true. I kept driving, weaving in and out of the lanes, until I hit the highway. I increased my speed from sixty miles per hour to eighty and hoped no one would catch me.

Running away was my favorite thing to do. I’d run away from home, from people who wanted to help me, from colleges, from events I loved, simply because I found it easier to run toward the destructive things. Hit me, beat me, rape me, intoxicate me, whatever would come to be—that was always easier. I was the mistress of running.

“You will die this way, you dumb bitch,” I heard the voice say to me.

“I’m just drunk,” I said to myself, shouting over the radio.

“You’re just an idiot,” she said. “You’re gonna get into a wreck and we’re going straight to hell.”

I picked up my pack of cigarettes from the passenger’s seat, lit a smoke, and enjoyed the sound of the crackling paper upon the first inhalation. It was soothing, like flipping the pages of a book I’d been yearning to read.

Going straight to hell?

Crazy brain, I thought. Don’t you know better?

I cannot go where I already exist.

© 2018 A.E. Hayes

What’s Next for The Love at the Edge of Seventeen Authors?

Spring 18 DigitalLOVE AT THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN
A YA Romance Anthology
From Stars and Stone Books

It’s never easy to go through the fraught transition into adulthood, but the teens in this anthology have more to deal with than most: super powers, magic, illness, prejudice against sexual orientation and gender identity, and even death. Fortunately, they all find love at the edge of seventeen.

Featuring: M.T. DeSantis, A.E. Hayes, Serena Jayne, Cara McKinnon, Mary Rogers, and Kylie Weisenborn.

BUY NOW

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We asked our authors to tell us what’s coming next for them. And as a bonus question, we also asked them to tell us three things on their desk right now.

M.T. DeSantis, “Be Null, My Heart”

What’s next? I’ll have a story in Stars and Stone’s summer adult paranormal romance anthology. That one involves a fae dance under a violet sky. Otherwise, revising novels and pitching agents.

Three things:

  • Easy Button “That was easy” – This very button sat on the desk of my high school astronomy teacher. I didn’t particularly like him, but I loved smacking the easy button as I walked by. So, at the end of the year, he gave it to me. (Yes, I just hit it now.)
  • My shiny new desktop computer – This may not seem like a big thing, but it’s the very first refurbished machine I’ve ever bought. Also, through a clever combination of gift cards and price drops, I got it for $40. I can hear your jealousy from here.
  • My “Fucitol” stress “ball – Pronounce the “c” with a “k” sound. Got it? Good. A friend in college gave me this for my birthday. It’s shaped like a giant Tylenol, and it remains my favorite stress “ball” ever.

A.E. Hayes, “Her First Fever”

Oh, wow. Well, my second nonfiction work, which is a collection of essays, will be released May 15. The book is called Villain, and while it tells some very personal stories, it also explores the nature of good and evil, right and wrong, and other preconceived notions. It looks at why we, as humans, are quick to jump to conclusions in many situations when it comes to mental illness, tragedy, and the ever-changing world around us. I’ll also be finishing the final draft of a short paranormal horror story for an upcoming anthology titled The Eynes Anthology. If you’re a fan of graphic novels and the supernatural, this one will be for you! On top of those projects, I’ll be attending a writing/book signing in late June, selling my house, preparing to renew my vows with my husband of ten years, raising my amazing six-year-old son, and finishing my legal studies. Fingers crossed for a quieter year in 2019!

Three things:

Since I’m packing up my house to get ready to sell it, my desk is a wasteland of law books, contracts for my upcoming vow renewal, and other documents I don’t want to accidentally store somewhere! So, my desk is my living room couch with my laptop on my lap, at least for now. But I’m a fan of keeping things that have significance to me. Near me, I have a family photo from Christmas 2017, a law book from the end of World War I (an original first edition with lovely, thin, old paper), and the new invitations for my very geeky vow renewal. All of these items mean something and are true to the person I am, so when I look over to my end table and see them, I can’t help but smile

Close-up portrait of a female student holding book in front of her face in the library

Serena Jayne, “Dead Man’s Party”

I’m working on a paranormal romance for an upcoming Stars and Stone anthology as well as a contemporary romance novel.

Three things:

Twisted Mango Diet Coke, star stickers, and my day planner. I’ve been giving myself a star in my day planner for every day I write as a motivation tool. The Twisted Mango Diet Coke is pretty darned good, but Margie Lawson hooked me on Diet Coke mixed with pineapple juice, which is my new favorite beverage.

