Tali Spencer and buddy novels!

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Hey Buddy!

When I sat down to write Thick as Thieves, I introduced one character and immediately added another. From the moment in the third paragraph when my characters started interacting, I knew I had a buddy novel on my hands. What fun!

Buddy novels are great because they’re all about the couple. That’s right, the team. First and foremost, the buddy novel examines friendship, not romance. That’s not to say romance can’t brew between buddies. Thick as Thieves is a romance in the making—a bromance really—a rough and tumble sword and sorcery tale wherein the main characters navigate a friendship that starts with an explosive kiss and goes downhill from there.

Fantasy, of course, allows for great fun bending the genre. Because of a misadventure with a unicorn horn, Vorgell the giant barbarian wants sex constantly. It’s never far from his mind and his relationship with sex is absolutely straightforward: he likes it. He wants it. Now would be nice. When he’s thrown into a cell with a good-looking young man, his enchantment expands into full-blown lust at first sight.

The object of his desire? Madd, a pretty male witch. Madd may be fetching, but sex is the last thing the imprisoned thief wants, especially from Vorgell. That’s established on the first page. So what brings these men together?

The glue of every buddy film: They need each other. Whether or not they end up in bed together, they need each other to survive. They fight common foes, become buddies, and stand together against the world.

Men have been buddies in literature for as long as there’s been literature. The epic of Gilgamesh celebrates a profound male friendship. One of the classic, albeit tragic, buddy stories in modern English is Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. This spare novella features Lenny, a mentally challenged giant, and George, his smart but physically less intimidating friend. Another famed pair is Fafhrd the crafty barbarian and the Gray Mouser, his nimble friend, thieves who share numerous adventures in a series of fantasy novels penned by Fritz Lieber. I discuss this pair at greater length elsewhere. But it’s notable that these tales pair a small man and a bigger one.

Whatever the genre, buddy stories love to team up dissimilar characters. A famous buddy pair from TV appears in the 60s show I Spy, which featured a black and white pair that was groundbreaking for times: Alexander (played by Bill Cosby) and Kelly (played by Robert Culp) pose as tennis players who in reality are international spies. Something more modern? How about Person of Interest? Mysterious, physically weak genius Finch joins forces with Reese, a smooth former covert agent who can single-handedly take down armies. Together they prove two will always be better than one.

The buddy set up works by making the friendship the primary thing holding the characters together. They aren’t bound by family, culture, physical similarity, or even sex necessarily. What binds them together is… each other. Buddies are loyal to each other beyond governments, villains, social constraints, or whatever romances they might have with other people.

And if their romance is with each other? Watch out. Getting buddies into bed is what slash fan fiction is all about.

Blurb:

After Vorgell the barbarian fucks himself with a unicorn horn, he ends up in a cell with Maddog, a pretty young thief. It’s lust at first sight for Vorgell—but honestly, he can’t help it. Unicorn horn is a potent aphrodisiac, and now he can’t stop thinking about sex. Luckily, Madd is one male witch who knows how to put Vorgell’s new magical body to good use when he tricks Vorgell into a kiss that helps them escape.

Vorgell may desire sex in general—and Madd in particular—but Madd has no intention of being screwed by a man twice his size. He has problems of his own, including an enchanted collar that causes him to desire his most hated enemy. He wants that collar off as soon as possible, but that requires stealing a basilisk egg from the castle they just escaped.

Drawn together by lust and magic, the two men join forces and soon find themselves up to their necks in witches, wizards, and trouble. Vorgell and Madd might just be perfect for each other, but first they have to survive long enough to find out.

Links:

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4002

Excerpt:

Their reward from Thencu purchased a closet of a room slapped up against the back of a completely disreputable tavern. It was better than sleeping on the street, but just barely. The only things in the room’s favor were a silent owner and easy access to ale.

“We’re partners, get it?” Madd was determined to firm up his bargain with Vorgell. Clad in just purchased clothing, complete with cuffed boots and a couple of leather straps to augment his already mighty chest, the big man looked almost handsome despite the lustful glint in his leer. “Here and there I’ll suck your dick, but just for the magic.”

“I don’t know if I’m happy with that.” Vorgell awarded him a lopsided and slightly inebriated smile.

“What’s the problem? It’s not like you won’t get off on it.”

“But I expect more from my boys.”

If Madd clenched his teeth any harder, he would break them. “First off, I’m not your boy. I’m no one’s boy. And you are not my master.”

“But you’re trying to be mine. Setting rules. I don’t like rules. Rules are just a way for some men to impose their wills on other men.”

“Fine, be an anarchist. But your anarchy stops within an arm’s length of my skin. I’ll suck you for magic, or if I’m feeling in the mood for it… but not just because you have a perpetual hard-on.”

