Longtime Obsessions with Louise Blaydon – Post + Giveaway

February 18, 2016

Longtime Obsessions

Hello, ladies and gentlemen of the blog!

I’m not entirely sure how to begin this post. I suspect this might be evident in my wavering introduction. I’ve been a Dreamspinner author since 2010, but this is actually the first time I’ve written a post here. I have a blog of my own which I update periodically (come and find me at http://louiseblaydon.wordpress.com!) but I’m pretty new to the world of book tours and guest posts.

I’m grateful to DSP for giving me this platform to talk a little bit about my latest novella, In Balance With This Life, which comes out February 17th. In many ways, this is my favourite of all the stories I’ve written, because writing it allowed me to wallow for months in a world that’s intrigued me since I was a little girl. In Balance With This Life owes a lot to the obsession with the Royal Air Force and World War II flying that hit me when I was about eight and has never really abated. It’s a story about a very motley crew of RAF pilots from all over the world who’ve come together to fly in the Battle of Britain in 1940. It was very important to me that this novella have an ensemble cast. The RAF was a very multinational organisation during WW2. The lead character in my novella, Jeff, is Northern Irish, but among the cast there are Poles, Americans, Russians, and various others, from all walks of life, representative of the way the service really was then. I was always interested in the stories of those who’d been “other” all their lives, but who found a home in the wartime RAF. When I was younger, I read memoirs by Poles and Indian pilots. Then, more recently, I read the stories of the gay men who had fought the war in the air.

I am British – I’m originally from the Scottish borders, and now I live in southern England with a lot of cats – but this is the first DSP publication of mine with a British setting. I’ve travelled a lot, particularly in the southwestern USA, and have made use of that experience in my other stories, but here I got to write about the wet and windy weather of my homeland, and I really enjoyed that. Another thing I liked about writing this book, though, was getting to focus on more characters than just the two major components of the romance. There are several romances at play in In Balance With This Life. It’s an M/M story, and a little bit of an M/M/M story, and I’ve left my boys in a place that leaves room for new dynamics to develop in the future. Most of all, though, the romance in In Balance With This Life is between the boys and their squadron as a whole. It’s a story about how war makes strange bedfellows, and how people pull together in intense situations. I’m very proud of it. I hope you’ll like it too.

A lot of you may be unfamiliar with my writing, so I’d like to offer an opportunity for commenters to win a book of your choice from my backlist. To enter this giveaway contest, please indulge me in answering a couple of questions:

  1. The wartime RAF is the novel setting that I’ve had in my mind since childhood. What’s yours? What longtime obsession would you love to turn into a story backdrop?

  2. The guys in this story start off in England, but they end up flung around as Higher Command dictates. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?

You can follow me on Twitter @louiseblaydon, and on Facebook here (https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100010531029395&fref=ts) I’d love to keep in touch with you!

InBalanceWithThisLife

Get a copy of In Balance With This Life today!

Blurb: 

Irishman Jeff Riley left the Royal Flying Corps in 1918, hardened by war. He survived those harsh years with the help of his quick-witted English friend, Sean McClean, although Jeff would never want to admit it. When the Battle of Britain erupts in 1939, he’s once again drafted and forced to leave his flourishing commercial pilot career and join a new squadron. Although another war disrupts his life, he’s not disappointed to find himself reunited with Sean.

Jeff is attracted to many of the men in his new squadron of misfits. Never before has he seen such a diverse group assembled for a single cause, including Jimmy Dupont, a handsome, strong Texan who joined the Royal Air Force to help the war effort, and his constant companion Filip, a young and talented Polish airman. It’s evident from the beginning that there’s something special about the connection between Filip and Jimmy, but as time goes on, Jeff feels himself not alienated by it but drawn into it.

Jeff tries to focus on staying alive, but he’s only human, and there’s more to life than survival. There’s also loving, and Jeff can’t get by without it, especially when any day could be his last.

Do Not Read When Hungry: Guest Post for the release of Ghosts with Jackie Keswick

February 11, 2016

Do Not Read When Hungry

Hi everyone, this is Jackie Keswick – writing from England, where it’s damp and grey and chilly. Just the weather to stay indoors with a huge mug of hot chocolate and a good book. I’ve come out to hang out with all of you, though, and I’m very pleased to be here since it’s the release day of Ghosts, the second instalment in The Power of Zero series.

