Rodion Rebenyar, The Prose Speak

The Prose Speak: With Author Rodion Rebenyar

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We’re so pleased to have first time visitor author Rodion Rebenyar join us today to introduce himself and his work to you.

Welcome, Rodion!

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No case of mistaken identity

No temporary phase I’m just going through

Not something I’ll grow out of in time

Not a choice

Not by accident

Rather by design

I like boys on purpose.

                                                      — from BOYS ON PURPOSE: A Collection of Poetry,

                                                                    Prose and Stories with Decidedly Gay Overtones

Available for purchase at Amazon

Having stumbled into writing not on purpose, I have discovered that authors count on several factors to attract readers. Naturally the quality of our writing is foremost, and our ability to hold the reader’s interest ranks high on the list. Having an attractive book cover also pulls in many more interested parties, and it can also boost sales.

As a voracious reader, I found that a clever title always worked well for me. Using a familiar phrase or set or words in an extraordinary way never ceases to fascinate me. I began playing with words and deconstructing familiar phrases to come up with a title for my first book. I felt I had latched onto something catchy when I composed several gay-themed poems. One of the shorter ones is featured above, and three words from the last line became the title of my first collection, self-published in April 2011.

For my second book, I wanted to continue on the same theme: a story with decidedly gay overtones. And I wanted to make it my story, but fictionalize it to a greater extent. I harkened back to three words from my poem: “not by choice.” I began to ponder why so many people outside the LGBTQ community insist that homosexuality is not something a person is born with, but a choice. I thought back on various ways our community has been maligned: Anita Bryant’s pro-family campaign of the 1970’s, the fears surrounding the first cases of AIDS in the 80’s, and ongoing issues of same-sex marriage and transgender rights worldwide.

In each of these levels in the struggle, I watched opposition forces try to demonize our community. Their attempts only served to galvanize us more each time. So our choices are within the lifestyle. As I developed material for my novel, I considered the choices I had to make, the conditions I had to weigh in moving forward in my life. Having to conform to a Leave It to Beaver model confused me as a kid. Even as a young adult I still had doubts: why was I different? Why didn’t I have positive role models to help me grow and mature? I reflect some of the perils in this excerpt from chapter five of THE CHOICES WE MADE: A Story of Gay Friendship, Love and Tragedy – Amazon

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My mind travelled back again to visions of how stoic and jaded all those little cocksuckers at the party had acted. I’d have bet anything that they had suffered the same humiliation I had as they were growing up. I could not imagine it any other way.

I shuddered as I recalled all the spat-upon cafeteria lunches I had endured. Recalling my bashed-in hall locker with the words PUSSY and YOU DIE FAGGOT scrawled across it still pains me today.  Taunts, jeers as well as veiled threats were  made  right  to  my  face.  And all the while no one lifted a finger to help me, the  school administration least of all.

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Author BioAll of my self-published books are featured on my website: crowbird52.wix.com with links to the purchasing sites. Both paperback and Kindle formats are available.

My spouse is an also an author, and I must credit him and several writers gatherings in the Sacramento, California area for allowing me to accompany him to their meetings, getting me involved in “free writes,” and continuing to encourage me in my literary workouts which, as most of my fellow authors know, can be as strenuous as doing something similar at the local gym…if not more so!

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Boys-On-Purpose-CoverBoys On Purpose: Poetry, Prose and Stories with Decidedly Gay Overtones: A collection of poems, prose and stories with decidedly gay overtones and a nostalgic bent.

Boys growing up in the United States during the 1950’s and 60’s has little, if any, information about being “different.” There was literally no one to turn to for advice or encouragement. If anything, the dictates of the culture and societal pressures made them feel insecure and outcast.

In this first-published collection, Sacramento-based writer Rodion Rebenyar has complied a variety of poems (written specifically for and with those who don’t normally like to read poetry in mind), prose and stories which highlight one boy’s journey through this turbulent decade. It is a time of discovery, terror and ultimate victory over body, mind and soul.

Mature readers will relate to much of what is discusse here. It will make them laugh, cry, relfect and perhaps feel uncomfortable at times.

Younger readers may gain insights from this collection and come to the conclusion that growing up gay in the United States hasn’t changed that much in half a century.

The collection is illustrated with many magazine covers and ad copy of the era, plus a series of classic cartoons by artist Richard Steen (all of which seem tame by today’s standards, but which were highly controversial at the time they were published in male model and physique magazines).

Buy Link: Amazon

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Choices-We-Made-final-frontThe Choices We Made: A novel about true friendship overshadowed by the choices, both good and bad, made by several young gay men during an eight year period encompassing the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.

You’ll be seduced by Damian’s sophisticated charm, won over by Jeremy’s good looks and debonair “Southern fried” style, fascinated by Tim’s weird and kinky proclivities, struck by Tony’s undying devotion, confounded by the stark contrast of Kofi’s willingness to serve and comfort to Carlos’s passion for domination and control, confused by the strange duplicity of the ostensibly straight guy Marcus, cringe at the ins and outs of being a roommate with Keith and Ernie, not to mention being amused by the narrator’s self-styled “den of iniquity,” admiring his often wise and frequently zany parents, laughing at his campy sidekick Randall, marveling at the effervescent Uncle Frank as well as a host of others from various stations in life.

The author reflects the tastes, attitudes and styles of the times, in addition to highlighting several significant events which made headlines for the gay community, both in positive and negative ways (the Anita Bryant controversy, religious and moral intolerence, AIDS, urban challenges, fashions and fads — just to name a few).

The reader will come away with understanding and sympathy reflected in the experiences of true-life characters in a world which existed not that long ago and is worth recalling with pride, affirmation and dignity.

We truly have come a long way in THE CHOICES WE MADE!

Buy Link: Amazon

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4.5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, K.C. Wells, Reviewed by Sammy

Review: First by K.C. Wells

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: First

Author: K.C. Wells

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 296 Pages

At a Glance: In spite of some flaws, this was a gorgeously written love story.

Blurb: It’s taken Tommy Newsome a while to get his head around being gay. Growing up in a small town in Georgia, hasn’t prepared him for the more liberal life of a student at the university in Athens. Add to that the teachings of his parents and his church, and you have one shy young man who feels out of his depth. Working on his daddy’s farm hasn’t given him any chance of a social life, certainly not one like the clubs of Atlanta have on offer. Not that Tommy feels comfortable when he gets to sample it—Momma’s lectures still ring loudly inside his head.

All that changes when he goes to his first gay bar and sets eyes on Mike Scott.

When Mike’s not behind the bar at Woofs, he’s busy with his life as adult entertainer Scott Masters. Twenty years in the industry and the times, they are a-changing. Mike’s not had much luck in the relationship department, but as his mom is fond of telling him, you keep fishing in the same pond, you’re gonna reel in the same kind of fish. Maybe it’s time for a change.

And then a beautiful young man asks Mike to be his first….

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Review: Tommy was raised in an ultra-conservative farming community where “god-fearing” men and women did not discuss sex, nor did they deviate from the bible subscribed man/woman pairing or even allow impure thoughts to occupy space in their minds. Now, in college, all the worries Tommy has had over the last few years have come home to roost, and for the first time, he is fairly sure he may be gay. Added to that, his roommate is definitely bisexual and a bit of a slut to boot, and is constantly encouraging Tommy to pop his “cherry” and find someone to date.

In short time, Tommy begins to undo all the untruths and close-minded bigotry he has grown up with over the years, beginning with a trip to his very first gay bar. Once there, Tommy finds himself drawn to the older bartender who seems to be the very embodiment of someone Tommy could not only trust but might actually be the one man Tommy could give himself to sexually for the first time. Mike Scott is a weekend bartender at the gay sports bar that Tommy visits every weekend. While he has definitely spotted the handsome young man who sits at the end of the bar nursing his cherry coke, Mike also knows the kid is way too young for him. Besides that, once Tommy got wind of Mike’s real occupation, he would no doubt run far away…just like so many others had done in Mike’s life. However, Mike hasn’t pegged Tommy correctly—he is a determined, if awkward and painfully shy, young man. Tommy knows one thing with great certainty—he wants Mike to be his first and he won’t take no for an answer.

