Giveaways, Rick R. Reed

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Couple Next Door Blog Tour with Rick R. Reed

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Hi, Rick, thanks so much for being with us today to chat about your new novel The Couple Next Door. It’s always great to have you here for a visit.

And it’s always great to be here! I’m so excited to share my new release with you guys and your readers! THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR is certainly a roller coaster of emotions—mysterious, romantic, thrilling, and ultimately a love story about overcoming almost impossible odds to be together.

There are two things that leap out at us readers in the blurb for the book, the first being that it deals with the subject of domestic violence. Do you feel that domestic abuse of men is more prevalent than we may realize, and how did you come to the decision to tackle such a weighty subject?

I do feel that domestic abuse of men is a very real and prevalent thing. Studies show that it occurs as often in LGBT relationships as it does in straight ones.

As I’ve said before, when I write a book, I am completely a pantser. What that means, if you don’t know, is that I write pretty much from the seat of my pants with a general idea of the story and the plot arc. It’s my characters that really take me on a journey. When they become real in my head, which is a necessity for me, they consistently lead me to new and unexpected places, which is part of the joy of creation for me.

With THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR, my first image of the two men who would become my love interests in the story was one of domestic violence. Often it’s a simple image that comes to me and shapes how I write the rest of the book. In this case, I first had the idea of an almost light romantic comedy opening, when my main character, Jeremy, comes home from yet another disappointing date. Then I do a 180 and throw the reader into shocking territory—he sees a man flinging another man down the front stairs of Jeremy’s apartment building. Here’s the scene:

I open the front door, and that’s when everything changes. My life turns upside down. I go from bored discontent to panic in a split second. 

The first thing I hear is someone shouting “No!” in an anguished voice. I look up from the lobby to see two figures on the staircase above, on the second-floor landing. One is a guy who looks menacing and so butch he could pose for a Tom of Finland poster. An aura of danger radiates from him. Aside from his imposing and muscular frame, he’s even wearing the right clothes—tight, rolled jeans and a black leather biker jacket with a chain snaking out from beneath one of the epaulets. His high and tight buzzed hair gives him a military—and mean—air. He has his hands on the shoulders of a guy who looks a bit younger and much slighter, making me want to call up the stairs, “Why don’t you pick on someone your own size?” The smaller guy, blond and clad only in a pair of pajama bottoms, struggles with his attacker, looking terrified. Their movements, clumsy and rough, would be comical if they weren’t so scary. The smaller guy is panting and batting ineffectually at the bigger one. 

“Please! No! Don’t!” the smaller guy manages to get out, his voice close to hysteria. 

I have never seen either of these men before. In fact, the whole scene has the quality of the surreal, a dream. The danger and conflict pulsing down the stairs makes my own heart rate and respiration accelerate, causing feelings of panic to rise within me. 

And then the worst happens. The big butch guy shoves the smaller one hard, and all at once he’s tumbling heavily down the stairs toward me. 

The fall is graceless, and it looks like it hurts. It’s over so fast that I’m left gasping. 

I look up to see the leather-jacket guy sneer down at his mate, lying crumpled and crying at my feet, and then turn sharply on his heel to go back into a second-floor apartment that had been vacant yesterday. He slams the door. The sound of the deadbolt sliding into place is like the report of a shotgun. Both slam and lock resound like thunderclaps, echoing in the tile lobby, punctuation to the drama and trauma of this short scene. 

I switch into Good Samaritan mode and drop to my knees at the sniveling, crumpled mess of a man lying practically at my feet.

That scene brought out the nurturer in me, as well as my main character, Jeremy. I hope it brings out the same sense of protectiveness in readers and will make them want to root for Shane, however mysterious he may be on the surface.

It was interesting for me to get inside the heads of all three players in this triangle of abuse, the protector, Jeremy, the protected, Shane (and he has all the low self-esteem earmarks of the abused, often blaming himself for the abuse instead of his abuser), and the man with whom Shane lives, a very enigmatic figure to say the least.

How does all of this plays out and how it results in a very poignant and real love story? I leave that for the reader to discover…

The second thing that stands out, then, is that Cole may display signs of multiple personality disorder—or, at least he’s more than just Cole. Was it fun to write a character who presents so atypical in personality? How easy or difficult was it to get in Cole’s headspace, and what did you do to prepare yourself for letting loose your darker side?

