The Actual Birds in The Nesting Habits of Strange Birds

August 11, 2014

 

When I first started writing my novel about Phil and Lee I called it Strange Birds. I used that working title so long, no other title seemed to fit. Which was a problem when I wanted to submit it. Strange Birds doesn’t exactly scream Romance Novel, does it?

I love the title I chose, but feel the need to let everyone know actual birds are involved. I don’t want anyone thinking “strange birds” is a euphemism or any kind of joke, so here are the actual birds, in order of appearance.

Hummingbirds

Credit: J. Tanner

I’ve had hummingbird gardens in the past, full of fuchsias and butterfly bushes. Now that I’m on the fourth floor in a north-facing apartment, I have to rely on photographs. Lucky for me, I have an in with some amazing photographers via the Absolute Write Forums.

Blue Heron

These are older and larger than the babies in SB, but they’re so cute! Blue Heron nests are usually 2-3 feet in diameter before the eggs hatch, but are a work in progress as the chicks grow. A nest can grow to over 5 feet in diameter and 3 feet deep to accommodate the long-legged babies. Sometimes it can grow a foot or two overnight, which I learned one spring a few years ago, as I watched a clutch that lived in a nearby park.

Evening Grosbeak

I love these birds—they look like hard cases, but seem to play well with others. When I first moved to Oregon I would check off every new bird species I found. The grosbeaks shared the food with many other types of birds with hardly a scuffle, and, being 6-9 inches long with a wingspan of 12-14 inches, they look cool in large groups.

Osprey

This juvenile osprey looks about ready to leave the nest permanently. I’ve been lucky enough to watch parents teaching their young to fish at local rivers and lakes. They’re amazing hunters!

Red-tailed Hawk

Almost everyone has probably seen a hawk soaring at one time or another. They make flying look effortless!

Sam the Eagle

Sam isn’t in the avian cast directly but he’s mentioned as inspiration for a work of art, so I had to include him. I loved him on The Muppet Show, always trying to maintain order in the midst of happy chaos. He reminded me of the bald eagle I saw near my little house in the middle of nowhere. That eagle suffered silently as a small group of crows tried to chase him out of the tree. Somehow, he managed to look dignified the whole time. But I still brought my cats inside—he must’ve weighed fifty pounds and could’ve made off with both of them at once without batting an eye.

 

Have you ever seen a strange or rare bird? I’d love to hear your stories of watching hummingbirds build nests, an osprey hunt or a bald eagle sitting in silence as a family of crows try to chase him out of their tree! Every comment is an entry for all three of my giveaway prizes!

 

Excerpt:

Lee popped the tops on two cans, one in each hand, as he walked across the clearing. He’d spent a few Willston Jubilee weekends working in the beer gardens, and opening twice the number of beers he could drink at once wasn’t the only useless skill he’d practiced. Phil’s eye roll didn’t take anything from the fact that his face wasn’t pointed toward the ground.

“Ch-check it out.” Phil took a long pull from the can as he stepped aside to let Lee look through the viewfinder.

Lee was speechless. The view was like nothing he’d ever seen in real life: a huge bowl-like nest that had to have been made from branches the size of his wrist sat near the top of a tall old maple. Two full-grown blue herons stood outside the nest, and as Lee watched, four or five beaks appeared and started a cacophony of bird sounds.

It was cool, but not cooler than what happened next. Phil moved so close he was almost pressed against Lee’s side, and then he bumped him out of the way with a strategically placed shoulder. Lee took a few steps sideways to keep his feet and when he turned, Phil was snapping photos like a photographer on America’s Next Top Model. And smiling. Not a split your face kind of smile—somehow Phil’s plain joy packed even more of a wallop. Phil was captivated by what he was doing—snapping a series of pictures, fiddling with the settings on his camera, and then snapping few more.

If the guy puts that much effort into sex, I might not live through it.

 

Buy The Nesting Habits of Strange Birds: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5271

 

 

Rattle my cages, I’d love to hear from you!

Goodreads: http://tinyurl.com/aqe7g7r

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/charleydescote/

e-mail: c.descoteauxwrites@gmail.com

Rainbow Rose

 

Photo Credits: All bird photos courtesy of Wikipedia, except as noted; Red Tailed Hawk photo licensed from Graphicstock.

The Nesting Habits of Strange Birds Release Party!

August 11, 2014

Cover The Nesting Habits of Strange BirdsHello and welcome! Charley Descoteaux here, to celebrate the release of my first full-length novel, The Nesting Habits of Strange Birds!

I’m taking over the DsP Blog today to give away a copy of the book, of course, and I also have something a little different. More on that later. ;)

For those of you who don’t know me, Dreamspinner released my first novella in June of 2013, and Strange Birds is my fifth title. I live in Portland, Oregon, and right now am missing the rain big-time! I’m happiest when it’s 75 or below, and this summer it feels like we barely get those temps at night. I exaggerate, but 90 is just too hot for us web footed folks.

Soon I’m heading to the day job (which isn’t evil, only demanding :) ) so I’ll only be around during breaks and on my commutes (don’t worry, I take the train :) ). I’ve planned ahead—four posts with excerpts and a little extra are scheduled throughout the day, and all comments are eligible for all the giveaways. If the winner already has a copy of Strange Birds, they can choose two from my backlist.

