May 12, 2016
Big Love has a wonderful father at its heart—Dane Bernard, a man who, relatively late in life and after the loss of his wife, comes to terms with being gay. This is how he tells his two teenage kids, Joey and Clarissa:
How to say it? How does one break news like this?
Maybe an object lesson…. Not so long ago, Bruce—now Caitlyn—Jenner had been everywhere one looked. Perhaps he could use the former Olympic medalist’s journey to illustrate his own parallel need to finally come to terms with who he was, to live an honest life at last.
“You guys remember Caitlyn Jenner?” He grinned, feeling cold suddenly, as though all the color were draining out of him.
Joey snickered. “That old Kardashian dude? Became a woman? He looked pretty hot on the cover of that magazine, though. I mean for an old dude.”
Dane cut his gaze to his son. “Be respectful,” he admonished.
Joey continued shoveling mac and cheese into his mouth.
“Anyway, I thought what he—she—did took a lot of courage. It was a very brave move.”
Clarissa shoved her chair back from the table. “Dad. I really need to get back to Jesse. Is this all?”
It was Dane’s turn to roll his eyes. They were going to make it difficult for him to build up to his revelation. Maybe that was good. Sort of like being pushed out of an airplane when you first skydive….
“Jenner—Caitlyn was very brave,” Dane repeated and found he couldn’t look at his children. He stared down at the table, feeling his breath quicken. Beads of sweat popped out on his forehead. He could feel them up there, and he swiped at them. “She had carried around something that was important to her being for so many years. I know she got lots of publicity, good and bad, and lots of money, but I still think to make the move she did, to live an honest life, was courageous. Don’t you?”
“Brave? To wear women’s underwear?” Joey snickered.
“What’s the point of all this?” Clarissa asked, finally glancing up from the screen on her phone.
Maybe you should do this another time. No. That would just be taking an easy out. These are kids. Another time is not going to be any different. You know that. You know them. But it’s time to take off the gloves. Maybe the object lesson would be good in a classroom, but a family kitchen? Forget it! Dane chuckled to himself. That seemed to get their attention. Both of them looked up.
“What?” Clarissa asked.
Dane blew out a big sigh. Out with it. “I was talking about Jenner to make a point. Jenner the man waited until he was sixty-five to come out—”
“Wait a minute! Dad’s gonna tell us he’s gonna become a woman!” Joey said, and both he and his sister collapsed in laughter.
This was not going the way Dane anticipated. At all.
“Yeah. He’ll need, like, size seventeen pumps!”
That tickled the two of them even more. Dane just stared.
When his children saw he was not joining them in the hilarity, their laughter dried up quickly. Clarissa’s mouth dropped open.
“You’re not. Are you? I mean, transitioning….”
Dane shook his head. “What do you think? I’d make a hideous woman. What I’m trying to say, Joey, Clarissa, is that I’ve had feelings for many years. Not feelings that I was in the wrong body, but feelings that I hid away, mostly from myself, but also from everyone I knew, including your mom, God rest her soul.”
He regarded his children at the table. Any vestige of joking or laughter had left their faces. He was certain they had no idea what was coming, but he wondered if there was something, instinctive maybe, within them that told them to brace themselves.
In the end there was no way to say it other than just to say it. He felt a curious sensation—a tightening inside. He felt he was steeling himself. He breathed out—whoosh—and said it. “I’m gay.”
Joey picked up a radish from his salad and flung it at him. “You are not! Dude, please!”
Clarissa shoved back her chair. “This has all been very fun, although I’m not certain I understand the point of it, but can I go to my room now? Please.”
Dane reached out, took Joey’s hand, took Clarissa’s. “Kids. I’m serious. This is something I’ve struggled against my whole life. Losing your mom has made me see how little time we have, and I just can’t live a lie anymore.”
Clarissa snatched her hand away. She looked up at him with wounded eyes. “Just to be sure. You’re not punking us here? This isn’t a joke?”
Dane shook his head.
There was something snide to her tone, but underneath that Dane could read hope. Hope that he’d confirm he was having them on, kidding around.
