January 16, 2015
The story this book tells takes place in two separate, but interconnected timelines. The story begins in the present with Val and Wyatt, two men preparing for their wedding. When Wyatt is asked to consult on a cold-case murder, he and Val get a look back at what life was like for another gay couple Tom and Philip. The majority of the story takes place in Cleveland, Ohio which looked a lot like this in 1927.
This is part of the neighborhood Tom and Philip lived in. This business and building no longer exist today. The neighborhood I’ve used while telling the story is the same one I live in now. It was also the neighborhood where my grandparents spent much of their youth. While A Barlow Lens isn’t a historical novel, I have tried to make the sections written in that time line as accurate as possible. One of the characters in the book, a small time gangster named Archie is loosely based on stories my grandfather told me about one of his older brothers.
Tom and Philip read the Cleveland Press newspaper and back then it looked a lot like this.
Do you like novels that give you a little bit of history but aren’t necessarily historical novels or are you a purist?
Don’t forget Dreamspinner is offering a 25% off coupon code for all my books now through Monday. The code is Noble0116 (case sensitive).
Here is an excerpt from the 1927 portion of the story:
TOM MANNING stopped just inside the heavy, wooden door and stomped the snow from his boots. He shrugged out of his overcoat and waited for his eyes to adjust to the lower lighting. A shiver worked its way down his spine. There was a fire, the room was warm, but it still took his body a few minutes to acclimate to the temperature without his coat. He turned to the right where one of the large coatracks stood next to the door and added his coat to the ones already there. Taking his hat off, he shook snow from the fabric and wiped one hand over his hair. He gave his head a little shake to clear off any excess snowflakes.
A radio in one corner provided music. Despite its scratchy reception, there were a few couples swaying on the dance floor. Tom had become a regular in this particular juice joint, even though it was far enough from his small apartment in the West Park section of Cleveland that it took planning and a little time to get there. That was just fine by Tom. It made the Canary, this joint’s name, safer. Most cops wouldn’t bother coming this far north and west, and if they did, there’d be plenty of warning. At least Tom hoped so.
The first few times he’d come there, he had worried about who might see him. Then he realized that if someone saw him, they’d come to the Canary for the same reason. This particular speakeasy catered to a select and secretive group of men and women.
Tom slid onto a stool and smiled when the bartender sashayed over with a plate of sandwiches thick with meat and cheese on freshly baked bread.
“We got a new shipment in this week. Care to give it a try, honey?” The bartender, Billy, flipped a towel over his shoulder and put his hand over Tom’s for an instant. He tipped his head at a table on the other side of the room. “He’s been asking after you. I’ll get you two of what he’s having.”
“Appreciate it,” Tom said. He twisted on the stool to get a better look at the man at the table. The man had dark hair and was built like a bull. His big hands cradled the glass of bootleg, and that sent a spark coursing right through Tom to his balls. Beefy hands that handled a glass gently. What would they do to Tom’s flesh?
Thanks to Billy and his need to be in everyone’s business, Tom might just find out.
January 16, 2015
Dreamspinner Press is offering a coupon code beginning today and good until Monday for 25% off all my books! The code is Noble0116 (case sensitive).
A Barlow Lens is the second book in the Circles series. Run for the Roses kicked the series off. When I wrote Run for the Roses I intended it to be a standalone story. It sort of ended on a tiny cliff hanger, but the story itself was wrapped up. Then somewhere along the way between submitting and release I had an idea for a series. So, Circles was born. The series tagline is ‘every life is a circle’ and that is also an underlying theme of the series. Each book introduces one or two of the main characters featured in the next book in the series. All the stories in Circles are a mystery. Sometimes there is murder, sometimes not, but one of the MCs is involved in law enforcement. Will the books eventually circle back to earlier characters? I don’t know, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it eventually happens.
A Barlow Lens takes its title from a piece of equipment used in an astronomical telescope, the Barlow lens. When one takes a peek into a telescope and views the stars you are actually looking back in time. Starlight travels vast distances over many, many years. The light we see in the sky tonight may have started its journey hundreds or thousands of years ago. We are seeing something that happened long ago.
There is no way that is not the most coolest thing ever!
What does this little bit of metal and glass have to do with a murder mystery? Good question.
The plot of A Barlow Lens takes place in two separate timelines. The modern day characters, Wyatt and Val, find themselves involved in solving a cold-case murder that happened eighty years prior. They look back at the lives of another gay couple, Tom and Philip, living in a completely different social atmosphere in order to solve the mystery. During the investigation the story of two lovers from the past comes to light. That story, like starlight, traveled a long way through time before being seen and told.
