Sex & Sourdough: The Appalachian Trail? Huh?

December 13, 2013

In Which the Author Explains Making the Transition from the Sex & Violence of Mysteries to Sex & Comfort Food!



Of all the places to set an m/m romance novel, why did I choose the Appalachian Trail? Where there are very few beds and the availability of lube is iffy, at best? Mostly, because the Appalachian Trail is essentially a two-thousand mile long strolling frat party, with beautiful scenery, difficult challenges, and amazing people—and even wild ponies. When I want to run away from the world, it’s where I escape.

All writers put bits and pieces of themselves into their stories and characters, and I’m no exception. Sometimes, a character allows us to experience adventures beyond our own capabilities, sometimes a character is a foil to allow a writer to say things they would never dare whisper in real life. And occasionally, a character is created as a cop out when an author needs a coping mechanism that’s a bit healthier than vodka.

I first set foot on the Appalachian Trail in October, just before I turned twenty-eight. My husband and I had just been assigned to a navy base on the East Coast, we had two little girls, and I had just given birth to our third child, a tiny little boy. During that third pregnancy, I got sick. What I thought was a stomach flu turned out to be liver failure. My doctor promised me once the baby was born, I’d get better. Six weeks after the birth, I went for my last checkup. There, I was told my liver (which had crapped out on my altogether during the pregnancy) was better, but hadn’t returned to normal yet. They wanted to run a few more tests, since it looked like the pregnancy had just brought an underlying problem to light. When more test results came back abnormal, and the doctor began to explain what autoimmune antibodies are–pointing out the specific auto-immune markers that had turned up in my lab work–I just sort of shut down.

At that point, I already knew more about the auto-immune disorder known as Scleroderma than my doctor could ever tell me. It’s a disease in which the body’s immune system slowly attacks organ and skin tissue, replacing all of a person’s elastic connective tissue with less-stretchy collagen. When it attacks major organs, it produces scarring and fibrosis, causing each organ it attacks to tighten and stop functioning. I was five years old when my dad was diagnosed with Scleroderma. I was twenty-three when it killed him. All I could think about as the doctor explained my own diagnosis was that, if I were to survive as long after diagnosis as my dad, the six week old infant asleep in the car seat at my feet might be eighteen before I die. My oldest child, who was five years old, would be twenty-three.

I did what a lot of people do when they’re faced with the diagnosis of a chronic illness. I tried to run away. With little kids at home, all I could really do was run away from the reality of the diagnosis. I pretended there was nothing wrong. I change my diet, got into shape, and dedicated my life to doing rewarding things with my children. I started writing again, determined to submit something for publication instead of just churning out stories doomed to be hidden away on my hard drive forever.

And I decided to go camping.

While camping, my little family stumbled upon some pretty cool things. We found a beach of salt-bleached oak trees in Florida, caves and waterfalls in Georgia, and even a herd of wild ponies in the mountains of Virginia. That was the first time I set foot on the Appalachian Trail. And I discovered that this two thousand mile footpath, which wanders from Georgia all the way to Maine, is filled with towns and people who were so hospitable and welcoming that I felt at home for the first time since leaving small-town Montana behind.

It turned out to be lucky that my husband was deployed in the Arabian Gulf at the time. If he had been home, I might have handed him the kids, started hiking, and never come back. In reality, I have to make do with escaping for a few days at a time, once or twice a year. But the idea became rooted in my head. I began to write about a character with a similar fate, who had the freedom to do what I couldn’t. So Kevin Winters was born, a young man who copes with learning he has a chronic illness by grabbing a backpack and running away, from his disease and his life.

I feel like Kevin’s story came alive in Sex & Sourdough. While the scenery along the Appalachian Trail is nothing short of magical, the real magic in the Appalachians is to be found in the people who open their doors, and sometimes their hearts, to random people who just happen to be passing through. It’s the only place I’ve ever found where families will wake up early and hike into the woods toting three hundred fresh baked cookies, just to brighten the day of complete strangers. Trying to capture that magic with words, and the sense of connection it brings, saved Kevin’s story from becoming a very depressing one.

If I ever could escape from the world for more than a weekend, I have no doubt the Appalachian Trail would be my destination. What about each of you? If the responsibilities and demands of real life weren’t pressing, where would you find your escape?




Sex & Sourdough available from Dreamspinner Press

From now until Sunday, you can save 25% off my books by using the coupon code “AJThomas” (case sensitive).

Leave a comment on any of these posts for a chance to win a free ebook copy!

Sex & Sourdough: A First Kiss

December 13, 2013



“Better?” Kevin asked, even though he could see that it was. He poked Anders in the calf with his toe. When Anders didn’t shift away, Kevin let his leg settle against Anders’s knee.

“Yeah.” Anders groaned. His head lolled to the side and his eyes slid shut. “The steam has all but made my cough vanish.”

“Glad to hear it.”

“I’m glad I read the brochure,” Anders said. “Each one is drained and sanitized after each use.” He opened his eyes and grinned up at Kevin without lifting his head.

Kevin shifted so he could look down into Anders’s eyes. “You really get grossed out by dirty hot tubs?”

“I said so, didn’t I?”

“You did, you did.” Kevin nodded. “I didn’t believe you, though. I just figured that you didn’t want to hang out.”

Anders stared at him for a long time and then splashed water over Kevin’s chest.

“Hey!” When Kevin shifted away from the splash, Anders lunged toward him, sending both of them sprawling against the side of the hot tub. Kevin steadied himself on the first thing he could reach, which was Anders’s waist. He looked up and found Anders hovering over his lap, his knees straddling Kevin’s thighs. “Was I wrong?” Kevin asked, wrapping his fingers around Anders’s narrow hips and tugging him down.

“I sort of thought I was wrong about things,” Anders said casually, poking Kevin in the chest. “I thought maybe I had pushed things too far back in Gatlinburg.”

“Anders….” Kevin felt his heart leap as Anders settled his weight on his lap. He couldn’t help the way he bucked up, desperate to rut against Anders’s body. He knew he needed to stop, that the things he wanted to do to Anders went so far beyond “stress relief” that there would be no way to take them back. He saw Anders’s eyes grow wide as he felt Kevin’s erection against him. “I just…. You just broke up with your ex, plus you were kind of out of it, and….” Kevin ground his cock against Anders and drew in a shaky breath. “I’m sick, Anders, not dead. I’ve wanted you since Springer Mountain. You were with someone else, and I….”

