Posts Tagged ‘lgbtq’


Q&A: Santino Hassell, Karen Stivali, and Damon Suede

3 book graphic with release dates - new - final

Today we have a special treat for you with not one, not two, but three authors in a join Q&A!!! Santino Hassell, Karen Stivali, and Damon Suede are all on tour together for their newest releases, Sunset Park, Moment of Silence, and Pent Up respectively! Enjoy their answers, and check back next week or the second part of their interview! Be sure and pick up their books today too!


What was the first romance novel you read? What do you remember about it? What did you like most about it?

Karen: Something I stole from my grandmother who was a romance novel addict and brought 10 when she’d visit for a week. She later kept me in my addiction by always leaving her books for me. I don’t remember a lot of titles, just that there were a lot Danielle Steele books. I do remember snagging her copy of The Thorn Birds (but it wasn’t my first). I also remember my mother flipping through some of these books, horrified, and asking “WHY do they have to have so much SEX in them?” And my grandmother and I just looked at each other and laughed. I was a very mature 11 year old at the time. Didn’t matter. I’d read all the Judy Blume books and snuck in reads of my father’s copies of Portnoy’s Complaint and Fear Of Flying already, so I was prepared for all the sexy bits (which were usually my favorite parts). What I liked most about all of the books I read was watching the characters fall in love. That still fascinates me today and is a big part of why I write romance.

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Guest Post

Top Five Tropes in the M/M Romance Genre

I’m a fussy reader. I choose my M/M romances, both to review and read, carefully. If I venture outside my comfort zone (where comfort stands, trendily, for D&G – Dark and Gritty), it’s usually because I allow myself to be seduced by a specific author, subgenre or trope.

Some tropes I don’t particularly care for.  For example, the Insta Love theme, with no romantic build up or a decent back-story, rubs me the wrong way.  Similarly, the Rescue Me (because I’m a highly incompetent fu**wit) motif doesn’t float my boat, either.  Interestingly, I don’t mind the Help Me Heal (because I’m broken and damaged) kind of trope.  The Age Gap and Forbidden Love themes can be a bit hit-and-miss with me. I perceive the Fake Boyfriends trope as a guilty pleasure, but when written right, it can be a riot.

The tropes I enjoy most play on strong emotions and utilise angst. I crave anguish, pure and undiluted, in my books.  Nesting in me there is this, somewhat masochistic, desire to have my heart mercilessly torn out and ground into pathetic little pieces.  Shred me, dammit, and make it hurt.  Only then, put me back together by the time I hit the last page, and leave me sighing contentedly with slightly dampened lashes.

Here goes. My five favourite classic tropes, often found in M/M romances.

5. Friends to Lovers… or I’m Coming at Ya, Bro!

Who doesn’t like a bromance?  The best relationships are the ones build on friendship. The foundations are already laid – trust, fondness, effortless camaraderie.  This trope offers a great deal of potential for humour through friendly banter and familiarity.

Typically, one character is a bit slow on the uptake.  Clueless and oblivious, he doesn’t realise the other has developed feelings beyond friendship, although the torch his friend has been carrying is three times the size of the Olympic’s.  Initially, he doesn’t, or thinks he doesn’t (duh!), reciprocate.  The unrequited love related suffering, coupled often with miscommunication, is great enough to make both the character and the reader gravely miserable and anxious, before the air starts sizzling and the attraction demands mutual acknowledgment.  The hesitation to act on it and take the plunge stems from the fears of wrecking the friendship to the point of no return.  Eventually, the resistance is futile – the coffee is smelt, the risks are taken and the pants are dropped.

Once the relationship becomes sexually charged and the intimacy is involved, the characters enter the uncharted territory.  The comfortable ease becomes strained awkwardness, and things are no longer simple. Sh** gets complicated and that’s the interesting part for me.

It’s not easy to write a compelling, heart-wrenching and endearing bromance with some depth to it. What grabs my attention, is the shift in the dynamics between the characters – I want to see how their relationship changes, when it ceases being merely platonic, how that affects their interactions and where it leads.  Ultimately, this trope is about realising that sometimes happiness might be right in front of us, but we’re too engrossed in the very process of searching for it, to notice.

