Pre Order Crossing The Line Today!

The pre-order is up for new novel Crossing The Line. It’s had a lot of advance praise already from people in the EMS field who were given review copies.

You can see it at Amazon here and at Smashwords here (all ebook formats). The print copy will be available at launch, which is September 21st. Around that same time there will also be a hardcover special edition featuring extras from the author and the cover artist.

cover image ctl

Book Expo America Went Well

All my fears and anxieties were unfounded. We had a great trip to NYC and it was a lot of fun to share our company message with all the attendees at BEA.

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If we do this again I will have a better idea of what kind of decoration to bring. My display looked a little dinky but it did what it needed to do.

 

 

There was a lot of positive response. A lot of people liked our concept of love stories with physically disabled main characters.

 

 

 

We were able to hand out a number of ARC copies of the new novel Crossing The Line.
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Crossing The Line: Book Description

We have the back cover copy for out new book Crossing the Line by Caitlyn Armistead (coming out September 21st, 2015. Pre-order links coming soon!)

Here it is…

Sergeant Nathan Thompson is a combat medic who took an early retirement from the military after losing his leg in Afghanistan.  Megan Henderson is a dedicated paramedic who has saved countless lives. When they’re forced to work together, tensions flare—Nathan thinks Megan is a condescending know it all, and Megan resents a partner who might not be able to offer 100%.
But as they work together, responding to calls at car wrecks, nursing homes, and for drug addicts, their mutual respect grows. Though Megan is a married woman, she can’t help but feel drawn to Nathan’s confidence and compassion.  Maybe it’s her imagination, but he seems to feel the same way about her.
Then Nathan starts noticing the mysterious bruises appearing on Megan’s arms, and her excuses just don’t add up. The next life Nathan has to save may be that of his own partner—if only she’ll let him.
There will be a cover reveal soon. The cover is being custom created by famous EMS artist DanSun. We are so excited and proud to feature his artwork!

Getting Ready for BEA and First Look at New Book

Book Expo America is coming up in just a couple of weeks and we have a booth there!

Getting Everything Ready

Getting Everything Ready

We’ll be doing the trade show portion this year.

The really exciting thing we’ve got at the booth is the first look at our new book Crossing The Line by Caitlyn Armistead. We will be handing out ARCs to the first few lucky people and we will also be passing out cards with a coupon code to download it free from Smashwords when it comes out in September.

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We’re bringing plenty of other swag with us too. Looking forward to getting our name out there!

DLP has signed a new author!

We are very pleased to announce that we have a new author writing at Dev Love Press. Her name is Caitlyn Armistead and her novel Crossing the Line will be published in September 2015.

We’re working on writing the book description now but I can tell you that it is a story about EMTs falling in love on the job. One is a war veteran and a single leg amputee and the other is struggling in an abusive relationship.

When Writing About Disabled Characters, Don’t Do This

When you’re writing a book with a character who has a disability that you don’t have yourself there’s a lot of care and research to put into making sure you represent the disability well and contribute positively to the fight for civil rights that people with disabilities are engaged in.

But today I’m going to talk about something else. I have found that in books with characters with disabilities it has become very popular to put in a single sentence about “creepy devotees” and how your character isn’t one.

A friend of mine shared a few examples (and the fact is you can take just about any book published in the last ten years with a disabled character and find sentences like these)…

He had heard all the rumored reasons for why he never had a date at office parties, ranging from some sort of self-imposed sexual exile out of a dislike of women with strange kinks to the ongoing question of how well his plumbing worked. The folks in the first camp would probably be disappointed to learn that there weren’t hundreds of women lined up outside hotel rooms across America with fetishes for men who couldn’t wiggle their toes. The one woman with such a kink who’d found Micah had been strange in bed. It was not an encounter he wanted to repeat.

Lohmann, Jennifer (2014-09-01). Winning Ruby Heart (Harlequin Superromance) (Kindle Locations 350-351). Harlequin. Kindle Edition.

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Sweet Jesus. Hopefully she wasn’t one of those stump fetish freaks who could only get off with amputees. He’d never been with a woman like that, but lots of guys he’d met at the VA talked about being approached by women—and men—with that bizarre fetish.

James, Lorelei (2009-08-15). Shoulda Been A Cowboy (Rough Riders) (Kindle Locations 1301-1303). Samhain Publishing, Ltd.. Kindle Edition.

