Monday, November 9, 2015

Monday's Montage Mantlepiece: Three is Not a Crowd

Why would anyone think three was a crowd?

No. No. No. No. No.

Three is a triangle…

and did you know it’s the strongest geometrical shape?

All the best things come in threes…

Musketeers, primary colors, three-ringed circuses, stooges, blind mice, little pigs. The list goes on.

Of course they say trouble comes in three too…

but we won’t go there… or will we?

**giggle** There’s three sheets to the wind.

And **sigh… drool** there’s three piece suits.

And trust us, it’s no coincidence that there are three ingredients in a BLT.

Or only three elements to the game Rock, Paper, Scissors.

Want to get physical???

Well, there’s… three-legged races… (what were you thinking?)

Political? Of the people, by the people, for the people.

Or creepy? Hear no evil. Speak no evil. See no evil.

Why, three has so much going for it we don’t even need to mention a…

1………… 2………… 3………… sandwich

(substitute your own dream guys)

And of course, there’s: On your Mark. Get Set. And Go!

So Go! Read the short stories in…


B.A.D. Boys by Lily Velden
Brad has a thing about elevators. He’s also had a tough week.
An accidental encounter with Mr. Tall, Dark and Handsome Aiden, and sweet, shy, and innocent Danny, will turn his elevator ‘thing’ into something very B.A.D.

Me, Callum and Dingoman by Asta Idonea
I’m every bit the Everyman.
Or at least I was until I started my current relationship.
You see, there are three of us in this couple: me, my boyfriend, and my boyfriend’s alter ego…

Knowing How He Feels About You by Eric Gober
Three college cheerleaders are bound together by unrequited love, secrets, and lies.
That is until dangers on a road trip threaten their lives.
Who will survive?

Chimera by Alina Popescu
Plagued by nightmares of a lost twin, David struggles to uncover the truth of his past.
 His family insists he never had a brother, enlisting therapist after therapist to cure him.
David’s only happiness is his boyfriend Terry.
Is the dream-visiting twin real?
Or is he a symptom of a mental disorder?
And real or not, will David and Terry’s relationship survive his presence?

Life By Even Numbers by Kay Ellis
Flynn Jacobs is small, eccentric, and neurotic. He’s spent his whole life being ridiculed and bullied.
On a rare night out with work colleagues, Flynn finally meets Riley, a man he has admired from afar.
Riley isn’t looking for anything special. His boyfriend Mitch is out of town and Riley is bored. Shy Flynn is a challenge. He’s meant to be a one night stand but Riley finds he likes Flynn more than he should…
What will happen when Mitch returns from his business trip?

Love in 1975 by L.V. Lloyd
Richard believed his friendship with Laura was based around their passion for writing.
He didn’t realise he was falling in love with her, until it was too late.
After all, how could he possibly be falling in love with Laura, when he still loved Bill?

The Proposal by Eddy LeFey
Malcolm has a decision to make.
His two best friends, Jack and Thomas, have just given him a very interesting proposal to mull over.
His mind, his heart, and his Little Malcolm need to agree.
The decision could change his life forever…

Chance Encounters by Aimee Brissay
Daniel and Michael go shopping for sex toys.
Michael believes their relationship is complete.
That is, until he lays his eyes on the gorgeous shop owner.
Perhaps things are better in threes…

Exploring Heaven by Rian Durant
Chrissie is a very smart Rottweiler who has never shifted until now, enjoying his life as a dog.
What happens when he and his owner, Simon, fall for the same guy?

Author Bios:
Alina Popescu
I am a writer, traveler, blogger, and coffee addict. I started writing stories when I was 10 and kept doing it as a hobby till a few years ago. I prefer fantasy and sci-fi when it comes to writing and I am currently working on a vampire series, Bad Blood. Book I of the series, The Edge of hope, was published in April 2014.

Aimee Brissay
Born in Romania, land of the Iele and Vlad the Impaler, she’d spent all her life surrounded by books. She rode side by side with d’Artagnan and The Three Musketeers to retrieve the Queen’s diamonds, set sail on the Erasmus in search of the Japans, fell in love with Rhett Butler and roamed the Wild West along Old Shatterhand. She walked on the footsteps of the Olympian Gods and searched for Zalmoxis' sanctuary in the Carpathians. In her mind, she’d never been the damsel in distress but rather the knight in shiny armor fighting for a cause.

With a background like this, turning to writing was no surprise. She discovered erotica early on in life and never looked back. Now she can write anywhere, even in a crowded room or a busy subway station, but she loves solitude.

