Giveaways, Rachel Sparks

Guest Post and Giveaway: Give Love a Chance by Rachel Sparks

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Today we’re pleased to welcome author Rachel Sparks to The Novel Approach, on the tour for her new novel Give Love a Chance. Enjoy Rachel’s guest post, then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for the chance to win an e-copy of the book.

Good luck!

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I want to take this opportunity to tell why I wrote Giving Love A Chance.

Two and half years does not seem that long. For me it was a lifetime. Between the ages of 19 and 22, I was in an abusive marriage. I was abused physically, mentally, emotionally and sexually. I was raped and my son was conceived from that rape.

I was not able to tell my story until now. I want people to see and understand abuse from the survivor’s point of view. Yes, I mean survivor; we are not victims. Writing this book became a therapeutic endeavor for me; and part of the healing process was using my name for one of the characters. I hope this book helps people to understand how an abuser works.

As a survivor I can tell you that ignoring the words spoken around me can be a very hard thing to do. The ones that hurt the most are when people say things like “why don’t they leave? They could just walk away…” or “I’d never be in a relationship like that…”  Until someone has been in a relationship that becomes abusive most people do not understand the complexities of it.

As an author I have the unique ability to help people understand the complicated relationship between an abuser and a survivor. I wrote “Giving Love A Chance” to help people understand what the survivor goes through before, during and after the abusive relationship.

That finding the strength to walk away does not mean that the survivor is okay. I wanted my readers to grasp the fact that survivors are much like soldiers or police or firemen or nurses or car accident victims… or anyone that has gone thru traumatic or violent events.

Survivors have triggers. Words, actions, smells, places… they all act as triggers that can cause a flight or fight response. For someone to trust again… to find someone to love… to open themselves up to the possibility of being hurt again takes a giant leap of faith.  They have already been in one relationship where their trust in humanity has been violated. “Giving Love A Chance” tells the story of one man and his struggle to find the faith to trust not only a potential life partner but himself. While every relationship is unique, those that have survived an abusive relationship will find elements that resonate with them. For those survivors… I wanted you to know you are not alone. That somebody understands. I wanted to tell my story.

Please remember as you read this book that a person in a domestic abusive marriage or relationship still loves that person. The abuser gets into the person’s head and they can convince them to do things they normally wouldn’t do. What might seem abnormal to you is normal to them.

If you are in an abusive relationship, you are not alone…there is a way out.

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GLAC2Blurb: The perfect life was just a lie…

John Burrows had a wonderful husband who loved him. The job of his dreams. He had a loving family, loyal friends and adoring fans. His life was everything a man could hope for until it fell apart. Society says it does not happen, that it is all a lie, so John hid the truth from everyone until it was almost too late.

The truth was revealed…

Ben Tensley thought that meeting your soulmate on the most traumatic night of his life was hard. He discovered that watching the man you love try and heal in the middle of chaos was even harder. Ben and John struggle to find solid ground…until John’s nightmare returns.

Will John be strong enough to give love a chance?

This book deals with domestic abuse. I, myself am a survivor of domestic abuse.

Buy Links: Amazon

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Excerpt: John looked down at their hands and then laced his fingers with Ben’s.

Ben placed his hand lightly on John’s check. He stared deeply into John’s eyes. Ben could see the pain no matter how hard John tried to hide it. “Are you going to let me in John?”

John swallowed and licked his lips.

Ben leaned in closer and closer to John. He was so close that John could feel the hot breath against his lips. He closed his eyes as he felt Ben press his mouth firmly, offering no resistance. He let Ben explore the depths of his mouth with his tongue. Ben knew this was more than just a connection. This was what he had been yearning for all these years. John was exactly what he needed.

John put his hands on Ben’s chest and pushed him away. He could feel his heart pounding and hear it in his ears. “Wait… stop… please.”

Ben raised his hands and moved back. “I’m sorry, I thought you…”

John got up and walked over and placed his hands on a nearby table with his head down. He was trying to calm down. He felt fear gripping him.

Ben got up and walked over to the table. “Hey…”

John stood up. “Could you just back up please? I need some breathing room.”

Ben raised his hands and backed up. “I’m sorry.” Ben could have kicked himself. He had taken it too far and he knew it. At this rate he would never have a chance for a relationship with John.

John picked up a bottle of wine and poured himself a glass. He drained the entire glass in a matter of minutes.

“You want me to leave?”

John ignored Ben and filled his glass again, draining it quickly before slamming it on the table. “Hell no! I just need some space dammit!”

Ben walked around the table and took the wine bottle. “Look, I’m not going to stand here watch you drink an entire bottle of wine and cuss me out.”

John tried to reach for his wine bottle. “Then leave!”

Ben wouldn’t let him have the wine bottle. “I am not going to let you start drinking when you feel nervous around me. I’m not going to rape you. You wanted me to stop, and I did.”

John was curling his hands into fists.

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Rachel SparksBIO: Rachel Sparks grew up in South Carolina. With a degree in Early Childhood education and one in social work, she brings those skills to the table to write stories involving current social issues, a sprinkling of romance and powerful story lines.

Social Links: Facebook || Twitter || Amazon Author Page || Goodreads

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THE GIVEAWAY

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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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)
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GRL 2015 Featured Blogger Tour, Rick R. Reed

Guest Post: The Countdown To GayRomLit 2015 with Rick R. Reed

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With only nine more days until the official kick-off of GayRomLit 2015 in San Diego, we’re so pleased to have author Rick R. Reed with us today as our final tour guest. If you’ll be there and have a chance to say hello, do. A more delightful gentleman you’ll never meet.

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Life Imitating Art and “Gender Reveals”

If I just say that the m/m community has been buzzing about a certain “gender reveal,” I think we all will know what I’m talking about even if I avoid mentioning the specifics. I have nothing new to add to that conversation, but a comment one person made on Facebook about it reminded me how my book, HUNGRY FOR LOVE (Dreamspinner Press September 2013) dealt with almost the exact same situation. The Facebook commenter mentioned that he’d already read all about the controversy in HUNGRY FOR LOVE.

Talk about life imitating art!

See, HUNGRY FOR LOVE has a main character that adopts an identity as a woman to write bestselling m/m fiction. When I wrote it, I was thinking of no one in particular (and the fact that the book came out two years ago attests to this), but I thought the similarities were, well…interesting.

Below is an excerpt that better details what I’m talking about. If you want to read the whole story of HUNGRY FOR LOVE, you can buy it by clicking on the links below.

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HungryForLoveFSBLURB: Nate Tippie and Brandon Wilde are gay, single, and both hoping to meet that special man, even though fate has not yet delivered him to their doorstep. Nate’s sister, Hannah, and her kooky best friend, Marilyn, are about to help fate with that task by creating a profile on the gay dating site, OpenHeartOpenMind. The two women are only exploring, but when they need a face and body for the persona they create, they use Nate as the model.

When Brandon comes across the false profile, he falls for the guy he sees online. Keeping up the charade, Hannah begins corresponding with him, posing as Nate. Real complications begin when Brandon wants to meet Nate, but Nate doesn’t even know he’s being used in the online dating ruse. Hannah and Marilyn concoct another story and send Nate out to let the guy down gently. But when Nate and Brandon meet, the two men feel an instant and powerful pull toward each other. Cupid seems to have shot his bow, but how do Nate and Brandon climb out from under a mountain of deceit without letting go of their chance at love?

BUY: Amazon || Dreamspinner Press

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EXCERPT: He had never intended for things to spiral so out of control when he picked the pen name. In another age, when things weren’t so instantly available online, there wouldn’t have been the temptation to connect so personally with readers. But one thing had led to another, and soon Nate had created up an entire life for BF Mann. It had been fun, imagining all the things she was up to and her quirky personality. She had become like a character in one of his novels.

He could have kicked himself for never realizing the stock people might come to put in this woman, this writer whom they adored.

Until this morning….

Pen names were one thing. And Nate still didn’t believe he had done anything wrong by adopting one. Writers had been doing that much since time immemorial.

He realized that what he had done wasn’t so very different from what his sister and Marilyn had done, and it had spiraled out of control in much the same way (although his had much bigger consequences). He understood now what had happened, how an online persona could be fun, how we could create a whole new person to be.

Who among us hasn’t longed to be someone else, if only for a day?

Nate got up. He wasn’t enjoying the warm, balmy breezes, wasn’t able to eat more than a few bites of his sandwich.

He needed to talk to his readers. He trudged back up to the third floor, sat down at his desk, and opened his laptop.

He opened a new blog post and stared at the empty screen. And then he began to type.

Dear Reader,

I am writing just to you, the one who has been hurt by my admission earlier today that BF Mann is not a woman but a gay man. I wanted to apologize, to tell you how deeply I regret letting things get out of hand. I never meant to hurt you. In fact, if I could go back and do things differently, I would. Because I love all of you; I have loved communicating with you, even if I was foolishly hiding behind a mask. 

I hope I haven’t damaged things beyond all repair. And I don’t say that because I am worried about sales, or that you will turn away from my next offering, but because one of the greatest treasures I believe any writer has is his or her connection to a reader. A reader like you. It might be on the page, when together, with my words and your imagination, we build a story. Or it might be on Facebook, exchanging messages and good-natured snark. Authors work in an isolated place, and believe me when I say I treasure my connection to you. I would be inconsolable if I thought my actions had done anything to permanently damage that. 

It started with a pen name, and that was all I ever intended it to be. Like the characters in my books, BF Mann took on a life of her own. She’s a wild woman and got a little out of control. 

I had to rein her in. I had to tell you the truth. I apologize many times over for deceiving you, but malice was never in my heart. Know I never snickered at you or thought you were foolish for believing in my persona. As I said, I treasured that interaction, and it never even crossed my mind that I could be doing you harm. 

I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me. I have many more stories to tell, both personal and the kind you like—juicy gay love stories spiced with the paranormal or a big dose of suspense, all set right here where I do live (honest!), in Seattle. 

For me—and I suspect for you too—it’s always been about the stories and not as much the person behind them. I know I will remember that going forward and hope you will as well. 

I heart you. 

Nate

He hoped the blog wasn’t too much and that it didn’t come off as insincere. He prayed, with all his heart, that his readers, his beloved readers, saw that he was baring his soul along with the real him, and in that act, dreamed of a kind of grace—or at least forgiveness.

He hit “publish.”

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Rick R. ReedBIOGRAPHY: 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.”

Web: http://www.rickrreed.com
Blog: http://rickrreedreality.blogspot.com/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/rickrreedbooks
Twitter: www.twitter.com/rickrreed.
E-mail: jimmyfels@gmail.com

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Brita Addams

Guest Post: The Newbie Blues by Brita Addams

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As I approach my sixth year as a published author, I’ve thought a lot about the things I’ve learned and the growing pains of being a newbie. And yes, I was president of the club.

We all feed from the same trough in the beginning, until we learn to eat from the table of knowledge.

The first draft we think is epic is, six years in, trash. I shudder when I recently read back over those unpublished writings from the early days. I couldn’t write for beans, but I had ideas, stories, and the will to sit down and pound them out, no matter how many technical errors.

Prior to writing, I gorged on 1980s and ’90s romance novels. In attempting to emulate the craft of those authors, I greeted head hopping straight on. Yep, it used to be in style. How enlightening when I met an editor who showed me a better way.

Passive voice, filters, adverbs where there is no need, weak verbs, and the ever present quickly, suddenly, immediately, whiplashy wordy sentences, like this one. The “I started to run,” instead of “I ran,” the endless descriptions of dresses and rooms. Yes, all new writers make the same mistakes. It’s in the DNA of a writer.

Clunky dialogue with the characters names and ridiculous dialogue tags. “That’s right, Joseph. I am fine today, what about you?” Frank inquired. Rinse and repeat with boomed, whispered, demanded, ordered, etc.

Everyone had a POV, including the dog, though I’m pretty sure I never had a dog in any story. The maids, butler, and every town’s person, because we can’t tell a story in less than a dozen or more POVs–otherwise known as omniscient. I will say, I enjoy omniscient and I’m not in favor of changing the style of writing to accommodate some trend, but that ship sailed years ago, so we have to play along.