Before I go any farther, I want to thank everyone who pre-ordered Strange Birds during my charity drive. Between pre-orders and my Rainbow Award entry fee, I’ll be sending a total of $XX to The Trevor Project! They’re my go-to national charity, and especially relevant to this book.

Okay, just a little business and then I’ll give you the first excerpt.

All comments today will be in the running for copies of Strange Birds—one signed paperback (US only), and one ebook copy.

I also have a special charm bracelet I made to celebrate my fifth release with Dreamspinner. I’ve added a charm for each of my stories, and left plenty of room for you to add to it with charms for your favorite books, vacations, anything that makes you happy!

The bracelet has a flip-flop for Directing Traffic, a piece of hard candy for Curious Sustenance, a wing for Toy Run, a key for Not the Doctor, and a camera for Strange Birds.

Along with the bracelet will come one very strange bird—a rubber owl. I saw these little guys and just couldn’t resist! Since this will be the first one to go, the winner can choose which color they’d like.

Now, on to the fun part! This excerpt is a good introduction to Phil and Lee, and how they see each other. It’s the first time they talk. But first the blurb.

All he ever wanted was to be a normal guy….

Phil Brask spends his days in the basement of his mentor’s Victorian home, converting legal documents into electronic format. When the pipe feeding the water heater bursts, Lee Redding arrives in the plumber’s truck and draws Phil away from the narrow focus of his computer and camera lens. Lee gives Phil hope for a life beyond the walls he’s constructed using the nesting habits of migratory birds and dense legal files, a guided tour through a world filled with romance and music…maybe even family. But there’s a reason Phil retreated behind those walls, why he panics at a simple touch.

Lee has a good life—working with his uncle and on his mother’s farm, playing bass in a horrible metal band, and hooking up when he pleases—but he’s always suspected something was missing. When he meets the hot photographer with the icy-blue eyes, he knows exactly what that something is. Phil isn’t like other guys, but neither is Lee beneath his carefree exterior. Maybe Lee’s the perfect guy to show Phil that everything doesn’t have to be done the hard way and “home” isn’t a four-letter word.

 

TWO DAYS later he was busy again—scan; file; shred—when unfamiliar footsteps entered the garage.

“Sorry to bother you, but would it be okay if I used the phone in the kitchen?”

His hand shook when he reached for the next sheet of paper, so he pulled it back empty. After a quick glance up to make sure the guy was looking, he nodded.

“Thanks….”

The guy didn’t leave.

“Say, this is the part where you tell me your name.”

He waited, but still the guy didn’t leave. He took a slow deep breath and rehearsed it silently first. “Phil.”

“Hey, Phil. I’m Lee.”

He glanced up again. Lee’s smile—patient; kind; happy—wasn’t like anything he’d ever seen before. Lee had arrived in the plumber’s truck, with his worn jeans and his surfer hair. Lee. Lee had laughed at Jerry’s silly story about the case that made him want to retire. Lee still wore that same smile when Phil tilted his head to the side just enough to see that Lee’s eyes were brown. He returned his gaze to the floor beside his feet. “H-hey.”

“So I’m half brain-dead from lack of sleep and forget to charge my phone.”

Lee laughed, and the sound felt so good in his ears Phil wanted to laugh along with him. He settled for a strategic head-tilt that allowed him to watch Lee while keeping his face mostly hidden.

“What’re you doing with all these boxes?” Lee twisted to look around the small garage at the Bankers Boxes lining the workbench and sitting in stacks on the floor.

“S-scanning the d-documents.”

“Why? I mean, this is a lot of documents to scan.”

Phil sidestepped behind a stack of boxes and glanced up again. Lee’s smile dialed up a notch. He was so close, Phil could see the outline of his body beneath his T-shirt—the muscular body of a guy who ate like a guy. How was he supposed to get anything out with that in front of him? Talking was difficult enough anyway.

Lee leaned over an open box and looked inside.

“Th-those are p-priv—They’re c-confidential.”

“Oh, sorry. I didn’t see anything.” He took a step back and wiped his palms down the front of his shirt. “Are you a lawyer too? Jerry’s a cool guy. I bet he’s fun to work for. Or with.”

Phil shook his head. “N-not a…. Jerry’s great.” The corner of his mouth twitched into something like a smile.

“Well, I better make that call. Thanks. You really saved my bacon, Phil.”

Lee grinned and took a few steps toward the door. He looked over his shoulder just before he disappeared in the direction of the house.

After he left, Phil leaned against the table holding the computer and scanner to catch his breath.

 

Thanks for reading!

I’ll be back in a bit with another excerpt and a bit about the actual birds in The Nesting Habits of Strange Birds.

I’ll check in during my break, so if you have any questions fire away!

Rainbow Rose

Buy The Nesting Habits of Strange Birds:  http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5271

Rattle my cages anytime:

Blog:  http://cdescoteauxwrites.com/blog/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/CharleyDescote

e-mail: c.descoteauxwrites@gmail.com

 

 

 

Wine and Roses Release Party–Celebrating!

August 9, 2014

Hey all! You probably know that my book, Wine and Roses, a spin-off in the Blessed Epoch universe but a standalone story, released today. I’m doing something very appropriate to celebrate–I’m at a wine tasting! This is my friend and sommelier Beau Schemery. He helped me a lot with the technical aspects of winemaking I depicted in the book. I learned even more about wine and its history, and it’s fascinating. I hope you find it as interesting in a fictional setting as I did researching it. So, here’s Beau serving Cava, a sparking wine from Spain.

