The Magic of Key West by CJane Elliott

October 17, 2017

 

The Magic of Key West

 

I was happy to set my novella In Over Our Heads in Key West. I’d been there once, briefly, many years ago. Briefly as in two hours on a stopover during a cruise. So I decided I needed a refresher on Key West and talked my sister into coming with me. We took off this past March from Orlando where I had just attended the Dreamspinner Author Conference. Road trip!

There’s a lot of blue in the Florida Keys. I took this picture out of our car window:

 

keyweststudyinblue

 

Key West is a charming town where it’s hard to take a bad picture. Here’s one of my favorites, snapped on an evening walk:

 

keywestwalk

 

We made a pilgrimage to a local bookstore that’s owned by Judy Blume. She was there, y’all! I was too shy to approach her (or take her picture) and probably just as well, because I was sick as a dog and had a coughing attack in the store before I fled.

 

keywestbookstore

 

Despite my ailments, I had a wonderful time in Key West and tried my best to capture its charm in the story. Here’s a Key West sunset for the end of this post—and yes, I took this picture with my iPhone. Key West is glorious!

 

keywestsunset1

 

Check out In Over Our Heads today!

 

InOverOurHeads_postcard_front_DSP

 

Blurb:

Anthony Vallen is the life of any party. Full of energy and fun, Anthony adores romance and enjoys playing matchmaker for his friends while dancing the night away with a series of Mr. Right Nows. But he’s given up on his own happy ending. A bad breakup years ago made him a secret cynic about love… until he runs into Walter Elkins—the boy who broke his teenaged heart—on a scuba-diving vacation in Key West. Suddenly, Anthony’s reasons for shunning romance no longer hold much water. Being with Walter again forces Anthony to get serious—about himself, his worth, and his heart’s desires. Brilliant and self-contained, scientist Walter Elkins prefers deep thoughts to other people. He’s a good boss and a model citizen, but Walter doesn’t let anyone get close. After a tragedy drove him out of his science career, Walter landed in Key West and became owner of a dive shop and a bar. Things are fine until Anthony Vallen—the only person who ever penetrated his defenses—shows up, and Walter’s calm, controlled life capsizes. He and Anthony have a second chance for love, but Walter must confront the old fears that threaten to torpedo their happiness.

 

Author Bio:

After years of hearing characters chatting away in her head, CJane Elliott finally decided to put them on paper and hasn’t looked back since. A psychotherapist by training, CJane enjoys writing sexy, passionate stories that also explore the human psyche. CJane has traveled all over North America for work and her characters are travelers, too, traveling down into their own depths to find what they need to get to the happy ending.

CJane is an ardent supporter of LGBTQ equality and is particularly fond of coming out stories. In her spare time, CJane can be found dancing, listening to music, or watching old movies. Her husband and son support her writing habit by staying out of the way when they see her hunched over, staring intensely at her laptop.

CJane is the author of the award-winning Serpentine Series, New Adult contemporary novels set at the University of Virginia. Serpentine Walls was a 2014 Rainbow Awards finalist, Aidan’s Journey was a 2015 EPIC Awards finalist, and Sex, Love, and Videogames won first place in the New Adult category in the 2016 Swirl Awards and first place in Contemporary Fiction in the 2017 EPIC eBook Awards.

E-mail: cjaneelliott@gmail.com
Website: http://www.cjaneelliott.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/CJaneElliott
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cjane.elliott
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/CJane-Elliott/e/B00LPIJDM2/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Dreamspinner: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/authors/cjane-elliott-124

 

 

Pirate Dreams

August 23, 2017

pirate dreams

 

Hey, everyone!

First of all, thank you so much for hosting me today. It’s wonderful to end my blog tour with DSP. The last months have been a blast and much was due to you guys. Writing Changing Tides was a dream come true, but everything that came after — the editing process, the art cover design, the blog tour — was absolutely amazing. As the saying goes, I can’t remember the last time I had this much fun with my clothes on. <grin>

Anyway, about Changing Tides.  I was such a huge fan of Errol Flynn and his movies when I was growing up that I think this book was meant to be. For years I toyed with the idea of writing a pirate story, until one day I couldn’t take it anymore and just decided to try it.

I found an awesome soundtrack on youtube, spent hours poring over books and the internet to find everything I could about those amazing battleships, the weaponry and clothing for the time period, and about the Caribbean Sea and islands. And along the way I lost myself in the story and fell in love with Brett and Devon, the main characters.

