Get Caught Up in Bad Moonlight in Lupine Lunes, A Werewolf Anthology


When Popcorn Press announced their annual Halloween anthology would be werewolf themed, I knew I needed to write something. Little did I know how fun it would be to write about a hunt masquerading as a mating ritual…

Bad Moonlight

By Tiffany Michelle Brown

As Raymond watched icy moonlight gleam off Vanessa’s bare shoulders, he wondered if he was making a mistake. Buying her drinks. Following her here. Getting caught up. And so damn soon. That was the worst part. The part that felt shameful. Raymond rubbed the back of his neck, stifling a guilty grimace as Vanessa flicked through her keyring.

He wouldn’t have done this a year ago, even though he’d been single and hot-blooded and popular with the ladies. Scratch that, he wouldn’t have done this ever. So why was he doing it now? Cool air nipped at Raymond’s shoulders through his cable-knit sweater just as realization nipped like an overzealous gnat at his consciousness.

He knew why he was doing this. Breaking it off with Tonia three weeks prior had left a crater inside his heart, and he was trying to fill it with anything that batted an eyelash and offered to fill him up. On one hand, his actions felt pathetic. On the other, they felt like survival.

Vanessa turned the key in the lock, peered over her shoulder, and gave Raymond a smile. Her coffee brown eyes crinkled in the corners and her teeth gleamed, white as stars. “Sorry.” She reached out and placed a hand on his bicep, her acrylic nails tickling his skin through the fabric of his sweater. “New place. I don’t remember which key is which yet.” She brushed a black curl off her forehead and gazed up at him. “You comin’ inside?”

The hopeful raise of her eyebrows did Raymond in. He couldn’t, in good conscience, abandon this woman now, despite the reluctance that tugged at his chest. His mama had raised him better. He wasn’t the kind of man who’d cold shoulder a woman on her doorstep.

He made a decision. He’d follow her into the house, make casual conversation, ensure she was okay for the night, and leave before things got complicated. He wouldn’t be swayed—even if she did smell of gardenias and honey. No. He had his moral code, and he’d be damned if a pretty face and the curve of a hip made him lose himself. Or his memories of Tonia.

Raymond offered a curt nod of acceptance. Vanessa’s lips stretched into a grin, and she pushed the door open. Her heels clicked on the hardwood floor as she sauntered inside, leaning into her hips as she moved. Raymond followed, stuffing his hands in his pockets, keeping his eyes glued to Vanessa’s curly hair, telling himself repeatedly not to let them drift south.

The room smelled of fresh paint. Boxes were stacked in the corners, and the only furniture in the room consisted of a blue suede couch and a lamp that stood vigil in the corner. Vanessa crossed the room and flicked on the bulb, basking the space in warm yellow light. She leaned against a freshly primed wall. The blue sequins adorning her dress glittered, and her eyes sparkled with new intensity. She curled her finger at Raymond. “Come here.”

Raymond closed the front door and secured the latch. He leaned back against the wood. “Maybe it’s best if I stay over here for right now.”

Disappointment skittered across Vanessa’s face, and her breath caught in her chest. She paused a moment and then exhaled, shaking her head. “You’re a gentleman all of a sudden, huh?” She smiled at him and bit her lip. “Pity.”

Raymond shrugged his shoulders, feigning nonchalance while his gut grew heavy with guilt. He shouldn’t be here, shouldn’t be leading her on. But bolting would be a dick move.

Conversation. It was time for conversation. “How long ago did you move in?”

Vanessa raised an eyebrow. “We’re playing twenty questions now?”

“We didn’t really get to know each other at the bar.” Which was true. He’d learned she was new in town, had a taste for vodka martinis with a twist, and could tear up a dance floor to 90s RnB—especially Boyz II Men—but not much else.

Vanessa threw up her hands. “Okay, okay…We’ll talk first…” She smoothed her dress and held up her fingers. “I’ve been here for two weeks.”

“You move out here for a job?”

“No.” Vanessa crossed her arms over her chest. “Family. I have a sister who lives here.” Vanessa’s features fell, and her eyes darted to the floor. “She isn’t doing well. She got in a nasty accident recently, a hit and run.”

Raymond frowned. “I’m sorry to hear that.” He considered moving closer, perhaps offering her a shoulder, but…proximity could be dangerous. Compromising. Intoxicating. He needed to keep his distance.

