Happy Birthday by B.D. Roca: Tattoo Stories

January 13, 2016

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Hi guys, it’s B.D. Roca here with my third and final release day post. Before I start though, don’t forget to hit the comments for a chance to win a copy of Happy Birthday!

Here’s the great Reese Dante cover:

HappyBirthday_SLD

How do you all feel about tattoos? Do you have any? I’ve heard about tats located in some pretty wild (and painful!) places, but as you can tell from Reese’s artwork, one of the MC’s, Nick, has a very particular tattoo of a phoenix down his chest. For him it’s a marker of who he is and what he’s lived through:

…He wasn’t like a lot of the MC members. Didn’t have tats up and down his arms, neck. He hadn’t liked being publicly marked, having anything that gave others something to remember. But clothing off….

That was a different matter.

“Shit,” Jake muttered, drawing back to look at him.

The overhead light was still on, harsh. It lit the wiry, tough muscularity of Nick’s torso perfectly. He’d always been obsessed with wings, and the tattooist had suggested an angel. An eagle. Then a dragon. No go.

She’d groaned. “You’re a tough one. What else do you like besides wings?”

He’d laughed abruptly. “Closing doors.”

She’d stared at him for a moment and then nodded, done a quick, rough sketch. And so he’d gained the phoenix on his chest. Gray-scale, the thing roared and raged from below his beltline to up over his nipples, surrounded by flames, every feather and claw incredibly fine.

There were other tattoos. Ones that didn’t matter so much, one on his hip, a couple on his back.

But the phoenix—Jake traced it with a fingertip. “That’s real art.”

Nick tried not to shiver at that simple touch.

“Yeah. The inker was good. Recommended to me as being pretty damned amazing. They were right.”

Jake blinked at it and gave Nick’s face a sudden shy look. “I thought about being an artist once. Ended up in IT instead. You know, the sensible career option.”

Since Nick didn’t know shit about career options, he could only nod.

“Ignore me,” Jake muttered. “You don’t need to hear that garbage.” He bent his head and traced his tongue over Nick’s collarbone. “You taste like salt. You taste… so good.”

Those two guys have wicked hot chemistry. But as different as their backgrounds are, Jake understands Nick:

“This tattoo,” Jake muttered, now tracing the phoenix soaring over Nick’s chest. He bent, outlined it with his tongue. “It’s your life.”

The phoenix. Rising from the flames. Surviving.

Personally, I love tattoos. I think — when they’re good, they’re real art and can have an intensely personal meaning. You just have to find the right artist. And tattoo parlors always look intriguing, one way or another.

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Photocredit: Tattoo Parlour via photopin (license)

Somehow, for me, tats always go with some good thrashy rock, so I’ll finish up here with an AC/DC classic. As an Aussie, and with Happy Birthday opening on a road trip heading across the highways from Melbourne to Sydney, Highway To Hell couldn’t be more appropriate. Hit the YouTube link for a view and a retro listen! Enjoy :)

So guys, I’ve had fun over these posts talking some about the background to Happy Birthday, sharing some of the soundtrack I had playing while writing and my other obsessions… like tattoos!

In the comments section I’d love to know if you have any tats, and DID IT HURT? Cos I’ve always wanted to get a large ouroboros—a serpent devouring its own tail, a symbol of rebirth and reinvention—tattooed on my back.

No wonder I gave Nick a phoenix tattoo! So for a chance to win a copy of Happy Birthday, tell me your own tattoo stories, for better or worse ;)

My Bio: B.D. Roca spent her early years in Brisbane, in a series of crumbling old houses laced with the smell of frangipani and surrounded by the hum of cicadas. Her gran raised her on ghost stories, quirky family history, and told her to beat up anyone who gave her attitude. This was not advice she took, although it does make a certain amount of sense. It may also account for her love of tough characters with a heart of gold.

Between the old houses, feral cats, steamy heat, and history lessons, it was pure Australian gothic. She’s traveled a lot since then, but those times are still a powerful influence both on her worldview and writing.

