March 23, 2017
Football, the Patriots, and an Out of Control Imagination—Just another day in the life of Leigh Carman.
Hello fellow readers of Dreamspinner! I’m Leigh Carman and today marks the release of Fair Catch, book 2 in the Players of LA series. Don’t worry, they’re standalone novels, but characters from other books do make cameos from time to time just to keep things fun and interesting.
I’d like to talk sports for a minute. After spending the first 27 years of my life in New England, yes, I’m a die-hard Patriots fan. I know, I know. Most of you are tired of hearing about the Pats and their many, many, many Superbowl rings. I get it. But hey, that doesn’t mean it isn’t still completely awesome for my team to win! Well, after writing book 1 in the Players of LA series as a result of accidentally watching a men’s beach volleyball tournament on TV, I couldn’t help but turn to my favorite sport, football, as my muse for book 2.
Plucked directly from the ranks of my home team, I created Sullivan “Van” Archer, an amazingly talented, very tall, very hunky, and very blond wide receiver (those of you with any knowledge of the Patriots will easily figure out who was my inspiration for Van). To complete him, I came up with Van’s exact opposite, Toby Bennett, a slender, super flexible, fashion-challenged, yoga instructor. They are the yin and the yang that give us that oh-so-awesome friction and heat between the main characters, and trust me, when Van and Toby get together, the sparks burn hot enough to melt your e-reader.
I don’t know why I find professional athletes so fascinating. No, that’s a lie. It’s because I love strong, determined, and hard working, men, who possess that natural confidence I find undeniably hot. Believe me, when I watch sports with my husband, I can always count on him at some point, turning to stare at me with one eyebrow raised. He knows exactly what goes through my head when I see two attractive athletes fight and tussle on the screen—1) How can I put this in a book? and 2) What would happen if the men were secret lovers? We all have our weaknesses, mine just happens to be a very overactive imagination.
That’s how Fair Catch came to be. I hope you enjoy reading Van and Toby’s story. It’s been a long time in the making. I know a fair amount of you will ask about Toby’s BFF, the loud and proud Leo Greenway. Don’t worry, you’ll find out all about Leo and his brightly colored Chucks soon enough. He’s currently a work in progress, but I’m just about finished helping him find the love of his life.
I mentioned my favorite sport is football. Now it’s my turn to ask you a couple of questions. What is your favorite sport? Or your favorite team or even favorite athlete? Just comment below. Bonus points to anyone who guesses my inspiration for Van Archer.
Check out Fair Catch today!
One night of passion.
They never expected to see each other again.
They were wrong.
Tobias Bennett is a quiet and unassuming man who teaches yoga and enjoys parkour. Though he is proud to be gay, an abusive relationship with a domineering man has left Tobias wary of romance, and he keeps to himself in his tidy Los Angeles apartment.
Pro football player Sullivan Archer is Tobias’s complete opposite: loud, brash, fond of the spotlight… and deep in the closet. When a hamstring injury sends Van to Tobias as part of his therapy, neither of them is expecting to come face-to-face with his one-night stand. Now they’re stuck together throughout Van’s healing process, and the close proximity will force them to deal with some hard truths. For Tobias, it’s realizing his hookup is a celebrity. For Van, it means accepting that he likes Tobias more than he wanted. They’ll both have to acknowledge that if they choose to pursue a relationship, their lives will change in big ways.
About the Author:
Leigh Carman was born and raised in New England with all of its fall foliage and winter snow. She escaped to the South, where she currently lives outside Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband, two kids, and French Bulldog, Shelby.
She loves the Red Sox, the Patriots, and anything chocolate (but not white chocolate—everyone knows it’s not real chocolate so it doesn’t count), and has left explicit instructions in her will to have her ashes snuck into Fenway Park and sprinkled all over while her family enjoys beer, hot dogs, and a wicked good time.
Leigh also writes M/F dark romance under the name Heather C. Leigh. She also loves exploring the underbelly of fame and the crushing weight of those under the microscope 24/7.
March 22, 2017
Of all five books that I’ve been fortunate enough to have Dreamspinner publish, this one is the closest to my heart, in that it’s semi-autobiographical. Like Nick in the story, I did graduate from San Francisco State University with a BA & MA in theater and a minor in Art. Instead of taking a great teaching job at San Francisco City College (where I would eventually become head of the entire drama department–with, at that time, a highly unusual for a college, top of the line professional Eisenhower light board and automatic scene changing system–I fell into the “lure of the big time” and came to New York.
I’d been lucky enough to get an Equity card in S.F. by playing The Boy’s Father in the ongoing production of The Fantasticks! at Ghirardelli Square. However, this turned out to be false security, as I soon found out that whenever I entered an audition space, there were about fifty other guys who looked exactly like me! Finally, I was fortunate enough to get an audition for a projected musical titled Mata Hari (which never made it to Broadway) and I’d always been shaky singing since a choir director once said to me when I was about twelve years old, “I think you’d better go home, and come back when your voice finishes changing.” Traumatized for life, I went home and didn’t murmur a musical sound until I tried out for West Side Story at school (I loved, loved, loved musicals, even then – nothing like the almost off-tune sound of a pit orchestra) and, lo and behold, got the part of Bernardo! That settled my fate going forward! But at the N.Y. audition, I was so nervous (the audition was in the afternoon, on the stage of a Broadway theater and it looked like a million empty seats staring back at me). I’d chosen an old standard, My Funny Valentine, and just before I started to warble, my knees began to shake, and my voice kept going up and up as I sharped through the whole song. As I left, I hoped the people in the wings, who were waiting their turn, wouldn’t have noticed. I figured they did, because they all looked at the stage floor as I walked passed them! Embarrassment to the nth degree!
