GUEST POST: Beetlemania!

Today we are joined by Anna Butler. She’s just released a new book from Dreamspinner Press called The Gilded Scarab. It sounds awesome. Congratulations, Anna! Check out her guest post below. There’s also a great excerpt and a giveaway.


You know, being a writer is awesome.

It means you get to take half a dozen things you love—beetles, jewellery, Egyptology, coffee, steampunk, two (or three) drop-dead gorgeous men who are hot as hell for each other—and you get to play with them. Your own little theatre players acting the story that’s in your head, the one that’s bursting to get out, and you get to take all those things you love, shake them up and, if you’re lucky, your story comes to life in your hands.

I love beetles. They’re the little gems of the insect world, their bodies showing an astonishing range of colour and pattern, often in rich, jewel colours: ruby red, sapphire, a glorious emerald green. Okay, the dull black sacred scarabs of Egypt maybe don’t quite fall into that category, but they have deserts and pyramids on their side instead. They’re emblematic of sand, the Nile, and skies that are the colour of beaten copper at noon—mysterious, a symbol of the romance of ancient Egypt. I can forgive them for being a little dull to look at.

Victorian jewellers, though, didn’t let them stay dull for long. We all know that Art Deco in the 1920s went wild with Egyptian motifs after the discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb. But Egypt had been fashionable long before that, right back to the Battle of the Nile in 1798. For the first time, Europe woke up to the fact that Egypt, that strange narrow land, actually existed and went mad on things Egyptian. Furniture, clothing, jewellery, even buildings. They were all influenced by what explorers were discovering along the Nile.

Jewellers didn’t lag behind. They created everything from pendants to tiaras using Egyptian designs and, sometimes, even the wing cases and hard bodies of scarab beetles. Rafe’s Gilded Scarab, though, isn’t as naturalistic as that. By the turn of the 20th century, scarab watches were a fashionable item to have. These are exquisite, made of enamelled gold embellished with jewels, with the wing cases opening up to show the watch face. Watches like this are perfect for archaeologists, especially Aegyptologists. You can understand why they’re a perfect gift for Daniel Meredith to present to fellow Aegyptologist Ned Winter, and to ex-pilot Rafe Lancaster when Rafe buys a coffee house.

Rafe’s watch is made with wings of scarlet enamel picked out with diamonds, much as this one here. In the image here, you can see how detailed these watches are, complete with the legs on the underside.


As for steampunk… well, let’s just say that the scarab is important there. Too important to give away here. But to keep the link with the scarab watch, the excerpt below recounts how Rafe met Daniel, the man who was later to give it to him.


(Cover by Reese Dante)


When Captain Rafe Lancaster is invalided out of the Britannic Imperium’s Aero Corps after crashing his aerofighter during the Second Boer War, his eyesight is damaged permanently, and his career as a fighter pilot is over. Returning to Londinium in late November 1899, he’s lost the skies he loved, has no place in a society ruled by an elite oligarchy of powerful Houses, and is hard up, homeless, and in desperate need of a new direction in life.

Everything changes when he buys a coffeehouse near the Britannic Imperium Museum in Bloomsbury, the haunt of Aegyptologists. For the first time in years, Rafe is free to be himself. In a city powered by luminiferous aether and phlogiston, and where powerful men use House assassins to target their rivals, Rafe must navigate dangerous politics, deal with a jealous and possessive ex-lover, learn to make the best coffee in Londinium, and fend off murder and kidnap attempts before he can find happiness with the man he loves.


The lounge was crowded that evening. The pre-Christmas rush, I assumed, when gentlemen made merry before being clasped to the bosom of their families, when they would infinitely prefer the bosom of the handsome waiter at their club. I didn’t begrudge the festive cheer, but had to push my way through to the bar. Really. In any well-ordered universe, the crowd would have noticed me and my fine clothes at the door and parted to make way for me, like the Red Sea.

A scotch and soda did a great deal to restore my equanimity. Indeed, I grew a trifle beatific, since all I’d had to eat since breakfast had been some of Will Somers’s pastries, and the scotch didn’t have a lot of insulation to work on. I wasn’t festive, you realize, merely a little mellow. So when the tall man in natty evening dress bumped shoulders with me, I merely moved to get out of range rather than apostrophize him as the clumsiest oaf in Christendom.

“I beg your pardon!” He glanced at me and then again, more slowly the second time. He looked me up and down and smiled. “It’s an unholy crush in here tonight.”

He was older than me. A good ten years at least, but his brown hair, brushed back from his brow in true aesthete style, was untouched by gray. His eyes were the bright mauvish-blue of flax flowers, framed by eyelashes of extraordinary length and thickness. I suspected him of some sort of artifice there. Those eyelashes didn’t strike me as quite natural. But everything else appeared to be the genuine article, and if he were indeed in his early forties, as he appeared, he had worn well. He wore his daisy on the left of his lapel and perhaps his acquaintanceship would be worth cultivating.

