Finding His Feet: Responsibilities with Sandra Bard – Post + Giveaway

July 22, 2016

Sandra Bard joins us today to chat about new book Finding His Feet, out this week!

Finding His Feet

Hi, I’m Sandra Bard and I’m here to talk about my second release from Dreamspinner, Finding His Feet.

First of all, Hayley, thank you for inviting me and for putting up with all the absurd questions I’ve thrown your way. I should also thank the wonderful team of editor and cover designers I worked with when this book was going through the different stages. Couldn’t have done it without you.

When I first started the book, my real life was suffering; a difficult job, with an impossible task of pleasing more bosses than I had students to teach. Each day was a dreadful experience, of getting up and going to work wondering what impossible request needed to be fulfilled. So many responsibilities, to my staff, to my students, to myself.

The book as written while I was fighting a silent war with a lot of people. Kaden, my main character, battled hardened and scarred, put on his high tech armor and went out to pretend he was alright, trying to keep himself useful in a world where he was afraid he would be discarded.

I would take the office laptop, a large piece of hardware that was probably new a good fifteen years ago and would type up at least a couple of paragraphs in-between lectures, paper marking and impossible administrative documentations. I even took my tablet with me to meetings and would type out a couple of lines between nodding my head at things like, ‘if you shift your work hours from seven to six, maybe you can complete all the necessary teaching hours’ to stop myself from screaming at idiots who did not know that each day only had 24 hours.

They became characters in my book, nothing major but they helped me shape my alternate world where war was a norm, where people accepted it.

Then of course, I had to travel for workshops and to teach in different locations. My laptop, a seventeen inch monstrosity which sounded like a hair dryer stayed home. Instead, I had to do my writing on a tablet, which was six years old and weighed too much to be held in one hand. I spent so much time in trains, my main characters met on a train. (This might have been where my idea of two distinct types of armor came from.)

Shun is the opposite of Kaden in many ways, he is light and laughter, cheerful and friendly and open… or so it would seem. But deep inside, Shun is as much a survivor as Kaden, having lived through his own war, with his own set of beliefs about how to live. He has his own secrets and his own agenda but not willing to compromise being human for the sake of that.

Kaden and Shun go through a lot of rough spots and their life is made even more interesting by the two cadets Kaden is in charge of, Wayland  and Bradley. Kaden, not the greatest person in charge of his life, now has to be responsible for more people.

Some of my fights with my brother and sister played a hand in shaping this sibling rivalry. As the eldest in the family I was expected to be sane, in control, lead by example and pick up the slack for everyone else. On top of my dead end job, the pressure was enormous.

Wayland is loosely based off a student of mine, a large eyed, earnest, small made thing who stood in front of the class once and preached to me about the evils of war while wiping away tears. (It was an oral exam not anything else.) Wayland has strong opinions about life even if they aren’t the ones needed to survive a war. Bradley was inspired by one of my close staff members, who is unsure about life but has a practical eye and the knowledge that life is not always nice.

As events build up, Kaden finds himself making more and more decisions, some of which might not be right. Through the course of Finding His Feet, Kaden slowly changes, to learn that there is more to life than fighting and being useful. Shun also changes in his own way, learning to look at the world from another person’s perspective and gaining something in the process, people to care about and love.

In the end, this is about two people saving each other and finding happiness in a bleak situation.

I made some changes to my life in the end, I changed my job (actually, I quit and stayed home for a month and actually finished writing this) and found the strength to tell several people to leave me alone. I learned to ask for help and to tell when I’d had enough. And my characters grew with me. So this is also the book that helped me preserve my sanity while I was struggling to find my feet and stand on my own against a hostile world.

Excerpt:

“I don’t see myself going over there to talk I,” Finzer spat, stressing peace as if it made his body cringe. “Not even if they ordered me.”

“But I hear you moved your wife and kid to a farm on the outskirts,” Alden said mildly, and Finzer flushed and looked away.

“I’m just protecting the next generation of fighters.” Finzer sounded impassioned, though he didn’t look all too happy quoting government propaganda.

“I for one would be happy if my kid didn’t grow up to be the next weapon,” Alden said firmly.

