December 7, 2016
This is Ashavan Doyon here at the Dreamspinner Press blog for the release of… oh. It’s a lot. *takes a deep breath* The Rodeo Knight, The King’s Mate second edition and the print only anthology The Chess Master Chronicles.
This is the last stop on my blog tour, coming home to my publisher. Just yesterday I was at Tammy’s Two Cents giving way more information than anyone wanted to know about how I started writing The King’s Mate, down to the mini blurbs for the three other stories I almost wrote instead. A few days before that, I was at My Fiction Nook, with Sylvester Thomas of The Rodeo Knight who shared his favorite superheroes. On release day, I stopped by Love Bytes Same Sex Reviews and sat down at Sam’s Café for a talk with Sam. MM Good Book Reviews hosted us twice! There have been a lot of stops and hopefully, if I’ve gotten my act together between when I wrote this and when it appears on the Dreamspinner Press blog, you can find links to all of them on my website ashavandoyon.com in the News and Events section.
The blog tour has been eleven stops, every one of them unique content, and I’m in awe of authors who manage more than that. Some of you have followed along as I’ve been going from stop to stop, and if you’re one of them, thank you so much! This is the one with the prize… stay tuned!
By now I’ve talked a ton about how this set of stories came to be. I don’t want to repeat that for folks who may have been following the tour, so check out those links on my site and get the whole story. I’m fresh from talking about The King’s Mate, and I love that story, but the “new” release is The Rodeo Knight and I want to give it the attention it deserves today.
The first two Sam’s Café Romances focused on Russ, the chess master for Sam’s tournament. This story closes out that story line with the story of the love he lost, Brian. I had an experience I’d not had before with this book. I had a reviewer that had loved the earlier stories in the series read the blurb and message me on Facebook with, essentially “Brian’s alive? Tell me how?” It was one of the things that told me I’d made the right choice with the story.
Because I’d pitched the story, I had a lot sketched out. I knew we had our amnesiac chess grandmaster Brian. I knew his family had hidden his past from him and created a fake life, a heterosexual life for him to live. I knew that he had missed his chance to make things right with Russ, and I struggled with that, because I knew I had readers who wanted to see that work. But Russ had a happy ending already.
In writing this story I had one advantage most people don’t. I wasn’t writing about amnesia from soap operas or books. I had a friend in college who had a similar accident and suffered from the genuine complete memory loss, down to not remembering his own name. Thankfully, his parents weren’t the total crazies Brian has. I remember something that my friend said to me about amnesia and what it was like when he finally felt something again (for him also, this was over a romantic relationship). He said it was like suddenly turning on color TV, when all you’d been able to watch was black and white. He also said that was a totally inadequate description, but I knew what he meant and I’m sure you do too.
When Brian finally “sees in color” it is in his feelings for a cowboy. That makes Brian’s acceptance of his feelings fast. He has proof, something tangible, for what he’s feeling and he wants it bad, because while he can’t feel what he’s lost, as he says a few times in the story, he “knows it was good.”
*Okay, so it was fast. But I’m a little mystified. I get it, I guess, and sure you set it up, but a comic book store? Were you a Queer as Folk fan or something?*
I haven’t gotten this question yet, and honestly, I’m a little surprised. QAF is the obvious place for a gay man to pull starting a comic book store from. But that totally is not it! I love this story and having the comic book store is a little homage to my own love. I met my husband in college. He owned the comic book store halfway between my mom’s house and the university. It was also a gay boy magnet. Somehow every gay comic geek in a fifty-mile radius seemed to mysteriously frequent his comic store. Anyway, I have strong romantic feelings attached to comic book stores as a result of our summer romance.
Then I broke up with him and crushed his heart into little bits. (oh, totally for real. Yes, there were reasons)
Thankfully Brian doesn’t have such a tarnished happy ending. I hope you’ll have a chance to experience it and all the Sam’s Café Romances. For the record, five years after that summer I decided regrets were for the birds, wrote my husband a letter “you probably hate me but…” and met him for dinner a few weeks later. We’ve been together for sixteen years.
Thinking about Sylvester’s impossible second chance dream for a comic book store — tell me about your crazy dream job or aspiration in the comments — why didn’t you do it? or how did it turn out if you did?
*a-hem* you said something about a prize?
YAY! Prizes. Just one, sadly. Starving author! But I’m offering a book from my Dreamspinner backlist (e-book only, sorry folks, that means The Chess Master Chronicles and the print edition of Gerry’s Lion aren’t eligible) to one person who answers that call to comment on their crazy dream job. E-book prizes are awarded through the Dreamspinner Press bookshelf, so you must have a Dreamspinner Press store account to win. My current new releases (that is The King’s Mate and The Rodeo Knight) are not eligible. You CAN win A Wounded Promise though, even though it’s part of the series. It’s book 2 and it’s fantastic and super angsty. You have 72 hours to enter!
For fifteen years, Ashavan Doyon worked with students in the student affairs office of a liberal arts college. He recently decided to shake things up a little, and is now working in the publications and communications office at the college. During lunch, evenings, and when he can escape the grasp of his husband on weekends, he writes, pounding out words day after day in hopes that his ancient typewriter-trained fingers won’t break the glass on his tablet computer. Ashavan is an avid science fiction and fantasy fan and prefers to write while listening to music that fits the mood of his current story. He has no children, but lavishes attention on his sole remaining fur child, a very elderly pug. A Texan by birth, he currently lives in New England, and frequently complains of the weather.
Ashavan went to school at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, getting his degree in Russian and East European Studies, with a focus in language and literature. He has two incomplete manuscripts from college that he goes back compulsively to fiddle with every so often, but is still not happy with either of them. He still loves fantasy and science fiction and reads constantly in the moments between writing stories.
You can find me online at:
Check out The Rodeo Knight today!
The Rodeo Knight
Sam’s Café Romances: Book Three
Struck by amnesia after a car crash, Brian Stouten has been living a life laid out by his family, a heterosexual life that just doesn’t fit. When he learns it was all a lie, he returns to the small college town that’s his only clue to his past. But the town is still unfamiliar, and the man he’d hoped would make all his memories return is on a honeymoon with another man. To add insult to injury, everyone thinks Brian died in the crash. It’s only when an out-of-place cowboy asks to bum a smoke that Brian realizes this trip was meant to be.
