Harmony Ink Press, Will Parkinson

Free Ficlet and Giveaway: Wet Paint by Will Parkinson

Blurb:Transitions: Book Two

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

High school senior Benny Peters has his whole life planned out for him, until a chaste kiss at summer camp opens a new world of possibilities. Determined to erase Addy’s insecurities, Benny works to take away his boyfriend’s pain and replace it with love.

When Addy’s past intrudes on their future, it’s going to take everything Benny can muster to show that no matter what–or who–they face, they belong together.

Buy Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon Continue reading

Harmony Ink Press, Lou Hoffmann

Guest Post and Giveaway: Key of Behliseth by Lou Hoffmann


Hi, Lou Hoffmann here, very happy to be visiting The Novel Approach, celebrating the recent release of Key of Behliseth, the first novel in The Sun Child Chronicles. (Thank you TNA!)I planned to blog about ‘world building’ in a fantasy novel—you know, what goes into creating a world that works differently than our own everyday reality. But, as I began to laboriously catalog the steps in the process, I was tapped on the shoulder, and someone behind me cleared his throat.

I turned, and there stood Thurlock Ol’Karrigh, the wizard who meets up with Lucky, the MC in Key of Behliseth. Now, let me tell you, it is an alarming feeling to find a 1,000 year old wizard towering over you with a scowl on his face. Nevertheless, I attempted to be polite. Continue reading

Charley Descoteaux, Charli Green, Harmony Ink Press

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

10-1113tm-vector2-3718Hi everyone!

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

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

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

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

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

Title: Loveblood

Author: M.J. O’Shea

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

Pages/Word Count: 256 Pages

Rating: 4.5 Stars

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

Harmony Ink Press, Lou Hoffmann

Cover Reveal and Giveaway: Key of Behliseth by Lou Hoffmann

Key of Behliseth

Title: Key of Behliseth
Author: Lou Hoffmann
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Release Date: September 11, 2014

Special Offer: 20% off – Preorders
15% off – First 2 weeks after release

Blurb: On his way to meet a fate he’d rather avoid, homeless gay teen Lucky steps through a wizard’s door and is caught up in a whirlwind quest and an ancient war. He tries to convince himself that his involvement with sword fights, magic, and interworld travel is a fluke, and that ice-breathing dragons and fire-breathing eagles don’t really exist. But with each passing hour, he remembers more about who he is and where he’s from, and with help, he begins to claim his power. Continue reading

Harmony Ink Press, Johanna Parkhurst

Johanna Parkhurst Drops In With A Giveaway On The “Every Inferno” Blog Tour


Greetings! I’m Johanna Parkhurst, and I’m the author of the young adult novel Every Inferno. I’m incredibly honored to be dropping by The Novel Approach blog today.

Even though I primarily write for young adults, I always enjoy visiting blogs geared towards adult readers. That’s because I so appreciate interacting with adults who read YA literature. For years I lived in a “YA closet,” where I hid my love for writers like Alex Sanchez and Judy Blume away from the prying adult eyes who expected me to read more “sophisticated” novels by the likes of Dan Brown and Virginia Woolf (not that I don’t enjoy books by these authors… Continue reading

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

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

Title: Every Inferno

Author: Johanna Parkhurst

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

Pages/Word Count: 180 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

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

5 Stars, Harmony Ink Press, Reviewed by Lynn, Suki Fleet

Suki Fleet’s “This Is Not a Love Story” Is A Beautiful Novel Filled With Harsh Realities

“The flower that blooms in adversity is the rarest and most beautiful of all.” — Mulan

Title: This Is Not a Love Story

Author: Suki Fleet

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

Pages/Word Count: 270 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: When fifteen-year-old Romeo’s mother leaves one day and doesn’t return, he finds himself homeless and trying to survive on the streets. Mute and terrified, his silence makes him vulnerable, and one night he is beaten by a gang of other kids, only to be rescued by a boy who pledges to take care of him.
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Harmony Ink Press, J.G. Morgan, John Goode

John Goode And J.G. Morgan Stop By On “The Unseen Tempest” Blog Tour, With A Giveaway

TNA: Hello, John and J.G., welcome to The Novel Approach, and thanks for being here with us today. Why don’t we start by having you each tell us a little bit about yourselves, things we don’t know about you: hobbies, interests, shoe size? You know, important stuff.

John: Um, I role play Champions, which is like D&D but superheroes and have been for over twenty years now, I like sci fi, fantasy, anything nerdy and I am there and 10 ½. Wait, what kind of interview is this?