“It’s not a joke. This doesn’t change anything. I’m still your dad, still the same guy. I’m still here for you. I still love you—with every fiber of my being.”
Clarissa stood up from the table so fast her chair toppled over to the tile floor behind her. Dane could see she was shaking, and it made his heart ache.
“It doesn’t change anything?” Her voice went up high. “It doesn’t change anything? Are you out of your mind? It changes everything!”
She screeched this last bit, but Dane could see unshed tears standing in her eyes.
God. I should have kept this to myself. What’s said can never be unsaid. What have I done? What Pandora’s box have I opened? Dane said softly, “You’re right. It changes things. Changes who you thought I was, and that’s not small. But what I was trying to say—badly, I guess—was that it doesn’t change what’s essential—my love for you and your brother. The fact that I will be here for you both, always.”
Clarissa was shaking her head. “You’re unbelievable. Fucking unbelievable.”
Even Joey’s mouth dropped open as he stared, slack-jawed, at his sister. “Chill. Can’t you see this is hard for him?”
Dane looked over at his son. He was still holding his hand, and Joey smiled at him and squeezed. The tiny gesture made Dane want to cry. If you had asked him, before he told them this essential truth, which kid would have a problem with it, Joey was the one he would have picked.
“Hard for him?” Clarissa’s lips nearly vanished into a thin horizontal line.
Dane always thought the descriptor of someone’s eyes blazing was hyperbole, purple prose, but now in his daughter’s brown eyes, he saw it really happen.
“Please, honey,” Dane said, reaching out with his other hand.
She backed away, looking down at his hand with horror, as if it was diseased. “No! No! So, what? You used Mom all these years to hide behind?”
She took a couple more steps back toward the kitchen’s exit. “And what? Now that she’s gone, you can be free to be your faggot self?”
“Stop it!” Joey cried. “That’s too harsh.”
Dane didn’t know what to say and cursed himself for it. Mutely, he looked from one child to the other.
Clarissa turned and walked out of the room, calling over her shoulder, “The only thing that’s harsh is finding out we have a liar for a dad.”
Dane slumped. Joey pulled his hand away, but only to pat his dad’s shoulder.
“She doesn’t mean it. She’s just, um, like, surprised, you know?” He squeezed Dane’s shoulder. “It is an awful lot to take in. Dude, are you sure?”
Dane made himself look at his son. He nodded. “I’m sure.”
Teacher Dane Bernard is a gentle giant, loved by all at Summitville High School. He has a beautiful wife, two kids, and an easy rapport with staff and students alike. But Dane has a secret, one he expects to keep hidden for the rest of his life—he’s gay.
But when he loses his wife, Dane finally confronts his attraction to men. And a new teacher, Seth Wolcott, immediately catches his eye. Seth himself is starting over, licking his wounds from a breakup. The last thing Seth wants is another relationship—but when he spies Dane on his first day at Summitville High, his attraction is immediate and electric.
As the two men enter into a dance of discovery and new love, they’re called upon to come to the aid of bullied gay student Truman Reid. Truman is out and proud, which not everyone at his small-town high school approves of. As the two men work to help Truman ignore the bullies and love himself without reservation, they all learn life-changing lessons about coming out, coming to terms, acceptance, heartbreak, and falling in love.
BUY–35% OFF RIGHT NOW!
Dreamspinner Press ebook: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=7583
Dreamspinner Press paperback: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=7584
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). He is also a Rainbow Award Winner for both Caregiver and Raining Men. 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.”
Email ID: firstname.lastname@example.org
March 14, 2016
Who doesn’t love Paris? And Paris in the spring may be my favorite season. Rather than try to put into words things that defy explanation, I thought you might enjoy seeing some pictures of just why I love it so much.
This isn’t any special street. It’s actually right up the street from our hotel, but turn your head and suddenly you’re staring at the Eiffel Tower.
Or at other pieces of interesting architecture. Notice the tile design on the roof line of the curved turret.
This one goes to show one of my favorite things about France. Old buildings aren’t torn down. They’re repurposed for a new and different use.