At any rate, disappointed by events, I did, like Nick, start my own company (yes, called A Company of Players) where I directed five plays (before my money ran out!). And again, drawing from my own past, I wrote a play entitled, Starting Over which was accepted (six out of sixty) for the Ninth Annual Fresh Fruit Festival here in N.Y. And, again, like Nick, I had two young people who didn’t learn their lines and I almost had to cancel the play . . . and . . . a “method actress” (a former FBI agent – I can’t make this stuff up) who made me crazy, just like Rosie does for Nick.
All the theater references are spot on, as I literally lived them myself. I do try to place my stories in New York to try and get a real authentic feel for the setting. And, being originally from San Francisco, I did actually ride the cable cars going to my dentist, and I did go to the Fairmont Hotel, and other hotels for formal affairs when in college. And, the street (Powell Street) is actually so steep that it has stairs on the sidewalk and when you have to stop at the top of the hill you’d better have your hand on the emergency brake and your foot hovering over the brake and the gas pedal, because when the light turns green, heaven forbid that you slip back, as you’ll crash into the car behind you (undoubtedly irritating the other driver just a bit).
So, that’s some of the events that I used in the story, and I hope all this information is interesting and helps! I tried to make this blog more chatty than the others so it would be different!
Check out A Company of Players today!
Leaving romantic wreckage behind him, Nick Charles and his best friend Barb Anderson use Nick’s sizable inheritance to fly to one of the most exciting places in the world—New York City—with plans to open their own theater. In doing so, they meet Ross Taylor, the handsome real estate man and actor, and Rudy his construction-worker cousin. Ross is determined to heal Nick’s fragile heart, while shy Rudy and oblivious Barb stumble toward their own connection. Will Rosie Dupree, a rigid method actress, and talented but devious Gordon Holmes destroy their theater dreams? Was choosing the original piece, Starting Over, by an unpublished young playwright the best move for opening night? Will the invited critic show up? Amid the frantic and colorful world of the New York City theater scene, Nick and Barb must open their hearts and risk everything for their endeavors to succeed—both on the stage and behind the scenes.
States of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the United States.
About the Author:
Ken Bachtold graduated from San Francisco State University with a BA and an MA in acting and directing and a minor in art. Passing up a great teaching job and surrendering to the “lure of the big-time,” he came to New York. After pounding the pavement and finding it wanting, he decided to shape his own destiny and founded A Company of Players Repertory Theatre, producing and directing five plays. Always an avid reader, his two Kindles probably store 500 books, mostly MM romance. Often frustrated at finding exactly the type of story he favored, he thought, What the hell, I should write one. And so he did!
March 15, 2017
Hi there. I’m Cy Blanca, and I have no idea what I’m doing. But before we get into that, I must extend a huge thank-you to the Dreamspinner Press family. Thank you for taking a chance on me. When I say I have no idea what I’m doing, that’s 64089% the truth. I’ve spent all my adult writing life (that is post high school) writing editorials and reviews for other people. Fiction is new territory for me, and for DSP to give me a chance really means so much. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you!
Now with all the gushy stuff out of the way….
Seeing as this is a house that publishes stories of m/m love, I wanted to write about something we can all relate to on at least living vicariously through these characters: romance. I’m not going to wax philosophical (though this early in the morning I’m sure I could come up with some things to say that are both overblown and somewhat space-age-y, but let’s not). What I really want to focus on is the ways in which romance manifest themselves in this story, what it means to my two characters—because romance is probably the main reason why their relationship has worked for so long.
Curtis Ramírez is a poet. Period. His love of words is more than just an appreciation for language. It suffuses everything he does, everything he says. Words have become stitched into his DNA. Just breathing, walking, tasting is poetry. There’s no greater expression of that poetry than when he’s around his lover, Antony James. Antony has a less abstract approach to life, but romance is no less part of his character. He’s brash and unshy, but there’s a softness to him that speaks to Curt, an intangible silkiness that forces Curt to act.
When I was writing these two characters, I put so much of who I am into their creation. I’m more Curt than Antony, what with his love affair with language and his affinity for all things pretty and decadent. However, Antony and I both share a love of really good food and soft kisses, and we both need to feel reassured that they’re safe with the people around them from time to time. Both men are fiercely protective of each other and the people they care about. With that in mind, I had to set about creating a romance that was believable but maybe just a little bit fantastic in scope.
I draw much of my inspiration from music. In fact, most everything I write has a melody in it, something that physically moved me and gave me the emotional weight I needed for each scene. Considering just how in love the two of them are with each other, the music I listened to had to evoke this sense of abundant romance. There was a lot of D’Angelo, Van Hunt, and as I referenced in the story itself, Najubes. All of these artists in their own way know how to bring out the sensuality in the very air they breathe. Scenes that were playful and flirtatious had hints of Amel Larrieux and Van Hunt, while the rawer, more sexual situations were Maxwell, Nujabes, and Anderson .Paak. I wonder what everyone else listens to to create that candlelight and champagne mood between their boys—or with their own significant others. One can never have too much baby-makin’ music.
