Yes, That’s My Family (Sort Of) with Tali Spencer

April 14, 2017

 Yes, That's My Family (Sort Of) with Tali Spencer

 

When writing stories, authors pull from life. Write what you know, and all that. For fantasy and science fiction, that means drawing on emotions, landscapes, science, and my unique experience of being human, but not very much about actual people or places. With contemporary stories, though, those people and places can mirror real ones. I certainly did it in Breaking the Ice.

When Dreamspinner put out a call for the States of Love series, two states came immediately to mind: Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. I’ve lived in eleven states, but those are the two I know best. I was born in Wisconsin and raised my sons there. I currently live in Pennsylvania.

When writing what you know, it helps immensely if you know it well.

My family still lives in Wisconsin and bits and pieces of them color the landscape and characters of Breaking the Ice. The main characters, Matt and John, are regular guys—just like my brothers. Neither brother is gay, so please don’t read anything into that. It’s just that, like one of my brothers, Wisconsin native John is a man who built his career by going straight from high school to work at a small heavy industry company, of which Wisconsin has a great many. The company John and Matt work for is located in the town of Slinger. Why? Because my brother lived in Slinger, which lies just off one of the exits of I-45 leading to Green Bay and, importantly, Fond du Lac.

Fond du Lac is where Matt lives, and Matt… well, we’ll get to him later.

I’m familiar with the Slinger exit and the kinds of bars and supper clubs nearby. Sam and Sally’s bar is fictional… but Dale’s in Milwaukee is not. My sister used to hang out at Dale’s and maybe still does. They’re famous for their soup. The crowd at Dale’s, and at many small Milwaukee bars I’ve had occasion to visit (with my sister, as I don’t think I have ever gone to a bar alone), is friendly and social. If you’re a regular, everybody does, truly, know your name. Matt’s social group is loosely based on an evening spent at Dale’s.

Or take bowling. I’m a bowler, or was one, so there’s that. The bowling in Breaking the Ice, though, while a minor plot point, belongs squarely with my brother again, who goes bowling with guys from work—just like Matt and John. Brother got promoted into management and still bowled with the guys… also like Matt. All names are made up, but the fact one of the co-worker bowlers is Hispanic is true to life: Milwaukee has more Mexicans, and Mexican restaurants and businesses, than the entire Philadelphia metro area. Seriously, I can’t find a decent Mexican restaurant near me. But in Milwaukee…

Speaking of Milwaukee, John’s mother’s house is real. It stands about four blocks away from my Mom’s. Whenever I visit and we drive past that house, I just… like it. It’s homey and friendly and everything a house should be. Right off Lloyd Street in Wauwatosa. The kitchen of the house in the book, though, is Mom’s. John and his mom talk at my Mom’s table. Matt’s house also exists, with a boathouse that can be seen from boats on Lake Winnebago. The interior of Matt’s house, but not the exterior, is based on my good friend Amy’s house because her kitchen is awesome.

Breaking the Ice owes a huge debt to my sister. She and her husband inspired Matt (remember, I said I’d get to him). They love to fish and hunt; they own a boat and tons of gear; they’ve speared sturgeon… or at least like to party with the folks who spear sturgeon. Matt, with his passion for the outdoors and conservation, is based on them. I wanted to capture the joy of the outdoor lifestyle. A few of Mary’s anecdotes made their way into Breaking the Ice. Babe and his grill really happened. Ice glow. John’s misadventure with a sturgeon hole. The female warden (I’m sitting on a great story about her that needs a MF book!). And who knew sturgeon spearers like to swig blackberry brandy?

Oh, and don’t tell her, because she’ll probably never read this, but I gave Racko my sister’s no-nonsense personality. And another character her husband’s beard.

Matt’s petty, vengeful streak, though? That one’s all me.

Write what you know.

 

Check out Breaking the Ice today!

 

Breaking the Ice by Tali Spencer

 

Blurb:

For Matt Wasko, February in Wisconsin is the best time of the year, and ice fishing on Lake Winnebago is his idea of heaven. With shanty villages cropping up, barbeques on the ice, monster sturgeon to spear, and plenty of booze to keep everybody warm, things couldn’t be better—until a surprise storm hits and an uninvited guest shows up at his frozen doorstep.

Matt’s not happy to see John Lutz, a coworker who cracks lame gay jokes at Matt’s expense. But John’s flimsy new ice shelter got blown across the lake, and it wouldn’t be right to leave even a jerk outside to freeze. Would it?

In the close quarters of Matt’s fabulous ice shanty, between stripping off wet clothes, misadventures with bait, and a fighting trophy-sized walleye, the two men discover creative ways to keep the cold at bay. And when John confesses his long-running attraction, Matt must decide if he can believe in John’s change of heart—and crack the ice for a chance at finding love.

 

About Tali Spencer:

Tali Spencer delights in erotic fantasy and adventure, creating worlds where she can explore the heights and shadows of sexual passion. A hopeful romantic and lover of all things exotic, she also writes high fantasy, science fiction and the occasional contemporary or western. In the real world, she is currently in the process of getting new knees. If you would like to see inspiration pictures for her characters, or glimpse how she envisions her worlds, including works in progress, check out her Pinterest boards.

Visit Tali’s blog at http://talismania-brilliantdisguise.blogspot.com
E-mail: tali.spencer1@gmail.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/tali.spencer
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/talispencer/

Leap of Faith: Surprises Along the Way w/ Jackie Keswick

April 10, 2017

Surprises Along the Way with Jackie Keswick

 

Thank you very much for hosting me on the blog today and giving me a chance to talk a little about Leap of Faith, my latest friends-to-lovers action/suspense story.

As stories go, writing this one held a lot of surprises for me. For one, it ended up being set in a coastal town in the US, while I usually make up fantasy worlds or write stories set much closer to my home in England. The writing muse gave me the story long before I had the actual setting, so by the time I made it to the end I needed to pull the marina, hospital, warehouse district, and Marius’s home in the hills together into one location.