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This one was my favorite.

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Look how happy I am! Cava is delicious wine, a lot like Champagne, but usually for a much better price.

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Here is some other cool stuff I saw around the wine shop:

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Anyone else out there enjoy trying different wines? If not, what do you like to drink? And if you don’t drink, what do you enjoy doing to relax on the weekend?

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New Releases: August 8th, 2014

August 8, 2014

Dissonance by Shira Anthony

 

Desperate and betrayed, Cam takes refuge in the subway station. There, Galen’s hand on his shoulder stops Cam from throwing everything away.

A Blue Notes Novel

 

British noble Cameron Sherrington has hit rock bottom. The love of his life, opera sensation Aiden Lind, is marrying another man, and Cam knows it’s his fault for pushing Aiden away. As if that’s not enough, someone is trying to take away his family business, and the US authorities are pursuing him on charges of money laundering. Fearing for his safety and unable to return to London, Cam runs, but he’s too broke to find a place to stay, and his fugitive’s life doesn’t even remotely resemble a Hollywood thriller.

 

Desperate and betrayed by the people he thought cared about him, Cam takes refuge in the subway station where Galen Rusk plays his trumpet for tips. Though Cam hears the beauty in Galen’s music, it’s Galen’s firm hand on his shoulder that stops him from throwing everything away. Their unusual relationship takes a turn that surprises them both, and neither man is sure he wants the complication. Galen is fighting the ghosts of his past, and Cam has his own nightmares to face. When Cam’s troubles threaten to tear them apart, Cam figures he had it coming—that it’s all penance due for a life lived without honesty or love. But he never considered the possibility that he might not survive it.

 

Length: Novel (240p.) | Genre: Contemporary | Release Date: August 8, 2014

Buy as eBook ($6.99 ISBN: 978-1-63216-182-6) | Buy as Paperback ($14.99 ISBN: 978-1-63216-181-9)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wine and Roses by Augusta Li

 

As they live and work together, Alain realizes Breeze isn’t what he thought, and Breeze sees more to Alain than he ever imagined possible.

Other Paths: Book One; A Tale of the Blessed Epoch

 

Mage Yarroway L’Estrella decided the Battle of the Starlight Bridge when he summoned fire from the heavens. The blaze decimated much of the vineyard that has been in Alain Lamont’s family for nine generations. Mountain Shadow Winery may no longer be able to support Alain’s family or the dozens of others who call it home, but Alain vows not to fail all those depending on him.

 

Mercenary Fabrezio Orvina d’Caelus, Breeze to his friends, appreciates Alain taking him in when he’s badly wounded after the battle, but he has no intention of living the dull life of a farmer any longer than necessary. Though he likes the vintner, he sees Alain as soft and sheltered, hardly a man who can understand a warrior’s calling.

 

As they live and work together, Alain realizes Breeze isn’t exactly the amoral opportunist he suspected, and Breeze sees more strength in Alain than he thought possible of a simple winemaker. Life on the estate is richer and less boring than Breeze first imagined. With ingenuity, courage, and cooperation, they may devise a way to revitalize the vineyard and move beyond the pain and loss of their pasts.

 

Length: Novel (224p.) | Genre: High Fantasy  | Release Date: August 8, 2014

Buy as eBook ($6.99 ISBN: 978-1-62798-954-1) | Buy as Paperback ($14.99 ISBN: 978-1-62798-953-4)

Wine and Roses–Character Intro and Excerpt #1

August 8, 2014

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Hello again! Gus (August Li) here to celebrate the release of my latest novel, Wine and Roses. As I said in a previous post, Wine and Roses is set in a fantasy universe but features everyday people. I’d like to introduce you to the main characters.

 

Alain Lamont is a vintner. He grows grapes and makes wines on Mountain Shadow Winery, which has been in his family for over five hundred years. Alain is quiet, even awkward in social situations at times, but he’s very dedicated to the vineyard and the dozens of families who live and work there. He shows his love best by working hard, sometimes to his own detriment. Alain loves taking care of the grapes and would never want to do anything else. He just wishes he had someone to share it with, but he doesn’t hold out much hope of finding a partner in a culture where homosexual relationships are forbidden, so he tries to content himself with his land and his work.

 

Alain’s life becomes much more difficult when a fire—the one Yarrow summoned in Ash and Echoes—destroys over half of the vineyard. With so many of his vines destroyed, Alain doesn’t know how he’ll make enough wine to sustain the vineyard or all the people living on it. Worst of all, he feels the weight is on his shoulders alone, and he feels more isolated than ever.

 

Most people can’t pronounce Fabrezio Orvina d’Caelus’s name, so when he joined a mercenary company, he was given the nickname Breeze, and it stuck. Breeze makes no apology for being a soldier for hire, and at first he has a hard time understanding how Alain can be so satisfied with life on the vineyard. He assumes it’s boring and can’t fathom that Alain doesn’t want to seek glory and excitement. Still, Breeze appreciates that Alain helped him when he was seriously wounded after the battle, and he wants to do what he can to repay Alain and get the winery back on its feet before he’s well enough to rejoin his company.

