Friday, September 30, 2011

Imperfect by Cassidy Ryan

I love cop shows, I have done since I was a kid in the 70s. I particularly love shows where there is a partnership; you can see that the guys are friends, that they care about each other, even – or especially – when they are trash-talking each other.

Shows like Starsky and Hutch and The Professionals remain prized box sets in my DVD collection to this day. Add to that newer shows like The Sentinel, Due South and Hawaii Five-0, and you see a definite pattern: opposite character types, lots of banter and undeniable chemistry.

When I was writing Imperfect I had this in mind. I wanted to explore the relationship of a cop partnership beyond the bullpen. I wanted them to have fun, to share the snappy dialogue I adore in my TV cops, and although they tend to drive each other crazy there is a foundation of caring and understanding.

Logan and Zach, the cops in Imperfect, have very different personalities. Logan is a bit wild and Zach is the steadier of the two. They are very much products of their environment, and as the story unfolds it becomes clear just how their personalities were formed.

The major difference between the TV cops and Logan and Zach, is that, while Starsky and Hutch or Bodie and Doyle had a different girlfriend every other week, Logan and Zach are romantically involved with each other. The girlfriends never lasted longer than an episode, either quickly disillusioned by the job or – more often than not – getting killed! I often thought that the guys should just be together, because no-one understood their foibles or their lifestyle like each other.

While I wanted the guys to be actively investigating a crime in the story, I didn’t want it to overwhelm or become more important than the romantic storyline, so I tried to make the crime a catalyst for exploring the parts of his life that Logan keeps hidden, even from Zach, and thereby causing conflict and ultimately strengthening the bond further.

I don’t think any writer is ever completely satisfied that they have created what they set out to do, but on the whole I have a very soft spot for Logan and Zach. I’ve never written a proper sequel, but these guys make me want to revisit them at some point.

They say the brightest lights cast the longest shadows. Zach thinks Logan’s been living in that shadow long enough, but can he convince him he deserves to stand in the light?
Detectives Zach Gibson and Logan Armstrong are partners, friends, and something more that they’ve never analysed or put a name to. But it works for them. For now.
When Zach’s grandfather asks them to investigate the theft of a ring from the finger of his recently deceased friend, it opens a can of worms Logan has been struggling to keep closed for ten years.
Secrets, guilt and revelations come tumbling out, and Logan is forced to finally deal with events from his past that have kept him emotionally bound and unable to move on.

“I want a new partner. I can’t work with this lunatic a second longer.” Detective Zach Gibson burst through the doors of the Serious Crime Unit, letting them swing closed in the face of his partner, Logan Armstrong. Anger poured off him in waves as he strode across the bullpen. Anyone who happened to be in his way quickly remedied that.
Zach heard the doors open again and was aware of Logan falling into step behind him, but he didn’t pause until he reached the door to the captain’s office. He rapped his knuckles against the glass before pushing the door open and entering.
“I want a new partner.” He stopped in front of his superior’s desk, refusing to look at Logan when he moved to stand next to Zach.
Captain Grace Evans sat back in her chair with a sigh, dark blonde eyebrows pulled together in a frown. “You know, when I took over here and said I had an open door policy, I really meant it. Then I met you two. Now, not only do I want to close the door, I want to barricade the frickin’ thing. What the hell is wrong this time?”
Zach crossed his arms over his chest and jerked his head in the direction of his partner. “I can’t work with this guy anymore. He’s…he’s unhinged.”
“I’m pretty sure that’s slanderous,” Logan said.
Zach didn’t have to look at him to know the damn man was smirking. “Don’t even start with me, Armstrong. I am this close to decking you myself.” He threw Logan a narrow-eyed look before turning back to tilt his head expectantly at Grace.
“Gib…” Logan started, but she held up her hand and he subsided.
“Just tell me what’s got your panties in a bunch, Gibson. Maybe we can fix this and get you two the hell out of my office before I have an aneurysm.” She leant forward, picked up a letter opener and began tapping it against her manicured fingers.
Zach dropped his arms to his sides again, but far from relaxing, his hands clenched and unclenched. “We spent all morning doing the last of the paperwork on the Naismith case, so we decided at around two-thirty to go out for coffee—you know, stretch the legs, get some fresh air. The way ordinary people do.” He dragged a hand through his blond hair, not for the first time, and suspected it was probably standing on end.
Still frowning, she nodded and made a motion with the letter opener to get on with it.
“Yeah, well, I guess I forgot for a split second that my partner here isn’t like ordinary people. He can’t go out for a cup of fuckin’ coffee without finding some havoc to get caught up in.” Zach’s pulse picked up as he spoke, and he could feel the heat of an angry flush rising at his throat.
“Hey!” Logan interrupted, an edge of annoyance in his voice. “That guy was a douche, what did you expect me to do? Ignore the fact that he was beating on some kid so that you could have your vanilla hazelnut latte?”
“Fuck you! I don’t drink that shit and you know it,” Zach bit out, turning so that he and Logan were face to face, both of them practically vibrating with anger. “Of course we had to do something, but jumping onto the hood of a moving car in the middle of heavy traffic?”
“He was getting away!” Logan’s eyes were bright and his cheeks flushed.
“So you jump on the hood of the car? Seriously?” Zach took a step closer as he spoke, breathing hard.
“Wait, you jumped on the hood of a car?” Grace interrupted. She looked a little stunned.
Zach knew his smile was smug, but he didn’t care. “Yeah, see? Unhinged.”



