Beaten Track Publishing, Debbie McGowan, Giveaways, Raine O'Tierney

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Leaving Flowers Blog Tour With Debbie McGowan and Raine O’Tierney

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The Novel Approach welcomes co-authors Debbie McGowan and Raine O’Tierney today on the Leaving Flowers blog tour. Not only are they chatting a bit about the collaborative process, but they’re also offering the chance for one lucky reader to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card, so be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below.

Good luck!

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Hi, ladies, I’m so glad to be hosting you on your Leaving Flowers blog tour.

I’d love if you’d tell readers what it was like to co-author a book that seems like it may have been emotional for both of you to write. Did you ever get to a point where you cried on each other’s shoulders as you wrote the story? What were some of the most emotional scenes for you to write?

RO: Thank you so much for having us!

There were many times where Debbie and I desperately pleaded with each other, “I don’t want Aidan to hurt anymore… Can’t we just fix this?” because we hated seeing him hurting. We knew in the end we would have crafted something beautiful and have seen him through to a happier tomorrow, but there were moments where—damn—it was hard getting there.

And… we almost always naturally agreed with the directions the other took the story (even though we rarely discussed where we were going), but there were a couple of times I remember that I did some plot bastarding that left Debbie very upset. I even made her cry one morning and I realized the plot element I’d written wasn’t worth the pain. There’s plotful pain and pain for pain’s sake, and I’m a big enough girl to admit when I’ve taken a misstep.

On the other hand, Debbie once mentioned something about Patrick’s past that got me all hysterical and I begged her to explain his canon to me—which sounds totally silly as it’s nothing you ever see in the story, but it was important that I know.

In short, our hearts were very invested in the story, but we trusted each other enough and were willing to compromise enough that we could see each other through and produce something that I think is rather spectacular.

Do you find you write differently when collaborating than you do when writing alone? Is there a different approach to it?

DM: When we were writing Leaving Flowers, we were both having a spot of what is commonly known as ‘writer’s block’, although that’s inaccurate really. Writing alone, there are times that the ideas are just pouring out of you faster than your fingers can get them down on the page. Other times it is like pulling teeth. The inspiration just isn’t there, even if the ideas are.

Collaborative writing bypasses the block, or it certainly has for us, because what the other person has written becomes the inspiration and ignites new ideas. It’s also a little gentle pressure at those times where you might think, Oh, I’m too tired to write, because knowing there is someone waiting for the next part of the story—someone who will appreciate your words and give you honest feedback—is the perfect motivation.

Finally, there’s a responsibility to your collaborator. As Raine mentioned, there were some emotional moments where particular plot points were distressing to one or the other of us, and it requires a certain amount of honesty on both parts, as well as respect. For instance, you will never come across a story we write where anything bad happens to an animal, because one of the co-authors can’t even watch Ice Age without having a meltdown. Writing together is about respecting the values and beliefs of each other so that it is an fabulous experience for both of you. And it was.

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DMRO_LeavingFlowersBlurb: Shy and awkward since childhood, Aidan Degas is now a man lost. His twin—Aidan’s other half, Nadia—died tragically young, leaving him with nothing to get him through his days but his job at the prestigious Grand Heights Luxury Apartments and the flowers he lays upon her grave. When Aidan is assaulted on the job by a tenant, it’s the graveyard he turns to for strength and solace.

Patrick loves being assistant groundskeeper at the sprawling cemetery where he tends graves and offers a bit of comfort to mourners. When he sees a sad young man lingering over an old grave, his curiosity is strangely piqued for reasons he doesn’t understand. He’s never done this—struck up a friendship with a mourner. But soon that friendship blossoms into a romance.

It’s not going to be easy for the pair. Aidan is so damaged, like petals crushed in an angry fist, and even with Patrick’s warm heart and Irish charm, it might not be enough to bring him back from the edge.

