Introducing Unapologetic GAY Romance Under New Pen Name

Unapologetic Gay Romance because Love Needs No Excuses

Our world generally sucks. Children die from poison-gas in Syria, drown in the ocean while trying to get away from slaughter, and are abused again and again (Hungary, anybody?) because they dare to want to survive. And that’s just in the so-called 3rd world countries.

In our oh-so-civilized nations, street kids get hooked on drugs, work as prostitutes, are abandoned by their parents, the state, most adults they ever come in touch with.

Looking at all the shit in the news every day, forgive me if I try to find a glimmer of hope amongst the suffering. And if people find and cling onto each other, for comfort, support, and yes, love, I want to cherish that. It’s a fricking miracle it happens at all!

So that’s why my motto is Unapologetic Romances Because Love Needs No Excuses

Let Me Take This a Little Further

Love is love. What that means is that as long as people love each other, I don’t give a toss whether they’re attracted to male, female, queer, trans, whatever.

After humming and hawing for months, I’ve finally decided to take the plunge and launch my new website dedicated to m/m romance writing.

In order to avoid confusiong my readers—although I’d be more than happy to take anybody along on this journey—, I’ll publish my gay romance novels under the pen name EJ Smyth

If You Haven’t Read in the Gay Romance Genre Yet, Here’s Your Chance

The first time I read a gay romance novel, I was blown away. Apart from the hotness factor (and yes, if you don’t like steamy, this may not be the genre for you!), the writing was incredible. Fast-paced, awesome characterization, fascinating dynamics between the main characters.

If you’re interested, here’s a list of a couple of writers I’d highly recommend. One thing you’ll find is that gay romance books cost more than regular romance books. However, most of them are also in Kindle Unlimited, so it’s not all bad!

N.R. Walker

One of my favorite writers in the genre. She’s Australian and has written a series of books, set in the outback. It’s a fish-out-of-water romance, both from the Aussie farmer’s and American student’s point-of-view. Just adorable!

Red Dirt Heart

 

 

Cronin’s Key

N.R. Walker is a hugely prolific writer. I honestly can’t keep up with her publishing speed. If your thing is more Urban Fantasy Romance, check out Cronin’s Key. It has just been released as an audiobook with one of my favorite voice-actors Joel Froom. Well worth a listen!

 

And just to give you a flavor of what else she writes, here is a story about an overweight guy with massive self-esteem problems whose personal trainer helps him fall in love with himself. And with the trainer. You know what I mean 😀 Anyway, the story is ADORABLE!

The Weight of It All

 

Madeleine Urban

She wrote a series of thrillers that revived a genre that I’d given up on reading because it’d become so predictable.

It’s a classic enemy-to-friends-to-lovers story. The characters are stubborn assholes, two FBI agents that hate each others’ gut. So much sass, humor, drama, angst, cuteness—I couldn’t stop reading.

Cut & Run

I wrote a review for this book and the series which you can read here.

 

Josh Lanyon

An author who has defined the genre. Incredibly prolific albeit not always consistent. This series hits it out of the park, though.

Adrien English, an unassuming bookstore owner, is accused of murder and has to clear his name. His nemesis is a homophobic detective who’s convinced Adrien is guilty. Adrien suffers from an acquired heart condition, but is certainly no swooning maiden to be rescued. Far from it! Very funny, touching, reminiscent of classic British detective stories of the 1940s.

Fatal Shadows

Here is the review for the book as well!

JL Merrow

Staying with the British theme, JL Merrow’s books are set in the UK. Her dialogue is pure Brit, and her characters are guys I recognize from my time in London. The series I enjoyed most is unfortunately on hold until 2018, along with Camwolf about a reluctant werewolf in Cambridge.

 

 

There are other books like the Shamwell Tales (think Midsumer Murders) because JL Merrow is another prolific writer with a huge back catalogue.

Plumber’s Mate Series

 

 

Amy Lane

The last author I’d like to recommend writes Magical Realism. Her Candy Man series may not be hard-hitting social criticism but it’s cute, fluffy, humorous and exciting. Pure relaxation.

Candy Man

 

 

And if you want to read funny, here is Shiny! A story about a very, very clumsy guy who needs rescuing from himself. Hilarious!

Shiny!

