A THIRDS Celebration by Charlie Cochet

July 7, 2016

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“Wow, two years.”

Sloane glanced up at Cael who was currently giving Dex a run for his money on how many mozzarella sticks could be consumed in one evening. So far Cael was winning, but only because Dex wasn’t physically present as he was at the bar discussing the current karaoke playlist with Bradley.

“What’s two years?” Sloane asked.

“That Dex has been on the team,” Cael replied. “Seems like only yesterday, huh?”

Ash let out a low grunt. “Seems too damn long if you ask me.”

“Can’t believe he hasn’t thrown himself a party,” Rosa pitched in, stealing one of Cael’s mozzarella sticks. He stuck his tongue out at her before turning his attention back to Sloane.

“Come to think of it, he’s missed a lot of party-throwing opportunities.”

Sloane frowned. “What do you mean?”

“Dex has always been a party guy. Not necessarily a partier, but he liked big get-togethers. Lots of people, music, him being the center of attention. If he could celebrate it, he threw a party. In college he was kind of known for his awesome parties. And of course you know about his pre-birthday-party parties. He’s kind of calmed down since joining the THIRDS.” Cael shrugged. He gave Sloane a big smile. “Maybe it’s your influence on him.”

Sloane wasn’t quite sure how to take that. “Is that a good thing?” Ash’s unimpressed expression made Sloane chuckle.

“I’m sorry, did you just ask if Nerd Boy being calm is a good thing? Did you seriously just ask that question?”

Sloane held back a smile. “Right.” Now that he thought about it, he supposed Dex had sort of calmed down since they’d met. His boyfriend was still enthusiastic, mischievous, and a nut with a limitless supply of energy, but he wasn’t bouncing off the walls all the time or talking a mile a minute. When they were home together, Dex would often snuggle up to him on the couch, neither of them talking. They’d just sit there watching TV, enjoying each other’s company.

Did Dex miss his parties? Was he missing out because of Sloane? Sloane had never been a party guy. Hell, he’d never even celebrated his birthday. It never occurred to him that Dex might stop doing something he enjoyed for Sloane’s sake. He remembered Dex’s last pre-birthday-party- party where he’d said something about not needing big parties anymore. Had he just been saying that for Sloane’s benefit?

Sloane looked around the table at his teammates and friends. His family. “We should throw Dex a party.”

Everyone stilled. They stared at him with wide eyes. Ash leaned into Cael, his voice low but loud enough for everyone at the table to hear him.

“You sneak away first and call us a cab. I’ll follow.”

Sloane arched an eyebrow at him. “I’m serious, Ash. He’s always doing stuff for us. He does something for everyone’s birthday, throws those little parties at work for everyone.” He looked to Hobbs. “He brought you a cake for the BearCat’s birthday because he knew it would make you happy.”

Ash shook his head at Hobbs. “I can’t believe you celebrate a truck’s birthday.”

Hobbs promptly flipped Ash off.

“My point is,” Sloane continued, “that Dex does all these things for us to show how much he cares, and we never do anything for him.”

“That’s your job.” Ash narrowed his eyes at Sloane. “You’re his boyfriend. You’re supposed to do all that love-dovey crap.”

“That’s a great idea,” Cael chimed in, and Sloane grinned smugly at Ash. There was no way Ash was getting out of this now. “Okay, what do you want us to do?”

“I want it to be a surprise, so no one says a word. I’ll talk to Bradley and see about booking Dekatria this Friday night.”

Ash gaped at him. “Friday night? You want us to put this together in three days?”

Sloane rolled his eyes. “It’s just a party, Ash. How hard can it be? Besides, we missed the actually anniversary date, and it’s Halloween on Saturday, so yeah, three days. You and Cael are in charge of the cake. Calvin, Hobbs, you got decorations. Letty and Rosa you’re on food detail. I’ll round up the guests.”

A thought occurred to Ash and he perked up. “Hey, why don’t you just get Lou to do it? That’s his job right?”

Letty let out a snort. “Are you kidding? Lou’s booked until next Spring. Even if he had the time, he’s up to his elbows in Halloween parties. I think Dex said he was upstate.”

“Come on, guys. We can do this,” Sloane said, his voice lowered. “We’ve faced situations a hell of a lot more dangerous. I’ll call everyone with setup times and ETA for Dex’s arrival.”

They all agreed, even Ash, though his best friend made certain to make his reluctance and displeasure known. Several times. Dex made his way over to their table and Cael quickly changed the subject with everyone pitching in. Sloane smiled like a dope when Dex kissed him before sitting next to him, his chair pulled up close to Sloane. How could he have not realized it had been two years or knowing this amazing man? Maybe because at times it felt like they’d known each other for so much longer.

“You okay?” Dex asked, leaning in to give his cheek a kiss.

“Yeah.” He wrapped an arm around the back of Dex’s shoulders and pulled him in against him before giving his temple a nuzzle. “I love you.”

“I love you too,” Dex replied with a chuckle. His attention was immediately snatched away by Bradley bringing over another basket of appetizers. As he watched Dex laugh, eat, and joke around with everyone, he couldn’t help his heart swell. He needed to get better at this whole relationship thing and be more attentive. If a party would put that amazing smile on Dex’s beautiful face, Sloane would happily oblige. He could do this.

Or so he thought.

Things had gone smoothly the day after their evening at Dekatria. Sloane spoke to Bradley and booked the second floor for the Friday night. With Cael’s help, he sent out electronic invites to double the number of people he normally would have, just in case, what with it being so last minute, a Friday night, and the night before Halloween. Sloane made sure to check in with everyone, and everything was on schedule.

Then it all went horribly wrong.

Sloane couldn’t take his eyes off the giant hanging banner, the lights reflecting off the glittering silver and pink letters.  “Why does that say Happy Birthday, Princess?” He looked to the rest of the decorations. There were pink and silver balloons everywhere, streamers, and fluffy things that hung from the ceiling. The tables had princess crowns and wands. Everywhere he looked, his gaze was assaulted by pink fluff. He didn’t even know where to begin. Only one word managed to make it from his brain to his mouth. “Why?”

Calvin cleared his throat. “See, the thing is, we ordered this eighties party set from the party supply store, and the box was sealed when we picked it up. When we got here we opened it, and found it filled with this stuff. They must have gotten our orders mixed up with someone else’s.”

Sloane arched and eyebrow at him. “You think?” Of course now it was too late to do anything about it. “And you put it all out because…?”

Hobbs shrugged. He picked up a wand with pink fluff and waved it at Sloane.

“I don’t even have words.”

“We got the cake,” Ash called out.

“Finally, something’s going right.” He spun around and slammed into Cael, knocking him over. Sloane’s eyes widened, and he made a dive for the cake as Ash dropped it to catch Cael. Sloane landed on the floor beside the open box that Ash now had a foot in. Why me?

Sloane let his head fall against the floor with a groan. This couldn’t be happening.

“Um… what do I do?” Ash asked.

Sloane rolled onto his back with a heavy sigh, and looked up at him. “Why don’t we start with you removing your huge-ass size fifteen boot off the cake. How about that?”

“Right.” Carefully, Ash pulled his boot out, sitting on the chair that Cael brought over to him. “Sorry.”

What could Sloane say? That he should have held onto the cake and let the man he loved hit the floor instead?

“It’s fine.” Sloane got up and picked up the box, taking it over to one of the tables. There was Ash’s boot print smack in the middle of the giant cake. “I got nothing.”

Cael hurried over with a piece of card stuck to a straw. “We could improvise!” He showed it to Sloane.

We want to follow in your footsteps.

“No. We’re not serving up cake with Ash’s boot print on it.”

“Well, I can cut that part out, and maybe reshape it.” Cael snapped his fingers. “I have an idea.” Cael darted off and Sloane let out a heavy sigh. His phone rang, and he crossed his fingers when he answered.

“Hey, Rosa. Please tell me you and Letty are on your way with the food.”

“We are.”

“Thank God.” Sloane let out a sigh of relief.

“But we’re going to be late.”

Great. “How late?”

“There was a bad accident, and we stopped to help. It could take a while.”

Damn. “Do you need any help?”

“No, help is on the way. Just wanted to let you know.”

“Okay. See you when you get here.” He hung up. Not much he could do about that. He turned to face his friends, hands on his hips. “Well, we’ve got no cake, no food, and princess decorations.” With a groan he dropped down onto an empty chair. “Oh God, I’m the worst boyfriend ever.”

Cael returned and gave Sloane’s shoulder a pat, his bottom lip jutted out. “It’s not your fault, Sloane. We screwed up.” He held up the giant bag of gummy bears. “Bradley always keep a bag in reserve. I’ll make the cake work.”

“He’s going to be here in half an hour, and—”

“Sloane?” Bradley appeared at the door. “Your guests are starting to arrive.”

Crap! He jumped to his feet. “How many?”

“Um, like, all of them? There’s at least fifty downstairs and more getting in.” He looked at his watch. You told them to be here at seven-thirty. It’s seven-thirty. You THIRDS guys are really punctual, huh?”

“All of them?” Sloane ran to the door and hallway down the stairs. Sure enough the bar area was packed with their teammates from Unit Alpha, and a few from Unit Beta. They all came?

“Hey, Sloane,” Herrera waved at Sloane from the bottom of the stairs.

“You came? All of you?” He’d been expected at least half.

“Well, yeah, man. It’s Dex.”

Sloane was touched. Everyone had shown up for Dex. He didn’t know what to say, other than, “Okay, everyone, get your butts up here. He’ll be here in twenty minutes.” As soon as everyone had crowded in upstairs, Sloane begged Bradley to bring up as many bar snacks as he could and they started getting drink orders.

Herrera waved a fluffy pink and silver wand at him. “So, what’s with the pretty princess stuff?”

“There was a mix up in the decorations.”

“Oh.” Herrera picked up a crown and put it on Taylor’s head. “Aw, you look so regal.”

Taylor flipped him off before tilting the tiara on his head. “I’m freaking fabulous.”

That gave Sloane an idea.  “Okay, everyone, listen up. We kind of had a bit of a mix up with the decorations, so it would really mean a lot to me if you’d just go along with it.”

“I’ll wear mine if Ash wears his,” Taylor said, wriggling his eyebrows. Ash jutted a finger at him.

“You know what? I’ll tell you where you can stick your tiara.”

