Bowerbirds (Nested Hearts: Book Two) by Ada Maria Soto – James and My Dad + Excerpt 2

August 26, 2015

 

Empty Nests and Bowerbirds in an odd way is for my dad. He wasn’t a single parent and rumor aside not gay (I don’t think, there are days), but he did end up primary care giver the first couple years of my life. It was supposed to be my mother but my father got injured and lost his job just a few days before I was born. My mother was out of work and it became a matter of who could get a job first. This meant my mom going back to work when I was six weeks old and my dad left holding the baby.

This was in the early 80′s, long before the internet and easy access to stay at home dad groups. My dad was the youngest in his family so had no experience with kids. His family was an hour away and my mom was not on good terms with her family. Add in that my dad came out of a very machismo oriented background and he was left reasonably alienated.

I like to think (and it’s my opinion that matters in this) that he handled it pretty well. I think his sense of humor helped a lot. When my mom would tell him to go check the baby he’d get a pen and draw a little check somewhere on me. It’s funnier if you know my dad. I’m surprised with myself that I managed to get two years into doing the parent thing without giving into the temptation. By this point my kid would probably take it as permission to draw allover herself and anyone else. He delivered bottles as if he was a French waiter, rushed back to the park to retrieve forgotten stuffed animals, made up bedtime stories, and read Elephant Goes to School about fifty million times without going completely nuts.SimpsonsDad

He also took a lot of grief from other guys and didn’t get a lot of respect when he explained that two year gap in his resume. But he kept his chin up, pushed through, and I don’t think overly messed me up which in this day and age counts for a lot.

So James is for my dad and all of the dads who have stepped into what much of society still thinks of as a female role.

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James bent backward and listened to his spine crack. Despite the noises, his back was in better condition, or at least a few decades younger, than Mrs. Gonzales’s, which was why he was helping her lug bolts of fabric up the stairs. It was her second granddaughter’s quinceañera in a couple of months, and she was sewing all the dresses, which meant stitching up about a million miles of pink satin and tulle.

At least Mrs. Gonzales’s granddaughter was shorter than he was. With Mrs. Maldonado’s granddaughter’s prom dress the previous year, he’d been roped into acting as a living dress stand while it was hemmed, instead of just helping with the hemming. Dylan still had the photos hidden somewhere. He didn’t actually mind helping out with things like hauling groceries, rolling tamales, or handstitching a million seed pearls onto white taffeta. The women of the building had acted as Dylan’s aunties and grandmothers over the years, providing babysitting, hand-me-downs, advice, and more than a few meals when he and Dylan got truly desperate.

Mrs. Gonzales let them into her apartment where the Virgen de Guadalupe stared at him from at least three walls.

“¿Dónde los quieres?”

“Con los demás.”

James put the bolts of fabric on the table with a half dozen others while Mrs. Gonzales went into her kitchen to make them both some coffee.

He followed her into the kitchen, which was identical to his, where she poured them both thick black coffee, then stirred in condensed milk until it was nearly white. “James, I’ve been seeing you with a man lately? The women are saying you have a boyfriend?”

He accepted a cup of coffee. “I might.” He supposed it had to happen sooner or later. Every other person had been the center of gossip in the building at one point or another. James had managed to avoid it, mainly by being the most boring person on earth.

“You might? I think you do. He looks handsome.”

James pretended to think about it. “I guess. If you like that type.”

“And he looks rich?”

James blew on his coffee. Mrs. Gonzales always made it nuclear hot. “He might be, a little.”

“Rich is good.”

“It’s not important.”

“Rich is good. Rich can take care of you and Dylan.”

James rolled his eyes. “I don’t need anyone taking care of me. I’m not looking for anyone to take care of me. And I take care of Dylan just fine.”

Mrs. Gonzales patted the air in front of James. “Of course you do, but it’s good to have help. If someone wants to take care of you, you should let them. If they’re also kind, and handsome…?”

James sipped his coffee, having no desire to respond to that comment.

“What’s his name?”

“Gabe. Gabriel. Juarez.” He figured the best thing to do with gossip was to feed it as much detail as possible. It seemed to burn out quicker once there was less to speculate on.

“And where’s he from?”

“He grew up in the Bay.”

“Have you met his family yet?”

That was something that hadn’t been brought up except for a quick mention of his sisters. He’d heard more about Gabe’s godchildren. “No, no I haven’t.”

Mrs. Gonzales gave a slightly disapproving squint. “Make sure he does that soon. A man who is ashamed of his family is not a man you should be associating with.”

“I will keep that in mind.”

“Good. Now, what does he do? He better have a good job. Rich without work is begging the devil for trouble.”

James took a deep breath. He was surprised Dylan hadn’t blabbed it around the building. He was as bad a gossip as the rest of them. “He’s the chief financial officer of TechPrim Industries.” He got a slightly questioning look. James pulled his phone from his pocket and showed her the logo on the back. “TechPrim.”

Her eyebrows went up. “He better be taking care of you, then.”

“I don’t need to be taken care of.” James tried not to raise his voice. “I am not a child. I have a job. I manage.”

“Doesn’t mean you should turn him away if he offers. It can be nice to have someone who wants to be helpful.”

“Fine.” He didn’t want to start a fight.

“And if he causes you trouble, you send him to me.”

James stuffed down a laugh. Facing Mrs. Gonzales was a proper threat. Every male under the age of eighty feared her disapproving gaze, which could leave even the most hardened soul squirming like a child.

“I’ll be sure to warn him.”

