Meet the Men of All for Love with Nicki Bennett and Ariel Tachna

July 26, 2016

Way back seven years ago, when we first published Checkmate, Mary Calmes fell as in love with Teodoro as we are. She deployed her secret superpower for finding the perfect image for characters she loves and provided us with visual inspiration for the rest of the stories in the series. She did such a perfect job (as always) that we wanted to share those images with you. Obviously they aren’t all in period clothing, but that’s why we have imaginations, right? We can picture them in period costume–or in no clothes at all. ;)

 

Teo - MaryC

Teodoro de Ciéza de Vivar is a Spanish sword-for-hire who lives in Madrid with his son. He’s dark and magnetic and everything you could hope for in a swashbuckling hero.

 

Christian

 

Lord Christian Blackwood, Viscount Aldwych, is about as far from Teodoro in looks or experience as you can get. He’s English, young, inexperienced in the ways of the sword, and probably more naive than he has any right to be.

 

Esteban grown-RMartin - Copy

Esteban de Ciéza de Vivar is the son of Teodoro’s late wife and lives with Teo in Madrid. He’s fourteen when the story starts, although as the series progresses, he turns into the young man in the picture. He adores his guardian and wants nothing more than his approval.

Gerard

Gerrard Hawkins is Christian’s bodyguard and friend. He has never been a lover of men, but he has enough respect for Christian not to question his tastes. His hair is a little darker than in this picture, but Mary nailed the world-weary alpha male.

 

Raul by Mary

 

Raúl is Rom, but more than that, he’s a healer and a bit of a mystic, and if Esteban is to be believed, there’s nothing he can’t do. He’s Teodoro’s best friend, and not above a bit of emotional blackmail if it means he will see Teo happy and settled.

 

Aristide_gabriel_aubry - Copy

 

Aristide took his name when he broke with his family at nineteen. He lives and works now in Paris as a Royal Musketeer. His honor and the bonds of military brotherhood he shares with Perrin and Léandre are the two most important things in his life.

 

Leandre_MaryC - Copy

 

Léandre made his way to Paris after leaving the monastery in disgrace. Now a valued member of the Royal Musketeers, he shares his lodgings (and his bed) with Aristide and Perrin.

 

Perrin_MaryC

 

Fleeing a past he would rather forget, Perrin chooses blunt speech over any form of flattery or polite speech. He prefers actions to words when whenever possible. (Can you tell Perrin is Mary’s favorite?)

 

Benoit - Copy

A simple blacksmith, Benoît of Montredon doesn’t know how he got mixed up with politics or musketeers, but he’s quite sure he doesn’t belong there, especially when he starts having feelings for a certain musketeer.

Check out Checkmate today!

CheckmateFS_v2

Blurb:

When sword-for-hire Teodoro Ciéza de Vivar accepts a commission to “rescue” Lord Christian Blackwood from unsuitable influences, he has no idea he’s landed himself in the middle of a plot to assassinate King Philip IV of Spain and blame the English ambassador for the deed. Nor does he expect the spoiled child he’s sent to retrieve to be a handsome, engaging young man.

As Teodoro and Christian face down enemies at every turn, they fall more and more in love, an emotion they can’t safely indulge with the threat of the Inquisition looming over them. It will take all their combined guile and influence to outmaneuver the powerful men who would see them separated… or even killed.

 

 

Author Bios:

Growing up in Chicago, Nicki Bennett spent every Saturday at the central library, losing herself in the world of books. A voracious reader, she eventually found it difficult to find enough of the kind of stories she liked to read and decided to start writing them herself.

Visit Nicki:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100011754789784
E-Mail: nickibennett1@gmail.com

 

When Ariel Tachna was twelve years old, she discovered two things: the French language and romance novels. Those two loves have defined her ever since. By the time she finished high school, she’d written four novels, none of which anyone would want to read now, featuring a young woman who was—you guessed it—bilingual. That girl was everything Ariel wanted to be at age twelve and wasn’t.

She now lives on the outskirts of Houston with her husband (who also speaks French), her kids (who understand French even when they’re too lazy to speak it back), and their two dogs (who steadfastly refuse to answer any French commands).

Visit Ariel:

Website: www.arieltachna.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/ArielTachna
E-mail: arieltachna@gmail.com

Alex’s Law: Chasing Dreams with Jayce Ellis – Post + Giveaway

July 25, 2016

Jayce Ellis joins us today to chat about new book “Alex’s Law”!

Chasing Dreams

If anyone had told me a year ago when I started writing Alex’s Law, that it would actually be accepted, let alone actually published, I would’ve told them that I wanted whatever they were smoking. For the record, I don’t smoke. But the idea of being an actual author, with my name on a book available for public consumption, was a pipe dream if I ever had one. In the far recesses of my mind, it was always a possibility, just like becoming a professional clarinetist, or even a singer. My singing voice sounds like a dog screeching. It is not pretty. I’d minored in English in college (originally it was a major, but I got lazy and didn’t finish), but it had been my “love” major. Politics was my “job” major. I never expected it to go anywhere.

One fateful day, I was on the Dreamspinner website decided to click under submissions. Why not? What’s the worst that could happen? I mean, aside from them crushing my nascent dream before it began. Seriously though, I would’ve been perfectly content with a polite decline with some suggestions on how to improve. What I got, the reality of Alex’s Law now being available, is way more than I ever expected. So, what was the actual writing process like?

In every way possible, it was the best case of the blind leading the blind. I had no clue what I was doing. I had no clue how to put together a character arc, a story plot, subplots (OMG, what the heck are those?), or anything. And the amazing words and sentences and phrases and everything swirling around in my head turned into complete gibberish on the page. I spent a significant amount of time spent pounding my head on a desk. A solid, cherry wood desk older than me. Not my brightest moment.

Then my husband asked me, “So what do you see these guys as really looking like?” And that switch, from having an abstract idea in my mind to an actual representation, did wonders for me. If you’re interested, check out my Pinterest board for Alex’s Law to see the inspiration for the characters in this book. Once I had real people in my head, I could see real interactions in real situations, and then was able to put something semi-coherent together. I hope you like what I came up with.

Now, I am a series lover. I read series. I devour series. If I see that the book I’m reading is book ten, best believe I’m going to grab books one through nine first. And, with any luck, I’ll read them all in a weekend. Considering how much I toiled putting together 18,000 words, my respect for those authors who write full-length novels, multiple times a year (Charlie Cochet, I’m looking at you), only to have readers like myself consume them in one morning with a cup of coffee and a bagel, has grown exponentially. So, right now I’m working on what will hopefully be book two of this series, with the working title Bailing Out. It is a full-length novel, and with any luck I’ll have it out for consideration by the end of August. If they like it, there are a few more ideas that I have on tap, including (crossing my fingers) a longer novella with Alex and Law. Because in my first draft, many, many moons ago, I had a second subplot—yes, I know, two subplots is absurd. Told you I was a newbie—that delves a little bit more into their backgrounds and their families, that was just way too much to put in this little ditty.

So, let’s wrap this up. Since Dreamspinner has done me the greatest honor in publishing this, I’d like to give something back to the amazing readers. I am doing a $25 giveaway card for Dreamspinner Press books. Given how often they have sales, you can stock up on the cheap. All you have to do is two things. One, leave me a comment below. Tell me when you went after a dream that you thought you’d never achieve, and tell me how that worked out for you. Hopefully we’ll get a lot of positive stories, but they don’t have to be. And two, you can either like my Facebook page, or follow me on Twitter, or sign up for my newsletter. Each other gives you another entry, but everyone who comments will automatically be entered. It closes on July 31, 2016.

Thanks for listening to my ramblings and musings. I can’t wait to see what you guys have to say about chasing your dreams, and thanks so much for all of your support.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Check out Alex’s Law today!

AlexsLaw_postcard_front_DSP

Dreamspinner Press
Amazon
Apple
Barnes and Noble
AllRomanceEbooks

Blurb:

Alex Corrigan is in love with his boss, Judge Lawson Daniels, and thinks those feelings are returned. That assumption is sorely tested two days before the court holiday party they’re organizing together, when the venue calls and cancels, followed by a snafu with the caterer. Alex could handle that, but after an intimate dinner followed by a decidedly unromantic e-mail, he’s left wondering about the future of his employment as well as his relationship with the debonair older man.

