Tia Fielding: My Dreamspinner Journey So Far

August 10, 2016

Tia Fielding joins us today to chat about hew new book One Step Forward.

My Dreamspinner Story So Far

In 2010, I had been writing fan fiction for a while. I loved to write, and I’d been doing it as an escape of my problems with depression, anxiety, and ADHD. I’d been studying business—that’s the closest I can easily describe it in English anyway—and it hadn’t quite panned out for me. I’d loved some of the studies, but the depression had snuck back up on me and there I was, unable to study or maintain a day job.

The fan fiction I wrote was 95% slash, meaning male/male pairings. At some point I figured, hey, there has to be actual books, original stories, out there, right? Some of the people I knew in fan fiction circles wrote original stuff and a couple of them got publishing deals, and I started to wonder, what if…?

I think I found Dreamspinner Press quite randomly. I started to read their books and gaze upon the submission calls page longingly every now and then. I realized they were awesome as a publisher, I never read a “bad book” by them, and they sort of became the ideal for me when it came to gay romance.

One day I saw a call for submissions for a cowboy themed anthology. It was immediate, how I got the idea and started writing, thinking I’d never get in but what the heck, at least they might give me feedback. I wrote a story called Auld Lang Syne, sent it to Dreamspinner, and pretty much forgot about it.

I got a reply many, many weeks later. They said they didn’t want the story for the anthology. My heart was crushed, but then I read the rest of that email. They wanted to know if I’d let them publish the story as a standalone instead, outside the anthology.

Now, for those out there not familiar with the publishing side of things, anthologies make very little money for the authors of the stories. More authors, less money to divide between them, and you pretty much end up one of many inside the theme, especially if you’re a new author. Being published separately means people notice you. You get all the royalties from the story for yourself. I jumped up and down, and answered yes as soon as humanly possible.

Before Auld Lang Syne came out, another story of mine beat it to it. Unwind was published part of the 2011 Daily Dose which was all about first times, whatever that meant. A bit over a month later Auld Lang  Syne was published, and there it was, the elusive writing thing had finally “paid off,” if only in a small way.

Because my writing original fiction had kicked up a notch and I’d produced my first novel in November of 2010 during NaNoWriMo, the next book of mine that got published was By Any Other Name. That book has many fans who tell me about their love for it still, and I find that miraculous in itself. My very first novel and people love it five years later? Yeah, whoa.

In 2012 I had six releases, in 2013 three (two of those were novels), and in 2014 two (both novels, one of which I co-wrote with Anna Martin who I’d originally met during the fan fiction days and who still is one of my best friends.) Things had started to wind down for me. The depression was getting worse and worse, and that had started to affect my muses in a way I hadn’t expected. I had to give away all my deadlines, knowing I wouldn’t make them anyway. That felt like giving up, but it was all I could do at that point.

Things got pretty bad, writing wise. Last year, I only had one release, the short story Up To Boil, once again part of the Daily Dose anthology. My mental health had rendered me incapable of doing the one thing I now knew was the thing I wanted to do with my life: writing.

I had an old story, all the way back to the very beginning of my writing career, that I’d never finished. Around the end of 2015 I took a look at that story and decided it was time to write the rest of it. It took me surprisingly little time to finish it, and a whole lot of editing and pre-reading by friends and beta readers, but I managed to submit it to Dreamspinner Press in a timely manner (I’d asked for a deadline for it, just so I had a schedule for the story if they wanted to publish it.)

By some miracle, they wanted the story. It had a different name originally, but we changed it into One Step Forward during editing. It was a tricky story to write, which meant it had been more than five years coming. It was even trickier to finish, in some way, because one of the main themes in the story is depression and the long road to recovery. I wasn’t there with the recovery, myself, still aren’t, so it took some wrestling with my head to get it done but there it is!

I guess finishing the old story kicked up my writing again, because somehow I ended up claiming a state for the States of Love collection and wrote a story about Colorado with surprisingly little effort. That story is now in the editing stages, and I’m writing a story for the World of Love collection, too. Because I’m from Finland, still live here, I wanted to write the World of Love story for my country. Fingers crossed I make yet another deadline in a long row of many yet to come!

For me, writing has always been a part of me. It’s my identity, a thing that nurtures me. When depression gets the best of my writing muse, it gets worse. On those times when the depression lessens, my muses perk up and I manage to write some. After I write, I feel better, and the depression takes a step back. So far those steps have been temporary, but let’s hope I’ll manage to kick this thing enough to be able to write full time one day!

In any case, my journey with Dreamspinner Press has been nothing short of wonderful. Once, I never thought they’d want to publish me, and yet here I am, five years, seven novels, and many other stories later, and still feel like part of the family.

Thanks for reading my books and this blog post! I hope you enjoy One Step Forward, and the Finland story whenever that one comes out. In the name of writing about my home, I wanted to ask you this:

If I—or any other foreigner—came to your home town, what would you show me?

For me, the obvious choice would be the nature around where I live. Like in the above picture of me. That is from a place called Koli, which is one of Finland’s national landscapes and definitely one of my go-to spots if I ever got a foreign visitor!

Come find me on social media:

Website –  http://www.tiafielding.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/authortiafielding
Twitter: https://twitter.com/tiafielding
Instagram: https://twitter.com/tiafielding

Check out One Step Forward today!

OneStepForward_postcard_front_DSP

 

Blurb:

Sam Becker, a horse whisperer, agrees to take one last job before retiring to his Texas ranch. It’s clear as soon as he meets the Taylor family in Kentucky that he’s in for a challenge. What he doesn’t expect is the way his own wounds reopen. He’s never really dealt with the suicide of his mentally ill wife, and he won’t be able to ignore that hurt forever.

Joshua Taylor and his horse, Calla, were a force to be reckoned with on the eventing circuit until an accident ended their careers. Most of the pain is on the inside, however, and Sam knows those injuries are the slowest to mend. Sam’s unique methods help Calla and, surprisingly, Josh, but he’s still lost without riding. Their feelings for each other come hard and fast, and Josh starts his first steps of recovery, but Sam needs to return to Texas eventually. Even if Josh is able to move past the accident, they’ll still have a long and difficult journey to make before they can be together.

 

About Tia:

Tia Fielding is a thirtysomething Scandinavian who is a lover of witty people, words, cats, sarcasm, autumn, and the tiny beautiful things in life. Tia struggles with stubborn muses and depression, but both are things she has learned to live with. Tia identifies as genderqueer, but isn’t strict about pronouns. Why? Because luckily, in her native language there aren’t gender-specific pronouns. Being a reclusive author living with her fur-babies is another fact of life for Tia, among the need to write that seems to be a part of her psyche.

Tia Fielding

Hot Summer, Cool Reads with Vicki Reese

August 9, 2016

Vicki Reese joins us today to talk about her new book, What the Carpenter Saw.

Hot Summer, Cool Reads

 

Hi all! I’m Vicki Reese, a new to Dreamspinner author and I’m really excited to be part of this amazing group of authors. So, pull up a chair, grab a cup of your favorite beverage, put your feet up and relax and we’ll chat a bit.

There, isn’t that better?

Like other authors I’m here to tell you a little about me and a little about my book, What the Carpenter Saw.

Right now it’s mid-summer where I am and hot as blazes with high humidity (about 93 degrees F with 95% humidity). Ugh. Thank goodness for AC – and ice, especially in my tea. I’m partial to either English Breakfast or Green Mint. Or I make my own with homegrown mint – they call it “Meadow Tea” in these parts, but I just call it good. It’s really refreshing on a hot day. Sometimes, I just toss pieces of frozen lemons and some fresh ginger into water along with some ice. What’s your favorite beverage on a hot day?

I live in a small town in Amish country, which was the inspiration for my story. I’ve never lived in a big town. Okay, not never, but even the “big city” I lived in for a very short time was actually rather small by most standards. I’m a country girl at heart, and so is my character, Jake Cramer. I love the slower pace of a small town. For us, taking twenty minutes to get from one end of town to the other is a huge traffic jam. And we can always avoid the main drag by taking the back roads around it. There’s nothing like driving through fields waving with ripening wheat, pale green spikes of corn coming up, cows and mules chewing the grasses in their fields. Though I will admit that the “aromas” aren’t always mouthwatering (more like eyes tearing up). I have to laugh when I see air fresheners with “Fresh Country Scent” as their title. The people who name it obviously haven’t ever been to the country when the farmers have just fertilized the fields with manure, or had to scrub skunk from their dog. Not the best smell in the world.

Big cities may have their neon lights and excitement, but for me, that doesn’t compare to sitting on the front porch swing at dusk watching the fireflies blinking through the yards or seeing the real stars up in the sky.

But just because we’re small doesn’t mean we don’t have our troubles. They just may not be as prevalent as in bigger cities, but we have them. And that was the basis for my story. Drugs, theft, murder – we have them here too, unfortunately. But when you have a good support system, as my characters Alex and Jake do, it can mean everything.

