AR Moler’s Shifter Rules

18192332Shifter Rules

What kind of animal do you want? And what kind of rules does your world obey? Shifters are popular in erotic romance these days. Werewolves undoubtedly lead the pack (pun intended), but if you read books by many different authors, you’ll find laws on what’s allowed and what not vary.

I write all sorts of urban fantasy. A lot of it revolves around my psi universe –Division P and SIS Case Files, but I’ve written some shifter stories too. I confess there are certain rules of the physical world I have a hard time violating when I spin a tale. Blame the scientist half of my brain. By day (no, actually that should be by night) I teach chemistry to college students. The first rule of the year= Conservation of Mass. You don’t get to make or break the atoms, you only get to rearrange them. Okay, okay, I’m ignoring the concept of nuclear fission and fusion but that’s a whole different semester.  So how does a 160 lb guy turn into a 80 lb wolf? What? I know that we all play around with the concept of magic as component of the paranormal world, but really? What happened to the other 80 lbs of “stuff”? Is it hiding in a pocket dimension? Based on that idea, said shifter ought to be able to magic back his clothes when he turns into a man again. When I wrote “Pris de Fer”, I agonized for a while over how I wanted to play with the world building rules. I just couldn’t bring myself to violate that law, so the 160 lb man becomes a 160 lb wolf.

Now we move on to thermodynamics. In a nutshell – you can’t win, you can’t break even, you can’t get out of the game. Now let’s toss a little biochemistry in. (Yeah, I’ve got a degree in that too.) Dredge through your dim dark memories of high school biology. Remember ATP and digestion and how the food you eat eventually gets turned into the energy that powers your body? Shifting takes energy. Let’s pretend we’re obeying the laws of thermo. Shifting is an energy drain, like running a 100m dash. Yes, you could do it a second time, given a little time to catch your catch your breath. A third time, maybe, but it’s likely it more would be more of a 100m jog. Basically I put a biological limit on the number of times a shifter could do it in a given time period.

What about genetics? I’m not fond of the idea that the ability to shift is like a virus, something you get infected with. From an evolutionary point of view it makes much more sense for to be a product of a mutation. And I’m not totally sold on a species where only one gender carries and expresses the gene. It seems that would be like the horse/donkey problem where you get sterile offspring. Or you get a dwindling gene pool.

I’m probably a little unusual coming from a hard science background, which gives me a different take on the rules that I impose on the shifters I write.

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Also, come say hello! I’ll be at Coastal Magic, the Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance convention held in Daytona Beach, Florida this February. Check their website for more details and participating authors. Gift Certificates now available.

AR MOler

Fireman Gideon Sato stumbles over a man—oddly still alive and in remarkable health—in the ashes of a warehouse fire. A strange connection runs between Gideon and the man, Vanya Stravinsky, despite Vanya’s confusion and loss of memory.

Vanya, a chef, gets mugged after work one evening. He wakes up, nude, in the ashes of a fire. He doesn’t remember much of what happened, but he can guess how he got there. He too feels that connection with his rescuer, but he’s got to decide how much to tell Gideon. Not to mention, the cops think that Vanya was up to no good in that warehouse fire.

Somehow Vanya and Gideon have figure out what’s really going on and also prove Vanya’s innocence. Life just got complicated!

Buy link:

Denying Love… by Allison Cassatta

Let me start off by thanking MANtastic Fiction for allowing me to steal their page for a night, and for giving me a venue to discuss one of my 2013 releases, and the very important role one supporting character played in that book. Thank you for taking the time to read this. It’s important to me that readers understand the role Aric played in Three Little Words.

A common trope in romantic fiction is fighting the inevitability of falling in love. Maybe the hero had something in his past that hurt him so bad he swore he’d never do it again. Or maybe the situation is all wrong and the timing is bad.  Whatever the reason, they put up defenses and fight not to let love happen. They deny true love. A common practice, even in reality, is going after someone else—be it an intimate situation or just dating—just to prove to oneself they don’t really love who their heart says they love. Yeah, well… we’ve all seen that backfire. Haven’t we?

Case in point, Aric.

It’s been said that some readers didn’t see the point of Aric even being in the book. That the sex Matt has with him is gratuitous and unneeded, that it’s just sex for sex’s sake. Wrong. Aric is the vehicle that makes Matt truly start to come to terms that he’s head-over-heels, wildly in love with his best friend. In fact, Matt feels really guilty about using Aric afterward, and this is seen in the driveway before Matt takes off.

Originally, Aric’s story was supposed to end there. I’ve been toying with the idea of giving him a voice. Every once in a while, he’ll poke his hand up in the air and say, “Don’t forget about me.  I want a happily ever after too.” One of these days, I’ll stop swatting him back. His HEA hasn’t made an appearance yet.

