Whoohooo, today is the release day for the baseball themed anthology Playing Ball. And in honor of this day, Kate McMurray and I thought we’d get together to discuss our lifelong love of two teams in particular, the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox and some of the moments we remember in this ongoing rivalry.
So, I am a lifelong Yankee fan who went to college in Massachusetts and, in fact, dated a Sox fan for almost ten years. (He was one of my favorite people to talk baseball with, even after we broke up, although we were dating when the Sox won the ‘04 World Series, and we had plenty to talk about that season. I almost wanted to root for the Sox to break the Curse of the Bambino—grudging respect and all that—though it was hard after they swept the Yankees in the ALCS. NOT THAT I’M BITTER.)
Anyway, I remember one game I watched with friends in college, and the Sox won and must have clinched something, their spot in the play-offs maybe, and all the baseball fans poured out of the dorms and gathered in the courtyard to cheer and talk about it—these are things we did before social networking, I guess—and, as was inevitable, chants of “Yankees suck!” broke out in the crowd. It didn’t matter that the Yankees hadn’t been anywhere near the game we just watched. (It also didn’t matter that this was the late-90s when the Yankees were AWESOME. Statistically, I mean; I’m not just saying that. I mean: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/201305-were-the-1998-yankees-the-best-team-ever) This is the funny thing about being a Yankee fan. Because there are two pools of baseball fans: Yankee fans and fans who hate the Yankees. No baseball fan has ambivalence about the Yankees. I’ve been to a few Mets games, and there is always at least one guy who whips the crowd into a “Yankees suck!” frenzy, even if the Yankees aren’t there.
And I’m a lifelong Red Sox fan. Hell, it’s in my blood. When my Grandmaman emigrated to the U.S. she became a huge fan of baseball before she even learned English and settled right down in the heart of Red Sox country. She passed that love down to the rest of us, though my mother takes it to a whole different level. I remember when we were transferred to Ohio when I was seven and I teased my mom about becoming a Cincinnati Reds fans since that was the closest team just to watch her explode. See the Cincinnati Reds had beat the Red Sox in the 1975 World Series and my mother never forgot or forgave them even though we lived in Ohio for seven years. Her best friend came from New York and was a diehard Yankees fan and there were many summer nights where the two of them would watch the games, trying to encourage each others’ kids to switch team loyalties, and hooting/hollering the entire time.
And as for BITTER, I will never forget the 7th Game in the ACLS of 2003. We were sure that this was the year. It seemed like we always thought that this could be the year. But in 2003 it was feverish. The entire clan gathered at my mom’s house for Game 7, kids, grandkids, even the family members who weren’t huge baseball fans. (I cannot believe such a creature actually exists.) My son wasn’t even a year yet, trying to sleep on my lap as we followed each pitch, every damn swing. And when Aaron Boone got that damned home run the living room exploded.
I have a good friend who lives in the Boston suburbs, and she and her husband are rabid, fanatical Sox fans. Their home office is completely Boston sports themed, with an entire wall taken up by 2004 World Series memorabilia. I am not making this up. I usually sleep in that room when I visit and it is terrifying. They come down to New York once a year or so for a game and usually invite me to tag along, so all of the Sox at Yankee Stadium games I’ve seen in person have been with them. There was a time when you could get bleacher seats at any Yankee game for 5 bucks, so I saw a few rivalry games that way. This is no longer true—I don’t think you can get even a hot dog for $5 at the new Yankee Stadium, no joke—but I saw some great Sox vs. Yankee games from the noisy bleachers, when people would get rowdy (and get tossed out of the stadium) even after the stadium banned the sale of alcohol to the Bleacher Creatures. (Not that one couldn’t get drunk at one of the many sports bars across the street before the game.)
Sadly, I have never seen a live game between the Red Sox and Yankees. Being a military brat we were rarely stationed anywhere close to a baseball stadium. Except for the year we lived in New York when sadly I think my parents thought I was too young to enjoy a live baseball game. And now that I’m settled in Maryland most of the games we catch are at Camden Yards. (Another beautiful, old stadium.) And home is the Great North Woods of New Hampshire and nowhere close to Fenway. However, I do get a lot of grief for being a Red Sox fan from my Orioles fan buddies. Speaking of memorabilia, my brother-in-law on my husband’s side of the family is from New York and passed his love for the Yankees down to my niece who is one of the sweetest girls you’ve ever known. She came to my sister’s house for a party and hanging in the garage was a sign proclaiming, “Yankees Suck.” The poor child was shocked down to her toes and I took her aside and told her not to let it get to her. Even if this house was Red Sox territory, she was still welcome and she should wear her cap with pride.
But it’s all in good fun. My Sox fan friends and (and my Mets fan friends) and my Yankees fan friends can talk baseball all day long, and it gets heated sometimes, but we joke around about it, too. But the Yankees are one of the greatest sports franchises of all time, and I will not hear arguments to the contrary.
My dad has a tee-shirt that says, “I’m a fan of two teams: the Yankees and whoever is playing the Red Sox.” I think that about sums it up.
LOL, my sister has almost the exact same T-shirt, only with the opposite sentiment.
Seriously though, I love the rivalry, I love the history between the two teams, and the grudging respect. I love that Fenway played “New York, New York” after 9/11 and New York played “Sweet Caroline” after the Boston Marathon bombing. How many other teams/rivalries have that same kind of vibe?
Well, that’s our little take on being fans and rivals, though I think we could’ve gone on forever if given the chance. But we channeled our love for baseball into our anthology. Kate McMurray’s story is “One Man to Remember,” a wonderful historic tale set in 1927 New York. The characters are so memorable and she really captures the time period.