Nunzio & Michael (Sutphin Boulevard by S. Hassell)

Griff & Dante (Hot Head by D. Suede)

Nick & Kelly (The Sidewinder Series by A. Roux)

Taylor & Will (Dangerous Ground by J. Lanyon)

Hobbs & Calvin (The THIRDS Series by C. Cochet)

4. Clash of Backgrounds… or Mix-and-Match.

I strongly subscribe to the Strength lies in differences philosophy.  My own relationship could be classed as a bi-national, bi-cultural and bi-lingual hybrid, and I can say with a vague air of authority that it definitely keeps things from becoming dull.   One of the reasons why this trope appeals to me is because – please excuse the lingo resembling Equality Is Us leaflet – it promotes and embraces diversity.

I refer to the word background here in the broadest possible sense, meaning differences of status, ethnicity, race and culture.  While I’m not a massive fan of the wealthy man vs. poor man dichotomy, because it’s rather trite, clichéd and one-dimensional, I’m quite fond of the city boy vs. country boy theme.  I especially enjoy the Love over the Class Divide (doesn’t it sound like a rather hazardous sex position?) theme, as it carries an equally huge capacity for humour, as it does for drama.  The tropes playing on those differences frequently incorporate the topics of discrimination, prejudice, and intolerance.  They may also explore the strain of facing animosity or disdain from the partner’s friends or family and struggling with a feeling of inadequacy and inferiority.

The way the characters deal with their differences is the most compelling part for me. Does it tear them apart or make them stronger as a couple?  Is it enriching or detrimental to their relationship?  Essentially, this trope is about discovering if people can be different, yet compatible at the same time.  It poses an interesting question:  Are love and acceptance strong enough to overcome dissimilarities and bias?

Seb & Dex (Heart by G. Leigh)

Ray & David (Sunset Park by S. Hassell)

James & Cal; Spencer & Nick (The Market Garden Series by L.A. Witt & A. Voinov)

Josiah, Mateo & Tristan (The Broken Pieces Series by R. Hart)

Nichol & Cam (Scrap Metal by H. Fox)

3. Out For You… or Leaving Narnia.

This is an interesting one, which works a treat especially within the law enforcement environment, with their added pressures and prejudices.  Typically, we’ve got this tough, cool dude, straight acting and straight looking.  His outlook on life is of a traditional variety and due to family or work related issues, he’s deeply closeted.  Initially, he’s not fully embracing his same-sex inclinations, although he is fully aware of those desires and usually has acted on them in the past.

Next thing he knows, he meets someone challenging and after his failed attempts to downplay the significance of this casual, (at first), arrangement, he falls in love.  The sexy times are always incredibly hot, and the passion – undeniable.  After a while, his partner gets sick and tired of the constant sneaking about and being kept a dirty secret on the side.  This situation generates multiple conflicts and trust issues, as well as a lot of hurt and resentment.  Often the tension is so great, that it breaks the couple up. At this stage, the angst and drama are practically dripping from the pages at an alarming rate, just like raspberry coulis from a decent panna cotta, both phenomena equally delicious.

What I find most intriguing about this trope are the reasons behind the character’s eventual decision to come out, the circumstances leading directly to the big ta-dah and how it affects his partner and their relationship.  Moreover, this theme is sometimes accompanied by a fascinating insight on how the characters discover their sexuality, how they perceive it and come to terms with it.

Jake & Adrien (The Adrien English Series by J. Lanyon)

Ash & Cael (The THIRDS Series by C. Cochet)

Jory & Sam (The Matter of Time Series by M. Calmes)

Mac & Tony (The Life Lessons Series by K. Harper)

Evan & Matt (The Faith, Love & Devotion Series by T. Michaels)

2. Enemies to Lovers… or I Hate Your Guts. Now Drop Your Pants.

Fierce emotions, like instantaneous mutual animosity or strong dislike, are fuel for romance.  As far as this trope goes, I don’t require the guys to be arch-enemies per se.  It’s more about them being on the opposite sides of a conflict or experiencing a major personality clash.  All is laced – needless to say – with an intense physical attraction. The sparkling chemistry is too powerful to be denied or resisted.  However, it doesn’t mean the poor bastards won’t attempt holding back – gah!  The initial antipathy, hostility or rivalry between the characters makes them, and consequently the reader, stiff (in more ways than one) with unresolved sexual tension and antici…pation.