Anyway, I digress. The point of this was to explain the reasoning behind putting a character like Aric into a story like Three Little Words, and just because you took the time to read it. I’m going to give you a little prize. Two little prizes to be exact. The first one is open to everyone on the planet. I’m giving away an ebook copy of Three Little Words. The second, unfortunately, is only open to US residents due to shipping costs and US customs. The second is an autographed copy of the paperback.

Comment below for your chance to win. What did you think of Aric? What do you think of characters who’s path to true love is a little more crowded that the typical romance? Along with your comments please included ebook, paper, or ebook/paper.

Contest open until 11:59 pm Friday, November 1st. Winners will be notified on Saturday.

Thanks for participating!



Three Little Words

Released March 2013 Amber Allure (Amber Quill Press)

EDITIONS: eBook, paperback


GENRE: M/M, Contemporary

COVER ART: Allison Cassatta

After Matt’s “perfect” life comes crashing down around him and the man he plans to marry leaves him, he has it in his mind he’s going to make an escape, take an adventure up to New England and get away on the open seas with the big brother with whom he needs to reconnect after too many years apart. He plans to spend months away from home, clearing his mind and experiencing a different way of life, but undying feelings and a catastrophe with Luke, his lifelong best friend, causes him to go running back home, only to be met with the ignorance and hatred of the people dearest to Luke.

Will an old love be the key to unlocking Matt’s heart and sending him on the right path, or do some secrets and feelings need to remain locked away for the comfort and security of everyone involved?



Glenn Burke and the High-Five – Wilde City Press – Gay History Month


There have been several athletes that have “come out” in the last few years. Most have done so after their playing days were over, a time that felt most comfortable to them. But there seems to be a turning point as this past year has seen many athletes stepping forward while still active in their sport. You can find an ever growing list of LGBT athletes on wikipedia HERE.

I love baseball so when I saw the following entry in Owen Keehnan’s The LGBT Book of Days, I had to know more.

November 16, 1952 – Major League Baseball player Glenn Burke, who was one of the first professional athletes to come out of the closet while still actively playing and who played for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Oakland Athletics from 1976-1979 – is born in Oakland, CA. He is credited with inventing the High-Five.

Rick Reilly did a wonderful article on Glenn Burke shortly after Jason Collins came out earlier this year. You can read it HERE.

“Out”, a Glenn Burke documentary aired in 2010. You can see the television spot in the video below, and the link to Peter Hartlaub’s newspaper spot on the same documentary can be found HERE.

About the High-Five, you ask?

There are a few stories out there, though most have been uncovered to be hoaxes. The story most agreed upon as the “official” birth of the High-Five is the one involving Glenn Burke and Dusty Baker during a Dodgers/Astros game on October 2, 1977. From Jon Mooallen’s ESPN article, which you can read in full HERE.

It was the last day of the regular season, and Dodgers leftfielder Dusty Baker had just gone deep off the Astros’ J.R. Richard. It was Baker’s 30th home run, making the Dodgers the first team in history to have four sluggers — Baker, Ron Cey, Steve Garvey and Reggie Smith — with at least 30 homers each. It was a wild, triumphant moment and a good omen as the Dodgers headed to the playoffs. Burke, waiting on deck, thrust his hand enthusiastically over his head to greet his friend at the plate. Baker, not knowing what to do, smacked it. “His hand was up in the air, and he was arching way back,” says Baker, now 62 and managing the Reds. “So I reached up and hit his hand. It seemed like the thing to do.”

What does it all mean? Something. Nothing. Who knows? But the High-Five is something we still see. It’s something fun and silly. And the likely invention of a man way before his time.


The Otherside Lounge Bombing, Atlanta 1997, as remembered by Jon Michaelsen


The Bombing of a Lesbian Bar, A Violent, Murderous Activist, and a Gay Community Gripped in Fear.

Sixteen years ago, pride and the continuing gay liberation movement in the gay community of Atlanta was threatened on the night of February 27, 1997. Around 10:00 p.m. in the evening a bomb exploded on the patio of the The Otherside Lounge, a lesbian nightclub located near Midtown, the gay mecca of the city. The bar was crowded with about one-hundred and fifty patrons on Monday night, far fewer than any other evening during the week or weekends. Five people were injured that night, one seriously. The seriously injured lesbian, Memrie Wells-Cresswell, was there that night to celebrate a friend’s birthday. Wells-Cresswell was not “out” at her job, so when then Mayor Bill Campbell mentioned her name to the media during a news conference, she was outed and soon after fired from her job.