Law can’t wait to see his clerk again. But Alex is cold and distant in the light of day, and Law doesn’t understand. The party looms in the background, but Law’s excitement is turning to dread. On top of that, someone is sabotaging them, trying to get Alex fired and drive Law off the bench. If there’s any chance for a happy holiday for Alex and Law, they’ll have to find out who.

 

About Jayce Ellis:

Jayce Ellis has three loves: her husband and her two turtles. Hubby loves her back. The turtles she’s not so sure about, but they do love their sports (Bay Area teams FTW!). She still hasn’t figured out why she lives in Northern Virginia, where there’s weather, instead of California, where she’s from, and where it’s just…pretty. Jayce spends her days divorcing happily-married couples (or so she’s been told), and her nights talking maniacally to herself. Thankfully the recorder catches her rumblings and magically turns them into words on a screen. Painting nails is way easier when you don’t actually have to type, and with well over 500 polishes to get through, there’s a lot of painting going on.

Notwithstanding her no-good, very bad, horrible day job, Jayce seriously believes that true love conquers all. Even Maleficent said it. Sure, she was having an epic Mean Girls moment at the time, but she still said it. And she’s right. The only thing Jayce loves more than writing about true love conquering all, is hearing from readers who feel the same way. Drop her a line; she’d love to hear from you.

Website/blog: www.lawyerwritelife.com
Twitter: @thelawyerwrites
Pinterest: thelawyerwrites
Facebook: Jayce Ellis, author

The Spirit of Hygge with B. Snow – Post + Giveaway

July 24, 2016

B. Snow joins us today to talk about Have a Hygge Holiday!

The Spirit of Hygge

Hi, all, I’m B. Snow, and I’m here to talk about my new release, Have a Hygge Holiday.

“What the what??” I hear you ask. “What does that mean? And how do you even pronounce it??”

I’ll answer both those questions further down in the post, but first I’d like to talk a little about Dreamspinner Press and a recent epiphany I had. It’s germane, I promise. :)

I submitted Have a Hygge Holiday to Dreamspinner’s Advent Calendar with the expectation that it would be rejected, because it’s not the sort of story most people want to read around the holidays. Not to spoil it for anyone, but there are no Christmas miracles, no sweet scenes of reconciliation, no realizations about the value of family. Of course it has [SPOILER ALERT!] a happy ending, and some funny parts, so although it didn’t make it into the Advent Calendar, Dreamspinner very kindly contracted it for their Christmas in July promotion.

And now I’ll go off on another tangent (but it will all make sense in the end, I swear!). In real life, I know a lot of authors who write het romance. I’ve heard some of them speak about the large number of changes their editors have asked them to make in their stories. Sometimes these published authors suggest making plot or character changes to your story in order to make for a better pitch to an editor or agent.

I understand that editors, agents, and publishers do make their living by selling books. I know they’re trying to make your story the best it can be so it will sell well. And I know writers support each other by helping make each other’s books better, AND by helping fellow writers sell those books, first to an editor/agent, and then to readers.

That said, I find it kind of strange when authors are asked to change their plots or characters, and I recently realized why authors of het romance don’t seem to find it as strange as I do. It’s because most of them are used to working with traditional publishers, and I’ve worked mostly with Dreamspinner.

Yes, technically Dreamspinner is a traditional publisher. But* their editors have never asked me to make any huge changes to a story. They’ve asked for clarification of scenes, or corrections of historical elements, or elaboration when a character’s motivation isn’t clear, but they’ve never asked me to rework the plot or change a character or add a sex scene. They’ve never finalized a blurb without asking for and incorporating my input. And the Dreamspinner art department has never asked me to accept a cover I wasn’t 100% happy with. I’ve heard other traditionally published authors talk about ALL these things.

My theory is that Dreamspinner doesn’t ask for big changes because they publish gay romance.

Gay romance is already outside the box. Readers of gay romance have already shown they’re looking for the unusual, the unpredictable, and Dreamspinner gives them that. They trust the stories their authors tell, even if those stories can be a bit bizarre (time-traveling codpiece, anyone?). They don’t reshape manuscripts to fit into an upcoming theme or some recent trend. They’re willing to take a chance on the different, to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go….well, you get the picture.

They’re willing to accept stories by authors who don’t write a lot, stories with unpronounceable titles using words that no one outside of Scandinavia has ever heard of. Stories like Have a Hygge Holiday. (See? I told you I’d get to the point. Eventually.)

Have a Hygge Holiday is about the winter holidays, family and traditions, candles, decorations, hot drinks, good food, and being with the people you love. Hygge (pronounced kind of like “hyoogah”) is all of that. It’s a Danish word that has no English equivalent, but the closest definition might be “coziness”. This video has some examples of hygge, which is really the only way to explain it.

The story is one I’d been trying to write for a few years but could never get quite right: a relationship between two young men of different religious and cultural backgrounds, and the comedy of errors that follows when their families clash during the holidays.

I’ve never had that clash myself, despite being Jewish and married to a man who is Catholic. To paraphrase the dedication of the book, our families are not the families in the story. However, some elements of the story are drawn from real life. The amount of oil used to make latkes, for example, and growing up without lights on the house in winter because that would have meant we celebrated Christmas, which we didn’t.

Now that I know about hygge, I think EVERYONE should put lights on their houses for winter, and string light balls from their trees.

winter light balls

There’s a reason Yule logs and Hanukkah candles happen around the same time of year. Humans have a need to bring warmth and light to the dark and cold of winter. Whether you celebrate one of the winter holidays, or all of them, or none of them, you’ve probably still been doing hygge all this time without even knowing it.

Here’s an excerpt from the beginning of the story (before the hygge really gets going):

Turn around and walk away.
Niall stood outside the door to Josh’s apartment, his finger an inch from the doorbell, while an argument waged silently in his head.
It’s just for a week, Niall’s rational side countered.
It’s wrong, and you know it.
Niall sighed. Catholic Guilt didn’t automatically disappear when you stopped going to church. It was ingrained. Possibly genetic.
That boy thinks he might have a future with you, Guilt said, and if you spend the holidays with him, it’s going to cement that thought in his head. And his heart. And you don’t feel the same, so you should not be here.
You don’t know that, Niall replied silently, his finger moving a millimeter closer to the doorbell. I might feel the same. We only met six weeks ago. It’s not like I know everything about him.
Niall’s phone buzzed, making him jump. He pulled it out of his pocket, and swore as he looked at the caller ID. He turned and walked down the hall away from Josh’s door before hitting the Talk button. “Hi, Mom.”
“Niall, sweetie! Where are you?”
“I’m at Josh’s.”
“Put him on the phone.”
“No, I mean, I’m just outside his door. I was going to—”
“Let him know you changed your mind. That you decided to spend the week with your family. If he has any kind of appreciation for family, he’ll understand.”
Perfect timing. And it’s a perfect excuse.
Niall looked back at the door.
You can call him later and explain that your parents called, that your mom guilted you into staying with them for Christmas. It’s not even a lie.
“You should be with your family for Christmas,” his mom went on, as relentless as she’d been every time she’d called over the past three weeks. “We never get to see you anymore—”
“I see you every Sunday for dinner,” Niall said.
Don’t snap at your mother.
“And Molly’s going to be in town. You can go to the movies or something.”
“Mom, I’m not going to the movies with Molly. We’re both nearly thirty, not sixteen, and I’m gay.”
“Don’t be silly, sweetie, you always had a girlfriend in high school.”
“And I always had a boyfriend in college. I know you think it’s a phase—”
“You can explain it all to me when you come over. You have to go somewhere since you had that pipe break. You really should have demanded that they get it fixed before Christmas.”
“Like I told you yesterday,” Niall said, fighting to keep his voice low, “I’m going to spend the week with Josh.”
His mom went quiet. Niall could practically hear the wheels turning. “Is he the thirty-five year old accountant?”
“No, he’s the twenty-six year old social worker.”
“That you’ve only known for a few weeks.” She couldn’t seem to remember that he was gay, but she sure could steel-trap the inconvenient details. “I’ve made up the guest room. It’s all ready for you.”
“Josh has a guest room.”
“You’d rather spend Christmas in a stranger’s guest room than with your own family?”
Oh, dear God. Niall banged the edge of the phone against his head a few times before saying, “Hey, hi, Josh! Mom, I gotta go, love you, bye!” He ended the call and shook his head.
You lied to your mother.
Josh might open the door. Any second now.
But he didn’t.
Niall banged the phone against his head once more as he walked slowly back to Josh’s door. Maybe he should start therapy. There had to be some professional who specialized in guilt removal, Catholic or otherwise. But before he could think about entering therapy, he had to decide if he was going to enter Josh’s apartment.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

