Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Wednesday Briefs: Mine! Chapter 16

This week's flash was inspired by this picture below!

Chapter Sixteen

“He’s definitely out, but that’s all I can tell you. His pulse and breathing are fast, but steady. What was wrong with him?”

“It was like he went feral. He didn’t seem to recognize any of us, not even me. Could it be something they did to him?”

“Honestly, I don’t know. Was he cognizant before this? Knew where he was? Who he was? Who you are?”

I nodded. “Yes. Weak, malnourished, exhausted and sleeping a lot, but he was still ‘Kraig’. We’ve been together since I found and blooded him, but I was doing rounds and he went to his parent’s house. He ate there, then went to take a nap. When I showed up he was sleeping, but then he just went... crazy.”

“Could he have been experiencing a nightmare? Sleep walking?” the medic asked.

“Maybe. I woke up him during a nightmare yesterday, though, and he was scared and hid under the bed, but he came out of it really quickly once he realized where he was. He didn’t seem to recognize anything around him today, but he was in the house he grew up in.”

The medic ran a hand over his hair, pulling on the rough reddish strands until they puffed out. He shook his head. “I just don’t know what to tell you. I don’t understand how any of this”—he waved a hand over Kraig—“is even possible, much less what might be wrong with him or how to treat it. The physical damage from striking him is superficial. It’ll heal just fine. Other than that? I don’t know.

“I could take a blood sample. Maybe that could shed some light on his physiology. It’d be good to get a baseline on him anyway, just in case something else happens. Call me when he wakes up, and I will come back.”

“Do it,” I ordered. It was hard to watch him insert a needle into Kraig’s arm without snarling, but I managed. “I’ll give my uncle your name. He’s a professor, and I was going to consult with him anyway.”

“Human werekin?”

“You have a problem with that?” I narrowed my eyes and glared.

“No, no. Of course not. Feel free to give him my number. I’ll get in touch with you if I find anything in your mate’s bloodwork that might help.” The medic scrambled to pack up his bag and leave.

“We need your expertise in this.”

“Deke, I am a biology professor, not a medical doctor. I cannot treat Kraig, even if I wanted to,” Uncle Radford said impatiently.

I paced the sitting room, trying to keep my voice low even though Kraig was unconscious and not just sleeping. “I don’t need you to treat him. I had the lion’s medic come and assess him physically. He couldn’t find anything wrong with him while he was unconscious, but he took a blood sample.”

“Be that as it may, I have responsibilities, classes. I cannot just up and return to the streak.”

Clamping my jaw shut, I just barely held on to the order to make him do precisely that. I wasn’t a tyrant, but this was Kraig, my mate! I took several harsh breaths in and out through my nose before I said carefully, “You will help me in this. I understand you have to keep up appearances with your job, and you cannot just leave when you have classes to teach. I will email the doctor’s files to you. I expect that you will review them, and let me know if you find out anything that is relevant as soon as possible. Then we will see you on Friday after your last class ends.” My tone was reasonable, even polite, but I gave him no room to argue. “Yes.”

“Yes, Deke.” Uncle Radford hung up without saying anything else. He hated that I was the alpha, that he had to listen to someone he thought of as just a kid, but there were things he didn’t understand about becoming the alpha that changed me far more than he knew.

I booted my laptop and sent him the files through a dummy email account. Unless someone got ahold of my laptop or was able to hack the whole streak, the information should be safe. It made me nervous, though, since that was how I’d gotten the information in the first place. But I couldn’t wait for Friday.

I needed answers now. Inside, I was like a powder keg, poised to blow. The tension was unbearable. I paced my sitting area, pausing to peer into my bedroom where Kraig was lying on his back. Who would wake up in there?

My mate?

Or the feral bonded werekin?

There was only one thing to do when a bonded werekin’s soul overpowered his human spirit, making them a danger to themselves and everyone around them... but I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t even contemplate it without wanting to roar my pain and anger for all to hear and know to give me wide berth.

My claws flicked in and out, digging into my palms. I felt so helpless. It was agonizing. Kraig rolled onto his side, and the movement caught my attention instantly. I watched him intently, but he didn’t open his eyes.

The livid bruise on his jaw was even darker. I looked away, but not for long. I approached the bed silently, dropping to my knees beside him. He was still so thin, looked so worn. There was nothing I wanted more than to fix everything for him, but I couldn’t.

“What happened to you?” I whispered.

Kraig slowly opened his eyes.

I froze, holding my breath. The other times I’d startled him awake hadn’t gone well. I didn’t want to scare him or provoke another attack. His eyes widened.

“Deke! What happened to your face?”
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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Series Spotlight: Fur, Fangs and Felines by M.A. Church

I cannot tout enough how much I looooove these books. M.A. Church is one of my favorite writers, and this series is one of the reasons why! If you haven't checked out the first 2 books, get them now because book 3 will be out soon.


23631202A snowstorm in the South—on New Year’s Eve—is a perfect recipe for a catastrophe. After two soul-crushing bad breaks, Kirk’s waiting for disaster number three to strike when, naturally, two stray cats arrive on his doorstep during the storm and decide to make themselves at home. Tenderhearted Kirk lets them stay even though there’s something decidedly odd about his overly friendly felines. 

Out of the punishing weather and full of tuna, Dolf and Tal are happy to be snug in Kirk’s house. But then their human goes outside for firewood and suffers a nasty fall that leaves him unconscious. Now the two cats have no choice but to reveal themselves. 