I hope you enjoy reading “What the Carpenter Saw” as much as I enjoyed writing it.

 

EXCERPT:

Chapter One

 

JAKE CRAMER stared out the kitchen window at the thick woods behind his dad’s house. A mixture of brilliantly colored hardwoods and evergreens edged with a gurgling stream—so different from the harsh rock and sand of the Middle East. Though he wasn’t cold, he shivered a little as wisps of steam rose from the water, forming tendrils of icy fog along the bank. Frost had coated the lawn and garden overnight and was still visible in the areas the sun hadn’t yet touched. South Central Pennsylvania was so much better than the Middle East, and he loved the small town of Robinwood. It was the kind of place where you knew your neighbors and the shopkeepers by their first names. The kind of place that was great to grow up in, raise a family in. The kind of place it was good to come back to.

“Jake? You okay?” his dad, Micah, aka Big Mike, asked.

Mike came to stand next to him as Jake nodded. “Yeah. Just looking at the trees. I missed this when I was over there.”

“I know what you mean. Though where I was stationed wasn’t as bad as Afghanistan, I can’t say I was fond of the desert when I was there.” His dad clapped him on the shoulder, and Jake fought back a wince. The scars there still bothered him, but he refused to let it show.

His dad handed him a coffee thermos. “You ready to get to work? Your brother’s already on his way.”

Jake nodded and turned from the view. His dad had served in the Gulf War. Different area, same scenery. The Pennsylvania landscape held Jake’s heart. And work with the family construction company was exactly what he needed. Hammers and saws and wood. Building things, not blowing them up or shooting them full of holes. Though coming home hadn’t been easy. His family, especially his mom, had coddled him to the point of smothering him. He loved them all dearly, but he also needed to find his own way. It was slow, but he was getting there. “I’m coming. We working on the Johnson place today? I’ve got the cabinets ready to go in.”

“No. There’s a delay on the flooring for the kitchen. We’re working the McKenzie lot today. I want to get it under roof before the cold sets in. Sam will handle the crew there. I need you to go to the old Wilson place and make a list of what we’ll need to do there and in what order. The new owner wants to do a complete overhaul. He’s turning the old mansion into a B and B. I’ll meet you there after I do a supply run for your brother.”

“Works for me.” Jake shivered and grabbed his heavy jacket from the peg next to the back door as Mike opened it. Though he’d been back for a month, the cold October air still chilled him after the heat of the Middle East. Even with the cold, he’d rather be working a site than doing paperwork, but Mike was the boss, and Jake didn’t have a whole lot of choice in the matter.

The chill also made his left arm and leg ache more. At least, what was left of his leg. Because of his injuries, he could no longer do ladder work, definitely not roofing. He was still too unsteady to work a sloping roof. But honestly, he didn’t mind too much. The awkwardness and pain meant he had most of his leg, unlike a lot of other servicemen and women he knew. Sure, metal held parts of it together and it ended below the knee, but that was enough for him to get around with a prosthetic. He rarely needed to use the hated wheelchair anymore. As for his arm, it still worked, sort of. Just not nearly as well as before. Heavy scar tissue and tendon damage made it more of something to fill his sleeve than an actual working arm, though the therapists said he would get some use back the more he worked it. But he’d lived, unlike two other members of his team. And it was also the reason he was stuck doing estimates instead of site work.

(For the full excerpt, click HERE and click on the excerpt link)

 

Check out What the Carpenter Saw today!

 

WhatTheCarpenterSaw_postcard_front_DSP

 

Blurb:

Wounded warrior Jake Cramer returned from the Middle East missing part of one leg and with a partially paralyzed left arm. He feels useless in his family’s construction business, but carpentry is all he knows. He needs to relearn how to work and how to live. He can’t even consider finding a man to love. Who would want him this way?

Alex Ford is a top-of-the-line architect who’s tired of big cities and wants to settle down, maybe run a small inn. The mansion he inherited from his grandparents might be the ticket to his dream, but it needs a lot of work. When he meets the handsome builder, he knows he’s made the right decision. He just needs to convince Jake that his scars don’t matter. Unfortunately, Alex’s greedy family has other ideas, and they’re determined to ruin Alex’s plans and take the inheritance for themselves—even if they have to kill to do it.

Bio:

Vicki Reese has been married forever to the one person who accepts that she lives in a fantasy world most of the time. She’s even been seen at the beach building worlds for her stories out of sand. In addition to creating fun characters, fantasy worlds, and suspenseful situations, she also enjoys and is very good at things like writing policy and procedures manuals and setting up continuity and organizational spreadsheets, both of which she has actually earned money doing. She has a master’s degree in library science so likes things organized. Okay, so her family thinks having the spice rack alphabetized it a bit much, but she has no trouble finding what she needs when she needs it. And just because her extensive library is cataloged and organized, that doesn’t mean she’s obsessive. Honest. When not writing, Vicki works as an editor, helping other authors with their manuscripts. When not doing either one of those, she can be found in the kitchen whipping up gluten-free, lactose-free, other allergy-free meals for her family. Or watching the world go by from her front porch swing.

Where to find Vicki:

Website: http://www.vickireese.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorVictoria
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorVictoria

When Fate Falls Short: Sources of Inspiration with Brooke Edwards

August 4, 2016

Sources of Inspiration

Hi! I’m Brooke Edwards, and so very glad to be back with DSP for the second time, with “When Fate Falls Short” in the Bittersweet Dreams line. I was beyond excited when I received the contract offer for this one after having such a great experience with my first piece “Mens Rea” in the Never Too Late anthology last year. This has been wonderful, right from the initial edits and cover art production all the way to the final galley before my part was done. As the first time I’ve been involved in the promotion side of things, there were so many different things to consider and do this time that were completely new.

It has been especially good over the last few weeks, having lots of things to learn and do, because I find that I work best when I have several things to concentrate on at once. It means much less panic about the impending release! If I sit there and have to focus strictly on one thing my mind wanders very quickly to the very furthest thing from what I’m supposed to be doing. This causes major problems when I’m doing things that require absolute undivided attention, but luckily writing seems to work better for me when I’m a little distracted. It’s not at all unusual for me to have my laptop or a notebook up on the kitchen counter while I’m experimenting, or satisfying a craving. Writing and food often go hand in hand for me.

One of my favorite things to do once I have settled on the characters for a story is to spend some time figuring out what their relationship with food is. Sometimes it works out because my MC will have a favorite food that I share and I can justify making batches and batches of it as research. This was part of the reason for the immense amount of hot chocolate I drank last winter, on behalf of both Sean and Nathan. Sean’s fondness for marshmallows is something I don’t share, unfortunately.

When the laptop isn’t in the kitchen with me, chances are it’ll be in front of the TV instead. I wrote ‘Mens Rea’ I was binge-watching ‘The Office’ for the first time and now, every time I hear the music from the opening credits, I’m taken right back to the nerves and excitement of putting together my submission email. The entire process, from writing to submitting, lasted about as long as it took me to watch the entire series.

In comparison, the writing, rewriting and submission of “When Fate Falls Short” was stretched out over nearly 12 months so there was a lot less consistency in sources of inspiration. I cycled through a lot of shows while I was writing it, most notably ‘White Collar’, ‘Swamp People’, ‘The IT Crowd’ and ‘Friends’. It was pretty emotionally draining at points so funny, lighthearted shows helped. I had to drag myself away from the story more than once before I found myself down the rabbit hole. I didn’t go into it with a clear plan for what I wanted to happen, only the central idea of the tangle between Nathan, Sean and Jesse. When I finally realized where the story was going, it was less of a jubilant epiphany and more of a soul-crushing realization that neither Sean or Jesse were going to get their happy ending with each other. My iTunes was playing through an old Blink 182 album and ‘Feeling This’ came on. For anyone who doesn’t know it, the inspiration for the title came right from a line in the song and I had it on loop more than once during the rest of the writing process. I doubt I’ll ever be able to listen to it without drowning in a sea of feelings about Sean, Jesse and Nathan.

Do you have any songs like that? Ones that are associated so strongly with a person or event or feeling that you get sent back in time every time you hear them?

I’ll pick one lucky commenter to receive a free copy of “When Fate Falls Short” so make sure to leave the email address you have registered with DSP in the comment, and I’ll end this with a little excerpt to hopefully pique your interest!

 

- Brooke

 

September 2010

Sean and Isaac, along with Jacob Lawson, launch their tech startup at the end of February in 2010. Isaac’s inheritance from his grandmother funds a large portion of their initial setup, and the three sink a not-inconsiderable amount of their savings into the business. By the middle of June, things are getting uncomfortably lean, but in July something clicks. By September they’re viable enough that their first investor approaches them.
Nathan’s squadron of firefighters invades the office for an impromptu party at midday on the twenty-fifth of September, after a night shift. Nathan smells like a strange mix between soap and smoke when he wraps himself around Sean and hums happily into the side of his neck.
“I’m so damn proud of you,” he says, and Sean honestly thinks it’s the greatest moment of his life.

