Holy s#@! I’m old

A feeling has been brewing for months now … the feeling that I’m old. Not, like, nursing home old or black-socks-with-sandals old but oldish. The feeling only recently intensified thanks to two bits of breaking news:

One: Tom Petty died.
Two: Benedict Cumberbatch is now vegan.
Let me explain.

I love you, Tom!!

The Tom Petty thing is self-evident. As I bemoaned the loss of one of my favorite musicians ever, Jake pointed out that this sort of thing is going to start happening more and more as the artists we grew up with  literally get old and die.

The Cumberbatch explanation takes more time. As you’re probably aware, I adore this man, so I know pretty much everything about the guy, including the fact that he quit smoking a couple years ago, then became a father, and turned forty-one in July. Now, apparently, he’s gone vegan.

I’m not against going vegan, but I feel like Mr. Cumberbatch is desperately trying to stop the clock to extend his career (which I’m obviously fine with because I love him). Still, one of my favorite stories I’ve heard him tell is about the time he and Keira Knightley got drunk on espresso martinis the night before filming Atonement and then had to show up on set, run dialogue, and pretend they didn’t wanna vomit. Now, he’s an adult or something and won’t smoke or eat cheese. WTF?

Smokin’ hot.

As someone who smokes the occasional coffin nail, loves cheese, and can’t listen to “Free Falling” without crying, these two bits of information were terribly upsetting, along with the recent realization that my favorite yoga instructor is TWENTY. She can’t even buy beer.

In my own bid to be one of the cool kids, I downloaded Snapchat after a rollicking weekend with a bunch of twenty-somethings in Charleston, South Carolina. Imagine my horror when some of the photos made my neck look wrinkly. I’ve been obsessively coating my chest with lotion ever since.

Apparently, part of the aging process is denying it’s happening by being healthy and adjusting our diets and being mindful or some such BS.  The diet adjustment conversation happened between Jake and I last week when I complained about heartburn, and he looked at me as if to say, “Well, maybe if you didn’t like whiskey and pizza so much …”

I’m thirty-five years old, and all around me, friends are giving up gluten, suffering through back aches, and quitting smoking. Even I’ve become an avid hot yoga attendee thanks to a stupid injury that, if I were younger, never would have happened.

Don’t look at my neck!

The conclusion I have to make is that, in the grand scheme of age, I’m getting older. Fine, I’m not old, but I am indeed getting older. I have wrinkles and grey hair. I have hangovers that last two whole days. Sometimes, I just want to go to bed at nine PM, okay? Still, I’m not ready to go extreme.

Something I learned on that shenanigan of a trip in Charleston: I can still party like a college kid. I can still laugh ’til my ribs hurt. I still get hit on by children (aka twenty-one-year-olds). Yeah, my neck looks weird in photos on occasion, but maybe age is less about what our bodies are doing and more about our points of view. Maybe if we think young, we will remain young?

I can’t be sure. This is my first experience with aging, so I’m learning as I go. Maybe there will be a day when I give up pizza in exchange for zero heartburn … but today is not that day. Maybe there will be a day when staying out until two AM is just too much … but today is not that day. Maybe there’ll be a day when I can listen to “Free Falling” without sobbing, but mmm, no, today is not that day.

A sweet story … except for the murder

My love stories don’t tend to be sweet. I’m more into noir weirdos with purple hair (cough, Imogene) than two semi-normal good people. Then, I wrote “Claimed” and was like, “Wow, that was actually adorable … except for that one murder scene.”

Olivia is a super old vampire in Charleston, South Carolina, when someone tries to kill her. To survive, she attacks a young human walking his dog and accidentally becomes linked to Ethan, body and soul. That’s when Ethan’s nightmares start, and Olivia realizes he needs to be with her. Like, forever. Which is a huge problem when Ethan becomes Human Most Wanted for some vengeful bloodsuckers.

“Claimed” is out today in Blood in the Rain 3 from Cwtch Press. The cover is beyond sexy. Here, gaze on its magnificence …

Nom nom nom!!! Now, read an excerpt from “Claimed,” because for once, I wrote a love story about two people who legitimately deserve happiness. (Not that Imogene doesn’t but, well … she is pretty twisted, okay?)


