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Giving Back Blog Hop

Strange Shifters

In the spirit of this week’s holiday of American Thanksgiving, Lisabet Sarai has organized a blog hop for authors who have participated in Coming Together anthologies called the “Giving Back Blog Hop”

I’ve taken part in three Coming Together anthologies thus far (Among the Stars, For the Holidays, and Strange Shifters) and I plan to continue submitting to them in the future.

Over the course of my life, I have benefited from many forms of help. The largest was government assistance in the form of money and food stamps as a child. I received college scholarships, without which college would have remained just a dream. Teachers sometimes covered field trip fees so that I wouldn’t be left behind. And when my daughter was in the pediatric intensive care unit at only a week of age, she was gifted with a hat and a blanket that someone had knitted and donated to Project Linus in the hopes of providing comfort to a child in crisis. So now, whenever I have the chance, I give back. I love that one of the ways I can give back is through my stories.

Young woman takes off bikini to swiming in the sea.

The first charity anthology I participated in was Summer Loving, edited by Alison Tyler, with proceeds going to help Sommer Marsden’s family during a time of medical crisis. As someone whose family has dealt with medical trauma, and a fan of Sommer’s,  I was eager to participate. This was the first time I had heard of a charity anthology, or considered the idea that the stories we tell could help people in real, tangible ways. I was so glad when “Baby it’s Hot Outside” was selected to be part of the anthology.

coming together for the holidays

I first heard about Coming Together when they put out a call for Coming Together: For the Holidays, edited by Alessia Brio. I had a Christmas-themed story, “New on the Naughty List” (which you can still read for free here until Dec 1), so I sent it in. I not only was interested in the theme of the anthology, but the charity it supported as well–Stand Up for Kids.  Being part of that anthology–as well as gifting copies of it–was the opportunity to share a story I loved and help homeless kids at the same time.

Strange Shifters

My most recent Coming Together anthology is Strange Shifters, which is also my second Coming Together anthology with Lynn Townsend. This anthology, feature sexy shapeshifters, donated all proceeds to Bat World Sanctuary. This was the first story I wrote (well, rewrote) after being critically ill this year. In a year where I am most thankful to still be alive and able to write this blog post, it is fitting that my only publication of 2015 be part of a charity collection.  My story, “A Reindeer by Any Other Name” chronicles what Blitzen was up to during the events of “New on the Naughty List” from Coming Together:For the Holidays.

 

Among the Stars

As a Sci-Fi fan, I leapt at the chance to participate in Coming Together:Among the Stars. While a fan of Lynn Townsend’s prior to participating in this anthology, I credit it as the catalyst to our friendship. If you read my story “Love is a Virus,” you won’t be surprised to know that I’m a huge Trekkie. (For the story of that one time Wil Wheaton saw my horrible TNG fanfic, go here).

As “New on the Naughty List” is currently free, and I’ve recently excerpted “A Reindeer by Any Other Name,” I decided to share a snippet from “Love is a Virus.”

When Lily turned to carry the plates to her table, the ensign was standing next to it. “You can be casual. This isn’t Central Command, and I’m too damn tired to be formal,” she said as she put the plates on the table and dropped into a seat.

“Yes, ma’am.

Oh for fuck’s sake. “Lily.” She pointed at herself. “Saanvi.” She indicated the other woman. Maybe that will calm her down.

“Yes, ma’—.” She closed her mouth abruptly. Taking a deep breath, she began again, “In that case, should I—? Can I—?” Saanvi’s voice trailed off as she indicated her uniform jacket.

“Sure, if you want to.”

Ensign Patel removed her jacket and carefully hung it on the back of the chair. Beneath the jacket, she was wearing a regulation black t-shirt.

Maybe this isn’t the smartest thing I’ve ever done. Lily glanced out at the stars, drinking deeply from her wine glass, but it was too late. The image of Saanvi’s breasts straining against the fabric of the shirt had already burned itself into her brain.

“Lily?” Saanvi seemed to be testing the word on her tongue.

“Yes?”

“I like your hair down.”

