Spotlight & Excerpt – Swordplay by Chris T. Kat

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2015blurb

After leaving his dream job as an Atlantic City detective, Jeff Woods has moved to Washington DC with his life partner Alex Fisher and Alex’s disabled little brother Sean. Parker Trenkins, Jeff’s ex-partner on the force, has made the move as well, along with his significant other David. Jeff and Parker partner up once again, but in a new way, as owners of their own detective agency.

Life is difficult at the best of times. Sean loses sight in one of his eyes, a direct result of being pushed into the Atlantic by a homicidal maniac a year ago. In his struggle to deal with everything, a restless Alex enrolls in Tai Chi classes at a nearby school.

As it happens, a murder case Jeff and Parker take involves the head of that very Tai Chi School, Charles Cooper. Cooper is a suspect in the murder of a financial corporation official. He appears to have motive. Jeff and Parker’s investigation arouses the real killer’s interest, and if they don’t uncover his identity soon, it may be too late for them.

2015Excerpt

From Chapter One:

“Earth to Jeff. Someone in there?” Parker was standing next to me, waving his hand in front of my face.

“Fuck off, Parker.”

“Wow. Remind me not to talk to you before you’ve had decent caffeine input. Now, come on, why are you so tired? I’m your new shrink, remember?” Parker blinked his blue eyes at me in mock-offense, flipping a lock of black hair back.

I snorted. Coffee aroma filled the air, and the water bubbled enticingly. After rubbing my hands over my eyes, I leaned back in the chair and looked up at him. The man drove me crazy on a daily basis, but he was my best friend—right after Alex, my lover, of course.

“Oh boy, this is going to be a long story, isn’t it? Hang on, I need to sit down.” With a theatrical flourish, he heeled a chair closer and fell onto it with gleeful expectation written all over his face.

“Sean’s going to lose sight in his left eye.”

Parker’s mouth dropped open, and for a long time neither of us said anything. I stared at him, wondering whether I should’ve cushioned my words a bit. His jaw muscles tightened, and he worked hard to get words out of his mouth. I’d probably worn a similar expression yesterday when Alex broke the news to me after the visit with the eye specialist. Sean was only seven years old—only seven. Didn’t he’d already suffer enough with his cerebral palsy?

“You can’t just drop a bomb like that without giving me fair warning,” Parker protested.

I shrugged. “Sorry.”

“Are you sure?”

I gave a curt nod. My eyes stung stupidly. Alex had tried so hard to keep it together, but in the end he’d wept for hours, cuddled up against me. He’d cried endlessly for his little brother and what he had to go through. I’d feared he’d make himself sick—which he had, but only once—and when he’d finally fallen asleep, I’d lain awake in our bed, helpless and hurting.

“What about another opinion? Maybe—”

“Parker, that was the third opinion. We noticed he was getting clumsier and he was losing focus on his left side. His sight in that eye has gone down to ten percent, and it won’t take long for the rest to vanish too. We’ll cope.”

Whether I wanted to reassure myself or Parker didn’t really matter, did it? At least I’d had enough presence of mind not to throw that platitude around when I talked to Alex. He never bought into any of them. Parker, however, did from time to time.

“Does Sean know?”

Pain closed like a vise around my throat, and I coughed in a deliberate attempt to get rid of it. “Yes. We explained it to him.”

“How did he react?”

I grimaced. “He was worried about his other eye, but the doc said it was okay. Sean’s main concerns were if he was still allowed to go to school and if we’d still love him.”

I bolted from the chair, choking on my last words, and stalked over to the coffeemaker. I poured milk into Parker’s mug, added two spoonfuls of sugar, then attempted to grab the glass carafe. My hands shook.

Parker materialized next to me, nudged me aside, and filled our mugs. I was still blinking against the wetness in my eyes. Maybe it was a good thing I’d had no time for breakfast earlier. I wasn’t sure if it would’ve stayed down anyway. Alex hadn’t even tried to eat this morning. He’d been white as a sheet when I left. I hadn’t wanted to come to work, but the money had to come in from somewhere and—

 

2015About the author

Chris T. Kat lives in the middle of Europe, where she shares a house with her husband of many years and their two children. She stumbled upon the M/M genre by luck and was swiftly drawn into it. She divides her time between work, her family—which includes chasing after escaping horses and lugging around huge instruments such as a harp—and writing. She enjoys a variety of genres, such as mystery/suspense, paranormal, and romance. If there’s any spare time, she happily reads for hours, listens to audiobooks or does cross stitch.