First is an incredibly beautiful coming-out story, featuring a tender first love trope and two gorgeously written leading men. I’m not sure how anyone could read this novel and not fall head over heals in love with both Mike and Tommy. Tommy’s shy and innocent demeanor was so well crafted that he made even the hardest of hearts melt in his wake, and no doubt readers with any maternal instincts will want to scoop this boy up and keep him safe from harm. Tommy’s journey to self-discovery and sexual awakening was one major story line in this long novel.  The way in which the author kept tightly to Tommy’s journey, making it both realistic and compelling to read, was sheer genius. Such depth and clarity was given to creating both men in this story—making it a real delight to read such well-formed and realistic characters despite how incredibly innocent and unschooled Tommy appeared to be during the bulk of the novel.

Mike Scott’s journey was the second major plot point to this story. Mike was an incredibly conflicted man. Wounded by past failed relationships and growing ever more weary in an industry that seemed to be steadily embracing more and more risky decisions regarding unprotected sex, Mike is at a real crossroad when young Tommy Newsome steps into his life. Every person who Mike had grown to care for outside the porn industry has left him. Either they could not accept his participating in sex with multiple partners, or they balked at the idea of being in a relationship with him after finally discovering he had no intentions of walking away from the job. Either way, Mike had no one to share his life with in a time when he was so desperate to have that kind of intimacy in his life. Not only did Tommy’s age give him pause, the idea that Tommy would run straight for the hills should he find out Mike’s real job was a constant worry for the handsome bartender.

I fear this review is not really doing justice to the subtlety of this author’s expertise at striking the careful balance she achieved when writing such an innocent character as Tommy. It takes a very deft and skilled hand to create such an innocent young man, who is on the cusp of both sexual and mental awakening. On the other hand, it also takes immense patience to not go the easy route and make an older, world traveled porn star into a stereotypically callous and sexually preoccupied character, but that was not the case in this novel. Tommy and Mike were depicted as real men grappling with honest emotions and fears, and who bravely struggle to live their lives on their terms. In short, I was awed by the realism that infused every page of this story.

For a good portion of First, we watch these two cautious men dance around each other, each giving up bits of themselves in a slow building pas de deux that is as mesmerizing as it is beautiful. The tenderness, the romance, the gradual sharing of confidences and the sweet tendrils of growing love between Tommy and Mike create such a delicate bond that is constantly overshadowed by Mike’s secret. It was the fear of that ax falling, that secret being revealed, that also lent a hand at making this a gripping tale.

Unfortunately, there were also two minor plot points that left me a bit confused and ultimately pulled me from this sweet romance, which temporarily left make me a bit uncomfortable with the trajectory the plot took as a result. The first was the idea of “cuddling up” to a porn buddy that was casually tossed into the storyline. Mike seemed to fully embrace this practice despite being in serious relationships both in the past and presently with Tommy. Since the storyline doesn’t put parameters around Mike’s “cuddling,” which I assumed was a euphemism for casual sex or comforting holding and kissing when the need got to be too great, I was led to believe by Mike’s inner musings that he did not consider this cheating. Even though while involved with Tommy Mike does resists actual sex with a former lover, he still kisses and holds the man in bed. Perhaps it’s my narrow view of relationships, but I felt that was crossing a big line from a hug and kiss on the cheek to comforting a friend. Plus, considering Mike was already lying to Tommy about his porn job, it felt doubly wrong and smacked of cheating. I felt Mike was fully aware of how much Tommy trusted him, therefore in any reading of this discussion on cuddling, I felt fairly certain Mike had crossed a line.

The second had to do with the ending—which, given Tommy’s difficult time with accepting Mike’s job and the fact that he lied to him, seemed way too easy a fix. Please don’t get me wrong, this was a gorgeously written love story and despite the age difference, I was fully on board with this partnering and with their genuine love for each other. I simply thought that the same amount of time spent in building this loving dynamic should have also been spent on the rebuilding of trust that needed to take place once Mike’s lying had been revealed. No other place in this novel did I feel that the author was trying to veil some form of ignorance on Tommy’s part as just virginal and relational naïveté. But the ending and Tommy’s quick capitulation after being blindsided by the discovery of Mike’s occupation was just a bit too out of character. Wisely, K.C. Wells created Tommy to be a pragmatic and thinking young man—this too rapid acceptance and reestablishment of a trusting relationship thrust all that into suspect for me.

However, nothing can negate the fact that K.C. Wells has risen to an all new level of storytelling with this latest offering. This author continues to hone her craft and plum depths of excellence in creating outstanding stories time and again.

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You can buy First here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

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4 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, New Adult, Reviewed by Sammy, S.C. Wynne

Review: Hiding Things by S.C. Wynne

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: Hiding Things

Author: S.C. Wynne

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 71 Pages

At a Glance: Hiding Things is one to add to your bookshelf if you are looking for a sweet coming of age story with a lovely happy ever after ending.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: Mason Downing is good at a lot of things, but math isn’t one of them. What he is good at is hiding the fact that he’s a poor kid on a full scholarship at elite Bragson University—though he won’t be there for long if he can’t get his grades up.

Carter Lantor is the embodiment of all that Mason pretends to be: rich, confident, and smart. But when Carter is handpicked to be Mason’s new math tutor, Mason learns that he’s not the only one hiding things. Soon, Carter’s picture-perfect façade begins to crack under the pressure of his father’s expectations and his own unhappiness.

Together, Mason and Carter must teach each other that no matter how much they question their place in the world, their love for one another might be the answer they are looking for.

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Review:   Mason has lost nearly everything: his parents, his emotional support, and now lives a secret life—one where he is not a poor orphan, financially strapped, with only his scholarship keeping him at the prestigious private university. Instead, he pretends to be one of the majority—wealthy, unencumbered and “good enough” to breathe the same air as those that surround him at school. Unfortunately, math would be his undoing, as he finds himself in need of a tutor but with no way to pay for it. Now he must take on the burden of a part time job while still maintaining his taxing academic schedule. Determined not to let others know of his humble status, he keeps to himself and quietly hopes no one will recognize him as he drives the shuttle on campus. However, his first night brings with it an encounter that will ultimately be his undoing and, at the same time, his redemption.

Carter lives behind his camera. With a burning desire to become a famous photographer one day, Carter wants nothing more than to be free to pursue his dreams and his art. However, between his being gay and his chosen field of study, his father is threatening to cut him off. Carter freely acknowledges that he enjoys the money he comes from, but he simply cannot envision his life as the heir apparent to a firm his father has lovingly nurtured. With his mother encouraging him not to make waves, Carter realizes his parents may never accept him and that he may indeed lose everything he is accustomed to having. When he meets the shy yet intriguing student he is to tutor in precalc, he feels things he never thought possible. But can the two young men open up and trust each other with their secrets?

S.C. Wynne writes a short story that immediately captures the imagination and presents two characters who both yearn for the same thing–acceptance. While the story develops rapidly, there is real depth to both Carter and Mason. This story could have devolved into a “poor rich boy meets mousy poor boy” so very quickly, and yet, this author smartly saves it from becoming so by making Carter and Mason so very down to earth and real. Carter admits he loves the wealth that allows him to do the things he want—he acknowledges that it would be more than difficult to give it all up to pursue his dream career. Because of this, you develop great compassion for him and see him as much more than the shallow façade that kind of wealth can produce. He stands up for himself and for his feeling towards Mason, and, in doing so, utterly captures the reader’s heart.

Mason’s fears that he will be viewed as being beneath those he attends school with stems from a real place of fear of failure. He allows himself to believe that he is less than his fellow classmates, and it colors everything he does. Trusting Carter does not come easy for him, and we experience his struggle with believing that someone obviously out of his league could truly care for him.

While there were a few glitches in this story—minor things like Mason being on his knees one moment and then being able to kiss Carter the next without transitioning to his feet, and other awkward movement issues like that within the story, it was still a sweet college romance that was well done in many ways.

Overall, Hiding Things is one to add to your bookshelf if you are looking for a sweet coming of age story with a lovely happy ever after ending.

