October 7, 2015
Hi. Nic Starr here. I’m joining you today to talk a little about my upcoming release, More Than a Friend. I wanted to talk a little about the book, and the topic of friends.
I had an interesting discussion this week with an old friend of mine, someone I’ve known since high school. Actually, she’s my one and only good friend from those days. You see I’m one of those people who are happy to socialize but I don’t collect a huge group of friends. I have my best girlfriend from school, my best friend from my first long term job, and a best friend from mother’s group. I am extraordinarily close with my sister who lives only two street away, and I have my ‘new’ best friend. Our social circle includes my husband’s best mates and their families, but it is a relatively small group.
So back to the conversation. My friend and I were talking about quality of friendships versus quantity of friendships (of course quality won), and what we expected out of relationships. The discussion drifted to online friends, and the value of relationships via social media. She was quite surprised to find I communicate MORE OFTEN with people I’ve met online and haven’t even met in ‘real-life’. She was amazed to find that something as simple as a shared love of a reading genre, and passion to support same love, could bring a group of people together in such a personal way.
The conversation reminded me how lucky I am to have good people in all areas of my life. I know people who would drop everything if I asked for help, friends to take me in their arms for big hugs, and friends to have fun with and share special moments. But I also have a great group of online friends who are available all hours of the day and night, to provide laughter or comfort or just help me feel like I’m not alone.
This month, October, feels like a special month for friends.
Firstly, I’ll be spending a week with my ‘new’ bestie. We met online a couple of years ago, through our love of m/m romance, and a lasting friendship has formed. We message and talk on the phone every day, and we’ve spent a few weekends together (she lives on the other side of the country to me), but this trip is the two of us going on a BIG adventure so is extra special. You see, we are travelling from Australia to the USA! Yay!
The trip is for GRL, where I am looking forward to meeting and spending times with readers and authors alike. I’m looking forward to putting faces to names, and maybe sharing a hug or two with the people I only know online. It will be a special time.
Finally, the 7th October sees the release of More Than a Friend. This is a friends-to-lovers story. If you’ve read More Than a Superstar, you would have sensed the tension between Tim and Scott. In More Than a Friend, I was able to give these guys their happy ever after. Of course, they need to overcome a number of obstacles once they admit their attraction to one another, including the fact that Tim is best friends with Scott’s brother, so an interesting look at the family/friend dynamic.☺
I’m leaving in a week for San Diego. Hopefully I’ll have a chance to meet many of you while I’m there.
How about I leave you with a giveaway?
If you’d like to win an eBook copy of one of my backlist titles, leave a comment on this blog post. All you need to do is share a story about where you met your best friend. Good luck. ☺
Have a great day!
And for those of you interested, here are the details of my latest release.
More Than a Friend – The Blurb
Tim Walker is a free man. He’s broken up with his girlfriend and is ready to move on to a new relationship. But the relationship he wants to pursue is fraught with challenges. Firstly, Scott Richardson is a man, and only Tim’s closest friends know Tim’s bisexual. Secondly, everyone knows Scott relishes the single life. And then there’s the big one: Scott is the younger brother of Tim’s best friend, Paul.
Scott can’t deny an attraction to his brother’s friend Tim. Lean, dark-blond, and blue-eyed, Tim is hot and hard not to notice—especially since Scott and Tim work together. Too bad the man is straight, and too bad Scott worries how Paul will react if Scott hooks up with his best friend.
Tim and Scott want to see if there’s a chance for more than friendship between them, but neither of them wants to lose Paul. Together, they must find the courage to follow their hearts and find a way to have it all.
About Nic Starr
Nic Starr lives in Australia where she tries to squeeze as much into her busy life as possible. Balancing the demands of a corporate career with raising a family and writing can be challenging but she wouldn’t give it up for the world.
Always a reader, the lure of m/m romance was strong and she devoured hundreds of wonderful m/m romance books before eventually realising she had some stories of her own that needed to be told!
When not writing or reading, she loves to spend time with her family—an understanding husband and two beautiful daughters—and is often found indulging in her love of cooking and planning her dream home in the country.
You can find Nic on Facebook, Twitter and her blog. She’d love it if you stopped by to say hi.
Website & Blog: http://www.nicstarr.com
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Nic-Starr/e/B00MAWRRQG/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/NicStarrAuthor
October 5, 2015
Hi, everyone! Shell Taylor here, and I’m over-the-moon excited to share my very first release, Redeeming Hope, the first book of the Home for Hope series. This story is so close to my heart for many reasons, but the most obvious is it’s my first published story. My baby. My firstborn. I feel like my child is heading off to college as I get ready to ship the book off to you. This particular baby of mine, this little plot bunny that hopped around in my head for months started out as a playful-but-angsty story inspired from a picture of two celebrities dressed to the nines in their tuxes. One of my favorite things about writing, though, is that literally anything can become an unplanned detour, and that’s exactly what happened when I fell in love with one of the secondary characters.
Adam and Elijah were supposed to live in a world where discrimination was nearly non-existent. Adam was a college professor, and Elijah was meant to be a personable asshole. (I had lofty goals!) While they struggled to figure out their attraction to one another and how, or even if, they wanted to make a go at a relationship, this kid name dKollin would wreak havoc with those plans. And then I wrote Kollin’s first scene. He was such an effervescent, breath of fresh air, I immediately scrapped my entire plot. Adam became the founder of an LGBT center so he could give today’s youth options he himself didn’t have as a teen. Elijah became a closeted bisexual, who after a great tragedy in his life locked away his heart. And the force of nature that is Kollin demanded his own story of rejection be told on behalf of the scared, lost, hurt, and voiceless.
In a lot of ways, Redeeming Hope tells the story of why I began writing M/M romance. Like many others, I fell in love with the genre hard and fast. As an avid reader, I found the different dynamic, chemistry, and personalities of two male main characters refreshing. The vast diversity of the genre enabled me to discover more ways to support the community and enlightened me to issues that I didn’t know still existed. Through Kollin’s story, it quickly became clear that what I really wanted to do was write a story about how I see the LGBTQ+ community—strong, brave, flawed, loved, sometimes rejected—and be sure my own admiration for not only surviving but thriving shined through.