Kirk wakes up to find the two kitties are actually Dolf and Tal. They’re cat shifters—and his destined mates. Being part of a feline threesome is enough for Kirk to grapple with, but soon he learns they come from a clowder that doesn’t believe humans and shifters should mix. Kirk knew those two cats would be trouble. Little does he know the real trouble lies ahead.
audio books 27881262
available in french  
jamais-deux-sans-troisToutes griffes dehors, tome 1 Une tempête de neige dans le sud, le jour du Nouvel An, est la recette parfaite pour une catastrophe. Après deux incidents dévastateurs, Kirk attend qu'un troisième désastre se produise lorsque, tout naturellement, deux chats errants arrivent sur son palier durant la tempête et décident de faire comme chez eux dans sa maison. Kirk et son grand cœur les laissent rester, même s'il y a décidément quelque chose de bizarre avec ces nouveaux félins bien trop amicaux.

À l'abri du mauvais temps et remplis de thon, Dolf et Tal sont contents d'être blottis dans la maison de Kirk. Mais ensuite, leur humain se rend à l'extérieur à la recherche de bûches pour la cheminée et fait une chute violente qui le laisse inconscient. Les deux chats n'ont plus d'autres choix que de révéler leur identité.

Kirk se réveille et découvre que les deux chats sont en réalité Dolf et Tal ; deux chats métamorphes qui sont ses partenaires destinés. Faire partie d'un trio félin est déjà suffisamment difficile à encaisser pour Kirk, mais il apprend rapidement qu'ils viennent d'un clan qui ne croit pas que les humains et les métamorphes devraient se mélanger. Kirk a conscience que ces deux chats sont sur le point de faire basculer sa vie. Cependant, il ne sait pas que les vraies difficultés se trouvent devant lui.
available in german 
28198280Buch 1 in der Serie - Fell, Fangzähne und Feliden 

Ein Schneesturm im Süden – an Silvester – das kann nur in einer Katastrophe enden. Nach zwei schweren Schicksalsschlägen wartet Kirk nun auf den dritten, als plötzlich zwei Katzen in sein Leben platzen und Schutz vor der Kälte suchen. Kirk nimmt die beiden auf, obwohl er es sich eigentlich nicht leisten kann und die Katzen sich sehr auffällig verhalten. Dolf und Tal machen es sich bei Kirk bequem. Als ihr Mensch beim Holzholen schwer stürzt und sich verletzt, haben die beiden keine andere Wahl, sie müssen offenbaren, was sie sind. 

Als Kirk aufwacht, muss er feststellen, dass er keine Katzen, sondern Katzenwandler aufgenommen hat und nicht nur das, er ist ihr Gefährte. Eine Dreierbeziehung, noch dazu mit zwei Katzenwandlern, ist schon schwierig genug, aber bald muss sich Kirk auch noch mit feindseligen Rudelmitgliedern rumärgern, die der Meinung sind, dass sich Wandler nicht mit Menschen einlassen sollten. 

Kirk hatte geahnt, dass die beiden Katzen, Dolf und Tal, Ärger bedeuten würden, aber er hat keine Ahnung, was wirklich noch auf ihn zukommen sollte.

27153448Fur, Fangs, and Felines: Book Two

A cool morning, a yard full of birds, and a kitty on a mission. What more could a werecat want? Beta Heller Wirth has it all, except a mate—a shifter mate, that is. The last thing he wants is one of those dangerous humans who kill without remorse. Heller knows about that firsthand. So what does the goddess Bast do? She gives Heller exactly what he does not want—a human: business owner Lawson Dupre.

Lawson hasn’t a clue what just happened in his car detail shop. One minute a cute client is about to pass out, and then he perks up and starts flirting. Next thing, he runs out the door like the hounds of hell are after him. Learning that Heller is a werecat doesn’t freak out Lawson. He happens to be one of those rare humans who knows paranormals exists. He even lives with one. Watch the fur fly as Heller and Lawson battle hurt feelings, misguided beliefs, and a power shift in Heller’s clowder.  
   Can two very different men find the love they need to survive?

ItTakesTwotoTangoFS3Remi Ginn’s an easygoing werecat with a love of snarky T-shirts who would be perfectly happy with a human mate. Is that what the goddess Bast gives him? Of course not. Instead she gifts him with Marshell, a Vetala: a snakelike nonshifter who drinks blood to survive. A man who’s just as toppy as Remi—and even more powerful than the West Falls Clowder’s Alpha and heir apparent.

While Remi decides whether he can handle the fates’ choice, hunters attack Marshell. In an explosion of passion, Remi and Marshell mate and Remi declares Marshell his. Now they have to figure out how to make their relationship work as they dance around each other.

The clowder is in turmoil, and Remi’s acceptance of Marshell rocks the very foundation of the insular group. The consequences will be far-reaching. And if that isn’t problem enough, the situation with the hunters is far from resolved… as the appearance of an Alpha werewolf proves.
Goodreads Link

“So where are we going?”

“Place called Seafood Palace,” Lawson said. “Name might be a little cheesy, but the food’s to die for.”

We were still on the back road that led to the main street when I noticed lights coming up behind us—coming up fast. It could be a cop, except I didn’t see any flashing lights. I didn’t like it.


“Yeah, yeah, I see it. Man, they’re flying.” Lawson kept glancing in the rearview mirror. “You buckled up?”

“Yes. You?” I checked just in case as I turned around to look out the back window.

“Always. Damn, Marshell, I don’t like this.” Lawson gripped the steering wheel. “They’re still in my lane. Shit, they’re cutting it close.”

I noticed Lawson moved his truck closer to the shoulder and slow down. I had a bad, bad feeling about this. If this was that fucking werewolf, I was going to rip his throat out if I got my hands on him. My heart rate spiked as I watched the lights getting closer. They now were practically on top of us and didn’t look like they were going around.

