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An Exploration of Love
Original Fiction by Ariel Tachna
I seriously need ficcage inspired by these pictures. I'm sure Phil knows how to tie all the knots! Anyone have any recs? Or would anyone be willing to write me one? Pretty please? (And there's probably better places to ask, so if anyone would care to point out places where I could request such a fic, I'd appreciate it.)
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So I seem to have gotten dragged into a new fandom, at least as a reader, (Thank you, salixbabylon) and have totally gotten sucked into Clint/Phil from the Avengers. I've been reading like crazy at Archive of Our Own and would love to create an account so I can keep track of all my favorites. The request for an invite form tells me it'll be November before I can get an invite, so I thought I'd throw myself on the mercy of my flist and see if anyone has an invite they'd care to share with me. I can't promise any fics, but I can promise to share links to my favorites if anyone is interested in what I like to read when I'm not writing.

Here's the one that I just spent the afternoon devouring. Long Range Reconnaissance.
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Thank you to everyone who contributed thoughts to the planning stages of my new web site. I'm happy to announce that the redesign is now complete. You can check out my new site here.
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The Land of the Free...

Yesterday was Fourth of July in the United States. Independence Day. The day we sit around and shoot off fireworks and at least pretend to remember the tenets on which our country was founded. Some of us remember better than others, of course, but it made me reflect a little on some of the phrases we throw around with such ease.

The Land of the Free.

In many ways, it’s a true statement. We did away with slavery in this country almost 150 years ago. In my lifetime, we’ve seen racial discrimination decrease significantly. I remember as a child, the biracial couple on The Jeffersons being a big deal. A REALLY big deal. Today nobody looks twice at my multi-racial family. (My daughter, adopted, is biracial. My son, biological, is also biracial, but a different combination.) I had one black classmate in elementary school, and then only for two years before Lacey moved away. After I graduated from college, I taught in a school so full of minorities that I was the minority.

There’s no denying we’ve made huge progress in making the dreams of Martin Luther King, Jr, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, and all the other civil rights crusaders of the ‘60s come true.

We face a different kind of discrimination today: discrimination based on sexual orientation. I live in Texas. Now granted, I live in Houston where we have an openly lesbian mayor, but it’s still Texas, and that means knee-jerk conservative for the most part, so I know just how bad it can be, but I have faith too. I have faith because I worked with high school students for sixteen years, and I watched the evolution of their attitudes toward homosexuality in that time. By the time I left the classroom, the majority of the students I worked with couldn’t care less whether someone was straight, gay, or bi, just like they couldn’t have cared less if the person was white, black, Hispanic, Asian, or some mixture of all of those things.

We don’t live in a perfect world, and we don’t live in a perfect country. Discrimination is still taking place all over our nation and maybe even across the street from us, but I have faith in the future because those kids I taught? They’re graduating from high school and they’re turning 18 and they’re looking at some of the idiotic policies being proposed by politicians two generations older than they are and they’re saying, “No way!” Right now, they’re still outnumbered by the old fogeys, but they won’t always be. And when they aren’t outnumbered, they’ll change the antiquated laws because they realize the gay couple on Modern Family isn’t any more of a big deal than the biracial couple on The Jeffersons.

And so I return to the phrase that I started with. The Land of the Free. This is the land of the free, and I believe that in my lifetime, we will see that freedom realized for a new group of people in my lifetime, and I’ll be dancing in the streets and waving my rainbow flag along with everyone else when that day comes.
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I'm very excited about the upcoming overhaul of my web site! I've moved it to a new hosting site where I can access it more easily, and I'm working with the lovely Kelly Shorten on the design, color scheme, and layout.

So I need a bit of input from all my friends...

What drives you crazy when you surf the web? What are the traps I should avoid falling into?

The one that comes to mind right away for me is music or video that starts playing automatically. What are other design flaws you've seen on web sites you frequent (or don't frequent because of the flaws)?
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I'm Featured Author at Rainbow eBooks all weekend. 20% off all my books plus a FREE new novella! http://www.rainbowebooks.com/store/



When Russ Peterson accepts an invitation to an all-expense paid vacation at a resort castle in southern France, the last thing he expects is to learn he has the power to travel through time. As a historian, it’s a dream come true, offering the chance to find answers to all the great mysteries of the past. But it’s not without risks, to himself and to the world as he knows it.

After a few short, supervised visits into the past, Russ still hasn’t made up his mind about his newfound abilities. Then, on his first extended trip, he meets Quentus Maximus, second in command to the Legate of Nemausus. While learning more than he’d dreamed about the realities of life in Roman Gaul, Russ is shocked by his reaction to Quentus’s dominant nature. He has only a week to spend with Quentus before his vacation is up, and he’s faced with a decision he never expected to make: stay in the past with a man he’s only known for eight days or return home to the only life he’s ever known.
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I get the occasional odd look when people realize I write gay fiction. Married woman in her early forties with two kids, no gay siblings or cousins or aunts or uncles or anyone in my immediate family as far as I'm aware. (There is a second cousin once removed, but I've never actually met him, just heard about him.) So what in the world am I doing writing gay fiction?

There's a couple of answers to that question, both lighthearted and serious. I like men. More men is better. That's the lighthearted part, but it's also true. I like the idea. It appeals to me. Does that make me a pervert? I suppose that depends on who you ask.

But it doesn't stop there. If it did, I'd just subscribe to gay porn sites and read the amazing books written by other writers in this genre. It's also, to me, a quiet form of social activism.

