Births and Dedications w/ j. leigh bailey + Giveaway

February 12, 2018

births & dedications

 

Thank you for joining me to celebrate the release of CHASING THUNDERBIRD (Dreamspun Beyond #13), the second book in my Shifter U series.

The release of CHASING THUNDERBIRD is a bit of a bittersweet moment for me. I’d dedicated it to my aunts (both of whom had the unforgivable habit of calling me Fer-Fer!). One of them, my aunt Sharron, lost a battle with cancer before I had the chance to show her the dedication.  She loved words in all their forms—she was a poet, an actress, a story teller, a voracious reader—and I think she’d have been tickled to see the shout-out in one of my books. While going through her things, I came across a letter my grandmother wrote to my grandfather (who was stationed in Europe during World War II) telling him of the birth of their first child, my aunt Sharron.

 

dedication

In CHASING THUNDERBIRD, much of Simon’s family history (and his relationship with his grandfather who was battling cancer) drives his determination to prove to the world that thunderbirds exists. So when I came across a document from my own family history, it was too perfect not to share. And, it feels like a fitting tribute to Sharron, who’s birth stopped a war (so to speak…).

So here’s the letter. I’ve typed exactly how it was written, spelling and punctuation and all. And, head’s up, there’s some pretty frank descriptions of a birth 1940s-style…

 

Wednesday afternoon
August 15, 1945

My dearest darling Eddie (daddy)

 Yep! Honey it’s all over with except the shouting and I aint talking about the war! I hope you have my cable by now. Sharron Kay arrived about ten minutes after six last night. Darling I wish you could see her! She is a perfect little doll. Lots of black hair and eyes that are so dark blue that they look black. She is, I’m sure, the most wonderful little girl ever to be born.

Yesterday morning I got up feeling fine except every time I moved I almost left a puddle of water behind. Pa brought me down. Got here at 12:30 and I still felt fine except I was still flooding. The nurse brought me in and undressed me, then took me to the bathroom for an enema. About two o’clock I started having pains five minutes apart but they were easy. About three thirty they came every two or three minutes and got harder and harder. Was in a bit of misery from about four until five minutes till six when they had me on the push cart and took me to the delivery room. Things really began to happen fast and furious then and about the third hard pain I had out popped the baby. It was fine from there on out and I’ve never had a single hurt. President Truman was just starting his VJ speech when Sherry made her debut with a loud bawl and by the time she quit crying, the Pres. was thru talking. Sure starting the life out as an important one isn’t she? Guess she is too!

She sure is grand. I sorta hoped for your sake that it would be a boy but we can have him when you come back. She is so bright eyed and lively. After they bathed her when she was born they brought her in and I darn near blew a fuse with pride. She is so sweet. Then this morning at six they brought her in to nurse. When she snuggled her little pug nose up against me I felt like I was the only woman in the world. And how she did suck. She is a regular glutton although there is nothing much but watery milk in my breasts yet. I hope I can continue to nurse her.

I’m so glad the war is finally over. Now maybe you can come home to us before too long. We sure hope so.

We love you very much Eddie and hope you are half as tickled as we are. I really feel wonderful. Loads of love and hugs and kisses. Toots + Sherry

 

Anyway, I love that my aunt was born literally as the US’s involvement in World War II was ending, and I love that I got her same fascination and appreciation for words and stories of all kinds.

 

**GIVEAWAY** I’ll be giving away an access code for the audio version of Stalking Buffalo Bill to a random commenter who shares with me: Do you have any fun family stories that carried down through generations? Superstitions?

 

EXCERPT

Back at home, I’d barely hung my coat up when my phone quacked at me. I smiled at the familiar ringtone. Years ago, I’d set my phone to quack like a duck whenever my grandfather called. My mother cringed at the noise. I didn’t know if she objected to the not-very-refined sound or if she resented the relationship I had with my grandfather. I’d been named after him, but they were a little disturbed by how closely I followed in his footsteps. I knew absolutely that she blamed him for my interest in cryptids, especially thunderbirds.

I wondered if somehow Grandpa knew I needed someone to talk to. It wouldn’t be the first time a phone call came at exactly the right time. Hitting the Accept icon, I lifted the phone to my ear. “Hey, Gramps. What’s up?”

“Hey, kiddo. How’s Wyoming treating you?”

My breath caught a bit. Every time I spoke with him, it seemed his voice grew shakier and weaker. It was a constant reminder, a subtle countdown to the day he’d no longer be a part of my life. I made sure my own tone was light, free from worry, when I answered. “Oh, you know. The semester just started, so things are a little unsettled. I’m getting there.” For a second I considered telling him about my evening. He’d always given me good advice, or just let me vent if that’s what I needed. And he always knew which I was looking for without me having to clarify. But he didn’t need any additional stress in his life. I pulled my phone away for a second to check the time. It was after ten here, which meant it was almost midnight in Illinois. “A little late for you, isn’t it?”

Grandpa snorted. It was weaker, rougher than it used to be, but I took comfort in the sound. “I’m retired, boy. I set my own hours.”

I bit back a laugh. He might set his own hours, but Loretta, the nurse at the assisted-living facility Grandpa stayed at, would take away his phone if she knew he was up so late. The thought sent guilt eating at my guts. I hadn’t called in a few weeks—too busy with the new house, new school, new job. I shouldn’t have let it go so long. Grandpa had stage four lung cancer, and his condition was worsening almost daily. Weeks-long gaps in phone calls were inexcusable.

“So, what’s up? You know I’m happy to talk with you, but it is a little late for you to call.”

He harrumphed, and nostalgia and grief nearly overwhelmed me. I was going to miss that about him. “I got a strange phone call.”

“A phone call? From whom?”

“Called himself Richard Smith. Said he was a researcher. Claimed to be interested in the family legends.”

Doubt twisted in my gut. “The family legends?”

Another wet cough and a wheezing breath. I knew the muffled sound I caught next was him spitting into a tissue. Lung cancer sucked.

“In fact,” Grandpa said after clearing his throat, “seems he ran into an artifact from 1897 that he thought I’d be interested in.”

I stilled. It couldn’t be. “You don’t actually think….” I couldn’t bring myself to voice the question. What were the chances after all this time?

Back in the late 1890s, an ancestor of mine had shot a huge bird out of the sky. Its feathers were pitch-black, so dark that light didn’t reflect off them but was instead absorbed into the filaments. He claimed its wingspan was nearly twenty feet—larger than any living bird on record, then or now. It had a hodgepodge of features that, in combination, didn’t fit any other known bird species. According to his journal entry—and a very badly executed drawing—the animal had a relatively narrow sternum with unusually strong flight muscles, a broad wingspan with primary feathers that tilted up like an Andean condor. Instead of the condor’s nearly featherless neck and head, this bird’s head more closely resembled the shorter-necked, sleek-feathered, and hook-beaked golden eagle. Unlike either the condor or the eagle, it also had a pair of long paddle-shaped feathers that stretched out nearly a yard behind the broader, denser tail feathers.

So my relative did what anyone would do with such a creature. He dragged the local newspaperman—the only person in a fifty-mile radius who had a camera—to take a picture of the fantastical bird. The Arizona newspaper even ran the article. But not too long after, all copies of the newspaper and the photographic image plate had disappeared.

 

Check out Chasing Thunderbird today!

 

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BLURB

A Shifter U Tale

A legendary love.