In keeping with the theme of the series during the investigation Wyatt’s past comes back in unexpected and sometimes dangerous ways. A Barlow Lens is a look back that sheds light on the present for Wyatt and Val, proving every life is a circle.
Anyone answering any of the questions in any of my posts today will be entered into a contest to win a free eBook copy of A Barlow Lens, simply make sure I have your email. I will leave this contest open until Sunday evening.
What branch of law enforcement should I write about in the future?
January 16, 2015
Before I forget, because I always forget, Dreamspinner Press has offered a coupon code: Noble0116 (case sensitive). It’s good for 25% off all my books beginning today, Friday, and expires on Monday.
To start the festivities here is the blurb and a bit of an excerpt from the book.
While planning a future with his partner, Val, Wyatt’s past refuses to be forgotten. Wyatt’s old friend asks him to look into the mysterious death of her uncle in a fire back in 1927, when men were silent, tough, and did not love other men—except when they did. Working with Val, Wyatt digs up clues uncovering the truth behind the tragic school fire and the one responsible. The story of Tom and Philip slowly reveals itself, and Wyatt and Val realize nothing is as simple as they originally believed. As their trail heats up, an old enemy of Wyatt’s decides he’s waited long enough for revenge. If Wyatt can’t tie everything together, history might repeat itself.
Once they were back at their hotel, Wyatt ushered Val into their room, not bothering with the light. They were high enough up there was no need to close the drapes, and light from the city cast a soft glow over them.
As Val unbuttoned his suit jacket, Wyatt stepped up behind him, placing his palms on Val’s shoulders, then rubbing lightly up and down his arms a few times. “Let me give you a hand.” Wyatt eased the jacket off and kissed the side of Val’s neck, nudging his head to the side as he did so. A low moan rumbled out of Val’s chest. Wyatt dropped the jacket on a chair and slipped his hands under Val’s shirt, caressing Val’s skin with his fingertips.
When he reached Val’s tightening nipples, he rubbed small circles until Val’s hips jerked. Val shuddered and pulled in a quick, shaky breath, making Wyatt smile. Val’s tie and shirt joined his jacket. Wyatt ran his hands over Val’s torso before returning them to Val’s shoulders. He lightly traced the scars on Val’s shoulder with first his finger, then his tongue.
Val’s surgery to repair the damage done in the course of stopping some seriously dangerous people who had been trying to force jockeys to throw races, had left several scars. They weren’t red, raised, and angry anymore. Val never complained about them hurting, but the marks were still puckered and darker than the surrounding skin.
“You know,” Val whispered between dragging in a breath and panting it out again. “That first time we went out to dinner, I was so worried you’d think I was some uncouth, country hick because I don’t know about wine and art. And that I was too young to bother with.”
“Hmm, do you know what I worried about when I was thirty?” Wyatt scraped his teeth across Val’s shoulder blades.
“Getting a sweet piece of hot ass,” Wyatt said in a low voice.
Val laughed. “Well, you’re sort of slow. Took you long enough. Worth the wait?”
“Oh, hell, yes.” Wyatt maneuvered Val to the bed.
There is an age difference between Val and Wyatt. What’s your preference, couples that are closer or farther apart in age? Any personal experiences to share?
January 7, 2015
If you’ve missed any of the earlier posts, please scroll back to find an excerpt, some teasers and some info about me. Also please leave a comment (on any of the posts) to be entered in a drawing to win a Warwick Rowers 2015 Calendar! (I’ll announce the winner in the comment section on this post on January 8 at noon EST).
I’d like to leave you all with one final teaser for MOMENT IF IMPACT. Earlier I talked about how first kisses are my favorite thing to write. This clip kinda shows that I like to write second kisses almost as much. Okay…maybe just as much. *cheers*
January 7, 2015
I mentioned how much I adore the handsome model who graces the cover of MOMENT OF IMPACT. Here are some more beautiful shots of him with some teasers from the book. If you haven’t checked out the two earlier posts today, please do—and leave comments on any of them to be entered into the contest for a chance to win a Warwick Rowers 2015 Calendar!
I just love the way his eyes sparkle. He’s the perfect Collin.
January 7, 2015
Hello all! It’s Karen Stivali, here to tell you some more about my brand new release MOMENT OF IMPACT, the first book in my New Adult series Moments In Time. If you missed the first post of the release party, please scroll back or click the title so you can see more info about the book.