“Fucking hell, get ready, Lawson. They’re going to—” The headlights clipped us. Metal screeched, and I grabbed the dash.

We lurched forward with a snap, and I damn near bit my tongue off. My neck screamed, and the seatbelt tightened against me as we fishtailed. Fuck ripping the were’s throat out. I was going to rip his head off. If Lawson got hurt, Heller would likely rip my head off.

“Aw fuck!” Lawson fought the wheel, cussing a blue streak as his hands flew over it. “Shit, shit, shit, they’re coming again, the fuckers. Brace yourself!”

“Son of a bitch!” This was no kid who’d lost control or some drunk out riding around.

Whoever was behind us had used the pit maneuver. Cops often used it to shut down car chases. Had the were been a cop at some point? Maybe he still was? Then I forgot everything as the other vehicle rammed us again. This time Lawson’s truck spun completely around, and the smell of burning rubber hit me like a ton of bricks.

Lights, trees, and smoke from the tires sped past us in a crazy twirling mass. The truck slowed noticeably, then stopped. My gums tingled as my fangs dropped, and my vision dramatically sharpened, which meant my eyes had changed to that eerie blue.

Lawson’s fear soaked the truck, and that pumped my adrenaline even higher. Whoever had scared Lawson so badly was going to die a slow death by my hand. The other vehicle, nothing more than a flash of black, pulled in front of us, blocking our way. I snarled at it.

“You okay?” I yelled at Lawson, keeping an eye on the other vehicle. Lawson’s truck lights shined on the Crown Victoria. Two shadowy figures moved in the cab of the car. Two? That’s odd.

“I’m fine! Shit, Marshell. What are we going to do?”

“You still carrying that knife?”


“Good. Get it. Now!” The attackers leaped from the vehicle.

Had the werewolf brought backup? One figure was smaller than the other one, but that didn’t mean much to a shifter. That attacker approached Lawson’s side of the vehicle and struck the window with a baton.

A baton? Oh hell.

“Oh fuck,” Lawson yelled as glass shattered.

The window broke with one hit.

“Godda—” Lawson unbuckled his seatbelt, jerking away from the hands that came at him through the broken window.

A purely human scent flooded Lawson’s truck cab.

Roaring in anger, I flung my door open and jumped out. This wasn’t the werewolf who’d been stalking me. He wouldn’t be using a specially made baton with a cap on the end to break windows. He’d just yank the door off the truck or put his fist through it to get in.
MA Church Wolf 1000x1000 (2)  M.A. Church is a true Southern belle who spent many years in the elementary education sector. Now she spends her days lost in fantasy worlds, arguing with hardheaded aliens on far-off planets, herding her numerous shifters, or trying to tempt her country boys away from their fishing poles. It’s a full time job, but hey, someone’s gotta do it! When not writing, she’s on the back porch tending to the demanding wildlife around the pond in the backyard. The ducks are very outspoken. She’s married to her high school sweetheart, and they have two grown children. She was a finalist in the 2013 Rainbow Awards, runner up in the 2015 Rainbow Awards, and is a member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.


Sunday, August 28, 2016

eBook Review: Wide Open Spaces by Renee Stevens-Preorder Now!

Today I'm featuring one of Dreamspinner Press's States of Love novellas, Wide Open Spaces, set in Wyoming and written by Renee Stevens. Make sure you check out my review and the Rafflecopter contest below. (And check out the ongoing Facebook event for lots of great contests and excerpts!)

WideOpenSpaces_BT Banner


I think the first that really resonated with me when I read Wide Open Spaces was the complete agreement with small town life. I didn't grow up in Wyoming, I've never even been there, but I might as well have lived in Rock Springs. People either stick around and never leave, somehow trapped in this bubble of "hometowniness", or they flee as fast as they are able.

Like Devon, I scrambled to get out of dodge. I was different, and that wasn't something I could ever reveal there. Or, I could, but face a lot of negativity. Which, when everyone knows everyone and no one hesitates to comment on the gossip that spreads like wildfire, can be devastating.

I think that's why it was easier for me to accept Devon's hesitation when he comes face-to-face with his old boyfriend, Levi, and has to make some hard choices. He wasn't made for city life, but is he really capable of handling what living honestly as a gay man in small town can mean, no matter how beautiful and relaxing it is to have all that country surrounding him? It's a lot to consider, feelings aside, and I recommend this story to anyone who is up for the challenge!


States of Love - Wyoming

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Maria Fanning

Genre: Contemporary
35,659 Words


Amazon: US I CA I AU I UK I DE


Devon fled Wyoming as soon as he turned eighteen, leaving behind his high school love, Levi. After six years in the big city, Devon returns to his hometown. Not much has changed, except that Levi is no longer in the closet. He’s also single and living his dream—managing the local wild horse population. Both of them are very interested in picking up where they left off, but Devon is no more ready to reveal his orientation than he was as a teenager.

No one is going to shove Levi back in the closet—not even Devon. For a relationship to work, they’ll have to put the past behind them and find the courage to face the future as who they really are—a couple in love. But Devon doesn’t know if he’s strong enough. Maybe Levi would be better off without him—and his hang-ups.

States of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the United States.


Devon sank down on his couch as exhaustion swamped him. Most of it was from moving in, but the change in elevation didn’t help. He’d gotten used to being closer to sea level, so going back to the dry air at over six thousand feet was going to take some getting used to.

Bloody noses had become the norm while he stayed with Blake. Devon didn’t want to deal with them repeatedly and considered getting a humidifier until he managed to acclimate.

