Giveaways, Wade Kelly

Guest Post and Giveaway: No! Jocks Don’t Date Guys by Wade Kelly

JOCK 2 blog tour banner

Please join us in welcoming author Wade Kelly today, on the tour for her latest novel No! Jocks Don’t Date Guys. Enjoy Wade’s guest post and then don’t forget to check out the giveaway details for you below.

Good luck!

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Writing From My Own Experiences

Hello Again. Thank you for stopping by on the next hop in the Blog Tour for JOCK 2 No! Jocks Don’t Date Guys. I’m so happy for this novel; you have no idea! There have been many commenters so far who have posted something like “I’m so excited for you! I loved the first Jock novel and I have been waiting for a sequel.” Well, here’s the thing—I’m slow. I’m slow to write, I’m slow to catch on, and I’m slow to realize when you have a best selling novel like JOCK 1 My Roommate’s a Jock? Well, Crap!, then you NEED to write a sequel for it!! I’m sorry it too me so long to pull this together, but I am happy so many of you have been waiting patiently for it.

I give you—JOCK 2! No! Jocks Don’t Date Guys

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On my previous blog tour hops, I’ve talked about Writing What I Know. I posted about writing Emotion on Rainbow Gold Reviews, and on Jeff Adams’ blog I spoke about where I get inspiration for writing and find my MUSE. I also talked about how hard it is to make a cover on my post for Scott at GGR. You may comment on that post too for more entries into the giveaway. :)

On The Novel Approach I want to talk about how I write from my own experiences.

Do I have the same experiences as a gay man? Um, no, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have experiences that connect me to my characters because they are from human experiences. We are ALL HUMAN, gay or not, man or not. So these are typically what I mean when I say I am writing from my own experiences.

In the blurb, you’ll notice I reference Gummy Bears. (I’ll just add the blurb in here)

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What is a sexy soccer stud supposed to do when “following family tradition” falls 180 degrees opposite his closeted ideal?

From birth, Chris Jackson has been schooled on how to land a cheerleader. After all, his father married one, and his father’s father before him. Heck, even his older brother married a stereotypical cheerleader the summer before Chris went off to college. For two years, Chris dodges invasive questions about relationships by blaming his lack of female companionship on grueling practices and heavy coarse loads. But his lack of interest in girls should’ve given his family a clue. It isn’t until Chris mentions meeting a boy that his father’s synapses short-circuit.

Alonzo Martin is anything but a buxom blond. From his black hair, combat boots, and trench coat to his nail polish and guyliner, the mysterious introvert isn’t easily persuaded to date. Alonzo’s insecurities keep Chris at arm’s length, but Alonzo’s painful past might meet its match in the charismatic jock’s winning smile and sense of humor.

When opposites attract, only cheerleaders and gummy bears can help overcome fear and family tradition.

Buy Links: Dreamspinner Press || Amazon

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I added info about gummy bears because my son and his friend used to eat a LOT of gummy bears. They were actually the Haribo Gold-Bears, but when writing a book it is easier NOT to reference things that are trademarked, copyrighted, etc. You even have to look up gummy or gummi to know if it is capitalized and stuff as a registered trademark. So, keep in mind when you read the book, all references to gummy bears refer to actual Haribo Gold-Bears! My son determined they were the best tasting in all his gummy bear taste tests. In one scene, the lead character Chris refers to the smudge marks on his television and explains they were from a time when he and his best friend Doug threw gummy bears at the screen while playing Xbox. This happened in real life! My son did that and made a huge mess on his TV screen! He also had little bear bodies all over the carpet! So YES, whatever you do or say MAY end up in my novel! I also taste-tested them myself to determine the flavor I liked best! When you get to that scene, you’ll know. What Alonzo says is ME all the way!

Chris’s ability to toss gummy bears with accuracy is the same as what my son does with mini marshmallows!

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In the original JOCK, My Roommate’s a Jock? Well, Crap!, I had a self-indulgent moment when I wrote the one chapter from the mom’s POV. Some readers have said they don’t like it and don’t see the point of why it is even in the book, but you know what? –That’s me! I wrote my feelings of inadequacy into Ellis’s mom. She feels like a failure, and that she’s no longer needed in her son’s life. (Keep in mind I wrote this in 2012) I think it is a real and valid feeling when you have children to feel empty and excluded when they grow up and move on. My son was not Ellis’s age when I wrote the book, but the feelings were there. So I wrote how I felt.

Another scene from that book that came straight out of my life was Ellis’s broken leg. My son had the EXACT thing happen—the goalkeeper landed on his leg! AND the doctor moved it back and forth as if assessing it when it was clear as day it was broken. Just like Ellis, the bone was sticking up very obviously in two pieces. And just like Cole, I wanted to punch the doctor for touching my son! And the loopiness Ellis experiences in the hospital, yeah, that happened too, exactly!

In Misplaced Affection, Keith gets into a car accident. (Hopefully that doesn’t spoil too much.) I got the idea from an accident I witnessed, and I combined it with a description of an accident my husband was in. (Note: my husband never got hurt.)

Also, I have the exact tattoo Flynn gets in Misplaced Affection. I have a pride feather on my right ring finger. I described it from the feeling I had when getting another tattoo. The one on my leg felt like the electric turkey carver shaving off my muscles. My finger tattoo was not as bad as Flynn describes his. And the tattoo artist Tee, was my person J (Not named Tee. Her name began with a T.)

In the book The Cost of Loving I wrote my experiences with the church into his character. The way his mother lost all her friends—that happened to me. The way the pastor told Matt’s father to learn how to control his son—that happened to my husband. (“Learn how to control your wife”) Getting caught kissing another boy—Matt, not me—happened to a friend of mine who went to the same church way back then. He was spotted kissing another boy and WOW the things that got said.

Also in The Cost of Loving, Matt got into the EXACT car accident as I did. I described it exactly how I remember it happening. The tractor-trailer totaled my husband’s blue truck! I was only glad I wasn’t driving the Prius!

Darian Weston was a character in The Cost of Loving and When Love is Not Enough. The cutting scenes I wrote for him, I tried doing just that. Experimentally, not for real with self-harm in mind, but I DID put a razor to my skin and cut it to feel what it feels like. I wrote the experience into Darian in The Cost of Loving.

Nick and RC from Names Can Never Hurt Me went camping in the exact place I did! I also described the very BEST reptile show I’ve ever been to when I wrote the two of them going to Hamburg, PA. The Hamburg Reptile Show is a wonderful experience, even if you don’t buy reptiles. You see more on display there than ay zoo!

RC’s experience going to Knoebels Amusement park in Names Can Never Hurt Me was the exact experience I had when I went on that same ride. I wrote that scene as a memory of my father who died in 2011.

And Nick Jones from Names Can Never Hurt Me lived the life I had as a child/ young adult. I lived the Life of Riley. My parents spoiled me and I never needed anything. Not that they were rich, but they managed the money well and gave my brother and me everything they could. They were loving and supportive parents.

My dad LOVED James Bond. And when RC gets choked up listening to Nick sing “Nobody Does It Better, that is my mom singing it to my dad. It was HIS song! –Names Can Never Hurt Me

For the sake of talking forever, I think I’ll stop here. I think you get my point. I take scenes out of my own life experience. Not “gay” experiences, but LIFE experiences. This is what we have in common!

If you are around on TWITTER today, I will be taking over Dreamspinner’s account from 4:00pm-6:00pm EST. @dreamspinners  My regular handle is @WriterWadeKelly

Ta-Ta for Now,

~ Wade

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Giveaways

P.S. As a thank you I have several giveaways. Leave a comment on this blog for a chance to win an Amazon gift certificate. I am going to take all the names from all the comments from all the blog stops and put them in a drawing. I have 8 stops including this one. The more comments you make then higher your chances of winning. I will have 3 winners of a $10 Amazon gift certificate, and for those who comment on ALL 8 STOPS, I will enter each of them into a grand prize drawing good for:

  • An eBook from my backlist of your choice,
  • A $10 Amazon gift certificate,
  • A Wade Kelly Spoon in the colors of your choice :), and
  • One autographed paperback copy of the novel of their choice (Includes all the books in my back list, as well as JOCK 2 AND Bankers’ Hours coming up in March)

Note: I am willing to mail things to other countries so don’t let that stop you!

The links to the previous stop is BELOW:

Rainbow Gold Reviews

Jeff Adams

GGR for my cover reveal,

AND… and…. I did an interview with Jeff Adams for his and Will’s Pod Cast. You may like to check that out!

Again, Thank you for stopping by!

~Wade Kelly

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Screen Shot 2015-12-06 at 8.31.09 AMAuthor Bio: Wade Kelly lives and writes in conservative, small-town America on the east coast where it’s not easy to live free and open in one’s beliefs. Wade writes passionately about controversial issues and strives to make a difference by making people think. Wade does not have a background in writing or philosophy, but still draws from personal experience to ponder contentious subjects on paper. There is a lot of pain in the world and people need hope. When not writing, she is thinking about writing, and more than likely scribbling ideas on sticky notes in the car while playing “taxi driver” for her three children. She likes snakes, can’t spell, and has a tendency to make people cry.

Social LinksWeb || Facebook || Blog || Twitter || Dreamspinner Press

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The Fine Print:

*Entrants must be 18 years or older to qualify

*All comments must be relevant to the author’s prompt to be eligible (when applicable)

*The Novel Approach will not be held liable for prize delivery unless otherwise specified

*Void where prohibited by law

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Lissa Kasey

Guest Post and Excerpt: Thankfully a Great Year by Lissa Kasey

Cardinal Sins Banner

It’s almost Thanksgiving. Can you believe it? This year has gone so fast! I’m so thankful for all the amazing things that have happened this year. We could all use a little positive, right?

Two years ago I completed my first novel after a year long dry spell. It was a new dystopian sort of novel called Hidden Gem. There was a lot of dark angst in that book because I was in a dark time with my writing, and as a person I’m sort of dark and agnsty. I was not confident in the book because it was different than my normal quirky first person flawed character. But Hidden Gem sold remarkably well. Reviews were mostly good and people wanted more. So last year at this time, sales report in hand, I decided to begin the sequel.

Life often gets in the way, but after all of Jan and most of Feb this year sprinting with Lexi Ander, Cardinal Sins was finished at a whopping 105k. My longest book ever. I was feeling pretty good. Confident of the story, loving the characters, knowing where the next book would go. But my editor said, why not write the next one, already? I don’t usually, as my projects are fueled by the sales that give me time away from overtime and part time jobs to write the next book. And I’d just decided I’d be re-editing the Dominion series and self-publishing to make some changes that I’d wanted to for a while.

But I after finishing the edits on the first two Dominion novels, I did begin the new novel. In fact, just finished it in late Sept. Candy Land, a story about Candy, Jack, and Ivy in the Hidden Gem world tops out at just under 99K. Not as long as CS, but just as action packed. In the meantime, I also released Dominion book 3.

I’ve had an amazing year. Two brand new, super long novels, and three rereleased novels with at least 20k apiece added. And I’ve recently gotten sales reports for my first contemporary mystery, and the news is good. So I’m working on the next Model book, and editing Dominion 4 for release in late Jan.

Winter slows me down. I admit I’d much rather lay on the couch under a blanket when the days get short and cold. I’ve not done so hot for NaNo so far this year. And that’s okay.

The holidays are just a week or so away, and we all need to stop and look back. Why? Because it’s the only way to know if the direction we’ve been heading is the one we want to keep going. I’ve come to terms of late with the fact that I will never be as fast or prolific as some of my favorite authors. I just don’t write that fast. And that’s okay. It’s not a contest. The prize for being at the top is not a lifetime of paid bills (not in this genre). It’s about writing what’s true to me and pushing myself to the next challenge. I want people to read my novels and think “Wow, that was more than just fluff.”

That being said, if you’re looking for sunshine and rainbows it’s probably better to try another writer. While there is always a HFN ending to my books, there is often a lot of angst. I realized this year while I was at GRL battling a persistent migraine while trying to be cute and perky for everyone to like me that it’s just a lie. Nothing about me is cute or perky. That’s okay. I’m thankful to be who I am. Even if it doesn’t make me the center of the crowd or most favorite person in the world. We can’t all be the monkey in the middle.

So looking back over this amazing year, with the ups and downs and stress of real life thrown in, I’m so thankful to still be here. To be fighting another day, writing and reading another day. Not everyone gets that chance. Not everyone is as free as I am to make decisions like if I will write or share the next book. Or if I am even allowed to read something just for the sake of escape. I’m thankful for the readers, the fellow authors, editors, and publishing company who’ve helped support me. Thankful to my best friend and her unwavering support, and my mother and sister for letting me bake cookies for them on the weekends to help ease the anxiety.

I am hopeful for another year of success in writing, publishing, sales, stress management, and self-confidence. I will work harder at the last one as it’s the one I’m the worst at.

What about all of you? What are you thankful for? Take a moment before the madness of the holidays begin and think about it. Hug your family. Send your best friend/husband/lover/online pal a note of appreciation. Sometimes just hearing someone else is thankful for you is enough to brighten someone’s day.

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CardinalSins_FBprofile_OptizimedForFeedCheck out Cardinal Sins: Paris Hansworth, star whore turned senator and the most powerful man in City M, has been hiding his terminal illness for years. Searching for a way to reverse the toxic environment that’s killing him, Paris stumbles upon a lost research facility, and a merman named Rain.

Years alone have made Rain long for companionship, and the beautiful man on the other side of the glass intrigues him. But Rain speaks the wrong language, and is decades out of touch. He isn’t quite sure what to think of the new environment he’s been thrust into.

As a virus spreads through the city targeting City M’s most private residents—A-Ms—Paris realizes he’s out of time. He’s willing to sacrifice everything, even his own life, to stop it. But Rain might just be the missing DNA link to explain the mutations created in the last plague, maybe even the cure.

Watching Paris race to save his friends, Rain knows he’s found someone special and will do anything to stay by his side. But the past Paris thought he’d escaped is seeking revenge, and he’s forced to adapt yet again, possibly even becoming a monster. He only hopes Rain will still want him.

Buy Now linkDSP || Amazon || BN || All Romance Ebooks

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Since Cardinal Sins has just been released how about a sneak peek at Candy Land? (Please note Candy Land has not been professionally edited yet)

“Try to focus on control,” Paris told Aki.

Aki sighed, hating these lessons more and more every time. They sat in Aki and Shane’s living room practicing how to control the change. Paris had arrived that evening, after Aki had put him off for the tenth time, with an arm full of painter’s cloths, and a stern determination. Every object in the room that could be covered was covered to protect it from blood splatter. The last thing Aki wanted to do was change.

“I think if you can control it, you won’t bleed so much when it happens, and it won’t hurt,” Paris assured him.

If Aki had known that afternoon Paris planned to corner him, he would have insisted on accompanying Shane on errands in town despite the blowing snow and cold weather unseasonable for this time in March. Of course if Just Shoes updated their stock on Tuesdays instead of Fridays he’d have gone out anyway and perhaps missed his old master. He didn’t think he’d ever obtain the ease between his two forms that Paris or even Shane could. Something was just wrong with him. Maybe because he’d been made an AP instead of just evolving like the others had.

“Candy’s coming over tonight,” Aki protested. It was the first time in months they were getting a movie night together. Candy was overworked, and Aki had begged until he finally gave in. The many video chats they had each week just weren’t cutting it anymore. He needed his best friend, and he was looking forward to the quiet time. He suspected Ivy partially guilted Candy into the break as he seemed to have Candy wrapped around his fingers.

Paris tugged at Aki’s shirt. “Off, so it doesn’t get ruined. You might as well just strip.”

“But…”

“Strip,” Paris demanded in that no nonsense voice that was so ingrained in Aki’s head he couldn’t help but comply. He left on only his lacy undies. It was a nice pair, but not priceless. He tucked his shoes under a cushion beneath the tarp just in case and stood in apprehension waiting for his next order.

“We have plenty of time before Candy is done with a client.” Paris rubbed his hands together like this was going to be the easiest thing in the world. “We’ll work through the change once or twice, and get things cleaned up.”

If there was one thing Aki hated, it was pain. He’d spent years tortured in a psi concentration camp before finally escaping and finding his way North to the relative freedom he had now. He still feared that someday the ISS would show up on his doorstep to drag him off for more tests since he wasn’t exactly a normal psi. The years of torture, experimentation, and imprisonment had changed him. Left him with an ability to change. To become something not human. Was he really ever human? Shane assured him he was, but Aki didn’t know if his lover was just offering sweet lies or truly believed his insane DNA was just the normal evolution of nature.

Aki had wings—and claws. But he suspected it was the wings that Paris most wanted him to control. Releasing his wings always caused Aki pain. Usually so much so that he lost consciousness and often his memory for at least several hours afterward. And then there was his other self’s inclination toward violence. “Maybe we should wait for Shane. What if I hurt you?”

Paris held up his hands, which instantly turned to claws. “I’ll take the chance.” His control, as always, was perfect. “Now stop making excuses and concentrate. I want you to focus on each part of the change. Do one at a time and draw them back. We’ll work on the wings last. So focus on your hands first.

Aki sighed again. He’d just gotten a manicure yesterday and loved the sparkling blue gems pasted to his nails. Changing was sure to ruin them. Not that Paris cared. He wouldn’t care if Aki was a disheveled mess by the time Shane got home. Though Shane wasn’t usually put off by that either. He sort of liked seeing Aki mussed, debauched, and dirty. Well Aki could give him the first and the last. Shane would have to help with the second one.

