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

Review: Henning Book Two: Prince of Wintergrave by Hayden Thorne

TNA Page Turner Resized

Title: Henning Book 2: Prince of Wintergrave

Author: Hayden Thorne

Publisher: Queerteen Press

Pages/Word Count: 166 Pages

At a Glance: Suspense, plot twists, and even a few tears make this a great read

Blurb: Being a prince in a past life yields no benefits in the present, Henning has quickly learned. His concerned housemates have made themselves his official, overbearing chaperones, Ellery appears to despise him, and Henning’s limited movements slowly wear down his nerves. With his awakening process turning out to be more of a zombie-like stagger, the stakes rise inevitably as undead attacks not only increase in frequency, but also in danger levels.

Henning finds some relief in the company of Alan Scott — a handsome, smart young man he meets in a store, who displays an earnest interest in Henning. He gradually tears Henning’s heartbroken attention away from Ellery, offering him promises of happiness as can only be defined in a boy’s first love.

In the meantime, danger now spills over to threaten innocent civilians as they get dragged into monster attacks, making it difficult for Henning and his companions to fight back while raising troubling questions about the walls between worlds being torn down by dark magic. It also reveals the effect of a soul bond on Henning and Ellery’s awakening — that is, each boy’s awakening is affected by the other, and the mystery of how and why only get muddier.

As Henning and his companions scramble for answers, it’s a mad race against time when things happen that make them suspect Varian of crossing over to their world, searching for Henning.


Review: One of the things that can be difficult about reading a Young Adult romance, as an adult, is keeping the world-weary cynicism we’ve accumulated over the years from casting a shadow over the memories of what it felt like to fall in love for the very first time, to get our very first kiss. One of the great things about an author who captures those things, not to mention the pangs of unrequited love, so well, is that in spite of the wisdom we’ve gained through those years, we can journey back to a time in our lives when everything seemed like it could be both amazing and the end of the world at the same time, and the only thing that mattered was being in the moment because the future was little more than a vague notion that didn’t exist much past tomorrow.

Henning Book Two: Prince of Wintergrave picks up with all the danger, action, and drama, not to mention teenage angst, that left us hanging when Book One ended. Henning Babkis, our hero prince, is every bit as engaging in the continuation of his story. An evil has crossed over from Wintergrave into this world, and has brought with him his undead minions to help capture young Henning for nefarious purposes. Hayden Thorne ups the tension in this storyline because we, the reader, know the danger Henning faces, and from whom, but we’re helpless to warn him to be careful, and it was so great getting emotionally invested and involved in the story in this way.

It’s refreshing to read a Young Adult novel that portrays positive adult role models along with its realistically portrayed teens. Henning may be orphaned but he has a family who has taken him in, and love and accept him unconditionally. He behaves like a teenager, too, which is somewhat of a pet peeve of mine—when young adult characters think, behave, and speak like adults rather than teens. Henning has concerns far greater than grades and guys, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t worry about those everyday things alongside the fact that his “Extreme Husband” doesn’t remember him. The fact there’s a villain who feasts on a human’s very essence, not to mention wanting to do bad things to Henning, adds an extra layer of intrigue to the story and keeps the page-turning at maximum eagerness to see what will happen next, which is why the book has earned the Page Turner designation.

Henning’s relationship with Ellery Thomas, the boy to whom Henning is soul bonded, unfolds slowly and in a believable way, with no quick fixes and, thankfully, no unrealistic promises of forever after at the end. These boys don’t fight every step of the way through this book for their relationship; they fight to save each other and those they love, the end result being, then, that they realize there is a “they” that might be worth working on too. It was the ideal resolution to their storyline.

In a surprise twist, one I didn’t expect until it happened during the climax of the book, is a poignant moment that didn’t merely bring tears to my eyes, they spilled and left be a bit of a weepy mess, something that doesn’t happen to me often enough to skip mentioning. When I’m that emotionally invested in a book, the author has done his or her job, and done it well.

With its strong characterizations, fantastical premise and brisk paced action, Henning, Books One and Two, are novels aimed at a teen audience that even a big kid at heart can love too. Henning was wrong about one thing, though—his life, what we got to see of it, didn’t make for a sucky memoir, and I’m so glad he shared it.


You can buy Henning Book Two: The Prince of Wintergrave here:

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

Hayden Thorne, Queerteen Press

Excerpt and Giveaway: Henning Book 2: The Prince of Wintergrave by Hayden Thorne

Hayden Thorne


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

Review: Henning: The Hunted Prince (Book One) by Hayden Thorne

Title: Henning: The Hunted Prince

Author: Hayden Thorne

Publisher: Queerteen Press

Pages/Word Count: 143 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Young Henning Babkis has learned not to consider himself to be anything special. Ignored and taken for granted by his family, his education suffering as a result of their neglect, he nevertheless struggles to fit in and improve himself, though with unimpressive results. He’s also learned not to expect anything more for himself, convinced that he’s doomed to live his life in a deep closet, surrounded by people who don’t care and who’d have given him a lot of grief if they were to find out he’s gay. Continue reading

Hayden Thorne, JMS Books LLC

Excerpt and Giveaway: Henning: The Hunted Prince by Hayden Thorne

Being a prince in a past life and a different world guarantees nothing in 21st century Earth. One of the best things about writing YA fiction is the exploration of a teen’s relationship with the adults surrounding him. That ends up being great fun in comedy, and in my Masks series, we have Eric pretty much driving his family crazy with his attitude and his hundred and one misadventures. For my Henning series, I wanted to reverse things and explore a relationship between a boy and his guardians (one of whom is his uncle). In this case, Henning’s the normal one (or as normal as a reincarnated prince with powers can be normal), while his guardians – “chaperones” – are the ones driving him nuts. And it turned out to be just as fun writing it because in Henning’s case, none of his guardians are married or even parents. So while they’re utterly ignorant where raising a child’s concerned, they’re still as gung-ho as ever (turning to guide books for pointers), much to Henning’s horror. The fact that they’re also reincarnated officers with their own powers bodes nothing but ill for the boy’s teen years.

