Working It Out Release Party—On Inspiration

July 19, 2014

I’m back!

So, those first lines. Where did they come from?

Working It Out is a novella about finding out how you know you’re in love. After six months living with his boyfriend, Joe, and around a year before that of more-or-less casually hooking up with him, Cas just isn’t sure. Joe’s sure, and that’s part of Cas’s problem.

This story began with the question Cas raises. What is love, and how do you know you’re in love? It’s something I’ve always wondered and struggled with. You see, I’ve never been in love. Or, at least, I don’t think I have. In my younger years I did have a couple of relationships. I even lived with someone for five years. But….
 
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You see, I don’t really get love, friendship and all that jazz. It’s a complete mystery to me. I don’t think about people if they’re not in the immediate vicinity. Out of sight truly is out of mind. I don’t miss people; I don’t worry about them. Maybe that’s why I’m writing romance, the ultimate relationship story. I’m trying to understand the same thing Cas is. How you link to people, how that feels.

It’s a problem when you’re largely—well, I’m not sure if the word is antisocial or asocial. I can interact with people, on the surface at least. I work in offices and everyone says I’m nice, I’m a central part of the team. In one instance I worked in a team that was so dysfunctional they called in an independent arbitration service to try to get to the bottom of the problem and fix it. Apparently I was the one person everyone liked and the one who held the team together. While that’s nice to know, I guess, when I left that place a couple of years later I never thought about them again.

I’m not a keeping in touch sort of person, it doesn’t occur to me to share my thoughts and reactions with people. So love is an exotic and incomprehensible thing that I just don’t understand. Over the years I’ve asked myself that opening question many times and never got an answer. This time, I wrote it down and it became a story. I don’t think I’m any closer to the answer, although I’m getting pretty good at the theory. I suspect the people who say “you just know” are right. I’m not going to stop asking, though. And I’m not going to stop writing love stories.

Don’t forget, if you would like a chance to try my story out for free, comment on any of my posts here today. My question for this hour is have you ever been in love? And how did you know? (Of course, you can always ask your own questions if you’d prefer.)
 

Blurb

Celebrating six months with his boyfriend has Cas in a bit of a panic. Joe’s been saying “I love you” for a while, but Cas just can’t get the words past his lips. A week before Christmas, he finally says them when a nearly fatal accident almost takes Joe, and Cas faces the possibility of losing the best man he’s ever known. But whispered declarations are one thing. Through a long, tough recovery both men must work out that love is more than words.

You can buy the book by going to my page in the Dreamspinner store. And you can see what else I have to say on my blog and in tweets.

Cover of Working It Out by Kristen Slater

Working It Out Release Party—A Taster and a Giveaway

July 19, 2014

Hello, Kristen Slater here again. I thought I’d give you a flavour of my novella, Working It Out, this time. But first, a chance to win something. At the end of the party I’m going to give away a copy of my story to one of the people who comment on my posts here today. It’ll be totally random—I’ll put names in a hat and draw one out—so talk to me and you never know, it could be you.

To start us off, tell me about your first kiss. Was it romantic? Yucky? Perfect? Awkward? Or you can just comment randomly, if that’s what you’d prefer.

So, I promised a taster, and I’ve chosen the opening of the story.

If this whets your appetite, you can buy the whole story from the Dreamspinner store.

You can see what I’m thinking about on my blog and on twitter.
 
Part of cover of Working It Out by Kristen Slater
 

CAS——November

 
What is love, anyway? I mean, you tell me how you know you’re in love.

Joe’s been saying I love you for months. I get the feeling he’s expecting me to say it back. But. I dunno. It just doesn’t feel right, you know? Aren’t you supposed to just know? And I don’t. Maybe I love him. I know I like having him around. Those days when he’s late home and there’s no one in the house when I get back, it feels kind of… empty. But that’s habit, isn’t it? Because most times he’s already there when I walk through the door. So it’s bound to feel odd when he isn’t. Isn’t it?

