Falling in Love by BA Tortuga

June 22, 2017

falling in love

 

Hey y’all! I’m BA Tortuga, resident redneck and lover of…well, my wife.

So I’m supposed to be pimping What the Cat Dragged In, which is a fun as hell shifter romp that has action adventure and comedy and is a goofy, wonderful read, and I love it.

But.

What I want to talk about is falling in love.

You see, I’m writing this blog post on a Wednesday and tomorrow is my wife’s birthday and our 3rd wedding anniversary.

Let me say that again – our third wedding anniversary. You can’t understand how important those words are if you have been in the position where you couldn’t say those words.

Our Wedding Anniversary.

Julia and I met each other 17 years ago. We will have been together for 14 years in September. We have lived together 11 years this month.

She’s my life, my heartbeat, my muse and my whole world.

When we got married, three years ago, it was a simple, quiet ceremony. We had music (I promised her, years ago, that I would sing “The Cowboy In Me” to her. I did.), we had rainbow cupcakes, we had Indian food and rainbow shawls and flip flops. She was (is) the most beautiful woman on earth.

You hear a lot about how romance isn’t real, about how it can’t happen, about how it’s fake and tropey and fluff.

Me? I say look at my wife.

Look at my beautiful wife.

We’ve been married 3 years tomorrow. She’s my happy ending, and she always will be.

I believe in happily ever after with all my heart and I hope you can too.

Much love, y’all.

BA

Check out What the Cat Dragged In today!

 

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Dreamspinner Press
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Blurb:

A Sanctuary Novel

Don’t people know that cats and dogs don’t mix?

Connor Ragbone finds things. Sometimes it’s gold, sometimes jewels, sometimes people. Set in his hippie ways, he never thought he’d find a pack, but with Sam and Gus and their goofy shifter family, he fits right in. Then he finds Brock.

Shifter Brock Herman is undercover alone, working to break up a poaching ring. The last thing he needs is for Connor to wreck his sting. And now the crazy bobcat just won’t go away!

The poachers lead Brock and Connor on a merry chase all over Western Colorado, looking for shifter bears, but it’s a lost pup who brings them back to Nevada and the pack Sam and Gus are building. That’s when Brock has to decide whether he still travels alone or if Connor and his crazy family are where his heart belongs.

This follow-up to Just Like Cats and Dogs is a feel-good shifter romance novel where cats and dogs prove they can be way more than the enemies nature has made them.

 

About BA Tortuga:

Texan to the bone and an unrepentant Daddy’s Girl, BA Tortuga spends her days with her basset hounds and her beloved wife, texting her sisters, and eating Mexican food. When she’s not doing that, she’s writing. She spends her days off watching rodeo, knitting and surfing Pinterest in the name of research. BA’s personal saviors include her wife, Julia Talbot, her best friend, Sean Michael, and coffee. Lots of coffee. Really good coffee.

Having written everything from fist-fighting rednecks to hard-core cowboys to werewolves, BA does her damnedest to tell the stories of her heart, which was raised in Northeast Texas, but has heard the call of the  high desert and lives in the Sandias. With books ranging from hard-hitting GLBT romance, to fiery menages, to the most traditional of love stories, BA refuses to be pigeon-holed by anyone but the voices in her head. Find her on the web at www.batortuga.com

 

Patron: Historical and Paranormal Shenanigans w/ C.B. Lewis

June 20, 2017

Historical & Paranormal Shenanigans

 

Hello again! This is C.B. Lewis and I’m back with my new novella, Patron. You may know my writing from the Out of Time Series or from Private Truths, but Patron is something new and a little bit exciting:

Theodore Wentworth, who possesses little more than a sharp and well-educated mind, is trying to solicit a sponsor for his studies of Greek antiquity by performing recitations at gatherings of collectors. Desperate for luck and better skills in oratory, in jest, he places a coin at the feet of a statue of Hermes. It seems like coincidence when his fortune turns and a gentleman calling himself Alexander becomes his benefactor. Despite his friend John teasing him about it, Theodore continues to offer tokens to Hermes and sinks himself into his study of the classics.

Alexander encourages Theodore’s interest, prompting Theodore to face desires he tried to put aside years before. As Theodore embraces the knowledge, he must also resist his attraction to Alexander—knowing his feelings are a serious crime in Victorian England.

But the secret Alexander keeps will change everything in a love story for the ages, steeped in taboo, temptation, history, and myth.

 

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Yes, I’m doing historical, paranormal shenanigans :) I will freely admit that I’m a giant history nerd. I’ve bounced around many periods over the years and Patron is a union of two of the eras I know best: Victorian and Ancient Greek with a tasty splash of paranormal thrown in for good measure.

I’ve always been kind of fascinated with the Victorian obsession with Ancient Greece. Byron was especially famous for it (among… ahem… other things) and it got me wondering about the next generation on from him, the ones who had all these wealthy and influential Philhellenes to look up to and how someone from lower down the social scale would see them. It was going to start life as a character study and then the plot – and the divine – got in the way and lo, novella!

It’s been a fun respite from the rest of the Out of Time series, which is getting into its final stages, plus now the mythology bug has bitten again, I suspect I may fall back into more historical and mythology-based fiction :)

So back to you, my lovely readers. Which kind of mythology would you love to see incorporated into fiction more often? I know I would definitely love to see more of the Polynesian lore and mythology. Maori mythology alone is fascinating and I’ve barely even dipped my toe in that pool. How about you?

Check out Patron today!

 

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About C.B. Lewis:

A book-lover from infancy, C.B. has been writing and telling stories for as long as she can remember. Based in Edinburgh, she has diverse tastes and will quite happily attempt to write any genre, but always come back to history, fantasy, and sci-fi like an old friend. C. B. Lewis is small and Scottish and can often be spotted perched around historical monuments with her notepad and pen. She has been writing and telling tales for almost as long as she can remember, and has a brain that constantly fizzes with an abundance of ideas. If she’s not working on half a dozen things at once, it should be considered a slow day. She loves to travel and just has one continent left to complete her travel bingo card. A lot of the travel has also been research-based, and if pointed at any historical event, she will research it vociferously, just because she can. Normally, she is based in Edinburgh, where she tends toward the hermit-lifestyle, needing nothing but a kettle, a constant supply of tea, and – of course – the internet. 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.