GhostsFS

Ghosts is the book I hadn’t actually planned to write. Until quite a few of you asked about Nico and Daniel, the boys Jack and Gareth rescue from a pimp in Job Hunt. The questions got me wondering what was happening with Jack, Gareth and the boys between the end of Job Hunt in October and the beginning of House Hunt in April. So Ghosts turned into a bit of a bridge between the two longer books, and into a contemplation of families and Jack and Gareth’s relationship. It’s set between Christmas and Valentine’s Day and before I do anything else, I need to warn you: do not read Ghosts when hungry!

Because there’s food. Delicious food. And lots of it.

You see, growing up hungry has left Jack Horwood with an appreciation for good food. Which plays right into the hands of Gareth Flynn, who takes looking after people damned serious. And who loves nothing better than to hang out in his kitchen after a hard day’s work.

Gareth has another endearing habit, one he developed during his time in the Army. Every Christmas he holds an Open House, a Christmas dinner for anyone who can’t make it home, can’t cook or would otherwise be alone. It’s a celebration for the family he’s made for himself over the years, and it gives him the chance to spend the coldest, darkest parts of December in the kitchen surrounded by relishes, pickles and chutneys, mince pies, fruit cake and chocolate truffles, clove-studded, honeyed hams, Cumberland Sauce, roast goose and venison pie.

It’s all a far cry from Jack’s way of celebrating Christmas, which usually consists of brewing a large pot of coffee, settling down to work and ignoring the whole circus completely. Not surprising for a man who associates Christmas with unpleasant life changes. Jack lost his home on Christmas Even when he was eleven. Years later, he almost lost Gareth and that failure still haunts him. As for family… don’t go there. Jack really doesn’t want to remember the scariest, loneliest Christmas he’s ever spent. It’s much easier to leave those ghosts well buried.

Except now there’s Gareth and Gareth values family. He makes no distinction between the family he was born to and the family he’s made for himself – something Jack finds tricky to wrap his head around. Being there for Nico and Daniel distracts him from the stuff that makes no sense, and of course he’ll never say no to sampling Gareth’s cooking.

I blog about English history and traditional English food in my other life, so writing Ghosts was pure indulgence for me. It gave me a chance to dig out my favourite recipes and experiment a little, never mind that it was the middle of summer. One of the dishes Gareth makes for his Christmas Eve dinner with Jack is this stunning looking, smelling and tasting celeriac soup that’s rather boldly labelled “Christmas” in my mind, but is too delicious not to share. If you live in the northern hemisphere, then celeriac is very much at its best right now and well worth cooking with. So imagine it’s Christmas and cold out – or simply stick your nose out the door to remind yourself – and then turn your kitchen into orange-and-fennel-scented heaven.

© Vivilweb | Dreamstime.com

Here’s what you need to feed maybe six… though I’m sure Jack can polish off most of that quantity without breaking a sweat.

- The peel from half an orange (leave as much of the white pith behind as you can manage)
- 2 leeks, trimmed, washed and sliced thinly
- 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
- 6-8 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped
- 1 head celeriac (about 1kg or so), peeled and chopped
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon saffron threads
- 1 teaspoon sugar (soft, brown if you have it)
- 2 litres vegetable stock
- 250ml dry white wine
- Olive oil, salt, pepper
- To serve:  a handful of chopped parsley, a few spoonfuls of double cream

 

First, dry the orange peel in a medium oven. This takes about 30-40 minutes and your kitchen will smell like Christmas and good things. Don’t let it burn.

Next, heat a splash of olive oil in a large saucepan and soften the leeks, carrot, garlic and red pepper. You want a medium heat under the pot and the vegetables should be soft-ish after about 10 minutes.

Now add the fennel seeds, saffron, orange peel, celeriac and sugar and fry for about 5 minutes until the celeriac is nicely coated and you can smell the fennel. Then add the stock and another glug of olive oil and simmer briskly until the celeriac is soft. 30 minutes should do it.

When the celeriac is almost there, add the wine and the parsley stalks. Cook for a couple more minutes, then blend the soup and push it through a sieve. Add a couple of spoonfuls of cream and the chopped parsley, plus salt to taste. You should be left with something velvety soft, gorgeously coloured and tasting like… mmmmh.

So that’s the soup taken care of.  And what of Valentine’s Day? Is the pink festival as off the menu for Jack as Christmas? Or is Gareth whipping up something special? Well… maybe. See if you can guess and let me know what you think. For now, I’ll keep mum on that one, except to say that love comes in all shapes and sizes. And sometimes it’s heart-shaped.

Get your copy of Ghosts today! 

