July 25, 2016
Jayce Ellis joins us today to chat about new book “Alex’s Law”!
If anyone had told me a year ago when I started writing Alex’s Law, that it would actually be accepted, let alone actually published, I would’ve told them that I wanted whatever they were smoking. For the record, I don’t smoke. But the idea of being an actual author, with my name on a book available for public consumption, was a pipe dream if I ever had one. In the far recesses of my mind, it was always a possibility, just like becoming a professional clarinetist, or even a singer. My singing voice sounds like a dog screeching. It is not pretty. I’d minored in English in college (originally it was a major, but I got lazy and didn’t finish), but it had been my “love” major. Politics was my “job” major. I never expected it to go anywhere.
One fateful day, I was on the Dreamspinner website decided to click under submissions. Why not? What’s the worst that could happen? I mean, aside from them crushing my nascent dream before it began. Seriously though, I would’ve been perfectly content with a polite decline with some suggestions on how to improve. What I got, the reality of Alex’s Law now being available, is way more than I ever expected. So, what was the actual writing process like?
In every way possible, it was the best case of the blind leading the blind. I had no clue what I was doing. I had no clue how to put together a character arc, a story plot, subplots (OMG, what the heck are those?), or anything. And the amazing words and sentences and phrases and everything swirling around in my head turned into complete gibberish on the page. I spent a significant amount of time spent pounding my head on a desk. A solid, cherry wood desk older than me. Not my brightest moment.
Then my husband asked me, “So what do you see these guys as really looking like?” And that switch, from having an abstract idea in my mind to an actual representation, did wonders for me. If you’re interested, check out my Pinterest board for Alex’s Law to see the inspiration for the characters in this book. Once I had real people in my head, I could see real interactions in real situations, and then was able to put something semi-coherent together. I hope you like what I came up with.
Now, I am a series lover. I read series. I devour series. If I see that the book I’m reading is book ten, best believe I’m going to grab books one through nine first. And, with any luck, I’ll read them all in a weekend. Considering how much I toiled putting together 18,000 words, my respect for those authors who write full-length novels, multiple times a year (Charlie Cochet, I’m looking at you), only to have readers like myself consume them in one morning with a cup of coffee and a bagel, has grown exponentially. So, right now I’m working on what will hopefully be book two of this series, with the working title Bailing Out. It is a full-length novel, and with any luck I’ll have it out for consideration by the end of August. If they like it, there are a few more ideas that I have on tap, including (crossing my fingers) a longer novella with Alex and Law. Because in my first draft, many, many moons ago, I had a second subplot—yes, I know, two subplots is absurd. Told you I was a newbie—that delves a little bit more into their backgrounds and their families, that was just way too much to put in this little ditty.
So, let’s wrap this up. Since Dreamspinner has done me the greatest honor in publishing this, I’d like to give something back to the amazing readers. I am doing a $25 giveaway card for Dreamspinner Press books. Given how often they have sales, you can stock up on the cheap. All you have to do is two things. One, leave me a comment below. Tell me when you went after a dream that you thought you’d never achieve, and tell me how that worked out for you. Hopefully we’ll get a lot of positive stories, but they don’t have to be. And two, you can either like my Facebook page, or follow me on Twitter, or sign up for my newsletter. Each other gives you another entry, but everyone who comments will automatically be entered. It closes on July 31, 2016.
Thanks for listening to my ramblings and musings. I can’t wait to see what you guys have to say about chasing your dreams, and thanks so much for all of your support.
Check out Alex’s Law today!
Alex Corrigan is in love with his boss, Judge Lawson Daniels, and thinks those feelings are returned. That assumption is sorely tested two days before the court holiday party they’re organizing together, when the venue calls and cancels, followed by a snafu with the caterer. Alex could handle that, but after an intimate dinner followed by a decidedly unromantic e-mail, he’s left wondering about the future of his employment as well as his relationship with the debonair older man.
Law can’t wait to see his clerk again. But Alex is cold and distant in the light of day, and Law doesn’t understand. The party looms in the background, but Law’s excitement is turning to dread. On top of that, someone is sabotaging them, trying to get Alex fired and drive Law off the bench. If there’s any chance for a happy holiday for Alex and Law, they’ll have to find out who.
About Jayce Ellis:
Jayce Ellis has three loves: her husband and her two turtles. Hubby loves her back. The turtles she’s not so sure about, but they do love their sports (Bay Area teams FTW!). She still hasn’t figured out why she lives in Northern Virginia, where there’s weather, instead of California, where she’s from, and where it’s just…pretty. Jayce spends her days divorcing happily-married couples (or so she’s been told), and her nights talking maniacally to herself. Thankfully the recorder catches her rumblings and magically turns them into words on a screen. Painting nails is way easier when you don’t actually have to type, and with well over 500 polishes to get through, there’s a lot of painting going on.
Notwithstanding her no-good, very bad, horrible day job, Jayce seriously believes that true love conquers all. Even Maleficent said it. Sure, she was having an epic Mean Girls moment at the time, but she still said it. And she’s right. The only thing Jayce loves more than writing about true love conquering all, is hearing from readers who feel the same way. Drop her a line; she’d love to hear from you.
July 24, 2016
B. Snow joins us today to talk about Have a Hygge Holiday!
Hi, all, I’m B. Snow, and I’m here to talk about my new release, Have a Hygge Holiday.
“What the what??” I hear you ask. “What does that mean? And how do you even pronounce it??”
I’ll answer both those questions further down in the post, but first I’d like to talk a little about Dreamspinner Press and a recent epiphany I had. It’s germane, I promise.
I submitted Have a Hygge Holiday to Dreamspinner’s Advent Calendar with the expectation that it would be rejected, because it’s not the sort of story most people want to read around the holidays. Not to spoil it for anyone, but there are no Christmas miracles, no sweet scenes of reconciliation, no realizations about the value of family. Of course it has [SPOILER ALERT!] a happy ending, and some funny parts, so although it didn’t make it into the Advent Calendar, Dreamspinner very kindly contracted it for their Christmas in July promotion.
And now I’ll go off on another tangent (but it will all make sense in the end, I swear!). In real life, I know a lot of authors who write het romance. I’ve heard some of them speak about the large number of changes their editors have asked them to make in their stories. Sometimes these published authors suggest making plot or character changes to your story in order to make for a better pitch to an editor or agent.
I understand that editors, agents, and publishers do make their living by selling books. I know they’re trying to make your story the best it can be so it will sell well. And I know writers support each other by helping make each other’s books better, AND by helping fellow writers sell those books, first to an editor/agent, and then to readers.
That said, I find it kind of strange when authors are asked to change their plots or characters, and I recently realized why authors of het romance don’t seem to find it as strange as I do. It’s because most of them are used to working with traditional publishers, and I’ve worked mostly with Dreamspinner.
Yes, technically Dreamspinner is a traditional publisher. But* their editors have never asked me to make any huge changes to a story. They’ve asked for clarification of scenes, or corrections of historical elements, or elaboration when a character’s motivation isn’t clear, but they’ve never asked me to rework the plot or change a character or add a sex scene. They’ve never finalized a blurb without asking for and incorporating my input. And the Dreamspinner art department has never asked me to accept a cover I wasn’t 100% happy with. I’ve heard other traditionally published authors talk about ALL these things.
My theory is that Dreamspinner doesn’t ask for big changes because they publish gay romance.
Gay romance is already outside the box. Readers of gay romance have already shown they’re looking for the unusual, the unpredictable, and Dreamspinner gives them that. They trust the stories their authors tell, even if those stories can be a bit bizarre (time-traveling codpiece, anyone?). They don’t reshape manuscripts to fit into an upcoming theme or some recent trend. They’re willing to take a chance on the different, to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go….well, you get the picture.
