Sweet Tooth by Kim Fielding + Giveaway

November 20, 2017

sweet tooth

 

I admit to quite a few vices. Some of them harm my bank account and lead to storage issues, like my book and footwear addictions. Others have the potential to impact my health—such as my terrible sweet tooth. I blame my forebears for that one. My ancestors came from Central and Eastern Europe, and I’ve learned during my travels in those places that a predilection for sweets is common. In most cities you can hardly go a block without encountering tempting bakeries or deliciously scented chocolate shops. And don’t even get me started on the gelato and ice cream….

Given my own vice, perhaps it’s no surprise that Peter, one of the main characters in Ante Up, has a taste for sweets. In fact, sugary stuff comprises most of his diet. (You’ll have to read the book to learn why!) It’s a bit of a contrast to the other protagonist’s meals: Ante is a vampire, so while Peter’s gobbling pie and candy, Ante is satisfied with some nice A-Pos. Especially if the blood in question is Peter’s. (Don’t worry—Ante is careful when he snacks on Peter.)

In Peter’s honor, I thought I’d share a somewhat unusual recipe for something sweet. This was my grandmother’s recipe—I have no idea if she invented it or got it from somewhere—and it’s one of my favorite comfort foods.

 

Rose’s Rice Pudding

1 cup raw rice
3 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup sugar
1 Tbsp butter
1 tsp almond extract
7/8 cup orange juice
1 cup raisins

Cook rice. To warm rice, add butter, eggs, vanilla, almond extract, OJ, sugar, and raisins. Mix. Spread in greased 9×13 baking pan. Bake at 325F for 40 minutes. Cut into squares. Can be eaten warm or cold.

What sweet do you have a weakness for? Comment with your favorites, and don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter below.

 

Check out Ante Up today!

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Blurb:

Love is a high-stakes game.

A century and a half ago, Ante Novak died on a Croatian battlefield—and rose three days later as a vampire. Now he haunts Las Vegas, stealing blood and money from drunken gamblers and staying on the fringe of the powerful vampire organization known as the Shadows. His existence feels empty and meaningless until he meets beautiful Peter Gehrardi, who can influence others with his thoughts.

An attraction flares instantly, bringing a semblance of life to Ante’s dead heart. But the Shadows want Peter too, and they’re willing to kill to get him. As Ante and Peter flee, they learn more about themselves and each other, and they discover that the world is a stranger place than either of them imagined. With enemies at their heels and old mistakes coming back to exact a price, how can Ante and Peter find sanctuary?

 

Author Bio:

Kim Fielding is the bestselling author of numerous m/m romance novels, novellas, and short stories. Like Kim herself, her work is eclectic, spanning genres such as contemporary, fantasy, paranormal, and historical. Her stories are set in alternate worlds, in 15th century Bosnia, in modern-day Oregon. Her heroes are hipster architect werewolves, housekeepers, maimed giants, and conflicted graduate students. They’re usually flawed, they often encounter terrible obstacles, but they always find love.

After having migrated back and forth across the western two-thirds of the United States, Kim calls the boring part of California home. She lives there with her husband, her two daughters, and her day job as a university professor, but escapes as often as possible via car, train, plane, or boat. This may explain why her characters often seem to be in transit as well. She dreams of traveling and writing full-time.

Follow Kim:

Website: http://www.kfieldingwrites.com/
Facebook: http://facebook.com/KFieldingWrites
Twitter: @KFieldingWrites
Email: Kim@KFieldingWrites.com
Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bau3S9
A complete list of Kim’s books: http://www.kfieldingwrites.com/kim-fieldings-books/

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Donovan and Ethan by Anne Barwell + Giveaway

November 14, 2017

Donovan & ethan

 

Thanks for hosting me today as part of my blog tour for One Word, the 3rd book in my Hidden Places series from Dreamspinner Press.  I have a Rafflecopter running as part of the tour so be sure to enter.

Although One Word is the third book in my Hidden Places series, it takes place during the last six weeks of the events in book one—Cat’s Quill.  One of the fun parts about that was writing a new relationship for a couple who were already together in a story that had been published a few years earlier.  Instead of describing what that was like as a writer, I figured it might be more interesting to invite Ethan and Donovan to talk about the experience from their perspective.

Silence.

The author clears her throat.  “Umm, guys, that means you.”

There is a muffled noise of clothing being rearranged, and a discreet cough, and then a room lined with books comes into view.  In one corner sits a rocking chair. The cat on it opens a lazy eye, glances at the two men, and then starts washing her paw.

“Bloody hell,” mutters a male voice with a distinct British accent. “What is it with the cats in this place?”

The camera pans the room before settling on two men sitting next to each other on a nearby sofa.  “Technical difficulties,” one of them says in an American accent. “Right, Ethan?”

Ethan rolls his eyes, and slips his hand into Donovan’s. “Yeah, that.”

“So…. ?“ the author prompts. She picks up the cat, settles her on her lap and then takes a sip of kawakawa tea.  “Floor is all yours. Pretend I’m not here.”

“I wish.”  Ethan sounds as though he would have said more, but Donovan squeezes his hand and whispers something into his ear.  Ethan clears his throat. “It’s wasn’t easy,” he finally admits.  “We’ve been together two years now, and although it brought up memories of when we first met, we’ve come a long way since then.”

“And been through a lot together,” Donovan smiles softly.  “I’ll always remember that first time I saw Ethan at the train station.  I thought he was hot then felt guilty as I didn’t think I should be hitting on someone who was worried about a missing friend.”

“I’ve always been rubbish at making friends, and I was still trying to put a… relationship behind me,” Ethan adds. “We took so many steps forward and then back during those few weeks. I was such an idiot.”

“If you were an idiot, then so was I.” Donovan bits his lip. “When I think about how close we came to—”

“Spoilers,” mutters the author, looking up from her tea.

“Says the person who wrote a story with a prologue set six months after the epilogue of the last book.” Ethan doesn’t sound impressed. “So yeah, if you want the truth, it was bloody difficult.  You put Donovan through all that crap again, and made him relive those nightmares. And not only that, you put me in a position when I couldn’t help him like I usually do. So don’t—”

“Ethan…” Donovan leans over and kisses Ethan gently on the cheek. “Sorry, we know how difficult it is to write something like this, and we appreciate the fact that you took the time to write our story. Don’t we, Ethan?”

“Yes.” Ethan pauses for a moment. “I must admit, I enjoyed reliving our first kiss. I’m looking forward to the rest of our future together too.” He glances at the author suspiciously.

She studies her tea. “A future together?  Hey, I’m a romance writer. Of course you’ll get a future together.”

Donovan glances at Ethan. “She’ll make us work for it though. But, whatever happens, we’ll get through it together. Right, Teach?”

“Right.”  Ethan looks over at the author, but she’s gone.  “I love you,” he murmurs to Donovan, pulling him close for a kiss.

“Love you too.”  Their lips meet and the screen fades to black.

 

Check out One Word today!

 

OneWord_postcard_front_DSP

 

Blurb:

A Hidden Places Story

Ethan Leavitt arrives in the idyllic village of Oakwood to search for a missing friend. Having always prided himself on his ability to find rational explanations, Ethan’s trust in concrete evidence and logic is tested by the mystery of Oakwood and Tomas’s disappearance.

Donovan Campbell’s happy, sometimes flippant, exterior hides a past he’d rather forget. As he struggles with his memories and to hold on to the inn he owns with his best friend, the last thing Donovan needs is for some guy he’s only just met to start getting under his skin. When a bank robbery escalates into a dangerous situation, Donovan must embrace a part of himself he can no longer ignore in order to save a future that might never have the chance to exist.