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Lou Sylvre’s Lamingtons (a yummy New Zealand treat)—The Sunset at Pencarrow blog tour

June 9, 2017

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Hi! I’m Lou Sylvre, and along with co-author Anne Barwell, I’m touring blogs to celebrate the release of our novella, Sunset at Pencarrow, the New Zealand story in Dreamspinner’s World of Love collection. It came out a couple days ago, so if you’re inspired to give it a read after you read the blurb and excerpt and get a look at the gorgeous Reese Dante cover, just follow the buy links below. We also have a Rafflecopter giveaway going on, and that link is coming up, too, as well as a link to the schedule and blogs for the whole tour.

Before I get to that, let me tell you about lamingtons. They are yummy. Well, except I’m not particularly fond of coconut, but the ones I made are the raspberry variety, and that flavor seems to work well with the coconut, so I liked them anyway. And truly, I’ve always wanted to visit New Zealand, but who knows if I’ll ever get there. So bringing a little Kiwi-style to my kitchen—like bringing a little New Zealand into my writer’s life—was a fun exercise.

Although also favored in Australia, even some Australian bloggers mention the New Zealand origins of lamingtons, and in Sunset at Pencarrow, our characters Nate Dunn (New Zealander) and Rusty Beaumont (American) get treated to some by an old friend of Nate’s. Rusty loved them (though the rest of the visit was less than pleasant), so I decided to make some and see what the fuss was all about. Our guys had the chocolate-covered variety, but I opted for the raspberry—only because the other New Zealand treat I made, Afghans, are chocolaty-umptious. (I’m going to blog about making those on Rhys Ford’s blog on the 15th.)

So lamingtons… yes. The recipe I used came from The Kiwi Cook website, and it was pretty straightforward. I only had to convert one measurement—the butter was in grams—and translate a couple words to Americanese.

“Foreign” baking terms translated:

* castor sugar = superfine sugar (not a common household item, but available at the supermarket
* corn flour = cornstarch (I’ll leave it to you to decide which term is more accurate.)
* jelly = gelatin (This one would have thrown me if it weren’t for two things: I’d been watching the Greatest British Baking Show, for one, and for the other… well, jelly in the US, the stuff you spread on toast like jam or preserves, doesn’t come in “packets,” unless you count those little jobbies you get at the diner.)

So, with the decoding done and the ingredients lined up, I set out to make the sponge that forms the basis of the lamington. The recipe says to put the eggs, sugar, and salt into a stand mixer bowl and let the machine whip them on high for fifteen minutes. Well, I don’t have a stand mixer. In my childhood, my mother, the daughter of a baker, would have had me counting hundreds of strokes, beating by hand. This time I used my hand mixer. Obviously I couldn’t measure the other ingredients while doing that, so I’d measured them ahead of time, and folded them in as instructed. The batter was lovely.

My Opa, his second wife, and a customer my mom called, "Just Some Lady" in his bakery. Frankfurt am Mein, c. 1930s.

My Opa, his second wife, and a customer my mom called, “Just Some Lady” in his bakery. Frankfurt am Mein, c. 1930s.

Now, being the granddaughter of a baker, I at one time (in my forties) decided I would really learn to bake a cake, and I got pretty good at it, so I at least had an idea of what things were supposed to look like. That said, I’d never in my life baked a cake using cornstarch rather than flour. The finished product was, basically, a little overbaked. I didn’t let that discourage me though and proceeded to coat them in the raspberry “jelly” mixture, and then the coconut studs, and finally fill the little hummers with whipped cream.

In the end, they looked pretty and even though they were raspberry instead of chocolate, I’ll second Rusty’s declaration: “These… what did you call them? Lamingtons? They’re delicious.”

Thanks, Dreamspinner, for hosting our blog tour, and thank you all for reading. Have you ever eaten foods particular to New Zealand culture? What’s your favorite Kiwi-style dish, or one you’ve heard of that you’d like to try? I’d love to hear about it comments, and that will get you an extra entry in the raffle, as well. Please join Anne and I on our other tour stops, too! To find the schedule and links to the blogs, just click right here.
 

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Description:

Kiwi Nathaniel Dunn is in a fighting mood, but how does a man fight Wellington’s famous fog? In the last year, Nate’s lost his longtime lover to boredom and his ten-year job to the economy. Now he’s found a golden opportunity for employment where he can even use his artistic talent, but to get the job, he has to get to Christchurch today. Heavy fog means no flight, and the ticket agent is ignoring him to fawn over a beautiful but annoying, overly polite American man.

Rusty Beaumont can deal with a canceled flight, but the pushy Kiwi at the ticket counter is making it difficult for him to stay cool. The guy rubs him all the wrong ways despite his sexy working-man look, which Rusty notices even though he’s not looking for a man to replace the fiancé who died two years ago. Yet when they’re forced to share a table at the crowded airport café, Nate reveals the kind heart behind his grumpy façade. An earthquake, sex in the bush, and visits from Nate’s belligerent ex turn a day of sightseeing into a slippery slope that just might land them in love.

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

[Rusty] had to pay attention to his footing now. The trail was truly steep—muddy and slippery in places.

Immediately on thinking those words, slippery in places, he felt like it was about something besides the muddy ground of the Orongorongo forest. He associated the phrase with his own intentions, coming out here with a man who—okay, I’ll admit he pulls at me like sex on toast. If he wasn’t so sure he didn’t want anybody, he’d think he wanted Nate. And yes, he knew he was skirting the truth.

Is that a rock in my shoe? Hard to think about anything else, really, with that irritant. He needed to do something about it. “Nate, hold up. I have a—”

A rolling blast of thunder cut his words short. In his mind’s eye, he saw explosions all around him in a cornfield around a sleepy, dusty town in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. But he’d come a long way since leaving that year of his life behind, and he knew almost instantly that he wasn’t there; the sound he heard wasn’t war.

