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.

 

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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

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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!

 
 
 
 
 

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Mud, Movies, Bullets, and Bulls

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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

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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.

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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!

Dreamspinner Press:
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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/
Newsletter:  http://eepurl.com/zZ7T9
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/LiviaOlteano
Facebook Page:  https://www.facebook.com/LiviaOlteano
Goodreads profile:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6952513.Liv_Olteano

 

 

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Scotty’s Cade’s Life Changing Moment – Post + Giveaway

June 11, 2016

Scotty Cade's

Father Cullen Kiley, a gay Episcopal priest on hiatus from the church, decides to take his boat, T-Time, from Provincetown, Massachusetts, to Southport, North Carolina, a place that holds an abundance of bittersweet memories for him. While on a run his first day in Southport, Cullen comes upon a man sitting on a park bench staring out over the Cape Fear River with his Bible in hand. The man’s body language reeks of defeat and desperation, and unable to ignore his compassion for his fellow man, Cullen stops to offer a helping hand.

Southport Baptist Church’s Associate Pastor, Abel Weston, has a hard time managing his demons. When they get too overwhelming, he retreats to Southport’s Historic Riverwalk with his Bible in hand and stares out over the water, praying for help and guidance that never seem to come. But Abel soon discovers that help and guidance come in many forms.

An unexpected friendship develops between the two men, and as Cullen helps Abel begin to confront his doubts and fears, he comes face-to-face with his own reality, threatening both their futures.

Hi All,

Scotty Cade here. First I’d like to thank Hayley and everyone over at Dreamspinner Press for allowing me to hijack their blog for the day to tell you about my latest novel, “Losing Faith,” which just released yesterday.

I hope you enjoy hearing about the inspiration and later in the posts you can read an excerpt and I’ll tell you how you can win a book of your choice from my backlist.

Well…I have to say I’m a little nervous about this one. This story deals with religion, faith, and the power of our dreams to help us cope with reality and sometimes guide us to things that are right in front of our faces.

As most of you know, I was raised in the South where you never speak of anything negative or distasteful. LOL! Therefore speaking about politics and religion were definitely not part of our daily lives. My father always preached to stay away from such topics because they are very personal to many and you never know who you might offend.

To that end, I did manage to stay away from politics in this novel, but religion didn’t get off so easily. And not just one religion, but I wrote about two with totally different ways of worshiping.  This book called to me so strongly, that after a million internal debates and talking it over with my husband Kell, I couldn’t not write about it. And… to hell with etiquette!

However, as you read this post and hopefully the book, you’ll keep in mind that I criticize or fault no religions as everyone has a right to worship as they see fit. In America all people are entitled to their religious freedoms and beliefs, which may not match mine.

So here goes. “Losing Faith” was inspired by one single moment in time. One instant when I made a decision that altered my life forever.  Oddly enough the other party involved has no idea the affect the chance encounter had on me and probably never will, nor will I ever know what could have happened if I had acted differently. The only difference in my encounter versus the one in the book is that the fictional character did the right thing where I lacked the courage—a decision I will regret for the rest of my life.

Here’s how it went. Kell and I were on our boat on our yearly trek down south from our home on Martha’s Vineyard and had just arrived in a little town called Southport, North Carolina. It’s really a charming town and we’d been there briefly and really liked it so we made arrangements to stay for about a month and a half to really get a feel for the little town, before we moved farther south to Charleston, South Carolina for the rest of the winter.

Now I know North Carolina has been in the media for some not so good reasons lately, but this was before the HB2 and believe it or not, we saw no signs of discrimination and were treated with respect and dignity. Of course we didn’t skip down the dock hand in hand in blue checkered gingham dresses. Not that that’s a bad thing. Well maybe the blue part cause I look better in black. Anyway, hats off to the people of NC for rising above the politics and the opinions of a handful of miserable, misguided and bigoted people. Sorry, I digress.

Anyway after eight days on the water we were very excited to finally get to our temporary home in Southport. On our first morning at the marina, I went for my usual five-mile run and chose a route I remembered from a previous stay which weaved through the little town and eventually took me onto the Historic Southport Riverwalk. It was a beautiful morning, and the sun was just above the horizon, causing the dew on the grass to sparkle. I remember it so vividly.

So, I was running along at my usual pace, enjoying my solitude and listening to southern gospel music, which I always run to, when I saw a man sitting on a park bench quite a distance ahead of me. Even from my vantage point, his body language seemed ominous and overwhelmed. His elbows were resting on his knees, and he was staring blankly out over the Cape Fear River. As I got closer, I saw the man was extremely handsome, well-groomed, clean-cut, and very nicely dressed in a crisp white shirt, dark slacks, and a tie. The type of guy one might describe as metrosexual. And he was holding a book and rubbing his thumb gently over its cover.

