Uncategorized

Tumblr has made a frightening mistake

Ironically, I was going to wake up and write erotica this morning. Instead, I have to deal with Tumblr banning all adult content, and my heart hurts.

According to The Verve, “Tumblr will permanently ban adult content from its platform on December 17th in a move that will eradicate porn-related communities on the platform and fundamentally alter how the service is used. The ban includes explicit sexual content and nudity with a few exceptions.” Such content includes “female-presenting nipples and any media involving sex acts, including illustrations.”

This is all due to an Apple freak out. Somebody on Tumblr somewhere posted child pornography, so Apple removed the Tumblr app from its app store, creating this knee-jerk ban from Tumblr. I don’t condone child pornography, but people are people—good and bad—and post things—good and bad. The result is the rest of us (a massive, loving community of geeks, fans, and artists) being emotionally torn apart.

For me, it is emotional, but it’s a lot more than that. It’s downright scary.

I adore Tumblr. Ever since discovering the BBC Sherlock fandom, I’ve embraced Tumblr as a warm, safe space to drool over Benedict Cumberbatch and wallow in the Johnlock theories. Since then, I’ve moved on to join the hordes of Call Me By Your Name fans who giggle over every Timothee Chalamet / Armie Hammer hug.

As of yesterday, GIFs featuring Call Me By Your Name have been flagged as “adult content,” possibly due to the amount of skin or possibly due to the LGBTQ distinction. See, that’s the problem with Tumblr’s new method of “flagging” posts: it’s not an exact science, so if there’s too much flesh or something Puritanical Christian America deems “other,” it’s going to get flagged as explicit—and boom. Posts gets flagged; accounts get deleted.

A crucifixion painting of Jesus got flagged yesterday because of the nudity. So did the Venus de Milo, most likely because Venus is a female with (gasp) nipples.

Of course, Tumblr wants its followers to know everything is going to be all right because, “There are no shortage of sites on the internet that feature adult content.” Well, no shit, but do they really want a bunch of sexually curious eighteen-year-olds on Pornhub?

Tumblr is/was a safe space for young people to find sexual content that was not explicit in any way but beautiful. As I mentioned, Call Me By Your Name GIFs are being flagged. Want an example of one?

This moment of utter tenderness and fluff between Elio and Oliver is apparently not safe for consumption because heaven forbid we see two men naked and in love—mind you without their dicks flapping around.

For one Tumblr user, “I learned to embrace my sexuality through Tumblr. It is a place of much joy to me, not simply as a place to research, but a place to be creative, to discuss fandom, to build fandoms, and to make connections with people… in short—everything I have come to love and everything I will be sad to lose.”

Instead of a joyful, creative environment, Tumblr wants us to go to some porn site and watch an actress pretending to enjoy herself while being railed by some big, sweaty dude.

Tumblr is trying to cover its own ass by changing its image and, in turn, it is killing itself. We users are scrambling to find a place where it’s safe for us to be ourselves without fear of censorship or judgment—but we don’t know where to go because Tumblr has for years been a safe space where fans can get together and intelligently (and sometimes ridiculously) discuss not only our sexualities but also the perfection of Cumberbatch’s Sherlock hair and Chalamet’s jawline. There are literal hashtags like #hairporn as we jokingly embrace such innocent, escapist addictions when the real world—with its war and idiot politicians—becomes too much to handle. Now, using the word “porn” will probably get me deleted.

Once again, we’re back to “violence is okay but sex is not.” How dare we depict people in love? How dare we present a female nipple? How dare artists draw pictures of Sherlock and John in a heated embrace? None of that for kids, damn it! But violent video games in which we shoot exotic dancers is a-okay?

Ever since reading Fahrenheit 451 in eighth grade, I’ve feared censorship. I’ve watched it happen, little by little, via news stories about people wanting to burn books and laws that would allow florists to turn down a wedding on the basis of straight or gay. Yet, there was always Tumblr: this warm, happy place where I could squee over beautiful people, happy people, and make friends with geeks like me—friends I am now afraid to lose because of the mass Tumblr exodus.