Buy Links: Beaten Track Publishing | Smashwords | All Romance eBooks | Amazon

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About the Authors:

Debbie McGowanDEBBIE MCGOWAN is an author and publisher based in a semi-rural corner of Lancashire, England. She writes character-driven, realist fiction, celebrating life, love and relationships. A working class girl, she ‘ran away’ to London at 17, was homeless, unemployed and then homeless again, interspersed with animal rights activism (all legal, honest ;)) and volunteer work as a mental health advocate. At 25, she went back to college to study social science— tough with two toddlers, but they had a ‘stay at home’ dad, so it worked itself out. These days, the toddlers are young women (much to their chagrin), and Debbie teaches undergraduate students, writes novels and runs an independent publishing company, occasionally grabbing an hour of sleep where she can!

Social Media Links: Twitter | Facebook and Facebook Publisher Page | YouTube | Tumblr | LinkedIn | Google+ | Goodreads | Website

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Raine O'TierneyRAINE O’TIERNEY lives outside of Kansas City with her husband, fellow author, SiônO’Tierney. When she’s not writing, she’s either playing video games or fighting the good fight for intellectual freedom at her library day job. Raine believes the best thing we can do in life is be kind to one another, and she enjoys encouraging fellow writers! Writing for 20+ years (with the last 10 spent on gay romance) Raine changes sub-genres to suit her mood and believes all good stories end sweetly. Contact her if you’re interested in talking about point-and-click adventure games or about which dachshunds are the best kinds of dachshunds!

Social Media Links: Homepage | LGBT Author Interviews | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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THE GIVEAWAY:

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3 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Raine O'Tierney, Reviewed by Jennifer, Sion O'Tierney, Steampunk

Review: Alchemy Ever After by Raine & Siôn O’Tierney

Title: Alchemy Ever After

Author: Raine & Siôn O’Tierney

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 56 Pages

At a Glance: Short story with a sweet, innocent apprentice, a grumpy alchemist, and a sculpture come to life.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: The city of New Alexandria is filled with powerful magicians-in-training and mechanical follies, the world’s largest library, and marvels beyond compare. The allure of this modern metropolis draws young people from all over the world, but Idrian has come instead for the opportunity to learn the new art of alchemy.

He’s been taken as an apprentice by Maketh, a scholar experimenting with new ways to combine technology and the ancient mystic arts. Together they’ve animated a living ice sculpture. Idrian cannot wait to unveil the sculpture alongside the other wonders at the annual Spring Festival.

After witnessing his master in a passionate embrace with another student, Idrian’s mind drifts to things beyond alchemy. And when a warm touch accidentally awakens the consciousness within the living sculpture, Idrian learns firsthand about physicality and the magic of passion.

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Review: New Alexandria makes me weep for the loss of the Library at Alexandria, even if this story isn’t actually about the library in New Alexandria. Even so, this is a pleasant short story with a lovely, sweet apprentice, and a sculpture come to life.

There is a bit of dubious consent in the beginning of the story. I should probably just categorize it as non-con, but things work out in the end? I will say that the first scene between Idrian and Rowe threw me off. It is sudden, though, and told from Idrian’s point of view, who has no real idea of what’s happening to him. It’s mercifully short.

Idrian’s innocence was charming at times, though I felt he was much younger than his actual age. He has a passion for alchemy and will do whatever it takes to learn and progress the art, even if it means forsaking the Academy where he would have to choose between magics and engineering.

Rowe is dashing, almost pirate like, and a bit conceited. Not sure how I really felt about him, especially at first, though in the end I did warm up to him a bit.

Maketh is like the absent-minded professor, and needs to be reminded to do everything from Idrian or his younger lover, Raj. Raj is also conceited, but I liked his straightforward attitude and self-assurance.

If the authors were to write a sequel with these characters, I might be interested in reading it, just to see how Idrian develops. For the story focusing on him, there wasn’t much in the way of development. Rowe certainly changed the most of the two.

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You can buy Alchemy Ever After here:

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5 Stars, Harmony Ink Press, Raine O'Tierney, Reviewed by Sammy, Young Adult

Review: I’ll Always Miss You by Raine O’Tierney

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Title: I’ll Always Miss You

Author: Raine O’Tierney

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

Pages/Word Count: 256 Pages

At a Glance: I can say with surety that I highly recommend I’ll Always Miss You.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: Isa Zaman might forgive his parents for taking in a friend’s son if only he wasn’t the most boring teenager in the universe. Macklin “Mackie” Cormack’s only interests are reading and the outdoors. Yeah, right. Isa’s convinced Mackie is either a pyro or a klepto. Plus, as a white kid, Mackie looks ridiculous in the Zamans’ Arab American household. Forced to share a bedroom, the boys keep butting heads until an absurd fight finally breaks the tension between them.