J.G.: I love to drive. Alone. I’ve been cross country (well at least as far as southern Arizona from Western New York) at least 15 times. I take pictures – lots of pictures (I love the digital age). And I read a lot everything from fantasy to geology and paleontology. Oh! Shoe size: 9 ½ (I almost left that out!!! )
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5 Stars, Harmony Ink Press, J.G. Morgan, John Goode, Reviewed by Lisa

“The Unseen Tempest” – In Which Our Heroes Run Afoul Of A Sinister Plot

“And thence from Athens turn away our eyes
To seek new friends and stranger companies.” ― William Shakespeare

Title: The Unseen Tempest (Lords of Arcadia: Act Three)

Author: John Goode

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

Pages/Word Count: 244 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Kane used to be a normal boy with normal worries. Now he fights alongside his boyfriend, Hawk, and an unlikely group of allies as they attempt to reclaim Hawk’s throne and save the Nine Realms. With time running out, Hawk decides to raise an army against the evil shapeshifter, Puck, and his army of The Dark. The adventurers split up in search of a force that will join their cause and help restore order to the Nine Realms.
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3 Stars, Harmony Ink Press, Reviewed by Tina, Russell J. Sanders

A Mystery Is At The Heart Of Russell J. Sanders’ “Special Effect”

“Reality makes a crappy special effects crew.” ― Adam Savage

Title: Special Effect

Author: Russell J. Sanders

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

Pages/Word Count: 180 Pages

Rating: 3 Stars

Blurb: Graduating senior, theater lighting wunderkind, and closeted gay, Nick Fortunati volunteers with The Streetwise Players in the dark corners of The Laughton, a creepy old movie palace decorated in Grand Guignol style. But his father wishes Nick would use his intellect and his scholarship to become a biotech engineer and earn a prosperous living for his future family. Nick loves his dad and wants to please him, but he dreams of a career in theater. And he wants a male lover. Unfortunately, his homophobic father won’t approve of either.
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3.5 Stars, Gene Gant, Harmony Ink Press, Reviewed by Jackie

A Young Man Learns That Life Is Rarely Simple In Gene Gant’s “If You Really Love Me” – Reviewed by Jackie

“Never tie your happiness to the tail of someone else’s kite.” ― Beth Hoffman

Title: If You Really Love Me

Author: Gene Gant

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

Pages/Word Count: 172 Pages

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Blurb: With time ticking until graduation, Ellis Carter doesn’t have a plan for after high school. Since his best friend Cary dropped out, he has no one to talk to. All he knows is he doesn’t want to continue being a burden to his mother. Adding to his daily torture is the school’s new resident bad boy, Saul Brooks. So to say he’s amazed when the mysterious Saul invites him to the gym for a workout is an understatement. Soon, they go from workout buddies to boyfriends, and Ellis couldn’t be happier. But happiness is fleeting. His mother begins a new relationship he thinks will lead to pain, and Cary makes a decision that could take him out of Ellis’s life for good. Just when he needs to lean on his boyfriend the most, Ellis discovers Saul has a secret that could break them apart.
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Harmony Ink Press, Suki Fleet

“This Is Not a Love Story” – This Is An Interview And Giveaway With Suki Fleet

TNA: Hi, Suki, thanks so much for being here with us today. Why don’t we start out by having you tell us a little bit about yourself? In your author bio, you say you lived an unconventional childhood. Would you care to expand upon that?

Suki: Well, I always thought my childhood was normal until I told people about it. When I was around 8 months old my parents bought a beautiful old wooden fishing boat and we lived on board, travelling between England, the Isle of Man (a small island between England and Ireland where my mum is from) and France. When I was around three, my parents decided to travel to New Zealand but we were shipwrecked on some rocks off the coast of France. The boat sank and we lost everything we had (I have some very damaged photographs of when I was a baby but that is all). After that, we lived in different places in France for a while, and my parents couriered boats between the South of France, Spain and England.
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Harmony Ink Press, Mia Kerick, Reviewed by Tina

Mia Kerick’s “The Red Sheet” Will Make You A Believer – Reviewed by Tina

“Only a man in a funny red sheet.
Looking for special things inside of me, inside of
me, inside of me.” – Five For Fighting (John Ondrasik)

Title: The Red Sheet

Author: Mia Kerick

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

Pages/Word Count: 190 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: One October morning, high school junior Bryan Dennison wakes up a different person—helpful, generous, and chivalrous—a person whose new admirable qualities he doesn’t recognize. Stranger still is the urge to tie a red sheet around his neck like a cape.
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Harmony Ink Press, John Goode, Reviewed by Sammy

151 Days: A Stunning Final Chapter In The Life Of Foster High – Reviewed by Sammy

“If you live your life scared of what other people think, then you will always be miserable.” –John Goode

Title: 151 Days (Tales From Foster High: Book Three)

Author: John Goode

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

Pages/Word Count:

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: With just 151 days left until the school year ends, Kyle Stilleno is running out of time to fulfill the promise he made and change Foster, Texas, for the better. But Kyle and his boyfriend, Brad Graymark, have more than just intolerance to deal with. Life, college, love, and sex have a way of distracting them, and they’re realizing Foster is a bigger place than they thought. When someone from their past returns at the worst possible moment, graduation becomes the least of their worries.
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Harmony Ink Press, Mia Kerick

Mia Kerick Stops By On The Last Leg Of “The Red Sheet” Blog Tour, And There’s A Giveaway!