Part of the Newbie Blues is the idea that we have invented a new way of writing that is so unique, that if we can only get it out there, it will catch on and become a rage. A little research shows that isn’t so and that what might appear new and unique, is unrefined at best.

Now, bad writing has been around forever and proliferates our virtual shelves. If you have a DNF folder on your Kindle, you know what I’m talking about. Why use ten words to say the same thing fifty words can say? My bike was stolen by the neighbor’s son who hid it in his garage and painted it black because he was going through a Goth phase, or so said his mother when my mother confronted her about the stolen bike.

Or – The neighbor’s boy stole my bike.

Passive voice eats brains, of both the reader and the writer. It’s a proven, scientific fact.

The sin isn’t in committing the crimes against the English language. No, it is in doing it repeatedly without a thought to correcting what editor after editor tells us.  Sometimes we hold on to our phrasing because we’ve fallen in love with our words. That is the worst thing an author can do.

And then, we have the dreaded edits. The reckoning, if the book accepted and gets as far as edits. This will happen if the pub sees something in the story.

There are stages of editing acceptance, but as there is in the grieving process, for editing is a grieving process, if we’ve invested ourselves in every word, or if we can’t accept criticism, a necessary evil if we want to become an author.

How many of these steps do you recognize?

  1. I had this story in my head and only I know how to tell it.
  2. They can edit all they want, but I’m going to reject all. No one is going to tell me how to write.
  3. No way. They aren’t going to screw around with my baby.
  4. The editor is trying to edit out my author voice and then the story will be hers.
  5. I concede on commas. Accept all.
  6. WHAT!!!!!?????? No exaggerated punctuation??? How in the world am I going to tell the reader that my hero is screaming!!!??? Or that the heroine is screaming and asking a question at the same time????!!!!
  7. Why are there a hundred and fifty comment bubbles with passive voice written in them?
  8. Dangling modifier. Wow. Dear editor, you must have written that, because I wouldn’t have. Here, let me look. Oh, wow. Forgive the ring. Well, okay, that is a valid point, but the other eight hundred, no way.
  9. TAKE OUT A WHOLE SCENE????!!!!!! No way! I’ll never do it. That means I’d have to rearrange things and, wait, that scene is pivotal to the story. What do you mean it doesn’t relate to the story at all? Sure it does. Well maybe it isn’t important that he bought a new suit, but the reader should know that, because that makes the character more real. Doesn’t it?
  10. What does the editor mean by episodic chapters? Are they all supposed to be about one story? But each character is so unique, never has anyone written more unique characters, and I need to tell all their stories. I don’t know how to weave their stories with the core story and this episode thing is easier.
  11. Present tense, past tense. Tomato, tomatoe. I concede I might not be up on tenses. Accept all.
  12. Eliminate a chapter? Why? No way. I refuse. It does to relate to the story? I promise. You’ll see. What do you mean you read the whole book and you don’t see where a weekend at the beach had anything to do with the hero’s vision quest? I beg to differ. Really, I’m begging. Don’t make me take that out. That brings my word count down by twenty-five hundred words. That’s a whole day’s work.
  13. Write this chapter from the other main character’s POV? Yeah, I guess that would work.
  14. Now here’s something new. Filter words. You’re picking on me. Never heard of them. What do you mean I’ve heard of ALL of them? Look here. He felt his heart beat wildly. Isn’t that a nice sentence? Emotional. Heartfelt. Okay, bad joke. It isn’t a big duh. Don’t say that. Okay, smarty pants, how else should I say it? His heart beat wildly? Well, yeah, that’s more concise. Yes, it does say what I intended.
  15. Oh, damn, that reader hated that I didn’t change that scene, like the editor suggested. Oops. Maybe six POVs wasn’t such a unique idea. What does she mean I shouldn’t give this character a POV? She’s the maid. She has to see things the heroine or hero can’t, so she can bloviate about it to the rest of the staff, out of earshot of the main characters. That’ll take up at least two chapters all told. Yay. Up to 40k.
  16. Oh, that reader liked how the editor had me change that scene. Cool.
  17. This reviewer likes my author voice. Even after all the editor’s changes.
  18. Okay, editor. You didn’t catch this misspelled word. Gotcha!!!!!

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bitmoji295528056About Brita Addams: Brita Addams was born in the wrong century, though she couldn’t live without her air conditioning.

Her travels have taken her all over the world, but she enjoys nothing more than time at home with her husband and family.

Brita’s Tarnished Gold has won a Rainbow Award for best historical and readers in the Goodreads M/M Romance group chose the same book as a finalist for best historical and best book of the year.

On a trip to Hollywood, California, Brita stood in the footprints of some of her favorite actors—Clark Gable, Henry Fonda, Tyrone Power, and many others—at Grauman’s Chinese Theater, and she has even kissed Mickey Rooney.

A bit of trivia—Brita pronounces her name, Bree-ta, and not Brit-a, like the famous water filter.

Readers can find Brita Addams at any of the following places: Website/Blog || Twitter || Facebook || Fan page || Goodreads || Pinterest || Booklikes

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Look for Beloved Unmasked, third book in the Tarnished series, in October, from Dreamspinner Press.

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5 Stars, Genre Romance, Liberty Lace, Reviewed by Lynn, Self-Published

Guest Post and Review: The Secrets of a Twin by Liberty Lace

Author's Spotlight

The Novel Approach is pleased to welcome author Liberty Lace today to talk a bit about taboo storytelling, censorship and breaking the rules. After Liberty’s article, you’ll also find Lynn’s review of The Secrets of a Twin, a book that was banned by Amazon and has since been modified slightly and released under a new title to accommodate Amazon’s content policies. You’ll find links to both this and The Secrets of His Stepbrother there.

And now, here’s Liberty.

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LIBERTY TO READ WHAT YOU LIKE

Good morning, afternoon and evening wherever you are in the world. My name is Liberty Lace, I’m the author of several short stories and novellas dealing with Stepbrothers, Cousins and God-forbid… (yes, it’s time to put your sweet children or your dear old mother to bed, depending on your circumstances)… Twins and Triplets. I’m not the first to take a dip into these dark waters, I’m not the first to take a bite out of this forbidden fruit. Some of my favorite M/M authors have tread where angels fear to go, as have many readers. And the interesting thing is, once you go Twin, you’ll want all the way In! But I’m getting ahead of myself… let me begin again.

My name is Liberty Lace and I like reading and writing fiction that breaks rules. Why? Because I like to see what characters will do when they’re scared or reckless or forced to confront fears that not even society is willing to face. Why? Because I never know what the outcome will be, I never know how those characters will react, and I always wonder how I would respond in such circumstances. Alfred Hitchcock’s films were famous for putting ordinary people in extraordinary situations. I think “twincest” stories are very much akin to this. The story begins. Societal rules are broken. How will the characters react to their feelings and actions? How will the story unfold? It’s intriguing, no?

Certainly I understand that for some readers there’s an “ick” factor. For some readers, taboo means taboo. That’s okay, I’m not here to convert you… not unless your sense of curiosity tells you otherwise. Rest assured, this is all just fiction. It’s escapism. It’s fantasy. It’s a couple of handsome models on the cover of a book. And yet, there is something more. Twincest involves stepping into uncharted territory. It involves taking on a brave new world where angst and obstacles come from a completely new place. It wasn’t so long ago that M/M romance was the pioneer treading into that brave new world. I’m not saying that Twincest and Gay Romance are the same, they’re not. But I do believe they both break ground in terms of creating characters that need to overcome both internal and external fears and doubts, and they both demand MCs that must find the strength within to become who they want to be and love whom they want to love. As one of my characters says in my book Twins Entwined: ‘We don’t get to choose who we love. But what we do get, is the choice to deny ourselves that love… or to love with all our heart and not let anyone stand in the way. Be brave. Fight for your happiness, otherwise everyone ends up with a broken heart.’

That quote comes from the matriarch of a family in crisis when they learn that the adult twins in the family are in love. How will the different members of the family react? Well, in the end, that comes down to their own experiences and struggles with love and life and their own sense of self. That, my friends, is a universal struggle we all face… almost every day of our lives.

It was only recently that I began writing Twincest stories. I self-published them on Amazon. Immediately my sales spiked and I realized there was an insatiable market for this genre. Why? Because fans of this genre are starved for content, because Amazon bans every Twincest title they can… which is exactly what happened to my books the day after they were published. An internet troll (for want of a better term!) found my books and reported them to Amazon, then went on Facebook and bragged about having me kicked off Kindle. Did it hurt? Yes. Did it make me angry? Hell, yes. Did it defeat me? At first it did. I submitted to Amazon’s guidelines and changed two of my stories to meet their demands. I changed twins to stepbrothers. But I didn’t let go of the original stories I’d written. In fact, Amazon’s blanket-rule censorship made me more determined than ever to write within this genre. I started my own store at payhip.com/libertylace knowing that I’d lost all of Amazon’s marketing power, yet at the same time shaking that Goliath off my back with pride and relief. In less than 24 hours on Amazon I saw the demand for this genre. I saw that people loved reading what I loved writing. And it lit a fire in me to write more and more and more, until someday this genre is so popular that Amazon will realize that readers should be allowed to choose what they read for themselves, rather than be told what they can and can’t read by a corporate giant.

My name is Liberty Lace, and I believe that readers should have the liberty to read what they like. I don’t mind at all if you don’t want to read my books… but when it comes to an online company censoring a genre of romance and stopping readers from reading what they choose to read… then yes, I do mind. I mind a lot.

Thank you for reading my post, and thank you to the lovely Lisa for allowing me to post it.

Liberty x

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The Secrets of a TwinTitle: The Secrets of a Twin (Forbidden Glades: Book One)

Author: Liberty Lace

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 47 Pages

At a Glance: This author delivered in more ways than one. I’ll definitely be reading more of her stories.

Reviewed By: Lynn

Blurb: Tristan Rose has never seen eye-to-eye with his twin brother Thaddeus. Growing up together, the pair thrived on being the bane of each other’s existence. Estranged for the past ten years, Tristan and Thad both knew that only a tragedy would reunite them. And so, when news comes of their parents’ deaths in a light plane crash in Bermuda, destiny forces the twins back into each other’s lives.

However, what was supposed to be a brief reunion to bury their parents, becomes a trial that will test their tolerance and willingness to compromise when the twins discover their parents’ last wish is for Tristan and Thad to make peace with each other and live together for the duration of one year in the guesthouse of Forbidden Glades, the family’s plantation mansion deep in the heart of Louisiana.

And while Tristan is initially willing to live in the same house as his twin… discovering Thad’s secrets and long-hidden desires is something that will unravel everything Tristan has ever known, not only about Thad… but about himself.

As the long, hot year begins to unfold, the breeze of the bayous will blow back the Spanish moss like curtains to reveal a love so dangerous, so scandalous, so taboo, it could only belong in Forbidden Glades.

Warning: This Book Contains Consensual and Explicit Sexual Activity between Twin Brothers

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Review: I’ve never read this author before, so I went into this not knowing what to expect. Having said that, I have read twincest before, so I knew what my expectations were. This author delivered in more ways than one. I’ll definitely be reading more of her stories. I know the sub-genre of twincest isn’t for everyone, but if I could recommend a starter book for those who want to get their feet wet, The Secrets of a Twin would be the one I’d pick.

With some backstory of their lives as children, and then continuing into adulthood, we really got a sense of Tristan and Thad’s relationship with one another. I loved how the author was precise and to the point with her words. Every word written had a purpose and moved the story along seamlessly. I really like the way the author handled the scenes in this story. From the flashbacks to the death of the parents to Thad and Tristin coming together, there wasn’t a moment that I felt I was missing something. It was a well-rounded, nicely told story.

The premise itself isn’t new: untimely death of parents bringing estranged siblings together, we’ve read it before. What I think is unique about this story is Thad and Tristan. To me, it just felt like a natural progression these two would take, and I credit the author for giving us that distinction through words and actions. They are likable characters who were a little lost in life. Coming back together for the reading of their parents’ will let them discover what they’ve been missing all along—each other—which was beautiful.