Tumblr is where I’ve found most of my fan fiction readers. It’s where I market my novels (the covers of which, thankfully, only feature male nipples). It’s where I have given and received support from people who understand me—and now, it’s being butchered because the site itself went into Apple-induced panic mode (which, by the way, makes me rethink the terrifying cultural monopoly that is Apple).

I don’t want Tumblr to die, but the platform isn’t giving us much of a choice. I won’t be deleting my profile because I hope they see the error of their ways and reassess. I won’t delete my profile because Tumblr is where I go when I need to relax—and this bitch needs to relax. That said, Tumblr is turning its back on millions of dedicated users. It is changing, mutating, into something none of us ever asked for or wanted. If this is a sign of the times, please keep a look out. Soon, the firemen might be coming to burn your books. And I plan to burn with them.

Uncategorized

The Emmett File: A Gender/Sexuality Debate?

When I first wrote my short story, “The Emmett File,” I had no idea it was going to cause so many arguments. I just through it was a cute, happy story about love and a charismatic British dude named Emmett. Instead, I sent the staff of one magazine into an uproar as they debated love versus gender versus sexuality. (Needless to say, the story got rejected from said magazine.)

“The Emmett File” is a love story in which a straight male falls in love with a gay male and they actually have a successful short term relationship that alters both their lives. The big debate: Can you love someone (really, really love them) with no regard for their gender or sexuality? Can you love someone just because of who they are?

Let me know what you think, as “The Emmett File” is now featured at Erotic Review Magazine. Here, have a taste, and follow the link at the bottom to read the whole dang thing.


“The Emmett File”
An Excerpt by Sara Dobie Bauer
Featured in Erotic Review Magazine

Emmett’s odd pizza creation was perfect. The IPAs were perfect. When we stepped into the summer air, even the night felt perfect. The sun had set, but tiny twinkle lights illuminated the immortal desert trees that lined the center of Mill Avenue. Kids were out in droves looking for a buzz. I floated on my full belly, my beer, and the presence of the man at my side.

“Nightcap at my place?” he asked.

“Of course.” I smiled.

Emmett’s apartment was exactly like him: charming and odd.

“Go on.” He waved his hand at me as he approached the kitchen. “Go through my things. Figure out all my secrets. Damn writers,” he muttered into the humming glow of his open fridge.

I thought I was bad, but Emmett’s book collection rivaled the Library of Congress. Several were textbooks. I recognized about a half dozen dog-eared Jane Austen novels. There was science fiction, horror, and comedy. No self-help. No surprise.

He didn’t have pictures on the walls. The wallpaper itself was decoration: an atrocious pattern of reds and oranges that mimicked cheap hotel lobby carpet.

He stepped to my side and gestured to the wall. “I didn’t do that. Came like that.”

“Sure, Emmett.” I accepted the beer from his hand. I took a few steps forward and then turned in a circle. “It’s funny. The only thing about you without personality is your apartment.”

“Probably because I’m never here.” He casually rubbed one thumb over his bottom lip.

I turned away to picked up a copy of Fahrenheit 451. “You might love books as much as I do.”

“Think so?”

I tossed Bradbury on a crooked pile. “Maybe.”

I felt his hand on my lower back, which made me stand up straight and face him. I expected a pithy comment; he dealt them like cards. Instead, he leaned in and kissed me, once, on the lips. His lips were surprisingly soft. Then again, I’d never kissed a man before. Maybe other men’s lips were usually soft. He went in for another, and I dipped my head.

“Uh-h …” I muttered.

“What?” He had his hand on my shoulder.

“Emmett, I’m not …”

I watched his eyes close. He pulled his hand off my shoulder. “Fuck, I usually have spot on radar for this. Shit.” He tugged his hand through his hair.

I felt an unfamiliar desperation, a fear of losing this friend I barely knew. Maybe it was the fear of losing a character like Emmett. “Please don’t make this weird. I’ve been here two weeks, and you’re the only person I’ve had a conversation with.”

