GRL 2016: Guest Post Tali Spencer

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**Welcome Tali Spencer to Two Chicks Obsessed. I love Tali’s post about swag envy…I know I will be stopping by her Author’s Lounge at GRL. 🙂

Guest Post

Swag Envy

swag: goods acquired by unlawful means; loot

I’m an older author. You will notice this when you meet me at GRL. I’m the slightly mystified-looking one without much promo going on. Take swag. The term itself only really emerged in the 90s, when publishers took advantage of new technologies—printing, primarily—to produce inexpensive promotional material. For my first published book, back in when that meant mass market paperbacks, I had no swag at all. My publisher would have laughed at the idea.

In the last decade, digital publishers and self-published authors jumped on the promotional wagon and, before authors knew what hit us, it became part of our job to produce or purchase mind-blowing amounts of bookmarks, postcards, pens, mugs, trading cards, magnets and keychains with our names and/or book covers upon them.

Our imperative: Catch the Reader’s Eye. If we can catch a reader’s eye, she might find what she sees interesting enough to check out our book. Win!

Maybe. Or maybe swag just becomes another form of competition.

At my first GRL, a few years ago, I walked around the swag room and reached an ominous conclusion: my swag was… well, pretty sad, actually. Other, far more famous authors were giving away tote bags. Tote bags. Not only that, but some were handing out tee shirts, jewelry, and action figures. I think I saw bundt cakes on one table, but don’t quote me on that.

I was coming up small. Thank goodness I had ordered a custom shoulder dragon for myself and decided on the spot to hold a raffle to give that away, along with a cute mug. Whew!

Readers did take some of my postcards and bookmarks and magnets, but the one bit of swag from my table they really went for wil_570xn-499044782_npqmas individually wrapped unicorn horn hand soaps. People talked about those. The only reason I had any left was because I didn’t put them out all at once. And the best part was I felt almost as good about people liking my soaps, mug, and dragon as I did about them liking my books.

I felt like I was giving readers a gift. Thank you, it said. Thank you for coming and giving me a chance to meet you. If you have a moment, maybe you could take a look at my books.

Swag does cost money and authors work with budgets. Some have really tight budgets. Gifting readers is well and good, but swag ultimately is about getting the author’s name out or promoting one or more of their books. It has to be, or the expense is frivolous. That’s why I like the new setup for this GRL. Instead of a free-for-all swag room with all the goodies laid out on impersonal tables for indiscriminate picking, there are now Author Lounges where readers can meet the author behind the swag.

Naturally, authors are going to want to offer up their best swag. Anything it takes to lure readers in.

So visit my Author Lounges if you get a chance—one on Thursday and one on Friday. I’ll have unicorn horn hand soaps and unicorn horn rainbow bath salts. And journals. And coin purses. And bookmarks. Lots of postcards and bookmarks, all handed over with a smile.

As for me, I get to join other readers in seeing what authors far cleverer than me have come up with. At least one is bound to be giving away a tote bag.

Author Bithickasthieves2o:

Tali Spencer delights in erotic fantasy and adventure, creating worlds where she can explore the heights and shadows of sexual passion. A hopeful romantic and lover of all things exotic, she also writes high fantasy and science fiction. If you would like to see inspiration pictures for her characters, or glimpse how she envisions her worlds, check out her Pinterest boards.

Tali’s books include the three preceeding Uttor books: Captive Heart, Dangerous Beauty, Adored, and Victory Portrait, all with Resplendence. Her gay male high fantasy stories, Thick as Thieves, Sorcerer’s Knot, and The Prince of Winds,are published by Dreamspinner Press. She often publishes in anthologies, and puts up free stories and excerpts on her blog.

Visit Tali’s blog at http://talismania-brilliantdisguise.blogspot.com
E-mail: tali.spencer1@gmail.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/tali.spencer
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/talispencer/GRL Featured Blogger

This post may contain affiliate links. Advanced Reader Copies are accepted by Two Chicks Obsessed in exchange for an honest review without additional compensation.

Babe in the Woodshop by Ashlyn Kane, Claudia Mayrant, & CJ Burke: Release Day Review and Guest post (9/29) TBR Denise

babe-in-the-woodshop-coversynopsisWhen long hours and crushing stress push Bellamy Alexander to his breaking point, he walks away from his consulting job and drives until he runs out of gas. Fortune deposits him in front of Antonio’s, a place with decent pizza and an opening for a delivery boy. Even better, he finds an apartment right across the street from his new job. And best of all, Chris McGregor, the property manager who runs the custom furniture shop below Bell’s new digs, is super hot—and super into Bell.

It seems too good to be true—and maybe it is. Things aren’t exactly going smoothly. Bell avoids telling his mother the truth about his new job because he doesn’t want to hear how he should go back to the corporate world. On the other hand, he doesn’t think he wants to deliver pizza forever either. He’d like to think about settling down, but Chris runs hot and cold. Between Bell’s uncertainty and the hang-ups Chris refuses to talk about, they have their work cut out for them. Fortune may have caused their paths to dovetail, but it will take more than wood glue to hold them together.

Title: Babe in the Woodshop
Authors: Ashlyn Kane, Claudia Mayrant, & CJ Burke
Release Date: September 30, 2016
Category: Contemporary
Pages: 200

Guest Post

Hello, everyone! Ashlyn Kane, Claudia Mayrant, and CJ Burke here, thrilled to be making a guest appearance for Two Chicks Obsessed with Books and Eye Candy (we can relate, except in number, of course!). We’re here to talk a little bit about our upcoming release Babe in the Woodshop.

When long hours and crushing stress push Bellamy Alexander to his breaking point, he walks away from his consulting job and drives until he runs out of gas. Fortune deposits him in front of Antonio’s, a place with decent pizza and an opening for a delivery boy. Even better, he finds an apartment right across the street from his new job. And best of all, Chris McGregor, the property manager who runs the custom furniture shop below Bell’s new digs, is super hot—and super into Bell.

It seems too good to be true—and maybe it is. Things aren’t exactly going smoothly. Bell avoids telling his mother the truth about his new job because he doesn’t want to hear how he should go back to the corporate world. On the other hand, he doesn’t think he wants to deliver pizza forever either. He’d like to think about settling down, but Chris runs hot and cold. Between Bell’s uncertainty and the hang-ups Chris refuses to talk about, they have their work cut out for them. Fortune may have caused their paths to dovetail, but it will take more than wood glue to hold them together.

Now that you’re all caught up, we’ll turn the keyboard over to CJ, who’ll tell you a little bit about what the stars say about our heroes.

CJB: I’ve often found horoscopes to be an interesting way to develop characters, especially when trying to figure out where the rough and smooth elements fall in their relationships. So first I took a look at when and where Bell and Chris were born.

