Release Party MOMENT OF TRUTH (Book 2 of the Moments In Time series) – part one

March 5, 2015

 

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Hi everyone! I’m Karen Stivali and I’ll be here for the next few hours to talk about my brand new release MOMENT OF TRUTH!

 

I’m super excited about this release because MOMENT OF TRUTH is the second book in my Moments In Time series. I have absolutely loved every minute that I spent writing about Collin and Tanner, the two college students who experience all the ups and downs of first love together over the course of the three books in this series.  The first book in this series, MOMENT OF IMPACT (on sale this week for 99 cents!), is a coming of age/coming out story that shows how Tanner and Collin, college roommates, discover that they think of each other as a lot more than friends. Here’s the blurb:

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Outside Collin Fitzpatrick’s dorm room is a dangerous place. Beyond his door the students of his small, conservative college think he’s straight, as does his Catholic family who’d disown him if they learned the truth. Inside, he’s safe with his incredibly sexy roommate Tanner D’Amico. Their room makes a perfect place to hide away and fall in love. The moment they cross the line from roommates to lovers, Collin becomes caught between their heavenly passionate encounters and the hellish reality that someone might find out and destroy everything. Tanner’s not used to being so confined, and wants to show the world how much he loves Collin. But Collin’s not sure he’s ready for the impact stepping outside will make.

 

 

MOMENT OF TRUTH takes place a few months later, when Collin and Tanner decide to spend the summer together in the much more liberal and accepting environment of Fire Island.

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Collin expected to spend another summer fixing cars and working at the college pizzeria. Instead, he’s living in a beach house on Fire Island, waiting tables at a hip seaside restaurant and, for the first time since he and Tanner got together, they can publicly be known as boyfriends. Being “out” takes some getting used to, but with the help of new and old friends, Collin is happier than he ever imagined. And more in love. But newfound freedom brings unexpected challenges, and when friends get flirty, old insecurities arise. Moments of doubt and jealousy threaten their happiness, and Collin and Tanner must confront the truth or risk losing it all.

 

 

This is definitely a series that’s best read in order because each book is a complete story that takes place at very different times in their relationship. There are no cliffhanger endings (I can’t stand them as a reader, so I’d never write one—I promise!), just an opportunity to watch their relationship evolve as these two young men are confronted by a variety of life’s trials.

I don’t usually title my books until I’m well into writing the story. At some point while I’m writing I’ll think of something that just “fits” and that’s never been more the case than in the series. While writing the first book it occured to me how many specific moments there were in the story where Collin, the point-of-view character, had his life completely change. You know the kind of moments I mean. The ones where you look back on a memory and you realize that there was a specific second where something happened that altered everything that happened after it. Collin has several moments like that in book one, several experiences where the IMPACT of that one MOMENT changes everything. Hence the title MOMENT OF IMPACT.

When I decided to write more of Collin and Tanner’s story, I focused on what the defining moments would be in each phase of their relationship and that’s how the other titles were born. I loved finding the different pieces of their lives that would be so life-altering and would change them as individuals and as a couple. There are several MOMENTS OF TRUTH in book two as this couple grows and matures.

So now it’s time for my question to you. What were some of the most defining moments in time in your life? The realization you were in love with someone? The decision of where to go to college? A mean thing you said and couldn’t take back? A good choice? A bad one? A freak accident? Tell me one of your most memorable moments in the comments below and I’ll choose a random winner (at the end of the day) to win an e-copy of MOMENT OF IMPACT (and if you already have that, then it’ll be your choice of my other titles).

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:

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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

 

About the book – (A Wounded Promise)

March 4, 2015

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Ashavan Doyon here again to talk about A Wounded Promise. I’ll start with something obligatory (cover and blurb) and we’ll get to more exciting stuff once that’s done. Don’t forget to comment with your favorite romance sub-genre for a chance to win the giveaway!

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A Wounded Promise – Sam’s Café Romances Book 2

Having survived one nightmare of a relationship, Justin Tesh thought
he’d left the worst behind when he put his ex Peter behind bars. But
when his new lover, Russell Pine, explodes in a fit of alcohol-fueled
rage, Justin finds himself frozen with a fear he thought he’d long since
worked through. While older, more experienced Russ is anxious to put
the incident behind them, avoiding personal issues never works, and for
Justin, his fear is an open doorway to demons both he and Russ need to
confront.

