HOME TEAM: Hot Hockey Players

September 25, 2013

If you’re into hockey for the hot guys, I’m sorry to tell you, you’re in the wrong sport. I mean, my guy in Home Team is hot, but he’s fictional. :) Not only are hockey players famous for missing teeth, bad hair (an actual hairstyle called “hockey hair”), and broken noses, but they wear so much padding and full helmets and masks, that you can never get a good look at anyone. (One of the great things about Australian Football–my new fascination–is that the cameras go into the locker rooms. 0.o)

Not that there aren’t good-looking guys, once you get them showered and cleaned up, stick them in a nice suit, and do something with their hair (it’s a sports-wide affliction, the bad hair). Me? I’m a fan of Ryan Kesler, who posed like this for his clothing line.

Yowza.

There’s also Jeff Carter, who strikes me as the second coming of Wayne Gretzky–not The Great One, but The Blond One.

Blondie

No list of hot hockey players is complete with King Henrik–Henrik Lundqvist.

The King

Apparently, though, Cosmopolitan doesn’t agree with me. While looking for pictures to share with you guys, I came across their list, Hot Hockey Players 2013. I laughed; I cried; I choked on my apple crumble when I discovered Jaromir Jagr made the list. Talk to me about this travesty. Who else is missing from Cosmo’s list?

HOME TEAM: Yes, hockey.

September 25, 2013

Sometimes hockey is easy.

Shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, shots.

But usually, hockey is hard.

You tried.

If you’re lucky, you get the Kiss Cam.

Love you too, bro.

If you’re very lucky–and Aaron knows he’s very lucky–you get a second chance. Home Team is a story about second chances. Because it’s never too late. Even when everything’s tied up, there’s always the shootout.

Spin-o-rama!

So, for a chance to win a copy of Home Team, I want to know two things: who’s your favourite team? (Any sport! I know you’re not all hockey mad like we Canadians are.) And are they going to make it to the championship final? My team, the Vancouver Canucks, has never won the Stanley Cup, but they’ve certainly tried. What about you? Is yours a sob or a Cinderella story?

HOME TEAM: Release Party!

September 25, 2013

Hey there, sports fans! I’m Jameson Dash, and my book, Home Team, comes out today. I’m hanging out with you all day to share some stories behind the story, some stories before the story, and even most exciting, after. Between you, me, and the blog, I’m writing a sequel (!!), so you’ll get a sneak peek at that later.

But first, there’s this guy.

Aaron says, Hi.

Hot hockey equipment action

Huge thanks to L.C. Chase for such a great cover.

After fifteen years playing pro hockey, Aaron Buckley screws up, and his mistake and his attitude get him sent down to the minor leagues. His new team is in his old city, where he started his career in hockey, and also where he left his boyfriend behind. His luck hasn’t improved since joining a team of rookies and kids, but he has discovered that Zach—the ex-boyfriend who could never compete with hockey for Aaron’s love—is still in town. Aaron has a second chance to answer the same question: Zach or hockey? But maybe it’s time for a new question.

Home Team isn’t about a professional hockey player coming out of the closet. It’s about that player, Aaron, coming home and figuring out what to do with his life if he can’t do what he’s been doing for 15 years. Hockey can’t last forever, not when you’re 36 years old, with a bad knee, and your best plays behind you. I have a bias for stories about how love works after the happily ever after. First times are great; first kisses are exciting. But when those are behind you, there’s a different kind of love. How do you fall in love with the same person all over again?

I’ll be back later with some more stories and treats. While I’m gone, you can pick up Home Team, and all the rest of Dreamspinner’s contemporary titles, for 25% off today with the coupon code: JamesonBlog. Stick around.

THE SWEETEST SCENT Release Party #6: Wrap-up Party!

September 24, 2013

The last hour of this release party is drawing to a close! Half an hour left.

So, this is the wrap-up party, as it were :) My reigning day as High Queen of the Dreamspinner Blog has come to an end. Curtains going down.

Thank you all kindly for stopping by and commenting! I hope you’ve had fun hanging out with me :)

Using Random.org, I will announce the winner of the giveaway tomorrow at five p.m. EDT in both this last post and in the first one too, just in case. So you have until then to comment and be a part of the giveaway. The very best of luck to all who commented and thanks again!