Isa’s just starting to figure life out: this new houseguest, his cultural identity, school, and even girls, when the entire family is uprooted from their home for reasons Isa can’t understand. They move from their tiny city apartment to a giant, old house in a small town, hours away from everything he’s ever known. Oh, and the new house? It’s probably haunted, or so says the blank-faced ten-year-old next door. As if things weren’t weird enough, Isa’s friendship with Mackie suddenly takes a strange turn down a path Isa’s not sure he’s ready to follow. It turns out Mackie Cormack isn’t nearly as boring as Isa once imagined.

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Review: In my experience, it is rare to find an adult author who can fully and convincingly capture the rhythm and voice of a teenage boy or girl. It takes remarkable observation skills to embody characters with that certain something that makes them believably young and yet old beyond their years. It is more than a snarky or affected, indifferent tone that is called for; it is an entire way of thinking, an emotional spectrum that is rife with confusion, self-doubt, and a roller coaster of emotions. Raine O’Tierney is able to capture all that and more. Her story, I’ll Always Miss You, is a coming of age tour de force that left me completely satisfied and eager to read more by this incredible author.

Isa is on the cusp of age fifteen, and is at odds with his mother on the best of days. Surrounded by older and younger sisters, he feels a keen sense of need to rediscover his mid-eastern heritage. His parents have been discussing adopting another child, so it is quite a shock to Isa when they inform him there will be a boy coming to live with them—a sixteen-year-old boy named Macklin. Mackie has been bounced in and out of foster homes for several years. His mother is unfit (read crazy), and his father is in the military.

There is a distant connection between Isa’s family and Mackie’s, and so they agree to foster him indefinitely. Immediately Isa feels real stirrings of jealousy and anger over being left out of the decision—one that would give him not only a roommate but apparently someone he would have to befriend whether he wanted to or not.

To say that the beginning of their time together was rocky is an understatement. However, despite the rough beginning, these two boys become friends, and then something more. When the family moves closer to Isa’s older sister, they buy a house that has quite a reputation. Apparently it is haunted and sure enough, before long strange things begin to happen at Isa’s new home. The story now takes a decidedly sinister turn, weaving a ghost story into the slow building first love trope. The two story lines work so very well together, and the writing at this point exceeds what was already an interesting and entertaining story. With quirky and surprisingly compassionate secondary characters, the novel goes hurtling toward conclusion, and it’s exciting ending leaves one just a bit overwhelmed in all the good ways.

I found myself respecting and appreciating the pacing of this novel. Isa had such doubts and the idea that he may be bisexual, or even possibly gay, did not come swiftly or easily to him. Mackie was so stalwart and forgiving. He hid so much of himself and reluctantly let Isa in, always keeping an eye toward the door and the idea that this home may not be his to keep for very long. Watching this love story unfold against the backdrop of teenage angst and self-discovery was so compelling. The subtle introduction of the mystery elements and the ongoing ghost story added just the right amount of creepiness to give this story an interesting twist.

I was so impressed by this story. I felt there was such a level of integrity in the characters that it made this story completely realistic and engaging. I can say with surety that I highly recommend Raine O’Tierney’s I’ll Always Miss You. It will no doubt be touted as one of the top YA stories of 2015.






