Dreamspun Desires, M.J. O'Shea, Poppy Dennison, Shira Anthony

Interviews, Excerpts, and Giveaway: Poppy Dennison, MJ O’Shea, Shira Anthony, and Dreamspun Desires

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I’m so pleased to welcome Poppy Dennison, MJ O’Shea, and Shira Anthony today to chat about Dreamspun Desires, the newest line of genre romance from Dreamspinner Press. These three ladies were kind enough to sit down and answer a few questions about the line and, for MJ and Shira, their books.

After the interviews, there’s also a giveaway with a couple of chances to win some great prizes:

Grand Prize: A 6 month e-book subscription to Dreamspun Desires
Runner Up: MJ O’Shea’s entire ebook backlist

Just click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter.

Good luck!

And now, here are Poppy, MJ, and Shira.

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PoppyDennisonLisa: We’re so pleased to welcome Poppy Dennison to The Novel Approach today, not as an author but to chat with us about Dreamspinner Press’s new line, Dreamspun Desires.

Poppy, why don’t we start off by having you share with us what exactly it is you’re in charge of at Dreamspinner Press?

Poppy: Thanks so much, Lisa! I’m so excited to be here. I’m Dreamspinner Press’s Marketing Director. Basically, it’s my job to do lots of math. No really. There are spreadsheets of my spreadsheets! But it’s basically my job to create new ideas for Dreamspinner’s authors and turn them into reality.

Lisa: Let’s chat a little bit about this new line of genre romances coming in 2016 from Dreamspinner. First of all, how did the idea come about?

Poppy: It all started at lunch, as these things often do. In May of 2015, I attended the Romantic Times Convention and had an opportunity to have lunch with several Dreamspinner authors. We started reminiscing on the first romances we’d ever read and discovered a trend: we’d all started by reading category romances! I realized how much I missed that type of story so I basically sweet-talked the authors at the table into writing a category style romance for me. By the end of the day, word had spread and I had eighteen authors signed up to write one for me. Talk about a good day. *g*

Lisa: Would you like to tell readers what they can expect from the new line, what makes these romances different from the usual Dreamspinner publications?

Poppy: Readers can expect stories that take them back to the Harlequins they devoured in days gone by. These stories are sweet and angst free and happy endings are guaranteed! We want these books to leave a smile on your face! The difference between these titles and the regular romances Dreamspinner publishes is in their focus on the romance. These stories are a little shorter than our typical novel, and as a result, they don’t have room for any of the normal soul searching and man pain we normally see in romances. They’re sweet and focus entirely on the developing relationship.

Lisa: What advantages are there to purchasing a monthly subscription to the Dreamspun Desires line versus purchasing each book individually?

Poppy:  First, I have to say that the fact that we were able to offer these titles as part of a subscription makes me so darn happy! I remember getting those boxes of books when I was younger. Well, okay, my mom technically got them, but when she was done, I’d get to read them too! There was something about that box arriving that got me so excited! I hope our readers feel the same way about receiving their Dreamspun Desires subscription.

There are two subscription services available. I’ll start with the paperback service, as it’s the one most like the way category romances used to arrive. Each month, we’re releasing two Dreamspun Desires novels. Readers who purchase the paperback subscription will receive both paperbacks in one delivery! Basically, they’ll receive one of the titles two weeks before it’s available in ebook format! That’s not all though. Because Dreamspinner always provides our customers with a free ebook whenever they purchase a paperback, Dreamspun Desires paperback subscribers will also receive ebook copies of the titles on their release date. Talk about a great deal!

The second subscription service is ebook only. Subscribers will pay one discounted price and receive both ebooks on their release dates! Super simple!

Lisa: Will you give us a quick rundown of your contributing authors so far—at least those you’re allowed to announce publicly, and when we can expect their publications to hit the shelves?

Poppy:  Absolutely! Here is the lineup of authors through April of 2016:

January 1: The Millionaire Upstairs by M.J. O’Shea

January 15: First Comes Marriage by Shira Anthony

February 1: The Stolen Suitor by Eli Easton

February 15: The Lone Rancher by Andrew Grey

March 1: Taylor Maid by Tara Lain

March 15: Trial by Fire by B.A. Tortuga

April 1:  Forgive and Forget by Charlie Cochet

April 15: Unstable Stud by Ariel Tachna

We also have upcoming releases from Nikki Bennett, Jacob Z. Flores, Ava Drake, Kate McMurray, and many, many more!

Lisa: What sort of feedback have you received from both authors and readers about the launch of the new line?

Poppy:  Honestly, this experience has been a dream come true for me. When I first approached Dreamspinner’s Executive Director Elizabeth North with the idea, I was worried she’d think I’d lost my noodle. But along with Elizabeth, everyone has been so enthusiastic about the idea! From our authors, who jumped on board to write books to our readers who have reminisced with us about how they started by reading category… everyone has been so excited! I’m giddy and can’t wait for everyone to be able to hold these books in their hands!

Lisa: What’s been the most exciting part of this process for you so far?

Poppy: Oh gosh. I’ve been so excited at every step of the process… but I think the most exciting so far has been the day the subscription service launched on our website and we were able to share all the details with our readers. Everyone was so enthusiastic and I just couldn’t stop smiling! I’m still grinning, actually.

Lisa: Let’s chat a bit about the cover art for the line. I know you and I both remember sneaking a peek at our mothers’ Harlequin Romances back in the day. How important has the cover art been in the process of maintaining a distinct look and feel for the Dreamspun Desires line? Who’s been in charge of creating most of the covers thus far?

Poppy: The cover art design was such a fun and challenging process! I knew I wanted the covers for the Dreamspun Desires books to have the same look and feel as other category romance lines, but they needed to have the Dreamspinner twist! We enlisted Paul Richmond to design the covers and he’s done a fantastic job of capturing the essence of category romance.

Lisa: One of the other things we’ve chatted about is how the Gay Romance genre’s time has really come—time for it to become a part of the mainstream lexicon of romantic fiction. How do you foresee, or at least hope, the Dreamspun Desires line might further pave the way toward that goal?

Poppy: I think, in a way, category romances are a really safe place to start for romance readers who haven’t tried gay romance before. The vast majority of romance readers have read category romances from other publishers so they know what to expect. These titles capture those classic elements but add a modern take with a gay romance twist. No matter the genre, category romances are familiar and comforting. I want for readers who have never given gay romance a try to feel inspired to give these titles a try. After all, Love Always Finds A Way! :)

Lisa: On a final note, if you were to come up with a few selling points to convince us readers that the Dreamspun Desires line are the new Must Read books of 2016, what would those be?

Poppy: I think the biggest selling point to Dreamspun Desires is that these are true romances by authors who know how to tell a great story! If you’re a fan of category romance, these titles will be perfect for you. And if you’re new to the gay romance genre, you won’t be disappointed!

Lisa: Thanks so much for taking the time to be here with us today, Poppy!

Readers, for more information on the Dreamspun Desires line, including how to order your subscription, check out the Dreamspinner Press Page today (**Deadline for January subscription is December 15, 2015**)!

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MJ O'SheaLisa: Hi, MJ, and welcome. We’re so pleased to have you here for a visit today to chat about your new book in the Dreamspun Desires line, The Millionaire Upstairs.

MJ: HI!!

Let’s start with what feels like a good first question: why did you want to be involved in this new line of genre romance? Was there a nostalgia factor there for you at all?

MJ: Honestly, they just looked like they’d be so much fun to write. I loved the idea of writing characters in a world I’d never come close to living in (my book takes place in the Hamptons among the mega-wealthy and at a New York fashion label) and focusing on the pure romance element of it – the setting, the characters, and everything else. I think everyone needs a bit of escape.

Lisa: Tell us a bit about how writing this book differed from writing your other books. Did you approach it with a different mindset than you would, say, a book that required more conflict and angst in the storyline before your couple gets their happy ending?

MJ: Yes and no! haha. There were a few things I did differently. Since these books are, by nature, shorter than the typical novel, I got to focus almost completely on the relationship between the two main characters, rather than spending a lot of time on an extended cast. That’s not to say there isn’t a cast to back them up, I couldn’t resist, but they won’t have as big of a role as they usually would in one of my books.

I also got to play a bit with the r. I’ve written rock stars and vampires before, but most of my characters have been regular guys. Somehow plunking my MC in this castle in the Hamptons with a multi-millionaire, and then on Lake Como, and at celeb filled events, it was just that one extra bit of fantasy.

Lisa: What has been the most enjoyable part of participating in the Dreamspun Desire launch for you? Do you plan on contributing more books to the line?

MJ: The whole thing so far, honestly! It’s been really cool to be a part of something both old but new to our genre, talking about it with bloggers, readers, and other authors. I love seeing how excited (and yes, nostalgic) people get when they find out about the subscription service. It’s a huge honor to be the first one out of the gate, and while I’m a little nervous (okay, a lot lol) I still can’t wait to see what people think of the first few books!

And yes, I definitely will (and have!) – I’ve already written another called Duke in Hiding which I believe will be out in the late spring/early summer with Dreamspun Desires.

Lisa: What sort of feedback are you getting from your readers in particular about the collection? Have you noticed a lot of buzz and excitement in the community about it?

MJ: People have in general seemed really excited about it!  I’ve seen a lot of people reminiscing about reading their mom and grandmother’s category romances when they were kids (I remember my grandmother keeping hers in a cloth cover that had her initials stitched on it :) ) so it’s kind of like marrying the old with the new and from what I’ve seen the readers like that.

Lisa: Let’s talk a bit more specifically about The Millionaire Upstairs. Tell us a little something about your characters and what you feel their chemistry is.

MJ: I really wanted to play with a few elements, the forbidden aspect of getting involved with the boss, the fantasy of a “normal” guy getting swept up in the world of the rich and famous, and of course one of my favorite things which is a sassy, mouthy character and the “straight” man so to speak.

Sasha is sarcastic and quippy, both in awe of the people he works with and around every day, and still not ready to take any attitude from them. Harrison is cold at first and a bit standoffish, but somehow can’t manage not to let Sasha behind his huge walls.

Lisa: Would you care to share a short excerpt with us?

MJ: Sure! I’ll put part of the first scene in here, which takes place two years before the rest of the book. Sasha is about to interview for the job he’s always wanted – working for Joanne Kingsley co-owner and Harrison Kingsley’s older sister :

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Excerpt: You’re definitely not in Kansas anymore, Sasha Sobieski.

He most assuredly wasn’t. Sasha had been in New York for a couple of years, and some days he still wasn’t used to it, but nothing hammered in the fact that he was far, far away from home like standing in the place he’d been dreaming of since he was twenty-two. The place he’d decided was his destiny.

Harrison Kingsley—only ten years old and already a force to be reckoned with in global fashion. The label was fashion forward, timeless, and unique. Gorgeous. Notoriously exclusive. Even more notorious for being hard to land a position at. There had been whispers back at school about how impossible it was to impress the hiring personnel at Harrison Kingsley, how you might as well just pack it in if that was your goal. He’d decided years ago not to listen.

Sasha hadn’t wanted anything so badly in his entire life.

Harrison Kingsley Headquarters was jaw-drop gorgeous. The 34th Street offices were everything an exclusive fashion label’s offices should be—chic, classic not trendy, and intimidating but somehow welcoming at the same time. It was light and airy but somehow colorful. Like he’d entered the mind of a fashion genius, which in a way he had.

Sasha knew he’d found his home.

He sank down onto a pale apple-green upholstered chair in the waiting area in front of a large copper reception desk. He wasn’t nervous about the interview, although by all rights he should’ve been. If Sasha thought about it for more than a few moments, about who he was there to see, then he’d probably start palpitating.

Joanne Kingsley was a big deal in the fashion industry. Big. The biggest of big. Working for her was exactly the opportunity he needed. If he got the job—no, when he got it. No negative thoughts. Working for Joanne Kingsley somehow seemed inevitable. Sasha Sobieski of Hawk’s Prairie, Kansas, and brand-new Parsons graduate, belonged with her. He felt it in his bones.

Inner pep talk aside, Sasha’s nerves kicked in when he was called into Joanne Kingsley’s office. His stomach bubbled a bit as he followed the receptionist down a hallway lined with photographs of runway shows all over the world. He clutched his ancient leather satchel and prayed to the fashion gods that he was exactly what the lovely and powerful Ms. Kingsley was looking for.

I got past all of the preliminary interviews, Sasha reminded himself. Not just anyone got to interview with Joanne Kingsley herself. He was one of probably five at most. Just that was an honor. Sasha crossed his fingers and sent the best vibes he knew how to send out into the atmosphere. I’m the right fit for the job. Joanne Kingsley will adore me. Sasha had always been a believer in good vibes. He hoped they did him proud this time.

He didn’t know exactly what to expect from the esteemed Ms. Kingsley. Sasha had seen the society pages just like everyone else, the shots of her in the front row at other designers’ shows all over the world—McQueen, Saint Laurent, Lhuillier, Elie Saab. She always looked fabulous and powerful, fashionable and just a bit unapproachable. They reached her office door. Sasha took a deep breath and made one more fervent wish before the door swished open silently.

Joanne Kingsley was perched on the corner of a large white antique desk. Her office was, for lack of another word, perfect—champagne-colored woodwork, dark teak floors, luxurious rugs, expensive antique furniture, prints of their own designers’ drawings displayed in thick gold-leafed frames on the walls. She stood and walked across the room to greet him by the door. Which was already not at all what Sasha had expected from someone like her. He nearly swallowed his tongue.

Is this actually happening?

Joanne was a good four inches taller than his own five feet six inches, her body all sexy curves and long limbs. Her face was beyond gorgeous, with high cheekbones, pale skin, and long-lashed gray eyes that tilted up on the outside. Her signature mane of fiery red hair was down for once, instead of in a chic but intimidating updo. Held from her forehead with only a gold headband, it cascaded in coppery waves across her shoulders and back. She wore one of their label’s dresses, current season, of course. It was sleeveless and rich, vibrant emerald green, nipped under her full breasts, and it flowed to the ground in casual silky rivulets. The green made her pale skin glow, and the red of her hair shimmered jewellike against it.

Joanne Kingsley looked like she belonged lounging on top of Mt. Olympus with a goblet of wine instead of among mere mortals on earth. Sasha couldn’t believe he was in the same room with her.

“Welcome. Sasha, correct?” And then she smiled, friendly and disarming.

How am I supposed to react to that?

“Yes. Sasha.” He reached out and shook her hand. He was rather shocked that his vocal chords even worked.

“You came very highly recommended from one of my favorite old professors. I’m excited to get to know you.”

Joanne walked around to her desk seat and sank gracefully into it. “Sit, please.” She gestured at the plush seat across from her. It was the same exact model as her own. None of those games of making the guest feel smaller with a shorter, less throne-like seat. Sasha liked her already.

“Thank you for having me here today. I just wanted to say I’ve been following Harrison Kingsley for years. It’s an honor to even meet you.”

Joanne Kingsley giggled. Giggled. “You know, it’s still surprising to hear people say things like that, Sasha. Thank you.”

Sasha grinned in return.

The interview went smoothly after that. Perfectly, even. “Call me Jo, please” was charming and talkative, wanted to know everything about Sasha, and was exactly the person Sasha wanted to be in ten years. Harrison Kingsley’s name might be on the clothing’s labels, he might be the one in his Hamptons castle with drawing boards, swathes of fabric, and a bunch of designer minions, but it was Joanne Kingsley who made the real decisions. Sasha wanted to do anything he could to help her with that process.

Creative director of a major fashion label. Just thinking the title made chills run up and down Sasha’s spine. It was what he wanted more than anything… someday. A boy could dream. For the time being, he’d be honored if he could merely assist one.

Joanne skimmed over his resume one more time and then let it fall shut. “One quick question. Just curious. This says you recently finished Parsons, but you’re twenty-eight. Career change?”

Sasha shook his head. “I’ve wanted to do this since I was a little kid. It took me a lot of hours waiting tables back home in Kansas to save enough to move to New York and enroll in school. It’s not a cheap city. I’m sure you know that.” Not that it had ever been a problem for the Kingsleys. According to their bio, they grew up in Harrison Kingsley’s insane castle of a house in the Hamptons, and Joanne had bought her nearly as palatial apartment on Park Avenue not long after their label took off.

“It’s not.” Joanne took a deep breath. “Listen. I probably shouldn’t do this, but I’m going to anyway. When can you start?”

“Start?” Sasha was confused for a second. And then he got it. He choked on his own breath. “Start. Hol—I mean, I can start whenever you want me to. I don’t have any prior commitments.”

Ohgodohgodohgod. She just hired me. Joanne Kingsley had just hired him. Sasha thought he might faint.

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MJ: And that’s the beginning of Sasha’s new life working for Joanne Kingsley…and eventually her brother;)

Lisa: What can we expect coming up from you next? Would you like to share some info on your current WIPs and upcoming releases?

MJ: After this book, I have one called Pawsitively in Love which features a pet salon owner and a host of furry friends (and takes place in my neighborhood, which I’ve never done before!) And then after that, my second Dreamspun book Duke in Hiding will be out…I think you can guess what that one will be about by the title.

Right now I’m working on a buddy road trip story. I can’t seem to stay away from the best friends to lovers theme…I just love it so much <3.  This one doesn’t have a definite schedule yet, but I’d assume summer/early autumn.

Lisa: Thanks so much for being here with us today, MJ. It’s been great to chat with you.

MJ: Thanks for having me stop by! I hope you enjoy the books J

Xoxo

MJ

Lisa: Find MJ O’Shea on Facebook, her Website, and sign up for her Monthly Newsletter

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MillionaireUpstairs[The]BlurbHe might be hard to work for, but he’s impossible to resist.

Sasha Sobieski has the perfect job working at legendary American fashion house Harrison Kingsley—or at least he used to. He just never thought he’d have to work for Harrison Kingsley himself. Harrison is exacting, difficult, cold, and hands-down the sexiest man Sasha has ever seen.

After years at the top, Harrison Kingsley knows what he wants, when he wants it, and exactly how he’d like it to be delivered to him. What he wants most right now? His new assistant. Sasha is mouthy, opinionated, and he drives Harrison mad. Problem is, Harrison can never tell if it’s with anger… or desire.

Buy Link: Dreamspinner Press

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Shira AnthonyLisa: Hi, Shira, and welcome. We’re so pleased to have you here for a visit today to chat about your new book in the Dreamspun Desires line, First Comes Marriage.

Let’s start with what feels like a good first question: why did you want to be involved in this new line of genre romance? Was there a nostalgia factor there for you at all?

Shira:  OMG, yes! I used to gobble up Harlequins and Silhouette romances when I was in college. And although I hated the pat endings (even worse when the heroine gave up her career to “get married”), I love the warm and fuzzy way they made me feel. So when Poppy and I were chatting at RT (Romantic Times conference) in Dallas this past spring and I mentioned that there were times I wished I could write a sweet romance instead of an angsty one, she asked me why I didn’t write one. And then she proceeded to tell me about an idea she had for a new line of category romances. I guess you could say that was the birth of Dreamspun Desires.

Lisa: Tell us a bit about how writing this book differed from writing your other books. Did you approach it with a different mindset than you would, say, a book that required more conflict and angst in the storyline before your couple gets their happy ending?

Shira:  It did take a bit of a re-set for me. I tend to write angsty romances or complex romantic fantasy stories, so the idea of a simple, sweet story was a little frightening! Before I started writing, I read an old Harlequin to remind myself of the feel of those tropey romances. There’s a real rhythm to those classic romance novels, a completely different pace than for the books I was used to writing. I tried to distill the essence of the category romance and then when I was imagining the story I wanted to write, I kept that framework in mind.

So for example, the story starts off with the two MCs “meeting cute” in the first chapter. From there, the story and the sexual tension builds and builds until finally neither MC can resist the other. Of course there are challenges in the relationship and misunderstandings. There is also character growth from both characters. But there’s no knock-down, drag-out angst of the kind readers might find in some of my other books.

Lisa: What has been the most enjoyable part of participating in the Dreamspun Desire launch for you? Do you plan on contributing more books to the line?