“I’m her big sister. I’m used to taking care of her.” Vanessa’s lips twitched into a sad smile. “Family is important to me.” She glanced out the bay window into the darkened front yard and then her eyes found Raymond’s. “You want a beer?”


Vanessa stepped out of her heels, one at a time, keeping her eyes fixed on Raymond’s, knowing her movements were a performance of sorts. Then, she floated across the living room and slipped into the kitchen. Raymond heard the steady hum of an open refrigerator. “What about you, Ray? What brought you here?”

Raymond flinched. “No one calls me that.”

Glass bottles clinked and the refrigerator door squeaked closed. “What do you have against the name Ray? There are great men named Ray. Ray Charles. Ray Rice. Ray Bradbury. Ray J.”

“Don’t be comparing me to Ray J.” He heard Vanessa’s husky chuckle, then metal bottle caps popping and tumbling to the countertop in the dark. “I just like the name my mama gave me. The full name.”

Vanessa reappeared before him, stepping into the light. She took a swig of her beer, licked her lips, and extended a bottle to Raymond. “Are you a mama’s boy then?”

Raymond’s lips quirked as he took the beer. “Nah. I just agree with you. Family’s important.”

“Well, cheers to that.” Vanessa brought her bottle to Raymond’s and the glass clinked loudly in the near empty room. She sidled closer to him, her ample chest brushing against the top of his stomach and sending shivers through him. Raymond urged himself to be still.

Vanessa sighed and pressed her forehead to his chest in defeat. “Okay, okay,” she said, moving away from him. She fell into the couch cushions and tucked her long brown legs beneath her. “You never answered my question.”

Raymond frowned.

“What brought you here?”

“Born and raised.” Raymond took a sip. The beer was dark, heavy, with a hint of…something vaguely chalky. He couldn’t quite place the taste. He held up the bottle, inspecting the label. Malt. That had to be it.

“A local?”

“Yep. Have you been by the mechanic shop down on Waverly?”

Vanessa inclined her head. “I’ve driven past it.”

“My family owns it.”

“How very…quaint.”

Raymond chuckled. He was used to ribbing from outsiders. “It’s nice, all the family-run joints here. The community. Everyone’s got your back. You’ll see how it is, when you’ve been here for a bit.” He took a long draw from his bottle.

As he swallowed, Raymond felt the familiar sensation of alcohol spiking his blood. His chest warmed, his heart pounded, and he made a mental note to slow down. He’d thrown back at least three gin and tonics at The Dell, more than he’d had to drink in a good while.

But then a lick of pain shot through his skull, quick and fierce as an electrical current, rendering him woozy and off balance. What in the hell?


To read the rest, pick up your copy of Lupine Lunes from Popcorn Press!


5 Reasons to Read Wendy Sparrow’s Servants of Fate Series


I am utterly twitterpated with Wendy Sparrow’s Servants of Fate series! Set to publish in November, each novella in the trilogy follows one of Father Time’s sons—Zeit, Tempus, and Ruin—immortals who must sacrifice a human’s lifetime to the Fates each New Year’s Eve. In return, the sons are allowed to dole out small increments of time to deserving mortals throughout the year. About to get hit by a bus? Zeit might freeze time, move you just a millimeter to the right, and save your life.

Despite their work among mortals, Father Time’s sons are anything but. They keep to themselves and definitely don’t understand human follies…until a trio of vivacious, beautiful women capture their attention—and their hearts, turning their worlds upside down and showing them just how precious time can be.

And if that premise alone isn’t inspiration enough for you to dive into this sweet, delightful romance series, here are five more reasons to read Stealing Time, Taking Time, and Keeping Time come November.

1. The Men

Wendy Sparrow likes her immortals tall, dark, and dressed in trench coats. I’m not complaining. Zeit, Tempus, and Ruin sizzle on the page. With their striking good looks and bad boy demeanors, it’s no wonder mortal women are immediately drawn to them. However, Father Time’s sons become even more irresistible when they start to experience everyday human life and gravitate toward certain things that make them softer and more relatable. An obsession with chocolate oranges, a motorcycle, and a love for mystery novels render them alluring and adorable.

2. The Women

What kind of women can inspire immortals to slum it with humans? Smart, quick-witted, lovely ones who challenge Father Time’s sons to look at the world and their very existence differently. Each woman in this series is decidedly unique, but I found each of them wonderfully relatable, too. Sparrow has a knack for writing women with humor, honesty, and emotional resonance. I want to be friends with Hannah, Lacey, and Phoebe.