Continue reading

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

Review: Masks: Ordinary Champions by Hayden Thorne

Title: Masks: Ordinary Champions

Author: Hayden Thorne

Publisher: Queerteen Press

Pages/Word Count: 189 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Book 3 of the Masks series follows Eric’s adventures as a newly-transformed supervillain sidekick. Taking advantage of Eric’s relationship with Peter, the Devil’s Trill uses him for a shield against the superheroes. In the meantime, new villains and a new, covert vigilante-like group appear, with a young hero with chameleon powers attempting to infiltrate the Trill’s hideout and help Eric. Continue reading

Hayden Thorne, Queerteen Press

Guest Post and Giveaway: “Masks: Ordinary Champions” by Hayden Thorne

“Make it dark, make it grim, make it tough, but then, for the love of God, tell a joke.” – Joss Whedon



Book 3 of the Masks series follows Eric’s adventures as a newly-transformed supervillain sidekick. Taking advantage of Eric’s relationship with Peter, the Devil’s Trill uses him for a shield against the superheroes. In the meantime, new villains and a new, covert vigilante-like group appear, with a young hero with chameleon powers attempting to infiltrate the Trill’s hideout and help Eric.

Eric struggles with his conscience and schemes to turn the tables on the Trill, but his powers deteriorate. He grows more and more unstable and unsafe while the Trill’s henchmen appear to grow stronger and stronger, as though they were also subjected to the same manipulation that’s been used on Eric. As the Trill fights both the heroes and tries to assert his dominance over the new villains, Eric realizes that he doesn’t have much time left to set things right on his own, even if it costs him his life. Continue reading

A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week, Ashe Barker, Ashlyn Kane, Bey Deckard, Cardeno C., Charlie Cochet, Cover Reveal, D.H. Starr, GayRomLit, Hayden Thorne, JC Wallace, K.A. Merikan, Keira Andrews, Morgan James, Rebecca Cohen, Rhys Ford, T.M. Smith, T.T. Kove

Here’s A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Hi, everyone, and welcome back to anyone who’s popped in today to see what we’ve got in store for the week ahead!

If you missed my announcement on RJ Scott’s blog about the Virtual Gift Basket Giveaways we’ve got coming up at the end of the month and into the first week of October, I’ll repeat the news here because, well, it bears repeating. We’ll be doing a giveaway of SIX baskets, courtesy of Team TNA’s GayRomLit featured and supporting authors. Each basket will include $25 in E-Gift Cards to various retailers, as well as E-books from the following participating authors: Jordan L. Hawk, Erica Pike, Zathyn Priest, DH Starr, Rhys Ford, Sophie Bonaste, Ethan Day, JK Hogan, Rafe Haze, LE Franks, Edmond Manning, Jacob Z. Flores, Jamie Lynn Miller, Lex Chase, RJ Scott, Sherrie Henry, Katey Hawthorne, Charlie Cochet, Deanna Wadsworth, and a late but very welcome addition to the giveaway, Z.A. Maxfield.

That’s a lot of titles and a lot of gift cards to give away, and I’m so excited to get the party started in just a few weeks’ time!

But for now, here’s what’s happening this week. Continue reading

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

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

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

Title: The Glass Minstrel

Author: Hayden Thorne

Publisher: Queerteen Press

Pages/Word Count: 216 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

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

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

Small Gems Sunday: “Grave’s End” by Hayden Thorne

“He now knew what that ache was: empathy. And it wasn’t just any kind of empathy, but one involving loneliness.” – Hayden Thorne

Title: Grave’s End

Author: Hayden Thorne

Publisher: Queerteen Press

Pages/Word Count: 66 Pages

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Blurb: It isn’t business as usual for Maelwine when a new family moves into Grave’s End House. With the old, great house standing untenanted for quite some time, being a house shade attached to it has turned the hours dull for Maelwine. He has no family to entertain him, no variations in his daily duty, which involves the rousing of shadows in every room when the sun goes down. Continue reading

A.E. Via, B. Snow, Brita Addams, CJane Elliott, Garrett Leigh, Hayden Thorne, Heidi Belleau, Heidi Cullinan, J.P. Barnaby, Lisa Henry, Perie Wolford, Poppy Dennison, Shira Anthony, Sneak Peek

Here’s A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Hi, everyone, thanks so much to all of you for stopping by to see what we have in store for you in the week ahead. It’s going to be a full one, so be sure to check back frequently to catch all the guest posts, giveaways, and reviews.

Here’s a look at what’s coming up…


MondayHayden Thorne kicks off the week with a guest post and giveaway of her Young Adult Historical Fantasy, The Glass Minstrel

A.E. Via also stops in on the Embracing His Syn Blog Tour

TuesdayShira Anthony is here with a giveaway on the Dissonance Blog Tour

B. Snow also drops by with a guest post on the Bedtime Stories Anthology Blog Tour

Brita Addams will also be here today in her monthly guest spot

WednesdayHeidi Cullinan makes TNA a tour stop on the Hero Blog Tour, with a guest post and giveaway

CJane Elliott is here today, as well, with a giveaway on the Stepping Through Blog Tour

ThursdayLisa Henry and Heidi Belleau are here with a giveaway on the Bliss Blog Tour

FridayPoppy Dennison stops in today on the Coconut Grove Blog Tour

Saturday – Today we have Perie Wolford here with a giveaway on the Turning 17 Blog Tour

J.P. Barnaby is also here today with an exclusive (and naughty!) little ficlet featuring Brian and Jamie of the Little Boy Lost series

Sunday – Finally, to close out the week, we have Garrett Leigh here today on the Bold (Blue Boy: Book Three) Blog Tour, with a giveaway


And that rounds out the week ahead. Until next week, happy reading!