Ornithology professor Simon Coleman’s reputation is at risk, and the only way to save his name is to prove thunderbirds are more than creatures of Native American myth. Grad student and part-time barista Ford Whitney has a lot on his plate, but it’s also his duty to make sure the resident bird nerd doesn’t discover shape-shifters—like himself—live on campus.

When a series of incidents related to Simon’s search put him in harm’s way, Ford’s instincts kick in, and they become closer than is strictly proper for student and teacher. Ford is forced to reveal his secrets to Simon, and their relationship is put to the test—Simon must choose between salvaging his reputation and protecting the man who protected him….

 

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Author Bio

j. leigh bailey is an office drone by day and the author of Young Adult and New Adult LGBT Romance by night. She can usually be found with her nose in a book or pressed up against her computer monitor. A book-a-day reading habit sometimes gets in the way of… well, everything…but some habits aren’t worth breaking. She’s been reading romance novels since she was ten years old. The last twenty years or so have not changed her voracious appetite for stories of romance, relationships and achieving that vitally important Happy Ever After. She’s a firm believer that everyone, no matter their gender, age, sexual orientation or paranormal affiliation deserves a happy ending. For upcoming releases and appearances information, sign up for her newsletter athttps://t.co/FfL9gFVJLQ.

Social Media Links

Twitter @JenniWrites 
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Instagram @j.leigh.bailey_author
Website

Maple Dreams by Emjay Haze – Recipes + Giveaway

January 31, 2018

maple dreams

 

Hi everyone. Thank you DreamSpinner Press for hosting the next stop on my blog tour. My new release, Home is Where You Are is set in rural Vermont at a maple orchard and sugar house.

I love pure Vermont Maple syrup. But, it’s not just for pancakes. There is Maple Sugar, Maple Cream, and my favorite Maple leaf candy.  And, maple syrup is a great substitute for white sugar. You use less and it has a lot of nutrients and anti-oxidants.

I thought it would be fun to share a few maple syrup recipes, including the drink Darla makes for Eric, Vermont Harvest Moon and a surprise at the end.

 

Maple Cream

There’s only 1 ingredient for this tasty treat that’s sweet like maple syrup, but has the consistency of peanut butter so you can spread it on toast or pancakes.

Ingredients
Pure Vermont Maple Syrup

Basically, you want to boil the syrup (don’t stir) until it reaches 235 degrees, or according to Spruce.com, 24 degrees over the boiling temperature of water. Add a little butter or oil to keep the foaming down

Once it’s done, you want to cool the pan, using an ice bath and then pour into glass containers.

All directions are here at Spruce.com. They also have a great recipe for Maple Leaf Candy, Courtesy of Spruce.com.

 

Traditional Vermont Maple Pie

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups pure Vermont Maple Syrup
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter
1 – 9 in unbaked pie shell

Visit VermontMaple.org for the entire recipe, courtesy of Vermont Public television.

 

Eric’s Vermont Harvest Moon

When I first searched for a cocktail made using maple syrup, I found several different versions, but I can’t find the one I based the one in the book on any longer, so I improvised.

Ingredients
3 parts Hard Apple Cider
1 parts Cranberry Juice (Not cocktail)
1 (or 2) shots vodka
Teaspoon maple syrup
Slice of Orange

Pour hard apple cider in a glass
Then add the cranberry juice
Pour shot of vodka into the glass
Add the maple syrup
Stir
Top with slice of orange

 

Vermont Maple Cookies

Ingredients
1/2 cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup of dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon of maple syrup (Grade B preferably)
2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
3/4 cup of chopped walnuts

For complete directions, visit SimplyRecipes.com, courtesy of Simply Recipes.

 

And last but not least, the ultimate comfort food. This is my recipe. My family loves it!

Mrs. B’s homemade Chicken Pot-Pie

Ingredients
3 cups chicken broth (made ahead of time)
½ cup white wine
1 bay leaf
1 tsp thyme
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup cubed potatoes
1 cup peas
½ cup diced celery
½ cup diced onions
½ cup chopped mushrooms
2 cups cooked chicken small pieces ( I bake chicken tenders at 350 for 30 minutes and then shred)
1/4 cup flour (I use glutenfree)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp pure Vermont maple syrup

Directions

If cooking chicken, make it first and then cut up
On medium-high, heat to boiling chicken broth, bay leaf and thyme,
Add carrots and potatoes and cook till tender, about 10 minutes
Remove bay leaf
Add wine
Mix flour and cream and whisk together
Slowly stir in flour/cream mixture until it thickens
Add celery, onion, and mushroom
Remove from heat
Fold in peas, chicken and maple syrup
Pour mixture into 4 individual oven safe bowls or one pie pan
Cover each with pie crust (I use gluten-free)
Melt 1 tsp butter and 1/4 tsp maple syrup
Brush butter mixture over each pie crust
Crinkle the edges, and fork the middle three times
Bake at 350 for 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown

Giveaway:

I have a rafflecopter giveaway of 3 e-copies of Home is Where you Are, and a Grand prize of the e-book and a gift pack of Vermont maple syrup and maple candy.

 

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Check out Home Is Where You Are today!

 

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Blurb:

For a chance at a future filled with love, he’ll have to face a painful past.

Eric, recently dumped by his boyfriend, is summoned home after his dad suffers a stroke. His family farm in rural Vermont holds memories he’d rather forget, but he—with his degree in agricultural business—is needed to clear up a predicament with the bank. In trying to forget the bad, Eric has also lost sight of the good: green meadows dotted with grass-fed dairy cows and the sugar maples that once produced the area’s finest maple syrup. With Eric’s help, they will again.

A captivating farmhand named Phil tempts Eric to give the countryside another chance, but before they can consider being together, Eric must move past more than his feelings for his ex-boyfriend—he’ll need to stand up to the ghosts that sent him running from the farm in the first place….

 

Emjay Haze profile pic

Author Bio:

Emjay Haze is a Pennsylvania girl living in a Virginia world, growing up in the Philadelphia suburbs and moving to Northern Virginia to follow her now husband of twenty-plus years. She has two kids in college, a year-old puppy named Max, a black-and-white cat named Tux, a gecko named Rex, a yellow tang called Reggie, and we hear the eels are coming this week.

The family pastime is baseball, specifically the Nationals. She’s also a huge Redskins fans and loves classic rock. Emjay graduated with a degree in Creative Writing in 2015 after realizing it was the only thing she really wanted to do.

She has a wide and diverse work history in the fields of travel, hotel management, high-tech communications, web development, real estate, and the nonprofit health care industry where she has held positions such as travel agent, hotel concierge, web programmer, Realtor, account manager, and many, many others, giving her a varied and unique set of experiences that she draws upon in her stories and characters.

Emjay fell in love with the m/m romance genre after discovering the world of fanfiction several years ago and hasn’t looked back. Her family keeps asking when she’ll write something they can read, but she’s still having too much fun with her boys. Her goal is to broaden the minds of those who might not normally pick up a gay romance because it’s more about the person than the sexuality. She’ll take you on a roller-coaster journey, but you’ll always get a happy ending.

Website: www.mjhauthor.com/emjayhaze
Twitter: @emjayhaze
Facebook: www.facebook.com/emjayhaze
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14254769.Emjay_Haze

 

Creative Collaboration w/ Jeff & Will + Giveaway

January 23, 2018

creative collaboration

 

Thank you for joining us here on Dreamspinner’s blog as the tour for The Hockey Player’s Heart continues. This book marks our first collaboration on a novel as co-authors. Will has worked with Jeff as a beta reader, editor and sounding board for several years. The Hockey Player’s Heart, however, is the first time we’ve written a book from start to finish together.