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You can buy Hiding Things here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

All Romance eBooks

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Giveaways, J.C. Lillis

Flashback Friday: Excerpt and Giveaway – How to Repair a Mechanical Heart by J.C. Lillis

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I’m chuffed to bits to have author J.C. Lillis with us today to help celebrate the release of How to Repair a Mechanical Heart in print.

I first read this book back in November of 2012 and fell instantly in love with Brandon, Abel, and all the wacky and wonderful characters who populate this delightful story about coming out, accepting yourself, and then falling in love with your best friend. All set alongside the Castaway Planet shipping fandom.

J.C. has brought you an excerpt from the book and is also giving the chance for one lucky reader to win a copy of it – In PRINT to a US resident OR in E-BOOK to an International winner. You can enter the contest by clicking on the Rafflecopter widget below.

Good luck!

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HtRaMHBlurb: The summer after high school graduation, two cute and snarky boys hit the road in an RV. Their mission: follow the traveling fan convention for Castaway Planet, the cult sci-fi show they’re both obsessed with. BRANDON irons his t-shirts, loves the dapper and reserved Castaway android Sim, and hides his pesky Catholic guilt from his out-and-proud roadtrip partner, Abel. ABEL collects funny belt buckles, loves Castaway‘s brave and dashing Captain Cadmus, has a hot boyfriend with a phoenix tattoo, and has nothing to hide—except his epic crush on Brandon. During their six-week cross-country adventure, Brandon and Abel post new entries on their Castaway Planet fan vlog, spar with an online community of slash fiction writers, meet their TV idols, play with their action figures, uncover big secrets, and maybe possibly fall in love. Can two fanboys face down their obstacles and write themselves a real-life romance—or is fiction the only thing bringing them together?

Available At: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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Excerpt: Here’s a peek at Brandon & Abel’s first vlog post of the trip; they’re recording in Abel’s kitchen just before they take off. I picked this scene because a.) it sets up the whole road trip, b.) it’s a nice intro to their dynamic, and c.) it is SUPER geeky, so if you tolerate/appreciate this level of geek, it’s a pretty sure sign you’ll enjoy the rest of the book. (WARNING: It might make you hungry for Cookie Crisp.)

~J.C. Lillis

******

“You ready, partner?” he says.

“We’re unveiling now?”

“We have to. The girls’ve been trolling us all morning. Wait’ll you see.”

Abel and I hunch in front of his laptop at the glass kitchen table, next to a stack of cruddy glasses and plates I very much want to scrub. He’s crunching Cookie Crisp from a china bowl that probably cost more than my car. His limited-edition Plastic Cadmus grips the pocket of Abel’s robe with his super-ripped hero arms and I side-eye him; even three inches tall, Cadmus is a smug bastard. No one’s home besides us, as usual. Abel’s dad’s at Mercy fitting someone with a new heart, his mom and little sister are in Boston on their book tour, and his brother Jacob’s at some school in New York for musical geniuses with bad attitudes.

“Don’t worry. You look lovely.” Abel slides on his shades with the red steel frames, an exact replica of Cadmus’s. “You’ve got that cute all-American khakis-and-flip-flops thing going on. You’re like Volleyball Ken.”

I sip my water. “Now with Eye-Rolling Action.”

“Do I have sex hair?”

“Ew.”

“Brandon, seriously. Wait’ll you meet Kade. Best five days of my life!”

“Please spare every detail.”

“Cynicism gives you blackheads. Studies show.”

I tip my chin at the laptop. “Let’s go.”

He grins and hits record.

Bonjour, fellow Casties.” He musses his hair and turns on his best news-anchor purr. “It’s your two favorite recappers, coming at you live from my kitchen on May the twenty-ninth, a day that will forever live in infamy. Say hello to my distinguished fellow commentator, Brandon—”

“Hi guys.”

“—currently obscuring his cute little abs with the baggiest Castaway Planet t-shirt in recorded history.”

“It’s comfy.”

“What are you hiding under there?”

“Secrets. Many secrets.”

Abel rips off his shades and cocks an eyebrow. I let out a snort. I picture a handful of strangers watching this at home, thinking my secret is cool and mysterious like a jagged scar across my chest, and not dull and heavy like I gave up church but not the angst.

“Anyway, guys.” Abel pops one last Cookie Crisp. “Today we unveil that Super-Secret Summer Spectacular we’ve been teasing y’all about, ‘cause we know how our fifteen fans like, follow our every move and have shrines and shit.”

“My shrines are bigger.” I grin.

“Whatever. Here’s the deal. You real fans who come here and watch our episode recaps every week are A-plus, right, ‘cause you love Castaway Planet as much as we do and you’ve got more than ten brain cells to your name. But as we all know, there’s one faction of the fandom…”

“One very vocal faction.”

“…that is, and we say this with love, STONE COLD CRACKERS WITH A SIDE ORDER OF CRAZY FRIES. I am referring, of course, to—”

He plunks Plastic Cadmus in front of the camera. I do the same with Plastic Sim.

Cadsim shippers.”

I perform a cartoony shudder.

“Guys, I don’t know if you’re following our ginormous flamewar with Miss Maxima and her minions at the Cadsim fanjournal.” Abel sighs. “The slash fiction was bad enough, but these rejects have been calling it canon since the crystal-spider-cave episode, and that we cannot abide. Look, maybe it’s semi-tempting to think they had secret sexytimes when they’re stuck in the cave and there’s that ‘meaningful look’ and the fadeout, but people? Captain James P. Cadmus is a blazing hot male specimen who can kill a sixty-pound alien spider with his bare hands, and Sim is a freakin’-damn ANDROID—”

“Who’s way too good for Cadmus.”

“That statement is too ludicrous to acknowledge,” Abel huffs, petting Plastic Cadmus’s plastic head. “Anyway, our feud with the crazypants Cadsim girls? Officially ends this summer. We at the Screw Your Sensors vlog have made a wager. Hold up the CastieCon tickets, Bran.”

I fan them out. Abel explains the bet, which basically goes like this: we hit the six tour stops the Castaway Planet convention makes this summer, go to the Q&As with all five main cast members plus the showrunner, and ask them what they think Cadmus and Sim did in the cave scene after the fadeout. If a majority of them agree that no hookup happened, the Cadsim girls have to run an all-caps disclaimer on every one of their fanfics, forever.

“Brandon, tell them what it says.” Abel slides me a printout.

“PLEASE NOTE: A legitimate Cadsim hookup has been definitively disproven by the cast and creator of Castaway Planet, as well as professional Internet gods Brandon Page and Abel McNaughton. I freely admit I am a dingbat with zero respect for canon or for Cadmus or Sim as characters; I just want to see hot boys get it on. Read at your own risk.”

“That’s right. However, on the extreme off chance we lose? Miss Maxima, the Queen Bitch mod of the Cadsim community, will select a scene from one of their rotten little fanfics and we’ll act it out on camera—”

“—Within. Reason.” Why did I say yes to this?

“Right. Strictly first base, pervs. We’re gay but not for each other.” He scrolls through the Cadsim fic archive on his phone. “For instance, we won’t do the one where Dr. Lagarde plants a ‘sex chip’ in Sim’s brain and he and Cadmus do it in a hammock.”

“For crap’s sake.” I facepalm.

“Nor will we perform the futurefic where they’re back on Earth and get stuck in an elevator during a blackout.”

“Or any other elevator fic.”

“Or hurt/comfort fic.”

“Or alternate-universe steampunk fic.”

“So we better make damn sure we come out on top.”

“Sim likes the top.”

It just shoots out. I feel my ears redden; when I slip and say something flirty, it sounds like an elephant trying to bark.

Abel cracks up and stops the recording right there. He hits upload before I can object.

“On that note, Tin Man,” he says. “I have a little…surprise.”

He reaches in his robe and rummages. My left leg starts jittering. Last time Abel surprised me it was my birthday, and he slipped a special card under my windshield wiper: Sim’s head taped to a cutout of a gym rat in a leopard thong.

This time it’s just a small silver envelope.

“Open it,” he sings.

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J.C. LillisAbout the Author: So about me. I am a veteran of eight tempestuous Internet fandoms, three Catholic schools, and countless crushes on fictional characters. I live in Baltimore with my awesome and patient family and a ragtag band of tropical fish, some of which will probably be dead by the time you read this. I obsess over thrift store art, homemade dollhouses, second-tier 80s sitcoms, koi ponds, retrofuturism, Game of Thrones, Edward Gorey, and peanut butter and banana sandwiches.