In keeping with the theme of firsts I’m going to talk about my own favorite first—first kisses. Not only are first kisses among my favorite personal memories, they’re my very favorite scenes to write in every single book. I love the build up, the sexual tension, the OMG-is-this-really-happening feeling. *sigh*
There are a lot of “firsts” in MOMENT OF IMPACT but I’m going to give you all a peek at the ever important First Kiss…
Don’t blow this. Not now. Not when he’s right here. So close. So… Forcing myself to move, I reached out and clutched at his shoulder. His skin was smooth, warm. I pressed my fingers into his flesh with enough force, he flinched. His gaze darted to mine, wary.
Swallowing hard, I willed myself to maintain eye contact. “I didn’t think I wanted that, until I met you.”
Tanner’s gaze raced back and forth between my hand, which was still gripping his shoulder, and my eyes, which felt like they were about to bulge out of my skull. I couldn’t blink. Couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t think. Do something. Say something.
Then his mouth crashed into mine.
I like kissing. I always have. Even though I wasn’t super into any of the girls I’d been with, kissing was the one thing I still enjoyed. Warm mouths, wet tongues, moving together. It felt good. I seriously thought I’d done some decent kissing in my life.
I was wrong. Tanner’s mouth on mine for one fucking second proved to me that what I’d done before might have looked like kissing, might have felt like kissing, but was like the frozen french bread pizza version of kissing. Nothing like the real thing.
Nothing like this.
His tongue swept into my mouth, hot and velvety. His hand gripped the back of my neck, tugging me upright. Everything fell away. Disappeared. The whole world was this one kiss. I could have drowned in it and died happy.
Tanner pulled away, breathing hard, his forehead pressed to mine. The room spun like a carnival ride.
His voice sounded lower than usual. Deep and gravelly. I gave a shaky nod, and he tipped his head back, looking at me.
“Yeah.” My heart beat double time as I realized he still had his hands on me. And he was still naked. And I was probably harder than I’d ever been in my entire life. Jesus.
“We can stop.”
“No.” That wasn’t what I wanted. Not at all. “I just… I mean… we’re roommates. What if this doesn’t work out?”
Tanner’s lips pulled into a grin so sexy my brain turned to oatmeal. He rubbed the back of my neck. “So, one kiss and you’re already thinking about what happens if we break up?”
I shook my head. “I don’t know.”
“Let’s see how we feel after another kiss.”
Take a moment to leave me a comment and tell me: Where did your all-time best first kiss take place?
Each comment will give you one entry in a giveaway for a Warwick Rowers 2015 calendar (more details in previous post).
January 7, 2015
Hello Dreamspinner readers! My name is Karen Stivali. Welcome to the release day party for MOMENT OF IMPACT, the first book in my New Adult series Moments In Time! Let me take a moment to introduce myself, then we’ll get down to the good stuff (book talk, sexy guys and a giveaway!).
With all the unfortunate news lately about people stealing identities and using fake photos I want part of my introduction to be a photo. It’s really me. This was taken in the foyer of my home in NH a few months ago. It may not be the most professional looking photo, but the main reason I post photos of myself is so people can recognize me when I attend conferences because meeting readers and other authors is one of my favorite parts of being a writer!
MOMENT OF IMPACT represents a lot of firsts for me. Although I’ve been a published contemporary romance author for the past four years this is my first m/m novel and I couldn’t be happier about having this debut with Dreamspinner Press. While my other novels have all had m/f pairings for the romantic leads in the stories, I often had secondary characters who were GLBT characters—and I don’t mean just the stereotypical gay BFF for comic relief—I mean complex characters with lives and relationships of their own who were essential to the storyline. I was actually attempting to work on a different novel when Collin and Tanner, the main characters in MOMENT OF IMPACT started talking in my head non-stop and I knew they needed a story of their own. I love all the characters I’ve created, but I have to say these two hold a special place in my heart. Not only did I have a ridiculous amount of fun writing about them, but Collin is the first character who’s ever inspired me to write in first person. My characters always chatter away in my head but something about his voice told me he needed to be the one to tell his story in his own words.
Now for a much more important photo, here’s my beautiful cover for MOMENT OF IMPACT. When I stumbled across the photo of this model (and by stumbled across I mean after hours on end of searching stock photo sites) I found this image and immediately knew that model was Collin—-everything about it, the lovely blond hair, the insanely blue eyes, the expression that mixes innocence and heat—it was him. I’m extremely grateful to the wonderful and crazy-talented art department at Dreamspinner for using this photo and crafting it into such breathtakingly beautiful cover—it’s perfect!