“Charlie, God, I’m sorry.” He took another step away from me and leaned against the kitchen counter. “You just seem really comfortable around me. We went to dinner together. You kept staring at me.”

“Was I really staring at you? I’m sorry. It’s a cataloguing thing for writing. It’s probably why women think I’m creepy.”

Emmett smiled. Just like that, I knew the storm had passed.

READ THE REST AT EROTIC REVIEW HERE.

Uncategorized

Hungry vampires coming for you December 21st

Oh, I love vampires!!!! Love them!!! Y’all know that, I would assume, if we’ve ever spoken for more than five seconds. I was thrilled to be invited to join Once Upon AnthologiesLongest Night collection, coming December 21. Read all about it, see the AMAZING cover, and check out the Kickstarter campaign below!


The longest night. A vampire’s delight.

The winter solstice, a time of birth and rebirth, life and death, waning light and rising darkness. A time when those who flee the sun and crave the taste of blood find their greatest solace.

But one never knows what the longest night might hold.

Once Upon the Longest Night, a collection of adult paranormal romances, features nine novelettes of lovers and their battles against one of the greatest legends of our time: the vampire. A 15th-century seaman and the love of his life come face to face with a vengeful manjasang. In ancient Rome, a hunted priestess captured by a loyal centurion offers her aid to the enemy. With the help of a handsome Royal courier, a reluctant Romanian princess braves the curse flowing within her noble blood. Danger awaits when a vampire in the far reaches of North Dakota must endure the lethal cold to protect the woman she loves. And in a future New York, a broken general returns home for the Longest Night Ball where he meets a young male witch who might change his life forever.

This anthology combines vampire mythos and affairs of the heart with the sacred symbolism and magic of the winter season.

Sit back and let us tell you a tale. Welcome to the Longest Night.


About my story, “His Last Battle:”

Suffering from PTSD, vampire general Devlin Frost returns home from the war on Lycans and attends the historic Longest Night Ball. Here, royal witch Elijah Crow must choose three immortal suitors to compete for his love and power. When Devlin is shockingly chosen as one of the three, his immediate attraction to the young witch coaxes him into entering the fray, but this battle is for more than Elijah’s love. The broken general might also win back his ruined heart and bruised soul—if he survives the night.


About the Kickstarter:

There are so many ways you can support this anthology, coming December 21. In the Kickstarter campaign, you can become an Ambient Feeder, Member of the Court, or even win a full Sara Dobie Bauer Bundle! Click on the REWARDS button and learn more:

The Once Upon Anthologies imprint was created to offer readers a variety of themed paranormal romances along with mythological and fairytale retellings from mostly New-To-You authors. It’s a way to showcase talent in the fantasy romance genre all while delivering bite-size nighttime tales you can’t put down. “The way we see it, we still love a good fairytale or ghost story, we just like them a little sexier now.” Amen to that!!

Uncategorized

JL Gribble reveals her fantasy movie cast for the Steel Empires series

Book 4 of the Steel Empires urban fantasy series is out TODAY! In a world with vampires, warrior-mages, weredragons, and sarcastic violin players, time travel seems like the obvious next step. To celebrate Steel Time, author JL Gribble is here to share her fantasy movie cast for the main characters in her book.

ABOUT THE BOOK

You’re never too young or too old to experience a paradigm shift.

Toria Connor is 25 when tripping over an artifact in the ruins of Nacostina thrusts her a century into the past, before the city is destroyed during the Last War. Now, she finds herself alone. Adrift in a time where she must hide everything important to her, from her mercenary career to her true magical ability.

Victory is over eight centuries old when she follows her adopted daughter. She has seen empires rise and fall, but never anything like this. She must survive alone in a city inhospitable to vampires, dodging friends and foes from her past alike.

Both of them know the clock is ticking down to the moment when the city is wiped off the map. Now, they’re in a race against time. To find each other. To escape the past. And to save the future.

