All posts by L.J. Longo

I’m a queer author, a geek, a feminist, and an MFA student studying genre fiction. I think that covers all the labels; I don’t really like labels. Rules tend to get me in trouble. I’ve published two romance novels, Evasive Love through Ellora’s Cave in 2012 and Uninvited Love through Evernight Publishing in 2016 and have a bunch more for sale on Smashwords.com. I teach creative writing classes by the beach and professionally edit. If you’d like to chat with me about books, writing, queer/feminist issues, I’m on facebook at LJLongo713.

LM Spangler : Return to Me

Return to Me-teaser1

Return to Me

 

Her secret tore them apart.

Naida Bouche foolishly thought she could live as if she was only human. Her true nature hung over her like a thunderhead, driving a wedge between her and her husband.

Cooper Martin had no idea why his ex-wife divorced him. He’d treated her like a goddess. And they had no problems in the intimacy department.

Fate brings them together again. Old emotions flare to life. Can Naida see beyond her self-perceived faults and allow the flames to reignite the love she and Coop feel for one another?

EXCERPT:

Water cascaded off her nude body. Small rivulets ran over her breasts and down her slightly rounded stomach, disappearing into the surface of the lake.
She was one with the water.
She could, literally, become one with it.
Moonlight reflected off the mirror-smooth surface, adding a soft glow to the night.
Crickets serenaded her with their chirping song. The cicadas added their buzzing to the symphony. There were a lot of cicadas, hence the name of the lake. A wolf howled in the distance. Nature cocooned her.
She grinned and dove under. Liquid embraced her, still heated by the sun’s rays from earlier in the day. Her body became insubstantial, fragmenting into molecules of H2O. Disorientation left her bewildered, but the feeling came and went. Weightless warmth enveloped her, and the ebb and flow of the tide lulled her into blissful relaxation.
The moon slid across the sky. Hours had passed. Her body became corporeal with a single thought. After regaining her human form, she cut through the water with powerful strokes and rose to the surface in a rush of bubbles.
The night air chilled her damp skin, raising goose pimples along her flesh. She pushed the long fall of hair from her face and glanced into the deep, lush woods that ringed the lake. Soon the leaves would change to shades of gold, orange, red, and brown. In would come the autumnal chill. Her time in the waters would decrease, and then winter would set in and freeze her out.
When that happened, she’d resort to the swimming pool located on the basement level of her large home. Even with the greenery she had sprinkled about, it never fully replaced the exhilaration of the lake, the feel of fresh air against her skin, and the scent of the wilderness.
She repeated the cycle, year after year. The monotony had long since worn short on her nerves.
She had someone in her life, someone to break the monotony.
More accurately, she would only have him until the end of the day.
Tonight would be the last night they would be together. She’d tell him that they were over and done with. The sad part of the whole shitty deal was she couldn’t really give him a reason why.
How could he understand? Hell, she’d have trouble believing the truth, if it wasn’t her life.
The root of their problems were otherworldly, as her father was human and her mother was a water nymph.
The nymph side of her heritage presented two problems. First, she needed daily contact with water. The more the better. Like her pool in the basement. Second, she also needed sex … a lot. Preferably once or twice a day. After all, the term “nymphomaniac” had been born of a nymph’s sex drive.
They had a lot of sex, but there were times when their hectic lives interfered with his libido. He was human and his sex drive was human.
She couldn’t guess how he’d react if she said, “I’m a nympho which means we have to have sex all the time. Day and night. Over and over and over.”
He wouldn’t understand it and she’d allowed it to build a wall between them.
No, he had never known the truth of her desires.
She had pushed him away, afraid of exposing her real self.
And that fear, that uncertainty, would leave her alone … and needy.

Buy Links:

Available at your favorite e-book retailer!

Author Bio:

LM Spangler lives in South Central Pennsylvania with her husband, daughter, three dogs, a cat, a rabbit, and some fish. Her son serves his country in the US Navy.

She is a fan of college football and any kind of baseball and likes to watch the Discovery, Velocity, HGTV, DIY, Science, and any channel showing a college football game. She also watches old game shows like $25,000 Pyramid and Match Game.

Behind the Scenes: Evasive Love Part 1returntome1l__15503.1526265405.432.648

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Author Spotlight: Katherine Wyvern Sex Scenes, and “Spice & Vanilla”

thumbnail_Spice-vanilla-miniteaser

Hello, and thank you so much for having me here today to talk about my new release, Spice & Vanilla. This is the darker, naughtier sister of my previous release, Woman as a Foreign Language, but it can be read as a complete stand alone.

The BDSM element in Spice and Vanilla came about in part because I had just finished reading Katerina Ross’ beautiful novel Tenderly Wicked, so I was in the mood for something a bit spicier than my previous release, and partly because I had this idea for Raphael, the main character, that he would be “in two minds about anything”. He’s gender-fluid, bisexual, and as it turns out, a switch (he is in fact the sort of character that can piss off absolutely every reader on earth, lol).

I always like sex scenes to carry some of the character building in my stories. I think sex is one of the most visceral things we do in life, and the way we have sex with different people and different sex with the same people at different times can say a lot about us, about our feelings for our partners and where we are in a relationship. You can put so much more than smut in a sex scene (although a good amount of smut is most welcome), and when you stray into BDSM that potential for character exploration rises tenfold, because there are so many more layers to it. Why do we feel the need, in a caring, loving relationship, for giving or receiving pain? Why do power and humiliation become a turn on, even a necessity, at certain times? And can these things add more to our relationships than just a passing kinky thrill? Can they possibly become a way to express feelings we don’t have words for? I do not pretend to have full answers to these questions, but I did enjoy searching for them in the company of such complex characters as Raphael and Hugh.

