Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Summer Fair ~ A Queer Romance Anthology - Release Blitz with Author Guest Post, Excerpt, and Giveaway

Summer Fair Anthology

There's a new queer romance anthology out that benefits RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) - Summer Fair.

Summer festivals bring the aroma of popcorn, the excitement of rides, and the promise of real-life enchantment. Seven authors bring you original love stories, each set at a different summer celebration. You’ll experience the thrill of the Chicago World’s fair through the eyes of a plucky girl reporter and the quiet desperation of a teen working a summer job at a traveling carnival. Get whisked away on romantic journeys around the world from a sweet Texas Dewberry Festival to a lantern-filled temple celebration to a surprisingly rowdy New England Founders Day. Whether it’s the magic of a Renaissance Fair, the excitement of a Theater Retreat, or the pulse of a Music Festival, you’re sure to get geared up for all things summer with this delightful new collection.

Note: Most stories are fantasy, but this anthology also includes historical, paranormal and contemporary works.


  • Riding the Wave by Annabeth Leong

  • Amaryllis and New Lace by Gregory L. Norris

  • Salty and Sweet by R.L. Merrill

  • Dewberry Kisses by CM Peters

  • All the World by Marie Piper

  • Carnie by Sienna Saint-Cyr

  • The Storyteller’s Side by Harley Easton

  • With Stars in His Eyes by Arden de Winter

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The authors are giving away a $75 Amazon gift card – for a chance to win, enter via Rafflecopter.

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Summer Fair meme

From All the World by Marie Piper

She decided to do something bold. “Come up in the wheel with me.”

“I’ve been up in the wheel,” but Cathleen didn’t say no. “You don’t have to buy me a ticket.”

“But I want to,” Anna said. “I want to go up there with you. The line is long. It may be the last thing I get to do today, and though I’m terrified I can’t pass up the chance to do something that is once-in-a-lifetime.”

“No, I imagine you can’t.” Wiping her face, Cathleen finished her hot dog. Anna did the same, and they returned their glasses to the Pabst booth and then got into the long line for the wheel. Children bounced in line, excited to go up but bored with waiting. Men smoked and sent the wafts of smoke across all the people in line, and more than one person looked nervous about going into the sky in the steel contraption.

Anna and Cathleen bought tickets and, by virtue of space, were shoved together as they shuffled slowly to the front.

“Mercy, but it’s high.” Anna felt as if she might be sick.

“You don’t have to do it, you know.”

“But I’ve already bought a ticket.”

“Someone’d pay you for it.”

“But I’ve come all this way and I’m here standing underneath it. Besides, what’ll I do if I don’t—go look at the Fisheries?”

She felt a warm hand take hers and nearly fainted. Cathleen had taken her hand. “Don’t be afraid. It’s fun. It really is.”

“Thank you.”

“And if it collapses and we die, at least we’ll die together.”

Anna groaned but did not take her hand away. Hand in hand, they reached the front of the line and waited with a group of thirty others for the next car to come down and to board. Cathleen pulled them to a windowed corner where they could both press against the glass.

Still, they held hands.

And when the car started to move, Anna squeezed hard from nerves without thinking. Cathleen ducked her head in and put her lips to Anna’s. It was brief, just a momentary touch, but then she whispered into Anna’s ear. “Don’t be afraid.”

Anna wasn’t. Cathleen’s lips against hers had taken away all the fear she had felt about the Ferris Wheel, and then some. With Cathleen beside her, their fingers entwined, she rode the car that rose into the air and beheld the entire fair in all directions before her. She saw the Coliseum of the Wild West show, and the balloon in the sky, and all the trains, and all the people, and all the way back to the basin where she’d first entered the fair off the Lake. The sun was just beginning to go down in the sky. Soon, it would be evening, and Anna would need to get on her way—but with the incredible views and the hand of the lovely girl in hers, and Anna’s heart swelled about to bursting. She could have wept at it all, at this perfect day.

The car started to descent.

“We get one more loop,” Cathleen said.

“I wish it was a hundred,” Anna replied, turning to her friend. “I wish we could stay here forever.” It was an honest confession.

Cathleen smiled, but sadly. With the displays below, Anna felt as if she could see all the world ahead of her. And all the world seemed so small and unimportant.


Sienna Saint-Cyr’s erotic fiction has appeared in the Love Slave books and Sexual Expression series; contemporary erotica in Silence is Golden and Goodbye Moderation: Lust, and romance in Melt, Haunt, and Summer Fair. She also writes nonfiction and flash fiction for several websites. Sienna owns and edits for SinCyr Publishing, an erotica company with a focus on shifting rape culture one sexy story at a time. She also runs a nonprofit writing workshop and writes dark SF and literary fiction under her legal name.

Along with writing, Sienna speaks at conventions, workshops, and for private gatherings on such sex-positive topics as a healthy body image, using sexuality to promote healing, enthusiastic consent, LGBTQIA, CPTSD, and navigating diverse or non-traditional relationships.

The Importance of Proper Diagnosis

No, no… This isn’t about healthcare, though for an author, the type of diagnosis I’m speaking about is just as important.