When she’s not at her evil day job, she can be found writing or playing with her cat. She welcomes messages from readers and promises to answer all of them as soon as possible.

Lily Velden
Lily Velden lives on the east coast of Australia, her family having emigrated from Holland when she was a child.

She’s both a left and right brain person, holding qualifications in both Finance and Fine Arts. She tells her friends that her way with numbers will make her a profitable artist… one day.

Lily has always had a love of language and a beautifully crafted sentence, often incorporating text into her artworks. When a shoulder injury slowed down her art practice, she decided to explore her love of the written word more fully. “I’ll paint my pictures with words.” All artworks described in her stories are her own.

Lily is a single mum to three little treasures who aren’t so little anymore and when money was scarce she wrote and illustrated short stories for them, casting them as the central characters. The children enjoyed them so much that her daughter still calls her Meha instead of Mum, after one of the characters she created for them.

There are many things Lily loves; here are just a few: the smell of freshly baked goods and mown grass, a smile from a stranger, rainbows after the rain, and witnessing a promise kept.

Asta Idonea
Asta Idonea is an alternate pen name of author Nicki J Markus.

Nicki was born in England in 1982, but now lives in Adelaide, South Australia with her husband. She has loved both reading and writing from a young age and is also a keen linguist, having studied several foreign languages.

Nicki launched her writing career in 2011 when she released several short stories with Wicked Nights Publishing. She then had two novellas published with Silver Publishing, prior to the company’s closure.

At present, she has several new projects on the go. As well as branching out into the exciting world of M/M under the pen name Asta Idonea, Nicki is working on the first book in a fantasy-mythology trilogy and hopes to find a publisher for it in 2015.

Nicki currently works as a freelance editor and proofreader, and in her spare time she enjoys completing MOOCs and pursuing other interests, including: reading; music; theatre; cinema; photography; sketching; and cross stitch. She also loves history, folklore and mythology, pen-palling and travel

Eric Gober
Eric Gober is a fan of quirky characters, family drama, coming-of-age stories, and the angst of good romance. He rolls them into one in his award-winning debut novel, Secrets of the Other Side.

When not writing, he can be found curled up with a good book, seeking inspiration from the big screen, or hanging with great friends. He is an avid runner and enjoys trail running and half marathons.

He grew up in Las Vegas and now makes his home in Los Angeles. He is at work on a new novel set amid California’s marriage-equality battles.

Kay Ellis
Kay Ellis lives in rural Oxfordshire with her two daughters. She has written stories from an early age, starting with an epic adventure penned at primary school which sadly had to end when a hard-hearted teacher refused to supply any more writing paper.

Over the years Kay’s style has changed as she has grown more confident in her writing, developing a relaxed and informal style. She has also become braver in content, turning her hand to writing gay and straight erotica.

Kay writes for the love of writing and from a fear her head will explode if she doesn’t have a release for her vivid imagination.

It’s only now Kay has found the courage to submit work for publication, having recently finished in the top three of a national writing competition.

Kay Ellis can now be found on Facebook.

L.V. Lloyd
After thirty years of working with the unemployed, coping with threats, tears and broken lives (and these were only from fellow staff), L.V. LLOYD decided it was time to make her escape.  And what better place to go than the world of m/m romance?  She started writing Dangerous Tension, her first ebook, years ago, but put it aside due to work and family commitments.

In 2012, she dusted off the foolscap pages stored under her bed, finished the story and turned it into a book.  Since then, she has written three more ebooks in the Aurigan Space Saga series, and numerous short stories.

L.V. Lloyd lives in Adelaide, Australia, with her family and two cats.  In her spare time she enjoys fishing and visiting the many local wineries.

Eddy LeFey
Eddie LeFey started reading m/m romance fanfiction a few years ago. At one point, during a crucial point in the soap opera storyline of his favorite gay couple, the story went on hiatus. He needed a fix and decided to write his own version of what he wished would happen. Friends wanted to read it, so he plucked up his courage. Pressing the submission button was nerve-wracking, but he did it. People liked it. He wrote a few more.

Up until that point Eddy had tried his hand at writing many times. The delete button was his friend, as was starting over, and over, and over, but he could no longer do that if he wanted people to read his works.

A few of his writing friends decided to create original stories, and feeling brave, Eddy did the same. The stories were shared among a select few. They encouraged him to submit one of them. Low and behold, it is now being published.

Eddy lives in Canada with his husband Ken and his cat Oscar Wild. He is busy writing many more stories.