3. The Kissing

After reading this series, I was inspired to make out with my fiancé. I wanted to straight up mack in the backseat of a car. Because the kissing scenes in this series take you back to those first passionate kisses you shared with someone who ignited a spark of desire in you. The kisses are sweet and sexy and play you’re your senses in all the right ways. Readers, have chap stick and mints on hand. You’re going to want to host a makeout party after reading this series.

4. The Dialogue

As a writer, I truly admire Sparrow’s mastery of dialogue. She infuses conversations between characters with healthy doses of chemistry and humor, and the repartee is on point. There were many times when I couldn’t help but smile or snicker or blush.

5. The Seasonal Cheer

When December rolls around, I will be reading all three novellas again, because they are the perfect way to usher in the holiday season. Since Father Time’s sons make sacrifices on New Year’s Eve, the stories are chock full of Christmas references—mistletoe, hot chocolate, snow, Santa, gifts, classic movies. All of the trimmings are there. And is there anything more romantic than a snowy lodge during the holidays? Sigh.

Here’s a little more about each novella and their fabulous author, Wendy Sparrow:


Father Time’s son, Zeit Geist, must sacrifice a mortal’s lifetime to the Fates each New Year’s Eve. Last year—inexplicably, really—he made an 11:59 substitution. The Fates are pissed and they’re after his mortal Hannah. With the year ending, he ought to figure out why he’d saved her—and why he keeps doing it.

Following an unlucky year, Hannah Lyons needs a week’s holiday in a lodge to unwind. What she gets is near-death experiences and a sexy immortal who can’t avoid kissing her, but might have to kill her. After all, even Zeit can’t hold back time indefinitely.


Tempus fugit. Time flies…unless you’re Tempus Halt, Father Time’s son. Day in and day out are the same, except for New Year’s Eve when he steals the life of a mortal on behalf of the Fates. This year marks his first failure to stay the monotonous course. A mortal’s kiss and her insistence on taking the place of his year’s sacrifice stalled out everything. Now, Tempus has to keep her alive for a year so his sacrifice isn’t wasted, but that’s the only reason—definitely.

One of these crazy grim reapers stole Lacey Carpenter’s estranged father’s life two years ago. She’ll give her own life rather than letting it happen again. It backfires when Tempus doesn’t actually kill her, and they have to spend the year together. She’s falling for an immortal who stops time, not just to save her life, but also to ruin her dates and steal her books. This can never work and fate is just not on her side—in fact, they’d really like her dead before Tempus falls for her in return.


When Ruin’s mortal sacrifice to the Fates on New Year’s Eve is already dying, it should be the easiest life he has to take, but not this year. The dying man knows Ruin is there to kill him, but he asks Father Time’s son to look after his twin sister. Ruin can’t stay away from the sweet and sensual Phoebe. His previous interactions with women changed the definition of his name, Ruin, so he can’t fall for her, especially when the lovely mortal doesn’t know he killed her brother.

Phoebe’s brother promised to send her a guardian angel, but Ruin seems too devilish to be holy. He only wants to be friends and keep watch over her, but she can’t resist him. Loving Ruin is a sin tempting her heart. How wrong is it to cause an angel’s fall? Ruin and Phoebe’s time is running out as another New Year’s Eve sacrifice approaches, and Ruin might lose everything for keeping his true hand in fate secret.

About Wendy Sparrow

Wendy Sparrow lives in the Pacific Northwest with two quirky kids and a wonderful, amazing, handsome, sexy husband who dotes on her and who did not write this bio. She’s an autism advocate and was featured in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Raising Kids on the Spectrum. Wendy loves telling stories and has since she was a child–which is why she heard the “Boy Who Cried Wolf” so many times she could have written the screenplay at age five. She believes in the Oxford comma, the pursuit of cupcakes, and that every story deserves a happily ever after.

If she’s not writing or wrangling kids, she’s on Twitter– @WendySparrow and she’ll chat with anyone. Really.

Check out the series’ official page on Pen and Kink Publishing’s website for release dates and to pre-order your copies!



Author Kelly Sandoval on “Siren Seeking”

Sirens Blog Tour

Deep, deep down, part of me believes I moved from a landlocked state to one bordering the ocean in order to secure a prime location for a siren sighting. I mean, it’s a possibility if one believes in magic, right?

