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!

 

FrankAtHeart_postcard_front_DSP

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

 

 

How Was Secured and Free Born? w/ Z. Allora

May 30, 2017

secured and free

 

 

Greetings! Thank you Dreamspinner Press for allowing me to share some information about how Secured and Free was born.

To celebrate the release of Secured and Free I’ll be giving away 3 e-books, 2 audiobooks of Lock and Key (Book #1 of Entwined Dreams) and a $20 gift card to Dreamspinner Press. Details below.

 

How was Secured and Free born?

Orion Gordon, one of Secured and Free’s main characters had a secondary part in Lock and Key. One of my critique partners (Danny Brüggemann) hadn’t even finished reading the beta read for Lock and Key and she private messaged me on Facebook.

Danny: “So Orion’s story is next.”

Z: (my head screamed YES, but that wasn’t the original order of the story) Um, no. Why?

Danny: His story is next.

Z: … No, actually Xander’s—

Danny: Orion gets a happy ending, so who is it? Marcus? Although what about Hunter? (she completely ignored my attempts at denials) Marcus? It’s Marcus, right? But Hunter…

Z: … (the plot bunny threw a lightning bolt at my head) Damn you!

Danny: Why not—

Z: Don’t say it. I know…

Danny: (LOL) Orion does need a village just ask Xander.

Z: (growled & pouted)

Then I did what was destined to be and wrote Secured and Free.

And that’s how my story priority order changed, and how Orion got his happily ever after in book two of Entwined Dreams.

I want to share some excerpts from Lock and Key as well as Secured and Free. I think this will help remind you where his path took him.

This first snippet is when meet Orion in Chapter 2 of Lock and Key (Entwined Dreams #1). Since the main character, Zack Davis is 18 years old I show him dipping his toes into the BDSM pond. Chapter 2 is a BDSM 101 class and basic demonstration.

 

Excerpt of Lock and Key:

Once the chuckles and laughter died down, Jason continued. “As you can see, we are pretty relaxed here. Still, Orion and I have talked about what we’ll do tonight. We both worked out the expectations of this scene. He’s shared with me his limits, and I’ve shared mine.”

A murmur raced through the crowd.

Jason grinned. “Ah, I see. You don’t think someone in the Dominant role has limits or should explain those to the sub?”

No one said anything.

“Orion?”

Orion shrugged and said, “I wanted more intensity with the impact play than Master Jason was willing to give me. He told me his limits, and I need to respect them or find a new play partner.”

Zack understood that kind of raw had-to-have-it need.

Jason nodded. “Neither partner should be forced into a place they’re not comfortable in. I’m not saying limits shouldn’t be pushed and boundaries can’t be adjusted, but there’s a process… a negotiation for that.”

Orion frowned but didn’t say more.

Later on, in Book #1 we find out Orion’s need for rougher play had gotten out of hand.

 

Excerpt from Lock and Key:

There was a brief silence, which Tony broke. “I want to continue discussing abuse versus discipline.” Everyone glanced around them until all gazes fell on Orion Gordon.

Zack had never played much with the researcher because he couldn’t meet Orion’s need for pain. Though they’d had plenty of discussions about the progress being made in cancer research.

Fuck, no. Zack did recall he’d noticed Orion with more than one blackened eye; the guy had said it was a work-related injury. Shit! Today the guy sported two black eyes, a swollen cheek, and a split lip. How had he missed the way Orion flinched when someone made quick movements around him?

Orion shrugged but wouldn’t meet anyone’s stare. “I don’t see the big deal. They’re mostly the same thing.”

What? He couldn’t be serious. Zack had to say something.

“Discipline is what a submissive submits to in order to learn, grow, make atonement, or find subspace. Abuse is nonconsensual and serves no purpose other than to vent anger or torment another in a non-agreed-upon way.”

When Orion didn’t look at Zack, he continued, “Even if you agreed to discipline, you didn’t agree to the willful disregard of your personal welfare.”

There was silence until someone across the room said, “Safe, sane, and consensual, right?”

“Or RACK.” Zack threw the term out there.

Someone new asked, “What’s RACK?”

