Guest Post with Ally Lester

Hi everyone! I’m Ally Lester and I write queer romance across the rainbow spectrum as A. L. Lester. Firstly, thank you so much for having me visit your blog today Jackson! I’m really delighted to be here and to get to chat with your readers.

I’ve come to talk about Warning! Deep Water my release that is coming out on Saturday 7th May. It’s part of a project with Holly Day, Nell Iris, K. L. Noone and Amy Spector. As regular readers of my blog will know, Ofelia Grand (who also writes as Holly), Nell Iris and I write together in the early mornings. This involves a fair amount of chat and discussion about what we’re working on. As Holly, Ofelia writes stories to mark all the different holidays throughout the year and one day in December we were teasing her about what she should write next. We joked that World Naked Gardening Day would be an excellent idea…and lo and behold, here are five of us writing on a similar theme.

Warning! Deep Water! is a 16,300 word novella set in England in 1948. When given half a chance I slip back in time, obviously. It’s set on a horticultural nursery in Somerset. Did I grow up on a horticultural nursery in Somerset? Yes, yes I did. Was this weird? Yeah, a bit—half way through I realised I was having trouble writing any scenes with sexing because the MC reminded me of my dad. Did I change that fairly rapidly? YES, DEAR READER. YES I DID.

Once I’d got over that little hiccup however, it was extremely fun to write. For my historical background I rang my mum. She and my dad met in the 1950s whilst they were working on a nursery that grew mostly chrysanthemums. During the second world war, the place had had to stop growing flowers and focus on growing food. They grew lettuce and tomatoes, mostly to supply the local army camp, and were only allowed to grow a small amount of flowers every year to keep the stock fresh. After the war, once food supplies weren’t such an issue, they expanded back in to flowers and by the time the nursery shut and was sold for building at the end of the 20th century, they were known all over the country for their different varieties—they were the people that other nurseries bought cuttings and rootstock from.

This was the place on which I based Roseland, as a sort of mash-up with my own memories. My family’s place was more diverse—they grew flowers and tomatoes, lettuce, beans and cucumbers; and had pick-your-own fruit as time went on. In later years, my Mama grew plants and sold them at local country markets. We had three big stoke-holes that I remember being converted from coal to oil as a child in the 1970s. Before that we had regular deliveries of coal to keep it going.

The big water tank where George finds Peter swimming is directly modelled on the irrigation tank in #1 greenhouse. It always fascinated me…the mossy sides and the stillness of the water. It’s pumped up from a bore-hole and is fresh and crystal clear. We weren’t allowed to go in the greenhouse by ourselves in case we fell in and drowned, and I can remember getting the bollocking of my life one day when there wasn’t much water in there and my sister and I slid a ladder over and climbed down inside to paddle.

It was an idyllic childhood—of course there were dangers, from water tanks, to piles of broken glass from the greenhouses, to sharp tools, machinery and weedkillers. But we pretty much ran wild when we wanted to. Roseland is an affectionate look back at that and I hope that comes across behind Peter and George’s story.

If you want to find out some more about me and my books, my website is allester.co.uk, where you can sign up to my newsletter for a free paranormal-historical novella; or you can find me on social media, mostly as @CogentHippo. For now though, here’s a bit more about the story, and an excerpt.

Warning! Deep Water

It’s 1947. George is going through the motions, sowing seeds and tending plants and harvesting crops. The nursery went on without him perfectly well during the war and he spends a lot of time during the working day hiding from people and working on his own. In the evening he prowls round the place looking for odd jobs to do.

It’s been a long, cold winter and Peter doesn’t think he’ll ever get properly warm or clean again. Finding a place with heated greenhouses and plenty of nooks and crannies to kip in while he’s recovering from nasty flu was an enormous stroke of luck. He’s been here a few days now. The weather is beginning to warm up and he’s just realised there’s a huge reservoir of water in one of the greenhouses they use to water the plants. He’s become obsessed with getting in and having an all-over wash.

What will George do when he finds a scraggy ex-soldier bathing in his reservoir? What will Peter do? Is it time for them to both stop running from the past and settle down?

A Naked Gardening Day short story of 16,300 words.

