Happy Release Day to Roe Horvat!

July 19, 2017

Roe Horvat

 

I feel like I’ve written all the words already. Nevertheless, here I am facing a blank page again. Just a few more sentences—it shouldn’t be that hard, right? I can hear the goblins laughing evilly.

I can only save myself by being concise. There’s an excerpt of The Layover below. The blog tour continues tomorrow with the next part of The Swiss Experiment (it’s a prequel to The Layover; you can find it on my website: http://roehorvat.com/swiss-experiment-1/ —the post will grow as the blog tour continues.)

The Layover is being released today. I’m forever thankful to my editor, Rose, and the wonderful staff at Dreamspinner Press for making me feel like I can do this. Malin, I’m going to spread a picnic blanket under your pedestal, sit there and just stare adoringly for all eternity or at least until the wind blows away the dust off my bones. I don’t think I would have made it without Grace, Hans, Jay, Xenia, Ben, Frederick, Phetra, Brandon, and all those kind people who beta-read for me, reviewed the ARC, advised me, or simply talked to me and helped me to keep my head above water. I’m humbled by how much kindness I’ve received from virtual strangers. I hope to pay back a part of my debt in happy endings.

Love

Roe

 

Check out The Layover today!

Layover[The]_postcard_front_DSP

Amazon
Dreamspinner Press
Kobo
GoodReads

 

Blurb:

Eight years ago, Ondro Smrek fled Slovakia and the bigotry that drove his first lover to take his own life. The demons proved impossible to outrun, though, and now, desperate for somewhere to belong, Ondro is returning to start over. During a layover in Basel, Switzerland, he meets Jamie, an American living in Scotland who is as brilliant as he is beautiful.
Jaded Ondro never would have guessed he could fall in love during a brief layover—until now. When he is put in a position to offer Jamie comfort without hope of recompense, Ondro doesn’t hesitate. Soon, he catches a glimpse of the home he longs for. But with their separation looming, confessing his feelings would only lead to pain and humiliation. Life has taught Ondro not to hope, but then, he never believed in love at first sight either.

 

About Roe Horvat:

Queer author, storyteller & graphic designer
Roe was born in former Czechoslovakia and endured a miserable adolescence in the post-communist wasteland. Equipped with a dark sense of sarcasm, they left for Germany and later, Spain.
Finally, they settled in Sweden, where the weather is nasty but the freedom great. Roe works as a motion graphics artist, loves Jane Austen, Douglas Adams and everything in between, preferably by the fireplace with a strawberry daiquiri in hand. Roe writes contemporary romantic fiction – it conveniently balances out their real-life pragmatism.
When not hiding in the studio doing graphics, Roe can be found trolling cafés in Gothenburg, writing, and people-watching.

Get in touch with the Roe:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/roe.horvat.98
Website: https://www.roehorvat.com

 

Excerpt:

He studied the empty glass like there were secret inscriptions on it. I don’t know where it came from, but I felt as if the moment were pivotal. As if whatever he said next would mean a lot. Possibly more than I’d like.

He put the glass down and looked at his hands, intertwining and twirling his fingers. “I got to go on this trip only because a colleague of mine got sick. Otherwise, they would never send a lowly minion like me. And sure, it was about work primarily. There was a meet-up about stem cell therapy in ophthalmology.” He stopped himself with a wave of his hand. A very graceful hand. “Never mind. I had a few days off in Zurich. I wanted to try something new, maybe let a little loose… I didn’t expect anything to be life-changing, just maybe get a little taste of a slightly different lifestyle. Nothing crazy or dangerous.

“But my friend, she had this idea that it was supposed to be more of an adventure. She bought me a travel pack of some stuff, you know. Like a go-out-and-get-laid kit. Ginny’s a bit weird. And she gave me the hat. She made me promise that I’d wear that thing.” He gestured toward the hideous headgear and sighed again. I sensed that I wouldn’t like the direction of his speech. “I googled some crazy club and tried to go out in Zurich. And I felt like an alien there, exposed. It’s ridiculous but getting hit on only freaked me out. It’s not my thing. In the end, I was ready to go home, looking forward to it even. And then….” He stopped talking and threw his hands up in the air, scrunched his face in apparent frustration. With me? With himself? With the boundaries of the English vocabulary? “And now you are sitting here flirting with me. And I… I’m sorry. I like you, I do. You’re funny and hot as hell. But I’m not….” He waved a hand in the air again, fishing for the right words. There weren’t any. “I’m not comfortable with one-night stands. I’m sorry.” He paused and seemed to brace himself before delivering the final blow. “I should go to bed. Long day tomorrow.”

It wasn’t my first I-like-you-but conversation. I was a champion of those too. More often pitching those than receiving, but still. I knew the game, but this time, it tasted bitter. Maybe it was because I was in a weird place in my head, feeling like the world was changing around me, and I was changing, and my life was at a crossroad, and it was all a chaos like a freaking Hungarian goulash soup. The world was bleak, and I didn’t want to let go of the only one still colorful, even vibrant thing in it. Since I felt that clingy, I should have ripped off the Band-Aid, fast.

“It’s a shame,” I said. He was probably the most interesting guy I’d met in months. Or years to be honest. Such a damned shame. “But tomorrow we’re flying away from here in opposite directions.” That shy smile he gave me…. So, so sweet. “I understand. I guess I respect it even.”

He had to think I was a slut. By some standards, I probably was. I stood, stretched my arms, and finished: “I’ve had a lovely evening. Thank you for not ditching me sooner.” It sounded whiney, and I winced inwardly. I gave him yet another crooked smirk and went to the bar. I took a napkin, borrowed a pen, and scribbled down a number. I went back, put it on the table in front of him, and he looked at me, frowning.

“In case you change your mind.”

I went all the way this time, and the odds were against me. But I would bang my head against the wall later if I didn’t try one last time.

He stared at the napkin for a second and scratched his temple. He lifted his large tired eyes at me, and my heart started beating a little faster.

“Thanks. Have a good flight tomorrow,” he said. The coffin snapped shut, the dirt was scattered on the lid, black shadowy figures stood in the rain, heads down—with that kind of finality.

I would remember him forever. If only for the hopeless kind of lonely he made me feel. So lonely, like I was at the bottom of a crater on the dark side of the moon, the temperature was absolute zero, and the last space shuttle left days ago.

My gaze slid over the napkin with my room number on it, and suddenly I felt like an ass. He was so much better than that kind of shit.

“Sorry for that.” I gestured toward the napkin briefly and went away, not looking back.

I was on the verge of a new era, trying to reclaim my life. Apparently, that made me vulnerable as fuck. I dragged my sorry ass upstairs, stripped, and packed my bag, in case I wanted to sleep in the next day and would have to leave in a hurry.

I brushed my teeth, took a piss, washed my hands, and blew my nose. Then I was lying in the strange bed unable to fall asleep. I felt a little cold but too lazy to get up and look for a T-shirt.

Funny and hot as hell, he said. It sounded lame, forgettable. And true. There were twenty-five of me in every gay bar in every larger city in Europe. And he was brilliant, genuine, most beautifully human, and real.

Jamie. His name was Jamie.

 

Venetian Memory Lane by Luca Domani

July 14, 2017

Venetian memory lane

 

Venice is a city dear to my heart. When I was younger, I dreamed of travelling there every year, but then graduate school happened. Still, I was fortunate enough to visit Venice more than once. My memories of the city are still vivid even though I haven’t been back for several years. So when I was given a chance to write a story for Dreamspinner’s World of Love series, I knew I had to go back to Venice, if only in my imagination.