April 2012

Nathan and Sean put a down payment on their house in March and move in on April 11. Nathan takes two weeks off, and Sean pretends he’s going to work from home even though Isaac and Jake both know he has no intention of doing any such thing. They still let him leave the office the Friday before moving day with grins, exuberant congratulations, and a truly terrifying garden gnome with a polka-dotted bow around its neck.
Sean promises them it will sit right by the front door, and that night he laughs himself almost sick at Nathan’s horrified expression when he shows him.

Around dusk on the twelfth, after two hectic days of moving, Deanna stands up and surveys the front yard. Her clothes and gloves are dirty and dusty, but her smile is bright. The gerbera daisies are vivid spots of color in the otherwise sparse garden beds.
“There,” she says, and Sean bites back a playful jab at the sight of tears in her eyes. “Now you can pick your own flowers instead of ransacking my garden.”
Nathan beams at them from the other side of the yard, where he’s patting the dirt down around another patch of daisies. Tania and Richard are laughing from the driveway, and Sean thinks he might explode with the joy swelling in his chest. Not even the slightly pained expression his father has worn all day can take it away.

Check out When Fate Falls Short today!

WhenFateFallsShort_postcard_front_DSP

Blurb:

Childhood sweethearts Nathan Maxwell and Sean Adams took ten years to realize they belonged together, followed by ten years of bliss. When it is snatched away, Sean is left alone with the aftermath. Lost and grieving in a world that doesn’t make sense without Nathan by his side, he struggles to keep himself afloat… until he meets Jesse Lawrence.
The shadow of a congenital heart defect has hung over Jesse like a dark cloud all his life. Nathan’s death saves Jesse’s life—providing the heart Jesse needs to survive—and a chance encounter between their best friends plants Jesse in Sean’s orbit. But how well can a love triangle between a dead man, his grieving lover, and the one with his heart beating in his chest possibly turn out? Real feelings and pure intentions might not be enough.

Bio:

Author, dreamer, fangirl and foodie – twenty-something Brooke Edwards will always call Australia home no matter where the wanderlust takes her. Her tertiary education bounced from history and linguistics to criminology and history and even went as far as nutrition and sports/exercise science. Making ends meet through a similarly wide variety of jobs from education, retail, fitness, hospitality and finance means she never has any shortage of inspiration for characters or their adventures. Writing, closely followed by the culinary arts, has been her longest-running and most consistent passion and her greatest dream would be to one day not have to do anything else but write. Until then, she can probably be found in a caffeine-induced haze either behind her computer or in the kitchen.

www.brookeedwardsauthor.com
https://www.facebook.com/brooke.edwards.52459
http://twitter.com/bedwardswego

Santa Comes to Town with C. J. Anthony – Post + Giveaway

July 28, 2016

C. J. Anthony joins us today to chat about her story for Christmas in July – Falling for Santa Claus!

Santa Comes to Town

Hi, I’m C. J. Anthony, I’m a new author at Dreamspinner with my first release out July 24, called Falling for Santa Claus

This is the sixth stop on my blog tour. I hope you’ll prop your feet up, grab some ice cold lemonade or ice tea, turn that AC up to it’s coldest setting and blast it while you follow along. You’ll get to find out more about the story, why I wrote it and also a little extra side story about what Jack, Nick and the other residents of Great Falls are up to this summer. At the end of the tour, I’ll be choosing two winners from all the comments on all of the blogs (which means every time you comment on a different blog, you get another entry!) and they’ll receive a special Christmas in July gift from Santa himself. Blog links are listed below.

This is my first book with Dreamspinner, and I’m so excited! I’ve been reading M/M gay romance since 2011 and Dreamspinner has always been one of my favorite go-to publishers.

My book is Falling for Santa Claus, and yes, that’s right… it’s a Christmas story released in July! My main focus for the story was just to write a warm and fuzzy Christmas story. It had been a while since I’d written anything and I decided something light and fun and short would help get me back in the groove.

It does actually take place during the Christmas season, in a very small, very nosy fictional town in Vermont called Great Falls. The town holds a lot of festivals and celebrations throughout the year and Christmas is of course no exception. There is a Christmas parade (featured prominently in the book), and they also decorate the town all up in lights and festive decorations. They hold a town Christmas party where many of the people go from house to house during an evening—sort of a Christmas party crawl, I suppose could be another name for it.

I live in a small town (not as small as Great Falls) and while my town doesn’t do Christmas up quite as festively as Great Falls, there are a few events the town does. There’s a decorative light display at our fairgrounds. Local organizations hold craft fairs. We do have a small parade, I think.

As for my own traditions, I try to always put my tree up Thanksgiving weekend, though I’m not always successful, depending how busy the weekend is. I don’t do Black Friday sales anymore but I did when I was younger, with my mother. Every Friday after Thanksgiving was spent in line outside a store at 0-dark thirty waiting for the store to open. (Of course Black Friday has changed so much since, with stores opening Thanksgiving Day, etc.)

We always opened our own gifts on Christmas Eve with hot chocolate and cookies. Christmas morning was for “Santa” gifts, when I was young enough to believe. Christmas day is dinner at my aunt’s house, and the food is always family Italian dishes.

What are some of your own Christmas traditions? Or fun Christmas events in your town? Enjoy the excerpt below and then comment below, I’d love to hear about everyone’s holiday traditions.

 

Excerpt:

Reluctantly I got up, only to discover I was out of coffee. I’d forgotten that the general store had been so crowded Wednesday with people getting last-minute essentials for their Thanksgiving meals, that I had turned around and walked out without even grabbing a cart. Hence, the empty coffee canister today. Crap. With a sigh I headed upstairs, got dressed, and walked the three blocks to Mabel’s. At which time I discovered—too late—why Nick had told me to stay away from town. The streets and tiny shops were flooded with people. Every single man, woman, and child who resided in Great Falls was bustling about, yelling and carrying packages. Black Friday sales were apparently not just for big city stores. All of the shops had huge signs of 50% off and Buy One, Get One Free. It was only seven thirty in the morning, and every store had lines of people out the door waiting to check out, because there was no room for everyone to crowd inside. I laughed at how ridiculous it was. In Chicago, customers who had made it outside the store with their item but hadn’t paid for it yet would keep on walking—if not running—to get out of there before they were caught. But not in Great Falls. Here everyone was so honest and faithful they all lined up and patiently waited to pay for their purchases. No, wait. These people were far from patient. In fact this was a side of the townspeople I had not seen before. People were barking at each other, pushing and shoving. Good God, Mrs. Glassman just tackled Herb in an attempt to grab a Magic Bullet Pro 900 blender out of his arms!

It felt like I was in the twilight zone…. Where had my nice, quiet, friendly town gone? What alien ship had come down and replaced all of the residents’ souls? I guess no town was free from the greed of Black Friday.

I managed to squeeze and push my way to Mabel’s, which, thank God, was open and completely empty.

Mabel smiled and poured a cup of coffee for me. “Mornin’, Jackie.”

I sat down at the counter, inhaled a big whiff of coffee, and sighed. “Good morning, Mabel. How come you’re not out there with everyone else?” I asked as I took a big gulp of the hot, energizing elixir.

“Because in about an hour or so, they’ll all be heading in here for coffee and breakfast.”

I shuddered. “I hope you don’t have any specials today. They’ll be ripping the food out of your hands.”

Mabel cackled. “Nah, they’ll have cooled off by then.” Then she frowned as she stared out the window. “At least… I hope so.” A second later her wide grin was back as she turned toward me. “So what can I get you, Jackie?”

“I’ll take a breakfast sandwich with egg and ham to go. And another coffee, also to go. I think I’m going back home and staying there for the day.”

She cackled again as she headed back into the kitchen.

A bit later she handed me my sandwich in a bag and the coffee in a to-go cup.

“Jackie, don’t pay this morning no mind. Be sure to come back through town later this evening,” she said softly as she winked at me.

When I got outside, I took one look at the crowd and turned in the opposite direction, toward the library. It was closed for the holiday weekend, but I had plenty of work and administrative duties I could get caught up on. I ended up working all day, eating lunch from the vending machine, so it was pitch-dark out when I finally locked up about six and started home. I’d only walked a block when I had to stop and stare at the scene before me. The streets were nearly empty, normal traffic for six o’clock in the evening. But the town! What a complete difference from this morning. Every house was lit up with white and red and blue and yellow and green and all the twinkling lights of Christmas. There were pine wreaths on doors and garlands around lampposts. Lighted reindeer sculptures and cheery plastic Santa Clauses adorned front yards. A light snow began to fall, right on cue. It was all so perfect, like a scene out of a movie, or better yet, a living, breathing snow globe. As I walked, I saw neighbors helping each other. Even Herb was helping Mrs. Glassman string lights up to the top peak of her house.