Shira: It’s been exciting seeing it all come together, from the early conversations to seeing the art concept for the covers (I think I squeaked when I saw it!). Then seeing how it all came together, with the subscriptions, the taglines on the books, the cute blurbs that end with a question—all of these things were so much fun!

Yes, I’m planning on submitting at least another book to the line. I’m working on a very sweet, second chance at love story that will probably be released as a Dreamspun Desires title. Writing First Comes Marriage was just so fun, I had to write another.

Lisa: What sort of feedback are you getting from your readers in particular about the collection? Have you noticed a lot of buzz and excitement in the community about it?

Shira: The feedback has been AMAZING. Truly. So many of our readers came to gay romance from heterosexual category romance that I think they’re as excited as we, the authors, are. I think many feel, as I do, that category romance has a special place in the general romance genre and that gay romance can embrace those sweet, romance-forward stories in a way that’s authentic and Twenty-First Century.

It’s funny, but for me, these books represent the kind of romance I wanted to read way back when, but couldn’t find. I really believe that while romance readers are looking for fantasy components in romance, they still want stories still grounded in some semblance of reality. But they don’t always want that reality to hit them over the head either. Sometimes we just need the warmth and hope that we take from a classic romance story.

Lisa: Let’s talk a bit more specifically about First Comes Marriage. Tell us a little something about your characters and what you feel their chemistry is.

Shira:  Jesse Donovan is a billionaire businessman who has to get married or he’ll lose control of his family’s company under the terms of his grandfather’s will. Chris Valentine is a struggling novelist who works as a barista in New York City. Theirs is a marriage of convenience, and it’s supposed to be just business. Both men genuinely enjoy each other’s company, but Jesse is New York’s most eligible “straight” bachelor and Chris is perfectly happy being single after his parent’s disastrous marriage.

For me, the friendship was first and foremost in my mind as the two men get to know each other. I wanted their sexual chemistry to grow out of that friendship and take them by surprise. Each has his own motivations for getting married, and neither expects the marriage will be anything but business. There’s lots of push and pull for the first half of the book, as each fights his attraction to the other. And when they finally do give in to their desires, it’s a revelation for both.

Lisa: Would you care to share a short excerpt with us?

Shira: Sure! This is an excerpt from Chapter Six:

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Excerpt: Now, standing in the conference room of Windview Enterprises’ corporate headquarters near South Ferry in Manhattan, one of the matching platinum bands Jesse had bought for them in his pants pocket, Chris wondered if he’d wake up from the dream. The floor-to-ceiling windows looked out over Wall Street and the East River through the forest of high-rise buildings.

“Do you, Jesse Chase Donovan, take Christopher James Valentine to be your husband, in love and in friendship, until you are parted by death?” the judge asked.

“I do.” As Jesse slipped the ring on Chris’s finger, he met Chris’s gaze with such intensity that for an instant, Chris could almost forget the entire ceremony was a ruse to ensure the future of Windview remained firmly in Jesse’s control. Damn the man for being so attractive. Damn him for being a nice guy, because that was the worst part of it. And the part that had you agreeing.

“And do you, Christopher James Valentine, take Jesse Chase Donovan to be your husband, in love and in friendship, until you are parted by death?”

Chris swallowed hard and prayed he didn’t look as incredibly nervous as he felt. “I do.” His hand shook as he took Jesse’s hand and put the ring on his finger.

“Congratulations, Chris and Jesse,” the judge said.

Chris caught Val’s eye for a split second, and he half expected her to urge him to kiss Jesse. But it was Jesse who took charge and blindsided Chris with a kiss.

It started sweetly enough, just Jesse’s lips against his, but instead of releasing Chris, Jesse pulled him tighter against him and pressed his tongue into his mouth. Jesse tasted fucking amazing. Chris didn’t hesitate—their tongues tangled and danced. This close, Jesse smelled good and felt even better. Chris was barely aware of slipping his hands around Jesse’s back before resting them on lean hips. He didn’t think twice as his body and Jesse’s responded in kind.

Someone giggled—Chris recognized Val’s voice—and Jesse pulled abruptly away. Their eyes met for a split second, and Chris thought he saw a mixture of desire and surprise in Jesse’s deep blue eyes. The next thing Chris knew, Val had thrown her arms around him and only his racing heart and tingling lips told him he hadn’t imagined the entire thing.

“Oh, Chris,” Val cooed. “You really did it!”

“Yeah” was the only response Chris could manage. He was still thinking about Jesse’s mouth.

“I guess I was wrong about him being straight,” she whispered mischievously.

Chris was thrilled when Terry grabbed him in a bear hug, because he had no idea how to respond to Val’s comment. He also wasn’t sure if he should be pissed off with Jesse for the show. He supposed if this was going to work, Jesse needed to make the marriage look real. Still, how difficult would it have been to warn Chris that he had that up his sleeve?

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Lisa: What can we expect coming up from you next? Would you like to share some info on your current WIPs and upcoming releases?

Shira:  I’m working on another tropey romance, this one about second chances at love. The working title is A Class Act, and it’s the story of a history professor and a Hollywood action star whose ten year marriage is about to end in divorce. I’m also working on the final installment in the Blood Trilogy, my time-traveling French vampires, entitled Blood and Eternity. I’ve also got a possible spinoff story or series based on secondary characters from my Mermen of Ea Trilogy that’s in the works.

Lisa: Thanks so much for being here with us today, Shira. It’s been great to chat with you.

Shira: Thanks so much for having me! It was a pleasure.

Lisa: Connect with Shira on Facebook, her Facebook Author Page, Twitter, and her Website

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DreamspunDesires_FirstComesMarriageFS4Blurb: When struggling novelist Chris Valentine meets Jesse Donovan, he’s interested in a book contract, or possibly a date. The last thing Chris expects is a marriage proposal from New York City’s most eligible bachelor!

Jesse’s in a pinch. To keep control of his company, he has to marry. So he has valid reasons for offering Chris this business deal: in exchange for living in a gorgeous mansion for a year, playing the doting husband, Chris gets all the writing time he wants and walks away with a million-dollar payoff. Surely Chris can handle that. He can handle living with the most handsome and endearing man he’s ever met, a man he immediately knows he wants in the worst way and can’t have. Or can he?

Watch for Buy Links Coming Soon to Dreamspinner Press

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THE GIVEAWAY

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The Fine Print:

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Giveaways, J. Johanis

Interview and Giveaway: The Dream God Blog Tour with J. Johanis

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We’re so pleased to welcome author J. Johanis to The Novel Approach today on the tour for her new novel Dream God. Enjoy the short interview and then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below for the chance to win a $20 E-gift card and an e-copy of the book.

Good luck!

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Q: Tell us about your book.

A: Dream God is essentially the aftermath of what goes down in Claimed by the Order. Aya is finally free from the Order, but they have to endure a trial with powerful gods pulling the strings. To give you an idea, the trial is a lot like a modern day rape trial. However, if they don’t win in court, Aya will be forced to return to Egypt where Seth will be waiting for him. To complicate things, Marduk and Akad are together, yet Aya is convinced that Marduk is his soul mate.

Q: How difficult was it to get into the main character’s head?

A: I generally don’t find any difficulties getting into a character’s head. However, if I switch from writing one book to writing another, sometimes I have to make a conscious effort to put the other book out of my head in order to get into the right mind set.

Q: Is this book a standalone or do you plan on visiting it again?

A: Dream God is not a standalone. I did some re-capping of book one, but anyone who reads it without reading Claimed by the Order is going to miss out on too much. So, I advise reading book one first.

Q: Why did you choose to write M/M stories?

A: I write M/M because it’s what comes naturally to me. I started writing M/M before I ever picked up an M/M book. I actually was quite surprised when I discovered how big the genre was and that most of the authors were female as well.

Q: Where do you find your inspiration?

A: I am mostly inspired by history and mythology, but there are also current events and popular TV shows that spark my imagination. With respect to characters, sometimes I see an image or meet someone who inspires the creation of a character. However, I develop most characters because they fit a character type that I need in the plot.

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Dream God CoverBlurb: For the first time in three years, Aya is finally free, but with his freedom comes the pain of all he’s lost. Seeing Akad and Marduk together makes him realize how badly he has messed up. By betraying Marduk, he ruined his chance with the one god he desires more than anything.

Aya needs time to heal and put his world back together, but the trial against the Order looms over him. As the trial begins, Akad, Marduk, and Aya are ensnared in a web of jealousy, backstabbing, and cut-throat politics. Were they crazy to think they could stand up to the Order? If the gods of the Order can still rip their lives apart, their chances of receiving justice may be next to impossible. But if they fail to bring the Order down, Aya may never be free from their grasp.

Buy Link: Amazon

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Excerpt: “My lord Aya,” Elian said, “I’ve prepared your bath early as you requested.”

Aya groaned into his pillow. He looked up just as his servant set a wooden bucket down near the foot of his bed. Steam rose off the water.

“Thank you, Elian.” Aya needed something to curb his frustration. After slipping his skirt down, he stepped out of it, and dipped his feet into the bucket. He closed his eyes, allowing Elian to wash him. Elian ran a warm cloth over his face, then his neck and his bare chest. His touch was sensual like that of a lover, and Aya let his mind wander to the times Marduk had touched him. Elian glided the cloth down his belly, and a shiver ran up Aya’s spine. Elian’s cloth finally brushed along his member, stroking and coaxing. Blood rushed to Aya’s head as Elian’s touch aroused all his senses. When Elian’s strong fingers slid between his buttocks, Aya’s body tensed, his heartbeat quickening. Elian had always tried so hard to seduce him as a boy, but Aya had never given in. Aya had dreamed of saving himself for his soul mate—a dream that had been shattered by Seth and the Order. It seemed ridiculous to continue denying himself a man’s touch, especially that of his gorgeous concubine.

“Please,” Aya said, unsure of what he was asking. Just the thought of Elian fucking him made the heat in him rise. He closed his eyes, imagining Marduk touching him and taking control of him. Thinking of Marduk while Elian stroked him didn’t seem right, but he longed to give his body over; he wanted to feel something. Aya had been like a monk since he’d escaped the Order.

“My Lord. Will you allow me to please you?”

Unable to speak the words, Aya nodded his assent. Elian immediately pushed him back on the bed and crawled on top of him. Though Elian was mortal, his forceful manner was enough to get Aya’s blood flowing.

“Tell me what you want,” Elian said, breathless.

Aya still couldn’t speak, but he knew what he needed. “Please… just fuck me.”

A smile spread to Elian’s lips as he pushed Aya’s legs up and pressed his hard cock against Aya’s exposed hole. Elian ran his hands up Aya’s torso and pinched his nipples hard as his dick slid in. Aya gasped while Elian opened him, driving his shaft deep into his passage until his balls were flush with Aya’s ass.

“Ah,” Aya groaned, clenching handfuls of bedding, anticipating what was to come next. It soon became apparent that Elian knew how to fuck. When the first thrust came, Aya’s entire body glowed with the intense sensation. He needed this. He needed to be fucked so hard that the breath was forced from his lungs, but while his servant’s cock battered him, his mind wandered. He was once again in the Oasis pool and Marduk was inside him, riding him slowly, making him feel something he’d never felt with another.

Elian’s cock slammed into Aya once more, jarring him from his daydream. Though Marduk had been angry with Aya, he hadn’t punished him with his cock; instead he’d made love to him, slow and sweet.

“Stop!” Aya ordered, and Elian paused midstroke. Aya couldn’t stop thinking about Marduk. He’d imagined that letting Elian fuck him would change things—that maybe he’d find some satisfaction, but Elian was so forceful. All Aya could think of was Marduk’s gentle touch, and how Marduk had made love to him. When Elian pulled out, Aya rolled onto his side. His chest tightened once more. He wanted to cry and pull out his hair. He needed Marduk. No one else would ever compare. No one would ever make him feel like Marduk had.

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About the author: J. Johanis writes dark m/m erotic fantasy, and enjoys plots that are historical or myth-based.

Where to find the authorFacebook || Facebook Author Page || Twitter  || Pinterest || Website || Google || Blog || Newsletter signup

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THE GIVEAWAY

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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Tour Dates & Stops:

16-Nov: The Novel Approach,  Bayou Book Junkie, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words

17-Nov: Rainbow Gold ReviewsBook Reviews, Rants, and Raves, My Fiction Nook

18-Nov: The Jena Wade, Divine Magazine

19-Nov: Amanda C. Stone, Prism Book Alliance

20-Nov: Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, Emotion in Motion

23-Nov: Books A to Z, Love Bytes

24-Nov: Full Moon Dreaming, BFD Book Blog

25-Nov: Vampires, Werewolves, and Fairies, Oh My, TTC Books and More

26-Nov: Up All Night, Read All Day

27-Nov: Inked Rainbow Reads

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The Fine Print:

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

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Amy Lane, Queer Romance Month

Queer Romance Month: An Interview With Amy Lane

Queer-Romance-Month-2015

We at The Novel Approach are so pleased to have been able to play a role in the Queer Romance Month celebration. Today we bring you the one and only Amy Lane.

Enjoy!

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AmyLaneLogo

This mini-interview with Amy Lane is brought to you in support of Queer Romance Month. 

QRM runs throughout October, celebrating love stories in all shades of the rainbow in all shades of romance. Join us, and over a hundred LGBTQ+ authors and allies, for essays, flash-fiction and much, much more.

  1. Favourite queer romance

All Kinds of Tied Down– by Mary Calmes

  1. Favourite non-queer romance

The In Death series by J.D. Robb

  1. A queer romance you’d recommend to a newcomer

Matter of Time by Mary Calmes

  1. Recommend a book you love, but feel is under appreciated

Wicked Gentlemen by Ginn Hale

5. Favourite queer romance hero

Cole McGinnis, from Rhys Ford’s Dirty series

  1. Favourite romance character

Whyborne from Jordan Hawk’s Whyborne & Griffin series

  1. A character from romance you identify with

Jory, from A Matter of Time

  1. Why is queer romance important to you?

Everybody deserves a happy ending. Everybody deserves respect. Nobody deserves to have to cut off a part of themselves to function in the world, and love should never be disregarded or marginalized.

  1. Tell us about your book(s)

I have three flavors– light contemporary, angsty contemporary, and angsty alternative universe–but one universal theme; Family is important– even if you have to forge one of your own.

10. What do you think is the future of queer romance?

I honestly think that as queer rights become more and more mainstream and accepted, the romance itself is going to look much more like het romance. The central conflicts aren’t going to be based around being queer– they’re going to be based around being in love. I think that’s what we want to happen–the stories shouldn’t be special because the characters are queer. They should be special because love really is an awesome thing to have in your life, and everybody should have a chance at it.

Amy’s contribution to Queer Romance Month – “In Search of the Golden Heart” – will be published on 22nd October.

“Rooting for a happy ending, seeing two people as humans and not a “lifestyle”, believing that love really is for everybody—these are powerful concepts.”

–Amy Lane

DividersAmy LaneAbout Amy: Amy Lane has four children, two cats, a love starved Chi-who-what, a crumbling mortgage and an indulgent spouse. She also has too damned much yarn, a penchant for action adventure movies, and a need to know that somewhere in all the pain is a story of Wuv, Twu Wuv, which she continues to believe in to this day! She writes fantasy, urban fantasy, and m/m romance–and if you give her enough diet coke and chocolate, she’ll bore you to tears with why those three genres go together. She’ll also tell you that sacrifices, large and small, are worth the urge to write. 

WebsiteFacebook • Twitter

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Bitter TaffyAbout Bitter Taffy: Rico Gonzalves-Macias didn’t expect to fall in love during his internship in New York—and he didn’t expect the boss’s son to out them both and get him fired either. When he returns to Sacramento stunned and heartbroken, he finds his cousin, Adam, and Adam’s boyfriend, Finn, haven’t just been house-sitting—they’ve made his once sterile apartment into a home.

When Adam gets him a job interview with the adorable, magnetic, practically perfect Derek Huston, Rico feels especially out of his depth. Derek makes it no secret that he wants Rico, but Rico is just starting to figure out that he’s a beginner at the really important stuff and doesn’t want to jump into anything with both feet.

Derek is a both-feet kind of guy. But he’s also made mistakes of his own and doesn’t want to pressure Rico into anything. Together they work to find a compromise between instant attraction and long-lasting love, and while they’re working, Rico gets a primer in why family isn’t always a bad idea. He needs to believe Derek can be his family before Derek’s formidable patience runs out—because even a practically perfect boyfriend is capable of being hurt. 

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Anna Butler, Giveaways

Interview and Giveaway: The Heart Scarab Blog Tour with Anna Butler

Heart Scarab Banner

Today we’re please to welcome author Anna Butler to TNA on the Heart Scarab blog tour. Enjoy Anna’s interview and then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for the chance to win one of the following prizes:

*a copy of my novella, FlashWired (epub, mobi or pdf) on every stop to one random commenter

Chance to enter a Rafflecopter for:
*top prize of a $50 Amazon gift voucher 
*second prize, winner’s choice of a Heart Scarab iPad cover or Kindle cover
 *third prize, a Gyrfalcon iPad cover

Good luck!

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WP: Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Anna Butler,  author of Heart Scarab.

Hi Anna, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.

AB: Hi! And thank you for hosting me today. I’m delighted to be here.

Heart Scarab is the second of the Taking Shield series, which charts the life and loves of Shield Captain Bennet. Taking Shield is both a sweeping sci-fi story (old school sci-fi with spaceships and lasers, aliens and handsome heroes) and an equally sweeping love story. I should warn you, though, that it isn’t a romance in the sense that it won’t be what most m/m romance readers would expect.

Thousands of years after an alternate-universe Earth went dark, the people of one of her colonies, Albion, are struggling in a war that’s probably unwinnable, against aliens called the Maess. Although humans have been fighting the aliens’ cyborg drones for over a century, they haven’t seen a real, organic Maess. Set against the war, is the love story between Bennet and Fleet Lieutenant Flynn. They meet in the first book, Gyrfalcon, but for various reasons theirs isn’t going to be an easy love. They meet and part several times before the end. In Heart Scarab, Bennet’s return after being declared missing in action, presumed dead, puts intolerable strain on his relationship with his long term partner, Joss, but paves the way for a reunion with Flynn.

As for me, I worked for the UK civil service for many years as a communications specialist, working on everything from marketing employment programmes to running an internal TV service. These days I’m concentrating on trying to make it as a writer, combining my love of old school science fiction and m/m themes. I live in London with my husband and our cockapoo, Molly. We’re currently house hunting, looking for a country retreat.

WP: Where do you find your inspiration?

AB: Telling you that Star Trek first whetted my appetite for science fiction probably gives my age away, but it’s true that the ground-breaking nature of Trek—the way it casually mixed the nations and races of Earth, for example—is a primary influence on me. I started watching and reading sci-fi avidly. Taking Shield is rooted in all the old school science fiction stories and series : Star Trek, Star Wars, BSG, Independence Day, Doctor Who. I grew up with those, with Heinlein’s and Clarke’s novels. So mostly I’m inspired by the idea of humanity coming up against an enemy they can’t fathom, and having to dig deep within themselves to find the skills and fortitude to survive.

But I think the series that influenced me most in terms of structuring the Taking Shield series is Babylon Five. I loved how so many small, seemingly random events and images came back, much later in the story arc, to show their significance. What B5 proved was that you don’t have to give everything away in the first book/episode/film. You can take time to build a world and its characters slowly and not hurry to wrap up everything neatly until the story itself is fully told. I’ve tried to use this method in the Shield series.

WP: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

AB: I can’t remember not being a storyteller, although writing them down came later. I’ve told/written stories since childhood, starting with the adventures of Jimpy, the soft-toy chimpanzee I took everywhere with me. I moved on to write fanfiction for many years, and although some people decry it, I found it a wonderful, safe place to hone the craft of writing.

I think I first considered myself a writer when I wrote my first long fanfiction that didn’t pander to the tropes and expectations of the fandom, and where I abandoned the usual hurt/comfort storyline for something that was more about exploring the characters and making them, and their motivations, the pivot for the plot. It was certainly a pivotal moment for me.

WP: Do your characters become like real people to you?

AB: Gosh, yes.