“Ash.” Sloane put his hands together. “Just for a few minutes.” Ash looked at Sloane like he’d grown two heads. “Please.”

Ash opened his mouth, most likely to curse him out when Cael stood on a chair and popped a tiara on his head. The room broke off into cheers and cat calls.

“Why would you do this to me?” Ash asked Cael, pouting.

“Please. It’ll make Dex’s night. Do it for me.”

Ash grumbled something under his breath, but left the tiara on, though not before declaring that anyone who took a picture of him with it on would suffer grievous bodily harm.

Sloane got a text from Dex saying he was walking up to Dekatria. “It’s time! Everyone be quiet!” Sloane turned off the lights on his way downstairs. The bar had its usual patrons, and the music was playing. Sloane met Dex at the door and kissed him. He’d have to remember to thank the PR department for the “last minute promo op” they sprung on Dex, keeping him at work.

“Hey, where is everyone?” Dex asked, following Sloane to the stairs.

“The girls are running a bit late. They’re helping out in an accident. The guys are upstairs. It was a little crowded down here.”

“Okay. We need Bradley to bring all the food. I’m starving.” Dex stopped Sloane and gave him a sweet, passionate kiss. “Mm, a little dessert before dinner.”

Sloane returned Dex’s kiss, pulling him close, loving how warm and soft he was. He hoped Dex liked his surprise, even if the decoration was all wrong, and there was no food. They’d think of something. He pulled back and kissed Dex’s cheek before leading him upstairs.

“Why’s it so quiet up here?” Dex asked, looking endearingly puzzled.

Sloane didn’t reply, just pulled him inside and flipped on the lights. The room shouted excitedly.

“Surprise!”

“Holy crap!” Dex jumped behind Sloane, his eyes widening when he saw everyone. A huge grin came onto his face, and he looked up at Sloane. “You threw me a party?”

“Yep. Two years you’ve been a part of our team, and our lives.” He leaned in to whisper in Dex’s ear. “I don’t know where I’d be without you. I love you.”

Dex’s bright blue eyes met his, and the love in them stole Sloane’s breath away. Cael came running and plopped a tiara on Dex’s head.

“For the prettiest princess of all.”

“Aw, you guys.” Dex wiped an imaginary tear from his eye, taking the fluffy pink wand from Cael. “Thank you.”

Rosa and Letty arrived, along with Bradley who helped them carry huge trays. Letty declared cheerfully. “Food’s here!”

“Woot!” Dex waved his wand, declaring loudly. “Let the party begin!”

Everyone cheered and eighties music blared from the speakers. Dex turned to Sloane with a knowing smile.

“I’m going to go out on a limb here, and say the pink princess theme wasn’t planned.”

Sloane felt his cheeks flush. “I maybe, kinda, suck at this whole party thing. I’m sorry.”

Dex blinked up at him. “Are you kidding? Babe, this is amazing!” He smiled sweetly, and pulled Sloane behind one of the pillars to sneak a kiss. “Thank you for putting all this together. The fact you thought to do this is everything. Besides….” He touched his tiara and winked at Sloane. “I can totally rock the princess look.”

“You absolutely can.” Sloane chuckled and pulled Dex in for a kiss. “You know, whenever you want to throw a party, you just go ahead. Okay? Don’t let me stop you from having fun.”

Dex pulled back. “Wait, what? You think you’re stopping me from having fun?”

“Well, I know you’ve always had all these great parties, and since we’ve been together, you haven’t really.” He shrugged, feeling a little embarrassed, but he told Dex about his conversation with Cael. He worried Dex might be upset, but instead Dex threw his arms around Sloane and hugged him.

“Do you know why I don’t throw all those parties anymore?”

“Why?” Sloane asked, genuinely curious.

Dex looked up at him, a beautiful smile spreading across his handsome face. “Because I have you. Yeah, I threw a lot of parties in college, and I had a lot of friends, but I didn’t have someone like you, someone who made me feel whole. I love you, Sloane. I don’t need to be surrounded by lots of people, just the people I love.”

Sloane didn’t know what to say. So instead, he kissed Dex, putting all his love behind it. Two years of knowing this incredible man. A man who could drive him crazy one minute and bring him to his knees the next. He’d never met anyone like Dexter J. Daley, and he couldn’t imagine his life without the laughter, outrageous shenanigans, copious amounts of coffee and sugary treats, all thanks to Dex.

“Happy anniversary, sweetheart.”

 

Charlie Cochet

Charlie Cochet is an author by day and artist by night. Always quick to succumb to the whispers of her wayward muse, no star is out of reach when following her passion. From adventurous agents and sexy shifters to society gentlemen and hardboiled detectives, there’s bound to be plenty of mischief for her heroes to find themselves in—and plenty of romance, too!
Currently residing in Central Florida, Charlie is at the beck and call of a rascally Doxiepoo bent on world domination. When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading, drawing, or watching movies. She runs on coffee, thrives on music, and loves to hear from readers.

Website: www.charliecochet.com
Blog: www.charliecochet.com/blog
E-mail: charlie@charliecochet.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/charliecochet
Twitter: @charliecochet
Tumblr: www.charliecochet.tumblr.com
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/charliecochet
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/CharlieCochet
THIRDS HQ: www.thirdshq.com

 

 

Boy Midflight: Youth Nostalgia with Charlie David – Post + Giveaway

July 6, 2016

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Boy Midflight

by

Charlie David

 

Hi all!  I’m Charlie David and I’m happy to stop by here at the Dreamspinner Press blog.  It’s been such an exciting Spring for me as I’ve had my books published by Dreamspinner Press – first Mulligans, Shadowlands and now Boy Midflight.

Boy Midflight is largely constructed from my teenage journals.  The inherent nerves, fragility, and occasional brazenness embodied in the main character of Ashley are all aspects of me as a teenager.  This is a coming out story set in the 1990s and it’s fun to reflect on what has stayed timeless in the teenage experience and how other things have progressed at lightning speed.  The biggest change of course is technology and how it’s affected so many parts of our lives – for better or worse.

In the 90’s as a kid who felt different it was a monumental challenge to find a community to gel with.  Internet chat rooms existed of course but geo-location based apps did not.  This meant that even if you were lucky enough to forge a connection in an AOL or Yahoo chat room – it was more likely than not that your cyber person of interest was geographically far from you.  As a teenager even if they were in the same state – it may as well have been on Mars.

Due to this isolation, sexual experiences and loss of queer virginity did not generally happen in hyper-speed as they do with many young people today.  Reflecting on how I met my first boyfriends in the 90’s and the path of how our relationships blossomed in a more organic and in some ways traditional way left me feeling nostalgic.  Meeting guys who liked to kiss guys was certainly not as easy as it is today but somewhere in that greater challenge lived a little magic.

The hero of Boy Midflight is Ashley.  He’s a teen in his first year of college on Canada’s West Coast.  He has a crush on Jared Leto, Sun-In bleached hair, is brimming with teen angst and prays to Antonio Sabato Jr.  Ashley is unabashedly himself, ravenous to experience the world and all its wonders.

I wrote Boy Midflight when I was eighteen and so there’s a lot of humor in the naivety of the main character Ashley.  We were both still figuring a lot of things out and could easily be distracted by a copy of Teen Beat, especially if Jarod Leto graced the cover.  I mean seriously how beautiful is Jarod Leto?  Remember him leaned up against a locker with ripped jeans and a flannel tied carelessly around his waist in My So Called Life?  I would have done almost anything to take Claire Danes’ place so I could see what kissing him would be like.  The man is simply so pretty it hurts.  I’m so sorry, it happened again… I got distracted.

If you enjoy a main character who is quirky, ambitious and in love with

falling in love – then Boy Midflight might just put a smile on your face.

I’ll leave you with a question – please answer in the comments section below.  I’ll do a random draw from those who comment and share this post on their social (Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Pinterest, etc.).  The winner will receive a free rental of their choice from any of my movies or TV shows on http://border2border.ca

What ‘90’s celebrity had the power to dissolve your panties or jockstrap?

Boy Midflight

Synopsis

At eighteen, Ashley seems to have everything: looks, talent, and even a girlfriend. What more could a young man want? Yet something is missing, and he has to come to terms with his sexuality and the possible implications for his career in the public eye. He begins dating Chris but isn’t sure he’s head over heels in love. It’s not the knight-in-shining-armor feeling he always imagined.

When Ashley is offered a big modeling job, he leaves his university in small-town Canada for a very different life in sunny Los Angeles, California. There he meets a slightly older man who makes him feel like he’s in a storybook romance. But is Ashley ready for real love, or is it just infatuation? The world is spread out before him, at once limitless and daunting, full of endless possibilities one moment and opportunities cut short the next.

Ashley floats between certainty and confusion as he tries to unravel new feelings, deal with past pain, and decide what he wants from life—and who he wants beside him during the journey.

BUY LINKS

Dreamspinner Press: http://bit.ly/28J7sYx
Amazon: https://amzn.com/1634772415
Audible: http://adbl.co/28JhCyu
Nook: http://bit.ly/28JbcOE
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/28Ji9gh
Goodreads: http://bit.ly/28JKjcL
iBooks: http://apple.co/28IzMfG
All Romance: http://bit.ly/28JxLRP

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BOY MIDFLIGHT EXCERPT

 

“Which side do you want?” Mikal asks.

“Which side of what?”

“Which side of the bed do you want? Do you have a preference?”

Oh my Antonio Sabato Jr.! This room only has one bed! Why does this room only have one bed? Who thought of this? Were Ferni, Mikal, and I all going to sleep in one bed? Why didn’t I notice that before?

“Umm… I can just sleep on the couch here. You take the bed, Mikal.”

“You’re not sleeping on this thing. It’s not even a couch, it’s a love seat. You’ll wake up needing a chiropractor.”

We’ve been sitting on a love seat?

“Okay, well, I guess the left side is great, closest to the window,” I say. So I can fly out and escape to Neverland in the middle of the night.

