Memory and Imagination with George Seaton

September 12, 2016

Memory and Imagination

Greetings! I’m George Seaton, and I’m happy to be here because Dreamspinner Press has been so kind as to publish and release my novella, “Shane Thorpe Knew Jesus and Rode Bulls.” A long title, but an apt one given the storyline. This novella was submitted for the States of Love submission call which asked for stories specific to an American state. I chose Texas. (As an aside, I believe it was two fellow Colorado authors, Caitlin Ricci, and A. M. Burns, who suggested this themed project to Dreamspinner.)


Here’s the blurb:

Eighteen-year-old Joe Vasquez leaves Denver for Texas with Harley Bray, the cow kid who never fit in at their high school. In spite of discovering there’s another side to Harley’s natures—occasional “withdrawals” from roadside convenience stores, a nefarious skill he teaches Joe—Joe shares Harley’s dream of riding bulls and a life together on the Texas plains outside of Abilene. A life that will hopefully see the fulfillment of another of Joe’s dreams—to become a veterinarian.

When a rank bull kills Harley in a rodeo in Longview, Texas, Joe accepts an offer from another bull rider, Shane Thorpe, to partner up and ride the circuit together. The problem is that the blond-haired, blue-eyed Shane found Jesus a long time ago, and he’s torn between his faith and his attraction to Joe. As they make their way across Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Arizona to their final top on the circuit at the National Western Rodeo in Denver, Joe bides his time for what he hopes will be a relationship with Shane as fulfilling as the one he’d had with Harley. His hope for the future, however, are challenged along the way when he discovers that his “withdrawals” have captured the attention of a very dedicated Texas Ranger.


That’s the gist of the story without the twists and turns it takes. And certainly without the development of the characters, which is something I think storytelling cannot do without. I fell in love with character development when I first read Charles Dickens—a master of that essential component to all stories worthy of reading.

I had already finished nearly half a story about two young men infatuated with bull riding who happened to live in Texas when Dreamspinner issued the States of Love submission call. Little of the first half changed as I completed the manuscript for submission. Suffice it to say, I was thrilled when Dreamspinner accepted it for publication.

When I tell my husband, David, about story plots I’m working on, he always says, “How do you come up with that stuff?”

My usual response is simply raising my arms, my palms outstretched, and saying, “I don’t know. It’s just there.”

Actually, I do know where it comes from. I think an author has two primary tools—memory and imagination.

We all know what imagination is. As I wrote in a short story not long ago here’s what imagination gives us: “I have a friend who writes in the erotic romance genre. Several years ago he found a publisher for his stuff who just adored his boy-meets-boy, boy-fucks-boy, boys-live-happily-ever-after storylines that defy real life scenarios to the point that he is now interjecting shifters, zombies, vampires, dreary dystopian sagas, and Apocalyptic backdrops into his writing. Suffice it to say, his publisher didn’t bat an eye when he lately presented her with one-hundred thousand words about a beaver humping a muskrat, the critter timing his thrusts to the thump, thump, thump of a steam engine that somehow, in some way powers the production of greenery upon a landscape leveled by the unfortunate effects of several hundred-thousand kilotons of atomic energy released three hundred years prior. I believe it’s called speculative fiction.”

Then there’s memory. For me, memory is the font I dip into for characterization. All of our experiences, whether sight, sound, touch, or smell are cataloged somewhere in our brains (though I read years ago that lab experiments theorized that memory is not in any one place in the brain, but may well reside within the entirety of the organism). Our first love, the loss of a family member, a dog or cat, joy, the smell of onions and green peppers in the frying pan, the sound of a child’s laughter, the sensate reaction to danger, how we perceive the Grand Canyon the first time we see it, the sight of a dead body, the spread of the stars and planets above in a place with no ambient light, the lilt of an Oklahoman’s or Texan’s voice; all of this and so much more is who we are and, for an author, provide the components of characterization. From my memory, I give my characters the traits, idiosyncrasies, movements, expressions, voices, odors and aromas, and certainly, appearances that I’ve cataloged in those overstuffed file cabinets, I keep in my brain for just such a purpose. And, thankfully, I’m able to convey through words what I see in my memory.

As readers, and probably some authors, too, I’m curious what you find interesting or even fascinating about an author’s ability to make a character come alive? How thoroughly do you want to know what makes a character tick?

Once again, I’m grateful that Dreamspinner Press chose to publish this little story.

Twitter: @GeorgeSeaton

Check out Shane Thorpe Knew Jesus and Rode Bulls today!

Shane Thorpe Knew Jesus and Rode Bulls

Shira Anthony’s Take Two: Different as Night and Day – Post + Giveaway

September 9, 2016

Take Two Different As Night and Day

Hi everyone! I’m Shira Anthony, former opera singer, sci fi fantasy geek, anime otaku, and gay romance writer, here to introduce my latest Dreamspinner Press release, Take Two!

Take Two is a lighthearted, funny story about second chances at love. For those who have read my Blue Notes series, contemporary and very angsty stories about classical musicians, this story will be a bit of a departure. It’s low on angst, and more about pure romance, and friendship between lovers that runs deep. Two men who are very different—the geeky professor and over the top Hollywood superstar—but who were and are still attracted to each other in spite of a long separation.

I set Take Two in one of my favorite places, Bald Head Island, at North Carolina’s coast and not far from Wilmington, North Carolina. It’s a lovely island that’s as much a study in contrasts as the two main characters in my story. On the one hand, much of the island is still the way nature created it, with sand dunes, long, white sand beaches, and an inland waterway you can kayak on. On the other, the island has some of the nicest and most expensive beach houses (think more like beach mansions!) I’ve ever seen. People drive around the island on golf carts, since cars are forbidden. The grocery store in the center of the island sells foie gras, the best cuts of steak you can buy, imported wine and beer, and the sorts of foods you’ll only find in upscale stores on the mainland like Whole Foods.