“Fuck! Earthquake,” Nate said.

That made perfect sense—especially as the ground suddenly lurched beneath Rusty’s feet, knocking him off-balance. He fell forward, and gravity carried him downslope against Nate, who went down under him. Instinctively, he tried to shield Nate’s head from hitting the hard ground, cradling it against his chest with his hands. The packs on their backs weren’t bulky, but were enough of a lump to keep them from rolling far. Instead they slid, and by the time they came to a stop, they’d nearly reached the river.

Rusty lay still, concentrating on steadying his breath, but when he realized his body lay spread over Nate’s like butter on bread, his heart took off racing all over again. Trying to rein in his senses—ignore the feel of the man, the scent of him, the rush of his own blood heating his veins—he pushed up onto his elbows.

“Are you all right?” he asked.

“Yeah. Dandy.”

For a limited time, get 30% off at Dreamspinner Press with code PENCARROW at checkout. Here are some buy links:

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Amazon
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And don’t forget to enter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Mood Music: Writings Playlists and Setting the Tone w/ L.A. Merrill

June 8, 2017

mood music

 

My life has always had a soundtrack. My mother sang Beatles’ songs as lullabies; my sister and I listened to endless OBC albums on our brown plastic Fisher-Price record player. As a teenager, I would spend hours trawling through the radio stations late at night, seeing what I could hear, what words and music could keep me company. Christian allegory radio plays; experimental orchestral suites; French-Canadian car ads and dirge-like love songs about fisherfolk.

The first album I ever bought was KT Tunstall’s Eye to the Telescope. This was quickly followed by Sara Barielles’s Little Voice, and Brandi Carlile’s Give Up the Ghost. I exhausted the cd sections at the library, finding Ingrid Michaelson, Regina Spektor, Carole King, and Katie Melua. I devoured music, and it accompanied everything I did—washing dishes, homework, daydreaming on the kitchen floor about the romantic life I would lead in a Scottish island castle all my own.

The inevitable progression of growing up surrounded by music and books was that I would either start writing stories or making music of my own. I did neither of these things in any kind of a normal, expected way. I didn’t teach myself guitar and write songs about feminism—I joined a tiny DIY opera company. I didn’t write my way into an MFA—I waited until I was bedridden with autoimmune disease and then started scribbling gay romances and chucking them into the void.

Music remained constant. The music itself changed and morphed and expanded to fill different corners of my life, but music was always, will always be there. Hymns and spirituals, opera choruses and classic rock. And then a whole new area opened up: THE WRITING PLAYLIST.

I’d always listened to music when I wrote anyway, but it was usually familiar, repetitive classical pieces, used to build a wall of sound in place of a room of my own. A young woman on the NaNoWriMo message boards introduced me to the concept of listening to music that evoked your story; character music, leit motifs to help structure and solidify the story in your mind.

Now I usually pick a couple albums that remind me of the story I’m trying to tell, songs with a soul sound I want to echo, a kind of musical subtext. For my latest novella, Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch, I went back to one of my first (and most constant) musical loves, Brandi Carlile. I don’t think there’s a single one of her albums I haven’t loved, from The Story up through The Firewatcher’s Daughter. I collected all of them into one gigantic playlist and hit shuffle every time I sat down to write about my Montana men. Falling into a difficult but ultimately rewarding love; fucking up and making amends; finding ways to be who you are come hell or high water—this is what her music says to me. It is strength and beauty in variety and grace, and there’s an underlying respect for nature and a higher power. Her music has held me up through many rough patches in my life so far, and it bolstered this story that I didn’t think I was going to finish, until suddenly, I did.

Now I’m deep into writing a Hanukkah story about a man whose ordered life starts unravelling at the edges until everything is a tangled mess—but at the calm center of it all are eight mysterious gifts and a scatterbrained scholar who wants to show our hero the magnificent, beautiful chaos of the cosmos. I think this calls for some Beethoven, Coldplay, and Of Monsters and Men’s My Head is an Animal. What are you listening to? Are you a creative person? What do you listen to while you work, or are you a fan of the sound of silence? Leave a comment below and tell me! I’m always on the lookout for new music—you never know, the right song might strike the right note and tell a story all its own

 

Check out Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch today!

 

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Blurb:

         David Marks is looking for the perfect place to film his new web series and recover from his latest failed relationship. When reclusive writer Michael Sharp opens his Montana ranch to paying guests, David knows he’s found the right place—but he doesn’t expect to find Mr. Right too.

         Forty years ago, Michael Sharp’s father was murdered in front of him. No one believed a six-year-old boy’s testimony against the powerful Carver brothers. For years Michael has lived in self-imposed exile, the only living witness who can bring down the Carver criminal empire. But now the money is running out, and he’s forced to play host to a troupe of temperamental web actors and their energetically attractive director in order to stay alive.

         The Carvers aren’t about to stand for rebellion. Michael has outlived his usefulness. Now Michael and David have to find a way to end this fight once and for all, finding justice for Michael’s father and meeting David’s funding deadline—all before one or both of them ends up dead.

 

Author photo

 About the Author:

         L.A. Merrill is a tiny blonde woman who loves a good story. She has worked as a tour guide and an assistant stage director, and spent one memorable summer as a camp counselor. After five years in vocal performance, production work, and arts education, she now writes full-time. Her work has appeared in Kansas City Voices magazine, on the YouTube series The Blank Scene, and online. Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch is L.A.’s fourth story with Dreamspinner Press, and her first published novella. (There’s an unpublished novella, about murderous husbands and Scottish ghosts, written when she was thirteen, that is sitting in a file at home. It will likely never see the light of day.)

         An avid knitter, she has yet to follow a pattern and has made some interestingly shaped hats as a result. L.A. makes handknit and crocheted blankets and hats for local charities, as well as leading a LGBT+ writers group in her hometown. She lives with her family in the Midwest, where she can usually be found reading, writing, and making things up as she goes along. Follow her on Twitter for feminism and fangirling at @la_mer92

 

Julia Talbot’s Top Ten Cowboy Moments

June 6, 2017

Julia Talbot's Top Ten (1)

 

Hey y’all! I’m Julia, and I’m chatting about Riding the Circuit, the third in the Riding Cowboy Flats series. This is an all new novella, and I love Matt and Frost so much. They’re such guys, you know. Just regular Joes making it work.

