Category Archives: Guest Post

Welcome Special Guest, Shira Glassman


I have a treat for you today!  Shira Glassman is the author of The Second Mango, due out this Wednesday the 21st from Prizm Books, the Young Adult imprint of Torquere Press.  I am excited to bring you Shira’s post on developing her characters for her novel.  Take it away, Shira!

Developing the characters and central relationship in The Second Mango, due out from Prizm Books on August 21
by Shira Glassman

Mainstream fantasy and historical fiction is full of the trope of the straight woman dressing in men’s clothing for reasons completely separate from orientation or gender identity. She’s usually aiming for being taken seriously in a traditionally male pursuit, like Tolkien’s Eowyn, Disney’s Mulan, or even the one closest to my character ethnically, Singer’s Yentl. But she’s always straight, because mainstream fiction, until recently, has always been mainly straight, especially when we’re talking about the good guys and the main characters.

So often in their stories, the straight-but-crossdressing woman winds up with a woman in love with her male identity, but the inherent lesbianism of this is never addressed openly. “She found a way to deflower the bride [Hadass],” says Singer. Marzelline in Beethoven’s Fidelio wants to marry Leonore. As a bisexual child, I was fascinated. But neither Hadass nor Marzelline are ever written as lesbians. They are always supposed to be straight women who were taken in by the male clothing. I was tired of being erased by this homophobic silencing. I wanted to see what would happen if one of these straight-but-crossdressing women came face to face with a real lesbian.

Hence the creation of Rivka, my crossdressing warrior woman, and Queen Shulamit, who hires her for protection.

And then, for kicks, I decided the lesbian would be very feminine (not to mention nerdy) because it amuses me when people hear the “gay woman, straight woman, and dragon” tag line and assume the gay woman is the one with the armor, biceps, and sword.

As far as the plot–well, once you’ve established that your two main characters are a lesbian and another woman who isn’t going to be a romantic partner, if you want to write romance, you have to go in search of other lesbians! And so they did. Of course, when you’ve got a warrior and a dragon with you, you’ve also got to have way more exciting adventures than just a Quest for the Royal Girlfriend, and luckily, those adventures came pretty easily and took over the story.

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Check out Shira’s book, The Second Mango, available Wednesday August 21st from Prizm Books.


Elves and Coffee with Anna Zabo – plus a giveaway!



Crossposted from

I’m thrilled to welcome to the site, Anna Zabo! Anna’s Loose Id novel, m/m paranormal Close Quarter, was published last week. Not only is she offering one lucky commenter/emailer a free copy of Close Quarter she’s blogging about a couple of things very close to my heart…


Two things have a tendency to show up in my fiction: Coffee and elves. Well, not necessarily elves, but beings along those lines—beautiful, immortal, and magical beings. My debut m/m paranormal romance Close Quarter features a fae and quite a bit of coffee. I could wax on about coffee, but that’s not as much fun as fae.

I like exploring the edges of ageless living—and the pitfalls, because it can’t be all fun and games, and even powerful beings have their limitations.

Silas quint is a forest fae. He’s also a vampire hunter and he’s been sent to destroy a flock of vampires on a transatlantic cruise. And now he’s stuck in the middle of the ocean, away from his element. He’s not happy with the situation.

Then, a rather brash American named Rhys upends a tray of drinks all over him. He’d be downright cranky if Rhys weren’t so very interesting and quite beautiful… for a human.

Rhys sees right through Silas’s fae glamour. Which is a bit of an issue, since Rhys also notices that no one else sees the things Silas does. Like feel him up at one of the ship’s bars. Silas might not be able to tap into his elemental energy, but his libido works just fine.

In this excerpt Silas has invited Rhys to dinner to tell him what he really is, since he can’t hide the odd happenings. Rhys doesn’t take the news so well, at first.


Rhys cleared his throat. “Silas? What are you doing to me?”

Silas answered with the truth. “Nothing.”

“Then what are you doing to everyone else?”

He couldn’t help but smile at that. “Merely showing them what they wish to see.”

Rhys laughed. “What are you, then? Some sort of magician?”

“No, not a magician.” He picked up his glass and drained the last of his scotch. Set it back down. “I’m one of the fae.”

Once more, Rhys went taut with shock. “Fae. You mean like a fairy?”

“Well, I don’t have wings. Nor do I fly about trailing pixie dust.” Silas stroked his thumb over the top of Rhys’s hand. “And I am a bit longer than five inches.”