Rian Durant
Rian is one of those who are both blessed and cursed by the insatiable desire to write stories. Short stories, sometimes longer stories and
yeah, primarily M/M (you can insert more Ms if you like) romance stories.

Always having a plot in mind sometimes proves being hard when having a day time job but Rian manages them both for the time being, assisted by the priceless support of her soul mate, large amounts of coffee and pure obstinacy.

What makes Rian smile is a sunny day, a beautiful flower, a piece of chocolate, a nice song, a good book and anything that could be the reason for that spark in the eyes, accompanied by the exclamation:

"Oh my, I just saw something!"

Alina Popescu

Aimee Brissay

Lily Velden

Asta Idonea

Eric Gober

Kay Ellis

L.V. Lloyd

Eddy LeFey

Rian Durant


Thrash by Charity Parkerson

Title: Thrash
Author: Charity Parkerson
Series: Hard Hit #3
Genre: M/M Romance
Release Date: October 26, 2015
Publisher: Punk & Sissy Publications
An out-of-control hockey star.
A ruthless agent.
One needs discipline.
The other, release.

Henley has been perched on the edge of self-destruction for years. Drugs, alcohol, and dark fetishes are only a few of his vices. When the only man capable of controlling him turns his back for good, Henley finally crosses the line, losing everything.

Kieran Steele is considered one of the most ruthless agents in the world of sports. His cutthroat tactics have never failed to land the deal of every athlete’s dreams. When he sets his sights on something, he always gets what he wants. What Kieran wants most is Henley.

For years, Kieran has watched Henley from the sidelines, fantasizing. Now, Kieran is the one person who can give Henley what he needs—ice beneath his skates and pain in his bed. But is one man’s obsession stronger than the other man’s demons?

“Henley Theriot was arrested for assault last night outside Darker Set. We contacted the nightclub, best known for catering to people living alternative lifestyles, and the owner refused to comment as to whether the onetime Stanley Cup hopeful had been inside the club before the fight leading to his arrest. Several witnesses claim Theriot was visibly intoxicated.”

Letting loose a loud curse, Henley tossed the TV remote across the room. His meeting with league officials ended an hour earlier. They’d wasted no time calling him to carpet after his arrest and suspending him for the next four games. He didn’t need to keep listening to the blonde newscaster to hear that bit of gossip coming up next. Things were just getting started. Of course, Henley was the only person who knew that part. The league had also ordered he undergo a full drug screening. One he’d been escorted directly to from the meeting. He wouldn’t pass. His career was over.

Now, with half a bottle of prescription pills down, his life probably would be soon, as well. Not that he cared any longer. With that thought still fresh on his brain, Henley tossed back two more of the white tablets, hoping for some relief. There could be no doubt he was losing everything. Henley didn’t particularly care to remember it tomorrow. A knock landed on his door. The sound bounced off the walls of Henley’s brain, making his eyeballs ache from the vibration. Of course, it also could’ve been the chattering of his teeth. When had that started? The room spun, and the banging increased.

Closing his eyes, Henley swiped his hand over them as the world titled on its axis. When he opened his eyes again, he was on his knees. Funny, he hadn’t felt the fall. He tried pushing himself back to his feet, but his body refused to obey. That was fine. Going down onto the soft, welcoming carpet of his bedroom’s floor, Henley curled into a ball. Maybe he’d take a nap—forget everything for a little while. No matter how hard he tried, Henley couldn’t focus on anything. His eyes fell closed, shutting out the spinning blur. Whoever was banging on his door wasn’t giving up. They could go fuck themselves. He was done with making nice for the day.

Everything went black before color and light came rushing back to his senses then falling into inky darkness again. Henley caught short glimpses of Alex hovering over him with panic in his eyes. A small part of his brain wondered over the man’s presence, but Henley couldn’t cling to the question or reality. Hell. He wasn’t even sure if Alex was really there. All Henley wanted was to sleep—peace.

“Oh, hell, no. Don’t you go to sleep, Hen. You’ll fucking die if you sleep, man.”

Henley tried to snort at the claim, but nothing happened. What did he care? Bring on death. He hadn’t really been alive in a long time. Only the mild curiosity over Alex’s presence kept Henley from giving in. Alex kept talking, saying things Henley couldn’t understand. The sound of his voice got farther away. Henley sighed in relief. Now he could sleep.

Author Bio:
Charity Parkerson is an award winning and multi-published author with Ellora's Cave Publishing, Indie Publishing House LLC, and Punk & Sissy Publications. Born with no filter from her brain to her mouth, she decided to take this odd quirk and insert it in her characters.