I smiled. “I should have remembered everyone comes here at Christmas. I think it’s to immunize themselves against the shock of festive family life.”

He threw back his head and laughed. Mmmn. It hadn’t been that amusing, but perhaps it passed for wit where this man normally existed.

“I could wish there were a vaccine for it,” he said, sounding heartfelt. “In lieu of it, I shall try to sate myself in a more satisfactory sort of life to build up my immunity.” He gestured to my glass. “May I refresh that?”

Did he think he might have the opportunity to sate himself in me, then? We’d see. “Scotch and soda, thank you…?” I allowed my voice to lift and trail away on an interrogative note.

“Daniel Meredith,” he supplied, half turning away to try and catch a waiter’s eye.

“Rafe Lancaster.” I held out my hand for him to shake. “I’m pleased to meet you, Meredith.”

He turned back to me and smiled, and suddenly it wasn’t merely a polite platitude to ease along society’s wheels. I was rather pleased to meet him. I could have done a lot worse.

Buy Links

The Gilded Scarab is available at:

Dreamspinner as an ebook and in paperback.

All Romance as an ebook


Click here to enter the Rafflecopter to win an Amazon gift card (drawn when the blog tour is over at the end of March).

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You will need to leave a Comment here. In addition, one commentator will be chosen at complete close-eyes-stick-a-pin-in-it random will get a little pack of Gilded Scarab loot and a free copy of FlashWired (a gay mainstream sci-fi novella).


Anna Butler was a communications specialist for many years, working in UK government departments on everything from marketing employment schemes to running an internal TV service. She now spends her time indulging her love of old-school science fiction. She lives in the ethnic and cultural melting pot of East London with her husband and the Deputy Editor, aka Molly the cockapoo.

Find Anna:

Website and Blog


The Butler’s Pantry (Facebook Group)





INTERVIEW, EXCERPT and GIVEAWAY: Brad Vance “Have a Little Faith In Me”

Join us today as Brad Vance answers some questions and shares his new release with us. Plus there’s a special announcement about a free book available on 19th/20th Feb and a giveaway as well. 

Young male fashion model posing outdoors against rustic background


When Rocky met Dex, it was hate at first sight. Country superstar Dex Dexter represented everything that budding rock star Rocky McCoy had left behind him in the Deep South – the religion, the homophobia, the hypocrisy, the lies. And Rocky represented everything that Dex had denied, had turned away from, had refused…

When Rocky met Dex, it was love at first touch. Double booked in the same slot on the main stage at CrossFest, they fought for the microphone like two dogs fighting over a bone. And when their hands met…

Rocky has had enough. “No more falling for straight guys. No way. No matter how hot. Especially if the ‘straight guy’ looks to me like a major closet case.”

Dex has had enough. “No way. I can’t be gay. I can’t lose my family, my friends, my career. I can’t.”

What they’ve had enough of doesn’t matter. It’s what they’ve never had enough of that will bring them together…

young man imagine by laying on the sofa



Thanks for joining us today, Brad. Congratulations on our new release.  We are also happy to have the opportunity to ask you some questions. Instead of the usual question, we were hoping to get a glimpse into your day – A Day in the Life of Brad Vance… I hope you don’t mind us prying. 😉

On a typical day, how much time would you spend writing? Describe your writing environment.

Thank you!  Great to be here.  I spend about three hours a day on average doing the actual writing.  That’s not my whole working day, of course.  There’s making book covers, publishing, blogging, Facebooking, research (lots of research), wow… sometimes I feel like Madeleine Kahn in “Blazing Saddles” – I’m not a wabbit! 

I have a two bedroom house and the second bedroom is my office.  My cats each have their own comfortably appointed chairs in here where they keep me company.  To be honest, they’re probably also in here because that’s where the electric radiator is…  The office has southern and western exposures, so there’s lot of light, which I need for my mental health.  I have a big “Emperor Palpatine” chair that makes it much easier to sit here for my long days.

Are you a night owl or a day person? How many hours sleep do you get?

Oh very much a morning person.  I’ve had a day job all my life, and I don’t have any creative energy in the evenings anyway, so I’ve had to get used to getting up early if I want to get anything done.  Elmore Leonard was always up and writing at 4 a.m. when he had a day job, but I’ve got him beat lately.  I’m a bit of an insomniac now, so I’m usually on the computer by 2:30 or 3 am.  But then, it’s winter so I go to bed at 8!  These days I’m getting about 4 or 5 hours of sleep, supplemented with a nice afternoon nap.  But, I’ve finally reached a level of success with my writing that I can finally go “day job free” in a few weeks, so maybe that will let me feel like I can sleep in a little later.