He looked around his living room. Boxes were scattered everywhere, and he should be unpacking, but he was too tired. At least he hadn’t had to carry everything in himself. Blake, Travis, and Seth were waiting for him when he pulled into the apartment complex. They shrugged off his objections and insisted they had nothing better to do. Devon appreciated it, but he wasn’t comfortable around them anymore. He managed to be a proper host, but damn, he was glad they left after a couple beers each. They made noise about getting together again soon, but Devon had used getting settled in as an excuse to keep from committing to anything.

He stood and wandered into his small kitchen. He didn’t bother opening the fridge or any of the cupboards. He knew they were empty. His stomach growled, reminding him he hadn’t eaten for a while. Devon dug his keys out of his pocket and headed for the door. He’d get something to eat and then maybe stop at the store to pick up a few staples. Paper plates, sandwich fixings, some chips, and he’d be good for a couple of days. At least it would give him time to get a few things—like pots and pans—unpacked. Then he could do a full grocery shop.

An hour later he was comfortably full from a greasy burger, fries, and a shake. He’d never eaten a lot of fast food, but he had few other options. He headed to Walmart, determined to stick to his list of sandwich stuff and maybe some eggs. Surely he could dig out some pans before the food expired. He headed to the chips first and scanned for the familiar bag of Cheddar and Sour Cream Ruffles. They were his all-time favorite, though he also knew he’d want something else after a day or two. So he grabbed a couple of other bags and headed for the eggs and then the freezer aisle.

Sandwiches and chips would get old fast. He found some frozen breakfast sandwiches he could microwave, tossed them in the cart, and moved on. Frozen lasagna quickly joined the few other items in his cart, followed by some potpies, a few TV dinners, and a bag of chimichangas. So what if he wasn’t sticking to his mental list?

He was more focused on getting groceries for the next few days than on the people around him.


He froze when a familiar voice spoke his name. He closed his eyes briefly, ducked his head, and steeled himself. He knew it would happen eventually, when he found out Levi still lived there. He thought he’d have more time to prepare. He swallowed—hard—and turned to face the man who had at one time meant everything to him. The man he’d risked being found out for. He lifted his head and gazed into the moss-colored eyes.



About the Author

Renee Stevens first started writing in her teens but didn’t get serious about being an author until her mid-twenties. Since then she’s written a number of contemporary stories, as well as delved into the paranormal. When not writing, or spending time in the outdoors, Renee can usually be found working on in her capacity of Admin, Blog Coordinator, and Anthology Coordinator.

Renee resides in Wyoming with her wonderfully supportive husband and a menagerie of four-legged critters. Making the most of the nearly constant negative temperatures and mounds of snow, Renee spends much of the winter months in hibernation with her laptop, the voices in her head keeping her company while her husband works.

When she needs a break from writing, Renee takes to the sewing machine to design, and make, beautiful quilts. When the snow finally disappears, usually around May or June, Renee can be found in the great-outdoors. She spends her time on the mountain, at the lake, and just anywhere that she can do some camping, take some photos, and ride the four-wheelers with her hubby. Once back at home, it’s back to writing.

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August 27th: David Dawson
August 28th: Alicia Nordwell
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August 31st *RELEASE DAY*: Mann Ramblings - Michael Mandrake
September 1st: Julie Hayes - Elyzabeth M. VaLey
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September 3rd: JC Wallace
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September 7th: Morticia Knight
September 8th: Charley Descoteaux
September 9th: Cheryl Headford
September 10th: Heloise West
September 12th: Foster Bridget Cassidy

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Wednesday Briefs: Mine! Chapter Fifteen

It's Wednesday already? How does this keep happening? Last week left us on a bit of a cliffhanger, and I think this week will go in totally unexpected directions. No prompts this week, but enjoy anyway!

Chapter 15

Roaring took over for the shout. When I burst through the door, knocking it off the top hinge so it slammed into the wall at a crooked angle, Kraig was crouched on the bed. His eyes were glowing, but there was no recognition in them. I stared in shock.

The marks on his neck and face were rippling as his muscles writhed under his skin, almost like something was trying to get out.

Lydia gasped.

“Keep her back,” I told Henry. Kraig was crouching on the bed, lowering himself. I prepared myself for his leap, but what I wasn’t prepared for was his reaction when I boxed him in with my arms.

My mate yowled and swiped at my face, his blunt claws ripping down my cheek as his back legs raked at my belly. I fell on my ass, and he sprang free, skittering down the hall to the stairs. He scrambled down them on all fours, unsteady but still fast.

“Kraig!” Henry shouted. “Stop!”

“What’s going on?” Lydia came out of the room Henry had shoved her in. “Alpha, your face.” She was staring at me, her mouth dropped open.

“I don’t know,” I said grimly. Hot blood dripped down my face, and my stomach burned when I pushed off the floor.

“Are you okay?” Henry asked.

“Not important.” Kraig wasn’t okay, and I was much more concerned about that. The front door had stopped him, stymied as if he didn’t know how to work it. Unfortunately, the living room had windows that were wide open and a screen wouldn’t deter him at all.

“Did Kraig do that?” Lydia asked Henry.

His reply was indistinct as I tuned them and focused on creeping down the stairs slowly. Kraig was slamming into the door. I must have made too much noise, and Kraig turned his head toward me. His pupils were completely blown.

“Calm down. No one is going to hurt you.” My voice didn’t help him, and he backed away. His head swiveled, and he spotted the windows.