It starts early, when I’m first thinking about the character and who he is, where he came from and what he looked like. For the main characters I use a Character Analysis table, answering questions as diverse as how tall he is, what his favourite colour is, and how he deals with disappointment or setbacks—it takes time to complete, so I tend to use this only for the two main characters. By the end of that, the picture of the characters is pretty clear, and I supplement that on Pinterest by searching out images that match the picture in my head.

The important thing is to think about what the character’s faults are. I want them to be rounded human beings, not cardboard cutouts with a few personality traits attached to them. So Bennet, for example, doesn’t always realise how selfish he is, how much he expects things to go the way he’s decreed them to be, because he grew up with wealth and privilege and he doesn’t even think twice about being in command. Flynn’s selfish too, but he’s far more self aware about the devil-may-care attitude he has and how he uses it to keep people at a distance. Frankly, both of them can be jerks, even if the reason for it comes from different backgrounds and experiences.

By the time I start writing, I am usually be pretty clear about why he does (or doesn’t do) something. And I know a lot about them that won’t ever appear in the books, but are part of what’s made them who they are.

WP: If you weren’t a writer, what else would you like to have done?

AB: I’d have loved to have been an opera singer. I took singing lessons for years, but although I had a reasonable soprano voice, it had limited range and power. I’d never be able to hold the stage at Covent Garden! I still regret giving up lessons and concentrating on my career instead, but you can’t go back on things like that for a do-over. Unless you use your voice and practice constantly, it will fade away. Sadly, mine isn’t even the ghost of what it once was, so that door is closed for ever.

WP: What do you want your tombstone to say?

AB: “She had a lot of fun.”

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Heart ScarabBlurb: Telnos is an unpleasant little planet, inhabited by religious fanatics in the festering marshlands and unregistered miners running illegal solactinium mines up in the hills. But the Maess want Telnos, and Shield Captain Bennet’s job is to get out as many civilians as he can—a task that leaves him lying on Telnos while the last cutter of evacuees escapes in the teeth of the Maess invasion.

Bennet is listed missing in action, believed dead on a planet now overrun by Maess drones. His family is grieving. His long-term partner, Joss, is both mourning and guilt-ridden.

And Fleet Lieutenant Flynn? Flynn is desolate. Flynn is heart-broken… no. Flynn is just broken.

Buy Links: Wilde City Press || Amazon US || Amazon UK || Amazon CA || Kobo

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Author BioAbout the author: Anna Butler was a communications specialist for many years, working in UK government departments on everything from marketing employment schemes to running an internal TV service. She now spends her time indulging her love of old-school science fiction. She lives in the ethnic and cultural melting pot of East London with her husband and the Deputy Editor, aka Molly the cockapoo.

Where to find the author: annabutlerfiction@gmail.com || Website and Blog || Facebook || The Butler’s Pantry (Facebook Group) || Pinterest || Twitter

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THE GIVEAWAY

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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Tour Dates & Stops: Wednesdays July 22 – November 4, 2015

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The Fine Print:

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

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Giveaways, Heloise West

Interview and Giveaway: The If I Were Fire Blog Tour with Heloise West

If I Were Fire Banner

We’re so pleased to welcome author Heloise West to The Novel Approach today, on the tour for If I Were Fire. Enjoy her interview, then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for the chance to win an e-copy of the book.

Good luck!

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WP: Do you buy a book because of the cover, the blurb, or something else?

HW: With ebooks and print books, it’s pretty much the same. Cover, blurb, and read a sample.

WP: What does ‘romance’ mean to you?

HW: My significant other and I travel when we can and most of the time, we go out of the country. Neither of speaks any other language but English. So though we’re surrounded by people in beautiful, exotic (to us) places, it is just him and me, depending on each other in a way we don’t have to at home. We’re our own bubble, bobbing along and taking in the sites with only each other to turn to. It’s exciting in a romantic way, as we’re alone yet together sharing an adventure.

WP: What is the most difficult part of writing for you?

HW: It’s not finding time and energy to write anymore as much as it’s getting anything else done these days. I am always glued to the laptop or a notebook or a research book. The weeds grow, the laundry piles higher, and I have popsicles and popcorn for lunch again.

WP: Tell us something about yourself that would surprise people.

HW: You know, I’m pretty boring. Most of the time, people are surprised when I tell them I’m an author, but you’re not looking for that answer, are you? I got nothin’.

WP: What are your current projects?

HW: I am finishing the sequel to Hitting Black Ice (Loose Id). It’s called Send Lawyers, Guns, and Roses, and it’s out to betas. Another round of revisions and off it goes to my editor. Finally. There’s a Renaissance era romantic suspense that my editor asked for revisions on way back when, so that’s next. I’m working on a steampunk novella called Burning Sky and some of that WIP is on my blog.

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If I Were Fire CoverBlurb: In 18th century Siena, Count Salvesto Masello has returned home to find the family villa and his father’s estate steeped deeply in debt. In order to save it, he has been selling off valuable family heirlooms, but he is running out of silverware. Somewhere in the villa his deceased father had hidden the art treasures that will pay the debt, but Salvesto can’t find them anywhere.

Amadeo Neruccio has been on the run from the vicious pimp, thief, and pawnbroker Guelfetto, but his toughs finally catch him and bring him to the cellar where Count Masello is selling off his silver. When the count learns what fate Guelfetto has in store for Amadeo, he intervenes and trades the last of his mother’s dowry for the young man’s freedom.

Salvesto had left home over ten years ago to live the life of adventure he craved. He had also hoped to leave his broken heart behind. When he rescues young Amadeo, he did not expect to find love again, or that his adventures had yet to end.

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

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Author BioAbout the Author: Heloise West, when not hunched over the keyboard plotting love and mahem, dreams about moving to a villa in Tuscany. She loves history, mysteries, and romance of all flavors. She travels and gardens with her partner of 10 years, and their home overflows with books, cats, art, and red wine.

Where to Find the Author: Dreamspinner || Blog || Facebook || Pinterest || Email

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THE GIVEAWAY

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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Tour Dates & Stops:

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The Fine Print:

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

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K.A. Mitchell

Interview: Put a Ring on It by K.A. Mitchell

K.A. Mitchell Banner

Thanks for dropping by, readers! We’re so pleased to have author K.A. Mitchell here with us today to introduce you to her newest novel, Put a Ring on It. I hope you enjoy spending some time getting to know a bit more about the book.

TNA: Hi, K.A., welcome back to The Novel Approach. We’re so pleased to have you here today to chat about your new book Put a Ring on It.

KA: Thank you so much for having me here.

TNA: I have to confess that when reading the blurb, the first thing that popped out at me was that Kieran is adopted. What makes that one detail an important part of who he is?

K.A.: Kieran feels a great deal of pressure, mostly from his mom. His parents adopted children from a variety of ethnicities and pushed them academically. His older brother is a civil rights lawyer who is the youngest attorney to argue in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. His older sister is an epidemiologist for the CDC. He could never match them. Although he loves his parents and siblings, he feels his parents wanted a programmable robot instead of a child and he resists by coasting.

TNA: Why do you feel it was important for Kiernan to fall for an older man like Theo? What does Theo bring to the table that makes him Kiernan’s ideal match?

K.A.: Theo hit Kieran as an irresistible force. Theo is very good at presenting himself to be adored so Kieran was intrigued, then a bit dazzled by someone so into him. As they got more serious, it was ideal for Kieran. Theo has endless energy, but a lot of it is focused outside the relationship. Kieran could have his time to be quiet and alone and then have all that energy turned on him. Theo didn’t put pressure on Kieran to be anything like his parents did. Unlike the guys his age Kieran had dated, Theo has lots of interests outside the relationship and didn’t expect Kieran to do all the heavy lifting.

TNA: And adding to that, why a Broadway producer? Do you have secret dreams of one day acting on Broadway?

K.A.: This series is different from the others I’ve written in that I planned it as a series from the beginning. I knew it would take place in New York City. I knew the core characters’ personalities, and once I had Theo, I knew the kind of job that would be perfect for him. The proposal scene was the second scene I knew for the whole series. I saw so many flash mob proposals, lots of singing, I wondered “What if the other guy didn’t want to say yes? What would happen?”

I loved the theater through elementary school and high school. I did community productions as well. But it wasn’t something I had to do like writing. If I could sing and dance, I would have wanted to play Ado Annie in Oklahoma! or Adelaide from Guys and Dolls. Those are my favorite plays and they have the best songs.

TNA: If Put a Ring on It were to one day be adapted for the stage, who would you cast to play Kiernan and Theo?

K.A.: Even though he’s the wrong look for it, I’m sure Neil Patrick Harris could play Theo, but I’d cast Tom Cullen because that’s kind of the look I had for Theo.

Photo Credit: Belfast Telegraph

Photo Credit: Belfast Telegraph

Daniel Henney is too tall for Kieran at 6’2” but his face is perfect. This image of him is so Kieran.

Photo Credit: Fanpop.com

Photo Credit: Fanpop.com

TNA: If you could put yourself in the place of any one of your characters, and live that person’s life for a while, who would you choose and why?

K.A.: Hmmm. I guess I would pick Shane McCormack from No Souvenirs because then I’d be living—and sleeping—with Jae Sun Kim and I’d have a totally awesome job (though not as awesome as hanging with my imaginary friends all day.) Though Jax and Oz have such hot sex in their book, it might almost be worth suffering with Jax’s diet. Nah. Nothing’s worth that. I’d love to live in Theo’s condo. I’d love to hang out with all my Baltimore boys at one of Eli’s parties.

TNA: Final question, kind of an off-topic one, but if you’ve ever been to Times Square (and anyone who has will totally get why I’m asking this), what’s the absolute most bizarre thing you’ve ever seen there?

K.A.: I’ve been quite a few times and as wild as the sights you can see are (Naked Cowboy, full-sized Transformer) the most bizarre thing I see in Times Square are the tourists. I’m always astounded at the way they stop in the middle of a crosswalk as if they aren’t on a busy street. The way they take pictures of things I can’t imagine are picture worthy. When I see someone do something I can’t explain, like take a picture of an ordinary fire hydrant, I always start to wonder why. Sometimes that leads to a story.

TNA: Thanks so much for chatting with us today, K.A., it’s always a pleasure. :)

K.A.: Thank you for the interesting questions. They were fun.

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PutARingOnItBlurb: Kieran Delaney-Schwartz—adoptee, underachiever, and self-professed-slacker IT guy—lives his under-the-radar life by the motto: Don’t try, don’t fail. His adopted siblings are all overachievers thanks to his driven, liberal parents, but Kieran has elected to avoid disappointing anyone by not getting their hopes up. He’s coasting through his early twenties when he’s hit head-on by Theo. The successful decade-older Broadway producer sweeps him off his feet for a whirlwind thirteen months that are pretty sweet, until it all comes screeching to a halt on Valentine’s Day, with an unexpected proposal via an NYC Times Square flash mob.

Now everyone wants in on the wedding, except the grooms….

Buy Links: Dreamspinner Press || Amazon || All Romance eBooks

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Giveaways, Love Lane Books, Meredith Russell, RJ Scott

Interview and Giveaway: Forever in the Sun by RJ Scott and Meredith Russell

Sapphire Cay Series

We’re pleased to welcome authors RJ Scott and Meredith Russell today on their Forever in the Sun blog tour. They took some reader questions and had a lot of fun answering them, and they’re also offer a chance for one lucky reader to win a $15 Amazon or ARe Gift Card and two additional prizes of an e-book from RJ Scott’s backlist. Just click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter.

Good luck!

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Thank you for letting us invade your blog! As we were out of ideas we asked for questions and boy, did we get them… we talk the three W’s: Wine, writing and snacks. Okay, okay, two W’s and an S.

Chelci Winkels: When you are writing together do you have a specific set up … like snack foods, and drinks or do you just work like students in detention?

RJ: ROFL… I drink so much tea that I should own shares in the company. I don’t have snacks… but I do have my tea. Meredith and I, will have Google Chat open all day, and every so often stop and chat, and then we’ll have tea breaks. Other than that, for me, it’s head down. What about you M?

MR: To be honest I could do with being in detention and banned from all internet access apart from RJ’s chat box. lol

RJ: That’s torture! That is against the Geneva Convention to take away Internet access!

MR: I don’t have snacks at hand, often they’re an excuse to get up and wander so usually either a cereal bar or a handful of grapes. Also I’m a failed Brit as I don’t drink tea and have been known in my inexperienced youth to have poured the milk in over the teabag before adding the hot water. Them’s fighting words!

RJ: I’m not sure we can still be friends

MR: You don’t mean it and you KNOW it.

RJ: Well I’ve put up with you this long, I guess…

MR: Yep, stuck with me, and back to the question, so my drinks of choice are water and pepsi max. I write with music playing, I need structured noise otherwise I’ll find myself distracted by the silence. After that it’s usually head down and writing, or sometimes in my case, some cover art depending on how I’m feeling and what projects I have.

Jen Walter: Favorite wine?

RJ: Anything made with grapes, really. ROFL… I love a white, a rose, and a red, sometimes in the same evening. I like a nice Chardonnay, or a deep Merlot. And when I’m drinking with girlfriends it’s Rose which I can drink a lot of. I always said one day I would do a wine course and actually learn about wine.

MR: I’m not a big drinker most of the time. I’m more the social drinker. Wine, I prefer Rose.

RJ: So when I stay at your house, how comes all the wine goes so fast?

MR: It’s a mystery. I think it might be something to do with the fact you’re drinking out of a pint glass *chuckles*

RJ: It’s not a pint glass, it’s a three quarters of a pint glass… #AllTheDifference

MR: Plus I think drinking with a friend comes under the ‘social’ drinker label so I’m sure I help a little bit. Personally, I prefer a nice cold cider or something like a Malibu and coke or Archers (peach schnapps) and lemonade.

DividersSapphire Cay 6 Forever In The SunRelease date: 14th August 2015

Buy Links: RJ Scott’s Blog
Book 1 – Follow The Sun
Book 2 – 
Under The Sun
Book 3 – 
Chase The Sun
Book 4 – 
Christmas In The Sun
Book 5 – 
Capture The Sun
Book 6 –
Forever In The Sun 

Blurb: Feuding families, unearthed secrets, and a violent storm threatens the Cay. Will the idyllic island with her cast of characters make it through unscathed? It’s time for the circle to close on the story of Sapphire Cay, and on the men who have lived and found love on her beaches.

Join characters old and new as we celebrate Dylan and Lucas’s wedding and delve into the history of Sapphire Cay.

Connor and Shaun are directly related to Peter and Alfie, a couple whose clandestine lover affair was overshadowed by old prejudices and a world war. Shaun Jamieson is a writer, a romantic and needs to pen the story of the affair’s final secrets; Connor French’s family wants to stop Shaun.

When the two men step onto the sands of Sapphire Cay, they find more than just the secrets of an old love. They find hope and comfort in each other. But with the past hanging over them, can they ever have what Peter and Alfie could not? Or are they just as ill-fated as their ancestors?

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Excerpt: The offices of the French Foundation, New York, June

“Your two o’clock is here, Mr. French.” Miriam’s voice floated in over the intercom. The abruptness of it startled Connor from his cost-benefits analysis and he knocked his coffee down, sloshing it onto the paperwork.

“God dammit,” he muttered under his breath. He couldn’t get the figures to balance and trying to find a missing ten-dollar transaction in among a million dollar bank account was screwing with his head. Where had three hours gone? He glanced sideways at his lunch. Or what was left of it. He was surprised he’d managed to actually eat at all because he certainly didn’t remember the food arriving or him even picking up the ham on rye. He had to get these reports done before the accounts department could sign off on them.

He pressed the button. “Give me two,” he said. Quickly he scooped the plate, with the remaining food, into his top drawer and straightened enough paperwork to look efficient. He didn’t recall the details of this two o’clock, just that it was someone with issues about the Foundation. Connor was used to answering all kind of questions, from students, politicians, kids to teachers and there was no one at this Foundation who knew what type of work they undertook as well as him. Apart from Miriam, who had been a PA at the Foundation longer than Connor had been alive. She knew where all the bodies were buried and Connor would be lost without her.

A knock on the door heralded the visitor’s arrival and Connor stood, brushing his shirt of crumbs as he called, “Come in.”

The door opened and Connor had to stop his mouth falling open. Gorgeous. Very nice. Tall, slim, dark hair, with added sexy smile and confidence in the way he walked in. Connor checked him out, couldn’t help it, he hadn’t seen anything this fine in a very long time. I need to get out more. From head to toe, his gaze finally focused back on the man’s face and embarrassment washed over him when the guy was looking at him with one eyebrow raised in question. So much for subtle. Well, at least he isn’t punching me to the floor.

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RJ ScottAbout RJ: RJ Scott has been writing since age six, when she was made to stay in at lunchtime for an infraction involving cookies. She was told to write a story and two sides of paper about a trapped princess later, a lover of writing was born.

As an avid reader herself, she can be found reading anything from thrillers to sci-fi to horror. However, her first real true love will always be the world of romance where she takes cowboys, bodyguards, firemen and billionaires (to name a few) and writes dramatic and romantic stories of love and passion between these men.

With over seventy titles to her name and counting, she is the author of the award winning book, The Christmas Throwaway. She is also known for the Texas series charting the lives of Riley and Jack, and the Sanctuary series following the work of the Sanctuary Foundation and the people it protects.

Her goal is to write stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and most importantly, that hint of a happily ever after.

Author Links: Email || Website || Twitter || Facebook || Library Thing || Tumblr  (some NSFW (not safe for work) photos) || Pinterest

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Author BioAbout Meredith: Meredith Russell lives in the heart of England. An avid fan of many story genres, she enjoys nothing less than a happy ending. She believes in heroes and romance and strives to reflect this in her writing. Sharing her imagination and passion for stories and characters is a dream Meredith is excited to turn into reality.

Author Links: Website/blog || Facebook || Twitter || Instagram || Email

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THE GIVEAWAY

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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DSP Publications, Ethan Stone

Interview and Giveaway: The Blood & Tears Blog Tour with Ethan Stone

Even if you've read it before, you should read it again...
Even if you’ve read it before, you should read it again…

TNA: Hi, Ethan, welcome. It’s great to have you here with us today.

Since you’re here to chat a bit about the re-release of Blood & Tears, let’s start out with the series in general. What made you want to move it from Dreamspinner to DSP Publications? Or, in other words, what makes the series a better fit under that press?

Ethan: While all the books in the Flesh series have romance in them, I believe the mystery elements are somewhat stronger. The books under the DSP Publications umbrella are ones where romance isn’t the primary focus. I thought the dark tone of Flesh fit with the new imprint.

TNA: Did you revisit the books before they went in to publication at DSPP, do any revisions to them? How do you feel your writing style has changed, if at all, since you first published In the Flesh five years ago?

Ethan: All three books were re-edited. In the Flesh and Flesh & Blood, the first two in the series, had only minor changes. However, this book, Blood & Tears, was totally re-written from third person into first person. I consider it a brand new book, which is why I’m saying that even if you read the first version, you should read this edition. It’s a thousand times better, in my opinion.

My writing style has changed a great deal. I realized that when I started re-edits on In the Flesh. I tried not to change too much because it was my first published novel, and it has a unique voice. My voice is different now, and I wanted to keep my original voice intact.

TNA: If someone were considering reading the series but wanted to know a bit more about Cristian Flesh first, what are a few things you’d want that reader to know about him from your point of view?

Ethan: Cristian can be an asshole, a total douchebag, but he has a big heart. He’s afraid of getting hurt, especially when we first meet him in In the Flesh, so he uses a rough exterior to keep people away. A few people manage to see beyond his attitude and find the real man beneath. He’s a good cop, an excellent one, even if he is a bit unorthodox. If he doesn’t like you he will tell you, but if he likes you he will do whatever it takes to protect you.

TNA: Would you say there are any parts of you in Cristian? If so, how would you say he’s most like you?

Ethan: The Cristian we see in In the Flesh was very much like me at the time I wrote the book. I wasn’t very happy and had a dim view of the future. I was in an unhappy relationship, and many of the rules Cristian lives by were ones we had regarding our open relationship. As I’ve written more books in the series, where Cristian is a supporting character, I’ve written him as mellower and happier, which is how I am as well.