Blurb:

The Power of Zero: Book Two

Jack Horwood doesn’t do families. Or Christmas. From the time his mother sold him to her pimp to the moment he walked out on the man he loved, Christmas has always been about change and painful choices. This year seems no different. Helping Daniel and Nico recover from their imprisonment and hunting down those responsible puts Jack in a frame of mind he doesn’t want to inflict on anyone. Least of all Gareth and the tentative relationship they’ve started to rebuild.

But Gareth, for whom Christmas is all about new beginnings, won’t let Jack take the easy way out. He makes him face his ghosts instead. Even when said ghosts invade their bedroom.

When Daniel’s parents are found, Jack is determined to settle the matter without involving Daniel at all. But fate decrees otherwise, and it’s Gareth who helps him finally understand that the strongest bonds are those forged together. Once he gets that, Jack can step up and make a decision designed to lay his ghosts to rest—for good.

 

About Jackie Keswick:

She’s worked in a hospital and as the only girl with 52 men on an oil rig, spent a winter in Moscow and a summer in Iceland and finally settled in the country of her dreams with her dream team: a husband, a cat, a tandem, a hammer and a laptop.

When she’s not working or writing, she… doesn’t exercise. Instead, she cooks and researches English history and traditional English recipes. She has a thing for green eyes, all things suede and cyclist’s tight butts, and is a great believer in making up soundtracks for anything and everything, including her characters and the cat. And she still hasn’t found the place where the bus stops.

For questions and comments, not restricted to green eyes, bus stops or recipes for traditional English food, you can find Jackie Keswick in all the usual places.

Loss, Recovery, Hope… and Cannibalism with Evelyn Esrig

October 21, 2015

Loss Recovery Hope and Cannibalism

Hi! I’m Evelyln Esrig and today I’m releasing my novella Sweetbreads and Sweet Nothings. It’s a strange little book about loss, recovery, hope, … and cannibalism. If you watch NBC’s Hannibal I’m pretty sure my story will seem tame by comparison.

The idea for Sweetbreads and Sweet Nothings came about ages ago, when I rediscovered the Consensual Cannibalism case. The story of a cannibal and his willing prey first cropped up in the news cycle in the early 2000s back when I was in high school. Apparently a two German men named Armin Meiwes and Bernd-Jurgen Brandes met in a cannibal forum and arranged to meet so that Meiwes could butcher and eat Brandes, with Brandes’ full and enthusiastic consent.  Needless to say, my friends and I, geek scifi/horror nerds the lot of us, were obsessed for weeks. But like many teenagers, our attention spans were fleeting and we eventually moved on.

Years later, I had a shiny new creative writing degree and a lot of free time on my hands when the story crossed my path again. It popped up on something like Facebook or Twitter in February 2012. Once again I was enthralled. Consensual cannibalism. How was that possible? The ethical ramifications alone made for some pretty meaty material.

I almost began writing about a cannibal but then I thought “What about the man he ate? What must his family think of this person they thought they knew willingly consenting to be consumed? What must it be like to be that person’s next of kin?” and suddenly I had a whole different story on my hands.  I had a story about someone who lost someone they loved for reasons beyond their understanding and that was a story I wanted to explore more than I wanted to get inside the mind of a killer.

I wanted to be as non-judgmental as possible. I wanted to try and understand. I wanted to understand what would motivate someone to commit the crime of cannibalism, assisted suicide by cannibalism, and what it was like to have someone disappear from your life without a trace. I tried to make it about empathy and rebuilding and recovery. I parked myself at my local Cheesecake Factory listening to My Chemical Romance and The Arctic Monkeys and ate a lot of complimentary bread as I worked.

But what started as a simple story about being left behind evolved from an experiment in fiction for me in the spring of 2012 when someone close to me committed suicide. Needless to say, suddenly I was much deeper in touch with my main character than I had been before. The story became an exercise in acceptance and understanding something that is beyond comprehension – How do we come with the reality that sometimes people choose to leave us in violent and tragic ways? How do we move on? How do we heal? These are the questions that I tried to explore in this story. I don’t know if I accomplished it but I know that when I finished writing it, I certainly felt healed.

Have you ever had an experience like that – where you fell into something that helped you just the way you needed in the least likely way? It’s a beautiful thing and I’d love to hear about it.

<3

@evelynesrig

evelynesrig.tumblr.com

evelynesrig@gmail.com

 

Friendships Old and New with Nic Starr – Giveaway + Post

October 7, 2015

Hi. Nic Starr here. I’m joining you today to talk a little about my upcoming release, More Than a Friend. I wanted to talk a little about the book, and the topic of friends.