BLURB:One October morning, high school junior Bryan Dennison wakes up a different person—helpful, generous, and chivalrous—a person whose new admirable qualities he doesn’t recognize. Stranger still is the urge to tie a red sheet around his neck like a cape.

Bryan soon realizes this compulsion to wear a red cape is accompanied by more unusual behavior. He can’t hold back from retrieving kittens from tall trees, helping little old ladies cross busy streets, and defending innocence anywhere he finds it.

Shockingly, at school, he realizes he used to be a bully. He’s attracted to the former victim of his bullying, Scott Beckett, though he has no memory of Scott from before “the change.” Where he’d been lazy in academics, overly aggressive in sports, and socially insecure, he’s a new person. And although he can recall behaving egotistically, he cannot remember his motivations.

Everyone, from his mother to his teachers to his “superjock” former pals, is shocked by his dramatic transformation. However, Scott Beckett is not impressed by Bryan’s newfound virtue. And convincing Scott he’s genuinely changed and improved, hopefully gaining Scott’s trust and maybe even his love, becomes Bryan’s obsession.

With a foreword by C. Kennedy

Book Links:
Dreamspinner Ι Goodreads


“YOU LOOK like something the cat dragged in.”

“Thanks.” I dropped my tray down on the SJL Table and sat in the chair beside Scott. I also did my best not to look across the cafeteria at the Superjock Table, but I could still feel them staring.
“What happened?” So maybe, at the moment, I was slightly stunned and was having trouble believing Scott actually gave a shit, but I didn’t voice that thought. He tilted his head and studied me. I knew he was sizing up my facial injuries. “You got beat up.”

“No, I didn’t.”

“I know ‘beat up’ when I see it—personal experience, you know?”

“It was just a minor misunderstanding, that’s all.”

“With those guys’ fists?” Scott nodded in the direction of the five jocks who all happened to be staring at me menacingly from their spot in the center of the cafeteria.

“Maybe.” I bit down into my meatball sub.

This sandwich is not bad at all. I’ll be sure to compliment its spicy Italian tastiness to the kitchen cooks.

“Did they mess you up at basketball tryouts?”


“On account of the fact that you’ve been sitting with me at lunch every day?”

“Not on account of anything but their ignorance. I’m hoping that they’ll learn to see the error of their ways.”

“F-fat ch-chance!” David called to me from where he sat several seats away. “Those g-guys will never l-learn… p-person-nal ex-ex-perience for m-me too.”

“Well, I changed.”

Scott glanced up from his yogurt and raisins. He again studied me critically. “Have you, really?”
“I’d like to think so.”

Before Scott looked back down at his bowl, I thought he might have smiled.

Guest Post:

As an author of both Young Adult and adult romantic gay fiction I have often examined this question: What is the true difference between YA and adult literature? How does it apply to my books?

To illustrate my point, please note that my adult book, Beggars and Choosers, has been a monthly discussion group topic on the YA Group LGBT Books, as has my YA novel, Not Broken, Just Bent. So, clearly, both my adult and YA writing style meets the criteria for being YA romantic fiction. In addition, Out of Hiding was originally intended as a YA novel, but the editors hinted that the characters seemed too mature for YA, so I decided to rework it to make it Adult novel. Interestingly, some readers suggested that the voice of the speaker, Philippe seemed very young for an adult.

One reviewer, Dani, on Goodreads, said about Out of Hiding,

It read very, very young and overly innocent, very YA/NA. The MCs are 20 and 21; Sophie is 17. There was sex, yes, but very, very muted.

And T.M. Smith reviewed Out of Hiding, as well, on Goodreads, saying, “My only complaint was the intimacy between the two ML. It was as if a tug of war was going between a Mature YA rating and a New Adult rating. I just wanted Kerick to choose one side or the other. There were scenes where less racy, more passionate was appropriate. But there were also times I wanted Dario to rock his socks off, and it didn’t quite make it there.” So, clearly, my readers, too, sense the “tug of war” between the YA and Adult natures of my writing.

So, instead of taking offense to these honest reviews, I decided I would learn from them. I did some research. I examined blogs and Goodreads’ discussions, as well as looked at the standard Wikipedia definitions. Wikipedia states:

A young adult, according to Erik Erikson’s stages of human development, is generally a person in the age range of 20 to 40, whereas an adolescent is a person aging from 13 to 19,[1][2] although definitions and opinions vary. The young adult stage in human development precedes middle adulthood.