It was really interesting writing a story that had elements of multiple personality disorder, or dissociative identity disorder, as it’s called today. It was fun, in an evil way, to write Cole/John/Vera because the character is so multi-faceted and so enigmatic. Is he good but damaged? Or is he evil and plotting? These are the kind of questions I think readers will be scratching their heads and asking about him as they wind their way down the twisted pathways of my story. There are plenty of switches and shocking revelations, so that once a reader is comfortable with who they think Cole/John/Vera might be, I pull the rug out from under them. That might seem cruel, but this is the kind of book I like to read—one that has an element of romance, but one that keeps me turning the pages so that I can discover what happens next. I think readers will be surprised by the twists and turns the story takes, especially where Cole/John/Vera is concerned. As the tag line says on the cover, “Things aren’t always as they seem.”

This would be a good time to give a shout out to readers and reviewers and plead with them: PLEASE DO NOT REVEAL ANY SPOILERS. This book, more than any other I’ve written, has unanticipated twists and turns that I hope readers can come to without expectation, so they can have the appropriate emotional reaction.

As far as letting loose my dark side…. Well, it doesn’t get nearly enough play. When I write, this is my chance to let out my twisted side, the one people who’ve met me are always surprised that I have. After all, I’m so quiet, mild-mannered, and a real sweetheart. Right?

Dividers

The Couple Next DoorBLURB: With the couple next door, nothing is as it seems.

Jeremy Booth leads a simple life, scraping by in the gay neighborhood of Seattle, never letting his lack of material things get him down. But the one thing he really wants—someone to love—seems elusive. Until the couple next door moves in and Jeremy sees the man of his dreams, Shane McCallister, pushed down the stairs by a brute named Cole.

Jeremy would never go after another man’s boyfriend, so he reaches out to Shane in friendship while suppressing his feelings of attraction. But the feeling of something being off only begins with Cole being a hard-fisted bully—it ends with him seeming to be different people at different times. Some days, Cole is the mild-mannered John and then, one night in a bar, he’s the sassy and vivacious drag queen Vera.

So how can Jeremy rescue the man of his dreams from a situation that seems to get crazier and more dangerous by the day? By getting close to the couple next door, Jeremy not only puts a potential love in jeopardy, but eventually his very life.

Buy Links: Dreamspinner Press || Amazon || All Romance eBooks || Barnes & Noble

DividersRick R. ReedAbout the Author: Rick R. Reed is all about exploring the romantic entanglements of gay men in contemporary, realistic settings. While his stories often contain elements of suspense, mystery and the paranormal, his focus ultimately returns to the power of love. He is the author of dozens of published novels, novellas, and short stories. He is a three-time EPIC eBook Award winner (for Caregiver, Orientation and The Blue Moon Cafe). Raining Men and Caregiver have both won the Rainbow Award for gay fiction.  Lambda Literary Review has called him, “a writer that doesn’t disappoint.” Rick lives in Seattle with his husband and a very spoiled Boston terrier. He is forever “at work on another novel.”

Where to find the authorWeb || Blog || Facebook || Twitter || E-mail || Goodreads Link

Dividers

THE GIVEAWAY

Enter to win an e-copy of Rick R. Reed’s TRICKS

TricksBlurb: Tricks can mean many things: sex partners, deceptions, even magic—or maybe all three.

Arliss is a gorgeous young dancer at Tricks, the hottest club in Chicago’s Boystown. Sean is the classic nerd, out of place in Tricks, but nursing his wounds from a recent breakup. When the two spy each other, magic blooms.

But this opposites-attract tale does not run smooth. What happens when Arliss is approached by one of the biggest porn producers in the business? Can he make his dreams of stardom come true without throwing away the only real love he’s ever known? This question might not even matter if the mysterious producers realize their dark intentions.

Rafflecopter Giveaway

Dividers

Tour Stops and Dates:

7-Dec
The Novel Approach

8-Dec
Prism Book Alliance

9-Dec
MM Good Book Reviews

10-Dec

BFD Book Blog

11-Dec
Havan Fellows
Inked Rainbow Reads

Dividers

The Fine Print:

*Entrants must be 18 years or older to qualify
*Some residency restrictions may apply
*All comments must be relevant to the author’s prompt to be eligible (when applicable)
*The Novel Approach will not be held liable for prize delivery unless otherwise specified
*Void where prohibited by law

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Brit Blaise

Character Interview: Unconditional Surrender Anthology Blog Tour – Brit Blaise


Blurb: Brit Blaise – Storm Out

An Army Ranger suffering from PTSD finds coming out the biggest storm he’s ever faced…until he needs to save his grandfather’s life. A gay stranger in a deadly snowstorm brings suspense and danger. Can Cowboy Kale keep his family safe while coming to terms with his sexuality?

Buy Links: Amazon | Amazon UK | All Romance eBooks | iTunes | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

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Question: What would you change about your life if you could?