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

Hayden Thorne’s “Masks: Evolution” Delivers More Action And Adventure To Vintage City

“Sometimes giving up control could very well be the cure to one’s spiritual sickness. Or whatever.” – Hayden Thorne

Title: Masks: Evolution

Author: Hayden Thorne

Publisher: Queerteen Press

Pages/Word Count:

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: While his friends continue to develop their newfound powers, Eric begins to feel the effects of being the odd man out. Around him, things go from bad to worse for Vintage City as the Shadow Puppet, a new supervillain, steps into the Devil’s Trill’s shoes and wreaks havoc with his army of killer mannequins. Continue reading

Hayden Thorne, JMS Books LLC, Queerteen Press

Excerpt And Giveaway – Masks: Evolution by Hayden Thorne

22457655Today we welcome Hayden Thorne on the Masks: Evolution Blog Tour. Evolution is the sequel to Rise of Heroes, and carries on the story of teenage Eric, his boyfriend Peter, their friend Althea, and all the superhero and supervillain action Vintage City can handle.


B. Snow, Brigham Vaughn, Cover Reveal, Hayden Thorne, K. Vale, K.A. Merikan, L.A. Witt, Liz Borino, M.J. O'Shea, Nikka Michaels, Sean Michael, Sneak Peek

Here’s A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Hi, everyone, I hope you’ve all had a great weekend!

Here’s a look at all the great authors, blog tours and giveaways we’re hosting here at The Novel Approach in the week ahead, and, of course, we’ll have lots of new reviews as well.

MondayBrigham Vaughn kicks off the week on the Equals Blog Tour

We’ll also have B. Snow with us today, one of the contributing authors in the Project Fierce Chicago Anthology, to talk a bit about Project Fierce and its mission to provide housing and support services for homeless LGBTQ youth in Chicago

TuesdayHayden Thorne stops in today on the Masks: Evolution Blog Tour

Nikka Michaels will also be a return guest today to talk a bit about her new short story from Cobblestone Press

WednesdayLiz Borino will be here today on the Secrets in the Air Blog Tour

Thursday – Today, L.A. Witt stops in on the Noble Metals Blog Tour

FridaySean Michael drops by on the Size Matters Blog Tour

And Kimber Vale will be here to do a Cover Reveal for her upcoming book Hard Act to Follow

SaturdayMJ O’Shea is our guest on the Impractical Magic Blog Tour

SundayK.A. Merikan closes out the week on the Road of No Return Blog Tour

And that sums up what’s in store for the week ahead. Until next week, happy reading!

Hayden Thorne, Queerteen Press

Hayden Thorne Drops By Today With A Giveaway On The “Grave’s End” Blog Tour

The Novel Approach is pleased to have Hayden back with us today. She’s offering a little excerpt from her latest novella Grave’s End, from Queerteen Press, and she’s offering the chance for one lucky reader to win an e-copy of the book.

Continue reading

Ashley Ladd, Elizabeth Noble, EM Rose, GayRomLit, Hayden Thorne, Heidi Cullinan, Jamie Lynn Miller, JC Wallace, Mary Calmes, Sneak Peek

Here’s A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week And At The Coastal Magic Convention

Hi, everyone, I hope you’ve all had a great week.

We’re looking forward to another fun-filled and busy one, and we’ve also got the privilege of sharing a little bit of info about the Coastal Magic Convention, coming in February of 2015. Our very own Lynn will be attending as a Featured Blogger for The Novel Approach, and I couldn’t think of anyone better for the job! Read on after the Sneak Peek info. You’ll find links to the list of Featured Authors, which will be growing in the months ahead, as well as some other important information about the convention.
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Hayden Thorne, Queerteen Press

Hayden Thorne Stops By Today To Talk “Wollstone” And A Giveaway

"The Nightingale and the Rose" by Oscar Wilde gave me the idea for 'Wollstone's' main love story

“The Nightingale and the Rose” by Oscar Wilde gave me the idea for ‘Wollstone’s’ main love story

So the Nightingale pressed closer against the thorn, and the thorn touched her heart, and a fierce pang of pain shot through her. Bitter, bitter was the pain, and wilder and wilder grew her song, for she sang of the Love that is perfected by Death, of the Love that dies not in the tomb.

– Oscar Wilde, “The Nightingale and the Rose”

Wollstone is the most fairy tale-y of my contemporary fantasy books, and I needed it to be that way. I’ve always wanted to write a gay YA boarding school story, considering my sources of inspiration and writing background, and I decided I didn’t want it to be a realistic one. Just the concept of an exclusive school for boys makes me instantly look at fantastical elements and not the issues that can be raised involving boarding schools and gay kids.
Continue reading

A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week, Anais Morgan, Backlist Book Bump, GayRomLit, Hayden Thorne, Jordan L. Hawk, Nikka Michaels, Paul Alan Fahey, Rain Carrington, Taylor V. Donovan

Here’s A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Hi, everyone, I hope you’ve all had an outstanding week. We’ve got another fun-filled seven days coming up, with more guest posts, interviews, giveaways and reviews to come.

Here’s what’s on tap for the week ahead.

MondayTaylor V. Donovan kicks off the week on the Hearsay Blog Tour

And Kris Jacen drops in as well, with a guest article about con etiquette

TuesdayHayden Thorne drops back in for a visit to promote her new book Wollstone, and she’s also offering a giveaway

WednesdayAnais Morgan is our guest today with a guest post and giveaway

ThursdayJordan L. Hawk stops in for a Countdown to GRL visit and to chat a bit about the latest book in the Whyborne & Griffin series, Necropolis

FridayNikka Michaels is our guest on her Lip Service Blog Tour, and there’s a giveaway

SaturdayRain Carrington is our guest with a Backlist Book Bump and giveaway

SundayPaul Alan Fahey is here with a guest post and giveaway for his latest novel Too Long Among the Dead

And that rounds out the week ahead. Until next week, happy reading!