Cassidy Ryan lives and works in the West of Scotland, with Angel, the not-very-angelic kitty.
When she isn't writing, Cassidy enjoys football, shopping for the perfect handbag, main-lining coffee and watching TV.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Momentoes: Mick's Journey

Thank you for asking me to share the story behind my latest release.

Momentos: Mick’s Journey is the third and final novel in the Basque Trilogy.  These novels, Loving Edits, Tono, and Momentos  were inspired by my mother and her battle with ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.  I was reluctant to write a story about a fatal disease, where the outcome was a foregone conclusion, but my muse was persistent and wouldn’t let the idea go.  In a genre where HEA or HFN are assumed and even expected, the story of Mick Henley and his two lovers did not fit into any of the predictable categories.  However, some stories need to be told regardless of how they’re received.  I was lucky enough to have a very supportive publisher who agreed.  The first book in the trilogy, Loving Edits, was written in the winter of 2009.  I was an emotional wreck as I was reliving every stage of this insidious disease, but my critique members never let me quit, crying along with me, and urging me on.

When it’s all said and done, this ménage is primarily a love story; powerful, gut wrenching, and often times difficult to read.  Conversely, it’s also romantic, humorous, and very erotic.  The common thread throughout is hope, which is underscored by a love so powerful it uplifted and sustained a man through the worst time of his life.  It’s an old-fashioned tearjerker with a m/m/m/ twist.  Loving Edits tied for fourth place in the 2010 Rainbow Awards.  Momentos: Mick’s Journey is part prequel and sequel before bringing us into the present as we accompany Mick on his last journey home.  

Blurb: Momentos: Mick's Journey
Before Mick Henley brought Paul Alcott and Tono Garat together in Loving Edits, it was simply Mick and Paul, two optimistic teenagers who began a love affair that would span twelve years—and leave an indelible mark on their lives.
The passionate young lovers shared a series of firsts before Paul’s harsh father drove a wedge between them, shattering their dreams and destroying everything Mick believed to be true about love. After Paul's defection, Mick met Tono, a closeted Spanish athlete, who helped heal his broken heart.

From passionate highs to heartbreaking lows, Mick inspires the two most important men in his life and brings them together with his impending death. They’ll learn that all their memories, even the most difficult to bear, are precious and that love is the most amazing journey of all.



Tono lifted me off the chair and held me while Paul stripped off the tuxedo in record time.  Before I knew it I was naked and lying back in our king-sized bed, a little loopy from all the booze I’d ingested, and drained from the varying emotions that had emerged at different stages during the evening.  We’d partied long and hard, staying at the bar until it closed down at dawn.  Word had gone out that we were buying, and the people came in droves to celebrate our victory at the awards ceremony. 
The twin trophies were lined up on the windowsill, symbols of a dream that had started years ago when Paul and I were in high school.  That it actually came to pass was momentous, to say the least, especially considering the circumstances. 
I should have been dead by now, according to all the predictions.  Even Dr. Jordan, my New York neurologist, was at a loss to explain how my body’s deterioration had remained suspended for the last three years.  Paul, my arrogant and sometimes delusional lover, claimed it was all his doing, whereas Tono, the more realistic and gentler soul, attributed it to love and prayer.  Begoña and Itziar spent hours reciting decades of Hail Marys on my behalf. 
I was simply grateful for each new day.  Momentos, the novel I’d started three years ago, was finally complete.  No one had read it except me, and no one would until I was gone.  I couldn’t deal with Paul’s scathing remarks or Tono’s tears.  I had to save my energy for survival, although last night I knew I’d reached the end.  The minute I dropped the shot glass at the bar it was apparent to the three of us that I’d progressed another step into this disease from hell. 
The mattress dipped as Paul and Tono got into bed, positioning me in the middle.  Tono snaked his arm around my waist and pulled my butt up against his groin.  Paul faced me, just like old times.  We were sleepy, and had past drunk a while back, but our bodies were rising to the occasion, and I was glad.  I wanted one more round of hot sex with my lovers before hanging it up. 
Despite the many physical challenges I’d faced over the years, sexual fulfillment had never been an issue.  Paul and Tono had somehow managed to keep my libido intact, aided by Baxter’s willingness to take on the duties of a live-in nurse.  He was the only one I allowed into the bathroom.  The only one who was subjected to my humiliation and tears as I gave up control of my bodily functions.  It was Baxter’s quiet competence and nurturing personality that helped me retain my pride and sense of self.  By the time he’d completed my daily ablutions, I was the same sweet-smelling, beautiful man Paul and Tono had come to expect. 
“Did you have fun tonight?” Paul said, gently touching my face.
I nodded.  “Kiss me, sweetheart.”
He did.  I closed my eyes and shut off thoughts of tomorrow.  I let myself free fall into the sensuality that had sustained me for so long.  I could feel Tono’s warm hands caressing my bottom and moving down my flanks, kneading and rubbing the way I liked.  His breath was warm against my skin; his soft tongue tickled me, as it circled the outlines of my ear.  Tono’s body was responding to the stimuli, and within minutes, he was hard and poking at my crack. 
“Turn over, Pauly.  I want inside,” I whispered.  “Lube me up.”
We’d done this too many times to count and each movement was automatic.  Not much to it, other than getting the right angle as we lay on our sides facing in the same direction.  We had the timing of our strokes down to a science.  Tono was in me, and I was in Paul―a daisy chain of love.  Paul helped draw my hand down to his cock and I managed to curl my fingers around his girth, loving the feel of the heavy organ that grew plump within my grasp.  We pushed and rocked our way to orgasm.  It wasn’t rough and frantic, but achingly tender, with a lot of kissing and words of love; exactly what I was hoping for this last time.