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“I didn’t know it then, but there are people who have to take care of someone to feel important about themselves. And there are people attracted to people in chairs because they’re in chairs, like some people prefer blondes or breasts or whatever.”
“That’s creepy.”
“Tell me about it.
That’s one of the things I loved about you from the minute I met you. You don’t pity me or feel sorry for me for being in a chair.”

Richardson, Lesli (2009-03-27). Cross Country Chaos (BookStrand Publishing Romance) (Kindle Locations 4474-4479). Siren-Bookstrand, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

These quotes show a stunning lack of any kind of understanding of what devotees actually feel. The lack of compassion also floors me.

Why is it okay to talk about an entire group of people that way?

Here’s something people don’t seem to comprehend, being a devotee is a rough life. You tend to be extremely isolated, feeling alone and frightened of your own sexuality. When you do start trying to understand it and connect with people, every where you go you hear that you are a “freak, creep, monster, fetishist” and more. You never hear anyone talk about what you are without also calling you a creep. You try to escape to fiction and read books where the love stories match what makes sense to you in your core being and the reward you get is a slap in the face. You can’t escape the judgement even in books and movies.

It’s like this… Imagine you are a gay man. All around you are examples of heterosexual love. It surrounds you constantly and you long to see the kind of love you’re looking for rather than watch movies and read books about hetero relationships. So you find m/m romance and you dive happily in ready to take a break from the real world and enjoy one where a relationship like what you are built for is reflected. But now imagine that EVERY m/m book had the characters insisting that they weren’t actually gay. Yes, they were having gay sex but it was different. They aren’t like those scary, creepy, bizarre gay people. That’s what it’s like for devotees, the vast majority of whom have never done anything scary or creepy in their lives.

If you want to write about devotees even in a single sentence, I urge you to read (W)hole by Ruth Madison. It is a deeply personal and honest account of what many devotees experience as they grow up.

I will never publish a book that talks about devotees like in those examples. It is both lazy writing and cruel to a large portion of your target audience.

I think writers do this for a few reasons.

1) They feel like this is a thing that gets talked about and so they need to address it in some way

2) They think it makes them look cool and sophisticated that they know about it

3) They want to make sure no one thinks their characters are one of those people.

But you don’t have to comment. You don’t have to say anything about people you know nothing about. Just keep your mouth shut on the subject. Write your characters falling in love, caring about each other, finding a deep soul connection and leave it at that. There is no need to prove that you know what a devotee is or to prove that your character isn’t one. Whether they are or not, the point of these books is to see people fall in love and in that aspect it makes zero difference whether your character has any devotee tendencies or not.

 

Book Expo America: Need Advice

One of my goals for 2015 (post about my other goals soon!) is to have a booth at a book conference. And that goal is coming true in May of 2015. Dev Love Press will have a table at Book Expo America.

There are two aspects of BEA and we are only going to be at the trade portion this time, but hopefully in another year we’ll be able to also go to the book fair that’s open to all readers.

I’m super excited about this opportunity but I’m also not sure what to expect or how to prepare.

So, has anyone been to BEA before? Please comment and tell me what it’s like, what to bring, what you wish you had done, etc.

By the way, I’m really pleased with some of the projects I’m working on to make the table eye-catching. For example, the most interesting thing I’m doing is modifying Barbie and Ken dolls to turn them into characters from our books.

Here are the works in progress for Stewart, Jake, and Kassie

charactersjakesteart
Yes, Jake still needs clothes. Going to the store today to get him an outfit and to get a doll for Elizabeth!

Also, Kassie isn’t an alien. Those coffee stirers are to curl her hair!

I’m also going to make little copies of their books for them to hold.

Character Development Tricks (Nanowrimo prep)

National Novel Writing Month is November and so October is the time to start getting prepared and figuring out what you’re going to write. Today I thought I’d share with you some ideas to help you develop really interesting characters or give more depth to characters you’ve begun to think about…

Alignment

Dungeons & Dragons players will tell you one way to figure out a character is to think about where they fall in the alignment chart. There are two lines on the chart: a measure of morality and a measure of ethics. Chaotic Good, for example, might be a character like Robin Hood who doesn’t follow the rules but cares about doing good things.