He shut his eyes and tried to focus on his hands. Imagined they were claws, willed the sharp obsidian ends to do their thing and tear apart the delicate flesh of his fingers and reveal his ugly talons. Nothing happened. No pain, no feeling at all, and no change. He opened his eyes and frowned at his hands. “It’s not working. I think I have to be angry. Or at least have someone I care about in danger.” He could sometimes hold back the change if it started, but he’d never started a change without being really angry.

“Yeah, no. We’re not going that extreme. Last time you thought I hurt Shane you almost eviscerated me and half my guard and called a horde of shifted A-Ms to your side as soldiers. Try again. Focus on freeing yourself. Sort of like casting off the restraints. Let the other out, but with control.” Paris’ fangs appeared, large and terrifying with his eyes glowing luminescent green. “You work so hard to keep yourself closed off from everyone. How do you release your psi power? Can you do the same thing with the change?”

Aki thought for a moment about what it felt like to open himself to his power. He was post-cognizant. Had spent most of his life trying to avoid touching other people because his ability was amplified by touch. Using that power was a lot like breathing. He kept a leash on it, which muted the world around him of the colors and history that snaked from fading memories. The strongest memories were always the most painful, and of course the ones Aki wanted to see least.

He sucked in a deep breath and started with the release of his power. He blinked away the barriers and vivid brilliance erupted around him in their stark living room. There was almost a ghost version of Aki and Shane making love on the couch, and dancing green lights hovering around the kitchen counter where they often cooked together.

Along the wall near the door was a hook of just Shane’s things. There was darkness there. Like a shadow. Bad thoughts, memories, fear maybe. Aki never touched those things. Instead he stuck to the left of the door where the shoe rack was overflowing with bejeweled heels and glistening flats. The twenty-four cubed shelf only held the most commonly used of Aki’s shoes. Or the ones Shane preferred to see on him.

“Stop dreaming of shoes and change,” Paris ordered, somehow knowing Aki’s exact thoughts.

Aki groaned as the command broke through his calm, disrupting his control. The claws slid from his fingertips with a painful slow glide of hot pokers being shoved through his flesh. “Ah,” Aki cried, blood pouring over his hands.

“Try to control it. Pull them back,” Paris instructed. “Rain says it’s just a matter of will. Intense emotion can cause me to change, but I can control it. So can you.”

Rain was a merman. He could shift back and forth from a half-fish half-man thing to a full man with a speed and ease that Aki could never imagine attaining. But Rain had also been born what he was, not made. He’d had an entire lifetime to master the change.

Aki didn’t think he’d ever be that at ease. He clutched his hands into fists as much as his claws would allow. The pain a hot white stabbing through each finger, and every bone in his hand as they reshaped themselves.

“Candy is here,” Miles the computer system informed them.

“Send him up,” Paris told the computer.

Maybe Candy could put a stop to this, Aki hoped. No wonder he blacked out when he changed. It hurt. And the only thing that had changed was his hands. He wanted to cry.

“Reverse it, Aki. You can do it,” Paris assured him.

Only he couldn’t. The fire spread like acid had been released into his bloodstream, pouring from his hands into his arm, racing toward his back where the worst of the pain was yet to come. Aki gulped and struggled to mentally stop the change, shut down his power, anything.

“Whoa, are you two fighting again?” Candy’s asked as he stepped into the room.

“What the hell is going on?” Shane’s deep voice suddenly slammed through the pain and Aki shuddered. Shane was right behind Candy, his expression a mask of anger and worry. “Aki, stop!”

Only there was no stopping. Fire erupted down Aki’s back in a spider web of pain, and though he grappled with the idea of pulling them back, his wings flapped free in the usual flourish of gore and ripping agony. “Fuck!” Shane swore, but he was still across the room.

Aki dropped to one knee. The sudden weight of his wings was almost worse than the tearing of flesh that had freed them. How was he ever able to fly with these? Crap, he was still conscious too. Like him, not the other who liked to tear everyone apart. He sucked in large breaths hoping the pain would ease, but spots were beginning to dot out his sight. His temple gave a warning throb of the headache to come. That couldn’t be good.

“What are you doing?” Shane demanded of Paris.

“Aki?” Candy whispered. He was close now. “Can you hear me?”

Aki nodded. “Sorry, hurts,” he slurred.

“Paris shouldn’t be pushing you this hard. You’d probably learn better from Rain. It’s like pushing a baby bird off a high rise and assuming it will fly.” He glared at Paris who was arguing with Shane.

Aki dropped to his other knee. Goddess, the wings were so heavy like this. They stretched and he teetered. How did he control them? Every movement of his back made them twitch and pull, tearing at the barely healing skin around where his spine met the boney arch of his wings. He ground his teeth together trying to hold on to consciousness despite the pain. Shane was strong. He could hold Aki back if the other awoke. Paris probably could too, but Aki didn’t want to lose more hours.

Candy gripped his arm, steadying him but also plunging him into a vision of Candy gasping for breath while blood filled his lungs. Aki screamed as Candy’s horrific death played out before his eyes. He saw claws jutting from Candy’s chest, blood pouring from his lips, eyes wide with shock. He was reaching for someone. And then he was suddenly on a hospital bed with Paris standing over him, a grim look on his face. Paris raised his own razor-sharp claws, covered in blood. Aki struggled to stamp down the power, step free of it as Dr. Vitoric had taught him. Breathe, he reprimanded himself. He’d never seen so deeply in Candy’s head before. Always before there had been a barrier. Why now? And why this?

His sight cleared to little more than a foggy, red-filled haze. Aki was breathing fast, but couldn’t seem to catch a full breath. “Shh,” Candy told him. “It’s okay.” Candy’s arms wrapped around him, careful of the wings. He probably thought he was bringing Aki the familiar peace of candy-colored clouds, only instead of calm there was horror. Aki could see Paris across the room, and Shane now beside him.

“You killed Candy!” Aki accused Paris, the memory vivid in his head.

Shane took Candy’s place and yanked Aki into his strong embrace of warmth and the scent of peppermint. “Candy’s fine. He’s right here.” He pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket and held it to Aki’s nose. Of course he was bleeding again. Always with the nightmares came a rain of blood. “Candy is right here.”

And he was. For now. Aki’s wings vanished leaving a bloody splash of stained feathers, and toppling him forward when the weight disappeared. Shane held and rocked him as Aki cried. Blood trickled from his nose, slowing. He looked over Candy, who had changed so much since Bart’s death. The dyed dark hair, suits, and added height wasn’t exactly what Aki had seen in the vision. Candy’s hair had been colored, clothes brighter, but he didn’t look all that different. Aki was sure it wasn’t the past. What he had seen was the very near future.

He reached for Candy and when Candy was close enough, pulled him into his arms as tightly as he could. Across the room Paris stood with his arms across his chest, expression thoughtful, but worried. He should be worried. If he hurt Candy, Aki would kill him. Even if Paris was a good friend and his former master. Aki could only hope he was wrong. After all, how often did he see the future?

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Cecilia Tan

Guest Post: The Daron’s Guitar Chronicles (Volume Eight) Tour with Cecilia Tan

Daron

Today I’m so pleased to welcome Cecilia Tan and the Daron’s Guitar Chronicles blog tour to The Novel Approach. Daron and this series have quickly become an all-time fave of mine, so enjoy Cecilia’s post and the excerpt too!

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Not-So-Historical Romance: Writing the 1980s

by Cecilia Tan

My long-running series Daron’s Guitar Chronicles carries the tag line “coming out and coming of age in the 1980s.” We joke that it’s “historical romance,” but actually it’s sometimes as more challenging to get the settings and details right in a 1980s romance as it is in the Regency.

For one thing, it’s challenging because a lot of us are still alive to remember it, so if I get something wrong, someone is bound to call me on it! I use many real venues and locations in the book, from Madison Square Garden to small underground clubs, restaurants, bookstores, in cities like Boston, New York, and San Francisco. The difficulty is upped by the fact that Daron’s Guitar Chronicles, following the life and times of a rock musician, sometimes changes setting every chapter. When Daron is on tour, it’s a new city and new venue every day. A huge number of the arenas and music venues that stood in the 1980s are gone now and sometimes Wikipedia is the only trace online I can find of them.

Another thing that’s tricky to handle is technology. The current book, volume eight, takes place in 1991. Some of the characters have pagers and one or two have “car phones” but no one has a mobile phone like we’re used to today. Most of them don’t have email yet.

And the music industry is quite different. MTV is still playing music videos at that point. There are dozens of music magazines in the US and the UK that are gone now. We still have Spin and Rolling Stone, but gone are Musician, Blender, Standing Ovation, BuZZ, The Face, Melody Maker, and many others. The only path to fame was through the major labels and radio stations were owned and operated locally, instead of being run by giant national conglomerates. Same for concert venues.

It was, in short, a different world. The biggest thing that has changed, though, that is really central to the story, is LGBT rights and the visibility of openly gay celebrities. The environment in which Daron is trying to succeed as a rock musician and come to terms with his own sexuality is drastically different. Hysteria and paranoia over AIDS are peaking during the years the story takes place. Volume Eight, which released this week, takes place in 1991, two years before Tom Hanks starred in the movie Philadelphia, five years before the musical Rent reached Broadway, and six years before Ellen came out.

The other big challenge for me as I write the volumes is that time in the series moves forward. What started in 1986 in Volume One is now in 1991 in Volume Eight and I have to keep track of all kinds of news events and societal changes that will impact Daron. 1991 is a crucial year in which the music industry has hit a particularly stagnant period and US politics are in the 10th consecutive year of Republican presidency (two terms of Reagan, and then Bush the First). Freddie Mercury is still alive (but not for long) and Nirvana and the rest of the grunge scene are still unknown (but not for long). Both those events will be noted in Daron’s world.

I’m sure there are things I missed, too, but I hope when people read the books they feel immersed in Daron’s life, not only the tour buses and backstage green rooms, but the closet and Daron’s struggle to kick open the closet door. Fortunately, nothing can keep love down forever, not in my books, anyway!

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Daron's Guitar Chronicles 8Blurb: Sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Coming out and coming of age in the days of AIDS, MTV, Reaganomics, and Just Say No.  Winner of the Rose and Bay Award for Crowdfunded Fiction!

Daron Marks is a young guitar player with a dream, make it big like the guys he grew up idolizing in New Jersey–or at least escape his dysfunctional family. He makes it as far as music school in Rhode Island, and the rock clubs of Boston beckon him. But it’s hard to succeed from the closet.  A story of how finding one’s self is key to finding love, and loving one’s self is key to loving another.

Buy LinksAmazon (Kindle) || B&N || KOBO

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ExcerptIn this excerpt, Daron’s in a hotel in New York City. It’s Christmas time, and Daron knows Ziggy’s in New York, too. They had a brief encounter the night before and Ziggy slipped his pager number into Daron’s pocket. It’s almost six in the morning and Daron’s been awake all night when he gives in and pages Ziggy:

The phone rang gratifyingly quickly. “Hey. I guess you’re not sleeping either.”

“I’m on West Coast time,” Ziggy said. “Where it’s only three in the morning.”

“Uh huh,” I said, unconvinced.

We sat there in uncomfortable silence for a few minutes. I was the one who had paged him, so was it on me to say something? But he was the one who put the “call me” message into my pocket, so….

“Maybe we should get together to talk,” I finally said.

“Can you get away from your family?” he asked.

“For a couple of hours, no one’ll miss me,” I said. “But I wanted to ask what you’re doing for the holiday tonight. Tomorrow. No pressure, but you could join us here.”

“Daron, how should I put this…” He breathed, and I imagined him sighing with his eyes closed. “Your group there is kind of overwhelming. I’m not good with crowds.”

“I never thought I’d hear you say that.”

“You know what I mean.”

“Actually, I don’t. Explain it? I’m listening.” I lay back to listen.

“I mean, I’m fine with crowds if I’m the center of attention. But I don’t want to be—and shouldn’t be—the center of attention at your chosen family’s gathering.”

“Why shouldn’t you be? You outshine everyone in any room you walk into.” This room felt like it was spinning slightly. I had definitely drunk more than usual.

“Like there’s a spotlight on me?”

“Like you’re a star that fell out of heaven. Ziggy, you’re the most gorgeous human being I’ve ever laid eyes on, and that’s as true today as it was that day in the park.”

“You’re drunk.”

“I’m telling the truth.”

“Because you’re drunk.”

“Because I’ve been to therapy. And I’ve realized there are a lot of things I could have been saying that I haven’t been.” I thought about what Bart had said, that maybe me being forthright and truthful about my feelings was actually scary to Ziggy. If so, I was probably freaking him out completely right now. “Am I freaking you out? I’m not trying to. I just… have this thing about the truth.”

“Uh huh,” he said cautiously. “And if the truth is… it’s too late?”

“Then tell me to go fuck myself: break my heart and send me on my fucking way.”

“Whoa. Whoa.” There was a kind of long silence while I guess he tried to figure out what to say to that. Or got himself together. I don’t know which. “I didn’t mean it like that.”

“It’s worth asking, isn’t it? Is it too late, Zig?” It felt crazy-good that I could send him spinning by speaking so baldly. Of course, the only reason it didn’t hurt like fuck to say was because alcohol had numbed me so much at that point. “Did I wait too long to tell you I loved you? Is it just fucking tragic when I say it?”

“Okay, you know what? I want to make a rule. No saying ‘I love you’ over the phone.”

“You don’t want me to tell you I love you?”

“On the phone. Seriously. I’m coming over there and then you can say it to my face.”

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Cecilia TanAbout the Author: Cecilia Tan is “simply one of the most important writers, editors, and innovators in contemporary American erotic literature,” according to Susie Bright. RT Magazine awarded her Career Achievement in Erotic Romance in 2015 and their prestigious Pioneer Award. Tan’s BDSM romance novel Slow Surrender (Hachette/Forever, 2013) also won the RT Reviewers Choice Award in Erotic Romance and the Maggie Award for Excellence from the Georgia Romance Writers chapter of RWA. She lives in the Boston area with her lifelong partner corwin and three cats.

Website || Facebook || Twitter

 

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Giveaways, Jenna Rose, Katey Hawthorne

Guest Post and Giveaway: Praeternatural Worldbuilding by Jenna Rose and Katey Hawthorne

blog tour

We’re so pleased to have the writing team of Jenna Rose and Katey Hawthorne with us to day on their Kanaan & Tilney blog tour. Enjoy their guest post, then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for the chance to win one of four e-copies of Kanaan & Tilney: The Case of the Arms Dealers.

Good luck!

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The praeternatural world that Lowell Kanaan and John Tilney inhabit is, to put it bluntly, complicated. With maybe a hundred possible superhuman abilities divided into five different, occasionally arguing ‘factions’, things are already messy. Keeping it on the downlow from the mundane world–our world–makes things even more complex.

Which is, of course, one of the most fun things about writing Kanaan & Tilney. They’re both praeternaturals, but Lowell Kanaan is a shifter–wolf, specifically–and John Tilney is a pyrokinetic. That puts them in the Beast and Elementalist factions, respectively… and those factions do not get along so well, historically. As in they kind of blame each other for some of the major praeternatural-caused disasters in history.

Beasts aren’t quite the bottom of the social hierarchy, but they’re close, according to many of the other factions. At their finest, they’re ideal protectors and loyal friends; at their worst, they can lose what makes them human to what makes them, well, animal. Think Bigfoot. Yeah, that Bigfoot. Personally, we (the authors) tend to think they’re the best, but the other praeternatural factions often associate them with brutishness, citing their animal abilities and instincts.

Soooo not true.

Elementalists like to think they’re the mirror opposite, but they’re totally not. They control various elements, throwing stone or lightning, which means they get a bit uppity about being ‘higher’ magic, sometimes. Problem there is, there’s a lot of chaos going around in the elements, and imposing order on them can get to be a little much–as in do your head in. So who’s giving way to baser instincts now, huh? As in, you know, sinking Atlantis and burning down the Library of Alexandria?

Yeah, that’s what we thought.

So, as you can imagine, we had a lot of fun with both the powers within our five factions, plus the weird politics, history, and cultural for them all. And that’s not even getting into the Terrans, Necromorphs, and Psychogenics, because we’ll be here all day–and seeing as it’s release day, prrrrobably not a great idea. But the point is, we love worldbuilding, and the worldbuilding for Kanaan & Tilney? So much fun, there’s gonna be more of them, that’s for sure.

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JR_KW_kanaan and tilney_coverinBLURB for Kanaan & Tilney: The Case of the Arms Dealers: John Tilney–praeternatural pyrokinetic and mystery author–has noticed the bottom dropping out of the market for his usual gothic fare, so he goes to Lowell Kanaan, PI, for a crash course in noir. Lowell, the cranky wolf-shifter detective, isn’t sure why he agrees to let John shadow him–though it might have something to do with John’s weirdly endearing honesty… and pretty lips. John thinks he’s found the perfect detective novel hero in Lowell, but it isn’t long before he realizes he doesn’t want Lowell for his book, but for himself.

As they become entangled in a supernatural whodunnit involving the Zombie Mafia, black market body parts, and shady insurance deals, their partnership grows closer–and hotter. But when it comes down to the wire, Lowell’s wolfy protective side threatens to drive John around the bend, or at least out of the office. Good thing John’s as much sunshine as he is fire; hopefully it’s enough to help them catch a murderer before they end up in literal pieces, too.