Since I had a shopping list for the place I needed, there was only one thing for it: research.

Put three writers in a room together and soon they’ll be discussing the chances of getting arrested the moment someone gets hold of their search history. Not that we’re looking at anything dodgy, you understand. We’re just researching how to blow up yachts, the best way to stab someone to incapacitate rather than kill, how to hack a High Street bank or impersonate Elvis Presley. Totally normal stuff if you make stuff up for a living.

Research isn’t all about arcane or illegal knowledge, of course. In the last few years I’ve been reading restaurant menus and train timetables, Army training manuals and cookery books. I’ve looked up the best way to re-upholster a chair, how to make venison pie and clam chowder, and tried to find out what kind of cars the police would drive in Connecticut. And I’ve spent hours with Google Earth open on my desktop studying the Connecticut coastline.

Since I’ve never visited Connecticut, Lissand, the home of FireWorks Security, ended up being wholly fictitious. I didn’t want to set it somewhere real and then stumble over little things that neither Google Earth nor guidebooks can tell me. Things like brand-new one-way streets, condemned buildings, or shops that went out of business. And, of course, I needed to make sure I had all my story ingredients in one place, logically arranged to fit the story.

I had a great deal of fun working all that out.

The next surprise that Leap of Faith had for me was what happened to the story itself. You see, when it comes to books I’m a bit of a serial monogamist.

There are plenty of serials out there all set in the same universe, where each book follows a different couple. I do read and enjoy those, but my favorites to read (and write) are series that follow one couple through significant parts of their relationship. That may have something to do with me having stuck it out for over a quarter of a century or maybe I’m simply too stubborn to quit. I really don’t know.

For me, there’s more to romance than meeting, falling in love, and deciding to give it a go. That part with the trouble breathing, the fluttering heart and sweaty palms is exciting. But I think true romance really starts with the daily nitty-gritty, with the million and four annoyances and irritations we all face every year, with learning to pull together and make it work. Stories and series that stick with one couple beyond that first flush of attraction have a good chance to feed that craving for me, whether I’m reading or writing.

So imagine my surprise when I was in the middle of writing Leap of Faith, a standalone story as far as I was concerned, and I found myself falling for one of the secondary characters in a pretty serious way.

At that point I already knew that there was more to Kieran’s story than I wanted to explore in Leap of Faith. Realizing that Kieran’s story is closely linked to that of the dishy surgeon didn’t require any great stretch. I let the writing muse play with the idea and before I knew it, Dr. Marius Leven had a book of his own, complete with love interest. That’s not how I usually roll, but it’s exciting all the same.

And it drives Joel up the wall.

Here I got my third surprise. I knew both Kieran and Joel quite well before I started writing. Kieran, the intense, stubborn one, prone to overthink and brood, still coming to terms with losing his partner and his career and finding the courage to start over. Joel, quick, decisive and easygoing by comparison, with a short fuse for bullshit and a need to watch over Kieran. I knew their past, their likes and fears, and I knew how their relationship would bloom. Then Marius Leven arrived on the scene and the story started to change.

Kieran and Marius have a connection from the moment they meet. True, Kieran draws a knife on the doctor, but Marius has faced worse. And when someone needs help, he’s right there, knife or no. Being a doctor, he sees through Kieran’s masks and he has no compunction to push boundaries, be they personal or professional. Kieran responds to that approach, not realizing the effect their easy interaction has on Joel.

I’ve always seen Leap of Faith as Kieran’s story, Kieran’s journey. I saw Joel as Kieran’s strength, that missing piece that, once in place, gives Kieran the courage to deal with his past. I hadn’t expected to have a catalyst like Marius in the mix. His presence changes the interaction between Joel and Kieran and – in the sequel that’s still a work in progress – will change Joel to a point where he and Kieran have to fight if they want to hang on to the relationship they’re building.

Did I say earlier that I preferred series where we get to follow a single couple through several books over series where each book tells a different love story? I could be changing my mind in this instance, but I wonder how everybody else feels about this. Which kind of series do you like best and why? Please leave me a note in the comments.

Check out Leap of Faith today!

 

Leap of Faith by Jackie Keswick

Dreamspinner Press
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Blurb:

Close friends and partners at FireWorks Security, Joel Weston and Kieran Ross know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. They have each other’s backs, make a formidable team, and carefully ignore their volatile chemistry.

When Kieran struggles with the aftermath of an assignment gone wrong, Joel is there to help. When Joel is caught in an explosion, Kieran jumps into a burning marina to rescue the man who means so much to him. But they never discuss what’s closest to their hearts, not prepared to risk their friendship for the mere possibility of something more.

Faced with bombs, assassins, and old ghosts, Joel and Kieran must find out why they’re targets, who is coming after them, and—most of all—how each would feel if he lost the other. Should they continue as best friends, or is it time to take a leap of faith?

 

About Jackie Keswick:

Jackie Keswick was born behind the Iron Curtain with itchy feet, a bent for rocks and a recurring dream of stepping off a bus in the middle of nowhere to go home. She’s worked in a hospital and as the only girl with 52 men on an oil rig, spent a winter in Moscow and a summer in Iceland and finally settled in the country of her dreams with her dream team: a husband, a cat, a tandem, a hammer and a laptop.

Jackie loves unexpected reunions and second chances, and men who don’t follow the rules when those rules are stupid. She blogs about English history and food, has a thing for green eyes, and is a great believer in making up soundtracks for everything, including her characters and the cat.

And she still hasn’t found the place where the bus stops.

