Posts Tagged 'Paranormal Lesbian Romance'

Random Acts of Progress

By Aurora Rey

 

When I wrote stories as a child, I did so because it was a fun way to imagine experiences and adventures beyond my own. As I grew up, I came to understand how much more power stories had, both for the writer and those who read them. I spent a few years obsessed with the idea of being a writer, without writing much.

And then I went through a period of personal upheaval and soul searching and a divorce. As I came out the other side of that, I remembered how much writing meant to me. I started writing in earnest and somewhere along the way I found my voice.

It wasn’t for another couple of years that I began writing romance. Even now, with my third romance coming out in a few months, writing romance—lesbian romance, no less—feels like an act of defiance. A heady mix of hope and daring that says love matters. Queer voices matter. I matter.

This sentiment has felt especially important after the recent US election. Politics aside, the uptick in hate-fueled speech and actions demands a response. There has been a flurry of activity on my social media sites around the idea of doing something—attending a protest or calling congress or having hard conversations with family. There’s also been a lot of talk about loving more, of random acts of kindness. I like the philosophy of that, spreading love and joy to complete strangers. I don’t think we can have too much of that in the world.

I’m trying to do my part. On a recent trip to Louisiana, I left extra cash in my hotel room for the housekeeping staff and generous tips at restaurants and coffee shops. I made eye contact with strangers and smiled. I reached out to a few relatives I was inclined to avoid. I’ve called my senator. But there are days when it doesn’t feel like enough, when the impact feels too small.

I’ve decided to expand the idea slightly. I call it random acts of progress. Actions that have a concrete impact on issues I care about. Donations are part of it, because money matters. But it’s other things too—volunteering with the local refugee welcome organization or serving on the board of the center for survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault. It’s making a commitment to make things better for those least able to advocate for themselves. Even if those individual acts don’t feel like much. Just like random acts of kindness, they add up. That’s the whole point, right?

Crescent City ConfidentialAnd that brings me back to writing. I just sent off the final revisions for Crescent City Confidential and I’m nearing completion of my first draft of Summer’s Cove. As much as it feels sometimes like writing romances is the last thing I should be thinking about, I know that’s not true.

The simple act of writing is, in fact, doing something. Telling stories of love and hope, stories in which women, queers, and people of color save the day and live happily ever after, is progress. Until the day conversion therapy is a bad idea referenced in psychology textbooks, until no child fears coming out, until every family is treated with dignity, LGBTQ stories are an integral part of making the world a better place. And I’m proud to be part of it.

 

The Passion of the Rain Queen

BY FIONA ZEDDE

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All over the world, people have been gay forever. People have had strong relationships with their own gods and traditions forever. People have loved each other, consensually and passionately, in different incarnations forever. But so much of the history of that time and those people has been erased in favor of a white, heteronormative story of the past when religion and war ruled and everything else not falling in line simply didn’t exist.

 

When I go back to look for the vibrant past of pre-colonial African countries, it had been largely impossible to find. It’s both disheartening and heartbreaking. There are hints of us here and there. A word passed down through time, surviving pieces of a statue broken by invaders, a great-grandmother who sometimes remembers a couple or three existing peacefully within the community, couples who were married in the important ways and didn’t look like the typical gender pairings.

Truth: The last ruling Rain Queen (of the Lovedu or Balobedu tribe) died in 2005.

Creation: Rain Queens do not live for centuries.

When the Rain Queen’s story came to me, it wasn’t so much an idea as the memory of a piece of historical fact. After reading about the terrible things being done to LGBTQ people all over Africa and the world in the name of gods or guns or simple cruelty, I felt furious and helpless. With the bible in one hand and a sharp machete or gun in the other, monsters (because what else could they be?) were determined to rid the world of people they think shouldn’t belong. People who in reality have always been and have always belonged.

 

After feeling and crying and wishing for better, I soothed myself by diving into the past to search for signs of us. And I found them. In this under-documented past, there were non-pejorative names for us. There were safe places for us. And, like a certain quote hints at, people across the African continent still had their lands and their beliefs, and no foreign bible telling them their entire lives were wrong.

 

IMG_7649And so, my new novel, Rise of the Rain Queen, is both an imagining and a re-telling. A conflation of histories and mythologies. A universe of god-like beings, strong women, and people who love despite the rules or the odds.

 

In the novel, Nyandoro is a spoiled and well-loved daughter with big dreams that include wooing and marrying one of the most beautiful women in the village, a woman who is already married to a wealthy elder. Through the strength of her will alone, Nyandoro eventually gets what she wants, but these realized desires shatter her life in ways she never expected. Her life changes. She changes.

