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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.

******

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

 

***

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.

30 Days of Singapore on Twitter

When I wrote “Baby it’s Hot Outside,” it was important to me that Singapore be integral to the story.  The heat and humidity, the oddness of a tropical Christmas, even the essential phrase “cannot” that is woven throughout the story are all drawn from my daily life over the past four years.  I really like Caroline and Erik as characters, but their story would be very different in another city.

 

Screen Shot 2014-08-15 at 8.06.24 pm

Authors are finding new ways to build support and interest in their stories and to connect with their readership.  I’ve been wanting to do something special like that, but have struggled to figure out what would make sense.  Then I realized that I do have something unique to offer that I hope you’ll like.

Screen Shot 2014-08-15 at 8.06.38 pm

I’ve posted a picture here and there before, but for the next 30 days, I’ll be posting a daily picture of Singapore on my twitter account.  If you enjoyed the story I hope you’ll be interested in this sneak peek into life in Southeast Asia.  Remember that Singapore is 12 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time, so my posts will likely happen while you’re sleeping.  Be sure to look for them!

If you haven’t read” Baby it’s Hot Outside”, read excerpts 1 and 2, and then buy Summer Loving, edited by Alison Tyler

Amazon (paperback and kindle)

Amazon UK (paperback and kindle)

Smashwords (e-book)

All Romance (e-book)

Kobo (e-book)

.

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.

 

Screen Shot 2014-08-01 at 9.49.09 pm

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.

Screen Shot 2014-08-02 at 4.06.27 pm

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.

Screen Shot 2014-08-02 at 4.06.49 pm

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

 

Baby it’s Hot Outside

Screen Shot 2014-07-25 at 9.27.46 pm

When Alison Tyler put out the call for a charity anthology to benefit Sommer Marsden (whose husband was diagnosed with cancer in 2013) with the theme of summer, I really wanted to submit a story.

I’m deeply grateful that Alison has the kind of twisted sense of humor that let her see how a story like “Baby it’s Hot Outside”–set at Christmastime in Singapore–could fit into that theme, and I’m proud to be part of “Summer Loving.”

 

Here’s an excerpt.

Several days passed, during which I played tour guide. In daylight hours I wore the familiar sensible shoes of Jake’s pedantic big sister. Exploring Little India inspired a lecture on the multi-ethnic culture of Singapore. I bullied Erik into posing for a photo by the Merlion fountain while holding forth on how it became a symbol of the city.

As daylight shifted into night, though, things changed. My undernourished sex drive was surely why I’d thought Erik was flirting with me at dinner. Accepting a bite of food from his fork didn’t mean anything.

The sight of Erik asleep on my couch had me reaching for the aircon remote. Had he always had those abs under his stupid Nirvana t-shirts? A love trail disappeared into frayed cotton pajama bottoms. The urge to step into stripper heels and mount him was almost overwhelming.

There is a Singlish word—cannot—which means “‘No, not in a million years. Don’t even think about it.’”

My little brother’s best friend stirring my libido? Cannot, Caroline. Cannot.

 

NOW AVAILABLE AT

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

*****Edited to add–I ended changing Gemma’s name to Lucy as a story already under contract at that time had a character named Jenna and I didn’t want confusion.  This story was accepted for publication in Coming Together: For the Holidays, edited by Alessia Brio, expected publication date Dec 2014.  Read an updated excerpt here****

I wrote an erotic story about one of Santa’s elves back in 2012.  It’s still looking for a home.  However, I am writing other stories set in the same world (I really love these characters) so I may eventually self-publish.

Here’s a snippet.

‘Are you Matthew?’ Gemma asked.

‘Yeah. You are…’ 

‘Gemma. I think the mailman was dyslexic. I live in 3C at 32 Fairfax, and he left this at my apartment.’ She smiled and held up the Amazon box.

Matthew relaxed. “Thanks. Not many people would bother to bring it over in person.”  He stepped back, gesturing her inside.

‘”It’s Christmas. I thought I’d play Santa’s elf,” she winked at him as she entered. “What’s the book?”

“Uh, well…’”he faltered.

His awkwardness was cute. If only he wasn’t on the Naughty list. She’d always had a thing for men in wire-frame glasses. ‘75 ways to murder a stranger who delivers Amazon packages to your door?’ she teased.  ‘Unless it’s that, what’s there to be embarrassed about?’

He turned bright red and cleared his throat. ‘Um, it’s a book of Christmas erotica.’

A delicious idea invaded the elf’s mind: what better way to find out if he was a sexual deviant than to find out first hand?