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I’ve always felt very privileged to host authors on my site, especially when it gives me a chance to meet new people. Sarah Ash has just had her first historical novel published with Manifold Press, though she is no stranger to the book world having many very enticing fantasy series listed on her website, and I hope we will soon see more from her.

Thank you Sarah, for answering my questions so kindly.

1/Have you been writing for long? Do you still remember your first story?

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I started off with little poems and plays that I persuaded my (long-suffering) school friends to act in but I finished my first novel when I was thirteen, a fantasy called The Miglas set in and around Wookey Hole (heavily influenced by Alan Garner). After that I just carried on but – although I was invited to talk to an editor and was very nearly published as a teenager – it didn’t happen and I went off to train as a musician instead.

2/Was there anything in particular that triggered the idea for Scent of Lilies? Have you ever been to Istanbul?

Scent of Lilies grew from my first ever published short story Ninufar’s Kiss which was all about Tekla. I’d been listening to Bulgarian folk songs (the amazing voices of Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares which still gives me goosebumps) and the characters just turned up (as they do). I’ve never been to Istanbul (Crete is the closest I’ve come) but a visit some years ago to the Chapelle des Moines in Burgundy with its wonderful 11th-12th century Byzantine frescoes by an unknown team of artists inspired me to do research as to how the artists worked. The main protagonist of my fantasy trilogy The Tears of Artamon, Gavril, is a portraitist (his mother Elysia is also a painter) so I seem to be fascinated by artists and the magic they wield.

3/What is your favourite genre to write/read? Is there one you would love to have a bash at/one that you’d avoid like rattlesnakes?

I like to read and write genre mash-ups. So although fantasy is my main genre as a writer, I’m thrilled to have a story coming out in The Alchemy Book of Horror #2 later this year.

4/What are you working on now?

I’m currently doing edits on The Arkhel Conundrum, Book 4 of The Tears of Artamon. It’s been a while since I returned to these characters but readers kept asking me ‘What happened to Gavril and Kiukiu?’ so I hope they won’t be disappointed with the new developments!

5/ Can we please have an excerpt?

With pleasure… here’s an extract from Scent of Lilies

book cover showing water liliesIt was late afternoon and the sun was already dipping westwards, flooding the isthmus with a dazzle of golden light. Damian turned to gaze upwards at Saint Thekla: a large tiled dome, the intricate masonry beneath sun-gilded from grey to rich ochre.

He took in a deep breath. This was the moment. His career depended on it. He reached for the iron handle on the great wooden door, turned it, pushed, heard the slow creak of the hinges go echoing into the high-vaulted recesses beyond, and went in.

Acrid smell of new lime plaster, white dust like fine sand coating the new floor tiles and somewhere further in, the hollow tap and drag of a builder’s trowel smoothing mortar against brick.

He stood a while, blinking, until his eyes became accustomed to the shadows, the flagstones chill beneath his feet.

A faint, dusty light was filtering into the church from many-paned windows high above the nave. Tentatively, he moved toward it. Tall columns of somber marble loomed out of the darkness. He put out a hand and touched their smooth chill, shivering as he did so.

His footfall echoed and re-echoed around the silent church. Perhaps Alastor had finished work for the day. It would be hard to work in this gloom for too long without risking eyestrain.

And suddenly he found himself beneath the central dome with shafts of light swimming with golden motes glinting in from a circle of high-arched windows set high above, catching flame in his dark hair. Beyond in the dimness he could just make out the planks and ladders of a ramshackle construction of half-completed scaffolding.

“Cosmas?”

The choked whisper came from high above, echoing round and round the dome. Startled, Damian peered uncertainly up into the shadows, the dusty light falling full on his face.

“M-M-M-Maestros Alastor?”

“Who the devil are you and what do you want?”

 

Author bio

Sarah Ash trained as a musician but writing fantasy novels has allowed her to explore her fascination with the way mythology and history overlap and interact (her second published novel Songspinners is set in an ‘alternate’ eighteenth century Bath, her home city).The five novels in the epic fantasy Artamon sequence (Random House) are also set in an alternate eighteenth century world – with daemons and dragons. The recent Tide Dragons series grew from Sarah’s love of all things Japanese (especially manga and anime which she regularly reviews). It draws on the ancient legend of the Tide Jewels and the lifestyle of the Heian imperial court. Book 1 The Flood Dragon’s Sacrifice is available in ebook and paperback formats; Book 2 Emperor of the Fireflies is now available in ebook format!  http://www.sarah-ash.com   @sarah_ash7