*Winner of 2, 2014 Readers' Favorite Awards
*2015 Golden Flogger BDSM Award Finalist
*2013 Readers' Favorite Award Winner
*2013 Reviewers' Choice Award Winner
*2012 ARRA Finalist for Favorite Paranormal Romance
*Five-time winner of The Mistress of the Darkpath


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Release Day Blitz: How We Began

Title: How We Began
Authors: Alexis Hall, Amy Jo Cousins, Annabeth Albert
Delphine Dryden, Edie Danford, Geonn Cannon, Vanessa North
Genre: LGBTQ+, New Adult, Romance, Young Adult
Release Date: November 9, 2015
How does love begin? A glance, a gesture, an unexpected offer of help from a stranger…or from a good friend. A smile across a counter at a coffee shop or video store. A  secret revealed in a song from another place and time. Or in a love ballad crooned at a high school dance.

In this anthology of never-before-published sweet LGBTQ+ stories, seven authors explore the beginnings of love between young and new adult couples. All proceeds will support The Trevor Project’s work with crisis intervention and suicide prevention for LGBTQ+ youth.

Extinction Level Events by Geonn Cannon
Cassandra loved the town; it seemed as if everywhere else on the North American continent humans set up camp and reformed the land to make it “better.” Then settlers reached the Pacific Northwest and decided to leave everything alone as much as possible. She turned right so she could drive past the waterfront. The landmass visible across the water was Canada, meaning she was feet away from where America ended. She was moving to Savannah to attend the College of Art and Design. Savannah was another coastal city, and when she arrived she planned to stand on one of the most eastern extremes of town. That way she could say she had bookended the American continent.

Natalie thought it was crazy she had chosen a school on the other coast, but it was a calculated decision. SCAD was her dream school, yes, but she also felt she needed the distance. She needed to find out who she was beyond the confines of her life so far. Everyone in town knew her, had a picture in their head of who she was, and she knew shedding their preconceived notions would make it harder to explore any new avenues. She needed a fresh start, and leaving everything behind was the best way to do that.

She knew she shouldn’t be scared. Yes, this was a big change, but change was second nature to her. Throughout high school she had changed her name so many times that, on the first day of senior year, one of her friends jokingly gave her a blank name tag and told her to “fill it out at the beginning of the day, just to make things easier on us.” She’d been Cass, Cassie, Sandy, Sandra, and C.K. In some places online she was CassFromCascara, just because she liked the way it sounded. Her naturally blonde hair had turned red, black, maroon, back to red, back to blonde, then cut so short her mother scolded that she might as well have shaved it. She hadn’t gone to that extreme, but she did seriously consider it for a few weeks.

Her mother was supportive of every experiment Cassandra tried. “High school is your fitting-room stage. Try on everything and see what fits. Otherwise how will you know who you really are?”

Of course, her mother didn’t know the major conclusion she’d reached at the end of all her experimentation. Cassandra had ended up with shoulder-length hair in her natural blonde, and she’d decided her birth name was just fine for her. Friends could call her Cass or Cassie, but for all intents and purposes she was Cassandra. She was blonde. She was a high school graduate. She was gay. She liked soccer. Only one of those facts wasn’t common knowledge.

Alexis Hall

Amy Jo Cousins

Annabeth Albert

Delphine Dryden

Edie Danford

Geonn Cannon

Vanessa North

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Release Day Blitz: #♥ by Cambria Hebert

Title: #♥
Author: Cambria Hebert
Series; The Hashtag #6
Genre: New adult college romance 
Release date: November 9, 2015
Cover Design: Mae I Design
Lovers Gonna Love…

Family isn’t always defined by blood.

Sometimes family is born of love…


And choice.

Sometimes the bond that comes from someone having your back through the shittiest of times is stronger than anything you get from genetics.

And sometimes you find that piece of your soul you didn’t even know was missing

I’m a lucky guy like that.

I found a love that will never fade. I found a group of people who aren’t just my friends.

They’ve become my family.

There’s only one place to go from here.

I’m gonna bind myself to Rimmel in every possible way.

I’m gonna bring our family even closer together.

The past has taught me it won’t be easy.

Especially when faced with repercussions from a night that ended in death.

But that’s okay.

Family doesn’t quit each other.

Love like ours never dies.

Happily ever after isn’t just for storybooks.