Death came quickly—or would have if not for the human by the palm tree on King Street. He walked a dog that barked at her in fear. Away from the bars of downtown Charleston, they were alone on the sidewalk, alone outside for blocks thanks to the late hour. The human’s voice reached her: gentle murmurings, cautious whispers, and then louder inquiries.

The dog growled and barked some more, and Olivia fell to one knee on the pavement. Her vision dimmed, so she closed her eyes and shook her head back and forth as if that would stop the dead blood from coursing through her veins.

She thought about being at the bar earlier, about seeing Alexander across the room with his own blood-filled glass lifted in salute. Olivia had paid the bartender and left after consuming half a bottle of Age 37, which had apparently been spiked with blood from a dead human.

In other words, someone had tried to murder her.

But then, there he was: the human on the sidewalk with the barking dog. She looked up at his tall silhouette, back lit white by a streetlight. She reached her hand up to him but crumpled into a small undead ball when pain stabbed across her gut. Her lungs contracted and would not expand. She choked on lack of air.

The human’s gentle voice reached her again, but she couldn’t make out the words. She clenched her jaw together to capture a strangled growl when she lost feeling in her legs. Then, his hands were on her shoulders—large, warm hands. The dog continued barking a few feet away, its leash now tied to the base of a palm tree.

Up close, she made sense of his words: “I’m calling an ambulance.”

Before he could call, though, she dragged herself up by the front of his coat. She climbed the front of his crouched body until she could wrap her arms around his neck, and he held her. He told her it was going to be okay.

Olivia’s canines descended, and she bit down hard on the side of his throat. He tried to push her away, but she clung, especially when his blood filled her mouth. It had been a hundred years since she’d tasted fresh human blood, right from the vein. She moaned against his skin as he attempted to scramble back, maybe free the barking dog, but she wasn’t dying anymore. She used her strength to pin the man to the pavement, and the dog barked and barked. The man’s heartbeat slowed.

When she realized what was about to occur, she pulled her teeth from his throat and stared down at him. How old could he be? Twenty? Twenty-one? The only wrinkles on his face were shallow laugh lines around his half-open eyes. He looked at her but didn’t appear to see her because now, he was the one dying.

“No, no, no.” She smacked his cheek. “Oh, my God.” She grabbed for his discarded cell phone, already primed to call 911. She dialed and screamed about a mugging, a stabbing, send help to King Street now.

The man didn’t move beneath her, lips parted for his final breaths.

“Please, come back.”

The dog growled and pulled at its chain.

Olivia rolled up the sleeve of her leather jacket and bit into her own pale flesh, warm with the overabundance of the poor man’s blood. She held her wrist over his lips and let blood tumble drop by desperate drop. Her wound healed almost immediately, so she leaned her head against his chest and listened for the heartbeat that strengthened and strengthened.

She sat up and ran her fingers across his cheeks. “That’s it, come on.”

His eyes opened, irises the color of midnight on the harbor. Brow furrowed, he studied her face as the dog, prevented from protecting its master, whined.

“I’m so sorry.” She fled to the beat of an incoming ambulance.


Read the rest of “Claimed” and eighteen other awesomely sensual vampire stories in Blood in the Rain 3. Click HERE and buy your copy today!! And while you’re shopping, you might as well check out the whole series …

Vampire love stories are yours today in Ravenous

You may have noticed I love vampires. Well, I love vampires in love even more. Today, Pen and Kink Publishing releases its newest anthology, just in time for Halloween. Ravenous “explores saucy, sexy, and sweet tales of forbidden vampire/vampire hunter love, vampire threesomes in space, kink as only a vampire could enjoy it, and so much more.”

My noir horror-romance story, “Forever Dead,” fits into the forbidden vampire/vampire hunter love category: When ancient vampire Dario almost murders Detective Zach Mede for the fun of it, he is stopped by a sexual connection that threatens to ruin both their reputations. Despite keeping their forbidden tryst secret from the world, a vengeful female vampire finds out and makes Zach a target. Will Dario be in time to save the young mortal he has come to love, and at what price?

Here’s a teaser of “Forever Dead” to whet your spooky appetite:
(Warning: sort of explicit dude on dude content to follow.)