You can get a better sense for the nine alignments with any fandom you’re into. Do an image search for “marvel alignments” and you’ll get a chart showing how the Marvel heroes and villains fit the alignment chart. In fact, just do an image search for “alignment” and you’ll see an amazing variety of characters and public figures organized by their D&D alignment. (There can be disagreements depending on who created the chart. Not every character is easily categorized).

family guy alignment

I find that thinking about the alignment chart helps me write characters that aren’t all me. I look at where I am and then I purposefully pick a different square to explore having a mindset different from my own. (My friends and I aren’t entirely sure where I fit, but we’re thinking I’m probably Lawful Neutral).

Here’s one for Game of Thrones season 2, here’s charts for The Big Lebowski and The Office, here’s one for The Big Bang Theory. Okay moving on now.

List Your Favorite Characters

When you think about what characters you still love long after you’ve finished a book or a TV show or a movie, who comes to mind? What characters are so strong that you remember them more than the story they were in?

I think of:

  • Abby from NCIS
  • Parker from Leverage
  • Long John Silver from Treasure Island
  • Delenn from Babylon 5
  • Dr. Brennan from Bones
  • Anne from Anne of Green Gables

Look for what draws you to these characters. What qualities do they have that make them really interesting to you?

Unexpected Combinations

One of my favorite ways to create interesting characters is to make combinations of characteristics or professions that go against stereotype.

For example we could say Abby is a goth with a heart of gold. Booth from Bones is a sniper who is also a devout Catholic. I’m stuck on TV shows today for some reason, but you get the idea.

One way to do this is to look up lists of clichés and mix them up. Take half of one and blend it with another, change the gender, etc. Here are some cliché character lists:

List of Traits

Take a list of personality traits like this one and just read through them. See what jumps out at you. Circle some. Think about how they might work together in unexpected combinations.

Coming Soon: The Billionaire’s Secretary

If you subscribe to our newsletter or have us friended on Facebook you may have heard the news. Ruth Madison has a new book coming out (finally!). It’s been a long time coming and I think you’re going to enjoy it.

It’s a short, sexy story that’s just packed with romance!

You can read an excerpt of one of my favorite scenes here: https://devlovepress.com/excerpt-from-the-billionaires-secretary-by-ruth-madison/

(Keep in mind that the book hasn’t been through the proofreading stage yet so there may be a few minor errors still).

That page also has all the links to the pre-order pages if you’d like to secure your copy now. It will launch on December 4th!

Secretary Cover

Contest Winner!

I really enjoyed reading the submissions for the summer first sentence prompt contest. We had six entries all together and they all showed a lot of promise! It was tough to pick a winner. Very tough!

Judging was done by me alone. To make it unbiased I had my husband open the entries, remove the identifying information, and print them out. Once I selected a winner, I went back to see whose entry it was.

It’s fascinating to see all the different directions that people went with the same first sentence.

So the winner is…

 Elisabeth Benedict

Visit her at http://ahiruzone.com

(Note: Athira, could you get in touch again? When I tried to email you, the message bounced saying your inbox was full).

Here is the winning entry (all rights reserved by Elisabeth Benedict)

She turned the corner of the ramp and eyed the doorway in front of her, unsure that her wheelchair was going to fit through. “Shit, shit, shit,” Sasha swore out loud and then murmured under her breath, “There  goes my interview.” She presented her design online and has been in touch with the PR department for a few weeks. They have finally asked her to have a dinner with the boss – a kind of informal job interview.

She thought it a bit strange but accepted the invitation. And now she was stuck because she didn’t double check the restaurant’s accessibility. It said on their website they were accessible. She should have known better that what able-bodied people considered accessible and what really was accessible were two different things. So typical. Heavy garbage bins were partly blocking the door that itself looked rather narrow.

“My sentiments exactly,” replied a pleasant male voice behind her.

Sasha slowly turned her wheelchair and forgot all about the stupid door. She was staring into the most breathtaking emerald eyes. There were laugh lines around those captivating eyes. And then he actually smiled and those lines went to work. She’s never seen anything more sexy than those beautiful smiling eyes.

“Do you think we can move those bins and then we can make the manager feel really bad about it and perhaps we get a free dessert?”