Say hi to me here:

http://bdroca.wordpress.com
Twitter: @bd_roca
https://www.goodreads.com/BDRoca

Happy Birthday’s (short list) buy links:

Dreamspinner Press
Amazon Global

It’s also available through:

Amazon worldwide
Apple
Kobo
Barnes & Noble
All Romance eBooks

Curious about just how the story opens and haven’t read the full first chapter excerpt? Click here on the title’s link: Dreamspinner Press

 

Happy Birthday by B.D. Roca… Road Trips and Soundtracks

January 13, 2016

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B.D. Roca here! For my second release day post, I thought I’d start by chatting about birthdays because, well, the title says it all (I’m all about the logic!). Birthdays can be loaded things: good and bad (and not just because of those big 0 markers that come up).

There are two birthdays marking Happy Birthday, one dark, troubling and potentially lethal and one that is all about the lovely traditional birthday stuff: celebration and joy. When I was choosing a title for the story, I must admit, my dark sense of humor did creep in there a little. I’ve seen too many birthdays go sideways, with all the best intentions in the world. So much emotion and significance can be attached to them and they are life markers, one way or another.

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Photo credit: Tha Cake via photopin (license)

Happy Birthday opens with a very stalkery road trip: Nick is tracking Jake Rushman, the innocent witness to an MC related murder. While I was writing I really had a vision of those empty roads and highways, the danger of that isolation playing through my mind, together with images of just what would be running through Nick’s mind. He’s burned out: he has blood on his hands and aches both for redemption and for the guilt to stop tearing at him. Jake’s ahead of him, on the run, racing in a rental car from Melbourne up to Sydney, which is exactly the city a very focused Nick wants him to land in. Poor Jake really doesn’t have much hope of escape ;)

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Photo credit: Sydney Harbor Bridge via photopin (license)

Sydney is a perfect jump-off point for a number of destinations, hence Nick’s focus. I had a number of songs playing for their dual road trips, but this one by Tricky was on constant repeat. It’s the perfect, sinister song as soundtrack to a story about a MC enforcer tracking his mark.

Click on the link to view it in YouTube: Tricky, Bury The Evidence.

I love the sound of Tricky’s voice, especially in this song. I bought the CD on the strength of it. It’s a sinister song about sinister doings. But Nick isn’t quite a match for the lure Jake is offering. It’s something he’s never truly had before:

…Nick moaned and jerked against him. He felt Jake smile against his throat.

“Like that, do you?”

“What is this?” Nick demanded.

“Life.”

Nick had no answer for that. Life?

Curious about how the story opens and haven’t read the full first chapter excerpt? Click here on the title’s link: Dreamspinner Press

My Bio: B.D. Roca spent her early years in Brisbane, in a series of crumbling old houses laced with the smell of frangipani and surrounded by the hum of cicadas. Her gran raised her on ghost stories, quirky family history, and told her to beat up anyone who gave her attitude. This was not advice she took, although it does make a certain amount of sense. It may also account for her love of tough characters with a heart of gold.

Between the old houses, feral cats, steamy heat, and history lessons, it was pure Australian gothic. She’s traveled a lot since then, but those times are still a powerful influence both on her worldview and writing.

Say hi to me here:

http://bdroca.wordpress.com
Twitter: @bd_roca
https://www.goodreads.com/BDRoca

Happy Birthday’s (short list) buy links:

Dreamspinner Press
Amazon Global

So guys, any favorite road trip songs? Or recommendations for great soundtracks while writing about sinister doings? Drop a line in the comments below for a chance to win a copy of Happy Birthday!

 

Happy Birthday by B.D. Roca Release Day Party + Giveaway

January 13, 2016

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Hi all, I’m B.D. Roca and I’m here to chat about Happy Birthday, my novella released today.

I’m also doing a giveaway of the eBook so don’t forget to leave a comment or two to be in the running. Christmas may be a few weeks behind us but there are still goodies to be had ;)

What does Happy Birthday revolve around? Hmm, well… it’s about Nick, a motorcycle club enforcer with a death wish, Jake, the witness on the run he’s sent to eliminate, and just what happens when those two guys meet. Hint: a lot of heat gets generated.