This feel-good, second chance romance, part of Dreamspinner’s Dreamspun Desires line, was a great chance for us to  work together. The line, which focuses on the swoon-worthy tropes of classic category romance, quickly became where we turned our focus as a project that we could create together.

Creative collaboration can be a tricky thing, but we’ve found our groove. It started with coming up with a trilogy of stories in a connected universe followed by developing characters along with deciding on tropes and basic plot. We needed enough to pitch Lynn West on our idea. Thankfully we got the nod to go ahead and write.

We enjoyed digging in and creating Caleb and Aaron’s story for The Hockey Player’s Heart – what made Caleb and Aaron tick and the details of their second chance. Putting a pro hockey player and a grade school teacher together proved challenging occasionally, but we’re happy with the results and hope you will be too.

As this book comes out, we’re refining our process so that it’s smoother as we work on the story in the series. And even beyond this trilogy, we’re looking at more category romances to write because we enjoy working in this particular sub genre.

Make sure you also check out the link to the Rafflecopter because we’re giving away an e-book copy at each tour stop plus there’s a grand prize of an autographed paperback for a US winner or a $10 Amazon e-gift card for an international winner. Make sure to check out all the stops to maximize your chance to win.

We hope you enjoy The Hockey Player’s Heart and would love to hear what you think. If you read it, please consider leaving a review on your favorite site or dropping us a comment on one of our websites.

Check out The Hockey Player’s Heart today!

 

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Blurb:

Hometown hero. Hockey superstar. Perfect boyfriend?

When hockey star Caleb Carter returns to his hometown to recover from an injury, the only thing he’s interested in is a little R & R. He never expects to run into his onetime crush at a grade school fund-raiser . Seeing Aaron Price hits him hard, like being checked into the boards. The attraction is still there, even after all these years, and Caleb decides to make a play for the schoolteacher. You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take, right?

Aaron has been burned by love before and can’t imagine what a celebrity like Caleb could possibly see in a guy like him. Their differences are just too great. But as Aaron spends more time with Caleb, he begins to wonder if he might have what it takes to win the hockey player’s heart.

 

 

Jeff&Will

Bio:

Jeff Adams and Will Knauss are husbands, authors, and podcasters based in Northern California. They write gay romances, sometimes together and other times separately. Jeff also writes young adult LGBT fiction. Together they host Jeff & Will’s Big Gay Fiction Podcast, a weekly show devoted to gay romance literature and the pop culture they love.

Websites:

Jeff: JeffAdamsWrites.com
Will: WillKnauss.com
Podcast: BigGayFictionPodcast.com

 

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Scene Commentary w/ Anne Barwell + Giveaway

January 10, 2018

Scene Commentary

 

Thanks for hosting me today as part of my blog tour for Prelude to Love, a Dreamspun Desire novel from Dreamspinner Press.

I have a Rafflecopter running as part of the tour so be sure to enter.

Finding blog post topics when writing heaps of posts for a blog tour can be a challenge. A friend suggested I flip through the book, see where it opens, choose a paragraph or two from that page, and blog about it.  I did that years ago with a story, and wrote it like a DVD commentary so here goes.

Unfortunately due to my days off since the beginning of the year being stat holidays my hardcopies of the book are still sitting at the Post Office ready to pick up—I hope!—so I opened my galley and chose my excerpt using a random number generator instead.  I’m not including an excerpt with this post as you’re getting an exclusive one as part of the commentary.

“Joel’s very good, isn’t he?” Mavis asked, yet it sounded more like a statement than a question. “I often hear him playing when I’m in my garden, although I haven’t for a few months. I had hoped I’d missed it because I’d been out rather than he’d given up. Talent like that should be nurtured, don’t you think?”

Mavis is Joel’s neighbour.  She reminds Joel of his gran, always knowing what’s going on, but would be the first to offer help if it was needed.  I included her in the story as I wanted to show a bit more of Joel’s world apart from his immediate friends, family, and work mates.  And it’s always nice to know neighbours are looking out for you.

“Yes. He is very good.” Marcus glanced at his watch. He’d been gardening for an hour, his thoughts distracting him for a good amount of that time. Good thing he did a lot of this kind of work on autopilot. Nevertheless he double-checked to make sure he hadn’t targeted anything that wasn’t a weed. He stood back to take a better look and smiled, satisfied with a job well done.

While Joel plays piano to relax and work through whatever is getting to him, Marcus gardens.  I liked the way they’re different, but in some ways the same in that.

“You’ve been working hard.” Mavis nodded approvingly. “If I get to the point where I can’t do my own gardening, I’ll keep you in mind.”

This is a reminder that although Marcus enjoys being outside and what he does for a living, it is still his job.  The fact that he does gardening for Joel because he wants to says a lot about how he feels about him.  Usually people don’t want to continue their job at a weekend, but do something else.

“Thanks.” Marcus didn’t want to get into a discussion about how what he’d done that afternoon was something he’d wanted to do for himself—and for Joel. “I should probably head inside. It’s been nice talking with you again.”

“Thanks. I’d hoped to catch you at some point so I could thank you for your work in person.” Mavis handed him a small basket. “I’ve made some muffins and thought you and Joel might enjoy some.”

This also shows the tone of the neighbourhood, that people are looking out for each other. It’s one of the reasons I like living where I do—we’re still part of a city, but it’s not a huge one so still very personable.  Also, as a side note, I usually make a batch of muffins each week which is why there are muffins in her basket.  Although it’s not specified, they’re blackcurrant/blackberry as that’s what I was making when I wrote that scene, and I have bushes/vines in my garden which keep me well supplied each year. It’s also another case of whatever I’m baking making its way into the story.  Or vice versa. I made several batches of scones a few years ago while writing Cat’s Quill.

“Thank you, that’s very kind of you.” Marcus was surprised by her generosity.

Mavis smiled. “It’s the neighborly thing to do. I’ve kept an eye on Joel for some time now, as he does work so very hard.” She lowered her voice. “It’s lovely seeing the two of you together and knowing he’s got someone like you looking out for him when he gets caught up in things and works too hard. Sometimes you have to help people who don’t help themselves, you know?”

Mavis is very observant, and knows Joel a lot better than he realises.  But it’s not just Joel who needs Marcus as Marcus needs Joel to remind him when he’s withdrawing and not talking about stuff he should be.

Marcus wasn’t sure how to reply to that. Joel hadn’t been kidding when he’d said that Mavis knew everything that went on in their neighborhood. “Thanks,” he said again. “When is the best time to return the basket?”

“Oh, just leave it on my front doorstep. Goodness me, it is late. I’d better go fix dinner. Bye, Marcus.”

Marcus doesn’t know the half of it. Mavis wasn’t in my original outline. She turned up when I was writing  with the comment that those boys need someone to look out for them, and then was in more than just this one scene. I’m reminded of the saying that it takes a village to raise a child. Apparently it needs pretty much that to get these two together too!

 

Check out Prelude to Love today!

 

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Blurb:

Music speaks directly to the heart.

Two very different men face turning points in their lives after the collapse of long-term relationships….

Joel is a music teacher who knows it’s time to forget his ex and move on, while Marcus runs a lawn-mowing business and has come to Wellington to escape the reminders of a recent breakup. Although they’re opposites, when Joel and Marcus connect, their romance has the potential to hit all the right notes.