Joey Junior cleared his throat and got everyone’s attention. “Risk-Awareness and Consensual Kink. Nothing is completely safe. Driving a car isn’t completely safe, but we have seat belts and airbags. It’s about being aware of the risks and trying to minimize the potential issues.”

Tony asked, “I never understood why consensual kink instead of sane?”

“Well, think about it. Do you want someone not in the lifestyle telling you what sane is? Because I’d bet their definition is different than ours. If I give consent to explore breath play, I don’t want someone telling me that I’m insane. That’s between me and my Master.” Joey Junior glanced around the group.

Many gazes drifted back to the man who had everyone’s worry.

Orion peered up with a glint of defiance. “What if the play was consensual?”

“Was it?” Zack doubted Orion had given consent.

Orion folded his arms and pressed his lips together, which reopened his lip.

Xander, Orion’s best friend, pulled a tissue from his pocket and dabbed at the blood.

Orion grabbed the tissue and snarled, “Don’t. I’ve got this.”

Zack shook his head. “I find it difficult to imagine a contract or a discussion between a Master and sub, or even a slave, requesting consent to beat someone in the face.”

Tears sprang to Orion’s eyes, and he glanced away from the group.

Zack surveyed the other subs. Shit. Entwined was meant as a safe haven, but it happened even here. He’d never wanted anyone to experience the betrayal and violation he had. “Is this something that happens frequently?”

No one would answer until Sam said, “On occasion. Even with all the members being vetted, a couple Doms who don’t understand power exchange make it through.”

“What happens?” Jesus! Zack dug his fingernails into the chair, but he kept his voice even.

“Usually word gets out, and no one will scene with them, so they vanish.”

“Who did this to you, Orion?” Zack demanded, but the guy stubbornly refused to speak. Well, fuck no. Not happening again.

“Do you want that to happen to someone else? Do you want this guy to hook up with Xander? Or anyone else?” Zack wanted to wring the guy’s neck for protecting someone who needed his ass kicked.

“You know I like it rough.” Orion’s admission dared those around him to say something about it.

“There’s a difference between rough and out of control. A Dom should never be out of control. No one should be abused under the guise of BDSM play.”

Xander said, “Orion, don’t make me. You should say who, or I will.” He stroked his friend’s hair.

Orion pressed his lips together into a frown, but ultimately, he coughed up the name. “Dom Henry.”

“That fucking bastard,” one of the subs three seats away from Zack yelled out. “I’d like to explain the difference between discipline and abuse to him.”

Which brings us to the first chapter of Secured and Free. A few months have passed. Orion’s trust has so shaken he can’t even do a light scene.

 

Chapter 1 Excerpt Secured and Free:

“Cancer!” Orion couldn’t breathe.

Stop! Stop! Can’t be tied!

Everything needed to cease. Squeezing his eyes shut, he called out, “Cancer!”

The ropes vanished from around his wrists as if they had never been there.

It was no good. What kind of submissive was he if surrender was beyond him?

No! Trust. Can’t. No!

Zack spoke to him, but Orion couldn’t piece together the meaning of his words.

Andrew’s deep dominant voice cut through the building terror.

“Orion, I’m wrapping a blanket around you, and then I’m moving us to the platform.”

Blanket. Yes. Hide. No more.

Flat on his back, Orion burrowed into the warmth, hoping it might protect him.

Stupid. Idiot. I’m good for nothing. I can’t even—

Wanting it all to stop, he pressed closer to the body generating heat. The scene ended like it had too often in the recent past. There was a time Orion would have cut out his tongue rather than use a safeword. But now he used the word to make everything end before anything could even start.

“You’re with us. I’m lying next to you.” Zack’s words comforted him. Orion held on as Zack wrapped his arm lightly around Orion’s middle. Andrew stroked his hair. “You’re safe, Orion. Just breathe. Draw air in through your nose and out through your mouth. Inhale and exhale nice and slow.”

Orion gasped.

“Easy. In through your nose and out through your mouth,” Andrew instructed again.

Failed. Again. Don’t deserve to be held and petted. Can’t even breathe right.

The weight of disappointment threatened to bury him further in the abyss. Everything he believed about himself was… a lie. He focused all his energy on catching some air. Following these simple directions was the least he could do.

Inhale. Exhale. Even breaths. There. He had his respiration under control. His heart would slow eventually.

