Hey, y’all! So for those of you who aren’t on Facebook or who missed the takeover Santino Hassell and I were part of yesterday, we wanted to share some info about the project we unveiled there! We recently started co-writing the first book of a planned erotic romance trilogy. The title is BISHOP’S MOVE, and if you want a sneak peek at the blurb and an excerpt from the first chapter, read on! 😉
(Note: the blurb and excerpt are unedited and subject to possible changes during revisions.)
BISHOP’S MOVE BLURB
In near-future Chicago, virtual reality is an escape from the grit and grime of everyday life.
Lucky Amonte will be paying off his VR gaming system forever, but it’s worth it to experience his dirtiest fantasies with anonymous strangers in the Drift. After work and in the game, he’s LuckyStrike—the androgynous, chubby fashionisto who fiercely rocks big hoop earrings and flashy ensembles. He also craves rough sex, a little humiliation and dominance, and he’s finally found the perfect virtual partner in sexy, mysterious Bishop.
Jamie Bishop spent most of his twenties incarcerated for protecting someone he loved. Now he’s stuck in a thankless job delivering pizzas and passing coded messages for his shady boss. Life isn’t kind to ex-felons, but in the Drift, he’s simply Bishop. Clean-cut and average. No prison tats. No brawny, intimidating physique. And there, he has Lucky, whose desires align perfectly with his own.
When their fantasy and real lives collide, Bishop is forced to decide—either play it safe and keep a low profile or make a move and find out whether their virtual chemistry is more than just a game. But drawing Lucky into his world could put both their lives on the line.
Trigger warnings: This book contains some breath control play and a scene portraying characters who consensually act out a fantasy of a nonconsensual situation.
Sliding into the Drift always felt like an electric shock—a sharp, sudden spark that left every nerve alight and every fine body hair briefly standing on end. By now, I expected the familiar, rough shiver and the accompanying mental rubber-band-snap of my brain and body syncing with the Virtual Drift gaming system.
I didn’t so much choose my avatar as sank into it, my mind absorbed into the entity I played within the game. When I Drifted, I literally became LuckyStrike. I saw, heard, felt, and spoke through my avatar. A sensory experience unlike any virtual reality system I’d ever used before, and so far, I was completely addicted.
Logging into Novo Society took only a slight motion of my glove-covered hand. In a blink, the real world vanished and I stood in the small studio apartment I’d purchased using in-game credits.
To call the place spartan was being generous, but I didn’t play the game for fancy digs. I used the system mainly for social interaction and sex, with the occasional first-person shooter thrown in. Tonight, as every Friday for the past two months, had been reserved for me and Bishop. Our requirements were simple: four walls and a lockable door. Anything else I needed, Bishop gave me. With just the right amount of roughness.
Goddamn, I needed him tonight. It’d taken every ounce of willpower not to sign into the game until a couple of minutes before our usual six p.m. meeting time. I knew myself. Knew logging in early would only increase my frustration. Even expecting Bishop’s knock at any second, I stalked the perimeter of my virtual studio like a caged animal, shaking out my limbs, the bangles at my wrists jangling with the agitated movements. Restless energy flowed over my skin, humming like power lines. It had been a bad week—the worst week—and now, with the promise of release so near, my anxiety threatened to shake me apart.
Half an hour passed.
Fuck fuck fuck.
Where was he?
I hadn’t needed Bishop this badly since the very first time. Eight weeks ago, I’d been so desperate, starved for someone to take control and use me like I needed to be used. I’d been wasting time playing with wannabe Doms, and then Bishop walked into The Forum. I brought him to this apartment, and he put me on my knees. And it was perfect.
So perfect I probably thought about it too much, and yet I knew tonight I’d be asking him if we could discuss our arrangement, find another gap somewhere in both our schedules. Some way to make this more than just a once-weekly thing.
I had no idea what Bishop did with his time outside of the game. We didn’t talk about those things. Ever. When we were together, I saved my breath for begging. And Bishop, he liked to hear me beg. But now that I’d had a taste of the sweet, heady relief only Bishop could provide, it was getting harder and harder to endure the seven-day stretches without him.
Surely he could find a way to free up another evening. He had to crave this as much as I did. He had to. Our virtual chemistry was far too intense to be one-sided.
I stopped in the middle of the room, the bangles clinking into place as I dropped my arms to my sides. Chandelier earrings hung from my lobes, and I felt them swaying and tinkling lightly in the wake of my abrupt stillness.