 

Breeze and Alain don’t get along very well at first. Breeze thinks Alain is uptight, and Alain is mistrustful of soldiers and mercenaries, especially after the fire. He sees Breeze as an opportunist—selfish and only interested in money. Breeze is also a mercenary and he talks and acts like one—he swears a lot, teases, and flirts with Alain, which Alain does not appreciate. It takes a long time before each of them sees there’s more to the other….

 

GrapesExcerpt:

 

Alain looked wan and pale when he came in with Breeze’s breakfast the following morning. The dark crescents under his blue eyes made Breeze wonder if he’d slept at all. He suspected Alain’s restlessness might have been his fault. He hadn’t realized Alain had lost his wife in the fire. What an ass.

Still, Alain offered him a smile as he set a tray bearing some porridge, boiled eggs, a slice of ham, and a bowl of beans on Breeze’s lap. He sat on the edge of the bed as he always did and poured wine. “How are you feeling this morning? Did you sleep well?”

“Better than it looks like you did. Why is that?”

“I’m fine.”

Breeze put down the forkful of bacon-flavored beans he’d been about to shovel into his mouth and took Alain’s hand. At his touch, Alain flinched and tried to pull away, but Breeze held firm, and eventually he relaxed. “Look, Alain. I’m just a sell-sword. I never claimed to be a scholar, but I feel like a stupid ass for not realizing you lost your wife in the fire. I hope that damned mage rots in the rankest pit of the Shades’ Abode. But I’m sorry for being dull-witted, and for letting my tongue wag like the fucking fool I am. I know I hurt you, and I’m sorry.”

When Alain looked at Breeze, tears glittered in his summer-sky eyes but didn’t fall. He shook his head. “No, I’ve never had a wife.”

“But Courtenay and Fenn?”

“My twin sister’s children. My niece and nephew. My brother-in-law, their father, died in the fire. I’m all they have left now. I… I don’t know if I’m good enough to raise them on my own. I love them, but I’m afraid I’ll fail them.”

“What happened to your sister?”

Alain caught the single tear he let fall on his fingertip and looked away to hide his grief. “She died giving birth to Fenn. Six years ago.”

Breeze didn’t know what to say, so he squeezed Alain’s hand a little tighter, and Alain squeezed back. What he really wanted to know was how Alain had remained unmarried. Breeze freely admitted he was a handsome man, with his rose-and-honey coloring and those expressive eyes. And lips—pink, firm, and full without looking pillowy or slack. Add to that his estate, and he could have his pick of the buxom country girls. If he wanted help with the children, why not take a wife? Could he be…. Damn, out of nowhere, Breeze really wanted to know whose body Alain imagined when he slid into bed and slipped his hand into his trousers. He could see it: Alain’s teeth denting his lower lip, red rushing all the way to the tips of his ears—

And he was a fucking pig for thinking about that while Alain struggled not to break down. Besides, it was none of his damned business who or what the vintner fucked, if anyone. Hopefully, in another month or so, he’d be long gone. On to better things. Still, he didn’t like seeing Alain suffering. “I’m sorry.” What a platitude. Breeze just wasn’t used to men who needed comforting.

Alain nodded. “Thank you. You should finish your breakfast so I can change your dressings. Best to get it over with.”

After a few more bites of food, Breeze asked, “Do you have a bathtub? I’m as rank as a whore’s underpants, and I’d kill for a proper wash.” He set his fork on his plate and scratched his chin. “And a shave.”

He didn’t know why that made Alain smile, but seeing it pleased him. “Why do you want to shave off your whiskers?”

“That’s just how it’s done in Espero. Men shave every day. The heat, I suppose. I’m just not used to these whiskers. Why, do you like them?”

Alain tensed visibly, and Breeze felt like horse’s ass. Again. He was making this a habit. Why had he said that?

“I don’t care about them one way or another. I just wondered. Most men in Selindria don’t shave their whiskers.”

“You do,” Breeze observed.

Alain touched his soft-looking cheek with the fingers of his splinted hand. The way Alain worked and took care of him, Breeze found it easy to forget about the other man’s injury. Truth be told, he bore it like a warrior. “Mine comes in all patchy. I can’t grow a proper beard, just little scraps here and there. I look like a fool when I don’t shave.”

Breeze wondered if the hair grew in little golden swaths down the center of his chest, his soft belly, between his legs. Bleeding Shades, he had to drive off the pictures in his head. They’d make an Elvaran street slag blush. “So, could I trouble you for a bath? I’m sure you’ve had your fill of my stink.”

“You’ll have to come down the stairs, to the kitchen. We have an indoor well and a tub in a room just beyond it. I can help you, if you think you can make it.”

“I think I can. I feel heartier than I have since I woke up.” And if Alain looked beneath Breeze’s sheets, he’d see plenty of proof. Probably best to get rid of that before Alain helped him bathe. He struggled to focus on his breakfast and think about anything else. Luckily, Alain helped distract him.

“So, I guessed you were from Espero. I haven’t met many people from the island. How long have you been away?”

“About seven years.”

“You must have been quite young when you left home,” Alain said.

“Yes, I’d just come of age.”

“Why did you leave?”

“Wanted to see the world, I suppose. Don’t you?”

