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!


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.


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


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


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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5 Stars, Beaten Track Publishing, Debbie McGowan, Holiday Romance, Reviewed by Jules, Small Gems

Review: A Midnight Clear by Debbie McGowan

Small Gems

Title: A Midnight Clear (Boughs of Evergreen Anthology)

Author: Debbie McGowan

Publisher: Beaten Track Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 84 Pages

At a Glance: This was a fantastic holiday read

Blurb: It’s a cold, desperate December when a young girl flees home, in search of food, shelter and the real Santa Claus. Stranded in George and Josh’s hometown, she discovers that the spirit of Christmas can be found in the most unexpected of places. Includes the story of The Little Match Girl, by Hans Christian Andersen.


Review: What a beautiful Christmas story. Everything about A Midnight Clear speaks to the spirit of the season. It’s a story of giving and sharing, of strength and hardship, and maybe most of all, of hope.

Libby is a runaway who, after spending the better part of a month living on the streets, finally benefits from a stroke of good luck (or is it kismet?) and meets a wonderful couple, George and Josh, who offer her some desperately needed help and shelter.

The details, both in story and setting, were amazing. I love stories that are set in England, and completely enjoyed the British culture aspects. In fact, the characters were so well-developed, and the world so richly created, I was compelled to do a bit of research on the author and her stories and was thrilled to find that there is an entire series based in this universe. A Midnight Clear is based on Debbie McGowan’s Hiding Behind the Couch series, which brought George and Josh to life.

This was a fantastic holiday read. I loved the flow of the story, and the chapter titles, and the fabulous way the author swirled it all together. One of my faves of the season, for sure.

You can buy A Midnight Clear 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

PicMonkey Collage

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


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.


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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All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

4.5 Stars, Alexis Woods, Beaten Track Publishing, Holiday Romance, Reviewed by Jules

Review: Lion’s Hero by Alexis Woods

Title: Lion’s Hero

Author: Alexis Woods

Publisher: Beaten Track Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 82 Pages

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Blurb: A story from Boughs of Evergreen: A Holiday Anthology (proceeds go to The Trevor Project).

Eight nights to fall in love. Continue reading

4.5 Stars, Amy Spector, Beaten Track Publishing, Holiday Romance, Reviewed by Jules

Review: Shiny Things by Amy Spector

Title: Shiny Things

Author: Amy Spector

Publisher: Beaten Track Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 67 Pages

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Blurb: A story from Boughs of Evergreen: A Holiday Anthology (proceeds go to The Trevor Project).

At sixteen, Nathaniel Avery was shipped off to live with an aunt in hopes of quelling a budding relationship between him and another boy. Ten years later, a frantic call from his younger brother and his father’s failing health, brings him back home. Continue reading

4 Stars, Beaten Track Publishing, Holiday Romance, Hunter Frost, Reviewed by Jules

Review: An Angel in Eyeliner by Hunter Frost

Title: An Angel in Eyeliner

Author: Hunter Frost

Publisher: Beaten Track Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 23 Pages

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb: A story from Boughs of Evergreen: A Holiday Anthology

All Mitch wants for Christmas is a quiet holiday free from grief. Patching up the face of the target of a mugging in the back alley of his bar seems to throw that wish right out into the cold Chicago night. But the tatted, pierced, and skinny-jean wearing Keller Graham is fearless and proves to be more than a pair of icy blue eyes lined in black. Keller may be a thief, but Mitch never expected him to steal his lonely heart. Continue reading

5 Stars, Beaten Track Publishing, Holiday Romance, Laura Susan Johnson, Reviewed by Lynn, Short Story

Review: Boyfriend Goes Home by Laura Susan Johnson – From the Boughs of Evergreen Anthology

Title: Boyfriend Goes Home

Anthology: Boughs of Evergreen

Author: Laura Susan Johnson

Publisher: Beaten Track Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 35 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: As a family scrambles to prepare Thanksgiving dinner, they discover that the greatest blessing of all is just being together and being alive. Continue reading

5 Stars, Beaten Track Publishing, Holiday Romance, Reviewed by Lynn, Shayla Mist, Short Story

Review: Christmas Commitment by Shayla Mist – From the Boughs of Evergreen Anthology

Title: Christmas Commitment

Anthology: Boughs of Evergreen

Author: Shayla Mist

Publisher: Beaten Track Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 26 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Dick hates Christmas. This year more than ever because he’s been dumped by his boyfriend. There’s only one way to prove to Zack he’s serious about their future together: coming out to his family. Dick might be willing to do that, but what if it’s already too late?

Continue reading

Beaten Track Publishing, Ofelia Grand

Guest Post and Giveaway: Boughs of Evergreen – A Holiday Anthology For A Cause

Boughs of EvergreenHolidays, don’t you just love holidays? The warmth, the abundance of food, the traditions, the love. That’s maybe the most important thing—the love. Holidays bring friends and family together,everyone is basking in the warm acceptance, the understanding, the unconditional love. No? No, I dare say that’s not always the case. For Simon in From All of Us to All of You holidays are something to dread.

Two days had passed since the disaster in Hannes’ hallway; only four anxiety-free days to go. That was a lie, of course. People were already getting into their holiday cheer, which in turn spiked my anxiety. I hated holiday cheer, but I tried to be polite about it. Every time someone would wish me a Merry Christmas, I would shudder, but smile, and wish them one in return.

“I really didn’t understand why we put ourselves through it. All these expectations only led to disappointments. Everyone was stressed; parents were stressed, old people were stressed, even the children were stressed. There was so much pressure everywhere, traditions to follow, hopes and wishes to be fulfilled—no wonder alcoholics opted for staying drunk, or passed out, during the festivities. The twenty-fourth of December was the worst day of the entire year, not that I looked forward to New Year’s Eve, Easter Eve, Midsummer Eve, or any other Eve, but Christmas Eve? I wished I could wipe that date out completely.” Continue reading