Drawing to a close and contest winners — (A Wounded Promise)

March 4, 2015

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I’m so sad. The end of our time is here already. We’ve talked fanfic and survivorship and father/son relationships. But it’s time for me to draw this event to a close, because it’s going to snow (again) and I’m going to have to shovel in the morning.

The winner of the copy of The King’s Mate is: JJ

and

The winner of the copy of A Wounded Promise is: H.B.

If the winners can email me at ashavandoyon@gmail.com and let me know what email they use for their account at the Dreamspinner Press store, I’ll get those books added to your shelf.

Thanks again for spending the evening chatting with me!

You can get A Wounded Promise from Dreamspinner Press at: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6121

The importance of fathers — (A Wounded Promise)

March 4, 2015

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Hope you aren’t sick of me yet! This is Ashavan Doyon coming to you from the Dreamspinner Press Blog. I know, that last post is a bit of a downer. An important one for the story, but still hard to talk about.

I wanted to touch on one last theme before I pick the winners and let you all off to read the story yourselves! One of my favorite characters in the Sam’s Café Romance stories is Justin’s dad, Sam. We see a lot of Sam in The King’s Mate, but in A Wounded Promise we get only glimpses. But the glimpses we get are critical ones.

One of the things I wanted with the character of Sam was a parent who had struggled with his son coming out, but one who came quickly to acceptance. I’ve tried to reach that in a few stories, but I think it’s the Sam’s Café Romances where I succeed the most. This is a parent in whom Justin confides. While we don’t know really what kind of relationship Justin had with his mom, it’s clear his relationship with his dad is one of trust.

In an early scene, Sam and Justin are talking about Justin being frightened. It’s an important scene, because you really get that Sam loves and trusts his son.

“But what do I do now? I ran away.”

Sam slid off the ledge and held out a hand.

“Let’s get you home.”

“I need to get back to Russ,” Justin said. “But I’m still scared.”

“Justin.” Sam was looking at him with a sad sort of smile.

“What is it, Dad?”

“I meant your home, not mine.”

I love you, Dad.

Justin hugged Sam fiercely.

“Don’t think this means I like it.”

Justin grinned. “I didn’t expect it’d be fighting with my lover that got you to admit that I’m living there now.”

“Hard to miss. House is too damn quiet without you.”

 There’s a closeness between the two of them I think I envy a little bit. It’s a relationship I saw sometimes with my brother and my dad, but I never had. Maybe it’s because I didn’t have it that when I write an accepting parent it tends to be the father?

So, this is the last chance to win a copy of the ebook for A Wounded Promise. Tell me about your favorite father figure in a male/male romance. I’ll also be here watching the comments, so feel free to just chat too.

And importantly, that buy link again, in case you don’t win! http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6121

 

Broken — (A Wounded Promise)

March 4, 2015

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This is Ashavan Doyon, back again to talk about A Wounded Promise.

So I wanted to talk a little about trauma, and Justin’s particular feelings. Specifically, the difficulties he has as a survivor of sexual assault.

This is something Justin talks to Russ about relatively early in the fledgling moments of their relationship in The King’s Mate. It’s also at the root of much of Justin’s fear. We see this almost immediately. Sam’s reaction to Justin fleeing the home he’s been working to build with Russ. Sam says as much: (one more edit… block quote is not showing up, so I put the excerpt in italics instead)

“I haven’t seen you like this in a long time.”

“Since Peter.” Justin closed his eyes. It was hard to see, but Sam noticed. After Peter, Sam had learned to notice a lot of things.

“You need to know, Justin, I’ll always believe you. I don’t care if he’s—”

“It wasn’t that.” Justin looked up, and Sam’s heart splintered again. The steel-blue eyes that were the mirror of Sam’s own seemed to almost drown in the red that surrounded them.

“You cried all night?” Sam asked softly.

Justin’s answer was a shy nod and a look away.

“I mean it. I’ll believe you.”

“I know you will. It wasn’t that. I promise it wasn’t.” Justin pulled at the blankets with his toes. After a moment he let out a very long sigh. “We had a fight.”

Sam nodded. “I guessed. He hit you?” Sam braced himself for a yes.

