16 Things You Don’t Know About Trust Trade w/ Ki Brightly

February 6, 2017

 

16 Things You Didn't Know about Trust Trade with Ki Brightly

 

Hello readers! My name is Ki Brightly and I’m here on the Dreamspinner Press blog today to talk about my newest release, Trust Trade. It’s a crime/thriller/romance, dark and twisted, but the type of read that sucks you in once you get started. Jeb and Freddy are both dealing with their own struggles and lives, and their paths just happen to cross. The story is heavy, but I do my best to end it on a ray of hope. Instead of going into all that the book is and isn’t, the blurb does a pretty nice job with that, I thought I might give everyone some interesting tidbits about Trust Trade and the writing process surrounding it. Since I love making lists, one might even call it an obsession, please enjoy these random, numbered, facts.

1. The house Jeb grew up in was modeled after the house I lived in as a teenager.

When I was small my father and I lived with his parents, but when I turned 13 we moved into an old farm house he was rehabbing. As those projects tend to go, the house was never finished. By the time I left for college it was nowhere near done. There was no insulation, and I mean absolutely not a bit, in that house. During the winter, any part of the house that wasn’t near the gas heaters was cold enough that your breath would cloud. I would shower and then dash to dress in front of the gas heater in the dining room cursing a blue streak every morning. The house was ramshackle and old, but I did love it. It belonged to my great grandmother. There were nooks and crannies to explore: servant’s quarters with stairs off the kitchen, odd ghost sounds at night, even hidden rooms. One thing I especially loved during the spring was that French Lilacs bloomed right outside my bedroom window. To this day it’s the only smell I truly associate with the end of winter.

2. The college Jeb and Freddy attended was modelled quite closely on my alma mater.

I say it’s close because there has been 10 years of construction, growth, and rearranging that has gone on at my old school. When I took a tour recently, I was both shocked at what had changed and bemused by what hadn’t. I think the furniture in the library has probably been there since 1980, but I love that too. Oddly enough the kids looked younger than they did when I left. Strange how that happens.

3. The pines in Trust Trade are deliberately placed.

I wrote pine trees into the final scenes of Trust Trade because I grew up running the pine woods near our old farmhouse. It was like a magical land under these towering ancient trees. They smelled like Christmas year-round, and were always cool underneath when it was hot, sheltering if I got caught in the rain. I was extremely fond of those branches with their skirts spread wide. The dead needles could prick you, but the piles were also soft if you spread out your jacket to lay on them, sort of like hay. There were some summers I would have lived under the pines if they would have had a bookshelf.

4. I used to watch the water polo guys while I was running.

The reason I put water polo into Trust Trade is because when I was running at the gym in college, the treadmills were set up against these huge windows overlooking the pool area. I must have pleased some sort of exercise god because at least half the time while I was exercising with upbeat music blasting in my ears the water polo guys were practicing. And oh, wow. Let me tell you. Guys that swim miles and miles every day are amazing to look at. I would say things to myself like, “Run one more mile and you can ogle the hot guy in the red speedos for a few more minutes.” There were days I ran two and a half hours. No lie.

5. Sellers didn’t have a first name for most of the book.

I know that sounds ridiculous. I’m so inconsistent when I write books. Sometimes when I write a book I know every single character that will be in it and have a character bible. When I do that I literally know everything about a character, including what they have in their refrigerator. I pantsed Trust Trade. (For those of you not into the lingo, that means instead of planning I wrote it by the seat of my pants.) So, Archie was as much as surprise to me as it was to anyone reading the book. It just sort of slipped out onto the page and I was like…yeah, sure, why not. It’s one of those names you don’t hear much anymore and seemed to fit Sellers.

6. Sampson is a pocket/mini beagle because I want one unreasonably.

I have wanted a miniature beagle ever since I watched Star Trek: Enterprise. Archer’s dog Porthos was the most amazingly cute dog, plus he was named Porthos, which, to my geeky heart, was the best thing ever. I guess it doesn’t take much to amuse me, but that dog sealed beagle love into the core of my very being and one day I shall have one. I shall name him d’Artagnan. (Who am I kidding. The dog will probably end up named something refined like Skittles or Pumpkin, but I can dream.)

7. The reason Philadelphia isn’t featured more prominently in the Trust Trade is because I’ve only been there once.

And the trip was awful. My grandmother, all innocent like, asks me if I want to go for a drive one morning. Me, not realizing what I was in for, said sure. We were in the car for six hours. SIX. We didn’t stop. We didn’t eat food anywhere. I was a chubby kid. I was dying. It turned out she wanted to see the tall ships that were in Phillie for some festival (to this day I will never understand why we had to go there instead of driving two hours north to Erie which also has tall ship festivals). We were in Philadelphia for a grand total of an hour and a half then we drove home again so we could be back in time to make supper, because my grandmother was the kind of woman that would never allow the men in our family to go hungry. She grew up on a farm and was determinedly old fashioned that way, even if she was progressive in others. So we didn’t stop on the way home either.

Worst. Car trip. Ever.

8. People from Philadelphia talk so strangely their dialect is studied by people around the world.

Don’t believe me? Google it. Go ahead. Google Philadelphia and dialect.

I’ll wait.

The stuff you find will truly boggle you, especially if you aren’t from Pennsylvania and you’ve never had the joy of experiencing someone with a Philadelphia accent. People like to make fun of Yinzers (I will admit that I grew up saying yinz, just north of Pittsburgh), but Phillie has its own thing going on.

Since Wally is from Philadelphia I spent about 2 days reading up on the Philadelphia dialect, which while interesting, is sort of mind numbing after the twentieth article. I also tried to listen to some people online talking. I really wanted to get his speech patterns right, but, in the end, I’m not entirely sure I succeeded. I just wanted someone who was from Philadelphia to read that section and feel like that guy could have been someone from the block they grew up on.

Trust Trade by Ki Brightly

9. I never lived on campus when I was in college.

Most freshman at other colleges are required to live on campus, but I chose my school in an ass backwards way. My cousin was a Sophmore and needed a roommate for the apartment she wanted to get, so I applied to her school and got in. They had a very lenient commuter policy. Boom. Done. I totally missed that dorm experience, which, meh. Whatever. Living off campus was about 80% cheaper than living in a dorm. So, all of the “dorm life” I wrote was basically what I imagined the dorm experience would be like. I helped a guy sneak a case of beer into his dorm once (I was distraction…he had a SQUARE case of beer shoved into a duffle bag, so it’s probably a good thing I am so good at being awkward…I mean, the center of attention…), so I did see the inside of the dorms. I guess I did an okay job with that.

10. “No one named Freddy ever hurt anyone.”

So, there is this spot where, in internal dialogue, Freddy says something along the lines of “No one named Freddy ever hurt anyone.” Half the time when I am writing my brain is so stuck in character mode that I don’t really process what I’ve written until I’m editing it, and this was one of those times. I had a helpful editor note, “Except Freddy Kruger.” I laughed so hard while I was doing that edit that my Sugar Plum came to check on me and see if I was all right. Nightmare on Elm Street was one of those movies that scared me into staying awake for a day and a half straight. I mean, I was like eight the first time I watched it, so it was terrifying. I ended up leaving what Jeb said in the story because he’s of an age where he may realistically have never seen the movie (It released in 1984), and the way he was raised he wouldn’t have watched anything like that if he hasn’t seen it in the meantime. I still giggle every time I read that section of the book.

11. I promised myself I wouldn’t write messed up parental relationships in this book, then failed hard. Jeb’s and Max’s parents are maybe some of the worst I’ve ever written. Maybe even some of the worst I’ve ever read.

I write a lot of “bad parents” in my books, a lot of self-involved and selfish people. I don’t necessarily mean to, but having parents that aren’t that great isn’t an isolated occurrence. I have heard a lot of horror stories. I realized after I wrote this book that Jeb’s relationship with his mother closely resembled my own near lack of relationship with mine. I guess it is true that we try to subconsciously work out things we aren’t good with in our own lives in our fiction. I’m double dog super sure not going to write messed up parental relationships in my next book, simply because I’ve noticed it now.