Here’s the blurb…
Outside Collin Fitzpatrick’s dorm room is a dangerous place. Beyond his door the students of his small, conservative college think he’s straight, as does his Catholic family who’d disown him if they learned the truth. Inside, he’s safe with his incredibly sexy roommate Tanner D’Amico. Their room makes a perfect place to hide away and fall in love. The moment they cross the line from roommates to lovers, Collin becomes caught between their heavenly passionate encounters and the hellish reality that someone might find out and destroy everything. Tanner’s not used to being so confined, and wants to show the world how much he loves Collin. But Collin’s not sure he’s ready for the impact stepping outside will make.
Since this book represents firsts for me (first book with Dreamspinner, first m/m romance, first person point of view, first book in a new series) and it’s the first month of the new year, I’d like to offer a calendar as a giveaway. Not just any calendar—my favorite calendar—the Warwick Rowers 2015 calendar. If you’re not familiar with the Warwick Rowers, they’re a lovely group of gorgeous British rowers who raise awareness to fight homophobia in sports through their organization Sport Allies. And their beatiful (and award winning) charity calendars make it difficult not to support their cause!
My giveaway will run for the entire day (I’ll choose one winner at random at midnight and contact them the next day). To enter the giveaway leave a comment on this post (or any of the other posts I make on this site during today’s release party) and tell me what your favorite kind of “first” is—first date? First kiss? First day of school? First bite of a pizza you’ve been drooling over the smell of on the entire drive home from the pizza place? (Now I want pizza.)
Also for an extra entry in the giveaway pop over to Facebook, like my author page, and leave me a note saying you saw me here!
Check back for other blog posts here throughout the day—I’ll be posting teasers, an excerpt and a few more pictures. And don’t forget to leave me a comment for a chance to win the calendar!
December 19, 2014
Hi to any newcomers and late party-goers. I’m Susan Laine. I’m hosting a release party here today, Dec 19, starting from 2:00 p.m. EST for my latest release, The Sensualist & the Untouched.
The last hour of this release party is at hand! I’m still open for any and all questions you might have, so don’t be afraid to ask.
This is the wrap-up party, as it were. My time here at the Dreamspinner Blog is coming to an end. Thank you all kindly for stopping by and commenting! I hope you’ve had fun hanging out with me
Using Random.org, I will announce the winner of the giveaway an hour after this last post, so keep checking it at around 7:00 p.m. EST. You have an hour to comment on this, or any of the posts, and be a part of the giveaway. The very best of luck to all who commented and thanks again!
You can find me at:
All my very best,
December 19, 2014
As usual, I’m Susan Laine. I’m hosting a release party here today, Dec 19, starting from 2:00 p.m. EST for my latest release, The Sensualist & the Untouched.
How to describe Corey and Lucian?
Corey is a rational kind of guy. He sees a problem and he tackles it head on. He over-analyzes too, which makes him hesitate whenever the opportunity to be close to someone presents itself.
Here’s an image I had in mind when writing Corey:
Lucian, however, is more instinctive that Corey. He’s unafraid to try new things, and he’s a great lover of both men and women. In fact, due to his family, Lucian has made a conscious choice to have his whole life revolve around sensual issues.
Here’s an image I had in mind when writing Lucian:
Here’s a scene to show Lucian and Corey learning more about one another in an intimate—and pitch-black—setting at Boudoir:
“Am I your first frigid man?” Corey wondered briefly if that were true. Statistically he couldn’t be the only one in town.
“You’re not my first enigma” was Lucian’s cryptic reply. That seemed so like Lucian that it made Corey laugh. “You want to dance, Corey? No one would see. Not even me.”
Corey bristled. “I happen to be a good dancer.” Then he cleared his throat. “Not that that’s the point or anything.”
Lucian let out a merry sound. “I’d love to dance with you. I bet you lead very well. I must confess the notion of your hand on the small of my back is enthralling.”
Corey swallowed nervously in the blackness. He wasn’t sure what it was about the idea of dancing with Lucian that made him anxious and jumpy. His confused mind still reeled and refused to provide him with clear-cut answers. And his body was so deep into the land of confusion, Corey wondered if it would ever get unlost again.
The rising pace of the “Boléro” changed to a new piece then. A lone saxophone began to play, a blues tune so soft and melancholy it stirred something in Corey’s chest. A heavy weight shifted, an ever-present reminder of the pain he carried. And yet, the notes of the sax held a certain erotic charge that tingled on the edges of Corey’s awareness and in his gut, this time showing him how a single instrument could depict his condition so accurately. The sad longing for sensuality.
Would it be so bad if I danced with Lucian?
Corey threw caution to the wind. “We can try that. One dance.”