It’s 1927, and in New York City Babe Ruth and the Yankee’s unstoppable batting lineup, Murderers’ Row, is all anyone can talk about. Across town, the Giants’ rookie infielder Skip Littlefield racks up hits, creating a streak to rival the Babe’s. Worried his secrets could get out, he avoids the spotlight, but he catches the attention of lauded sports reporter Walter Selby, a notorious dandy whose sexuality is an open secret. Skip reluctantly agrees to an interview, and mutual attraction is sparked. Skip can only hope the more charismatic stars will draw attention away from his romance with Walt. Otherwise, his career and everything he loves is at stake.
My story “Wild Pitch” is about two retired players and best friends who have gone on to coach rival Little League teams in Vermont.
Ruben Martell fell in love with Alan Hartner during their years playing baseball. They stepped over the foul line once, but the encounter left them struggling with heartache and guilt, turning away from each other to focus on their families. Now retired from the majors, they run a batting cage together and coach rival Little League teams as they juggle fatherhood and being single again. Though Ruben has never given up hope that Alan might look at him as more than a friend, Alan seems determined to keep things the way they’ve always been. But long-buried feelings and desires have a way of resurfacing, and Ruben can’t wait forever.
To celebrate the release of PLAYING BALL and our blog tour, Shae, Kate, Kerry, and I have put together a pretty awesome giveaway.
Grand prize: A print copy of PLAYING BALL signed by all four authors, a unisex BBQ apron featuring hot athletes from Originals by Lauren, and swag from all four authors.
Runner-up prize: An ebook copy of PLAYING BALL and swag from all four authors.
The giveaway will run from 12AM Central on September 21, 2013 to 12AM Central on October 11, 2013. To give an opportunity for the authors to get together to sign the book and gather swag, the winners will be picked and the prizes shipped after the end of GayRomLit 2013.
But there are some rules:
You must be a resident of Earth, 18 years or older, who lives in a place where the viewing of adult material is legal. By entering the giveaway, you are indicating your agreement to the rules. Winners must provide a physical mailing address to receive their prizes. If a winner does not respond to the prize notification within 48 hours, the prize will be re-awarded.
The Out in Colorado Anthology has a special place in my heart, since I was born and raised in this beautiful state. When first asked to be apart of the anthology, I was surprised and quite shocked. After all, I had no published works and, at the time, only a small blog about literature and romance in the gay paranormal world. Still, I couldn’t wait to get started on my story and be a part of this exciting anthology with fellow authors in Colorful Colorado.
I was also lucky to be the cover artist for this anthology as well. I love drawing and creating cover art for my favorite authors and friends. I was inspired to make the cover look and feel like Colorado, that’s why I love the mountains in the background.
You can visit my cover art page at tabathaheartart.wordpress.com.
While growing up in Colorado, my closest friend was gay, and I have several more friends who have come out of the closet since. I have always known that love is love, no matter what gender, and I love reading and writing stories with happy endings. Love should always win, and that is what my stories are about.
Paranormal stories are particularly my favorites because I love getting lost in the dark worlds of vampires, lycans, and zombies, oh my! I love writing stories, especially with darker characters filled with lots of tragedy in their lives. I find these stories especially freeing, knowing that there is a darker side in all of us.
The idea for my short story, “Spirit’s Fire”, came with a winter storm and the curiosity of what it would be like to hang out at a cabin in the mountain woods with a group of close friends. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I loved writing it!
Storm Moon Press became the first publisher to offer me a contract for my first published story. I felt bad for my poor editor, who had to put up with so many of my amateur mistakes, but with a lot of patience, she got me through and made my story so much stronger than when I had first put it in Storm Moon Press’ hands. I will have to admit, this being my first published story, I had an amazing experience and would highly recommend anyone looking for a great publisher of amazing books to come to Storm Moon Press.
Thanks for having me today at The Armchair Reader, and I hope everyone checks out my story and the others by Colorado authors featured in Out in Colorado!
This collection brings six talented authors from the Centennial State together under one title, all offering their take on what it means to be Out in Colorado. These stories explore the cultures and mores of the state as only native authors can, each bringing a unique perspective on the diverse peoples and changing attitudes that are quickly coming to define this state in transition.
In a yearly tradition, five friends have gotten together in a cabin in the winter mountains of Colorado, but one of them has been lost for years. This year, all five friends will be back together and discover secrets that will change their lives forever, in Spirit’s Fire.
“I thought we were friends. You used to come talk to me about everything…”
“Why didn’t you visit me even once while I was locked away?” Ivan yelled. “Why didn’t you write me a letter or something to at least tell me that you never wanted to see me again?” Ivan quickly slid his elbow over his eyes, most likely trying to hide that he was crying. “Something to…”
“I thought you were dead,” Tate interrupted.
“What?” Ivan’s eyes went wide.
“You are dead. I went to your funeral,” Tate shook his head, his tone softer now. “All of us did.”
“They…” Ivan swallowed loudly. “They told you I was… dead.”
“Yes,” Tate said, the word coming out barely above a whisper.
Tate stood there for a moment, finally glancing up to see Ivan staring at him.
“I guess that explains why everyone was looking at me like I’d risen from the dead when I got here last night.”
Tate let out a laugh. “Well, you did give us quite the shock.” They laughed together this time. The smile making his eyes light up like the stars.
“Was it at least good?” Ivan asked.
Tate stared at him, his face a mask of confusion. “Was what good?”
“Yes, it was quite beautiful, actually.”
Ivan stood there nodding, Tate went to pull him back in for a hug. He needed to know that Ivan was really standing there, that this wasn’t a dream. But Ivan’s hand went up, holding Tate back. “What’s wrong?” Tate asked, confused when he knew Ivan loved to be held and touched.
“I…” Ivan’s eyes fell. “There is something… different about me. Something I don’t know if you will like. And touch triggers it.”
“Touch triggers what?” Tate said, stepping back. He knew what Ivan was capable of in certain situations. “Do you mean the incident? Like that?”