Here’s a glimpse:

…Jake slammed him up against the wall, and Nick’s mind went blank. The enforcer, the killer, the one who knew how to track, who knew how to use a knife, a gun, his hands, fists, who knew how to lock up his house tighter than a damned drum before he hit the sack, and slept with a gun under one pillow and a knife under the other, that Nick was still somehow quietly humming, a machine, in the background. But the other Nick—the one who had watched this man for two days now, and felt, deceptively, that he had come to know him, the one who was going to make his own useless life and his useless death mean something by using it to save this stranger—that Nick had been thrown into a new world. And sank into it.

The old Nick would have said screw that.

Yeah, one wrong move and Jake would have been slammed, all right. Autopilot would have kicked in. Jake would have been slammed down onto the shitty mustard-colored carpet, and Nick’s arm would have been across his windpipe, choking him.

But that wasn’t what this was about.

He’d left that guy behind…

Here’s the brilliant cover by Reese Dante:

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And here’s the blurb:

Jake Rushman is on the run, but it’s too late. He’s being tracked by an expert.

Motorcycle Club Enforcer Nick is tough, but even he has a conscience. It’s slowly destroying him, together with memories of his parents’ ugly deaths. Nick eliminates the guilty, but Jake Rushman is the innocent witness to a murder. It will be one kill too many.

Determined to find redemption, Nick plans to trade his life for Jake’s. Neither man counts on the fierce, powerful bond that the collision of their opposing worlds brings, and Jake refuses to let Nick sacrifice himself. He offers Nick the one thing he’s never had: hope.

But with a violent past tracking them, Nick might be forced to do the one thing he promised himself he never would—kill again.

I’ve always loved tough characters, bad boys the world sees as scary but who allow themselves to become vulnerable for that one special individual. Nick is that kind of tough guy; virtually born into the MC life, Jake is the man who offers him redemption. Writing about those two was a rush, a lot of fun and involved research into aspects of MC life such as biker history, club structure and hierarchy.

I can be reached at:

http://bdroca.wordpress.com
Twitter: @bd_roca
https://www.goodreads.com/BDRoca

Happy Birthday (short list) buy links:

Dreamspinner Press (also click the Dreamspinner link to read a full first chapter excerpt)
Amazon Global

In the meantime, I’d love to know your feelings about bad boys (this is really, truly research for me, guys!), so let me know about your fave M/M bad boys in the comments :)

 

A Scene of Hungry Love from The Couple Next Door by Rick R. Reed

January 12, 2016

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Below is an excerpt from my latest, The Couple Next Door, and it’s a scene where two lost souls—Jeremy and Shane—at last unite, under very difficult circumstances. See, Shane has been physically and emotionally abused by the man with whom he lives. Jeremy has been witness to it and has tried to be a friend, to help, to perhaps even be a savior. He’s tried to keep a respectable distance.

But the pull between these two men, as you’ll read, is just too powerful….

EXCERPT
Does my knowing the truth make me an accomplice? Does Shane knowing the truth make him an accessory after the fact to murder?

What, I ask myself for the thousandth time, have I gotten myself into? The answer comes to me in an image: Shane, smiling, the delight clear in his icy blue eyes when he first sees me. 

A man. It’s always a man. If I could learn to live without men, I’d be happy, I tell myself.

Good luck with that.

I go into the kitchen, grab some oranges and a couple of protein bars from a drawer. It’s a meager breakfast, but it’s the best I have to offer.

Knock, knock, knock and Shane opens the door. His eyes are rimmed in red. He looks as though he hasn’t slept—like me. He wears a torn and faded navy blue T-shirt and gray sweatpants. I can see the outline of his cock through the loose jersey fabric. My mind wanders away from danger, scaling other exhilarating heights.

He looks breathtaking. All I want to do is hold him, comfort him, and go from there—proceed directly to his bedroom, do not pass go. Why am I thinking of sex at such a horrible time, when he has shared with me the truth of his history? Now is the time for talk, not lovemaking. Yet the lust persists like an itch right in the center of my brain. There’s only one way to scratch it.

It’s like he’s read my mind. He takes the fruit and the protein bars from me and turns away to set them on the arm of a chair near the front door. Then he comes back to me and enfolds both of my hands in his own.

The moment is too charged with something, some kind of electric connection, for words. Talking would break the spell. The silence is delicious and weighted.