And of Young Adult Fiction, Wikipedia says:

Young-adult fiction or young adult literature (often abbreviated as YA),[1] also juvenile fiction, is fiction written, published, or marketed to adolescents and young adults, although recent studies show that 55% of young-adult fiction is purchased by readers over 18 years of age.[2] The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) of the American Library Association (ALA) defines a young adult as someone between the ages of twelve and eighteen. Authors and readers of young adult (YA) novels often define the genre as literature as traditionally written for ages ranging from sixteen years up to the age of twenty-five, while Teen Fiction is written for the ages of ten and to fifteen.[3] The terms young-adult novel, juvenile novel, young-adult book, etc. refer to the works in the YA category.[4]

It seems that all of my books, so far, have generally fit into the Young Adult Fiction genre as described here.

In the blog “How to Write a Book”, Terrell from Columbia, MO, made some statements in his entry that hit home to me.

In YA it is a teenage voice that tells the story, and the attitude of that voice (whether in first or limited third person narration) is a teenage attitude: excessively concerned with subjective matters that an adult voice would not be concerned with or would have more objectivity on.

Teenage voices speak more as teenagers think they do, and not as adults think they do. Teenage characters tend to be concerned with what others think of them, whether they fit in, how can they prove themselves, how they are judged by others or by themselves, role models, how to cope with social pressure, parental pressure, romantic desires, and other serious problems. Unlike adults, teens don’t have decades of experience with such problems to draw upon. Hence, uncertainty and snap judgements are key issues at that age. – See more at: http://www.how-to-write-a-book-now.com/difference-betweenya-adult-fiction.html#sthash.yFSrY278.zjYX25h5.dpuf

I completely agree with Terrell. It is voice that makes a YA book truly work for the YA audience. However, since I write romance, the question of sexuality often enters my mind as a challenging area. How much sex is too much sex for YA- and when does a novel turn the bend, sexually-speaking, into an adult novel? Again, I will refer to what Terrell says:

Finally, sexuality is different in YA not just because many adults don’t want their teens reading graphic descriptions, but also because YA readers want to read about people who are approaching sexuality with the same feelings and lack of experience they have. (In my opinion, reading YA novels is a safe way for some teens to explore and reflect on their feelings about sexuality and romance and prepare themselves for adult life, but not everyone agrees.)
– See more at: http://www.how-to-write-a-book-now.com/difference-betweenya-adult-fiction.html#sthash.yFSrY278.zjYX25h5.dpuf

I believe that in YA sexual content should be quite reflective; not so much describing the titillation as the expectations, the sense of uncertainty—all of the emotion that rush in when a young adult person is experiencing a significant event such as sexual intimacy.

Another blogger outlines what, in her opinion, are specific characteristics of YA literature. In her blog, “Let the Words Flow”, Susan Dennard states:

So…I think the biggest differences between YA and adult boil down to:
. the voice
. the length (though that is changing these days)
. how the MC views him/herself in the world and reacts to his/her surroundings
. the depth of the POV

Dennard outlines her perspective on each of the above, saying that the voice must feel authentic to a teenager; inauthentic voice being the primary reason publishers reject YA submissions. I heartily agree that authentic voice is critical. The word count issue, I realize, comes into play here, as there are certain word counts considered more appropriate for YA fiction, however, I tend to tell the story and the word count is the number of words that I need to tell it properly. But in regard to word count, most of my novels are of appropriate length for a shorter adult or a mid-sized YA romance. The third point Dennard outlines is, in my opinion, critical—how the main character sees himself in the world. Largely, this is what a YA book is about—finding one’s place in the world. And finally, I personally need to live in the main character’s head in order for a YA novel to work for me. So, in general, I agree with all of Susan Dennard’s points.

However, I believe all of my books, YA and adult, share most of these characteristics. SO this leads me back to the question what is the true difference between YA and adult literature? And how does this apply to categorizing my romance novels?

In a Goodreads discussion about Young Adult vs. adult literature, of August 2013, Caity commented:

I personally have found that labels like Young Adult, Fantasy, Mystery, Romance, etc. are exactly that. They’re just labels, similar to labels that people face every day (especially growing up), like nerd, jock, prep, etc.

Labels are limiting, possibly stereotyping. I agree with Caity on that conclusion. She goes on to state:

In a similar sense, Young Adult is also a label. Sure, the writing may not be as poetic as Charles Dickins and the themes may not be as complex and deep-running as Crime and Punishment, but putting the words Young Adult on the cover doesn’t mean that it can’t hit home with a 50 year old Wall Street businessman. A less complex writing style doesn’t mean that the writing has been ‘dumbed down’ so that it is not suitable for adults, either. It means that the writing style is that which is readable and understandable by a younger audience as well as an older audience. I’ve found myself, as a 22-year-old college graduate, reading more YA fiction than anything else lately, because of the stories that are told and the way it lets me escape to another time in my life – and not all of my memories of my younger years are good ones.

Should we apply “labels” to categorize fictional works, and if we do, should it be more in the form of measures to safeguard those under eighteen from topics that they are not emotionally ready to fully deal with?

There are no clear or easy answers to the questions that prompted me to write tis post. So, I will state my truth as an author, and hope that it resonates with my current readers and draws in new readers who share my belief.