Then the man moved his book a certain way and the sun reflected off of something gold. I knew instantly; he was holding the Holy Bible and the man really looked like he needed a friend. All sorts of possibilities ran through my head. Death. Depression. Illness. He was clearly struggling with something. I continued running toward him, trying to decide if I should stop, but I looked around, and there was no one except the two of us in the park. There were plenty of open park benches and swings overlooking the river, so I could think of no good reason to stop at his particular bench. In addition, I was fearful if I stopped, he might think I was trying to rob him—or even worse trying to pick him up. Although warm and welcoming, North Carolina is still very conservative. So therein lay my dilemma. Take a chance on being considered a thief or quite possibly a pervert or offer assistance to help someone who might be in need.

I think you know where this is going. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the courage to stop, and I ran right past the guy. Truly, I don’t even think he saw me as he was so deep in thought. I did greet him as I passed, but if I got a response, I didn’t hear it.

I cursed myself all the back to the boat, I told Kell and the friends who were on board with us about my experience, and they seemed unaffected, but the encounter stayed with me all day and night.

The next morning, I ran again. The same time and the same route. And I did that every day we were there—over a month, but I never saw the stranger again. Of course, this sent my mind into a tizzy of guilt. Was the guy sick? Did he lose a wife or parent or husband? Even worse, was he so distraught he took his own life? All these ideas plagued me and stayed with me. Even after I started this book. Early on I struggled with where to take the story. His desperation was obvious but it could have been anything. Do I go the sick or suicidal route or take the story somewhere else?

And before I start telling you about where I took the story please know although I am a very spiritual person, I’m not a particularly religious one. I have my own personal relationship with the man upstairs, but I’m not a fan of organized religion. In my humble opinion, organized religion sometimes gives a certain group of people the right to discriminate against others who are not like them in the name of their God. Those of us in the LGBTQ+ community have most recently seen this regarding the right to marry. I won’t give this woman any more publicity by mentioning her name, but you know to whom I’m referring. On the flip side of that coin, sometimes organized religion helps people be accepting of others. So there. I’m trying to be diplomatic.

Anyway, I focus on two very different religions. The Episcopal Church and the Southern Baptist Church. I did a lot of research on both, and apart from their mutual love of the Gospel, they have very little in common. Their interpretations of the Word are very different to say the least. The Episcopalians welcome everyone to worship. They even ordain women and gay men as priests and bishops, while on the other hand, the Southern Baptists do not believe in women as ordained ministers and believe homosexuality is a grave sin. In fact, if you are gay, you will only be welcomed into the church if you denounce your homosexual desires and seek their help to change your sexual orientation through prayer, fellowship, and whatever other methods they see as fit.

Now this is generalizing a bit, and the last thing I want to do is offend, but for the record, I got all my information from the Southern Baptist Convention’s official website and the Episcopal Church’s official website. Their beliefs are clearly written there, and all you need to do is Google either to see what I mean.

However, the next part of the book delves into the power of our dreams. Many people believe dreams are an open doorway to our souls, a possible way for our lost loved ones to communicate with us, a vison into the past or future or even a warning system abiout something coming your way. And… I just happen to be one of those people.

But many others believe dreams are just our subconscious validating things we want to believe. Things like getting one last look at a lost loved one or simply knowing they are okay and have moved on. Things along those lines. In addition, when some people dream of a tragedy, they take it as a sign and try to avoid a certain situation, while others simply dismiss it as a nightmare triggered by something they saw on television or something someone said. In this book, Cole’s dreams are portals, for lack of a better word, for Cullen, his deceased husband to come back and try to help him move on with his life.

The story is not just about religion. It’s a story of loss, identity, hypocrisy, need, and love. Writing it has helped me gain a little closure by giving my characters the happy ending I so hope my stranger enjoyed and easing my guilt a little for not stopping to help a fellow man in need.

I really hope you enjoy the excerpt!

Now. If you read this blog post and feel comfortable posting a response, I’d love to hear about any experiences you’ve had with dreams making a difference in your life. For instance, shortly as my mother died, she came to me in a dream. She was beautiful, pain free and gleefully happy. She smiled broadly and told me she was where she needed to be and we would be together again someday. The dream eased my pain and helped me grieve properly, for her and for me.

So I’d love to hear about your personal experiences with dreams. Everyone who posts will be entered into a drawing to win a book of their choice from my backlist, so please take a minute and share your story. Maybe it will help someone else who might be struggling with something similar. Now on to the excerpt.

Oh wait. I almost forgot. Here’s where you can find me and “Losing Faith”, as well as my other stories.

 

www.scottycade.com
https://www.facebook.com/scotty.cade
https://twitter.com/ScottyCade

Check out Losing Faith today!

Dreamspinner Press
Amazon
All Romance eBooks

Scotty Cade left Corporate America and twenty-five years of Marketing and Public Relations behind to buy an Inn & Restaurant on the island of Martha’s Vineyard with his partner of over twenty years.   He started writing stories as soon as he could read, but just five years ago for publication.  When not at the Inn, you can find him on the bow of his boat writing gay romance novels with his Shetland sheepdog Mavis at his side.  Being from the south and a lover of commitment and fidelity, most of his characters find their way to long healthy relationships, however long it takes them to get there.  He believes that in the end, the boy should always get the boy.