His hands are warm, verging on fiery, feverish. He tugs me toward him roughly, and before I know what’s happening, I’m in his arms. This is no friendly “hello” hug. This is an embrace born of hunger, of desperation, of an animal need for comfort. His mouth seeks mine, starving, and the merging of our lips and tongues is like some kind of communion. It’s more than passion. It’s the uniting of two lost souls.

And with the thought of lost souls, I realize why we both feel such a connection. In his famished kiss, I can feel not only his need for me but also mine for him.

We stop only long enough to turn, to head toward the bedroom. Shane never lets go of at least one of my hands. I can almost feel his need to cling, to ensure I don’t escape.

I welcome it.

He kicks the door closed, and then he’s on me like some kind of jungle cat, ripping the few clothes I wore off, scratching me in the process. I will not see the claw marks until later, until they appear red and scarlet on my flesh. I will rub them, treasuring the memory connected to them. Now, though, there is only animal want and the desire, deep-seated, for human comfort that only oblivion can provide 

We tumble on one of the two beds crammed into the room together, so hungry we can’t stop devouring the other. Not just cocks but nipples, armpits, the crooks behind knees, the tender, sensitive flesh of our thighs, the smalls of our backs. Fluid—saliva, come, tears, all flow, and we exchange them. Greedily.

He mounts me. I mount him. We are in such a haze we almost forget the condoms and the lube.

Almost.

Time stands still as we fuck. As we suck. As we wait, breathless, and do it again.

 It’s not until I am lying in Shane’s arms later, when our respiration and heartbeats have returned to some semblance of normalcy, that we speak.

 I mince no words. “Why did he do it?”

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

Jeremy Booth leads a 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 http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=7139

Dreamspinner Press paperback http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=7140

Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B018TN4G6I

Amazon paperback: http://www.amazon.com/Couple-Next-Door-Rick-Reed/dp/1634766482/

AllRomance eBooks https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-thecouplenextdoor-1928415-145.html

 

NOH8Rick

Rick R. Reed Biography
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 Caregiver, Orientation and 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.”

FIND RICK

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

 

 

Sometimes It Takes Getting Angry with Andrew Grey

January 11, 2016

SOMETIMES IT TAKES GETTING ANGRY

Sometimes stories grow organically from inside and others seem to spring from thin air.  An idea will spark and from that a story will grow.  The other type of story for me, stems from something I see or hear that makes me angry and really pisses me off.  Fire and Rain is that last type of story.  I was in my own home town of Carlisle, PA and saw a man curled up in the doorway of one of the downtown shops. It was after dark and I was walking in a bit of a hurry to get somewhere.  I saw the man curled up out of the weather most likely to sleep when a police vehicle pulled up and the officers got out to move the person on.   I have to admit that I probably would never have noticed the man if the police hadn’t appeared, but I did.  I saw a dark ghostly figure rise out of a jumbled heap on the tile of the store entryway.  He grumbled something and began to shuffle down the sidewalk.  The cops knew him by name and told him to head on down to the Salvation Army where there was a shelter.

The whole scene tugged at my heart and made me angry.  We live in a country with huge gas guzzling cars and people as rich as Bill Gates and Warren Buffet.  Most of us have plenty of food and nice homes, cars, boats, you name it.  Yet here are people with nothing and our solution is to move them to a shelter where they’ll be out of sight and out of mind.  Sorry for the preaching, but this gets to me.   Anyway, out of that scene came the idea for Jos and once I got to know him, he informed me that he has a young brother, surprise… surprise.  I never saw that one coming.

That set the basic scene for the start of Fire and Rain.   From there I learned what a hard long road it was for someone to make it from living on the streets being able to rebuild their lives and that it takes determination and the help of a lot of people who are willing to spend the time and give support and care.  Each of my stories touch my heart in some way, and they all have a happy ending, even if the road to get there can be curvy to get out.  But for me, this particular story, while it has a happy ending, also ends in a kind of social triumph for Jos and Isaac.

 

Check out Fire and Rain today!

FireAndRain

I resolve to be… with Xara X. Xanakas

January 10, 2016

So, it’s a new year. Did you make any resolutions? Whether yours is self improvement, money, relationship, weight loss, or something more obscure, they can be a great motivator. A helpful reminder to try to be the best you you can be. Something to aspire to, to reach for, throughout the year. Yes, resolutions can be a great thing.