They’re willing to accept stories by authors who don’t write a lot, stories with unpronounceable titles using words that no one outside of Scandinavia has ever heard of. Stories like Have a Hygge Holiday. (See? I told you I’d get to the point. Eventually.)
Have a Hygge Holiday is about the winter holidays, family and traditions, candles, decorations, hot drinks, good food, and being with the people you love. Hygge (pronounced kind of like “hyoogah”) is all of that. It’s a Danish word that has no English equivalent, but the closest definition might be “coziness”. This video has some examples of hygge, which is really the only way to explain it.
The story is one I’d been trying to write for a few years but could never get quite right: a relationship between two young men of different religious and cultural backgrounds, and the comedy of errors that follows when their families clash during the holidays.
I’ve never had that clash myself, despite being Jewish and married to a man who is Catholic. To paraphrase the dedication of the book, our families are not the families in the story. However, some elements of the story are drawn from real life. The amount of oil used to make latkes, for example, and growing up without lights on the house in winter because that would have meant we celebrated Christmas, which we didn’t.
Now that I know about hygge, I think EVERYONE should put lights on their houses for winter, and string light balls from their trees.
There’s a reason Yule logs and Hanukkah candles happen around the same time of year. Humans have a need to bring warmth and light to the dark and cold of winter. Whether you celebrate one of the winter holidays, or all of them, or none of them, you’ve probably still been doing hygge all this time without even knowing it.
Here’s an excerpt from the beginning of the story (before the hygge really gets going):
Turn around and walk away.
Niall stood outside the door to Josh’s apartment, his finger an inch from the doorbell, while an argument waged silently in his head.
It’s just for a week, Niall’s rational side countered.
It’s wrong, and you know it.
Niall sighed. Catholic Guilt didn’t automatically disappear when you stopped going to church. It was ingrained. Possibly genetic.
That boy thinks he might have a future with you, Guilt said, and if you spend the holidays with him, it’s going to cement that thought in his head. And his heart. And you don’t feel the same, so you should not be here.
You don’t know that, Niall replied silently, his finger moving a millimeter closer to the doorbell. I might feel the same. We only met six weeks ago. It’s not like I know everything about him.
Niall’s phone buzzed, making him jump. He pulled it out of his pocket, and swore as he looked at the caller ID. He turned and walked down the hall away from Josh’s door before hitting the Talk button. “Hi, Mom.”
“Niall, sweetie! Where are you?”
“I’m at Josh’s.”
“Put him on the phone.”
“No, I mean, I’m just outside his door. I was going to—”
“Let him know you changed your mind. That you decided to spend the week with your family. If he has any kind of appreciation for family, he’ll understand.”
Perfect timing. And it’s a perfect excuse.
Niall looked back at the door.
You can call him later and explain that your parents called, that your mom guilted you into staying with them for Christmas. It’s not even a lie.
“You should be with your family for Christmas,” his mom went on, as relentless as she’d been every time she’d called over the past three weeks. “We never get to see you anymore—”
“I see you every Sunday for dinner,” Niall said.
Don’t snap at your mother.
“And Molly’s going to be in town. You can go to the movies or something.”
“Mom, I’m not going to the movies with Molly. We’re both nearly thirty, not sixteen, and I’m gay.”
“Don’t be silly, sweetie, you always had a girlfriend in high school.”
“And I always had a boyfriend in college. I know you think it’s a phase—”
“You can explain it all to me when you come over. You have to go somewhere since you had that pipe break. You really should have demanded that they get it fixed before Christmas.”
“Like I told you yesterday,” Niall said, fighting to keep his voice low, “I’m going to spend the week with Josh.”
His mom went quiet. Niall could practically hear the wheels turning. “Is he the thirty-five year old accountant?”
“No, he’s the twenty-six year old social worker.”
“That you’ve only known for a few weeks.” She couldn’t seem to remember that he was gay, but she sure could steel-trap the inconvenient details. “I’ve made up the guest room. It’s all ready for you.”
“Josh has a guest room.”
“You’d rather spend Christmas in a stranger’s guest room than with your own family?”
Oh, dear God. Niall banged the edge of the phone against his head a few times before saying, “Hey, hi, Josh! Mom, I gotta go, love you, bye!” He ended the call and shook his head.
You lied to your mother.
Josh might open the door. Any second now.
But he didn’t.
Niall banged the phone against his head once more as he walked slowly back to Josh’s door. Maybe he should start therapy. There had to be some professional who specialized in guilt removal, Catholic or otherwise. But before he could think about entering therapy, he had to decide if he was going to enter Josh’s apartment.
To celebrate the release of Have a Hygge Holiday, I’ll be giving away a $10 gift certificate from Dreamspinner Press. For a chance to win, please leave a comment below, telling me about the hygge you do every year, or the hygge you’d like to do sometime in the future. For my own house, I aspire to the description of Josh’s apartment in all its hygge glory, but first I’d need to clean and unclutter**. So it’s going to be a long road.
In your comment, please make sure to include the email address you have registered with Dreamspinner Press. The drawing will take place 72 hours after this post goes up.
You can find me using one of these methods:
Thanks for reading!
* Dreamspinner Press editors do take me to task over how much I use “but” in my writing. I’ve had to perform many a butectomy during editing…..
** For help uncluttering, I recommend Unfuck Your Habitat [link: http://unfuckyourhabitat.tumblr.com/]. If I went to that tumblr every day, my house might be hygge-ready by Halloween.
Check out Have a Hygge Holiday today!
Niall is having second thoughts about spending the holidays with Josh. If Josh’s sweet nature masks the fact that he’s a spineless pushover, Niall doesn’t want a long-term relationship with him. Guilt—an annoying voice in his head—agrees, telling him to end it before Josh gets hurt. But then Niall sees how Josh has turned his apartment into a cozy, inviting nest for winter, based on the Scandinavian tradition of hygge: curling up with good food, candles, music, hot drinks, family, and friends.
Niall decides to stay, telling himself he’ll discover the real Josh when the two of them are together for a week, but two become four when Niall’s Christmas-crazy parents show up on Josh’s doorstep, and four become five when Josh’s father arrives to celebrate the last night of Hanukkah. The two sets of parents clash over decorations, food, and public displays of affection. Their bickering drives Niall crazy, as does Josh’s calm acceptance. If something doesn’t change, Niall will walk away from all of it, including his future with Josh.
July 23, 2016
T.J. Masters stops by today to chat about new book Diary Dates and how the story came to be.
This Saturday sees the release of my latest story Diary Dates by Dreamspinner Press. The story centres upon postgraduate student Andrew Chin who arrives in London not only to study, but to explore life away from his traditional family in Singapore. His adventure begins at the airport, where he finds the diary of a wealthy British businessman and endeavors to return it.
James Howard is twice Andrew’s age, and he’s not used to selfless youngsters. Despite a rocky first meeting, the two develop an unlikely friendship as James introduces Andrew to the city. James is looking forward to the festivities leading up to Christmas in London and maybe a celebration with Andrew. But will a nasty bout of the flu ruin their romantic holiday?
Not if Andrew has anything to say about it.
Reading some of the things that editors and proofreaders have said about this tale I’ve been made aware of how the writer has to bring so many strands, so many different coloured threads together to create the final picture. The idea for the story came from a close friend who happens to be Malaysian. The ‘hook’ of the diary came from my own interest in all kinds of diaries, journals, logbooks, daybooks and Commonplace books. The setting of the London Christmas season is one which excites me every year and I cannot let the season pass without a visit to see the lights.
The May to September relationship is one which I am personally qualified to write about and even the characterisation of Young Andrew comes from personal experience. The student is based almost entirely on a real Singaporean Chinese student who travelled to London a few years ago to study for his Masters degree. The real Andrew and the fictional one share many common traits and I am all the better for having met him. While he was here Andrew visited on most Saturdays and I came to admire his impeccable good manners and learned a lot about Chinese culture and tradition. One of the key virtues of Chinese culture is filial piety. This has its origins in Confucian philosophy and is the virtue of respect for one’s parents, elders and ancestors known a xiáo.