How many times had he been in one of these back rooms of Entwined? Probably countless times since he’d joined the BDSM club right after college. This room was like all the other nonthemed rooms. It was white with a padded platform for various activities. A supply cabinet stood in the corner to assist a Dom who needed to purchase something. Eyehooks decorated the walls at various heights, and it also contained a sofa, a chair, a bench, towels, blankets, and a fridge with water and juice. It had just about everything a Dom or a submissive required to live out their BDSM dreams.

Blinking to clear his vision, Orion muttered, “I thought I’d be able to handle straightforward bondage.”

Damn it. How things had changed. In the past, he’d never sought to play with either of these two men because they weren’t willing to give him the harsh treatment he needed.

Now, look at him. Had they even gotten a chance to secure the first knot on the rope before he called an end to the scene?

Was he that damaged?

To enter the giveaway: Simply leave a comment about the type of BDSM you enjoy reading or participating in. (Winners will be picked June 5th)

Many hugs,

Z. Allora

Check out Secured and Free today!

 

SecuredandFree_postcard_front_DSP

ebook
paperback

 

Entwined Dreams: Secured and Free Blurb

An abusive Dom robbed Orion Gordon of his love of BDSM, destroying his confidence and leaving him unsure he’ll ever find peace through submission to another. Still, deep inside, his longing continues.

Marcus Sadir loves Hunter Dixon, yet can’t be the one thing Hunter truly desires: a sub to control. And Hunter can’t find satisfaction in the sadistic aspects of the BDSM lifestyle, while Marcus thrives on inflicting and sharing pain. When Marcus convinces Hunter they should find a third on a permanent basis, they discover Orion might be the key to bridging their differences and joining them on a deeper level.

But they must help Orion move past his trauma enough for him to enjoy new facets of BDSM and kink again. Their journey toward becoming whole—together—won’t be without challenges. Can Orion trust enough to try again?

 

Bio:

Z. Allora believes in happily ever afters for everyone. She met her own true love through the personals and has traveled to over thirty countries with him. She’s lived in Singapore, Israel and China. Now back home to the USA she’s an active member of PFLAG and a strong supporter of those on the rainbow in her community. She wants to promote understanding and acceptance through her actions and words. Writing rainbow romance allows her the opportunity to open hearts and change minds.

To contact Z. Allora:

E-mail: Z.AlloraHappyEndings@gmail.com
FACEBOOK:   Z Allora Allora
http://zallora.blogspot.com
www.zallorabooks.com

Athletic Idols w/ Sean Michael

May 23, 2017

ATHLETIC IDOLS

 

Hello, Dreamspinners.

My latest book with DSP is a reprint about a former Olympic swimmer and his coach. And there’s a reason why Justin is a swimmer. Out of all the summer Olympic sports, I have to admit that the swimming, specifically men’s swimming, is my favorite. It has been for a long time, too.

I can remember when I was younger, cheering on Victor Davis and Mark Tewksbury – both Canadian swimmers who competed I the 1980 and 1990s – and how upsetting it was when Victor Davis was killed. I still get excited when I see Mark Tewksbury either participating in Olympic coverage or hosting a TV show.

Then came the Michael Phelps era. How can you not love watching someone who so excels at what they do? Nobody else swims like him and he’s left an amazing legacy of 28 Olympic medals, most of them gold. I have to admit that the Olympic men’s swimming isn’t going to feel the same in 2020.

I shared mine, so tell me, what’s your favorite summer Olympic sport?

 

Sean Michael
Smut fixes everything

 

Check out Golden today!

 

Golden_postcard_front_DSP

 

Dreamspinner Press
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Kobo

 

Blurb:

After winning Olympic gold four years ago, Justin retired from swimming, and he’s been floundering ever since. The Fourth of July finds him contemplating doing something stupid, so Justin calls up his former coach, Chris Jarvis. To his surprise, Coach answers.

When Justin retired, Chris cut all ties with the swimmer he’d fallen in love with. He never wanted Justin to love him just because it was easy. But he’s been waiting for Justin to reach out, and he’ll gladly take Justin back into his life.