Okay, enough architecture. How about some spring pictures…?
Not every day is beautiful in Paris, but even the dreary ones are dramatic.
And if you know the right people, you might even get…
Lambs! (Okay, so that one doesn’t have anything to do with Paris, but it is in France in the spring and it was too cute not to share.)
Now that I’ve spammed you with pictures, you’re probably wondering what that has to do with At Your Service. Anthony has the chance to visit Paris in the spring as part of his job, and the last day he’s there is one much like I had when I took the first set of pictures (along with the hundred others I didn’t make you look at). He and Paul, a native Parisian, spend the day in the city doing their best to avoid tourist spots. They wander the residential streets and an out-of-the-way park and bask in the glory of Paris.
“What a perfect day!” Anthony said as they climbed the stairs to street level at their destination. “I’m not sure I’ve ever been in Paris on a day like this.”
“Have you ever been in Paris in the spring?” Paul asked. “Because this is not unusual for this time of year.”
“No, it’s either been in the summer when it was hot and not a breath of air to be found in the city or in the winter when it was cold and gray. Before I came in the summer the first time, I used to joke that the pictures on the postcards with blue skies behind the monuments were staged, with a huge blue cloth hung behind the buildings. I’d seen the buildings, but never the blue sky.”
“Then I’m glad we decided to spend the day outside,” Paul said. “You can visit the museums on cold, rainy winter days or the hot summer ones when you have to escape to somewhere with air-conditioning.”
“I’ve done plenty of escaping both kinds of weather, but not today. Come on. I want to see the park.”
“Let’s find food first. We can carry it with us until we’re ready to eat, but otherwise we’d have to come back out of the park when we get hungry,” Paul suggested, although the eagerness on Anthony’s face made him want to hurry so he could see Anthony’s reaction to the park. He didn’t come all the way across town often, but he had attended a cousin’s wedding several years ago and remembered well the manicured lawns and ornate stonework of the follies. They could easily spend hours wandering through the park, and this way they could do it undisturbed.
They found a charcuterie nearby and stocked up on ham and thinly sliced sausage, and the bakery next door netted them two baguettes to share. They walked back to the main entrance of the park through the wrought-iron gates tipped with gold leaf. “Even away from the center of town, everything is so ornate,” Anthony commented.
When Anthony Mercer walked into Au cœur du terroir, he was looking for good food and a pleasant evening spent with a friend. He never expected to meet—and sleep with—Paul Delescluse, a waiter at the restaurant. After spending a magical week together in Paris, Anthony must return to his life in North Carolina, while Paul remains in France.
Despite the distance and the lack of promises between them—Paul wants sex, not a relationship—Paul and Anthony forge a solid friendship. Then Anthony’s job takes him back to Paris, this time to stay. Paul is thrilled to have him back, but Anthony has a harder choice: be another of Paul’s conquests or fight for the relationship he knows they could have, if only Paul would believe it.
Still with me? Awesome! Share a picture of springtime in your favorite place to be entered to win a copy of At Your Service!
When Ariel Tachna was twelve years old, she discovered two things: the French language and romance novels. Those two loves have defined her ever since. By the time she finished high school, she’d written four novels, none of which anyone would want to read now, featuring a young woman who was—you guessed it—bilingual. That girl was everything Ariel wanted to be at age twelve and wasn’t.
She now lives on the outskirts of Houston with her husband (who also speaks French), her kids (who understand French even when they’re too lazy to speak it back), and their two dogs (who steadfastly refuse to answer any French commands).
February 12, 2016
If any of my family or anyone I grew up with reads Mute Witness (published by Dreamspinner’s sister house, DSP Publications and out on February 3, 2016), they’ll know I based the town in the book, Summitville, PA, on my own hometown of East Liverpool, OH.