An ongoing theme in the story is Justin’s struggle not to see himself as broken. I didn’t want the idea of Justin being a survivor to just disappear. He absolutely remains affected by his experience, and it’s the unexpected interaction between those triggers and Russ’s drunken anger that leads to Russ waking up alone at the start of the story. It’s important to me that a character being sexually assaulted isn’t some minor plot point. When I included that detail in The King’s Mate, I knew I had to bring it back to the forefront in the sequel. I hope I’ve done that some justice.

What are your favorite stories that deal with some element of survivorship? Comments for my remaining posts tonight count as entries to win a copy of A Wounded Promise in ebook format.

(edit)

Forgot that pesky buy link again. You know you want to… just click buy now when you get to the page! http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6121

All about covers — (A Wounded Promise)

March 4, 2015

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And I’m back… sorry about that, travel time between the day job and home got in the way. For those just joining the party (we’re serving mocktails, people, as no one here seems to be the drinking sort!), this is Ashavan Doyon talking about my new release, A Wounded Promise.

I wanted to spend a few minutes talking about the cover. For The King’s Mate, because it’s a novella in an anthology, I didn’t have any say over the cover. It wasn’t quite long enough to get it’s own, so it has the standard anthology cover of a hot shirtless guy at a baseball field with my title and name below it. That was good (there was no need for trying to maintain consistency) and bad (consistency helps hold a series together). So for A Wounded Promise I was entering with a clean slate. It was exciting to finally try to put a little more imagery to the story.

For covers you fill out a cover request with some details… title, author, subtitle. Preferred styles. What covers did you particularly like. That gets you paired with an artist, who is given a brief synopsis, some physical descriptions of the characters. I try to include pictures, if I can, to give an idea of what I’m looking for.

I have to say, cover artists have a hard job. Unless I started with a picture or model in mind, I can spend hours trying to find something remotely close. For Russ I wanted to get the silver/gray. He’s young for that coloring, so the only pics I could find were older. This is the one I finally sent, with a note that Russ, of course, would be in a suit:

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Justin was easier and harder at the same time. While drunken anger instigates the drama, a lot of the conflict, most of it, really, is Justin. While Russ has angst, and the drinking is an expression of that, he’s had time and experience — and friends — that helped him cope. Justin has kept his angst bottled in, and I hoped that the artist could find a model that conveyed innocence and vulnerability. Of course searching the internet doesn’t find models the artists can actually use, which means trying to convey an idea, and that can be a struggle. Here was my model for Justin:

justinmodel

I think the artist did a great job coming up with images that fit those molds, and I’m especially happy with the model for Russ, because there is an age difference in the characters, and having a younger graying model here is important, because Russ isn’t so much older that the relationship should squick people, but the gray can make it seem so.

What really impressed me though was that the artist really took those vague images and managed to convey the angsty conflict that is in the novella. I’m really happy with it.

This is the last post to comment for a chance at a copy of The King’s Mate, so I hope you’re still up for some discussion! Do cover images influence how you imagine the characters? Do you prefer the sort of faceless bodies on covers, or do you like to see the whole character? Let me know!

And, of course, don’t forget to buy the book! http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6121

 

 

Building the Cafe — (A Wounded Promise)

March 4, 2015

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Hello! Ashavan Doyon here, still talking about my newest release, A Wounded Promise.

I’ve mentioned that A Wounded Promise is a sequel, and I wanted to talk a little bit about the original story, and how I got to the new one. A Wounded Promise is book two of the Sam’s Café Romances. When I started emailing with Dreamspinner about the sequel, one of the things I had to do is name the series. They give that a fancy name, but really, it means boiling down the essence of the story.

The process drove me nuts. Ok, so I was already there… let’s just pretend for a moment that I’m not a crazy man obsessed with my characters, shall we? This is the sequel to a story titled The King’s Mate — based around a chess competition in a college town café. I’d already gone through agony deciding whether or not to carry through the chess theme in the title, and now I had to name the series? Ultimately I decided the central thing that brought the two lovers together wasn’t a chess match, but rather the café itself, and the significance of the café to both of them. I confess there’s a mercenary bent to this too. If readers are enjoying the café, this gives me room to please both those who want more of our lovers from the story, and those who might want other characters explored. Naming the series for the café gives me a little more freedom. Also, there were some folks who felt chess wasn’t as central to the story in The King’s Mate as they might have preferred, so I wanted to honor that and not have people feeling hoodwinked.