######

Bowerbirds (Nested Hearts: Book Two) available through Dreamspinner PressBowerbirdsSmall

Bowerbirds (Nested Hearts: Book Two) by Ada Maria Soto – Excerpt 1

August 26, 2015

Back in Ye Olden Days of text based roll playing computer games there always seemed to be that one peasant you ran into who just happened to know everything you needed to know about that castle north of the village and nothing else. I try to avoid that in my supporting characters. I have a great love for them and do my best to make them as well rounded as possible and give them a reason for existing other than just moving the plot. I’m particularly fond of Tamyra and rather tempted to write a couple of short stories staring her.

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WHEN JAMES finally woke from his second nap, they ordered Chinese food, sat on the couch, and talked about nothing important. They made out on the couch, ate dinner, made out some more, then moved to the bedroom for some precarious lovemaking. It had been after midnight, and James had been fast asleep again when Gabe let himself quietly out of the apartment. He’d left a note by the bed, promising to call.

Now Gabe was using his sliver of a lunch break to query the almighty Internet on dating people with kids. Dylan had mostly come around to his side after he did his best to prove he wasn’t screwing with James, but if Gabe wanted to get James out of town, he was going to need Dylan’s backing. And any serious relationship moves would quite possibly need Dylan’s approval, or at least his advice. Gabe glared at his computer monitor. The all-knowingness of the Internet was failing him. He’d found plenty on step-parenting and a couple of blog posts about dating people with small children, but nothing that seemed to apply to his situation.

Tamyra came in and put a suspiciously healthy-looking sandwich on his desk before plopping herself down on the couch and tucking into a salad of her own.

“Tam, have you ever dated anyone with kids?”

“No. I’m not really good with kids.”

Gabe lifted the top piece of whole grain and seed bread on his sandwich and squinted at the sprouts under it. “Me neither.”

“My niece was about five when my sister started dating again. Seriously, though, James’s kid is practically an adult.”

Gabe shoved the sprouts aside to find dandelion greens. “I know. I just want to keep in his good books, and I don’t want James to feel like he’s losing time with Dylan to be with me.”

Tamyra shrugged. “My sister used to do these family dates every month or so with her, Julia, and her boyfriend. They’d go to the zoo. Stuff like that.” Gabe pushed aside the dandelion leaves to reveal grilled vegetables. “Stop playing with your sandwich and eat it.”

“Only if I find bacon on the bottom.”

“You have a meeting in fifteen minutes and you don’t have a free second between then and seven. Eat it.”

Gabe started chewing on the top slice of bread. “Why are you still my PA?” It was a question he asked himself regularly but only actually asked Tamyra a few times. He’d yet to get a good answer.

“Because you’d die without me.”

Gabe pushed aside the rest of his sandwich. He’d swing through marketing later. They always had good leftovers from some department party or networking lunch. “I’m serious. You were supposed to be in the job, what, a year? You have more degrees than I do. You know the fine minutiae of every deal we make. Anyone else would have quit or demanded a transfer after six months of putting up with me. You’ve never even asked for a raise.”

“And yet you give them to me.”

“Seriously. What are you doing here?”

Tamyra set aside her salad, which looked about as appetizing as Gabe’s sandwich. “Do you remember the state you were in when I started working for you?”

No, Gabe thought. “Vaguely,” he answered.

“Exactly. You’d had six PAs in five months. They were all either trying to get into your pants or were praying for your soul. My first day you’d had about three hours of sleep in three days. You were trying to shift around the budget so dependents of employees got free flu shots, in the middle of a bidding war for a half-dozen patents, you were fighting with Frank and Nate over if you should even be trying for the patents, and then a bunch of school kids were dragged in, and you were supposed to give them some sort of inspirational talk.”

“Was I inspirational?” Gabe had not a single memory of that day.

“No. You mumbled, babbled, threw in some analogies that made no sense whatsoever, and forgot the name of your own company. The impressive bit was that you pulled yourself up there in that state when any other executive would have just pawned the whole thing off onto someone further down the ladder. I figured at that point you needed someone who wouldn’t try to get into your pants, knew your soul was just fine, and would knock you on the back of the head with a two-by-four if that’s what was needed for you to get some sleep.”

“I wish I could argue with any of that.”

“You’re good at your job, you run a good business, you’re good to your people, but you are crap at taking care of yourself. I’ll move on when I find someone who can take care of you half as well as I can.”

“Or I shove you out the door.”

Tamyra laughed. “Like that’s ever going to happen.”

####

BowerbirdsSmallBowerbirds (Nested Hearts: Book Two) available through Dreamspinner Press

Bowerbirds (Nested Hearts: Book Two) by Ada Maria Soto – Release Party!

August 26, 2015

Hello, Ada Maria Soto here ready to chat with all of you wonderful people. My latest novel, Bowerbirds, was released today. It’s the sequel to Empty Nests and follows the continuing romance of Gabriel Juarez and James Maron.

Here’s the official Blurb

Two very different men have a chance at happiness, but only if they can let go of their painful pasts and allow love to take precedence.

BowerbirdsFSAfter spending his teens and twenties raising his son, James Maron is now dating Gabriel Juarez, the wealthy and sophisticated CFO of the TechPrim technology empire. But after a life of proudly holding his head above the poverty line with the ethos of work, priorities, responsibility, and thrift, he is not looking for a Sugar Daddy, he does not need to be rescued, and Gabe’s wealth is as terrifying as feeling love for the first time.

Gabe has never been good at balancing his high-pressure job with his relationships. Money usually clears most of the bumps, and when a boyfriend walks away, Gabe figures it’s for a good reason. But James isn’t like other boyfriends. He doesn’t want Gabe’s money for one, and if Gabe wants to keep his relationship together, he will have to finally face the ghosts of his own past and reconsider his priorities.

 

 

Preparing for this and the Empty Nests release one of the standard questions I got asked by various blogs is “Where did the idea for this book come from?”.

