We’re so pleased to have author Mickie B. Ashling joining us today on the tour for her latest release, A Tangled Legacy, from NineStar Press. Mickie has answered a few questions provided by her tour promoter, Lori Bell Blantin, and there’s also a fantastic giveaway so be sure to check out the Rafflecopter widget below.
Q: When did you write your first story and what was the inspiration for it?
A: I started writing in my early teens. The story was a historical romance set in the Philippines, where I attended school. Decades later, I revisited the idea, and this time I included LGBTQ characters.
Q: Do you have a writing schedule or do you just write when you can find the time?
A: I’m a creature of habit and have a very set schedule. Even on vacation, I try not to deviate. Since I’m an early riser I can accomplish my writing goals before other people start their day. If new ideas don’t flow, I’ll edit or research.
Q: Briefly describe the writing process. Do you create an outline first? Do you seek out inspirational pictures, videos or music? Do you just let the words flow and then go back and try and make some sense out it?
A: My writing style is a combination of plotter and pantser. I start with a basic outline, but more often than not, my characters veer off in another direction. The first time it happened, I was caught by surprise, and I tried forcing them into submission. That didn’t work at all. Now I go with the flow and see where it takes me. It’s a leap of faith, especially if you’re a control freak, but the detour oftentimes improves the story. Inspiration is so random I can’t pin it down to one thing. I have been moved by music, images, and videos, but I’ve also started stories with nothing but a word prompt.
Q: Where did the desire to write LGBT romance come from?
A: I was a fan of Queer as Folk. After five years, the show ended on a bittersweet note, and like many other disappointed viewers, I escaped into the world of fanfiction. One thing led to another and I soon joined the ranks of amateur writers who did our best to give Brian and Justin, major characters in the series, the happy ending they deserved. This experience gave me the confidence I needed to pen my first original story and submit to an indie publisher. It was contracted and released in April 2009.
Q: How much research do you do when writing a story and what are the best sources you’ve found for giving an authentic voice to your characters?
A: I’ve done everything from interviewing people in my character’s chosen profession to visiting countries I plan on using in my book. The internet is always my go-to, but I also use libraries when answers aren’t available on the web.
Q: What’s harder, naming your characters, creating the title for your book or the cover design process?
A: It depends on the book. There’s a website I use that’s got 20,000 choices. Keeping names simple and easy to remember are important to me, especially when there are more than two main characters. Titles are tricky. Sometimes it’s obvious and other times it’s a struggle. Cover design is usually the last thing I deal with unless I have a specific picture in mind. That gets sent to the cover artist with a request.
Q: How do you answer the question, “Oh, you’re an author…what do you write?”
A: I was extremely naïve when I was first published. My own family didn’t understand why I wrote gay romance. I got a variety of reactions that ranged from incredulous (you did what?) to disdain (when are you going to write a normal book?) to downright insulting (you’re having a midlife crisis). After so many angry discussions, and real tears, I decided it was pointless. I don’t like confrontation and couldn’t care less what people think of me, but having to constantly defend myself and my genre became a chore, and worse than that, it ruined the experience. I didn’t want their bias to affect my writing. Now, when straight people ask, I tell them I write romance novels under a pseudonym. Very few ask for more details. They hear romance and automatically dismiss it as fluff. My answer is completely different when I sense a kindred spirit or I’m with a member of the LGBTQA+ community. Then I can puff out my chest and proudly rattle off my accomplishments.
Q: Tell us about your current work in process and what you’ve got planned for the future.
A: A Tangled Legacy is a spin-off from the short piece I wrote for the Once Upon a Rainbow Anthology, Volume I. When I answered the call to write a fairytale with a queer twist, I chose The Princess and the Pea. One of my characters is intersex—a condition I’ve explored in depth in previous novels—and he ends up agreeing to carry the future heir. Mpreg is addressed scientifically but the actual birth is off page. A Tangled Legacy jumps ahead twenty years. The main character is the son born out of that union. This is my first foray into fantasy/paranormal and I have to say I’m loving this new genre.
Q: Do you have any advice for all the aspiring writers out there?
A: Learn your craft, support fellow authors, and try not to hunt down reviews. They’re a time suck for one thing, and if you don’t have the stomach to deal with criticism, there’s no sense making yourself miserable. Once you release your book baby into the universe, it’s no longer yours. Readers will either love or hate it and you have to accept that truth or take up another profession.
Q: If you could travel forward or backward in time, where would you go and why?
A: I’d go backward in time. There’s much to love about current technology, and I’m sure the future has endless potential, but in terms of love, so much has been lost in the name of expedience. This is why I enjoy historical romances. I would go back to an era when the romantic foreplay—flowers, cards, get-togethers, walking hand in hand, talking, listening, anticipation—is just as important as sex. I suppose it’s a generational thing, but falling into bed with a perfect stranger a few hours after meeting on a dating app isn’t my thing. I’d choose a city somewhere in Europe instead of the US.