As much as I wanted the physical feel of my story to come from music, the more tender moments I drew on my experience in college. I got my degree in English writing with a focus on poetry. I can’t even hide it. Curt is most definitely a product of my experiences, while Antony is sort of an augmentation of my personality—maybe bordering on id territory….
When it came to fleshing out a story between them, it all started with a scene. I knew my guys were going to be completely involved with each other. With that—especially in a school setting—comes certain… complications. They want and need to be around each other, especially Curt—he is a poet after all. That idea, the image of needing a moment to reconnect physically, was the first image in my head when I decided to write about my birthplace, Topeka, KS. From there the story of these two men came to me.
Two gorgeous black men in love and incapable of hiding it. Oh, the places they went in my head before I settled where they finally went (not too far, in the end. They are teachers at a primary school after all). That makes me wonder, where are some of the most interesting places people have become… needy? You know, that tense feeling where you just need to touch something? Mine is fairly innocuous, I’m afraid—a friend’s bedroom while there was a party going on in the living room…
But, hey, we can’t all be as adventurous as Curt and Antony, right?
Thank you all for letting me blather on. Thank you again to the amazing DSP family. You all have just made my first experience with a published piece of work so memorable and really fun!
If you’d like to get in touch with me, see exactly how nuts I am:
K-music Twitter: @mindlesscy (if you want to spazz about Korean music with me)
Check out A Teacher and a Poet today!
Shawnee County, Kansas, might not be the most accepting place for a gay couple, but boyfriends Antony James and Curtis Ramírez have made it their home. Both of them work at Pauline Central Primary School, and while Antony is content teaching, Curt would rather pursue his passion: poetry. He plans to resign, but he doesn’t get the chance.
Working together has its risks, and when a student witnesses Antony and Curt sneaking a kiss in the workroom, they’re reprimanded. The school board’s punishment is mild, but some members of the community aren’t willing to let the indiscretion go. That small mistake could cost Antony and Curt their home—or it could remind them that home is in the heart, and as long as they stay strong in their love, they’ll always have a place to belong.
States of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the United States.
Cy Blanca has enjoyed words since she was in elementary school. They hold magic powers for her, and she loves playing with them to see just what they can do. She got her degree in English poetry, but she’s been doing mostly editorial work for online magazines YAM Magazine, Rock ’N Seoul, and SeoulBeats (yeah… she loves Korean music and gets to interview folks and write about it). She’s exceptionally blessed to actually be able to do exactly what she went to school for, and fiction is a new avenue she’s trying to explore. Hopefully she can make some magic happen with the words she’s been in love with since she was in elementary school.
She’d love to hear from people who want to know a bit more about her, or just want to become homies.
March 15, 2017
When Dreamspinner first mentioned the idea of the States of Love series, I knew I needed to write for New Jersey. I’ve lived in NJ all my life. I’m so Jersey, I’ve never pumped my own gas. Heck, I’m so Jersey they even filmed an episode of the Sopranos in front of my childhood home.
For such a tiny state, Jersey has a lot of variety. There’s a dividing line between North, Central, and South Jersey, but the location of that line is not always agreed upon. I couldn’t tell you exactly where the split is between Yankees and Phillies fans (and let’s not even talk about the Mets fans:)
But for all our differences, there are a few things all native Jerseyans have in common – besides a hatred of traffic. The Jersey Shore is one of those places. Now, everyone has a different favorite, the shore is over 140 miles long after all.
I moved down the shore about fifteen years ago, and while that still doesn’t make me a local, it’s allowed me simple pleasures – like standing on the boardwalk in the January cold, watching the ocean slam against the rocks. Plus, the arcades are open (and heated) in the winter. There’s a reason I’ve racked up so many game tickets that I’m on a VIP list of points holders.
This is the world where I’ve set Love in the Time of Hurricanes. That magical vacation spot known as the Jersey shore, only long after the tourists have left, and just before the winter blows in. This world is new to Nick, the narrator of the story. He’s chosen to rent a shore house for the winter, to take a few classes at the local community college and figure himself out. He doesn’t expect to fall in love, but then again, he never expected to meet Lou.
I absolutely loved writing Lou. He’s adorable: loves to cook, has an appreciation for vintage things, and is ridiculously good at skee ball.
I hope you enjoy reading about these guys, and experiencing a little bit of my home state. I couldn’t live anywhere else (seriously, I’d have to learn how to pump my own gas!).
Tell me in the comments about your favorite place. Is it home? Is it the beach? Or maybe the mountains? All comments will be entered for a chance to win a $20 Dreamspinner Press Gift Certificate. (giveaway ends 3/31, midnight EST)
Oh, and I promise to tell the Sopranos story on my blog, so check me out on social media:
Check out Love in the Time of Hurricanes today!
The night Nick Henderson storms into Martelli’s Pizzeria, he’s just looking for something to eat. Along with dinner, he finds Lou Martelli—pizza cook extraordinaire and Jersey Shore native. Nick is renting a Shore house for the winter while taking classes at the local community college as he devises a way to escape the accounting major his father chose for him.
When Lou offers to show Nick around, heat flares between them as they realize they have more in common than domineering families. But it’s not all fun and games on the boardwalk. Hurricane Sandy blows ashore, changing the place Nick was starting to think of as home. His peace is shattered, and it will take everything he has to keep his relationship with Lou from being torn apart by the storm brewing around them.
States of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the United States.