I’m very proud of The King’s Mate. Oh, I got some middling reviews. And I was new, so I did the unthinkable and I READ THOSE REVIEWS. After I was done gouging my eyes out with a spoon and crying for days, I found some better reviews, and some worse ones. And then I got the good advice from a friend: only read the reviews the publisher sends you — they only send you the good ones. And I try to do that (and fail, frequently). But I also got a review that made my heart soar, and that kept me writing. I still go back to that review now and then, when I’m feeling in the dumps. It was from GayList book reviews and said, in part: “This story felt new. Beautiful. All of the men in this story made me ache.”

In writing A Wounded Promise, I’ve tried to keep up to that standard, and I hope Russ still makes readers ache, in that beautiful yearning way that keeps us turning pages. I get criticized sometimes for my characters being angsty. I don’t apologize for that. I like angsty. I think the angst and struggle and desperate wanting is where the best parts of romance is. It’s that stuff, the heartache and despair and surety of pain that make the reward worth it in the end. When I see characters go through hell, whether emotional or physical or traumatic, and see them somehow still come together, it gives me hope.

This is a progression from The King’s Mate — where we see a sweet exploration and a bit of mystery and a hint of pain lingering in the background – to A Wounded Promise where we see that hint suddenly so brutally clear that there is no longer a choice. They have to face it. Because the promises they’ve made to love each other are wounded.

And we’ll talk more about that later. In the meantime, a question, because I still want those comments (and someone still has to win that copy of The King’s Mate!) I based both stories around a café – loosely based around a couple of similar places in the town where I grew up. Is there a similar sort of place where you go to get a coffee? Do homework? Write? What does café mean to you?

You haven’t bought A Wounded Promise? What are you waiting for! http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6121

What’s that? You can’t without buying The King’s Mate too! EXCELLENT (can I do that with a Mr. Burns style tenting of the hands?) Here’s the link for that, just in case! http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3947

 

Release Day Party — A Wounded Promise

March 4, 2015

Hello! This is Ashavan Doyon and I’m here to take over the blog for a chunk of today and talk about my new release: A Wounded Promise.

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Somewhere someone is opening A Wounded Promise, and stumbling into Russell Pine waking with a hangover. The room begins to spin (or maybe it never stopped) and Russell tries in the haze of his hangover to make sense of vague recollections from the night before. Drinking vodka right from the bottle. Anger welling up. He’s woken up alone, his lover gone, and he can’t even remember what happened.

I like Russell, and I’ll admit putting him in that place was hard for me. I’ve never had a drunken night, or a hangover in the morning (I’m not and have never been a drinker). I relied a lot on waking up with a migraine to frame the descriptions of how he feels and what that’s like, and I hope it comes across well.

As a character, I love Russ. I write a lot of early college age romances, and while his lover fits that bill well, Russ is older, in his mid-late thirties. He’s a returning character, as this is book two of the Sam’s Café Romances. While I try to make it possible to read the book as a standalone, it goes without saying that it will help enormously to have read The King’s Mate first.

So, next post I’ll do the standard cover and blurb thing, but I’d like to start with a question: What was your most memorable drunken night (or morning after)?

Yes, there will be some giveaways for commenters. Also don’t forget to BUY THE BOOK… you know you want to!

Buy link is here: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6121

(want to read The King’s Mate first? Link is here: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3947)

 

 

The Top Five Most Amazing Exploits of the kiddos from Ever the Same

February 27, 2015

Randi and Grainger are the heart and soul of Dixon and Audie (and by association, Ever the Same). They start out, as so many of my fictional relationships do, with a fist fistfight (note: when I met my wife in person the first time, at one point she did threaten to beat the hell out of me while I was driving in a pouring down rainstorm on the highway in San Antiono traffic. True story.).

However, a birthday party, a giant mouse, some horses and a guitar later, they became partners in crime.

Instead of having fights with each other, they turned on the world.

1. During a riding lesson, Grainger dares Randi to impersonate the trick rider they’d seen at the rodeo and when Audie turned around, she was standing on Sarge’s back.

2. Randi dared Grainger to trap the possum so they could keep the babies and raise them. Possum bites hurt. So do the rabies shots.

3. Together, the kids decided to find out which spice burn. Cinnamon for the flamtastic win! FYI, powdered creamer burns pretty damned well too.