I first saw Zach Mede when he worked SWAT. His team tumbled into this blood club in Miami. Word was vampires were killing humans in the club bathrooms, a serious no-no in the so-called modern world where vamps and walking blood bags were supposed to live in unity. Instead of going along peacefully, a gang of male vampires, myself included, fought back at the injustice of the bust.

As fate would have it, I got matched up in hand to hand with Zach. I was so impressed with his strength and speed, I let the kid beat the shit out of me. He didn’t move like other humans. He moved too fast, and I suspected he’d been trained by one of my own. Oh, yeah, and he smelled good, looked good. Something about that black hair; those angry, dark eyes; and the immensity of his shoulders—I just let him whack away at me until I decided to play dead. I snuck out before they could cuff me and then tailed him home.

I politely let myself into his apartment.

He wasn’t even out of his shoes when I threw my first punch. I lifted him about ten feet off the ground and dropped his dead weight on the kitchen table. I pinned him down and let him know, “I was just playing earlier. Now, I’m gonna kill you.”

He didn’t even yell when I tore at his throat. He barely struggled. Guess he figured when your time’s up, your time’s up. But then his hands were in my hair. He made a pleased “ung” noise. Before I knew what the hell I was doing, my mouth covered his parted lips. I shoved my tongue against his teeth, setting up imaginary flags that said “Mine, mine, mine.”

I distinctly remember the sound of clothes tearing as I sought bare skin. That first time was and always will be a ménage of images, sounds, and smells: Zach’s tan chest, the sound of his voice, and the blood that pooled down the side of his neck.


Wanna read some more? (Oh, God, yes.) Check out the full Ravenous anthology, featuring stories from Wendy Nikel, V. Hummingbird, Tiffany Michelle Brown, and several others. Celebrate Halloween early with some sexy vampire lore.

Also check out my guest post on the Pen and Kink Publishing website. Click HERE to read about the “Forever Dead” atmosphere, soundtrack, and even fantasy movie cast.

Oh, and in case you didn’t hear … Speaking of vampires, my paranormal rom-com Bite Somebody won Best Paranormal Romance Novel in the 2017 Imadjinn Awards. We’re pretty dang pleased around here, let me tell you. I even put my trophy on the fireplace mantle, because I think that’s where trophies are supposed to go? Many thanks to my publisher, World Weaver Press, along with the people who made it all happen: Sarena Ulibarri and Trysh Thompson. Love you ladies! Now, go read “Forever Dead.”

Amazing “Forever Dead” art by Turner B. Davis.

Beware: Love spell gone wrong!

It’s Halloween time, which is the time of year I love the most. ‘Tis the season for witches and werewolves, vampires and ghosts. Every October, I drink too much Pumpkin Spice coffee. I watch horror movies I’ve seen a million times. I decorate my house to look like a crypt. My neighbors probably think I attended Hogwarts, so it seems apropos that today would mark the release of two very witchy tales.

From World Weaver Press, SonofaWitch! presents six stories of spells gone wrong. In my comedic short, “The Trouble with Love Spells,” witch Violet has been crushing on her local Coffee Boy for over a year when she decides to work some magic and make him notice her. Things don’t quite go to plan …


Read a teaser for “The Trouble with Love Spells:”

A year earlier, Violet had never expected to order a tall redeye and meet the man of her dreams, but one look into those big, grey eyes, and she was finished. Maxwell was hipster hot, and he walked like he knew it, in his tight trousers, vests, and multi-colored button downs. He kept clean-shaven, without the traditional hipster stubble, but his hair was long on top, short on the sides, and it often flopped down over his eyes.

“Have we decided if his hair is black or brown yet?”

Zoe sipped her chai tea. “I vote brown. I saw him in the sun once, and it was kind of reddish on the ends.”

Violet gawked at her friend’s good fortune. “You saw him in the sun?”

Zoe lifted dark brows. “Yeah, it’s official: he’s not a vampire.”

“Okay, there’s no one in line, and I need a refill. How do I look?” She ran her palms down the sides of her blonde pixie cut and pressed her lips together.

“Gorgeous. Now, go get that hot piece of ass.”