Excerpt:

A couple of weeks had gone by, and Cullen and Abel had settled into something almost resembling a relationship. Every hour that Abel wasn’t working, they spent together. Abel had seemed distant at times, something Cullen couldn’t quite put his finger on, but the distance had seemed to disappear just as quickly as it came. Maybe Abel was just getting used to his new life and Cullen.

It was Sunday morning, and Cullen was sitting alone on the flybridge finishing his third cup of coffee. Abel had left just under an hour ago, claiming he needed to put the finishing touches on his sermon. He was in the pulpit this morning as Pastor Williams was away on church business. Abel had asked him to attend the service, and not wanting to disappoint Abel, he’d reluctantly agreed. But Cullen had to admit he was as jittery as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.

This was the first time he would be in church for an actual service since Cole’s memorial mass. Yeah, he’d stopped in at Abel’s church as a last resort when he was so worried about him, and the experience had been a bittersweet one, but that was just him and his thoughts. Now he would have to listen to God’s word, and he wasn’t sure he was ready for that. Abel had asked very little of him during their time together, and so he’d promised.

Just before the service started, Cullen slipped into the church and took a seat in the last row on the end—close to a door in case he needed to escape. He looked around nervously and locked eyes with Abel, who was sitting off to the side of the pulpit with his Bible in his hand. Abel flashed a crooked smile, obviously very aware of why Cullen had chosen that particular seat, and Cullen smirked and then smiled broadly.

Cullen felt himself relax a little when the music started. Music always had that effect on him, but this music wasn’t at all like his church—he corrected himself; his former church—where the organ blared as the precession made its way down the aisle. This was less pageantry and had more of a celebratory feel to it. When the song ended, Abel took the pulpit and welcomed everyone, regulars and visitors alike, glancing at Cullen a time or two. When he got into his sermon, Cullen was not surprised to see that Abel was a natural in the pulpit. He was sincere, which was the most important thing, but he was also commanding and soft-spoken at the right times. His sermon today focused on the death of Jesus. He talked about how much of an injustice it had been, but that according to the Bible, it also happened according to the plan and purpose of God. Abel examined the Crucifixion in light of the doctrine of providence from the perspective of God, Jesus, and the human participants. He preached that although the Crucifixion was a mystery we cannot fully understand, the injustice of the Crucifixion accomplished God’s plan from eternity to demonstrate the breadth of his love by redeeming sinners.

Cullen thoroughly enjoyed the sermon, but he couldn’t help but think Abel had preached it partly on his behalf because of the way he felt about God taking Cole from him. And if the truth be told, his defenses were starting to crumble, little by little. Sitting in this strange church, listening to another man preach, Cullen realized how much he missed the fellowship of the church. Everyone here was different in some way, but they were all there for one reason: to worship. And that made their differences fade away, at least for one hour on a Sunday morning. Cullen also sensed that he missed his relationship with God, but that was a little harder to admit to himself right now.

After the service, while Cullen was waiting for Abel on the steps of the church, Agnes Williams approached him.

Abel had warned him that she’d been her normal busybody self, quizzing him about his and Cullen’s friendship, how they knew each other, and specifically about Cullen and his church, so Cullen had been on guard.

“Good morning, Reverend,” she’d said in a haughty tone. “How nice to see you supporting your seminary mate Pastor Weston.”

“Oh, we were never seminary mates. And good morning to you as well, Mrs. Williams.”

“But you said—”

“What I said was a mutual friend from the seminary told me Abel was assigned here, so I looked him up when I was passing through.”

“Oh, silly me,” she said. “I must have misunderstood. You’ve been in Southport… what? A couple of weeks now? I imagine you’re probably thinking of moving on soon.”

“Not really. I like Southport, and I’m on no schedule, so I have all the time in the world.”

“Tell me, Reverend, how does an Episcopal priest get so much time off?”

“I’m on leave at the moment,” Cullen said without missing a beat. “I live in a seasonal town with very few parishioners in the winter months, so the church assigns an interim priest so I can have the winter off.”

“How nice. At any rate, I’m a little surprised to see you here.”

“Oh? Why is that?”

Agnes chuckled. “Come on, Reverend, it’s no secret the Southern Baptists think very differently from the Episcopalians.”

“That’s very true.” Cullen dipped his head and picked at something on the steps with the toe of his shoe. When he looked back up, Agnes was glaring at him.

“But we all have one thing in common. Don’t we?” he said.

“I suppose that’s true. But—”

“You ready?” Abel yelled, cutting Agnes off and bouncing down the church steps.

“I am,” Cullen said. “Good to see you again, Mrs. Williams.”

“Same here, Reverend.”

 

When the two men reached the sidewalk and crossed the street, Abel stopped and looked back. Agnes was still standing on the steps watching them, one arm crossed over her large bosoms, a finger on her chin, and her head cocked to one side. She waved, and he waved back before he turned and they started walking.

