Locke and Blade – Lynn’s New Release!

LockeandBlade_WD Here’s the latest release from me. It’s really a re-release, and not much has changed. It’s been edited a bit, so if you already have it, skip it, unless you love the new cover. I want to thank MLR Press for letting me republish this novella. It’s one of my favorites.

Blurb – When Locke and Blade must work together to solve crimes, but will dislike turn to attraction in the heat of fighting their enemies?

Christopher Locke is a man with a tarnished reputation. When he’s transferred to Waterford Station to serve as inspector, he meets Jonathan Blade, his new partner. Jonathan thinks Christopher is a brute. Chris thinks Jonathan is a snob. Both think the other is more than attractive, which might be more dangerous than the enemies they must face.

Except – Jonathan Blade slammed the door of his office, crossed to his desk, and fell into his chair.
“The God be damned!” He ran a hand over his face and then leaned back and closed his eyes.

What had Wilson been thinking, bringing that big brute here to Waterford? They were two men short, true, but Locke? He looked a ruffian, every inch of him, never mind the way the man’s muscles strained at his uniform, or the way the scar on his chin piqued Blade’s interest. Why hadn’t the healers removed the jagged line? Why leave it to mar the man’s rugged good looks?

Was it a symbol of something? A reminder? A vanity?

A man such as Locke would, no doubt, try to take charge; perhaps try to win Blade’s spot as second-in-command. He might try to test his skills against Blade’s, but Blade knew he’d win in that contest. No man or woman had bested him during their station’s competitions, or in actual battle.

Blade always got his man. Always.

Locke’s dismissal—well, not a true dismissal from the force, but a transfer—had been all the talk around the mess tables. Gossip moved fast through the small patroller community; some bloke at Locke’s old station knew someone here, or perhaps the addler’s network carried the information, but no matter how, theories buzzed around like flies on a dead rat, and none of them good.

Blade had heard the man had beaten a suspect to death with those huge hands of his. The thought of that sent a shudder down Blade’s spine. Physical violence was nearly unheard of in their world, unlike the world they’d separated from two hundred years ago. That world had been vicious, brutal, and terrified of majik . Still was, for all they knew. Not many had crossed the portals and lived to tell the tale. Their best majikians had banded together to split the world apart, majik and non-majik, created the portals and fled that world for this one, where majik and civility ruled.

Had Locke come from off-world, crossed one of the hidden portals and managed to inveigle himself into their society? Perhaps that explained the scar.
Blade sat up and pulled open one of his drawers. There had been a missive from headquarters a few months ago about a new training program, one that incorporated physical means with majik.

In the back of the drawer, behind his notebooks, he found the crumpled bit of parchment. He pulled it out and smoothed it down on his desk blotter.
He’d dismissed it at the time, but now, with the arrival of Locke, he began to wonder if Wilson had brought the man here to train them all in the new fighting techniques. Surely Wilson would have told him, his second, about those plans?

An uneasy feeling crept over Blade as he read.

The letter described how they leaped and rolled, firing wands at will, and teleporting in and out of the field of battle to gain strategic advantage. How they’d learned physical combat methods also. It went on to say the Avalon Patrol Station had trained all their patrollers and inspectors in this new form of combat and it had been highly successful in fighting Lord Blackmoor’s men.

Blade didn’t like it when he’d read about it then and he didn’t like it now. Majik was subtle, beautiful in its use, and elegant in form. The wand was a gentleman’s weapon, and only the most skilled inspector could wield it with deadly effect. He’d killed men before in the line of duty, cleanly, with his wand, without using a blood weapon or his soiling his hands. He could imagine that great brute Locke using his fists to beat some poor farmer into submission, and Blade refused to be reduced to the same low element.

If Wilson thought they’d all become hooligans, bravos, and villains in order to fight the new crime wave, he’d have to do it without Inspector Jonathan Blade. And to be saddled with the man as his partner? Wilson had surely lost his mind.

And yet…there was something intensely attractive about Christopher Locke. Something drew Blade to him, like a bee to clover, but he couldn’t put his finger on what it might be. Something in his eyes, something painful and filled with sorrow, a hunger, perhaps.

Blade snorted.

More likely the sheer size of the man. Although Locke was only a few inches taller than Blade, the man weighed more, and by the size of the muscles in his arms and thighs, he would be more powerful.

But only physically. Blade was unwavering in his belief that in terms of majik skill and power, he would win.

Would Locke’s speed and strength win over Blade’s majik?

Not bloody likely.

Well, whatever this new method was, he wasn’t interested in using his fists. The very idea was beneath him and the rank of inspector of the patrol.
A voice niggled in the back of his mind. You’re attracted to him…admit it.

Bloody hell, he couldn’t think that way. First, the patrol frowned on fraternization among staff and secondly, their society did not approve of men desiring men. It wasn’t outlawed, but it certainly wasn’t the norm. Still, he’d heard rumors of some stations where inspectors were more than friends.

Lovers.

That word raised the hair on his arms and the back of his neck.

Men couldn’t be lovers, could they? They could share their bodies, he’d heard whispers, but what of their hearts? He’d never seen it, not in his thirty years, and as a man who desired men he’d come to accept he’d have to keep to himself, squelch those needs, keep them buried for the rest of his life.

That longing had been there ever since the first time he’d noticed one of the young grooms on his father’s estate. and fFelt that first hardening of his cock at the sight of the lad’s half-naked body as he jumped into the small creek running through their lands.

The boy’s hair had dripped wet and dark down sun-tanned skin, his teeth showed white as he laughed, and Blade had felt that first throbbing pull of attraction. He’d promptly shoved it down inside his very soul, terrified to admit it to himself or let anyone else know about it.

Luckily, his older brother would be the one to create the next heir, and Blade had been left to pursue his dreams of being in the patrol service.
Now his life was the patrol, the One God, this station, and he’d do nothing to jeopardize it. Not even for the pleasures of the flesh or the hope of a lifelong companion.

The One God had no written commandments forbidding men to lie together and he knew it happened in some corners of their society. There were whispers that among the holy fathers, friendships deepened into more.

Blade knew his own body’s urges and he sated them alone, in his room, picturing vague male bodies entwined, as if seen through a veil of gauze, imagining everything from touching to rubbing, even kissing. What more could men share?