They all knew the government’s interest in armored warriors reproducing was to have more fighters for the future and not a sudden concern over the fall in the birthrate, as publicly claimed. The war between Joscal and the newly independent state of Haria had been going on for 130 years, and both sides expected it to last a hundred more. The Joscalian Army fought with all they had, sacrificing countless soldiers, not just armored units, for the sake of maintaining their border, while the Harians hid behind their remote drones. It was common knowledge that over a hundred million Joscalians had died in the first ten years of the war alone, and nowhere in the country was safe to bring up children.

Kaden snorted and looked away. He didn’t have kids… so not his concern.

“They’re even talking about sending a joint team to salvage what they can from Ground Zero,” Elisha added, sounding amused. Ground Zero was the starting point of the second phase of the war, when Haria had bombed the peaceful Joscalian island of Compen. Situated on the border between Joscal and Haria, it was coveted, and now officially out of bounds to both countries since the incident. “From what I hear, there’s not much to salvage, anyway. They’re even talking about letting some refugees settle near Compen Beach Town, but the island is still off-limits.”

“Makes sense.” Kaden nodded. “No one’s going to hand over that island unless they’re sure there’s nothing worth taking.”

“So everything’s in the planning stage, which is why there’s this long calm,” Claina concluded.

“It’s called a cease-fire,” Elisha told her sharply.

Kaden wasn’t sure he believed it. “Or they’re planning the biggest counterattack ever, and we need to be ready.”

“There is that.”

“From what I hear, our side is the one resisting the change in borders,” Alden added thoughtfully.

“Well, it is our country,” Finzer said firmly. “All of it.”

There was the sound of quick steps and everyone turned to the entrance to see a junior office helper walk in.

“Instructor Kaden Pace,” the helper said.

“Instructor… when did you become an instructor?” Finzer asked the same question Kaden was about to ask.

“I’m not.” Kaden got up and moved to the messenger. He took the message pad from the cadet and frowned. It read To: Instructor Kaden Pace. “Huh.”

“What does it say?” Elisha called, and Kaden realized everyone in the room had ceased whatever they were doing, which wasn’t much, to see what was about to happen.

“That….” Kaden frowned as he read the rest of the message. “I’ve got a mission.”

“That’s great,” Finzer said, and the others added their voices.

Though Kaden wasn’t exactly best friends with the rest, he spoke to them and hung around with them on a regular basis. Recruited at roughly the same time, they had been in a few skirmishes together.

“But it’s an observation mission. Two cadets, Bradley and Wayland Olgesh, who are in training. I’m supposed to watch over them until they achieve their Second Level Competency Grading.” Kaden frowned.

What the fuck was that? Then he remembered that was the same exam he’d taken in his third year of training, then called the Level Clearance 2. He’d been so young then; it had been close to twenty-three years ago, and he’d struggled over the obstacles and the stupid mission he’d been assigned. In a way, he’d expected battlefield missions to be as easy as his very first training operation, so simple to complete under the guidance of his now long-dead mentor.

“Hey, I remember those missions,” Elisha chipped in enthusiastically. “Mine was to guard a supply train from Morgan to Jalen.” Kaden remembered that she had not been a part of their camp during training but had transferred from Morgan after her marriage. “Nothing happened the entire way, not even raiders, but my mentor, Lavinia, was there. Felt better knowing she was watching my back.” She sighed. “She’s retired now, and I think one of last year’s cadets matched up to her armor.”

“Mine was to take a bunch of senior citizens from one of those old hospitals being evacuated to another,” Finzer said quickly, probably to break the depressing memories. No one wanted to talk about a time when their armor was going to be taken away. “I was glad Alden was there, because there was this particularly feisty old gal who kept pinching my bottom.”

“Your armor doesn’t expose your bottom,” Kaden blurted out, caught up in the moment despite himself.

“Well, it did, for that mission.”

The messenger cleared his throat pointedly, and Kaden looked at the pad in his hand. “This isn’t a real mission. I’m playing babysitter for two kids who’re going to go get their nature badge or something.” The administration never paired kids together unless there was a good reason. The kids were most likely too young to be married, so siblings, probably twins. Wonderful. He was stuck with a pair of boys—double the trouble.