A recurring theme throughout the series is how sometimes we meet people who unexpectedly change our lives. I’d love for you all to share an experience about an individual who made a tremendous impact on your life. The kicker—this person never realized how profoundly his or her actions affected you?
To be fair, I’ll go first! I’ve met a few people who’ve helped me more than they know, but I’ll go with the most recent. I’m pretty shy, so when my husband got a new job about two years ago, and we moved away from all of our friends and family, I was absolutely terrified to meet new people. And so I didn’t. As a stay-at-home mom, there were no opportunities for me to form friendships on the job, and I had no other social opportunities besides church. Even for an introvert, this can get a bit depressing! Finally, after about a year of attending a really wonderful and open-minded church that we truly love, I got an email from one of the members, inviting us to the new Sunday school class. Through that class, I’ve been able to create individual and familial friendships I never would’ve had otherwise, and I never would’ve taken the step to join the class without that simple email. Even though I thanked the sender afterward, he will probably never know how grateful I am for his invitation. After all, he was just trying to grow his class!
So now it’s your turn! I can’t wait to hear from you guys. DSP will select one of you to receive a free copy of Redeeming Hope, so don’t be shy! I hang out a lot on Facebook, but you can find me on Twitter and Tumblr too (where I reblog a lot of stuff about comics, hot guys, Once Upon a Time, and food)!
Check out Redeeming Hope!
October 2, 2015
Hello everyone, I’m L. J. LaBarthe and I’m here to talk about my new release, “A Candle in the Sun.”
This book is the final book in my series, “The Archangel Chronicles.” It’s a little bittersweet for me, because it is the last book and it’s the end of working with these characters who have occupied much of my time and my brain. I have loved every moment of working on this series and I hope that readers have enjoyed it as much as I have.
“A Candle in the Sun” was conceived along with the previous two books just prior to my moving house. I wrote the book while I was in the middle of packing boxes and let me tell you, there’s nothing more exhausting than packing all the things you own when you want to get back to a book! I had the first draft down when I moved, and then when I was in my new home, I discovered something horrifying, nay, terrifying and beyond any disaster I can describe.
I had no internet.
This was the case for about six weeks and it was because I live in a valley and our cable/fiber network here in Australia isn’t that great. My ISP had to put an antenna on the roof of the place, and of course they couldn’t do that while it was raining and wet. And what happened in the first six weeks of writing? If you guessed that it rained and wet, you are spot on. It was incredibly frustrating because I needed to check things, and I had edits to do and it was just one of those times you want to bang your head on the wall and scream. Thankfully, once the internet was connected, I could get back into things but not having the internet right there at my fingertips made me realize just how much I relied on it for research.
The characters in the book rely on the internet as well—Max, the hacker character, provides a lot of information to lovers Gabriel and Michael and to their allies. Archangels they might be, but the two of them are not well versed in the ways of the internet, and their frustration was quite easy to relate to once I had no internet myself!
I’d always intended this book to be the end of this “chapter” if you will for the couples in the series. Michael and Gabriel are together, as are Raziel and Uriel, Adramelek and Lucifer, Baxter and Liam, and many others. They go through many ups and downs, some supernatural and paranormal, some not. Baxter has paranoias that Liam may not love him; Michael wonders why Gabriel stays with him when Michael thinks he himself is not that desirable; Adramelek can’t believe his luck that Lucifer wants him; Raziel fears that Uriel may get bored with him. And in between all of this is a conspiracy to destroy all non-Earth life—angels, demons, shifters, monsters—by a group of fearful, greedy humans.
Love and fear are two great motivators. The main characters are motivated by both—the love they have for each other in their romantic relationships, and for their nearest and dearest and the fear they have that they will be forever banished from the place that they’ve called home or treated as home for as long as they can remember. None of them want to give that up, and none of them want to lose the simple things that I think all of us want: freedom to live in peace, freedom to love and freedom to live without fear.
I’m doing a giveaway of “A Candle in the Sun.” To win a copy, leave a comment answering the following question: Name one of the couples listed above and what their relationship fears or worries are.
A lot of the action takes place in country Montana, which, the internet tells me, is absolutely beautiful. If you had to pick a place that was picturesque and good for a battle between the forces of good and evil, where would you choose?
There are a lot of characters in this book as in the preceding eight, but there is also a dramatis personae and I hope that I’ve done them all as much justice as they deserve. This series has been a labor of love for the last several years, now is time for me to move on. I’m making notes for a planned vampire detective quartet, and have a little book of many notes for other novels that I’m sure will end up being written. (I hope!)
Thanks for joining me today, and once again, please join in the conversation and giveaway.
Cheerio from Australia,
L. J. LaBarthe.
October 1, 2015
Hello, I’m Amber Kell. Dreamspinner Press was kind enough to let me post about my new release Keys. I’m super excited about this book. Keys is my first story that is over sixty thousand words long. I know some authors can type that out half asleep while balancing a baby on their right knee and petting the dog with their left foot, but for me it took a lot of effort.
Dreamspinner said I should write about what inspired me. I don’t usually have an answer for that. I get ideas walking down by the water, driving my kids to school or doing laundry, however this time I actually have an answer to that question. My ideas about the City of Keys started when I took the Underground Tour in Seattle. I live in Seattle for those of you who’ve never heard of me and I get a lot of inspiration from the city. Anyway, the Underground Tour is where they take you below the city streets and show you what it was like when it was built over when fire swept through downtown in the 19th century. They show you old shop fronts and explain about the history of the city. It’s really quite a good tour if you happen to be in town.
My tour beneath the ground had me thinking about what else could be buried. When I went to London I walked the narrow cobblestone streets and took in the history and began to think steampunkish thoughts. I have to admit I don’t read a lot of steampunk so let’s go that mine is steampunk inspired and leave it at that. It was my trip to Paris that solidified my ideas. After visiting the Paris Catacombs I went to a church crypt. Walking down the halls of the crypt and seeing all the locked iron doors had my idea for Keys springing to life.
I asked myself what if a city locked all its magic underneath the city streets?