“Thanks.” Feeling a bit flustered, Lily focused on her salmon. When she regained her composure, Lily began again. “So, tell me how things have been going. I heard you really stepped up this week. Still healthy?”

“I was happy to help.”

“Personally, I was hoping for the flu. Then I’d have an excuse to go back to bed,” Lily joked, trying to put the ensign at ease.

Saanvi glanced across the room at the Captain’s large bed and sighed wistfully. “If I had a bed that big, I’d never want to leave it.”

If you were in my bed I wouldn’t let you leave it. Shit. Stop it, Dawes. She saluted the bed with her wine glass. “Rank does have its privileges.”

 

Share the name and link of your favorite charity and tell me why you support them in the comments below between now and November 30, 2015. 

On Dec 1, 2015 I’ll randomly select a comment, and I’ll donate 25 USD to your charity (I’ll send a screenshot to you via email to prove it.).

 

ETA—Thanks-Giving Back Hop Links
Sunday 22 November
Monday 23 November
Tuesday 24 November
Wednesday 25 November
Thursday 26 November
Friday 27 November
Saturday 28 November

2014 Book Reviews/Recommendations

If you’re a last minute shopper, here’s a round-up of my book reviews for 2014, including a few new micro reviews as I’m running out of time before the end of the year.

Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 6.22.32 pmPut these books in the hands of your loved ones…

A reminder–If I don’t love a book, I won’t review it here.  I don’t want to waste anyone’s time on books I didn’t like, or to throw around bad karma by ripping apart someone else’s book.

Books I’ve reviewed this year, with best of awards given by me

Twisted, edited by Alison Tyler

Those Boys by Alison Tyler  **Best Novella, 2014**

Summer Loving, edited by Alison Tyler

The Sexy Librarian’s Big Book of Erotica, edited by Rose Caraway  **Best Anthology, 2014**–my top anthology

Zombie Erotoclypse by Tamsin Flowers  **Best paranormal, 2014**

Skirting the Issue by Alison Tyler, Sommer Marsden, and Sophia Valenti

Roll By Lynn Townsend **Best LGBT, 2014**

The Mighty Quinn by Sommer Marsden  **Best novel, 2014**

Chemical [se]X, edited by Oleander Plume  **My husband’s top antho, 2014** (runner up as best antho from me)

Alchemy xii: New Years Eve by Tamsin Flowers  **Start of something amazing for 2015**

Books I haven’t gotten around to reviewing at length, but wanted to review before the end of the year are

Hot Highlanders and Wild Warriors, edited by Delilah Devlin.  If you like your erotic heroes alpha and carrying swords, you’ll love this one. My favorites included

  • “The Promise of Memory” by Regina Kammer is a sexy and poignant story set in ancient Rome.
  • “To Love a King’s Man” by Emma Jay features a strong woman who isn’t about to let love walk away from her.
  • “The Squire” by Cela Winter has our heroine pretending to be a male squire and all the awkward that happens when she falls in love with her new knight.  (If you loved Tamora Pierce’s books when you were younger, this story is for you.)

Sex and Cupcakes by Rachel Kramer Bussel.  I really enjoyed Rachel’s essays.  As a plus sized woman, I found her piece about dating a plus sized man (“My Boyfriend’s Fat”)  particularly poignant.  I also really liked “What kind of submissive are you?” because it gets to the heart of how aroused I am by a specific kink is affected by who I’m playing with, what else is going on in my life, etc.  This was my favorite non-fiction piece on sex this year.

Coming Together: For the Holidays, edited by Alessia Brio.  My story “New on the Naughty List” (excerpt here) is part of this anthology (and I have 5 pdf reviewers copies), but I want to talk about which stories I enjoyed reading the most.

  • “Holiday Hours” by Lynn Townsend is the tale about a bored convenience store clerk on Christmas and the unexpected gift she receives.
  • “Fox’s Holiday” by Leigh Ellwood was an enjoyable shapeshifter story that made me want to read beyond the end of the story–what would happen next?
  • “Accosting Santa” by Sommer Marsden is the story of a neighbor who attacks the man she sees sneaking into the yard next door and combines her trademark hilarious banter and sizzling sex.