“I swear that woman is two Corinthians short of a Bible and the nosiest thing I’ve ever seen,” Abel said, picking up his pace. “Was she pumping you for information?”

“Yeah.”

Cullen related their conversation to Abel.

“Something about her rubs me the wrong way,” Cullen said. “I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I’d watch out for her if I were you.”

“I will. Hey, how did you like my sermon?”

“It was great. You’re a natural in the pulpit.”

“Really? I’m always a little unsure of myself and my sermons. They seem old and boring.” Abel paused. “I would love to make them more relevant to today. You know? Something young people can identify with, or something that brings the message in a way that makes more sense today.”

“Why don’t you?”

“Pastor Williams,” Abel said flatly. “He believes in teaching the word in its truest form. As it was written. Just old school, I guess. And since he’s the boss, I have to follow his rules.”

“But I don’t understand how anyone can believe something written over two thousand years ago is still relevant in its purest form. Yes, the meaning and the message will always be relevant. But today’s society needs more. Can’t he see that faith is getting harder and harder to sell? We are no longer a society that follows blindly. The Word and the message need to make sense to people before they will embrace it. It needs to be explained so that it can be applied to life today.”

Abel stopped, put his hands on his hips, and smiled broadly. “Now this is the passion I knew was boiling just below the surface of Reverend Cullen Kiley.”

Cullen blushed. “Sorry. I guess I got a little carried away.”

“Don’t apologize. I love to see you this way. The church needs more passion like this.”

“I don’t know about that, but thanks. It felt kinda good to rant just a little.”

“Cullen! You are wasting your calling. I’m gonna get you back in church if it kills me.”

Blurb: 

Father Cullen Kiley, a gay Episcopal priest on hiatus from the church, decides to take his boat, T-Time, from Provincetown, Massachusetts, to Southport, North Carolina, a place that holds an abundance of bittersweet memories for him. While on a run his first day in Southport, Cullen comes upon a man sitting on a park bench staring out over the Cape Fear River with his Bible in hand. The man’s body language reeks of defeat and desperation, and unable to ignore his compassion for his fellow man, Cullen stops to offer a helping hand.

Southport Baptist Church’s Associate Pastor, Abel Weston, has a hard time managing his demons. When they get too overwhelming, he retreats to Southport’s Historic Riverwalk with his Bible in hand and stares out over the water, praying for help and guidance that never seem to come. But Abel soon discovers that help and guidance come in many forms.

An unexpected friendship develops between the two men, and as Cullen helps Abel begin to confront his doubts and fears, he comes face-to-face with his own reality, threatening both their futures.

When Opposites Attract with Lane Hayes – Post + Giveaway

June 10, 2016

The opposites-attract trope is easily my favorite. I love the play between two characters who are sure they have nothing in common with one another and yet, somehow they can’t stop thinking about each other. Where is he from? Why does he dress like that? What’s his favorite color? The moment one person realizes his curiosity for silly details has taken on an obsessive quality is when the fun really begins!

A Kind of Romance is a multi-layered book that touches on familial relationships and how they influence other facets of life. Zeke is a ruthless Wall Street executive who loves to win. He’s driven to create a world that in no way resembles his upbringing, though at first glance, his family is a loving one. Benny is Zeke’s complete opposite in all ways. He’s a sweet-natured, out and proud gay man who loves fashion and has a soft spot for all things fabulous.  His over-the-top mannerisms are an automatic turn off to the serious Zeke. Until they aren’t. And suddenly Zeke’s consumed to know anything and everything about the pint-sized younger man with a penchant for eyeliner and bright colors.

I love the notion of what we think we want leading to the discovery of what we really need. To some degree, it’s something we can all relate to. The opposites-attract allows for a level of self-analysis that adds depth to the characters and potentially, the overall story. I’m a sucker for a strong MC with a big personality and a wicked sense of humor. If he suffers from a faulty moral compass at times, it only makes him more interesting to me. It means he’s human. Perfectly imperfect, yet hopeful. Zeke’s journey toward love ultimately is also about self-acceptance. If we can’t have it all… isn’t it best to choose the path to travel with the people we love the most?

Giveaway time! So I have to ask… what is your favorite trope? Are you partial to friends to lovers? Mistaken identity? Friends with benefits or fake boyfriends?  (Frankly, I love them all! LOL.) I’m going giveaway four $10 Dreamspinner Press gift cards. All you need to do is tell me your favorite trope and why you think it’s makes the best “kind of romance”. ☺  I’ll choose the winners on June 12 at 9pm PST.

Thank you for helping me celebrate my Release Day for A Kind of Romance! Enjoy Benny and Zeke!

Happy Reading!

Lane Hayes xo

**I want to share this photo from my most recent trip to New York City, where the A Kind of Stories series is set. This is a bench in Central Park looks so inviting and yet lonely too. It’s featured in a scene from A Kind of Romance. Pretty, isn’t it?

