There You Are Release Party #1 – Welcome!

December 24, 2015

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Hello Everyone! CJane Elliott here on this beautiful Christmas Eve to celebrate with you the release of my new novella, There You Are, Book Two in the Wild and Precious Series.

Here’s a cup of virtual eggnog to get things going:

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Behold this amazing cover by AngstyG:

ThereYouAre_postcard_front_DSP

The train station you see there is in Portland, Oregon, which is where our hero Cody Bellstrom is going as the story begins. Cody loves to travel to new places, but as he discovers, “no matter where you go, there you are.”

BLURB:

Bisexual musician Cody Bellstrom is a free spirit, easygoing and unattached. On a cross-country trip, Cody befriends young Sandy Nixon and gets him safely to Portland and his uncle, Phineas MacDonald. Beautiful Phineas turns Cody’s life upside down, and Cody learns he’s not as unattached as he aspires to be. With the hard-won knowledge of what lies underneath his need to be free, Cody wins a chance at real freedom and true love.

Ever since his longtime lover Allen died, Phineas MacDonald has lived a circumscribed life. He stopped performing as fierce drag queen Phanny Hill and works part-time in a bookstore. Phineas never expected to find love again. But when sexy and caring Cody Bellstrom turns up, Phineas feels his orderly life slipping out of his control. Cody brings him alive again, but now Phineas must find the courage to let go of his grief over Allen and give love a second chance.

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I’ll be back soon to talk more about the book.

GIVEAWAY: Make sure you comment because three people who comment during the There You Are  Release Party today will win a CJane Elliott ebook of their choice. You can leave a comment any time. I’ll be checking throughout the day!

And take advantage of the Dreamspinner Holiday Sale – 25% off everything in the store!

MerryandBright_DSPsite

There You Are Buy Links:

Dreamspinner   Amazon   All Romance   Barnes&Noble   Apple   Kobo   Google Play

 

So to start things off here’s an easy question:  How’s the weather where you are? Is it Christmas-y or not so much?

 

12 Courses, the sixth book in the Delectable Series is officially here! @emlynley #mmromance

December 23, 2015

Cooking, writing, romance. Delectable.

I can’t believe it. Six books. Actually more than that, when you count the missing scenes and freebies along the way. Working on this series has been nothing short of a joy for me, a real dream-come-true to combine my passions into one project. I’ll share a little about the inspiration for this book with you now, and then in later posts today, I’ll share more of my own  joy of cooking, some recipes and more!

 

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A bit about the book:

 

Thom Kennedy Leyton returns to San Francisco to take up the reins of Graze, one of the city’s best restaurants, years after he lost his job when his innovative new set of recipes was stolen. Thom’s loss of self-esteem eventually caused his boyfriend, Blake Warner, to end their relationship, sending Thom into a deep depression.

Now, cured of fifty excess pounds and any attraction to Blake, Thom’s back in town. Blake catches him off guard when he visits Graze several days in a row, and Thom lets himself get caught up in Blake’s allure, despite knowing better. Thom juggles a renewed relationship with Blake, a Christmas visit from his parents, and an important holiday menu based on a Twelve Days of Christmas theme.

When an old acquaintance reveals that Blake knows more about the theft of the recipes than he lets on, Thom doesn’t know whom to trust. But the truth isn’t quite that simple, and Thom won’t be able to decide if Blake deserves a place in his life until he learns exactly what happened years ago.

 

Available now r at Dreamspinner Press: — at Amazon — at All Romance

 

The inspiration

 

I love to cook. If you’ve met me, you probably also know I love to eat. I have food and cooking scenes in all of my books, so it was inevitable I would write a series featuring chefs and winemakers, and other men in the restaurant world.

 

For this sixth installment in the Delectable Series, I needed to come up with some familiar, yet completely different. Another story about another chef just wasn’t going to do it for me or for fans of the series.

 

I decided to set myself a challenge: a new chef trying to convince his bosses to take a big chance on a vegan Twelve Nights of Christmas menu. Not only is Thom Kennedy trying to earn his way back to the top, but he’s chosen an incredibly tricky and risky way of doing it.

 

Thom actually had it easy. I was the one struggling to create a menu as elaborate as Thom needed. Not being a chef myself, coming up with a dozen unique vegan dishes worthy of a holiday special event taxed my brain more than anything I’ve written. I probably spent more time creating the menu than writing the story.

 

I did not consult with any professional chefs, so my imaginary Twelve Courses may not even work in actuality. That’s why I haven’t included any recipes this time around, though I will be sharing Blake’s Lobster Grilled Cheese Menu on my blog for release day.