TNA: Was it difficult to switch gears in Blood & Tears, leaving Cristian and Colby in the background to focus on Gabe and Drew? How do Gabe and Drew’s “voices” differ from Cristian and Colby’s—are they grittier, or less so? More or less romantic?

Ethan: It was difficult at first, but once I got into it, I enjoyed it a lot. I’ve loved Gabe since I first wrote him in In the Flesh. He was originally meant to be a disposable character—and a bad guy—but he took over and I’d been looking forward to writing his book for a while. Both Gabe and Drew are less gritty than Cristian. Drew is a bit of a stuffed shirt in the beginning, and I had him relax and chill out as the book progressed. Gabe was rather damaged—mentally and physically—in the beginning of Blood & Tears, but he still had hope beneath the anger. The romance and sex between Gabe and Drew is different than with Cristian and Colby because Drew is a newbie to it all, so it’s not as rough but just as enjoyable.

TNA: Do you have any more books planned for this series, or was this always meant to be a trilogy?

Ethan: Excellent question! I’d planned on it just being a trilogy, but as I worked on the re-releases, I realized I wasn’t quite done with these characters. A fourth book—Closing Ranks—is due out in October. It introduces new characters, but has Cristian and the cops at Reno Police Department as supporting characters. Jeremy Ranklin, the main character, works alongside Cristian on a case and gets to know both Cristian and Colby. It also shakes things up in the police department, which opens up possibilities for new stories. I’m also working on a fifth book which will feature characters introduced in Closing Ranks.

TNA: What’s coming up next for you? Any new releases on the horizon you’d like to share some news about with us?

Ethan: In addition to Closing Ranks from DSP Publications in October, I have a release around the beginning of the year with Pride Publications. Hiding in Plain Sight is a sequel to Vegas Hustle. I’ve also written a couple of short stories for various anthologies.

TNA: Where can readers follow you on the internet?

Ethan: I’m a Facebook addict so you can usually find me there. I’m also on Twitter-@ethanjstone.

A huge thanks to The Novel Approach for having me and to the readers who support me. As a reward to the readers, I will give out an ebook copy of Blood and Tears to one lucky commenter.

THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED

Good luck!

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blood-tearsBlurb: 2nd Edition

The last thing Gabe Vargas wants to do after nearly dying is to leave his young son. But that’s exactly what FBI Agent Drew Bradley is asking him to do. According to Drew, the only way to protect Gabe and find his wife’s killer is to fake Gabe’s death.

With an already established adversarial relationship, protecting a hothead like Gabe isn’t exactly a picnic for Drew either. But Drew lets his guard down and a desire for Gabe leaves him confused. Before the crime can be solved, Drew will have to risk more than his life. He’ll also have to risk his heart.

1st Edition published by Dreamspinner Press, July 2011.

Buy Link: DSP Publications

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Ethan Stone 200x200About Ethan: Ethan Stone is an out and proud gay man. Which is fairly new in his life, the out part, not the gay part. He’s been queer his whole life, though he tried to deny it for years with a wonderful woman. The years in denial weren’t all bad, he has two amazing kids out of it. His son is a teenager and his daughter has made him a grandfather, three times over. A way too young grandfather.

Ethan has returned to Oregon after almost a decade in Nevada. He no longer has a day job and is doing his best to make a living at this writing thing. If he can’t make a living, he at least wants to support his Mt. Dew and beef jerky addictions.

Find Ethan at his Website or Email him at ethanstone.nv@gmail.com

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Tour 1

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Giveaways, J.K. Hogan, Wilde City Press

Interview and Giveaway: The Shadows Fall Blog Tour With JK Hogan

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The Novel Approach welcomes author JK Hogan on her Shadows Fall blog tour today. JK answered a few questions for her visit today, and is also giving one lucky reader the chance to win an e-copy of the book. To enter, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below.

Good luck!

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TNA: How did the writing experience with this book differ from the writing of the books in your Coming About series? Do you feel it was a greater creative challenge for you?

JKH: The biggest difference was all the intricacy that went into building a mystery, complete with a police investigation. I wanted it to be as true to life as possible while still being interesting so I did a lot of research in everything from murder investigations and autopsies, to genetic experimental research and American gypsies. It was absolutely a greater challenge for me, if for nothing else than the sheer about of work and brain power that went into it.

TNA: You went with both supernatural elements and a murder mystery this time around, not to mention there’s a romance that develops along the way. What do you find intriguing about bringing two people together and having them fall in love in what might otherwise be considered a rather unromantic setting?

JKH: It’s intriguing because, in my opinion, it’s more realistic. The situation was obviously fictional, but the majority of people I know didn’t fall in love over wine & chocolates or jet trips to Paris. They fell in love while life was happening. I just happened to make the “life” that was happening to my characters a bit more wild and complicated. :) 

TNA: Do you have a favorite scene in the book, one that while you were writing it you just knew it was the scene that would bring the story together and make it that much better? If so, can you tell us a bit about it without giving too much away?

JKH: Wow, that’s nearly impossible to decide. I don’t know if it necessarily brought the story together better than any other scene, but one of my favorite ones to write was the scene where Titus’s grandmother Hester arrives. She is quite the character, the embodiment of all of the research I did on the gypsy culture. She is an old-timer, set in her ways and extremely indelicate. She was freaking hilarious to write.

TNA: What makes Titus and Charlie work? What would you say is the most important part of their chemistry as a couple?

JKH: I think it would be the contrast between Charlie’s kindness and sense of duty, and Titus’s independence. I could have made Charlie a typical alpha-male-cop-type and Titus a (forgive me)damsel-in-distress type. Instead, Charlie is quiet and self-contained, but he truly cares for Titus enough to want to keep him safe. However, Titus is no simpering maiden. He accepts help when he needs it, but he likes to stand on his own, for better or worse. He doesn’t need Charlie to save him, but he likes knowing Charlie will be there just in case.

TNA: Is Shadows Fall book one of a series? Could you see yourself writing more novels in this setting, or is this a one-off story?

JKH: It’s definitely a series. There may be bigger gaps in between the books than my other series, because these themes are more technical and intensive, but I intentionally left a few loose ends in Shadows Fall to set up for the next adventure. :)

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ShadowsFall_FinalCoverRGBBlurb: A gift—or curse—gives Titus McGinty the unwanted ability to talk to ghosts. When he starts seeing the same few apparitions repeatedly, appearing with similar gruesome injuries, he begins to wonder what they want from him.

Detective Charlie Hale has a serial killer on his hands. On the loose for weeks, the Queen City Slayer has left the police nothing to go on, no forensic evidence other than what he wants found. The city is running out of time.

The crisis brings Titus and Charlie together—Titus stumbles upon a body and finds himself a suspect. Their budding romance is tested as they are sucked into a web of underground laboratories, restive spirits, and religious fanaticism. They’ll have to work together to find the identity of the killer before he takes his next victim…Titus.

Buy Links: Wilde City Press | Amazon | All Romance eBooks

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Author BioAbout the Author: J.K. Hogan has been telling stories for as long as she can remember, beginning with writing cast lists and storylines for her toys growing up. When she finally decided to put pen to paper, magic happened. She is greatly inspired by all kinds of music and often creates a “soundtrack” for her stories as she writes them. J.K. is hoping to one day have a little something for everyone, so she’s branched out from m/f paranormal romance and added m/m contemporary romance. Who knows what’s next?

J.K. resides in North Carolina, where she was born and raised. A true southern girl at heart, she lives in the country with her husband and young son, a cat, and two champion agility dogs. If she isn’t on the agility field, J.K. can often be found chasing waterfalls in the mountains with her husband, or down in front at a blues concert. In addition to writing, she enjoys training and competing in dog sports, spending time with her large southern family, camping, boating and, of course, reading! For more information, please visitwww.jkhogan.com.

Where to find the author: Facebook Author Page | Twitter | Pinterest | Tumblr | Google+ | Instagram

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THE GIVEAWAY:

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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Upcoming Tour Dates:

1-Jul – Prism Book Alliance

2-Jul – Hearts on Fire

3-Jul – Inked Rainbow Reads

6-Jul – Chris McHart | Multitasking Mommas

7-Jul – Molly Lolly | The Blogger Girls

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Ashley John, Giveaways, Self-Published

Interview and Giveaway: Sink or Swim by Ashley John

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The Novel Approach welcomes author Ashley John today, on his Sink or Swim blog tour. We have an interview and excerpt to share with you, and then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below for the chance to win one of three e-copies of the book.

Good luck!

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TNA: Thanks so much for joining us here at The Novel Approach today, Ashley. I’m so glad to have you here with us to chat about the newest book in your Surf Bay series, Sink or Swim. Why don’t we start by having you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Ashley: It’s great to be here! Thank you for having me on my first tour stop at The Novel Approach. My name is Ashley John and I’m a 21 year old male writer of gay romance. A lot of people are intrigued about my age, because they think I can’t have possibly lived enough to have material to write, but I’ve always felt older than my actual age. My writing, especially my Surf Bay series has a lot of my own experiences and struggles written in to it. I live in England, with my fiancé Reece, and our two cats/babies, Jeremy and Jinx.

Writing was always something I’ve wanted to do, but I didn’t take the plunge into publication until June 2014. It’s almost coming up to my first year birthday as a writer and in that time I’ve published a three-part novella series, The George & Harvey Series, and I’m currently releasing books in my Surf Bay series, which is a series of standalone gay romance books.

TNA: I saw in your author bio that writing is only one of your creative outlets. When it comes down to it, which would you say is the more personally satisfying and why?

Ashley: Writing is definitely the most rewarding of my outlets. I draw, I paint, I graphic design and I write, but writing is the one I can reach the most people with. When you post a picture of a painting, or a drawing, the response is always very ‘flash in the pan’, but with my books, I can reach thousands of people in every corner of the world. To me, that’s mind blowing. Like I said, I’ve only been releasing books for a year, but I’ve just sold my 20,000th book. To some, that’s probably small numbers, but I never thought I’d reach the 100 sales mark. I was working in McDonalds before I published my first book, so writing has literally changed my life and given me a career I can be proud of, but above all of that, it’s something I utterly enjoy and love to do. I love talking to people about my books and seeing how they respond to it. Saying all of that, I’d love to make more time with my other outlets. I design all of my own covers, but I’d love to find the time to paint more (although writing takes up a huge chunk of time!).

TNA: How old were you when you discovered you had not only a love for writing, but a talent for it? Do you remember what the first story you ever wrote was about? Would you care to tell us about it?

Ashley: When I was a little boy, I was always super creative. When kids get taglines for their hobbies, I was always ‘the arty one’ at school. All of the awards and certificates I won at school were art/writing based (I have a shoebox full of them in my attic!). I have very vivid memories of my sitting on my nan’s carpet, in front of the fire, writing endless stories on sheets of A4 paper. I’d always illustrate them and try to make my handwriting as neat as possible, but I’d never show them to anyone. I remember one of my earliest ‘books’ was a story I wrote based on The Beauty and The Beast. I’d never seen the movie as a kid, so I made up my own version about a beast-man who lived in the attic because he couldn’t find the key. A woman, the beauty, also lived in the castle and she helped him find the key which was hidden above his door the whole time. Riveting stuff, right? I think I must have been 5! I stapled pieces of paper together and I illustrated the whole thing! I actually still have it, so I may dig it out to take some pictures! In my teen years, I lost my passion for writing. I hated school, so anything slightly ‘educational’, I rebelled away from. School bored me and the only subject I liked was English, but I never liked learning how to analyze writing, because I wanted to be the one writing it. When I left school, I initially wanted to be a graphic designer, which is was always another of my passions, so I went to college, but I ended up being bored again. The tutors were teaching graphic design 1989 style, so they weren’t teaching me what I needed to know. I then spent two years as a hairdresser, which is when I rediscovered my love of writing. That’s when I first wrote of the first draft of the The Secret (Part One of The George & Harvey Trilogy, my first release), but it wasn’t until I was working in McDonalds two years later that I finally decided to do something about it! It was a huge risk, but one that has paid off.

TNA: Since we’re here to chat about Sink or Swim today, will you tell us some things about the setting and characters that make it a fun world for you to write in?

Ashley: I love writing about Surf Bay. Surf Bay is a fictional surfing town in California, where all of the books in the Surf Bay series are set. It was once the jewel of the surfing scene, but in recent years, it has been taken over by bigger and better towns. I love writing about the same town, because it’s full of so many interesting characters and even though each book is standalone, focusing on different main characters each time, it’s fun to see established characters popping up. I love it when my readers say Surf Bay feels real to them. So many of them say they can picture where everything is in the town, which is so fun for me, because it’s straight from my imagination and on to the page. Sink or Swim, which is the fifth book in the series, is the first to be taken out of the current timeline. It’s set in 2003, which is 11 years before the start of the series (Lost & Found) and is an origin story for Finley, who has featured in every other Surf Bay book so far, but never as the lead.

In Book 4 (Love’s Medicine) he had a bigger role than ever before and he’s a really complex character and the readers doesn’t know much about him. He’s British, living in America and running a nightclub/crime empire, so I thought it would be fun to go back to him arriving in Surf Bay as an 18 year-old. I get to write him completely different to how people know him, because it’s the events in Sink or Swim, which made him the distant and emotionally detached man we see in the other books.  Sink or Swim can be read as an origin story for Finley, a prequel to the whole series or as a complete standalone, so even if people haven’t visited Surf Bay before, it’ll still make perfect sense to them. There are so many dynamic characters living in Surf Bay, so until it’s wiped off the face of the planet by global warming, I’ve got lots of stories to tell about the town and its inhabitants. There are no main characters in Surf Bay, because the town is the main character.

TNA: Between this and your George & Harvey series, which do you think would translate best to the big screen? If you were casting the movie version of a couple of your books, which would you choose and whom would you choose as your leading men?

Ashley: Oh lord. It’s like asking which of your children you’re going to send to college! Okay, I’m going to cheat here, because I’ve never seen Surf Bay as a movie series, I’ve always thought of it as a TV Show. There’s such a huge cast throughout the Surf Bay books, it would work so much better as a TV drama. If it was ever to be developed, I’d imagine all of the books would be mashed together, and each chapter would be an episode of the show, so you’d focus on a different character every week. When I was writing George & Harvey, I imagined it would make a good movie series. It’s a lot more intimate than Surf Bay, because there’s a smaller cast across all three books and it’s the same faces.

For George, I could imagine somebody like Matt Bomer taking on the role. George is a man in his early 30s, described as having thick, brown hair with flecks of gray and sharp, high cheekbones with piercing eyes. Matt Bomer is utterly gorgeous, so I’ll go for him. Harvey on the other hand is the complete opposite. He’s 19 years old, tall, skinny and pale with black hair. He’s slightly more difficult to cast, because he looks like my image of Harry Potter from the books, but nothing like Daniel Radcliffe. I think Andrew Garfield, as a teenager would be an okay fit, or maybe a young Ben Barnes!

TNA: Would you like to share an excerpt from Sink or Swim with us, and share why you selected it? What makes it special to you?

Ashley: This is part of a scene taken from Chapter 14. It features Finley and his love-interest, Jay. It’s a rare moment of calm and serenity in the book, which is quite dramatic and fast-paced. This was me pressing pause for a scene, to show how perfect Finley and Jay are for each other. Jay is a photographer, but he’s scared to show his work to anybody and Finley has pretended to be the tough guy all of his life, so being photographed on the beach, in front of a crowd of people, goes against everything he believes in, but he’ll do it under the condition that Jay will show his work to somebody. I love these two together and for me, this scene shows what makes them special.

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surfbay“I’ll do this under one condition,” Finley planted his hands firmly on his hips.

“What? You’re already doing it! No conditions!”

“Hear me out.”

Jay sighed, dropping the camera to his side for a moment, copying Finley’s stance, “What do you want? Blow jobs? Because let me tell you, that thing you have is far too -,”

“No!” Finley waved his hands, “I want you to show your pictures to somebody.”

“I already have,” he shrugged, “I showed you.”

“Somebody else. You mentioned a gallery in the town hall. I want you to try and get your pictures in that gallery.”

“Finley –,”

“Jay,” Finley cut in, “Just promise me you’ll try. You’re too good to have your portfolio under your bed for the rest of your life.”

He could see Jay arguing with himself in his head. He was struggling between his want to photograph Finley and his fear of having his work judged. He opened and closed his mouth a couple of times, each time, sighing and huffing out his chest, as if a tantrum was brewing.

“Fine!” he cried, “Will you let me take your goddamn picture now?”

“Just tell me what to do,” he scratched the back of his head, “don’t leave me hanging.”

“Don’t worry,” Jay held the camera up to his eye, and clicked, the flash almost blinding Finley, “I can tell you’re going to be a natural.”

“I wasn’t ready that time!”

He clicked again, and again, leaving Finley standing there, more and more terrified each time the bright light burned his eyes.

“You’re not going to pose,” another picture, another flash, “just be you. Be Finley. Be the person I see, not the person you want people to see.”

At first, that statement puzzled him, but after a second of thinking, he understood it perfectly.

Jay saw through every act, every wall, to see the person he was deep down. He saw the person behind the fake passport, without even knowing the full story. He didn’t seem to care that Finley was hiding things from him, but that didn’t matter to Jay.

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TNA: Would you care to share a bit of news about your current WIPs and any more upcoming projects?

Ashley: After the release of Sink or Swim, I’m jumping straight back into a WIP I was writing before I started Sink or Swim. It’s a book called Boss, and it’s something I’m very excited about. I pushed the release from May to June, because I wanted to have some more time to make things perfect. It’s a story about a wealthy man who returns from years of travelling to discover his father has died and signed his inheritance away to a mysterious man. It’s set in London, which is my first book to be set in my home country, so it’s really fun for me to write. It’s a romance book at its core, with splashes of erotica, but it’s all about the characters and their personal journeys throughout the book. After that, I’m planning to release the sixth Surf Bay book, which is all outlined and ready to write, and then I’m going to be alternating Surf Bay and standalone books until the end of the year! Lots to write, but it’s going to be fun!

TNA: Where can readers find you on the internet?

Ashley: I think I’m on about every social media there is! You can find me on Facebook at fb.com/ashleyjohnart, Twitter at twitter.com/itsashleyjohn, Instagram at instagram.com/itsashleyjohn and Snapchat at @itsashleyjohn. I also have my own website, ashleyjohn.co.uk, which is a mixture of blog and an official website for my books. I post a lot of blogs on there as well as teasers and sneak peeks for my upcoming releases. Speaking of upcoming releases, you can also sign up to my newsletter at ashleyjohn.co.uk/newsletter to be notified of releases and sales (I only send about one newsletter every month).

TNA: Thanks so much again for being here with us, Ashley. Come back and visit any time at all.

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Sink Or Swim copyBlurb: Framed for a crime he didn’t commit, British teenager, Finley, is given a fake passport and forced to forget the life he’s always known. When he arrives in Surf Bay, he meets his uncle, Monroe, and he learns his time in America isn’t going to be a vacation. From the second his plane hits the ground, he is dragged into a world of organized crime, working under his uncle’s wing.

He is forced to share a tiny apartment with another of Monroe’s employees, Jay, and they soon become puppets, acting out Monroe’s terrible crimes, side by side. When their work starts to become increasingly more dangerous, Finley is torn between his need to obey his uncle and his need to protect Jay.

As his life spirals out of control, he falls deeper and deeper into a world filled with money, crime and power and his only form of escapism is in his growing love for Jay.

Can Finley resist the lure of a life-changing proposition from his uncle, while still protecting the one he loves, or will he make sacrifices, which could change the course of his life, forever?

Author Note: This is 5th book in the Surf Bay series. It is an origin story for Finley and not a HEA romance novel (although it does have romance elements). It is recommended that you have read the other books in the Surf Bay series first, although this CAN be read as a standalone (no cliffhanger) or as a prequel to the rest of the series.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

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THE GIVEAWAY:

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Bey Deckard, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Self-Published

Character Interview With Captain Baltsaros, Tom, and Jon – The Baal’s Heart series by Bey Deckard

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In what I can assure you is one of the most interactive interviews ever done here at The Novel Approach, I’m happy to bring Bey Deckard to you today. Or, rather, Captain Baltsaros, Tom, and Jon of the pirate ship Baal’s Heart, in anticipation of the April 11, 2015 release of Fated: Blood and Redemption, Book Three of the Baal’s Heart trilogy.