That is the thought that triggered my City of Keys trilogy. A city where magic is considered too dangerous to be out in the world so they chained it below and away from its citizens. How would if affect their way of life and what would happen if it suddenly became free? Most books start with a what if and that was mine. Check out Keys to find out what I did with that concept. Buy link: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6897
I’ll be giving away a $25.00 Amazon GC to one lucky person. To enter the contest, tell me what magical ability you’d find the most useful.
September 28, 2015
Hey, everyone, I’m Melanie, a frazzled and busy mom of two preteen boys (Lord, give me strength!). My little family is also about to face our 8th Navy move in 15 years, so things are a little hectic at the moment. But today I’m so excited to talk about my recent release with Dreamspinner Press, Signs of Life, the second book in my Resilient Love series! I love Kai and Jeremy with all my heart; they are very, very special to me. Sometimes, very rarely, a story just flows, and writing it is easy and natural; that’s how Signs of Life was for me. Despite the heavy themes of grief and loss, something I really want readers to take away from this book is the delight Kai and Jeremy both take in their friendship with secondary characters Loren and Jase. That’s what I would like to talk about today in this post, the dynamics of their friendship, and I’m also going to share a deleted scene and an exclusive excerpt with you.
Along with the romantic relationship enjoyed by the main characters in Signs of Life – Jeremy Speer and Kai Daniels – a major element of the story is their friendships with others. In real life no couple in a healthy relationship exists in a vacuum, and in my stories, I try to weave in secondary characters who are very important to the main couple. We all have friends who fulfill various needs in our lives separate and apart from our significant others, and my book characters are no different.
Jeremy and Jase
Jeremy Speer and Jase DeSantis (my romantic lead from Everything Changes) are high school friends and lovers who reconnected as adults. They have some history, but they hadn’t been all that close in recent years. When Jeremy’s husband is fatally injured in a car accident, Jase is the first one Jeremy thinks to call, and Jase, being the innate caretaker that he is, drops everything to be there for him at Brent’s death and the immediate aftermath.
This deleted scene gives you a glimpse into their relationship, and how important they are to each other. Their friendship is one of the foundations of Jeremy’s character development, and although this scene didn’t make it into the book for several reasons, I love it, and I wanted to share it:
Jeremy couldn’t even count how many times he’d stumbled out of the guest bedroom in the middle of the night to find Jase already up, wrestling with his own demons. Jase would never talk about the war with him, though, his eyes haunted and full of pain.
One particularly bad night, wanting and needing some physical forgetfulness, Jeremy made a clumsy sexual advance, pushing Jase back into the cushions of the couch and kissing him with a sort of panicked desperation. Jase cupped Jeremy’s face in his hands and responded briefly, letting Jeremy deepen the kiss, but when Jeremy reached between Jase’s legs to touch him, Jase caught his hand, kissing the palm and squeezing his fingers before gently pushing him away.
“Jase, please, I need you,” Jeremy begged, clutching at him. Jase disengaged Jeremy’s hands again and knelt on the floor at his feet, resting his hands lightly on Jeremy’s knees.
“No, babe, this isn’t what we need from each other right now,” Jase said softly. “Not like this.”
In an agony of embarrassment, Jeremy pushed Jase away and stood, bracing his hands against the nearest wall and breathing deeply, trying to find some control over his emotions and losing the battle. He felt Jase come up behind him and wrap his arms around his waist, anchoring him as Jeremy fell apart once again. He turned and buried his face in Jase’s neck as he sobbed, “I just miss him so much.”
Jase rocked him, rubbing his hands up and down Jeremy’s back, kissing the top of his head over and over as they rode out the storm together. Afterwards, weak with emotional overload, Jeremy let Jase lead him to his bedroom and pull him down onto the rumpled bed. Jase spooned up to Jeremy’s back and held him close as he whispered, “One day at a time, bud. One day at a time.”
Jase’s words, so simple yet so powerful, struck Jeremy like nothing else had. One day at a time. He didn’t have to worry about how he’d get through next month, next week or even the next fucking day. All he had to do was get through this day, and he needed to stop trying to use people, or drugs, or alcohol, to do it. If Brent could see him now, a sad, defeated and broken man, he’d be devastated.
For weeks Jase had been touting the benefits of yoga, so Jeremy tried it a few times, deciding it wasn’t for him. But running…running calmed him, focused him, quieted the noise in his head like nothing else could. He and Jase ran together as much as possible, and soon Jeremy was outdistancing him, running for hours, coming back to the apartment in a pleasant state of physical and mental exhaustion. He started sleeping better, and it was becoming easier to ride out the bad days.
Jeremy had learned to exist, and that was more than he could have hoped for a year ago.
When Jase got home from work one night, Jeremy told him that he was finally ready to move on. There was a flash of relief in Jase’s eyes, quickly masked, even as he protested that Jeremy could stay as long as he needed to.
“I have, Jase,” Jeremy said quietly. “I’ve stayed as long as I needed to. It’s time for me to make my own life and leave you to yours.”
“Will you move to your Coronado house, then?” Jase asked. They were sitting on Jase’s small balcony, sipping cups of coffee.
“No, I don’t want to live in San Diego anymore. Too many memories. I need a fresh start, a totally fresh start.”
“Where will you go? I assume back to Florida isn’t an option, for the same reason.”
Jeremy nodded. “I asked my realtor to look for listings in Northern California, and she actually stumbled across this.”
He pulled a folded piece of paper out of his jeans pocket and handed it over. Jase perused it with a raised eyebrow.
“Yeah. The city isn’t too big, but it’s big enough. And the running trails are supposed to be superb.”
“So you’re going to go up there and isolate yourself in this cabin in the woods – which is a fucking awesome cabin by the looks of it. ‘A Jacuzzi on the wraparound porch,’” he quoted from the listing using his best Robin Leach voice.
Jeremy shrugged, fighting a small smile despite himself.
“Fuckin’ moneybags,” Jase said without heat, tossing Jeremy’s paper back to him. Jeremy shrugged again. It was true enough.
“Jere,” Jase began tentatively. “I’m only saying this because I love you, man. I understand the fresh start, I do, but are you sure isolating yourself like this is the answer? How are you –“
“How am I ever going to meet someone?” Jeremy finished bitterly. “I don’t want to meet anyone, Jase. I had everything I ever wanted, and now he’s gone.”