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Blurb:

Time was, when Di could dance all night. Time was, when she could ride any horse in the stable. Time was when she had a fiancée, a future and a home she loved. Until a silver SUV came out of nowhere and broke her life in half.

Well concealed under a sarcastic, spiny hide, Hugh has a darkly romantic, passionate soul. Torn between love and terror, he’s held the talented, elegant, magnetic Raphael carefully at arm’s length since the day they met.

Male or female, men or women, kinky or sweet, top or bottom? Angel or devil? Raphael’s life is a string of unanswered questions. And Lucie, his long-hidden female self, may bring it all together or destroy everything he has.

Be warned: cross-dressing, gender-queer, explicit M/M and M/F sex, anal sex, spanking, flogging, bondage, forced orgasm, sex toys

Excerpt:

Hugh watched him stroking away with great contentment. He was totally worn out after a crazy day at work, and it was not always easy to find the energy to satisfy such an enthusiastic masochist. There were days when he wished Raphael were a bit less fond of being spanked and whipped, but he always did his best to oblige him. The thought of his Raphael going out there looking for release from God-only-knows-whom, and getting hurt for real by some less scrupulous or talented Dom was just unbearable. Still, tonight he would lie back and relax. Mostly. I will have to help him eventually, he thought with a slightly evil grin, but I can take a breather first.

Raphael stroked in perfect tempo. He was one of the most technically exact musicians Hugh had ever played with, after all. Too exact, in fact.

It would do him so much good to let go a bit, to just go with the flow, be wild and imprecise and purely passionate. Then he would not need so much of this.

Tick—tock—tick—tock—tick—tock, went the metronome, and Raphael stroked and stroked. It was a good while before Hugh could tell, from a small furrow between those blond eyebrows, that the unchanging, slow rhythm was beginning to frustrate him. He smiled a bit wider and said nothing, devouring his beautiful quarry with his eyes. He watched, entranced the fluid play of flesh and skin as Raphael’s long pale cock, a nice ruddy purple by now, sank and reemerged into and from his fist, the velvet-like foreskin lapping beautifully over the shinier, silky glans, the testicles bouncing softly to the rhythm as the scrotum was pulled up and released. It was hard to resist the temptation to throw the whole scene to the devil and just take that cock in his mouth and suck it empty.

This is without exception the best use a metronome was ever put to.

Raphael’s body was developing a number of small, charming tics and twitches. He briefly lifted his left knee from the mattress then relaxed again. His right wrist was pulling on the strap from time to time, and his breath was coming in slightly ragged bursts.

Still it took a long time. Too much control, thought Hugh, smiling. Tsk-tsk.

Tick—tock—tick—tock.

He slowly unfolded his hands and moved to sit between Raphael’s legs. He spit on his middle finger and watched Raphael’s face, half hopeful, half anxious, as he slowly approached his anus. He didn’t hurry. He let Raphael wait for it. He would beg, in time, Hugh knew, but there was no need for that, not yet. He finally pressed his fingertip to the twitching, tight, live rose of flesh and felt it jolt and spasm. He massaged it in circles, with relish, and didn’t even try to penetrate it. Raphael was shaking all over, trying to press down on his finger, but there was just so far he could stretch, tied as he was. His belly muscles went taut. They were contracting in random, jerky convulsions. Hugh had never seen anything so beautiful.

Then Raphael missed a beat. His hand had picked up pace, ignoring all orders. Raphael whimpered, trying to compensate to get back in the right tempo. The double change of pace made him squirm all over. He swallowed twice and missed the beat again. This time Hugh slapped the inside of his thigh, very hard. Raphael could take a long regular series of well-spaced blows with relative ease, but a single hard slap coming down out of the blue like that drew a ragged cry from him.

“You do know what tempo means, I asked?” Hugh said, in a plain chatty voice. He had never had any taste whatsoever for histrionics. He was not, he had never been, a theatrical Dom. He wasn’t in it for setting up a show. He just got the job done.

“Yes. Yes!” said Raphael, a bit frantic. He managed to stick to the rhythm for a minute longer, until Hugh gently stuck his finger just within the ring of his anus. All of Raphael’s body twisted, and he lost all track of the cold, mechanical rhythm of the metronome.

And that is exactly what you need, my love . Too much playing by the rules, too much fucking control. You need to find your own tempo, and just let go.

Five or six fast hard strokes followed. Hugh slapped him twice, on his thigh, and, when he turned suddenly, on his butt. And then Raphael came, on the third slap, as he flopped flat on his back again, crying out in pleasure or pain, or both. It was hard to tell. Semen spurted out in beautiful, long, arched white streamers, splattering over Raphael’s belly, chest, and even his face.

It is difficult to aim while being spanked hard.

Hugh watched him coming, avidly.

He was so naked. So vulnerable, so unguarded. Hugh, who felt, every day, that he might shatter like glass, on Raphael’s unearthly, impossibly graceful, self-possessed beauty, lived for these moments, to watch him released of all self-consciousness and all bonds. Strange, how it took a bunch of leather straps to get him to do that.

“Ah, oh, shit. That hurt,” Raphael whispered after a minute. “Not complaining, mind,” he added, with a small edgy laugh, wiping some drops of sperm from his lips and eyebrow.

“Good,” said Hugh, quite composed, despite the erection straining in his pants. Watching Raphael twitching and jolting while covered in glistening semen was not a sight to leave him unmoved. He reached out for the metronome, stopped it and lowered the weight a tad, then started it again.

This was a faster, business-like tempo.

“There you go, hot lips,” he said to Raphael, who was still breathing hard from his orgasm.

