Best Pride Ever!

Originally published at Lee Benoit Tales. You can comment here or there.

Festival, along the Woonasquatucket River

This past Saturday my son and his best friend (both 12) and I loaded up the wagon and headed southeast to Providence, RI for the city’s 36th annual Pride Festival. I had spent the days leading up to the even assembling bags of book swag to give away at our vendor booth.

I was delighted to have the greatest variety ever for an event like this, with goodies from
Elizabeth Brooks
JM Cartwright
Vincent Diamond
Rachel Haimowitz
DC Juris
Catherine Lundhoff
Belinda McBride
Syd McGinley
VS Morgan
Nora Olsen
Sloan Parker
J. Rocci
Marie Sexton
Andrea Speed
Damon Suede
and Eden Winters
(I hope I didn’t miss anyone!)I was excited to have I also had books more publishers than ever to display and to sell, so I felt like I had Shawn & Lorna from Torquere Press, Radclyffe of Bold Strokes Books, and Cecilia Tan from Circlet Press along for the event. Torquere even came through with a coupon code for RI Pride attendees and all proceeds from book sales going to It Gets Better!

When I started taking books to Pride events in 2008, I spent a lot of time talking up new media and ebooks. In those days, folks seemed to be still reeling from the erosion of GLBT bookstores and publishers and wanted to know where to find books — any books — that told stories along the GLBTQ spectrum.

This time around I found that folks were hip to ebooks and the new small presses. What they wanted to know about was new publishing models and how to find great books online. From a marketing perspective, that’s my takeaway from RI Pride:help your readers find books they’ll love by cutting through the thicket of the giant esellers and steering them toward more boutique etailers. This may be no news to some, of course.

Bear Pride

As always, I have great conversations at Pride, and this year my standout chat was with the charming ginger co-proprietor of Burlyshirts.comwho was not only super sweet (and so solidly in love that I wanted to bring every flighty young thing I’d met earlier in the day over to show them how it’s done) but really encouraging about ways small businesses within the GLBT community can support each other.

Nighttime parade

The parade in the evening is a nighttime affair, illuminated and uplifting. While my twelve-year-olds perched on a trashcan to see better, they got several supportive comments from passersby who thought they were boyfriends (they’re not). I stood beside a friendly stranger, a gay man about my age (no, not telling) and we cheered and wept and pointed out the creative touches on various floats (a pair of steel balls dangling from the trailer hitch of one pickup was my fave). I had to take my glasses off and wipe away tears when a huge and exuberant contingent of Youth Pride passed by. We’ve come so far, though not far enough, you know? I gave a watery smile to my new friend, who totally got it, and a reassuring thumbs-up to my kids, who — blessedly — didn’t.

Youth Pride

I love Pride!

NYC Marching Band — awesome!


Gift ideas for after the end

Originally published at Lee Benoit Tales. Please leave any comments there.

To celebrate the dark and quirky delights of future dystopian settings, three authors have banded together to come up with a gift box filled with handy stuff to make surviving the end of the world as we know it a little easier.

Postapocalyptic gift ideas

Now we want to give it away!

We took over the Romance for the Rest of Us blog for a day. Commenters over there for the next week will have a chance to win the absolute necessities above (and more!).

I share a bit about my SERVANT OF THE SEASONS.

Syd McGinley tells us about the world of OUT OF THE WOODS and TWICE CAUGHT.

And CB Conwy let us in on the HIMIKO universe.

All commenters to Syd’s, CB’s, or my posts (linked above) from 1/30/12 (including this one) will be entered in next week’s random draw for the gift basket (one entry per commenter per post). Drawing will take place after 2/6/12 and will include everyone who comments by 11:59 p.m. EST on that date.


Snowed out contest winners…

Originally published at Lee Benoit Tales. You can comment here or there.