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Blurb for A Kind of Romance by Lane Hayes

Zeke Gulden is a ruthless Wall Street exec. His hard-edged, no-nonsense attitude has served him well in the cutthroat business world, but less so in his personal life. When he finds out his ex-boyfriend cheated on him with a coworker, Zeke can’t let go—not until he finds a way to get even. However, his meddlesome father has other ideas. The new hire at the family-owned bagel store is somewhat colorful, but his dad is sure he’s the perfect man for Zeke.

Benny Ruggieri is a fiercely proud New Yorker who dreams of making it big as a costume designer in the theater. In the meantime, he’s working two part-time jobs in the food biz. When his new boss sets him up with his successful son, Benny has zero expectations. If nothing else, he figures he can entertain himself by making the uptight businessman squirm. Instead, the two become unlikely friends with an inexplicable attraction they can’t ignore. Benny might be the one to help Zeke set aside his quest for revenge, if he’s willing to let go and forgive what he can’t forget… and give in to an unexpected kind of romance.

Excerpt from A Kind of Romance by Lane Hayes

“For fuck’s sake… all I’m asking is for you to play a part for one night. If you think about it, we should be getting good at this by now. Between our pretend dates and the half-dozen times you’ve randomly announced we’re boyfriends over the last few days, I’d say it’s practically believable.”

“So ask me nicely,” I insisted with a teasing grin.

He growled and clenched his teeth before adopting a faux syrupy tone. “Will you please attend my cousin’s wedding with me, Zeke?”

“I’d be honored.” I waited for him to look into my eyes before I continued. “But we should probably practice at this boyfriend thing. You know… to get in the mood.”

Benny snickered as he leaned into me. “What do you propose?”

“Kiss me.”

“That’s it? Just a kiss?” He licked his lips and inched close enough that our knees bumped.

“For now… yes.”

I reached out and ran my thumb along his jawline. His normally smooth chin was scruffy. I’d always liked scruff on a guy. Especially in the morning. Just the brush of my cheek against Taylor’s used to make me hard. And as the differences flickered through my mind, I realized my attraction to Benny had nothing to do with having a “type.” Benny was nothing like Taylor. One man oozed testosterone, and the other had the faintest smudge of eyeliner under his lashes. Maybe it was a simple matter of liking him. Benny was… refreshing. He made me laugh, and he didn’t shy away from a fight.

I pulled him from his barstool so he stood between my thighs. Then I tilted his chin and licked his bottom lip before covering his mouth. The connection was light, but damn, it was perfect. Thoughts of writhing naked with him in my bed flooded my memory. Maybe it defied expectation, but it was hard to ignore the physical pull. We fit. Like a puzzle piece or a missing song lyric. I licked his lips in a request for entry and deepened the kiss. I let my hands roam over his shoulders and down his back before resting them on his pert ass. When we parted for air, I ran my fingers through his hair and pressed a chaste kiss on his forehead.

“So maybe we should go back to bed… to solidify the arrangement. You know, like a handshake.”

Benny snorted and pulled out of my arms. “Way to ruin a moment.”

“Sorry.”

“You’re not sorry. I know what you’re doing. You don’t want me to get the wrong idea, so your plan is to occasionally say offensive things to remind me why I’d be a complete idiot to think you’d be a candidate for a ‘real’ boyfriend. Am I correct?”

If I was completely honest, I’d conceded there was an element of truth in his statement, but I’d been around the block a couple of times. Admitting it wouldn’t ingratiate me to him. I gave him a smug grin instead and smacked his ass.

“Don’t be rude. I’m a gentleman.”

“I know your type, Zeke. And you, my friend, are no gentleman.”

Lane Hayes Bio

Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions in the 2014 and 2015 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband and the coolest yellow Lab ever in an almost empty nest.

 

Books by Lane Hayes (Dreamspinner Press):

Better Than Good, Better Than Chance, Better Than Friends, Better Than Safe, The Right Words, The Wrong Man & The Right Time

And A Kind Of Truth  and A Kind of Romance

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Contact Information:

Website: http://lanehayes.wordpress.com
Twitter:   @LaneHayes3
Facebook: LaneHayesauthor
Email:   lanehayes@ymail.com

Charlie Cochet Drops by for a Chat About THIRDS: Beyond the Books!

June 8, 2016

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Hello, all! Charlie Cochet here celebrating the release of THIRDS Beyond the Books: Volume 1! Thank you so much for joining me on another stop of the blog tour. Today our resident cheesy doodle crunching THIRDS agent Dexter J. Daley is sharing with you one of his many, many, playlists.

Music plays a huge role in the THIRDS world—including the flash fiction stories—and more importantly, in Dex’s life. It makes up a big part of who he is. As you may know, Dex lives and breathes eighties music. Although he also enjoys some modern tunes, as well as songs dated before 1980, his heart belongs to the big hair bands, classic rock, and electro pop of the eighties. Here he’s put together a special playlist for the love of his life Sloane Brodie. I’m sure Sloane is weak at the knees just hearing it. Well, he’s certainly something.