“What? Wh—but…”

Hugh gave him a small devilish smile. Raphael was perfectly capable of coming two or three times in one night, but, like most men, he needed a while to recuperate in between. Well, tonight, he wasn’t getting it.

“You didn’t think it would be that easy, did you?”


You can also find an exclusive excerpt on my website, here.

 

Find Spice & Vanilla at Evernight.

Or on Amazon.

See what Katherine is up to on:

Katherine’s Blog

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Or follow her on Instagram @katherinewyvern

 

Into the Mystic : Ava Kelly

Into the Mystic, Volume Three is a short story anthology featuring nine paranormal short stories that center on a lesbian/bisexual romance. I’m super excited about it, since I feel there is a lack of LGBT fantasy romance especially ones that focus on the ladies. Since I know a few of these authors, they let me interview them!


Ava Kelly

It Started Before Noon – All Stories must begin somewhere.

Ava Kelly is an engineer with a deep passion for stories. Whether reading, watching, or writing them, Ava has always been surrounded by tales of all genres. Their goal is to bring more stories to life, especially those of friendship, compassion, understanding, and comfort.

Secluded Storefront by Ava Kelly
“Secluded Storefront” art by Ava Kelly

L.J. wakes up bound to M. Hollis’ wheeled chair, but she is not in her kitchen anymore. Instead L.J. is surrounded by books, cogs, wires, and bubbling liquids. A picture perfect steampunk laboratory.

L.J.: Damn! Serves me right for trusting a vampire and her delicious cookies.

L.J. scoots and the chairs rolls forward.

L.J.: Hello? Is there a mad scientist around? Maybe a minion?

Crash that sounds like tools and metal, but also pens and paper. Ava Kelly pops around the corner. L.J. wiggles her fingers to wave.

Ava: Oh! You’re awake already. That vampire told me you were a dream factory and would sleep for a hundred years. I hadn’t even gotten around to test you yet!

L.J.: Nope, just a friendly writer going around door-to-door in other author’s imaginations and getting interviews.

Ava: Aw. Serves me right for trusting a vampire and her discounts. Well, I suppose it’s nothing a sedative won’t cure.

L.J.: But the interview? I mean this silliness has gone along quite long enough don’t you agree?

Ava: I suppose…

Ava sits down and sips from a cup of tea.

Ava: You’ll want to know what draws me to F/F romance?

L.J.: Actually, I’d like to be untied before–

Ava: The same thing that draws me to queer stories in general. Diversity and normalizing diversity.

L.J.: That’s beautiful. Can I quote you on that. I just need to not be tied up so I can–

Ava: Names are powerful things. I’ve been an outsider throughout my formative years, raised in an allo cishet environment in which queer media was almost non-existent.

Ava paces through the laboratory, pausing as they encounter experiments that need fine tuning.Tightening loose screws, pruning idea trees, that sort of thing.

Ava: So you can imagine the revelations I had later on, when—through the stories and movies and books of others—I could name the peculiarities of my own person. When I knew that I wasn’t alone. I’d like to bring that feeling to others. I’d like to help them understand who they are, be able to name their demons and thus turn them into trusted companions. Because, hey, we’re all different and that’s what makes us human. That’s a good thing.

L.J.: So is untying your guests.

Ava turning sharply with a needle full of dream-dust.

Ava: What?

L.J.: What inspired “It Started Before Noon”?

Ava leans against a table stacked high with books and sets down the needle. One of the books stretches, yawns, and patters over to L.J.

Ava: That is a very good question, since “It Started Before Noon” is a story about inspiration.

Ava rubs their chin.

Ava: Honestly, I can’t remember what it was that started it all. One moment I was hopping through the mythology multi-verses—Wikipedia is both a burden and a joy, isn’t it?—the next there were storypuffs and muses and scientists looking for romance in a world dry of it.

L.J. nods helpfully. But as soon as Ava returns to their survey of the room, L.J. rubs her bound wrists against the hard-ridges of the book’s spine. The book arches up happy with the attention.

Ava: I must admit, I have a soft spot for steampunk aesthetics, the visual part of it most of all. The universe of “It Started Before Noon” has that aesthetic, but it has magic. A subtle kind of supernatural energy, persistent, generously infused in everyday life. A resource like everything else.

L.J. stops sawing through the straps when Ava turns to look at her. The hard-cover book annoyed bats at L.J.’s hands with its sharp pages.

L.J.: That’s really cool. You don’t often see sci fi and fantasy blending like that.

Ava nods and collects the stray books and returns it to its tower while it hisses.

Ava: The people living in this world are on a spectrum of magic… flux, if you will. Some are immersed in it to their core, it’s part of who they are, what they are. Others are at the other extreme, oblivious to its tendrils wrapping around reality. Most, however, reside in between, be they creators of magic or simply users. Talida, a muse, is a part of it. Ingrid, a scientist, cannot see it.

L.J.: Oh that’s a relationship fraught with conflict right from the start.

Ava: Indeed. Their personalities aren’t all that similar either. Talida is easily annoyed, but she also has patience; unless startled, in which case she acts rashly and without much consideration. Ingrid is exuberant, relentless, a little stubborn. Yet, when it comes to tending to her own happiness, she might give up too easily. They fit around each other, not perfectly, but enough to make them gravitate toward each other.

L.J. snaps the rest of the strap while Ava plays with a character mixer demonstrating the auras mingling.

The Storypuff and the Rose by Ava Kelly
“The Storypuff and the Rose” art by Ava Kelly

L.J.: It sounds like you have a really in-depth world for a novella. Was that a challenge for you?

Ava: When writing fantasy, the most difficult part is world-building without making it obvious. It’s easy to drop a chunk of text explaining how that particular setting works, its rules, its way of life; but considerably harder to interweave it within the story.