Bellamy Alexander: Born 8:20 a.m. on Thursday, May 9, 1991, San Diego, California.

Chris McGregor: Born 4:50 p.m. on Tuesday, September 4, 1984 in Berea, Kentucky. When the book opens, Chris has just turned 32, and he’s feeling his years.

Bell Alexander is a Taurus with moon in Pisces and Gemini rising. Mostly that means Bell’s a nice guy but is going to stand up for himself, and he used to be ambitious but he’d rather have good friends and a real life. He’s not exactly running away, but he hasn’t yet figured out where he’s headed. Luckily, his sun sign keeps him grounded, while his moon in Pisces gives him a vivid imagination—both in his work and in his personal life.

When Bell meets Chris McGregor, he’s intrigued by this handsome craftsman who seems quiet and focused on his work, but who surprises Bell in a variety of ways. Chris is a Virgo with both moon and ascendant in Capricorn, giving him a strong sense of practicality and responsibility. He’s generally solitary and needs someone to bring out the fun side. He’s cautious about relationships, but once he’s in, he’s in and it’s peaceful and fulfilling.

Their composite chart has some interesting elements. They share the sun in the fourth house, Venus in the fifth house, and the moon in the eleventh house, all of which indicate a relationship that includes both friendship and love. However, they also share a sun in opposition to Neptune, an indicator that they’re both keeping secrets from each other, and possibly even from themselves.

Babe in the Woodshop releases September 30 from Dreamspinner Press. You can preorder it here, here, and here.

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Amazon

ARe

Dreamspinner Press

 

denise review

This slow burn, sweet and sexy love story is just what I needed while dealing with life. I will say there was a big surprise (interestingly enough, found in the closet) waiting for Bell and the reader, which brings loads of humor in to the mix…and one reader heading online to see if they are really out there. 🙂

I loved that Bell left the big city stresses behind, to try to find some peace and balance for himself. He recognized that he was on a treadmill that he wouldn’t be able to get off until he cut the cord completely.

Chris had a side to him that you didn’t expect in the first time or two of seeing him. 😉 I loved that sexy, innuendo laden side. It was fun to read, and enjoy the interactions in regards to that slightly sinful side.

These two men were a perfect mix together. If Bell had seen Chris in his other space, he likely wouldn’t have moved further with him, with everything he had going on. However, meeting him in a small town, where everyone either knows everyone else or is going to college, allowed them to connect with one another.

When you have a slow burn love story, it is sometimes hard to find the right balance between too slow and boring your reader, and burning up the pages just enough to keep the reader interested. This book rode the edge in the first half, but definitely picked up the pace, and kept me engaged through the end. Recommended. And read it again, although you can only be surprised by what was in the closet one time. 😉

4 pieces of eye candy

 

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meet the author
Ashlyn Kane is a Canadian former expat and current hockey fan. She is a writer, editor, handyperson, dog mom, and friend—sometimes all at once.

On any given day she can usually be found walking her ninety-pound baby chocolate lapdog, Indy, or holed up in her office avoiding housework. She has a deep and abiding love of romance novel tropes, a habit of dropping too many f-bombs, and—fortunately—a very forgiving family.

Find her on Twitter @ashlynkane or Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ashlyn.kane.94.

 

Claudia Mayrant has been exploring the world around her since she was old enough to get around under her own power. Her early travels took her on her bicycle “all the way to but not on the main road.” Happily, since then, she’s enjoyed visiting as many places as she can, from bustling marketplaces and enchanting castles to funky dives. She can’t possibly decide which she likes best, but details of her favorite people, places, and things usually get put in the fiction blender so they can make an appearance in her stories.

Claudia maintains that each new adventure requires the appropriate footwear, which explains her closet. Her passion for taking photographs of the things she sees, does, and eats far exceeds her skill with the camera, but no matter the setting, she has fun trying to get a good shot.

For all her love of travel, she’s most relaxed back in the South on a Gulf Coast beach with good friends, refreshing beverages, and plenty of sunscreen.

Her smartphone isn’t literally connected to her hand, but anyone would be forgiven for thinking so.

Twitter: @claudiamayrant

Pinterest: ClaudiaMayrant

 

CJ Burke’s first book was the self-published A Fancy Witch, illustrated in crayon with particular attention to the witch’s footwear. While CJ is now long past first grade, she’s still hunting that perfect pair of equestrian boots.

CJ’s life has always been centered on words. She’s written a couple of those familiar yellow books about computers, and more user guides for obscure software than necessary, but she’s never given up the habit of plotting romances in her head during boring lectures or staff meetings. Along the way, she’s been a lifeguard, an English professor, and a dozen other things in between. In a perfect world, CJ would work between an independent coffee shop and an amazing yarn & fabric store, then go home to alphabetize her spices while dancing around the kitchen to whatever’s on the 80s channel.

CJ can be found on Ravelry, Instagram, and Twitter as cjburkebooks.

This post may contain affiliate links. Advanced Reader Copies are accepted by Two Chicks Obsessed in exchange for an honest review without additional compensation.

GRL 2016: Blog Tour Post DJ Jamison with Giveaway

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**TCO is excited to have DJ Jamison stopping by today to tell us what how important GRL is for an independent author. Can’t wait to meet DJ next month!!! Don’t forget to enter the giveaway.**

 

Guest Post

Author DJ Jamison stops by for the GRL tour with a story of how much reader interaction means to an independent author.

“Heart Trouble” will be the eighth book I’ve published so far (it releases Oct 6), but it was a very different experience for me in one fundamental way. It was the first book I wrote after creating a Facebook group for readers.

It’s amazing how supportive M/M readers can be. For me, my readers were a huge motivation for me. They cheered me on when I was trying to get words on the page, and they responded with nothing but enthusiasm when I posted teasers and inspirational character pictures. They even loved to give their opinions on cover design and formatting of ebooks.

It probably seems like a small thing to you guys, but to an emerging author that kind of interaction can be the thing that keeps us going when we’re juggling day jobs and family and writing on nights and weekends.

I started out fairly isolated as an independent author. I didn’t have a network of other writers I knew, and I didn’t really have anyone in my life who could read my books and offer feedback. But through my group DJ and Company, beta readers and readers offering reviews in exchange for books, I’ve found that I don’t have to do it alone after all.

“Heart Trouble” is not a story that belongs just to me, but to everyone who has encouraged me to keep writing. With their support, I wrote “Heart Trouble” more quickly and more confidently than I would have on my own.

That’s partly why I so look forward to attending my first GRL. I’m excited to meet many more readers, who inject so much energy into our genre. If you see me there, please come say hello. I’ll be the shy introvert who would love a few more friends.

In the meantime, please feel free to join my FB group: DJ and Company.