Eventually, the friction is defused through a bout or ten of hot, angry and raw hate-sex, bringing about all kinds of fireworks.  This arrangement usually continues for a while, kept on the down low and perceived by both characters, rather naively, as a casual thing of no emotional importance.  A lot of fronting accompanies some downright stinking dismissive attitudes.  This trope holds a special appeal to me, in particular, in the military or the law enforcement setting.  Due to the nature of the circumstances, secrecy and skulking around is necessary, creating additional suspense.  Inevitably, the characters are forced to man up, often by external circumstances, and face reality, by admitting that the sex has led to more and the dreaded feelings are now involved. Hallelujah. Phew.

What I find particularly touching, is the development of the emotional bond and trust over time.  I love the transformation from just indulging in meaningless sex, however great, to being in a tender, committed, loving and supportive relationship.

Zane & Ty (The Cut and Run Series by A. Roux & M. Urban)

Dan & Vadim (The Special Forces Series by A. Voinov)

Jack & D (Zero at the Bone by J. Seville)

Prophet & Tommy (The Hell or High Water Series by S.E. Jakes)

Sloane & Dex (The THIRDS Series by C. Cochet)

1. Second Chance at Love… or Putting Humpty Dumpty together again.

Love is often complicated and difficult.  However, it’s even more of a complex minefield the second time round, when after a relationship riddled with obstacles and a (preferably dramatic) breakup, the ex-lovers meet again.

Seemingly, the past is all water over the dam.  The wounds have closed and the scars have formed; both men have moved on.  But in truth the affection, attraction and longing still remain dormant.  Even though the trust had been pulverised and under the surface, a powerful concoction of hurt, anger, regret and doubts is bubbling away, the romance prevails. The lovers are finally reunited (aaand cue the applause.)

The way I see it, it’s a romance reader’s paradise.  The strong connection, combined with the emotional build up – the anxieties, blame, guilt, past mistakes, and misunderstandings, become a top-notch catalyst for angst.

Moreover, there’s something undeniably moving and incredibly romantic about seizing the chance one thought long gone and irretrievable. The decision of making yourself vulnerable again to the very person who was supposed to catch you, but ultimately failed and broke your heart in the process, is a courageous one and not taken lightly.  If it’s still in your mind, it is worth taking the risk, as Paul Coelho said.  People only tend to invest their efforts into restoring something they perceive as valuable and extraordinary (unless, naturally, they are emotional idiots, saints, masochists or all of the above.)  An HEA delivered after such a heart-wrenching bittersweet journey leaves me drained, yet satisfied.  Puffy eyelids, smudged mascara, and a glass of wine are obligatory.  An easy winner.

Elliot & Tucker (The All’s Fair Series by J. Lanyon)

Hsin & Boyd (ICoS by S. Hassell & A. Lin)

Christopher & J. X. (Somebody Killed His Editor by J. Lanyon)  

Chris & Justin (Ex Equals by L.A. Witt)

Tim & Vincent (The Trouble with Hexes by A. Amara)

The tropes are significant in romances, methinks, possibly to a greater degree than in other genres.  In the grand scheme of things, a good trope or a combination of tropes is not guaranteed to make a book a success.  It’s not a magic bullet but a tool, only one amongst an array of ingredients.  If the other components of this recipe are not up to par – the plot weak, the characters flat, the dialogue fake and the writing mediocre, even the most elaborate trope won’t save the cake.  The truth, just like the emperor’s naked butt, will shine through.  And this, for once, won’t be a good thing – however I like my sweet buns.

Sweet Buns

A bilingual Londoner Kasia BB is a literary/medical translator and a proofreader. An avid reader, reviewer and book blogger, she’s currently working on her debut M/M fantasy novel, filled with the shenanigans of assassins and sexy elves. She has a mild coffee and lemon tart addiction, coupled with a slight obsession of all things paranormal. She is a lover of MMA, nature and the great outdoors. She can be found on her website, Twitter, or on Goodreads.