Sylvester Thomas has always fought a secret desire, and done it successfully. But when geeky Brian offers him a smoke and a light, a simple brush of hands has Sylvester’s hidden passions burning deep. Did he make a mistake letting Brian walk away?
Sam’s Cafe Romances books 1-3, print only
The Chess Master Chronicles (Dreamspinner)
December 7, 2016
Hello, Internet! I’m Lex Chase here at the lovely DSP Blog to talk about my brand-spankin-new release (and very first contemporary) The Unlikely Prospect!
It’s part of Dreampinner’s States of Love line, featuring stand-alone stories taking place in each of the 50 states of the USA. The Unlikely Prospect features my beloved homestate of Maine. It’s the story of loner lobsterman Harper Cook who loves the sea and people not so much. When he’s “voluntold” for a nude calendar destiny slaps him upside the head when he crosses paths with Los Angeles out-a-statah Sean Blackburn.
Now, ask anyone how much I burst with Yankee Pride. And I live in the Deep South where us Northerners are called Damned Yankees because we stayed behind. And here I’m presenting a list of my top five personal Mainer quirks:
5: I’m a Red Sox fan since before the womb. Like my granddad, my uncles, and then me. Red Sox Nation is in my blood. Boston Strong!
4: I actually don’t like lobster or seafood in general. I have to leave the kitchen when my family is cooking the poor bastards. They thrash and squeak as the steam goes through their shells. It just freaks me out. Also, not kidding, lobsters are actually the cockroaches of the sea.
3: I don’t have the Downeast accent. I grew up as a Navy brat and my dad got stationed in Japan, followed by California and I learned the San Fran Valley accent. And it just stuck. Forever. But yes. I can say “Pah’k tha kah ‘n Hah’vah’d Yah’d” (Translation: “Park the car in Harvard Yard.”) Also it’s not “Bar Harbor” it’s “Bah-Hah-Bah.”
2: I have a relative who is an astrophotographer. His work has even appeared on the first edition cover of my DSP Publications title Chasing Sunrise. On a clear night and you wait for your eyes to adjust, you can see the Rift in the Milky Way with the naked eye.
1: The Goldsboro community of Maine, which includes Prospect Harbor, also appears in my urban fantasy series Fairy Tales of the Open Road. In the second book Bayou Fairy Tale, Taylor and Corentin move to the village of Sullivan and actually live on my Aunt’s property but with a fictional house. In The Unlikely Prospect, Sean lives on my Aunt’s property but the house is a fictional Queen Anne with the same floorplan. In Fairy Tales, Taylor volunteers at the Jesup Memorial Library, a place Harper in The Unlikely Prospect passes every single day.
Check out The Unlikely Prospect today!
In Prospect Harbor, Maine, lobsterman Harper Cook has always loved the sea. He and his two brothers work the harbor waters, in a fishing village of one thousand where everybody knows everybody else’s business and nobody wants to be different.
When it’s time for the annual Men of Maine pinup calendar, Harper’s brothers eagerly volunteer him. Harper isn’t thrilled to bare it all to raise money for an elementary school playground—until he meets out-and-proud Los Angeles out-a-statah Sean Blackburn: the highly available first-grade teacher with Hollywood heartthrob looks.
Harper has no desire to ever stand out from the crowd, but Sean persists and earns Harper’s friendship. Through Sean, Harper opens up to new possibilities. Things get steamy, but Harper still protects his heart. Though the right pressure in the right place might crack even a loner lobsterman out of his shell.
Lex Chase once heard Stephen King say in a commercial, “We’re all going to die, I’m just trying to make it a little more interesting.” Now, she’s on a mission to make the world a hell of a lot more interesting.
Weaving tales of cinematic, sweeping adventure—and depending on how she feels that day—Lex sprinkles in high-speed chases, shower scenes, and more explosions than a Hollywood blockbuster. Her pride is in telling stories of men who kiss as much as they kick ass. If you’re going to march into the depths of hell, it better be beside the one you love.
Lex is a pop culture diva, her DVR is constantly backlogged, she has intense emotions about Hannibal’s Hannigram, and unapologetically loved the ending of Lost. She wouldn’t last five minutes without technology in the event of the apocalypse and has nightmares about refusing to leave her cats behind.
You can find her in the Intarwebz here:
December 6, 2016
I like many others, love coffee! I mean seriously love coffee. I drink it from morning to night and am an unapologetic coffee snob. I write hours upon hours and it’s a rare occasion that there isn’t a pot of coffee available. I need it to keep myself focused and warm (I’m always cold). The bonus is, it’s always available to anyone who comes to visit. Nine times out of ten it will be a rich brew of Colombian. However, on occasion I like to add a little flavor to the Joe.
Flavored coffees can be expensive, especially when buying it by the cup. I found a way to satisfy my taste buds without going broke. I make my own at a fraction of the cost.
The simplest way is to check your spice rack. Try adding about ¼ of a teaspoon of your favorite flavor to your coffee grounds before you brew your morning Joe. I recommend cinnamon, apple or pumpkin pie spice or nutmeg
Mocha coffee your flare? Add ½-1 teaspoon of cocoa to your coffee grounds, mix well and pour into your brewing basket. For those of you, who like me, drink a lot of coffee, or want to give it as a gift, add ¼ to 1/3 cup of cocoa to a pound of ground coffee and mix well. I like to dish out enough for a single pot into fancy plastic baggies, tied with a pretty bow and give as gifts.
Finally, my favorite way is to flavor with oils. Many online companies sell a variety of coffee bean flavors. (My favorites are caramel and hazelnut.) Buy fresh roasted coffee beans (Do not grind first) I add about 1oz of flavor to each pound of coffee beans. Store your flavored beans in a plastic bag or container for a couple of days to give the beans time to absorb the flavors and viola – flavored coffee at your fingertips.
With the holidays upon us, coffee is always a great gift to give. Even if you don’t drink coffee (shudders) the scent of it brewing is one that reminds me of a cozy home. Instead of giving coffee to brew, place the flavored beans in a decorative bowl or around the base of a candle and give the gift of yummy scents.
