Tuesday Guest Tickle: Grenzen by Chris McHart

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Publisher: MLR-Press
Length: 24000 words
Genre: Contemporary, BDSM, Holiday, Outside US



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What’s it about?
When work requires Ryan to leave behind warm and sunny Arizona for cold and snowy Germany, he decides to visit the famous Nuremberg Christmas Market where he meets sexy Julian.

But Julian isn’t an average guy, he’s a Dom. And he wants Ryan to be his sub.
That’s something Ryan has dreamt of, but never admitted to anyone, not even himself. With Julian it suddenly becomes possible.

But what happens once Ryan has to go home, especially since he’s developing feelings for Julian?

There isn’t a future for a relationship if you’re half a world apart…

A sneak Peek…

Julian rested his hand on the small of my back, guiding me gently through the night. It was well past midnight, and the streets were mostly empty. Neither of us had spoken about how this night would end. After the comment about me getting on my knees, I seriously doubted I’d be sleeping alone tonight. I wanted him, but how should I ask him to spend the night with me?

Taking my hand again, Julian pulled me to a stop. Was he going to ask about coming home with him, now? My heartbeat sped up, I wanted to say, yes, of course I want to.
“You’re staying at a hotel, right? Can I walk you there?”

So he wanted to come to my hotel. That was fine, too. As long as I got him inside me soon, I was okay with almost anything. I told him where I was staying, and we slowly walked there.

“Do you want to meet again? Tomorrow, maybe?”

Who is this Chris McHart, anyway?

Chris McHart is from Germany and while an accountant, writing is Chris’s real passion. Chris likes to spend time with family and has way too many animals that demand constant attention. Chris also enjoys landscaping and cooking.

Whenever Chris has a free minute, it’s spent writing on a laptop, a cup of coffee in hand, deeply lost in the world Chris’s muses have created.

When coming up for some air, you’ll find Chris on a lot of social networks. Check out Chris’s website to see where you can find out more. Chris looks forward to hearing from you!

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Three Dirty Birds Talk About Scenes

WE’RE BACK!!!! At least until Christmas derails us. Then we lose Zoe-bird for a couple of weeks, but we’ll be back in the New Year to finish off James Scott Bell and squabble about what book we’ll read next.

Any suggestions? We’d like something a little more focused, something that will help us with our mushy middles.

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Three Dirty Birds are talking about scenes, and more specifically, the chapter on scenes in James Scott Bell’s Revision and Self-Editing for Publication, 2e.

Kate: This was a long chapter.

Ana: He made quite a scene of it. (I cannot resist a bad pun.)

Kate: Punny girl.

Zoe: This might have been the most useful quick run-down of scenes I’ve seen yet.

Kate: He has a nice way of explaining things, and a dry sense of humour that gets me every time. I liked how he broke down the ‘action scene’ vs the ‘reaction scene’.

Zoe: Me too. Much less dense/more streamlined than Dwight Swain’s scenes/sequels. Pretty easy to grasp. I think I’ll spend less time panicking over the whole issue now.

Ana: I wasn’t bored out of my mind while reading this section, which speaks for it.

Kate: No, there was lots of good stuff in it. Hard to talk about anything that really stood out, but it was a good solid chapter and easy to access.

Zoe: I liked the spice part—it was a good reminder that, while everything needs to serve the story, it doesn’t have to just serve the story. There can be stuff in there that breathes extra life in. (And now I want to see The Godfather again.)

Kate: Haha, me too! My sticky note on that page says, “Spice is hard. :(

Ana: I need to keep that in mind during the revision process. I might sometimes cut too much. (And I couldn’t get through The Godfather the first time.)

Zoe: At the moment I don’t feel like I’m doing any spice in my book. Everything’s on point about the story. (The movie? I’ve also read the book. When I was, like, ten. So it was gripping and fun. I tried rereading it later…)

Ana: The movie. I haven’t tried the book. But what you say sums up my experience with the LotR books.

Kate: I was never able to get into the LotR books. (I’ll show myself out of the fantasy genre now…)

Zoe: I loved The Hobbit when I was a kid, and Fellowship scared the crap out of me. When I was eleven. Now it all puts me to sleep.

Ana: Right? Sometimes I want to be a kid again. I could read anything.

Zoe: Yes! And be so affected by it! Even books I only half understood creeped me out like crazy.

Kate: I thought he made a good point about tension, because uncertainty, worry, and doubt are big tension-builders in romance. Okay, in any genre, but I find we use them a LOT in romance, even over little things.

Zoe: I liked that he included what tension and conflict in a scene could encompass, instead of just saying they needed to be there.