Find out more about Kanaan & Tilney HERE

Buy Link: Loose Id

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Author BioBios:

Jenna Rose is an avid reader and writer, particularly when it comes to science-fiction and fantasy. Currently, she works as a receptionist, but her real love is writing. In her free time, she likes to read comic books, play video games, and waste time on the internet. She currently lives in Massachusetts with her dog, Harley.

Website || Tumblr

Katey Hawthorne is an avid reader and writer of superpowered romance, even though the only degree she holds is in the history of art. (Or, possibly, because the only degree she holds is in the history of art.) Originally from the Appalachian foothills of West Virginia, she currently lives in Ohio. In her spare time she enjoys comic books, B-movies, loud music, Epiphones, and Bushmills.

Website || Tumblr || Twitter

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THE GIVEAWAY

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Piper Vaughn

Guest Post: Welcome to Our Gayborhood by Piper Vaughn

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Thanks so much to The Novel Approach for having me today! Since I’m kicking off our mini blog tour, I thought I’d talk about the Heartsville series and how it came into fruition.

As a reader, I love to read a range of book lengths—everything from 9-page short stories to epic fantasy tomes. At the end of the day it’s really dependent on my mood. Sometimes I want something quick that I can breeze through in a spare half hour, and sometimes I’m willing to invest a bunch of hours (or days) into my reading experience.

As an author, I enjoy writing this way as well. I’ve written everything from 1000-word flash fics to novels that are nearly 100K long, but I think my happy place when writing novellas is somewhere between 15-40K.

I’d been wanting to create a collaborative city/neighborhood with other authors for quite some time. Finally, a few months back, I approached Nico Jaye to ask if she might want to be involved—since we’d already discussed potentially co-writing in the future. For this project, I wanted us each to write our own stories but set in the same town and with some of the characters from the other books making cameos. Nico agreed, and between the two of us, we approached a few other authors to gauge interest.

We had the idea that it’d be fun to release one story a day over the span of a workweek, so we decided five authors total would be a good number, and that’s how Jayden Brooks, J.H. Knight, and Cate Ashwood joined us.

Our goal with this series is what I like to call fluff-and-smut. (Nico would say “smuff,” which I also love.) Basically, we aimed for sweet, light, and sexy. We wanted to make people smile, and maybe laugh, and hopefully create enough chemistry between our menfolk to have readers fanning themselves. ;) We hope we accomplished that goal. In my (admittedly biased) opinion, having read the other stories, I think we hit our mark. :D And if readers enjoy these novellas, we’re also planning to do a summer set, so keep an eye out for those!

All the stories in the Heartsville series fall between the 19-23K range. They can all be read as standalones, and the order isn’t important, but for a more enjoyable reading experience, we’d recommend reading them all.

It’s a beautiful day in the gayborhood, friends.

Lots of love!

~Piper

DividersHeartsville

Welcome to the gayborhood! In the cozy town of Heartsville, the streets are lined with trees, the shops are full of friendly faces, and happily ever after is just around the corner. Come get to know the boys next door—naughty, nice, and everything in between. 

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To save his bookstore from closing, Mark Werner realizes it’s going to take a miracle—like getting reclusive, best-selling author Shepherd Knight to agree to appear for a signing. 

After their disastrous last encounter, Mark doesn’t hold up much hope Shepherd will agree. Shepherd’s never made a single public appearance. In fact, Mark wouldn’t even know what he looks like had he not accidentally discovered the sexy stranger he’d been flirting with for months, aka “Tall-Dark-and-Grumpy,” was also his fanboy obsession. 

But desperate times call for desperate measures. If Mark can convince Shepherd, it’ll be a major coup in the book world and might just save Bookmarked from sinking. Too bad Shepherd won’t reply to his e-mails. Yet Mark didn’t earn the reputation of having a “sunshine-and-rainbow-fart” personality for nothing. He’ll do whatever it takes to get his man… and hopefully not make a fool of himself in the process. 

 hearstville sale

Order now for $0.99 each – limited time only! As of next week, the prices will go up to their normal $2.99 each.

Bookmarked by Piper Vaughn – Oct. 26

Buy links: Amazon, ARe, Kobo

Unscripted by Nico Jaye – Oct. 27

Buy links: Amazon, ARe

Another Shot by J.H. Knight – Oct. 28

Buy links: Amazon, ARe

Clique by Jayden Brooks – Oct. 29

Buy links: Amazon, ARe, Kobo

Bloom Box by Cate Ashwood – Oct. 30

Buy links: Amazon, ARe

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Author BioBio: Piper Vaughn wrote her first love story at eleven and never looked back. Since then, she’s known that writing in some form was exactly what she wanted to do. A reader at the core, Piper loves nothing more than getting lost in a great book—fantasy, young adult, romance, she loves them all (and has a two-thousand-book library to prove it!). She grew up in Chicago, in an ethnically diverse neighborhood, and loves to put faces and characters of every ethnicity in her stories, so her fictional worlds are as colorful as the real one. Above all, she believes that everyone needs a little true love in their life… even if it’s only in a book. 

Visit Piper at: Website || Facebook || Twitter || Google+

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Thianna D

Guest Post: Discovery (Drakyl Ranch: Book One) by Thianna Durston

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Cowboys, Drakyl, Vampyr…and Things That Go Bump in the Night

In Montana there’s a ranch you might want to steer clear of. The men there are nice enough, especially the younger cousins, but these cowboys have a bit of a secret. They aren’t quite human. Have your attention? Humans, see, live blissfully unaware of a paranormal realm that exists beside our own. The cowboys at Drakyl Ranch did too. Once. Until they started to change. And gained a taste for human blood.

Welcome to my world where cowboys and vampires collide in interesting ways. To be honest, when I first even heard the idea of writing a vampire/cowboy romance, I giggled myself silly. Until the Plot Bunny hit five seconds later. The character Aaron began chatting in my head about being tired of his sickness, so tired of being allergic to the sun. And that’s how it all started.

I knew, of course, of the basic rules of vampirism:

  1. Can’t go into the sun or they fry
  2. They drink human blood
  3. Deathly pale
  4. Wooden stake to the heart can kill them
  5. Depending on which lore you look at either silver is deadly to them, or it’s the fact the silver is in the shape of a cross that is deadly to them.

But beside those rules, vampire lore goes a bit crazy. You have some people in history that would actually bury bodies face down with the belief that if the dead had been infected as a vampire, that they wouldn’t realize they were digging their way deeper underground when they tried to get out of their casket. You also have some of the newest lore – like Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight vamps who sparkle in the sun.

Let me set this straight. Neither my vampyr nor my drakyl sparkle. And yes, I have two different types. Why? When you’re creating a new set of vampires, you have to think of the wheres, the whats, and the whys. Where can they go, what happens when they get there, and why does this new lore work? My drakyl, once they begin to turn are slaves to the moon. The sun, even before they turn completely, can give them a third degree burn. In many ways, they are allergic to the sun’s rays. This fits into the first vampire lore that mostly seems to have come from the beginning. Plus, it made sense to me that drakyl, vampyr-like creatures that are born human and through a strand of DNA turn into drakyl at around 20 years of age, might be a little more humane, more adept at acting human, though they have to also adapt to having some vampyric traits.

Do they drink blood? Yes. And they aren’t embarrassed about it. Well, Aaron tries to fight his desire for it – thank goodness for blood banks.

Their skin is incredibly pale, but if well fed (human blood especially), their skin can be a pale ivory.

Now, as for the wooden stake to the heart… I have never been able to buy into that one. The undead, it seems to me, would have hardy skin that would be hard to punch a stake through. Besides, the whole sleep in a casket thing is very much for old-lore vampirism wherein the vampire has to sleep in the dirt they were buried in during the day or they would poof and die. My drakyl sleep in beds. Their skin does harden, but especially their veins when they change. The only thing that can bust through their veins is iron and the only thing that can kill them besides the sun is silver.

I love the juxtaposition of creatures who have to live off the blood of others still being quite humane as the drakyl at Drakyl Ranch are.

But for those who are disappointed I left the evilness of vampire behind. Never fear. The drakyl have an enemy, the vampyr. True vampire-like creatures, they are made through death and poison, tortured into their undead state. They reek and have lost their teeth over time, their entire bodies stinking of rot. Vampyr live for three things: to drink blood, to attack and take over, and to murder drakyl.

Welcome to Drakyl Ranch where my drakyl cowboys somehow manage to find their Joined, their forever companion, even with vampyr attacking any chance they can get.

~Thianna Durston

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Discovery-Customdesign-Jayaheer2015-smallpreviewBlurbAaron thought he was dying, Jaret showed him how to live.
Now the only thing standing between them and forever
is an ancient enemy set on their annihilation.

Living in Montana and working the ranch is all Aaron wants to do for the rest of his life. Diagnosed as allergic to the sun thirteen years previous, every day is a struggle to get out of bed. Having to wear long-sleeved shirts, gloves, and even material to cover his face from the effects of the sun, just makes it all worse. Now, in his thirty-second year, he is sure this will be his last summer. While he hates it, he knows he needs to come to terms with the truth and put things in order for his younger cousins. Before he does so, he heads out for one night of pleasure before facing what’s coming.

Jaret loves excitement and new adventures. For over five hundred years, he has sought them out. In Montana on a whim, he comes across someone he doesn’t expect, someone who makes him feel things he does not understand and does not want to give up. In no time at all, he feels like he cannot live without Aaron. The only problem is Aaron doesn’t know who he is, what he is, nor that he isn’t going to die. Not on Jaret’s watch. With a plan to help the other man discover who he is in place, he only has one thing to worry about: whether an ancient enemy will come and destroy everything he now holds dear.

Warning: This book is a paranormal m/m romance with some horror elements. It also crosses cowboy and vampire genres. If you don’t think cowboys look hot with fangs, you’re missing out.

Buy Links: Amazon || Barnes & Noble

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Author BioAuthor Bio: Thianna Durston is a writer by day and supernova by night. Or at least that’s what the faeries tell her. And who is she to deny those pesky *cough* lovely little creatures?

She lives in the Pacific Northwest, though her heart belongs elsewhere. In the meantime, until she can return to the place she calls home, she happily lives in a city that still thinks it’s a small town. Thankfully, it has given her muse lots of amusing places to start a story.

You can find her at: Thianna’s Website || Thianna’s Blog || Facebook Author Page || Twitter || Google+ || Goodreads

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Jo Ramsey

Guest Post and Excerpt: Work Boots and Tees by Jo Ramsey

Jo Ramsey Banner

Today we’re pleased to have author Jo Ramsey here to talk a bit about her new Harmony Ink Press novel Work Boots and Tees, book five in the Dark Secrets and Hope series.

For those readers who may be sensitive to the topic, please be advised that Jo’s blog post broaches the subject of sexual assault in a non-explicit manner.

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When I started writing Work Boots and Tees, book five in my Deep Secrets and Hope series from Harmony Ink Press, I heard some very negative feedback about the idea from other authors. Especially those who had experienced sexual assault or other trauma.

I understand their point of view. I’m a sexual assault survivor myself. And Jim Frankel, the main character of Work Boots and Tees… well, if you’ve read the rest of the series, you know who he is. The bully who sent Evan Granger to the emergency room in Nail Polish and Feathers. The mastermind behind the plan to out Guillermo Garcia in Shoulder Pads and Flannel. And, worst of all, the guy who, as revealed at the end of Shoulder Pads and Flannel, sexually assaulted Chastaine Rollo and another girl, each of whom he was dating at the time. Both times, it was a case of Jim believing he had the girl’s consent because she hadn’t said no; both times, the girl went along with it because she was afraid of what Jim might do if she said no. And that means that both times, Jim committed a crime.

Jim has definitely done some seriously horrible things. No question about that. His bullying of Evan—and others—went on for years before he attacked Evan so severely. And there is never an excuse not to seek consent from a sexual partner. In Work Boots and Tees, I make no attempt to excuse anything Jim has done, but I do show reasons. And I do show Jim trying to start his life over in a new state, living with a cousin he didn’t know existed, after serving time for what he did to Chastaine and Maryellen, while coping with the belief that because of what he did to the girls, he is no better than the man who repeatedly molested him as a child.

Jim is sixteen and for ten years has been dealing with the aftermath of abuse that he hasn’t told anyone about, and the realization that he’s gay has caused him to question, and feel guilty about, whether he enjoyed the abuse. Again, his past trauma does not excuse what he’s done to others, and Jim would be the first to say so. On the other hand, he has a lot of life ahead of him. He knows what he’s done, and he wants to pay for it. Having worked with boys like Jim during my time as a teacher, I have a hard time denying the possibility of redemption for someone who desperately wants it and strives for it.

And that’s why I wrote this book.

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Work Boots and Tees-200Work Boots and Tees Blurb: When Jim Frankel looks in the mirror, he doesn’t see a sixteen-year-old boy. He sees a monster.

Weeks after being released from a month in juvenile detention, Jim is still trying to come to terms with the realization that he sexually assaulted two girls. He believed everything was consensual—until the day he was arrested. Now he’s served his time as far as the law is concerned, but nothing will erase Jim’s knowledge that he’s no better than the man who molested him at age six.

With his parents unwilling to take him in, Jim moves from Massachusetts to Michigan to live with Delia, his father’s cousin. She offers him a home, a job, and a chance at a new start. Jim spends his time helping Delia at her art supply shop and trying to avoid anyone who might have somehow learned of his crime. When Jim meets Man-Shik Park, he can’t accept Manny’s friendship. But Jim’s attempt to push Manny away might lead to the end of his new life before it’s even begun.

Work Boots and Tees is now available from Harmony Ink Press and through third-party retail sites in both print and e-book formats.

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Excerpt: One of the guys who remained came over to the counter carrying a sketchbook and a package of charcoal sticks. He was skinny and a lot shorter than me, with black hair and brown eyes. He looked Asian, but I couldn’t guess which country.

“Hello.” He put down the book and package and studied me.

I looked down at the stuff. “Is this all today?”

“I ordered some sketching pencils last week.” He smiled. “Manny Park. Delia said she’d hold them for me when they came in.”

“She’s out back.” I hesitated. With him standing right there, I couldn’t exactly walk away from the register. Not without pissing Delia off again. “Um….”

Delia came out of the back room, saving me from having to figure out what to do. “Hi, Manny. Your pencils were supposed to be in yesterday’s shipment, but I didn’t see them. I’ll contact the company and find out if they’re on back order.”

“Thank you. No hurry.” Manny looked at me again. “You’re new?”

“This is my nephew Jim.” Delia walked over to me. “He’s living with me now, so I put him to work. Jim, this is Manny Park, one of the town’s best artists.”

Manny’s cheeks reddened. “I just enjoy drawing. Jim, it’s nice to meet you. I haven’t seen you at school, have I?”

“I don’t go to school,” I mumbled, staring at the sketchbook cover. “Nice to meet you too.”

“I’ll ring up Manny’s stuff,” Delia said. “Go ahead out back.”

I walked away feeling like an idiot. Manny wasn’t even close to intimidating, but something about him made me nervous as hell.

Maybe it was the fact that I’d noticed he was good-looking. Kind of cute in a geeky way. I refused to think that way about any guy, which meant I probably shouldn’t be around Manny too much.

I didn’t have anything to do in the back room, so I sat at Delia’s desk and stared at the wall. I really wanted to figure out how to get a tablet or smartphone so I’d have something to do at the shop. Being with Delia was better than sitting alone in the trailer with only the TV for company, but when I had nothing to keep me busy, my brain started going off.

Between the whole thing with the pencils that morning and the stuff I’d brought up with Terry, I had to have a way to shut down my thoughts so I wouldn’t completely lose it.

“Are you okay?” Delia said from the doorway.

Heart racing, I jumped. I should have seen her walk into the room. I was facing the damn curtain. But until she spoke, I hadn’t even noticed her. “Don’t sneak up on me. Um, please.”

“Sorry.” She walked over to the desk. “You were pretty shaky earlier. Did something happen?”

“I had therapy.” If she assumed I was upset about what I’d said to Terry, she might not try to make me talk.

“I’m aware.” She paused. “How did it go?”

“I had a different therapist this time. I like her better than the guy. I actually talked to her, so I guess that’s good, right?”

“Yes, it is. You must have gotten into some tough subjects?”

“My life is a tough subject,” I muttered. “I don’t want to talk about it. I’m in therapy so you don’t have to listen to all my crap, right?”

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Author BioAbout the Author: Jo Ramsey is a former special education teacher who now writes full time. She firmly believes that everyone has it in them to be a hero, whether to others or in their own lives, and she tries to write books that encourage teens to be themselves and make a difference. Jo has been writing since age five and has been writing young adult fiction since she was a teen herself; her first YA book was published in 2010. She lives in Massachusetts with her two daughters, her husband, and two cats, one of whom likes to read over her shoulder.

To find out more about Jo Ramsey and her books, please visit her website, joramsey.com.

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Giveaways, Lex Chase

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Bayou Fairy Tale Blog Tour With Lex Chase

Hello everyone! I’m Lex Chase, and I want to give a huge thank you to Lisa for hosting me today. Right now she’s getting ready for GayRomLit, and my butt is staying home.

Today, I’m here to talk about Bayou Fairy Tale, the long awaited sequel to Americana Fairy Tale. It’s only been a year and a *coughcouplemonthscough!* But the wait is over! Taylor, Corentin, and Ringo are back! And I have a couple goodies for you today. Enjoy Taylor’s character profile, which should catch you up on our tale so far!