Anyway, I decided since Frost is a rodeo man, I would do my top ten cowboy moments. I’ve had a lot, from rodeo and bullriding events to just being at my wife’s daddy’s ranch. So here we go, counting down.

10. Watching my wife string fence with her daddy. In yoga pants and flip flops. With the pit bull by her side, killing field mice. It doesn’t get a whole lot more Western than that, y’all.

9. My mom taking us to rodeo practice at NMSU when I was a kid. The college has a rodeo team.

8. Watching cattle drives down the main street. They do it for tourists at the Stockyards in Fort Worth. They still do it for work in Collbran, Colorado and a hundred other tiny towns from Texas to Montana

7. Benson Mule Days in North Carolina. I know, right? NC? But there were mule races and that was harsh. Those boys cowboyed up.

6. Watching my Grandpa Blair ride. He was a cowboy, for sure. He was a water commissioner on Grand Mesa in Colorado, and he spent weeks on horseback, checking water quality.

5. PBR Bullrider Guilherme Marchi recognizing us at events and making the other fans mad by calling us by name…

4. The PBR finals in Las Vegas. The meet and greet the year before Adriano Moraes retired was epic. Chris Shivers, Mike White, Justin McBride, Greg Potter, JW Hart, Ty Murray, Rob Smets… Y’all look them up. EPIC

3. My BIL Jeremy breaking his neck playing redneck polo. Take a watermelon and a stick. Every time you hit the melon, take a drink. Fall off in a ditch and fracture a vertebra. Go back to work three weeks later, climbing cell towers in your halo brace… I never said cowboys were bright.

2. Being told by my brother that a calf can’t buck you off if you sit backward and hold its tail. No. No, it can’t. It will just turn you everywhichways but loose.

1. Cheyenne Frontier Days. The biggest outdoor rodeo in the States and the Daddy of ‘em all. Bonus points because I got to hear George Strait sing I Can Still Make Cheyenne there. I cried like a baby.

Thanks for letting me babble! Now go read Riding the Circuit. Shoo.

XXOO

Julia

Check out Riding the Circuit today!

 

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Blurb:
Riding Cowboy Flats: Book Three

Rodeo cowboy Frost Barton spends most of his time on tour, and that’s the way he likes it. But when his dad dies suddenly, Frost returns to southern New Mexico to attend the funeral and help his mom decide what to do with their small family ranch. Frost is already considering retiring from bull riding and planting his itchy feet in the ground. Meeting horse trainer Matt Morales just adds another pull in that direction, though Frost still isn’t sure he’s ready to give up the circuit—even if Matt makes settling down look mighty tempting.

Matt is old enough to know better, but he falls for Frost anyway. They only have so much time to spend together before Frost goes back on tour, but Matt believes they might have something special. He keeps the home fires burning while Frost earns his living, but Matt hopes he can convince Frost to come home—to stay.

 

Author Bio:

Stories that leave a mark. Julia Talbot loves romance across all the genders and genres, and loves to write about people working to see past the skin they’re in to love what lies beneath. Julia Talbot lives in the great mountain and high desert Southwest, where there is hot and cold running rodeo, cowboys, and everything from meat and potatoes to the best Tex-Mex. A full time author, Julia has been published by Dreamspinner and Changeling Press among many others. She believes that everyone deserves a happy ending, so she writes about love without limits, where boys love boys, girls love girls, and boys and girls get together to get wild, especially when her crazy paranormal characters are involved. She also writes BDSM and erotic romance as Minerva Howe. Find Julia at @juliatalbot on Twitter, or at www.juliatalbot.com “The mountains are calling, and I must go”

www.juliatalbot.com
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Romantic Resort w/ Ari McKay

June 1, 2017

Romantic Resort

 

Hello, everyone! Ari here, and I’m so very glad you decided to drop by to spend a few minutes with me on the release day for our new Dreamspun Desire story, Breaking Bonds! This is the second book we’ve written featuring one of the Walker boys, from our big family of Texans who love food, family, and romance, and we hope you’ll enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed writing it!

I probably tend to get carried away with my excitement over the stories McKay and I write, but like many authors, we put so much of ourselves into our stories that we can’t help but become attached to them. I found myself more than a little attached to Liam Walker, our MC who takes a break from the cut throat competition of the New York culinary scene to try to get back his sense of perspective. The place he chooses to do that is a fictional resort called The Overlook which happens to be set in a very real place – Maggie Valley, North Carolina.

I’m not a professional chef, although I do love to cook and have a fond wish to someday own a bakery. But one thing I brought to this story was my experience with the food service industry. I spent several years while I was in school working at a country club in Miami, where my cousin was the maitre d’. We catered parties of up to seven hundred people in the big ballroom, and so I became intimately familiar with how big commercial establishments are run. The executive chef of the place was a large, loud, demanding man whom we all called Chef Ray. He was a perfectionist in all things, and while the catering staff were mostly teenagers like myself, we learned quickly to adhere to his standards or risk a tongue lashing that could reduce anyone – the boys included – to tears. There’s a little of Chef Ray in Liam, I have to admit, and while I’m sure Chef Ray has passed on by now, I hope he wouldn’t mind.

Liam was interesting to write because he has so much drive and determination, and knows exactly where he’s going and how he’s going to get there. Or he does until he meets a certain dark haired, dark eyed resort owner who needs help, and that throws a bit of a curve into all his carefully laid plans. But love has a tendency to do that, doesn’t it? That’s the core of Liam’s conflict, because he learns that the issues he had thought were so overwhelming in New York suddenly mean nothing in the face of finding someone he really desires and connects with, someone he comes to realize that he wants more than he wanted his career. And yet he isn’t free to just walk away, either. I’m sure a lot of us have been caught in a similar situation, torn between desire and obligation, between love and duty. It’s a hard place to be in, as Liam discovers, and no matter what choice you make, you feel like it could be the wrong one.