I chuffed. Kraig froze. I did it again, keeping the sound low and soothing. He cocked his head, but wouldn’t meet my gaze. I crouched at the base of the stairs, but I didn’t go lower than him. I kept my head up, my body loose. Blood dripped on the floor and probably stained the carpet along the stairs, but I ignored the metallic tang. It wasn’t enough to be dangerous, and I’d heal.

Keeping up with the vocalizations, I approached Kraig. I keep my movements fluid, drawing on the animal soul inside me, relying on my instincts. He was my mate, and whatever was happening to him, Kraig was still in there.

Inch by inch, I drew closer. Kraig hunkered down toward the floor, keeping his head low but watching my every move. I hovered over him, my mouth open as I breathed heavily and continued to soothe him. When I brushed my uninjured cheek against his head he began to purr. I thought everything was going to be fine, but then all hell broke loose.

Henry jumped off the upstairs balcony, a blanket in his hands. Kraig snarled at the heavy thud and skittered backward. He turned toward the window and his muscles bunched. I leapt at him just as he left the ground, slamming my much bigger body into his. The corner of his head hit the end table between the chairs in the bay window, and he went limp.

I snatched him up, and his head lolled backward over my arm. Blood was oozing down his scalp, and he was out. “What the hell was that?” I roared at Henry.

“He was out of control.”

“No he wasn’t! I was in control.” I was angry and afraid. “Now he’s hurt. Call the lion pride and see if their medic will come. I promise him safe haven. I’m taking Kraig to my place.”

Ignoring my car, I loped through the woods bordering the houses along the woods, moving toward my house. Pulling Kraig closer, I murmured, “Please be okay.”

There was too much we didn’t know. Too much I shouldn’t have put off for even a day as I relished having the one man I’d always wanted in my arms. Well, he was there now, and look what I’d done to him.

The slices on my face were already closing when the medic arrived. I didn’t like the scent of the lion in my territory, much less my house, but it was what Kraig needed.

I blocked the doorway. “You do not speak of this. Your oath.”

“My Alpha....”

Contacting the other groups would have to be done, now that we knew others were involved after Ritch shared his story.

“Him you may speak with, if necessary. No one else.”

The medic, a healer with online training in modern medicine, nodded his head. He was a mid-level pride member, dominant enough to travel on his own but not so much that he would threaten group leaders.

“Those claw marks look like they weren’t too deep.”

“Check him first,” I said. My stomach burned, but I’d slapped some bandages over them. Kraig’s jaw was swollen, and he was still unconscious. Worse, the tremors under his skin, the muscles writhing and jumping, hadn’t stopped.

The medic paused beside the bed. He turned wide eyes toward me. “What is he?” Even as he asked the question, he was working. Pulling up Kraig’s eyelids, he checked his pupils.

“A doctor was experimenting with our genetics. I allowed him here, not knowing what he was doing with his samples and research. Kraig”—I swallowed roughly—“grew up here, as a human werekin. Now....”

Feeling along Kraig’s jaw, the medic checked inside as well. “He has fangs, claws, markings... not just tiger. I’ve never seen anything like him.”

Is he okay?” I asked. I’d struck my own mate, caused the livid bruise on his swollen jaw. Guilt was killing me.

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Monday, August 22, 2016

Author Interview: Mann Ramblings with Priest and Pariahs

Today I have an interview with a lovely author, Mann Ramblings, with a feature of his latest book in the Ship Logs of the Santa Claus series, Priests & Pariahs.


What do you love most about writing science fiction?
World building! I love stretching the rules of possibility inside of a framework of reality. Some writers make the mistake of not following their own plot structure religiously and it hurts their efforts. My geeky friends and I used to spend our time as teens watching movies and pointing out the plot holes and errors to each other. Even with movies we loved. So I really strive to not give readers that easy opportunity. My best example of it done right: the Harry Potter series, where from the first book, it's said no one can come back to life. And no one ever does. Ghosts haunt the school and speak to others, but no one comes back to life. Dead is dead.

For me, science fiction is the setting the story sits inside of rather than the driving force. I like to introduce the elements without making it so technical only a die-hard can appreciate it and making it plausible enough the reader isn't pulled out of the narrative. It can be a tough balance, and I hope I manage to achieve it.

If you had to only work on one writing project for the next year... what would it be?
My next WIP is a steampunk novel titled Innocence & Carnality which so far has been part of my flash fiction group, Wednesday Briefers. Writing and posting 1k a week, I've already put in almost a year on it, and I'm about halfway through the first draft in the process. (It's a big one.) I'm just gearing up after a break to start hashing out the rest. Not at 1k a week. I'm hoping to get the manuscript submitted by the fall. There's a lot of rework to fix the pacing out of the 1k scenes, but I'm looking forward to it. I've stayed really excited about the story even with the extended writing phase. I'll be sure to let people know when I get closer to the end.

Do you have any of your books represented in your tattoos?
Why yes, now that you mention it. Anyone who's spent any amount of time talking to me knows of my passion for tattoos. (Some ad nauseam, no doubt.) I love all my ink. I designed each one and plan on getting more once I pay some of it off my Visa card. In the meantime, I need to get back in to the gym before I ruin the canvas. LOL

On the inside of my right arm sleeve I have the title logo from The Luxorian Fugitive. It was a present from my tattoo artist for getting my first publishing contract. I also have plans for getting the ship's logo that appears on all the covers and title pages, Santa Claus Express, (a not-so-subtle nod to the show Futurama) but I can't decide just where to place it yet. Maybe on my back just below the neckline....
Do you have a favorite quote from Priest and Pariahs?
Oh, man that a tough one. Writing Costa's dialogue was the most fun for me. I wanted his speech and phrasing to distinctly British, so when I first wrote Priest & Pariahs, I had my dear friend, member Never Surrender, beta-read the chapter with a focus on helping me revise his speech patterns into something genuine. The whole process helped me hone his sharp wit and other characteristics. I love all of his lines, such as this bit from chapter one as Costa talks to a young boy who's hitting on him after awaking from cryo-sleep. The line underscores Costa's unforgiving nature to the intolerant and alludes to the new adventure about to begin.