 EM_author photo 2

Find EM Lynley online:

Email: emlynley @gmail.com

At EM Lynley’s Amazon Page: http://bit.ly/amz-eml9

At Dreamspinner Press Author Arcade: http://bit.ly/dsp-eml2

Free Reads at EM’s website: http://www.emlynley.com/free-reads

At her temporary blog: emlynley.wordpress.com

 

A Story That Needs To Be Told with Shell Taylor – Post + Giveaway

December 23, 2015

The Story That Needed To Be Told (1)

Hi, all! Shell Taylor here! I’m so, so excited to take up some of DSP’s space today and share with you a little bit about my newest release, Resurrecting Hope. It’s the second in the Home for Hope series, which focuses on the individuals who filter in and out of the Center for HOPE, an LGBT center for at-risk youth.

The first book, Redeeming Hope, told Elijah Langley’s story of redemption after losing his first love and subsequently closing himself off from the world. Through a chance meeting, he eventually became involved with HOPE and more importantly (for the purposes of our story at least) HOPE’s sexy owner, Adam Lancaster. These two were supposed to get their happy ending and move aside for other patrons of HOPE to have their story told, but generous, kind, empathetic, and trustworthy Adam had his own story that never seemed to fit anywhere in Redeeming Hope.

Did everyone see that plot bunny hop across the screen? Because that’s pretty much what happened. Adam’s traumatic childhood and transformation into the man he became had to be told. Needed to be told. Screamed at me to be told. And I’m so glad it did.

Writing Resurrecting Hope was quite possibly the most enjoyable writing experience I’ve ever had. I don’t know if it was pure adrenaline from just having signed my first book contract with Dreamspinner or the fact that I knew Adam’s background and struggles from the very first word of Redeeming Hope, but Adam’s story poured out of me with ease.

Although I knew Adam’s childhood, it wasn’t until I was listening to the song Say Something by A Great Big World that the rest of the story came together. The image of Elijah screaming these words at Adam, pleading for him to share his deepest insecurities, was so clear in my mind. The cover LC Chase beautifully designed captures a tender moment of Elijah comforting Adam right after that confession. I can never thank her enough for bringing that moment to life so perfectly for me.

I hope you all enjoy the book. Be sure to pick up Redeeming Hope first if you haven’t read it already!  I’d love to hear from you guys. Anyone who comments and tells me about their favorite childhood memory will be entered for a chance to win a copy of Redeeming Hope!

And I love chatting with people, so feel free to come find me! I mostly hang out on Facebook, but I do flaily things with Marvel, OUAT, mooshy boys, and randomness on Twitter and Tumlr!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shelltaylorpens

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ShellTaylorPens

Tumblr: http://shelltaylorpens.tumblr.com/

Blog: http://shelltaylorpens.wordpress.com/

Pre-order your copy of Resurrecting Hope here! Available December 25th, 2016!

Artistic Inspiration with Antonia Aquilante – Post + Giveaway

December 21, 2015

Artistic Inspiration

Hi, everyone! I’m Antonia Aquilante, and I’m here to talk with you about my novel, The Artist’s Masquerade, which is out today. The Artist’s Masquerade is the second book in the Chronicles of Tournai series, but it can be read on its own if you haven’t read the first book in the series yet. Here’s the description:

As the first-born son of the Duke of Tournai and cousin to the prince, Cathal has always tried to fulfill his duty to family and country, including following through with an arranged marriage to Velia, cousin to the emperor of Ardunn. But it’s Velia’s companion, Flavia, who fascinates Cathal. Cathal doesn’t know that Flavia is really Flavian, a man masquerading as a woman to escape Ardunn, a restrictive place in which Flavian’s preference for men is forbidden.

Even when Cathal discovers Flavian’s true gender, he cannot fight his attraction to him. Flavian is intrigued by Cathal, but Cathal is still betrothed to Velia, and Flavian worries Cathal is more taken with his feminine illusion than the man beneath it. While both men battle their longings for each other, spies from Ardunn infiltrate the capital, attempting to uncover Tournai’s weaknesses. They are also searching for Flavian, who possesses a magical Talent that allows him to see the truth of a person just by painting their portrait—a skill invaluable to Ardunn’s emperor.

In The Artist’s Masquerade, as the title states, Flavian is an artist, and he’s an extremely  talented one who hopes to make his living as an artist once he is able to shed his disguise and is settled in Tournai. Things don’t go quite to plan upon his arrival in Tournai, but his belief in his dream and his confidence in his own talent never waver.

There are many references to art in this book, and in the previous book in the series, The Prince’s Consort. Amory, one of the main characters of that book, enjoys art and drawing, though he’s only a talented amateur. Tournai is famous all over for its glass art. And of course there’s Flavian himself, who spends as much time with his art as he can.