Mickie B. Ashling began writing stories about men who love men around the time she discovered Queer as Folk. The characters on that show intrigued her, and ground-breaking writers such as Patricia Nell Warren inspired her. She began to write the kind of stories that she enjoyed reading, spurred on by her muse, who really has this thing for hunky men getting it on.

Mickie has lived in the Philippines, Spain, the Middle East, and San Francisco but currently resides in a quiet suburb outside Chicago. She's a respectable office manager by day and a proud mother of four grown men who continue to wonder where this interest in gay romance has come from.  Mickie's first love is writing, but traveling is a close second. Her dream is to be able to quit her day job soon so she can devote all her time and energy doing what she loves best.

Visit Mickie's web site at and her blog at You can contact her at

Monday, September 26, 2011

Ellis Carrington - Who’s the weak one?

Jadette, thanks so much for asking me to be on your blog today!

You know, I’ve been asked many times now where the inspiration for my book, Amor Prohibido came from and the truth is there are probably half a dozen answers because a lot of things came together in my head at once when I conceptualized that story. The BIG part of it that I haven’t really discussed yet, is probably the trickiest: the ongoing and very muddy debate about same-sex marriage and same-sex domestic violence.

Shortly before I started writing Amor Prohibido I had a conservative acquaintance approach me with a strong need to voice his objections about same-sex marriage. He claimed he had no objection to homosexuality and same-sex relationships but that his objections to gay marriage were about the legal implications. Who, he asked, would be seen as the weaker party in the event of a divorce?

Wow, did this ever give me pause. Big pause. This question of his unwittingly insulted a lot of people, gay and straight alike. More than that, it made me think about the still rarely-discussed topic of violence and domestic abuse in same-sex relationships. It is estimated that one-in-FOUR individuals in a same-sex relationship is abused. That is a scary-high number. And no one is really sure, because it can happen in so many different ways and few discuss it or ask for help. In large part because of the very kind of question this person had posed to me. Nobody wants to be the “weak” one in a same-sex relationship, and this is something I know firsthand as I spent quite some time in an abusive relationship with another female. I imagine that this goes double in a relationship between two men.

Thing is, it rarely has anything much to do with physical strength.

So this was a large part of the inspiration for Amor Prohibido’s hero, Jacob.  Though the focus of Amor Prohibido was not the abuse, but in how Jacob heals and reclaims his strength. How he finds love again with Pakal, an immortal Mayan spirit guide. How in the end he doesn’t really need to be saved, but he winds up saving the man he loves, instead. Because he is not the weak one, he’s stronger than he knows.

More about Amor Prohibido:

Jacob Freehan has no job, no man, and no motivation. In pain both from ending a long-term abusive relationship and a severe back injury, he escapes to the sunny seaside town of Puerto Morelos for a little yoga, a little R&R, and possibly a place to quietly end his own life.

Pakal is a centuries-old immortal Mayan spirit guide who has been charged with getting Jacob on the path toward healing. Romantic involvement with a spirit charge is strictly forbidden, and it has never been a problem...until now. Pakal sees something special in Jacob, but failure to keep a rapidly growing attraction at bay could result in Jacob losing his life and Pakal being condemned to the Underworld forever...


“Uh, yeah. Hi. Pakal, right?” As if he didn’t remember. Just like he remembered the hills and valleys of the large man’s muscular arms, the golden glow of the sun as it shimmered on his chest. The strong grip with which the man had shaken Jacob’s hand. He had, in fact, remembered it the night before in his dreams, and again that morning in the shower.

Pakal nodded and grasped Jacob’s injured leg without any pause to request permission. “Let me look at this,” he murmured.

Ah, damn. Pakal’s hands were warm, firm, and alarmingly reassuring as they massaged the muscles around Jacob’s aching knee. And then…there was that strange pulse again, strongest at the points where Pakal’s hand touched Jacob’s skin.

Though it had been a little startling at first, the sensation wasn’t at all unpleasant. It reminded Jacob of walking into a large dance club and feeling his body throb along with the bass line of his favorite music. 
He had an inexplicable urge to place a hand over Pakal’s bare chest, to see if it was the larger man’s heartbeat that Jacob’s body was vibing with.

And here, for a little added visual, a picture of the beach on which this scene took place.

Amor Prohibido is available now from Amber Allure!

Ellis’s bio:

Friday, September 23, 2011

Story behind the story - Legal Artistry - Andrew Grey

I got the idea for Legal Artistry as I was watching a documentary on the theft and recovery of Nazi art treasures.  Many countries in Europe did a marvelous job of getting artworks back to their owners, but some didn’t.  So I decided I wanted to write a story around the recovery of Nazi art.  In my research I read about a case where an American sued here in the U.S. for the return of their artworks and the idea for Legal Artistry came to full fruition.   I have always been interested in art as well as history, and this story has both.  It begins in World War II, long before the story is actually told.