Ethan learns that often the person you’re looking for is not the one you find. But have he and Donovan both realized that too late…?

 

 

Excerpt:

“I’m so sorry, Jane,” Ethan said, “and I apologize for my insensitivity earlier. It was completely out of line.”

She managed a shaky smile. “Thank you for being understanding. Good afternoon, gentlemen. I guess it’s a good thing that I have the day off, isn’t it?”

“I’m sorry for kicking you,” Donovan said after she’d left.

“I can be an insensitive jerk at times. Lord knows, I’ve been told that often enough.”

“Not always. You’ve got a kind side to you too.”

Ethan’s concern for Jane had been real enough, as was his mortification that he’d been rude once he’d seen that she was upset.

“You say that like it’s a good thing.” Ethan retrieved his napkin from the side of his plate and wiped his mouth. “Sometimes it’s not, you know. People take advantage. Not that I’m saying she is, but….” He sighed. “Just forget it, okay.”

“Okay.” Donovan wondered who had hurt Ethan and recently. He’d seen enough to connect the dots. “Lots of assholes in this world, unfortunately.”

“And some decent people too. Oakwood’s been good for reminding me of that.”

“Are you sure you’re okay to come to London with me tomorrow?” Donovan couldn’t help but think that something in their conversation had triggered Ethan’s reaction. He’d said Mitchell and Vincent were good friends. Perhaps it was this acquaintance he’d mentioned? The one who had introduced him to them.

“I’m looking forward to it.” Ethan glanced at Donovan’s empty plate. “Have you had enough lunch?”

“Yes, thanks. I was hungrier than I realized.” Donovan finished the last of his beer.

“I went to see the owner of the Chronicle the other day, but he was too busy to talk and suggested we meet briefly today instead. I’m hoping, as he’s been working at the newspaper a while, he can tell me some old stories about Oakwood that didn’t end up in print. You’re welcome to come if you’d like.”

“Thanks for the offer, but I need to do some work at the inn this afternoon. We had to replace some weatherboards a few months ago, and I need to get them painted before winter.” Donovan wished he could have said yes, but Heidi was stressing about it. If he didn’t get onto it soon, she’d be out there doing it herself, and she did enough already. Part of their agreement in taking on the inn was that they split the workload between them, and Donovan made sure he pulled his weight. “You’re okay to find your own way back?”

“Yes, I’ll be fine. Thanks for asking.” Ethan pushed back his chair and walked over to the counter to pay for their meal. “I’ll see you later, at the inn.”

“Okay. Sounds good.” Donovan didn’t follow him immediately but instead stayed at the table watching Ethan at the counter. His hair curled up slightly at the back, his jacket falling to mid-ass, not quite covering it. He had a very nice ass.

Bet he kisses well too.

Oh fuck. Donovan closed his eyes for a moment. Where the hell had that thought come from? He was falling for the guy, wasn’t he—falling for a guy who wasn’t interested and would be walking out of his life in a couple of days.

Donovan heard footsteps walking away. He opened his eyes just in time to see Ethan disappear out the door. It was time to leave and bury himself in the work he needed to get done. He stood and headed for the door, giving Eoin and his friends a wave as he passed their table.

He hadn’t missed the money the three men had given Craig or the grins they all wore.

Donovan groaned. Great, that was all he needed. The pub door slammed as he stalked through it. Yep, they were running another betting pool all right.

It wasn’t his fault they were wasting their time. They’d find that out soon enough for themselves.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

You can find the list of sites taking part in the blog tour here:

https://annebarwell.wordpress.com/blog-hops/

November 3 – Open Skye Book Reviews
November 6 – Book Reviews and More by Kathy
November 6 – Top to Bottom Reviews
November 6 – Two Men Are Better Than One
November 6 – Gay Book Promotions
November 7 – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
November 8 – Happily Ever After Chapter
November 9 – Love Bytes Reviews
November 10 – Boy Meets Boy Reviews
November 10 – Nic Starr
November 13 – The Novel Approach Reviews
November 14 – Dreamspinner Press Blog
November 15 – Aisling Mancy

 

Bio:

Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand.  She shares her home with two cats who are convinced that the house is run to suit them; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date it appears as though the cats may be winning.

In 2008 she completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra.

She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth. She also hosts other authors, reviews for the GLBTQ Historical Site “Our Story” and Top2Bottom Reviews, and writes monthly blog posts for Authors Speak and Love Bytes.

Anne’s books have received honorable mentions four times and reached the finals three times in the Rainbow Awards.  She has also been nominated twice in the Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice Awards—once for Best Fantasy and once for Best Historical.

Website & Blog: http://annebarwell.wordpress.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/anne.barwell.1
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/sylvrebarwellhoffmann/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/115084832208481414034/posts
Instagram: https://instagram.com/anne.barwell
Twitter: https://twitter.com/annebarwell
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4862410.Anne_Barwell
Dreamspinner Press Author Page: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/authors/anne-barwell-65
DSP Publications Author Page: https://www.dsppublications.com/authors/anne-barwell-49
Queeromance Ink Author Page: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/anne-barwell/
New Zealand Rainbow Romance Writers: https://www.facebook.com/groups/491382394538058/

 

The Cover Artist Made Me Write This Scene by Z. Allora

November 2, 2017

The Cover Artist Made Me Write This Scene

 

 

Greetings! I want to thank Dreamspinner Press for not only publishing The Librarian’s Rake but for allowing me to share this excerpt, and do a giveaway on their blog.                    

To celebrate the release of The Librarian’s Rake I’ll be giving away 3 e-books of Secured and Free, (Book #2 of Entwined Dreams) and a $20 gift card to Dreamspinner Press. Details below.

 

Truth be told I was rather a mess while picking The Librarian’s Rake’s cover. This is my first nondrawn book cover which makes sense because this is my first true (non-yaoified) contemporary romance. Combine that with the fact I have this obsessive need to capture a scene from my book on the cover and you can imagine how pleased the art department is with me… (No, thankfully they were VERY patient!).

I had originally hoped to capture Tristan (the librarian) and Phillip (the rake) pre-library sex. Like maybe Tristan pressed against one of the library bookshelves looking flustered and hot with Phillip ready to debauch him like a duke with the virgin governess of a bodice ripper. But none of the photo covers fit that imagine. Though they offered to rework it for me but I had already gotten attached to the current cover.

It captured the very moment Phillip realized maybe there was more to happy endings than just swallowing. It was at that second he let in the possibility of happily ever after. I knew the pivotal scene happened but I started the scene directly after the realization so the words were not on the page.

Soooooo, I added the moments the cover captured. The night before was BJ 101 and Phillip was still telling himself it was just sex… and then he peers over…

 

Here’s the excerpt for The Librarian’s Rake:

 

An adorable snore signaled that the intense snuggling had sent Tristan back to dreamland. When he rolled over in his sleep, Phillip followed and cuddled up to his back feeling… complete.

He lay there for a long time, listening to Tristan breathe. If Phillip were the romantic sort, he might even believe their hearts had synchronized. Instead he focused on trying to tame Tristan’s wild hair. Blowjob class did no one’s hairstyle any favors.

As Phillip finger-combed the sun-kissed strands, Tristan started making the cutest little sighs. The contented purrs continued, smashing through the crumbling walls around Phillip’s heart.

What was happening?

Phillip didn’t want to let go… even as part of him struggled with the need to escape what his heart craved. Maybe he could—

No! He needed to exit.

Pausing, he leaned over his sleeping beauty and pressed a kiss on Tristan’s cheek. Wait, his sleeping beauty?

