Photo Prompt – SHIFTER

Fox

The driveway was cold and wet, but this time I wasn’t leaving until Grant came outside. He knew I was there – I could see him peeking through the wispy curtains at the kitchen window. I’d made my grand gesture days ago, revealing my true self, and he’d run away. I couldn’t blame him for being afraid. I mean, when was the last time someone turned into a fox before your eyes? Not just any someone, but the person you’d been dating, the one you wanted, the one who loved you back.

If he could overcome his fear and doubt we had a chance. If not, I’d have to let him go. Give him the freedom to start over with another. Allow my heart to break.

I could hear him moving inside before the door opened. Tentative, he stepped out, dressed warmly and carrying a red apple. The fruit distracted me for a moment until I realized he was cautiously approaching. I remained still, watching his face intently for signs of fear. His heart thudded faster than usual, but I’d seen that determined look on his face before. I followed his movements until he reached me, crouched down, and set the apple near my front paws.

I wasn’t certain if this was a peace offering or a test of some kind. I ate the fruit – watching him watch me. Licking my muzzle clean, I waited for his next move. Though trembling, he extended his hand for me to sniff, as one would do for a dog. I complied, enjoying his unique scent, and then licked the underside of his wrist – something I’d often done in human form. Startled, he snatched his hand back and stared at me; wonder mixed with confusion. Finally, he spoke.

“Babe… is it really you?”

PHOTO PROMPT – Assumptions

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11:52 – I’m always early, so it doesn’t surprise me he isn’t here yet. We both enjoy walking outdoors, so I’d suggested a park near my house with some lovely trails. Except for the clouds, it was a perfect fall day and I was looking forward to our first official date.

11:55 – Damn! Rain began to fall steadily, soaking me and the bench I’d been sitting on. My jacket helped, but the umbrella was in the car and I didn’t want to risk missing him by going back for it. I probably looked like a drowned rat by now, and wasn’t that going to make a good impression?

11:58 – Where was he? I was careful to give him good directions so what’s the problem? Maybe he got into an accident on the way or had a flat tire. Did he forget? Was he sick and couldn’t make it? Was he standing me up?

12:04 – This was a stupid idea! Why did I ever agree to meet him anyway? My fool head tricked me into thinking I was still desirable and look where it got me. Waiting in the park, alone, for someone who apparently wasn’t coming. I’m such an idiot!

12:10 – The ten minute rule has always served me well. With no one in sight I turned and started walking back towards the car: humiliated, angry, disappointed. Serves me right, I suppose, for thinking somebody would want me. It was fun while it lasted, but never again. My heart just can’t take it.

12:11 – The sound of shoes on wet pavement barely registered as I hurried to reach the car and get home. Up ahead, someone with a large polka dot umbrella ran towards me from the parking lot, calling my name. It was him!

“Sorry I’m late! My umbrella was broken and I had to stop on the way to get another. It’s kind of ugly, but big enough for two. I was hoping…do you still want to walk with me?”

My heart pounded as his free arm slipped around my shoulders, pulling me in for a soft, gentle kiss. Shivering with cold, I walked, warm on the inside.

Weekly Roundup: Gladstone Shifters Part 2 – The Writing of EXPECTANT MOON

Weekly Roundup is an update on what’s going on in my world. Welcome!

Before I actually started writing the first Gladstone Shifters book, Expectant Moon, there were certain things I wanted the story to do. Shifter history needed to be explained – where did they come from, how do they live, what are their relationships like? In addition, I wanted a reasonable explanation of their ability to exist in modern times without being discovered. Lastly, I had to create the major dramatic elements which would keep the reader engaged from start to finish.

Sound like a lot? It was, and I didn’t realize at first how grand and extensive my goals were for the story, especially when it was supposed to be crammed into a single book! I seem to have a penchant for biting off more than I can chew, but I dove into the project, blissfully ignorant of what I was supposed to do, and did it anyway. In the end, my readers loved it, even if it was bit long, (at 110,000+ words, it’s at the upper limit of a full length novel). The few who mentioned it didn’t care because they couldn’t stop reading – a wonderful problem for any author!