For questions and comments, not restricted to green eyes, bus stops or recipes for traditional English food, you can find Jackie Keswick in all the usual places:

Website: http://www.jackiekeswick.com
Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/ctY9RD
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JackieKeswick
FB: https://www.facebook.com/JackieKeswick
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jackiekeswick/

 

Writing: Planning Your Garden w/ Karen Bovenmyer

April 7, 2017

Planning Your Garden with Karen Bovenmyer

 

I’ve had trouble outlining for years. I took classes on outlining. I attended conference sessions on outlining. I spoke at length with successful authors about outlining. Out of desperation, I even taught a novel outline college-level course three times, hoping I would internalize the lessons. It did not happen until I’d written over a million words. At last, after undergraduate and graduate degrees in creative writing, drafting ten novels, and guiding hundreds of students through the outline process, I’ve finally discovered why I struggle so much with outlining. I’ve learned to lean on my strengths and hybridize the strengths of my writing style (discovery or gardener) with the strengths of the outliner or architect style. First, you must know which is your natural mode, then employ very specific tools to create well-rounded, satisfying fiction.

 

What kind of writer are you?

The first step is to figure out what kind of writer you are so you know which tools to try. Here’s a short quiz—on a scrap of paper, write numbers of the remarks below that fit you a little, sort-of, or a lot.

  1. 1. I struggle to write endings.

  2. 2. My writing group says they can’t connect to my characters.

  3. 3. I dislike editing a story I’ve finished and often feel lost when it’s time to edit something really big, like a novel.

  4. 4. The blank page is overwhelming.

  5. 5. A detailed outline is overwhelming–I don’t know where to begin, nor do I care about writing the story anymore.

  6. 6. I spend a lot of time researching and don’t ever get around to writing.

  7. 7. My endings happen too fast and my writing group complains that they wanted more processing time with the character at the end.

  8. 8. I had to cut four chapters about two meticulously-researched secondary characters’ families because everyone said they didn’t matter to the main story and were unnecessary.

  9. 9. I had to cut thousands of words because I realized that entire section wasn’t going to work anymore because I had a better idea after writing it.

  10. 10. My writing group says my characters’ decisions seem forced/unearned.

 

Look at the numbers you wrote down. I believe the odd numbers are observed traits of discovery writers. I think the even numbers are observed traits of outline writers. If you have more odd numbers than even ones, try the discovery/gardener writer solutions. If you have more even than odd, try the outline/architect writer solutions.

 

Solutions for Discovery Writers

If you’re a discovery writer, you tend to need a character to attach to. You tend to play with different beginnings and find a character’s voice that compels you. You’re not sure what’s going to happen in the story—you spin out the yarn and see what happens, watching the story grow as you go, like a gardener. You tend to edit as you write, to get your words and thoughts in line, and after, say 10,000 words or so, you know the characters well enough that the story gets legs and sort of writes itself. Your critique group is annoyed by your abrupt endings, because, as soon as you think of how to end the story, the story loses all interest for you so you end it and get out quick. Editing a big story is a lot of work—you’re not sure how to begin, you only know something in the story isn’t working, some beat or plot point comes at the wrong time and you’re not sure how to fix it. You know that writing an outline would save you time and help you keep your story on track, but every time you try to write one first, you’re not quite sure how to begin and/or lose interest partway through.

 

Personally, I’m very much a discovery writer, and I’ve found the following very helpful:

  1. Start writing the story right away, using a prompt or a question you’re asking yourself, or having just read some provoking fiction or watched a movie that left you feeling unresolved. Write until you feel good about what you’re working on and you’ve got a reasonable idea of who the character/what the voice is.

  2. STOP. No, seriously, stop.

  3. Sketch out a very loose seven-point outline (I like to use Dan Wells’ Story Structure https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KcmiqQ9NpPE). Don’t go overboard. Just write seven general things that form the shape of the story as suggested by the character/voice/happenings of the first few paragraphs. This can be a sentence or even a single word.

  4. Go back to your draft and start writing again. If the story’s a short one, finish it and then look back at your outline. Rewrite the outline to more accurately reflect your story. If the story is a long one, after each chapter/section, take a look at your outline and adjust it to fit what you have written, inserting potential future things that might happen based on what the text is suggesting. DO NOT GO INTO DETAIL. As a discovery writer, going into detail threatens to suck the fun out of drafting. After you have the seven general main points laid out and you feel interested by their possibilities, return to drafting. When you’re done with the whole thing, correct your outline.

  5. Write a summary of your story. This will help you figure out where your story is going wrong so you can address that in edits. Call a friend and tell them your story’s plot. Write down any inconsistencies between what you said to your friend and what you actually wrote. This can guide you toward stronger choices in revision.

  6. Force yourself to write a long enough ending. Remember your reader loves your character. They want to know how the character emotionally reacts to what happened to them and have a sense of what happens after the story ends.

 

Solutions for Outline Writers

From what I’ve observed in friends and students, outline writers feel lost without an outline, just like discovery writers feel lost without a character—just starting a story and seeing what happens can be overwhelming and feel alien. For readers, an architect’s characters can feel flat and disconnected, or worse, unnatural, because there isn’t enough growth happening for the character while the architect fills in the events around the bones of the outline. Another danger of too much outlining is to continued structuring and world-building until the story is “perfect” which keeps you from starting writing at all. Also, a meticulously-researched world is tempting to use in ways that are boring for readers or too much information that distracts from the main story points.

 

My outliner students have found some of the below useful:

  1. Write down five things you know about your main character. Resist outlining these five things into story-form.

  2. Write down five events that have happened in your main character’s life before the action of the story. Write down how the character reacted to each of those events. This helps you start connecting to and understanding who your main character is.

  3. Stop the outline you just started that places those events in time and turns them into story. You won’t need them, they are just to help you understand your character’s reactions.

  4. Pick a very strong emotion: Joy, Anger, Love, Grief, Surprise, Fear, Trust, Anxiety—anything that is easy for you to picture and feel. Have your character describe one of the settings or an important object in your story while feeling the emotion strongly without mentioning the emotion. This will help you attach your character’s emotions to the world and the story.