It took me twice as long as usual to get home because I was soaking in all the spirit and joy that exuded from every house. People waved and yelled hello, and I waved right back. My face muscles ached from smiling so much. I was so glad Mabel had told me to come back tonight. No matter the issues that came with living in a small town like Great Falls, moments like these made it all worth it.

Check out Falling for Santa Claus today!

FallingForSantaClaus_postcard_front_DSP

Dreamspinner Press  Amazon  ARE  BN  Kobo

Blurb:

When Jack Frost’s aunt dies and leaves him her house in the tiny town of Great Falls, Jack seizes the opportunity to escape the rat race of Chicago for the quaint village he loved as a child. On his first night he’s welcomed by a baseball bat and a trespassing warning from Nick St. James—longtime Great Falls resident and infamous curmudgeon.

Jack wants to give Nick the benefit of the doubt—he can’t deny his attraction to the big man—but after several run-ins with Nick’s grumpiness and closed-off heart, he’s ready to give up. Only after discovering the secret Nick’s been covering up for years does he vow to break through Nick’s walls to find the loving man hiding behind them.

Follow the rest of the tour:

July 17 - MM Good Book Reviews
July 21 -  Oh My Shelves
July 24 - Divine Magazine
July 24 - Love Bytes
July 25 - Bayou Book Junkie
July 28 - Dreamspinner Press Blog
July 29 - Prism Book Alliance

Author Bio:

C. J. Anthony started reading and writing at an early age. She attributes her love of reading and romance to her mother who not only taught her to read but also made countless trips to the library lugging piles of books home for her to read. She loved getting lost in the people and places and adventures she found in books. It wasn’t a far jump to start writing her own stories, early childhood tales about flower families and travelling to the moon with her best friend.

C. J. has always been a hopeless romantic, believing in true love and soul mates, and HEAs with a little humor and a little angst along the way–life is never perfect, after all, but everyone deserves a happy ending and someone there to catch them when they fall. Her favorite stories to read and write revolve around the idea of “opposites attract”—couples who start out as two people who couldn’t be more different from each other. They might appear to be the odd couple to the rest of the world, but to each other they are perfect, creating their own happy ever after with a little hard work and a whole lot of love.

Not surprisingly, C. J. is a big lover of Rom Coms—she’ll gladly take Julia Roberts standing in front of Hugh Grant asking him to love her, over car crashes and shoot-em up movies any day. She also watches way too much TV and every singing reality show there is. She loves music and musicians of all genres with the attitude that nothing is a guilty pleasure and all music has a purpose even if it is just to make you dance and laugh.

She spends most of her time juggling a day job and a commute and freelance design work on the side and falling asleep on her couch.

 

You can find C. J. at:

https://www.facebook.com/cjanthony.writer

@C_J_Anthony on twitter

www.cjanthony.wordpress.com

All Sorts of Stories with Kelly Jensen – Post + Giveaway

July 27, 2016

All Sorts of Stories

Liquorice Allsorts are one of my favourite candies. I adore the combination of flavours and textures. Strong aniseed layered with fruit and coconut; chewy liquorice and soft gelatine. My reading tastes are similar. I read widely, across most genres. I will follow space opera with contemporary romance, then pick up a supernatural thriller, follow that with some epic fantasy, read something kinky, then settle in with a lush historical. So it comes as no surprise that as a writer, I also like to cross genres and mix things up.

Allsorts1

My first published book was a post-apocalyptic love story with aliens. I kinda knew at the time it wouldn’t be a bestseller—that it would be too weird for most folks. But I loved writing it! I followed that one up with a story about, um, kinky robots. Then some more science fiction romance (the Chaos Station series co-written with Jenn Burke). Next up was contemporary romance—and even there, I had to mix it up. I wrote about a forty-five year old, then a pair of college students. Then an established couple.

Last week saw the release of my first story featuring a questioning character—Marc, a twenty-something accountant who has been so focused on his career, he’s found it easy to ignore the fact women just don’t do it for him. Then he meets Henry and it’s as if the sun has peeked between the clouds. It’s revelation time and Counting Fence Posts presents him with a chance to form a new plan. The story is told from Henry’s point of view, because I like to look at some characters a little sideways. Also, Henry’s perspective is as important as Marc’s—as their relationship will be made up of not one, but two people.

Writing Henry and Marc gave me a chance to talk about sexuality, which is something I don’t often do in my stories. Happily, most of my LGBT characters live in worlds (and neighbourhoods) where their sexuality is nothing but their own business. It would be naïve and perhaps neglectful for me to assume every character exists in such a state of bliss. The most important aspect of writing Counting Fence Posts for me, however, was staying true to my characters. To present their thoughts, feelings and questions. To explore their anxieties, as if they were real people, while keeping in mind that everyone is a different allsort. Our layers and flavours unique.

Today sees the release of my first paranormal tale, Best in Show. This one was so much fun to write, and a completely new field for me. I’d long wanted to write a story about a cat who was actually an alien in disguise. When I saw the Dreamspinner Press call for stories about unusual shifters, my cat character locked himself up in an animal shelter and said, “Write me out of this situation.” So I created a mystery writer who didn’t really want a pet, but ended up with one anyway.

For all my varied reading tastes, I don’t often pick up dark, angst-ridden stories. When I read paranormal, I look for books that take a lighter view. I also really enjoy writing humour. So Best in Show is paranormal “lite”. There are shifters and magic, but essentially, it’s the story of how fun-loving prankster Mac sweeps into the life of lonely mystery writer Julian and shakes things up. Mac plays the part of the sun peeking through clouds, because I love stories like that—where one character shows the other a new way of seeing things. Doing things. Mac has his own issues, of course. He’s human—mostly. But for Julian, he’s that absolutely necessary ray of sunshine.

I have plans to continue both of these stories, which means I’ll be writing a little more questioning and a lot more magic and mayhem. Then I might write Indiana Jones in space, or the post-apocalyptic Christmas love story with magic I’ve been fiddling with. Or maybe another contemporary. Or the dragon shifter book I almost have plotted.

I’d love to hear about your reading choices. Do you mix it up, or stick to a couple of favourite genres? Comment below for a chance to win a title from my Dreamspinner Press backlist.

(Follow the rest of my tour for character interviews, behind the book posts, playlists, excerpts and another giveaway.)

 

CountingFencePosts_postcard_front_DSP

Check out Counting Fence Posts!

There are over two hundred thousand fence posts between Syracuse and Boston. Henry Auttenberg likes numbers—it’s his job—but he isn’t going to count them all, even if the view outside the rental car is less confounding than the driver, his attractive but oh so obnoxious colleague, Marcus Winnamore. It’s Christmas Eve and Henry would much rather be home with his family. When the blizzard that grounded their flight forces them off the road, however, he’s stuck with Marc until the storm passes—or a plow digs them out.

As the temperature outside plummets, the atmosphere inside the car slowly heats up. Henry learns the true reason for Marc’s chilly distance—he’s not exactly straight…maybe…and he’s been fantasizing about Henry’s mouth, among other things. Confession laid out, Marc is all for sharing body heat…and more. Henry isn’t interested in being an experiment, but as the night and cold deepen, he could be convinced to balance certain risk against uncertain reward.

 

BestInShow_postcard_front_DSP

Check out Best in Show!

Solitary mystery writer Julian Wilkes doesn’t want a pet, but his sister persuades him to visit Lingwood Animal Rescue, where he is immediately taken with a large ginger tabby cat. Before he can settle into the joys of cat ownership, however, he discovers something very unusual about his new companion.

Macavity Birch is cursed. By day he is a large tabby cat. At night he can be himself—a human male with ginger hair and oddly yellow eyes. He didn’t mean to end up in the animal rescue, but he never meant any harm when playing the prank that resulted in his curse, either. Happily, Julian adopts him. But while exploring his host’s home, he discovers the diary of a long-dead relative.

Unfortunately, not all of Mac’s ancestors are dead and buried. His great-great-great-grandmother is very much alive, and she’s a powerful witch who doesn’t take kindly to the sharing of family secrets. When Mac reveals himself to Julian in order to save him from bigger trouble, he achieves just the opposite, plunging Julian deeper into a magical mystery with him.

 

Bio

If aliens ever do land on Earth, Kelly will not be prepared, despite having read over a hundred stories of the apocalypse. Still, she will pack her precious books into a box and carry them with her as she strives to survive. It’s what bibliophiles do.

Kelly is the author of a number of novels, novellas and short stories, including the Chaos Station series, co-written with Jenn Burke. A lot of what she writes is speculative in nature, but sometimes it’s just about a guy losing his socks and/or burning dinner. Because life isn’t all conquering aliens and mountain peaks. Sometimes finding a happy ever after is all the adventure we need.