What are your favorite flavors or scents of coffee. Leave a comment and be entered for a chance to win an ebook copy of both Override and Limitless. Good Luck and Happy Holidays!
Check out Limitless today!
An Underground Club Tale
Even within the context of the Underground BDSM Club, Joshua’s desires are dark and extreme. Hopelessly addicted to pain and the high it gives him, he has no limits. Joshua would quite literally rather die than use a safeword, and he accepts that might be his fate. As much as he depends on others, he has yet to find a man who can gain his trust, and he has little hope that he ever will.
For Nash, acquiring Joshua from another Dom at the club is only the first step in what will be a long and arduous road to lure the young man back from the brink of self-destruction. He must do the impossible and win Joshua’s trust, and he must be the one to set limits in their exploration—something he’s unaccustomed to as a Dom. But Nash knows dominance doesn’t always mean pushing a submissive’s boundaries. It’s about establishing a bond and fulfilling another man’s needs. In Joshua’s case, he’ll have to strike a balance between meeting the young man’s expectations and drawing firm lines that will save Joshua from himself.
Meet Jo Peterson
SJD Peterson, better known as Jo, hails from Michigan. Not the best place to live for someone who hates the cold and snow. When not reading or writing, Jo can be found close to the heater checking out NHL stats and watching the Red Wings kick a little butt. Can’t cook, misses the clothes hamper nine out of ten tries, but is handy with power tools.
December 5, 2016
Master Captain Theodore Gourdin has always loved the ocean. But his devotion to maritime life left little possibility for a long-term relationship. After two failed marriages and numerous unsuccessful relationships, Theo gave up on finding the person who completed him and decided the sea was his soul mate. When offered the opportunity to captain the newly launched megayacht Eternity, Theo jumped at the chance. With Eternity’s maiden voyage looming, Theo focused all his energies on hiring his crew and readying his ship. The last thing he expected was to finally lose his heart in the process.
After twelve years at sea, First Officer Heath Rawlins was restless and in need of a change. A gay seaman’s life could be a lonely one, but to Heath the positives far outweighed the negatives. With excellent recommendations and an impressive résumé, he was quickly offered a position on the private megayacht Eternity. Heath’s heart skipped several beats when he finally met the ship’s captain. He was handsome and charming. And… familiar? Had they met somewhere before? Highly unlikely. But as smitten as Heath was with the gorgeous captain, everything inside him screamed, Abandon ship! Rough seas ahead!
Scotty Cade here again. First off I’d like to thank my wonderful publisher Dreamspinner Press for their never ending support and guidance over the last seven years and for always giving me the opportunity to hijack their blog allowing me to spend a little time with you. Their support along with yours means the world to me so thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
With all that said, today I’m here to chat about my latest novel which released about a week ago. It’s called “Only Forever” and focuses on the unexpected, unexplainable, but deeply strong connection between two men when they meet for the first time. Theo and Heath have been drawn to the sea for as long as they could remember, but neither really knew why. They have both spent their lives feeling like they’ve been looking for something that was always just out of reach. But when they are brought together their connection is to powerful and overwhelming to ignore. Although they fight it all the way, for many reasons, the pull is undeniable.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not pushing any agenda and I’m not sure I’m a complete believer in reincarnation, but I do believe that our time on earth is just a minute of our spiritual journey. I think along the way we meet people, connect with them, befriend them, love them and let them go, until our paths cross again. So that is the premise of the book, accepting and embracing something you can never really prove but know deep inside your heart, without a doubt, it’s your truth.
When I got the brainstorm for this book I sat down and started writing. No research, no outline, just me, Theo and Heath. But halfway through the book, it took on a life of its own, as my books usually do, and ventured off in a direction I had no idea was coming. That’s when I decided I needed to research the stuff Theo and Heath were experiencing. So I stopped writing just long enough to verify a few of my thoughts, but I got so involved in the subject matter I ended up spending countless hours perusing the internet about déjà vu, reincarnation and all sorts of similar topics.
Six hours in, I stumbled upon a site called “Whisper’s from the Soul” by Esther Bartkiw. Trust me when I tell you this site intrigued the hell out of me. Esther is a strong believe in reincarnation. On her sight she talks about what’s going on when you meet someone, have an instant connection and feel like you’ve know that person forever. She believes they are part of your “Soul Group” or “Soul Family.” According to Esther, these are people or groups of spirits or beings who reincarnate with us in various lifetimes and perhaps even in different realms to help us move forward in life, grow in consciousness and learn life lessons.
She goes on to say that she believes that while we are in the heavens waiting for our next incarnation into the physical, we make plans on what we want to experience and accomplish in our lifetime. We look to members of our Soul Group or Soul Family to help us achieve those goals. These members of your Soul Group may have popped up in your past lives as a lover, friend, sister or parent cherishing and caring for you. These spirits may have made an appearance as a nemesis, enemy or someone who deeply wounded you. This does not mean that the spirit does not like you or is bad. On the contrary, this spirit most likely loves you so much that they were willing to come to the planet and be a part of your life that causes you grief and anguish so that you can grow and accomplish what you plan.
Anyway, I could go on and on about this topic, but you get the drift. So when you read this book all I ask is that you keep an open mind and just allow the possibilities to resonate with you. And please don’t call it “instalove.” It may appear as such, but Heath and Theo have known each for many lifetimes. It a mere reconnection of lovers.
Oh. One more thing before I let you get to the excerpt. Let me ask you one question. Have you ever met someone for the first time, had a feeling that maybe you’ve met them before, or even felt like you’ve known them forever? If you’ve had an experience like I’ve mentioned above, tell me about in the form of a comment. If you do, you will be entered into a drawing to win any book from my backlist.
Theo propped his elbows on the table and rested his chin in his hands. He stared at Heath quizzically. “Excuse me for asking, but have we met somewhere before? You seem so very familiar to me.”
“Oddly enough, I thought the same thing when I walked into the dining room and saw you sitting here. But I don’t see how. I think I would have remembered.”