My tendency to put crappy parents into my works in progress seems to increase the closer my writing occurs to the holidays. During Yultide it’s especially hard for me because there’s a very huge expectation of “family”. It’s been about four years now since I was more or less uninvited from my family. (I’m kind of adopted. It’s a long story worthy of Jerry Springer. The early years Springer, not the crap he’s been doing lately—the really messed up stuff.) This year I finally shook off the holiday malaise by making sure to create my own traditions and celebrating with the family I have taken the time to make myself—Sugar Plum, the kids, and the good friends I’ve made.

12. My friend Bobby Musolff died during the production of Trust Trade.

Honestly, this one only matters to the people who knew him, but I did. I nearly made this book in memorial to him, but for several reasons I chose to wait for a different book that I think would fit him better. His death hit me hard because even though he’d been sick for a while I got busy and didn’t visit him as often as I should have. You always feel like you have time, but sometimes you don’t. Bobby is one of the reasons I started writing in the first place. When I was in college, living in the basement of the house I shared with him and a few other people, I started writing longer fiction—more than 20 or 30 pages—for the first time. It had flaws and issues and the guy I was dating at the time literally laughed his ass off when he read my work. (He was a jerk anyway, but I took it to heart.) Bobby didn’t laugh. He said everyone starts somewhere, and he passed on the best advice I’ve ever heard to allow someone to continue writing: “Ki…” Pause to take a drag on his clove cigarette. Exhale. “Fuck everyone. Just write. I think you have potential.”

Well, okay then. That’s what I did.

And if it weren’t for him, I probably never would have published anything. He was already sick when Threefold Love was first published, but he was excited for me anyway. I felt bad telling him about something good in my life when he knew he didn’t have much time left in his, but he was radiant, called that bullshit, celebrated with me.

I’ll miss Bobby.

13. The living room suit from the safe house was in the house I shared with Bobby.

The house used to belong to Bobby’s grandmother and grandfather and the couch was this boxy greenish/gold monstrosity that almost had that kitchy, retro appeal, but stopped short of it. The gilded gold mirror on the wall was a dusty monstrosity. The entire house was just terrible. But some of the most entertaining moments of my life took place there, along with some of the most embarrassing. I won’t ever forget that old furniture. This house was so amazingly awful that occasionally the lights would flicker, and after a little searching we realized that it was because the electric intake on the outside of the house was loose. Geniuses that we were, we decided to put a boot on a broom (because the rubber sole should have kept the electricity from conducting…in theory…) and poked at the electrical box on the outside of the house. I have clear memories of being outside at three in the morning, wine tipsy, with the boot on the broom jabbing at the sparking electric box until the lights came up and the music inside started blaring again, Bobby trailing after me with a bottle of Merlot and a cigarette hanging out of the corner of his mouth bitching about the inferiority of people who don’t like reading James Joyce.

“But Bobby, I hate Joyce!” Poke. Poke. Poke. Lights fizzle. “Shit, one too many.” Poke. Poke. Lights back up.

“Yeah, but you’re a good soul. This one kid in class actually had the balls to say—”

Good times.

14. Connie wasn’t always Kare’s sister.

It wasn’t until the next to final draft of Trust Trade that everything came together and Connie became Kare’s sister. This was a classic example of me writing something in great detail that might have been cut otherwise, which later became important to the overall plot. Before Connie became Kare’s sister there were several plot points that were strings hanging in the wind. Sometimes it takes all the way to the bitter end for a story to come together.

15. Beck may or may not get his own story.

I’m still deciding whether or not it makes sense to allow Beck to get his own story. For a while when I was writing Trust Trade I was going to have him be jealous of Jeb, that seemed to reminiscent of Scott in The Paranaturalist (I try to stay away from writing two books in a row with a similar theme). So…that’s there. I didn’t write anything into Trust Trade that would indicate one way or the other which team Beck might play for. I thought maybe an enemies to lovers book with Chaz would be fun, but it would be hard work considering what a less than stellar person Chaz was in this book to make that fly. I’ve seen it done well though. Maybe in the future I’ll do it.

(What does everyone think? Yea? Nay? Beck? I admit I’m currently writing Kare and Jolliss…his first name is Gus by the way…oh, also, did anyone find the Easter egg for The Paranaturalist?)

16. Kare…so there’s a reason Kare has a Scandinavian name, even though it seems off the wall.

First of all, quite a few people of Scandinavian descent live in Erie. Erie is actually a city that has always been a big refugee resettlement area, so there are a lot of different types of people here. I love that about it.

But…there’s a story…

So, a fresh fish place opens up. It’s one of those seafood places that has fresh, never frozen seafood, which I had previously never experienced. My friend Chris (in the dedication of Trust Trade) and I go there one day and get a bunch of stuff including scallops. They are the most fantastical scallops I have ever put in my mouth. They melt in my mouth. They make me want to empty my bank account and live in a cardboard box to have them every day of my life. All the things we bought were to fucking die for.

Let me back this up. When you enter the seafood place you are greeted by the owner. A big, burly blond guy with his gray cable knit sweater rolled to his forearms and an unabashedly fabulous lilt to his voice. And when I say fabulous I don’t mean rhinestones and sequins. I mean diamonds. He has a rainbow flag in the window of his business. He’s not subtle, is what I’m getting at here. The man is gay. Extremely gay. And happy about it.

So, my friend Chris’s then fiancé? Husband? I don’t remember, they’re one of those couples who has been together since high school and will probably die together on the same day at the same second, ect., so anyway, he decides to stop there after work one day. His name is Tony. (Also in the dedication to Trust Trade.) He comes home with the seafood he stopped that day to buy since the stuff we had the other day was so delightful (I was living with them at the time.) and he looks at Chris and says, I swear to everything he says, “The guy who owns the place was super friendly! He was great! But…where’s he from?”

Chris and I look at each other. “Huh?”

“His accent…you know. Where’s he from?”

By this time Chris and I are giggling. Chris raises an eyebrow. “Uh, sweetie, what the hell are you talking about?”

Tony looks uncomfortable because he has realized at this point that he’s about to step in it, but can’t slow his foot down in time. “Is he Swedish or something?”

Chris and I: Cackle and proceed to spend the rest of the night giving Tony shit.

That is the story of how, forever more, when someone was unabashedly out and proud, we would refer to them as Swedish. In honor of the proud Swedish fisherman, I chose to give Kare a Scandinavian name.

 

So, now you know 16 random facts about Trust Trade. I think some of my list numbers got a little more personal than I intended for them to be when I first started writing them, but that’s okay. I am feeling a little Bob Ross-ish at the moment, like I just created this odd tower of words that sort of emerged on its own out of the ether, but it fulfills my list making needs for the day. I hope you all follow this up by taking a look at Trust Trade. It’s one of those books that might make you bleed while you read it, but ends on a sweet happily ever after.

Happy reading!

Ki Brightly

Check out Trust Trade today!

Trust Trade by Ki Brightly

Dreamspinner Press
Amazon

Blurb:

Life hasn’t been good to Jeb Birchman. When he attempted to escape his abusive, zealot father, he found himself on the streets, making a living the only way he knew how, the victim of more violent men—one of whom orchestrates a series of vicious attacks that leave Jeb deaf. Now that he’s aged beyond his latest client’s interest, Jeb knows he needs to escape his risky lifestyle before it’s too late. Seeing one last chance for himself, he earns a GED and enrolls in college.

Freddy Williams enjoys a life that couldn’t be more different from what Jeb has survived. He loves sports, being a personal trainer, and hanging out with friends. The son of deaf parents, Freddy is an outspoken advocate of the Deaf community and works as an interpreter at his college. When he meets Jeb at the bookstore, he’s struck by how attractive he is, and as they get to know each other, he finds Jeb’s good heart just as appealing. By the time he learns of Jeb’s past, it’s only a few steps behind them, and Freddy must make a choice between school and his familiar routine and protecting the man he’s falling in love with.

 

Ki Brightly

About the Author: 

Ki grew up in small town nowhere pretending that meteor showers were aliens invading, turning wildflowers into magic potions, and reading more than was probably healthy. Ki had one amazing best friend, one endlessly out of grasp “true love”, and a personal vendetta against normalcy.