Once I had the story in mind, I decided to place it in the Bottled Up universe because I already had some wonderful characters that could help move the story along.  I had Mark, the artist, who could provide a great deal of the art history information, as well as Tyler, who lived just down the street and is now Mark’s partner.  I also had Sean and his wine store, where Dieter worked once he was old enough.  This story seemed like a perfect fit, and I’m so pleased it worked out.

The legal aspect of the story was one of the hardest parts for me to research and get right.  I was blessed with the input of a number of friends who happen to be lawyers.  They advised me on the procedures and gave advice on a number of the legal aspects I used.  I will say that in order to make parts of the story work, I had to compress some things within the legal timeline, but I tried to keep the process as authentic and real as I could.

I will confess that as I was writing the story, I used a lot of people from my own childhood as the basis for many of the characters. Dieter’s grandmother is based on my own memories of my grandmother, and Auntie Kate is based upon a real person from my childhood as well.  While I was writing those portions of the story, I found myself choking up a number of times as I remembered things I’d long thought I’d forgotten from my own childhood.

The last piece of the puzzle to fit into place was the painting itself.  I worked with artist Anne Cain to actually develop the painting that you see on the book cover.  This is a real work of art that Anne created based upon my descriptions in the book.  So, here’s to the one person without whom I could not have written this story, The Woman in Blue.

Years ago, Dieter Krumpf’s grandmother died and left him everything, including a photo album containing pictures of the art collection she left behind when her family fled the Nazis. Now, Dieter is calling on the services of a lawyer, Gerald Young, to determine whether his family’s legacy might be returned to him.

Gerald doesn’t hold out much hope that the paintings will be returned, but Dieter’s earnestness speaks to him and he agrees to help. At first he concludes that while Dieter has a case, suing in Austria isn’t practical. But Gerald is a good lawyer, and as his feelings for Dieter develop, so does his determination to win the case. Together, Gerald and Dieter navigate research, hearings, and a dysfunctional family in the pursuit of fine art—and discover the art of love along the way.
Gerald shifted in his chair, trying to get a better look at this gorgeous gazelle of a man, and as he glanced around, it looked like every guy in the club was trying to do the same thing, even the posers. 

“If you’re interested in him, good luck!” Stan slurred from across the table, yet another empty beer glass in front of him.

“Why?” Gerald asked without taking his eyes off the dancer, waiting for him to turn around. Gerald was already picturing the man’s face, and he needed to see what he looked like.

“He only dances. Never with anyone else, and he never goes home with anyone. He only dances, for hours on end,” Stan clarified, his eyes becoming glassy and unfocused. Lucky for Gerald, one of the bouncers saw him and made his way to the table and helped Stan away.

“He always does this,” the bouncer explained as he helped Stan to his feet. “The man never knows when to stop.” Gerald thanked him and asked if he needed help, but the huge bouncer shook his head and led Stan to what Gerald hoped was a safe place where he could sober up for a while.

Gerald looked back at the dance floor and saw that the dancer had turned around. Gerald saw big blue eyes and a head of blond hair, made red in the light, but he knew him. Finishing his beer, Gerald stood up and walked across the club as the music ended and the dancer stopped his movements, waiting for the next song. Gerald knew he only had a few seconds. “What would your Gram say if she saw you now?”

Dieter whipped around, the fire burning in his eyes quickly turning to pain and hurt. He’d only been teasing, but Gerald realized he’d accidentally hit on a source of pain. “Sorry, I was only kidding,” he added hastily and saw Dieter’s expression soften. “I only wanted to get your attention.” It appeared he’d done that, and he’d also answered the question of whether Dieter was gay. He must have changed clothes, and Gerald took in the slim-legged jeans and tight shirt that hugged Dieter’s frame. Dieter wasn’t muscular, but what Gerald saw turned him on like nobody’s business.

The music began again, and Gerald moved away, expecting Dieter to begin dancing, but he seemed to be following him. Of course the table he’d had was gone, so Gerald found a small area of unoccupied space. “What are you doing here?” Dieter asked, but he didn’t seem upset any longer.

“I just needed to let off some steam, I guess,” Gerald confessed. “I could ask you the same thing,” he countered.

“Just dancing,” Dieter answered matter-of-factly.

“Yeah, I saw,” Gerald said almost yelling now over the music. “I’m sorry about my crack about your Gram. I didn’t mean anything by it.” He really hadn’t.

“Thanks,” Dieter yelled back. Gerald figured any sort of conversation was nearly impossible, so he stood there looking at Dieter, who looked back at him, as confused as Gerald was about what to do next. 

“Wanna dance?” Dieter asked him before practically pulling him toward the floor. Gerald had two left feet and couldn’t dance to save his soul, but he let himself be led to the floor, and when Dieter began to move, Gerald went along, following his lead, trying not to embarrass himself too much. 

“Just move your body to the music,” Dieter told him when they were standing close. “Don’t be self-conscious and don’t worry about what anyone thinks, because it doesn’t matter. Just let yourself go.” Dieter began to move, and Gerald closed his eyes, letting the music inside. 
At first, Gerald simply swayed to the music, but then he began to move more and more. When Dieter put his hands on Gerald’s hips, Gerald forgot about everything but where those warm hands touched his body. Then he was dancing. It might not have been pretty or even very good, but Dieter smiled at him, and they danced.