Hayden Thorne, Queerteen Press

Hayden Thorne’s “Banshee” Is Here, And She’s Offering A Giveaway

My favorite collection of Victorian ghost fiction

I believe in ghosts. It’s an odd thing coming from someone who’s pretty much an atheist and who’d sooner worship science than a god. But I readily admit it without an ounce of self-consciousness or embarrassment. I do believe in ghosts because I’ve been in a situation that counted as a haunting. And as I’ve noted at my blog in the past, I wasn’t alone when the incident occurred, and I’ve got my younger sister to corroborate my story. We still talk about it from time to time, and I’m sure neither of us will forget it till the end of our days.

The incident’s rather too long to recount here in full detail, but let me just say this: we continue to be convinced it was our dad, who’d recently passed away, whom we heard walking slowly up the stairs and across the hallway, only to stop at our bedroom door to turn the knob. Thank heaven our door was locked. If it were a live person, we’d have heard him/her walk away from our door, but we heard nothing after the doorknob turned a couple of times. This rough summary doesn’t do my experience any justice, but for the sake of brevity for this guest blog, that’s it.

I’ve also been deeply fascinated with the supernatural when it comes to my entertainment. Ghost stories in the traditional sense are my love, and when I say “traditional sense”, I’m talking about ghosts treated as – ghosts. Not things that kill people in an orgy of blood lust, which tends to be the modern interpretation of ghosts, particularly in film. I’ve read recently published ghost stories that ended up being nothing more than chapter after chapter of increasingly over-the-top hauntings, so that there’s nothing subtle about ghostly activities in those books.

Classic Victorian ghost fiction done right by a contemporary author

I had high hopes for the more recent adaptation of Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black, but while the movie does a spectacular job visually, the writers have completely ignored the gradual, creeping nature of Jennet Humfrye’s hauntings in favor of jump-scares and piled-on moments of ghostly occurrences, which aren’t reflective of Hill’s novella at all. The movie’s release, though, re-ignited my love for Victorian ghost fiction, and I re-read Hill’s novella prior to seeing it, and I dug out my old anthologies of Victorian ghost fiction to enjoy.

I wish I could explain why ghosts and ghost fiction have such a stranglehold on me (not that I’m complaining, mind). I think it’s got a lot to do with the unknown, with what goes on after death and how ghosts seem to upend everything we’ve always been taught about the afterlife. There’s also that chance, however slight, of a deeply psychological element involved in hauntings – not just in the part of the deceased, but the witness as well.

Enter young Nathaniel Wakeman, circa 2007, when I wrote Banshee.

Before I received the call for material for Prizm’s opening, I’d already read several Victorian ghost fiction anthologies. I’d also latched on like a barnacle to M.R. James’ ghost stories, which are considered to be the best in the genre. Through James’ stories, I developed an appreciation for the actual art of writing ghost fiction, which (to me) involves a skilled use of suggestion and sustained atmosphere – a lot of control going into each haunting scene. So I jumped at the chance of trying my hand at writing my own Victorian ghost story – one that involved a gay teen, at that.

My ghost story hero

Nathaniel Wakeman lives in the Isle of Wight – a setting that I wanted right off the bat because the one effect I was hoping to achieve in this story is the pervading feeling of claustrophobia. So Natty grows up in an island, and he’s the son and only child of a modest vicar. His world view is extremely limited in every sense of the word – he’s physically isolated, mentally limited to whatever books his parents allow him to read because he doesn’t go to a regular school and is taught at home by his father, and emotionally, he’s very much focused on his day-to-day cares.

The novel’s also written in the first person POV, which was a bit of a challenge because the story takes place in the mid-19th century, and there’s always that tricky juggling act of making the story readable without sacrificing too much of its historical angle. But I decided it was necessary to stay inside Natty’s head the whole way as a means of capitalizing on that feeling of claustrophobia I wanted. Once the hauntings begin, we get to see the ghost through his eyes, and we experience his struggle for understanding using nothing more than his limited perceptions of the world.

Poe shows us how to write psychological gothic fiction with a capital ‘P’. When I grow up, I want to write like him

I wrote the ghost as both a haunting as well as something that’s deeply psychological. And I based it on an actual experience my sister had involving my mother when we were little kids. In short, my mom appeared to my younger sister – looking normal and talking naturally and all that – when she was supposed to be at work. Of course, she told my sister she needed to see our grandmother next door, and almost immediately after she left us, we got a call from her, checking up on us. “I was just thinking about you kids while I was working,” she’d said (summarized), “and I thought I’d call to see if you’re all okay.” Well – we sure as hell weren’t okay after we got the call.

As an addendum, I was in another room when my mom appeared, so I didn’t see her, but I heard her voice as she talked to my sister. My oldest brother was infuriated and tried to catch her at a lie, but my sister stuck to her story. She was, what, six years old or something? Would a child that age lie about things like that? Count this as another incident that can be corroborated, even if it didn’t involve an entity.

If you want visual inspiration for a ghost story, use Caspar David Friedrich’s moody landscapes

But that was what I wanted to achieve in writing the ghost. It isn’t a sentient being, out to kill for revenge or for sport. It haunts Natty for a reason he won’t uncover till the end, and even then, the psychological aspects of the hauntings throw a few shadows in there, clouding his attempts at full understanding. That, though, is the nature of ghost stories as I’ve always seen them. No matter how many times we turn things over in our heads, no matter how hard we try to work logic into them, there really isn’t any way for us to come to a complete understanding of incidents that defy the natural order of things.

I’ve always said that Banshee was my baby of the three books I debuted as a gay YA writer because it’s in a genre I’ve always loved and will always love. I continue to feel a special kind of fondness for it. It remains my only attempt at Victorian ghost fiction so far, and I’ll have to remedy that situation soon. Having gone through another couple of rounds of edits to prepare this book for its 2nd edition release, I’m again bitten by the bug. And I’ll have to go back and re-read my favorite ghost fiction anthologies and re-watch my favorite haunted house movies to whip myself up to another haunted house frenzy. Not that I mind, of course.