I liked the soft sound. I liked the way they made me feel. And here in the game, I could wear them. I didn’t have to be the buttoned up version of Lucky. The one who spent anywhere from forty to sixty hours a week in a thankless IT job where I felt like my soul was slowly being crushed beneath a white-collar facade and the weight of other people’s expectations.
LuckyStrike might have wild, lavender hair, pointed elf ears, and creeping vine and ivy tattoos, but other than those minor alterations, he was me in all my fierce, fat, thick-thighed glory. I was him. And Bishop accepted all of it. The makeup and nail polish, the jewelry, the mishmash of clothing styles.
I needed that. To be accepted for me, even if it was a slightly fanciful version of myself. I didn’t exactly lack for confidence, but I spent so much time maintaining a charade and wearing a stifling, colorless disguise. Just another cog in the big corporate machine being forced to blend, blend, blend. I only got to be the real Lucky after business hours, and only a handful of people knew that Lucky—including Bishop.
I needed him. Tonight more than ever. So where the hell was he?
And here’s a little peek at our fierce and fabulous Lucky inspiration. 😉
And Bishop’s awesome inspiration.
OFF THE ICE, a contemporary m/m hockey romance featuring a professional hockey player and his surly Sociology professor falling in love, is out 10/30/17! To celebrate we have 7 days of awesome #bookstagram photos hosted by some truly gorgeous accounts!
What it is: for seven days, 10/28 – 11/3, stop by each of the hosts to see their photos of and take part in the tour challenge.
Tour challenge: comment on any of the host photos & use the hashtag #OfftheIceTour, tag any of the daily hosts, tag the authors (@piper.vaughn and @avongale), and A Novel Take PR (@anoveltakepr) and you’ll be entered in the giveaway.
You can enter on every post from one of the hosts!
Can’t wait to see all of your photos!
***Giveaway details: up for grabs and open internationally!***
Signed paperback + swag pack from the Off the Ice Hockey team, The Venom:
Venom T-shirt (https://www.zazzle.com/venom_t_shirt-235129640364916786)
Venom player spiral notebook (https://www.zazzle.com/venom_player_spiral_8_5_x_8_5_notebook_holt_57-256932640330558309)
Winners chosen by 11/9 and contacted about their prize via the Instagram account they used to enter
Hi, all! For anyone wondering, this is my list of upcoming releases and works-in-progress. All dates are tentative/subject to change, but this is how things stand right now. 😀
October 2017 – OFF THE ICE (Hat Trick #1) – with Avon Gale – Riptide – Contemporary romance. Sports. Age gap. Earnest Midwestern hockey player meets grumpy Puerto Rican sociology professor with a dash of kink.
May 2018 – GOALIE INTERFERENCE (Hat Trick #2) – with Avon Gale – Riptide – Contemporary romance. Sports. Rivals to lovers. Bisexual character. Interracial relationship. D/s elements. POC characters. Two ice hockey goalies competing for the starting slot on the same team. Tempers flare and things get hot. 😉
August 2018 – NECESSARY ART (Art & Soul #2) – with Avon Gale – Riptide – Contemporary romance. Graffiti artist/skater. Lawyer-turned-sculptor-turned-non-profit-organizer. Age gap. Opposites attract. Demisexual character.
November 2018 – TRADE DEADLINE (Hat Trick #3) – with Avon Gale – Riptide – Contemporary romance. Sports. Friends to lovers. Sweet and sexy. Bisexual character. A veteran hockey player is traded to his hometown team and reunites with his best friend/first crush from childhood. When I say sweet, I’m serious, y’all, there are DOLPHINS.
ANOTHER ROUND – In progress – First book in my texting trilogy. Contemporary romance. Opposites attract. Multicultural couple. Cute, nerdy number cruncher meets hot, bearded, tattooed gym owner/MMA fighter through rather unconventional circumstances.
Vloggers trilogy – In planning
Hard Hats #3 – Outlined
PERMANENT INK, the kinky tattoo artist romance from me and Avon Gale, is out 8/7! To celebrate we have 4 days of awesome #bookstagram photos hosted by some of our favorites!
What it is: for four days, stop by each of the hosts to see their photos of Permanent Ink and take part in the tour challenge.