It took a lot of research, but by using the actual history of gray wolves in the U.S., I was able to weave it into the experiences of the shifter community. Logically, the only way for wolf shifters to hide from humans was to do so in plain sight among the natural wolf population. This grew more difficult as the U.S. population grew, and especially after the great purge of wolves which began in the 1800’s. This tension and tragedy provided the background for nearly everything in the world I created, imbuing the story with drama, structure, and continuity.

Natural wolves are confined to a few of the northernmost states, Alaska, and Canada, narrowing my choices for a primary location. Since I was already familiar with Michigan, I decided to place most of the action at Gladstone, in the upper peninsula. Instead of creating imaginary places and names, I used the real thing, and in the process, lent the story a measure of believability. When I mention cities, parks, roads, lakes, rives etc., and even the distances between them, it’s virtually all from real life. This, too, took a lot of research, but it actually saved me time and influenced some story elements.

From the start, I intended to focus on the two main characters – Ben (Gladstone’s Alpha) and his future mate, Evan. After introducing Jack as the long-lost True Elder, (and eventually his mate), it became apparent I would have to widen my vision a bit! As the story progressed, I simply had to provide more background and interaction of the MC’s. As a result, the book was longer and far richer than I ever intended – all to the good.

Though it began as a romance, Expectant Moon grew into a story about acceptance and taking a stand in a hostile environment. Gay shifters, like their human counterparts, were experiencing the same issues, and I wanted to show how it affected them and what could be done to correct the situation. This dramatic element formed the story’s foundation, driving the action, discoveries, and love interests through the book. It was my desire to give the shifters a victory, though hard won; unlike the real world where people are still being rejected, bullied and killed because of their sexual orientation.

One of the fun elements I introduced was the shifter way of allowing same-sex couples to have children. Many of the stories I’d read included male Omega’s who could somehow get pregnant and pop out babies (mostly unexplained), but I found their approach lacking credibility. Important questions remained unaddressed: Other than same sex couples, why would a male wolf-shifter need such an ability? Where was his birth orifice? How could you keep a pregnant man hidden from prying human eyes? I was able to answer those questions, and more, leaving the reader with an imaginative and plausible explanation.

As mentioned earlier, an important part of the series is the romance, including the sex, and this author makes no apology for the explicit M/M content. Wolf shifters are famous for their libido, stamina, and overall enjoyment of sex, and my characters were no exception. For the most part, I place the sexual scenes within the context of a loving, committed relationship; something many humans, quite honestly, are incapable of doing. A healthy, vibrant relationship will normally include sex, so I saw no reason to be squeamish about it here. (For readers who may object, I provided a very clear warning in the book blurb.)

While more could be said, the best way to experience Expectant Moon is to read it for yourself. If you do, please leave a review or drop me a line at aelliottbooks@gmail.com to let me know what you thought!

Next week, without revealing too much, I want to discuss the writing of Book 2, Traitor’s Moon.

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Traitor’s Moon is FINISHED!! Wahoooooooooo!!!

I’m now in the process of rereading the entire manuscript, followed by submission to my beta readers. If I’ve done my job properly, there shouldn’t be many corrections to make and then it’s time to publish it. I anticipate a February release, but stay tuned for a more exact date! Meanwhile, I need to create the book blurb, which is a difficult process all its own, and figure out the launch promotions. Also – check out the cover art for Traitor’s Moon on the main page of my website!

Even as I finish up the process for Traitor’s Moon, ideas are flowing for the third book, entitled Forbidden Moon. Despite the extended length of time it took to get Book 2 finished, I’m eager to get started on the next. Yes, I would dearly love a break, but I need to keep going lest I lose my momentum. I swear – writers are nuts!

 

Weekly Roundup 10-24-18 Looking for Work

Weekly Roundup is an update on what’s going on in my world. Welcome!

As you may know, I completed a major move at the end of September and am trying to get settled. I can’t speak for anyone else but looking for a job is at the top of my “Least Favorite Things to Do” list. It saps my energy, makes me doubt everything, and reduces my already low self-esteem. Almost four weeks and… nothing.

Yesterday, I spent over three hours at one employment agency, trying to secure a job I didn’t really want – they’re still looking. You know things are bad when you send in an application to the one place you swore you’d NEVER work, and they turn you down. At this point, the bottom of the barrel would be looking up.