She laughed at his suggestion. Not that it was a bad suggestion – she did get a few free things here and there after presenting the trouble she had to go through to access an “accessible” restaurant or a store. She laughed because it was always refreshing to meet somebody who was able to joke about their disability. And Mr. Emerald Eyes surely knew something about it. His wheelchair was like hers – sporty, no arm rests, a clean Z frame, knobby tires to handle the bad Boston weather.

But tonight was mild and dry and he was wearing a short-sleeved Polo shirt that matched his eyes perfectly. His black jeans ended above his knees. Or above where his knees would have been had he had any. She could make the outlines of his stumps. The muscles of what remained of his thighs were well defined. So was the rest of his body. Sasha was afraid she might start drooling soon…

She caught herself staring at him and quickly smiled. “I wish we could but apart from looking quite heavy, there really isn’t a place where we could push them unless we could get them the whole way into the alley and I don’t think the restaurant manager would appreciate it. No free dessert for us if the rubbish ends up in the alley.” She was starting to babble. And there was his smile again. Suddenly Sasha stopped feeling nervous. There was somebody who understood her predicament, didn’t judge her, and didn’t look at her like she was dumb. The latter happened to her plenty. Somehow when one was in a wheelchair, many people assumed that one’s intelligence was quite low. And they would start speaking to her slowly and in a loud voice.

“I’m Ben. Since it looks like we both will have to forgo eating at this place, may I invite you for dinner? There is a lovely and, I assure you, fully accessible Italian restaurant around the corner.”

Sasha extended her gloved hand and the tips of their fingers met before they shook hands. A little bit frustrated, she sighed: “Hi, I’m Sasha. I was supposed to meet somebody here but I don’t have his cell number, so I guess that’s it. I’ll get a message to him in the morning that I couldn’t make it. I guess I could ask somebody who is walking into this restaurant to give him a message but frankly, I would hate to see the pity in his eyes when he realises that I am in a wheelchair and thus can’t get in.”

“Yeah, I know what you mean. My mother set me up on a blind date once. Let’s say the terror in the girl’s eyes and the pity of the people around us were enough that I didn’t want to meet any new people for a year. Please, say you’ll go to dinner with me.”

She laughed as he made puppy eyes at her. “Sure. But weren’t you meeting somebody?”

“I was but I guess I am in the same situation. No cell number and in no mood for pity.”

Sasha put her hands on the rims. “All right then. Let’s go. I am starving.”

They wheeled the half block to the restaurant in silence as the sidewalk wasn’t wide enough for them to wheel next to each other. Ben let her go first, enjoying the view of her shoulder-length wavy brown hair. She was wearing black sleeveless dress that stressed her well developed figure. She was gorgeous. Her arms were strong, breasts full, perfect hourglass figure. Just the way Ben liked his woman.

He liked to touch the softness of a woman’s body. The lifegiving softness. The breasts, the hips. He was thanking the stars for those rubbish bins. And he was glad that he chose to use his wheelchair instead of his prosthesis tonight. He wasn’t planning on it but after the long swim he had, he just didn’t feel like walking. Plus he liked to see a reaction of a potential employee to his amputations. It was always quite revealing. He was a very hands-on boss and if his employees didn’t feel comfortable around him, it influenced their creativity. He understood that the initial shock was normal and that most people forgot about his legs, or rather lack of them, within twenty minutes of talking to him. Ben put most people at ease. He was smart, good looking, and he was told his smile was his most charming feature. He smiled plenty. Life was pretty good to him. For the most part. He owned a successful advertising business, had a lovely apartment on the water, good friends, and a faithful service dog. At 34 he was very active, spending his summer sailing, mono-skiing in winter, and swimming all year long. Yet despite a few flings, the truth was that most women didn’t want to spent their life with a double above knee amputee. And those who thought they did either were curious about his
amputations but that curiosity wore off fast or they pitied him and wanted to take care of him. Ben didn’t need anybody to take care of him. He did just fine by himself since he came from rehab twelve years ago.

His gaze went to Sasha’s legs as she turned toward the restaurant’s entrance. Her dress ended right below her knees and he could see the atrophy on her calves. She had a tattoo above her left ankle, a rose. Ben took a deep breath, trying to dispel the thought of first kissing the rose and slowly making his way up, discovering how much and where she could feel his gentle and maybe not so gentle kisses.