I would love to say I planned all of this out before I started writing the series, but I really didn’t (I’m such a pantser!). I can tell you that my own love of art certainly influenced and inspired the inclusion of the art references in the stories. I’ve always enjoyed art, learning about it, drawing and painting. I took art class each year in high school and drawing class in college, and my art history class in college was one of my favorite classes. I went to college in Washington, DC and spent so much time in the National Gallery of Art during those four years, wandering among the paintings, even sitting and sketching. My family used to joke that I made a weekly visit to the Monets there. The National Gallery is one of the places I miss most now that I don’t live in DC anymore. But I do live near New York City, so the Met isn’t far, and I love visiting art museums when I travel (my family puts up with it… to a point). When I was lucky enough to visit Florence, Italy, a major highlight for me was the Uffizi Gallery. I could have spent all day there (my family would not have liked that), and most of it staring at Botticelli’s Primavera, which is one of my favorite paintings.

So I guess it’s no surprise that my love of art has made its way into my stories.

Giveaway: My favorite types of art are Renaissance and Impressionism. For a chance to win an ebook of The Artist’s Masquerade, tell me your favorite artist or type of art or even your favorite art museum.

 

About Antonia:

Antonia Aquilante has been making up stories for as long as she can remember, and at the age of twelve, decided she would be a writer when she grew up. After many years and a few career detours, she has returned to that original plan. Her stories have changed over the years, but one thing has remained consistent – they all end in happily ever after.

She has a fondness for travel (and a long list of places she wants to visit and revisit), taking photos, family history, fabulous shoes, baking treats which she shares with friends and family, and of course reading. She usually has at least two books started at once and never goes anywhere without her Kindle. Though she is a convert to ebooks, she still loves paper books the best, and there are a couple thousand of them residing in her home with her.

Born and raised in New Jersey, she is living there again after years in Washington, DC, and North Carolina for school and work. She enjoys being back in the Garden State but admits to being tempted every so often to run away from home and live in Italy

She is a member of the Romance Writers of America and the New Jersey Romance Writers.

Find Antonia here:

Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads

A Darker Holiday Tradition with Dianne Hartsock – Post + Giveaway

December 18, 2015

A Darker Holiday Tradition

Hello! I’m Dianne Hartsock, one of the new authors here at Dreamspinner Press. I’m so excited to say my novel, NICOLAS, releases today. Yay! Just in time for Christmas, though I can’t promise this is your traditional Christmas story.

Christmas, two years ago, we were sitting around the tree talking idly while waiting for dinner to be ready, when my cousin’s husband made a comment about Krampus taking all the gifts away before we got a chance to open them. Krampus? What was he talking about?

His family is Dutch, and he told us a very condensed version of the legend of St. Nicolas and the Krampus, the dark goblin that follows Santa around, punishing the naughty children while St. Nicolas leaves the gifts. I needed to know more! I’d never heard of the Krampus before and was intrigued.

So, I do what I always do, and headed to Google for answers. First, I read everything I could on the Krampus. What a creepy little troll! He leaves coal for the naughty children, switching them if they’ve been very bad. And for the very worst, he simply snatches them up and takes them to his home in Italy, never to be heard from again. Yikes!

St. Nicolas, on the other hand, is everything good, spreading the word of peace and goodwill. He was a man born in the third century in a small town in Greece, who used his family’s wealth to help the poor in his community. After his death, it is said he raised three children from the dead after they’d been murdered by a butcher during a famine.

Aha! There was my story. I took this good man, the one behind our modern Santa Claus, and paired him with this terrible creature who wants to do nothing more than destroy all the good Nicolas does in the world. The death and resurrection of those children brought them together, and now Nico can’t be rid of the monster.

What would it be like to be chased through the centuries by a terrible presence, never allowed to form meaningful friendships, your lovers torn away or seduced from your arms? Yes, I said seduced. I write romances, after all! It took me about three seconds to decide that the Krampus could take the form of a beautiful, sensual man when he chooses.

And Nico needed a love interest, someone sweet and lovely who would believe in him no matter how preposterous his story sounded. I gave him Jamie, a sensitive artist with a core of steel under the gentleness.

NICOLAS is a contemporary romance wrapped up in the old legends of St. Nicolas and the Krampus with just a taste of a Grimm’s Fairy Tale thrown in. Just the thing for the holidays!

For a chance to win an e-book copy of NICOLAS, in a comment below, please tell me what your favorite holiday story is, whether it’s a childhood book or one you read now, or even a movie you watch every year.

Merry Christmas!

You can find me here:

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Simultaneous English and German Release of A Kind of Truth by Lane Hayes

December 17, 2015

What made you start writing M/M novels? How long have you been writing, and was it a long process to become a published author?

I’ve been writing to some degree all my life, but I wasn’t serious about it until a few years ago when my eldest son left for college. Before he left, he told my husband and me that he was gay. I was thrilled that he shared this with us.  I had been waiting for him to come out for some time. When he said he wasn’t ready to tell anyone else, I worried about him living away from home at school and not really feeling comfortable in his own skin. Rather than worry about what I couldn’t control, I wrote the story that had been in my head for a while. It became my first book, Better Than Good, which was published in July 2013 by Dreamspinner Press. It’s about a bixsexual man’s journey to accepting himself. And in a way, it’s a love letter to my son asking written in the hopes that he learns to love, accept and be proud of himself.