I had an interesting discussion this week with an old friend of mine, someone I’ve known since high school. Actually, she’s my one and only good friend from those days. You see I’m one of those people who are happy to socialize but I don’t collect a huge group of friends. I have my best girlfriend from school, my best friend from my first long term job, and a best friend from mother’s group. I am extraordinarily close with my sister who lives only two street away, and I have my ‘new’ best friend. Our social circle includes my husband’s best mates and their families, but it is a relatively small group.

So back to the conversation. My friend and I were talking about quality of friendships versus quantity of friendships (of course quality won), and what we expected out of relationships. The discussion drifted to online friends, and the value of relationships via social media. She was quite surprised to find I communicate MORE OFTEN with people I’ve met online and haven’t even met in ‘real-life’. She was amazed to find that something as simple as a shared love of a reading genre, and passion to support same love, could bring a group of people together in such a personal way.

The conversation reminded me how lucky I am to have good people in all areas of my life. I know people who would drop everything if I asked for help, friends to take me in their arms for big hugs, and friends to have fun with and share special moments. But I also have a great group of online friends who are available all hours of the day and night, to provide laughter or comfort or just help me feel like I’m not alone.

This month, October, feels like a special month for friends.

Firstly, I’ll be spending a week with my ‘new’ bestie. We met online a couple of years ago, through our love of m/m romance, and a lasting friendship has formed. We message and talk on the phone every day, and we’ve spent a few weekends together (she lives on the other side of the country to me), but this trip is the two of us going on a BIG adventure so is extra special. You see, we are travelling from Australia to the USA! Yay!

The trip is for GRL, where I am looking forward to meeting and spending times with readers and authors alike. I’m looking forward to putting faces to names, and maybe sharing a hug or two with the people I only know online. It will be a special time.

Finally, the 7th October sees the release of More Than a Friend. This is a friends-to-lovers story. If you’ve read More Than a Superstar, you would have sensed the tension between Tim and Scott. In More Than a Friend, I was able to give these guys their happy ever after. Of course, they need to overcome a number of obstacles once they admit their attraction to one another, including the fact that Tim is best friends with Scott’s brother, so an interesting look at the family/friend dynamic.☺

I’m leaving in a week for San Diego. Hopefully I’ll have a chance to meet many of you while I’m there.

How about I leave you with a giveaway?

 

If you’d like to win an eBook copy of one of my backlist titles, leave a comment on this blog post. All you need to do is share a story about where you met your best friend. Good luck. ☺

Have a great day!

Nic xx

And for those of you interested, here are the details of my latest release.

More Than a Friend – The Blurb

Tim Walker is a free man. He’s broken up with his girlfriend and is ready to move on to a new relationship. But the relationship he wants to pursue is fraught with challenges. Firstly, Scott Richardson is a man, and only Tim’s closest friends know Tim’s bisexual. Secondly, everyone knows Scott relishes the single life. And then there’s the big one: Scott is the younger brother of Tim’s best friend, Paul.

Scott can’t deny an attraction to his brother’s friend Tim. Lean, dark-blond, and blue-eyed, Tim is hot and hard not to notice—especially since Scott and Tim work together. Too bad the man is straight, and too bad Scott worries how Paul will react if Scott hooks up with his best friend.

Tim and Scott want to see if there’s a chance for more than friendship between them, but neither of them wants to lose Paul. Together, they must find the courage to follow their hearts and find a way to have it all.

Buy Links

Dreamspinner Press

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon AU

All Romance eBooks

About Nic Starr

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/nicstar000

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

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

Fight For Your Right with Evan Gilbert

September 18, 2015

Fight ForYour Right

 