Certainly not what men shared with women. His father and older brother had told him of that…his father to educate; his brother to brag.

Just thinking of that young man of his youth made his cock grow stiff. He adjusted it in his trousers, shifting in his chair. The touch of his hand sent a wave of pleasure through him.

A knock sounded on his door and he jerked his hand away.

“Enter!” he called out, snatching up his quill pen.

The door opened and Christopher Locke stood there.

To win a copy of the ebook, comment here. I’ll wait until Wednesday to pick a winner.

Here are some of the buy links –
MLR Press
Amazon
ARe

Rougaroux Social Club by Lynn Lorenz

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Some have asked me why I named this series Rougaroux Social Club. Well, the answer is both simple and complex. This series is set deep in south Louisiana, in the heart of Cajun country. In Cajun cooking, the first thing a good cook must know how to make is a roux. It’s the basis for most soups, like a good gumbo. The roux is everything. This is basically a mixture of flour and some sort of fat, like butter or oil. It’s slow cooked, with constant stirring so’s not to “burn the roux.” Once it’s burnt, the taste is ruined and you should start over.
So, that explains the roux part of Rougaroux.
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Now, the Rougarou part – in Cajun legend, the dreaded swamp wolf is called the rougarou, or rugarou, and it’s basically our version of a werewolf. So I combined the cooking with the legend. And no, I didn’t create Cajun cooking werewolves, although most of their maman’s (that’s french for mama) probably make a mean roux. I know Scott’s maman Darlene can cook circles around most chefs, at least in Cajun cooking.
That explains the Rougaroux part.
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Now, let’s look at the Social Club.
In the south, especially in New Orleans and southern Louisiana, groups of people form “social clubs” where they can get together to dance, party, eat, and mostly do good works. Sometimes they’re called “social and pleasure” clubs. I stuck with just social.
So I have this pack of werewolves, who are mostly Catholic, who need a place to meet and hold pack meetings, so where better than to form a social club, give it a tease of a name, and also use it to do good deeds, especially for pack members. Think of it as hiding in plain sight.
Yes, my werewolves are Catholic, and yes, the priest knows about them. He’d have to, if you think about it.
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And to make it even more fun, the town where this is set, St. Jerome, like most small towns in Cajun country, holds its very own Rougarou Festival, to celebrate the legend of the Rougarou. The social club is the sponsor of the event, and each year, they hold a costume contest for the best Rougarou costume.
As you can see, I had a lot of fun with this whole series, from Bayou Dreams to Bayou Des Enfants, there is a strong element of humor in each book. And the person who brings the funny is hands down, Scott’s maman, Darlene. She’s a hoo-doo voodoo practicing Catholic who doesn’t know her own powers or at least, she thinks she does. Having her casting spells on the men she loves is fun. I get to mess with these men, disguised as her.

But even though there is humor, each of the book explores serious issues, like how a straight man can have a gay wolf inside him, whether love and fated mates can overcome fear and distrust, and how to build a family when two parents aren’t quite ready. Frequently we find the pack in jeopardy from internal stresses and external pressures. Hard choices have to be made, mates have to be found and wooed, and voodoo has to mess up a few lives.

I hope you’ll give my Bayou wolves a try. Come on down to Cajun country. Make a fais-do-do and pass a good time. Eat some gumbo and fried oysters. Sit on the bank of the bayou and cast a spell or two. But watch out for maman’s cat.

If you’re interested in buying them, on Amazon, click this link. Thanks! If you’ve read them and enjoyed them, please think about leaving a review!
Bayou Dreams
Bayou’s End
Bayou Loup
Bayou Des Enfants

Recent Events by Lynn Lorenz

It’s my turn to blog. Just a few days ago, the unthinkable happened. A Muslim man, armed with several weapons, entered a gay nightclub filled with Hispanic gay men and killed over 50, wounding another 50, at least. The total death toll could be higher.

From all accounts, it was both domestic terrorism and a hate crime against LGBT people.

Everyone is shaken to their cores, horrified by this event, and the loss of so many lives and the wounding of many, many more. I’ll say everyone, because if this mass murder doesn’t sicken you, there is something very wrong with you. I’m guessing there are people who relish this act, but I’m not talking to those people. They are lost.

There is much to say about how and why this happened, and from what I can tell, only two reasons. One we can’t fight and the other we can.

We can not fight ideas. There is no bomb, no weapon, that can slay ideas, especially those ideas that tell people to hate other people who are not like them. We can’t find every person who believes in these ideas, and kill them. It’s impossible.

But we can fight how these people kill so many people and that’s by enacting major changes in gun control. By making it impossible for anyone to purchase automatic weapons built solely to kill people, like the AR-15, the most used weapon in the many assaults on people here in the US.

How we do that is by electing officials who also believe these laws need to be changed, loop holes closed, ID checks for every gun sale, and others. No the laws won’t stop the ideas, but they will stop the carnage.

This November, let’s clean house and the senate. Please take the time to learn what the opposing and sitting officials’ records are against and for gun control. It might not be a Democrat, it might be a third party candidate. The trick about voting for change is there have to be people, men and women, who are willing to run to affect that change. Be informed.

Just cleaning house and replacing current leaders with new leaders who don’t believe in enacting that change just puts us in the same boat as before. I don’t hold out much hope with the current government who refuse to do what’s necessary to protect it’s citizens, even from themselves, because after Sandy Hook, where an armed man slaughtered school children – children – and these same legislators did nothing about it, I don’t believe they will do anything about a nightclub full of gay men being slaughtered or wounded.

This November, vote for change. Make one of your platform issues gun control. Vote those who refused to change the laws to protect our children, because, believe me, every one of those people in the Pulse club were someone’s children, out of office.

Vote for change. Vote for our future. Vote for our children.

My Heroes by Lynn Lorenz

I love the military. Grew up all around them in my family. My grandfather served in WWI and WWII, due to lying about his age to get a job with the railroad. He was born in the country where they didn’t hand out birth certificates in the 1890’s, his actual date of birth was a long argued point for years. My father joined the Navy and served in WWII. My uncle-in-law was air force, and so were his two sons.