But Bald Head works in spite of its strange mix, just like Wesley and Sam in my story. Yin and yang. It’s a wonderful refuge from reality, accessible only by boat. A little fantasy island. Romantic and relaxing. And a perfect place to film a movie! Because that’s what brings Wesley and Sam back together again, and it’s what literally sets the scene for their second chance at love.

To celebrate the release of Take Two, I’m offering up a copy of another lighthearted romance, First Comes Marriage, from Dreamspinner Press’s Dreamspun Desires line. For folks in the U.S., I’ll give you the choice of a paperback or ebook copy. For folks outside the U.S., you’ll receive an ebook copy.

How do you enter? Answer this question: What’s the most romantic place you wish you could travel to? I’ll choose one winner from all the comments after midnight on Sunday, September 11th. Good luck! -Shira

Check out Take Two today!

Take Two


Shiver me timbers! When Professor Wesley Coolidge accepts a summer job as a historical consultant to a pirate movie being filmed in North Carolina, the last person he expects to bump into is his soon-to-be ex, movie star Sander Carson. Just like the flamboyant pirate he’s playing, Sander, aka Sam Carr, is used to getting what he wants, and he makes it clear he wants Wesley back in his life.

Sam acknowledges it’s his fault they split up. He lost Wesley when he left their life in New York City behind for a career in Hollywood. But Wesley has finally managed to put the pieces of his heart back together, and he isn’t interested in Sam and Wesley: The Sequel. Sam soon realizes that convincing Wesley to give their relationship a second chance will take much more than apologies and reminders of good times past. If he wants Wesley back, Sam will have to show Wesley that they really can sail into the sunset together—a real-life happily-ever-after that won’t end once the final credits roll.

About Shira:

Shira Anthony was a professional opera singer in her last incarnation, performing roles in such operas as Tosca, Pagliacci, and La Traviata, among others. She’s given up TV for evenings spent with her laptop, and she never goes anywhere without a pile of unread M/M romance on her Kindle.

Shira can be found on:
Twitter: @WriterShira

You’re Gonna Be the One that Saves Me: The Empty Net Playlist – Post + Giveaway

September 8, 2016

You're gonna be the one that saves me


Hello! My name is Avon Gale, and my newest release, Empty Net, came out on September 2nd. The book is a hockey romance, and features two goalies for the Spartanburg Spitfires of the ECHL. The characters, Isaac Drake and Laurent St. Savoy, first appeared in the third book of the series, Power Play. In that book, Laurent St. Savoy was the starting goalie for the Spitfires’ rival team, the Asheville Ravens.

In Empty Net, Laurent finds himself traded to the Spitfires and having to compete with Isaac for the starting spot on the team. The two had an altercation in the playoffs the previous season that was decidedly less-than-friendly, so as you can imagine, neither of them are very happy about this turn of events. Laurent has a bad attitude and Isaac can’t for the life of him figure out why, but he does his best to ignore it and focus on hockey. Of course, that doesn’t happen and at some point, Isaac figures out what’s really behind Laurent’s behavior…and everything changes.

Today, I thought I’d share a few songs on my Isaac and Laurent playlist, which you can find here on Youtube in its entirety. I love making playlists, and there are a lot of songs on there. But for brevity’s sake, here are a few that remind me specifically of the two of them.

Headstrong by Trapt

This song is totally Isaac. “I see your motives inside/Decisions to hide/Back off I’ll take you on/Headstrong to take on anyone.”

It’s also the kind of “arena rock” you’ll hear if you go to hockey games.

(Isaac wants me to point out that his favorite band is the Arctic Monkeys, but it doesn’t change the fact this song reminds me of him. Sorry, Isaac.)

Crucify by Tori Amos

And this song is totally Laurent. “Nothing I do is good enough for you/Crucify myself/Every day/And my heart is sick of being in chains.”

One Thing by Finger 11

There’s a very pivotal scene in the book where Isaac finds out exactly why Laurent is such an asshole all the time, and this song reminds me of that moment. “I promise I might/Not walk on by/Maybe next time/But not this time.”

Make Damn Sure by Taking Back Sunday

This song is definitely Isaac/Laurent to me. “A long night spent with your most obvious weakness/You start shaking at the thought you are everything I want/’Cause you are everything I’m not.”

True story – I heard this song because my friend sang it while we were playing Rock Band, stopped, immediately went and sent myself a text message with the name because I was shrieking at how well it fit the two of them.

It’s Been A While by Staind

If there was one song that Laurent would say makes him think about his relationship with Isaac, it’s probably this one. “And it’s been awhile/Since I’ve gone and fucked things up just like I always do/And it’s been awhile/But all that shit seems to disappear when I’m with you.”

Wonderwall (by Oasis), sung by Ryan Adams

Ryan Adams is probably one of my favorite musicians, and I love his version of this song. It’s sad and wistful, with just a little bit of hope in it. The aching quality of this song really fits Isaac and Laurent’s relationship. “Because maybe/You’re gonna be the one that saves me/And after all
You’re my wonderwall.”

Call Me by Shinedown

“I’ll always keep you inside/You healed my heart and my life.”

Good Morning, Magpie by Murder by Death

“Just follow some other storm/Cause I’ll only weigh you down/You carry me home/My love.”