When I attended my first Cincinnati Pride Festival four years ago and ran a booth for Dreamspinner, the reaction I got from the men there left me reeling. Men of every age, size, race, and degree of flamboyant stopped at our table, picked up our books, and said, "These are about men like me?" I said yes because even if the specific book didn't mirror the specific man, the men weren't asking to that degree of specificity. "Books with happy endings?" "Well, most of them," I replied. "I didn't know there was such a thing!" Some of them bought books, some of them took cards, many of them hugged us, and all of them, every last one, thanked us for caring enough about them and their situation to write books about them as they were, living their normal lives, and looking for love.

This has played out numerous other times since then, at other events, in large groups and small.

But our audience isn't, and shouldn't be, just gay men. Our audience is wider than that. There's a funny story from the first year Dreamspinner had a booth at Book Expo America. We were giving out gift bags of books to pretty much anyone who came by. A woman probably in her sixties came to the booth and congratulated us for what we were doing, even though she wasn't sure she wanted to read the books herself. We convinced her to take a copy of Curious, since the whole point of that anthology was to provide an introduction to gay romance to women unfamiliar with the genre. She took the book finally. The next day she came back to the booth. "I read that book you gave me last night. It was really good. Do you have anything a little... spicier?" We sent her home with the full gift bag.

That woman may not be a regular Dreamspinner customer now. I have no way of knowing that. But I know she looks at gay couples with a more open mind for having read and enjoyed our books. How can she not? How can she read Checkmate or Tigers and Devils or any of the other eight titles that were given away that year and not look at them differently? Yes, our books, my books as an author, feature gay men, but the stories are bigger than that. They're about love. Period.

Alliance in Blood is being translated into French, Spanish, and Italian to my utter delight, and the translators have corresponded with me several times since they started. The consistent theme of their e-mails has been how the love between the characters happens to be between two men, but the relationship they're building is universal. And isn't that what it's all about? Showing our characters, our men, as the guys next door or down the street or across town who want nothing more than to be able to love one another freely and without fear?

Maybe, just maybe, I'm doing a small part to contribute to the day when that will be reality, not a dream. If one person walks away from my body of work with a more open mind than when they arrived, I will have left a mark in the world that's worth being proud of.
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Once again, I'm beyond late doing things, but it's a worthy enough cause that I figured better late than never.

So, homophobia...

A part of me feels a little hypocritical standing up to talk about homophobia when I ended up married to a wonderful man and in a life that doesn't bring me face to face with that kind of attitude very often, but while it's never been directed at me, I have dealt with homophobia and its effects in the lives of the people around me.

I taught school for 16 years, a lot of them wonderful years, and I took that job very seriously, not just as an instructor of language, but as an instructor of life. I taught my students as much French as I could cram into their heads in the two, three, or four years they sat in my classroom, but I did my best to cram a few other things in there as well.

My students learned pretty quickly (at least if they wanted to survive the year) that there were two kinds of words I didn't want to hear in my classroom, no matter how they intended them when they said them. I didn't want to hear any variation of the word "nigger" and I didn't want to hear any insult related to someone's sexuality. They didn't have to like something, but they couldn't express their displeasure by saying it was "gay." They didn't have to like each other, but they'd better not call each other "fags" or other less polite terms.

It paid off too.

The summer after I quit teaching, I was manning Dreamspinner's booth at the Pride Festival when one of my former students walked by. He smiled at me, looked at a couple of our books, smiled some more, and kept walking. That might seem like little enough in terms of payment, but a few months later, I did an interview at a very popular m/m blog, and my student read it and left me a comment. He told me how much it meant to me that I'd always stood against the derogatory comments so many of his classmates made unknowingly and that seeing me at Pride had given him the courage to come out to his friends the following year.

I haven't heard from him since, but I don't need to. It was enough to know that my stand against homophobia touched the life of a young man who needed reassurance that he was okay just as he was, that not being "straight" didn't make him bent, just gay.

I don't teach anymore, but I have two children of my own, and last week we discussed the fact that one of my daughter's friends has two mothers. My daughter, bless her heart, didn't find this disturbing in the least. There are many grand and important ways to fight homophobia, and then there are the small ones, one little person at a time. My children are seven and four, two young really to identify their sexuality, but they're learning one lesson already: whoever they love, Mama will love them just the same.
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The sixth book in the Partnership in Blood series, Reluctant Partnerships, releases today. It's a spin-off more than a sequel in the sense that it explores the relationship of a new couple rather than focusing on the couples from the war, but all your favorites make an appearance, and I'm hopeful you'll fall as in love with Martin and Denis as I did.






Thanks to the efforts of Raymond Payet and l’ANS, vampires now have the same legal rights as mortals, and research at l’Institut Marcel Chavinier is focusing on the mysterious partnership bonds between wizards and vampires. But the battle for public opinion rages on. When Detective Adèle Rougier encounters Pascale Auboussu, a shy young woman turned into a vampire against her will, Raymond and Denis Langlois, chef de la Cour nearest the crime, fear a public relations nightmare.

The vampire responsible for Pascale’s turning must be brought to justice, but Denis is distracted by an unlikely potential partner—Canadian researcher Martin Delacroix, who is spending a year’s sabbatical at l’Institut—and Denis’s lingering feelings for his deceased lover prompt him to reject the bond. There’s no denying the attraction between them, though, and the allure of companionship is nearly as strong as Denis’s grief.

Growing familiarity and yearning for a true mate may induce Adèle and Denis to soften their stances against new partnerships, but Adèle will have to accept a deeper intimacy with Pascale when she has never considered a relationship with a woman, and it will take a near-deadly attack to make Denis admit his most hidden desires. Now he has to hope Martin will be willing to stay.


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Nicki Bennett and I are featured authors this weekend at Rainbow eBook. That means a free download of , 50% off the rest of the Exploring Limts series, and 20% off everything else either of us has written, whether together or separately. The sale goes from now through Sunday night!

Here are a few reminders in case you've forgotten some of our offerings.







and more!
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