 

synopsis

heartrouble

When Gage Evans gets a look at his hot nurse, he’s smitten immediately. Too bad he’s given the nurse the impression he’s some kind of daredevil. It couldn’t be further from the truth. Gage is a college journalism instructor writing a series of guest columns that require him to jump into new experiences — a fun bucket list, but one that does nothing to convince Ben he’s not an adrenaline junkie.

Fresh off his latest heartbreak, nurse Ben Griggs is wary when one of his patients shows an interest in him — especially when that patient showed up in the ER after a motorcycle accident. Ben’s ex was a biker, a friend with benefits, and he dropped Ben cold when someone more interesting came along. Ben isn’t the kind of guy who can hold the interest of an adrenaline junkie like Gage Evans for long. The last thing he wants is to lose his heart to the wrong man again.

The more Ben gets to know Gage, the harder he is to resist. He can only hold on for the ride and keep his guard up as much as he can. But Ben’s lack of trust seriously gets in the way of building a relationship, and Gage will only be patient so long. Can he trust Gage enough to give his heart, or are they destined to have a fling that goes nowhere?

 

Ben is a warm, lovely nurse who has been burned one too many times by men who use him as until someone better comes along. As a result, Gage spends most of the book trying to break through Ben’s defenses while trying not to cling to Ben and suffocate him with his own insecurities.

Here’s an example of the kind of teasers you might see in my group on a #teasertuesday that illustrate that theme in the book.
“Dating an adrenaline addict is not on my list of things to do,” Ben said. “I know the initial rush of meeting someone can be thrilling, but the thrill wears off.”

Not this again?

“I’m not an adrenaline addict, but even if I were. … Are you saying guys who ride motorcycles or climb mountains are incapable of love and commitment?”

“No, of course not, but it takes someone more exciting than me to hold their interest. I’m not enough to—”GRL Supporting Author

“Stop right there.” Gage grasped Ben’s face, tilting his head to look into his eyes. “You’re enough. You’re more than enough.”

And here’s a moment of intimacy, when Ben lets down his guard for a moment:

Gage kissed his body so softly, so gently, Ben’s chest grew tight with emotion. They still had so much to learn about each other, but this was more intimacy than he’d ever had with Tripp. He’d always treated Ben like a means to an end. Gage treated him like the journey was just as important as the destination.

The urge to pull away and create more distance was there, but Ben fought it. Just once, he wanted to experience this feeling of being another man’s treasure. Even if it was temporary. Even if it was so fragile it shattered later. He’d have this memory, this knowledge that it could happen.

So, when Gage started whispering sweet words, Ben didn’t roll away and change positions to distract him as he’d done before. He closed his eyes, unable to look into Gage’s intense blue gaze, but let those soft words of praise soak into him. He let them resonate within him as warmth spread through his limbs.

You’re sexy.

You’re amazing.

You’re everything I could want.

 

**Heart Trouble releases Oct. 6 and is a sweet romance with an HEA. It’s the sixth book in the Ashe Sentinel Connections but can easily be read as a standalone.

 

giveaway

DJ is offering a book giveaway!  ONE WINNER will receive a free ARC of “Heart Trouble” before it releases Oct 6. TWO WINNERS will receive their choice of the box set of the first four Ashe Sentinel Connections books (approximately 140,000 words worth of reading fun!) or a free copy of Book 5, “Hard Press,” in which Ben first appears as a secondary character. Comment on the blog to enter!

 

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This post may contain affiliate links. Advanced Reader Copies are accepted by Two Chicks Obsessed in exchange for an honest review without additional compensation.

One Pulse Charity Anthology: Guest Post and Excerpt by Bree Cariad

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Guest Post

Hi, Two Chicks Obsessed with Books and Eye Candy *waves*

You probably haven’t heard the name Bree Cariad before. I’m the inspirational side of A Thia Thing.

As Bree, I’ve been focused on writing m/f as that is where most inspirational books reside, but when I saw the open submission from Dreamspinner Press about this wonderful anthology where the proceeds go to help those in the LGBT community in Florida who were affected by the Orlando shooting, the need to help struck and the hugest plot bunny attacked my brain and I saw a way to bring out an m/m inspirational series.

The first draft of Everyday Miracles, the story featured in the One Pulse Anthology, poured out of me in about two hours. As if the story had to be told and I couldn’t move until it was out of my head.

Certain characters are overwhelming to an author, and Reverend Jonathon Neiland is one. He has so many levels to him and has this incredibly strong need to help and this belief that right will always overcome prejudice as long as he leans on the Lord. Unfortunately, that belief sometimes overshadows the darker side of the world and how to make his way through it. Thus enters the other hero in Everyday Miracles – Court Brecker.

Brecker lives in the world, knows how to make things work, though he is admittedly woefully unaware of the issues in LGBT community. However, when he sees something that needs to be done, he ignores what others say, goes with his gut, and makes things happen. And it takes only a couple hours for him to know that their community needs what Reverend Neiland is asking for: a shelter for homeless LGBT youth.

Unlike my books as a whole, this short story is not a romance. It is, however, a case of Love Conquers All, which incidentally is the name of my new series. Everyday Miracles is a prequel to the first novel in the series, of which the 1st draft is complete and just under 80,000 words. Light in the Dark Night is a romance and I plan to release it next year.

I hope to find more inspirational m/m romances. While I have a wide classification of genres I read *and write*, I love M/M Romance and would love to see more inspirational stories out there.

Now you’re probably wondering about that A Thia Thing reference from above, aren’t you? *grins* I’m an author who writes in many genres. And some of them are different enough that I published them under different pseudonyms. But a year ago I started outing that I was all those names and a few weeks ago I launched a main website ~A Thia Thing~ which aggregates info from all my sites.

I’m me – You remember that old song “I’m a little bit country. I’m a little bit rock and roll”? Well, that basically covers me. I’m not a one concept person.

Under the name Bree Cariad, I write inspirational, sweet, and clean romance.

Under the name Thianna Durston, I write M/M Romance with a hint of spice. (Some call it erotic romance but I don’t because my stories are based on the characters and the romance. The sensual stuff is just added spice.)

Under the name Thianna D., I write m/f romance with a hint of spice.

And under the name Cynthia Kimball, I write a wide range of subjects: non-fiction, poetry, young adult, romance, and sci-fi/fantasy. If you look deep, you’ll notice there is one thing that ties them all together: Metaphysics.

While I’m most prolific under the names Thianna Durston and Thianna D. – thus A Thia Thing – sometimes the need to write inspirational romance or metaphysics-based fiction/poetry overtakes me and I love it when that happens. I’m a very eclectic non-normative individual and love differences and the full spectrum that is life.