“So you’re just gonna live the rest of your life alone, without companionship, without intimacy?”
“You mean without fucking? Oh, I expect that someday I’ll want to fuck. In fact, I already tried that once and got shot down.” Jeremy let his eyes travel with deliberate crudeness over Jase’s body, fury boiling through him.
“Jeremy,” Jase said earnestly, ignoring the insolent look, “you feel this way now, and I understand it –“
“Do you? Do you understand it, Jase? How can you possibly understand a goddamn thing about the way I feel? Stop shoving bullshit up my ass and let me live my life the way I fucking want!”
Now Jase was as angry as Jeremy had ever seen him, and he stood up and towered over Jeremy.
“And you don’t understand a fucking thing about me, Jere,” he hissed. “How I watched the man I love be blown into pieces right in front of my eyes, how I worked through my tears to keep him from bleeding to death right then and there. How I felt when I learned his heart had stopped twice on the way to Kabul. Fuck you!”
“But he’s alive, Jase, so fuck you!”
They were both breathing hard, staring each other down.
“Yes, he’s alive,” Jase finally whispered. “But he doesn’t want me. He’ll never want me. In a way he’s as lost to me as Brent is to you. I’ll have to watch him fall in love, and get married, maybe have children someday. I’ll have to watch him be happy with someone else. And that will fucking kill me.”
Jeremy watched the agony that suffused Jase’s face, and he set aside his own self-absorption long enough to come to terms with the fact that yes, maybe there were differing degrees of loss, but loss is still loss. He reached out and took Jase’s hand in his, squeezing his fingers.
“Jase,” he said gently. “I’m sorry. I truly am.”
Jase blinked back tears, then squeezed Jeremy’s hand in return and sat back down.
Jeremy blew out a breath. “I’m not ready for anything else, and I don’t know if I ever will be. If I even want to be, Jase. And besides, I don’t see you taking your own advice. Since I’ve been here, I haven’t seen you go on a single date.”
“I’m not ready either,” Jase said ruefully. “But at least I’m open to the possibility. I’m sorry I brought it up, but I’m worried about you. You’re just going to go stick yourself in BFE, man, and I don’t think that’s right.”
Jeremy opened his mouth to argue, and Jase held up his hand. “But it’s your life, babe. I’ll leave you to it. And I hope you know I’ll always be here for you.”
Later that night, Jeremy packed up his belongings as quietly as he could and stole out of the apartment, not before leaving Jase’s spare key on the counter along with a note: Thanks for everything.
Kai and Loren
Kai and Loren have a slightly different relationship than Jeremy and Jase do. They met as adults, each carrying some emotional baggage, and have been extremely close for eight years. They do most everything together, such as camping and hiking, or simply hanging out. Their friendship also contains an element of sexual intimacy, although Kai hates to classify Loren as a “fuck buddy” – he’s so much more than that.
They aren’t in love, but they love each other very much. Loren is Kai’s emotional support, the one he goes to when he has a problem he needs to talk out, or when he just needs a shoulder to cry on. When Kai first meets Jeremy, things are pretty rocky between them, so Kai turns to Loren more than once for a sympathetic ear and, yes, some plain talk. Loren isn’t afraid to call it as he sees it because he cares about Kai’s well-being. In this exclusive excerpt from Signs of Life, Kai has just had another upsetting encounter with Jeremy:
“You’d think he could have shared that little tidbit of info with you before he let you suck his dick,” Loren said caustically, looking up at Kai from his sprawl on Kai’s couch. It was a couple of days since the evening at Jeremy’s house, and this was the first time he’d been able to pin Loren down to talk about it.
He handed Loren a freshly opened beer and then plopped down beside him, taking a huge slug of his own.
“Honestly I think the whole evening took him by total surprise, from issuing the dinner invitation in the first place to the sex. I don’t think he’d planned it, Loren, in order to spring his ‘conditions’ on me after he got his rocks off at least once.”
“You’re nicer than I am, Kai. I’d have told him to get bent.” Loren drank some beer and then grabbed the TV remote, flipping on the TV and mindlessly scrolling through the channels so fast it made Kai dizzy.
“No, you wouldn’t have,” Kai retorted. “Jesus, the dude has suffered almost unimaginable loss. You can’t blame him for being closed off, cautious of letting anyone get close to him again.”
“He treated you like shit at the club, and what he did the other night wasn’t a whole lot better, Kai. Handing you your clothes and pushing you out the door like a john who was getting rid of a trick. Don’t let him use his loss as an excuse to be an asshole.”
“Would you turn that shit off?” Kai wrestled the remote away from Loren and clicked off the TV, throwing the remote into the chair the farthest away, knowing Loren was too comfortable and lazy to get up and go after it. “I want to talk to you about this!”
“The more you tell me, the more I want to go kick the dude’s ass,” Loren grumbled, but sipped his beer and looked at Kai expectantly. “So talk.”
Kai took a sip of his own beer, marshaling his thoughts. “He told me that the night at the club was the first sex he’d had since his husband died. When did we go, about two and a half, three months ago?”
“Something like that.”
“And he said his husband died more than two years ago. I’m the first one he’s even tried with since he lost his husband.”
“You think that makes me feel any better?” Loren asked. “To know you’re basically his rebound, his stepping stone from ‘unimaginable loss,’ as you said, back to the wild and wonderful world of dating and sex?”
“He’s got to start somewhere, Loren,” Kai said quietly. “You know I’m tough, and resilient, and obviously now I know the score. I think I can be good for him, and I won’t let him hurt me.”
Loren set his beer down on the coffee table and took Kai’s from his hand, putting it down next to his. “I know this will fall on deaf ears because you really can’t seem to help yourself, but you don’t have to save the world, Kai. You don’t have to be his little experiment boy.”
Kai sighed and leaned his head on Loren’s shoulder. “It’s not just that. I really like him, Loren. I don’t know why, exactly, but I do.”
“I know why. Because you want to fuck him,” Loren said.
Kai didn’t answer, and Loren heaved a sigh of his own. “Okay, have fun with that. Get laid, have a great time. But if he breaks your heart, so help me, I’ll break his goddamn face.”