Quitting the day job. Wow, you will be making so many people jealous. Congratulations for getting to that point in your life.

Shower or bath? See we are getting really personal here. 🙂

Well, I’m 6’2” so shower!  Baths are no fun when you’re all folded up and only half your body is in the water.  But, my gym has a nice Jacuzzi, so that’s where I get my “immersion therapy.”

What’s on the menu for dinner tonight? What would you rather be eating?

Hmm.  I think tonight it’s cilantro garlic salmon patties from Whole Foods.  I’ve gotten out of the habit of cooking, but working two jobs, the day job and “being Brad Vance,” will do that to you.  I’m really looking forward to the luxury of enough time to restart that.  If I had a magic wand, and could eat one thing forever without ever getting fat, it would probably be peanut butter.  Whole Foods Honey Peanut Butter.  “I’ll have it in a bucket!”

What book is currently on the bedside table? Or maybe the bed reserved for other things, rather than reading  😉

Ohh, right now it’s just me and the cats.  I don’t have time for a boyfriend.  A social life would interfere with my phenomenal productivity right now.  I’ve got a stack of books for my alter ego, science fiction writer “Adam Vance,” on guerrilla warfare and counterinsurgency.  This is research for his “FJ One” series, starting with “Scarcity.” It’s nice to do something different, more cerebral and action-oriented, and I’m really enjoying writing these. 

I’m reading Max Boot’s “Invisible Armies,” which is awesome.  I’m a huge history buff.  For pleasure, it’s Simon Sebag Montefiore’s “Jerusalem” and for semi-pleasure, semi-research, I just got a book called “Berlin Now.”  It’s semi-research because Adam’s post-Collapse world has its capital in Berlin (because Germany is really the only country right now that isn’t in debt to its eyeballs, among other reasons).  But it’s also pleasure, because I’m really looking forward to a European vacation if my sales continue to boom like they have lately.  I hope to have time to start reading fiction again soon.

What’s the best part of your day?

Right now?  Waking up and checking my sales figures 🙂  I’m hitting the jackpot with both my erotic series “Kyle’s New Stepbrother” and with “Have a Little Faith in Me.”  That feels great.  I’ve been doing this for two and a half years, and every day I’ve checked my sales.  Some days I’d get excited if I sold ten copies of something overnight.  A lot of days I’d get no sales on a new title in the first week and just be crushed.  So, right now, it’s like a drug, seeing the big numbers.

Share with us one secret or snippet from Have a Little Faith In Me, that isn’t from the blurb or excerpt.

This is a scene with Dex as a teenager, escaping his crazy family and his dad Mike for just a minute…

Dex took his guitar out to the free-standing garage, going through the back door so his dad wouldn’t have a chance to make another dumbass comment. 

Because Dex was sixteen years old, emotional hurt got expressed back out again as anger.  The detached garage had become his space by default.  There was a jumble of tools haphazardly stuck on the wall, and a punching bag.  Mike had bought the bag off Craigslist one day when he thought he was a badass.  But he punched the bag about as often as he used the tools.  Not since the day he’d tried a flying kick and landed on his ass, to the hysterical laughter of his family.

Dex put on the boxing gloves.  Even in his rage he made sure to protect his fingers.  He got in a fighting stance, then began pounding the bag.

He hated his father with the raging disgust only a teenager can feel for a parent.  His dad was a deadbeat, plain and simple.  Right about now he’d be in the kitchen, the freezer door open, a gallon of ice cream in one hand and a soup spoon in the other, as if he was just going to have a bite.  And he’d fucking stand there, Dex thought as he landed a series of jabs and crosses, shove shove shoveling that ice cream down his gullet.

Then, he knew, his dad would go to work, and do just what he’d done at every job he’d ever had – goof off as much as possible, slack off and string out the easiest task as long as he could, devoting more energy to thinking of ways to get out of working than it would have taken him to do his job. 

“Goin’ back to a real job when the plant opens again,” he’d say to his drinking buddies as they sprawled in the new patio furniture scattered across the front lawn.  They’d nod and raise their beers, as if any of them would ever go back to the plant, where they’d actually had to work, if they could help it.

Tonight he’d go to work at the casino, and he and his buddies would cover for each other as they took naps in the one corner of the casinos that someone had thoughtlessly forgotten to cover with a camera.  Then he’d come home, drink some more, pass out, snore like the devil from his COPD, wake up in time to throw up from his GERD, and then wash the bile back down with his first beer of the day.