Sam: I don’t know if I could have done it, but I wouldn’t have been the perpetual victim in my mother’s on-going drama.

Question: Who is a hero you admire and why? Continue reading

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Bailey Bradford, Totally Bound

Bailey Bradford Celebrates The Launch Of Totally Bound’s New Imprint With A Giveaway


WHP_Bailey Bradford_Social Media_finalTotally Bound has a brand new Imprint out, What’s his Passion? and I am thrilled to be a part of it! My contribution is Unexpected Places, a story featuring Carter Hausemann, a man who is passionate about hiking.

To celebrate the launch of What’s his Passion? Totally Bound are giving away a bundle of prizes. Enter HERE for your chance to win:
Continue reading

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Jaime Reese, Self-Published

Jaime Reese Stops In Today With An Interview And Giveaway on the “A Hunted Man” Blog Tour

15712796TNA: Hi, Jaime, thanks so much for being here with us today. Why don’t we start out by having you tell us a little bit about yourself: hobbies, interests, things we might not know about you but should?

Jaime: Thanks for inviting me! :)

I love creative things…art, music, reading. I’m not much of an outdoorsy person but I love saltwater fishing.

Personality-wise, I’m quiet and reserved initially but will gladly talk your ear off once I’m comfortable in a situation.

I’m married to an amazing man who deserves a medal for putting up with me. We have a 120lb dog who thinks he’s our son and definitely knows how to work those puppy dog eyes of his.

Continue reading

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Charlie Cochet, Dreamspinner Press

Charlie Cochet And The Impetuous Afflictions Blog Tour Are Here – Rumor Has It There’s A Giveaway


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I suppose this is the part where I introduce myself. My name is Jonathan Wolfe, but everyone calls me Johnnie. I suggest you do too. First of all, let me just say that Charlie is screwy in the head, seeing as how she chose me to do this little tour. Why she didn’t ask the Englishman to talk about English things is beyond me, but then I’ve never been very good at understanding the dames. Then again, I don’t do all that well with the fellas either. Let’s just say I’m not the world’s most amicable fellow and leave it at that.

This is the first of six stops on my personal guided tour. After that, you’ll hear from Charlie and the Brats. What’s that you ask? Don’t I have other things I should be getting on with? Say, you got plenty of swift there. Yes I do, but when the lady of the house prods you—in a most unladylike manner might I add–you’ll do as asked if you know what’s good for you. Let’s get on with it, shall we? We’ll start from home: Hawthorne Manor.

HawthorneManor

[Attribution: Mattlever [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons]

Hawthorne Manor is filled with impudent whelps that drive me nuts, and Chance who is a nut. I will admit it’s the only place I have ever felt at ease in. It’s also the only place I’ve ever called home. Hawthorne Manor was built by Jacky’s grandparents back in the late 1800s, but it includes all the modern comforts, such as running water, central heating, and electricity. It’s situated two miles from the town of Aylesbury and employs thirty indoor staff and fifteen outdoor staff plus eight laundry room staff. The west wing of the house is an attachment that was built a good twenty years after the rest of the house, and Jacky gifted it to Henry when we arrived from Africa. There you’ll find Henry’s infirmary, a waiting room, small ward, his office, and a linen area. Yeah, the place is real swanky, with twenty five bedrooms, eight bathrooms, four studies, banquet hall, ballroom, billiard room, dining room, two libraries, two music rooms, breakfast room, morning room, and a bunch of other rooms I can’t quite recall. I know what you’re thinking, but when there are twelve fellas occupying the same space, believe me, the joint can’t be big enough.

FlowerBed

[Attribution: YK Times at en.wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons]

This is the flowerbed outside my bedroom window. It’s also the flowerbed I land in when Elliot locks me in my room. It happens more often than you think. Fenton the grounds-keeper dislikes me greatly. Elliot is one of the impudent whelps I mentioned earlier. You’ll learn more about him later on in the tour. Piece of advice: don’t let that cherub face fool you, he’s a clever little scoundrel. He’s also known to use his teddy bear and pout as a means of distraction. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. You’ll also get to know more about the Brats—that’s what we call’ em. Well, it’s what Chance used to call Bobby, Alexander, and me once upon a time when we were driving him crazy, and then it sort of became a term of endearment. Though the driving everyone nuts part is still very much a part of it.