I thought I’d leave you with a snippet from Everyday Miracles—Reverend Jonathon Neiland has been working for four years to open an LGBT youth shelter, but the city council has shut him down every time. That the new leader of the council, Court Brecker, is on his side seems nothing short of a miracle.

excerpt

onepulse_cover_dspJonathon Neiland paced slowly back and forth in front of the city council doors. His hands shook slightly, a folder gripped firmly between them. They weren’t shaking from fear.

“Please, Lord,” he murmured under his breath. “Please fill me with your grace. I’m fighting the anger I feel toward the men inside that room. For years, they have blocked each move I’ve made to finish this center. You helped me find a way around each one. But we’re at the finish line. I need their okay to finish the home and make it an official part of the trust. All I need is a three-to-two vote in our favor.”

For four years, the council had pushed back his request. They needed more information or they required proof of something or…. But they couldn’t push back any more. He did everything they asked—even when it was redundant and nothing more than busy work—and the place was ready. Once he had their approval, they could open the doors officially as a youth shelter which would allow him to widen his reach for more money and more options for his kids.

“And my anger isn’t helping,” he admitted in a rush, feeling tears prick his eyes. “This isn’t for me. Please, Lord. Please. This is for your sons and daughters who have been kicked out of their homes just because of who they are. Please help this go through.”

The fact was, Jonathon had put all his money and that of his friends into the venture. The sheer number of homeless LGBT teens in the county was staggering, and every month it went up. Each month he saw that the house he’d renovated and made ready would not be big enough if they were lucky enough to round them all up. But he couldn’t afford any more. If the five men beyond that door would give their official stamp on it being a youth shelter, they could go forward.

The house was signed off on as far as the inspectors were concerned. All they needed were beds and food. Thirty-four youth were living in tents he had erected on the property. It wasn’t much, and they were tightly smooshed with six of them in each four-man tent, but he saw their gratitude daily for not having to live on the streets. For not having to beg or steal to survive. For not having to prostitute themselves to stay alive.

“And now all I need is their okay,” he murmured frantically, his fingers tightening on the folder. So close. So close to giving those kids a home, a home they would never be kicked out of because of who they were.

 

I hope you’ll enjoy this amazing anthology.

 

One Pulse

Stories drive life. Sometimes life is good; sometimes life is bad. But it’s the nature of our community that in the aftermath of an act of hatred, we respond with love. Because darkness cannot exist in the presence of light. Cruelty cannot stand against compassion. Negativity will never overcome hope.

To show our support for those affected by the Orlando shooting, our authors, editors, artists, and staff have volunteered their talents to create this anthology. All proceeds will be donated to LGBT organizations in central Florida. Join us as we celebrate the triumph of love over every obstacle.

Jon Keys—A Single Night, Alicia Nordwell—About Best Friends & Boyfriends, Mickie B. Ashling—Adíos, M.T. Aspen —Asking for Trouble, M.A. Church—Chasing Tyme, Caitlin Ricci—Coming Out, George Seaton—Cucurrucucú, Jayce Ellis—Dance, Bree Cariad—Everyday Miracles, Chrissy Munder—Everything I Need, Ellis Carrington—For the First Time, Felicitas Ivey—Get Me to the Church Town Hall on Time, John Amory—Happy Pride, Grace R. Duncan—Hope, John Goode—Let Them Eat Cake, J. C. Long—Magical Boys Just Wanna Have Fun, Elizabeth Noble—Magicicada, Renee Stevens—More Than a Pact, Troy Storm—One Big Happy… Bunch, Connie Bailey—One Heart at a Time, Dev Bentham—Perfection, Andrea Speed—Pride, Laura Lascarso—Pull, Lila Leigh Hunter—Raffled Kiss, Emery C. Walters—Ranch Dressing, C.C. Dado—Read My Lips, Sera Kane—The Stag’s Bane, KC Burn—The Tithe, Vicktor Alexander—The Wooing of the Marqués de Sierra de Outes, Edmond Manning—They Danced

buy now

Dreamspinner Press

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

 

meet the author

twitter_avatar_breeBree is a best-selling inspirational romance author who is proud to have a story in Dreamspinner Press’s One Pulse anthology. Xe identifies as non-normative, multi-gender, and believes in love in all forms and that happily ever afters come in many ways. Whether in a romance or a non-romance, in xys stories, love conquers all. Bree is completely not sussed about pronouns. Call xem she, xe, or they. A pronoun is just a label after all. And labels only have the importance a person puts on them.

Find Bree online:

Website – http://www.breecariad.com/

A Thia Thing – http://www.athiathing.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/BreeCariad

Twitter – https://twitter.com/BreeCariad

Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/thiannad/

Google+ – https://plus.google.com/+BreeCariad

This post may contain affiliate links. Advanced Reader Copies are accepted by Two Chicks Obsessed in exchange for an honest review without additional compensation.

GRL 2016 Blog Tour: Guest Post A.J. Truman

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**TCO is excited to welcome A.J. Truman to the blog to talk about his upcoming appearance at GRL next month. Can’t wait to meet him!!!**

Guest Post

I can’t wait to attend my very first GRL. This is my first convention period. In social settings, I’m usually the guy either hanging by the food/drink table or standing in a group listening and nodding and not saying anything. Yep, life of the party right here. But everyone keeps telling me that all attendees are super social. We’re all awkward, so we’ll be awkward together.

I write books about witty college boys falling in love and falling into bed with each other. I like to think that my Browerton University series could be part of The WB’s lineup in the late 90s (Dawson’s Creek, Felicity) and like a non-hipster version of Girls.

I love this time period. This part of life is rife with conflict and drama and self-discovery. For many, college is the first time you’re on your own. You’re trying to be an adult and find your way. I also love the idea of getting a second chance. Whatever happened in high school, whoever you were, is in the past. You get a fresh start in college. In my books, my characters are always trying to escape their pasts. College provides a physical distance, but not the mental. I thought I could be someone new when I arrived at college, but it took me four years (and more) to realize that the only person I was capable of being was myself.

My latest book, Out of My Mind, came out of the thought “Can gay guys and straights guys be friends without sex getting in the way?” One of my favorite movies is When Harry, Met Sally… but over several drafts, the story evolved into something much stronger. Mac and Gideon are two guys who use lies and excuses to hide the pain they don’t want to cope with. After one awkward encounter freshman year, they wind up being roommates junior year. And then friends. And then something much more complicated. I especially loved writing Gideon’s character. He speaks to how well a lot of gay men have to get at lying. Code switching. Pronoun switching. Staying in the closet is rough. The lies may come easy, but the stress is soul-crushing.

If you see me at GRL, please say hi. I can’t wait to meet readers. I love their enthusiasm for authors and the genre. They are what keep me motivated to write. I’ll be that guy awkwardly standing in the corner.

 

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synopsis

Mac had to be out of his mind.

