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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Soulshares book 1

I love writing romance – the stories I love to tell all seem to involve two people finding one another and (eventually) making one another happy – and I love writing m/m romance in particular because I feel much freer of the conventions of the romance genre. My stories are about relationships between two real, fully realized people, not a strong-but-tormented hero and a spunky-yet-vulnerable heroine.  But the Soulshares also stand on their own as urban fantasy as well as erotic romance. (They really are serious urban fantasy, though sometimes I have to explain that to people who have only seen the covers – maybe in my next contract I’ll be able to negotiate to supply my own covers!) I like to say that the Soulshares are m/m erotic romance for lovers of urban fantasy, and urban fantasy for lovers of m/m erotic romance. 

The Soulshares were born in October of 2011, when Alli Cassatta ran a competition on Facebook called the “Role-Player Olympics” – the challenge was to write a short story, 3,000 words or less, in which someone close to the main character had a secret, and the secret could cost the main character his or her life. I created Tiernan Guaire and Kevin Almstead, the central couple in Hard as Stone, for that contest; then, in November of 2011, I decided to take the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writers’ Month) challenge, to write 50,000 words in one month, and expand on the short story I’d written for the Olympics. I didn’t make the goal, but I had so much written by the end of the month that I decided to keep going, and the ultimate result was Hard as Stone. It’s the first of four books in my current contract with Ravenous Romance (the second, Gale Force, is in edits right now, I’m working on the third, Deep Waters, and I have to turn in the fourth, Firestorm, by October 1.)
The premise behind the Soulshares is that the Fae live in a magickal world, which they call the Realm, that was sealed off from the human world over two thousand years ago to rid it of a deadly enemy to the Fae race. There’s one portal that enables the Fae to pass through to the human world, called the Pattern, and when a Fae passes through it, his soul is torn in half. Half he keeps, and half goes out into the human world, to be reborn in a human. In order to be whole again, the Fae has to find, and love, the human who holds the other half of his soul. The catch? – Fae don’t love.
Hard as Stone is really the story of two "firsts". Kevin Almstead is the human lead; he’s a young lawyer whose entire romantic and sexual experience to date has been with women. But once he meets Tiernan Guaire, his Fae Soulshare, that changes very quickly. The excerpt below is part of his first meeting with Tiernan, as he experiences the instant sexual attraction that’s part of the Soulshare bond. But their encounter isn't only a first for Kevin. It’s the first time Kevin has experienced sex with another man, yes, but it’s the first time Tiernan has ever experienced love with anyone. And of the two, I think it's very safe to say that Tiernan has the harder time learning to cope.

Hard as Stone is available through Amazon, B&N and Ravenous Romance and I’m told there will be a print-on-demand edition available soon as well.

As for me, I’m on Facebook and I have a blog. I’m also on Twitter @RoryNi, though I have to admit I’m not much of a tweeter (technologically speaking, I’m the despair of my 16-year-old son). 

            Finally, an excerpt from Hard as Stone. Enjoy!