Ivan shook his head and extended his hand, an invitation for Tate to come to him. Tate hesitated for only a moment but finally took Ivan’s hand in his own. Ivan was cold to the touch, but he soon warmed up. Tate suddenly found himself filled with warmth, his heart went into overdrive, and he felt as if he were floating. Every part of him came alive with feelings, all of them pleasant.
“What is this?” Tate asked. His voice sounded distant.
“My feelings for you,” Ivan said softly.
Tate blinked past the warm haze that had surrounded him. This was more than just friendship, this was lust and desire mixed with… well, maybe even love.
Ivan wanted him.
Tabatha Heart can often be found typing obsessively, hoping to finish another story when not out raising zombies from their graves and plottng the world’s demise. Her passion for life has always been in writing, especially in the paranormal genre, because there is a darker side in all of us. Her short story, “Spirit’s Fire”, can be found in Storm Moon Press’ Out in Colorado anthology, now available in print and ebook formats.
When I first saw the call for gay dragon stories at Storm Moon Press for their Dracones anthology, I totally discounted it, off hand.
I love writing about mythical creatures, but dragons are such a staple of the fantasy genre, I wasn’t sure what I had new to offer. Yet the idea of writing a dragon story niggled away at the back of my mind as I went about writing other things. I thought a lot about what I liked in stories about dragons, what I didn’t like, and what I’d never seen before. I considered setting the story in medieval Mongolia, I thought about setting it in Japan, or even a traditional European-focused fantasy land. Nothing really inspired me, though, or made me feel compelled to write it down.
Then, one day, while I was planning for another story, it hit me: a steampunk-like Victorian setting. That idea just clicked for me. What I really wanted to read, I realized, was a story about a dragon set in 1870s New York City. Since I felt excited about reading it, I knew I had to write it.
The first thing I did was a lot of Google searches looking for pictures of dragons. I researched a lot of different kinds of dragons. I looked at and read articles about dragons from all different mythologies. Almost every mythology in the planet has some sort of dragon or dragon-like creatures, so there was a lot to choose from. The kind of dragon which really jumped out at me, though, was the Irish wyrm. Wyrms are found in British and Irish mythology. They are different from the more traditional dragons found in fantasy, in that they don’t have arms, legs or wings. Wyrms don’t fly, but they do hoard, and more importantly, they are associated with guarding specific geographic locations. Wyrms can be found guarding particular hills, rock formations, springs, or deep caves. Usually these locations have magical properties or are soft spaces between our world and other worlds such as the realm of the faeries.
My wyrm, Daire, can look human if he wishes but is not used to living amongst humans. Having something precious stolen from him drives him from the hill in Ireland and forces him to come to New York City. Daire isn’t used to trying to live as a human, though, and quite often, he does not act completely human. That was something else I wanted, I knew my dragon was going to have to be in human form at least part of the time (to fascinate sexy times if nothing else, which would be a lot harder and less sexy if he were in wyrm form). Even when he looks like a human—which is most of the story, actually—I wanted it to be quite clear that Daire is a wyrm, not a human. He doesn’t have the same moral compass as humans do. As far as Daire is concerned, if someone attacks you and steals from your hoard, you are allowed to eat them. Plain and simple. He also doesn’t understand certain elements of societal interaction very well, which makes it hard for him to blend in. Plus, Daire in wyrm form picks up a lot of his sensory input through his tongue (as snakes and lizards do). It’s hard for him to remember he can’t actually taste magic by licking things in his human form, though. This is particularly a problem for Daire in relations to books, which are what he hoards.
Overall, my short story, “Weird Magics”, is much more steampunky than anything I’ve written in a while. It’s a fun adventure story about how magic and mythical creatures mix with technology and secret organizations in the back streets of New York. It also goes particularly well with my other magical high-jinx in New York story, “Business Makes Strange Bedfellows” in Storm Moon Press’ Blood and Lipstick anthology. Just saying. 😉
Below is an excerpt from “Weird Magics”. I hope you enjoy it and check out the Dracones anthology! Thanks to Cole and The Armchair Reader for having me today!
“Do you come here often?” There was a light touch to his shoulder, and Daire turned to find Cyras standing next to him.
“If you two would excuse me.” William headed for the door as Cyras’ hand curled around Daire’s elbow.
“I need to see if they have any of Count Jan Potocki’s monographs, but then would you accompany me to get a cup of coffee?”
Daire hesitated for a moment and then nodded. “All right.”
He trailed after Cyras, who moved farther into the shop before stopping at one of the shelves, eyes searching across the spines of the books. Daire turned to the opposite shelf; his hands were immediately drawn to a small volume with a pretty, light brown leather cover. He pulled it free and opened it to find it was a small volume of love poems in French. He flipped through the pages, noting that the words had been hand scripted onto the pages. Reading through a few poems, Daire stopped every so often to stroke one finger across a word or phrase before moving on. He began to make that deep humming noise as his chest warmed.
“Are you going to buy that, too?”
Daire jumped, having forgotten he wasn’t alone. He tucked the small volume under his arm. “Yes.”
“You were right.” Cyras led the way to the front of the shop, although he himself was empty handed. “You really like books.”
Dracones – Now Available from Storm Moon Press. Seven short stories for just $7.99!
I remember, a long time ago, reading an article on how to write erotic horror. The part that really sticks in my mind was the part were the author of the article talked about needing to make the sex an integral part of the plot. That was the difference between erotic horror and horror with sex, according to the article; in erotic horror, the plot could not be resolved or the story driven forward without the sex. At the time, I wasn’t doing a lot of original fiction writing and could not ever imagine myself writing horror anyway. Still, when I saw the call over at Storm Moon Press for submission to the Queer Fear anthology, I immediately thought of that article. It was last October, and I had never written horror before, but I was in the mood to write something scary and sexy so I thought I’d give it ago. I’m not sure I agree completely with how the article defined erotic horror, but for me, it was an interesting experience trying to fashion a story where the sex and horror elements were of equal importance.