As I said in a previous post, all my contemporary and transgender books are 25% off for the next 24 hours in celebration of this wonderful transgender release, one of the first of its kind with DSP, so check out my backlog here. The coupon code is SusanBlog.

Oh, lest I forget: I’ll be hosting an FB chat too about The Sweetest Scent on Saturday, Sept 28, so drop by if you have time. I’ll be at Dreamspinner Press’s page at one o’clock EDT for about three hours or so, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, available for questions and whatever else you come up with. Also, there will be a second giveaway!

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You can find me at:

Author Website Facebook Twitter Amazon Barnes & Noble Manic Readers All Romance eBooks

All the best,

Susan Laine

THE SWEETEST SCENT Release Party #5: Cross-dressing.

September 24, 2013

This is basically what Lacey is. She’s a cross-dresser. She’s physically a boy but she wears feminine clothes. She feels both male and female, depending on her mood or the situation or the people she is with. Lacey likes to feel pretty and dolled-up. That’s the persona, the face she prefers to show the world. And it’s fine.

Social norms dictate much of our outward appearance. Clothes are a major part of this, since after all we’re not supposed to go around naked in public.

Women may wear pants. It’s socially acceptable. But a boy wearing a dress? That throws people off, and prejudice, discomfort, even outright anger follows. Some societies dictate what a specific gender can wear by law.

Yet this is a practice that dates back far into history. It’s not a modern invention. One can cross-dress to be stylish, or to be comfortable in one’s appearance, or to make a statement, or to entertain. One reason is no less valid than another.

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Here’s a famous scene of cross-dressing from Some Like It Hot. Great movie!

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Much of this topic comes down to people’s perception of maleness and femaleness. We have an idea in our heads about these stereotypes. When anything shakes these images, our brain tries to catch up. The best thing to remember in such a situation is live and let live. If you want the right to be who you are and self-express in freedom, then grant the same right to others.

THE SWEETEST SCENT Release Party #4: About Transgender & A Giveaway.

September 24, 2013

First and foremost, all my contemporary and transgender books are 25% off for 24 hours in celebration of the release, so check out my backlog here! The coupon code is SusanBlog! Take advantage, people :)

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The transgender theme is not something I decided to tackle in this story as is. It all came from Lacey as the tale unfolded.

Feeling weird in your birth body is not an uncommon feeling; Feeling wrong somehow, that’s something else, deeper and more profound. Facing body issues like that is not an easy thing to face, especially since you’re not doing it in a vacuum. Suddenly what was only a feeling inside you has become everybody’s business, a social issue. And every Tom, Dick and Harry has got an opinion!

Now the feelings of strangers might be mute. But the reactions of one’s nearest and dearest, that is something else. That’s when we learn who people really are, whether they can accept such a big change in another.

I had Bro face this issue in the story. Lacey tells him that she’s been thinking about transitioning. Bro has an instinctive knee-jerk reaction. We have to remember he’s only eighteen, a boy who is still in the process of becoming a man and an adult. Bro loves Lacey—but to him she’s more boy than girl. Could he accept Lacey and continue to love her and have a relationship with her if she became physically a woman? Bro is gay so the answer is not an easy one.

Gender identity has become fluid. Or, as one could say, it has always been that way, but people like to give names to things, to label and categorize them, to control them. But it isn’t that easy. A single definition is not what transgender is about. There are dozens of identities within the larger concept.

What it basically comes down to is feeling right within, genuine and true to yourself, comfortable in your own skin. In that sense, transgender is much like the traditional gender identities of male and female. Everyone wants their inner and outer selves to match and to be okay with who they are.

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Giveaway time! To participate, all you have to do is comment below to this question: What has been your biggest challenge in terms of self-identity?

Not an easy question. I’ll answer to get the ball rolling.

I was a kid in the eighties and nineties, the geeky girl in glasses, and my body issues revolved around being pudgy. Not uncommon among kids, I’m sure. Learning that only MY OWN opinion is the one that matters was my first challenge. Glasses or no glasses, overweight or not.

My second journey of self-discovery came later in life, in my early thirties. In my head I saw two men together as opposed to a man and a woman together. It wasn’t until I found the MM literary genre that I realized it was all right to imagine these things, that I wasn’t alone. And now I write about that.

