Friday, November 21, 2014

Guest Post by Z. Allora

You may be aware that the talented Z. Allora is a world traveler, a friend, and a crit partner, but did you also know that she uses her travels and experiences to educate others about what life is like for GLBT individuals in other countries? With her novel, Made in China, we peeked in on a quartet of hot young rocker boys, but we also toured key sites in China, and learned about  the culture and why the protagonists couldn't just hold hands and march down the streets.

In her latest offering, Illusions and Dreams, she presents us with a view of Thailand and Thai people that you may not have even considered. But now, I'll let her explain in her own words.

***
Greetings!!!!! I’m going to tell you a tale of how my sweet but demanding Southern belle helped me shape Illusions & Dreams.

It was a usual Friday morning and I was hanging out with my buddy Eden Winters at Starbucks.

Shit, she re-read the first page of my WIP at least ten times. God, what did I screw up this time? This had to  be the fourth time she’s gone through this first chapter.

She glanced up from Illusions & Dreams. Fuck! Did she hear my thoughts?  She sipped her decaf and asked, “Z. what’s Bangkok like?”

Oh, well okay. That’s easy! I LOVE Bangkok. I’ve been there four or five times. It’s one of my favorite places in the world. “It’s awesome. The people are so friendly. Even when they bargain they laugh and joke. The sites are specular and the architecture… ”

“Is it hot?”

I nodded. “Oh my God, yes! It’s always boiling, even late at night. The air is so thick it’s almost like you can smell the heat. You’re always a sweaty mess, but the air con feels like Heaven.”

She nodded. “Is the food as good in Bangkok as it is at our favorite Thai restaurant?”

“Nah, it’s so much better in Bangkok. The taste is fresher and more flavorful.”

“What do you think your characters would order in Illusions & Dreams?”

Hmmm, I’m blonde, but she’s going somewhere with this…  “Um, Basil chicken?”

She leaned forward to further the interrogation. “Would they smell it as they walked into the ladyboy club?”

“Yes, of course.” The basil and spices would scent the air and make every customer hungry, even if they’d just eaten.

“Make me feel it! Make me smell it!!! Take me to Bangkok. I’ve never been. Most of your readers have never been… bring us there. Make us feel it.”

 OHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! Got it.

That was how Eden Winters taught me the importance of making my readers feel it. I have the keys to a Bangkok experience and I learned to share.

In Illusions & Dreams I take you to a ladyboy club and allow you to watch a show. You’ll visit Ayutthaya where you’ll stroll the grounds of temple ruins and come face to face with the Buddha head in the bodi tree. You get to play with baby tigers at the Tiger Temple and experience the Grand Palace without overheating. You’ll stroll through the infamous Pat Pong and stop at a bar for our characters to have some kinky fun. You’ll shop until the characters drop down at the Weekend Market. You’ll explore parts of Bangkok without ever leaving the comfort of your house.

Apart from making the reader ‘feel it’, I hope Illusions & Dreams gives the reader a better understanding of ladyboys and transgender issues. I want to show there’s not one way to express being transgender, and as always, love isn’t about gender. Love is love.
 
 
Illusions & Dreams Blurb:

Randy Camster failed at being married. His life now centers around work, TV sports, and listening to his friend Jake complain about how Randy’s lack of a sex life will be the downfall of mankind. Not true! Well, not totally. He’s just never understood the fascination with sex until… ladyboy performer Lalana Dulyarat shimmies into his world via an Internet ad for Thailand tourism.

Jake O’Neil’s open pansexuality yields him interesting bedmates, but he’s never chased after the mythical illusion of love. He focuses on others, like his best friend Randy, who needs a Bang-Cock vacation. Finding an adorable little imp named Boon-nam wasn’t on the itinerary. Gay, straight, and undecided, Jake has had ‘em all, but never a virgin aching to take a walk on the kinky side after having her affirmation surgery. Talk about pressure. And what’s with everyone warning him not to break her heart? His is the one in danger.

Buy Links:

 
 

 
Author Bio:

Z. Allora thinks everyone deserves a happy ending, and she makes sure they get one. Her stories are about love and romance and are tied together with erotic sex. She utilizes her time overseas and travels to bring you to places you've yet to visit. She introduces you to cultures you've yet to explore. But with every word she writes she tries to convey love is love.