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

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

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

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


A.E. Via, A.J. Corza, Allison Cassatta, Angel Martinez, Cardeno C., Cat Grant, GayRomLit, GotYouCovrd, Hayden Thorne, Heidi Belleau, Heidi Cullinan, L.A. Witt, Mary Calmes, Nicole Dennis, Rebecca Cohen, S.A. Meade, Sneak Peek

Here’s A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Hi, everyone, I hope you’ve all had an outstanding week, and are gearing up for another.

We’ve been busy as can be around here these days, booking more great authors and reading more great books, and we’re looking forward to more great fun in the months to come. We’re building up the GayRomLit Countdown Celebration roster of authors, which Rhys Ford kicked off for us last month. I’m sure we’ll be adding more as the months move along, but here’s a list of confirmed authors you can watch for here at TNA between now and October:

Charlie Cochet | Daisy Harris | Edmond Manning | Ethan Day | Jaime Samms | LE Franks | Lex Chase | RJ Scott | Sophie Bonaste | Z.A. Maxfield | Jordan L. Hawk | Katey Hawthorne | Jamie Lynn Miller | Brandon Witt | Zathyn Priest | J.K. Hogan

How about that for a lineup? We’ll keep you posted on additions as the tour continues. But, for now, here’s what’s on tap for the coming week.

MondayAllison Cassatta is our lead-off guest today with a RainbowCon Celebration and Giveaway

Riptide Publishing presents a Spotlight Stop on Heidi Belleau’s Straight Shooter tour today, and there’s a Giveaway

Pride Promotions presents the Not in the Stars Anthology Blog Tour. We’ll have Angel Martinez here to represent, and there’ll be a tour-wide giveaway

TuesdayHayden Thorne comes back for a visit to talk about her newest release Banshee, and she’ll be giving away an e-copy of the book

Rebecca Cohen is also with us today, with a Backlist Book Bump and an e-copy giveaway of her book Servitude

WednesdayNicole Dennis stops by to join in the RainbowCon Celebration fun, and she’s offering a giveaway

A.E. Via is also with us today on her Nothing Special Blog Tour, and she’s got a giveaway too

And A.J. Corza’s back with another great installment of Got You Covered

ThursdayHeidi Cullinan makes TNA a stop on her Tough Love Blog Tour and she’s offering a giveaway

FridayCat Grant and L.A. Witt pair up and come calling on the Guarded Blog Tour, and there’s a giveaway

SaturdayCardeno C. and Mary Calmes are here on their Control Blog Tour. They let me interview Robert and Vy, and they’re giving away an e-copy of the book

SundayS.A. Meade is our guest today with a guest post about her newest release, Tournament of Shadows, and she’s giving away an e-copy of the book

And that brings another week to a close. Until next time, happy reading!

Backlist Book Bump, Hayden Thorne, Queerteen Press

It’s A Backlist Book Bump Day For Hayden Thorne’s “Renfred’s Masquerade”, And Of Course, There’s A Giveaway

The Novel Approach is thrilled to have Hayden Thorne back with us today to celebrate her Young Adult masterpiece, Renfred’s Masquerade, a book that made my choice for best young adult book of 2011. It’s a gorgeous bit of storytelling, and Hayden has decided it’s time to introduce you to Nicola, the hero of this tale, by offering the chance for TWO lucky readers to win an e-copy of the book.

Enjoy the excerpt and see entry details below!

BLURB: Young Nicola Gregori has always wanted to follow in the footsteps of his father, a brilliant clock-maker who’s famous for his wild, fantastical designs. But his father instead sends him to school to learn more practical matters. Nicola, stricken with infantile paralysis that left him with a deformed right leg, becomes an object of mockery and cruel jokes in school. He learns that in order to survive his daily ordeals, he needs to vanish in the crowd, to stop aspiring, to stop dreaming, and above all, to believe himself unworthy of respect and love.

Tragedy strikes when Nicola turns sixteen. Gustav Renfred, an old friend of his father, takes on Nicola as his charge and whisks him away to an isolated islet filled with empty mansions and bordered by a bluebell forest. There Nicola slowly learns about the tragic history that tightly weaves together the fates of Jacopo Gregori, Gustav Renfred, and Gustav’s twin sister, Constanza.

Magic, impossible dreams, and unrequited love come together in Ambrosi, the Renfreds’ mansion, where Nicola is caught up in a world of haunting portraits, a ghostly housekeeper, and the mysterious disappearance of Davide, Constanza’s adopted son. When Nicola’s invited to one of Renfred’s magical masquerades, he discovers the answers to riddles as well as the mounting danger that the Renfred family faces with every passing hour. With the masquerades’ existence depending on the physical and mental strength of an ailing Renfred, the task of solving the mystery of Davide’s disappearance before time runs out falls on Nicola’s shoulders, and he has no choice but to depend on things he’s long learned to suppress: courage, self-respect, and the desire to aim for impossible goals.


Nicola frowned as he looked around him. The spell had broken somehow, but while it didn’t ruin the charming, colorful, and festive atmosphere of the masquerade, a keen awareness of the magical nature of the assembly now took over. He felt as though he were back in his usual logical self, baffled all over again by the fantastical nature of his surroundings and slowly finding himself being lured away from reality with promises of possibilities that went beyond his limited perceptions.

With that came a very unwelcome question: how would he be able to dance with someone who was, Nicola was now convinced, nothing more than a phantasm created by Renfred? He was the only flesh and blood being in that ballroom, and while the revelers appeared to be real, Nicola attributed that to the remarkable quality of Renfred’s skills.

The music ended, and the dancers whirled to a halt, their laughter replaced by the buzz of conversations. Some dancers left the floor and either took their places in the room’s periphery
or left the ballroom to rest elsewhere. The majority stood and chatted, waiting for the orchestra to rest before moving on to the next piece. No one seemed to notice him, but Nicola didn’t mind
at all. If he were invited to a magical masquerade for entertainment and not interaction, he was pleased for the most part, though he hoped that there would be real food available in another room, for he was sure that he’d be famished soon.