           “Enjoying the show?”
            The voice was right next to his ear, low and rich and carrying just a hint of laughter. Kevin straightened, his drink sloshing over his hand; he took a deep breath, and turned.
            And stared. Into the bluest eyes he had ever seen. Long blond hair framed a chiseled face, a strong nose, full sensual lips. Odd, he’d never thought of a man’s mouth as being particularly sensual before, but this one could be nothing but. And even more so when smiling, as it was now.
            “The show? Remember?” The man chuckled, a wicked sound barely audible over the music from the dance floor. Somehow, the fact that he had to strain to hear it made it even more wicked. Decadent. “The boy was holding your attention well enough a moment ago. Have you become distracted?”
            The blond had an accent, one Kevin struggled to place. Scots? Irish? Not that he could tell the difference between the two, but trying to puzzle it out gave him an excuse for closing his eyes, turning away. Distracted? Hell, yes.
            “I’m sorry.” The laughter that lingered in that voice told him that the speaker was anything but sorry, that he was enjoying Kevin’s reaction. He’d bet anything that when he opened his eyes again, that devastating blue gaze would be locked on his. Anything. Fuck, I hate being right sometimes.
            “You’re incredibly sexy when you blush.” The blond didn’t sport nearly as much metal as most of the patrons of Purgatory, just three gold rings in one ear and one in his eyebrow. And damned if he didn’t want to run his tongue over that one, just to see what it would feel like.
            Wait… he wanted to what? “You might want to find a different come-on. It’s too dark in here for you to see a blush.” Kevin’s throat was tight, his heart was hammering loud enough that this guy could probably hear it.
            “You’d be surprised how perceptive I am.” Suddenly, there was a hand resting on top of Kevin’s on the bar, the hellish light playing over it. And two fingers, sliding under the lapel of his jacket, lifting it slightly. “Armani, isn’t it?” When Kevin didn’t answer, he leaned closer, nostrils flaring. “The scent, too. Acqua di Gio.”
            Fingertips stroked the back of his hand, gently, possessively, and Kevin fought to suppress a shiver. Not hard enough, though, because there was that smile again. A lazy, sensual smile that absolutely should not be on the lips of anyone he hadn’t spent at least twenty-four hours having mind-blowing sex with. Which short list did not include anyone of this seductive blond’s gender.
            As if he’d heard Kevin’s thought, the blond arched that ringed eyebrow; the grip on his hand tightened, a thumb slid around to stroke his palm. “You don’t even know why you’re here, do you?”
            “And I suppose you do?” His voice came out gruff, harsh; the air thrummed around the two of them, tingling with a kind of dark electricity.
            The blond chuckled, that sound like warm honey. “You’re buttoned down tight, lanan. And you came in here because…”
            “Secretly, you want someone…”
            Damn, damn, DAMN
            “Someone like me…
            Long thick blond hair. Black leather jacket, gleaming with a sheen like melted butter in the flickering light from the bar. White muscle shirt. Jeans first painted on and then sliced half off. God damn.
            “…to unbutton you.”
            Get up. Walk away. The voice in his head was calm, level, reasonable. This isn’t for you. He isn’t for you.
            Yeah, the voice was reasonable. And it was the voice of the miserable bastard who’d never dared to want anything for himself in his life.
            “I don’t even know your name.” The hoarse whisper was a surrender, and they both knew it.
            The blond leaned in and kissed him gently. “Tiernan Guaire. And you don’t have to tell me yours if you don’t want to. Although I’ll own, I’d like to be able to scream it as I come.”
            Kevin’s eyes closed, almost in pain. Almost. “Kevin. Kevin Almstead.” Esquire, he nearly added, like an idiot.
            Another kiss brought his eyes open, to meet that haunting blue gaze, alive with the promise of pleasure. “Kevin.” Tiernan’s teeth caught gently at his lower lip, tugged. “Did you drive, lanan? Because I didn’t. And I’m impatient.” A low throaty laugh seemed to hang in the air between them.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The first Brooklyn Sinner

January’s theme is First Times and I brought along one of my books that I think fit the bill to a “tee”. Love the Sinner (with Ellora’s Cave) was a labor of love for me, a baby I never thought would see the light of day. I’m a big fan of conflict, of flipping convention on its ear, but I also like watching people, men especially, discover who and what they are when pushed. I wrote the story after hearing Rihanna’s Man Down. She sings about shooting someone and I had that scene playing out in my head with the questions, Who? What? Where and Why? I had to write Love the Sinner in order to have those questions answered.

As the first in my Brooklyn Sinners series (five books planned), Love the Sinner introduces readers to a disjointed band of brothers, none quite sane and none anywhere near law-abiding. Still, they live like the borough…hard, and love quite the same. I have to say, there’s a whole heap of firsts in Love the Sinner. Both heroes go through an array of firsts, but I’m going to focus on Gabe Ashby. Gabe’s an NYPD detective, in a long term relationship with a woman and investigating the death of the sister of Brooklyn’s most notorious gang leaders.

All’s good in Gabe’s world.

Until he sits across an interrogation room table with said notorious gang leader, Angelo Pagan.

It’s the first time Gabe meets Angelo. It’s the first time he finds himself fascinating by, and attracted to, another man. It’s also the very first time Gabe realizes things aren’t as black and white as his job would have him believe. Gabe has many first experiences in Love the Sinner which includes one of my favorite scenes, the first kiss. I’ve included a taste of it below. Hope it makes you tingle; it damn sure made me tingle.

A notorious gang leader and an NYPD cop. An unlikely couple, but is it true what they say? Could Gabe hate the sin but love the sinner?