Everyone’s writing process is different. Mine is I almost always write with music going. Film scores, vocals, whatever. I form playlists for my different books, and even further divide it by character pairings. I have a million of ’em. I also like my stuff loud, full of bass, and a hell of a beat. I used to make playlists for blogs that were mostly instrumental and kind of light and almost a bit tame. Now, I’m getting real with stuff I actually listen to.

So, I’m sharing a bit of a sampling from playlist of The Screw-Up Princess and Skillful Huntsman. I chose two songs for each character. One song for what they’d listen to, and one I associate with them.

Taylor is up first with an eerie cover of “Once Upon A Dream” from Sleeping Beauty. Because. Seriously. His next track is “Champion Sound” by Ill Factor. And omg, it’s pretty freaking epic over headphones. The lyrics are very Taylor, how he started from the bottom, and he’ll push until he’s broken to make it to the top. He’d definitely stomp around and headbang. Try to dance and look super dumb doing it.

Atticus is next with a rocking male cover of “Let It Go” from Frozen. Yeah. Yeah. The song you’ll never get out of your head. But this is a version you want in you head. And is sooooo Atticus. Following that is “The Noose” by A Perfect Circle. A song I always associate with him and his fall from grace. How his perfect halo slipped to choke him on darkness. And I apparently live in the 90s.

Corentin follows and he’s totally an old country and classic rock guy. He withers at the idea of showtunes. Johnny Cash’s “God’s Gunna Cut You Down” which is something Corentin would know all the words to, and he’d associate with himself. The other is specifically I chose for his point in Bayou Fairy Tale with “Free” by VAST. His curse is still a major issue and he’s at the point that no one can tell him what to do anymore. He’s going to be who he wants to be. And I still live in the 90s.

Finally, there’s Idi. Aaaaah Idi. Sweet Idi. So what he’s the Witchking and the embodiment of pure evil. He’s still likeable, right? Yeah? For him we go suuuper dark. We have “Seven Devils” by Florence + The Machine and this is one of my favorite songs. Totally a crank it on the headphones or in the car song. And then we have Nine Inch Nails with “The Day The World Went Away.” Nine Inch Nails is noisy but sometimes you need the raw sound to channel those emotions. And I fucking love the 90s. What can I say.

But what about Ringo? Taylor’s quirky fairy godfather that keeps things light and is always there with the perfect zinger! Have a bonus! We have “Stuck in the Middle” with Stealers Wheel, which is the epitome of Ringo stuck with Taylor and Corentin in their absurd situations. And then totally “Hooked on a Feeling” by Blue Swede. He did kind of sing it in Americana Fairy Tale. This would be his sing it as loud as possible in the shower song.

Now it’s your turn to tell me who is one of your favorite musical artists and why? I’m always on the hunt for new music! Comment below and don’t forget to record your entry on the giveaway widget!


Genre: Urban Fantasy Fairy Tale
Series: The Screw-Up Princess and Skillful Huntsman Trilogy: Book Two (A Fairy Tales of the Open Road Novel)
Length: Novel
Published: October 19, 2015
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
ISBN: 978-1-62798-499-7
Buy: Paperback or eBook

Blurb:
Modern day fairy tale princess Taylor Hatfield has problems. One: hes a guy. Two: hes Sleeping Beauty, the most useless princess in existence. Throw in his true love, Corentin Devereaux, a huntsman descended from child-eating witches, and Taylors younger brother, Atticusthis generations Snow Whitewho tried to kill him. That didnt go so hot.

For two years, Taylor and Corentin live their Happily Ever After. But Corentins cursed to lose his memory every seven days, including his life with Taylora painful reminder that he cant provide for the man he loves. Taylor insists Corentin has the strength to succeed, and when Taylor discovers a way to break the curse, he is more than willing to pay the cost.

When an enchanted blizzard devastates Corentins hometown of New Orleans, Taylor is convinced Atticus is to blame and grows desperate to find him amidst the Big Easy turned frozen wasteland. Corentin believes Taylor is chasing a ghost while he chases the ghosts of his own past. Old tensions scratch open scars, leaving both to wonder if they have each others best interests at heart. The clock is ticking until Corentin loses his memory, and the rabbit hole goes so deep they may never come out.


About the Author:

madison_parker_MG_4269-WEBLex Chase once heard Stephen King say in a commercial, Were all going to die, Im just trying to make it a little more interesting. Now, shes on a mission to make the world a hell of a lot more interesting.

Weaving tales of cinematic, sweeping adventureand depending on how she feels that dayLex sprinkles in high-speed chases, shower scenes, and more explosions than a Hollywood blockbuster. Her pride is in telling stories of men who kiss as much as they kick ass. If youre going to march into the depths of hell, it better be beside the one you love.

Lex is a pop culture diva, her DVR is constantly backlogged, and unapologetically loved the ending of Lost. She wouldnt last five minutes without technology in the event of the apocalypse and has nightmares about refusing to leave her cats behind.

She is grateful for and humbled by all the readers. She knows very well she wouldnt be here if it wasnt for them and welcomes feedback.

You can find in the Intarwebz here:
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LXChase
Twitter: http://twitter.com/Lex_Chase
Tumblr: http://lexiconofkittens.tumblr.com
Instagram: http://instagram.com/lexachase
Site: http://lexchase.com


I’m having a Down on the Bayou Giveaway where one lucky winner will walk away with a magical fairy tale prize pack! From Corentin’s mini journal, to a delicious bottle of Disney’s Snow White perfume, Lex Chase swag annnndddd….

This lovely necklace!

US residents only please, but for International residents, you’ll get a lovely 20 dollar Amazon Gift Card!

Don’t forget about the multiple ways to enter! Not only do you need to comment, you can tweet! Use the hashtag #BayouFairyTale! Or enter via Instagram!


Bayou Fairy Tale Tour Stops:

10/1 – Tali Spencer

10/3 – The Novel Approach

10/5 – Gay List Book Reviews

10/6 – Bru Baker

10/7 – Charlie Cochet’s Purple Rose Teahouse

10/8 – Sinfully Addicted to All Male Romance

10/10 – Aidee Ladnier

10/13 – Prism Book Alliance

10/15 – C.S. Poe

10/16 – Joyfully Jay

10/17 – Bayou Fairy Tale Facebook Chat

10/19 – Bayou Fairy Tale Release Day!

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The Fine Print:

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

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GayRomLit, Giveaways, K.C. Burn

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Countdown to GayRomLit 2015 with KC Burn

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Welcome, everyone, as we here at The Novel Approach continue the Countdown to GayRomLit with Featured Author KC Burn! Enjoy KC’s guest post, and then be sure to follow the instructions below to enter the giveaway she has planned just for you.

Good luck!

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Obviously, as a straight woman, my characters are not little carbon copies of me. I do try and give my guys some variety in their quirks, foibles, and traits, but when it comes to their likes and dislikes, a lot of that is going to reflect what I like and don’t like. Not all the time, because differences are what make people interesting, in the real world as in books. For me, though, writing about something I have no personal experience with, but have researched, is different than giving a character the love of something I dislike.  It’s far simpler and less disingenuous for me to give characters an interest in either something I like, or something I don’t know about & have to research, than something I dislike.

Like… musicals. I’ve seen a few, and enjoyed some, but mostly it makes me uncomfortable to have people sing at me (American Idol makes me cringe, even the ones who can sing well). I find the tendency to break into precise, choreographed dance numbers completely destroys my suspension of disbelief. I’m not even all that comfortable at live concerts for bands I love! Even if one of my characters **claims** to be a lover of musicals, most likely, there won’t be much detail, because I’d have to spend too much time on something I dislike.

What you will see, throughout most of my books, are characters who like many of the same things I do. The celebrities I think are hot are ones my characters like. Many of my characters tend to have geeky interests, even if they aren’t geeks themselves, like enjoying Doctor Who or Star Trek. A number of them wear guyliner because I LOVE guyliner (really, when your first adolescent crush is on all of Duran Duran, I think you don’t have much of a choice). I don’t listen to a lot of popular music, and so I rarely mention my characters musical tastes, because it might be weird if all they listened to was 80s alternative/new wave, punk, and industrial, as I do.

One of the elements I hit time and again – and it’s rather geeky – is board games. I love playing board games. And not your standard Monopoly or Clue, but ones that are more involved, more strategic, and frequently take hours to play. If you watch Big Bang Theory, the guys are often playing board games. I have played or own almost all of the games that appear on that show. Wil Wheaton has a great YouTube channel called Table Top, where he and other actors/geek celebrities show you how to play various games, and I’ve purchased a few games based on those videos.

One of my favourites is Settlers of Catan – I have all the expansions and a version of it on my phone. The game even gets a brief cameo in my book, Cast Off. In fact, I’m planning a series with a full on geeky hero who loves board games, and Catan will likely be only one of many board games that will get mentioned. The best thing about it? There’s a board game café – that’s a café with hundreds of board games where you pay a flat rate to play as long as you want – near me. When I start up this series, I can call my time there research. Best kind of research, in my opinion. Now, if I can just get a couple of hot guys to strip at the same time, I’ll be set!

So… geeky heroes – do you love them or not? I’ve got a $10 Amazon gift card for one lucky commenter.

(The Deets: All comments must be relevant to the author’s prompt question to qualify in the drawing || Comments must be received by 11:59pm Pacific Time on Sunday, October 4, 2015, to be eligible || No residency restrictions apply || Author will be responsible for prize delivery)

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KB_NorthOnDrummond_coverlgBlurb for North on Drummond: Sandy Bottom Bay, Florida  – Come for the Haunts, Stay for the Beaches!

Drew Drummond might call himself a psychic tarot reader, but he doesn’t believe in the supernatural. The business was left to him by his grandmother, and seemed the best way to rise above the chronic criminal behavior of the Drummond family. Despite his efforts, few of the townspeople consider him a good romantic match. Being gay only makes finding love more difficult.

When Cliff Garcia, Drew’s teenaged crush, moves back to town and joins the police force, Drew doesn’t think he has a chance. After all, the skeptical cop considers Drew’s profession on par with professional con man, and Cliff had spent his entire school career feuding with Drew’s volatile brothers. Despite the obstacles, Drew and Cliff begin a fiery relationship.

Just when Drew starts to believe they might have a chance, he suffers a head injury and begins having visions of the future. If Drew tells Cliff the truth, he’ll lose the man he’s falling for, but keeping his new ability a secret is no longer an option. If he can’t convince Cliff he’s for real, a murderer will walk free.

Available At: Loose Id || Amazon || Barnes & Noble || All Romance eBooks

DividersKC BurnAuthor Bio: KC Burn has been writing for as long as she can remember and is a sucker for happy endings (of all kinds). After moving from Toronto to Florida for her husband to take a dream job, she discovered a love of gay romance and fulfilled a dream of her own—getting published. After a few years of editing web content by day, and neglecting her supportive, understanding hubby and needy cat at night to write stories about men loving men, she was uprooted yet again and now resides in California. Writing is always fun and rewarding, but writing about her guys is the most fun she’s had in a long time, and she hopes you’ll enjoy them as much as she does.

Links: Website || Twitter || Facebook || Newsletter

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Giveaways, Lexi Ander

Guest Post, Excerpt, and Giveaway: The Dragon’s Eye Blog Tour with Lexi Ander

Dragon's Eye Banner

Please join us in welcoming author Lexi Ander to The Novel Approach today, on the tour for the latest installment in the Sumeria’s Sons series, Dragon’s Eye. Enjoy Lexi’s guest post and the excerpt she’s selected to share, then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below for the chance to win some great prizes. Details are below.

Good luck!

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What did you say? Utnap-blah—who? I can’t even guess how to say that.

Utnapishtim is the Sumerian equivalent to Noah. You say his name like [oo t-nuhpish-tim]

When I started Sumeria’s Son, the platform I built the series on was the Epic of Gilgamesh. I built the origins and motivations from the ancient story. I know, like that was a shock. ^_^ Utnapishtim was one of the few humans who was offered immortality and a place in Dilmun.

To give you a bit of background Utnapishtim, here’s the down and dirty on the Sumerian deluge myth. King Enlil is fed up with all the noise of humanity and decided to get rid of them. If you have already read the blog post on Abzu and the Igigi War, I’m sure you recognize the common theme between the two stories.

Anyway, he sends out plagues, and famine, and drought which destroyed the world three times and yet the human race persevered. Little did Enlil know (until it was too late) that the humans had help from Enki. The humans procreated quickly and soon they were just as noisy as they were before. In a fit of frustration, Enlil calls a meeting of the gods and makes them vow not to help the humans. To get around that decree, Enki didn’t speak to Utnapishtim directly but spoke into a bed of reeds. What an old trick to tell someone without actually telling them. What do you mean? Utnapishtim over heard me musing aloud?

Utnapishtim followed the instructions and built a boat, loading his family, the village craftsmen, baby animals, and grains. The storm that Enlil caused was so awesome in power that the gods fled to Dilmun. The description of how Utnapishtim tested the lowering of the waters was very similar to that of Noah’s with the releasing of the dove, the swallow, and the raven. They left the boat and had a great party, making a sacrifice to the gods. When the gods cautiously ventured from Dilmun, they were chagrinned at Utnapishtim undying loyalty and faith in the gods and they granted him and his wife immortality and a place among the gods.

After Enkidu died, Gilgamesh went a little insane in his grief and keenly feeling his mortality he searched for his ancestor, Utnapishtim. Even though Gilgamesh was a demigod and long lived, he could die. Just as the gods Humbaba and Gugalanna had died, and his beloved Enkidu. He entered the gates of the Sun Road guarded by the scorpion men and traveled to Dilmun. Utnapishtim cautioned him to abandon his quest but still told him how to gather the plant from the riverbed. It didn’tdo  Gilgamesh any good because a sneaky snake came by while he rested and ate the plant. (Must’ve been a vegetarian snake.)

If you’re wondering if I brought Utnapishtim in as character, the answer would be no. But the story of Gilgamesh’s search is important. The story of the deluge was just for fun but gives you an idea of how the gods sometimes viewed humanity.

A huge thank you for allowing me to be a guest on the blog today! Throughout the blog tour for Dragon’s Eye, I hope you enjoy the behind the scenes look at the gods and mythos, and how they play a part in Sumeria’s Sons. For a visual representation, please visit my Pinterest page. During the tour I discuss the Sumerian pantheon, about who and what the Gods/Goddess are, and how I use them. Make sure you stop by the other blogs to get a complete look at the Gods and Goddess the Lycan’s follow.

Also, Less Than Three Press is running a special sale on Sumeria’s Sons from September 23rd  through October 7th (dates inclusive).

Twin Flames is $0.99: Amazon || LT3 Press ||

25% off Songs of the Earth: Amazon || LT3 Press

25% off Dreams of the ForgottenAmazon || LT3 Press

25% off Surrounded by CrimsonAmazon || LT3 Press

Thank you for stopping by and reading!

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Dragon's Eye CoverBlurb: In the wake of birth and betrayal, Ushna takes the God Ashur to Tristan in a last desperate bid to save Tristan’s life—and is helpless to do anything but watch as Ashur instead buries him in a grave. Though he has no desire to go on living, having now lost Brian and Tristan, Ushna has no choice. Not only do their children need him, the mysterious Simurgh has come out of hiding and forces him to continue on—for there is much to do and little time to do it, especially with treachery and danger closing in on them from every side.

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Excerpt: The other vehicles parked behind us. Corey spoke to my parents but I couldn’t hear what he said. My father nodded and headed towards the last vehicle, where the wounded had been loaded. Warriors surrounded our SUV before Corey opened my door. I didn’t want to leave the vehicle. If I did, then Tristan’s fate would be set in stone. Illogical, I knew, but the thought of stepping foot in that house without him was the point of no return. I’d never be able to undo anything that transpired today, as if I even had the power to accomplish something like that. Part of me knew I didn’t want to answer the questions that would eventually come.

What Saéna said kept returning to the forefront of my thoughts. Why was this not a time to grieve? The only reason could be that Tristan wasn’t lost, wasn’t dead. But I saw him buried and Ashur held onto me until there was no hope of saving Tristan from suffocating. My blood boiled at the memory and I breathed around the anger. She is tending him now. What did that mean? Who? Who was tending Tristan? How was I to look past my pain when I’d lost the brightest point in my life? When Brian was killed, even though we wouldn’t have bonded for years, I still felt the absence of his Flame. Tristan and I had bonded last night and… and… wait.

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Lexi Ander Bio PicAbout the Author: Lexi has always been an avid reader, and at a young age started reading (secretly) her mother’s romances (the ones she was told not to touch). She was the only teenager she knew of who would be grounded from reading. Later, with a pencil and a note book, she wrote her own stories and shared them with friends because she loved to see their reactions. A Texas transplant, Lexi now kicks her boots up in the Midwest with her Yankee husband and her eighty-pound puppies named after vacuum cleaners.

Where to find Lexi Ander:

Website: http://www.lexiander.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lexi.ander.9

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/LexiAnder1

Blog: http://lexiander.blogspot.com/

E-mail: lexi.ander.author@gmail.com

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THE GIVEAWAY

  1. $20 Amazon Gift Card, $20 All Romance Gift Card, hard copy of Dragon’s Eye, swag (pens, bookmarks)
  2. $20 All Romance Gift card, hard copy of Dragon’s Eye, swag (pens, bookmarks)
  3. Hard copy of Dragon’s Eye, swag (pens, bookmarks)
  4. E-book copy of Dragon’s Eye
  5. E-book copy of Dragon’s Eye

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)

*The Novel Approach will not be held liable for prize delivery unless otherwise specified

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Tour Dates & Stops:

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Brita Addams

Guest Post: Don’t Be Offended by History by Brita Addams

keep-calm-and-embrace-history-1My writing often requires I research the obscure as well as the blatant. I’m also an amateur genealogist of over twenty years, so I’ve dug into many a family history, including a thorough, if incomplete exploration of my own. You’re never done.