I remember the day he asked me to move in with him. We’d been seeing each other casually for over a year, meeting up and going to his place or mine for some mutual fun. I’m still not sure how it developed into spending most of our spare time together, but we became really good friends at some point. Then there was the day we went back to his flat in the middle of the afternoon, unable to wait to get our hands on each other’s bare flesh. Afterwards, the late afternoon sun bathing us with warmth, he propped himself up on one elbow and looked down at me with an uncharacteristically serious expression.

“Cas? I like being with you. I like it a lot.” Joe’s hand idly stroked my belly in circles and swirls. “I don’t just mean the sex, although that’s incredible. I like the way we never seem to run out of things to say to each other, the way we like doing the same things, going to the same places.” The hand stopped and rested over my diaphragm, warm and relaxed. “What I’m trying to say is I’d like to spend more time together. All our time. I want to wake up next to you every morning and know I’ll see you again that evening. I’d like to try living together.”

The longer I stayed quiet, the more tense his hand became. His beautiful gray eyes were fixed on my face, as if he was trying to read my thoughts. He’d have had a problem. I didn’t really have any coherent thoughts initially. Then, when I did, I wondered why he was asking. What we had was good. Why change that? Living together was like some sort of heavy-duty commitment. I’d seen enough people who had a good thing going break up after moving in together. And we’re only in our midtwenties, what’s the rush?

I suppose I should have seen it coming. The “I love you” thing. I’d said yes to living together because I couldn’t see a way of continuing to see Joe if I didn’t. And I wanted to keep seeing him. Like he said, the sex was—and still is—incredible. Also, I’ve never been one of those people who have hundreds of friends. I always say it’s because I’m picky and have a different definition of what the word friend means. And Joe was—is—a friend. He isn’t the only one who likes us spending time together. The way I define friend, I’ve only ever had about four or five, and Joe’s the best one I ever had. It’s not that I’m antisocial or anything, but most people are acquaintances. Some closer than others, but still—acquaintances.

Tonight, I’m on my own on the sofa, some program or other on the muted TV providing a bit of light and movement in the corner. And getting all introspective. Tonight’s one of those late nights for Joe. His job at the Council is on flextime, which looks like an excuse to mess people around, if you ask me. Unlike him, I don’t have unexpected delays at work, because the library at the University has set closing times. It’s a specialized library and I help people find the information and references they need, and assess the quality of their sources, as well as the usual library things. You know, making sure everything’s back where it belongs at the end of each day, keeping our journal subscriptions up to date, chasing down students and staff who don’t bring stuff back when it’s due. But mostly I help people with their research.

I came home to a text on the mobile I accidentally left on the kitchen worktop when leaving for work this morning. I could tell he was pissed off about working late. He doesn’t normally swear in texts. Or any other time really. When he gets in, he’ll need to let off steam about his boss, Penny. I keep telling him he needs to get another job. The trouble is, he likes what he does. It’s just her.

I was disappointed. I’d been looking forward to telling him about my day, finding out about his. There’s always some small thing that’s happened in the day and I need to share it with someone—with Joe specifically. He understands what I’m saying, he gets why it was funny, or sad, or annoying. I like to hear what he’s been up to as well. We sit there after dinner swapping anecdotes, snuggled up on the sofa or one on the sofa and the other in a chair, depending on our mood. I feel like I’ve known him all my life, and even when we’re quiet, it’s comfortable sitting together. I don’t have to make this huge effort to be constantly entertaining, and if a thought crosses my mind I know I can say it out loud and he’ll understand.

So. Where was I? Oh yeah. What is love, and how do you know if what you feel is love? Why should I be worrying about this tonight of all nights, you ask? Well, we’re going away this weekend. Joe’s planned this incredibly romantic weekend in Brussels. I know why. Sunday’s six months to the day when we moved his things in to join mine. If we’re going to start celebrating anniversaries and stuff like that, I need to think about what sort of relationship this is. Is this just good fun, or are we in it for the long haul?