To celebrate the release of Have a Hygge Holiday, I’ll be giving away a $10 gift certificate from Dreamspinner Press. For a chance to win, please leave a comment below, telling me about the hygge you do every year, or the hygge you’d like to do sometime in the future. For my own house, I aspire to the description of Josh’s apartment in all its hygge glory, but first I’d need to clean and unclutter**. So it’s going to be a long road. :)

In your comment, please make sure to include the email address you have registered with Dreamspinner Press. The drawing will take place 72 hours after this post goes up.

You can find me using one of these methods:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bsnow.writer
E-mail: bsnow.writer@gmail.com
woefully neglected Blog: http://bsnowwriter.blogspot.com/

Thanks for reading!

 

* Dreamspinner Press editors do take me to task over how much I use “but” in my writing. I’ve had to perform many a butectomy during editing…..

** For help uncluttering, I recommend Unfuck Your Habitat [link: http://unfuckyourhabitat.tumblr.com/]. If I went to that tumblr every day, my house might be hygge-ready by Halloween.

 

Check out Have a Hygge Holiday today!

HaveAHyggeHoliday_postcard_front_DSP

Blurb:

Niall is having second thoughts about spending the holidays with Josh. If Josh’s sweet nature masks the fact that he’s a spineless pushover, Niall doesn’t want a long-term relationship with him. Guilt—an annoying voice in his head—agrees, telling him to end it before Josh gets hurt. But then Niall sees how Josh has turned his apartment into a cozy, inviting nest for winter, based on the Scandinavian tradition of hygge: curling up with good food, candles, music, hot drinks, family, and friends.

Niall decides to stay, telling himself he’ll discover the real Josh when the two of them are together for a week, but two become four when Niall’s Christmas-crazy parents show up on Josh’s doorstep, and four become five when Josh’s father arrives to celebrate the last night of Hanukkah. The two sets of parents clash over decorations, food, and public displays of affection. Their bickering drives Niall crazy, as does Josh’s calm acceptance. If something doesn’t change, Niall will walk away from all of it, including his future with Josh.

Diary Dates: Creating the Tapestry with T.J. Masters

July 23, 2016

T.J. Masters stops by today to chat about new book Diary Dates and how the story came to be.

Diary Dates2

This Saturday sees the release of my latest story Diary Dates by Dreamspinner Press. The story centres upon postgraduate student Andrew Chin who arrives in London not only to study, but to explore life away from his traditional family in Singapore. His adventure begins at the airport, where he finds the diary of a wealthy British businessman and endeavors to return it.

James Howard is twice Andrew’s age, and he’s not used to selfless youngsters. Despite a rocky first meeting, the two develop an unlikely friendship as James introduces Andrew to the city. James is looking forward to the festivities leading up to Christmas in London and maybe a celebration with Andrew. But will a nasty bout of the flu ruin their romantic holiday?

Not if Andrew has anything to say about it.

Reading some of the things that editors and proofreaders have said about this tale I’ve been made aware of how the writer has to bring so many strands, so many different coloured threads together to create the final picture. The idea for the story came from a close friend who happens to be Malaysian. The ‘hook’ of the diary came from my own interest in all kinds of diaries, journals, logbooks, daybooks and Commonplace books. The setting of the London Christmas season is one which excites me every year and I cannot let the season pass without a visit to see the lights.

The May to September relationship is one which I am personally qualified to write about and even the characterisation of Young Andrew comes from personal experience. The student is based almost entirely on a real Singaporean Chinese student who travelled to London a few years ago to study for his Masters degree. The real Andrew and the fictional one share many common traits and I am all the better for having met him.  While he was here Andrew visited on most Saturdays and I came to admire his impeccable good manners and learned a lot about Chinese culture and tradition. One of the key virtues of Chinese culture is filial piety. This has its origins in Confucian philosophy and is the virtue of respect for one’s parents, elders and ancestors known a xiáo.

There was a strange twist to one of those threads after the story had been completed. My real life Andrew had to cut short his studies following the sudden death of his mother back home and I was sad to see him go. After the final edits were done and the story was ready for publication I suddenly had a call from Andrew. After three years away he had returned to London to do a presentation which would allow him to achieve his degree. We met and had a great reunion. He was touched that I had written him into the story and he thoroughly approved of his alter ego.

Have you ever experienced a complete stranger coming into your life for a short time and leaving you changed in some way? If so I would love to hear about it.

 

Excerpt

Andrew remembered the diary. Eager to get it back to its owner, he called the number he’d found in the book, but it went to voice mail.

A well-spoken masculine voice confirmed that it was the phone of James Howard. Suddenly feeling self-conscious, Andrew hung up while he decided what he was going to say. In the end he left a simple message telling Mr. Howard that he had found his diary at the airport and wanted to return it as soon as possible.

Jenny suggested they go out, so they left everything and ventured out into the busy London streets. After walking around, taking in the sights, they grabbed a sandwich for lunch from a coffee shop. Just as they were trying to decide where to try next, Andrew’s phone rang and he recognized the number on the screen as the same one that he had dialed earlier. Feeling a little nervous, Andrew answered. “Hello?”

“Hello, yes. You left a message earlier about my diary.” The man sounded business-like.

“Oh, yes, I think you left it at the airport. How can I bring it to you?”

“Thank you for calling me. My whole life is in that book. I will pay you a finder’s fee, of course. Can you bring it to me at my office?”

“I’m sorry, what is a finder’s fee?” Andrew had never heard the term before.

“I will pay you a reward for bringing the diary to me.” The man sounded a little impatient.

“Ah, no, Mr. Howard, I do not want any reward. Just to give your book back to you.” Such a thing had never occurred to Andrew, and it was certainly not what he intended. “I have only come to London today, but if you can tell me where to come so I will bring the diary to you.”

“My office is near Euston Station. Can you come there?”

Andrew remembered the name from the journey earlier. “Yes, I think that is not far. When can I come there?” He hoped that the man would not say now, because Andrew needed to go back to the flat to collect the diary first.

“I’ve got meetings this afternoon. Can you come at five o’clock?”

“Yes, sure.”

“I’ll text you the address. When you come to reception tell them who you are. They’ll be expecting you.”

“Okay, Mr. Howard. I’ll go there at five o’clock.”

For a moment Andrew thought the man was going to hang up without saying anything more, but then he suddenly asked, “Can you tell me your name?”

“Oh, sorry, sir. My name is Andrew, Andrew Chin.”

“Chinese name?”

“Yes sir, I arrived from Singapore today.”

“Okay, Andrew, I must go. Thanks for contacting me.”

“No problem, Mr. Howard.”

The man at the other end had already hung up. Andrew, in his usual kind way, assumed that the man’s abrupt manner on the phone was just because he was a busy, important person.

Andrew told Jenny what was going on, but she said she couldn’t go with him because she was having a tryout for a waitressing job later. A text from Mr. Howard provided Andrew the address of his office. After looking it up, he decided that he could make his way there on his own.

They wandered the streets for another couple of hours and then went back to the flat so that Jenny could get ready for work. While he was waiting, Andrew looked up James Howard’s company on the Internet. It was a world leader in technical ceramics and Mr. Howard was the company’s CEO.