You should get back to your bigoted little family,” he said, dismissing the boy. “Run along. We all have new lives to start.”

Where does the crew of the Santa Claus go from here?
Whether by accident or design, I've left multiple avenues to take for future stories. When I designed the Santa Claus, I deliberately didn't introduce the entire crew to give me some flexibility for the future. A lot of people's stories haven't been touched on and others haven't been 100% completed. James and Barrus are in limbo, and I'd like to see what Dante is capable of, just to name a few.

I can think of two different storylines I'd like to write that don't really intertwine, so that would potentially create at least two more books just off the top of my head. Nothing's solid yet. Once I finish my current WIP, I'll start deciding what will be next and go from there. So far, all the stories have been one-offs, but sometimes I'd like to try for a multi-book epic saga. It's always a hard choice. I have so many ideas....

Synopsis – Priest and Pariahs

Ship Logs of the Santa Claus, Book Three
Costa McQuillen is a Pariah, a para-human with tech empathic abilities who has escaped from Earth, where being para-human is illegal—and marks him for extermination. Arrogant and standoffish, Costa is unable to trust anyone, but is willing to risk everyone’s safety to reach the planet Omoikane. His best solution: gaining passage on board the Santa Claus.
Arbor Kittering, the crew’s newest coding tech, is a medical oddity. With the technologies available to prevent birth defects, Arbor’s status as a dwarf brings the kind of attention he could happily do without. Having spent a short time in prison for data hacking and falsifying government files doesn’t help. The Santa Claus is his last chance at a new start, if he can decipher the strange malfunctions plaguing the ship.
Priest, the Santa Claus’ Head Pilot, is a bit of a scoundrel. Perpetually single, Priest is attracted to Costa for his exotic looks, and to Arbor for his unique qualities. In truth, he’d like to have both, but it’s clear such a thing isn’t in the cards. Now Priest needs to make a choice, before it’s too late.

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THE DARKNESS REMINDED him somehow of an unborn child, floating weightless, enveloped by warmth. What would anyone give to fall back into such a simple existence, removed of all need beyond instinctual thought? What a fortunate nine months it would be. What a wonderful life, sleeping and cared for inside the womb, never requiring a voice. All before anyone could teach a soul to love or hate, or something or someone was unwanted.
Is that what was happening here? Had he somehow regressed back before his own infancy? The pangs of jealousy he was experiencing told him no. Sadly, no.
He felt like he’d been slumbering for such a long time, and very, very slowly he was starting to wake. Threads of logical coherence began to tickle his thoughts in the dark. It was not a welcome sensation and he fought to avoid it. Why couldn’t he go back into the lovely silence?
Envy for the ignorance of the unborn rolled through him. How unfair it was to have the innocence of being sequestered and never hearing the taunts of children or comprehending the cries of the intolerant taken away from him. If only he had never heard slurs of hatred or understood what defined a second-class citizen.
What was that sound? Could it be a faint heartbeat in the distant void? It sounded brash and unnatural, refusing to lull him back to sleep like the soothing cadence of a mother’s pulse.
Like a child, he wanted nothing more than to stay safe and warm, but like in every instance, someone always forced a person into the painful light and cold of reality. The darkness parted above him with a soft mechanical hiss. The warmth bled away, making him want to cry.
Daring to open his foggy eyes, he squinted in the artificial light. A woman in a white coat hovered over him.
“Welcome back to the real world,” she said. “Can you tell me your name?”

Book Trailer

Start with Books One and Two of Ship Logs of the Santa Claus!

The Luxorian Fugitive

Sergeant Liam Jacks is the security chief of transport vessel, The Santa Claus. He travels the planetary cluster with Marc Danverse, his best friend and captain, seeking to escape his tortured past and find some peace of mind.
Having been through a civil war together, Danverse and Liam are close. Maybe too close….
All that changes when mysterious stranger, Hadrian Jamison, an escaped Adonirati, books passage to Alpha Centauri. Can he be trusted? Can the stories of his past be believed?
As Liam’s fascination with Hadrian grows, jealousy threatens to tear apart his friendship with Danverse.
When Hadrian’s owner shows up, Liam is forced to go against orders in order to launch a rescue mission to save him.
The ensuing conflict may be more than any of them expected.
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A Cook’s Tale

 The trials and tribulations of the crew and passengers of interplanetary transport vessel, The Santa Claus continues in A Cook’s Tale.
After a horrific breakup, Erron Murfin is bitter, homeless, and friendless. When the cook’s position on the Santa Claus presents itself, Erron decides to escape his current circumstances and join the crew. On board he reconnects with family friend Gamin Wells, whose own secrets and issues begin to surface upon Erron’s arrival. The least of which is the reason the pair haven’t laid eyes on one another in over twelve years.
As Erron settles into his new duties, the men on board take an interest in their newest crew member. Among those intrigued by Erron are polyamorous couple, Barrus and James. Despite Erron’s cautious nature, he’s drawn into a triad relationship with the pair.
But there’s something about Gamin…
Is Erron too damaged to confront his own feelings?
Will his past prevent him from finding what he needs?
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About the Author

Like many gay men, when Mann Ramblings grew up, there weren’t any heroes he could relate to. The world held him back while he tried futilely to hide the real person inside. So much has changed since those hollow days. He finally found his voice, the voice that says it’s all right to revel in the so-called inappropriate joys, laughs, and loves that storm inside a man’s head. It took a long time to find that courage and now that it’s here, he plans to use it well.