I’ve learned how people lived and died over many centuries, discovered things I’m thrilled about and things I’d rather weren’t in my genealogical record. But the cringe worthy episodes are precisely what make for interesting, sometimes uncomfortable reading, and show how far we have come.

I write historical fiction because I love history and my hope is to convey that love to readers. As any author of historicals will tell you, research is key to gaining the authenticity in a piece. Note the word authenticity. While we create fiction, we place our characters in authentic settings, surrounded by the authentic circumstances of their times. This can be backdrop or in the forefront of the story.

Is history sometimes uncomfortable? Of course. But unchangeable. Yesterday is gone. The question is, should we as writers, portray history as it was, or should we participate in the growing movement to create a revisionist history?

Anyone who knows me knows I am firmly in the camp of authenticity. Why? Because we can’t pretend that women, for instance, were treated as they are today. Men ran the world and women had their place. These are facts.

A recent article exposed this, saying that we as writers shouldn’t portray women as the wives and mothers they were, but as kickass, feisty, independent, and able to function without men, because the writer of the article felt that to portray them different demeaned womanhood as a whole. I called nonsense and had I wanted to argue, I’d have left a comment stating the writer should read history before trying to change it.

Why would a woman today be offended by the roles women played in the past? Why judge women characters whose actions are in accordance with the period in which the story is set? Prepare here for a little harsh reality.

history_teacher_joke_explain_not_understand_necklace-r66ede6a34ff44eeaa913890a6d3ae857_fkob8_8byvr_324Women did not run countries (with the exception of a queen here and there,) or states or cities. They were, however, the backbone of the family. They ran households. They bore children, cleaned, cooked, did laundry, sewed clothes and sheets, and coats and hats. Knitted baby booties out of necessity, even spun the yarn. They taught their children their prayers and manners, ate less at meals so the children could have more, wore threadbare clothes so her children could have a new pair of shoes when the old ones pinched. She taught her brood to collect eggs, pump water while warning them not to lose the prime, feed the old wood stove, and peel potatoes and carrots with a knife, not a scraper. Mothers tumbled into bed long after everyone else had gone to sleep and rose before the others to provide a hot meal before starting her day all over again. Mother was the center of the small universe each child lived in.

Fathers worked hard, sometimes fourteen to sixteen hours a day to bring home a meager wage. He sacrificed too, for the sake of his wife and children. Some weren’t good men, much like in today’s world. Some drank and beat their wives. Worse, their children. No excuse for them. They likely learned all they knew about being men from their fathers. Life wasn’t easy and I don’t say that cavalierly. I lived in such a household.

The good men, though, are often maligned. The good men who worked hard, but had a traditional view of women – as the weaker sex, creatures (in a kind sense) he needed to take care of, protect, provide for. He took his responsibility seriously and did the best he could.

Were men disrespectful of their women because they didn’t include them in “important” discussions? A subjective question. Some women, I’m sure, considered such exclusion a blessing, my mother included. Poor thing. Her eyes glazed over when my father discussed anything headier than Red Sox scores.

You see, women were taught to care for the home, while men were expected to work and support their families. Being a parent was treated as a job and housewives were respected for fulfilling that job. I have nothing against women who work, I’ve done it. I’m speaking here about history. My mother had worked before marriage and she often said she’d like to bring in some money, but her job was to raise her children, four in her case, and cater to my father. She understood this.

During periods in our past, women didn’t inherit from husbands or parents. This is illustrated in detail in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. The father dies and the fates of his wife and daughters are left to Mrs. Bennett’s ability to marry off her daughters to wealthy husbands, as the estate was entailed to the nearest male cousin, William Collins. Unfair by today’s standards, but a way of life in times gone by. The simplistic reason behind the practice was that the daughters would be raised to attract a man able to provide for her, but the son had to do the providing. Archaic by today’s standards, but no less factual in the course of history.

When a woman of parental means married, her father conveyed a dowry upon the husband, to help the man take care of his new wife. A poor woman’s parents often put together a hope chest, filled with handcrafted blankets, clothes, pottery, cutlery, a Sunday hat, Grandma’s lace handkerchief, and other things needed to start a household.

Unmarried women were chaperoned until after marriage. A man was expected to sow his wild oats, but he married a chaste girl. A double standard, but the way life was.

When a woman broke the mold and eschewed marriage, her career options were limited. She’d most likely work as a schoolteacher, secretary, or maybe a store clerk. Growing up, I knew many “old maid” school teachers. If a teacher married, she retired from the profession and took her place as the center of her family’s universe. The belief, shared by men and women, was you couldn’t have both a profession and a successful family. Something would suffer and best it not be the family.

Married women often took in sewing or laundry to make ends meet. Husbands worked their farms or factory jobs. Women helped harvest crops, feed the animals, slaughter cows, and myriad other jobs on the farms in this country. My husband’s grandmother loved to talk about harvesting potatoes and how she had a baby in the potato patch, and went right back to collecting the harvest. I don’t know how true her story was, but knowing her, I imagine pretty damn accurate.

To view these peoples’ lives through the enlightenment of generations negates who they were. I’ve lived long enough to have known some of the women and men who had to work as described above. Long hours, no matter the weather, just to put food on the table. Did the women think their lot unfair? Hell no. No one they knew lived any differently.

Women weren’t oppressed by the standards of their day. Men weren’t oppressors. Each person had their job to do and they were well aware of their responsibilities.

Why did women stay in abusive marriages? Because you married for life in those days. Divorce was a shame on the family as it meant failure. The stigma affected not only the parents but the children. For the most part, and of course there are exceptions, women didn’t go home to their parents when things got rough. They stuck it out rather than place the financial and physical burden on them and to keep the family together. I am the product of parents who shouldn’t have stayed married, but they did, for fifty years. My mother carried that marker as a badge of honor. She’d weathered the bad times and thought the good more than enough to make up for it.

Critics of historical fiction lament the accurate portrayals, wishing apparently, a costume drama where the author dresses up the heroine in period clothes and has her act like a twenty-first century woman. Or they rail against the treatment of homosexual men and the laws that prohibited them from having a happy life. My favorite is the “too stupid to live” heroines people cynically malign in romance novels. I argue that they are oftentimes, the characters written most accurately. They adhere to the mores of their time. They don’t sleep with men before marriage, they listen to their fathers and mothers, and their husband. And they don’t leave when the going gets tough. Historically accurate, but somehow offensive to some readers.

We as historical authors are faced with a fine balancing act. If we truly wrote history as it was, we’d offend a great many people, because history is either misunderstood or poo-pooed as something before our time, out of step with modern thinking. If we dress it up and attempt to revise the truth, our stories are better received, but in doing so, we’ve done a disservice to history and our need to tell an accurate story.

As I get older, I care less about accommodation and more about truth. Times, throughout history were hard. Women, men, races and creeds were treated unfairly, by all standards. Little Suzy Q didn’t get a new dress every time she blinked, she actually had to learn to take care of a household. She and her brothers had to learn that money didn’t grow on trees and every time they experienced a shortfall, they couldn’t run to Daddy for relief. Sometimes life isn’t fair.

Beloved Unmasked Banner

Please mark your calendars for October 16, when the third book in my Tarnished series hits virtual shelves. Beloved Unmasked is a standalone in the series (for now) and takes place in New Orleans, shortly after the turn of the twentieth century.

Here’s the blurb:

BelovedUnmaskedBorn in 1898 to a heartless prostitute in Storyville, the red-light district of New Orleans, David comes into the world as Picayune, meaning “of little value” or as his mother reminds him, “nothing.”

In the early 20th century brothels and clubs, his love of music sustains young Pic until a fortuitous meeting places him on the road to respectability, and Pic reinvents himself as David Reid.

As David realizes happiness for the first time, conscription forces his friend and first love, Spencer Webb, into the Great War. A telegram from the War Department deals a staggering blow and interrupts David’s pursuit of a law degree. He must gather his wits and move forward. While his future looks bright, specters from Storyville return.

The past holds both pain and love, and facing it head-on might destroy David or give him the freedom to live the life he has dreamed.

Buy Link: Dreamspinner Press

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BritaAddamspicAbout Brita Addams: Brita Addams was born in a small town in Upstate New York and 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.

She writes both het and gay historical romance. Many of her historicals, as well as a few contemporaries, have appeared on category bestseller lists at various online retailers.

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 find Brita Addams at any of the following places:

Website || Blog || Twitter: @britaaddams || Facebook || Fan page || Goodreads || Pinterest || Booklikes || Monthly column at The Novel Approach

 

 

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GayRomLit, Giveaways, Nico Jaye

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Countdown to GayRomLit with Nico Jaye

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Welcome to another edition of the Countdown to GayRomLit 2015. Today we’re pleased to have author Nico Jaye with us. As you enjoy her guest post, be sure to pay special attention to the giveaway she’s offering–an ecopy of her novella Where There’s Smoke.

Good luck!

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Being an “Author” at GRL with Nico Jaye – The Importance of Just Right: An Encouraging Word to Short Authors

Hi there, everyone! Nico Jaye here to chat about all things m/m romance! Well, maybe not all since that’s rather ambitious, but some stuff, anyway. *grins* Thanks so much to the folks at The Novel Approach for hosting me as part of the GRL Blog Tour. I’m really excited about meeting all of you fellow m/m enthusiasts in San Diego next month. :3

To clarify the title of this post, it’s not intended only for authors who are vertically challenged. ;) While I do count myself among those numbers, I’m here to deliver kudos and pats on the back to authors out there who write short stories and novellas.

Going to GRL as an author is a scary as hell prospect for me. Exciting, too, but pretty scary. Imagine the whole looks-around-at-everyone-then-points-at-self-“me????” reaction. I’ve only ever written short stories and novellas, after all.

Am I even a real author?

Then I checked, and there are almost a dozen stories with my name on the cover. Yeah, I did a double take when I looked that up, and it pretty much blows my mind. Half of them are freebies, and none of them is novel length, but still… *mind blown* That many?? When I started writing m/m romance in 2012, I never would’ve predicted I’d have so many stories to tell. However, after writing my first story for public consumption, I simply kept on going.

I got my start by writing a freebie for the Goodreads M/M Romance Group’s annual writing event. It was a wonderful experience, and Cam and Brad are two characters that remain close to my heart. Shortly thereafter, I saw a submission call for an Olympics anthology. Eager to continue writing, I birthed some plot bunnies, corralled them, and submitted a story that, to my surprise and delight, was accepted for publication.

Holy shit. I was a published author.

I continued to write and submit, and, thankfully, received responses that were mostly positive. But what I wrote was all short. Some very short and some novella length, but all under that magical 60,000 words “this is a novel!” mark.

Unlike some authors, I peek at reviews now and again. The angst that goes into that decision is a topic for another blog post, but my point is I’m fully aware of this comment that I so often see about my stories: It was too short.

It’s not that I wouldn’t like to write a longer story. It’s not that I wouldn’t love to have a nice, juicy novel to my name. It’s not that I don’t secretly (or not so secretly?) want to hold a paperback in my hands that contains a precious story written by little old me (an actual, ohmigod, book with pages and a glossy cover and everything!).

All of those things would be awesome.

So far, though, they haven’t been right for me. I write the stories I have to tell, and those stories have been shorter ones.

What I’m trying to say with this post is that short is okay.

I’ve never written with a word count goal, aiming to get a story to XYZ words. Honestly, my brain just doesn’t work that way. The way it works is “heyyyy, wouldn’t it be cool if Joe met Jack in a vet’s office? What if they were neighbors? What if Joe loved OITNB, but his internet was down, and Jack said, “hey, why don’t you come over and watch it at my place?” What if their dogs fell in love?” Essentially, I write the story I have to write, no more and no less.

If you’re out there and you’re an author, aspiring to be one, or simply thinking about picking up proverbial pen and paper, then say it with me: short is okay.

I’m going to GRL as a supporting author—an author of short stories and novellas—but dammit, I’m going as an author! Because, short or not, my stories are out there, and I’m damn proud of having written them.

As long as you’ve told the story you have to tell, you’ve succeeded. It doesn’t matter if it’s five pages long, fifty, or five hundred pages. What matters is you’ve said what you had to say, and you’ve brought your characters to life. You’ve accomplished something wonderful; don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.

Short is okay. Really.

Because, maybe, short is actually just right.

P.S. Also, once you finish that story, remember to have a celebratory cupcake, refreshing beer, or unicorn glitter cocktail, too! You deserve it. :D

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THE GIVEAWAY

I’d love to give one of you blog readers a taste of my (short) stuff! ;) Leave a comment by 11:59 pm Pacific time on Tuesday, September 22, 2015, for the chance to win an e-copy of my short contemporary novella Where There’s Smoke.

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Where There's Smoke by Nico Jaye - Cover (artist, Catt Ford) - SmallBlurb: If he can make room in his life and his heart, an isolated medieval history professor might find a real life knight in shining armor.

A terrible breakup in his early thirties left David shying away from relationships. For years he’s been content with his solitary life, finding fulfillment in his career, books, television show marathons, and his cat’s companionship. When David meets his neighbor Zach, he can’t tell if Zach is just being friendly or if the handsome fireman might actually be interested in him. The more time they spend together, though, the more David questions his resolution to remain single. If Zach can extinguish the flames left by David’s past, David might finally break away from his structured life and take a chance on love.

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Nico Jaye - CroppedAuthor Bio: Nico Jaye is a fan of all things HEA and has dragged her romance collection along for her moves from San Francisco to Los Angeles to Chicago to New York and back. She thinks reading is awesome and loves that she can hang out night after night with crinoline-wearing debutantes, brawny firemen in suspenders, and werewolf shifters with Scottish brogues. Her favorite stories are those that marry smut and fluff (a.k.a. smuff) into a gooey ball of HEA and fuzzies.

An overall feline enthusiast, Nico secretly (or not so secretly?) adores Hello Kitty, cat GIFs, spontaneous traveling, pretending to be crafty, emoticons, hot menfolk, and parenthetical statements (not necessarily in that order). After starting as the pitcher for Team Awesome (literally) and visiting places like South Africa, Oman, and Fiji, Nico discovered that letting the boys in her head tell her where they want to go could actually be the most exciting journey of all.

Find out more at www.nicojaye.com.

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The Fine Print:

*Entrants must be 18 years or older to qualify
*No residency restrictions apply
*All comments must be relevant to the author’s prompt to be eligible (when applicable)
*The Novel Approach will not be held liable for prize delivery unless otherwise specified

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Brad Vance, Giveaways

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Werewolves of Brooklyn Blog Tour with Brad Vance

Werewolves of Brooklyn Banner

Please join us in welcoming author Brad Vance to The Novel Approach today, as he makes the round to tell readers a bit about his new novel Werewolves of Brooklyn. Brad took the opportunity to answer a few interview questions from Will Parkinson, so enjoy, and then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below for the chance to win an e-copy of the book.

Good luck!

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WP: Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Brad Vance, author of Werewolves of Brooklyn. Hi, Brad, thank you for agreeing to this interview.

Brad: Thanks for the opportunity!

Q: Talk to us about your characters in this book. What makes them unique?

Brad: I really set out to make my werewolves unlike any others. I’ve resisted doing “shifter” stories my whole career, even though I know they’re lucrative, because the genre felt tapped out, creatively. But my werewolves aren’t cursed, they aren’t slaves of their natures, the full moon has nothing to do with it. I researched the lives and habits of actual wolves, and based my story on that.

Q: What was one of the most surprising things you learned in getting your book from start to publish?

Brad: Darien’s journey from the time he’s first exposed to his “wolf nature” is one of burgeoning self-confidence, energy, sexuality, joy. I realized how much I’d changed myself since I started writing, especially since I went full-time. I’d gone from a passive participant in my own life to having full agency, and as I wrote Darien, I realized in a lot of ways I was writing my own story.

Q: Have you ever gone to a convention? If so, how was it? If not, do you think it’s something you’d like to do in the future?

Brad: I haven’t been. I’d like to someday, but right now I’m struggling financially, especially with the new Kindle Unlimited compensation system. My travel’s been limited to research trips and total decompression vacations!

Q: How do you like being a full-time writer?

Brad: I love it. It’s stressful, since your income can be five figures one month and barely four in another. But I’m my own boss, and I’m finally paid for my labor and not my time – nobody is making me warm a chair and punch a clock to prove how much I’m working. When my work is done, I’m done. Even on my worst days I think, what would you be doing right now if you still lived in Cubicle City? And that adjusts my attitude!

WP: Design the ultimate pizza.

Brad: I gotta say, right now I’m addicted to the Round Table garlic chicken pizza. Extra garlic, extra chicken. I’d have a hard time beating that.