There was a strange twist to one of those threads after the story had been completed. My real life Andrew had to cut short his studies following the sudden death of his mother back home and I was sad to see him go. After the final edits were done and the story was ready for publication I suddenly had a call from Andrew. After three years away he had returned to London to do a presentation which would allow him to achieve his degree. We met and had a great reunion. He was touched that I had written him into the story and he thoroughly approved of his alter ego.
Have you ever experienced a complete stranger coming into your life for a short time and leaving you changed in some way? If so I would love to hear about it.
Andrew remembered the diary. Eager to get it back to its owner, he called the number he’d found in the book, but it went to voice mail.
A well-spoken masculine voice confirmed that it was the phone of James Howard. Suddenly feeling self-conscious, Andrew hung up while he decided what he was going to say. In the end he left a simple message telling Mr. Howard that he had found his diary at the airport and wanted to return it as soon as possible.
Jenny suggested they go out, so they left everything and ventured out into the busy London streets. After walking around, taking in the sights, they grabbed a sandwich for lunch from a coffee shop. Just as they were trying to decide where to try next, Andrew’s phone rang and he recognized the number on the screen as the same one that he had dialed earlier. Feeling a little nervous, Andrew answered. “Hello?”
“Hello, yes. You left a message earlier about my diary.” The man sounded business-like.
“Oh, yes, I think you left it at the airport. How can I bring it to you?”
“Thank you for calling me. My whole life is in that book. I will pay you a finder’s fee, of course. Can you bring it to me at my office?”
“I’m sorry, what is a finder’s fee?” Andrew had never heard the term before.
“I will pay you a reward for bringing the diary to me.” The man sounded a little impatient.
“Ah, no, Mr. Howard, I do not want any reward. Just to give your book back to you.” Such a thing had never occurred to Andrew, and it was certainly not what he intended. “I have only come to London today, but if you can tell me where to come so I will bring the diary to you.”
“My office is near Euston Station. Can you come there?”
Andrew remembered the name from the journey earlier. “Yes, I think that is not far. When can I come there?” He hoped that the man would not say now, because Andrew needed to go back to the flat to collect the diary first.
“I’ve got meetings this afternoon. Can you come at five o’clock?”
“I’ll text you the address. When you come to reception tell them who you are. They’ll be expecting you.”
“Okay, Mr. Howard. I’ll go there at five o’clock.”
For a moment Andrew thought the man was going to hang up without saying anything more, but then he suddenly asked, “Can you tell me your name?”
“Oh, sorry, sir. My name is Andrew, Andrew Chin.”
“Yes sir, I arrived from Singapore today.”
“Okay, Andrew, I must go. Thanks for contacting me.”
“No problem, Mr. Howard.”
The man at the other end had already hung up. Andrew, in his usual kind way, assumed that the man’s abrupt manner on the phone was just because he was a busy, important person.
Andrew told Jenny what was going on, but she said she couldn’t go with him because she was having a tryout for a waitressing job later. A text from Mr. Howard provided Andrew the address of his office. After looking it up, he decided that he could make his way there on his own.
They wandered the streets for another couple of hours and then went back to the flat so that Jenny could get ready for work. While he was waiting, Andrew looked up James Howard’s company on the Internet. It was a world leader in technical ceramics and Mr. Howard was the company’s CEO.
Jenny had warned him that he would arrive at his destination far too early if he left just after four, but he was nervous about being late. So it was that just half an hour later he arrived at the address and found himself in front of a modern office building.
He still had another twenty minutes to wait for the appointed time. Not wanting to be seen yet, he carried on walking until he reached the end of the road, where a low wall marked the boundary of another building set back a little from the road. Sitting himself down on the wall, Andrew took off his rucksack and removed Mr. Howard’s diary in its protective plastic bag.
Beyond the initial search for the owner’s details, Andrew had left the book unopened. Once he had realized that the book was a diary, it became a private thing. Now, however, the thought that the diary was about to pass out of his hands again nudged Andrew to take a look at it. If nothing else, he wanted to see whether the diary would give him any clues about the man he was about to meet.
The thick band holding the book closed was essential, since it held so many loose bits of paper and business cards between its pages. Removing this carefully, Andrew ran his slender fingers over the spine and cover. The black surface felt almost like fine leather, although it was too thin to be real. All the entries in the diary were neatly written, probably with an ink pen. This idea seemed a bit old-fashioned, but at the same time quite stylish. The multiple appointments on almost every page showed that this James Howard was indeed a busy man.
One of the most telling things was the odd pages, which were full of doodles. These were either geometric patterns or tiny drawings, but all quite neat. Maybe some of those meetings were not so interesting.
Another curious observation was that there was little difference between some of the weekend pages and those for the weekdays. Did this man never take a day off?
Check out Diary Dates today!
Author T.J. Masters recently and somewhat reluctantly passed his 60th birthday. After a long and happy teaching career T.J. wanted to follow a new path before senility set in. Books and stories have been a lifelong passion and there are many tales waiting to be told.
As a happily partnered gay man T.J. chooses to write what he knows best. His overactive and ever exploring mind is probably described by the Oscar Wilde quote that “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars”.
July 21, 2016
Hi, I’m Louise Lyons, and I’m here to talk about my new release, Cervena. This is my third novel with Dreamspinner Press and I’m very excited about its release.
I wrote the story around the middle of 2015. I’d be looking through some old photographs of a trip I took to Prague in around 2003, and as I was remembering the city and the things I saw, an idea for a new story started to form in my head. Prague is an interesting city and I wandered away from the typical tourist areas one afternoon, to see how the real people lived, which gave me the opportunity to see different “Districts” of the city.
Most of Cervena revolves around the city center where Joel lives and works. Cervena (Czech for “red”) is the name of the nightclub Joel jointly owns with business partner Karel Doubrava, although Joel’s journey takes him out of the main part of the city later on, and eventually to London where his family live.
Within a few hours of starting to make notes, I had an outline for a whole book, and started noting down key events. I was in the middle of writing something else at the time, and Cervena was insistent that I hurry and finish it, so I could start on this new story. I quickly finished the novella I was working on, and put another novel on the backburner so I could get down to it.
My main character, Joel Jones, and his love interest Sasha grew in my mind until they seemed like real people, and I couldn’t get the words down fast enough. Joel is in his thirties, a real good guy and gentle soul, although he can step up to the plate when he has to, much as he prefers to avoid confrontation if he can. He resists his attraction to Sasha for some time, concerned about their fourteen-year age difference and his worry that Sasha might accept a date with him out of gratitude, after Joel took him off the streets and gave him a job and a home. But eventually Joel gives in and blurts out his thoughts on how he’d like them to have dinner together. It’s not all sweetness and love from there on, however.
The story has a lot more drama and angst in it than most of my published works, with events threatening to tear Joel and Sasha apart several times. So do they get a happy ending? Of course they do! As much as a tormented them along the way, I wanted them to end up happy.
I finished writing Cervena towards the end of last year and once it was submitted, of course I had lots more to work on.
Since then I’ve released several novellas and written a couple of short stories for anthologies. Right now I’m working on a new novel with a paranormal theme to it, which is new to me. I was actually inspired to write it more than a year ago and had made notes and written a few pages, but at the time it wasn’t going that well and I put it aside and wrote Cervena instead. So now I plan to finish it and have completed four chapters so far.
The Power of Will is set in my favorite place in the world—Keswick in Cumbria, UK. My main character, Tyler Marsden, has broken up with boyfriend Pete and moved to a new town to get away from the memories. He finds a tumbledown cottage which he plans to renovate after moving in and starts up his handyman business again, which quickly begins to do well. He soon finds a friend in disabled neighbour, Jonathan, another gay man. The pair confide in each other and become close, but there’s no romance there. The romance in Tyler’s life comes from another direction entirely.