Detective Gabriel Ashby has never looked twice at another man, yet the criminal across from him, the man he’s interrogating, isn’t like any other. Gabe can’t deal with the sudden, intense need he has for one of NYPD’s Most Wanted. Everyone close to Angelo Pagan ends up dead, with the smug gang leader standing amid the rubble. Gabe would love nothing more than to bust Angelo’s ass and lock him up. So why is he seeing the bastard in his dreams at night?

Angelo Pagan knows attraction to Gabe is suicide. He’s resolute to ignore the chemistry…until a police raid goes wrong. He critically injures Gabe, changing the trajectory of both their lives. Now the two can’t get close enough. They settle into a forbidden affair threatened by lies and betrayal, living on different sides of the law with no way of breaching the gap between them. With the authorities looking to make an example of Angelo, Gabe has to decide if it’s really worth it to hate the sin but love the sinner.


“You don’t want this, right? So let me go, cop.” Pagan’s gaze flicked down to where Gabe held him. “Let me go.”

Gabe swallowed. “I can’t.” He tightened his hold on the thick wrist. “I can’t.” The thought of watching Pagan walk away, of never seeing him again, punctured something in his chest. But what would be the result of him staying? Could he be with a man, this man?

“QuĂ© quieres, Gabe? What do you want?”

His name on Pagan’s lips sounded so good. So right. Gabe looked at him, trying but failing to find words.

“Damn it, Gabe.” Pagan wrenched out of his hold and grabbed his shoulders. “Tell me what you want.”

“To kiss you.” The words tumbled from his lips, harsher than he intended. “Just once. To know what it’s like. What you taste like.”

Pagan’s eyes darkened.

“Maybe then I’ll be able to forget you.”

Pagan arched an eyebrow and stepped forward. “You think it’s that simple?”

Gabe held his ground. “Yeah.”

“So do it.” They stood chest to chest. Pagan’s warm breath caressed Gabe’s forehead when he said softly, “Kiss me, cop. Then try to forget me.”

Gabe grabbed him by the neck, yanking him down. Their lips clashed, hard and hot. He thrust his tongue inside when Pagan opened. There was no describing the unique taste of man and need as Pagan growled into his mouth. Nothing feminine about the tongue parrying with his or the fingers gripping his ass.
Nothing repulsive either. Just right and…Angelo.

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Friday, January 11, 2013

One night could lead to many!

Hi, everyone I’m Pender Mackie, an author of contemporary gay romance. I’m excited to be here promoting my short story, Wishful Thinking.

January is the first month of the year and appropriately, Guys Like Romance, Too! chose “firsts” for January’s theme: first date, first kiss, first lover, first “I love you” first…anything.    

I have a friend who’s been in a stable relationship for years. Sometimes he’s a bit of a pessimist. One day, while we were out for a walk, he complained that being in a long-term relationship meant he’d never get to have another first.

I stood there with my mouth open as he tried to explain. After I got over the urge to smack him, I understood what he meant. He’d never get to experience the anticipation of that first kiss with a new lover.  
It’s true, some firsts can only be once—I’m not trying to paraphrase Highlander, here—but there is only one first kiss ever, even if it wasn’t so great. Maybe you don’t remember that kiss. Or maybe you remember it only because the guy slobbered all over your chin.

But here’s something to think about.  Even with firsts, sometimes we get a mulligan, a do-over.

If you’re not with someone right now, then you still have that first kiss with a new lover to look forward to—the racing pulse, the quick intake of breath, the almost physical jolt as lips touch for the first time. As long as you’re single, the possibility is there. Even if that kiss seems like it might be a while in coming.

If you’re in a relationship then you get the first kiss of the day. Pressing your lips to sleep-warmed skin, or against a damp, soap-scented nape as your partner dries off from the shower. You can have that everyday.

First kiss ever, first kiss with a new lover, first kiss of the day: they’re all something to look forward to. (I’ll climb off my soapbox now.)

When I wrote Wishful Thinking I tried to capture that “first” feeling. I’m happy with the way it turned out. It’s one of my favorites. Here’s the blurb and excerpt.

Quiet, reserved Derrick has never had a date. That doesn’t stop him from wishing and dreaming, especially when he’s working a boring shift at the coffee shop. On a cold, rainy evening, the shop is deserted, and Derrick daydreams about his fantasy boyfriend, Rory, a fellow university student. Derrick doesn’t know much about Rory. They’re not in the same classes. They’ve never even talked.