Tour challenge: post your favorite tattoo snapshot & use the hashtag #PermanentInkTour, tag the daily host, me (@piper.vaughn) and @avongale, and A Novel Take PR (@anoveltakepr) and you’ll be entered in the giveaway.
People can enter once a day as long as they tag a daily host.
Can’t wait to see all of your photos!
***Giveaway details: up for grabs: 3 e-copies of PERMANENT INK. Winners chosen by 8/15 and contacted with their prize via the Instagram account they used to enter.***
Hi, all! It’s been a while since I updated, but I have a surprise rerelease to announce today!
My short story, Black John, was originally included in DSP’s “Cross Bones” pirate anthology. I got the rights back a few months ago and decided I would rerelease it as an individual title for those who didn’t pick up the anthology, or those who read the other book in this universe, Love Rising (currently available from Dreamspinner Press). The two stories are set in the same world, but can definitely be read as stand-alones. Please note: Love Rising does have a fantasy element. If you’re a fan of mermen, check it out! 😀
This fab new cover was designed by Natasha Snow. I ♥ it.
Former pirate Juan “Black John” de Avila has found a home on Isla Sagrario, a safe haven for men who desire other men. When Jacob, the lover he thought had died, washes ashore after a shipwreck, Juan believes he’s been given a second chance at love. But Jacob Bellamy thinks the safety of Sagrario is an illusion, one that will come to a brutal end should their enemies ever catch wind of their whereabouts.
Juan doesn’t want to lose Jacob again, but neither does he want to leave his home behind for a lifetime of hiding and secrecy. When the island comes under attack, Jacob is forced to decide what means more to him—spending the rest of his life safe and alone, or risking it all to be with the man he loves.
Genre: M/M Historical Romance
Length: Short story (approx 6K)
Add it on Goodreads
For the last 7+ months I’ve been fairly open about my struggles with writing and depression, and more recently, the mystery illness that landed me in the emergency room and countless doctors’ offices over the last month (and has yet to be identified). Those of you who follow this blog or are friends with me on social media have doubtless seen some of my posts. I decided to be open about the depression in particular for two reasons:
1) The stigma that surrounds depression/mental illness is seriously upsetting, and I feel the only way to change that is through open discussion and for the people who suffer from depression not to feel forced to hide it like it’s some shameful secret.
2) Out of respect for my readers. See, I do 100% believe I’m entitled to my privacy and I don’t blame any author who might be in a similar situation for keeping it quiet. This is a decision every individual has to make for themselves. But, for me personally, because my depression affects everything in my life, including my writing, I wanted to be upfront about it. I didn’t want my readers to think I’m just taking some extended vacation and hanging my unfinished series out to dry without a care that people are waiting for more books. Authors are human—we need breaks sometimes, it’s true—but the reality is I want to be writing, and the fact that my words have seemingly abandoned me is a pain I deal with every day. I’ve written since I was around eleven, since the time when the only people who saw my stories were my friends in junior high, and I didn’t even entertain the hope that I might be able to make what I loved a career someday. Writing has always been cathartic for me, and being unable to write for over half a year now makes me feel like I’m missing some critical part of myself, my soul. Believe me, I didn’t make the conscious choice to stop writing, and I’m fighting to get through this block every day.
The TL;DR version of what happened is that back in October I got hit by the worst bout of depression I’ve ever dealt with. I experienced suicidal ideation, nearly ended up in the hospital, scared my family and close friends, and had to seek the help of a therapist for the first time since childhood.
I am only now, nearly 8 months later, getting to the point where I’m started to feel excited about writing again and hopeful that I’ll be able to break through this block and start putting words on the page. Still, I’m taking things cautiously. When the words do start flowing, I want to allow myself to write without any pressure. I’ve realized lately that I can’t write on a strict schedule. I have to focus on the story that is calling to me most strongly, and yes, that does mean that sometimes it’s a long wait between books in my series. I apologize for that, but I just can’t force myself to work on a project simply because I know I should try to keep series releases consistent, not if in my heart of hearts, I’d rather be working on something else instead. Forcing myself to try to write what I should be writing only stresses me out and makes it feel like a job. And while, yes, this is what I do for a living, I started writing for love and for fun, and I don’t want to lose that feeling—the happiness I experience when I’m working on a project I’m truly excited and passionate about.