Contest time! Comment by sharing an impossible situation you were in or having far too much work and being stuck juggling it all. One lucky winner will win an ebook copy of Finding His Feet!

Check out Finding His Feet today!

eBook
Paperback
All Romance E-books

 

C:\Users\ELTU\Desktop\blog tour\for pixie - trains and travelling\cover.jpg

Cover artist: Stef Masciandaro.
Release date : July 18th

 

Blurb:

Kaden Pace, a soldier injured while on a mission, hides the extent of his damage by wearing his high-tech armor, desperate to prove his worth to his administrators and make himself useful in order to hold on to his independence. But during a simple assignment to escort two cadets across the country to retrieve the armor of a dead warrior, things start to fall apart.

They meet Shun, a young man with a secret, who steals the armor they were supposed to recover. Chasing Shun brings them to an abandoned beach town, where they encounter even more trouble. Stranded in the deserted city, Kaden finds himself relying more and more on Shun, the person he’d come to capture, while fighting off an invasion from the neighboring country.

But even when he returns to his camp, Kaden’s problems are not over. Now he has to find a way to save Shun, whom he’s growing to care for, and keep his team alive as they make one last-ditch attempt to get back the armor Shun stole. Armor that is now in enemy hands, on an island in the middle of the sea, at ground zero where it all began.

 

Author Bio:

Sandra Bard started writing when she was quite young because there was always a story inside her head, but never thought of writing for an audience until recently. She only decided to try her hand at writing for the sake of being published after a series of events left her with some free time and in between jobs.  Now she has three jobs but writing is still her most favorite thing to do. Sandra grew up travelling the world from Africa to Asia and, though she now lectures full time at a university, dreams of having a job that wouldn’t tie her down to one place. She enjoys reading books, watching anime and, occasionally, visiting a fan-fiction site. She also dabbles in tai chi and yoga in the hope they would keep her flexible and help lose weight. She lives with her pets (fish, cats, and dogs) and has been a volunteer for an organization that takes care of stray dogs (there are many, where she lives) for over ten years.

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7106154.Sandra_Bard
Tumblr: http://sandrabard.tumblr.com
Email: sandrabard123@gmail.com

Cervena: Adventures in Prague with Louise Lyons – Post + Giveaway

July 21, 2016

Louise Lyons joins us today to chat about new book Červenà!
Cervena2 by Louise Lyons

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:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/louiselyonsauthor
Twitter: www.twitter.com/louiselyons013
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/louiselyons013
Website: www.louiselyonsauthor.com
Email: louiselyons013@gmail.com

Check out Cervena today!

CervenaFS

Blurb: 

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.

Entwined with Z. Allora – Post + Giveaway

July 15, 2016

Hang out with Z. Allora today as she stops by to chat about new book Lock and Key!

Entwined... Where BDSM dreams become reality

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.

Many Hugs,

Z. Allora

Check out Lock and Key today!

LockandKey_postcard_front_DSP

E-Book
Paperback

Blurb

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.

 

Author 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 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.

www.zallorabooks.com
http://zallora.blogspot.com
https://www.facebook.com/Z.Allora
https://www.facebook.com/Zallorabooks

 

Acceptance: The Playlist with Grace R. Duncan – Post + Giveaway

July 8, 2016

Welcome to the Acceptance release blog tour! Thank you to Dreamspinner Press for the space on the blog today and thanks for stopping by!

Acceptance- The Playlist

One of the main characters in Acceptance is Quincy Archer, a jaguar shifter, information broker, and artist. He’s also a self-proclaimed otaku, the Japanese term for someone with obsessive interests, usually used toward Americans with regard to anime and manga or even just Japanese culture. Now, most of the time, “otaku” is used in a somewhat derogatory way and Quincy is a bit self-deprecating when he uses it. I have since heard it start being less derogatory to give way for an even more deprecating term, however, I’m not entirely sure how long that’s been the case or how much that’s caught on.

Quincy’s biggest interest is anime and he spends a lot of time watching many, many different series. Part of the playlist I had for Acceptance includes a number of themes and other songs from these series. Now, I have my own favorites when it comes to anime—I’m not nearly the anime geek Quincy is, but I actually do volunteer work to help run an anime con—and of course some of those made it onto the list.