4. Grainger told Randi that she couldn’t be a cowgirl unless she rode a calf backwards holding his tail.

5. At Christmas, they dressed the dachshunds up as reindeer, tied them to a miniature sleigh that belong to Randi’s gran and proceeded to take down the tree. Dachshunds are not beasts of burden.

Much love, y’all

BA

Ever the Same is available now! 

Ten Things about Dixon from Ever the Same

February 27, 2015

Dixon, world. World, Dixon.

1. Dixon’s best friend is his younger brother, Daniel, who is currently serving overseas in the military.

2. His favorite date night used to be watching the sunset at the Oasis on Lake Travis.

3. Dix has a huge crush on Gordon Ramsey and on Sidney Poitier.

4. The first song he learned to play on the guitar was Where Have All the Flowers Gone

5. He was drum major in high school.

6. He’s a huge Blues fanatic and his first out of state trip was to New Orleans with his dad to see live music.

7. His favorite food is cheesesteaks with mustard sauce from Texadelphia.

8. His first dog was a bloodhound named Bill.

9. He lived in Texas his whole life, but Audie taught him how to ride a horse.

10. Dixon’s prized possession is a 1974 Fender Stratocaster played by Stevie Ray Vaughan.

 

Much love, y’all

BA

Ever the Same is available now! 

Ten Things About Audie from Ever the Same

February 27, 2015

Y’all, Audie Barrack. Audie, all the folks.

1. He wanted to be a professional baseball player when he grew up.

2. He’s named after a famous Greenvillite, Audie Murphy.

3. His favorite food on earth is tacos from Molinas.

4. He’s a huge George Strait fan and he has been to 3 concerts. His favorite song is “Write This Down”.

5. He never misses the weather on 10pm TV. Ever.

6. He built his own house on his folks’ ranch.

7. His dad is a long-haul trucker and one of his favorite things (and one of his son’s favorite things) was riding along in the summer and listening to the CB.

8. Audie got poison ivy on his penis once and he didn’t tell his parents because he was afraid they’d have to cut it off.

9. Audie has had full custody of his son since he was three days old.

10. His favorite toy as a little boy was a stuffed cow he named Silly Chicken.

;-)

Much love, y’all

BA

Ever the Same is available now! 

Excerpt and Contest

February 27, 2015

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Hey, y’all! I have a giveaway for a signed print copy of Ever the Same. Comment today on any of the posts and I’ll pick someone tomorrow morning (that gives all the folks a chance).

Here’s an excerpt from the beginning of the novel. Audie’s been called up to the school because his kindergarten has been in a fight…

***

Feeling like he was back in kindergarten, Audie went to the principal’s office.

“Mr. Barrack? Go on in. They’re waiting.” Miz Laws winked at him as he walked by, which relaxed him, because, Christ, this sucked. He went into the office, which was a mixture of colors and pictures of kids and that weird sternness that meant business. Dr. Shields stood and offered him a hand. Lord, he remembered when she was the drum major back when his Aunt Shirley was in the band.

There was a tiny little girl—and he meant teeny—sitting next to a dude who had hair like a girl, a dour-faced older lady, and his Grainger, who jumped up, one eye bruised. “Daddy! Daddy, I swear, I didn’t start it!”

“Hush, now. Let me talk to Dr. Shields.” He wanted to snatch Grainger up, but he knew better.

“Let’s all sit,” Dr. Shields said, and Audie fought the urge to point out he was the only grown-up standing.

Feeling chastised, he perched on the other side of Grainger.

They all sat there, staring, before Dr. Shields spoke up. “Now, we all seem to have a problem. Randi and Grainger have been in a half-dozen incidents in the last few weeks.”

“Really? Why didn’t I hear about this, buddy?” Half a dozen? Shit.

“You said not to be a tattletale, Daddy.”

Oh God. He damned near swallowed his tongue. They’d have to talk about information versus snitching.

“I didn’t start it. Not onced. I don’t hit girls, but Daddy! She hit me in the face! Hard!” There were tears there, threatening, and Grainger had that hell of a shiner.

“Now, Grainger, are you saying you didn’t push Randi?” the principal asked.

“She called me a doo-doo stupid-head!”

Did the wee girl not talk? She sat there, her chin set, her bright green eyes flashing fire. Her thin arms were crossed over her chest, and her feet swung in an angry rhythm.