Violet focused on walking with a little hip shimmy as she made her way up to the counter, where Maxwell leaned on a bar stool and read a faded book by Elmore Leonard. “Hey,” she said. She attempted nonchalance but felt awkward with her hands hanging at her sides. She crossed them under her chest instead and gave her breasts a boost.

He looked up momentarily. “Hey.”

“Could I get a refill? French roast.”

He put the book down and reached across the counter for her cup but not before a blue spark flew from her finger and into the back of his hand. “Ow!”

“Sorry!” It was only the eighth time she’d done that—the wussy witch’s subconscious equivalent of a hand caress. “Must be static electricity.”

He gingerly picked up her mug and filled it. “I’m worried if you have anymore coffee, you’re going to start bouncing around the room.”

She laughed, surprised at her own volume, and tucked her hands behind her back. “Uh, I can hold my caffeine.”

“I know.” He slid the mug across the counter, smiled just a little, and picked up his book.

Violet practically danced across the floor. “I zapped him again, but he talked to me at least,” she whispered to Zoe.

“Well, I would hope so. It’d be weird if he just stood there in silence.” She turned a page just as Violet noticed her chai tea refilling on its own.

Violet put her hand over Zoe’s mug. “Hey. No magic in public.”

“Says the girl who occasionally shoots blue sparks at the guy she likes.”


Already, SonofaWitch! has been called “a must-read for anyone who loves modern fantasy” and “heartily recommended for all fans of funny romance.” If you liked the Bite Somebody series, this is an anthology for you! Buy your copy today!

Also out today is Elphame Realms Issue #2, featuring my story, “Forget Me Do.” A bit on the serious side, this one features a witch who believes she can heal a broken heart … but what if that heart doesn’t want to be healed? The eBook is currently on sale for .99 but won’t be for long! If you need MORE witches in your life this holiday season (and who doesn’t?), buy your copy of Elphame Realms HERE.

Happy spell casting! Remember to cuddle your black cat, burn your sage, and curse not lest ye be cursed. Blessed be.

“The Trouble with Love Spells” aesthetic.

Sexy new cover reveal for Wolf Among Sheep

My scary-sexy novella, Wolf Among Sheep, was originally published by Hot Ink Press in 2016, but it’s just had an overhaul. The new cover is gasp-worthy, but before I share it, read all about this twisted tale. (It’s not for the faint of heart.)


“What exactly do you deduce we proposed?”
“That I enter into a sexual relationship with a married couple.”

Avery Collins is an ambitious young journalist in early 1900s Charleston, South Carolina, when exotic newcomers Timothy and Vonnie Duke spot him at a fancy gala on the Battery. The Dukes like bringing pretty playthings to their marriage bed, and with a promotion in mind, Avery entertains their advances not knowing lust can quickly turn to love — and love to murder.

Vividly atmospheric and told from three points of view, Wolf Among Sheep proves sexual prowess can get a man far in life in exchange for his soul.


Now, do you wanna see the cover? Thought so. Many thanks to designer Rue Volley for being so dang talented. I swoon every time I take a look …

What people are saying about Wolf Among Sheep

“Sporting sexy characters, erotic manipulations, and sensual settings, Sara Dobie Bauer’s new novella is riveting, delicious, and delightfully decadent.” -Jeff Mann, author of Desire and Devour

“Incendiary, sensual, and wicked, Wolf Among Sheep is a thrilling reminder that the ecstasy of lust can be peppered with dark and sinister desires. With crackling prose and tension aplenty, Dobie Bauer weaves a sumptuous picture of the American South, alight with characters that will lure you into their beds … and then won’t let you go.” -Tiffany Michelle Brown, author of Spin and Give It Back

“Sly and sexy, Wolf Among Sheep captures three beautifully fierce creatures straining against proper Southern society and shows what dangerous passions can happen when their lusts break them free.” – Cassie Alexander, author of the Edie Spence Series


IF YOU LOVE A BIT OF DARK ROMANCE, BUY WOLF AMONG SHEEP TODAY.
CLICK HERE!!!!!


 

I left my liver in South Carolina

A three-day there-and-back trip involving airports and road trips is not my idea of a good time. However, I was promised two things: Charleston, South Carolina, and time with my little brother.