Too bad neither of them feels ready for new love.

With family and friends in common, dating is risky—things could get messy if it doesn’t work out. The sweet song of possibility draws them to each other, though, and they share a kiss following a Chopin prelude.  But it will take some practice and perseverance to find their perfect harmony….

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

You can find the list of sites taking part in the blog tour here:

https://annebarwell.wordpress.com/2018/01/01/blog-tour-prelude-to-love/

 

Bio:

Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand.  She shares her home with two cats who are convinced that the house is run to suit them; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date it appears as though the cats may be winning.

In 2008 she completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra.

She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth. She also hosts other authors, reviews for the GLBTQ Historical Site “Our Story” and Top2Bottom Reviews, and writes monthly blog posts for Love Bytes.

Anne’s books have received honorable mentions five times, reached the finals four times—one of which was for best gay book—and been a runner up in the Rainbow Awards.  She has also been nominated twice in the Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice Awards—once for Best Fantasy and once for Best Historical.

Website & Blog: http://annebarwell.wordpress.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/anne.barwell.1
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/sylvrebarwellhoffmann/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/115084832208481414034/posts
Instagram: https://instagram.com/anne.barwell
Twitter: https://twitter.com/annebarwell
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4862410.Anne_Barwell
Queeromance Ink Author Page: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/anne-barwell/
New Zealand Rainbow Romance Writers: https://www.facebook.com/groups/491382394538058/
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Celebrating Chanukah w/ Avery Duran + Giveaway

December 12, 2017

Celebrating Chanukah

 

Thank you so much to Dreamspinner Press for hosting me today to talk about my novella, Ahava is Love. Ahava is Love came out this summer, but the majority of the book takes place during Chanukah, and the themes of the holiday – faith, miracles, and resilience – run through the story.

I thought it would be fun to celebrate with a Chanukah blog party. Since no celebration is complete without food, conversation, and gifts, I’ll spend the rest of the holiday visiting different blogs to share recipes, stories, excerpts, and a great giveaway. Tonight is the first night of Chanukah, and I hope you’ll join me for the rest of the holiday!

In the fall of 2000, I lived and worked in Brooklyn, NY. I loved my job and was enjoying the city life, yet I felt like something was missing.  I just couldn’t put my finger on what it was. In a real life plot twist, I was speaking to a friend about my need to shake up my life, on the same day she had just spoken to someone who mentioned they were interviewing for American group leaders for a 10-day trip to Israel. She suggested I apply; I took her advice, and I got the job.

On December 25th, 2000 (my 31st birthday), not knowing any of my fellow voyagers, I boarded a plane to Israel. I spent the next 10 days traveling with a group of young adults. Being in a land with such history, making new friends with diverse backgrounds, seeing members of my family who had settled there, celebrating Chanukah while in Israel, all added up to one life changing experience. For me, it was not about romance, I did not find love or a happily ever after with someone else—but I did find myself, and I came home much more comfortable in my own skin.

When I was thinking of writing for the World of Love line, I was intrigued by the concept of taking my own adventure to the next level. What would happen if one of the group leaders fell in love with another? Layering romance (and sexytimes) on top of such a meaningful experience would be so powerful. Same sex leaders share a room, so if there is a mutual attraction, resistance can be futile – and frustrating!

I loved writing this book, using my journals, pictures, imagination, and a whole lot of research to create Josh and Yaron’s world. Josh is frustrated with where his life is going and hopes a change of scenery will help him find his way. To that end, he accepts a position as a group leader for a tour of Israel. He meets Yaron, the Israeli security guard for the group, who lost his boyfriend in a terrorist attack a few years earlier. Yaron now lives his life without strings, looking for the next good time. Their chemistry is off the charts, but they are in different places – both emotionally and physically. Making a relationship work between them would really take a miracle.

Thanks for taking the time to get to know a little about me and my writing process. I will be sharing more over the coming days, so please join me when I visit the below blogs. They have been kind enough to host me to celebrate Chanukah with Ahava is Love!

Ahava is LoveAhava is the Hebrew word for love, I think you’ll enjoy falling in love with Josh, Yaron – and Israel!

Check out Ahava is Love today!

 

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Blurb:

Brooklyn Realtor Josh Perlman desperately wants to settle down. Unfortunately he can’t find a man who wants the same. Tired of disastrous dates, he travels to explore his heritage.

Yaron is an Israeli security guard and medic charged with looking after Josh and his pilgrimage group. For Yaron, the need to protect has become more a duty than an honor since he lost his long-term boyfriend to a terrorist attack—a loss that continues to haunt him.

As they embark on their journey through the Holy Land, it’s hard to deny the attraction that sparks between Josh and Yaron. Yet with America calling Josh home, and Israel, and the death of his lover holding Yaron prisoner, it seems only a miracle can keep them together.

But Israel is an ancient land, one that has seen miracles before. Surrounded by structures that have been destroyed and rebuilt time after time, Josh and Yaron might just learn that their futures can be found in the wisdom of the past.

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

 

AveryPortrait

About the Author:

Parent Association President by day, Romance Author by night, Avery Duran enjoys the best of all worlds. She’s a minivan-driving, cupcake-baking, soccer mom, who works outside the home while raising three rambunctious boys. Easily distracted by shiny things, Avery found making up stories in her head was an effective way to fool people into thinking she was paying attention. Eventually she decided to write down one of those stories, and her alter-ego was born.

She’s always been a voracious reader, Avery’s mother still brings up the time her school called because she refused to stop reading during math class. Avery is pleased to confirm that she has managed just fine without whatever important math lesson was being taught that day.

A native New Yorker, she often incorporates her favorite city into what she writes. During the day, while driving, watching endless YouTube videos, or animated shows with her offspring, she plots her stories. At night, when her husband and children go to sleep, Avery sits in a quiet house and puts those words on paper. She loves spending her down time creating a world filled with people loving and laughing their way to happily-ever-after.

She’d really love to hear from you!

Author Social Media Links

Website & Blog:  http://www.averyduran.com/ Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Avery-Duran/e/B018RE20I0 Facebook https://www.facebook.com/the.avery.duran Twitter:  https://twitter.com/TheAveryDuran Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/averyduran18/ Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/averyduran0234/ Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14742913.Avery_Duran BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/avery-duran

 

Giveaway

Win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

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PLUS, enter to win a $5 Dreamspinner Gift Card. Simply tell us what one of your favorite adventures has been in the comments and you’ll be entered!

 

Other Tour Hosts

Dec 13: V’s Reads
Dec 14: Pointedly Blunt Reviews
Dec 15: Samantha Macleod
Dec 16: Ebs and Her Reads
Dec 17: Pick a Genre Already

What’s in a Name? By Kelly Jensen + Giveaway

November 22, 2017

What's in a Name

 

Sometimes I have a name without a story, and sometimes I have a story without a name. Counting Fence Posts remained unnamed until my second revision round when Henry’s habit of counting things popped out of the first paragraph. I loved the idea of naming the book after one of Henry’s quirks, and as I developed this story into a series, the theme of counting naturally followed.

Counting Down had a name before I sat down to write. With the story occurring on New Year’s Eve, this title came easily. I also enjoyed working the counting motif into the story from Marc’s point of view. Henry is the one who counts things, but Marc ends up imagining a ghostly clock counting down the hours to midnight—until he gets distracted by laundry sex.

