Guest Post: Steel Blood Blog Tour and Excerpt

Today, I have a little something different for you all, an excerpt of J.L. Gribble’s latest, Steel Blood! Vampires! Alternate history! Intrigue!

About the book:

Steel-Blood-Jacket.inddAs her children begin lives of their own, Victory struggles with the loneliness of an empty nest. Just when the city of Limani could not seem smaller, an old friend requests that she come out of retirement for one final mercenary contract—to bodyguard his granddaughter, a princess of the Qin Empire.

For the first time in a century, the Qin and British Empires are reopening diplomatic relations. Alongside the British delegation, Victory and her daywalker Mikelos arrive in the Qin colony city of Jiang Yi Yue. As the Qin weredragons and British werewolves take careful steps toward a lasting peace between their people, a connection between the Qin princess and a British nobleman throw everyone’s plans in disarray.

Meanwhile, a third faction stalks the city under the cover of darkness.

This is not a typical romance. It’s a good thing Victory is not a typical vampire.


The following scene takes place near the beginning of Steel Blood, when Victory and Mikelos have arrived in the Qin Empire’s colonial city of Jiang Yi Yue. As a vampire, Victory was prepared to wait on the ship until night fell to safely transfer to the palace and begin her mercenary contract as a bodyguard to the Qin princess. But the British delegation would have none of that, and arranged for alternative transportation.

When the elevator finished its descent, the doors opened to reveal a spacious lobby. She flinched out of habit, but like at the top of the tower, shutters blocked all of the windows. A stretch limousine, similar to those Victory had seen on the streets of Roma two years ago, sat in the center of the large room. The cavernous space was otherwise empty except for the small cluster of uniformed Qin gawking behind one of the ticket counters. No one in Limani owned such an outrageous town-car. The amount of electricity it took to run must be astronomical.

“The governor has sent his personal vehicle,” Tan said with calm inflection, as if refusing to acknowledge how ridiculous this entire adventure had become. “The tint on the windows is adequate protection against the sun for you.” He gave Victory a short bow.

“Not to be crass,” Mikelos said, approaching the ostentatious town-car and running a finger over a rear window, “but how sure are you of that?” Victory followed him and opened the back door, examining the glass from both sides.

Still unruffled, Tan said, “Last month there was an emergency in the mountains that would have caught a priest out during the day. The governor sent this vehicle then as well, and Brother Shi was retrieved without incident.”

If Governor Yu sent his own transportation to rescue wayward vampires on a regular basis, that was good enough for Victory. She nodded at Mikelos, who handed her into the town-car. She slid down the bench seat toward the front of the vehicle, and Mikelos and the Brits joined her. Tan sat in the front passenger seat.

They all gave a startled twitch as the engine rumbled to life. In Limani, the colonies, and most of Europa, only larger trucks used precious gasoline and diesel. Personal vehicles had all been electric for going on fifty years now, once the families and corporations controlling the desert oil fields in southeastern Europa choked their exports to a trickle after the Last War.

Rob’s nostrils flared. “Ethanol,” he said. “I’d almost forgotten.”

“I’m sorry?” Victory said.

“This engine is running on sugar cane,” Rob said, exchanging smug grins with Guy.

Reynolds straightened with pride. “That’s right. Ethanol is one of the exports for which we hope to establish more rights.”

Victory tucked this tidbit in the back of her mind to bring to Limani’s city council when she got home. But before she could ask about the cost of shipping the ethanol versus continuing research into developing effective electric engines for larger vehicles, the town-car pulled out of the docking tower and into the sun.

A hiss of pain escaped Mikelos, and Victory eased the grip she had on his thigh. She leaned closer to the window and pressed the palm of her hand against the glass. The town-car fell silent, and she knew the three Brits must be staring at her odd reaction, but she ignored them.


This part of the city was unremarkable, cast in late-afternoon shadow and indistinguishable from any other major port she’d been in except for the Qin lettering on signs and the people traveling the streets. But her attention trailed up the side of the mountain to the shanty neighborhoods perching above the city. Light dappled the buildings painted a myriad of bright colors from whatever materials the occupants could scrounge. Then the trees and plants farther up the cliffs, shimmering in hues of green she’d never seen outside of a television screen. Green the color of emeralds and the shadow of her foster son’s earth magic.