When he finds out Justin is drowning in a pool of self-doubt and the belief that his happy years are behind him, Chris realizes he made a mistake letting go so suddenly, and that Justin needs structure and a firm, dominant hand to keep him on the right track. It’s time to remedy his error—as long as he can convince Justin that it’s really love.

 

Excerpt:

Chris pulled up in front of the apartment complex where Justin lived. Sure enough, there he was, lounging against the side of the building. Chris waved, engine idling.

Tall and blond, the all-American looks marred only by the red nose that proved there’d been too much drinking, Justin came over, smiling crookedly. “Coach.”

“Hey, kid. Get on in.” He smiled, let himself admire a little. Justin wasn’t his swimmer anymore; he was allowed to notice.

Justin slid in, buckled up, his blue eyes fixed on Chris. “How’s it going?”

“It’s going. How about you?” He headed back out into the road, headed for the all-night Denny’s.

“I….” He could hear Justin’s swallow. “It’s going.”

Uh-huh. Drinking. Calling him out of the blue. It wasn’t going great, if he was any judge. And when it came to Justin, he was. He’d had to be a hardass with Justin after the kid retired, simply because Justin needed to find his way. Chris hadn’t been angry when Justin announced his retirement. The kid had gone from the games to surgery and had spent months rehabbing. The time had been right for Justin to stop competing.

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

A Day in Pamplona with Laura Bailo

May 23, 2017

a day in pamplona

 

By the end of The Sun Still Rises, Erik has fallen in love with Pamplona just as he has fallen in love with David. But since the San Fermín festival is not the best time to walk around and see everything Pamplona has to offer, I thought I could take you along on a visit. I’m going to show you three of my favorite places in this city. Are you ready?

I love our walls, they were built between the 16th and 17th centuries, and they’re some of the best preserved ones in all of Europe. Nowadays they’re the perfect place for a walk and leisure activities.

 

 

The city also organizes some activities around them, like the vertical dancing or the “walls under the moon light,” during which the wall is illuminated by candlelight and there’s music, food and drinks.

Then, inside the walls, there’s the old city itself, with its narrow streets and colorful houses. If you walk around quietly, you can almost hear the houses speak to you. Between my favorite streets there’s the one that leads to the Cathedral, called Calle Curia. The names come from calle de los curas, which would roughly translate as Priests’ street. And I just told you this one is the street that goes up to the cathedral, so you can probably guess where the name comes from. It’s a narrow street that’s shadowed almost all the time, but the view from one of its ends is just amazing, especially if you manage to see it when there are still few people around.

And then of course there’s the cathedral itself, although the exterior is nothing to write home about, in my opinion. I believe Victor Hugo once described it as having “donkey ears”. I probably wouldn’t go that far, but I do believe the exterior doesn’t do the rest of it justice.

Of course, having said that, now you’re all dying to see the interior, aren’t you? I guess the last thing you expect after seeing the neoclassical facade is to find a gothic interior.

But that’s not all. I don’t have pictures, but you can also see the patio, the small monastery where the monks that tended to the cathedral lived, and the kitchen, which has a medieval fireplace, one of the few you can find in Europe. All in all, it’s one of the biggest and most complete religious complexes in both Spain and the continent. So don’t let the exterior discourage you and come inside. You can go up to one of the bell towers too, and I promise you the view is worth it.

So tell me, have I convinced you? Are you writing Pamplona down as one of your possible travel destinations? If you are, you can always let me know, and I’ll gladly send you information. I could even give you a tour!

Check out The Sun Still Rises today!

 

SunStillRises[The]RGB_postcard_front_DSP

 

Blurb:

Erik’s father lived for Pamplona’s yearly festival and the running of the bulls. Now he’s gone, and Erik flies to Pamplona on a whim to see the festival his father loved—without booking a room first. He’s looking at sleeping on the ground until friendly David from the tourism office offers to share his home.

When Erik realizes he trusts David, that he might even be willing to face his anxiety to get to know David better, he begins to understand what this trip could mean. Pamplona is even more beautiful when seen through David’s eyes, and Erik might have traveled around the world just to find himself. But can he hold on to his newfound confidence—and to David—when it’s time to go home?