Now, as an adult, living in Erie, Pennsylvania, Ki enjoys the sandy beaches, frigid winters, and a wonderful fancy water addiction. Seriously, fancy waters…who knew there were so many different kinds? It’s just water…and yet…

Ki shares this life with a Muse, a Sugar Plum, and two wonderful children.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kibrightly/
Blog: www.brightlybooks.wordpress.com
Tumblr: https://www.tumblr.com/search/Ki+Brightly
Twitter: https://twitter.com/KiBrightly
E-mail: kibrightly@gmail.com

Overcoming Obstacles w/ Heidi Champa + Excerpt

February 3, 2017

Overcoming Obstacles with Heidi Champa

 

I started writing this book back in 2014. In the first draft, my main character, Wes, was a very different guy, angrier and a lot less likeable. And, ‘Clean Slate’ was a very different story, one I wasn’t sure anyone would want to read. Around that same time, I was going through some medical issues that were getting steadily worse. I had just started a major revision of my novel when I got extremely ill with what at the time was an undiagnosed autoimmune disease, which put a stop to my writing.

During that time, I thought ‘Clean Slate’ would never see the light of day. I’d all but given up finishing the book when I finally got a diagnosis that gave my disease a name. But my road to recovery was just beginning.

When I finally started to feel like myself again, many months later, one of the first things I did was open up my laptop and started to slowly work on my novel. What I’d been through gave me a whole new perspective on Wes, my main character, who in the course of the novel goes through some big changes trying to deal with the trauma of his past. I saw him so much clearer and ‘Clean Slate’ became the book I wanted it to be. This is the book I’m most proud of because of all I had to overcome to finish it. I hope you enjoy reading the book as much as I enjoyed writing it.

I’m always interested in other people’s stories of triumph over adversity, so tell me, what is the thing in your life you’re most proud to have tackled? It can be big or small, funny or sad. It all shapes who we are.

 

Excerpt:

“This may sound weird, Wes,” Sam slurred.

“Okay…,” I said, waiting for what was about to come.

“Do you think we could cuddle?”

“You wanna cuddle?”

He smiled and looked at the floor.

“Yeah. I’ve never really done it. You know, cuddle on the couch while watching a movie. So what do you say?” Sam asked, his body swaying a bit.

He looked so sweet, I couldn’t think of a reason not to.

“Yeah, sure.”

“I knew I could count on you, Wes.”

Sam downed the rest of glass of wine before we got comfortable. I settled onto the couch, laying on my side with Sam in front of me, his back pressed tightly to my chest. My eyes were focused on the television, but all I could think about was how nice it felt to be close to him. He pulled my arm over him and put my hand to his chest. I could feel his heart racing, despite his relaxed demeanor. He smelled really good, obviously putting on cologne before his date.

The movie continued, but I wasn’t watching. Every time I got into the plot or let my mind cling to part of the story, Sam would shift in my arms, his ass pushing back against my crotch. I ignored it, as much as I could, but it soon became clear that Sam wanted to do a lot more than cuddle. I didn’t want to be the one to make the first move. Sam had drunk far too much wine to be thinking clearly. Taking advantage wasn’t on my agenda that evening. I was feeling much more sober, and I knew it was time to make my escape.

“Sam, I should really go. It’s late.”

He held my arm tight and shook his head.

“Movie’s not over yet.”

“I’m not really watching.”

Sam turned himself around, until we were face-to-face, his leg slipping between mine.

“Me neither,” he whispered.

His lips brushed against mine, their surface sweet from all the wine he’d drank. Sam soon had me forgetting my best-laid plans, our tongues twining and dancing.

“I mean it. I should go,” I insisted between kisses.

Sam ran his fingertips down my spine, his lips teasing my neck.

“You should stay. I want you to stay.”

I opened my mouth to object, but it died when Sam put his hand on my ass.

“You can’t really want to leave, Wes. Not when you can stay right where you are. Right here with me.”

His eyes met mine, more serious than I’d ever seen them.

“I can’t. We don’t do that.”

“We could. You could. You should.” His words ran together, his altered state showing clearly.

I had to figure a way out without hurting his feelings.

“Sam, you’re drunk. It’s late. Let’s do this some other night.”

He clung tighter to me, trapping me against him and the back of the couch.

“I’m not drunk.”

“Yeah, you are. It’s cute, actually.”

He shook his head, closing his eyes for a few seconds.

“So what if I am? Why does it matter?”

“Trust me, Sam. You think you want me to stay right now, but come morning, you’ll see things differently.”

Sam eased back a fraction, the furrow between his brows deepening.

“If you don’t want to stay, just say so,” he said, a flash of anger in his voice.

I sighed, letting my forehead rest against his for a moment.

“I was only saying it would be better if I go. And you would think so too, if you were your usual, sensible self.”

He tried to move away from me, but as he attempted to get onto his back, he slipped and fell onto the floor. I laughed, but as he rose up to his knees, he looked pissed. Very pissed.

“Maybe I’m tired of being my sensible self. Maybe for tonight, I wanted to be more like, more like….” He trailed off, his butt hitting the carpet.

“Me?” I asked, sitting up on the couch.

He looked at me, his eyes glassy even in the flickering light of the television.

“Would it be so terrible?”

I raised my eyebrows, not sure how to respond.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, would it really be that awful to stay? I’m not even talking about sex. Just to fall asleep next to me? To wake up with me in your arms, would that really be so bad?” he asked, his voice making my heart clench.

Every word out of Sam’s mouth was shocking me. My first instinct was to chalk it up to the alcohol, but there was something else going on. There was something so sincere about what he was saying. I swallowed, hoping what I was feeling wouldn’t show in my voice.

“No. It wouldn’t be terrible at all. I just wanted you to be sure it was what you really wanted,” I reasoned, hoping he bought it.

“I’m sure.”

I held out my hand, which he had a bit of trouble taking.

“Then get back up here. We have a movie to finish,” I said.

He slipped onto the couch next to me, our faces inches apart.

“I don’t care about the movie,” he said before kissing me.

“Good. Me neither.”

 

Check out Clean Slate today!

 

Clean Slate by Heidi Champa

Blurb:

Wes Green keeps everyone at arm’s length, either by pushing buttons or simply pushing them away. When that doesn’t work, Wes runs, as far and as fast as he can. This time, bolting from his boyfriend also costs him his professional organizing job. His last resort is to retreat to his brother’s basement and try to pick up the pieces. The only bright spot in his new life is his niece, Kelsey.

One day, while in Kelsey’s school drop-off line, he meets Sam Montgomery, the father of Maya, Kelsey’s best friend. When Wes finds out Sam is gay and interested in some no-strings-attached fun, Wes thinks he’s hit the jackpot. With boundaries firmly in place, keeping Sam at a distance should be easy.

What starts out simple quickly gets complicated when fun turns to feelings between Wes and Sam. But the baggage both men carry threatens to stop things before they start. Can Wes stay put long enough to find real love, or will old habits be too hard to break?

 

Author Bio:

Heidi Champa is a typical last-born child. Snarky, attention-seeking and rebellious, she started to create dirty stories to keep herself out of real trouble. Having tried her hand at a million terrible jobs, she bought herself a laptop and finally started typing up those handwritten tales. After much deliberation, she started to let other people read her work.

In addition to her flare with the written word, she knows every sentence of the movie Clue by heart and bakes a mean Funny Cake. When she is not writing, she can be found reading, hiking or filling her iPod with more music. Her life has taken her all over the world, but a piece of her heart will always be in Australia. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband.

https://www.facebook.com/HeidiChampaAuthor/
https://twitter.com/heidichampa

 

Passion and Storytelling w/ J. C. Long + Giveaway

February 1, 2017

 Passion and Storytelling with J. C. Long

 

Hello, Dreamspinner readers! For those who don’t know me, I’m J. C. Long, and I’m a writer by night and an English teacher by day who’s been living in Asia for several years, right now in Japan. My most recent release is Broadway Babe, a novella that takes place behind the curtains of a Broadway musical.

At its heart, Broadway Babe is about passion, creativity, and drive. Broadway performers have all of those things, in spades. The inspiration for the story comes from my own life—I was in theatre for the majority of my childhood, and it’s played a major role in my life and shaping me as a person. I learned so much about owning myself and the masks that we wear around others. It was theatre that surrounded me with wonderful friends and a support system that allowed me to come out in high school and have a relatively safe experience (compared to others; I had my share of bad experiences, but others had it so much worse). While I never made it to Broadway, I love performing and the feeling I get from it.