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Werewolves of Brooklyn CoverBlurb: Darien Mackey wasn’t looking for an adventure. For ten years, he’d been happy living in Brooklyn, working as a butcher in the same job, living in the same apartment, dating some “nothing-special” guys. Until one night his buddy Jacob talked him into taking ayahuasca, the soul-changing drug. And Darien had a vision…of a wolf, its all-too-human eyes on him, its paws on his chest, its enquiring mind in his own…

Darien Mackey is changing. He’s more confident, more assertive, hungrier, hornier. And his world is changing around him – his job, his home, his beloved Mechanic’s Library all falling victim to the predations of unscrupulous developers, bent on demolishing the old Brooklyn he loves and replacing it with a forest of condos. But he’s no longer a passive observer of his own life, and as this thing, this power, grows inside of him, he resolves to fight back, to preserve the way of life he loves.

And he’s not alone in the fight. The Lipsius Preservation Society of Brooklyn stands ready to assist in the battle, even though it seems like a bit of a joke to Darien, with its King and its Duke, Marquess, Earl and Viscount.

But there’s nothing funny about his growing attraction to Albeus Finley, King of this mysterious Court. And when slumlords and condo-mongers start to die mysterious, violent deaths at the hands of savage animals, Darien begins to realize that something is afoot in Brooklyn – something supernatural.

And it’s afoot in him, too…

Buy the book: Amazon

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Author BioAbout the author: Brad Vance writes gay romance, erotica and paranormal stories and novels, including the breakout hits “A Little Too Broken” and “Given the Circumstances.” Keep up with Brad at BradVanceErotica.wordpress.com, email him at BradVanceErotica@gmail.com, and friend him on Facebook at facebook.com/brad.vance.10.

Where to find the author: Blog || Facebook || Pinterest || BradVanceErotica on Google+ || @BradVanceAuthor on Twitter || Email

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A Rafflecopter Giveaway

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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Tour Dates & Stops:

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The Fine Print:

*Entrants must be 18 years or older to qualify
*No residency restrictions apply
*All comments must be relevant to the author’s prompt to be eligible (when applicable)
*The Novel Approach will not be held liable for prize delivery unless otherwise specified

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A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Here’s a Sneak Peek at the Coming Week!

Sneak Peek

Cheers, everyone, and welcome back for a preview of what we have coming up for you in the week ahead. There’s lots of activity to come as we welcome some very special guests and have lots of giveaways to offer along with our reviews and another Flashback Friday feature.

Here’s what’s on tap!

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MondayNaomi MacKenzie kicks off our week as she makes the rounds on the Lodestones blog tour

We’ll also welcome author Larissa Ione to TNA today, on the tour for the newest addition to the popular Demonica series, Base Instincts

TuesdayDH Starr joins us as we continue the Countdown Celebration to GayRomLit 2015

Keira Andrews also stops by as she tours the interwebs to introduce readers to her newest novel Valor on the Move

Wednesday – Author Maggie Kavanagh joins us today to talk sequels and romance on her Inner Sanctum blog tour

Edmond Manning also drops by on his King John tour, the newest addition to the Lost and Founds series, so you won’t want to miss that as Mr. Manning always has something interesting to say

Thursday – Today we’ll look forward to having you help us welcome Brad Vance on his Werewolves of Brooklyn tour

Along with Jeff Adams, and he tours to chat about his latest release Hat Trick 3: Penalty Shot

Friday – We’ll have author Nico Jaye with us in our next Countdown to GayRomLit guest spot

N.R. Walker will also be with us, as she tours the web in support of her newest novel, Cronin’s Key III

We’ll also be bringing you another edition of Flashback Friday today, and the chance to win an e-copy of one of the featured titles. This week’s category is Speculative Fiction, so stay tuned

Sunday – Finally, to close out the week, we’ll have author Hayden Thorne here with us to introduce The Romeo and Julian Effect

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And that puts an end to this sneak peek. Until next time, happy reading!

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Lloyd Meeker

Guest Post: Blood & Dirt by Lloyd A. Meeker

Author's Spotlight

A Newbie’s Adventures in Writing a Series Character – Lloyd A. Meeker

With the release of Blood and Dirt in August, I entered the ranks of authors who write a series. That’s not something I anticipated when I wrote Enigma, the first Russ Morgan mystery, in 2012. For the first year after it came out I thought of it as a one-off short novella—I certainly didn’t anticipate readers’ interest in Russ as a character. Sometimes the author is the last to know what’s going on.

I love series characters, though. I cut my series mystery-reading teeth on Rex Stout, Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers, just as I’d cut my series fantasy-reading teeth on Tolkien, LeGuin and Zelazny. I happily fell in love with the idea of a story arc lasting longer than a single book—that’s the stuff of epics!

Whatever comes of Russ Morgan’s series of mysteries, however, I’m pretty sure it won’t be epic. No great battles between good and evil, no saga stretching across generations, just Russ Morgan, a decent guy in his fifties, still working on his relationship to the troubled world he lives in. He’s an interesting character to me, for reasons that may border on the narcissistic.

Like every other new-ish author, I received the inevitable advice to write what I know. So for Russ I drew heavily on my own experience, then added some embellishments. Russ is psychically sensitive, and so am I. I don’t see auras like Russ, but I sure feel them when I’m standing next to someone. Being in a crowd takes a lot of energy for me, although Russ is tougher than I am and manages better.

Russ and I both are grateful for long-term sobriety. That’s a truly spectacular thing, no need for any embellishment there. Colorado is my home state, and Russ’, too. I lived in Denver for many years, and it was the natural place to use as Russ’ home base. When Colorado legalized marijuana cultivation, that gave me a natural opening to write Blood and Dirt.

Mostly, though, Russ and I share an introspective, philosophical approach to life. Russ likes to think about things. He wonders about people, their motivation, their wounds and hopes. He ponders moral issues without pre-emptive certainty. He’s fascinated by power differential and the interplay of personalities. He thinks about the human footprint on the natural world. And ultimately, he seeks to live a spiritually authentic life outside the structures of religion. An AA meeting is as close as he cares to come to collective spiritual practice.

So what am I trying to do in the stories Russ has to tell? First and foremost, I want to tell intriguing, satisfying mysteries. Beyond that, I don’t know how to say it succinctly, but I want to write the stories of a deeply human, compassionate, basically gentle man who engages the world with unflinching honesty and a minimum of entitlement.

I want Russ to grow, engage, love, grieve, celebrate—and best of all, solve mysteries that readers enjoy. I know I’ll grow as a writer as I work to deliver them.

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BloodDirt_cvr-Full SizeBlurb: Family squabbles can be murder. Psychic PI Russ Morgan investigates a vandalized marijuana grow in Mesa County Colorado, landing in the middle of a ferocious family feud that’s escalating in a hurry. Five siblings fight over the family ranch as it staggers on the brink of bankruptcy, marijuana its only salvation. Not everyone agrees, but only one of them is willing to kill to make a point. Russ also has a personal puzzle to solve as he questions his deepening relationship with Colin Stewart, a man half his age. His rational mind says being with Colin is the fast track to heartbreak, but it feels grounding, sane, and good. Now, that’s really dangerous…

Buy Links: Amazon || Wilde City Press

Author Links: Website || Twitter || Amazon Author Page

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A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Here’s a Sneak Peek at the Coming Week

Sneak Peek

Cheers, everyone, and many thanks to you for popping in to see who and what we have coming up for you in the next six days. We have a great lineup of authors set to visit with us this week, so I hope you’ll come back to spend some time with us.

Here’s what’s on tap!

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Monday – Kicking off the week, we welcome author Z. Allora, with a chat about the re-release of book one in her Club Zombies series, Zombies Ahead

We’ll also have author Chris McHart joining us today, on the Alex’s Surprise/Saving Alex blog Tour

Tuesday – Today we’ll be bringing author Katey Hawthorne your way, on the tour for her new book Back to the Sky

Wednesday – We kick off the day today with author Silvia Violet, our next guest on the Countdown to GayRomLit blog tour

Author Lloyd A. Meeker will also be stopping in to talk to you a bit about his new novel from Wilde City Press, Blood & Dirt

ThursdaySkylar M. Cates joins us today on the tour for her new book Lovers, Losers, and You

FridayCJane Elliott drops in today to tell us a bit about her new novel Sex, Love, and Videogames

We’ll also have K.A. Mitchell popping in with an interview for her new novel Put a Ring on It

Saturday – Finally, to close out our week, we’ll have Max Vos with us on the tour for his new audiobook My Hero

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And that does it for the week ahead. Until next time, happy reading!

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Giveaways, T.M. Smith

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Fame and Fortune Blog Tour with T.M. Smith

Tour Banner

Join us in welcoming author T.M. Smith today, on the Fame and Fortune blog tour. Enjoy her guest post, then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below for the chance to win a signed copy of Gay for Pay (**US Residents Only**) or a $10 Amazon Gift Card.

Good luck!

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The Straight Girl Is Writing Gay Fiction

I see posts about this issue a lot these days… “You are a woman, what do you know about gay sex and/or relatinoships?” My answer would have been absolutely nothing, until about five years ago. Right about the time I decided to write a Dystopian series that featured M/M M/F and F/F relationships, I thought I might need to do some research on the things that are foreign to me. While I read books, watch movies and TV shows (including bios), and have my coveted membership to Cockyboys, I also have gay friends that are more than willing to critique my stories and tell me when I have it way wrong. You don’t even want to know about the conversation I had with my best friend about lube and gay sex. It started something like… “Ow, Ow, fuck me, Ow!”

I write romance for the most part, and while I know what I like from a man and what I like to watch two (or more) men doing with each other, there is still that level of unawaredness that I possess. I want to be able to portray the couples and throuples in my stories with at least a modicum of reality, even if I do insist on HEA. I chose to write MM romance partly because I love to read it, but I’m also fascinated by the mechanics of the love story of two men. Gay relationships are beautiful, sexy and rugged, and I hope that is what people that read my stories take away with them when they turn that last page.

So while I haven’t been called out personally, as of yet, as some of my peers have (knock on wood), I would probably respond to the hater with a similar diatribe as this, with a few colorful metaphors for good measure.

Thank you, Lisa and the gang here at Then Novel Approach, for hosting me today! Everybody be sure to head over to Amazon, ARe or Smashwords and grab your copies of Fame and Fortune today. And if you’re headed to GRL in October, be sure to come find me and say hi! Remember, Love is Love. Or in this case… Love is Love is Love!!!

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Fameandfortune-smallpreviewBlurb: Victor Dimir moved to America with his traditional Romanian parents when he was just a child. His Romani parents taught him their traditions and how to be a shrewd business man, but it was the attention of a classmate at school that taught teenage Victor about his sexuality. When he came out to his parents he knew it would be difficult for them to understand, but he never expected them to disown him.

Andrew Jones grew up with a single mom and his grandmother teaching him about life, he had an absentee father at best. The only thing the man ever did for Andy that stuck was buy him a camera for his thirteenth birthday. When Andrew went off to college on a scholarship to study photo journalism, he wound up falling in love with his Romanian roommate.

They became inseparable and wound up starting their own business together: a gay porn website where people could go and watch romantic gay porn instead of the rough and tough, or wham bam thank you man crap that was flooding the internet at that time. After ten years together they were still perfectly happy, notrealizing something was missing, until they met a broken young man that needed a family.

Matthew Carlson was homeless, jobless and broken. At sixteen he ran away from home after being brutally assaulted by several young men that he thought were his friends, and then being told he brought it on himself for being gay by his parents. Matthew has done a lot of things these last few years just to get by. When he finds the flyer for All Cocks, he decides to call and see where it leads. What has he got to lose?

Matthew has deep rooted scars that aren’t visible on the outside to most. But when he walks into All Cocks, both Victor and Andrew can see the darkness in his eyes; they also see him. Can three men that did not know they needed each other get past the stigma of society to find a place of happiness, together?

*Advisory warning: This story contains a scene of sexual assault.*

Fame and Fortune Buy Links: Amazon || Amazon UK || Amazon AU || ARe || Smashwords

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T.M. SmithAbout the Author: A military brat born and raised at Ft. Benning Georgia; Smith is an avid reader, reviewer and writer. She now calls Texas home from her small town on the outskirts of the DFW Metroplex. Most days you can find her curled up with her kindle and a good book alongside a glass of something aged and red or a steaming cup of coffee!

At 44 years young, she’s decided to enter the next phase of her life by adding the title of “author” to her list of accomplishments. Smith is a single mom of three disturbingly outspoken and decidedly different kids, one of which is Autistic. Besides her writing, Smith is passionate about Autism advocacy and LGBT rights.

Her series Opposites goes beyond the norm of society, exploring what society would be like were it the norm to be gay/lesbian. To be straight labels you the outkast. Her latest series, the All Cocks Stories, is set within the world of online gay porn.

Author Links: Amazon || ARe || Smashwords || Website || Facebook Author || Facebook All Cocks series || Twitter || GoodReads || Pinterest || Youtube

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THE GIVEAWAY

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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Gay for PayGay For Pay Blurb: Christopher Allan Roberts thought he had a promising future; Captain of the football team with the promise of a scholarship to play for Alabama. His high school sweetheart and best friend for as long as he could remember, Amanda, by his side, and the love and support of his family. One night, one mistake changed everything. Chris moves to New York, adrift and alone. A walk one night brings him to the flashing lights, loud music and thrumming bodies at club Berlin. A flyer in the men’s room promises fame and fortune for anyone willing to go on camera and have sex, with another man. Money is money, and how hard could it be, right?

Christopher Allan Roberts becomes Kris Alen, All Cocks newest addition, a gay for pay porn star.

Lincoln Carter is honest with everyone in his life, including his family, about who he is and about his sexual preferences. Linc Larson, the openly bi-sexual gay porn star will do anything with anyone, which pretty much writes his ticket in a versatility charged industry. It’s not his sexuality that interferes with his personal life; it’s his inability to trust.

What Linc wants right now, more than anything, is the chance to do a scene with All Cocks newest acquisition, Kris Alen. Six foot two with Auburn hair, an exquisitely toned and inked up body, Kris Alen is sex personified. Linc doesn’t know if it’s the “I want the shiny new toy” aspect that calls to him, or the distant and wounded expression that haunts Kris’s eyes.

Linc figures out early on that Kris is only working the gay for pay angle that All Cocks brings to his bank account. Can a bi-sexual man with trust issues break down the barriers that Kris has built around himself and help Christopher overcome the painful past he is running from.

Gay for Pay is a gay for you story about two men that will have to come to terms with the mistakes they made in their past, if they want to stick around and have a chance at a future.

Buy Links: Amazon || ARe || Smashwords

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Fame and Fortune blog tour schedule:

September 1st

*I Read Selfies | Spotlight only, Excerpt

*Foxylutely Books! | Excerpt, Playlist, Dream Cast

*The O’Raven Chronicles | Spotlight, Excerpt

September 2nd

*SiK Reviews | Spotlight only

*Two Chicks obsessed with books and eye candy | Dream Cast, This or That, Guest Post

*Divine Magazine | Excerpt, Dream Cast, This or That, Guest Post

*For The Love of Men | Spotlight only, Excerpt

September 3rd

*MM Good Book Reviews | Excerpt, This or That

*Sinful Reviews | Excerpt

*Morticia Knight | Excerpt, Character Q&A

*Iyanna Jenna | Spotlight only, Dream Cast

September 4th

*Gay Media Reviews | Excerpt, Playlist, Dream Cast, Guest Post

*LaQuette Romance Author | Spotlight only, Excerpt, Guest Post

*KathyMack Reviews | Excerpt, Playlist, Dream Cast, Guest Post

September 5th

*Bike Book Reviews | Excerpt, Dream Cast

*Bayou Book Junkie | Excerpt, Dream Cast, Character Q&A

*The Purple Rose Teahouse | Spotlight only, This or That

*Love Bytes | Excerpt, Guest Post

*Eyes on Books | Excerpt, Guest Post

September 6th

*Gay Guy Reading and Friends | Playlist

*Molly Lolly | Playlist, Character Q&A

*The Novel Approach | Excerpt, Guest Post

*Jessi G Books  | Excerpt, This or That, Guest Post

September 7th

*3 Chicks After Dark | Excerpt, Playlist, This or That

*Cathy Writes Romance | Dream Cast

*MultitaskingMommas Book Reviews | Excerpt, This or That, Guest Post

*Smut Hut Books | Dream Cast, Character Q&A

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Bold Strokes Books, Charlie Cochrane, Genre Romance

Guest Post and Excerpt: Don’t Kiss the Vicar by Charlie Cochrane

Charlie Cochrane Banner

We’re so pleased to welcome author Charlie Cochrane to The Novel Approach today to chat about her new novella from Bold Strokes Books, Don’t Kiss the Vicar

Welcome, Charlie!

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How and where does a story and its characters start?

I know that some authors get an idea then plan their novel/novella down to the nth degree, and more power to their elbows if that helps them to craft a really good story. I honestly believe this is something there are no hard and fast rules for; so long as a tale gets out of the author’s head and onto the page or screen then it matters not how it gets there. Which is just as well, because I’m a total pantser; if I try to write to a plan I find it’s like wearing shackles.

I usually begin stories with two characters and a conversation, then maybe construct several different key scenes and conversations which eventually go into the whole, finding their natural place in the action. It’s similar to doing a jigsaw, although you don’t know the picture on the box until you’ve completed it (which sometimes means going back and changing some of those original pieces!)

In the case of “Don’t Kiss the Vicar” I had the character of Dan Miller (said vicar) spring pretty well fully formed from my imagination right at the start of the creative process. A man of the cloth in a sprawling village parish not unlike the one I live in, a man of great integrity who finds himself having to hide his true nature from his flock. I have to admit that I’ve put several snippets of local geography into the tale, to form the backdrop I wanted to set the action against, although I haven’t included any of my fellow parishioners.