“Yay, no steps.” Sasha pretended to squeal like a teenager who just found out that One Direction was coming to the town. Ben loved this woman’s laugh and her dark sense of humour. As he already loved her body, the moment of truth would soon come, the possible deal breaker. Was Sasha as smart and witty as she was beautiful? Ben wasn’t the typical male who liked his woman beautiful but preferably a bit dumb. He loved a smart woman who would intellectually challenge him, who would argue with him about politics and philosophy, yet would be open-minded. Such woman was a rarity.

As he opened the door for Sasha, she gently nodded her head in thanks and locked her eyes with his for a couple of seconds. She was glad for the few moments when she was wheeling in front of him because she couldn’t ogle him. Her bad habit of staring at interesting and good looking people got her into a trouble a few times. It was hard to explain to people that she loved beauty to the point of doing something socially unacceptable, like staring at them. She would stop if she saw something that interested her. It used to be easier before her accident six years ago. But now when her ootprint was larger, people got impatient with her. She was blocking their precious sidewalk when she would stop and stare at the intricate pattern of the old brick wall or the lone flower on the side of the pavement. Sasha had a degree in design but her love was photography and her mind would take a photo of the intricate pattern or the flower when she didn’t have her camera with her. Which she usually had, right under her wheelchair seat. Except for tonight, so she was bound to stare at her companion because she wanted to remember every detail of his beautiful eyes, the smile lines, the black curly hair, the long, slightly crooked nose, the lips that begged to be kissed.

“Would you like a booth?” the hostess interrupted their companionable silence. Sasha and Ben just gave each other look and started laughing very hard. “No, thank you,” Ben replied once he had control of  himself.

“And we’ll keep our wheelchairs too, so please remove the chairs,” Sasha quickly added.

Ben grinned at his beautiful companion. “This hostess is new here, so let’s hope she will learn not to ask us about the booth again. Though one never knows. Just curious, how often do you get the booth question?”

Sasha made a very serious pondering look. “About once a year, I would say. And about twice a year the question if I am going to keep my chair.”

Once the couple was seated, the wine started flowing and the food was abundant. The thoughts about their butts sitting in a wheelchair were forgotten. They talked about their love of Boston and their favorite places there, they criticised politics and were very pleased that each other’s dinner company tended to think similarly on political issues, they argued a little bit about religion, and over their tiramisu and cannoli that they shared they started talking about art.

“So, Sasha, as a New Yorker, what is your favorite museum there?” Ben was hoping she wouldn’t say MOMA. As much as he loved modern art and learned a lot in MOMA about design, advertisement, and what moves a modern man, Ben was fond of the Old Masters. They were the ones who moved his soul. He would spend hours sitting in front of El Greco, Rembrandt, Vermeer or Caravaggio. He would study the play of light and shadow, he would let himself be absorbed by the expressions on the faces and when overwhelmed, he would go to the impressionist section and let be surrounded by colour. By dots of colour.

“Definitely the Met and I am not apologetic about it.” The fire and passion in Sasha’s eyes were clear. “Until I moved to Boston two years ago, I went to Met at least once a week. Thank God for their suggested donation. Ever since I was a girl, I would go there, give them a dollar or two and say with the thickest accent I could muster: ‘Vun teecket, pleaze.’ I don’t think I ever paid the suggested donation.”

“Vun teecket, pleaze?” Ben was imitating her while laughing. “I should try it one day. I love the Metropolitan Museum. I go to New York every three months or so to see what’s new in modern art and design but I go to Met to recharge.”

Sasha looked at him and understood. After her accident and the stay in rehab, she felt so empty. She craved beauty more than ever. Sitting again, this time in her own chair, in front of the Masters brought her to tears. Tears that beauty is here to stay. That despite the shit that happens to us we can forget about our difficulties and look at a painting and feel bodyless, weightless, absorbed in eternal beauty.

After a few moments of just being quietly with the other person while feeling the deep connection, Sasha finally spoke: “I was supposed to meet my prospective employer tonight but even if I don’t get my design job because I didn’t show up, spending time with you was so much better. Thank you for the most amazing evening.”

Ben pondered her words for a moment. Design, job, employer. His face lit up: “Are you by any chance Ms. Alexandra Petrova?”

Sasha lightly nodded, surprised.

“Well,” Ben continued, “then, Ms. Petrova, I hope I will see you every weekday from Monday on at your new job. I was very pleased with your designs. And I am hoping that I will be able to steal some of your evenings and weekends as well.”