Counting on You, the third and final novella in this series, was originally going to be called “Counting Out.” I planned the story as Marc’s coming out and had in mind a line where either Marc or Henry said something like, “Don’t count me out.” I often carry around snippets of dialogue I’d like to use in a story. Fun fact: I rarely use them in my final drafts. While I do use an outline, my stories are quite organic and often grow away from what I planned.

It wasn’t until I got near the end of this last novella that the title happened. It came out of another line of dialogue that was in the same conversation I had planned. Marc tells Henry, “I was counting on you…” and there it was, my title. I really love this one because it not only wraps the series, but perfectly encapsulates the emotional arc of this particular novella. This one is the big test and the answer to the question of whether these two have what it takes to not only have a real relationship, but one that works.

So what about my characters’ names? I often put a lot of thought into these, including researching the meaning and etymology to make sure what I’ve picked really fits. As with my titles, I often have a name before I have a story. Sometimes I have a story with no names. Just guy one and guy two. In Out in the Blue, my first novella with Dreamspinner Press, Jared and Fin wore each other’s names all through the first draft. They never quite fit, though, and when it came time to start revising, I switched the names and everything fell into place.

Henry is one of my favourite names. (It’s not weird to have favourites!) I have a list of these and I’m a bit funny about using them because once they’re out there, in the world, they’re done. I can only write one Henry and this is him. This particular usage pleases me very much because Henry is such a personal character. This story started with him and his quirks!

Marc named himself. I have this happen quite often as well—especially when I’m writing from a single point of view and haven’t really given a lot of consideration to the other main character. I know from experience that they’ll let me know who they are as the story progresses and it’s not unusual for me to flesh out their character history after I’m done with my first draft.

HENRY MARC

I don’t generally base characters on people I know. Marc’s last name is similar to that of a friend I had in college, however, and I chose it because I greatly admired this friend. He had the same drive I’ve written into Marc. In his sophomore year, he broke his neck in a diving accident and lost the use of his right hand. As a graphic artist, this could have meant the end of his studies and career—but it wasn’t. My friend learned to draw with his other hand and to this day is successful at what he does. Marc is my tribute to him.

If you’ve been following along with Henry and Marc’s journey, I hope you enjoy this last novella and their happy ever after. (It’s not a spoiler to tell you that’s how it ends. I’m a romance writer, after all.) If you’ve yet to start, this is a great time to do so as the first two novellas are currently discounted at all retailers, including the Dreamspinner Press store!

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), and complete the Rafflecopter to enter! There are two prizes, both available internationally. One winner will receive $15 (US or equivalent) to spend at the Dreamspinner Press store. A second winner will receive the entire Counting series in ebook format, gifted through the Dreamspinner Press store.

Q: Do you have a favourite name? (If so, please share!)

 

Check out Counting on You today!

 

CountingOnYou_postcard_front_DSP

 

Blurb:

Henry and Marc can’t seem to catch a break. They’ve had two disastrous dates—the first trapped in a car during a blizzard and the second locked in a basement—followed by nearly two months apart. Even though they work for the same firm, their relationship is held together by flying visits, phone calls, and text messages. A joint assignment in Washington D.C. might be more togetherness than they can handle, however.

Henry is still battling insecurity, and this assignment is too important to his career to mess up. Marc is committed. He’s falling for Henry and looks forward to having him permanently on his team and at his side. But the real test isn’t the assignment. When Marc finally lays his heart on the line, can he count on Henry to be there for him, in every way that matters? And can he do the same for Henry when Henry needs it the most?

Amazon | Amazon UK | B&N | Kobo | iBooks | Dreamspinner Press

 

Author Bio:

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

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

Connect with Kelly: Twitter | Facebook | Website

 

Follow the Tour!

11/22 Dreamspinner Press Blog
11/27 We Three Queens
11/28 Love Bytes
11/28 TTC Books and More
11/29 The Novel Approach
11/29 Boy Meets Boy Reviews
11/29 Scattered Thoughts
11/30 Joyfully Jay
11/30 Bayou Book Junkie
12/1 Diverse Reader

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Felicitas Ivey’s Book Collection + Giveaway

November 21, 2017

Book Collection

 

I love physical books. The smell, the weight, the feel of them. New or old books. I’ve had a lot of fun wandering through used bookstores over the years. I’ve found some amazing books that way, books that have been long out of print or on odd topics like the evolution of the British Country house. I don’t hit the newer bookstores because most of my pleasure reading is in ebook form currently. I wander through a new bookstore once in a while, but there isn’t one I can get to easily. And they don’t have the variety a used bookstore has. Book buying is a lot more fun to me than clothes shopping. It also doesn’t help I have a friend who works at a publishing house and occasionally brings home books from work which end up at my house also.

My house became overrun with books, since the house was a lending library for my circle of friends. This was before the ebook revolution, when dead tree books were passed to other people when you were done reading it, so the other person could also enjoy said book. And then there were intense discussions about plot, characterization and other things over dinners or other gatherings. Also a book could be used to prop up your laptop when it overheated and read in the bathtub with very little worry.

My second husband, Mark, used to read real fast and devoured books. Mark lived in a small apartment with his family, so there wasn’t a lot of room for books. And the books usually ended up in my house, because my first husband and I would read them last, after everyone else did, and then they would never leave. And it’s not a very big house either.

Because of the sheer volume of books involved, plus all the books I’ve bought on my own over the decades, there are books all over my house. There isn’t a room in my house that doesn’t have some sort of book collection in it.

I have a couple of bookcases in my bedroom, filled with mostly non-fiction books, mostly military histories (I’m addicted to Osprey Press books!), fashion books and occult books. Plus a small part of my Lovecraft collection. Not only his work, but all the additions and variations of it, like Sherlock Holmes Lovecraft or 50s Pulp Horror Lovecraft.

I’ve wedged in a small bookcase for my cookbooks in the kitchen corridor. I have a lot of baking books, specialty cookbooks like spicy or ethnic cooking or how to eat like an Ancient Egyptian or Roman, as well as cookbooks from the fifties and sixties. I don’t cook a lot of different things, I just seem to collect cookbooks. Also cooking for one is difficult, but none of my books seem to think anyone lives alone. I always end up with leftovers. That isn’t too bad of a thing, because I bring them to lunch at work. But I do get tired of eating the same thing for several days in row.

My study, which used to be the spare bedroom, has more books: languages, Japanese literature and histories, my malexmale romances and the odd book. Since I work at a university, I was able to take courses over the years, all which added to the book collection. I’ve mostly taken language, literature and art history courses through work. That and I was a history major in college, so I have a lot of books from that too.

The library proper has all the paperback and hardcover fiction, some more histories and the gaming book collection. I’d been a gamer for a couple of decades and have books for several systems, like RollMaster, Paranoia and Steve Jackson’s GURPS. Some of those books are really useful for novel ideas. I don’t game anymore because it’s hard to find the time or a good group. Writing takes up a lot of my time.

The TV room’s mostly the out-of-control DVD/Blu Ray collection, since I don’t have cable or internet in my house, so if I want to watch something that isn’t on television, I have to pop in a disk. I also like having a physical copy of what I want to watch, since you never know when it’s going to disappear. You also can find things you wouldn’t if you’re streaming it. I’m very fond of my Cantonese/English laserdisc of ‘Aristocats’. You haven’t lived until you hear “Ev’rybody Wants To Be A Cat” sung in Cantonese with a French accent.