The simple and honest answer to this is I have not the slightest idea. Seriously, no clue. I know I started writing ln late 2010. I tried to use NaNoWriMo to finish it. I sent it to a friend to look over in 2011. She was not entirely kind about parts of it but always accurate. I got a bit depressed about it and put it aside getting distracted by other writing projects. I got pregnant in 2012 and had the worst case of baby brain ever. I could barely write and got exceedingly emotional about criticism. If someone corrected my spelling I broke into tears. It was embarrassing since I was determined to be one of those women who carried on with their job as if nothing was different until go time. Then there was post baby, no sleep brain melt and I didn’t come back to Empty Nests until 2014.

Somewhere in all that the genesis of this story was forgotten. I do remember one of the first things I wrote was James ranting at Dave about parenting. This is funny because in 2010 I was still swearing up, down, and sideways that I would never have kids. I think the second thing I wrote was James and Gabe having bathtub sex. Two completely different scenes on opposite ends of the book. It was only after that that I wrote out a rough outline of the plot, but again I don’t remember how or why.

In truth this blank is quite frustrating. There was something creative going on in my head at that moment, also something epic since these two books put together is the longest thing I’ve ever written. There must have been a spark or trigger that I would love to get back but it feels like it has vanished into the mist. It’s like I ‘put it somewhere safe’ and can’t for the life of me remember where.

Does anyone else do that? Put things ‘Somewhere Safe’ where you’re sure you’ll remember it, only to find it years later long after it’s been replaced?

Tell us about it and you’ll be in to win a free copy of Bowerbirds. I’ll give each comment a number then roll my dice tomorrow.

When Past Meets Present with Kim Fielding

August 24, 2015

When Past

Does a certain place speak to you, resonate in your mind and soul? I’m Kim Fielding, and today I’d like to talk about a place that does that for me. Or, more accurately, places.

Nestled in the Sierra mountains and foothills are a bunch of small towns that originated during the California gold rush. Even some of the names are evocative of their history: Placerville. Twain Harte. Angels Camp. Chinese Camp. Sutter Creek. Jamestown. Copperopolis. And while progress has marched on there as everywhere else, when you visit, you can still see the remnants of life in the 1850s. You can still get a little feel of the past.

I’m lucky enough to live close to this area, and I’m especially partial to a few of the towns clustered along or near Highway 49. Columbia, for instance, was a mining boomtown that once boasted over forty saloons. Nowadays it’s a state park, although a couple thousand people still live there. I also like Sonora, which is just a few miles away. Some of the shops on the main street have the remnants of gold mines in their basements. My family is also very fond of Murphys. The main attractions for my husband are the zillion local wineries, but the kids and I love the caves, which you can explore as long as you’re willing to go down—and back up—a lot of stairs.

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To get a very good sense of the history of these towns—and because I’m a wee bit morbid—I like to visit the old cemeteries. You can see the many places people came from before heading to California and trying to strike it rich. You get a sense of how very difficult life was. Take a look at this census from Sonora’s cemetery, for instance. Fascinating. And you find some mysteries. Were Joel Cumback and Jacob Giddis lovers?

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These gold rush towns were one of the main inspirations for my new book—my 13th novel!—Rattlesnake. It takes place in a fictional town modeled loosely on Angels Camp and called, well, Rattlesnake. It’s a contemporary story, but a sense of the past haunts the protagonists just as it haunts the old town. I fell in love with Jimmy and Shane, but I also fell in love with the town, with the atmosphere. It felt so real to me that last time my family was heading to Angels Camp for the weekend, I was all excited about having breakfast at Mae’s Café. Until I remembered that Mae’s exists only in my fictional Rattlesnake and not, sadly, in real life. I could really have gone for one of her cinnamon rolls.

Rattlesnake_postcard_front_DSP

Rattlesnake releases August 31, but you can preorder now. And for a chance to win an e-copy of any of my backlist books—that is, anything but Rattlesnake—comment here and tell me what place is special to you.

I hope when you read Rattlesnake, the town will become one of your special places too. Meanwhile, I’m off to another of my favorite locations on earth, Croatia. Ah, but that’s a future story….

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Blurb:

A drifter since his teens, Jimmy Dorsett has no home and no hope. What he does have is a duffel bag, a lot of stories, and a junker car. Then one cold desert night he picks up a hitchhiker and ends up with something more: a letter from a dying man to the son he hasn’t seen in years.

On a quest to deliver the letter, Jimmy travels to Rattlesnake, a small town nestled in the foothills of the California Sierras. The centerpiece of the town is the Rattlesnake Inn, where the bartender is handsome former cowboy Shane Little. Sparks fly, and when Jimmy’s car gives up the ghost, Shane gets him a job as handyman at the inn.

Both within the community of Rattlesnake and in Shane’s arms, Jimmy finds an unaccustomed peace. But it can’t be a lasting thing. The open road continues to call, and surely Shane—a strong, proud man with a painful past and a difficult present—deserves better than a lying vagabond who can’t stay put for long.

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You can learn more about Kim Fielding and download some free stories here: http://kfieldingwrites.blogspot.com
You can also follow her on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/KFieldingWrites
Or Twitter: @KFieldingWrites

When Characters Surprise the Writer with CJane Elliott

August 21, 2015

When Characters Surprise the Writer

Hello all! I’m pleased to be back on the Dreamspinner Blog to talk about the release of the third novel in my Serpentine Series: Sex, Love, and Videogames.

