Guest Post | The Hunted and the Hind

Guest-Post

Today, we have a guest! Remember a few weeks back when A.L. Lester was here to show us the cover of her upcoming release? Well, it’s been released now, and today she’ll tell us a little more about it and share an excerpt. At the bottom, you’ll find a link to a giveaway.


Hello there! Firstly, thank you so much to Ofelia for having me visit today to talk about The Hunted and the Hind! And secondly, happy New Year to you all. Let’s hope 2021 brings us all thing things we deserve rather than all the things we fear.

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Will GrantThe Hunted and the Hind is the third in my paranormal series set in 1920s London. I didn’t intend to write a trilogy when I started Lost in Time in 2015. I was coming out of a period of quite bad depression where I hadn’t had the mental energy to write anything for a while. I felt very displaced in my own self if that makes sense, and so the idea of writing about someone who was displaced himself was very attractive. And of course as well as Lew being displaced from 2016 to 1919, the other MC, Alec–and all the characters–had been through the Great War and were finding their way in the new world on the other side. At the end of Lost in Time, the pair of them found what was to me a satisfactory resolution in an uncertain world, but there was definitely more of their story that needed telling, so I moved on and wrote Shadows on the Border.

Shadows turned into a story with four MCs, two couples. We needed to know more about what Lew and Alec’s happy ending looked like, but as that was happening, Will, Alec’s Sergeant, was falling for Fenn and Fenn was…probably falling for him back?

FennI didn’t really know enough about Fenn at that point to be sure what was happening in their head and I didn’t want to write a fantasy novel, so poor Will and Fenn were left in limbo for a bit whilst I kicked that around and wrote other things. I think Will is the most grounded of all the characters in the series, possibly with the exception of Detective Constable Sedman, who is a very steady sort of chap (with really bad adenoids, if you happen to listen to Callum Hale’s audio interpretation!). He’s a very wealthy man, which gives him more choices and security than someone with less money would have and I think that’s part of it. Also though, he’s secure in himself and his sexuality, although of course he’s still living in a time when he could go to prison.

When I began writing the book and explored the characters further, it turned out that Fenn was also displaced in their own way. However, having a fully formed not-quite-elf throw themselves bang into the middle of my writing was a bit disconcerting. I got away with it in Shadows because they were a secondary character to a great extent. But now…why were they there? Well…they were chasing the murder-creature. But…why them? Why not someone else? What was their background? It was hard to write because I needed to put enough in to make their character sympathetic, but not so much that the story turned into a fantasy novel. It’s already got more fantastical elements than anything I’ve ever written and I didn’t want to change the tone of the trilogy like that.

A lot of the fantasy bits got cut out, which mean I have a deleted scene for you, here. Fenn, before they leave their own world to search for the Carnas.

Excerpt

The lower caves were lit with the same glowing lim-light as the upper living areas, but much less of it. Instead of a wall or ceiling covered with lim-moss to give enough light to see properly, here it only provided small, patchy stars to guide Fenn downward along the smooth sandy curl of the path underfoot.

As they descended the air became less arid. They scented water. Eventually the path gave one last twist and disgorged them in to the Meeting Chamber. Here the lim-light grew more strongly. The Ternants sat around the edge of the shallow pool. The moss grew under the water, giving the depths a translucent sheen and lighting their faces with an uplit, ghostly glow.

Malach rose to their feet.

“Fenn of the Hunters. The Council of Ternants greets you.” Their voice echoed around the hollow space.

“I am come as summoned, Council.” Fenn responded politely, stifling the impulse to draw Alaress and threaten them. “I seek the return of my sibling.” They bowed their head slightly.

There was a stirring of robes among the eight Council members, like the ruffling of bird feathers in the cold of winter.

“We have a task for you, Hunter.” Malach continued as if they hadn’t spoken.

There was a silence. Fenn was presumably supposed to ask what the task was. They weren’t going to oblige them; they had Fenn’s sibling and they weren’t going to let Keren go until Fenn did what they wanted. No-one in Fenn’s kindred, or even the wider Frem, was particularly happy about it, but taking a hostage against a task to be completed was not a new thing. It was a tradition that went back in to the dark reaches of Frem history and no-one could really balk at the Ternants resurrecting it.

Eventually the bird-feathers ruffled again and a different voice, dry as a raven’s rasp, spoke. Fenn didn’t recognise this one. “We need a Hunter to go through the shimmer and bring back a carnas.”