 

Though the novel is set in the 14th century Tanganyika region, Nyandoro’s aspirations—for wealth and companionship, to make a positive mark on the community—are things we can all empathize with. Who hasn’t seen injustice in the world and wanted to correct it? Who hasn’t yearned deeply and keenly for the unattainable? Who hasn’t loved?

 

I like to think Nyandoro’s story is both mundane and extraordinary. She wants, just like we do. She is impulsive, is awed by beauty. Gets taken in by temptation. Like any human placed on this earth, she deserves a chance to live and to make her world a better place. She is us.

I hope you enjoy her story.

 

To learn more about queer life in different African societies before now, read Boy Wives and Female Husbands by Stephen O. Murray and Will Roscoe.

 

To learn more about Rain Queens of the Lovedu people, start here: http://bit.ly/297hQJW

 

To read more about Nyandoro, see her short story “Kiss of the Rain Queen” in my story collection, When She Says Yes.

 

My novel, Rise of the Rain Queen, is available now.

Why the Wolfpack?

BY JENNY FRAME

Heart of the PackAs I was pulling together some ideas for my new book, Heart Of The Pack, a friend asked me why I was so interested in wolves as a theme, why the Wolfpack? She had noticed my social media regularly featured wolf pictures, and werewolf posts and quotes. When I thought about it, as much as I find the wild wolf beautiful, I really think it’s the mythology of the werewolf that speaks to me.

I only discovered paranormal romance a few years ago. The vampire mythology was good but it never really hooked me in the way werewolves do. Werewolf mythology, which has grown over time in books and TV, seems to fit naturally into the romance genre.

So why does it seem so attractive to me, and countless others? Here are my thoughts…

  • Mate for life – I think this is the biggest and most attractive rule of wolf fiction. What woman wouldn’t find the concept of mating for life utterly romantic? To live in certain knowledge that your chosen mate is destined to be by your side until death, so different from the reality of real life. That’s what romance fiction is all about to me, an escape from real life into a world of fairy tales and happy ever afters.
  • Pack hierarchy – In the strict regime of a wolfpack everyone has a role and knows their place. To most that strict regime would be restrictive and suffocating, but to some it can bring comfort and certainty. As someone who has is introverted and doesn’t like change, I can easily understand the attraction to that kind social structure.
  • Non-traditional gender roles – This is something that has featured, and grown up in lesbian paranormal romance, and something I have tried to take a bit further in my book.

Each writer tackles this in their own unique way. In my world of Wolfgang County, each wolf is categorized not by the sex they are born in, but by the natural programming they display as youngsters to be either dominant or submissive. This allows the characters to be who they were truly born to be, a philosophy that I think would be truly wonderful if our human society could come to terms with it.

  • The Pack, the family – We all have a need to belong. Whether we have a wonderful family, or a dysfunctional family, there are times in life when we all feel alone. How wonderful would it be if the town where you lived and everyone in it looked at you as if they were your pack, your family? You would never have a reason to feel alone and you would always have people who would laugh with you, mourn with you, protect you, and love you, and that’s exactly what the pack gives you. I for one believe that would be a wonderful feeling.

Imagine then a human walking into this alien world? That’s exactly what my protagonist does in Heart of the Pack. Selena Miller is a human who is extremely introverted, suffers with anxiety and body image issues, brought on by a critical, controlling and overbearing family. How could someone like this find freedom in a werewolf pack?

Firstly in contrast to her rich superficial upbringing, where people married for money or position, the citizens of Wolfgang County, mate for life with the one who their heart yearns for. They prize their mate and their offspring above anything, enjoying a simple life of loving and playing with their children, something that is far removed from Selena’s childhood.

Despite the apparent rigidity of the Wolfgang’s community, they do nature and support the natural talent an individual has. Lifting them higher and not judging them. This follows into the concept of non-traditional gender roles.

Selena has always been forced to by family expectations to work in the high powered, Alpha male/female business world, and all she has ever wanted was to be a teacher. What she finds in the Wolfgang world is that everyone is allowed and encouraged to follow their natural inclinations and talents, whether that be a tough ranch hand, a teacher or a stay at home mom.

It’s only when she enters this world and meets the extremely confident pack Second, Caden that she begins to see new possibilities for her life. The book is not only a love story between the two lead characters, it’s also a story about a human falling in love with a community and a way of life, and finding her place in the Heart of the Pack. I suppose this mirrors my own love for werewolf mythology and my belief that we all have a lot to learn from the Wolfpack.

What do you do with a lovesick dragon horse?

BY D. JACKSON LEIGH

Tracker and the Spy 300 DPIFor those who joined me on the Dragon Horse War journey when “The Calling” debuted a year ago, the trilogy continues this month with the release of “Tracker and the Spy.” 