Loren’s voice was fierce, deadly serious, and affection for him clogged Kai’s throat for a minute, making his own voice hoarse as he replied, “I know you will, man.” A short silence fell and then Kai asked, “Don’t you ever get tired of putting my broken pieces back together?”
Loren put an arm around him and hugged him close, kissing the top of his head. “Never,” he vowed in a whisper, then shoved Kai away and lunged for the remote, laughing at Kai’s curses, both of them letting the emotional tension relax into the comfort of easy friendship.
As a military brat and now a military spouse, building lasting friendships have been an ongoing challenge for me my entire life. My childhood and high school years were filled with transfers, both my family’s and my military friends’ families. Sadly, I’m not in touch with anyone from back then, even with the advent of social media.
During my 15 years as a Navy spouse, in each of our duty stations I’ve found that other military spouses hesitate to make friends with each other, because we’re eventually going to leave anyway. Oh, we’re friendly enough and we have our kids in common, but there’s nothing lasting about it. I think that’s partly why I’m fascinated with the idea of exploring close friendship in my stories.
More recently my online friends have become precious to me, because I can “take” them with me everywhere I move to. In fact, when we face another Permanent Change of Station within the next several months, and it’s such a relief to know that I don’t have to worry about losing touch with “my girls.” They’re always a tweet or a FB message away!
I’d love to hear about your experiences with friendship, the longest-lasting one you’ve had and why you’re so close. Please share in the comments! 2 lucky winners will be given a $10 Dreamspinner Press gift cards!
Signs of Life at Dreamspinner Press
September 14, 2015
Hi I’m Andrew Grey and I’m here today to talk to you a little about Love Comes Unheard. This is the fifth story in the Senses series and as you might be able to guess, this story features a main character who is deaf. The entire Senses series has main characters who are sensory impaired in some way or another. When writing a series, sometimes a story plays off another one. This is very much the case with Love Comes Unheard. After Love Comes Around, I wanted to give Wilson his own story and give little Janey someone to help mentor and show her the way as she comes of age. The amazing thing was that Garrett just showed up in my head as the perfect person to fill that niche. I didn’t set out to create him or think about the kind of character I wanted, he simply showed up and knocked on the door of my creativity.
Wilson, from Love Comes Around, simply captured my heart and I really felt he deserved his own story and to find love. He’s the perfect servant and very quiet about his life before working for Dan and what happened before he immigrated to this country. Wilson deserves to find love in his own right. He adores Dan and Connor’s three children, but he craves his own family, someone to call his own. Wilson is always putting others before himself, it’s part of what makes him good at his job, but he deserves to be the center of someone’s universe.
The stories in the Senses series all touch something special inside me. For many years the Farm series was where I went when I needed peace. I’d write those stories and they felt like coming home. I think the Senses stories have taken over the warmth and comfort for me. The characters aren’t simple, but the values and warmth in the stories always make me think of coming home to people I’ve known my entire life, the ones who surround us with joy, warmth, and encouragement when we need it most.
What I’d really like to know from you is which Senses series character is the one you’d like to be a part of your life. I’ll offer a copy of the Senses story of your choice to one lucky winner. Enjoy and enough warm hugs to last you through the coming winter.
Andrew Grey grew up in western Michigan with a father who loved to tell stories and a mother who loved to read them. He has since lived all over the country and traveled throughout the world. Andrew’s hobbies include collecting antiques, gardening, and leaving his dirty dishes anywhere but the sink.
Get your copy of Love Comes Unheard today!
August 27, 2015
Hello, I’m Diane Adams and I’m here to share the second edition release of my book Rearranging Stars. It came out yesterday and I’m super stoked to have the book available again. It was published the first time in 2011, which was a long time ago, and yet not so long I can’t remember some details about writing it. One of those details is the song that inspired the book. Guardian Angel by Red Jumpsuit Apparatus.
I first conceived the idea for the book after listening to the song. Because of the title I found myself thinking about angels and it occurred to me how crowded the world would seem if we could see the angels following us around. My imagination drifted to the idea of being the only one who could see them. Of course a story about me seeing guardian angels would be ho-hum at best, but a hot guy like Grey, oh yeah, that was another matter. With the idea for his character firmly in mind I moved on to the stage of jotting down notes and began to flesh out the rules for the angels he could see. Soon after that Drake appeared to challenge the status quo.
It’s never easy to take a stand against long held rules and traditions. It takes a kind of iron will that not everyone possesses. Heroes are born from the people willing to step forward without thought of personal cost to make a difference. Sometimes such actions require the ultimate sacrifice. Those are some of the ideas I explored as I wrote Drake and Grey’s story.
Drake is an angel. Grey is human. They are not real but even in fiction some heroes emerge bold and bright and change the world. Others wake up each day care for the people in their lives and create a safe haven for the ones they love. Daily living requires a type of heroism that is often overlooked. I believe not giving up in the face of the minutiae of life requires more strength of heart than making a grand stand.
It’s fun to write and imagine beings like guardian angels taking special care of us. Of course reality isn’t populated by hot angels with magnificent wings, but the lucky among us have people in our lives watching over us. Those who love us not just during the best times but in all the times. They are sometimes those we expect, like family members, but sometimes a guardian angel turn out to be someone who takes us completely by surprise.
Thank you for stopping by today. Do you have a guardian angel in your life? Please take a few minutes to share the story with us. I’m looking forward to reading all about them and will give away a free book to someone randomly drawn from those who share their story with me.
I’d like to take a moment to thank everyone at DreamSpinner Press who have helped with the rerelease of my book. Rearranging Stars isn’t my first time working with DreamSpinner. I published a few short stories several years ago. This is my first book published with them and I’ve enjoyed the experience very much. The editing experience was wonderful. My editors were supportive and helpful. My cover, created by the incredibly talented Paul Richmond, is a dream come true. When I saw the initial cover sketch I felt as if he had pulled an image of the passionate tenderness shared between Drake and Grey straight from my mind. The detail of Grey’s fingers tangled in black feathers. Perfection.
I am so proud of this edition of Rearranging Stars. I sincerely hope you enjoy it.
Get Rearranging Stars here!
Please keep in touch!