  5. Don’t let yourself outline too deeply. Get down the main story points you need to feel comfortable starting, and then go ahead and start writing. Adjust your outline as you go. If you start to wonder if your character is nuanced and natural, stop and repeat step two and step four.

  6. Don’t add in world-building details you researched that distract readers from the main character’s emotional journey—only use the ones that feel relevant and fit well with the character you now know so much more about.

 

Learning what kind of writer you are, discovery or outline, or a mix of both, can help you learn your strengths and hybridize the discovery/gardener and outliner/architect styles. If you’re testing somewhere in the middle of the two, try using tools from either list and see what results. Pay careful attention to when you are bored or getting bogged down and anything that makes you stop writing. It’s important to listen to your muse—write what you enjoy in the way that keeps you productive, but use tools to head off problems your critique groups have reported to you. As you master this balancing act, you’ll be able to plan your garden to grow in natural and beautiful ways and create nuanced, satisfying fiction and save yourself a lot of time editing.

 

Check out Swift for the Sun today!

 

Swift for the Sun by Karen Bovenmyer

 Blurb:

Benjamin Lector imagines himself a smuggler, a gunrunner, and an all-around scoundrel. A preacher’s son turned criminal, first and foremost he is a survivor.

When Benjamin is shipwrecked on Dread Island, fortune sends an unlikely savior—a blond savage who is everything Benjamin didn’t know he needed. Falling in love with Sun is easy. But pirates have come looking for the remains of Benjamin’s cargo, and they find their former slave Sun instead.

Held captive by the pirates, Benjamin learns the depths of Sun’s past and the horrors he endured and was forced to perpetrate. Together, they must not only escape, but prevent a shipment of weapons from making its way to rebellious colonists. Benjamin is determined to save the man he loves and ensure that a peaceful future together is never threatened again. To succeed might require the unthinkable—an altruistic sacrifice.

 

About Karen Bovenmyer: 

Karen Bovenmyer earned an MFA in Creative Writing: Popular Fiction from the University of Southern Maine. She currently serves as the Nonfiction Assistant Editor of Escape Artists’ Mothership Zeta Magazine and is the 2016 recipient of the Horror Writer’s Association Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Scholarship. Her science fiction, fantasy, and horror novellas, short stories, and poems appear in more than twenty publications. Though she triple-majored in anthropology, English, and history for her BS from Iowa State University in 1997, Swift for the Sun is her first published work of historical fiction.

Website: karenbovenmyer.com
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/karenbovenmyer
Facebook: www.facebook.com/karen.bovenmyer
Twitter: @karenbovenmyer

Julia Talbot’s Top 10 Real Life Cowboy Experiences

April 6, 2017

Julia Talbot's Top Ten Real Life Cowboy Experiences

 

Hey y’all!

I’m Julia, and I’m a cowboy-o-holic.

Okay, so I write a lot more werewolves and bears and historical dudes. But I love me some cowboys. I mean, I married BA Tortuga, the queen of the down to earth cowboy book.

So, what is it about the cowboys?

There’s the iconic aspect of them. The heroic John Wayne figure, riding off into the sunset. There’s the Wranglers. There’s the work hardened body, a lean, mean fighting machine with a farmer’s tan.

But really, for me, there’s a lot more to it. I grew up watching the rodeo team at the college where I lived practice. I went to visit my grandpa in the summer, where he still did his job on horseback. I wore cowboy boots to school. While I was a suburban kid at best, I’m only one generation removed from people who worked the very land I write about in my Riding Cowboy Flats series.

So, here I give you Julia’s top ten real life most cowboy experiences, so you can see where I’m coming from. Trust me, some were fun, some not so much…

 

10. Being told a calf can’t  buck you off if you ride him backward and hold onto the tail. And trying it. Not true.

9. Getting shot at with buckshot while diving through a barbed wire fence.

8. Watching my wife string fence on her Daddy’s ranch in Texas, while she wore flip flops and threw a ball for the dog

7. Going to watch the tiniest rodeo on earth at the Hunt County fair

6. Buying my first pair of adult cowboy boots at an outlet store in Texas

5. Hitting all the little rodeos in Central Texas over the 4th of July, also called Cowboy Christmas. We must  have gone to 15 in one year

4. Cattleman’s Days in Gunnison, Colorado. The oldest rodeo in CO

3. Cowboy poetry competition in Colorado- holy moustache batman

2. Seeing George Strait at the Houston Rodeo and shaking his hand

  1. 1. Cheyenne Frontier Days, y’all. The Daddy of ‘em All!

 

Check out Just a Cowboy today!

 

Just a Cowboy by Julia Talbot

 

Blurb:

2nd Edition
Riding Cowboy Flats: Book Two

Can an old-fashioned cowboy and a young man on the run from his dark past find a future together?

Herschel is a simple rancher who believes everybody deserves a second chance, which is why he tends to hire underdogs—like Dalton, a young cowboy who needs all the support and TLC Herschel can offer.

Dalton doesn’t think anyone can forgive him for what he did, but Herschel seems willing to try. In fact, he might be the best thing that has ever happened to Dalton. He might even be the one to help Dalton trust in the future again. Just when he’s about to tell Herschel everything, all hell breaks loose. Herschel must help Dalton break free from everything that’s haunting him, or they’ll both end up alone.

First Edition published by Torquere Press, 2010.