 

 

 

I hope you like my short list. I’d compiled it for a German friend of mine who had only just started reading in the genre and needed help. There’s a lot more books out there!

What do you think, have you read any of them? Would you recommend others?

And don’t forget to pop over to my new site to pick up a free, very sexy short story!

Romantic Urban Fantasy–Wanna See as Graphic Novel?

Spirit Hunger Graphic Novel—One Day!

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Now that my novel is published and has gathered some really nice reviews on Amazon, I’m looking into the future. WAY, WAY into the future. Like, let’s say, 5 years?

As you must be aware by now, I’ve enjoyed the writing process so immensely that I’ve fallen in love with my characters. Apparently, that happens often with writers…

Anyways, because I love Adi and Honi so much, I want to see them in another medium than print. So I’ve dusted off my digital drawing board, signed up with PencilKings, and I’m re-learning how to draw.

What’s Involved?

Lots of time, I’m afraid. The timeline for my romantic urban fantasy is literally five years because apart from perfecting drawing techniques and software, so much goes into making a graphic novel.

Thankfully, the heaviest lifting is already done because I created a detailed outline for romantic urban fantasy novel, outlining 70 scenes. So I know which scenes are pivotal and deserve a double-spread, for example.

Here is an example of the first couple of scenes:

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Timeplan for my Romantic Urban Fantasy Graphic Novel

  • Year 1-3: Learn how to draw both realistically, and how to reduce the sketches to a graphic style, yet to be determined;
  • Year 4: Creating thumbnail layouts;
  • Year 5: Pull it all together into an actual graphic novel

So far, the experience has been awesome. I took a drawing class here in Frankfurt where I’m learning the basics. The next one will start next month, and I can’t wait!

The owl is something we did in 90 minutes in order to learn to see detail in a photograph. I love creating sketches and drawings in pencil where I only need to worry about tone rather than color…

First Character Sketches

We were given a challenge this month of April to create a baseline character, then create different expressions. At the beginning of the post, I\’ve given you my hero Honi with a serious face. Here he is with angry and confused expressions. Let me know what you think!

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Can’t wait to show you guys more of the Spirit Walker world. I’ll keep you informed, and if you want to receive more info, you can subscribe to my newsletter and get the prequel Spirit Quest as well.

Talk to you soon!

P.S. Please note that all artwork is protected under the license below. That means you can\’t use it for your own projects commercially, but you can share it and modify it! In fact, fan art is seriously welcome!

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Introducing Spirit Elfen

German-Cheyenne Crossover? Seriously?

winnetouoldshatterhandThe working title Spirit Elfen gives you a clue to my own background (Elfen is German for Elves).

I’m German bred and raised but always had a huge interest in American Indian mythology and history. Which isn’t as weird as it sounds – there is a massive interest in US Western history in Germany, mainly due to late 19th century writer Karl May who strangely never made it to North America. His main heroes are blood brothers Old Shatterhand and Winnetou, Chief of the Apaches. The books are still as popular today as they were 120 years ago. Doesn’t hurt that the 1960 actors Pierre Brice and Lex Barker (of Tarzan fame) were seriously gorgeous!

I don’t personally know any Cheyenne people and while I will do my best to be respectful to beliefs and culture, Spirit Elfen is fiction. So if any Cheyenne out there feel like they want to help me with local and tribal knowledge, please contact me! I would be very appreciative 🙂

So What is Spirit Elfen About?

I got up early, wrote 1500 words yesterday, feel motivated to write more today and generally, had a blast researching images for my pinterest board Spirit Elfen. So here is my quick and dirty summary:

Adi who dreams of earning her hostile family’s respect, begins to suffer from hallucinations that rapidly drive her to the edge of sanity. Honiahaka, a young Cheyenne  student, has the answer to her problems but isn’t sure that helping Adi is worth interrupting his studies. Soon the situation spirals out of control and both Adi and Honi are drawn into a whirlwind of spiritual and physical danger. Can the knowledge of Cheyenne and German mythology offer the answer to survival? Or is the difference in their backgrounds too large to overcome?

I love the tension between the heroine’s mundane life and her heritage. She’s been forced to fight against her family’s and her own expectations. Even harder to find out that everything she thought she knew, doesn’t apply anymore. Good thing she meets a mysterious boy who might help her?