A few strange things happen in the cottage, which Tyler initially ignores. But he’s led into the cellar where he finds a journal written a century ago, by one William Bartlett. Curious, he begins to read the journal and his heart aches for the young gay man who hid what he was for so long, until he fell in love and was unable to keep his budding relationship quiet. Shunned by everyone, including his lover, he was eventually unable to go on living. The journal is filled with his memories and the last year of his life.
As Tyler reads his story, his previous scoffing at the supernatural is forgotten as he becomes convinced William isn’t just a memory, but something more.
I won’t give away any more than that, but I’m excited about this new work, and intending to finish and submit it in the next few months. Watch this space!
And now for a Giveaway! I’m offering up an eBook of anything from my backlist to one lucky commentor on the post. As I said earlier, I visited Prague some years ago, which eventually gave me the idea to write my new novel. To be in with a chance to win, tell me about a city or country you’ve visited that holds a special place in your heart.
How to find me. If you haven’t looked me up on social media before and want to chat or follow what I’m doing, you’ll find me here:
Check out Cervena today!
When Joel Jones finds homeless Russian Sasha outside his gay nightclub in Prague, he cannot find it in his heart to turn him away, so he offers him a home and a job as a dancer and stripper.
Despite a fifteen-year age gap, romance develops between them but is interrupted when Joel has to return to England for many weeks to deal with a death in the family.
Upon his return, Joel is horrified to discover his business partner, Karel, has gambled away the club’s money and put them all at risk. Joel buys him out of the club, but when Karel continues to gamble, the people he owes pursue Joel for the debt instead—and they’ll stop at nothing to get paid.
Suddenly Joel and those he cares about—especially Sasha—are in danger, and Joel finds himself with no choice but to seek the help of known criminal, Vincenc Jankovic. Ensuring a happy future for himself and Sasha will mean a struggle and some difficult decisions, but Joel is determined to protect what they’ve built together.
July 19, 2016
Leigh Carman joins us today to talk about her new sports romance, Match Point.
Hello fellow Dreamspinner lovers! I’m Leigh Carman and I’m so excited for the release of Match Point, my sports romance with Dreamspinner Press. This is my first release with DSP, and it’s been nothing less than incredible. I am literally still in shock and awe that my book will be alongside some of my favorite gay romance authors. If there’s one thing a reader knows when purchasing a Dreamspinner book, it’s that you will get nothing but the best.
So why would a girl want to write gay romance? I’m sure everyone asks this at one time or another. I hear the question all the time from friends, family, and readers of my M/F romance. Well, I’m not sure if there’s a single answer to that question. Don’t get me wrong, I love my M/F romance, but there’s something about M/M romance that gives me, as an author, an extra layer to my characters that I can work with. The relationship between two men is obviously much different from that of a man and a woman, and I’m not speaking sexually. I love to explore the masculine side of romance. Even in my M/F books I’ve been told my male characters sound like they’ve been written by men.
Maybe it’s because I’ve never been a gushy, flowery, girly girl and I don’t like reading about men waxing poetic about their beautiful delicate woman. Maybe it’s because I’m a total dude when it comes to romance, no flowers, no jewelry, and no gifts necessary to make me happy. I pretty much don’t even care if I get a card on an anniversary.
So, I don’t know specifically why I prefer writing gay romance. I do know that I don’t care for the story of a man swooping in to save the woman every single time. I guess you could say from a writer’s point of view, a relationship between two men is more balanced. No one has to be the hero. Or both can be the heroes. Or yes, it can be traditional and one of the men can be the hero. Any way you cut it, to me the story is more about the dynamic between the two men than the situations they’re placed in. Does that make sense?
I like to dig deep into the emotional side of men. We all know that most men are raised to hide their emotions from other people, so it takes quite a bit of work to get their feelings out of them. That’s what I love to do. Put the screws to my guys and tighten them until they have no choice but to acknowledge what they’re feeling. Get them to face their fears, question their masculinity, and delve into the fear of losing their masculinity if they show any emotions whatsoever.
That kind of makes me sound like an evil scientist, doesn’t it? But in truth, that’s what writers are. We create characters we love only to hurt them, drown them, wring them out, and see what we’re left with at the end. Hopefully, they are made stronger, better, more real after their journey.
Match Point is a pretty emotional journey, and a study in two men who finally acknowledge that their self-destructive behaviors stem directly from feelings they’ve ignored for too long. I hope you love Dex and Finn, I know I certainly do.
Currently, I’m working on three more sports romances to complement Match Point. One sport for each of the four seasons. Beach volleyball is summer, football is autumn, hockey for winter, and baseball for spring. There are characters who appear in the book prior to their own, so keep your eyes out for anyone in Match Point who might have a story to tell.
Here’s a peek…
“Get it. Get it. Hurry, hurry!”
I scramble for the ball while Coach yells out encouragements—or possibly reprimands. I can never be sure which. Either way I’m on top of my game today. I hustle to the net, get under the ball, and bump it with my wrists, arcing it high for Dex.
Dex waits for it to come down and lifts it using his fingertips. As the ball goes in the air, I take a running jump, curve my body so it doesn’t touch any part of the net, and smack the ball over our opponent’s head. It hits the sand.
“Yes,” Dex shouts and holds up a hand for me to high-five. Grinning, I reach out and slap my hand into his. Dex holds on to it for a brief moment. The contact is quick—less than a second—but the heat that sears through my palm leaves a lasting impression. It’s time to switch sides and it’s my turn to serve. Dex puts his hands behind his back and gives me the signal to hit it left with no spin. I toss the ball up and hit it over the net.
Beautiful. Our opponent drops to his knees and makes the save, but he can’t get to his position quickly enough to reach the ball his partner perfectly sets for him. Dex cheers and pumps his fist in the air. I grin at his enthusiasm. Watching Dexter Savage have the time of his life is mesmerizing. It infuses me with an energy I’ve never felt before. I no longer see Dex as just another charming guy. He has me spellbound and hanging on his every word.
“Nice whiff, dickhead,” I call out when he misses a dig and comes up with a mouthful of sand.
I can’t have him thinking I like him or something.
Dex laughs and spits out the sand. “Shut up, Callahan.”
By the end of the day, we should be exhausted, but we’re riding high on winning the New Orleans Open, and on the thirty-minute ride back to the hotel on the river, we both get our second wind. Dex is literally bouncing around. He’s so full of energy, he’s making me dizzy.
“Come on, Finn. Let’s go out to celebrate. This is New Orleans, The Big Easy. There’s sin on every corner and a ton of awesome clubs here.”
I roll my eyes. “I doubt your idea of an awesome club is the same as mine, Savage.”
“What?” Dex squints at me. Then his eyes widen almost comically. “Oooooohhh. You don’t think I can handle a gay club?” A slow, snarky grin spreads across his handsome face, and my breath hitches.
I shake off my dirty thoughts to get back to the subject at hand. “No. I don’t. God. I can’t even think about you going into a gay club without laughing.”
Or getting hard and groaning.
“Hmph.” Dex levels his intense hazel eyes at me and quirks one eyebrow in challenge.
“Yes, Finn,” he sings gleefully.
Dex chuckles and nods his head. “Oh yes. Pull out your sparkly top, baby, because we’re hitting the gay clubs tonight.”
“Fuck you, Savage. I don’t own a sparkly top.”
Dex gives me a disgusted look. “What kind of gay man are you?”
“Not a very good one, I guess.”
One who crushes on his straight teammate, that’s what kind of gay man I am. A stupid one.
After five minutes of back and forth, I finally get Dex to let go of the idea of cruising gay clubs tonight, but only on the promise that I’ll take him to one when we get back to LA. I’m hoping he’ll forget by then, because seeing his gorgeous ass shaking on a dance floor while hot, sweaty guys grind on him? I’d implode before the night was over.