Author Bio:
Cambria Hebert is an award winning, bestselling novelist of more than twenty books. She went to college for a bachelor’s degree, couldn’t pick a major, and ended up with a degree in cosmetology. So rest assured her characters will always have good hair.

Besides writing, Cambria loves a caramel latte, staying up late, sleeping in, and watching movies. She considers math human torture and has an irrational fear of chickens (yes, chickens). You can often find her running on the treadmill (she’d rather be eating a donut), painting her toenails (because she bites her fingernails), or walking her chorkie (the real boss of the house).

Cambria has written within the young adult and new adult genres, penning many paranormal and contemporary titles. Her favorite genre to read and write is romantic suspense. A few of her most recognized titles are: The Hashtag Series, Text, Torch, and Tattoo.

Cambria Hebert owns and operates Cambria Hebert Books, LLC.


#♥ #6

#Nerd #1

#Hater #2

#Player #3

#Selfie #4

#Poser #5

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Sugar Skulls by Glenn Dallas and Lisa Mantchev

Title: Sugar Skulls
Authors: Lisa Mantchev & Glenn Dallas
Genre: Dystopia, New Adult, Science Fiction
Release Date: November 10, 2015
Publisher: Skyscape
Welcome to Cyrene, a city where energy is currency and music is the lifeblood of its young citizens. Everyone lives on the grid, and the residents of the world’s largest playground are encouraged to pursue every physical and emotional pleasure imaginable.

Vee is the lead singer of the Sugar Skulls, an all-girl band that is Corporate’s newest pet project. Micah haunts the city like a ghost after an overdose of a deadly illegal street drug knocks him off the grid. When Micah and Vee forge an immediate, undeniable connection, their troubled worlds collide.

Trading concert stages for Cyrene’s rooftops and back alleys, they have to evade vicious thugs and Vee’s possessive manager as they unravel the mysteries connected to their dark pasts. And before the curtain falls, Micah and Vee will bring the city to its knees in their desperate bid for love, home, and a future together.

She looks straight at me. Gazes at me. Gazes through me.

The first note slips past her lips. It rolls over the crowd, and they’re instantly hers, already amped and soaring higher. There’s nothing quite like popping your Cyrene cherry, and a hundred newbies are experiencing it all around me as their nanotech processes the music, the drugs, the booze.

I miss that.

So it damn near knocks me on my ass when her words smash into me, and inside I unfold, like flesh-and-blood origami. Hands numb, mouth dry, blood on fire. I just stand there, rigid, muscles refusing to respond. Can’t move. Gotta move. Too exposed here. But her voice runs through my veins like napalm.

For a moment, a long moment, an eternity of a moment, I’m lost. This . . . this is impossible. Flutters and tingles and frissons long absent, jolting me as dormant synaptic pathways are jarred back into service. If strings ran up my spine, she just plucked the high E, a fierce vibration that shakes me to my core.

She looks away, and quakes subside into mere tremors. I close my eyes, welcoming new sine waves of sensation for three sharp breaths, then open them again, back in control. Propping myself up against the bar, I abandon my drink to process the last few seconds.

All these months, there’s been nothing. But just now? I felt it. I feel it. I pulse with life, lightning dancing across my skin as she batters the crowd with furious verses.

But I’m stuck on that first gasp.

One note. One word. She laid me low and resurrected me in one fell swoop.

Who is this girl?

Wrapping the microphone cord around my hand, I really lay into the lyrics, jacking straight into the brains of the audience. The boys and girls slosh around the pit like iridescent-foamed water in a dirty fish tank.

Except for the guy. The guy at the bar with the piercing gaze and the messy hair and the look of a lost soul. I’m too far away to see the color of his eyes, and he isn’t wearing anything worth noticing. Not the sharp edges of clothes fresh off the rack. Not the silver glint of a dozen facial piercings. None of the writhing subdermal implants or interchangeable magnetic tattoos that are the latest trends to hit hard and fast. At least, not any I can see from my vantage point. Black shirt and jeans that help him fade into the background. Dark blond, lacking all the bleach and color of anyone who spends any time in the sun or a salon. Even leaning back, every line of his body indicates a readiness to bolt.

I force my attention back to the pit, determined not to spare him another thought.

Just another gig, Vee. Just another audience. Get through the song, already.

Need to move. Need to run. Should run. Should get out of here.

It takes supreme effort to tear my attention away from her long enough to acknowledge her partners in crime. Treble summons entire orchestras and metal bands from her laptop and synth with a few frenzied keystrokes. Trouble snarls with hungry delight as she channels torrents of sound with a pair of haptic gloves, manipulating the very notes midstream like an angry sorceress as holographic turntables whirl in the foreground.