I have a feeling Sloane’s going to have trouble getting through sexy times with a straight face if this playlist is involved. I see much lip syncing coming from Dex, and not nearly enough restraint from Sloane. Picture it. You know you want to. Here’s a little scene to help you along.

***

Sloane sat against the headboard, naked under the blankets, his wide eyes on Dex as his boyfriend lip-synced around the room to Diana Ross’s “Chain Reaction”.

“This isn’t sexy,” Sloane murmured, not sure what to make of the spectacle before him. “I was promised seduction. You and I clearly have very different definitions of what seduction means.”

It had started out great with Dex stripping for him to Aerosmith’s “Angel”. It was followed by Chicago’s “You’re the Inspiration” then a couple of cheesy and sappy love songs, which Sloane had endured, lost in Dex’s bright blue eyes, pouting pink lips, and that tight little ass wiggling in his sky blue boxer-briefs. Then it all sort of spiraled downhill.

Dex jumped on the bed singing about explosions. Sloane wanted explosions. He’d been promised explosions. Dex was definitely sexy. The faces he was making as he lip-synced were… something else. Dex ignored him, dropping to his knees as Debbie Gibson’s “Lost in Your Eyes” came on. Sloane was lost all right. Lost in Dex’s determination to sing rather than get jump his bones. Was he losing his appeal?

Sloane arched an eyebrow at Dex. “You got carried away, didn’t you? You hijacked your own seduction playlist and now I’ve got—What is this? “Cherish”? Seriously?”

There was only one thing to do. Sloane locked his gaze on Dex, stealthily got up while Dex had his eyes shut tight giving it all he had to Foreigner’s “I Wanna Know What Love Is”, and then he did what jaguar Therians did best. He pounced.

Dex let out an impressive yelp as Sloane grabbed him, lifting him into his arms.

“Ooh, are we having An Officer and a Gentleman moment? I knew I should have added “Up Where We Belong” to the playlist.”

“I’m hijacking my seduction back,” Sloane said with a low growl, tossing Dex into the middle of the bed before climbing over him and pinning him to the mattress. He kissed Dex passionately, thrilled by the noises coming from Dex and the way he writhed with need under Sloane. He was going to show Dex real seduction. His hands roamed over Dex’s smooth, soft skin, his mouth devouring Dex’s plump lips until they were forced to come up for air. Beneath him, Dex let out a breathless chuckle.

“What’s so funny?” Sloane asked, bemused. Mischief filled Dex’s pale blue eyes.

“Nothing.”

Sloane narrowed his eyes. He kissed Dex again, determined to teach him a lesson. To show him how it was done. He pulled back suddenly.

“Wait a minute.”

Dex bit down on his bottom lip. Sloane stared down at him. He looked gorgeous and sinfully ravished. He also had “guilty” written all over his pretty face.

Sloane gasped. “You did it on purpose!”

Dex burst into peals of laughter.

“Oh, you sneaky little bastard.”

Once Dex managed to catch his breath and his laughter downgraded to a chuckle, he planted a kiss on Sloane’s jaw.

“So, you gonna teach me how it’s done?”

How…?

Sloane grinned wickedly at his delicious prey. “Challenge accepted.”

***

Dexter J. Daley’s Songs to Seduce Your Jaguar Therian Partner by:

Dexter J. Daley’s Songs to Trick Your Jaguar Therian Partner into Seducing You When You Should Be Seducing Him.

Angel – Aerosmith
You’re the Inspiration – Chicago
Endless Love – Lionel Richie
I Have Nothing – Whitney Houston
Lost in Your Eyes – Debbie Gibson
Cherish – Madonna
I Wanna Know What Love Is – Foreigner

***

What music do you enjoy listening to? Any recommendations for Dex?

***

ABOUT THE BOOK

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Genre: Gay Paranormal Romance, Shifters
Length: Novella
Published: June 8th, 2016
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase
Ebook ISBN-13: 9781634773072

Join us as we celebrate the THIRDS universe with this collection of flash fiction stories written to prompts submitted by fans. Sometimes we want to know more about our favorite characters. Where they came from, how they became who they are, their families, friendships, and past heartaches. These snippets of moments in time offer an inside look at the lives of our favorite THIRDS characters. Whether it’s first shifts, the forging of unbreakable bonds, or a night full of shenanigans, these stories are sure to enrich your THIRDS reading experience.

** All royalties earned from THIRDS Beyond the Books are being donated to Big Cat Rescue.

 

ADD TO GOODREADS

PURCHASE LINKS

Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | All Romance eBooks | Barnes & Noble

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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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 | THIRDS HQ | Facebook | Facebook Author Page | Twitter | Pinterest | Tumblr | Instagram | Newsletter | DSP |Amazon |Goodreads

GIVEAWAY

Big Cat Rescue Tote bag with Big Cat goodies inside!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

TOUR SCHEDULE

June 1 – MM Good Book Reviews
June 6th – Two Chicks Obsessed with Books and Eye Candy
June 7 – Oh My Shelves
June 8 – The Novel Approach
June 8 – Dreamspinner Blog

****

Release Day Event: June 8th – Love Bytes Reviews

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Check out the THIRDS on Pinterest.