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Guest Post

Guest Post: “What Makes a Romance?” by Shae Connor

Nobody's Son Shae Connor

One of the ongoing discussions surrounding the romance genre is what, exactly, constitutes a romance. For those who publish romance, and for most authors and readers, the answer is clear: a romance is a story that focuses on a romantic relationship that has a happy ending. For many years, that meant a “happily ever after” ending, with marriage and babies and all that, though that’s been scaled back over time. “Happily for now” endings, with the couple together and committed to each other but not necessarily headed for an altar, qualify as well. In particular, until recently, legal marriage wasn’t even an option in same-sex romance.

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Q&A: Marie Sexton Interviews Heidi Cullinan of WINTER WONDERLAND

Winter Wonderland Heidi Cullinan

To celebrate our Christmas romance releases, Marie Sexton and I are interviewing each other as part of our promotional tour. The following is her interview of me; you can catch my interview of her on December 1 at Coffee and Porn in the Morning.

Tell us a little bit about your current release, Winter Wonderland.

Winter Wonderland is the third book in the Minnesota Christmas series, a gay romance set in a fictional small town in the Northwoods of Minnesota. Three burly bears with soft hearts getting their happily ever after. In Winter Wonderland we get the story of Paul, the last of the three bears, who has sadly been waiting for his man since book one. He’s the only one who went looking for love, except his Mr. Right turned up is the last place he expected, and the one place he really wasn’t sure was a good idea. Kyle, who has been waiting for Paul and Paul alone since being rescued on the playground, will do what he must to convince Paul he’s the one worth waiting for.

How did you get the idea for the story?

Since this was a series and Paul has been a background character pining for his HEA, I knew I had to start with him and keep things in Logan, Minnesota, but beyond that I was a bit stumped. All kinds of guys auditioned but nobody was right. Then a very background character from book one got all in my face and said It’s me, dammit. So I let him make his case, and you know, it turned out he was right. Or he was just so bossy he made himself right. Could go either way.


Where can we buy it?

The book is published at Samhain, but you can buy it at many third party retailers, all listed through the buy links on this page at the top of the post.


This is the third book in the Minnesota Christmas series. Tell us a bit about the series in general.

The Minnesota Christmas series is a light-hearted escape into an idyllic Minnesota Northwoods small town. In Logan, Minnesota, you can expect shenanigans, snow, plenty of sex, and always a happily ever after. Book one, Let It Snow, features Marcus and Frankie. Marcus is a lawyer-turned lumberjack determined to scrub the Cities from his mind…until a freak snowstorm lands Minneapolis hairstylist Frankie in the cozy cabin Marcus shares with his best friends. Book two, Sleigh Ride, is about the jolly, brash Arthur and the fussy town librarian Gabriel, who hate each other more than they hate anyone else, right up until the point when those sparks ignite a fire they had no intention of starting. Book three, Winter Wonderland, is the story of Paul, the member of the “three bears” who’s pined for love the longest and has found it in the most unlikely of places, the swishy care center nurse Kyle, who once in the bedroom isn’t swishy in the slightest. The series is known for its highly-drawn secondary characters, idyllic small-town setting, serious subjects smoothed out with heartwarming holiday moments, and spicy (but not too spicy) romantic moments.


Will there a be a fourth installment next year?

Probably not. But there might be a spinoff series set in summer in a year or two. And you never know, they might wander down to the Twin Cities and show up in someone else’s story…


You’ve written stories in a lot of different genres. Do you have a favorite type of story, or does it depend on what story is speaking to you at the moment?

I sometimes feel happiest when writing fantasy, though I can’t ever do that all the time or I’ll fry my brain. I feel I do my best in contemporaries and new adult, but sometimes I have to go play in another genre to refresh the juices. I can’t seem to write a story without a serious element somewhere in the background. Every time I try, something wanders in to darken the mood. So, I’ve stopped fighting it and everything seems to work out better.


What can we look forward to next, and what are you working on now?

Next is one of those fantasy departures: Clockwork Heart, a steampunk/alternate historical set in 1910. It will be out in February and is starting to show up as a preorder at third parties. After that is very much up in the air. I have several things started, but this year has been a real curve ball for me on the health and productivity front, so it’s going to be interesting seeing what floats to the surface. I have a novella in the Dance With Me universe planned, and the Roosevelt and Love Lessons series books to write, and another new adult, and another fantasy, and yet none of them seem to want to plant themselves on my desk for more than a few weeks. I’m hoping eventually one of them gets to THE END, at which point I will joyously share it with everyone else.