This is my favorite song by my favorite band, and I have a tattoo of the lyrics “follow some other storm” because it’s always resonated strongly with me. I thought the song fit well for Laurent, who seems cold on the outside but is definitely a storm of emotions on the inside.


And there you have it! Those are some of my favorite songs from my Isaac/Saint playlist, and like I said, there are a lot more on there if you’d like to check out the YouTube link.

Do you have a strong association between music and fictional characters/relationships? If so, let me know your favorite in the comments! I’ll choose one random commenter to win a title from my backlist. Thanks so much for reading!

Check out Empty Net today!

Empty Net


Spartanburg Spitfires’ goalie and captain, Isaac Drake, ended last season with an unexpected trip to the playoffs. He’s found a home and a family with his coach and mentor, Misha Samarin, and he’s looking forward to making a serious run for the Kelly Cup. But things take an interesting turn when Isaac’s archnemesis, Laurent St. Savoy, is traded to the Spitfires. After Laurent’s despicable behavior in the playoffs last year, Isaac wants nothing to do with him—no matter how gorgeous he is. But that changes when Isaac discovers the reason for Laurent’s attitude.

Laurent St. Savoy grew up the only son of a legendary NHL goalie in a household rife with abuse. He was constantly treated like a disappointment, on and off the ice. When a desperate attempt to escape his father’s tyranny sends him to the Spitfires, the last thing Laurent wants is to make friends. But there’s something about Isaac Drake that he can’t resist. Laurent has an opportunity to explore his sexuality for the first time, but he’s cracking under end-of-the-season pressures. When facing the playoffs and a rivalry turned personal vendetta, Isaac’s not sure he’s enough to hold on to Laurent—or their relationship.

About Avon Gale:

Avon Gale wrote her first story at the age of seven, about a “Space Hat” hanging on a rack and waiting for that special person to come along and purchase it — even if it was a bit weirder than the other, more normal hats. Like all of Avon’s characters, the space hat did get its happily ever after — though she’s pretty sure it was with a unicorn. She likes to think her vocabulary has improved since then, but the theme of quirky people waiting for their perfect match is still one of her favorites. Avon grew up in the southern United States, and now lives with her very patient husband in a liberal midwestern college town. When she’s not writing, she’s either doing some kind of craft project that makes a huge mess, reading, watching horror movies, listening to music or yelling at her favorite hockey team to get it together, already. Avon is always up for a road trip, adores Kentucky bourbon, thinks nothing is as stress relieving as a good rock concert and will never say no to candy. At one point, Avon was the mayor of both Jazzercise and Lollicup on Foursquare. This tells you basically all you need to know about her as a person.

Twitter: @avongalewrites

Bear Among the Books: Telling Stories with T.J. Masters

September 7, 2016

Telling Stories


In the Story of Bear Among the Books, librarian Ben uses a story telling technique to teach Jason to read.

Of course storytelling existed long before the printed word. We tend to think of the oral tradition of storytelling as the oldest form but many experts now think that cave paintings or ‘rock art’ may have been an even earlier tradition of remembering and telling stories. This tradition transcends all cultures and peoples both ancient and modern and appears in a variety of forms. Without the written word, storytelling was the primary means of preserving history and culture, teaching a moral code and instilling its values, educating people of all ages and of course as entertainment.

In this story, Ben believes very much in the engagement of the reader with the story in order to fire the imagination. It may appear strange that Ben chooses text free graphic novels to start the process of teaching Jason to read. Although there are no words on the page but the images feed Jason with enough clues to complete the story in his mind. Starting with Raymond Briggs’ Snowman and later with Shaun Tan, Jason proves to be adept at interpreting the images and therefore at ‘reading’ the books.

Check out Bear Among the Books today!

Bear Among the Books


Forty-eight-year-old Ben Thompson is a librarian, a passionate book lover, and a man who embodies the definition of a bear. He’s also lonely after the loss of his long-term partner. Young ex-gymnast Jason Barnes piques his interest, but Ben quickly realizes there’s more to Jason than his good looks. While Jason visits the library almost every day, he never checks out a book.

With gentle persistence, Ben befriends Jason and learns the nineteen-year-old’s tragic secrets. After years of abuse at his father’s hands, Jason was kicked out of his family home for being gay. And despite his apparent love of books, Jason never learned to read. Ben offers to teach him, and the two men bond over their lessons. Ben can’t deny his attraction to Jason, but he wonders if Jason is too young and too handsome to return his interest. With the help of the close-knit library team and Jason’s growing self-confidence, they move beyond the books and into the bedroom, where their own story is just beginning.



When I returned Jason had pulled his sexy legs up to sit cross-legged on the window seat. Somehow this made him look even younger, but his reaction to the book had the opposite effect. I handed him a hardback copy of The Snowman by Raymond Briggs. “Do you know this one?”

“Yeah, but it’s a kid’s book.” There was an angry edge to his reply. “Will I have to learn with kids’ stuff?”

“No, not at all. This is just an introductory test for both of us. Just humor me and read it.” Jason reluctantly opened the book and then started turning the pages. He looked up.

“But there’s no words. How can I read it? Are you making fun of me?” He slammed the book shut, but I reached out a calming hand.

“You said you want to read stories. Long, long before books, people were telling stories, and that’s what I want you to do. When I ask children to read that, they don’t question it, they just sit down and follow the story as they look at the illustrations. Just look at the pictures and tell me the story in your own words.”

Jason reluctantly opened the book and glanced over the first two or three pages. He glanced up at me with a look something akin to fear in his eyes. I couldn’t imagine what it must feel like whenever anyone asked or expected him to read something. Turning his attention back to the book as if considering whether to try or to find some excuse, Jason returned to the first page and started to narrate the story. He was hesitant at first, but as soon as the first lines were spoken, his confidence grew.