Jenny had warned him that he would arrive at his destination far too early if he left just after four, but he was nervous about being late. So it was that just half an hour later he arrived at the address and found himself in front of a modern office building.

He still had another twenty minutes to wait for the appointed time. Not wanting to be seen yet, he carried on walking until he reached the end of the road, where a low wall marked the boundary of another building set back a little from the road. Sitting himself down on the wall, Andrew took off his rucksack and removed Mr. Howard’s diary in its protective plastic bag.

Beyond the initial search for the owner’s details, Andrew had left the book unopened. Once he had realized that the book was a diary, it became a private thing. Now, however, the thought that the diary was about to pass out of his hands again nudged Andrew to take a look at it. If nothing else, he wanted to see whether the diary would give him any clues about the man he was about to meet.

The thick band holding the book closed was essential, since it held so many loose bits of paper and business cards between its pages. Removing this carefully, Andrew ran his slender fingers over the spine and cover. The black surface felt almost like fine leather, although it was too thin to be real. All the entries in the diary were neatly written, probably with an ink pen. This idea seemed a bit old-fashioned, but at the same time quite stylish. The multiple appointments on almost every page showed that this James Howard was indeed a busy man.

One of the most telling things was the odd pages, which were full of doodles. These were either geometric patterns or tiny drawings, but all quite neat. Maybe some of those meetings were not so interesting.

Another curious observation was that there was little difference between some of the weekend pages and those for the weekdays. Did this man never take a day off?

 

Check out Diary Dates today!

DiaryDates_postcard_front_DSP

Also available on Amazon and ARE

 

Author Bio

Author T.J. Masters recently and somewhat reluctantly passed his 60th birthday. After a long and happy teaching career T.J. wanted to follow a new path before senility set in. Books and stories have been a lifelong passion and there are many tales waiting to be told.

As a happily partnered gay man T.J. chooses to write what he knows best. His overactive and ever exploring mind is probably described by the Oscar Wilde quote that “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars”.

Website: www.tjmasters.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tjmasterswriter/
Twitter: @TJMasters

Finding His Feet: Responsibilities with Sandra Bard – Post + Giveaway

July 22, 2016

Sandra Bard joins us today to chat about new book Finding His Feet, out this week!

Finding His Feet

Hi, I’m Sandra Bard and I’m here to talk about my second release from Dreamspinner, Finding His Feet.

First of all, Hayley, thank you for inviting me and for putting up with all the absurd questions I’ve thrown your way. I should also thank the wonderful team of editor and cover designers I worked with when this book was going through the different stages. Couldn’t have done it without you.

When I first started the book, my real life was suffering; a difficult job, with an impossible task of pleasing more bosses than I had students to teach. Each day was a dreadful experience, of getting up and going to work wondering what impossible request needed to be fulfilled. So many responsibilities, to my staff, to my students, to myself.

The book as written while I was fighting a silent war with a lot of people. Kaden, my main character, battled hardened and scarred, put on his high tech armor and went out to pretend he was alright, trying to keep himself useful in a world where he was afraid he would be discarded.

I would take the office laptop, a large piece of hardware that was probably new a good fifteen years ago and would type up at least a couple of paragraphs in-between lectures, paper marking and impossible administrative documentations. I even took my tablet with me to meetings and would type out a couple of lines between nodding my head at things like, ‘if you shift your work hours from seven to six, maybe you can complete all the necessary teaching hours’ to stop myself from screaming at idiots who did not know that each day only had 24 hours.

They became characters in my book, nothing major but they helped me shape my alternate world where war was a norm, where people accepted it.

Then of course, I had to travel for workshops and to teach in different locations. My laptop, a seventeen inch monstrosity which sounded like a hair dryer stayed home. Instead, I had to do my writing on a tablet, which was six years old and weighed too much to be held in one hand. I spent so much time in trains, my main characters met on a train. (This might have been where my idea of two distinct types of armor came from.)

Shun is the opposite of Kaden in many ways, he is light and laughter, cheerful and friendly and open… or so it would seem. But deep inside, Shun is as much a survivor as Kaden, having lived through his own war, with his own set of beliefs about how to live. He has his own secrets and his own agenda but not willing to compromise being human for the sake of that.

Kaden and Shun go through a lot of rough spots and their life is made even more interesting by the two cadets Kaden is in charge of, Wayland  and Bradley. Kaden, not the greatest person in charge of his life, now has to be responsible for more people.

Some of my fights with my brother and sister played a hand in shaping this sibling rivalry. As the eldest in the family I was expected to be sane, in control, lead by example and pick up the slack for everyone else. On top of my dead end job, the pressure was enormous.

Wayland is loosely based off a student of mine, a large eyed, earnest, small made thing who stood in front of the class once and preached to me about the evils of war while wiping away tears. (It was an oral exam not anything else.) Wayland has strong opinions about life even if they aren’t the ones needed to survive a war. Bradley was inspired by one of my close staff members, who is unsure about life but has a practical eye and the knowledge that life is not always nice.

As events build up, Kaden finds himself making more and more decisions, some of which might not be right. Through the course of Finding His Feet, Kaden slowly changes, to learn that there is more to life than fighting and being useful. Shun also changes in his own way, learning to look at the world from another person’s perspective and gaining something in the process, people to care about and love.

In the end, this is about two people saving each other and finding happiness in a bleak situation.

I made some changes to my life in the end, I changed my job (actually, I quit and stayed home for a month and actually finished writing this) and found the strength to tell several people to leave me alone. I learned to ask for help and to tell when I’d had enough. And my characters grew with me. So this is also the book that helped me preserve my sanity while I was struggling to find my feet and stand on my own against a hostile world.

Excerpt:

“I don’t see myself going over there to talk I,” Finzer spat, stressing peace as if it made his body cringe. “Not even if they ordered me.”

“But I hear you moved your wife and kid to a farm on the outskirts,” Alden said mildly, and Finzer flushed and looked away.

“I’m just protecting the next generation of fighters.” Finzer sounded impassioned, though he didn’t look all too happy quoting government propaganda.

“I for one would be happy if my kid didn’t grow up to be the next weapon,” Alden said firmly.

They all knew the government’s interest in armored warriors reproducing was to have more fighters for the future and not a sudden concern over the fall in the birthrate, as publicly claimed. The war between Joscal and the newly independent state of Haria had been going on for 130 years, and both sides expected it to last a hundred more. The Joscalian Army fought with all they had, sacrificing countless soldiers, not just armored units, for the sake of maintaining their border, while the Harians hid behind their remote drones. It was common knowledge that over a hundred million Joscalians had died in the first ten years of the war alone, and nowhere in the country was safe to bring up children.

Kaden snorted and looked away. He didn’t have kids… so not his concern.

“They’re even talking about sending a joint team to salvage what they can from Ground Zero,” Elisha added, sounding amused. Ground Zero was the starting point of the second phase of the war, when Haria had bombed the peaceful Joscalian island of Compen. Situated on the border between Joscal and Haria, it was coveted, and now officially out of bounds to both countries since the incident. “From what I hear, there’s not much to salvage, anyway. They’re even talking about letting some refugees settle near Compen Beach Town, but the island is still off-limits.”

“Makes sense.” Kaden nodded. “No one’s going to hand over that island unless they’re sure there’s nothing worth taking.”

“So everything’s in the planning stage, which is why there’s this long calm,” Claina concluded.

“It’s called a cease-fire,” Elisha told her sharply.

Kaden wasn’t sure he believed it. “Or they’re planning the biggest counterattack ever, and we need to be ready.”

“There is that.”

“From what I hear, our side is the one resisting the change in borders,” Alden added thoughtfully.

“Well, it is our country,” Finzer said firmly. “All of it.”

There was the sound of quick steps and everyone turned to the entrance to see a junior office helper walk in.

“Instructor Kaden Pace,” the helper said.

“Instructor… when did you become an instructor?” Finzer asked the same question Kaden was about to ask.

“I’m not.” Kaden got up and moved to the messenger. He took the message pad from the cadet and frowned. It read To: Instructor Kaden Pace. “Huh.”

