Lasting Friendships with Melanie Hansen + Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway

September 28, 2015

lasting friendships

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.
“Bend, Oregon?”
“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


Artistic Inspiration with Lane Hayes – Post and Giveaway

September 25, 2015

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Hello! I’m Lane Hayes and today is a very special day.  Sure, it’s 3 months till Christmas, Halloween is just over a month away and the kids have finally settled into their school routine (phew!) but it’s also Release Day for Better Than Safe, book #4 in the Better Than Stories series.  Woohoo! This book is Paul’s story.  You may remember him from Better Than Friends, but if you’re new to the series, don’t worry. All the books are standalones.  You won’t miss out if you haven’t read the others first, but hopefully you’ll be interested in taking a peek at the other boys’ stories too. ☺

Better Than Safe is ultimately a story about facing fear and finding things may just be better than expected.  Paul is one of those very “together” guys.  He’s a wealthy, worldly, successful executive for an advertisement agency specializing in haute couture.  The world of high fashion may appear glamorous but Paul knows it can be sheer bedlam. Which is why he’d love to meet a nice, easy going, uncomplicated man.  Instead, he meets Seth.  Seth is the very opposite of everything Paul is sure he wants in his life.  But he may be exactly what Paul needs. If you’re familiar with any of my books, you’ll know I adore the “opposites attract” trope. I love the feverish tension when two unlikely men find they simply can’t stay away from each other. In Paul’s case, he’s sure he has nothing in common with Seth.  Except fashion, art and perhaps a heavy dose of physical chemistry.  Not a bad start.

I’m often asked what inspires me.  For me, it always begins with the city in which the story takes place. The Better Than Stories are set in Washington DC, which may conjure images of political intrigue for some, but let’s not forget that DC is also home to the Smithsonian, the largest museum and research complex in the world. For an art lover, it is paradise! I’ve been hoping to find a way to tie in my love of art to one of my books and Better Than Safe gave me the perfect opportunity.  Seth is an artist, Paul is an art enthusiast. Like me, he’d like nothing more than to spend a day getting lost in a museum.  Paul appreciates the nuances of the creative process.  He understands the quirkier mindset and oddball communicative style that often leads to a masterpiece.  And he knows how to “read” art. The heavy-handed brush stroke, the use of color, movement and composition.  In the world of art and to some degree, in life, Paul is the consummate observer.  Seth is a doer. He’s manic, wild and difficult to know. At one point, Paul likens him to a beautiful bird with a broken wing… able to fly at a moment’s notice, and yet not always sure of his own strength.

Finding an unexpected piece of you in someone else is true romance. I love stories of self doubt and personal tension in which a character is certain they have all the answers, only to discover they really don’t know a thing.  The process of leaving oneself open to possibility is the beginning of a new start.  And ultimately, it’s better than being safe.

Giveaway Opportunity!

Books are my first love, but art is a strong second. One of my favorite places is MOMA in New York City.  I love modern art in particular.  Seeing my favorite Picasso’s on exhibit is a thrill to me. It never gets old!  I’d like to giveaway 2 $10 gift cards to Dreamspinner Press.  For a chance to win, all you have to do is name your favorite pastime and give an example.  For example… I love modern art. One of my favorite pieces is this one by Pablo Picasso.


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Thank you so much for stopping by today! I’ll be checking in often to say hello, so please be sure to leave comments!

Happy Reading!

Lane Hayes xo


Better Than Safe is available now!
Dreamspinner Press:


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Twitter:  LaneHayes3

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*Here’s an inspiration pic of Seth, by the way ☺.  Kind of gorgeous, eh?

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Dream Home with Caitlin Ricci – Blog Post and Giveaway

September 21, 2015


Hey everyone! I’m Caitlin Ricci and today I’d like to talk a little bit about my new contemporary gay romance novel, One More Time, which comes out through Dreamspinner Press on September 21st. Thank you for joining me today and I hope you’re having a good time wherever you are in the world.

When I was ten the Navy transferred my mom and I to Colorado and back then I thought everyone had a horse and I would be going to school with a bunch of cowboys and since I had been riding for years at that point I was ectatic. I really thought this would be my chance to have a horse in my backyard that I rode to school every day. Well, that wasn’t really the case of course but there are plenty of horses around and I fell in love with the mountains instantly. I’d always been a water baby up until moving here since we’d been on the coast constantly. In Colorado we have rivers and some lakes but most of the water I see everyday is man made reservoirs so that changed my mind in a hurry about going into that water anytime soon.