Hawthorne Manor is more than just my home. It was Jacky’s dream to provide a safe haven for fellas like us, and over the last eight years, we’ve taken in seven Brats: Gideon, Rori, Aubrey, Oliver, Elliot, Connor, and Edmund. They range from six to twenty years old, each one with a heartbreaking story. The six of us who run the manor made a pact to protect these boys, provide them with a family, and help them regain their confidence. We help them find the strength they’ll need to face a world that had once been so cruel to them. Some days it’s crushing, but no matter what happens, we do our best to show them they can have a better life than the one they started off with, that there are folks who do care. It’s my job to help them get settled into their new life at the manor. It ain’t easy, but it’s worth it.

The manor is owned by Jacky, who’s a right guy. He’s the head of the household and as good as they come. Then there’s Chance—who we’ve established is nuts, who supports Jacky and keeps everyone in line. Bobby is a swell guy, and he teaches the Brats etiquette. Alexander is a pain in my backside. He’s also a qualified professor who educates the Brats. Henry looks after everyone’s physical and mental wellbeing. He’s also… uh, well, he’s um… What’s with the face? I ain’t having a sappy moment, so dry up. Okay, so maybe I am having a sappy moment. Henry’s off limits, so you just keep your wandering eye from wandering in his direction. Go look at the posies or something. What’s left of’ em. All right, tour’s over for the day. Flowers gave me the sniffles, so I’m just gonna drop in on Henry. For the sneezin’, cause you know, he’s a doctor and all. Aw, lay off. Next stop on the tour is the billiard room, now breeze.

 

Blurb:

IAJW200Eight years after leaving the deserts of Africa and the French Foreign Legion behind, Jonathan Wolfe has settled into life at Hawthorne Manor in the English countryside. Johnnie helps his adopted family run the manor and provide a safe, loving home for a new generation of “brats”: boys mistreated and discarded for their homosexuality—something all too familiar to Johnnie.

Although no longer an unruly youngster, Johnnie is as stubborn, foul-mouthed, and troublesome as ever. His recent rash behavior becomes a concern for those closest to him, especially Dr. Henry Young, the only man ever to capture Johnnie’s heart. Instead of soothing him, their closeness brings Johnnie’s insecurities from an unsettling past to the surface, and leads to an explosive situation that threatens to tear them apart. Then Henry’s past catches up to them….

 

Excerpts are in the form of a serial.

Excerpt Part 1

UNFORTUNATELY, I only made it as far as the empty waiting room before he caught up with me.

“So, what was that about?”

“Nothing.”

“Now pull the other one.” Chance took a seat in one of the deep, wine-red armchairs against the far wall and made himself comfortable. Damn it. There was no escaping him now. With a heavy sigh, I took a seat in the armchair beside him. The waiting room was large, tastefully decorated in muted yellows, golds, and deep reds, and resembled a drawing room more than a medical waiting room. There were plenty of potted plants and flowers, as well as a large, black iron fireplace on the opposite wall to keep the joint warm in the winter. The large rug in the center of the room was Grecian-styled to match the gilded mirror hanging over the fireplace and the various other frames containing paintings of serene landscapes. It was all very elegant but simple so as not to intimidate its visitors. Henry had been very adamant about that. He wanted folks to feel at ease when they came to see him, no matter their status.

“Well?” Chance angled himself toward me and waited.

There were few people in this world I trusted with my life, and Chance was one of them—the other two being Jacky and Henry. I also knew there was no escape, because Chance always got his way. Always. It was annoying as hell. I opened my mouth when he held a finger up. “Wait.”

“What?”

He threw his head back and laughed.

I sat and waited while he doubled over. It had been a while since I had seen him laugh this hard. “Glad to know my life is so amusing to you.”

Part 2 continued on Nov 11th over at Sue Brown’s blog.

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Available in ebook and print from Dreamspinner Press: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4362

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Comment prompt: What gives you the sniffles? Flowers, puppies, sappy movies?


About the Author:

CCochet100Charlie Cochet is an author by day and artist by night. Always quick to succumb to the whispers of her wayward muse, no star is out of reach when following her passion. From Historical to Fantasy, Contemporary to Science Fiction, there’s bound to be plenty of mischief for her heroes to find themselves in, and plenty of romance, too!

Currently residing in South Florida, Charlie looks forward to migrating to a land where the weather includes seasons other than hot, hotter, and boy, it’s hot! When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading, drawing, or watching movies. She runs on coffee, thrives on music, and loves to hear from readers.

Website: http://www.charliecochet.com
Blog: http://www.charliecochet.com/blog
Email: charlie@charliecochet.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/charliecochet
Twitter: @charliecochet | http://www.twitter.com/charliecochet


Giveaway

1st Prize: $15 Amazon gift card + Impetuous Afflictions signed swag pack + signed 8×10 art print.