All righty then, enough complaining! There are some perks to my current situation:

  • I get to stay up late and sleep in.
  • There are no annoying co-workers to put up with.
  • My morning commute is only as far as the bathroom.
  • I have more time to write!

Current manuscript – I’m now on chapter 11 of Traitor’s Moon. In order to fit in the rest of the story, I’ll probably need three or four more chapters. Word count = 86,000+.

I ran into a curious problem in Chapter 10. Two sets of characters were recently mated; one gay and one straight. Now, I couldn’t ignore the straight couple completely, so yeah they get some sexy time together. When I attempted to get more detailed about their love-making, I felt very uncomfortable and had to delete it from the manuscript. I still managed to give them their own moments, but I simply couldn’t go much beyond pleasant generalities! It’s not a matter of being shy or ignorant – I was, after all, in a presumably straight relationship for twenty years!

Writing intimate situations for gay couples is easy, and yes, I get a kick out it. This was the first time I attempted to write a straight sex scene with any depth, so the whole “I don’t think I can do this” feeling really took me by surprise. In the end, it’s probably for the best. My readers aren’t looking for hetero sex in my romances, and since I don’t feel comfortable writing about it, I think we’re on the same page. This is another example of characters teaching me something about myself, and I’m OK with that. At least I know my limitations!

Reader Roundup 5-16-18

Reader Roundup is a weekly update on what’s going on in my world. Welcome!

Here are some of the books I’ve read or re-read recently:

The Xenogenesis Trilogy by Octavia E. Butler. The trilogy is made up of Dawn, Adulthood Rites, and Imago. If you enjoy Post-Apocalyptic stories or Science Fiction (with aliens) you MUST read this trilogy! I’ve read these wonderful books so many times I’ve lost count, and I still enjoy coming back to them again and again. The author’s fertile imagination and storytelling ability are superb, and you will not be able to put them down!  Get it HERE.


The House by the River by Lena Manta. This Greek author weaves a tale of five sisters who feel stifled by their childhood home and succeed in making their way in the world. It isn’t all roses and happiness, and there are enough twists in the story to keep it interesting. The beginning of the book seems rushed to me, but the author has a lot of story to cram in, so it’s easy to overlook. Get it HERE.

 

Off the Old Head of Kinsale by Mike Enfield. Don’t allow the odd title of this gay romance put you off! It’s 1915, and Edmund finds himself on the RMS Lusitania, on his way to join the army as a Chaplain. David, the Steward assigned to his cabin, takes a fancy to the charming man under his care. When they give in to their mutual interest, the two seem destined for each other – but the war gets in the way. A very different read with an HEA I highly recommend! Get it HERE.

Reading brings so much pleasure, and I can’t imagine a world with nothing to read! Hmmm…maybe that’s a story idea I should look into.

 

NEW RELEASE! Expectant Moon

My latest book, Expectant Moon, is now available for purchase! Order from Amazon

 

Take a look at what others are saying:

“Expectant Moon is everything a great shifter romance novel should be. Steamy scenes, fantastic drama and some very surprising new ideas. I loved this book and look forward to the second installment. This is a series I already know I will be rereading multiple times.”

“Wonderful! Elliott introduces new ideas to the shifter genre and does it quite successfully, and I would love to meet some of the characters in person. It was a joy to read and I am anxious to get my hands on the next one!”

“Love, love, love it!!! Hurry up and write the next one!”

“Once again Alexander Elliott has created a world full of people I want to know, and a story I don’t ever want to end. The premise is completely plausible, the characters are robust and real, and the story line will grab you from the start.”

 

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Tolerated. Ignored. Threatened. Modern gay shifters struggle for equality, but history paints a different picture. When Alpha Ben Blair challenges the status quo, he unintentionally ignites a controversy which divides the community.

While Gladstone soon becomes the focus of competing forces, Ben gains new allies who change everything: Evan Reid, a misunderstood Arctic wolf possessing unique gifts, and Jack Eby, an ancient shifter holding the key to their future.

Join the Gladstone shifters as they find love, acceptance and purpose in a time of monumental change. Expect the unexpected. Expectant Moon.

Notice: Contains male/male romance and sexuality. Recommended for readers 18+.

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