Stoker & Bash: The Fangs of Scavo Available for Pre-Order!!

 

Once upon a time when I was but an innocent college student, I asked my younger sister why she’d decided to wear a zip-up hoodie out to party with her friends. Her reply? “Easy access.”

I couldn’t fault her logic then, and I can’t fault it now. Here’s your easy access to pre-order ebook copies of my new Victorian M/M mystery romance, Stoker & Bash: The Fangs of Scavo! The print edition will be available on the release date, June 7th.

Amazon

Kobo

Google Play Books

Barnes & Noble

Apple iBooks

Stay tuned for info on the Release Blitz, Blog Tour and giveaway!!

Happy reading,

Selina

Stoker & Bash #1: The Fangs of Scavo is almost here!!

 

Friends, I’m so proud to finally share with you some a project that has dominated my life over the past two years. My new Victorian M/M mystery romance, Stoker & Bash: The Fangs of Scavo is, as the sign above says, going to be published on June 7th, 2017, in both ebook and print format. This is the first book in a planned series–and I have serious plans for my main couple, Hiero and Tim, having outlined plots for four more books, minimum. Here’s the blurb:

At Scotland Yard, DI Timothy Stoker is no better than a ghost. A master of arcane documents and niggling details who, unlike his celebrity-chasing colleagues, prefers hard work to headlines. But an invisible man is needed to unmask the city’s newest amateur detective, Hieronymus Bash. A bon vivant long on flash and style but short on personal history, Bash just may be a Cheapside rogue in Savile Row finery.

When the four fangs of the Demon Cats of Scavo—trophies that protect the hunters who killed the two vicious beasts—disappear one by one, Stoker’s forced to team with the very man he was sent to investigate to maintain his cover. He finds himself thrust into a world of wailing mediums, spiritualist societies, man-eating lions, and a consulting detective with more ambition than sense. Will this case be the end of his career, or the start of an unexpected liaison? Or will the mysterious forces at play be the death of them both?

And just who is Hieronymus Bash?

Spoiler alert: not who he says he is. 😉

To celebrate the release, there will be a bunch of upcoming events. I hope you’ll join me every step of the way! Here are some details:

May 20th — Exclusive cover reveal at Joyfully Jay. That all-powerful sorceress herself, the Lady Tiferet, has designed the cover and it is, in her words, “panty-melting.”

May 21st — Ebooks are available for pre-order.

June 7th —  Release week & review tour blitz begins! More details on this to come… Print books should also go on sale that week.

I invite you to sign up for my brand-spanking-new newsletter, which you can see if you refresh the page. The first newsletter will go out this week, with fun bonuses and exclusive excerpts to come!

Hope you’ll all join me in giving Hiero and Tim a warm welcome to the romance world!

Selina

A Letter to Polly Jean

 

Dearest Polly,

Tomorrow night will be the first time I see an entire concert of yours live after 20+ years of being a fan. There was that time in Shepherd’s Bush, but my friend Gill and I had to leave early to catch the last train back to uni. And you opened for U2 that one time, but opening sets aren’t full sets and, as always, I was left wanting more. As I no doubt will be even after the last strum of your guitar tomorrow night because, where I’m concerned, there’s never enough of you, Polly.

You are one of the artists who showed me what kind of woman I wanted to be. Sitting in my teenage bedroom, blasting To Bring You My Love, your heartbroken, vengeful wail screamed of the things my introverted self could not. I wanted to purr at my lover down by the water, ravish him with my long snake moan. Rail at him until he wanted to be rid of me, call the betraying snake every name in the book. You taught me that feminism and melodrama were not mutually exclusive. That a romantic sensibility was nothing to be ashamed of. That there was strength in traditionally “female” emotions like longing, despair, and ecstasy. That a woman armed with her own words and a guitar is its own form of resistance.

You spoke for us: the shy girls, the insecure girls, the voiceless and the abused girls. You gave us an anthem; you made us bold. You helped us own our sexuality and our desire. Your ferocious, aching caterwaul echoed through our minds long after your songs ended, spurring us to action in our own lives. The images and ideas your lyrics conjured sank in deep, encouraging us to be vulnerable in love, to find shelter in ourselves, to create, to emote, to risk, to contemplate.