By far, my favorite (though I can’t say exactly why) is “D-Technolife” by UVERworld. You see that video here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7_YNsMkGjA

Despite that being my favorite theme song, Bleach isn’t actually my favorite anime. That honor goes to Naruto. While it wasn’t my first (that was InuYasha), it was the one that sucked me in for the long haul more than any other.  One of my favorite themes for Naruto is this one from Joe Inuoe, “Closer”:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Cp0WgkgDbQ

There are a few others from Naruto that I love, and you can see the YouTube playlist here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLz7oGWHL9LPLrUOcnysxPQbUGMybL6uKi  Unfortunately, Sony Japan has blocked many of the opening themes (especially the Ghost in the Shell themes), so there aren’t as many from the playlist on that list as I would like.

The full anime portion of the Acceptance playlist is here (so you can possibly find them elsewhere) :

From Appleseed:
Akufen – The Dragonfly Who Thought He Was a Mockingbird (5:38)
Boom Boom Satellites – Bump Over Hills (3:26)

From Bleach:
D-Tecnolife – Uverworld (3:53)
Orange Range – ~Asterisk (4:59)
Ikimono Gakari – Hanabi (4:27)

From Ghost in the Shell 2 – Innocence:
Kenji Kawai – Attack The Wakabayashi (3:31)

From Ghost in the Shell – Standalone Complex:
Yoko Kanno – Inner Universe (2:14)
Yoko Kanno – Run Rabbit Junk (4:32)
Yoko Kanno – Stamina Rose (2:51)

From Bubblegum Crisis:
Hashimoto Maiko (Vision) – Never The End (4:57)
Hashimoto Maiko (Vision) – Say, Yes! (6:10)

From Naruto:
Ikimono Gakari – Blue Bird (3:38)
Inoue Joe – Closer (3:28)
Nobody Knows – Heroes Come Back (4:33)
Tushiro Masuda – Neji’s Theme (2:06)
FLOW – GO! (Fighting Dreamers) (4:12)

From Cowboy Bebop:
Mai Yamane with SEATBELTS – The Real Folk Blues (6:16)

From Kingdom Hearts (not anime, but definitely Japanese influence):
Utada Hikaru – Simple And Clean (5:02)

Thanks again to DsP for the space today! I hope you enjoy the music! Be sure to enter the rafflecopter for a chance to win some awesome prizes and make sure to follow the entire tour for lots of entries.

 

Follow the tour here: http://www.grace-duncan.com/acceptance-blog-tour

Blurb: Dr. Miles Grant acknowledges that his destined mate could be either gender even though his bisexuality cost him his family and his pack. Luckily he found the Forbes Pack, who happily accept him just as he is. What he never counted on was finding his mate in Pittsburgh or for his mate to be another species entirely—a cat!

Quincy Archer isn’t just any jaguar shifter. He is the heir to the leadership of his pride. Destined mates are nothing but legend to the nearly extinct and generally solitary jaguars, and Quincy certainly never expected to find one for himself, much less a male… or a wolf.

However, finding each other and coming to terms with their species is the least of their worries. Quincy is expected to select a proper female mate, father a cub, and take his place as heir to the pride. Except Quincy refuses, having no interest in women or leadership and knowing he isn’t right for it. But his father will stop at nothing—not even attempting to kill Miles—to get his way. Quincy and Miles must overcome many obstacles to stay together as the destined mates they’re meant to be.

 

Dreamspinner Press – eBook & Paperback
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/acceptance/id1126559228?mt=11
Amz: https://www.amazon.com/Acceptance-Forbes-Mates-Book-3-ebook/dp/B01H8325Q8
B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/acceptance-grace-r-duncan/1123943161?ean=9781634774055
Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/acceptance-19
ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-acceptance-2060133-341.html

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Grace Bio Pic.jpg

 

About Grace:

Grace Duncan grew up with a wild imagination.  She told stories from an early age – many of which got her into trouble.  Eventually, she learned to channel that imagination into less troublesome areas, including fanfiction, which is what has led her to writing male/male erotica.