Cara McKinnon, “Three Jagged Pieces”

I am currently finishing the fourth novel in my Fay of Skye series, Secret Magic. After that, I’m putting together a series proposal for a romance publisher (*fingers crossed*). And of course I have stories in the two upcoming Stars and Stone Books anthologies, Born to Love Wild (coming July 2018) and For Love the Bell Tolls (coming October 2018).

Three things:

  • I have a fidget cube that I play with when I’m trying to work out plot snarls. I originally ordered one for my son, but I like having one, too.
  • Under my monitor are a bunch of pins from various places (Seton Hill, where I got my MFA; Shepherd U, where I taught English; NaNoWriMo, which I do every November, etc.).
  • On my credenza is a Pop! figure of General Organa from The Last Jedi. Carrie Fisher is one of my heroes, and I love that she lived to become a general and not just a princess in need of rescue.

Spring 18 Book Promo 2

Mary Rogers, “The Crayon Thief”

I’m writing my second book, the first book in the Balsam Island trilogy, Finding Home. I can’t wait to tell the story of Rita Sanders, a city girl who only wants the pace and the peace of life on Balsam Island, and Declan Pierce, an Islander who can’t wait to get off to the city. It’s set in the Pacific Northwest, between Vancouver, B.C. and Seattle. There’s the local Native American culture, which has been so rewarding to research, and the island culture, with Canadian and American characters, but the one character is a – shall we say – citizen of the world, Mrs. Clausse. (It’s Clow-say, but you know how people like to pronounce that!). I have other anthologies I’d like to be in, time will tell.

Three things:

Right now I’m on the front porch. I have my ever-present cup of tea (on the tea warmer!), a vase of the roses I grow in my front yard, and chapstick. I have had an addiction to chap stick since I was a kid, but the flavours are so much better now (I’m lookin’ at you, mango!). I’m not sure Tessa is a tea gal, but Susan is. Randy, well, whatever he is, I’m all for it! Cindy is a coffee gal. I’m pretty sure Susan loves the best lipsticks, but Cindy, Tessa, and Randy will be chapstick-friendly. As for roses, I assume Randy would buy them, Tessa would be shocked to get them, Cindy would probably buy her own, and Susan would be showered with them!

Kylie Weisenborn, “Now I Am”

I am finishing my debut YA fantasy and romance novel, Just Breathe, in the next few months, and will hopefully start querying agents early next year. I also hope to submit another short story or two in the next few months.

Three things:

I don’t really have anything interesting on my desk since I rarely use it for writing. It’s more of a clutter collector.

Spring 18 Book Promo 3

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Representation Matters

Spring 18 DigitalLOVE AT THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN
A YA Romance Anthology
From Stars and Stone Books

It’s never easy to go through the fraught transition into adulthood, but the teens in this anthology have more to deal with than most: super powers, magic, illness, prejudice against sexual orientation and gender identity, and even death. Fortunately, they all find love at the edge of seventeen.

Featuring: M.T. DeSantis, A.E. Hayes, Serena Jayne, Cara McKinnon, Mary Rogers, and Kylie Weisenborn.

BUY NOW

Kindle | iBooks | Nook | Kobo | Google Play


This blog post is basically just a repost of my Author’s Note from “Three Jagged Pieces,” available today in this lovely YA romance anthology. I edited out one tiny spoiler, and otherwise the only spoiler is that everyone gets together in the end (duh, it’s a romance).

I think it’s important to talk about what kinds of characters we’re writing about in fiction, particularly romance. But another part of this discussion is how we should also be carving out space for #ownvoices authors. I absolutely am an advocate for authors who share their authentic voices and their own experiences. To that end, I will direct readers to one of my favorite romance authors, Anna Zabo, who is nonbinary. They have written some amazing books, but my favorite is Just Business. Eli and Justin stole my heart and never gave it back.

OK, on to the Author’s Note!

Most of the people I know who are trans or non-binary took a long time on their own personal journeys to get to where Noah is in this story. I deliberately gave Noah a supportive—and more importantly, observant—family who asked the right questions at an early age, never forced him to be anything other than what he is, and gave him access to the tools and information he needed to make informed choices as a young man. I did this for a few reasons. The first is because I wish that everyone, no matter their gender, sexual orientation, size, shape, or life choices, could be surrounded by acceptance and love—and accessible medical treatment if needed. The second reason is because I didn’t want this to be a story that’s only about Noah being trans. There is more to transgender people than their gender! So, while that’s an important part of him, and though he’s only eighteen, an age at which many of my transgender friends were—for many valid and tangible reasons—unable to come out, I wanted Noah to be out and feel pretty confident about himself as, well, himself. At the same time, though, I don’t want anyone to think that I’m making any sort of statement about when—or even if—someone should transition, or that someone needs to know they’re trans as a child. That’s a deeply personal process, and there are no right or wrong answers, choices, or timings.