“Fine for you, but what about me? Shouldn’t I get something from our partnership?”

“Like what?”

Vorgell grinned. “I like to kiss. And snuggle.”

Madd considered. The man really couldn’t help thinking about sex, but there was a chance Madd could help him control it. Being partners in survival with an overgrown barbarian was certain to involve negotiations. “No kissing. But I might snuggle,” he conceded. “If it’s cold.”

“Fair enough.” Vorgell yawned and stretched out on his blanket. He was too long for the bed, so was making do with the floor. “I’m sleepy.”

Madd waited until the big man was snoring before he placed his own head on the pillow. He could barely believe his luck had actually—for once—taken a turn for the better, but maybe it really had this time. Maybe Vorgell could be trusted. Maybe between the two of them, they could both stay alive.

Author:

Tali Spencer fell in love with writing at an early age and never stopped. Thanks to a restless father, she grew up as a bit of a nomad and still loves to travel whenever she can. Her longest stint in one place was Milwaukee where she went to college and enjoyed a series of interesting careers including respiratory therapist, airport executive, and raising three surprisingly well-adjusted sons. She later married her true love and put down new roots in Philadelphia, where she lives in an ongoing Italian American family sitcom. At least she’s learned how make good pasta. When not writing, Tali reads everything from sweet goofy romances to Lebanese cookbooks, manages her fantasy football team—go Gekkos!—and takes long walks with her loving, if slightly neurotic, poodle.

Visit Tali’s blog at http://talismania-brilliantdisguise.blogspot.com
E-mail: tali.spencer1@gmail.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tali.spencer
Twitter: @tali_spencer

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M.A. Church and Pure

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Morpheus, god of dreams

Hey, everyone! Pure is the final book in The Gods series and has been released as of June 12th by Dreamspinner. This is a series about love, gods, and the issues all three couples in it face.

Book three is about Zygi and Mo, otherwise known as Morpheus, god of dreams. Zygi is a dom who is tired of the endless scenes. Mo is a sweet, shy god who wants nothing more than to be loved for who he is.

While the couple battle through several issues, there are Zeus and Ares, both of whom have their own reasons to break up the couple … and things come to a head in the worst way. Can Zygi accept the god of dreams? Or will he turn his back on the lovable Morpheus?

According to Greek mythology, who was Morpheus?
Morpheus was one of the primeval gods, descended from Nyx, the dark goddess of night who was the mother of everything mysterious and anything that was inexplicable—such as death, disease, dreams, ghosts, dreams, witchcraft, and enchantments. The drug Morphine which, as a side effect, can cause hallucinations, was named after Morpheus. Morpheus was the eldest son of Hypnos, the God of sleep. Morpheus had the ability to take on the appearance of a mortal in dreams. He was the god who relayed messages from the gods and prophecies of the future.

Symbols of Morpheus
The symbols of Morpheus were wings and poppies. These are often featured in depictions of the god of dreams. According to Greek mythology, there was a garden of poppies at the entrance of his palace in the Underworld. Poppies symbolized death, eternal sleep, and oblivion. The hypnotic properties of the poppy plant have long been used to treat insomnia, allowing sleep to people who have trouble sleeping.

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Zygi Wyatt is an intimidating dom, but he yearns for love just like the next man. However, finding a partner who isn’t scared of his size is no easy task. The easygoing Mo seems like the answer to his prayers.

Love is the stuff of dreams. Ask the god Morpheus—he knows all about it. Mo wants Zygi in a forever kind of way, but he has to be sure of Zygi’s love before he claims him for his mate and reveals his true self.

Unfortunately, Zeus is growing increasingly unhappy with Morpheus, and Ares is determined to throw a monkey wrench into everything. Zygi and Mo will have to brave the wrath of the gods to make their dreams come true.

Buy link: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3886

Excerpt:

“Zygi.” Mo was breathing heavily. “Can we go, please?”

“Where do you want to go?”

Heavy-eyed and breathless, Mo struggled to speak. “My place, your place—I don’t care. I just want to go… somewhere private. Can we go to your home? Can we do that?”

“Look at me,” Zygi demanded, his voice low. “What exactly are you saying? I need to be absolutely sure I know what you want. Are you asking me to take you to bed?”

“I—I… can we just play? Explore some more? Please?”

“But not go all the way, right? You’re not ready to fuck.”

Mo wanted to beat his head against the thick ice table. He couldn’t go to bed with Zygi until the man knew who Mo was. He wouldn’t give his virginity to anyone but his mate. Zygi had to know, to understand that, before Mo went to bed with him. Zygi would need to claim him when he made love to him that first time. He needed Zygi to look in his eyes and say the words “mine” as his dick traveled up his channel.