Some of my library is also in the TV, mainly my hoard of knitting books, along with some stray hardcover novels. I have a lot of knitting books, because I nab the ones I like when I can, because they go out of print too fast.

In the living room are all the books that didn’t fit anyplace else are going to line the wall. I have about 20 boxes of books in storage, a legacy of my second husband, Mark, which I’m slowly transferring to my house from storage. There are about fifteen boxes of books I still have to deal with.

I have had several decades of collecting by now, so the hoard is a little out of hand. But I never seem to get the time or have the interest to cull through the collection to get it down to a manageable size.  I know there’s probably a lot of doubles to deal with. There’s always so much else to do so I haven’t been able to cull the collection. What has helped is an app on my iPhone, Libib which is helping me catalog the books and DVDs in my house, by just scanning the ISBN. It’s a timesaver and can be exported to a spreadsheet if you want to.

So books are your friends, even if they attempt to crowd you out of your house!

Giveaway:

I’m doing a raffle for my new book.  A winner will be chosen on November 28, 2017. The winner will be chosen at random from all those who enter.

The winner gets the following: A paperback of my new book “The Secret of the Sheikh’s Betrothed”, a paperback of my first novel, “Dreamlands”, a tote bag with “The Secret of the Sheikh’s Betrothed” cover art. A second tote randomly chosen from my stash of tote bags with another one of my book’s cover art on it. Both are good for groceries, books or anything else you need a bag for.  And three hand knit dish towels. Can double as hot plates also.

 

Check out The Secret of the Sheikh’s Betrothed today!

 

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Blurb:

Billionaire Fathi al-Murzim is a workaholic businessman, too busy running the family’s companies to even think about marriage. Too bad he never told his grandfather he’s gay, because Grandfather just announced a childhood betrothal—to a Bedouin girl Fathi never heard about before…

Ikraam din Abdel was raised as a woman by his avaricious and abusive older sister, who didn’t want him to be their father’s heir. He’d never thought to be married either, and is surprised when his sister informs him of his betrothal.

When Fathi and Ikraam meet, they are drawn to each other in a manner neither of them expected. As the plans for their wedding progress, they both realize they need to tell the other the truth. But can they, with both cultural taboos and family pressures to deal with.

 

Author Bio:

Felicitas is a frazzled help-desk tech at a university in Boston who wishes people wouldn’t argue with her when she’s troubleshooting what’s wrong with their computer. She lives with three cats who wish she would pay more attention to them, and not sit at a computer pounding on the keyboard. They get back at her by hogging most of the bed at night and demanding her attention during the rare times she watches TV or movies. She’s protected by her guardian stuffed Minotaur, Angenor, who was given to her by her husband, Mark. Angenor travels everywhere with her, because Felicitas’s family doesn’t think she should travel by her lonesome. They worry she gets distracted and lost too easily. Felicitas doesn’t think of it a getting lost, more like having an adventure with a frustrated GPS.

Felicitas knits and hoards yarn, firmly believing the one with the most yarn wins. She also is sitting on hordes of books, which still threaten to take over her house, even with e-books. Between writing and knitting, she brews beer, wine, mead, and flavored liqueurs. Felicitas also bakes, making cakes whenever she needs to work out an issue in her novels. Sometimes this leads to a lot of cakes. Her coworkers appreciate them though, with the student workers buzzing about on a sugar high most of the time.

Felicitas writes urban fantasy, steampunk, and horror of a Lovecraftian nature, with monsters beyond space and time that think that humans are the tastiest things in the multiverse. Occasionally there’s a romance or two involved in her writing, with a happily-ever-after.

Website: www.Felicitasivey.com
Facebook: felicitasivey
Twitter: @felicitasivey
Email: felicitas.ivey@gmail.com

 

 

Sweet Tooth by Kim Fielding + Giveaway

November 20, 2017

sweet tooth

 

I admit to quite a few vices. Some of them harm my bank account and lead to storage issues, like my book and footwear addictions. Others have the potential to impact my health—such as my terrible sweet tooth. I blame my forebears for that one. My ancestors came from Central and Eastern Europe, and I’ve learned during my travels in those places that a predilection for sweets is common. In most cities you can hardly go a block without encountering tempting bakeries or deliciously scented chocolate shops. And don’t even get me started on the gelato and ice cream….

Given my own vice, perhaps it’s no surprise that Peter, one of the main characters in Ante Up, has a taste for sweets. In fact, sugary stuff comprises most of his diet. (You’ll have to read the book to learn why!) It’s a bit of a contrast to the other protagonist’s meals: Ante is a vampire, so while Peter’s gobbling pie and candy, Ante is satisfied with some nice A-Pos. Especially if the blood in question is Peter’s. (Don’t worry—Ante is careful when he snacks on Peter.)

In Peter’s honor, I thought I’d share a somewhat unusual recipe for something sweet. This was my grandmother’s recipe—I have no idea if she invented it or got it from somewhere—and it’s one of my favorite comfort foods.

 

Rose’s Rice Pudding

1 cup raw rice
3 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup sugar
1 Tbsp butter
1 tsp almond extract
7/8 cup orange juice
1 cup raisins

Cook rice. To warm rice, add butter, eggs, vanilla, almond extract, OJ, sugar, and raisins. Mix. Spread in greased 9×13 baking pan. Bake at 325F for 40 minutes. Cut into squares. Can be eaten warm or cold.

What sweet do you have a weakness for? Comment with your favorites, and don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter below.

 

Check out Ante Up today!

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Blurb:

Love is a high-stakes game.

A century and a half ago, Ante Novak died on a Croatian battlefield—and rose three days later as a vampire. Now he haunts Las Vegas, stealing blood and money from drunken gamblers and staying on the fringe of the powerful vampire organization known as the Shadows. His existence feels empty and meaningless until he meets beautiful Peter Gehrardi, who can influence others with his thoughts.

An attraction flares instantly, bringing a semblance of life to Ante’s dead heart. But the Shadows want Peter too, and they’re willing to kill to get him. As Ante and Peter flee, they learn more about themselves and each other, and they discover that the world is a stranger place than either of them imagined. With enemies at their heels and old mistakes coming back to exact a price, how can Ante and Peter find sanctuary?

 

Author Bio:

Kim Fielding is the bestselling author of numerous m/m romance novels, novellas, and short stories. Like Kim herself, her work is eclectic, spanning genres such as contemporary, fantasy, paranormal, and historical. Her stories are set in alternate worlds, in 15th century Bosnia, in modern-day Oregon. Her heroes are hipster architect werewolves, housekeepers, maimed giants, and conflicted graduate students. They’re usually flawed, they often encounter terrible obstacles, but they always find love.

After having migrated back and forth across the western two-thirds of the United States, Kim calls the boring part of California home. She lives there with her husband, her two daughters, and her day job as a university professor, but escapes as often as possible via car, train, plane, or boat. This may explain why her characters often seem to be in transit as well. She dreams of traveling and writing full-time.

Follow Kim:

Website: http://www.kfieldingwrites.com/
Facebook: http://facebook.com/KFieldingWrites
Twitter: @KFieldingWrites
Email: Kim@KFieldingWrites.com
Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bau3S9
A complete list of Kim’s books: http://www.kfieldingwrites.com/kim-fieldings-books/

 

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Donovan and Ethan by Anne Barwell + Giveaway

November 14, 2017

Donovan & ethan

 

Thanks for hosting me today as part of my blog tour for One Word, the 3rd book in my Hidden Places series from Dreamspinner Press.  I have a Rafflecopter running as part of the tour so be sure to enter.