Color drained from Rhys’s cheeks. “You’re serious.”


Rhys opened his mouth to speak again, disbelief clearly etched on his face. Fortunately the food arrived, providing Silas with a respite from questions.

He did have to give up Rhys’s hand to eat. Pity, that. He missed the touch of Rhys’s skin. Best to leave him be, for a time. He knew from having watched the man this past hour or so that Rhys needed to work things through in his mind.

Dinner conversation was nonexistent until Rhys spoke again. “Um, I’m not your servant for the next seven years, am I?” There was a clip to Rhys’s voice that was hard to interpret. Sarcasm, perhaps.

“Thomas the Rhymer. You know your classic tales.” Impressive, though Silas suppressed a shudder. Seven years bound to another’s will? He would not wish that on anyone. He had lived that, for far more years than seven.

Silas toyed with one of the shrimp on his plate. Rhys had gained back the color in his face, and splotches of red marred his neck. “No. I cannot bend your will to me. There is no Elfland beyond a river of blood to which I can take you. I am as much of this world as you.”

“I suppose that’s good. I’m not sure I’m ready to believe in magical worlds beyond this one.” He looked up at Silas. “What do you really look like?”

There was that clip again. Silas set his fork down. “You see me as I truly am. You ask why no one else reacts to me. To everyone else, I am not quite as arresting.”

He seemed to mull that over for a time. “So whatever you’re doing doesn’t work on me.”

“It doesn’t seem to, no.”

“Why not?”

Silas studied him. Oh, there was skepticism there. Perhaps anger as well. And why not? But the creeping awareness of truth lurked deep inside the man. “That’s what I’m trying to find out.”

HE HAS TO be lying. Rhys repeated that over and over in his head. Silas had to be lying, because the truth was impossible. Fae? Did Silas think him an idiot? Play with the ignorant rich boy’s mind for some kink? This had gone too far.

He latched on to the anger. Fae? No way in hell. “That’s a convenient dodge.”

Silas shrugged. “It’s the truth.”

What an asshole. “You don’t know what makes me so superspecial as to see through your illusions?”

“Glamour,” Silas said. A touch of annoyance crept into his voice. “And I have an idea but no proof.”

“You’re so full of shit.”

Finally the anger Rhys had witnessed that afternoon spread over Silas’s expression. “Am I?” It was every ounce a challenge.

“Yes.” Rhys pushed back his chair. Kissing a guy was one thing; people could ignore that. He took a deep breath and then shouted as loudly as he could. “Hey! Everyone! This guy says he’s a fucking fairy!”

The conversations in the room didn’t even dip. No one turned. Dishes clinked; servers moved. It was as if nothing had happened at all.

Oh hell. Rhys felt his whole body grow warm. He looked down at Silas.

“Are you through?”

Rhys sank to his chair. “Holy shit.”

A quirk of a dark smile formed in the lips of the man—the fae—on the other side of the table.

“That can’t be real. You can’t be…” Oh fuck. Silas’s looks, his passion and strength, that no one else on this entire ship wanted to jump the man—as crazy as it sounded, the explanation fit. Except maybe—

“I’m not being punked, am I?”

Lines of consternation appeared on Silas’s forehead. “I don’t even know what that means.”

Oh. “Tricked. Pranked.”

“No.” Silas rose and towered over the table. “Do you require more proof?”

He was afraid to say yes. Afraid to say no as well. “What are you going to do?”

“I haven’t decided.” He rounded the table and looked down at Rhys. “Truth is, I could lay you out on the table, strip you naked, and fuck you senseless, and no one would bat an eye. In the end, our waitress would simply come over and offer us dessert.”

Rhys’s mouth went dry. His whole body felt like fire. “You’re not going to…” Silas knelt.

“No.” Silas grasped the leg of Rhys’s chair and pulled it sideways. “The china’s too nice to simply push to the floor. I have another idea.” He reached for Rhys’s belt and unbuckled it.

His objective became blindingly obvious.

“Silas!” Rhys hissed his name. “You can’t!”

“I can. I will.” Silas looked up. “Unless you tell me to stop.”

Scroll on for more info, and a chance to WIN a copy of Close Quarter

Blurb: On a transatlantic cruise to New York, sculptor Rhys Matherton struggles to piece his life back together after losing his mother, inheriting a fortune, and finding out his father isn’t his father after all. He spills a tray of drinks on a handsome stranger, then he finds himself up against a wall getting the best hand-job he’s ever had. And for the first time in his life, he feels whole.