Kate: Yeah, that was a nice take on it. I wasn’t crazy about his scene patterns section, if only because I didn’t really have a problem with his first example, and the second one didn’t draw me in, which was the opposite of what he was trying for, I think.

Zoe:I think he’s getting down a level where you feel your way out in it more than…learn how to do it. But I suppose for some writers, it actually needs to be said that order can be rearranged.

Ana: It’s something that I read and nodded while reading, while at the same time I know I’m never going to think about it while writing.

Kate: I didn’t find the HIP section terribly useful, but that might be because I’ve moved past having to have that spelled out for me. Although the bit about the hook, and the prompt, did get me to make a note to look more closely at them when I do revisions.

Zoe: I thought it was definitely a good reminder for revisions. The stuff you don’t necessarily have on your mind when you’re getting that first draft down, but when you go back and look through and make sure your scenes open with hooks and end with prompts, you wind up with a story that pulls the reader through better.

Ana: It’s definitely something to look at. I remember to look at my scene endings, but scene openings, not so much.

Kate: I think scene endings come more naturally, because they’re the thing you really notice when you’re reading someone else’s work. It’s the thing that makes you go “One more chapter…”, so you pay more attention. Openers are more subtle, though the whole “first line of your novel” thing is pretty well-known and thus is more noticeable.

Zoe: The “intensity” part of HIP seemed like just a rehash of “scenes must have tension.” I thought the section on “moving around” was good—about how you don’t need to park two people in a room (or on a couch, or at a restaurant table) to have them talk. People talk on the go in real life. (Doing this, I think, might also cut down on the mundane beats of “She picked up her glass.” “He shifted in his chair.”)

Ana: My alpha reader once made me rewrite a scene I’d set in an office. She didn’t know this at the time, and neither did I, but I guess it comes back to the not-moving-around thing. It was boring. She said “not dramatic enough”

Kate: They used the ‘walk and talk’ to great effect in The West Wing. It added a lot of excitement and feeling of movement to the show, even if the dialogue wasn’t, in and of itself, high tension.

Zoe: Now you have me thinking of Sons of Anarchy (when am I not thinking about Sons of Anarchy this week?). I used to get so antsy during all the big “talk” scenes—and thinking back on them, they were really static. Jax and [fill in the blank] sitting, talking. (On and on and on.) It could have used some more on-the-go.

Kate: Kurt obviously didn’t watch any West Wing.

It was nice to see a book tackle flashbacks in a clear and concise manner. It tallied with all the research I did so I could pull off my one flashback ever written. :)

Zoe: I have a flashback in the one I’m working on now, broken into two parts. There wasn’t any way around it. And I agree—it was a good take on flashbacks in this chapter. The reality is that sometimes you can’t work around them, so it’s good to have some pointers on how to make them work.

Ana: I was a bit anxious reading this part because the novella I just finished… well, flashbacks are an important part of it as the characters deal with a lot of memories between them,so I was reading this section hoping he wouldn’t point out something vital that I forgot. (Because I’d already submitted the novella.) It looks like I’m good though. I hope.

Kate: I hate that rule of ‘don’t do flashbacks’, because sometimes the only way to get around a flashback is to write a scene with a whole pile of fill. Who wants to read that? Better to hone your skills in flashbacks and use them, than to add a lot of unnecessary stuff to the story.

Zoe: New rule: Don’t do flashbacks badly.

Ana: The ones I have in my story don’t run longer than a few lines each. And I don’t want to cut any of them. -sharpens nails-

Zoe:The one in mine is long, playing out as two scenes. I couldn’t cut it because it’s critical to the story, and I couldn’t play it out in real time because it happens two years prior—it would be the only scene from two years ago in the entire book, and I don’t think it would have the same impact, actually, presented as a regular scene.

Kate: If you wrote it in chronological, you’d have a prologue. Damned if you do…

Zoe: I think it would make a terrible prologue. You need to be curious about the character and his motivations and what happened to him, what he’s after, before you find out those answers.

Ana: I considered doing a prologue for my novella, but it would have been awfully clunky. I think I like the flashbacks better. Actually. I’m reading a book by Joe Hill now that has pretty long flashbacks. I think some of that could have been cut.

Zoe: (The long flashback in Horns bogged the story for me.) (But didn’t stop me from loving the book overall.)

Kate: Overall, I prefer flashbacks to prologues, and seeding the info through the story to either of them. But sometimes you just have to get the whole bit of information out in one go, or it loses its impact.

Zoe: Yes! In my WIP, I could just say the character feels responsible for his sister’s death, but that doesn’t impact the reader nearly as much as seeing it unfold and feeling helpless right alongside him.

I think this book should come with index cards with all the chapter key points. (Because I find them useful, but also: I’m lazy.)

Kate: You should have Knuckles take notes for you.