In the book, I describe Summitville like this:
As Sean drove through the streets of Summitville, with their curves and rises as the concrete mapped out a destination on the hills, he couldn’t help but think what a contrast the little city presented: the beauty of the hills, rising up above the town, tree-covered, the Ohio River twisting through its valley, all scarred by the evidence of human habitation. The houses perched, clinging to the hillsides, most of them in need of paint or repair, the rusting carcasses of cars littering many of the driveways. People, too poor to afford air conditioning, sat on front porch stoops fanning themselves, staring dumbly at the traffic passing their homes. Sean wondered why he even bothered to live there. He was a good, if not great, writer, passable enough to maybe not write the great American novel as he had once dreamed of doing, but adequate enough to at least work at a larger newspaper in someplace like Pittsburgh or maybe even Chicago. But he knew the reason he stayed. And it wasn’t because his roots were here. Nor was it because of Austin, whom he had once figured would be happy to pull up stakes and follow him anywhere. Nor was it because of his job, which valued his writing ability at the majestic sum of $32,000 per year.
No, he stayed because of Jason. To be near his little boy. The only child he would ever have. He wanted to watch his son grow up, to shepherd him to adulthood, to make sure he grew up compassionate….
An article on rustwire.com “East Liverpool and the Unforgiving Economy of Rural Appalachia”, (from 2014) describes East Liverpool today sadly, yet accurately. Just a disclaimer—this little town is where my roots and most of my family and some dear old friends are, so I don’t mean to disparage, but only to illuminate my inspiration for the fictional town of Summitville. I think it’s interesting to see how a kind of grim story arose from these grim surroundings.
But, like the fictional town and the real one, and the book and real life, where hope lives, redemption can arise. Read for yourself and see.
“About 100 miles Southeast of Cleveland, nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, along the Ohio River sits the small city of East Liverpool, Ohio. Once known as the pottery capitol of the world, many of the China and glassware factories have closed, as have the steel mills where many East Liverpool residents once worked. In its heyday during World War II, almost 50,000 people lived in East Liverpool. Today the city’s population tops off at just above 10,000.
“Nearly 30 percent of all residents live below the poverty level. The per capita income is just more than $16,000. The unemployment rate is 13 percent. It’s a city where almost every second or third house seems to be abandoned, and not just abandoned. Some are burnt out. Some are falling down. The locals talk about the incessant and merciless drug traffic. They say dealers have come up to the city from the east coast – having found a robust market for heroin and other opiates. The drug trade wreaks constant havoc on the streets. In late September, five people were shot there in a single night.”
The abuse of a little boy turns a community against a loving gay couple, and nobody comes out of it unscathed.
Sean and Austin have the perfect life: new love, a riverfront home, security. Their love for one another is only multiplied when Sean’s eight-year-old son, Jason, visits on the weekends.
And then their perfect world shatters.
Jason goes missing.
When the boy turns up days later, he’s been so horribly abused he’s lost the power to speak. Immediately small town minds turn to the boy’s gay father and his lover as the likely culprits. What was a warm, welcoming community becomes a lynching party out for blood.
As Sean and Austin struggle to stay together amidst innuendo, the very real threat of Sean losing the son he loves emerges. Yet the true villain is much closer to home, intent on ensuring the boy’s muteness is permanent.
DSP Publications ebook: https://www.dsppublications.com/books/mute-witness-by-rick-r-reed-206-b
DSP Publications paperback: https://www.dsppublications.com/books/mute-witness-by-rick-r-reed-207-b
Note: When you buy the paperback from DSP Publications, you get the ebook for FREE.
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). He is also a Rainbow Award Winner for both Caregiver and Raining Men. 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.”
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/rickrreedbooks
February 10, 2016
Hi! I’m Lane Swift, and I’m excited to be able to share some of the things that inspired the writing of my newly-released novella, Dormant Heart.
About a year ago, someone on my Facebook feed linked to an article posted on “We The Urban,” a Tumblr account dedicated to fashion and art, showcasing the photography of Katerina Plotnikova.
The photographs were amazing. Plotinikova had photographed models in fairytale-like poses with various animals, from foxes to bears to snakes. They were romantic and utterly compelling. A friend of mine, similarly moved, left a comment on the Facebook post along the lines of, “I need the story! Except with a man, and he can’t speak.”