“One morning, Tom woke up and he knew that something was different. He was in his own room and his own warm comfy bed, but something had changed. Tom always liked to sleep with the curtains open, so it was normal to wake up to daylight coming in the window. This morning the light was different. It was unusually bright, but it wasn’t sunny because there were no shadows. Tom threw the covers back and rushed to the window. The usual view across the fields had completely changed. In fact, the world Tom saw outside his window every morning was gone. It was replaced by a thick blanket of pure white snow.”

Jason looked up at me. “Is that okay?”

“Jason, that’s more than okay, it’s fantastic. You’re telling me a story based on what you see in the pictures, but already it’s way more than the pictures show. By the way, who said the little boy was called Tom?”

“I don’t know.” Jason laughed. “He just looks like a Tom.”

“That’s perfect. You really are reading the book. Have you ever experienced a morning like that yourself?”

“Not really, no.” Jason looked puzzled.

“So you’ve taken the images in the book and added that information to other things you’ve experienced, and all that is helping you to imagine the story. That’s what we do when we read. That’s really all we do. The best authors give us an outline to the story, but they leave us to fill in our own details. We start to experience the story that they want to tell us, but we make it our own.”

Jason looked down at the book again and nodded thoughtfully.



Author T.J. Masters recently and somewhat reluctantly passed his 60th birthday. After a long and happy teaching career T.J. wanted to follow a new path before senility set in. Books and stories have been a lifelong passion and there are many tales waiting to be told.

As a happily partnered gay man T.J. chooses to write what he knows best. His overactive and ever exploring mind is probably best described by the Oscar Wilde quote that “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars”.


Twitter: @TJMasters

Wild Retaliation: A Story Itching to Be Told with Ethan Stone

September 7, 2016

A story itching to be told

Thank for joining me on the Wild Retaliation blog tour. Today I’m going to share a little background on how the story came about.

Wild Retaliation is the first book in a series I’ve titled Seaside Shifters and features the town sheriff John Dakota who is a bear shifter. The town also has a number of different other species of shifters.

The story was originally going to be co-written with another author and good friend of mine—Lynley Wayne. While the co-writing didn’t work out because of our different schedules I held onto a few of the characters I’d created as well as a few of the ideas we’d come up with.

I’d wanted to write a character whose basic description would fit for both his human and animal form. In John’s case it was ginger bear. In his shifted form he’s a cinnamon bear while in his human form he’s a bear (in the gay male term) with red hair. Lynley’s character was going to be a silver fox in both forms. Our plot revolved around a rogue shifter and I’d come up with a past for John that had to do with a series of murders.

The setting of Seaside, Oregon, a real town, came about because I wanted to set the story somewhere small. With a population of around six thousand people Seaside is relatively small but is a large tourist community. The tourism is what led me to think of the town as a place not just for regular people to visit but also for shifters. In my series Seaside is a haven for shifters to either live or visit in piece.

After Lynley and I chose not to work together the ideas we’d worked on stuck around in my head. Basically, Sheriff Dakota would not leave me alone. I knew I had to write his story or I’d never have peace. And as time went on the plot began to form in my head. The rogue shifter was still a part of the plot but not in the way she and I had intended.

What are your favorite kind of shifter stories? Is there a type of animal that you think would make a good shifter story?

Check out Wild Retaliation today!

Wild Retaliation


Chief of Police John Dakota is in a world of trouble. His peaceful town of Seaside, Oregon, has been rocked by a wave of unsolved murders. The bloody deaths are eerily reminiscent of ones that occurred in Seaside years ago. Back then John worked hard to make sure the truth about the killer was never revealed. Now he’s afraid the past is coming back to haunt him.

Trevor English, the nosy reporter who occasionally shares John’s bed, is demanding information about the crimes. He also wants more of John’s affections. But John can’t afford to give in to either demand without risking the revelation of Seaside’s biggest secret: the town is a haven for shifters, and John is one of them.

To solve the crime—and prevent more victims—John must delve into the past. Many members of Seaside’s shifter community are involved, but it’s becoming harder and harder to tell which residents can be trusted. Even John’s family isn’t above suspicion. The body count is rising, and it looks like John is the killer’s next target.


About Ethan Stone:

Ethan Stone is an out-and-proud gay man. Which is fairly new in his life—the out part, not the gay part. He’s been queer his whole life, though he tried to deny it for years with a wonderful woman. The years in denial weren’t all bad as he has two amazing kids out of it. His son is a teenager and his daughter has made him a grandfather three times over. A way-too-young grandfather.
Ethan recently returned to Oregon after almost a decade in Nevada. He no longer has a day job and is doing his best to make a living at this writing thing. If he can’t make a living, he at least wants to support his Mountain Dew and beef jerky addictions.

Twitter: @ethanjstone
Google +:
Ello: @ethanstone92

No joe = No Jo by SJD Peterson

September 5, 2016

no joe = no jo

Staring at a blank screen, I was struggling to come up with a blog post, when I hear in the background; Can you make it through your day without coffee?  To which I chuckled. I can barely make it out of bed in the morning to make it to the coffee pot. To go a full day without my cup of joe, ridiculous.

I then hear the reporter say—You may need to—then cuts to commercial.

Panic sets in. What???? Make it through a day without coffee! You jest. Of course, I can’t think of blogs, promo, or anything else but the loss of my beloved coffee. What, No coffee? This can’t be. I am sitting on the edge of my seat when the news resumes. I clutch my mug, a hundred scenarios going through my head, none of which are good. One my even have involved cutting a b*@ch.