Zoe: He is lazier than I am. I haven’t been able to get him to get up out of his chair for a week.

Tuesday Guest Tickle: Saving Sultan by Jennah Scott

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Publisher: Decadent
Genre: Contemporary Cowboy
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This story is a part of Decadent’s Beyond Fairytales series, where the author is assigned a random fairy tale, and it’s up to them to translate it into a romance. :)



What’s it about?
Dillon Sultan never imagined he might some day lose Sultan Ranch. He’s got one month to find the money needed to keep bank from taking his family’s land. One month to find a miracle.

Liam Callahan hasn’t talked to his best friend since the night they kissed six years ago. Now he’s got a chance to make things right and catch the man of his dreams. But first, he has to help Dillon figure out a way to keep Sultan Ranch.

But when Dillon’s family is betrayed, and he learns that Liam hasn’t been totally honest with him, will he lose everything that matters most?

A Sneak Peek…

Liam moved around the corner of the truck and lifted himself onto the tailgate. His friend set his hand on Dillon’s shoulder and squeezed. He turned to Liam and paused.

“You okay, man?” Dillon asked. Liam’s eyes were dark, his lips pulled tight. Dillon wasn’t sure if he was angry or sad. Could have been the beer.

“Yeah. Just thinking. We start a new chapter of our lives tomorrow. Part of me wishes this one wasn’t done.”

He reached for Liam’s cup. “I think you should call it a night. The beer’s messing with your head. Making you talk like a chick.”

Liam didn’t acknowledge him. He stayed quiet for a few more minutes. “Is there anything you wanted to do before we graduated, but didn’t? Like a high school bucket list.”

“Seriously?”

Liam nodded.

What the hell had come over his friend? “I’m eighteen. I could give a fuck less about a bucket list. We’ve got all the time in the world to do shit. Look at it this way”—Dillon finished his beer, tossed the cup in the back of the truck, and reached for Liam’s glass—“start new right now. Something you want to do? Do it.”

The next thing that happened would forever be burned in Dillon’s memory.

Liam jumped to the ground and stumbled. Dillon grabbed his friend’s shoulders to keep him from face-planting into the grass. Liam turned around so they were face-to-face.

“You’re right,” Liam whispered, then kissed him.

Who is this Jennah person, anyway?

Born and raised in Texas, Jennah is a transplant to Missouri long enough ago she should probably consider that her hometown. But she will forever be a Texan. She loves to write any story that will make a reader smile, laugh, and maybe even cry (although you won’t ever hear her admit that she cries). Whether the next story she writes is contemporary, urban fantasy, LGBT, or whatever other crazy idea she comes up with, there will always be love and romance in the midst of trials and turmoil.

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Tuesday Guest Tickle: Hitting Black Ice by Heloise West

HeloiseWest_HittingBlackIce_coversm I had the privilege of beta-ing this one, and if you don’t love those boys, I don’t know what to say.

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The previous installments to the first chapter of Hitting Black Ice (From Loose Id) are here:

Part One November 28, 2014: Skye Jones
Part Two December 1, 2014: Kimber Vale

Violence spills into the local ER, catching Hunter and Shawn in the crossfire. In the aftermath, buried passion explodes, pulling them into a hot encounter that leaves both men wanting more. Each man has good reason to keep his distance, but when the past catches up with Shawn, they must run for their lives.

At least they’re running together.

Chapter One/Part Three

“Chuck’s late. He’s usually waiting for you,” Hunter commented.

Hunter didn’t like to leave until Marisa’s husband arrived with their two small girls to pick her up. She opened her mouth to answer, but three gunshots blasted out into the low hum of traffic.

“Shit,” Hunter said. The shots had come from the same direction Shawn had gone.

Screaming and shouting erupted, muted by the buildings that stood between the shots and them. The notorious neighborhood drug corner, open for business day and night, lay in that direction. It sounded like they got who they came for.

Two more shots and the screech of tires followed as a big black SUV came around the corner and passed them. It barely missed Chuck as he pulled into the parking lot with the girls. Chuck leaned hard on the horn.

Marisa dialed 911 as Hunter began the run down K Street, but halfway there, Shawn turned the corner with a young black man dressed in baggy gangsta fashion. He leaned heavily on Shawn, who had an arm slung around him. Hunter recognized the guy as one of the street-corner drug thugs, as Marisa called them. He bled from a wound to his leg, his eyes wild with pain and panic as he limped along.

“Anyone else hurt?” Hunter flung the guy’s other arm around him. Damn if he didn’t hear the screech of that SUV’s tires behind them as it came around again.

“No, just him. Faster,” Shawn urged the wounded man. “They’re coming back.”