A gypsy in her own right, Grace has lived all over the United States.  She has currently set up camp in East Texas with her husband and children – both the human and furry kind.

As one of those rare creatures who loves research, Grace can get lost for hours on the internet, reading up on any number of strange and different topics.  She can also be found writing fanfiction, reading fantasy, crime, suspense, romance and other erotica or even dabbling in art.

Find Grace here:

Website  ◊ FacebookTwitterYoutubeGoodreads

Jake C. Wallace chats about Soul Seekers and themes in writing + Giveaway

June 22, 2016

Digging into Themes

Hi, everyone! Thanks to Hayley for letting me steal some blog time on my release day. Soul Seekers is my fifth novel, but my first from Dreamspinner—and it won’t be my last. I have four more novels slated to be released from Dreamspinner in the next year. Find out which ones after you read about my new release. Don’t forget to click on the link below to enter the rafflecopter giveaway.

Here’s a bit about Soul Seekers.

Soul Seekers is a fantasy/paranormal that centers around nineteen-year-old Levi. Levi has a problem; he doesn’t feel emotions like others do. What he feels are hollow echoes of what they should be. He can’t connect with others, has never had a boyfriend, has never even kissed anyone. He’s been on antidepressants since he can remember, been to therapy, but nothing has helped. Until he meets Jeb.

Jeb is cocky, arrogant, self-assured, and Levi hates the man who’s been stalking him. He also hates himself for being attracted to Jeb. Levi learns that Jeb isn’t a stalker, but is there to help him. He’s going to help Levi get his soul back. Levi doesn’t believe that his soul is missing. No one can remove a soul, but with the weirdness he’s encountered since he was a child, he has to wonder.

Levi’s disbelief soon changes as he discovers people he knows, he loves, aren’t who they seem to be. He’s been betrayed and lied to his entire life. He’s thrown into a world where people can see souls and remove them, the world of Seers and Keepers. Rules are in place that must be followed given the dangerous nature of their abilities. Seers and Keepers work for the good of the world, creating balance in the natural energy that makes up all life.

Not all are as altruistic. There are those Seers and Keepers who want to use their power disrupt positive energy. They need Levi to make that happen. If they succeed, the entirety of human existence would be wiped out. It’s up to Levi to stop them.

Writing this story was quite the ride. Researching a concept to incorporate into a story is just as exciting as writing it. For this story, I delved into the phenomenon of the soul as far back as Socrates and Plato, in different religions and in different cultures. I have to say the information was fascinating.

When I write a story, the plot quickly branches off into several side plots and gets quite complicated. The MC and each character have their influence. Adding in researched information isn’t as hard as it sounds. As I’m researching, I’m picturing scenarios, interactions, problems, etc., a certain fact could create. The more complicated and technical the information the better. This gives me a greater knowledge that incorporates the meaning seamlessly.

All of my stories revolve around a theme/concept. In Curiosity Killed Shaney, Sacred Geometry is main source of power. In Dare to Love Forever, the treatment of minorities was magnified to create a world where vampires are third class citizens.

I’m sure you see a pattern here.

There are endless themes and ideas that can spark a story. I’m sure even those who aren’t writers hear or read something and think, “That would make a great idea for a story.”

What do you think would make a good idea or spark for a plot?

It can be a person, a place, a certain culture, something in the realm of magic and the paranormal, a job/career, something that’s happened to you or someone else, a saying, a feeling…anything you can think of be the start of a great story.

Post yours in the comments below for all of us to read. Anyone who comments will earn an extra entry into my Rafflecopter giveaway ending on 6/30. (Don’t forget to enter using the link below). I can’t wait to read your ideas!

What Dreamspinner Did to Save Me and What’s Coming Next

Dreamspinner saved me when I really needed them. Shortly after Soul Seekers was accepted, my other publisher, Amber Allure, announced they were closing. Three of my four novels published with them, and a recently submitted sequel, were homeless.

Yeah, I freaked.

Getting it together, I sent Elizabeth an email. No doubt being pummeled with emails from other authors, she responded. By March, all three novels and the sequel were accepted. In the end, I contracted two previous stories and the sequel. They have also accepted a new contemporary story.