I grew up visiting Eglin AFB in Florida during the summers, to hang with my aunt and uncle and my cousins and remember going to the PX and the on base movie theater. They lived in on-base housing, but it was a nice townhouse. I was always amazed when my aunt would drive through the gates and the soldiers would salute her. I didn’t realize at the time my uncle was one of the highest ranked non-commissioned officers on base. He trained fighter pilots during Vietnam. They lived in Okinawa for several years and we threw a huge seafood boil when they came back to the states.

All of these military men in my life were men I looked up to – my heroes. And like many of those men who served in WWI and WWII, they never really talked about it. But my paw-paw was big in the VFW, and I grew up knowing all about the organization. They have a soft space in my heart, and it’s one of the charities that I support.

So it’s no wonder I love to write about military men, either as Lynn Lorenz or as Theodora Lane.

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One of my first military books was It Takes a Hero, about a soldier wounded in Iraq. He loses half his leg and has to deal with it once he’s stateside. Here’s a brief exerpt…
I placed another unanswered call to George. I worried he hadn’t gotten the news about me, that he was still in Mosul wondering where the hell I was, or if I’d bugged out and left him there to sweat out the hot nights alone.
Then, I worried he was lying injured in some field hospital. Or dead.
Or horribly wounded, just down the hall from me.
Drugs make you have terrible dreams, you know.
I dreamed it was George, not Quint, that I’d pulled from the street. That I’d turn him over and he was dead. Glazed blue eyes staring up at me.
That he and I kept missing each other as we pushed our wheelchairs down the corridor. I’d just glimpse his close-cropped blond hair as he turned a corner. Pushing hard, I’d reach the corner, only the hall would be empty.
Every night, I woke up in a cold sweat.
But I never dreamed about my leg. Funny, huh?
And every night after waking up drenched, I cursed God. I’d never been what you call churchgoing, but I did believe. Out here in the desert, with the bullets flying, you find God real damn fast.
I’d found Him on my first mission patrolling the streets.
I lost Him lying in that bed.
* * * * *
Five days before I was going to be sent stateside, George walked into my room.
I’d been staring at the place where my foot should have been when I heard his cough.
He lingered in the doorway, as if amputation were contagious. For a moment, I thought he would bolt, then he stepped in. God, he looked so good. Alive and healthy, his all-American good looks made even more handsome by his uniform, but I’d always been a sucker for a man in uniform.
“Got here as soon as I could.” He fidgeted with his hat, his eyes locked on the part of me that was missing.
“I’ve been calling you.” Shit. Where had I picked up that pathetic whine?
He shrugged. Swallowed. Still didn’t look me in the face.
“Tony, I’m so sorry,” he whispered.
I wanted to ask him about what. That he hadn’t bothered to call me after I’d left a message every day for two weeks? That I’d lost my leg? That he was leaving me?
“I’m so sorry,” he repeated.
“You said that.” I held my voice steady.
Seems that was all he had to say.
At last, his eyes met mine and I saw his terror. His fear. His repulsion.
Oh yeah, it was over.
Hell, he’d never said he loved me. I’d never said it to him, but somewhere in the back of my mind, I’d hoped he felt something for me. Felt I was more than a fuck buddy, just a warm body to pass the time with in the desert.
He looked back at my leg. Did he see himself pushing me around in that damned wheelchair, or the horror of having to touch the stump hidden under the sheets?
He reached out and touched my arm.
That was all the good-bye I got. He turned and left.
All the way to Germany just to dump me. At least, I lied to myself, I meant enough to him to do it in person.
I couldn’t blame him. Who wanted to be saddled with a cripple?
He had his career. We both did. Or I had. Twelve years into my thirty, I’d planned to retire at fifty-five, full pension, full medical, and start a new life still relatively young.
Instead, my career was over.
Still, I got the full medical.

In Pacific Nights, I wanted to write about WWII. It was an era that I’d grown up hearing about, watching movies of it, and hearing and dancing to the music. So of course, I wanted to do my own gay version of South Pacific, where two men are plunked down on a island to watch the enemy.

Here’s a bit of that story… (Sorry no cover yet. It’s between publishers)
“Change of plans. We’re jumping.”
“Jumping? What? Where’s the ship? I thought we were going to land and take a boat to the island?” He sat up and rubbed his eyes under his spectacles.
“Didn’t I just say change of plans?” Mike swore. “The landing strip is under fire. We have to jump from here.”
Hamilton struggled to his feet and caught his balance as the plane pitched and rolled. “How?”
“Parachutes. Jesus, I thought they said you were a fucking genius.” He guffawed and tossed the harness and the canvas chute bag at Hamilton, nearly knocking him down. “Put these on, Einstein.”
Hamilton stared at it. Then he shrugged on the harness and adjusted it around his legs. “How does it work?” The thing hung on him, unbuckled, almost too big for his slim frame.
Mike stared at him. From the scene the man had made in Masker’s office when he’d been told Mike would be on the mission with him, Mike knew he’d be trouble. The professor had taken one look at Mike and refused him, as if he’d had a choice. For Mike’s part, he didn’t like the idea any more than Hamilton. The professor had that air about him, as if everyone else was a lowlife, and being a lowlife himself, it ate at Mike.
He might be a lowlife, but he was the lowlife who was going to keep Hamilton alive on that island.
Mike stepped closer and fastened the chute to the harness. He touched the first pull. “Here’s the major chute rip cord. Once you’re out the door, count to five, then pull it. If it fails”—he looked up and caught Hamilton’s light blue eyes staring back at him—“pull this one.” He put his hand on the reserve cord. “It’s the emergency chute.”
Those eyes took him in with such intensity he had to look away, just like Hamilton had stared at him across Masker’s desk. That assessing look unsettled Mike.
“Got it. Count to five and pull.” Hamilton nodded. “When?”
“Coming into position!” the navigator shouted from the cockpit.
“About now.” Mike told Hamilton.
Fear flashed in the professor’s eyes, then his gaze darted to the still-closed door.
“Don’t worry. I’ve done this loads of times. You’ll be fine.” Why he felt he had to reassure the professor was beyond him, but what did it hurt? Still, if it had been anyone else, he’d have kicked his ass right out the fucking cargo bay door.
“Right.” Hamilton straightened and gave Mike a sharp nod.
Mike turned and waved at the private to stand ready. The kid pushed the first crate into position. Mike threw back the lever and pushed the door open. Wind rushed through the cargo hold, loose papers flew, and the noise made his eardrums ache.
“Ready!” Mike watched the cockpit for the signal.
The navigator leaned back, listening for the mark, and shot his thumb up.
“Crate one away!” Mike shouted.
The kid pushed it out the door, and the crate disappeared into the darkness, the tether ran out, then snapped back, opening the chute. He caught it and hooked it to the next one with swift efficiency.
“Crate two away!”
The second crate fell, and the private hooked up the last one.
“Crate three away!”
The last crate had disappeared into the blackness, and Mike turned to the professor. “You’re next.” He grinned around his cigar. He wanted to see what the guy was made of, and if anything showed a man’s mettle, it would be jumping out of a plane in the dark over a small, uncharted island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
The professor removed his glasses, folded them, and placed them in a pocket of his jacket, pulled on his helmet, then moved into the opening, his hands gripping the metal frame of the door.
“On my mark, Professor.”
“Call me James.” Mike could barely hear the words over the roar of the wind and the engines.
Braced against the wall of the plane, Mike glanced at the cockpit. The navigator and the pilot were working on something. As they conversed, he waited with one hand on Hamilton’s shoulder. The heat of the man’s body came through the drab green shirt and flak jacket. Ropelike muscles flexed beneath Mike’s hand, and he felt the rapid rise and fall of Hamilton’s chest. Mike wanted to pull away but kept his hand in place.
The plane tilted as it made a slow curve around for the second pass. The night whipped by outside the cabin. There was a half-moon, enough light to see by, but not bright enough to be dangerous. Not like the deadly spotlight of a full moon, thank God.
If they made it to the ground alive, everything should be fine. If there were still no Japs on the island. If they weren’t patrolling the waters. If they hadn’t heard the plane.
Too many goddamn ifs.
The navigator turned back to Mike and put his thumb up.
“Now!” Mike pushed, but the professor didn’t go; his white-knuckled grip on the edge of the door held him back.
“Let go! Jump!” He pushed again, but the guy didn’t budge.
“I can’t!” Hamilton’s pale eyes met Mike’s dark gaze and Mike read the fear and the trust in them.
“We’ll go together.”
The professor nodded. Mike stepped up beside him. “On my mark at three.”
“One. Two. Three.”
Both men stepped out of the plane and into the night.