I’ve always been drawn to stories involving sirens, and they are the only mythological creatures I’ve written about more than once. Whether of the feathered or finned variety, there’s always been something wildly intriguing about bewitching, seductive creatures who can bring others to a violent end by way of beautiful music.

When I learned of Rhonda Parrish’s Sirens anthology, it was like hearing a siren’s call. I needed the collection. Immediately.

And I was absolutely charmed by the very first story in the book, “Siren Seeking” by Kelly Sandoval, in which a reformed siren named Thelia, fully integrated into modern society, has signed up for an online dating service for magical beings … and we all know how that goes …

I spoke with Kelly about “Siren Seeking,” writing comedy, and women in mythology – and I may have fallen in love with her sense of fashion, too (tiny hats!).

First of all, what attracts you to sirens?

I’m attracted to myths about women, particularly women who are also monsters. They always seem to be doomed or deadly, or both. So often, these stories feel like cautionary tales. Stories told about women and to women, but not by women. And everything’s taken for granted. Sirens lure men to their deaths. Why? They just do.

I was excited to move beyond that, to see what it all looks like from the siren’s perspective.

The protagonist in “Siren Seeking,” Thelia, is a siren in modern times who’s signed up for a month of online dating through Elsewhen, a service specifically for magical beings. I have to say, a number of Thelia’s negative experiences were all too relatable. So, I have to ask … did you pull any inspiration from real-life experiences? Either yours or those of your friends? 

To be completely honest, I’ve never used an online dating service. But, at the time I wrote this story, one of my friends was playing OkCupid roulette. While none of her experiences directly inspired the story, talking to her is definitely what started me thinking about the difficulties of online dating. I remember joking with her about creating a dating app for writers. From there, I started to think about other groups that might need an online dating app. Immortal beings, for example.

If you were a member of Elsewhen, what kind of magical creature do you think you’d most jive with, and why?

Oh, immortals seem like they’d be too much work, don’t you think? That said, I think every writer wants to date a muse, at least for a little while.

The Grashe (one of Thelia’s dates) were simply intriguing. Is that multi-deity based on any particular lore?

The Grashe are based less on a specific deity and more on a specific idea of deity. The idea that gods are in some ways a reflection of their worshippers’ expectations shows up a lot, and I started to wonder what that would feel like. What happens when you go from being foolish Aries to mighty Mars? Do you keep a little bit of each inside you? The Grashe reflect that difficulty. I imagine they’re very old, older than Thelia realizes. Probably more dangerous, too.

There’s an interesting theme that comes up in your story: whether an immortal – in this case, Thelia – can truly distance themselves from their past. Do you think that distance is possible for magical folk to achieve? How about mortals?

This is a great question, and it’s one I keep returning to in fiction. But I don’t know the answer. Certainly, they must try to change. We all try. But immortals are often archetypal in some way. They represent ideas, concepts. When you’re part concept, how do you become something new?

It’s easier for mortals, and that contrast is great story fodder. You’ve got these timeless beings who are essentially stuck. But pathetic humans, with their gnat-like lifespans, keep changing. Keep striving.

Thelia ponders something thought-provoking with her friend, Meda, toward the end of “Siren Seeking” – what will they be in 100 years. What do you think the next incarnation of the siren will be in the world you’ve created?

Thelia’s role will always be one of coaxing people, of getting them to want. I imagine she’ll get into government work eventually, selling the idea of space travel to nervous colonists. 100 years after that? Maybe a summer home on Titan, swimming with alien fish.

This story made me laugh throughout! You have a great sense of humor. Do you have any advice for authors who want to incorporate more comedy into their writing?

I wrote this story in part as a challenge to myself. I like to joke that I write “sad stories about sad people being sad.” I wanted to try my hand at something funny. I think it’s important to push your boundaries every once in a while.

The best advice I can give is to write characters with a sense of humor. Thelia finds her situation funny, so she makes jokes about it. It’s all a matter of the character’s perspective. If Thelia approached each date with starry-eyed hope, it’d be a much darker story.

Where can we find more of your work? And are you working on anything we can be on the lookout for?

My website, is the best place to find more of my fiction. For another story that explores immortality and change, I suggest “The Wolf and the Tower Unwoven,” which was published in Uncanny Magazine. As a warning, it’s a bit sad.

I’m currently finishing up an interactive novel for Choice of Games. It’s about class warfare and adorable baby gryphons. No release date yet, but I imagine it will be some time next year.