Having expressed my focus as a writer, I will urge you as an adult or a young adult reader to check out my new release, The Red Sheet. It is listed as Young Adult at Harmony Ink Press and it, indeed, deals with the struggles of two male characters who are high school juniors. The voice is that of a rather witty and self-deprecating seventeen-year-old boy, who has experienced a life-changing “miracle” that has forced him to contemplate every aspect of who he is. The Red Sheet deals with the topics of bullying, fitting into your surroundings, as well as making tough choices that lead to true change. It deals with the concept of forgiveness as mandatory to both the person who has done wrong as well as the person who has been wronged. These concepts are not just pertinent to young adult readers, but to all readers.

031014_1105_MiaKerickIs3.jpgAbout the Author: Mia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—all named after saints—and five nonpedigreed cats—all named after the next best thing to saints, Boston Red Sox players. Her husband of twenty years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about that, as it is a sensitive subject.

Mia focuses her stories on the emotional growth of troubled men and their relationships, and she believes that sex has a place in a love story, but not until it is firmly established as a love story. As a teen, Mia filled spiral-bound notebooks with romantic tales of tortured heroes (most of whom happened to strongly resemble lead vocalists of 1980s big-hair bands) and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She is thankful to Dreamspinner Press for providing her with an alternate place to stash her stories.

Mia is proud of her involvement with the Human Rights Campaign and cheers for each and every victory made in the name of marital equality. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology.

My themes I always write about:

Sweetness. Unconventional love, tortured/damaged heroes- only love can save them.

Author Links:

Website | Facebook | Amazon

THE GIVEAWAY: Mia Kerick is offering a Tour Wide Giveaway via Rafflecopter. It ends soon, though, so if you haven’t entered, do it quickly!


Harmony Ink Press, Reviewed by Tina, Winter Sandberg

A Very Public Love For Winter Sandberg’s “Private Display of Affection”

“…Not everything needs to be about sex. Just doing what you’re doing right now is fulfilling. Hold each other. Kiss for hours. Kissing is the best. It’s two souls communicating.” – Winter Sandberg

Title: Private Display of Affection (North Star #0.5)

Author: Winter Sandberg

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

Pages/Word Count: 210 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Hugo Thorson knows he’s gay, but coming out during high school is not part of his plan. His parents are open-minded, but Hugo doesn’t want to add more stress for anybody, especially his dad, who is fighting terminal cancer.
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Harmony Ink Press, M.B. Mulhall

M.B. Mulhall’s “Heavyweight” Is In A Class By Itself

“The Universe doesn’t like secrets. It conspires to reveal the truth, to lead you to it.” – Lisa Unger

Title: Heavyweight

Author: M.B. Mulhall

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

Pages/Word Count: 230 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Secrets. Their weight can be crushing, but their release can change everything—and not necessarily for the better. Ian is no stranger to secrets. Being a gay teen in a backwater southern town, Ian must keep his orientation under wraps, especially since he spends a lot of time with his hands all over members of the same sex, pinning their sweaty, hard bodies to the wrestling mat.
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Dreamspinner Press, Johanna Parkhurst

Three Cheers For “Here’s to You, Zeb Pike” by Johanna Parkhurst

“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” ― Confucius

Title: Here’s to You, Zeb Pike

Author: Johanna Parkhurst

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

Pages/Word Count: 180

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Fact: When Zebulon Pike attempted to climb what is now known as Pikes Peak, he got stuck in waist-deep snow and had to turn back.

That’s the last thing Dusty Porter learns in his Colorado history class before appendicitis ruins his life. It isn’t long before social services figures out that Dusty’s parents are more myth than reality, and he and his siblings are shipped off to live in Vermont with an uncle and aunt they’ve never met.
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Harmony Ink Press, Mia Kerick

Mia Kerick Proves There’s Hope If You’re “Not Broken, Just Bent”

“Forgiveness requires a sense that bad behaviour is a sign of suffering rather than malice.” ― Alain de Botton

BLURB: Braving the start of high school, longtime childhood friends Benjamin Wells and Timmy Norton quickly realize they are entering a whole new world colored by their family responsibilities. Ben is trying to please his strict father; Timmy is taking care of his younger sisters. While their easy camaraderie is still comfortable, Ben notices Timmy growing distant and evasive, but Ben has his own problems. It’s easier to let concerns about Timmy’s home life slide, especially when Timmy changes directions and starts to get a little too close. Ben doesn’t know how to handle the new feelings Timmy’s desire for love inspires, and his continuing denial wounds Timmy deeply.

But what Timmy perceives as Ben’s greatest betrayal is yet to come, and the fallout threatens to break them apart forever. Over the next four years, the push and pull between them and the outside world twists and tears at Ben and Timmy, and they are haunted by fear and regret. However, sometimes what seems broken is just a little bent, and if they can find forgiveness within themselves, Ben and Timmy may be able to move forward together.