Acting is about storytelling—embodying the role of a character to communicate the words of the playwright. I feel like writing is a lot like that, to be honest. When I’m writing I will often read my dialogue as if I am the characters so that I can see how it makes sense. An actor has to get inside the head of the character, understand their motivations beyond what’s on the page to truly embody the story and make their characters alive. That’s the hallmark of a good thespian—someone who can make a character seem like a real person, as opposed to a two-dimensional character who is just going through the motions because the script said so. Interestingly enough, this is also the hallmark of a good writer—can he or she make the character’s seem three dimensional, give the essence of motivation behind actions, instead of a simple case of “this is happening in order to advance the plot even though I have no real reason to act this way”.

In this current day I think everyone needs a little pick me up, some happy considering the darkness that we’re facing, with the Dark Lord in the White House. I really think that Broadway Babe delivers in the feel good department. I did my best to keep it as low on angst as possible so that everyone could read it and come away happy. Don’t worry, Tate and Mike get their happily ever after! What’s romance without it, right?

Now, everybody likes a giveaway, right? Well, I’ll be giving away one free eBook of Broadway Babe to a lucky participant! If you want to enter, I hope you’ve been following my blog tour (if not you can go to my website, listed below, to find links to all the stops) because for your entry I want you to tell me which of my seven other blog stops was your favorite. What did you like about it? Simply reply that to this post and I’ll use a random number generator to select the winner in 72 hours! Good luck, everyone, and I hope you enjoy Broadway Babe and meeting Tate and Mike!

Social Media Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorjclong
Twitter: https://twitter.com/j_c_long_author
Website: http://www.jclong.org

 

Check out Broadway Babe today!

 

Broadway Babe by J. C. Long

Blurb: 

Tate O’Connor has worked hard to realize his dream of dancing on Broadway, and it’s about to pay off with a premier in his first show. He doesn’t expect the distraction of sharing the stage with his celebrity crush: Broadway superstar Mike Chang. Drama ensues both onstage and off as Tate and Mike work closely and realize there could be something between them. However, there are those who don’t think an up-and-coming dancer is good enough for someone with Mike’s talent and fame, and rumors and misunderstandings might lead to broken hearts if Tate and Mike can’t work through their confusion and insecurity.

About the Author:

J. C. Long is an American expat living in Japan, though he’s also lived stints in Seoul, South Korea—no, he’s not an Army brat; he’s an English teacher. He is also quite passionate about Welsh corgis and is convinced that anyone who does not like them is evil incarnate. His dramatic streak comes from his lifelong involvement in theater. After living in several countries aside from the United States, J. C. is convinced that love is love, no matter where you are, and is determined to write stories that demonstrate exactly that. J. C.’s favorite things in the world are pictures of corgis, writing, and Korean food (not in that order… okay, in that order). J. C. spends his time not writing thinking about writing, coming up with new characters, attending Big Bang concerts, and wishing he were writing. The best way to get him to write faster is to motivate him with corgi pictures. Yes, that is a veiled hint.

Exploring BDSM w/ Michaela Grey + Excerpt

January 31, 2017

 Exploring BDSM with Michaela Grey

 

Thank you for having me on your blog today! I’m here to tell you a little about my newest book, Broken Halo!

***
Micah Ellis has everything in his life just the way he likes it. Neat, orderly, and contained. Nothing gets through that isn’t carefully screened and sanitized, including people.

Which makes the unshakeable attraction to the mechanic who fixes his car that much more frustrating. Devon Mallory is Micah’s opposite in every way imaginable, as kind and laid-back as Micah is sharp-tongued and neurotic.

One thing’s for sure—once Devon learns what Micah’s really like, he’ll bail in a heartbeat.
***

Broken Halo was my first venture in BDSM literature. I’d seen a recent uptick in novels that romanticized dangerous practices and normalized miscommunication and abuse, and it bothered me enough to try and address it in my own manner.

Micah and Devon fumble their way into a D/s relationship, starting with Micah not telling Devon what he needs until it blows up in both their faces.

From then on, though, there is clear, carefully stated consent, explicitly drawn lines of both hard and soft limits, and use of safewords from both players. There’s also a ton of aftercare and dealing with the inevitable subdrops.

Fun fact: Micah lives in Toronto because I needed a city that had actual manta rays in their aquarium. Did you know that mantas are very difficult to keep in captivity, and only a few places across North America are set up to take them? I was able to fly up to Toronto and visit the aquarium Micah goes to (and pet the rays—they feel sort of like soggy pancakes), and it’s an incredible experience.

A question for you—as readers of D/s in general, what’s the main thing you wish was touched on in more depth in the books you consume? Is there something you’d like to see covered, discussed, or simply acknowledged as part of the BDSM lifestyle?

 

EXCERPT:

 

When they arrived at the aquarium, Micah made straight for the manta ray’s tank with Devon close behind him. Micah got as close as possible without touching the glass and peered through the murky depths for a glimpse of the big black fish.

“There.” Devon pointed.

Micah leaned back against Devon’s chest and let peace wash over him as he watched the ray slowly undulate through the water. Devon wrapped his coat around him and pressed their cheeks together, and Micah found his favorite button and absently slid his thumb across the ridges.

“Did you know that mantas don’t have noses?” Devon murmured.

Micah blinked, startled. He hadn’t known that.

“They can get up to twenty-five feet in length and weigh as much as three thousand pounds,” Devon continued. “A lot of people are afraid of them because they look like stingrays, but they don’t even have a stinger, and they’re very gentle.”

Micah sighed and relaxed into Devon’s arms. The manta ray floated toward them. It filled Micah’s vision and hung suspended in the water on the other side of the glass as they watched it. Micah could feel the poison leaving his soul, draining from him as the enormous fish floated gracefully away, toward the other side of the tank.

“What do they eat?” Micah asked.

“Plankton, tiny fish, crustaceans like shrimp,” Devon said into his ear. “They’re closely related to sharks, and they have a lot of teeth, but they don’t use them to eat. They have a… a filtering system, sort of like whales.”

Micah smiled. He turned in Devon’s embrace and went up on his tiptoes to wrap his arms around Devon’s neck. “Did you learn all those facts for me?”

“Maybe I just find manta rays fascinating,” Devon teased.

“Thank you,” Micah whispered. He leaned back and looked into Devon’s affectionate, worried eyes. “Take me home, Devon. I need to make love to you.”

 

Check out Broken Halo today!

 

Broken Halo by Michaela Grey

 

BIO:

Michaela Grey told stories to put herself to sleep since she was old enough to hold a conversation in her head. When she learned to write, she began putting those stories down on paper. She resides in the Texas Hill Country with her cats, and she is perpetually on the hunt for peaceful writing time.

When she’s not writing, she’s knitting while watching TV or avoiding responsibilities on Tumblr, where she blogs about cats and writing, offers dubious life advice, and tries to keep her cat off the keyboard.

Tumblr: http://greymichaela.tumblr.com
Twitter: @GreyMichaela
Facebook: www.facebook.com/GreyMichaela
E-mail: greymichaela@gmail.com

That Magic Moment w/ Allison Cassatta + Giveaway

January 26, 2017

 

That Magic Moment with Allison Cassatta

 

As a writer, I normally go into a story knowing exactly how a relationship will develop. I have a roadmap in my head, and most of the time, the characters follow the path they’re supposed to follow. Ironically, Silas and Ben’s magic moment didn’t happen that way. It came in the form of a suggestion from the editors, actually. They wanted to see more scenes between Ben and Silas. They wanted to see the two on page more often, more than casually bumping into each other around Midtown. Then this scene happened, and I couldn’t thank my editors enough. From their suggestion came one of the cutest scenes between the two, and god knew they needed some cute.

As a reader, what is your favorite aha moment for the characters? Do you like the sweet, funny scenes when two men who keep running into each other but don’t slow down enough to experience the spark? Do you prefer love at first sight? Or fireworks and explosive passion right out the gate? What makes the relationship feel more real to you?

 

EXCERPT:

The silliest of all silly grins stretched across Silas’s face. It was the booze. Had to be. Silas didn’t do goofy or funny. However, something about Ben drew the giant kid right out of Silas. Almost like being in high school again and working through his first big crush. Silas hadn’t known then if the boy he pined over played for his team, but he knew Ben did. Oh, happy day!