Far more lesbian and gay patrons, as well as their straight friends, could have been maimed or killed that fateful night since bomb squad technicians had located a second explosive in a tattered backpack outside of the lounge near an outer wall, likely meant to go off after first responders such as police, firefighters, and paramedics converged following the first explosion. Or perhaps the device was meant to detonate and collapse the cinderblock wall onto party-goers, thereby injuring more gay people. It’s a miracle the shrapnel-filled bomb, packed tight with metal, screws and nails didn’t blast as intended. I thank God for that human error.

I actually heard about the bombing the following day from a news briefing on the radio while heading into work. These were the days when CNN was in its infancy, Headline News, FOX and other 24-hour cable news channels had yet to appear and gain mass appeal, before the Internet grew into mainstream, even before cell phones became less a luxury and a staple of everyday life. We got our news in those days (for those who actually paid attention) by reading the daily newspaper, listening to news briefs between songs played on the radio, or sitting in front of a television for the nightly news broadcast on the three major networks, ABC, NBC and CBS.

When I heard about the bombing the morning after, I felt an incredible fear, first for my possible friends who might have been in the bar that night, then as the day wore on, a gnawing, painful anxiety that had reached to my very core of my soul. It was though members of my family -my extended family – had been directly targeted and harmed simply because of whom they were, whom they chose to love. In the most harrowing, cowardly fashion, some sick, bigoted, ignorant, weak coward (and a few more choice words best not printed here…) had come out to kill us, our community in a failed attempt to proclaim we did not matter.

Never had I experienced until that point in my life anything so blatantly directed at the gay community to which I belonged as the bombing of the The Otherside Lounge. Though the bar wasn’t one I frequented, I still felt an immediate kinship, as most gays and lesbians in the city, indeed the country, who sympathized for the victims, their lovers, and their families. After all, we were all “family”.

I feared for the gay community in general and what this one act of violence could mean to a growing, more tolerant and accepting society than decades past. I was too young to have experienced the condemnation of gays and the horrors of the late 60s, of Stonewall Riots, of the horrifying fire-bombing in June 1973 of the Upstairs Lounge in the French Quarter of New Orleans that had claimed thirty-two lives, and barely out of the proverbial closet when openly gay San Francisco City Supervisor, Harvey Milk was assassinated. So this cowardly act, the attack became my first exposure to just how much hate for gays and lesbians existed, waiting in the dark shadows and crevices of the city for that perfect spark to insight fear.

The bombing was all anyone could talk about at the travel agency I worked in at the time, a decidedly liberal company headquartered out of New York with a local satellite office employing both straight and only gay employees. The travel business was one of the few industries at the time who embraced our rainbow brothers and sisters with open arms, especially in this bible-belt, ultra-ultra conservative southern state. Our office had rallied around each other hearing the news, determined to stand up to the threats against our very existence. We refused to be shunted inside our apartments at night or terrorized by the radicals, to show them we were not scared.

But, I was afraid, nervous every night I ventured out to the bars, the dance clubs, my favorite haunts, fearful this night might be the next time a bomb exploded, or when fire ripped through a club I was dancing in. Yes, gays and lesbians at the time were all scared, but we put on our brave faces and in that fuzzy space of the unknown, we found our strength and courage in numbers, and there were many, many of us in this city who refused to let such a gutless act of domestic terrorism shove us back right back into the closet from which we had sprung. We called upon our bravery as one and refused to be bullied for being who we were, for whom we loved, and for choosing to live our lives openly and freely.

The injured eventually recovered from their wounds, the gays continued flocking to the latest dance club unfettered, and I eventually got over my fear of venturing out. Sadly, The Otherside Lounge never made a comeback after nearly seven years in business, owned and operated by a lesbian couple of twenty years at the time. The bomber was eventually caught years after living and hiding out in the woods of North Carolina. Extremist Eric Rudolph said in a written statement provided to the court by lawyers at his sentencing…

“…the next attack in February was at The Otherside Lounge. Like the assault at the abortion mill, two devices (sic) used. The first device was designed not necessarily to target the patrons of this homosexual bar, but rather to set the stage for the next device, which was again targeted at Washington’s agents. The attack itself was meant to send a powerful message in protest of Washington’s continued tolerance and support for the homosexual political agenda.” – Eric Rudolph

BUT, the coward did not get the last word. Several of Rudolph’s victims and surviving family members (of all his bombings) had shown up at the sentencing on August 13, 2005 as well and made statements of their own, including the seriously injured lesbian from The Otherside Lounge bombing, who bravely said to Rudolph:

“I am here to tell you personally today that you didn’t kill me.” – Memrie Wells-Cresswell.

I could not have said it any better. October is the month to celebrate Gay History, for better or worse. Let’s all take this time to remember those who have come before us and support those who will carry the torch long after we are gone.

Jon Michaelsen