My website: http://dianeadams.virtualdelusions.com/
Facebook: Diane Adams
August 24, 2015
Does a certain place speak to you, resonate in your mind and soul? I’m Kim Fielding, and today I’d like to talk about a place that does that for me. Or, more accurately, places.
Nestled in the Sierra mountains and foothills are a bunch of small towns that originated during the California gold rush. Even some of the names are evocative of their history: Placerville. Twain Harte. Angels Camp. Chinese Camp. Sutter Creek. Jamestown. Copperopolis. And while progress has marched on there as everywhere else, when you visit, you can still see the remnants of life in the 1850s. You can still get a little feel of the past.
I’m lucky enough to live close to this area, and I’m especially partial to a few of the towns clustered along or near Highway 49. Columbia, for instance, was a mining boomtown that once boasted over forty saloons. Nowadays it’s a state park, although a couple thousand people still live there. I also like Sonora, which is just a few miles away. Some of the shops on the main street have the remnants of gold mines in their basements. My family is also very fond of Murphys. The main attractions for my husband are the zillion local wineries, but the kids and I love the caves, which you can explore as long as you’re willing to go down—and back up—a lot of stairs.
To get a very good sense of the history of these towns—and because I’m a wee bit morbid—I like to visit the old cemeteries. You can see the many places people came from before heading to California and trying to strike it rich. You get a sense of how very difficult life was. Take a look at this census from Sonora’s cemetery, for instance. Fascinating. And you find some mysteries. Were Joel Cumback and Jacob Giddis lovers?
These gold rush towns were one of the main inspirations for my new book—my 13th novel!—Rattlesnake. It takes place in a fictional town modeled loosely on Angels Camp and called, well, Rattlesnake. It’s a contemporary story, but a sense of the past haunts the protagonists just as it haunts the old town. I fell in love with Jimmy and Shane, but I also fell in love with the town, with the atmosphere. It felt so real to me that last time my family was heading to Angels Camp for the weekend, I was all excited about having breakfast at Mae’s Café. Until I remembered that Mae’s exists only in my fictional Rattlesnake and not, sadly, in real life. I could really have gone for one of her cinnamon rolls.
Rattlesnake releases August 31, but you can preorder now. And for a chance to win an e-copy of any of my backlist books—that is, anything but Rattlesnake—comment here and tell me what place is special to you.
I hope when you read Rattlesnake, the town will become one of your special places too. Meanwhile, I’m off to another of my favorite locations on earth, Croatia. Ah, but that’s a future story….
A drifter since his teens, Jimmy Dorsett has no home and no hope. What he does have is a duffel bag, a lot of stories, and a junker car. Then one cold desert night he picks up a hitchhiker and ends up with something more: a letter from a dying man to the son he hasn’t seen in years.
On a quest to deliver the letter, Jimmy travels to Rattlesnake, a small town nestled in the foothills of the California Sierras. The centerpiece of the town is the Rattlesnake Inn, where the bartender is handsome former cowboy Shane Little. Sparks fly, and when Jimmy’s car gives up the ghost, Shane gets him a job as handyman at the inn.
Both within the community of Rattlesnake and in Shane’s arms, Jimmy finds an unaccustomed peace. But it can’t be a lasting thing. The open road continues to call, and surely Shane—a strong, proud man with a painful past and a difficult present—deserves better than a lying vagabond who can’t stay put for long.
You can learn more about Kim Fielding and download some free stories here: http://kfieldingwrites.blogspot.com
You can also follow her on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/KFieldingWrites
Or Twitter: @KFieldingWrites
August 21, 2015
Hello all! I’m pleased to be back on the Dreamspinner Blog to talk about the release of the third novel in my Serpentine Series: Sex, Love, and Videogames.
The Serpentine Series books are standalone contemporary novels set at the University of Virginia. Although many characters are in more than one book, each book can be read separately. Sex, Love, and Videogames features Jed Carter, who is the quiet nice guy Pete Morgan takes advantage of in Serpentine Walls. Its other main character is Charlie Ambrose, who is what U.Va. students call a “townie.” Charlie is biracial and grew up in a tight-knit African-American family and church community in Charlottesville. Besides the two main characters, the book is the story of Morocco Ambrose, Charlie’s cousin. She’s transgender and as extroverted as Charlie is introverted. Another extrovert, Jed’s best friend Myesha, rounds out the central cast of characters.
Writing Sex, Love, and Videogames surprised me. I couldn’t get a handle on Jed’s love interest. I thought it was going to be his older brother Kent’s college roommate, Tucker. But the story wasn’t going anywhere with that plot and I was having a hard time getting into Jed’s head. The light-bulb finally turned on when I realized I was again relegating Jed to the sidelines in favor of a more compelling character (Tucker), just the way Jed was relegated to the sidelines by Pete in Serpentine Walls.
With that realization, a character named Charlie emerged: a shy artist who isn’t part of the university crowd. Charlie was white when I first visualized him, but quickly he was in my head as biracial. And his amazing transgender cousin Morocco was right there with him. People think writers plan all this out in advance: “Aha! I know – I’ll have a biracial townie and his trans cousin in the Jed novel!” If I were to show you my first outlines of the story, Charlie and Morocco are nowhere to be found. But once they popped up, I went with it. And it turned out that Charlie and Jed are perfect for each other.
I grew up in the DC area, which is quite diverse, and have had many close friends of other races and ethnicities. Still, I’m glad Dreamspinner has a Diversity Panel because even though I agree books need diverse characters, I live in fear of being unknowingly offensive or racist or whatever else I have unknowingly done. Members of the diversity panel read my draft and pointed out places where I put my foot in it, thus allowing me to withdraw my foot by hitting the delete button.
I struggled with how to write dialect without being too over the top. (For the record, we DO say y’all in Northern Virginia!) I was informed one of the terms I used to describe transgender was no longer welcome. I read books on being black and gay in the South and books on the transgender experience. I talked to people who live further South than I do about aspects of the culture there. (Did you know “bless your heart” means “screw you” in Southern?)
And all the while, Charlie and Morocco and their family were talking in my head and I knew them. I knew all about them and loved them. I want a Granny Myrt of my own. Or maybe not Granny Myrt until she evolves her beliefs about LGBTQ folks, but an Aunt Tawniece. I want Morocco and Myesha to be my besties and call me “girl.” I want to go out dancing with them and get our funk on.