“I don’t have a fever now.”

“And you just broke up with your ex….”

Anders sighed. “I know. The last thing I want to do is use you to get over him,” he whispered. “But I want you so much it’s hard to think about anything else. I’m not looking for a rebound relationship, I’m really not, but I don’t want to pass up this chance, either.”

“I don’t do relationships, Anders. I told you that. I can’t do relationships. I can’t….”

Above him, Anders swallowed. “We don’t have to do anything you’re uncomfortable with. But you seemed okay with ‘stress relief’ back in the hotel. We can stick to that.” Kevin almost yelped when Anders slipped his fingers inside his shorts.

“Maybe we should get out of here, turn in early?” Kevin suggested.

Kevin shuddered as Anders grazed the head of his cock with his thumb. He didn’t trust himself to speak. When Anders tried to shift to the side and roll off him, Kevin pulled him down again. It would have been so easy to shift Anders’s shorts to the side, free his own cock, and slam Anders down onto him. He would rip Anders apart, taking him dry and unprepared, but, God, he’d wanted to do it anyway.

The desire to bury his cock inside of Anders was a constant, niggling source of tension. He’d almost gotten used to it. But the desire to pull Anders down, to claim his mouth, surprised him. Kevin had hooked up with friends, both guys and girls, throughout high school. He had kissed a few girls—or, rather, he’d been kissed by a few girls— but never the guys. The times he’d hooked up with other guys had been brief, adrenaline-fueled, and frantic. They had torn at each other’s clothing and bruised each other’s skin, but they’d never kissed. Somehow, touching another man’s lips always seemed too intimate, too personal, when he and his partner just wanted to get off. He was shocked by how badly he wanted to kiss Anders. The idea of touching Anders’s tongue, of feeling their breath mingling, left him stunned.

“I just….” Kevin ran his hands up Anders’s back. “Can I ask you something?”

Anders leaned back a little and cocked a single eyebrow at him.

Kevin took a deep breath and tried to think of what to say. He’d never been very good at expressing himself. He grabbed Anders’s cheeks, tilted his head down, and kissed him.

He wasn’t trying to be aggressive, but the taste of Anders’s lips bypassed his dwindling self-control and shot straight to his cock. Anders’s taste was an intoxicating mixture of salt, spice, and the lingering flavor of the mint milkshake he had been drinking. Kevin grabbed the back of his head and pulled Ander’s mouth against his hard, pouring the desire he’d been fighting for a month into the kiss. Anders melted against him, not fighting for dominance but surrendering completely.




Sex & Sourdough available from Dreamspinner Press

From now until Sunday, you can save 25% off my books by using the coupon code “AJThomas” (case sensitive).

Leave a comment on any of these posts for a chance to win a free ebook copy!

Sex & Sourdough – Kevin gets more than he bargained for when he takes inexperienced hiker Anders under his wing at the beginning of the Appalachian Trail

December 13, 2013


Anders Blankenship never intended to hike the Appalachian Trail alone, but when his boyfriend cancels, Anders steels his courage, leaving the abusive relationship to tackle the long-distance hike. Though a hiking virgin, he’s glad he made the decision when he receives threatening messages from his ex. Luckily Kevin, an experienced backpacker, takes him under his wing.

Kevin Winters isn’t looking for a hiking partner, let alone a fling with a cute man on the rebound. After learning he has the autoimmune disorder that killed his father, Kevin left his family to wander remote trails. Convinced his future holds only pain and death, Kevin refuses to get close to anyone. The family sourdough recipes he recreates over a campfire are his only solace.

In the wilderness, Anders and Kevin discover a lot of common ground. While the future holds uncertainties they may not be ready to deal with, it might also hold the chance for happiness.


Stay tuned for an excerpt with Kevin and Ander’s first kiss!

Sex & Sourdough available from Dreamspinner Press

Save 25% off my books by using the coupon code “AJThomas” (case sensitive).




Gingerbread Palace Giveaway #2 Winner

December 12, 2013

I’m very excited to announce that AshleyAlexis is winner #2.

You can choose any Delectable series e-book as your prize. Please email me at with your choice of book and I will arrange for Dreamspinner to get it to you.

If you have all the Delectable series, you can choose another e-book from my titles at Dreamspinner.

Thank you.!

Rum & Ginger Release Party! Time to wrap it up I think.

December 2, 2013

It has been wonderful chatting with all of you today. It seems to be winding down so I’m going to bring the chat to a close. I’ll check back and respond to questions, so feel free to ask. Don’t forget that you have until 6:30pm EST tomorrow to enter what I’m now calling the “Name Your Gay Bar” Contest to win a free eBook of Rum & Ginger. I’ve been popping over to Dreamspinner and I noticed that my backlist of eBooks are all on sale! If you want to check something out at a discount now is the time to do it. I recommend the novella Wayward Grace- it’s pirate steampunk and super-fun and also my Christmas-Anti-Christmas story, The Vanguard’s Gift. I really want to do more with those characters but I think the story being a part of the Advent Calendar confused people. But please pop over and check them out.

Rum & Ginger has been a very personal experience for me and I’m really happy that so many of you came out to help me celebrate. We recently lost our local gay bar and I feel like Ben opening his might give me a place to hang out with all the great people that I miss from my old hangout. You can bet they’ll be making appearances. I’ll be doing some more blog posts throughout the month. You can follow me on Facebook or Twitter: @mascaraboy13 to be notified of those types of things.

You may have realized that the title of the book is Ben’s favorite drink, Rum and Ginger Ale. My preferred drink is red wine and I raise one to you now in gratitude. Shall we wrap this up with a toast? What will you be toasting? Goodnight everyone!

Rum & Ginger Release Party! One more excerpt-NSFW!

December 2, 2013

You have yet to really meet Chance or get any sex scenes, so how about killing two birds with one excerpt? This takes place after Ben and Lena go to the B&V and reconnect with Derek. Ben and Chance have fallen into a comfortable rhythm. You’ll see.