With all that being said, there is a little mystery with Thad. I know we don’t know his whole story, especially with that ending. I’m not going to give any spoilers away, but I think we’re in for a real treat in book two. I can’t wait.

Now, I know some will shy away from reading this because of the twincest and taboo tags, but I would highly recommend this one to start with. Broaden your horizons a little bit, people!

TNA_Signature_Lynn







 

You can buy The Secrets of a Twin here:

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Buy The Secrets of His Stepbrother here:

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Dreamspinner Press, Lissa Kasey

Guest Post: Who Are We Really Writing About and For by Lissa Kasey

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Lissa KaseyTwo weeks ago I saw a link on Facebook to a poll about M/M romance. I clicked it because I read and write the topic, so why not answer the poll? Only it wasn’t really a poll. It was a question. A pretty basic question: What do you want to see more of in M/M romance? What do you want to see less of?

First reply to this from a self-confessed gay man was that he wanted to see less “chicks with dicks” in the genre. Sigh. It’s a comment that has been uttered a million times and never ceases to make me angry. I’m going to call it out for what it is. Homophobia within the gay community. Yes, that’s right. If you feel like men who have some “feminine” traits are an insult to the community, then you are no better than the hate groups. I’ve even heard some authors speak of how this genre has been corrupted by all these feminine men…

I’ve met hundreds of gay men (and women) in my life. Most are more “feminine” than me. Now that’s not saying much ’cause I’m the least feminine woman I know. I’m also asexual, which I think gives me a different view on the whole genre. The sex between two guys thing doesn’t fascinate me as it does a lot of straight women. In fact, within this genre it has gotten really old. How many ways can butt sex be described? A blow job? A hand job? Yeah, I never understood the appeal of any of that.

See, I’m not looking for that hookup. I know a lot of readers came from erotica. They want the sex with two “stereotypical” straight men who just happened to be gay for the story. Not me. Instead, I want the dynamics of the relationship. I’m fascinated by how people just click emotionally. The physical stuff just confuses me, though I’ve had a lot of life to observe.

The men in my stories are a little more swishy, somewhat “feminine.” (I use the quotes because anyone calling someone “feminine” in this day and age is trying to insult someone and that’s just wrong. There is nothing wrong with being a woman. In fact, some of the strongest people I know are women. And being called feminine should be a trait to be admired, not scorned.) I try to represent men I’ve met throughout my life. The LGBTQA spectrum is much broader than alpha male.  Even the more “masculine” men in my stories have “feminine” traits. Like Gabe in the Dominion series who is nurturing, and Kade in Model Citizen who is looking for a relationship, not a quick fuck.

I spoke with a blogger friend this week when talking about this topic, and she said a gay friend of hers said the genre is about women fantasizing about two straight men together, not about two gay men together. I want to challenge that. I know a handful of authors who really do represent the spectrum of more than just manly men. And as a writer, I strive for that myself.

Ollie from Model Citizen is based off of model Stav Strashko in appearance, and hundreds of gay men I’ve met for personality. He’s genderfluid, demisexual, and bleeding from an emotional wound inflicted by the death of his brother. That wound is more important than how he dresses or acts. We all have our struggles. Why does identity have to be one of them? Especially in what is supposed to be our own community. I challenge the readers out there to analyze why it really is that you read the genre. Are you being supportive of real people with real struggles? Or are you just in it for the fantasy sex?

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Model CitizenBlurb: Oliver “Ollie” Petroskovic’s life as an international supermodel was heading in the right direction. He worked part-time for his brother at his detective agency—Petroskovic Haven Investigations—and had just bought his dream house. But all that changed when he found his brother dead, a victim of PTSD-induced suicide.

Almost a year later, Ollie is trying to keep his brother’s business afloat, but can’t get his PI license. Then his brother’s best friend, Kade Alme, shows up, fresh from the battlefield after a close brush with death. Kade is looking for a new life, in more ways than one, and with PI license in hand, he’s exactly what Ollie needs to keep PHI running.

When one of Ollie’s childhood friends gets in trouble, Ollie feels he has to help. Kade insists on investigating if only to keep Ollie safe. Neither realizes the danger they’re in as someone tries to tear them apart before they can find solid ground together.

Dreamspinner Press

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Lissa KaseyBio: Lissa Kasey lives in St. Paul, MN, collects Asian Ball Joint Dolls who look like her characters and has three cats that enjoy waking her up an hour before her alarm every morning and sitting on her lap to help her write. When she’s not writing about boy romance she’s reading about it.

Booklist: Model Citizen (DSP) | Hidden Gem (DSP) | Evolution (DSPP) | On the Right Track (Harmony Ink) Sam Kadence | Unicorns and Rainbow Poop (Harmony Ink) Sam Kadence | Inheritance (Lissa Kasey) | Reclamation (Lissa Kasey)

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Brita Addams

Guest Post: Beneath the Surface – Caitlin Jenner – by Brita Addams

caitlyn-jenner-vanity-fairOn April 24, 2015, I, like millions of people, watched Bruce Jenner’s interview with Diane Sawyer. I’d heard the rumors about his desire to transition to a woman, and I wanted to hear what he had to say, rather than getting the information tabloid style.

Over the years, like all of us, Bruce had aged, no longer the young man who’d won Olympic gold. As he appeared with Diane, he sported longer hair pulled back into a neat ponytail as well as signs of some facial plastic surgery.  As a mature man who’s rarely photographed with a smile on his face, Bruce was composed and introspective, but then, that’s what the interview was about His eyes told the story of inner turmoil and unhappiness.

As he spoke of the years he’d wrestled with the knowledge that he wasn’t the person the world had come to know, my heart broke for him. To think he’d spent sixty-odd years pretending is more than I can fathom.

That night, he put a public face on a situation that exists for many people of all ages, all over the world. While not the first public face, he is the most recent. In the early 1950s, George Jorgensen, a former GI, publicly transitioned to Christine, after years of “being lost between the sexes.”

The following is from biography.com:

In 1950, Jorgensen traveled to Denmark to begin the transformation from man to woman. The treatment, available only in Europe at the time, included hormone therapy and several operations. Her story became public in 1952 while she was still in a Copenhagen hospital, making big news in the United States. Overwhelmed by the attention, Jorgensen had to deal with such headlines as “Bronx ‘Boy’ Is Now a Girl” and “Dear Mum and Dad, Son Wrote, Have Now Become Your Daughter.”

While I’m sure Ms. Jorgensen’s transition created a stir, as Renee Richards’ did in the seventies, I am struck by how little we have advanced as a people in our acceptance of things we might not understand. For some reason, Caitlyn Jenner’s appearance on Vanity Fair has entitled people to discuss their approval or disapproval.

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The other day on Facebook, people reserved the right to make jokes about Caitlyn, because the political correctness had gone too far. In another discussion, a woman went on a rant about how a sixty-five year old man shouldn’t bother with such a frivolous thing, when there were so many other issues in the world. She intimated that at sixty-something, we should be satisfied with our lot and concentrate on more important things.

I argue that there is nothing more important than happiness, whether derived from our work, our play, our partners in life, our children, social service, or being true to who we are inside. The prescription for happiness comes in all forms and neither age, race, gender, nor sexual orientation should exclude anyone. What sanctimonious prig(s) decided that only those whom everyone else understood were entitled to happiness?

603christine-jorgensen9 (1)When did our inability to understand another’s plight become license to degrade that very plight and the person experiencing it? When did mean-spiritedness replace our love for our fellow human beings? When did jokes and titters become a replacement for compassion or even our discomfort at something that we don’t understand? Since when is a prerequisite to someone’s happiness another’s self sacrifice? Don’t each of us crave love and understanding when we are going through a transitional time such as divorce or loss? What special kind of ignorance has crept into the souls of people that they are entertained by the pain of others?

Why should Bruce Jenner NOT become Caitlyn and smile, maybe for the first time, because she is, at last, who she is meant to be?

There is no reason. Not that people won’t understand – her family does and her sons say that they always knew something was missing. Not because there are those people who will make fun – they are the smallest of the small. Not because she is sixty-five and, hell, her life’s almost over, so she might as well live out her days as others might have her do. We all know sixty-five year olds long ago lost the ability to feel, mourn, cry, regret. Isn’t sixty-five years long enough to fulfill the expectations of others, but never once for yourself?

Is the subject uncomfortable? So what? Who says we need to be comfortable with everything so it can exist? A requirement of Caitlyn’s transition isn’t whether the watching world is comfortable or if we understand. Caitlyn’s pain isn’t on the outside for all to see. She’d carried it inside her for as long as her memory serves.

And then, as if the self-appointed critics hadn’t had enough of a field day, a furor erupted when ESPN chose Caitlyn Jenner for this year’s Arthur Ashe Courage Award, meant to honor people “whose contributions transcend sports through courageous action.” Let us not forget that at one time, Bruce Jenner was the world’s greatest athlete.

ESPN’s statement reads in part:

“Sometimes that courage is demonstrated over the course of a lifetime and sometimes it is demonstrated in a single act that shines a light on an important contemporary issue. At all times, there are many worthy candidates.”

“This year, we are proud to honor Caitlyn Jenner embracing her identity and doing so in a public way to help move forward a constructive dialogue about progress and acceptance.”

One argument against the bravery aspect is that true bravery is exhibited by our military, our first responders, families that live hand to mouth because they don’t have the money Caitlyn “has at her fingertips.” “Can’t he focus on something besides himself?”

True bravery comes in all forms, in varying degrees. Caitlyn’s courage doesn’t negate that of the aforementioned, while theirs doesn’t negate Caitlyn’s. Caitlyn Jenner is a beacon for transgendered people across the globe. If one person follows her lead and steps out of the shadows, then that is a step in the right direction.

As human beings, we’re born with an overflowing abundance of compassion and love in our hearts. There’s always room in our hearts for those people whose struggles aren’t our own, just by virtue of the fact that they are struggling.

View the interview with the former Bruce Jenner at either of these links:

YouTube | ABC News

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About Brita Addams: Website/Blog  | Twitter | Facebook | Fan page 
Pinterest | Booklikes | iAuthor | Monthly column at The Novel Approach | Please stay in touch by subscribing to my monthly newsletter | Cold Coffee Café

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K. Piet

Guest Post: RainbowCon 2015

Rainbow Con

Hello, and welcome to The Novel Approach, which has temporarily been taken over by the folks of RainbowCon. If you haven’t heard of us, the Rainbow Conference (aka RainbowCon) is a four-day conference taking place in Tampa, Florida July 16th through 19th this year. Four days of nothing but GLBTQ content geared toward bringing people together over artistic diversity!
 
We’ve expanded our programming since our first conference in 2014, so there’s a lot of new and exciting things happening in just a month. RainbowCon’s first event took a relatively narrow approach, focusing entirely on the wonderful diversity of GLBTQ fiction, from sweet and adventurous YA books to stories on the fringes of the more adult-oriented genres. We had panels spanning the vastness of fiction to take on light and serious topics alike, but there were also workshops for aspiring or established writers and a couple fun events in the evenings. For our 2015 event, fiction is just the tip of the iceburg!
 


Art Courtesy of Guests of Honor Adam DeKraker & Alex Woolfson

 
If you take a look at our schedule online, one of the first things you’ll likely notice is that the topics vary widely. Here are a few sneak peeks!
 