Complete this sentence: If I weren’t a writer, I would read non-stop!

When you write a book, do you plan it before you start writing or do you let things just develop themselves? Do you work at several books at the same time or do you rather focus on one? 

I have more ideas floating around in my head than I have time to write, but I only work on one book at a time. I usually have a basic plan when I begin writing. I know the general story and where it’s going but I admit, things tend to develop on their own occasionally. J

How do you come up with titles?  

Good question! Sometimes it’s a phrase in the story that strikes me as important. In A Kind Of Truth, you’ll notice the phrase  Kind Of comes up as a means to explain a similarity or to make a comparison. It’s a typical American slang that can be used to downplay emotion or allude to deeper meaning.

Do some protagonists grow dear to your heart more than others? If yes, which are the ones you like best?

Yes! It’s hard to say who my favorites are because yes, to some degree, they’re all my favorites! J I adore Aaron from Better Than Good, Alex from The Right Time, but at this moment, I have to admit I have a huge book crush on Rand O’Malley from A Kind of Truth! He’s sexy, funny and he does what he wants when he wants. The guy has a giant ego but a big heart too!

What character from one of your books would you like to have come alive and be real? Why?

Rand! I’d love to see him in action, onstage singing in a crowded club. People like him fascinate me. I love the idea of the big-mouthed, charismatic person who genuinely wants to make a positive impact. They’re too rare.

Which character do you think most closely resembles your own personality?

I’m more like Will than Rand for sure! I’m not a recluse by any means but I’m quiet. I love music, art and theater, but I don’t necessary want to be onstage. I’m content to observe… and write. J

In January Dreamspinner Press will publish your new novel A Kind of Truth and the German translation Die Wahrheit, die ich meine… on the same day. It’s the first novel which will be released simultaneous with a German translation. What aspect of A Kind of Truth came to you first – the setting, characters, something else?

The setting came first. I love New York City. I visit at least twice a year. I love the energy. It’s one of those places where you really do feel like anything is possible. The city can lift you to unprecedented heights or crush you overnight. It’s a place of dreams. The characters came next. When I was writing Better Than Safe, I introduced Rand as Seth’s best friend. The minute I wrote his name I had a feeling he was the one going to the Big Apple! Lol.

I’m so thrilled A Kind of Truth will be released in German on the same day as it will in the US and UK. It is truly an honor!

What inspired you to write A Kind of Truth? Who is your favorite character to write in this novel?

My frequent trips to NYC inspired me to a degree, but my three children inspired me too. They’re all in their late teens and early twenties and they need to know how important their voice is in the world. Maybe now more than ever. It’s important to dream big and go for it. And to know in your heart you can be anything you want if you work hard enough.

You’ve probably already guessed my favorite character to write. Lol! Rand is dynamic and refreshing. It was fun writing a character who oozes sex and self-confidence!

What part of this novel was the most fun to write and why? What made you struggle the most?

One of my favorite scenes is the trip to the movie theater.  I loved making Rand a little uncomfortable and ultra-aware of Will.  I didn’t struggle with any scene in particular but one of the ending scenes was difficult because it was very emotional. Those scenes are vital and tend to give a glimpse at the MCs when they’re at their most vulnerable, so they need extra care.

If there was one thing you’d like your readers to take away with them from this book, what do you hope it is?

Dream big!  And dream for yourself, not someone else. You can be anything you want if you work for it.

If you had to pick a theme song, what would it be?

That’s a tough one. I’ll say Sympathy for the Devil by the Rolling Stones. When you read the story, you’ll know why. J

Last but not least: What book will be published next, and what are you working on right now?

I’m hoping my next book published will be #2 in this series. I’ve just submitted it to Dreamspinner and I’m now hard at work on #3!

Thank you so much for having me here today! I hope you enjoy A Kind of Truth!

________________

Lane Hayes is a designer by trade who is extremely grateful to be spending more of her time these days doing what she truly loves…writing. She loves chocolate, wine, travel, but most of all, she loves books. Lane’s debut novel, Better Than Good, was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist. She lives in So.California near the beach with her amazing husband, three teenagers & a gorgeous old Lab named Rex.

New Release! And a Plea: No Spoilers for THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR

December 12, 2015

CoupleNextDoor[The]FS

I’m thrilled to introduce my newest book to you. THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR is a novel of breathtaking romantic suspense. It officially debuted on Monday, 7 December!

Inked Rainbow Reviews already gave it a rave review, saying, in part, “False identities, plot twists, close calls. They all add up to a book I couldn’t put down once I started. ” Read the whole review here.