“I guess so,” Theo said. “You probably just remind me of someone.”
“Same here,” Heath agreed.
The two men held each other’s gaze until Heath felt uncomfortable, cleared his throat, and turned away. When he turned back, the captain was still eyeing him closely.
“So tell me,” Heath said. “In your e-mail you mentioned you’d hired a first officer but alluded to the fact that he wasn’t a good fit. Can I ask what happened?”
“Certainly,” Theo said. “As I mentioned in my original email, it’s nothing I can put my finger on exactly. I’ve interviewed about a half dozen potential first officers, and they were all very qualified, but they were young, stiff, and eager to please. I don’t want someone blowing smoke up my ass. I want someone who has my back and will shoot straight with me. And I just didn’t feel he was the one.”
Oh my God! How many gay innuendos can a person make in one sentence? Young and stiff? Eager to please? Blowing smoke up your ass? Having your back? Shooting straight! This is gonna kill me. Look at the bright side, Heath. You might not get the job.
Heath folded his napkin and placed it in front of him. He rested both elbows on the table, linked his fingers, and leaned forward. “Well, sir—I mean, Theo. The way I see it—if you offer me the position, our relationship can go one of two ways. I can do everything you just mentioned and more”—and enjoy the hell out of it—“or I can be 100 percent honest with you and give you my opinion regarding any particular situation when it is solicited. It’s really up to you.”
A smile crept across Theo’s face. “I like you, Heath. You’re straightforward and to the point. I think we’ll get along just fine. By the way, what does the G stand for in your name, G. Heath Rawlins?”
Heat slowly crept up Heath’s face. “Are you sure you won’t laugh?”
“No promises,” Theo said, looking over the edge of his glass before he took a sip of water.
“Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
Theo eyed him warily.
“My first name is Gilligan.”
Theo choked on his water, and Heath thought he might spit a mouthful across the table. The captain wiped the water from his chin with his napkin, smiled, and locked eyes with Heath. “You’re shitting me, right? A sailor named Gilligan?”
“It’s a family name on my mother’s side,” Heath explained. “And while we’re on the subject, if I remember right, your middle initial is G.”
This time Theo squirmed. “It is.”
“And?” Heath asked.
Theo looked from side to side and then leaned in with mischief in his eyes. “Gil-li-ard,” he said softly.
“Your middle name is Gil-li-ard?” Heath asked rather loudly. “How do you spell that?”
Theo laughed and spelled out his middle name. “G-a-i-l-l-a-r-d.”
“When you spell it, it sounds like it should be pronounced Gail-lard. Guy-lard. Or maybe Gay-lard?”
“Welcome to the South, Gilligan,” Theo said. “My family’s originally from Charleston, South Carolina, and it was my mother’s maiden name.”
“Well, at least we have that much in common,” Heath said, now feeling even more comfortable teasing Theo.
“You’re from Charleston?” Theo asked.
“No. But both of our parents apparently blessed us with sucky names.”
Theo frowned. “Really? I happen to like mine.”
Heath’s smile faded. Oh shit. As usual I went too far.
But before Heath could backtrack, Theo burst into laughter. “Oh, who am I kidding? I despise it.”
“Oh thank God,” Heath said. “I thought I’d just ruined my chance at a new job before I even got it.”
“Nope. And for future reference, I don’t take myself that seriously.” Theo looked around for a waiter. “Hey! How about a drink?”
“To that I’ll say, ‘Yes, sir!’”
Once they had their drinks and ordered their dinner, the conversation flowed again.
“So I’ve already told you I’m originally from Charleston,” Theo said. “How about you?”
“Austin, Texas,” Heath replied.
“I’ve been there a couple of times, and I like Austin. A lot. Your family still there?”
“Unfortunately not.” Heath felt the usual tightening of his chest and tugging at his heart each time he had to tell the story about how he’d lost his family, but he pushed through it, as he always did, and explained his situation.
“I’m really sorry,” Theo said. “That couldn’t have been easy for you.”
Heath stared at a ship’s wheel hanging on the wall over Theo’s shoulder and mentally stepped back in time. “It sucked,” he finally said. “In the beginning I had horrible survivor’s guilt, you know? Like I wished the hell I had been home with them. I mean, I kept asking myself why I was spared.”
As the words left Heath’s mouth, they surprised the hell out of him. He hadn’t spoken to anyone, with the exception of a grief counselor at the maritime academy, about how he’d felt after losing his family. Not anyone in over twelve years. But here he was telling Theo all about it.
Theo seemed to hang on his words and appeared to be waiting for more when Heath decided enough was enough. He needed to wrap this up, and quick. “But it got easier, I guess.”
Maybe sensing that Heath was uncomfortable talking about his family, Theo reached over and laid his hand on top of Heath’s—a move that surprised the hell out of him. As soon as their flesh connected, Heath felt the same instant warmth running through his body he’d felt when they’d shaken hands earlier. This time the warmth was accompanied by a fleeting image that flashed through his mind’s eye. But before Heath could lock onto it, it was gone.
Theo’s thoughtful tone and sensitive demeanor told Heath the captain was not only good-looking, he was easy to talk to and seemed genuine and caring. He liked the man more and more with each passing minute.
“I guess we play the hand we’re dealt,” Heath said, trying to stay in the moment.
“You’re right,” Theo agreed, slowly withdrawing his hand.
As soon as Theo’s touch was gone, Heath instantly wanted it back. What was the draw? He sure as hell didn’t know, but he was quickly realizing he was playing with fire. He needed to get a grip on this infatuation or he was going to ruin his chances of getting this job.
“Well,” Heath continued, “if there was anything positive that came from losing my family, it’s the fact that their deaths made me throw myself into my education and career full force. And twelve years later, here I am.”
Theo nodded. “If my calculations are correct, you joined your first ship right after you graduated.”
“Just days,” Heath admitted. “I needed the distraction, or I probably would have lost my mind. Or even worse, killed myself.”
Theo gave him a knowing glance.
“Hey, look,” Heath said. “I’m sorry, man. I have no idea why I went into all this detail. I don’t talk about this stuff.”
“Maybe you needed to,” Theo said. “And I’m glad you felt comfortable enough with me to share a little of your story.”