  • Fiction – Yes, it’s true, we still have many panels devoted to fiction. From craft and industry panels to tropes, taboos, genre crossing, and handling criticism. In addition to the wide variety of panels (a couple of which will be making a second appearance from our first con), we have an entire room devoted to workshops throughout the extended weekend. Everything from taking the step from hobby to career to worldbuilding, action, dialogue, or writing awesome bad guys. If you want to add to your skill set as a writer, you’re likely to find a workshop right up your alley.
  • Fandom – Because of the lower representation of QUILTBAG characters in various media, fandom is often where fans of television shows, movies, and/or fiction can find a bit more representation of our diverse community. Whether it’s reading Between the Lines of Sherlock or Queering Middle-Earth with fellow Tolkien fans, there are plenty of opportunities to commiserate with other fans at RainbowCon. Sometimes, it’s not just what was in the original media so much as the ripples it made in the community of fans that makes a character or plot so beloved.
  • Comics – This medium has an amazing impact due to the tantalizing combination of both storytelling and visual elements. Our Guests of Honor for 2015 are Alex Woolfson and Adam DeKraker, the creator and illustrator of The Young Protectors, an online comic surrounding GLBTQ themes and superheroes. The pair will share their knowledge in a few panels. They even made that custom image above for us, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to encourage visibility of GLBTQ content online!
  • Television – From Star Trek to Xena: Warrior Princess to Queer as Folk, there’s no doubt that television has had an incredible impact on the QUILTBAG community, both in terms of visibility and the perpetuating (and sometimes dismantling) of stereotypes. We have a broad spattering of panels that will take a look at the lasting effects of certain television genres as well as specific shows, both past and present.
  • Movies – Come on. Do we really have to tell you that we’re also covering movies? While not all the panels single out individual titles, we’ll hit upon topics such as Why Does the Gay Dude Die First?, the Appeal of the Fairy Tale Retelling, and even a lighthearted discussion of GLBT Movies That Sucked (And Some That Didn’t). A little bit of everything!
  • Other Media – Other arts can certainly play a role in the QUILTBAG community, and RainbowCon wants to celebrate them as well! GLBTQ content on stage (theatre) and in music can completely captivate us. In addition to that, pop culture provides many instances of actors, musicians, and activists becoming icons, some outspoken and others whose lives in the past are still beloved. Whether you’re a fan of Angels in America or know every lyric to RENT‘s “La Vie Boheme”, you’ll have a place here!
  • Education – We’re thrilled to also feature an entire track of panels and workshops aimed at educating con-goers on various topics, from dispelling bisexual myths and understanding genderqueer identity, to coming out and bullying, to queerbaiting and even getting kids reading. There are plenty of opportunities to learn a little something new or share your knowledge with others eager to know more. This part of the programming allows the con not only to be fun but to also make a potential impact.

 
And, if you can believe it, that’s still just a peek! We have activities for those who want to get crafty at the con, we have GLBTQ games available, and even a field trip out to our official charity, the Tampa Bay Big Cat Rescue. We know it’s a lot of content, but we hope that everyone will find something to enjoy at the con. The very best thing about coming down to a con like ours is that, whether you identify within the QUILTBAG spectrum or just enjoy queer content in various media, you’ll be coming to a safe space where you can express yourself, network, and make new friends. These are your people, this your community, and when we all come together, it really can be a once in a lifetime experience.
 


 
To learn more about RainbowCon, visit www.rainbowconference.org or follow along on Facebook or Twitter!
Registration is STILL OPEN!
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Amy Lane, Dreamspinner Press, Fairy Tale/Mythology/Folk Lore

Guest Post: The Immortal Fairy Tale by Amy Lane

Immortal

Blood in the Forest — What I Know of Fairy Tales

When I was a kid, my parents used to ship me off to my grandparents for the summer.  We didn’t have a lot of money—or a lot of space—so I was allowed to bring two books. Books were bad. If I brought books I would spend my time reading and no time interacting with the really boring old people I was staying with. (Some grandparents can be fun and exciting and do things like take their grandchildren camping and horseback riding and shopping. Some of them can be like these grandparents who played solitaire in the backyard for fun.)

So I took two books—I took giant anthologies of children’s stories and fairy tales, and I read the holy crap out of those two giant books.

One summer I brought The Blue Fairy Book and a collection of Norwegian fairy tales, and, again, read the holy crap out of those two giant books.  And I came to believe—like, in my bones believe—the following things:

  • It was not just because I was nine years old and being parented in the 70’s. The world really was that random.
  • Authority was capricious at best and cruel at the worst. It was totally cool to be a treasonous peon if you ended up with a bad prince or a psychotic queen.
  • It was not just my imagination—the cats, the horses, and even the damned plants all knew more than I did.
  • Punishment for being a total douche was just and brutal and could not be escaped.
  • Giants (including giant corporations and giant governments) really don’t have their hearts in their bodies.
  • Sex is everywhere, but it’s never spoken.
  • Women could be brave, resourceful, and vengeful. (It was only Disney who said they had to be rescued by a man.)
  • Men could raise children. They weren’t great at the girl stuff, but their hearts were in the right place.
  • Siblings were both a great trial and a great blessing.
  • If your husband/wife was a complete and total psychopath, it was totally cool to kill him/her and get the hell out of dodge with the scullery maid/stable boy.
  • There were three elements of all magic: touch, blood, and song.
  • Love the ugly and unattractive, because they could give you some kickass wedding gifts when the time came, or completely fuck you up if you messed with them.
  • Stepmothers and fairy godparents were a total crapshoot. Yeah, sometimes the stepmothers could be evil… but there was always that one in the obscure story in the middle who was on your side.  And the reverse goes with fairy godparents—remember, Maleficent was Aurora Dawn’s least favorite aunt.
  • Just because you got dumped into a pit with spiders and asps did not mean you were dead. Suck it up and keep going.

And, my favorite…

  • Ones own children were always the prettiest.

So, there you go. All of that beautiful passion, drilled into my head at a young impressionable age.  It was like… the key to the universe right there. Everything I wanted to know about the world, in a couple of jam-packed books!

“Ah,” but you’re thinking, “children grow up and then they learn that fairy tales aren’t for grownups at all!”

Uhm, no, actually.  Then I grew up and took a boatload of classes in literature and storytelling and how the history of the language evolved and the history of the stories we tell reflects the deeper currents of the world.  And I learned some pretty good shit.

So, did you know that…

In 1066, before the Norman invasion of England, the population of Great Britain was largely Celtic, Gaelic, or Saxon—and all of these cultures have some deeply pagan roots. In 1066, the country was taken over by the Normans, who did what conquerors do and made all of the conquer-ees into their lower classes.  So suddenly the women and men who had owned a great deal of property and had been born into prosperous families saw their property gifted to the Norman nobles (who didn’t stay around to rule and left unscrupulous men in charge) and saw their own families reduced to herding swine and tending the rich peoples’ children.

They were… disgruntled, to say the least.

And they had their stories, their legends of the old gods, the forest gods who both gave life and destroyed it, the great and terrible gods who meted out justice and hid in the smallest of natural things—the egg of a duck, three drops of blood, or a flower.

And the women, in particular, cut off from their families, forbidden by propriety to so much as speak out, were often put in the position of entertaining bored or fractious children.  So they told their old stories, the ones with the fearsome gods and the brutal justice.  But they didn’t want to frighten the children—that would be cruel—so the stories twisted, became subversive and coded.  Sex was cloaked in flowers blooming under a bed, or a kiss between a prince and a sleeping princess.  Treason was disguised as the stories of heroes overthrowing a wicked king with the help of a magic instrument that knew right from wrong. Sedition seeped out in stories of greedy giants who had no hearts, or in stolen harps that would give a kingdom back its glory.

The children just knew good stories when they heard them.

It’s almost like a good horror movie, isn’t it? The kind with the creepy innocent children’s voices, singing songs that are steeped in blood?  Those are the fairy tales I read as a child. Those are the voices that sing in my head when I think of the secret fairy tales, the ones that nobody has ever heard of, like Felicia and the Pot of Pinks, The Little Goose-Girl and The Giant Who Had No Heart in His Body. 

And as for the other fairy tales, the ones with slightly different origins? Oh, I see them in the same subverted, innocently bloody way.

Beauty and the Beast came out from Disney?  That’s great—which version, I’d read four of them by the time it debuted.  The one where Belle’s spoiled sisters try to kill their father in revenge for their poverty is my favorite.

The Little Mermaid?  That’s awesome—but I bet it didn’t have the real ending, the Hans Christian Anderson ending, where the mermaid gave up her voice and her family and her home for a man who did not love her, but she could have it all back if she killed the prince and threw his heart into the ocean.

Hey, kids, do you want to hear the story of Gawain and the Green Knight—the one where the people of King Arthur’s court are kicking the Green Knight’s head like a soccer ball after it gets cut off at a Christmas feast?  Do you want to know where he came from? About the real green man who devoured human offerings to bring the world back from the dead, year after year?

Let’s sing in ethereal voices about Bluebeard and his murdered wives, or the little white cat who got her head cut off to become a princess.  How much sweet-toned blood was spilled when they nailed the head of the Goose-Girl’s horse to the archway above the king’s garden? What happened to the women, grasping above their station, who got caught reaching above those with good and pure and heart? How grisly was their demise?

Oh yes—I grew up on fairy tales, and they affected me deeply.  I don’t write about rainbows and flowers, giggles and daisies, paths strewn with rose petals and happy endings within the hero’s grasp.

I grew up on fairy tales—be prepared to fight for that lover, against forces you don’t understand. Be prepared to sacrifice and to bleed, and to have random acts of magic and the brutal justice of the gods meted out before you are ready for the battle. Know that the magic weapon is drawn, the sacrifice wines have been spilled, and the tree of life is barbed and will as soon slice your throat as give you sustenance.

I grew up on fairy tales.  I dream of bloody trees and sex under the cover of darkness and the death knell of innocence in a child’s laugh.

These are the stories I devoured with pointed teeth in the cave of my room as a child. Just imagine the rare and dripping stories I can serve as an adult, who has learned what great and terrible magics are locked away in our own hearts.

Are you ready to grow up and read fairy tales?

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Blurb: When Teyth was but a child, a cruel prince took over his village, building a great granite tower to rule over the folk. Greedy and capricious, the man will be the bane of Teyth’s existence as an adult, but as a boy, Teyth is too busy escaping his stepfather to worry about his ruler.

Sold into apprenticeship to the local blacksmith, Teyth finds that what was meant as a punishment is actually his salvation. Cairsten, the smith, and Diarmuid, his adopted son, are kind, and the smithy is the prosperous heart of a thriving village. As Teyth grows in the craft of metalwork, he also grows in love for Diarmuid, the gentle, clever young man who introduces him to smithing.

Their prince wants Diarmuid too. As the tyrant inflicts loss upon loss on Teyth and Diarmuid, Teyth’s passion for his craft twists into obsession. By the time Teyth resurfaces from his quest to create immortality, he’s nearly lost the love that makes being human worth the pain. Teyth was born to sculpt his emotion into metal, and Diarmuid was born to lead. Together, can they keep their village safe and sustain the love that will make them immortal?

Buy Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | All Romance eBooks

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Amy LaneAbout the Author: I am creative, distracted, and terribly weird. I love my children to distraction, and I love my hobbies even when they piss me off. I come from a double line of extremely creative, intelligent people who hated authority so much they dodged higher education, and I married a wonderful man who is quiet, conservative, devestatingly funny, and perfect. Our children are constant reminders that God and Goddess have a profound sense of humor, and that all of the things you dislike most about yourself but pretend don’t exist really do come back on the karmic wheel to kick your ass when you least expect it. My family keeps me young and humble and I try every day to make them proud. I’ve written a LOT of books–I can’t even count anymore, most of them for Dreamspinner Press and Riptide Press, but some of them published on my own. I write to placate the voices in my head, profanity is the element I swim in, and knitting socks at stoplights has become my twitch.

Connect with Amy at: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter

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Brita Addams

Guest Post: Antagonyms, Contronyms, and Campus Slang by Brita Addams

images (3)Antagonym is a word invented by Charles Ellis in 1999. Richard Lederer had coined contronyms in in his 1989 book, Crazy English, both words refer a single word with meanings that contradict each other.

Each generation wants to make its mark on the world and one way of doing that is with words. When I was a teenager, to be “kicky” meant you were the bomb (a word that came much later,) the best, the…well you get the idea. I practiced my kickiness in the mirror each day before school, but somehow, someone else had a better handle on it than me. I gave up in my junior year and settled into a much more studious finish to my high school years. (No, not career. High school and college are education, in preparation for a career, unless you spend more than the requisite time allotted toiling away at ye olde alma mater.)