“I’m sorry, Zygi, I’m not—I’m not ready, yet. But I want you to take me to bed, that awesome bed of yours, and play.”

Zygi set a new record getting their heavy coats off and pulling Mo out of the bar. Mo was impressed. He had no idea such a big man could move so fast. In no time flat, Zygi had him in his truck, buckled in, and on the way to the casino. The drive was silent except for a few moans from Mo. Once Zygi parked, Mo scrambled out of the truck. Zygi waited for him, and they walked to the elevator together. As soon as the door slid shut, Zygi pulled the remote from his pocket and held it up for Mo to see. Zygi made Mo watch as the remote was switched on low again. With a soft gasp, Mo grabbed hold of the railing and shot Zygi a desperate look.

Zygi kept the vibrations on low so Mo could handle it, but Mo still watched the floors change with an urgency that had Zygi chuckling. After a few seconds, he shut the plug off, and Mo sighed. As soon as they were through the front door of his penthouse, Zygi guided Mo straight back to the bedroom with a persistent hand to his back. As they walked through the bedroom door, Zygi turned the plug on to a higher setting.

“You remember your safewords?”

“Aaah, yes. ‘Yellow’ to slow down and ‘red’ to stop.” Mo jerked from the vibrations.

“Right. Use them only if you need to.” Zygi laid the remote on a nearby table. “Strip, now.”

M.A. Church lives in the southern United States and spent many years in the elementary education sector. She is married to her high school sweetheart and they have two children. Her hobbies are gardening, walking, attending flea markets, watching professional football, racing, and spending time with her family on the lake.

But her most beloved hobby is reading. From an early age, she can remember hunting for books at the library. Later nonhuman and science fiction genres captured her attention and drew her into the worlds the authors had created. But always at the back of her mind was the thought that one day, when the kids were older and she had more time, she would write a book.

By sheer chance she stumbled across a gay male romance story on the web and was hooked. A new world opened up and she fell in love. Thus the journey started. When not writing or researching, she enjoys reading the latest erotic and mainstream romance novels.

Links:

Blog http://machurch00.blogspot.com

Twitter @nomoretears00

Facebook: M.A. Church http://www.facebook.com/pages/MA-Chur…

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5141393.M_A_Church

Anne Barwell and Cliffhangers

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 I’m so excited to have Anne Barwell here for a visit! Welcome!

Anne is here to share some thoughts on cliffhangers today, and she will share an excerpt from her novel A Knight to Remember.

 Cliffhangers:

A lot of the TV shows I’m following have finished their current seasons with cliffhangers. When I’ve grumbled about it the most common response has been “well, that’s what you do.”

Well, yes. It is the way I roll. But in my defence when I write cliffhangers, I know what happens next, and I tend to finish chapters or scenes with them, not a book where you have to wait for the sequel to find out what happens next.  Or a TV series so the viewer has to wait months for the conclusion.

But why write cliffhangers, and what’s the point of them?  That’s easy. As a reader they make me want to keep reading, because I need to find out what happens next. As a writer, I want to leave my readers turning the pages of my story, so finishing a chapter with our heroes surrounded by bad guys, or losing consciousness will hopefully do that just.

Not that I would do that to my characters, of course. Hmm, actually I did both of those in my new release A Knight to Remember.  But it could have been worse, I could have had both happen in the same cliffhanger – oh wait that’s the chapter I’ve just finished in my current WIP.

Cliffhangers are also good for pacing, and keeping the story moving along, especially when writing an action drama. It doesn’t have to be as dramatic as the scenarios I’ve described, but anything that keeps the reader wanting more is a good thing.

In saying that, though, there is such a thing as overkill. Everything in moderation and all that.  As a reader if all I’m reading is a series of cliffhangers, it can get old very quickly. Not only that, but the poor characters need a break. It’s not good to throw bad stuff at them all the time; they also need some quality time to grow as individuals and within whatever relationship they’re in, whether it be romantic or a strong friendship.  Life isn’t all action, and some reflection or realisation of what happened is also an important part of storytelling.  For example character A might be struggling with growing feelings for character B, with realisation that this is really is love when he throws himself in front of something nasty to save the guy he’s fallen for.  But, they also need time for talk through the consequences of their actions and the way they feel. Perhaps character B has responsibilities he can’t really shirk, or so character A thinks.  Or those presumptions could be entirely wrong. They’re never going to find out either way if they’ve not given the opportunity to do so.

I want to write characters who are three dimensional and realistic, not stereotypical paper-cut-outs who run from one crisis to another.  If the experiences my characters through within a story result in them growing as a person and reconsidering who they are and what they want out of life, then I’ve done my job as a writer.  Sometimes that growth is major, sometimes it’s not, but that doesn’t mean either is less valuable than the other.