Ben was happy for the short walk to his car, the cool night air clearing his head of the few drinks he’d had. The drive home was short. He considered his reunion with Derek, the alcohol-fueled promises to keep in touch and hang out. Ben wondered what Lena would get herself into. He pulled into the driveway of the house he and Chance shared. The house was beautiful. If Chance wanted to, he could probably get it registered with the Liamsport Historic Society. Chance’s grandmother had left the huge Victorian structure to Chance’s mother and her siblings with a caveat that Chance would be given first refusal to buy if they wanted to sell it.
Chance had spent many hours in the house as a child with his grandmother, Evelyn Gruner, and the pale-blue monstrosity with the eggplant trim remained the prime reason the couple hadn’t escaped Liamsport. Chance really wanted to buy the home, and they’d saved nearlyenough for a down payment. If it had been up to Chance’s mother, she would have given her son the house, but her two sisters and brother were adamant about turning a profit on the family home, despite the generations of Gruners that had grown up there. Ben wasn’t sure why he’d agreed to help Chance buy the building in the first place, but it was too late for him to back out now. Chance loved the house so much. Ben wondered how Chance would feel when he had to tell his family about him and his boyfriend deciding to invest in the house.
Ben hoisted himself out of his car and crept up the porch stairs, avoiding the third step so it wouldn’t creak. He slid the key in the door and pulled on the doorknob, knowing the lock would slide easier in the old mechanism. He eased the door open as silently as he could, then flipped the porch light off. The dining room light was on but dim. Chance always left Ben enough light to pick his way through the house.
Ben toed off his shoes and walked into the kitchen, happy to find an open bottle of wine on the counter. He poured himself a glass and tasted the dry, red liquid. After a few sips, Ben smirked at the sudden return of his buzz, happy to be home. His mind drifted back to the sexy young bartender, and he felt a pang of guilt. He looked at the ceiling, knowing his partner was lying alone in the bed they shared. Ben felt his erection stir and hoped Chance might not be too deeply asleep. Ben drained the last of the wine, rinsed out his glass, and padded up the stairs.
After he washed his face and brushed his teeth, Ben crept into the darkened bedroom. He could hear Chance’s rhythmic breathing. He wondered if it was too rhythmic, wondered if Chance was lying awake, waiting for Ben’s return and breathing too steadily so he wouldn’t give himself away. Ben shed his clothing and slipped beneath the covers. His side of the bed was slightly chilled. He inched up behind Chance, savoring the warmth he found, pressing his body against his partner. Chance wore boxers to sleep. Ben’s full erection pressed against the cloth, eliciting a subtle sigh from Chance.
Ben took that sigh as encouragement, nuzzling his nose into Chance’s hair. It smelled almost minty from his shampoo, with an underlying spiciness that Ben associated with Chance’s natural scent. Ben draped his arm over his partner and pressed his groin against Chance’s back. Chance pressed back, and Ben felt encouraged, nibbling at the smooth skin of Chance’s neck. He responded, but Ben still wasn’t convinced his partner was conscious. He reached forward, slipped his hand beneath the waistband of Chance’s boxers, and found him growing firm. Ben grasped Chance’s erection and squeezed.
Chance gasped quietly and growled. Ben took it as a sign to continue and kissed along Chance’s shoulder and neck, sneaking his other hand into the back of Chance’s boxers. Ben touched the top of Chance’s ass, sliding his middle finger into the crevasse between the muscular globes of his cheeks. Ben’s tongue dashed out, tasting flesh. Hegrasped Chance’s tightening sack. Chance squirmed pleasantly in Ben’s embrace. He dared to slip his finger down to graze Chance’s delightful ring of muscle.
Chance gasped and grew rigid against Ben’s touch. “What’re you doing?” Chance’s voice sounded thick with sleep and slightly confused.
Ben eased back but couldn’t stop touching his partner. “I’m just touching you. Doesn’t it feel good? You seemed like you were enjoying it.”
Chance rolled to face Ben. “What time is it?” Chance asked.
Ben rolled his eyes in the dark. That question was never a good sign. “One-ish,” he answered.
Chance grumbled. “I have to be up in five hours.”
“I’m sorry,” Ben responded. “I’ll let you alone.”
Chance’s hand wandered to Ben’s rigid erection. “No. It’s okay. If you don’t take too long. You obviously want it.” Chance’s hand closed around Ben’s shaft and squeezed. He tipped his head up, and Ben kissed him. Chance broke off the kiss and dipped his head beneath the covers. Ben pulled back the sheets just before Chance’s lips closed around him. Ben moaned. Chance caressed Ben’s shaft expertly, too obviously trying to get him off quickly. Ben tried to feel guilty, but Chance’s mouth felt so good, and their couplings had grown increasingly rare.
Ben threaded his fingers into Chance’s hair. Chance increased his suction and speed on Ben’s shaft, and it was almost more than Ben could take. He started to mumble Chance’s name and little words of encouragement. In moments Ben was coming, gasping and grasping. Chance dutifully cleaned Ben’s slackening erection. As soon as Chance finished, he rolled away, returning to his original position in the bed. Ben rubbed Chance’s back gratefully.
“G’night,” Chance said sleepily.
Ben squeezed his partner’s shoulder. “Don’t you want me to return the favor?” He hoped Chance could sense his playful smirk despite the dark.
“I really need to get some sleep,” Chance answered. “It’s fine.”
Ben didn’t think it was fine, but he didn’t want to start an argument when he knew Chance had to wake up so early. “Okay, then.” Ben sighed. “Love you.”
Instead of answering, Chance reached back and rubbed Ben’s thigh before curling onto his side of the bed. Ben pulled the covers over his own naked body and drying member. He listened to Chance’s breathing grow even. Ben lay awake, staring into the dark, wondering when their relationship had turned into something that felt more like a business agreement than a romance. Ben tried not to take Chance’s indifference personally. He knew his partner had to get up early and tried to understand. He could, almost. He remembered when he thought of Chance as his lover, not his partner. Ben reminded himself of all the good times he and Chance had experienced together as he finally drifted off to sleep. He wasn’t surprised when his mind took a detour from Chance and reflected on the events that occurred at the bar.

Rum & Ginger Release Party! Excerpt! Giveaway!

December 2, 2013

Ok. So we’ve got a pretty good dialogue going. I’m going to open this up for 24 hours to give everyone who wants to enter a chance. I’m going to post a scene in which Brodie and Ben discuss what they would name their respective bars if they ever get to open them. If you were opening the first gay bar in a small town what would you name it? All comments with an answer and an email address will be considered. Make sure to spell out your email: you at whatevermail dot com.