Working It Out Release Party—Well, hello there!

July 19, 2014

Hello everybody. My name’s Kristen Slater and it’s my birthday today. No. Really, it is. As an extra-special birthday gift, Dreamspinner is letting me take over the blog for a while and hold a release party for my first ever published story, Working It Out which came out on Wednesday.
Birthday Balloons

It’s not the first thing I’ve written—that particular piece of dross will remain forever hidden in the depths of my hard drive—but it’s the first I felt brave enough to share. And someone liked it and agreed to publish it. The email came just a couple of weeks before Christmas last year, together with a contract, so that was my Christmas present. That’s a pretty fabulous pair of presents, don’t you think?

Since then the mysteries of editing have been opened up to me, I have seen the magic that is the blurb writer’s art and been amazed by the ability of the cover artist to bring my vision to life. It’s been a wonderful few months and I’m just hoping it will continue.

I’ll be back very soon with more info and a giveaway, but for now, here’s a taster of what the story’s about, and a look at the pretty cover. You can buy it in the Dreamspinner Press store.

Cover of Working It Out by Kristen Slater
Celebrating six months with his boyfriend has Cas in a bit of a panic. Joe’s been saying “I love you” for a while, but Cas just can’t get the words past his lips. A week before Christmas, he finally says them when a nearly fatal accident almost takes Joe, and Cas faces the possibility of losing the best man he’s ever known. But whispered declarations are one thing. Through a long, tough recovery both men must work out that love is more than words.

You can also find me burbling away online on my blog at http://kristenslater.wordpress.com or on twitter as @Slater_Kristen.

Bio
I’ve always spent more time living in the world inside my head than in the one outside it. Since I discovered writing, that world’s escaped from its confines and got mixed up with my real life. I’m not entirely unhappy about that. Particularly since I get to admit that I hear voices and listen to them without having to worry about the men in white coats coming to take me away.

Whilst never having any inclination to romantic relationships for myself, I nevertheless get all misty whenever I see a wedding or someone announces an intention to commit their lives to each other. It was kind of inevitable that everything I write turns into romance, no matter what it started out as.

A proud member of the Cloud Appreciation Society I think there’s nothing wrong with living with your head in the clouds.

You Can’t Go Home Again

July 17, 2014

I’m here today to tell you all about my newest book, You Can’t Go Home Again, that is scheduled for release tomorrow, July 18th. The story starts simply enough.  A seasoned cop and a brand new rookie are on an undercover assignment that goes seriously wrong – big time wrong. Threats are thrown around and shortly after bullets are flying. When it is all done, the seasoned cop, Jack, finds his rookie partner, Kevin, on the floor, dying.

Jack has spent years trying to be the tough guy, the guy who could take anything.  He had to be because a whole lot of crap had been thrown his way over the years, and his choices were to let everyone else win, or be tough and survive.  Jack is a survivor.

But as Jack sees his partner lying on the floor bleeding out, he drops to the floor and holds the rookie trying desperately to keep him alive until help can arrive, trying to provide him with some small degree of comfort. But Kevin is too badly injured and dies in Jack’s arms a moment later. Jack sits holding his rookie partner, soaked in his blood, feeling guilty, sad, angry, bitter, furious, and a whole host of other emotions. He should have done more to train the kid, he should have done this, he could have done that.  Jack beats himself up for having failed on what was supposed to be a simple undercover op.  No one was supposed to die, least of all the rookie assigned to him for training.  But he did, and now Jack has to deal with the fall out. He could run and hide, but that’s just not Jack.  Once he’s able, Jack washes the blood off his body, changes clothes, and goes to tell Kevin’s wife, Marie, about what happened. More about Marie in my next post when I talk about why I write about strong women in so many of my books.

