Getting Political w/ Laura Lascarso + Giveaway

April 25, 2017

 Getting Political with Laura Lascarso

 

Oftentimes readers ask, what inspired you to write this story? Usually, I can point to exact experiences, current events, and other creative works that inspired a story for me. In the case of THE BRAVEST THING, it was a poem, a television show, and a tragedy.

The poem is “Trevor” by Ocean Vuong, a deeply personal account of a love affair between two teens, one of whom is struggling with his sexuality in the face of an unaccepting father-figure. I loved the intimacy and honesty of this poem, and it made me want to translate into story-form the stakes and risks associated with coming out in a community that doesn’t approve, and the bonds we form with friends and lovers that must sometimes supplement or supplant the love and support we would otherwise receive from our families.

The television show is Friday Night Lights (Texas Forever). FNL covered a wide range of sensitive subjects, including racism, addiction, sexual assault, and poverty, but it didn’t touch on homophobia, which is a shame because it’s an important conversation, and FNL could have given the topic wide and diverse exposure. Similar to FNL, I wanted to recreate the small-town Texas vibe, the almost godlike status of football players, and the conflicts that occur when you have to break away from the herd to stand up for what’s right.

The third inspiration for me was more accurately a motivation. I was at the very early stages of drafting THE BRAVEST THING when the Pulse shooting occurred. I don’t think mainstream America has given this tragedy the gravitas it deserved. Nor do I think enough discussion has been had about the ways in which toxic masculinity saturates every aspect of our lives, from the way our children are conditioned at an early age to act a certain way to how we as a society idolize athletes and celebrities at the expense of accountability.

The Pulse massacre galvanized my commitment to exploring the roots of homophobia, and in particular, how hate crimes affect already vulnerable individuals, for instance, those struggling with addiction and recovering from abuse. I also wanted to show why a victim might choose to let a hate crime go unreported, as are two-thirds of hate crimes in the U.S.

Some authors prefer to keep politics out of their writing. For me, all of my writing is political. Part of the reason I chose early on in my career to write for young adult audiences is because I am actively trying to change hearts and minds. While THE BRAVEST THING deals with heavy topics that may be more appropriate for older audiences, I would say that these are precisely the conversations we need to be having with teens while they are still forming their opinions on the world. (Adults should be having these conversations as well, so please don’t think I mean for them to be excluded.)

Because the main characters in THE BRAVEST THING are teens, it would have been a hard sell in the adult mainstream market. On the other hand, mainstream YA publishing would not have touched it, not necessarily because of the violence, but because of its graphic depictions of gay sex. This too was a deliberate choice on my part because young people (and adults) of all sexual orientations should be offered the opportunity to read and learn about a variety of sexual experiences, so that two men kissing doesn’t shock or offend, but is met with a shrug or a sigh and maybe even a, “isn’t that romantic?”

So my final sentiment is to say I’m grateful to Dreamspinner Press for being so supportive of my creative works, so wonderful to work with, and offering me a platform to publish stories that are outside of mainstream so that I might find my readers, and they might find me as well.

I hope you’ll give THE BRAVEST THING a try. If you have any questions about the story, please feel free to email me at lauralascarso(at)yahoo(dot)com. Thank you for your patronage!

 

Check out The Bravest Thing today!

 

The Bravest Thing by Laura Lascarso

Dreamspinner Press eBook
Dreamspinner Press Paperback
Amazon

Blurb:

High school junior Berlin Webber is about to reap the fruits of his hard work and land a football scholarship—if he can keep his sexuality a secret from his best friend, Trent, and their homophobic coach. Then Hiroku Hayashi swerves into the high school parking lot on his tricked-out motorcycle like some sexy comic book villain, and Berlin knows he doesn’t stand a chance.

Hiroku is fleeing his sophisticated urban scene to recover from drug addiction and an abusive relationship when he arrives in Berlin’s small Texas ranch town. Initially sarcastic and aloof, Hiroku finds in Berlin a steady, supportive friend who soon becomes more. As Hiroku and Berlin’s romance blossoms, they take greater risks to be together. But when a horrific act of violence tears them apart, they both must look bigotry in the face. While Berlin has always turned to his faith for strength, Hiroku dives into increasingly dangerous ways of coping, pushing them in opposite directions just when they need each other most.

Two very different young men search for the bravery to be true to themselves, the courage to heal, and the strength to go on when things seem darkest. But is it enough to bring them back together?

Laura Lascarso

About Laura Lascarso:

Laura Lascarso aims to inspire more questions than answers in her fiction and believes in the power of stories to heal and transform a society. She lives in North Florida with her darling husband, two children, and a menagerie of animals. Her debut novel, Counting Backwards (Simon & Schuster 2012) won the Florida Book Award gold medal for young adult literature.

For social critiques, writer puns, and Parks and Rec gifs, follow her on Twitter @lauralascarso

Facebook: /lascarso
Twitter: @lauralascarso
Web: lauralascarso.com

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From Backstreet Boys to American Idol w/ Andria Large

April 24, 2017

 From Backstreet Boys to American Idol w/ Andria Large

 

Hi! I’m Andria Large. My new release, From War To Forever, is my first traditionally published book. I’ve been self-publishing since 2013. I write both MM and MF Contemporary Romance.

Being an author wasn’t in my plans. At all. When I was 13 years old, I was a huge Backstreet Boys fanatic and while trolling the internet one day, looking at BSB fan websites, I happened upon a fan fiction site. Completely intrigued, I started reading these stories that other people had written about the boys. The gears in my head started turning, so I found an empty notebook and the words began pouring out. Story after never-ending story filled who knows how many notebooks. The stories revolved around The Backstreet Boys (mostly Brian and Nick) and myself as the main characters.