But front and center, there’s Her. She’s a creature of myth, with Her siren song and Her banshee wail. The set’s barely begun, but the hive’s heart and my heart both beat to Her drum.

Our eyes finally meet again, and I’m thrown back into a surging sea. When that first note hit, I was a drowning man finally breaking the surface. This time, the current simply takes me.

Outside, I betray nothing. Cucumber-cool and casual, even as Her eyes narrow and Her gaze bores into me. My crippled nervous system allows little else to show. But inside, I’m a being of crystal, oscillating in perfect harmony.

Running is the last thing on my mind now.

I should call a bouncer and have him ejected. Injected. Hauled off for a diagnostic and a thorough probing. There’s something not right. Not right with him. Not right with the way he looks at me or the way the song pours into him like water into the desert.

I force myself to look away, to push through the next song. If it’s not working for him, he’ll leave, right? He’ll go register a complaint with the main office, and they’ll roll up to the Loft and ask a lot of questions that boil down to the same freaking one I have:

Why isn’t he responding to the music?

Approaching the end of the set, the lyrics get rough around the edges, liable to rip if I lean into them any more than I already am. Everyone below me is frantic, writhing. Thrum output’s still on the rise as the lasers scan the crowd, gather up the ambient energy, and funnel it away. Neat, clean, efficient—and why we’re all here.

Except for the guy leaning against the bar. Separate from the others. Motionless. Gaze latched on me like he’s dying and I have the cure in my pocket.

That’s when I realize he’s responding, all right. Just not the way I expected.

Fuck the grid. I’m the one with the power right now.

The mood is shifting. The air is thick with it, the crowd buzzing and overstimulated, neurons firing and misfiring as the hive responds to Her rage, and She unleashes it. I swear, the ground trembles with thumping bass lines. She just might bring Hellcat Maggie’s down around us.

Now Her eyes won’t leave mine. She’s no longer the eye of the storm; She’s the storm itself, pounding the crowd and sweeping them along with Her.

I’m pushing it. I can feel the stress building in the new thrum-collectors like a force field against my bare arms, my throat, my lips. It’s too much for this crowd, too, their fresh nanotech already blitzed out and buzzing. I should dial it back. Get backstage. Take a handful of pills. Chill the fuck out.

It’s been a year since the last blowout, the last blackout. Three hundred and sixty-five days of uninterrupted consciousness, flushed down the toilet for the sake of some asshole staring at me from the bar.

I twist the microphone out of the stand and launch into something new. To hell with the set list. To hell with Corporate-approved garbage. I find words that have been bouncing around in my head for so long that I can spit them out now, perfect and round. “It’s all just screams and whispers, just prettied-up and dyed. Your fuck-façade all faded, a tarnished future bride . . .”

Somewhere behind me, Jax loses her shit.

“What the hell are you doing?” she shouts over the thumping rhythm that’s our artificial heartbeat. “Break time! Sasha’s gonna wet ’em, and I need a hit of silvertip!”

Despite the protest, she turns up every dial and pushes up every slide, fingers moving over the touchscreens with brutal efficiency. Sasha’s already pulling in chants from sixteenth-century monasteries and screams recorded in hospital waiting rooms. I can feel the fluid in my inner ears pulsing.

I’m going to get a reaction out of our silent onlooker, even if I fall headfirst into a blackout.

So I let him have it, all the words and the anger and betrayal and despair I hold in my hummingbird heart. The rest of the crowd moans and sways, crashing into each other, molecules colliding. Hellcat Maggie shouts something at Sasha, then tries the headset, but all I get from my earpiece is crackling feedback that drives me hard into the next verse.

I lock eyes with the stranger, vomiting up all my dark, dirty guts for him to see. Below me, the flotsam holds itself upright. If these people were pleasantly giddy before, now they’re stumbling drunk. A few fall and are dragged to the side by security. A couple kisses so hard that blood trickles from the corners of their mouths. A threesome in the back crashes into an alcove, tearing the velvet curtains from their brass rod.

I can’t stop myself now. I close out the set with a crescendo that drives everyone and everything off a cliff and into glorious sonic freefall.