The other main characters in “Don’t Kiss the Vicar” appeared one by one in my head – and on the page – rather like in a Shakespeare play where the key players gradually emerge. I based them on the sort of people I’ve known in the various churches I’ve been a member of, snatching little bits of personality here and there then amalgamating them into something new. So Margaret, Sylvia and Harry are as real as I can make them without being vaguely libellous; although the interesting thing is that I had to curb some of their characteristics as they were getting a bit too “BBC sitcom” to be convincing, even though they are based firmly in reality.

Dan’s love interest, Steve, was the biggest challenge. He had to be likeable, but still believably prickly with Dan. These two men had to be in the classic romantic situation of feeling attraction for each other but not daring to show it. Very Beatrice and Benedict! It’s a widely used trope, so the author has to attempt to keep the pairing fresh while treading a well worn path.

I hope I succeeded…

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Dont Kiss the VicarBlurb: Vicar Dan Miller is firmly in the closet in his new parish. Could the inhabitants of a sedate Hampshire village ever accept a gay priest? Trickier than that, how can he hide his attraction for one of his flock, Steve Dexter?

Encouraged by his ex-partner to seize the day, Dan determines to tell Steve how he feels, only to discover that Steve’s been getting poison pen letters and suspicion falls on his fellow parishioners. When compassion leads to passion, they have to conceal their budding relationship, but the arrival of more letters sends Dan scuttling back into the closet.

Can they run the letter writer to ground? More importantly, can they patch up their romance and will Steve ever get to kiss the vicar again?

Buy Links: Bold Strokes Books || Amazon || Barnes & Noble

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Excerpt: “Vicar!” The shout, the almost friendly wave meant the decision to veer off was taken too late.

“Steve!” A cordial wave back as the distance between them narrowed. “Didn’t think you frequented this place.”

“Is that why you come here, then? To get away from the parishioners you like least?”

Dan tried to find an answer, but somehow the connection between his brain and mouth had become severed. Helpless, he could feel the flush rushing up his neck, and could see—without looking at the bloke—that Steve was less than amused. What the hell else was he going to think other than that he’d hit the nail on the head, and Dan was too dumb to cover the fact up?

“Rex!” A high pitched, agitated female voice broke the awkward moment, as did a huge Great Dane, about the size of a rhinoceros, which came haring out of the woods, onto the path and straight into Steve’s leg.

“Shit!” Steve staggered, arms flailing in a futile effort to keep himself upright. Dan’s attempt to reach out and catch him before he hit the stony path was equally ineffective, but at least he could keep the nasty, snarling brute at bay with the aid of the stick he habitually took when he walked. Jimmy had said it gave him gravitas, now it provided the ideal weapon.

“You should keep that thing under control,” he said, as the woman came up and made a lunge for the Great Dane. “What if it had gone for a child?”

“He’s just nervous,” she said, flustered. “Here, Rex. Here boy.” The dog stood off. “He’s a rescue dog. Doesn’t like men.”

“Then take him somewhere he won’t have to see them. Are you all right?” Dan tried to focus his anger into something useful, rummaging in his pocket for a clean hankie. “You need something on that hand.”

“I’m fine,” Steve said, trying to hide the bleeding while keeping a nervous eye on the dog. “Can somebody not take that bloody thing away?”

“There’s no need for that sort of language,” the woman said, at last managing to get a lead onto the dog’s collar.

“I think there’s every need for it. And worse,” Dan said. “You’d better take him off if you don’t want the air turning blue.”

“Well, really! Come on boy.” She hauled the dog away at last.

“Right. Show me that hand.”

“I’m fine.” Steve got to his feet, brushing the dirt off his trousers and managing to get blood on them.

“That hand’s a mess.” Dan grabbed it, none too gently, which made Steve wince, but it served him right for faffing. “This cut’s full of crap. You need to have it cleaned out and a steri-strip put on. Might even need a stitch or two.”

“I’ve had worse,” Steve said, trying to free his paw.

Yes, you have. There’s that intriguing scar on the back of your hand and the one above your left eyebrow. Don’t think I haven’t noticed. Don’t think I don’t imagine tasting them.

Dan became aware of the strange look he was getting and ploughed on. “So have I. Come on, the vicarage is closer than your house. We can dress this there.”

“Oh, for fu…goodness sake. I can sort it out myself. I’m not a child.” Steve tugged his hand away, clearly avoiding Dan’s gaze.

“Will you not let somebody help you? Must you always be so bloody stubborn?”

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Charlie CochraneAuthor Bio and Links: As Charlie Cochrane couldn’t be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes. Her favourite genre is gay fiction, predominantly historical romances/mysteries.

She’s a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Mystery People, and International Thriller Writers Inc., with titles published by Carina, Samhain, Bold Strokes Books, MLR, and Riptide.

To sign up for her newsletter, email her at cochrane.charlie2@googlemail.com, or catch her at: Facebook || Twitter || Goodreads || Blog || Website

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Kate McMurray

Guest Post: The Long Slide Home by Kate McMurray

The Long Slide Home

Baseball and the Rainbow League

By Kate McMurray

It’s public knowledge that I’m a baseball fan, right?

I figure sports fandom is one of those things that knows no gender. At least not in my house growing up. My dad watches all of the sports. All of them. Even golf. And Sunday was for watching sports, so that’s what you’d find him doing. (True story: until he retired, pretty much the only things he ever read were trade publications related to his job and Sports Illustrated. Now that he has more leisure time, he seems to be in a phase where he reads rock star autobiographies, so he’s branching out, I guess?) Anyway, sports on everywhere. Even my mother watches football sometimes.

My formative moment happened at age twelve when my dad took me to my first Yankees game. I was hooked. We lost to the Orioles, too, I remember. I didn’t even care. And then, blah blah, I went to college in Massachusetts during the Yankees’ late-90s dynasty blah blah super fan blah blah wore Jeter jersey in the dorms just to antagonize people blah. Having to defend my team loyalty to the Boston fans I went to school with only made me a more devout New York fan, so you can imagine my delight when I moved to my first apartment in New York City and, on summer nights when a game was on TV and the Yankees made some truly remarkable plays? You could hear people in the buildings neighboring mine cheering. It was awesome.

I get that I don’t look like your typical sports fan. I like fashion and art and design, too. I’m not particularly athletic. I listen to opera for fun sometimes. I’m multifaceted, what can I say?

But this is old news. Let me tell you about two weird baseball-related things that happened this year.

First, I went to Flame Con in Brooklyn back in June. Flame Con is essentially an LGBT Comic Con, and it was held at Brooklyn’s legendary Grand Prospect Hall (you owe it to yourself to watch the commercial). Dreamspinner Press had a table there, but as I am not a writer of the sorts of sub-genres they were promoting (fantasy, sci fi, superheroes, etc.) I just went to the con as a spectator with a bunch of my friends. Who all cosplayed, by the way. I wore a dress with dinosaurs on it, because I like whimsy but full-on costumes make me uncomfortable. Anyway, my entourage members were all big comic book fans, so they were delighted to talk to some of the artists and get their pictures taken with other cosplayers. I, on the other hand, found a guy who draws a webcomic about a gay baseball league (sound familiar?!) and started chatting with him as my group moved through the ballroom of exhibitors. My friends left me behind. “Kate’s found her people,” somebody said.

So, leave it to me to find the one baseball fan in the sea of superhero comics, I guess.

The second thing that happened was a couple of weeks ago at a reader/author meet and greet. A young man walked up and started asking about my books. Trying to ascertain which of the books I had available I should give him, I asked, “Do you like baseball?” He looked at me blankly for a long moment and then said, “I’m gay,” as if that was an obvious answer to the question. When I clarified that, actually, I knew many a gay sports fan, he laughed and explained he just didn’t care for sports. So I gave him a different book.

I mean, your interests are your interests. Not everyone like sports (or fashion, or opera, or romance novels).

I think I like reading about things about which I am nerdy as much as I like reading about completely unfamiliar things. I tried to strike the balance in the Rainbow League books so that people who aren’t into baseball could still find them accessible but the hard core baseball fans could find delightful things, too. There’s a sabermetrics joke in the first book that I think probably six people will get, but I’m fine with that as long as readers can still enjoy the stories and larger themes.

So I hope you check them out!

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The_Long_Slide_Home_Final_FLATBlurb: Nate and Carlos have been the best of friends since their childhood playing baseball together in the Bronx. For the past few years, Nate’s been in love with Carlos, though he’s never acted on it and Carlos has never given any indication that he returns Nate’s feelings. Nate has finally given up, determined to move on and find someone else, especially now that Carlos has shacked up with his boyfriend, Aiden.

Carlos doesn’t understand why Nate has suddenly gotten weird, acting cold and distant at team practice for the Rainbow League. But if that’s how things are going to be, Carlos is done trying to figure Nate out. But then Aiden reveals he has a violent side, and Carlos needs his best friend’s support. On top of that, he starts to realize his feelings for Nate might not be limited to friendship. But in the aftermath of his relationship with Aiden, and with Nate having problems of his own, the timing is all wrong to make a real relationship work. As emotions run high, both have a hard time figuring out what is real and what is just convenient.

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

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Kate McMurrayBio: Kate McMurray is an award-winning author of gay romance and an unabashed romance fan. When she’s not writing, she works as a nonfiction editor, dabbles in various crafts, and is maybe a tiny bit obsessed with base­ball. She has served as President of Rainbow Romance Writers, the LGBT romance chapter of Romance Writers of America. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Links: Website || Twitter || Facebook

TLSH

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A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Here’s a Sneak Peek at the Coming Week

Sneak Peek

Hi, everyone, welcome back for a look at what we have coming up in this busy week ahead! This may well be the most guests we’ve ever welcomed in a week’s time, and I can’t wait to share it all with you: the guest posts, the giveaways, and, of course, the reviews.

Here’s what’s on tap!

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MondaySara Alva kicks off our week with a Countdown to GayRomLit guest post to chat about her new audiobook release of Pura Vida

RJ Scott and Meredith Russell will also join us on their Forever in the Sun blog tour, book six in the Sapphire Cay series

And, as if that lineup wasn’t fantastic enough, we’ll also welcome Cardeno C. on the Strange Bedfellows audiobook tour

Tuesday – Today we welcome another trio of authors, starting off with Kate McMurray on The Long Slide Home blog tour, book three in the Rainbow League series

We’ll also welcome author Ravella Hawthorne on The King’s Command blog tour

And finally, Brita Addams will join us today to chat about the Newbie Blues

Wednesday – We’ll have our second GayRomLit attending author, Christina Pilz, joining us today to help celebrate the countdown and chat about how she fell in love with Oliver Twist

Also dropping by for a visit is Charlie Cochet on her Beware of Geeks Bearing Gifts tour

ThursdayRebecca Cohen will join us today on her Overly Dramatic blog tour

Rhys Ford will also be here today to chat about her contribution in the Charmed and Dangerous anthology

FridayCharley Descoteaux pops in today on her Buchanan House blog tour

We’ll also welcome author Sarah Masters today to chat about her new book Outcast Cowboys

Saturday – Finally, closing things out for us today is author Alicia Cameron, with an excerpt and giveaway of her new book Sedition

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And that does it for the week ahead. Until next time, happy reading!

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Joe Cosentino

Guest Post: Drama Queen Audio Release by Joe Cosentino

Drama Queen Banner

I was always a ham as a kid, forcing my unsuspecting parents and neighbors to watch my lavish musicals in the garage. After college I became a professional actor, working in film, television, and theatre opposite stars like Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Bruce Willis, Charles Keating, Jason Robards, and Holland Taylor. Moving on to playwriting and ultimately writing novels seemed like an obvious next step. My novels have received mostly good reviews, and many readers comment on how theatrical they are, including a great deal of dialogue, humor, plot twists, unusual characters, and drama. Everyone tells me they would make great audiobooks, television series, and/or movies.

As a theatre college professor I realized theatre departments at colleges are little communities of romance, drama, comedy, mystery, and surprises. They make great fodder for novels. So I created the Nicky and Noah mystery series published by Lethe Press. In Drama Queen, Nicky and Noah have to uncover why college theatre professors are dropping like stage curtains while Nicky directs the college play production—a murder mystery. In Drama Muscle (not yet released), Nicky and Noah have to find out why musclemen are dropping like weights in the Physical Education department while Nicky directs the Student Bodybuilding Competition. In Drama Cruise (not yet released), Nicky and Noah go on a cruise to Alaska, and discover why college theatre professors are going overboard like lifeboats while Nicky directs a murder mystery dinner theatre show onboard ship.

The first novel, Drama Queen, frequently has been in the top #18 in its category on Amazon Kindle’s bestseller list since its release, and the paperback is also doing well. Again everyone told me it should be made into an audiobook and/or television series. So I was thrilled when Steve Berman told me Lethe Press was producing an audio version of the book. With twenty-four characters of all ages/races/genders/sexualities/personalities (one bipolar), as well as Nicky and Noah using their theatre skills to impersonate other people during their investigation, it was important to find the right narrator, Michael Gilboe. Not only is Michael a gifted actor, character voice artist, and hardworking professional, he is a college theatre professor and director just like Nicky Abbondanza, my leading character. Michael also has a dry wit in his reading, which fits the wacky humor of the series. It was great fun working with him on this audiobook. He did an amazing job bringing the characters to life.

The audiobook was just released on Audible and Amazon, available for download on any audio device or computer. I think listeners will enjoy Michael’s performance, and be captivated by the clues, red herrings, reversals, and surprise ending of the story. Hopefully listeners will embrace Nicky and Noah, and look forward to their next adventure. I want to play Martin Anderson, the department head, in the television series!

~Joe Cosentino

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Drama Queen AudioBlurb: It could be curtains for college theatre professor Nicky Abbondanza. With dead bodies popping up all over campus, Nicky must use his drama skills to figure out who is playing the role of murderer before it is lights out for Nicky and his colleagues. Complicating matters is Nicky’s huge crush on Noah Oliver, a gorgeous assistant professor in his department, who may or may not be involved with a cocky graduate assistant…and is also the top suspect for the murders! You will be applauding and shouting Bravo for Joe Cosentino’s fast-paced, side-splittingly funny, edge-of-your-seat, delightfully entertaining novel. Curtain up!

Buy Links: Amazon | Audible.com

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About the Author: Joe Cosentino is the author of Drama Queen the first Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press), An Infatuation (Dreamspinner Press), Paper Doll the first Jana Lane mystery (Whiskey Creek Press), and The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (Eldridge Plays and Musicals). He has appeared in principal acting roles in film, television, and theatre, opposite stars such as Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards. His one-act plays, Infatuation and Neighbor, were performed in New York City. He wrote The Perils of Pauline educational film (Prentice Hall Publishers). Joe is currently Head of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married. His upcoming novels are Drama Muscle the second Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press), A Shooting Star (Dreamspinner Press novella), A Home for the Holidays (Dreamspinner Press holiday novella),The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland (Dreamspinner Press fairytale novella), and Porcelain Doll the second Jana Lane mystery (Wild Rose Press).

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon

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Dreamspinner Press, J. Scott Coatsworth

Guest Post: Between the Lines by J. Scott Coatsworth

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One of the best things about being an author is that you get to write what you love. For me, that’s always been sci fi and fantasy.

But growing up as a gay kid in the closet, I also wanted to read more about people like me. But I was afraid that if I wrote about them, others might think I was gay – something that had to be avoided at all costs.

Eventually, though, I came out – but my writing didn’t. I still tended to write the same heterosexual characters. And then I stopped writing.

Then about two years ago, I got bitten by the writing bug again. With some encouragement from my husband, Mark, I picked up the metaphorical fountain pen and set to it once more.

But this time was different. This time I decided to write about my family in the LGBTQI community. My fiction took on a new life and energy, powered by the revelation that I had things to say, both in sci fi and fantasy and in my own community.

And about my actual community. My first stand-alone novella, Between the Lines, is one of which I am fiercely proud. Not just because it’s the first thing I’ve written with my name (only my name and no one else’s) on the cover, but because it’s about my adopted hometown, Sacramento. I had a lot of fun writing this one, and some of my favorite places are included. A few of them appear under their real names, while others have been fictionalized. But when I read the story, I can see in my head exactly where each scene takes place.

Sacramento is a quiet place for a big city, and it’s a political town. As the state capital, it’s where all the major policy fights happen, and it seemed like the perfect place to set my political magical realism tale.

If you read it, I hope you like it – it’s my little love letter to Sacramento.

And if you are considering becoming a writer, here’s some advice. Write because you have to, because the words are burning you up inside and are trying to get out.

Write what you love.

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BTL CoverBlurb: Brad Weston’s life seems perfect. He’s GQ handsome, the Chief of Staff for a Republican California State Senator, and enjoys the power and the promise of a bright future. And he’s in a comfortable relationship with his boyfriend of six years, Alex.

Sam Fuller is Brad’s young, blond, blue-eyed intern, fresh out of college, running from a bad break-up, and questioning his choices and his new life in politics. To make things worse, Sam also has a thing for the boss, but Brad is already taken.

While looking for a gift for his boyfriend, Brad wanders into a curiosity shop and becomes fascinated by an old wooden medallion. Brad’s not a superstitious man, but when he takes out the medallion in his office, he sees the world in a new light. And nothing will ever be the same.

Categories: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy

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

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Excerpt: It began with a medallion.

The piece was a simple wooden disk, hand carved with the shapes of leaves and forest boughs and polished by centuries of use, giving it a patina of great age.

