Charley Descoteaux, Dreamspinner Press

Let’s Go On A “Toy Run” With Charley Descoteaux, And There’s A Giveaway!

I’ve had Therapy!

Nope, not that kind (although it probably wouldn’t hurt).

Ian Bowen, my burly redheaded biker from Toy Run, is a certified physical therapist. I’ve been through PT three times in my life, and every one of those times had a cool “professional torturer” but never anyone quite like Ian. He’s a strong, silent type who thinks he’s idling below everyone’s radar—in fact, he’s pretty sure he has more than one or two things figured out, but life isn’t quite as black-and-white as he thinks.

I’m not going to spend a few hundred words telling you about the ways Ian’s ideas are skewed—you’ll have to read the story to find that out. This is about physical therapy and how great it is.

Yep, you read that right—how great it is. Two of my three stints in PT are in the running for the most painful things I ever did that didn’t involve sex. I’d walk in the door knowing that within the next hour I’d do things that would make me hurt for the rest of the day. Sometimes I had to force myself, others it was easier (thoughts of vicodin and regaining use of a limb will do that). But each time, I was lucky to draw a therapist who really cared that I was successful. They minimized the pain and maximized the benefits whenever they could, and we worked together to get me whole again. That’s who Ian is—he’s the guy who feels a deep satisfaction when a client gains another degree or two in their range of motion, the guy who’s happiest when he’s helping someone. I didn’t set out to write a thank-you story to all my physical therapists but I can give this one guy his happy ending, and that makes me happy too.

How about you? Have you known someone like that? A physical therapist or a teacher or a counselor who truly wanted to see you heal (or succeed, or fulfill your goal, whatever that may’ve been). Share your stories and one random commenter will win a copy of Toy Run!


Former physical therapist and reluctant loner Ian Bowen has spent the three years since his grandfather’s death searching for a man to inspire him to park his Harley for a while—without much hope of finding him. On a whim, he shows up for a Toy Run and meets Ed Gonzalez, another loner with a pile of toys lashed to his bike. A few beers at the end-of-the-run party turn into an invite to Ed’s for homebrew. But instead of a night of fun, the unseasonable cold renders Ed immobile with pain. When he tells Ian he just needs meds, Ian does one of the things he does best—he massages Ed’s pain away, allowing him a rare restful night’s sleep and creating intimacy neither wants to lose. Ian thinks two men have to follow certain rules to be together, but Ed’s prepared to show him how wrong he is.


“It’s okay. I know what I’m doing.”

“Just need a muscle relaxer and—”

“That’ll take too long.” It had been a while since my last session, and I’d never done a hip like his before, but it was startling how quickly the basics came back. I could almost see the paths his muscles and connective tissue took beneath his—oh my, shit, how fucking soft was his skin.

The first few touches made him shudder and sweat, but just as he opened his mouth to tell me to get my hands off him and stop making it worse, his body started to respond. A little bit of the tightness gave way, and he relaxed the tiniest bit.

“What you need isn’t an antispasmodic on top of beer, but regular soft tissue work.”

By then his eyes were closed, his chin pointed at the ceiling. “How’d you learn to do this?”

“I’m a licensed physical therapist in California.” One of my best tricks was to slip the painful maneuvers in while I was talking.

Ed cried out but didn’t make a move against me, so I didn’t stop.

“Professional torturer?” He panted, but his body had relaxed more than I thought possible in so short a time. “How long?”

“About ten years.” I moved my hands toward his thigh as I talked and found another pocket of tightness and scar tissue. He grunted and clenched his jaw even harder. “Quit almost three years ago. They couldn’t just leave me alone to help people, too much paperwork and meetings and a goddamned tie—once Granddad was gone, there wasn’t much point in sticking around there.”

I kept telling Ed my life story as I worked on his mangled body. Told him how my granddad kept me out of trouble with teardowns in the living room every winter and car restorations in the summer, and about his brother Oliver who’d been in The War. About having no direction after Granddad died, the guilt that threatened to take me out because I’d never found the stones to tell him anything that really mattered, and the panic because there I was, thirty-two years old, and all I knew about being gay could be summed up in the three-hour ride to a bar I’d taken once every few months since I turned twenty-one.

It wasn’t intentional, spilling my guts to this guy I’d just met, just an old habit coming back to haunt me. That had been the way to get the worst patients through their therapy so they could get back to the business of living. Distract them with chatter—any kind of chatter would do—and most of them were in so much pain I never worried about them remembering later. Not that I ever told any of them such personal shit, but even though I’d been on the road off and on for almost three years I didn’t have many interesting stories from it. Should’ve known better but I wasn’t thinking, just helping someone.