Completely out of his ever-loving mind to even consider rooming with Gideon. The same guy he kissed during his freshman year who said he was straight. He’s held Mac’s mind hostage for the last two years after running out that one special night. Mac was a fan of social experiments, and this one was going to be a doozy.

Gideon doesn’t sweat anything. He was always two lies ahead of everyone. A master at spinning rock solid alibis to protect the house of cards that was his life. To Browerton University, he’s the popular guy getting over a breakup. To his family…the dutiful & responsible son. But rooming with Mac was bringing up old memories and forming new ones. First, a friendship develops, and then a late night infused with alcohol pushes them into uncharted, benefits-laden waters.

As their sexual experimentation continues, and the lies add up, both of them fight to withstand the feelings growing between them, feelings that could ruin their friendship and topple Gideon’s house of cards for good.

Out of My Mind is the 3rd book in the Browerton University series, but can be read as a standalone. It contains humor, heart, and hot guys. This book is intended for readers 18+.

excerpt

Gideon didn’t like to call himself a neat freak. He merely believed that a clean living space was the key to a good life. How could a person achieve success in the world when where he lived was in disarray?

Mac was the one who called him a neat freak.

“You are,” Mac said as he was pouring himself a bowl of Raisin Bran for dinner. Mac ate cereal for dinner, and lunch, and breakfast. Could he not rotate in some canned soup or Chef Boyardee?

“There’s nothing freaky about wanting to have a clean apartment. You need to respect your shared living space.”

“You sound like an RA.” Mac poured milk in his cereal. Drops splattered against the flakes and onto the counter. “I’ll try harder.”

“You said that two days ago. You’re still on trial here.”

“Where’s my lawyer?” Mac smiled at his joke. “I will take care of the sun room. I just got distracted with classes starting. This weekend, though.”

Gideon didn’t believe him for a second. “How did you survive with your past roommates in the dorm?”

“I kept my mess to my half of the room, which I’m doing here.”

“But I can still see it. The sun porch looks like an episode of Hoarders. Your pile of shit is on the verge of collapsing. It’s not just there. You can’t leave the kitchen a mess. We don’t want to get ants.” Gideon pointed his head at the milk droplets.

“For real?” Mac asked.GRL Supporting Author

Gideon nodded yes.

“Man, you run a tight ship.” Mac whipped off his T-shirt, exposing a smooth chest rippling with muscles. Gideon cut his eyes to the floor and focused full-throttle on the specks of dust on the tiles.

He pulled the dishrag off the oven handle. “Use this!”

“This is easier.” Mac’s arm muscles jumped around as he wiped up his mess. He left his T-shirt in a ball on the counter.

“Are you going to get a new shirt?”

“Nah. It’s a white T-shirt. The milk blends right in.” Mac gave him a knowing smirk and shoveled a mountain of cereal into his mouth.

Gideon didn’t know why that threw him off so much, why it made it so hard to breathe for a moment. It was just a shock. No warning. Then, bam! Shirtless! Perhaps he wasn’t expecting Mac to be so jacked. Pittsburgh did a body good.         Gideon was regretting this two-week trial already.

“I thought gay guys were supposed to be super clean.”

“And I thought straight guys were supposed to be slobs.”

Gideon cocked an eyebrow. Touché. He checked the time on the microwave.

“I have to get ready.”

“Hot date?” Mac asked.

“Yeah.”

“Cool,” Mac said. He seemed surprised, and maybe a touch sad, to be right.

“I’m kidding. We’re throwing a party for new students at Hillel tonight.”

“Sounds familiar. Don’t give any naïve freshmen the wrong idea.”

“I’m laughing on the inside.” Gideon entered the solace of his clean bedroom with a new bed, washed sheets, and clothes that were folded or hung up. He changed into a navy blue button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled up, khaki shorts, and boat shoes. He went into the bathroom to get his puff of hair just right and spritz on cologne.

“Stop being awkward,” he whispered to himself.

He returned to the kitchen, where Mac was finishing up the last bits of his dinner. Still shirtless.

“I’ll be back later.” Gideon froze in place. Heat strangled his neck.

Did Mac just check me out?

He felt Mac’s eyes travel up and down his body for a split-second. It was so quick, and Mac was back to munching on his cereal, but Gideon caught it. He had given girls the onceover plenty of times. He knew what he saw. He wondered how much times that had happened over the past week. Gideon found himself puffing out his chest.

And did I like it?

“Make sure you put your spoon and bowl in the dishwasher when you’re done.”

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meet the author

A.J. Truman remembers his college days like it was yesterday, even though it was definitely not yesterday. He writes books with humor, heart, and hot guys. What else does a story need? He loves spending time with his pets and his husband and writing on his sun porch. You can find him on Facebook or at ajtruman.com

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Social Media Links:

Website: ajtruman.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ajtrumanwriter

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/ajtrumanwriter

Mailing List signup: ajtruman.com/outsiders

 

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This post may contain affiliate links. Advanced Reader Copies are accepted by Two Chicks Obsessed in exchange for an honest review without additional compensation.

Emergency Services by Sean Michael: Exclusive Guest Post and Blog Stop

emergencyservices200
synopsis

Can love truly conquer all?

Jet Wannabi has been working undercover for over a year with nothing more than the odd furtive phone call to his lover and master, Blaze Swanson. All that’s about to change, though, as a year’s worth of work is coming to a head in the biggest bust Jet has ever been a part of. When the SWAT and Narcotics teams roll in early, Jet gets trapped between them and the bad guys, with disastrous results.

Firefighter Blaze Swanson is more than ready to have his lover and sub home with him when he finds out that Jet’s been hurt in the bust. He gets to the hospital as fast as humanly possible, only to find out that Jet has banned Blaze from seeing him. Jet believes he’s ruined and that letting Blaze go to live his life is the right thing to do.

Blaze is going to have to call on all of his stubbornness, love, patience and abilities as a Dom to convince Jet that not only do they need each other, but the lifestyle they’ve enjoyed in the past is not out of reach, not if Jet puts his trust in his master to take care of him.

Join Blaze and Jet on their journey to rediscover how they fit together.

Guest Post

Research…

Thank you very much to Two Chicks Obsessed for hosting me today!

I asked if there were any topics that they’d like me to blog on, and Denise said she likes to know how authors research their books.

Okay, here is where I admit that I’m not a terribly good researcher. You’d think I’d be better at it, given I have a Bachelor’s in English, but I’m not. It isn’t even that I don’t like learning stuff about, well everything, but research takes time away from the writing. On the other hand, research is sometimes necessary.