Time seemed to move independently of them, especially since he spent the rest of the evening looking into Dieter’s eyes and with a perpetual hard-on in his pants. Every time he felt Dieter’s touch, a jolt of desire zinged through him, but Dieter made no move to do anything other than dance. Not that Gerald should have been surprised—it’s what Dieter seemed to do, although judging from the puzzled and jealous looks of the other people in the club, it was true that Dieter usually danced alone.

The song ended and a bell sounded, the lighting in the club increasing. Gerald blinked a few times, having gotten used to the dimness, and he realized it was last call. Dieter stopped moving, standing on the dance floor as people moved around them, most of them trying for a last hookup before the night ended.

Gerald looked deep into Dieter’s eyes and saw him lick his lips, that pink tongue making an appearance once again. Gerald leaned closer, wondering how Dieter’s lips would taste and how quickly Gerald could move to sampling the rest of Dieter’s mouth and everything else he could get his tongue, lips, and hands on. Right now, the whole thing about Dieter being a client was far from his mind. All he saw right now was the most enthrallingly sexy man he’d ever met in his life, and Gerald had rarely wanted anything as much as he wanted to get Dieter into his bed. And if the look he was getting were any indication, Dieter seemed to want that too. Gerald moved closer, his lips parting, and he saw Dieter’s eyes drift shut and his head tilt ever so slightly.

Someone bumped into Dieter as they passed, excusing himself as he went by, and Dieter looked away for just a second, but it was enough to break the spell. Gerald realized what he’d been about to do, and Dieter seemed to as well. In the light, Gerald saw Dieter color and look away. Gerald stepped back to give Dieter some space. “I think we should be leaving,” Dieter said, and Gerald nodded, not quite sure what he meant, but he felt a glimmer of hope well inside.

Dieter led the way to the door, and Gerald followed him outside. “Do you need a ride home? Or…,” Gerald said open-endedly.

Dieter studied him for a few seconds before pointing and saying, “My car’s over here, and I haven’t been drinking, so I’m fine.” Dieter began walking toward his car. “Good night, Gerald,” Dieter called warmly.

Gerald watched him walk away, feeling unexpectedly disappointed. Once he saw Dieter turn the corner, Gerald walked to his own car. 


Andrew grew up in western Michigan with a father who loved to tell stories and a mother who loved to read them. Since then he has lived throughout the country and traveled throughout the world. He has a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and works in information systems for a large corporation. Andrew's hobbies include collecting antiques, gardening, and leaving his dirty dishes anywhere but in the sink (particularly when writing) He considers himself blessed with an accepting family, fantastic friends, and the world’s most supportive and loving partner. Andrew currently lives in beautiful, historic Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Eric Arvin - Woke Up in a Strange Place

There are those writers that claim certain pieces of writing poured out of them. As if they were sitting at their computer, or wherever it is they write, and the story was absorbed through their fingertips onto the page without any trouble at all. These annoying writers often say it was as if they were possessed. By what, who can say? A spirited muse or an amused spirit. Either way, it’s become a cliché. Still, that’s exactly what happened with me while writing Woke Up in a Strange Place.

(Don’t roll your eyes at me! Sit up and pay attention!)

The story of Woke Up in a Strange Place stemmed from a peculiar dream – nay, a vision! – when I was very ill years ago. I had, at the time, just recently discovered I had inherited the same genetic disorder which killed my father. I hadn’t the time to react properly to the news, however, being so immediately sick. Lying on the bed, wrapped in blankets and half-sleep, I saw something. Rather, I envisioned something. I was on a small boat in the middle of some big river. Fog rolled over the water and everything was a hazy grey. Opposite me was a wooded riverbank, and on that riverbank stood my father. He was smiling and waving at me.

That’s where the vision ended and where my book took root.

I imagined an afterlife adventure. My main character, Joe, is dead at the outset, waking up in a beautiful field of barley and having no memory of his life. The journey is the thing, right? He is met by a stranger. A lovely man he senses a connection with. A man he realizes, through the various adventures to come, is the love of his life, the very reason for his journey of self-discovery, of re-discovery.

Joe revisits his entire life and at every end there is the fleeting glimpse of the stranger. Only after he sees everything and remembers it can they be together again. But along the way he must deal with remembrances of past loves and past deaths, and face horrors like the storm hound Gabriel Ratchet and the Creeping Mists, a fog that swallows souls. He also finds fun and mischief at a fraternity of young, over-sexed men who are led by a familiar face from Joe’s past, now a giant with an enormous penis. Yes, really.

Comparison’s have been made to Mitch Albom’s The Five People You Meet in Heaven (aside from the giant penis part), though I wrote this well before I had heard of that book. In the writing, I had more in mind the Oz books of L. Frank Baum and Dante’s Inferno…all, of course, with the obvious gay twist. For me, this was – as it is with my character Joe – about discovering me. I wrote it as both a romantic and a Romantic. This is my heaven.

And honestly, it just poured out of me…


Joe wakes up in a barley field with no clothes, no memories, and no idea how he got there. Before he knows it, he's off on the last great journey of his life. With his soul guide Baker and a charge to have courage from a mysterious, alluring, and somehow familiar Stranger, Joe sets off through a fantastical changing landscape to confront his past.

The quest is not without challenges. Joe's past is not always an easy thing to relive, but if he wants to find peace—and reunite with the Stranger he is so strongly drawn to—he must continue on until the end, no matter how tempted he is to stop along the way.