Other Days, edited by Jessica Augustsson.  Not erotica, but if you have a speculative fiction enthusiast on your list, this is a great one.  (Yes, I’m in it).

  • My favorite story in the book is “Lessons Learned” by Jessica (which I excerpted here) in which we learn the identity of Jack the Ripper (full disclosure, I beta read the story, too).
  • “Crux of a Faded Soul” by Jennifer Silverwood is a suspenseful ghost story narrated by a someone who insists she isn’t a ghost.
  • “The Karelian Egg” by Robert Young is the story of Anna, who is tasked to go back in time and steal one of the Faberge eggs for a mysterious man holding her brother hostage.

My story Choices (excerpt here) is included.  I have pdf reviewers copies if you would like one.

I have only just begun to read Coming Together: Among the Stars, edited by Lynn Townsend, but I’m still going to tell you to buy it if you have a sci fi fan on your list who would enjoy some kick in their Tea, Earl Grey, Hot.  I’m sharing pages with Rose Caraway, Lynn, Jade A. Waters, and Malin James among others, so I know it’s going to be awesome.  I have one pdf reviewers copy available.

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If you want a reviewer’s copy of Coming Together: For the Holidays, Coming Together: Among the Stars, or Other Days, leave a comment here or email me at delilahnight at gmail

 

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Also, there’s less than a week left to read my story, “Baby it’s Hot Outside” for free.  It’s a Christmas story set here in sweltering Singapore.

New Arrival

DSC_0870

I got back from Bali to find my contributor’s copies of Nine-to-Five Fantasies (ed. Alison Tyler) in my mailbox.  I’ve been so wrapped up in end of year insanity that I totally lost track of the calendar, and the package was a welcome surprise.

Since moving to Singapore in 2010 I’ve become a devotee of the e-book.  Prior to my conversion, I’d always been someone who carried around multiple books (because what if I finish my book before I get home?).  I am very bad at returning library books on time, and I like owning books, so over the years my home library began to overtake my apartment.  Marrying a fellow book nerd did not help the matter.  Nor did spawning two excuses to buy tons of kid’s books children.  Moving halfway around the world to where books are twice as expensive and I worry about how we will eventually transport all of our crap back to the US was the impetus for the switch.  Now I have over 100 books on my phone alone (over 1k in my digital library), and all I need to worry about is my battery dying mid-read.

That said, there is something so amazing about holding a physical book that you contributed to.  Seeing it on your bookcase.  Seeing it in a bookstore (I’ve not seen any in bookstore in Singapore, but I’ve seen Irresistible on the shelves in the US and in New Zealand).  I may buy digital, but my heart still belongs to the physical book.

I walked around with a stupid grin on my face for hours.

A bunch of lovely authors…

lovely blog awardThe very lovely Lace Winter nominated me for the “One Lovely Blog Award.”  I’m going to accept-and use this opportunity to heed Alison’s call to arms

What if we promoted each other in little surprise ways like this—posting covers, pimping stories, sharing the wealth. Read a book you liked? Put up the cover and a link. Discover an author you think is fabulous—give an unexpected shout out, an unplanned review.–Alison Tyler

I’m going to tell you about 15 authors I love.  If I tag you, carry on the award or not as is right for you 🙂

The rules of the award state that I must thank Lace for nominating me.  Thank you, sweetie.  But more than that, thank you for becoming a friend over the past few months.  I’m so glad to have met you–and hopefully I’ll meet you in person one of these days.

The award also says I need to share 7 things about myself my readers don’t know.  I don’t often talk about my non-writing life here, so I thought that would be fun to do.

about me

1-I suffer from pinterest addiction.  I’ve yet to try something worthy of a Pinterest FAIL blog, but my ambitions almost got the better of me with Ms. 6’s birthday party earlier this month.

IMG_9445Pinterest Success!