I eventually told a couple of my closest friends at the time and let them read my stories. They loved them and began writing their own stories. We would all trade notebooks in school and read each other’s BSB fan fiction. It was a fun little secret between best friends.

When I got my first real boyfriend at the age of 16, it took me some time, but I told him about my stories and he asked to read some and I let him. Being young and insecure, he became jealous of my love for The Backstreet Boys. It made me regret letting him read my stuff. I mean, seriously, who gets jealous of a story about someone your girlfriend will most likely never in a million years meet in real life? Silly boy.

I filled up a large Xerox box with over a dozen notebooks, every page completely covered. By then, I got an old laptop and started writing on there instead. I would spend hours in my room just writing. At that time, I never finished a story. Whenever I got tired of one, or had a new idea, I would just start over on a fresh page. I was also now making up my own characters, ones that had nothing to do with BSB. And I stopped putting myself in the stories I was writing. My creativity and storytelling was expanding.

Once I graduated high school, the writing sort of dwindled away. I had started community college taking liberal arts classes because I didn’t know what I wanted to do. Nothing really appealed to me as something that I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I didn’t finish my first semester, failing out because I stopped going to classes. I got a job instead, working in a grocery store.  I became too preoccupied with friends and work to write.

I had been working at the grocery store for almost two years when I walked in one day and there was a new guy working in loss prevention. All the younger girls that I worked with were talking up a storm about this guy because he was young and cute. I was 19 and single at the time, so I was like, “Oooh, where?!”

I met him soon enough since I was a cashier and he kept coming through my line when on his break. We started talking and I found out that he was only working in our store for a week while one of our regular guys was on vacation. He was from New Jersey (I lived in Philadelphia) and he was 24 years old. On his last night working in my store, he asked me out on a date. We’ve been together ever since. Why is this relevant you ask? Because my husband has been my biggest supporter and a big part of how I got to where I am today.

My inspiration to write again came during season nine of American Idol (don’t judge me), the one where Lee DeWyze won. I fell in love with Lee’s voice and humble demeanor. My mind started wandering and a story started to form. I couldn’t stop thinking about it and knew that I had to get it out. So, I went to my computer and started writing. It was a sweet love story about a male singer and a female ballroom dancer who had no idea who he was. I never did finish the story and I’m actually not even sure what happened to the file, but what did happen was that I started writing again. New plots and characters were going crazy in my brain. My husband knew about my writing and even encouraged it. It was an escape for me, a place for me to go and unwind.

A friend of mine then introduced me to the paranormal romance genre. There was this series that he was reading and knew I would like it, so he basically demanded that I read it. Well, I soon got sucked right in. I was reading 2-3 books a week. When I wasn’t reading, I was writing my own stories. My mom told me about this trilogy that everyone was beginning to talk about called Fifty Shades of Grey. It sounded interesting even though it was nothing like what I usually read. So I read it, and enjoyed it, and it got my imagination working double-time.

That was when Henry was born. Henry was the first story I ever finished and planned on turning into a series with his brothers. Around this time, another friend of mine was starting a book blog and wanted to read unpublished books that she could review. No one but my husband knew that I was writing. I asked him what he thought about it, if I should send her my story. His response was, “What do you have to lose? The worst that can happen is that she doesn’t like it.” Well, shit. Okay then. I sent my friend my book and waited anxiously while she read it. I honestly didn’t think it was any good, so when she came back to me and said that she LOVED it, I was shocked. She told me about how you can self-publish on Amazon. I had no idea this even existed. So being overly excited and curious about what other people would think, I put the book up on Amazon–UNEDITED! I know. I cringe when I think back on it. But remember, I knew nothing about publishing a book. I knew nothing about the authoring world or what it entailed. All I knew was that someone liked my story.

Surprisingly, the reviews started coming in. The ones that weren’t tearing the book apart for editing were actually really freaking good. People were loving the story and wanted more. I did find an editor, or I should say, she found me. She had read Henry and contacted me through Facebook, basically saying I enjoyed your book, but girl, you need help, and offered her editing services. Four years, fifteen edited books, and four co-authored books later, she’s still my editor,  best friend and go-to person when I need to hash out ideas.

I delved into the gay genre with the fourth book of my first series. Christian was the youngest of his brothers and had fallen in love with his life long friend, Shea. Some readers shied away from reading Christian because the first three of the series were straight and they didn’t read gay romance. But then, there were the other half of readers who just had to know Christian’s story and even though they never read anything in the gay genre before, they read Christian. I can’t tell you how many times readers have told me that I popped their MM cherry. I’ve been told that they never would have read MM if it weren’t for Christian. I didn’t know of any other authors at the time who were mixing or crossing over genres, but I didn’t care, I was doing what my characters wanted me to do; plus I’ve never been one to follow rules all that well.

After Christian, I started a new MF series called Renegade. While in the midst of writing it, two of the secondary characters started yelling at me, demanding I write their story. An MM story. The kind of story that isn’t about sexual preference, but more about love and the need for that other person in your life. The War Trilogy is what evolved from those two characters shouting at me and readers fell head over heels in love with Dennis and Tucker.

For Dreamspinner to pick this series up was an incredible achievement for me. I never thought that I would ever be an author, let alone a traditionally published one. And working with the editors has been an amazing learning experience for me that I am truly grateful for. The War Trilogy is now one book and has been renamed From War To Forever. There have been some changes made to the story, but for anyone who read it the first time around, you will still recognize it.

The gay genre has definitely sucked me in and I find that I have a hard time writing anything but that right now. So maybe this is where I’m supposed to be? Time will tell. I’m just glad I got here. Tell me, who was the author who popped your MM cherry?

 

Check out From War to Forever today!