Until they’re not. All too often, they become another weapon our subconscious uses to against us in its ongoing battle for our psyche. Another stick to club ourselves with. You know what I mean. That little voice that pipes up after you’ve had that cigarette you resolved not to, or that last doughnut from the break room after you promised yourself you wouldn’t. We are our own worst enemies when it comes to following through on resolutions. And we convince ourselves that we are the outcast here, that everyone else is having a cakewalk.

BUT WAIT! Did you know that a quarter of all resolutions never make it out of the first week of the year? One in four don’t make last seven days. And over half of them are abandoned within six months. Think about that. In fact, do you know how many resolutions are actually kept for a full year?

Eight percent.

That means ninety-two percent of us ‘failed’ in our resolutions. Those little missteps? Yeah, that’s normal. Let me say it again: YOU ARE NORMAL. So you slipped. So what? You got tomorrow to do better. That’s what my resolution is: to be. That’s it. I resolve to be. And trust that any changes I make, any slips I have don’t make me a failure; they make me human. And I can live with that.

Resolution-greeting-card

 

~xXx~

 

Finding Inspiration in A Kind of Truth with Lane Hayes – Post + Giveaway

January 9, 2016

Finding Inspiration in A Kind of Truth

New York City is one of those special places that offers seemingly endless inspiration. Famous landmarks, world-class restaurants, eclectic neighborhoods and hands down, some of the best people-watching in the world! For any writer, it’s a must. I could sit on a park bench in Central Park or in a SoHo café all day and never get tired of listening to the different dialects and observing the diverse crowds.  People rushing to work in designer coats and fashionable boots or tourists in sensible walking shoes carrying selfie sticks. I can hear Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” and I swear I believe it when he sings, “if I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere.”

That’s exactly how Rand O’Malley feels when he lands in Manhattan with two buddies and a big dream to take the music world by storm. A Kind of Truth pays homage to the brave souls who are willing to set fear aside to aim for the loftiest of aspirations. Rand is one of those guys. He’s willful, wild hearted, cocky and supremely confident that his band, Spiral, has what it takes to make it to the big time. Well… once he finds a reliable guitarist. Details that make most people stop and reconsider their motivation or sanity don’t stop Rand from taking chances and making wild leaps of faith.

I’ve been asked a few times if I’m like any of the characters I’ve written. I can say with the utmost sincerity, I am nothing like Rand, though I wish I was. Lol! I love being around people who exude a palpable energy and seem more vibrant when they’re engaging in the world around them rather than observing. Writers are generally consummate voyeurs. You might find me sitting on that park bench, but Rand wouldn’t last long enough for his latte to cool before he’d jump up to move on to the next location.

A Kind of Truth was an absolute joy to write. I loved setting book one of my newest series in my favorite U.S. city. I’ve made a point to visit NYC a couple times a year over the last decade or so. It was helpful to have a visceral understanding of the streets Rand and Will walked, the food they ate and the music they’re passionate about. Moreover, I loved these characters. Rand’s relentless energy and sense of humor contrasted well with Will’s serious nature. If you’ve read any of my previous books, you may have guessed this is an “opposites attract” story. The rock star and the geek. Ahh… it never gets old!

This is ultimately a story about finding your truth beyond the thrill of attaining a goal. It’s about the things we give away in order to achieve the impossible. And making room for what we learn we can’t live without to find our own kind of truth.

Giveaway Opportunity!

Travel is a huge inspiration to me. NYC is definitely number one on my list of places I love to visit. It’s followed closely by San Francisco, Washington DC, London and Paris. Do you see a trend? I’m a city girl! Walking through a crowd city and soaking up the sights and sounds is absolute heaven! I’d like to giveaway 2 $10 gift cards to Dreamspinner Press.  For a chance to win, all you have to do is name your favorite place and why you love it.  For example… I love Manhattan. It’s a walkable city with tons to do and see. Central Park is an absolute must. Here’s a picture of the park I took on my last visit in November. Gorgeous!

 

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Thank you so much for stopping by today! I’ll be checking in often to say hello, so please be sure to leave comments!