Ava reaches into a jaw of descriptors and begins to pepper them around the lab. A ‘thatched’ there, an ‘eye of newt’ here, ‘creaky floor boards’ all around, and ‘smoke swirling upward. The ‘gingerbread fragrance’ thickens.

Ava: Let it drop here and there, make its way into the reader’s mind quietly and unobtrusively until they’re there. Until they’re living inside that space with no memory of having to jump through. As a writer you have to know how to open the doors to your own imagination without yanking your reader through. Must have patience, must lure them with crumbs under the canopy, one after another on the meandering forest path until bam!

L.J.: Holy cow, we’re in a witch’s cottage.

L.J. is now imprisoned in a cage made of hard-rock candy.

Ava: Would you like some gingerbread to munch on?

L.J.: No, I’ve leaved my lesson about snacking in other authors’ imaginations. What about the romance part of the story? Was that difficult?

Ava continues drinking their tea, though they lean against a kitchen counter full of dangling herbs, jars of organs, and vials of electricity.

Light Painting by Ava Kelly
“Light Painting” Art by Ava Kelly

Ava: Romance is… weird, in a good way. There’s a thing I noticed over the past decade(-ish). Our world demands fiction to be more and more realistic. There’s so much technological progress that science fiction is becoming true. I essentially design artificially intelligent systems in my research.

L.J.: Wait, like…for real?

Waves hands and dispels the witch cottage and re-checks their e-mail.

L.J.: Ava… is an engineer… That reality is a hundred times cooler than anything I could making up.

Ava: Yeah, let me tell you: it’s mind-blowing. Twenty years ago, having an entire computer in your pocket would’ve been too out-there to imagine it as an integral part of our lives. Now that computer can be the size of a watch and you can still write emails on it. And remember those Star Trek comm devices? The only difference is that we’re wearing them around our wrists instead of on our chests.

L.J.: I’d give all my money to the person who designs a case for one that clips onto my shirt and stays in place.

Ava: One will probably pop up soon enough. So, now we have this world in which the impossible is suddenly not only plausible but also probable, and we start craving reality to bleed through. Romance as a genre is a mirror that distorts reality toward happiness, but the world is sadly too bleak. On the one hand we want to see the possibility of contentment, and yet, on the other, we thrive when it moulds around life as we know it.

L.J.: So the challenge of writing romance…

Ava: Is making it feel possible. Realistic enough to touch. In the end it’s all about fulfilling the purpose of romance: to give hope. And that’s pretty damn hard to do if your heart, as a writer, is not in it.

L.J.: Alright, last thoughts. What is your advice to new writers, Ava Kelly?

Ava: I’ve seen a lot of advice regarding writing in general, but a lot less when it comes to the struggles of getting your work out there. So I’m going to talk about the publishing part. If you don’t want to self-publish, you have to submit your work for consideration. To a magazine, a publisher, an agent, etc. and convincing them to buy your stories can seem sisyphean.

One of the realities of today’s world is that there’s just so much of everything in it. So many people, so much media, a lot fewer avenues of publication. It’s hard to shine from a pool of millions doing the same thing (and this happens not only in art-related fields, but also in research and academia). I’ve been publishing things in both fiction and non-fiction since the late ’90s and oh, boy! I have gotten at least ten times more rejections than acceptances, overall. Haven’t really counted, but that’s in the upper hundreds there.

It’s spirit-crushing. Heartbreaking sometimes. Discouraging to the point of hopelessness.

My advice? Keep submitting.

The hardest thing about this is to not give up, so how do we endure? Simply don’t stop—don’t set that quill down, that’s your sword! Polish the story, if you must. Rewrite it, reimagine, but never stop submitting. Be patient, let the no’s slide off and get back to it. Persevere.

L.J.: This has been a lot of fun for me and now I’m super inspired.

L.J. walks away before any of these nutballs from Into the Mystic catch her again.

L.J.: Can’t believe I got an interview with the inventor of our future Robot masters.


Find more Ava Kelly on their:

Lily by Ava Kelly
“Lily” Art by Ava Kelly

Instagram(where we can bathe our eyes in weird sunsets apparently)

Into the Mystic : M. Hollis

Into the Mystic, Volume Three is a short story anthology featuring nine paranormal short stories that center on a lesbian/bisexual romance. I’m super excited about it, since I feel there is a lack of LGBT fantasy romance especially ones that focus on the ladies. Since I know a few of these authors, they let me interview them!


M. Hollis

The Hunt – A first bite is never easy for a teenage vampire.

M. Hollis could never decide what to do with her life. From the time she was a child, she has changed her ideas for a career hundred of times. After writing in hidden notebooks during classes and daydreaming during every spare moment of her day, she decided to fully dedicate herself to her stories. When she isn’t scrolling through her social media accounts or reading lots of femslash fanfiction, you’ll find her crying about female characters and baking cookies.

Favorite Authors:Hollis 1

  1. GL Tomas
  2. Siera Maley
  3. Brigitte Bautista
  4. Tess Sharpe
  5. Shira Glassman

 

Ziggy Schultz closes the mausoleum gate as soon as L.J. passes through. Which is good because L.J. immediately tries to escape.

L.J.: There’s a vampire out here!  Let me out!

The vampire draws nearer licking bubble-gum pink lips, then lifts a tray of oatmeal raisin cookies.

M. Hollis: Cookie?

L.J.: Um… obviously. Yeah.

The inside of the mausoleum is in fact a very pretty kitchen. Lots of bright colors and a sign over the table that says “forever thirsty” and has a suspiciously red margarita. 