Finding Home with Kim Fielding – Post + Giveaway

June 8, 2016

Finding Home

Hi! I’m Kim Fielding, here to talk to you about my brand-new book. Love Can’t Conquer is my 14th novel, and it released last Friday. I have to tell you, release day never gets less exciting.

Like several of my other books, this one is set in Portland, Oregon. I grew up there, and while I’ve spent the past decades elsewhere—mostly California—Portland still feels like home. A big chunk of my family still lives there, so I visit at least once a year. In fact, I was just there two days ago, and after a week in beautiful Vancouver, BC, I’ll be back in Portland for a few more days.

What makes a place feel like home? I’ve thought about this a lot. About eight years ago, I had an unexpected chance to visit Zagreb, Croatia, for a week. I’d never been there and had never given it much thought. But almost immediately after I arrived, I thought, I could live here. Something about Zagreb called to me, even though I didn’t speak Croatian. Maybe it’s my ancestral roots, since one of my grandfathers was from Trieste, Italy, which is only about 100 miles away. Maybe it’s the locals’ penchant for sipping espresso while sitting in cafés—one of my favorite activities. Maybe it’s the combination of a long history and a good dash of quirkiness. After all, Zagreb is home to the Museum of Broken Relationships, among other attractions. In any case, I looked for additional chances to live in Zagreb, once for a semester and then again for a month. I’ve visited for a few shorter periods too. And although my command of the language is still extremely rudimentary, Zagreb is home.

So what calls to me about Portland, aside from my family? I like the weather. My husband, a 4th gen Californian, complains about the rain. But what better climate to do my favorite things: read, write, and drink coffee? I like all the green and the proximity to ocean and mountains. And I like Portland’s quirkiness, of course.

Neither of the characters in my new book are originally from Portland. In fact, Jeremy and Qay came from the same small town in Kansas. But Jeremy moved west long ago, and Portland is very much his home today. Qay’s a newcomer, unsettled in many senses of the word. I think he deserves a place to call home too.

What makes a place feel like home to you? Comment here with your answer. I’ll randomly choose one commenter to win a signed print copy of my novel Stasis.

***

Speaking of homes, please come visit my virtual one: KFieldingWrites.com

I’d also love to have you drop in on Facebook: facebook.com/kfieldingwrites

Or pay me a visit on Twitter: @KFieldingWrites

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Check out Love Can’t Conquer today!

Blurb:

Bullied as a child in small-town Kansas, Jeremy Cox ultimately escaped to Portland, Oregon. Now in his forties, he’s an urban park ranger who does his best to rescue runaways and other street people. His ex-boyfriend, Donny—lost to drinking and drugs six years earlier—appears on his doorstep and inadvertently drags Jeremy into danger. As if dealing with Donny’s issues doesn’t cause enough turmoil, Jeremy meets a fascinating but enigmatic man who carries more than his fair share of problems.

Qayin Hill has almost nothing but skeletons in his closet and demons in his head. A former addict who struggles with anxiety and depression, Qay doesn’t know which of his secrets to reveal to Jeremy—or how to react when Jeremy wants to save him from himself.

Despite the pasts that continue to haunt them, Jeremy and Qay find passion, friendship, and a tentative hope for the future. Now they need to decide whether love is truly a powerful thing or if, despite the old adage, love can’t conquer all.

Werewolves, Witches, and Zombie Dogs…Oh My! With Stephen Osborne – Post + Giveaway

June 8, 2016

Werewolves, Witches, and Zombie Dogs…Oh My!

My name is Stephen Osborne, and I’m a spooky story junkie.

Today I’m pleased to announce the release of Under a Blood-red Moon, the 5th book in the Duncan Andrews series. Duncan, Robbie, and I have been through a lot together. We’ve dealt with nasty ghosts, ghouls, vampires, and demons. And with Under a Blood-red Moon, we get…werewolves! I love werewolves. Always have. Ever since I saw Lon Chaney Jr. in The Wolf Man, I’ve been fascinated by those wonderful lycanthropes. The beast within. The primordial power. It was inevitable that Duncan would have to deal with a werewolf pack sooner or later.

And werewolves come in many forms, of course. There are the half man, half wolf types that walk upright, snarl a lot, and have a lot of yak hair glued onto their faces. There are the ones that actually become wolves and run around on all fours, howling at the moon. Some become wolves by magic, some by being bitten by a wolf. What a lot of people don’t realize is that quite a lot of the werewolf lore we know was made up by screenwriter Curt Siodmak. When he was writing the movie The Wolf Man, he invented a lot of stuff. The pentagram on the hand of the next victim was a Siodmak addition to the lore. And if you pay attention to the movie, you’ll notice that the full moon isn’t important (that came later). In The Wolf Man, it’s the autumn moon that causes the transformation, which must make things tough for a lycanthrope when he’s got evening plans anytime during the fall.