About the Book
Title: A Tangled Legacy
Series: Legacy: Book One
Author: Mickie B. Ashling
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: August 6, 2018
Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex
Length: 71k approx
Genre: Fantasy, fantasy, intersex, magic, royalty, gay, age gap, witches and warlocks, bisexual
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Purchase Links: NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo
Blurb: Prince Colin of Sendorra would have been the spare instead of the heir if fate hadn’t intervened. Like his father and forefathers, Colin is expected to marry and father a child or his principality reverts to Spain at the time of his death. Filling the royal nursery with healthy babies seems easy enough until Princess Charlotte—his childhood friend and intended bride—breaks off their engagement.
Nobel Prize winner—and powerful gray witch—Alain de Gris isn’t looking for love. Science and research have taken center stage for years until he walks into a club and lays eyes on Colin, thirteen years his junior.
Bisexual by nature, Colin seeks to avoid another engagement repeat by shying away from a same-sex relationship. There are no acceptable alternatives to provide legitimate offspring if he follows his heart.
But Colin can’t stay away from Alain and the witch finds him irresistible. Ignoring the absolutes isn’t easy when a legacy is in jeopardy. And while magic may offer a solution, it could also create more problems.
I slipped through a break in the eight-foot hedge that separated my granny’s rose garden from our garage. It was the same gap I used whenever I snuck out of the palace. Familiar with the prickly branches, I knew how to get through without a tear or a scratch. My bodyguards would be frantic the minute they realized I was missing, but the chance to sample nightlife as an ordinary man instead of a prince was too tempting.
Saddled at birth by a title I didn’t deserve, I’d spent all my life trying to convince everyone, myself included, that I had a right to exist. It wasn’t my fault that my twin, older by five minutes and thus the legitimate heir apparent, had been stillborn. Survivor’s guilt weighed heavily on my psyche, although it was pure chance that he died and I didn’t.
More than likely, the problem had lain with my method of conception. That story was glorified in the annals of our nation’s history. Male pregnancy had been risky from the word go, and no one knew this better than the man who gave me life, my father’s consort, Errol, the Duke of Maitland. He was a commoner who’d received the title after he married my other father, Prince Sebastian, who was heir apparent at the time. They’d been delighted to welcome me into the world, but it had been bittersweet after they were informed that my brother hadn’t made it.
Nonetheless, I was loved and pampered from the moment I first opened my eyes. Everyone doted on me, and I had a wonderful, albeit lonely, childhood. Once in a rare while, someone heartless would point out that I was the spare who’d usurped his brother’s title, but the incidents were few and far enough apart to be ignored.
Of course, no one bothered to ask me how I felt about having two dads and no mother. Not that they were bad parents—far better than most, or so I’d been told—and my granny, the Dowager Princess Alexandra, and her ladies-in-waiting provided all the feminine influence I could possibly need, but that didn’t stop me from wondering if I’d be a different person had I been created conventionally.
As things stood, I was determined to cram as many life experiences as possible before assuming the throne. Hopefully, my father, the current ruler, would live well into his seventies so I could achieve my goals. Since my twin was watching me from somewhere beyond these earthly boundaries, I wanted him to take comfort knowing I was doing a fine job with the role I’d unintentionally usurped.
My red Beemer purred to life, and I inched my way out of the garage, hoping no one would hear the engine. Most of the staff had already gone for the day. It was late, way past dinner, and the odds of being stopped were slim. Thankfully, my exit was uneventful.
I drove slowly until I hit the open road and gassed the engine when the palace faded from view. Dancing was on my mind, and the songs blaring from my radio helped to put me in the right mood. Since I had succeeded in a clean getaway, I decided on something different tonight. There was a new club in town—one that catered to a sexually fluid crowd—and this would be the perfect opportunity to check it out.
My interest in exploring my gay side wasn’t something new. I’d been attracted to both sexes growing up but had chosen my childhood friend, Princess Charlotte of Navarre, for my future bride. My fathers had been delighted, but they warned me things might change. A first crush seldom worked out, they’d cautioned, but I was determined to make it work, and thus avoid the complications that might arise from a same-sex union. Rather than risk another man’s life, or that of my unborn child, I would go the conventional route and marry a woman. Charlotte was the perfect choice, until she wasn’t.
My best friend, the sweet girl who’d promised to be my forever love, no longer held my interest, nor I hers. Our recent breakup—remarkably amicable thanks to multiple shots of vodka—signaled the end of childhood dreams and aspirations. And now, I was single again, trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life. Until I turned twenty-one. Then the invisible clock would start ticking, and pressure to marry and begin a family would escalate.
At the club entrance, I scanned my surroundings. Across the mass of heaving bodies, someone caught my eye. The stranger’s dark hair was combed back, probably tied in a low tail, but I couldn’t say for sure. He was surrounded by people but ignored the crowd after our eyes locked. Even from a distance, the tingling in my groin led me to believe we’d be a good fit.
My royal status precluded random pairings as the inevitable fallout would be disastrous in more ways than I could count; however, the intensity in the brunet’s gaze was pushing me to break a few of my own rules tonight.