Venice is charming and beautiful throughout the year, but in the colder months, it becomes even more enchanting. I set Tom and Giovanni’s story during this time, when Venice is quiet and rainy.  It is the off season and the city is returned to the Venetians after a long and crowded summer. Visitors can take in the sights at a slower pace, and perhaps pretend that they too are Venetian, if only for the moment. It is the perfect backdrop for falling in love.

Inevitably, Giovanni and Tom’s adventures in Venice draw inspiration from my own experiences. It was fun reliving these moments while I was writing. One of these scenes is at the very beginning of the book. Tom arrives in Venice during acqua alta, when the water level rises. The resulting flooding affects the neighborhood in which Tom’s hotel is located. Tom is greeted by several inches of water both inside and outside of his hotel. Fortunately, his room is dry, but he still must find some dinner. With no desire to venture farther than necessary for food, he wanders into the pizzeria next door, where Giovanni works. Alas, here the similarities end – there was no handsome Venetian flirting with me in the pizzeria next door!

Another memory that makes its way into the story is visiting Piazza San Marco at night. On my first trip to Venice, I stayed at a hotel close to the famous piazza. Late one night, I decided to spend some time in the square. To my delight, I found myself to be one of the very few people there at the time. It was like having my own little piece of Venice. I knew that if I ever came back, I’d have to do it again, and now it has become a tradition. For Giovanni, the piazza at night has been a haven since he was a teenager, a place for him to find some peace in a small crowded city, even in summer. Tom is the first person with whom he shares this special space, and now I have shared it with you. If you ever have the chance to go, I also recommend stopping by a bar along the way and picking up some beer and bruschetta to savor in your own private Piazza San Marco.

I truly enjoyed visiting Venice through this story, and I hope you will too! I invite you to continue the journey with Tom and Giovanni in An American in VeniceBuon viaggio!

 

Check out An American in Venice today!

 

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Blurb: 

Tom has always been steady and predictable—a formula he’s sure will lead him to success in his career. When his method fails him and he loses his job, he throws caution to the wind for the first time in his life and books a European holiday.

Maybe Tom shouldn’t be surprised that Cupid’s arrow finds him in one of the most romantic cities in the world: Venice, Italy. When he encounters Giovanni working in the family pizzeria, it’s lust at first sight. Their time together touring the city is so magical it feels like a dream. But Tom is shy while Giovanni is charming and flirtatious. Tom has a newfound freedom with his unemployment, while family burdens weigh heavily on Giovanni. Add culture differences and miscommunication into the mix, and their brief romance might fade as quickly as the beautiful dream it resembles.

World of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the globe.

 

Author Bio:

Luca has been writing stories since childhood. Although he has a doctorate in engineering, he has never given up on his dream of being a writer. He adores science fiction and is partial to postapocalyptic epics with zombie hordes, but at heart, he is a hopeless romantic. Luca is married to his high school sweetheart, who is his muse and the love of his life. They reside in Massachusetts with their dog and cat. An American in Venice is his second publication outside of a technical journal.
Email: gianluca.domani@gmail.com

Real Life Mimics Fiction (sort of) w/ SJD Peterson

July 7, 2017

Real Life Mimics Fiction

 

Murphy isn’t the only one who finds himself in a new city and state with no friends and family. I too recently took the plunge as well. I didn’t come for a new job but a new adventure. You see, I’m an empty nester and being tired of spending 5 months of every year knee deep in snow, I moved south.

My best friend Scotty Cade bought a house in Greenville South Carolina. Unfortunately, for him, he had to return to Martha’s Vineyard for another tourist season. Luckily, for me, I volunteered to house/dog sit until he could return.  If you’ve never been to Greenville, I highly suggest you visit!  It’s an absolutely amazing town.

The downtown area, which I’m fortunate enough to live close enough to walk, is a happening place with many great shops and restaurants. Two of my favorites are:

SmokeOnTheWater

Smoke on the Water – Serving comfort food in a warm inviting atmosphere. Specialties are smoked items – prime rib, beef brisket, baby back ribs, and pulled pork.  And it doesn’t stop there. Chicken, seafood, burgers, and an amazing mix of sides. A variety of “saucy” sauces are available – tomato, mustard, sweet or vinegar-based. And don’t forget dessert. Smoke serves an amazing Jack Daniel’s Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie, Fried Bourbon Bread Pudding, daily cobblers and fried Bananas Foster. The restaurant’s busy bar has one of Greenville’s best happy hours.

Website: http://www.saucytavern.com/

Lemongrass

Lemongrass – Thai cuisine manages to bring together the most diverse spices and aromas – fiery and mild, salty and sweet, sour and bitter – into perfect harmony. Lemongrass is one of the herbs used in Thai cooking among other spices such as basil, galangal, ginger, lemon leaf, cilantro turmeric and more.

Website: http://www.lemongrassthai.net/

 

TheBarkery

Many of the places around Greenville are pet friendly. Scotty’s dog Mavis has joined me to a few of them including Smoke on the Water and The Common Cure. There are also numerous Bark Parks, boutiques and even a bakery called The Barkery Bistro.

If you’d rather just get out for a nice walk don’t forget your pooch and be sure to head to Falls Park on the Reedy.  It’s a great place for you and your pup to get exercise as well as enjoy the gorgeous falls. Take a walk in the river or enjoy the view from the expansion bridge.

 

ReedyFalls

 

Whatever you do downtown Greenville, you’ll enjoy the sights, sounds and people!

 

Check out Something’s Brewing at Joe’s today!

 

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Blurb:

The promise of a dream job lures Murphy to Tampa, but he arrives to the rude awakening that the offer is on hold. Now he’s got two choices: slink back to Michigan with his tail between his legs or stay and look for work. Things perk up when he goes into a coffee shop and learns the owner is looking for someone to renovate the apartment above it. He happily takes the job, only later realizing he’s met Joe Sterling, Kaffeinate’s proprietor, before… when they hooked up at a club Murphy’s first night in Tampa.

Murphy and Joe are both proud, passionate, and outspoken. Neither is looking for a relationship, though they can’t deny they go together as well as coffee and doughnuts, in spite of their tempers. But that’s before Joe learns Murphy will be working for the corporation he believes is harming local businesses and the environment—and if Murphy will be supporting it, Joe wants nothing to do with him, dooming any possibility of an unexpected happy ending.

 

 

J

Meet Jo Peterson:

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

FACEBOOK | WEBSITE | TWITTER | GOODREADS

AUTHORS AMAZON PAGE

 

 

What is Control? w/ Leigh Carman + Excerpt

July 7, 2017

What is Control

 

 

Hello Dreamreaders! I’m Leigh Carman and I’m here to discuss the release of Two-Man Advantage, book 3 in the Players of LA series. Two-Man Advantage is the story of a hockey player named Viktor Novak, a self-destructive young man who for reasons you find out in the book, cannot stop his life from spiraling out of control. Viktor is reckless, immature, and prone to violent outbursts.

That’s when Bowen Miller steps in. Bo is the absolute epitome of control. The cocky PR specialist operates under the mistaken belief he can teach Viktor a thing or two about self-discipline, and the ability to clamp down on his emotions, successfully bringing the guy to heel. Bo finds out how wrong he is.