M: So happy you could join me in my happy home. When I heard Ninestar Press was looking for F/F paranormal stories and I decided to write something for them. Vampire stories always fascinated me for some reason.

M. Hollis giggles and flashes her pearly fangs. L.J. eats the cookies.

M.: So it was easy to come up with The Hunt. I wanted to write a story that isn’t dark or creepy for once but more about vampire families and how vampires do the transition from newborns to fully formed vampires. That’s how I came up with the first bite being kind of a ritual for some vampires (not all of them feel the itch to bite humans though).

L.J.: Cool take on vampires. Life cycle. These cookies are amazeballs! So you’re main character is a teenage vampire?

M: “teenage” vampire. She was changed a few days before she turned 19. You can see her on my pinterest. She was scared and alone at the time and she found a family with Carla and Mona (who she calls Mom and Mommy). Carla is a writer who specializes in writing books that tell vampires where the safe and dangerous places are to live and visit while her wife Mona is a translator and they kinda work together sometimes. In this world, vampires have secured themselves into a new dimension where they have their neighborhoods and houses in a safe place, but they come out sometimes for food, pleasure or work.

L.J.: Nice. So you’ve got two F/F couples?

M: Representation is so important. I started reading F/F romance when I was looking for more diverse stories years ago and the more I read the more I figured my sexuality out and my love for other women. So now I like to dedicate myself to reading and writing F/F as much as I can.

L.J.: That’s beautiful. Nearly as beautiful as these cookies… so…what challememes…

L.J. swallows the cookie.

L.J.: What challenges did you face in writing fantasy/romance?

M.: World-building l is always the hardest part for me. I like to write more about the characters themselves than little details so I tend to forget things that other people care about. I guess is something I slowly work with and my beta readers are always helping me out to become a better author. For romance, the challenge is to find a way to tell a love story that will make everyone happy, which is completely impossible. Every person likes different things and you end up making some people happy and some people disappointed. With time, you learn that you can just write a story and see what happens when it reaches other hands.

L.J. suddenly feeling very sleepy, yawns.

L.J.: Yeah, can’t please… everybody all the… Did I ask about your advice to newbies, yet?

M.: Nope. Here, have a seat in this convenient and not at all suspiciously wheeled arm chair. You look exhausted.

L.J.: Well, you know, between the ghosts and demons and werewolves and… oh more cookies. It’s been a weird couple of days. So advice for…

M.: Make friends in the publishing world! Especially, other authors. I don’t know if I could still be here if it wasn’t the many other wonderful authors who encourage me and are always helping me with my stories. And I love helping them back. Working in publishing is hard…

M. Hollis plumps the pillow on the chair.

M.: If you don’t have a good support system, you’ll end up too exhausted to keep going.

L.J. snores as M. Hollis wheels her away…


 

Find more M. Hollis on her:hollishollis 3

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Into the Mystic : Ziggy Schutz

Into the Mystic, Volume Three is a short story anthology featuring nine paranormal short stories that center on a lesbian/bisexual romance. I’m super excited about it, since I feel there is a lack of LGBT fantasy romance especially ones that focus on the ladies. Since I know a few of these authors, they let me interview them!


Ziggy Schultz

By Candlelight – A girl and her ghost await a funeral.

Ziggy is a small-town queer kid who has escaped to the big city of Vancouver, BC. She loves comic books, monsters, and hard fought happy endings. Her writing has appeared in Behind the Mask (Meerkat Press, 2017), Daily Science Fiction, and she is also the cowriter and producer of Crossing Wires, a hopeful post-apocalyptic podcast. When not writing, she spends most of her time in haunted houses, spinning ghost stories for anyone who will stop and listen.

Favorite Authors:heart

  1. Tamora Pierce
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien
  3. Ivan Coyote
  4. Maggie Stiefvater
  5. Neil Gaiman

 

 

Leaving Lis Valentine behind in a crazy South Dakota bar, L.J. dashes into… a Canadian graveyard. It’s surprisingly peaceful here. No traces of monsters just a few ghosts in the chilly curls of mist.

A gender-ambiguous person in a hood with a scythe waves L.J. over. Then notices the scythe and quickly puts it under the robe.

L.J.: Ziggy Schutz?

The figure nods.

L.J.: I’m here to interview you about your story in Into the Mystic. Uh… “By Candlelight”?

Again the silent figure nods.

L.J.: Well, this is gonna be a strange interview. What draws you to F/F romance?

The figure begins a muffled answer. Then realizes and pulls down the hood. Ziggy has the most excellent dimples.

Ziggy: Oh Gosh! Forgot I had that on. Hi. Yeah so… as someone who grew up feeling the absence of F/F stories, especially stories where girls were allowed to really fall in love, as opposed to just kissing as a way to titillate the male audience, I try to create the stories that I wanted when I was younger. Even in the space of queer fiction, sapphic romance is so underrepresented, after all. Especially in genre fiction.

They walk through the graveyard.

L.J.: Couldn’t agree more. I came from a small town too and there was zero representation. So, “By Candlelight” has a really interesting version of ghosts.

Ziggy: Oh yeah. Ghost is a job title, like a personal reaper. The world, and this version of ‘ghosts’ already existed. Just left to collect dust with a half finished novella, so when I saw Into The Mystic calling for paranormal, sapphic stories, I went ‘hey, I might have something for that.’ Separate from that, I was playing around with the idea of who funerals are for, and the trope of getting to attend your own. Combine all that, and you get “By Candlelight”!

They pass several mausoleums and a row of carved stone angels.