“What does it say?” Elisha called, and Kaden realized everyone in the room had ceased whatever they were doing, which wasn’t much, to see what was about to happen.

“That….” Kaden frowned as he read the rest of the message. “I’ve got a mission.”

“That’s great,” Finzer said, and the others added their voices.

Though Kaden wasn’t exactly best friends with the rest, he spoke to them and hung around with them on a regular basis. Recruited at roughly the same time, they had been in a few skirmishes together.

“But it’s an observation mission. Two cadets, Bradley and Wayland Olgesh, who are in training. I’m supposed to watch over them until they achieve their Second Level Competency Grading.” Kaden frowned.

What the fuck was that? Then he remembered that was the same exam he’d taken in his third year of training, then called the Level Clearance 2. He’d been so young then; it had been close to twenty-three years ago, and he’d struggled over the obstacles and the stupid mission he’d been assigned. In a way, he’d expected battlefield missions to be as easy as his very first training operation, so simple to complete under the guidance of his now long-dead mentor.

“Hey, I remember those missions,” Elisha chipped in enthusiastically. “Mine was to guard a supply train from Morgan to Jalen.” Kaden remembered that she had not been a part of their camp during training but had transferred from Morgan after her marriage. “Nothing happened the entire way, not even raiders, but my mentor, Lavinia, was there. Felt better knowing she was watching my back.” She sighed. “She’s retired now, and I think one of last year’s cadets matched up to her armor.”

“Mine was to take a bunch of senior citizens from one of those old hospitals being evacuated to another,” Finzer said quickly, probably to break the depressing memories. No one wanted to talk about a time when their armor was going to be taken away. “I was glad Alden was there, because there was this particularly feisty old gal who kept pinching my bottom.”

“Your armor doesn’t expose your bottom,” Kaden blurted out, caught up in the moment despite himself.

“Well, it did, for that mission.”

The messenger cleared his throat pointedly, and Kaden looked at the pad in his hand. “This isn’t a real mission. I’m playing babysitter for two kids who’re going to go get their nature badge or something.” The administration never paired kids together unless there was a good reason. The kids were most likely too young to be married, so siblings, probably twins. Wonderful. He was stuck with a pair of boys—double the trouble.

Contest time! Comment by sharing an impossible situation you were in or having far too much work and being stuck juggling it all. One lucky winner will win an ebook copy of Finding His Feet!

Check out Finding His Feet today!

eBook
Paperback
All Romance E-books

 

C:\Users\ELTU\Desktop\blog tour\for pixie - trains and travelling\cover.jpg

Cover artist: Stef Masciandaro.
Release date : July 18th

 

Blurb:

Kaden Pace, a soldier injured while on a mission, hides the extent of his damage by wearing his high-tech armor, desperate to prove his worth to his administrators and make himself useful in order to hold on to his independence. But during a simple assignment to escort two cadets across the country to retrieve the armor of a dead warrior, things start to fall apart.

They meet Shun, a young man with a secret, who steals the armor they were supposed to recover. Chasing Shun brings them to an abandoned beach town, where they encounter even more trouble. Stranded in the deserted city, Kaden finds himself relying more and more on Shun, the person he’d come to capture, while fighting off an invasion from the neighboring country.

But even when he returns to his camp, Kaden’s problems are not over. Now he has to find a way to save Shun, whom he’s growing to care for, and keep his team alive as they make one last-ditch attempt to get back the armor Shun stole. Armor that is now in enemy hands, on an island in the middle of the sea, at ground zero where it all began.

 

Author Bio:

Sandra Bard started writing when she was quite young because there was always a story inside her head, but never thought of writing for an audience until recently. She only decided to try her hand at writing for the sake of being published after a series of events left her with some free time and in between jobs.  Now she has three jobs but writing is still her most favorite thing to do. Sandra grew up travelling the world from Africa to Asia and, though she now lectures full time at a university, dreams of having a job that wouldn’t tie her down to one place. She enjoys reading books, watching anime and, occasionally, visiting a fan-fiction site. She also dabbles in tai chi and yoga in the hope they would keep her flexible and help lose weight. She lives with her pets (fish, cats, and dogs) and has been a volunteer for an organization that takes care of stray dogs (there are many, where she lives) for over ten years.

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7106154.Sandra_Bard
Tumblr: http://sandrabard.tumblr.com
Email: sandrabard123@gmail.com

Cervena: Adventures in Prague with Louise Lyons – Post + Giveaway

July 21, 2016

Louise Lyons joins us today to chat about new book Červenà!
Cervena2 by Louise Lyons

Hi, I’m Louise Lyons, and I’m here to talk about my new release, Cervena. This is my third novel with Dreamspinner Press and I’m very excited about its release.

I wrote the story around the middle of 2015. I’d be looking through some old photographs of a trip I took to Prague in around 2003, and as I was remembering the city and the things I saw, an idea for a new story started to form in my head. Prague is an interesting city and I wandered away from the typical tourist areas one afternoon, to see how the real people lived, which gave me the opportunity to see different “Districts” of the city.

Most of Cervena revolves around the city center where Joel lives and works. Cervena (Czech for “red”) is the name of the nightclub Joel jointly owns with business partner Karel Doubrava, although Joel’s journey takes him out of the main part of the city later on, and eventually to London where his family live.

Within a few hours of starting to make notes, I had an outline for a whole book, and started noting down key events. I was in the middle of writing something else at the time, and Cervena was insistent that I hurry and finish it, so I could start on this new story. I quickly finished the novella I was working on, and put another novel on the backburner so I could get down to it.

My main character, Joel Jones, and his love interest Sasha grew in my mind until they seemed like real people, and I couldn’t get the words down fast enough. Joel is in his thirties, a real good guy and gentle soul, although he can step up to the plate when he has to, much as he prefers to avoid confrontation if he can. He resists his attraction to Sasha for some time, concerned about their fourteen-year age difference and his worry that Sasha might accept a date with him out of gratitude, after Joel took him off the streets and gave him a job and a home. But eventually Joel gives in and blurts out his thoughts on how he’d like them to have dinner together. It’s not all sweetness and love from there on, however.

The story has a lot more drama and angst in it than most of my published works, with events threatening to tear Joel and Sasha apart several times. So do they get a happy ending? Of course they do! As much as a tormented them along the way, I wanted them to end up happy.

I finished writing Cervena towards the end of last year and once it was submitted, of course I had lots more to work on.

Since then I’ve released several novellas and written a couple of short stories for anthologies. Right now I’m working on a new novel with a paranormal theme to it, which is new to me. I was actually inspired to write it more than a year ago and had made notes and written a few pages, but at the time it wasn’t going that well and I put it aside and wrote Cervena instead. So now I plan to finish it and have completed four chapters so far.

The Power of Will is set in my favorite place in the world—Keswick in Cumbria, UK. My main character, Tyler Marsden, has broken up with boyfriend Pete and moved to a new town to get away from the memories. He finds a tumbledown cottage which he plans to renovate after moving in and starts up his handyman business again, which quickly begins to do well. He soon finds a friend in disabled neighbour, Jonathan, another gay man. The pair confide in each other and become close, but there’s no romance there. The romance in Tyler’s life comes from another direction entirely.

A few strange things happen in the cottage, which Tyler initially ignores. But he’s led into the cellar where he finds a journal written a century ago, by one William Bartlett. Curious, he begins to read the journal and his heart aches for the young gay man who hid what he was for so long, until he fell in love and was unable to keep his budding relationship quiet. Shunned by everyone, including his lover, he was eventually unable to go on living. The journal is filled with his memories and the last year of his life.

As Tyler reads his story, his previous scoffing at the supernatural is forgotten as he becomes convinced William isn’t just a memory, but something more.

I won’t give away any more than that, but I’m excited about this new work, and intending to finish and submit it in the next few months. Watch this space!

And now for a Giveaway! I’m offering up an eBook of anything from my backlist to one lucky commentor on the post. As I said earlier, I visited Prague some years ago, which eventually gave me the idea to write my new novel. To be in with a chance to win, tell me about a city or country you’ve visited that holds a special place in your heart.