Well, hurry up! (Okay, I know trying to make the stories hurry never works, but everybody’s anxiously awaiting the next one!)

Thanks for taking time to answer my questions!

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Finding Mr. Right can be a snow lot of fun.

Paul Jansen was the only one of his friends who wanted a relationship. Naturally, he’s the last single man standing. No gay man within a fifty-mile radius wants more than casual sex. No one, that is, except too-young, too-twinky Kyle Parks, who sends him suggestive texts and leaves X-rated snow sculptures on his front porch.

Kyle is tired of being the town’s resident Peter Pan. He’s twenty-five, not ten, and despite his effeminate appearance, he’s nothing but the boss in bed. He’s loved Paul since forever, and this Christmas, since they’re both working on the Winter Wonderland festival, he might finally get his chance for a holiday romance.

But Paul comes with baggage. His ultra-conservative family wants him paired up with a woman, not a man with Logan’s rainbow connection. When their anti-LGBT crusade spills beyond managing Paul’s love life and threatens the holiday festival, Kyle and Paul must fight for everyone’s happily ever after, including their own.

Warning: Contains erotic snow art, toppy twinks, and super-sweet holiday moments. Best savored with a mug of hot chocolate with a dash of spice.

Heidi Cullinan has always enjoyed a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. Proud to be from the first Midwestern state with full marriage equality, Heidi writes positive-outcome romances for LGBT characters struggling against insurmountable odds because she believes there’s no such thing as too much happy ever after. Heidi can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Tumblr, and

Marie Sexton lives in Colorado. She’s a fan of just about anything that involves muscular young men piling on top of each other. In particular, she loves the Denver Broncos and enjoys going to the games with her husband. Her imaginary friends often tag along. Marie has one daughter, two cats, and one dog, all of whom seem bent on destroying what remains of her sanity. She loves them anyway. Marie can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and

Autumn Thorns Yasmine Galenorn
Guest Post

Guest Post: “A Few Great Gay Historical Romances” by Kate McMurray

Such a Dance Kate McMurray

I’ve heard from readers that gay historical romances are a tough sell—could be people who could be breaking the law by being together really find happy endings?

Yes, they did. And not just in novels.

I’m a huge history nerd, and I read all manner of romance, so seeking out gay historicals was a pretty natural thing for me to do. And there are some fantastic ones out there. I picked six, kind of at random; think of this as a jumping off point to the many others that are out there.

Bonds of Earth by G.N. Chevalier

This book is kind of a gothic romance set in Jazz Age New York, so it has this odd contrast of the characters caught in a secluded mansion juxtaposed against the excesses of the era. It’s a story of two broken men, one of them who goes to the estate of the other to tend to its gardens, though he has some experience as a masseuse as well. The book deals with the fallout from World War I, which is one of those periods in history that I think gets glossed over quite a bit, or lost in the glitz of the Jazz Age. It’s beautifully written and compelling.

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Guest Post

Guest Post: “Sea Changes” by Amy Lane

Keeping Promise Rock Amy Lane

We had to ask it eventually.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was repealed. DOMA was repealed and marriage equality was granted.  Let’s face it—for gay romance writers, the landscape has changed. Gone are the days when just being gay was a conflict, and when “this strange feeling in a young man’s loins when looking at his best friend” was a passport to a bewildering new world.

The average age of coming out is now fourteen—parenting blogs are full of tips for parents to make their gay or trans children feel accepted and loved, and the kids themselves are hyperaware.  In fact, should children be unsure of where they fit in the rainbow? There is always the Internet. Any curious young man or woman can go on Tumblr these days and open a box full of dicks (or breasts for that matter), and kids are continuing to invent electronic ways with which to not feel alone anymore.

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Guest Post

Keep Queer Romance Month All the Year

Queer Romance Month

Queer Romance Month is winding to a close, and to celebrate the month, I’m following up on a post I wrote in celebration in October 2014. Take a look around the site to find posts by authors and readers of queer romance.

Last year, I shared how I came to read queer romance (primarily m/m), which was a fairly recent thing.