Theo hesitated and then spoke. “I know this sounds lame, but the more we talk, I just can’t shake the feeling that we’ve met somewhere before.”
Check out Only Forever today!
Scotty Cade left Corporate America and twenty-five years of Marketing and Public Relations behind to buy an Inn & Restaurant on the island of Martha’s Vineyard with his partner of over twenty years. He started writing stories as soon as he could read, but just five years ago for publication. When not at the Inn, you can find him on the bow of his boat writing gay romance novels with his Shetland sheepdog Mavis at his side. Being from the south and a lover of commitment and fidelity, all of his characters find their way to long healthy relationships, however long it takes them to get there. He believes that in the end, the boy should always get the boy.
Here’s where you can find me:
December 2, 2016
Hi, everyone! I’m Antonia Aquilante here to talk with you about The Sorcerer’s Guardian, which came out on November 28th. The Sorcerer’s Guardian is the fourth book in the Chronicles of Tournai series, though it can be read as a stand-alone, as can the other books in the series. It’s the story of Savarin, a powerful sorcerer, and Loriot, captain of the royal guard, as they clash and get closer and ultimately fall in love while on a mission from the prince to solve the mystery of Tournai’s weakening magical protections.
Family makes up a large part of what I write, which probably makes sense since family has had such a big influence on me in my life. I’m part of an Italian-American family, and I grew up knowing that family comes first. For me and for so many, family isn’t just dictated by blood; it’s the family we choose in bonds of love and friendship as well. My best friend is as much as sister to me as the one I’m related to by blood, and I’m so lucky to have her. Family is the center of everything, and it helps to shape who we are. If you’ve read The Sorcerer’s Guardian, you may have noticed that I talked about a lot of this in my dedication to the book.
Since family is so important in my life, it’s no surprise that it is so important in my books too (I love reading stories with strong bonds of family and friendship too. What about you? Any favorites?). I don’t just write romances in which two people fall in love. I also write stories of love between friends and family. Sometimes I think those bonds create themselves, or at least they seem to—maybe they’re just pulled out of my subconscious and my own love for my family and friends. But then I’m not much of a planner, so lots of things seem to appear out of nowhere but, on reflection, make so much sense!
In the Chronicles of Tournai series, men fall in love and find happily ever after, but they also find family. Much of the series centers on Tournai’s royal family. The bonds between siblings and cousins who feel more like siblings than cousins, the extended family created when these men fall in love and others are drawn in, the friendships that are so close they are family too. I enjoy exploring family dynamics and how family affects the individual, many times for good but other times not as good. But even when some familial relationships aren’t very healthy, I love letting my characters build their own loving, supportive families. I find something so hopeful in it, and I want so much for my stories to bring some hope and joy to my readers.
Loriot and Savarin, the heroes of The Sorcerer’s Guardian, aren’t actually part of Tournai’s royal family, but they move on the periphery of it, Loriot as guard captain and Savarin as the sorcerer most often called on by the prince, and are trusted. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t still inspired by and exploring family in the book. Both Loriot and Savarin have their own families. Loriot is quite close to his, though most of them live far away and he doesn’t get to them as often as he would like. He’s built a family in his home in Tournai’s capital with his five-year-old son and his sister and her lover to help Loriot raise him. Savarin’s family lives closer—in the same city as he does—but their relationship is strained. His family doesn’t, or perhaps can’t, understand his life. He wants to help them, to make their lives better, and he hates that they won’t let him. The differing dynamics have influenced who Loriot and Savarin are, and how they react to their growing relationship, and how Savarin reacts to Loriot’s son and the possibility of being a second father to him.
Loriot and Savarin clashing and falling in love and clashing some more as they try to integrate their lives and build a family themselves was something I really enjoyed writing. I hope you enjoy getting to know them as well.
Check out The Sorcerer’s Guardian today!
Savarin, the most powerful sorcerer in Tournai, has honed his Talent through years of study and made magic his life. Among the wealthy and noble circles he moves in, no one would suspect the handsome, refined, and arrogant sorcerer’s humble beginnings, which is how Savarin prefers it. Tournai’s princes task Savarin with studying and strengthening the spells that protect the principality from magical attack. They are complex, centuries old, and exactly the type of puzzle Savarin is eager to solve. To his annoyance, the princes insist Loriot accompany him.
Loriot worked his way up the ranks of the royal guard to captain and takes pride in his service. He must obey the princes’ orders to protect Savarin, despite believing his skills would be best used elsewhere. And despite his wariness of magic. UnTalented himself, he has learned not only the benefits of magic but also its potential for harm—and how to counter it. Loriot and Savarin clash during their journey, but there’s another reason for the tension between them, and passion develops into feelings neither expected. But Savarin must still fortify Tournai’s magical barrier, and his only solution endangers both him and the royal family.
Antonia Aquilante has been making up stories for as long as she can remember, and at the age of twelve, decided she would be a writer when she grew up. After many years and a few career detours, she has returned to that original plan. Her stories have changed over the years, but one thing has remained consistent – they all end in happily ever after.
She has a fondness for travel (and a long list of places she wants to visit and revisit), taking photos, family history, fabulous shoes, baking treats which she shares with friends and family, and of course reading. She usually has at least two books started at once and never goes anywhere without her Kindle. Though she is a convert to ebooks, she still loves paper books the best, and there are a couple thousand of them residing in her home with her.
Born and raised in New Jersey, she is living there again after years in Washington, DC, and North Carolina for school and work. She enjoys being back in the Garden State but admits to being tempted every so often to run away from home and live in Italy.
She is a member of the Romance Writers of America, the New Jersey Romance Writers, and the Rainbow Romance Writers.
December 2, 2016
I always find titles to be hard, and usually before I come up with the right one, I come up with a whole bunch of crazy or lame or just not right titles. Here are the top ten rejected titles for The Closet Boy.
10. The Janitor and the Jeweler
9. Once Upon a Closet
8. The Shyest Boy
7. The Learning Curve
6. The Jeweled Master
5. The Virgin Sub
4. Sweeping Love
3. The Closet Lover
2. Out of the Closet
1. The Closet Way
What kind of title draws you in as a reader?
smut fixes everything
Check out The Closet Boy today!