There’s a reason Caged and Sacrificed made my list of Best Reads of 2014, not the least of which is the charm of the three characters who make this series all it is. To know them truly is to love them.

So, without further ado, here they are, the captain, Tom, and Jon.

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TNA: Gentlemen, thanks to you for agreeing to answer a few questions for me. I have to confess to feeling a bit intimidated by this interview, so let’s start with an easy question and see where it goes from there.

Will you introduce yourselves (or each other) to the readers who may not know you yet?

B: *laughs* There’s no need to feel intimidated, my dear. I assure you that we’re all on our best behaviour. *leans forward in his chair* Lisa, is it? May I call you Lisa?

TNA: Oh, Captain… you may call me anything you wish, but Lisa will do just fine. *winks*

T: *chuckles but stops at a look from the captain*

B: *inclining his head in a little bow* Lisa, it’s very nice to meet you. I’m Captain Baltsaros, captain of the pirate ship Baal’s Heart. We’re honoured to have been invited to speak with you. *smiles and leans back, hands clasped loosely in his lap* Now… let me introduce you to the two young men I have with me. On my left, trying to affect an air of disinterest, is Jon. More recently, Captain Jon Black.

J: *laughs* Well… Not captain anymore, but thank you for that. Pleased to meet you, Lisa. I’m not acting “disinterested”. I’m just… well, I’m not exactly sure what I’m supposed to be saying.

T: Yer supposed to say yer how-do-ye-do’s, love. Then ye bloody answer all the nice lady’s questions smartly, like a good lad… aye? *shifts in place patting at his trousers looking for something*

J: *rolls eyes* Don’t mind Tom. He’s chafing a little because the captain made him put on a shirt.

T: *snorts*

B: A little decorum goes a long way, Tom. Lisa, I apologize for my first mate. Though he’s the only one of us with legitimate noble beginnings, he enjoys playing the savage.

T: Thomas Hinchliffe of Averdown the Fourth. *side eyes Baltsaros before looking back at Lisa* Pleased to make yer acquaintance, I’m sure. How’s that for bloody decorum?

J: *choking* What? Where in the hells did that come from?

B: *laughs*

T: It’s my bloody name, ducky. *finds what he was looking and pulls a match out of his pocket*

J: I’m sorry, but you hate it when your mother calls you anything but Tom. The look you gave her—wait, the fourth? So your dad was… Ohh… is that why you don’t like being called… *trails off at a scowl from Tom*

T: D’ye mind if I smoke here, lovey? *pulls a slim cigar out from behind his ear and holds it up*

TNA: *gapes* Erm… well… *clears throat* Yes, please, be my guest.

Jon, Tom, it’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance as well. Tom, I had no idea you were a member of the nobility. *desperately shuffles notes* And Jon, he doesn’t like to be called what? You can’t just leave readers hanging like that. I mean, you can, but you won’t… will you?

J: Oh, well he just doesn’t like it when his mother calls him “Thomas”. I figured it’s just because he likes being an ass, but… it’s got to do with your dad, right? *furrows brows as he looks at Tom*

T: Aye, the name don’t sit right with me for a couple’a reasons, love, that bein’ one of them. The gutless bastard that put me in my ma’s belly is Lord Thomas. I’m no coward like he was. Let’s just stick with Tom, aye? *holds the match to the end of his cheroot and puffs it to get it lit, then goes to drop it on the ground but stops at a soft noise from the captain*

Sorry. *balances the charred match on his knee*

B: *shakes his head and hands Tom the cup of water he’d been drinking from to use as an ashtray* We seem to have hijacked your interview, Lisa. Apologies,please… continue.

TNA: How are all three of you doing after your last adventure, especially you, Captain?

B: I’m recovering, thank you. *the words are said politely, but his expression is a little grim, and Tom and he share a look*

J: *staring down at his hands, face pale* Fine.

T: Aye, we’re fine, missy. It ain’t peaches and rainbows, but we’re gettin’ on the way we do.

B: Indeed we are. *the look he gives Jon is both worried and fond, and Jon lifts his head with a wan smile when he notices Baltsaros watching*

TNA: What are some things you know for sure about the three of you that you didn’t know even a few months ago?

J: *brightens* Tom’s name for one…

T: Don’t make me regret I told ye. *the words are a playful growl, and he blows out a plume of smoke*

J: *laughs* Ok… Sorry, Lisa. Let me think… Things we know for sure… Ummm. Do you mean things we learned about ourselves? Or about each other?

TNA: *grins* Please, do you think I ever have this much fun doing interviews? So, how about if we say a little of both? The roles have changed a bit for all three of you, in your relationship as well as on board ship, yeah? Are you all three comfortable with where you are now, especially in, shall we say, private?

J: Oh. *face reddening a little, he scrubs a hand through his curls and glances over at Tom*

T: For lord’s sake, love! It’s not like she’s askin’ to see yer pecker. *laughs*

TNA: Well, a lady would never ask, but a woman… There’s no telling what we’re apt to ask for. *grins*

J: *stares wide-eyed at Lisa for a moment, then his face splits into a self-conscious grin as he looks down at his hands, slowly shredding the hem of his shirt.*

B: *smirks at Jon and then turns to Lisa with a graceful smile* Things have… changed, yes. I think it’s fair to say that the roles we have both in public and private have shifted in just the past year. While Tom remains my first mate, he and I are much closer thanks to Jon. Jon’s role aboard changed following my… ah… mental lapse, and he continues to function as a failsafe for me in his role of quartermaster. *his smile becomes a little self-conscious* I now know for certain that I obviously need to relinquish control more oft—

T: Ha!

B: —en. *shakes his head at Tom, but he’s still smiling.*

J: I know that both of you learned basic human concepts like “trust” and “lo—

T: Bloody hells! Why d’ye two have to be so fuckin’ meaningful all the godsdamned time? *laughs and then leans forward in his chair, brow furrowed and blue-green eyes mischievous* Lisa, lovey, what I know for certain now that wasn’t bloody apparent before… is that Jon, feeble li’l fucker that he once was, is a right demon when it comes to givin’ me a deep dickin’—

J: Tom!

B: *sits back looking amused*

T: Lemme finish, lad. The lady asked for private, so I’m givin’ her bloody private, savvy? Sorry… where was I? Aye… when Jon’s balls-deep, he can be a real devil, every bit o’ rough that my da is and—*looks over at Baltsaros with a grin*—Da here, can be every bit o’ soft that Jonny-boy can be. It’s a bloody miracle, as far as I’m concerned. If ye ask me, I’m the one who got the best out of this deal. What d’ye think, love? *winks at Lisa*

TNA: Me? *laughs* I think you just changed me from a lady to a woman with one answer, you charming scoundrel. *winks back*

T: *waggles his brows and slouches back in this chair, puffing on the end of his cigar*

B: So, Tom, you’re saying that what you just said isn’t “meaningful”? *chuckles*

T: *shoots a look at Baltsaros, and for a moment the two men just smile at each other*

TNA: *stares* Uh, okay, assuming it can get a little stir crazy spending so much time on board ship, what’s your favorite way to blow off steam?

*All three laugh, and Jon goes an even darker shade of red*

T: C’mon, lad. You tell ‘er, since yer so bloody keen on torturin’ me lately…

J: *looks over at Baltsaros, but when the captain nods in encouragement, it looks like Jon wants to disappear into his chair* Uh… *rubs his face* Ok. Well… the long table in the stateroom got wrecked in the fight against the Reaper—long story *waves it away*… anyway, we had it up on crates at first, but then we found a replacement on our way home, and we had nowhere to put the old one. It just ended up propped against the wall… We were just going to throw it overboard, but one night I was telling Tom about what we called the “begging cross” in the dungeon I used to work in—I was a sort of interrogator in a dungeon in Portsmouth for my—

B: Jon, stay on the subject.

J: *breathes deep with a small nod, one hand picking nervously at the front of his tunic* Tom built a fair replica of a begging cross—it’s really just a big X—with the pieces of the old table and bolted it into the floor of our quarters. *glances over at Tom* And… well… now instead of spending time in the brig like he used to every time he gets into trouble… we tie him to the cross instead so we can take turns… at… *looks at Lisa and falters*

T: *starts to laugh*

J: Hey, you’re the one who’s been doing everything he can to get tied to the fucking thing, why do I have to talk about it?

T: Because ye turn a lovely shade o’ pink, lovey, and it makes my cock hard hearin’ ye speak words that do it to ye.

B: *brow cocked in amusement* Our first mate also took it onto himself to bring some new toys aboard… They’ve proven to be an excellent source of divertissement. Especially coupled with the cross. Tom, do you want me to tell our lovely host exactly what it was that Jon and I were doing that had you begging so charmingly last night?

T: *looking a little abashed, he shakes his head then focuses on Lisa* So what was that next question, lass? Did ye ask it? Can ye ask it?

J: *laughs* turnabout it fair play.

TNA: *fans self – reaches over and pats Tom’s hand* No worries, Tom, I knew that would be a, shall we say, loaded question. I also knew the answer would be a lot of fun. I’ll ask the next question, but pardon me if I seem a bit distracted from here out. My imagination… Oy.

T: *grins crookedly*

TNA: If you were each to write his own memoir, what would the titles of your books be?

B: I think mine would have to have something of madness in it *chuckles* but what about Of Monsters and Maelstroms: The Voyages of Captain Baltsaros?

*Jon and Tom both laugh*

T: Sounds like ye been thinkin’ o’ that for a while, aye? So ye gonna write a bloody memoir?

J: *helpless laughter* Oh gods… emphasis on the bloody

B: *for a moment something like anger crosses his face, but then he joins in on the laughter*

T: Ok… I think… if I were to put my life to paper… it’d be somethin’ like… uhhh—

J: Fucking and Fighting or Hungover and Horny

T: *grinning wide* D’ye see why I love Jonny-boy here so fuckin’ much? He bloody knows me.

B: What about you, Jon?

J: Me? I have no idea. Why would I want to write about what’s happened to me in my life? *he suddenly looks a little withdrawn*

T: *drops his cigar in the cup of water, gets up from his chair, and puts his arms around Jon’s shoulders to bury his face in the side of Jon’s neck*

J: *eyes closed, he listens to the words rumbled against his skin by the first mate and gives a little nod, his brow smoothing out*

B: *watches the exchange and then turns to Lisa with an apologetic smile* Jon’s memoir would be called something like The Burden of Trust.

J: *lets out a small, bitter-sounding laugh*

T: *instead of returning to his chair, Tom sits cross-legged on the floor in front of Jon’s*

TNA: Oh my… well, on that note, last question, gentlemen – can you give us a wee hint as to what your next journey will be? Just a little tease?

*Jon and the captain share a long look*

B: For now? We are heading to Madierus. I’m afraid it’s not a very interesting answer… but I’ve promised Jon that we won’t budge for a little while. Then, once we’re rested and tired of staying in one place, we’ll see.

T: Aye, we’ll see… see how long it takes for Abetha to drive us all bloody mad. Oh, that’s a thought: we could write a memoir together and call it Three Madmen in a Leaky Tub 

B: Baal’s Heart has yet to leak.

T: Aye, but the bloody state of her… unseemly with all them patches.

B: *frowns and nods thoughtfully* We’ll have plenty of time for repairs once we get to Madierus.

TNA: So you’re just going home?

J: *smiles softly, his grey-blue eyes soulful as his fingers stroke the side of Tom’s neck* Nah. Madierus is just… a break. It’ll never be home. Home is the Heart. It’s Baltsaros and Tom and me together. That’s home.

Now, if that’s all the questions… I think it’s actually time to be getting home now. I’m sorry that it got a little serious there. You have to understand that we’ve been through somewhat of an ordeal, and things have been a little rough.

I want to thank you for having us, and I hope you’ll have us again one day.

B: Yes, it was a definitely a pleasure, Lisa. I’ll be sure to send you a letter, should we find ourselves heading for strange waters. *his smile is friendly, and he bobs his head in a quick, charming bow*

T: If ye ever want to come sail with us, I’m sure I could find ye some room, lovey. Just let o’ Tom know. *he winks and quickly pulls Lisa’s knuckles to his mouth for a brief, rough-stubbled peck*

TNA: *gasps* Tom, you are a wicked scoundrel. And I can assure you, gentlemen, the pleasure was entirely mine.

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Fated(200x300)Blurb: With the captain’s mind in shambles, Jon and Tom set out to find the passage home through the black mountain range, hoping to find a cure for Baltsaros’s madness. However, when the men are forced to part ways, darkness takes root in the schism created; fate, lust, and vengeance become obsessions threatening to tear apart the fragile bonds holding the three together.

Following on the heels of Sacrificed, Fated takes the pirates on a quest to find those responsible for the captain’s bloody beginnings. But can they survive what awaits them where past and present meet?

Pre-Order Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Barnes & Noble

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Giveaways, Torquere Press

Interview and Giveaway: Kristi Boulware Of Torquere Press

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The Novel Approach is please to welcome Kristi Boulware today to talk a bit about Torquere Press, where it’s been and where it’s going to meet your LGBT reading needs for the future. As a special thank you, Kristi is also offering the chance for one lucky reader to win either an e-book of choice from their extensive backlist, or a gift certificate good toward a future purchase.

THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED

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TNA: Hi, Kristi, welcome to The Novel Approach, it’s great to have you hear with us today. Why don’t we start by having you tell us a little bit about yourself, how you became involved with Torquere, and where, when, how Torquere came into being?

Kristi: Hi y’all! It’s great to be here spending some time chatting. A little about me…Well I’m a Texan through and through, have two beautiful kids, work with a dog rescue and have a degree in business management/marketing. About 5 years ago, Shawn & Lorna had me come on board with Torquere as the General Manager and doing marketing. Torquere was started in 2003 when a core group of authors were tired of not having anyone interested in publishing GLBT romance on ebook.

TNA: How has the press changed over the years, and where do you see it going moving forward?

Kristi: Torquere originally started with a core group of 5 authors. It has grown to over 200 authors and over 2000 titles in publication. They also branched out with Prizm Books for Young Adult and New Adult stories. Moving forward Torquere will continue to grow and thrive, allowing for many more categories in our releases.

TNA: What is your submission process, and will that be changing at all under the new ownership? Is there a certain sub-genre you hope to branch out into that you’ve never focused on before?

Kristi: You can find our submission information at Torquere Press Submissions. We ask that all submissions are complete manuscripts. We have several year round calls as well as monthly anthology calls available. We are currently branching into mysteries as well as transgender categories.

TNA: What’s your marketing plan as you move Torquere into the next generation of ownership? Will you be sticking to the current business model, or do you have plans to take things in a new direction?

Kristi: We are branching into several new marketing channels, building our social media presence as well as starting pre-order options. We are also doing blog blast tours for every book release with Will from Pride Promotions.

TNA: What advice would you give to authors who’ve never submitted a manuscript to Torquere before?

Kristi: Don’t be afraid to submit to us or any publisher. When you submit to a publisher and they say no, then take the recommendations given and move forward from there. Never give up!

TNA: Tell us where you can be reached and where authors and readers can find all the news about Torquere on the internet.

Kristi: At Torquere Press, Torquere Books, and we are also on Twitter @torquere and Facebook/Torquere Press.

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Giveaways, JCP Books, Jordan Castillo Price

Release Day Interview and Giveaway: Mnevermind 3: Life Is Awesome by Jordan Castillo Price

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Okay, readers, are you ready for a little release day Q&A and a giveaway from Jordan Castillo Price? This is an audience participation guest post, so enjoy Jordan’s interview, then be sure to check out the questions we came up with for you. Your comments to any, or all, of the questions will put you in the running for your choice of e-book in the Mnevermind trilogy: The Persistence of Memory, Forget Me Not or Life is Awesome.

THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED

And now, here’s Jordan.

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JCP: Hi Lisa, I’m super excited you’re having me come talk about the Mnevermind series today. It’s always such a pleasure to do an interview with you!!!

TNA: It’s always a pleasure to have you join us for a visit, Jordan. Thanks for taking the time to be here! So, let’s get down to business:

Q: I’m going to ask this first question with readers who haven’t read the Mnevermind series yet in mind. How would you describe these books to them, and what makes them unique compared to some of your other work?

A: In this series, the characters own a business where they implant quick-fade recreational memories in their customers. The series slogan is “Making memories…one client at a time.” Yet as techy and Sci-Fi-ish as the concept behind Mnvermind sounds, it’s one of my most intimate, relatable and domestic series. It’s about people dealing with families, friends and work, and how they deal with it when something goes wrong. I think this intimacy of plot sets it apart from most other speculative fiction. It’s not about big, overarching evils or conspiracies, and no one’s out to change anything other than their own little corner of the universe. This downsized approach takes a plot element that could seem implausible and makes it feel entirely real.

Q: Where did the idea for this series come from?

A: I’m a pretty visual thinker. I had a mental image of these rows and rows of comatose bodies, and the story happening to the one guy who was actually awake, taking care of the crappy warehouse where the bodies were stored, while the comatose people mentally vacationed in Hawaii, the moon, or wherever.  But then I realized I didn’t want it to be too much of a medical thriller, or too much like The Matrix, and I reimagined the memory science of mnemography as being something more like tattooing or electrolysis. Something where you’d need qualifications to perform it, but not an entire medical degree. And I think that decision kept the whole story more working-class, which is one of its big strengths.

Q: What were the fun and frustrating parts about putting this particular series together?

A: I wrestle with writing being frustrating, because it seems to me that it shouldn’t be. And if it is, that’s all in my head. I’ll have to let you know if I ever find the answer to that one! That solution might sound something like one hand clapping, though.

The fun was in writing the implanted memories themselves, the mnems. I went into a real flow state whenever a mnem came up, and those are my favorite parts of the story to revisit.

Q: Is plotting and writing a book a little bit like memorysmithing? If so, would you then suppose that for us, the readers, reading is a little bit like mneming, only we’re not participating in our own fantasy but someone else’s?

A: Wow. You just blew my mind. I think reading is a HELL of a lot like mneming, because you’d be surprised at how much the reader’s thoughts, ideas, hopes or notions color their experience of a book, often causing them to read stuff that was never written and recall story elements that never happened. I’ve read reviews of stories that said, “I loved it when this character did X.” And it never happened in the plot. But the reader fully experienced it so plausibly that it was their favorite part of the book. Memorysmithing must indeed be a thinly veiled symbol for authorship.

Q: Let’s talk a bit about Daniel Schroeder and Elijah Crowe, your MCs. For readers who aren’t aware, Elijah is on the autism spectrum. Tell us a bit about some of the challenges you faced in writing a character like Elijah?

A: I think what was most difficult was making sure I wasn’t being exploitive in the way I presented Elijah, but also in making him a fully rounded person and not just a walking bundle of affectations. I studied films, books and blogs for months to get me into a state of mind that felt like Elijah to me. Luckily many people with Asperger’s or autism are eager to share their experiences, so I had lots of reference available. Several people on the spectrum (or people with friends and family on the spectrum) wrote to let me know they finally felt like they’d been represented. What a good feeling.

Q: Were you afraid at any point, especially in Forget Me Not (book two told from Elijah’s point of view), that he might be an unrelatable character? How did you strive to make him someone we could and would embrace?

A: I knew from reaction to The Persistence of Memory that Elijah actually wasn’t initially very relatable to readers, which must have influenced my decision to tell the second book from his POV. I felt like it would be impossible to really know him from anywhere but inside his own head. I would say the first chapter of Elijah’s book was a risk, since I showed him deliberately obtuse and rambling about a piece of string cheese, then at the very end of the chapter I pulled all the heartwrench-strings and showed that he wasn’t rambling on about cheese after all, but divorce and loneliness and self-discovery, the difficulty of relating to other people. I figured most folks would stick with me for the duration of a chapter. Once the understanding that I was going to be approaching things sideways was established, I felt readers would stick with Elijah for the remainder of the book. I had a suspicion they’d find him endearing, and they did. He was such an underdog that it was hard not to root for him.