We change and grab a cab, and Dex directs the driver to head toward Bourbon Street. “Really, Dex? Bourbon Street? Can’t we go somewhere a little less—”
“Less fun? No, Callahan, we can’t. You’re having fun if it kills me. Tonight I’m officially removing the stick from your ass….” Dex twists his head and shoots me a scorching look that has my dick throbbing painfully in my shorts. “Even if I have to pin you down to yank it out.”
I swallow, and my mouth suddenly disconnects from my brain as every drop of blood in my body turns to lava and collects in my groin.
“Whatever, Savage,” I mumble, turn to the window, and shift my hips so Dex can’t see my now fully hard cock.
Dex laughs and shoves my shoulder. Does he not know what he’s doing to me? I sneak a glance at my teammate. He’s looking out his own window, eyes glittering, smile as wide as a kid on Christmas morning.
No. He has no clue. He’s truly excited to go out and have fun. In fact he’s practically bursting out of his skin, he’s so wound up. But then, Dexter Savage always was the life of the party. He’s comfortable in his own skin. It’s what makes him so attractive. Well, besides the tousled, just out of bed hair, the perfectly straight nose and full mouth, and the body to die for. But his outgoing personality was what had me crushing on him in college—and the reason I hated his guts. I watched him every day at practice as he charmed everyone around us, and knew he would never be available to me.
“Here it is.” Dex throws some money at the cab driver and leaps out of the car. I take a look at my surroundings and thump my head on the glass. We’re on a street thick with pedestrians clutching hurricane glasses and sipping through long straws as they mingle in the crowd. Neon signs line the business fronts on both sides of the cab, each promising a different kind of debauchery inside.
Dex leans down and sticks his head in the backseat. “What are you waiting for, Callahan? Let’s get this party started.”
Ugh. Tonight is going to be pure torture.
Check out Match Point today!
Two stubborn men.
One is a rude jerk. The other, the life of the party.
It was hate at first sight.
Pro beach volleyball players Finn Callahan and Dexter Savage have been rivals since college. While Finn always comes out on top on the court, Dexter’s carefree and fun-loving personality earns him scores of adoring men and women. And as much as Finn fights to deny it, there’s another reason for the tension he feels when Dex is around. Hate wasn’t the only thing he felt when he first laid eyes on his opponent.
When they’re forced to team up, the two men must bury their differences—on and off the court—if either of them is going to succeed professionally.
Leigh Carman is the pen name for the M/M romances written by bestselling Contemporary romance writer, Heather C. Leigh.
She lives outside Atlanta with her husband, 2 kids, and French bulldog.
She is leaving explicit directions in her will for her friends to discreetly scatter her ashes around Fenway Park. Then they are to sit back, watch a game with a beer and a Fenway frank and have a wicked good time.
July 15, 2016
Hang out with Z. Allora today as she stops by to chat about new book Lock and Key!
I want to thank Dreamspinner Press for publishing Lock and Key and for hosting me here today.
If you’re one of my Facebook Pretties you’re aware I over share. Bucking the binary, worshipping the edges, sharing my truth and licking the fringes just to see what it tastes like… it’s what I do. This post is no different.
Let’s jump right in. Most of my stories are kissed by BDSM but I finally wrote an official BDSM story that is being released today: Lock and Key.
Why did I write a BDSM? Lots of reasons, but the biggest was I want everyone’s expression of their BDSM dreams validated no matter where they fall on the BDSM spectrum. (Not everyone fits into the standard boxes society has set for us.) And I wanted to explore aspects of this complex and fabulous practice/lifestyle/way of living not always written about in romance.
When I was four, I realized I was different. (Yes, age 4) Everything and anything vaguely relating to ropes, paddles, or control had my complete attention. Certain words caused an earthquake of confusion in me (and later on… need).
However, you’re taught early on that you aren’t supposed to yearn for those things. You learn to hide how you’re wired or face censure. Though I couldn’t deny myself peeks at the books that should have been on higher shelves in the library. Nor could I stop myself from hoping for a glimpse of BDSM on TV or in the movies. I longed for something I didn’t understand. Nonetheless, it had a huge influence over what I wanted and who I was…
If you’re lucky you find an amazing partner to discover the different facets of BDSM with, but if not, you may be desperate enough to ignore the difference between abuse and BDSM. I can tell you from experience, wait to find someone worthy who you can explore your needs with in a safe place. The other leads to places you don’t want to go.
It’s my hope that with the current attention being given to the practice of BDSM, people will educate themselves and find what works for them. Maybe we can forego the shame that accompanies wanting something a bit different. I’d love if we could accept and not judge people (or ourselves) for what they (we) require to find happiness.
My love is my Master/Owner/life. We’ll be celebrating twenty-nine years together on October 20th. We dabbled in BDSM until a turn of events allowed me to stop work so I could be his devoted love slave. (BTW love slave doesn’t mean doormat.)
I tell you this not to claim expertise but to share who I am with you. By stepping out of the shadows, I’ve found it allows others to feel safe and less alone. A number of my Facebook Pretties have honored me by admitting they are into or would like to be into BDSM. The exploration of BDSM can be a beautiful and rewarding experience.
In many ways writing Lock and Key was a stroll down memory lane. I had to dig deep to a long time ago when BDSM was shiny and new for me. The main character, Zack Davis is only 18 years old in chapter one. So I pulled from my memories the mind-blowing excitement of what it is like to visit a BDSM club for the very first time and allowed it to be his. The terror and absolute joy being in a place where you can explore what you’ve craved for years.
Lock and Key revolves around Entwined, the luxury BDSM dungeon of my dreams. The club is an affirming haven, where like-minded people gather to learn and grow within the lifestyle of BDSM.
I enjoyed sharing the surprise, disappointment, and excitement I had in finding out the practice of BDSM isn’t always what I thought it would be. Sometimes your BDSM dreams idealize the practice to a perfection that rarely exists and other times your imagination doesn’t even come close to the magic you can experience.
Lock and Key is about Zack Davis discovering who he is and how he wants to express it. Life isn’t a straight line and you might find elation in places you never expected. Find your joy and don’t let anyone invalidate you. Whether you’re into BDSM or not, I wish you love, happiness and romance always!
In celebration of Lock and Key, I’m doing a giveaway. You have a chance to win a $15 Dreamspinner Press gift card. Since I over share I encourage you do the same. Enter the contest by sharing your favorite type of BDSM activity to read.
Check out Lock and Key today!
Rejected. Heartbroken. Devastated.
Zack Davis wanted to serve only one man, Andrew Nikeman. He was denied because Andrew thought he was too young and because their brothers were together. So Zack crushed his submissive tendencies and focused on being the perfect Dom, giving every sub he played with something he couldn’t have.
After years of denying his submissive side, Entwined’s charity auction “Are you Dom Enough to be a sub?” gives Zack an excuse to get a little of what he’s always craved.
Andrew doesn’t know when his infatuation turned into more, but it kills him to see Zack with a constant parade of submissives. He’d refused to jeopardize his brother’s relationship or become Zack’s regret; however, Zack isn’t a kid anymore, and his brother’s relationship is unbreakable. Now Zack’s popularity and success as a Dom might ruin Andrew’s dreams of collaring him, but he can’t wait any longer to confess his feelings or he risks losing the man he loves forever.
Z. Allora believes in happily ever afters for everyone. She met her own true love through the personals and has traveled to over thirty countries with him. She’s lived in Singapore, Israel, and China. Now back home in the USA, she’s an active member of PFLAG and a strong supporter of those on the rainbow in her community. She wants to promote understanding and acceptance through her actions and words. Writing rainbow romance allows her words to open hearts and change minds.
July 13, 2016
Kate McMurray joins us today to chat about tropes and her new book
The Greek Tycoon’s Green Card Groom, out July 15!