Evan Gilbert here. My latest novella, Love Turned Blue, releases on September 16, 2015 amid the continuing brouhaha of religious objection to the Supreme Court’s decision this past June affirming the constitutionally protected right of same sex couples to marry. The movement is currently personified by Kim Davis who, as I write this, has just been released from jail after defying court orders to issue marriage licenses in her capacity as a county clerk. Ms. Davis has essentially declared that God won’t allow her to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples. She claims God’s law and her sincerely held religious beliefs trump the US Constitution and the rights of LGBTQ individuals.
I have deep roots in the African-American community, where there are a lot of Kim Davises running around.  They take heated exception to any comparison between the campaign for gay rights and the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. The church is still the centerpiece of the community, and homophobia is perhaps a bit more heavily entrenched here than in the rest of American society. Such attitudes have always made it very difficult for gay African-American men to form committed relationships with each other. Unfortunately, even in today’s more open society, there are still gay black men who are afraid to come out of the closet, and who cheat themselves of the joys and benefits that come from having a loving spouse or partner in their lives.
Slade Thompson, one of the main characters in Love Turned Blue, started his adult life as such a man. He married a woman to please his parents, believing rightfully that they would disown him if they found out he was gay. He deprived both himself and his wife of real love and affection for many years. Fortunately for them, Slade eventually grew to embrace his same sex desires and embarked on a path that eventually brought him to Bruno. But he also brought along the fallout from his failed marriage, including a bitter teenaged son who hasn’t forgiven him for the turmoil he created.  These are not exactly the optimal circumstances for beginning a good, strong relationship.
Three people in my life inspired me to write Love Turned Blue. Two of them are middle-aged black men who have been in love with each other for fourteen years. They are a faithful couple, but they live in separate apartments and won’t even consider tying the knot now that their right to marry has been secured. They are afraid their families will be devastated if they live openly as gay men. The third person is also a gay middle-aged man. He grew up in the church and is a devout Christian. He firmly believes the Biblical admonition of homosexuality as an abomination in the eyes of God. He’s told me how lonely he is and how he longs to have a man in his life. But he denies himself that companionship because he believes the only way he can avoid violating Biblical law is to refrain from all homosexual activity.
The LGBTQ community’s fight for rights and equality is far from over. It is still legal in most of this country for a man to be fired from his job for being gay. Local, state, and federal legislatures are considering laws that would allow people with “sincerely held religious beliefs” to discriminate against LGBTQ citizens. Conservative courts will likely find ways to uphold many of these laws. In short, there is still a lot of stigma out there for people who don’t fall under the heterosexual banner. Thankfully, there are many LGBTQ men and women who continue to stand up and live their lives proudly. We need more movies, television shows, and stories about men and women of all ages and races who are not afraid or ashamed to be who they are. And that’s why I love writing about diverse men who find love and happiness with each other.
So, what do you think about gay love and marriage in the good ol’ USA? Should the right to religious freedom supersede the right of a gay man to live where he chooses or to marry the man he loves? I’d love for everyone to share their thoughts, so please leave a comment. You’re also welcome to write me directly anytime at EvGilvibes@gmail.com.

Racing For Love: If I Were Fire by Heloise West

September 16, 2015

 If I Were Fire

Hello all, I’m Heloise West, author of If I Were Fire, a novella set in 18th century Tuscany.

I wanted to give some background to the story and to enlarge on one aspect of it—the horse races (called palio) that the people of Siena live for every year. For the novella, the race has already happened, and the characters are dealing with the aftermath.

More than one race is held during the year, but it’s the July 2nd and August 16th races that are the most important. We spent a week in Siena a few years ago in September and not long after the last palio. The winners were still celebrating, marching through the streets and singing, banging drums, pots and pans, sucking on their pacifiers, and wearing cardboard stove pipes.

I did say pacifier, and we’ll get back to that ;) .

Because our hotel was in the Wolf contrada, I made Amadeo Neruccio, one of the major characters in the novella, a member of the Wolf.

The races go back to before the 13th century and are dependent on an interesting aspect of Siena, the contrade. In the 21st century, Siena’s streets are made up of separate districts, each with their own church, museum, and history. In the 12th and to the 18th, there were more than 59 of these contrade, though now there are only 17. One theory of their origins has it that they began life as military groups, each district with its own warehouse of weapons to draw on in case of attack. Siena is also divided into thirds, terza, which date before even the 12th century and the original site of the Roman colony Saena Julia (maybe in the time of Sulla). Before that, an Etruscan hill fort stood in its place.

All these Italian communes have long, long histories and consequently long memories.

Governor Violante Beatrice, a widow of one of the last of the Medici, was sent to Siena from the Tuscan court to keep her out of the trouble in the early 1700s, a few years after the events of this story took place. She reorganized the contrade and the palio, giving both the shape and form they have in present day Siena.

The races are called palio for the banner that is the prize. The tradition lasted over the centuries because of the religious significance attached to them, as the races are dedicated to specific saints. The communes of Tuscany once all ran the palio in their towns, but apparently Mussolini (1935) declared the term to be used exclusively for the Sienese palio.

As inauspicious as that is, Siena is the town that has preserved this ancient tradition, not for the tourists, but for themselves. The palio and the contrade are not for the tourists. It’s worth repeating. With a cold glance, they shut you out from the casual observance of their community rites of the palio, the contrada. A friendly smile from an outsider will be ignored.