Perched upon the mountain sat a carved dragon, overlooking the city with diamond eyes that glinted in the sunlight. It sat proud on its haunches, with one clawed hand raised in welcome and fantastical stone wings outstretched, embracing the city in its shelter. Though it appeared tiny from this distance, she knew it was over a hundred feet tall, even without counting the base.

“That is a hell of a sculpture,” Rob said. He and Guy had been sucked into the sights as well, though probably for much different reasons.

“Jiushizhu Statue,” Reynolds said, naming the famous landmark. “Cement and soapstone.”

“Ben knows everything, as usual,” Guy said, but his voice lacked malice as he also pressed his face to the town-car’s window.

The vehicle shifted direction, aiming for the palace nestled on the smaller mountain between the city’s two main beaches. And Victory was enraptured again by something else she’d never expected to see in person, despite the protective glass.

The ocean, shimmering light blue in the sun. To her, water was always black, perhaps with sparkling reflections of the moon and stars. Not this blinding expanse of turquoise, highlighted gold by the early evening sun.

A thumb touched her cheek, and Victory turned her face into Mikelos’ hand as he wiped away the tear she hadn’t noticed trailing down her face. He sucked the smear of blood from his finger. Instead of watching the city, he’d been watching her, and the expression on his face almost made her tear up again. This might wreck her badass vampire mercenary image for Rob and Guy, but she didn’t much care at the moment.

“I’d forgotten,” Mikelos said. His breath tickled her ear as he leaned close.

Unlike most vampires, her first death hadn’t been a choice. Asaron had brought her back from the brink after she’d experienced a traumatic brain injury at the hands of the bandits he’d been contracted to hunt. While most of her had healed in the transformation to vampire, she had no memories of her human life.

This was the first time she had seen the sun outside of a movie or television screen in over eight hundred years. Rob would never know how precious a gift he’d given her as a result of his reckless whim.

Buy links:

About the author:

Gribble photo colorBy day, J. L. Gribble is a professional medical editor. By night, she does freelance fiction editing in all genres, along with reading, playing video games, and occasionally even writing. She is currently working on the Steel Empires series for Dog Star Books, the science-fiction/adventure imprint of Raw Dog Screaming Press. Previously, she was an editor for the Far Worlds anthology.

Gribble studied English at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. She received her Master’s degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, where her debut novel Steel Victory was her thesis for the program.

She lives in Ellicott City, Maryland, with her husband and three vocal Siamese cats. Find her online (, on Facebook (, and on Twitter and Instagram (@hannaedits).

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! I’m with family and just spent the entire day with my niece. She’s five. We played many, many rounds of the Pretty Pretty Princess game, then ran around like loons at a playground.

Hope those that celebrated had a good day, and those that didn’t… still had a good day. 🙂 I’m grateful for any day I can spend with the people I care about.

Just to recap, I have book give-aways for Close Quarter over at Kids, Coffee, & Chaos and Kay Berrisford’s Blog. I’ll be running these through Sunday, since I’m currently on the road. Please feel free to comment over at either or both blogs.

Also, I’m hosting Jessica Freely in celebration of her latest release, His Own Devices. She’s giving away one of her backlist titles to a commenter until Sunday.

And I’m hosting Kay Berrisford in celebration of her latest release, Simon, Sex, and the Solstice Stone. She’s also giving away a backlist title to a commenter, also until Sunday.

So lots going on, this Turkey-day weekend! Feel free to wander around this weekend to these different giveaways. 😀 What’s better than a free book?

Guest Post: Kay Berrisford with Simon, Sex, and the Solstice Stone

Today, I’m hosting Kay Berrisford on the blog! In return, she’s hosting me over on her blog! It’s a true blog swap. Kay is here to tell us about her holiday story, Simon, Sex, and the Solstice StoneShe’s also giving away a free copy of any of her backlist titles to a random commenter, so please leave a comment! And now, take it away, Kay!