Fortunately for Liam, his personal happily-ever-after was assured, but it doesn’t always work out like that in real life, alas. But that’s one of the wonderful things about fiction — you can use your own experiences, and yet make sure the outcomes are everything you want them to be.

So now I want you to share with me! Tell me what real life experience you have that you think would make an interesting story? Who knows, maybe our next story we’ll be asking for your input!

 

Check out Breaking Bonds today!

 

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Blurb:

From the frying pan into the fire.

After a critic’s review attacks both Chef Liam Walker’s culinary skills and his personal life, Liam can no longer take the heat of the cutthroat New York City restaurant scene. He needs to get out of the kitchen—at least long enough to cool down and regroup.

At the Overlook Resort in North Carolina, Liam meets owner Carter Galloway. Carter has a passion for the hospitality business to rival Liam’s own, and it’s not hard to see where their shared interests—and attraction—could lead. But Carter has no interest in a fling, and Liam has no intention of walking away from the career he fought so hard for. If they want a taste of happiness together, they’ll have to find the courage to break the bonds threatening to pull them apart.

 

About Ari McKay:

Ari McKay is the professional pseudonym for Arionrhod and McKay, who have been writing together for over a decade. Their collaborations encompass a wide variety of romance genres, including contemporary, fantasy, science fiction, gothic, and action/adventure. Their work includes the Blood Bathory series of paranormal novels, the Herc’s Mercs series, as well as two historical Westerns: Heart of Stone and Finding Forgiveness. When not writing, they can often be found scheming over costume designs or binge watching TV shows together.

Arionrhod is a systems engineer by day who is eagerly looking forward to (hopefully) becoming a full-time writer in the not-too-distant future. Now that she is an empty-nester, she has turned her attentions to finding the perfect piece of land to build a fortress in preparation for the zombie apocalypse, and baking (and eating) far too many cakes.

McKay is an English teacher who has been writing for one reason or another most of her life. She also enjoys knitting, reading, cooking, and playing video games. She has been known to knit in public. Given she has the survival skills of a gnat, she’s relying on Arionrhod to help her survive the zombie apocalypse.
Visit Ari on:
Website: arimckay.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Ari-Mckay/266185570179748
Twitter: @AriMcKay1

The Image of Old Town Stone Acres with Pat Henshaw + Giveaway

May 31, 2017

 

the image of old town stone acres

 

Hi, I’m Pat Henshaw, the author of the Foothills Pride contemporary gay romance series. Today’s the release day for Frank at Heart, #6 in the series. Like the other five novellas, Frank can be read as a standalone, so you don’t have to have read any of the other books to enjoy this one.

When I first realized I was writing a series about a fictional Gold Rush town that was suffering growing pains as it entered the 21st century, I had a hazy idea of what the place looked like.

My husband and I liked to get away whenever we could and explore the Sierra Nevada foothills outside Sacramento where we live. There we would eat lunch in small town cafés and stroll around community parks which often sported elaborate bandstands.

As is the fictional town of Stone Acres, these communities were struggling with how much of the past to keep and how much to let go when the year 2000 rolled around.

Should they keep the wooden sidewalks, the hitching posts, and the crumbling facades? Or should they rebuild and refurbish? Do they appeal to tourists’ interest in history or outdoors activities?

When it came time to work with an artist to design a cover, I was at a loss. I knew I wanted something that reflected both the old and the new. But most gay romances I’d read had a naked or near naked torso and nothing much else on the cover.

While that would have been an easy solution, it wouldn’t have reflected what the books were about. As a reader, I think it’s important that the cover give an idea or a feeling about the book. Sure, I can get this from the blurb, but the first visual impression is important to me too.

Fortunately, through the randomness of draw, my cover was assigned to AngstyG. She not only held my hand through the process, but understood how to meld the idea of old meets new in all the covers she’s designed for the series.

In fact, we’re so in tune that the cover for Frank at Heart was perfect from the first submission. I couldn’t (and didn’t) change a thing—including the bird on the roof of the hardware store. (I love the whimsy of it.)

The covers follow a simple pattern, but even using that and a similar color palette, they all reflect their stories. Not only are the central characters depicted, but a building like one found in typical Foothills towns and images important to the story are included.

AngstyG is so good that after Redesigning Max released, a gay friend of mine asked to be introduced to one of the cover models. I had to tell my friend that not only did the guy not exist, but that, as AngstyG put it, he was Frankensteined, meaning she’d built his image from photos of four different men.

As an artist she’s so good that the jagged scar Adam from When Adam Fell got as a teen looks and feels real even though it’s just smoke and mirrors, as she described it.

The publishing process includes so much more than my writing a book and having editors who smooth it out. So if you feel as if you’ve met these characters as you begin reading the stories, part of the reason is that AngstyG has set you up to like them.

It’s been my privilege to work with all the people at Dreamspinner in getting my books to see the light of day, but one of the people I’m particularly grateful to is AngstyG.

Do you have a favorite book cover that you think wonderfully illustrates its story? Please share it with us below in order to win a copy of one of my backlist titles.

 

 Check out Frank at Heart today!

 

FrankAtHeart_postcard_front_DSP

Dreamspinner Press
Amazon
Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble
Google Play

 

Blurb: 

Everything about thirty-five-year-old Stone Acres hardware store owner Frank McCord is old-fashioned—from his bow tie and overalls to the way he happily makes house calls to his dreams of lasting romance, true love, and marriage. Frank’s predecessors have run the store and been mainstays in the small California town for over a century. While genial Frank upholds tradition and earns the respect of friends and neighbors, he fears he’s too dull and old to attract a husband.

Then handsome thirty-six-year-old electronic games designer Christopher Darling and his fifteen-year-old son, Henry, come into his life. Christopher has everything Frank could want in a potential partner: charm, kindness, and compatibility. Also, he’s a terrific father to Henry. When their Stone Acres home turns out to be uninhabitable, Frank offers the Darlings temporary lodging in his ancestral farmhouse, where he and his tenant Emil reside. Since Emil thinks Frank is his, sparks fly. Suddenly, Frank’s monotonous life promises to explode with love and threatens to change him forever.