BUY JMS BOOKS $2.99 : WIDE BUY LINKS TBA

Excerpt

“You didn’t say you liked music,” Peter said, as they were sitting across the table from each other over a cup of tea, once he’d finally pulled himself away from the instrument and reverentially closed the keyboard.

“Well,” said Peter. “It didn’t come up, did it?” He paused. “Mother used to play a bit,” he said, eventually. “Not like that, though. Hymns, mostly. She was big on chapel.”

There was clearly a story there.

“It’s nice to hear it played,” George went on. “Instruments should be used, not just sat there as part of the furniture. And…,” he paused again and blushed, “And you play very well.”

“Well,” said Peter shuffling with embarrassment. “I learned as a nipper and just carried on with it. Dad wanted me to go and study somewhere, but I wanted to get out and earn. It would have taken the joy out of it if I’d had to pass exams and such.”

George nodded. “I can see that. And you’re good with your hands.” He blushed again and became very absorbed with mashing the tiny amount of butter left from the ration into his baked potato.

Peter coughed. “Well yes,” he said. He couldn’t help smiling a little at George, although he didn’t let him see. He forged on. He really didn’t want him to be uncomfortable. “I think mathematics and music sort of go together, you know? And I was always good with numbers as well…it’s a good trait in a joiner.”

George nodded, clearly feeling they were on less dangerous territory. “Yes,” he said. “There’s all sorts of things you can use maths for; but music is pretty rarefied, isn’t it?”

Peter nodded. “This way I get to keep the music and earn a living. There’s always work for a carpenter, like you said the other day.”

He gradually became less self-conscious about playing when George and Mrs Leland were in the house over the next few weeks. It made him feel like another piece of what made him a person was coming back to life.

****

What it didn’t do was make him any less confused about what was happening between him and George. Half the time he thought George was completely uninterested. But then something would happen that would make him reconsider. The comment about being good with his hands was a case in point. It was a perfectly commonplace thing to say and George shouldn’t have been embarrassed. But he had been. Which meant he’d thought of it in a context that might cause embarrassment.

Peter spent several very enjoyable hours spread over several evenings working through different variations of what the other man might have been thinking.

George was nobody’s Bogart. But he was decent-looking. Nice face, especially when he smiled. A bit soft round the middle, but otherwise hard muscled from the physical work he did day in, day out. Clever…did his own accounts. Liked music. Made Peter laugh with his dry commentary on things in the paper or local gossip and the social pickles the girls reported on in the break room.

Peter liked him a lot. And fancied him. After the third night of considering at length how he could demonstrate how good with his hands he actually was, he gave up pretending. He fancied George a lot.

About A. L. Lester

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Writer of queer, paranormal, historical, romantic suspense, mostly. Lives in the South West of England with Mr AL, two children, a terrifying cat, some hens and the duckettes. Likes gardening but doesn’t really have time or energy. Not musical. Doesn’t much like telly. Non-binary. Chronically disabled. Has tedious fits.

Facebook Group : Twitter : Newsletter (free story) : Website : Link-tree for everywhere else

Guest Post from M. A. Church

Today’s blog is going to take us far away from Larkspur Hall and my Victorian mystery writing. Please let me introduce M.A. Church who spends most of her author life amongst aliens on far away planets. Her current romance series are extremely popular and are described as “Awesome SciFi”. She is here to tell us a little more about how the series began and to share a couple of excerpts to tempt you into trying something new. Welcome!


Hey y’all! I’m M.A. Church. I’ve been doing this writing stuff now since 2010. I write mostly paranormal and scifi. I guess the books I’m best known for are The Harvest series, which qualified me for SFWA. This series of books is mpreg, but the actual birthing happens in book two, The Harvest: Journey’s End.

So, do aliens interest you?

What about spaceships?

How about a breeding program?

The Harvest: Taken is the first book in the Tah’Narian universe. It covers Dale’s journey through one of the scariest times in human history. It’s a story of forgiveness, righting wrongs, learning to trust, and finally, falling in love. Sounds interesting? Then I hope you’ll join Dale and the gang on a journey which will lead to the love of a lifetime.

The spin-off series, The Next Generation, follows the young from The Harvest series. I’m working on the last book in that series now. It’s finally Laken’s turn to find the love of his life.