 

Author Bio:

Stories that leave a mark. Julia Talbot loves romance across all the genders and genres, and loves to write about people working to see past the skin they’re in to love what lies beneath. Julia Talbot lives in the great mountain and high desert Southwest, where there is hot and cold running rodeo, cowboys, and everything from meat and potatoes to the best Tex-Mex. A full time author, Julia has been published by Dreamspinner and Changeling Press among many others. She believes that everyone deserves a happy ending, so she writes about love without limits, where boys love boys, girls love girls, and boys and girls get together to get wild, especially when her crazy paranormal characters are involved. She also writes BDSM and erotic romance as Minerva Howe. Find Julia at @juliatalbot on Twitter, or at www.juliatalbot.com “The mountains are calling, and I must go”

Author links:

www.juliatalbot.com
https://twitter.com/juliatalbot
https://www.facebook.com/juliatalbotauthor

The Android and the Thief: A Transformative Experience w/ Wendy Rathbone

April 3, 2017

A Transformative Experience with Wendy Rathbone

 

 

Hi to all readers of m/m romance. My name is Wendy Rathbone and I have just released my novel “The Android and the Thief.”

This book is a romance set in a far flung future with some dark elements but a lot of heart and two main characters who really came to life for me.

The story was great fun to write. It is difficult to say exactly where the idea originated. The way I generate ideas is to make lists of my favorite things to read including plot points, characteristics of people, etc. I also create prompts for myself with words, phrases or poems. I take some of these prompts and mix them up, pairing things that might seem at odds, then figuring out the story from there.

For this book I knew I wanted a character who was an indentured servant, someone with no rights or freedom to choose his own destiny. The idea of having characters with all choice taken from them has always intrigued me. So I often write about themes involving people who are slaves or created beings or in some way imprisoned. I had created an idea in the past of “androids” who are actually human in every way, simply enhanced genetically to be near-perfect, and grown in vats. Born adult with implanted memories of false childhoods, these “androids” become expensive toys for the rich and decadent, or expendable as space military combat soldiers. (Yes, I am a fan of Blade Runner.) The problem is these androids are fully functioning, physical humans and so this manufacturing process can actually create emotionally damaged or stunted beings if their imprinted programming roles break down and they begin to “wake up” and think outside their given parameters. Thus, Khim, one of the two main characters in the book, was born to my mind.

I love characters with dark pasts, or who are emerging from mind-jolting, mind-awakening traumas.The character of Khim came to life for me a little at a time. I knew he would be a combat soldier, the only life he’d ever known. I knew he would be injured and forced, after ten years, into another life he was not prepared for. Because of his enhanced beauty, that life was going to be a brothel, and it was not going to be pleasant. But it was the only way I could think of to break him and create a story about his slowly emerging real self, an abrupt introduction to his true humanity, and to the transformative experience of eventual love.

Next, in walks Trev, who has lived a very privileged life, the son of a dynamic crime figure whom he cannot escape. Trev’s story, like Khim’s, is also about breaking out of a kind of prison, one where his life is owned and manipulated by his controlling father.

So I have two characters trying to break away from their pasts and, to make things even worse, both get thrown into prison together as cellmates. Khim knows a secret about Trev which makes him hate him right away, so there is lots of conflict. But they aren’t bad guys, not really, and they soon learn that to defeat their demons they are stronger together.

When I put all those ideas together in my head, the story wrote itself.

If I were asked to pick a favorite character between the two, Trev or Khim, I don’t think I could. Each has his own specific problems and thoughts. Each was an equally fun point of view to write.

For readers, I have a question. Who are your favorite characters who are broken but healing, with tragic pasts? You can name from any media, books, TV, movies.

Wendy Rathbone

 

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Wendy-Rathbone/e/B00B0O9BMS/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1490462215&sr=1-2-ent
Newsletter sign up: http://eepurl.com/cqDVcX
Blog: http://wendyrathbone.blogspot.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wendy.rathbone.3

 

Check out The Android and the Thief today!

 

The Android and the Thief by Wendy Rathbone

Blurb:

Will love set them free—or seal their fate?

In the sixty-seventh century, Trev, a master thief and computer hacker, and Khim, a vat-grown human android, reluctantly share a cell in a floating space prison called Steering Star. Trev is there as part of an arrangement that might finally free him from his father’s control. Khim, formerly a combat android, snaps when he is sold into the pleasure trade and murders one of the men who sexually assaults him. At first they are at odds, but despite secrets and their dark pasts, they form a pact—first to survive the prison, and then to escape it.

But independence remains elusive, and falling in love comes with its own challenges. Trev’s father, Dante, a powerful underworld figure with sweeping influence throughout the galaxy, maintains control over their lives that seems stronger than any prison security system, and he seeks to keep them apart. Trev and Khim must plan another, more complex escape, and this time make sure they are well beyond the law as well as Dante’s reach.

 

About the Author:

Wendy Rathbone lives with a cat, three dogs, and her partner of thirty-six years, Della. She has been writing since the age of twelve. She lives in the high desert of southern California.
Male/male romance has been a passion of Wendy’s since before the signature “m/m” was even invented. She wrote a lot of slash fanfic in various fandoms to assuage that obsession but moved on to original writing in the fields of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, where she is published in many anthologies and magazines.
She is an award-winning poet, a graduate from UCSD, and runs her own retail business. Her self-published science fiction and m/m romances can be found on Amazon, and her novel The Android and the Thief is available everywhere.
Wendy’s blog: wendyrathbone.blogspot.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wendy.rathbone.3
E-mail: wrathbone@juno.com

Kelly Jensen: Dating Ideas for Henry and Marc – Post + Giveaway

April 3, 2017

Date Ideas with Kelly Jensen

 

Poor Henry and Marc. They haven’t had a good dating history so far. When they first get together, it’s because they’re trapped on the side of a road during a blizzard. On Christmas Eve, no less. Then, on New Year’s Eve, they get trapped in a basement. To Marc’s credit, he did pick a good date location. They should have been safe in the home of senior partner Shelly Flores. But, really, would these guys be safe anywhere?

For fun (see, this is why my characters hate me) I thought I’d check out a few recommended “first date” recommendations on the internet, and see if they’d work for Henry and Marc.