 

From War to Forever by Andria Large

 

Blurb: 

Dennis
The love of my life is dead. Is there a reason to live anymore?

I’m a veteran Marine. Terrorists took not only my foot, but also my wife. Recurrent nightmares, a dead-end job, and a painful limp are all I have left. My best friend, Tucker, and my sister, Lizette, keep me afloat. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Tucker… literally. And then, out of nowhere, there are these feelings. The kind I haven’t felt in years. The kind I’m not sure I can handle, or even want to. But they’ve started wrapping around my broken heart, trying to mend it. Only they are not for a woman, but for the man suddenly sharing my bed. I’m not so sure I’m ready to give love another go.

Tucker

The war took my hearing, but I’m alive. Many of my friends are not. I am building a life with my best friend, Dennis. We have become practically inseparable. And now, we are more than friends. I’ve never had feelings like these for a man. My parents, my brother, my buddy, Duke—will they understand how I feel about Dennis? Can I risk losing my family?

 

About Andria Large:

Andria Large is a traditionally published and self-published contemporary romance author. She doesn’t always follow the rules, so you will find both M/F and M/M books mixed into some of her series. She considers herself open and friendly, so feel free to send her a message if you have a question or just want to chat.

Website: www.AuthorAndriaLarge.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AndriaLargeAuthor/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Author_ALarge
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/author_alarge/
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2nyD5P

 

Music Is My Deal with BA Tortuga

April 18, 2017

Music Is My Deal with BA Tortuga

 

Hey y’all! I’m BA Tortuga, resident redneck and lover of all things cowboy.

Music is my deal. It’s funny, I’ve made my living as a visual artist, as a writer, but music is my true love.

Now, I admit, unashamedly, that country music is my soul. It’s not all I listen to, but it’s the one genre where I know all the words, where I know the melodies. Hell, I know why Texas twin fiddles are a thing, who wrote what song, and I challenge you to find a song from 1920 on that I don’t know.

It’s not the only genre on my iTunes/Amazon music player/Pandora player/Sirius player. It’s just the favorite.

For instance, I love baroque music. Vivaldi is my all-time favorite composer, followed closely by Pachebel. Industrial music? Uhn. It’s made to fuck to. (Can I say fuck on this blog? O.o)

What about what my wife calls ‘angry girl music’? Sarah McLachlan, Jewel, Meredith Brooks, the Indigo Girls. OMG, Tori Amos. I got to interview her once when I was working for a magazine. She told me, “You don’t fuck to a metronome.”

I damn near died. Seriously.

Then there’s my beloved old school doo-wop, the psychedelics of the late 60s. Folk music. 80s pop. Weird Al – I adore Weird Al.

Grins

Seriously.

I love it all.

Why am I blathering about this now?

The Seashores of Old Mexico is inspired loosely by the Willie Nelson song of the same name, and when I sat to tell y’all all about it? This is what popped out.

Much love, y’all.

BA

Check out Seashores of Old Mexico today!

 

Seashores of Old Mexico by BA Tortuga

Blurb:

After a bar fight gone horribly wrong, Clint is on the run, tired, hungry, and desperate to get out of Texas and across the border as fast as he can. But more than anything, he needs a place to relax and feel safe—at least for a little while. Searching for work, he stumbles into a cantina on the beach and runs into its owner. Jack might be a little older and a little worldlier, but the two men have enough in common to form a fast friendship that soon spills over into the bedroom.

But Clint isn’t the only who’s done things he isn’t proud of, things he’d rather keep hidden. Both of them have to be ready to drop everything and run if the past gets too close, and that’s no foundation for a relationship—especially since the truth always comes out eventually.

About BA Tortuga:

Texan to the bone and an unrepentant Daddy’s Girl, BA Tortuga spends her days with her basset hounds and her beloved wife, texting her sisters, and eating Mexican food. When she’s not doing that, she’s writing. She spends her days off watching rodeo, knitting and surfing Pinterest in the name of research. BA’s personal saviors include her wife, Julia Talbot, her best friend, Sean Michael, and coffee. Lots of coffee. Really good coffee.

Having written everything from fist-fighting rednecks to hard-core cowboys to werewolves, BA does her damnedest to tell the stories of her heart, which was raised in Northeast Texas, but has heard the call of the  high desert and lives in the Sandias. With books ranging from hard-hitting GLBT romance, to fiery menages, to the most traditional of love stories, BA refuses to be pigeon-holed by anyone but the voices in her head. Find her on the web at www.batortuga.com

Celebrating Shira Anthony’s 20th Book! + Giveaway

April 15, 2017

Celebrating Shira Anthony's 20th Book!

 

Hi everyone! I’m Shira Anthony, celebrating the release of my 20th book from Dreamspinner Press, Forgotten Paradise! If you’re reading this post, you are in for a double dose of giveaway. For you only, I’ve got a special giveaway: reader’s choice of one of my 20 Dreamspinner Press backtitles (anything but my brand new book). And actually, that’s 21 backtitles, since I’m part of the Once Upon a Time in the Weird West anthology as well but didn’t count it as a book. To enter this special release day contest, answer this question: What kind of men’s bathing suits are the sexiest? I’ll choose a winner after 4/18. Then read down to the end of the post on how to win the grand prize for the blog tour contest, a December Diamonds Cupid Merman ornament!

Merman Ornament

For those readers who may not already know, Forgotten Paradise is my second entry in the Dreamspun Desires line of gay category romances from Dreamspinner Press. I love these sweet, tropey romances that recall the Harlequin and Silhouette books I used to read as a high school student. They’re all about sweaty palms, sweet romance, and a satisfying HEA. Light on the angst, a little sexy (mine does have some explicit sex in it), and a lot of fun.