Where’s the worst place to write a Xmas/Thanksgiving novella?  Well, it turns out that it’s Tuscany in the middle of August.  Don’t get me wrong, I was very happy to be there, staying in a gorgeous villa overlooking a swathe of Chianti country, replete with vineyards and olive groves that came alive with deer and wild boar at dusk. Every morning greeted me with thirty-plus degree heat, relentless sunshine, and the prospect of a visit to a pleasant hill town or into the tourist melting pots of Florence, Siena, or San Gimignano – if I was feeling brave.  Trouble was, I had a deadline pressing for a seasonal story, and my imagination was supposed to be wallowing in the mud, rain, and fog of late November and December back home in England.

This is the point I tell you that I just closed my eyes and conjured it all from my memory.  After all, the novel was set in my home county.  I had a strong image of the characters and the stone circles and burial mounds that starred, all laced in winter mist. Still I struggled to make that leap. My imagination crawled through the medieval alleys of Volterra and had Renaissance gents snogging on the Ponte Vecchio. Tucked down a lane near where I stayed, I discovered a newly converted villa with a provocative complex of shimmering pools, manicured lawns, and outdoor furniture—including no less than two outdoor double beds. A particularly naughty contemporary romance started festering in my brain—though I worried that any al fresco lovemaking in the environs ran the risk of being interrupted by one of those roaming wild boar.

I will admit that progress on the seasonal novella was not good.  However, the holiday was over in a fortnight, and the end of August back home segued successfully into leaden skies and rain. I even made my deadline–well, nearly.  On the other hand, I’ll never say never again.  After all, if a writer’s books are going to be published “in season” it means constantly writing “out of season,” unless you’re terrible organized.  I fear I’m not.  Looking back, I wondered why writing England in Tuscany was such a challenge.  After all, my current WIP is set in the twelfth century, a culture of which I have rather less experience.  So maybe my troubles boil down to something simpler than the distracting beauties of Italy.  I’m just not good in the bloody heat!

About the Book

Simon, Sex, and the Solstice Stone cover
Published by Loose Id, m/m paranormal/time travel, 45,000 words

Simon’s holiday season is looking grim. His boyfriend’s dumped him, and his self-esteem is rock bottom. Stuck in the UK where nobody celebrates Thanksgiving, the shy, geeky student drowns his sorrows at an ancient stone circle. When a gorgeous stranger, Aubrey, shows up and attempts to seduce him, Simon is flattered but also freaked—especially when Aubrey claims to be from an historic sex cult who’d uncovered the true powers of the circle. It’s a time machine. Aubrey intended to travel back three hundred and sixty-five days, but an error propelled him forward three hundred and sixty-five years into a world alien to him.

Simon reluctantly takes the lost time traveler under his wing, and Aubrey teaches Simon the ways of sex, love, and magic. Simon’s never felt so alive, but as their bond grows, Aubrey remains determined to perform a dangerous ritual and return home at the winter solstice. Fearing he’s no more to Aubrey than a sexual sacrifice, Simon must discover the dark secrets of Aubrey’s pagan past. Only then can Simon choose between risking all for the man he loves or a lonely Christmas without him.


“Wh-why have you brought me here?” stuttered Simon. “You should have called an ambulance.”

Confusion clouded Aubrey’s sharp eyes, but he seemed to dismiss Simon’s words. “Here, drink.”

Aubrey picked up a plastic bottle of mineral water that had been in Simon’s bag, unscrewing the top with his teeth. Simon took it, and Aubrey cupped a hand about the back of his neck, lifting him so he could take a swig.

The cool liquid refreshed and wet Simon’s dry lips, but his head hurt as much as ever. As for Aubrey? The man seemed frantic to keep Simon with him.

After screwing the lid back on, Simon threw the bottle down and slumped back into the man’s lap. “Look, you can take the phone. I’ve got nothing else of value.” Well, there were the car keys in his pocket, but he was not going to draw attention to those. Strange the man hadn’t already taken them. “Just…please let me go.”