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Guest Post & Giveaway: Andrea Speed – A chat with Paris

For the relaunch of my Infected series, I thought I’d Google random questions from the internet, and have characters from the series answer them. This time, it’s Paris’s turn in the hot seat.

 

1. What song do you sing in the shower?

Paris: I Wanna Be Adored.

 

2. When was the last time you really laughed?

Paris: Probably ten minutes ago. Roan is hysterical. Mostly on purpose.

 

3. Do you speak another language?

Paris: Of course, darling, I’m Canadian. I know how to say a whole bunch of things in half-assed French. I know some Spanish too, but mostly curses.

 

4. What are two things that you consider yourself to be very good at?

Paris: Sex, and being really entertaining at parties.

 

5. If you could break one law with impunity what would it be?

Paris: I’d steal everything not nailed down. And I’d be constantly high.

 

6. If you had an extra room in your house what would you use it for?

Paris: Ooh. What about a sauna? That’d be fun, wouldn’t it? Your own personal sauna. Or a bounce house. That would be fun too. Hey, do you think they could be combined?

 

7. What would be your personal hell?

Paris: CSPAN. Nothing but CSPAN.

 

8. What is your earliest memory?

Paris: I think it’s petting a rabbit. Funny, huh?

 

9. If you had to apply a label to yourself, what would it be?

Paris: Fabulous!

 

10. What music do you hate?

Paris: Smooth jazz. That kind they play in dentist’s offices? Ugh. It’s music to be sedated to, and not in a good way.

 

11. What do you dislike most about modern life?

Paris: Put down your goddamn phone for five minutes! I realize that makes me sound like somebody’s grandpa, but I’ll hike my pants up to my armpits for that one. I’m tired of people paying more attention to their screens than me. That’s just wrong.

 

12. If you were going to go into business for yourself what would you do?

Paris: Ooh. I think I’d make a great strip-o-gram. Or I could rent myself out to sad parties, to liven them up. As I said, I’m very good at them.

 

13. What is the worst flavor of ice cream?

Paris: Anything with peanut butter. I’m sorry, but I just can’t tolerate peanut butter in my ice cream.

 

14. What was the first thing you learned to cook?

Paris: I’m pretty sure it was toast. If that doesn’t count, then it was scrambled eggs.

 

15. If you could live at any time in history when would it be?

Paris: Can I pick the shiny, Star Trek future? If not, then I’m good with now. I have all my stuff here.

 

16. What was your first paying job?

Paris: I mowed some lawns around the neighborhood, I think.

 

17: What is your favorite winter activity?

Paris: Snuggling. Out of propriety, I’m giving you the G rated version.

 

18. When was your best Valentine Day?

Paris: This past one. I bought Roan some really tacky underwear and made him model them for me. Don’t tell him I told you!

 

19. What makes you lose your inhibitions?

Paris: That would require me to have inhibitions in the first place.

 

20. What three adjectives best describe you?

Paris: Scintillating, seductive, fabulous.

 

I’m really good at …

Paris: Blowing people’s minds. And other things, if I like you.

 

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TH2014Blurb

Infected: Book One

In a world where a werecat virus has changed society, Roan McKichan, a born infected and ex-cop, works as a private detective trying to solve crimes involving other infecteds.

The murder of a former cop draws Roan into an odd case where an unidentifiable species of cat appears to be showing an unusual level of intelligence. He juggles that with trying to find a missing teenage boy, who, unbeknownst to his parents, was “cat” obsessed. And when someone is brutally murdering infecteds, Eli Winters, leader of the Church of the Divine Transformation, hires Roan to find the killer before he closes in on Eli.

Working the crimes will lead Roan through a maze of hate, personal grudges, and mortal danger. With help from his tiger-strain infected partner, Paris Lehane, he does his best to survive in a world that hates and fears their kind… and occasionally worships them.

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TH2014Giveaway

Andrea Speed will be giving away an eBook from the series to one lucky winner. Just leave a comment below to enter.