Mrs. News Lady then informs me that:

Scientists in the United Kingdom recently completed a study suggesting that Arabica coffee, the species that makes up 75 percent of coffee beans sold, could become extinct in 70 years. Due to climate change and its symptoms including deforestation, at team at the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens ran a series of computer simulations that indicate that wild Arabica coffee could become extinct by 2080.

*you can read the full article HERE*

It dawns on me, my coffee is safe, and thus humanity, but I weep for the future. Can you imagine a world without coffee? *shudders* I wouldn’t be able to function, no writing, no reading…No joe = No Jo

So this coffee addict can’t imagine a life without coffee, what can’t you imagine having in our life? Leave a comment and one random person will win an ebook copy of my new release, Override.


Check out Override today!

An Underground Club Tale

Don’t judge a book by its cover….

At over six feet, with a body honed in the gym, auto worker Donavan Gregory is used to people assuming he’s a dominant top. Unfortunately, they’re wrong, and Donavan’s desire to explore his submissive side goes unfulfilled.

Smaller and older than Donavan, Dr. Seth Manning might not look like a typical Dominant, but when the two men meet at Pride, Donavan realizes Seth might be his perfect counterpart. The trouble is, Donavan doesn’t have as much experience with the BDSM world as he’d like. What could an educated, handsome, and confident man like Seth possibly see in someone like him? Seth must convince him that despite the differences on the surface, when it comes to kinky fun and discovery, they’ll fit together just fine.

Meet Jo Peterson

SJD Peterson, better known as Jo, hails from Michigan. Not the best place to live for someone who hates the cold and snow. When not reading or writing, Jo can be found close to the heater checking out NHL stats and watching the Red Wings kick a little butt. Can’t cook, misses the clothes hamper nine out of ten tries, but is handy with power tools.



Caretakers of Creativity by Jaime Samms

September 2, 2016

Jaime Samms joins us today to talk about new book “Like Heaven on Earth”.

Everyone knows that creative minds are a special breed. They require special care and feeding. This isn’t news. It isn’t shocking. As someone who can’t do something as simple as put dishes on a shelf without an eye for compositional balance, I should know. Heck, I can’t even stew in my own anxieties without rewording my inner voice’s tantrums six times before I’m satisfied enough to mutter under my breath about what’s bothering me. By the time I’m actually talking to myself, I’m downright eloquent, dramatically forceful and grammatically correct!
Having an argument is right out, though. I need those six rewrites!
I spend a lot of time artfully arranging everything I touch. Everything I look at, and, truth told, just about everything I think about.
Unfortunately, all that obsessive creativity comes at a price. At least it does for me. I tend toward non-stop busy, one-thousand-projects-at-a-time chaos in my brain. All that crowds out such mundane things like caffeine ingestion, food and some days, even basic hygiene.
Fuzzy coffee teeth suck, y’all.
So imagine a creative type whose art not only takes up all his brain space, but also a metric ton of his physical energy. Then top that with the fact he already has a physically draining health issue. It’s no wonder Cobalt turned his back on the stage and the stress of being ballet’s icy prince of the stage and holed up in a tiny house on the edge of a bad neighborhood.
No wonder he needed someone to care for him.
Speaking from my own experience, nothing is as valuable to an obsessive creative soul as the person who brings the coffee and sandwiches. The person who reminds them they need to sleep sometimes. The person who introduces them to the concept of leisure time… patiently.
Over and over again.
Because leisure, at least for me, is an inherently foreign concept, and one I don’t readily understand or hold onto. I am lucky. I found a foil to my madness in my husband.
I guess that’s why this story is one I find so wonderful. Preston is Cobalt’s foil. His safety. His caretaker, and ultimately, if it all works out in the end, his home. I believe that is as important to the dancer’s story as the dance itself.

What is it that balances you out? Keeps you sane and catered? Another person? A ritual? Junk TV? Share your zen!

Blurb: Like Heaven on Earth
Dance, Love, Live: Book Three

Cobalt Winslow lost two loves when his ex-boyfriend, Calvin Denvers, infected him with HIV, taking his health and his place as principal danseur in their New York ballet company when Cobalt became too weak. Now dealing with the aftermath as best he can, Cobalt teaches dance in Toronto with the support of his oldest friends, Conrad and Peridot. The one bright spot in his life is Malory Preston, his brother’s driver and a man who is always there when Cobalt needs him. Kind and attentive, Preston embodies everything Calvin lacks, but Cobalt can’t let go of his unhealthy, long-distance relationship with his ex.

Calvin brings a messy and violent end to their affair, but offers a chance for Cobalt to return to New York—as Calvin’s understudy—just when he’s on the verge of a real and lasting relationship with Preston. Now Cobalt faces a choice between two loves: dancing and Preston. Preston must show Cobalt that he has the power and support to make the life he wants and deserves, no matter what he decides.

About Jaime
Jaime has been writing for various publishers since the fall of 2008, although she’s been writing for herself far longer. Often asked why men—what’s so fascinating about writing stories about men falling in love—she’s never come up with a clear answer. Just that these are the stories that she loves to read, so it seemed to make sense if she was going to write, they would also be the stories she wrote.
These days, you can find plenty of free reading on her website. She also writes for Freya’s Bower, Dreamspinner Press, Totally Bound, and now, Riptide Publishing.
Spare time, when it can be found rolled into a ball at the back of the dryer or cavorting with the dust bunnies in the corners, is spent crocheting, drawing, gardening (weather permitting, of course, since she is Canadian!), or watching movies. She has a day job, as well, which she loves, and two kids, but thankfully, also a wonderful husband who shoulders more than his fair share of household and child-care responsibilities.
She graduated some time ago from college with a fine arts diploma, and a major in textile arts, which basically qualifies her to draw pictures and create things with string and fabric. One always needs an official slip of paper to fall back on after all . . .