I walk to the bathroom and close the door. I grab my toothbrush and start to vigorously clean. Always too aggressive, my dentist says. Use a softer brush. I hate soft brushes. I lean against the sink and stare into the mirror. Am I falling in love with him? You already have. That’s not a question. I wash my face and hum nervously into the splashing water. Something from Sondheim’s Into the Woods. Get over it, Ashley. He’s not that spectacular. I mean he’s eight years older than you. He was eighteen when I was ten. I was four when he was twelve. When I’m twenty-eight, he’ll be thirty-six. He’ll be able to tell me what forty is like and I’ll have eight years to prepare. I’ll be eighty and he’ll be eighty-eight. It probably doesn’t matter anymore by then. Except when you reach one hundred, then it’s like a celebration. And he could celebrate for eight years until I start. When you’re ninety you’re just old but making it to one hundred is like, wow, that’s something to really talk about. Okay, but right now I am eighteen and Mikal is twenty-six, with a little boy. I’m a boy. Seriously, I am still a boy. He’s a man. A full-grown man. Totally. He looks like a man. Full on man muscles, man chiseled face, man voice. I think I’m a man, but I’m still in man/boy stage. What if I grow into my full-on man stage and he doesn’t like it? What if Mikal only likes me because I am man/boy? I can’t stay man/boy forever. No matter what I do. Can I? I don’t know what will change, but things will. Older people are always saying things don’t stay the same.

Oh my Antonio! I am getting older right now! I can see it in the mirror. If I look really closely, I can actually see the skin around my eyes starting to pucker. And my jaw is widening. Did I just spring a hair on my chest? Shit. I’m going to go out there and Mikal will say, “What the hell happened to you? You were hot when you were man/boy. Now, not so much.”

Hold it! Okay. Attention! We need to figure out what is going on—right now. Organize the facts.

Fact: to the best of our knowledge, I am dating Chris.

Fact: I have not seen or spoke to Chris for over two weeks.

Fact: Mikal has stated definite interest in our territory.

Fact: Mikal is super hot.

Fact: Mikal is genuinely loving, even as I hold him at arm’s length.

Question from the council: Were you in love with Chris, or in love with the idea of being in love?

No comment.

Question from the council: We’ve seen pie charts, addendums and illustrated diagrams of your ideal mate. Mikal fits all listed descriptions. Is he what you call the One?

“Ashley, you okay, buddy? I got you some water here.”

“Be right out.”

Meeting adjourned.

I open the door and step into the warmth of the hotel room. The window, closest to my side of the bed, is open and the wind is rustling through the palm trees. The lights are all out but one, on the nightstand on my side of the bed. Mikal is already under the covers. Shirt off, one arm crooked behind his head. He smiles. “I built a Wall of China for us.”

“A what?” I ask.

“A Wall of China. I folded a blanket up and placed it under the covers between us. I thought it might make you sleep easier.”
“Mikal, I’m not worried about you. I appreciate the gesture though.” I pull off my shirt and unbutton my jeans. After tossing them on the love seat, I crawl into the left side of the bed. I laugh as I feel the Wall of China on my arm and leg. “Good night, Mikal,” I say, turning out the light.
“Good night, Ashley.”

I lay in the dark stillness and try to control my breathing. I don’t want to sound like I’m sucking air. After all, this is the first time we’ve slept together. I mean, we’re not really sleeping together, but we’re in the same bed. He could be naked over there. I didn’t see a shirt. He may sleep in the buff. And I’m just in my skivvies over here. All that’s separating his skin from mine is the Wall of China. A formidable barrier, yes, but scalable. You are not scaling the Wall! You are staying right here and going to sleep.

I lay on my back with my head facing the window. The warm salty air spills over the windowsill in a stream of magical light. I think I can hear the ocean lapping the beach. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight…. I can see eight stars from here. A perfect night. I turn my head and rest my eyes on Mikal, his chest rhythmically rising and falling. The shadows play perfectly in the valley between his chest and the crook of his arm still tucked behind his head. What would it hurt if I just placed a hand on that chest?

I’d like to just hold his hand as we fall asleep. Would that be wrong? I could just tear away this stupid Wall of China and surrender. His lips, pink and slightly parted, his jaw slightly rough and unshaven. What a startling and beautiful contrast. I settle on Mikal’s eyes, those big green almonds that look on me with so much care and concern. Now closed with his impossibly long dark eyelashes minutely dancing on each other. Are a guy’s eyelashes allowed to be that long and full?

I’d give anything to feel those icicles forming on my spine again. To press against this god’s warmth, curling one hand around that bicep. Mikal, my angel. My guardian. “Good night, handsome,” I say and turn to the window, closing my eyes. Did I just say that out loud? I did.

Then whispered across the darkness: “Good night, beautiful.”

I smile and drift off to sleep. Tomorrow is bursting with promise….

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About Charlie David

Charlie has been a host for E! Television, NBC, OutTV, LOGO, here! TV, Pink TV, EGO, Fine Living and Slice Networks on such shows as FYE!, SpyTV, Crash Test Mommy and his travel series Bump which shot over 100 episodes around the world and garnered a Hugo Television award. He has appeared as musical guest on VH1, BBC, CBS’s The Early Show, and dozens of radio shows.

In 2005 Out Magazine recognized Charlie in the ‘Out 100’ at their gala in New York.  In 2007 the Philadelphia Film Society awarded Charlie with their Rising Star Award.  In 2008 the Festival del Sol in Gran Canaria awarded their Best Male Actor Award to Charlie and the male cast of A Four Letter Word.  Formerly in a rock band… okay, actually it was a boy band, Charlie opened for Destiny’s Child, Pink, Snoop Dogg, Rick Springfield and Black Eyed Peas.

A love of storytelling led Charlie to start Border2Border Entertainment Inc., a production company whose film and television credits include Mulligans, Judas Kiss, I’m a Stripper (series), Studlebrity, Balls, I’m a Porn Star, I’m a Porn Star: Gay4Pay and Positive Youth. Border2Border Entertainment’s films have been licensed to Showtime, Super Channel, HBO Canada, MTV/LOGO, Sundance Channel, Discovery Networks, The Movie Network, Movie Central, Hollywood Suite, hereTV, Encore Avenue, and OutTV in North America as well as finding a worldwide audience through international distribution partners.

He is a graduate of the Canadian College of Performing Arts and his current passions include travel, encounters with wildlife, SCUBA diving, mosaic tiling and podcasts.  He resides in Toronto and Montréal, Canada when he’s not living out of a suitcase.

You can explore Charlie’s films and TV shows on his website at http://border2border.ca or become a part of his social media network by visiting:

YouTube https://www.youtube.com/user/MrCharlieDavid
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/officialcharliedavid
Twitter: https://twitter.com/charliedavid
Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/border2border
Audible: http://adbl.co/1K3xhz8
Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2895612.Charlie_David
Dreamspinner: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/AuthorArcade/charlie-david
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/mrcharliedavid/

Ace in the Hole: Love for All with Ava Drake

July 5, 2016

Ava Drake joins us today for a chat about new Dreamspun Desires Ace in the Hole and how she wrote her m/m novel.

Love for All

 

Greetings Darlings!

Alpha heroes. Bulging muscles. Hot eyes. Dark souls. Darker fantasies. Oh my, somebody pass me a fan, will you?

I confess, I’ve published fifty or so M/F romances, and every last one of them features an Alpha male. (Capital A intentional.) I spent a decade in the military, and if I wasn’t already a fan of strong guys, I surely was by the end of those years. It was a natural step for me to eventually make the leap of logic…

…If one alpha guy in a book was hot, having TWO in a book would surely be hotter!

I may not be the smartest cookie in the jar, but I eventually figured it out, and Ace in the Hole was born.

When Dreamspinner Press approached me with the idea of writing a traditional category romance for their new Dreamspun Desires line, I was absolutely delighted. I have long believed that the world would be a better place if everyone, regardless of gender, race, religion, or identity, was free to love whoever we want however we want. A radical notion, I know. Call me a rebel.

As a cis-gender woman, I pondered doing deep research into gay relationships. I certainly have a number of gay friends, and my daughter is a nationally recognized LGBTQ+ rights activist. But then it dawned on me, why should I write anything different than I would if I were writing about a M/F relationship instead of a M/M relationship? Sure, the dynamic with two alpha males can get a little chippy, but any woman worth her salt can give as good as she gets in a relationship, too.

And so, I simply sat down and wrote a story I would enjoy reading. I’m not convinced the best end goal is for the world to be gender blind, or race blind or religion blind or any other prejudice blind. Perhaps the goal should be for us to truly see one another and be inclusive of everything that we are.

That being the case, I wrote a romance novel for Christian Brandeis and Stone Jackson pretty much exactly like I would write a story with M/F characters or F/F characters, or PPE/PPE characters (Purple People Eaters). I call it Love-inclusive romance fiction.

At the end of the day, the narrative of any romance novel is “Love conquers fill in the blank.” That’s not, M/F love conquers fill in the blank. Just love. That’s what Christian and Stone learn in Ace in the Hole, and it’s why I dared as a straight woman to write their story. It’s a message worth putting out there in the universe. And just maybe books of inclusive love will open a few more hearts and minds to the notion that every human being deserves to be loved and to have a chance at their own happy-ever-after. Here’s hoping you’ve already found yours!

Smooches, Ava

 

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Check out Ace in the Hole today!

Blurb: 

Surveillance, seduction, and extra-dirty politics.

Christian Chatsworth-Brandeis has a problem. A huge one. The US senator he works for has run away with his latest mistress on the eve of a make-or-break fund-raising event, and it’s up to him to cover his boss’s irresponsible tracks.

Stone Jackson, the senator’s new bodyguard, looks enough like the senator that, with some extensive grooming, he might pass for Senator Lacey. Christian and Stone hatch a plan to fool everyone by substituting Stone for the senator, but Miami madness and the incendiary heat between them are throwing obstacles in their way. It’s a race to find the senator and pull off the con of the century before the attraction between them spins completely out of control.

About Ava:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Ava Drake grew up in the heart of the rural Midwest but beat a hasty retreat to the big city and bright lights as fast as humanly possible. Armed with a pilot’s license, fluency in several languages, a large dose of daring, and her dashing good looks, she took off to travel the world. Eventually, she came home and settled down to write award-winning stories of romance and adventure, which may or may not be autobiographical.

Everyday History: Story Hijackings with Alice Archer

June 30, 2016

Alice Archer joins us today to chat about the character that found her in new book Everyday History.