“Hurts like a motherfucker. I’m gonna kill those motherfuckers. Motherfucker!”

Marisa ran for the ER, shooing her husband and kids inside, as the big black car turned the corner again. The boom of the bass increased as they lowered the window to take another shot at their prey. Marisa returned with a determined expression and a first-aid bag under her arm.

“Shit! Marisa! Stay back!” Hunter yelled.

“Mommy!” her daughter shrieked from the doorway of the ER. That stopped her cold.

“We’ve got him. Get to cover!” Hunter shouted at her. She turned back, and when she got to the ER doors, Chuck ran out and yanked her quickly inside.

“Fuck it if it hurts. Run for it!” Shawn pulled at the wounded man.

They ran, and gunfire followed, shattering one of the glass doors before it shut behind them. Sirens wailed in the distance, and Hunter hoped it was for them. Some doctors ran up to them and pushed the bleeding man, still cursing and griping, onto a gurney, then wheeled him down the hall to one of the exam rooms.

Shawn stood beside Hunter, watching them go. Hunter grabbed Shawn’s shoulder, shoved aside his open jacket, and found a few small spots of blood.

“Shawn, are you hurt?”

Shawn turned empty eyes on Hunter. He shook his head as if to clear it before looking away again.

“Sure you’re all right?” Hunter persisted.

“Just reaction.” Shawn held up a trembling hand.

Hunter winced. “You did good, kept your head. Saved the guy’s life. Let’s get you something clean to wear.” Hunter patted him, reassuring himself.

Behind the nurses’ station, Hunter opened a drawer full of scrubs and found a shirt for Shawn, who slipped into the men’s room to change. When he came out again, Hunter dropped the hoodie and T-shirt into the biohazard bin.

Shawn flashed an incredibly sexy grin as he shrugged into his jacket, aimed that beautiful blue gaze directly into Hunter’s, and held him there for a heartbeat before turning to leave. “Thanks.”

As Shawn walked away, he raised a hand to Marisa and Chuck arguing in fierce whispers by the nurses’ station. One of their kids waved back, and he nodded. Just before the entrance to the ER, he stopped, and Hunter thought he meant to button his jacket. Then Hunter saw it too.

The big black SUV had been driven up onto the sidewalk in front of the ER. The first police car screeched into the parking lot as two men got out of the SUV—white, older than the wounded drug dealer, heavier and harder looking, with guns already drawn. With the SUV in front of the doors, no one was getting in. And no one was getting out.
* * * * *

You can find out what happens today here: Hitting Black Ice

Thanks for having me here today, Kate!
Happy reading!
Heloise West

Velvet Panic Website
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Dirty Bird Hiatus

Christmas season is upon us, the US just had Thanksgiving (and all the attendant family obligations), and I’m still drowning in dayjob. So, the Dirty Birds are taking a short break and will be back soon. Before Christmas, but we all need a bit of breathing space right now.

In the meantime, I received a coupon for half-off Scrivener, which I promptly put to use. :D I’m going to try to carve out a bit of time to see how it compares to Liquid Story Binder and report back here.

This is all assuming Boo will let me work. He’s discovered the delight of sitting on me, on my desk, and on my keyboard. Maybe I need to write a story about a werecat. I wonder if he would be embarrassed? Or smug?

Oh, and yes, I’ve officially un-won NaNo. It was a long shot from the start, but I’m glad I tried it. I will definitely sign up again next year, when hopefully things aren’t so insane. And I’m looking forward to finishing Kev ‘n Mo, and that enthusiasm is fun to feel again. :) Perhaps I’ll try an un-NaNo of my own later on, after February, when I have reason to believe that things will have slowed down a bit.

I need to find a lucky dance to do. I just hope it’s not the same as the storm day dance–there’s nothing worse than a picking-up-speed lady dancing naked in front of the toilet holding a soup ladle. No one needs that image in their head. (I got this from someone who regularly caused storm days, she said it was by doing exactly that.) So if you have a good lucky dance that won’t make everyone reach for the brain-bleach, send it along!

Three Dirty Birds Giving you their Points of View

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Dirty Birdin’ over at Zoe’s blog!

It’s Friday!!! I have peppermint Kahlua for the coffee. (Sadly, I like Bailey’s in it better. But it’s drinkable.)

Storm Day!

A perfect opportunity to refill the well. I slept, and made brownies, and watched some tv. I ordered a Simon’s Cat pillow for my mother for Christmas, and bought a cat condo in the hopes that Raven will stop wrecking my furniture. I’ve let Boo in and out and in and out and in and out… Now I’m going to catch up on some of my dayjob stuff, shovel out the end of the driveway, and maybe, just maybe…

I’ll write!!!! *wiggles in delight*