I don’t consider myself much of a horror fan, but when pressed, I will admit that adore ghost stories and stories about demonic possession. I’m not a huge fan of violence or gore for the sake of violence and gore – I generally find that boring – but I love accounts of hauntings, real or fictional. There is something so intriguing and yet creepy about encountering a hostile force that we simply cannot explain in our purely rational and scientific world.
For me, demonic possession takes that idea and ramps it up a few notches. With demonic possession, you have an evil which we used to believe in and have ways of trying to protect ourselves against. Now, though, if we take demonic possession to be a real possibility, then science and our modern concept of progress has actually made us completely defenseless against it. I mean, how scary is that? Here, we can protect ourselves with state of the art security technology or high powered weapons or medical science which can cure us of the plagues and illnesses that used to kill humans off in droves. We can study and diagnose even the evillest of people, we can punish crimes, but all this can’t save us from the supernatural. Because in our modern Western world, the supernatural is not supposed to exist. Which means that while we ignore it, it can climb inside of us and eat us from the inside out.
I find that far more scary than any serial killer.
One thing that I never expected to write was body horror. Demonic possession can lend itself to body horror, what with heads rotating backwards and people vomiting acid or needles, but I’d always imagined that I’d take a more haunting approach to it. Less with the gross and more with the creepy. After all, I’ve never considered myself a fan of that particular sub-genre of horror. Yet I find myself strangely drawn to writing body horror, although not to the extreme of say The Thing, there are elements of it that sneak into everything creepy I write these days. The physicality of it draws me, that concept of mutated bodies and the question of where the victim’s agency lies in horror that involved mutilation and transfigurement is very interesting to me. It also works in a kind of uneasy mirror of the erotic. Erotica is also concerned with bodies, the manipulation of bodies and what is done by and to them. It’s a fine line to balance on, having the horrific and the sexual be both depend upon what happens to this one characters poor body. At the same time, it is a great challenge for me as writer. I love thinking about my characters and their physicality differently, being hyper-aware of their physical selves, their sensations, their bodily needs, their experiences, both good and bad.
In my short story, “The Possession of Lawrence Eugene Davis”, Lawrence is already a character who has struggled with his changing physical abilities, having served in World War I and coming back with severe injuries. The war changed how Lawrence thought about his body and himself as a sexual being. The rest of the events of the story, including his encounter with Elijah, change that again in all sorts of profound – and in some cases, highly unpleasant – ways. Elijah, too, has a complex relationship with his body and its physical needs.
Ultimately, I would like to think that I managed the balance between scenes which are truly unsettling and scenes which are sexually appealing well, and the story was a great pleasure to write. Below is an excerpt for “The Possession of Lawrence Eugene Davis”, now available from Storm Moon Press in their Queer Fear anthology. Enjoy!
They bussed the dishes into the kitchen together, and then Billy said his goodnights and headed for his truck. Lawrence watched him walk down to his pickup from the porch doorway. Billy cut such a nice figure in blue jeans, work shirt, cowboy boots, and cowboy hat. He was too young, Lawrence reminded himself. He was obviously in need of someone in his bed again. Then, maybe he wouldn’t spend so much time being distracted, looking at younger men he had no right be looking at.
Another wave of pain hit him, cramping his abdomen, and Lawrence tightened his grip on his cane to keep from doubling over. His throat felt dry and painful, as if he had something caught in it that wouldn’t quite go down. He swallowed convulsively and waited for the pain to pass before heading towards his bedroom.
After turning on the lamps in his bedroom, Lawrence began to undress. Another wave of cramping pain hit him, causing Lawrence to grunt and double over, almost falling. He caught himself with his cane. There was a strange pushing sensation from inside his abdomen, and Lawrence squinted up through the haze of pain at the reflection of himself in his full length mirror. That strange, pushing pain came again, and Lawrence watched with horrified incomprehension as what looked like a hand pushed out from his stomach. It was clear, without a doubt, a hand pushing from inside him.
Lawrence thought he might have screamed, although he wasn’t aware of sound, only of stumbling back and falling. Hot pain shot up his entire body and down his leg from his hip at the same time another waving of cramping pain hit him. He sobbed in agony and tried to curl up into himself. The pushing came again from inside, and the clogged, nauseous sensation in his throat, that he could now identify as the feeling of something trying to push its way back up. Lawrence squeezed his eyes shut. Upstairs, the door slammed, and Lawrence tried to push himself up, tried to stand, only to twist his hip in a way that caused him to fall back with a strangled scream. Pain engulfed him and darkness rushed up to meet it.
It’s long been known that fear and arousal create the same type of response inside the human body. Putting them together, then, is a recipe for a scorchingly hot time. Queer Fear does just that by exploring the world of erotic horror. It’s the ultimate marriage of lust and terror, the perfect blend of dark horror elements with sensuality and erotic content. This isn’t some safe and sparkly paranormal romance; this is the place where angels fear to tread, and so would you, if you had any sense. Turn back before it’s too late!
We begin with Reading Arteries, where a new designer drug engineered to force feelings of lust in those who take it. When the men hired to steal the formula decide to try it out, they end up addicted to love. Then, in The Possession of Lawrence Eugene Davis, following the death of his father, Lawrence has returned to his family’s ranch, but is quickly set upon by a demonic presence. Hope for release comes with the conveniently-appearing Elijah, but the deal he offers may be just as unholy as the demon itself. Next, Dark Revelation brings us Derek, constantly at war with his darker half, a demon who uses Derek’s body to rape and kill. And though Derek tries to isolate himself from people, nowhere is truly empty, and Derek’s demon hungers again. The Pain Cycle follows Luke, despondent over the disappearance of his lover six months ago. When he witnesses a friend dragged into a tunnel by a hideous creature, he gives chase, only to learn the chilling truth about his lover—and who knows how many others. Finally, in Matthew Powers Lives, a porn shoot in a former mental hospital is plagued by strange equipment failures, leading the crew to believe the site is haunted. For Matthew, those fears are confirmed when a restless spirit confronts him personally, and he’s a hottie!