“Then again,” he muttered, sighing and clucking, as he looked around to admire the elaborate costumes of fellow guests, “why should I stay till three in the morning if all I’ll do is stand and watch, uh, ghosts dance and enjoy themselves?”

A surge of restlessness coursed through him, and Nicola abandoned his spot to walk along the room’s perimeter in order to observe the goings on more closely from different places. He deliberately walked close to some of those who stood near the walls, sometimes brushing against guests, but while none of them felt unreal or incorporeal, he remained ignored. Masked men and women pushed past him or didn’t meet his gaze, no matter how long he stood before someone and stared. He felt invisible, almost, the fact that he also wore a mask and a costume to hide his identity adding a degree of irony to the realization.

He had nearly reached the orchestra by now, noting that the musicians were already getting ready for the next dance as they took up their instruments again while turning the pages of their musical scores.

“Will you dance with me?”

Nicola nearly tripped on his own feet at the question as well as the sudden feel of warmth enveloping his left hand. He froze in his tracks and spun around, shocked. The young man in the odd white costume stood before him, holding his hand.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you.”

Nicola blinked as he stared at the fellow and then dropped his gaze to their joined hands.



The young man in white smiled, releasing his hand. “That’s my costume. I hope it’s acceptable.”

“Oh.” Nicola looked to his left and then his right, not sure what was going on and wondering if now was a good time to leave despite the fact that he’d just arrived. “It’s an interesting costume, I’m sure.”

“So—will you dance with me?”

Nicola frowned, felt the urge to scratch his head in confusion but remembered that he was wearing a hat. Within seconds he went from feeling confused to feeling stupid, then suspicious, then shy. Swallowing, he feigned indifference and nodded. “I suppose.”

Pierrot grinned, perhaps reading Nicola’s bewilderment and the sudden threat of nausea that gripped him, and offered a hand. “We should take our place on the floor, or we’ll get squeezed out of it before we even start.”

“But where’s your partner?”

“He’s dancing with someone else now. It’s all right.”

Pierrot’s eyes sparkled with mischief, a brilliant light that his mask didn’t mute at all. “I swear I won’t hurt you.” When Nicola hesitated some more, he added in a softer voice, “Please.”

“I’m sorry. This is my first masquerade.” Nicola felt sheepish beside his new partner as he was led to the floor, his nervousness taking on a completely different dimension. He’d never danced the waltz before; he’d never danced at all before. He was sure that he’d end up injuring his partner within the first few bars of the next piece. That is, if make-believe people could be injured. The urge to vomit continued to threaten, but he forced it away, reminding himself that this was supposed to be nothing more than good fun. Renfred had taken the trouble to conjure up a themed masked ball for Nicola’s sake and even acquiesced to Nicola’s plea for a normal right leg. Whether or not this Pierrot fellow was a specter that was meant to be his partner Nicola couldn’t tell, but he wasn’t about to be an ungrateful brat, and he chided himself for his nerves and awkwardness.

“Don’t ask questions,” he murmured. “Play along and enjoy what you can.”

He’d just finished his self-directed lecture when Pierrot stopped and turned around. “This is a good spot for us,” he said.

When Nicola stared, his confidence slipping again, Pierrot chuckled. “If it’s your first time, I’ll guide you. It’s really very simple.”

Stepping forward, he gave Nicola brief and clear instructions on how to hold one’s partner, and before long, Nicola found himself in a very intimate and nerve-wracking partial embrace, with his partner smiling down at him, while he could only swallow a dozen times, his eyes unblinking and ready to pop out of their sockets.

“Relax and let yourself move with the music,” Pierrot said. Nicola nodded, his body still rigid. It didn’t help that his partner suddenly leaned close and spoke into his ear next. “I’ll take care of you. Just enjoy yourself.”

The noise of dozens of conversations broke to the beginning strains of the next waltz—one that was as heavy and insistent as it was rhythmic, melodic beauty shedding any pretenses to poetry and speaking of a people’s hardship and enduring pride. The strains haunted with melancholy but romantic images that clung to Nicola’s mind as he danced around the room, awed, mortified, and exhilarated by the strangeness of this new experience.

“Don’t look at your feet. Look at me.”

Simple enough directions, but difficult to follow. Nicola found that he couldn’t look straight into his partner’s eyes, the self-consciousness and embarrassment weaving an uncomfortable thread in the mix of emotions that defined his first dance. But he also felt compelled to, largely because his partner’s eyes exuded intelligence and sadness that affected Nicola in a way that was foreign to him. Suddenly he wanted to know this young man’s story, and suddenly, he wanted to be with his partner all night, though he was still quite fuzzy as to what was going on regarding Pierrot’s acknowledgment of his presence, given his observations on the rest of the assembly’s indifference.

I dithered over whether or not to add a video to this post, and I decided to go ahead with it. It’s a piece that inspired the scene, actually, and I listened to it repeatedly while writing it. Ignore the fact that it’s totally anachronistic to the time period of the story. :)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: I’ve lived most of my life in the San Francisco Bay Area though I wasn’t born there (or, indeed, the USA). I’m married with no kids and three cats, am a cycling nut (go Garmin!), and my day job involves artwork, great coworkers who specialize in all kinds of media, and the occasional strange customer requests involving papier mache fish with sparkly scales.

I’m a writer of young adult fiction, specializing in contemporary fantasy, historical fantasy, and historical genres. My books range from a superhero fantasy series to reworked folktales to Victorian ghost fiction. My themes are coming-of-age with very little focus on romance (most of the time) and more on individual growth with some adventure thrown in.


LGBT teens have all sorts of stories to tell. They’re heroes not only of contemporary adventures or of fantasy and magic, but also of history. The rules might be different – stricter, a bit more frightening given 19th century laws, for instance – but there are still dreams to be shaped, character to be developed, and all of these done within the parameters set by the genre. It’s going to be a challenge, sure, but if it means allowing LGBT kids their own time in the “limelight” of, say, the Victorian stage, I’m game.