These books will take you on a nonstop adventure through several worlds. Four couples are bound together by the cosmos, and each has a different path they must tread.

This is where it all began:

My name is Dale Michaels. A simple name, right? Nothing very memorable about it, that’s for sure. Or about me, either. I’m just a regular guy with average looks, a loving family who didn’t care I was gay, and good friends.

Just a guy.

Little did I know just how special I was to one Tah’Narian spaceship captain named Keyno Shou, or how he would change my life. *shakes head* Don’t think he swept me off my feet. He didn’t. What he did do was harvested under the agreed age limit, take me from my family, mutate my DNA so I could have kids, tell me I have a deadly disease, claim me as his mate, and destroy the life I knew.

I was not happy, to say the least. Pissed didn’t even cover what I felt. But what’s a guy to do on a spaceship orbiting Earth surrounded by a bunch of aliens with technology far more advanced than ours?

While I was still trying to figure out how to handle the attraction I had for Keyno, a bunch of men who were harvested revolted and tried to take over Keyno’s ship… and I got to see how deeply Keyno cared for me. I also met the person who staged the rebellion, the infamous gang leader, Colt 45.

This is the beginning of my story; a story that’s action-packed, emotionally tough, and truly is the love of a lifetime.

~Michael

The Harvest: Taken

Blurb

We are not alone.

In the year 2050 mankind’s never-ending quest for proof life exists in the universe is answered—in the form of massive space ships that appear without warning above the capitals of all major nations. The name of their planet is Tah’Nar—and is dying. The United States sets up a lottery system, and each young man between the ages of twenty-three and twenty-eight is assigned a number.

Once a year, for the next five years, numbers will be drawn and a new set of one thousand males will be collected. The media coined the expression ‘The Harvest’ for when the Tah’Narian’s collect these young men.

Captain Keyno Landium Shou is a Tah’Narian starship captain who has been granted the right to take a mate, any mate, he wants during the last harvest on Earth. Dale was seventeen when the aliens first appeared. His parents assumed he’d be safe since the final collection would be done before he turned twenty-three. He didn’t fall within the guidelines established, so they took for granted he had nothing to fear.

They were wrong.

Buy link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00O4E6Y7Q

Excerpt from The Harvest: Taken

It was in the year 2050 when humanity found out that it was, indeed, not alone in the universe.

They appeared without warning above the capitals of all major nations. The huge, menacing, and completely unresponsive space ships dominated the skies, sending the media into a complete tailspin. The governments of our world argued back and forth on what to do. But, in the end, they did nothing.

First contact came within hours of the sightings. The question of what these aliens wanted prompted emergency closed-door meetings by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Union of South American Nations, the African Union, the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs, and NATO. The media speculated endlessly. The talks with the aliens lasted for two days, while the world waited and watched. Early on the morning of the third day, news agencies released the details.

The name of their planet was Tah’Nar—and it was dying. Originally, the Tah’Narians were an intersexed warrior race. Chemical warfare had essentially rendered them sterile. Many scientists, from all over the world, eagerly volunteered their assistance to aid the alien race.

After about a week of this, a press release from our government stated that the two strands of DNA were too fragile to be frozen and transported through space. The release claimed that the nucleobases—the four molecules that form the genetic building blocks of DNA—would be damaged and might even disintegrate once the alien starships jumped to star drive, the method used to travel through time and space so quickly. Simply put, it was easier to protect people than extracted DNA.

Each government reached agreements—and boy, didn’t that take a while—that these men would return to Earth once the program was completed. Here in the United States a lottery system was set up. Our government assigned a number to young men between the ages of twenty-three and twenty-eight. Then once a year, for the next five years, the lotto took place.

The benefits to our own world hovered foremost in the mind of every government official present at the meeting. The Tah’Narians required DNA for their harvesting program. Participating males were required to transport to their world since Earthlings couldn’t duplicate their technology. This, of course, triggered all sorts of questions. Why couldn’t this technically advanced race build what they needed to extract the DNA? The story had more holes in it than Swiss cheese.