 

 

Title and cover: The Nature of the Game

 Series: Stick Side #2

 Publisher: self-published

 Release Date (Print & Ebook): May 7, 2019

 Length (Print & Ebook): 87,000 words / 330 pages

 Subgenre: m/m contemporary romance

 Tropes: second chances

 Warnings: N/A

 All buy links or pre-order links:

Amazon: https://geni.us/NatureoftheGame

iBooks: https://geni.us/NatureoftheGameApple

B&N: http://bit.ly/NatureGameBN

Kobo: http://bit.ly/NatureGameKobo

 

Book synopsis: Six years ago, an ultimatum forced Dan Greyson to make a choice that cost him everything he loved most. One of those things? His boyfriend, hockey player Ashton Yager. Now that they’ve crossed paths again, Dan isn’t about to let the opportunity slip away. Ash’s reappearance in his life is just the catalyst Dan needs to escape the rut he’s fallen into…and win back Ash’s trust and love.

Ashton Yager, once burned and now a little bit shy, didn’t mean to publicly come out as bisexual. But now that he has, he’s got to deal with the consequences, including the fact that it might’ve cost him his NHL contract. With his job on the line, he needs to keep his head down, work hard, and play the best hockey of his life. Rekindling things with Dan? That’s not exactly keeping a low profile. It’s also never going to happen, not after Dan walked away once without an explanation.

When a hurricane forces Ash to seek shelter out-of-state, he and Dan find themselves in the same B&B, where old feelings resurface. But with everything Ash has on the line, does he dare play with fire again?

The Nature of the Game is a second chance romance between an NHL player who’s recently publicly come out as bisexual and a suncatcher maker stuck in a job he’s indifferent about. It features making amends, reconnecting over a late-night baking session, and proving that second chances are sometimes worth the risk.

 

Excerpt:

Running a hand over his face, Dan glanced over to the hallway Ash had disappeared down, and then kept staring, waiting for Ash to reappear again like some smitten teenager who couldn’t control his hormones.

He was so very cool.

Tearing his eyes away, he scanned the restaurant, his gaze snagging on a woman sitting with a group of friends. In her early twenties, she had brown hair to her shoulders and purple glasses were perched on her nose. She sunk into her chair with a grimace when Dan caught her ogling him, her lips twitching up in embarrassment. Dan smiled back at her despite the across-the-room flirting doing nothing for him. All he could think about was Ash. Ash’s arms streaked with dust; Ash’s muscles straining as they moved furniture around; Ash’s laughter when Dan nearly swallowed a dust bunny; Ash’s mad scramble to the other side of the apartment when Dan came down the stepladder with the spider colony; Ash’s expression when he talked about hockey; the emotion in Ash’s eyes when Dan had shown up earlier.

It was Ash. It had always been Ash.

Dan’s smile grew when the man himself reappeared next to him.

“Who are you smiling at?” Ash stood next to the booth, hands on his hips. His scowl would scare small children away.

“Um, you?”

Assuming they were leaving, Dan stood . . . and ran into a wall of muscle when Ash didn’t budge. Ash was warm and big and strong, and Dan forgot all his words. He swallowed hard and told himself the shiver was from the air conditioning.

Ash looked over his shoulder, scowled some more, and growled, “We’re leaving.”

They left. The walk back to Ash’s apartment was silent but for Ash’s stiff shoulders proclaiming his unhappiness with Dan, dinner, or the world at large. Who knew.

“Are you okay?”

“Just…” Ash gestured wildly, arms flying. “I’m trying to sort some stuff out. In my head.”

“O…kay.” Whatever that meant.

Reaching Ash’s apartment, Ash slammed the door behind them and whirled on Dan, hands on his hips. “Do you want to date women?”

“Like, right this second?” I only want to date you. “Not particularly.”

“What about the woman from The Tavern?”

“Who?”

“You know.” Ash’s gestured. “The one you were smiling at.”

“Why are you being weird?”

“I’m being weird.” Ash huffed and paced away. “You were the one eye-flirting while I took a two-minute bio break.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“No idea what I’m…” He trailed off, jaw ticking, his eyes fire and fury. Pacing back to Dan, he clamped a hand behind Dan’s head, pulled him forward, and kissed him.

Ash kissed him.

Ash kissed him.

Ash kissed him.

Dan stood shocked and immobile.

“Gonna kiss me back?” Ash murmured against Dan’s lips, walking him backward until his back hit the wall next to the door. “Or just stand there like a corpse?”