Facebook: ZAllora Allora

Twitter: @Z.Allora

E-mail: Z.Allora@yahoo.com

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Why I Am a PFLAG Ally


Some of you may know that I’m a member of my local PFLAG (Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), and do what I can to support equality. I currently have a book at Amazon, The Telling, that all proceeds support the local chapter. Recently I’ve had to honor to serve on the council.
I don’t attend to gain support or learn how to talk to my gay family member. I’m there to lend my strength to those who may need it. I’m referred to as an ally.
The other night during a meeting the question arose as to why I’m an ally when I don’t have gay children or close family members, and to be honest, I was a bit shocked and couldn’t think of an answer on short notice that encompasses all my reasons. So here I’ll attempt to put my feelings into words.
I am a mother who loves her kids dearly. I will not disclose their orientation, for that is not my story to tell. However, I fully realize that my kids could be gay, straight, bi, asexual, or any other color of the rainbow. Would that change how I feel about them in any way? No. But my maternal instinct doesn’t extend to my kids only. If a child cries in the store, some people will get annoyed, some will try to tune out, and others will seek the source to ensure the child is okay. Guess which group I’m in?
I’ve comforted other people’s scared kids on airplanes, amused them, even held them to give Mom a break. I've fed other folk's young ones, and made sure they had warm coats. In short, I am a mother. And kids who are facing coming out as gay are mine to worry about too. If my son or daughter identify as GLBT, I want anyone who comes in contact with them to be caring and understanding. I’ll lead by example.
I am blessed with many friends. Some identify as straight, some as gay, and some do not disclose their orientation and know that’s not important to me. They are…my friends. I don’t like labels applied to me, and imagine others don’t either.

I believe in a higher power, equality, caring for your fellow human, and that we’re all interconnected. If one of us falls, the rest should stop and lift up the fallen. Hurt one, hurt all. And most importantly, I believe in love. Love is love.
So if I must give a short answer of why I’m an ally, attend meetings and Pride parades and offer my time and support, it can all be summed up thusly:

It’s the right thing to do, and my heart would allow no less. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

A Stunning Review for Manipulation at Reading Reality

Reviewer Cryselle has bestowed an Escape Rating A on Manipulation at Reading Reality, and had this to say about the story:

"The entire series is good reading, with action, law enforcement, a reluctant romance between two guys who love each other desperately and are terrified of needing each other, and plot twists through the drug trade going in unexpected directions. With this fourth book, the author seems to have found an even higher gear, with death breathing down Bo and Lucky’s necks at all times, and their reliance on each other both the stuff of strength and the stuff of heartbreak.

With this fourth book, the author seems to have found an even higher gear, with death breathing down Bo and Lucky’s necks at all times, and their reliance on each other both the stuff of strength and the stuff of heartbreak."


Read complete review here: 

Joyfully Jay Reviews Manipulation

It never fails. Each and every book publication is followed by days of shaking in my boots, wondering if readers will like the story, or if I've treated series characters right for the fans. 

And then a review comes in like this one, from Joyfully Jay:
Truly, if you are not reading this series, you should be. I absolutely love it and highly recommend Manipulation and the whole Diversion series. 
P.S. While this could maybe possibly stand alone, it is much richer for all the history from the first three books. Plus, they are SO good. Read them all. 

Thanks, Joyfully Jay!


Sunday, November 2, 2014

A Manipulation Excerpt and Giveaway at The Novel Approach

Hey y'all!

The Novel Approach is hosting a drawing for a copy of Manipulation, the latest installment of my Diversion series.

Just leave a comment at their site to get in on the contest, here:

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Manipulation (Diversion 4) is Now Available!

It's been nearly a year since I jotted down the first notes for Manipulation, the fourth book in the Diversion series, and a lot of work has gone into the story since then, not to mention a very enlightening weekend spent at the Writer's Police Academy. My betas and crit partners held my hand throughout the process, and finally, finally, the book has been launched.

I'd like to acknowledge the folks who had a hand (and kind words) in this story:


Many thanks to P.D. Singer, John A., John R., Lynda B., D.H. Starr, Feliz Faber, Z. Allora, A.B. Gayle, Kayla Jameth, Becky Condit, and Will Parkinson, for handholding and critique. And to David Sullivan for his police expertise. Big hugs and lots of love to Nurse Sarah, for sparing Bo too much pain with her medical details. I’d also like to thank the instructors at the Writer’s Police Academy for helping me “get it right”, especially when it comes to questions like “What does a dead body look like if it’s left in a Mexican drug tunnel for six months?”Also hugs to L.C. Chase, for creating such a lovely cover, and to Jerry L. Wheeler, who had the unenviable task of being my editor. More hugs and a bottle of wine for P.D. Singer, the formatting wizard at Rocky Ridge Books. 

Huge thanks to the readers, who love Bo and Lucky and asked for more of their story. 

I know, I know. You're wondering what I'm doing hanging around my blog when I should be working on the next book in the series: Redemption.  






Lucky Lucklighter has a new life. His old life wants him back.

He traded trafficking for taking down criminals with the Southeastern Narcotics Bureau, and a drug-lord lover for a man on the right side of the law. Bo Schollenberger found the way past the thorny defenses of Lucky’s heart, and made Mr. I-Get-Along-Fine-Alone think about his and his closets, stevia in the sugar bowl, and a picket fence—with a good lock on the gate.