This year, as I thought about writing something to contribute to QRM, I wanted to figure out what more there was to say. I read queer romance, I like it, and I support it. Easy-peasy, right?

Not necessarily.

As I thought about what to write for this year, I realized that I was still pigeon-holing my queer romance reads. As being, you know, queer romance. And yet the theme of this month is love is love and, to paraphrase Charles Dickens, “”I will honor [Queer Romance Month] in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” I feel that it’s doing the work a disservice by categorizing it even before I’ve read it, based on my preconceived notions of what it is. Not so much that it IS queer romance; I mean, I expect certain things from my historical reading as well, and would think less of the book if it had an anachronism (that I could identify) as much as if a m/m romance ended up being a m/f.

So my challenge to myself as I set forth on continuing to read stories where ‘love is love’ is not to segment them in my mind based on whose parts are on what character. It’s all romance, and I’m a romance reader, and I like to read stories where people fall in love.

Maybe it is easy-peasy. I just have to keep it in my heart.

What queer romance have you read, and would want to recommend? My recommendations for this year are below:

Amy Jo Cousins’s Off Campus from the Off Campus series
Alexis Hall’s Waiting for the Flood
Larissa Ione’s Base Instincts
Kate Rothwell’s The Gentleman and the Lamplighter
KJ Charles’s A Fashionable Indulgence

Guest Post

Guest Post: “The Gay 20s?” by Kate McMurray

Such a Dance Kate McMurray

Today we’re joined by author Kate McMurray, whose newest release (out this week!) is a historical m/m romance set in the 1920s in America. It’s got Prohibition, dance, and the mob. Yow! Kate is here to talk about what it actually meant to be gay during that time.

My novel Such a Dance is largely about the relationship between a male dancer (Eddie) and a Mob boss (Lane), set in the era of Prohibition and Roaring Twenties. It was a particularly interesting period to write in because, contrary to what I think is widely believed, the 1920s were not a terrible time to be gay in New York City. So, in honor of the release of the book, I thought I’d talk a little about what it was like to be gay in the ‘20s.

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Reviews, Books, Reviews

A Few Thoughts on Santino Hassell’s STYGIAN

Stygian Santino Hassell

I intended to write this piece as a straightforward, concise and informative review.  Like normal people do. Honest.  Alas, it morphed somewhat into a collection of distracted and disjointed musings on the book itself and my personal scattered reactions to it.  Regardless of the end result, I’d like everyone to acknowledge that I started off with a plan, and the best of intentions.  Sadly, the plan quickly went to hell, which coincidentally – as my gran would say – is paved with good intentions.  Then usually a swift clip around the ear would follow.

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Exclusive Excerpt

Exclusive Excerpt: TWISTED WHISPERS by Sheri Lewis Wohl

Twisted Whispers Sheri Lewis Wohl

This exciting, honest-to-goodness piece of multi-media content is brought to you in support of Queer Romance Month.

QRM runs throughout October, celebrating love stories in all shades of the rainbow in all shades of romance. Join us, and over a hundred LGBTQ+ authors and allies, for essays, flash-fiction and much, much more.

Sheri Lewis Wohl provides a fireside reading from her latest novel, Twisted Whispers.

Twisted Whispers

A missing sister. A friend in need. A twisted web of dark secrets.

Thea Lynch’s twin sister is missing, abducted from her vehicle as she worked at a remote transfer station outside Spokane, Washington. Help arrives in the form tall, dark, and beautiful Detective Katie Carlisle who races against the clock knowing that with each passing hour the chance of finding Thea’s sister alive diminishes. With no leads, no progress, and hope waning, Thea does the only thing she can think of: she calls her friend for help. Can reluctant psychic Lorna Dutton pull away the veil and reveal the truth? Or will the secrets destroy them all?

Sheri Lewis Wohl grew up in Northeast Washington State surrounded by mountains, pine trees, rivers, and lakes. Though she always thought she’d move away to somewhere big and bold, she never did, and is now happy to write surrounded by the beauty of nature. When not working her day job in federal finance or writing her stories of vampires, werewolves, and psychics, she participates in local triathlons and is a member of a K9 search and rescue team. Keeping true to her love of the paranormal, Sheri has also appeared as a zombie in the SyFy series, Z Nation. She can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and