 

Author Information:

Amy started writing on a rainy day in fourth grade when her class was forced to stay inside for recess. Tales of adventures with her classmates quickly morphed into tales of adventures with the characters in her head. Based in the suburbs of Toronto, Amy is a marketer/fundraiser at a large environmental non-profit in Toronto by day, and a writer by night. Book enthusiast, animal lover and (very) amateur photographer, her interests are many and varied, including travelling, astronomy, ecology, and baking. She binge watches too much anime, and loves musical theater, Julie Andrews, the Backstreet Boys, and her hometown of Oakville, Ontario.

 

Website: https://amyaislin.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/amyaislin/

Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/amyaislin

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/amy-aislin

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Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16693566.Amy_Aislin

Amazon: http://amazon.com/author/amyaislin

QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/amy-aislin/

I’m delighted to be hosting RJ and VL today as a celebration of their ice hockey series about the Railers team. It’s always sad when a series ends, but it’s something to celebrate too as the authors go on to explore the lives of new characters. So let’s hear how the Railers stories came to be and wish all the beloved characters well.

hockey team logo, locomotive and Harrisburg Hockey Railers

Building the Railers

Building any kind of team for a writing project, be it hockey players or a SEAL team, or a group of friends, can be approached in so many ways. Believe me when I say Vicki and I have learned a lot about building a team in our hockey writing, mostly by trial and error, and always with a lot of fun.

For example when we created the Railers, we didn’t really have a sense of who the team were. We knew that the Railers were a fairly new expansion team, and we knew what our storyline was for book 1. Other than that the team itself was a blank slate.  As new to each other co-authors we were literally flying by the seat of our pants for Changing Lines (Railers 1) and the May/December, best friends little brother, story, just fell out of us in only three weeks.

We had our star, we had a coach, we even had a Russian goalie who didn’t speak very good English. What we didn’t have was the rest of the team, and for the Railers series, that happened very organically after book 1. We kept a google doc that we could both access with names, relationships, positions, age, and most importantly country of birth.

A hockey team is made up of guys from all different countries. From the big contributors like Canada and the USA, there are also swedes, Finnish, Russian, Norwegian… the list goes on. As the team grew, so did the spreadsheet of information, and the spread of countries we represented in our writing. Then not only did we need our players, but we required a person in marketing, another to control social media, even the name of the security guard that became a focal point in a couple of the books. Not to mention we had to name an arena!

For the spin-off, Owatonna U (NA series), we created a team of character names to start with. Sitting in Vicki’s house in Pennsylvania we came up with characters and the positions they played first. We already had Ryker, he is the son of Jared Madsen in book 1 of the Railers, but the rest were all new to us. As we wrote names down we got over excited with small character sketches – “his dad drives the bus!”, “He’s lost his brother”, “He gets to be in the NHL draft!” and just by sitting together and coming up with names we also came up with the stories we wanted to tell.

Slowly but surely our teams have become more, and with the release of the final Railers novella we not only have teams, but we created family.

The seven bookcovers of the Railers series, plus information that it will be available on Kindle Unlimited for 90 days.

Changing Lines (Harrisburg Railers #1) – Jared & Tennant

Can Tennant show Jared that age is just a number, and that love is all that matters?

First Season (Harrisburg Railers #2) – Layton & Adler

Layton wants success, Adler wants family, how can love made both these things possible?

Deep Edge (Harrisburg Railers #3) – Trend & Dieter

One man’s passion, another man’s lies. Can love fix even the darkest of hearts?

Poke Check (Harrisburg Railers #4) – Stan & Erik

One scorching summer in each other’s arms could never be enough.

Last Defense (Harrisburg Railers #5) – Max & Ben

A hockey player with a medical secret, meets the owner of a no kill shelter. Two men afraid to feel have to make choices that could end up breaking down their defenses and leading them back to love.

Goal Line (Harrisburg Railers #6) – Gatlin & Bryan

Fear and sadness mark Bryan’s life, can Gatlin show him that you have to trust before you can love?

 

There’s a giveaway too, which you can enter by clicking the Rafflecopter Link 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I imagine everyone in the genre knows by now, April is Autism awareness month, and therefore time again for R J Scott’s amazing Blog Hop event. Click on the image to the left to go to her masterpost.

We start with a fact:

34% of children on the autism spectrum say that the worst thing about being at school is being picked on.

Children can be very unforgiving of other children who don’t conform to the world view that they are just beginning to formulate for themselves with the help of parents siblings and relatives. The trick is to catch that early one and stop it before it can turn into picking on, or even bullying. And for that adults need to be educated as well. We’re never too old to learn.