And I have a new m/f series I’m finishing the first book on, about a band of ex-special forces guys who do rescues. But I also have a space military story The Ambassador’s Daughter with a heroine whose family has a long history of soldiers and who is an former Earth Marine. She can kick ass if she needs to, but fitting in is difficult on her new world.

The_Ambassadors_Daughter-Theodora_Lane-200x320Here’s the scene where her father explains her heritage to her prospective in-laws….
At this, Lady Diane gave a small soft snort. Jonathan slowly brought his gaze to her and spoke softly. “Do you have something to say, Lady Diane?”
She raised her chin and glared at him. “Indeed I do, Ambassador. You may be sure my son is a match for your daughter, but I’m not sure the opposite is true. I had hopes Stephen would find a more…traditional woman to marry.”
“When you say ‘traditional,’ you mean, from here on New Commonwealth?”
“Yes. He may be swayed by your daughter’s exotic ways, but in the long run, I wonder if she will fit in here on New Commonwealth.” She smiled, but her blue eyes were steely.
Brett frowned and looked at Stephen. He stared open-mouthed at his mother.
The duke still sat back, his chin now resting on his fist, taking in the scene.
“If I know my daughter, fitting in will be the least of your worries. Brett doesn’t ‘fit in’, she leads, madam.” Jonathan leaned back in his seat.
“She may lead on Old Earth, but here, the women follow what society dictates. Miss Butler may find herself fighting a battle she can never win.” Jonathan locked his eyes on Lady Diane and exhaled. Her eyes were so blue. He hadn’t noticed before. He blinked and then leaned forward to make a point.
“Lady Brandon, let us concede that will be something Brett will have to deal with herself. Hopefully, with your guidance, she will find it an easier time than you suppose?”
“There was also the hope that Stephen would find someone with impeccable bloodlines.” Diane again stared at Jonathan; her gaze never went to Brett.
“Madam, if you are implying Brett’s bloodline is less than any woman on New Commonwealth, you are very much mistaken.” Jonathan’s voice dropped as he sat up straight and placed both hands on the table.
“Am I, Ambassador? Just because you were rewarded for your military deeds I can’t assume that your bloodlines are of the right quality.” She placed her chin on her hand, elbow on the table, and waited for his rebuttal, as if enjoying sparring with him. Her lips curved up in a slight smile.
Jonathan took a deep breath, held it, and then slowly let it out. God, the woman is infuriating. She needs to be either spanked or…kissed. Maybe both.
He spoke slowly, and his voice was very soft. “Madam, Brett can trace her lineage back to Colonial America, to the 1700s. She is a registered member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and a Daughter of the Confederacy. Her forbearers fought in the Spanish American War, in World War I, lived through the attack on Pearl Harbor, and died on the beach at Normandy in World War II. They fought in Korea, Vietnam, and in the Gulf Wars. She has great-grandfathers on both sides that fought in the First Interstellar War. Her bloodlines are without question, madam.” He finished with a sharp nod to Lady Brandon.
Softly, Brett added, “And her father led the Old Earth space fleet to victory and was injured in the line of duty ten years ago against the Ottoman jihad.” She smiled at Jonathan lovingly. He reached out and touched her hand where it lay on the table next to his.
“And Brett served for six years with honor, earning the rank of major.” He finished with a squeeze of her hand. “Look where you will, Lady Brandon, you will find no one better.” His gaze fell back on Lady Diane. Hopefully, she’d listened to the litany of Brett’s bloodline and realized that as much as Lady Diane was of royal blood here on New Commonwealth, bought and paid for by her forefathers’ money several hundred years ago, Brett was a type of royal blood on Old Earth bought and paid for by her ancestors’ lives.
“Ambassador Butler, in the old days, a young woman came with a dowry. It was expected that she would bring certain assets to the marriage. Nowadays, we don’t practice that anymore, I’m afraid. However, I wonder just what Brett will bring to this marriage?” Lady Diane sat back and waited for his reaction.
“Dowry, eh?” Jonathan rubbed his chin. “Well, there’s the ranch in the hill country, that’s twenty-five thousand acres, her mother’s homestead, and four thousand head of prime Black Angus cattle; all her mother’s jewels, which she is already in possession of, although she rarely wears them. The income from the ranch, of course, is yours also, Brett. Last time the accountants ran the estimates of fair market value, it was,” he paused, closed his eyes, and tallied it up in his head, “just over fifteen and a half million North American dollars. Is that dowry enough?” He tilted his head at Lady Diane and frowned.