CC Bridges is a mild-mannered librarian by day, but by night she writes about worlds of adventure and romance. When she’s not busy solving puzzles in an escape room, she can be found diving into comics or binge-watching superhero movies. She writes surrounded by books, spare computing equipment, a fluffy dog, and a long-suffering husband in the state of New Jersey. In 2011, she won a Rainbow Award for best gay sci-fi/futuristic novel.
March 9, 2017
This is my last post on the blog tour for my novel, The Sparky, which Dreamspinner has generously arranged for me. The other posts have been mostly about things in the book—rural Australia and its role in the story, music that appears in it and why, the novel Maurice and how that’s connected—but this one is just about some of what I’ve learnt in getting a first novel published.
When I’ve read blog posts or bios by other authors in the M/M romance space, I often see people who have dreamed about being a writer since they were fifteen, or eleven, or eight. That’s not me. It never occurred to me that I might like writing. I did like reading, but I was always the maths kid. Then I started writing a bit for myself, and it was fun. Then I wrote a little for others: I posted some free stories at nifty.org, which has rather a different audience from the M/M space. (Go pick a story at random, look at it, then come back. You’ll see the difference pretty quickly.) There were some criticisms—mostly along the lines that the characters didn’t get their kit off quickly enough, being too busy getting to know each other and falling in love—but on the whole the positive response was even more encouraging. Then, still writing for myself, I sent off a novel-length manuscript. I didn’t really know what I was doing, but I had looked up the publishers that some M/M writers I like had published with.
And Dreamspinner picked up The Sparky. I’ve really appreciated how organized and helpful they are, which is great for someone for whom writing is not their main job. And the editors were very helpful with suggested changes. (Thank you, kindly editors!) That’s where I really got to learn about the tension between writing for yourself—which I think is a pretty natural place to start—and writing for an audience. In part the tension comes from the writer knowing what’s happening behind the scenes, what motivates a character, and the editor seeing it with fresh eyes and realizing that what should be coming across actually isn’t. One instance for me was with Paul. The Sparky’s written in first person, from Aaron’s POV, so you pretty much always understand him and what motivates him. Paul, you only get him through Aaron. So I got back an edited manuscript which, starting from midway in the story, had comments like “Grr! Paul makes me really angry!” and “I don’t like Paul at this point!” And I thought, Really? I like him a lot. But I came to realise that that was because of things in his backstory that I hadn’t really brought out—they were all there in my head, but that’s not what writing is about. After editing, Paul’s maybe still a bit unconventional as M/M main characters go, a bit rough around the edges, but hopefully more understandable now.
The following Friday evening is when I meet Paul’s ex-wife Kaylee. Not meet, exactly. From my desk I hear some arguing in the street, sounding heated, and I hope it’s not a repeat of the disagreement between two drunken pub-goers from a few months ago that led to another neighbour’s car window being smashed.
So I go out my front door, and it’s Paul and a woman. Paul is facing away from me and doesn’t see me, but the woman scowls at me, so I put up my hands in a sorry-to-intrude-on-you way and go back inside. I sit at my desk again, and even though the window’s open because it’s been such a warm day—I don’t shut it, even though that would be polite—I don’t hear anything they’re saying, just the hisses and growls of bad feeling. It could be a disgruntled customer of Paul’s whose wiring is still faulty, I think, but that’s rather unlikely. Almost certainly Kaylee. I think she was pretty, although the scowl made it hard to tell.
I do see Paul carrying a sleeping Sam out to a car, and then Kaylee taking off with more of a screech of tyres than is strictly necessary.
Shortly after that Paul comes to my door.
“That was Kaylee.” The anger’s still there.
“She just came to get Sam—change of plan. She was supposed to pick her up tomorrow, but she’s just decided, just right now, that she’s leaving early in the morning, going somewhere with this new guy of hers, so it was more convenient for her to pick up Sam now, even though she’s already asleep.” The word “convenient” is layered with scorn.
“Want a beer?” I ask.
“I dunno what I want. Yeah, a beer, ta.”
When I come back with one, he takes it and puts it down on the table, and then grabs the bottom of my T-shirt and starts pulling it over my head. The beer will have to wait.
Check out The Sparky today!
Aaron’s been living in what his friend Howie calls a sexual desert. But an oasis appears on the horizon when Paul, a divorced electrician with a five-year-old daughter named Sam, moves in next door. He’s a country boy from northern Australia, and although he’s never been with a guy before, he has an impression that anything goes in the city. They find that the ordinary things in life—books, footie in the park, looking after Sam—lead them into an unlikely relationship.
But as their relationship slowly deepens, with Aaron spending time on Paul’s family’s cattle station, it becomes clear that Paul might have a harder time leaving the country behind. To him, happiness means a conventional life—including a mother for Sam. Being with his old friends convinces him he’s on the wrong path with Aaron, and he starts a relationship with a girl from his hometown. If he cannot find the courage to go after what he truly needs, he and Aaron will become nothing more than awkward neighbours.
Marek Moran is, in his day job, a computer science professor. If you want to know about shortest path graph algorithms, he’s your man. However, that’s probably not why you’re reading this. He currently lives in Sydney, Australia, and has previously lived in France, Germany and the US, enjoying travelling around and listening to people talk: he’s learnt to respond to enquiries after his wellbeing with a ça va merci, sehr gut danke or copacetic, thanks.
The only member of his book club to like George Eliot’s Mill on the Floss, he’s discovered that he enjoys writing romance as well as reading it; the other members of his book club don’t yet know this. He plays piano, squash, and his cards close to his chest. The Sparky is his first novel.