Happy Reading!

Lane Hayes xo

 

A Kind of Truth is available now! In English & German (Die Wahrheit, die ich meine…)
Dreamspinner Press:

A Kind of Truth

Die Wahrheit, die ich meine…

Amazon

Contact the Author:

Lane’s Blog: http://lanehayes.wordpress.com

Twitter:  LaneHayes3

Facebook:  LaneHayesauthor or Lane Hayes

Email:  lanehayes@ymail.com or lanehayes3@gmail.com

 

*Here’s an inspiration pic of Rand, by the way ☺.  Swoon…

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Life’s a Zoo with Meg Harding – Post + Giveaway

January 6, 2016

Life's a Zoo

Hi all. I’m Meg Harding and my novella Fixer-Upper comes out today. Dakota and Jake’s story originally started as a much shorter anthology submission, that I then extended by about ten thousand words and submitted on its own. Despite the holiday timing, it’s not about Christmas or even New Years. But it is about new beginnings, so the new year is a fitting time for Fixer-Upper’s release.

I don’t know how many of you have seen Frozen—I’ll admit I’ve only seen it once—but there’s a song in it about the guy being a bit of a fixer-upper. I’d forgotten about the song, until one of my friends who was attending a wedding mentioned that the bridesmaids wanted to dance to this song in regards to the groom. I thought that was a little mean, but the idea of a fixer-upper stuck with me. But I wanted to twist it a little.

People on a whole tend to see themselves as fixer-uppers, and the house in this story is a metaphor for how Jake feels about himself. But Dakota, who is doing a large part of the fixing of the house, doesn’t view Jake as in need of a fix. He’s not waiting for Jake to change. He’s waiting for Jake to realize that he’s a-okay. He wants Jake to be comfortable with himself. I like the idea that Dakota doesn’t view Jake as something that is broken, but that he accepts and is willing to work with the fact that Jake does. It’s not his job to make Jake see the truth—that’s something Jake has to do on his own—though he can help him. This is a bit of a slow burn as far as things go, and that’s important to the story. Dakota is very careful of Jake.

One of the biggest influences on me for this particular story was the idea of meet uglies. I didn’t want characters who met in a cute way, where everything went to plan before the bumps appeared. I wanted to explore characters overcoming awkwardness and embarrassment because they kept making mistakes. I liked the idea of a character falling in love with someone because they messed up, because they were unintentionally a little hazardous. Throughout the beginning of the story, Jake has a series of accidents that all lead to less than desirable results for Dakota. This was partly influenced by my own experience—in that I’m as awkward as awkward gets. If I’m trying to flirt, or impress someone, chances are I’m going to end up falling on my face. Jake’s got my inability to look competent in the face of an audience in spades.

In the majority of the things I write, I like to slide my own interests in. If you’ve read any of my past titles, you’ve seen mentions of Sherlock Holmes, Marvel, LOTR, etc. This story isn’t an exception. The first date Dakota and Jake go on is to a zoo, which may seem like a not very adult date type of thing. But it’s literally my idea of a perfect date. I LOVE zoos. I spent the last year living abroad, and I tried to go to a zoo in every country I visited. It’s important to me that somehow, someway, animals are included in my stories. There’s even a majestically named puppy that appears at the end (yet another interest of mine popping up). But back to the zoos. This scene was very much inspired by the zoos I’ve been to in the last year, and the frankly amazing things I’ve seen.

So here’s some pictures I took that can help you picture just what these two were marveling at.

 

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Now, for the fun part. A giveaway! Want to win a copy of one of my previous books with Dreamspinner? Comment below to let me know what your best first date was and one person will win a backlist title of their choice!

 

You can find me at:

WordPress / Twitter / Facebook / Dreamspinner / Google + / Amazon / Goodreads

Check out Fixer-Upper by Meg Harding – out today!

 

Stay Focused, Live Free with Evan Gilbert – Post + Giveaway

December 30, 2015

stay focused, live free (1)

Greetings, all. This is Evan Gilbert, here for the release today of
my novella Eyes on Sparrow.