Thanks for reading!


Toy Run is available to purchase from Dreamspinner Press.

About the Author: Charley Descoteaux has always heard voices. She was relieved to learn they were fictional characters, and started writing when they insisted daydreaming just wasn’t good enough. In exchange, they’ve agreed to let her sleep once in a while. Home is Portland, Oregon, where the weather is like your favorite hard-case writing buddy who won’t let you get away with taking too many days off, and in some places you can be as weird as you are without fear. As an out and proud bisexual and life-long weird-o, she thinks that last part is pretty cool.

Rattle Charley’s cages—she’d love to hear from you!

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photo credit: Therapy by Pedro Vezini via photopin cc

Andi Van

Andi Van Gives You “A Swift Herd for Solstice”

“One can’t believe impossible things.”

“I daresay you haven’t had much practice. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” ― Lewis Carroll

A Swift Herd for Solstice was a very funny story. Imagine driving home from work late and almost hitting a drunk elk….. that talks! When this happens to Martin Jones, he ends up taking the elk home and this changes his life.

When Martin Jones wakes up with Haven Clarke the next morning, he realizes that he likes this man. They start dating and when Martin meets Haven’s herd, he finds out that there may be a way to stay with the shifter longer than he thought.
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Dreamspinner Press, Kris T. Bethke

Sacrifice Makes Waiting For Love “Worth It”

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May You All Find “The Lawyer Under the Tree” On Christmas Morning

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Travis Buckley is a man who has everything he believes he needs. He has wealth, a good career and a string of beautiful men to keep warm. He believes this is enough; he doesn’t need or want a permanent man.

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Love Gets A “Change of Fortune” This Christmas

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Lose Yourself In The “Heart of the Pines”

“In matters of feeling and of the heart, too much is always better than too little.” ― José Saramago

Dreamspinner titled this year’s Advent collection Heartwarming,and out of all the stories I’ve read, this one may just fit that description the best.

Wade Hart and Chris Moss have known each other for years and have a great friendship. When Wade shows up at the Christmas tree farm Chris owns, they strike up a conversation and realize they are both alone for the first Christmas in a long time. Chris’s wife passed away almost a year ago, and Wade’s lover left him recently.
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What’s Christmas Without A “Holiday Invasion”?

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BLURB: Lukas and Taylor are looking forward to Christmas with their two-month-old daughter. However, Taylor’s parents and Lukas’s siblings decide they shouldn’t be alone for the holiday and invade the house. Their intentions are good, but it changes Lukas and Taylor’s plans. So not only is Taylor learning the ropes on his new job, but his and Lucas’s once-quiet house is now overflowing with people, and not all of them get along. Their holiday might crash and burn if they can’t bring their families together.
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“Holly and Oak” Is A Big Story In A Small Package

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J.L. O’Faolain serves up a yin-yang holiday fantasy, in which the Oak King and the Holly King, the keepers of the seasons, battle for supremacy each solstice in Holly and Oak, the story of immortal brothers, and the one of them who has fallen in love with a human.

Loving a human isn’t necessarily forbidden for the Holly King but it certainly does present some interesting issues, namely the fact that Sergio isn’t immortal, not to mention that he and Holly are from two vastly different worlds, which causes some concern on the part of the Oak King for his brother. Where love is concerned, however, the old adage “where there’s a will, there’s away,” is often all one needs, especially when one is as powerful as a god of seasons.
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Dreamspinner Press, Sasha Payne

Everyone Should Get “Goosed” For The Holidays

“A wise lover values not so much the gift of the lover as the love of the giver.” ― Thomas à Kempis

BLURB: Constable Mark Cordwell and Sergeant Bryn Powell deliver post, transport the children to school, and make sure the older inhabitants are safe in their quiet farming village deep in the Welsh countryside. It’s their first holiday together since Mark transferred from England, and Bryn and his neighbors are determined to let Mark know he’s welcome, with little traditions that mark the season. As Christmas and the Plygain service approach, Bryn has one more gift up his sleeve—and he knows it’s the one that will make their holidays perfect.