 

FrankAD22

 

Author Bio:

Pat Henshaw, author of the Foothills Pride Stories, has spent her life surrounded by words:  Teaching English composition at the junior college level; writing book reviews for newspapers, magazines, and websites; helping students find information as a librarian; and promoting PBS television programs.

Pat was born and raised in Nebraska where she  promptly left the cold and snow after college, living at various times in Texas, Colorado, Northern Virginia, and Northern California.  Pat enjoys travel, having visited Mexico, Canada, Europe, Nicaragua, Thailand, and Egypt, and Europe, including a cruise down the Danube.

Her triumphs are raising two incredible daughters who daily amaze her with their power and compassion.  Fortunately, her incredibly supportive husband keeps her grounded in reality when she threatens to drift away while writing fiction.

Author media links:

Website: http://patbooked.blogspot.com
Website: www.pathenshaw.com (under construction)
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pat.henshaw.10
Twitter: https://twitter.com/phenshaw
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Pat-Henshaw/e/B00BPDEDEA/
Email: patoisca@yahoo.com

 

 

How Was Secured and Free Born? w/ Z. Allora

May 30, 2017

secured and free

 

 

Greetings! Thank you Dreamspinner Press for allowing me to share some information about how Secured and Free was born.

To celebrate the release of Secured and Free I’ll be giving away 3 e-books, 2 audiobooks of Lock and Key (Book #1 of Entwined Dreams) and a $20 gift card to Dreamspinner Press. Details below.

 

How was Secured and Free born?

Orion Gordon, one of Secured and Free’s main characters had a secondary part in Lock and Key. One of my critique partners (Danny Brüggemann) hadn’t even finished reading the beta read for Lock and Key and she private messaged me on Facebook.

Danny: “So Orion’s story is next.”

Z: (my head screamed YES, but that wasn’t the original order of the story) Um, no. Why?

Danny: His story is next.

Z: … No, actually Xander’s—

Danny: Orion gets a happy ending, so who is it? Marcus? Although what about Hunter? (she completely ignored my attempts at denials) Marcus? It’s Marcus, right? But Hunter…

Z: … (the plot bunny threw a lightning bolt at my head) Damn you!

Danny: Why not—

Z: Don’t say it. I know…

Danny: (LOL) Orion does need a village just ask Xander.

Z: (growled & pouted)

Then I did what was destined to be and wrote Secured and Free.

And that’s how my story priority order changed, and how Orion got his happily ever after in book two of Entwined Dreams.

I want to share some excerpts from Lock and Key as well as Secured and Free. I think this will help remind you where his path took him.

This first snippet is when meet Orion in Chapter 2 of Lock and Key (Entwined Dreams #1). Since the main character, Zack Davis is 18 years old I show him dipping his toes into the BDSM pond. Chapter 2 is a BDSM 101 class and basic demonstration.

 

Excerpt of Lock and Key:

Once the chuckles and laughter died down, Jason continued. “As you can see, we are pretty relaxed here. Still, Orion and I have talked about what we’ll do tonight. We both worked out the expectations of this scene. He’s shared with me his limits, and I’ve shared mine.”

A murmur raced through the crowd.

Jason grinned. “Ah, I see. You don’t think someone in the Dominant role has limits or should explain those to the sub?”

No one said anything.

“Orion?”

Orion shrugged and said, “I wanted more intensity with the impact play than Master Jason was willing to give me. He told me his limits, and I need to respect them or find a new play partner.”

Zack understood that kind of raw had-to-have-it need.

Jason nodded. “Neither partner should be forced into a place they’re not comfortable in. I’m not saying limits shouldn’t be pushed and boundaries can’t be adjusted, but there’s a process… a negotiation for that.”

Orion frowned but didn’t say more.

Later on, in Book #1 we find out Orion’s need for rougher play had gotten out of hand.

 

Excerpt from Lock and Key:

There was a brief silence, which Tony broke. “I want to continue discussing abuse versus discipline.” Everyone glanced around them until all gazes fell on Orion Gordon.

Zack had never played much with the researcher because he couldn’t meet Orion’s need for pain. Though they’d had plenty of discussions about the progress being made in cancer research.

Fuck, no. Zack did recall he’d noticed Orion with more than one blackened eye; the guy had said it was a work-related injury. Shit! Today the guy sported two black eyes, a swollen cheek, and a split lip. How had he missed the way Orion flinched when someone made quick movements around him?

Orion shrugged but wouldn’t meet anyone’s stare. “I don’t see the big deal. They’re mostly the same thing.”

What? He couldn’t be serious. Zack had to say something.

“Discipline is what a submissive submits to in order to learn, grow, make atonement, or find subspace. Abuse is nonconsensual and serves no purpose other than to vent anger or torment another in a non-agreed-upon way.”

When Orion didn’t look at Zack, he continued, “Even if you agreed to discipline, you didn’t agree to the willful disregard of your personal welfare.”

There was silence until someone across the room said, “Safe, sane, and consensual, right?”

“Or RACK.” Zack threw the term out there.

Someone new asked, “What’s RACK?”

Joey Junior cleared his throat and got everyone’s attention. “Risk-Awareness and Consensual Kink. Nothing is completely safe. Driving a car isn’t completely safe, but we have seat belts and airbags. It’s about being aware of the risks and trying to minimize the potential issues.”

Tony asked, “I never understood why consensual kink instead of sane?”

“Well, think about it. Do you want someone not in the lifestyle telling you what sane is? Because I’d bet their definition is different than ours. If I give consent to explore breath play, I don’t want someone telling me that I’m insane. That’s between me and my Master.” Joey Junior glanced around the group.

Many gazes drifted back to the man who had everyone’s worry.

Orion peered up with a glint of defiance. “What if the play was consensual?”

“Was it?” Zack doubted Orion had given consent.

Orion folded his arms and pressed his lips together, which reopened his lip.