Amazon Author page:

Writing About Where You Know with Renee Stevens – Post + Giveaway

September 1, 2016

Renee Stevens joins us today to talk about the state that inspired Wide Open Spaces.

Writing about where you know

Part of the requirement for the States of Love Series was that it was clear what state the story took place in. Generally, when I write a story, I build the “scene” myself. There is rarely something that makes it take place in a certain state, and that has its benefits. You can just write without worrying about whether or not the location is true to a specific state/area, as long as you remain consistent throughout the book. That wasn’t an option with Wide Open Spaces.

However, there are also benefits to using a specific city or state, especially if you know the area well. I chose Sweetwater County, because I know it well. Yes, I could have had the story take place in Yellowstone, or Cheyenne, or any one of numerous places, but I don’t know them like I do Sweetwater County. Could I still make the story realistic? Yes. Could I simply do the research? Yes, I could have, but to me it wouldn’t be the same.

Writing about a place I know made the story so much more realistic. Every setting in Wide Open Spaces I’ve seen with my own two eyes. I know how the specific dirt feels, how intense the wind can get, and how cold it can get after dark. I know these things because I’ve felt it, I’ve experienced it for myself. I could look at pictures, but that doesn’t really show me the distance between aspects of the scene.

Take a photograph of a snow covered mountain range. From that picture, do you know how far it is? Do you know what’s between that picture and where it was taken? Not necessarily. I’ve been on the Wild Horse Loop and saw the Wind River Mountain Range from that distance, and I know how far it is. I know that while there are a few rolling foothills, there’s mostly just sagebrush between the Wild Horse Loop and the Wind Rivers.

The biggest downfall of writing an area you know is figuring out how much to include. What aspects of the area make it unique? What areas really stand out? How much description should I go into? But the benefits far outweighed the downfalls. I enjoyed being able to add that realistic touch to my story and hopefully show what life is like living here in a small town, in the state with the fewest number of people in the country.

To finish up, I wanted to take a quick look at a couple of places you’ll see in my States of Love novella Wide Open Spaces.

Flaming Gorge Reservoir – Flaming Gorge is approximately 90 miles wide and covers parts of Wyoming and Utah, with the majority being in Wyoming. It has awesome fishing, with large Lake Trout (Mackinaw) and numerous other species of fish. It’s the type of place that if you go out on the water in a boat, you better be prepared to head for shore as soon as the wind picks up because the waves could easily capsize a small boat. Flaming Gorge is a favorite of both locals and tourists alike, whether they’re into camping, fishing, or cliff jumping. And you might even see a Golden Eagle nest in the cliffs!

Flaming Gorge Reservoir

Flaming Gorge Reservoir

Flaming Gorge Reservoir

Wild Horse Loop – The Wild Horse Loop is one of the very unique aspects of Sweetwater County in Wyoming. It’s a 25 mile loop that visitors and residents alike can take a self-guided tour along in the hopes of seeing wild horse herd. The Wild Horse Loop is a dirt and gravel road that spans between Green River and Rock Springs. Not only can you see wild horses (foals too, if you’re lucky) but you can also see some of the wildlife that calls Wyoming home, such as elk, deer, pronghorn antelope, and of course rabbits. You might even see a coyote or two.

Wild Horse Loop

Wild Horse Loop

Wild Horse Loop

Author Bio:

Renee Stevens first started writing in her teens but didn’t get serious about being an author until her mid-twenties.  Since then she’s written a number of contemporary stories, as well as delved into the paranormal.  When not writing, or spending time in the outdoors, Renee can usually be found working on in her capacity of admin and Anthology Coordinator.

Renee resides in Wyoming with her wonderfully supportive husband and a menagerie of four-legged critters.  Making the most of the nearly constant negative temperatures and mounds of snow, Renee spends much of the winter months in hibernation with her laptop, the voices in her head keeping her company while her husband works. When she needs a break from writing, Renee takes to the sewing machine to design, and make, beautiful quilts.

When the snow finally disappears, usually around May or June, Renee can be found in the great-outdoors.  She spends her time on the mountain, at the lake, and just anywhere that she can do some camping, take some photos, and ride the four-wheelers with her hubby.  Once back at home, it’s back to writing.

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Now it’s time for the give-a-ways! One lucky winner will win an eBook copy of No More Hiding. All you have to do to enter is comment and tell me one place that is unique to your state!

I’m also throwing a Facebook event through September 7th and will be doing a lot of different give-a-ways there! Come join us!

Check out Wide Open Spaces today!

Wide Open Spaces by Renee Stevens


Devon fled Wyoming as soon as he turned eighteen, leaving behind his high school love, Levi. After six years in the big city, Devon returns to his hometown. Not much has changed, except that Levi is no longer in the closet. He’s also single and living his dream—managing the local wild horse population. Both of them are very interested in picking up where they left off, but Devon is no more ready to reveal his orientation than he was as a teenager.

No one is going to shove Levi back in the closet—not even Devon. For a relationship to work, they’ll have to put the past behind them and find the courage to face the future as who they really are—a couple in love. But Devon doesn’t know if he’s strong enough. Maybe Levi would be better off without him—and his hang-ups.

States of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the United States.

Leesa Love’s Best Podcasts for Writers and Readers

August 31, 2016

Dreamspinner’s staff member, Leesa Love, shares her favorite podcasts for writers and readers.