My love of snorkeling, diving, and sailing inspired the Mermen of Ea trilogy (mermen shifters) from Dreamspinner Press. For Forgotten Paradise, my diving inspired one of the MCs: Jonah James is a dive instructor with the all-inclusive resort where the other MC, Adam Preston, stays for a week.

Forgotten Paradise by Shira Anthony

Forgotten Paradise by Shira Anthony

Forgotten Paradise is all about finding out who you truly are. Not only because Jonah doesn’t remember who he was before he woke up on a Punta Cana beach ten years before! When Jonah’s past and Adam’s future collide, the two men must weather a storm of emotions and challenges. Of course, this is a Dreamspun title, so you can be sure it all works out in the end!

I hope you’ll enjoy finding out who Jonah really is and that you’ll be able to imagine the sand between your toes as you read Forgotten Paradise. To enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for the blog tour, go to one or more of the blog stops and answer the question I’ve asked in the post. Each blog stop comment is an entry. Good luck! –Shira

 

Check out Forgotten Paradise today!

 

Forgotten Paradise by Shira Anthony

Blurb:

It’s dangerous diving for secrets.

When a megacompany threatens to take over his family-owned business, programming prodigy Adam Preston escapes the stress with a much-needed vacation in the Dominican Republic. There he meets attractive, intelligent, insightful Jonah James, a scuba dive instructor, and what starts as a holiday fling soon blossoms into much more.

But Jonah has a secret: ten years ago he woke up on an island beach with no idea how he got there… or even who he is. Their paradise may not be as perfect as it seems. When Jonah’s memories come crashing back like waves on the sand, will it be Adam clinging to the proverbial life raft, or will the two men find a safe harbor to ride out the storm?

Forgotten Paradise Blog Tour

Yes, That’s My Family (Sort Of) with Tali Spencer

April 14, 2017

 Yes, That's My Family (Sort Of) with Tali Spencer

 

When writing stories, authors pull from life. Write what you know, and all that. For fantasy and science fiction, that means drawing on emotions, landscapes, science, and my unique experience of being human, but not very much about actual people or places. With contemporary stories, though, those people and places can mirror real ones. I certainly did it in Breaking the Ice.

When Dreamspinner put out a call for the States of Love series, two states came immediately to mind: Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. I’ve lived in eleven states, but those are the two I know best. I was born in Wisconsin and raised my sons there. I currently live in Pennsylvania.

When writing what you know, it helps immensely if you know it well.

My family still lives in Wisconsin and bits and pieces of them color the landscape and characters of Breaking the Ice. The main characters, Matt and John, are regular guys—just like my brothers. Neither brother is gay, so please don’t read anything into that. It’s just that, like one of my brothers, Wisconsin native John is a man who built his career by going straight from high school to work at a small heavy industry company, of which Wisconsin has a great many. The company John and Matt work for is located in the town of Slinger. Why? Because my brother lived in Slinger, which lies just off one of the exits of I-45 leading to Green Bay and, importantly, Fond du Lac.

Fond du Lac is where Matt lives, and Matt… well, we’ll get to him later.

I’m familiar with the Slinger exit and the kinds of bars and supper clubs nearby. Sam and Sally’s bar is fictional… but Dale’s in Milwaukee is not. My sister used to hang out at Dale’s and maybe still does. They’re famous for their soup. The crowd at Dale’s, and at many small Milwaukee bars I’ve had occasion to visit (with my sister, as I don’t think I have ever gone to a bar alone), is friendly and social. If you’re a regular, everybody does, truly, know your name. Matt’s social group is loosely based on an evening spent at Dale’s.

Or take bowling. I’m a bowler, or was one, so there’s that. The bowling in Breaking the Ice, though, while a minor plot point, belongs squarely with my brother again, who goes bowling with guys from work—just like Matt and John. Brother got promoted into management and still bowled with the guys… also like Matt. All names are made up, but the fact one of the co-worker bowlers is Hispanic is true to life: Milwaukee has more Mexicans, and Mexican restaurants and businesses, than the entire Philadelphia metro area. Seriously, I can’t find a decent Mexican restaurant near me. But in Milwaukee…

Speaking of Milwaukee, John’s mother’s house is real. It stands about four blocks away from my Mom’s. Whenever I visit and we drive past that house, I just… like it. It’s homey and friendly and everything a house should be. Right off Lloyd Street in Wauwatosa. The kitchen of the house in the book, though, is Mom’s. John and his mom talk at my Mom’s table. Matt’s house also exists, with a boathouse that can be seen from boats on Lake Winnebago. The interior of Matt’s house, but not the exterior, is based on my good friend Amy’s house because her kitchen is awesome.

Breaking the Ice owes a huge debt to my sister. She and her husband inspired Matt (remember, I said I’d get to him). They love to fish and hunt; they own a boat and tons of gear; they’ve speared sturgeon… or at least like to party with the folks who spear sturgeon. Matt, with his passion for the outdoors and conservation, is based on them. I wanted to capture the joy of the outdoor lifestyle. A few of Mary’s anecdotes made their way into Breaking the Ice. Babe and his grill really happened. Ice glow. John’s misadventure with a sturgeon hole. The female warden (I’m sitting on a great story about her that needs a MF book!). And who knew sturgeon spearers like to swig blackberry brandy?

Oh, and don’t tell her, because she’ll probably never read this, but I gave Racko my sister’s no-nonsense personality. And another character her husband’s beard.

Matt’s petty, vengeful streak, though? That one’s all me.

Write what you know.

 

Check out Breaking the Ice today!

 

Breaking the Ice by Tali Spencer

 

Blurb:

For Matt Wasko, February in Wisconsin is the best time of the year, and ice fishing on Lake Winnebago is his idea of heaven. With shanty villages cropping up, barbeques on the ice, monster sturgeon to spear, and plenty of booze to keep everybody warm, things couldn’t be better—until a surprise storm hits and an uninvited guest shows up at his frozen doorstep.