Currently available from:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Direct from publisher
Carpe Librum (JL’s local indie bookseller)
… or support your own local independent bookstore by requesting a copy today!

ABOUT THE SERIES

It is possible to read Steel Time as a stand-alone book, but don’t miss out on Toria and Victory’s previous adventures!

Book 1: Steel Victory
Book 2: Steel Magic
Book 3: Steel Blood

THE CHARACTERS

Toria Connor

While Toria Connor started this series in college, in this book she’s reached her mid-twenties. She’s settled into her life and career as a mercenary warrior-mage. She’s tough, resourceful, and independent. But her life gets turned upside-down, and suddenly she has to hide everything about herself and pretend to be a normal woman in an old-fashioned world. I cast Lauren Cohan as Toria because of both her physical appearance and how her role as Maggie showed how she can be both fierce and sweet.

Victory

As Toria gets older, she now looks more like a sister than a child to her adopted vampire mother. Victory has made the transition from career mercenary to local politician, but she’s never afraid to return to the sword when her daughter needs help with a job. Returning to the past reminds her of a world that used to be, and how she doesn’t necessarily want to return to the person she used to be. Jaimie Alexander is my Victory, because I fell in love with her presentation as the strong and gorgeous Lady Sif in the first Thor movie.

Liamacorin

The elven assistant curator at the Museum of New Continental History goes by Liam in casual company. He is originally tasked with helping Toria acclimate to life in the “future,” but their relationship gets off to a rocky start before sparks start to fly. This nerdy intellectual is much, much older than a human his apparent age would be, but Toria proves herself more than a match for him. I first saw Luke Mitchell in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and though I didn’t love his character, this photograph of him evokes Liam to a T. Just needs pointier ears.

Jarimis

While Toria is Victory’s adopted human child, Jarimis is Victory’s vampire progeny. Bred and raised to be an assassin, he embraced Victory’s mercenary lifestyle before abandoning it to pursue his true passion of academia. I’ve had Jarimis in my head as a character for at least a decade, but it wasn’t until this book that I started looking at actors to represent him. Luckily, I didn’t have to go far. I’m a huge fan of iZombie, and Rahul Kohli was exactly what I was looking for.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

By day, JL Gribble is a professional medical editor. By night, she does freelance fiction editing in all genres, along with reading, playing video games, and occasionally even writing. She is currently working on the Steel Empires series for Dog Star Books, the science-fiction/adventure imprint of Raw Dog Screaming Press. Previously, she was an editor for the Far Worlds anthology.

Gribble studied English at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. She received her Master’s degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, where her debut novel Steel Victory was her thesis for the program.

She lives in Ellicott City, Maryland, with her husband and three vocal Siamese cats.

Find her online at:
Website
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram
Goodreads

Uncategorized

The Chicken Incident, Ohio, or why raccoons are evil

At 2 AM last night, I woke to the sound of chickens screaming. I’m pretty sure my husband could sleep through an atomic bomb, so of course, he heard nothing. Because I apparently have not seen enough horror movies, I ran outside in my pajamas (no bra) with a flashlight, deserving to be killed by Leatherface.

As I neared our chicken coop, I at first saw nothing out of the ordinary. Then, I got closer. I saw what appeared to be a bloody stump of a chicken leg hanging halfway out the closed door. Yes, the chicken coop was still closed. Yes, half a chicken was sticking out of it. Yes, some fanged monster had tried to drag a large chicken through a tiny hole, and oh, dear God, what is life?

About five seconds later, a pair of glowing eyes crept into my yard. Ah-ha, the culprit: a skinny raccoon. I wasn’t sure how to proceed since wildlife should be scared of humans because we’re awful, but this raccoon just stood there like he wanted to shoot the shit.

How is your night, human?

Oh, fine, Mr. Raccoon. I just sort of wish you wouldn’t do scary stuff like disembowel my chickens at 2 AM.

Noted, human. I shall now depart.