Those unfortunate men were collected and escorted to holding centers where a battery of medical and psychological tests was run on the subjects. Once they passed the tests, transportation to waiting spaceships occurred. Other industrialized nations followed our example and set up their own lottery systems. Word soon leaked that our government targeted gay men, but officials vehemently denied the rumors.

The media coined the expression ‘The Harvest’ for the times when the Tah’Narians would return to collect these young men.

Added bonus! Excerpt from the last book in The Next Gen series, Bound by War (coming soon):

THE SCENT of food woke Torin. His mouth watered, and his stomach growled.

Opening his eyes, he surveyed the room. Curtains now enclosed the medibed giving him some privacy. Machines beeped, reading his vitals. Nevertheless, none of that indicated how much time had passed. His muscles warmed as blood flow increased, and his stomach rumbled again, more loudly this time.

He heard a low chime of bells and the scent of the ocean washed over him.

“Well, I’d say you’re hungry. I can hear that all the way over here. Just a moment, and I’ll be right there.”

So the male hadn’t broken his word. Ridiculous how reassuring that was. Laken’s voice soothed him, and the sweet melody from the bells Laken wore in his hair had infiltrated Torin’s sleep.

Blishue didn’t depend on anyone, much less let their guard down, and that included around his own kind. But he’d slept soundly with a stranger next to him. That was troublesome. As were the annoying IVs. That he hadn’t ripped out them out was its own minor miracle. Being drugged left him vulnerable.

How many hits to the head had he taken?

He stretched, his joints popping. His mind was heavy and sluggish, but there was no pain. He eyed the IV. This was ludicrous. He couldn’t think straight. Maybe he should yank it out and—

“Ah, yeah, I wouldn’t do that if I was you.” Laken nudged the curtain open and ducked inside.

The sight of Laken hit Torin like a space shuttle. How had he not noticed the ice-blue gemstones that sparkled in the overhead lights? They winked from his ears, wrists, ankles, and nipples. The male had his nipples pierced.

His.

Nipples.

Pierced.

Here’s my deets:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/M.A.-Church/e/B007A8JA4C

Newsletter: https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/y5n3y2

M.A. Church’s Author Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/421945898329522

Blog: http://machurch00.blogspot.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/nomoretears00

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/machurch00

Tik Tok: https://www.tiktok.com/@machurch00?lang=en

The Harvest FB fan page: https://www.facebook.com/theharvest00

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/nomoretears00

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/5141393.M_A_Church

Email: nomoretears00@hotmail.com

If you join my newsletter, you get the bonus short story from the The Harvest world–Chad’s story! https://storyoriginapp.com/giveaways/d6c37b98-9af1-11eb-826f-f774e9edc2fc

Guest Post from Merry Farmer

Today I am excited to welcome, fellow MM Author, Merry Farmer to the blog. Merry has just celebrated the latest release in her Slippery Slope Series set amongst the gay club scene of 1890’s New York.

So, whilst my Clearwater Crew were solving mysteries in London and Cornwall let’s sit back and learn a little about what was happening on the other side of the Atlantic. Welcome Merry!

The Gay Club Scene of New York…in the 1890s

I have to giggle a little. Before I had even published the first book in my new series, The Slippery Slope—A Touch of Romance—I had people raising an eyebrow at me, scoffing, and saying “The gay club scene of the 1890s????” Saying that as though there couldn’t possibly be any way that gay men were able to live their lives openly, let alone had a thriving club scene back then.

This makes me giddy, because it means I get to share some of that lost knowledge that historians of the mid-20th century so effectively (and regrettably) swept under the carpet. Because the fact of the matter is that there was a concerted effort on the part of historians in “the golden years” of the 20th century to brainwash everyone into thinking that gay men have always been in the closet, ashamed of themselves, and terrified of coming out, lest they be killed.

Guess what? The truth couldn’t be further from that. While it’s true that there were laws against sodomy (in England) and gay marriage was a century off, the acceptance of alternative lifestyles has waxed and waned throughout history. It’s hard for some people to believe, but prior to the 20th century, there were actually times when the LGBTQ community was left alone or, even, yes, allowed to thrive without too much interference.

