THE PASSION STROLL...
a blog by author Ashavan Doyon
And we're back on schedule! Huzzah!
Thommas has found and joined with his mate, Nem, the Prince of Zaharoth, but he still has oaths that bind him with the power of the Realm. Oaths to find Jordan. Oaths to see Jordan and Brian reunited in the Real. The only problem? Jordan is beginning to fray and decay—a mad and tormented, beautiful young man who is being gifted to the scheming Rakibak, the Lady's chamberlain and first adviser.
Can Thommas keep his promise? Will the legacy of Guardian win out over the Lady's hatred for the Traitor of Garuth? Find out in Chapter 19 of The One That Feels.
Missing out? The story is all here, try it from the beginning!
I stood before the gates of the palace. There were no guards. They’d not been needed since the Guardian... since I placed the protections on this realm. I closed my eyes and pressed a hand against the gates. The natives of Garuth watched. Everyone knew the palace was impenetrable. And yet there I was, my hand upon the gates. Futile. Goblins pointed at me and laughed; pixies flitted about. A grim ogre called me a name best not repeated. But I stood, my hand upon the gate and I spoke to it.
They gasped as the troll I’d bound into the gate to protect the palace stepped out of the stone. This one was a creature not of water but of stone and air and a life beat that was the fire of molten rock. It towered above me, its step shaking the realm, looked down upon me and roared.
The crowd fled in terror. Some, no doubt, remembered the legend that towered above them. But this one, this troll of the true blood of that race, he stared down at me and nodded once. Then he retreated back into the wall, sliding into the stone as if it was the very air itself. The gates creaked, a line that was not there before ran down the wall from top to bottom, and the massive portal swung open, just wide enough, just long enough, to admit me. And then the gates slammed closed with an ominous clang.
A lonely Aidan, a confused Steven, and against all hope, a jealous Sammy. Torn between romance and an impossible dream.
Today I’m celebrating the rerelease of Loving Aidan. For an author to have their first novel go out of print is a really hard thing, and I’m so pleased that I’m able to bring back not just story, but also the ones that follow it.
As the little snippet suggests, the story places an out an proud Aidan in a conundrum between Steven, a blue-eyed Adonis who is figuring his life out, and Sammy, the roommate he’s been pining for since they met.
When the story was first released, I shared a short extra with readers—the first meeting between Aidan and Sammy. I think that scene is an important one, but it didn’t fit into the story until over halfway in, and by then it gets resolved with a sentence or two. I’d like to share that with readers again, and hope that it can frame the story, from the abuse that Aidan has received for all his years at school to his attachment to Sammy from the start.
Roommates—a Loving Aidan short
Aidan turned onto the narrow service road that led to the dorm. He pulled up near the building and onto the grass. This early there weren’t many students about yet. Aidan stepped out of the car, wincing a little at the sudden heat. He was dressed as he always did in a long sleeve shirt and a buttoned waistcoat. He pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and lightly dabbed at the sweat that had immediately broken out on his forehead.
“Oooh. Hey, guys, here he is. Our resident piss-ant fag.”
Aidan turned and gave the line of lounging young men a glance. He conceded only a single raised eyebrow as he passed them by, ignoring the ongoing catcalls. He should report them. But nothing was ever done about it. Instead, he entered the small residential office at the side of the building. A student asked his room number, and more numbly than really warranted at this early hour offered him his key. He took it and looked at the label. Samuel Riley.
“This isn’t mine,” he said to one of the students handing out keys.
The perky young woman glanced at it quickly. “Oh, sorry. That’s your roommate’s key.” She ruffled through the box. “Ah, here it is. Sorry about that,” she said, taking the key back from him and handing him another.
“Thanks,” he muttered, and turned to leave, barreling into a very tall young man. He looked up and all he could think of was dark. The man’s skin was charcoal black, and slick from the heat. Aidan stammered a quick apology automatically.
“Ain’t no skin off my teeth,” said the man with a smile, his cheeks showing deep dimples.