They pulled up to Burnsy’s party. Ben was pretty sure this was Burnsy’s parents’ place. He wondered what it was like to have everything handed to you. “Don’t start judging,” Lena said, speaking to his thoughts.
“I’m not,” he lied. “It’s a great place.” They moved through the little groups hanging out on the lawn and on the porch of the large mansion. “What’s the plan?” he asked.
“Drink ourselves blind and party like idiots,” Lena responded.
“That certainly sounds like a plan,” Ben stated. He and Lena shared a laugh and entered the building. They cut through the throng of dancers, heading straight for the kitchen and alcohol. Lena started mixing drinks instantly. Ben leaned against a counter, relaxing amidst the mingled conversations. Chance would hate this. So many people in one place having disparate discussions would drive him crazy. Ben found it strangely comforting. He accepted the drink Lena offered and sipped at it.
“Ben! Lena! Son of a bitch! You guys made it!” Burnsy marched into the room, his arms open, and folded Ben and Lena into a hug. “Thanks, you guys!”
“No prob,” Ben stated.
“Shots!” Burnsy barked. “We need shots!”
“Oh, I don’t know about that,” Ben said.
“Shots!” Lena shouted. Ben rolled his eyes. It seemed he was outnumbered. One of Burnsy’s little groupies poured shots for everyone in the kitchen.
“Oh, what the hell,” Ben mumbled. The group toasted and everyone downed their shots.
“Another round!” Lena cheered.
“Yeah!” Burnsy agreed. Shots were again distributed, toasted, and consumed. “Woo!” Burnsy shouted. “Let’s rock out with our cocks out!” he called as he left the kitchen.
“Is he serious?” Ben asked. He could feel the effects of the shots already, and he liked it.
“Prob’ly,” Lena answered. “He’s always pulling his dick out for no reason.”
“What the hell am I doing here?” Ben wondered aloud, sipping his original drink.
“Don’t be like that,” Lena scolded. “Frickin’ enjoy yourself for a change.”
Ben scowled in response. He enjoyed himself. What was she trying to say? He wasn’t Chance, hiding away in their house and refusing to mix with other people. “This is great!” Ben barked, draining his drink and holding out the empty cup. “Another,” he ordered.
“That’s the spirit,” Lena answered, pouring another drink. An aggressive beat emerged from elsewhere in the house. “Dance?” Lena asked.
“Hell yeah,” Ben answered, already moving with the rhythm. They drifted toward the music and found the dance floor. They weaved around the writhing bodies, searching for an empty bit of floor space. Ben and Lena danced as the lights flashed and the music surged. He closed his eyes and let himself get lost in the movement and music. Lena’s hand grazed his shoulder as they danced. She bumped into him, and he smiled. Lena’s hand squeezed his bicep and he opened his eyes. What he saw wasn’t Lena.
“Hey.” The cute boy in front of Ben looked familiar.
“Hey,” Ben answered. His body moved despite his confusion.
“You don’t remember me,” the young dancer said.
“I do,” Ben said before it was true. He did recognize his dance partner, but couldn’t provide a name. “Bartender!”
“You do remember me,” the bartender stated.
“Brodie!” Ben remembered. “Brodie the Bartender.”
Brodie pressed a finger to his lips. “That’s my superhero name. Just Brodie’s fine when I’m not at work.” Brodie smiled, and Ben’s body reacted positively. He felt a flutter in his stomach and a flush on his cheeks.
“That’s good,” Ben responded, smiling and nodding. “Night off?”
“Nope. Brodie’s actually at the bar working. I’m his clone.” Brodie leaned in as he spoke over the loud music.
Ben chuckled. “Right. Yeah, I get it.” Ben realized how stupid his original question had been. “Great party,” Ben said, trying to salvage the conversation.
“Burnsy’s famous for them.” Brodie finished off his drink.
“Need another?” Ben asked.
“Hmm.” Brodie considered the offer. “Yes. Yes, I think I do.”
“I’ll be right back.” Ben grabbed Brodie’s cup and visited one of the numerous punch bowls scattered throughout Burnsy’s place. Ben ladled out a cup for Brodie, then a cup for himself, gulped it down and filled himself a second before threading back through the dancers. “Here you are, sir.”
“Looks like the tables have turned,” Brodie said, accepting the drink from Ben. “It appears you have taken up my mantle.”
“Ben the Bartender?” Ben mused. “I hope I can live up to the legend.”
“It’s pretty loud. Want to get out of here? Step outside?”
Ben nodded. “Sure.”
“Cool.” Brodie grabbed Ben’s hand and led him through the dancing guests. He moved with the music, and Ben watched intently as Brodie’s lean muscles flexed beneath his fitted clothes. Ben allowed Brodie to lead him out into the cool night air. They leaned against the patio railing beneath a sky full of stars. “Wow. Beautiful night,” Brodie said, gazing into the sky.
“Yeah, it is.” Ben sipped his punch.
“How do you know Burnsy?” Brodie asked.
“He works for me at T.C. McEffster’s,” Ben responded.
“Works for you?”
“Ecch. Yeah. I’m a manager there.”
“Fun,” Brodie said, his sarcasm evident.
“It’s a paycheck.”
“Yeah. I know what that’s like.”
“You don’t like being a bartender?” Ben asked, finally looking over at Brodie. Ben had to admire the young man’s handsome profile.
“I do. Mike’s a cool boss but….”
“His bar is mostly straight people. They’re not jerks or anything, but I wish our town had a gay bar. Mike’s is gay friendly, but a proper gay bar would be awesome.”
“I’ve often thought that as well,” Ben admitted. “I wish we had a place we could go and just be honest without fear of repercussion.” After the words were out of his mouth, Ben gasped. He’d not only just admitted openly to being gay, but he was reasonably sure Brodie had done the same.
“If I had the money, I could open an amazing bar.” Brodie turned to Ben.