So yeah, love the military. They are my heroes. Back in the day, very few women served, but I sure respected those wives like my aunt and my grandmother who stayed home, worked, raised kids, made meager pay stretch, and waited for their men to come home, one way or the other. God, that’s some kick-assery, for sure.

Memorial Day is just a day off work to some, but for my and my family, it’s a way to honor and show respect to those living and dead, who have served and do serve our country.

Who are your heroes?

Things I Probably Shouldn’t Say by Lynn Lorenz

I’m too tired for this. Most days I give no fucks.
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Ten years ago, no one knew anything about authors. Maybe if you were big enough, you went on a morning news show. But readers contact you? Nope. Much less every day, or once a week, or have an email you could write to, or a FB author page you could ask questions on. It was sort of nice, I think, having that privacy, that anonymity.

Nowadays, we expect authors to be at our beck and call – doing the promo wild thang – making sure readers knew us, our cats/dogs/kids, and could chat about our upcoming books and the hot guys from the last book, and not just on promo loops or FB party days, but All The Time.
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And that’s fine – for those of us who want to do that. I’m out there, and frankly before FB, I had much more interaction that mattered through email. I’m not talking about likes, or reactions on posts that most of my friends don’t ever see. I mean the fan/reader emails about my books. I had tons of reviews, most of which have been deleted from Amazon recently. I have hundreds of those love letters saved, but around 2-3 yrs ago, they sort of dried up. As FB rose in prominence as the way to contact authors, emails (for me) waned. I still get a few, but not like I did from 2008-20012 or so. And I loved getting them. So much I saved them.
got mail

Mostly because there were only a few writers who wrote gay romance. People got to know us by email. And we knew each other, because the writing community was so small. Not so much now. You might think it’s small, but trust me, there are dozens and dozens of authors whose names I don’t know, have never heard of them or they heard of me. It’s like it reached critical mass and exploded. And that’s okay. Don’t we say, there’s room for all of us?

Look, just because an author doesn’t want to maintain a place where readers have instant access to them, and believe me, FB and promo eat up a huge amount of our time, is no reason to think something nefarious is going on. It might be. But then again, it probably isn’t. A lot of writers are not social creatures. A lot of interaction really bothers them – they shut down, turn off, and for some it fucks with their creativity and writing.
vamp

My way of dealing with the push and pull of “promo/put myself out there,” is that I’m thinking of hiring a PA just to deal with some promo/contests/etc, because I’m swamped with it and have little time to actually write. (anyone have a suggestion for someone who wants to intern for no/little money, let me know.)

I’m here for the writing. The stories. The characters and their heartbreaks. Their HEA. And I do love to talk to readers. I could talk for days about books and romance and how and why I write.

But if someone, or several someones, decide to write the books with a team of people to help them, so what? It’s one way. Personally, I could never give up control of my books. Ever. That’s why I don’t write with a partner. It’s mine! Gimme! Don’t touch the precious!
myprecious

When I was writing like a dynamo, I was doing a novella a month, a novel in three months, but it was with publishers, and subject to their control of edits, formatting and publication. I wrote 40 books from 2008-2015, but I had at least 8 more books sitting in files that I haven’t even touched. I’ve self pubbed a few books, and let me tell you, if you’ve got that book written and edited, it takes little to format and upload. But it does take time. Cover art can be done in a few days. And that takes money. So, time and money.

That being said, if a group of people decide to work together to put out a book out under one name, I don’t care. But readers might, especially if they find the writing is inconsistent or there is shoddy editing. They might complain, but they have the right not to buy any more of those books. No one is forcing them to buy. There is Amazon Sample, after all. Just sample it, if it’s not up to par, don’t buy it. Personally, I never buy books without sampling and it’s saved me a ton of money. (This excludes my very small list of authors I’d buy sample unseen.)

You might not know it, but a lot of big name writers in mainstream fiction write a first draft and then turn it over to their publisher, who has it edited, and fleshed out. It’s a thing. So, to me, it sounds like a writer created her own personal publishing company, each person takes a different role, she writes, someone edits, someone may flesh it out, a formatter, a cover artist, etc. Voila, book!

And if several writers did this, then there would be enough books to churn out every week for quite a while. So they could take advantage of the Amz analytics to create best sellers. So these people are smart, they’re using the system, which everyone knows about, to win. They’re using the price point and KU, and Amazon first to “capture the market” so to speak.

How they split the money is another thing, and totally up to them.FB_IMG_1446351213291

And I understand with all the recent to-do with author identity, plagiarism, etc. going on in our community, some are quick to wonder and speculate. I get it. We’re all gun-shy, sitting on the edge of our seats, waiting for the next shoe to drop.
But is this deceiving anyone? Not really. Did you really need to know there were several persons writing the books or one person with several helping? Not really. This has been going on in the publishing industry for ages.

Is this because they’re hitting the bestselling lists? Probably. Are they gaming the system? Not really. Are they going to stay on top forever? Probably not. Does it mean they’re plagiarizing? Probably not. Does it mean they’re converting m/f to m/m? Probably not.

So maybe we should stop waving our arms, clutching our pearls, and just let it go.
let it go No author owes readers interaction. We never did before, and we still don’t. Interaction is the writer’s prerogative.

Frankly, I’d rather have people email me or post on FB about their experience reading one of my books, good or bad. That they posted a review cuz they loved it so much. That’s what means the most to me. I’ve been a bestseller. I’ve had books bomb. I’ve had months of fantastic sales, and months where I couldn’t buy a Starbucks Vanilla Bean Frappuccino and I love those suckers. It’s knowing someone liked me, they liked me! that means the most.