Hayden Thorne, Queerteen Press

Magic And Illusion Weave A Spell In Hayden Thorne’s “Renfred’s Masquerade”

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.” ― Stephen King

Title: Renfred’s Masquerade

Author: Hayden Thorne

Publisher: Queerteen Press

Pages/Word Count: 238 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Young Nicola Gregori has always wanted to follow in the footsteps of his father, a brilliant clock-maker who’s famous for his wild, fantastical designs. But his father instead sends him to school to learn more practical matters. Nicola, stricken with infantile paralysis that left him with a deformed right leg, becomes an object of mockery and cruel jokes in school. He learns that in order to survive his daily ordeals, he needs to vanish in the crowd, to stop aspiring, to stop dreaming, and above all, to believe himself unworthy of respect and love.
Continue reading

Hayden Thorne, JMS Books LLC, Reviewed by Lisa

Hayden Thorne’s “Icarus in Flight” Is A Beautiful Historical Romance

“Love for sale walked comfortably before the world—rouged and vulgar, stained and pitiful, deemed immoral and yet more welcome than the briefest kiss exchanged between two men.” – Hayden Thorne

Title: Icarus in Flight

Author: Hayden Thorne

Publisher: JMS Books LLC

Pages/Word Count: 252 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: James Ellsworth is a bit jaded, especially for his young age. He hates school and longs for his parents’ estate, where life is far more pleasant. Meeting new schoolmate Daniel Courtney is a much-needed distraction, one that will prove more and more engrossing as James and Daniel grow older.
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A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week, Amelia C. Gormley, Grace R. Duncan, Hayden Thorne, Heidi Belleau, Jackie Nacht, K.A. Merikan, Liz Borino, Mia Kerick, RainbowCon, Riley Hart, Sara York, SE Jakes

Here’s A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Hi, everyone, I hope you’ve all had an outstanding week and are looking forward to a great week ahead. We’ve got a busy one coming up here at The Novel Approach, so check out who we’ve got on tap to bring all the fun right to you!

MondayGrace R. Duncan kicks the week off with a RainbowCon Celebration, and she’s offering a giveaway

Riptide Publishing will also be bringing Heidi Belleau and Amelia C. Gormley on the To the Very Last Inch Blog Tour

TuesdayMia Kerick is our guest on The Red Sheet Blog Tour, and there’ll be a giveaway

Riley Hart is also elevating the anticipation of her next release, Stay, book two in the Blackcreek series, with a purty smexy cover reveal!

WednesdayJackie Nacht will be here with us on the Full Moon Blog Tour, answering a few questions , and there’s a Rafflecopter Giveaway

A.J. Corza’s also back today with another fabulous installment of “Got You Covered”

ThursdayK.A. Merikan drops by today on the Copper Horse Blog Tour

FridaySara York has us covered on the Pray the Gay Away Blog Tour

Riptide Publishing is back today to bring SE Jakes to us, on the Free Falling Blog Tour

Saturday – You’ve already seen a sneak peek of Liz Borino’s Angel’s Hero this morning, so be sure to stay tuned for more from her “Angel” Blog Tour

SundayHayden Thorne is our guest, talking about your YA Historical Fantasy Renfred’s Masquerade, and she’s offering a giveaway of the book

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

Hayden Thorne, JMS Books LLC

“Arabesque” – The Inspiration And A Giveaway From Hayden Thorne

I. Inspiration
Several years ago, I stumbled across an odd, surrealist take on Sleeping Beauty called Briar Rose by Robert Coover. It was a post-modern retelling of the folktale that went well beyond the usual princess – prince – curse – one true love conquers all trope; in fact, it was a bitterly humorous take on the folktale. Cyclical and repetitive, it shows a helplessly trapped situation the three main characters find themselves in. The prince is caught in the briars. The princess is lost in dreams as she waits for her savior. The old crone’s caught up in the princess’ dreams, telling the girl never-ending stories that further feed those dreams. What blew me away was the fact that Coover also made use of several old versions of the Sleeping Beauty folktale that added a pretty disturbing layer to his retelling. Incest and rape come up the princess’ dreams. That ties with certain versions of the folktale in which the princess wakes up from a hundred years’ sleep and finds herself surrounded by babies.

Another book I discovered, adored, and was inspired by was Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber, an anthology of feminist retellings of different folktales. Carter’s prose is difficult to slog through if you’re not used to it, but it works incredibly well in creating a certain atmosphere and tone in each story. Her stories are sensual, gothic, opulent, and somewhat angry. That last detail could be subjective. It was a tone I easily caught on to as I read every story, which was an exploration of female strength, oppression, and liberation.

In Coover and Carter’s books I discovered a different approach to writing folktale retellings. Things didn’t need to follow tried-and-true variations, and a writer can certainly venture down a different fork in the road. I learned that it was good to experiment with themes and tone while using familiar stories for my foundation.

II. Satire
Arabesque is a satire. More specifically, it’s a dark satire. Now our common interpretation of satire runs along humorous lines, and while that’s partly true, satire isn’t just comedy. From Wikipedia:

Satire is a genre of literature, and sometimes graphic and performing arts, in which vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, corporations, government or society itself, into improvement.[1] Although satire is usually meant to be humorous, its greater purpose is often constructive social criticism, using wit as a weapon and as a tool to draw attention to both particular and wider issues in society.

There are two kinds of satires: light (Horatian), which is gentle and humorous, and dark (Juvenalian), which is angry and bitter.

Arabesque is the latter, and I wanted it to be the latter. I’ve never written satire in the Juvenalian sense, and it was an odd experience for me. I wanted to express my disgust toward reparative therapy, which was the primary goal for my writing Arabesque. Along the way, homophobia and misogyny were instantly woven into the story, and it was inevitable since these three items are, to me, inextricably linked.