Everyday History

 

Welcome to the Everyday History blog tour. I send a big grin of thanks to Dreamspinner for including me here, and to Bree Archer for creating the perfect book cover for this story. In today’s tour stop, I’ll tell you how the story was unexpectedly hijacked.

Everyday History is about the chances we pass up, the magnetic force of true love, and how much we’re willing to do to deserve a second chance. The two main characters are Henry, a shy history teacher, and Ruben, a headstrong young man who is surprised by the force of his crush on his teacher. Henry is scrupulously responsible, however, so it’s not until after Ruben has graduated that Henry even acknowledges the chemistry between them.

Henry looks the way he does and has various traits because of a rogue postcard that reached out, took me by the throat, and wouldn’t let go.

About halfway through the process of writing Everyday History, I went into a bookstore and ran into Henry. That’s how it felt, anyway. I’d gone into town to do some errands, and Rombach, one of the big bookstores in downtown Freiburg, Germany, called to me, as always, so I went in to lose myself and find myself for a while. Happy and content, I flipped through a container of book-related postcards as I waited in the check-out line. I flipped to the next postcard and saw… Henry. Indisputably. Unequivocally. Remembering that moment still makes the hairs on my arms stand up.

You can take a look at the postcard – and Henry – online, here. It’s put out by Gutrath.com and the photo is by Ben Hupfer. I yanked the card out of the container, pawed through to find more of them, then straightened up and looked around. I wanted to grab someone – anyone – and make a scene, share the treasure I’d come across, tell them what it meant to me. But the people nearby were either wide-eyed tourists or close-faced Germans (they’re not being rude; they’re just private), I settled for hugging the postcards to my chest and grinning like a fiend.

I call the finding of this postcard of Henry a hijacking because until I found it – or it found me, which is more what it felt like – Henry wasn’t bald and he didn’t have deep blue eyes or ears that sort of stick out. Also, this postcard inspired the scene in the book where Ruben takes a surreptitious photo of Henry carrying a stack of books. With the postcard in my hand, I knew that a bunch of things in the overall story had to be (seriously, had to be) adjusted and revised and tweaked to make them more… true.

The other major story hijacking occurred because of James Morrison’s album The Awakening, which I listened to on automatic repeat for months as I wrote. I don’t think I listened to anything else during the writing of Everyday History. A friend of mine in a creative play group I belonged to showed me a music video online of Morrison singing a song from this album and I got hooked. I was deep into writing Everyday History by that time, and the album just seemed to fit the story. It complemented the themes and mirrored a lot of the emotions I was working with as I wrote. So I kept listening to it.

The Awakening hijacked Everyday History in ways that were more subtle and pervasive than the Henry postcard, because the album’s lyrics and the feelings they evoked circled in my brain and my heart as I finished and edited the story. I loved how I’d be sitting in my chair, staring into space, searching for a bit of inspiration in a scene that felt tricky, or stretching for a better word, and Morrison’s lyrics would deliver it. Right then, right when I needed it. It was spooky and perfect, over and over again. So I let him have his way with me, and kept listening.

Everyday History would be a different, less inspired, novel if it wasn’t for Ben Hupfer’s photo or James Morrison’s album. I can’t thank them enough for taking over my process and capturing my attention, because they reminded me to stay open to inspiration’s presence – everywhere, anywhere, anytime.

What’s your story of an inspirational hijacking? I love to hear tales about the muse in action in people’s lives.

I’ll continue the hijacking theme with the excerpt below. The story begins with Ruben walking into Henry’s classroom and capturing his attention.

 

Everyday History Excerpt

Every fall I begin the first class of the school year the same way. I’m not fool enough to think the students entering the Boston Museum of History’s internship program—high school seniors selected for their drive and intelligence—won’t want to test me. So I offer them a challenge. They always leap, assuming they’ll win. They won’t. Not the way they expect to.

My glasses and bald head, the way I dress—in tweed vests and ironed shirts, like a stereotype of a museum curator—work in my favor, keep me from being a threat. I stand behind my desk, hands clasped at the small of my back, suppressing a smile as the students enter the classroom for the first time, stealing looks at me, loud and boisterous to cover their nerves. They goof around, point at the unusual art I’ve packed into the room, and peer into the empty inkwells built into the tops of the old desks.

I want to smile because I know something they don’t, something they think they already know. They’re here because they think history is interesting. But I can make them fall so in love with history that the way they see themselves will shift forever.

Starting today.

Then he walks into the room with his arm around a beautiful girl.

His exuberance is incandescent. He doesn’t simply enter the classroom, he radiates into it, vibrant with life, as though fueled by an energy source of pure dazzle.

His effect on his classmates is instantaneous. Girls shamelessly bat their eyelashes at him. Boys jostle and joke. They slap him on the back, vying for his friendship. At least one of the boys bats his eyelashes, but he doesn’t seem to notice.

At first I think he’s going to be a disciplinary problem, but he’s the opposite. He holds out a desk chair for a pretty girl with red hair and then brings the other students into line by cajoling them into settling down and paying attention.

I blink, give myself a mental shake, and get down to business, starting with roll call.

His name is Ruben Harper.

 

Check out Everyday History today!

Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, ARe, Barnes & Noble, iTunes

Blurb

Headstrong Ruben Harper has yet to meet an obstacle he can’t convert to a speed bump. He’s used to getting what he wants from girls, but when he develops a fascination for a man, his wooing skills require an upgrade. After months of persuasion, he scores a dinner date with Henry Normand that morphs into an intense weekend. The unexpected depth of their connection scares Ruben into fleeing.

Shy, cautious Henry, Ruben’s former high school history teacher, suspects he needs a wake-up call, and Ruben appears to be his siren. But when Ruben bolts, Henry is left struggling to find closure. Inspired by his conversations with Ruben, Henry begins to write articles about the memories stored in everyday objects. The articles seduce Ruben with details from their weekend together and trigger feelings too strong to avoid. As Henry’s snowballing fame takes him out of town and further out of touch, Ruben stretches to close the gaps that separate them.

About the Author

Alice Archer has messed about with words professionally for many years as an editor and writing coach. After living in more than eighty places and cobbling together a portable lifestyle, she has lots of story material to sort through. It has reassured her to discover that even though culture and beliefs can get people into a peck of trouble when they’re falling in love, the human heart beats the same in any language. She currently lives near Nashville. Maybe this move will stick.

Website: alicearcher.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/alice.archer.author

Check out the other blogs on the Everyday History Blog Tour:

Jun 22 – MM Good Book Reviews

Jun 27 – Open Skye Book Reviews

Jun 29 – Prism Book Alliance, Long and Short Reviews

Jul 1 – My Fiction Nook

Jul 2 – Love Bytes

The Paranaturalist: Truth in Shadow w/ Ki Brightly

June 29, 2016

Ki Brightly joins us today to chat about new book The Paranaturalist and all things existential!

The Paranaturalist Blog Tour

Hello! This is Ki Brightly taking over a small corner of the Dreamspinner Press blog today.

My most recent novel, The Paranaturalist, was released on June 27th. This book fought me in various ways and took me longer than usual to write. Part of the reason it took so long to write is that the research I did while in the grip of the story seriously freaked me out and sent me into a quasi-existential crisis.

You know, all good things.

My—now—friend Patricia Coleman is a medium, paranormal investigator, and film maker. I asked around amongst my friends to see if anyone knew a person who was into ghost hunting and, luckily, they didn’t disappoint. I met up with Patricia because she, once upon a time, lived in the apartment below a good friend of mine. At first I thought I would just go interview her, ask her a few questions about techniques and cameras because, really, that was all I was looking for. I wanted technical accuracy in my books. You know, what kind of cameras do paranormal investigators (she immediately shot down my use of ghost chasers with a lot of enthusiasm) use? What sorts of tools and instruments?

Well…I got a whole lot more than I ever thought I would by talking to her. I went back to talk to Patricia a few times in her studio and a couple of times at her home. Patricia, Trish to people who know her well, is one of those people who is larger than life and entirely generous. Shocking blue eyes and bright blond hair, into her forties with Hollywood perfect make up, and blowing bubblegum smoke from an electronic cigarette, she’s a one-woman storm, bursting with energy.

The first real thing she ever said to me, while drilling me in place with those eyes of hers was, “So, what do you want to know?” I was deeply uncomfortable, felt weird about talking to someone about all the strange things I’ve thought about mostly on my own. She cocked an eyebrow, blew some more smoke, and proceeded to fill my brain with more interesting facts and fictions than I’ve ever experienced outside of a college classroom. And that’s what she is, a professor of the strange.

At the time when I first interviewed her, her studio was located in the Erie Art Works building, a hundred fifty years old if it’s a day. The quickest way to get anyone to “believe” in the paranormal, not that I really needed any convincing, is to let them experience it, so she took me around the building recording me, hoping to find EVPs—electronic voice phenomena. Basically, she was hoping to pick up the ghosts on audio. She asked me where I thought I felt weird things in the building. I laughed and joked my way through the building with her and was entirely shocked when we reviewed the footage.

One EVP in particular floored me. I’m at a corner of a hallway and I stop, turn to her and say something along the lines of “I feel someone right here.” And very low on the voice track, so low you have to turn up the volume almost until it hurts you ears I definitely heard a “Hi.” There were other things on the track that night, including a very disturbing EVP of a woman saying “help me” over and over again.

That, I guess, is what started the existential crisis I talked about at the beginning of this post. I don’t honestly like to think too much about it. Patricia insists that ghosts, disembodied entities, are everywhere, even the most mundane places like the grocery store. I sort of believe her. But why are they there?

Why are some people apparently stuck? And how much would that suck?

That shaped the direction The Paranaturalist took, to a large degree, because I met with her well before the ending was even a twinkle in my eye. Every time I visit her we manage to talk about something that sets the hairs on my arms on end and leaves me shaken up in my head for a day or two, but some people are just like that. Some people live their entire lives swimming in the big questions, and they stir the rest of us around every once in a while.

We really need people like that to keep the rest of us from getting too boring.

The Paranaturalist is about two men finding their way through the big questions of life, all that weird stuff that the rest of us relegate to the corners of our mind. Joe’s looking to find his true self, where and who he belongs with, and has been looking for years. Owen wants to find some direction for his life. He needs to have a purpose. Hungers for it. Doesn’t everyone? If they’re lucky, they’ll both navigate their way out of the darkness with each other.