I’m here for the long haul. Have been since 2008. I’ll ride the ups and downs, the “who are you” and “What do you write?” and the “I’ve never read one of your books” and the “OMG! It’s Lynn Lorenz!” moments. The collapse of a few publishers and the mad dash to get those books back out there. The loss of half my backlist and my income, until it is re-issued or I get around to self-pubbing them.

I might be a “has been,” or not the flavor of the day, or not the name on everyone’s lips or have people begging to review my books, but I’ll hold my body of work up against anyone’s. I consider myself one of the old timers, and I’ll keep writing. It won’t be as fast or prolific as it once was, but it’ll be out there.

In the meantime, please, remember authors are people too, and have lives, and can’t always interact and write at the same time, like walking and chewing gum. And if they get creative in publishing, or write dino-sex books, or whatever, to get their names out there and make some money, that’s okay too.

I wish people would get over this idea that making money by writing is a bad thing. It’s a good thing, it’s a tangible reward for doing something right. It’s how we get paid, folks. Making money is necessary. If we didn’t make money, we’d probably have to stop writing and get a second job. That was my position all those years ago. I wanted to tell stories, but I needed more income, without going to a horrible part time job. I was fortunate that people loved my books.

Its bad enough our books are stolen by people who claim to love our books, either by piracy or read and return. Let’s hope Amazon will stop that practice, or at least clamp down on offenders.

The attitude, of “they’re in it for the money” is like, to me, yeah, what’s your point? Yes. I write to earn money. What about it? I also write for other reasons, all good. Reason like here’s a cool story and love is love and everyone deserves a happily ever after. Can’t I write for all those things?

Damn, this went on freaking forever.

One more thing. Let’s be kind to each other.

To Be or Not To Be? by Lynn Lorenz

I retired in 2014. In 2015, I sold my house. Moved to a new house. Have kids in college.
Lots of changes. And most of them ate up my time like the Cookie Monster cut free in the cookie aisle at the HEB.cookiemonster

Gobble.

Some of the time eaters were events wrapped around my writing career. I attended three conventions – one of them overseas. The one here in the US I actually drove to – and that took days – to San Diego. About 2 weeks. The one overseas was in combo with a long awaited wedding anniversary (30yrs) and a trip to the UK. That took about 17 days. Wonderful, glorious days!

Gobble. Gobble.

Getting our house ready for sale in March-May? Took months of contractors, emptying of the house, cleaning, living in hotels. Not conducive to writing the next best seller. See due to my back, I can’t sit in a computer chair, or any chair other than a recliner, for any length of time. Most hotels don’t come with recliners.

Gobble. Gobble. Gobble.turkey

Last summer, with our house on the market, selling, sale falling through, up for sale again, and finally selling, the family was homeless, waiting for an apartment in August. So we took a trip across the western US. Two and a half months of travel, 4 people, in a car. Needless to say, no best sellers were written. Best I could do was keep up with edits for books already under contract.

GobbleGobbleGobbleGobble.

I thought for sure things would slow down for 2016. I’d be writing like crazy, getting things done!

Then in January, I got news one of my publishers, Amber Quill Press, where almost one half of my backlist lived, was going to close. This month, on the 30th, they will shut their doors. I’m upset, but I understand. They haven’t been the only ones to close recently. But that left me with all these books, and trying to find them homes. The longer they are off the market, the less I make. So I’ve had to spend time finding new homes for them.

Gobbbbblllle.

I used to write on two or more stories at a time. Now I’m concentrating on one story, long overdue. My publisher has been awesome, thank God, or I think I’d just give up. Told her, go on without me. Save yourself.

Nowadays, I think of giving up writing more than I’ve ever done. In fact, I never thought about giving up until this year. Not seriously. Sales suck. And it’s going to get worse until the rest of my books get back up on the shelves. Nothing new coming out anytime soon.

I worry no one will even remember me or know me when they do come out again. One writer friend called herself a “has-been.” I get that so hard. Many of my writer friends talk about giving up for a variety of reasons. Take your pick.

And I won’t even mention the many dramas going on in the writing world that bring me down and make me wonder if it’s all worth it. And more and more I’m thinking, maybe it’s not. At least, not in Lynn’s writing world. With Amazon’s policies – about reviews – I’ve lost almost every review on most of my Lynn books – there’s no way to hit the Amazon analytics. I gave away the first book in my In The Company of Men series – over 600 copies. Reviews? None. I know most people grab the books, save them for later, but not one? Fingers crossed, someone buys the next books in the series.

So after thinking about it, I’ve decided to find my Lynn books a home, but not writing anything for her until later in the year, if the new series gets picked up. I have some edits to one of my books – expanding it a bit – I’ll get that done in May. The Common Powers series has a home. Nothing in writing, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to get picked up, but I need to do this expansion first.

For my Theodora Lane readers, I’m going to finish the first book, long overdue, see how it sells, and if it’s good, write the next in the 5 book series, about a group of ex-special forces men who are the last resort for people in trouble.

I’m going to be pitching two books at RT this April – both Theodora books – to an agent. I have no hopes of landing one, but what the hell. Also, at RT, I’m going to pitch a new series – for Lynn – that I’m hoping will renew my desire to write LGBT books again. Because I really need some inspiration and excitement again.

FB_IMG_1456947913360My life has settled a bit, but the college kids are active, and I’m heading to RT in Vegas in April. Then when I get back, I’ll be at the Houston Author Bash book sale and signing. Once April is done, my writing life can get back on track and hopefully, I’ll be cranking out some new books for readers. This summer will be slow. I planned it on purpose so I could get some writing done.

After this year, I’ll seriously decide on where my focus will be in my writing. I hope I’ll be excited about both my pen names, but if I’m not feeling it, and something has to give, well, it will be what it will be. I’m hoping I’ll find a new home for my writing, and my backlist. I’m hoping my new series for Theodora takes off and she finds an agent. I’m hoping I’ll have so much excitement and inspiration for writing, I’ll forget to eat.

Well, we all know that won’t happen, but it could. Seriously. It could.

We’ll see. I’ll keep you in the loop for sure.

Please, go out and like my Lynn Lorenz and Theodora Lane Author Page. https://www.facebook.com/lynnlorenz2theodoralane/
I’m going to do a giveaway when it reaches 100 likes. So like the page, and get a chance on a back list book from either Lynn or Theodora.

And if you’ve ever read any of my books, please leave a review on Amazon.