About the Author 

Kelly Sandoval’s fiction has appeared in UncannyStrange Horizons, and Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy. She lives in Seattle, where the weather is always happy to make staying in and writing seem like a good idea. Her family includes a patient husband, a demanding cat, and an anarchist tortoise. You can find her online at



Sirens_SneakPeekAbout Sirens 

Sirens are beautiful, dangerous, and musical, whether they come from the sea or the sky. Greek sirens were described as part-bird, part-woman, and Roman sirens more like mermaids, but both had a voice that could captivate and destroy the strongest man. The pages of this book contain the stories of the Sirens of old, but also allow for modern re-imaginings, plucking the sirens out of their natural elements and placing them at a high school football game, or in wartime London, or even into outer space.

Featuring stories by Kelly Sandoval, Amanda Kespohl, L.S. Johnson, Pat Flewwelling, Gabriel F. Cuellar, Randall G. Arnold, Michael Leonberger, V. F. LeSann, Tamsin Showbrook, Simon Kewin, Cat McDonald, Sandra Wickham, K.T. Ivanrest, Adam L. Bealby, Eliza Chan, and Tabitha Lord, these siren songs will both exemplify and defy your expectations.

Go Ahead…Bite Somebody!


What happens when you mix an insecure, novice vampire, balmy Florida nights, a hunky ex-surfer with a penchant for Bob Marley, and a purple-haired, stuck-in-the-80s instigator? You get Sara Dobie Bauer’s novel, Bite Somebody, which has been lauded as the “Pretty in Pink of vampire stories.” Seriously, you need this novel in your life. It’s poignant, hilarious, sexy, and freaky.

I caught up with Sara to talk vampires, rum punch, and writing.

First of all, this is your first published novel. Congratulations! How does it feel? And how are you celebrating?

It feels exciting and terrifying in equal measure. I don’t think it’s quite hit me that my book is a Real Thing. It’s kind of like waking from a dream, disoriented and tangled in my sheets. It’s also a lot of work. When releasing your first book, there’s very little time for bon-bon consumption—but plenty of time for beer, trust me. Speaking of celebrating, I will mark the occasion with a rum punch (or two) since that’s what my characters drink in the beach world of Bite Somebody.

Give me your elevator pitch for Bite Somebody. What’s it about, and why should we add it to our bookshelves?

Celia Merkin is a chubby, insecure newbie vamp in love with the smell of her neighbor. What she needs to do—according to her moody vampire friend Imogene—is just bite somebody. But Celia wants her first bite to be special, and she has yet to meet Mr. Right Bite. Then, Ian moves in next door. Could he be the first bite she’s been waiting for to complete her vampire transformation?

Add Bite Somebody to your bookshelves because not only is it hilarious (think dark comedy), but also it’s sexy and adventurous and, although it’s a vampire book, it sort of pokes fun at the whole genre.

Tell me something funny/freaky/interesting about the process of writing this book that no one else knows.

I wrote the first page at 6 AM while lying in bed in Phoenix, covered in dogs. Call it an epiphany.

Did your characters behave themselves while you were writing Bite Somebody? Or did they go rogue and make decisions you didn’t see coming?

A little of both. I knew where the characters needed to go eventually—they just took some roundabout ways to get there. My characters always do that, but they’re supposed to. If you’ve created a character of depth, he or she will practically become a real person, and real people are unpredictable, yes?

When you think of the setting of your novel, what do you see, smell, taste, hear, and feel?

I think Gulf Coast beach. I see a moonlit ocean. I smell salt water and fruit-juicy rum punches. I hear laughter and waves. I feel happy, because I’d like to live in this place.

There’s a lot of vampire lit out there and thus, a lot of vampire archetypes. Do you have a favorite flavor of vampire?

Vampires with a sick sense of humor. I don’t like moody, pouty vampires. I don’t like angst. I adore characters like Lestat, who’ll giggle while he kills you, or Spike from Buffy with his sly, British sense of humor. I guess my flavor of vampire fits my flavor of friend, too. If you don’t make me laugh, you probably won’t be spending too many happy hours with me. Life’s too short to be taken seriously.


Okay, how the heck did you get your dentist to make you vampire teeth in celebration of Bite Somebody? I mean, seriously, how did that conversation even begin?