Connect with Kelly: Twitter | Facebook | Website

Alex’s Law: Chasing Dreams with Jayce Ellis – Post + Giveaway

July 25, 2016

Jayce Ellis joins us today to chat about new book “Alex’s Law”!

Chasing Dreams

If anyone had told me a year ago when I started writing Alex’s Law, that it would actually be accepted, let alone actually published, I would’ve told them that I wanted whatever they were smoking. For the record, I don’t smoke. But the idea of being an actual author, with my name on a book available for public consumption, was a pipe dream if I ever had one. In the far recesses of my mind, it was always a possibility, just like becoming a professional clarinetist, or even a singer. My singing voice sounds like a dog screeching. It is not pretty. I’d minored in English in college (originally it was a major, but I got lazy and didn’t finish), but it had been my “love” major. Politics was my “job” major. I never expected it to go anywhere.

One fateful day, I was on the Dreamspinner website decided to click under submissions. Why not? What’s the worst that could happen? I mean, aside from them crushing my nascent dream before it began. Seriously though, I would’ve been perfectly content with a polite decline with some suggestions on how to improve. What I got, the reality of Alex’s Law now being available, is way more than I ever expected. So, what was the actual writing process like?

In every way possible, it was the best case of the blind leading the blind. I had no clue what I was doing. I had no clue how to put together a character arc, a story plot, subplots (OMG, what the heck are those?), or anything. And the amazing words and sentences and phrases and everything swirling around in my head turned into complete gibberish on the page. I spent a significant amount of time spent pounding my head on a desk. A solid, cherry wood desk older than me. Not my brightest moment.

Then my husband asked me, “So what do you see these guys as really looking like?” And that switch, from having an abstract idea in my mind to an actual representation, did wonders for me. If you’re interested, check out my Pinterest board for Alex’s Law to see the inspiration for the characters in this book. Once I had real people in my head, I could see real interactions in real situations, and then was able to put something semi-coherent together. I hope you like what I came up with.

Now, I am a series lover. I read series. I devour series. If I see that the book I’m reading is book ten, best believe I’m going to grab books one through nine first. And, with any luck, I’ll read them all in a weekend. Considering how much I toiled putting together 18,000 words, my respect for those authors who write full-length novels, multiple times a year (Charlie Cochet, I’m looking at you), only to have readers like myself consume them in one morning with a cup of coffee and a bagel, has grown exponentially. So, right now I’m working on what will hopefully be book two of this series, with the working title Bailing Out. It is a full-length novel, and with any luck I’ll have it out for consideration by the end of August. If they like it, there are a few more ideas that I have on tap, including (crossing my fingers) a longer novella with Alex and Law. Because in my first draft, many, many moons ago, I had a second subplot—yes, I know, two subplots is absurd. Told you I was a newbie—that delves a little bit more into their backgrounds and their families, that was just way too much to put in this little ditty.

So, let’s wrap this up. Since Dreamspinner has done me the greatest honor in publishing this, I’d like to give something back to the amazing readers. I am doing a $25 giveaway card for Dreamspinner Press books. Given how often they have sales, you can stock up on the cheap. All you have to do is two things. One, leave me a comment below. Tell me when you went after a dream that you thought you’d never achieve, and tell me how that worked out for you. Hopefully we’ll get a lot of positive stories, but they don’t have to be. And two, you can either like my Facebook page, or follow me on Twitter, or sign up for my newsletter. Each other gives you another entry, but everyone who comments will automatically be entered. It closes on July 31, 2016.

Thanks for listening to my ramblings and musings. I can’t wait to see what you guys have to say about chasing your dreams, and thanks so much for all of your support.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Check out Alex’s Law today!

AlexsLaw_postcard_front_DSP

Dreamspinner Press
Amazon
Apple
Barnes and Noble
AllRomanceEbooks

Blurb:

Alex Corrigan is in love with his boss, Judge Lawson Daniels, and thinks those feelings are returned. That assumption is sorely tested two days before the court holiday party they’re organizing together, when the venue calls and cancels, followed by a snafu with the caterer. Alex could handle that, but after an intimate dinner followed by a decidedly unromantic e-mail, he’s left wondering about the future of his employment as well as his relationship with the debonair older man.

Law can’t wait to see his clerk again. But Alex is cold and distant in the light of day, and Law doesn’t understand. The party looms in the background, but Law’s excitement is turning to dread. On top of that, someone is sabotaging them, trying to get Alex fired and drive Law off the bench. If there’s any chance for a happy holiday for Alex and Law, they’ll have to find out who.

 

About Jayce Ellis:

Jayce Ellis has three loves: her husband and her two turtles. Hubby loves her back. The turtles she’s not so sure about, but they do love their sports (Bay Area teams FTW!). She still hasn’t figured out why she lives in Northern Virginia, where there’s weather, instead of California, where she’s from, and where it’s just…pretty. Jayce spends her days divorcing happily-married couples (or so she’s been told), and her nights talking maniacally to herself. Thankfully the recorder catches her rumblings and magically turns them into words on a screen. Painting nails is way easier when you don’t actually have to type, and with well over 500 polishes to get through, there’s a lot of painting going on.

Notwithstanding her no-good, very bad, horrible day job, Jayce seriously believes that true love conquers all. Even Maleficent said it. Sure, she was having an epic Mean Girls moment at the time, but she still said it. And she’s right. The only thing Jayce loves more than writing about true love conquering all, is hearing from readers who feel the same way. Drop her a line; she’d love to hear from you.

Website/blog: www.lawyerwritelife.com
Twitter: @thelawyerwrites
Pinterest: thelawyerwrites
Facebook: Jayce Ellis, author

The Spirit of Hygge with B. Snow – Post + Giveaway

July 24, 2016

B. Snow joins us today to talk about Have a Hygge Holiday!

The Spirit of Hygge

Hi, all, I’m B. Snow, and I’m here to talk about my new release, Have a Hygge Holiday.

“What the what??” I hear you ask. “What does that mean? And how do you even pronounce it??”

I’ll answer both those questions further down in the post, but first I’d like to talk a little about Dreamspinner Press and a recent epiphany I had. It’s germane, I promise. :)

I submitted Have a Hygge Holiday to Dreamspinner’s Advent Calendar with the expectation that it would be rejected, because it’s not the sort of story most people want to read around the holidays. Not to spoil it for anyone, but there are no Christmas miracles, no sweet scenes of reconciliation, no realizations about the value of family. Of course it has [SPOILER ALERT!] a happy ending, and some funny parts, so although it didn’t make it into the Advent Calendar, Dreamspinner very kindly contracted it for their Christmas in July promotion.

And now I’ll go off on another tangent (but it will all make sense in the end, I swear!). In real life, I know a lot of authors who write het romance. I’ve heard some of them speak about the large number of changes their editors have asked them to make in their stories. Sometimes these published authors suggest making plot or character changes to your story in order to make for a better pitch to an editor or agent.

I understand that editors, agents, and publishers do make their living by selling books. I know they’re trying to make your story the best it can be so it will sell well. And I know writers support each other by helping make each other’s books better, AND by helping fellow writers sell those books, first to an editor/agent, and then to readers.

That said, I find it kind of strange when authors are asked to change their plots or characters, and I recently realized why authors of het romance don’t seem to find it as strange as I do. It’s because most of them are used to working with traditional publishers, and I’ve worked mostly with Dreamspinner.

Yes, technically Dreamspinner is a traditional publisher. But* their editors have never asked me to make any huge changes to a story. They’ve asked for clarification of scenes, or corrections of historical elements, or elaboration when a character’s motivation isn’t clear, but they’ve never asked me to rework the plot or change a character or add a sex scene. They’ve never finalized a blurb without asking for and incorporating my input. And the Dreamspinner art department has never asked me to accept a cover I wasn’t 100% happy with. I’ve heard other traditionally published authors talk about ALL these things.

My theory is that Dreamspinner doesn’t ask for big changes because they publish gay romance.

Gay romance is already outside the box. Readers of gay romance have already shown they’re looking for the unusual, the unpredictable, and Dreamspinner gives them that. They trust the stories their authors tell, even if those stories can be a bit bizarre (time-traveling codpiece, anyone?). They don’t reshape manuscripts to fit into an upcoming theme or some recent trend. They’re willing to take a chance on the different, to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go….well, you get the picture.

They’re willing to accept stories by authors who don’t write a lot, stories with unpronounceable titles using words that no one outside of Scandinavia has ever heard of. Stories like Have a Hygge Holiday. (See? I told you I’d get to the point. Eventually.)

Have a Hygge Holiday is about the winter holidays, family and traditions, candles, decorations, hot drinks, good food, and being with the people you love. Hygge (pronounced kind of like “hyoogah”) is all of that. It’s a Danish word that has no English equivalent, but the closest definition might be “coziness”. This video has some examples of hygge, which is really the only way to explain it.