March 1, 2017
Hello everyone! I’m Lucie Archer, and I’m excited to be back on Dreamspinner’s blog today with my World of Love novella, My Paradise Is You. I had so much fun with my States of Love novella that I couldn’t resist giving it another go on a global scale, and I’m so happy I did!
When I saw the call for the World of Love series, I came up with several plot ideas set in different countries in various places, but in the end, Bermuda won my heart. During my early research I discovered Bermuda was not one solitary island like I had originally assumed but consisted of a group of 181 of them. That really sealed the deal for the castaway story I’ve wanted to write for a while.
Two guys, a small island, snark, banter, and a heaping help of sexual tension. That’s what I call a recipe for paradise!
I’ve never visited myself, but Bermuda has been on my bucket list forever. “Kokomo” by the Beach Boys was my favorite song when I was six, so I’ve had a fondness for the little island paradise for quite some time. Pink sand beaches, beautiful blue water, and some of the world’s best dive spots would be enough to entice most, but add in its rich military history and diverse culture, and you have the recipe for a place I’d never want to leave.
With the setting established, I turned my attention to the main characters. Marc’s occupation as a dive instructor felt like a no-brainer considering the abundance of shipwrecks and coral reefs that litter the ocean floor around Bermuda. He’s technically a local despite having mostly grown up in the southern United States, but I loved the juxtaposition of his familiarity with the islands in comparison to Ian’s, his fellow castaway.
That led me to the idea of polar opposites: one out and proud, the other closeted; one from a low socio-economic background, the other from a wealthy British family; one confident in who he is, the other struggling with who he wants to be. And if that wasn’t already a recipe for disaster—or love—I threw them into a pretty dire situation in which they had no one else but each other to rely on.
Thanks to my love for survivalist shows, I had a lot of ideas about what they’d face cut off from the rest of the world. Food, water, and shelter are obvious needs, but making that unique to Bermuda meant I had to do my research. Good thing that’s one of my favorite parts about the writing process. And since I was writing with the World of Love theme in mind, I tried my best to capture the essence of Bermuda and stick it in the narrative wherever I could. I hope I did it justice.
I’m not sure how well I’d survive in the type of situation I put them in, but I had a blast problem-solving the different scenarios. I doubt I’d last more than a few days marooned somewhere before I buried my head in the sand and gave up, but be sure to pick up My Paradise Is You to find out how Marc and Ian cope as castaways.
Other than loved ones, pets, and books, what would you miss the most about civilization if you were stranded on a deserted island? Let me know in the comments below for a chance to win Taming the Wyld, my States of Love novella!
Check out My Paradise Is You today!
When two very different men are stranded on a deserted island, will opposites attract, or will they end up killing each other—if the elements don’t get them first?
Marc Reed is an expert scuba diver and leads underwater tours of the infamous shipwrecks scattered around Bermuda. When a robbery forces him and his boss’s son—a man he despises on principle—to take shelter on an uncharted island, he might have to reassess his opinion of the spoiled snob.
Ian Blythe-Darcy II lives a life most would envy. He’s a trust-fund kid being groomed to take over his father’s empire of hotels and resorts. But it’s not a life that matches what’s in his heart. He’s in the closet and engaged to a socialite he doesn’t love, but he’s about to get a crash course in being true to himself—and maybe learn money can’t buy happiness after all.
Lucie Archer is a student of the universe who is obsessed with the stars, in love with beaches, and crazy about dudes falling in love. She tells stories of romance, love, and life, with a little bit of passion thrown in for good measure. Because what’s life without a little pop and sizzle?
When she’s not writing, she can be found tending to her garden, playing with her four-legged children, or procrastinating. Although, she spends a lot of time fending off random plot bunnies that threaten to derail her WIP’s.
February 23 – MM Good Book Reviews
March 1 – Release day! – Dreamspinner Press Blog
March 3 – Alpha Book Reviews
March 3 – Love Bytes
March 6 – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
March 7 – Sinfully Gay
March 8 – Long and Short Reviews
February 28, 2017
Most authors have some ritual they carry out the day their book is published, and while I’m sure most are fascinating, mine involve shots of American Honey and a big hunk of Velveeta Cheese. Believe me, I earned both.
Publishing a book is like having a baby and, I tend to think, far more painful. There’s no epidural for the anxiety that grips you when you realize your baby, your pride and joy, your heart and soul, will be released into the cutthroat world of publishing where anyone with an Internet account and an attitude can say whatever they like. Mama warned us about listening at keyholes, didn’t she? Boy, was she right.
At any rate, today is the day that RINGO AND THE SUNSHINE POLICE hits the shelves, and I am once more reduced to a gibbering, neurotic mess. I could tell you how cool and calm and collected I am and I would be lying, and you wouldn’t like that, so I’ll just let it all hang out.
Publishing a book is hell. It’s not just about hits and clicks and making dough. It’s about a whole lot more. Every book, of course, is a tissue of lies designed to tell the truth about something. And the truer that something is, the more painful it is to write. My problem is that I’m not especially good at writing unpainful things. I tried once. It was the worst eight pages of my life. If I’m going to sit down at a keyboard, I’m going to spill my guts and slit my veins and make a bloody mess of things. That’s how you get at the truth. Grab the scalpel and get busy. If you’re going to say something, well, by God, say something.
My readers—and I do have them, as Ellen might say—know what I’m talking about. I’ve been accused of taking no prisoners. They say like it’s a bad thing.