Q: This could be either the simplest or the hardest question of the bunch so far: why do Daniel and Elijah work as a couple?

A: It’s simple to me! Elijah is smitten with Daniel because they’re interested in the same things (which is profoundly important to him), and because Daniel treats him with respect. And chest hair. He has a thing for chest hair. Daniel is a little more complicated. I refer to several interactions with his last boyfriend Joe because there’s such a contrast in the way Daniel and Joe related compared to the way Daniel relates to Elijah. We haven’t really talked about the key tragedy that’s driving the whole series, and I’d prefer to be vague for anyone who hasn’t yet read it.  But before that incident, Daniel was an entirely different person, a confident hotshot with the whole world as his oyster. But when Elijah meets him, he’s broken. Elijah allows Daniel to experience a relationship as the new person he’s become, someone who’s nurturing and thoughtful and patient. Daniel doesn’t even realize he’s being patient, because throughout the story he’s the one who ends up losing his cool and shooting off his mouth when he doesn’t mean to. But when he’s alone with Elijah he is wonderfully patient, empathetic and tender.

Q: There are some really funny moments in these books, a lot of them coming as a result of Elijah taking things literally or missing cues or him just being socially unaware. What are a few things that, when you wrote them, made you laugh?

A: I got a big kick out of it whenever Elijah should have been using his “inside voice” to say something really personal to Daniel, but instead he just belted it out. I don’t think he has an “inside voice.” But honestly, a lot of the other things that might read as funny, I actually found mortifying. It’s really hard to type when you’re cringing. I could barely stand to detail what Elijah wore to Aunt Pipsie’s party, for instance. Luckily he didn’t notice anything odd, so maybe some readers kind of glossed over that part. That’s what I tell myself to get the words out.

Daniel’s buddy Larry is always good for a laugh, since he’s such a big, happy doofus, and he would laugh right along with you.  He’s like the pressure valve on the series.

Q: Now that the final book in the series, Life Is Awesome, has been written, can you say that at any point before you typed those final words you were tempted to have Daniel try to memorysmith a “cure” for his dad, Big Dan, and/or Elijah? Why or why not, or would that even be a possibility?

A: A book I’m reading states my reasoning elegantly. “A classic writing technique is to play on people’s expectations and then surprise them.” (Motivate Your Writing, Stephen P. Kelner Jr.)

That story resolution was on my mind, definitely, but not like I thought it would be a great ending. It was the desirable goal I was dangling in front of Daniel. It was the plot that I was hoping the reader would presume was there. Daniel screwed up and has lost his confidence, Daniel regains his confidence thanks to Elijah and then fixes his screwup.  That’s what I’d want the reader to think is happening. Then they get to peel the onion and see that the issues all run way deeper, and there are pieces to the puzzle that Daniel has been missing all along. There are a couple of ways that he grows, and one is to realize that being vulnerable and being weak aren’t the same thing. It’s not weak to accept help, it’s courageous. And really, everything is NOT on him.

Q: Was it difficult to type The End on this series, any more so than your others? What will you miss most about Daniel and Elijah?

A: I don’t think so, because each book took twice as long to write as I guesstimated it should for its length. I would think I understood what was happening, realize something didn’t quite match up, delete multi-chapter hunks and sink back into planning mode. Over and over. It’s actually kind of harrowing. I get antsy to share the story with readers so I get to a “finish, already!!” point. I was eager to resolve the trilogy plot, because I felt like readers were really hungry for resolution, and I was worried that I was doing the series a disservice by taking the time it took to write it. Series are hard. If you resolve the conflicts in a book, then the next book is going to feel like a contrived afterthought. And if you leave a major plot point unresolved to tackle it across the arc of the whole series, readers seem dissatisfied with each individual story. If there’s a good balance for this, I don’t think I’m a natural at striking it.

Q: Would you like to share some info on any of your current WIPs or upcoming releases with us?

A: Recently I was given the opportunity to showcase Among the Living in an Urban Fantasy box set called Psychic Storm. It was a big thrill being the only m/m writer in the bunch. I’m hoping it puts my series in front of lots of fresh eyes!

Right now as a palate cleanser, I’m working on a standalone short story. I’m also mentally preparing to tackle the next PsyCop book, which will be Crash’s novel. Meanwhile, I’m working with the funny, smart, sexy and stunningly talented voice actor Gomez Pugh in producing more audiobooks. Secrets should be coming out anytime now, and we’ve got plans to start another series. I can’t wait to hear it.

Thanks so much for having me at TNA on Life is Awesome’s release day!

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Dear Readers, here are some things for you to ponder:

Q: If the technology existed to craft and control an artificial dream-state where you could do anything or be anyone you wanted, would you do it?

Q: Do you foresee a future where that technology could/might exist? Why or why not?

Q: If you’ve read the first two books in the Mnevermind series already, what would you say to your friends who haven’t read them yet to try and convince them to read the series?

Have fun! I look forward to sharing your answers with Jordan! :)

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A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week, Giveaways

Here’s A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Sneak PeekCheers, everyone, and welcome back for a wee peek at all the fun and fantastic guests we have in store for you in the coming week. Articles, interviews, release day celebrations and giveaways galore will accompany another week of reviews here at The Novel Approach, and we can’t wait to share it all with you.

Here’s what’s on tap!

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MondaySkylar M. Cates kicks off the week on the Here for You blog tour

Cardeno C. joins us today as well, on the Home Series blog tour

TuesdayJordan Castillo Price is here today to celebrate the release of the third and final book in the Mnevermind trilogy, Life is Awesome, with an interview

Wednesday – Today, Silvia Violet stops by on the Burning Up blog tour

ThursdaySusan Mac Nicol joins us on the Sight and Sinner blog tour

FridayMia Kerick drops by today on the Inclination blog tour

We’ll also have author JT Cheyenne with us on the Ansleigh’s Grotto blog tour

SaturdayRJ Scott is our guest today with an interview on the Max and the Prince blog tour

Sunday – And finally, to close out a busy week, we have author Eli Easton with us on the Howl at the Moon blog tour

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

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Chase Potter, Self-Published

Interview: Welcome Chase Potter, Author of Remember My Name

Remember My Name

I’m so pleased to have Chase Potter with us today to talk a little bit about his new book Remember My Name. To give you an idea of how quickly this came together, I invited him to come visit with us on Monday, whipped up a few quick questions, and he had the answers back to me by Wednesday. That’s what you call the perfect storm of organization, and I’m happy to be able to share this with all of you.

Enjoy! :)

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Q: Chase, Remember My Name is your second novel (after The Race for Second)—has it gotten any easier, or are the nerves just as bad the second time around with this release? What’s the best and worst part of these early days following the release of a book?

A: The thing about writing is that it’s a profoundly personal process, but all that changes when it’s released. With my first book, I didn’t know what to expect at all, so I had no room for disappointment. With Remember My Name, I had some specific goals in mind and I really tried to create something that matched my original vision. And yeah, I’m pretty nervous about how it will be received.

Best part? Knowing that I’m done and it’s out there. Worst part? Waiting for those first reviews.

Q: Was the experience of writing this book much different than The Race for Second? In what ways was it better, the same, or worse?

A: Like another kind of “first,” writing my first book was a clumsy process. I didn’t know what went where or whether I was ever going to finish, and when I was finally did, I was a little shy and embarrassed about what I’d just done. Kidding aside, the first draft ofRemember My Name was much easier to write, but I’m also still learning a lot. Which is why I put it down for three months and then rebuilt the whole thing. That process sucked, but it’s a much stronger novel for it.

Q: You dedicated this book to your brother. If it’s not too personal a question to ask, what was the instrumental factor in your dedicating Remember My Name to him?

A: At its heart, Remember My Name is about the relationship between two brothers – about the connection they have, and about the distance between them. My own brother and I have a good relationship, even though we live 300 miles apart. We accept our differences unconditionally, and we respect and admire each other, and we laugh at our own jokes that no one else gets… but I still wish we were closer. The novel isn’t just dedicated to him – its inspiration came from my desire for us to be closer than we are. The tough part is that I still haven’t found a way to tell him that.

Q: We can all read the blurb and get a bit of an understanding of what the book is about, but tell us some of the things you love about Remember My Name that you think we, the readers, will love about it too.

A: Without giving spoilers, it’s hard to say specifically what I think readers will love about it. Readers will always take different things from a novel, but going into this project, I wanted to make sure that it had a lot to love. Personally, I wanted to create characters and a setting that felt so real that readers would miss them when they put the book down. I think I did a good job with that, and that’s one of the aspects I love the most.

Q: The cover of the book is lovely. How much of a part did you play in its design, and who’s your cover artist?

A: Thanks! I have to admit that I have an independent streak that tends to shine through in the projects I take on, and that I like to do as much as I can on my own before asking for help. Keeping with tradition, I designed and created the cover myself with a few stock images and too many hours in Photoshop. In particular, I’m really proud of how the paperback version turned out.

Q: Would you like to share an excerpt from the book with us?

A: Sure! I have a lot of favorite parts in the book, and this is one of them:

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24863329Blurb: Every action can have devastating consequences. For Jackson Roanoke, the greatest consequence of his parents’ divorce was watching his mother drive away with his twin brother Ben, putting thousands of miles between them.

Eight years later and with college looming, Jackson is tasked with reroofing his father’s house. After a tempting offer of help from a young man, Jackson finds himself caught up in a growing attraction he’s hesitant to embrace. But when his brother Ben reappears at the front door, Jackson is confronted by more than he’s prepared for.

Brought together by circumstance, the estranged brothers are forced to navigate a relationship that persists only in their memories. Marked by the heat of a Midwest summer and rolling wheat fields, the short months are punctuated by scattered moments of closeness between the two brothers, hinting at the possibility of rekindling the connection they once shared.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

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Excerpt: Hours have passed when I hear a creak in the hallway and the soft protest of the door’s hinges. As Jackson’s darkened shape moves toward the bed, I roll over. He jumps backward, exploding with a whispered exclamation. “Holy mother of hell!” His breath reeks like booze. He must have had more after I left him. But where?With Matt?

“Sorry,” I mumble. “I just wanted to know that you were home safe. I didn’t mean to scare you.”

“Well, you did.” He moves back toward me. “Scoot over if you’re gonna stay,” he says, his words running together.

“You’re not kicking me out?” I ask, untangling myself from the blankets and making room for him. His only answer is the rustle of fabric and denim as he strips down to his underwear before climbing into bed beside me. Now that he’s under the covers, I can smell the alcohol even stronger.

“How did you get home?”

“Matt,” he says.

“What were you guys doing?”

“Had a few drinks in his truck.”

I’m wide-awake now. “Of what exactly? You smell like a distillery.”

He tries to laugh but interrupts himself with a burp. “I dunno… vodka I think.”

Tension flares in my chest. “He drove you home after that?”

“Yeah. We didn’t fool around or anything, so don’t act so grossed out. Jesus, Ben…” his voice trails.

“I don’t care about that, dumb ass. He drove you home drunk?”

Jackson doesn’t answer me at first. When he speaks, his words are barely more than a whisper. “Why are you always mad at me?”

“I’m not mad at you,” I say, keeping my own voice soft. It’s easy to do, because what I’m saying is true. The one I’m mad at is Matt. If Jackson’s level of intoxication is any indication, Matt should definitely not have been driving at all, much less endangering my brother while doing it. But if I go off about that, Jackson will just freak out on me.

Instead, I apologize. “I’m sorry you got outed tonight.”

First a pause, then he sighs but still doesn’t respond.

“What’s going to happen now?” I ask.

His voice is heavy in the darkness. “I don’t know.”

“At least you’re graduated and about to get out of this town.”

“Yeah.”

I’m tired, but I don’t want tonight to end with those words. My teeth nibble on my lip. “I was worried about you,” I admit.

He shifts beneath the covers, then pushes himself up to a sitting position and turns on the bedside lamp. Squinting in the sudden illumination, I sit up so I’m leaning against the headboard beside him. What does he want?

As if in response to my unspoken question, he reaches over and runs a hand through my hair just like he always does with his own. It happens so abruptly and unexpectedly that when the moment is over, I think I may have just imagined it.

Jackson looks at me, and I look back. His face has a crooked grin that I recognize as alcohol induced. Seeing him like this makes me want to grab a hold of him and never let him go.

It’s possible that I’m channeling the same chord of spontaneity and lack of restraint that he just acted on, or maybe I’m just doing what I want to. Stretching out my hand toward his face, I let the tips of my middle and index fingers lightly touch his cheek. He doesn’t flinch or pull away, instead letting his bright eyes – somewhat dimmed by the alcohol but nevertheless brilliant blue – continue to hold me captive.

He lets me simply touch him as I run my fingers across the freckles at the tops of his cheeks. I love them, and I have no idea why. Jackson and I had something special once, and at its heart was our sameness. So it doesn’t make sense that the thing I appreciate most about him is one of our few differences.

Maybe it’s because physically, it’s the only thing that I can love about him that is him and only him. If I admire his biceps or his hair or his eyes, I’m inadvertently complimenting myself at the same time. But those light brown spots just below his eyes, those are Jackson’s alone.

Dropping my hand, I try to interpret his expression. Part of it is wistful, but its composition includes a darker aspect, too. He clicks off the light and slides down until his head rests on the pillow.

Now that Jackson is home, the exhaustion from the day finally settles over me, dragging my eyes closed. With the steady breathing of my brother beside me, I quickly slip toward a peaceful sleep. My last thought before disappearing into unconsciousness is how at home I feel.

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Q: Do you have any current WIPs you’re working on that you’d like to tell us about, and when we might expect them to be released?

A: I’m not actually writing anything presently, although I do have the sequel storyboarded, and I’ll be starting on that soon. It can be tricky to find time while working a full time job (as many of us know!), but I’m hoping to have it finished by this fall.

Q: Chase, thanks so much for taking the time to be here with us. Will you tell readers where we can find you on the internet?

A: They can find me on my personal Facebook page or on Twitter at @ChasePotterBks. They can also stop by my website at www.chasepotter.com.

 

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Carole Cummings, DSP Publications, DSPP's Genre Talk, Yeyu

Guest Post: Genre Talk With Carole Cummings and DSPP Author Yeyu

DSP Publications

Hello and happy Humpday, everyone! I’m here today with DSP Publications author Yeyu to talk about her new release The Relics of the Gods (Between Heaven and Earth Book 1) and something I bet you haven’t thought about before—Chinese Historical Fantasy.

I know, right? You’re all in for a pretty awesome glimpse into Chinese history and literature. So buckle up, because I think you’re going to be as fascinated as I was.

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o-the-relics-of-godBlurb: What is worse: Being so broke you can barely afford food, getting hired for dangerous missions way out of your league, suffocating under mountains of unanswered questions—or wanting to sexually dominate someone who can kill you without lifting a finger?

Lu Delong is a mercenary who evaluates antiques most of the time and deals with the paranormal on rare occasions—even though it’s supposed to be the other way around. When he joins a dangerous quest for an ancient artifact, he meets and becomes strongly attracted to a mysterious and powerful immortal named Cangji. Despite his friends’ warnings and Cangji’s icy, unsociable demeanor, Delong is unable to resist befriending him. However, Cangji is deeply involved in a matter beyond mortals, and Delong is drawn into a chaotic struggle by both visible and invisible forces.

Always the pacifist who wanted to live a simple human life, Delong never imagined he’d end up involved in a conflict that will affect everything from the lowest insects on earth to the highest gods in heaven.

Buy links etc. can be found at the end of the post, so let’s get right to it.

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Carole: Thanks for being with us today, Yeyu. I’m a huge Fantasy geek, so I was excited to see your novel The Relics of the Gods (Between Heaven and Earth Book 1) released. For those who don’t have much experience with the Fantasy side of literature, explain to us what your genre is all about.

Yeyu: The genre I’m writing in is fantasy, but rather than being a Western fantasy, what I’m writing is more akin to (modern) Chinese historical fantasy.

Granted, the amount of research I’d have to spend on Western historical fantasy would probably be about the same as what I’d spend on a Chinese historical fantasy, and I may even have a less painful time for a Western historical, since most of the materials I used for my research are in classical Chinese and trying to read those gives me massive headaches. However, I’ve always been quite fascinated by the Chinese fantasy genre.

Being raised under Chinese values and culture, I grew up watching cartoons and reading comics of the classic Journey to the West alongside Disney. While I can’t claim to know/remember every detail of how the story went in Journey to the West, it nevertheless left a deep impression on me.I remember that I used to watch the cartoon about the Baigujing (white bone spirit) over and over again, and even though it has been a long time already, I still vividly remember how the story went. Several famous scenes such as the one involving the white bone spirit are pretty much as familiar to the average native Chinese-speaker as the classic Disney cartoons are to the current generation. Everyone remembers there are powerful magical tools, immortals/gods, Chinese alchemy, monsters, mythology, etc. As such, Journey to the West has a sizable influence on Chinese culture. It has been played time after time for entertainment purposes ever since it was writtenin the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), and it is also the shining example of the Chinese fantasy genre better known as shenmo(神魔)fiction, or literally, gods & demons fiction.

Of course,Journey to the Westdrew on earlier classics such asIn Search of the Supernatural (compiled 350 CE), which traces its influences all the way back to a book that pretty much shaped all East Asian folklore, The Classic of Mountains and Seas (written 4th century BCE, the Nine-Tailed Fox being the most famous folklore). Needless to say, I have not read those classics because I lack the Chinese proficiency to understand the cryptic words without banging my head against the wall in frustration. However, much of my research is based on the accumulated folklore/mythology recorded in those ancient texts.

So how does modern Chinese fantasy differ from classical fantasy? Well,in the 1930s, Chinese fantasy eventually transformed into what is commonly called “xianxia”(仙俠) fiction, which literally translates to “immortals & heroes” fiction, which somewhat combines the shenmogenre with the somewhat better-known wuxia genre (think “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” for wuxia). Immortals & heroes fiction, despite having elements of magic and the supernatural, usually focuses on the process of understanding “Dao”as characters journey and experience the secular society. Gods are referenced, and the outcome of events are already predetermined by fate so some immortal/highly trained people can see the predestined future. However, gods or even the notion of becoming immortal bear little importance to the general plot. Instead, much of the story’s focus is “heroism”, so it is more similar to its less fantastical counterpart.

With the rise of online serial fiction in recent years, however, a new genre emerged from the immortals & heroes genre—xiuzhenfiction (修真), which literally translates to “training to become immortal” fiction. Unlike traditional immortals & heroes fiction, xiuzhenfiction approaches fantasy in a manner that is more similar to the gods & demons fiction mentioned before, where gods are frequently mentioned and also play an integral role to the plot.The main focus of the story, as the genre name implies, is to become so powerful the main character eventually attains immortality (as opposed to performing acts of heroism). As such, there is almost always a systematic “level-up” system which has its roots in Daoist internal alchemy. As the setting is not limited to historical China,xiuzhen fiction is pretty much the biggest and most popular fantasy genre in the Chinese community, with several subgenres of its own (note that the highly popular wuxia genre is not thought of as “fantasy” in the community. Instead, it is considered supernatural fiction, and it is an independent genre by itself”).

The story I’m writing is in the mythological subgenre of xiuzhenfiction, which, in my opinion, is a pretty good representation of Chinese culture. I enjoy reading stories and playing games with that setting, and as mentioned several times elsewhere before, I also happen to have a grand vision to share my culture with anyone who is interested in seeing what it’s about. So, when I was almost finished writing my Chinese historical Erasing Shame, I thought: why not write a Chinese (Daoist)fantasy after this? At the moment it didn’t seem there were many English ones available. And thus, I ended up writing this genre, not only to share my culture with non-Chinese readers, but also provide a story that is familiar to ethnic Chinese who can’t read Chinese.

Carole: Wow. So with all that going on, why M/M?

Yeyu: I’ve been a fan of BL since I was 10 years old or something. I am now 24 years old and still an avid fan. I don’t know why either, haha. I just don’t feel that same kind of excitement with M/F fics.

Carole: Many would agree, Yeyu. That’s why we’re all here! ;) Okay, so, let’s move on to The Relics of the Gods. How is this book different from a lot of Western fantasies?