When he’d pounded the bag to his satisfaction, Dex took off the gloves and took his acoustic guitar out of its case, gently.  He loved this Martin guitar.  Johnny Cash played a Martin, and that was all he needed to know. 

He’d bought it for a couple hundred bucks off one of his dad’s friends who’d been short of cash and, of course, hadn’t played it in years.  Most of Dex’s paychecks went to music-related purchases, where other boys his age spent theirs on a car.  Dex was content to walk forever if that was the price he had to pay.

He got his fingers flexed, sounded out some chords, then thought about what he wanted to play.  He wasn’t a book learner, couldn’t march through the Mel Bay books, down the accepted path of orderly progression where you learned all the chords before you played the songs you really wanted to play.  He wanted to play NOW, not later.  He’d learned the opening to Nirvana’s “Come as You Are” before he ever touched “Red River” or “Amazing Grace.” 

Mike played the electric guitar sometimes, when he and his friends were drunk and decided they’d “jam” in the front yard.  He’d bang on it and mess up the chords and laugh.  Then he’d take a break for another beer and announce that “Someday I’m a gonna get our old band back together.”

Dex thought about that now, and some lyrics popped into his head. 

“I’m a gonna go back to work real soon, I’m a gonna fix that busted roof, I’m a gonna get that truck off the blocks, just as soon as I finish this beer.” 

He laughed.  “I’m a gonna” was pretty much the mantra around here, he thought.

He knew what he wanted to play tonight.  He hadn’t learned to read music, so he played from “tabs.”  Tablature replaced complex musical notation with dots that showed you where to put your fingers.  And best of all, you could download them for free on the Internet. 

He put the paper on the music stand.  His mind cleared, his anger dissipated, as he started playing the song, pleased at the way the transcription converted the piano opening to guitar.

He didn’t trust his voice yet, didn’t have the confidence to do more than whisper the words along with the song.  “Have a little faith in me,” he sighed as he played the John Hiatt song.  “Have a little faith in me…”

Thank you so much for answering my questions and the special little treat at the end! 🙂


Rocky picked up the Gibson Hummingbird.  Chris Cornell played one of these.  What more did he need to know?

He knew exactly what he wanted to play.  How many times had he played this song, how many times had he stretched his voice, discovering his own vocal range.  The notes of “Like a Stone” flowed from his fingers in a waterfall, and the words were a flock of birds banking wildly in front of the cascade, flirting with disaster.

He came to the end, the roaring finish, his eyes closed as he sang the epic wave of notes in the last word of the song, “alone.”

He’d only ever played the song when he was alone with Korey, who was no cheerleader.  Korey would nod, say, “Good job.”  And then tell him where he missed something.

When he was done, he opened his eyes.  His new friends were speechless.  “Was it okay?” he asked doubtfully.

“Holy fucking great mother of God,” Rick gasped.  “Who the fuck are you?  Where did you come from?”

Rocky smiled.  “Under a rock.  I’ve been living under a rock.”

Buy Link

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Rafflecopter Prize: 3 copies of the E-book

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“The Worst Best Luck” was selected for a BookBub on February 19/20 – it’ll be FREE on Amazon those days, and has a 10k excerpt from “Have a Little Faith in Me” at the end.


Peter Rabe’s luck is about to change. Taking a co-worker’s car into the shop nets him a desperately needed $100 tip…and the attentions of Matt Kensington, master mechanic. Peter can’t believe that someone as hot as Matt could be interested in the young man his tormentors used to call “Peter Rabbit.” But, incredibly enough, he is. And when the Quadrillions lottery jackpot is up to $700,000,000, wouldn’t it be crazy of Peter not to buy a ticket on his lucky day? Matt doesn’t think much of money, having grown up on New York’s Upper East Side in the lap of luxury. He’d walked away from the professional drudgery his Harvard degree had qualified him for, to become a mechanic, to touch things that were real, to fix things that were broken. And a hot shy guy like Peter is another machine Matt wants to believe he can fix. But when Peter finds out he’s won the lottery, it almost feels like his luck has run out. Especially when Cody Burrell, his emotionally abusive ex-boyfriend, mysteriously re-enters his life just before he cashes the ticket and reveals his good fortune to the world… Peter must wrestle with the pressures of wealth on someone who’s grown up poor, the pressure of fame that comes with so much instant fortune, and most of all, with his own demons, the demons that Cody knows all too well how to manipulate.

Amazon – Make sure you check the price is showing as $0.00 before hitting the buy button.

About the author

Brad Vance writes gay romance, erotica and paranormal stories and novels, including the breakout hits “A Little Too Broken” and “Given the Circumstances.”

Where to find the author:

Keep up with Brad at, email him at, and friend him on Facebook at


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