Now Bo is missing, and a voice long silenced asks, “Did you miss me?” Lucky must deal with a devil from his past to get Bo back.

And if Bo isn’t willing to come? A drug ring needs its back broken before flooding the US with a designer high, seductive and undetectable. But there’s a fine line between good and evil, and a truckload of temptation urging Lucky to cross.


Excerpt:

Lucky entered “Victor Antonio Mangiardi” into the computer’s search engine. Pages of social media sites appeared. Dang! Lots of Victor Antonio Mangiardis in the world. Hopefully, the rest weren’t as lawless as the one Lucky sought.

Nothing new. He tried “Victor Mangiardi arrested,” “Victor Mangiardi court,” and “Victor Mangiardi trial.”

“Victor Mangiardi hearing,” paid off in the form of a news article he hadn’t read before. He struggled to breathe even before the image came clearly into view. Victor, smiling, happy, and standing on the courthouse stairs.

The article read: Suspected drug trafficker Victor Mangiardi appeared before Judge Tyson Levinson…

His arraignment. This photo was taken at Victor’s arraignment. But he was laughing. An image came to mind of this same man in court, in rumpled clothes, disheveled and gaunt. During all their time together, Lucky had never seen his former lover looking less than perfect. Victor had even managed to pull himself together during the flu, while Lucky had lain in bed too sick to move. The haggard appearance in court had to have been an act to win the jury’s pity. 


Here he was, with no apparent care in the world. Victor’s lawyer stood to one side, a uniformed cop on the other. Several other people trudged behind him, none of whom Lucky recognized, except for…
Lucky jabbed the magnifying button again and again. The enlargement distorted the face, but he’d know this man anywhere. It couldn’t be. It just couldn’t.

Standing a few feet behind Victor Mangiardi was none other than Walter Smith.

***

“But I thought you needed to speak with Mr. Smith,” the receptionist said as Lucky stormed past her desk.

“Something came up.”

“He’ll be in later this afternoon.”

Lucky jabbed the down arrow button on the elevator. “I changed my mind.”

Holy fuck! Walter and Victor. Walter swore there’d been no deal made to get Victor out of his charges, yet Victor didn’t seem at all worried in the picture. And the reason might have been who stood behind him, both literally and figuratively.

But Victor was dead. He’d hanged himself in his cell.

All the way home Lucky dredged up details he’d sworn to forget. He’d returned from a run to find certain items missing from the house he shared with Victor, the painting of Victor’s mother being the most noticeable. And damning.

Victor loved that painting.

And then there were airline tickets to Rio: one for Victor, one the feds led Lucky to believe was for another plaything Victor planned to drop Lucky for. Only after Victor died, at Lucky’s own trial, did the bastards reveal the passport made out in that name, with Lucky’s picture.

The feds had started closing in, and Victor planned to leave the country and take Lucky with him. As in most aspects of their relationship, he’d kept the details to himself. Besides, Lucky wouldn’t have willingly run and left his family behind. Victor hadn’t intended to offer a choice. Manipulative bastard.

They’d been arrested before they could leave. Or had they?


Lucky recalled the picture. What if Victor made the deal before his arrest? What if, instead of a drug trafficker and a narcotics agent, the men in the photo were merely actors? Walter made one hell of a leading man, as he’d proven time and again in boardroom showdowns.


Arranging a fake death wasn’t hard; Walter had done the same for Lucky. In fact, Walter suggested the plan.

“Fuck. What if he isn’t dead?” Lucky asked himself out loud. He waved an impatient hand at his landlady’s greeting and marched into his house. She sat on the porch much of the day. If anyone stuck anything in the mailbox, she’d know. She had to have seen who delivered the picture yesterday. And yet she’d lied about seeing anyone. With no postmark, the mail carrier sure hadn’t brought the damning piece of evidence. Never again would he trust Mrs. Griggs beyond fixing faulty plumbing and feeding cats.

He’d pack a few things, stay in a motel, and avoid all contact with the SNB until he figured out what was what. What about Bo? How did he figure into the equation? If Bo came to harm because of Walter…
Lucky dragged a duffel out of the entryway closet and charged into his bedroom. A few pairs of jeans, underwear, T-shirts. He crossed into the bathroom for his shaving kit.

Scrawled in red marker across his bathroom mirror: “Did you miss me?”

A face appeared over his left shoulder. A blur swung down. Blackness. 


Now available at Rocky Ridge Books.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Manipulation Giveaway Contest

Enter to win a copy of my upcoming release, Manipulation (Diversion 4) at Stumbling Over Chaos. And don't forget to check out the Linkety and pics of the lovely Mayhem and Chaos while you're there.

Awesome site with great information, lots of fun stuff, and best of all, BOOKS!