2nd & 3rd Prize: Impetuous Afflictions swag pack + signed 8×10 art print.

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To Enter

Just leave a comment on any of the blog posts along the tour, along with a contact email address. **If you would still like to enter the contest but don’t wish to leave your email address in the comment, you can also enter by emailing charlie@charliecochet.com.

Winners will be chosen at random and posted on Charlie’s blog at http://www.charliecochet.com/blog on Monday, December 2nd. Winners will then be notified via email.

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Contest ends

Sunday, December 1st at midnight, Eastern Time.


Tour stops:

11/9 – Welcome to Hawthorne Manor [Excerpt 1] – The Novel Approach

11/11 – Billiard Room Brouhaha [Excerpt 2] – Author Sue Brown

11/12 – A Trip to the Town of Aylesbury [Excerpt 3] – Author Kim Fielding

11/13 – Time for Tea [Excerpt 4] – Author Lex Chase

11/14 – Stopping for a Pint [Excerpt 5] – Author Andrew Q. Gordon

11/15 – Visiting the Furry Hat Man [Excerpt 6] – Author Eden Winters

11/18 – Meet Gideon Brooks [Excerpt 7] – Author Michael Rupured

11/19 – Meet Rori Curti [Excerpt 8]s – Author Shira Anthony

11/20 – Meet Aubrey Jepson [Excerpt 9] – Attention is Arbitrary

11/21 – Meet Oliver Darling [Excerpt 10] – Hearts on Fire

11/22 – Meet Elliot Young [Excerpt 11] – Author Elin Gregory

11/25 – Meet Connor & Edmund Grey [Excerpt 12]- Joyfully Jay

11/26 – The Devilish Duo [Finale] – Mrs. Condit & Friends

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Hayden Thorne, Queerteen Press

Hayden Thorne’s “Benedict” Is A Coming-Of-Age Story Told In A Unique Way – And She’s Offering A Giveaway!



I’m afraid I’m going to be the odd person out on Lisa’s review blog as I’ve got nothing GRL-related to share with everyone; however, I enjoy geeking out in a way that dusty, book-hoarding, book-fondling English majors could appreciate. I thought long and hard for what I could say about Benedict, but I ultimately came up with nothing of much interest save for the fact that the story was a salvaged fantasy flash fiction that a fantasy magazine rejected. It was originally titled “Belinda”, and Belinda was a marionette who got so fed up with her strings controlling her that she freed herself from them and died as a result. Not a particularly happy story, but it had a point. The marionette angle stayed in the back of my mind, though, and years after I attempted “Belinda”, I recycled the general idea behind the story and expanded it into a gay YA fairy tale novella.

Marionette Theatre

Unfortunately, that’s it about Benedict and its history, but I can veer off a tad and go full English Lit nerd insofar as my sources of inspiration go when it comes to writing historical fantasy stories for and about gay kids. And those who’re familiar with my backlist will attest to the fact that I can’t write something without working metaphors in them or just plain go all out on the fantasy elements to make a point.

Some people might ask, “Why can’t you just tell a straightfoward story about coming out or bullying or family dynamics, etc.? Why go through all the trouble of writing something so roundabout to explore an issue that’s contemporary?”

My overly simplified response to that would be this: oh, heck, why not? :D

My less overly simplified response would be this: I want to give gay kids fairy tales they can call their own. They’ve grown up having all those classic, heterocentric stories fed to them, from Charles Perrault to the Brothers Grimm to Hans Christian Andersen to Oscar Wilde and all other writers in between. Wouldn’t it be great to offer them fairy tales that go beyond castles and noblemen or re-imagined popular tales in which the gender and sexual orientation of the protagonists are changed? Wouldn’t it be great to give them fairy tales that explore contemporary issues they’re familiar with while keeping to the conventions of the genre?

The Owl and the Nightingale

I’ve always known about metaphors as a figure of speech, but I never really understood allegory as a literary device until I was in college, and my Medieval Lit professor assigned “The Owl and the Nightingale” for us to read. Written sometime in the 12th – 13th centuries, it’s been interpreted a variety of ways, one being a religious allegory involving asceticism and celebration. I wrote a paper about it, using that angle, and enjoyed my time researching the Benedictines and the Friars Minor, the two most likely candidates represented by the owl and the nightingale (note: I ended up dating St. Francis’ timeline incorrectly and left my thesis standing on shaky ground, but my professor didn’t seem to know much about monks and friars, so I was spared the humiliation of being called out on it).