Hope you’ll check out the blurb and the excerpt below and then grab your copy. I appreciate any word of mouth, but with this one especially, NO SPOILERS please! If you read THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR, I will thank you very much for taking a chance on my latest book and I will ask–in the name of all that’s holy–please don’t reveal the #1 twist (near the middle of the book) and the #2 twist (near the end).

Things aren't always what they seem....

BLURB
With the couple next door, nothing is as it seems.

Jeremy Booth leadsa simple life, scraping by in the gay neighborhood of Seattle, never letting his lack of material things get him down. But the one thing he really wants—someone to love—seems elusive. Until the couple next door moves in and Jeremy sees the man of his dreams, Shane McCallister, pushed down the stairs by a brute named Cole.
Jeremy would never go after another man’s boyfriend, so he reaches out to Shane in friendship while suppressing his feelings of attraction. But the feeling of something being off only begins with Cole being a hard-fisted bully—it ends with him seeming to be different people at different times. Some days, Cole is the mild-mannered John and then, one night in a bar, he’s the sassy and vivacious drag queen Vera.

So how can Jeremy rescue the man of his dreams from a situation that seems to get crazier and more dangerous by the day? By getting close to the couple next door, Jeremy not only puts a potential love in jeopardy, but eventually his very life.

BUY
Dreamspinner Press ebook
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EXCERPT

I open the front door, and that’s when everything changes. My life turns upside down. I go from bored discontent to panic in a split second.
The first thing I hear is someone shouting “No!” in an anguished voice. I look up from the lobby to see two figures on the staircase above, on the second-floor landing. One is a guy who looks menacing and so butch he could pose for a Tom of Finland poster. An aura of danger radiates from him. Aside from his imposing and muscular frame, he’s even wearing the right clothes—tight, rolled jeans and a black leather biker jacket with a chain snaking out from beneath one of the epaulets. His high and tight buzzed hair gives him a military—and mean—air. He has his hands on the shoulders of a guy who looks a bit younger and much slighter, making me want to call up the stairs, “Why don’t you pick on someone your own size?” The smaller guy, blond and clad only in a pair of pajama bottoms, struggles with his attacker, looking terrified. Their movements, clumsy and rough, would be comical if they weren’t so scary. The smaller guy is panting and batting ineffectually at the bigger one.
“Please! No! Don’t!” the smaller guy manages to get out, his voice close to hysteria.
I have never seen either of these men before. In fact, the whole scene has the quality of the surreal, a dream. The danger and conflict pulsing down the stairs makes my own heart rate and respiration accelerate, causing feelings of panic to rise within me.
And then the worst happens. The big butch guy shoves the smaller one hard, and all at once he’s tumbling heavily down the stairs toward me.
The fall is graceless, and it looks like it hurts. It’s over so fast that I’m left gasping.
I look up to see the leather-jacket guy sneer down at his mate, lying crumpled and crying at my feet, and then turn sharply on his heel to go back into a second-floor apartment that had been vacant yesterday. He slams the door. The sound of the deadbolt sliding into place is like the report of a shotgun. Both slam and lock resound like thunderclaps, echoing in the tile lobby, punctuation to the drama and trauma of this short scene.
I switch into Good Samaritan mode and drop to my knees at the sniveling, crumpled mess of a man lying practically at my feet.

BUY
Dreamspinner Press ebook
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Amazon Kindle
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NOH8Rick

Rick R. Reed is all about exploring the romantic entanglements of gay men in contemporary, realistic settings. While his stories often contain elements of suspense, mystery and the paranormal, his focus ultimately returns to the power of love. He is the author of dozens of published novels, novellas, and short stories. He is a three-time EPIC eBook Award winner (for CaregiverOrientationand The Blue Moon Cafe). Raining Men and Caregiver have both won the Rainbow Award for gay fiction.  Lambda Literary Review has called him, “a writer that doesn’t disappoint.” Rick lives in Seattle with his husband and a very spoiled Boston terrier. He is forever “at work on another novel.”

Web: http://www.rickrreed.com
Blog: http://rickrreedreality.blogspot.com/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/rickrreedbooks
Twitter: www.twitter.com/rickrreed.
E-mail: jimmyfels@gmail.com

Pieces of Identity with Santino Hassell – Post + Excerpt

December 11, 2015

Pieces of Identity

If you’re a New Yorker, there are certain things you pick up over time.

  1. The accent. It’s like going to the bodega or the cawnah staw to get a cuppa cawfee and then releasing questions or comments at a speed that’s somewhere between an audio cassette on fast forward and a machine gun. “Wassup? Howya been? Whaddya doin? Didja heah?” Or, of course, just giving the quintessential New York head bop (that is my favorite.)