Now that I gave you some background on the MC’s, it’s clear that in Two-Man Advantage, I put one man who is way, way out of control, up against an obsessive-compulsive control freak. Reckless vs. cautious. Spur of the moment vs. planned out to the nth degree. Of course, these differences lead Vik and Bo to butt heads constantly, the friction between personalities sending tempers exploding with every interaction. But it’s possible Vik and Bo’s relationship goes deeper than two polar opposites who rub each other the wrong way. Perhaps their constant bickering is a sign that there’s more going on in Vik and Bo’s minds than visible at first glance. The back and forth, the men playing off each other, delving into both men’s histories to carve out each individual persona is what drove me as an author. I have to admit I loved writing these two highly emotional, temperamental, and stubborn men.

After I pinned down traits for each character along with the reasons behind them, I had to shape Vik and Bo’s relationship with each other. To do this, I researched a lifestyle called Power Exchange. For those of you who don’t know, a Power Exchange is a facet of BDSM in which one person gives up total control—a.k.a. the submissive—trusting their partner to make every decision, thus caring for their needs. The partner in control—or dominant—has the responsibility of ensuring the submissive is happy, healthy, and fulfilled. A Power Exchange can be a full-time lifestyle, or something that only comes up in certain situations, such as in the bedroom.

What I found interesting was the more I read, the more realistic the dynamic between Vik and Bo became. Except despite the research, I still had questions. Who would be the one to take control? The man who plans out every action and word in advance, or the man who struggles to get a grip on his flying-off-the-handle temperament?

Does the rigid control freak in Bo extend to every part of his life, including dominating any action in the bedroom? Or is it possible that Bo is exhausted. Weary from having to make every single decision down to the smallest minutiae, on a day-to-day basis. Maybe Bo needs a minute, an hour, a night, to let go and allow someone to see the cracks in the façade. To stop doing so much thinking, even if only for a brief respite.

Or is it Viktor who steps up to the plate? Is it possible for the guy who feels as though he has no say over anything that happens in his life, in both his career and personal interactions, to find safety within the walls of his bedroom? Is sex the one and only facet Vik actually can control, whereas he’s a passenger in every other aspect of his life?

For me, it could go either way, but it was fun figuring it out. To find out who dominates who, you’ll have to read Two-Man Advantage. Here’s a brief excerpt to introduce you to the guys.

 

Check out Two-Man Advantage today!

 

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Blurb:

A hockey star skating on the edge of a catastrophe.

A PR specialist so adept, he’s called “the Fixer.”

Working together will be the biggest challenge of both their careers.

The LA Vikings hockey team is fed up the violent outbursts of its huge, intimidating enforcer, Viktor Novak. Hounded by a homophobic and domineering father, Viktor takes out his frustrations by spilling blood—on and off the ice. Now he has one last chance to clean up his image, or his career is over.

That’s where Bowen Miller comes in.

Bo has taken on the hardest cases and succeeded—by micromanaging every aspect of a client’s life—at the expense of his own happiness. But in the stubborn, hot mess that is Viktor, Bo might have met his match—both in and out of the bedroom. One man is out of control, and one controls everything. But when sex and attraction come into play, those roles are open to negotiation.

 

 

Excerpt- Bo and Vik meet

Bo

After speaking with Dom then meeting with upper management about working with the Vikings to clean up Viktor Novak and his explosive personality, I spend the rest of the weekend doing research on my new client. More research than strictly necessary for this type of job, but for some reason every time I try to close down my computer and walk away, I’m drawn right back in, addicted to skimming through photo after photo of Viktor Novak.

Hockey isn’t a sport I’m very familiar with as I’m not a fan, and this will be my first NHL client. I don’t know why, but I’m shocked to find out the rugged hockey player is flat-out physical perfection. No missing teeth or crooked nose, though Viktor does have the requisite scar slashing across one pale eyebrow.

According to his Vikings stats, the man is twenty-three years old, six foot three inches and two hundred pounds, with blond hair and blue eyes that pretty much confirm the Eastern European—or possibly Scandinavian—heritage that his surname suggests. As I stare, my mind begins to wander, and I can’t help but wonder if Viktor Novak is blond all over. Actually, from the looks of him, he probably doesn’t have much body hair.

Damn. I blink back the dirty thoughts, determined to get my mind on track. I need to figure out a plan, not fantasize about my client.

In 99 percent of the pictures I flicked through online, a deep frown furrows Viktor Novak’s strong, handsome face. Even in his team photo he’s wearing a menacing scowl. It’s as if the man doesn’t know how to smile. For such a young guy, he looks way older.

By the time I walk into the conference room of the Vikings’ home office at Brinks Arena Monday morning, I pretty much know what to expect. A grumpy, grimacing, angry blond hulk of a hockey player with a hair-trigger temper and a loud bark. When I enter the room, however, what I see instead shocks the hell out of me.

First, the man in the conference room isn’t merely big, he’s freaking enormous. Even with Viktor sitting down, I can tell he’s much, much larger than he appeared in any of the photographs. Second, not a single one of those hundreds of pictures did the man justice. At this moment, he doesn’t look scary, or even angry for that matter. No, what Viktor Novak does look like is drop-dead fucking gorgeous. The hockey player in front of me is so good-looking, his physical presence so overwhelming, I can’t bring myself to look directly at him for fear I’ll either spontaneously combust or come in my dress slacks like a horny kid.

To avoid embarrassment and maintain control of the situation, I keep my eyes low, my jaw clenched, and force myself to focus on the task at hand. Anything to keep from staring at the stunning man who is no doubt watching my every move with his sharp, calculating gaze. I’m sure if I were to glance over and make eye contact, I wouldn’t be able to hide the fact I’m undressing him in my mind.

My sudden inability to speak or look at him must piss Viktor off, because he threatens to leave.

“If you’re not going to talk to me, or even look at me, I see no point in being here. I’m a busy guy and don’t have time for bullshit games, so, I guess I’ll see you later.” His voice is low and menacing. Husky and over-the-top sexy, just as I imagined. It vibrates straight to my groin, sending a rush of heat down my spine and into my cock.

Jesus, get ahold of yourself, Miller, and act like a professional, not some simpering virgin.

Unfortunately, the method I choose to deal with my inappropriate attraction to my new client overrides common sense. My need to seize back control of my body and the awkward situation has the first words out of my mouth making me sound like a massive douche.

I stare at the attractive man, my fingers curling into the polished wood of the table to maintain restraint and keep my dick under control. “I suggest you stay exactly where you are, Mr. Novak. If you want to keep your job, that is.”

The big man jerks back in surprise. “Now you’re going to speak?”

Afraid I’ll say something laced with innuendo—instead of apologizing or remaining calm—I continue acting like a flaming jackass, poking the beehive with a pointy stick. “I’ll speak when I’m ready, and you’ll listen. That’s how this works. You make messes, and I clean them up.”

The inexplicable need to get closer to the shocked man has me thinking with the wrong head. Even as dangerous and hostile as Viktor appears, I circle the conference table, drawn to the hockey player like a moth to a flame. Once I’m close—too close—I lean over his chair in a show of dominance. Big mistake. For the first time in my life, it backfires on me. When I inhale, Viktor’s raw, masculine scent clogs my nostrils, hitting me hard. The potent scent sends a dizzying sensation from my brain straight to my dick. When he turns his head to scowl at me, I catch a whiff of… sour apple?

As I wonder what that apple scent is, Viktor shoots me a deadly glare, his upper lip curled back to expose perfect white teeth. Viktor’s blue eyes spark with…. What? Lust? No way. Fury. It must be fury. A man like Viktor Novak doesn’t appreciate being put in his place.