SexLoveVideogames_postcard_front_DSP

The Serpentine Series books are standalone contemporary novels set at the University of Virginia. Although many characters are in more than one book, each book can be read separately. Sex, Love, and Videogames features Jed Carter, who is the quiet nice guy Pete Morgan takes advantage of in Serpentine Walls. Its other main character is Charlie Ambrose, who is what U.Va. students call a “townie.” Charlie is biracial and grew up in a tight-knit African-American family and church community in Charlottesville. Besides the two main characters, the book is the story of Morocco Ambrose, Charlie’s cousin. She’s transgender and as extroverted as Charlie is introverted. Another extrovert, Jed’s best friend Myesha, rounds out the central cast of characters.

Writing Sex, Love, and Videogames surprised me. I couldn’t get a handle on Jed’s love interest. I thought it was going to be his older brother Kent’s college roommate, Tucker. But the story wasn’t going anywhere with that plot and I was having a hard time getting into Jed’s head. The light-bulb finally turned on when I realized I was again relegating Jed to the sidelines in favor of a more compelling character (Tucker), just the way Jed was relegated to the sidelines by Pete in Serpentine Walls.

With that realization, a character named Charlie emerged: a shy artist who isn’t part of the university crowd. Charlie was white when I first visualized him, but quickly he was in my head as biracial. And his amazing transgender cousin Morocco was right there with him. People think writers plan all this out in advance: “Aha! I know – I’ll have a biracial townie and his trans cousin in the Jed novel!” If I were to show you my first outlines of the story, Charlie and Morocco are nowhere to be found. But once they popped up, I went with it. And it turned out that Charlie and Jed are perfect for each other.

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I grew up in the DC area, which is quite diverse, and have had many close friends of other races and ethnicities. Still, I’m glad Dreamspinner has a Diversity Panel because even though I agree books need diverse characters, I live in fear of being unknowingly offensive or racist or whatever else I have unknowingly done. Members of the diversity panel read my draft and pointed out places where I put my foot in it, thus allowing me to withdraw my foot by hitting the delete button.

I struggled with how to write dialect without being too over the top. (For the record, we DO say y’all in Northern Virginia!) I was informed one of the terms I used to describe transgender was no longer welcome. I read books on being black and gay in the South and books on the transgender experience. I talked to people who live further South than I do about aspects of the culture there. (Did you know “bless your heart” means “screw you” in Southern?)

And all the while, Charlie and Morocco and their family were talking in my head and I knew them. I knew all about them and loved them. I want a Granny Myrt of my own. Or maybe not Granny Myrt until she evolves her beliefs about LGBTQ folks, but an Aunt Tawniece. I want Morocco and Myesha to be my besties and call me “girl.” I want to go out dancing with them and get our funk on.

Jed is still being outshined, because he and Charlie are never going to be as “out there” as Morocco and Myesha. But that’s okay, because Jed ends the story knowing who he is and where he wants to go in life, and having a great guy by his side.

Excerpt:

Jed made it out of the frat house and walked toward the dorm through the crowds of bid-night revelers. He hadn’t thought about how awkward things could get with him and Kent in the fraternity together. Frats meant parties, which meant alcohol and girls. Put Kent in the middle of that, with his “everyone follow me over the cliff” personality, and that was it. Jed was sunk. Dead meat. He’d either have to persuade Myesha to be his beard, or… come out?

Right. Get real.

As if summoned by the gay unicorn gods, Aidan Emery and his merry band of queers appeared, strutting down the sidewalk, laughing and singing. Jed’s insides contorted with jealousy. He wanted to stick out his foot and trip them for daring to be so openly gay and happy about it.

Coming out? To Kent and a bunch of Wahoos in SAE? To the rugby team? To the world in general? No way.

Jed changed course and headed to Lucky’s. He’d thought about going to lift weights at the university gym, but the truth was, he was tired of everything U.Va., with its fraternities, homophobia, and all the rest. He needed a videogame fix. Kent had told him Lucky’s had the best selection in town. The wind picked up, carrying with it a hint of snow. He pulled his coat closer around him and started a slow jog, relieved to be leaving the Grounds and the parties behind.

Ten minutes later, Jed reached Lucky’s, breathing hard but feeling more centered as he pushed open the door. He stopped to survey the scene, having never been there. The place was hopping—people eating, drinking, playing pool and pinball—and there against the far wall were huge screens and sofas for gamers. He went over to scope out the games.

“Let me know if I can help you with anything.”

A handsome black guy stood next to the counter. He gave Jed a shy smile, and Jed smiled back. Zing. Jed had never thought about having gaydar, but this guy set something off in him that said they were playing for the same team.

“Do you have any suggestions?”

“D-depends.” The guy came to stand next to him. He was a couple inches taller than Jed and he smelled nice. Plus he had striking greenish-brown eyes. His nametag read Charlie. “W-what’re you into?”

You. Jed’s cheeks warmed. Damn stupid blushing. “I like Halo, Mass Effect, stuff like that. But I also like fantasy games. I was way into Oblivion in high school.”

Charlie picked out a game and handed it over. “You’d l-like this if you haven’t p-played it. It came out a c-couple months ago.”

“Dragon Age: Origins. Cool. I’ve been wanting to try this one. Thanks.” He followed Charlie back to the counter. “You go to U.Va.?” Jed wasn’t usually this forward in striking up conversations, but something about Charlie—his obvious shyness, his slight stutter—made Jed want to put him at ease. To Jed’s dismay, his question seemed to embarrass him.

“N-no.” Charlie shut his mouth in a grim line as he rang up Jed’s rental.

“Oh.” Jed cast around for something else to say but a bunch of high school kids rushed up to the counter, clutching games. Charlie didn’t meet Jed’s eyes as he handed over Dragon Age and turned to his new customers. “Um, thanks.”