My mom still has my first batch of homemade books. I wrote them when I was six or seven, on stapled pieces of construction paper. They were about a family of talking silverware, a gray shoe who lost her mate, and my father’s grim adventures at his office and in “Giantland” (vastly different locales, though in both places he was shouted at by the disembodied head of his boss). I’ve been trying to top the Giantland story ever since. Maybe this will be my year.

Contact me at jclillisbooks AT gmail DOT com with questions/comments/haiku.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

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THE GIVEAWAY

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Audio Book, Giveaways, Perie Wolford, Self-Published

Excerpt and Audiobook Giveaway: Sam Dorsey and Gay Popcorn by Perie Wolford

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We’re so pleased to welcome back author Perie Wolford today, with an excerpt from and giveaway of his latest audiobook release, Sam Dorsey and Gay Popcorn, narrated by Joel Leslie.

Take a look at the little tease he’s sent along, and then click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for the chance to win one of SEVEN copies of the audio.

Good luck!

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Sam DorseyBlurbs: Book 1 – Sam Dorsey and His Sixteen Candles

Sam never liked his birthdays because not a single one of them was happy. When he turned one, he fell face-down into his birthday cake. When he turned five, he broke his left arm When he turned seven, he broke his right arm and his left leg. When he turned 12, his house caught fire. Now Sam is about to turn 16 and he is dreading the day. The only birthday wish he has is for Jake who is the Mr. Popular of Arcadia High to even acknowledge his existence, or better yet give him a happy-birthday kiss.

But Sam knows that it’s not going to happen. Or is it?

Book 2 – Sam Dorsey and His Dirty Dancing

Sam is turning 17 this year and he is being pushed towards adulthood too fast. He has a whole bunch of grown-up problems on his hands now. Like how to make a distant relationship with your boyfriend work? Or how to stop yourself from cheating on your boyfriend with a hot friend who wants to be more than friends? Or how to detach yourself from your parents and follow your dreams independently? But all that is just too much for a 17-year-old to handle. So Sam finds himself gravitating towards Eric, a little daredevil who introduces him to fun things, like stealing, lying, drinking, smoking, and having sex.

But we know that things like that can lead you into trouble. Sam doesn’t know about that though, and he is headed towards a disaster. Somebody is just going to have to show him the right way.

Available At: Audible | Amazon

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Excerpt: The year is 1985. The month is April. The day is Monday.

And also, it is my birthday.

Thankfully, I’m not awake just yet. The bright, obnoxiously cheerful morning light is coming through my window, but I’m still there in my bed snoozing away, peaceful and happy; not yet aware that my least favorite day of the year has settled into existence all around me.

I fell asleep watching Sixteen Candles on VHS last night and, as always, it captured my heart. Now I’m blissfully dreaming about Jake…

Only, it’s not Jake from the movie. It’s Jake from my school, Jake Timbers, and just like his fictional namesake, Jake is a jock, the permanent and unrivaled king of Arcadia High. He has an expensive and totally drool-worthy car, a gigantic horde of friends and followers who warship him, and a majorly sexy girlfriend.

I’m not a fan of hers.

Anyway, Jake is jogging across the school’s Football Stadium, which coincidentally has his name plastered on it due to his father’s “charitable donation” a couple years back. I suspect it was more about appearances than charity, but it provides me a nice viewing angle, so I’m cool with it either way.

Jake is the quarterback, an overrated position in my opinion, but he’s definitely good at it—I’d even heard rumors about him being scouted by universities, practically unheard of considering he’s only a sophomore. He’s not as bulky as the defensive players on the team, but he’s still very muscular, lithe and quick, with perfectly toned throwing arms. During the spring, before the weather gets too hot, he often comes out here to jog and warm up after school. Most of these days I am lurking nearby, doing some warming up of my own if you catch my drift.

Luckily he doesn’t know about that.

Sometimes I wish he did though. It’s hard work keeping my feelings to myself all the time. Not owning up to them just makes me feel like I’m telling the entire world one long and continuous lie, ya know? But that lie is necessary; for more reasons than one.

So yeah…no confessions from me, just admiration from afar.

In this particular dream Jake is wearing those standard tiny red gym shorts; the ones that are incredibly aerodynamic and leave very little to the imagination. I don’t know who the hell invented them and made them standard issue, but that person definitely has my gratitude. He’s also wearing a RunAround T-shirt that is becoming increasingly wet as his workout intensifies.

And soon enough, almost like clockwork, he sheds the shirt and begins to cool his heated body in the morning breeze.

I look on, as I often do (in my dreams and in real life), with multiple forms of envy.

Jake is only 16, like I am. But unlike me, he already has the body of a grown man. I guess he has sports to thank for that, or his parents’ good genes, or both. In any case, those muscles he has on his chest are fantastic. I can’t keep myself from staring at them.

Unfortunately, he notices me noticing.

He is headed my way now and my heart is working overtime. Relax, Sam, relax!

He approaches me.

Suddenly I am frozen. I’m like a statue. A statue with a blitz of meaningless mind babble: What’s wrong with me? God, I’m sweating. Is it noticeable? I think I’m paralyzed. What do I do?!

He smiles at me deviously. Then, unbelievably, he takes my hand and puts it onto his chest!

“What are you doing?” I ask, my voice octaves higher than it should be. I can feel the warmth of his skin under my fingertips. His heart is beating steadily beneath them.

No. This cannot be happening.

“I wanted to feel you on my skin,” he says, confident, not at all shy. He’s not angry or ashamed, just smoldering.

“Don’t you like it?” he stares up at me with twinkling blue eyes. The kind you—well I—can’t help but get lost in.

“Yeah,” I breathe out stupidly.

His eyes are locked on mine, a sultry smile playing smoothly across his handsome face.

“Touch me…” he says finally, trailing off in a way that makes my imagination run wild.

“I already am touching you,” I manage to choke out, not willing to acknowledge the sexy notes in his voice, but still hoping they ring true.

“No,” he whispers with a crooked smile. “Touch me there…”

He takes my hand and lowers it right down his torso, my fingertips barely brushing against slick washboard abs until…Oh Lord! That is too much.

No… No… Ahhhh!

***

“Sam! Get up! You’ll be late for school!”

And just like that reality comes crashing down around me like an eighteen-wheeler.

“Coming Mom!” I shout, trying to shake the memory of skin against skin.

Tentatively, I reach down into my shorts and yep, there’s all the evidence right there—a lot of it too. Ya know, I totally get that a wet dream is perfectly normal and everything, but that doesn’t make it any less awkward, especially factoring in the subject of said wet dream. Sighing and feeling completely less than stellar, I close my eyes, partly ashamed of my fantasy and overall infatuation with Jake Timbers and equally ashamed of my shame. Like, why does everything have to be so weird and messed up and complicated? Why can’t I just feel what I feel and be done with it?

It takes me a couple of minutes to brace myself and get up from the bed. For one thing, there’s an unfortunate amount of sticky goo in my pants that I have to go take care of. And also, I’m not looking forward to today at all. A happy birthday? Not likely.

I reach down into the drawer of my desk and take out a hidden stack of photos. No, it’s not porn! I don’t keep my porn in the drawers. Even I’m not that lame. It’s my own personal collection of ghosts from birthdays past. I keep them here as a reminder of all those truly gag-worthy moments; lest I forget and try to actually enjoy my birthday.

My birthdays have never been happy. Exhibit A: Here is a photo of me when I turned one. I’m such a cute little blue-eyed baby you say? Wrong! The next thing you know that cute baby-boy is gonna fall face-down into his cheerfully-colored birthday cake. Exhibit B: a photo of me turning five. I look so radiant and happy on my new bike you say? Wrong again! Don’t be fooled. There I am a couple hours later with a cast on my left arm. Exhibit C: here is the one where I turned seven with a cast on both my arm and my leg. I don’t even remember how that happened; that’s how used to these experiences I am. But what really takes the cake (pun intended) is the day I turned twelve. My house totally went up in flames, but alas, there’s no picture for that, just one very sad news-clipping.