I was a little nervous putting it out there since this is my first book in years, but it was well worth it. I loved the end result and I’m blown away by the reviews so far. I hope you guys enjoy sailing across the Caribbean Sea with my crew as much as I did.

Take care.

 

Check out Changing Tides today!

 

ChangingTides_postcard_front_DSP

 

Blurb:

While most pirates sail in search of riches, Captain Devon Hall, the infamous Phantom of the Caribbean, is driven by vengeance. Devon has sworn to put an end to the corrupt governor of Jamaica and break the ruthless man’s stranglehold in the Caribbean.

When Devon is wounded and stranded on land, an unlikely rescuer comes to his aid. Brett Campbell is nothing like his uncle, the governor, and his goals are not so different from Devon’s. Brett longs for freedom, but his obligations to protect those under his uncle’s control keep him from fleeing. Throwing in with Devon might increase both their chances of success—and survival.

When the governor’s attempts to destroy Devon escalate and place Brett in danger and in the hands of the ruthless and depraved pirate Captain Blackburn, Devon must risk everything to save the man he loves and repay his enemies.

All Devon’s ever wanted is his ship, his freedom, friends who stand by his side through thick and thin, and someone to love. But facing dangers at sea and on land, Devon wonders if they will live to enjoy it all.

Author Bio:

Alex Standish lives in Lisbon, Portugal, a beautiful and sunny country in Europe. She loves to read, travel, listen to good music, rock the vacuum cleaner like Freddie Mercury, and hang out with her friends. When she’s not at her day job or trying to win the lottery, she’s typing away at her laptop, Probie, writing homoerotic romance. She’s a multigenre author, striving to create engaging plotlines and characters that could stand on their own and hopefully tug at one’s heartstrings. In the last eight years, Alex has written one short story and four novellas.

Social media info: http://www.facebook.com/xanderstandish

Agents and Shifters and Knights… Oh My! by M.D. Grimm

August 15, 2017

Agents and Shifters and Knights

 

Good day everyone! Thanks for joining me!

I’m M.D. Grimm and the proud author of The Shifters series with DSP. My latest, “Feather and Scroll” (book 11. Eleven!!) was released on August 9th and I am so stoked! How about I get right to it and talk about some behind-the-scenes info, shall I?

 

FeatherandScroll_postcard_front_DSP

 

Blurb:

Agent Pan has spent most of his adult life protecting shape-shifters from the Knights—an organization bent on their annihilation—and keeping the secret war in the shadows where it belongs. But the Knights are growing bolder, and a new threat has resurfaced after being buried in the ocean for decades.

The ancient scroll, a key to a devastating weapon, is now in the hands of a recalcitrant Russian hawk shifter named Viktor. As a bird shifter, he knows his duty is to protect the scroll, but he wants nothing to do with the war. He leads a quiet life and wants to keep it that way. But when agents come knocking on his door, he finds it difficult to resist the charms of Agent Pan, especially since this isn’t their first meeting.

Two years earlier they spent a passionate weekend together, neither aware of the other’s true identity. Viktor never really got over Pan. Now with sexual tension at its peak, they must learn to trust each other and work as a team to protect not only their loved ones, but every shifter in the world.

 

First things first: Viktor is Russian. I wrote this story about a year before certain events happened between the USA and, well, the rest of the world. So making him Russian was simply a diversity decision, and I thought it would be fun to write about a gruff, yet kind, Russian hawk shifter. He was a great character to work with and the way he and Pan played off each other kept me interested through the entire story.

Throughout the series I have endeavored to depict not only diverse shifters (wolves and bears, to sharks and snakes!) but also diverse people. A constant thread through the series has been: we may come from different places and cultures, but we are responsible for caring for those around us. My big-bad villains, the Knights of the Dawn, and their leader Arcas, are determined to “cleanse” the world and essentially make it a world of one culture, under one leader. Sound familiar? I wanted my heroes and heroines to come from a variety of backgrounds and life experiences, and on the spectrum of identities and sexualities. We are all needed if the world is to be saved and the creatures on it to be protected.

Okay, stepping off my soap box…

In the first draft of this story, I actually didn’t have Viktor and Pan meeting two years before the story starts. I tried to have the initial connection within the confines of the story and it didn’t feel right. Nothing gelled and even *I* didn’t feel any romantic magic. The story moved too fast, and there wasn’t enough time for them to feel the buzz, and I try to avoid insta-love. I don’t always succeed, but I try! So I set the story aside and thought about it. Then the lightbulb went off, and I realized there wasn’t anything preventing me from having them know each other, at least slightly, before the story started. Once I inserted that into the story, everything gelled and I felt the magic and tension. Their relationship felt far more organic. I came up with the solution during one of my cardio sessions. Not surprising. That’s my usual problem-solving venue. That and the shower…

I really enjoyed getting these guys together, and Agent Jin’s exasperation with the two of them made me giggle a time or two.