Thanks!

Guest Blog by Kayla Jameth – Care and Feeding of an Alpha

ImageProxy.mvc The Care and Feeding of an Alpha

Hello ladies! Thank you for hosting me today on my A Tested Love release tour.

I’m here to talk about one of my MCs. Theron is a kryptes, kind of like the Spartan version of secret service/marine/ranger/assassin and just general badass. A Spartan had to be the top of his class to be offered the honor of joining the Krypteia.
Theron is only given a knife and cloak and sent out into the countryside—alone. Anything else he needs he must acquire by foraging. His task? Prevent a helot revolt at all costs. Using any means at his disposal. Remember that knife?

Theron may appear to be an alpha in my Spartan Love arc of the Apollo’s Men series. However, that was never my intent. He is your typical brash eighteen-year-old who thinks he knows everything because he has never been forced to face ideas that conflict with what he’s been raised to believe.
Therefore he comes across strong and confident in A Spartan Love. He has no reason not to be. But is the arrogant attitude of an untried youth what really makes an alpha? To my way of thinking an alpha has to earn those qualities, grow into the role, and not just have them by some accident of birth. Even wolves with the personality to lead have to earn their place in the pack. Regardless of what werewolf tropes might imply, alphas (of the non-werewolf persuasion) aren’t merely born.

Through the pages of A Spartan Love, Theron is forced to re-evaluate some truths he thought he knew. His birth, his place in Spartan society, and what roles he would be required to fulfill that had all been previously carved in stone are challenged. This is further expanded upon in A Tested Love where he has to decide his future based on either continuing to blindly follow his indoctrination or choosing to live based on what he is coming to believe to be true. Not an easy choice for a young man, made more difficult by his isolation from his normal support structure of family and shield-brothers.

He has to define himself from this point forward by turning his back on everything he knows. At a juncture in his life where most modern kids are still dealing with school and who they want to date, Theron, like most ancient Spartans, is thrust into maturity.
It should come as no surprise to anyone that a youth on the cusp of manhood should be questioning himself. To fail to do so would be to fulfill the adage: the only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys.

Mature men, alpha men, are so much more than big boys with expensive tastes. They need to be able to make necessary any sacrifices and work toward their goals. Goals that they have chosen after serious thought, not just reached for because they were told that’s what they should do.

Theron is defining himself—the ultimate step in becoming an alpha. When he comes out the other side, he will be a man worthy of the respect of his shield-brothers, Apollo, and most importantly, Andreas. None of which would be possible if he didn’t question everything he thought he knew in an effort to understand himself.

For me, that is what determines true alpha status—coming to know yourself, your strengths, your weaknesses, and choosing how to deal with them on your way to maturity. Thumping your chest and acting like a cave man doesn’t make one an alpha. If you have to tell me you’re an alpha, then maybe you aren’t.

Theron is on his way to becoming the alpha he has the potential to be, but along the way he has to face trials and the occasional crisis of conscious. He has to grow into an alpha not become one by fiat.
I’m enjoying watching his journey. I hope you are too.
The Apollo’s Men series is set in 5th century BC Greece. Apollo is gathering warriors and their lovers (m/m) to protect his prophet, the Voice of Apollo.

The Spartan arc—A Spartan Love, A Tested Love, and A Shared Love—follows Andreas and Theron as they come to understand one another despite their nearly overwhelming differences. Can a helot and a kryptes co-exist?

Blurb: Lured by seductive promises, Andreas risked his life to be with Theron, only to find himself betrayed. Abandoned and alone, Andreas resigns all hope of seeing his fierce warrior again and resumes his life as a helot.

All too aware of the harsh punishment Sparta demands of men who love other men, Theron reluctantly surrenders Andreas in hopes of keeping him safe. The warrior returns to Sparta to embrace his destiny in place of the helot he has grown to see as a man, not just a slave. Cold but honorable duty will be his new lover.

Duty proves to be a jealous lover when Sparta demands the final test of Theron’s loyalty. Sent to kill Andreas, Theron must find a way to come to terms with his burning desire for his handsome helot before their forbidden love destroys them both.
ATL Final Cover

Buy links:
Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Tested-Love-Spartan-Book-ebook/dp/B01C4FP4A4/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
DSP http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=7528

Excerpt – Chapter One
Andreas’ heart pounded. Time was running out. If he didn’t find Theron quickly, he would be too late. Somewhere out there his warrior lay injured and dying.

Fearing what he might find, Andreas roamed his klēros, searching his barren holding for his missing lover. His fields stretched as far as the eye could see, blackened stubble growing hazy in the remote distance. No matter how long he walked, he couldn’t find Theron.
He tasted ashes, bitter as blood, on his tongue. Gray smudges covered his once white chiton and discolored his skin. Andreas would never be free of the stain.

Sometimes he thought he’d been wandering forever. Racing against inflexible Atropos, the daughter of night, Andreas was driven to find the kryptes before she cut Theron’s thread short with her abhorred shears.
Night was coming, that time all helots feared—something terrible fast on its heels, death in its wake. Doom now stalked them both, flashes of scarlet in the growing gloom.

He’d never stood beneath any sky without the sun to protect him, protect him from the kryptes and any other monsters roaming the lightless night.
Soon. He had to find Theron soon!
But he was frozen in place, unable to move no matter how he struggled….

Andreas sat up with a shout. He whirled, eyes searching frantically for the red-clad peril pursuing him. His breath came in choppy gasps barely audible above the thunder of blood in his ears.

The stink of soot and fear clogged his nostrils. He took a moment to recognize his surroundings in the almost nonexistent light coming from his hearth. The fire had burned down to little more than a flicker.

Untangling himself from the sodden blanket, Andreas shivered, sweat prickling his skin. He scurried to the hearth. Scrabbling for small bits of wood to add to the fire before he lost any hope of rekindling the embers, he drove a splinter under his nail. “Hades!” But he didn’t examine his finger until the scraps of kindling began to smolder. If the flame went out, he’d have to go to Petros tomorrow and beg a coal from his hearth.