How to find me. If you haven’t looked me up on social media before and want to chat or follow what I’m doing, you’ll find me here:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/louiselyonsauthor
Twitter: www.twitter.com/louiselyons013
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/louiselyons013
Website: www.louiselyonsauthor.com
Email: louiselyons013@gmail.com

Check out Cervena today!

CervenaFS

Blurb: 

When Joel Jones finds homeless Russian Sasha outside his gay nightclub in Prague, he cannot find it in his heart to turn him away, so he offers him a home and a job as a dancer and stripper.

Despite a fifteen-year age gap, romance develops between them but is interrupted when Joel has to return to England for many weeks to deal with a death in the family.

Upon his return, Joel is horrified to discover his business partner, Karel, has gambled away the club’s money and put them all at risk. Joel buys him out of the club, but when Karel continues to gamble, the people he owes pursue Joel for the debt instead—and they’ll stop at nothing to get paid.

Suddenly Joel and those he cares about—especially Sasha—are in danger, and Joel finds himself with no choice but to seek the help of known criminal, Vincenc Jankovic. Ensuring a happy future for himself and Sasha will mean a struggle and some difficult decisions, but Joel is determined to protect what they’ve built together.

Match Point: Digging Deep with Leigh Carman

July 19, 2016

Leigh Carman joins us today to talk about her new sports romance, Match Point.

FinnandDex

Hello fellow Dreamspinner lovers! I’m Leigh Carman and I’m so excited for the release of Match Point, my sports romance with Dreamspinner Press. This is my first release with DSP, and it’s been nothing less than incredible. I am literally still in shock and awe that my book will be alongside some of my favorite gay romance authors. If there’s one thing a reader knows when purchasing a Dreamspinner book, it’s that you will get nothing but the best.

So why would a girl want to write gay romance? I’m sure everyone asks this at one time or another. I hear the question all the time from friends, family, and readers of my M/F romance. Well, I’m not sure if there’s a single answer to that question. Don’t get me wrong, I love my M/F romance, but there’s something about M/M romance that gives me, as an author, an extra layer to my characters that I can work with. The relationship between two men is obviously much different from that of a man and a woman, and I’m not speaking sexually. I love to explore the masculine side of romance. Even in my M/F books I’ve been told my male characters sound like they’ve been written by men.

Maybe it’s because I’ve never been a gushy, flowery, girly girl and I don’t like reading about men waxing poetic about their beautiful delicate woman. Maybe it’s because I’m a total dude when it comes to romance, no flowers, no jewelry, and no gifts necessary to make me happy. I pretty much don’t even care if I get a card on an anniversary.

So, I don’t know specifically why I prefer writing gay romance. I do know that I don’t care for the story of a man swooping in to save the woman every single time. I guess you could say from a writer’s point of view, a relationship between two men is more balanced. No one has to be the hero. Or both can be the heroes. Or yes, it can be traditional and one of the men can be the hero. Any way you cut it, to me the story is more about the dynamic between the two men than the situations they’re placed in. Does that make sense?

I like to dig deep into the emotional side of men. We all know that most men are raised to hide their emotions from other people, so it takes quite a bit of work to get their feelings out of them. That’s what I love to do. Put the screws to my guys and tighten them until they have no choice but to acknowledge what they’re feeling. Get them to face their fears, question their masculinity, and delve into the fear of losing their masculinity if they show any emotions whatsoever.

That kind of makes me sound like an evil scientist, doesn’t it? But in truth, that’s what writers are. We create characters we love only to hurt them, drown them, wring them out, and see what we’re left with at the end. Hopefully, they are made stronger, better, more real after their journey.

Match Point is a pretty emotional journey, and a study in two men who finally acknowledge that their self-destructive behaviors stem directly from feelings they’ve ignored for too long. I hope you love Dex and Finn, I know I certainly do.

Currently, I’m working on three more sports romances to complement Match Point. One sport for each of the four seasons. Beach volleyball is summer, football is autumn, hockey for winter, and baseball for spring. There are characters who appear in the book prior to their own, so keep your eyes out for anyone in Match Point who might have a story to tell.

Happy reading!

 

Here’s a peek…

 

Finn

“Get it. Get it. Hurry, hurry!”

I scramble for the ball while Coach yells out encouragements—or possibly reprimands. I can never be sure which. Either way I’m on top of my game today. I hustle to the net, get under the ball, and bump it with my wrists, arcing it high for Dex.

Dex waits for it to come down and lifts it using his fingertips. As the ball goes in the air, I take a running jump, curve my body so it doesn’t touch any part of the net, and smack the ball over our opponent’s head. It hits the sand.

“Yes,” Dex shouts and holds up a hand for me to high-five. Grinning, I reach out and slap my hand into his. Dex holds on to it for a brief moment. The contact is quick—less than a second—but the heat that sears through my palm leaves a lasting impression. It’s time to switch sides and it’s my turn to serve. Dex puts his hands behind his back and gives me the signal to hit it left with no spin. I toss the ball up and hit it over the net.

Beautiful. Our opponent drops to his knees and makes the save, but he can’t get to his position quickly enough to reach the ball his partner perfectly sets for him. Dex cheers and pumps his fist in the air. I grin at his enthusiasm. Watching Dexter Savage have the time of his life is mesmerizing. It infuses me with an energy I’ve never felt before. I no longer see Dex as just another charming guy. He has me spellbound and hanging on his every word.

“Nice whiff, dickhead,” I call out when he misses a dig and comes up with a mouthful of sand.

I can’t have him thinking I like him or something.

Dex laughs and spits out the sand. “Shut up, Callahan.”

By the end of the day, we should be exhausted, but we’re riding high on winning the New Orleans Open, and on the thirty-minute ride back to the hotel on the river, we both get our second wind. Dex is literally bouncing around. He’s so full of energy, he’s making me dizzy.

“Come on, Finn. Let’s go out to celebrate. This is New Orleans, The Big Easy. There’s sin on every corner and a ton of awesome clubs here.”

I roll my eyes. “I doubt your idea of an awesome club is the same as mine, Savage.”

“What?” Dex squints at me. Then his eyes widen almost comically. “Oooooohhh. You don’t think I can handle a gay club?” A slow, snarky grin spreads across his handsome face, and my breath hitches.

Hello dimple.

I shake off my dirty thoughts to get back to the subject at hand. “No. I don’t. God. I can’t even think about you going into a gay club without laughing.”

Or getting hard and groaning.

“Hmph.” Dex levels his intense hazel eyes at me and quirks one eyebrow in challenge.

“No, Dex.”

“Yes, Finn,” he sings gleefully.

“No way.”

Dex chuckles and nods his head. “Oh yes. Pull out your sparkly top, baby, because we’re hitting the gay clubs tonight.”

“Fuck you, Savage. I don’t own a sparkly top.”

“Rainbow?”

“No.”

Dex gives me a disgusted look. “What kind of gay man are you?”

“Not a very good one, I guess.”

One who crushes on his straight teammate, that’s what kind of gay man I am. A stupid one.

After five minutes of back and forth, I finally get Dex to let go of the idea of cruising gay clubs tonight, but only on the promise that I’ll take him to one when we get back to LA. I’m hoping he’ll forget by then, because seeing his gorgeous ass shaking on a dance floor while hot, sweaty guys grind on him? I’d implode before the night was over.

We change and grab a cab, and Dex directs the driver to head toward Bourbon Street. “Really, Dex? Bourbon Street? Can’t we go somewhere a little less—”

“Less fun? No, Callahan, we can’t. You’re having fun if it kills me. Tonight I’m officially removing the stick from your ass….” Dex twists his head and shoots me a scorching look that has my dick throbbing painfully in my shorts. “Even if I have to pin you down to yank it out.”

Holy fuck.

I swallow, and my mouth suddenly disconnects from my brain as every drop of blood in my body turns to lava and collects in my groin.

“Whatever, Savage,” I mumble, turn to the window, and shift my hips so Dex can’t see my now fully hard cock.