I didn’t care. I was just thrilled to be there. We arrived on a Sunday morning and slept the day away to get rid of the jet lag. That evening, in warm but temperate southern Tuscany, we sat in the Campo, had a glass of wine and reveled in the soft evening. The Campo was well lit and with lots of people around sitting at the outdoor cafes, or having an after dinner walk, old people arm and arm. We heard whistles and singing, drums and cymbals, and a parade of people, old and young, marched by chanting the contrada songs their parents and grandparents taught them. The pacifiers represent the contrada reborn in the palio win. Various other items like the chimney stove pipes represent the symbols of the particular contrada and the past trades of those districts.

The palio goes on in the hearts and minds of the Sienese all year round, beginning again with the last win. It’s complicated and entrenched, but not so entrenched that outsiders can’t become contrada members. “Seven Seasons In Siena: My Quixotic Quest for Acceptance Among Tuscany’s Proudest People” is a wonderful memoir by Robert Rodi, an American and a gay man, who falls passionately in love with Siena and becomes determined to become a member of the Caterpillar contrada.  “La Terra In Piazza” is a detailed and complicated (in a good way) interpretation of the palio, by Alan Dundes and Allesandro Falassi. This essay is a blend of information from those books and my own memories.

Two fictional favorites of mine about historical Siena are: “The Daughter of Siena” by Marina Fiorato and “Juliet” by Anne Fortier. The former is a fiction about how Governor Violante Beatrice managed those changes to the ancient city’s tradition with a romance/mystery at the heart of it. The latter is a bit of a parnormal take on the Romeo and Juliet story, as tradition has it the story of the doomed lovers originated in Siena, not Shakespeare’s Verona.

What’s your favorite city (that’s not your hometown) and why?

 

IfIWereFireFS

 If I Were Fire is out now! Get your copy today!

 

Louise Lyons – new release Beautiful Thunder and current works

August 31, 2015

Hi everyone, Louise Lyons still on the blog.

A few people have asked me lately what I’m currently working on, now that Beautiful Thunder has taken its first step out into the world.

Well, firstly I’ve been working on edits for a novella entitled Finding Beck and have just received the cover art for it. It’s set in the same time period as Beautiful Thunder (the 1990s) but is based in my old hometown, Grimsby and Cleethorpes (the two are merged together), in the UK. I used to go to another rock nightclub called Jezebels who had a rock night on Fridays, and my main character, Martin Lynch, meets his love interest Beck in that club. The pair quickly fall for each other, but worry about the potential reactions of Martin’s housemate Graham, and both sets of parents. Some responses are better than others! You can expect to see this available around the middle of October.

I’m also working on a full length novel set in Prague, another city I’ve visited. The book is entitled Cervena, which is “red” in Czech and is the name of a strip/dance/cocktail club owned by main character, Joel Jones, an Englishman who has lived in Prague for ten years. He discovers a young homeless Russian boy named Sasha, offers him a job as a dancer, and quickly develops a strong attraction to Sasha. But their new relationship is fraught with obstacles including the death of Joel’s mother in London, betrayal by his business partner, Karel, and threats from someone to whom Karel owes a substantial amount of money. Joel is convinced he will lose Sasha one way or another, and has to decide what is most important to him – Cervena or Sasha.

This story is about four chapters away from being finished so I’m hoping to wrap it up in the next month.

I also have my first sci-fi romance in the pipeline. Regeneration was written during NaNoWriMo last year and finished during the month following. Kim Fortune is the only survivor of a new type of enhanced human in the galaxy of Sigma Kappa, far in the future. Having escaped the lab where he was created, he spends the first few years of freedom as an explorer, until he runs into a more successful member of his species – Christian Novak. Christian is everything Kim was supposed to be, but didn’t quite make the grade in, and he’s envious, confused, and insanely attracted to Chris. There seems no hope for them in the war-torn galaxy and Kim is convinced Chris will never feel anything for him – until Chris risks his life to rescue Kim from imprisonment after a crash landing on an inhospitable planet.

I’m reworking some of the story after advices from readers, and hope to submit this later in the year.

I have two other ideas in note form – a contemporary romance between two ex-jailbirds, and a paranormal romance featuring the ghost of a broken-hearted man who took his own life, so I have lots going on, which will hopefully all see the light of day during the next year.

But for now, Beautiful Thunder is my book of the moment. You can read another excerpt on my blog, during which Alex goes for an audition with Nottingham, UK band, the River Rats, and meets his love, Lindsey, for the first time. Click the link below.