'Two Men Contemplating the Moon' by Caspar David Friedrich

And, as they say, I never looked back. It sure doesn’t help that I was required to do close readings in all of my literature classes – save for maybe the 18th century satirists, who didn’t care to mess around when they snarked about things – which spiraled to stratospheric levels when I studied Romanticism. That was a goldmine of metaphors and imagery and what have you, with Romantics rebelling against the cold reason of the Age of Enlightenment before them.

E.T.A. Hoffmann

I’ve read so many books since then, but those from my Medieval Lit and Early 19th Century Lit classes (and, ironically, the 18th century satirists), stayed with me the longest, and they’ve influenced pretty much everything I’ve written, no matter how contemporary. I found that I enjoy toying around with imagery and coming up with ways of conveying different ideas that readers might not expect. The thrill of writing these little “breadcrumbs” into the story is what helps fuel those long, agonizing, lonely hours either hammering away at the keyboard or giving my wrist a serious cramp when I write in longhand. I enjoy that element of surprise as a writer, and I always hope there’d be at least one person who’d pick up the book, read those “breadcrumbs”, connect the dots in his or her head, and go, “I get it!”. To me, that process of pulling something out of the text beyond what’s on the surface level adds something special to the reading experience.

Since I’m no longer in school, I do find inspiration for historical fantasy just about everywhere. Over at my blog, I tend to write about sources of inspiration, most of which is musical. There’s one film, though, of all the ones I’ve seen since the dawn of time, that I look up to as a fantasy writer, and it’s Guillermo Del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth.

It’s a film that masterfully, seamlessly weaves elements of reality with fantasy, leaving viewers wondering in the end whether or not Ofelia’s fairy tale adventures were real or a figment of her imagination all along, especially when those fairy tale scenes have real-life counterparts above ground. Beyond the possibility of a child’s tragic attempts at disassociating herself from the horrors of Civil War-wracked Spain, there are so many ways of interpreting the movie. I remember sitting stunned in my seat when the credits rolled, completely horrified, heartbroken, and yet just plain amazed at the way Del Toro wove his story (the visuals sure helped a lot, too). I’ve yet to come across another film that either rivals this one or one-ups it in showing just how inextricably connected reality is with fantasy.

Though my go-to genre for musical inspiration has always been classical music, there are some contemporary songs that have fueled some of my historical fantasies. Contemporary folk songs such as Seth Lakeman’s “Lady of the Sea (Hear Her Calling)” and Genticorum’s “Les Culottes De V’Lour” work like folktales in the way they tell stories of shipwrecks (Lakeman) or cuckolds (Genticorum).

Classical music tends to inspire me to come up with more grandiose elements (settings, plots, characters), but simple folk songs like these inspire me to look at the everyman (or, in the case of my chosen market, the everyboy) and tell his story. Fairy tales, after all, aren’t just about nobility; at this day and age, a shifting emphasis to the working-class is, I think, more appropriate for allegory, and I’ve been focusing more and more on the less privileged for my protagonists. Just like those archetypal princes and princesses, they deserve their time in the sun as heroes of their own special quests – even more so, in fact, given the odds stacked up against them.

Other forms of art inspire me in so many ways, but I’d like to stop here before I kill Lisa’s blog with too much text. :D Thanks for having me aboard!

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THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED

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Michael Kudo, Rocking Horse Publishing

Michael Chulsky Wants To Invite You Into “The Descending Darkness” With A Giveaway!





The Descending Darkness: Theme

“When you’re feeling like you’re lost out to sea, the only thing you can do is ride the waves and try your best to keep from going under.”



2882139Today I’m with The Novel Approach Reviews to discuss a bit about the theme of The Descending Darkness.

Quite a few people have asked me what the main theme of the novel is. Truth be told, it’s a very difficult question. Because I personally believe that there isn’t a specific theme. While writing I think either subconsciously or otherwise, I added several themes which run through the novel’s core. Despite everything, I’ve answered the question to the best of my ability and given the same answer over and over again: hope.

To understand the theme we need to go back a bit into my history.

It’s important to understand that I was in a dark time in my life when I started on the first draft of “TDD”. I was starting to come to terms with my sexuality and my anxiety disorder. And I was dealing with the repercussion of giving my heart to somebody who didn’t love me back. I felt really alone. I’d given up on happiness because I didn’t think that I deserved it – that I wasn’t good enough. I closed myself off and pulled away from everyone.

There was so much pain in me that I didn’t know how to properly deal with it. There were days when I would lay in bed all day and other days where I wanted to, but didn’t because I didn’t want anybody to catch on. Sometimes, everything got so overwhelming that I would hurt myself because in those moments the pain on the outside helped me think and ignore the pain that I felt inside. It wasn’t healthy and I don’t encourage anybody to do it. So please don’t. Talk to somebody, it’s a much better outlet.