And in order to pull that off, I needed to step back and use the omniscient point of view, showing what went on with different characters, both major and minor. That “zooming out” approach helped me maintain a distant – even cold – voice that I thought would work well in satire. I wanted the tone to be dry and matter-of-fact, sometimes with a touch of dark humor here and there, but still overall critical of what I’ve always known to be the hypocrisies behind bigotry and especially among proponents of reparative therapy.

III. Fairy tales within a fairy tale
The book uses a number of other fairy tales mostly in brief references except for Roald’s nightmarish adventures, which make use of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” in a longer and more detailed way. Traditional fairy tales are, unsurprisingly, awfully heteronormative, and it was that which inspired me to explore historical fantasy for gay kids when I started writing and publishing gay YA fiction.
In Arabesque, I wanted to show how those classic fairy tales can be used to break Alarick and Roald, how neither boy can be a part of those stories of grand adventures and true love because they don’t fit the bill. They’re gay. Sucks to be them. If they don’t see themselves reflected in those stories – stories from their childhood, stories they’d always held dear – it could only be because these tales favor the status quo, and if they wanted to be deserving of hope, redemption, and edification, they needed to change their behavior. Or, according to the cursed cottage, they needed to grow up and get over themselves. After all, homosexuality’s only a phase.

IV. Hybrid of mythology and folktale
I chose 18th century Germany for the setting as my way of honoring the Brothers Grimm. We usually associate fairy tales with the Middle Ages, with the romantic images of elaborate headdresses and robes. But I prefer the image of 18th century court life as well as the 19th century bourgeois and the 19th century poor for my fairy tale settings. 18th century court life is much more excessive in terms of visuals compared to the 19th century, so I stuck to that period. Exploring the increasingly out-of-control decadence and corruption of Lambrecht’s court tied in with images of tall powdered wigs, hoops, lace, satin, etc., and it was rather fun juxtaposing immorality and hypocrisy with finery and wealth. I’ll admit that it was an odd, somewhat unnerving headspace to be in, considering I’ve never written anything that purposefully attacked and ridiculed certain behaviors and mindsets. But I wanted to do it; I wanted to express my disgust toward reparative therapy in a story. Treading unknown waters was a way of testing myself as a writer. In the end, despite the doubts, I found that I enjoyed stepping outside my usual comfort zone, and I wouldn’t mind doing something like this again.

The three goddesses who figure largely in Book Two were inspired by Greek and Roman Mythology. When I first self-published this book, I took the German words representing each goddess and turned them into names: Kummerene, Weisheitta, and Liebella. For the second edition, I dropped those names and simply gave them their corresponding English identities: Grief, Wisdom, and Love. Roald’s adventures, while a form of reparative therapy, are also allegorical once we figured those goddesses into the mix. You can certainly read them literally as goddesses representing grief, wisdom, and love, but you can also interpret them a different way. Are they all part of Roald? Or do they come from people who surround him? Alarick’s adventures are a lot more straightforward, but I wanted to keep Roald’s a little more open to interpretation.

V. Blue roses
I love blue roses. I love their symbolism. In Arabesque, they’re everywhere, and they represent impossible dreams. There’s not much to say about them other than they’re very much a part of the setting as well as a recurring little detail that says something about the principal players (and two minor ones): Ulrike, Amara, Alarick, Roald, Trennen, Wilmar, and even Grief herself. Whether it’s about reclaiming their humanity (Ulrike and Amara), surviving the darkest times to live and to love (Alarick and Roald), finding acceptance (Trennen and Wilmar), and looking past one’s cursed existence and feeling empathy for others (Grief), these characters are up against a number of odds stacked up against them. There’s redemption in the end, and it always seems to be impossible, just beyond their reach. It’s this struggle that the blue rose represents.

VI. Final word
I initially wrote Arabesque as an experiment. It was my first attempt at pure (dark) satire, at an omniscient point of view, and at a sustained dry tone. It was also my first attempt at self-publishing a book. The second edition’s been trimmed down quite a bit and also cleaned up with the help of an editor. But the lesson I got from this remains. It’s scary stepping outside one’s comfort zone, but it’s necessary, I think. I feel more confident in tackling stuff like this further down the road. I love knowing how many options I have in telling a story, and I feel I’ve grown as a writer from this experience. And even if I were to not write another book like Arabesque, at least I can look back and reassure myself with the thought that, once upon a time, I set out to do something I’d believed to be risky and unreadable, and I did it. It might turn off more readers than attract them – I can’t say for sure, but that wasn’t my goal when I wrote this book. In this sense, I can safely say that Arabesque would be my most personal book to date.

BLURB: An ambitious young princess, Ulrike, turns to the dark arts in order to become queen despite her younger sister’s warnings of a fatal consequence to mortgaging her soul. She succeeds, yet Ulrike finds herself trapped in a hateful marriage, her mind slowly being devoured by her powers, while conceiving and giving birth to a boy.

Alarick — “the bastard prince” — becomes the court’s favorite object of mockery because of the scandal of his conception, his mother’s spiraling madness compounding his ordeal. When Alarick falls in love with a childhood friend, Roald von Thiessen, the added sin of an unnatural romance gets caught up in a tumultuous aristocratic environment that’s rife with hypocrisy, cruelty, betrayal, and murder.

Forcibly separated from each other during a bloody uprising, Roald and Alarick become helplessly ensnared in nightmarish adventures designed to twist their characters and destroy their minds in the process. The young lovers fight for their souls and a way back to each other in a world weighed down by the forces of dark and light magic, and gods grapple with each other over mortal destinies.

Arabesque is more than a gothic, homoerotic retelling of the Snow White folktale. It is at once allegory and a darkly satirical account of contemporary issues such as misogyny, homophobia, and the process of reparative therapy.

Author Note: This is not a work of Young Adult fiction and is intended for a mature audience.

Arabesque was reviewed in February of 2012 HERE