2-I don’t speak Mandarin.  However, both of my girls are learning it, so I’ve picked up a few words here and there.  Today when my aircon repair guy was on the phone with my landlord I could make out the words I, you, can’t, this one/that one, and because.  Which is just enough knowledge to make me panic–hearing “can’t” over and over from a repair man when my air conditioning isn’t working and it’s in the 90’s was freaking me out.  Other words in my vocabularly include the words for “I don’t want to,” which my three year old whines ALL THE TIME.

3-For all that I’m an expat and have traveled all over the place now, the truth is that I never flew on an airplane before I was 20 years old.  I was TERRIFIED the first time.  Now it’s old hat.

4-I told my husband I was buying the new Taylor Swift album for Ms. 6’s birthday, but mostly I bought it for me.  He saw right through it.  Kind of the same way he saw through it when I  bought tickets “for her” to Taylor Swift concert earlier this year.

5-I spent my childhood wanting to be Kristy from The Baby-Sitter’s Club book series.

6-If I had a better voice and less stage fright I would love to be a Broadway star.

7-I picked a bad partner the first time I had sex.  He invited me to his room to WATCH ANIME and I was naive enough to think that’s what it meant.  When I realized he had other ideas I decided “eh, why not?” and we had sex.  After it was over, we realize that I’d bled.  My reaction was to sigh because I didn’t have a pad in my purse.  HIS response was to say “Why didn’t you tell me you were going to bleed--I could’ve put a trash bag down or something so you wouldn’t stain my sheets.”  Like I said–I did not pick a good partner.  But I did get a good story out of it, so there’s that?

Now we get to the good stuff–I’m going to tell you about some of my favorite authors.

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1–My very first story acceptance was from Rachel Kramer Bussel.  She has a new collection of essays out called Sex and Cupcakes.  It’s currently sitting on my Kindle waiting for me to get through this insane week so I can dive in.

2–The next editor to accept my work was Alison Tyler.  If you’ve read my blog you know I LOVE her work.  She has a number of recent releases–including a story in Filthy Housewives, edited by Violet Blue.  My favorite novellas from Alison are Those Girls and Those Boys–Sandy is one of my favorite fictional Doms.

3-I have to say that Sandy is ONE of my favorite fictional Doms because I just got a sneak peek at Tamsin Flowers‘ new project Alchemy xii, and given the chance, I don’t know if I could pick between Alison’s Sandy and Tamsin’s Harry.  I’ll post a review a little closer to the release date.  Tamsin also wrote Zombie Erotoclypse, which contains “Peeping Zom”-which contains the only Paul Revere reference I’ve ever seen in an erotica story.  I have a degree in History, so I think we should all take a page from Tamsin’s book and throw in clever lines like that one.  If you like your zombie erotica aurally, check out Rose Caraway reading “Red Hot Zombie Cock” on the Kiss Me Quick Podcast.

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4-Speaking of Rose Caraway, have you read The Sexy Librarian’s Big Book of Erotica?  It’s my current pick for best erotica anthology this year.

5-Pillow Talk is a collaborative effort brought to us by Tamsin Flowers, Malin James and Jade A. Waters.  It’s so great to see a conversation between fellow erotica authors on topics like how their writing has evolved to be more selective about which details to include in a story and which to leave to a reader’s imagination.

6-Malin James‘ blog should be required reading for anyone interested in sex.  Her recent post “Ownership: On Sexuality & Feminine Relations” really resonated with me.

7-Jade A. Waters is a new author to me, but I’m looking forward to reading more of her work, including her story in the upcoming Lynn Townsend anthology Among the Stars.  I really enjoy hearing her opinions in Pillow Talk and on Twitter.

8-Lynn Townsend caught my attention with “Full Frontal Neighbor” in  The Sexy Librarian’s Big Book of Erotica.  I subsequently read her novel Roll, which I loved.  I’m eagerly awaiting the publication of Blues in early 2015.  Lynn recently edited her first anthology and Among the Stars is going to be so awesome.