Way’ra Bernard is only twenty years old when his parents kick him out of the house. He has been brought up to believe being gay is wrong and he is going to go to hell for it. He tried very hard not to be gay but couldn’t change the way he felt. Now he’s living furtively in a closet on the third floor of the place he’s working as a janitor—the Iron Eagle Gym.
Neal McPherson is an unattached Dom in his midtwenties and a member of the gym. One evening after working out, he notices Way’ra on the stairs and he’s immediately attracted and intrigued, so he asks Way’ra out. Unable to come up with a reason to refuse and also interested in Neal, Way’ra accepts.
There are a lot of obstacles to the relationship they attempt to build after their date, not least of which is Way’ra’s upbringing and his lingering doubts about the kinky sex Neal enjoys. But with patience and persistence, Neal might convince Way’ra not only to accept himself, but to loosen his inhibitions enough to explore and find a happy ending together.
Neal got himself set up in one of the beds and sat to read for fifteen minutes. Then he put his wallet in his back pocket and headed downstairs to meet up with Way.
The kid was cute, all long limbs and big eyes. Neal thought Way could use a sandwich or five hundred, but he knew being skinny was a thing, and he wouldn’t judge. He was, however, getting the guy something to go with that coffee.
If Way showed. He wasn’t a hundred percent sure Way would. Of course that was a part of the appeal, wasn’t it? Most boys would have bent over backward for him. It was too easy. Way couldn’t even meet his eyes, didn’t seem to care about his muscles, his reputation. It was intriguing.
Neal hadn’t been intrigued in far too long.
He made his way down to the front of the gym. Would Way be there? He certainly hoped so.
“Can I help you, Master Neal?” Dalton was one of those who fawned over him, eyes trailing over his muscles.
“I’m looking for Way.”
Dalton gave him a blank look, clearly having no idea who he was talking about.
“The janitor,” he clarified.
“Way’ra. Right. I think he went home for the day about an hour ago?”
No. It had only been half an hour since they’d spoken.
“It’s okay, I’ll find him. Thanks anyway.” He gave the kid a tight smile and went to the door, looking out in case Way was waiting outside.
Way stood out in the late spring evening, hiding from the rain under the awning. Pleasure rushed through Neal, and he stepped out, joining Way in the relative cover of the overhang.
“Hello. Are you sure you want coffee, still?” Way asked.
“I might actually go for a hot chocolate or some decaf so I can sleep, but yeah, I’d like something warm and something sweet, and I’d like it with you.”
He looped their arms together, not giving Way a chance to argue, and headed down the street to the late-night café. Way walked along beside him, not a bit of meat on his bones. It made Neal wonder if that was by choice.
“So where are you from?” he asked as an opening gambit.
“Nowhere important.” Near black eyes peeked at him from a shock of sleek black hair. “How about you?”
“I’m originally from up north. Sudbury. But there’s not a lot of job opportunities up there.”
“Well, that’s why everyone comes here, isn’t it? The city of opportunity.”
“Yeah, and it certainly gave me the opportunity to meet you.” He smiled over at Way, then opened the door to the café, holding it for him.
“Thank you.” Way stood carefully, like he was afraid to touch anything for fear of breaking it.
“You want to get us a booth while I get the coffees?” He wasn’t going to say no to bringing goodies along with the coffee, which would be easier if Way wasn’t right next to him actually saying no.
“Sure. Thank you again. That’s very nice.”
“How do you want your brew?” he asked before they parted ways.
“I’m easy. Whatever you’re having.”
“Okay.” He gave Way a smile before going to the counter to order. “I’d like two mocha lattes, a slice of coffee cake, and a slice of cranberry flan, please.” The lattes would go better with dessert than hot chocolate would, and making them mocha was a nice compromise. He hoped Way was into sharing, so they could each taste both desserts.
Best-selling author Sean Michael is a maple leaf–loving Canadian who spends hours hiding out in used book stores. With far more ideas than time, Sean keeps several documents open at all times. From romance to fantasy, paranormal and sci-fi, Sean is limited only by the need for sleep—and the periodic Beaver Tail.
Sean fantasizes about one day retiring on a secluded island populated entirely by horseshoe crabs after inventing a brain-to-computer dictation system. Until then, Sean will continue to write the old-fashioned way.
Sean Michael on the web:
November 30, 2016
Hi readers! I’m Tory Temple, and I’m here today to let you know about my re-released novel with two of my favorite characters! FIRELINE – THE OCEANSIDE FIRE SERIES will be available for purchase on Friday, December 2. This anthology is composed of two full-length novels and a novella, all starring Chance and Tucker. All of these have been previously published, but trust me when I say they’ve been cleaned up (a lot) and re-edited very well.
Chance and Tucker were my first boys, written way back in 2005, but they continue to lead rich, full lives in my head. As a matter of fact, they recently hooked up with Jake and Tor from Chris Owen’s Bareback, in the Never Too Early series. (Not currently available, but soon.) These two have a very special place in my heart and I love it when readers tell me that they also have fond feelings for them!
Their world-building happened when my husband and I got engaged fifteen years ago. He’d been involved with the fire department since he was eighteen, but it was only when we started living together that I realized what it meant to be a fireman’s wife. As I learned more and more details of the fire service, Chance and Tucker came to life. I’ve been inside many fire stations and met a lot of different firemen over the years. When you see the close quarters in which they have to live, it’s only natural to wonder if any hooking up is happening.
The hubs has been an excellent resource for me while writing. I tend to get bogged down in details and I find research to be tedious for this reason. I like everything to be as close to reality as possible, so research can take me hours and hours. Having a walking firefighting encyclopedia living with me is very handy. However, what’s true for Chance and Tucker may not be true for a fireman living on the east coast. Different departments, different states: different rules. Chance and Tucker are west coast firefighter/paramedics for the simple reason that I know their schedule and their department bylaws.