Granted, he’d put that satisfied smile on Tristan’s face. But the pleased gratification was simply the result of a cock well sucked not of a relationship. Last night was simply a sexual tutorial. It was just sex.

Tristan wasn’t his.

Though why did everything about this amazing man make Phillip wish he could—

Time for a shower!

           He bypassed Tristan’s bathroom and opted for the guest bath—afterall he was just a visitor. He used the facilities, brushed his teeth, and took a quick shower.

It was ridiculous how a night of good orgasms could make him want…. Ha! What, Tristan sucked his cock and all of a sudden Phillip was looking to settle down? Did coming that hard make him lose track of reality and melt his common sense? Whatever! He needed to get a grip.

He tried to ignore it was the time he had been spending with Tris that made his feelings of lust and friendship morph into—

Shit! How did this happen? He needed to get the hell out of here.

Fuck! Where were his clothes? He not only wanted the barrier clothing would give him, but needed it.

Everything seemed too much.

He wrapped a towel around his waist, braced himself, and opened the door. Damn! His clothing from last night had been washed and folded and set outside the door, along with a plain blue T-shirt, giving him the choice so he didn’t have to wear a T-shirt proclaiming, “Save A Lollipop, Suck A Cock.”

Pulling on his underwear, he chuckled at what Tristan must have thought while washing his unmentionables. They were little more than a black pouch to hide his cock, with bands of rainbow elastic highlighting the availability of his ass.

Phillip wiggled into his jeans and did some knee bends to loosen them. He grabbed the two T-shirts and stared at them.

It was just a fucking T-shirt. However, one yelled fun and flirty, and the other said… I have a boyfriend.

“God, Tris! What the hell are you doing to me?”

How could this be happening? T-shirts didn’t talk! It was a goddamn shirt. He tugged his own on and stared in the mirror. Without product in his hair, he looked a bit of a mess. After a search under the sink, he found a sad can of generic mousse and did what he could.

He washed his hands and headed for the door. Catching his image in the mirror on the back of the door, he stopped. “Shit!” He ripped off his T-shirt and pulled on the other, resettled his hair, and ignored any implications the change in T-shirt meant. Folding his shirt neatly, he told himself he wanted to save it for the next time he went out.

 

Check out The Librarian’s Rake today!

 

LibrariansRake[The]_postcard_front_DSP

 

Blurb:

Opposites might attract, but is acting on that attraction wise?

Librarian Tristan Cooper can’t steer clear of sexy, motorcycle-riding bad boy Phillip—the man is hot—but Phillip is bound to and quiet, bookish Tristan boring, like all Tristan’s boyfriends. Tristan yearns to explore his wild side, the part of himself he’s only allowed into his fantasies, and maybe rakish Phillip is just what he needs to feel free.

Sexperienced hairdresser Phillip is more of a believer in happy endings than happily ever afters. Experience has taught him not to hope for more— until he meets sweet, vulnerable Tristan, who seems genuinely interested in his heart. But Phillip can’t trust enough to see himself as a man Tristan might want for more than a night.

With the help of a pair of matchmaking grandfathers, Tristan and Phillip might and the courage to step beyond their comfort zones and discover what has been missing from their lives….

 

To enter the giveaway by telling us who you are more like the librarian or the rake. Winners will be contacted Nov 8th.

 

Bio:

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 to 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 the opportunity to open hearts and change minds.

To contact Z. Allora:

E-mail: Z.AlloraHappyEndings@gmail.com
FACEBOOK:   Z Allora Allora
Website: www.zallorabooks.com
Twitter: @ZAllora
Blog: http://zallora.blogspot.com
Queer Romance Ink: www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/z-allora
Dreamspinner: www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/z-allora-637-a

Remember When? with SJD Peterson + Giveaway

August 24, 2017

 

 

Remember When-

 

So, I’m trying to come up with a blog post and I look over at my mom and ask;

Me: What’s the first thing that pops into your head when I say, remember when?”

Mom: Remember that time when I didn’t have indoor plumbing.

Me: Um, no. I wasn’t born. But seriously, that’s the first thing that pops into your head?

Mom: Yes, you don’t know how horrible it is to go out there and go in a slop pot?

Me: Nope! Nope! Nope! This conversation is over. *Sigh*

 

This wasn’t what I had in mind when I was thinking of romantic or cute memories. I guess I should have been more specific. Especially when talking to Linda Faye. She is after all my mother and where my evilness comes from lol.

 

RememberWhen_headerbanner

 

I shall be more careful this time. You and your significant other are having a romantic candle lit dinner. She/he looks into your eyes and says;  “Remember When…..”

Finish the sentence and one person will win any ebook copy from my back list.

“Good Luck”

 

Check out Remember When today!

 

RememberWhen_postcard_front_DSP

 

BLURB:

Life is simple and hopeful in youth. Luke and Nelson are best friends exploring their budding sexuality. They have big plans for the future, and nothing can stand in their way or tear them apart—except a family move that puts a continent between them.

Ten years later Luke and Nelson meet again, but nothing is simple anymore. As strong as the attraction remains, obligations and expectations come between them as Luke is forced to honor family responsibilities over the desires of his heart.

Impossibly, fate sees fit to offer them a last opportunity to see what might have been. Will the third time be the charm, or is trust so badly broken it is impossible to repair? Can they recapture the innocent love they once knew and make up for all the wasted years? In a love story that spans half a lifetime, two friends destined for each other will have to fight hard for their happily ever after.

 

J

 

Meet Jo Peterson

SJD Peterson, better known as Jo, hails from Michigan. Not the best place to live for someone who hates the cold and snow. When not reading or writing, Jo can be found close to the heater checking out NHL stats and watching the Red Wings kick a little butt. Can’t cook, misses the clothes hamper nine out of ten tries, but is handy with power tools.

FACEBOOK | WEBSITE | TWITTER | GOODREADS

AUTHORS AMAZON PAGE

Summertime Fun w/ Sean Michael + Giveaway

July 5, 2017

Summertime Fun

 

Hello, Dreamspinners!

It’s summertime! If you know me already, you probably know that summer is not my favorite season. It is however when Making a Splash takes place. Austin is showing off for his friends at the public pool and diving when Vince discovers him.

Going to the pool is a great summer activity. I prefer the country and a lake to the city and a pool – the chlorine irritates my eyes and skin. And I prefer the breeze off the lake, which is usually lacking at a city pool.

Other summer activities I enjoy are evening walks because it’s cooler when the sun begins to go down. Picnics if there’s shade. And sitting inside with the air conditioner cranked high!

What’s your favorite summertime activity? One responder will win a copy of Making a Splash.

 

Sean Michael
smut fixes everything

 

Check out Making a Splash today!

 

MakingaSplash_postcard_front_DSP

 

Dreamspinner Press
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Kobo

 

Blurb:

After a scandal of Olympic proportions, Vince Dawson lost his job as a diving coach and is on a downhill slide. So when he sees Austin Brody at a local pool, diving like a trained athlete, he thinks he’s found his ticket back to the big leagues.

Austin thinks Vince is crazy for wanting him to dive competitively. He dives for beer and smokes, while working double shifts as a welder. Still, he’ll give training with Vince a shot.

But Austin isn’t willing to let Vince rule his life, and Vince—used to hopeful young athletes folding under pressure from him—finds Austin baffling… and hot. Even if they can work together and become more than friends, they still have a long way to go before they’ll be ready to compete.

 

Excerpt:

Vince took it, the kid’s hand cool and damp, the sensation familiar. How many times had he hauled a diver up out of the water? Too many to count. Vince gritted his teeth and didn’t linger on the handshake, stepping back to find his perfect dive-watching spot again.