Most times it doesn’t really bother me. Over the years I’ve just slowly come to the conclusion that this particular day of the year is cursed for me; like my very own personal Friday the 13th. Usually I can just hunker down and make it through the worst of it. But now I am turning sixteen, a relatively “important” number, and I just can’t shake the feeling that something is about to go horribly, wretchedly wrong.

***

Dressed now, casually as usual in my Run DMC T-shirt and jeans, I make my way downstairs, following the smell of the freshly-cooked pancakes. Ron and Julia, my younger siblings, are perched at the table and shoveling food into their mouths. Dad has already left for work, thank God. Not that I don’t like my old man or anything. It’s just that there’s one less person at the table to wish me happy birthday. Which is definitely a good thing, believe me. My evil birthday gremlins can smell well-wishes from a mile away.

“Well, look who finally decided to show up,” Ron says, glancing up from his plate. He’s twelve now and totally in need of a major chill pill. He doesn’t have a respectful bone in his body.

“Don’t talk to him like that, you dipstick,” Julia says, defending me in her own weirdly inappropriate way. “It’s his birthday!”

“Oh yeah? And what he was doing upstairs so long, giving himself a birthday present?” Ron snaps.

“Shut your mouth you dweeb-o-rama!” she counters and smacks his forehead with her spoon.

“Make me!” Ron lifts up his spoon eagerly, ready to retaliate.

“I will, believe me,” Julia replies, deadly calm.

“Come on, I’m ready for it!”

“That’s enough! Ron, you be nice!” my mother finally snaps at him, effectively shutting down the argument. Must be some super-secret Mom power or something.

“Okay, okay, keep your wig on,” Ron says, getting up to place his plate in the sink. “It is his birthday. I better keep myself away. I wouldn’t want to get my hair set on fire or anything.”

I cringe. Eleven; I’d almost forgotten about that one since it didn’t directly happen to me. That year my birthday candles had effectively turned a six year old Ron into a human torch. Needless to say, there are no longer any candles on my birthday cakes, and now there’s a fire extinguisher in our house. Two actually.

I sit down at the table and wait for the bombs to start dropping. Julia is not much of a threat. She’s not gonna wish me a happy birthday since she knows good and well that I don’t like it, but my mom doesn’t believe in the curse. My muscles tense up in preparation.

It’s already starting. I watch in horror as she abandons her pan on the stove, and approaches me, planting her standard “birthday kiss” on my forehead. The next thing you know the words are gonna leave her mouth… happy

I brace myself, but suddenly the phone starts ringing, cutting her off midsentence. Thank the sweet lord!

She goes to pick it up, her mane of feathered blonde hair trailing several inches behind her.  “Hello?” she answers.

It’s Uncle Jack calling, I’m sure. Their entire family of seven is gonna be moving into one of the houses on our street today. They’ve been talking about it forever, but I never actually thought they would go through with it. The thought of having so many relatives in close proximity is infinitely nauseating to me, but I guess there’s really not much I can do about it. I’m still gonna be coerced into celebrating with everyone tonight—even my grandparents are coming.

And of course they’re all too damn loving and thoughtful to completely forget my birthday even exists.

Immediately I start stuffing my face with pancakes in hopes that I’ll be able to avoid any sort of conversation with my uncle. You see, Uncle Jack is a man of very few words, most of those words being rather unpleasant.

Case in point:

“Sam, honey, Uncle Jack is asking if you could help him move the furniture in this afternoon,” my mom tells me still holding the phone to her ear.

I sigh dramatically, of course he is. It’s not like he has five kids of his own to do it or anything.

I nod sullenly and she relays the information to Uncle Jack. I catch Julia’s eye from across the table and she gives me a sympathetic smile that does manage to make me feel a little better.

Chewing fast, I swallow my last bite of pancake and jump up from the table. I manage to pat my sister’s head affectionately and give my mother a quick kiss on the cheek in one fluid motion and then make a beeline for the door.

“Honey?” she shouts after me, but I’m already outside.

“I’ll be late for the bus,” I shout as the door closes.

As soon as I’m in the clear I indulge myself in a small victory smile.

Mission accomplished! She didn’t say it. Now I have to make sure nobody else does either.

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5 Stars, Hayden Thorne, Historical Romance, Queerteen Press, Reviewed by Jennifer, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Young Adult

Review: Ansel of Pryor House by Hayden Thorne

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Title: Ansel of Pryor House

Author: Hayden Thorne

Publisher: Queerteen Press/JMS Books

Pages/Word Count: 116 Pages

At a Glance: Another excellent YA historical fantasy from the author of The Twilight Gods.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: Fifteen-year-old Ansel Tunnicliffe has lived a harsh life. Abandoned by his mother and his siblings to a drunk and abusive father, Ansel knows nothing more than hunger, fear, pain, and loneliness in his short life.

One evening, a wealthy stranger appears, challenges Mr. Tunnicliffe to a game of cards, and easily wins. The prize? Ansel. The terrified boy is whisked away to a remote and mysterious house, whose stern and aristocratic mistress takes Ansel in for a purpose that remains elusive to him.

Little by little, however, Ansel discovers additional secrets in every magical room of Pryor House — secrets that are somehow linked to him and Miss Peveler’s strange interest in his welfare. One of those secrets also turns out to be a young boy who haunts Ansel’s lonely hours and who may very well hold the key to Ansel’s future and the shadowy history of Pryor House.

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Review: Fans of Hayden Thorne’s YA historical fantasy should read this book. Although it’s short, it’s another wonderful tale that focuses on a young man, his harsh life, and the magic that changes it. Though in many ways different, this short novel reminded me of The Twilight Gods in that there is an older, magical benefactress who guides a mistreated young man to meet his destiny. If you’re looking for a romance, this book has some, but not until the very end, which follows along with the author’s style.

Reading this book transported me to another time. Pryor House came to life for me on the pages, and I felt like I was there. And it’s not just any house, but this one is just as much a character as Ansel, Cedric, Miss Peveler, and the other few characters.

And that brings me to my next point. There are very few characters present throughout this book. Not even many background characters, unlike other novels by this author. The focus is on Ansel and his self-discovery with the aid of Miss Peveler and the house. And while there is dialogue, the novel isn’t laden with it. Instead, there are beautiful descriptions which I have found is the standard for Hayden Thorne.

My only issue with the book is that it was too short. I wanted more! The epilogue was excellent because it filled in the gaps I was worried about, and it provided that small touch of romance I hoped for. Seeing Ansel come into himself and move beyond his horrible past was heartwarming.

If you’re looking for a novella with a lot of action, set Ansel of Pryor House aside for a rainy day, but definitely come back to it because you don’t want to miss out. I look forward to more books in this style from the author.

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Giveaways, Heartspell Media, Ines Johnson

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Loyal Steed: Part One (The Pleasure Hound Series) by Ines Johnson

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The Novel Approach welcomes author Ines Johnson today to introduce her newest novel The Loyal Steed: Part One and to talk about Men of Devotion. Ines is also giving the chance for one reader to win an e-copy of the book, so be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for the chance to win.

Good luck!

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Men of Devotion
If you read my books, you may have noticed a theme. Between the covers of many of my stories you’ll find a man of the cloth, who struggles with his feelings for a woman, and ultimately succumbs to the glories of romantic love.

An Old Testament
My fascination with priests began with the television movie, The Thornbirds. Richard Chamberlain in robes -nuff said. It’s not just priests I’m fascinated with. It was an illuminating experience for me watching the Jedi of Star Wars. I even found Yoda hot! And then there was that string of movies about fallen angels where Christopher Walken was a badass angel and Elias Koteas was a former priest. Yummy. But the priest to end all priests? Matthew McConaughey in Contact!

Why am I attracted to priests, monks, angels, and even cone-headed, Buddha-like aliens? Because these men of devotion have a lot of qualities that women look for in their partners. They’re disciplined, full of grace, devoted, and they understand sacrifice.

A Beautiful Mind
Spiritual men are smart. Monks spend their lives studying ancient texts. Priests have to get a degree from college or seminary school, which can take anywhere from four to eight years. Jedi are taken as children, younglings, into the order. Other than Luke Skywalker, we know they spend all of their formative years training in the mental and physical art of the force.