The subject we have been given for our posts is “Childhood Toys”.

Obviously my mind went straight to history – in fact prehistory – and I wondered what is the oldest child’s toy to be found.

This is quite hard to establish. Children’s toys need to be small, portable and, usually, organic – soft and cuddly with no sharp edges. Sadly organic things tend not to survive for very long so we are left with more robust materials, ie harder to work, more valuable, more highly prized. Such valuable items in metal, stone or wood have usually been attributed either to use or ritual.  If one digs up a human figurine painstakingly carved from stone or bone can one say for certain that it’s a votive offering to the gods – or a dolly?

Tiny depictions of kitchenware found in tombs – an expression of what one will need in the afterlife or dolls tea party?

Sometimes we’re lucky and not only find objects, but also find illustrative material. It seems that grooved clay discs that were initially assumed to be parts of a loom are actually yoyos.

Wheeled objects are very popular – chariots of course, and Scythian children appear to have played with little facsimiles of the wagons they lived in.

But you can put wheels on anything – horses, lions, even hedgehogs!

 

This stone hedgehog was made in Iran some 3000 years ago. But older toys have been found including the item below. This bone disc has a hole in the middle and on each side is an incised image of an antelope. It is 30,000 years old.

This may have been a thaumatrope – the toy made by spinning two images on a string so they appear to be one.

In the image on the reverse the antelopes legs are drawn up. Twist the string and it appears to twitch its ears and jump.

Was this a toy to amuse a child, or a religious ritual? We don’t know for sure but I can’t see any reason why it can’t have been both.

Time for a giveaway – I will pick a commenter to win a novel from my books page. 

If you would like to donate to a charity that does sterling work in providing for the needs of autistic young people, I don’t think that you could do any better than RJ’s charity of choice – Lindengate.

Lindengate is a Buckinghamshire-based registered charity that offers specialised gardening activities to help those with mental health needs in their continuing recovery
Operating from a 5-acre site adjacent to the Wyevale Garden Centre in Wendover Lindengate offers a wide range of gardening/horticulture activities so that users can spend time in a managed and calm and safe environment, either singly or in small groups, working towards recovery.

You can donate here.

I think we all have favourite books that stay with us for a long time. This is one of my top reads, and also one that made it a little hard for me to sleep at night because ooh boy some bits are viscerally upsetting. But there’s a happy ending too, and that’s important.

fingerprints

The Definitive Albert J. Sterne
by Julie Bozza

Tag line: An obnoxiously immovable object is partnered with an undeniably irresistible force – in pursuit of a cruelly imperturbable serial killer.

Review snippet: “a terrific novel, ambitious in both its scope and complexity”, LadyM for Reviews by Jessewave

Introduction: This well-respected novel was Runner Up (equal third) in the Best LGBT Mystery/Thriller category of the Rainbow Awards 2011. It is now being re-released, after first being published in two volumes by Manifold Press. The original novel and companion anthology have been stitched back together into one long tale.

Blurb: Albert Sterne, forensics expert with the FBI, is so obnoxious on the surface that no one bothers digging deeper. When he’s sent to Colorado to investigate the work of a serial killer, he encounters Special Agent Fletcher Ash and they end up reluctantly joining forces to unravel the case. It’s only a matter of duty, though; it can’t be more, because Albert doesn’t do friendship – and he certainly doesn’t do love!

Genre: gay fiction; contemporary; love story; serial killer thriller; not a romance!
Word count: 226,000 words
Publisher: LIBRAtiger
Release date: 16 April 2019
Formats: eBook, paperback

Buy links:
• Universal Buy Link: https://books2read.com/b/bpjyBJ
• Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B07QGM44WN/
• Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07QGM44WN/
• Amazon AU: http://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B07QGM44WN/
• Amazon DE: http://www.amazon.de/dp/B07QGM44WN/
• Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/932637
• Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1116840309?ean=2940156040803
• Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-definitive-albert-j-sterne-1
• Google Play: http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN9781925869125
• iTunes US: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-definitive-albert-j-sterne/id1459015054?mt=11

<<0>>

Author bio:

Julie Bozza is an Aussie-English hybrid empowered by writing, fuelled by espresso, calmed by knitting, overexcited by photography, and madly in love with Amy Adams and John Keats.

book cover showing water liliesI haven’t actually had time to read this one yet, but I have a copy and am looking forward to it enormously.

Constantinople, Byzantium or Istanbul, is one of the places I would love to visit but probably never will, so I’ve made a habit of seeking out stories set there – from Russia with Love and Pawn in Frankincense for instance. I’m very excited to add this one to the bookshelf.

