Sunday, 13 May 2012

911 - out 19 May 2012

 Let me start by saying that I don't shy away from controversy, as you'll probably know if you've made your way to this blog. I've tackled subjects such as rape, murder, suicide, domestic abuse, snuff movies and let's not forget cucumbers-as-dildos and I've plenty more in my arsenal (ooh-er). I don't write sugar and spice, I write real, tortured characters and scenarios your mother wouldn't approve of.

But even I thought twice about writing a story set around 9/11.

I wanted to write something for Silver Publishing's Men in Uniform series. Something light-hearted, I thought. Sexy and amusing, something to tap into the universal uniform fetish. First I thought of a cop, not a tough decision as most of my books end up featuring cops. Then I thought of double-hotness by teaming him with a firefighter.

That's when the story went off the rails and down into dark territory.

When I think of firefighters, I can't help but think of the 343 who died on 9/11. I baulked at this topic. I thought I'd offend American readers, but then plenty of other nationalities were killed that day too, why should it be just the Americans I offended? I thought of the topics I'd covered so far and realised this would be the big one. It's sacred right, how dare an author write an m/m romance around it?

With trepidation, I started writing it. I thought Silver wouldn't accept it for Men in Uniform due to the serious subject matter so I looked at potential book covers if it was to come out as a stand-alone novella.
I found these powerful images.
But then, when I'd finished, Silver said that they did want to publish it as part of the Men in Uniform series. I called it 911 after the emergency number with a nod to 9/11.

Here's the blurb:

Ten years after the horror of 9/11 and the loss of his firefighter partner Justin, former NYPD cop Damon Summerfield is back in New York for Christmas with his family. Still deep in mourning with no end in sight, he visits Justin's favourite bar near Ground Zero and there meets Simon, a member of the FDNY and fellow survivor of 9/11. Damon can't bear to give their attraction a chance, not when he thinks Simon's job will tear them apart someday...
Can Simon help Damon with his grief and can they build a future together?

I'm not a stranger to writing about grief, but writing about Simon and Damon's grief is writing about the grief of a nation, of the world. As Simon reminesces on Christmas Day, 2011:

No, not now. Not today. Let me just have one day off from thinking about it. He didn’t need this shit on Christmas Day. Why did Damon have to ruin his whole day with that question—Were you there? At times, Simon felt like he was still there. Still part of the rubble, the bodies, the choking dust. Still a survivor, when he didn’t know if he warranted it or not.
As far as he was concerned, those who died had got off lightly.

Simon and Damon's romance is dark and troubled. Their sex is rough and explicit. Graphic flashbacks illustrate both their continuing suffering.

Simon hadn’t heard the radio order to evacuate Tower One after the collapse of Tower Two. He didn’t know the South Tower had collapsed but he’d felt the building shake violently beneath him and something told him his number would be up if he didn’t get out of there. Luckily he’d been on his way back down to the ground anyway with a group of survivors, carrying one badly hurt woman over his shoulder. He’d passed a fellow FDNY firefighter going up on the nineteenth floor and a cop behind Simon had told the guy, “You need to evacuate, now.”
The firefighter told the cop, “I don’t take orders from cops.” He disappeared up the stairs and Simon turned around to look at the cop who had given the advice.
The cop, covered in dust, bleeding from his hairline, attractive in his uniform—Simon loved cops—shrugged at him tiredly. He joined with Simon in helping his band of survivors down the stairs, stopping to lift one woman in his arms who was too weary and shocked to go further. The two of them reached the lobby, handing the two women over to paramedics and guiding the rest of their charges out via the north and east exits after they were told falling debris and bodies rendered the other exits impassable.
A group of firefighters stood about in the lobby looking disheartened, unsure what to do, some streaked with dirt and soot, others on the verge of tears with every thud that indicated a falling body.
Simon shook the cop’s hand and thanked him for his help and the cop smiled, a smudge of dirt on one apple cheek, his teeth bright. If it hadn’t been the most terrible day of his life, Simon would have got his number with no beating around the bush. Instead, the cop walked away and as Simon watched, he was hit by a falling piece of masonry on the concourse outside.

This book wasn't written for titillation, nor was it written to incite controversy. It was difficult to write but I'm glad I did it.

Hate mail to the usual address please.

To win a PDF copy, leave a comment below. The winner will be drawn at random on the day of the book's release.

Buy link

Raise Your Glasses Tour Ends Today

I'm at Sue Holston's blog today talking about the release of Finding Eden and giving away a free copy. Plus one reader from the tour will win an Amazon gift voucher. Thanks to my fellow authors for this opportunity, it's been a nice ride ;-)

Thursday, 10 May 2012

The Boss Will See You Now


Hello! *waves* Anna Marie May here...
 Scarlet is kind enough to host me today so here it goes. I am actually starting off our blog hop called Raise Your Glasses Tour and you can find the full schedule on my blog here.
I am sure Scarlet has a post on her blog too!
We've all come together to celebrate our new releases so I guess this is my cue to start talking about my newest book, called Being Human. It is part of a series called Fallen Angels and as the name would suggest, it is about a fallen angel. I've recently held a mock interview with Kai, our fallen angel, which is hosted on my blog. You can find it here.
There will be a gift voucher at the end of the blog hop for one lucky winner - so stay tuned for more details.
I've always been fascinated by angels and even when I was little, I never thought they were blond, little cherubs with harps sitting on clouds. I've also taken a much darker view of them even before they became so popular. So I guess, it was inevitable for me to write a story about one fallen angel.
Here are the blurbs for the story:
Love is never simple, especially between an angel forced from Heaven, a Guardian of Earth, and the Devil. The forces of Heaven and Hell are rising, but all Kai can think about is the human who owns his heart.
Love's the key to salvation.
Or is it? If Kai hadn't once loved Lucifer, he might not have started down the path towards Armageddon. Nor would he have met Alex, a Guardian from an ancient blood line who now holds to the key to his heart.
As the forces of Heaven and Hell rise, Lucifer returns with an old prophecy and a legacy that could mean their salvation. But life is never this simple. Amidst new terrors rising from the shadows, and old family secrets being revealed, will the blossoming love between Kai and Alex stand the test of time? Or will it fall victim to the darkness slowly rising around them?
Only time will tell if love truly conquers all…