Here are the books and their expected release windows.

Dare to Love Forever: NVJ Book 1 

Republished paranormal. 10,000 words added, more information about the vampire world, more scenes in the first half of the book. Plot and ending was not changed

_______________________________________________

Sept/Oct 2016

A Chance for Us, NVJ Book 2  

New sequel: Tells the story of Justin and Max

_______________________________________________

Nov/Dec 2016

Jerricho’s Freedom    

Republished paranormal/fantasy, Mpreg, demons.

_______________________________________________

Jan/Feb 2017

Happily Ever After Isn’t Easy

New contemporary about a gay man in his forties who becomes single after eighteen years of marriage to a woman.

(an experience plucked from my own life)

Mar/Apr 2017

Check out Soul Seekers today!

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Blurb

Nineteen-year-old college student Levi Reed has spent his life with hollow emotions and a darkness so deep that he’s convinced he’s losing his mind. He’d give anything to feel something, anything, real.

When a mysterious stranger appears, Levi is convinced the man is trying to kill him. When he’s near, Levi experiences head-crushing pain and something surprising—real emotions for the first time. Jeb Monroe is arrogant, self-assured, closed-off, and handsome, but his isn’t the harbinger of doom Levi assumed. Jeb’s mission: help Levi find his missing soul.

Levi is pulled into the secret world of Seers and Keepers, those born with the innate abilities to manipulate souls and tasked with balancing the negative energy they can produce. Levi learns he possesses a rare gift, and he’s in danger. As Jeb and Levi grow closer, they discover a group of zealots who want to harness Levi’s power to cleanse the world of damaged souls. Everyone Levi cares for is threatened unless he agrees to become their tool of death. But agreeing could spell the destruction of humankind. With no one to trust and nothing as it appears, it’s up to Levi to save them all.

 

Excerpt

Levi could scarcely appreciate the magnitude of the force growing from some primitive pit deep within his mind. It—whatever it was—was surfacing, ready or not.

He had to get out. Running was his only solution, the only thing that made sense. A break with one’s psyche had to be messy and definitely nothing a room full of his fellow students deserved to witness. It sounded like nasty business.

“Hey,” Gia whispered, setting her hand on Levi’s shoulder. “You okay?”

Gia’s touch shot pain into his bones and was more than he could stand. He jerked away.

“Levi?” Concern colored Gia’s voice.

Unprecedented pressure crowded Levi’s mind, and, like a balloon filled past capacity, something eventually had to give. Terrifying visions of his gray and white brain matter splattering across student’s faces, on pages of open textbooks, on Mr. Cobbert and that hideous tie covered with statistical equations, invaded his mind. Levi wondered how long he had before his head exploded.

Fumbling to gather what remained on his desk, he picked up his messenger bag and bolted for the door. What was happening to him? God, anywhere but here. The heat rushing through him spiked. A large black blur startled him as it passed by the window of the door. Taken back, Levi hesitated and then grabbed for the metal door handle. When he tried to pull the door open, a painful spark of static electricity crackled at his fingertips. Instinctively, Levi pulled his hand back as the shock snapped against his skin.

Don’t let the door close!

Levi caught the metal monstrosity with his knee and squeezed through, allowing it to slam behind him.

Which way?

His car. In the back parking lot. To the right. The hallway was empty. As he ran, the unrelenting cranial pressure doubled him over in agony and pain exploded in his chest. Stumbling to remain upright, Levi steadied himself with his hand on the wall and then pushed off, propelling himself forward. His thoughts were vacant. He was in pure survival mode, true fight-or-flight, however something was wrong. No. Something was missing.

The fear.

Out the front doors. Blinding sunlight. Colored figures rushed past him, pushing and knocking into him.

So much pressure!

“Hey, watch it!” a male voice yelled as Levi bounced off a body.

When his vision came into focus, Levi was well into the parking lot, dodging moving and parked cars. Another blur of black passed nearby, but he ignored it, not giving a shit. His only objective: find his car and fast.

Again, he doubled over as the pain escalated, this time accompanied by roiling nausea. Where was his damned car?