There was a little silence whilst Fenn digested the enormity of this. And then a different voice again added “and their eggs.”

Fenn drew a breath. This was very bad. Going through the shimmer would be difficult enough. Capturing and controlling a carnas enough to bring it back would be arduous. Finding and bringing back a clutch of eggs safely would be almost impossible. The eggs would be well hidden. And in the Delfland, Fenn would not have the knowledge of the country to help a search. They had always understood that taking eggs through the shimmer would likely render them infertile.

It was probably best to view Keren was already dead, given those conditions.

“To what purpose?” Fenn asked.

“That is not yours to know.” The same voice replied.

“But it is mine to know because you have Keren. What guarantee do I have of Keren’s safety? And when I return? Will you leave us alone?”

“If you return, Fenn the Hunter, your sibling will be returned to you and your family will be left alone. Provided you do not cause trouble for the Council.” The fourth voice came from a small person to the rear of the pool.

“Bring the sibling.” They turned behind them as they spoke and then turned back and gestured at Fenn. “Keren is here. You see they are safe.”

Keren was pushed forward by a stranger to Fenn, into the soft lim-light. Their arms were bound loosely behind them and their feet were bare on the stony floor, but as far as Fenn could see, they were unharmed. Fenn stepped forward, but Malach held out a hand out and Fenn felt kias pressing against their chest. “No further, Fenn. You may speak. But no further.”

“Fenn-se!” Keren’s young voice was raw with fear. “Fenn-se. Are you well?”

“Yes, Keren-ke. I am well. Are you safe?” Their own voice felt sodden with emotion. “Are you being treated kindly?” Keren was barely sixteen. Fenn did not really think the Ternants would treat the child badly. There was no requirement for needless savagery in their behaviour. Their role was simply to decide what was necessary to keep the balance of kias and to carry it out.

“Yes. They tied my arms to bring me here. But otherwise I am fed and warm and they are kind enough,” Keren replied, young voice stiff with control.

“I will return soon for you, Keren-ke. They want me to complete a task for them. And then they will release you.”

“So Lina told me. It is not good, Fenn-se. It is not good at all. Namma will be…,” they cut off as the person standing beside them took hold of their elbow and said something low and savage to them that Fenn couldn’t hear.

“Yes, I know. We will make it right between us. Try not to worry, Keren-ke. Lina will look after you. Fenn looked at Lina seriously, where they stood in the group of council members. “And I will manage. Do not worry, Keren-ke. I will do it. Carnas are not that hard to track. This will all be over before you know it.”

“Enough, now.” Malach said, in a kindly enough tone. “Take the child back now, Lina. And Fenn, you will come here and I will tell you what has happened.”


TheHuntedendtheHide3

Inadvertently tumbling through the border after Fenn and then thrown into the middle of the internecine political disputes of their people, Sergeant Will Grant of the Metropolitan Police has spent three months in prison in the Underhalls of the Frem. When Fenn comes to free him and return him home through the border, he has very little time to work out what’s going on before the sudden appearance of Fenn’s missing younger sibling, Keren, throws Fenn for a loop.

Instead of returning them to London as planned, the trio step through the border to the Egyptian desert. Once they work out where they are, it’s a two week trip back to England with the possibility of pursuit both onboard ship and when they reach home.

Will the journey give Fenn and Will time to resolve the feelings they have been dancing around since the day they met? How will they keep Keren from recapture by the faction who tried to persuade Fenn they were dead? And has Will’s friend Alec forgiven Fenn for lying about their motives when they first traveled to London four months ago?

The Hunted and the Hind is the third and final book in the 1920s ‘Lost in Time’ trilogy. The books need to be read in order.

  • Tag line: The third in the Lost in Time series. Queer British, Lovecraftian romantic suspense set in the 1920s.
  • Genre: MM, gay, non-binary, romance, historical, paranormal, suspense
  • Length: 40,400 words
  • Publisher: JMS Books
  • Release Date: 30 Dec 2020
  • Buy: http://books2read.com/thehuntedandthehind

About A.L. Lester

Writer of queer, paranormal, historical, romantic suspense. Lives in the South West of England with Mr AL, two children, a badly behaved dachshund, a terrifying cat and some hens. Likes gardening but doesn’t really have time or energy. Not musical. Doesn’t much like telly. Non-binary. Chronically disabled. Has tedious fits.