I’m giving away one ebook copy of Fireline! To enter, just comment here and tell me if you’ve ever had the opportunity to visit a local firehouse. School field trip, fire department open house day, or did you just drop by to bring the firefighters cookies? (They never turn down sweets.) And if you’ve never been to one, have you had any encounters with firemen? Hopefully nothing traumatic happened, but if it was an emergency situation, how did they treat you? I’d love to know. Comment below with your experiences!
Check out Fireline – The Oceanside Fire Series today!
Sparks fly when Chance meets Tucker, and the flames aren’t far behind.
Chance has a job he loves as a fireman, an ocean view, and a great bunch of friends. There’s no reason to change until he meets Tucker, a paramedic who works his shift. Tucker might even be worth coming out for. But when Chance is injured, it takes a toll that could shatter everything they’re working to build. Can they get through the first test of their new relationship and come back better than ever?
Chance and Tucker return when a family tragedy forces Tucker back to Kentucky to wait out the probate on the old homestead—but they can’t be together for long, because Chance can’t leave work. Their few stolen moments are plagued by adversity from the locals, problems in their personal lives, and even the weather as they try to settle the farm enough to leave it behind. Can they keep it together when the fire burns high enough to flash over their heads?
Flesh and Blood
After they endure those hardships, they still face the daily dangers of their jobs and the uphill battle to prove their love is as legitimate as anyone else’s.
November 29, 2016
Hello, all! I’m CJane Elliott and it’s my privilege to be on the Dreamspinner Blog today to talk about my new release, All the Way to Shore. One of the elements in the story I most enjoyed writing is the journal that Marco keeps.
I’ve kept a journal for most of my life. I still have my first diary, started in the 4th grade, in which I talk mostly about food, a preoccupation that continues to this day! Journaling has always been a form of therapy for me—a way to pour out whatever’s bothering me, muse about the previous day’s events, and center myself for the day ahead. It clears my mind and gets me in touch with my heart. I often work out story ideas too! If you’ve never tried journaling, I recommend giving it a try.
In All the Way to Shore, Marco’s journal entries are included throughout the story and show a side of Marco that most of the world never sees, because on the surface he’s a hard-charging CEO. No one would suspect he loves his cat and his Mama and his little sister, and actually has a tender heart. I’ve never written journal entries into a story before, but I think it worked really well. It was a way to get a first-person point of view of Marco without having to write the whole story that way. We’re able to see right into Marco’s mind as he talks to himself about everything that’s happening. I include an example below. By this time in the story, Marco has met “Jonah” (the name Jonathan is going by) on the cruise and things are already going way beyond expectations:
A fling, I said. A hot shipboard affair. Blowing off some steam was my plan. Not falling for some sweetheart of a guy. But why not? What am I protecting myself from? The days of strategic relationships are over. I torpedoed that game when I broke it off with Ashley. But having a serious relationship—like something real—wasn’t on the table. Was it?
All I can say is I’ve never talked to anyone but Sophia as much or as freely as I talked to Jonah today. He feels so comfortable—like a comfy pair of slippers or my ratty red sweater I wear at home. Home. That’s the word. He feels like home.
But how can that be? I don’t know the guy. I’ve talked to him for a sum total of six hours. I think—no, I know—he was disappointed when I didn’t pursue something physical tonight. But damn. It’s already gone beyond a quick fuck. I don’t need that kind of action, no matter what I was thinking before I got on the ship. I’ve got Hank, the masseur with the happy endings, for that. And I don’t want to hurt the guy. Jonah. I don’t want to hurt Jonah. There’s something kind of naïve, almost innocent, about him, despite how hot he is. He doesn’t seem very experienced, in sex or relationships. I have to step carefully or this could end up being an unholy mess.
Enough whining, Pellegrini. What’s the game plan? 1. Spend more time with Jonah and get to know him better. 2. ???
Hmm. I’m rarely at such a loss. But maybe that’s what this trip is really about—venturing into unknown territory in more ways than one. Tomorrow we reach the first port of call. I want to take Jonah onto the island and wander the streets. Maybe find a little church. Spending time with him has me wanting to reconnect to my spirituality.
Gratitude: Being in the middle of the ocean. Jonah’s blue eyes. Sophia the magical sister having so much fun. Rest. Renewal. A sweet man to spend time with. It’s enough.
Check out All the Way to Shore today!
Jonathan Vallen has never felt good enough. A gentle musician who loves to garden, he’s woefully unsuited to running Vallen Industries, the family business. When his father hires a hotshot executive, Marco Pellegrini, to save the company, Jonathan moves away and leaves his humiliation behind. A year later and forty pounds lighter, Jonathan runs into Marco on an LGBT cruise. Marco doesn’t recognize him, the sparks fly, and Jonathan pretends to be someone else for the week—Jonah Rutledge—someone good enough to be loved.
Marco Pellegrini has always been driven. He rose from poverty to the pinnacle of business success, and he’ll do anything to protect his reputation—including hiding his bisexuality. Having saved Vallen Industries, he’s weary of the rat race and ready for a more meaningful life. When Marco meets his soul mate for that new life—Jonah Rutledge—on an LGBT cruise, he prepares to stop hiding and start living.
Back on land, the romance crashes when Marco discovers his perfect man is not only a lie but the son of his boss, Frederick Vallen. Jonathan resolves to win Marco back, but Frederick takes vengeful action. Jonathan and Marco must battle their own fears as well as Frederick’s challenge to get to the future that awaits them on the horizon.
For a chance to win an ebook of your choice from my backlist, please comment. Here’s a question or two for you: Have you ever kept a journal? If so, did it help you? If not, do you think you might try?
Thanks, everyone! I look forward to hearing from you and I hope you all enjoy reading All the Way to Shore as much as I enjoyed writing it.
After years of hearing characters chatting away in her head, CJane Elliott finally decided to put them on paper and hasn’t looked back since. A psychotherapist by training, CJane enjoys writing sexy, passionate stories that also explore the human psyche. CJane has traveled all over North America for work and her characters are travelers, too, traveling down into their own depths to find what they need to get to the happy ending.
CJane is an ardent supporter of LGBTQ equality and is particularly fond of coming out stories.
In her spare time, CJane can be found dancing, listening to music, or watching old movies. Her husband and son support her writing habit by staying out of the way when they see her hunched over, staring intensely at her laptop.