Jake, a group of our friends, and I left Ohio Friday afternoon to head south via Cleveland airport, flying into Myrtle and then, driving to Charleston. By the time we finally arrived at our hostel Friday night, I was in desperate need of beer.

We went out that evening, did a quick tour of downtown—which had changed markedly since my time living there nine years ago—and headed back to the hostel for some sleep. Everything felt crowded thanks to the Charleston Pride Festival, an event taking place in conjunction with our trip.

The thing about hostels: you share the area, which meant six of us friends had to share the room with two strangers, one of whom snored like a grizzly bear. I acquired approximately three hours of sleep from 2 to 8 AM, which was when I finally admitted defeat and took a shower.

No wonder horror movies take place in hostels.

(I did, incidentally, chat with Grizzly Bear Saturday morning. I jokingly asked him if he slept well. He didn’t get the joke.)

Pretty quickly, I realized Saturday was going to be a good day, though. Jake and I ditched our still-sleeping chums and headed to Sunrise Bistro for the best breakfast bagel in history, followed by The Bearded Café for cold brew coffee, where we were charmed by the cheerful owner.

With “the kids” awake (Jake and I call our friends “the kids” because they’re all about ten years younger than us), we headed to Folly Beach in our rented minivan. We stopped on the way for Firefly—sweet tea vodka, a Charleston staple. Cocktails in hand, we attacked the beach … or maybe the beach attacked us. The height of the waves was alarming, but we dove in headfirst. I only lost my top twice.

My bro and his wife arrived, and off we went to Taco Boy for margaritas and Mexican snacks. Something I love about Charleston is the endless beach vibe. The music, the clothes, the décor: everything screams, “You are on vacation,” even if you live there.

By the time I returned to my friends on the beach, I had a stomach full of tequila and quickly realized that, despite this, I was one of the most sober of the group because my gang hit up a bar and did shots in my absence.

Back at the hostel, we met a dozen other party animals, including travelers from France, England, and India (by way of New Jersey). As a massive group, we Ubered our way to the Recovery Room, where shenanigans included foosball, dancing to 90s rap, and having drinks spilled all over us by drunken strangers.

Following the purchase of thirteen-dollar burritos—worth it—we went to bed around 3 AM and got up at 8:30. Overall, I slept a total of about nine hours over the course of two nights. Again: worth it.

Sunday was spent reminiscing as we walked the Battery and Rainbow Row, stared over the edge of the Pavilion Hotel rooftop, and ate pralines before rushing to make our flight and, yes, almost missing it.

Whether it was the bit of confusion in regards to my guy friends (“Y’all must be here for that gay pride parade”), fear of the minivan back seat, or the realization that we were in “the path of totality” all weekend, I laughed for two days straight.

Did I feel worse Monday than Sunday? Of course, which means I must have still been drunk all day Sunday and the hangover just kicked in Monday morning. Am I a little old to be doing shots and dancing until 2 AM? Nah. That’s like saying I’m too old to laugh, and the laughter, the inside jokes, the awkward TMI conversations … those memories are evidence of a fabulous trip.

Good friends are great, but friends who can make you laugh until you might vomit are priceless.

You gotta see IT on the big screen

When a child’s arm gets bitten off early in a movie, you need to be prepared. Granted, in horror films, the opening sequence can be the most terrifying (see Jaws). In the case of the modern IT revamp, nope, things just get progressively worse.

We all know the Stephen King story: a bunch of loser kids in the 80s are terrorized by a weird clown. Something is wrong with the sewers, and their lives are haunted forever.

Although the original miniseries was pretty dang good, the movie surpasses it in fear factor. This is probably due to the cutting edge special effects. It’s also due, largely, to the style. The creators of this film utilized slow build suspense that escalated and escalated. (There’s a particular scene in a library basement that had me crying inside.) The technique of slow build was what made each and every moment so horrific and unforgettable.

Of course, I have to talk about Pennywise. I watched Bill Skarsgard in Hemlock Grove and despite some pretty despicable behaviors on that show, I still fell for the guy. He’s hot, okay? But here’s how things went while watching IT …

Prior to IT: Oh, hey, Bill. Mm, yeah, can’t wait to see you on big screen, baby.