Along with the mark generations make on government, education, and society come words, expressions, or slogans that become a part of our modern lexicon. One of my more recent favorites (not) is “That’s so Rufus,” from the 1999 movie, Never Been Kissed. The Urban Dictionary picked it up – “A word meaning ‘cool’ and ‘awesome’ created by the character ‘Guy’ in the movie Never Been Kissed.” Note the two words used to define rufus. I had a boss named Rufus once. Neither cool nor awesome, unless you refer to the true meaning of awesome – struck fear—then yeah, awesome to the max.

I confess to loving and watching the rufus final scene in Never Been Kissed some twenty or thirty times, but I digress.

Here are a few words that have gotten do-overs (love that one!) while still wearing their old rags:

wpid-say-what-you-mean1

Eager – now that is a straightforward word, isn’t it? We all know what it means, right? What it doesn’t mean is anxious, which means fretful, nervous, apprehensive. Yet we say, “I’m so anxious to go to that concert,” when in fact, we are eager. Anxious and eager are used interchangeably.

Sick – somehow, apparently as far back as the early ’80s, sick has meant good, great – “That concert was sick.” How does that happen?

Ridiculous – means deserving or inviting derision or mockery; absurd. But it has taken on a contrary meaning. Not by all, but by some.

Bad – meaning good. Equally as baffling.

Kill – as in “You kill that outfit.” Or “Those are killer shoes.” There isn’t anything in the meaning of kill that evokes admiration for clothes or shoes or music, or, or, or… but we hear it every day.

Literally – “I literally died when I heard that joke.” Probably not, else you wouldn’t be here to tell the tale. Literally means precisely, but it has been construed to mean figuratively.

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Terrific – once meant extremely bad, now is also defined as extremely good.

There are many words that have contrary meanings, not because they started out that way, but because over time, people have adapted them to fit situations and they’ve stuck. Back in the day (UGH, I so dislike that phrase, mainly because it usually refers to a time that I don’t consider history but part of my life,) cool meant slightly less cold. How it came to mean the epitome of hip (which is a bone,) I’m not sure. I use that one and I like it. Selective antagonismness.

More and more, the contrary meanings of words are creeping into news reports and television shows, which gives them legitimacy. Then as we’ve seen with some words, the contrary meaning is adopted as a meaning of the word. A great example of this is awesome. Used to mean strikes fear, and now it also means great, according to Merriam-Webster.

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I don’t doubt that this is a generational thing, where someone younger might not have the same issues with the changing meanings as someone older. Do young people really know that BAD doesn’t mean GOOD, and never has? Do people LITERALLY die when they hear a joke?

And then there’s that whole thing about age appropriateness. Comes a time when proper speech trumps hipster jive.

What do you think? I’m going to take my kicky self out of here so I can change into my literally killer pajamas with sick baby penguins on them. Ridiculous how I love those awesome little guys.

For more on antagonysms, visit Charles Ellis’s page, where he lists many more examples.

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Brita lite logoMore about Brita Addams:

Born in a small town in upstate New York, Brita Addams has made her home in the sultry south for many years. In the Frog Capital of the World, Brita shares her home with her real-life hero—her husband, and a fat cat named Stormee. All their children are grown.

Given her love of history, Brita writes both het and gay historical romance. Many of her historicals have appeared on category bestseller lists at various online retailers.

Musa Publishing publishes Brita’s heterosexual historical romances, including the rewritten and expanded, best-selling Sapphire Club series, each with new titles. Again, each of the titles have again hit the best-selling lists at various online vendors.

Tarnished Gold, the first in her gay romance Tarnished series for Dreamspinner Press, was a winner in the 2013 Rainbow Awards, Historical Romance category. The book also received nominations for Best Historical and Best Book of 2013 from the readers of the Goodreads M/M Romance Group.

A bit of trivia—Brita pronounces her name, Bree-ta, and not Brit-a, like the famous water filter. Brita Addams is a mash-up of her real middle name and her husband’s middle name, with an additional d and s.

Readers can follow Brita Addams at any of the following places:

Website/Blog Twitter | Facebook |Fan page Pinterest | Booklikes | Monthly column at The Novel Approach | Please stay in touch by subscribing to my monthly newsletter Cold Coffee Café

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Lynley Wayne

Guest Post: On Being Kind by Lynley Wayne

Banner_LynleyWayne.com

This is a post I have started several times in the past. I start it and then I talk myself out of posting it and yet, this same issue seems to pop up again and again. I guess you could say it’s more a bunch of smaller issues that are part of a larger whole. Each time it happens I become more and more disheartened with social media, with the gay romance writing community, and with people in general.

I started writing gay romance, not because I wasn’t good enough to break into straight romance—although I’ve been accused of that in the past—but because I believe wholeheartedly in equality. I believe that it is a human right to be able to love whomever we want. That love is one of those things that is precious and should be celebrated.

I believe in treating people with respect; in accepting people for who they are, quirks and all. I believe that we are all different for a reason and each and every one of us can learn something valuable from those who appear so different at a glance.

At its core, the gay romance community is supposed to be a group of people who support equality and inclusivity. After all, we are a band of misfits and outcasts, most of us. Are we not? Of all people, we should know how it feels to be treated unkindly, to be judged at a glance, and to be hated for something outside of our control. If those things do not make us more compassionate, then the bullies, the haters, the ones who want nothing more than to remind us that we are different, they win.

With the growth and acceptance of the gay romance genre and the LGBTI community, I think we forget how far we’ve come and how far we have yet to go. So when I see things like authors bullying reviewers because they didn’t like the review they got, or reviewers writing hateful reviews that are less about the books and more about the writers, or the never-ending debate about whether or not women can write gay romance, or authors taking advantage of readers, bloggers, or other authors, those things make me sad. I haven’t been a part of this community that long and yet I have seen all of those things multiple times. It’s like there’s a cycle to them, one that needs to be stopped.

Each time you sit down at the computer, or pick up your tablet or smart phone, you need to remember that there is a real live, flesh and blood, human being on the other side of that screen. One that has feelings, feeling that can be hurt. Whoever wrote the rhyme, “Sticks and stone may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” They were wrong. Bones heal and with time we forget the pain of that break. Words, however, they never really go away. Once said, an unkind word can haunt us for the rest of our lives, becoming part of that internal voice telling us that we are not good enough, smart enough, skinny enough, pretty enough, just…ENOUGH. Words can do more damage than anything else.

They can also heal. They can change the world. They can repair bridges and foster friendships.

As a group of avid readers, and of writers, you’d think the power of words would be obvious. That, we, of all people, would be more careful with the things we say.

Even as a writer, I don’t always say things the right way. Sometimes it takes me many, many drafts before I get it right. I like having the screen between the world and me. Not because I’m shy or anything, but because I often say things without thinking and I know I have inadvertently injured people in the past. This screen allows for me to be more thoughtful of my words, to edit myself in a way I can’t do in person.

As I stated at the beginning of this post, I have gone back and forth about posting this online, more times than you can know. I worry that in doing so some people may feel like I am calling them out, when the truth is, I’m not. I’m not pointing fingers or referring to one specific incident. If you feel that I am, then I apologize, because that is not my intent.

The reason I decided to go ahead and write this post was because it is only when we bring things into the light and examine them honestly that we have a chance of changing who we can become. By acknowledging and making a conscious effort to be better, to do better is the only way we can grow. Keeping your head down and pretending that everything is fine, does nothing but perpetuate a society of bullies.

I refuse to be silent any longer. So I’m standing up and saying, “I know we can do better.”

~Lynley

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Cover Reveal, DSP Publications, Rhys Ford

Official Cover Reveal: Black Dog Blues by Rhys Ford

Rhys Ford

State of the Rhys

So damn, we’re reaching the end of the year and I swear to God, I feel like I haven’t even started doing what I’ve needed to do. But here we are, looking at what’s coming up in the next year and well, I’m all…hell, is there enough time in the year?

So let’s start with… Releases and Cover Reveals! Continue reading

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Brita Addams

What Motivates You To Purchase Books From A Particular Site – A Guest Post by Brita Addams

booksYou love books, don’t you? Yeah, me too. Some authors and publishers are autobuys for me, because I know I’ll get the reading experience I want. A cover attracts me, the blurb entices and then I’m off to purchase.

Before I wrote, I had my go-to vendors. As a reflex, I went to what was familiar. Then, I had books accepted for publication, signed contracts, and the purchase of books took on an entirely different scope.

What motivates you to purchase from a particular site? Is it habit? Ease of purchasing experience? Sales? Incentives?

As an author, I have my clear-cut preference. Hands down, I’d rather my readers purchase from my publisher’s sites. Continue reading

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Carole Cummings, DSP Publications

Guest Post: Introducing DSP Publications by Carole Cummings

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So, by now you might have heard that Dreamspinner Press is branching out again. In addition to their YA imprint, Harmony Ink, last month saw the launch of DSP Publications, an imprint dedicated to genre fiction such as Science Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery, Paranormal, Horror, among others.

I know some are wondering why. Dreamspinner already publishes a multitude of genres under their M/M Romance umbrella, so why bother making a whole new imprint? Continue reading

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Brita Addams, Musa Publishing

Cover Reveal and the Story Behind Thornhill’s Dilemma by Brita Addams

thornhillsdilemma-300dpiWhile I’ve had the cover for my upcoming release, Thornhill’s Dilemma, for a few weeks, I wanted to save the cover reveal for my favorite site and second home online, The Novel Approach. So, without further ado, I unveil the beautiful cover. Thank you to Kelly Shorten at Musa Publishing for working with me to make this beautiful cover happen! Kelly is aces.

Book three of my Sapphire Club series, Thornhill’s Dilemma, tells the story of Phillip Allard and Alexander Chilton, with a guest appearance by Lady Hope Linden.

In the book’s original incarnation, Chocolate, Tea, and the Duchess, the story was a menage. When I received the rights to the story back from the defunct publisher, I did with it what my gut told me to do five years ago when I wrote the story. While there are a couple of menage scenes, not graphic, this is a story about Phillip and Alex.

There was so much more story for these characters than what I wrote in C,T, & D. Then I hadn’t explored their lives completely and considered things that will become evident in the reading. When I sat down to do a pre-edit, as I did with the other two books, Phillip spoke to me, quite adamantly. From that, comes what I think is a beautiful story that takes place in a time when homosexual relationships were against the law. Continue reading

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Coastal Magic Convention, K.C. Burn

Countdown to Coastal Magic With KC Burn – A Sneak Peek at “North on Drummond”

Coastal Magic ConI’m KC Burn and I’m so looking forward to being at Coastal Magic in February! I wasn’t able to go this year, as I ended up moving from Florida to California, but the previous year, in St. Augustine, was such a fantastic time. I discovered that, despite being horribly uncomfortable speaking in public, panels were a lot of fun. I ended up on several panels with some fantastic authors, and talking about world building and writing with other authors, and getting input from the audience was so incredible and inspiring. Being in such a small, intimate environment with readers and other authors… I don’t think there’s anything better.

So, here’s a little blurb and excerpt from… well, I can’t exactly call it an upcoming release, but with any luck, it will be available for Coastal Magic. Here’s a sneak peek at North on Drummond. Continue reading

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Pen Name Publishing, Peter Monn

“The Before Now and After Then”: A Guest Post and Giveaway by Peter Monn

22841551The question I get asked the most about my book The Before Now and After Then is “what is it about?” which I actually think is kind of a difficult question. Many people think it is a story of grief or a story of bullying, or even a story a just being a gay teenager, but that wasn’t what I planned when I started. For me, writing is like borrowing someone’s life for a while and entering their world, making observations of your own and trying to stay out of the way as the story unfolds. All I ever really wanted to write was a simple love story between two teenage boys, Danny and Rusty, but they just weren’t willing to have it be that way.

Blurb: Danny Goldstein has always lived in the shadow of his identical, twin brother Sam. But when a hurricane of events forces him into the spotlight, he starts to realize that the only thing he’s truly afraid of is himself. With the help of his costume changing friend Cher, a famous gay uncle with a mysterious past of his own, two aging punk rocker parents and Rusty, the boy who will become his something to live for, Danny begins to realize that the music of the heart is truly the soundtrack for living. Continue reading

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Backlist Book Bump, RJ Scott

RJ Scott’s “Guarding Morgan” And “The Gallows Tree” – Excerpts And Giveaway

As part of this author tour I am putting two different books alongside each other and talking about what inspired them.

