Saturday, January 31, 2015

INTERVIEW: Kathleen Hayes plus #Giveaway! #MMRomance

Hello Kathleen and welcome to The Hat Party! <3 Thank you so much for subjecting yourself to the RANDOMNESS that is a Raine O'Tierney interview! Please don your best hat, and let's get started!

This hat was a gift from my best friend when I
Moved from Texas to North Dakota to keep my face warm.

You’ve been given the opportunity to go back in time and give your 13-year-old self a message. What do you say?

“Don’t let Dad mess you up so much. He loves you in his own way and sometimes that’s all we can ask from imperfect people. Don’t be someone you are not just to keep from hurting his feelings.”

My Dad and I had a decent relationship at the time but over the years, after seeing how he treated my sister when she didn’t act exactly how he wanted, I hid the parts of me he wouldn’t like. Years later, I am learning how not to hide as much and I wish I had learned that earlier. Here is a poem I wrote after he died that kind of sums up our relationship.

So, you were editing along and zombies attack. And they are on fire! What do you do?

Haha. Ummm…are the zombies in the story I am editing or are they in real life???? IT MAKES A DIFFERENCE. ;) I am something of a confidence porn slut (OMG the whole cast of Leverage makes me want to swoon) so if it were in my story, I would do research and make my character(s) the most badass of badass zombie fighters. They would of course need some flaws to be interesting but….competence porn is really a thing for me. If it were in real life, I think I would be pretty screwed. I know that two of the most important Zombie survival rules are: Cardio and Double Tap to the Head (Thank you, Zombieland). Since, I have absolutely no cardio skills and I own no weaponry, I’m probably SOL. However, I did read something the other day that Costco has enough peanut butter in a normal store to feed 12 people for something like nine years PLUS tons of other survival stuff like knives and solar panels. So I might grab my husband and my cat and haul ass to the nearest Costco and create an alliance to hold it against all comers.

Describe yourself using song lyrics.

Lyrics are hard for me because I really just don’t remember them very well. Also, I am still listening to the same mix CDs I made in high school (almost 15 years ago). However, facebook doesn’t do me wrong and I was able to find a few lyrics that I had in my favorite quotes section (before they got rid of it). So here goes:

“If you want me I’ll be at your door // And if you need I’ll be by your side // Cos every day is a long winding road // And I’ll always be here don’t you know” –Cara Dillon, Never in a Million Years

I don’t really identify with the rest of the song but one of my best traits/fatal flaws is that if a friend or someone I love is in need, I am there. It can be hard when that person doesn’t reciprocate and as an extreme introvert it can just be hard all around sometimes but so many people have been there for me over the years, I do my best to do the same.

I also really like celtic/folk music, especially if it is kind of haunting sounding. Often that doesn’t have lyrics but I think those songs sometimes get me better than the stuff out on the radio and whatnot.

You have 200 words—Make. Me. Swoon. (PLEASE!)

James was typing on computer when I opened the door and didn’t look up right away.

“I quit.” I said as I shoved the job offer on to his desk. At those words, he finally looked up. I could tell the exact moment he registered what I’d said.

I am not really sure how he made it around his desk, but the next moment he had his arms around me. It was everything I had hoped for since that fateful conversation three months ago. He was too honorable to date one of his employees. But, as of right now, I was no longer his employee.

We stood for a small eternity, just holding each other. A warmth spread through me and an unshakeable feeling of home swamped over me. Then, in the matter of a single breath, warmth turned to heat and James was pulling my face towards his. Our lips met and I would have been happy to melt into him until I got my fill, if it weren’t for the chorus of catcalls and cheers coming from just behind us.

“Finally,” James said as he leaned his forehead against mine, smile shining bright enough to rival the sun.

What makes you inexplicably happy?

I am generally a happy person so it doesn’t take much. I love when my cat deigns to cuddle with me. I love when my husband does something unaccountably thoughtful or sweet. I love when I have a day at work where I really felt like I was of use.

 Also, in reading, first kisses are my absolutely favorite. Whether a first ever kiss or a first kiss between two characters, I just can’t stop grinning. Sometimes I even bounce up and down in excitement, if it is good enough. On a parallel, I love really meaningful first “I love you’s”. This takes a little more though. “I love you” during sex is never satisfying for me and an insta-love “I love you” makes me want to cringe. It is the hard won, sweet, sometimes begrudging, awe-filled, can’t keep it inside “I love you” that just makes me happy when I am reading.

What is your biggest, most-wild writing dream? (Nothing is too outlandish!)