Your music achieves moments of sublimity that rival the greatest poets of our time. The swagger and growl of “Man-Size”. The operatic finale of “The Dancer”. The erotic tease of “Hardly Wait”. The sensual susurration of “Slow Drug”. The mellow opulence of “Beautiful Feeling”. The spare and devastating final words of “White Chalk”, “Scratch my palms / There’s blood on my hands”. The giddy rush of “Cat on the Wall”. The indelible lilt to your voice when you sing “The scent of thyme carried on the wind” in “On Battleship Hill”. The lyric that woke me up to my own power as a teen, “Lick my legs / I’m on fire / Lick my legs / Of desire”–the first time I had ever heard a woman demand pleasure from her partner.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that ours has been a love affair. One-sided. Epistolary. Unrequited. Tempestuous. Full of yearning from afar, ecstatic highs, prolonged absences, promises kept and broken. But always the words, the music, the voice, the guitar.

“You breathing into my mouth / I’ll take it / I’ll take it for you / You wanna sing / Then sing it through me / You got something / Left to say”.

And I can hardly bloody wait to hear it.

All my love,

Selina

Five Way to Fix #TheFlash

I didn’t want to love The Flash. Even after seeing Grant Gustin’s infectious performance on two episodes of mothership Arrow, I greeted the many promos for the show’s debut with a shrug or an eye roll. But I tuned in anyway, and that first season was something no superhero show had been since I was a kid watching OG Wonder Woman Lynda Carter swing her golden lasso: fun. A ridiculous amount of fun, in fact. Season 1 The Flash eschewed all the grimdark portentousness of the DC universe, instead imbuing a science-positive coming of age story with a lightning-fast touch. The writers packed all the thrills and excitement of the show into one simple line: “Run, Barry, run!”

Season 2 had some stumbles, but stayed the course, delivering a solid show with a great villain in Zoom, not to mention the epic crossovers with Arrow. But the season finale saw Barry make a huge mistake in initiating Flashpoint, a move that seemed motivated more by the writers’ manipulations than the character’s personality. Season 3 has had moments that returned to form–the Arrowverse crossover, episodes like “The Present” and “Dead or Alive”–but continues to suffer from some potentially fatal flaws, alienating the audience with inconsistent character motivations, some very retro morals, and angst for the sake of angst.

If it weren’t for the strength of the cast, led by outstanding turns by Gustin, Tom Cavanagh, Jesse L. Martin, and Carlos Valdes, I would have turned out long ago. But I just can’t quit the characters I’ve loved for three seasons. The show still has so much potential and, as we’ve seen with Arrow this year, the writers can still turn things around.

And I’ve got five (humble) suggestions for how to drag this show out of the Speed Force and back to Earth 1…

No more keeping secrets, period. I get it. Secret identities are a superhero show’s bread and butter. But The Flash has washed-rinsed-repeated this particular trope too many times to count. A character learns something that will upset someone else/the group. He/she hides this for several episodes, until the truth is finally forced out. Everyone gets angry. The team splinters. Bad things happen. They come together to learn the valuable lesson that they are stronger as a team when they are honest with each other.

But the lesson never sticks. It’s gotten so absurd that almost every week someone is keeping something vital and life-shattering from someone else, leading the show to go through the same emotional beats over and over again. Imagine the drama that could be wrought from them being upfront and honest with each other. The truth can be terrifying. Loving someone but deeply disagreeing with them can be heart-wrenching. Actually earning one another’s trust and having it stick, having them act as a team and still lose–that’s real drama. Regardless, there are so many other ways to create drama and conflict between the characters. Writers, it’s time to dig another well (but no more Wells’s, please).

Retire the speedster villains. First it was Reverse Flash. Then Zoom. Now Savitar. I think we’ve exhausted the speedster rogues’ gallery. (Alas, I know that’s not really true. But comic books are not TV shows, and you need to change it up, stat.) Doctor Alchemy had a different skill set, but he’s done now. Maybe part of the reason the plots keep recycling is that the villains are too similar and how the heroes defeat them is starting to have a same-y quality. For season 4, please challenge the team in a new way.

Give the supporting characters stronger storylines. Nobody ever does their job on this show, unless, like Cisco and Caitlin, their job is “support The Flash”. We haven’t seen Joe genuinely investigate anything as a detective since season 1. Iris got one episode where she did some investigative reporting this season, but it was coupled with her going against Barry and Joe’s wishes. Julian and Barry have both ceased to be crime scene techs altogether, and I don’t even think Wally has a job. Why does every story have to involve the whole Flash team and take place in Star Labs? Why not give Joe a spotlight episode based on an actual crime? Have Caitlin called somewhere to use her doctoring talents? Have an old friend approach Cisco to design him something amazing and have it go horribly wrong? You have one of the strongest ensembles on TV. Give them more to do.