I don’t know what possessed me to think I could write that story, except that I had building work going on in my house at the time, and I was stressed, and looking for a light-hearted project to work on. In the end, that obscure plot bunny became Dormant Heart and it turned out rather deeper and more emotional than I thought it would.
It was an easy decision to set Dormant Heart in the woods on the South Downs, which are a few miles from where I live in Hampshire, in the south of England, and somewhere that I regularly cross-country run. England is a small country, and it might be hard to believe that it’s possible to get lost in our tiny stretches of countryside. Believe me, it is. Only last weekend, I got lost in the woods on a run and ended up trespassing on a country estate, in the middle of a shooting range, a field away from a huge herd of deer!
Once I had the setting, Josh had to have a reason for being lost in the woods with a camera. That was as much as I had of a plan!
I’d intended to write a short story, 20k words maximum, told entirely from Josh’s point of view. But as Callum started to evolve as a character, I realized he needed a “voice,” so to speak. So, the second half of the story was written from Callum’s point of view, and the word count went up to 30k. Then my first reader told me that I’d ended the story too soon—and there were other scenes that needed more detail. By the end, this short story had grown into a novella of 50k words. Almost a novel! All that, through banging and drilling and regular interruptions for cups of tea and biscuits (English builders really do need to be fed and watered every couple of hours).
Ordinarily, I like to work in silence. However, I always, always make a playlist for whatever story I’m writing, and use it to get me into a mood, or zone. I might play the music while I’m running, or doing things like driving, housework or cooking. For Dormant Heart, I listened almost exclusively to London Grammar, particularly their songs, “Hey Now” (the live KEXP version on Youtube is stunning), “Wasting My Young Years” and “Night Call” (a Kavinsky cover).
I like a wide variety of music, from many eras, and usually my playlists feature at least ten or fifteen songs, each from different artists. But London Grammar’s songs seemed to completely capture the mood of this story, most especially Callum’s mental state. I have no doubt that in this instance, the music definitely shaped the direction the story took, and inspired its overall tone. Again, this wasn’t what I was expecting to happen. London Grammar’s musical style isn’t one I usually listen to—it’s described as ambient or trip hop (don’t ask me to explain what that is!). Nonetheless, I haven’t tired of their sound, despite the hundreds, maybe thousands, of times I’ve listened to their songs since April last year.
(I did also listen to Don Henley’s song, “Boys of Summer” more than several times. You’ll find out why if you read the story!)
What about you? I’d love for you to tell me about a song that has inspired or inspires you, and in what way. Leave your answer in a comment before 14th February for a chance to win a $10 credit for Dreamspinner Press.
Check out Dormant Heart here!
Amateur photographer Josh Thornton is out but not so proud. He’s estranged from his family, his boyfriend dumped him, and his job at an estate agency is in jeopardy—especially after he crashes his boss’s car in the middle of nowhere on his way to Hartley Manor.
Callum Black works at the English country estate and lives there in an isolated cottage. Left mute by a childhood accident, he’s more comfortable in the company of animals than people. But when Josh—literally—crashes into his life with his camera and his friendship, Callum realizes his peaceful solitude has been more than a little lonely.
Josh’s affection for Callum deepens even as he’s consumed by doubts over Callum’s sexuality and whether Callum could ever love him. And Callum is haunted by the secret that stole his voice—a secret that keeps him tethered to Hartley Manor. When the past comes hurtling painfully back into the present, Josh and Callum have to overcome their fears and breathe life back into their dormant hearts in order to have a chance at their own picture-perfect future.
You can find out more about me, Lane Swift, at:
Or you can email me at email@example.com
January 6, 2016
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.
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:
Check out Fixer-Upper by Meg Harding – out today!
December 30, 2015
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!
December 27, 2015
Hi everyone. I’m Lillian Francis and my novel New Lease of Life was released two days ago on Christmas Day. Don’t worry, it’s not a belated Christmas story but it is a story about giving, forgiveness, and charity.
Setting this story in the world of charity shops and vintage clothing gave me an opportunity to do something quite alien to me…fawn over clothes.