Aidan was sure his heart was going to stop, and he quickly looked at the ground to hide the red in his even as he hastened his way to the door. He was hit immediately with another catcall. A row of young men stood idly by cars still stuffed with boxes. The staff would help people later on as more keys were picked up, and they were waiting, as they always did. Most of them wouldn’t carry a single box of their own.
Aidan did not glare, though he wanted to. Instead he went to his car and pulled out the first box.
“Showing off that ass? You maybe want som—” the young man yelped suddenly.
Aidan turned to see the man he’d run into in the office staring down the row of young men.
“Have a problem with him?” asked the man.
“Come on, Sammy, kid’s a fag. Look at him!”
And Sammy looked. Aidan was being given a thorough once over. Sammy chuckled, showing his dimples again and slapped the other man on the shoulder. “Don’t know what you’re worried about. His eyes are on me.” Sammy stripped off his shirt, stuffing it into a back pocket where it hung loosely against his leg. “See?”
“Sammy, he’s looking at you!”
And Aidan was. His eyes were locked on Sammy, on perfectly chiseled abs, gazing across the broad, smooth chest.
“Has taste,” said Sammy with a grin, showing dimples again. “Clearly you lot of cowards got nothin’ to worry about.”
Sammy walked away from the row of young men and stepped up to Aidan. “Need some help?” he asked.
Numbly, Aidan nodded.
Sammy smiled, clapped him on the shoulder, and took the box from his hands. “Let’s get these boxes upstairs.”
Aidan gulped and softly murmured a thank you.
“Ain’t no problem, roommie.”
Aidan’s eyes widened. Sammy. Samuel Riley. Dear God, this was his roommate.
Aidan lives in his books and his writing. I think that’s something that a lot of us can relate to. Just for a moment, join him, step away from the books. Live with him. Love with him. Maybe you’ll fall in love yourself, just a little. It's not everyday you have two men worth fighting for. (Steven’s a bit of a heartbreaker, everyone loves him).
Loving Aidan is published by Purple Horn Press. It was originally released in 2013 by Torquere Press. You can find it here:
Purple Horn Press
At long last, Chapter 18 of The One That Feels is here!
A blissful wedding night has led to Nem becoming more adventurous, more seductive and, importantly, more comfortable in his relationship with Thommas. But the specter of the mission remains. When Iptak returns with information, will it spell disaster for their newfound happiness?
Find out, in Chapter 18 of The One That Feels!
Missed out? Start the story at the beginning. (don't forget to click the read more link!)
I woke, exhausted, head buried in a pillow. My arm searched the bed for my mate, but Nem had gone. It was this realization more than anything that woke me. Waking and finding him gone. I groaned as my eyes adjusted to the light that filtered in through the windows. I shifted in the bed, pushing and pulling and shifting pillows until I was upright and seated. Our clothes were still there, mine in a pile on the floor, Nem’s neatly arranged on the back of a chair.
I took a long deep breath and called out. “Nem?”
The door to the living area where we’d had our ceremony opened, and Nem stepped into the door frame, leaning casually against it. My breath caught as I looked at him, wearing only a narrow bit of silk that covered his privates and hugged tightly to his ass. His hair had been pulled free from the braids, and it hung loose around his face. He smiled at me and mouthed the words “I love you” before moving to the bed and sitting on the edge. He stroked my face gently and then leaned over to kiss me on the forehead.
So I have this lovely cover ready for the February issue of ARDOR.
That's all that's ready. A multitude of craziness has overtaken me, and while I had dim hopes of cranking everything out at the last minute, I just couldn't do it.
Among the other victims? My serial fiction, which shall have to wait until next week for posting (sorry guys) unless I manage to crank THAT out tomorrow before I leave for the Dreamspinner Author Workshop.
I'm going to send an issue of ARDOR briefs instead, and the February issue will just come out a bit late. Here's the positive... are you listening? If you are, you're going to luck out. If you've signed up for ARDOR by the end of the day today, February 28, you'll get info about receiving my new short, American Pride, as a special thank you for keeping up with my craziness.