Alain laughed. “No! I have everything I need right here. This land has been in my family for nine generations—almost five hundred years. Since my ancestors accepted this property from the valen of Lockhaven, it’s taken care of us. I love this place. I can’t imagine leaving. Espero wasn’t like that for you?”

“No.” Silence fell between them as Breeze finished his breakfast. He didn’t want to talk about Espero, and it wasn’t anything Alain would be able to comprehend. “You don’t want more for yourself? Something grander? Adventure and glory for your name?” What young man didn’t?

“No. I have no one to prove anything to. I love tending the grapes and the land. The goddesses have blessed us, and I’m thankful. My heart is here.”

Sounds frightfully dull, Breeze thought, if comfortable. “No aspirations at all?”

“Maybe just… someone to share it with. But that won’t happen.” Alain seemed ready say more, but stopped himself and paused before rushing to quantify his statement. “Not anytime soon, at least. I have too much to do to get the vineyard back to where it can support us. Buildings need repaired, and over half of the vines will have to be replanted. I can only pray we’ll be able to harvest enough come Berris’s Moon to produce enough wine to sell next year. What we have to take to market this summer will barely get us by. Too many of the cellars caved in when the support beams burned. Luckily, last year was good, and we’ll fetch a good price for what’s left. And we have the ice wine. I’m sorry. You probably don’t care about any of this.”

To Breeze’s surprise, he found he did, a little, and he caught himself imagining ways to help the vineyard thrive. Not that he knew a thing about it. “What is ice wine?”

“We leave the grapes on the vine until the frost, let them freeze before harvesting. The water in them turns to ice, and it concentrates their sweetness. We press them while they’re still frozen, and it produces the most exquisite wine, as golden as the sunlight, sweet as honey, and with a taste of the mountains and the winter. It can be sold for exorbitant prices; the nobles here in the north adore it. Ice wine is risky, though. First off, if the frost comes too late, we chance letting the grapes rot on the vine and losing an entire crop. Secondly, the frozen grapes produce much less juice than they would if we picked them normally, so of course they produce less wine.”

“That seems the thing to do, then. You might end up with less wine, but you’ll make more gold in the long run, won’t you?”

Alain wiggled his fingers in Breeze’s hand like he wanted to tap them on something as he considered. “Possibly. Not all the grapes will work, though. And there’s a good chance the goddesses and seasons won’t cooperate. We usually only risk a small portion of the grapes for the ice wine, those we can afford to lose. If we made them all into ice wine, we would do quite well, but if we lost them to rot, we’d be doomed.”

“Octavian always tells me destiny smiles on the bold man and ignores the timid.”

“You speak highly of him,” Alain said.

“He’s a good man, as I explained. Shrewd, though. Sharp as a dagger. And, I suppose, he was good to me. Gave me a chance.”

Alain looked at him intently, batting his long golden lashes, so Breeze continued. “He could have turned me away. I wasn’t much of a warrior when I went to join the Roses. But I told him my story, and he told me his, and it turned out they weren’t so different. He gave me a place to belong. Saw some worth in me that no one else ever had. I owe him a great deal.”

“You didn’t feel like you belonged in Espero?”

“No.” Dammit, he didn’t want to talk about this. He pulled loose of Alain’s hand and took a long drink of wine to avoid speaking.

“Why?”

“I just wanted a different life from the one laid out for me there. Same as Octavian. I wanted to make it on my own like he did. He’s not much older than us, you know.”

“He sounds like a remarkable man.” Alain looked like he wanted to say something else, but he busied himself with stacking Breeze’s empty dishes onto the tray. “I suppose we should see to your bath.”

Alain left the tray on the floor next to the bed and helped Breeze to stand. He arranged Breeze’s arm over his shoulders, and Breeze caught his own scent. Goddesses, he really reeked, and he felt suddenly self-conscious.

The trip down the stairs and through the cheery kitchen hurt less than Breeze expected, but by the time they reached the small, whitewashed room at the end of the long corridor, the side of his left thigh trembled and threatened to cramp. Alain helped him to sit on a wooden chair while he filled three metal pails from the pump and suspended them over a raised pit of coals in the corner of the room. Then he picked up a pair of shears. “Oh no. I have to take your bandages off, and you didn’t take your elixir.”

Breeze laughed. “I can hardly wash and shave myself if I’m fast asleep. Or were you planning to do it?”

Alain colored. Goddesses, that was alluring, and Breeze wondered how far the dusky-rose color spread down his neck. Even his lips darkened when he spoke. “I have done it, you know. Bathed you.”

“I know. Thank you. I was only teasing. I did not mean to upset you.”

“I’m not upset. I just don’t like doing this. I know it’s necessary to the healing, but I don’t like seeing you… seeing anyone suffering. I should go back to your room and fetch the tonic.”

“I’d rather do without it,” Breeze said. “I’ve had enough of feeling fuzzy.”

“You really should—”

“Alain, I will be fine. This isn’t the first time I’ve been injured.” He didn’t add that it was by far the worst, or that he wanted to experience what was about to happen without the haze of the elixir.

“I’ll at least go the kitchen and get you more wine to dull the pain.”

He returned with an open bottle, and Breeze drank. Goddesses, this would spoil him. This tasted like wine from Espero, bright and bold with notes of bitter cherry, currant, the black stone Pherara had pulled from the sea to form the island, leather, and tarberry. He almost moaned as it slid down his throat to warm his belly. “Amazing. You made this?”