Queer Fear – Now Available in ebook for $4.99!
Hello Everyone! Please welcome Poppy and Mary to the blog today! If you don’t know already, these are two of my favorite authors and when I heard from Poppy that they were doing something together, I was unbelievably excited 🙂 I first fell in love with Mary’s work when I reviewed Change of Heart and Trusted Bond and started chatting with her, realizing what a lovely person she was. And since, I’ve only come to love her work as it finds a niche of it’s own among my favorite reads. When I first read and then reviewed Mind Magic by Poppy Dennison, I honestly just loved it. I’m not ashamed to admit that I stalked her online and made her answer if there were going to be sequels or not 😉 And since we’ve chatted and met last year at GRL in Albuquerque. They’re both delightful ladies who are on my auto-buy list and having them here, together, makes my day.
So my friends, here are a few of my questions after reading Creature Feature. There’s a bit about the book, a bit about them, and a bit of other things. Enjoy!
**Color Coded for your further ease of reading:
Me in comments: Purple
Hi Poppy, Hi Mary! First of all, thank you so much for visiting us today! I have to tell you, I was speechless when I first heard that a book was coming out with both of your names on it. Both of you are already on my auto-buy/review list, so envisioning a project where you work together in any capacity was very exciting for me.
How did Creature Feature come about? Is it something you decided to do together? Or was it a marketing decision?
First off Cole, thank you so much for having us.
Poppy: A while back, Mary and I were chatting and thought it might be fun to do something together. Neither of us had any idea what we wanted to do though! Our schedules were also crazy, because at the time she still lived in Hawaii. We came up with the idea of each doing our own paranormal novella and packaging them together for fun.
Mary: An anthology is a nice way of doing something together where there is no chance that you will step on the other person’s toes.
Poppy: Yes, Mary and I are both very protective of our characters. I think that’s why we get along so well!
How about the origin of the name — Creature Feature — and why it fits so well? Did the idea of compiling stories into one offering (ala Creature Feature) come first, or was it just an eye catching title?
Mary: Poppy was thinking that the anthology would be called Silver Lining which would have been cute but it was already taken so we were thinking of something that could incorporate both stories and came up with Creature Feature.
Poppy: You should have seen the chats with us trying to come up with a name. I must admit to pouting quite a bit when I learned another story had taken the name Silver Lining. I thought it was the perfect name. I was wrong, though. The moment Mary suggested Creature Feature, I knew we’d found our title. And then when Paul Richmond showed us his concept for the cover art, I was even more convinced we’d made the right choice.
Before reading the stories, I wondered just how much of a connection there would be between them, either from entirely interconnected in characters and the world to completely standalone. And after reading, the only thing I really recognized was the setting of Myerson, Arizona. Did you intend to draw further connections between the stories? Did I miss something?
Poppy: Nope! You didn’t miss anything. We thought about interweaving our worlds a bit more, but to be honest, we both wanted to be surprised with what the other came up with. We decided to set them in the same location and then see what the other did!
Mary: Yeah. What she said…
Poppy: Mary, did you just “that’s what she said” me?
Both of you have written several paranormal books in addition to your stories here. Do you have a preference for paranormal stories? What do you like about writing in the paranormal sub-genre of m/m romance?
Poppy: For me, it comes down to “write what you know”, or in this case “write what you read”. I love reading paranormal romance so I knew my ideas would center on paranormal for a while. I think what I like most about writing in this sub-genre is the “otherness” to the characters. In this novella, Caleb is a werewolf…how does having that animal side of his personality affect him? It fascinates me and inspires the muse!
Mary: I have a fondness for paranormal because of the world building and the ability to create something from scratch. Without the rules of real life, you can do anything you want. (That’s why I like reading paranormal, and especially fantasy)
How do you two know each other? What made you decide to want to work with each other?
Poppy: We started with me fangirling all over Mary. (heh-heh, sounds like me!) We had the chance to work together a bit on another project and really hit it off, so we started chatting. I’m a huge fan of Mary’s work, so when we first had the notion to work together, I jumped all over it. I’m happy to say we’ve met in person a couple times since then and I’ve found a true friend.
Mary: Awwwwwwww. Same to both things. I’m her fan too. I got her to sign her books at the Olde City New Blood con in February so that was fun.
Do you have a favorite book or story that the other author has written? And why?
Poppy: Um, is all of them an okay answer? LOL. I really can’t pick a favorite. How about a top five? Change of Heart, Matter of Time, Frog, Acrobat, and Steamroller. My favorite thing about Mary’s work is that her characters come to life for me. They’re people I know, or people I want to be friends with. (Change of Heart [the whole series] and … aw shit, all the others too! are my favorites as well)
Mary: I love Poppy’s Triad series and because I get to read early, I can say that I adored Soul
Magic and seeing her stretch her wings and deepen her craft. You will love the newest addition. (yes! I can’t wait to read it!)
Name 3 Currently Reading or Most Recently Read books:
Poppy: My most recently read is Too Stupid To Live by Anne Tenino (LOVED). On Mary’s recommendation I’m reading Dirty Kiss by Rhys Ford and I’m also reading Dark Sun by M.J. O’Shea. (I loved TSTL too, and the whole Cole McGinnis series is amazing, the books just keep getting better and better!)