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Here’s an excerpt from The Paranaturalist. This is from Owen’s perspective.

 

“God. That really happened to you?” I nod, and he lets out a shaky breath.

“I… I… um… I don’t want to do this anymore,” he says, breath hitching.

“Too bad. It’s your gift.”

“Curse.”

“Only if you’re stupid about it. You’re able to do something not many people
can,” I point out as I shuffle half a step forward. Any closer and we’ll be the same
person. I know what I want to do right now. I don’t rub myself all over him like a
horny high-school kid, but it’s a near miss. The taste of him earlier wasn’t enough.

“What is that? Be a puppet?” He turns his head to let out a cough, and I hold
my own breath, only letting it go with relief when he clears his throat, going silent
again. I rest my hands on his shoulders and squeeze. He doesn’t seem upset to have
me between him and the rest of the dark basement. Happiness close to pride swells
in me, along with the insistence I do more than stare like a moron at lips that only
ever really look approachable when they’re smiling.

“No, be their voice. Help them. Other people can’t see them, let alone help
them.” A tidal wave of approval crashes around inside me from Otto. Good. Maybe
I’ve fulfilled whatever obligation he thinks I have.

“Then why do some of them want to hurt me?” I knead my fingers into his
tight shoulders and his lips tilt up at the corners.

“Death doesn’t change bastards into saints. And sometimes even good
people don’t want help. Some spirits aren’t even human. That piece of shit you
just chased out sure isn’t. They’re something else. Some good, some bad.” I shrug,
losing myself in thought. I’ve seen a lot over the years. Mostly bad, but I don’t
want to say it out loud. People don’t generally call me for help with nice hauntings.
There’s a question he’s not asking written in the tightness around his eyes. Oh,
how badly it can all go when you ignore your gifts.

***

If you would like to be entered into a drawing to win a paperback copy of The Paranaturalist, please tell me your stories of encounters with the ghostly and strange in the comments below! Winner will be announced at midnight, June 29th, 2016. (U.S. Entrants only, please.)

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Check out The Paranaturalist today!

Dreamspinner Press E-Book
Dreamspinner Press Paperback
Amazon

Blurb:

As a kid, Joseph Appleyard saw things hidden from others. Now he is The Paranaturalist, an investigator and cohost of a television show that seeks to prove the existence of the paranormal. Some think Joe is crazy, but they don’t realize he knows firsthand there’s more to the world than what most perceive. The trouble is, somewhere along the way, Joe lost his vision and it left his world flat and dull. One night an investigation goes horribly wrong, and a powerful ghostly manifestation sends Joe tumbling into a river. Spirit worker Owen Watson saves Joe’s life, and once they are back on dry land, whatever has been blocking Joe’s vision has been washed away.

When a haunting goes from annoying to dangerous, people turn to Owen Watson. He hates those infuriating hacks from TV, but when he pulls Joe from the river, his mind begins to change. Joe is scared and confused, and Owen realizes he might just be the real thing. Together, they work to understand the part of Joe that has been shut away for so long. But just as Joe is reacclimating to his abilities, his career as a paranormal investigator is in danger of being ripped away. Owen would gladly battle a bloodthirsty spirit for Joe, but he’s out of his element in the world of reality television.

About Ki Brightly:

Ki grew up in small town nowhere pretending that meteor showers were aliens invading, turning wildflowers into magic potions, and reading more than was probably healthy. Ki had one amazing best friend, one endlessly out of grasp “true love”, and a personal vendetta against normalcy.

Now, as an adult, living in Erie, Pennsylvania, Ki enjoys the sandy beaches, frigid winters, and a wonderful fancy water addiction. Seriously, fancy waters…who knew there were so many different kinds? It’s just water…and yet…

Ki shares this life with a Muse, a Sugar Plum, and two wonderful children.

Social Media

Blog: www.brightlybooks.wordpress.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kibrightly
Twitter: https://twitter.com/kibrightly
Tumblr: http://kibrightly.tumblr.com/

Quinn Dressler’s Story Before Murder Most Yowl

June 28, 2016

Quinn Dressler joins us today to chat about new book Murder Most Yowl
and life leading up to her new release.

Quinn Dressler's

Hi to everyone who loves Dreamspinner Press.

My name is Quinn. I’ve been a reader, and lover, of Dreamspinner fiction for many years now, and I’m very proud to say that I have now joined the author ranks, as Dreamspinner will release my new cozy mystery novella, Murder Most Yowl on June 29th.

I remember the exact moment I discovered I could read gay fiction whenever I wanted. It was the day Evan Lysacek won his ice skating gold medal back in 2010. That was the day I discovered that Amazon made an app that worked with my Blackberry, and they had a gay fiction section in their Kindle store.

After that there was no going back. I started downloading book after book, and really enjoyed reading about men who overcame all obstacles to be together. MEN. Not a man and a woman. I finally could enjoy reading about pairings I was really interested in.

I read several novels, then started to pay attention to the company that published them. One name kept popping up over and over, Dreamspinner.

After a while it hit me, maybe I could try my hand at conjuring up a story or two of my own.

I’d always made up stories in my head ever since I was in school, but never really wrote them down until fan fiction hit the internet in the early 2000s. I participated in a few fandoms, but always felt a little confined. While sharing adventures with existing characters is great, it’s much more fun, and hard, to create an entire literary universe on your own.

So I put on my creative thinking cap and started to write.

I took a look at the Dreamspinner site and found they were looking for short stories for a line of anthology books. One was called Bare Studs. In this anthology they wanted stories about rugged men working rugged jobs. Growing up around airplanes I immediately thought about the strong men who work on the tarmac loading luggage into planes before every flight. That was the origin of my story Love on the Tarmac.

With that success to spur me on, I decided to take on the big task of writing a whole book. I love mysteries, especially the cozy kind with lots of romance, thrills and adventure. Each filled with warm and loving characters. I also love cats. I have raised five felines in my lifetime and am currently a pet parent to a sixth, Bailey. After years of antics I have plenty of cat stories to share, so I decided to combine m/m romance, mystery and kitties in one action packed story.

The result is Murder Most Yowl.

A former NCIS agent, Cameron Sherwood turned his back on law enforcement when a case led to the death of an innocent gay man. Instead he opened up his dream business, a shop that catered to cats. But when a friend is murdered and her cat injured, Cam didn’t hesitate to bump heads with a sexy, yet stubborn sheriff to make sure the cat is okay and a killer gets caught.

 

Here’s a sample.

 

“What do you mean the cat is gone?”

The Sheriff of Sunrise Cove loomed over me, eyes blazing, hoping to make me squirm in my kitchen chair. Handcuffs jiggled in front of my nose, the light bouncing off the shiny metal at a dozen odd angles.

Sheriff Jake O’Neil apparently thought he was a tough guy, but he was out of his league. I was tall and skinny, and people often underestimated me. The sheriff expected me to wilt under the strength of that steely gaze, but when it came to playing good cop, bad cop, I was an expert.

“As I’ve said three times, Sheriff, the cat needed immediate medical attention. I asked my assistant to come and take him to the vet then I waited for you.”

“You’re such a Good Samaritan.” Was that sarcasm? He leaned down and rattled the cuffs at my eye level. “You removed evidence from a crime scene.”

“I tried to save a cat’s life. That’s hardly tampering with evidence.”

“That’s not your call to make.” His hot breath washed against my skin.

“What would you do? Let the animal die?”

“Of course not. I’m not an ogre.”

I flinched away from his gaze. Clearly I’d hurt his feelings. I’d assumed he was a jerk, like nearly every small-town cop I’d ever worked with. It looked like I was wrong.

“Finding Ms. Welch’s body was a shock. I guess it knocked the sense right out of me. I’m sorry, Sheriff.”

“Well, I suppose you didn’t know any better.” O’Neill stood straight, and put his cuffs back on his belt. “Next time you call for help first.”

“I hope there never is a next time.”

O’Neill whispered, “Me too.”

So that’s how Yowl starts. What follows is a romp snark, love, a run in with the Russian mob, rich poor, dogs and… oh, yes, cats.

Got any great cat stories to share? I’d love to hear them.

Quinn's Cat

You can reach me at the following places:

Blog: https://quinndressler.wordpress.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100012216971417
Dreamspinner Author Page: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/AuthorArcade/quinn-dressler
Twitter: @dressler_quinn
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/41984299-quinn-dressler?utm_medium=api
Email: quinndressler@gmail.com

 

Until we chat again.

Quinn

Check out Murder Most Yowl today!

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Blurb:

Cat-sitting is a dangerous business.

Cameron Sherwood turned his back on law enforcement the night his investigation led to the death of an innocent gay man. Now Cam spends his time running a business that caters to his favorite animal, cats. But when Cam stumbles upon the body of a friend while feeding her feline, he can’t walk away. Dealing with a sexy yet stubborn sheriff, a matchmaking sister, and a terrifying blind date, Cam must somehow track down a killer, all while keeping the cats around him fed with his gourmet cat treats.

With Our Own Words with J. Scott Coatsworth on A More Perfect Union

June 27, 2016

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Early last year, Dreamspinner author B.G. Thomas asked three of us–myself, Jamie Fessenden, and Michael Murphy–to join him in an exciting project. With the US Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality on the horizon, he was looking for married gay authors to write about gay couples on the path to marriage. “A More Perfect Union” will be published on Marriage Equality day, June 26th. It’s a book that we are immensely proud of. And the experience of writing that story made me reflect on the long road that brought us here.

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Check out the original USA Today article, published May 30, 2016.

I thought I would celebrate both marriage equality and the release of the book by looking at where we’ve been—my husband Mark and I, the authors as a group of married gay men, and the whole of the LGBTIQA community.

 

April 20th, 1992

My husband Mark and I joined this fight gradually. When we first met in April of 1992, the idea that we might someday be legally married seemed about as likely as the idea that we might one day have a black president. Candidate Bill Clinton opened that door just a little, but it was soon firmly and resoundingly slammed shut again as Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act.

Those few months were a heady time, before all the bad things went town in Congress with Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act. I remember them well. I was 24, and it was Clinton’s initial statements that gave me the courage to come out to my family, and that in turn re-enforced the strength of my convictions. You are stronger when your family is behind you.

We didn’t personally engage in the fight until the early 2000’s. Mark and I created a wedding directory for gay and lesbian couples, and started attending rallies in San Francisco and Sacramento.