Right now, I mainly (err…exclusively) write short stories because I always struggle with secondary plots and not wrapping things up too quickly. So my biggest, wildest dream would be to write A NOVEL. I have the basics of a fantasy novel planned out but right now it is just another run of the mill plot and I want to make it special. I am working on too many other things right now to focus on it but someday (REALLY REALLY), I am going to publish a fantastic 300+ page fantasy novel/romantic story that blows your socks off.

What is your favorite literary quote?

OK…literary quotes are my jam (way more that song lyrics) so I can’t pick just one (sorry). Here are a few off the top of my head. I won’t say top three ever because that changes almost daily but these are the ones I am feeling right now.

What is one person's diversion may be another's supreme test. And so often we sit beside one another, unknowing.” – Margaret George, The Memoirs of Cleopatra

“Grief can destroy you – or focus you. You can decide a relationship was all for nothing if it had to end in death, and you alone. Or you can realize that every moment of it had more meaning that you dared to recognize at the time, so much meaning it scared you, so you just lived, just took for granted the love and laughter of each day, and didn’t allow yourself to consider the sacredness of it. But when it is over and you’re alone, you begin to see it wasn’t just dinner and a movie together, not just watching sunsets together, not just scrubbing a floor or washing dishes together or worrying over a high electric bill. It was everything, it was the why of life, every event and precious moment of it. The answer to the mystery of existence is the love you shared, sometimes so imperfectly, and when the loss wakes you to the deeper beauty of it, to the sanctity of it, you can’t get off your knees for a long time, you’re driven to your knees not by the weight of the loss but by gratitude for what preceded the loss. And the ache is always there, but one day not the emptiness, because to nurture the emptiness, to take solace in it, is to disrespect the gift of life.” – Dean Koontz, Odd Hours

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love
What one food item do you consider to be your arch nemesis?

Pizza. O I could compose odes to the glory of pizza. All of which end in heartache as my insides rebel and my organs cease functioning as they are meant. O melted cheese, O chewy dough, O crispy pepperoni: To thou dost my heart belong. Yet, where the heart is willing, the body is weak. Our love is doomed, like that of young Romeo and his sweet Juliet. My beloved pizza sleeps gently in my stomach until it cries out in despair and I want to die as well. We are enemies well met, love not strong enough to overcome our natures. Every time we try to consummate our love, a battlefield emerges. They say that you can hurt the ones you love far worse than those who don’t care. Well, it is true. My true love has become my greatest enemy. Pizza, you have betrayed me and never shall I forget it. Muahahahaha!!!

Biggest mistake you’ve made in your writing career and what you’ve learned from it.

The first two stories I published were Christmas Tradition and Broken. I self-published and didn’t really have much of a beta. I was mainly going off trends and tropes I saw in the genre as I was reading. A lot of those two stories were built based on what I thought I had to include in a story if I wanted people to like it. I look back on them and wish I could take them back and re-write them completely. I am almost embarrassed that they are out there. Now, I realize, even if it means my stories might not be as successful, I need to write what my muse is telling and write the story I want to write, instead of the story I think other people want. In the end, hopefully someone out there will want the story I have written.

And finally, for THE most important question of all: what kinds of dachshunds are the BEST kinds of dachshunds?

I think the REAL answer to this question is ANY kind of dachshund is the BEST kind of dachshund. However, that is a bit of a cop out so, if I had to pick, I would go with a long-haired dachshund.


Aren’t they adorable!?!?!

~ ~ ~

Cover by the lovely Natasha Snow

Sam works as a hospital chaplain and volunteers as a chaplain with the local police department. Called to the scene of a domestic dispute, he cross paths with Frank, best friend of the victim. Though the two share a moment, they go their separate ways…but meet again outside the hospital after one of Sam’s patients dies…

Excerpt (POV is Sam):