Except he didn’t depart. He stood there staring at me until I made the rash decision to run directly at the raccoon. Well, he didn’t like that, so he left. The chickens continued screaming … Well, one in particular. You guessed it: the one with half a body torn off and hanging from the chicken coop door. Yeah, that guy? He was still alive.

We had now entered Jake territory.

I calmly cleared my throat and went back to the house. By the way, I was barefoot, so not only was I chasing a raccoon barefoot but I was also trying to avoid dog poop in the dark.

I got back to the bedroom and announced, “Jake. Wake up,” in the calmest voice possible, images of silver eyes and bloody stumps just ricocheting around my brain like ping pong balls.

Jake isn’t a good waker-upper. He startled and made a confused noise before I was like, “Dude, the chickens are being murdered.” Whelp, that got his attention.

I don’t know why I joined him outside. The chickens are my husband’s project, and although, yes, I was the earlier hero, they’re his babies. Jake was understandably not pleased at the state of things. I stayed there with him, holding the flashlight, until he tugged the half-eaten still alive chicken out into the open and said something about “sorry, buddy” and … Yeah, I fled inside at that point.

It took forever to fall back to sleep. I’m sore everywhere today and have a dozen times realized I’m staring at walls and not working.

I’m not upset about the chickens, not really. It sucks that we lost four last night to a hungry fanged beast, and I feel bad that my hubby puts so much work into raising these birds—for us—and then, they go and get their dumb asses killed. (Chickens are really dumb; trust me on this.)

Instead of being upset, I’m entertained today because, before I met my husband, I don’t think I’d ever met a chicken outside of a plate and yet, last night I wielded a massive flashlight and chased a monster from my yard. Most days, I write about monsters, but I don’t often stare one down and have an imaginary conversation at 2 AM.

Life is awkward and weird and sometimes horrible, and yeah, we rush around all the time. Days go so fast, and we’re like, “How did I get here?” But, man, sometimes life is just so dang funny with its metaphorical blood and guts hanging out for all to see. It’s a mess. Enjoy the mess. Now, go about your day and try not to hear the sound of screaming chickens.

(If you want to read about The Chicken Incident, Arizona, feel free, but it’s equally as alarming as what you just read. Cheers!)

Uncategorized

Am I a slut?

One of my favorite Sex and the City episodes is “Are We Sluts?” In it, heroine Carrie Bradshaw (and her three crazy friends) come to question their own sexual prowess based on strange bedfellows, a burglary, and an STD. I’m not getting into the details here, because you should really just watch the episode. It’s fabulous. I’m more addressing this question to myself: am I a slut?

Now, I realize that sounds sort of crazy. One, I’m married, so if anything, I’m a monogamous slut—which, in my opinion, is the cornerstone of a strong marriage. I’m more concerned with certain recent developments in my wardrobe. Last night is a good example.

With Jake out of town, I went barhopping with some of his twenty-something coworkers. Before leaving the house, I put on something “comfortable.” For me, “comfortable” was skin-tight Express jeans and a midriff halter-top. While curling my hair and staring at my own thirty-five-year-old reflection, I had the first tiny inkling … Sara, do you dress like a—gulp—slut?

I dress young for my age. I know this. Some days, I wear see-through shirts and six-inch heels to the  freaking grocery store. Ridiculous. Then, last night, I had a ten-minute internal battle with myself before I suddenly, coherently decided I’m not a slut; I’m just happy.

Hear me out. Currently, I’m yoga-obsessed. I don’t eat much meat anymore, and I’ve given up the majority of dairy and gluten. (Do I still drink whiskey and smoke cigarettes? Duh. I’m not a nun.) I recently went to buy the above-mentioned Express jeans, and I chose a size six. The sales boy actually glared at me—a visual “Bitch, please”—before handing me a size two. I can’t freaking believe I now wear a size two.

All my life—no matter my weight—I have felt like an awkward, chubby girl. Don’t roll your eyes; I realize this is all in my head, but my head is a very important part of my body. For months at my yoga studio, for instance, I was nervous to talk to my teachers because I thought I wasn’t worthy. I was the clumsy, thick girl, since for most of my life, that is how I’ve identified in my personal perception.