I suggested comparing Guarding Morgan and The Gallows Tree, and TNA said I should talk about the two books that contrast each other and about why I like to mix things up in my writing as opposed to sticking to a formula.

Guarding Morgan is an adventure story, set in modern day US, and is the first in a series of seven books. The book deals with poor Morgan, who witnesses a murder and is put in danger when the FBI safehouse he’s in is compromised. Immediately the book is a man on the run story, then quickly falls into the world of Sanctuary – an organization that assists when all else is fails. A private organization owned by a millionaire, Sanctuary becomes Morgan’s safe home, and this is how he meets Nik. The story is half adventure, half cabin in the woods, and is the building block for an entire series. I love writing my men of action, my heroes. Continue reading

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K. Vale, Liquid Silver Books

How Happy Is Your Ending? By K. Vale



1238845_505387326219878_1309695949_nHow loose is your goose? Just kidding. What does that even mean?


I love reading reviews (both of my own books and of others). I know some people subscribe to the old adage that authors shouldn’t look at reviews, but I see them as a way to find out what works for people and what doesn’t—what readers are looking for in a book and what they absolutely hate.

Now, will I tailor my writing to a reader’s preference, regardless of my own instincts or desires? Probably not, but if enough reviewers make a similar comment about a book, it can certainly make me think when composing the next one.

For my free M/M story Sticking It, I adopted a HFN (happy for now) ending. It’s a short story, and my college boys began a tentative relationship by the end of my 13000 words. Had they been a couple already in an established relationship at the beginning of the story, of course they would have gotten the complete package—happily ever after (HEA)—by the end. But a short isn’t long enough to create a believable long-lasting relationship, in my opinion. Flowers and promises and long-term commitments aren’t realistic to me in so few words—heck, it’s hard to pull that off in a full-length novel.

Some people really want that, though, short story or no. I’ve seen comments, both on my own story and other people’s, to that affect. Of course, maybe what they really wanted was another 30,000 words, which I suppose is a compliment in a way, but I personally didn’t have time to pull a novel out of my hat in six weeks and still get my other projects done.

My latest release, Forever is Now, is a novel, complete with happily ever after. It took 51, 000 words to get my guys there, and I gave a flash-forward epilogue to make it realistic. They also had an established relationship nine years before the meat and potatoes of the tale take place. I’m writing the second book in my Shooting Stars series right now, and Chance and Alex of Forever have a walk-on part in the next book. So, people who want to check in on their HEA and make sure the flame is still burning can pick up Gio’s book, Double Takes, in a few months.

At the end of the day, everyone has their own likes and dislikes when it comes to reading (and every aspect of life, of course). Good thing there are so many books to choose from, so we’re all guaranteed our own personal happy ending. You want fries with that?

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Blurb for Forever is Now:

If you love someone, set him free. If he steals something of yours, hunt him down and make him sorry.

Alex Bremen is over Chance Ralan. Ever since his high school boyfriend ditched him nine years ago, Alex has barely thought of Chance at all. Sure, Alex attended a concert or two when his ex’s band, Armageddon Showdown, was in the area, but that was more curiosity than anything else. Who wouldn’t want to see firsthand how his once clean-cut boyfriend transformed into a pierced and tattooed heavy metal god?

But when Chance has the nerve to record a love song Alex wrote for him years ago, Alex crosses the country to confront him. Revenge becomes a dish best served sizzling hot. The two men lock horns, but find the chemistry between them has only intensified with time, and occasionally love needs to do some growing up before it can be done right.

Excerpt:

“I bet you never got over that first boyfriend, huh?” Delia must have been a scab-picker as a kid. She just did not quit.

“Him? I gave up on him a long time ago.”

“Well, he sounds like a real asshole, letting you go.” Delia shrugged.

“Yeah, his loss, right?”

Chance picked up his beer glass and chugged the remainder before he slammed it down on the table. He nudged the startled groupie, who scooted out of the booth with him right behind her. Like a pent-up and poked lion, he stalked to the bar. Judging by the two fingers Chance held up, he ordered a double of something clear. He threw back the shooter and stomped off toward the men’s room.

“What’s his deal?” Delia asked no one in particular.

Alex’s glass was low, and he used the opportunity to excuse himself. Jools grabbed his computer and slid it over to pick up where he left off without a skipped beat. Miles racked pool balls across the room, while Jimmy laughed loudly and chalked his cue. Alex breathed a sigh of relief to see his assistant occupied.

He was so stupid for sticking his dick in that guy. He’d have to look for another position for him—one where they wouldn’t work closely together. Obviously, Miles hadn’t gotten past it.

When Alex entered the men’s room, he initially thought Chance wasn’t in there after all. A toilet flushed, and the door on the end stall flew open hard enough to crash against the tiled wall behind it. Chance squinted at him as they both stood before the row of sinks, the rocker washing his hands and Alex giving him a dull stare.

“What the fuck are you playing at, Alex? Why are you here?”

“What am I playing at? You’ve got to be kidding, right?”

“You come here just to screw with my head?” Chance stared accusingly into the mirror, moss-green eyes skewering Alex.

“Like you need any help with that, Chance. I think your head is fucked well and good, and it’s got nothing to do with me. Besides, you sent me a goddamn bat signal on the airwaves when you used my song!”

“So, you didn’t just show up ’cause you missed this, huh?” He grinned maliciously into the glass while he grabbed his crotch in a mocking gesture. In the harsh lighting, even with his dark makeup ringing his eyes from the concert, and the ebony spiral of a dragon’s body curling around his neck and disappearing into the ripped collar of his shirt, Alex could still see flashes of the boy he once knew. The row of stainless steel rings that marched up his left earlobe, and the skinny black leather pants, the anti-social hair and full sleeves of ink—even the cold and cynical glint in his eyes couldn’t completely mask the Chance Alex used to adore.

“How could you sing that song? I know I lost the competition. You needed to be a rock star more than you need me. I’m over it. But here you fuckin’ are, Chance—you made it to the big time without me, and without that song. The least you could do is show an ounce of fucking respect for what we had.”

“I do… I didn’t…” He tripped over his words, and Alex shook his head, about to walk out. Distance was the best thing to have between them. Why did he think confronting Chance would bring some sort of resolution, some kind of healing to the wound that never closed no matter how much time passed? He should have known being so near Chance would tear him apart all over again.

“Wait. Alex?” Chance exhaled a deep breath as if trying to decide if he really wanted to say whatever he was about to.

“I was drunk one night. I couldn’t get you … that song out of my head. I just thought if I sang it, I could sleep, ya know? Cliff heard me. Said we had to cut it.” Chance shook his head as if to negate his words. “He had the rest of the band pressure me.”

“So, once again, I lose to the band, huh? It’s classic Chance. You fucked me over for your career already! Years later, with an entire country between us, you do it again? I let you go, Chance. You should do the same.”

“Did you really?” Chance turned toward him, closing the distance between their bodies. Alex smelled sweat and leather, and Chance’s breath held the essence of liquor as he spoke. “You want to tell me you didn’t think about me at all this whole time? Is that why you never tried to find me? Never called?”

“Are you fucking serious? Is that what I was supposed to do?” Alex clenched his fists, torn between wanting to hit him, and dying to know if his lips, his tongue, tasted like vodka, or beer, or both.

“It woulda shown you cared.”

“I see the world still revolves around you. Nice to know some things never change.”

“Yeah, some things don’t. Your eyes are still that same amazing blue.” Chance leaned closer and the tip of his tongue flicked out to smooth his lips. “I still feel like I could just … dive into them and drown.”

Fuck. A shiver of excitement rumbled through Alex’s body. He had come here to yell at him, to make him realize what a self-centered prick he was. Hopefully shame him, at least a little. After that he was going to leave.

Instead, he leaned in, and his lips were on Chance’s. And, good lord, he tasted and smelled just the way Alex remembered underneath the burn of booze. Chance’s face was rougher against his chin and cheeks, not like the smooth-faced boy Alex used to steal kisses from. Damn, if the man wasn’t so much hotter. He licked the seam of Chance’s closed lips and the guy groaned beneath Alex’s onslaught while his mouth opened in response. Their tongues met, and Chance molded his warm body against Alex’s.

Christ, he feels almost too good.

Alex’s hand wrapped around the back of Chance’s neck. He loved the thatch of hair at Chance’s nape. Different color, but still reassuringly soft. Threading his fingers through the silky mass, he pulled Chance’s mouth closer, his tongue deeper into his own moist heat.

Alex smiled against Chance’s mouth as the rocker ground his hips upward into Alex’s throbbing groin. The guy’s cock was hot and hard, wrapped in buttery leather. It surged against Alex’s hard-on.

Not everything changed.

The squeak of the outer door being tugged open broke the love buzz, and Chance wrenched guiltily out of his arms.

Alex turned on the tap in a liquid-lightning move and started splashing water around as nonchalantly as he could manage. The sink was the right height to cover most of the bulge in his pants, and he prayed it would be enough.

When Dave wobbled in with a shit-faced grin and a “Heyahh!” Alex knew they were safe. Chance was safe, actually, because Alex had quit giving a donkey’s dick what anyone thought about his sexuality a long time ago.

He ran wet fingers through his dark-brown hair and spared Chance a last look. He wouldn’t even make eye contact. The guy was obviously freaked out of his mind.

Alex laughed out loud at the look of abject terror twisting Chance’s face, and gave Dave a nod as he walked out. His balls burned with disappointment, but his heart was lighter than it had been in a long time.

———

Find Forever is Now from Liquid Silver Books: http://www.lsbooks.com/forever-is-now-p827.php

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Forever-Shooting-Stars-Book-ebook/dp/B00F2M2YSM/ref=sr_sp-atf_title_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1378826994&sr=1-1&keywords=forever+is+now

All Romance: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-foreverisnow-1291116-149.html and other major e-book retailers beginning 9/9/13.

And stop by My Blog to help me name the puppy in book two of my Shooting Stars series. The winner will get a shout-out in my acknowledgments, an e-copy of book two (Double Takes) when it releases, and a $20 Amazon gift card. You have until 10/6 to get your name suggestions in, so get to work on something totally rocking! And thanks for playing!

-Kimber Vale
http://www.kimbervale.com

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Dreamspinner Press, Marguerite Labbe

Marguerite Labbe Is With Us Today To Talk A Little Bit About “Ghosts in the Wind”. And, Guess What? There’s A Giveaway!


Despite the fact that Ghosts in the Wind is a thriller, where the main characters Dean and Andrei are hunting down a murderer, and there are elements of horror in it as well with the ghosts and the dangers of remaining in limbo, primarily the book is about love in all of its amazing and wonderful forms.

It’s about the love between friends, when Justin breaks his own rules to support a grieving Andrei. It’s about the love between siblings, with the way Ileana stays behind has a ghost so her little brother won’t be alone and how Andrei supports her still even after he grows up and leaves behind childhood games. It’s about the love of family, both the family that one is born into and the family that is created. Dean’s parents became a surrogate family to Andrei when he was a teenager abandoned on the streets and remained with him, supporting him even after Dean’s murder. There is the love of a grandmother not willing to give up hope for her missing grandchildren and the love of a matriarch for her descendents even if she cannot comprehend their choices. It’s about the love that Andrei has for all the abandoned kids in the world and his drive to see them safe no matter what it takes.

Most of all it’s about the love between best friends and soul mates, Dean and Andrei were inseparable for years before they became lovers and then partners. When Dean is murdered, Andrei is shattered. But death doesn’t stop Dean from returning to help his partner grieve and it doesn’t stop Dean’s need to find the children who were kidnapped when he was killed. It doesn’t stop Andrei from being willing to set aside his own sorrow to let Dean move on for his own safety. And despite his own grief and heartache, Andrei is as unable to leave kids in danger as well.

Ghosts in the Wind may make you jump at shadows in some parts or reach for the tissue box at other times, but I think in the end it will leave you smiling and you won’t be sorry you dove right into the tale with me. Out of all of the stories I’ve written, this is the one I’m most proud of and I’m sure Dean and Andrei’s deep love and commitment will touch you as much as it touched me.