Xander, Orion’s best friend, pulled a tissue from his pocket and dabbed at the blood.

Orion grabbed the tissue and snarled, “Don’t. I’ve got this.”

Zack shook his head. “I find it difficult to imagine a contract or a discussion between a Master and sub, or even a slave, requesting consent to beat someone in the face.”

Tears sprang to Orion’s eyes, and he glanced away from the group.

Zack surveyed the other subs. Shit. Entwined was meant as a safe haven, but it happened even here. He’d never wanted anyone to experience the betrayal and violation he had. “Is this something that happens frequently?”

No one would answer until Sam said, “On occasion. Even with all the members being vetted, a couple Doms who don’t understand power exchange make it through.”

“What happens?” Jesus! Zack dug his fingernails into the chair, but he kept his voice even.

“Usually word gets out, and no one will scene with them, so they vanish.”

“Who did this to you, Orion?” Zack demanded, but the guy stubbornly refused to speak. Well, fuck no. Not happening again.

“Do you want that to happen to someone else? Do you want this guy to hook up with Xander? Or anyone else?” Zack wanted to wring the guy’s neck for protecting someone who needed his ass kicked.

“You know I like it rough.” Orion’s admission dared those around him to say something about it.

“There’s a difference between rough and out of control. A Dom should never be out of control. No one should be abused under the guise of BDSM play.”

Xander said, “Orion, don’t make me. You should say who, or I will.” He stroked his friend’s hair.

Orion pressed his lips together into a frown, but ultimately, he coughed up the name. “Dom Henry.”

“That fucking bastard,” one of the subs three seats away from Zack yelled out. “I’d like to explain the difference between discipline and abuse to him.”

Which brings us to the first chapter of Secured and Free. A few months have passed. Orion’s trust has so shaken he can’t even do a light scene.

 

Chapter 1 Excerpt Secured and Free:

“Cancer!” Orion couldn’t breathe.

Stop! Stop! Can’t be tied!

Everything needed to cease. Squeezing his eyes shut, he called out, “Cancer!”

The ropes vanished from around his wrists as if they had never been there.

It was no good. What kind of submissive was he if surrender was beyond him?

No! Trust. Can’t. No!

Zack spoke to him, but Orion couldn’t piece together the meaning of his words.

Andrew’s deep dominant voice cut through the building terror.

“Orion, I’m wrapping a blanket around you, and then I’m moving us to the platform.”

Blanket. Yes. Hide. No more.

Flat on his back, Orion burrowed into the warmth, hoping it might protect him.

Stupid. Idiot. I’m good for nothing. I can’t even—

Wanting it all to stop, he pressed closer to the body generating heat. The scene ended like it had too often in the recent past. There was a time Orion would have cut out his tongue rather than use a safeword. But now he used the word to make everything end before anything could even start.

“You’re with us. I’m lying next to you.” Zack’s words comforted him. Orion held on as Zack wrapped his arm lightly around Orion’s middle. Andrew stroked his hair. “You’re safe, Orion. Just breathe. Draw air in through your nose and out through your mouth. Inhale and exhale nice and slow.”

Orion gasped.

“Easy. In through your nose and out through your mouth,” Andrew instructed again.

Failed. Again. Don’t deserve to be held and petted. Can’t even breathe right.

The weight of disappointment threatened to bury him further in the abyss. Everything he believed about himself was… a lie. He focused all his energy on catching some air. Following these simple directions was the least he could do.

Inhale. Exhale. Even breaths. There. He had his respiration under control. His heart would slow eventually.

How many times had he been in one of these back rooms of Entwined? Probably countless times since he’d joined the BDSM club right after college. This room was like all the other nonthemed rooms. It was white with a padded platform for various activities. A supply cabinet stood in the corner to assist a Dom who needed to purchase something. Eyehooks decorated the walls at various heights, and it also contained a sofa, a chair, a bench, towels, blankets, and a fridge with water and juice. It had just about everything a Dom or a submissive required to live out their BDSM dreams.

Blinking to clear his vision, Orion muttered, “I thought I’d be able to handle straightforward bondage.”

Damn it. How things had changed. In the past, he’d never sought to play with either of these two men because they weren’t willing to give him the harsh treatment he needed.

Now, look at him. Had they even gotten a chance to secure the first knot on the rope before he called an end to the scene?

Was he that damaged?

To enter the giveaway: Simply leave a comment about the type of BDSM you enjoy reading or participating in. (Winners will be picked June 5th)

Many hugs,

Z. Allora

Check out Secured and Free today!

 

SecuredandFree_postcard_front_DSP

ebook
paperback

 

Entwined Dreams: Secured and Free Blurb

An abusive Dom robbed Orion Gordon of his love of BDSM, destroying his confidence and leaving him unsure he’ll ever find peace through submission to another. Still, deep inside, his longing continues.

Marcus Sadir loves Hunter Dixon, yet can’t be the one thing Hunter truly desires: a sub to control. And Hunter can’t find satisfaction in the sadistic aspects of the BDSM lifestyle, while Marcus thrives on inflicting and sharing pain. When Marcus convinces Hunter they should find a third on a permanent basis, they discover Orion might be the key to bridging their differences and joining them on a deeper level.

But they must help Orion move past his trauma enough for him to enjoy new facets of BDSM and kink again. Their journey toward becoming whole—together—won’t be without challenges. Can Orion trust enough to try again?

 

Bio:

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

To contact Z. Allora:

E-mail: Z.AlloraHappyEndings@gmail.com
FACEBOOK:   Z Allora Allora
http://zallora.blogspot.com
www.zallorabooks.com

Athletic Idols w/ Sean Michael

May 23, 2017

ATHLETIC IDOLS

 

Hello, Dreamspinners.

My latest book with DSP is a reprint about a former Olympic swimmer and his coach. And there’s a reason why Justin is a swimmer. Out of all the summer Olympic sports, I have to admit that the swimming, specifically men’s swimming, is my favorite. It has been for a long time, too.