Yeyu: The Relics of Gods is about an average-ish half-human and half-deer mercenary’s quest to woo a powerful immortal. Unlike most fantasy stories, the story’s main character is not really on a quest to save the world. He’s not anangsty or angry anti-hero, per se, but I think readers who finish the book will know what I mean.

Also, as the synopsis implies, the main character prefers being dominant in bed and the love interest is the “bottom”—there will be no switching. This is not a BDSM book and the sex they have probably doesn’t even count as D/s, and there is no D/s dynamic outside of bed (in my opinion, anyway). So, despite writing BL, which means my story does adhere to some “yaoi” tropes, I have a feeling traditional yaoi lovers who embrace the fragile but beautiful uke & tough and alpha seme trope will not really enjoy my story, just as I don’t enjoy reading mainstream dynamics. The main character is also nowhere near being an alpha dude, so I suppose a lot of mainstream M/M readers will not enjoy the story as much.

Carole: The Relics of the Gods (Between Heaven and Earth Book 1) is being published through DSP Publications, Dreamspinner Press’s imprint for non-romance genre novels. Tell us about the relationship in The Relics of the Gods and why it doesn’t fit the accepted definition of Romance in the M/M genre.

Yeyu: Although romance drives my story, there isn’t a lot of “romance” in the book. In fact, the love interest spends a lot of time off-page because I wrote the story entirely from the main character’s point of view. One of my readers even told me she would enjoy the story even without the romantic element, so I’m assuming she didn’t see a whole lot of romance in the story. While that perplexed me, since personally I think the story is by far the mushiest and fluffiest tale I’ve written, I suppose other romance readers probably also won’t find my book a “romance” book. I can easily imagine them criticizing the story for containing few scenes of emotional connection or interaction between the MC and LI. They are right, but that means they probably aren’t my target audience.

If I had to put my finger down on it, my book is kind of like those chivalric romances—it is“romance”. Just not quite a book of the romance genre, in a modern sense. Instead, it is more of a genre fiction with action & adventure. As such, I think DSP Publications is a perfect imprint for my story. People will want to pick my book up because they know romance is secondary to the plot, and they would hopefully have a more pleasant reading experience now that their expectations are in the correct place. I’d hate to let any reader waste their time and money on a novel they don’t enjoy.

Carole: So, what do you think, say Amazon would recommend alongside your book? “If you liked ________, you love The Relics of the Gods.”

Yeyu: I don’t have any examples of books in the genre I write, since I don’t think there are any English fictions specifically in my genre (I haven’t looked hard, though.) I suppose the closest story that is also available in English is The Journey to the West, but as I’ve said earlier, xiuzhen fiction is quite different.

Carole: Good point. It’s tough to be original! :) All right, so tell us about the evolution of this story. What was its earliest incarnation as a concept, and when did it begin to take the form of The Relics of the Gods?

Yeyu: Other than wanting to share Chinese culture, I wanted to write a dynamic I wanted to read. This is because my tastes in M/M dynamics are very, very niche. Like almost impossible to find niche. Where most people expect BL (and its more notorious counterpart “yaoi”) to have that emotional, lovesick and often dude-in-distress uke and cool, powerful seme, my tastes are what you would call “reverse mainstream”. Thus, while mainstream fiction often has a powerful and gorgeous top sexually dominating a weaker, normal-ish guy, I wanted to imagine a normal-ish guy dominating a super powerful and gorgeous bottom. I wanted D/s-y dynamics in bed, but with non-traditional tops and bottoms.

I also wanted to strictly read from the top’s POV.

As you can predict, I had difficulty finding such stories. I can sometimes find similar tropes in Chinese BL, but those are few and far between, not to mention the plot or writing won’t necessarily be to my taste.So, I ended up writing such a dynamic myself.

Moreover, before I wrote the book, I was pretty influenced by Nanpai Shanshu’s The Grave Robbers’ Chronicles as well, so I started off wanting to write something semi-similar as it is another genre in Chinese fiction I really enjoyed. (For those who know what that fic is about, yes there is a strong similarity between two important characters that spawned many fanfictions, but I always liked those character tropes in pairings and always ship pairings like that in fandom—it was the reason I picked that book up in the first place, to read it as a BL story….)

Carole: Ah, “I write what I like to read”, the anthem of so many authors. Is this why you felt this story needed to be told with the M/M dynamic?

Yeyu: There is no particular reason. My story is M/M for the same reason most genre fiction is M/F…which is no reason at all, except I felt like it because that’s what I like to read. I write what I want to read.

Homosexuality is not an issue in my fiction because it was actually pretty common in the Ming Dynasty, which is the time period my story is set in. So many government officials and rich nobles played with men and even some emperors did, too—no one in their right mind during that era would truly outlaw homosexuality. If there was any law trying to curb gay sex during that time, it did not work. Gay sex was apparently so rampant during the Ming Dynasty it disgusted Western visitors.

Of course, gay relationships were usually in a heteronormative sense where one guy had to be the “woman” and would be somewhat looked down on by the society thanks to widespread misogyny, but in general, same sex relationships were not taboo as long as it did not interfere with marrying and having children. Furthermore, the Confucian value of filial piety to the parents is usually ignored in Chinese fantasy fiction, as many fantasy main characters are orphans and all will leave their family behind to train, so there are no filial piety issues. Not to mention, Chinese fantasies are often Daoist/Buddhist and not necessarily Confucian-influenced. Altogether, there is no real obstacle to M/M in Chinese fantasy.

In fact, there would actually be slightly more obstacle in writing a M/F romance if I wanted to be strict in terms of how the historical society functioned (which few modern Chinese authors take into consideration), since most “cultured” Han Chinese women during the Ming Dynasty stayed home with those horrid bound feet and all. As such,the woman in a straight couple would likely face more criticism than a gay couple would, since no one would know the two dudes are gay. Even if they knew, as I’ve mentioned, it’s not that big of a deal. Sure, some scholars may be disgusted or some idiots would mock feminine men, but that’s about it.

Carole: Okay, we’re wrapping up here, but before we go—give us the answer to a IAQ (Infrequently Asked Question™) about this book that no one will probably ever ask you about, but you think is pretty cool.

Yeyu: I mentioned Duanwu/Dragon Boat festival in the story and it was really minor. However, I’d like to mention that there are actually two versions of the historical origin of the festival and how the dragon boat racing came to be (both related to a deceased official—the more widely known official to be Qu Yuan, and the other to be Wu Zixu). What’s more, some modern scholars suspect that the original reason people engaged in dragon boat racing was actually not related to any deceased official, but rather it was a practice from prehistoric times when people still worshipped dragons. The theory was the Han Chinese government wanted to exert Confucian values and came up with origin stories to link the dragon boat racing to actual history as opposed to mythology.

Carole: Wow, Yeyu, that was as fascinating as I thought it would be. Thank you for taking time with us today, and thank you to Lisa and the TNA gang for having us. A preview of The Relics of the Gods (Between Heaven and Earth Book 1) is available on Amazon.

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Author BioAbout the Author: Yeyu wrote her first story when she was 7, and she has been creating stories on-and-off ever since, be it writing fanfiction or drawing original manga. She finally ventured into writing original fiction in high school, and stuck with the form.

Most of Yeyu’s childhood was spent overseas, but she is currently living in a small East Asian island most commonly known as Taiwan, where she was born.

When Yeyu isn’t writing in her spare time, she is probably reading, gaming, or sleeping. No cats, sadly.

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Order The Relics of the Gods (Between Heaven and Earth Book 1) now in ebook and paperback HERE and HERE.

Follow Yeyu on her website and on Twitter.

Next time on Genre Talk, Andrea Speed talks Paranormal!

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Mercy Celeste, Self-Published

Author to Author: An Interview With Mercy Celeste

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Every so often in this crazy blogger world, things go askew. Release dates change, real life issues come up; whatever the reason may be, a reschedule leaves an author guest spot empty on my calendar. At which point, I go on the hunt for someone to fill that vacancy–or, in this case, I whine about it to Rhys Ford and she pulls my backside out of the fire.

Now, to hear Mercy tell it, Rhys didn’t give her much choice about doing this interview. I think the word bullied may have come up, but don’t quote me on it. :-D Rhys calls it maneuvering… potato, po-tah-to… However it went down, I’m lucky enough to be bringing you Rhys Ford’s interview with Mercy Celeste. Go ahead and enjoy every last thing about this, from the interview to the exclusive excerpt from Light from the Dark.

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Q: What inspired you to write your first book?

A: Extreme boredom. I’d always wanted to write but never could pin down the actually how or where or whatever of actually sitting and putting ideas on paper. The when happened when I had three small children, one in Kindergarten and two in diapers. I’d read everything in my personal library, half of my husband’s personal library, and had systematically gone through everything of interest in the small local city library branch. We didn’t have cable. We had three or four tv stations and Barney or Blue’s Clues were the programming of choice at the time.

I was bored out of my freaking mind. Husband worked 70 hours a week. I was alone with three little kids and tearing my hair out.

The first book I wrote was about a woman with a whole bunch of kids whose husband ran a pizza place and was killed in a robbery. (I take the 5th on any resemblance to real life) She was a trained chef who was hired to be the live in cook and house keeper for a country music superstar named Gavin, by the man’s wife. The wife who was killed in a car accident not long after, leaving the long suffering heroine to deal with her kids, his kids, and a drunk country star on the verge of career suicide and well possible real life suicide.

I wrote it long hand (because this was 1997 and computers were incredibly expensive and I didn’t know what to do with one anyway) on five legal tablets and two spiral bound note books in pencil. I typed it on a typewriter and the only copy of that book is buried in a Rubbermaid storage bin, never to see the light of day.

I’m not going to say it’s bad. I’m not going to pull it out and look at it again…because yeah, it’s bad. But I did it. I wrote a story from beginning to end. I was proud of me. I think two people have ever read it. And that’s two too many.

10928572_749902521745436_671226943_nQ: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

A: I blame C. Thomas Howell. And Patrick Swayze.And Tiger Beat magazine.And SE Hinton. And a 9th grade teacher who still passed out those Scholastic book order forms.

I bought The Outsiders with the movie tie in cover. Devoured it while skipping Algebra. And decided, this, I want to do this. The author was only a couple years older than I was then when she wrote the book. I had all these stories in my head. I could do this. I could. It took me thirteen more years to get to that point up there in the first question.

Q: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

A: Writing! Staying sane! Not killing people!

Q: How do you feel the genre has changed, if it has, from when you first started writing until now? What is different or better?

A: Romance in general? Or MM romance in particular?

Tough question. I think the romance I read and loved and wished to emulate in the 90s, when I wrote the first book, is largely unchanged. Many of the authors are the same. The tropes are the same. I stopped reading certain genres as I started reading the same book over and over again. From paranormal, to historical, to contemporary, back and forth. Sometimes I felt like I’d put it on pause and could start back in the middle and not miss a thing. I can pick up a book written this year and except for technology and pop culture, it’s the same exact stories. Nothing new.

In MM, and I admit I’m not widely read in the genre, I found a few authors who put out consistent enough work to keep my interest but varied enough that I don’t feel like I’m reading the same books over and over. But MM is still very new and it sometimes is really great, sometimes not so much. I’ve been in the community long enough now to notice that it’s not really the tropes that change in MM, but the authors. I think this is more that authors move on or give up and new authors step in to fill the void. I also think this has more to do with the lack of NY big pub involvement. We have no superstars who get preferential treatment. We’re all equal. And honestly, I like that. I like that if I don’t like big name author X or Y then there’s mid-list author P or Q or new author L or J….keeps things fresh. Keeps the tropes fresh.Keeps us growing and not stagnating at status quo.

10917575_749902418412113_203419833_nQ: Who is your favourite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

A: I’m not sure I have a favorite author. Or really even a favorite book. I have authors that I love. But I can’t really pick one absolute favorite. Depends on what I’m in the mood for. Childhood books would rank higher than adult books. Probably because I had so very few books. So beginning of time all-time read to death favorite book ***** The Old Black Witch by Harry and Wende Devlin. It was about a mother and son who bought an old house to turn into a bed and breakfast, but there was already a resident.
I loved the art and the ending. I still have my hand-me-down from my cousin’s copy, it’s been taped back together and is missing the last few pages. I’ve been on the lookout for a complete copy for years, but ebay prices are ridiculous, so I’m guessing it was a lot of people’s favorite. I think I had that thing memorized by age four.

Q: Do you have a specific writing style? What do you like / dislike about how you write?

A: Hell, I don’t know. Do I? I don’t really understand “style”. I’ve never studied creative writing or anything beyond basic high school English classes. Of which I did not fail…I know, I was surprised as well. I’m a seat of my pants sling words on a page from beginning to end sort it all out in the rewrite type writer. I know that I tend to write in the three act style that’s fairly common in romance. But really…I think someone might want to tell me what my style is, because effe if I know.

What do I like or dislike about how I write? Besides the whole writing part? Well that not knowing how it’s going to turn out in the end thing is pretty annoying. I don’t plot. I don’t have an overall plot for any story. I have a basic idea of what I want to do. I can start the story with suggestions, but as my characters become more real, they tend to decide where we’re going. I’ve had books that veered off onto tangents I didn’t see coming and couldn’t control. I fought the story and nothing. I let the story lead and I ended up with something I’m not sure anyone ever expected. I think that right there is why so many people try to imitate me but can’t quite get it. I’ve said it so many times. I’m not a writer. I’m a storyteller. Well, really I’m just the bitch that takes dictation and has to keep up or the characters get pissy and stop talking to me.

Why no I am not insane.

No one has ever proved that…beyond a shadow of a doubt.

10847140_749902498412105_340454888_nQ: What books have most influenced your life?

A: Dragon Song by Anne McCaffrey

The whole Harper Hall trilogy but really, the first book was probably the first book to really strike a chord with me as a teen trapped in an abusive home. Much like Menolly, I struggled with a demanding, controlling parent. Ironically, it was that parent who gave me the book.

Q: What is your favourite book that you’ve written and why?

A: Oh, so you want me to play favorites with my babies? I see how it is. This is the part where I upset everyone because I didn’t pick their favorite book.

Okay so top three favorites (and an honorable mention):

Mercy Resized

Wicked Game: Because I wrote the book for NaNo and had no clue what I was doing. I created a very strong female who gave the guy a serious run for his money. I didn’t eat or sleep or bathe for a month. Okay I did, but I don’t remember it. It was book bookbook must write book for thirty days. And I did it. But I will never do NaNo again. Because I really don’t want to tap dance over that edge.

Let it Go: The challenge was to write a cowboy book without writing a cowboy book. I guess growing up in the middle of Florida cow country I was always sort of offended that people think cowboys are only out west. We raised cattle. Had horses.Wore the hats and the spurs. Not much need for chaps in Florida but I’ve seen them. I wanted to write a different take on the rodeo cowboy trope. I didn’t know I’d end up using Eli and Creed to deal with my own abuse issues. I think of all of my characters I identify most with Eli. There’s more of me in him than any of the others.

Shift in Time: My fun shifter everything but the kitchen sink paranormal. I loved writing this story. There’s no real angst. I play with a time in history, rewriting it a bit to fit my needs. Planted in the world I currently live in, and the world I left behind. And did magic, messed with some tropes. I loved that book. And yes for those asking, there will be a sequel. Eventually.

Honorable mention: Beyond Complicated…just so I can have all of my Florida set books in there…so I guess that’s the top four out of sixteen published. How many do I have published? Can’t remember.

Q: What book are you reading now?

A: At the time of this writing: Nothing. I’m working to finish writing a book and I can’t really read while I’m working. I find that I can’t focus on a story when I’m writing. I do have several books lined up to binge read when I’m finished.

Q: Do you have any advice for other writers?

A: Am I the best person to give advice? Considering all of the mistakes and missteps I’ve taken.

I guess, the one thing would be, if you want this, don’t stop. If you’re bad, get better. Learn from your mistakes. You can’t get better if you quit. I have three books in a storage bin that will never see the light of day. I was told I couldn’t or shouldn’t or to stop embarrassing myself.

If this is your dream. Just know it’s a nasty little habit that burns you from the inside out. Just know that you’re never going to get rich. Write what makes you happy. Do your best every time. Don’t quit. Be realistic. Set goals. And for effsake, study the market and protect yourself and your books.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

That I’m amazed that I have readers.Especially readers that have been with me from the first year. All the crazy, most of it came from me, and they’re still with me.

Love you. All of you.

Oh and

Bless your little hearts for following a mad woman.

Q: What are your current projects? And can you share a little of your current work with us?

A: Current WIP is almost finished. Light from the Dark. It’s not a sequel but maybe a companion piece to In from the Cold, and Crazy from the Heat. Which means law enforcement, suspense, a crazy messed up twisted ending. Rhys Ford inspired it. Sort of.

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Light From the Dark Excerpt (Unedited first draft / Chapter One)
Release Date: Feb 17, 2015

The image in the mirror wasn’t familiar. He scraped the razor carefully over the scar that puckered his jawline from just in front of his ear to his neck. Another inch and he’d have been dead. Instead of just flayed open like a fish on Friday.

Micah Beasley, formerly Marshal Micah Beasley swished the blade in the hot water and wiped the rest of the shave cream from his chin. He avoided looking at his reflection as much as possible. He had no choice when it came to shaving. He could grow a beard but the scarred area stayed hairless making him look as if he had a lightning bolt carved into his face. Or he could carefully not open old wounds and hope the mirror steamed up before he fell into that pit of despair that kept pulling at him.

He slicked back his hair and thought about getting a trim. There was no point. Not really. Just something else he didn’t have to do anymore. He didn’t have to do much of anything anymore if he thought about it long enough. Parting company with law enforcement had made him, well, not wealthy, but much better off than before the accident.

He chose to remember that day as an accident. Not as the clusterfuck it had been from the get go. A clusterfuck that had left him fighting for his life while his partner had lost his. No, that day was off limits. He leaned over the sink, eyes closed, breathing deeply to force calm into his mind. Calm. Just calm. Nothing else. Just blue skies with white clouds scudding by. A warm breeze on his face. A soft voice telling him to get his shit together.

Pity party was over. The candles melted to the top of the cake. Time to go back to work. Or go stark raving mad.

He dressed in the navy blue suit so dark it almost looked black, a powder blue oxford shirt with a thin navy tie. He looked company man to a tee. Just what that company might be, Micah didn’t have a clue.

The ride downtown was short. The driver waiting for him at the hotel didn’t speak much. He just drove. Micah looked over the notes he’d been able to jot down after the call came in. The company needed security people. And Micah’s name had come up. Micah had no idea who would have his name but right now work was work. He’d sat on his ass long enough.

The day was cold. Not bitterly cold. He could stand the wind in just his suit jacket. Cold never really bothered him. Much. The driver reminded him of the floor and said he’d be waiting to take him wherever he needed to go from there. He didn’t wish Micah luck or offer any words of advice.

Armed with only a slim portfolio and his winning smile Micah rode the elevator up to the 15th floor and stepped out into the offices of Gideon and Auberon. He wasn’t really sure what Gideon and Auberon did. He’d looked them up on the internet but found very little. Whatever it was they did, it seemed successful.

The receptionist greeted him cheerfully and pointed him in the direction of Mr. Gideon’s personal office. A second receptionist asked him to take a seat and informed him that Mr. Gideon was running a bit late but would be with him as soon as possible.

Micah didn’t like waiting. But he didn’t like being unemployed either. He scanned the offices and wondered exactly what type of security a business on the fifteenth floor would need. Besides a security guard at the elevator he couldn’t think of anything. Unless the company was up to it’s neck in sketchy dealings this wasn’t his idea of work. He’d left uniforms behind years ago. And wasn’t going back now.

The door opened behind the receptionist and a tall man stepped out. Gideon, Micah surmised when he held out his hand and flashed a set of straight white teeth any Politian would be proud of. Probably caps. Micah shook his hand.

“Mr. Beasley, thank you for coming on such short notice.” Gideon pumped his hand a couple more times, his smile growing wider, and more insincere with each pump. “I trust your hotel is to your liking and your trip in was uneventful?”