It's a great story, and my subscribers have been waiting for it for a while. I can't wait for them to get to meet Dusty!
I'll be back after the Dreamspinner Workshop to talk more about my news and the events there, and hopefully by the end of next week February's issue will finally be up on the website.
I've been buried by politics. Yuck. Trying to unbury myself and proud to present Chapter 17 of The One That Feels. If you've been reading, you've probably waited anxiously for this chapter. Nem and Thommas have just made good on the promise spoken at the bridge to enter Garuth... which means there are steamy times in their future. Like immediately in their future. Like if you want to read the hot sexy steamy stuff, it's in this chapter. This one, right here.
If you haven't been reading, as tempting as it may be to skip to the steamy stuff, I'd suggest starting with Chapter 1. For real. Sure you may not need the early chapters to make sense of them having sex. But when you get to Chapter 18, you're going to be really confused if you don't start at the beginning.
February's ARDOR (my newsletter) will be coming out soon. Be sure not to miss it! To make sure, I suggest signing up for the newsletter, which gets you access to ARDOR Briefs, which show up in the alternate months and aren't available at all to non-subscribers. As always, the full newsletter is posted in beautiful pdf format on the ARDOR page.
And now... the steamy stuff:
The glow of the circle faded and I had to fight to recognize anything beyond the slim body that I held so carefully against my own. Nem’s head rested gently against my chest, his arms around me, his hands on my back. He was trembling.
“I’m ready,” he choked out softly.
“Nem, it’s not like that.”
“You said… it wouldn’t be soft or gentle, that you would…”
“That’s had you afraid?”
Nem nodded against my chest.
“Shh,” I said, kissing his forehead, mindful of the great antlers rising from them. “It’s not what I meant, not the way you mean it.”
“It’s not?” he asked, the words coming out in a nervous sputter.
“No.” I pulled back just enough to look down at him, even as he nervously glanced away. “Look at me.”
He looked up, that silver fire subdued as his eyes swirled with dusky grays.
“I love you.”
He trembled and there was a flash of that gorgeous light behind the gray.
“Let me show you?” I asked, stroking the hairline at his forehead, past the elegant rising crown of his antlers, and lifting loose strands of liquid silver hair to tuck them back behind the curved point of his ear. He whimpered softly, and I carefully squatted and then lifted him into my arms, carrying him through the threshold to the bedroom. I set him down and stripped off my tailed jacket, letting it fall to the floor.
I was struck today by how much I feel like I’m living in a short story I read as a child. The Children’s Story, by James Clavell.
Written in response to his daughter coming home from school as a child so proud to have learned the Pledge of Allegiance, but without any understanding of what the words meant, the story illustrates with devastating clarity how quickly cherished ideals can be broken down.
It takes place in what seems to be an elementary school classroom. America has been taken over. The teacher is replaced by someone who is to instruct the youth, and in the course of about twenty-five minutes, this new teacher manages to deconstruct the students’ beliefs to an extent that they end the story cutting the American flag into pieces, because it belongs to all of them, so they should be able to share it.
This story cut me to my core as a child, because the words and tools used by the teacher to change the minds and hearts of the children would work. I see them working. I feel like America is that classroom, and we’re being taught that America means something else.
And just like those children, many of us are believing it. Enough to cut the flag into pieces. Enough to slice up our country into a mockery of what I was taught it was supposed to mean.
In many ways The Children’s Story shook me more than the dystopias of my college days: Brave New World, The Handmaids Tale, We, 1984. More troubling because all of those seemed unlikely and far away. Too implausible. The Children’s Story shook me because I felt like it could happen.
Right now, I’m forced to wonder—is it already?