Ziggy: In this world, when someone dies a ghost comes, sends them on their way, and takes on their appearance so that they can tie up any loose ends. The ghost who comes to help Zoe move on is very good at her job. She’s been doing it as long as she can remember, doesn’t recall ever having her own name or face. And she hasn’t had anyone turn into a spirit – refuse to move on until all humanity is leeched from them – on her in a very long time.

Some of the carved stone angels turn to watch as they walk past.

Ziggy: But Zoe has known she’s going to die for years, most of her last years being defined by that fact. It makes sense that in coming to terms with dying young, she’s become obsessed with death – what it might look like, what comes after, both for herself and for her family and how to make it easiest for them. She is stubborn and single minded, which is why when a ghost that looks like a healthier version of her shows up when she dies and tells her not to worry, the ghost will take it from here, she refuses to move on without explanation.

Ziggy notices the stone angels following them and brandishes the scythe until the angels go back to the way they were before. L.j. doesn’t notice.

L.J.: There’s so much in there that is really intriguing. Really original take on ghosts. Did you have any challenges while you were writing for this call?

Ziggy: Fantasy is something I’m very comfortable with, romance is… not so much. The challenge was really in making sure the subtle romance of the story shone through, really making sure each scene and interaction between Zoe and her ghost carried the weight it needed to feel genuine.

They arrive at the far gate of graveyard.

L.J.: Any advice to new writers?

Ziggy: is it too cliche to say ‘write.’

L.J. shrugs and makes a face because that’s the advice she usually gives and she thought it was pretty damn good advice.

Ziggy: Challenge yourselves. Write a romance, or a sci fi heist, or a high fantasy piece. You’ll never know when you stumble upon something, some new genre or type of story that you never would have tried if you kept to what you knew you could do. And don’t pay too much mind to what people say is marketable. So much of that is based on an outdated, narrow view of the narrative.

hauntedlocationsbostongraveyard

 


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Into the Mystic : Lis Valentine

Into the Mystic, Volume Three is a short story anthology featuring nine paranormal short stories that center on a lesbian/bisexual romance. I’m super excited about it, since I feel there is a lack of LGBT fantasy romance especially ones that focus on the ladies. Since I know a few of these authors, they let me interview them!


Lis Valentine

Fire and Brine – Of all the bars in all the world, Alice had to wander into Cassandra’s. Are either of them ready for what comes next?

Lis lives in Boston with her partner and kid. She chases the mail for money and has too many books and too few days off. She has more stories at Ninestar Press under her other (PG 13) pseudonym, Valentine Wheeler. Check out Dead Letter in Into the Mystic Volume Two, and Piece of Cake in the Teacher’s Pet anthology! Coming out next month in Once Upon a Rainbow Volume Three, is her story “Loose in the Heel, Tight in the Toe.” And Surface Tension, a novella about mermaid abductions, is due out in September.

Favorite Authors:

cheers_bar_artifacts

  1. N. K. Jemesin.
  2. S. A. Chakraborty
  3. Felicia Davin
  4. Seanan McGuire
  5. Tamora Pierce

 

As Bru Baker roars away in the ghostly carriage, L.J. is surprised to find herself in…South Dakota. Outside of a bar, called Dusty’s. Since a drink sounds like a fantastic idea after the night she’s been having. L.J. goes inside and is surprised to find everyone seems to know her name. Just as she’s backing out the door again, L.J. notices a fellow author perched at the bar.

Lis Valentine: You gotta write with other people! Work in coffee shops together! Hop into each others’ google docs, email drafts back and forth! The more you see other people’s process, the more you can understand and streamline your own and figure out what works…and  you know, what doesn’t… for you.

Lis sagging on the bar.

Lis: Not to mention the fact that writing can be lonely if you’re doing it solo. Make it social and make it fun if that’s your jam!

L.J. approaches the bar cautiously waiting for vampires, or werewolves, or succubi.

L.J.: Hey there, Lis. So I take it “Fire and Brine” takes place in a bar?

Lis: Well, why not? All these supernatural beings, and they never once get down after lights’ out? Come on. I love the trope of strangers meeting for a night, and this was the perfect opportunity. Ladies in a South Dakota bar…

L.J.: So what drew you to F/F/ romance?

Lis lashes out with her drink.

Lis: There’s not enough of it! I’m always looking for great queer female characters, especially in genre fiction and romance. We’re making strides, but we aren’t there yet.

L.J.: I know, I read your tumblr post about men taking men to task about their female characters and I–

Lis: As a queer female-presenting person, I love seeing people like me in the fiction I read. This particular piece was a bit of a challenge for me because I don’t usually write erotica, but I’m proud of it!

L.J.: Ooh spicy!

Lis: Proud of it!

L.J. recoils.

L.J.: And you should be, Lis. Tell me what it’s about?

Lis: So Cassandra– she’s the main character. She looks like Alona Tal —  she’s a woman who lives her life on her terms now that she’s gotten a fresh start. lis1

She has a long history that she’s pushed aside and tried her best to forget. She built Dusty’s up from nothing when she bought it, and she isn’t going to let anyone get in the way of her life.

L.J.: Hey! That’s a gun you’re character is pointing at me!

lis2Lis: And then there’s Alice– she’s visually inspired by Saba Mubarak. Alice has no love for the quiet life. She blows into a town and then right back out of it, taking what she needs and charming everyone along the way.

L.J.: That’s  a really hot combo.

L.J. backs away from the blonde with the pistol.

L.J.: Any challenges in writing such intense character into a fantasy romance?

Lis: I started writing through fan fiction, so the mix of fantasy and romance is what I’ve always written. I find that romance doesn’t care what genre you’re writing in: if the sparks are there, they’ll fly!