Buy Link

Blurb: Andrei Cuza and Dean Marshall celebrated their tenth anniversary only to have their happiness shattered by a random, insane event: On his way home from closing a business deal, Dean stops on the parkway to help a young mother with her flat tire, and her ex arrives, murders them, and takes off with his two kids.

Ghosts have haunted Andrei all his life. He bears the guilt for his sister being stuck in limbo, because ghosts are frozen at the moment they died, unable to adapt to the changes in their living loved ones. When Dean returns to Andrei as a ghost, the double punch of losing him and having to watch him founder if he doesn’t move on is almost more than Andrei can bear.

Despite dangers in limbo—Jackal Wraiths that devour souls are hunting him—Dean isn’t going anywhere until he helps Andrei track down the missing children. Andrei is in danger as well when he pays dearly to feel Dean’s touch one last time. Time is slowly running out as Dean and Andrei try to say good-bye while they track a killer who’s more than happy to kill again.

A Bittersweet Dreams title: It’s an unfortunate truth: love doesn’t always conquer all. Regardless of its strength, sometimes fate intervenes, tragedy strikes, or forces conspire against it. These stories of romance do not offer a traditional happy ending, but the strong and enduring love will still touch your heart and maybe move you to tears.

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This Contest Is Now Closed

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Cat Grant

Look Who’s Come For A Visit – It’s Cat Grant, A “Black Dog”, And There’s A Giveaway!

37307_mediumHello, all! Thanks for joining me on my blog tour for Black Dog, the first book in my new Bannon’s Gym series. (Hot mixed martial arts fighters – rawwrrr!) I’m giving away a brand new Kindle Paperwhite loaded with my entire back list. Follow along at all my stops on this tour – and leave comments on each. Every comment counts as another chance to win! I’ll announce the winner on my blog on Friday, August 30th.

I’ve never been much of a sports fan, but the first mixed martial arts fight I ever saw had me glued to the edge of my chair. If you’ve seen the movie Haywire, featuring Gina Carano, the former women’s middleweight champ, you already know what I mean. I sat there in the theater, completely agog as she kicked the crap out of her male co-stars with ease.

Not long after, I stumbled across my first all-men’s fight on cable and the blatant homoeroticism (it’s not called a full contact sport for nothing!) and feral intensity blew me away. This particular fight only lasted one round – with the victor winning by KO with a vicious roundhouse kick – but that was it. I was well and truly hooked.

I quickly grew addicted to the Ultimate Fighting Championship. I couldn’t afford the pay-per-views (fifty bucks a shot is a bit rich for this author’s blood), but I never missed the weekly show on FX. I started rooting for up and coming fighters like Adam Cella and Uriah Hall. I usually can’t stand reality shows, but I couldn’t wait to see what happened next.

Then, inevitably, I started making up stories. I envisioned a gym on the less affluent side of a California beach town, run by a former MMA champion – a guy with a tragic past and an ex-lover who used to be a fighter himself. Then I got another idea, about a teenage runaway desperate to learn how to defend himself, and realized these were two halves of the same story. Angst and drama ensue (hey, it’s a Cat Grant book – angst and drama are my calling cards!), along with a fair amount of grunting, sweating and flying fists.

ZOOM ENABLED :-D

ZOOM ENABLED :-D

And here’s the hot trio I used for inspiration: Gerard Butler as Danny, owner of Bannon’s Gym. Michael Fassbender (naturally!) as Eddie, his on-again, off-again lover and James McAvoy (managing to look simultaneously adorable and badass) as Tom, the teenage runaway. Is it any wonder these characters kept me up writing ‘til 2 or 3 AM every night?

Black Dog is now available at Amazon, All Romance ebooks and Smashwords. Here’s a blurb to whet your appetites:

Danny Bannon and Eddie Roscoe have been fighting in and out of the ring for more than fifteen years, held together by mutual attraction and small-town ties, yet kept apart by a shared tragedy that continues to haunt them. Their steady on-again off-again is shaken up by the arrival of Tom Delaney, a teenage runaway trying to escape his tense home situation and his punch-happy dad.

In no time, the scrawny homeless kid has shown himself to be a boxing prodigy, and building him up brings Danny and Eddie closer than they’ve been in ages. It seems that the three of them, plus Eddie’s mother, Gloria, are forming a new family unit, much tighter than anything Tom experienced in his difficult past.

But Tom’s politically influential father isn’t the only person he left behind. When his mother shows up at Eddie and Gloria’s diner with a shiner and a haunted look in her eyes, Tom is hopeful for her future. But when that hope is snuffed out, Tom is ready to turn his new fighting skills to a deadly purpose: get revenge on his abusive father or die trying.

It’s up to his surrogate big brothers, Danny and Eddie, to put their differences and their painful history aside to prevent another tragic ending.

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Cat Grant lives by the sea in beautiful Monterey, California, with one persnickety feline and way too many books and DVDs. When she’s not writing, you can usually find her watching movies or TV (Supernatural and The Vampire Diaries are among her favorite shows), singing along to whatever’s on her iPod, or fantasizing about kinky sex with Michael Fassbender.

Here’s Cat’s various hideouts on the Internet:
Website: http://catgrant.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/CatGrant2009
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/cat.grant
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1912055.Cat_Grant
You can contact her directly at: cat@catgrant.com

You can purchase Black Dog from the following e-tailers:




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Huston Piner, Torquere Press

Huston Piner Is Here Today To Tell Us A Bit About His Book “My Life as a Myth”




Nominated for the 2014 Stonewall Book Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature, My Life as a Myth is a bittersweet page-turner filled with humorous misadventures, unexpected psychedelic explorations and moments of love, passion and tragedy. 1969 high school loser Nick Horton’s new friend Jesse Gaston promises to make him a superstar. But if would-be girlfriends, his dysfunctional family, and a suspicious principal weren’t enough to deal with, Nick falls in love with Bobby Warren and things really get complicated. Can Nick and Bobby find their way in a world where acid rock rules, status is everything and being gay is the last taboo?

Excerpt:

I woke up sometime after dawn. I was on my back and Bobby lay on his side with his left leg draped over me and an arm wrapped snuggly around me. As I came to, I realized we were both uncovered, he was naked, and we both had hard-ons; his rested on my thigh. Completely embarrassed, I began a slow delicate process to untangle us without waking him.

After I freed myself, I hurried to the bathroom, quietly closed the door and raised the lid just in time to explode. I stood there shivering until I was completely drained and flushed the toilet. The bathroom had a small walk in shower with a sliding door. I got in before the water fully heated up, and let it flow over me to ensure I was fully awake.

I dried my hair with the damp towel. Bobby had rolled over and snored quietly, now clutching a pillow. I finished dressing and watched him sleep for a minute, taking in how perfect he is from head to toe. My God, he’s beautiful, I thought, and I felt myself stiffen. It took me a couple of minutes to tear myself away from just admiring him. There are some things you just know you’ll remember all your life and I knew right then that even when I’m a hundred, remembering him sleeping like that will bring out the same feelings in me.

Check out the My Life as a Myth pages at Goodreads and Amazon

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Edmond Manning, Self-Published

The Lost and The Founds: The Origins by Edmond Manning

We couldn’t be happier to welcome Edmond as our guest today to help celebrate the release of his latest novel King Mai.

In honor of Mai’s coronation, Edmond is offering one lucky reader the chance to win an Ecopy of the book! All you have to do to enter is leave a comment right here, and you’ll automatically be eligible to win.

All entries must be received by by 11:59pm Pacific Time on Friday, July 19, 2013. The drawing will be held on July 20 and the winner notified via email.

Good luck!

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Once there was a tribe of men, a tribe populated entirely of kings. Odd, you may think, and wonder how any work got done in such a society with everyone making rules. But these were not those kinds of kings.

While corresponding via email, Lisa recently asked me, ‘Where did all this come from? Every man is the one true king? Every woman is the one true queen?’ She wanted to know the inspiration, the true origins.

Gosh, I wish I knew.

Oh sure, I know some details. I know how the story came into my life through a tangle of interests that converged on my modern-day narrator, Vin Vanbly, and his sexually manipulative King Weekends. But the origin of The Lost and Founds is older, so much older than my most recent fictional invention.

Think Greek, but older.

Think Egyptian but older.

Ancient stories tell of warriors striding into a troubled world to overcome impossibilities. These warriors rise into legend. They destroy nine-headed beasts. Drink entire lakes dry. They rescue villages from impossible evils. Yes, their achievements were insane and worthy of song, but beyond the epic adventure itself, the stories articulated what happens to men, who they become, when they are pushed to their limits…and win.

Look at the stories of Beowulf, Gilgamesh, and any number of Old Testament tales. These men are men on king weekends (metaphorically at least), mired in grief and human limitations while trying to uncover a greater truth: I might be something more, maybe even a king.

Hell, cave drawings were trying to tell these stories, who we are as men.

As people.

Although the ancient stories name kingship pretty literally – the hero gets a gold crown and a fancy scepter to, you know, take to parties and such—modern interpreters (Joseph Campbell and five hundred Jungian doctoral students) suggest kingship, even in those days, was an attempt to express the inner nature of four major masculine archetypes: warrior, lover, magician, and king.

They would argue that all men are kings, all women are queens, all of us ready for our majesty to awaken. Unfortunately, queenship tales have not traditionally been valued historically as they should have been, so we’re left with mostly the male kings. This is a serious omission, this disservice. But it does not change that we are all – men and women – powerful warriors, waiting for someone to call us into service. Fallen Leaf was a powerful Crow warrior who served her people. We need her. We need Gilgamesh to remind us to grieve death with a lover’s heart. We need the story of the Greek Odysseus to remind us that we are all lost kings, far from home while strangers feast in our living rooms, enjoying roasted mutton, drinking our wine.

Well, maybe not that last part.

I hope there aren’t guys eating mutton in my living room right now. If there are, I hope they’re using napkins and plates. And quit drinking my wine.

Point being, we tell ourselves heroic stories to remember what our forbearers thought we should remember: we are powerful. Don’t forget that. We achieve greatness. Don’t forget that also. We make dumb-ass mistakes often stemming from pride. Seriously, don’t forget that either.

Past generations had books. Before that, ornate, gold two-dimensional hieroglyphics. But ancient people could not predict which creations would survive thousands of years, no better than we can know how much of the internet will exist in eight hundred years. Will YouTube exist 1,000 years from now, telling the stories of who we were and what we valued? Maybe but probably not.

Ancient peoples attempted time travel by encoding their wisdom inside stories they hoped would reach us in the future. It worked.

I’ve received emails from people who have said things like, “I don’t understand what happened to me when I read King Perry. Things were stirred up in me I can’t put into words.”

Stories do that –the ones that touch who we are as a people.

I love there are feelings and experiences too deep to name. Too raw and beautiful to tame with adjectives, and rope into submission with clever verbs. As much as I do not love grief, I love that an ancient Egyptian man the same age as I was, once wept for his father’s death the same way I wept for mine. Thousands of ancient Egyptians probably loved their parents the way I love mine. Perhaps they tried to send comfort to me in the form of tales of Ra, the Father God.

My fascination with mythology and masculine archetypes swirl together in my series, The Lost and Founds. I find myself inventing new mythology as much as drawing on the ancients. I try to add my own twists (I am a storyteller, after all) but I also honor the ancients by following some conventional guidelines for masculine mythology.

The north is wisdom, the king.

The east is new beginnings, the lover.

The west is death and transformation, the magician.

The south is service to the realm, the warrior.

When narrator Vin Vanbly describes the mythical kingdom’s southern gates, he channels ancient ideas about the energetic world beyond our own while describing modern-day warriors. Kings who leave the kingdom on quests always leave by the southern gates. They are beautiful but hint at danger.

“The southern gates had been crafted into existence by metalworking kings, twisted gold, fashioned into tangled vines and flat, broad leaves reflecting every gleam of sunlight. Intertwining the gold, flowed brown copper vines, alive with barbaric intention. As the dawn re-painted the black grass to spring green and the gold metal leaves began to shine, two questions were always asked of the departing brother. The first was this: ‘What would you risk to find a lost king?’ Each king answered with what he was willing to sacrifice, and it was always worth more than anyone knew.”