When Rory is his last customer of the night, Derrick comes face to face with the man of his dreams. The real Rory is even better than the fantasy and he wants more than coffee… he wants Derrick. By the end of his shift, Derrick will find out if all his fantasies can come true.


I looked up automatically when a figure walked past the front window of the coffee shop. The person kept going—head down, huddled under an umbrella—thank God.
I didn't want any more customers this near to closing time. My current customers looked as if they were finally getting ready to leave.

They were a young couple that had probably just started dating. They'd spent their entire time in the shop sitting quietly, holding hands, and staring dreamily into each other's eyes. They were so wrapped up in each other, I could have tap-danced on the counter and they wouldn't have noticed.

Not that I'd be likely to dance on the counter. I'm too introverted to draw that kind of attention to myself.

I'd be relieved when they left and not just because it was almost time to close. That level of mutual adoration is hard to take when you're single. Especially when you're pretty sure you're going to remain single, at least for the foreseeable future.

I pretended not to watch as the girl reached up and gently touched her boyfriend's face. He turned his head and kissed her palm. I envied them. I wanted that kind of intimacy with someone special.

I hadn't actually ever been on a date. The closest I'd been to dating was sneaking into the dugout at the neighborhood baseball diamond with Jaden Agostini a few times, back when we were both fifteen. I didn't think a couple of fumbling kisses and a quick mutual grope session met the official definition of a date. Even if it did, that had been over four years ago.

Four years without a date is a pretty sad state of affairs for anyone, but I'm kind of shy until I get to know someone. If I didn't feel so awkward around new people, it would be easier to meet a guy, talk to him, get to know him, maybe work up the nerve to ask him out.

I had a particular person in mind, but that was wishful thinking. It would never happen. Even if I had the confidence to talk to him, to dazzle him with my knowledge of obscure sci-fi trivia or my unusual sense of humor, he was far too friendly and outgoing to be interested in someone quiet like me.

The shop's door opened. A current of cold, wet air and a few aggressive raindrops escorted a last-minute customer across the threshold. The heavy rain had kept most people home tonight. I hadn't had any customers other than the lovebirds and now this guy, dripping his way across the floor.

Damn. Now that he was here, even if the couple left, I wouldn’t be able to close up a few minutes early. I'd be stuck here right up to the last minute. That would suck because I'd miss the ten o'clock bus and have to wait a half hour for the next one.

I didn't normally try to cut out early, but I had a paper due before the weekend and I was scheduled to work almost every night this week. I'm not supposed to be doing homework when I'm working, even if the place is completely devoid of customers, but if I'd ignored the rules and brought my computer, I could have at least proofed the completed part of my paper. I'd left my laptop at the dorm though, so instead of being productive, I'd spent almost my entire shift hoping for diehard coffee addicts to keep me busy, and daydreaming about my fantasy boyfriend.

Of course, now, when it was least convenient, I finally had the customers I'd wished for.

I leaned on the counter and watched resignedly as my latest patron took his time getting settled at the table in the corner—the big one with the L-shaped bench and all the cushions. Even though he was short and slim and wearing a hooded raincoat, which hid his face, I knew it was a 'he' and not a 'her' by the clothes and the build. He had a backpack too, so it didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out he was a student.

Double damn. The coffee shop was close to the university. I'd served lots of students. They always ordered something inexpensive and then sat for hours pretending to study or reading the out-of-date magazines. Now I'd never catch the ten o'clock bus.

He took off the backpack and casually slung it onto a chair on the far side of the table, across from the bench. He peeled himself out of his sopping-wet jacket and hung it over the back of the chair. Then he straightened and shook his hair out as if he were a wet dog.

As I stared at my customer my heart stopped, then started up again. It raced along as if I'd just guzzled a triple espresso.

I knew him. Well, technically I didn't know him, but I knew who he was. I'd seen him around. Seen him on the university's campus, hanging out, talking and laughing with his friends in the cafeteria or walking to class.

He was my fantasy boyfriend.

Available on Amazon

Thanks for reading and thanks, Carson for letting me do a little shameless promoting. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Experience some firsts in the future!