Jed left Lucky’s, puzzling over Charlie’s response. So he’s a “townie.” So what? Oh well. The guy hadn’t seemed all that interested in Jed anyway. He lost himself in reading the game jacket as he walked back to the dorm.

Near Alderman Library, he heard, “Carter, you are so busted!” Bud weaved toward him on the sidewalk. “Where the hell’d you go?”

“Nowhere.”

“Like hell you did. I—oh.” Bud lurched and Jed caught him by one arm.

“Someone’s wasted. You need help getting back?”

“Naw, ’m’fine. But don’t cut out on us like that, boy. I love ya, man!”

Jed watched fondly as Bud stumbled off into the night, then hoofed it to his dorm room.

Time for videogames.

Buy Link for Sex, Love, and Videogames:

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6757

 

How to reach CJane Elliott:

E-mail: cjaneelliott@gmail.com

Website: http://www.cjaneelliott.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CJaneElliott

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cjane.elliott

 

Contest:

Answer the question below for a chance to win any book from my backlist of novels and novellas.

Late teens and early twenties is the time when people start to figure themselves out, often breaking away from their family’s idea of them, or going outside of their childhood comfort zones. Jed and Charlie did all of these in Sex, Love, and Videogames. Now for the question:

What was one of your first experiences in your late teens or early twenties where you stepped beyond your childhood comfort zone and started to be an adult? And was it fun or was it depressing?

 

Choices and Second Chances with Nic Starr

August 10, 2015

choices

Hi. Nic Starr here. I’m joining you today to talk a little about my upcoming release, Andrew’s Promise. I wanted to share with you a little about the book, and its theme of life choices and the promises we make.

Andrew’s Promise is the story of a young man who is on the verge of starting his adult life when tragedy occurs. He has hopes and dreams, all of which he has to give up. Although some might argue he didn’t have to give up his dreams. Andrew could have been with the man he loved. He could have left his hometown and taken the road trip he’d always planned. Andrew could have handed the care of his fifteen-year-old brother, Josh, to someone else. But he didn’t. For Andrew there was no choice. It was inevitable he would stay and care for his brother, putting his own life—or at least the future he had envisaged—on hold.

I think we’ve all been in a position at some time or another, where we’ve had to make choices and decisions that result in sacrificing something important to us. I know as a mother, that’s definitely the case. I make choices on a daily basis that put my kids first. Having a child is making a promise to nurture, love, and protect.  Josh may not be Andrew’s child, but Andrew’s sense of family and the love he feels for his brother, are all encompassing and it is his instinct to protect and fill the void left by his father.

Andrew first appears in Charlie’s Hero, the first book of the series, as a responsible man who doesn’t seem to have much of a life of his own. In fact, he comes across as quite overbearing and a bit boring. He may have honoured his promise to look after Josh but he’s let that decision—the responsibility and fear of losing his brother—impact heavily on his own life and personality. But deep down Andrew is a wonderful man, and he deserved to have his dreams delayed not extinguished. The advantage of writing a novel, is the ability to make people’s dreams come true, to give them their second chances. For Andrew, it is all about his second chance at love with Tanner, the man he pushed away so many years before. And thus this second book was born. ☺

When I was writing this story, I thought back on my own life and the choices I’ve made. Would I have done anything differently? I’m not so sure I would have.

The first big choice I made was back when I was seventeen, so a very long time ago. *wink* I made the choice not to take a gap-year. A gap-year is the twelve months of travelling many Aussies do between finishing high school and starting university. I wanted to keep the study momentum going. After all, the quicker I finished, the sooner I’d be out in the workforce earning money. Did that choice impact me? Sure, it means I’ve worked pretty much full-time for twenty years and haven’t seen a great deal of the world.

That’s another fact of living in Australia—everything is so far away you need weeks and weeks for a holiday. Plus it’s expensive. I’ve seen a lot of Australia, the South Pacific, and a bit of Asia, but nothing of far-away places like Europe, Africa and the USA. Do I regret it? No, because I plan on doing a lot of travelling in my hopefully not-too-distant-future. The benefit is I now have a bit more money to travel in style. Although I do have friends who think backpacking as a youngster would have been more adventurous. Oh well, each to their own and better late than never. ☺

I’m starting my travels with a three week trip to the USA in October. GRL seemed a good excuse to plan a holiday. Hopefully, I’ll have a chance to meet many of you in San Diego.

***

Anyway, enough of my ramblings but how about I leave you with a giveaway? If you’d like to win an eBook copy of one of my backlist titles, leave a comment on this blog post. All you need to do is share a choice you’ve made and whether you’d do the same thing again. Fingers crossed your choices have brought you happiness. ☺

Have a great day!

Nic xx

***

And for those of you interested, here are the details of my latest release. It will be available on 12th August but is available for pre-order now.

Andrew’s Promise – The Blurb

Young mechanic Andrew Campbell’s life couldn’t be better. He is about to restore a Ford Mustang with his dad before heading off on the ultimate cross-country road trip with his best friend, Tanner McKenzie.

But tragedy strikes, and Andrew’s life is shattered. Worried his family will be torn apart if he doesn’t step in, Andrew makes a tough choice between following his heart and doing what he needs to do to protect his little brother.

When Andrew pushes Tanner away, Tanner heads off on the planned trip alone. Once Tanner leaves town, his life takes a different path and it’s ten years before he returns. Now a firefighter, he’s never forgotten his first love, and no one has ever taken Andrew’s place in his heart. He’s determined to see if Andrew feels the same way. He just hopes Andrew’s excited to see him, hopes that he’s available—and finally out—after all this time.

They might not have been ready to deal with emerging feelings years ago, but now might be the time for their second chance at love.