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Harmony Ink Press, M.J. O'Shea

MJ O’Shea’s “Blood Moon” Might Make You Wish Your Childhood Memories Were This Exciting

“Watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” ― Roald Dahl

***Warning: This Review Contains Major Spoilers!***

I was very excited to read Blood Moon because it was about my favorite subject: vampires! After my last book, I needed something fun and sexy. Blood Moon delivered on all fronts! It was fast paced, fun and sexy. Yes, I used those words before, but it was. Enjoyed the book so much I could have read on.

The story is about childhood friends Zack and Noah. The boys meet on a summer vacation at an upstate lake, when they are 5, and become inseparable. When I was a kid, I too went upstate to spend my summers. I never met a vampire but hey, the fantasy is nice. This brought back fond memories for me and made me enjoy the book so much more. Every year they would spend their summers together. The friendship turns into love and when they are both 17, they share their first kiss. Everything is fine until the next day when Noah rejects Zack with a flimsy excuse. Zack’s devastation is palpable.
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Harmony Ink Press, Johanna Parkhurst

Johanna Parkhurst Is Here To Tell You Things About Zeb Pike You Never Knew. And She’s Giving Away A Book!

TNA: Hi, Johanna, thanks so much for being here with us today. Why don’t we start out by having you tell us a little bit about yourself? Hobbies, interests, odds and ends things that make you, you.

JP: Thanks so much for having me! I’m honored to be here.

So…about me. I’m a middle school language arts teacher and curriculum writer by day, YA lit author by night. I’ve been called quirky, and I take that as a compliment. I ski badly, but I do it anyway. I read A LOT. I love football. I recently had to retire from a pretty solid fantasy football career because of its adverse effects on my blood pressure. I have a super supportive husband who seems totally fine with my writing obsession. Oh, and I grew up on a dairy farm, so I have mad cow-milking skills. Really.

TNA: Your new Young Adult novel Here’s to You, Zeb Pike has just recently been released by Harmony Ink. Is this your first published work, and if so, what made you decide to make your first book not only YA but also M/M?

JP: This IS my first published book—and as I often say, I can’t thank the fine folks at Harmony Ink enough for taking a chance on it.

I definitely never decided to write YA. I just always…have. I’ve always loved reading young adult fiction, so I’ve always gravitated towards writing it. Then I started teaching middle school, and all I ever had time to read was YA, so the pattern continued. I have attempted a few adult short stories here and there, but every novel-length work I’ve ever written has been for young adults.

How this story came to also be an LGBT novel is another tale entirely. I wrote a blog post for Madison Parker’s blog (www.madisonparklove.com) about how the main character in this novel came out to me…and I’m not really kidding when I say that’s what happened. I actually didn’t intend, when I started writing this book, to write a story with LGBT characters. Emmitt and Dusty just ended up being so perfect together–the more scenes I wrote about their friendship, the more I realized that they weren’t just friends.

With that said, I pushed to publish this book and have written more LGBT characters since because I strongly believe that teens need more LGBT role models in their libraries and classroom readings. Authors like Alex Sanchez and David Levithan are doing a great job of breaking more LGBT YA characters into mainstream lit, but it’s still a grossly underrepresented field in terms of what teens are encouraged to read and given direct access to.

TNA: Do you remember the moment you came up with the idea for the story? What drew you to Zebulon Pike as a source of inspiration?

JP: I still remember the first time I heard Zeb Pike’s story. I didn’t live in Colorado yet, and I was visiting the area with a friend who’s a native. We were driving past Pikes Peak, the mountain named after Zeb Pike, and my friend mentioned something about what it would be like to be in Zeb Pike’s shoes and come across an amazing mountain like that…and then not be able to get to the top. That image stuck with me. Later on, when I started writing Dusty’s story, I decided I wanted to explore Zeb Pike’s story through Dusty.

TNA: What’s the most interesting fact you discovered about Zeb Pike that we may not know?

JP: The man’s actually a mountain of weird facts. (Get it?) I still think the most fascinating one is that he never made it to the top of the mountain named after him, but there are plenty of others. He joined the army at 15. He got lost a lot, but being lost usually led him to interesting adventures. He really was (as Dusty mentions in the book) captured by the Spanish during his travels in Colorado. He really did (as Dusty also mentions) record his explorations in journals that were very popular with the public.

TNA: Would you like to tell us a little bit about your protagonist, Dusty Porter? What is it about him, do you think, that will appeal most to readers?

JP: I think Dusty’s pretty real. He’s based on a lot of teenagers that exist in my own real world. He’s sometimes self-conscious, usually well-intentioned (but not always), and generally just trying to figure out who he is and how to mesh that with who the world wants him to be.

TNA: If you could bring him off the page and into the real world, what’s the one thing you think he might try to change?

JP: Ha! I love that question. He might try to re-write himself as a little taller. He’d also want to be a much better skateboarder. But I think that by the end of this book, Dusty’s actually become pretty happy with who he is.