While spending years more focused on visual arts, he never let go of his innate passion for storytelling—he wanted to write and draw comic books when he grew up. Once he discovered M/M fiction, a whole new world opened with new possibilities. Why couldn’t you have fantastic and dynamic tales with an M/M cast? He started reading the online tales of authors like, Night Tempest, Rob Colton, and Alicia Nordwell, which only fueled within him the need to create. Eventually he found, and with a little coercive nudge from Night Tempest, started sharing his tales with an unexpected level of positive response. That experience and support gave him the courage to cross his fingers and aim for the world of M/M publishing.

Born and raised in Michigan, Mann Ramblings continues to type away, wishing it was practical to use a noisy, old fashioned keyboard that clacks with each strike, if only to annoy his loving partner and spoiled miniature dachshund.

Twitter: @mannramblings

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Wednesday Briefs: Mine! Chapter Fourteen

Yet another week and more flash fiction to share! This week's flash was inspired by the prompt: "Follow me. Quick."

Chapter Fourteen

“Are you sure you’re okay with this?” I asked. “We haven’t been apart since I found you.”

“I’ll be with my parents.” Kraig sounded confident, but he was tapping his claws against his leg. “You go be the alpha.”

“Do I have to?” Clearly I was having a much harder time with the impending separation than Kraig was. My face heated.

Kraig snickered. “I won’t tell anyone you just whined like a five-year-old.”

“Thanks.” I glanced over my shoulder. His parents didn’t live that far away, but Kraig wasn’t up to walking any distance so they left together to get the car. “Follow me, quick.”

“What? Where are we going?” Kraig got up and followed me inside.

“Not far.” I shut the door and pushed him up against it. My instincts were screaming at me to refresh my scent so no one would be able to miss who Kraig belonged to, and I needed his scent on me just as much. Our bodies fit together just like I knew they always would; I leaned down and pressed my cheek against his, enjoying the way our stubble rasped together. 


I ripped my shirt over my head and then yanked his up to his armpits.


“Shh.” I pressed our chests together, and he sucked in a ragged breath.

Kraig rubbed his cheek against mine, and then pulled his head back. “My parents.”

“Don’t worry. Not starting something we can’t finish. Just need this.” I was tempted by his soft lips, but I didn’t want to break my word. I rubbed one hand up and down his back. His skin heated. Dragging my nose along his neck, I took a deep breath of his scent and relished the way it mixed with mine.

He began to purr, the vibration making me far too interested in things I’d promised him I wasn’t going to start. Car tires ground against the gravel driveway, and I sighed. “Your parents are back.”

I didn’t want to let him go, and Kraig had to be the one to step back. He pulled his shirt down, and then bent over and picked mine up. “Here.” Once I had it on, he smoothed it down. “It won’t be too long.” He pulled my head down for a quick kiss.

Outside again, I stood at the foot of the stairs as Kraig got into the backseat. Henry gave me a somber nod. He’d protect his son, not just because he was the alpha’s mate, but because he loved Kraig no matter what had happened to him.

At first, it’d been strange for older members of the streak to come to me for advice, but I’d spent enough time at my father’s side to fake it until I became more confident in leading. It came naturally now, and I didn’t waste any time making judgements as I visited the people I considered mine. We were a prosperous group overall, and major conflicts were rare. That was a good thing because I couldn’t settle and focus like usual.

“Are you okay, Alpha?” Bethany asked. “Can I get you a drink?”

My skin was crawling, and the hairs on the back of my neck were up. I rubbed a hand over my hair, and Bethany and her partner both flicked glances at my nearly bare head and then looked anywhere else. “No, thank you. I understand you want to organize the gathering this fall?”

“Yes. The summer gathering was great, but Cassidy and Owen are expecting, as I’m sure you know.”

That had been my last stop, and I’d given them my sincerest congratulations. Every birth was precious, and helped our group grow. Plus, I was good friends with Owen since he was only four years older than me. “Yes, they mentioned they would be taking a step back. I’m happy you’re willing to volunteer. It can be a lot of work, and I know you have the twins.”

Zoe waved a hand. “They’re not so hard to take care of now that they’re back in school. We’ll do the planning during summer break and then do the actual work when they’re in class with the other streak children.”

“You’re not teaching this year?” I asked her.

“No. My part-time medical transcription job has been upped to full-time, so I’m not going to have any free mornings.”

I made a note to check in with the organizers of the streak’s homeschool classes. Maybe that would be something Kraig could do, if he was up to it by then. Just a single thought of my mate sent an ache through my heart. My stomach flipped.

“I’m sorry, but I have to go. Thank you again for volunteering to organize the gathering, and let me know if there is anything you need from me.” I stood and barely handled the brushing of their skin against mine as we touched.

Maybe that was it. The many scents of the streak members who all wanted a touch overlaid the scent of my mate. It’d been two hours, and I’d planned on doing a few personal errands too. Not going to happen.

Heading out, I drove a little faster than I should. I needed Kraig, and the longer we were apart, the worse I felt. Was something wrong? I parked crookedly and slammed my door behind me. I was running by the time I hit the front door and burst into the living room.

“Deke? What’s wrong?”

Henry stood up and flexed his fingers, claws popping out from the tips. He stood in front of Lydia. Kraig was nowhere to be seen.