Ha. Well, she had a picture of Bela Lugosi in her office, and I was amused but, like, “Why?” She explained she made vampire teeth for one of her clients once, to which I replied, “Hmmm?” She knew about my novel and immediately offered to make some for me as a gift for my launch party. Now, I wear them randomly around the house and at bars. Some guys get freaked out; other guys want to buy me a drink. I should probably steer clear of the guys who want to buy me a drink.

If you had to describe Bite Somebody in five words, what would they be?

Insecure immortal learns to love.

(And not just other people.)

Who would play the main characters in a film adaptation of Bite Somebody?

Well, the leads would be Felicia Day and Benedict Cumberbatch, but I actually have a blog post with the entire list HERE.

Fast forward. The film is wildly successful and nominated for an Oscar! What would you wear to the award ceremony?

A skin-tight gothic-inspired Dior gown or maybe even something completely insane by Hirooka Naota. Black patent leather Louboutin stilettos, my lucky skull ring, and my hot husband on my arm in a black Spencer Hart suit.

Bite Somebody has received great reviews from first readers. Any comments that have surprised, delighted, or affected you in a big way?

Well, one of my favorite writers, Christopher Buehlman called it “the Pretty in Pink of vampire stories.” Another reviewer said, imagine “going for midnight swims with Benedict Cumberbatch while listening to David Bowie.” Does it get any better?

Anything else you’d like to add?

You can buy the book now on Amazon or directly from World Weaver Press. If you’d like to chat, visit my website. Feel free to stalk!

About Sara:


Sara Dobie Bauer is a writer, model, and mental health advocate with a creative writing degree from Ohio University. She spends most days at home in her pajamas as a book nerd and sex-pert for Her short story, “Don’t Ball the Boss,” was nominated for the Pushcart Prize, inspired by her shameless crush on Benedict Cumberbatch. She lives with her hottie husband and two precious pups in Northeast Ohio, although she’d really like to live in a Tim Burton film. She is also the author of Wolf Among Sheep, Life Without Harry, and Forever Dead. Read more at or find her on Twitter @SaraDobie.

Marked by Scorn is Marked by Greatness and Inclusivity


When I learned Solarwyrm Press was gearing up to publish an anthology featuring non-traditional relationships and cultural/racial diversity, I immediately began stalking their website to see how I could get my hands on a copy.

Confession: I’m white. I’m heterosexual. I’m monogamous. I identify as female.

So why exactly would I be drawn to this sort of collection?

It’s no secret mainstream publishing tends to lack diversity, especially when it comes to stories featuring romantic relationships. I bet if you search the top 50 books on Amazon in the romance genre, you likely won’t find a story with a polyamorous, transgender, or gay protagonist. And yet,  people who identify with the “other” and their multi-faceted, deeply rooted, relevant, and beautiful relationships exist in our world—in droves. When media and cultural representation lag behind the ubiquity of real-life experiences, well, we aren’t being very inclusive to people who don’t align with “societal norms,” are we?

On a more personal level, limiting my readership to narratives that I can directly relate to thanks to my own life experience is … boring. Like, really boring. Because guess what, I’ve already lived it. Or I’m living it now. Give me something new!

Solarwyrm Press certainly did. Marked by Scorn, edited by Dominica Malcolm, is a fresh, emotionally charged, and entertaining collection of fiction, poetry, and memoir finely woven together by currents of love, sexual energy, and relational diversity aplenty.

When I first received by advance review copy, I will admit, I was a little worried. Clocking in at nearly 300 pages, I was concerned the stories would become repetitive, but no two stories in this volume are alike, just as no two relationships in this world are alike.

In “Emergency Encounter,” Cindy Stauffer emphasizes our human need for physical intimacy to endure potentially soul-sucking hardships—even if that intimacy is at the hands or lips of someone other than your significant other.

Tara Calaby’s “Breaking Point” shows us just how far we’ll go for someone we once loved, even if that relationship was complicated at best.

Sara Dobie Bauer’s “If It Ain’t Broke” tells the story of Professor Nate Evans’ crush on his awkward yet beguiling student, Henry, and the magic of Christmas and acceptance.

Vanessa Ng’s “Keeping Mum About Dad” lends insight to the experience of a daughter growing up with a father who identifies as female.

Baylea Jones’ “Spar” dissects the cruelty of first love and keeping face in high school.

Kawika Guillermo’s “Love is in the Blood” speaks of the delicate balance between tradition, inevitability, rebirth, and identity.