Title: Scent of Lillies

Author: Sarah Ash

Publisher: Manifold Press.

Genre: M/M historical set in Byzantine Constantinople

Rating: Sweet.

Gabriel wants to be an artist. His father wants grandsons. His teacher wants refuge. And the ghost of a young woman who drowned for love of one of his ancestors wants revenge. When events spiral out of control Gabriel heads to Constantinople, but his past is not far behind.

Damien isn’t sure what he wants. He doesn’t want his father’s business, whatever his stepbrother thinks. He doesn’t want his betrothed even though she may still want him. But he does want beauty, and he may find that in the yet to be consecrated church of Saint Thekla, a personal project of the Emperors.  But is it in the painting he will find beauty, or the painter?

Author:

 Sarah Ash read music at New Hall, Cambridge for four years, studying with Robin Holloway and John Rutter for her finals. Her interests in music and drama led her into teaching where she has been lucky to work with many dynamic and talented young people.

 

Extract:

“Full moon.” Old Marta clicked her tongue disapprovingly and closed the shutters with a bang, crossing herself as she did so.

“Why shut out the moonlight? It’s so beautiful.” Gabriel had been dozing but his nurse’s voice brought him back from the edge of sleep.

“Has your mother never told you? But then she’s not from these parts, she knows nothing.” There was thinly disguised resentment in Marta’s voice as she came waddling back to tuck him in. The reek of ale on her breath mingled with the green scent of the parsley stalk she had been chewing to freshen her mouth.

“Told me what?”

“You’re eight, old enough to know these things. Old enough to be warned where not to go.” She plumped herself down on the bed beside him like a hen settling itself on its clutch of eggs. “Haven’t you ever heard tell of the Ninufarim?”

“Never.” He was fully awake now.

“Pretty child.” She leaned forward and smoothed down his wayward curls, murmuring. “Such pretty hair, even if it is the same colour as your mother’s.”

He shook his head free of her hand, hating to be touched.

“You must never leave your shutters open when it’s full moon.” She wagged a finger at him. “And you must never, never go walking by the lake. For that is when the ninufars rise to the surface and the Ninufarim are abroad.”

From Amazon USAmazon UK, Kobo and Books2Read from April 14th

 

I’ve been looking forward so much to this book’s release. I betaed two of the drafts and have been blown away by the way the story has been developed. Such an exciting and satisfying tale.

Highly recommended to anyone who enjoys tales featuring WW2, spies, gay culture and a love story.

 

Book Cover showing a young bearded man with the sea and a submarine in the background

 

Under the Radar

 Tagline

Navigating the deep waters of war and love.

The Book

It’s 1942 and after a sexual indiscretion, US Navy pilot Zachary MacKenzie is sent to serve in the Royal Navy’s submarine service—a shockingly harsh punishment for a man who loves to fly. The submarine is oppressive and frustrating for him, and he’s marked out from his peers, publicly by being American, and privately by his attraction to men.

The only bright spot is the company of his steward, sonar operator Gethin Llewelyn. Despite the differences of rank and background, they’re drawn to each other. Gethin’s integrity complements Zach’s casual joie de vivre, and soon the friendship develops into something much more.

As the threats of war increase, the submarine is plagued by potentially hostile vessels, and circumstances lead them to suspect there’s a spy amongst their own crew. Being forced even closer together as they work for the greater good reveals a new awareness, and Zach doesn’t know what is in more danger, the vessel under his charge or his heart.

Author recommendation

From Polari to Polaris, it’s never been just the nice girls who love a sailor. Lillian Francis effortlessly evokes the claustrophobia and camaraderie of life—and forbidden love—aboard a WW2 submarine. – JL Merrow

Word count: ~138,500

Cover designed by Tiferet Design

Buy Links: Kobo // Payhip // B&N // Smashwords

Universal Amazon link:

mybook.to/UndertheRadar_LF

 

Add it to your Goodreads bookshelf here.

                                                

About the Author

Lillian Francis is a self-confessed geek who likes nothing more than settling down with a comic or a good book, except maybe writing. Given a notepad, pen, her Kindle, and an infinite supply of chocolate Hob Nobs and she can lose herself for weeks. Romance was never her reading matter of choice, so it came as a great surprise to all concerned, including herself, to discover a romance was exactly what she’d written, and not the rollicking spy adventure or cosy murder mystery she always assumed she’d write.

http://lillianfrancis.blogspot.co.uk/

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