Thursday, July 20, 2017

Throwback Thursday: Sawyer's Secret

Sawyer was the main character in Worlds Away, which came out at Christmas last year, and he was a departure for me. Readers of my series already knew his secret, because they'd met him in a prior book: he was a big, burly guy who felt at home in women's clothing. A few of my readers were uncomfortable with this, and some of them told me they had to take some time to examine why that was. 

To that I say: mission accomplished. Not that I wanted to make my readers uncomfortable per se, but I did want to challenge preconceived notions about gender, masculinity, and femininity. Sawyer was intended to bring up questions about gender roles and societal expectations. 

Almost always, when we see androgynous characters in books, or in movies and television, they're slim and small. They often have long hair and other traditionally "feminine" characteristics. But societal acceptance can't be limited to one body type. Because Sawyer is tall and muscular, he doesn't fit the stereotype of what an androgynous person should look like. But this is still his truth. This is who he is, regardless of whether or not that fits our expectations. 

If a big guy in a dress makes us uncomfortable, but we fawn over a slim, young, "pretty boy" in makeup, then really, how open-minded are we? I'm not pointing a finger here. I'm the first to admit I carry some bias too, and I wrote Sawyer to challenge my own perceptions, as well as society's. 



 Throughout Worlds Away, Sawyer gradually learns to accept who he is and begins to show his true self to the world. In the following scene, his love interest Alastair is finding out about Sawyer's other side for the first time:

“Thanks for being so open with me.”

“Well, I think you should know who you’re taking to bed.” I hesitated before adding, “You don’t have the whole picture yet, though. There’s something I need to show you. It might be a deal breaker, but I don’t want to hide it from you, like I do with almost everyone else.”

He watched me curiously as I pulled off my shoes and socks, then got up and turned to him. I took a deep breath as I began to unbutton my shirt. “If you’re not into this, that’s fine,” I said. “I know it’s…different.”

Alastair stared at me with rapt attention as I began to undress. I tossed my shirt on a nearby chair before unfastening my jeans, stepping out of them, and kicking them aside. My heart was pounding, and I swallowed hard and mumbled, “So, this is me,” as I stood before him. I was wearing one of my favorite outfits, a corset, stockings with garters, and a thong, all black.

His eyes went wide as they ran down my body. I was sure I’d freaked him out. He didn’t know what to make of me, he didn’t even know what to say. I was mortified, and so sad that I’d fucked up what could have been a great night. I should have hidden it and changed in the bathroom. I never should have—

“You’re the sexiest thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life.” Alastair’s voice was low and thick with desire, and he pulled me to him and kissed me with raw hunger.

*****

Sawyer and Alastair will be back in a supporting role in Quinn's book, tentatively entitled Take a Chance on Me, which should be out in later September. 

As always, thanks for reading! 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Throwback Thursday: The Tinder Chronicles

Once upon a time, I decided to write a series of novellas centered around a vampire hunter. His name was Tinder (in case you're wondering, this was years before the dating app), and he was snarky and damaged and I adored him. But my writing career ended up pulling me in another direction, so my plans for an ongoing series ended after three novellas. They're published in one volume, The Tinder Chronicles.

Below is a little peek at Tinder and Bane, the vampire he really didn't want to fall for. As you'll see, their relationship is...complicated. In this scene, Tinder and fellow vampire hunter Lee have tracked a group of vampires to a warehouse near the Port of Long Beach in Southern California. Oh, and just a heads-up: like most vampire books, it's a little gory. But I think that's part of the fun. ;)


A big, burly vamp was coming down the stairs toward me, who I recognized as one of the fab five from Shoreline Village. I shot at him with my crossbow, but he managed to dodge the arrow. Damn it! He lunged for me, and again my agility worked to my advantage. I avoided his grasp and he stumbled down a few steps before righting himself. That gave me a chance to reload my crossbow. I didn’t miss the second time.

The other four were closing fast, and I sprinted up the stairs. On the top floor, I continued my mad dash. When the corridor ran out, I ducked into a big, drab office and slammed and locked the door behind me, a split second before one of the vamps reached me. It was a metal fire door and fairly solid, but I knew it wouldn’t keep a bunch of vamps out forever. I shoved the big desk across the room and up against the door, then leaned against it, gasping for breath, my heart pounding like it was trying to bust out of my chest. Shouts could be heard out in the hall. It sounded like the vamps who'd been chasing me were calling for even more reinforcements. Awesome.

I looked around the room. Besides the desk, all it contained was an office chair and a big metal file cabinet about five feet wide and six feet high. There were no windows, only a single skylight in the center of the fifteen foot ceiling. Yeah okay, I could make that work.