GK Hansen’s “Roulez” uses the pronoun “they” in relation to the story’s gender non-binary protagonist.

And that’s only a taste of the beautiful stories in this volume that stirred up my emotions, made me laugh, made me ache, and taught me a thing or two.

Altogether, the collection is uplifting, heart-wrenching, sexy, fun, wicked, but most of all, utterly important. Because the one thing that ties all of these stories of breakups and makeups and threesomes and violence and werewolves and partnerships and understanding together—is love. And what could possibly be more important than that?

Though Marked by Scorn is not yet available for purchase, you can support the anthology’s IndieGoGo campaign and receive a copy prior to its official publication date, July 31.

Blog Takeover: Giovanni Valentino

Ebook Cover

On April Fool’s day, Alternate Hilarities V: One Star Reviews of the Afterlife (a collection which includes my flash fiction piece “Bad Vibrations”) hit the interwebs, and the publication’s editor, Giovanni Valentino, was likely chuckling for a couple reasons. One, readers near and far probably wondered if Alternate Hilarities was a “real” short story collection or if they’d click on a link to purchase the book and simply be rickrolled. Two, the sheer relief of being done with a project of this magnitude (I’ve heard it’s hard to make a book!). And three, because the stories in this collection are damn funny!

As you shuffle off this mortal coil, many things will go through your mind. Will you be remembered well? Did you live the best life you could? Did you leave the iron on? And most importantly, did you remember to delete your browser history recently? But the big question that will finally hit you full on, is there something after all of this? And if so, will it suck? If only Yelp! had a category for the afterlife.

Here is a collection of humorous tales of the afterlife that covers the I.T. woes of Heaven, the dangers involved in using out-of-date occult tools, the perils of not saving appropriately for the hereafter, the shock of finding out that not every good deed will get you through the pearly gates and the cold hard fact that paradise just isn’t for everyone.

So go to the light at your own peril.

It could be life everlasting, or it could be an oncoming train.”

Sounds fun, right?

I also decided a blog takeover with none other than the mastermind of Alternate Hilarities V would be fun, too. Today, he’ll share a little behind-the-scenes peek into the creation of a comedic anthology (spoiler alert – it’s not just a laugh fest!). So, without further ado, I give you Giovanni Valentino and…

A Funny Thing Happened during the Submissions Process

Giovanni Valentino here, Editor in Chief of Strange Musings Press and editor of the Alternate Hilarities series. I’m here to talk about one of the toughest things for me when working on the anthology, the fact that humor is subjective. I read about 150 stories for One Star Reviews and only 37 of them made it into the final book.

Stories don’t make the final cut for a lot of reasons – poor writing quality, not quite fitting the Afterlife theme, or even humor themes that I’d rather avoid (in this edition’s case, I kept the big guy and his son out of the forefront).

You would figure since this is a humor anthology that all the submitted stories would be funny, right? Not necessarily so.

I’m not going to say that I have a monopoly on what’s funny. Sometimes my sense of humor can be a little juvenile. I think there is a fart joke in almost every story I’ve ever written and according to my wife, there isn’t a single oddball, expletive-filled cartoon that I don’t watch.

A story can fail the burden of funny for me on a few points. The first is poor pacing. One or two jokes, no matter how funny, isn’t quite good enough for a fifteen-page story.

Sometimes I pass on a story because I can see where the author is trying to be funny but it just didn’t hit me. If I don’t laugh at least once, the story is probably not going to fit with the rest of the collection.

Another reason might be lack of story. This is a fiction anthology, so they need to be funny stories and not just a series of unrelated jokes. Although, I do have one piece that is a series of afterlife-themed Feghoots but that’s because I have a weakness for the art form.

But beyond that, I’ve gotten more than one submission where I just didn’t see the humor at all. Sometimes to a disturbing level.

I could limit these submissions by being a little tighter with my guidelines. Still, I hate to tell people what is funny because then my submitters can’t surprise me with something new. So, I happily read the incompatible ones and hope there aren’t too many of them between me and the brilliant ones.


Giovanni Francesco Valentino has struggled at the art of writing for four decades against many demons like self-doubt, chronic depression, OCD and severe dyslexia. He has written a few memoir pieces about his struggles going undiagnosed for more than half his life as well as almost a dozen humorous speculative fiction short stories. His long-term goal is to become such a famous science fiction and fantasy author that other people want to write fan fiction in his worlds.