What didn’t change though was my love of horses, and of small towns, and in Colorado I found a newfound joy in getting to go riding in those mountains. Camping with horses and taking day trips into the mountains is a big thing here whereas everyone back east that I knew thought that going on an hour long trail ride into the woods was a highlight. I got a new perspective here and I found my love of small towns again. I’d grown up in one in Maine and the lack of people and cars had always made me happy.

I knew I wanted to write about a small Colorado mountain town at some point but it wasn’t until I wrote Weathering the Storm, a young adult novel through Harmony Ink Press, that I really got to start playing with that idea. And in that novel Caleb and Trent came into existence. They were supporting characters but people kept asking for their story while I was doing edits and I knew I wanted to spend more time with them, and with my new little town of Thornwood. I wanted to go live there and never leave, especially when I gave Caleb a large cabin overlooking horse pastures. That is a my dream property.

And since I fell so hard for Trent and Caleb, and Thornwood too, I knew that this was going to be the start of a series of novels all taking place in my tiny town in Colorado.


To win an ebook copy of any book from my Dreamspinner or Harmony Ink back list please answer this question in the comments: Now that you know my dream home, what would yours be?


Thank you for joining me today. Please keep in touch. I’d love to hear from you.

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One More Time at Dreamspinner Press.

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Building Love with Avon Gale

September 20, 2015

Building Love

Hi there! My name is Avon Gale, and my first novel, “Let the Wrong Light In,” comes out on Friday. Yay! Dreamspinner was kind enough to offer me a blog post to say hello and tell you about the book. It’s my first novel, and I’m very excited to share it with you!

The story is about Avery Hextall, a promising junior associate at a commercial architecture firm, who has a stuffy, uptight project manager named Malin Lacroix that he can’t stand — and yet, totally wants to bang. When Avery’s design for a new performing arts center is chosen by the firm, Malin and Avery are forced to work closely together to see it built — and find themselves rushing headlong into a secretive, risky relationship that could cost them both their careers.

In order for them to have a future together, bold, impulsive Avery will have to come to terms with his own insecurities and help the emotionally-distant Malin move beyond a devastating tragedy from his past.

In the book, I use a lot of metaphors relating the characters to different aspects of buildings and architecture. Avery is an extrovert and a people-pleaser, so it made sense to me that he would be interested in commercial architecture, and in creating shared spaces for communities.

Malin, however, is an introvert who is more comfortable in his own head than with other people, and he began his career in residential design. Houses are symbols of our subconscious, and I thought it fit well with Malin’s personality that his initial interest in architecture would be residential in nature. How Malin eventually ends up as a project manager in a commercial firm is a part of their story.

I thought I’d take this opportunity to talk a little about the architecture that’s described in the book. I’m not an architect (too much math!) but I do have an art history degree, and one thing I’ve always loved is writing about art/architecture. I primarily studied ancient art, but I did have to take a few classes in modern and I always really enjoyed them. It’s helpful to me to have reference photographs to work with, so when I sat down to write I went looking for some examples of modern architecture, both commercial and residential, as research for the novel.

While the performing arts center that Avery designs is fictional, I based it on the work of architect Moshe Safdie. Safdie designed the Kauffman Performing Arts center in Kansas City and the United States Institute of Peace Headquarters in DC, as well as various other community buildings throughout Canada, the US, and Israel. He’s noted for his use of strong geometric patterns and bold curves, and glass and windows feature heavily in all of his designs —  much like Avery’s.

Safdie’s goal as an architect is to provide meaningful, inclusionary spaces for communities to come together, and he’s also known to embrace sustainability and incorporate green spaces into his building plans. This also reminded me very much of Avery, and while the Knight Performing Arts Center isn’t based on one particular building, Safdie was definitely my inspiration.


United States Institute of Peace (Moshe Safdie)

Also, while on a boat tour of the city of Montreal in 2012, it was seeing Safdie’s Habitat 67 that made me want to write a book about architects! Initially my commercial architect was going to be French-Canadian like Safdie, but characters are contrary creatures and Avery just wouldn’t cooperate. So I decided to make my project-manager and residential designer French-Canadian, instead. Hence, Malin Lacroix.