The file cabinet was a bit problematic, because it weighed a ton and I couldn’t budge it. I folded the top door of the cabinet up and back and swore vividly as I began grabbing armloads of files and flinging them out of the cabinet. As I worked on emptying it out so it was light enough to drag under the skylight, I wondered what had happened to Lee. There’d been no sign of him since I entered the building.

It took for-fucking-ever to empty the cabinet. Meanwhile, it sounded like the vamps out in the hall had located an ax and were trying to chop their way through the door. I rolled my eyes at that. If they’d been smart enough to hack through the wall instead of the metal door, they’d be in here already.

Even with all the paper out of it, the steel cabinet was still crazy heavy. Lucky me to find the one file cabinet in the universe built to survive a nuclear blast. I crouched down, grasped it by the edges and threw my weight into it. The cabinet slid about half an inch. I tugged on it again and again, painfully making my way to the center of the room and completely wearing myself out in the process. That sucked, because as soon as I got myself out of this room, I was going to have to run right back into the ground floor and get those civilians to safety.

The chances of living through this were not looking good.

When I very nearly had the cabinet in position, the skylight shattered. I held up the edge of my jacket and hid under it as glass rained down on me. A light thud alerted me that someone had just jumped through the skylight and landed beside me. I lurched to my feet and grabbed a stake from inside my jacket as I whirled around, but was immediately grabbed, transported across the room and slammed up against the wall with my wrists pinned to either side of my head.

I looked up into pale green eyes and a permanent smirk. “Which just goes to prove,” I said, my voice a low growl, “that no matter how bad a situation is, it can always get worse.”

“Hello, Tinder. You’re looking well.”

“Hi Bane. Hey, do me a favor. Let go of my right wrist for a second, so I can jam this stake through your heart.”

Bane was the most aptly named vampire ever, because he was, in fact, the bane of my existence. I’d gone up against him several times over the years. It somehow always ended with him getting away, despite my best efforts to reduce him to something I could suck up with a Dustbuster.

And now he had me pinned to a wall, his big, powerful body pressed against mine to keep me immobile. This was seriously not good. I threw everything I had into trying to break free. Failing that, I tried to head-butt him. He pulled back, just out of range, then changed his hold on me, grasping both wrists with one hand and holding them to the wall above my head while wrapping his other hand around my neck. It fucking pissed me off that he was so much stronger than I was.

“I don’t suppose if I asked nicely,” he said, “you’d be a love and stay in this room for the next half hour.” His English accent made his odd request sound downright civilized.

I knit my brows. “I think that’s about as likely as you jamming this stake through your heart yourself, just because I said pretty please.” I still grasped the big wooden spike in my right hand.

He sighed and said, “It’s such a bother that you can’t be compelled. Makes everything just that much more difficult.” He pushed down the cuff of my jacket with a fingertip, revealing the beginning of the incantation that was tattooed on both arms. My body was a canvas of spells and symbols, all of which provided me with various protections. Several, including the one he somehow knew to look for, made me immune to compelling.

“I live to annoy.”

He grinned at that. And then he said randomly, his voice low and seductive, “You smell like sex. That’s quite often the case, is it not? And yet, you never smell like the same bloke twice. You really should have more respect for yourself, Tinder.”

“Eat me.”

His grin erupted into a full-blown smile. This was slightly unnerving, because Bane was in the minority of vampires that had elected not to file their fangs down. Blending in with the general population was apparently of no interest to him. “Thanks for the oh-so-tempting offer, love, but I haven’t the time, I’m afraid.” In a lightning fast move, he grabbed the stake from my hand and drove it through my right shoulder. I cried out as pain shot through my body. “Rain check,” he said with a wink.

He stepped back from me. I started to collapse but was held up by the stake, which had passed all the way through me and embedded in the wall. “Son of a bitch,” I muttered through clenched teeth.

Bane scaled the file cabinet using the empty drawers as a ladder. He jumped up effortlessly and hung from the frame of the busted out skylight, then kicked the file cabinet over. I hissed, “God damn it!"

He hung by one hand and pointed at me. “Stay.” He said it like he was talking to a dog. Then he used both hands to easily pull himself up and out of the skylight.

I threw every swear word I knew at him as I grasped the end of the stake with my left hand and tried to pull it out of my shoulder. It wouldn’t budge. Just then, the ax finally broke through the metal door. I took hold of the stake again and tugged frantically. My chances of escape where nonexistent since that asshole had knocked the file cabinet over, and no way did I have the strength to pull it upright again. But when the vamps finally busted through that door, I wasn’t going down without a fight. I’d probably be able to take at least a couple of them out before they killed me.