Louise Lyons Blog

 

What If? with Amberly Smith

August 28, 2015

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Anyone up for a game of what-if? That’s how my story Marriage Most Convenient all started, what-ifs and friendship. I’m Amberly Smith and I’m really psyched to chat you all up.

My best girlfriend and I have known each other for over twenty years, since high school. Our kids are of an age, our spouses are proud geeks, and we’ve got the good dirt on each other. A while ago she showed me a listing for a military silo and the what-ifs began. We probably drank oolong tea and ate homemade ginger cookies, though I can’t recall for sure. It might have been a Saint Mark for me and a Long Island for her. The silo’s previous owners had converted the bunker-grade home into a beautiful retreat and had several acres to sell separately. What if you wanted to buy this place? What if you could only fly in and out because there were no roads? Where would you get the money? Who would you have to kill, sleep with, or marry to have that kind of dough? I like my creature comforts, I don’t want to live in the middle of nowhere, so what kind of person does?

The thing about what-if, it’s a game that can haunt you. Play with caution, fellow readers, play with caution. I wrote Marriage Most Convenient as a way of answering those questions. And because marriage of convenience stories, who doesn’t love those? From back cover blurb:

No bank is going to give a nomadic thrill seeker a loan. Even if Tom Flynn wants to develop and run a retreat for disabled kids. Good thing he is finally old enough to pull from his trust fund. However, it would mean settling down—because accessing the money requires him to be married—so he asks his best friend, Luke, to marry him.

So this is where the friendship steps back in. I love stories with banter, with characters who know each other well enough to see the flaws. Yes, there is still the excitement of new love, a deeper connection but with friendship? That complicates things, makes things more vibrant.

Luke Marten’s goal is simple: don’t go on one more crazy adventure with Tom. Knowing how successful he has been in the past, Luke has a backup plan: don’t fall in love. He’s a goner when Tom not only proposes but confesses to one seriously hot kink.

For their friendship to survive this marriage, they’ll need to face DOMA, conservative judges, and long held beliefs about each other. Talk about getting caught by the short hairs.

 

The story I’m working on now is different, futuristic sci-fi, but it also started with a question. What if the government figured out how to make super soldiers but no one man can hold all the abilities?

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Now for a rousing game of what-if, your turn edition. What if you desperately need a vacation? How far would you go to get what you want? And, because all great adventures should involve friendship, who do you take with you?

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You can also chat me up on Facebook, my website, Twitter or Goodreads.

 

Check out Marriage Most Convenient today!

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Twelfth Night Release Party with Racheline Maltese & Erin McRae – Excerpt

August 13, 2015

It’s been lovely chatting with you all! We’ll be here til midnight Eastern, chatting with y’all in the comments, but for now we’re going to leave you with an excerpt of Twelfth Night:

John doesn’t expect Michael to be as weirdly taken with the ocean as he is with the wild woods. It doesn’t seem like his element the way the trees are. But he is mesmerized by the beach almost instantly upon their arrival, insisting they walk along the hard wet sand of the tide line. It doesn’t matter how many times John says their muscles will ache unhappily tomorrow from miles walked at the edge of the frigid fall water; Michael either doesn’t hear him or doesn’t care enough to respond.

John is fascinated as Michael keeps a close eye on shells and rocks. One is shaped like a small egg, and he’s disappointed when it’s not. Still he makes John hold it for him, running ahead to a rock jetty to comb through the midden of mussel shells left by persistent and angry seagulls.

John tries not to be horrified, but the sight of Michael’s fingers picking through the dead bivalves and seaweed stinking in the sun is a bit much.

“What’s this?” Michael asks, eventually, holding out a shell, colored and swirled, to him.

It’s in perfect condition, and John is about to be impressed with the find until he realizes there’s still a creature using the shell as its home.

“That’s an animal in there.” He doesn’t actually know what kind. But it’s gelatinous and of the sea and not really a thing they should be messing with. They’ve seen dozens of jellyfish washed up on the beach already today.

“Does it go in the ocean or not in the ocean?”

“Ocean,” John says. He’s not 100 percent sure, but he suspects, like the jellyfish, the sun and the birds will eventually cook and peck it to nothing if it’s not saved by the sea.

Michael throws the shell back and returns to the tide line as they walk, gaze carefully on the ground and picking at every shell he sees that looks like whatever creature he just rescued. Most of them have their animals in them, and John suspects the coming hurricane that’s going to ruin their trip is churning them up.