Lots of exciting news coming, but it's not quite ready yet! In the meantime, our intrepid duo has entered Garuth. Safe from pursuit from Zaharoth, at least for the moment, the pair never-the-less must face another reality. They swore an oath in the Realm, and they are bound to it. Thommas and Nem must marry. Can Thommas match Nem's joy at their impending nuptials? Can he admit the feelings that mean setting aside any chance at a future with a love he felt destined for?
Find out in Chapter 16 of The One That Feels! Missed out on the early chapters? Check it out from the beginning: Chapter 1.
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Nem looked at the clothes the goblin had laid out for him with an arched eyebrow, his long, thin fingers delicately prodding the last item—a slim bit of silk.
“You want me to wear this?” Nem asked.
“Under the other clothes,” I said, stepping up to him and rubbing my beard into his cheek.
I kissed a spot underneath his ear and whispered, very softly, “Because it’s sexy. You’ll look so hot in them. Don’t feel you have to. Brian never would, so it’s not like….”
Nem reached up, though he did not turn, simply leaned back against me as his hand cupped my cheek. “It’s important to you?”
“For you to want to be sexy for me. Yeah,” I said, kissing him on the cheek. “I’ll know, all through the ceremony. I’ll know that you’re just waiting for it to be over so I can take those clothes off and you’ll be wearing that. And I”—my breath was heavy—“I’ll be on fire for you.”
First of all, if you were looking for ARDOR briefs, I'm so sorry, that's one of the things that got dropped in the craziness last month. Never fear, the full issue will be out in a few days—first few articles are already written. If you haven't signed up I truly recommend it. And there really truly is some free stuff coming for subscribers, I hope before the end of the year.
When last we left our intrepid heroes, they had eluded the knights of Zaharoth by negotiating passage into Garuth with the bridge troll. The toll? A truth, spoken with the power that all oaths have on those of the Real. Now our heroes are in the city. Will Thommas go through with it and elope with Nem as he has sworn to do? Find out now!
What do you mean you don't know what's going on? Why not? It's free! New chapters are posted twice a month. Go read chapter one and get caught up.
Nem held tightly to me from the moment we entered Garuth, never without contact against my skin for more than a moment. I knew why, but it still unsettled me. I had been long alone, and I hadn’t felt the familiar clutch of a hand on my forearm, against my waist, brushing my back—all those little touches—in what seemed an age. Now they were there, desperate, and I felt them to my bones.
I gave Nem what I hoped was a reassuring glance as we made our way through the streets. I had clothes again, a shirt meant to be worn loose that clung to my frame on account of being several sizes too small. Nem had bargained for it with a merchant on the road as we approached the inner districts, and my pleas that I didn’t care did nothing to dissuade him. He’d proudly stripped me of his cloak and pulled the shirt onto me with promises that if I’d just wear it he’d be all too happy to rip it off me when the time was right. I didn’t ask what he meant me to do for a shirt after that. I don’t think he’d th0ught much beyond the moment.
In the city, I felt eyes watching us. Nem’s features alone marked him as nobility, and most of these creatures, from goblin to pixie, could sense the Real that oozed from me, even if the light of that place was tightly held in by glamour. Nem was clearly used to the attention, but it had been long since I’d walked the streets of a city in the Realm.
He brushed a hand against my cheek. “Are you well?” he asked, his voice husky and sexy beside me. It still managed to be musical, and I wondered idly whether it was his glamour or my feelings that made it so.
When I first started looking at publishing my gay romances, I struggled to find a publisher, as any unknown author does. I submitted Loving Aidan to the publisher I felt was strongest, but for whatever reason, it failed to meet the needs of their editorial calendar at the time. Maybe it was the angst level, or perhaps they rightly identified the struggles readers have had between Aidan's dual interest in both Sammy and Steven. Maybe they felt I wasn't ready, or they simply had enough new adult romances on their calendar. It doesn't matter. It was rejected and I fell apart for a little while.
Many of the gay male romance publishers still published anthologies at the time, and I decided to try instead to get into one of those. Unwilling to give up on Loving Aidan, I researched publishers and instead of settling on the strongest, I settled on one of the most venerable. Torquere was small. It didn't promise a lot of sales, but it had a good, solid reputation, longevity. I was seeing a series for these books, and I wanted that sense of longevity. So I took my chance and submitted the story again.