Austin swarmed right up the ladder, waved. Then the little fucker did Louganis’s reverse two and a half somersault in the pike position. The entry was shit this time, but still.

Fuck him.

He had a hunch dinner was going to cost him his last dime, but, damn it, it would be money well spent if he could convince Austin he had to start competing. The assholes on the national team would shit bricks if he showed up at the next meet with this diver in tow.

He pushed his way back to the edge of the pool, there when Austin hauled himself up out of the pool. “Your entry was crap.”

“You still owe me a steak.”

“I do.” He nodded toward the street. “You wanting that now?”

“Sure. Let me go get my jeans on and shit. Oh. I’m Austin Brody. Pleased.”

“Vince Dawson. I’ll wait outside the gate for you.” He could have a cigarette and work on his pitch.

He got one and a half smoked before Austin came sauntering out of the showers, dressed in a black T-shirt and a pair of jeans, straw hat on his head. The kid lit up a cigarette on the way over, nodding to him and grinning. “Hey. Wasn’t sure you’d hang out.”

He shook his head. “I’m a man of my word.” Not to mention that every second made him want to coach this kid more. He hadn’t seen a natural diver like this since he was a kid himself. “So where do you like your steak?”

“There’s a steakhouse down the road. My aunt Jenny’s a waitress there and can get us the rolls right out of the oven.”

He gave Austin a smile. “Sounds good. I like warm buns.”

The kid hooted, blew out a big puff of smoke. “Oh, you’re clever. I like it.”

“You shouldn’t smoke, you know. Those things’ll kill you.” He pointed to his red Dodge truck, then headed toward it as he took another puff on his own cigarette.

“Gotta die of something. Nice ride.”

 

Bio:

Best-selling author Sean Michael is a maple leaf–loving Canadian who spends hours hiding out in used book stores. With far more ideas than time, Sean keeps several documents open at all times. From romance to fantasy, paranormal and sci-fi, Sean is limited only by the need for sleep—and the periodic Beaver Tail.

Sean fantasizes about one day retiring on a secluded island populated entirely by horseshoe crabs after inventing a brain-to-computer dictation system. Until then, Sean will continue to write the old-fashioned way.

Sean Michael on the web:

WEBSITE: http://www.seanmichaelwrites.com
BLOG: http://seanmichaelwrites.blogspot.ca
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/SeanMichaelWrites/
TWITTER: seanmichael09
INSTAGRAM: seanmichaelpics

Slim Chance: Toxic Thoughts w/ Jeff Erno + Giveaway

June 30, 2017

toxic thoughts

 

Thanks so much for joining me on the Dreamspinner blog. This is Jeff Erno, and I’m here to talk about my new release, Slim Chance, which is a gay romance featuring two not-so-conventional protagonists. Oliver Paxton is twentysomething computer programmer who has battled obesity his entire life. His coworker Benjy has struggled with his own baggage, primarily a social anxiety disorder that sometimes cripples him. The two become friends and share a mutual love of computer gaming, but as Benjy helps Oliver embark upon an epic weight-loss journey, their relationship evolves into something romantic and beautiful. But the demons that Oliver can’t seem to get out of his head threaten to destroy the best thing that ever happened to either of them, and Oliver must figure out how to reconcile the new and improved, thin version of himself with a past he wants to leave behind.

 

Can We Overcome Our Toxic Thoughts?

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to read minds? Personally, I think if offered this superpower I’d elect to pass. I’m not sure I’d want to know the private thoughts of even the people I love the most. Even the kindest, most forgiving, most compassionate among us have negative thoughts. It’s a reality with which I’ve struggled most of my life. While those around me have seen me as generous, polite, and unselfish, I harbor secret thoughts that threaten to betray me.

Back when I was religious, I believed these negative thoughts—selfishness, greed, envy—were temptations. Although I felt guilty for experiencing them and was certain I was nothing but a hypocrite, I also believed that the thing that mattered most was not that I thought something bad, but rather what I chose to do about those thoughts. How did I act? That’s what mattered.

So if someone irritated me, I would definitely register a thought about how annoying they were, but then I’d make a conscious choice to treat that person with respect and be just as polite and kind to them as I was to everyone else. If I felt jealousy toward another person, I made a deliberate effort to be gracious and congratulatory toward them rather than petty and spiteful. If I wanted the biggest piece of cake, I didn’t rush in to get mine first. I waited my turn and acted thrilled when I received my much smaller slice.

And you know what happens when you go through life striving to be a better person than your thoughts? You actually do become a better person, at least in the eyes of those around you. These little white lies—these hypocritical responses—are almost never perceived as phoniness. No, they are simply viewed as good manners. We don’t always have to say out loud everything we think. We can choose to police our own thoughts and deal with them internally.

In literature, we’re sometimes given the chance to see into the minds of characters who have very negative, toxic thoughts. Our knee-jerk reaction is to judge. That’s horrible. Why does he think this way? How selfish! Those thoughts, when presented in black and white before our very eyes, are ugly and scary. They make us uncomfortable.

Reading them is like looking into a mirror.

I’m most comfortable when a character is presented in a way that portrays his good side. I want to know the altruistic motivations that compel him. I want the positive realizations and epiphanies. I want to feel the goodness of his heart. But as soon as he is portrayed realistically and his negative thoughts are revealed—the same thoughts that I myself have always battled in my own head—he becomes unlikable.

In Slim Chance, I chose to portray the dark side of my main character, Oliver Paxton. I elected to offer the reader a peek into the mind of this tortured man. As I set out to write this story about a man who had been struggling with weight issues his whole life, I had a choice to make. I could present him as the heavy-set guy everyone loved and give him an inner monologue that would appeal to readers who were seeking a feel-good romance about a really swell person who happened to be overweight…OR I could present a very flawed but realistic character, a man who has been victimized his entire life and as a result has become his own shield. He’s used cynicism to mask pain. He’s used selfishness to cover vulnerability. He looks out for himself first mentally, mainly because nobody else ever has been there to protect him.

Slim Chance is a story about how a person like Oliver Paxton can change. His transformation is not rapid. He doesn’t magically rid his mind of the negative thoughts, and in fact, he never will. Those who have undergone cognitive therapy know that we can’t control when a negative thought enters our brain, but we can decide whether or not we’ll accept that thought or challenge it. Ultimately, we see Oliver beginning to challenge those thoughts, and more importantly, we see him acting on his decision to be a better person. And love wins.

Interestingly, the idea for Slim Chance did not begin from Oliver’s perspective. Although in recent years I’ve struggled with my own weight and body issues, it was the character Benjy I related to. Like Benjy, I suffer from social anxiety. My condition has worsened over the years, probably due to a number of factors. For one, I’m a writer and don’t spend a lot of time outside my house. The less chance I have to interact with people, the more reclusive I become.

A couple years ago I ran into a friend, someone I used to be very close with. It was at a conference where there were a lot of people. This person, when I used to know her, was extremely overweight, but she’d had a surgery and had taken off—I dare say—two hundred pounds. When we were friends, both of us were social outcasts, which was probably why we bonded the way we did. We hung out together, commiserated with one another.

The new and improved version of my friend—the slender, sexy bombshell—had a new hairstyle, all new flashy clothing. And she wasn’t suffering from her social anxiety anymore—not in the least. In fact, she was the opposite. She’d become the life of the party, surrounded by a ton of friends, and all of them were laughing and joking…and she hardly noticed me. We didn’t spend any time together one on one that weekend. I saw her up on the dance floor at the evening parties. I saw her photos plastered all over social media as she got selfies with almost every important person at the conference.

But I wasn’t her friend anymore. And though she used to be one of my biggest fans, I don’t think she continued reading my books either.