I have a large and varied collection of old category romance novels. They’re one of my not-so-guilty pleasures. My favorites are the ones that take a well-worn trope—a secret baby, say, or a hero with amnesia—and do something fun and different with them. Category romances, for the uninitiated, are the short novels, most published by Harlequin these days, with titles like The Billionaire Boss’s Secret Mistress and The Royal Baby Scandal. (I made those up, but it would not surprise me if these are actual books.) They are trope-tastic, populated by wealthy, dominant men, set in exotic locations, and always end with true love.
I have no idea where my love for these books comes from. A lot of romance readers inherited their love for the genre from their mother. (Indeed, a good chunk of my collection came from a friend who passed along a bunch of category romances form the seventies and eighties that she got from her mother.) My mother would never deign to pick up a romance novel. I snuck a few romance novels into my bedroom when I was a teenager, because I’ve always enjoyed love stories and books about relationships, but I began reading these in earnest as an adult. And now I have hundreds of them.
When I first decided to write a book for the Dreamspun Desires line, I figured I’d start with some familiar tropes to anyone who is a category fan. So we’ve got a Greek tycoon, or in my case, a New York City real estate magnate of Greek descent. I set him up with a marriage of convenience, or in this case, a mutually advantageous green card marriage with a Czech immigrant. And then I decided to flip everything on its head.
That both protagonists are men is just the first twist. I wanted to play with the Greek tycoon trope. In most category romances, the tycoon is a dominant alpha male. So I thought, what if my tycoon is gruff on the outside but a totally softy on the inside. And what if he were broke? Enter the immigrant husband, who just wants to stay in the States, and who also has enough money to bail out our tycoon hero.
Thus The Greek Tycoon’s Green Card Groom. Archie, the Greek tycoon, and Ondrej, recently arrived in New York, make an arrangement in a board room, a marriage that begins as not much more than a financial transaction, but then they start to actually fall for each other. That’s when things start getting interesting.
Check out The Greek Tycoon’s Green Card Groom today!
Marriage gets less convenient when love is involved.
It started simple: Ondrej Kovac marries Archie Katsaros so Ondrej can stay in the US, away from his judgmental family in eastern Europe. Archie marries Ondrej in exchange for the money to bail out his failing company. It’s a fraud neither man is convinced he can pull off.
But as Archie introduces Ondrej to New York society and Ondrej proves his skill in the office, they start to discover a connection between them. Can they overcome the rocky foundation their relationship was built on, meddling immigration agents, gossip columnists determined to out their deception, and an aggressive executive set on selling Archie’s company out from under him? Only if they can prove to each other their love is worth fighting for.
Kate McMurray is an award-winning romance author and an unabashed romance fan. When she’s not writing, she works as a nonfiction editor, dabbles in various crafts, and is maybe a tiny bit obsessed with baseball. She has served as President of Rainbow Romance Writers and is currently the president of the New York City chapter of RWA. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.
July 6, 2016
Hi all! I’m Charlie David and I’m happy to stop by here at the Dreamspinner Press blog. It’s been such an exciting Spring for me as I’ve had my books published by Dreamspinner Press – first Mulligans, Shadowlands and now Boy Midflight.
Boy Midflight is largely constructed from my teenage journals. The inherent nerves, fragility, and occasional brazenness embodied in the main character of Ashley are all aspects of me as a teenager. This is a coming out story set in the 1990s and it’s fun to reflect on what has stayed timeless in the teenage experience and how other things have progressed at lightning speed. The biggest change of course is technology and how it’s affected so many parts of our lives – for better or worse.
In the 90’s as a kid who felt different it was a monumental challenge to find a community to gel with. Internet chat rooms existed of course but geo-location based apps did not. This meant that even if you were lucky enough to forge a connection in an AOL or Yahoo chat room – it was more likely than not that your cyber person of interest was geographically far from you. As a teenager even if they were in the same state – it may as well have been on Mars.
Due to this isolation, sexual experiences and loss of queer virginity did not generally happen in hyper-speed as they do with many young people today. Reflecting on how I met my first boyfriends in the 90’s and the path of how our relationships blossomed in a more organic and in some ways traditional way left me feeling nostalgic. Meeting guys who liked to kiss guys was certainly not as easy as it is today but somewhere in that greater challenge lived a little magic.
The hero of Boy Midflight is Ashley. He’s a teen in his first year of college on Canada’s West Coast. He has a crush on Jared Leto, Sun-In bleached hair, is brimming with teen angst and prays to Antonio Sabato Jr. Ashley is unabashedly himself, ravenous to experience the world and all its wonders.
I wrote Boy Midflight when I was eighteen and so there’s a lot of humor in the naivety of the main character Ashley. We were both still figuring a lot of things out and could easily be distracted by a copy of Teen Beat, especially if Jarod Leto graced the cover. I mean seriously how beautiful is Jarod Leto? Remember him leaned up against a locker with ripped jeans and a flannel tied carelessly around his waist in My So Called Life? I would have done almost anything to take Claire Danes’ place so I could see what kissing him would be like. The man is simply so pretty it hurts. I’m so sorry, it happened again… I got distracted.
If you enjoy a main character who is quirky, ambitious and in love with
falling in love – then Boy Midflight might just put a smile on your face.
I’ll leave you with a question – please answer in the comments section below. I’ll do a random draw from those who comment and share this post on their social (Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Pinterest, etc.). The winner will receive a free rental of their choice from any of my movies or TV shows on http://border2border.ca
What ‘90’s celebrity had the power to dissolve your panties or jockstrap?
At eighteen, Ashley seems to have everything: looks, talent, and even a girlfriend. What more could a young man want? Yet something is missing, and he has to come to terms with his sexuality and the possible implications for his career in the public eye. He begins dating Chris but isn’t sure he’s head over heels in love. It’s not the knight-in-shining-armor feeling he always imagined.
When Ashley is offered a big modeling job, he leaves his university in small-town Canada for a very different life in sunny Los Angeles, California. There he meets a slightly older man who makes him feel like he’s in a storybook romance. But is Ashley ready for real love, or is it just infatuation? The world is spread out before him, at once limitless and daunting, full of endless possibilities one moment and opportunities cut short the next.
Ashley floats between certainty and confusion as he tries to unravel new feelings, deal with past pain, and decide what he wants from life—and who he wants beside him during the journey.
Dreamspinner Press: http://bit.ly/28J7sYx
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/28Ji9gh
All Romance: http://bit.ly/28JxLRP
BOY MIDFLIGHT EXCERPT
“Which side do you want?” Mikal asks.
“Which side of what?”
“Which side of the bed do you want? Do you have a preference?”
Oh my Antonio Sabato Jr.! This room only has one bed! Why does this room only have one bed? Who thought of this? Were Ferni, Mikal, and I all going to sleep in one bed? Why didn’t I notice that before?
“Umm… I can just sleep on the couch here. You take the bed, Mikal.”
“You’re not sleeping on this thing. It’s not even a couch, it’s a love seat. You’ll wake up needing a chiropractor.”
We’ve been sitting on a love seat?
“Okay, well, I guess the left side is great, closest to the window,” I say. So I can fly out and escape to Neverland in the middle of the night.
I walk to the bathroom and close the door. I grab my toothbrush and start to vigorously clean. Always too aggressive, my dentist says. Use a softer brush. I hate soft brushes. I lean against the sink and stare into the mirror. Am I falling in love with him? You already have. That’s not a question. I wash my face and hum nervously into the splashing water. Something from Sondheim’s Into the Woods. Get over it, Ashley. He’s not that spectacular. I mean he’s eight years older than you. He was eighteen when I was ten. I was four when he was twelve. When I’m twenty-eight, he’ll be thirty-six. He’ll be able to tell me what forty is like and I’ll have eight years to prepare. I’ll be eighty and he’ll be eighty-eight. It probably doesn’t matter anymore by then. Except when you reach one hundred, then it’s like a celebration. And he could celebrate for eight years until I start. When you’re ninety you’re just old but making it to one hundred is like, wow, that’s something to really talk about. Okay, but right now I am eighteen and Mikal is twenty-six, with a little boy. I’m a boy. Seriously, I am still a boy. He’s a man. A full-grown man. Totally. He looks like a man. Full on man muscles, man chiseled face, man voice. I think I’m a man, but I’m still in man/boy stage. What if I grow into my full-on man stage and he doesn’t like it? What if Mikal only likes me because I am man/boy? I can’t stay man/boy forever. No matter what I do. Can I? I don’t know what will change, but things will. Older people are always saying things don’t stay the same.