Torquere accepted the story, and the sequel, and the sequel after that. Loving Aidan became the first of the College Rose Romances, a series of new adult gay male romances focusing on the college experience. A series full of angst, drama, trauma, and love.
It was a series that reviewers either loved or hated. Sales were moderate, but enough that I kept getting books accepted, kept receiving encouragement.
Then the rumors started. There were authors who weren't getting paid. Ridiculous, I thought. I checked my statements, the status of my checks. I bluntly asked the owners about it and was assured that everything was fine.
Everything was not fine. Earlier this week, Torquere notified its authors that it would begin the process of closing down. I could feel my heart break. My series was going to die. My requests to get my rights back were sitting in mailboxes. The paper copy sent registered mail hadn't been picked up, and I knew from communication with other authors that I was not alone in this.
When I was contemplating sending my books to Torquere, some friends had recommended Silver instead. I remember doing my research and deciding against it because of a warning sign I'd come across in researching the press. I felt like I'd dodged a bullet. Maybe I had. But I got caught in a ricochet. EC, Silver, Samhain. Torquere.
My books for Torquere are a series. More than any payment, I needed a piece of paper returning my rights. Without it, the series was dead in the water. James, whose story I've been working on these past months, would never live for readers. Getting my rights back meant losing my covers. But I can deal with that. I can design a new cover.
I am heart broken. The college rose weeps. My dreams are shattered.
Today I received my rights back. The rose is not dead. Just maybe, if I tend it, the college rose will bloom. Peach blossoms will shine and you will all meet James again, and just maybe, you'll forgive him.
(* Torquere retains all rights to the cover of Loving Aidan. The image accompanying this post is separately licensed through 123rf.com)
I've been missing in action for a couple weeks. I know that is small comfort for those who have been waiting for Chapter 15 of The One That Feels, and maybe, hopefully, you've missed by scintillating personality as well on the between weeks.
This election cycle has put a lot of stress on me, more than I'm used to, and the election results have made it worse rather than better. When you put all that stress into a pressure cooker including National Novel Writing Month, Thanksgiving, the release of an anthology collection and two novellas and an eleven stop blog tour, something had to give. I'd hoped it wouldn't be my own blog, which should have been promoting The Rodeo Knight right along with the blog tour. Sadly I didn't even get ARDOR briefs, the off month email only newsletter, out to subscribers.
On top of it all, this is the one year anniversary of losing my pug Piggy, and I am still in the early adjustment period of a new job. Which are all excuses for the end result: some posts haven't been getting up. Left to choose between mine and the ones promised to other blogs for the blog tour, I made sure the blog tour still happened.
I know what the problem is and it's not an easy immediate fix. Obviously these stressful points are going to hit and hit hard from time to time, and I need to have some posts prepped in advance so that when they do they're invisible to readers. I'm not there yet, so I'm asking you to hold in there with me while I work to get there.
The good news: I have not disappeared. I'm still here, if a little tired. Chapter 15 exists and just needs a spit shine before it gets posted. Also: new books... The Rodeo Knight, the second edition of The King's Mate, and The Chess Master Chronicles have all released. There was an 11 stop blog tour and I encourage you to check that out! If you're counting that's over 11,000 words worth of me talking about the books, and there's some cool info in there you won't find anywhere else.
Chapter 15 will be posted soon™, I hope by Monday of next week. In the meantime, take in some of that blog tour, read my Sam's Cafe Romances, and prepare for the release of December's ARDOR, which will be out before Christmas.
Is there a Christmas scene any of you are anxious to see with my existing characters? I haven't written a holiday short this year, but it's not out of the question. Let me know in the comments.
Writer of the mysterious, fantastic, and the romantic. Sometimes sappy. Often angsty. Always searching for the sexy. Stories about men who love men.