This story certainly caused me to flesh some creative muscle that I hadn’t needed to before. The cat-and-mouse game between the agents/shifters and knights wasn’t something I’d really done yet, not on page. Trying to think warfare and espionage moves and countermoves isn’t my forte. I hope I managed it enough to make the story at least plausible. At the very least, entertaining. That’s the point of a fiction book, isn’t it? To be entertained. If you learn something, well, that’s a bonus, isn’t it?

“Feather and Scroll” takes place right after the events of “Shifting Moon” (10) and I suggest at least “Shifting Moon” be read before “Feather and Scroll.” But if you don’t feel like, don’t worry. I think you can pick up on things fairly quickly. This series is a true one, and think each book should be read in order, but again, that’s just me. I’m a stickler for starting a series with book 1 and then moving forward. Granted, each book is a different couple, but the overarching storyline runs through all of them.

I’m about halfway through folks. Yep, halfway. I have about 23 books planned, so look out!

Speaking of future books… Books 12, “Kindred Truths” will be available in October. Agent Poe and Nordik are back! It was a hoot to revisit those guys and see where life would take them. There were some surprises and twists as I wrote it, but it all came out the way I hoped it would. Unfortunately for our heroes, the Knights of the Dawn (and Arcas) will be winning a few more battles before their supremely satisfying comeuppance.

 

KindredTruthsFS_v1

 

Blurb:

Agent Poe loves being part of the Agency—an organization devoted to protecting shape-shifters—and he especially loves his mate of only a couple of months, Nordik, the nigh immortal master bear shifter. He has the best of both worlds—the man he loves and the job he loves. But when Nordik reveals he’s ready to rejoin society and accompany Poe on his missions, Poe must take the next step and make them a full partnership.

After the Agency intercepts a message from Arcas, the leader of the Knights of the Dawn—a cult bent on the annihilation of shifters—meant for his followers, their job gets a whole lot harder. The Knights don’t bother keeping their activities hidden anymore, stretching the Agency’s resources thinner than ever.

After a near-fatal mission almost costs Poe his life, Nordik insists on a break for both of them. They visit Poe’s family in Ireland and learn that true danger lies not without, but within. There’s no greater betrayal than that of a loved one.

 

To keep my sanity, I split up my series into five parts with several books in each part. That way, I could stay with a specific theme and keep *some* order while I outlined each book. The first part was books 1-6 (Psychic Moon – Master’s Blood) and it was simply labeled “Beginning.” It was my introductory phase into my world of shifters, agents, and knights.

Part Two was “Scrolls” where I introduced the mysterious and bothersome ancient scrolls, keys to a weapon of destruction. Books 7-12 are in that part (Hunted Guardian – Kindred Truths).

Part Three will be called “Blood.” There will be maybe four or five books in this part. I won’t say too much, but there is an inevitable effect to the Knights gaining the upper hand against the shifters and agents. A devastating, sad effect, that I introduce slightly in “Kindred Truths.” Watch for it!

Part Four is “Masters” and all about the other master shifters. There will be about four or five books in that part, and all the pairs will involve master shifters.

The last is Part Five, simply labeled “End.” I think there are only three books in that one. The last book will deal with the long life and tragedies of Merlin, the master shifter of all shapes. He has quite a story to tell and it will be bittersweet when I start writing.

So hold onto your hats everyone! I have quite a rollercoaster waiting for you. Care to join me?

My question for all of you is: what mythological creature and/or beast would you want to shift into? Think outside the box, consider that there are: Pegasus, unicorn, manticore, minotaur, chimera, griffin, centaur, faun/satyr, nymph (wood, tree, mountain, water, etc.), mermaid, selkie… Think of the beasts of Egypt, Sumeria, Japan, Ireland… you get the idea. What would *you* want to be and why?

Mine: Dragon (western, either wyvern or the more common depiction with four legs and a pair of wings);

Why?: Fire-breathing, fierce, flying, hoarding gold (though I would hoard books)… you get the idea. Of course I would be blue. I’ve loved dragons since I was a kid, when I read Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series. It just grew from there. Yes, “How to Train Your Dragon” is my favorite movie. I’m not ashamed.