  2. How to make a proper deli sandwich. It’s important, okay? Deli food is a big part of NY culture (bodegas, bagel shops, salumerias, kosher delis… trust me, it’s a thing). And it’s not just about meat quality, although that’s numero uno. It’s about the thinness of the meat (nearly translucent), the way the meat is layered, and the bread.

  3. You know that everyone, everywhere, will ask you at least once “Where are you from?” And this question isn’t referring to just your address or the borough you just rode in from on the subway. They’re asking where your family is from. What’s your “old country”? Where do your roots lie?

The last question is kind of a big deal, and it plays into SUNSET PARK. I have written stories set in New York before, but writing from the point of view of someone living in New York City but who wasn’t born here is an interesting experience. For me, NYC is not just a setting or a backdrop. It plays into who my characters are as people and the little idiosyncrasies that make New Yorkers a distinct group.

One of the main differences I’ve discovered between NYC culture and culture in the South, is that many New Yorkers celebrate their ethnic identities and nationalities rather than only identifying as American. They tend to play a lot of value on family history—where they, their parents, or their great-great-grandmother came from. Whether their family fled Europe in the years leading up to WWII, flew over from Puerto Rico in the 1950s, or came on a boat during the Irish potato famine in the 19th century, many people are knowledgeable about their family history.

Then there’s the matter of the borough you live in, which one you grew up in, whether you’re blue collar, white collar, or a city worker—all important aspects of the people who live in the city, and they all play into how people interact with their environment and how they perceive others.

So, how would a transplant view these customs? How will David deal with falling for a man who may not consider his queerness to be the most prominent part of his identity, when he feels it has shaped who he is from the very beginning?  Tell me what you think in the comments, and please enjoy the below excerpt from SUNSET PARK.

SP graphic 2

**

“You’re not eating the bread?”

“Um, no. I’m already gaining eighty-seven pounds by eating all of this caloric stuff. I at least want to avoid the carbs.”

“God, you’re pathetic.”

Raymond shook his head and snagged a piece of my bread. It was still drenched in sauce and had remnants of pepper and onion on it. We kept walking, and before long, he paused at one of the many cannoli stands. Before I could protest, he bought two and thrust one into my hand.

“You’re determined to make me fat.”

“Shut up and eat.” I didn’t protest too vehemently. It was delicious.

“So what were you thinking about before? You were staring into space.”

“Nothing pressing,” I said. “I was just thinking about New York and how different it is from where I’m from. It’s so diverse, and people celebrate every part of who they are. It’s not just this… blend.”

“What do you mean ‘people celebrate every part of who they are’?”

I regarded the question, the fragments of my own thoughts, and the people around us. “Just… well, take you, Michael, and Nunzio for example.” I raised my voice as music exploded from a nearby booth. “You have all of these different identities. Being gay or bi is just a fraction of who you are. You’re primarily New Yorkers, but also Puerto Rican or Italian, lapsed Catholics, and then there’s the other parts— sons and brothers, teachers, gamers, etcetera.”

“Uh-huh. Is that a bad thing?”

“No, it’s not a bad thing.”

Raymond stopped walking, and I realized we had reached the end of the festival’s line. The evening was growing darker, and I was momentarily distracted by the stretch of the street going back toward the west side. Colors, lights, smells, and sounds, and a constant motion of people meandering along the festival route.

I looked up at Raymond and the play of light across his face, becoming aware of how close we were standing and the furtive glances we were receiving from the woman at the nearest game booth. I had tried to make this outing seem less like a double date by inviting our friends, but everyone had backed out of traveling way downtown on a Sunday. And the more he purchased my food and drinks, the harder it was to shake the feeling that it was a date.

But I knew it was just me assigning meanings that weren’t there. Again.

“What were you thinking about it, then?” Raymond pressed.

“I told you it’s nothing bad. I was just wondering if that’s why being out is so monumental to me but not to Michael. Being a gay man has always been my primary identity, but for him it’s just one of many facets. I was trying to figure out if that’s why his lack of absolute outness as a gay man doesn’t make him feel like he’s pretending to be someone he isn’t.”

“Is that how you would feel?”

“I think so, yeah.”

Raymond looked at again, his eyes drawing to a young couple with three small children crowding by their legs. “I think… you think too much.”

“Oh, that’s so helpful. Thank you for the insight.”

Raymond grinned and leaned against a lamppost. “You do. You always want to figure things out and ask yourself what they mean instead of letting things be the way they are.”

“Inquiry is good,” I said like a good little Common Core educator. “It’s how we explore the world around us.”

“I’m not saying it’s wrong to be curious and ask questions, but you do it because you want to make everyone fit into certain boxes, and that’s unnecessary. You don’t have to understand why Michael is the way he is. He’s never going to sit down and help you figure it out, and in the long run, how he chooses to live his life doesn’t affect yours. So who gives a damn?”