Six Months Later
I stopped as soon as I made it outside, momentarily shocked that the sun was still shining. I gasped deep breaths of exhaust-filled fresh air into my lungs and marveled at the passage of time. With everything that just happened, it seemed like the sun should have at least set by now. In reality, I had no idea what time it was. I didn't wear a watch and lifting my jacket to get at the pager on my belt seemed too much of an effort.
My mind kept running around the daylight issue as I made my way across the street to the benches that were just outside the Medical/Market Center Trinity Railway Express station that was situated just across the street from Parkland Hospital, where I worked. I just had to get out of the hospital for a minute. I needed to clear my head.
I stared at the bench trying to work out exactly what I had meant to do. After a moment, I realized there were hot tears flowing down my cheeks. Anger, sudden and overwhelming, bloomed in my chest. I lashed out at the trashcan beside the bench with my foot. I was taken over by such a rage that I think I might have broken my foot if someone hadn't grabbed my arm.
I spun around and caught myself a moment before I punched Frank McKesson in the face.
"Sam? Are you okay?"
I stared at him. "No." He looked at a loss. All of sudden the memory of his arms around me the last time we met surged through me. In what amounts to an out of body experience, I watched as I threw my arms around him—willing to do anything to get that feeling of warmth again.
Frank awkwardly wrapped his arms around me again, and I came back into myself as I fell apart. Somehow we ended up sitting next to each other on the bench. When I finally got my breathing under control, embarrassment flooded me and my face burned red-hot.
"I'm sorry," I muttered. "I shouldn't have just grabbed you like that."
"It's okay, Sam. It seemed like you really needed it. You wanna tell me what's wrong?"
I did. I really did. "I can't. I wish I could, but I'd be breaking about a dozen HIPAA regulations." I paused. I wanted to share something, anything to get this heavy weight off my chest. Just no details. "One of my patients died. He was just a kid and it was really bad."
Buy Links:

You can pre-order it from Less Than Three Press, Amazon, or ARe (but there is discount at LT3). It costs $1.99 at Amazon and ARe or $1.69 at LT3.


*What inspired you to write Light Perpetual Shines?

I originally wrote and submitted it to Less Than Three Press’ “Missed Connections” anthology call. The editor for that didn’t think it really fit with the theme for that anthology but encouraged me to submit it under General Submissions. And here we are. As to the setting, I work in a hospital and I had recently listened to a colleague talk about her volunteer work as a Chaplain with the local police department. I also worked at the hospital that is right next door to the one in the story so I know that area pretty well and have been in that hospital several times. It just kind of came together after seeing the submission call and that conversation with my colleague.

*Is there anything special you’d like us to know about your book?

This is the first story I ever submitted to a publisher so it is really exciting to get to see it actually being published. It is also the story the story in which my main character is most like me (Sam). For better or worse, I guess, I put a lot of myself into creating him. Although, there are some major differences (E.G. Sam is a gay male and I am a demi female).

*What are your hopes for this title?

I really hope some people read it, and maybe like it (I guess that’s probably what most authors want). I would love it if everyone who reads it wrote a review (good or bad) because I am always trying to improve my craft (If anyone wants an advance review copy, let me know).

Also, one of the most meaningful things that has happened for me since I started writing is receiving emails from readers. In particular, I write very open and accepting religious characters (as you can probably tell from the fact that my main character is chaplain). Several people have written to tell me that my characters have changed how they feel about themselves and how they grew up or that reading my stories gave them hope where they previously hadn’t had any. That was absolutely mind-blowing and humbling to hear. In no way do I want to diminish the very real harm that many religious organizations and people have done. However, I hope that maybe some people can see that religious doesn’t always equal hateful.

About the Author:

Kathleen Hayes is a bit of an all-around geek. She has mastered the art of procrastination, is owned by two crazy cats and is excited to have just added a fellow super geek to her clan. Kathleen loves to explore worlds – whether in her head or on page. She welcomes you into her worlds and hopes you have as much fun there as she does!

She writes M/M Romance and poetry. She loves to hear from y'all so if you have questions/comments/feedback comment on her blog, message her on goodreads or email her at

Social Media Links:


Comment below (and make sure to leave your email address!) for your chance to win a copy of Light Perpetual Shines in any eBook format! Contest runs until Friday, February 6th @ 11:59 PM CST!

INTERVIEW: Raine O'Tierney & Siôn O'Tierney w/ a special guest host! Plus #giveaway! #mmromance

Hello Food Deliverers and other denizens of the internet, you are all welcome here. My name is Iron Klaus, and I’m quite chuffed to be hosting my bodyguards and primary feeders (Raine & Siôn O’Tierney) here on the Hat Party. I doubt you have much interest in them, so we’ll try to get this interview out of the way quickly, as I hear there will be treats afterward.

Oh, and here they are wearing hats, you can't see me in this picture, I was busy burrowing under the covers.

First, I’ve heard a lot lately about this house hunting you’ve been doing lately. Is there digging involved? After you kill the house, will you share it with me?

Siôn: It's really exciting, isn't it? You'll have a yard of your own! Yeah, there hasn't really been any digging yet, but I promise, if it comes up, we'll call you in to help out.

Raine: digging up cute things. I mean, you can fight badgers all you want. It's what you were bred to do, but nothing adorable. Hmm...I wonder how often the average dachshund gets the chance to go on a real live badger hunt? Somehow I doubt it'll be an issue in the suburbs, Klaus--but stay vigilant. 