Matt’s not happy to see John Lutz, a coworker who cracks lame gay jokes at Matt’s expense. But John’s flimsy new ice shelter got blown across the lake, and it wouldn’t be right to leave even a jerk outside to freeze. Would it?

In the close quarters of Matt’s fabulous ice shanty, between stripping off wet clothes, misadventures with bait, and a fighting trophy-sized walleye, the two men discover creative ways to keep the cold at bay. And when John confesses his long-running attraction, Matt must decide if he can believe in John’s change of heart—and crack the ice for a chance at finding love.

 

About Tali Spencer:

Tali Spencer delights in erotic fantasy and adventure, creating worlds where she can explore the heights and shadows of sexual passion. A hopeful romantic and lover of all things exotic, she also writes high fantasy, science fiction and the occasional contemporary or western. In the real world, she is currently in the process of getting new knees. If you would like to see inspiration pictures for her characters, or glimpse how she envisions her worlds, including works in progress, check out her Pinterest boards.

Visit Tali’s blog at http://talismania-brilliantdisguise.blogspot.com
E-mail: tali.spencer1@gmail.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/tali.spencer
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/talispencer/

Kelly Jensen: Dating Ideas for Henry and Marc – Post + Giveaway

April 3, 2017

Date Ideas with Kelly Jensen

 

Poor Henry and Marc. They haven’t had a good dating history so far. When they first get together, it’s because they’re trapped on the side of a road during a blizzard. On Christmas Eve, no less. Then, on New Year’s Eve, they get trapped in a basement. To Marc’s credit, he did pick a good date location. They should have been safe in the home of senior partner Shelly Flores. But, really, would these guys be safe anywhere?

For fun (see, this is why my characters hate me) I thought I’d check out a few recommended “first date” recommendations on the internet, and see if they’d work for Henry and Marc.

POPSUGAR has a list of 22 Kiss-Friendly New Year’s Eve Date Ideas. The second is a sunset picnic. Okay, I guess that could work if you were in the right climate for it, but Boston in December? Ugh, no. That’s just asking for disaster. Also, I couldn’t even look at the food on their pretty little blanket without thinking ALLERGIES. Going into anaphylactic shock on a date is…memorable? But not particularly kiss-friendly.

The sexy movie marathon could work…

AskMen’s Top 10: New Year’s Eve Ideas has a fun first suggestion: A quick getaway. Really? Putting Henry and Marc on any form of public transport is just asking for trouble. A quick cab ride across the city is risk enough.

Staying home for a quiet, romantic dinner sounds nice.

Bustle has 7 Last-Minute New Year’s Eve Date Night Ideas. Last minute is probably not a good idea and not really Marc’s thing, but… Okay, going to the movies could work. If no one chokes on the popcorn. But the DIY fireworks are OUT. Not giving these guys anything explosive, any time soon.

So, Astroglide (don’t laugh) has 21 Sexy Winter Date Ideas for Guys on Any Budget. I love the second suggestion, sledding in the park. It’s fun, it’s romantic, it’s different… and it’s ripe for disaster, broken limbs being the least among them. Now in any normal story, this date would happen during the day. Henry and Marc on a sled at night in a park in Boston on New Year’s Eve? I’ll just let your imagination run with that one for a little while.

Gay Life at About.com has a nice list of Untraditional Date Ideas. First thought is that untraditional is probably not a good idea for these guys. Second thought is, maybe that’s what we need. (Also, I am very amused that these ideas are specifically for gay couples, because we all know they don’t enjoy traditional date ideas, right?) So, number two is out. No rollercoasters. Roller skating probably isn’t a good idea, either. But I’m not really coming up with any objections to bowling. Might have to think laterally for that one. Where is this bowling alley and how would they get there? Do they serve peanuts at the snack shop? Has Marc ever actually bowled before?

It’s not looking good for Henry and Marc, is it? All joking aside, though, I’d like to think the worst is behind them. Such a rocky beginning can only guarantee a smooth ascent from here on, right?

Oh, absolutely.

Thanks for following my tour! At the end of every post, I’ll be asking a question. Leave a comment with your answer (and your email address). Every comment throughout the tour counts as an entry in my giveaway. One winners will receive $15 (US or equivalent) to spend at the Dreamspinner Press store.

Question: Do you have a date idea for Henry and Marc?

 

Check out Counting Down today!

 

Counting Down by Kelly Jensen

Blurb: 

It’s been a week since a Christmas Eve blizzard changed the course of Marcus Winnamore’s life. Plan A is now Plan B, and the first item on his new agenda is taking Henry Auttenberg on a date. They’ve been invited to a New Year’s Eve party, and Marc is counting down the hours until midnight… until he can kiss Henry in front of his colleagues and friends.

Things don’t quite work out to plan. Finding the elevator out of service, Marc and Henry check the stairs, only to choose the wrong door and become locked in the basement. Close quarters once again make for close conversation, and as they explore every avenue of escape, they also explore the deepening attraction between them. For Marc, this isn’t an experiment. Will he still feel that way when he has to admit to someone other than Henry that he’s gay?

 

About Kelly Jensen:

Kelly Jensen was born in Australia and raised everywhere else. Currently, she lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, daughter, and herd of four cats. After disproving the theory that water only spins counterclockwise around drains north of the equator, she turned her attention to more productive pursuits such as reading, writing, writing about reading, and writing stories of her own. She also enjoys volunteering at her local library, playing video games, and holds a brown belt in Kiryoku, a martial art combining Shotokan, Aikido, and Tang Soo Do. Her family is not intimidated by her.
Twitter: @kmkjensen
Website: kellyjensenwrites.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/kellyjensenwrites

Cowboys! W/ Tory Temple

March 31, 2017

Cowboys! With Tory Temple

 

Hey everybody! I’m Tory, and I’m so happy I get to talk to you about my favorite topic (AFTER firefighters)!