Like most of my novels, RINGO started with an image in my head and little else. That image was of an older man, about my age, showing up one day at the DHS to pick up a child and get busy with the business of adoption. The child had no arms. And the man, you might say, had no clue. But somehow they found each other … and something happened.
A couple of years ago, gay marriage came to the state of Mississippi in a stunning decision by the Supreme Court. And … something happened. It was the first time in my life that I’d had any rights as a gay man. It was astonishing. Shortly after, I went to the local DHS office and said I wanted to adopt. I waited for them to laugh. They did not. Instead, they handed me a bunch of forms and fingerprinted me and sent me to parenting classes.
Since then, I’ve been licensed, and by Christmas of this year, I will have two chicks under my wings who will have new last names and new futures to look forward to. Both were badly damaged. Both waited a long time for a family. One was in the care of the DHS the longest of any child in this state: 14 years. The other had PTSD from all the crap he’d been put through.
So RINGO is about kids. But it’s also about older gay men who have been living under the gun down here in the buckle of the Bible Belt who are now emerging from the shadows and trying to build new lives and make sense of this Brave New World.
Be warned, gentle reader: If you need your characters to be flawless and gorgeous and rich, you’re in the wrong place altogether. I don’t do flawless. I do wounded. I tend to believe the wounded are far more interesting. And you’ll find plenty of wounded souls in RINGO. You’ll also find a few laughs and a lot of healing.
As RINGO hits the shelves, I will celebrate with my American Honey and a hunk of Velveeta Cheese and anxiously await the reviews. I hope readers will like my baby and say nice things about her. (We all like to hear nice things about our kids, you know.) But no matter what happens, I will know I told the truth about something even if it was just a bunch of lies.
As always, you are invited along for the ride. Might want to bring a box of tissues for this one.
I’m giving away three ebooks from my back catalog. To claim one, and to celebrate the fact that RINGO is set in my hometown, Tupelo, Mississippi, I have one question you must answer: Who is Tupelo’s most famous son?
Check out Ringo and the Sunshine Police today!
Thomas, an older gay musician living in a small Southern town, is ready to start a family. He fosters Jeremy, a special needs boy with no arms, and teaches him to play the drums so Jeremy can realize his potential to do anything he wants. Though it takes time, Thomas’s closeted boyfriend Randy steps out of the shadows to be part of what Thomas is working to build. With the advent of marriage equality, it’s a different world in the Deep South—one where the three of them have the chance to be a family.
Yet no one said it would be easy, and they soon learn the foster care system is far from perfect.
Just as Jeremy begins to settle in and thrive, his biological father reappears, demanding custody. Thomas and Randy know the man is unfit to care for Jeremy, but the law says otherwise. It seems they’re the only ones looking out for Jeremy’s best interests, and they face an uphill battle if they want to keep their new family together.
About Nick Wilgus:
I sold my first short story to The Horror Show Magazine at the age of seventeen and I’ve been writing ever since.
From murder mysteries to romantic comedies featuring gay couples, I’ve been channeling my dreams and demons for almost four decades. Along the way, I picked up a Lambda Award nomination, was named one of the best columnists in the state of Mississippi, and had an award-winning movie based on my first novel, MINDFULNESS AND MURDER.
A former newspaper editor, I’m a proud dad who lives in Tupelo, Mississippi right down the street from the house where Elvis grew up.
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February 27, 2017
Hey, y’all! I’m BA Tortuga, resident redneck and lover of all things cowboy.
So, we talk quite a bit in romance about sex.
How much is too much? If there’s no sex is it clean? If there’s lots is it dirty? What about kink? What about plot? Can you move the story through sex? WHAT DO WE DO ABOUT THE SCREWING PARTS?
Well, I have to admit, these days I don’t stress it much. I write the book and the boys tell me how much boinking they need to. Publishers and readers are happy with romance from no on screen pounding to OMG scorching.
It didn’t used to be like that, though.
Once upon a time, a zillion years ago, when m/m romance as a genre was in its new stage, sex was king. Now, I have thoughts about why that was, and my leading theory is that m/m readers were coming to us from slash fan-fiction (hence the / in m/m, yes?).
In slash, one of the joneses that was getting a fix was getting to see (read?) characters actually have sex on page. That was the deal. So readers were expecting to have sex scenes again and again. It was standard to have a sex scene every chapter. It was simply the norm.
Now, here’s the weirdness. When you have re-releases that are in that older arena, I was writing for the audience. We all were. So, if you come from “Catch and Release”, for instance, and then pick up “Tropical Depression”, you might go…
Are these even written by the same person?
The answer to that is yes and no. Yes, I wrote it. No, I’m not the same person. Twelve years ago I was dealing with homeschooling a child, I was married to someone I wasn’t in love with, I was running a business and working full time. I wasn’t the same person. The readership wasn’t the same. The publishing world wasn’t the same. Hell, I didn’t even know who Donald Trump was.
Why do I tell you this? Because Galen and Shane were my first best-sellers and I love them and I want to share them with you, but like everything else, we have to honor it from the place in time it was born.
Much love, y’all.
Check out Tropical Depression today!
Sequel to Rain and Whiskey
Stormy Weather: Book Two
The weather in the Florida swamps is looking a little rocky for retired football player, Galen, his laid-back lover, Shane, and their gator, Vic.
When Galen buys into a football team, promoting and wheeling and dealing are the name of the game. He’s so busy he hardly gets to see Shane anymore, which means a lot of lonely naps on the couch.