Thanks, GV! Want to connect with Giovanni?





To purchase Alternate Hilarities V: One Star Reviews of the Afterlife, click HERE!

For more stops on the press tour, click HERE!


Wolf Among Sheep: Author Spotlight with Sara Dobie Bauer

Sexy Woman in lingerie With Glass Of Wine

“Incendiary, sensual, and wicked, Wolf Among Sheep is a thrilling reminder that the ecstasy of lust can be peppered with dark and sinister desires. With crackling prose and tension aplenty, Dobie Bauer weaves a sumptuous picture of the American South, alight with characters that lure you into their beds … and then won’t let you go.” – Me

Sara Dobie Bauer‘s latest work, Wolf Among Sheep, an erotic novella published by Hot Ink Press, is really, really good. Dark, demanding, and libidinous, Wolf is for readers who crave mystery and kink amidst solid storytelling and beautiful wordplay.

About Wolf Among Sheep:

“What exactly do you deduce we proposed?”
“That I enter into a sexual relationship with a married couple.”

Avery Collins is an ambitious young journalist in early-1900s Charleston, South Carolina, when exotic newcomers Timothy and Vonnie Duke spot him at a fancy gala on the Battery. The Dukes like bringing pretty playthings to their marriage bed, and with a promotion in mind, Avery entertains their advances not knowing lust can quickly turn to love — and love to murder.

I caught up with Sara to talk about her latest workwriting sex scenes, and, of course, wolves.

What inspired Wolf Among Sheep?

Threesomes. Not kidding. People joke about threesomes. Men and women alike include the fantasy on their sexual bucket list. I’ve even been tempted. But what people forget are the unforeseen emotional connections we make in the bedroom. I don’t claim that a fulfilling threesome is impossible (and probably a lot of fun), but what happens when two of the three involved build a connection and leave the “third wheel” floundering, alone, and angry?

If you could pick one song to represent this particular novella depicting lust, deception, and the American South, what would it be?

Who is your favorite character in Wolf Among Sheep, and why?

Timothy Duke. Not only is he a man of the world, but also he’s an animal in the sack. I’d love to give you more reasons … but I don’t want to give things away.

There is quite a bit of sensuality and eroticism in Wolf Among Sheep. For you, what is necessary in a love scene for you to enjoy reading it? And as a writer, how do you implement your personal reading preferences to construct enjoyable and realistic sex scenes?

I have to give a shit about the characters involved. A lot of bad erotica I’ve read is just two people banging, as if a money shot is enough to make the sex scene good. Writers forget about character development and motivation. Why are these characters banging, and what do they have to gain or lose?

In my own writing, I never start with a sex scene. I create characters. I give them names, backstories, and agendas, and they decide to have sex. They decide the how/when/where, and they let me watch.

And don’t forget: sexual tension is almost better than the money shot.

Do you relate more to wolves or sheep? In the metaphorical sense, of course!

Wolves. I relate to their anticipation of the hunt, and honey, you should see me in six-inch heels. I freakin’ prowl.

Lust, ambition, and jealousy are motivators that play distinct roles in Wolf Among Sheep. Which do you feel is the most potent motivator, and why? (And yes, you have to pick one!)

Jealousy is a paralytic and achieves nothing.

Ambition waxes and wanes.

Lust is the strongest motivator. Lust never goes away, whether it’s lust for a person, success, or that three-carat diamond. Lust appeals to our basest instincts, and let’s face it: we’re all animals.

What do you hope readers will experience while reading Wolf Among Sheep?

Well, I want them to be turned on, obviously. (I was turned on writing it.) I also want them to question who they’re rooting for. Since the story is told from three points of view, readers get to know Vonnie, Timothy, and Avery as individuals. The character who seems heroic on page one might not on page twenty, which goes to show—never trust a wolf in sheep’s clothing. If only you recognize the wolf in time.

About Sara:


Sara Dobie Bauer is a writer, model, and mental health advocate with a creative writing degree from Ohio University. She spends most days at home in her pajamas as a book nerd and sex-pert for Her short story, “Don’t Ball the Boss,” was nominated for the 2015 Pushcart Prize, inspired by her shameless crush on Benedict Cumberbatch. She lives with her hottie husband and two precious pups in Northeast Ohio, although she would really like to live in a Tim Burton film. She is the author of Life without Harry and Forever Dead. World Weaver Press will publish her novel, BITE SOMEBODY, summer of 2016.