COWBOYS YAY.

My novel Down in the Dirt was released earlier this week and I couldn’t be happier! Dreamspinner has been so generous with allowing me to republish some of my old novels. This was formerly released with another publisher under the title Tabula Rasa. It’s got a brand-spanking-new title, cover, and edit.

I actually wanted to call this book Down in the Dirt from the beginning, but I was also going through this weird writing phase where my book titles had to be vague yet meaningful. Tabula Rasa literally means “blank slate”, and there’s a part in the story where…. ha. No spoilers! Anyway, I’m glad it got renamed.

I did have to do a fair bit of research on team ropers, but once I started, it didn’t feel like work to me at all. It was so interesting to learn the ins and outs of the rodeo circuit, especially because I make it a habit to go to the rodeo every time it’s local. One thing I was really pleased to find out was how humanely the animals are treated. They’re actually worth a lot of money to the owners, so the last thing the rancher wants is for a steer or horse to be injured. Serious precautions are taken to avoid injury!

Teagan and Cash are pretty much the epitome of the “enemies to lovers” trope, but I don’t mind that they fall into that category. A good personality clash really makes things interesting, at least from my perspective. And trust me when I say these two clash. Fortunately for them, they’re extremely compatible in the rodeo ring. (And maybe some other places, but they won’t admit it.)

This book was actually an EPPIE finalist back in the day, and I’m really proud of it. Thank you so much for letting me chat a little! I sincerely hope you love Teagan and Cash as much as I do.

Happy roping!

 

Tory would be happy to chat with readers in the following places:

Website: www.torytemple.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/torytemple
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ToryTemple

 

Check out Down in the Dirt today!

 

Down in the Dirt by Tory Temple

Blurb:

Rodeo cowboy Teagan has inherited his father’s ranch, and it’s in a bad way. To pay his bills, he’ll have to work the rodeo circuit hard, and for that he needs a partner. Team roper Cash is just the ticket. He’s not the friendliest sort, but he has a good seat and a better roping arm, so Teagan takes Cash on and things heat up fast. Maybe too fast.

When Teagan finds out he’s not the only one Cash has in the saddle, he thinks they’re over for good. But then Cash has an accident, and Teagan cares too much about Cash to abandon him. How will he deal with a new Cash, one with no memory of being a bit of an asshole—or of a relationship with Teagan? And how will Cash react when he realizes Teagan has been less than forthcoming about their past?

Like any good rodeo ride, Teagan and Cash have ups and downs, crashing and burning as often as they blaze bright. But to make their love work as smoothly as their roping, they’ll have to push past deception and stubborn pride.

Leigh Carman: Football, the Patriots, and an Out of Control Imagination

March 23, 2017

 

Football Patriots

 

Football, the Patriots, and an Out of Control Imagination—Just another day in the life of Leigh Carman.

Hello fellow readers of Dreamspinner! I’m Leigh Carman and today marks the release of Fair Catch, book 2 in the Players of LA series. Don’t worry, they’re standalone novels, but characters from other books do make cameos from time to time just to keep things fun and interesting.

I’d like to talk sports for a minute. After spending the first 27 years of my life in New England, yes, I’m a die-hard Patriots fan. I know, I know. Most of you are tired of hearing about the Pats and their many, many, many Superbowl rings. I get it. But hey, that doesn’t mean it isn’t still completely awesome for my team to win! Well, after writing book 1 in the Players of LA series as a result of accidentally watching a men’s beach volleyball tournament on TV, I couldn’t help but turn to my favorite sport, football, as my muse for book 2.

Plucked directly from the ranks of my home team, I created Sullivan “Van” Archer, an amazingly talented, very tall, very hunky, and very blond wide receiver (those of you with any knowledge of the Patriots will easily figure out who was my inspiration for Van). To complete him, I came up with Van’s exact opposite, Toby Bennett, a slender, super flexible, fashion-challenged, yoga instructor. They are the yin and the yang that give us that oh-so-awesome friction and heat between the main characters, and trust me, when Van and Toby get together, the sparks burn hot enough to melt your e-reader.

I don’t know why I find professional athletes so fascinating. No, that’s a lie. It’s because I love strong, determined, and hard working, men, who possess that natural confidence I find undeniably hot. Believe me, when I watch sports with my husband, I can always count on him at some point, turning to stare at me with one eyebrow raised. He knows exactly what goes through my head when I see two attractive athletes fight and tussle on the screen—1) How can I put this in a book? and 2) What would happen if the men were secret lovers? We all have our weaknesses, mine just happens to be a very overactive imagination.

That’s how Fair Catch came to be. I hope you enjoy reading Van and Toby’s story. It’s been a long time in the making. I know a fair amount of you will ask about Toby’s BFF, the loud and proud Leo Greenway. Don’t worry, you’ll find out all about Leo and his brightly colored Chucks soon enough. He’s currently a work in progress, but I’m just about finished helping him find the love of his life.

I mentioned my favorite sport is football. Now it’s my turn to ask you a couple of questions. What is your favorite sport? Or your favorite team or even favorite athlete? Just comment below. Bonus points to anyone who guesses my inspiration for Van Archer.

Happy reading!

 

Check out Fair Catch today!

 

Fair Catch by Leigh Carman

Blurb:

Two men.

One night of passion.

They never expected to see each other again.

They were wrong.