I’m not a girly girl, anyone that met me at the UK Meet will attest to that fact. I’m a jeans, Converse, and geeky t-shirts kind of girl—although, to be fair, my girlhood was long ago in a galaxy far, far away. Give me a superhero or obtuse Monty Python reference, especially some type of mashup, and I’m as happy as a pig in muck. You can keep your Jimmy Choo’s and D&G, if anyone can find me a Torchwood/Avenue Q T-shirt I’ll be your friend for life. And the day I can afford a hand-painted pair of Converse with Deadpool on one foot and Spiderman on the other… *happy sigh*
Anyway, I digress. Playing dress up in Pip’s vintage clothing donation and Colby’s charity shop gave me the opportunity to explore the type of clothes I’d love to be able to wear if I could rock that androgynous look. Brocade waistcoats and tweed jackets, slim trousers and suede shoes. A boating blazer the envy of Henley—okay, I totally had one of those, in fact the colour combination of Pip’s was the exact copy of the one I owned when I was 15–and 1930s Fair Isle knits.
I browsed tweed websites for that mix and match layered look. I spent hours picking just the right waistcoat for Colby to have in the shop–it’s here on my Pinterest and yes, Pip is wearing it in the mirror on Paul Richmond’s amazing cover. Google now send me ads for hospitality tents at Henley and people with an interest in tweed now follow me on Pinterest for Pip’s NLOL board. Possibly I indulged myself more than necessary but I had fun doing it.
If I were a boy…
I’d embrace my new body and dress like Pip does in the mirror.
Or maybe I’d end up in my normal ‘uniform’ of jeans and geeky T-shirt.
Is there any style of clothing you wish you could wear but you don’t because it doesn’t suit your body shape/life style/other people’s expectations/budget?
And can anybody tell me why a Torchwood/Avenue Q mashup is my holy grail?
About the Author
Lillian Francis is an English writer who likes to dabble in many genres but always seems to return to the here and now.
Her name may imply a grand dame in pink chiffon and lace, but Lillian is more at home in jeans, Converse, and the sort of T-shirts that often need explaining to the populous at large but will get a fist bump at Comic-Con. Lillian is a self-confessed geek who likes nothing more than settling down with a comic or a good book, except maybe writing. Given a notepad, pen, her Kindle, and an infinite supply of chocolate Hob Nobs and she can lose herself for weeks. Romance was never her reading matter of choice, so it came as a great surprise to all concerned, including herself, to discover a romance was exactly what she’d written, and not the rollicking spy adventure or cozy murder mystery she always assumed she’d write. Luckily there is always room for romance no matter what plot bunny chooses to bite her, so never say never to either of those stories appearing.
Lillian lives in an imposing castle on a windswept desolate moor or in an elaborate shack on the edge of a beach somewhere, depending on her mood. And while she’d love for the heroes of her stories to either be chained up in the dungeon or wandering the shack serving drinks in nothing but skimpy barista aprons more often than not they are doing something far less erotic like running charity shops and shoveling elephant shit.
Drawn to the ocean, although not in a Reginald Perrin sort of way, she would love to own a camper van and to live by the sea.
Find her at:
December 9, 2015
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!
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.”
“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.
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.
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!
Dreamspinner Author Page: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/index.php?cPath=879
November 23, 2015
I thought I’d post a picture of one of Ronnie’s cars. This is one of his Lamborghinis.
November 23, 2015
For years, Clayton Potter’s been friends and workout partners with Ronnie. Though Clay is attracted, he’s never come on to Ronnie because, let’s face it, Ronnie only dates women.
When Clay’s father suffers a heart attack, Ronnie, having recently lost his dad, springs into action, driving Clay to the hospital over a hundred miles away. To stay close to Clay’s father, the men share a hotel room near the hospital, but after an emotional day, one thing leads to another, and straight-as-an-arrow Ronnie make a proposal that knocks Clay’s socks off! Just a little something to take the edge off.