Probably about as fast as L.J. flies out of that bar.


lis

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Into the Mystic : Bru Baker

Into the Mystic, Volume Three is a short story anthology featuring nine paranormal short stories that center on a lesbian/bisexual romance. I’m super excited about it, since I feel there is a lack of LGBT fantasy romance especially ones that focus on the ladies. Since I know a few of these authors, they let me interview them!


Bru Baker

Heart’s Thaw- A frozen heart is no match for ignited passions.

Bru Baker writes sophisticated gay romantic fiction with strong characters, real-world problems, and plenty of humor. Bru spent fifteen years writing for newspapers before making the jump to fiction. She now balances her time between writing and working at a Midwestern library in the reference department. Whether it’s creating her own characters or getting caught up in someone else’s, there’s no denying that Bru is happiest when she’s engrossed in a story. She and her husband have two children, which means a lot of her books get written from the sidelines of various sports practices.

Favorite Authors:images

  1. Daphne Du Maurier
  2. Margaret Atwood
  3. Emily Bronte
  4. Jennifer Egan
  5. Mary Calmes

 

 

As K. Parr lopes away for her monthly howl, L.J. remains in the carriage watching her disrobed friend’s transformation agog.

L.J.: Well, I’m agog! One never knows how strange one’s friends truly are. Wait, wasn’t this just a taxi?

The driver of the carriage turns and smiles at L.J.

Driver: M’Lady has the most peculiar fancies. You know, I also wrote a story for that collection.

L.J.: Splendid. And you are?

Driver: Bru Baker

L.J.: That is the best author name ever.

Bru utterly unimpressed by L.J.’s admiration focuses on the road and the horses.

Bru: Quite. My story is Heart’s Thaw. Helena, who is the Duke of Keering’s daughter and very well-bred and prim, and her paid companion, Calliope, who is a bit of a firecracker. Calliope is supposed to keep Helena out of trouble, but Helena is too stubborn for her own good. They’re an interesting pairing of fire and ice.

L.J.: Sounds most delightful. What inspired–

Bru:  My best friend asked me to write her an F/F piece for Christmas because she has such a hard time finding lesbian fiction.

L.J.: I know! There’s such a shortage of good F/F–

Bru: I liked the idea of experimenting with what a paranormal creature like a succubus would do when confronted with a woman who isn’t attracted to men.

L.J. nods and takes notes.

Bru: I primarily write gay romantic fiction, so dipping into F/F was an interesting challenge for me. I primarily write contemporary and urban fantasy, and to further set it apart from my usual voice I chose to go with a historical setting for this piece. It was a lot of fun, and I found writing women to be a much more sensuous experience. Ditto for writing outside of contemporary. Everything is sexier by candlelight!

Bru looks over at L.J. disdainfully.

Bru: You’re very quiet for an interviewer.

L.J.: Well, it just pieced together so nicely.

Bru: Indeed.

L.J.: So…You usually write contemporary and urban fantasy. Were there any unexpected challenges to writing fantasy and romance?

Bru: It’s tricky because romance traditionally has very defined rules, and fantasy patently doesn’t. So blending the two can be difficult. Since this was just a short there wasn’t much world-building, but that is where I get hung up when writing fantasy. How do you pull the reader into your world without going overboard on the exposition? It’s a balancing act.

As the carriage slows, L.J. realizes they’re not in the forest anymore…

Bru: And surely the best way to understand the balance is to keep writing. Some writers are lucky and their first book hits the bestseller list, but most of us aren’t. The best way to make a living at this is to build up a backlist. There’s always room for growth, and the way to get there is to hone your craft. So keep writing, keep submitting, and keep editing. You’ll find your audience!

The carriage comes to a stop and Bru nudges L.J.

Bru: Now go away. I have M/M contemporary to write.


 

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Into the Mystic : K. Parr

Into the Mystic, Volume Three is a short story anthology featuring nine paranormal short stories that center on a lesbian/bisexual romance. I’m super excited about it, since I feel there is a lack of LGBT fantasy romance especially ones that focus on the ladies. Since I know a few of these authors, they let me interview them!


K. Parr

Home – A stray, an alpha, and a question: Where does she belong?

K.Parr  is a writer of multiple genres, including young adult, romance, fantasy, paranormal, and humor, all of which contain LGBTQA elements. In her spare time, K reads and writes fan fiction, keeps up with way too many TV shows, and dances wildly in her apartment. She currently works as a youth services librarian in Rhode Island.

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Favorite Authors:

  1. Tamora Pierce
  2. Tanith Lee
  3. Rainbow Rowell
  4. Laini Taylor
  5. Kristin Cashore

 

As L.J. Longo runs away from  L.J. Hamlin who has very scary teeth, she turns the corner and crashes into K. Parr, who’s paying more attention to her phone.

K. Parr: Oh hey, L.J. What’s up?

L.J.: Oh you know, running from a vampire chasing me. Nothing new. You?

As a taxi stops before the curb.

K. Parr: That was fast. Uh… I guess rescuing you.

L.J. scrambles into the taxi. K. Parr shrugs and gets in after, slamming the door just before the vampire leaps in.

L.J.: Great. Hey tell me about your Into the Mystic story while we go… where are we going?

K. Just heading to meet some friends for a monthly get together. I mean, I might not want to go. Maybe I’ll just lock myself up in the basement again.

L.J.: Say what?

K.: My story in Into the Mystic is called “Home.” It’s actually a combination of two short fan fics I wrote. I stole the plot and basic character elements to create this story! I was dying to write about werewolves, and I just LOVE when one character overworks themselves because they’re too proud to accept help. In romance, that allows for the other character to sweep them off their feet and convince them that they deserve help, and it’s okay to ask for it when needed.

L.J.: Aww, that sound so sweet.