POPSUGAR has a list of 22 Kiss-Friendly New Year’s Eve Date Ideas. The second is a sunset picnic. Okay, I guess that could work if you were in the right climate for it, but Boston in December? Ugh, no. That’s just asking for disaster. Also, I couldn’t even look at the food on their pretty little blanket without thinking ALLERGIES. Going into anaphylactic shock on a date is…memorable? But not particularly kiss-friendly.

The sexy movie marathon could work…

AskMen’s Top 10: New Year’s Eve Ideas has a fun first suggestion: A quick getaway. Really? Putting Henry and Marc on any form of public transport is just asking for trouble. A quick cab ride across the city is risk enough.

Staying home for a quiet, romantic dinner sounds nice.

Bustle has 7 Last-Minute New Year’s Eve Date Night Ideas. Last minute is probably not a good idea and not really Marc’s thing, but… Okay, going to the movies could work. If no one chokes on the popcorn. But the DIY fireworks are OUT. Not giving these guys anything explosive, any time soon.

So, Astroglide (don’t laugh) has 21 Sexy Winter Date Ideas for Guys on Any Budget. I love the second suggestion, sledding in the park. It’s fun, it’s romantic, it’s different… and it’s ripe for disaster, broken limbs being the least among them. Now in any normal story, this date would happen during the day. Henry and Marc on a sled at night in a park in Boston on New Year’s Eve? I’ll just let your imagination run with that one for a little while.

Gay Life at About.com has a nice list of Untraditional Date Ideas. First thought is that untraditional is probably not a good idea for these guys. Second thought is, maybe that’s what we need. (Also, I am very amused that these ideas are specifically for gay couples, because we all know they don’t enjoy traditional date ideas, right?) So, number two is out. No rollercoasters. Roller skating probably isn’t a good idea, either. But I’m not really coming up with any objections to bowling. Might have to think laterally for that one. Where is this bowling alley and how would they get there? Do they serve peanuts at the snack shop? Has Marc ever actually bowled before?

It’s not looking good for Henry and Marc, is it? All joking aside, though, I’d like to think the worst is behind them. Such a rocky beginning can only guarantee a smooth ascent from here on, right?

Oh, absolutely.

Thanks for following my tour! At the end of every post, I’ll be asking a question. Leave a comment with your answer (and your email address). Every comment throughout the tour counts as an entry in my giveaway. One winners will receive $15 (US or equivalent) to spend at the Dreamspinner Press store.

Question: Do you have a date idea for Henry and Marc?

 

Check out Counting Down today!

 

Counting Down by Kelly Jensen

Blurb: 

It’s been a week since a Christmas Eve blizzard changed the course of Marcus Winnamore’s life. Plan A is now Plan B, and the first item on his new agenda is taking Henry Auttenberg on a date. They’ve been invited to a New Year’s Eve party, and Marc is counting down the hours until midnight… until he can kiss Henry in front of his colleagues and friends.

Things don’t quite work out to plan. Finding the elevator out of service, Marc and Henry check the stairs, only to choose the wrong door and become locked in the basement. Close quarters once again make for close conversation, and as they explore every avenue of escape, they also explore the deepening attraction between them. For Marc, this isn’t an experiment. Will he still feel that way when he has to admit to someone other than Henry that he’s gay?

 

About Kelly Jensen:

Kelly Jensen was born in Australia and raised everywhere else. Currently, she lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, daughter, and herd of four cats. After disproving the theory that water only spins counterclockwise around drains north of the equator, she turned her attention to more productive pursuits such as reading, writing, writing about reading, and writing stories of her own. She also enjoys volunteering at her local library, playing video games, and holds a brown belt in Kiryoku, a martial art combining Shotokan, Aikido, and Tang Soo Do. Her family is not intimidated by her.
Twitter: @kmkjensen
Website: kellyjensenwrites.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/kellyjensenwrites

Cowboys! W/ Tory Temple

March 31, 2017

Cowboys! With Tory Temple

 

Hey everybody! I’m Tory, and I’m so happy I get to talk to you about my favorite topic (AFTER firefighters)!

COWBOYS YAY.

My novel Down in the Dirt was released earlier this week and I couldn’t be happier! Dreamspinner has been so generous with allowing me to republish some of my old novels. This was formerly released with another publisher under the title Tabula Rasa. It’s got a brand-spanking-new title, cover, and edit.

I actually wanted to call this book Down in the Dirt from the beginning, but I was also going through this weird writing phase where my book titles had to be vague yet meaningful. Tabula Rasa literally means “blank slate”, and there’s a part in the story where…. ha. No spoilers! Anyway, I’m glad it got renamed.

I did have to do a fair bit of research on team ropers, but once I started, it didn’t feel like work to me at all. It was so interesting to learn the ins and outs of the rodeo circuit, especially because I make it a habit to go to the rodeo every time it’s local. One thing I was really pleased to find out was how humanely the animals are treated. They’re actually worth a lot of money to the owners, so the last thing the rancher wants is for a steer or horse to be injured. Serious precautions are taken to avoid injury!

Teagan and Cash are pretty much the epitome of the “enemies to lovers” trope, but I don’t mind that they fall into that category. A good personality clash really makes things interesting, at least from my perspective. And trust me when I say these two clash. Fortunately for them, they’re extremely compatible in the rodeo ring. (And maybe some other places, but they won’t admit it.)

This book was actually an EPPIE finalist back in the day, and I’m really proud of it. Thank you so much for letting me chat a little! I sincerely hope you love Teagan and Cash as much as I do.

Happy roping!

 

Tory would be happy to chat with readers in the following places:

Website: www.torytemple.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/torytemple
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ToryTemple

 

Check out Down in the Dirt today!