Eventually I started to fight back against the demons. I started writing more, working out, and doing anything I could to take my focus away from those pesky voices in my head. And soon after, I found somebody who loved me for me and was willing to help me heal the hurt inside in a healthy way. And, not long after that, I finished “TDD” and found a publisher who connected to the story and published it.

The reason why the main theme of “TDD” is hope is because of what the characters go through. They are a group of strangers coming together and they have to work for a common goal. They’re taking a huge leap of faith with everything. They need to believe in themselves and each other if they want to succeed. They need to have hope. And that’s exactly what I needed to have, and eventually got back. The moment when I started thinking that I was worth something and that I did matter, things started getting better. And the moment when you lose sight of that is the moment that your world gets taken over by darkness. This is symbolized by the title of the novel and the actual event. The team can’t stop the darkness until they believe in their mission and themselves.

And lastly, another important element of the theme is the LGBT side. A few of the team are LGBT. My goal was to give LGBT youth heroes that they could look up to and relate with. This was important to me because growing up, there weren’t any gay superheroes that I knew of that I could look up to and/or believe in.

I won’t say which characters, yet, because I want people to connect to the characters without knowing their sexuality because it shouldn’t matter. I don’t want anybody basing their like/dislike of the characters on their sexuality. A person’s sexuality doesn’t dominate their entire being. I want those in doubt of that to read and be pleasantly surprised when they connect to the gay character that they probably would have initially disliked because of their sexual preference. And if you’re curious, you’ll just have to pick up the second book. :P


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Author Bio:

Michael Chulsky grew up in New Jersey and has been writing ever since his fourth grade teacher let him create a class newspaper to channel his creativity. He is the author of The Descending Darkness and currently lives with his fiancé. When not writing he enjoys browsing Tumblr, listening to music, and devouring every piece of cheesecake that falls into his line of sight.

Social Media/Blog Links:

The Descending Darkness/Author Website
Blog
Facebook


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1239439_635743709790528_992776147_nBLURB:

After going from demon hunter to babysitter, seventeen-year-old SHADOW has truly hit rock bottom. One week he’s slaughtering demons, and the next he has ten super-powered teenagers in his care. Shadow needs them, because without them he can’t hope to defeat his new foe. But he’s never dealt with other teenagers before. He never had a real childhood. He’s always been a loner. Hell, he’s tried the whole having-a-pet thing. It died.

Shadow’s mission: save the world and ensure his entire team survives the potential apocalypse. If MAEDARA, self-proclaimed fashionista and Queen of Evil, wasn’t trying to rule the world, it’d be cake. Now, not only does Shadow have to deal with teens more concerned with going to the mall than fighting evil, but also a villain who, in his opinion, makes Lady Gaga look like Mother Theresa.

Buy Links:

Barnes & Noble
Amazon
Rocking Horse Publishing


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THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED

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A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week, The Joyful Approach

Here’s A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week!



Well, folks, we’ve got another exciting and giveaway filled week ahead, as well as some great reviews to share. This is a week you’re most definitely not going to want to miss!

Included in the Joyful Approach Countdown to GayRomLit fun will be:




>> Monday: Amelia C. Gormley
>> Tuesday: Marguerite Labbe
>> Wednesday: Rick R. Reed
>> Thursday: Poppy Dennison
>> Friday: Jade Buchanan


>> We’ll also have graphic artist A.J. Corza (from GotYouCovered) here on Wednesday with her weekly Top Cover Pick.


But that’s not all! The giveaways continue on into the weekend:

>> Saturday: Santino Hassell visits on his After Midnight Blog Tour
>> Sunday: J.H. Trumble will be our guest on her Just Between Us Tour

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We hope to see you all in the days ahead. In the meantime, Happy Reading!

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A.F. Henley, Less Than Three Press

And Now An Interlude With AF Henley… And There’s A Giveaway!

Huge thanks to The Novel Approach for hosting me today. It is an honour and a pleasure to be here.

To bastardize a famous quote(1), there are a million romance stories in the world, mine is but one. It truly is the same old process: person meets person and those two people fall in love. The prose is as old as time itself, as overdone as my grandmother’s lasagna, and yet somehow the need to read, write, watch, or listen never seems to fade away. So how to present this format, this already massively represented genre, in a way that will continue to pull in readers? It’s a question I struggle with. On one side of the equation, anything too similar becomes tiresome. In other words, if there was an actual formula to follow, readers would have already become sick of it and moved on. Yet at the same time, there’s a distinct *thing* about romance that draws people in, so an author has to keep somewhat consistent with expectations.