Author Bios:
Glenn Dallas
When not working on puzzles for Penny Press or writing about them for PuzzleNation, Glenn Dallas is an author of short stories and at least half of one novel. After appearing in the acknowledgments of several outstanding novels, he looks forward to returning the favor in the future. 
Lisa Mantchev
Lisa Mantchev is the acclaimed author of Ticker and the Théâtre Illuminata series, which includes Eyes Like Stars, nominated for a Mythopoeic Award and the Andre Norton Award. She has also published numerous short stories in magazines, including Strange Horizons, Clarkesworld, Weird Tales, and Fantasy. She lives on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State with her husband, children, and horde of furry animals. 

Glenn Dallas

Lisa Mantchev

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The Secrets We Kept by Lily Velez

Title: The Secrets We Kept
Author: Lily Velez
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Young Adult
Release Date: November 8, 2015
One year. That’s how long it’s been since childhood sweethearts Sully Graham and Cadence Gilbertson broke up, since one adoption and one out-of-state move turned their worlds upside down.

Suddenly, Cadence is back in New York City, but something’s different about her. The light in her eyes, the music in her laughter, the warmth in her smile—all of those things have entirely vanished. In their place stand the makings of a girl Sully can’t even begin to recognize, much less understand.

Still, despite the collective history of heartbreak between them, he’s convinced he can win her trust again, and he’s committed to proving the invincibility of their love no matter what it takes.

But Cadence is quietly harboring secrets of her own. Dark secrets. Ugly secrets. Secrets that could break a person. And though broken herself and unbearably lonely, she’s determined to protect Sully from her terrible, biting truths. Even if it means locking him out of her life forever.

The only problem is it seems her heart hasn’t quite received the memo. One glimpse of him is all it takes for her to trip into familiar (and, she’ll admit, addictive) feelings that threaten to all but consume her. Now her biggest fear is that her secrets will begin to slowly unravel one by one…long before Sully’s resolve ever does.

The Secrets We Kept is a moving story about first love, friendship, and forgiveness, and the enduring bonds that forever connect us and give us our strength.

That evening, he’d been returning home from the library, where he’d met up with some classmates for a group project. When he entered the Peterson home, the Ol’ Man was planted in front of the TV. He reminded Sully of a centaur sometimes, except that he had a knockoff La-Z-Boy for his lower half and not a horse. Pausing in the doorway, Sully checked the time on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles watch he used to wear (a birthday gift from Spencer). This was the hour he and his foster siblings were allowed their allotted TV time. The fact that the channel wasn’t switched to a cartoon or comedy was the first indication that something had happened.
“You got a problem?” His foster parent looked at him with daring, black eyes as he clutched a beer bottle in his hand. Sully was surprised the bottle didn’t shatter in his grip.
“Nope.” It was the correct response to such a question, even if it wasn’t true.
“Then close the damn door. The air conditioner’s on. I don’t work myself half to death so that you brats can waste everything around here.” He took a swig of his beer and returned his attention to the baseball game. “That’s the problem with the lot of you. Ungrateful. When I was growing up, I knew how to be thankful for what I had. Your generation could use a good lesson or two in that department.”
Sully took the diatribe as clue number two. He only hoped that Spencer hadn’t been today’s target. His younger brother’s attitude was evolving the older he got, and he tended to be more reckless and impulsive when it came to backtalk.
“You have to learn how to keep what he says from bothering you,” Sully had told him once. It was an artform, but it was one they’d all have to master if they wanted to survive the wrath of Ol’ Man Peterson. Sully had come to simply ignore any and all incendiary words, letting them ricochet right off him as if the Ol’ Man was throwing darts at Teflon.
He made his way into the kitchen, where he found Spencer looking out the back door’s window. “So who pissed off the Ol’ Man this time?” He pulled open the fridge and reached for a juice box. When Spencer still hadn’t answered, he twisted around. His brother was staring at him with eyes made round by bad news.
It was like something inside Sully’s stomach was free-falling. “What is it?” He discarded the drink on the kitchen counter and stepped closer to his brother.
“Ol’ Man Peterson came in here to make a sandwich,” Spencer started to explain, “but I had used the last two pieces this morning for toast. He went off like he always does and then asked who was responsible. I started to say it was me, but Cadence answered before I could stop her and took the blame. Then he—” He stopped, the knob at his throat moving up and down as he swallowed hard.
“He what? What happened?”
Spencer’s voice grew quiet. “He smacked her, Sully. Harder than I’ve ever seen him smack anyone.”
“Where is she?” The blood in his body was turning to lava. The only thing he wanted to do in that moment was storm back into the living room and confront the Ol’ Man for what he’d done. He’d learned about ‘fight or flight’ in school, how ordinary suburban, soccer moms could lift cars if it meant saving their baby. He was only fourteen, but he was betting he could do some real damage to his foster dad if he had to, if he really wanted to. He really wanted to.
Spencer motioned to the back door, and Sully pushed past him to slip outside. He found Cadence sitting on the patio steps, enveloped by the inky blackness of the night. The leaves on the backyard tree gave off crackling noises as they quivered in the spring breeze, which is why he didn’t hear her cries at first.
He was beside her in the next instant. “Hey,” he said, gentle fingertips on her back and arm. When she looked up at him, when he saw the ferocious, red mark on the side of her face, the lava in his veins roared, a volcano ready to erupt. “God,” he said. “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry, Cadence.”
She sniffed, tears still streaming down her face, tears he tried to catch with the sides of his fingers. “You have nothing to be sorry about.”
“I should’ve been here,” he said, homework be damned.
“Just hold me,” she said, and before the last word left her mouth, she was already resting her head onto his shoulder. He pressed his cheek against her hair and wrapped his arms around her, wanting to shield her the way he should’ve shielded her when she’d needed him most. He’d never forgive himself for that.