Harmony Ink New Release: July 10, 2014

July 10, 2014

The Unseen Tempest (Lords of Arcadia: Book Three) by John Goode and J.G. Morgan

A Harmony Ink Press Young Adult Title

Kane fights alongside his boyfriend, Hawk, and their allies as they try to reclaim Hawk’s throne and save the Nine Realms. The Unseen Tempest (Lords of Arcadia: Book Three) by John Goode and J.G. Morgan, a Harmony Ink Press Young Adult title available from Dreamspinner Press.

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Sequel to Eye of the Storm
Lords of Arcadia: Act Three

Kane used to be a normal boy with normal worries. Now he fights alongside his boyfriend, Hawk, and an unlikely group of allies as they attempt to reclaim Hawk’s throne and save the Nine Realms. With time running out, Hawk decides to raise an army against the evil shapeshifter, Puck, and his army of The Dark. The adventurers split up in search of a force that will join their cause and help restore order to the Nine Realms.

New allies aren’t as easy to find as they hoped. Kane, Hawk, and their friends face unforeseen danger as centuries-old grudges threaten their quest. Nothing is what they thought it was, and Kane and Hawk must find the truth in time to defend against Puck’s encroaching army. But the truth about who their true foe is will change everything.

Length: Novel (244p.) | Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Young Adult, Gay | Release Date: July 10, 2014

Buy as an eBook (ISBN: 978-1-63216-191-8) | Buy as a Paperback (ISBN: 978-1-63216-189-5)

Harmony Ink New Release: June 12, 2014

June 13, 2014

Shoulder Pads and Flannel by Jo Ramsey

A Harmony Ink Press Young Adult Title

Guillermo witnesses an attack on Evan, and bullies plan to out him in retaliation. He must come out on his own or someone will out him. Shoulder Pads and Flannel by Jo Ramsey, a Harmony Ink Press Young Adult title available from Dreamspinner Press.

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Deep Secrets and Hope: Book Two

High school football star Guillermo Garcia can count himself among the popular kids—for now. Although he secretly dates Evan Granger, who is openly gay and badly bullied for it, Guillermo doesn’t dare let his teammates, classmates, or close-knit family learn about his sexuality.

But Guillermo witnessed an attack on Evan, and now the school bullies plan to out Guillermo in retaliation. In their small town, word spreads rapidly, so Guillermo must make a quick choice—come out now on his own or risk having someone else do it for him.

Length: Novel (190p.) | Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Gay | Release Date: June 12, 2014

Buy as an eBook (ISBN: 978-1-63216-059-1) | Buy as a Paperback (ISBN: 978-1-63216-057-7)

Harmony Ink New Release: May 29, 2014

May 29, 2014

For a Price by Hallie Burton

A Harmony Ink Press Young Adult Title

After meeting preppie Trey, neighborhood bad boy Bobby decides to try something new. But being in a relationship is tricky and takes work. For a Price by Hallie Burton, a Harmony Ink Press Young Adult title available from Dreamspinner Press.

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At seventeen, Charles “Trey” Maddox Taft III has had better years. His father ran off with a younger woman, and with no alimony or child support, his family has to move from affluent Coconut Grove to a rough neighborhood near Miami’s Little Havana. It’s a completely different world, but Trey is determined to make the best of a bad situation, if only no one finds out he’s gay.

On Trey’s first day in his new territory, he’s saved from being run over by local bad boy Bobby Cruz. Bobby is an unabashedly gay, sexually active high school senior who’s tired of one-night stands. After meeting preppie Trey, Bobby decides to try something new. Things go well at first, but being in a relationship is tricky and might take more work than either wants to do.

Length: Novel (180p.) | Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Gay | Release Date: May 29, 2014

Buy as an eBook (ISBN: 978-1-63216-141-3) | Buy as a Paperback (ISBN: 978-1-63216-139-0)

Harmony Ink New Release: May 22, 2014

May 24, 2014

This Is Not a Love Story by Suki Fleet

A Harmony Ink Press Young Adult Title

Certain events threaten to tear Romeo and Julian apart. Romeo must find the strength within to help Julian, and avoid Shakespearean tragedy. This Is Not a Love Story by Suki Fleet, a Harmony Ink Press Young Adult title available from Dreamspinner Press.