Stop fridging and stereotyping the female characters. It’s getting kind of gross, to be honest, the way Iris has almost entirely given up her life–and might literally sacrifice it–since she and Barry got together. The writers have never really known how to use her and, while the WestAllen romance has increased her screen time, it’s given rise to such 1950s-esque moments as Joe chiding Barry for not asking his permission before he proposed to Iris, and then Iris chiding Barry for the exact same thing! Because God forbid Iris decide for herself who she wants to marry, or put her job before her relationship, or push back against the helicopter parenting/boyfriending of the two main men in her life. Not to mention the fact that the entire season hinges on Barry’s vision of her being killed, which we have to see over and over, as the various men figure out how to save her. Wouldn’t it be great if, in the end, Iris saves herself.

I’m equally baffled by the Caitlin storyline this year. I don’t think we ever got an explanation why her getting powers means she automatically has to fight this inner evil twin that constantly threatens to overtake her life. Way to promote the idea that women + power = evil, writers. Earth 1 Caitlin has never been evil–why would getting powers make her so? Why is Killer Frost written like a second identity/possessing demon? I understand wanting her to struggle to come to terms with her powers; I don’t understand why that struggle has to be against an ‘evil’ persona, or why she has to restrain herself when Wally is getting training for his new powers (women + power = danger!), or why it’s always a man who manages to bring her back to herself. “I’m scared of this thing inside of me” can be an effective plot, but there’s too much gender-loaded baggage here.

It would also be nice if, you know, the two women on the show were friends. Take a page from Riverdale, The Flash.

Barry needs to stop being such a dick. In the hands of a lesser actor, a lot of people would have tapped out on Barry by now. Grant Gustin is a jewel, and they need to pay him all the money for how he salvages their mediocre, repetitive storylines and selfish version of Barry. The show falls over itself to underline what a great leader Barry is without providing a shred of evidence to prove it. Every time Barry is challenged in the slightest way by someone on the team, he pulls ranks and acts out like a cranky toddler. Every time he’s tried to teach Wally or Jesse or someone about their powers and they make a mistake, he flips out on them and tries to fix everything himself. He regularly goes into “bullying jock” mode when threatened. He is a horrible teacher. He keeps essential, life-threatening secrets from his team. He makes decisions based on personal griefs, which screws things up catastrophically for everyone else, then sulks about it when someone points it out. These are not the actions of a capable leader. They are the reactions of a guy still maturing into adulthood. Which would be fine, if the narrative acknowledged that Barry is still on his journey to adulthood. Yet time and again, we’re told how great Barry is, quite a lot of evidence to the contrary. I mean, the guy proposed to his girlfriend just to change the future! Classic dick move. The only place we really get to see this wise and capable Barry is in the crossovers, when he’s dealing with Oliver/Green Arrow or Supergirl. I wish that Barry was the star of The Flash. Now he’s a guy I would follow anywhere.

Everything I’ve said here come from a place of love. I don’t want to tune out. I want The Flash to be awesome again. I know this is the family show in the Arrowverse, but that doesn’t mean it has to be repetitive, inconsistent, or flirt with sexism. And while we’re at it, how about some serious LGBTQ representation? There are currently three straight couples on the show. And the POCs often get shoved into their own marginalized subplots, away from the main action.

I criticize because I love, The Flash. Because we need a hero with Barry Allen’s spirit and optimism in these troubled times. He’s a speedster, after all–nothing wrong with keeping him on his toes.

Breakdancing with B.

My amazing friend M. texted me one Saturday as I rushed through my errands. We were celebrating her 40th birthday party that night, and she wondered if I could give someone named B. a lift. We made the arrangements, I got his details, and a few hours later, I picked him up from the metro. Only then did I realize that B. was the Syrian refugee student M. had convinced her college to sponsor.

Excited but worried about putting my foot in my mouth–apparently under the delusion it doesn’t permanently reside there–we set off. B. was lovely and shy, still adjusting to life in Canada and our winter deep-freeze. I broke the ice by immediately saying the dumbest thing imaginable, which he took very graciously. I struggled to treat him like a normal guy while desperate to ask him all the things I shouldn’t. About experiences that can’t be put into words. About languages and barriers and atrocities no human should ever witness. About the country he loved but barely escaped alive. About the journey to this place of refuge that will never replace his homeland.