With rapidly developing technology and the growing popularity of audiobooks, the podcast scene is on the rise again. Combining the nostalgia for radio shows with the portability of apps, shows of all genres and topics are popping up, including several on the subjects of writing, publishing, fiction, and books in general. This list compiles some of the most helpful and entertaining shows for both writers and readers of all kinds.

Shows can be downloaded or streamed in a variety of locations, including iTunes, Google Play, individual websites, and several Android apps including Podbean and Podbay.


The Creative Penn

The Creative Penn

Hosted by successful author of both fiction and writing handbooks Joanna Penn, this show gives listeners access to the best tips on every aspect of writing, publishing, and marketing as well as fun interviews with writers of various backgrounds and styles.

Episode 282, “How To Write And Market Romance With J.A.Huss” may be especially intriguing for Dreamspinner Press authors and readers; Huss tells of her experiences as a scientist and textbook writer turned romantic author, with her own twist.


Helping Writers Become Authors**  

Another in-depth writing podcast, host and author K.M. Weiland begins each fifteen minute episode sharing her progress with her own novel writing. She then discusses an aspect of novel writing from pacing to finding the right critique partner, providing helpful tips and walking aspiring authors through the process to success. Her website provides further tips and access to her writing handbooks.


Grammar Girl

Grammar Girl Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing

For authors who occasionally struggle with grammar or are simply fascinated by the technical aspects of writing, Grammar Girl is a helpful podcast. These short episodes hosted by Grammar Girl herself, Mignon Fogarty, will take you through some of the trickiest grammar rules such as affect versus effect (episode 524) and even expand your vocabulary with words like “brouhaha” (episode 514).


Dissecting Dragons

Dissecting Dragons

Authors and fans of speculative fiction will find an enthralling show in Dissecting Dragons with authors J.A. Ironside and M.E. Vaughan, as they discuss both classic and modern books and films. Each episode explores a specific topic within the speculative genre, from the re-emergence of the fairy tale in modern adaptations to political themes within dystopian stories.




Scary stories meet real life in this spooky historical podcast. Host and supernatural thriller author Aaron Mahnke explores dark tales from history that fuel fears and folklore in a campfire ghost story style. Using stories Mahnke uncovered while researching for his novels, each podcast presents true stories of phenomena, often simultaneously revealing the darkest sides of human nature.


Welcome to Night Vale

Welcome to Night Vale

The first of three fantastical podcasts from Night Vale Presents, Welcome to Night Vale is a community radio show for the fictitious desert town of Night Vale, hosted by the fabulous Cecil Palmer, whose voice is just soothing enough to distract listeners from the strange goings-on and even stranger citizens in town, including sentient glow clouds with positions on the school board, to the faceless old woman secretly living in your home and running for mayor. Between important town updates, listeners also get a glimpse into the growing romance between the host and a certain handsome scientist determined to uncover the secrets of Night Vale.

If you enjoy WTNV, check out the newer shows produced by Night Vale Presents, including Alice Isn’t Dead and Within the Wires.



Goosebumps: Welcome to Deadcast

Welcome to Deadcast is hosted by the Terror Twins Daniel and Matthew Scott Montgomery, actors and lifelong fans of R.L. Stine’s classic spooky Goosebumps series. This podcast is filled with nostalgia and laughs as the twins reread and review the series, comparing each novel with its TV show counterpart and sharing their juicy Goosebumps adventures.


Singing Bones

Singing Bones

The Singing Bones podcast reveals the “bare bones” of our favorite fairy tales, whose origins are often much darker than we realize. In each episode, author and performer Clare Testoni explores a different fairy tale and compares all of its variations around the world, including details about the figures recording the tales as well. Many of the complete stories can be found the podcast’s website

Treasure Trail: Figuring Out a Story with Nicole Dennis – Post + Giveaway

August 30, 2016

Figuring Out a Story

Hello to everyone!

My name is Nicole Dennis. I get the lucky spot to be the first to introduce my book – Treasure Trail – to kick off Dreamspinner’s new series – States of Love. The series comprises of fifty different authors of contemporary novellas with each one representing and highlighting a specific state.

Almost as soon as I read the submission call, I knew I wanted Florida. I live here and know there is far more to Florida than the theme parks and beaches. Everyone knows about the beaches, the Everglades, the Keys and even the sun-drenched decadence of Miami. Nope. None of that even came to my mind. I focused on another city I wanted to incorporate into the store.

What about the oldest city in the United States?

It’s right here in Florida. St. Augustine.

Once I read a submission call, this is a little insight ‘behind the scenes’ of how I built Treasure Trail from the idea of just St. Augustine into a complete story. Before I could add characters and plot, I needed to learn as much as possible about St. Augustine to figure out what exactly I wanted to focus on.

Research! Yay. Honest. I love research and gathering all kinds of bits of information.

Here’s a bit of a history lesson and some of what I found during the research. I know. This isn’t History class and I promise this isn’t on the test.

First founded by the Spanish, St. Augustine is located on the northern end of the state on the Atlantic coast. It’s this almost historical, but magical city with a magnificent Spanish fort, Castillo de San Marcos, standing guard. The Castillo is the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States. It’s located on the western shore of the Matanzas Bay and designed by a Spanish engineer. The Spanish used the fort and growing town to hold their control over Florida from the English, the French, and pirates. Over the earlier years, it changed hands multiple times, been attacked and burnt, but the Castillo continued to stand strong, providing a perch to observe enemy vessels and protect St. Augustine, what is now known as the ‘Old City’.