“It takes a great many people,” Alain said as he emptied the buckets into the round wooden tub.

“But according to your instructions,” Breeze pressed.

“Yes, I suppose.”

“You, my friend, are an artist.”

“Thank you, but that’s hardly the best we have to offer. Just table wine, really.”

“Goddesses.”

“Your bath is ready. I should take your dressings off. Drink some more.”

Breeze didn’t need to be told twice. After a few long pulls, he carefully rolled the loose brown trousers the children had given him to his ankles and lifted his feet out. Aside from the linen strips, he was completely naked. Not that he was shy—at Rosecairn, the men swam together in the summer and helped each other on and off with their armor. Besides, Alain had seen him, so he didn’t bother covering himself. When Alain turned and saw him sitting with his legs open, everything on display, he blushed almost as burgundy as the wine and tossed Breeze a towel.

Breeze chuckled but draped it across his sensitive bits. “I’m sure you’ve seen it.”

“I have seen it,” Alain said a little shortly, “not that I was trying to look, or staring at it, or something. I kept it covered up when I could!”

“I never meant to imply otherwise, friend.” Alain did not like being teased. Breeze was used to the back and forth jibes between the warriors at Rosecairn, and sometimes they grew quite vicious, but he didn’t want to make Alain uncomfortable. “You know me. Not used to the company of civilized men. I apologize.”

 

Buy Link (25% off August 8-12!)

 

So what do you think of Alain and Breeze? Who is your favorite so far?

 

Do you like “opposites attract” storylines—where it takes a while for characters to look past their preconceptions and understand each other?

Wine and Roses Release Party

August 8, 2014

WineRosesLGHello everybody and happy Friday! My name is August Li but most people call me Gus.  I’ll be here on the Dreamspinner Press blog throughout the day today to celebrate the release of my latest novel, Wine and Roses.

 

Those of you who are familiar with me and my work will know I’m primarily a fantasy author. I have a sweeping fantasy series called the Blessed Epoch featuring epic conflicts, mages, knights, assassins, and large scale battles. As much as I love writing that series, I wanted to go in a different direction with Wine and Roses. While it is set in the same universe as the rest of the Blessed Epoch, it features “ordinary” characters because I wanted to explore the lives of people living in this world who aren’t princes, pirates, or sorcerers. After all, those kinds of people can only exist with “average” people to support them. So, Alain (the blond on the cover) is a vintner and farmer, living and working on a winery that has been in his family for over five hundred years. Granted, he’s a very superior vintner and makes exceptional wine, but he wants nothing to do with the power struggles of the privileged and would be happy to be left alone and take care of his land and his grapes.

 

Of course war affects Alain, his family, and Mountain Shadow Winery, and this is how he meets Breeze, who is just a soldier for hire. Breeze’s interests at the start of the book are pretty simple: some excitement and some money to spend. He’s outgoing and can be crass as often as he’s charming, but there’s a lot more to him than that….

 

Wine and Roses is also the closest I’ve come to writing a true romance novel. Most of my books are more High Fantasy with some romantic elements. Wine and Roses, while it has some fantasy elements—I had to put at least one fight in—is a love story at the core. It’s set in a fantasy world, but I hope it might appeal to those readers who don’t want the outside conflict in epic High Fantasy. I hope it can appeal to readers of both genres.

 

Here’s the book blurb and buy link for Wine and Roses. Best of all, it’s on sale for 25% off between August 8-12.

 

*****

Mage Yarroway L’Estrella decided the Battle of the Starlight Bridge when he summoned fire from the heavens. The blaze decimated much of the vineyard that has been in Alain Lamont’s family for nine generations. Mountain Shadow Winery may no longer be able to support Alain’s family or the dozens of others who call it home, but Alain vows not to fail all those depending on him.

 

Mercenary Fabrezio Orvina d’Caelus, Breeze to his friends, appreciates Alain taking him in when he’s badly wounded after the battle, but he has no intention of living the dull life of a farmer any longer than necessary. Though he likes the vintner, he sees Alain as soft and sheltered, hardly a man who can understand a warrior’s calling.

 

As they live and work together, Alain realizes Breeze isn’t exactly the amoral opportunist he suspected, and Breeze sees more strength in Alain than he thought possible of a simple winemaker. Life on the estate is richer and less boring than Breeze first imagined. With ingenuity, courage, and cooperation, they may devise a way to revitalize the vineyard and move beyond the pain and loss of their pasts.

 

*****

 

Buy Link

 

I’ll be around throughout the day with more information on the world and characters of Wine and Roses. I’ll have excerpts and a giveaway later. Until then, feel free to ask me questions, and I’ll do my best to answer.

 

My questions for readers:

 

Do you read fantasy? How do you feel about reading about the “ordinary” people in a fantasy world? Or would you rather read epic storylines about powerful characters?

 

How much external conflict do you like in your romance? Do you prefer it when characters are facing a lot of obstacles or when they can focus on the love story?

Harmony Ink New Release: August 7, 2014

August 7, 2014

Loveblood by M.J. O’Shea

A Harmony Ink Press Young Adult Title

From the moment teenage werewolves Jonah and Max meet, their worlds get turned inside out. Nothing will be the same for them ever again. Loveblood by M.J. O’Shea, a Harmony Ink Press Young Adult title available from Dreamspinner Press.