So what do I do? Do I back off and put some space between us like any normal human being with any sense of their own safety would do? No, I choose to lean in even closer toward the dangerous man, watching with rapt interest as the hockey player’s cheeks turn red.

“So, do you understand why we’re here?”

Viktor nods, shifting in his chair uncomfortably. I glance down and note his big hands are balled up, clenched tight in his lap. That’s my cue to get out of his face before he lands one of those enormous fists on my chin.

“Good.” Now that he knows who’s in charge, I step back and extend my right hand. “I’m Bowen Miller. Call me Bo.”

 

About the Author:

Leigh Carman is the pen name for the M/M romances written by bestselling Contemporary romance writer, Heather C. Leigh.

She lived outside Atlanta for 15 years and recently moved to Houston with her husband, 2 kids, and French bulldog.

She is leaving explicit directions in her will for her friends to discreetly scatter her ashes around Fenway Park. Then they are to sit back, watch a game with a beer and a Fenway frank and have a wicked good time.

Summertime Fun w/ Sean Michael + Giveaway

July 5, 2017

Summertime Fun

 

Hello, Dreamspinners!

It’s summertime! If you know me already, you probably know that summer is not my favorite season. It is however when Making a Splash takes place. Austin is showing off for his friends at the public pool and diving when Vince discovers him.

Going to the pool is a great summer activity. I prefer the country and a lake to the city and a pool – the chlorine irritates my eyes and skin. And I prefer the breeze off the lake, which is usually lacking at a city pool.

Other summer activities I enjoy are evening walks because it’s cooler when the sun begins to go down. Picnics if there’s shade. And sitting inside with the air conditioner cranked high!

What’s your favorite summertime activity? One responder will win a copy of Making a Splash.

 

Sean Michael
smut fixes everything

 

Check out Making a Splash today!

 

MakingaSplash_postcard_front_DSP

 

Dreamspinner Press
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Kobo

 

Blurb:

After a scandal of Olympic proportions, Vince Dawson lost his job as a diving coach and is on a downhill slide. So when he sees Austin Brody at a local pool, diving like a trained athlete, he thinks he’s found his ticket back to the big leagues.

Austin thinks Vince is crazy for wanting him to dive competitively. He dives for beer and smokes, while working double shifts as a welder. Still, he’ll give training with Vince a shot.

But Austin isn’t willing to let Vince rule his life, and Vince—used to hopeful young athletes folding under pressure from him—finds Austin baffling… and hot. Even if they can work together and become more than friends, they still have a long way to go before they’ll be ready to compete.

 

Excerpt:

Vince took it, the kid’s hand cool and damp, the sensation familiar. How many times had he hauled a diver up out of the water? Too many to count. Vince gritted his teeth and didn’t linger on the handshake, stepping back to find his perfect dive-watching spot again.

Austin swarmed right up the ladder, waved. Then the little fucker did Louganis’s reverse two and a half somersault in the pike position. The entry was shit this time, but still.

Fuck him.

He had a hunch dinner was going to cost him his last dime, but, damn it, it would be money well spent if he could convince Austin he had to start competing. The assholes on the national team would shit bricks if he showed up at the next meet with this diver in tow.

He pushed his way back to the edge of the pool, there when Austin hauled himself up out of the pool. “Your entry was crap.”

“You still owe me a steak.”

“I do.” He nodded toward the street. “You wanting that now?”

“Sure. Let me go get my jeans on and shit. Oh. I’m Austin Brody. Pleased.”

“Vince Dawson. I’ll wait outside the gate for you.” He could have a cigarette and work on his pitch.

He got one and a half smoked before Austin came sauntering out of the showers, dressed in a black T-shirt and a pair of jeans, straw hat on his head. The kid lit up a cigarette on the way over, nodding to him and grinning. “Hey. Wasn’t sure you’d hang out.”

He shook his head. “I’m a man of my word.” Not to mention that every second made him want to coach this kid more. He hadn’t seen a natural diver like this since he was a kid himself. “So where do you like your steak?”

“There’s a steakhouse down the road. My aunt Jenny’s a waitress there and can get us the rolls right out of the oven.”

He gave Austin a smile. “Sounds good. I like warm buns.”

The kid hooted, blew out a big puff of smoke. “Oh, you’re clever. I like it.”

“You shouldn’t smoke, you know. Those things’ll kill you.” He pointed to his red Dodge truck, then headed toward it as he took another puff on his own cigarette.

“Gotta die of something. Nice ride.”

 

Bio:

Best-selling author Sean Michael is a maple leaf–loving Canadian who spends hours hiding out in used book stores. With far more ideas than time, Sean keeps several documents open at all times. From romance to fantasy, paranormal and sci-fi, Sean is limited only by the need for sleep—and the periodic Beaver Tail.

Sean fantasizes about one day retiring on a secluded island populated entirely by horseshoe crabs after inventing a brain-to-computer dictation system. Until then, Sean will continue to write the old-fashioned way.

Sean Michael on the web:

WEBSITE: http://www.seanmichaelwrites.com
BLOG: http://seanmichaelwrites.blogspot.ca
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/SeanMichaelWrites/
TWITTER: seanmichael09
INSTAGRAM: seanmichaelpics

Slim Chance: Toxic Thoughts w/ Jeff Erno + Giveaway

June 30, 2017

toxic thoughts

 

Thanks so much for joining me on the Dreamspinner blog. This is Jeff Erno, and I’m here to talk about my new release, Slim Chance, which is a gay romance featuring two not-so-conventional protagonists. Oliver Paxton is twentysomething computer programmer who has battled obesity his entire life. His coworker Benjy has struggled with his own baggage, primarily a social anxiety disorder that sometimes cripples him. The two become friends and share a mutual love of computer gaming, but as Benjy helps Oliver embark upon an epic weight-loss journey, their relationship evolves into something romantic and beautiful. But the demons that Oliver can’t seem to get out of his head threaten to destroy the best thing that ever happened to either of them, and Oliver must figure out how to reconcile the new and improved, thin version of himself with a past he wants to leave behind.

 

Can We Overcome Our Toxic Thoughts?

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to read minds? Personally, I think if offered this superpower I’d elect to pass. I’m not sure I’d want to know the private thoughts of even the people I love the most. Even the kindest, most forgiving, most compassionate among us have negative thoughts. It’s a reality with which I’ve struggled most of my life. While those around me have seen me as generous, polite, and unselfish, I harbor secret thoughts that threaten to betray me.

Back when I was religious, I believed these negative thoughts—selfishness, greed, envy—were temptations. Although I felt guilty for experiencing them and was certain I was nothing but a hypocrite, I also believed that the thing that mattered most was not that I thought something bad, but rather what I chose to do about those thoughts. How did I act? That’s what mattered.

So if someone irritated me, I would definitely register a thought about how annoying they were, but then I’d make a conscious choice to treat that person with respect and be just as polite and kind to them as I was to everyone else. If I felt jealousy toward another person, I made a deliberate effort to be gracious and congratulatory toward them rather than petty and spiteful. If I wanted the biggest piece of cake, I didn’t rush in to get mine first. I waited my turn and acted thrilled when I received my much smaller slice.

And you know what happens when you go through life striving to be a better person than your thoughts? You actually do become a better person, at least in the eyes of those around you. These little white lies—these hypocritical responses—are almost never perceived as phoniness. No, they are simply viewed as good manners. We don’t always have to say out loud everything we think. We can choose to police our own thoughts and deal with them internally.