It’s all about balance, not just for the story but for the characters too.  I also prefer my cliffhangers a bit further into the story, as it gives the characters a bit of time to get to know and care about each other. If characters don’t care what happens to other characters why should the readers?

But then as it gets to the last few chapters, all gloves are off. By this stage all the set up should be in place both for character and plot. This is my favourite part when I’m writing.  I can feel the pace pick up and the last few chapters usually write themselves very quickly.  It’s also when my characters start to get pushy and I know I need to put aside some quality writing time. After all there’s no point to cliffhangers if they’re not resolved, and I do believe in giving my characters a happy ending, even if they do have to work for it.

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“The last of your line will be in the embrace of a dragon.”

Aric, Crown Prince of Astria, has been brought up to believe that all dragons are evil. But when he speaks with one, he finds himself questioning those beliefs. The dragon tells him to find a sword in Sherwin Forest to save not only his kingdom but also his sister, Georgia, who must otherwise wed the prince of a neighboring kingdom.

At the start of his quest, Aric dons a disguise and meets Denys, an archer and herbalist who lives alone at the edge of the forest. Denys agrees to guide Aric into the forest, but then Georgia appears, revealing Aric’s true identity.

However Aric learns he is not the only one keeping secrets. Denys has a few of his own that could change both of their lives forever.

Buy link:

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3954&cPath=426

Excerpt:

As soon as Aric reached the trees, Denys began to run, only pausing at intervals to rest his hand against a tree and to wait for Aric to catch up. Despite the dense undergrowth Aric had noticed earlier, their path remained clear so they didn’t have to break their speed.

Aric’s heart was pounding, his breathing labored. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d had a workout such as this. He’d relied on his horse for far too long. There was something to be said for traveling like this, though; it brought with it a sense of freedom, of being one with his surroundings that he’d never felt before. Part of him wished it could go on forever, but his body protested the thought.

He gritted his teeth, determined to keep up and not show any weakness.

Finally Denys came to a halt. Aric stood, his hands on his knees, breathing heavily. Denys retrieved his water bladder and drank deeply. His skin was flushed, but that was the only outward sign of his recent intense physical activity.

“We need to rest for a few minutes.” Denys shook his head. “The men have divided into two groups. We have shaken the first but the second will be upon us as soon as we leave the forest.” His expression was grim. “You can surrender if you wish, but I’d prefer not to. I have heard stories of these men. Even if they are directed to bring us in alive, most of their prisoners arrive at their destination very much the worse for wear, and that’s if they’re lucky.”

Aric wiped water from his mouth with the back of his hand. He lowered his water bladder. Could this Morwenna know about his quest? Was she working for King Malachite? It was the only thing Aric could think of that made sense. If that were the case, telling these men he was Prince Brandric of Astria, and showing them the crest he carried as proof, would not deter them from doing what they’d been paid to do. From what he’d overheard, King Malachite wanted to invade Astria. The sword had the potential to be a powerful weapon in the hands of whoever wielded it. If Astria possessed it, it would give her the means to protect herself from Logan. But if Logan’s king got hold of the sword first, there was the chance it would provide a magical advantage Astria had no hope of defeating.

According to legend the sword also had the means to unite kingdoms and bring peace to the land. Naturally, as seemed to be the way of legends, it wasn’t very clear as to how it could be used to accomplish that goal. It was just as vague as the dragon prophecy that had haunted his family for generations. The price for peace achieved through a bloody war could be a harsh one, especially if it resulted in a king such as Malachite upon the throne.

“Perhaps you are right, and whoever these men are working for know we are looking for the sword.” Aric met Denys’s gaze directly. “Who I am does not appear to matter to them.” Otherwise why bring down the wrath of Astria by killing its prince? If they knew about the sword, they would know who Aric was. Wouldn’t they? But how had they found out about the quest? Georgia wouldn’t have said anything, and the dragon…. The dragon was an unknown factor in all of this. Even so, Aric knew his trust in it was not misplaced. It? Him? It had sounded male, but who knew if that meant anything. There was so much he didn’t know about this, and that in itself did not bode well.

Denys raised an eyebrow, but Aric smiled thinly. “We fight,” he told Denys, “and then I’ll tell you everything I can about what you want to know.”

Bio:

Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand.  She shares her home with two cats who are convinced that the house is run to suit them; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date it appears as though the cats may be winning.

In 2008 she completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra.

She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth.

Links:

http://anne-barwell.livejournal.com/

http://annebarwell.wordpress.com/

http://coffeeunicorns.wordpress.com/

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/index.php?cPath=55_426