The story is one I’d been trying to write for a few years but could never get quite right: a relationship between two young men of different religious and cultural backgrounds, and the comedy of errors that follows when their families clash during the holidays.

I’ve never had that clash myself, despite being Jewish and married to a man who is Catholic. To paraphrase the dedication of the book, our families are not the families in the story. However, some elements of the story are drawn from real life. The amount of oil used to make latkes, for example, and growing up without lights on the house in winter because that would have meant we celebrated Christmas, which we didn’t.

Now that I know about hygge, I think EVERYONE should put lights on their houses for winter, and string light balls from their trees.

winter light balls

There’s a reason Yule logs and Hanukkah candles happen around the same time of year. Humans have a need to bring warmth and light to the dark and cold of winter. Whether you celebrate one of the winter holidays, or all of them, or none of them, you’ve probably still been doing hygge all this time without even knowing it.

Here’s an excerpt from the beginning of the story (before the hygge really gets going):

Turn around and walk away.
Niall stood outside the door to Josh’s apartment, his finger an inch from the doorbell, while an argument waged silently in his head.
It’s just for a week, Niall’s rational side countered.
It’s wrong, and you know it.
Niall sighed. Catholic Guilt didn’t automatically disappear when you stopped going to church. It was ingrained. Possibly genetic.
That boy thinks he might have a future with you, Guilt said, and if you spend the holidays with him, it’s going to cement that thought in his head. And his heart. And you don’t feel the same, so you should not be here.
You don’t know that, Niall replied silently, his finger moving a millimeter closer to the doorbell. I might feel the same. We only met six weeks ago. It’s not like I know everything about him.
Niall’s phone buzzed, making him jump. He pulled it out of his pocket, and swore as he looked at the caller ID. He turned and walked down the hall away from Josh’s door before hitting the Talk button. “Hi, Mom.”
“Niall, sweetie! Where are you?”
“I’m at Josh’s.”
“Put him on the phone.”
“No, I mean, I’m just outside his door. I was going to—”
“Let him know you changed your mind. That you decided to spend the week with your family. If he has any kind of appreciation for family, he’ll understand.”
Perfect timing. And it’s a perfect excuse.
Niall looked back at the door.
You can call him later and explain that your parents called, that your mom guilted you into staying with them for Christmas. It’s not even a lie.
“You should be with your family for Christmas,” his mom went on, as relentless as she’d been every time she’d called over the past three weeks. “We never get to see you anymore—”
“I see you every Sunday for dinner,” Niall said.
Don’t snap at your mother.
“And Molly’s going to be in town. You can go to the movies or something.”
“Mom, I’m not going to the movies with Molly. We’re both nearly thirty, not sixteen, and I’m gay.”
“Don’t be silly, sweetie, you always had a girlfriend in high school.”
“And I always had a boyfriend in college. I know you think it’s a phase—”
“You can explain it all to me when you come over. You have to go somewhere since you had that pipe break. You really should have demanded that they get it fixed before Christmas.”
“Like I told you yesterday,” Niall said, fighting to keep his voice low, “I’m going to spend the week with Josh.”
His mom went quiet. Niall could practically hear the wheels turning. “Is he the thirty-five year old accountant?”
“No, he’s the twenty-six year old social worker.”
“That you’ve only known for a few weeks.” She couldn’t seem to remember that he was gay, but she sure could steel-trap the inconvenient details. “I’ve made up the guest room. It’s all ready for you.”
“Josh has a guest room.”
“You’d rather spend Christmas in a stranger’s guest room than with your own family?”
Oh, dear God. Niall banged the edge of the phone against his head a few times before saying, “Hey, hi, Josh! Mom, I gotta go, love you, bye!” He ended the call and shook his head.
You lied to your mother.
Josh might open the door. Any second now.
But he didn’t.
Niall banged the phone against his head once more as he walked slowly back to Josh’s door. Maybe he should start therapy. There had to be some professional who specialized in guilt removal, Catholic or otherwise. But before he could think about entering therapy, he had to decide if he was going to enter Josh’s apartment.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

To celebrate the release of Have a Hygge Holiday, I’ll be giving away a $10 gift certificate from Dreamspinner Press. For a chance to win, please leave a comment below, telling me about the hygge you do every year, or the hygge you’d like to do sometime in the future. For my own house, I aspire to the description of Josh’s apartment in all its hygge glory, but first I’d need to clean and unclutter**. So it’s going to be a long road. :)

In your comment, please make sure to include the email address you have registered with Dreamspinner Press. The drawing will take place 72 hours after this post goes up.

You can find me using one of these methods:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bsnow.writer
E-mail: bsnow.writer@gmail.com
woefully neglected Blog: http://bsnowwriter.blogspot.com/

Thanks for reading!

 

* Dreamspinner Press editors do take me to task over how much I use “but” in my writing. I’ve had to perform many a butectomy during editing…..

** For help uncluttering, I recommend Unfuck Your Habitat [link: http://unfuckyourhabitat.tumblr.com/]. If I went to that tumblr every day, my house might be hygge-ready by Halloween.

 

Check out Have a Hygge Holiday today!

HaveAHyggeHoliday_postcard_front_DSP

Blurb:

Niall is having second thoughts about spending the holidays with Josh. If Josh’s sweet nature masks the fact that he’s a spineless pushover, Niall doesn’t want a long-term relationship with him. Guilt—an annoying voice in his head—agrees, telling him to end it before Josh gets hurt. But then Niall sees how Josh has turned his apartment into a cozy, inviting nest for winter, based on the Scandinavian tradition of hygge: curling up with good food, candles, music, hot drinks, family, and friends.

Niall decides to stay, telling himself he’ll discover the real Josh when the two of them are together for a week, but two become four when Niall’s Christmas-crazy parents show up on Josh’s doorstep, and four become five when Josh’s father arrives to celebrate the last night of Hanukkah. The two sets of parents clash over decorations, food, and public displays of affection. Their bickering drives Niall crazy, as does Josh’s calm acceptance. If something doesn’t change, Niall will walk away from all of it, including his future with Josh.

Diary Dates: Creating the Tapestry with T.J. Masters

July 23, 2016

T.J. Masters stops by today to chat about new book Diary Dates and how the story came to be.

Diary Dates2

This Saturday sees the release of my latest story Diary Dates by Dreamspinner Press. The story centres upon postgraduate student Andrew Chin who arrives in London not only to study, but to explore life away from his traditional family in Singapore. His adventure begins at the airport, where he finds the diary of a wealthy British businessman and endeavors to return it.

James Howard is twice Andrew’s age, and he’s not used to selfless youngsters. Despite a rocky first meeting, the two develop an unlikely friendship as James introduces Andrew to the city. James is looking forward to the festivities leading up to Christmas in London and maybe a celebration with Andrew. But will a nasty bout of the flu ruin their romantic holiday?

Not if Andrew has anything to say about it.

Reading some of the things that editors and proofreaders have said about this tale I’ve been made aware of how the writer has to bring so many strands, so many different coloured threads together to create the final picture. The idea for the story came from a close friend who happens to be Malaysian. The ‘hook’ of the diary came from my own interest in all kinds of diaries, journals, logbooks, daybooks and Commonplace books. The setting of the London Christmas season is one which excites me every year and I cannot let the season pass without a visit to see the lights.

The May to September relationship is one which I am personally qualified to write about and even the characterisation of Young Andrew comes from personal experience. The student is based almost entirely on a real Singaporean Chinese student who travelled to London a few years ago to study for his Masters degree. The real Andrew and the fictional one share many common traits and I am all the better for having met him.  While he was here Andrew visited on most Saturdays and I came to admire his impeccable good manners and learned a lot about Chinese culture and tradition. One of the key virtues of Chinese culture is filial piety. This has its origins in Confucian philosophy and is the virtue of respect for one’s parents, elders and ancestors known a xiáo.

There was a strange twist to one of those threads after the story had been completed. My real life Andrew had to cut short his studies following the sudden death of his mother back home and I was sad to see him go. After the final edits were done and the story was ready for publication I suddenly had a call from Andrew. After three years away he had returned to London to do a presentation which would allow him to achieve his degree. We met and had a great reunion. He was touched that I had written him into the story and he thoroughly approved of his alter ego.

Have you ever experienced a complete stranger coming into your life for a short time and leaving you changed in some way? If so I would love to hear about it.

 

Excerpt

Andrew remembered the diary. Eager to get it back to its owner, he called the number he’d found in the book, but it went to voice mail.

A well-spoken masculine voice confirmed that it was the phone of James Howard. Suddenly feeling self-conscious, Andrew hung up while he decided what he was going to say. In the end he left a simple message telling Mr. Howard that he had found his diary at the airport and wanted to return it as soon as possible.

Jenny suggested they go out, so they left everything and ventured out into the busy London streets. After walking around, taking in the sights, they grabbed a sandwich for lunch from a coffee shop. Just as they were trying to decide where to try next, Andrew’s phone rang and he recognized the number on the screen as the same one that he had dialed earlier. Feeling a little nervous, Andrew answered. “Hello?”