In literature, we’re sometimes given the chance to see into the minds of characters who have very negative, toxic thoughts. Our knee-jerk reaction is to judge. That’s horrible. Why does he think this way? How selfish! Those thoughts, when presented in black and white before our very eyes, are ugly and scary. They make us uncomfortable.

Reading them is like looking into a mirror.

I’m most comfortable when a character is presented in a way that portrays his good side. I want to know the altruistic motivations that compel him. I want the positive realizations and epiphanies. I want to feel the goodness of his heart. But as soon as he is portrayed realistically and his negative thoughts are revealed—the same thoughts that I myself have always battled in my own head—he becomes unlikable.

In Slim Chance, I chose to portray the dark side of my main character, Oliver Paxton. I elected to offer the reader a peek into the mind of this tortured man. As I set out to write this story about a man who had been struggling with weight issues his whole life, I had a choice to make. I could present him as the heavy-set guy everyone loved and give him an inner monologue that would appeal to readers who were seeking a feel-good romance about a really swell person who happened to be overweight…OR I could present a very flawed but realistic character, a man who has been victimized his entire life and as a result has become his own shield. He’s used cynicism to mask pain. He’s used selfishness to cover vulnerability. He looks out for himself first mentally, mainly because nobody else ever has been there to protect him.

Slim Chance is a story about how a person like Oliver Paxton can change. His transformation is not rapid. He doesn’t magically rid his mind of the negative thoughts, and in fact, he never will. Those who have undergone cognitive therapy know that we can’t control when a negative thought enters our brain, but we can decide whether or not we’ll accept that thought or challenge it. Ultimately, we see Oliver beginning to challenge those thoughts, and more importantly, we see him acting on his decision to be a better person. And love wins.

Interestingly, the idea for Slim Chance did not begin from Oliver’s perspective. Although in recent years I’ve struggled with my own weight and body issues, it was the character Benjy I related to. Like Benjy, I suffer from social anxiety. My condition has worsened over the years, probably due to a number of factors. For one, I’m a writer and don’t spend a lot of time outside my house. The less chance I have to interact with people, the more reclusive I become.

A couple years ago I ran into a friend, someone I used to be very close with. It was at a conference where there were a lot of people. This person, when I used to know her, was extremely overweight, but she’d had a surgery and had taken off—I dare say—two hundred pounds. When we were friends, both of us were social outcasts, which was probably why we bonded the way we did. We hung out together, commiserated with one another.

The new and improved version of my friend—the slender, sexy bombshell—had a new hairstyle, all new flashy clothing. And she wasn’t suffering from her social anxiety anymore—not in the least. In fact, she was the opposite. She’d become the life of the party, surrounded by a ton of friends, and all of them were laughing and joking…and she hardly noticed me. We didn’t spend any time together one on one that weekend. I saw her up on the dance floor at the evening parties. I saw her photos plastered all over social media as she got selfies with almost every important person at the conference.

But I wasn’t her friend anymore. And though she used to be one of my biggest fans, I don’t think she continued reading my books either.

That’s what gave me the idea for Slim Chance. But I deliberately chose not to present the story from the social-anxiety-ridden best friend’s perspective. I wanted to get into the mind of the person who lost all the weight. I wanted to understand how and why a person could dump their loved ones, the ones who stood beside them back when they were heavy, and exchange their true friends for the superficiality of the glamor crowd—the popular people.

And I think I do understand the situation a lot better now. I think allowing myself into the mind of Oliver Paxton helped me understand him and love him. And like Benjy, I get it. I see why Oliver, once he’d improved himself physically, felt the desire to continue upgrading. He’d never had friends! Not the popular people. No one had ever found him attractive or even tried to kiss him. He’d never even been on a date. So yes, of course, those temptations played out in his head. Who can honestly say they wouldn’t be tempted given the same set of circumstances?

But Oliver did something my former friend did not. He stopped, looked back, and realized who he was leaving behind. And therein lies the purpose of the story. You don’t have to be a perfect, lovable person that everyone adores. You don’t have to think only the purest thoughts. You don’t have to be the best looking, the most in-shape, the most popular. Love is not about any of those things. Love is larger than obesity or social anxiety. Love doesn’t demand we rid ourselves of all our faults but accepts us as we are—flawed and beautiful.

 

* * * *

My life-changing journey with Dreamspinner began seven years ago when I signed a contract for Trust Me. I didn’t exactly expect to be taken seriously as an author back then. I wrote as a form of therapy—a catharsis for my emotions. Trust Me helped me open up and deal with events in my past, including child sexual abuse, my struggle to reconcile my religious faith with my sexual orientation, and the internal homophobia that I couldn’t quite shake. The story chronicled the childhood experiences of two very different boys, one religious and the other a rebel. Eventually, in their teen years, Shawn and Bobby connect and fall in love but have to contend with a 1980s society that isn’t ready to accept boys who love other boys. They emerge triumphant and at last, 130 thousand words later, live happily ever after.

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Following Trust Me, Dreamspinner published my anthology of short stories called Bullied. The compilation included seven fictional accounts of teen bullying, featuring gay and lesbian protagonists. Originally released at Dreamspinner, the anthology was later moved to their young adult imprint, Harmony Ink. It won a Rainbow Award the year it was released.

My best-selling book to date at Dreamspinner is We Danced, the closest story I have to a formulaic romance. It features a young veterinarian intern named Josh who moves to a small town in Kentucky where he encounters a handsome bar owner named Rex. After accidentally leaving his cell phone at the bar, Rex returns after hours to retrieve it, which is when Rex and he dance to the country-western jukebox music and share their first kiss. Later, Rex reveals that he’s a father. He has a six year old son, Tyler, whom he has adopted. The three form a family and together face all the obstacles that a small-town Kentucky community can throw in their way.

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Choosing America’s Next Superstar was my nod to reality-TV, featuring a gay romance between two of the musical talent show’s top-ten contestants. Left-Hand Path is my one and only Dreamspinner paranormal. You Belong With Me is a young adult romance, a jock-nerd fantasy about two neighbors who communicate by holding hand-written signs up in their bedroom windows.

Dreamspinner has also published a couple of series of mine, the most notable being Dumb Jock. It too has a jock-nerd theme in all six of its installments. The first book of the series is actually the very first novel I ever wrote. I even used my own first name for the protagonist. The next four books in the series are stand-alone reads about new characters who are in some way connected to the original characters, and the final book of the series pulls all of the books and characters together for a final reunion. Book two, Another Dumb Jock, also received a Rainbow Award.

dumbjock

And most recently, I have a three-book detective/mystery series called Full Nelson which showcases the hyper-masculine detective hero, Chris Nelson, and his sidekick, Ethan, who happens to also be Chris’s husband and works as a middle-school teacher.

So, not counting the audio, foreign translations, and bundled compilations, Slim Chance is my sixteenth book with Dreamspinner, but hopefully not the last.

 

Check out Slim Chance today!

SlimChance_postcard_front_DSP

 

Blurb: 

Can a man improve his appearance without losing everything good inside him?

Oliver has always been obese and suffered from a negative body image. He’s tried diets before, failing time after time, but he vows this time will be different. As he begins an exercise program, his confidence increases—and so does his interest in his friend and coworker Benjy. Though they bonded long ago over a love of online gaming, it takes a lot of courage for Oliver to share his new body and be intimate with another man.

A passionate romance blooms, but as Oliver nears his goal, it seems he doesn’t need Benjy—with his chronic anxiety and troubled past—now that he’s made attractive new friends at the gym. But not all relationships are equal, and Oliver realizes that Benjy, who loved and supported him when no one else did, is more than a reminder of his old life.