 

Down in the Dirt by Tory Temple

Blurb:

Rodeo cowboy Teagan has inherited his father’s ranch, and it’s in a bad way. To pay his bills, he’ll have to work the rodeo circuit hard, and for that he needs a partner. Team roper Cash is just the ticket. He’s not the friendliest sort, but he has a good seat and a better roping arm, so Teagan takes Cash on and things heat up fast. Maybe too fast.

When Teagan finds out he’s not the only one Cash has in the saddle, he thinks they’re over for good. But then Cash has an accident, and Teagan cares too much about Cash to abandon him. How will he deal with a new Cash, one with no memory of being a bit of an asshole—or of a relationship with Teagan? And how will Cash react when he realizes Teagan has been less than forthcoming about their past?

Like any good rodeo ride, Teagan and Cash have ups and downs, crashing and burning as often as they blaze bright. But to make their love work as smoothly as their roping, they’ll have to push past deception and stubborn pride.

Leigh Carman: Football, the Patriots, and an Out of Control Imagination

March 23, 2017

 

Football Patriots

 

Football, the Patriots, and an Out of Control Imagination—Just another day in the life of Leigh Carman.

Hello fellow readers of Dreamspinner! I’m Leigh Carman and today marks the release of Fair Catch, book 2 in the Players of LA series. Don’t worry, they’re standalone novels, but characters from other books do make cameos from time to time just to keep things fun and interesting.

I’d like to talk sports for a minute. After spending the first 27 years of my life in New England, yes, I’m a die-hard Patriots fan. I know, I know. Most of you are tired of hearing about the Pats and their many, many, many Superbowl rings. I get it. But hey, that doesn’t mean it isn’t still completely awesome for my team to win! Well, after writing book 1 in the Players of LA series as a result of accidentally watching a men’s beach volleyball tournament on TV, I couldn’t help but turn to my favorite sport, football, as my muse for book 2.

Plucked directly from the ranks of my home team, I created Sullivan “Van” Archer, an amazingly talented, very tall, very hunky, and very blond wide receiver (those of you with any knowledge of the Patriots will easily figure out who was my inspiration for Van). To complete him, I came up with Van’s exact opposite, Toby Bennett, a slender, super flexible, fashion-challenged, yoga instructor. They are the yin and the yang that give us that oh-so-awesome friction and heat between the main characters, and trust me, when Van and Toby get together, the sparks burn hot enough to melt your e-reader.

I don’t know why I find professional athletes so fascinating. No, that’s a lie. It’s because I love strong, determined, and hard working, men, who possess that natural confidence I find undeniably hot. Believe me, when I watch sports with my husband, I can always count on him at some point, turning to stare at me with one eyebrow raised. He knows exactly what goes through my head when I see two attractive athletes fight and tussle on the screen—1) How can I put this in a book? and 2) What would happen if the men were secret lovers? We all have our weaknesses, mine just happens to be a very overactive imagination.

That’s how Fair Catch came to be. I hope you enjoy reading Van and Toby’s story. It’s been a long time in the making. I know a fair amount of you will ask about Toby’s BFF, the loud and proud Leo Greenway. Don’t worry, you’ll find out all about Leo and his brightly colored Chucks soon enough. He’s currently a work in progress, but I’m just about finished helping him find the love of his life.

I mentioned my favorite sport is football. Now it’s my turn to ask you a couple of questions. What is your favorite sport? Or your favorite team or even favorite athlete? Just comment below. Bonus points to anyone who guesses my inspiration for Van Archer.

Happy reading!

 

Check out Fair Catch today!

 

Fair Catch by Leigh Carman

Blurb:

Two men.

One night of passion.

They never expected to see each other again.

They were wrong.

Tobias Bennett is a quiet and unassuming man who teaches yoga and enjoys parkour. Though he is proud to be gay, an abusive relationship with a domineering man has left Tobias wary of romance, and he keeps to himself in his tidy Los Angeles apartment.

Pro football player Sullivan Archer is Tobias’s complete opposite: loud, brash, fond of the spotlight… and deep in the closet. When a hamstring injury sends Van to Tobias as part of his therapy, neither of them is expecting to come face-to-face with his one-night stand. Now they’re stuck together throughout Van’s healing process, and the close proximity will force them to deal with some hard truths. For Tobias, it’s realizing his hookup is a celebrity. For Van, it means accepting that he likes Tobias more than he wanted. They’ll both have to acknowledge that if they choose to pursue a relationship, their lives will change in big ways.

 

Leigh Carman

About the Author:

Leigh Carman was born and raised in New England with all of its fall foliage and winter snow. She escaped to the South, where she currently lives outside Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband, two kids, and French Bulldog, Shelby.

She loves the Red Sox, the Patriots, and anything chocolate (but not white chocolate—everyone knows it’s not real chocolate so it doesn’t count), and has left explicit instructions in her will to have her ashes snuck into Fenway Park and sprinkled all over while her family enjoys beer, hot dogs, and a wicked good time.

Leigh also writes M/F dark romance under the name Heather C. Leigh. She also loves exploring the underbelly of fame and the crushing weight of those under the microscope 24/7.

Leigh Carman

Ken Bachtold: Creating Theater

March 22, 2017

 Creating Theater with Ken Bachtold

 

Of all five books that I’ve been fortunate enough to have Dreamspinner publish, this one is the closest to my heart, in that it’s semi-autobiographical.  Like Nick in the story, I did graduate from San Francisco State University with a BA & MA in theater and a minor in Art. Instead of taking a great teaching job at San Francisco City College (where I would eventually become head of the entire drama department–with, at that time, a highly unusual for a college, top of the line professional Eisenhower light board and automatic scene changing system–I fell into the “lure of the big time” and came to New York.