That’s what gave me the idea for Slim Chance. But I deliberately chose not to present the story from the social-anxiety-ridden best friend’s perspective. I wanted to get into the mind of the person who lost all the weight. I wanted to understand how and why a person could dump their loved ones, the ones who stood beside them back when they were heavy, and exchange their true friends for the superficiality of the glamor crowd—the popular people.

And I think I do understand the situation a lot better now. I think allowing myself into the mind of Oliver Paxton helped me understand him and love him. And like Benjy, I get it. I see why Oliver, once he’d improved himself physically, felt the desire to continue upgrading. He’d never had friends! Not the popular people. No one had ever found him attractive or even tried to kiss him. He’d never even been on a date. So yes, of course, those temptations played out in his head. Who can honestly say they wouldn’t be tempted given the same set of circumstances?

But Oliver did something my former friend did not. He stopped, looked back, and realized who he was leaving behind. And therein lies the purpose of the story. You don’t have to be a perfect, lovable person that everyone adores. You don’t have to think only the purest thoughts. You don’t have to be the best looking, the most in-shape, the most popular. Love is not about any of those things. Love is larger than obesity or social anxiety. Love doesn’t demand we rid ourselves of all our faults but accepts us as we are—flawed and beautiful.

 

* * * *

My life-changing journey with Dreamspinner began seven years ago when I signed a contract for Trust Me. I didn’t exactly expect to be taken seriously as an author back then. I wrote as a form of therapy—a catharsis for my emotions. Trust Me helped me open up and deal with events in my past, including child sexual abuse, my struggle to reconcile my religious faith with my sexual orientation, and the internal homophobia that I couldn’t quite shake. The story chronicled the childhood experiences of two very different boys, one religious and the other a rebel. Eventually, in their teen years, Shawn and Bobby connect and fall in love but have to contend with a 1980s society that isn’t ready to accept boys who love other boys. They emerge triumphant and at last, 130 thousand words later, live happily ever after.

Trust Me_lowres

Following Trust Me, Dreamspinner published my anthology of short stories called Bullied. The compilation included seven fictional accounts of teen bullying, featuring gay and lesbian protagonists. Originally released at Dreamspinner, the anthology was later moved to their young adult imprint, Harmony Ink. It won a Rainbow Award the year it was released.

My best-selling book to date at Dreamspinner is We Danced, the closest story I have to a formulaic romance. It features a young veterinarian intern named Josh who moves to a small town in Kentucky where he encounters a handsome bar owner named Rex. After accidentally leaving his cell phone at the bar, Rex returns after hours to retrieve it, which is when Rex and he dance to the country-western jukebox music and share their first kiss. Later, Rex reveals that he’s a father. He has a six year old son, Tyler, whom he has adopted. The three form a family and together face all the obstacles that a small-town Kentucky community can throw in their way.

WEDANCED_JEFFERNO_FINAL

Choosing America’s Next Superstar was my nod to reality-TV, featuring a gay romance between two of the musical talent show’s top-ten contestants. Left-Hand Path is my one and only Dreamspinner paranormal. You Belong With Me is a young adult romance, a jock-nerd fantasy about two neighbors who communicate by holding hand-written signs up in their bedroom windows.

Dreamspinner has also published a couple of series of mine, the most notable being Dumb Jock. It too has a jock-nerd theme in all six of its installments. The first book of the series is actually the very first novel I ever wrote. I even used my own first name for the protagonist. The next four books in the series are stand-alone reads about new characters who are in some way connected to the original characters, and the final book of the series pulls all of the books and characters together for a final reunion. Book two, Another Dumb Jock, also received a Rainbow Award.

dumbjock

And most recently, I have a three-book detective/mystery series called Full Nelson which showcases the hyper-masculine detective hero, Chris Nelson, and his sidekick, Ethan, who happens to also be Chris’s husband and works as a middle-school teacher.

So, not counting the audio, foreign translations, and bundled compilations, Slim Chance is my sixteenth book with Dreamspinner, but hopefully not the last.

 

Check out Slim Chance today!

SlimChance_postcard_front_DSP

 

Blurb: 

Can a man improve his appearance without losing everything good inside him?

Oliver has always been obese and suffered from a negative body image. He’s tried diets before, failing time after time, but he vows this time will be different. As he begins an exercise program, his confidence increases—and so does his interest in his friend and coworker Benjy. Though they bonded long ago over a love of online gaming, it takes a lot of courage for Oliver to share his new body and be intimate with another man.

A passionate romance blooms, but as Oliver nears his goal, it seems he doesn’t need Benjy—with his chronic anxiety and troubled past—now that he’s made attractive new friends at the gym. But not all relationships are equal, and Oliver realizes that Benjy, who loved and supported him when no one else did, is more than a reminder of his old life.

A pleasing appearance means nothing when it hides a lonely, empty heart, and if Oliver cannot decide what’s truly important, he’ll lose what he cherishes most.

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Author Bio:

Jeff Erno began writing LGBT fiction in the late 1990s. Although an avid reader and amateur writer from a very young age, Jeff pursued a career as a retail store manager in Northern Michigan. When his first gay-themed novel was published, he was shocked that anyone would even want to read it. Nine years later, he writes full time and has published over four dozen novels. Jeff now lives in Southern Michigan, where he resides with his brother, Eugene.

Jeff’s writing credits include a variety of themes and sub-genres including gay romance, Young Adult, Science Fiction, erotica, and BDSM. He is the winner of a 2012 Rainbow Award and an Honorable Mention in 2011. His style is unpretentious and focused upon emotionally-driven, character-based stories that touch the heart. Jeff is especially passionate about young adult literature and combating teen bullying and youth suicide.

Jeff’s website: http://www.jefferno.com
Jeff’s Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jefferno

 

Backlist Giveaway

I’d like to offer readers a chance to sample my backlist if they’re interested in reading any of my books. Please use the comment section to post your thoughts on any one of the following questions:

1. How do you feel about a more nuanced portrayal of a protagonist like Oliver? Does it bother you to hear his inner thoughts, some of them being toxic and negative? Will this layered view of the main character prevent you from empathizing and rooting for him the way you would a more altruistic lead character?

2. Do you prefer a limited or alternating point of view? In Slim Chance, the entire story is told solely from Oliver’s point of view. We have to rely upon what we see, through Oliver’s eyes, in order to know Benjy.

3. Do we place too much emphasis on physical appearance in the m/m community? Why aren’t there more stories featuring characters with less-than-perfect body types? Is this too heavy (no pun intended) a topic to deal with in romance, which is supposed to be uplifting fantasy and happy-ever-after?

Three winners will be selected, one from each question. Feel free to answer more than one, but please use separate comments to do so. Winners will receive their ebook of choice from my backlist (which includes any Dreamspinner book other than the new release).

The Image of Old Town Stone Acres with Pat Henshaw + Giveaway

May 31, 2017

 

the image of old town stone acres

 

Hi, I’m Pat Henshaw, the author of the Foothills Pride contemporary gay romance series. Today’s the release day for Frank at Heart, #6 in the series. Like the other five novellas, Frank can be read as a standalone, so you don’t have to have read any of the other books to enjoy this one.

When I first realized I was writing a series about a fictional Gold Rush town that was suffering growing pains as it entered the 21st century, I had a hazy idea of what the place looked like.

My husband and I liked to get away whenever we could and explore the Sierra Nevada foothills outside Sacramento where we live. There we would eat lunch in small town cafés and stroll around community parks which often sported elaborate bandstands.

As is the fictional town of Stone Acres, these communities were struggling with how much of the past to keep and how much to let go when the year 2000 rolled around.