EXCERPT from 'Woke Up in a Strange Place':


“I CAN see heaven,” Lou said. He was holding Joe, cradling him in his arms as they lay on the nighttime beach. They combated the crisp breeze with warm sweaters and a tight embrace. The sound of the water beating the rocks and the shore soothed them.

“You can see past the clouds?” Joe asked, playing along.

They had spent the month traveling the coast of New England—the Gay Grand Tour. They had rested at B&Bs that had been recommended along the way. Their golden retriever, Spooner, had been left with Joe’s mother. They missed him terribly but needed the time alone.

Things had been strained lately. They needed to focus on each other again. Joe’s position as a book editor—mostly tomes on mythology and folklore—had taken up a lot of time. And Lou’s mother was a bit of a menace.

“Absolutely, I can see it,” Lou replied. “Just up there. It’s not so far.” He pointed to a vacant patch in the sky. “It’s just past that star you can see shining through that cloud clearing.”

Joe laughed comfortably. “You’re a silly man, Lou,” he said, snuggling into Lou’s chest, smelling his cologne.

“What would you do if I died?” Lou asked. His voice took on a slightly more serious tone.

The question took Joe aback. He raised his head from Lou’s chest and looked him in the eye. “What kind of question…? We’re too young to be talking like that.”

“We’re not too young. I just turned thirty. People die every day.”

“Well, not us,” Joe replied bluntly. Granted, they hadn’t been taking terribly good care of themselves lately—lots of take-out and an expired gym membership—but talking about dying just seemed odd. Like an insurance commercial. “We’re together forever. I’d go crazy without you. Absolute bonkers.”

“You’ve got more courage than that. You would survive.”

Joe didn’t say anything, but he knew Lou was wrong. He couldn’t think of a world without him. Not anymore. Not after all he’d been through, all the disappointments and searching.

“Would you wait for me?” Joe asked quietly, his head resting again on Lou’s strong chest.


“In heaven. Beyond the clouds and the stars. Would you wait for me?”

“It wouldn’t be heaven without you. Of course I’d wait. I’ll always wait for you, Joseph. Waiting for you, the anticipation, it’s what drives me. You’re my life-force.”

Joe sighed, tears in his eyes. “Smooth talker. You always know just what clichés to use.”

“Go to sleep, baby,” Lou whispered. “I’ll be here in the morning.”

A Beautiful Place to Get Lost

VARIOUS echoes. That was all he heard until he opened his eyes.

With a last snap of his synapses like lightning charging back to heaven, Joe found himself in another place altogether. The stale argument of biology versus spirituality became moot. In the end, none of it mattered.

One wonders why there needed to be a right or wrong answer at all. Joe realized then that love had only ever been about content, not form.

It was a repositioning, a new form of situating himself. He was lying on his back in a summer field of barley now. How he had gotten there, he had no idea. Maybe the sky had dropped him. However it happened, he was lucid. Everything still felt real. Still felt… tangible. Stalks surrounded him. In the afterlife, most people wake up in fields of gold. This has been so since death began because it’s what most humans know of peace, beauty, and ease. He knew the feel of the barley as it scratched his skin; he smelled the fragrance of summer as it blew past him, over him; he tasted the sweet humidity; and he hummed with the lulling sound of honey bees making love to nearby wildflowers. There was a perceptible heaviness to the smell of the breeze, though. Like a frost was soon to set in. A few of the stalks were dead and fallen.

There was no discomfort in the barley’s touch. It was a pleasant itch, like a tickle. In fact, there was a tickling sensation to everything, an almost untamable giddiness. He heard a giggle issue forth from his own being as he lay on the golden blanket, stretching his arms and legs out to their full extent.

He could remember nothing of before, our hero. The last vestiges of imagery had become sepia, like a dream, clouded around the edges. His memory was receding like the tide. This accounted for his lack of frantic anxiety, for his complete acceptance of an otherwise absurd situation. Only he existed in the barley, free of caustic worries. The few dead barley stalks were interesting but not worrisome.

Memory? What was memory? Me-mo-ree. A strange word. A distant concept. Laughable. Lacking in
description. For all he understood, the whole ball of existence was set above and around him and had always been barley and gorgeous sky.

There was only one thing he was certain of, and that was simply because the thought had attached itself to him so fiercely, like a stubborn root digging deep into the soil. His name was Joe.

Joe. Was that it? Three letters? J-O-E. Three tiny symbols of some ancient script signifying an existence.

There was more, right? There had to be more. There must be strength and vitality and vigor wrapped up in those letters somehow, for he was of the barley now, of the very same fortitude and determination. He felt it inside.

Joe (as he remembered his own name with some glee) lay staring at the sky. It was different than what he thought a sky should look like. Not a single solitary shade, but multi-layered, like a cake. Like sweet eats streaked and decorated with purples and pinks and oranges.

He lounged and gazed upward, feeling no need to move. There was no urgent call to stand and appropriate a functional demeanor. He felt only the impulse to melt or sink into earth or sky.

He was not alone where he lay but could sense curious rodents and lisping reptiles passing around him. Yet he felt no fear or repugnance at the thought of them. They were of the barley as well. Everything was one.

A wisp of some sweet redolence wafted over him as he relaxed hidden in the tall, thin stalks of golden grass. 

It was familiar, like an echo.

The sound of something wading through the barley raised Joe’s curiosity. He rose to his knees, peering over the tips of the stalks as they swayed lazily.

He saw a figure. Another someone moving steadily through the grain waves. The barley flowed around the form as it slowly approached.