It sat upon a small green velvet pillow—the kind jewelers sometimes use, rather unsuccessfully, to enhance a plain necklace of false pearls. The kind you might expect to find on your grandmother’s settee, in a slightly larger size, embroidered with “Home Sweet Home.”

Yet there was something compulsive about it—something hidden in the dark crevices of the carving, filled with the dust of ages.

At least that’s what Brad would recall years later, when he thought back on the first time he saw it: the moment when the lines of his mundane life suddenly snarled, snapped, and ultimately recombined into something quite different.

Of course, he didn’t know any of this at the time.

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Author BioAuthor Bio: Scott has been writing since elementary school, when he and won a University of Arizona writing contest in 4th grade for his first sci fi story (with illustrations!). He finished his first novel in his mid twenties, but after seeing it rejected by ten publishers, he gave up on writing for a while.

Over the ensuing years, he came back to it periodically, but it never stuck. Then one day, he was complaining to Mark, his husband, early last year about how he had been derailed yet again by the death of a family member, and Mark said to him “the only one stopping you from writing is you.”

Since then, Scott has gone back to writing in a big way, finishing more than a dozen short stories – some new, some that he had started years before – and seeing his first sale. He’s embarking on a new trilogy, and also runs the Queer Sci Fi site, a support group for writers of gay sci fi, fantasy, and supernatural fiction.

Website | Facebook

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Ingela Bohm, Self-Published

Guest Post and Giveaway: Not Safe for Work by Ingela Bohm

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We’re so pleased to welcome author Ingela Bohm today, on her promo tour for her newest novel Not Safe for Work. Enjoy Ingela’s guest blog, then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below for the chance to win an e-copy of the book.

Good luck!

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Socializing for introverts

It is a truth universally acknowledged that writing is a solitary activity, but that’s not the whole story. From idea to finished product, a book is influenced by many different people, and the writing process can be seen as very social indeed. I certainly know that without the input of a bunch of wonderful people, Not Safe For Work would never have seen the light of day.

To begin with: the spark. For a story to take flight, inspiration is vital. For me, that spark always comes from other people: friends, coworkers, people on the news or on web forums. In the case of Not Safe For Work, it started with fandom. Through writing fics, I met one of my best friends, and she sowed the seed to Jakob and Leo’s story just by being her awesome self.

You see, after years of writing in solitude, I suddenly had an audience, and that made all the difference. I dropped everything and just wrote, for the sole reason of sending it to her. Now there was someone who waited for the next instalment, and if I went too long between emails, guilt set in. She sent me her gorgeous stuff in return, and it all became a positive spiral that drove me onward and finally opened the door to m/m romance.

I guess you can see Not Safe For Work as my declaration of love to fanfic. Of course, like any cultural expression, it’s not without its drawbacks, of which Leo and Jakob are made painfully aware. In the story, Jakob discovers steamy stories about him and Leo on Tumblr – all untrue, but it looks as if Jakob is the one who’s written them. It doesn’t take long for the phenomenon to become viral, and the whole thing gets really out of hand when other bloggers start writing their own stories about the two of them. The opportunity to deny it all recedes in Jakob’s rearview mirror while he’s reluctantly drawn in by the crazy world where he and Leo are lovers. After a while, he hardly knows what’s real and what’s not.

This, too, reflects how social writing can be. Fan fiction and blogging highlight the fact that nobody writes in a vacuum, because the audience is invited to interact with the original product. Sites like Goodreads offer a platform for writing reviews and connecting with other readers and writers, and there’s hardly a website without a comment field anymore. We’ve become accustomed to a social way of consuming culture – so much so that sometimes when I watch a movie on TV, I almost miss reading the flame wars on YouTube.

Of course, there are parts of writing a book that can be quite asocial. Just ask my husband how his attempts at conversation are received when I’m in the clutches of my muse. But when you think about it, even that process is dotted with interactions. What is research, after all, but communication with people who have precious information on my topic? What is intertextuality but a conversation with earlier generations of thinkers and authors? And of course, a big part of writing a book is collaborating with beta readers and editors. This is especially true for Not Safe For Work. At times, I’ve been so stuck that I would have abandoned ship but for my wonderful betas who cheered me on, told me what to cut and nitpicked the text until it spoke to me again.

Finally, writing a book feels like talking to my future audience. In this case, gentle readers, even my characters talk to you. That’s the reason why I’ve used the much maligned present tense, first person POV. Some people don’t enjoy reading or writing that kind of story, but for Leo and Jakob, it was absolutely essential. More than anything else, these guys need someone to talk to. Their whole world is turned upside down by the strange situation they find themselves in. Unable to confide in each other like they usually do, they reach out to the reader, begging to be heard and understood. Through the first person POV, they can directly address that special someone out there who wants to listen. Now that Not Safe For Work is published, they have that listening ear, and I can get some peace and quiet for once.

To bring the social wheel full circle, the feedback I get from sales and reviews is the motivation I need to write the next book. So in conclusion, even though I may come off as a hermit when I’ve got my headphones on and I’m rattling away on the keyboard, what I’m really doing is talking to the whole world.

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NSFWBlurb: It’s Jakob’s birthday, and boy is he getting a surprise. His best friend Leo has posted a picture of the two of them kissing on Facebook, and a link to a blog full of steamy stories. Identity hijacked, his fictitious relationship with Leo laid out for the whole world to see, Jakob is beyond shocked. But when he contemplates officially denying it all, something makes him hesitate. Is there a grain of truth in the stories Leo has written – and is that why Jakob is unable to stop reading?

Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance eBooks | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | Smashwords

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Excerpt: I feel the red hot build-up in my thighs and groin. I’ve had it with fragile. I don’t want any more beautiful. Feathery touches can’t convince me that he’s mine. I need the raw pounding, the eclipsing of the self.

He senses my hesitation and props himself up on his elbows. The look he gives me is full of reproach. “I’m your best friend first.”

I know what he means. What am I doing, keeping him in the dark? We’ve always told each other everything. I release his cock with a sigh and sit up. My hair hangs in apologetic wisps in front of my face, as if to filter what I know I have to say. “Leo…”

“You want something else.”

“Yeah, I…” I gesture limply, afraid to name it.

But he already knows. “Look, when I said I wanted you to use your mouth… I mean, I do, I want that, but fuck it, Jakob… I’d like to really seal it, you know?”

I nod, completely in tune with his thinking. “Mark the beginning,” I translate. “Make it real.”

“Yeah.” His cheeks are flushed, his eyes twinkling with mischief. “So who should… I mean…”

I laugh a little. “Who should fuck who?”

He rolls his eyes and then grins cockily. “Well, I’d offer, but we both know you’re the asshole.”

 

I move a stiff hand to minimize the window. “I think that’s enough for now.” I sound completely exhausted. Perhaps I am. I don’t know. I don’t know anything.

Merethe looks up with glistening eyes, surfacing as if from a dream. She looks like she’s waiting for something. My confession? My shamefaced confirmation that this is in fact completely real, exactly what happened? Jesus. This is so fucked up. Seriously, psycho fucked up. I’m letting her read Leo’s fake post about his sexual escapades with me? In my name. We’re nowhere near that level of friendship.

“It’s well written,” she says, and I know it’s her way of asking how it can’t be true: something that beautiful just has to be real. She’s always been romantic like that.

“Emphasis on ‘written,’” I mutter, but my voice grates against dry vocal cords and doesn’t sound very convincing. “Written, as in fictitious.”

She doesn’t grace that with a comment. She’s the literary theory buff, I’m the linguist. She believes everything she reads, especially if it’s well formulated. As if an adage is automatically true because it sounds good. While I doubt everything, and suspect lies at every turn.

“It is kind of romantic,” she says.

I want to explode at her, but I don’t have the energy. I just shake my head in despair. “Romantic? Are you completely bloody insane? What’s romantic about hijacking someone’s identity and rewriting their whole life?”

Merethe bites her lip. “In the beginning was the word…”

I roll my eyes. Trust her to believe that. Now she’s going to tell me that writers lie to tell the truth, that Jules Verne predicted the future and that nothing is real but what we clothe in words. The very thing I said to Dahlberg today.

She sighs, looks like she’s going to say something more, but then swallows it down. A minute of silence, then she cocks her head. “Want some coffee?”

“Huh?” I stare at her. She’s strangely out of focus.

“Coffee.” She smiles. “You seem to need it.”

I don’t reply, so she just takes an old mug from my desk and goes to fill it, leaving me a moment to gather my fraying wits. I should be grateful, but I just don’t know where to start. I try to go back to this morning, pick everything apart from beginning to end. Why did I read that blog post in the first place? What made me browse the #nsfw tag today of all days? My dream comes back to me through a fog of confusion. The image of that welcoming smile, the reddish hair, the plea to take me… And then Leo’s text, gatecrashing my embryonic jerking session. As if he knew

Drawing a hissing breath, I lean my head in my hands. I’m being completely insane. He can’t read my mind, and he doesn’t know what I dreamed. Christ, I’m being paranoid! How could a secret dream ever be related to a spoof blog post? A Professor Dahlberg question if ever there was one. Can he have hacked my computer somehow, seen my Internet history and put his crazy story on the very website I frequent most often?

He probably could do that, actually. But hacking a computer is very different from magically controlling someone’s dreams. No, that was just a coincidence.

Although Leo does have kind of red hair.

“There you go.” Merethe plonks the mug in front of me and I grab it instinctively. Too hot, I remind myself. Take it easy. She watches me while I blow on the coffee, being very careful not to spill it.

After a minute, she sighs. “Okay.” She’s scowling now, radiating disappointment. “I believe you. He made it up, fine. I mean, you’re here. Not in London.”

“Exactly.”

“Although that photo could have been taken anywhere.”

“No.”

She makes a face. “Well…”

Clenching my teeth, I reach for the mouse to go back to Facebook and show her: look, for fuck’s sake, there’s a big whopping Westminster Abbey or whatever in the background – but my finger slips and the Tumblr page refreshes, tossing up a new post that actually makes me drop the mug. Like you never do in real life: the kind of shock-limp hand that makes trays of porcelain crash in romantic movies. Coffee splashing everywhere.

I stare at the screen, heart in my mouth. There’s a video. A very real-looking video of me and him, as if we’re part of a game, and this is the promo clip for it. And it’s obvious from the still what we’re doing. What is this? What is this? my brain keeps shrieking at me, and the answer is as inevitable as it is frightening.

It’s ultimate fucking proof.

And I do mean that literally.

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Ingela BohmAuthor Bio: Ingela Bohm is a sucker for music and words, and whenever the two go together, she’s on board for the long haul. Every story she tries her hand at turns into a love story at some point, but that’s just her sentimental nature making itself known. She occasionally pretends to be a human being (as long as there are no dogs present), and she spends an obscene amount of time in front of really well-made TV series, trying to riddle out how the hell the bastards do it. Her current projects include a vampire dystopia and part four in a series about the rock band Pax Cymrica.

Find Ingela At: Amazon Author Page | Facebook | Twitter | Website

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Carole Cummings, Guest Contributor

Guest Post: Bullying (Or Not So Much) by Carole Cummings

Author's Spotlight

BULLYING (OR NOT SO MUCH)

Carole Cummings

So, I guess you’d have to live under a rock (or be a writer in the cruel, all-consuming throes of a developing story) to have missed all the #AskELJames … stuff. And if you’ve seen all that, you’ve likely seen the follow-up calls of shame on you or shame on us or shame on them and then the inevitable cries to STOP THE BULLYING!

And, on principle, I don’t necessarily disagree with any of them.

However.

When it comes to bullying, we’re not dealing with “principle”. We’re dealing with something a lot harder and colder and plainer. Or, well, we should be.

Now, there are several points to be made here, but the bullying accusation is what I want to start with. Because I’ve seen it so often over the past few years, and to be perfectly frank, it’s starting to lose its meaning. Which, to me, is a very, very bad thing. But probably not in the way you think.

Let’s start with a definition, because it’s always better coming from something official:

bully
verb
: to frighten, hurt, or threaten (a smaller or weaker person)
: to cause (someone) to do something by making threats or insults or by using force

bul·lied bul·ly·ing
transitive verb
: to treat abusively
: to affect by means of force or coercion

I want to concentrate on that top definition, because I think that one’s the key here: to frighten, hurt, or threaten (a smaller or weaker person).

And here’s where I disagree with those who define what happened to E.L. James as bullying, and are using it to make a point about “author bullying” or maybe “reader bullying” or even what the neo-Conservatives have started waving around when their beliefs are trotted out and exposed as the bigoted points of view they are. Because none of that is actually bullying. It’s unpleasant, yes. Hurtful, absolutely. Mean-spirited fuckery and a platform for asshole trolls, yup. Almost invariably unnecessary. Generally uneducated. Any adjective for “bad” one can come up with.

But it’s not bullying.

Now, I’m not here to pile on E.L. James, by any means, though I’ll admit I don’t like what she does. I personally think her lack of research and her callous treatment of her subject matter is unforgivable and potentially harmful. I think my teenaged daughter can out-prose her at her most (questionably) eloquent. I think she’s done actual harm to women’s issues by giving opponents a notorious, though admittedly shaky, set of clay feet upon which to lay their arguments.

That doesn’t mean I condone what happened with that hashtag. But it doesn’t mean I’m inclined to defend her from “bullying” either.

Because—and let me state this plainly and without question—what happened to E.L. James was not bullying. The people who participated in that hashtag were, by and large, indefensible jerks, but “jerks” does not automatically equal “bullies”. And, in truth, not all of the points brought up in all of that were indefensible. There were some rather valid arguments raised, and approached with perhaps some snarky wit but without rancor or foul invective. That’s called free speech and people are allowed to have it, regardless of whether or not we like what they say, or how they say it.

I know, I know, I can already hear the “but, but, but!” and I understand where the whole bullying thing comes from. I even empathize with it up to a point. But it doesn’t change the fact that we’re taking a very serious word here and trivializing it with “those people were mean.” And, yes, absolutely, some of them were. But they weren’t bullies. It’s a distinction I think is enormously important, because we’re losing the point of that word—bully—and we need that point with all its sharp edges.

Doxing is bullying. What happened to the women during GamerGate was bullying. What happens to the skinny gay kid who’s afraid to go to school for fear of getting pantsed or beaten up is bullying. What happens to a woman who’s groped on the subway is bullying. What happens to a person in an abusive relationship is bullying. What happens to people of color when confronted with a bigoted cop is bullying.

That hashtag? No. And saying it was bullying is saying that it’s just as bad as those situations in that paragraph above. It takes away the power of the word and therefore, the power of the people who are victims of real bullying who’ve already lost most of their power.

Look at that definition again—to frighten, hurt, or threaten (a smaller or weaker person)

Was E.L. James frightened? I suppose it’s possible, but I doubt it. There were no threats I could see, and I read—I think—the entire thread. Was she hurt? Maybe her feelings, because no matter my opinion of her talents as such, she is an author, and we’re a rather thin-skinned lot. Did she feel threatened? Again, it’s possible, but doubtful.

But here’s the key to this, and it’s really important—E.L. James, especially in the context of this internet Q&A, was neither a smaller nor a weaker person. If anything, she was the only one in the entirety of that situation who had any power. The woman is a multi-millionaire with the comfort of the knowledge that probably a good percentage of the people who participated in that hashtag free-for-all had most likely purchased at least one of her books, even if it was to make fun of it with their friends. Or seen the movie. A portion of the people engaging in the mockery on Twitter, statistically speaking, have put money in E.L. James’s pocket, have given her power, both as a wealthy person in a world where wealth already equals power, and as a best-selling author in an industry where that’s the only kind that matters.

But, most importantly, E.L. James, if she even read through the thread at all (which I doubt), was doing so from behind the safety of her computer monitor, comfortably ensconced… wherever multi-millionaire best-selling authors ensconce themselves. There was no danger. There was no threat. E.L. James was not and is not small or powerless. There was, therefore, no bullying.

And I need to say this again—I do not condone what happened, but if ever there was a subject that needs perspective, it’s bullying and what it really is and who really needs our protection from it.

Look, I’ve been on the receiving end of some pretty nasty commentary in my years of toddling about the troll-infested Lord of the Flies world we call the internet. I’ve been told I needed to be raped and die in a fire. I’ve been told the only good female brain is the one that’s scooped out to make room for a good skull-fucking. I’ve been told I should be beaten to death with my keyboard. And those are only the ones I remember off the top of my head. There have been more. And it’s not like I go to message boards or forums where you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a troll. This is just in the normal course of being an author who is accessible online. And who among us hasn’t gotten the one-starring troll treatment for no good reason?

Do I like it? Absolutely not. Do I think it’s fair? Nope. Do I think it’s nasty and hurtful and infuriating? Yes, yes, and yes.

But do I think it’s bullying? No. No. Because when I’m sitting in my home with my laptop and reading these things on my monitor, regardless of my actual size and/or strength, I am neither smaller nor weaker than the person saying them. In point of fact, intellectually speaking—which is the only part that matters on the internet—I’m betting I’m the much bigger and stronger person. And if worse came to worse, all I really have to do is turn the internet off and walk away. These trolls have no power over me but what I give them, and I refuse to give them any. Which means, by definition, I am not being bullied.

And neither was E.L. James.

Personally, I’d like to see that word—bullied—saved for the people who actually need it, not robbed of its power by those who get their feelings hurt because someone was mean to them on the internet. Those who truly are bullied have lost enough power already, don’t you think?

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