 

People and events in my own life often provide the spark that drives my fiction writing. Several months ago, I casually mentioned to a friend that I wanted to do another gay romantic story involving blue collar men. This friend has a fetish for construction workers and suggested (demanded, actually) that I include at least one in my new endeavor. That inspired the creation of Kele Smith, the sexy young Native American man who becomes a teasing object of desire while building a house. Originally, I was going to pair him off with an older construction worker. That changed when a cousin of mine graduated from high school in May. I asked her what she planned to do next, and she explained that she would be attending the college her parents chose, as well as pursuing the course of study they selected for her. Her interests, she further explained, lie elsewhere, but her parents were footing the bill, so what could she do?

 

I don’t usually stick my nose where it doesn’t belong, but I went to my aunt and uncle on my cousin’s behalf and told them she really wanted a different career than the one they were pushing her into. They told me my cousin had been directionless her entire time in high school and was still directionless, which is why they made the choices they did for her. I couldn’t get them to see that their daughter’s perceived lack of aim had more to do with their always leading her by the hand while she was growing up rather than stepping back and letting her do her own thing.

 

The discussions with my cousin, aunt, and uncle caused the character Morgan Breck to spring into the story. Newly graduated from high school, he’s a young man who has never asserted his independence, even sublimating his sexuality to the will of his parents. Religious themes worked their way in with Morgan and his parents, which led to Kele getting the “Sparrow” nickname. I wanted to use a title that played off the old gospel hymn “His Eye is on the Sparrow.”

 

Here we are on the cusp of a brand new year, a time for making bold decisions, changing direction, taking chances and taking control. Is there something you’ve wanted to do with your life but haven’t for some reason?  Have you decided to make a leap of faith in the coming year? Leave a comment with your resolutions, or share your thoughts on living freely and independently. After seventy-two hours, all commenters will be entered into a drawing and the winner gets to select an eBook from my backlist.

 

Thanks for reading, and all the best to you in 2016.

 

Get your copy of Eyes on Sparrow here!

 

Things My Husband Convinces Me Would Be A Good Idea with Caitlin Ricci

December 28, 2015

THINGS MY HUSBAND CONVINCES ME WOULD BE A GOOD IDEA (1)

Hey everyone! This is Caitlin Ricci here taking over to talk about my new novel Blood Slave. This is a very different story for me in a lot of ways and it came about because my husband, Scott, said hey, I have this idea for a book and you should write it. He’s given me lots of ideas over the years that we’ve been together and they’re all filed away in my docs under Scott’s Ideas. They’ll be written, I promise him. Someday I’ll get to them. But this one was even more out there than some of his others.

What he gave me was a post apocalyptic world where people can no longer produce enough of their own red blood cells and have to then start drinking the blood of humans and animals to survive or else get very weak and eventually die. Some people are unaffected, and those lucky few are the humans. The ones who feed on other people became a version of vampires and those who feed on animals are werewolves. He wanted big battles and bloody wars and one big anti-hero to pull it all together.

I write a lot of shifters and contemporaries. I don’t write post apocalyptic or vampires. I just don’t. I figured someday I would, but for the most part a story like this wasn’t even on my radar. But there he was with this idea that he was so excited about and I’d been promising him that I’d write one of his ideas soon. So I decided to give this one a try. Only I made it a gay romance and people fall in love and there wasn’t nearly enough death and things getting blown up for him.

But this novel became a great experiment for me. I got to play with characters I never would have been able to try out in any other world. Jai, the merciless vampire prince, led the story and I fell so hard for Ash, the blood slave. I wanted their love to be gentle in a world that is anything but. While people are dying around them and every day they have to kill just to survive I had these two men who were just trying to figure themselves, and each other, out. It’s a very different book for me and I’m extremely proud of it and how it all came together in the end. It’s about redemption and falling in love when that word really doesn’t exist anymore. And it’s also about revenge and deciding that the world isn’t working how you want it to so it’s better to start a war and remake the entire continent as you want it to be. There is death and gore but in the end it’s a love story about a merciless vampire prince and the blood slave he helps.

Thank you for taking time out of your day to spend it with me. And now I’d like to know, what’s the strangest thing someone has ever convinced you to do? 

Happy Holidays everyone. See you in the new year!

Caitlin Ricci

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