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

 

About Laura Bailo:

Laura Bailo is a veterinarian and a teacher in training who can do surgical sutures but can’t sew on a button to save her life.
She lives in Spain with far too many books and boxes full of notebooks. She loves exploring the narrow streets of Pamplona and she’s known to have gotten lost in her own city. She loves reading, singing and trying out new cooking recipes, and if she’s feeling adventurous she may try to do all of these at the same time.
She loves hearing from people and you can find her at:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/laura.bailo
Twitter: @LauraBailo
Website: laurabailo.wordpress.com

 

Michael, Reinvented: Reviving Old Landmarks w/ Diana Copland

May 19, 2017

Reviving Old Landmarks

 

When I sat down to write ‘Michael, Reinvented’, I knew I wanted to accomplish several things. As a continuation of the first book, I wanted readers to learn more about this group of friends. Of course I wanted to get Michael and Gil together, officially. They’ve been dancing around each other for months at this point, snarking and giving each other grief but with an undercurrent of real desire. Michael has a history that makes his initial inability to consider a relationship with Gil more understandable, but he’s too proud to explain himself. Gil wants Michael; he has since he first saw him. But he wants an ‘ever after’, and Michael doesn’t believe in those. He wants to, though. He really, really wants to.

I also wanted to provide more detail about Delta Renovations, Restorations and Design, the company the group of friends started together. David and Jackson from ‘David, Renewed’ are featured prominently in this book, as are Vern and Manny.  Also featured is a major job that will put ‘Delta’ on the map; the restoration of a local landmark, the ‘O’Banyon Mansion.

 

 

The O’Banyon Mansion doesn’t exist as such. It is a real place, however, and it sits on a hill above Spokane, Washington.  Finished in 1888, the Glover Mansion was designed by locally famous architect Kirtland Cutter for one of the founders of Spokane, James Glover. He and his wife Susan, and the 12 servants it took to keep a house that size clean and running, lived there for several years. Their history isn’t the stuff of fairy tales; apparently Susan suffered depression due to the fact she couldn’t have children. Old Glover actually divorced her because she was ‘barren’. Nice guy. He married a much younger woman two days after his divorce was final, and she couldn’t have kids, either. I’m guessing old Glover was the culprit there, but in that era men didn’t admit it. There’s even a rumor that Susan, who died in a mental hospital, haunts the house. Frankly, if I were her I’d be haunting old James, but that’s just me. My fictional founder, Paddy O’Banyon, is a much nicer guy who was much nicer to his bride.

Gil Chandler, my gentle giant who was a house painter in ‘David, Renewed’, is actually a bit more than that. When the men of Delta are touring the mansion during ‘Michael, Reinvented’, it’s impossible for them to ignore a mural on the ceiling in the massive entry way.  It features a really ugly peacock that is obviously in need of restoration, and the owner of the property, a man named Richard who looks suspiciously like Rick R. Reed, ( I should probably tell him he’s in my book, huh?) asks if Gil is the ‘muralist’. (The mural exists on the Glover Mansion ceiling. It was painted over at one time because one of the six owners in the history of the house thought peacocks were bad luck. The original rendering was found and the mural restored in 2005.) The owner compliments Gil’s paintings at a local children’s hospital, and Michael is stunned. How could he not know the big man was an artist? It’s a moment that sends Michael off to learn more about Gil, and what he finds out changes everything.

 

 

Most of my books take place in the Pacific Northwest. I’ve lived here for over twenty years, and it’s a place of true beauty. A transplanted Southern Californian, I’ve come to appreciate the four seasons. Springs and falls are stunning in Eastern Washington, Winter lovely if you happen to like frost and snow, summer not so hot or humid that you want to escape. It’s a place just now catching up with the western part of the state in terms of gay visibility and gay rights. Unfortunately, it’s also a place where obvious prejudice still exists. My sister warned me before I moved here that it was conservative, and it is. It’s a pretty red part of a mostly blue state. We have our fair share of hate speech and hate crimes, the recent tagging of the Martin Luther King center with swastikas just one example. I have gay and trans friends who live here, and while it’s getting better it still has issues with equality.  I love living here, but I recognize its issues. It’s one of the things that make setting my books here so interesting!

If you read ‘David, Renewed’ I hope you’ll come along as Michael and Gil butt heads before finally figuring each other out!