 

TH2014Author

Andrea Speed writes way too much (and yet seemingly not enough). She is the writer of the Infected series for DSP Publications as well as a bunch of other stuff, and is Editor In Chief of CxPulp.com, where she reviews comics as well as movies and other stuff. She’s won a couple of Rainbow Awards, and feels she may be ubiquitous on the web. But she is not (sadly) the Italian DJ of the same name that often comes up first in Google searches.

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Sarah Madison – How Much Sex is Too Much: Defining What’s Just Right, Goldilocks?

We all know the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Our very particular heroine finds her way into the home of the Three Bears, for various reasons that have evolved and changed over time. The important part of the story is how, when she examined and tested the belongings of the bears, in each case, she found fault with the porridge, the chair, and the bed. The first item would be too hot, too big, too hard. The second too cold, too small, too soft. The exact terms of her dissatisfaction aren’t important. All you really need to know is that whatever she found wrong with the first item, the second item she tried would be diametrically opposite in its wrongness. At last, she would come upon the same item, but belonging to the littlest bear, and decide it was ‘just right’, claiming it for her own.

And so we run into that same dilemma within romance stories. By the very nature of the genre, readers expect some degree of romantic involvement between the main characters. The degree of which varies among all the subgenres in romance—from the so-called ‘sweet’ romances, or religious ones, in which nothing more than a chaste kiss is bestowed, to the erotic romances, that might be little more than one sex scene after another. Reader expectations are important. You can’t write cozy murder mystery and have your Miss Marple-type character drinking whiskey straight from the bottle or getting into a grisly shootout with the vicar. That would be all wrong for the genre, and the readers (quite rightly) would bay for your blood. You have to understand your audience.

But within the genre expectations, there is room for variance. For the sake of discussion here, let’s stick to M/M romance. As a niche within the romance genre, M/M romances also run the gamut of stories with discreet, fade-to-black sex scenes to the extremely explicit, but they tend to lean toward more sexual situations and more graphic depictions of sex itself. In fact, it might be fair to say your average M/M romance isn’t your grandmother’s Harlequin! But to be honest, neither is today’s Harlequin. Times have certainly changed since the days when a ‘good girl’ heroine had to be forcibly taken against her will in order to prevent her from being viewed as a slut. When it comes to M/M romance, the expectation for sex is high (to the point that if it is not there, the reviewer frequently apologizes on behalf of the author and tells you why you should read the story anyway). The question of what is ‘just right’, however, boils down to individual tastes and expectations.

And there’s the rub. Because if you’re writing in a genre where there is a high expectation for many explicit sex scenes, then it may be difficult to figure out what is just right for the reader. Instead, as the author, you have to figure out what is just right for you.

By far and large, I am happy with one or two major sex scenes per story, and a couple of smaller, anticipatory ones, with the rest implied. I’m all about the quality over the quantity! I think the scene should tell you something about the characters. After all, we are our most vulnerable during sex! I’m not a big fan of Olympic-style sex, where each scene has to be more athletic and more spectacular than the one before. I prefer my scenes to be realistic. Hot, yes. I want it to be smoking. But even that comes back down to the Goldilocks effect. One person’s hot button kink might be another person’s ‘meh.’

Recently, the sex between Special Agents John Flynn and Jerry Parker began changing in its dynamics. Some of the changes between them are inevitable, as that moment of intense can’t-keep-their-hands-off-each-other settles into an established relationship. Initially, in Unspeakable Words, Jerry was convinced John was straight. Even when it became apparent John wasn’t as straight as Jerry thought he was, Jerry was always conscious of the fact that, had it not been for the extraordinary effects touching a mysterious museum artifact had on Flynn, they might not ever have gotten together.

In Walk a Mile, the newly forged relationship takes some major hits as Flynn wants to do anything possible to return to ‘normal’, while Jerry fears that could be the end of their relationship altogether. So I was astonished when I found a degree of BDSM creeping into their sex. This is something neither character has shown an interest in before, and I think they will be feeling their way into it, even as I am trying to understand it! Dom/Sub relationships are another ‘test the porridge’ situation. People either like it or they don’t. But the nature of sexual relationships is that they seldom remain static. They are always evolving and changing, even as the characters themselves do.  I do run the risk of upsetting some readers that might not enjoy the changing dynamics between the characters. Do I refuse to give in to my characters’ desire to explore their sexuality in different ways?