There’s a first time for everything, and my novel Written In The Stars is full of firsts. For starters, it’s my first published novel. Beyond that, there are many firsts in the book as well. Sam is young, but has started to grow up very fast since his parents disowned him for his homosexuality. He’s starting to see the world and the war it’s embroiled in for the very first time. Signing up for the Alliance military to preserve gay rights and fight back against the religious fundamentalist Moral League, he takes his first stand in fighting for what he believes. Aboard the Alliance flagship Northampton, he meets crew officer Major Tom and falls in love for the first time. What starts out as a crush becomes the love of his life as his experiences on the front line of a vicious space war strip away the last of his boyhood and transform him into a man who’s ready to put his life on the line for the man he loves and the future he believes in.

First love is a powerful thing, and that’s something I really wanted to capture the essence of when I wrote Written In The Stars. Sam is young, he’s a virgin, he’s never seen the world outside of his home town before his family kicked him out. But first love doesn’t have to be a fleeting thing, either. First love can become a lifelong partnership, as long as the couple can grow together. Sam and Tom have a lot of danger to face and they know they may not live to see forever... but that doesn’t stop them from trying to build something permanent and lasting while the world around them crumbles.

When I wrote Written In The Stars I was reading a lot of news articles about gay marriage and the divisions it was causing here in the United States. I wondered what might happen if in the future, red states and blue states not only held differing views on gay rights and other issues, but took those views to a point where they led to war. That idea became the basis for the Culture Wars series. The second book in the series, Written In The Snow, is due out later this year, and my short stories New World Rising, Weeping Willow and Last Chance are all set at differing times in the same universe.

You can find out more about Written In The Stars and Victoria Zagar’s other releases by visiting her official website at

Here’s an excerpt from Written In The Stars, available now at All Romance, Amazon and Smashwords for $3.99:


The year is 2243. Mankind has reached for the stars, creating colonies on Titan and the cold, distant Nereid. Where man goes, war follows, and now two factions warring on Earth have taken their cultural and religious war into space in hopes of dominating Earth’s global government, the Assembly.

On one side stands the Moral League, a loose grouping of religious nations and moral conservatives whose aim is to destroy the Freedom Alliance, a group of progressive nations who they claim are leading the human race towards destruction. Rejected by his family for his homosexuality, Samuel Walden finds himself joining the Alliance’s Space Force. Posted to the fleet’s flagship, the Northampton, Sam meets the ship’s crew officer, Major Tom Averay, and the two embark on a relationship that will change their lives. Love, war, humanity, friendship, sacrifice and death weave through this action-packed romantic novel. Will Sam and Tom work out their feelings in the midst of darkness and uncertainty? Will the Alliance survive against crushing odds to preserve the human rights it stands for?

Sam wrapped his arm around Tom and pulled him close. “I love you so much,” Sam whispered, afraid to break the spell of their lovemaking. Tom could see tears in his eyes and smiled, kissing Sam.

“I love you too,” Tom whispered.

Sam sat up and rolled off the bed, walking over to the giant window and looking out at the sea of stars. Tom followed, putting his hands on Sam’s shoulders as they both stood there naked.

Sam put his hand on the glass. “I feel like I could move the world,” he said, his voice laced with emotion. “Like I have the power of a god.”

Tom leaned in and kissed his neck. “If you did, what would you do with it?”

Sam paused momentarily. “I would wipe the Moral League from the face of the Earth,” he said. “I’d end this war and go back to San Francisco with you, where we could watch the new world begin together. We’d see the sights and drink in the splendor of a free world.”

Tom smiled sadly. “I wish you did have such power,” he said. “Sadly, it’s just afterglow. We’re just humans, and the only power we have to win this war comes with putting our lives on the line.”

“I know,” Sam said. “But everything seems so beautiful right now, so... so perfect. I just want to stay with you in this moment forever.”

“You’d get bored,” Tom said, smiling as he held Sam in his arms, listening to his heartbeat slowing as they looked out at the infinite universe.

“With you at my side? Never.” Sam said. “I’m tired of fighting, of losing people. If we could shut out the war and just stay here together...”

“The war needs us,” Tom said. “The world won’t free itself. The Moral League gains ground day by day.”

“I know,” Sam said. “But it’s so nice to stand here and feel at peace. To be one with the stars, the universe and you.” He turned to Tom, who leaned in and kissed him.

“I won’t let them transfer you,” Tom said. “I’ll fight the Admiral. I’ll take him to a military hearing. I won’t let them take you away from me.”

“Thanks,” Sam said, and for the first time he believed that nothing would ever separate them.