I research kind of like I write – I’m not an outliner, I’m a pantser. In research terms that means I’m not a research aheader, I do it on an as needed basis. So when I come across some details that I don’t have at the tip of my brain, I will look it up. Occasionally, I will leave myself a note in the manuscript – look up what frozen meals Swanson makes – to look up when I am doing my read-through before submitting, but I have often found that I need the information I’m looking up to inform what happens in the next few chapters, so it’s usually easier to just look stuff up as I get to it instead of saving it for later.

For Emergency Services, this wound up being some medical stuff, and a bit of how shifts work for firemen here in Canada.

In a perfect world, I would have all the time in the world for research and then I’d just read books on all sorts of subjects, some of which would hopefully come in useful for the writing, too. One day, right?

Sean
Smut fixes everything

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To celebrate the release of Emergency Services, the first book in the Underground series – Special Teams is marked down to $3.99!

specialteamssynopsis

When Hunter Simms goes undercover at an underground BDSM party, the last thing he expects to see is SWAT’s leading shooter Keifer Magnessen bound, gagged, plugged and very bare. He is immediately drawn to Keifer, and wants to get to know his fellow cop better. Much better.

With such a high stress job, Keifer needs to give up control on his down time in order to decompress, but it’s a secret he holds close to his vest. So, when Hunter walks into his chosen place to submit, he tries to cut and run. Lucky for him, Hunter is shrewd, persistent and quite possibly just the Dom that Keifer needs.

Can these two strong men find a way to make their personal lives mesh?

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meet the author

Best-selling author Sean Michael is a maple leaf–loving Canadian who spends hours hiding out in used book stores. With far more ideas than time, Sean keeps several documents open at all times. From romance to fantasy, paranormal and sci-fi, Sean is limited only by the need for sleep—and the periodic Beaver Tail.

Sean fantasizes about one day retiring on a secluded island populated entirely by horseshoe crabs after inventing a brain-to-computer dictation system. Until then, Sean will continue to write the old-fashioned way.

Sean Michael on the web:
WEBSITE: http://www.seanmichaelwrites.com
BLOG: http://seanmichaelwrites.blogspot.ca
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/SeanMichaelWrites/
TWITTER: seanmichael09

This post may contain affiliate links. Advanced Reader Copies are accepted by Two Chicks Obsessed in exchange for an honest review without additional compensation.

GRL 2016 Guest Blog Post: Posy Roberts

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**Thank you so much to Posy Roberts for stopping by the blog for the GRL 2016 Blog Tour. Can’t wait to see you in October!!! 

Guest Post

Thank you so much for hosting me. This will be my third GayRomLit retreat but the first time I’ll be coming as a featured author.

image009The first time I sat behind a table with my books set out in front of me so people could connect my face with my stories, I was scared. In my community I was an educator, the person greeting preschoolers and their parents at the classroom door. No one knew I was bisexual, that I moonlighted as a writer, and that I passionately supported LGBTQ+ equality. No one knew I wrote MM Romance. Thankfully that first experience was at my local Pridefest, so an interested and open audience surrounded me.

I quickly learned that I had no clue how to sell my books. People would ask me what I wrote, and aside from saying contemporary MM romance, I had no effective way to share my stories so they sounded appealing, and it all came down to how I was raised.

Be humble.

I’m not a saleswoman, and with each person I engaged, I felt this hot feeling in my gut because I was talking myself up. When I shared this experience with my friend and fellow MM author, Teegan Loy, she expressed the same feelings. We were both raised with Midwestern humility stitched into our very fiber, so talking ourselves up was very much out of our comfort zone, even if it meant more readers. Sending out release day notices and writing blog posts was easy, but face-to-face interactions? Yikes!

My first GayRomLit was a few months after Pride, and I came as a supporting author. As I sat in Chicago at the book signing, I was still nervous, even in a setting where I was expected to chat myself up. So I kept on going to events. Last year, I attended a local authors’ meet-and-greet and went to GRL in San Diego. Then this summer I went to Twin Cities Pride, where I sat in a booth for two days talking to people about books. I watched other authors sell their books as well.GRL Featured Author

What I walked away with from all these experiences is that I needed to simplify. As the author, I know all the subtext, symbolism, and the messages I was hoping to convey, but that makes for a lousy introduction to the books. I write novels because it takes 80,000 words to tell that one story, and I occasionally write series because the story can’t be told in one novel. It doesn’t help that I write books across the board too, from angst to fluff to kink.

So as GRL in Kansas City has been approaching, I’ve been trying to find a better way to tell you, readers and potential readers, what you can expect from my books. First, I reworked all of my taglines. Second, I focused on the tropes in each book. Third, I decided to take advantage of visuals. From reviewers’ comments over the years, I know I write meaty stories that are not easy to boil down in a few lines, so that got me thinking about food. At GRL and on my website, I will give you a reduction sauce of my books: one taste so you know what you’re getting. 😉 One thing led to another, and I ended up with a quick flavor system for my books represented by food. What else?

posyratingsystem

Sweet stories will be fluffy and light-hearted. Spicy stories will have some kink in them. Savory stories—which are my bread and butter—are full meals, dark and earthy in spots, but with a nice finish at the end. And bitter or bitter-sweet (because I write romance, I will never leave you hanging) will have moments of angst where the characters suffer on their way to change and growth. Many stories have a fusion of flavors as well. I know there are times I crave a fluffy, light-hearted story, and other times I want to feel a character’s experience all the way down to my toes, so this will help with that as well.

I’m in the process of creating mini cards to bring to GRL to let you pick your flavor, and I’ve created a page on my website for the same purpose. Here’s a sampling so you can see what to expect. I’d love to hear what you think. I can’t wait to talk to you face-to-face. I’d love to learn about what you like in a book so I can help find one of mine you can savor. 😉

posy-minicard-back-farmfreshposy-minicard-back-silverscarsposy-minicard-back-sparkposy-minicard-back-feathers

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Waiting for Patrick by Brynn Stein: Release Day Review, Guest Post, Giveaway

waitingforpatrick_postcard_front_dspsynopsis

Architect Elliot Graham has bought and restored dozens of historic homes to their original splendor. As in his personal life, he loves them and leaves them, selling them off without looking back. But there’s something about the old plantation house he finds in South Carolina—a connection he can’t explain. He feels as though he recognizes the house, as if within its crumbling walls he might find something he doesn’t even realize he’s lost.

Ben Myers promised his lover and soul mate, Patrick, that he would wait for his return—and Ben has kept his word, ever since Patrick brought him to the plantation house during the Civil War. For the first time in many long years, Ben is no longer alone, and he reaches out to Elliot in dreams. Elliot tries to convince Ben that Patrick isn’t coming back, and Ben’s devotion is about to change not only his lonely existence, but Elliot’s life as well.