“Name-calling can’t hurt you, buddy.” Was he the only adult with a brain here?

“No, but name-calling is completely inappropriate, Miranda.” That was the dad, just looking straight ahead. “You know better.”

“He’s mean! He told the girls I was smelly and not to play with me!”

Audie looked at the principal. “Am I the only one not up to speed?”

The older lady glanced over at him. “Beverly White. Pleased. My granddaughter has had some… transition issues. We’re sorry.”

“Mrs. White.” He nodded, then snuck another peek at the man sitting next to her.

The guy stared straight ahead, not looking at him at all. Crazy.

“Grainger is usually a good kid,” Audie offered. “I’m sorry about those uh, transition things.” Way to sound like a hick.

“Children, can you please wait on the green chairs while we talk?”

Grainger nodded, squeezing Audie’s fingers one more time. Audie nodded and smiled at his son, pretty convinced his boy hadn’t done anything really heinous.

The little gal stomped out, pure fire in her eyes. Oh, she was a hellion, he could tell.

“Are you going to tell me you’re going to move her again?” That was the dad, and the dude seemed about as pissed as his daughter. “She’s not the Antichrist. She’s a tiny little girl. She still sits in a car seat, for chrissake.”

“No, I think we can safely leave her where she is. I really felt that we all needed to chat, though. It’s clear that Audie here had no idea what was going on.”

“Yeah, no shit.” Audie glanced at the gran. “Pardon my French.”

“No worries.” She winked at him. “She’s not a bad girl. She’s had some terrible things in the last year.”

“And for some reason, she’s targeting Grainger. Has he spoken about Randi at all?” Dr. Shields was trying, he could tell.

“No, ma’am. He’s not said a word.” He snuck another look at the dad. This guy was a piece of work. “It’s not like him to pick on someone who’s having a hard time.”

“Of course it’s not. Randi’s the one that’s the vicious little bitch, right?”

Damn, Mr. Snooty could snap.

“Dixon!”

“What? She’s had a shit life for the last year. She lost one of her dads, she had to leave Austin and her friends and her school, and suddenly she’s the fucking bad guy?”

“Hey, I never said my boy was perfect,” Audie said, snarling a little himself. “He’s managed to get to six without trying to kill anyone, though, so this is new. Back off.”

“Enough. No one is saying either of these children are bad. Randi has a huge number of hurdles to overcome, and Grainger is a shy little boy with a tendency to follow the crowd. Neither of these children have mothers at home, and I was hoping we could brainstorm some ways to help Randi feel included with the others.”

This was ridiculous. It wasn’t his fucking job to make sure this asshole’s little brat felt like she didn’t need to punch his son anymore.

“That’s her teacher’s job, Shannon.” Audie was through with this shit. “I’ll tell my boy to stay away from her. Can we go now?”

“Yes. Yes, of course. Mr. White….”

“I’ll talk to her. If it happens again, I’ll… shit, I don’t know what I’ll do. I’ll make it up as I go along.” The guy stood, and his mom handed him a cane. A white cane.

Oh Jesus fucking Christ. Seriously? Seriously, Grainger picked the kid with a blind dad and a dead….

Wait.

Her other dad was dead. Jesus. This guy was blind, had lost his man, and his kid was a shit? That sucked hugely. “I can try to get Grainger to help. I promise.” He had no idea why that popped out, except this guy’s life had to suck, and because it had been a long time since Audie had met anyone who would openly admit to being queer like he was.

***

Buy Ever the Same here – http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6096

Official blurb: Audie Barrack is in it up to his elbows with a sick calf when his son’s school calls. Seems Grainger has gotten into yet another fight. When he walks into the principal’s office, he’s shocked to find his son has been fighting with a little girl named Randi.

A little girl with one blind dad and one dad who recently passed away.

Goddammit.

Dixon has lost his sight, his career, and his husband. Thank God for his brothers, Momma and Daddy, and his little girl, or he would simply give up. The last thing he needs is for Randi to start trouble at school, especially trouble that puts him in contact with another dad who might expect him to be a functional human being.

Dixon is struggling to live as a blind man, Audie is terrified someone might see he has a closet to come out of, and everyone from the school to both men’s families is worried for the men and their children. Unless they get themselves together and commit to change, neither of them stands a chance.