We found common ground in the student experience and in our love of art. It lifted my heart to know that M.’s efforts had given a fellow artist a chance at a new life. B.’s passion is for breakdancing, and he hopes to collaborate on multi-media projects with his artist sister, who also emigrated. He’s young, that might change. But now he has choices.

In Syria, his parents forced him to study law. Here, he’s free to study what he wants, to create, to risk, to grow, to express himself to his fullest. I cannot wait to see what his future holds, how his talent, ambition, and life experience will be expressed through his art.

B. is the kind of person we are keeping out when we refuse refugees, when we build walls, when we let our politicians get away with the kind of racist and xenophobic rhetoric that is overtaking the world. The kind that inspired another young man around the same age as B., Alexandre Bissonnette, to commit an act of terrorism in the very province that B. came to escape that kind of violence. It enrages me and it breaks my heart that this place where I live, that I have called home for over 40 years, contains so much promise and, at the same time, so much ignorance. That we can welcome with one hand and shoot with the other.

This cannot stand. We cannot let it. People who watched their homes, their cities, their entire way of life be ravaged by war are asking us for help. Who are we if we turn them away? In ways small and large, we can make a difference.

The way that felt right for me was by setting up a monthly donation to the UN Refugee Agency, also known as the UNHCR. They are the world’s leading organization in helping those displaced by violence, conflict, and persecution find shelter, food, water, and medical care. You can donate as little as $20 a month, or do a one-time donation, or help with fundraising activities.

You can also give back by writing to your federal, provincial, or state politicians. By doing something charitable for the refugees in your community. By helping spread the word on your own blogs and social media. By taking on those with racist attitudes in your immediate circle.

By being the change you want to see in the world, one small step, one small gesture at a time.

Best Books 2016

When your profession is writer/editor, idle time is always guilt time. Instead of an angel and a devil sitting on my shoulders, I have a two little dachshunds yapping “Why aren’t you writing?” whenever I have some free time. I decided to silence them with treats this year, in the form of dedicating a few hours after work three times a week to my own personal writing projects. While that has resulted in two, possibly three books that will likely see the light of day (via self-publishing) this year, there was a cost. And it was, alas, my reading time that paid most dearly.

So, while the five books I’m spotlighting this year are more than worthy of being on any best-of list, if you notice any major omissions (like, say, Hexmaker or one of Harper Fox’s treasures), it’s not because I didn’t like those books. It’s because I didn’t read them. Yet. But I did read a bunch of new-to-me authors this year, and I’ve given them some precedence over favorites I’ve mentioned many times before. Basically, the fine print is that this is more of a “Here are five great books” list than a definitive list of the best of 2016. The good news being there are just too many good books to read in the LGBTQ+ community and the publishing world at large. In a year that earned a permanent black mark in a lot of people’s memories, there are worse problems to have.

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Everyone in the LGBTQ+ romance community raved about this book, and everyone was right. A pitch-perfect “rub each other the wrong way until they rub each other right” historical with a strong mystery plot, you will fall in love with the endearing yet flawed characters, cursing why their world acts to keep them apart while swooning over the meticulous period detail. Scrumptious.

 

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Don’t overlook this little gem, a 1920s-set historical spy thriller featuring a cross-dressing analyst with big ambitions and a world-wary spook whose past comes back to haunt him. Together, they attempt to foil a major anarchist plot while trying hard not to fall for each other. The perfect setup for what will hopefully be a long and thrilling series. Devoured it over my vacation.

 

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Please judge this book by its gorgeous cover! (The best of the year, IMHO.) Voinov is at the absolute top of his game in this heart-wrenching romance about finding your people and embracing the life you want to lead. Lars is a bit of a loner who takes pride in his work and in helping people. He finds a worthy project in both Rhys’ house and Rhys himself. But he wouldn’t be able to succeed without the help of the coven that embraces both him and his heathen beliefs. This one will give you the big-time warm and fuzzies.