TNA: Would you care to share an excerpt from Here’s to You, Zeb Pike with us?

JP: I’d love to!

This is one of my favorite scenes—it’s the first time Emmitt and Dusty meet.

Excerpt from Here’s to You, Zeb Pike

A tall kid, who I can only assume is Emmitt, is waiting outside Jack’s office when we arrive at Colby. “Hey, Emmitt.” Jack puts down his bag to unlock his office and motions for us to shake hands. “Emmitt LaPoint, this is Dusty Porter. Not Dustin. Dusty Porter, this is Emmitt LaPoint. Not Emmy.”

He seems to think that’s pretty funny, but I’m not amused. Emmitt cracks a little bit of a smile, but he’s all business in a matter of seconds. “Nice to meet you, Dusty. You sure look like Coach Morton.”

I guess I’m going to be hearing that a lot around this school, considering we’re mirror images.

“Hey, Coach, do you know his locker assignment?”

Jack frowns as he finally gets his office door unlocked. He fishes around inside his bag for a moment before he comes up with a green slip of paper. “Here, Dusty. It’s the total enrollment package. Locker assignment, homeroom location, schedule.”

Emmitt looks over my shoulder at the paper in front of me and nods. “Cool. Okay, Coach, I’ll start taking him around the school before everybody gets here.”

Maybe I suddenly have a deer-in-the-headlights look, because Jack puts his hand on my shoulder. “Is that okay, Dusty? I mean, if you guys can give me a few minutes, I can come around with you.”

Excellent—my uncle baby-sitting me on my first day. “No, Jack, I’ll be fine.”

A few minutes later, Emmitt and I are walking down the wide school hallway. Emmitt studies locker numbers as he looks for mine, and I study Emmitt. He has dark-blond hair that’s kind of curly and hangs down around his ears. His eyes are really green, as green as—well, once I start thinking about it, my dad’s. Even though he doesn’t look that big, you can tell he’s pretty built. Must be the hockey. He’s wearing khakis and a button-up shirt. I look down at my black polo and old jeans and wonder what the other kids at Colby are going to be dressed like. The fact is that this guy is really good-looking, and I can’t keep my eyes off him as he explains what the classrooms are on each side of the hall we’re walking down. I’m definitely going to get lost at some point during the day.

It was probably late last school year—the end of eighth grade—when I got really worried about the fact that I just didn’t think girls were all that amazing-looking. Race could babble on about them for hours. Jasmine has the most amazing boobs, I’d love to get to second base with her and Did you see those jeans Erin’s wearing today? Holy shit, that ass, Dusty. Jasmine’s boobs and Erin’s ass never did anything for me, but when I had my first PE class with Daniel Garcia-Allan, I started to realize why. I got a B in that PE class only because I missed most of the directions Coach Cartwright gave us.

At first it completely freaked me out, and I spent about a month trying to figure out what I was going to do. Then I realized there wasn’t much to do. I was so busy taking care of Matt and Julia that it wasn’t like I had time to date anyway, and Race always just assumed that was why I didn’t ask any girls out. I’d still dance with a few of them at Prescott dances, and nobody ever seemed to guess that if I had it my way I would have been dancing with a six-foot-three basketball player who definitely did not have C-cups.

Emmitt finds my locker for me, and I tear my eyes away from him long enough to get it open. It isn’t too far away from my homeroom—only about two hallways—so mornings will be a breeze.

Emmitt proceeds to lead me on a tour of my schedule, taking me to each of my classes one by one. He’s thorough. He hits every detail of the school, which is big, right down to where I am welcome to sit with him and his brother in the cafeteria. He’s so thorough that I manage to forget how amazing his eyes are long enough to actually figure out where my classes are.

“So, do you do this as a job or something?” I finally ask him. “You really have a routine.”

Emmitt starts laughing. “Nah. I just did this at the beginning of the year for my little brother, so I sort of repeated it for you. I think that’s why Coach asked me to do it.” By this time we’ve circled back to my locker, but he hangs around and keeps talking. “Coach is a cool guy, but I didn’t think you’d want your uncle showing you around on your first day or anything.”

Very true. Since “Wanna go to the movies this weekend?” probably isn’t an appropriate question to ask at this point, I decide to ask something else I’ve been curious about. “Is your brother really into skateboarding or something?” I haven’t seen any skate parks around town or any kids with skateboards coming into school, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. I like to skateboard, and I sure don’t carry a board around with me—I don’t even own one.

Emmitt rolls his eyes. “Obsessed, for about the last two years. Why, you into boarding too?”

I start unpacking my backpack and loading notebooks into my locker. The notebooks are all empty, white, brand-new and newly purchased by Beth. Already I miss my old history notebook from Prescott, completely covered with the Calvin and Hobbes cartoons I’ve been drawing on the cover since August. “Yeah, a little. I’d love to find out where there are some skate parks around here.”