And you?

 

Cowboys Are More Than Butts by Julia Talbot

August 10, 2017

cowboys are more than butts

 

Hey y’all! My wife, BA Tortuga and I were talking cowboys. Not at all unusual, since she writes a lot of them, and Dreamspinner just released one of my favorite stories of mine, Sparkle and Shine. Based on a song, Everything That Glitters by Dan Seals, Sparkle and Shine follows friends to lovers Brooks and Evan all the way to the National Finals rodeo in Vegas.

Anyway, the discussion turned, as it often does, to how most comments we see about cowboys in the greater romance world center on Wrangler butts. Now, don’t get me wrong. I appreciate one of those as much as the next cowboy fan. I also like the way cowboy boots tilt that Wrangler butt just so. But that’s maybe a thimble full of what a cowboy is actually all about.

I grew up in cowboy country. No, not Texas, though West Texas was 45 minutes from my backyard. Southern New Mexico when I was a kid was small towns and lots of beef cattle. My grandpa was a cowboy. I would argue my mom was, too, despite the fact that she left Western Colorado young to join the Army. Then I married a Texan whose Daddy is a cowboy. Her brother was a bullrider, and one of her adopted siblings trains horses for a living.

If I’ve learned anything from my experiences it’s that most people see cowboys as an abstract. As an icon of a lost culture. But what I know is true is the opposite. Cowboys are still real, and so is cowboy culture. I see it when I visit my father in law. I see it when I go to the feed store here in a suburb of Albuquerque. I see it at rodeos and on vacation in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. It’s still going strong.

I once heard a well-known big 5 author state that she knew she didn’t write real cowboys because she didn’t like how they really were: dirty and bent from hard work, baked and lined from the sun, stubborn and a little foul mouthed. I thought, “How sad”, because cowboys are not cardboard cut-out romance heroes. If you write them with all their flaws, all their scars, and yeah, some dirt on their boots, they come alive in all the best ways. Absolutely, they’re stubborn. Sometimes problematic. Often vain. But, then again, I’ve never met one who didn’t love animals and children, who wouldn’t give you the shirt off his back to keep warm and out of the rain. They’re real people with real joys and sorrows, whether they’re riding the range or sitting in an office somewhere.

Cowboys are far more than just butts, and I hope y’all will help me embrace them in all their weird and wonderful glory!

 

XXOO

Julia Talbot

Check out Sparkle and Shine today!

 

SparkleAndShine_postcard_front_DSP

 

Blurb:

All that glitters is not gold. No-frills cowboy Evan learned that lesson the hard way while married to a rodeo princess, a relationship that was all flash and no substance. At least Evan held on to his daughter, Cheyenne, and his best friend, Brooks, when the sparkle wore off and things fell apart. Life could be a lot worse.

But it could also be better… if Evan and Brooks took a step beyond friendship. Just as they start to explore their feelings, Evan’s ex-wife sticks her nose in to sabotage them. Suddenly everything is up in the air, and they have difficult choices to make about the rodeo, Cheyenne, and the romance they both want so badly to pursue

First edition published by Torquere Press, November 2007.

 

Author Bio:

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

https://www.facebook.com/juliatalbotauthor

Happy Release Day to Roe Horvat!

July 19, 2017

Roe Horvat

 

I feel like I’ve written all the words already. Nevertheless, here I am facing a blank page again. Just a few more sentences—it shouldn’t be that hard, right? I can hear the goblins laughing evilly.

I can only save myself by being concise. There’s an excerpt of The Layover below. The blog tour continues tomorrow with the next part of The Swiss Experiment (it’s a prequel to The Layover; you can find it on my website: http://roehorvat.com/swiss-experiment-1/ —the post will grow as the blog tour continues.)

The Layover is being released today. I’m forever thankful to my editor, Rose, and the wonderful staff at Dreamspinner Press for making me feel like I can do this. Malin, I’m going to spread a picnic blanket under your pedestal, sit there and just stare adoringly for all eternity or at least until the wind blows away the dust off my bones. I don’t think I would have made it without Grace, Hans, Jay, Xenia, Ben, Frederick, Phetra, Brandon, and all those kind people who beta-read for me, reviewed the ARC, advised me, or simply talked to me and helped me to keep my head above water. I’m humbled by how much kindness I’ve received from virtual strangers. I hope to pay back a part of my debt in happy endings.

Love

Roe

 

Check out The Layover today!