The prize for this giveaway is an e-book (your choice of format) of The Sweetest Scent—or if you already have it, one from my backlog. You can find my Dreamspinner Press books here: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/index.php?cPath=561

As usual, you can find me at Dreamspinner Press and at my website.

THE SWEETEST SCENT Release Party #3: About Lacey.

September 24, 2013

When writing this two-part story, my foremost thought was that Lacey is normal. I never saw her any other way.

For her—a boy—to dress up in girl’s clothes is normal. In the eyes of the world that makes her a transvestite and/or transgender. When a woman wears pants, however, she is not either of those things. But for a boy to doll up and desire to feel pretty in silk and lace, that’s apparently a whole other ball game. And don’t even get me started on her being a violinist!

The above image shows sort of how I saw her. — Oh, an BTW, that model is a boy: Andrej Pejic.

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For Lacey, this way of being is natural. It’s the adults who have a problem with her. It’s the world at large that demands labels and categories. Yet, do they really understand?

Does Lacey feel like a boy or a girl? Does she want to physically be a boy or a girl? Does she like being called a she or a he? In Finnish, we don’t have gender designations for him/her personal pronoun. We simply have hän. In English, a gender classification is required, and this has become a social issue as well. Is Lacey Bro’s girlfriend or boyfriend? Funny how that is a question neither teenager feels compelled to address. To each other, they simply are. Friends, lovers, partners. Lacey and Bro are together.

From the beginning my goal for this story was to depict Lacey’s problems as the kinds any teenager might face, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation. An alcoholic, abusive parent; being bullied in school; the pressure to conform; and the need to be true to oneself. In that sense, Lacey being a boy in a girl’s dress is secondary. For her, there is no other way to be who she is. And that is how I wrote it: As a normal, natural, instinctive way of being. If adults pay attention to only this one outward aspect of Lacey, then it’s their problem, revealing more about them than her.

This may be a different way of seeing this issue of transvestism in literature. A big segment of the transgender genre makes transvestism the focal point of a story. I chose an alternative view point. This is a romance, an erotic coming of age tale of a young man who comes into her own, battered by a world that sees her as a freak, but also blossoming in the light of love and acceptance.

I hope you enjoy this story. I surely enjoyed writing it. You can find The Sweetest Scent here.

And you can find me at my website and from Dreamspinner Press.

THE SWEETEST SCENT Release Party #2: About Bro.

September 24, 2013

The best way to describe Bro is cocky. But he has good reason to be an opinionated smart mouth, as he’s got a big heart. He may be flippant and direct, but he’s a good guy, always helpful and friendly. And for him to love a boy who dresses up like a girl is normal.

Oh, I fully intended to show you a picture of a jock who reminded me of Bro—but considering after a Google search on jocks the only images I got were of man-packages in jockstraps… Yup, yup. Pass! :D I’d probably get booted out of here so fast!

The best way to show who Bro is, is to give an excerpt of the moment he and Lacey met at their high school music room. Enjoy!

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On that day Lacey had been crying silently, and not even music could distract her from her melancholy and sorrow.

“That’s beautiful.”

Startled, Lacey jumped at the sound of a boy’s voice. She turned around to find a cute guy leaning against the doorframe of the music room, looking relaxed and comfortable, with a lopsided smile dangling on his lips. Wearing blue jeans, a gray T-shirt, and a school football jacket, he had a casual charm Lacey found more than a little attractive. The shiny black hair—almost emo in style—and the bright-blue eyes only added to the effect.

“Um, thanks,” she muttered, feeling emotionally exposed.

The boy’s head cocked to the side as he inspected Lacey, who was getting more than a bit uncomfortable with every passing second. Suddenly, he looked bashful, even blushed a little.

“Hey, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt you, or anything. I just thought… you play beautifully.” Standing up from his slouching position, he squared his shoulders—and for the first time Lacey saw how big the guy actually was. Not beefy, but tall and very fit. He gave a small, shy smile, lifting his chin in a quick good-bye gesture. “I guess I’ll see you around.”

As he started to turn, Lacey called out, “Yes, see you… around….” She had tried to sound confident and at ease, but it came out an undignified squeak. She knew he wouldn’t stay now.