Reviewed by Pixie, received 4 STARS. You can view the whole review here.
I enjoyed the storyline and the twist of the Prince of Light and the Prince of Darkness was great and Kai and Alex have a couple of clashes, but figure out their relationship in the end. They are also hot together, although I did hope Kai would punish Alex for being an idiot (at least a little bit). This really is a really interesting storyline of how an adversary has played Heaven, Hell and the Earthly realm to begin a war that was prophesized thousands of years before. I am really looking forward to the next story in the series.
I will have to recommend this one to those who love angels, fallen angels, prophecies, hot sex, danger, stubborn men and a great ending.

Now, if you are not into reading a series because you feel it takes too long until it is done (I am right there with you guys), then rest assured this story can be read as a stand alone because it has an ending. I do try to always give my books proper endings even if they are a part of a series.
 And now I am rambling - sorry!
 If you are interested in winning a free copy, format of your choice (as long as it is supported by SILVER), then all you have to do is leave a comment below. Tomorrow I will collect the names, put them into a good, old hat and draw one of you.
 And as a parting gift, here is the offical excerpt:
"Shhhh..."Soothing murmurs, achingly familiar, set off tiny alarm bells within him and yet, the comfort won out over any other emotion.

A hand softly stroking his hair, rubbing his chin, and a sweet kiss planted on the bridge of his nose.

"Don't try to move yet," the man's voice continued, "You're still too weak. You need to give yourself more time to heal."

Velvety sheets caressing his naked body; his head cosseted by the softest pillow he had ever had the pleasure of lying on while his essence quivered with joy and dread.



No, friend!

His dazzled mind tried to decipher what was going on but no matter how hard he tried, struggling internally like he had never done before, nothing he did could make him stay conscious for more than a few seconds.

"Don't squirm," the teasing voice said, "Just relax. You're safe."

He knew whom the voice belonged to, Kai was sure, but for the life of him, he couldn't connect the dots.

At least not yet, and so he drifted back into uneasy dreams, into memories of pain and torture by those he had once considered his friends and family.


He turned when he heard his name, a smile on his lips, but the pleasant feeling quickly vanished when he was grabbed and subdued.

As he was held down, face pressed into the floor, a knee firmly lodged into the small of his back, one of his attackers snarled, "You're a disgrace to our family."

"What?" he protested, "What are you talking about?"

"Take it easy, Raphael," someone else said. Kai didn't recognize the voice.

He craned his head, nearly breaking his neck in the process, to see who else was here. This wasn't right; surely someone would come to his rescue?

Raphael didn't take it easy. At least Kai assumed the vicious kicks to his side were coming from Raphael. Pain shot through his body like cascading ocean waves and he couldn't quite suppress a whimper.

"And you're telling me this pathetic excuse of an angel is one of the keystones?"

"He's been named."

Oh how Kai wished he had a fiery weapon, like his fellow warrior angels. How he wished he could call for it, wield it, and slice the heads off those who were trying to do him harm.

His fingers curled, his body tensed, and in his defense, he did try his best to get free but in the end, what was one scholar supposed to do against Heaven's fiercest angels?

A scream tore free from the depth of his heart, ripping through his chest and setting his body on fire... and then...

... Then he woke up. His ears were still echoing from his roar of pain as he tried to get his breathing under control. When the dark spots dancing in his vision finally ebbed, he fell backwards onto the bed, pulling the covers with him, curling them around his otherwise naked body.

He was glad the dream had cut out there. He shivered; goose bumps traveling up and down his body as he fought against the memories that tried to rise. If he could, he'd he'd erase being tortured from his mind, will the pain away, pretend it never happened. A sigh escaped his lips as he pressed his face into a sinfully soft pillow.

Get your hands off him!

Kai's eyes snapped open again, lips parting in a silent oh. There had been someone else there; someone who had interceded on his behalf... had there been fighting while he had lain there dying?

His thoughts were racing a mile a minute, jumping from one topic to another while he was unable to exert any kind of control. Death for an angel was final and absolute, unlike humans, who could either be reborn or find peace in the Afterlife. There were no such options for angels. You either were alive or you weren't.

"You're awake then," the teasing voice from before was back, jolting his memory, and like morning dew on a cold but bright day, an almost long-forgotten moment rose to the surface.

"Come on, you know you want to!" Lucifer insisted, nudging him along while Kai stood his ground.

"No," he complained. "I don't want to go and look at Father's creation. I've got things to do here."

"He's favoring them," Kai's friend complained. "Shouldn't we go and figure out why?"

"I'm busy." Kai brushed him off and with a fiery glare, Lucifer vanished.

Their last moment together as friends before Kai's foundations had been shaken and his life had taken a turn for the boring without Lucifer in Heaven to challenge him. And since a part of him had always blamed those pesky humans for taking the Morningstar away from him, Kai had never felt any need to visit the Earthly realm himself.

And here is the purchase link at Silver.
So if you want a free copy, post away, ask any question you want and I will reply as soon as I can. I will post the results on my blog and on facebook.