Mary: Too Stupid To Live (also loved it), Tell Me It’s Real by TJ Klune (LOVED) and Hainted by Jordan L. Hawk (loved that too) (Oh, I’ve yet to read Hainted, but I’ll be sure to read it. I’ve read other books by Jordan L Hawk, though and really liked them)
Do you plan to work together again? Is there another Creature Feature in the future, perhaps?
Poppy: *eyes Mary* Answer this question carefully, my friend. *g*
Mary: LOL. She wants zombies and I told her to read Sean Kennedy’s novella. As far as zombies go I love that one:)
Poppy: Yep. That’s what she said. (Ha! Got you back Mary!) BUT since there’s that new Zombie anthology coming out soon, I think we should come up with something different for Creature Feature 2! Come on, you guys. You’re going to have to help me convince her! Maybe give us some paranormal creatures you’d like to see us write? (mummies! no one writes mummies in m/m. okay, maybe that’s because they’re totally not scary and totally lame. never mind. you should do mythical creatures, like the Chupacabra or Nessie :D)
What do you have coming soon? What are you working on now?
Poppy: Next up for me is Soul Magic, the final book in the Triad trilogy. It comes out in late April/early May. After that, I have a novella with a shapeshifting liger and his oh-too-human mate coming out in June/July. (I can’t wait for Soul Magic! I got the first two in paperback so now I can re-read before the last one is out :D)
Mary: I am working on the sequel to After the Sunset which is Glenn’s story and a book with Cardeno C. Next out will be a novella, Still, which is a contemporary, in early May and then another novella that is part of the Daily Dose set from Dreamspinner on June 1st. And then hopefully in July/August Duncan and Aaron’s book. (Oh I can’t wait for the sequel to After the Sunset!)
Where can we find you online?
I really enjoyed the book and I’m excited for others to get to read it as well. Thank you so much for visiting! And please, come back any time, you’re both always welcome 🙂
Poppy: Thanks for having us, Cole! I can’t wait to see you again in Atlanta!!
Mary: Yes thank you Cole, and I look forward to meeting you in person.
I can’t wait to see both of you!!
Diagnosis: Wolf by Poppy Dennison
Thanks to his good-for-nothing brother, Andrew Hughes is up to his eyeballs in debt and needs a job fast. When a nursing position opens up in Myerson, Arizona, Andrew has no choice but to take it, despite a warning about how difficult a patient Caleb DiMartino can be. Andrew can deal with a little trouble—but Caleb’s strange family, the armed guards, and the unknown cause of Caleb’s mysterious illness may be beyond his skill set.
Landslide by Mary Calmes
For three years, paranormal courier Frank Corrigan has been working for incubus demon Cael Berith. Cael knows Frank is his mate, but Frank is pretty sure Cael doesn’t even like him, never mind want to spend the rest of his life with him, so their personal relationship is at an impasse. When Frank’s sister, Lindsey, gets bitten by a werewolf she’s sleeping with—and possibly witnesses a murder—Frank rides to her rescue. If he’s lucky, he might just save his love life too.
So, what about you guys? Have any questions for these two? Or, what type of creature would you have them write about if they were to do another Creature Feature?
Title: Private Dicks: Undercovers
Editors: Samantha M Derr
Authors: Siobhan Crosslin, K-Lee Klein, Holly Rinna-White, Alison Bailey, Megan Derr, EE Ottoman, Isabella Carter & Sasha L Miller
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Length: 135k words
Genre: m/m + m/m/m Mystery Romance
Keywords/Tags: Anthology, Short Stories, Private Investigators, Undercover
Rating: Pretty Good
Temper by Siobhan Crosslin—Reese hates deception, but that’s all his life has been since he was sent to investigate a wolf pack on clashing sets of orders. Keeping his lies separated is all that’s keeping him alive, and it’s a job that grows harder by the day—especially with the unexpected complications of the alpha he’s investigating.
The PI and the Rockstar by K-lee Klein—Mason is a detective. He’s not flashy or hip and he doesn’t have an office conducive to entertaining wealthy clients. But when made-of-money Durango and his gum-snapping daughter hire him to do surveillance on a popular rockstar named Jade Jonathan Lee, Mason’s business world collides with his personal life, and the result is a mystery that must be solved.
Glamour by Holly Rinna-White—When his little brother is kidnapped, Jason hires Eric, PI and long-time crush, to find him, terrified of what will happen if people learn his brother is unregistered psychic. But when Jason is kidnapped as well, he learns he and his brother are not the only ones keeping secrets.
The Virginia Gentleman by Alison Bailey—When the Virginia Gentleman rides into town, it’s a sure bet that trouble ain’t far behind. He’s quick on the draw, feared by all, and one sad little group of train robbers is about to find out why it’s never wise to bet on trouble.
The Royal Inquisitor by Megan Derr—Esmour is one the best Inquisitors in the kingdom, but the penance bracelets on his wrists serve as constant reminder that once he was not a master of deception, but a victim. To solve his latest case, he must work alongside the liar who changed his life, and the love he learned too late was never real.
Regarding the Detective’s Companion by E.E. Ottoman—Jamie is desperate: he has no money, rent is coming due, and if he doesn’t do something soon he’ll be forced back into a life of charity and pity. So when he is brought a case, Jamie takes it—even if it will mean lying to his client, manipulating the suspect and propelling himself into the middle of a plot involving murder and political intrigue.
The Demon Bride by Isabella Carter—One dead body left at the door is more than enough, but after three are left on the stoop of his father’s agency and no one else is willing to investigate, Quinton decides he’ll just have to solve the mystery himself.
Too Dangerous by Sasha L. Miller—Shi is good at what he does, no matter what his stupid ex thought. Danger comes with the territory, especially when that territory includes a special license to do select work for the government. But when the government needs him to fix something that defeated even their most elite, Shi learns that some situations are too much even for him.