Habitat 67, Montreal (Moshe Safdie)

As for Malin, his designs were based on mid-century modernist architects like Craig Ellwood and A. Quincy Jones. Both were noted for their use of strong lines, light and glass, and Ellwood has a great quote about how truly great architecture should invoke strong emotions from the viewer.

As Malin’s emotions are definitely tied up with one particular house in the story, I thought that was particularly fitting for him. I also saw a great picture of Ellwood smoking, which immediately made me think of Malin. Some of Ellwood and Jones’ work is a bit too dated now to be entirely what I saw in my head when I thought of Malin’s Berkshire House, but the general ideas are there.


Daphne House (Craig Ellwood)


Holmby Hills Home (A. Quincy Jones)

I had a lot of fun looking for the reference photos for the various buildings and design styles in the book, and if you’re interested in looking at any of them, I’ve got a board on my Pinterest devoted to locations. And if anyone finds a house that looks like the one described in the novel, send it my way as I’d love to see it!

What kind of building would you say best describes you, and why? Sleek and modern, overwrought and gothic (that’d definitely be mine), classic and elegant? Would your building avatar be made of glass, include water slides for no reason (because mine would), have soaring towers and spiral staircases? The possibilities are endless! Leave a comment, and a picture or link if you like! One commenter will be chosen at random to win a copy of the book.

Let the Wrong Light In is available for pre-order on Dreamspinner’s website, and will be released on September 25th.

I love talking to people basically all the time, so hit me up on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest and come say hello! You can also find me on my website,

Stalked by Susanna Hays – The Work Process

September 17, 2015

How I came up with the idea for Stalked originally came from an open submission call from another site. It was stated that they wanted a unique spin on shape shifters that did not use the alpha/beta/omega tropes, and I thought I’d give it a shot. This was new territory for me because, as stated previously, I never wrote about shifters before.


When working on Stalked, I just recently bought Scrivener, which was a new program to me at the time. I instantly fell in love with it, and even more so when working on my second novel and using much more of the features provided. The program is about $40 USD and I highly recommend it to those who love to outline and have many files for one story. I am currently using it as a virtual trapper keeper for all my stories since I sometimes like to flop to different stories at the same time.


My favorite parts in writing Stalked has to be the silly dialogue between Yori and Bryce. I love writing banters and silly lines, so their dialogue was something that was part of my comfort zone. I also liked writing how protective Bryce is of Yori.


When it came to actually submitting my work, it was very nerve wracking. Working with Dreamspinner though has been an amazing experience, and I’m so glad that they gave me such a great opportunity. I am proud to say that I am continuing to work with them and that they are helping me grow not only as an author, but as a writer as well.


Stalked By Susanna Hays – Thoughts After Publishing

September 17, 2015

For Stalked, I did not create an outline like I did for my second novel. I found it much more difficult this way, and for new authors who are struggling, I would suggest working with an outline since it does keep things better organized.

When creating my characters, I would fiddle around in the Sims until I created a character I liked. I would then look at Pinterest and try to find pictures that closely resembled the ones I made in Sims.


Yori is a different type of protagonist than I usually create. He is shy and more dependent compared to the protagonists I’ve created in the past. The reason for this is that I really wanted to get out of my comfort zone when creating the characters. This is the first shifter story I’ve created as well (I tend to write more in the way of vampires and ghosts), so this story as a whole was a bit more challenging to me.


Bryce was difficult for me to work with. I wanted him to be a supportive boyfriend, but I had a difficult time finding ways to make him interesting. It took many tries to try to get his personality down. With him and Yori being a couple right when the story starts, there wasn’t the UST that I would rely on like in my past stories.  Instead, I worked on keeping their relationship strong after being together for so many years.


Lance was a character I just went all out with and had fun with. I gave him the hammiest lines and went crazy with him to contrast against Yori and Bryce. Basically, I wanted him to be the opposite of Bryce, but still give them some similarities. He was enjoyable to create even with some of his cringy lines.


Things I would go back and change would be to not try to go out of my comfort zone so much in one story. I think I should have toned it back a bit when it came to that so it wouldn’t have been as much of a challenge to write, but I found it to be a great writing experience as well.



Stalked by Susanna Hays – Release Party

September 17, 2015


My name is Sue and I am here to talk about my first novel, Stalked.

The story follows Yori Tanaka, a young man who suffers from crippling anxiety and also carries the gene known as the “Beast Syndrome.” He watched his father suffer through this terrible mutation, and is now worried that the same thing will happen to him.