“Can I tell you a secret?” Ben wasn’t sure if it was the punch or how comfortable he was in Brodie’s company, but he felt like he could be completely honest for once in his life.
“Sure,” Brodie offered.
“I’ve always wanted to quit my shitty job and open my own bar. A place without judgment. I wouldn’t alienate straight people either.”
“No,” Brodie agreed. “You wouldn’t want to.”
“Just create an environment for people,” Ben stated.
“Exactly.” Brodie nodded, sipping his punch. “I think that’s a great idea. What would you call it?”
Ben opened his mouth and realized he was about to reveal a long-kept secret. A gay bar had always been a secret desire of his, and he’d picked a name not long after he realized he was attracted to men. “It’s silly,” he finally answered.
“Is it?” Brodie raised his eyebrows.
“Yeah.” Ben sniffed and shook his head.
“Do you want to hear mine?”
Ben shrugged. “Only if you want to tell me.”
“Will you tell me yours?”
Ben thought about it. “Why not?”
“Okay.” Brodie sighed and smirked. “The Jolly Roger. It would be a pirate-themed gay bar.”
Ben barked out a laugh before he could stop himself.
“I know, it’s stupid.” Brodie hunched with embarrassment.
“No. It’s not stupid at all. It’s fantastic.” Ben smiled, evidently easing Brodie’s self-consciousness. “I would totally hang out there. Would the bartenders dress as pirates?”
“Hell yeah. And the sign would be a rainbow flag with a skull and crossbones.”
“That’s great.” Ben could picture it perfectly. “Mine’s not nearly as good as that.”
“Come on. I told you my stupid idea.”
Ben sighed. “I’d call my bar The Connection.”
Brodie looked puzzled.
“It would be a place where people could hook up, meet like-minded people, and make social connections,” Ben explained.
“Oh. Yeah. That makes sense.” Brodie nodded. “But that’s not stupid at all.”
“On the sign ‘Connection’ would be rainbow colored.” Ben paused, waiting to see if Brodie would recognize the reference. Brodie nodded but said nothing. “You don’t get it. I knew it was stupid,” Ben said with a smirk.
“I’m sorry. Is it something I should know?”
“No. It would be the Rainbow Connection,” Ben answered.
“Oh! Like the Muppet song! That’s not stupid. That’s really clever.”
“The rainbow would draw in the gay clientele, but it wouldn’t be so in-your-face that straight people would feel uncomfortable,” Ben explained.
“Yeah. That’s great. I love that!” Brodie said. “It’s subtle. I love the way your mind works.”
“Thanks,” Ben answered, feeling the blush on his cheeks. “I love little in-jokes like that.”
“No. I think that’s awesome. And if somebody gets it, you automatically know they’re cool, right?”
“Yeah. Something like that,” Ben answered with a smile.
“I hope you do it.” Brodie sipped his punch. “I’d work there.”
“Hell yeah.”
“You’re prehired,” Ben said, offering his hand.
“Thanks, boss,” Brodie answered, grabbing Ben’s hand and pumping it a few times. Ben felt a jolt of excitement as they touched, and it seemed like neither was willing to break the contact. The shake slowed. Before Ben realized what had happened, Brodie dipped forward and pressed his lips to Ben’s. To Ben’s surprise, he didn’t offer Brodie any resistance and returned the gesture.
When Ben realized what he was doing, he broke the contact abruptly. “Oh shit.” Ben’s hand flew to his mouth. “Oh damn, Brodie.”
“What?” Brodie looked shocked. “I’m sorry. You’re not down.”
“No. Shit. No, Brodie. You’re totally—um—attractive. But I’m in a relationship.” Ben regretted the words despite their truth.
“Oh. Oh balls. Ben,” Brodie stammered.
“No harm done. It’s okay. You didn’t know.”
“I’m such an idiot.” Brodie turned away.
“No. Come on. Not at all.” Ben laid a hand on the bartender’s shoulder. “Shit happens. It’s a Burnsy party. This punch is probably paint-thinner proof.”
Brodie laughed awkwardly. “Yeah. You’re just such a cool guy. I had to go for it.”
“That’s totally flattering. And I really like talking to you. We should hang out.” Ben paused. “You know, as friends.”
“Yeah. Yeah, that would be awesome.”
“So you said Brodie was a nickname.” Ben decided to change the subject, remembering what the bartender had said the first night they’d met. “What’s it short for?”
“It’s not short for anything. It’s a cinematic reference.” Brodie seemed eager to change the subject as well.
“Brodie, like in Mallrats Brodie?” Ben asked.
“Yeah! Wow, you’re the first person to actually know that.”
“I’m a huge Kevin Smith fan. Brodie Bruce is one of my favorite characters,” Ben replied.
“I’m a huge comic fan,” Brodie explained. “I’m a little nuts about them, I guess. That’s why my buddies in high school started calling me Brodie. It stuck.”
“That’s actually pretty admirable,” Ben said. “And you’ve got Jason Lee’s irreverent attitude. It’s pretty cute.”
“Thanks.” Brodie smirked. “I actually have a cousin Walter too.” They both laughed. Their conversation continued as they melted back into the party and reunited with Lena, then grabbed some more punch and drifted back to the dance floor. They spent the rest of the night dancing, drinking, and talking. Lena spilled a beer on Party Shirt before the night drew to a close. Ben and Brodie exchanged numbers while Ben and Lena waited for a cab. Ben couldn’t stop smiling on the ride home, and Lena kept shooting knowing looks in his direction. The taxi dropped Lena off first, and Ben saw her to her door before going home. He’d have to get a cab back in the morning for his car.
His spirits were high, and he felt a little guilty at the giddy feeling in his gut every time he thought about Brodie. Ben fumbled with his house key before finally getting the door open. Unsurprisingly, Chance was in bed, sound asleep. Ben sat on the couch to remove his shoes but fell deep asleep instead.