Title: Waiting for Patrick
Author: Brynn Stein
Release Date: September 16, 2016
Category: Paranormal: Ghots/Spirits
Pages: 280

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Guest Post

I just finished a blog tour for Waiting for Patrick yesterday. I’m offering giveaways of one signed copy, one electronic copy, and a choice of one title from my backlist. It’s not too late to enter. I will choose and announce a winner at 5PM EST on September 16th, the release day of my book. Feel free to go around and comment on as many blogs as you want. One comment, one entry.

Crossword Puzzle

So, I just finished my blog tour, and had a wonderful time. But I find I’m running out of blog post ideas. But, never fear. I was a teacher for thirty years before becoming a mental health counselor. So, I created a crossword. The information needed for the crossword is all in one or the other of my blog tour posts (listed below) or in the blurb.

Try your hand at the crossword here: http://crosswordlabs.com/view/waiting-for-patrick-2

If you prefer a little less of a challenge, go to the shorter version here: http://crosswordlabs.com/view/waiting-for-patrick

If you give up, “Patrick” is the password for both that will give you the answer key.

Have fun.

denise review

My favorite period of history, bar none, is the American Civil War. It has always fascinated me, and I have researched and read many different thing on it. So, when I read the words “Civil War” in the blurb, I knew I wanted to read it, and wanted a guest post on it. I wasn’t disappointed.

This book is a ghost story, along with some other little spots of surprise, but all in all its a love story. I don’t read ghost stories. Ever. Not in my comfort zone. Not something I even really want to read. Why? Because they don’t have happy endings. I need my HEA. That is why I read romance. You gotta give me a happy ending or I am out! So, I was nervous. But Waiting for Patrick was just what I needed. There was a beautiful HEA, which I won’t lie, left me BAWLING at the end of  the book. But I got what I was looking for, my HEA.

The love story of Ben and Patrick was told beautifully through the dreams that Elliott sees when he sleeps. Two men that never really questioned their love. And when Ben died after being injured in the Civil War, and Patrick left, Ben waited in that house for Patrick’s return. He was devoted to Patrick and would not deviate. He was waiting for Patrick without question.

Elliott meanwhile falls in love with the ghost of Ben, and Ben returns his feelings. A love triangle like none other. Yet you don’t feel angst, because you can feel the emotions, and you can see where this is heading. It doesn’t hurt any less as you get there, your heart will be ripped apart, but the love is so strong that you can’t help but feel joy as to what you know is coming.

This book was a bit longer than it needed to be, I think, with a few scenes that could have been cut, or reduced to just the necessary components. Although it didn’t detract from the story, those extra pieces did not add to the story as they should have.

All in all, though, I really loved this book. I loved the story, both past and present. I loved seeing how easily Elliott was able to find love when he’d felt uneasy about it his entire life. I will be re-reading this book at some point. Thank you to Brynn Stein for giving me a ghost story I could love. 🙂

4.5 pieces of eye candy

4.5-pieces-of-eye-candy2

meet the author

Brynn has always loved to write about strong male characters and their close friendships. When she found the world of m/m fiction, she fell in love. Finally, a way to bring those strong male characters together and let those emotional connections spill over into deeper relationships. Sometimes her characters go through the emotional wringer, but they always have each other.

Brynn lives in Virginia near her two grown daughters who support her writing and sometimes act as proof readers. Both of her daughters are also aspiring writers and hopefully it’ll just be a matter of time before they have their own author’s biography.

Brynn was a teacher by profession for thirty years. She worked in special education with children with emotional disabilities. She has recently changed careers and is now working as a mental health counselor to this same population and their families. When she is not working or writing, she loves to draw and paint. She also gets outside as often as she can, reads anything that doesn’t move out of the way, and is always looking for her next story.

Contact Brynn:

https://twitter.com/BrynnStein

http://brynnstein2.wordpress.com
https://www.facebook.com/brynn.stein

 

Other Blog Stops

      Date Blog Name   Blog Owner Blog Address
September 1st Bike Book Reviews Becky http://bikebookreviews.blogspot.com/
September 2nd Drops of Ink Anne Barwell http://anne-barwell.livejournal.com/
September 2nd Snow’s Untangled Threads and Musings Snow Tigra http://snowtigra.blogspot.com/
September 3rd Antonia Aquilante Antonia Acquilante  www.antoniaaquilante.com/blog
September 3rd The Story Struggle and Beyond Ki Brightly www.brightlybooks.wordpress.com
September 4th Thianna Durston Thianna Durston Http://mm.thiannad.com
September 4th Unconventional Love Stories Charley Descoteaux https://cdescoteauxwrites.com/
September 4th Misadventures of the Heart Heloise West https://velvetpanic2.wordpress.com/
September 5th Sandra Bard Sandra Bard http://sandrabard.tumblr.com
September 5th Tempest O’Riley Tempe O’Riley http://tempesteoriley.com/
September 6th Jackie Keswick Jackie Keswick http://www.jackiekeswick.co.uk
September 7th Chaos in the Moonlight K-lee Kline http://chaosinthemoonlight.blogspot.ca/?m=1&zx=8a3ea5613ebace1d
September 8th Grace R. Duncan Grace Duncan http://www.grace-duncan.com/graces-blog
September 8th Brita Addams Brita Addams http://www.britaaddams.net/#!blog/c1zoe
September 8th Cryselle’s Bookshelf Chryselle www.crysellesbookshelf.com
September 9th Emotion in Motion Elizabeth Noble http://www.elizabeth-noble.com/my-blog
September 9th MM Good Books Review https://mmgoodbookreviews.wordpress.com/
September 10th Jacob Z Flores Jacob Flores http://www.jacobzflores.com/
September 11th Andrew’s Blog Andrew Grey http://andrewgreybooks.com/blog/
September 12th Nicki J Marcus Nicki Marcus http://www.nickijmarkus.com
September 12th Rainbow Gold Reviews Marc Fleischhauer rainbowgoldreviews.wordpress.com
September 13th PD Singer PD Singer http://wp.me/puLP9-1bg
September 14th Our Story LGBTQ Historical Fiction Christopher  Moss https://ourstoryglbtqhistoricalfiction.com
September 15th Renee Stevens Renee Stevens http://reneestevens.net/blog-2/
September 15th Purple Rose Tea House Charlie Cochet http://purpleroseteahouse.com
September 15th Open Skye Book Reviews http://openskyebookreviews.com/waiting-for-patrick-by-brynn-stein-book-tour-and-giveaway/
September 15th The Novel Approach Reviews Lisa (Novel Approach) http://www.thenovelapproachreviews.com/
Throughout the tour Book Trailer on You Tube Lex Valentine https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCOua40uCJM
This post may contain affiliate links. Advanced Reader Copies are accepted by Two Chicks Obsessed in exchange for an honest review without additional compensation.