A pleasing appearance means nothing when it hides a lonely, empty heart, and if Oliver cannot decide what’s truly important, he’ll lose what he cherishes most.

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Author Bio:

Jeff Erno began writing LGBT fiction in the late 1990s. Although an avid reader and amateur writer from a very young age, Jeff pursued a career as a retail store manager in Northern Michigan. When his first gay-themed novel was published, he was shocked that anyone would even want to read it. Nine years later, he writes full time and has published over four dozen novels. Jeff now lives in Southern Michigan, where he resides with his brother, Eugene.

Jeff’s writing credits include a variety of themes and sub-genres including gay romance, Young Adult, Science Fiction, erotica, and BDSM. He is the winner of a 2012 Rainbow Award and an Honorable Mention in 2011. His style is unpretentious and focused upon emotionally-driven, character-based stories that touch the heart. Jeff is especially passionate about young adult literature and combating teen bullying and youth suicide.

Jeff’s website: http://www.jefferno.com
Jeff’s Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jefferno

 

Backlist Giveaway

I’d like to offer readers a chance to sample my backlist if they’re interested in reading any of my books. Please use the comment section to post your thoughts on any one of the following questions:

1. How do you feel about a more nuanced portrayal of a protagonist like Oliver? Does it bother you to hear his inner thoughts, some of them being toxic and negative? Will this layered view of the main character prevent you from empathizing and rooting for him the way you would a more altruistic lead character?

2. Do you prefer a limited or alternating point of view? In Slim Chance, the entire story is told solely from Oliver’s point of view. We have to rely upon what we see, through Oliver’s eyes, in order to know Benjy.

3. Do we place too much emphasis on physical appearance in the m/m community? Why aren’t there more stories featuring characters with less-than-perfect body types? Is this too heavy (no pun intended) a topic to deal with in romance, which is supposed to be uplifting fantasy and happy-ever-after?

Three winners will be selected, one from each question. Feel free to answer more than one, but please use separate comments to do so. Winners will receive their ebook of choice from my backlist (which includes any Dreamspinner book other than the new release).

Too Many Temples: Bali Meets Australia w/ Erik Swill

June 28, 2017

bali meets australia

 

I am very pleased that Dreamspinner Press decided to take a chance on my latest novella, Too Many Temples, as part of their “World of Love” series. This story was actually a long time in the making and went through more facelifts than Joan Rivers ever did. A large part of this was due to the setting of the novella. I had written it and planned to pitch it to Dreamspinner before finding out that they had recently launched their “World of Love” series, where a single country or region (read: outside of the US) serves as the backdrop for the story.

The problem was that my story had two distinct settings: Bali and Australia. I needed to center it on one or the other. I chose Australia. Then I changed my mind and chose Bali. Ultimately, and with the editors’ consent, we went with both. I like to think I’m not a troublemaker, but this story just worked so much better with the two-country setting. Well, I suppose now that it is published, it is up to the readers to make that call whether or not it is successful at that. But from my perspective, both settings were crucial to the story.

So why couldn’t I leave Australia out of it?

This story is one that the two protagonists are from different countries and cultures. And while it is easier to pick one location and have one of the characters be a fish out of water, I wanted to color the story with the way each protagonist acted and fared in the other’s homeland. Being outside of one’s comfort zone (on many different levels of interpretation here) really brings out some core truths about individual identity. I wanted that in this story.

As for Australia, it used to be home for a number of years. This was quite a number of years ago now, but it is still very much in my imagination. This applies for my lived experiences and also my romanticizing of Australia’s allure, both the good and the bad.

Adrian, the Aussie protagonist, is not from Melbourne or Sydney. He never lived or studied in those cities despite having had the opportunity. Instead, he has lived his whole life in southeastern Queensland. This is significant in flavoring his personality. While that corner of Queensland is the most (or is it the only?) liberal and socially tolerant part of the state, it nevertheless is no Melbourne or Sydney. This more conservative worldview is the climate in which he grew up in. It shapes who he is and also how he responds to his relationship with Ketut (the Balinese protagonist) and how he accepts the views of others of their “thing together.”

Queensland has some truly beautiful beaches and attractions. It also has a lot of cows and culturally uncouth people (I’m trying to be politically correct, but I’m sure you get the idea). This normative behavior is not necessarily one that Adrian identifies with–he is, after all, from the most multiracial and largest city in the state–but it is one that he has never really considered as being problematic either. His relationship with Ketut then adds a new level of perspective not just about himself, but also about his home.

Late in the story, rural Queensland becomes the backdrop to the story development. This is in stark contrast to scenes set in Brisbane or the Gold Coast, and certainly with those set in Bali itself. As the dynamics of the story’s setting change, so do the attitudes and perspectives of the protagonists. This also parallels the complicated development of their relationship.

What I like about the idea behind the “World of Love” series is that it exposes us as readers to a world outside of the usual tropes set in the US (with obligatory side trips in Paris or London). Sure, Australia may feel quite familiar to residents of North America and Europe, but it is unlike anywhere else in the world. (OK, sorry New Zealand. To make this claim, I must pretend you don’t exist)! I look forward to hearing from readers of Too Many Temples to see what they think of this region of Australia that I am presenting in the novella.

And what a coincidence. It is released today! Hope you enjoy it!

–Erik Swill

Check out Too Many Temples today!

 

TooManyTemples_postcard_front_DSP

Dreamspinner Press
Amazon

 

Blurb:

Looking to spice up his stagnant sex life in Brisbane, self-professed player Adrian takes a week-long vacation in Bali, anticipating sun, surf, and plenty of no-strings-attached hookups. He doesn’t expect his attraction to the tour guide, Ketut, to become an obsession. As he travels around the beautiful Island of the Gods, Adrian is startled that he might be falling in love after swearing off relationships for good.

When Ketut opens a window of opportunity for a real relationship in Queensland after the vacation ends, Adrian retreats into his life of commitment-free fun. Unable to forget about Ketut, though, Adrian strikes out to the rural Queensland town of Rockhampton to find the man of his desires—hoping he hasn’t lost the chance for true love.

 

Author Bio:

Erik Swill is a professional editor and a cheeky storyteller. He has spent half of his life living abroad and half of that time trying to convince friends that he is not an international fugitive or secret agent. He isn’t. Really. But it probably doesn’t help that he writes under several pseudonyms, moves house frequently, and rarely posts anything on his social media accounts. He has published short fiction in Gay Flash Fiction and erotica in the Nifty Archives. With his longtime partner, Swann O’Hara, he coauthored the novella Wild Goose. Erik likes to write contemporary fiction but will try any genre once. Because why not?

Twitter: @ErikSwill
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ErikSwill

 

Excerpt:

“The sea here is both beautiful and deadly. The color of the water and the temptation to walk out at low tide to the base of the temple… but when the tide comes in and you are left stranded out there, the currents are strong and poisonous sea snakes swim here in large numbers. It’s odd that something so beautiful can also be so deadly. Many people have died here.”

“So it is better to avoid it completely.”

Ketut thought for a moment before answering. “No, Adrian. That makes it all the more important to visit. That people have died to see something so beautiful, so holy, makes this even more special. Sometimes taking a risk can lead to a life-changing experience. Or at least one that you will never forget for the rest of your life. How long will you remember this moment, Adrian? Right here, right now?”

Adrian had been staring into Ketut’s striking eyes as he spoke. There was a depth to him that Adrian admired, something that he would never know based solely on their first encounter. For a moment, Adrian wondered how many of the guys who had served as one-off fucks for him over the years also had something more than a tight ass to offer him. But the thought was short-lived.