 

Check out Michael, Reinvented today!

 

Michael, Reinvented by Diana Copland

 

Blurb:

Cute hipster and interior designer Michael doesn’t do love—not after his ex screwed him over. Sex is a different story, though, and the gentle giant who’s painting the mural in the old mansion they’re restoring might be perfect hookup material. Gil is just Michael’s type with his solid muscle, wicked sense of humor, and the hazel eyes that seem to see into Michael’s soul.

Trouble is, Gil does do love. He wants romance and forever, and he’s set his sights firmly on Michael. Michael’s not going there again.

Yet when Michael is the victim of a vandal who’s been plaguing the men working for Delta Restoration, Renovation, and Design, Gil is the first person he tells. No matter how he fights it, it’s becoming harder and harder to deny he’s crazy about the guy—even if that thought terrifies him. But the true fear sets in when the criminal behavior escalates, and Michael realizes he might have lost the chance to tell Gil how he feels—forever.

 

About Diana Copland:

Diana Copland began writing in the seventh grade, when she shamelessly combined elements of Jane Eyre and Dark Shadows to produce an overwrought Gothic tale that earned her an A- in creative writing, thanks entirely to the generosity of her teacher.
She wrote for pure enjoyment for the next three decades before discovering LiveJournal and a wonderful group of supportive writers, who encouraged her to try her hand at original gay fiction.
Born and raised in southern California, Diana moved to the Pacific Northwest after losing a beloved spouse to AIDS in 1995.
She lives in eastern Washington with three obnoxious cats, near her two wonderful adult children.

You can find Diana at her Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/diana.copland
Her Twitter: @DianaCopland
Her webpage: www.diana-copland11.com
And you can email her at: diana.copland11@gmail.com

Can’t Resist Collaborating w/ Chris Owen and Tory Temple

May 2, 2017

Can't Resist a Collaboration

 

Hi there! Tory Temple and I are so excited about our latest release, Adding it Up. This is the second book featuring Trey, Deuce, the puppies, and all the mayhem that goes along with them. We’re also thrilled to be releasing both of the By the Numbers books in an anthology!

These stories stemmed from Tory’s Oceanside Fire books and my fascination with her character, Trey. He appeared, my heart went ping, and I asked her a million questions about him. She was gracious enough to share what she already knew and make up answers for things I wanted to know that she hadn’t had reason to consider, and then the inevitable happened.

“Uh, honey? There’s a dude in my head who has a crush on your Trey. And he’s got a pregnant dog.”

Luckily for me (and for you!) she’s my bestie and had time to play with me. It didn’t take long for Trey and Deuce to take root and take over. Before long we were working away and trying to piece together a relationship that had more external pressures that either of us were really used to writing about. It isn’t a merely romantic relationship between two strong minded men, it’s a relationship involving an ex, a child, three dogs, a crew of firefighters, a wanna-be-grampy… Things got hectic quickly!

Because of all those factors I really feel that this relationship is true and honest, bringing romantic reality to the story. Life is life, and the true love and romance in this story is how these two guys make it work, and how they show each other that they’re in love.

If you’ve read the first book, you could see how Trey and Deuce show that they love each other. What moment touched you as a reader? What did they do that proved to you that they were meant to be together?

I’m a sucker for the grand romantic gesture. Share a gesture you’ve been party to – acting or receiving! – for a chance to win of our books.

 

Tory can be found at the following places:

www.torytemple.com
https://www.facebook.com/torytemple
https://twitter.com/ToryTemple?lang=en

Chris can be found her

Site: http://www.chrisowen.net
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/chris_owen
Blog: http://www.chrisowen.net/chrisblog
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100015072407034

 

Check out By the Numbers: Adding It Up today!

 

By the Numbers: Adding It Up by Tory Temple and Chris Owen

 

Blurb:

Dogs, a young daughter, and shift work make for an unpredictable and never boring life for new couple Deuce and Trey. Trey is keeping his ex-wife out of their hair, but Deuce is determined to forge a truce between them all. Trey is vehemently opposed to a friendship between Deuce and Holly—she’s the last person Trey wants more interaction with. Deuce persists, however, and tensions between them could spell the end of their relationship.

They’ll have to find a way to make it all add up again—or lose everything.