Yori Tanaka lives with crippling anxiety, knowing he carries the “Beast Syndrome” gene yet still unsure what activates it. Thankfully, his boyfriend, Bryce Green, is down to earth and has been more than patient and supportive for the last five years.

But their lives are about to change. When Lance Haney, an old friend, rolls into town, Yori is excited to see him at first—until Yori learns Lance’s motives. Full of malice and bad intentions, Lance plans to activate Yori’s “Beast Syndrome” gene, and Yori’s greatest fear is about to become a reality.

The story is 156 pages long and is a quick read. I’m excited to discuss Stalked and answer any questions about it.

Forever Friends with Skylar M. Cates

September 11, 2015

forever friends

Hello there, I’m Skylar. I’m the person with the messy house, cute puppy, crazy, funny kids, and scattered coffee mugs. Dreamspinner says to introduce ourselves here, and I think this gives you some idea who I am. I’m treading chaos all the time, but I honestly love my life.

I feel lucky to be here with all of you today. I feel lucky with my family and my friends.

But not always….

Recently a friend hurt my feelings by repeatedly ignoring me and it got me thinking about the nature of friendships. I vented a little on Facebook and was amazed and humbled by how many people offered sympathy and support.

My books very often include a group of friends. As I get older and busy with my family’s needs, it’s harder to have a circle of friends in my life. In college and elsewhere, it was easier. But free time-  once you have a job, partner, and maybe some kids tossed into the equation- is tough to manage.

While my books always have a central romance, I often think the secondary characters are of equal importance. They are the ideal friends. Not in terms of being perfect characters—for they are often deeply flawed—but in terms of being there for each other, no matter what.

Isn’t that what we all crave? Good friends who don’t fade away. Who are there, always and forever?

In Lovers, Losers, and You friendship is of paramount importance. They help each other, protect each other, and remain loyal to each other throughout the good times and bad. From the zany fun of Andrew’s reality show entry to the heartbreak of loss, these guys stick together.

Friendship should be a two-way street and not a dead-end. I wrote that on my Facebook, and I still believe it now.

Just for fun, answer these questions below in a comment, and I will randomly pick two winners by the day’s end.


1. I can’t be friends with somebody who doesn’t like:

A. coffee B. animals C. books D. kids E. wine F. I can be friends with anybody


2. The most important quality in my friend is:

A. Loyalty B. Humor C. Compassion D. Intelligence E. Other quality


3. A good night out with my friends would be a night of:

A. Wine and books

B. The movies and lots of candy

C. A bar and some dancing

D. An evening of fine dining and conversation

E. Something much wilder


4. It is usually possible to remain friends with an ex-lover

A True B False


5. When a friend does this repeatedly, I would end the friendship:

A. Lies to me

B Holds grudges

C Breaks promises

D. Gossips about me

E None of the above. I am forgiving with my friends

F. All of the above. I’m particular about my friends


Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate it! List your answers in a comment to be included in the giveaway.


Prize: A ten dollar DSP gift card (two winners)


Feel free to explain some of your answers and share your stories of friendships. I always love chatting.





Buy links:


Where to find me: skylar cates

Twitter: @skylarmcates

Louise Lyons – new release Beautiful Thunder and current works

August 31, 2015

Hi everyone, Louise Lyons still on the blog.

A few people have asked me lately what I’m currently working on, now that Beautiful Thunder has taken its first step out into the world.

Well, firstly I’ve been working on edits for a novella entitled Finding Beck and have just received the cover art for it. It’s set in the same time period as Beautiful Thunder (the 1990s) but is based in my old hometown, Grimsby and Cleethorpes (the two are merged together), in the UK. I used to go to another rock nightclub called Jezebels who had a rock night on Fridays, and my main character, Martin Lynch, meets his love interest Beck in that club. The pair quickly fall for each other, but worry about the potential reactions of Martin’s housemate Graham, and both sets of parents. Some responses are better than others! You can expect to see this available around the middle of October.

I’m also working on a full length novel set in Prague, another city I’ve visited. The book is entitled Cervena, which is “red” in Czech and is the name of a strip/dance/cocktail club owned by main character, Joel Jones, an Englishman who has lived in Prague for ten years. He discovers a young homeless Russian boy named Sasha, offers him a job as a dancer, and quickly develops a strong attraction to Sasha. But their new relationship is fraught with obstacles including the death of Joel’s mother in London, betrayal by his business partner, Karel, and threats from someone to whom Karel owes a substantial amount of money. Joel is convinced he will lose Sasha one way or another, and has to decide what is most important to him – Cervena or Sasha.