Lucian let out a surprised, gleeful gasp. “Really?” Corey heard chair legs scrape on the floor as the man rose and then soft footfalls as he approached. “Take my hand.”
Corey knew that if Lucian had used an endearment right then, he would have changed his mind so fast his head would have been left spinning like in those old time cartoons. But Lucian’s voice sounded gentle and kind and even somewhat yearning, so Corey stood up and fumbled to find his host’s hand in the dark.
How Corey wished he could have felt passionate sparks and colorful fireworks as their hands touched. Alas, all he felt was a hand smaller than his own with delicate bone structure, long, svelte fingers, soft skin that carried the scent of passion fruit, and the feel of luxuriously manicured nails.
Time to announce today’s giveaway! As the above excerpt shows, this is Corey’s first time dancing with someone, and is therefore profoundly meaningful for him.
So I pose you this question: What do you remember from the first time you danced with someone?
I’ll answer to get the ball rolling.
I was a teenager, thirteen or fourteen. My Mom had taken me and my sister on a cruise, just a short two-day trip. I wore a blue silk blouse I’d borrowed from my Mom when a man came to ask me to dance. I did, though I’d never done that before and was feeling a bit nervous. I don’t recall his face, only that he was a lot taller than me and he had a spicy cologne. We never really spoke and I never learned his name. Yet I remember the experience well. I’ve danced with other men since then but that moment has stuck with me.
The prize for this giveaway is an e-book (your choice of format) of The Sensualist & the Untouched—or if you already have it, one from my backlog.
December 19, 2014
Hi again! I’m Susan Laine. I’m hosting a release party here today, Dec 19, starting from 2:00 p.m. EST for my latest release, The Sensualist & the Untouched.
I have a couple of themes that take center stage in this book.
The first is sexual inexperience and how detrimental the effect of that can be on a person’s self-esteem, especially if you are an adult. The emotions connected to that state of being are the same for both men and women: Poor self-esteem, shame, embarrassment, and feelings of inadequacy. Last but not least, there is loneliness, which is another central theme.
The physical aspect in a relationship may not be key but it is important. As social beings, we all have an instinctive need to connect with people, to see and to be seen by others. Our modern society is over-sexualized. Sex sells, as the saying goes. You can see it everywhere, not just on the pages of a porn magazine, but in huge billboards around big cities. Women with big boobs and butts, men with thick muscles and ripped abs. The imagery radiates sex.
It seems as though everyone is having sex everywhere, all the time, with anyone and everyone.
But… what if you’re not? What if you’ve never felt the touch of another, never been kissed, never been seen as desirable, never even been brushed against by someone who isn’t part of your immediate family?
That is where Corey comes from. No sex. No touch. No intimacy. No sensuality. Nothing.
He is fundamentally alone and lonely, and he’s tired of it. He’s an adult, in his thirties, and he has no practical knowledge of what it takes to be intimate with another human being. Loneliness is his best—and worst—friend.
Here’s a tiny excerpt to show how loneliness effects Corey:
Corey had never realized, not with the total awareness of this moment, how much he ached to be touched. His raw, palpable loneliness permeated his whole body, from skin to soul. Perhaps the constant solitude had fried his brain, making him mad, delusional, and wanting impossible things. But in his heart, he had more than an inkling it was this isolation that left him hollow and hurting, touch deprived and in desperate need for contact.
“Fuck. I’m sorry.” Corey was glad his face was hidden by the cushion, but he wasn’t stupid enough to believe or hope that Lucian hadn’t noticed.
How about a realization that others seem so capable of love—while Corey is not?:
Funny how Corey could recognize it, though he had never felt it or sensed it aimed at him. Perhaps it was instinctual and universal and undeniable.
If so, why couldn’t he reciprocate? Why could he not… feel… those better emotions, the ones that didn’t make him feel like a loser, despondent and bereft of hope? Had it been nothing more than… gasp… a fluke?
As I’m sure you can imagine, this is an emotional ride. Corey has a lot to deal with throughout the story, and because of him, so does Lucian.
And now, a question for you all: Do you find it easy or hard to talk about loneliness?
If you feel the topic is too intimate and private, there is absolutely no obligation to answer.
As I wrote, at times I almost choked on the heaviness and hollowing feeling as I experienced it through Corey. Many find it hard to admit they ever feel lonely, even in company, while others find comfort and safety in solitude. Our society labels poorly those who have the courage to admit their loneliness, as though they were abnormal or freakish somehow. That is the place where Corey’s loneliness stems from, the unwillingness to vocalize it, burying it under the condition of frigidity.
My books can be found through my website.