“Where is he? You promised to keep him safe,” I hissed.

“Kraig?” Lydia pushed Henry. “He’s upstairs sleeping. What’s wrong?”

I tried to calm my breathing. “Nothing... Everything.”

My skin was crawling, like it would split open. A hoarse shout broke the tense tableau. Kraig!

Our souls had bonded, and this was the echo I’d heard about. I pounded up the stairs to his room.


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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Wednesday Briefs: Mine! Chapter 13

Here we go again... it's Wednesday! This week's flash piece was inspired by the prompt: "Just hold me. Please." Enjoy!!

Chapter Thirteen

The front door opened behind me. I’d been so focused on Ritch, assessing the danger he posed to the streak and my mate, that I didn’t even hear Kraig moving around in the house. He was pale, his expression stricken. He had to have heard Ritch. I half-turned, refusing to turn my back on Ritch even with Deke at his back.

Kraig clutched the door like it was holding him up. “I know. I know what happened to Danny.”

Pain and fear spread through the air, the acrid odors coming from Kraig. I rushed up the stairs to him, needing to banish those scents. I was careful as I wrapped my arms around Kraig and pulled him close. He shook as he wrapped his arms around my waist and fisted his hands in my shirt.

A single footstep on the wooden steps sent my protective stance into overdrive again. I snarled, glaring over my shoulder as I gently pushed Kraig down into a chair. “Stay back.”

Deke had his hand on Ritch’s shoulder, pulling him back. “They’re newly blooded,” he whispered. “Don’t stare.”

“But...” Ritch stretched out one trembling hand. “He looks like....”

“A tiger and a cheetah,” Kraig said bitterly. “A freak.”

Ritch shook his head. “You were... but you look like him. That pattern on your neck. And the lines on your muzzle. I saw a picture of his mate once.” He dropped his hand. “How is this possible?” he whispered.

“Danny was in another cage when I woke up in mine. They did things to him and me. Then, one day, they... they....” Kraig broke off, choking on the words.

“Shh.” I dropped to my knees beside him and ran my hand over the short bristles of his mane. “It’s okay.”  The submissive posture grated on my instincts, but I wasn’t going to move away from my mate, and I wasn’t going to make him say it. “Once Kraig was a human werekin like you. What we do know is that your cousin and his mate were both experimented on by the doctor you mentioned. He also experimented on others, but somehow—we don’t know how yet—he transferred their bonded werekin souls into Kraig.”

Tears overflowed and ran down Ritch’s cheeks. He shook his head, working his jaw. “They’re dead, aren’t they?” He curled his hands into fists. “I failed.”

“If you failed, then so did I. Kraig was gone for two years. We thought he died. I let that doctor into my territory and allowed him access to my streak.”

Kraig grabbed my hand and squeezed it. “You didn’t know.”

“But I should have. My gut told me something was wrong about him. Look at what he did to you.”

“This was done before he brought us here. You couldn’t have stopped it.”

Ritch turned away. “Maybe if I’d said something when he first disappeared. Maybe gone to the Alpha.”

Park broke his silence. “You can’t live your life constantly thinking maybe. Come on.” He pulled Ritch back. “We’re going back to my place,” he told me.

I nodded my permission. “We’ll talk later.”

When they were gone, I focused all of my attention on Kraig. He was wiping away tears, and he looked exhausted. “This was too much. Let’s go back to bed.” He wouldn’t let me carry him, but I supported Kraig up the stairs.

“What do you need?” I asked.

“Just hold me. Please.”

We’d skipped dinner, and Lydia called me on it. “How is he supposed to heal if you don’t feed him?”

“Mom, I’m okay. I needed sleep more than I needed to eat. Besides, I’m healing fine.” The bone-deep slice in his wrist was a red line, still raw, but completely closed. Two days wasn’t going to be enough to take away the dark circles under his eyes or hide the way his clothes hung off his downright skinny frame.

She shoveled a few more sausages onto his plate.

“Besides, you’re going to make my stomach explode.” She sniffed, but finally put the pan in the sink. I nabbed two of the three sausages off Kraig’s plate and stuffed them in my mouth, and he mouthed, “Thank you.”

I smirked. “I’d hate to see you explode. Ow!”

Lydia had smacked me on the back of the head. She sat down in a chair next to Kraig’s dad and picked up her fork. “No innuendo at the table.”


“Don’t even try it.” She raised that eyebrow, and I clamped my lips shut around what I wanted to say. It’d been so long since she was like this, back to the woman who’d kept in line before I became the leader of our streak. “Sorry.”

Clinking of forks and sounds of enjoyment dominated the morning quiet. “What do you have planned for today, Deke?” Henry asked.

“I have a few issues to adjudicate, so I was going to drive over to a few streak member’s houses.”

“They aren’t coming here?” Kraig cocked his head to the side. “They always did before.”

“Right now’s not the best time to have additional scents in my home.” My rooms were inundated with my scent and his mom’s dominated the kitchen. There weren’t a lot of scents that suck around since the streak members visited briefly, no more than a few hours at a time, if that. I needed his scent mingled with mine or my instincts would ensure I drove everyone else out, if Kraig didn’t do it first.


Henry cleared his throat. “Would you like Kraig to come home with us while you’re out?”

“If he wants to.” I wasn’t going to make his decisions for him again.

Lydia froze.

“Of course I do. Park still lives there, right?”

“No, he has his own place now. But your room is just how you left it.” Lydia cleared her throat.


“I couldn’t bear to change it.” Lydia blinked. “It was the last piece we had of you.”

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