Rhys enjoys the company of Silas Quint, but for the eerie way no one pays attention to them even while they kiss in a crowded bar. Silas explains he’s a forest fae able to glamor the room around them—and more importantly, that he’s on the cruise to hunt vampires. Rhys thinks Silas is full of it, until he discovers vampires are real, and he’s part of the main course.

Silas Quint can’t be distracted by a human lover, even one as lovely as Rhys. Stuck in the middle of the ocean, he has barely enough of energy to hunt the vampires he’s been sent to destroy. Rhys is full of the one thing Silas needs needs most—the element of living plants. Only sucking energy from Rhys would make Silas as soulless as the creatures he hunts. How can he keep Rhys safe, without becoming like the very monsters he hunts?

Buy it now :)

If you would like to win a copy of Close Quarter, please leave your email in the comments, spelling it out to e.g. would be katy2222 at gmail dot com.

Alternatively, email me at, with “Anna Contest” in the title line and you will be entered. No emails will be retained for any other purpose, and the winner will be chosen by random selection software and announced on by 1st December.

All commenters and entries to contests over the next month will also be entered in a draw to win a copy of my new m/m paranormal, Simon, Sex, and the Solstice Stone and a $15 Loose Id voucher.

Thank you :)

Bio: Anna Zabo writes erotic paranormal romance and fantasy. She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which isn’t nearly as boring as most people think. A lover of all things fae, she finds the wonderful and the magical amid the steel and iron of her city.

You can find her online at, on Facebook, and on twitter as @amergina, where you will also find her other not-so-secret identity.

Amores Interruptus; or how to accidentally write a lesbian romance


Amores Interruptus

Ah, romance: An appraising look, definite attraction, hearts beating faster when they touch….and then suddenly in love. Hmm, that sounds a bit…interruptus, no? Where are the lingering feelings, the many touches, that delightful stage between just-met and in-love where the couple can’t stop thinking of each other and find themselves smiling for no reason? I didn’t have the answer.

All of my m/f romance sub-plots seemed shoved to the side, hidden behind all the action and politics and general stabbiness in my stories. I write fantasy, science fiction, and horror. I didn’t have time for romance. There were creatures to fight, morals to be greyed out, limits to stretch. Who had time for kissing scenes?

And then, well, I sort of tripped and wrote a lesbian romance. M/F romances are fine, nothing wrong with them. I quite enjoy them when I encounter them in spec fic. But I felt like I had done them, lived them. I wanted to explore something new, and my new ladies in love practically jumped out of my head and demanded to be heard.

I knew Katya and Starbride, the protagonists of The Pyramid Waltz, would be lovers from the very first time I conceived of them. I just had to get them there. When I started writing their fantasy novel full of action and stabby politics, I fully expected to gloss over their relationship. Maybe I would write them as a couple from the beginning of the story, past the nervous-belly stage and into the mature, love-before-bed stage.

But then I found I didn’t want to fast-forward them. I wanted to linger over every glance, every thought, every touch. I wanted to explore what was, for me, the unexplored. I wanted to write a fully-realized romance that shares main-plot duty with all the stabbing. I had two women in love, and I couldn’t just get over that love. I wanted to savor it as much as they did.

Does that sound dirty? Good.

Writing this book has made me rethink romantic interludes as a whole. I enjoy writing about relationships, romantic or otherwise, and people enjoy reading about them. From this point on, I think my m/f romances will be more fully developed, more like Katya’s and Starbride’s, or like an m/m subplot I once wrote in a science fiction piece. Hmm, maybe I’ll dig that out of the drawer instead.

Whatever gets everyone’s motor running. ^_^

The Pyramid Waltz
To most, Princess Katya Nar Umbriel is a rogue and a layabout; she parties, she hunts and she breaks women’s hearts. But when the festival lights go down and the palace slumbers, Katya chases traitors to the crown and protects the kingdom’s greatest secret: the royal Umbriels are part Fiend. When Katya thwarts an attempt to expose the king’s monstrous side, she uncovers a plot to let the Fiends out to play.

Starbride has no interest in being a courtier. Ignoring her mother’s order to snare an influential spouse, she comes to court only to study law. But a flirtatious rake of a princess proves hard to resist, and Starbride is pulled into a world of secrets that leaves little room for honesty or love, a world neither woman may survive.

The Pyramid Waltz is available in print or e-book form from Bold Strokes Books.