Since the stake was embedded too deeply in the wall to remove it, I knew what I had to do. I gritted my teeth and lunged forward. The stake was a lot thicker at the handle end and the pain was so intense as it tore through my shoulder that I almost blacked out. I dropped to my knees, panting and shaking, but for only a few moments. Soon I pushed myself up and staggered across the room to my crossbow. I pointed the weapon at the door as I sat down, leaning against the upended file cabinet, and waited for the vamps to finish breaking through.

 Only, they never did. Some kind of commotion in the hall interrupted them, with the blade of the ax embedded in the door so deeply that I could see a few inches of it on this side. For several minutes, some kind of battle raged. I thought at first that it might be Lee, but that would have been over quickly, given how many vamps were out there.

Eventually, all fell silent. I gave it an extra minute, then pushed to my feet, holding my right arm against my stomach to try to stabilize my shoulder. I leaned back against the desk and used my legs to shove it out of the way, then paused and listened at the door. Nothing. When I flipped the lock and peered into the hallway, the only thing out there was six piles of clothing. What the fuck? 

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Buyer Beware

Last week, someone published several gay romances on Amazon under the name Alexa Land. I have been publishing with this name in this genre since 2012. I don't know if this was an innocent mistake or a blatant attempt at ripping off an established author, but either way: Buyer Beware! I'm fortunate to have a large reader base which I've built up over more than four years, and many of them will one-click books based on my name alone. But please look before you click! These other books aren't up to the standards my readers have come to expect.

Amazon is looking into it, and for now most of the books by this other person have been removed. If there's ever any question, remember that all my books are listed on my Amazon Author Page. If a book by "Alexa Land" isn't listed, it wasn't written by me. You can find my Amazon Author Page here.


Thursday, July 6, 2017

Throwback Thursday: Dance Floor Road Kill

Today, I'm looking back at Christian and Shea from Against the Wall
book 7 in the Firsts and Forever Series. 


I love these two! Christian, my free-spirited artist with a secret, and sweet, self-conscious police officer Shea are perfect together. But it didn't start off smoothly. 
Here's how they met. Christian is in a crowded nightclub with his new friend Chance and is just looking for a one-night stand. But Shea turns his world upside down -- once they both get past this awkward beginning:

“There’s a seriously hot guy staring at you. Did you notice?”
“No. Where?”
“Diagonally across the dance floor. Royal blue polo shirt, shoulders and arms like Atlas.”
I spotted the guy in question. Talk about gorgeous. He was totally built, with short, dark brown hair and eyes so blue I could see their color even at a distance. He was talking to three other guys. They all seemed to be about the same age, mid-twenties, but his three companions were all shorter and skinnier than him, and not to be unkind, but they were clearly dorks. The two white guys were a perfectly matched set (except that one was blond and the other brunet) who’d worn long-sleeved dress shirts along with their jeans, totally buttoned up and stiff. Their African American companion wore a bright t-shirt with the word Bazinga splashed across the front of it, along with a fedora. I had to wonder what Captain America was doing with the nerd herd.
“How would you know who that guy was looking at? This place is wall-to-wall people,” I yelled to Chance.
“You’re directly in his line of sight. Just watch him for a minute and you’ll see I’m right.”
The guy appeared to be having some sort of debate with his buddies. His friend in the fedora pointed across the bar, directly at me, and yelled something to his hot friend, who shook his head emphatically. Then one of the buttoned-down white boys took him by the shoulders, spun him toward me, and tried to give him a push. The hottie dug in his heels.
He did look up though and saw me watching him. Maybe. I still wasn’t convinced that I was the focal point of his attention, though he did suddenly turn a shade of red so vivid that it was noticeable even among the club’s bright, flashing lights. Chance leaned in and said, “Why don’t you go talk to that guy? Ask him to dance or something.”
I glanced at my companion. “First of all, I don’t dance. Secondly, why would he be looking at me, out of all the people in this place? Maybe he’s looking at you, you’re right beside me and pretty damn hot.”
“He’s not looking at me. Watch.” Chance got up and made his way to the center of the dance floor, then held his arms over his head and moved his slender body provocatively to the music. This got the attention of a half a dozen men around him, but not the guy in the polo shirt. Captain America was still glancing my way every few seconds while his friends appeared to give him some kind of pep talk. It involved a lot of hand gestures, yelling over the music and emphatic pointing.
I was still skeptical that any of that had a thing to do with me, but I had just decided to go say hello to him anyway when the pep talk finally worked. Captain America took a drink from the tall glass in his hand, then spun around and took a few steps in my direction, cutting across the dance floor. In the next instant, his arms were flailing over his head and he fell like a tree that had been chopped down, tripping over God knows what and landing flat on his belly. Oh man, the poor guy was dance floor road kill.
He knocked over at least ten people on his way down in a domino effect. The slippery ice that had flown out of his glass took out another dozen, most of them knocking down even more people as they fell. Chance was fairly nimble and managed to remain standing, but he was in the minority.
I leapt up to go help the guy in the polo shirt, but he was back on his feet in a flash. He darted toward the exit with his buddies in hot pursuit. Chance appeared beside me, somehow having navigated the wreckage on the dance floor, and said, “Aren’t you going to go after him?”
“I still don’t know if he was even coming to talk to me.”
“He was, trust me.”
“And what am I supposed to say to him?”
Chance grinned at me. “Try ‘hi’. Works wonders.” When I turned to look at him, he added, “That guy’s having the worst night ever. I bet he could really use some happy right about now.”
“You’re right. It was good to meet you, Chance.”
“Keep in touch, Christian,” he said with a smile before directing his attention to a couple guys at the bar.
I looked for the boy in blue as I cut through the club, but he was nowhere to be seen. He wasn’t in the crowd milling out front, either. I stood out on the sidewalk and looked in both directions, and finally spotted him and his little group halfway down the block. I went after them, and as I got closer, I saw they were still debating. They had their backs to me and didn’t notice me as I approached. “Let’s just go back,” the guy in the fedora was saying. “It’s your birthday, we’re supposed to be celebrating!”
“Yeah somehow, after humiliating myself in front of him of all people, I don’t feel all that festive, Leo,” the guy in blue said.
I was just a few feet away by now, so I stopped walking and said, “So, you probably don’t mean me, which is going to make me feel like such a dumbshit for coming after you.”
The foursome turned to face me, the nerd herd beaming ear-to-ear as the boy in blue went full-on deer in headlights. He still clutched the empty bar glass. “Oh, he definitely means you,” Fedora Guy said. He glanced at his friend, then took a second look and poked his arm. “Isn’t that right, Shea?”
I hadn’t quite caught that so I asked, “Sorry, what was your name?”
Cricket, cricket.
His friends stared at him in anticipation, and finally the buttoned-down blond boy answered for him. “His name’s Shea. Rhymes with gay.”
His dark-haired counterpart added, “Today’s his birthday, he just turned twenty-five.”
I stepped a little closer and looked into those wide blue eyes, noting that he and I were the same height, six-one. “Happy birthday, Shea. I’m Christian.” I tried giving him a friendly smile, but that just seemed to freak him out more.
“Dude,” the buttoned down brunet told his friend in a loud stage whisper, as if I couldn’t hear that, “say something.”
“I...um...hi,” Shea finally managed.
I smiled cheerfully. “Hi.”
His posse took that as their cue. Fedora Guy chimed in, “Our work here is done! We’re going over to Bas’s apartment, Shea, so you’ll have the whole house to yourself if you know what I mean. Nudge nudge, wink wink!” Everybody knew what he meant, and Shea once again turned a vivid shade of pink. 
  I stepped a little closer and carefully extracted the glass from his hand. It was surprising that it hadn’t broken in the fall. As I handed it to one of his friends, my eyes never leaving Shea’s, I murmured, “You are absolutely beautiful.”
Awwww yeah,” buttoned-down blond boy said with a huge smile, throwing his hands in the air and swiveling his skinny hips. “It’s on! Have fun, Shea! But don’t forget dude, no glove, no love!”
The guy in the fedora grabbed the blond’s arm and started dragging him down the sidewalk as he called, “Bye, Shea. Bye, hot guy. We’ll be out late. Real late! Y’all will have plenty of time to get it on!”
“Oh God,” Shea whispered, still staring at me. “I’m so sorry about that.”
“Don’t be. What’s life without perfectly certifiable friends?” My gaze drifted to his full, luscious lips. I slid my hand around the back of his neck, pulled him to me and kissed him gently. Every part of me came alive, my pulse quickening and my cock swelling. I wanted this guy, no doubt about it. He was absolutely terrified though, and I was a little concerned that he’d throw up on me out of sheer panic.
A chorus of cat-calls came from his friends, who by now were down the block but apparently still watching. I ran my hand down his arm and asked, “Do you want to go back to your place?”
He nodded but remained rooted to the sidewalk. Maybe he’d only recently come out and wasn’t used to being with guys yet. That might explain the terror. I draped my arms around his shoulders and kissed him again, lightly. Then I rested my forehead against his and told him softly, “I’d love to go home with you and fuck you all night, Shea. But that won’t happen unless we actually start walking.” 

 #####

Christian and Shea have been overdue for a check-in, so I'm going to make a point of bringing them back in my work-in-progress. I'm currently writing Quinn's story. He's a new character I introduced in the latest book in the series, All I Ever Wanted. It should be out sometime in September.