Dex laughs and shoves my shoulder. Does he not know what he’s doing to me? I sneak a glance at my teammate. He’s looking out his own window, eyes glittering, smile as wide as a kid on Christmas morning.

No. He has no clue. He’s truly excited to go out and have fun. In fact he’s practically bursting out of his skin, he’s so wound up. But then, Dexter Savage always was the life of the party. He’s comfortable in his own skin. It’s what makes him so attractive. Well, besides the tousled, just out of bed hair, the perfectly straight nose and full mouth, and the body to die for. But his outgoing personality was what had me crushing on him in college—and the reason I hated his guts. I watched him every day at practice as he charmed everyone around us, and knew he would never be available to me.

“Here it is.” Dex throws some money at the cab driver and leaps out of the car. I take a look at my surroundings and thump my head on the glass. We’re on a street thick with pedestrians clutching hurricane glasses and sipping through long straws as they mingle in the crowd. Neon signs line the business fronts on both sides of the cab, each promising a different kind of debauchery inside.

Dex leans down and sticks his head in the backseat. “What are you waiting for, Callahan? Let’s get this party started.”

Ugh. Tonight is going to be pure torture.

 

Check out Match Point today!

MatchPoint_postcard_front_DSP

Dreamspinner Press
Amazon
ARe
iTunes
Kobo
Barnes and Noble

Blurb:

Two stubborn men.

One is a rude jerk. The other, the life of the party.

It was hate at first sight.

Pro beach volleyball players Finn Callahan and Dexter Savage have been rivals since college. While Finn always comes out on top on the court, Dexter’s carefree and fun-loving personality earns him scores of adoring men and women. And as much as Finn fights to deny it, there’s another reason for the tension he feels when Dex is around. Hate wasn’t the only thing he felt when he first laid eyes on his opponent.

When they’re forced to team up, the two men must bury their differences—on and off the court—if either of them is going to succeed professionally.

 

Author Bio:

Leigh Carman is the pen name for the M/M romances written by bestselling Contemporary romance writer, Heather C. Leigh.

She lives outside Atlanta with her husband, 2 kids, and French bulldog.

She is leaving explicit directions in her will for her friends to discreetly scatter her ashes around Fenway Park. Then they are to sit back, watch a game with a beer and a Fenway frank and have a wicked good time.

https://twitter.com/HeatherLeigh_8
http://instagram.com/heatherleighauthor/
https://www.goodreads.com/leighcarmanauthor
http://heathercleighauthor.com/leigh-carman-novels/

 

Entwined with Z. Allora – Post + Giveaway

July 15, 2016

Hang out with Z. Allora today as she stops by to chat about new book Lock and Key!

Entwined... Where BDSM dreams become reality

I want to thank Dreamspinner Press for publishing Lock and Key and for hosting me here today.

If you’re one of my Facebook Pretties you’re aware I over share. Bucking the binary, worshipping the edges, sharing my truth and licking the fringes just to see what it tastes like… it’s what I do. This post is no different.

Let’s jump right in. Most of my stories are kissed by BDSM but I finally wrote an official BDSM story that is being released today: Lock and Key.

Why did I write a BDSM? Lots of reasons, but the biggest was I want everyone’s expression of their BDSM dreams validated no matter where they fall on the BDSM spectrum. (Not everyone fits into the standard boxes society has set for us.) And I wanted to explore aspects of this complex and fabulous practice/lifestyle/way of living not always written about in romance.

When I was four, I realized I was different. (Yes, age 4) Everything and anything vaguely relating to ropes, paddles, or control had my complete attention. Certain words caused an earthquake of confusion in me (and later on… need).

However, you’re taught early on that you aren’t supposed to yearn for those things. You learn to hide how you’re wired or face censure. Though I couldn’t deny myself peeks at the books that should have been on higher shelves in the library. Nor could I stop myself from hoping for a glimpse of BDSM on TV or in the movies. I longed for something I didn’t understand. Nonetheless, it had a huge influence over what I wanted and who I was…

If you’re lucky you find an amazing partner to discover the different facets of BDSM with, but if not, you may be desperate enough to ignore the difference between abuse and BDSM. I can tell you from experience, wait to find someone worthy who you can explore your needs with in a safe place. The other leads to places you don’t want to go.

It’s my hope that with the current attention being given to the practice of BDSM, people will educate themselves and find what works for them. Maybe we can forego the shame that accompanies wanting something a bit different. I’d love if we could accept and not judge people (or ourselves) for what they (we) require to find happiness.

My love is my Master/Owner/life. We’ll be celebrating twenty-nine years together on October 20th. We dabbled in BDSM until a turn of events allowed me to stop work so I could be his devoted love slave. (BTW love slave doesn’t mean doormat.)

I tell you this not to claim expertise but to share who I am with you. By stepping out of the shadows, I’ve found it allows others to feel safe and less alone. A number of my Facebook Pretties have honored me by admitting they are into or would like to be into BDSM. The exploration of BDSM can be a beautiful and rewarding experience.

In many ways writing Lock and Key was a stroll down memory lane. I had to dig deep to a long time ago when BDSM was shiny and new for me. The main character, Zack Davis is only 18 years old in chapter one. So I pulled from my memories the mind-blowing excitement of what it is like to visit a BDSM club for the very first time and allowed it to be his. The terror and absolute joy being in a place where you can explore what you’ve craved for years.

Lock and Key revolves around Entwined, the luxury BDSM dungeon of my dreams. The club is an affirming haven, where like-minded people gather to learn and grow within the lifestyle of BDSM.

I enjoyed sharing the surprise, disappointment, and excitement I had in finding out the practice of BDSM isn’t always what I thought it would be. Sometimes your BDSM dreams idealize the practice to a perfection that rarely exists and other times your imagination doesn’t even come close to the magic you can experience.

Lock and Key is about Zack Davis discovering who he is and how he wants to express it. Life isn’t a straight line and you might find elation in places you never expected. Find your joy and don’t let anyone invalidate you. Whether you’re into BDSM or not, I wish you love, happiness and romance always!

In celebration of Lock and Key, I’m doing a giveaway. You have a chance to win a $15 Dreamspinner Press gift card. Since I over share I encourage you do the same. Enter the contest by sharing your favorite type of BDSM activity to read.

Many Hugs,

Z. Allora

Check out Lock and Key today!

LockandKey_postcard_front_DSP

E-Book
Paperback

Blurb

Rejected. Heartbroken. Devastated.

Zack Davis wanted to serve only one man, Andrew Nikeman. He was denied because Andrew thought he was too young and because their brothers were together. So Zack crushed his submissive tendencies and focused on being the perfect Dom, giving every sub he played with something he couldn’t have.

After years of denying his submissive side, Entwined’s charity auction “Are you Dom Enough to be a sub?” gives Zack an excuse to get a little of what he’s always craved.

Andrew doesn’t know when his infatuation turned into more, but it kills him to see Zack with a constant parade of submissives. He’d refused to jeopardize his brother’s relationship or become Zack’s regret; however, Zack isn’t a kid anymore, and his brother’s relationship is unbreakable. Now Zack’s popularity and success as a Dom might ruin Andrew’s dreams of collaring him, but he can’t wait any longer to confess his feelings or he risks losing the man he loves forever.

 

Author 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 in 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 words to open hearts and change minds.

www.zallorabooks.com
http://zallora.blogspot.com
https://www.facebook.com/Z.Allora
https://www.facebook.com/Zallorabooks

 

Dreamspun Desires: Fun with Tropes with Kate McMurray

July 13, 2016

Kate McMurray joins us today to chat about tropes and her new book
The Greek Tycoon’s Green Card Groom, out July 15!

Fun with Tropes

I have a large and varied collection of old category romance novels. They’re one of my not-so-guilty pleasures. My favorites are the ones that take a well-worn trope—a secret baby, say, or a hero with amnesia—and do something fun and different with them. Category romances, for the uninitiated, are the short novels, most published by Harlequin these days, with titles like The Billionaire Boss’s Secret Mistress and The Royal Baby Scandal. (I made those up, but it would not surprise me if these are actual books.) They are trope-tastic, populated by wealthy, dominant men, set in exotic locations, and always end with true love.