Man, oh man! I totally dropped the ball on the Dragonwalker giveaway! Blame the October Freak Nor’Easter we’re still recovering from in my neck of the woods…

Most folks here in Massachusetts have their power back, and most of the snow has melted, but here is what took us by surprise last week:

This is the kind of weather we expect and prepare for in January and February, but this is what October 30 looked like in my backyard!
This is the kind of weather we expect and prepare for in January and February, but this is what October 30 looked like in my backyard!
All told, about 15 inches fell.
All told, about 15 inches fell.


In the past few weeks, I’ve offered two contests related to my Dragonwalker series. It’s past time to announce winners.

For the Flashback Friday feature on October 14, the winner by random draw, is Elaine G!

Elaine, please give me an email shout at leebenoit at charter dot net and we can discuss which stories you’d like as your prize.

For the ENDI’S CONSENT release day giveaway here, at my LJ and at Torquere’s Social Yahoo, the winner is Kathleen M. Thomas! Kathleen, please email me at leebenoit at charter dot net and let me know where to send your copy of ENDI’S CONSENT.

Thanks, friends, for your patience.

Lee xo


New Dragonwalker story!

Originally published at Lee Benoit Tales. You can comment here or there.

Out today, as part of Torquere Press’ Halloween Sip line, is the fourth in the Dragonwalker series!

hsip coverThe story is called ENDI’S CONSENT and here’s a blurb:

Halloween night in Endicott is pretty much like Halloween night in other small towns. Except for the flying dogs, of course. Fire Chief Alex Burgess is on hand to help town Dragon Wrangler, Chief’s own sub Endi, host the fire house’s Halloween party and keep local kids safe.

But something’s not right with Chief. Lately, he’s been feeling even more bearish than he looks, and all that omnivorous attention is directed at Endi. Chief wants to take their Dominance and submission to the next level, but first he has to obtain Endi’s consent. What happens when a boy with the heart of a dragon submits to a Top with the soul of a bear?

Read an excerpt and then, maybe, treat yourself by buying Endi’s Consent!


Just for fun, Endi and Chief answered one of those silly BDSM compatibility quizzes. Their answers are posted over at the Torquere Social Yahoo Group and at the bottom of this post. Comment there, here at my blog, or over on my LJ, and I’ll enter you into a drawing to win a free PDF of ENDI’S CONSENT! Random drawing will occur in 48 hours; one entry per commenter.

flying bassetEndi and Chief are taking turns answering an online kink questionnaire.


Question 1: Dom, sub, switch?

Endi (snickering): Switch

Chief (swatting Endi’ s butt): In your dreams


Question 2: List your kinks.

Endi: Leather, spanking, bondage, oh, man! Motorcycles, older guys. Did I mention spanking?

Chief: Endi


Question 3: How did you discover you were kinky?

Endi: I met Chief. I mean, I’ve known Chief all my life, but I went away to school, learned a bunch of things, came back to Endicott, and saw Chief in a whole new light.

Chief: No comment.


Question 4: Any early experiences that, in retrospect, hint at your kinks?

Endi (cackling): Chief became a firefighter!

Chief: I seem to recall a lot of Endi’s Gram’s makeup going missing.

Endi: That’s not kinky!


Question 6: Describe your weirdest/most interesting sexual fantasy.

Chief: No

Endi: Me and Chief, on the back of a flying dragon dog.

Chief (snorting): There’s no dog in the world big enough!


Question 7: What’s your favorite toy?

Chief: Endi


Question 8: How do you dress for kink/BDSM play

Endi: I like all kinds of dressing up. Have you seen my work uniform? I designed it myself. And you should see Chief decked out for a ride!

Chief: As long as Endi gets naked at some point, the clothes don’t really matter.

Endi (snickering): Ask him how much he spends on motorcycle boots.


Question 9: Can you imagine leading a vanilla life?

Chief: Not without Endi.

Endi: Not without Chief.

Chief (swatting Endi’s butt): Tell the truth, brat.