But the guy glanced over his shoulder, curious, and then he sauntered closer to Lacey, who suddenly found it hard to breathe—or look anywhere else but at the young man with eyes the color of forget-me-nots and a flirtatious grin tugging the left corner of his mouth.

He stopped in front of her, sort of swinging on his heels. “Hi, I’m Bro.”

Lacey looked down, shy, and smiled a little. “I’m… Lacey.” She wondered what it was he saw. Did he see a pretty girl in a lavender-colored dress, or a boy trying to be something he wasn’t?

Bro’s thumbs were hooked in front pockets of his jeans, and as such his hands framed his bulging crotch deliciously. All of a sudden, Lacey realized she was staring.

While she was busy blushing, he chuckled softly. “You’re new?”

Lacey dared a quick glance up and saw only fascination in the boy’s face. “Yes. We moved here two weeks ago. Me and my dad.”

The boy nodded. “Welcome to DC.”

“Thanks.” Lacey became aware she was still holding her violin in one hand and the bow in the other, undecided as to what to do with them. Fidgeting, her hands seemed to move on their own, searching for the red fiberglass violin case, and she feared she might have given the impression of a broken robot, twitching away.

But then Bro was there, handing her the case from the chair nearby. “This what you wanted?”

“Yes, thanks.” As she grasped the case and started putting her instrument away, not forgetting to wipe the excess rosin from the strings, Lacey noted she had probably thanked the boy half a dozen times by now. God, what is wrong with me? She was usually more articulate than this.

Lacey didn’t have a boyfriend. Yet she wanted to get to know a boy. And this Bro was surprisingly kind and courteous. He must have had a great, supportive family.

That thought brought into the foreground her own recent loss, and she found herself shaking with sorrow, her eyes watering.

“Hey, hey,” the boy said, his voice filled with concern as he placed his hand on her shoulder comfortingly. “I’m sorry if I—”

“It’s not you, I swear,” Lacey denied quickly, in between sobs, blinking furiously to dispel the moisture in her eyes. “You’re nice.”

His hand left her shoulder in a hurry, and when he spoke, his tone was darker, lower, more dangerous. “Has someone been… not nice to you?”

The boy’s protectiveness surprised Lacey, who looked up in amazement. No one had cared about her well-being like that before, unless they were family. Bro’s expression was akin to a storm cloud, and Lacey felt a sudden, strange feeling of safety flowing over her.

Smiling uncertainly, she said, “No, I haven’t been here long enough. It’s….” She bit her lower lip. “I lost my mom.”

Bro’s face overflowed with sympathy, and he took her hand very carefully, as if it were a fine piece of porcelain. “I’m so sorry. I’ve lost my mom too.”

Lacey’s eyes widened in shock. “Your mom’s dead too?”

Looking sad and dejected, Bro shook his head a bit. “No. She just didn’t want me, or my brother.” Then he frowned, looking ashamed. “I suppose it’s not the same.”

“No.” Lacey shook her head. “It’s worse. Being alive and abandoning your children? Yes, it’s definitely worse. At least my mom loved me.” She gasped when she realized what she had said, how insensitive it must have sounded. “Wait, I didn’t mean it like that—”

“It’s okay.” Bro smiled encouragingly, his eyes filled with levity again. “I know what you meant.” Sighing in relief, Lacey squeezed his hand empathetically, and his hold of her nimble fingers tightened a bit. “I didn’t intend to sound, you know, aggressive and shit—um, I mean all… caveman. It’s just I thought you might have been… bullied, or something.”

“Thankfully, no.” Lacey offered her brightest smile, showing her white teeth, and the effect was instantaneous. Bro’s eyes seemed to glaze over and a goofy, lopsided grin rose to his lips. Had this cute guy been into boys, Lacey would have hugged him. But someone that sweet probably already had a girlfriend anyway, so she quelled the instinct.

Then she was proven wrong.

Puffing his chest a bit, Bro nodded and said, “If you ever are, you know, bullied, you just come to me, okay? I’ll straighten everything out.” Lacey was about to interject that she did not need a knight in shining armor, especially one who thought he was protecting a girl, but Bro spoke first. “I mean… you look real pretty in that dress. Even if you are… you know… a guy.”