I have no idea where my love for these books comes from. A lot of romance readers inherited their love for the genre from their mother. (Indeed, a good chunk of my collection came from a friend who passed along a bunch of category romances form the seventies and eighties that she got from her mother.) My mother would never deign to pick up a romance novel. I snuck a few romance novels into my bedroom when I was a teenager, because I’ve always enjoyed love stories and books about relationships, but I began reading these in earnest as an adult. And now I have hundreds of them.

When I first decided to write a book for the Dreamspun Desires line, I figured I’d start with some familiar tropes to anyone who is a category fan. So we’ve got a Greek tycoon, or in my case, a New York City real estate magnate of Greek descent. I set him up with a marriage of convenience, or in this case, a mutually advantageous green card marriage with a Czech immigrant. And then I decided to flip everything on its head.

That both protagonists are men is just the first twist. I wanted to play with the Greek tycoon trope. In most category romances, the tycoon is a dominant alpha male. So I thought, what if my tycoon is gruff on the outside but a totally softy on the inside. And what if he were broke? Enter the immigrant husband, who just wants to stay in the States, and who also has enough money to bail out our tycoon hero.

Thus The Greek Tycoon’s Green Card Groom. Archie, the Greek tycoon, and Ondrej, recently arrived in New York, make an arrangement in a board room, a marriage that begins as not much more than a financial transaction, but then they start to actually fall for each other. That’s when things start getting interesting.

Check out The Greek Tycoon’s Green Card Groom today!

 

The Greek Tycoon's Green Card Groom

BLURB:

Marriage gets less convenient when love is involved.

It started simple: Ondrej Kovac marries Archie Katsaros so Ondrej can stay in the US, away from his judgmental family in eastern Europe. Archie marries Ondrej in exchange for the money to bail out his failing company. It’s a fraud neither man is convinced he can pull off.

But as Archie introduces Ondrej to New York society and Ondrej proves his skill in the office, they start to discover a connection between them. Can they overcome the rocky foundation their relationship was built on, meddling immigration agents, gossip columnists determined to out their deception, and an aggressive executive set on selling Archie’s company out from under him? Only if they can prove to each other their love is worth fighting for.

BIO:

Kate McMurray is an award-winning romance author and an unabashed romance fan. When she’s not writing, she works as a nonfiction editor, dabbles in various crafts, and is maybe a tiny bit obsessed with base­ball. She has served as President of Rainbow Romance Writers and is currently the president of the New York City chapter of RWA. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Website: http://www.katemcmurray.com
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/katemcmwriter
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/katemcmurraywriter

Acceptance: The Playlist with Grace R. Duncan – Post + Giveaway

July 8, 2016

Welcome to the Acceptance release blog tour! Thank you to Dreamspinner Press for the space on the blog today and thanks for stopping by!

Acceptance- The Playlist

One of the main characters in Acceptance is Quincy Archer, a jaguar shifter, information broker, and artist. He’s also a self-proclaimed otaku, the Japanese term for someone with obsessive interests, usually used toward Americans with regard to anime and manga or even just Japanese culture. Now, most of the time, “otaku” is used in a somewhat derogatory way and Quincy is a bit self-deprecating when he uses it. I have since heard it start being less derogatory to give way for an even more deprecating term, however, I’m not entirely sure how long that’s been the case or how much that’s caught on.

Quincy’s biggest interest is anime and he spends a lot of time watching many, many different series. Part of the playlist I had for Acceptance includes a number of themes and other songs from these series. Now, I have my own favorites when it comes to anime—I’m not nearly the anime geek Quincy is, but I actually do volunteer work to help run an anime con—and of course some of those made it onto the list.

By far, my favorite (though I can’t say exactly why) is “D-Technolife” by UVERworld. You see that video here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7_YNsMkGjA

Despite that being my favorite theme song, Bleach isn’t actually my favorite anime. That honor goes to Naruto. While it wasn’t my first (that was InuYasha), it was the one that sucked me in for the long haul more than any other.  One of my favorite themes for Naruto is this one from Joe Inuoe, “Closer”:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Cp0WgkgDbQ

There are a few others from Naruto that I love, and you can see the YouTube playlist here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLz7oGWHL9LPLrUOcnysxPQbUGMybL6uKi  Unfortunately, Sony Japan has blocked many of the opening themes (especially the Ghost in the Shell themes), so there aren’t as many from the playlist on that list as I would like.

The full anime portion of the Acceptance playlist is here (so you can possibly find them elsewhere) :

From Appleseed:
Akufen – The Dragonfly Who Thought He Was a Mockingbird (5:38)
Boom Boom Satellites – Bump Over Hills (3:26)

From Bleach:
D-Tecnolife – Uverworld (3:53)
Orange Range – ~Asterisk (4:59)
Ikimono Gakari – Hanabi (4:27)

From Ghost in the Shell 2 – Innocence:
Kenji Kawai – Attack The Wakabayashi (3:31)

From Ghost in the Shell – Standalone Complex:
Yoko Kanno – Inner Universe (2:14)
Yoko Kanno – Run Rabbit Junk (4:32)
Yoko Kanno – Stamina Rose (2:51)

From Bubblegum Crisis:
Hashimoto Maiko (Vision) – Never The End (4:57)
Hashimoto Maiko (Vision) – Say, Yes! (6:10)

From Naruto:
Ikimono Gakari – Blue Bird (3:38)
Inoue Joe – Closer (3:28)
Nobody Knows – Heroes Come Back (4:33)
Tushiro Masuda – Neji’s Theme (2:06)
FLOW – GO! (Fighting Dreamers) (4:12)

From Cowboy Bebop:
Mai Yamane with SEATBELTS – The Real Folk Blues (6:16)

From Kingdom Hearts (not anime, but definitely Japanese influence):
Utada Hikaru – Simple And Clean (5:02)

Thanks again to DsP for the space today! I hope you enjoy the music! Be sure to enter the rafflecopter for a chance to win some awesome prizes and make sure to follow the entire tour for lots of entries.

 

Follow the tour here: http://www.grace-duncan.com/acceptance-blog-tour

Blurb: Dr. Miles Grant acknowledges that his destined mate could be either gender even though his bisexuality cost him his family and his pack. Luckily he found the Forbes Pack, who happily accept him just as he is. What he never counted on was finding his mate in Pittsburgh or for his mate to be another species entirely—a cat!

Quincy Archer isn’t just any jaguar shifter. He is the heir to the leadership of his pride. Destined mates are nothing but legend to the nearly extinct and generally solitary jaguars, and Quincy certainly never expected to find one for himself, much less a male… or a wolf.

However, finding each other and coming to terms with their species is the least of their worries. Quincy is expected to select a proper female mate, father a cub, and take his place as heir to the pride. Except Quincy refuses, having no interest in women or leadership and knowing he isn’t right for it. But his father will stop at nothing—not even attempting to kill Miles—to get his way. Quincy and Miles must overcome many obstacles to stay together as the destined mates they’re meant to be.

 

Dreamspinner Press – eBook & Paperback
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/acceptance/id1126559228?mt=11
Amz: https://www.amazon.com/Acceptance-Forbes-Mates-Book-3-ebook/dp/B01H8325Q8
B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/acceptance-grace-r-duncan/1123943161?ean=9781634774055
Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/acceptance-19
ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-acceptance-2060133-341.html

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Grace Bio Pic.jpg

 

About Grace:

Grace Duncan grew up with a wild imagination.  She told stories from an early age – many of which got her into trouble.  Eventually, she learned to channel that imagination into less troublesome areas, including fanfiction, which is what has led her to writing male/male erotica.

A gypsy in her own right, Grace has lived all over the United States.  She has currently set up camp in East Texas with her husband and children – both the human and furry kind.

As one of those rare creatures who loves research, Grace can get lost for hours on the internet, reading up on any number of strange and different topics.  She can also be found writing fanfiction, reading fantasy, crime, suspense, romance and other erotica or even dabbling in art.

Find Grace here:

Website  ◊ FacebookTwitterYoutubeGoodreads