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Max Appleton and his mother Celia are are on the run, hiding from an abusive father and husband who’s also a notoriously bad pack leader. When Max hit puberty and it became obvious he’d never make an alpha wolf, his father turned the brunt of his anger toward his inferior son and his beta wolf wife for producing him. Max and Celia find sanctuary in a garden cottage at Holly Court, the sprawling estate where Celia’s oldest friend lives with her pack alpha husband, three daughters, and teenaged son Jonah.

Jonah Spellman has what seems like the perfect life. His family is close, his dad is respected by their whole pack, and he’s been groomed to take over for as long as he can remember. Everything is set, his whole life planned, and Jonah works hard to be exactly what everyone expects. He’s under enough pressure without a runaway from a bad pack complicating his life.

When two teenaged werewolves from very different worlds meet one snowy January day, both of their worlds get turned inside out. From the moment they meet, nothing will be the same for Jonah or Max ever again.

Length: Novel (256p.) | Genre: Paranormal – Werewolves, Young Adult, Gay | Release Date: August 7, 2014

Buy as an eBook (ISBN: 978-1-63216-242-7) | Buy as a Paperback (ISBN: 978-1-63216-240-3)

New Releases: August 6th, 2014

August 6, 2014

Last Chance Charlie by Ryan Loveless

 

Charlie is the best thing in Zach’s life, even though they haven’t met. After an appointment, Charlie’s back and wants to take Zach out.

Charlie Corcoran is the best thing about twenty-five-year old Zach Prentiss’s life. Sure, they’ve never met. Charlie’s never seen Zach from the neck up, but because of Charlie, for a few hours Zach can forget about his sick father, his falling grades, and his dwindling clientele who don’t like that he’s a rentboy who ages. With Charlie, he talks online about comics, cars, and movies. Then a new client arrives. It’s Charlie wanting sex tips… for a date with Zach. Zach goes through with the appointment, convinced it’s over if Charlie recognizes him. However, he doesn’t have long to nurse his broken heart or worry about Charlie’s before Charlie is back, wanting to take him out, introduce him to Mom, and treat him like he’s decent.

 

Length: Novella (198p.) | Genre: Contemporary, BDSM | Release Date: August 6, 2014

Buy as eBook ($4.99 ISBN: 978-1-63216-018-8)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love on the Rocks by Melanie Tushmore

 

Cabaret entertainer Justin’s public charm doesn’t win over Yena. Justin can only hope the real him is irresistible to the man he loves.

Another Bar Tender Tale

 

Twenty-six-year-old barman and cabaret entertainer Justin has recently moved to London for a fresh start. Charismatic and flirty, Justin is naturally the center of attention wherever he goes. There’s only one problem: the object of Justin’s affections, a handsome, enigmatic bartender named Yena, isn’t won over by Justin’s charm. In fact, he flat out turns Justin down.

 

Stripping off his showmanship frills and charms, Justin aims for a different approach: reveal himself for who he is. Underneath his public face Justin is an honest young man who wants someone special to share his time with… and laugh at his awful jokes.

 

Justin can only hope the real him is irresistible to the man he loves.

 

Length: Novella (226p.) | Genre: Contemporary | Release Date: August 6, 2014

Buy as eBook ($5.99 ISBN: 978-1-62798-933-6)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Resurrection Man by K.Z. Snow

 

On a fall day, a pair of new presences in Elijah’s life promise to shape his future. Both prompt him to decide which dreams to pursue.

Bad enough Elijah Colter’s life of comfort comes to an abrupt end when he’s seventeen and his family discovers he’s gay. Bad enough he must live out of his car and turn tricks. But when his perfect boyfriend, Alonzo, becomes the victim of a drive-by shooting, Elijah plummets into suicidal depression. The concepts of trust and hope become more alien to him than ever.

 

All that keeps Elijah going is a promise he made: that he would look after Alonzo’s stepdad, Dizzy, who’s on the verge of losing his house.

 

Diz and Elijah become companions in homelessness—until Elijah discovers a program for throwaway LGBT youth. Through it he secures an apartment… then loses it after a year. He’s kept his promise, though, and until he can get back on his feet, he’s resigned to joining Dizzy in the abandoned factory the older man calls home.

 

One fall day, a pair of new presences in Elijah’s life promise to shape his future: Michael, an outreach volunteer, and Alonzo’s ghost. Both prompt Elijah to decide which of his dreams to pursue, which to cast aside, and just how much he can dare to believe in love, and in himself, again.

 

Length: Novella (209p.) | Genre: Paranormal: Ghosts/Spirit| Release Date: August 6, 2014

Buy as eBook ($5.99 ISBN: 978-1-63216-024-9)

New Releases: August 4th, 2014

August 4, 2014

Blood & Thunder by Charlie Cochet

 

Dex and Sloane need each other, and, along with trust, the strength of their bond will mean the difference between justice and war.