Siôn: And, yes, of course we'll share! Duh!

Why do you both spend so much time paying attention to those hard black pillows, when we could be walking outside or chasing cats?

Raine: The laptops? You know, Klaus we actually have real pillows for you to lay on. You don't always have to flop right down on the keyboard. :) As for going outside...Why go outside when there's worlds to be built, characters to render, and sexy sex-things to be written?

Siôn: Also, we literally go outside any time you get up, cause otherwise, we know you'll just go find something new to pee on! So really, it's your own fault for not getting up more!

On the topic of cats, I know that other guy was grandfathered in or whatever, but you guys really need to do something about him. I heard he killed someone the other day...

Siôn: You know very well that his name is Kitty Pryde, and I’m sure you also know that wasn’t someone, but a mouse. Remember the last time you found a mouse in the house? You just played with it until you lost it and then Pryde had to track it down and clean up your mess!

Raine: Oh Klaus, the tales I could tell. For it or is it not totally true that you and "that other guy" cuddle up together and sleep? And that he sometimes grooms your fuzzy feet? You let him *groom your feet* dachshund. You're not a cat-hater at all.

Okay, okay, this is an interview, not an opportunity to dump on perfectly innocent, handsome, loving, majestic dogs. Let’s get back on track. You guys have some kind of story you’re promoting, can you tell me about my role in it and what about me inspired you to write it?

Siôn: Well... about that... You're kinda not in it. And you really didn't have anything to do with inspiring it (since we didn't even know you when the story took its first steps), but we could totally write a story about you! I mean, uh... how do you feel about shifter stories?

Raine: Dachshund shifters! *steeples fingers* Muwahaha! Perfection!

Why do you always ask people what kinds of dachshunds are the best? Clearly, I am the superior kind. There should be no doubt!

Raine: While I agree 100% that you are absolutely the best kind of dachshund, Klaus... Others may have their own opinions and we have to lull them into a false sense of security and acceptance before we spring the truth on them: Mwahaha! Iron Klaus is the grand supreme ruler of all things dachshundom. <3

Siôn: *under his breath* You're a superior something...  *cough* Thank you Klaus, so much for having us here, and for being so patient with us.

~ ~ ~

BLURB: The city of New Alexandria is filled with powerful magicians-in-training and mechanical follies, the world’s largest library, and marvels beyond compare. The allure of this modern metropolis draws young people from all over the world, but Idrian has come instead for the opportunity to learn the new art of alchemy.

He’s been taken as an apprentice by Maketh, a scholar experimenting with new ways to combine technology and the ancient mystic arts. Together they’ve animated a living ice sculpture. Idrian cannot wait to unveil the sculpture alongside the other wonders at the annual Spring Festival.

After witnessing his master in a passionate embrace with another student, Idrian’s mind drifts to things beyond alchemy. And when a warm touch accidentally awakens the consciousness within the living sculpture, Idrian learns firsthand about physicality and the magic of passion.

EXCERPT: Pushing through his fear, Idrian put his palm against the frigid thigh—marveling that the warmth of his hand did not melt the ice. The artisan his master had commissioned was quite talented. The sculpture was crafted into the perfect likeness of a man. Broad shoulders, tight with hard, corded muscles, and a strong, lovely face. The sheet contoured to its body, hiding nothing of its form. Idrian stared for a long time. Did his master feel that the student Raj was lovely, as well? The way he kissed Raj—the hunger in it—Idrian thought he must. Was that all it took? Being in the presence of someone quite lovely?

Idrian would like to know what a kiss felt like.

Made bold by the privacy of the room and his titillated disquiet, Idrian decided he’d try, just once. And so, hair falling in his face, he leaned over the low table and with only a hesitant little gasp, placed his lips against the hand-chiseled lips of the living sculpture. It was as one might imagine kissing ice would be: numbingly cold with none of the passion he’d earlier witnessed. But as he made to pull away, he found his lips stuck for a brief moment as hot skin will stick to ice. Then it was skin to skin. The sculpture had caught Idrian’s bottom lip and pulled it firmly into his mouth. Sucking at it. Nibbling it.

Idrian gasped and tried to yank free, but found an icy arm snaked around his waist, pulling him down onto the slab, holding him there, trapped.

“You… are… warm.” The living sculpture, which should not have even been able to speak, breathed against him.