I try a couple of things to keep my characters offside of the norm. One thing I’m very fond of is writing characters with flaws. They are however, traits that I consider to be “realistic character-isms.” In life, people do things they aren’t proud of, things that are ingrained into their nature by reason of past experiences or negative beliefs. My characters will root through people’s cupboards. They’ll make regrettable choices. They will let fear of reprisal and societal expectations take too strong a hold. They make other characters feel bad, and occasionally forgo trust for suspicion. Because as good of a person as we all like to believe that we are, many of us, if not most of us, have done the same along the way.

Another path my MCs tends to take is what my mother used to refer to as “the long way around.” Basing fiction off real life yet again, I try to imply that my characters, even in a moment of epiphany, may not have completely learned their lesson. Issues don’t get solved over night. People don’t do one-eighties ninety percent of the time. I’ve often joked that there’s a reason people confuse the term “one-eighty” with “three-sixty.” More often than not we find ourselves right back at the point from whence we started and have to start all over again. I try to leave my characters in a state of learning and considering rather than suggest that they are reborn and newly-saint-like.

Ian’s hands were shaking as he fumbled the key into his ignition. “Can I buy you a drink?” he’d asked, still panting from release, still trying to convince his legs that he could, in fact, remain standing.

“Nope,” Jordan had said, tucking away body parts and straightening his clothes. “Now you can piss off.”

It had caught Ian off guard. It shouldn’t have; Jordan had made it more than clear what the game was. But his tongue hadn’t stopped even though his brain had begged it to. “Maybe your number? I could call you sometime?”

Jordan had just shook his head, clicked his belt closed and unlocked the door. “Nope.”
Ian had stood alone for a long minute, willing breath and heartbeat back to normality while cock had softened and Ian’s confidence had died just a little more.

He’d tried to stop at the bar for a drink. To kill the trembling. To quiet the nervous hitch in his guts. The shot just made it worse.

So when he finally laid his head back against the seat of his car and stared into the rear-view mirror, his mind’s eye replaced his own brown pair with the blue eyes of his ex and he sighed. “Madison, I’ll never figure you out.”

Because how could a person want this? What was the point to a random encounter? Where was the attachment, the meaning?

Or was he the crazy one? The only person on the face of the earth that actually felt worse after blowing a load into a willing stranger? Maybe he was the anomaly.

“Fuck,” Ian hissed, shaking his head at his reflection. With gritted teeth and a headache starting in his temples, Ian slammed the car into reverse, revved the engine and peeled out of the parking lot.

If a protagonist is filled with realistic shortfalls and issues then they are, at the very least, relatable. And if they are, in fact, relatable then what a cool thing it is to watch them begin the journey of self-realisation and adjustment. After all, if they can do it, maybe we can too. If I can ignite the hope that true love just might be waiting for us at the far end of this tunnel we call existence; suggesting that there’s a possibility that in spite of flaw, with the help of the Universe and perseverance, we can find success with the hand we’ve been dealt … well, then my job here is complete. :)

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Sonata
by A.F. Henley

Publisher: Less Than Three Press
44,000 words
M/M Contemporary Erotic Romance

At thirty-six Ian feels done with the world. When a night at a bar goes as poorly as expected, he wants only to return home to be miserable in peace. Instead, he encounters Jordan. Hot, young and interested, Jordan is everything Ian’s ever wanted and nothing he believes himself capable of actually obtaining.

Jordan has enough going on in his life trying to scrape together a living for himself and his autistic son. When he meets Ian, all he wants is a brief, erotic moment and nothing else.

But fate throws them together again and again, and Ian finds himself determined to do whatever it takes to give their story a happy ending – no matter what secrets Jordan’s past has waiting for him.

Purchase Sonata here

The Giveaway:

What’s your personal take on flawed characters? Do you prefer Mr. Perfect as your main character or do you go for Mr. Needs-To-Work-On-It? What flaws do you hate to read about and what are the ones that get to your heart each time? I’d love to hear what you think. All commenters will be entered into a draw for a free copy of their choice of my Less Than Three Press publications, including the new release Sonata, in the ebook format that best suits them. Entry Deadline is midnight Pacific Time on Friday, August 9, 2013. The winner will be drawn on August 10, and notified via email.

Here’s hoping that you’re all managing to keep your eyes on the sky and a song in your heart. Thanks for reading.

AF Henley <3

1. The Naked City; Mark Hellinger Productions, Universal Studios, March 1948
“There are eight million stories in the naked city. This has been one of them.”

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