Endi (submitting to a flurry of spanks): Okay, okay. Never! Not ever, okay?

Chief: That was the last question, right?


[fade out]



Flashing back to Dragonwalker

Originally published at Lee Benoit Tales. You can comment here or there.

The Romance for the Rest of Us blog runs a Flashback Friday series, and this week I’m the guest author, blogging about my Dragonwalker series which began back in pre-Recession 2008 and which will have a new installment on October 29. Click the pup to check it out.

Commenters over there will be entered into a random drawing for either their choice of any or all of the Dragonwalker series or a $5 Torquere Press gift Certificate.

See you there!

L xo


Reach-Around Review: “How Does Your Garden Grow” by KIL Kenny

Originally published at Lee Benoit Tales. You can comment here or there.

You know what a reach-around is, right? Well, in honor of Saturday’s release of Torquere Press’ fourth annual Charity Sip Blitz, each participating author is reviewing another’s story in a big, friendly circle.

You can start here with my review of KIL Kenny’s terrific “How Does Your Garden Grow?” and then work your way back to Kenny’s review of Kathryn Scannell’s “Salvage Operation” or forward to M. Durango’s very kind review of my “Last Dance.”

MY REVIEW of KIL Kenny’s “How Does Your Garden Grow?”

A rough-edged narrator, sparky humor, and a high-stakes take on the theme of “It Gets Better” combine to make KIL Kenny’s short story “How Does Your Garden Grow” a delightful read.

In this engaging ‘hail fellow ill met’ tale, Kaz and a group of friends from a Midwestern Pride organization rent plots in a community garden on a landmark farm. Excited but ill-prepared, Kaz soon finds himself locking horns with the green-thumbed tenant of the adjacent plot.

Devin has been through the wringer, and Kenny shows empathy and restraint when describing Devin’s recent past, injuries, healing, and heart. His prickliness is a highlight of the story, as is Kaz’s gruffly befuddled response to Devin’s attitude toward him. I especially appreciated that the injured Devin wasn’t a saint and that Kaz didn’t handle him with kid gloves. The very real emotions in this story definitely drew me in.

When the community garden is threatened by that age-old bully of farmers everywhere, the weather, Kaz and the Pride group rally to help Devin and the other gardeners protect their investment. It’s in the course of this external struggle that Kaz and especially Devin are finally convinced that with an open heart and a boon companion, things really can get better.

About the author: K.I.L. Kenny has tried her hand at everything from grocery clerk to corporate vice president — not always in the trajectory one might expect — and along the way has developed a stash of exceedingly various (and exceedingly superficial) knowledge wherewith to torment the hapless authors she edits. She indulges her most sadistic side by teaching English composition, and in mellower moods kicks back with salaryman yaoi. Her hairdresser calls her a people person, which just goes to show that “only her hairdresser knows for sure” is a load of bunkum. She lives in New York, but left half of her heart in Baltimore. Find her online at

Kenny’s story is part of this year’s Charity Sip Blitz from Torquere Press. “How Does Your Garden Grow” and more than 30 other stories were donated by their authors and all proceeds will benefit the It Gets Better Project.

I’ll update here when I have a buy link from our sponsor, Rainbow eBooks, or you can check the Torquere website on Saturday, September 17, 2011 where there will be a special Charity Sips section.


Celebrating Torquere Press’ 8th Anniversary

Originally published at Lee Benoit Tales. You can comment here or there.

magic 8 ballBack in March 2007, Torquere Press published my first story, a novelette set in Cuba and called THE HUSTLER PRINCE.

I will always be grateful that Torquere was there for me as a reader back when I was just discovering ebooks, and that they have been there for me as I’ve developed my writing career.