Bio: Barbara Ann Wright fantasy and science fiction novels and short stories when not adding to her enormous book collection or ranting on her blog Her short fiction has appeared twice in Crossed Genres Magazine and once made Tangent Online’s recommended reading list. She is a member of Broad Universe and the Outer Alliance and helped create Writer’s Ink in Houston. The Pyramid Waltz is her first novel.

By Any Other Name: What Do You Call a Love Story for Two Women?


This is Violetta Vane introducing my good friend Ruth Diaz. She’s got some fascinating things to say about writing lesbian relationships in romance. 

Like Ruth, I also come from a background that’s more science fiction and fantasy than romance. I miss reading women-centered stories, so I take frequent breaks from m/m and go back to non-romance, or mmf or m/f erotic romance. I also write secondary women characters, including lesbians, in my m/m romance… but I haven’t really read much lesbian romance. I’m happy to report that The Superheroes Union: Dynama was an awesome place to start. It’s got a tight, exciting plot and wonderfully three-dimensional characters I really cared about. Here’s Ruth to talk about it some more.

The Superheroes Union: Dynama is the best story I never expected to write.

Romance is very new to me–I grew up on science fiction and fantasy, and the couple of times a friend loaned me a romance she thought I’d like, the writing was dreadful. So I just assumed all romances were dreadful. It’s only in the last two or three years that I discovered well-written romances, and that yes, I can write romances that really interest me.

When I decided I was going to try my hand at writing romance, I decided to start with a framework I was already comfortable with: space opera. I think I was four or five chapters into my space opera romance when I read the words “superhero romance” together somewhere. They seemed so at odds with each other, I couldn’t imagine how on earth you would write that.

And then my character Annmarie spoke up out of nowhere and gave me the critical line for a superhero love story.

I always intended to write non-mainstream relationships in my romances. But I also began writing romance in an effort to make some amount of money from my writing, however small, and from what I could tell, romances about two women weren’t terribly commercial. From that point of view, I should have back-burnered it. But TJ and Annmarie’s love story wanted to be told, even though it was nothing I could have expected to write.

Now, in the midst of promoting its release, I find I’m in the same position again, only this time, with regards to marketing. Since I never expected to be writing this story, I had no background in how to label it. A romance between two men would be labeled M/M. A romance involving three people might be MFM, MMF, MFF, or any other variety of lettered labels which seemed less about people than they were about body parts. But I was learning romance marketing from scratch, so I obligingly labeled my story F/F.

Come to find out, F/F isn’t romance written for queer women. The helpful write up on the blog I was approaching for review said F/F is targeted at straight women and bi-curious women. I imagine it would be even more likely aimed at men, except that men are less likely to read romance in the first place. The Superheroes Union: Dynama should be properly labeled “lesbian romance.” Of course, I had already sent out a couple dozen requests with the label F/F. Oops.

Well, sometimes we learn the hard way.

In the end, I don’t really look at my unexpected story as any of those labels. I look at it and I see a love story. It happens to be a love story between two people, as opposed to three or four or more. It happens to be a love story between two people who are female-bodied and femme-identified. It happens to be a love story between two women who are queer and comfortable with that, whose parents cared far more about their daughters’ superhero status then their sexual orientations.

The Superheroes Union: Dynama is not an “issue” piece. It’s just a love story, by any other name.

DynamaWhat if your evil ex really was evil?

TJ Gutierrez used to be a superhero. But after the birth of her twins seven years ago, she hung up the yellow spandex. Until the day her archenemy and ex-husband, Singularity, breaks out of prison. When it becomes clear he’s after the kids, she’s forced to call the nanny helpline—and once again become…Dynama!

Annmarie Smith doesn’t have a superpower. She saves the world by keeping kids safe while their parents fight evil. She temporarily moves in with TJ, and the way the magnetic mama puts family first captures Annmarie’s respect, and maybe her heart—even though she knows better than to fall for a superhero. Still, it’s hard to resist their wicked chemistry. Kapow!

But they can only hide from the world for so long. When Singularity’s quest for custody puts the kids’ lives in danger, can the two women conquer the evil villain and save TJ’s family—all before their first date?

The Superheroes Union: Dynama is available from Carina Press. You can read an excerpt here, and enter a giveaway here.

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Ruth Diaz writes genre romances about non-mainstream relationships. She hides a number of publications in a different genre under another name, but The Superheroes Union: Dynama is her first romance publication. For more information, you can subscribe to her blog, like her on Facebook, or follow @RuthDiazWrites on Twitter (where she is most active and, well, opinionated).