“I can’t help it, I guess. I just want to know why people make the choices they do. Maybe if I understood, I wouldn’t be so frustrated when people don’t agree with my point of view.”

“You get frustrated by that because you’re a control freak and you like being right.”

“Tell me how you really feel.” Raymond finished his pastry and slid his hands into the pockets of his hoodie. “Just being honest, man.”

A breeze caused the overwhelming smell of food to waft in our direction. The chill made me want to move closer. Press into his side or his chest, and pretend that was okay. Like platonic friends kept each other warm on fall nights in New York City.

Get your copy of Sunset Park today!

SunsetParkFS

 

Author Bio:

Santino is a writer of queer romance heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, his belief that human relationships are complex and flawed, and his own life experiences.

Find Santino:

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Tropes in Cascades with Charley Descoteaux – Post, Excerpt, + Giveaway

December 9, 2015

Tropes in Cascades

Hello! I’m Charley Descoteaux, here to celebrate the release of my holiday story Cascades!

Cascades is a standalone holiday novella…sort of. It stands alone, but doesn’t include a decorated tree or anyone in a red suit, or even a massive holiday meal (there is a string of fairy lights, however). The story opens the day before Christmas and ends on New Year’s Day, but that’s about it. If you’ve read my short story “Toy Run” you probably know how much “holiday” to expect from this story.

During the editorial process, while I worked with my lovely editors to polish the sharp edges from this rough little story, I played with the idea of including one of those snappy warnings in the blurb. You know the kind, they usually start out with a real warning and end up talking about sex in trees or a hairstyle you can see from space. I love those, they can be fun and still give enough of a hint that the story might include a trope I’m not interested in reading that day.

The warning for Cascades might’ve gone something like this: Warning: this story includes a man who leaves the country to escape the holidays, a random hookup with a stranger, a love interest living on the streets, references to girls deflowering boys, and Canadian potatoes.

Maybe I should’ve subtitled this story Unpopular Tropes. (Except for the potatoes, those are always popular.)

I’m laughing, but it’s true. Male-Male Romances usually don’t allow the love interest to be homeless—unless he’s a rent boy, engaging in survival sex until the main character rescues him from the streets. Doug isn’t a sex worker (and not because he’s pushing 50) but he does things most of us wouldn’t want to seriously consider doing to survive.

Probably less popular, though, is JB’s dalliance before the two heroes get together. I can understand this, sort of, but if we want stories to reflect the experiences of real people we have to accept that it happens. Sometimes real people jump immediately into monogamous relationships and sometimes they don’t. Especially if the hero has been alone for a long time. And that goes double if the hero has no idea the love of his life is waiting for him a few pages later.

Cascades is one of those stories I wasn’t sure if I should submit once it was finished—it’s about two older dudes and neither are easy to know and love. I enjoy stories with atypical heroes, though, so I held my breath and hit Send. Cascades isn’t your typical holiday tale, but the folks at Dreamspinner took a chance on it and I hope you will too.

 

What are your favorite “unpopular” Romance tropes?  Do you love a story about sex workers who don’t give up their careers for love? How about a December/December Romance or an overweight hero who doesn’t lose weight by the end of the story?

Tell me in the comments for a chance to win a backlist book of your choice.

I’ll be in and out for the next couple of days and will choose a winner on Friday, 12/11.

Join me on the Dreamspinner Press Facebook page on 12/12 for more chances to win!

CascadesFS

You can read all of Chapter One on the Dreamspinner store. Just about all the unpopular tropes are included there!

This excerpt is from Chapter Two: JB and Doug are having breakfast on Christmas morning at a dive that shares space with the hostel where JB is staying. It might explain the potato reference above.

***

A guy who looked lonelier than I felt brought our breakfast. Two steaming plates full of eggs, bacon, toast, and potatoes. His Merry Christmas sounded more like fuck you.

Yeah, me too, buddy.

Doug and I ate without talking. He seemed to relax as his plate emptied. For the most part. The tension in his face didn’t ease, but he leaned back in his chair and his breathing slowed to normal.

After a while the silence got to me. “Damn, these potatoes are good.”

Doug snorted.

“What?”

“Nothing.”

“Too lowbrow for you?” I tried for a joking tone, but didn’t quite make it.

He frowned. A moment later he looked up at me. The lines on his face cut deeper than Uncle Pete’s. “It’s just seasoned salt. You can get it at any grocery store.”

“I’ll have to remember that.” The smile I tried out didn’t go over as well as I’d hoped. He frowned deeper and turned his whole body away from me.

Neither of us spoke again until the lonely guy had bussed the table and we’d both finished a third cup of coffee.

“Come on back up to the room with me.” I stood, paused a moment to give him a chance to answer, and then headed back the way we’d come. By the time I rounded the corner, his footsteps were right behind me.

He followed me up the stairs and pushed past me into the room. I locked the door, and when I turned around, he was stretching out on the bed. Nude.