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9-I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Sommer Marsden.  I started reading Sommer’s work because she came so highly recommended by Alison.  I quickly became a huge fan of her clever twist endings.  Her new book is The Mighty Quinn, also on my kindle.  (Have I mentioned how crazy this week is? CRAZY busy).  I also loved her story “The New Girl” in Skirting the Issue  , “Appetizer” in The Sexy Librarian’s Big Book of Erotica, and I’m looking forward to seeing her story in Coming Together: For the Holidays.

10-Janine Ashbless grabbed my attention with her story “Three Legs in the Evening” in The Sexy Librarian’s Big Book of Erotica because I’m a Greek Mythology fangirl.  One of my daughter has a middle name pulled from Greek Mythology.  I’m super excited to read her new release Cover Him with Darkness.

11-Delilah Devlin edits some seriously hot anthologies with alpha males.  I  loved her antho Cowboy Lust, .  I’m currently reading Hot Highlanders and Wild Warriors .  If you prefer Firemen, she also just released Five Alarm Alphas .

12-I’m a sucker for erotic fairy tales, and Kristina Wright has edited A Princess Bound,  Fairy Tale Lust, and Lustfully Ever After.

13-Lace Winter (who tagged me for this post) is not yet a published author, but I’m certain she will be soon.  She’s been posting excerpts from her WIP, and I can’t wait to read the whole thing.

14-I know Sophia Valenti‘s work from Alison’s anthologies, and her story “A Lesson in Lust” in Skirting the Issue is one of my favorite F/F stories.

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 9.57.34 pm

I’m going to leave  #15 empty—tell me who I should be reading that I haven’t discovered yet.

Skirting the Issue by Sommer Marsden, Sophia Valenti, and Alison Tyler

Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 7.12.51 pm

The schoolgirl is an iconic sex symbol.  I certainly own a plaid skirt, and bought a faux Hogwarts sexy schoolgirl costume for Halloween one year because of my own weakness for the schoolgirl look.  The problem for the author and the schoolgirl skirt fetishist is to make it sexy and “real” without sliding into the “ick” factor, which can be a delicate balancing act.  Luckily we have these three authors keeping us flushed red as the plaid of our skirts and loosening the buttons of our little white shirts with their very different takes on the subject.

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I’ve Got a New Girl Now by Sommer Marsden

“Please Mr. Parker.  I’ll do anything to make it up to you.”

“I don’t think so.  Veronica, I’ve got a new girl now.”  He walks the perimeter of the room with his hands behind his back and I tap the toe of my saddle shoe to the floor.  Hardwood floors that I have scrubbed for him.  While reciting math facts!  And here he is talking about a new girl.

Mr. Parker keep tormenting Veronica by telling her about the new girl as she does everything she can to please him.  Who is this new girl?  You’ll have to wait until the end to find out.

The more of Sommer’s work that I read, the more I love her writing.  Sommer has a talent of taking the clichéd and putting a unique twist on it, making it new all over again.  This story is one more example of that at work.

 

Screen Shot 2014-08-31 at 1.53.27 am

A Lesson in Lust by Sophia Valenti

She and I may have both been dressed in campy schoolgirl fashion, but she was the bad girl I’d never dared to be–and just the sort of bad girl I’d always wanted

I like my men nerdy.  I like my men sweet.  I like my men quirky.  I like my women bad.  Bad girls have done it for me for ages, both in fiction and in real life.  I avoided the bad boys, but I’ve fallen prey to a bad girl or two in my time.  And I would follow this particular bad girl anywhere she told me to.  The first person narrator remains nameless, so the reader has no trouble stepping into her shoes…shoes I’ll likely step into a number of times.

 

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Want by Alison Tyler

 Vincent had Lia over his lap, and he was punishing her sweet, sassy ass with a paddle.  I’d seen that ass swish down the hallway.  I had seen it when she’d bent over to unload the laundry.  Seen it when she went prancing out the door in a far too-short schoolgirl skirt, which I now saw was in a crumpled ball on the floor.  But this was my favorite time.  Because he was wielding that paddle with finesse, and Lia continued to cry out and kick her heels and pound her fists useless in protest.  Or mock protest.