Available from: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

About the Authors: Raine O'Tierney lives outside of Kansas City with her husband, fellow Dreamspinner Press author, Siôn O'Tierney. When she's not writing, she's either asleep or fighting the good fight for intellectual freedom at her library day job. Raine believes the best thing we can do in life is be kind to one another, and she enjoys encouraging fellow writers! Writing for 20+ years (with the last 10 spent on M/M) Raine changes sub-genres to suit her mood and believes all good stories end sweetly. Contact her if you're interested in talking about point-and-click adventure games or about which dachshunds are the best kinds of dachshunds!

Siôn O’Tierney is a philosopher and gamer, but above all else, a consumer of stories. The best decision Siôn ever made was marrying his high-school sweetheart a week after graduation. (For the stories, and the sweet, sweet author monies.) These days, Siôn lives in Kansas City with his wife and writing partner, Raine O’Tierney. His free time is spent editing and walking the family's long-haired dachshund, Iron Klaus (maybe that’s not free time after all).

Find Siôn: Twitter | Facebook | DSP Author Page

*~*~*GIVEAWAY TIME!*~*~*

Friday, January 30, 2015

BOOK BLAST: A.J. Thomas' The Way Things Are plus #giveaway! #mmromance

Book Name: The Way Things Are
Author Name: A.J. Thomas
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Bree Archer
Learn more at Goodreads

Blurb: A night of drunken confusion at nineteen resulted in Patrick Connelly fathering a child. Determined to be there for his son, Patrick walked away from a sport he loved and forever hid his sexuality. After Patrick's brutal divorce and a vicious hate crime, his son, Jay, has become obsessed with graffiti. Hoping for a fresh start, Patrick moves Jay to his childhood home in Seattle. Within two weeks, Jay is arrested again. On his way to pick Jay up, Patrick stops an assault, then finds himself in handcuffs too. Thinking things canʼt get any worse, heʼs confronted by the sexiest man heʼs ever seen—his sonʼs new probation officer, Ken Atkins.

The hardest part of Kenʼs job is working with difficult parents, and the undeniably handsome Patrick Connelly is going to be a difficult parent. A chance encounter and steamy hookup with Patrick leave Ken blindsided. As they work together to try to keep Jay on the right path, the passion between them proves impossible to resist. When the assault Patrick prevented comes back to haunt them and Jay gets into trouble again, Ken must convince Patrick that ensuring his sonʼs happiness doesnʼt have to mean sacrificing his own.

Excerpt: Ken shook his head, the motion making his entire body sway again. “I can’t believe you,” he said in disgust. “You have a child home alone right now, who needs an actual fucking role model in his life and actual supervision, and you’re here.” He gestured around at the dusty office. “I would have figured you’d be a bit old and butch for most of the clientele at this place.”

Patrick opened his mouth to deny that he was there selling himself, then stopped. “I’m not that old. And I am an employee of Corbin’s Attic.”

Ken chuckled. “You work for the club?”

“Yes. I had a shirt, but some vicious little drama queen insisted I dance with him, and he wouldn’t take no for answer.”

“You should have called one of the bouncers. They’re serious guys.”

“Uh….” Patrick scratched the back of his head. “I am pretty sure none of the other bouncers here would have come to my rescue.”

Other bouncers?”

“Yeah. Which reminds me, I need to steal another shirt.” The security T-shirts were in a small, tumbling stack on top of boxes in the corner, next to five bigger stacks of black aprons and towels. He sorted through the T-shirts to find his size, then held it up so Ken could see the stenciled yellow “SECURITY” on the back.

“You’re a bouncer?”

“Just until I get my first check from the Port. And until Jay gets in trouble again and has to pay another fine. And maybe until the owner finds someone else to use as eye candy when he wants to make the guy who refuses to go out with him jealous.”

Ken choked. “That was the owner? The blonde guy you were wrapped around out there?”

“That was Corbin Hollis, yes. Which is why none of the other guys would dare help me. He’s my best friend. He’s letting me pick up some hours here because I’m broke.”

Ken looked at him again, just for a moment, before he dropped his gaze to the floor. “I should let you get back to work, then.”

Patrick caught Ken as he stumbled toward the door. “Hang on, now. I told you why I was here. Shouldn’t you be fair?”

“No,” Ken said. “I shouldn’t be here at all. Not if one of my parents works here, that’s for damn sure.” Patrick wrapped his arms around Ken’s waist and tried to hold him steady while Ken squirmed. When he slumped back against Patrick’s chest, the hard cock straining against the denim of Ken’s jeans made Patrick freeze and nearly drop him.

Available from: Dreamspinner Press | AllRomance

About the Author: A.J. Thomas writes romantic suspense. She’s earned a Bachelor’s degree in Literature from the University of Montana and worked in a half-dozen different jobs, from law enforcement officer to librarian, before settling down. Life as a military spouse has tossed her around the country so many times she doesn’t know how to answer when people ask her where she’s from, but she delights in living as a perpetual tourist, visiting new places and discovering amazing things.