Buy Links

Dreamspinner Press: http://bit.ly/1ghCwTq

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1fXw6bG

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1UgKMSu

Amazon AU: http://bit.ly/1IdHI3X

All Romance eBooks: http://bit.ly/1ODE5GY

About Nic Starr

Nic Starr lives in Australia where she tries to squeeze as much into her busy life as possible. Balancing the demands of a corporate career with raising a family and writing can be challenging but she wouldn’t give it up for the world.

Always a reader, the lure of m/m romance was strong and she devoured hundreds of wonderful m/m romance books before eventually realising she had some stories of her own that needed to be told!

When not writing or reading, she loves to spend time with her family—an understanding husband and two beautiful daughters—and is often found indulging in her love of cooking and planning her dream home in the country.

You can find Nic on Facebook, Twitter and her blog. She’d love it if you stopped by to say hi.

Website & Blog: http://www.nicstarr.com

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Nic-Starr/e/B00MAWRRQG/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nicki.nicstar

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/NicStarrAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/nicstar000

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/nicstar000/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8139967.Nic_Starr

 

Man’s Best Friend with K. Lynn

July 22, 2015

-POP

Hello, all! K. Lynn here, talking about my new novella Must Love Dogs.

This novella was a labor of love and had its origination as an anthology piece. The story expanded outward and I wanted to see where it went, so the anthology submission didn’t happen. Instead, I went on a journey with my main characters, Colt and Ben and Dr. Jay, to discover how Ben’s recovery was still an ongoing process, but a determined veterinarian is going to be a vital part of that.

I’ve always been drawn to stories that feature characters dealing with life changes, including disabilities. For this story, I knew I wanted to focus on an artist who became blind, to delve into how he had to adapt and what that might mean for his future. However, it wasn’t until I was in the middle of writing that I realized just how challenging writing from the viewpoint of a blind character actually was. Ben can’t describe what’s going on around him visually, he doesn’t know what his new love interest looks like, so he must rely on other senses to ground him. I enjoyed the challenge, though. It stretched my creative muscles.

Ben took me places that I didn’t know I would go to, but that’s similar to all my characters. I never know what they might reveal, what kind of personality or secrets they might have, which makes the writing process all the more fun. With Ben, he has been through quite a lot in a short amount of time. He lost his boyfriend, his sight, and his livelihood. He has walled himself away to begin his recovery process, and his closest companion is his guide dog, Colt. When that connection is put in danger, Ben couldn’t realize what a fortunate situation it might actually turn out to be. He wasn’t looking for love, but it found him anyway.

Dr. Jay was a fun character to work with because he’s so different from Ben. He hasn’t been touched by tragedy, and he’s got a constantly upbeat outlook on life. All I knew going in was that he loved animals and he was going to fall in love with Ben. All the rest was up to Dr. Jay, and he certainly delivered. When Ben tries to push him away, Dr. Jay’s just that more determined to make their relationship work. And that determination is what helps see them through the ups and downs of what life throws at them.

And, of course, Ben and Dr. Jay would never have gotten together if it weren’t for Colt. He was their basis for introduction and remained a vital character throughout the story. Ben loves Colt, Dr. Jay does as well, and he is the third point in their triangle. The three of them together makes for a very strong unit, and I foresee Colt being an important part of a marriage ceremony if Ben and Dr. Jay make it down the aisle in the future. For now, he’s happy to stay by their sides and bask in the happiness that they are creating.

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Speaking of dogs, do you have a favorite? Maybe you prefer poodles over pugs. Great Danes over Greyhounds. Or are cartoon dogs your preference? Leave a comment with your favorite dog, real or otherwise.

 

I hope you enjoy Must Love Dogs, and the journey of Colt, Ben, and Dr. Jay. If you want to keep up with my current and future releases (it’s been a busy year for me so far!), you can check out my site at WriterKLynn.com or find me on Twitter @WriterKLynn.

Get your copy of Must Love Dogs here!

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Author bio:

K. Lynn has been an avid reader and writer since childhood. While in college, she increased her involvement in LGBT issues and writing within the LGBT fiction genre. She is a fan of authors who explore the commonality that exists within all sexualities and genders. Most of her own work features LGBT characters, many of whom are in established relationships and show how love perseveres. She has particular interest in seeing transgender characters gain a larger foothold within the genre and hopes the market for these works expands in the future.

 

I’ll Write You a Story… with Roan Parrish

July 10, 2015

Hi, all! Roan Parrish here, visiting the blog because my debut novel, In the Middle of Somewhere, is coming out today!

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In the Middle of Somewhere is a contemporary romance, featuring a scrappy professor, an intense carpenter, and a stray dog. Daniel Mulligan is tough, snarky, and tattooed, hiding his self-consciousness behind sarcasm. Daniel has never fit in—not at home with his auto mechanic father and brothers, and not at school where his Ivy League classmates look down on him. Now, Daniel’s relieved to have a job at a small college in Northern Michigan, but, a city boy through and through, when Daniel arrives in Holiday, Michigan, it’s clear that this small town is one more place he just won’t fit in.

Rex Vale clings to routine to keep loneliness at bay: honing his large, muscular body until it can handle anything, perfecting his recipes, and making custom furniture. Rex has lived in Holiday for years, but his shyness and imposing size have kept him from connecting with people. Though he loves the quiet and solitude of his little cabin in the woods, Rex can’t help but want someone to share it with.

When Daniel arrives in Holiday, they are smitten with each other, but though the sex is intense and explosive, Rex fears that Daniel will be one more in a long line of people to leave him, and Daniel has learned that letting anyone in could be a fatal weakness. Just as they begin to break down the walls that have been keeping them apart, Daniel is called home to Philadelphia where a secret is revealed that changes the way he understands everything.