I’ve loved spooky stories my whole life. I recall staying up on Friday nights to watch horror movies on channel 4. The Wolf Man, Dracula, and Frankenstein were all favorites. But even better was a soap opera that was on when I was a wee child called Dark Shadows. I used to rush home from school to catch the happenings at Collinwood and the Collins family, who dealt with werewolves, vampires, and witches on a daily basis. I love Dark Shadows to this day, and I credit it for giving me a love of story, and a love of the macabre.

I hope everyone enjoys Under a Blood-red Moon, and the continuing adventures of Duncan and Robbie. To celebrate, I’d like to offer a free copy of one of my backlist titles! For a chance to win, please comment (with your email or some way to contact you) and tell me one of your favorite horror stories. It can be a short story, a novel, a movie, a TV show, or even a true ghost story you know of. A winner will be chosen on June 11th. Good luck, and thanks for everything!

If you’d like to contact me, you can find me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/stephen.osborne2 or my website https://authorstephenosbornecom.wordpress.com

Check out Under a Blood-red Moon today!

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Blurb:

Private Detective Duncan Andrews is back, along with the usual gang: Robbie, Gina, Nick, and Daisy, the zombie bulldog! Duncan is trying to figure out how his boyfriend, Robbie, will fit in with the team now that he is no longer a ghost. That worry is soon set aside when Duncan accepts a new case to locate a missing young man named Graig Betz. Duncan soon learns Graig is part of a werewolf pack that is terrorizing Indianapolis. The pack is led by a witch, Ashley Campbell, an old rival of Gina’s. Duncan and his team must try to rescue and cure Graig and stop the wolf pack from destroying an entire city.

 

Workplace Romance: Love in Bloom or Courting Disaster? with Julie Lynn Hayes – Post + Giveaway

May 26, 2016

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Hi, I’m Julie Hayes, long-time Dreamspinner author, here to talk about my new novella, Bad Dogs and Drag Queens, first book in my Rose and Thorne series.

Vinnie Delarosa and Ethan Thorne are partners —on and off the clock. They’re federal undercover agents, and they met when they were first assigned to one another. It wasn’t exactly a match made in heaven, but five years later, they are very much in love and very together.

They work primarily in the southeastern part of the country, but have traveled as far as LA (don’t remind Vinnie, he’s still steaming about that!). They have a government-paid apartment in Richmond, Virginia, and life is good.

Vinnie and Ethan come from different backgrounds, but that doesn’t matter. They’re totally devoted to one another. Vinnie might come off as a little insecure, and a whole lot mouthy, but he’d protect Ethan with his life. And ditto for Ethan, who is a very laid-back, very gallant and sweet guy. They fit together perfectly.  Now. In the beginning… now that’s another story.

Vinnie and Ethan are sent to Roanoke to help out with a mugging problem and end up with more than they bargained for. After that, they’re assigned to go undercover in one of the biggest gay bars in Roanoke to find out who’s harassing patrons and employees. It seems inevitable that Vinnie will end up in a dress!

I originally introduced these two in a 500 word flash that I posted on FB, a story so short they didn’t have names. I thought that would be the end, but my good friend Chris T. Kat said she’d like to know more about them. And suddenly, Vinnie and Ethan were born! I am very grateful to Chris for that!

Have you ever had a romance that began in the workplace? I’ve met both my husbands that way. Not exactly a stirring commendation lol If you did, how did it work out for  you? Would you recommend it or advise against it? Leave a comment below and I will pick a winner (in 3 days), and that winner will receive their choice of books from my backlist.

I look forward to hearing from you!

 

Julie Lynn Hayes

Blog
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Check out Bad Dogs and Drag Queens today!

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Blurb:

Vinnie Delarosa and Ethan Thorne are partners—on and off the clock. Federal undercover detectives, they’re part of a covert task force designed to promote goodwill between the feds and local authorities. They lend an unobtrusive helping hand wherever it’s needed. No credit required.

Vinnie and Ethan work primarily in the Southeast region of the United States and live together in Richmond, Virginia. A mugger problem brings them to Roanoke, where Vinnie is thrown out as bait to catch the man who’s been snatching purses in a city park, but they end up with more than they bargained for. Why is Vinnie always the one who has to wear the dress? Ethan says it’s because Vinnie looks much prettier in a skirt. How can he argue with that?

Expecting to return to Richmond afterward, Vinnie and Ethan find themselves assigned a new case instead. They are to go undercover at The Stroll, one of the biggest gay nightclubs in Roanoke. Someone is terrorizing both the customers and the performers. Could they be dealing with a hate crime? Someone has to protect the drag queens of Roanoke, so it’s Vinnie and Ethan to the rescue!

The author is donating 10% of the royalties from this book to No Kid Hungry. Visit nokidhungry.org for more information about this organization.