Oh my Antonio! I am getting older right now! I can see it in the mirror. If I look really closely, I can actually see the skin around my eyes starting to pucker. And my jaw is widening. Did I just spring a hair on my chest? Shit. I’m going to go out there and Mikal will say, “What the hell happened to you? You were hot when you were man/boy. Now, not so much.”
Hold it! Okay. Attention! We need to figure out what is going on—right now. Organize the facts.
Fact: to the best of our knowledge, I am dating Chris.
Fact: I have not seen or spoke to Chris for over two weeks.
Fact: Mikal has stated definite interest in our territory.
Fact: Mikal is super hot.
Fact: Mikal is genuinely loving, even as I hold him at arm’s length.
Question from the council: Were you in love with Chris, or in love with the idea of being in love?
Question from the council: We’ve seen pie charts, addendums and illustrated diagrams of your ideal mate. Mikal fits all listed descriptions. Is he what you call the One?
“Ashley, you okay, buddy? I got you some water here.”
“Be right out.”
I open the door and step into the warmth of the hotel room. The window, closest to my side of the bed, is open and the wind is rustling through the palm trees. The lights are all out but one, on the nightstand on my side of the bed. Mikal is already under the covers. Shirt off, one arm crooked behind his head. He smiles. “I built a Wall of China for us.”
“A what?” I ask.
“A Wall of China. I folded a blanket up and placed it under the covers between us. I thought it might make you sleep easier.”
“Mikal, I’m not worried about you. I appreciate the gesture though.” I pull off my shirt and unbutton my jeans. After tossing them on the love seat, I crawl into the left side of the bed. I laugh as I feel the Wall of China on my arm and leg. “Good night, Mikal,” I say, turning out the light.
“Good night, Ashley.”
I lay in the dark stillness and try to control my breathing. I don’t want to sound like I’m sucking air. After all, this is the first time we’ve slept together. I mean, we’re not really sleeping together, but we’re in the same bed. He could be naked over there. I didn’t see a shirt. He may sleep in the buff. And I’m just in my skivvies over here. All that’s separating his skin from mine is the Wall of China. A formidable barrier, yes, but scalable. You are not scaling the Wall! You are staying right here and going to sleep.
I lay on my back with my head facing the window. The warm salty air spills over the windowsill in a stream of magical light. I think I can hear the ocean lapping the beach. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight…. I can see eight stars from here. A perfect night. I turn my head and rest my eyes on Mikal, his chest rhythmically rising and falling. The shadows play perfectly in the valley between his chest and the crook of his arm still tucked behind his head. What would it hurt if I just placed a hand on that chest?
I’d like to just hold his hand as we fall asleep. Would that be wrong? I could just tear away this stupid Wall of China and surrender. His lips, pink and slightly parted, his jaw slightly rough and unshaven. What a startling and beautiful contrast. I settle on Mikal’s eyes, those big green almonds that look on me with so much care and concern. Now closed with his impossibly long dark eyelashes minutely dancing on each other. Are a guy’s eyelashes allowed to be that long and full?
I’d give anything to feel those icicles forming on my spine again. To press against this god’s warmth, curling one hand around that bicep. Mikal, my angel. My guardian. “Good night, handsome,” I say and turn to the window, closing my eyes. Did I just say that out loud? I did.
Then whispered across the darkness: “Good night, beautiful.”
I smile and drift off to sleep. Tomorrow is bursting with promise….
About Charlie David
Charlie has been a host for E! Television, NBC, OutTV, LOGO, here! TV, Pink TV, EGO, Fine Living and Slice Networks on such shows as FYE!, SpyTV, Crash Test Mommy and his travel series Bump which shot over 100 episodes around the world and garnered a Hugo Television award. He has appeared as musical guest on VH1, BBC, CBS’s The Early Show, and dozens of radio shows.
In 2005 Out Magazine recognized Charlie in the ‘Out 100’ at their gala in New York. In 2007 the Philadelphia Film Society awarded Charlie with their Rising Star Award. In 2008 the Festival del Sol in Gran Canaria awarded their Best Male Actor Award to Charlie and the male cast of A Four Letter Word. Formerly in a rock band… okay, actually it was a boy band, Charlie opened for Destiny’s Child, Pink, Snoop Dogg, Rick Springfield and Black Eyed Peas.
A love of storytelling led Charlie to start Border2Border Entertainment Inc., a production company whose film and television credits include Mulligans, Judas Kiss, I’m a Stripper (series), Studlebrity, Balls, I’m a Porn Star, I’m a Porn Star: Gay4Pay and Positive Youth. Border2Border Entertainment’s films have been licensed to Showtime, Super Channel, HBO Canada, MTV/LOGO, Sundance Channel, Discovery Networks, The Movie Network, Movie Central, Hollywood Suite, hereTV, Encore Avenue, and OutTV in North America as well as finding a worldwide audience through international distribution partners.
He is a graduate of the Canadian College of Performing Arts and his current passions include travel, encounters with wildlife, SCUBA diving, mosaic tiling and podcasts. He resides in Toronto and Montréal, Canada when he’s not living out of a suitcase.
You can explore Charlie’s films and TV shows on his website at http://border2border.ca or become a part of his social media network by visiting:
July 5, 2016
Ava Drake joins us today for a chat about new Dreamspun Desires Ace in the Hole and how she wrote her m/m novel.
Alpha heroes. Bulging muscles. Hot eyes. Dark souls. Darker fantasies. Oh my, somebody pass me a fan, will you?
I confess, I’ve published fifty or so M/F romances, and every last one of them features an Alpha male. (Capital A intentional.) I spent a decade in the military, and if I wasn’t already a fan of strong guys, I surely was by the end of those years. It was a natural step for me to eventually make the leap of logic…
…If one alpha guy in a book was hot, having TWO in a book would surely be hotter!
I may not be the smartest cookie in the jar, but I eventually figured it out, and Ace in the Hole was born.
When Dreamspinner Press approached me with the idea of writing a traditional category romance for their new Dreamspun Desires line, I was absolutely delighted. I have long believed that the world would be a better place if everyone, regardless of gender, race, religion, or identity, was free to love whoever we want however we want. A radical notion, I know. Call me a rebel.
As a cis-gender woman, I pondered doing deep research into gay relationships. I certainly have a number of gay friends, and my daughter is a nationally recognized LGBTQ+ rights activist. But then it dawned on me, why should I write anything different than I would if I were writing about a M/F relationship instead of a M/M relationship? Sure, the dynamic with two alpha males can get a little chippy, but any woman worth her salt can give as good as she gets in a relationship, too.
And so, I simply sat down and wrote a story I would enjoy reading. I’m not convinced the best end goal is for the world to be gender blind, or race blind or religion blind or any other prejudice blind. Perhaps the goal should be for us to truly see one another and be inclusive of everything that we are.
That being the case, I wrote a romance novel for Christian Brandeis and Stone Jackson pretty much exactly like I would write a story with M/F characters or F/F characters, or PPE/PPE characters (Purple People Eaters). I call it Love-inclusive romance fiction.