Soon, it became clear to Joe that this new form was that of a young man. He possessed a slender face, a strong nose and brow, a cleft chin, and dark black hair that blew with the wind at his bare shoulders. He looked tired. His face was pale, and dark circles marred his worried eyes. Farther behind the Stranger (and even more curious), almost like an afterthought demanding to be seen, was a golden retriever that leaped high enough into the air to see above the gorgeous field, ears flopping and tongue hanging loosely.

Joe got to his feet and waited for the young man with a rush of excitement, though it was a mystery as to why. He ran his hand over the top of the barley that flourished hip-high around him, the tips tickling his tender flesh.

“You’re here,” the young Stranger said, looking quite breathless. A hint of expectation lay in his expression. 

It was as if he wanted to tell Joe something urgent. The muscles in his jaw flexed and striated. It was a lovely jaw, one that might have been carved from stone.

“I’m here,” Joe repeated. “But where’s here?” Joe’s eyes were wide, keenly observant. His peculiar feeling of intimacy with this mysterious man grew as the Stranger spoke. Joe felt a closeness, a need for this individual. Potent desire had now supplanted his previous complacency. His very breath quickened in this new presence and matched that of the Stranger’s own.

“Here’s where you’re supposed to be.” The man smiled with a shrug. His tired eyes were misty and full of emotion.

“That’s a stupid thing to say.” Joe grinned. “But it’s nice. It’s really nice here.” He looked around at the flowing field of gold and the ecstatic canine in the distance, if only to keep from staring so obviously at every tiny detail of the Stranger’s face. What lovely eyes!

“Well, it’s been waiting a while for you.” The Stranger couldn’t seem to take his sad eyes from Joe.

“I know you,” Joe said, drawing closer through the barley. He recognized that the Stranger was naked, but then, he realized, he was too. He hadn’t noticed this fact before but felt no disgrace in it now. “Who are you?” he queried softly.

“You’re right,” the man smiled with slight mischief. “You know me. You know me very well, Joseph.” He stared at Joe, swallowing a lump in his throat. Again, that look of urgency, of some tale to be told.
Without thinking, Joe put his hand to the Stranger’s chest. He felt as if it were an altogether natural thing to do. He felt the warmth of skin, but there was no rhythm beneath it. There was no beat or cadence in the toned chest. Joe gasped as a sudden maverick echo shocked him like a jolt of electricity. The chill of grief and loss rippled through him, and the image of a towering structure appeared in his mind, a lighthouse from a distant memory. It lasted only for a moment, passing quickly, but it made him draw his hand away. The Stranger grabbed it gently. A soft breeze sprinkled over them, birds in the cake-like sky, butterflies in the field just above the flaxen waves.

The Stranger smiled again. Nostalgia. His eyes brilliant blue hints of past joys. Memory.

“I know you… who are you?” Joe choked out, all at once very moved.

“I have to go now, Joe,” the Stranger said as he let go of Joe’s hand. “I just had to see for myself if it was true. And it is: you’re really here.” With teary-eyed reluctance, he turned and began walking away. He appeared not to see the dog that bounded ahead of him.

 “Please!” Joe shouted. In that moment, he felt the odd sensation of something being torn from him, something deeply cherished. “Where am I? Can I come with you?” He began trampling through the barley toward the Stranger. More of the stalks looked haggard and frostbitten.

The Stranger turned with a smile, a tear traveling slowly down his face. “You will. But it takes time. You’ve got to remember it all first.”

Joe felt that want, that painful need to be with this young man.

“I will be there when it all comes back, Joe. But it has to come back slowly, like these waves of gold.”

“And you’ll be waiting?” Joe knew he sounded desperate. But his desperation did not feel baseless.

“As long as it takes. You know I will,” the Stranger said as he lifted his hand to wave. “Have courage. Great courage.”

The horizon very quickly changed to a deep violet and seemed to draw itself around the young man like wrapping paper. His lovely form became a silhouette and then vanished altogether into the darkening air as if he had not been there at all. The golden retriever disappeared as well, with a reverberating call for play. The 
Stranger’s leaving brought the dusk.

Joe stood bewildered and shaken. A dim light shone on the stalks about him from the sky’s devastating moonlight. He felt he would cry, like a child ripped from the comfort of loving arms. He questioned what to do, looking about at the darkened field that now began to glitter with tiny bugs. It seemed colder now. That frost was settling in.

He perceived a penetrating restlessness in his core, a surge of ambition to get underway so that he might be with the Stranger once again. After all, he had said he would be waiting. This was no time to wallow in the tragedy of things lost. This was a time to begin a search for answers. Joe could not remain in the field. He had to walk on. And though there was no trail or path that he might follow, he placed one foot in front of the other and began.

His journey was now underway.

As he made his way through the violet night, his grief faded and was assuaged by the serenity he had first known lying in the tall grass. The tips of barley again brushed and tickled his hands, groin, and thighs as he walked. Every step he took gave him hope, though he was more aware than ever of the dead stalks.
Off on the horizon and high above him, indeed all around him, he saw thousands of glittering lights of all colors blinking and winking their way across the sky. Some left exuberant streaks to show their passage in the night; others were almost imperceptible. It was a hypnotizing show, and it delighted him.