Now, I’m thirty-five and in the best shape of my life. With the help of exercise, healthy eating, my perfect husband, and maturity, I’m happy and confident in my body—which brings us back to the slut thing.

Do my clothes sometimes cling a little tightly? Do my tits sometimes loom a little large? Do I show my tummy and shake my ass in bars? Well, yeah. Because finally (finally), I’m happy with the way I look and comfortable—chuffed even—with who I am, and I don’t care who sees. My style has changed so much over the years, but I think my clothes are finally me—the me I have always wanted to be.

This isn’t political. I’m not reclaiming the word “slut” and making it into a pride statement. Honestly, this isn’t even about you. This is about me, damn it, comfortable in my skin after thirty-five years of worrying that I look bloated. With thirty-six looming in June, it’s prime time to say I’m not a slut; I’m just me.

Uncategorized

The Unexpected Infatuation: Sexy short story out today!

Obsessed with this gorgeous cover by Rue Volley.

He caught my gaze. “Do you realize how much you watch me?”

I frowned. “Of course I watch you. You’re handling what you call national treasures.”

He blinked his large, dark eyes and continued to work without further comment until he discovered a book he must have considered of particular import, because he shouted with excitement and ran to me. Papers ruffled as he threw a dusty tome on my desk, but instead of recounting its prominence, he leaned so close, I felt his breath on my neck.

He whispered: “You can do more than watch if you like.”


As part of their “Hot Singles” series, Encompass Ink released my erotic short story today! Read all about “The Unexpected Infatuation:”

In Victorian England, middle-aged Thomas Warwick lives a dull, sheltered life with his wife until his uncle dies and leaves him everything—most notably, an astounding library. The young James Reynolds is hired to catalogue the immense collection while on Christmas leave from Cambridge. 

It starts innocently enough with gentle touches and careful smiles. However, it’s not long before James inhabits every waking thought of the conflicted Lord Warwick. Hounded even by lustful dreams, Thomas can’t help but tumble into infatuation. Thankfully, James is only so happy to catch him.


Reviewers have been super sweet to this story!

“Would love to read more about Thomas and James. Romantic and easy to fall for.”

“A quick, sexy read with a bookish ambiance and so much regency goodness. I highly recommend as a pallet cleanser after anything filled with drama.”

“An enjoyable read with sizzle. More James please.”

I hope you have fun with it, too. Buy your copy on Amazon today, and be sure to add it to your Goodreads list!

(Hmm, yes, I’m picturing James Purefoy as Thomas and Timothee Chalamet as the delightful young love interest. Cheers!!)

Uncategorized

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.

Uncategorized

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 …

Uncategorized

Author JL Gribble lists her fave urban fantasy authors

(JL Gribble is one of my girl crushes. We met at a book nerd convention and were basically friends in, um, five seconds. Eventually, we had drinks with Severus Snape. No big deal. Her new urban fantasy novel, Steel Blood, came out Wednesday, so I asked her to tell me about her must-read urban fantasy authors … not counting herself, of course. Oh, and all gif choices are mine because I just had to. Take it away, JL!)

When celebrating the new release of an urban fantasy novel with very nontraditional vampires, the best place to go is the online home of other authors with nontraditional vampires! If Celia, Imogene, and Victory walked into a bar together, I imagine Victory would travel the following emotional journey: shock, amusement, confusion, possibly more shock, and then acceptance of her fate (preferably with beer).

Grab your own beer, blood bag, or other drink of choice and join in the party as we celebrate Victory’s newest adventure in Steel Empires Book 3: Steel Blood. Since I write more on the urban fantasy side of the speculative fiction spectrum, Sara asked me to talk about my top 5 favorite and/or most influential urban fantasy authors.