 

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I mean, what can I say about KJ Charles at this point? She brings it every single time. The third book in her Society of Gentlemen series, and the one I was most looking forward to. And, boy, did it deliver. Lord Richard Vane finds himself besotted with his ginger-haired valet, the wily David Cyprian. A passionate argument about class, morality, agency, and devotion ensues, along with more than a few misadventures. This book will challenge your preconceived notions of romance conventions while giving you all the romantic goodness you crave. Delicious and nutritious.

 

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No, this is not a romance novel. It’s a survival kit. Brian K. Vaughn does it again, spinning the cultural markers and anxieties of our present day woes into golden, riveting storytelling. Marcos Martin’s jaw-dropping art brings Vaughan’s dystopian carnival ride to life. You will laugh, sometimes at yourself. Your heart will race. You’ll look on our world with new eyes. A masterpiece.

Hit me up in the comments with some of your favorite books of 2016. Because my TBR list isn’t long enough. 😉

 

 

Best TV 2016

I love serials. I won’t lie and say the words “To be continued”, whether written onscreen or implied, haven’t ever infuriated me–the end of the first season of Sherlock comes to mind. But there’s something I relish about the wait between episodes, between seasons, even between projects. Given how dense and complex some series are now, I appreciate the week or two break to digest what’s just transpired and speculate as to what might come next. Which is why you will never find me bingeing on more than two episodes a night. To watch a TV show all at once is, in my opinion, something of a waste. A good story, well-told, should be savored. The angsting is part of the fun.

Here are the ten fictional TV series that I watched in 2016 that gave me the most enjoyment (with bonus one-shots at the end), in no particular order.

The Americans (season 4)-You all better start watching this criminally underrated series about Russian spies hiding in plain sight at the height of the Cold War. It’s become a lot more timely. This season in particular was outstanding. Television is so often about avoiding consequences and maintaining status quo. Not on this show.

Game of Thrones (season 6)-This wasn’t its strongest season, but it will always have a place on this list. “Battle of the Bastards” is possibly one of the best episodes of television of all time.

The Night Manager (one and done)-More spy games, in picturesque European locations with a stellar cast and an exceptional director. Come for Hiddles, stay for Hugh Laurie and Olivia Coleman–I would say career-best performances, but they are always this good.

The People vs. OJ Simpson (anthology series)-Recontextualizing one of the most misunderstood trials and periods in US history. I lived through this, but I didn’t really understand it until I watched this show.

The Path (season 1)-I’ve always been a little obsessed with cult-like religions, and this fictional series about a very Scientology/Mormon-like religious cult is both fascinating and deeply emotional. An underrated gem.

Mr. Robot (season 2)-People were hypercritical of this season, but to me it was just as good as the first. Sam Esmail is doing things that will only be understood by media scholars 50 years from now. One of the most topical shows on TV.

And Then There Were None (one and done)-Exceptional adaptation of one of Agatha Christie’s best books. Made something I’ve read and re-read a dozen times scary all over again. Best Christie adaptation, period. Also, Aiden Turner in a towel.

Gilmore Girls (event series)-Loved every single second of being back with my girls, Lorelai, Emily, and Rory. Good for the heart, mind, soul, and funny bone. Perfect ending to a groundbreaking series.

iZombie (season 2)-This fun, riveting series really hit its stride in a brilliant second season. Rob Thomas has the knack for writing flawed but endearing characters that just get under your skin. Also, Ravi is the best!

Orphan Black (season 4)-My beautiful sestras! Loved how this season turned inward, revisiting its own origins while mining the core relationships for absolute gold. You cannot miss the magic trick of Tatiana Maslany’s performance as all five lead roles, and a few supporting characters along the way.

Honorable mentions:

Westworld (season 1), Victoria (season 1), American Crime (season 2), Transparent (season 2), Marvel’s Luke Cage (season 1), London Spy (one and done), Search Party (season 1), Eyewitness (season 1), Black Mirror’s “San Junipero” and “Nosedive” episodes

Biggest belly-flop: UnReal (season 2)

This is why I never read the book: War & Peace (one and done)

Show is good, costumes are exquisite: Outlander (season 2)

No, but seriously, that can’t be the end: Penny Dreadful (season 3-final season)

Most improved: Arrow (season five)

Most in need of improvement: The Flash (season 3)

Biggest disappointment: Daredevil (season 2)

It’s really fun, but I’m not sure if it’s any good: The Get Down (first half of season 1)

Hall of Fame: This is the first year Mad Men is not eligible to be on this list, and that makes me more than a little sad.