November 28, 2016
Well, it’s that time again. I’m C.B. Lewis and on December 2nd, my third novel - Private Truths - is being released.
The story centres on Jack McCall, a veteran working for a veterans’ charity in London, and Edward Marsden, the Viscount of Routhsley, an aristocratic philanthropist. The two men cross paths through Jack’s charity work and are drawn to one another, but due to Edward’s position and the media circus that follows him, things become a lot more complicated than either of them expected.
I have to admit it’s a first for me, doing a old-fashioned romance, but it definitely was fun to develop. I got the idea for Private Truths after one too many TV shows planted ideas for the characters. Originally, it was meant to be a short story for an anthology, but I have this tiny problem with verbosity.
The biggest challenge of the story was writing about a combat veteran who is still dealing with the aftermath of his discharge years on. With family members who have been discharged from the military and who have worked with veterans’ charities, I wanted to be sure to treat the topic with as much sensitivity as I could. Sometimes, it was very intense to write, but I hope I have done it justice.
With my toe-dip into the romance pool completed for now, I’m now back to working on the Out of Time series. The third, fourth and fifth books are all currently in progress. Unfortunately yes, at the same time out of necessity, because writing time-travel is like trying to do a mixed-up mess of jigsaws at the same time in the dark. It’s far too tricky and if anyone ever sees me writing time-travel again after this, you have my permission to bop me with a rolled-up newspaper.
Of course, this means I’m open to suggestions of what to do next, once the time-travel is well and truly out of the way. So what do you think, lovely readers? Historical? Fantasy? Noir? Feel free to plant a seed, because goodness knows, I collect them
If you’re curious about what I’m up to, you can find me here:
Tumblr - http://cb-lewis.tumblr.com/
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/CB-
Check out Private Truths today!
For two role models with their reputations on the line, privacy might be a luxury they can’t afford, and love might be impossible.
After returning from service, Army veteran Jack McCall fought his way back from addiction and joined a charity supporting homeless veterans in London, where he became an inspiration to others. He approaches Edward Marsden, Viscount Routhsley, a known playboy and philanthropist, about sponsorship for his charity. To his surprise, Edward isn’t the shallow pleasure-seeker everyone assumes, and he and Edward share many interests. Little by little, they are drawn together in spite of the different worlds they come from.
But for two men in the public eye, happiness won’t be so easily achieved. Edward fears coming out as gay will shift attention from his charity work, and Jack worries his relationship with the aristocrat will undermine the integrity of his foundation. They come under intense scrutiny, leading to an inevitable clash between Jack and the press who won’t stop harassing them. As what they’ve built comes crashing down, Jack and Edward must make a choice: continue presenting the facade the public expects, or expose the private truths in their hearts so they can be together.
About C.B. Lewis:
C.B. Lewis is small and Scottish and can often be spotted perched around historical monuments with her notepad and pen. She loves to travel and just has one continent left to complete her travel bingo card. There are no cats, no puppies, no significant others, only a lot of ideas and an awful lot of typing. And occasionally, cake. Never forget the cake.
November 28, 2016
Hi all! I’m Meg Harding, and for those who don’t know me, I’m in love with hockey. I was never really into sports before—I’ll casually watch tennis and that’s about it—but when I found hockey, well… it spiraled. So much spiraling. Not only did it provide me with a pastime, but it provided me with endless amusement (seriously, go watch some of the videos these teams post), a community of fellow sports writers and sports fans—a few of which I’m quite close to now, and it’s led to a lot of my recent traveling ventures. I’ve been to Pittsburgh for the World Cup, I went to Canada to watch a preseason game, I moved to Chicago in part so I could see the Blackhawks, and I’ll be heading to St. Louis today, actually, to watch the Dallas Stars!
The sport, and the teams I love, have become a happy place for me. I wasn’t in the best mind frame when I first got into it, not really happy and just overall ugh about everything, and it became something that made me feel better. I’d watch it, I’d read books about it, to get away from reality. Honestly, I read more hockey fanfic than I do anything else. So, naturally, it felt right for me to start incorporating hockey into my books. It’s a subject I know well and one that I get a great deal of pleasure writing about.
Checking it Twice, the third in my Carlisles series, is about a model and a hockey player. At the moment, the NHL has no out players, but they do have things like You Can Play and pride tape. Both of which are mentioned/explained in my novel. I wanted Checking it Twice to feature both sides of the coin, so to speak. The hesitance of being the first, but the support structure that is in place to help those who eventually take the step. It’s not a perfect world, and progress is something that’s still, well, a work in progress. But slowly actions are being taken, and one day… one day they’ll get there. Checking it Twice is just moving that one day to today.
Running with the hockey theme, I’ll be giving away an ebook copy of To Arizona. Want to enter? Share what your “happy place” is. Is it a specific book or author? An actual place? A TV show or sport? What do you turn to for comfort?
Check out Checking It Twice today!
Closeted professional hockey player Eric Belanger is falling hard for an out-and-proud male model. He’s unable to resist Dorian’s charm and pushing personal boundaries he never thought he’d cross. But Dorian is the kind of guy who deserves someone who isn’t afraid to be himself. Eric’s fears about what coming out will do to his career clash with the future he hopes to build with Dorian. He knows he’ll eventually have to make a choice.
Dorian Carlisle knows better than to date a man who wants to keep him a secret, but there’s something about Eric he can’t ignore. So he’ll take the risk, and it’ll be all right, because this isn’t a forever romance. He’s happy to live in the moment. But somehow, at some point, feelings sneak up on him and he’s not okay anymore. At a breaking point, Dorian must also make a decision. Their time together will either be the start of something wonderful or nothing more than a happy memory.
About Meg Harding:
Meg Harding is a graduate of UCF and is completing a master’s program for publishing in the UK. For as long as she can remember, writing has always been her passion, but she had an inability to ever actually finish anything. She’s immensely happy that her inability has fled and looks forward to where her mind will take her next. She’s a sucker for happy endings, the beach, and superheroes. In her dream life, she owns a wildlife conservation and is surrounded by puppies. She’s a film buff, voracious reader, and a massive geek.