At the beginning of IT: You’re pretty scary, but I can still see that sexy mouth.

Halfway through IT: Oh, but, Bill, you … uh … no! Bill, no, you … But …

Toward the end of IT: BILL, I NEVER WANT TO TALK TO YOU AGAIN, YOU MONSTER!

I am seriously not one to overlook the brilliance of original Pennywise, Tim Curry, but the handsome Mr. Skarsgard has stolen the trophy for most effed-up clown of all time. Apparently the director kept Bill away from the kids during filming so they wouldn’t get friendly. The kids didn’t even see Bill as Pennywise until they were all in a scene together, so their terror is real.

Speaking of great acting, the little kids were perfect, including one troublemaker from Stranger Things. The writer gave each character interesting back stories, although evidently parents are all totally evil. Young actress Sophia Lillis really stole the show as the only female lead. Comedy was interspersed throughout, but even the moments of levity couldn’t compare to the bone-shaking horror.

IT is a film that should be viewed on the big screen, even if you do have to hide behind your hands half the time. It’s as beautiful as it is gross. Sitting next to my husband, trying not to choke on my Sour Patch Kids, I was frankly too scared to scream. I just sat there, clawing his forearm for two and a half hours.

How did IT end? Ha, I’m not going to tell you that. We’ve all been making fun of the miniseries ending for decades, but I will say this: I’m happy with the conclusion. I mean, I didn’t sleep at all the night after we saw the movie and I won’t go in my basement anymore, but, you know, totally worth it.

Got witches? Enchanted: Magic Spark Cover Reveal and Giveaway

It may come as no surprise to you that I love witches. I’m a Halloween fanatic who adores Harry Potter and actually owns a magic wand. When Pen and Kink Publishing editor Cori Vidae asked if I wanted to be part of a series about witches, I was like, YES.

The Enchanted series is three parts:
Magic Spark
Magic Ember
Magic Flame

The first part, Magic Spark, comes out January 9, 2018.
(Enter the giveaway for a free copy on Goodreads HERE.)

My story is called “Destiny’s Dark Light,” separated into three segments. Read all about its witchy wonder …

In modern day Charleston, lonely white witch Cyan Burroughs has waited her whole life to lead the battle against dark witches and eventually meet the man she is fated to love. A tragic trolley accident brings Liam Cody into her life. He is her destiny, but he’s also in love with someone else. Now, Cyan and her magic family must find the dark witch who caused the accident while Cyan fights her feelings for Liam—a charming Irishman with secrets of his own.

So have I teased you enough? Urg, okay. Here’s the cover for Enchanted: Magic Spark!

I’m lucky to be joined in the Enchanted series by Wendy Sparrow and Em Shotwell, two women whose work I greatly admire (and whose Magic Spark stories are fantastic).

It’s too soon for me to give you an excerpt from “Destiny’s Dark Light,” but I will say it’s funny, sexy, and angsty. It features a witchy girl with blonde dreadlocks and a sweet boy with an Irish accent. In Charleston. It doesn’t get more magical than that.

For now, be sure to add Enchanted: Magic Spark to your Goodreads list by clicking HERE.  (You can read about Wendy and Em’s stories, there, as well.) Pre-order links coming in November, but you can enter this giveaway for a free copy. Blessed be!

“Destiny’s Dark Light” aesthetic.

Author Lyssa Dering made me love monsters

I’ve been on a huge paranormal M/M romance kick. For those of you who don’t know, M/M refers to love stories between men. During my newfound reading frenzy, I stumbled upon Lyssa Dering, among many others. (Shout outs to Dessa Lux, KJ Charles, and Jordan Hawk).

Something about Lyssa’s work really stood out to me, though, especially her new release HOW TO LOVE A MONSTER. Her lead character, Fiend, is a monster, okay? He eats brains … and yet, I loved him. I rooted for the monster. Yes, I adored the romantic interest: innocent, beautiful Seraphim. But Fiend! How did she make me love a brain-eating murderer?

I had to pick her brain … Oh, that was a bad joke. Braaaaaaains. Seriously, I had to know more about my newest author crush, Lyssa Dering.