On the other hand, there does need to be some conflict in a story, so I gave Sam some truly terrible parents. A year ago, I wouldn’t have written his parents the way I did. They feel over-the-top and cartoonish to me, even now—even knowing that many, many of these people exist, and are out in the open thanks to the changes in the US since 2016. I grew up in the evangelical Christian faith. I was baptized Southern Baptist and after that my parents went around to a number of different independent (non-denominational) churches. The one thing the churches all had in common was fundamentalism: The Bible is the sacrosanct word of God, and Jesus is the only way for salvation. There was a lot of “family values” nonsense and purity culture in there, too, although my parents are definitely on the liberal end of that particular religious cesspool. I got away from it in high school and never looked back. But Sam’s parents could be people I knew from church—maybe even the parents of kids in my youth group. And that’s scary and tragic. I wanted to give Sam a way to escape that many teens don’t have in reality. [Edited to add: As of 5/16/18, my state just enacted legislation to ban conversion therapy.]

Finally, we come to Ava. Ava is the girl I could have been. Some of her story mirrors mine: short, chubby girl who gained a lot of weight because of birth control pills to control PCOS symptoms. We both suffer from body-image issues, although I’m twenty years older than her now and I’ve come a long way toward loving myself no matter my size. But unlike Ava, I didn’t let any of that hold me back when I was in school. I loved to perform, and I was very confident in my voice. I didn’t get the cutest guy in school in high school, but I did get the cutest guy in college (who also happens to be a former wrestler), and we’re married with two kids. Ava gets to have two hot guys. Isn’t she lucky?


Go get your copy of Love at the Edge of Seventeen to find out how Noah, Sam, and Ava overcome prejudice, bigotry, and hate to find a deep and abiding love. #lovewins

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Romance Pet Peeves: Ménage à Deux

Romance Pet Peeves Menage a Deux

I’m probably revealing some of my kinks here, but I really love well-done menage stories. Storylines and character arcs can get cumbersome in a single title when there are more than three people (although I would love to see a long-running series with a polycule), so most of what I read (and are readily available) are ménage à trois novels. I just read a really excellent one by Emma Holly in her Billionaires series that I highly recommend (Beck and Call). It’s a fantastic example of ménage done right: everyone has an arc, and all three people are interested in and fall in love with each other. Yes, that means the guys fall in love with each other, too.

A brief caveat here. I don’t have anything against straight (read: heterosexual) MFM stories. I have, however, noticed that some MFM authors feel like they need to go out of their way to reassure their readers “they’re totally not gay!” I have zero tolerance for homophobia, and if that happens, I’ll put down the book. I don’t need the guys to be bisexual, but I do need them to not be terrified/disgusted by the possibility, and I also need their friendship to be just as strong as the romance with their female partner. They both need to arc, change, and grow, both in the romance and in their non-sexual relationship.

But getting back to the pet peeve, I have recently read a few stories that totally whiffed on the third member of the ménage à trois. In one notable example, the second man was very obviously there only for the sex scenes, and was excluded from the relationship-building and romance. It was an MFM story, so there was no romance between the men, and their friendship was informed rather than shown. At the end of the book, the heroine says, “I think I’m falling in love with X, too!” and I was like, “Based on what interactions, exactly? You’ve spent zero time with him that didn’t involve his dick, and usually the main guy’s, too.”

And even that could have been enough if the author had done things differently. Good erotic romance gives us most of the relationship-building and character development within the sex scenes, after all. But that didn’t happen in this example, so the story totally fell flat for me. It felt like a regular twosome, with a third tossed in so the heroine could get some DP action. While that can be totally hot under the right circumstances, that’s not a ménage à trois romance.

In another example, the author didn’t even pretend that the third character was there for the romance. He was very much just there for the sex. At the end of the story he wasn’t interested in commitment, and it ended up with only two of the characters getting together. In my first example, the story fell flat, but the ending of this book was just a slap in the face of reader expectations. If I pick up a ménage à trois book, I expect three people to fall in love!

Don’t get me wrong–I understand how hard it is to properly arc and develop two characters, much less three. In a non-sexy way, I just tried my first threesome in a short story I wrote for an upcoming YA romance anthology. It was much harder than writing a twosome! But it’s very important that all of the characters in the relationship receive the same weight in the story.

Do you have any great ménage novels to recommend? Let me know in the comments. I’m always looking for authors and books to add to my TBR pile. And yes, I will be writing at least one MMF story in the future, and possibly other groupings, too.