“The Calling”  told the story of First Warrior Jael who was ordered by The Collective Council to assemble an army of dragon horse warriors and stop The Natural Order, a dangerous cult gaining ground in their society.

The cult is a retro movement – not in a groovy 60s kind of way — that promotes belief in a single deity who has a propensity for torturing any souls who don’t worship him and declares men as master over the perpetual source of new human life, namely women. The cult’s leader, who calls himself The Prophet, isn’t a live-and-let-live kind of guy and intends to force the rest of humanity to conform to his belief by taking control of the world’s dwindling food supply. So far, his plan is working.

Jael’s mission, of course, catches a little bad air when she falls head over heels for her direct opposite, First Advocate Alyssa, a peace-loving empath. Alyssa has issues with Jael’s mission to prematurely cremate (as in before he’s dead) The Prophet so that his badly born soul will be purified to reincarnate and make restitution in his next life for his misdeeds in this life.

“The Calling” ends just after the Jael’s army of flying pyros concludes Dragon Horse War The Calling 300 DPIits first clash with The Natural Order. The dragon-horse warriors scatter The Natural Order believers in that first battle, but The Prophet and his second-in-command escape.

No problem.

Capt. Tanisha, one of the six warriors of the elite Guard who are Jael’s command staff, is an expert tracker. It’s just that Tan has a few quirks, a few guilt and anger issues left over from her previous lives. So, Jael assigns Kyle to help the complex and solitary Tan in her hunt for The Prophet.

That is a bit of a problem.

Kyle is an exceedingly powerful, but untrained pyro who just happens to be the daughter of The Prophet. She’s just joined the dragon horse army after escaping from her father and wants no part of Jael’s plan to return her to The Natural Order as a spy.

Also, Tan’s even more twitchy than usual because her dragon horse  has picked this inopportune time to get the urge to mate. Since warrior and dragon horse are bonded, Phyrrhos’ urgent need for love is driving Tan crazy with lust. The last thing she needs is to be distracted by an untrained sparkler – especially one with a hot body with eyes as blue as lasers – while she’s tracking.

But Jael pulls rank and orders the tracker and the spy partnership.

Then, when things can’t get any worse, Phyrrhos decides Jael’s dragon stallion, Specter is prime daddy material. Specter is willing, which drives Jael a little crazy.

That lights the First Advocate’s candle because she’s laid claim to the First Warrior’s sexy assets and isn’t about to let two horny dragon horses trigger a rerun of Tan’s and Jael’s former “friends with benefits” relationship.

Then there’s Phyrrhos’ sudden and baffling affection for Kyle – not in a mating, but in a motherly kind of way.

Sun and stars! This is no time for a meeting of the mile-high club. The Prophet and his henchmen are getting away.

 

Totally didn’t see this coming

I’ve always been a “plotter” rather than a “pantser.” Translation: I write from an outline because my writing time is jammed in around a full time job, the chores of living and a little time with friends so they don’t forget who I am. So, an outline lets me put a manuscript down for a few days or even a few weeks and pick right back up where I left off.

The characters in the Dragon Horse War trilogy had other ideas. I started it as a lark because I had an unusual spate of weird dreams about dragons. Then it became my personal commentary on the decline of current society into a culture of hate and greed, and, to my own surprise, an introspective journey of discovery.

Best of all, the Dragon Horse War trilogy is a wild adventure of pyro-gifted warriors, flying horses, and the discovery of many other less fantastic gifts we humans didn’t know we could wield. The good guys have flaws, some of the bad guys have redeeming qualities and the story has lots of bumps along the way.

 

Back on track

Meanwhile, “Tracker and the Spy” is the longest manuscript I’ve ever written, because the misbehaving dragon horses is the only the spark – its real importance emerges later – that starts Tan’s and Kyle’s personal story and their mission to track down The Prophet.

There are battle scenes, tragedy, unanticipated developments and new characters to love and hate. There’s also personal discovery, romance …and a set-up for the third book to come.

That final book has yet to be written, and honestly, while I think I know how it will end, I can only say for sure that the characters will let me know.

Editor’s Note: If you leave a comment on this blog, you’ll get a chance to win a free autographed copy of “Tracker and the Spy”

 

  1. Jackson Leigh

2013 GCLS Paranormal winner for “Touch Me Gently”

2014 GCLS Romance winner for “Every Second Counts”

2014 Lambda finalist for “Hold Me Forever”

Five Things I learned from Comic Con

BY SHERI LEWIS WOHL

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The invitation was quite unexpected and it took all of about three seconds to say “yes.” Would I consider coming to the Long Beach Comic Con to participate in a panel on LGBT issues in fiction? No need to ask twice, I booked my airline ticket, reserved my room at the historic Varden Hotel, and waited with great anticipation for the day to arrive. I was going to my first Comic Con.