Micah nodded. He wasn’t one to bite the hand that might be feeding him, before tasting the food. “It was pleasant and the room is comfortable.”

“Good, good,” Gideon ushered him into the office and Micah heard him ask the receptionist to hold his calls. “Have a seat. Or if you’d rather I have a full bar, just help yourself. Or coffee. Dinah could have coffee sent in.”

“I’m fine.” Micah took the club chair Gideon indicated and sat across a glass and chrome coffee table from the man instead of the desk as he’d expected. So this was going to be informal. Nothing big. Micah placed his portfolio on the table and leaned back. He propped his ankle on his knee and waited.

Gideon cleared his throat he seemed oddly uncomfortable. Maybe it was the scar. Maybe it was that Micah just didn’t seem friendly. He wasn’t friendly. He’d never been friendly. He’d never needed to be friendly. He was military and then law enforcement. He was a grunt and field work made for ugly work. He wasn’t up on his ass kissing skills. “I guess you’re wondering how I came by your name?”

“That would be my first question. I’m not exactly easy to find and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t on any security head hunter data base.” Micah tried to smile. The scar pulled tight and he winced instead. Gideon looked away, he seemed…repulsed. Well, join the crowd.

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10915152_748347598567595_7014123571263879277_n (1)About the Author: Mercy Celeste is the pen name and super hero persona of mild mannered MJ Colbert….which is bull, I’m not mild mannered. I was, in fact, raised in a barn—or several. We even had grain silos. My motto growing up, anything a boy can do, I’m right behind him doing it just as well or better. I’ve broken too many bones to begin to count. Scraped, skinned or scarred pretty much every thing that can be scraped, skinned or scarred. How I’m still walking and talking is a miracle.

Mercy can be found on her blog, Facebook and her Amazon Author Page.

Stay current on Mercy Celeste’s news at http://www.mercyceleste.com/. All of Mercy’s books can be found on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and ARe.

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Genre Romance, Giveaways, Self-Published, Sid Love

Interview and Giveaway: Let It Go by Sid Love

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TNA: Hi, Sid, welcome to The Novel Approach. We’re glad to have you here with us today. Why don’t we start by having you tell us a bit about yourself?

Sid: I am Sid Love, a successful blogger, reader, an ex-reviewer, an author of M/M fiction and now, a virtual promotion business owner. As of today, I’ve got two published books – one under the DSP banner and the other self-published.

TNA: You began as a reviewer/blog owner, eventually making your way to becoming a published author, a trend that seems to be catching on in this genre. Had you always wanted to be a writer, or did that desire come after you’d been reading and reviewing for a while? When did you decide it was time to make the leap?

Sid: I have been writing since 2007 actually but I began to write for publishing in 2012. When I started my blog a year later, I didn’t know what to blog about other than my passion for books. So I started to share my views and opinions with others through this medium and before I knew it, I was getting requests for reviews, guest posting, interviews and whatnot. I still can’t believe how quickly The Blog of Sid Love grew back then.

TNA: With your second published novella, Let it Go, you decided to self-publish. How was this experience different for you than with your DSP published novella, Holding on to Hope? Do you see yourself only self-pubbing from now on?

Sid: Oh God! Self-publishing is not easy at all. There are so many things to do and so many decisions to make on your own. However, the different experience was definitely exciting. I am the sort of person who likes to learn new things and this area of self-publishing had always made me curious.

As far as my future plans are concerned with my books, it really depends on situations. I may self-publish some of my books. ;) Who knows?

TNA: For anyone reading this who might be an aspiring author just starting out, what sort of advice would you give them? Any words of wisdom you’ve learned and would like to pass on now that you’ve released your second book?

Sid: Believe in yourself and your capabilities. Also, having friends who support you helps as a motivation aspect.

TNA: Let’s talk a bit about Let it Go. Without giving away spoilers, tell us a little bit about the title and what it means to the storyline. Did you have the title planned before you wrote the book, or did that come after?

Sid: It’s funny, but I always have to have a title in my mind for a story before I even start writing it. So, the title did come first. It actually came from my inspiration for this book which was the Frozen song with the same name. Like Elsa in the movie, one of my MCs is living his life hiding a secret from everyone around him. So it’s his fight in this story to sort of liberate himself.

TNA: Tell us a bit about your MCs Damon and Virat. What makes them work together as a couple?

Sid: Damon O’Neil is an American lad who visits India for work purposes during the end of year holidays and ends up celebrating Christmas alone on the beaches of Goa, far away from his family. He meets Virat Panchal there, who is staying in the same hotel where Damon is. He finds himself attracted to the man immediately and has a heartbreak on knowing the guy is actually on a honeymoon with his wife!

I’d say both of my MCs are totally different from each other but they develop a level of understanding and respect for each other as the story progresses. Even with Damon’s crush at first sight, they start off as friends which gives them a base to build their further relationship on.

TNA: Would you like to share a short excerpt from the book with us?

Sid: Yes of course. Here’s a part from the story that I simply adore –

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let-it-go-cover2Blurb: “Everyone tells me to stay away from him. But if only I knew how to resist him…”

Goa isn’t supposed to be on Damon O’Neil’s list of places to stay while working in India. It’s merely a substitute for his planned trip to visit his sister in Paris for Christmas and the New Year. His boss had other ideas. He’s sent Damon to carry out urgent upgrades to the company’s offshore units and Damon can’t say no.

When Damon encounters an extra-spicy curry, a handsome Indian guy named Virat comes to his rescue. Damon is instantly smitten with his looks, and especially with his cute smile. But Damon soon realizes he is very much out of his league when Virat introduces his new wife.

However, there might just be a chance Virat isn’t all he pretends to be …

Buy Links: Amazon US | All Romance eBooks

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Every morning, Damon hoped he’d wake up to find the man of his dreams in bed beside him. Attraction came easy to him but the fluttery feeling of love was what he searched for. His past relationships had never become serious enough that he’d wanted his boyfriend to stay the night and cuddle with him. There was no depth in those flings. Probably that was the reason those men never stayed too long in his life.

After having spent thirty years of his life searching for the right man, Damon had grown tired and had almost given up.

So when he woke up the next morning, he was surprised to experience that most awaited, out-of-the-world feeling deep inside his heart. His eyes opened to find a peacefully sleeping Virat next to him.

The man was tucked in the sheets while fully dressed, with his right arm resting under his head. His kissable lips were parted to let a soft snoring sound out. Damon became conscious of his proximity to the man’s face when Virat’s hot breath hit his lips. It teased him in a way that his semi-hard cock reacted instantly and at that juncture he was wide awake.

Afraid.

He was so afraid to even move a muscle. Damon looked at his face, studying every skin, every curve of his chiseled features. Virat was so gorgeous, like no one he’d ever seen. His heartbeat picked up and without even realizing it, he inched his face toward him. His gaze was fixed only on Virat’s lips. Damon had grown desperate to get a taste of his mouth.

It’s not right, his mind reasoned, though the lust overpowered every sense in his body. If I kiss him now, I’ll be taking advantage of him.

Their noses touched, their breaths mingled and Damon stayed still for a moment comprehending his actions. He only had to push his chin up and their lips would finally connect. But even though Virat was so close to him now, he’d always been too far to reach. He was hitched to a beautiful woman.

Damon rolled away off the bed and stood up, staring at the sleeping figure. He felt dirty as soon as he thought of what he’d been about to do. The feelings he had for Virat had definitely grown stronger after last night, but he’d insulted those feelings by acting on his desperation.

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TNA: What are you working on now? Do you have any works-in-progress you’d like to talk about?

Sid: I am working on multiple projects at the moment. Two novel-length stories that have been WIPs for a year now LOL (not enough hours in a day, I tell you!). So, I better not speak about them. However, I am currently working on a short story based on the May-December theme. At this point of time, I am very excited to finish it.

TNA: Thanks so much for being here with us today, Sid. Where can we find you on the internet?

Sid: You can find me on: Facebook | Twitter | email

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THE GIVEAWAY:THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED

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A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week, Carole Cummings, EM Lynley, Ines Johnson, Jaime Reese, John Inman, Morticia Knight, Shae Connor, Sid Love

Here’s A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

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Cheers, everyone, I hope you’ve had a lovely weekend filled with plenty of good reading. We have a great week in store for you: more reviews, guests, giveaways, and who knows what else? We’ve learned to expect the unexpected too. :)

Here’s what we have on tap in the week ahead:

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MondayShae Connor kicks off our week with a guest post and giveaway on the Unfortunate Son blog tour

TuesdayMorticia Knight drops in with an exclusive excerpt and giveaway today on the Copping an Attitude (Sin City: Book Two) tour

WednesdayCarole Cummings is back with more Genre Talk. Her guest today is DSPP author John Inman, who’ll be discussing the Horror genre

ThursdaySid Love joins us today with an interview on his Let it Go blog tour

Friday – We’ll be participating in the cover reveal for Jaime Reese’s new novel A Restored Man today

We’ll also be hosting EM Lynley on her Dirty Dining blog tour

Saturday – Finally, to end our week, author Ines Johnson is back with an exclusive excerpt and giveaway of her novel The Pleasure Hound (Book Three)

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

 

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DSP Publications

Interview: Welcome Elizabeth North and Lynn West of DSP Publications

DSP PublicationsThe Novel Approach is pleased to welcome Elizabeth North and Lynn West of DSP Publications today. By now you’ve perhaps seen our monthly Genre Talk feature with Carole Cummings and the DSPP authors we’ve featured thus far. Carole and I have interviews and features scheduled through December of 2015, which we’re looking forward to sharing with you, but at Carole’s brilliant suggestion, I decided she had a great idea to pose a few questions to the brains behind the operation, and thankfully, they agreed.

I hope you enjoy our chat with Elizabeth and Lynn!

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Lynn and Lizzie

Lynn West and Elizabeth North

TNA: Hi, Elizabeth and Lynn, thanks so much for joining us today. Why don’t we start with the introductions? Would you tell us a bit about yourselves?

Elizabeth: I’ll introduce Lynn. Lynn West is one of the founders of Dreamspinner Press and was one of the first two editors employed by the press in January 2007. She was named Editor in Chief in January 2009. She has edited the work of more than a hundred authors, including many of the bestsellers in Dreamspinner’s catalog. She built the Editorial Department from the ground up. Lynn has been a professional editor in fiction, nonfiction, journalism, and technical writing and was a fiction and nonfiction author, a public relations writer, and an award-winning print journalist before that, so she’s got more than twenty years of publishing experience. I’ve heard authors say she’s really scary, but in truth, she’s looking out for their best interests, and they respect her for that.

Lynn: And I’ll introduce Elizabeth. A longtime lover of books and romantic fiction, Elizabeth created Dreamspinner Press in 2006 to focus on treating authors well, producing quality books that feel good to hold, and providing a happily ever after for all. Her gift is one of vision: she saw that the publishing industry was ready for gay romantic fiction to join the mainstream rather than being pigeonholed as a specialty genre. With extensive management experience and a master’s degree from Florida State University, she has guided the company toward a bright future, making authors’ and characters’ dreams come true and providing a great reader experience. Basically, she’s our guiding light, always pushing us to improve and grow and love personally and professionally.

TNA: Let’s talk a bit about DSP Publications, the newest press under the Dreamspinner shingle. How and why was DSPP conceived, and what is its mission statement? From idea to launch, how long did it take to get DSPP up and running?

Elizabeth: The story behind DSP Publications starts in early 2013 at Dreamspinner Press. Lynn and I were discussing the company’s wide and flexible definition of romance when I mentioned the fact that some books—usually historicals and science fiction and fantasy—didn’t perform as well as “pure” romances despite being excellent stories. I also noted that sometimes Dreamspinner had to decline extraordinary submissions because they simply didn’t qualify even within the press’s flexible definition of gay romance.

We invested six months of research time into the DSP Publications’ action plan before Lynn started building the editorial side and we started discussing selection options. In early 2014, Lynn launched a formal editorial calendar, and on Oct. 14, 2014, our first official publications were Infected: Prey and Infected: Bloodlines by Andrea Speed.

Lynn: A new imprint publishing genre fiction would also give us a vehicle to explore publishing other stories we really want to publish, romance or not. Those books we simply couldn’t put down, quality fiction that pushes the envelope to present immersive, unique, and unforgettable reading experiences, stories that beg to be told. Our tagline is Off the Beaten Path. Worth the Journey. Our books reach into a wide range of reader-favorite genres, including fantasy, historical, horror, mystery, paranormal, science fiction, and spiritual fiction. In keeping with the focus of Dreamspinner and Harmony Ink, DSPP books will feature characters within the LGBTQ+ spectrum.

TNA: More than a few of the books that have helped launched DSPP had been originally published by Dreamspinner. How did you go about deciding which authors and books would be perfect to help launch DSP Publications?

Elizabeth: After discussion, we felt that 1) certain publications in the Dreamspinner catalog presented extraordinary plot and characterization as a primary theme rather than romance, and 2) over time, we’ve seen that some publications like those, while still romance, might benefit from promotion in range of mainstream genre circles. These are books that we’ve always thought should have seen higher sales, but within the romance market, they just weren’t getting the attention they deserve.

Lynn: Each of the specialty genres—fantasy, historical, horror, mystery, paranormal, science fiction, and spiritual fiction—maintain unique representation in the fiction market. We can better serve our authors in reaching a bigger audience if we promote outstanding stories to a specific genre rather than to a minor segment of the romance market. We’re already seeing positive support from authors and readers across the board.

TNA: What is the criteria for a book to fall under the DSPP umbrella rather than that of Dreamspinner Press?

Elizabeth: While we have general guidelines, the truth is it comes down to the experienced opinion of our submissions staff. If it’s not a romance, it’s definitely not Dreamspinner, but as many people have commented in the past, Dreamspinner has a very flexible opinion about what qualifies as romance.

Lynn: One thing we’ve considered a great option for DSPP is speculative fiction. Readers love fantasy and science fiction series full of vibrant characters and developed worlds. They love twisty and involved mysteries. They love addictive tales of horror and suspense. Especially in science fiction and fantasy, books featuring characters of a wide variety of sexualities really started publishing in the 1960s, and some of those books—the Darkover series by Marion Zimmer Bradley, The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula LeGuin, The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov, and The Forever War by Joe Haldeman, to name just a few—are now classics of literature. The audience is there, and has been there for a long time.

TNA: If an author would like to make a submission to DSPP, how would s/he do so? Are you accepting open submissions at the moment?

Elizabeth: DSP Publications is not accepting open submissions at this time. The editorial calendar is already booked completely through 2015 and into first quarter 2016. We’re keeping the publication schedule very small and we’re being very picky.

Lynn: We’re focusing on authors we have strong relationships with, as well as picking and choosing standout submissions to Dreamspinner that don’t fit the Dreamspinner model. So if you submit a specialty genre book to Dreamspinner, it’s possible you just might hear from us about DSPP.

TNA: Since the launch of Dreamspinner Press, what are some of the most surprising and impressive changes you’ve seen in the evolution of the Gay Romance/Fiction genre?

Elizabeth: Surprising and impressive are two different answers. I was most surprised by the interest in translation into some of the smaller markets: Turkey, Hungary, Greece, and Israel. The most impressive thing I’ve seen in the evolution of Gay Romance is the growth of the number of readers. In the last five years, we have seen a 3007% increase in readers—and that is only through our site. In terms of market growth, that is a phenomenal figure.

You didn’t ask, but the most satisfying change I’ve seen, is the change in perception of gay couples and marriage. When we began, same-sex marriage was legal in one state and a handful of countries. When one of our books ended in a happily-ever-after that included marriage, reviews tended to label it as unrealistic. Now that dream is a reality in 35 states and 18 countries. We still have a long way to go, but the progress is satisfying.

We are new to the gay fiction genre, so those answers will have to wait a year or two.

Lynn: The growth in volume of submissions in particular stuns me. It shows me what a huge audience is out there and that we’re providing an appreciated service.

TNA: What can we readers look forward to in 2015 from Dreamspinner, Harmony Ink, and DSPP? Any news you’d like to share with us?

Elizabeth: Harmony Ink in particular is maturing. After several months of market research, sales analysis, and feedback from the imprint’s direct audience, we’re refining the theme of Harmony Ink to “Teen and New Adult” fiction, which is growing out of the Young Adult market. The strongest support for this is coming from the teens themselves. Feedback reflects that the target age group for Harmony thinks that Young Adult is for kids, ages ten to twelve. The bulk of Harmony selections do hit the mid-teen to new adult age group. This also lines up with what you see in brick and mortar retail bookstores: Teen Fiction sections. This supports a trend we’re seeing among our authors: starting a Teen and New Adult series and then following those characters into adulthood with books that are moving to the Dreamspinner imprint.

Lynn: We’re continuing to grow and deepen editorial work at Dreamspinner Press. Our Senior Editor system, now three years old, is hugely successful in building strong and sustainable author relationships. We’re seeing more authors excited about developing their work with focused macro editing. We’re also continuing to develop genre editing. For example, we now offer a specialized historicals editing stream headed up by a Senior Editor with strong experience in the genre and supported by editors with history degrees and experience.  We’re slowly expanding this genre editing into fantasy, paranormal, and science fiction.

DSP Publications is slowly growing into more and more new genre fiction publications to augment best-selling series from well-known gay romance authors spreading their wings into the larger markets. We’re already getting a great response from presales at Amazon: for example, John Inman’s horror suspense novel Willow Man ranked as high as #3 in Hot New Releases and #8 in Bestselling Horror/Gay & Lesbian three weeks before its official publication date.  Our authors are working really hard, cooperatively and individually, on developing both their promotional efforts and recognition of the imprint name. They’re so excited about DSPP!

TNA: Thanks so much for being here with us today, Elizabeth and Lynn. It was great spending some time with you.

Readers, if you’d like to stay in touch with DSPP and discover what’s in store from them in the coming year, you can follow them on their Website, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.

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A.J. Marcus, Carole Cummings, DSP Publications, DSPP's Genre Talk

DSP Publications: Genre Talk With Carole Cummings and A.J. Marcus

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GENRE TALK with Carole Cummings

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Hey, all! Lisa went and left the door unlocked again, so here I am! And I’ve dragged fellow DSPP author A.J. Marcus with me to leave cigar burns in Lisa’s furniture and drink all her beer talk about Mystery! (As in: who left cigar burns in Lisa’s couch and drank all her beer?!) And Suspense! (As in: will Lisa kill Carole with the candlestick, the rope or the poison?!) Continue reading

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Dreamspinner Press, Kate McMurray

Interview: When the Planets Align by Kate McMurray

PlanetsBlogTour

TNA: Hi, Kate, welcome back to The Novel Approach. I’m so pleased to have you here with us today. Why don’t we start with the basics? Tell us a little bit about yourself, please.

Kate: I am so pleased to be here! About me: I am the author of ten novels and a handful of novellas and short stories, with lots more on the way in 2015 and beyond. I write mostly gay contemporary romance, but sometimes I shake it up and write paranormal or historical. When I’m not writing, I work as a nonfiction editor. I live in New York City, Brooklyn specifically, in an apartment over an ice cream parlor. Continue reading

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Felice Stevens, Giveaways, Loose Id

Interview and Giveaway: A Walk Through Fire by Felice Stevens

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TNA: Hi, Felice, I’m so glad to have you here with us today. Let’s start by having you tell us a little bit about yourself.

Felice: Ok! I live in NYC with my husband, a daughter who is graduating college this year and a son who is graduating high school. I work full time as an attorney specializing in labor and employment discrimination law. With the boring pedigree out of the way, I drink coffee all day, look forward to my glass of wine at night and have yet to pass up a really good sale on a handbag. Or another pair of black pants.

Continue reading

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Amy Lane, Coastal Magic Convention

Coastal Magic Convention: An Interview With Featured Author Amy Lane

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In the ongoing countdown to Coastal Magic Convention in February, our very own Lynn interviews Amy Lane. Take it away, Lynn!

Lynn: Amy, when did you first start writing?

Amy: I was five and in the house alone. I ranged my stuffed animals around me in a semi-circle and set about telling them the story of two princesses. They were not impressed, but I was hooked. Continue reading

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