Cover Reveal: Love at the Edge of Seventeen

Long time no post! I had a very rough winter this year. I won’t go into too much detail, except to say that times have been difficult. They aren’t perfect now, but I am trying to get back up to my previous level of productivity. And that includes this announcement!

Back in the fall, I mentioned a young adult romance anthology that I am editing. It turned out that several of our authors could not contribute stories by the deadline, so I also ended up writing for it! My story is called “Three Jagged Pieces” and tells the story of three high school seniors who overcome prejudice, homophobia, and transphobia to find love.

My initial idea when I started to write the story was to focus on an overweight heroine who gets the cute, popular guy. But as I sat down and started working on that, my own high school experiences started to overlay the story. I have a good friend who I have known since the age of eleven who struggled in high school and has now come out as nonbinary, generally presenting male. I also know several other transgender, nonbinary, and genderfluid people. One of my writer-mantras is “representation matters,” so in addition to the traditional boy-meets-girl story, I added another layer: a transgender boy who loves them both.

I hope you enjoy the story. The book will be here in early May.


LOVE AT THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN
A YA ROMANCE ANTHOLOGY
Coming Soon from Stars and Stone Books

Featuring: M.T. DeSantis, A.E. Hayes, Serena Jayne, Cara McKinnon, Mary Rogers, and Kylie Weisenborn.

It’s never easy to go through the fraught transition into adulthood, but the teens in this anthology have more to deal with than most: super powers, magic, illness, and prejudice against sexual orientation and gender identity. Fortunately, they all find love at the edge of seventeen.

Spring 18 Digital

M.T. DeSantis – “Be Null, My Heart”
Teen love…with superpowers.

A.E. Hayes – “Her First Fever”
Can a smart, stubborn girl look past the things she desires the most in life to help out her annoying, enigmatic biology partner – even if helping him comes with an emotional price?

Serena Jayne – “Dead Man’s Party”
Despite formidable evidence to the contrary, Xander was magic.

Cara McKinnon – “Three Jagged Pieces”
Boy meets girl meets boy.

Mary Rogers – “The Crayon Thief”
The last time they talked, he stole her crayon. Now he wants to take her on a date. But why?

Kylie Weisenborn – “Now I Am”
Annalyn is dead…so what is she waiting for?


CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT OUR AUTHORS

STARS AND STONE BOOKS: http://starsandstonebooks.com/
GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38901569-love-at-the-edge-of-seventeen
FACEBOOK RELEASE PARTY: https://www.facebook.com/events/1996064327319283/
TWITTER: https://twitter.com/starsstonebooks
ANTHOLOGY WEBSITE: https://www.starsandstonebooks.com/love-at-the-edge-of-seventeen

 

Delays, Depression, and Medical Issues

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The title of this blog post pretty much says it all. I had a medical procedure done a few weeks ago and have a few more scheduled over the next month or so, and the side effects are not making it easy for me to focus on my work. I have not finished Secret Magic yet, and there is no way that I’ll be able to finish and revise in time for even a late-December release.

I would like to be optimistic and say that I can be ready by mid-January, but with the holidays coming up, it’s more realistic to say that the book will be out in late January or early February.

I am so sorry for this delay. This year has been very difficult for me as a writer for lots of reasons, but my health–and my mental health–are playing a big role in keeping me away from the keyboard. I’m working on getting the physical side of things under control, but unfortunately the “cure” has managed to push me into one of the deepest depressions I have experienced in years.

I am getting help, and I will keep writing. But it’s slow going, and until things even out with my brain chemistry, I don’t want to make promises or commitments about release dates.

Thank you so much for supporting my work, and I appreciate every one of you who follows my blog and reads my books. All of the Stars and Stone Books catalog is on sale from now until the end of the year, so it’s a great time to get started if you haven’t read my work yet. Here’s a link to my author page on Amazon.

If you’ve already read the books, the best gift you can give me as an author is to leave a review, especially on Amazon. They make a difference not only in how Amazon promotes my books, but in helping future readers decide if they want to take a chance on a new-to-them indie author.

Thank you again, and if I can finish revising it, I have a short story that I’ve been working on off-and-on this year that I will try to post around Yule as my holiday gift to you.

I am also going to put out one more episode of the Feminist Romantic this month–about holiday romances. It’s already recorded and ready to go, so that will be out next week. But other than that, I’ll be going away from the internet and social media for the rest of the year. I need some time to be unplugged, with my family, and remembering why I do all of this. So happy holidays to you, no matter what you celebrate in this time of darkness. All of the holidays around the winter solstice celebrate the return of the light, and I’ll be spending the next few weeks trying to do the same.

My love to all of you, and I’ll see you again after the new year.

Author signing autograph in own book at wooden table on white pl

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