Once he had decided to start walking, tokens of past experiences came more easily to him. Remembrances in little droplets, like dew forming on a leaf. He remembered now his dislike for ketchup but his love of hamburgers; his favorite color, green; and his favorite time of day, dusk. All of these tiny personal accents collecting now like little dewdrops finding their ways to the center of the leaf. And as he peered into the night, his earliest memories came back to him.

Eric Arvin resides in the same sleepy Indiana river town where he grew up. He graduated from Hanover College with a Bachelors in History. He has lived, for brief periods, in Italy and Australia. He has survived brain surgery and his own loud-mouthed personal demons. Eric is the author of THE REST IS ILLUSION, SUBSURDITY, SIMPLE MEN, WOKE UP IN A STRANGE PLACE, and various other sundry and not-so-sundry writings. He intends to live the rest of his days with tongue in cheek and eyes set to roam.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Highest Bidder Kimberly Hunter

To those who know me best, my love of all things Japanese is no surprise. So writing a M/M romance with Japanese elements didn’t make them blink an eye. But what none of them know is that I got the idea for my book THE HIGHEST BIDDER from one of my favorite yaoi anime called Okane ga Nai. For those who haven’t watched this anime, the basic premise is a Japanese college student gets sold by his cousin to pay off the cousin’s debts and a Yakuza business man buys him. A good premise, but I wanted my story to be more. A lot more. I also didn’t want it to resemble fanfic in any way. This was to be an original story from my own imagination. And it worked.
For months, I tossed around ideas and different scenarios. Then one night at work, it came to me. Human trafficking, drugs, an American college student, a Japanese business man, Interpol, a psycho bent on revenge, and plenty of secondary characters to keep the action going. Only thing is, this was supposed to be a short story. No more than 10 or 15k. But give your Muse an inch and she’ll take a mile. By the time I finished this story, it was way over my original mark. I was more than happy with the outcome though. And really, after it was finished, I realized that there was no way I could have packed all that into a 10 or 15k story.
This book released back in March to a plethora of different reviews. Most have been on the negative side, but that’s fine. The story is good and I love the characters I created. But the one’s that were good have the same question. Will there be more? Yes, there will. I left a few unanswered questions with just this purpose in mind. I know it may seem like there are plot holes, but if I wanted to put everything in the book that I had planned, it would have been over 200k. LOL! So chopping the book up was the only way. Plus, I could give the secondary characters their own stories while tying up all the loose ends I left behind in the first book.
 I have books planned for all the team members, the twins especially, and a follow up for Renji and Trey with a few surprises and a return of one pissed off senator. He’s been very vocal about getting his turn, but I really don’t think he’ll like what I have in mind for him.


Getting kidnapped was bad enough, but when Trey Morrison gets sold off to the highest bidder and drugged to boot, well, he knows that his day had just gone from bad to worst. Or has it?
 Going undercover to take down a madman, Renjiro Takeda has rubbed elbows with the world’s vilest men. But spotting Trey on the auction block makes him throw all caution to winds and buy him. 
Little does he know that his new purchase will set into motion a chain of events that neither him nor Trey will be able to escape.
It’s a life or death situation for the new lovers and winner takes all.


         Grabbing both of Trey’s wrists, Renji pushed himself back. His breathing was choppy and a monster erection strained against his zipper.
“We can’t.”
“Why not?” Trey tried to break free, clearly wanting to finish what he started.
He jerked him a little to get Trey’s attention. “I won’t take you like this, hana. Your first time should be on your own terms, not because of some drug.” The endearment slipped out without any thought, but it felt right. Hana, the Japanese word for flower.
Blinking, Trey shook his head, eyes going wide. “God, Renji, I’m so sorry. I…I’ve never come on to a guy in my life. I don’t know what’s happening. I’m…I’m…”
“Shhh.” He gently pulled, gathering Trey into his arms. “It’s all right, I’m going to help you through this. But I meant what I said. I won’t take you like this. When we make love, and I promise you we will, I want your responses to be real, not drug induced.”
Trey angled back a little. “You want to make love to me?”
“More than you could possibly imagine.” He groaned as he leaned in and gave Trey a sweet but thorough kiss. When he finally pulled away, they were both panting and Trey was writhing in his seat, eyes nearly black with need, cheeks flushed. His beauty was enough to take Renji’s breath away. Flower indeed.
“I’m scared, Renji.” Trey’s body was trembling with, no doubt, a combination of fear and arousal. “I’ve never felt so out of control, so needy. I want…God, Renji, I want so much.”
He held Trey tight as his tears made wet tracks on Renji’s bare chest, Trey’s quiet sobs enough to break Renji’s heart. “I’ll take care of you, hana. Trust me?”
Trey took a deep breath and nodded, pushing away slightly to wipe the tears from his pink cheeks. “Yeah, oddly enough, I do.”
“I’m glad.” Renji wasted no time, picking Trey up and carrying him to the stateroom, one of the perks of having a private jet.
“You’re going to throw your back out hauling me around like this.”
“Hardly.” Renji chuckled. “Besides, you feel good in my arms.” He placed a tender kiss on Trey’s sweaty brow then walked over the threshold to the bedroom and a king-size bed. There, he gently placed Trey on the red satin comforter and pillows.


         Hmm, about me... Well, not too much to tell. I was a reader before I ever became a writer. I live in a small town in North Carolina with my hubby and our extremely spoiled German shepherd. My son is grown and out on his own. I write erotica, paranormal, futuristic, contemporary, and m/m. Stop by my website for updates on what I’m working on next.

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