Running into Ben made leaving the house on one of the worst nights of the year worth every minute of this unexpected adventure. Silas had been sitting at home, wishing—as ironic as it was—that he had someone to spend the evening with. He would’ve been happy sitting on the couch, watching the Times Square ball drop with a close friend and a few cocktails. He would’ve been fine with the kind of kissing that led to hot sex at the stroke of midnight. Neither of which was going to happen.

He hadn’t heard from Scott since early December, and though Silas didn’t exactly mourn the death of their relationship, he did—from time to time—miss having someone around to chat with when he got bored, someone to snuggle with when he got lonely. Neither was an issue prior to Scott. Now both were reasons to get up and do something, anything, that didn’t involve being alone.

“I truly am glad I left the house tonight.” Silas spoke softly, more to himself than anyone else. Oh, but Ben heard him. Silas could tell by the pitiful look that devastatingly beautiful cop gave him. Not that what he said deserved any kind of pity. Maybe it’d been the tone of his voice or something in his eyes, or the fact he hadn’t looked at Ben once since he returned to the malaise of his own mind.

“Ten. Nine. Eight….”

The countdown to the New Year pulled Silas out of his ruminating. He turned eyes on Ben, who now watched the DJ count into the mic while half-naked women danced around him.

“Three. Two. One. Happy New Year!”

“Auld Lang Syne” played over the loudspeakers. People yelled the lyrics—mostly out of key. “Should auld acquaintance be forgot….” Strangers swayed together as old friends. Some random woman hooked her arm around Silas’s, forcing him to move his body too. He didn’t want to. He wanted to watch Ben’s lips as he tried to hide his mumbling the lyrics along with everyone else’s boisterous crooning. He wanted to watch the glisten in Ben’s eyes as the moon poured soft light over the crowd. He even loved the way pieces of confetti stuck in Ben’s short brown hair. God, he was absolutely mesmerized

When Ben caught him staring, Silas immediately turned his gaze away, even though he wanted nothing more than to give Ben a quick New Year’s smooch. He didn’t dare. It wasn’t right. Ben didn’t want that. So instead of lifting up on his toes and reaching for Ben’s cheek, he gave a tight smile, and said, “You stay safe on these wild Memphis streets, Benjamin.”

Silas turned to walk away.

“Wait, Silas.” Ben reached out and grabbed Silas’s upper arm before he could escape. The strength and heat of Ben’s grip sent a shiver down Silas’s spine. “You’re not walking, are you?”

Aww, he’s concerned. “I live right around the corner.” Silas thumbed over his shoulder. “Not literally, but close enough.”

“And there are a lot of drunk people out tonight. You have to cross Union to get home.”

“I learned to look both ways before I learned to spell my name.”

Silas’s cheeky comeback won him another warm smile from Ben. He was so adorable, in that cute boy-next-door kind of way.

“Please let me at least get you an Uber.”

“A what?” Silas frowned.

“Uber. It’s like a taxi.”

“Benjamin, seriously, there’s no need. I appreciate your worry, but—”

“I’m not taking no for an answer,” Ben said with finality, reaching into his pocket for what Silas assumed to be a cell phone. The device fit right in the palm of Ben’s large hand.

Mmm. Large hands. “Don’t. Please.” Silas wrapped his fingers over Ben’s. “I promise I can get home just fine.”

“You’re drunk. Anything could happen.”

“I’m only”—Silas held up his thumb and forefinger, not even a full inch apart—“this drunk now. Wine wears off fast.” Or something.

“Mm-hmm.” Ben pinched his lips and shook his head. “I could give you my number. You could text—”

Silas’s laughter cut off Ben’s offer.

“What’s so funny?”

“I don’t need to have your number. Your significant other will hate me.”

“I don’t think he….” Ben looked left, then right, then back to Silas. “It’ll be okay.”

“How about you give me your number when you’re not as interested in my safety as you are in me?”

Ben nodded. The movement was so slight, so curt and tense, that had Silas not been paying attention, he would’ve missed it.

With a sigh, Silas left the cop formerly known as Officer Hot Body standing on the edge of the road just beneath the balcony at Lafayette’s. The farther Silas walked away, the more invisible Ben became, until he was lost to a sea of drunken bodies.

Silas made a right onto Cooper, heading south toward Peabody, all the while wishing he’d stayed back with Ben until all the booze wore off. He still had enough of a buzz that his lips tingled and walking felt… well, weird. He stopped at the corner of Union and Cooper, watching the blur of cars speeding by. This was the spot where he needed to pay attention, be careful. The last thing that needed to happen was him turning into roadkill for the beautiful Officer Logan and company to scrape off the road. That would be a hell of a way to end a pretty decent night.

 

Check out Dearly Stalked today!

 

Dearly Stalked by Allison Cassatta

DSP
AMAZON
BARNES & NOBLE

 BLURB:

Writing crime novels catapulted Memphis native Silas Cooper to fame and fortune, but when his words backfire and he becomes trapped in what could be one of his books, he needs a hero of his own.

Silas’s publicist insists he hire a personal assistant, and Silas chooses Scott Kramer. But before Scott starts, he already has a round of steamy phone sex to hold over Silas’s head, and his interest in his boss isn’t decreasing.

Benjamin Logan joined the Army to see the world, and while deployed he read every one of Silas’s books. With his military career over, Ben is back in Memphis working for the police department—and attempting a deeply closeted relationship with fellow cop Morgan Brown.

Over coffee, Silas and Ben become friends who support each other as relationships fall apart, and the attraction between them slowly emerges. When a dangerous stalker threatens Silas, it’s up to Ben to stop him.

If Ben fails, Silas might not live to tell this story… and Ben might not be able to live with himself.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

CHECK OUT ALLISON CASSATTA:

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Dear Diary w/ Marina Ford + Exclusive Excerpt

January 25, 2017

 Dear Diary with Marina Ford

 

Hi, I’m Marina Ford and I’m introducing my debut novel, “Lovesick.” It’s a British gay romantic comedy, in which Leo, a university lecturer from London, finds himself sadly disappointed in love, and in need of a thorough re-evaluation of his life and goals. He eventually meets and falls in love with his neighbour, Alex, but both have quite a road to travel before they can have their Happily Ever After.

For now, please enjoy this exclusive excerpt from one of Leo’s diary entries!

***

Then Jack got engaged.

I had no idea he was even dating anybody, and then one day I went to see Sarah, whose office is right next to mine, and who knows everything about everybody, and she told me. I was standing there, hot tea in my hand, not moving or saying anything. It was as if I turned to stone—that was exactly how heavy my heart felt at that moment. I was too shocked to react.

“You all right, pet?” she asked pityingly.

I don’t remember what I said or how I got into my office afterwards. I just remember sitting behind my desk, dumbstruck, staring at the monitor of my computer, thoughts tangling themselves in my head. I eventually had it confirmed by Jack himself. Not personally. He sent out a mass email, and then I saw it on Facebook. She’s American. They’d had a long-distance thing going on for ages, apparently, and now she is moving to the UK and they’re getting married. She’s photogenic, the kind of pretty that looks effortless and natural. Like she got out of bed looking goddesslike: a big bright smile, glorious blue eyes, perfect skin. In pictures together they look incandescently happy.

I feel like I’ve gone insane. Was it really all just in my head? Did this just happen to me? How could I have got so far? What the hell happened to me? I mean, I know I’m in my head a lot, but surely I’m not literally delusional, am I?

It was horrible after that. Everybody discussed Jack’s wedding. He had brought her to some fancy dinner I didn’t go to, and afterwards everybody was full of gossip about her. The reports on her were generally positive—about how beautiful and charming she is. I didn’t want to hear it. The rumour ran that he was going to bring her to the Christmas party, so I didn’t go. When I was feeling particularly bitter, I went on Facebook to just hate-stare at their pictures and people’s congratulations.

And today was going to be different. Today I was not going to hate or feel bitter. I planned to sit in my flat and read or watch something. Play with my dog. Be normal. I was going to stop being a weirdo stalker-creep.

It’s not a flattering thing to find yourself doing, let me tell you. But I regret not going out after all. Or having someone over. I insisted I needed the weekend to myself, but while it sounded very reasonable when I was explaining it to my friends over the phone, in hindsight it turns out that just because you know how to be sarcastic better than your opponent, that doesn’t mean you’re actually right.

I had one mission for this weekend: that I would not go on Facebook.