That bitch Lia is going to get what’s coming to her.  And the narrator get to watch….for a price.  Alison’s BDSM twist to the schoolgirl skirt is hot, and gives us one of my new favorite phrases–“menage-a-fuck” when the narrator is trying to convince herself not to watch.

 

If you’ve got a weakness for schoolgirl skirts, you should pick up your copy now.  While it’s a supershort book of only three stories, I’d encourage you to read them one at a time to draw out and savour the experience.  The three stories are also such different takes on the theme that reading them together doesn’t create as satisfying an experience.  Pick the one you’re in the mood for and you might just be inspired to pull your own skirt out of your drawer or closet…or convince your lover to wear theirs.  Then proceed to the next tomorrow

For more info on where to get your copy–go here.

 

Summer Loving is now available in e-book form and paperback

Screen Shot 2014-07-25 at 9.27.46 pmWhen Sommer’s husband was diagnosed with cancer about a year ago, writers from around the world came together to send support. Bronwyn Green was the pioneer in charge of a fundraising event. Tamsin Flowers came up with the plan to do a charity book. —Alison Tyler, here.

Summer Loving is now available!

I enjoyed reading the full collection, but several stories really stood out for me.

 

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Fireworks Display by Emerald—She had decided to watch some fireworks from the comfort of her car.  Then the truck with six gorgeous men pulls up.

Next week is National Day here in Singapore.  There is a huge display of fireworks as part of the festivities, and when I see them, I know this story will be on my mind.  The build up and tension are great.  The juxtaposition against and description of the fireworks really did it for me.  Emerald is a new author to me, and I’ll be checking out more of her work.

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Tell me by May Deva–A pin-up photography session is the cost of losing a poker bet.

Any story that starts with “Oh, hell no!” is going to grab my attention.  This story hit all my sweet spots.  I love pin-up photography, I love banter, and I really really love twists at the end of a story.

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Arizona, Ireland, New England by Cheyenne Blue—You never quite know where home is until you find it.

Two friends come up with the idea of switching homes for the summer.  But it doesn’t quite turn out how they expected.  As an expat who thought I knew what I was getting into when I moved to the other side of the planet, only to find out that fantasy and reality are two different things, I related to both the women in the story.  The way that Cheyenne uses sensory descriptions–the way one of them “will fearlessly sweep a scorpion from the kitchen bench with a swift flick of a tea towel” makes for a story I’ll revisit.

Screen Shot 2014-08-02 at 4.09.40 pmAnd of course, you can read my story, “Baby it’s Hot Outside.”

I’ve given you an excerpt before.  Here’s another one….

 

“I never liked Josh,” Erik remarked.

“Why?” My high school boyfriend had always been a sweetie.

“Why do you think?  I was crazy about you.  You only noticed I was alive when you kicked Jake and me out of the living room.”

“That’s not true.  I noticed you were alive whenever you ate the last slice of pizza, too.”  Sarcasm was my crumbling wall of defense against desire.

Down girl.  CANNOT.

“Three days with you, and I feel like a lovesick idiot all over again.”  Erik gave a bitter laugh.  “I sound like a fucking idiot, too.”

Our eyes locked.  As one, we turned and began the walk back toward my apartment.

Fingers traced the thin line of skin between the top of my shorts and the bottom of my tank top as we walked.  Erik’s arms wrapped around me, pulling me against his chest at each red light.  Arousal grew with each passing intersection.  Did the colorful illumination highlight or hide that my nipples were erect?

One more second was too long to wait.  I grabbed Erik’s hand and pulled him into the Botanical Gardens; my apartment was still five minutes away.  Silently, I led him away from the well-lit path.  Once hidden in shadows, we stopped.  The moisture between my thighs couldn’t be blamed on humidity.

It was one thing to burn my way through every battery in my house trying to cool my libido.  It was entirely another to deliberately jump into the fire.

Anyone who chooses to live in a land of eternal summer shouldn’t be scared of heat.

“Caroline,” he murmured.

I twined my arms around his neck and pressed my lips to Erik’s.

Can.  CAN.

 

Remember, all proceeds go to help Sommer Marsden’s family.

NOW AVAILABLE AT