Layover[The]_postcard_front_DSP

Amazon
Dreamspinner Press
Kobo
GoodReads

 

Blurb:

Eight years ago, Ondro Smrek fled Slovakia and the bigotry that drove his first lover to take his own life. The demons proved impossible to outrun, though, and now, desperate for somewhere to belong, Ondro is returning to start over. During a layover in Basel, Switzerland, he meets Jamie, an American living in Scotland who is as brilliant as he is beautiful.
Jaded Ondro never would have guessed he could fall in love during a brief layover—until now. When he is put in a position to offer Jamie comfort without hope of recompense, Ondro doesn’t hesitate. Soon, he catches a glimpse of the home he longs for. But with their separation looming, confessing his feelings would only lead to pain and humiliation. Life has taught Ondro not to hope, but then, he never believed in love at first sight either.

 

About Roe Horvat:

Queer author, storyteller & graphic designer
Roe was born in former Czechoslovakia and endured a miserable adolescence in the post-communist wasteland. Equipped with a dark sense of sarcasm, they left for Germany and later, Spain.
Finally, they settled in Sweden, where the weather is nasty but the freedom great. Roe works as a motion graphics artist, loves Jane Austen, Douglas Adams and everything in between, preferably by the fireplace with a strawberry daiquiri in hand. Roe writes contemporary romantic fiction – it conveniently balances out their real-life pragmatism.
When not hiding in the studio doing graphics, Roe can be found trolling cafés in Gothenburg, writing, and people-watching.

Get in touch with the Roe:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/roe.horvat.98
Website: https://www.roehorvat.com

 

Excerpt:

He studied the empty glass like there were secret inscriptions on it. I don’t know where it came from, but I felt as if the moment were pivotal. As if whatever he said next would mean a lot. Possibly more than I’d like.

He put the glass down and looked at his hands, intertwining and twirling his fingers. “I got to go on this trip only because a colleague of mine got sick. Otherwise, they would never send a lowly minion like me. And sure, it was about work primarily. There was a meet-up about stem cell therapy in ophthalmology.” He stopped himself with a wave of his hand. A very graceful hand. “Never mind. I had a few days off in Zurich. I wanted to try something new, maybe let a little loose… I didn’t expect anything to be life-changing, just maybe get a little taste of a slightly different lifestyle. Nothing crazy or dangerous.

“But my friend, she had this idea that it was supposed to be more of an adventure. She bought me a travel pack of some stuff, you know. Like a go-out-and-get-laid kit. Ginny’s a bit weird. And she gave me the hat. She made me promise that I’d wear that thing.” He gestured toward the hideous headgear and sighed again. I sensed that I wouldn’t like the direction of his speech. “I googled some crazy club and tried to go out in Zurich. And I felt like an alien there, exposed. It’s ridiculous but getting hit on only freaked me out. It’s not my thing. In the end, I was ready to go home, looking forward to it even. And then….” He stopped talking and threw his hands up in the air, scrunched his face in apparent frustration. With me? With himself? With the boundaries of the English vocabulary? “And now you are sitting here flirting with me. And I… I’m sorry. I like you, I do. You’re funny and hot as hell. But I’m not….” He waved a hand in the air again, fishing for the right words. There weren’t any. “I’m not comfortable with one-night stands. I’m sorry.” He paused and seemed to brace himself before delivering the final blow. “I should go to bed. Long day tomorrow.”

It wasn’t my first I-like-you-but conversation. I was a champion of those too. More often pitching those than receiving, but still. I knew the game, but this time, it tasted bitter. Maybe it was because I was in a weird place in my head, feeling like the world was changing around me, and I was changing, and my life was at a crossroad, and it was all a chaos like a freaking Hungarian goulash soup. The world was bleak, and I didn’t want to let go of the only one still colorful, even vibrant thing in it. Since I felt that clingy, I should have ripped off the Band-Aid, fast.

“It’s a shame,” I said. He was probably the most interesting guy I’d met in months. Or years to be honest. Such a damned shame. “But tomorrow we’re flying away from here in opposite directions.” That shy smile he gave me…. So, so sweet. “I understand. I guess I respect it even.”

He had to think I was a slut. By some standards, I probably was. I stood, stretched my arms, and finished: “I’ve had a lovely evening. Thank you for not ditching me sooner.” It sounded whiney, and I winced inwardly. I gave him yet another crooked smirk and went to the bar. I took a napkin, borrowed a pen, and scribbled down a number. I went back, put it on the table in front of him, and he looked at me, frowning.

“In case you change your mind.”