When you visit St. Augustine, the historic feel from the cobblestone and brick paths throughout the oldest part draws you in almost immediately. The paths are thin and narrow. The buildings with all the little shops, restaurants and taverns reflect the Spanish feel. You want to visit this place and spend as much time as possible to see all the nooks, crannies and hidden places. I’ve been to St. Augustine many times and still haven’t seen anything.

Another huge tidbit, St. Augustine is very LGBT friendly. So, extra yay!

So… Back to configuring the story with all of this research. At least it’s the bare beginnings of the story. Again, I needed to figure out certain pieces that could give me what I need. Yup, more research.

I wanted to showcase the historic downtown and the Castillo. I remember reading and seeing something about ‘St. Augustine Historic Walking Tours’. I know. Sounds all big, boring and a crap load of walking, but then I focused in on the ‘Pirate Pub Crawl’. For this one, a tour guide (dressed as a pirate – how can it get any better than this?) leads their merry crew on a walking tour of the historic downtown and visit multiple pubs for a pint of brew and tales of the golden age of piracy and Pirates. Pubs. Beer…er, grog in this case.

Hey, it was either Pirates or Ghosts. I went with pirates.

Now the ideas continued to build and grow. This was what I needed. This Pub Crawl could be the way for my characters to see each other all the time. How to make that happen? This is where I start generating and growing my main characters, Derick and Chris.

Derick became the owner of a brewpub-tavern with a pirate theme and brews craft beers to go with the rest of the menu. His brewpub is on the list of the Pirate Pub Crawl where he offers one of the specialized craft brews to the guests. He also turned into a steady, quiet type of man, with some social anxiety that crops up now and then but he manages it. After leaving home, he created several goals for himself – get a good job, own a home, and fall in love. Simple goals. He started working at the brewpub when he arrived in St. Augustine and never left. Before purchasing the brewpub from the previous owner, he signed papers for his new home. He tried the love thing once, but it backfired on him so he’s been a bit gun-shy.

To counteract Derick, I set up Chris as the pirate tour guide. He trained in acting and has an easygoing, charming personality, which helps him interact with a different crowd almost every day, depending on his schedule. He has a wacky group of friends, some are housemates, and seems to have it all. Only it’s the talking one-on-one that has him all twisted up.

There’s the set up. A pub owner who interacts with the pirate guide only during working hours, crushes on him all the time, but unable to take the necessary step. We have the enigmatic pirate able to charm his guests with various tales of the golden age of piracy, but can’t take the leap from crowd to a personal talk.

All with the background of a brewpub in historic St. Augustine.

What else could I do to them or showcase the city? I placed everything within the timeframe of the Annual St. Augustine Pirate Gathering. This three-day festival attracts pirate lovers from all over the United States for music, food, singing, parades and pirate demonstrations (ok, I changed this to battles). Of course, Chris would be neck deep in the gathering.

Things were going along fine while writing it, but the story needed something more. Yeah, right smack in the middle of writing, my stinky muse put a dramatic halt and kept me locked in place. What else do I need?

There’s something other than a pint of grog when you bring up the idea of pirates. Treasure. Could I use this part as a way for Derick to open up and interact more with Chris? Yup. One special treasure hunt is ready to go. Not only will the hunt bring them closer, but it takes you, the reader, around St. Augustine and learn about a couple of the unique shops found there.

The guys also need a special place outside of their homes and the tavern to talk, flirt and have a little fun. After finding their homes, both are actually up for sale on a real estate sight, I found a centralized spot. Chris hangs around for Derick to close the bar and they ride bicycles through the night to this special historical home and a park. Yeah, more than talking happens here, but I’ll let you enjoy those bits firsthand.

With these extra pieces, I could complete the story. Are you exhausted yet? Overwhelmed? Yeah, so was I, but it’s so worth it in the end.

Oh, there’s a little something extra about the title – Treasure Trail. There’s two different meaning behind it. Can you figure them out?

Lemme hear from you.

Here’s another question. It goes back to the beginning of my research. There were two options I looked at while thinking about the Pub Crawl – Pirate Pub Tour or Spirits with Spirits Tour. Would you rather read all about sexy pirates or haunting ghosts? Why?

Leave a comment with your answers for a chance to win your ebook choice of my backlist books.

I hope you’ll enjoy your visit to St. Augustine, her history, lore and pirates!


Check out Treasure Trail today!


Dreamspinner Press
All Romance E-books
Amazon US


Owner of Matey’s Tavern, a popular brewpub-tavern in St. Augustine, Florida, Derick Keyes loves his adopted hometown and job. He also harbors a crush on a pirate captain.

Tour guide for the popular Pirate Pub Walking Tour, Christopher Easton portrays a pirate captain as he takes visitors on a guided tour of St. Augustine, stopping at certain taverns for a pint of grog and tales of the golden age of piracy. With a little liquid courage, Chris breaks the endless looping dance and talks to Derick. Things change between them. Derick wants a chance for more with Chris.

During the Annual Pirate Festival, Derick creates a treasure hunt for Chris after “cursing” him. To break the curse, Chris must find four clues before the final battle on Sunday night. Only then can the curse be broken.

States of Love: Stories of Romance that span every corner of the United States.

About Nicole Dennis:

A quiet one, Nicole Dennis curled up with the latest book of a favorite author. Since the beginning, there were these characters in her head, worlds wanting to be built on paper, and stories wanting to be told. She began writing during class and continues to this day. Now she can let others into her imagination and worlds that always celebrate the love between two or more people within LGBT, paranormal, and fantasy.

During the day, she works in a quiet office in Central Florida, where she also makes her home, and enjoys the down time to slip into her imagination. She is owned by a semi-demonic tortie calico, affectionately known as Fat Cat.

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