I can remember when I was younger, cheering on Victor Davis and Mark Tewksbury – both Canadian swimmers who competed I the 1980 and 1990s – and how upsetting it was when Victor Davis was killed. I still get excited when I see Mark Tewksbury either participating in Olympic coverage or hosting a TV show.

Then came the Michael Phelps era. How can you not love watching someone who so excels at what they do? Nobody else swims like him and he’s left an amazing legacy of 28 Olympic medals, most of them gold. I have to admit that the Olympic men’s swimming isn’t going to feel the same in 2020.

I shared mine, so tell me, what’s your favorite summer Olympic sport?

 

Sean Michael
Smut fixes everything

 

Check out Golden today!

 

Golden_postcard_front_DSP

 

Dreamspinner Press
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Kobo

 

Blurb:

After winning Olympic gold four years ago, Justin retired from swimming, and he’s been floundering ever since. The Fourth of July finds him contemplating doing something stupid, so Justin calls up his former coach, Chris Jarvis. To his surprise, Coach answers.

When Justin retired, Chris cut all ties with the swimmer he’d fallen in love with. He never wanted Justin to love him just because it was easy. But he’s been waiting for Justin to reach out, and he’ll gladly take Justin back into his life.

When he finds out Justin is drowning in a pool of self-doubt and the belief that his happy years are behind him, Chris realizes he made a mistake letting go so suddenly, and that Justin needs structure and a firm, dominant hand to keep him on the right track. It’s time to remedy his error—as long as he can convince Justin that it’s really love.

 

Excerpt:

Chris pulled up in front of the apartment complex where Justin lived. Sure enough, there he was, lounging against the side of the building. Chris waved, engine idling.

Tall and blond, the all-American looks marred only by the red nose that proved there’d been too much drinking, Justin came over, smiling crookedly. “Coach.”

“Hey, kid. Get on in.” He smiled, let himself admire a little. Justin wasn’t his swimmer anymore; he was allowed to notice.

Justin slid in, buckled up, his blue eyes fixed on Chris. “How’s it going?”

“It’s going. How about you?” He headed back out into the road, headed for the all-night Denny’s.

“I….” He could hear Justin’s swallow. “It’s going.”

Uh-huh. Drinking. Calling him out of the blue. It wasn’t going great, if he was any judge. And when it came to Justin, he was. He’d had to be a hardass with Justin after the kid retired, simply because Justin needed to find his way. Chris hadn’t been angry when Justin announced his retirement. The kid had gone from the games to surgery and had spent months rehabbing. The time had been right for Justin to stop competing.

Bio:

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:

WEBSITE: http://www.seanmichaelwrites.com
BLOG: http://seanmichaelwrites.blogspot.ca
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/SeanMichaelWrites/
TWITTER: seanmichael09
INSTAGRAM: seanmichaelpics

A Day in Pamplona with Laura Bailo

May 23, 2017

a day in pamplona

 

By the end of The Sun Still Rises, Erik has fallen in love with Pamplona just as he has fallen in love with David. But since the San Fermín festival is not the best time to walk around and see everything Pamplona has to offer, I thought I could take you along on a visit. I’m going to show you three of my favorite places in this city. Are you ready?

I love our walls, they were built between the 16th and 17th centuries, and they’re some of the best preserved ones in all of Europe. Nowadays they’re the perfect place for a walk and leisure activities.

 

 

The city also organizes some activities around them, like the vertical dancing or the “walls under the moon light,” during which the wall is illuminated by candlelight and there’s music, food and drinks.

Then, inside the walls, there’s the old city itself, with its narrow streets and colorful houses. If you walk around quietly, you can almost hear the houses speak to you. Between my favorite streets there’s the one that leads to the Cathedral, called Calle Curia. The names come from calle de los curas, which would roughly translate as Priests’ street. And I just told you this one is the street that goes up to the cathedral, so you can probably guess where the name comes from. It’s a narrow street that’s shadowed almost all the time, but the view from one of its ends is just amazing, especially if you manage to see it when there are still few people around.

And then of course there’s the cathedral itself, although the exterior is nothing to write home about, in my opinion. I believe Victor Hugo once described it as having “donkey ears”. I probably wouldn’t go that far, but I do believe the exterior doesn’t do the rest of it justice.

Of course, having said that, now you’re all dying to see the interior, aren’t you? I guess the last thing you expect after seeing the neoclassical facade is to find a gothic interior.

But that’s not all. I don’t have pictures, but you can also see the patio, the small monastery where the monks that tended to the cathedral lived, and the kitchen, which has a medieval fireplace, one of the few you can find in Europe. All in all, it’s one of the biggest and most complete religious complexes in both Spain and the continent. So don’t let the exterior discourage you and come inside. You can go up to one of the bell towers too, and I promise you the view is worth it.

So tell me, have I convinced you? Are you writing Pamplona down as one of your possible travel destinations? If you are, you can always let me know, and I’ll gladly send you information. I could even give you a tour!

Check out The Sun Still Rises today!

 

SunStillRises[The]RGB_postcard_front_DSP

 

Blurb:

Erik’s father lived for Pamplona’s yearly festival and the running of the bulls. Now he’s gone, and Erik flies to Pamplona on a whim to see the festival his father loved—without booking a room first. He’s looking at sleeping on the ground until friendly David from the tourism office offers to share his home.

When Erik realizes he trusts David, that he might even be willing to face his anxiety to get to know David better, he begins to understand what this trip could mean. Pamplona is even more beautiful when seen through David’s eyes, and Erik might have traveled around the world just to find himself. But can he hold on to his newfound confidence—and to David—when it’s time to go home?

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

 

About Laura Bailo:

Laura Bailo is a veterinarian and a teacher in training who can do surgical sutures but can’t sew on a button to save her life.
She lives in Spain with far too many books and boxes full of notebooks. She loves exploring the narrow streets of Pamplona and she’s known to have gotten lost in her own city. She loves reading, singing and trying out new cooking recipes, and if she’s feeling adventurous she may try to do all of these at the same time.
She loves hearing from people and you can find her at:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/laura.bailo
Twitter: @LauraBailo
Website: laurabailo.wordpress.com