I went all the way this time, and the odds were against me. But I would bang my head against the wall later if I didn’t try one last time.

He stared at the napkin for a second and scratched his temple. He lifted his large tired eyes at me, and my heart started beating a little faster.

“Thanks. Have a good flight tomorrow,” he said. The coffin snapped shut, the dirt was scattered on the lid, black shadowy figures stood in the rain, heads down—with that kind of finality.

I would remember him forever. If only for the hopeless kind of lonely he made me feel. So lonely, like I was at the bottom of a crater on the dark side of the moon, the temperature was absolute zero, and the last space shuttle left days ago.

My gaze slid over the napkin with my room number on it, and suddenly I felt like an ass. He was so much better than that kind of shit.

“Sorry for that.” I gestured toward the napkin briefly and went away, not looking back.

I was on the verge of a new era, trying to reclaim my life. Apparently, that made me vulnerable as fuck. I dragged my sorry ass upstairs, stripped, and packed my bag, in case I wanted to sleep in the next day and would have to leave in a hurry.

I brushed my teeth, took a piss, washed my hands, and blew my nose. Then I was lying in the strange bed unable to fall asleep. I felt a little cold but too lazy to get up and look for a T-shirt.

Funny and hot as hell, he said. It sounded lame, forgettable. And true. There were twenty-five of me in every gay bar in every larger city in Europe. And he was brilliant, genuine, most beautifully human, and real.

Jamie. His name was Jamie.

 

Venetian Memory Lane by Luca Domani

July 14, 2017

Venetian memory lane

 

Venice is a city dear to my heart. When I was younger, I dreamed of travelling there every year, but then graduate school happened. Still, I was fortunate enough to visit Venice more than once. My memories of the city are still vivid even though I haven’t been back for several years. So when I was given a chance to write a story for Dreamspinner’s World of Love series, I knew I had to go back to Venice, if only in my imagination.

Venice is charming and beautiful throughout the year, but in the colder months, it becomes even more enchanting. I set Tom and Giovanni’s story during this time, when Venice is quiet and rainy.  It is the off season and the city is returned to the Venetians after a long and crowded summer. Visitors can take in the sights at a slower pace, and perhaps pretend that they too are Venetian, if only for the moment. It is the perfect backdrop for falling in love.

Inevitably, Giovanni and Tom’s adventures in Venice draw inspiration from my own experiences. It was fun reliving these moments while I was writing. One of these scenes is at the very beginning of the book. Tom arrives in Venice during acqua alta, when the water level rises. The resulting flooding affects the neighborhood in which Tom’s hotel is located. Tom is greeted by several inches of water both inside and outside of his hotel. Fortunately, his room is dry, but he still must find some dinner. With no desire to venture farther than necessary for food, he wanders into the pizzeria next door, where Giovanni works. Alas, here the similarities end – there was no handsome Venetian flirting with me in the pizzeria next door!

Another memory that makes its way into the story is visiting Piazza San Marco at night. On my first trip to Venice, I stayed at a hotel close to the famous piazza. Late one night, I decided to spend some time in the square. To my delight, I found myself to be one of the very few people there at the time. It was like having my own little piece of Venice. I knew that if I ever came back, I’d have to do it again, and now it has become a tradition. For Giovanni, the piazza at night has been a haven since he was a teenager, a place for him to find some peace in a small crowded city, even in summer. Tom is the first person with whom he shares this special space, and now I have shared it with you. If you ever have the chance to go, I also recommend stopping by a bar along the way and picking up some beer and bruschetta to savor in your own private Piazza San Marco.

I truly enjoyed visiting Venice through this story, and I hope you will too! I invite you to continue the journey with Tom and Giovanni in An American in VeniceBuon viaggio!

 

Check out An American in Venice today!

 

AmericanInVenice[an]_postcard_front_DSP

 

Blurb: 

Tom has always been steady and predictable—a formula he’s sure will lead him to success in his career. When his method fails him and he loses his job, he throws caution to the wind for the first time in his life and books a European holiday.

Maybe Tom shouldn’t be surprised that Cupid’s arrow finds him in one of the most romantic cities in the world: Venice, Italy. When he encounters Giovanni working in the family pizzeria, it’s lust at first sight. Their time together touring the city is so magical it feels like a dream. But Tom is shy while Giovanni is charming and flirtatious. Tom has a newfound freedom with his unemployment, while family burdens weigh heavily on Giovanni. Add culture differences and miscommunication into the mix, and their brief romance might fade as quickly as the beautiful dream it resembles.