Her time is divided between taking care of her three young children, experimenting with cooking and baking projects that rarely explode these days, and embarrassing her husband with dirty jokes. When she’s not writing, she hikes, gardens, researches every random idea that comes into her head, and develops complicated philosophical arguments about why a clean house is highly overrated. Her work has won multiple awards, including the 2013 AMB Ovation Award for Best LGBT Inter-racial Romance, and the 2014 Rainbow Award for Best Gay Contemporary Fiction.

Where to find the AJ: Facebook | Facebook Author Page | Twitter | Blog
Tour Stops:

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

INTERVIEW: Erin McRae & Racheline Maltese plus #Giveaway! #MMRomance

The lovely Erin and Racheline are BACK for another go at The Hat Party! (Thank you SO MUCH for returning!) Please don your new favorite hat and let’s get started with the party <3

How would you describe your style using song lyrics?

From “Counting Stars,” by One Republic, which has become a weird sort of anthem for us.

I feel something so right
By doing the wrong thing
And I feel something so wrong
By doing the right thing
I couldn't lie, couldn't lie, couldn't lie
Everything that kills me makes me feel alive

What made you want to be a writer?

Erin: Writing is, in a lot of ways, a thing that I just do, regardless of my career goals or business plans. I love stories, whether they’re in books or on TV or on the stage. I have seen and read some really amazing stories -- the kind that’s left me staring at the page or screen when it’s over going wow that was incredible I want to make things like that. The impulse to be disciplined and businesslike about my writing comes from that. I’d sit and noodle around with words every day no matter what, but books and scripts don’t come from that.

Racheline: My early schooling was sort of intense about writing.  I had two-hour essay examinations in every field but math from sixth grade on, and regardless of subject style and grammar always counted.  So I grew up with this very intense skill. Combine that with being an only -- and pretty weird -- kid, and it was just really important to me to make myself heard. I was lucky to be given the tools to do that early. 

You won a unicorn in a poker game (nice hand!) Do you use it for good or for evil?

Erin: Well first of all, I’d make friends with whoever I won the unicorn from (assuming they aren’t super mad they lost) because someone who bet a unicorn in a poker hand is someone who has a lot of interesting things going on. But from my limited understanding of unicorns -- which, I’ll admit, comes pretty much entirely from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone -- they are beings of pure good. Trying to use it for evil would probably not end well.

Racheline: This assumes a unicorn is the top of the awesome food-chain.  It also assumes I’m not a card shark who was taught how to play poker by her grandfather at age 5.  If I bet the unicorn in the next hand, what’s in the pot?  I think unicorns pretty much demand going all in.

What is your current writing ambition?

Erin: Racheline and I have kind of an epic to-write list for 2015. We’re currently working on Love in Los Angeles Book Four, and starting to look ahead to Book Five. We have a new series we’re hoping to have some exciting news on soon. And we have some script and screenplay projects we’re always working on that we want to bring to some sort of fruition this year. As always, we also want to get through the next month without dying, getting divorced, or getting fired.

You have 200 (MORE) words—Make. Me. Swoon. (AGAIN!)

While struggling through patch, Alex and Paul have a particularly good night at the premiere for Paul’s new TV show, Winsome, AZ:

Once they get inside, they make it as far as the foyer before Paul pushes Alex up against the wall and kisses him hard. Alex whimpers and lets himself be pushed, fisting his hands in Paul's hair.
"I realize this is a total cliché," Paul says breathlessly as he strokes his hands up and down Alex's sides.

"I don't know, night of your greatest triumph's working out pretty well for me," Alex manages, straining forward to keep kissing Paul or at the very least nuzzle his cheek. It's been months since Paul has touched him like this and he wants. "Upstairs?"

Paul nods but starts unbuttoning Alex's shirt instead.

"What are you doing?" Alex asks breathlessly. Paul's hands on him, even just doing that, feel so good he can barely keep his eyes open.

"What does it look like I'm doing?"

Alex digs his fingers into Paul's jacket and pushes him away. Paul looks devastated for a moment, but then Alex smirks at him. "Upstairs," he repeats and saunters toward the stairs.

Paul races after him.

What’s one thing people don’t know about you?

Erin: I have a horrific sense of direction. Between the two of us, I am always going to be the one who gets us lost. Which is weird and not something people expect, I think -- I’m super organized, and the one who keeps all our schedules and calendars, so navigation seems like a skill I’d have. Nooooot so much. I am really excellent at knowing what time it is without looking at a clock, though.