SDB: You’ve written love stories about vampires, demons, and now, brain-eating figments of imagination. What inspired your love for the paranormal? Any literary influences?

I first and foremost have a fascination with vampires. It all started with Amelia Atwater-Rhodes’ books when I was in middle school. I read In the Forests of the NightDemon in My ViewShattered Glass, etc. Most of those stories were also love stories. Plus, Atwater-Rhodes got published as a young teen, and that really inspired me to be a writer.

In high school, I became obsessed with the movie Underworld, which features vampires and werewolves. I think my love of other paranormal elements naturally evolved from there. When I was seventeen, I discovered internet roleplaying on Xanga with the help of my high school best friend, and the first group RP I joined featured characters with superpowers. RPing was a great way for me to escape up until my first year after college, and I explored all kinds of paranormal elements weaved into sex and romance that way.

SDB: Why do you write M/M romance? What’s your fave thing about two dudes in love?

I’ve been drawn to M/M pairings since I first discovered fanfiction. My first fandom was Harry Potter, and though I also shipped some M/F pairings, I was a huge Harry/Draco shipper. I’ve come to the conclusion recently, after trying to understand why I’m not as drawn to F/F pairings, that M/M allows me to escape in ways other pairings don’t.

I’m nonbinary, but I am also AFAB (assigned female at birth), so reading and writing about characters assigned male at birth allows me to escape my female body and all the societal pressures I’m under as a result of it. Of course, M/M can feature trans and nonbinary characters, as well, but though I’ve written a male-bodied genderqueer character, I’m not in a place currently where I want to explore female-to-male trans characters in my work.

SDB: Your newest book, HOW TO LOVE A MONSTER, features a very strange creature. Tell us a bit about Fiend and the idea behind his “world.”

The idea for How to Love a Monster started a few years ago while I was browsing through the Superpower Wiki, trying to get inspired. I came upon the power of Absolute Will and tried to come up with a character from there. So Wish, the creator of Fiend’s world, came first. He has the power to create or destroy anything, but I put limits on his power to make the story more interesting.

The world Wish created is called Wish City because he’s a bit of a narcissist, and it’s a city because he grew up in one, so it’s easiest for him to create what he knows, just like for most writers. As I brainstormed, I came up with Fiend, who is Wish’s childhood monster or bogeyman who slips into Wish City unbeknownst to Wish.

I originally planned an angsty love story between Wish and Fiend, but it didn’t quite work out that way. When I came back to the story after much writing practice and education about structure, I came up with Seraphim and gave Wish a different role.

SDB: Your romantic interest in MONSTER is Seraphim. He lessens the darkness with some comic asides. Do you think comedy (and/or snark) is an important part of literature? Why?

Absolutely, especially in stories of a darker nature with a lot of angst, which is what I tend to write. If the story is all angst/suffering with nothing light in it at all, it can make it not worth it for the reader. Comedy/snark makes the reading experience more pleasant and can keep the reader from discarding your book out of frustration.

SDB: Tips for writing great sex scenes?

Remember that character comes first. Everything in every story should filter through character, and sex scenes are no different. There’s nothing more boring or frustrating to me as a reader than when a sex scene could basically be taken out of one book and plopped into another and still make sense.

Also, at least for me and especially in a romance, sex scenes should strengthen the connection between the main characters (or do something else to that connection depending on the scene’s purpose and each individual story). This means it can’t just be physical but must have an emotional aspect.

SDB: What are you working on right now?

I’m in the planning stages for my next book. I don’t have anything concrete to share yet as I’m busy hunting for that special kind of inspiration that can carry a full-length novel.

SDB: If you had to create a fantasy movie cast for MONSTER, who would you cast as Fiend and Sera?

Anthony Carrigan was my inspiration for Fiend’s appearance. Carrigan plays Victor Zsasz in Gotham. He has spoken publicly about his alopecia, which contributes to his hair loss, and I was fascinated with how villainous he appears in Gotham but how adorable and lovable he looks in photos when he’s just being himself. So I’d definitely cast him as Fiend. For Sera, I’d go with Max Thieriot.

Buy your copy of HOW TO LOVE A MONSTER today by clicking HERE!