You can buy I’ll Always Miss You here:

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3.5 Stars, Anthology, Ava Penn, Beaten Track Publishing, Holiday Romance, Kathleen Hayes, Raine O'Tierney, Reviewed by Lana

Review: Boughs of Evergreen Roundup – Xmas Cake, Coming in from the Cold, and The Bard and His Boyfriend

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Titles: Xmas Cake: A Modern Fairy Tale, Coming in from the Cold, and The Bard and His Boyfriend

Authors: Raine O’Tierney, Ava Penn, Kathleen Hayes

Publisher: Beaten Track Publishing – Boughs of Evergreen Anthology benefitting The Trevor Project

Pages/Word Count: 43 Pages/52 Pages/35 Pages

Rating: 3.5 Stars Overall

Blurbs:

Xmas Cake: Once upon a snowy Christmas season, in the glowing metropolis of Midday…

If this were a fairy tale Kyle would be the handsome prince and Riley would be the poor baker in distress. Oh wait, but that’s exactly what it is!

When Kyle Prince sees Riley collapse in the snow-covered parking lot, he swoops in to the rescue, whisking the feverish young man off to his high-rise apartment without a second thought.

As Riley mends under Kyle’s care, a feeling of closeness grows between the two men. But every fairy tale has its complications. Will the two find their happily ever after this Christmas?

Coming in from the Cold: What’s a poor, East coast boy fending for himself in Colorado to do when winter sets in on the Rockies?

Declan Stoeber finds himself freezing every minute of the day once autumn ends and the snow begins to fall in the Centennial State. With no family to go home to for the holiday season, he plans to put extra time into his studies and maybe look for a part-time job. What he gets is a part-time job with benefits and a few new friends.

Xander Duchesne is a savvy businessman in the harsh world of deals and projects. Estranged from his mother due to her matchmaking tendencies, he is resolved to spending Yule (or Winter Solstice) by himself for the first time in his life. He wasn’t expecting his mother’s impossible-to-ignore demands, and he certainly wasn’t prepared for a college freshman who was just coming in from the cold.

The Bard and His Boyfriend: Seth is a member of an ancient clan of druids that have existed for over 5,000 years. The rituals they perform at the changing of the seasons keep the very fabric of reality from unraveling. But as he goes home for the Winter Solstice, all Seth can think about is the huge fight he had with his boyfriend before he left school for the holiday break.

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Review: There is nothing better than getting into the holiday spirit with romantic Christmas stories. A holiday story that is heartfelt, cute and most importantly sweet, always leaves me warm and fuzzy. My selection from this holiday collection wereXmas Cake by Raine O’Tierney, Coming in from the Cold by Ava Penn, and The Bard and His Boyfriend by Kathleen Hayes. They were all cute if not a bit formulaic.

In Xmas Cake, a waif finds his true love after a case of mistaken identity. I though the story could have been better if it were written in a different way. I think the author was trying to go with the whole fairy tale vibe, which didn’t work for me, and I felt the story was a little boring.

In Coming in from the Cold, two men meet each other just before Christmas and find true love. These themes usually have me salivating, but this story was just ordinary for me. It was also pretty mild on the heat level and is perfect for anyone looking for an introduction to m/m fiction.

The story that really caught my attention was The Bard and His Boyfriend, a cute take on the fantasy genre. Seth is part of a Celtic Clan in America, and the caretaker of a mystical ritual. Honestly, I was a little bit confused by the explanation, but I think if this were a longer novella and more background was given, it could have the potential to be a really good story. During the winter solstice celebration, Seth’s boyfriend Ale shows up. The only problem is that the location of the Clan is a secret, and no one outside the Clan knows the location. But it turns out that Ale is Seth’s chosen and knows the location in his heart. The story is cute and sweet, but is just too short to leave any sort of lasting impression.

My selections from Boughs of Evergreen were okay for a quick read, and in the end, not too filling.








You can buy Xmas Cake, Coming in from the Cold, and The Bard and His Boyfriend here:

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All Romance eBooks

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4.5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Holiday Romance, Raine O'Tierney, Reviewed by Chris

Review: Bowl Full of Cherries by Raine O’Tierney

Title: Bowl Full of Cherries

Author: Raine O’Tierney

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 214 Pages

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Blurb: Porker, Fatty, Tons-of-Fun: Crowley Fredericks has heard it all. He’s dropped a lot of weight since his high school days, but he’s still a big guy, and the painful words and bullying follow him. Rejected—again—because of his size, Crowley is starting to think that maybe love just isn’t meant for huskier men. Continue reading

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