Shane is tied up with managing the bar, covering for unreliable bartenders, and serving drinks to good-time party boys. Used to be Galen couldn’t get enough of him. Now he can hardly pry Galen away from the phone, and Shane starts to wonder where he stands in Galen’s life. Will things ever be the way they were?
When Galen starts to forget their dates, the pressure builds, jealousy and hurt swirling into a tropical storm. Galen and Shane need to seek shelter in each other before everything they’ve built is washed away.
About BA Tortuga:
Texan to the bone and an unrepentant Daddy’s Girl, BA Tortuga spends her days with her basset hounds and her beloved wife, texting her sisters, and eating Mexican food. When she’s not doing that, she’s writing. She spends her days off watching rodeo, knitting and surfing Pinterest in the name of research. BA’s personal saviors include her wife, Julia Talbot, her best friend, Sean Michael, and coffee. Lots of coffee. Really good coffee.
Having written everything from fist-fighting rednecks to hard-core cowboys to werewolves, BA does her damnedest to tell the stories of her heart, which was raised in Northeast Texas, but has heard the call of the high desert and lives in the Sandias. With books ranging from hard-hitting GLBT romance, to fiery menages, to the most traditional of love stories, BA refuses to be pigeon-holed by anyone but the voices in her head. Find her on the web at www.batortuga.com
February 23, 2017
Hi, everyone! This is my first time stopping by the Dreamspinner’s blog. I’m Lila Leigh and I hail from Puerto Rico, but I currently live in Southern Texas. I’m here to talk about my new release, Dating in Retrospect. I’m sure you’re wondering why Iowa then? Well, the answer is simple. Love. Aww! Nah. I did marry an Iowa boy and that’s the reason writing this story felt right. I have traveled to Iowa many times over the years—having the chance to experience the different seasons and visit many of the settings I used for my story. Plus, all the ones that didn’t make the cut.
The States of Love novellas are more than a simple love story, they’re the narrative of a state. They bring loves into a unique frame of mind. These stories can’t take place anywhere else but the state in which they were written for. What makes the main characters’ relationships move forward is not a blank canvas, but their connection to the soil. It’s what makes them real and gets the reader cheering for a happily ever after.
I do need to accept that I didn’t include the whole state, but I tried to cover the Southeastern corner. Giving the reader the opportunity to visit the same places someone living in the area travels to on a regular basis. I started our trip at Clay’s and Aaron’s home—the place in which they fall in love for the first time, college. Providence University is a fictitious name, but there’s a University in the same area. The restaurants they visited exists, as well as, the Burlington boardwalk, and the views of the Mississippi.
If you have been following my blog tour, you probably read about Riverside and their Star Trek date. Yes, Riverside is the future birth place of Captain James T. Kirk, and Clay & Arron enjoyed a day at their Trek fest. Then, a whole weekend at the Field of Dreams. Staying at a bed and breakfast and taking part of their ghost comedy show.
There are several other places they visited around the state, and they do return home for some time as well. But, their connection deepened with each place they visited. Some of them they had traveled to when they were in college and others were a first for them. I think that doing more than to seeing each other once a month added to the intensity of their relationship. And, they would have a beautiful backdrop to tell their kids all about. Which, according to Aaron’s father—Drew—would be many.
I don’t know about you, but I have never traveled around just for a date. Never more than forty-five minutes that is. What about you? Any long-distance relationship with a happily ever after? And to make it more interesting, your comments will be entered for a chance to win a $20 Dreamspinner Press Gift Certificate (giveaway ends 2/28 -midnight US-EST).
Don’t forget to stalk me around social media. I love to talk books. <3
Facebook Profile: http://www.facebook.com/LilaLeighHunter
Facebook Author’s Page: http://www.facebook.com/HunterRomances
Facebook Fan Group: http://www.facebook.com/groups/LilasBooks/
Let the fun begin. ☺
~ Lila Leigh
Check out Dating in Retrospect today!
Giving the commencement speech at his alma mater doesn’t fit Clay Keller’s meticulous schedule. As Chief Executive Officer of Travel Mogul—the largest travel connoisseur company on the West Coast—he has no time to get back in touch with his country roots. He left fifteen years ago without a second look, but a medical scare makes him change his mind about the speech and brings him face-to-face with his only regret.
Time always moves slower in Southeastern Iowa, and Aaron Grant loves it. He’s added solar farms to the Grant Lanes portfolio and has been teaching at the local university for a decade. The last thing he needs is to have his tenure application compromised by the return of his ex-boyfriend. If he had known who the commencement speaker would be, he would never have volunteered to be the administration liaison.
A proposal—to date for a year—will help them discover that time changes a person, even when everything else stays the same.
States of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the United States.
February 22, 2017
Muse inspiration for Brian Daystar
SL: Greetings all. My name is Sharita Lira and I write as BLMorticia. My character above is Brian Daystar, a descendant of the Lakota tribe, born in Great Falls Montana. The story behind Brian is complicated. He’s had issues in his life that have haunted him for years. When he moved in with Cyrus Abrams (MC from book 1 Wounded Hearts) he did so to run away from his past and hopefully start a new life. Like my other character Cyrus, he believes he’s broken and has pretty much settled for quickies and one nighters to take place of what he really desires. In book one, you can tell how much of Cyrus has rubbed off on him. His mannerisms, his flippant mouth, as well as his use of swear words. However, he’s got a heart of gold and he’s looking for someone to mend his heart while he tries to pick up the pieces in his life.