For most people prior to the 20th century, a big part of this was because ALL stories of intimacy and anything that so much as hinted at sexual relationships—even heterosexual intimacy and relationships—was something people just didn’t talk about openly. Period. And when there isn’t a microscope or social media coverage focused on you twenty-four/seven, people are able to get away with so much more than we in the era of instant communication can comprehend.

But when it came to the gay club scene of New York City—specifically The Bowery—in the 1890s, things were as open and publicized as could be.

The Bowery 1905

The Bowery was well known for being a center of “sin” within New York City. The clubs and brothels that filled downtown became so popular that new slang terms were invented by young people from uptown, from outside of the city, and even tourists coming from overseas, to describe it. “Going slumming” was so popular that guide books to the seedier clubs were produced so that visitors could get their fill. Clubs in The Bowery that featured drag queens (also a historically accurate term of the era) and male prostitutes were some of the favorite “dives” for people to visit.

The Bowery Queen. A drag performer circa 1890s
“The Bowery Queen.” Drag performer images circa 1890s
(https://www.boweryalliance.org/did-you-know-this-about-the-bowery/)

For the men who made the clubs of The Bowery their home—or their home away from home—however, these places provided a much-needed safe haven where they could be themselves, if only in the evenings and on the weekends. In his seminal work Gay New York, historian George Chauncey writes at length, using first-hand accounts collected and recorded from the 1920s through the 1960s by men who lived in this scene, about the lives gay men lived there.

The club scene of the 1890s and early part of the 20th century was a place where the rules weren’t just relaxed, they were thrown out the window. Though it was illegal to cross-dress in public in New York during this era, presentation of all sorts was accepted and encouraged in clubs like The Slide (the actual club I’ve modeled the club in my series on). Even though The Slide was raided by police and closed down in 1891, its patrons simply moved their activities to other clubs in The Bowery and resumed the wild good times that they had enjoyed there.

The clubs were more than just scenes of debauchery and excitement, though. They were places where men could be themselves, if only for a while. The very term “coming out” was coined as a result of the “debutante balls” that were held in clubs in New York—ones in The Bowery, but also clubs that catered specifically to men of color in locations like Harlem—where gay men presented themselves as their more feminine persona for the first time. These coming out balls were so popular that they were reported on in newspapers of the time, and they were considered highlight events for people of all levels and types of societies.

My hope in writing The Slippery Slope series is to capture some of this exciting time in LGBTQ History, and to shed light on the things that have been deliberately buried by biased historians. George Chauncey is just one of many historians working in this “new” area of study, and I’m certain that even more, fascinating information will come out in years to come that will further change our view of what life was like for gay men back then.


A Touch of Romance, released 15th April

Blurb

He crossed the ocean to escape from love…

Journalist Marcus Albright did not run away from his London home when he accepted an assignment in New York City. His interest in writing a series of articles about the popular club scene of The Bowery has nothing to do with the disastrous end of a long-term relationship, or his desire to stay as far away from love and commitment that he possibly can. His only concern is enjoying the vibrancy and color that The Slippery Slope is famous for.

…but love has other plans…

Jasper Werther loves his wild, flamboyant life, but the moment Marcus steps into The Slippery Slope, he knows he wants more. Particularly after spending a romantic night out on the town with Marcus as his drag persona, Blaise Rose. After waiting a lifetime for acceptance of everything he is, Jasper believes it’s finally within his grasp.

…until heartbreak strikes.

When a policeman with ambitions threatens to shut down The Slippery Slope, Jasper has a bigger problem than trying to woo a man who has sworn never to fall in love again. Everything within Marcus tells him not to get involved, but he is drawn back to Jasper, no matter how hard he fights it. Will Jasper and Marcus get a second chance at love, or will the pain of the past keep them apart?

Fall in love with romance, a high society ball, a wild, downtown party, a trip to Coney Island, a colorful cast of characters, and a last-minute confession that will keep you turning pages!

PLEASE BE ADVISED: Steam level – very spicy! And yes, this is an m/m romance involving friends to lovers, second chances, and fabulous drag queens, so if that’s not your thing, feel free to pass on this one.

You can keep up to date with Merry’s news at http://merryfarmer.net and she invites you to sign up for her quarterly newsletter: http://eepurl.com/RQ-KX

Coming Soon!