Now given what I write you might wonder why it was my first one. Oh, I’ve wanted to go in the worst way and yet was always too chicken to make the venture. For me, the greatest risk I’ve taken is to write my books the way I want to write them and create the characters that make me happy. Everything else about my life is pretty conservative from the day job to the city I live in to my leisure-time activities. It’s simply the way I’ve always rolled.

Yet inside me is the wild woman longing to be set free. Lately I’ve been listening to that woman and slowly, she’s finding a bit of freedom. It probably started with my novels then moved to going out on a limb with some extra work on Z Nation. Then a play. Then dancing in a short film. And finally accepting the Comic Con invitation.

Walking up the steps to the entrance of the Long Beach Convention Center was a moment filled with joy that was also mixed with trepidation. I mean, let’s face it, I’m not a kid anymore and did I really belong there? Had this ship passed me by while I huddled beneath my conservative cloak pretending to the world that I didn’t want to be different? My answers were just inside the glass doors ahead of me. All I had to do was take a deep breath, open the doors, and walk inside.

And so I did. By the end of the first day, five things became very clear to me:

  1. You’re never too old to let your dreams soar. Comic Con isn’t just for kids. It speaks to every age, race, and gender. Dreams come alive inside those doors no matter who you are.
  2. You’re not alone. You might think you’re the only one who finds Steam Punk awesome but you’re not. You might think you’re the only one who believes Princess Leah is hot but you’re not.
  3. Live for the moment, you’ll not regret it. Joy is in the air the moment you step inside. Drink it in and let it nourish your soul.
  4. Be brave. Not everyone will understand why Comic Con is important to you. Walk through those doors anyway because inside are lots and lots of people who do.
  5. Top hats are cool. No explanation necessary…you either get it or you don’t!Twisted Whispers

Comic Con was an experience filled with things I never imagined. I met great people, witnessed incredible artistic talent at every turn, and was surrounded by positive creativity. As I now sit and write my stories of psychics, werewolves, vampires, and ghosts, I know without any reservation that out there in the world are those kindred spirits who get it and maybe, just maybe, I’ll see them again at the next Comic Con.

And next time…I’m wearing my top hat.

http://www.sherilewiswohl.com

Castle in the Clouds

By Sheri Lewis Wohl

Pacific Ocean

Pacific Ocean

 

I would like to say I’m your average, normal person. Lord knows I’ve tried. I’ve raised a family, worked in the same job for over two decades, volunteered in my community, and tried to be good and kind. For the most part, I think I succeeded. It’s just the normal part I keep tripping up on. If you’ve read any of my books, you’ve probably got an idea of what I mean. Few, if any, who know me well would use Sheri and normal in the same sentence!

Take writing, for example, I’ve tried to write straight-forward books filled with danger and intrigue. Oh, I get the danger and intrigue all right but something else always creeps in: the paranormal. It doesn’t matter how I start out. It doesn’t matter what my intentions are. Each and every time here comes a ghost, a vampire, a werewolf, and many others of preternatural ilk. I can try not to write paranormal and I fail miserably. Perhaps it’s a little like Carl Sagan once said: “Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere.” Take away my preternatural characters and suddenly, I’m nowhere.

Becoming yourself. Finding your voice. Embracing what and who you are is a difficult thing. It’s taken me a very long time to look in the mirror and like who I see. It’s taken me just as long to find peace with my artistic endeavors. Fear is a terrible thing and I lived it for so very long. Not a single day more. Though I know it was a process years in the making it seems as though I simply woke up one day and was comfortable in my own skin. I didn’t have to compete with anyone. Didn’t have to be younger, prettier, more talented. I didn’t have to be normal! Some people will like me. Some people will not. Some people will like my work. Some people will not. And, it’s all okay. I have found my place and though it’s miles away from what many consider normal, it is my space to imagine the impossible, dance like no one’s looking, and stand on center stage to perform.

As Gilbert K. Chesterton said, “There are no rules of architecture for a castle in the clouds.” In Twisted EchoesTwisted_Echoes_300_DPI it’s more a castle on the ocean shores but the sentiment is still the same. On a road trip a few years back I stood alongside the highway staring out at the mighty Pacific Ocean and I could see it all in my head: The house, the ghosts, the psychic. Did anyone else with me see those images? Nope, not a single one. It didn’t matter a bit for I was building my castle in the clouds that blustery day and you can count on me to keep doing just that.


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