The songs I picked on this playlist are Waffle and Broken Down by Sevendust, Deep Inside by Hardrive. (Um, really Brian picked that), Stripped by Depeche Mode, Say Yes by Floetry, and Play by Jeremi Carey.
I won’t go through why each one inspired me, only a couple because they speak to his character. The songs by Sevendust totally make up Brian. A ragged soul with a past that has literally haunted him.
In Waffle, lead singer Lajon talks about Making my life something more. That is what Brian is asking of his potential mate. To make his life more worth living. No, he isn’t suicidal, but this young, gorgeous man thinks he might need more than just an average guy to make him whole again.
Broken Down – Obviously in the same vein. Brian feels he needs saving. Lajon sings, “If I can feel again, would you tell me now or wait till I’m broken … save me now I’m broken.” Another lyric that covers the bases when it comes to my character. In that song I felt it a cry for help for someone to love him and help him mend.
Say Yes – Say Yes is always on my writing playlist. When I write my love scenes, I usually have this going along with a few other select tunes. I look for songs that are sexy and sultry. Brian is a sexy and sultry character. The gorgeous hair, his brown eyes and hot body. Okay, I must confess I’m a sucker for this model. Just take a look at my other covers with this man on it. Although I had used the model Umid before, no other model seemed to have the look I had for Brian. So I used him again, and I promise you I am done with him.
Ah yeah, back to the song. Say Yes is sexy. It put Brian in a mood especially when it seemed his would be partner was in denial. “All you gotta do is say yes, don’t deny what you feel let me undress you.” I could totally see that in Brian, trying to convince Ren to let himself go and feel a little bit. I adore this song and I believe it fit my character perfectly.
Sinspiration for Renord Kline
Hey all, Remmy Duchene here. I am the headcase behind Renford Kline, the former New York ADA who is now retired, seeking to find a new place for himself. He has a lot to figure out about who he is, what he is and where he wishes to be. He’s suave and laid back but he does have a bit of a dirty mind. Renford is a whole other kind of sexy. The music that inspires him had to be flirty, naughty but not too obvious about it.
Music is a huge part of my writing. I have a song for practically every scenario, from sex scenes to fight scenes. Music is the one thing that soothes and angers and puses me to write better. So there are a few songs on our playlist but I’m only going to go through a few of them.
Closer by Nine Inch Nails – I was watching a tv show right before we started writing this book and this song was playing. Of course I had no idea who sang it so I hit google with a line from the lyrics. Aside from the naughty line that says I want to f*&k you like an animal which is a part of Renford’s personality. He like it a little freaky from time to time, I loved you can have my isolation, you can have the hate it brings. You can have my absence of faith, you can have my everything. Renford feels alone, trying to figure out who he is. Even though he has friends and people who love him, there’s a part of him that feels ashamed to just be figuring what he is. Renford needed to be able to give up the sadness in all of that and rely on Brian to kind of hold his soul if you will.
Talk me Down by Troye Sivan - I wanna sleep next to you, and that’s all I want to do right now. That line is the one that got me the first time. Renford is the type who believes that something to make the world perfect again, all you need is your lover’s arms. Sure it seems weird for a man his size and as pretty as he is, but he can be kind of a softie. I mean, come on, how could he not get lost in Brian’s arms? Is that even possible?
Bilingual by Jose Nunez – There is a time for making love and then there’s a time for things to be a little moure raunchy, rougher, harder. But it isn’t the kind of rough that happens all the time. Renford is the kind who will give you an order, you disobey, you are punished – in the bedroom of course. But he does it in a sophisticated way, a bid boss kind of way. My thighs in anticipation of deep penetration gets me high sums up what Renford wants Brian to feel, to say, to think.
Insatiable by Darren Hayes – I love writing romance – not just sex but a softness in words, deed and caresses that come with falling, with wanting someone so desperately that no matter what you cannot go away. Renford falls headfirst into the emotions that come with love and the madness it causes. I fall asleep inside of you there are no words only truth. Ever since I was a teenager, I loved this song. Darren Hayes had always been one of my favorite, from Savage Garden to his solo work. This song always made me feel things I never understood until I got older. There’s a soft, sexiness in this song that Renford holds dear as well. It’s not all about the rough tumble. Sometimes, romance is necessary.
BL and I have a playlist put together with all the songs we used to inspire Renford and Brian’s tale. You can find find it HERE.
Contest time – Tell us about your favorite song that gets you in the mood and give us your favorite lyric from it. We will chose one we like the best and that person wins a free copy of Wounded Pride!
Check out Wounded Pride today!
Renford Kline is straight… right? He got over his experimentation in college and moved on. Then how does he explain his blush-inducing fantasies about Brian Daystar? Fantasies he’s having when he should be focused on his career move from attorney to professor. When Brian comes to New York, Renford knows he’s in trouble. Everything about Brian attracts him—from his tight body to his beautiful, dark hair—but Renford is straight… right?
Brian Daystar needs a break. He’s been working nonstop to turn his Montana ranch into a safe haven for at-risk youth—so much so that he can’t even bring himself to care when he finds out his partner, country star Corey, is cheating on him. Their relationship has been over for a long time, but it might take his feelings for Renford to make Brian accept it.
Both men have decisions to make. Renford must come to terms with who he truly is, and Brian is going to have to decide if he will shun his happiness or embrace it.