In the Middle of Somewhere came about rather by accident while I was working on another project entirely. I was visiting my dear friend A in Phoenix, and we were talking in her kitchen while we put together an elaborate cheese plate—talking about books in general, talking about M/M in particular; talking about various real life annoyances, dissatisfactions, and desires. The usual. A said that she wished someone would write a romance about someone in her situation: having recently moved to a brand new place to take an academic job and having a tough time adjusting. Never one to let dissatisfaction fester when there’s cheese to eat, I blurted: “I’ll write one for you!”

On the plane ride home to Philly the next day, I wrote a little story and emailed it to A. It was about Daniel, who was just finishing his Ph.D. in Philadelphia, and has to totally turn his life upside-down when he moves to small-town Michigan for his first teaching job, but ends up meeting the love of his life there. I assumed that, my duty dispatched, I’d go back to the grim urban horror story of capitalism I was working on. Except that A wrote back, “Send me MORE!!!” So I did. That story was the first chapter of what became In the Middle of Somewhere and I just kept sending her more.

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As an ex-academic who worked for years on a book that only about five people in the whole world ever read, knowing that there was someone on the other side of those emails who was reading what I was writing and actually enjoying it was like a drug. After I’d written five or six chapters it stopped feeling like something I was writing just for fun. The characters started to feel real so I knew I couldn’t abandon them in the middle of the story. That is, I started thinking of it as a real book. Then as a series.

And that’s what I’m working on now: the second book in the In the Middle of Somewhere series! It features a new couple, who you’ll meet in book one, but Rex and Daniel definitely make an appearance. The second book is a bit darker, so that’s been a nice change (what can I tell you; I’m moody). I’m also having a smashing time working on a brand new project. It’s a series of novellas set in 19th century New York City, each of which revolves around one of Edgar Allan Poe’s detective stories. What do you get when you combine a very practical detective, an eccentric Poe enthusiast, and a copycat killer who may or not operate in a supernatural realm? Intrigue, horror, and a whole lot of heat. More nerdiness and ratiocination coming your way soon!

Thanks for hanging out today, everyone! I have two copies of In the Middle of Somewhere to give away. So: our hero, Daniel, has a lot of tattoos (with a tattoo artist for a best friend it’s kind of to be expected). To win an e-book of In the Middle of Somewhere, tell me your best tattoo story in the comments. If you have tattoos, you could tell me the story behind your favorite one; if not, tell me about the best (or worst!) tattoo you’ve seen. Have you always wanted a tattoo but never gotten one? Tell me what it would take to make you take the plunge. Extra credit (can you tell I used to teach?) if your story includes getting a tattoo for love. Spill all your inky tales in the comments for a chance to win!

 

Find In the Middle of Somewhere on:

Dreamspinner Press   |  All Romance eBooks

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 Find me on: 

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Kinky Experiences with Grace R. Duncan

July 6, 2015

kinky experiences

Hello everyone! This is Grace R. Duncan and today is the release of my new contemporary BDSM novel, Turning His Life Around.

I actually started Turning a long time ago. When I first started writing it, I was just beginning to understand all that BDSM was about and what it meant to me. Make no mistake, I’ve been kinky for almost as long as I’ve been sexual. But I didn’t really understand what it all was or how it worked.

Not all of my kinky experiences happened within a romantic relationship. In fact, many of them were with people who are just friends. Sometimes, play is just that—play. Two people have fun and enjoy something mutual. One thing to remember, here, is that BDSM doesn’t require sex. One of the best scenes I’ve ever had involved me getting my ass paddled (and spanked, among other things) but the guy spanking me never touched me sexually. Another time, I volunteered to let people learn fire play with me and though I was naked, there was nothing sexual about it. Sure, sex can be involved, but it doesn’t have to be.

But sometimes kinky relationships stem from existing romantic relationships. Couples—or more—who discover kink after being together for a long time. It’s often a natural progression to go from vanilla sex to experimenting with other things—tying someone up, blindfolding them, a swat here or there—all of which can lead to even more.

However, it’s not always that clear cut. Sometimes what seems so to be only friendship between two playing starts to feel like something more. BDSM—especially D/s and pain play—involves a lot of trust, on both sides of the relationship. For a submissive to be able to let go and simply experience, they have to be able to trust their Dom. Some level of trust is necessary if they’re going to go into that oft-coveted place: subspace.

It can mean that the lines between simple play between friends and that of a romantic relationship can be blurred. It’s even worse if those boundaries weren’t that clear to begin with. What happens when two best friends who’d been so all their lives start to realize there’s more between them then occasionally fucking or saying, “Yes, Sir?”

Turning explores that. Things have always been relatively simple for Kane. They were rough when he was little, but still fairly simple. He avoided his mom’s boyfriends. He spent his days with his best friend, Ian. As they got older and away from his mother, that didn’t change all that much. Now, he didn’t have to worry about the boyfriends, but he still simply hung out with his best friend and focusing on being a teenager like most others—except for being gay, of course.

But that friendship was always there and Kane never questioned that. Until his life turns upside down and he’s faced with a whole mess of change he never expected. And through it all, the one person he’d come to depend on is still there, still his rock.

They’re not just best friends, though. They’ve been happy to be fuck buddies when neither was dating anyone. And a few years before Kane’s life goes so crazy, they start exploring BDSM.

So when it does get more than a little crazy, those already-fuzzy lines get much blurrier. Kane is asked, on more than one occasion, what Ian is to him and he discovers he’s having a hard time explaining. Everyone seems determined to label Ian as Kane’s boyfriend or partner, but Kane keeps refusing… until he tries to list all the things Ian is… and isn’t quite sure where to stop.