Many years ago I began taking part in monthly critique groups. They would rotate attendees, so the same people weren’t reading my work each time. We followed the typical sandwich method for critique—share what works, share what needs fixing, then end on a positive note—and all usually went well. I’d get great feedback and go home to rework my submission full of eagerness to fix the issues.

I’d often rewrite several times since I was brand new, then I’d resubmit the same chapter or short story to see if my changes were affective. I’d get the typical, “You’re telling us, now show us,” or “You have too many *was* words.” Those were easily fixed (often times after extensive Googling to figure out how to fix some of it), but I kept getting the same feedback after I’d work and work the piece. And the feedback was coming from different people usually. Sometimes it would be the same person if they showed more than one month in a row, but there was always a mix of new faces. So getting the same feedback again and again was… needless to say, frustrating.

The feedback?

“Your characters are too weak.”

I didn’t know what else to do to make them stronger. The complaint was mostly about the main character, though often times both main characters if it was a romance. I tried and tried, resubmitted each time, and no matter what… they were weak according to others.

Around a year and half went by and I was still really struggling with this issue.

I tried moving on to different genres to see if by writing another genre, I’d have better luck. But again, weak.

One day I got fed up. I’d kept getting rejections from anthologies, wasn’t getting anywhere with my writing in this one area (though other areas I was totally improving), and I decided to do something I hadn’t before. Ask two of my Tor published friends.

This wasn’t something I’d done before. Though both were pretty close friends of mine, we’d met through Cascade Writers I always felt lower than them in the writing arena. Like, if I asked them to read something for me, they’d feel I was taking advantage of them. Especially since one had read my stuff before, but that was when I was a paying attendee. So to ask them felt awful, but I was ready to give up on writing. Desperation was the name of my game.

To my shock and surprise, they both said, “Sure! Send over some samples!” I was not only shocked that they didn’t feel taken advantage of, but also that they were both willing to read more than one piece! I sent three to one and four to the other. All different genres included.

Within a few days, both came back to me with what they felt the issue was. Without having spoken to one another, they both loudly professed, “Your characters aren’t weak, they’re passive.

I was taken aback. I didn’t even know what that meant. In group, I’d worked on cutting out passive voice. So I knew it couldn’t be that. Here’s where this gets so very important; if we don’t understand something, we need to ask. If the person we’re asking doesn’t know how to answer or fix our issue, it’s probably not advice we should be taking from them.

Once I asked, I was told that passive characters don’t drive their own vehicle. In essence, they’re driven everywhere. Guided. This was a VERY different thing than I’d been told before. Granted, the people telling me before tried hard to help to me. They just didn’t have the same level of experience and weren’t able to articulate the issues in the same manner. Once I understood, I didn’t even want to go back to the old writing. I started fresh instead. Because by the time this became clear to me, I’d rewritten entire manuscripts four to five times!

My characters were stabbed, betrayed, facing death, sometimes facing sexual trauma, literally everyone in their worlds was out to get them. So much so that I’d lost my actual storyline. It became about throwing more and more at my main characters when really all I’d needed was to have my main characters make the choice. Not wait to be told what to do by another character. Had I saved versions—a thing I highly recommend—I’d have been able to go back before I’d added the extra ‘trauma’ and fix what actually needed fixing.

All my characters needed was agency, and they didn’t have it.

This taught me a valuable lesson when it came to getting my work critiqued. At the time, I was so thankful people were putting their time in and reading my work that I didn’t want to question what they meant by ‘weak’. If I’d prodded, I may have figured it out. Instead I’d nod and thank them, take notes, and go home and rework it. This is also a danger of Milford-Style Critiques and is why I like to have time for suggestions or questions after the critique. Because getting partially helpful information doesn’t always help us how we need. We need to be able to ask why something isn’t working and how to fix the problem.

A weak character can have all the agency in the world, while a passive character can be strong as heck. Passive and weak are not the same thing. Though I imagine a passive, weak character would have been even worse! Thankfully, I only had one issue of the two.

Since then, I always make sure to have my main character be in charge of their own journey. They may get help along the way, but they are the driver of their vehicle. This experience not only helped me fix my characters, but it also taught me to ask when in doubt. I’d been so afraid to approach my published friends that I ended up wasting more energy. It’s perfectly okay to say, “Hey, I’ve been reworking this piece and have hit a wall. No one’s suggestions are making sense to me. Would you mind reading a few pages?” Usually by keeping the amount of pages small, I’ll get a, “Sure! Send it over!”

As with anything, if we haven’t been properly diagnosed, there is no way to fix the issue. This goes with any feedback we may get as authors. If you’re hearing something again and again and the changes you’re making aren’t helping, ask others how to fix it. If they can’t answer you, it might be time to see an expert on the topic.

About the Authors

The brain child of Chicago romance author Marie Piper, the StoryPenners is a collection of fiction and romance authors dedicated to producing independent anthologies to support charitable causes. The StoryPenners has members from the Midwest, the West Coast, New England, Canada, England, and Australia.

Original Members: Marie Piper, Harley Easton, CM Peters, S.B. Roark, and Sienna Saint-Cyr

Contributing StoryPenners: Randi Perrin, Annabeth Leong, Gregory L. Norris, R.L. Merrill, Katey Tattrie, R. Diamond, Arden de Winter

Previous Anthologies:


Author Websites:

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