Hopelessly Devoted
Speaking of Skywalkers, Padme didn’t fall for cute and cuddly Anakin. No, she fell for the grown Jedi who began to tug at the rules of his order as he pursued her affections. We all like a rebel, a bad boy, to some degree. The man of cloth might not be the bad boy, but their situation is definitely a naughty and forbidden one. He’s pledged his loyalty and devotion to another: namely god, a goddess, or some higher power.

The Sexy Priest trope is the perfect love triangle. You have the sexy priest, the first leg of the triangle. The priest is devoted to his vows, the second leg of the triangle. And then in walks another set of legs, the heroine. Admit it: we all want to be the chosen one in a love triangle. And if you can emerge the victor over a god-figure…

I already recognize that I’m going to hell. But that’s okay, because that’s where all of the sexy, fallen priests will be!

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91gwceJNgkL._SL1500_Blurb: Jaspir has been in love with Lady Merlyn since they were children, but she has always been out of his reach. Trained as a Pleasure Hound and now surviving by selling his body to rich women, his heart has always remained loyal to his true love.

Liam was promised to Merlyn in their youth, but he’s always known that he’s not the man in her heart. With their betrothal approaching, Liam seeks out Jaspir for help. Eager to ensure the happiness of the woman they both love, Jaspir agrees to train Liam in the pleasure arts.

What starts as rivals in an uneasy truce, soon turns carnal when Merlyn learns of their secret lessons. In a society where men are second class citizens, Merlyn is torn between the attentions of two men who would do anything to rule her heart.

Buy Link: Amazon: The Loyal Steed: Part One | Amazon: The Loyal Steed: Part Two | Amazon: The Loyal Steed: Part Three | Amazon: The Loyal Steed: The Complete Serial

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Excerpt: Lesson One: Jaspir regarded his longtime foe. Set in Liam’s pale face was green eyes with thick lashes, a strong jaw and a mouth with a thin upper lip, but full lower lip. Jaspir had hated this pale face for many years. He blocked out Liam’s face and focused on the man’s lips. As he did with his more unattractive clients, Jaspir pictured Merlyn in his head, narrowing his world to what these lips would do for her.

Jaspir grazed his fingers along the lips before him. They were thinner than his own. His lessons would have to account for that. “Lesson number one,” he said. “The bedroom is the only place where a man can truly rule a woman.”

Jaspir clasped the chin that belonged to the lips, eliciting another gasp.

“You need to take charge,” he said. “Be in control.”

Jaspir’s fingers curled about the neck and the lips parted as he did so.

“Merlyn thinks too much. Her head rules her entire body. If you have control of her head…”

His fingers went into the red hairs at the nape of the neck that belonged to the lips. With a firm tug, the head went back exposing the neck. “…you have control of her.”

Jaspir let his focus extend from the lips to the exposed neck. His tongue struck out and he licked. He felt the body trembling in his grasp.

“Lesson number two, never do what’s expected.” Jaspir bit lightly at the chin. “Merlyn will anticipate your every move. She can’t help it. She remembers the sequence of things. If you are repetitive, you will lose her. Do you understand?”

Jaspir watched as the lips tried to form words, but the trembling thwarted them. In the end, Jaspir was given a nod of acquiescence.

“Good.”

Jaspir focused on the lips once more. He nipped at them. He nipped at the bottom lip, which was plumper than the top. He nipped at the corner, flicking his tongue out. He continued this random pattern as the lips tried to anticipate his next move, each time failing to predict it.

“Lesson three, make her chase you. Once you—”

The lips cut him off. The lips Jaspir had thought so small covered his own and tried to devour him. For unpracticed lips they were warm and wanton. Perhaps Liam could please Merlyn after all. But first, he had to pay attention.

Jaspir used the hand still at the nape of Liam’s neck to yank him away. Liam groaned at the loss, his chest panting, his eyes hooded.

“Are you listening, Liam?”

Liam blinked once, twice. By the third blink, he’d recovered himself and yanked away from Jaspir’s hold, embarrassment clear on his face. “All right,” Liam said. “You’ve made your point.”

“I don’t think I have.”

Liam clenched his jaw.

“Show me what you’ve learned.”

Liam’s eyes whipped to Jaspir’s. Jaspir placed his hands in his lap and waited.

Slowly Liam raised his hands. They grazed Jaspir’s chin. The soft, un-callused fingers reminding Jaspir of a woman’s gentle touch. Before Jaspir could process the softness, Liam’s fingers tangled in his hair and wrenched Jaspir’s head back.

Jaspir barely held back his moan of pleasure. He liked it rough from time to time, but that would not do for Lady Merlyn. “Not that firm. She’s more delicate than I am. Just enough to let her know that you’re in control.”

Liam loosened his grip a fraction. He looked to Jaspir for approval. Jaspir recognized the spark of need in the other male’s eyes. How this man lived ten years under Merlyn’s roof and never stole a single kiss was a true mystery to Jaspir.

“Good,” Jaspir nodded.

The spark in Liam’s eyes ignited into the smallest of flames before he dipped his head and put his mouth to Jaspir’s throat. Liam’s movements were unpracticed and hesitant, but the heat of his mouth sent a message to Jaspir’s dick. Jaspir focused on his breaths instead of the heat climbing across his hips.

There was no way he’d be turned on by this soft-hand, unpracticed, First, virgin.

Liam nibbled at Jaspir’s lip now, his hunger making up for his lack of skill. Jaspir knew desire. He understood wanting something that he thought was off limits to him. Jaspir softened and turned his head into the kiss.

For a moment, Jaspir allowed Liam to claim him. Allowed him to taste that thing that he could never possess. To pretend for just a moment that it could be this way; that they could be together always. That they could live on a land away from society and everything tearing them apart. To live in a small cottage surrounded by impossible flowers of red, purple and green.

The kiss turned brutal as both men fought to stake their claim. Until finally, Jaspir gave a tug of Liam’s hair, pulling them apart. Both men stared at the other, panting, eyes clear, realization dawning that neither held the object of their desire.

“That’ll be all for today’s lessons.”

It took a moment, but finally Liam rose. “When do I—” He stopped and cleared his throat.

“When do I come back for our second appointment?”

Jaspir turned to him, his face a mask of unconcern. “Pick any day you’d like. I’ve cleared my entire schedule just for you.”

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Ines JohnsonAbout the Author: Ines writes books for strong women who suck at love. If you rocked out to the twisted triangle of Jem, Jericha, and Rio as a girl; if you were slayed by vampires with souls alongside Buffy; if you need your scandalous fix from Olivia Pope each week, then you’ll love her books!

Aside from being a writer, professional reader, and teacher, Ines is a very bad Buddhist. She sits in sangha each week, and while others are meditating and getting their zen on, she’s contemplating how to use the teachings to strengthen her plots and character motivations.
Ines lives outside Washington, DC with her two little sidekicks who are growing up way too fast.

Connect With Ines At: Facebook | Twitter | Website

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4 Stars, Hayden Thorne, Queerteen Press, Reviewed by Jennifer, Young Adult

Review: Banshee by Hayden Thorne

Title: Banshee

Author: Hayden Thorne

Publisher: Queerteen Press/JMS Books

Pages/Word Count: 228 Pages

At a Glance: Fantastic narrator and a terrifying ghost that kept me awake at night.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: Nathaniel Wakeman is the only child and son of a modest vicar, who lives in the quiet and idyllic confines of the Isle of Wight. When his maternal grandfather dies, Natty’s mother reconnects with her estranged and wealthy brother and his family in hopes of raising Natty up in the world, to urge him to go beyond the humble life he’s always known.

Though his cousins show no particular regard for him, one of them, at least, lures him away from his retired life and introduces him to the world—and to the son of a baron from Somerset, Miles Lovell. Natty gradually finds himself drawn toward the older and worldlier gentleman and returns to his father’s vicarage a changed young man. He also seems to have attracted the attention of a ghost, one that has followed him back to the island.

Haunted by a woman in white, who seems to appear when he’s at his weakest, Natty struggles with his own nature and with his family’s increasing difficulties. His mother is distant, hiding things from him as she never has, and his father is aging before his eyes. Quarrels between his parents grow more and more frequent, and Natty’s increasing terror of familiar and beloved footpaths add to the spiraling tension at home.