Digging deep into his front pocket, Levi fought to free his keys. Just as he reasoned the piece of shit must have been stolen, there it was. He’d never been so relieved to find the old, rusting heap of steel. Juggling the keys, Levi managed to hit the button on the key fob, grateful for access to the locked car.

As he dropped into the driver seat, another wave of mind-numbing pain knocked into him, immense in his head and blossoming in his chest as well. Not again. His hands pressed against the sides of his skull. Maybe if he squeezed hard enough the counter-pressure would relieve the pain, or maybe it would simply crush his skull. When there was a reprieve from the pain, Levi revved the four-cylinder to life. Without hesitation, he backed out of the space, then slammed the gearshift to D, fleeing, as if he were being chased by every scary monster in the history of scary monsters.

##

 

Enter blog tour Rafflecopter Giveaway!

1 – $15 All Romance Ebooks Gift Certificate
1 – Ebook copy of Soul Seekers
2 – $5 All Romance Ebooks Gift Certificate

Jake C. Wallace started writing from a young age, but took a break for marriage, kids, and college (in that order). A few years ago, he ventured into the brave new world of publishing. He has published several novels and short stories. At night and on the weekends, Jake writes about all things men, believing there is nothing hotter than two men finding and loving one another, whether for a night or forever. An avid reader of M/M romance, Jake loves a good twist of a plot, HEA, HFN, or tragic ending, and has over two thousand M/M books in his library. He writes what his best friend calls HUNKs (Happy Until the Next Kidnapping). In his daytime hours, Jake works with individuals with autism and behavior issues.  He is owned by a beautiful partner, three kids, and two grandchildren. He lives in the Northern Vermont.

Website: www.jcwallacebooks.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/jcwallacebooks.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jcwallacebooks
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7237038.J_C_Wallace
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/jcwallace

 

Liv Olteano chats about new book A King and a Prawn + Giveaway

June 20, 2016

Bert’s guide to winning hearts

In A King and a Pawn, the love interest – Will Sims – doesn’t come alone into the life of the main character – Bert. In fact, Will comes with six kids of various ages.

Aside from escorting the Sims family out of fey territory, Will’s first real interaction with them is inviting them over for dinner. It may or may not have something to do with the fact that he’s a bit of a foodie and a good cook. But his solution to start winning over the kids and Will is to feed them one pretty awesome and entirely tasty meal:

 

There were going to be six of us, including kids. A two- or three-course meal wouldn’t do. I wanted it to be more of a family dinner kind of feel, rather than a reception. They’d almost certainly had enough protocol to last them a lifetime already.

So I decided to go with pork-and-beef mix lasagna topped off with plenty of raw eggs to make it nice, crusty, and brown like a pie. It wasn’t too pretentious, was easy to make, delicious to eat, and was filling but left room for dessert. When eating with kids, you had to have dessert—at least, that was how it had been with Alf. The little guy always loved tasty treats without being too picky about the name or even the looks of things. That was key to getting a kid to eat your cooking: you had to earn their trust, make them feel sure whatever you gave them tasted awesome. And I’d gotten pretty good at that. And at guessing what someone liked.

So for dessert I went big: tangerine- and dark cherries-covered cheesecake, and what my mom liked to call basket cake—tiny dough baskets you baked set over some tea cups so they’d keep the tiny basket shape, then filled with all kinds of sliced fruit, sweet and bitter, and covered with a dusting of sugar. You set the basket cakes back in the oven for about half an hour until the fruit baked enough to get all mushy and juicy, but not entirely flopped into submission. When the basket cakes cooled off, they went into the fridge so the fruity goodness would be all the better. When served, you could top it off either with a spoonful of whipped cream or with a spoonful of ice cream, preferably flavored so it would complement the fruits you used. So sweet fruits in the baskets, bitter-flavored ice cream, perhaps lemon or even mint. Of course you’d ask each guest what they wanted, so it was best to have a few options ready. Because I’d already fed them ice cream, and I didn’t want to be so obviously spoiling them to win them over, I went with the whipped cream version tonight.

By the time I had the table arranged, my dining room smelled quite heavenly. I had sweetened fruit tea cooled off and ready to go, plus some red wine because we deserved a glass or two after the kind of day we had.