Rum & Ginger Release Party! Another Excerpt!

December 2, 2013

In this excerpt you’re going to meet Brodie Felix. I hesitate to say one of the points on Ben’s love triangle because it’s a little more complicated than that and Ben’s not a cheater. You’re also going to meet Derek Collins. Derek’s an ex-jock. I don’t want to say too much more about Derek because I’m going to go into more detail on him on another blog and he turned into something of a pleasant surprise. I know it’s early but who is your favorite character so far?

Ben drove into the municipal lot a few blocks from the Bill and Vinny. He didn’t plan on drinking that much, but a few blocks walk couldn’t hurt at the end of the night. Ben turned the key, cutting Robert Smith off midlament. He looked at his phone before he opened the door. He should text Chance. What I should really do is invite him along, Ben thought. He wouldn’t come. Ben knew it. Chance rarely wanted to go out, and when he did, it was usually to the theater or a movie. Ben shrugged. Maybe tonight would be different.
Heading 2 the B&V w/ Lena. Wanna join? Ben typed and sent. He waited to see if Chance would reply. Sometimes Ben wondered why Chance even had a phone based on the frequency of his responses. Ben was about to open the door when his phone vibrated.
In the middle of a session. Ben read Chance’s message. A session meant Chance was on his computer, writing fan fiction with some of his Internet buddies. They took turns pretending they were fictional characters. Ben wondered if it was the Harry Potter group or the Avengers nerds.
If u get done b4 I get home, offer stands, Ben answered.
Thanks. Have fun. I won’t wait up.
Ben flipped his phone shut, not surprised. He shook his head and stepped out of the car. He pressed the lock button as he walked away, noticing Lena’s VW three spaces from his own. Ben always felt a little guilty having fun without Chance. But why should I? Ben thought. I’m an adult. And it’s only a couple of drinks. He tried to shake off his ill mood as he approached the bar, looking up at the sign and smiling. The bar looked like any of a dozen bars downtown but for the sign. Mike had chosen the classic woodcut picture of William Shakespeare and the famous Van Gogh self-portrait and had them painted to look like they were arm-in-arm and raising pints. It was too hilarious.
As Ben pulled open the door, a gust of smoky, warm air rushed out to meet him, carrying the sounds of a busy bar, music, laughter, and conversation. The one drawback to Mike’s, in Ben’s opinion, was the thick haze of smoke that lingered constantly within. Mike didn’t serve food, so the B&V remained one of a handful of bars where people could still smoke inside.
Ben couldn’t believe the B&V was this busy on a Tuesday. The bar was packed. He stood at the door and scanned the room for Lena. “ID?” the guy at the door asked. Ben thought his name was Curt. Ben dug out his wallet and handed the bouncer his driver’s license with a little satisfaction. Ben was closing in on thirty and relished those times when others couldn’t tell. “Thanks,” the guy said and returned Ben’s ID. “Have a good one.”
Ben nodded and smiled. “I’ll try,” he answered. Then he waded into the sea of bodies gathered here and there in groups, talking, drinking. He still couldn’t see Lena. Although he did see a disproportionate amount of young hotties. And they looked strangely enough like jocks. The B&V wasn’t a sports bar. Ben wondered what had drawn these guys to this bar. A round of cheers erupted. Ben looked over to see Lena sitting on two beefcakes’ shoulders.
“Ben!” she shouted, waving him over. “Ben-Ben! Get over here! Put me down, boys.” She patted her supporters, and they lowered her to the floor. Lena threw her arm around Ben’s shoulders.
“What’s up, Lena?” Ben asked, returning the embrace. Judging by the way his friend leaned on him, she’d already had more than a few drinks.
“Look at all these little beauties,” she almost slurred, guiding him to the bar. “Get me a vodka and tonic. I have to pee.”
“Delightful,” Ben said with a theatrical grimace. “Just go.” He waved her off as she stuck her tongue out. He grinned at his friend as he pulled a few bills from his pocket and turned back to the bar. Everybody knew orders were taken faster if you showed cash. Ben rested his elbows on the edge of the counter.
He discreetly scanned the room, surveying the massive amount of eye candy. The ratio of men to women was seriously skewed and the pool table busier than he’d seen it in a while, crowded with young men. “Getcha somethin’?” Ben turned toward the voice behind the bar. His gaze fell on a bartender he didn’t recognize, and Ben’s voice stuck in his throat. The bartender was a vision: lean, tall, with a jaunty fauxhawk of dark hair fading to red at the tips. The young man had beautiful caramel-brown eyes beneath mischievously arched brows. His lips were full, and his mouth quirked in the perfect grin. He was exactly the opposite of Ben’s basically clean-cut style.
“I, uh. My friend,” Ben stuttered. He squeezed his eyes shut, trying to will the heat he felt on his cheeks to go away. “Vodka tonic for my friend,” he finally managed.
“Anything for you?” the pretty bartender asked. He’d already grabbed a highball glass and placed it on the bar. As he dropped ice into the glass, Ben noticed his arms were covered in tattoos, accentuated by a sleeveless dress shirt.
“Rum and ginger ale,” Ben said without thinking.
“Right.” The bartender smiled and nodded, pouring vodka with one hand and retrieving another highball glass with the other. Ben thought the man’s easy movements were like poetry. Glass, ice, pour, and a spray of soda, both hands working independently. “That’ll be six,” the bartender said, dropping black stirrers into the drinks and passing them across. Ben handed over two fives and the bartender turned to the register. Ben took advantage, checking out the view the bartender’s skinny jeans offered. Ben averted his eyes quickly when the bartender turned. “Four’s your change.” Ben accepted the bills and laid two on the bar. “Thanks.” The bartender flashed a smile. Ben returned a smile of his own before sipping from the stirrer like a straw in a decidedly unmasculine gesture.
“What are you doing?” Lena asked as she grabbed her drink from the bar. “You look like a little kid.” She took a long sip from her glass, ignoring her stirrer as Ben released his tiny straw, feeling self-conscious.
“What’s with all the hot boys?” Ben asked, his voice raised to combat the new round of music from the jukebox.
“Mike’s brother just turned twenty-one.” Lena took another sip of her drink, smiling at a much younger man across the pool table.
“So what?” Ben said as he tipped his glass to his mouth, attempting a more mature manner of sipping but poking himself just below the eye with the stirrer. He plucked the thing from his drink and threw it in an ashtray on the bar.
“So these are Chuck’s frat brothers, past and present,” Lena explained.
“I didn’t even know Mike had a younger brother.” Ben smoothly sipped his drink at last.
“Charlie’s my parents’ last hope,” Mike said, having overheard the conversation.
“Hey, Mike,” Ben shouted, offering his hand.
Mike shook it. “Hey, Ben. Good to see you out for a change. Where’s Chance?”
Ben shrugged. “Happy at home,” he answered.
“Maybe he’s the smart one,” Mike said, turning to Lena and pecking her cheek. “Hey, girl, what’s up?”
She returned the kiss. “So you’re the artsy one and your brother’s the jock?”
“Family shit. You know how it is.” Mike shrugged. “But he’s my brother. If he’s going to get shitfaced somewhere, it might as well be where I can keep an eye on him.”
“You’re a good brother, Mikey.” Ben patted the owner on the shoulder.
“And these boys are smokin’ hot,” Lena added. “Luckily they’re all legal.” They all laughed.
“Well, have fun, guys,” Mike said and drifted off to monitor his bar.
“Wanna dance?” Lena asked.
“There’s no dance floor,” Ben replied. Lena handed him her empty glass, smirked, and retreated to the jukebox. He finished his drink and turned with the empty glasses, placing them on the bar. Before he could reach into his pocket, the new bartender dashed over.
“Need another?” the tattooed man asked.
“Two.” Ben held up his fingers.
“Vodka tonic. Rum and ginger ale.”
“Good memory,” Ben replied. The bartender swept the empties away and poured new drinks. “My name’s Ben.”
The bartender paused, wiped his hand, and offered it to Ben. “Brodie.”
Ben shook his hand. “Brodie. That’s cool.”
“Nickname.” Brodie shrugged as he mixed the drinks.
“How long have you worked here? I haven’t seen you before.”
“This is my second week,” Brodie answered. He placed Ben’s drinks on the counter, slipping a stirrer into each. He slid them to Ben, but before Ben could grab them, Brodie snatched the stirrer from the rum and ginger ale and discarded it. “Too dangerous,” Brodie stated with a smirk that Ben found a little too sexy.
“Thanks,” he mumbled, dropping eight dollars on the bar and retreating to the jukebox and Lena. He handed her the vodka tonic.
“He’s cute,” she stated without looking away from the screen.
“Hmm?” Ben tried to sound disinterested.
“The bartender. The new one.” Her fingers skipped over the screen, choosing “Moves Like Jagger.”
“Brodie,” Ben said absently.
“Brodie, is it?” Lena mocked. “Ben Juan DeMarco.”
“Knock it off,” Ben replied. The sounds of Maroon 5 filled the bar. Lena moved to the rhythm, and so did Ben despite himself. He wished their stupid town had a dance club. Lena and Ben were the only ones moving to the music, but they didn’t care. It felt good to just dance. Lena rubbed up against him, but he was used to it. It didn’t turn him on, but it was oddly comforting to have the contact of another human being. He wasn’t hot for Lena, but he did love her in a way. She grabbed his hip, and their movements fell into rhythm. Chance would never dance like this with him. He remembered so many times trying to get Chance to give in, to let go. Dancing here wasn’t the same as dancing in an actual club, though, with everyone swept along by the music and the tempo. He sipped his drink and spared a glance at Brodie, the new bartender, moving fluidly, pouring drinks and serving patrons. Mike’s brother’s frat brothers milling around oblivious of the beat.
Brodie started to weave, gyrating his hips to the music, and Ben felt his body start to react. Shit, he thought. This could get really awkward in too many ways. He didn’t want Lena to accidently rub up against him. “I have to hit the bathroom,” he stated, moving away from her. She raised a hand but didn’t stop dancing. Ben’s vacancy was quickly filled by a drunken young man in a tight red polo. Thankful for the unintentional distraction, Ben slipped into the bathroom.