I’d been lucky enough to get an Equity card in S.F. by playing The Boy’s Father in the ongoing production of The Fantasticks! at Ghirardelli Square. However, this turned out to be false security, as I soon found out that whenever I entered an audition space, there were about fifty other guys who looked exactly like me! Finally, I was fortunate enough to get an audition for a projected musical titled Mata Hari (which never made it to Broadway) and I’d always been shaky singing since a choir director once said to me when I was about twelve years old, “I think you’d better go home, and come back when your voice finishes changing.”  Traumatized for life, I went home and didn’t murmur a musical sound until I tried out for West Side Story at school (I loved, loved, loved musicals, even then – nothing like the almost off-tune sound of a pit orchestra) and, lo and behold, got the part of Bernardo! That settled my fate going forward! But at the N.Y. audition, I was so nervous (the audition was in the afternoon, on the stage of a Broadway theater and it looked like a million empty seats staring back at me). I’d chosen an old standard, My Funny Valentine, and just before I started to warble, my knees began to shake, and my voice kept going up and up as I sharped through the whole song.  As I left, I hoped the people in the wings, who were waiting their turn, wouldn’t have noticed. I figured they did, because they all looked at the stage floor as I walked passed them!  Embarrassment to the nth degree!

At any rate, disappointed by events, I did, like Nick, start my own company (yes, called A Company of Players) where I directed five plays (before my money ran out!). And again, drawing from my own past, I wrote a play entitled, Starting Over which was accepted (six out of sixty) for the Ninth Annual Fresh Fruit Festival here in N.Y.  And, again, like Nick, I had two young people who didn’t learn their lines and I almost had to cancel the play . . . and . . . a “method actress” (a former FBI agent – I can’t make this stuff up) who made me crazy, just like Rosie does for Nick.

All the theater references are spot on, as I literally lived them myself. I do try to place my stories in New York to try and get a real authentic feel for the setting. And, being originally from San Francisco, I did actually ride the cable cars going to my dentist, and I did go to the Fairmont Hotel, and other hotels for formal affairs when in college. And, the street (Powell Street) is actually so steep that it has stairs on the sidewalk and when you have to stop at the top of the hill you’d better have your hand on the emergency brake and your foot hovering over the brake and the gas pedal, because when the light turns green, heaven forbid that you slip back, as you’ll crash into the car behind you (undoubtedly irritating the other driver just a bit).

So, that’s some of the events that I used in the story, and I hope all this information is interesting and helps! I tried to make this blog more chatty than the others so it would be different!

 

Check out A Company of Players today!

 

A Company of Players by Ken Bachtold

Blurb:

Leaving romantic wreckage behind him, Nick Charles and his best friend Barb Anderson use Nick’s sizable inheritance to fly to one of the most exciting places in the world—New York City—with plans to open their own theater. In doing so, they meet Ross Taylor, the handsome real estate man and actor, and Rudy his construction-worker cousin. Ross is determined to heal Nick’s fragile heart, while shy Rudy and oblivious Barb stumble toward their own connection. Will Rosie Dupree, a rigid method actress, and talented but devious Gordon Holmes destroy their theater dreams? Was choosing the original piece, Starting Over, by an unpublished young playwright the best move for opening night? Will the invited critic show up? Amid the frantic and colorful world of the New York City theater scene, Nick and Barb must open their hearts and risk everything for their endeavors to succeed—both on the stage and behind the scenes.

States of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the United States.

 

About the Author: 

Ken Bachtold graduated from San Francisco State University with a BA and an MA in acting and directing and a minor in art. Passing up a great teaching job and surrendering to the “lure of the big-time,” he came to New York. After pounding the pavement and finding it wanting, he decided to shape his own destiny and founded A Company of Players Repertory Theatre, producing and directing five plays. Always an avid reader, his two Kindles probably store 500 books, mostly MM romance. Often frustrated at finding exactly the type of story he favored, he thought, What the hell, I should write one. And so he did!

BA Tortuga: Blame It On Poppy

March 21, 2017

Blame It On Poppy w/ BA Tortuga

 

Hey, y’all! I’m BA Tortuga, resident redneck and lover of all things cowboy.

So. A year ago, my dear friend Poppy Dennison says to the universe at large: I want secret baby books.

I said, “bah.”

I said, “I’m not writing a m/m secret baby story.”

I said, “Stuff and nonsense. Everyone’s going to write a—.”

Then my brain, which functions without any help or assistance from me at all said, “What if there was a cowboy who woke up one morning to find a baby in a basket on his doorstep?”

And Hoss said, “Is there a note? Folks don’t dump babies without a note or a necklace or something.”

And Bradley, Hoss’ Very Good Friend (trademark, patent pending) said, “You got what left on your doorstep?”

Hoss: “A baby.”

Bradley: “A baby what?”

Hoss: “Person.”

Bradley: “Is there a note? Folks don’t dump babies without a note.”

Hoss: “That’s what I said!”

This? This WHOLE thing?

Poppy’s fault.

All of it.

Blame her.

I do.

 

Much love, y’all.

BA

 

Check out Two Cowboys and a Baby today!

 

Two Cowboys and a Baby by BA Tortuga

 

Dreamspinner Press
Amazon

 

Blurb:

A little bundle of joy means big changes.

Hoss McMasters has a working ranch, a bull riding career, a nosy momma, and a best friend he’s been in love with since he can remember. He’s a busy, happy cowboy, living the good life.

Then one morning he discovers a baby on his doorstep.

Well, Hoss does what any reasonable man would do—he calls his momma and his buddy, Sheriff Pooter, and they head to the clinic to see if Doc knows of any suddenly not-so-pregnant girls.

In the meantime, Hoss and his best friend, Bradley, have their hands full trying to care for an infant, run a ranch, and deal with the sudden confession that Bradley doesn’t hate Hoss for coming out to him in high school. In fact, Bradley’s been trying to catch Hoss’s attention for damn near a decade.

 

About BA Tortuga:

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. Find her on the web at www.batortuga.com