No, I don’t. I’d rather run the risk of upsetting some readers with surprise!BDSM-lite sex than to serve them a bland dish of lukewarm porridge, so mild and tasteless that it appeals to  no one. Because no matter what I do, someone’s going to cry, “That’s too much sex!” while another sighs, “There’s not enough sex.” The sex will be too kinky or too vanilla. I will know, however, that the scene is really about the characters deepening their bond with each other, and not a desire on my part to ride current trends in the genre.

I’m just going to have faith that my ‘just right’ will be someone else’s as well, and that those readers will gravitate toward my stories over time.

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TH2014Blurb

Six months after starting their hunt for a serial killer who is still at large, FBI agents Jerry Lee Parker and John Flynn are partners in every sense. But Jerry has serious doubts about their relationship and whether they would even be together if not for the way Flynn changed after touching a mysterious artifact in a museum.

Flynn hates the extraordinary power bestowed on him by the artifact and wants nothing more than to have a normal life again. Jerry fears that without the unusual connection they forged, Flynn will no longer want or need him. Chasing after a similar artifact takes them back to Flynn’s old stomping grounds in Washington D.C., where his newfound abilities uncover long-buried secrets, the kind people would kill to protect. But they aren’t the only ones looking for these powerful relics, and what they discover will threaten their relationship—and their lives.

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TH2014Excerpt

 (NSFW)

Flynn was waiting in the middle of the room.

Jerry had no idea how long he’d been there or what he might have picked up on as Jerry had showered. He had a rumpled look about him that went deeper than usual. His expression on seeing Jerry come out of the bathroom was bleak, almost angry. Jerry couldn’t shake the feeling that he’d been waiting impatiently, however. Expectantly. Almost needy.

Jerry pulled up short at the sight of him.

Not taking his eyes off Jerry, Flynn tugged at his tie until it came loose. “I need you to fuck me.”

Jerry gaped at him for a second, and then plunged all thoughts into the soundproof booth as he rapidly processed them. Flynn rarely bottomed—not that Jerry minded. He often thought he was getting the better deal. But even when they’d been going at it like rabbits, Flynn had never asked for sex. It had just happened. Like spontaneous combustion.

 Jerry felt his eyes narrow as he fought to keep his thoughts hidden. Flynn looked exhausted. His hair and clothing were damp—he must have been walking in the rain. He seemed to want to be punished for some reason, and he had chosen bottoming as the means of achieving self-flagellation. What that said about his feelings toward sex with Jerry wasn’t to be thought of right now. What mattered was giving Flynn what he wanted the way he wanted it without ever having spoken about it before. Jerry had only one shot at getting this right.

“Fine,” he said, when he’d found his voice again. Frost chilled his words. “Strip.”

Flynn raised an eyebrow.

“You heard me.” Jerry spoke in the clipped tones he reserved for the truly stupid co-worker. “I’m not going to ask twice.”

He buried the internal sigh of relief when Flynn shrugged out of his jacket and began unbuckling his belt.

“Yeah. That’s it.” Jerry felt an astonishing rush of power come over him. His cock approved, slowly filling to tent his towel. Flynn undressed carelessly, his underlying anger causing him to tug at his shirt buttons in a manner that normally would have pained Jerry to watch. This time he felt a simmering excitement at the knowledge that Flynn was pulling roughly at his clothing at Jerry’s command.

For once, he was in goddamned control. Unexpected confidence surged through him and he cast aside his towel. He planted his feet firmly and stood as though he expected to be worshiped, and by God, for once he felt as though he should be worshiped.

Flynn watched him with flattering attention, to the point that he fumbled with the buttons on his fly.

“Stop.” Jerry infused the word with all the authority he’d developed from years as an agent and was gratified when Flynn froze and looked up in confusion.

“You can’t take your pants off before your shoes.”

TH2014Author

Sarah Madison is a veterinarian with a big dog, an even bigger horse, too many cats, and a very patient boyfriend. She is a terrible cook, and concedes that her life would be easier if Purina made People Chow. She writes because it is cheaper than therapy.

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