Links:

All my links are gathered here (this is by far the easiest!): https://lnk.bio/gjD5

Or pick and choose:

Webpage: https://allester.co.uk

Email: ally@allester.co.uk

Newsletter: https://www.subscribepage.com/allester

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CogentHippo

FB: https://www.facebook.com/ALLesterAuthor/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/CogentHippo

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/a-l-lester

YouTube: https://bit.ly/3bgvVGl

SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/user-954808628


Giveaway:

To celebrate the release of The Hunted and the Hind, enter the giveaway draw to win previous books in the trilogy… the winner can choose EITHER ebooks of Lost In Time & Shadows On The Border OR a copy of Lost in Time in audio!

https://kingsumo.com/g/alhbky/welcome-to-the-hunted-and-the-hind-release-drop-giveaway

Guest Post | Resolutions for an Arbitrary Holiday by Nell Iris

Guest-Post

Happy New Year, everyone! In this very last post of the year, Nell Iris will tell us about her latest release. Nell and I are office buddies, and I remember back in the summer when she went on a day trip to a stone ship, Ale stenar. We talked about hubby and I going there the year before, and how cool it is to see those stones standing there in the middle of a field. Well, here we are, half a year later, and now there’s a story taking place by a stone ship!


Happy New Year to you all, and my lovely hostess. And thank you for letting me visit you on NYE to talk about my new release, Resolutions for an Arbitrary Holiday. It’s much appreciated.

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”Happy New Year, Petter. Here’s to being truer to ourselves.”

The narrator in Resolutions for an Arbitrary Holiday, Petter, is almost 30 years old and trapped in a job he doesn’t enjoy. Yes, it’s secure and sensible, like his parents like to remind him of, but his heart’s not in it. He craves a change, and after careful consideration, he quits his job to go back to university. He’s going to study history, his real passion.

I was Petter once. I was trapped in a job that stressed me out and killed my soul slowly but surely. I lived in the same small town where I was born, where my parents and my brother lived, and was starting to suspect I’d die there, too.

Just like Petter, I wanted change. So when the opportunity arose, I took it. I uprooted my life and moved from a tiny, sleepy Swedish town to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where I slowly started healing my soul, where I started thinking about what I really wanted to do with my life now that I could choose freely.

And well. There was that old dream I’d nurtured since being a kid. The dream of being a writer. But I could never… I’m not good enough for… Who would wanna… I don’t know how…

Hello, Self-Doubt, my old foe. I never want to talk to you again.

I doubted myself so much I never spoke about it to anyone, not even my husband. But one day, when we were out to dinner, he said, I think you should write a book. You’d be great at it. Casually, just like those twelve little words and the ocean of confidence he had in me didn’t just change my entire life.

Poor Petter doesn’t have that kind of support…at least not until he meets Isak.

Resolutions2

Excerpt:

Are you the kind of person who makes resolutions?”

“Usually not.” I accept the lit sparkler he holds out to me. I’ve loved these things since I was a little kid, even more than fireworks, and up here, in the howling wind with a sky full of stars above my head, in the company of a kind stranger and huge ancient stones, they’re more beautiful than ever.

“But this year is different?”

“Yeah. I’m doing some…significant changes in my life this coming year, so I thought ‘why not?’ It can’t hurt, right? Even if I agree with you about the arbitrariness of this so-called holiday.”

“You do?”

“Sure. It’s not a thing we celebrate because of some natural phenomenon, like the solstice. It’s just to mark that the Earth has done another lap around the sun. I mean, that’s great and all, but why do we need to celebrate it?”

Isak’s face lights up in a wide grin. “Yes! This is what I always say when people complain because I refuse to embrace the spirit of the holiday.”

I return his smile. “Exactly!”

“I’ll drink to that. Finding a like-minded person makes it worth subjecting myself to this awfulness.” He takes another swig, face contorting, and then hands over the bottle to me.

“Are you trying to poison me?” I take the tiniest of drinks, barely enough to wet my mouth.

“Hey! You’re the one who brought it.”

“And I regret it deeply.”

The sparklers have gone out, and Isak lights a couple new ones, handing me one. “So tell me about your resolution.”

“You’ll think it’s stupid.” I avert my gaze, looking out over the ocean. Far away a tiny pinprick of light moves across the water. Who’s out in a boat now?

“I won’t. Promise.”

I follow the little prick of light as it moves away, and it’s easier to talk about it when I’m not looking at him. “I’m going to be more true to who I really am.”

Gently, he replaces the burned-out sparkler in my hand with a new one. “Why would I think that’s stupid?”

“Because people do. I’m almost thirty, I’m supposed to have reached that stage already in my life.”