Clay responds in a way he’s never considered. After an amazing night together, Clay expects Ronnie to ignore what happened between them and go back to his old life. Ronnie surprises him and seems interested in additional exploration. Though they’re friends, Clay suddenly finds it hard to accept the new Ronnie and suspects that Ronnie will return to his old ways. Maybe they both have a thing or two to learn.
Purchase a copy:
I changed in the locker room while Ronnie talked to everyone. His big personality was back, and it was good to see. After filling my water bottle, I went up to the mezzanine to the treadmills. I got on one, dropped my phone into one of the cup holders, then started the machine and began my workout. I had a good view of the workout floor, so I watched as the others went through their routines, talking constantly as they did. A few times I saw Ronnie glance up, making the occasional rude gesture and then grinning like a naughty child. I was about to give him one back when my phone rang. I picked it up and answered it.
“Is this Clayton Potter?” I heard a strange voice ask.
“Yes, it is,” I answered, figuring this was some sort of telemarketing call. I made a mental note to check the do-not-call lists.
“I’m Dr. Greenway down at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. Your father listed you as next of kin. He was brought in earlier today. I’m afraid he’s had as many as three strokes in the past few hours.”
Hearing the word stroke, I forgot what I was doing or where I was. The machine kept working even as I stopped, and it pushed me off the back. I stumbled and managed to keep from crashing to the floor but ended up in a heap nonetheless as my legs gave out.
“Mr. Potter, are you all right?”
“I don’t know” was the only answer I could form. My head buzzed and my ears rang, hands and legs tingling. “How is he now?”
“Howard is stable at the moment, but he’s slipped into a coma. Part of it is the body’s way of protecting itself. We need to run some more tests to determine the cause of the strokes, and then we may need to perform surgery to try to correct the blockage in his neck. Is it possible for you to get here? We will need permission to perform the surgery. I can do emergency surgery without it, but I would prefer we time this as best we can.”
“Yes. I’ll see about leaving as soon as I can.” I stared at the phone, sitting on the floor while other people began gathering around me. I scanned the faces, people I didn’t know all asking questions that didn’t seem to register. Then Ronnie pushed his way in, and I took a deep breath as the fog over my mind lifted somewhat.
“It’s my dad,” I told him. Those words galvanized Ronnie into action. He helped me to my feet and grabbed my things from the machine before turning it off.
“What happened to him?” Ronnie asked.
“Stroke,” I answered. “Got to get to Johns Hopkins.”
Ronnie stared into my eyes. “You can’t drive. Not like this.” Even as he said the words, he was already leading me down the steps and toward the locker room. “Change your clothes.” He left me in front of my locker, and I stared at it, forcing my hands to work. I pulled off my gym clothes and got back into the regular ones. By the time I was done, Ronnie was dressed.
“Where are you going?” I asked.
“My dad was at Hopkins,” Ronnie told me, and then he snatched up my bag and took me by the arm. My head was clearing, and the feeling was returning in my arms and legs, but I still felt shaky on my feet. He half propelled me toward the door, stopped at the desk briefly, and then we continued outside.
“My car is over there,” I said, but Ronnie guided me to his and somehow managed to get both gym bags in the tiny trunk of the Lamborghini.
“I’m taking you down.” He unlocked the car and lifted the door upward. It felt like I was still almost on the ground once I got in. Ronnie pushed the door down to close it and came around to the driver’s side. As soon as he got in, he started the engine, which roared to life, and within minutes we were out of the lot and entering the freeway.
“You don’t have to do this,” I said, a little belatedly, though I was pleased he thought enough of me to take this much care. Ronnie and I were friends, but he was a very busy man whose time was extremely valuable.
“Of course I do.” Ronnie reached over and patted my leg a few times, then returned his hand to the wheel. “When my dad was in the hospital, you came in all the time, talked to him and Mom.” Ronnie’s voice faltered for a few seconds. “She told me how you used to sit with her and just listen while she spouted all kinds of crap. Her words. She said she needed someone to talk with, and you were there.” Ronnie continued driving as I stared out the window. I’d made the drive from Harrisburg to Baltimore more times than I could count. It had been just my dad and me for a long time.