“I am not robbing you.” Aubrey stroked Simon as he might a feral cat ready to sink fangs into him any minute. “Neither would I keep you here against your will.”

“Then what the fuck are you doing?” Simon rolled off the man’s lap, catching himself on his hands, and then collapsed face-first into the carpet of leafy mulch. Feeling Aubrey’s touch on his shoulder, he turned over and glared.

Aubrey reached toward him, then snatched his hand back. “Wounds like this can be dangerous. You must—”

“What the hell do you expect me to do?” Simon moaned, pressing his hand to his head. “We’ve known each other for five minutes, and you stuck your tongue down my throat.” He’d not complained about that bit at the time, but it seemed a moot point now. “And why are you carrying a knife? It’s against the law. Don’t you know?”

Aubrey slid his hand to the hilt. Simon’s blood congealed to ice, but the man drew the dagger only to place it on the ground between them. “If it ails you so much,” he said, “I throw it down.”

Simon grabbed the weapon and examined it. Though the cutting edge had been sharpened, stained with something dark red that looked disturbingly like blood, the flat was dull and mottled through heavy use. As for the handle, with its spiral motif and slender hand guard that curved up around the hilt like a bow, Simon could jump to only one conclusion.

This weapon had been meticulously crafted and dated from the English Civil War. It looked like the kind pikemen and musketeers carried as a backup. Simon regarded Aubrey’s dress anew. The man’s short trousers had buttons at the knees, much like seventeenth-century-style breeches. The white shirt, which the rain had set clinging to Aubrey’s shoulders, could have dated from any time in the past six centuries but didn’t appear of modern cut.

“Are you with the Sealed Knot or something?” Simon placed the dagger down on his side farthest from Aubrey. “Is that why you’re camping here? You’re in one of those history reenactment groups?”

Aubrey sucked in a shaky breath and drew his fingers across his lips. “You speak of many strange things. Pray tell me. What year is this?”

“Eh?” Simon wrinkled his nose. “It’s 2012.”

“Oh ye gods.” Aubrey’s weather-bronzed face whitened.

Suspicion stole through Simon’s veins. “What’d you think it was?”

Aubrey looked so helpless. He inched his shoulders up in a shrug, and his voice cracked. “Yesterday it was 1647.”

The man’s meaning impacted Simon like a second blow to the head. “Say what?”

“I…don’t know.” Aubrey scanned the ground as if seeking answers amid the leaves and fungi. “I was supposed to go back. To undo…” He trailed off and was quiet for a long moment, squeezing his lower lip between his teeth. “Something went horribly wrong.”

“You bet it did.” Simon performed the mental mathematics. “Just assuming I believe you, and I’m not saying I do, you’ve been sent forward three hundred and sixty-five years.”

“I was supposed to go back three hundred and sixty-five days! I have to get home.” Aubrey covered his face with his hands, and Simon resisted an impulse to reach out, to comfort him. This didn’t strike him as a man easily reduced to despair.

But that was not the issue. Simon was still a captive, kind of. And Aubrey tore time? He’d actually completed that andaga ritual?

Well, the Stones were powerful—Simon harbored no doubts about it—and Aubrey did remind him of Doctor Who, but… No, the Stones were not a time machine. That was just insane.

He made a renewed attempt to raise himself. “I’m the one who needs to get home.”

“No!” Aubrey grabbed him, gouging into his waterproof jacket. “Since I got here, you’re the only person who’s understood anything of what I speak. I need you.”

Aubrey pleaded with his eyes and his lips, his anguish as tangible as a punch to Simon’s solar plexus. Coupled with his ravishing looks, it was all too much to bear. No way could this guy need him. At best Aubrey had to be a rival student taking the piss. Shit, maybe Pete put him up to it. At worst he was a psycho toying with his prey.

Simon twisted from Aubrey’s grasp, forcing words from a fear-tight throat. “Get away from me.”

Links to Kay

Remember, Kay is giving away a free copy of any of her backlist titles (to the right) to a random commenter, so please leave a comment!