Thankful for the unintentional distraction, Ben slipped into the bathroom.
He downed the rest of his drink and placed the glass on the counter near the sinks. Ben had to give Mike credit; he sure kept a clean bathroom. It felt about twenty degrees cooler in the light-blue tiled room, and the noise of the frat boys and the jukebox were muffled. Ben took a deep breath and moved into a stall. His thoughts drifted to the lean young man behind the bar as he tried to relax and urinate. Ben shook his head, feeling wrong thinking about a man other than Chance while he stood there holding himself. The door to the bathroom opened, and even if Ben had to go, he couldn’t; not with someone else in the bathroom. He never could. He flushed the toilet anyway, not wanting to rouse suspicion about his presence in the stall, and pushed open the metal door.
He washed his hands and dried them before he retrieved his glass. His hand pressed against the exit when someone spoke behind him. “Ben? Ben fucking Silver?” Ben turned to see a man with a pronounced paunch and the beginnings of a spectacularly receding hairline. “The fucking Silver Bullet! Holy shit!” The man finished zipping his pants and barreled toward Ben, offering his hand. Ben glanced at the unwashed appendage, and the man must have realized his party foul, turning to the sink and running water over his hands. “What the fuck have you been up to, Benny?”
Benny? Ben thought. Silver Bullet? That’s what his friends on the track team had called him in high school. The man finished up and turned back, arms spread. Ben studied the thinning blond hair, the bright blue eyes, and the network of wrinkles growing around them. “Oh my God, Derek? Derek Collins?” Ben couldn’t believe this was the man who had been the star athlete of Liamsport Area High School.
“What the fuck, man? You don’t recognize me? It hasn’t been that long, asshole.” Derek embraced Ben, and he returned the gesture.
“No. No. I’m just surprised. I haven’t seen you in here before,” Ben answered, hoping he sounded convincing. He felt strange hugging someone in a bathroom in a bar, not to mention a man he hadn’t seen in nearly a decade and wasn’t really friends with in the first place.
“I don’t usually hang out here,” Derek admitted, looking in the mirror and running his fingers through his remaining hair. “Gotta support a frat brother, though. Am I right?”
“Mike’s brother?”
“Yeah. Come on.” Derek opened the bathroom door. “Let me buy you a drink.” He exited into the bar. Ben looked at his empty glass and wasn’t sure he wanted anything to do with Derek. He’d always been such a douche in school. Ben shrugged. They were both adults now, and Ben hadn’t been the greatest person when he’d been a teenager. Maybe everyone deserved to be given a second chance after the douchery of their adolescence. Ben slipped through the doorway in Derek’s wake.
Derek sidled up to the bar and ordered two Jäger Bombs without asking Ben’s preference. Ben toasted and drank to be polite. Derek started babbling to Ben about his family, his kids, and his job. Derek had married Jennie Breen. No surprise there. Ben searched the bar for Lena, but then Derek’s tone, if not his words, snapped Ben back to the conversation. “She did what?” Ben asked.
“Moved out and took the kids. No warning. Nothin’. I was in Philly on business, and when I got back, she was gone.” Derek ordered a beer.
“Damn, dude. That sucks,” Ben offered. “I got that,” he told Brodie, indicating Derek’s drink. “And can I get another rum and ginger?”
“Sure thing,” Brodie replied.
“Thanks, man,” Derek said, sipping his beer. “So what’s up with you?”
“Not much,” Ben responded as his drink arrived. “Managing T.C. McF’s.”
“That shit-pit? I thought you were getting out of this town.”
“Plans change,” Ben stated dismissively. “Life intervenes.”
“I’ll drink to that.” Derek raised his pint. Ben tipped his drink against the glass. “You’ve kept in shape,” Derek observed.
You haven’t, Ben thought but didn’t say. “I do what I can.”
“I tried to for a while.” Derek shrugged. “Life intervenes,” he said, echoing Ben. They both drank their drinks without speaking for a few moments.
Ben reeled as Lena bounced against him. “What’s up?” he asked her.
“What’re you doin’?” She draped an arm over his shoulder. “Get up an’ dance with me. These frat boys’re pretty but dumb as rocks.”
“Do you remember Derek?” Ben laid his hand on Lena’s and indicated their old classmate.
She squinted at the man next to Ben. “Football, track, tennis, and captain of the asshole squad?”
“Lena!” Ben didn’t disagree but still thought his friend was a tad out of line.
“Nah. It’s all right, Bullet. I was a dick in high school.”
“Here, here.” Lena raised her drink. She planted a kiss on Ben’s cheek. “Finish up with the ex-dick and come dance with me.”
“Okay.” Ben returned the peck. Lena lurched off. “Sorry. She’s drinking on an empty stomach.”
“She’s not wrong,” Derek said as he waved dismissively. “I was kind of a dick in high school.” Kind of? Ben thought. “So. Lena’s cute,” Derek stated.
“Yeah.” Ben nodded and sipped his drink.
“Are you two?” Derek asked.
“Oh.” Derek’s response, while abbreviated, oozed with implication.
“That’s a heavy ‘Oh’.” Ben raised an eyebrow.
“It’s nothing.”
“No. What?”
“Well…,” Derek stalled.
“I heard some shit is all,” Derek finally answered.
Here it comes, Ben thought. He’d been dreading just this type of encounter, forced out to people he never really gave a shit about. “Like what?” Ben asked.
“Like I heard you’re runnin’ for the other team.” Great. Sports analogies. Ben rolled his eyes and hoped Derek hadn’t seen it. He hadn’t.
“You heard that I’m gay.”
“With that nerdy Chance kid, the mathlete from the chess club.”
Wow, Ben thought. Chance would be shitting himself if he could hear this. “Are you going to punch me if I say it’s true?”
“Bullet. Ben, I was a dick in high school. I might not understand that shit, but I’m not going to be an asshole.”
“Seriously?” Ben was more than surprised by Derek’s maturity.
“Seriously. You’re a good guy, Ben. Always have been. It’s not my place to judge you. So you like dudes. Sometimes I wonder if you don’t have it figured out.”
“How so?” This night was getting more and more interesting.
“Well, dudes know what dudes want, right? I mean, chicks, who knows what the hell goes on in their heads? Maybe bein’ gay is easier.” Derek drained his beer and ordered another.
“Not exactly, but I see what you’re getting at.” Ben finished his own drink, but when Brodie collected their glasses, Ben asked for just ginger ale. “I’m sorry all that garbage is going down with your wife.”
“Thanks, man. I’ll get through it.” Derek tipped Brodie when he brought their drinks. “I just wish she wasn’t using the kids as leverage.”
“Yeah. That’s pretty shitty.” Ben drank his soda. Neither spoke for a moment or two.
“We should hang out,” Derek broke the silence.
“Definitely,” Ben said without thinking. Shit.
“Cool. Here’s my number.” Derek showed Ben his phone. Ben typed in the number and texted Derek.
“You’ll have my number now too.”
“Good deal,” Derek stated as he focused on his phone, typing away at the screen.
“I should get going. I told Chance not to wait up, but he always does.” It felt strange talking to someone from his old life so candidly, but Ben liked it in a way too.
“I know how it is.” Derek smirked, sipping his drink. “Go on. But don’t be a stranger, Bullet.”
“Never again.” Ben offered his hand, and Derek accepted, pumping it once before embracing Ben. “I’ll give you a call.” Ben turned to find Lena but suddenly spun back. “Hey, Derek. Don’t spread the gay thing around. Chance is a really private person and it’s not something he wants people to know.”
“No problem, Benny. My lips’re sealed.”
“Thanks,” Ben replied. They traded farewells, and Ben sought out Lena to ask if she wanted a ride. Judging by the pint glasses in each of her hands and the group of frat boys flocking around her, he guessed she didn’t.
“Hey, Ben-Ben.” She peeled away from her admirers and walked over. “I’m guessin’ we’re not goin’ to dance?”
Ben shook his head. “I need to get going. Chance said he wouldn’t wait up, but you know how he is.”
“He’s probably in bed, wide awake.” Lena nodded.
“Exactly. You need a ride?” Ben asked, already knowing the answer.
“Nah. I’ll grab a cab.” She glanced over her shoulder. “Or a frat boy.” She winked.
“Get a cab, Lena.” Ben pecked her on the forehead. “If you need a ride to your car in the morning, give me a call.”
“Thanks, Ben-Ben. You’re the best.” She moved to hug him, sloshing beer from her pint glasses. Ben grabbed them, freeing her arms up, and leaned into the hug.
“Okay,” he answered, passing the glasses back after her hug. “I’ll catch you tomorrow.” She stumble-walked back to her audience, and Ben crossed the bar to the exit.