Should they keep the wooden sidewalks, the hitching posts, and the crumbling facades? Or should they rebuild and refurbish? Do they appeal to tourists’ interest in history or outdoors activities?

When it came time to work with an artist to design a cover, I was at a loss. I knew I wanted something that reflected both the old and the new. But most gay romances I’d read had a naked or near naked torso and nothing much else on the cover.

While that would have been an easy solution, it wouldn’t have reflected what the books were about. As a reader, I think it’s important that the cover give an idea or a feeling about the book. Sure, I can get this from the blurb, but the first visual impression is important to me too.

Fortunately, through the randomness of draw, my cover was assigned to AngstyG. She not only held my hand through the process, but understood how to meld the idea of old meets new in all the covers she’s designed for the series.

In fact, we’re so in tune that the cover for Frank at Heart was perfect from the first submission. I couldn’t (and didn’t) change a thing—including the bird on the roof of the hardware store. (I love the whimsy of it.)

The covers follow a simple pattern, but even using that and a similar color palette, they all reflect their stories. Not only are the central characters depicted, but a building like one found in typical Foothills towns and images important to the story are included.

AngstyG is so good that after Redesigning Max released, a gay friend of mine asked to be introduced to one of the cover models. I had to tell my friend that not only did the guy not exist, but that, as AngstyG put it, he was Frankensteined, meaning she’d built his image from photos of four different men.

As an artist she’s so good that the jagged scar Adam from When Adam Fell got as a teen looks and feels real even though it’s just smoke and mirrors, as she described it.

The publishing process includes so much more than my writing a book and having editors who smooth it out. So if you feel as if you’ve met these characters as you begin reading the stories, part of the reason is that AngstyG has set you up to like them.

It’s been my privilege to work with all the people at Dreamspinner in getting my books to see the light of day, but one of the people I’m particularly grateful to is AngstyG.

Do you have a favorite book cover that you think wonderfully illustrates its story? Please share it with us below in order to win a copy of one of my backlist titles.

 

 Check out Frank at Heart today!

 

FrankAtHeart_postcard_front_DSP

Dreamspinner Press
Amazon
Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble
Google Play

 

Blurb: 

Everything about thirty-five-year-old Stone Acres hardware store owner Frank McCord is old-fashioned—from his bow tie and overalls to the way he happily makes house calls to his dreams of lasting romance, true love, and marriage. Frank’s predecessors have run the store and been mainstays in the small California town for over a century. While genial Frank upholds tradition and earns the respect of friends and neighbors, he fears he’s too dull and old to attract a husband.

Then handsome thirty-six-year-old electronic games designer Christopher Darling and his fifteen-year-old son, Henry, come into his life. Christopher has everything Frank could want in a potential partner: charm, kindness, and compatibility. Also, he’s a terrific father to Henry. When their Stone Acres home turns out to be uninhabitable, Frank offers the Darlings temporary lodging in his ancestral farmhouse, where he and his tenant Emil reside. Since Emil thinks Frank is his, sparks fly. Suddenly, Frank’s monotonous life promises to explode with love and threatens to change him forever.

 

FrankAD22

 

Author Bio:

Pat Henshaw, author of the Foothills Pride Stories, has spent her life surrounded by words:  Teaching English composition at the junior college level; writing book reviews for newspapers, magazines, and websites; helping students find information as a librarian; and promoting PBS television programs.

Pat was born and raised in Nebraska where she  promptly left the cold and snow after college, living at various times in Texas, Colorado, Northern Virginia, and Northern California.  Pat enjoys travel, having visited Mexico, Canada, Europe, Nicaragua, Thailand, and Egypt, and Europe, including a cruise down the Danube.

Her triumphs are raising two incredible daughters who daily amaze her with their power and compassion.  Fortunately, her incredibly supportive husband keeps her grounded in reality when she threatens to drift away while writing fiction.

Author media links:

Website: http://patbooked.blogspot.com
Website: www.pathenshaw.com (under construction)
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pat.henshaw.10
Twitter: https://twitter.com/phenshaw
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Pat-Henshaw/e/B00BPDEDEA/
Email: patoisca@yahoo.com

 

 

How Was Secured and Free Born? w/ Z. Allora

May 30, 2017

secured and free

 

 

Greetings! Thank you Dreamspinner Press for allowing me to share some information about how Secured and Free was born.

To celebrate the release of Secured and Free I’ll be giving away 3 e-books, 2 audiobooks of Lock and Key (Book #1 of Entwined Dreams) and a $20 gift card to Dreamspinner Press. Details below.

 

How was Secured and Free born?

Orion Gordon, one of Secured and Free’s main characters had a secondary part in Lock and Key. One of my critique partners (Danny Brüggemann) hadn’t even finished reading the beta read for Lock and Key and she private messaged me on Facebook.

Danny: “So Orion’s story is next.”

Z: (my head screamed YES, but that wasn’t the original order of the story) Um, no. Why?

Danny: His story is next.

Z: … No, actually Xander’s—

Danny: Orion gets a happy ending, so who is it? Marcus? Although what about Hunter? (she completely ignored my attempts at denials) Marcus? It’s Marcus, right? But Hunter…

Z: … (the plot bunny threw a lightning bolt at my head) Damn you!

Danny: Why not—

Z: Don’t say it. I know…

Danny: (LOL) Orion does need a village just ask Xander.

Z: (growled & pouted)

Then I did what was destined to be and wrote Secured and Free.

And that’s how my story priority order changed, and how Orion got his happily ever after in book two of Entwined Dreams.

I want to share some excerpts from Lock and Key as well as Secured and Free. I think this will help remind you where his path took him.

This first snippet is when meet Orion in Chapter 2 of Lock and Key (Entwined Dreams #1). Since the main character, Zack Davis is 18 years old I show him dipping his toes into the BDSM pond. Chapter 2 is a BDSM 101 class and basic demonstration.

 

Excerpt of Lock and Key:

Once the chuckles and laughter died down, Jason continued. “As you can see, we are pretty relaxed here. Still, Orion and I have talked about what we’ll do tonight. We both worked out the expectations of this scene. He’s shared with me his limits, and I’ve shared mine.”

A murmur raced through the crowd.

Jason grinned. “Ah, I see. You don’t think someone in the Dominant role has limits or should explain those to the sub?”

No one said anything.

“Orion?”

Orion shrugged and said, “I wanted more intensity with the impact play than Master Jason was willing to give me. He told me his limits, and I need to respect them or find a new play partner.”

Zack understood that kind of raw had-to-have-it need.

Jason nodded. “Neither partner should be forced into a place they’re not comfortable in. I’m not saying limits shouldn’t be pushed and boundaries can’t be adjusted, but there’s a process… a negotiation for that.”

Orion frowned but didn’t say more.

Later on, in Book #1 we find out Orion’s need for rougher play had gotten out of hand.

 

Excerpt from Lock and Key:

There was a brief silence, which Tony broke. “I want to continue discussing abuse versus discipline.” Everyone glanced around them until all gazes fell on Orion Gordon.

Zack had never played much with the researcher because he couldn’t meet Orion’s need for pain. Though they’d had plenty of discussions about the progress being made in cancer research.

Fuck, no. Zack did recall he’d noticed Orion with more than one blackened eye; the guy had said it was a work-related injury. Shit! Today the guy sported two black eyes, a swollen cheek, and a split lip. How had he missed the way Orion flinched when someone made quick movements around him?

Orion shrugged but wouldn’t meet anyone’s stare. “I don’t see the big deal. They’re mostly the same thing.”

What? He couldn’t be serious. Zack had to say something.