Racheline: I’ve kept some sort of public Internet presence since 1990 and there are pretty awesome naked photos of me online.  I don’t think there’s anything people don’t know about me that’s conveniently factoid shaped at this point.

What story moment are you most proud of having written?

Erin: There is a lot of really difficult material in Doves, and there were a couple times we finished a scene and then had to get up and take a walk around the block. It’s stuff that’s been absolutely devastating for us to re-read when we’ve done edits and proofreading. Without giving too much away, I am very proud of the scene in Victor’s basement. Which I think readers will either love or be furious at us for.

You can go back to any point in your life to give your past self a pep-talk. How old is your past self and what do you say?

Racheline: Second grade. I thought I was really bad at being like other people, instead of -- like everyone is really -- just different from other people. I really needed to know that my weirdnesses were a superpower and one to hold onto until I knew how to use them. So,  “You are not like the other rats.  Keep this secret, keep this safe.” I would have liked that, being a secret weird rat.

Erin: High school. I used to think that the only way to be successful was to be “good,” and that if I ever failed or if anyone was ever mad at me, it was definitely my own fault. So I spent a ton of time feeling immensely -- occasionally cripplingly -- guilty if something didn’t work or if I ever upset someone. Even if, somewhere in the back of my mind, was this faint sense that I was the one being wronged and small anger at the people who were blaming me. I just had no idea what to do with that feeling. So I’d tell 14 year old me, “You anger is more justified than your guilt. Use it.”

And finally, you’ve just inherited a dachshund farm, what do you do now?

Erin: Quit my dayjob. It’s hard enough to get out the door in the morning when I have two kittens’ worth of cute to contend with. An entire farm of dachshunds would be entirely beyond my ability to withstand. Also, they’d probably need me to take care of them, unless they come with an adorable dachshund-farm-keeper?

Racheline: Learn to drive!  I figure it’s not an urban farm, and those dogs probably need transporting.  They aren’t going to drive themselves! and I’m sure they will come with a busy schedule of Dachshund shows and celebrity animal reality show tapings to attend. Maybe I’ll even get to meet Grumpycat.

~ ~ ~

The ties that bind...

Two years after the events of Starling, Cinderella story and star of The Fourth Estate J. Alex Cook is living happily ever after with his boyfriend, television writer Paul Marion Keane. But when Paul’s pilot, Winsome, AZ, gets picked up, the competing demands of their high-profile careers make them question their future together.

...Can tear you apart

As Paul becomes increasingly absent from their relationship, Alex tries to regain control of his private life and establish a career path independent of Fourth's enigmatic, and at times malevolent, showrunner Victor. But the delicate web of relationships that connects Alex, Paul, and their friends — including Alex's excitable ex-lover Liam and his no-nonsense fiancée Carly — threatens to unravel.

With the business of Hollywood making it hard to remember who he is when the whole world isn’t watching, Alex is forced to confront major changes in the fairytale life he never wanted as he discovers that love in Los Angeles often looks nothing like the movies.

Excerpt: Alex and Paul stay closer to each other than they normally do. Usually it's Alex who curls into Paul's side whenever he can, at least when they’re not in public, but tonight it's Paul who keeps their legs pressed together under the table. More than once Alex sees Paul's mother watching them as they bend their heads together to talk quietly, but Alex has no impulse to pull away or remove his arm from low on Paul's back.

They're sitting out on the verandah together with Paul's family, watching sunset creep across the fields, when Alex's phone rings again. This time, it's Margaret.

The whole conversation is ridiculous on any number of levels, but at least she's not shouting. Her calm, competent crisis-management mode is somehow even more frightening than Victor's wrath, and now Alex's reception of it isn't numbed by terrible stories. The liberals are furious that their sweet Indiana farmboy has the temerity to know his way around a gun. The right suddenly has to deal with the fact that their new if inadvertent poster boy is Hollywood's pet twink. No one is happy. Even beyond the fans who feel betrayed that J. Alex Cook would do something so terrible as shoot beer bottles (he'd made Paul show him some of the choice replies on Twitter), many, many people are angry.

"The NRA called," Margaret tells him.

"I'm on vacation," Alex moans.

"Have you talked to Paul's family about what happens when things like this happen?"

"Do things like this actually happen that much?"

"Are you planning on maintaining dangerous and politically-sensitive hobbies?"

"I'm not going to defend a sport I like and I'm good at because it makes people who say flyover nervous. I shoot targets, not animals, and I'm also not interested in being a spokesperson for a bunch of freaks who think the government is coming for their Jesus. Can't I just be a person who does stuff?"