Tobias Bennett is a quiet and unassuming man who teaches yoga and enjoys parkour. Though he is proud to be gay, an abusive relationship with a domineering man has left Tobias wary of romance, and he keeps to himself in his tidy Los Angeles apartment.

Pro football player Sullivan Archer is Tobias’s complete opposite: loud, brash, fond of the spotlight… and deep in the closet. When a hamstring injury sends Van to Tobias as part of his therapy, neither of them is expecting to come face-to-face with his one-night stand. Now they’re stuck together throughout Van’s healing process, and the close proximity will force them to deal with some hard truths. For Tobias, it’s realizing his hookup is a celebrity. For Van, it means accepting that he likes Tobias more than he wanted. They’ll both have to acknowledge that if they choose to pursue a relationship, their lives will change in big ways.

 

Leigh Carman

About the Author:

Leigh Carman was born and raised in New England with all of its fall foliage and winter snow. She escaped to the South, where she currently lives outside Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband, two kids, and French Bulldog, Shelby.

She loves the Red Sox, the Patriots, and anything chocolate (but not white chocolate—everyone knows it’s not real chocolate so it doesn’t count), and has left explicit instructions in her will to have her ashes snuck into Fenway Park and sprinkled all over while her family enjoys beer, hot dogs, and a wicked good time.

Leigh also writes M/F dark romance under the name Heather C. Leigh. She also loves exploring the underbelly of fame and the crushing weight of those under the microscope 24/7.

Leigh Carman

Ken Bachtold: Creating Theater

March 22, 2017

 Creating Theater with Ken Bachtold

 

Of all five books that I’ve been fortunate enough to have Dreamspinner publish, this one is the closest to my heart, in that it’s semi-autobiographical.  Like Nick in the story, I did graduate from San Francisco State University with a BA & MA in theater and a minor in Art. Instead of taking a great teaching job at San Francisco City College (where I would eventually become head of the entire drama department–with, at that time, a highly unusual for a college, top of the line professional Eisenhower light board and automatic scene changing system–I fell into the “lure of the big time” and came to New York.

I’d been lucky enough to get an Equity card in S.F. by playing The Boy’s Father in the ongoing production of The Fantasticks! at Ghirardelli Square. However, this turned out to be false security, as I soon found out that whenever I entered an audition space, there were about fifty other guys who looked exactly like me! Finally, I was fortunate enough to get an audition for a projected musical titled Mata Hari (which never made it to Broadway) and I’d always been shaky singing since a choir director once said to me when I was about twelve years old, “I think you’d better go home, and come back when your voice finishes changing.”  Traumatized for life, I went home and didn’t murmur a musical sound until I tried out for West Side Story at school (I loved, loved, loved musicals, even then – nothing like the almost off-tune sound of a pit orchestra) and, lo and behold, got the part of Bernardo! That settled my fate going forward! But at the N.Y. audition, I was so nervous (the audition was in the afternoon, on the stage of a Broadway theater and it looked like a million empty seats staring back at me). I’d chosen an old standard, My Funny Valentine, and just before I started to warble, my knees began to shake, and my voice kept going up and up as I sharped through the whole song.  As I left, I hoped the people in the wings, who were waiting their turn, wouldn’t have noticed. I figured they did, because they all looked at the stage floor as I walked passed them!  Embarrassment to the nth degree!

At any rate, disappointed by events, I did, like Nick, start my own company (yes, called A Company of Players) where I directed five plays (before my money ran out!). And again, drawing from my own past, I wrote a play entitled, Starting Over which was accepted (six out of sixty) for the Ninth Annual Fresh Fruit Festival here in N.Y.  And, again, like Nick, I had two young people who didn’t learn their lines and I almost had to cancel the play . . . and . . . a “method actress” (a former FBI agent – I can’t make this stuff up) who made me crazy, just like Rosie does for Nick.

All the theater references are spot on, as I literally lived them myself. I do try to place my stories in New York to try and get a real authentic feel for the setting. And, being originally from San Francisco, I did actually ride the cable cars going to my dentist, and I did go to the Fairmont Hotel, and other hotels for formal affairs when in college. And, the street (Powell Street) is actually so steep that it has stairs on the sidewalk and when you have to stop at the top of the hill you’d better have your hand on the emergency brake and your foot hovering over the brake and the gas pedal, because when the light turns green, heaven forbid that you slip back, as you’ll crash into the car behind you (undoubtedly irritating the other driver just a bit).

So, that’s some of the events that I used in the story, and I hope all this information is interesting and helps! I tried to make this blog more chatty than the others so it would be different!

 

Check out A Company of Players today!

 

A Company of Players by Ken Bachtold

Blurb:

Leaving romantic wreckage behind him, Nick Charles and his best friend Barb Anderson use Nick’s sizable inheritance to fly to one of the most exciting places in the world—New York City—with plans to open their own theater. In doing so, they meet Ross Taylor, the handsome real estate man and actor, and Rudy his construction-worker cousin. Ross is determined to heal Nick’s fragile heart, while shy Rudy and oblivious Barb stumble toward their own connection. Will Rosie Dupree, a rigid method actress, and talented but devious Gordon Holmes destroy their theater dreams? Was choosing the original piece, Starting Over, by an unpublished young playwright the best move for opening night? Will the invited critic show up? Amid the frantic and colorful world of the New York City theater scene, Nick and Barb must open their hearts and risk everything for their endeavors to succeed—both on the stage and behind the scenes.

States of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the United States.

 

About the Author: 

Ken Bachtold graduated from San Francisco State University with a BA and an MA in acting and directing and a minor in art. Passing up a great teaching job and surrendering to the “lure of the big-time,” he came to New York. After pounding the pavement and finding it wanting, he decided to shape his own destiny and founded A Company of Players Repertory Theatre, producing and directing five plays. Always an avid reader, his two Kindles probably store 500 books, mostly MM romance. Often frustrated at finding exactly the type of story he favored, he thought, What the hell, I should write one. And so he did!