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Dreamspinner Press, Troy Storm

This “Scanty Santa” Will Steam Up The Holidays

“‘Well then…’ I clear my throat once. ‘You are a fantastic actor,’ I say, breathless, and emotionally drugged up on Mr. Sexdorable.”– Brittainy C. Cherry

Scanty Santa is my last selection from Dreamspinner’s Advent anthology. This short story just didn’t work well for me. There is an audience for this type of book, I’m just not part of it. I like a little romance and getting to know one another before leaping into bed together.

Evan and Sam live in the same neighborhood. They are both struggling to afford to keep their houses. Evan’s partner left him holding the bag, and he is just hanging on. While Sam is a hard worker, he barely earns enough to keep up with his bills.
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Dreamspinner Press, Elizah J. Davis

Today’s Forecast: “The Promise of Snow”

“Although no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.” ― Carl Bard

Brandon Jacobs has just about had it with the holiday season. Added to all the regular stresses, his mother has been pushing for him to reach out to AJ, an old childhood friend. Brandon is so not going to do anything of the sort. AJ was basically the Eddie Haskell of the neighborhood. He had all the parents charmed, but the minute they turned their backs, he was being a brat.
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Dreamspinner Press, Lucy Whedon

Lucy Whedon Wants To Get “Wrapped Up In You” This Christmas

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Norris Mason and Danny Falk have themselves what you might call a fixer-upper relationship, meaning that a one-man verbal demolition crew said a few things in the heat of hurt and anger, things he didn’t mean to come out the way they did, and boom! there you have it—the implosion of a romance that, with the gift of Christmas and some good friends with questionable judgment, leave Norris mangled up in tangled up knots—though the relationship may not be condemned as much as it’s in need of some TLC and a little renovation.
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Dreamspinner Press, Julian Balfour

This Year, “Santa Gets His Man” For Christmas

“Sometimes things become possible if we want them bad enough.” ― T.S. Eliot

BLURB: When Mark Wright is pressed into being a mall Santa on Christmas Eve, his life is changed forever. Six-year-old Trevor Robinson has his Uncle Jack in tow—the same man Mark had a crush on at Asheville High School fifteen years earlier. Jack tells Santa his Christmas fantasy: “… to spend the holiday with an incredible guy who turns me on and does all kinds of naughty and wonderful things to my body.” How can Santa resist that challenge?

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Chris Scully, Dreamspinner Press

Chris Scully Spends This Christmas On The “Rebound”

“He hadn’t stopped Christmas from coming, it came! Somehow or other… it came just the same.” – The Grinch Who Stole Christmas

If you read the blurb for Rebound you’ll pretty much know what the story is all about:

Christmas is a time for peace, love, and goodwill toward mankind. Not! More like cheating exes and absentee friends. For Emmett Byrd, spending the holiday season with his old college friend Terry in San Diego is supposed to be about mending his broken heart. But when Terry deserts him at the last minute, leaving Emmett alone in his condo for Christmas, it’s just the icing on the cake of a crappy year full of betrayal and lost love. The only Christmas spirit this Scrooge is feeling is the alcoholic kind. Then a slightly kooky, unsophisticated farm boy named Sky knocks on the door looking for Terry, and a case of mistaken identity reawakens Emmett’s hope in happily ever after.

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Dreamspinner Press, Sam Hill

Sam Hill Delivers This Christmas Story “Gift-wrapped” And Ready To Go

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Spending his holidays working at the mall popcorn stand was not what Noah had planned for, but this was his reality. Being a scholarship student didn’t leave a lot of money to travel from New York to LA at Christmas, so he would just have to suck it up. Everything wasn’t horrible about being at work, though. Noah has gotten himself a Secret Santa somehow, and this secret admirer seems to know a lot more about Noah than he should.

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Ari McKay, Dreamspinner Press

Take A “Last Leap of the First Foot” To Hop Into The New Year

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The tradition of First-Foot is a Scottish New Year’s Eve practice where a man steps over the threshold into someone’s home shortly after midnight. It is also referred to as Hogmanay. He becomes the first guest of the new year and brings a basket of gifts for the family he is visiting. In a country full of red-heads and blondes, Iain Donaldson was tall dark and handsome and a most desirable First-Foot guest on New Year‘s Eve 1899. He had yet to choose a wife, so all the families with single young lasses wanted him to come to their homes.

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Dawn Flemington, Dreamspinner Press

Why Not Go A Little “Blah, Humbug” For The Holidays?