"I'm taking that as a yes."

Alex swears. And then reluctantly explains that yes, he and Paul have had conversations with Paul's mother, sister, and brother-in-law about some of the realities of a relationship as public as theirs. Everyone has been gracious, but as welcoming as this family has been, Alex knows he's making everyone's lives harder than they have to be just by existing in a relationship with Paul.

Eventually Margaret talks him down from his pitch of righteous anger -- he retreats around the corner of the verandah to keep Paul's family out of earshot as much as possible, because dumping all of this on them just seems rude -- and lays out a reasonable strategy for dealing with it which amounts to much the same as Victor's: Do nothing, and do not do a whole lot of somethings.

"Hey, can't you just say you're trying to get me an action movie deal or something?" he jokes as the call winds down.

"I could," Margaret points out, "if we knew what the hell was going on with your show."
And with that, Alex finally gets why Victor was pissed. Because on top of everything else, they all live in some sort of crazy world where a tweet can be strategy and betrayal.

After he hangs up with Margaret, before Alex can even walk back round to the front of the house, Victor calls again. There's less yelling, and the timing is less awful, but by the time that call is over and Alex has finally slumped back into the chair next to Paul's, Alex is ready to never answer his phone ever again.

Which is when Paul's phone rings.

Paul looks scared. His mother looks like none of this is terribly out of the ordinary. Alex wonders if that's just because she's used to Paul's job or if her life transcended strange and scary a long time ago.

"Answer it," Alex hisses, because he knows this is one of the two calls they've been waiting for and the one that will go a long way towards telling them the shape of the next year.
Paul answers it, and Alex watches him closely as he nods and says yes and thank you a number of times, but he's so damn even Alex can't tell if the news is good or bad.

When he clicks off, he just stares straight ahead breathing for a moment, and what Alex would have once taken as shock or admired as an even disposition now just seems learned in the most unsettling of ways.

"Well?" he finally asks.

Everyone is leaned forward in their chairs on the verandah staring at him in the bug-filled twilight.

"Thirteen episodes," he says softly. "Option for another eight. And then we pray for season two."

The reaction is loud from Paul's family, but Alex just sits there, still bent towards Paul and holding his hand, waiting for the moment to actually connect. When it does, Paul is out of his chair in a flash, hauling Alex up with him into a crushing hug.

"Oh my god, this day," Alex says in his ear.

Paul laughs in utter delight. "So will you marry me now?"

Available from: Torquere | Amazon  | AllRomance


*What inspired you to write Doves?
We started writing Doves almost before we had really finished Starling. We certainly knew we were going to have a sequel from pretty early in the Starling process. We write and brainstorm by essentially telling each other stories, and perpetually asking each other the question “and then what happens?”
This was another case of us wanting to explore things everyone thinks are wonderful -- fame, success, marriage -- wrecking havoc on a social circle.

*Is there anything special you’d like us to know about your book?
Doves is a furious book. We were angry about a lot of things when we were writing it -- the winter of 2013-2014 was not a good time for either of us -- and a lot of that feeling is present in the story. I think we only became clear just how angry it was --  at the media, at the hundred and one grossnesses of the film and television industry, at the difficulty of living a public life, at relationship structures, at the world that doesn’t like women telling stories -- during the editorial process. We have a lot of gratitude to our publisher for letting us make it as challenging and dark a book as it is.  So yes, Doves is a romance, with multiple HEAs for multiple couples. There is sex and a wedding and plenty of I love yous. But the ride it takes to get there definitely goes through a heavily wooded path.

*What are your hopes for this title?
Racheline: I hope it gets people talking.  There’s a lot in there about being your own person before you can be with someone else, and what sort of promises it is and isn’t reasonable to expect from other people. This book is a bit of a rough ride, and I hope it makes people feel like they’re more resilient than they’ve realized -- just like the characters discover that too in the course of it.

About the Authors: Erin McRae and Racheline Maltese are authors of the gay romance series Love in Los Angeles, set in the film and television industry (Starling (September 10, 2014), Doves (January 21, 2015), and Phoenix (June 10, 2015)), all from Torquere Press. Their gay romance novella Midsummer (Summer 2015), about a summerstock Shakespeare company, is from Dreamspinner Press. Racheline is a NYC-based performer and storyteller; Erin is a writer and blogger based in Washington, D.C. They write stories and scripts about the intersection of private lives, fame, and desire. 


Erin & Racheline are giving away away an e-copy of Starling, Love in Los Angeles Book One, drawn from people leaving comments on this interview :) Contest ends January 31st @ 11:59 CDT. Make sure to leave your email address!