My website:

Buy it now links for Simon, Sex, and the Solstice Stone and all Kay’s other titles:

Loose Id



All Romance


Barnes and Noble


Guest Post: Jessica Freely and His Own Devices

I first met Jessica Freely back in 2008, in her guise as a mild mannered* instructor at Seton Hill’s Writing Popular Fiction Master’s program. Over the years, I learned that not only did she write kick-ass adult science fiction, write a Nebula-finalist short story, and write kick-ass YA fiction, she also writes sexy kick-ass m/m fiction. Jessica (in all her many guises) rocks. She beta-read Close Quarter and has been one of my biggest cheerleaders. without furthur ado, here’s Jessica… or rather Sunshine and Cam, on her behalf!

* I have it on good authority from students that she mentors that she’ll not let you get away with any writing shenanigans. So that mild-mannered part? Totally a front.


The His Own Devices Blog Tour

All week long, Sunshine and Cam have been pounding the pavement, getting the word out about their new book, His Own Devices by Jessica Freely, available now from Loose Id.

His Own Devices coverA wounded genius, Cam has closed himself off from his desires. Sunshine, a renegade android with custom attachments, is determined to change that. Together they defy a cruel regime, but at what price?

To buy:

Special Release Week Offer

For a Limited Time Only: A Brand New Story Just For You!

Unlawful is an 8,500 word m/m erotic romance set in the universe of His Own Devices. On the Hanovan home world, where being gay is unlawful and slavery is legal, two men fight for their lives, for their desires, and for justice. Buy His Own Devices during release week (Nov. 19-25) and receive a free copy of Unlawful when you send your proof of purchase to cover

For more details please visit:

Sunshine: Well, here we are, it’s the fourth day of our blog tour. What do you think Cam? Will Jessica be happy with the job we’ve done?

Cam: I don’t know, I feel like we’ve forgotten something.

Sunshine: I know what you mean, but we’ve shared excepts and buy links and told everyone about Jessica’s release week special.

Cam: Not to mention your high tech cock. Haven’t been able to get you to stop talking about that, have we?

Sunshine: Hey, I’m proud of it. I put a lot of work into that penis.

Cam: I appreciate that.

Sunshine: (grins) I know you do.

Cam: (sighs) See, that’s what I mean. This whole tour has been one big, long dick joke.

Sunshine: A big, long dick joke? Did you really just say that?

Cam: Argh!

Sunshine: You know, I think I know what we left out.

Cam: If this is another setup…

Sunshine: We haven’t shown people how we met.

Cam: Oh… Yeah. (smiles) That’s it.

Sunshine: Shall we?

Cam: Definitely. Oh, but first we need to thank Anna for having us on her blog, and everyone else for visiting. We really appreciate you all stopping by.

Sunshine: And everybody, remember to leave a comment because Jessica’s giving away a free book from her backlist to one lucky reader.

Cam: Here we go.

Excerpt of His on Devices

A distant hum heralded the approach of the shipping pod. In the southwest quadrant of the sky, he could just make out a tiny black dot. As the hum got louder, the dot got larger. The shipping pod was a shiny black ovoid, like an egg. It landed, and the hatch popped open.

Someone tall and blue climbed out of it.

Cam walked slowly forward, mesmerized by what he saw: a broad, masculine chest tapering to a trim waist, a flat belly, and long, powerful legsall sculpted in the gleaming midnight blue of malleum, a metal at once as strong as steel and as pliable as human flesh.

An android.

The being looked about with evident curiosity. Itno, he, Cam decidedbent at the waist and scraped a handful of dust up from the hard-packed desert surface. He let it run through his fingers. He furrowed his brow.

He had a high-bridged nose, a long jaw, and a jutting chin. A prominent brow sheltered his eyes. His lips were full. They parted, and Cam caught a glimpse of bright white teeth.

He resembled a human being in every detail. Just about the only thing they hadn’t given him was a penis.

Cam pushed that thought aside and swallowed with some difficulty. “Um. Hi.”

The android startled and turned, his golden eyes wide. For an instant they stared at each other. Cam raised his hand, but before he could even wave and say welcome, the android cried out “No!” and fled as if Cam were his worst nightmare come to life.