“People assume a lot of shit, don’t they?”

I take my eyes off the boat and allow myself to be mesmerized by the sparkler, by the tiny stars shooting out of it in every direction, by the crackling sound and its energy. It burns hot and fast, but it gives its all doing it. “Yeah,” I say.

“I’ll drink to your resolution. I’m sure it doesn’t mean much to you because we don’t know each other, but I think you’re doing the right thing. Now drink.”

When the sparkler sputters and dies out, I look at Isak. “It does mean something. Thank you”. I take an even smaller drink, but the taste still contaminates my tongue.

“What is this crap anyway?” Isak asks


Nell RF cover

Two strangers, a twisted ankle, an ancient stone ship, and a New Year’s Eve they’ll never forget

Petter sneaks out of the New Year’s party he didn’t want to go to and treks to an old burial site he’s dying to see. Alone. Without telling anyone on a freezing December night. Without cell service…a huge problem when he twists his ankle.

Someone passes by Isak’s house on the path leading to the stone ship. When the person never returns, Isak worries and sets off to investigate. What he finds is Petter, a pack of sparklers, and an instant connection.

Under a starry sky, they learn they have a lot in common. Will the attraction burn hot and fizzle out like the fireworks going off over their heads when they return to the real world? Or will it deepen, grow, and turn into something real? Something everlasting like the stone ship?

M/M Contemporary / 20849 words

Buy link:

JMS Books: https://www.jms-books.com/nell-iris-c-224_232/resolutions-for-an-arbitrary-holiday-p-3607.html

Nell Iris Bio and social media links:

Nell Iris is a romantic at heart who believes everyone deserves a happy ending. She’s a bonafide bookworm (learned to read long before she started school), wouldn’t dream of going anywhere without something to read (not even the ladies room), loves music (and singing along at the top of her voice but she’s no Celine Dion), and is a real Star Trek nerd (Make it so). She loves words, bullet journals, poetry, wine, coffee-flavored kisses, and fika (a Swedish cultural thing involving coffee and pastry!)

Nell believes passionately in equality for all regardless of race, gender, or sexuality, and wants to make the world a better, less hateful, place.

Nell is a bisexual Swedish woman married to the love of her life, a proud mama of a grown daughter, and is approaching 50 faster than she’d like. She lives in the south of Sweden where she spends her days thinking up stories about people falling in love. After dreaming about being a writer for most of her life, she finally was in a place where she could pursue her dream and released her first book in 2017.

Nell Iris writes gay romance, prefers sweet over angsty, short over long, and quirky characters over alpha males.

Find me on social media:

Webpage/blog: http://www.nelliris.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/nellirisauthor
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nell_iris/
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/nellirisauthor/
Facebook profile: www.facebook.com/nell.iris.12
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/nelliris
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/nell-iris
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.se/nelliris/

Guest Post | The Right Turn by Sam Couste

Guest-Post

Today, Sam Couste is here to talk about The Right Turn, a New Year Eve M/M coming out story. It’s not out yet, and since Sam is a fellow JMS author, I happen to know it’s 20% off in a pre-order sale.


Tis the season for cheesy made-for-tv movies! A hefty dose of saccharine, predictable and poorly scripted, to consume mindlessly on a Sunday afternoon. Of course, these stories tend to be cookie-cutter not only in plot, but in the types of romances represented.

The Right Turn is my twist on a classic trope; waking up in a what-if world. A modern m/m romance set on the cusp of New Years Eve, it brings all the fluffy fun with a dash of heart, and the promise of a happily ever after:

The-Right-Way

Cam’s life isn’t all that exciting. Boring job, failing relationship, and a handful of missed opportunities. He often wonders how his life might have turned out if he’d made different choices. Especially when he runs into Mattie, his childhood best friend who’s grown into the man of Cam’s dreams.

That dream becomes a reality—or an alternate reality, at least—when Cam wakes up one morning in the arms of an adoring Mattie. This version of Mattie and Cam have been together for years, though Cam has no memory of his new life. He’s determined to figure out how he arrived in this new dream life… and how to keep it.

The Right Turn comes out on 30 December. You can pre-order, and read an excerpt, at JMS Books.

About Sam:

Sam Couste write LGBTQIA+ fiction, prose, and poetry. An avid world traveler, they’re currently settled between the pine barrens and the sea. They share their home with a recovering academic and a disgruntled huskamute pup. You can find Sam on Twitter (@samcouste) or at samcouste.com.