Bro’s cheeks reddened as he spoke, but to Lacey he looked chivalrous to the point of glowing. “Y-you don’t mind?”

Then the self-assured, cocky grin was back in place as he winked. “Nah. I definitely don’t mind. And I’d mind even less if you were my girl. Even if you are a boy. Fortunately for us, I’m a boy who likes boys.”

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And now, a question for you all: What was your best date like? Was it a traditional dinner and a movie? A walk on the beach and making out in the back of a car? A ride in a rollercoaster and sharing cotton candy ’cause you both have a sweet tooth? Hooking up at a party and knowing instantly you two were meant to be? Did you go mountain climbing or scuba diving? Don’t be shy, people. Bro sure wouldn’t be! And he’s a nosy guy :)

My books can be found through my website.

THE SWEETEST SCENT Release Party #1: Intro post!

September 24, 2013

Hi! I’m Susan Laine. I’ll be hosting a release party here today from noon until six p.m. EDT for my latest release, The Sweetest Scent. This is the fourth in the Senses and Sensations series, but it can be read as a standalone. I’ll be around for six hours to offer excerpts, giveaways, a picture or two, and answers to any and all of your questions. I might even spring up a few myself. I’ll do a post once in an hour, an hour and a half, or so, to give everyone a chance to stop by at DSP’s blog.

Here’s the cover by the talented Catt Ford:

The Sweetest Scent by Susan Laine eBook

This novel is set in contemporary Washington DC, and tells the tale of Bro and Lacey, who are high school sweethearts. Bro is a cocky jock and Lacey is a boy who plays the violin and who likes to wear girl’s dresses. So, an MM erotic romance with transgender themes. You can find the book here.

Here’s the blurb:

“Bro Sumner loves his girlfriend, Lacey Adair, who underneath her pretty dress is in fact a boy, and she loves him right back. They are an exclusive item in high school, but they face some dangerous opposition, including a bullying fellow jock on Bro’s football team and Lacey’s violent alcoholic father. Lacey gets some martial arts training from an ally, and both she and Bro end up having to use fists to defend themselves. Still, their high school years have been mostly happy. Their differing plans for the future after graduation, however, seem to separate them by thousands of miles.

A compromise with the help of relatives and friends means Bro and Lacey will go to school only an hour apart, but they still miss each other. It’s not long before they make new friendships and discover new romantic possibilities. Temptations, jealousies, distance, and expanding horizons could sever their relationship forever unless they can keep their dream of a life together alive in their hearts.”

Like I mentioned above, I’ll be around from noon till six to offer excerpts, giveaways, pictures, and trivia tidbits. So please, if you have time, stop by at the DSP blog.

You can find more about me and my books at my website.

“Zipper Fall” release party 3: A bit about writing.

September 22, 2013

I get asked about how I write. People who ask me about writing don’t realize that writing is, mostly, about not procrastinating. Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, WordPress, Tumblr, plus any excuse for online research, can send me off course and into the time-sink of browsing to “see who is there.” On a typical day, I wake up at 5:45, respond to email, clear the dishwasher while the coffee is brewing, fix lunches, and put up a load of laundry. Once I walk my daughter to the bus stop and take the dog around the neighborhood, I am ready to write. In order to do that, I push the power button on our WiFi antenna. Yes, I really do. It keeps my word count up and my needless visits to “see who is there” down to zero.

I am an Organic Writer, which means that creating an outline is a sure way to lose interest in the story. After all, I already know what happened, right? So, why bother writing it out? Sometimes, when I am plagued by distracting and unrelated story lines that pop into my mind, I outline them. It’s the surest way to banish them forever. I have the WiFi turned off for 4 hours in the morning, which usually results in 3-5 thousand words. I take a break every 45 minutes to an hour (switch the laundry, water the plants, feed the koi) to move my body around. After lunch, my writing time will be over for the day, and I’ll need to apply myself to business activities that keep the lights on and the WiFi service turned on. In general, I feel very blessed to be able to do this.

And now, I have a question for you. If you do write, what is your favorite trick to keep distractions to a minimum? Respond, and I’ll enter your name into a drawing for a free copy of Wild Horses or Zipper Fall (Your choice!)