 

Blurb:

Justice “JB” Bishop tells himself he’s satisfied with life in the small town of Upright, Oregon. He was born and raised there, and has settled into a comfortable, if lonely, routine working at his uncle’s bar. JB doesn’t expect anything to change after he turns fifty, until an old friend drops in. She suggests he get out of town for the holidays, and soon JB finds himself on an Amtrak to Canada. JB expected to feel different in Canada, to see things he couldn’t see at home. He never expected to find the one who got away.

Buy Cascades: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=7112

 

About the Author:

Charley Descoteaux has always heard voices. She was relieved to learn they were fictional characters, and started writing when they insisted daydreaming just wasn’t good enough. In exchange, they’ve agreed to let her sleep once in a while. Charley grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area during a drought, and found her true home in the soggy Pacific Northwest. She has survived earthquakes, tornadoes, and floods, but couldn’t make it through one day without stories.

 

Rattle my cages—I’d love to hear from you!

Blog:  http://cdescoteauxwrites.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/charley.descoteaux.3

Dreamspinner Author Page: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/index.php?cPath=879

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/CharleyDescote

Goodreads: http://tinyurl.com/aqe7g7r

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/charleydescote/

Not Quite Skynet with Clancy Nacht

November 18, 2015

Not Quite Skynet

I’m Clancy Nacht, and I’m here to talk about my new book, the sci fi thriller romance, Strange Times.

This isn’t my first time at the m/m rodeo. I’ve written several novels and novellas in the past, including the Black Gold series and The WASPs, which was originally released at Dreamspinner Press way back in my early days of writing. Funnily to me, the books I often read are horror and thrillers, but what was in my heart and soul to write was always romance. I think when it came to romance, I had things to say, but it hasn’t been until recently that I’ve really started to merge those interests.

Like many kids, I was taken to see the Star Wars series as a child and I loved it. I wanted to be Han Solo (though in the neighborhood I was always cast as Leia–she’s not bad either but hrmf) but I wanted a light saber. I spent hours with other kids playing war with sticks, imagining epic battles between good and evil. As I got older, I read Asimov and Bradbury, planting the seeds for a love of a genre I wouldn’t write in until much, much later.

This is my first longer work of sci fi. I’ve written the odd short story where you can create a very quick sketch of a vision of the future, but this story required me to think a lot harder and more deeply about what this vision of the future was.

I was working for an electric company and spent a good deal of time considering the power grid. As we add more electric conveniences, we are, as with everything in America, adding to an already overburdened infrastructure which may or may not be able to handle it. Pertinent to this particular novel was the concept of the Smart Grid, which is a blanket term for an electrical grid that can communicate with appliances in your home.

Say your air conditioning/heating unit is able to talk to the grid, which is then able to talk to an application on your smartphone. Say you’re on vacation and realize that you left your thermostat set to 72 and it’s 100 degrees outside. You don’t need to pay for all of that extra cooling, so you set it to 85 from wherever you’re vacationing. Thermostats are the front line for this concept, but the idea is to get all appliances on that grid so you can turn lights on or off, check on your fridge, basically control all your electronics remotely.

It’s hardly Skynet, but amusingly, some people are very, very alarmed by this and would write in on social media that the “chatter” between the thermostat and the grid gave them headaches. Others became very concerned that their appliances might be spying on them. Both suggest very interesting ideas and stories, but this idea of appliance spying and our reliance on smartphones is really what inspired the world of thought control in Strange Times.

That world has been hit by war and disaster but picks up the bones of civilization as we know it–now put under the control of a violent right wing extremist who is deadly serious about eradicating homosexuality. There’s also a symbiotic species of alien whose arrival on earth saves us from ecological disaster….but the aliens have their own agenda and are rumored to feast on humans. Those named criminals are sacrificed to the aliens.

Just to be who they are in this oppressive world, our heroes have to become rebels. Homosexuals are given the option to be reprogrammed and join the military or die. One of the main characters, Turk, is an ex-soldier who turns militant rebel. Alex is a young man about to enter college who’d successfully hidden his homosexuality until being caught in a honeytrap set up by the oppressive government. It’s Turk’s job to save him.

On top of being sexy and exciting, I hope this story also gets people thinking. To that end, one of the ideas posed does have to do with our devices. When you think about it, with GPS on in our phones, our banking information, our email, our texts, our contacts…our devices can paint a frighteningly accurate picture of us. Never before have we had such an invasive set of information collected in a one-stop shop sort of place. Yet, it’s just so convenient to have and use.

***

Do you ever think about the data that is being compiled? Do you worry about that? Do you think only people doing things that are bad should be worried? Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

For these and other slightly frightening thoughts, you can find me in spooky omnipresence:

Blog: http://www.clancynacht.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/clancy.nacht
Twitter: https://twitter.com/clancynacht