As Michael throws each one back into the water, John is charmed that he’s trying to save creatures that have no spine, names he doesn’t know, and forms he’s never seen before.

Eventually Michael decides they can leave and reaches for John’s hand. John flinches away. It’s not the strangeness of the town this beach is attached to, half religious meeting town, half gay beach paradise. There’s even a club down the block from their inn that advertises “Less Lights, More Fun!” It’s that he can only think about whatever bacteria Michael is now coated in from all the dead mussels.
God, but he’s going to look like an idiot explaining that.

When he tries, stumbling through a mini monologue about seaweed and sea creatures and sand, Michael just listens with his head tipped to the side.

Finally John’s speech drags to a halt under Michael’s incredibly unimpressed gaze. He sighs and starts again.

“Okay. I swear the handholding thing has nothing to do with anything except your gross dead bivalve hands. But I think I may be freaking out.”

Michael blinks at him. “Did this start when we checked in and you had to deal with people who know we’re here to fuck?”

It’s sharp, but John knows he probably deserves it.

“You know I don’t mind being out in public with you,” he says cautiously. He wants to be honest with Michael, but he also doesn’t want to provoke anger by being less willing to be out than Michael deems sufficient.

Thankfully Michael considers John for a moment and then grins. “Somewhere in the romantic beach getaway, I got that.”
John lets out a relieved sigh and wraps an arm around Michael’s waist. He wants to prove his willingness to be fully in this relationship without shame, but life is also just better when they’re touching. Michael leans into his side, and they start walking down the sand again.

“But it’s something I can’t help being aware of,” John says quietly as they walk. “What we are and what people see when they look at me. Which apparently means I’ve found my internalized homophobia, and I am completely aware of how gross that is. I’m going to work on that, but there it is.”

“You still want to, like, go out to dinner tonight and make out on the boardwalk, though, right?”

“Oh my God, you have no idea. I want to tell everybody about you.”

Michael smirks. “So why don’t you?”

“Coming out at my age is kind of more complicated than it is at twelve. Or however old you were when you did.”

“I was fourteen, thank you.”

“So how did you come out to your parents?” John asks after they walk for a few minutes in silence.

Michael cracks up.

“I’m serious!”

Michael buries his face in John’s arm and apparently can’t stop laughing. “You do understand how ridiculous this is, right?”

“I understand that I’m forty-two and have to come out to everyone in my entire life that I give a remote shit about, because you are addictive and fascinating and wonderful and also are sadly holding me to some pretty legitimate ethical standards. So help a guy out, okay?”

“I was making out with my first high school boyfriend in the living room, and my mom walked in.”

John is entirely not surprised. “So hey, when you meet my family, let’s not go with that plan, yeah?”

“Yeah,” Michael says, drawing the word out in a way that makes it clear it’s his turn to be defensive and weird.

John smirks, pleased to be off the hook for the moment. “You haven’t told them about us either,” he says smugly.

Michael mumbles something against John’s arm.

“What was that?”

“You’re really old,” Michael says. “And they’re going to freak.”

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Twelfth Night Release Party with Racheline Maltese & Erin McRae – Locations and Stories

August 13, 2015

 

From Racheline:

Like many New Yorkers, I’ve spent most of my summers visiting the Jersey Shore. For me, that’s been the stretch of beach that includes Ocean Grove and Asbury Park.

Both towns, which together encompass little more than two miles of beachfront, are peculiar relics of another age. Asbury was one an amusement park town; today, while the mini golf and pinball hall of fame remain, the rides are all gone.  Ocean Grove, on the other hand, started and continues life as a Methodist Camp Meeting town.

Today both towns are also popular destinations for LGBTQ travelers and have significant LGBTQ populations.  Sometimes, this makes things awkward, like that time someone hissed something about lesbian witches at my partner and I as we walked down the boardwalk.  Mostly,though, no one cares.

We set the opening of Twelfth Night in Ocean Grove and Asbury because we wanted to capture our hero John, who is still in the process of coming out to himself and others, adjusting to being someplace that was strongly queer and would recognize him as one of their own. But we also wanted to capture the sense he has of embodying a lot of internal conflicts, much like these towns.

Both towns are easily accessible by public transit and are just a few hours from New York City, and our worth your visit in you’re in the area.  Regrettably, the nightclub with the “Less Lights, More Fun” marquee mentioned in Twelfth Night is no more.

What are your favorite locations, either as vacation destinations or as settings for stories? What’s your favorite location (or type of location) that you like to read about, or that you like to write about? What place have you read about in a book and decided you want to visit? Let us know in the comments below!

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