World of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the globe.

 

Author Bio:

Luca has been writing stories since childhood. Although he has a doctorate in engineering, he has never given up on his dream of being a writer. He adores science fiction and is partial to postapocalyptic epics with zombie hordes, but at heart, he is a hopeless romantic. Luca is married to his high school sweetheart, who is his muse and the love of his life. They reside in Massachusetts with their dog and cat. An American in Venice is his second publication outside of a technical journal.
Email: gianluca.domani@gmail.com

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!

 

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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

Family Love w/ Tray Ellis

June 28, 2017

Family Love

 

Hello readers! My name is Tray Ellis and I’m excited to be here today for the opportunity to discuss my new story Pyresnakes, available starting on June 28th (today!) through Dreamspinner Press.

Here’s the Pyresnakes story summary to get you up to speed:

There is another world existing alongside the one most see everyday, and although it is a place of magic and wonder, the dangers are very real. 

Aran, an artist, grew up on his grandmother’s tales of the Side-by-Side world. He never expected his knowledge of folklore would aid his boyfriend, Brandon, in an arson investigation, but the snakes that burst into flames when agitated are something he recalls from those childhood stories. 

When Aran vanishes, Brandon knows his time as a State Trooper won’t help find him, so he enlists the aid of Aran’s grandmother, Ruth, and they venture into the Side-by-Side world.  

But Aran has no memory of his life prior to crossing between worlds, and he’s enjoying the company of his handsome new companion, Ren. Even if Brandon and Ruth reach him, convincing him to return to his former home won’t be easy. In a contemporary fairy-tale adventure set among forests and trails, Aran must choose between a mystical fantasy world and the man he loves.

 

~*~

 

Although Pyresnakes is a decidedly romantic story, with a great couple in Brandon and Aran, this is also a story about family love. Aran’s grandmother, Ruth, plays a strategic role when she becomes Brendon’s guide and advisor through the new world of the Side-by-Side.  Ruth is an unusual choice for such a prominent character in a romantic story. She’s much older and a family member. The reader may think she’ll actually slow Brandon down, but she doesn’t! Her involvement in the story is crucial, and I think she’s a perfect fit for her role.

In her youth, Ruth had to overcome the circumstances of her life when what she wanted for herself clashed with her family’s expectations. She spent time having her own adventures and making her own friends in the Side-by-Side world. Part of her strength comes from her innate personality and from the time she had independence and freedom.  Her youthful adventures, along with her years of experience, give her a perspective and a calm wisdom that is needed to assist Brandon.  He is full of deep worry and concern as he embarks on his rescue mission, and Ruth helps keep him moving forward.

Less overt, but still central, is Ruth’s love for her grandson and her genuine fondness and acceptance of the man he’s chosen as his partner. Aran is like his grandmother. He can walk in the Side-by-Side just as she can, and she adores that someone in her family has inherited that trait from her, even as she cautions him about it. She understands what he is going through because she’s gone through it, too. Her responses and empathy are all the more impressive because this time around, she is on the opposite end of the situation. She’s been left behind, along with Brandon, while Aran has gone on an adventure.

When Brandon calls to tell her that Aran has gone missing, she never hesitates. She is ready to support Brandon and Aran in whatever way she can. It’s a testament to the love of her family that she becomes so involved.

 

~*~

Excerpt:

Brandon scanned the area, but he didn’t see a trail. With enough determination, a person could push through the vegetation and rocks, but it would be rough going. There was no reason he could see for Aran to decide to go off trail at this point. He also couldn’t detect any sign of a person leaving the trail. None of the branches were broken, no footprints marred the dirt, and the moss and ferns looked beautifully intact. “I don’t agree,” he said. “There aren’t any signs of someone stepping on anything. Aran’s careful, but he isn’t a ghost.”

Ruth made an aggravated noise. “You can’t see it.” She clutched a handful of Brandon’s shirt and pulled him to the side of the path.

“Hey,” he said, jerking back. There was nothing at the edge but trees and weeds, rocks and stones. Ruth’s grip was tight, and she tugged harder than he’d expected. He tottered off-balance, and his feet skidded off the trail. For a moment, everything grew confused. Then his orientation returned, and he realized a side trail did join the first. It was almost comically obvious, since it stretched three feet wide and sloped straight down, as if hewn out with the help of a straightedge.

Ruth let go. “Do you see it now?”