A Teacher and a Poet: Making Romance w/ Cy Blanca

March 15, 2017

Making Romance with Cy Blanca

 

Hi there. I’m Cy Blanca, and I have no idea what I’m doing. But before we get into that, I must extend a huge thank-you to the Dreamspinner Press family. Thank you for taking a chance on me. When I say I have no idea what I’m doing, that’s 64089% the truth. I’ve spent all my adult writing life (that is post high school) writing editorials and reviews for other people. Fiction is new territory for me, and for DSP to give me a chance really means so much. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you!

Now with all the gushy stuff out of the way….

Seeing as this is a house that publishes stories of m/m love, I wanted to write about something we can all relate to on at least living vicariously through these characters: romance. I’m not going to wax philosophical (though this early in the morning I’m sure I could come up with some things to say that are both overblown and somewhat space-age-y, but let’s not). What I really want to focus on is the ways in which romance manifest themselves in this story, what it means to my two characters—because romance is probably the main reason why their relationship has worked for so long.

Curtis Ramírez is a poet. Period. His love of words is more than just an appreciation for language. It suffuses everything he does, everything he says. Words have become stitched into his DNA. Just breathing, walking, tasting is poetry. There’s no greater expression of that poetry than when he’s around his lover, Antony James. Antony has a less abstract approach to life, but romance is no less part of his character. He’s brash and unshy, but there’s a softness to him that speaks to Curt, an intangible silkiness that forces Curt to act.

When I was writing these two characters, I put so much of who I am into their creation. I’m more Curt than Antony, what with his love affair with language and his affinity for all things pretty and decadent. However, Antony and I both share a love of really good food and soft kisses, and we both need to feel reassured that they’re safe with the people around them from time to time. Both men are fiercely protective of each other and the people they care about. With that in mind, I had to set about creating a romance that was believable but maybe just a little bit fantastic in scope.

I draw much of my inspiration from music. In fact, most everything I write has a melody in it, something that physically moved me and gave me the emotional weight I needed for each scene. Considering just how in love the two of them are with each other, the music I listened to had to evoke this sense of abundant romance. There was a lot of D’Angelo, Van Hunt, and as I referenced in the story itself, Najubes. All of these artists in their own way know how to bring out the sensuality in the very air they breathe. Scenes that were playful and flirtatious had hints of Amel Larrieux and Van Hunt, while the rawer, more sexual situations were Maxwell, Nujabes, and Anderson .Paak. I wonder what everyone else listens to to create that candlelight and champagne mood between their boys—or with their own significant others. One can never have too much baby-makin’ music.

As much as I wanted the physical feel of my story to come from music, the more tender moments I drew on my experience in college. I got my degree in English writing with a focus on poetry. I can’t even hide it. Curt is most definitely a product of my experiences, while Antony is sort of an augmentation of my personality—maybe bordering on id territory….

When it came to fleshing out a story between them, it all started with a scene. I knew my guys were going to be completely involved with each other. With that—especially in a school setting—comes certain… complications. They want and need to be around each other, especially Curt—he is a poet after all. That idea, the image of needing a moment to reconnect physically, was the first image in my head when I decided to write about my birthplace, Topeka, KS. From there the story of these two men came to me.

Two gorgeous black men in love and incapable of hiding it. Oh, the places they went in my head before I settled where they finally went (not too far, in the end. They are teachers at a primary school after all). That makes me wonder, where are some of the most interesting places people have become… needy? You know, that tense feeling where you just need to touch something? Mine is fairly innocuous, I’m afraid—a friend’s bedroom while there was a party going on in the living room…

But, hey, we can’t all be as adventurous as Curt and Antony, right?

Thank you all for letting me blather on. Thank you again to the amazing DSP family. You all have just made my first experience with a published piece of work so memorable and really fun!

If you’d like to get in touch with me, see exactly how nuts I am:

Twitter: @madcywhite

Instagram: mindless_cy

K-music Twitter: @mindlesscy (if you want to spazz about Korean music with me)

 

 

 

Check out A Teacher and a Poet today!

 

A Teacher and a Poet by Cy Blanca

 

Blurb:

Shawnee County, Kansas, might not be the most accepting place for a gay couple, but boyfriends Antony James and Curtis Ramírez have made it their home. Both of them work at Pauline Central Primary School, and while Antony is content teaching, Curt would rather pursue his passion: poetry. He plans to resign, but he doesn’t get the chance.

Working together has its risks, and when a student witnesses Antony and Curt sneaking a kiss in the workroom, they’re reprimanded. The school board’s punishment is mild, but some members of the community aren’t willing to let the indiscretion go. That small mistake could cost Antony and Curt their home—or it could remind them that home is in the heart, and as long as they stay strong in their love, they’ll always have a place to belong.

States of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the United States.

 

 

Author Bio:

Cy Blanca has enjoyed words since she was in elementary school. They hold magic powers for her, and she loves playing with them to see just what they can do. She got her degree in English poetry, but she’s been doing mostly editorial work for online magazines YAM Magazine, Rock ’N Seoul, and SeoulBeats (yeah… she loves Korean music and gets to interview folks and write about it). She’s exceptionally blessed to actually be able to do exactly what she went to school for, and fiction is a new avenue she’s trying to explore. Hopefully she can make some magic happen with the words she’s been in love with since she was in elementary school.

She’d love to hear from people who want to know a bit more about her, or just want to become homies.

You can reach her on Twitter: @madcywhite
You can also reach her on Instagram: @mindless_cy
(For K-pop related fangirling, venture over to @mindlesscy if you dare.)