I’ve been sitting on this anthology for a while, but if there’s anything that I know about anthologies from Less Than Three Press, it’s that they’re usually some of my favorites, it not my overall favorites from a specific publisher. So I was excited to read it and I found several stories within that I really liked.
Once again, as with the LT3 anthology I reviewed earlier this week (Something Happened on the Way to Heaven — reviewed here), I was delighted with the diversity in the stories presented. Each story deals with a Private Investigator and a mystery, but the stories cross all genres, from Paranormal to Steampunk to Science Fiction, Contemporary and Western. I really enjoyed the steampunk story, “Regarding the Detective’s Companion” by EE Ottoman. Even though it isn’t the best story in the anthology, I really liked the characters, the mystery and the world. Having a steampunk world was also nice because there are so few m/m steampunk stories. The first story is one of my favorites. With a very distinctive style, Siobhan Crosslin takes us into an extreme werewolf society with some really fine writing.
So, look below and I’ll give you a bit about each story. The reviews will be shorter than usual, because this was a longer anthology, but the tags and info about each story will give you quite a bit about what each one has to offer 🙂
Temper by Siobhan Crosslin (Pretty Good)
Genre: m/m Paranormal Mystery Romance
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 1 – None
Keywords/Tags: Shifters (Wolves & Dragons), Mate Bonding, Enforcer/Thug, Violence, Undercover
Siobhan Crosslin takes us into a highly segregated world of the different paranormal races. Werewolves form highly structured packs, and Reese has been sent by his alpha to investigate an alpha of a different pack. He infiltrates them easily. Reese was raised and groomed into a killing machine and his loyalties are clouded by his feelings for each alpha — his fear of the old one and his shifting loyalty to the new one, the one he’s lying to, and the one he’s falling in love with.
This one ended up being on the high end of Pretty Good for me, almost Really Liked It. In fact, for most of the story I really, really liked it. Most of all, I loved the writing style. The story thrusts you into the lies and deception from a point of view that is compromised, confused and unable to accurately bring the reader up to speed about what is actually going on and who is who. I admired that and fell into the story, excited by the challenging point of view. It soon grew to be tedious, however, and I ended the story upset that I never really learned much about the world or the people. I had hoped that the writing I loved so much was just being choosy about how to impart information to the reader, but what was held back never came to light.
I’ve since read the sequel to this story (Weld), or rather another story by this author, not a direct serial but also in this world. I ended up liking that one even less, because it carried on with this same writing style, but at an even higher degree, which made for an unpleasant read, unfortunately.
The PI and the Rockstar by K-Lee Klein (So So)
Genre: m/m Contemporary Mystery Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Rockers, Private Investigators, Piercings!, Sexy to the 999s, Closeted
Mason is a private investigator with a rather famous boyfriend. Though that’s all on the hush hush. Of course, that secret means that when a teenage client and her father come into his office asking him to find a musician that got the girl pregnant and then ditched her, he can’t tell them that the man they’re trying to frame is, in fact his boyfriend, the lead singer of a popular rock group. So what is the girl really up to? And how will the added level of duplicity affect Mason’s relationship with Jade?
This was an okay story for me. I was a bit sad that there weren’t any surprises for me — as soon as the girl came in with her father and explained “what happened” with the rockstar, I had a feeling I knew what was going to happen. Sadly, I was right. Add to that the fact that I never really felt like I got to know the characters well, made this story just a So So read for me.
Glamour by Holly Rinna-White (Pretty Good)
Genre: m/m Science Fiction, Paranormal, Mystery Romance
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 1 – None
Keywords/Tags: Brothers, Undercover, Private Investigator, Psychic, Aliens, Kidnapping
Most of my enjoyment of this story came from the world, which I found rather interesting. Jason and his brother are both unregistered psychics, in a world where those with abilities have to come forward to be assessed by the government. While Jason has mild precognition, his little brother is a different case, with a powerful precognitive sight that puts them all in danger. When Jason’s little brother is psychic, he must go to the man he’s had a crush on for months. Eric is a private investigator with secrets of his own, the least of which is that he’s as interested in Jason as Jason is in him. Searching for the men who kidnapped Jason’s brother, and then trying to rescue Jason himself when the fool rushes in to save his brother, brings both of them closer together.
The Virginia Gentleman by Alison Bailey (So So)
Genre: m/m Western Historical Romance
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 1 – None
Keywords/Tags: Undercover, Cowboys, Thieves, Kidnapping, Private Investigator
I admit, I had a little trouble with this one. I read half of it, finished the anthology then came back and re-read this story. I enjoy westerns, but most westerns in m/m romance are simply contemporary cowboy stories, and this story harkens to a much more authentic historical Old West. The story moved a little too slow for me, but that is all personal preference — the pace suits the plot and sub-genre.
While a man is searching for a boy that was taken years ago as a child, the Virginia Gentleman is looking for some helping hands for a train robbery. Finding the boy and his ogre of a keeper, as well as a man looking to score money to settle with his fiancee, the Virginia Gentlemen leads them across the west to a planned heist of a princess’ carriage. Along the way the VG gets to know the young boy, now a young man but shy and quiet and scared, all while holding some rather big secrets of his own.
The Royal Inquisitor by Megan Derr (Pretty Good)
Genre: m/m Alternate World Historical Romance
Heat: 2 – Romantic & Tame
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few & Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Royalty, Thieves, Second Chances, Undercover, The Big Mis
I really, really enjoyed this story. You all know how much I love Megan Derr’s writing, and I really got into this story. Sadly, I felt like the tension was created by a misunderstanding, and while it isn’t classic Big Mis type situation, having to do with some duplicity from other nefarious characters, it was still a little disappointing to me that the hurt Esmour feels in this story is because of pride and miscommunication. Still, that was only a shadow on the ending for me, and for the most part I really liked this one.