While Natty tries to find his place in the world, his childhood is crumbling around him, and he becomes more and more convinced that his persistent ghost is a harbinger of doom.

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Review: It’s incredibly rare for me to find a book that actually scares me. The traditional horror novels just don’t do it for me. Stephen King? Nope. Read the books that scared my coworkers, and I didn’t even bat an eye and slept just fine at night. In fact, before this book, there was only one other novel that scared me enough to make me want to sleep completely buried under covers with the lights on.

Banshee is not about the traditional Irish banshee most readers may be familiar with, but don’t let that put you off. Hayden Thorne has written a fantastic novel here, with a wonderful narrator, Nathaniel, and a plot that will leave you in suspense until the very last page.

Nathaniel, or Natty, as his family calls him, is a seventeen year old boy living in the nineteenth century. He is slowly awakening to his sexuality after meeting his cousin’s friend, Miles Lovell, a few years his senior. Given the time period, I didn’t have much hope for them to be honest, but the slow dawning of knowledge was a breath of fresh air in a genre that usually has teens falling in love quickly. It takes Natty most of the book to discover who he is and just what it is he wants. And I liked that.

The historical setting is breathtaking. I was there with Natty and his friends as he traversed the footpaths, and whenever the ghost made her appearance, I was breathless with him. My heart pounded, and I felt as if the two of us were running in fear together.

As for the ghost, the description of the spirit and its mannerisms, or lack thereof, was what terrified me so much. It just stands there, watching Natty. To me that’s more terrifying than if it actually moves. Kudos to the author for keeping me up so late at night. I honestly was afraid to look in the dark corners of my room for fear of seeing the spirit pulled from the pages. And I couldn’t sleep with any part of my body hanging off my bed, afraid that I, like Natty, would feel the icy tips of her fingers trailing across her skin.

I highly recommend this book. Even if you’re not a fan of young adult novels, you really should give this one a chance. It’s not your typical YA romance—in fact there’s very little romance to begin with—and it’s just so well written readers of all ages will love it.

Just make sure you read it during the day.

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5 Stars, Hayden Thorne, Queerteen Press, Reviewed by Jennifer, Young Adult

Review: The Twilight Gods by Hayden Thorne

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Title: The Twilight Gods

Author: Hayden Thorne

Publisher: Queerteen Press/JMS Books

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

At a Glance: A beautiful story that absolutely must be read.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: London during the Great Exhibition of 1851 is a new world of technological advances, eye-popping inventions, and glimpses of exotic treasures from the East. For fifteen-year-old Norris Woodhead, it’s a time of spectral figures mingling with London’s daily crowds and an old rectory in a far corner of the English countryside — a great house literally caught in time, where answers to curious little mysteries await him.

Confined by his family’s financial woes, Norris suffers a lonely and unsatisfying time till the day he (and only he) notices “shadow-people” in the streets. Then a strange widow appears, rents a vacant room in the house, and takes him under her wing. She becomes his guardian, slowly revealing those shadows’ secrets, Norris’ connection with them, and the life-altering choices he has to face in the end.

The Twilight Gods is a retelling of the Native American folktale, “The Girl Who Married a Ghost.” Set in Victorian England, it’s an alternative perspective on a gay teen’s coming-out process, with Norris’ journey of self-discovery couched in magical and supernatural terms and imagery.

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Review: I love Victorian literature, and right now I’m actually studying it for a graduate course I am in, so reading this novel by Hayden Thorne featuring that period and including the Great Exhibition was timely. And, I must say this novel is incredibly well researched.

That said I’m not sure how to review this book. I absolutely loved it, and that’s the problem. The book was so good I want to gush and gush for days about it, but at the same time I want other readers to discover how wonderful it is for themselves, because there’s so much wonder and beauty in this young adult novel.

Norris is a sympathetic character. The youngest of four, his family struggles financially. Between his older brother trying to save enough to propose to the girl he loves, to his older sisters squabbling every chance they can get and trying to outdo each other on the marriage market, Norris is often forgotten. In fact, he’s so forgotten he doesn’t even go to school; instead, the family has one of their tenants tutoring Norris with old books that are falling apart. And Norris just wants an education. He wants to learn science so he can properly tinker with things and make them work.

One day he starts to see the shadow-people. I’ll admit I had an idea of what they were at first, and I thought it was brilliant. I become so engaged with the story and with Norris attempting to discover who they were that I stayed up until 4AM to finish. I’m so glad I didn’t have to work the next day. I just couldn’t put the book down.

Mrs. Cavendish is a mysterious character, and I loved her for everything she did for Norris. She takes him under her wing and helps him learn about himself. And then there’s Tom. I loved Tom. The rectory is such a wonderful place; I wish it existed because even today, in the twenty-first century, there are people who need it.

While beautiful, I thought the ending was heartbreaking. The choices Norris must make are difficult, and while perfect for the nineteenth century, sadly they are choices people still feel they must make today. It broke my heart and I sobbed through the last few pages. It was perfectly bittersweet.

I don’t want to say any more, for fear of giving away too much. But I will say this. I will be buying a paperback copy of The Twilight Gods for my classroom and for my personal shelves. I adored it and want my students to read it, too.

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5 Stars, Harmony Ink Press, John Goode, Reviewed by Sammy, Young Adult

Review: Going the Distance by John Goode

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Title: Going the Distance

Author: John Goode

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

Pages/Word Count: 210 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Looking like the perfect all-American boy—tall, handsome, and athletic—makes it easy for Danny Monroe to blend in with the in-crowd of a new high school. It’s a trick he picked up moving with his father from one Marine base to the next. When you aren’t going to be around long, it’s better to give people what they want. And what they want are his quick hands and fast feet on the basketball court. Continue reading

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4 Stars, Jim Provenzano, Literary Fiction, Reviewed by Lisa, Self-Published

Review: Every Time I Think of You & Message of Love by Jim Provenzano

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Title: Every Time I Think of You & Message of Love

Author: Jim Provenzano

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 264 Pages/374 Pages

Rating: 4 Stars Overall

Blurbs: 2012 Lambda Literary Award Winner for Best Gay Romance

After an abrupt encounter in a small woods of Greensburg, Pennsylvania, Reid Conniff, a shy and studious high school distance runner, becomes swept up in the adventurous world of Everett Forrester, a privileged and capricious charmer. Overcoming the distance of their separate schools, parental interference, and a nearly fatal accident, the two young men find a way to be together in spite of their own doubts and fears.

Set in 1979-1980, Every Time I Think of You recalls a halcyon era in America’s past with a personal voice. Continue reading

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4 Stars, Bold Strokes Books, Brian McNamara, Reviewed by Tina, Young Adult

Review: Bottled Up Secret by Brian McNamara

Title: Bottled Up Secret

Author: Brian McNamara

Publisher: Bold Strokes Books

Pages/Word Count: 264 Pages

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb: Brendan Madden is in the midst of his senior year of high school and couldn’t be happier. He has a great group of friends, his pick of colleges, and he has recently come to terms with his sexuality. One night, he meets Mark Galovic, a gorgeous, younger classmate of his. In a matter of minutes, Brendan is hooked. As the friendship between them grows, Brendan reaches his breaking point when he spontaneously confesses his feelings to him. Brendan is shocked and elated to find out that Mark feels the same way about him. The two begin to date, but because Mark is not out, it must remain a secret. As their friends and family become suspicious, openly gay Brendan becomes increasingly frustrated with their discreet relationship, while Mark becomes more and more paranoid that they’re going to be found out. Continue reading

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4 Stars, Geoff Laughton, Harmony Ink Press, Reviewed by Sammy, Young Adult

Review: Under the Stars by Geoff Laughton

Title: Under the Stars

Author: Geoff Laughton

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

Pages/Word Count: 180 Pages

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb: Ethan Tanner is an out and proud, fastidious, and fashionable sixteen-year-old vegetarian who likes theater and musicals. This year, it’s his sister’s turn to pick the vacation destination, so he ends up on a dude ranch he knows he is going to hate. What with the dirt, animals, and germs, he can’t possibly be happy. Continue reading