Shit. “Flyer, to me.” Cam climbed inside the passenger compartment. “Ariadne, to me.”

Ariadne climbed on to the roof of the passenger compartment.

“Flyer. Pursue blue humanoid. Ariadne, rescue mission.”

By the time they were airborne, the android had a sizeable head start. But Flyer was fast too.

As they caught up, the android looked over his shoulder and spotted them, fear etched in the lines of his face. He put on an extra burst of speed. With those long legs and no need for breathing, he was phenomenally fast. He started pulling ahead again.

“Ariadne, rescue.”

The bot spit a ribbon of sticky filament at the android. It struck the dirt just to the right of him. He veered to the left.

The prospect of telling Halde that he’d let a valuable and highly experimental piece of Zenesco equipment run away made Cam’s stomach tighten. He rubbed his wrists. “Flyer, faster!”

Flyer’s motor whined as the bot pushed it to the limits of its capacity. They crept up on the fleeing humanoid.

“Ariadne. Take your best shot.”

Cam held his breath. The distance closed a little more, and then the android started to pull away again. His legs were a blur.

Ariadne shot a long stream of filament. It hit the android square in the back and stuck.

“Haaa!” The android’s cry sent chills up Cam’s spine. He tried to keep running. He might have succeeded in pulling Ariadne off her perch, but she hit him with a second strand and yanked back hard. He staggered.

As Flyer closed the distance, she wrapped the struggling android in filament after filament, until he was bound hand and foot, writhing on the ground and shouting incoherently.

Flyer landed.

“It’s okay,” said Cam, hopping out of the passenger compartment. “We’re here to help you. You have some kind of malfunction, but don’t worry. We’ll find out what it is and fix it.”

“No!” The android tried to roll away, but Ariadne wove a net around him and anchored it to several nearby gilly bushes, immobilizing him. Trembling, he stared up at Cam. “Please. I don’t want to die.”

What the hell? He’s terrified. But he’s an android. How is it he feels anything at all? “It’s okay,” Cam said. “I’m not going to kill you. I’m here to help you.”

“No! Please! Just let me go!”

“No! Don’t! Let me go!” Memories of a cold cave floor and iron shackles, laughter and pain, blindsided Cam. And now he was the one being pleaded with. He sat down hard in the dirt.

“I won’t do anything bad,” the android said. “I promise. There’s nothing here anyway. Just let me go. Please.”

Cam’s stomach twisted at the sight of the creature, helpless, bound, and pleading. He swallowed the gorge rising in this throat.

“Ariadne. Release him.”

Jessica Freely Online

Website & Blog:

Amazon Author Page:



Twitter: @jessicafreely

Guest Posts are Coming

“All I Need” by nerissa’s ring

Pull up a chair, and grab a cup of coffee. We have some guests stopping by for Thanksgiving.

On Wednesday, I’ll be hosting Jessica Freely and the main characters of her latest novel His Own Devices.

On Thursday, I’ll be hosting Kay Berrisford, who will be talking about writing her holiday book, Simon, Sex, and the Solstice Stone… during the summer in Italy!

Interviewed by Heidi Ruby Miller and Sequel News

Photo by Ethan Lofton

If you want to know a little bit more about me, I answered some of Heidi Ruby Miller’s Pick Six questions. Feel free to check it out!

I’m also working on the sequel to Close Quarter, which will feature Vasil, the waiter in inadvertently caught up in Silas and Rhys’s problems in Close Quarter. It’ll be set in Istanbul. And that’s all I can say at the moment.

There will also be more book giveaways coming up. Check back for more details later!

Amazon Author Page and Another Guest Post and Giveaway!

Amazon Author Page

I now have an Amazon author page. I’m still navigating the waters, so it’ll be updated over time.

Guest Post and Giveaway!

Tomorrow, I’ll be over at Jessica Freely’s blog talking about vampires and giving away another copy of Close Quarter. There will also be another except from Close Quarter.

Stop on by! I’ll have another post tomorrow with the direct link.