I wouldn’t. I won’t.

All right, so I had a quick look at Facebook. I just needed to check that everybody was well. There was nothing on my news feed about that bloody wedding. Instead, I received an invitation. From Sarah. An invitation to a funeral, as a matter of fact. To be precise, an invitation to the funeral of Sarah’s cat. Her cat’s name being, by the by, Mr Bonkers. This is Sarah, and she’s awfully fond of me, so I had to accept. If ever the paranoid government of a dystopian future finds itself in need of proving my insanity so as to arrest me, they will probably use this diary as evidence.

 

Check out Lovesick today!

Lovesick by Marina Ford

Blurb:

Friday, 23 January
The cat funeral.
Yeah, that happened today. I went and participated in—aided and abetted?—a cat funeral.

London life is tough on idealists. In an ideal world, after years of flirtation, Leo would be cosily settled down with Jack, his long-time crush. In an ideal world, Jack wouldn’t now be engaged to a woman. And in an ideal world, Leo would move on.

When handsome new neighbour Alex moves in opposite Leo, an opportunity to do so presents itself. But Alex is probably straight, working class, and poorer than Leo. While Jack’s engagement unravels, and Leo’s friendship with Alex deepens, will Leo manage to find happiness with the right man? Or will he succumb to his enemies: self-doubt, family expectations, and pride?

Told in diary form, this is both the story of a love triangle in London and the chronicle of a man’s struggles to confront his self-image and overcome his insecurity.

 

Author Bio:

Marina Ford is a thirty-year-old book addict, who would, if permitted, spend all of her time in bookstores, libraries, or in her own bed with stacks and stacks of books. Luckily, she has a husband and a dog who force her to interact with humans of planet Earth from time to time. In fact, she so enjoyed falling in love with her husband that she can’t resist evoking those same feelings in the love stories she creates in her head. She does not believe in love at first sight— but she does believe in Happy Ever After, though it must be earned. She likes her stories to be light and frothy, since real life can be miserable enough without making up more of it in fiction. She lives in England, loves rain (gives one an excuse to stay at home and read books, right?), long walks (when it doesn’t rain), history, love stories, classical literature, pulpy literature, Jane Austen, languages, and dogs. It is her dream to one day possess an enormous country house in which each room is a library (okay, maybe except for the kitchen), and in which there are more dogs than people. A smaller and perhaps more realistic dream of hers is to make people smile with the things she writes.

 

Writing Beyond Borders w/ Bonnie Dee + Giveaway

January 19, 2017

 

Writing Beyond Borders with Bonnie Dee

 

I’m Bonnie Dee, author and sometimes co-author of numerous gay historical novels which you may see on my web site. The Mighty Have Fallen is my first foray into contemporary since my earliest attempt at writing gay romance titled Undeniable Magnetism. I decided it was time for a change of pace in order to keep my historical stories from becoming too familiar. Everybody needs a little shake up once in a while.

Imagine you were to lose not only one of your primary senses but your mode of earning a living, your savings, and your lover all at the same time. That is the fate suffered by Trevor Rowland, the protagonist of The Mighty Have Fallen. Acclaimed star of the London stage, Trevor is struck by a serious illness which leaves him inoperably blind. His boyfriend/ financial manager deserts him after bleeding him dry. Trevor is felled in every way possible and can hardly summon the will to drag himself out of despair and back into life.

Enter Jack Burrows, a hard working East Ender with whom Trevor shares lodgings after leaving a rehab facility. At first, Trevor is too self-pitying and angry to appreciate his friendly flat mate, but soon they forge an unexpected bond beyond anything Trevor expected to ever feel. Through Jack, Trevor finds a way to continue to use his acting talents in a manner he never would have dreamed of, performing a drag act in a nightclub.

I have been writing UK based books for quite some time although I live smack in the middle of the U.S. I jumped at the chance to be included in Dreamspinner’s new Perchance to Dream line, staffed by British editors. I learned from my editor, Sue Adams, not only figures of speech but habits of English folk that I never would have known. She helped me make Jack’s Cockney accent thick and authentic, which I hope readers will enjoy.

As anyone who has read many of my books knows, I really have a thing for cross class romance. While Jack and Trevor may not be separated by the enormous chasm dividing the protagonists in my current work in progress—a gay take on Pygmalion (aka My Fair Lady), their differing backgrounds still bring an interesting element to their love story.

As for featuring a blind protagonist, this isn’t my first venture into writing a disabled hero. I have a het contemporary featuring a blind hero and a het historical with a deaf hero. I’m interested in how the loss of one sense heightens the others. Which brings me to a question for this blog’s readers, if you had to do without one of your senses, which would you sacrifice? Please drop a comment here with your answer for a chance to win any one of my backlist titles. Two winners will be chosen from among the commenters.

You can learn more about me, Bonnie Dee, and my backlist of many romance books at http://bonniedee.com. Find me on FB at Bonnie Dee Author or Bonnie Dee. My Twitter handle is @Bonnie_Dee. I’m not the most active social media person but I turn up occasionally. Most importantly, please take a moment to sign up for my newsletter to learn of upcoming releases. Newsletter signup form

Thanks for stopping by the blog today. Hope you’ll leave a comment and then pick up your copy of The Mighty Have Fallen.

 

Check out The Mighty Have Fallen today!

 

The Mighty Have Fallen by Bonnie Dee

 

Blurb: 

Theatre headliner Trevor Rowland is at the peak of his career when disaster strikes. In one fell swoop, he loses his eyesight, his fame, and his boyfriend, who absconds with most of his money. Trevor must take on a flatmate, hardworking East Ender Jack Burrows, to afford the rent. Anger and bitterness have taken up residence in his heart—but Jack shines light into the shadowy corners with his relentlessly sunny disposition.

Jack introduces Trevor to a local drag club and convinces him he can enjoy the stage again. Trevor’s defences slowly come down as Jack becomes much more than a barely tolerated roommate.

But will Trevor’s fragile trust be destroyed when it appears he’s been manipulated yet again by a man he’s come to care for? Will he reclaim his life or crawl back into a shell of defeat? Trevor must learn to trust not only a man, but himself, once more.

 

About Bonnie Dee:

Bonnie Dee began telling stories as a child, the designated ghost-tale teller at sleepovers. She still has a story printed on yellow legal paper in second grade about a ghost, a witch, and a talking cat. Writing childish stories evolved into inventing fan fiction romances and later into writing for publication. Bonnie enjoys reading stories about people damaged by life who find healing with a like-minded soul. When she couldn’t find enough books to suit her taste, she began to write them. Along with frequent coauthor Summer Devon, she has written numerous historical novels, a couple of which have won Rainbow Awards for best gay historical.
Since giving up a day job, she has oodles of time to explore any plot idea that crosses her mind. Contemporary or historical, paranormal or mystery, the genre doesn’t matter so long as there is an abiding romance at its heart.

Website: bonniedee.com
Blog: www.bonniedee.com/blog
E-mail: bonniedeeauthor@gmail.com
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Surreal Experiences with Reece Pine

January 18, 2017

Surreal Experiences with Reece Pine

 

Hi! I’m Reece, writer of In Your Court, in which recent college grad Ray happily finds himself in Vietnam for a week to teach English and play basketball. The kicker is that he knows doing any sport intensively will definitely cost him his health for a long while after it, but he needs closure with the sport that it broke his heart to abandon a couple of years earlier. To achieve it, he keeps his deteriorating spinal condition secret from people he shouldn’t.

The tall, dark and chewy guy who just happens to be well-placed to kick Ray’s ass for making good on that astoundingly dumb idea is Singaporean-Australian Xin. Xin’s a proudly upfront guy who gets frustrated by people not seeing others’ points of views clearly, and who’s struck with a bit of “Well, hello” at first sighting Ray’s joyous antics on court.

He can only do so much as a translator to prise open communication channels for Ray, though, or guide him towards a better future path. That’s something Ray comes to find through travelling – that there’s more than basketball out there and in himself, but he has to work hard to keep moving forward. Luckily, his athletic past has already primed him to be able to go above and beyond when the going gets rough, and Xin’s no pushover either. I have a lot of respect for athletes’ conviction to excelling in their sport, and anyone dedicated to learning new languages. Neither are easy!