At the end of the day, the narrative of any romance novel is “Love conquers fill in the blank.” That’s not, M/F love conquers fill in the blank. Just love. That’s what Christian and Stone learn in Ace in the Hole, and it’s why I dared as a straight woman to write their story. It’s a message worth putting out there in the universe. And just maybe books of inclusive love will open a few more hearts and minds to the notion that every human being deserves to be loved and to have a chance at their own happy-ever-after. Here’s hoping you’ve already found yours!
Check out Ace in the Hole today!
Surveillance, seduction, and extra-dirty politics.
Christian Chatsworth-Brandeis has a problem. A huge one. The US senator he works for has run away with his latest mistress on the eve of a make-or-break fund-raising event, and it’s up to him to cover his boss’s irresponsible tracks.
Stone Jackson, the senator’s new bodyguard, looks enough like the senator that, with some extensive grooming, he might pass for Senator Lacey. Christian and Stone hatch a plan to fool everyone by substituting Stone for the senator, but Miami madness and the incendiary heat between them are throwing obstacles in their way. It’s a race to find the senator and pull off the con of the century before the attraction between them spins completely out of control.
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Ava Drake grew up in the heart of the rural Midwest but beat a hasty retreat to the big city and bright lights as fast as humanly possible. Armed with a pilot’s license, fluency in several languages, a large dose of daring, and her dashing good looks, she took off to travel the world. Eventually, she came home and settled down to write award-winning stories of romance and adventure, which may or may not be autobiographical.
June 30, 2016
Alice Archer joins us today to chat about the character that found her in new book Everyday History.
Welcome to the Everyday History blog tour. I send a big grin of thanks to Dreamspinner for including me here, and to Bree Archer for creating the perfect book cover for this story. In today’s tour stop, I’ll tell you how the story was unexpectedly hijacked.
Everyday History is about the chances we pass up, the magnetic force of true love, and how much we’re willing to do to deserve a second chance. The two main characters are Henry, a shy history teacher, and Ruben, a headstrong young man who is surprised by the force of his crush on his teacher. Henry is scrupulously responsible, however, so it’s not until after Ruben has graduated that Henry even acknowledges the chemistry between them.
Henry looks the way he does and has various traits because of a rogue postcard that reached out, took me by the throat, and wouldn’t let go.
About halfway through the process of writing Everyday History, I went into a bookstore and ran into Henry. That’s how it felt, anyway. I’d gone into town to do some errands, and Rombach, one of the big bookstores in downtown Freiburg, Germany, called to me, as always, so I went in to lose myself and find myself for a while. Happy and content, I flipped through a container of book-related postcards as I waited in the check-out line. I flipped to the next postcard and saw… Henry. Indisputably. Unequivocally. Remembering that moment still makes the hairs on my arms stand up.
You can take a look at the postcard – and Henry – online, here. It’s put out by Gutrath.com and the photo is by Ben Hupfer. I yanked the card out of the container, pawed through to find more of them, then straightened up and looked around. I wanted to grab someone – anyone – and make a scene, share the treasure I’d come across, tell them what it meant to me. But the people nearby were either wide-eyed tourists or close-faced Germans (they’re not being rude; they’re just private), I settled for hugging the postcards to my chest and grinning like a fiend.
I call the finding of this postcard of Henry a hijacking because until I found it – or it found me, which is more what it felt like – Henry wasn’t bald and he didn’t have deep blue eyes or ears that sort of stick out. Also, this postcard inspired the scene in the book where Ruben takes a surreptitious photo of Henry carrying a stack of books. With the postcard in my hand, I knew that a bunch of things in the overall story had to be (seriously, had to be) adjusted and revised and tweaked to make them more… true.
The other major story hijacking occurred because of James Morrison’s album The Awakening, which I listened to on automatic repeat for months as I wrote. I don’t think I listened to anything else during the writing of Everyday History. A friend of mine in a creative play group I belonged to showed me a music video online of Morrison singing a song from this album and I got hooked. I was deep into writing Everyday History by that time, and the album just seemed to fit the story. It complemented the themes and mirrored a lot of the emotions I was working with as I wrote. So I kept listening to it.
The Awakening hijacked Everyday History in ways that were more subtle and pervasive than the Henry postcard, because the album’s lyrics and the feelings they evoked circled in my brain and my heart as I finished and edited the story. I loved how I’d be sitting in my chair, staring into space, searching for a bit of inspiration in a scene that felt tricky, or stretching for a better word, and Morrison’s lyrics would deliver it. Right then, right when I needed it. It was spooky and perfect, over and over again. So I let him have his way with me, and kept listening.
Everyday History would be a different, less inspired, novel if it wasn’t for Ben Hupfer’s photo or James Morrison’s album. I can’t thank them enough for taking over my process and capturing my attention, because they reminded me to stay open to inspiration’s presence – everywhere, anywhere, anytime.
What’s your story of an inspirational hijacking? I love to hear tales about the muse in action in people’s lives.
I’ll continue the hijacking theme with the excerpt below. The story begins with Ruben walking into Henry’s classroom and capturing his attention.
Everyday History Excerpt
Every fall I begin the first class of the school year the same way. I’m not fool enough to think the students entering the Boston Museum of History’s internship program—high school seniors selected for their drive and intelligence—won’t want to test me. So I offer them a challenge. They always leap, assuming they’ll win. They won’t. Not the way they expect to.
My glasses and bald head, the way I dress—in tweed vests and ironed shirts, like a stereotype of a museum curator—work in my favor, keep me from being a threat. I stand behind my desk, hands clasped at the small of my back, suppressing a smile as the students enter the classroom for the first time, stealing looks at me, loud and boisterous to cover their nerves. They goof around, point at the unusual art I’ve packed into the room, and peer into the empty inkwells built into the tops of the old desks.
I want to smile because I know something they don’t, something they think they already know. They’re here because they think history is interesting. But I can make them fall so in love with history that the way they see themselves will shift forever.
Then he walks into the room with his arm around a beautiful girl.
His exuberance is incandescent. He doesn’t simply enter the classroom, he radiates into it, vibrant with life, as though fueled by an energy source of pure dazzle.
His effect on his classmates is instantaneous. Girls shamelessly bat their eyelashes at him. Boys jostle and joke. They slap him on the back, vying for his friendship. At least one of the boys bats his eyelashes, but he doesn’t seem to notice.
At first I think he’s going to be a disciplinary problem, but he’s the opposite. He holds out a desk chair for a pretty girl with red hair and then brings the other students into line by cajoling them into settling down and paying attention.
I blink, give myself a mental shake, and get down to business, starting with roll call.
His name is Ruben Harper.
Check out Everyday History today!
Headstrong Ruben Harper has yet to meet an obstacle he can’t convert to a speed bump. He’s used to getting what he wants from girls, but when he develops a fascination for a man, his wooing skills require an upgrade. After months of persuasion, he scores a dinner date with Henry Normand that morphs into an intense weekend. The unexpected depth of their connection scares Ruben into fleeing.
Shy, cautious Henry, Ruben’s former high school history teacher, suspects he needs a wake-up call, and Ruben appears to be his siren. But when Ruben bolts, Henry is left struggling to find closure. Inspired by his conversations with Ruben, Henry begins to write articles about the memories stored in everyday objects. The articles seduce Ruben with details from their weekend together and trigger feelings too strong to avoid. As Henry’s snowballing fame takes him out of town and further out of touch, Ruben stretches to close the gaps that separate them.
About the Author
Alice Archer has messed about with words professionally for many years as an editor and writing coach. After living in more than eighty places and cobbling together a portable lifestyle, she has lots of story material to sort through. It has reassured her to discover that even though culture and beliefs can get people into a peck of trouble when they’re falling in love, the human heart beats the same in any language. She currently lives near Nashville. Maybe this move will stick.
Check out the other blogs on the Everyday History Blog Tour:
Jun 22 – MM Good Book Reviews
Jun 27 – Open Skye Book Reviews
Jul 1 – My Fiction Nook
Jul 2 – Love Bytes