Despite their histories of loss and pain, Russ has
faith in the promise of their relationship. But if he can’t heal the
wound he’s inflicted on his lover’s heart, he risks losing Justin
forever to Peter’s legacy of brutality.

***

Ok, so what’s your favorite sub-genre in romance? Are you into contemporaries, historical, paranormal, bdsm/kink, fantasy, sci-fi??? Let me know. My first giveaway winner will be from commenters on the posts made before 5 pm eastern time (US) — an e-book copy of The King’s Mate (to be added to your Dreamspinner Press bookshelf). Comment for the chance to win!

(quick edit)

Also, the buy link (not something I want to forget)! http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6121

 

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)

 

 

Night Vision: Excerpt

February 18, 2015

My release party is almost over :(

Confession: I don’t like excerpts and I never read them! So I was reluctant to do an excerpt here. But… I guess some people like them? So for the people who do not care for excerpts, this is an alternative: the pinterest board for Night Vision, filled with inspiration photos, settings and characters and details from the story.

And for those who DO enjoy excerpts, this is from Chapter Nine:

 “YOU HAD a dream the other night.” Theron tried to sound causal and focused his attention on a lock of Alex’s hair, twisting the gold and bronze between his fingers. Alex’s head lay on the pillow, half-turned, almost exactly the way it had been a few nights ago when Theron had climbed the tree to check on him. Whatever that dream had been, it was powerful. And sexual. Theron’s curiosity burned.

“Please don’t tell me you were watching me again.” Alex searched his face and sighed, perhaps seeing some sign of guilt. “Theron, seriously, just come in next time. Why are you still sneaking around in my trees?”

“It is my way, Alex. I thought you understood that.”
“I guess. It’s still creepy, though.”
“Tell me the dream.”
Shame filled the room, and Alex squirmed in the bed, burying his face in the pillow. “I really don’t want to.”
Theron laughed, wrapping Alex in his arms and kissing his shoulder. “Come on, my little sexy dreamer. Tell me.”
“Ugh!” Alex groaned, but the emotions in the air contradicted his protest. He was embarrassed, but happy, even a little aroused. He snuggled into Theron, hiding his face. “You were in the shower. I sneaked in and leaned against the wall near the closet, where you couldn’t see me. I started jerking off and fantasizing about you. I heard you moaning, and I knew you could feel it. You knew I was there, and you called my name.”
Theron ran his hands over Alex’s back, encouraging him to continue.
“I moved so that I could see you. You stood under the shower, your hands on the wall, the water running over you. You were so hard. I wanted to make you come with my thoughts. I was sure I could do it. You looked so sexy, your muscles so tight, straining and wet, and it was easy for me. I stroked myself and thought about you, and I watched your cock. The water was hitting it, and you kept yourself under the spray, but I knew my thoughts were really bringing you off. I came, and a second later you did too, all over the shower wall, without even touching yourself.”
Theron moaned into the back of Alex’s head. “Did you come in your sleep? Or when you woke up?”

***

Buy Night Vision!  Amazon • Dreamspinner • AllRomance

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Thank you to Dreamspinner for being such a nice company to work with, and thank you for letting me takeover this blog! I’ve had a great time here today <3

Night Vision: alternating points of view

February 18, 2015

I think this would be a good time for a giveaway. Agree?

In Night Vision, each chapter is told half from Alex’s point of view, and half from Theron’s, and I kept it to third person for both.

One of the best things about alternating pov is being able to feel and hear and know all the thoughts of each character. I think that makes a Romance fun to read, and fun to write :)

A disadvantage is trying to keep each “voice” distinct, so that it is always really clear whose head you are in as a reader. Luckily for me, Theron’s style of speech was much different from Alex’s. Theron rarely uses contractions, and he is more formal in general. Also, he is a non-native English speaker (he is Greek) so that also made his voice distinctive.

In my other books, I have used first person (not alternating, just staying in one main character’s head the entire time) and I do enjoy the intimacy that allows as well.

I do think alternating third person is my favorite, though. In the last book I wrote that way (Love You Forever) I let each character have a whole chapter before switching. But Night Vision is a novella, so more frequent shifts seemed appropriate.

I am currently working on a third person book which does not alternate, so it is told entirely from one point of view, but that one has a bit of a mystery element to it, so the more limited information helps add tension. I find myself having to fight the urge to switch to the other main character’s voice!

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So what I’d like to know is – what is your favorite point of view? First person? Third person? And also, do you prefer to switch back and forth, or to stay in one head?

Answer in the comments for a chance to win a copy of Night Vision!