I was wearing a tight navy-blue sweater to complement my eyes, and a pair of skinny jeans. The sweater’s fabric stuck to me like a second skin, the perfect showcase for hard-earned shoulder and arm muscles. My blond hair was chin length, and I normally tucked it behind my ears. Even though I’d been told many times that it needed to be at least two inches shorter, I resisted because it was one of the few things in my regimented life I could control.
As next in line to the throne, I’d been brought up with a strict code of conduct, and I did my best to adhere to tradition. But with my formative years behind me, there was less room for mistakes. Eyes were on me twenty-four seven, and slipping through the proverbial cracks was always a thrill. My energy was on high alert tonight.
Although I had Prince Sebastian’s fair coloring, I was built more like my other father, Errol. My wide shoulders, narrow waist, and muscular thighs combined with my height—six two on bare feet—were imposing, especially in formal attire. My facial hair was more a heavy scruff than a beard, but it was a disguise I’d adopted after my sixteenth birthday. Some know-it-all mentioned I was too young to be in such a position of power. The beard seemed to have the desired effect, adding the necessary years and a certain flair that drew men and women in equal measure.
My stranger disappeared from the dance floor, and I headed toward the rear of the club. There was a room, where one could presumably get more intimate, and I glanced around, hoping to spot him. He seemed to have vanished. Irritated that he’d eluded me, I went back to the main area and ordered a beer and a shot. Killing time until someone else caught my eye, I ordered another one-and-one after inhaling the first, and one more after that. The sudden buzz didn’t do much to improve my mood. I’d been looking forward to a few hours of mindless fun, and sex had been high on my list.
I cleared my tab with cash to stay incognito and decided to make one more attempt to find the brunet. As soon as I entered the dark room, I felt the man’s presence. He was leaning against a wall, staring at me with purpose. We met halfway, and I was hypnotized by catlike eyes, an interesting mix of browns and greens. The chemistry between us was sending shock waves directly to my groin. I didn’t want to appear inexperienced, but I hadn’t been with a guy in a long time, and I was nervous. It took a boatload of willpower to keep up my cool façade.
Finally, the stranger broke the silence. “Are you alone?”
Circling my waist with strong arms, he dragged me against his body. We were the same height, and as our mouths got closer, so did our hips, but I avoided his kiss. I wasn’t ready for that yet and hoped he’d get the message. Without faltering, my hookup deftly moved to my neck and slowly licked his way up to the outer shell of my ear, whispering dirty nothings along the way. I could feel the barriers crumbling as my need took over, and the next time he tried to kiss me, I let him.
His lips were surprisingly soft, but stubble against stubble was a sensation I’d never felt before. Gradually, I responded to his questing tongue and let his strong hands clutch my ass cheeks and drag me against his growing erection. The jolt of desire made him reckless.
“Can we get out of here?” I asked hopefully.
“You bet,” my mystery man answered. He held my hand and led me toward the exit. A few seconds before we’d made a clean getaway, I felt a heavy hand on my shoulder. David, the royal event planner, and his partner, Sam, stood in our way.
“What are you doing here?” David asked, ignoring the guy beside me.
I was surprised to see him and went on the defensive. “None of your damn business.”
David was visibly shocked by my combative attitude but stood his ground. “You’ll be sorry in the morning.”
“Take your hands off him,” the stranger snarled. “He’s with me.”
“Look,” David said, trying a more amicable approach. “You don’t know who you’re dealing with, and he’s obviously had too much to drink.”
“He gave me a clear message, and I’m acting on it.”
Sam and David sandwiched me and headed toward the exit. My hookup was probably fuming, but our connection had been broken, and I couldn’t find the energy to put up a fight. David got behind the wheel of the car, and Sam sat in the back seat beside me.
After a few mild protests, I slumped against Sam and drifted off…
About the Author
Mickie B. Ashling is the pseudonym of a multifaceted woman who is a product of her upbringing in multiple cultures, having lived in Japan, the Philippines, Spain, and the Middle East. Fluent in three languages, she’s a citizen of the world and an interesting mixture of East and West. A little bit of this and a lot of that have brought a unique touch to her literary voice she could never learn from textbooks.
By the time Mickie discovered her talent for writing, real life got in the way, and the business of raising four sons took priority. With the advent of e-publishing—and the inevitable emptying nest—dreams of becoming a published writer were resurrected and fulfilled in April 2009.
Mickie discovered gay romance in 2002 and continues to draw inspiration from the LGBTQA community and their ongoing struggle to find equality and happiness in this oftentimes skewed and intolerant world. Her award-winning novels have been called “gut-wrenching, daring, and thought provoking.” She admits to being an angst queen and making her characters work damn hard for their happy endings.
Follow the Tour
8/13 – Valerie Ullmer | Romance Author || 8/13 – Love Bytes || 8/14 – Divine Magazine || 8/15 – My Fiction Nook || 8/16 – The Novel Approach || 8/17 – Joyfully Jay || 8/20 – Queer Sci Fi || 8/20 – Happily Ever Chapter || 8/21 – Outrageous Heroes of Romance || 8/22 – Stories That Make You Smile || 8/23 – Boy Meets Boy Reviews || 8/23 – Drops of Ink || 8/24 – Bayou Book Junkie