About: Lyssa Dering is an author of erotic M/M fiction. Her work is often romantic, always emotional, and features shifters, vampires, and regular old humans in whatever subgenres inspire her. She seeks to share the kind of fiction she loves to read: intense and addictive with engaging characters and situations.

Lyssa is nonbinary and demisexual and often draws upon her time in the BDSM community when writing intimate scenes. She resides in the Midwestern United States with an aggressively affectionate tabby cat. When not writing, she enjoys livetweeting about the books she’s reading and dicking around in Photoshop.

Follow Lyssa via her website or on Twitter.

When your mental health takes a nosedive

Photo by Chris Loomis.

The past month has been a special version of Hell. I seriously injured a rib while helping my neighbor move a heavy chair. I knew the moment it happened that I was in trouble. When you feel something inside you go *pop*, reassess all your life decisions.

The pain spread from my rib to my back to my neck. I no longer slept through the night. I woke up at 2 AM and cussed at my TV for hours. I wandered through my days like an angry zombie … but I didn’t eat human brains. I didn’t eat anything, because OH, HELLO DEPRESSION! I WAS WONDERING WHEN YOU’D SHOW UP AGAIN!

As most of you know, I’ve suffered from depression since I was fourteen. This is nothing new. It reached its climax … valley … I don’t know which metaphor to use … when I lived in Phoenix and took some pills and drank some vodka and, oops, emergency trip home to stay with my parents.

Ohio has been a revelation for my mental health, possibly because I’ve come to realize I actually dislike sunshine and love rain and snow. I also love the small town lifestyle. I signed my first book deal here for the Bite Somebody series, and I have  my family nearby. All these things put depression in the rearview mirror. But now, thanks to some unfortunate life circumstances and a rib injury, it’s back.

What do I do when my mental health takes a nosedive?
1. Hide in my house.
2. Drink gin.
3. Read Sherlock fan fiction.
4. Stop writing.
5. Stop eating.
6. Stop smiling.
7. Reconsider medication.

I haven’t been on antidepressants in over three years, and weaning off of them last time scared the bejeezus out of me. Am I at the point where it’s time to revisit medication? Well, that’s still up for debate, but as my friend put it last week, “At least you can acknowledge when you need help.” Many people with mental illness seem incapable of reaching out for help. They wander through life in a sort of denial haze telling themselves they’ll get better, they’ll get better, when they actually need support.

Photo by Chris Loomis.

Medication isn’t the only answer, of course. There’s therapy and exercise and dietary changes and getting rid of alcohol (a HUGE depressant). There are any number of treatments for mental illness, but so many people don’t even want to admit they have a problem in the first place.

It’s been a long time since I had a “problem,” but that doesn’t mean I’m depression free. Whenever I speak about depression, I make it damn clear that there is no cure. You don’t just get kicked in the head by a horse and feel all better. Depression is a lifelong battle with peaks and valleys (see, I can use metaphors). I’ve been lucky to be on a peak for a long time, but now, I’m visiting the valley … and that’s what this is, a visit. I won’t be building a house here anytime soon.

It has been a month since my unfortunate *popping* incident. Two weeks ago, I wanted to cut for the first time in years. I saw my doctor and promised not to cut myself and spent a week on Effexor before its side effects freaked me out. I went to the gym today for the first time since my injury. I stared at Benedict Cumberbatch giggle gifs on Tumblr and watched the entirety of Yuri On Ice all over again. I’ve been talking again, too, smiling again, and I’m working on eating. Oh, I’m even sleeping again, and nightmares notwithstanding, it’s good. It’s all good.

I’m climbing out of the valley, slowly, but this has been an important and eye-opening reminder that mental illness is indeed the monster under your bed. It waits and it waits, until it grabs you by the ankle one morning and says, “You didn’t think I’d gone, did you?”

We need to take care of ourselves, mental illness or not. We also need to admit when we need help. See doctors. See friends. See God. When your mental health takes a nosedive, know that you are not alone. We all have bad days, weeks, months … Please don’t fight the fight by yourself. When you’re depressed, find the thing that makes you happy and surround yourself with that thing, even if it’s a good book. Even if it’s the sound of rain. Even if it’s ice cream. I’m clawing my way out of the pit. So can you.