K.: I really enjoy the sweet tenderness that happens between two girls in love. It can be very sensual, so alluring. I also believe there needs to be more published F/F romances out there, so I was happy to contribute my little story!

L.J.: So reclaimed fan fic, huh? Tell me about inspiration.

K. shows on phone.

K.: I have a pinterest! I based Joss the alpha on Gal Gadot, whom I adored in Wonder Woman. Oh man, her bedroom eyes.

K. fans herself.

K: Farah was inspired by the character Farah Black from the show Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency.

L.J.: Any challenges in adapting these two very not paranormal fantasy characters into your story?

K. seems to have gotten lost in the pinterest. Scratches her ear.

L.J.: K.? Challenges writing fantasy romance?

K.: Oh! I’ve written fantasy and romance several times before, so I didn’t encounter many challenges in terms of genre. What I did have to work at was tighter language and a plot/character arc that ended within the frame of a short story. I have more experience with longer novels, so short stories can be tough for me. I really have to limit my typical scope and make sure all the loose ends tie up neatly.

L.J.: I feel you. Short stories are such a weird thing to write if you’re used to novels, especially for an antho call.

K.: This was the first time I actually wrote to the prompt rather than trying to sell pre-written work. It’s risky, because if the anthology doesn’t accept the story you’ve written specifically for it, you may have trouble selling it elsewhere. It could also pay off, though, and make you stand apart from other writers. My advice is to browse open calls and see if any pique your interest, then go from there.

The taxi has taken us out into what looks like a tree-lined highway at twilight. The moon hangs over the trees sharing the sky with the setting sun. K. seems a bit nervous about the view.

L.J.: I think that piquing the interest is the big takeaway. You can’t force it.

K.: Oh yeah! You have to write what you love! This is especially important when you’re starting out, because it’s easy to be swayed by other people’s opinions about what you should and shouldn’t be writing. You need to follow your passion so that the spark will carry you through the whole process from start to finish.

K. Parr fidgets in the seat and looks out at the thicker forest.

K.: Hey would it be weird if I asked you to put me in handcuffs, L.J.?

L.J.: You know that’s not where I thought my night was going, but I’m down to–uh, are you feeling okay?

K.: Dang it! I never time this right!k parr

K. Parr opens the door to the taxi as coarse reddish hair starts to sprout under her suitably librarian attire. She rolls out of the moving car, leaving L.J. flabbergasted.

Soon a very red-headed wolf is loping off into the woods to meet her pack.

L.J.: Man I have the weirdest friends.

 

 


 

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Into the Mystic : L.J. Hamlin

Into the Mystic, Volume Three is a short story anthology featuring nine paranormal short stories that center on a lesbian/bisexual romance. I’m super excited about it, since I feel there is a lack of LGBT fantasy romance especially ones that focus on the ladies. Since I know a few of these authors, they let me interview them!


L.J.Hamlin

My Cup of O Positive – going to the ER isn’t always as bad as you expect.

L.J.Hamlin (who I swear is not me) is a queer disabled writer with a love of fantasy but will try any genre she gets an idea for. She is constantly weighed down by WIPs but always open to more ideas.

l.j. hamm teeth
Show Me Your Teeth!

 

Favorite Authors:

  1. Rachel Caine
  2. Brianna Kietinz
  3. Maggie Derrick
  4. Alex Harrow
  5. Nicole Field

 

 

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A misty night outside of a hospital. The light from the streetlamp is dingy as the two L.J.s come towards each other in the fog. L.J. Hamlin is elegant and mysterious. L.J. Longo trips over nothing.

Longo: So, Other L.J., I have a series of questions about…

Sounds of vampiric…shuffling in the wind. Longo gets a little nervous while Hamlin only smiles wider.

Hamlin: About my story.

Longo: Yeah… So uh, why F/F romance?

Is that a siren or a wolf howl? Hamlin leans casually on the brick of the hospital.

Hamlin: I’m drawn to f/f as a bisexual woman. It took me a while to come out but as soon as my sexuality was no longer a secret I wanted to share stories of women like me. In fact…

Hamlin seems not to notice the ominous sounds drawing nearer, though Longo begins to look around wild eyed at the darkness.

Hamlin: “My Cup of O Positive” was inspired by a condition I have known as ehlers danlos syndrome (EDS ) I had the thought of how vampirism would change the condition without erasing it. So the love interest is a British vampire living in America who has EDS and is into disability activism and loves her cat.

Longo: Wait we’re in America?

Hamlin: Yeah, the main character is an American human doctor, she’s very focused, loves working and helping people.

A McDonald’s appears across the street from the hospital, severely cutting down on the scary ambiance and setting Longo at ease.

Longo: What a great way to both raise awareness and incorporate something new and interesting into the vampire mythos in your world. What else do you do to make a good fantasy story?

Hamlin: For me, the challenge with writing fantasy romance  is getting the balance right between the romance and the world building.

Hamlin snaps her fingers and the fog swallows the comforting light of the McDonalds. Hamlin stalks closer.

Hamlin: No one wants big info dumps at key romantic moments so you have to explain the world at the right time.

Longo: Great advice…Do you have any other advice for new writers before I jet. It’s kinda chilly out here in front of the scary hospital with all the vampire…stuff in the air.

Hamlin smiles showing a definite sharpness of tooth.

Hamlin: Sure. My advice to new writers is to not read your reviews, even the best big names get horrible reviews so don’t let that bring you down. Say what’s your blood type.

Longo: Uh… O positive. Ironically enough.

Hamlin: Delicious.

Longo: Oh no…

hamm vamp 2


LJ

Find more L.J. Hamlin on her website: www.ljhamlin.com.