This story is about four chapters away from being finished so I’m hoping to wrap it up in the next month.

I also have my first sci-fi romance in the pipeline. Regeneration was written during NaNoWriMo last year and finished during the month following. Kim Fortune is the only survivor of a new type of enhanced human in the galaxy of Sigma Kappa, far in the future. Having escaped the lab where he was created, he spends the first few years of freedom as an explorer, until he runs into a more successful member of his species – Christian Novak. Christian is everything Kim was supposed to be, but didn’t quite make the grade in, and he’s envious, confused, and insanely attracted to Chris. There seems no hope for them in the war-torn galaxy and Kim is convinced Chris will never feel anything for him – until Chris risks his life to rescue Kim from imprisonment after a crash landing on an inhospitable planet.

I’m reworking some of the story after advices from readers, and hope to submit this later in the year.

I have two other ideas in note form – a contemporary romance between two ex-jailbirds, and a paranormal romance featuring the ghost of a broken-hearted man who took his own life, so I have lots going on, which will hopefully all see the light of day during the next year.

But for now, Beautiful Thunder is my book of the moment. You can read another excerpt on my blog, during which Alex goes for an audition with Nottingham, UK band, the River Rats, and meets his love, Lindsey, for the first time. Click the link below.

Louise Lyons Blog


Beautiful Thunder by Louise Lyons – giveaway

August 31, 2015

Hi everyone, Louise here. I’m giving away one eBook from my backlist to one lucky winner!

You’ve all heard a little about my new release, Beautiful Thunder, on the previous two posts. Alex and Lindsey, a singer and guitarist in a struggling rock band in the 1990s, fall in love despite many obstacles, including fears of commitment, a health scare, trust issues and difficulties in the band.

What difficulties have you overcome to be with the one you love? Everyone who comments on this post to answer the question, will go into a random draw to choose one of my previous eBooks.

The books available to choose from are:-


Cover art finalisedTwo competing gangs of car and drag racing enthusiasts with a shared history of pain and rivalry leading to outright hatred. Two men from opposite sides of the tracks, yet with more in common than they’d like to admit.

Paul Appleton is a troubled man who has never been in a relationship, having lost everyone he cared for in his life. His mother died when he was very young and subsequently, he lost his brother and his best friend. Now Paul is convinced love will always end in tears.

Greg was living on the streets after his parents died and was stabbed by a junkie, ending up in hospital. The Buchanans took Greg under their wing while doing charity work, and Greg joined their loving family when he was adopted. He and his siblings are also car enthusiasts with much more money and therefore better cars than Paul Appleton’s gang.

When they eventually find a connection, Paul fights his feelings and tries to convince himself his lover is only a temporary bit of fun, but Greg has other ideas.

The Eye of the Beholder

Final cover artVince Voss is obsessed with physical beauty. Influenced by his aunt, with whom he runs a modeling business, he has become unfeeling and cruel. Vince’s mother, who was a witch in life, returns to show him a better way to live. She casts a spell to take away his good looks and he finds himself challenged with searching for someone to love him, without the use of physical attraction.

Vince eventually meets a lonely male vampire, Peter, and despite his reluctance to get involved with him, he decides to use Peter to help him lift the spell. Little does he know that at first, Peter is using him too, and he finally realizes what’s really important when he falls for Peter along the way.

Beyond The Scars

Beyond the Scars final coverAfter years of physical and mental abuse, Tommy Chadwick finally finds the strength to leave Colin, his tormentor. But Tommy soon finds that escaping his violent boyfriend was only the first step on his path to recovery. Now he must overcome feelings of worthlessness in order to rebuild his battered self-esteem.

Tommy’s lack of self-confidence prevents him from going out… at first, but then has him ricocheting from one man to another, desperately trying to please them in his search for love and acceptance.

After being rejected on New Year’s Eve, and then beaten after leaving the gay bar, he agrees to accompany his best friend, Sarah, to a martial arts club. There Tommy meets Marcus, a strong older man, who at first becomes his friend, introducing Tommy to new interests, and later, tentatively asks him on a date.

Will Marcus be the man to help Tommy put his past behind him and fall in love for real?