“Discipline is what a submissive submits to in order to learn, grow, make atonement, or find subspace. Abuse is nonconsensual and serves no purpose other than to vent anger or torment another in a non-agreed-upon way.”

When Orion didn’t look at Zack, he continued, “Even if you agreed to discipline, you didn’t agree to the willful disregard of your personal welfare.”

There was silence until someone across the room said, “Safe, sane, and consensual, right?”

“Or RACK.” Zack threw the term out there.

Someone new asked, “What’s RACK?”

Joey Junior cleared his throat and got everyone’s attention. “Risk-Awareness and Consensual Kink. Nothing is completely safe. Driving a car isn’t completely safe, but we have seat belts and airbags. It’s about being aware of the risks and trying to minimize the potential issues.”

Tony asked, “I never understood why consensual kink instead of sane?”

“Well, think about it. Do you want someone not in the lifestyle telling you what sane is? Because I’d bet their definition is different than ours. If I give consent to explore breath play, I don’t want someone telling me that I’m insane. That’s between me and my Master.” Joey Junior glanced around the group.

Many gazes drifted back to the man who had everyone’s worry.

Orion peered up with a glint of defiance. “What if the play was consensual?”

“Was it?” Zack doubted Orion had given consent.

Orion folded his arms and pressed his lips together, which reopened his lip.

Xander, Orion’s best friend, pulled a tissue from his pocket and dabbed at the blood.

Orion grabbed the tissue and snarled, “Don’t. I’ve got this.”

Zack shook his head. “I find it difficult to imagine a contract or a discussion between a Master and sub, or even a slave, requesting consent to beat someone in the face.”

Tears sprang to Orion’s eyes, and he glanced away from the group.

Zack surveyed the other subs. Shit. Entwined was meant as a safe haven, but it happened even here. He’d never wanted anyone to experience the betrayal and violation he had. “Is this something that happens frequently?”

No one would answer until Sam said, “On occasion. Even with all the members being vetted, a couple Doms who don’t understand power exchange make it through.”

“What happens?” Jesus! Zack dug his fingernails into the chair, but he kept his voice even.

“Usually word gets out, and no one will scene with them, so they vanish.”

“Who did this to you, Orion?” Zack demanded, but the guy stubbornly refused to speak. Well, fuck no. Not happening again.

“Do you want that to happen to someone else? Do you want this guy to hook up with Xander? Or anyone else?” Zack wanted to wring the guy’s neck for protecting someone who needed his ass kicked.

“You know I like it rough.” Orion’s admission dared those around him to say something about it.

“There’s a difference between rough and out of control. A Dom should never be out of control. No one should be abused under the guise of BDSM play.”

Xander said, “Orion, don’t make me. You should say who, or I will.” He stroked his friend’s hair.

Orion pressed his lips together into a frown, but ultimately, he coughed up the name. “Dom Henry.”

“That fucking bastard,” one of the subs three seats away from Zack yelled out. “I’d like to explain the difference between discipline and abuse to him.”

Which brings us to the first chapter of Secured and Free. A few months have passed. Orion’s trust has so shaken he can’t even do a light scene.

 

Chapter 1 Excerpt Secured and Free:

“Cancer!” Orion couldn’t breathe.

Stop! Stop! Can’t be tied!

Everything needed to cease. Squeezing his eyes shut, he called out, “Cancer!”

The ropes vanished from around his wrists as if they had never been there.

It was no good. What kind of submissive was he if surrender was beyond him?

No! Trust. Can’t. No!

Zack spoke to him, but Orion couldn’t piece together the meaning of his words.

Andrew’s deep dominant voice cut through the building terror.

“Orion, I’m wrapping a blanket around you, and then I’m moving us to the platform.”

Blanket. Yes. Hide. No more.

Flat on his back, Orion burrowed into the warmth, hoping it might protect him.

Stupid. Idiot. I’m good for nothing. I can’t even—

Wanting it all to stop, he pressed closer to the body generating heat. The scene ended like it had too often in the recent past. There was a time Orion would have cut out his tongue rather than use a safeword. But now he used the word to make everything end before anything could even start.

“You’re with us. I’m lying next to you.” Zack’s words comforted him. Orion held on as Zack wrapped his arm lightly around Orion’s middle. Andrew stroked his hair. “You’re safe, Orion. Just breathe. Draw air in through your nose and out through your mouth. Inhale and exhale nice and slow.”

Orion gasped.

“Easy. In through your nose and out through your mouth,” Andrew instructed again.

Failed. Again. Don’t deserve to be held and petted. Can’t even breathe right.

The weight of disappointment threatened to bury him further in the abyss. Everything he believed about himself was… a lie. He focused all his energy on catching some air. Following these simple directions was the least he could do.

Inhale. Exhale. Even breaths. There. He had his respiration under control. His heart would slow eventually.

How many times had he been in one of these back rooms of Entwined? Probably countless times since he’d joined the BDSM club right after college. This room was like all the other nonthemed rooms. It was white with a padded platform for various activities. A supply cabinet stood in the corner to assist a Dom who needed to purchase something. Eyehooks decorated the walls at various heights, and it also contained a sofa, a chair, a bench, towels, blankets, and a fridge with water and juice. It had just about everything a Dom or a submissive required to live out their BDSM dreams.

Blinking to clear his vision, Orion muttered, “I thought I’d be able to handle straightforward bondage.”

Damn it. How things had changed. In the past, he’d never sought to play with either of these two men because they weren’t willing to give him the harsh treatment he needed.

Now, look at him. Had they even gotten a chance to secure the first knot on the rope before he called an end to the scene?

Was he that damaged?

To enter the giveaway: Simply leave a comment about the type of BDSM you enjoy reading or participating in. (Winners will be picked June 5th)

Many hugs,

Z. Allora

Check out Secured and Free today!

 

SecuredandFree_postcard_front_DSP

ebook
paperback

 

Entwined Dreams: Secured and Free Blurb

An abusive Dom robbed Orion Gordon of his love of BDSM, destroying his confidence and leaving him unsure he’ll ever find peace through submission to another. Still, deep inside, his longing continues.

Marcus Sadir loves Hunter Dixon, yet can’t be the one thing Hunter truly desires: a sub to control. And Hunter can’t find satisfaction in the sadistic aspects of the BDSM lifestyle, while Marcus thrives on inflicting and sharing pain. When Marcus convinces Hunter they should find a third on a permanent basis, they discover Orion might be the key to bridging their differences and joining them on a deeper level.

But they must help Orion move past his trauma enough for him to enjoy new facets of BDSM and kink again. Their journey toward becoming whole—together—won’t be without challenges. Can Orion trust enough to try again?

 

Bio:

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 to 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 the opportunity to open hearts and change minds.

To contact Z. Allora:

E-mail: Z.AlloraHappyEndings@gmail.com
FACEBOOK:   Z Allora Allora
http://zallora.blogspot.com
www.zallorabooks.com

Getting Political w/ Laura Lascarso + Giveaway

April 25, 2017

 Getting Political with Laura Lascarso

 

Oftentimes readers ask, what inspired you to write this story? Usually, I can point to exact experiences, current events, and other creative works that inspired a story for me. In the case of THE BRAVEST THING, it was a poem, a television show, and a tragedy.

The poem is “Trevor” by Ocean Vuong, a deeply personal account of a love affair between two teens, one of whom is struggling with his sexuality in the face of an unaccepting father-figure. I loved the intimacy and honesty of this poem, and it made me want to translate into story-form the stakes and risks associated with coming out in a community that doesn’t approve, and the bonds we form with friends and lovers that must sometimes supplement or supplant the love and support we would otherwise receive from our families.