Ooooh, I’m excited to write this!

Meet the Romantic Leads of Spirit Elfen

The images are representative of the casting I envisage, should this book ever be optioned for a movie (one can dream, no?) Obviously they’re totally cliche, but hey, it’s my Kopfkino (cinema inside my head) as we say here 🙂

Adi Gutseel

KateMaraAdi’s mom was German and her dad is from a very wealthy family. When he married beneath his station, his family wasn’t happy and particularly his mother (Adi’s Grandmother) hated her daughter-in-law. Adi stayed in Germany for most of her childhood and teenage years because of the friction. Her father wisely set up a trust-fund in her name that his family can only access if Adi is declared mentally unfit toKateMara2 handle her own finances.

The story begins as Adi pursues a German degree to fulfill her dream of one day teaching the language and culture herself.

Adi is very plain looking (at least at the beginning), a hard-working student who suffered some trauma in her childhood when she experienced visions. Her parents were so worried about the mental health that Adi had to undergo psychiatric treatment until her hallucinations went away. She has very low self-esteem and is desperate to gain respect from her peers, her teachers and above all, her family.

Honiahaka Clearsight Fisher

Martin Sensmeier3 Honi is a young Cheyenne student whose studies are financed by his extended family and tribe. He is mentored by a family friend who understands Honi’s gift of being able to see Spirit Animals. In this ‘verse, Spirit Animals represent people’s souls and character, and Honi has spent years of rigorous training learning to control his gift. He is a gorgeous dork, isolated from the rest of the students who think he’s weird. When he’s with his family, he comes into his own, proud, self-confident but at Uni, he’s introvert and ill at ease.

When he meets Adi, he sees her for who she is but has to take a decision whether helping her is worth interrupting his studies and potentially disappointing his sponsors.

The two are such odd-balls, pushed apart because of totally different backgrounds and goals in life, but drawn together because of their shared Gift but also very very strong chemistry. Yep, there will be physical reactions like lighting strikes!

And yes, I will allow my kids to read an edited version of the final book 🙂

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Fatal Shadows by Josh Lanyon

Fatal Shadows by Josh Lanyon

My rating:  5 of 5 stars

Fatal Shadows Josh LanyonThe story

One sunny morning Los Angeles bookseller and aspiring mystery author Adrien English opens his front door to murder. His old high school buddy (and employee) has been found stabbed to death in a back alley following a loud and very public argument with Adrien the previous evening.

Naturally the cops want to ask Adrien a few questions; they are none too impressed with his answers, and when a few hours later someone breaks into Adrien’s shop and ransacks it, the law is inclined to think Adrien is trying to divert suspicion from himself.

Adrien knows better. Adrien knows he is next on the killer’s list.

My take on it

Somebody pointed me towards Josh Lanyon and boy, am I glad they did! Given that Josh is listed under LBTG and Gay Thriller / Romance on Amazon, I probably wouldn’t have discovered these books by myself. I started reading Fatal Shadows without being aware that the protagonist and love interest are both male. Not that it made the slightest bit of difference – I finished the book within a day and a half, it was that awesome 🙂

The protagonist is Adrien English, mystery writer and owner of the Cloak and Dagger bookstore in LA. Adrien is a kick-ass, yet strangely vulnerable hero. An acquired heart condition makes it difficult for him to tolerate sudden physical or emotional stress. He doesn’t let it hold him back but occasionally, his physical condition impacts on the plot. I love the way the author has handled this. Rather than dump a physical handicap on the hero as a means of making him more interesting, the heart condition is an integral part of the plot.

Adrien becomes the suspect in the murder of one of his oldest friends and employees. Jake Riordan, one of the detectives investigating the case, is bisexual but so far in the closet, he’d do pretty much anything to not be exposed. There is an immediate attraction between the two men which grows stronger throughout the book. Both men are struggling against it for different reasons.

What made the book so amazing to me is the wealth of supporting characters, from Adrien’s overbearing mother to the members of a book writing group meeting at Cloak and Dagger. Add this to the cohesive plot, great characterisation, very cool dialogue and the at times lyrical descriptions, you have an exciting thriller with a great romance woven through, with a touch of 1940s noir storytelling.

View all my reviews

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Do you agree? Did you like it? Share your thoughts and comments below!