Although One Word is the third book in my Hidden Places series, it takes place during the last six weeks of the events in book one—Cat’s Quill.  One of the fun parts about that was writing a new relationship for a couple who were already together in a story that had been published a few years earlier.  Instead of describing what that was like as a writer, I figured it might be more interesting to invite Ethan and Donovan to talk about the experience from their perspective.

Silence.

The author clears her throat.  “Umm, guys, that means you.”

There is a muffled noise of clothing being rearranged, and a discreet cough, and then a room lined with books comes into view.  In one corner sits a rocking chair. The cat on it opens a lazy eye, glances at the two men, and then starts washing her paw.

“Bloody hell,” mutters a male voice with a distinct British accent. “What is it with the cats in this place?”

The camera pans the room before settling on two men sitting next to each other on a nearby sofa.  “Technical difficulties,” one of them says in an American accent. “Right, Ethan?”

Ethan rolls his eyes, and slips his hand into Donovan’s. “Yeah, that.”

“So…. ?“ the author prompts. She picks up the cat, settles her on her lap and then takes a sip of kawakawa tea.  “Floor is all yours. Pretend I’m not here.”

“I wish.”  Ethan sounds as though he would have said more, but Donovan squeezes his hand and whispers something into his ear.  Ethan clears his throat. “It’s wasn’t easy,” he finally admits.  “We’ve been together two years now, and although it brought up memories of when we first met, we’ve come a long way since then.”

“And been through a lot together,” Donovan smiles softly.  “I’ll always remember that first time I saw Ethan at the train station.  I thought he was hot then felt guilty as I didn’t think I should be hitting on someone who was worried about a missing friend.”

“I’ve always been rubbish at making friends, and I was still trying to put a… relationship behind me,” Ethan adds. “We took so many steps forward and then back during those few weeks. I was such an idiot.”

“If you were an idiot, then so was I.” Donovan bits his lip. “When I think about how close we came to—”

“Spoilers,” mutters the author, looking up from her tea.

“Says the person who wrote a story with a prologue set six months after the epilogue of the last book.” Ethan doesn’t sound impressed. “So yeah, if you want the truth, it was bloody difficult.  You put Donovan through all that crap again, and made him relive those nightmares. And not only that, you put me in a position when I couldn’t help him like I usually do. So don’t—”

“Ethan…” Donovan leans over and kisses Ethan gently on the cheek. “Sorry, we know how difficult it is to write something like this, and we appreciate the fact that you took the time to write our story. Don’t we, Ethan?”

“Yes.” Ethan pauses for a moment. “I must admit, I enjoyed reliving our first kiss. I’m looking forward to the rest of our future together too.” He glances at the author suspiciously.

She studies her tea. “A future together?  Hey, I’m a romance writer. Of course you’ll get a future together.”

Donovan glances at Ethan. “She’ll make us work for it though. But, whatever happens, we’ll get through it together. Right, Teach?”

“Right.”  Ethan looks over at the author, but she’s gone.  “I love you,” he murmurs to Donovan, pulling him close for a kiss.

“Love you too.”  Their lips meet and the screen fades to black.

 

Check out One Word today!

 

OneWord_postcard_front_DSP

 

Blurb:

A Hidden Places Story

Ethan Leavitt arrives in the idyllic village of Oakwood to search for a missing friend. Having always prided himself on his ability to find rational explanations, Ethan’s trust in concrete evidence and logic is tested by the mystery of Oakwood and Tomas’s disappearance.

Donovan Campbell’s happy, sometimes flippant, exterior hides a past he’d rather forget. As he struggles with his memories and to hold on to the inn he owns with his best friend, the last thing Donovan needs is for some guy he’s only just met to start getting under his skin. When a bank robbery escalates into a dangerous situation, Donovan must embrace a part of himself he can no longer ignore in order to save a future that might never have the chance to exist.

Ethan learns that often the person you’re looking for is not the one you find. But have he and Donovan both realized that too late…?

 

 

Excerpt:

“I’m so sorry, Jane,” Ethan said, “and I apologize for my insensitivity earlier. It was completely out of line.”

She managed a shaky smile. “Thank you for being understanding. Good afternoon, gentlemen. I guess it’s a good thing that I have the day off, isn’t it?”

“I’m sorry for kicking you,” Donovan said after she’d left.

“I can be an insensitive jerk at times. Lord knows, I’ve been told that often enough.”

“Not always. You’ve got a kind side to you too.”

Ethan’s concern for Jane had been real enough, as was his mortification that he’d been rude once he’d seen that she was upset.

“You say that like it’s a good thing.” Ethan retrieved his napkin from the side of his plate and wiped his mouth. “Sometimes it’s not, you know. People take advantage. Not that I’m saying she is, but….” He sighed. “Just forget it, okay.”

“Okay.” Donovan wondered who had hurt Ethan and recently. He’d seen enough to connect the dots. “Lots of assholes in this world, unfortunately.”

“And some decent people too. Oakwood’s been good for reminding me of that.”

“Are you sure you’re okay to come to London with me tomorrow?” Donovan couldn’t help but think that something in their conversation had triggered Ethan’s reaction. He’d said Mitchell and Vincent were good friends. Perhaps it was this acquaintance he’d mentioned? The one who had introduced him to them.

“I’m looking forward to it.” Ethan glanced at Donovan’s empty plate. “Have you had enough lunch?”

“Yes, thanks. I was hungrier than I realized.” Donovan finished the last of his beer.

“I went to see the owner of the Chronicle the other day, but he was too busy to talk and suggested we meet briefly today instead. I’m hoping, as he’s been working at the newspaper a while, he can tell me some old stories about Oakwood that didn’t end up in print. You’re welcome to come if you’d like.”

“Thanks for the offer, but I need to do some work at the inn this afternoon. We had to replace some weatherboards a few months ago, and I need to get them painted before winter.” Donovan wished he could have said yes, but Heidi was stressing about it. If he didn’t get onto it soon, she’d be out there doing it herself, and she did enough already. Part of their agreement in taking on the inn was that they split the workload between them, and Donovan made sure he pulled his weight. “You’re okay to find your own way back?”

“Yes, I’ll be fine. Thanks for asking.” Ethan pushed back his chair and walked over to the counter to pay for their meal. “I’ll see you later, at the inn.”

“Okay. Sounds good.” Donovan didn’t follow him immediately but instead stayed at the table watching Ethan at the counter. His hair curled up slightly at the back, his jacket falling to mid-ass, not quite covering it. He had a very nice ass.

Bet he kisses well too.

Oh fuck. Donovan closed his eyes for a moment. Where the hell had that thought come from? He was falling for the guy, wasn’t he—falling for a guy who wasn’t interested and would be walking out of his life in a couple of days.

Donovan heard footsteps walking away. He opened his eyes just in time to see Ethan disappear out the door. It was time to leave and bury himself in the work he needed to get done. He stood and headed for the door, giving Eoin and his friends a wave as he passed their table.

He hadn’t missed the money the three men had given Craig or the grins they all wore.

Donovan groaned. Great, that was all he needed. The pub door slammed as he stalked through it. Yep, they were running another betting pool all right.