“Hello, yes. You left a message earlier about my diary.” The man sounded business-like.

“Oh, yes, I think you left it at the airport. How can I bring it to you?”

“Thank you for calling me. My whole life is in that book. I will pay you a finder’s fee, of course. Can you bring it to me at my office?”

“I’m sorry, what is a finder’s fee?” Andrew had never heard the term before.

“I will pay you a reward for bringing the diary to me.” The man sounded a little impatient.

“Ah, no, Mr. Howard, I do not want any reward. Just to give your book back to you.” Such a thing had never occurred to Andrew, and it was certainly not what he intended. “I have only come to London today, but if you can tell me where to come so I will bring the diary to you.”

“My office is near Euston Station. Can you come there?”

Andrew remembered the name from the journey earlier. “Yes, I think that is not far. When can I come there?” He hoped that the man would not say now, because Andrew needed to go back to the flat to collect the diary first.

“I’ve got meetings this afternoon. Can you come at five o’clock?”

“Yes, sure.”

“I’ll text you the address. When you come to reception tell them who you are. They’ll be expecting you.”

“Okay, Mr. Howard. I’ll go there at five o’clock.”

For a moment Andrew thought the man was going to hang up without saying anything more, but then he suddenly asked, “Can you tell me your name?”

“Oh, sorry, sir. My name is Andrew, Andrew Chin.”

“Chinese name?”

“Yes sir, I arrived from Singapore today.”

“Okay, Andrew, I must go. Thanks for contacting me.”

“No problem, Mr. Howard.”

The man at the other end had already hung up. Andrew, in his usual kind way, assumed that the man’s abrupt manner on the phone was just because he was a busy, important person.

Andrew told Jenny what was going on, but she said she couldn’t go with him because she was having a tryout for a waitressing job later. A text from Mr. Howard provided Andrew the address of his office. After looking it up, he decided that he could make his way there on his own.

They wandered the streets for another couple of hours and then went back to the flat so that Jenny could get ready for work. While he was waiting, Andrew looked up James Howard’s company on the Internet. It was a world leader in technical ceramics and Mr. Howard was the company’s CEO.

Jenny had warned him that he would arrive at his destination far too early if he left just after four, but he was nervous about being late. So it was that just half an hour later he arrived at the address and found himself in front of a modern office building.

He still had another twenty minutes to wait for the appointed time. Not wanting to be seen yet, he carried on walking until he reached the end of the road, where a low wall marked the boundary of another building set back a little from the road. Sitting himself down on the wall, Andrew took off his rucksack and removed Mr. Howard’s diary in its protective plastic bag.

Beyond the initial search for the owner’s details, Andrew had left the book unopened. Once he had realized that the book was a diary, it became a private thing. Now, however, the thought that the diary was about to pass out of his hands again nudged Andrew to take a look at it. If nothing else, he wanted to see whether the diary would give him any clues about the man he was about to meet.

The thick band holding the book closed was essential, since it held so many loose bits of paper and business cards between its pages. Removing this carefully, Andrew ran his slender fingers over the spine and cover. The black surface felt almost like fine leather, although it was too thin to be real. All the entries in the diary were neatly written, probably with an ink pen. This idea seemed a bit old-fashioned, but at the same time quite stylish. The multiple appointments on almost every page showed that this James Howard was indeed a busy man.

One of the most telling things was the odd pages, which were full of doodles. These were either geometric patterns or tiny drawings, but all quite neat. Maybe some of those meetings were not so interesting.

Another curious observation was that there was little difference between some of the weekend pages and those for the weekdays. Did this man never take a day off?

 

Check out Diary Dates today!

DiaryDates_postcard_front_DSP

Also available on Amazon and ARE

 

Author Bio

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

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

Website: www.tjmasters.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tjmasterswriter/
Twitter: @TJMasters

Cervena: Adventures in Prague with Louise Lyons – Post + Giveaway

July 21, 2016

Louise Lyons joins us today to chat about new book Červenà!
Cervena2 by Louise Lyons

Hi, I’m Louise Lyons, and I’m here to talk about my new release, Cervena. This is my third novel with Dreamspinner Press and I’m very excited about its release.

I wrote the story around the middle of 2015. I’d be looking through some old photographs of a trip I took to Prague in around 2003, and as I was remembering the city and the things I saw, an idea for a new story started to form in my head. Prague is an interesting city and I wandered away from the typical tourist areas one afternoon, to see how the real people lived, which gave me the opportunity to see different “Districts” of the city.

Most of Cervena revolves around the city center where Joel lives and works. Cervena (Czech for “red”) is the name of the nightclub Joel jointly owns with business partner Karel Doubrava, although Joel’s journey takes him out of the main part of the city later on, and eventually to London where his family live.

Within a few hours of starting to make notes, I had an outline for a whole book, and started noting down key events. I was in the middle of writing something else at the time, and Cervena was insistent that I hurry and finish it, so I could start on this new story. I quickly finished the novella I was working on, and put another novel on the backburner so I could get down to it.

My main character, Joel Jones, and his love interest Sasha grew in my mind until they seemed like real people, and I couldn’t get the words down fast enough. Joel is in his thirties, a real good guy and gentle soul, although he can step up to the plate when he has to, much as he prefers to avoid confrontation if he can. He resists his attraction to Sasha for some time, concerned about their fourteen-year age difference and his worry that Sasha might accept a date with him out of gratitude, after Joel took him off the streets and gave him a job and a home. But eventually Joel gives in and blurts out his thoughts on how he’d like them to have dinner together. It’s not all sweetness and love from there on, however.

The story has a lot more drama and angst in it than most of my published works, with events threatening to tear Joel and Sasha apart several times. So do they get a happy ending? Of course they do! As much as a tormented them along the way, I wanted them to end up happy.

I finished writing Cervena towards the end of last year and once it was submitted, of course I had lots more to work on.

Since then I’ve released several novellas and written a couple of short stories for anthologies. Right now I’m working on a new novel with a paranormal theme to it, which is new to me. I was actually inspired to write it more than a year ago and had made notes and written a few pages, but at the time it wasn’t going that well and I put it aside and wrote Cervena instead. So now I plan to finish it and have completed four chapters so far.

The Power of Will is set in my favorite place in the world—Keswick in Cumbria, UK. My main character, Tyler Marsden, has broken up with boyfriend Pete and moved to a new town to get away from the memories. He finds a tumbledown cottage which he plans to renovate after moving in and starts up his handyman business again, which quickly begins to do well. He soon finds a friend in disabled neighbour, Jonathan, another gay man. The pair confide in each other and become close, but there’s no romance there. The romance in Tyler’s life comes from another direction entirely.

A few strange things happen in the cottage, which Tyler initially ignores. But he’s led into the cellar where he finds a journal written a century ago, by one William Bartlett. Curious, he begins to read the journal and his heart aches for the young gay man who hid what he was for so long, until he fell in love and was unable to keep his budding relationship quiet. Shunned by everyone, including his lover, he was eventually unable to go on living. The journal is filled with his memories and the last year of his life.

As Tyler reads his story, his previous scoffing at the supernatural is forgotten as he becomes convinced William isn’t just a memory, but something more.

I won’t give away any more than that, but I’m excited about this new work, and intending to finish and submit it in the next few months. Watch this space!

And now for a Giveaway! I’m offering up an eBook of anything from my backlist to one lucky commentor on the post. As I said earlier, I visited Prague some years ago, which eventually gave me the idea to write my new novel. To be in with a chance to win, tell me about a city or country you’ve visited that holds a special place in your heart.

How to find me. If you haven’t looked me up on social media before and want to chat or follow what I’m doing, you’ll find me here:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/louiselyonsauthor
Twitter: www.twitter.com/louiselyons013
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/louiselyons013
Website: www.louiselyonsauthor.com
Email: louiselyons013@gmail.com

Check out Cervena today!

CervenaFS

Blurb: 

When Joel Jones finds homeless Russian Sasha outside his gay nightclub in Prague, he cannot find it in his heart to turn him away, so he offers him a home and a job as a dancer and stripper.

Despite a fifteen-year age gap, romance develops between them but is interrupted when Joel has to return to England for many weeks to deal with a death in the family.

Upon his return, Joel is horrified to discover his business partner, Karel, has gambled away the club’s money and put them all at risk. Joel buys him out of the club, but when Karel continues to gamble, the people he owes pursue Joel for the debt instead—and they’ll stop at nothing to get paid.

Suddenly Joel and those he cares about—especially Sasha—are in danger, and Joel finds himself with no choice but to seek the help of known criminal, Vincenc Jankovic. Ensuring a happy future for himself and Sasha will mean a struggle and some difficult decisions, but Joel is determined to protect what they’ve built together.