Jed is still being outshined, because he and Charlie are never going to be as “out there” as Morocco and Myesha. But that’s okay, because Jed ends the story knowing who he is and where he wants to go in life, and having a great guy by his side.
Jed made it out of the frat house and walked toward the dorm through the crowds of bid-night revelers. He hadn’t thought about how awkward things could get with him and Kent in the fraternity together. Frats meant parties, which meant alcohol and girls. Put Kent in the middle of that, with his “everyone follow me over the cliff” personality, and that was it. Jed was sunk. Dead meat. He’d either have to persuade Myesha to be his beard, or… come out?
Right. Get real.
As if summoned by the gay unicorn gods, Aidan Emery and his merry band of queers appeared, strutting down the sidewalk, laughing and singing. Jed’s insides contorted with jealousy. He wanted to stick out his foot and trip them for daring to be so openly gay and happy about it.
Coming out? To Kent and a bunch of Wahoos in SAE? To the rugby team? To the world in general? No way.
Jed changed course and headed to Lucky’s. He’d thought about going to lift weights at the university gym, but the truth was, he was tired of everything U.Va., with its fraternities, homophobia, and all the rest. He needed a videogame fix. Kent had told him Lucky’s had the best selection in town. The wind picked up, carrying with it a hint of snow. He pulled his coat closer around him and started a slow jog, relieved to be leaving the Grounds and the parties behind.
Ten minutes later, Jed reached Lucky’s, breathing hard but feeling more centered as he pushed open the door. He stopped to survey the scene, having never been there. The place was hopping—people eating, drinking, playing pool and pinball—and there against the far wall were huge screens and sofas for gamers. He went over to scope out the games.
“Let me know if I can help you with anything.”
A handsome black guy stood next to the counter. He gave Jed a shy smile, and Jed smiled back. Zing. Jed had never thought about having gaydar, but this guy set something off in him that said they were playing for the same team.
“Do you have any suggestions?”
“D-depends.” The guy came to stand next to him. He was a couple inches taller than Jed and he smelled nice. Plus he had striking greenish-brown eyes. His nametag read Charlie. “W-what’re you into?”
You. Jed’s cheeks warmed. Damn stupid blushing. “I like Halo, Mass Effect, stuff like that. But I also like fantasy games. I was way into Oblivion in high school.”
Charlie picked out a game and handed it over. “You’d l-like this if you haven’t p-played it. It came out a c-couple months ago.”
“Dragon Age: Origins. Cool. I’ve been wanting to try this one. Thanks.” He followed Charlie back to the counter. “You go to U.Va.?” Jed wasn’t usually this forward in striking up conversations, but something about Charlie—his obvious shyness, his slight stutter—made Jed want to put him at ease. To Jed’s dismay, his question seemed to embarrass him.
“N-no.” Charlie shut his mouth in a grim line as he rang up Jed’s rental.
“Oh.” Jed cast around for something else to say but a bunch of high school kids rushed up to the counter, clutching games. Charlie didn’t meet Jed’s eyes as he handed over Dragon Age and turned to his new customers. “Um, thanks.”
Jed left Lucky’s, puzzling over Charlie’s response. So he’s a “townie.” So what? Oh well. The guy hadn’t seemed all that interested in Jed anyway. He lost himself in reading the game jacket as he walked back to the dorm.
Near Alderman Library, he heard, “Carter, you are so busted!” Bud weaved toward him on the sidewalk. “Where the hell’d you go?”
“Like hell you did. I—oh.” Bud lurched and Jed caught him by one arm.
“Someone’s wasted. You need help getting back?”
“Naw, ’m’fine. But don’t cut out on us like that, boy. I love ya, man!”
Jed watched fondly as Bud stumbled off into the night, then hoofed it to his dorm room.
Time for videogames.
Buy Link for Sex, Love, and Videogames:
How to reach CJane Elliott:
Answer the question below for a chance to win any book from my backlist of novels and novellas.
Late teens and early twenties is the time when people start to figure themselves out, often breaking away from their family’s idea of them, or going outside of their childhood comfort zones. Jed and Charlie did all of these in Sex, Love, and Videogames. Now for the question:
What was one of your first experiences in your late teens or early twenties where you stepped beyond your childhood comfort zone and started to be an adult? And was it fun or was it depressing?
August 19, 2015
Hi all! Charley Descoteaux here to chat with you about my new release, Buchanan House. I’m so excited to be here with you! The day job might make me slow to reply, so please bear with me. I’ll be popping in and out for the next few days.
Before I go any farther I want to tell you about the giveaway. At the end of this post I’ll ask a question, and every answer is a chance to win an ebook. I’m giving away one copy of every ebook on my backlist and that means there will be six winners!
I’m a huge fan of the Marvel movies, so I’m calling this an origin story for my contemporary Romance. ☺
Last summer I got a shiny new degree and a new Evil Day Job to go with it. Not as evil as my last one, but it still keeps me busy when I’d rather be writing. Before going back to cubicle-land I took a short vacation to the Oregon Coast. I love the beach and the Pacific Ocean, and as has happened before I was struck with inspiration while walking on the beach.
The original inspiration was for a murder mystery, but I let the guy live and turned it into a pure Romance. “Pure” as in that’s the main plot, not as in “pure as the driven snow.” Buchanan House has sexy-times but even though it deals with the effects of bullying it’s a sweet and almost lighthearted story. Due in large part to the location. Lincoln City just might be more accepting than Portland, if the number of same-sex couples openly behaving as couples was any indication. I saw so many men with men and women with women in those few days—it made me feel very much at-home, even though it was my first time there.
Since it was my first time, I did a lot of exploring. To the south of the hotel I found a secluded area that looked to be about the size of a suburban cul de sac. One of the homes was for sale and I thought about how cool it would be to write a story with a bunch of guys getting away from the city to live there. Nobody would believe a group of friends buying up all the homes in the neighborhood, though. What would they do for a living? How would they afford those rustic old homes (even if the prices made my m0uth water)? There aren’t a lot of good jobs on the coast so they’d have to bring a means of income with them—and since the largest industry on the Oregon coast is tourism, that question was answered fast!