Sequel to Hell & High Water; THIRDS: Book Two

 

When a series of bombs go off in a Therian youth center, injuring members of THIRDS Team Destructive Delta and causing a rift between agents Dexter J. Daley and Sloane Brodie, peace seems unattainable. Especially when a new and frightening group, the Order of Adrasteia, appears to always be a step ahead. With panic and intolerance spreading and streets becoming littered with the Order’s propaganda, hostility between Humans and Therians grows daily. Dex and Sloane, along with the rest of the team, are determined to take down the Order and restore peace, not to mention settle a personal score. But the deeper the team investigates the bombings, the more they believe there’s a more sinister motive than a desire to shed blood and spread chaos.

 

Discovering the frightful truth behind the Order’s intent forces Sloane to confront secrets from a past he thought he’d left behind for good, a past that could not only destroy him and his career, but also the reputation of the organization that made him all he is today. Now more than ever, Dex and Sloane need each other, and, along with trust, the strength of their bond will mean the difference between justice and all-out war.

 

Length: Novel (240p.) | Genre: Paranormal, Werewolves/Shifters, Humor, Science Fiction, Mystery/Suspense | Release Date: August 4, 2014

Buy as eBook ($6.99 ISBN: 978-1-63216-178-9) | Buy as Paperback ($14.99 ISBN: 978-1-63216-177-2)

 

 

 

 

 

Scars on His Heart by Jaime Samms

 

Joe must confront his ex and take back his own life, on his own terms, before he can give Cam everything they both desire.

After a disastrous five years away at college, Joe returns to his aunt’s farm and finds his childhood sweetheart Cameron eager to rekindle their relationship. Joe has a hard time confessing that he didn’t come home until now because he’s only just managed to leave Andre, his controlling boyfriend, and has a harder time renewing his submissive role in his affair with Cam. Cam thinks he has to find a way to remind Joe how to be strong. But what Cam doesn’t realize is that Joe is strong, strong enough to leave behind a life of shame—though he’s terrified his past will catch up to him. Joe must confront his ex and take back his own life, on his own terms, before he’s able to give Cam everything they both desire.

 

Length: Novel (260p.) | Genre: Contemporary | Release Date: August 4, 2014

Buy as eBook ($6.99 ISBN: 978-1-63216-180-2) | Buy as Paperback ($16.99 ISBN: 978-1-63216-179-6)

 

 

 

 

 

Chasing the Dragon by Kate Sherwood

 

New beginnings spark a relationship for Christian and Hunter. For two men with dark pasts, relying on each other is easier said than done.

When mercenary Jack Hunter stumbles upon Christian Manning servicing a client in a back alley, it stirs feelings he’s kept deeply buried. Hunter becomes Christian’s knight in shining armor when he rescues him from an attack and takes him to his secluded cabin to heal.

 

Being stuck in the cabin over the winter gives both men a chance to get their lives in order. Christian is struggling to break his heroin addiction, and Hunter needs to get away from the organization he helped start years before—a group of people who don’t appreciate being told no. It’s a toss-up which goal is more difficult. Their new starts spark a relationship between them, but nothing good comes cheap. Despite the complications, Hunter wants more, but Christian is resistant to making that commitment. When Hunter’s private security company threatens them, only nurturing the fragile trust they formed at the beginning of their love affair will save them. But for two men with very dark pasts, relying on each other might be easier said than done.

 

Length: Novel (230p.) | Genre: Mystery/Suspense | Release Date: August 4, 2014

Buy as eBook ($6.99 ISBN: 978-1-63216-032-4) | Buy as Paperback ($14.99 ISBN: 978-1-63216-031-7)

Blood & Thunder Release Day Party: Winner & Goodnight!

August 4, 2014

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Hey all! Thank you so much to everyone who stopped by! It’s been an awesome day!

By the power of the Magic Hat, a random name has been drawn for the Blood & Thunder Release Day Party giveaway which includes any 2 eBooks from my current releases. Now onto the winner! By the power of the Magic Hat, the winner is:

DSP BT Party

 

Congrats, Antonia! I’ll be in touch shortly to arrange delivery of your prizes!

If you didn’t win, remember you can still enter the blog tour giveaway! There are also plenty more fun events and giveaways coming soon.

Again, to everyone who participated today or dropped by, a huge thank you from me and the fellas!

 

Now available from Dreamspinner Press in eBook | Paperback

THIRDSHQ | THIRDS Nerds on Goodreads | THIRDS Nerds on Facebook

 

About the Author:

Charlie Cochet is an author by day and artist by night. Always quick to succumb to the whispers of her wayward muse, no star is out of reach when following her passion. From Historical to Fantasy, Contemporary to Science Fiction, there’s bound to be plenty of mischief for her heroes to find themselves in, and plenty of romance, too!

Currently residing in South Florida, Charlie looks forward to migrating to a land where the weather includes seasons other than hot, hotter, and boy, it’s hot! When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading, drawing, or watching movies. She runs on coffee, thrives on music, and loves to hear from readers.

 Visit Charlie’s Author Website | Sign up for Charlie’s Newsletter

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Blog Tour Stops:

1st Aug - Prism Book Alliance
4th Aug - Dreamspinner Press Blog Release Party & Release Day Blitz
5th Aug - The Blogger Girls
6th Aug - The Novel Approach
7th Aug - Hearts on Fire
8th Aug – Attention is Arbitrary
9th Aug - Dreamspinner Press Facebook page.
11th Aug - Joyfully Jay
12th Aug – TTC Books and More

 

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