Match Point: Digging Deep with Leigh Carman

July 19, 2016

Leigh Carman joins us today to talk about her new sports romance, Match Point.

FinnandDex

Hello fellow Dreamspinner lovers! I’m Leigh Carman and I’m so excited for the release of Match Point, my sports romance with Dreamspinner Press. This is my first release with DSP, and it’s been nothing less than incredible. I am literally still in shock and awe that my book will be alongside some of my favorite gay romance authors. If there’s one thing a reader knows when purchasing a Dreamspinner book, it’s that you will get nothing but the best.

So why would a girl want to write gay romance? I’m sure everyone asks this at one time or another. I hear the question all the time from friends, family, and readers of my M/F romance. Well, I’m not sure if there’s a single answer to that question. Don’t get me wrong, I love my M/F romance, but there’s something about M/M romance that gives me, as an author, an extra layer to my characters that I can work with. The relationship between two men is obviously much different from that of a man and a woman, and I’m not speaking sexually. I love to explore the masculine side of romance. Even in my M/F books I’ve been told my male characters sound like they’ve been written by men.

Maybe it’s because I’ve never been a gushy, flowery, girly girl and I don’t like reading about men waxing poetic about their beautiful delicate woman. Maybe it’s because I’m a total dude when it comes to romance, no flowers, no jewelry, and no gifts necessary to make me happy. I pretty much don’t even care if I get a card on an anniversary.

So, I don’t know specifically why I prefer writing gay romance. I do know that I don’t care for the story of a man swooping in to save the woman every single time. I guess you could say from a writer’s point of view, a relationship between two men is more balanced. No one has to be the hero. Or both can be the heroes. Or yes, it can be traditional and one of the men can be the hero. Any way you cut it, to me the story is more about the dynamic between the two men than the situations they’re placed in. Does that make sense?

I like to dig deep into the emotional side of men. We all know that most men are raised to hide their emotions from other people, so it takes quite a bit of work to get their feelings out of them. That’s what I love to do. Put the screws to my guys and tighten them until they have no choice but to acknowledge what they’re feeling. Get them to face their fears, question their masculinity, and delve into the fear of losing their masculinity if they show any emotions whatsoever.

That kind of makes me sound like an evil scientist, doesn’t it? But in truth, that’s what writers are. We create characters we love only to hurt them, drown them, wring them out, and see what we’re left with at the end. Hopefully, they are made stronger, better, more real after their journey.

Match Point is a pretty emotional journey, and a study in two men who finally acknowledge that their self-destructive behaviors stem directly from feelings they’ve ignored for too long. I hope you love Dex and Finn, I know I certainly do.

Currently, I’m working on three more sports romances to complement Match Point. One sport for each of the four seasons. Beach volleyball is summer, football is autumn, hockey for winter, and baseball for spring. There are characters who appear in the book prior to their own, so keep your eyes out for anyone in Match Point who might have a story to tell.

Happy reading!

 

Here’s a peek…

 

Finn

“Get it. Get it. Hurry, hurry!”

I scramble for the ball while Coach yells out encouragements—or possibly reprimands. I can never be sure which. Either way I’m on top of my game today. I hustle to the net, get under the ball, and bump it with my wrists, arcing it high for Dex.

Dex waits for it to come down and lifts it using his fingertips. As the ball goes in the air, I take a running jump, curve my body so it doesn’t touch any part of the net, and smack the ball over our opponent’s head. It hits the sand.

“Yes,” Dex shouts and holds up a hand for me to high-five. Grinning, I reach out and slap my hand into his. Dex holds on to it for a brief moment. The contact is quick—less than a second—but the heat that sears through my palm leaves a lasting impression. It’s time to switch sides and it’s my turn to serve. Dex puts his hands behind his back and gives me the signal to hit it left with no spin. I toss the ball up and hit it over the net.

Beautiful. Our opponent drops to his knees and makes the save, but he can’t get to his position quickly enough to reach the ball his partner perfectly sets for him. Dex cheers and pumps his fist in the air. I grin at his enthusiasm. Watching Dexter Savage have the time of his life is mesmerizing. It infuses me with an energy I’ve never felt before. I no longer see Dex as just another charming guy. He has me spellbound and hanging on his every word.

“Nice whiff, dickhead,” I call out when he misses a dig and comes up with a mouthful of sand.

I can’t have him thinking I like him or something.

Dex laughs and spits out the sand. “Shut up, Callahan.”

By the end of the day, we should be exhausted, but we’re riding high on winning the New Orleans Open, and on the thirty-minute ride back to the hotel on the river, we both get our second wind. Dex is literally bouncing around. He’s so full of energy, he’s making me dizzy.

“Come on, Finn. Let’s go out to celebrate. This is New Orleans, The Big Easy. There’s sin on every corner and a ton of awesome clubs here.”

I roll my eyes. “I doubt your idea of an awesome club is the same as mine, Savage.”

“What?” Dex squints at me. Then his eyes widen almost comically. “Oooooohhh. You don’t think I can handle a gay club?” A slow, snarky grin spreads across his handsome face, and my breath hitches.

Hello dimple.

I shake off my dirty thoughts to get back to the subject at hand. “No. I don’t. God. I can’t even think about you going into a gay club without laughing.”

Or getting hard and groaning.

“Hmph.” Dex levels his intense hazel eyes at me and quirks one eyebrow in challenge.

“No, Dex.”

“Yes, Finn,” he sings gleefully.

“No way.”

Dex chuckles and nods his head. “Oh yes. Pull out your sparkly top, baby, because we’re hitting the gay clubs tonight.”

“Fuck you, Savage. I don’t own a sparkly top.”

“Rainbow?”

“No.”

Dex gives me a disgusted look. “What kind of gay man are you?”

“Not a very good one, I guess.”

One who crushes on his straight teammate, that’s what kind of gay man I am. A stupid one.

After five minutes of back and forth, I finally get Dex to let go of the idea of cruising gay clubs tonight, but only on the promise that I’ll take him to one when we get back to LA. I’m hoping he’ll forget by then, because seeing his gorgeous ass shaking on a dance floor while hot, sweaty guys grind on him? I’d implode before the night was over.

We change and grab a cab, and Dex directs the driver to head toward Bourbon Street. “Really, Dex? Bourbon Street? Can’t we go somewhere a little less—”

“Less fun? No, Callahan, we can’t. You’re having fun if it kills me. Tonight I’m officially removing the stick from your ass….” Dex twists his head and shoots me a scorching look that has my dick throbbing painfully in my shorts. “Even if I have to pin you down to yank it out.”

Holy fuck.

I swallow, and my mouth suddenly disconnects from my brain as every drop of blood in my body turns to lava and collects in my groin.

“Whatever, Savage,” I mumble, turn to the window, and shift my hips so Dex can’t see my now fully hard cock.

Dex laughs and shoves my shoulder. Does he not know what he’s doing to me? I sneak a glance at my teammate. He’s looking out his own window, eyes glittering, smile as wide as a kid on Christmas morning.

No. He has no clue. He’s truly excited to go out and have fun. In fact he’s practically bursting out of his skin, he’s so wound up. But then, Dexter Savage always was the life of the party. He’s comfortable in his own skin. It’s what makes him so attractive. Well, besides the tousled, just out of bed hair, the perfectly straight nose and full mouth, and the body to die for. But his outgoing personality was what had me crushing on him in college—and the reason I hated his guts. I watched him every day at practice as he charmed everyone around us, and knew he would never be available to me.

“Here it is.” Dex throws some money at the cab driver and leaps out of the car. I take a look at my surroundings and thump my head on the glass. We’re on a street thick with pedestrians clutching hurricane glasses and sipping through long straws as they mingle in the crowd. Neon signs line the business fronts on both sides of the cab, each promising a different kind of debauchery inside.

Dex leans down and sticks his head in the backseat. “What are you waiting for, Callahan? Let’s get this party started.”

Ugh. Tonight is going to be pure torture.

 

Check out Match Point today!

MatchPoint_postcard_front_DSP

Dreamspinner Press
Amazon
ARe
iTunes
Kobo
Barnes and Noble

Blurb:

Two stubborn men.

One is a rude jerk. The other, the life of the party.

It was hate at first sight.

Pro beach volleyball players Finn Callahan and Dexter Savage have been rivals since college. While Finn always comes out on top on the court, Dexter’s carefree and fun-loving personality earns him scores of adoring men and women. And as much as Finn fights to deny it, there’s another reason for the tension he feels when Dex is around. Hate wasn’t the only thing he felt when he first laid eyes on his opponent.

When they’re forced to team up, the two men must bury their differences—on and off the court—if either of them is going to succeed professionally.

 

Author Bio:

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

She lives outside Atlanta 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.

https://twitter.com/HeatherLeigh_8
http://instagram.com/heatherleighauthor/
https://www.goodreads.com/leighcarmanauthor
http://heathercleighauthor.com/leigh-carman-novels/