Rum & Ginger Release Party! First Review!

December 2, 2013

My first review is in from MMGoodBookReviews and it’s very nice. I’ll post a link to it here but be forewarned there are a few spoilers. There’s also a guest blog post up in which I discuss Ben and my inspiration/intentions for him as a character. It was very important that I get Ben right because he’s the reader’s entrance to the book and the world. There’s a lot of me in Ben, though I was in no way an athlete in high school, though I was able to walk a strange line where I could get along with a very diverse set of people: some jocks, preps, nerds, art kids, stoners and even some hick/redneck kids. Everybody had a label back then. But I tried to make Ben rise above all that.
So here’s the link to that review. How important are reviews when you’re deciding what books to buy?

Rum & Ginger Release Party! Fantasy vs. Contemporary.

December 2, 2013

So you’ve had your first excerpt of Rum & Ginger. I think it really sets the tone for not just the book but the series. These are real people in real situations. Ben could be a guy you know. Heck, he could be you. How many people do you know stuck in a job they aren’t thrilled about? I know a few.

Up until now I’ve only ever written fantasy and I have to say it’s easier. You wouldn’t think so. I’m a guy living in the world right now so it should be easy for me to write about it, right? Not so much. Sure I can go to the coffee shop with some friends and talk about what’s going on a drink coffee. But I’d much rather go on a quest and punch a dragon in the face. Writing about that is a lot easier (and more fun). So I had to make Ben and his contemporaries fun to write about.

Building new worlds is easier than creating believable ones that could exist now. Liamsport is very loosely based on my crappy, little hometown. I figured writing about a place I’m that familiar with would give the story a little more truth.

Which would you rather do? Go have a quiet coffee with friends or venture out with your party to punch a dragon?