Ho Chi Minh is somewhere I was lucky enough to work for a while, and a city of amazing contrasts: the bustle disappears and the place almost becomes a ghost town during every afternoon’s siesta; historic temples stand shoulder to shoulder with modern skyscrapers; amid large social crowds, everyone somehow knows your business sometimes before you do, so that everyone may look after one another. If an occurrence in the story sounds especially made up, it’s more likely to have happened in real life – such as the cab driver Ray sees navigating through a traffic jam by tapping out Jingle Bells on his car horn.

The improbably dreamy piano bar Ray and Xin visit is also based on one I was taken to by a friend. Hidden places like that, such as rooftop cafes accessed through shops or pop-up cinemas, abound throughout the city, but they might only be temporary. Because property taxes back in the day were calculated according to the width of the building that fronted the street, many homes in the city are “tube houses” (long and narrow, like you see in Amsterdam or Paris) and it’s not unusual for owners to open up their front rooms at their leisure to become a store that’s here today and gone tomorrow. Gardens or atrium in the center of tube houses help them “breathe”, so you never know – you might stumble upon a garden restaurant in the middle of a house. Imagine going on a baking spree and opening up your living room as an impromptu café whenever you felt like it!

As in any metropolis, less quirky aspects of Ho Chi Minh’s past also inform what you see there today. Damage from the use of the chemical weapon Agent Orange during the Vietnam war persists in society, having caused and still causing birth defects among people, which is something that deserves to be seen in fiction and elsewhere so it’s never forgotten. The disabilities of the children Ray teaches while in Vietnam are very different than his own, but his opinion that physical disabilities should always be acknowledged and supported by society at large comes from a place of empathy, and is one (I think) which bears repeating.

Of course, Ray hypocritically draws a distinction between how society treats disability versus how he treats his own disability…. He knows there’s support out there for him if he asks for it, so his silence isn’t about avoiding feeling guilty for potentially burdening others. He simply wants to bargain with his own body, by cutting loose and then paying the price. And where better to cash-in your well-being than a beautiful, tropical city while surrounded by awesome people? (Er, that’s a trick question. Treasure your health and travel safe, everyone.)

The excerpt I’ve chosen to share sees Ray decked out in a new suit in order to tag along at a meeting Xin has with charity benefactors. Hiding his worsening pain isn’t so hard while he’s enthralled by the sight of Ho Chi Minh’s streets at sunset, and seeing dapper Xin suited up helps too.

 

Have you ever experienced something that was so charming and surreal it sounds made up? Let me know below!

 

Excerpt:

Continuing his explanation on the subtleties of Asian inner and outer relationship circles, he instantly loses me, because while I was feeling slick as hell in my new duds, all hell breaks loose behind my wide eyes the second they behold his bespoke Savile Row wet nightmare.

Fuuuuuuuck. That’s the only word for it, dragged out that long on my lolling tongue. As we walk to the hotel where the dinner is being held, the slurred syllable keeps pulsing through my head every time I catch a glimpse of him out of the corner of my eye, or head-on, or after zoning out while staring. Yeah, fuck indeed. I’m fucked. Figuratively only.

I’m glad that all Xin catches is me looking away.

“I’ll get to the bottom of you,” Xin interrupts my self-critical reverie.

“Uh, what?”

“How to pay you back properly for letting me hang out this week. I’ll fix you up.”

I’m unfixable. “Forget it. I don’t have any business.”

“You might after tonight. And everyone’s got business. Business is communication and everyone’s got value. Everyone deserves to be heard, so I matchmake the best people to let that happen.”

I’ve never heard the role of ‘middleman’ put like that. It’s not as cold as I imagined it would be… or Xin to be, now that he has that passionate flare lighting his amber eyes. “You really like your job, huh?”

“I love it.”

Good. Good for him. That’s how I feel—felt about basketball. My hands are sweating, and I take them out of my trouser pockets, flexing my fingers in the light breeze. The hand closest to Xin’s swinging hand stays uncomfortably hot.

Sunset drenches the city’s old French provincial facades in sticky tangerine light. Kids play street soccer and sometimes shuffle to give way for passing traffic, sometimes not. I’m learning that in concert with the unspoken bigger-has-right-of-way road rule, an overwhelming majority of weaker bodies can force a car to circumvent them, until they’re overpowered by a bus, which in turn halts for a truck. Traffic lights are suggestions. One cab we pass is honking its horn to the rhythm of Jingle Bells.

A  handful  of  people’s  elbows  get  knocked  by  people  on  slow-passing scooters, and when Xin drifts to walk on the outside of me, closer to the road, I move to his other side to be a barrier. I laugh when I realize he’s trying to do the same thing, the idiot, to guarantee my safety. All we’re doing is putting the pair of us nearer to harm’s way. I knock his shoulder with mine to lure him back in on the sidewalk. He takes the bait, knocking me, and we have this stupid giggling battle down the street, crumpling our suits in tandem.

Day three and I’m not just still mobile, I’m having fun. I hope reality will wait a bit longer to drop the hammer, but I can feel it lining up over my head, damn near blotting out the falling sun’s rosy glow.

 

Check out In Your Court today!

 

In Your Court by Reece Pine

 

Blurb:

With a shot at happiness in sight, it’s no time to drop the ball.

A back condition ruined Ray’s basketball ambitions, but he wants one last opportunity to play before hanging up his sneakers. While volunteering as a coach at a special needs school in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, he meets Singaporean Xin, who works matching wealthy corporations with compatible charities. Xin helps the American navigate the local customs in order to see the smile Xin fell for at first sight, but Ray makes sure no one sees how hard it is for him to keep upright, let alone keep enjoying Vietnam and playing the sport he loves.

When Ray’s back pain becomes too great to hide, Xin accommodates him in Ho Chi Minh and in Singapore—and in bed. Ray wants to imagine a future for them but fears he’s damaged goods, and Xin’s obligations in Asia aren’t easily forgotten. Ray won’t be another charity of Xin’s, especially when Xin also needs someone by his side. Their romance will be cut as short as Ray’s basketball dreams unless he can close the Pacific-sized distance between them.

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

 

Check out Reece Pine:

Personal website: http://www.reecepine.com
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/reecepine
Tumblr: http://www.reecepine.tumblr.com

By the Numbers: Firemen, Puppies, and Why We Love Them

January 16, 2017

 

Firemen, Puppies, and Why We Love Them with Chris Owen and Tory Temple

 

Good morning, readers! We’re Chris Owen and Tory Temple and we are so happy to announce the re-release of our cowritten novel, By the Numbers! This book was first published in 2011, but it’s back with a beautiful new cover and a clean edit. We are really grateful to Dreamspinner Press for all the hard work they’ve done to get this novel out there again!

Tory says: Chris and I have worked on a few other books together, but this is definitely one of our favorites. Both of us have multi-dog households, so drawing on experience was easy. I will admit to never having lived with a multitude of puppies. Deuce is a brave man.

As this book developed, Chris and I realized that it was more of a happy, feel-good story, rather than one that had pages and pages of conflict and heavy emotional situations. For a while we pondered how to get more “oomph” in there in terms of angst. When Trey and Deuce refused to cooperate with us, however, we decided to just let it flow. Both men are calm and easygoing, so why not just create a story that was natural to both of their personalities? I would definitely characterize this book as light and fluffy and fun. (Not to say that they don’t argue, because they do. Sparingly.) It really left me with the warm fuzzies after we finished it. Here’s hoping you feel the same!Tory’s right — this is nice, cozy read, just the thing to enjoy on a cold winter evening, or while on vacation somewhere warm. Once in a while I really enjoy sinking my writing fingers into something that’s a happy love story. This didn’t start as one of those times, however; we did actually try for conflict in several ways. The gentlemen were having nothing to do with any kind of drama, though, so sweet story it is. Writers really can’t argue with the way the story wants to be. For a pair of nice guys they sure were demanding.

Trey is a hero, in many ways. He’s a firefighter, a single dad, and he’s brave enough to take on a puppy. Deuce might be almost as brave, as Tory said. He chooses to deal with puppies and Trey’s seven year old at the same time, after all. It takes all kinds of people to be heroes — we all need different things in life. Trey and Deuce need each other, it turns out, and they work through any struggles in order to be together, to be each other’s hero. Clearly, heroes can come in many forms. Have you ever seen an unlikely hero? Someone doing an unexpected thing that made them a hero in your eyes? Let us know, and you could win a copy of the ebook.