Ketut leaned in and pressed his lips lightly against Adrian’s, pulling back slightly after a brief kiss. Adrian refused to let go. He pushed his face forward to continue what Ketut had started. He wasn’t done. The moment was too immediate to settle for anything less.

 

 

Together or Separate w/ Sean Michael

June 27, 2017

Together or Separate-

 

 

Hello, Dreamspinners ☺

The Dom’s Way is #5 in the Iron Eagle Gym series. This is one of those series where all the books are set in the same place, but they don’t always necessarily have to be read in order. Some of the stars of one book, might have cameo appearances in other books. There are a couple of exceptions to that, because some of the characters insisted they needed a second book.

I enjoy working on this kind of series, though. Often one book will grow out of another. For instance, my just subbed sixth book in the series came out of a scene at the end of The Closet Boy – Robin and Stack needed their story told. Other times, the characters are brand new – such as Saw and Day in The Luckiest Master.

With the main setting/’club’ a gym, there’s no limit to the number of books there can be, as there’s so many men who could be members. Someone new can have joined the gym at any time. And of course with BDSM, there are so many different aspects that can be the focus.

So far there are five published books, but as I said, the sixth has just been submitted and I’m working on the seventh, which stars two never before seen characters.

I thought I’d share the reading order and whether or not the book stands alone for the Iron Eagle Gym series.

#1 – The New Boy – stand alone – Tide and Lance’s story
#2 – The Perfect Sub – should read The New Boy first – continues Tide and Lance’s story as well as spends more time with Bran and Ty, who are introduced in The New Boy
#3 – The Luckiest Master – stand alone – Day and Saw’s story
#4 – The Closet Boy – stand alone – Neal and Way’s story
#5 – The Dom’s Way – should read The Closet Boy first  - continues Neal and Way’s exploration into BDSM
#6 and #7 will both be stand alone.

How do you prefer your series? Loosely connected but standalone? Following the same set of characters from book to book? Following different main characters but still needing to be read in order?

Do you still read books in a series in order if they’re only loosely connected but stand alone?

Sean Michael

smut fixes everything

 

Check out The Dom’s Way today!

 
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Dreamspinner Press eBook
Dreamspinner Press Paperback
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Kobo

 

Blurb:

Neal and Way from The Closet Boy are back, only now they’re Dom and sub, and exploring their relationship through the lifestyle. Way is eager to learn everything, and more in love with his master every day. For his part, Neal can’t believe how lucky he is to have found such an innocent but sensual boy.

As they learn what works best for them both, Way has trouble obeying some of the rules Neal imposes. Like the no touching himself rule. Neal wants Way to learn control, but Way, after so long holding back, has trouble not indulging. The two men must work together to find the balance that brings them each the most satisfaction and happiness.

 

Excerpt:

Way hid his face in Neal’s arm, and both Neal and Tide chuckled softly.

“Robin and Stack are working out. And by that I mean actually working out.” Tide grinned.

“Excellent. Come on, boy. Let’s go speak to them.”

“Okay. Yeah. Let’s do this.” Way took a deep breath. He didn’t suppose there was any reason to delay.

Neal took his hand again and led him into the second floor gym, and then across to where Robin and Stack were using the equipment.

Every inch of Robin’s body that he could see was shaved bare. All of it. Head. Eyebrows. All of it. Way’s cheeks burned, and he didn’t know where to look.

Robin smiled and waved at him but didn’t stop working out until Stack did and signaled to Robin to stop.

Then Robin bounced right over to where they were standing. “Hi, Way! And Master Neal.”

“Hello, Robin. You look quite striking. Doesn’t he, Way?” Neal asked.

He looked at the collar of Robin’s shirt, absolutely unable to meet Robin’s eyes. “Yes. I’m sorry about yesterday, Robin.”

“Oh, honey.” Robin came right up to him and grabbed his hands. “I’m sorry we upset you.”

“I….” Then he could look at Robin because Robin wanted to be his friend, and he wanted that too. He grabbed Robin and hugged him tight.

Robin hugged him right back, holding on for a long moment. Then he leaned and looked at Way. “Are you okay, honey?”

“I was so…. I mean, I’d never seen. Never.” He knew he was babbling, but he couldn’t stop.

“It was pretty intense, wasn’t it?” Robin fanned himself. “God, I was flying. Just flying.” Robin glanced over at Stack, the look… incendiary.

“I was a little scared for you,” Way admitted.

“Scared for me?”

He looked over at Stack, then whispered, “The… the… the dildo was so big and then… I saw. I’m so sorry, but I looked and I saw everything.”

Robin preened a little. “Did I look good?”

“You looked amazing.” And that was the truth. Terrifying and overwhelming, but amazing.

“Good.” Robin hugged him again. “I wouldn’t have minded if you’d stayed, but I can totally understand not wanting to, especially without your master.”

“I… I’m not used to… I never even knew that… you know? This?” He was still babbling.

 

Bio:

Best-selling author Sean Michael is a maple leaf–loving Canadian who spends hours hiding out in used book stores. With far more ideas than time, Sean keeps several documents open at all times. From romance to fantasy, paranormal and sci-fi, Sean is limited only by the need for sleep—and the periodic Beaver Tail.

Sean fantasizes about one day retiring on a secluded island populated entirely by horseshoe crabs after inventing a brain-to-computer dictation system. Until then, Sean will continue to write the old-fashioned way.

Sean Michael on the web:

WEBSITE: http://www.seanmichaelwrites.com
BLOG: http://seanmichaelwrites.blogspot.ca
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/SeanMichaelWrites/
TWITTER: seanmichael09
INSTAGRAM: seanmichaelpics

Romantic Resort w/ Ari McKay

June 1, 2017

Romantic Resort

 

Hello, everyone! Ari here, and I’m so very glad you decided to drop by to spend a few minutes with me on the release day for our new Dreamspun Desire story, Breaking Bonds! This is the second book we’ve written featuring one of the Walker boys, from our big family of Texans who love food, family, and romance, and we hope you’ll enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed writing it!

I probably tend to get carried away with my excitement over the stories McKay and I write, but like many authors, we put so much of ourselves into our stories that we can’t help but become attached to them. I found myself more than a little attached to Liam Walker, our MC who takes a break from the cut throat competition of the New York culinary scene to try to get back his sense of perspective. The place he chooses to do that is a fictional resort called The Overlook which happens to be set in a very real place – Maggie Valley, North Carolina.

I’m not a professional chef, although I do love to cook and have a fond wish to someday own a bakery. But one thing I brought to this story was my experience with the food service industry. I spent several years while I was in school working at a country club in Miami, where my cousin was the maitre d’. We catered parties of up to seven hundred people in the big ballroom, and so I became intimately familiar with how big commercial establishments are run. The executive chef of the place was a large, loud, demanding man whom we all called Chef Ray. He was a perfectionist in all things, and while the catering staff were mostly teenagers like myself, we learned quickly to adhere to his standards or risk a tongue lashing that could reduce anyone – the boys included – to tears. There’s a little of Chef Ray in Liam, I have to admit, and while I’m sure Chef Ray has passed on by now, I hope he wouldn’t mind.