“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!” – Ebenezer Scrooge

Haven Marley has to be one of the unluckiest men in the ENTIRE world. He hates his retail job during Christmas shopping season, when he finally gets off work his car won’t start, and while walking home he gets mugged! I mean, what could be worse? The only highlight in his craptastic holiday season is meeting Sander Klaus.
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Amy Rae Durreson, Dreamspinner Press

“Gaudete” Is A Reason To Rejoice

“There were moments, he’d always believed, when you could feel your life changing around you. He could feel that weight in the air now, every crisp detail of the medieval walls around him heavy with significance.” – Amy Rae Durreson

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Jamie Fessenden Introduces “The Healing Power of Eggnog”

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Will came out to his parents four years ago and hasn’t been home since. His parents were involved with a very strict church at the time and handled the revelation of his sexuality very badly. He has finally worked up the courage to go home for Christmas this year.
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Dreamspinner Press, Gale Stanley

“Bashert” Will Make You Believe In Destiny

“Fate has a way of putting in front of us that which we most try to leave behind.” ― Theodore “Mozzie” Winters

In the midst of all the commercialism of the Christmas season, Gale Stanley has offered, in Bashert, a lovely story of what it means for two young men to be gay and to reconcile that with their Jewish faith while observing Hanukkah.

Jonah Stern is spending his first Christmas away from home, having renounced his faith when his parents renounced his sexuality, forcing him to choose between being Jewish and being gay. Since the one isn’t a choice, Jonah gives up on the God that has given up on him, planning to spend the holiday break at Penn State searching for a nice goy to give his virginity to.

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B.G. Thomas, Dreamspinner Press

In Which “Grumble Monkey and the Department Store Elf” Make A Miracle

“Miracles are what happens when you get out of the way of yourself.” ― Brad Szollose

I absolutely loved this story! In fact, I did something I rarely do with a book: I read it twice!

Nick St. George is on a mission to drive to San Francisco in time for Christmas. Along the way he runs into a rather nasty ice storm. After spending the night in a frightful motel room, he takes his chance on the road rather than spend another night in motel hell. As the weather worsens, he stops at a rest stop and finds himself an elf! Well, not a real one, but another traveler wearing an elf’s hat who is stranded by the weather.
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Dreamspinner Press, Kim Fielding

“Alaska” Proves To Be The Perfect Setting This Holiday Season

“Did someone drawed a fireplace for you, Uncle Marco?”
“Not this year, honey.”
“Then how will Santa find you?”
“Oh, I’m sure he’ll find a way.” — Tia Fielding

What a beautiful, heartbreaking little Christmas story this is by Kim Fielding. Another new author to me, but I quickly became a fan. Though Alaska did break my heart and make me cry, it put it all back together again. That’s the hope of Christmas.

We first meet Marco and Scott on the roof of Marco’s house on Christmas Eve when they are 12 and 13 years old. The roof is the only place the two of them can find peace from the hellacious reality of their lives. Both boys live in terrible but different circumstances.
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Dreamspinner Press, Therese Woodson

Infatuation Gets A Little Messy In “The Trouble With Elves”

“I had to touch you with my hands, I had to taste you with my tongue; one can’t love and do nothing.” ― Graham Greene

BLURB: Cal Martin loathes Christmas music, especially the clichéd carols pumped through the mall speakers on endless loop. Even worse is the holiday-themed hell of Santa’s Village that looms right in front of the sports store he manages. It’s yet another hurdle for Cal as he tries to survive the world of retail during the soul-sucking holiday season… until he catches a glimpse of one of Santa’s elves and becomes infatuated with the cheery, gorgeous guy dressed in candy-cane tights.

Of course, just walking up to the guy and asking him out isn’t easy, and a botched attempt at matchmaking ends up turning a simple courtship into a mess for the gossip page. What can Cal do to overcome his social ineptitude, correct erroneous assumptions, and maybe have a merry little Christmas of his own?

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Dreamspinner Press, Grace R. Duncan

Grace R. Duncan Is “Celebrating You” This Christmas

“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.” ― Norman Vincent Peale

At what point does humanity need the hope and faith that belongs to the holidays more so than in a post-apocalyptic world? One that, if I read between the lines with any sort of accuracy, was decimated by a plague that stole Daniel’s husband Grant, and Jake’s partner Marcus, from them without so much as a promise that life would once again someday hold any sort of joy.

Grace R. Duncan’s Celebrating You, like my first Advent choice, isn’t your traditional Christmas tale—it’s a contemporary romance set in a dystopian landscape in which Daniel and Jake have learnt to get back to the basics of what life had once been in a sparer time, though Daniel’s ingenuity has given him a much more comfortable life than some others might have.
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