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4 Stars, Harmony Ink Press, Reviewed by Sammy, Will Parkinson, Young Adult

Review: Wet Paint by Will Parkinson

Title: Wet Paint

Author: Will Parkinson

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

Pages/Word Count: 214 Pages

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb: Transitions: Book Two

Although Addy’s heart and body bear the scars from his life before he was adopted by the Deans, he’s ached for something he thought he would never find. Until he met Benny. He isn’t sure how anyone can care for someone as broken as he is, even though he wants it desperately. Continue reading

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5 Stars, Hayden Thorne, Historical Romance, Queerteen Press, Reviewed by Lisa, Young Adult

Love and Loss and Redemption Weave Their Way Through Hayden Thorne’s “The Glass Minstrel”

“And there the craftsman sat in the deepening shadows of his workshop, ignoring the candles that burned themselves out till he was finally enveloped by the night, his thin figure bent over his worktable and the little minstrel.” — Hayden Thorne


Title: The Glass Minstrel

Author: Hayden Thorne

Publisher: Queerteen Press

Pages/Word Count: 216 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: It is the Christmas season in mid-19th century Bavaria. Two fathers, Abelard Bauer and Andreas Schiffer, are brought together through the tragic deaths of their sons. Bauer, a brilliant toymaker, fashions glass Christmas ornaments, and his latest creation is a minstrel with a secret molded into its features. Continue reading

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Charley Descoteaux, Charli Green, Harmony Ink Press

Guest Post and Giveaway: “First Time For Everything” Anthology With Charli Green

10-1113tm-vector2-3718Hi everyone!

First, I want to thank Lisa for having me back again so soon!

Second, I want to explain that first thing. Charli Green is my YA pseudonym, but the name Charley Descoteaux is probably more familiar around here. Not everyone does it this way, but I’m keeping my YA separate from my ERom. If I’m lucky enough to have readers under 18, they probably don’t need my help to find erotic romance. Charley talks about Charli’s YA on my main blog (FB, etc.), but it doesn’t go the other way—sort of like a heart valve.

Okay, now that that’s taken care of… Continue reading

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4.5 Stars, Harmony Ink Press, M.J. O'Shea, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Sammy, Young Adult

M.J. O’Shea’s “Loveblood” Reminds Us Soul Mates Really Do Exist

Title: Loveblood

Author: M.J. O’Shea

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

Pages/Word Count: 256 Pages

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Blurb: Max Appleton and his mother Celia are on the run, hiding from an abusive father and husband who’s also a notoriously bad pack leader. When Max hit puberty and it became obvious he’d never make an alpha wolf, his father turned the brunt of his anger toward his inferior son and his beta wolf wife for producing him. Max and Celia find sanctuary in a garden cottage at Holly Court, the sprawling estate where Celia’s oldest friend lives with her pack alpha husband, three daughters, and teenaged son Jonah. Continue reading

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Freebie, Perie Wolford, Self-Published

Interview and Free Download: Welcome Perie Wolford

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TNA: Hi, Perie, thanks so much for joining us here at The Novel Approach today. It’s great having you with us. Why don’t we start off by having you tell readers a little bit about yourself?

Perie: Thanks for having me :) Well, not to give out too much, I’m just gonna say that I’m a simple 29-year-old gay guy who is trying to pursue his dreams. Profession-wise I’m a computer science major and also a screenwriter/author with 10 years of writing experience behind my back. Continue reading

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2.5 Stars, Drama, Dreamspinner Press, Jeff Erno, New Adult, Reviewed by Taz

Love Overcomes All Obstacles In Jeff Erno’s “Two Dumb Jocks”

Title: Two Dumb Jocks (Dumb Jock: Book Five)

Author: Jeff Erno

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 210 Pages

Rating: 2.5 Stars

Blurb: Rejected by his family for coming out, Bryan Helverson boards a plane for Tampa, Florida, where he plans to attend college. Brett and Jeff’s family embrace him when he arrives, and his new “brothers,” Adam and Trevor, help him assimilate into the community. Continue reading

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4 Stars, Genre Romance, New Adult, Perie Wolford, Reviewed by Tina, Self-Published, Young Adult

Perie Wolford Dances His Way Through Teenage Romance In “Turning 17 (Turning 16: Book Two)”

“Our reputations weren’t who we really were, they were who people told us we were. Some of us fell into that trap, while others fought their entire lives to break free of them.” ― Nicole Williams


Title: Turning 17

Author: Perie Wolford

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 110 Pages

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb: Sam is turning 17 this year and he is being pushed towards adulthood too fast. He has a whole bunch of grown-up problems on his hands now. Like how to make a distant relationship with your boyfriend work? Or how to stop yourself from cheating on your boyfriend with a hot friend who wants to be more than friends? Or how to disattach yourself from your parents and follow your dreams independently? But all that is just too much for a seventeen-year-old to handle. So Sam finds himself gravitating towards Eric, a little daredevil who introduces him to fun things, like stealing, lying, drinking, smoking, and having sex. Continue reading

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4.5 Stars, Audio Book, Eli Easton, Harmony Ink Press, Reviewed by Kim, Young Adult

Eli Easton’s “Superhero” Gets A Recommend Listen – Narrated by Tristan Wright

Title: Superhero

Author: Eli Easton

Narrator:: Tristan Wright

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 2 Hours, 57 Minutes

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Blurb: It’s not easy for a young gay artist like Jordan Carson to grow up in Jefferson, Wisconsin, where all anyone seems to care about in middle school and high school are the sports teams. But Jordan was lucky. He met Owen Nelson in the second grade, and they’ve been BFFs ever since. Owen is a big, beautiful blond and their school’s champion wrestler. No one messes with Owen, or with anyone close to him, and he bucks popular opinion by keeping Jordan as his wingman even after Jordan comes out at school. Continue reading

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5 Stars, Drama, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Sammy, TJ Klune

TJ Klune’s “John & Jackie” Defines Forever Love

“I have so much love for you… for us… I am overcome with this feeling that just one life will not be enough to give to you… and forever won’t nearly be long enough to spend with you.” – Steve Maraboli


Title: John & Jackie

Author: TJ Klune

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 122 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: John and Jackie first laid eyes on each other when they were twelve years old.

Now, seventy-one years later, Jack prepares to give his beloved husband the ultimate gift. Before he does, they’ll relive five key moments from their younger lives together over the course of a single afternoon. From their first meeting and first kiss to the violence of an abusive father and the heartache of growing up, these moments have defined who they have become. As sunset approaches, John will show the depths of his love for the one man who has made him whole: his Jackie. They’ll soon learn there is no force more powerful than their devotion to one another. Continue reading

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5 Stars, Harmony Ink Press, Johanna Parkhurst, Reviewed by BJ, Young Adult

A Boy Sets Out To Solve A Mystery And Finds Himself In Johanna Parkhurst’s “Every Inferno”

Title: Every Inferno

Author: Johanna Parkhurst

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

Pages/Word Count: 180 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Depressed. Defiant. Possible alcoholic. These are just a few of the terms used to describe fifteen-year-old Jacob Jasper Jones. Lately, though, JJ has a new one to add to the list: detective. He’s been having strange dreams about the fire that killed his parents ten years ago, and he thinks he finally has the clue to catching the arsonist who destroyed his family. Continue reading

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5 Stars, Dan Skinner, New Adult, Reviewed by Tina, Self-Published, Young Adult

Dan Skinner Paints A Perfect Picture With “The Art of the Heart”


“I tried to turn my mind off. Shut down the thoughts that were with me every second. Everything in me ached to be with him. It was worse than an obsession. It was a need.” ― Dan Skinner


Title: The Art of the Heart

Author: Dan Skinner

Publisher: Cerberus Inc.

Pages/Word Count: 61 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: The heartland of America in 1965 feels like the end of the road for seventeen-year-old Zac Weston. After all, there’s nowhere to go when you’re shy, gay, and a virgin. A natural artist, inspiration strikes in the form of neighbor boy Rory, and Zac’s fantasies spill onto the pages of his notebook. When Zac’s secret is discovered, it might take more than wishes to magically make his world right.
Continue reading

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