In the newest book, King Mai, the narrator, Vin, describes the western gates and true to the power of the magician, these gates are murky and cryptic.

“Nobody arrives (in the kingdom) through the western gates, not ever. In the west, the actual gates themselves are completely submerged under water, a glowing maze of sculpted, pink coral. Men leave the kingdom through the western gates only to lunch with Death or to discover secrets guaranteed to stripe them with grief for their remaining lives. An impenetrable fog smothers the water’s surface and only a pinkish hue occasionally leaks through. Creatures swim in that pink, foggy water and hunt at the surface. Big things. Dangerous things.”

The west offers transformational knowledge, but there is always a price — your vulnerability or perhaps to be striped with grief. In other words, you don’t fuck with the western gates unless you’re ready to get fucked with yourself.

On each King Weekend, the main character greets his kingship in the east, the direction of the lover. You would think that a new king would greet the north, the direction of kingship itself. But the east represents new beginnings, the return of the sun, opening the heart to the fullest love, the fullest grief. As Vin’s new kings face a new way of existing in the world, become a new man, they must come home through the east.

The function of those northern gates will reveal themselves, perhaps in the next book or the one after that.

Women have their own parallel archetypes, the lover, mother, amazon, and Wise Woman (or sometimes Crone). A few readers have emailed me ‘when are we going to see a woman get queened?’

I am lucky enough to love women in my life, very lucky, but as a man who doesn’t physically make love to women, my vantage point has a serious limitation. As a writer, I must somehow figure out how to honor—in a realistic way—a woman’s sexual power. When I can do that, I can write that Queen book. Maybe I’m not supposed to create Queen Weekends. Maybe a straight man should write those books. I dunno.

I will keep asking for wisdom on that topic. And I trust the Sparkling Spirit to provide me confirmation some day when I am shopping for milk or giggling with my best friend, Ann, or perhaps staring into space and the quiet voice whispers to me, “Queen her.”

But in the meantime, I hope to tap into such universal stories, stories of grief and forgiveness, that readers temporarily forget gender identities and instead remember all we have in common, men, women, and everything in between.

The world of The Lost and Founds is ancient and modern, lusty and agape, grief and joy. It’s the story of people who have lost and then somehow won. It’s the story of why it’s hard and amazing to be a man. Our goofy stupidity, our loveable quirks, and how any of us in the world, men and women, might possibly be spectacular if someone believed, just for one weekend, that I was the one true king. The one true queen.

What if some folks from long-gone Mesopotamia wanted us to know they knew us, they knew us, so they encoded their findings in myth and legend, a thousand myths, a thousand stories from every African nation and dared us to meet them on the ancestral field? Their stories say, come meet us. And remember.

***

Edmond Manning is the author of King Perry and most recently (July 15, 2013), King Mai. You need not have read that first book to enjoy King Mai. Feel free to email Edmond:

remembertheking@comcast.net

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Azalea Moone, Storm Moon Press

A Glimpse Into The Future – “Angel’s Redemption” by Azalea Moone

Hey, guys and gals! Thanks for having me on The Novel Approach today! So, all week long, I’ve been talking about my latest release, Angel’s Redemption, published by Storm Moon Press.

Today, I want to give you a sneak peek into the planned sequel, Angel’s Sacrifice. Sequel? Well, heck yeah! We need to see more of Blaine and Lyn. A man who finds his guardian angel and lives happy for now isn’t enough, right?

No, they go through more. A heck of a lot more drama and angst, fun and excitement, and a super crazy adventure that leaves someone hanging on the fringes between life and death.

Oh dear, what a spoiler. Apologies for that. I’ll try not to spoil you too much for the rest of this post.

All of our favorite characters from Angel’s Redemption will return in Angel’s Sacrifice. Of course Blaine and Lyn will be back, as well as Katlinne, Robert, and let’s not forget about Vince.

And there will be new characters, which I believe readers will find to be quite heavenly, or quite evil, depending on how you perceive at them.

In the first story, we learned a little bit about Lynsael, Blaine’s ex-guardian angel. We read about how he loses his wings because he’s turning human by being on earth. He’s also quite scared to go anywhere outside without Blaine. In the sequel, Lyn learns that there is so much to life in the human world, so many awesome things to see and to do. Even though he remains very uneasy to explore it without Blaine around, he settles in to life in the human world. Yet, there’s still one thing that holds him back: the pain from losing his wings haunts him in the form of large, red welts in the middle of his back. Why is that? We’ll have to find out.

Of course Blaine is still playing Club Voodoo with his band, ‘Til Dark, every Friday night. Unfortunately, due to the circumstances in which Raz couldn’t stay with them, they have to bring back Vince, but that’s definitely okay. He was always a fun character to write in Angel’s Redemption. Will he be just as crazy as in the first book? Maybe.

Music will also play a big part in the sequel as it did in Angel’s Redemption. The characters are rockers, so of course I won’t forget about stage performances at the club. How about if they now have some merchandise, like a recorded CD and stickers for sale? Hehe, I’ve attended lots of local band concerts where they sold their stuff after the show. I could so totally see ‘Til Dark with stuff like that. And a new logo. Yeah.

Okay, now this post has turned out to be a brainstorming post. Smiles!

Back on track… And, of course, there will be an antagonist, who I still have to figure out those details for myself, but I assure you that the adventure Blaine and Lyn went through to be together in the first book will be stepped up a notch, or three, for the sequel.

Also, in the first book, Blaine dealt with seventeen years of lifelong bad luck. Will I bring that back in the sequel? Well, no. I think Blaine’s had enough for now, don’t you? He’s opened a new chapter in his life, learning to deal with things as they come along and not claiming them as his lifelong streak of bad luck.

Besides, there will be so much more to introduce, a lot more for Blaine and Lyn to deal with. Those big life changes that could separate them and that will definitely bring them together tighter than they ever were before.

“What about the angels?” I hear you cry. The first book showed us just a small glimpse of Lynsael’s world, and we got to read a little bit about Raziel, a Hell’s angel who came to take Lyn back to Hell. In the second installment, we’ll of course read more about the angels, both good and bad. How about a better peek inside Lyn’s world? Do you think more angels will appear and play a big part in Blaine and Lynsael’s relationship? They might. And I can certainly guarantee for anyone who enjoys stories that combine both religious themes and paranormal, you will not want to miss this one.

Twenty-four-year-old Blaine Schneider is seasoned to hardship. Since the age of eight, he’s experienced nothing but a swarm of bad luck: from the funny electrical fire in shop class to failing grades and relationships gone sour. He believes he’ll never get past it; only his band, ‘Til Dark, and their dream, keeps him going through it all.

Shortly after he mysteriously inherits a beautifully carved angel statue, Blaine also finds an apartment big enough to display the lifelike sculpture, and he thinks his luck has finally taken a turn for the better. But when he discovers the spell inscribed on the statue’s base, he frees Lynsael from his stone prison, a handsome fallen angel who claims to be Blaine’s former guardian angel, and then his luck really improves.

But while Blaine is falling hard for the angel’s blue eyes and lively personality, in the shadows, dark forces are working to keep Blaine and Lynsael apart. It will take more than luck for the pair to come through unscathed—it’ll take a miracle.

Angel’s Redemption by Azalea Moone. Now available in digital formats from Storm Moon Press for just $3.99!

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Brita Addams

Brita Addams Speaks From Experience – The Road To Publication Isn’t Paved In Gold

June proved an interesting and oft times frustrating month.

Things have happened that have caused me to reflect on how short life truly is. We waste so much time fretting about things we can’t change, or changing things we shouldn’t. We worry hopelessly, and work at jobs we hate, thinking that one day our fortunes will change—but they never do, because that requires a change within us and without an awakening, we very often don’t take heed. My awakening came on June 28th, when my brother suffered a massive stroke. His life as he knew it is effectively over. He will have to adjust, as will his wife, sons, and grandchildren.

I’ve spent several months embroiled in a terrible situation with a publisher with no scruples and no honor. I’ve followed my contracts to the letter—sent a certified letter enumerating contract breaches. They had 90 days to remedy the situation and they didn’t. The contracts provide for, under that scenario, a reversion of my rights. In mid-June, I sent a Termination of Agreements letter, and claimed those rights on all the titles published there, eight in all. Two of those were published without contracts.

I’d questioned the wisdom of entering into the whirlwind of such a venture, as opposed to waiting out the contracts—in some cases, another five years. Or, simply ignoring those titles and moving on to new ones. In both cases, I rejected the impulse to take the easier path. That is my work, many hours spent researching, writing, editing, and promoting those titles.

I’ve rewritten several of them, given them over for a proper edit, something they never received before, and have embarked on self-publishing my het romances. I am leery of doing business with yet another publisher.

My gay romance titles will always go to Dreamspinner, because that is a company with integrity and class. They treat their authors with respect.

Publishing depends upon the authors, the reliability in their writing and of course, their retention. If authors are happy, they will remain with a publisher, which is what I desperately wished with my association with the unnamed publisher. Instead, they subjected all authors to untruths, non-payment, lack of royalty statements, non-communication with those who make decisions, continued condescension when the CEO deigns to answer messages. The editing lacked integrity, the formatting in print and digital amateurish (one of my print books had my name spelled incorrectly in the header and though the publisher was aware, they never fixed the error,) and when the book is out, there is no remedy. The house has moved on to pushing more books out the door.

Author retention is the lifeblood of a publishing house. Their loyalty is paramount to the good press a house receives. In turn, authors depend upon the house to produce a finely formatted book. This includes edits and in that regard, if a house takes on an author’s book, they should treat that as the author would. We all make errors in grammar, punctuation, even plot and continuity. A good editor can sniff out the errors and polish our manuscripts to a high gloss. We count on them as the last bastion between us and the reading public.

Only recently, when I assumed my rights, did I discover the morbid truth. The manuscript of a book the publisher said would received a thorough edit and be reissued, had not been edited, save for the changing of words to British spellings. I am mortified that they published the book as they did. The publisher was notified and he didn’t acknowledge the notification and did nothing, hence my decision to take drastic measures. Soon, that book, truly and thoroughly edited, and the others, will find their way to the public, in proper condition.

My story isn’t unique in the publishing world, but it has certainly opened my eyes to all that can go wrong with publication and how life is too short to not take control of what is yours. This publisher keeps 64% of each dollar my titles make. They earn none of it.

Writing isn’t simply a matter of writing a story and turning it in to the publisher. There is so much more and at times, the work involved after you’ve written “The End,” is mindboggling. An author must take it upon themselves to make sure that their work is well represented—it is our name on the cover.
All publishers, save this particular one, have provided proofing copies of my books. I can’t tell you how important it is to take those galleys seriously. Certainly, by the time an author receives the galley, they are likely text blind, but along with the proofreader, the author is the last set of eyes on the text before it goes to production. An extremely important step in the process.

Ultimately, an author must involve themselves in every step, starting with the contract. Many contracts aren’t author friendly, particularly those that carry the Right To First Refusal clause, an inordinate number of years, rights grabbing (all rights for the lifetime of the copyright, which is 72 years.)

Authors must be aware and see to it that they receive equitable benefit on an ongoing basis. More often than not, the publisher keeps the lionshare of the money earned from each book. They must do their share to earn it. Contracts are tricky buggers and glassy-eyed authors will lose themselves in the idea that they are published and consequently, they don’t read the fine print. I know, I was there.

Authors should remember that writing is a business—their business. No one will look out for their interests like they will. I’ve learned the hard way that not all publishers are equal.

Authors, ask around for publisher recommendations. If you hear bad things from authors—not a couple of complaints, but many, particularly of the same kind, there is something very wrong. No, things won’t be different with you. Disreputable stays that way.

There are wonderful publishers out there. They care about their authors, abide by the contracts, and respect the author’s work. Sadly, there are those that are just the opposite.

Be careful. Publishing a book is a joyous situation. Take as much care with the aftermath of the writing as you did in the writing.

Hugs,
Brita

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