A big portion of what pushes him further is when they start playing more often. Kane needs the grounding the scenes with Ian gives him, with all the changes in his life. And the more they play, the harder it is for him to find those lines once again.

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Have you had relationships where the lines blurred for you? Could you play with a friend? Tell me about these for a chance to win a copy of any of my backlist titles!

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Be sure to follow the tour for more opportunities to win and learn lots more about Kane and Ian! Check it out here!

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About Grace:

Grace Duncan grew up with a wild imagination.  She told stories from an early age – many of which got her into trouble. Eventually, she learned to channel that imagination into less troublesome areas, including fanfiction, which is what has led her to writing male/male erotica.

A gypsy in her own right, Grace has lived all over the United States.  She has currently set up camp in East Texas with her husband and children – both the human and furry kind.

As one of those rare creatures who loves research, Grace can get lost for hours on the internet, reading up on any number of strange and different topics.  She can also be found writing fanfiction, reading fantasy, crime, suspense, romance and other erotica or even dabbling in art.

Find Grace here:

Website  ◊ FacebookTwitterGoodreads

 

Turning His Life Around

ebook            Paperback

The Connection Between Food & Love with Rick R. Reed

May 1, 2015

Food & Love

 

Whenever I read a book and the author mentions that the characters are having a meal (or even a snack), I always, always, always want to know what they’re having. If the author just tells me that the characters just had dinner and gives no details, I’m disappointed. “But what did they eat?” I whine, before flinging the book at the wall.

So when I write a story, I never leave out that important detail. Why? Because what we eat matters. Eating and loving are probably two of the most significant, life-affirming, and joyous activities we can engage in as human beings.

So why on earth wouldn’t you want to know what our couple-about-to-fall-in-love had to eat on their first date?

In my latest, Dinner at Fiorello’s, it’s all about passion—whether that passion is for cooking, for eating, or for someone else, it’s the kind of universal stuff we can all identify with. In the book, I meld my main character, Henry’s, passion for food with him falling in love for the first time.

Through the lens of food and wanting to do something meaningful with his life, he discovers his first real, true love—Vito, the quiet chef with a secret who works at Fiorello’s. Henry aspires to being a chef just like Vito, yet he also comes to fall in love with him. But while he’s falling in love with Vito’s technique in the kitchen and the magical food he makes, Henry is also falling in love with the man. They’re inextricably linked.

There’s a certain alchemy that goes on when one makes good food. It becomes more than the sum of its parts. The same is true of two people in love. That’s what I tried to bring together in my new book. I hope that, just like when you take a bite of something delicious and you sigh and have the instinctive reaction of joy, you’ll have the same experience when you read about Henry and Vito’s torturous but ultimately rewarding path to love. Because, whether you’re cooking or falling in love (or even writing a book), to do it well, you have to do it with your heart.

In closing, I’d like to share with you a little taste from Dinner at Fiorello’s, this taken from when Henry interviews for his job working in the kitchen of Fiorello’s. You can see even at the tender age of eighteen, Henry Appleby understands what makes food—and love—good (here he talks about his family’s housekeeper and cook, Maxine):

“Well, she sees it as more than a means to an end, which is why I love her so much. She sees food as something that isn’t just about filling your belly, but filling your heart. She didn’t just feed me growing up, she nurtured me. She showed me that making food for someone can be a way of showing them you love them.” He looked at Rosalie, trying to make sure she was taking in, understanding what he was saying. “When I understood that, I knew that food can actually be a very powerful thing. I don’t know if I knew it right away on a conscious level, but I knew it. When I was about ten, I began asking her if I could help her make meals. My parents didn’t know what had gotten into me. My father said that I shouldn’t be helping her, because that’s what he paid her for. But I wanted to learn what she did to make her food not only good, but good for the soul.”

 

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BLURB

Henry Appleby has an appetite for life. As a recent high school graduate and the son of a wealthy family in one of Chicago’s affluent North Shore suburbs, his life is laid out for him. Unfortunately, though, he’s being forced to follow in the footsteps of his successful attorney father instead of living his dream of being a chef. When an opportunity comes his way to work in a real kitchen the summer after graduation, at a little Italian joint called Fiorello’s, Henry jumps at the chance, putting his future in jeopardy.

Years ago, life was a plentiful buffet for Vito Carelli. But a tragic turn of events now keeps the young chef at Fiorello’s quiet and secretive, preferring to let his amazing Italian peasant cuisine do his talking. When the two cooks meet over an open flame, sparks fly. Both need a taste of something more—something real, something true—to separate the good from the bad and find the love—and the hope—that just might be their salvation.

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GIVEAWAY!

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Share your most romantic meal, either eating or being served, in the comments below for a chance to win an ebook copy of my other romance that revolves around food, Dinner at Home!

 

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BIO

Rick R. Reed is all about exploring the romantic entanglements of gay men in contemporary, realistic settings. While his stories often contain elements of suspense, mystery and the paranormal, his focus ultimately returns to the power of love. He is the author of dozens of published novels, novellas, and short stories. He is a three-time EPIC eBook Award winner (for Caregiver, Orientation and The Blue Moon Cafe). Raining Men and Caregiver have both won the Rainbow Award for gay fiction. Lambda Literary Review has called him, “a writer that doesn’t disappoint.” Rick lives in Seattle with his husband and a very spoiled Boston terrier. He is forever “at work on another novel.”

Web: http://www.rickrreed.com 

Blog: http://rickrreedreality.blogspot.com/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/rickrreedbooks

Twitter: www.twitter.com/rickrreed

E-mail: jimmyfels@gmail.com

 

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BUY LINKS

Dreamspinner ebook: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6333

Dreamspinner paperback: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6334

Amazon (to come)

AllRomance Ebooks (to come)