How to Deal with Writer’s Block [Resistance] 
This is probably one of the most popular questions an author receives, and I’m happy to share my insights about writer’s block in hopes that more aspiring writers will know the truth, which is that writer’s block does not exist.
What we refer to as ‘writer’s block’ is instead typically one of three things: fear, resistance, or lack of planning. In this guest post, I want to talk about resistance because I feel that it’s probably the biggest culprit when it comes to writer’s block, and unless we reveal it for what it truly is, more and more writers will continue to find themselves tangled up in its nets.
To put it simply, resistance is the “I just don’t feel like writing” part of writer’s block. It’s when you feel like you’re in a tug-of-war with your brain because you’ve been staring at a blank page for the past hour and the words just aren’t magically coming to you for some reason. So the writing ceases to be fun and you decide to give yourself a hall pass for the day and skip your writing altogether.  
Let’s get this out of the way first: writing is a discipline. Ask any writer and they’ll tell you the same. Yes, we write because it’s a joy. Yes, we write because it’s our passion. Yes, we write because it is impossible for us not to write. But it’s still a discipline—the same thing that makes an Olympic athlete wake up long before dawn to train, train, train in the name of a gold medal.
There are times when I don’t feel like writing either (or exercising, or meditating, or making a fruit smoothie even) but I push through the resistance because I know the reward is going to far outweigh the effort I had to put in. I know that as long as I take the first step, the rest will come.
So really, in effect, the only way to overcome resistance is simply to start writing. I know it’s not the answer most writers want to hear because they want to believe that there’s a miracle solution to their woes, something they can do that will make the entire novel materialize underneath their fingertips with minimum effort invested. But this isn’t the reality. Inspiration doesn’t fly around like Cupid waiting to shoot you with arrows of creativity. That’s just not how it works.
I will tell you this, however: there have been many days (more days than I can count) when I sat down to clock in my writing hours and I wasn’t ‘feeling it’ at all. Not in the least. Still, I wrote.
I wrote through the resistance, I wrote through the “this sucks” moments, I wrote through the “I don’t want to be doing this” phases. I wrote and wrote and wrote, typing one word after the other. And you know what? One of either two things happened: either I made it to the finish line with relief that I was over and done with today’s writing (and then I could celebrate having gotten a few thousand words under my belt), or at some point during the writing process, I rediscovered my joy and my excitement was back! Either scenario was a win-win if you think about it.
Of course, there are questions to ask yourself if resistance repeatedly rears its head. Most important perhaps is this: is this a story that you’re really, truly passionate about? Do you absolutely love your characters? Do you care about the journey they’re taking in your story? Does the plot light you up?
If you answered ‘no’ to any of those questions, you may need to return to the drawing board. Life is just too short to waste time, energy, and brainpower on a story that doesn’t light you up. Besides that, when you’re writing something you love and care about, the words tend to come that much more easily.

Author Bio:
Lily Velez has been writing stories since she was six years old. Not much has changed since then. She still prefers the written word and her overactive imagination over the ‘real world’ (though to be fair, her stories no longer feature talking dinosaurs). A graduate of Rollins College and a Florida native, when she’s not reading or writing, she spends most of her days wrangling up her pit bulls Noah and Luna, planning exciting travel adventures, and nursing her addiction to cheese. All this when she isn’t participating in the extreme sport known as napping. You can learn more about Lily and her books at her website.

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