It wasn’t his fault they were wasting their time. They’d find that out soon enough for themselves.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

You can find the list of sites taking part in the blog tour here:

https://annebarwell.wordpress.com/blog-hops/

November 3 – Open Skye Book Reviews
November 6 – Book Reviews and More by Kathy
November 6 – Top to Bottom Reviews
November 6 – Two Men Are Better Than One
November 6 – Gay Book Promotions
November 7 – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
November 8 – Happily Ever After Chapter
November 9 – Love Bytes Reviews
November 10 – Boy Meets Boy Reviews
November 10 – Nic Starr
November 13 – The Novel Approach Reviews
November 14 – Dreamspinner Press Blog
November 15 – Aisling Mancy

 

Bio:

Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand.  She shares her home with two cats who are convinced that the house is run to suit them; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date it appears as though the cats may be winning.

In 2008 she completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra.

She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth. She also hosts other authors, reviews for the GLBTQ Historical Site “Our Story” and Top2Bottom Reviews, and writes monthly blog posts for Authors Speak and Love Bytes.

Anne’s books have received honorable mentions four times and reached the finals three times in the Rainbow Awards.  She has also been nominated twice in the Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice Awards—once for Best Fantasy and once for Best Historical.

Website & Blog: http://annebarwell.wordpress.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/anne.barwell.1
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/sylvrebarwellhoffmann/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/115084832208481414034/posts
Instagram: https://instagram.com/anne.barwell
Twitter: https://twitter.com/annebarwell
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4862410.Anne_Barwell
Dreamspinner Press Author Page: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/authors/anne-barwell-65
DSP Publications Author Page: https://www.dsppublications.com/authors/anne-barwell-49
Queeromance Ink Author Page: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/anne-barwell/
New Zealand Rainbow Romance Writers: https://www.facebook.com/groups/491382394538058/

 

The Cover Artist Made Me Write This Scene by Z. Allora

November 2, 2017

The Cover Artist Made Me Write This Scene

 

 

Greetings! I want to thank Dreamspinner Press for not only publishing The Librarian’s Rake but for allowing me to share this excerpt, and do a giveaway on their blog.                    

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

 

Truth be told I was rather a mess while picking The Librarian’s Rake’s cover. This is my first nondrawn book cover which makes sense because this is my first true (non-yaoified) contemporary romance. Combine that with the fact I have this obsessive need to capture a scene from my book on the cover and you can imagine how pleased the art department is with me… (No, thankfully they were VERY patient!).

I had originally hoped to capture Tristan (the librarian) and Phillip (the rake) pre-library sex. Like maybe Tristan pressed against one of the library bookshelves looking flustered and hot with Phillip ready to debauch him like a duke with the virgin governess of a bodice ripper. But none of the photo covers fit that imagine. Though they offered to rework it for me but I had already gotten attached to the current cover.

It captured the very moment Phillip realized maybe there was more to happy endings than just swallowing. It was at that second he let in the possibility of happily ever after. I knew the pivotal scene happened but I started the scene directly after the realization so the words were not on the page.

Soooooo, I added the moments the cover captured. The night before was BJ 101 and Phillip was still telling himself it was just sex… and then he peers over…

 

Here’s the excerpt for The Librarian’s Rake:

 

An adorable snore signaled that the intense snuggling had sent Tristan back to dreamland. When he rolled over in his sleep, Phillip followed and cuddled up to his back feeling… complete.

He lay there for a long time, listening to Tristan breathe. If Phillip were the romantic sort, he might even believe their hearts had synchronized. Instead he focused on trying to tame Tristan’s wild hair. Blowjob class did no one’s hairstyle any favors.

As Phillip finger-combed the sun-kissed strands, Tristan started making the cutest little sighs. The contented purrs continued, smashing through the crumbling walls around Phillip’s heart.

What was happening?

Phillip didn’t want to let go… even as part of him struggled with the need to escape what his heart craved. Maybe he could—

No! He needed to exit.

Pausing, he leaned over his sleeping beauty and pressed a kiss on Tristan’s cheek. Wait, his sleeping beauty?

Granted, he’d put that satisfied smile on Tristan’s face. But the pleased gratification was simply the result of a cock well sucked not of a relationship. Last night was simply a sexual tutorial. It was just sex.

Tristan wasn’t his.

Though why did everything about this amazing man make Phillip wish he could—

Time for a shower!

           He bypassed Tristan’s bathroom and opted for the guest bath—afterall he was just a visitor. He used the facilities, brushed his teeth, and took a quick shower.

It was ridiculous how a night of good orgasms could make him want…. Ha! What, Tristan sucked his cock and all of a sudden Phillip was looking to settle down? Did coming that hard make him lose track of reality and melt his common sense? Whatever! He needed to get a grip.

He tried to ignore it was the time he had been spending with Tris that made his feelings of lust and friendship morph into—

Shit! How did this happen? He needed to get the hell out of here.

Fuck! Where were his clothes? He not only wanted the barrier clothing would give him, but needed it.

Everything seemed too much.

He wrapped a towel around his waist, braced himself, and opened the door. Damn! His clothing from last night had been washed and folded and set outside the door, along with a plain blue T-shirt, giving him the choice so he didn’t have to wear a T-shirt proclaiming, “Save A Lollipop, Suck A Cock.”

Pulling on his underwear, he chuckled at what Tristan must have thought while washing his unmentionables. They were little more than a black pouch to hide his cock, with bands of rainbow elastic highlighting the availability of his ass.

Phillip wiggled into his jeans and did some knee bends to loosen them. He grabbed the two T-shirts and stared at them.

It was just a fucking T-shirt. However, one yelled fun and flirty, and the other said… I have a boyfriend.

“God, Tris! What the hell are you doing to me?”

How could this be happening? T-shirts didn’t talk! It was a goddamn shirt. He tugged his own on and stared in the mirror. Without product in his hair, he looked a bit of a mess. After a search under the sink, he found a sad can of generic mousse and did what he could.

He washed his hands and headed for the door. Catching his image in the mirror on the back of the door, he stopped. “Shit!” He ripped off his T-shirt and pulled on the other, resettled his hair, and ignored any implications the change in T-shirt meant. Folding his shirt neatly, he told himself he wanted to save it for the next time he went out.

 

Check out The Librarian’s Rake today!

 

LibrariansRake[The]_postcard_front_DSP

 

Blurb:

Opposites might attract, but is acting on that attraction wise?

Librarian Tristan Cooper can’t steer clear of sexy, motorcycle-riding bad boy Phillip—the man is hot—but Phillip is bound to and quiet, bookish Tristan boring, like all Tristan’s boyfriends. Tristan yearns to explore his wild side, the part of himself he’s only allowed into his fantasies, and maybe rakish Phillip is just what he needs to feel free.

Sexperienced hairdresser Phillip is more of a believer in happy endings than happily ever afters. Experience has taught him not to hope for more— until he meets sweet, vulnerable Tristan, who seems genuinely interested in his heart. But Phillip can’t trust enough to see himself as a man Tristan might want for more than a night.

With the help of a pair of matchmaking grandfathers, Tristan and Phillip might and the courage to step beyond their comfort zones and discover what has been missing from their lives….

 

To enter the giveaway by telling us who you are more like the librarian or the rake. Winners will be contacted Nov 8th.

 

Bio:

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

To contact Z. Allora:

E-mail: Z.AlloraHappyEndings@gmail.com
FACEBOOK:   Z Allora Allora
Website: www.zallorabooks.com
Twitter: @ZAllora
Blog: http://zallora.blogspot.com
Queer Romance Ink: www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/z-allora
Dreamspinner: www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/z-allora-637-a