One object in the book also has its own origin story: the hand carved bench on the front porch. Last year when I celebrated the release of The Nesting Habits of Strange Birds I had a wonderful time with a Goodreads chat. A lot of fun people gave me great ideas for an object to honor Eric’s grandmother. Penumbra suggested a bench, and I love the way it appeared in the story. It’s almost the headstone Eric would’ve chosen for his grandmother if it had been up to him, but a little more fun than that.
Okay, I think I’ve gone on long enough. If you have any questions you’d like to ask, about the book or me or what I’m working on now, please don’t be shy! I might be slow, but I’ll be happy to answer.
As for my question, I’d love to hear an origin story of yours! Do you have an object or a superpower with a story? If not, make one up! The more outlandish the better!
On Saturday the 22nd I’ll choose the winners by random number generator so don’t forget to include your Dreamspinner Store account email address with your stories! Each winner will get an ebook from my backlist (every book except Buchanan House, in order of release)!
Here’s a little about Buchanan House—the blurb and an exclusive excerpt!
Eric Allen, thirty-three-year-old line cook, moved in with his grandmother, Jewell, after a disastrous coming-out when he was in middle school. She raised him, and he cared for her when she fell ill. When Jewell died she left everything to Eric—angering his parents and older brother. The inheritance isn’t much, but Eric and his bestie Nathan pool their money and buy an abandoned hotel on an isolated stretch of the Central Oregon Coast. The hotel isn’t far from Lincoln City—a town with its own Pride Festival and named for a president—so they christen it Buchanan House after James Buchanan, the “confirmed bachelor” president with the close male friend.
Eric and Nathan need a handyman to help them turn Buchanan House into the gay resort of their dreams. Eric finds Tim Tate in the local listings and over the months leading to opening weekend Tim reveals himself as a skilled carpenter with many hidden talents. Eric falls hard for Tim, but before he can see a future with the gorgeous handyman he has to get over twenty years of being bullied and shamed by his birth family. It would be much easier if Eric’s brother Zach weren’t trying to grab part of the inheritance or ruin opening weekend.
This excerpt is from one of Eric and Nathan’s days off—they’re in the backyard of Buchanan House, watching a lone surfer.
Nathan rested the cookie plate on top of his mug and brought his own binoculars to his eyes. “Wow. Is that…. Yes, I do believe that is Tim Tate, superhero, handyman, and also, apparently, surfer dude!”
Nathan sounded inordinately pleased to announce what Eric had seen for himself. Which probably meant he’d already known it was Tim. Somehow. Eric pointedly ignored his tone, but kept watching Tim walk toward the rocks south of Buchanan House.
Tim didn’t seem to be in any hurry. He stopped a few times to look at things the tide had washed in, poking the sand with his foot and once bending at the waist for a closer look. Eric wondered if he’d found any tsunami debris. Signs were posted anywhere tourists were likely to pull off the Coast Highway, along with Tsunami Debris Watch depositories. Eric wanted to find something with Japanese writing on it, an object that had traveled all the way across the Pacific to reach him, but had yet to see anything even close. Not that he’d had a ton of time to walk the beach or participate in Lincoln City’s nightlife, but he hadn’t exactly been a hermit either.
Eric thought he should stop spying on Tim but couldn’t bring himself to lower the binoculars. Tim seemed more relaxed than he was at Buchanan House, his walk more athletic, graceful. On workdays, Tim wore comfortable, almost loose jeans, and T-shirts either under a flannel or over a thermal. He almost looked like a different man. Eric had tried to get a feel for what the body beneath the clothes looked like, without being caught staring, but hadn’t enjoyed the level of success he’d hoped for. After seeing Tim in a wetsuit, Eric knew his fumbling guesses hadn’t even been close. The suit clung to Tim’s broad shoulders and chest, tapering to trim hips, only to bulge again over his defined thigh muscles. He looked like a god.
“Mm-mm-mmm. That is a tasty dish.” Nathan bumped his shoulder into Eric’s.
Before Eric could respond to Nathan’s teasing, Tim unzipped the top of his wetsuit. Eric stood, transfixed, as Tim peeled the top half from his body and let it hang around his waist like the bib on a pair of overalls. It was like watching a live-action ad for Men’s Fitness. Tim’s upper body was sculpted to lean perfection—he looked strong and athletic, but not bulky.
His hair sent drops of water sliding down his chest, and Eric thought about licking the salt water from his warm skin, peeling the rest of the wetsuit away, and—
Nathan’s soft laughter interrupted Eric’s fantasy. He practically pushed the binoculars away from his face. Normally he would’ve had the strap around his neck, but because he hadn’t taken the time, the binoculars fell to the ground, landed on his foot, and flopped into the future garden. Eric kept from shouting curses only with great effort. The last thing he wanted was for Tim to see them standing there, binoculars in hand, ogling him like a couple of perverts.
“Yeah, sweetheart. There’s your dessert right there.”
Eric wasn’t sure if Nathan was ignoring his ridiculous move with the binoculars, or if he hadn’t seen it. The show on the beach was definitely more interesting. “Put down your binoculars. He’ll see.”
“And so what if he does?” Nathan let his binoculars rest against his chest, dangling safely from the strap. And then he waved.
“Nathan,” Eric hissed.
Tim obviously saw him. He stopped walking, frozen in place with his surfboard under his arm, still connected to his ankle with what looked like a chain. Slowly, Tim raised a hand to shield his eyes from the sunlight, but who else would it be? Who else would be in Buchanan House’s backyard in his pink robe after noon on a Sunday? When Tim waved back, Eric’s heart sank a little. Of course he was attracted to Nathan. Who wasn’t?
With the notable exception of me, naturally.
Nathan was six one, handsome as a movie star, and never tried to hide he was ripped to boot.
Eric picked up his binoculars and headed back into the kitchen. He limped a little, but not only because his foot hurt. Obviously Little Eric didn’t get the message that this Tim, just like the last one, was nothing more than a fantasy that would end in disappointment, if not outright humiliation.
Thanks for reading!
I hope you’ll share an origin story with me—I love giving books away as much as I love stories.
Don’t be shy, either here or on Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads—I’d love to hear from you!