The television show is Friday Night Lights (Texas Forever). FNL covered a wide range of sensitive subjects, including racism, addiction, sexual assault, and poverty, but it didn’t touch on homophobia, which is a shame because it’s an important conversation, and FNL could have given the topic wide and diverse exposure. Similar to FNL, I wanted to recreate the small-town Texas vibe, the almost godlike status of football players, and the conflicts that occur when you have to break away from the herd to stand up for what’s right.

The third inspiration for me was more accurately a motivation. I was at the very early stages of drafting THE BRAVEST THING when the Pulse shooting occurred. I don’t think mainstream America has given this tragedy the gravitas it deserved. Nor do I think enough discussion has been had about the ways in which toxic masculinity saturates every aspect of our lives, from the way our children are conditioned at an early age to act a certain way to how we as a society idolize athletes and celebrities at the expense of accountability.

The Pulse massacre galvanized my commitment to exploring the roots of homophobia, and in particular, how hate crimes affect already vulnerable individuals, for instance, those struggling with addiction and recovering from abuse. I also wanted to show why a victim might choose to let a hate crime go unreported, as are two-thirds of hate crimes in the U.S.

Some authors prefer to keep politics out of their writing. For me, all of my writing is political. Part of the reason I chose early on in my career to write for young adult audiences is because I am actively trying to change hearts and minds. While THE BRAVEST THING deals with heavy topics that may be more appropriate for older audiences, I would say that these are precisely the conversations we need to be having with teens while they are still forming their opinions on the world. (Adults should be having these conversations as well, so please don’t think I mean for them to be excluded.)

Because the main characters in THE BRAVEST THING are teens, it would have been a hard sell in the adult mainstream market. On the other hand, mainstream YA publishing would not have touched it, not necessarily because of the violence, but because of its graphic depictions of gay sex. This too was a deliberate choice on my part because young people (and adults) of all sexual orientations should be offered the opportunity to read and learn about a variety of sexual experiences, so that two men kissing doesn’t shock or offend, but is met with a shrug or a sigh and maybe even a, “isn’t that romantic?”

So my final sentiment is to say I’m grateful to Dreamspinner Press for being so supportive of my creative works, so wonderful to work with, and offering me a platform to publish stories that are outside of mainstream so that I might find my readers, and they might find me as well.

I hope you’ll give THE BRAVEST THING a try. If you have any questions about the story, please feel free to email me at lauralascarso(at)yahoo(dot)com. Thank you for your patronage!

 

Check out The Bravest Thing today!

 

The Bravest Thing by Laura Lascarso

Dreamspinner Press eBook
Dreamspinner Press Paperback
Amazon

Blurb:

High school junior Berlin Webber is about to reap the fruits of his hard work and land a football scholarship—if he can keep his sexuality a secret from his best friend, Trent, and their homophobic coach. Then Hiroku Hayashi swerves into the high school parking lot on his tricked-out motorcycle like some sexy comic book villain, and Berlin knows he doesn’t stand a chance.

Hiroku is fleeing his sophisticated urban scene to recover from drug addiction and an abusive relationship when he arrives in Berlin’s small Texas ranch town. Initially sarcastic and aloof, Hiroku finds in Berlin a steady, supportive friend who soon becomes more. As Hiroku and Berlin’s romance blossoms, they take greater risks to be together. But when a horrific act of violence tears them apart, they both must look bigotry in the face. While Berlin has always turned to his faith for strength, Hiroku dives into increasingly dangerous ways of coping, pushing them in opposite directions just when they need each other most.

Two very different young men search for the bravery to be true to themselves, the courage to heal, and the strength to go on when things seem darkest. But is it enough to bring them back together?

Laura Lascarso

About Laura Lascarso:

Laura Lascarso aims to inspire more questions than answers in her fiction and believes in the power of stories to heal and transform a society. She lives in North Florida with her darling husband, two children, and a menagerie of animals. Her debut novel, Counting Backwards (Simon & Schuster 2012) won the Florida Book Award gold medal for young adult literature.

For social critiques, writer puns, and Parks and Rec gifs, follow her on Twitter @lauralascarso

Facebook: /lascarso
Twitter: @lauralascarso
Web: lauralascarso.com

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CC Bridges: So Jersey – Post + Giveaway

March 15, 2017

 So Jersey w/ CC Bridges

 

When Dreamspinner first mentioned the idea of the States of Love series, I knew I needed to write for New Jersey. I’ve lived in NJ all my life. I’m so Jersey, I’ve never pumped my own gas. Heck, I’m so Jersey they even filmed an episode of the Sopranos in front of my childhood home.

For such a tiny state, Jersey has a lot of variety. There’s a dividing line between North, Central, and South Jersey, but the location of that line is not always agreed upon. I couldn’t tell you exactly where the split is between Yankees and Phillies fans (and let’s not even talk about the Mets fans:)

But for all our differences, there are a few things all native Jerseyans have in common – besides a hatred of traffic. The Jersey Shore is one of those places. Now, everyone has a different favorite, the shore is over 140 miles long after all.

The Jersey Shore

I moved down the shore about fifteen years ago, and while that still doesn’t make me a local, it’s allowed me simple pleasures – like standing on the boardwalk in the January cold, watching the ocean slam against the rocks. Plus, the arcades are open (and heated) in the winter. There’s a reason I’ve racked up so many game tickets that I’m on a VIP list of points holders.

The Jersey Shore

This is the world where I’ve set Love in the Time of Hurricanes. That magical vacation spot known as the Jersey shore, only long after the tourists have left, and just before the winter blows in. This world is new to Nick, the narrator of the story. He’s chosen to rent a shore house for the winter, to take a few classes at the local community college and figure himself out. He doesn’t expect to fall in love, but then again, he never expected to meet Lou.

I absolutely loved writing Lou. He’s adorable: loves to cook, has an appreciation for vintage things, and is ridiculously good at skee ball.

I hope you enjoy reading about these guys, and experiencing a little bit of my home state. I couldn’t live anywhere else (seriously, I’d have to learn how to pump my own gas!).

Tell me in the comments about your favorite place. Is it home? Is it the beach? Or maybe the mountains? All comments will be entered for a chance to win a $20 Dreamspinner Press Gift Certificate. (giveaway ends 3/31, midnight EST)

Oh, and I promise to tell the Sopranos story on my blog, so check me out on social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ccbridgeswriter
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ccbridgeswriter
Blog: http://blog.ccbridges.net/
Website: http://www.ccbridges.net

 
Check out Love in the Time of Hurricanes today!

 

Love in the Time of Hurricanes by C.C. Bridges

Dreamspinner
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Books a Million

 

Blurb

The night Nick Henderson storms into Martelli’s Pizzeria, he’s just looking for something to eat. Along with dinner, he finds Lou Martelli—pizza cook extraordinaire and Jersey Shore native. Nick is renting a Shore house for the winter while taking classes at the local community college as he devises a way to escape the accounting major his father chose for him.

When Lou offers to show Nick around, heat flares between them as they realize they have more in common than domineering families. But it’s not all fun and games on the boardwalk. Hurricane Sandy blows ashore, changing the place Nick was starting to think of as home. His peace is shattered, and it will take everything he has to keep his relationship with Lou from being torn apart by the storm brewing around them.

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

 

Bio:

CC Bridges is a mild-mannered librarian by day, but by night she writes about worlds of adventure and romance. When she’s not busy solving puzzles in an escape room, she can be found diving into comics or binge-watching superhero movies. She writes surrounded by books, spare computing equipment, a fluffy dog, and a long-suffering husband in the state of New Jersey. In 2011, she won a Rainbow Award for best gay sci-fi/futuristic novel.