Liam was interesting to write because he has so much drive and determination, and knows exactly where he’s going and how he’s going to get there. Or he does until he meets a certain dark haired, dark eyed resort owner who needs help, and that throws a bit of a curve into all his carefully laid plans. But love has a tendency to do that, doesn’t it? That’s the core of Liam’s conflict, because he learns that the issues he had thought were so overwhelming in New York suddenly mean nothing in the face of finding someone he really desires and connects with, someone he comes to realize that he wants more than he wanted his career. And yet he isn’t free to just walk away, either. I’m sure a lot of us have been caught in a similar situation, torn between desire and obligation, between love and duty. It’s a hard place to be in, as Liam discovers, and no matter what choice you make, you feel like it could be the wrong one.

Fortunately for Liam, his personal happily-ever-after was assured, but it doesn’t always work out like that in real life, alas. But that’s one of the wonderful things about fiction — you can use your own experiences, and yet make sure the outcomes are everything you want them to be.

So now I want you to share with me! Tell me what real life experience you have that you think would make an interesting story? Who knows, maybe our next story we’ll be asking for your input!

 

Check out Breaking Bonds today!

 

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Blurb:

From the frying pan into the fire.

After a critic’s review attacks both Chef Liam Walker’s culinary skills and his personal life, Liam can no longer take the heat of the cutthroat New York City restaurant scene. He needs to get out of the kitchen—at least long enough to cool down and regroup.

At the Overlook Resort in North Carolina, Liam meets owner Carter Galloway. Carter has a passion for the hospitality business to rival Liam’s own, and it’s not hard to see where their shared interests—and attraction—could lead. But Carter has no interest in a fling, and Liam has no intention of walking away from the career he fought so hard for. If they want a taste of happiness together, they’ll have to find the courage to break the bonds threatening to pull them apart.

 

About Ari McKay:

Ari McKay is the professional pseudonym for Arionrhod and McKay, who have been writing together for over a decade. Their collaborations encompass a wide variety of romance genres, including contemporary, fantasy, science fiction, gothic, and action/adventure. Their work includes the Blood Bathory series of paranormal novels, the Herc’s Mercs series, as well as two historical Westerns: Heart of Stone and Finding Forgiveness. When not writing, they can often be found scheming over costume designs or binge watching TV shows together.

Arionrhod is a systems engineer by day who is eagerly looking forward to (hopefully) becoming a full-time writer in the not-too-distant future. Now that she is an empty-nester, she has turned her attentions to finding the perfect piece of land to build a fortress in preparation for the zombie apocalypse, and baking (and eating) far too many cakes.

McKay is an English teacher who has been writing for one reason or another most of her life. She also enjoys knitting, reading, cooking, and playing video games. She has been known to knit in public. Given she has the survival skills of a gnat, she’s relying on Arionrhod to help her survive the zombie apocalypse.
Visit Ari on:
Website: arimckay.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Ari-Mckay/266185570179748
Twitter: @AriMcKay1

The Image of Old Town Stone Acres with Pat Henshaw + Giveaway

May 31, 2017

 

the image of old town stone acres

 

Hi, I’m Pat Henshaw, the author of the Foothills Pride contemporary gay romance series. Today’s the release day for Frank at Heart, #6 in the series. Like the other five novellas, Frank can be read as a standalone, so you don’t have to have read any of the other books to enjoy this one.

When I first realized I was writing a series about a fictional Gold Rush town that was suffering growing pains as it entered the 21st century, I had a hazy idea of what the place looked like.

My husband and I liked to get away whenever we could and explore the Sierra Nevada foothills outside Sacramento where we live. There we would eat lunch in small town cafés and stroll around community parks which often sported elaborate bandstands.

As is the fictional town of Stone Acres, these communities were struggling with how much of the past to keep and how much to let go when the year 2000 rolled around.

Should they keep the wooden sidewalks, the hitching posts, and the crumbling facades? Or should they rebuild and refurbish? Do they appeal to tourists’ interest in history or outdoors activities?

When it came time to work with an artist to design a cover, I was at a loss. I knew I wanted something that reflected both the old and the new. But most gay romances I’d read had a naked or near naked torso and nothing much else on the cover.

While that would have been an easy solution, it wouldn’t have reflected what the books were about. As a reader, I think it’s important that the cover give an idea or a feeling about the book. Sure, I can get this from the blurb, but the first visual impression is important to me too.

Fortunately, through the randomness of draw, my cover was assigned to AngstyG. She not only held my hand through the process, but understood how to meld the idea of old meets new in all the covers she’s designed for the series.

In fact, we’re so in tune that the cover for Frank at Heart was perfect from the first submission. I couldn’t (and didn’t) change a thing—including the bird on the roof of the hardware store. (I love the whimsy of it.)

The covers follow a simple pattern, but even using that and a similar color palette, they all reflect their stories. Not only are the central characters depicted, but a building like one found in typical Foothills towns and images important to the story are included.

AngstyG is so good that after Redesigning Max released, a gay friend of mine asked to be introduced to one of the cover models. I had to tell my friend that not only did the guy not exist, but that, as AngstyG put it, he was Frankensteined, meaning she’d built his image from photos of four different men.

As an artist she’s so good that the jagged scar Adam from When Adam Fell got as a teen looks and feels real even though it’s just smoke and mirrors, as she described it.

The publishing process includes so much more than my writing a book and having editors who smooth it out. So if you feel as if you’ve met these characters as you begin reading the stories, part of the reason is that AngstyG has set you up to like them.

It’s been my privilege to work with all the people at Dreamspinner in getting my books to see the light of day, but one of the people I’m particularly grateful to is AngstyG.

Do you have a favorite book cover that you think wonderfully illustrates its story? Please share it with us below in order to win a copy of one of my backlist titles.

 

 Check out Frank at Heart today!

 

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Dreamspinner Press
Amazon
Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble
Google Play

 

Blurb: 

Everything about thirty-five-year-old Stone Acres hardware store owner Frank McCord is old-fashioned—from his bow tie and overalls to the way he happily makes house calls to his dreams of lasting romance, true love, and marriage. Frank’s predecessors have run the store and been mainstays in the small California town for over a century. While genial Frank upholds tradition and earns the respect of friends and neighbors, he fears he’s too dull and old to attract a husband.

Then handsome thirty-six-year-old electronic games designer Christopher Darling and his fifteen-year-old son, Henry, come into his life. Christopher has everything Frank could want in a potential partner: charm, kindness, and compatibility. Also, he’s a terrific father to Henry. When their Stone Acres home turns out to be uninhabitable, Frank offers the Darlings temporary lodging in his ancestral farmhouse, where he and his tenant Emil reside. Since Emil thinks Frank is his, sparks fly. Suddenly, Frank’s monotonous life promises to explode with love and threatens to change him forever.

 

FrankAD22

 

Author Bio:

Pat Henshaw, author of the Foothills Pride Stories, has spent her life surrounded by words:  Teaching English composition at the junior college level; writing book reviews for newspapers, magazines, and websites; helping students find information as a librarian; and promoting PBS television programs.

Pat was born and raised in Nebraska where she  promptly left the cold and snow after college, living at various times in Texas, Colorado, Northern Virginia, and Northern California.  Pat enjoys travel, having visited Mexico, Canada, Europe, Nicaragua, Thailand, and Egypt, and Europe, including a cruise down the Danube.

Her triumphs are raising two incredible daughters who daily amaze her with their power and compassion.  Fortunately, her incredibly supportive husband keeps her grounded in reality when she threatens to drift away while writing fiction.

Author media links:

Website: http://patbooked.blogspot.com
Website: www.pathenshaw.com (under construction)
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pat.henshaw.10
Twitter: https://twitter.com/phenshaw
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Pat-Henshaw/e/B00BPDEDEA/
Email: patoisca@yahoo.com