 

His efforts pay out too, as he learns during and after dinner:

 

I found out new and interesting things about fey during this dinner. For one, they seemed to have healthier appetites than I thought. Everyone went for seconds, and some of the kids went for thirds, actually, though smaller portions.

When I brought out the fruit baskets and topped each off with a fresh spoonful of whipped cream, Sarah and Hector clapped excitedly. Susannah and Jeremy contained their enthusiasm better, but I did see joy glowing in their eyes. And Will had, I think, five of those baskets between his second and third glass of wine.

 

Now that you’ve read that, are you feeling hungry, lol? I know I am.

When I wrote the scene, I had in mind the idea of family dinners as a way to connect/reconnect/maintain close ties. There’s a sense of communion when we share a meal with someone, even if it’s someone we’ve just met; and if they were the ones to cook it too, the strength of that newly forged bond is intensified. (Particularly for me, lol. I usually don’t cook. If you cook for me, I’m really impressed. I mean, more so if the food is actually tasty, haha. But even if it’s not some culinary feat, I’m going to be impressed. :D ).

In Bert’s case, it’s considerably more intense due to the fact that fey can sense the feelings of the cook as he prepared that food. So in a sense, cooking for the Sims family is a way for Bert to not only share food, but a bit of his heart in the process.

Did you woo someone by manifesting your culinary prowess, hehe?

KingAndAPawn[A]_postcard_front_DSP

Check out A King and a Prawn today!

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Blurb:

Bert Cooper’s life used to be great, until his sister turned out to be a traitor. Now Bert feels the whole pack looks on him with doubt and suspicion. To prove his loyalty, he volunteers to be the first ambassador at Fey Court, gathering information to finally solve the Leader Murders and punish those plotting against the Council and community. At least, that was the plan….

When Bert meets Sir William Matthew Sims, Court Interrogator, and one hell of a sexy man, life becomes a balancing act. And when the Fey King is assassinated, things become really messy.

Pack politics, fey politics, treason, suspicions of treason…. Bert has to choose between being ruled by his fears or standing up for what—and who—he believes in. And it might just break his heart.

 

About Liv Olteano:

Voracious reader, music lover, and coffee addict extraordinaire. And occasional geek. Okay, more than occasional. Lover of diversity and quirky character, spamificating the world.

Be afraid, be very afraid. :D

Links:
Website:  http://liv.liviaolteano.com/
Blog:  http://blog.liviaolteano.com/
Newsletter:  http://eepurl.com/zZ7T9
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/LiviaOlteano
Facebook Page:  https://www.facebook.com/LiviaOlteano
Goodreads profile:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6952513.Liv_Olteano

 

 

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

June 11, 2016

Scotty Cade's

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

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

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

Hi All,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I really hope you enjoy the excerpt!

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

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

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

 

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

Check out Losing Faith today!

Dreamspinner Press
Amazon
All Romance eBooks

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

Excerpt:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“But you said—”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Oh? Why is that?”

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

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

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

“I suppose that’s true. But—”

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

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

“Same here, Reverend.”

 

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

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

“Yeah.”

Cullen related their conversation to Abel.

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

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

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

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

“Why don’t you?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blurb: 

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

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

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

When Opposites Attract with Lane Hayes – Post + Giveaway

June 10, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Reading!

Lane Hayes xo

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

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Blurb for A Kind of Romance by Lane Hayes

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

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

Excerpt from A Kind of Romance by Lane Hayes

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

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

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

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

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

“Kiss me.”

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

“For now… yes.”

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

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

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

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

“Sorry.”

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

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

“Don’t be rude. I’m a gentleman.”

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

Lane Hayes Bio

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

 

Books by Lane Hayes (Dreamspinner Press):

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

And A Kind Of Truth  and A Kind of Romance

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Contact Information:

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

Finding Home with Kim Fielding – Post + Giveaway

June 8, 2016

Finding Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

Or pay me a visit on Twitter: @KFieldingWrites

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Check out Love Can’t Conquer today!

Blurb:

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

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

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

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

June 8, 2016

Werewolves, Witches, and Zombie Dogs…Oh My!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check out Under a Blood-red Moon today!

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Blurb:

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