“Sure, no problem,” Emmitt answers. “I’ll make sure Casey sits with us during lunch so he can tell you all about that scene. Me, I’m just into hockey.”

By now it’s almost time for homeroom. The hallways have started to completely fill up, and people are yelling hello to Emmitt from every direction. “Man, I gotta get my stuff,” he says. “You gonna find your homeroom okay?”

I look around at the giant crowd of people that seems to have materialized around me. “I’ll be okay.” I grab my books and start pushing my way through the hall as Emmitt heads in the opposite direction.

TNA: Did either of your main characters give you fits as you were writing, not wanting to cooperate with where you saw their story going? If so, which one?

JP: I think Dusty coming out of the closet on me was about the biggest plot twist I’ve ever had occur during my own writing process. Emmitt’s pretty happy about it, though, so it was definitely worth the epic rewrite.

TNA: What would you say are the best and worst parts of the writing process for you?

JP: I am what some might call a “binge” writer. I tend to write for large chunks of time and then go on hiatus for a while. (This is also partly because I have a really demanding day job that requires a lot of weekend writing.) In some ways, this is awesome—I generally feel very accomplished at the end of a large chunk of writing time. On the other hand, I sort of exist in a perpetual state of NaNoWriMo, which can be exhausting. (And is also probably the reason that when everybody else gets so excited about NaNoWriMo, I’m like, “what’s going on?”)

TNA: Are you a plotter or a pantser? Whichever you are, why do you feel that method works best for you?

JP: I think I’m a little of both, actually. I usually have my plot thought out when I start writing something, but I end up changing said plot so many times that I eventually just feel like a pantser. (Also, I had to look up the terms “plotter” and “pantser” because I’d never heard them before. I will now proceed to use them constantly, because they are fun.)

TNA: If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?

JP: The ability to freeze time! I’d get so much more writing done. I’m sighing with happiness just imagining the possibilities.

TNA: If time travel were possible, where would you go and why?

JP: Wow, that’s tough. I think I’ve been teaching history too long—every time I think of some really cool time period to visit, I think of a horrible downside to said time period. (Example: “Would be kind of cool to go hang out with Hemingway. Oh, wait, I don’t wanna end up in a world war.” Or, “Hey, I could go travel the Oregon trail! Hold on. Why would I want to do that? Minimal reading material AND they had to kill their own food.”) I can’t go into the future because then I’m just in the plot of Back to the Future, and while that plot’s fun to watch, who wants to actually go through it? (Hoverboards aside, of course.) As such, I’ve decided to stay in 2013, thanks.

TNA: Would you care to share a little bit of information on any of your current WIPs?

I’ve got one in the works that is, quite possibly, the most angsty story I’ve written. And that’s saying something, as I write a lot of angst. I’m also perpetually working on the sequel to Here’s to You, Zeb Pike. I’m really enjoying writing it, but it’s taking some time. I just love these characters so much that I want everything about their next chapter to be perfect. The durn thing might not see the outside of my computer for several years at this rate.

TNA: Where can readers find you on the internet?

I recently learned how to tweet (no big deal), so I’d love if people want to join my approximate six Twitter followers. Right now, to paraphrase a friend of mine, I feel like I’m talking to myself. And frankly, I felt schizophrenic enough before Twitter. @johannawriteson. Same with Facebook, if you’d care to like my page (hopefully you’d like me in real life, too).



Harmony Ink Press, Mia Kerick

Schedule Some Time With Mia Kerick’s “Intervention”

“There are tons of kids out there who endure chronic abuse and suffer in silence. They can’t trust anyone, they can’t tell anyone, and they have no idea how to get away from it.” — C. Kennedy

I have a hard time reading books containing incest. The subject matter is a heinous one and I laud author Mia Kerick for attempting to tackle it in her newest book. When I got to the first part in Intervention where the history of incest was clearly stated, I didn’t think I’d be able to read the book. But, I pressed on. I’m not sure if it had to do with the skilled way in which Ms. Kerick wrote it or my determination to get through a troubling story. I say all this to be sure you know where I was while reading Intervention.

**Warning: This Review Contains Spoilers**

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Cody Kennedy, Harmony Ink Press

It’s Safe To Say “Safe” Is A Great Addition To C. Kennedy’s Bookshelf

“He was still too young to know that the heart’s memory eliminates the bad and magnifies the good, and that thanks to this artifice we manage to endure the burden of the past.”– Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Following as it does on the hot little kitten heels of C. Kennedy’s most recent title, the still best-selling Omorphi, Safe might seem to fall a little short of the mark. In my humble opinion, it lands right in Omorphi’s tracks. Safe is a reboot of a short previously published by the author with a different publisher. A closer look will reveal that the only thing missing from Safe are 400 pages and a whole lot of angst. It is a different kind of story, but as Mr. Kennedy is the author, it has the same basic message of hope and happiness.
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