I first fell in love with Mercedes Lackey when I was introduced to her epic fantasy Valdemar books in middle school. Once I ran out of those, I started in on the rest of her novels and found that she also wrote some crazy adventures in “our” world, too. While I enjoyed the books with elves and Guardians, what really piqued my interest was her retelling of Beauty and the Beast set in early 20th century San Francisco. The Fire Rose introduced me to a world of elemental magic that didn’t exist in a medieval allegory. The rest of her Elemental Masters books showed me that urban fantasy doesn’t need the trappings of an immediately identifiable modern society to be successful.

In the His Dark Materials trilogy, which I also discovered while still in school, Philip Pullman solidified my love for alternate universes. As he dragged his characters through epic adventures, I was more than happy to go along for the ride. To this day, I find myself considering what sort of invisible animal companion a person might have, whether for characters in my own books or a person I know in real life, as a metaphor for characterization and personality. For the record, mine is a blue-point Siamese cat. (His name is Alex.)

I have a ton of respect for the modern Young Adult genre and the barriers it is breaking in the speculative fiction world, but I’m kind of glad that it wasn’t as much of a thing when I was younger. Instead, back in high school, authors like Laurell K. Hamilton were on my go-to list for strong female characters kicking supernatural ass and saving the world. Though I no longer follow the Anita Blake series or this author, I’m glad that part of my early urban fantasy education involved a world that mashed together every paranormal creature (and the kitchen sink), letting me know that I shouldn’t be afraid to do the same.

For a while, it seemed like every urban fantasy series involved a strong female character kicking supernatural ass and saving the world. But as in all things, the mold gets more fractured with every use. These days, I thoroughly enjoy authors such as Carrie Vaughn. Even though her Kitty the Werewolf series still embodies some traditional elements of how urban fantasy “should” be done, it quickly did away with the tortured love triangle and presented characters in committed relationships who supported each other through their adventures. This was a refreshing find in a world that seemed Twilight-mad.

These days, the books that immediately get bumped to the top of the to-be-read pile are those by Ilona Andrews. I especially enjoy the Kate Daniels series, with it’s incredibly unique urban fantasy setting, but even the books marketed as paranormal romance still feature well-crafted world-building and dramatic characters, despite the half-naked men on the covers. In homage to this favorite author, the books in my series all start with the word “Steel,” just as the novels in the Kate Daniels series all start with “Magic.” I may have picked up the first book on a whim because the author shares a first name with my mother, but I was immediately sucked in—pun not intended.

I hope this list has helped you revisit some old friends or learn about potential new favorites! In the meantime, I hope you consider checking out the Steel Empires urban fantasy/alternate history series as I celebrate the release of the third book in the series.

ABOUT STEEL BLOOD:

As her children begin lives of their own, Victory struggles with the loneliness of an empty nest. Just when the city of Limani could not seem smaller, an old friend requests that she come out of retirement for one final mercenary contract—to bodyguard his granddaughter, a princess of the Qin Empire.

For the first time in a century, the Qin and British Empires are reopening diplomatic relations. Alongside the British delegation, Victory and her daywalker Mikelos arrive in the Qin colony city of Jiang Yi Yue. As the Qin weredragons and British werewolves take careful steps toward a lasting peace between their people, a connection between the Qin princess and a British nobleman throw everyone’s plans in disarray.

Meanwhile, a third faction stalks the city under the cover of darkness. This is not a typical romance. It’s a good thing Victory is not a typical vampire.

BUY STEEL BLOOD NOW!!!

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Raw Dog Screaming Press

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

By day, J. L. Gribble is a professional medical editor. By night, she does freelance fiction editing in all genres, along with reading, playing video games, and occasionally even writing. She is currently working on the Steel Empires series for Dog Star Books, the science-fiction/adventure imprint of Raw Dog Screaming Press. Previously, she was an editor for the Far Worlds anthology.

Gribble studied English at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. She received her Master’s degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, where her debut novel Steel Victory was her thesis for the program. She lives in Ellicott City, Maryland, with her husband and three vocal Siamese cats. Check out her website or find her on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.