In the meantime, state by state, legal and constitutional bans were put into place to block people like Mark and I from getting married.

 

February 14th, 2004

On a late winter day in 2014, Gavin Newsom opened the doors of the city clerk’s office to the gay and lesbian community, and an air of celebration reigned in the City by the Bay. But one question floated above it all—something that our gay friends recognize instantly when we talk about it, and something that’s as foreign to our straight friends as the wilds of Africa. “Will it count?”

For Mark and I, it was “the” question. For almost a month we went back and forth over whether or not to get married. Yes, we loved each other. Yes, we had always planned to get married eventually, when it was legal. But was it real? Would it be snatched away? Do we throw our hearts into it, and invite our family and friends, only to see it all taken away?
Of all the problems facing our parents when they got married – where to have the ceremony, civil or religious, what flavor to make the cake, and how to seat the guests – “will it count” was never a concern.

In the end, we decided to take the chance. On March 10th, we checked the San Francisco clerk’s website, and although they had been booked for weeks, there was suddenly an opening the very next day. It felt like “meant to be.”

So we packed our suitcases, hopped in the car, and drove to The City. We called our parents (talk about uncharted ground), and explained why this was so important to us. We promised to do this again “for real” at a later date, and asked them to come if and when the state finally made it legal. And they all said yes.

We arrived late at City Hall because traffic was so bad, but they took us in anyway.

Looking back, I remember how normal it all felt, and what a wonderful word normal could be. Two perfect strangers were there for us, one to act as our witness, and one as our officiant, free of charge because they’d heard about the weddings and wanted to come do something and to be a part of it all. We said our vows at the top of the grand staircase, under the vaulted dome of city hall, and when we said “I Do”, both of us felt a sudden, unexpected rush of connectedness and love as the city of San Francisco recognized our relationship and our marriage.

There’s power in recognition.

What had started as a political act for us was suddenly so much more. It meant something. And at that moment, I understood the difference between a “domestic partnership” and a true marriage.

Later that day, the state Supreme Court called a halt to the weddings at last after twenty six days—just an hour or two after we were married. And months later, our license was invalidated by that same court. It turned out it didn’t “count”, after all.

And yet it did, to us.

 

January 1, 2008

On the first day of the new year, we took another step forward to fight for our rights. We started Gay Marriage Watch, initially a weekly and then a daily blog to chronicle everything going on in the fight for equality. The term “marriage equality” didn’t exist yet. And initially we only had a handful of articles to post each week. Eventually, that would swell to 30-80 a day, but things were just getting rolling.

The presidential election was gathering steam. We started to get excited about the underdog in the race, a young guy from Illinois named Barack Obama. And as he gained momentum, we saw the possibility he represented for both the LGBTIQA community and for the country as a whole.
So we jumped on the Obama bandwagon and donated to the campaign, cast our primary vote, and made campaign calls for our new hope.

Then on June 16th, 2008, the California Supreme Court released its ruling, I sat at my desk, logged into the Supreme Court website, hitting refresh over and over and over on my browser at 9:59, 10:00 am… and suddenly, there it was.

I started to cry—the impossible had happened. The same Court that had torn asunder our marriage license four years before now said we had every right to get married. It was a moment of utter elation, sheer joy, and unmitigated relief… but all of these fail to capture the upwelling of emotions we felt. Validation. Vindication. Hope.

But dark clouds were already gathering.

People forget that Prop 8 didn’t come out of thin air. It was not a reaction to the California Supreme Court decision. At least, not directly. Signature gathering to put it on the ballot had begun the year before, as part of the national effort to codify discrimination into the constitutions of every state. The ruling simply poured fuel on that hateful fire.

Summer passed into fall, and then, all at once, the ads started. Mayor Newsom, sneering “whether you like it or not”, trampled all over the ineffective Anti Prop 8 ads showing a bride being tripped at her wedding or a couple of parents talking about their daughter and her partner. As a community, we were asleep at the switch, unable to see what was bearing down upon us. When it hit, it was too late to fight back. Prop 8’s poll numbers started out around 42%. We watched in growing dismay as they climbed to 44%, and then 45%, and then 47%.

The lawns and fences in our California town were awash in a sea of yellow, with thousands of pro Prop 8 signs drowning our neighborhoods. As autumn progressed, it became painfully clear what a great motivator fear could be.

As Prop 8 rose in the polls, all those familiar questions from four years before came flooding back. Get married now, and risk it being taken away? Or do we wait, and risk losing the chance?
Sometimes, I’d lay awake at night, unable to sleep, and would get up at three in the morning to write an editorial against Prop 8 on the blog, just to get the anger and fear and sadness out of my head and onto the screen. To be doing something, anything to shout out the truth and try to cut through the thicket of lies and deceptions woven around the issue.

We realized in mid-October that our window was quickly closing. Our dream of a big beautiful wedding with all of our family around us was about to be snatched away. In the end, with just three weeks to go before the election, we decided to let go of all of our “big wedding” dreams. I remember the day very clearly – sitting with Mark at lunch at our favorite Italian restaurant in Sacramento, talking about what to do next. Once again agonizing over not having the wedding we wanted, this time over gnocchi, chicken saltimbocca and French fries. And looking up at Mark and saying…

“What if we invited our parents?” What if we made this wedding “real”? What if we didn’t do this alone? That night, we called them–my mom and dad, and Mark’s mom.

I still remember my mom saying “of course I’ll be there.” She had supported me from the day I came out, but there was always that… pause, when we talked about LGBT issues. And now, at last, the pause was gone.
So the calls went out, and the mad rush to beat the election began. We dove in head-first, together, and within days, we had an officiant, a violinist, and a photographer for our wedding day.

But we still didn’t know where we would be getting married. We wanted something outdoors, but in November it often rains in San Francisco, so we had to have a back-up. Then we found the perfect place – a restaurant in the Embarcadero Center, with a beautiful patio overlooking Justin Herman Plaza, the Ferry Building, and the Bay Bridge – a picture-perfect setting for the perfect day. And half the patio was covered, just in case.

As the day drew quickly closer, we watched the weather forecasts diligently. It had been such a dry year—surely, we thought, the odds against rain were high. But as each day passed into the next, the prospects for our sunny, “perfect” day dimmed. One day, the forecast said 20% rain in our wedding day. 20% in San Francisco in the winter means it might rain, a little, and be sunny, a little, and if you don’t like the weather where you’re at, just walk a block. On the next, it was 40%—we were worried, but not freaked out. Weather forecasters are wrong all the time, we thought.

Three days out, the odds were up to 60%. We were so glad that we had booked a covered space, but still, no one wants it to rain on their wedding day. Two days, and it topped 80%. At last, on the day before, as we prepared to drive down to San Francisco once again, rain was a virtual certainty at 100%. And the strongest part of the storm was going to blow through just as we said our vows.

I didn’t know whether to be angry, or sad; to cry or to laugh.

“It’s supposed to be lucky if it rains on your wedding day,” Mark said with a grin. So I laughed. And in the end, he was right.

The ceremony started under the tent, as the rain poured down just feet away outside. Mark’s mom walked him down the aisle, followed by my mom and I.

I remember so many little, independent things about that afternoon: the violinist playing The Four Seasons. The officiant giving us a hurried run-through before, telling us not to forget to breathe, and then stumbling over her words as I leaned over to whisper “breathe” in her ear. My Father, reading the piece we chose for him, and telling us it said everything he’d wanted to say.

Our mothers together, handing us the candles to light. Reading each other our vows, and hearing for the first time the words my wonderful partner had chosen to seal his love for me.

The warm, perfect feeling of this is right.

And the rain.

The splattering of the raindrops closed the world in around us, shutting out the traffic, the noise, the rest of the city, until it was just us.

When it was all over, we stood together, alone in each others arms, and cried.

When we are little, we see people get married on TV, in movies, in real life. Boy meets girl, boy romances girl, and they have the picture-perfect wedding. Growing up as gay kids, as lesbian kids, even as bi and transgender kids, we dream of that perfect wedding. But we all realized, at some point, that we were never going to have that perfect day, that smiling recognition of our relationships and the affirmation of friends, family, and even our government.

But things can change in an instant, and the impossible can become real.
It was the perfect day. Everyone who supposed to be there was there, and after seventeen years together, though the timing was not what we’d hoped for, it was exactly how it was supposed to be.

 

November 4th, 2008

Three days later, we were at the Obama campaign headquarters in Fair Oaks. We charted candidate Obama’s march across the country as he picked up electoral votes in state after state.

Change was in the air. We could all feel it—it was electric. I still remember when he crossed 270 and the cheers went up in the room at the election Barack Obama. I ran outside and called my mom in Tucson to tell her the news. We laughed and we cried, and then we said good night.
Less than an hour later, Prop 8 was passed and slammed the door on marriage equality in California. It was a terrible blow, made all the worse by the contrast with the election of the first African American President in our country’s history. It felt like an ending, a painful repudiation of everything we had fought for. Maybe if we had spent more time fighting Prop 8, this wouldn’t have happened.

It felt like the end of the world, and although we had gotten married just under the wire once again, we were saddened to think of all the other gay and lesbian couples who were now shut out of what Mark and I shared.

But we were wrong. It wasn’t an ending—it was just the beginning. The pain all of us felt on that November night became a catalyst for a change that would sweep across the country in seven short years, bringing marriage equality to everyone.

We were going to get our revolution, after all.

 

June 26th, 2015

Almost seven years after our wedding date, we waited on a Supreme Court announcement for the fourth time in our lives. The first one, at the California Supreme Court, had snatched away our San Francisco marriage license. The second one had opened the door for us to be married in the eyes of the state. The third, just a year before, had struck down the hateful Proposition 8, which had slammed the marriage door closed behind us, and had weakened DOMA.

Now we waited, once again, for a ruling which had the potential to change our lives. The US Supreme Court was going to make a final decision on the Defense of Marriage Act.

The LGBTIQA community had rolled the dice after the passage of Prop 8, and in moments, we would find out if we’d won or set back the cause for a generation.

I was scared to death. And I was filled with melancholy. Because if we won, it would all be over. This struggle that had defined my generation.