“Where did this come from?” Brandon asked. He turned in a circle. He noted the first trail and then the obvious junction where the second one branched off. He stepped backward onto the original trail, but the second trail remained clearly present. Brandon moved forward again. He scratched at the side of his face, trying to piece it together. “Shit,” he said. “I couldn’t see it thirty seconds ago.” He looked over to find Ruth watching him with bemusement.

“Aran saw this,” she said. “Like I see it and now you do too.”

 

~*~

Here is my gorgeous cover, by the talented artist Christine Griffin, which contains so many important elements of the story itself, and definitely lets you know this is going to be adventurous as well as amorous:

 

Check out Pyresnakes today!

~*~

Tray Ellis grew up across from an empty field, where she spun a lot of imaginary adventures, helping to prepare her for a lifetime of writing. When she isn’t writing, she stays active by hiking, cooking, stacking the odd cord of wood in the shed, baking, and being too busy to keep her home in any semblance of order. Currently she tries to find a balance between the logical way she thinks and the flights of fancy she often daydreams about. Mostly, the daydreams are winning.

Website: trayellis.dreamwidth.org
Facebook: www.facebook.com/tray.ellis.54
Blog: trayellis.blogspot.com
Twitter: @TrayEllisWrites

Patron: Historical and Paranormal Shenanigans w/ C.B. Lewis

June 20, 2017

Historical & Paranormal Shenanigans

 

Hello again! This is C.B. Lewis and I’m back with my new novella, Patron. You may know my writing from the Out of Time Series or from Private Truths, but Patron is something new and a little bit exciting:

Theodore Wentworth, who possesses little more than a sharp and well-educated mind, is trying to solicit a sponsor for his studies of Greek antiquity by performing recitations at gatherings of collectors. Desperate for luck and better skills in oratory, in jest, he places a coin at the feet of a statue of Hermes. It seems like coincidence when his fortune turns and a gentleman calling himself Alexander becomes his benefactor. Despite his friend John teasing him about it, Theodore continues to offer tokens to Hermes and sinks himself into his study of the classics.

Alexander encourages Theodore’s interest, prompting Theodore to face desires he tried to put aside years before. As Theodore embraces the knowledge, he must also resist his attraction to Alexander—knowing his feelings are a serious crime in Victorian England.

But the secret Alexander keeps will change everything in a love story for the ages, steeped in taboo, temptation, history, and myth.

 

____________________________________________________

 

 

Yes, I’m doing historical, paranormal shenanigans :) I will freely admit that I’m a giant history nerd. I’ve bounced around many periods over the years and Patron is a union of two of the eras I know best: Victorian and Ancient Greek with a tasty splash of paranormal thrown in for good measure.

I’ve always been kind of fascinated with the Victorian obsession with Ancient Greece. Byron was especially famous for it (among… ahem… other things) and it got me wondering about the next generation on from him, the ones who had all these wealthy and influential Philhellenes to look up to and how someone from lower down the social scale would see them. It was going to start life as a character study and then the plot – and the divine – got in the way and lo, novella!

It’s been a fun respite from the rest of the Out of Time series, which is getting into its final stages, plus now the mythology bug has bitten again, I suspect I may fall back into more historical and mythology-based fiction :)

So back to you, my lovely readers. Which kind of mythology would you love to see incorporated into fiction more often? I know I would definitely love to see more of the Polynesian lore and mythology. Maori mythology alone is fascinating and I’ve barely even dipped my toe in that pool. How about you?

Check out Patron today!

 

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About C.B. Lewis:

A book-lover from infancy, C.B. has been writing and telling stories for as long as she can remember. Based in Edinburgh, she has diverse tastes and will quite happily attempt to write any genre, but always come back to history, fantasy, and sci-fi like an old friend. C. B. Lewis is small and Scottish and can often be spotted perched around historical monuments with her notepad and pen. She has been writing and telling tales for almost as long as she can remember, and has a brain that constantly fizzes with an abundance of ideas. If she’s not working on half a dozen things at once, it should be considered a slow day. She loves to travel and just has one continent left to complete her travel bingo card. A lot of the travel has also been research-based, and if pointed at any historical event, she will research it vociferously, just because she can. Normally, she is based in Edinburgh, where she tends toward the hermit-lifestyle, needing nothing but a kettle, a constant supply of tea, and – of course – the internet. There are no cats, no puppies, no significant others, only a lot of ideas, and an awful lot of typing. And occasionally, cake. Never forget the cake.

http://cb-lewis.tumblr.com/
https://www.facebook.com/CB-Lewis-369293759939573/

 

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