 

I hope you read the story and Trey and Deuce as the heroes they are. I hope you find your hero.

 

Check out By the Numbers today!

 

By the Numbers by Chris Owen & Tory Temple

Blurb:

When Nathaniel, aka Deuce, arrives home to an apartment building on fire, he can only think of one thing: his pregnant dog. Luckily firefighter Trey Donovan rescues her, and Nathaniel is exceedingly grateful. In fact, he tracks down Trey’s station so he can show his gratitude properly—and explore the connection he senses between them. Trey’s interested, but a less-than-friendly ex-wife and the seven-year-old daughter he’s raising make things… complicated. Between everything on Trey’s plate and the newborn puppies Deuce must care for—while homeless—finding common ground won’t be easy. But the spark of attraction between them is too enticing to be allowed to fizzle.

First Edition published by Torquere Press, 2011.

 

About the Authors:

Chris Owen lives and writes in eastern Canada. She went to a bunch of schools, learned a lot of things, and now makes stuff up because not to do so is unthinkable. She’s fond of fountain pens, notebooks and day planners, and Steampunk fashions. Lately she’s been watching a lot of documentaries. Chris has a fondness for wool and for summer ales. The two work well together.
Chris is inspired by the day to day minutia of life and finds beauty in the way words go together. She likes texture and richness of experience. She is not shy. Her favorite vegetable is cauliflower. You can reach her at www.chrisowen.net and on Twitter at @chris_owen

Tory Temple lives and works in southern California where she happens to spend a lot of time around firefighters. It makes for excellent storytelling, so Tory definitely uses that to her advantage! She is guardian to three pit bulls who only attack with kisses, two snobby cats, as well as other assorted friends from the animal kingdom. (Husband included.) Her fondest wish is to be a stay-at-home dog mom. You can tempt her with promises of cheese and/or Mexican food. On Saturday nights, she is usually watching Netflix and thinking about how to get the newest firemen in her head to hook up. Tory loves reader e-mails and looks forward to hearing from anyone who wants to drop her a line.

Website: www.torytemple.com
Blog: torytemple.com/blog
Facebook: www.facebook.com/torytemple
Twitter: @ToryTemple
E-mail: ragingpixie@gmail.com

By Degrees Series Sneak Peak w/ Taylor V. Donovan + Giveaway

January 13, 2017

Sneak Peak with Taylor V. Donovan

 

Hello everyone. My name’s Taylor V. Donovan and I’m an author of gay romance and suspense. I’m here to celebrate the release of Six Degrees of Lust, Second Edition, and what better way to do so than with an excerpt from Six Degrees of Agony, the third instalment in my By Degrees series?

For those of you who haven’t heard about it before, By Degrees is a romantic suspense serial featuring a killer of gay men and the FBI team trying to catch him. It has an ensemble cast, multiple points of view, continuing story lines, and Special Agent Logan Brandenburg, FBI profiler extraordinaire and a favourite among readers.

His story has taken longer than I had originally planned. For that I apologize, and if you want to know the reasons for the delay, head over to my blog. I’ve explained what went down in several posts. He’s coming though. Finally! I’m diligently working on him, so, without further ado, here’s a little taste from his book. <3

 

Six Degrees of Agony
Excerpt

He’d looked everywhere. The backyard, the tree house and even the greenhouse, but he couldn’t find her. He had to find her. He had to explain to her that his moving out of the house didn’t mean he would abandon her.

He checked the basement and the kitchen, and then ran to the library in the second floor after checking the bathrooms.

He didn’t see her.

Logan raked his fingers through his hair and ran to her bedroom. It was empty.

Where the hell was she? Why wasn’t Megan waiting for him by the koi pond, just like he’d asked her to? She should’ve been sitting on her favorite bench by the pond. They should’ve been discussing his plan to find a job.

Megan thought he was running away—just like their older brother had ran away, but Logan was only going to college so that he could protect her. It was the only way of escaping. He’d attend classes and work any jobs he could find, and once he’d saved enough money he’d get a place he could afford and move out of the dorms. Then he’d come get Megan and take her away from this hell, and they would never have to see their father again.

Logan checked his own room and his brother’s old room. He checked the laundry room, the pantry, the dining room, the attic… he searched everywhere, and still wasn’t able to find her.

He ran up and down the stairs twice, looking inside every room and closet, yet always avoiding his father’s office. He went back outside, running as fast as he could. He was desperate. He couldn’t leave the house if he didn’t talk to Megan.

It wasn’t until he’d looked in the basement for the third time that he realized Megan had been sitting in the middle of a fire pit all along. There shouldn’t be a fire pit in the basement, and Megan’s entire body shouldn’t have been engulfed in flames.

Logan ran toward the fire pit at the same time Megan leaned forward and smiled at him peacefully. She blew him a kiss, and mouthed that she loved him. He tried to tell her to stop scaring him. To order her to get up and run to safety, but by the time he was able to pass the words through his constricted throat Megan’s features were melting.

Oh my God…

“Don’t touch it!” Logan’s voice was hoarse; almost hysterical. “Jesus, Meg, please. Don’t touch the flames.”

Logan’s hand only caught air when he reached for Megan in an attempt to stop her. Had she moved? Had she gone somewhere? Logan couldn’t see her.

He squinted and looked around frantically, then pushed the covers to the side and sat up so that he could take a better look.  He leaned so far off the side of the chair, he lost his balance.

“Damn it.”

Logan rolled on his back, lifted his left leg almost to his face and held his knee with both hands. He closed his eyes and breathed through the sharp pain reverberating from his knee to his lower back. It was excruciating, but he was slowly gathering his bearings.

The base of an adjustable bed came into focus, followed by white sheets, and IV pole, and a blond-haired head.

No basement and no fire pit.

He was in Sasha’s hospital room.

Careful not to wake Sasha, he got up from the floor and walked around the bed. He kept his mind blank as he used the bathroom and washed his hands. Yawning and rubbing his eyes with the heel of his hand, he went back to the room. Once he’d made sure Sasha was sound asleep, he lay down on the chair and covered himself with the blanket Margaret had brought him.

He didn’t try to make sense out of the dream he’d just had. He knew what it meant and he knew why he’d had it. He couldn’t let himself think about it. His very sanity depended on it.

***

Enjoyed the excerpt? Curious for more? Then grab your copies of By Degrees. As I mentioned before, Six Degrees of Lust, Second Edition, released January 2. ☺ And for those of you who read the first version, I’d still recommend you get this one as well, as some characters were fleshed out and, even though the story arc remains basically the same, there are tweaks foreshadowing events in Six Degrees of Separation, which in turn leads to events in Six Degrees of Agony.

 

Taylor
xoxo

P.S. I’ve brought some copies to give away. Leave a comment and you’ll be entered for a chance to win a set of electronic copies Six Degrees of Lust and Six Degrees of Separation, Second Edition.

 

Check out Six Degrees of Lust today!

 

Six Degrees of Lust by Taylor V. Donovan

 

Blurb:

New York City FBI team leader Samuel Shaughnessy lives for his immediate family and his job. After a marriage gone wrong he has stuck to a firm rule when it comes to relationships: he doesn’t have them. Sexually active and emotionally unavailable keeps him satisfied, especially now that he is in hot pursuit of a serial killer targeting gay men.

Former firefighter Machlan O’Bannon now manages a successful sports bar in Houston and after years of waiting he’s ready to stand up and be the man he always wanted to be: out, proud and drama-free. His politically-aligned family wants to keep him locked in the closet, but Mac just wants to meet the man of his dreams.

One man is as high strung as the other is laid back. A chance meeting brings the two men together, and one night of passion ignites a fire neither can fight. Their lives are not only miles apart, but as different as day and night. They don’t want to get involved, but they might not be able to keep apart.

First Edition published by MLR Press, December 2011.  

 

TVD Logo

About the Author:

Taylor V. Donovan is a compulsive reader and author of gay romance and suspense. She is optimistically cynical about humanity and a lover of history, museums, and all things 80s. She shamelessly indulges in mind-numbing reality television, is crazy about fashion, and passionate about civil rights and equality for all.

When she’s not writing or making a living in the busiest city in the world, Taylor can be found raising her two daughters and their terribly misbehaved furry baby in their home.

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