Torquere is eight years old this month, and these folks throw a serious party. Read on for details about how to win a Kindle or one of many themed gift baskets. I’m one of the authors on the Kindle Scavenger Hunt list, so look at the end of this post for a hint…

Also, Syd McGinley, CB Conwy, and I got together to create a gift basket inspired by our most recent releases. The theme is “Surviving the Apocalypse” which is a lot more fun in fiction than in real life!

I pass the mic to the magnificent publishers:
Thekindle Eight Ball will help celebrate our eighth anniversary here at Torquere Press! Join us for the celebration!

We’re having a reader scavenger hunt with weekly gift basket prizes and a grand prize (this year, a brand-new 3G Kindle along with a CD of stories from each participating author), plus daily prizes of gift certificates to show our appreciation to you — our readers! Check our blog, ROMANCE FOR THE REST OF US, where we’ll have a number of our authors visiting the whole month. We’ll post excerpts, hang out to chat, and talk about our stories.

In addition to the grand prize of the Kindle, we’re giving away gift baskets every week! Some are silly, some are smutty, and all are fun. The themed ones are: m/m, ménage, BDSM, and lesbian plus our authors have chipped in with extra goodies.

Here’s how to play. Visit our contest page, and start scavenging for the Eight Ball answers. Visit the author pages and find the graphic somewhere on their site. An online form  is set up, and we’ll randomly choose a winner for the Kindle from all of the correct entries. Plus, every day, readers will have the chance to win a Torquere gift certificate and a gift basket.TP 8 Ball contestHelp us celebrate our eighth anniversary and ask the Eight Ball your question… Like, will I win a prize from Torquere Press?

Thanks, and have fun playing.

OK, I’m grabbing the mic again: My latest release is SERVANT OF THE SEASONS, and if you search for more info about this dystopian fantasy, you will find a clue in the scavenger hunt! Click the cover…go on…one clicky….SOS cover



Review Reanimated: A Strong and Sudden Thaw by R. W. Day

Originally published at Lee Benoit Tales. You can comment here or there.

Here is the second in my occasional series wherein I reprint reviews I did a while back on the dearly departed RAINBOW REVIEWS. I understand Rainbow Reviews will eventually disappear, and since I was lucky to get to review some fabulous books there, I wanted to make sure those authors and their works continue to get the love they deserve.

Strong & Sudden Thaw Iris Print coverI reviewed A STRONG AND SUDDEN THAW by R. W. Day in its first edition, from the now-defunct Iris Print. The second edition is available from Lethe Press.

PUBLISHER’S BLURB:  The Ice fell upon the world nearly a hundred years ago, and if civilization didn’t rightly collapse, it surely staggered and fell ill a while. In the small town of Moline, Virginia, folks struggle to survive, relying on hybrid seed sent by the faraway Dept. of Reintroduction and Agriculture and their own faith in God and hard work. But when a mated pair of dragons starts hunting the countryside, stealing sheep, and attacking children, the townsfolk quickly learn that they don’t have the weapons or the skills to fight off such predators.

David Anderson is a farmer’s son who has explored the world through books. When he meets the new healer in town, Callan Landers, he doesn’t quite know what to make of the strange warmth stealing over him. It’s not until he surprises Callan with another man—and both men are promptly arrested for sodomy—that David finally realizes the truth about his own feelings.

When David and Callan stumble over a secret in a nearby abandoned town, their personal problems fade before government politics and corruption that threaten lives. It seems the dragons aren’t the worst dangers facing Moline.

Strong & Sudden Thaw Lethe cover MY REVIEW: What a splendid surprise this novel is!  Set in a richly imagined future, featuring themes of bigotry, reactionary religious fundamentalism, government predation, and the baffling appearance of dragons, this is a romance in the oldest sense.  David’s story is a hero’s progress from ignorance to understanding, from innocence to experience, at great peril and against great odds, resolved at great cost and closing with well-tempered hope in a still-uncertain future.