Then it came, and it was a moment of almost blinding joy. President Obama summed it up nicely:

“This morning, the Supreme Court recognized that the Constitution guarantees marriage equality. In doing so, they’ve reaffirmed that all Americans are entitled to the equal protection of the law. That all people should be treated equally, regardless of who they are or who they love… …today, we can say in no uncertain terms that we’ve made our union a little more perfect.”

The fight was over. And the team went home.

 

Now

I spent another ten months putting out the now-renamed Marriage Equality Watch blog. But all things must eventually come to an end. On April 30th, 2016, I put up my last post, a re-run of one of the first posts I ever wrote for MEW in early 2008:

But if nothing else, I’ve learned patience these last seven years. I will hold on to my hope that positions will continue to evolve… that Hillary will find her voice on this issue, and will remember her many gay and lesbian friends, including David Mixner, who helped get her husband into office. And I will hope that Barack Obama will continue to be “open to the possibility that my unwillingness to support gay marriage is misguided.”

And I thank both Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich for being man enough to stand up and say that gay marriage is a matter of basic equality. They give me hope that I may yet live to see gay marriage become a reality in the United States in my lifetime.

And wouldn’t that be something.

Yes. Yes it was.

Others will continue the political fights. Transgender rights are the next frontier, and our trans brothers and sisters will need all of our support in the next few years as they beat back their own generation’s series of Prop 8’s.

As for us, we’ll still be around. Mark and I continue to donate to the cause, and I’m sure you’ll see us at a rally now and then. And I am fiercely in support of transgender rights, the end of bisexual erasure, and the continuing battle to ensure equal treatment for all.

For myself, I’m taking a different tact. I have been writing successfully for a couple years now, and am proud to be a part of a new
project – a book to be released on Marriage Equality Day, 2016. It’s titled “A More Perfect Union”, and it’s the first of its kind. Four stories about love and marriage by four openly gay and happily married men.

 

MorePerfectUnion[A]_postcard_front_DSP

The four of us—myself, B.G. Thomas, Jamie Fessenden and Michael Murphy—have a combined 21 years of marriage and 88 years together as couples.

We are offering our takes on same-sex relationships, love, and matrimony—men who thought legal marriage was a right they would never have. Men who, unbelievably, now stand legally joined with the men they love. With this book, we are sharing the magic and excitement of dreams that came true—in tales of fantasy and romance with a dose of their personal experiences in the mix. To commemorate the anniversary of full marriage equality in the US, this anthology celebrates the idea of marriage itself, and the universal truth of it that applies to us all, gay or straight.

Thanks to Dreamspinner for giving us this platform. I am really proud of my story and this book. I am proud of the journey Mark and I have taken to get here. And for the four of us collectively, it’s our hope as authors to continue to change hearts and minds with the thing we do best.

Our own words.

 

Check out A More Perfect Union today!

Blurb:

On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States made a monumental decision, and at long last, marriage equality became the law of the land. That ruling made history, and now gay and lesbian Americans will grow up in a country where they will never be denied the right to marry the person they love.

But what about the gay men who waited and wondered all of their lives if the day would ever come when they could stand beside the person they love and say “I do”?

Here, four accomplished authors—married gay men—offer their take on that question as they explore same-sex relationships, love, and matrimony. Men who thought legal marriage was a right they would never have. Men who, unbelievably, now stand legally joined with the men they love. With this book, they share the magic and excitement of dreams that came true—in tales of fantasy and romance with a dose of their personal experiences in the mix.

To commemorate the anniversary of full marriage equality in the US, this anthology celebrates the idea of marriage itself–and the universal truth of it that applies to us all, gay or straight.

 

 

BA Tortuga’s Thoughts on Love, Luck, and Loss

June 24, 2016

BA tortuga's

I’m writing this blog post the day after the tragedy at The Pulse in Orlando, and I have to tell you, I don’t know what to say.

It’s my job to say the right things – to be charming and clever and a little ribald. It’s my job to be down-to-earth, a little sexy, a little funny. It’s my job to tell y’all that happy endings can be real. I’m supposed to cheer on my book and shake my pompoms and be the happy little goofball redneck that all y’all know.

I can’t.

I cannot do that right now.

Happy endings can be real. I know this. I am unbearably aware of my own luck that I am married to the woman I love more than I can bear. I’m lucky that my son is still with us. Happy endings can be real.

Today that luck is draped in sorrow.

Today I’m in mourning. Today I look at the blank page and I cry for all those kids that died because someone else didn’t approve of who they loved. Today I don’t have charming or clever. Hell, today I don’t have words.

Today I have tears.

Today my heart is broken. Today I’m furious that my family has been attacked. Today I’m sending love to those left behind – the ones with empty arms, the ones with injuries, the ones crying for reasons so much more immediate.

I write books about happy endings. I will continue to do so. The world needs happy endings and I do believe. I believe that each and every one of us deserves our happy ending. That’s why I do what I do. It’s my job, it’s my joy, and it’s my calling.

Too bad there are so many people who keep stealing them from us.

Much love, y’all. Seriously. Much love.

BA Tortuga

 

Want to help the victims of Pulse? Check out the GoFundMe campaign and donate!

 
 
 
 
 

***

Mud, Movies, Bullets, and Bulls

MudMoviesBulletsandBulls_postcard_front_DSP

Official blurb: Four men in need of a helping hand….

When a cowboy finds he has grit in all the wrong places, what is he to do? Meet the man of his dreams, of course. But what will save two cowboys from getting bogged down in the mire?

An ex-rodeo cowboy who hates working with Hollywood actors meets a movie star who is looking for something real. Will they get a happy ending, just like in the movies?

A redneck ends up injured and stranded, and his old friend comes to the rescue. It’s the old story of the one that got away. What will they do to keep each other in their lives—and will it be too late?

A professional bull rider is starting to feel his age. When he’s injured far from home and his career is threatened, it’s up to his best friend to step in and point out the other options. Both men have plans—but will they include each other?

 

Dreamspinner Press
Amazon

 

You can find BA at:

Website: http:www.batortuga.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/batortuga
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/batortuga
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/batortuga/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/batortuga
Blogger: http://batortuga.blogspot.com/
Instagram: https://instagram.com/batortuga/
Tumblr: http://batortuga.tumblr.com/

 

BA Tortuga bio:

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

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

 

Jake C. Wallace chats about Soul Seekers and themes in writing + Giveaway

June 22, 2016

Digging into Themes

Hi, everyone! Thanks to Hayley for letting me steal some blog time on my release day. Soul Seekers is my fifth novel, but my first from Dreamspinner—and it won’t be my last. I have four more novels slated to be released from Dreamspinner in the next year. Find out which ones after you read about my new release. Don’t forget to click on the link below to enter the rafflecopter giveaway.

Here’s a bit about Soul Seekers.

Soul Seekers is a fantasy/paranormal that centers around nineteen-year-old Levi. Levi has a problem; he doesn’t feel emotions like others do. What he feels are hollow echoes of what they should be. He can’t connect with others, has never had a boyfriend, has never even kissed anyone. He’s been on antidepressants since he can remember, been to therapy, but nothing has helped. Until he meets Jeb.

Jeb is cocky, arrogant, self-assured, and Levi hates the man who’s been stalking him. He also hates himself for being attracted to Jeb. Levi learns that Jeb isn’t a stalker, but is there to help him. He’s going to help Levi get his soul back. Levi doesn’t believe that his soul is missing. No one can remove a soul, but with the weirdness he’s encountered since he was a child, he has to wonder.

Levi’s disbelief soon changes as he discovers people he knows, he loves, aren’t who they seem to be. He’s been betrayed and lied to his entire life. He’s thrown into a world where people can see souls and remove them, the world of Seers and Keepers. Rules are in place that must be followed given the dangerous nature of their abilities. Seers and Keepers work for the good of the world, creating balance in the natural energy that makes up all life.

Not all are as altruistic. There are those Seers and Keepers who want to use their power disrupt positive energy. They need Levi to make that happen. If they succeed, the entirety of human existence would be wiped out. It’s up to Levi to stop them.

Writing this story was quite the ride. Researching a concept to incorporate into a story is just as exciting as writing it. For this story, I delved into the phenomenon of the soul as far back as Socrates and Plato, in different religions and in different cultures. I have to say the information was fascinating.

When I write a story, the plot quickly branches off into several side plots and gets quite complicated. The MC and each character have their influence. Adding in researched information isn’t as hard as it sounds. As I’m researching, I’m picturing scenarios, interactions, problems, etc., a certain fact could create. The more complicated and technical the information the better. This gives me a greater knowledge that incorporates the meaning seamlessly.

All of my stories revolve around a theme/concept. In Curiosity Killed Shaney, Sacred Geometry is main source of power. In Dare to Love Forever, the treatment of minorities was magnified to create a world where vampires are third class citizens.

I’m sure you see a pattern here.

There are endless themes and ideas that can spark a story. I’m sure even those who aren’t writers hear or read something and think, “That would make a great idea for a story.”

What do you think would make a good idea or spark for a plot?

It can be a person, a place, a certain culture, something in the realm of magic and the paranormal, a job/career, something that’s happened to you or someone else, a saying, a feeling…anything you can think of be the start of a great story.

Post yours in the comments below for all of us to read. Anyone who comments will earn an extra entry into my Rafflecopter giveaway ending on 6/30. (Don’t forget to enter using the link below). I can’t wait to read your ideas!

What Dreamspinner Did to Save Me and What’s Coming Next

Dreamspinner saved me when I really needed them. Shortly after Soul Seekers was accepted, my other publisher, Amber Allure, announced they were closing. Three of my four novels published with them, and a recently submitted sequel, were homeless.

Yeah, I freaked.

Getting it together, I sent Elizabeth an email. No doubt being pummeled with emails from other authors, she responded. By March, all three novels and the sequel were accepted. In the end, I contracted two previous stories and the sequel. They have also accepted a new contemporary story.

Here are the books and their expected release windows.

Dare to Love Forever: NVJ Book 1 

Republished paranormal. 10,000 words added, more information about the vampire world, more scenes in the first half of the book. Plot and ending was not changed

_______________________________________________

Sept/Oct 2016

A Chance for Us, NVJ Book 2  

New sequel: Tells the story of Justin and Max

_______________________________________________

Nov/Dec 2016

Jerricho’s Freedom    

Republished paranormal/fantasy, Mpreg, demons.