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When fifteen-year-old Romeo’s mother leaves one day and doesn’t return, he finds himself homeless and trying to survive on the streets. Mute and terrified, his silence makes him vulnerable, and one night he is beaten by a gang of other kids, only to be rescued by a boy who pledges to take care of him.

Julian is barely two years older than Romeo. A runaway from an abusive home, he has had to make some difficult choices and sells himself on the street to survive. Taking care of Romeo changes him, gives him a purpose in life, gives him hope, and he tries to be strong and keep his troubles with drugs behind him. But living as they do is slowly destroying him, and he begins to doubt he can be strong enough.

This is the story of their struggle to find a way off the streets and stay together at all costs. But when events threaten to tear them apart, it is Romeo who must find the strength within himself to help Julian (and not let their love story turn into a Shakespearean tragedy).

Length: Novel (270p.) | Genre: Mystery/Suspense, Young Adult, Gay | Release Date: May 22, 2014

Buy as an eBook (ISBN: 978-1-63216-042-3) | Buy as a Paperback (ISBN: 978-1-63216-040-9)

Harmony Ink New Release: May 1, 2014

May 1, 2014

If You Really Love Me by Gene Gant

A Harmony Ink Press Young Adult Title

When Ellis and Saul go from workout buddies to boyfriends, Ellis couldn’t be happier. But happiness is fleeting. If You Really Love Me by Gene Gant, a Harmony Ink Press Young Adult title available from Dreamspinner Press.

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With time ticking until graduation, Ellis Carter doesn’t have a plan for after high school. Since his best friend Cary dropped out, he has no one to talk to. All he knows is he doesn’t want to continue being a burden to his mother. Adding to his daily torture is the school’s new resident bad boy, Saul Brooks. So to say he’s amazed when the mysterious Saul invites him to the gym for a workout is an understatement. Soon, they go from workout buddies to boyfriends, and Ellis couldn’t be happier. But happiness is fleeting. His mother begins a new relationship he thinks will lead to pain, and Cary makes a decision that could take him out of Ellis’s life for good. Just when he needs to lean on his boyfriend the most, Ellis discovers Saul has a secret that could break them apart.

Length: Novella (172p.) | Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Gay | Release Date: May 1, 2014

Buy as an eBook (ISBN: 978-1-62798-941-1)

Harmony Ink New Release: April 3, 2014

April 3, 2014

Us Three by Mia Kerick

A Harmony Ink Press Young Adult Title

When Casey, Nate, and Zander work on a class project together, a new bond forms. High school becomes more complicated for them. Us Three by Mia Kerick, a Harmony Ink Press Young Adult title available from Dreamspinner Press.

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In his junior year at a public high school, sweet, bright Casey Minton’s biggest worry isn’t being gay. Keeping from being too badly bullied by his so-called friends, a group of girls called the Queen Bees, is more pressing. Nate De Marco has no friends, his tough home life having taken its toll on his reputation, but he’s determined to get through high school. Zander Zane’s story is different: he’s popular, a jock. Zander knows he’s gay, but fellow students don’t, and he’d like to keep it that way.

No one expects much when these three are grouped together for a class project, yet in the process the boys discover each other’s talents and traits, and a new bond forms. But what if Nate, Zander, and Casey fall in love—each with the other and all three together? Not only gay but also a threesome, for them high school becomes infinitely more complicated and maybe even dangerous. To survive and keep their love alive, they must find their individual strengths and courage and stand together, honest and united. If they can do that, they might prevail against the Queen Bees and a student body frightened into silence—and even against their own crippling fears.

Length: Novel (180p.) | Genre: Contemporary, M/M/M or More, Young Adult, Gay | Release Date: April 3, 2014

Buy as an eBook (ISBN: 978-1-62798-909-1) | Buy as a paperback (ISBN: 978-1-62798-908-4)