He plucked the sliver free with his teeth and spat it out on the floor. Sucking on the wound, Andreas kept watch as the fire took hold. The mix of coppery blood and wood smoke drew his nightmare back from the shadows.
But unlike in his dream, while awake he didn’t fear the darkness within. The dark without held all the danger for him. Like every helot before him, he’d been taught as a child to fear the kryptes who roamed the night, slaying all helots they happened upon. A helot’s only hope lay within the walls of his home once night fell.

Unfortunately nowhere was safe for any helot who the Spartans determined must die.
The sole requirement a kryptes had to meet in delivering their fate was to remain unseen by anyone other than their victim. Their ability to come and go undetected was part of their mystique, part of what made them so terrifying.

The flames blazed up, filling the single-room hut with light. Andreas sank down to the floor, at first unsure what had brought on the nightmare when he’d gone a month or more since the last one. All those thoughts and feelings he’d refused to give life had come boiling up.
Much too late now, the dream should no longer have the strength to haunt him. Theron was long past his help.
Andreas hadn’t seen the Hekate-becursed man since he disappeared months ago.

How many nights had he sat up worrying about the bastard? How many times had he endured that nightmare? He’d woken with a shout, covered in sweat, too many times to count. And what had he gotten for all his lost sleep? Not a cursed thing.
With his endless searching, Andreas had come to know his lands better than he’d thought possible, but the warrior eluded him, whether in life or in death, he didn’t know.

Andreas chose to believe Theron yet lived. But it was long past time for his fate to matter. Theron should have returned by now if he were still alive. Either his “lover”—Andreas snorted in disgust—had died without him, or more likely he’d left Andreas behind without a second thought. If Theron was alive after all this time, he had no intention of returning. Either way Andreas would never see him again.

Once Andreas realized this, he submerged his grief as best he could. In an effort to avoid his nightmares, he’d worked himself harder than he ever had before. He spent his days tilling his fields like a madman, channeling his frustration into the uncomplaining soil until he was too tired to think of anything while he lay in his bed. Or nursing the wine Myron gave him in exchange for helping expand his vineyard. And his plan had worked, mostly.

Staring into the blaze, Andreas wondered what had driven Theron from him and kept him away. He’d left once, soon after they’d met, but Andreas thought they’d resolved Theron’s concerns about being exposed. Theron had even proposed a solution to the problem of their being together, offering to claim him as his mothônes, his companion.

Theron must have changed his mind.

“He’s never coming back.” Something broke inside Andreas, admitting that. But did he actually want to see Theron again?
Reaching for the wineskin hanging from the head of his bed, Andreas was surprised to find it missing. Glancing around the room, he discovered the half-empty skin where he must have left it on the table when he had stumbled to bed. He needed to refill the flask in the morning.
Without wasting time finding a cup, he drank straight from the wineskin. But the familiar warmth didn’t lull him back to sleep this time.

Andreas rose and paced the short distance between the hearth and his bed. The quick temper he’d inherited from his father came spilling out like one of the plagues from Pandora’s jar. He’d thought he’d stamped the last embers of that smoldering resentment out, but maybe he’d never cared about anything deeply enough to have his belief tested. He punched the mattress a fevered Theron had lain on.
Yet another way he would have disappointed his mother had she been here to see him.

For a while after his father died, Andreas had been every bit as angry as his father before him. Father had spoken out against the annual “war” the Spartans had waged on the helots, so when Andreas had railed on about his father’s death, his mother had grown fearful.

“You’re too much like your father! And what did his anger gain him? Is it not enough I have lost a husband? I will not lose my only child as well!”
Even the tears spilling down her cheeks couldn’t keep him from insisting, “But killing someone just because you can is wrong. What did Father do to deserve death?”

“Never forget we’re what the gods made us—slaves. That is our lot in life, Andreas. What we were born for. We are not, and will never be, their equals. The Spartans can do whatever they want to us. A slave’s duty is to endure. Anything else is rebellion and results in many more deaths. Do you want to be responsible for bringing destruction down on us?”

“They murdered him!”

“The Spartans are very careful to avoid murder. They declare war on us instead.”

“It’s still murder.”

“Ah… Andreas, my heart, the gods agree with them.” Then as if to forestall him, she pulled him into her arms. “It’s hubris to think you know better than the gods.”

Hubris. That ultimate of all sins. There was no answer he could make to that.

Andreas had learned to force the anger down, hiding his feelings under obedience and hard work. And the mask had served him well, until the day a thieving kryptes arrived to set his world and his hard-won composure on its ear.

Now the anger and resentment worked their way to the surface like the fires in Hephaestus’ volcanic forge, ready to spew molten fury and rain down disaster on anyone who crossed him. If Theron were here now, Andreas would be tempted to do more than just yell at the kryptes like he had in the past.

“Foresworn godless bastard! He said he’d stand by me and protect me, but where is he now?” Andreas spat. “Oaths to a helot obviously mean nothing to a kryptes. Pretty little promises to get me to do as he wished.”

As he stomped back toward the fire, Ictis darted under the table to escape his feet.

“Couldn’t even be bothered to let me know.” Another turn back to the bed. “The coward said he’d be back and then disappeared, walked off and left me, letting me think he’d died.”

Once more at the hearth, Andreas glanced down at his gods and picked up the figurine of Apollo. “I can’t believe I asked the Lord of Light to watch over a kryptes, of all people!”

Andreas clenched the clay god tight. The terracotta form dug into his palm, Apollo’s bow pricking the skin. He stared at his fist. After a moment’s hesitation, he carefully returned the likeness to his hearth before he did something unforgivable, like crush it. He didn’t dare incur Apollo’s enmity.

“Still allowing that sneaking murderer to control me. Honorless warrior!”

The fire snapped, and a handful of embers cascaded to the dirt floor. One landed on his knee, flaring amid the scent of burned hair before he hurriedly brushed the cinder away. The small red patch stung and throbbed in reproach.

No longer hiding under the table, the ferret’s black bead eyes regarded him from atop one of the stools. Andreas pursed his lips, trying to expel all the bitterness in his mouth. “What was I thinking, Ictis? Theron would come and take me away with him?”

On the next swing, he flung himself down on his bed. “I’m a fool, aren’t I? To believe there can be anything from a kryptes other than a knife in the back.” He lay there, his harsh breaths slowing. Too angry to sleep.

Ictis pounced on him. “I know you like him. I used to like him. But that lying kryptes didn’t abandon you to your fate after placing you in danger.”