_______________________________________________

Jan/Feb 2017

Happily Ever After Isn’t Easy

New contemporary about a gay man in his forties who becomes single after eighteen years of marriage to a woman.

(an experience plucked from my own life)

Mar/Apr 2017

Check out Soul Seekers today!

Dreamspinner Press
All Romance eBooks
Amazon
Barnes & Noble

SoulSeekers_postcard_front_DSP

Blurb

Nineteen-year-old college student Levi Reed has spent his life with hollow emotions and a darkness so deep that he’s convinced he’s losing his mind. He’d give anything to feel something, anything, real.

When a mysterious stranger appears, Levi is convinced the man is trying to kill him. When he’s near, Levi experiences head-crushing pain and something surprising—real emotions for the first time. Jeb Monroe is arrogant, self-assured, closed-off, and handsome, but his isn’t the harbinger of doom Levi assumed. Jeb’s mission: help Levi find his missing soul.

Levi is pulled into the secret world of Seers and Keepers, those born with the innate abilities to manipulate souls and tasked with balancing the negative energy they can produce. Levi learns he possesses a rare gift, and he’s in danger. As Jeb and Levi grow closer, they discover a group of zealots who want to harness Levi’s power to cleanse the world of damaged souls. Everyone Levi cares for is threatened unless he agrees to become their tool of death. But agreeing could spell the destruction of humankind. With no one to trust and nothing as it appears, it’s up to Levi to save them all.

 

Excerpt

Levi could scarcely appreciate the magnitude of the force growing from some primitive pit deep within his mind. It—whatever it was—was surfacing, ready or not.

He had to get out. Running was his only solution, the only thing that made sense. A break with one’s psyche had to be messy and definitely nothing a room full of his fellow students deserved to witness. It sounded like nasty business.

“Hey,” Gia whispered, setting her hand on Levi’s shoulder. “You okay?”

Gia’s touch shot pain into his bones and was more than he could stand. He jerked away.

“Levi?” Concern colored Gia’s voice.

Unprecedented pressure crowded Levi’s mind, and, like a balloon filled past capacity, something eventually had to give. Terrifying visions of his gray and white brain matter splattering across student’s faces, on pages of open textbooks, on Mr. Cobbert and that hideous tie covered with statistical equations, invaded his mind. Levi wondered how long he had before his head exploded.

Fumbling to gather what remained on his desk, he picked up his messenger bag and bolted for the door. What was happening to him? God, anywhere but here. The heat rushing through him spiked. A large black blur startled him as it passed by the window of the door. Taken back, Levi hesitated and then grabbed for the metal door handle. When he tried to pull the door open, a painful spark of static electricity crackled at his fingertips. Instinctively, Levi pulled his hand back as the shock snapped against his skin.

Don’t let the door close!

Levi caught the metal monstrosity with his knee and squeezed through, allowing it to slam behind him.

Which way?

His car. In the back parking lot. To the right. The hallway was empty. As he ran, the unrelenting cranial pressure doubled him over in agony and pain exploded in his chest. Stumbling to remain upright, Levi steadied himself with his hand on the wall and then pushed off, propelling himself forward. His thoughts were vacant. He was in pure survival mode, true fight-or-flight, however something was wrong. No. Something was missing.

The fear.

Out the front doors. Blinding sunlight. Colored figures rushed past him, pushing and knocking into him.

So much pressure!

“Hey, watch it!” a male voice yelled as Levi bounced off a body.

When his vision came into focus, Levi was well into the parking lot, dodging moving and parked cars. Another blur of black passed nearby, but he ignored it, not giving a shit. His only objective: find his car and fast.

Again, he doubled over as the pain escalated, this time accompanied by roiling nausea. Where was his damned car?

Digging deep into his front pocket, Levi fought to free his keys. Just as he reasoned the piece of shit must have been stolen, there it was. He’d never been so relieved to find the old, rusting heap of steel. Juggling the keys, Levi managed to hit the button on the key fob, grateful for access to the locked car.

As he dropped into the driver seat, another wave of mind-numbing pain knocked into him, immense in his head and blossoming in his chest as well. Not again. His hands pressed against the sides of his skull. Maybe if he squeezed hard enough the counter-pressure would relieve the pain, or maybe it would simply crush his skull. When there was a reprieve from the pain, Levi revved the four-cylinder to life. Without hesitation, he backed out of the space, then slammed the gearshift to D, fleeing, as if he were being chased by every scary monster in the history of scary monsters.

##

 

Enter blog tour Rafflecopter Giveaway!

1 – $15 All Romance Ebooks Gift Certificate
1 – Ebook copy of Soul Seekers
2 – $5 All Romance Ebooks Gift Certificate

Jake C. Wallace started writing from a young age, but took a break for marriage, kids, and college (in that order). A few years ago, he ventured into the brave new world of publishing. He has published several novels and short stories. At night and on the weekends, Jake writes about all things men, believing there is nothing hotter than two men finding and loving one another, whether for a night or forever. An avid reader of M/M romance, Jake loves a good twist of a plot, HEA, HFN, or tragic ending, and has over two thousand M/M books in his library. He writes what his best friend calls HUNKs (Happy Until the Next Kidnapping). In his daytime hours, Jake works with individuals with autism and behavior issues.  He is owned by a beautiful partner, three kids, and two grandchildren. He lives in the Northern Vermont.

Website: www.jcwallacebooks.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/jcwallacebooks.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jcwallacebooks
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7237038.J_C_Wallace
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/jcwallace

 

Liv Olteano chats about new book A King and a Prawn + Giveaway

June 20, 2016

Bert’s guide to winning hearts

In A King and a Pawn, the love interest – Will Sims – doesn’t come alone into the life of the main character – Bert. In fact, Will comes with six kids of various ages.

Aside from escorting the Sims family out of fey territory, Will’s first real interaction with them is inviting them over for dinner. It may or may not have something to do with the fact that he’s a bit of a foodie and a good cook. But his solution to start winning over the kids and Will is to feed them one pretty awesome and entirely tasty meal:

 

There were going to be six of us, including kids. A two- or three-course meal wouldn’t do. I wanted it to be more of a family dinner kind of feel, rather than a reception. They’d almost certainly had enough protocol to last them a lifetime already.

So I decided to go with pork-and-beef mix lasagna topped off with plenty of raw eggs to make it nice, crusty, and brown like a pie. It wasn’t too pretentious, was easy to make, delicious to eat, and was filling but left room for dessert. When eating with kids, you had to have dessert—at least, that was how it had been with Alf. The little guy always loved tasty treats without being too picky about the name or even the looks of things. That was key to getting a kid to eat your cooking: you had to earn their trust, make them feel sure whatever you gave them tasted awesome. And I’d gotten pretty good at that. And at guessing what someone liked.

So for dessert I went big: tangerine- and dark cherries-covered cheesecake, and what my mom liked to call basket cake—tiny dough baskets you baked set over some tea cups so they’d keep the tiny basket shape, then filled with all kinds of sliced fruit, sweet and bitter, and covered with a dusting of sugar. You set the basket cakes back in the oven for about half an hour until the fruit baked enough to get all mushy and juicy, but not entirely flopped into submission. When the basket cakes cooled off, they went into the fridge so the fruity goodness would be all the better. When served, you could top it off either with a spoonful of whipped cream or with a spoonful of ice cream, preferably flavored so it would complement the fruits you used. So sweet fruits in the baskets, bitter-flavored ice cream, perhaps lemon or even mint. Of course you’d ask each guest what they wanted, so it was best to have a few options ready. Because I’d already fed them ice cream, and I didn’t want to be so obviously spoiling them to win them over, I went with the whipped cream version tonight.

By the time I had the table arranged, my dining room smelled quite heavenly. I had sweetened fruit tea cooled off and ready to go, plus some red wine because we deserved a glass or two after the kind of day we had.

 

His efforts pay out too, as he learns during and after dinner:

 

I found out new and interesting things about fey during this dinner. For one, they seemed to have healthier appetites than I thought. Everyone went for seconds, and some of the kids went for thirds, actually, though smaller portions.

When I brought out the fruit baskets and topped each off with a fresh spoonful of whipped cream, Sarah and Hector clapped excitedly. Susannah and Jeremy contained their enthusiasm better, but I did see joy glowing in their eyes. And Will had, I think, five of those baskets between his second and third glass of wine.

 

Now that you’ve read that, are you feeling hungry, lol? I know I am.

When I wrote the scene, I had in mind the idea of family dinners as a way to connect/reconnect/maintain close ties. There’s a sense of communion when we share a meal with someone, even if it’s someone we’ve just met; and if they were the ones to cook it too, the strength of that newly forged bond is intensified. (Particularly for me, lol. I usually don’t cook. If you cook for me, I’m really impressed. I mean, more so if the food is actually tasty, haha. But even if it’s not some culinary feat, I’m going to be impressed. :D ).

In Bert’s case, it’s considerably more intense due to the fact that fey can sense the feelings of the cook as he prepared that food. So in a sense, cooking for the Sims family is a way for Bert to not only share food, but a bit of his heart in the process.

Did you woo someone by manifesting your culinary prowess, hehe?

KingAndAPawn[A]_postcard_front_DSP

Check out A King and a Prawn today!

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Blurb:

Bert Cooper’s life used to be great, until his sister turned out to be a traitor. Now Bert feels the whole pack looks on him with doubt and suspicion. To prove his loyalty, he volunteers to be the first ambassador at Fey Court, gathering information to finally solve the Leader Murders and punish those plotting against the Council and community. At least, that was the plan….

When Bert meets Sir William Matthew Sims, Court Interrogator, and one hell of a sexy man, life becomes a balancing act. And when the Fey King is assassinated, things become really messy.

Pack politics, fey politics, treason, suspicions of treason…. Bert has to choose between being ruled by his fears or standing up for what—and who—he believes in. And it might just break his heart.

 

About Liv Olteano:

Voracious reader, music lover, and coffee addict extraordinaire. And occasional geek. Okay, more than occasional. Lover of diversity and quirky character, spamificating the world.

Be afraid, be very afraid. :D

Links:
Website:  http://liv.liviaolteano.com/
Blog:  http://blog.liviaolteano.com/
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Twitter:  https://twitter.com/LiviaOlteano
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Goodreads profile:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6952513.Liv_Olteano

 

 

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