Esmour wears bracelets that show his penance toward the crown. Unknowingly involved in a sting operation in the past, he came down on the wrong side of the axe when all was said and done, only spared from the noose by his connection and faux-relationship with the undercover prince. Now, the prince has need of him to solve a mystery slave trade in a city in the kingdom, and Esmour, despite his bracelets, is still the best investigator working for the crown. The case will force the two back together into a situation that for all the hurt it may cause might ultimately lead to a reconciliation that Esmour could never have envisioned.
Regarding the Detective’s Companion by EE Ottoman (Really Liked It)
Genre: m/m Historical, Steampunk Romance
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 1 – None
Keywords/Tags: Disability, Injured Character, Nerds/Geeks, Politics, Science, Awesome Female Characters, Present Tense
**Spoiler Alert! The review of this story in the anthology has some spoilers**
Jamie was rescued from certain death by a priest. With no working legs, he hobbles on crutches, but manages to get around a steampunk Victorian England trying to solve enough cases to make a name for himself as a private investigator. If he does, he might finally be able to make rent, but as it is he’s facing another week of near starvation and one step closer to being back on the streets… or worse, falling up on the Father’s mercy. In his desperation, Jamie takes a case from a man who he’s certain is aiming to frame an innocent man for murder. So what if he didn’t explicitly agree to finding the man guilty? If he investigates, he can find the real murderer and bring real justice. The case could make his career. Plus, they’re paying him up front.
I really liked this story, mostly because of the characters. Jamie is great, but the really great characters are the friends he makes during his time undercover, as well as the sweet romance that develops with his employer and the man he’s meant to frame. I think what I really liked was that this story diverted from the norm. What I expect when I read a story with the lie/undercover plot device is that the deception will go on until the characters are in love and then the secret coming out destroys the trust and is the climax of the story. Instead, when the truth of Jamie’s deception is revealed, the characters band together, almost making their relationship stronger with the real truth. It brings down the barriers that previously existed as boss/assistant and teacher/student and put the characters on an equal footing. Plus, that allows the two to continue the investigation, but now together. And I really liked that, because the best parts of this story are the interactions between these two characters. It’s sweet, awkward, funny, and totally nerdy. And I loved it 🙂
The Demon Bride by Isabella Carter (Not Feelin’ It)
Genre: m/m Fantasy Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few & Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Serial Killer, Demons
For some reason, I really just could not get into this story. I think it was the fact that both the romance and the mystery felt a bit incomplete to me. And even more, I didn’t really understand any of the characters, and to a smaller extent, what was really going on in the end. This could obviously be in my own mis-reading of the story, but I still never really latched on to this story like the others, no matter how little I understood about the end. Plus, I didn’t ever feel like this was really an m/m/m story.
Quinton has now found several bodies lying at the door of his father’s detective agency. No matter how many times he brings the subject of what to do about it up to his father, his father refuses to give him any information about it, despite the fact that Quinton feels he deserves to know, not only because he’s now older and wants to investigate the mystery himself, but also because he’s found the bodies, and he knew them. But when the third body is left of the stoop and Quinton finds a letter addressed to him, he decides he must investigate.
Too Dangerous by Sasha L Miller (Really Liked It)
Genre: m/m Science Fiction Romance
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 1 – None
Keywords/Tags: Action/Adventure, Second Chances, Military, Futuristic, Secrets & Lies, Kidnapping/Hostage
Ending this anthology with a Science Fiction story was a nice change of pace from the previous ones. And I really like Sasha MIller’s work, so this story, which was more of an action/adventure story was very nice to end the book with.
Shi is a successful private investigator, but he’s thinking about letting his military consultant status (at the highest clearance) lapse. Working a case for the military was how he met his ex-boyfriend in the first place and Shi is still trying to get over their breakup several months previously. So when he arrives at his office to find an unmarked hovercraft, he knows that the military has come to call once again. He fully expects to turn the offer down. After all, he made sure that provision was put into his contract. But when he finds out that he’s the only man for the job — to infiltrate the operate of a space crime syndicate to rescue the remaining member of the special ops team being held captive on the man’s ship — he knows he has to consider. Especially when he finds out that the man held captive is… his ex-boyfriend. No matter the hard feelings, he can’t leave him there. So despite the fact that he’s in way over his head, he’ll do what he has to to get the man out of there, and hopefully get some answers in the process.
Posted by Cole in 126k+, 2 Not Feelin' It, 3 So So, 4 Pretty Good, 5 Really Like It, Alternate World, Authors A-C, Authors D-F, Authors J-L, Authors M-O, Authors P-R, Contemporary, Fantasy, Heat 1 - Sweet/None, Heat 2 - Romantic & Tame, Heat 3 - Sexy & Mild, Heat 4 - Spicy & Smutty, Historical, m/m/m Polyamorous, Mystery, Paranormal, Romance, SciFi, Sex Freq 1 - None, Sex Freq 2 - Few and Far Between, Sex Freq 3 - Average Story to Sex, Steampunk, Western Tags: Action/Adventure, Aliens, Alison Bailey, Anthology, Awesome Female Characters, Brothers, Closeted, Cowboys, Demons, Dragon Shifters, EE Ottoman, Enforcer, Futuristic, Holly Rinna-White, Injured Character, Isabella Carter, K-Lee Klein, Kidnapping/Abduction, Less Than Three Press, Mate Bonding, Megan Derr, Military, Musicians, Nerds/Geeks, Physical Disabilities/Trauma, Piercings, Politics, Present Tense, Private Investigators, Psychic, Royalty, Samantha Derr, Sasha L Miller, Science, Second Chances, Secrets & Lies, Serial Killer, Sexy to the 999's, Short Story, Siobhan Crosslin, The Big Mis, Thieves, Undercover, Violence, Wolf Shifters