So, with all that being said, I’ve had to make a tough decision, and trust me, it’s not one I made lightly. Tears were shed. But being that I’ve received dozens of messages, tweets, and questions about the Portland Pack Chronicles, I know it’s a series that readers are eagerly awaiting more of. My coauthor, Kenzie Cade, is also eager to get back to our boys and continue writing. Unfortunately, due to my current circumstances, I’m the one holding things back—and I don’t think that’s fair, not to her, and not to the readers who’ve enjoyed the series so far, not when she could keep writing and get the stories to you faster than if I stayed involved. Because right now, with the lingering depression and the health issues that have plagued me over the last month or so, the only answer I can give about when I’ll be able to return to the Portland Pack Chronicles is “I don’t know.” So, sad as it makes me, I feel like this is the best decision for the future of the series. I’m sure Kenzie will more than do justice to the Portland Pack boys on her own. She’ll rock it—I’ve told her so—and I wish her much success!
As for my other in-progress series, fear not! The series I’ve started on my own will be completed eventually, even if it takes me much longer than I ever anticipated. I will break through this! I have so many stories I want to write and projects I’m excited about. I’m not giving up. Definitely not. Watch this space, because I’m sure, in time, I’ll have a much happier update to post.
In the meantime, thanks for your patience and understanding!
So I hesitated to post this because of how charged the atmosphere in M/M is right now. Hurt feelings abound on all sides over a book that was recently released (and no, I won’t be naming it here). The topic of racism is not one I take lightly, having dealt with it all my life, but I leave that discussion to people much more eloquent than myself. I do, however, have some thoughts about the subject of diversity in fiction and writing characters of color, specifically in M/M, and I want to share them here.
In the past, I’ve written blog posts calling for more diversity. I think it’s something we all recognize is needed at this point.
I’m Puerto Rican. I’m open about it. I write a lot of Hispanic characters because of it. And when I wrote a Mexican MC, I wrote with the awareness that Mexican culture and Puerto Rican culture are vastly different.
I reached out to Mexican readers and asked if anyone would proofread my story to make sure I was doing that character justice. Because being raised in a Mexican neighborhood doesn’t make me infallible or all-knowing or any kind of authority. I was still brought up in a Puerto Rican family and there are differences aplenty (just as there are differences between Mexicans and Spaniards or Colombians and Dominicans, etc).
I know a lot of authors hesitate to step out of their comfort zone and write a character of color. It can be intimidating, and in my opinion, it requires research and due diligence if you want to give an accurate, sensitive portrayal. If you’re nervous, yes, you’re probably right to be nervous. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes we have to do the things that make us uncomfortable, and if you are uncomfortable, I think you’ll be likelier to approach your writing with care and tact.
That being said, lately I’ve been getting the feeling that some authors think they have to start including characters of color in their books because the subject of diversity has been the focus of so many recent panels and discussions.
And my opinion is this: don’t do anything you feel you have to do.
If you’ve noticed the lack of POC (people of color) characters and you truly want to change that, awesome! Two very enthusiastic thumbs up from me! But if you’re not willing to be mindful, and if you don’t feel it’s worth the effort to research to avoid stereotypes or possibly offending or hurting your readership, it’s probably best not to do it.
In the long run, I think you’ll be happier and less stressed. And the POC readers will be happier too. We want representation, yes. We want to see characters that reflect our cultural backgrounds, but not if it only comes from a sense of obligation, not actual desire to change the (mostly white) landscape of M/M—or romance and fiction in general—to reflect the glorious, multi-colored reality we actually reside in. Not if you plan to portray us as caricatures. And definitely not if you can’t handle criticism if you wind up getting something wrong, which you very well might.
If you don’t feel comfortable writing a character of color, keep doing what you do. It’s all good. Sincerely. No judgment from this author/reader. But if you do want to try, there are people out there who are absolutely ready and willing to help you try to get it right, and believe me it is worth the effort!
We’re all human. Being a minority, a person of color myself doesn’t mean I’m above screwing up. Not by a long shot. All we can do is acknowledge mistakes when they happen (and they will happen). We can apologize and try to do better. And most importantly, we can listen when someone tells us they’re hurt or offended.
Don’t invalidate someone’s feelings. It’s not your (or my) right to tell someone if they should/shouldn’t be offended by something or to tone police or tell them to “speak more politely.” That only takes away from them and their experiences and turns the attention back to yourself and your own comfort. Sometimes it’s hard to be calm and polite when you’re angry and hurting. Sometimes people only hear you above the ruckus if you’re screaming—especially if you’re part of a community that has been dehumanized and marginalized for centuries.