But this is no picaresque adventure.  The novel’s post-apocalyptic Virginia may resonate with elements of current events, but A Strong and Sudden Thaw is neither allegory nor cautionary tale. Its heroism is not clothed in triumphalism, but rather in the undeniable – and ambiguous –  realism of the setting.  How can a frozen future engineered by a cynical government, isolated communities mired in a fearful return to old-time religion, and dragons, of all things, be elements of a realistic plot?  The novel is so deftly written, and so seamlessly plotted, that we readers don’t for a moment question the inevitability of each tragedy any more than we fail to sigh with relief at each escape or smile through a tear or two at the scant but significant victories.

Day writes in a straightforward style that belies the complexities of the plot and characters.  The measured pace of the narrative reflects the pre-industrial conditions to which David’s part of the world has returned after a frozen century.  The novel feels historical, in tone and structure.  Even though we are introduced to the dragons within a page or two of lifting the cover, the lilting prose and bucolic setting lull us.  There is great darkness here, but Day reveals it slowly, in graduated doses, such that by the time we reach the story’s climax we have been through the same developmental process as David; if we are not as changed as he is, at least we will not soon forget his tumultuous coming of age.  Nor will we dismiss the lessons of the hard-won and incomplete truths at the heart of the conflict.

David’s first-person voice is itself a marvel of youthful vigor and countrified understatement (for example, he says of the man who will be his lover, “His smile was like an invitation to a harvest feast”).  He lives a quiet life, hunting and farming with his family, but David himself is not a quiet character.  He is full of curiosities that will never be satisfied within his narrow (and narrow-minded) world.  The world is bigger than the town of Moline, he knows, but he is already resigned to knowing the wider world only through books.  We taste the leading edge of David’s bitterness because, unlike him, we know he is fit for greater things.
Those greater things begin to reveal themselves to David in the person of Callan, the new healer from far-away Florida.  Callan’s sophistication and kindness go a long way to waking up David’s dormant senses of self and wonder and possibility.  The erotic feelings David develops for his new friend confuse him, but he suffers no tedious bouts of self-hatred; his self-acceptance is not easy, but it is interesting.  David is upright and stalwart and honest, all good qualities in a chivalric hero, but he’s no simp, and he’s not perfect.  When the first of many crises strike, David makes a youthful, foolhardy error in judgment whose serious consequences set the larger plot in motion.

With great depth of feeling, and without undue sentiment, David’s affair with Callan progresses as the larger plot evolves in ever-widening circles, each more sinister than the last.  A happy ending is no foregone conclusion, and, at the risk of spoiling things, it doesn’t happen.  But what does happen is tremendously rich and satisfying.  The protagonists aren’t destroyed, nor must they resign themselves to a life of discreet conformity.  In fact, the society that sought to destroy them is itself shaken to the point of destruction. In return for David’s and Callan’s roles in preserving something of the world that would happily have eliminated them, and in recognition that they now have devastating knowledge of the power and intentions of the government, David and Callan are able determine the course of their own lives, an outcome impossible to imagine at the beginning of the novel.
Solidly fantastic and classically romantic and unabashedly gay, A Strong and Sudden Thaw transcends genre and niche so spectacuOut of the Ashes coverlarly that it is hard to imagine any reader not being ill-served by missing it.

(Disclaimer: I’m presenting these reviews as they originally appeared, no matter how strong the temptation to edit my past self.)

Lethe has also published the sequel to A STRONG AND SUDDEN THAW. It’s called OUT OF THE ASHES. I haven’t read it. If you have, I’d love to hear about it!



Invitation to World Building

Originally published at Lee Benoit Tales. Please leave any comments there.

Torquere logo

Over on the Torquere Press Romance for the Rest of Us Blog, I’ve posted about what goes into building fictional worlds in a variety of genres, even contemporary.

Find out what squiggly lines have to do with world building!

(This post is a follow-on from another world building essay I shared there a while back.)

Includes contest for $5 Torquere gift certificate, open until 8/22/11!

See you there!

Lee xo