If someone is yelling “This hurt me and here is why!”, maybe you should take a minute to listen and try to understand. Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my life, it’s that empathy, compassion, and sincerity go a long way.
People of color… we’re just people. We only want to see stories about genuine characters like ourselves falling in love or saving the day or going on that epic adventure. Not stereotypes. Not for tokenism. Our personalities are varied, and we fall all over the spectrums of sexuality and gender. We’re rich and poor and everywhere in between. Educated and not. In other words—we’re just like everyone else. And yet we make up a mere fraction of the characters you find in books or films or on television.
Trust me, if you found it this difficult to find characters you could relate to, if you never saw characters who looked like you, or who reflected your reality, you’d yearn for more representation too. And when you thought you’d found it, you’d latch onto it fast.
Hey! This person. They’re like me! I can do that too! I can be the hero!
Sometimes there’s no better feeling than that.
Hey, all! Just a quick post today to announce that the 2nd editions of the LUCKY MOON series by me and MJ O’Shea are on sale for $1 each on DSP, Amazon, and ARe between now and March 25th!
If you haven’t tried our rockstars before, now’s a good time to check out the series! We have a little bit of everything – multicultural romance, bisexual romance, second chances, enemies-to-lovers, friends-to-lovers, and all of the melodrama involved with being a musician in the public eye. Links below! 😀
Hey, all! Long time no update, I know, but I have a cool giveaway for you guys to celebrate my official author page hitting 1000 likes on Facebook! 😀
This prize goes to one person. Here is a pic of everything in the prize box.
I decided to do something a bit different for this giveaway. Each prize relates to one of my books/series in some way.
From left to right:
-Hedgehog erasers, representing Avery the hedgehog shifter from the Portland Pack Chronicles.
-An Inigo Montoya themed mug, representing The Party Boy’s Guide to Dating a Geek. (It reads: Hello my name is Inigo Montoya you drank my coffee. Prepare to die.)
-A USB flash drive disguised as a camera, for Asher the photographer from One True Thing.
-A $15 iTunes gift card, representing all of the rock stars in the Lucky Moon series. (Note: This card is only usable by US residents. If the winner is from outside the US, it will not be included. The winner will be offered something else of equal value.)
-A Batman/Superman friendship necklace, for Jonah and Laurie from Wanting. Together the two halves form a heart, as you can see below.
-A notebook and a 5-pack of pens, representing the authors I’ve written – Erik from One Small Thing and Shepherd from Bookmarked. (The journal cover reads: Shoot for the Moon. Even if you miss it you will land among the stars.)
-A wolf coloring book, representing Dylan and the other wolves in the Portland Pack Chronicles.
-A pack of Mermaid Shimmer crayons, representing Wick, my merman from Love Rising.
-A pair of tool-themed socks, representing the guys from the Hard Hats series. (Note: These are men’s socks that fit men’s sizes 7-12/women’s 8.5-13.5. Below you can see me modeling my own pair.)
If so desired, the winner can also choose one of the paperbacks pictured below, which I will sign if requested. (Moonstruck is also available, but I didn’t have a copy on hand to include in the photo.)
THE SMALL PRINT
-HOW TO ENTER: Comment on this post and tell me something you’re looking forward to in the next year. A book release, an event, a trip, whatever. OR, tell me which is your favorite of my books and why. (Be sure to list your email address in the appropriate box when commenting so I have a way to reach you!)
-Because this contest is a celebration of reaching 1000 likes on my official author page on FB, the people who have liked my page will get two entries. But since I need a way to double check, if you’ve liked my FB page, please include a link to your FB profile in your comment.
-Closes: Monday, Feb 29, at 11PM CST
Disclaimer: This contest is open worldwide to adults age 18 and up. Your comment confirms that you are of legal age. You must be willing to provide your physical mailing address to receive this prize.
Hey, all! Just a quick update! 😀 I was fortunate enough to be nominated in some of the Goodreads M/M Romance Member’s Choice Awards categories for both Prickly Business and The Truth About Forever. For anyone interested, voting is now open. (Note: You have to be a member of the group to vote.)
Thanks so much to the people who nominated me (along with Kenzie Cade, for the Prickly Business nominations)!