GRL 2016 Blog Tour Stop: Kaje Harper

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**TCO is excited to welcome Kaje Harper to the blog today for a GRL 2016 blog post. Take a peek at what Kaje has to say about writing and publishing!**

 

Writing as a Passion, Publishing as a Career

I’ve always been an enthusiastic reader, as well as a writer. I enjoy hanging out in online groups with other readers, where we share a love for M/M romance books. (My own favorite-reads list is over 400 books long. Do not ask me for recommendations, unless you have a lot of time, and a place to take notes.) One thing that often comes up is the question of how to get started as a writer. I adore the way the M/M genre seems to inspire people to want to create their own stories.NameBadgeGRLscaled

The first think I ask is “Do you want to write for fun, and maybe have some people read it? Or do you hope for a writing career?” Because over the last five years I’ve learned that they’re definitely not the same thing.

I started writing… well, probably as soon as I started reading. My mom saved some little stories I wrote in kindergarten, a few pages of misspelled crayon words. My first M/M romance was written when I was fourteen (in 1974 for those keeping track.) Putting stories to paper was a satisfying private passion for 30 years― I typed a story out and then filed it, never letting anyone else read it, and that was great. I’m sure that even if I never sold another book after today, I wouldn’t stop.

There’s a simple joy in creation. For me it’s an escape from the real world— watching the people and events that only existed in my head begin living and breathing on the page. And, because I’m a serious non-planning pantser, the plot surprises as my story unfolds are almost as unexpected as reading someone else’s work. The characters talk to me. It’s pure fun. And that much anyone can do, anytime. Publishing is the next hurdle.

My husband has put up with me spending hours on a keyboard ever since we were married in 1986. In 2011 he suggested maybe, just maybe, I should submit one of my books to an actual publisher. You know, to go somewhere with it. Maybe raise my hourly writing income from zero dollars per hour to at least a few cents.

I agreed, mostly to keep the peace. I submitted my favorite story to a publisher known for their long and constructive rejection letters. Color me surprised when they accepted Life Lessons. I was thrilled, and nervous, and it seemed so unreal I didn’t even tell my husband for a couple of months. The publisher and I began editing. Fact checking things I’d glossed over, when it was just my for own entertainment. We began planning for release. And a cover ― I’d never bothered with a cover before. Do those look like my guys? Do I want to show their faces? Will readers like it? It was a whole new world.

As an isolated, tech-ignorant loner, I had no website. In fact, it wasn’t until the book was out and the publisher told me I’d received a fan letter— (fan letter *squeeee*)— which was sent to them because I couldn’t be found online, that I started the process of having Kaje Harper become more than just a name on a book cover. (This is backwards, BTW, if you’re planning a career. Do the website first.)

Then someone told me I should Google-search for reviews and I ended up at Goodreads. There, in the groups of like-minded readers, I first found community. I claimed my author page. I chatted about favorite authors and books. I even wrote some reviews, good and bad.

I got up the nerve to go to my first GayRomLit conference in 2012. There, I met favorite author Amy Lane, who told me how she treasured my one 2-star review of her work, as validating all my other 5-stars for her. It was a lovely gesture to put me at ease, and so cool that she knew my name and had read one of my books (wow!) and my reviews (ouch), and so embarrassing too. I realized maybe honesty wasn’t the only consideration in how Kaje Harper should present online.

Maybe my author persona maybe shouldn’t be just me with a new name. For a book in the genre I also write, my bad review might look like hubris, like “I could have done it better.” I began to think about what I chose to do as a member of the M/M writing community, not simply a reader. Since then I only put up my 4-5 star reviews— the 1100 or so books I love and want to encourage people to read. And sometimes, I don’t say the things that pop into my mind, until I vet them a little harder for both kindness and courtesy. I work to present my better self in my author voice.

Over the last 5 years, I’ve released almost 40 stories, ranging from 3,000 to 140,000 words. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve put out unedited freebies, just for fun, and heavily worked over pro-published novels with a decent price tag. My first royalty check made me fly so high! I almost framed it rather than cashing it. (It was only for about $7 so I could have. I did photocopy it…) I’ve had amazing experiences, and gained some of the most generous readers in the world, who go out of their way to support my stories. I’m luckier than I could have imagined, in the way it’s worked out for me.

But I still think publishing is not for everyone. I’ve seen excellent authors founder on the realities of sharing the work of your heart with strangers, and the even tougher realities of trying to live on the proceeds of it. Two of my favorite M/M authors just hung up their pens in the last couple of weeks. Others have vanished from sight.

Many writers (including me) are introverts, socially awkward, and over-sensitive to the opinion of others. (You should see a writing conference social hour – half the group is chatting in the middle of the room, the other half of us are hugging the walls, smiles firmly in place, wondering if we look dumb, wondering if we should be trying to start a conversation, wondering how soon is too soon to head back to our nice, quiet hotel rooms with a good book.) I think that the same things that make us good at sharing our characters’ emotions and minds on the page can make publishing tougher.

Writing itself is the joy. Well, sometimes frustration, and dry spells, and rewriting, and hair-pulling, but mostly joy. Publishing means sharing your creation with others, some of whom are going to hate it. Some of whom are going to insult it, and you. Some of whom will write reviews that make you want to never pen another word.

It’s inevitable. There is no book so good that someone didn’t write a bad review of it on Amazon, or Goodreads, or All Romance eBooks, or a blog. Check out your favorites. People say of Lord of the Rings, “This is among the most tedious books I’ve ever had the misfortune to read. Or of Winnie the Pooh, “Milne talks down to his readers in a patronising way which makes me shudder.”

Bad reviews will happen. There’s also the chance your story may languish, without so much as one review for feedback or affirmation. Or perhaps with a couple of wordless stars, to leave you wondering what that was for.

So why publish? Well, there’s also nothing like sharing the work of your imagination, and finding out it touched someone’s heart. I’ve had reviews and emails that said my story helped a reader understand why marriage equality matters, or got them through a sad time in their life, or distracted them from pain and illness, or reminded them of friends long gone. I’ve seen lovely, thoughtful discussions, where the men who’d only lived in my head are treated as real, live humans, to be appreciated and analyzed and loved and scolded. I’ve seen my stories recommended to others, as a source of light for their dark times.

That’s an amazing thing. It can make me walk with my feet ten feet off the ground.

What about the money? Well, the idea that you can earn a living, or part of a living, from writing books you love, is heady. But do note the words “part of a living.” I’m in awe of the M/M writers who make it a full-time career. That takes hard, hard work and productivity and promotion. It takes pushing past your comfort zone to sell your books, and a willingness to ride out lean times. And a bit of luck. I’ve stuck with my day job and the easier part-time road. But then, I have the luxury of a good job I enjoy, and a working spouse. Earning a living by writing is tough.

There’s a general idea that authors must make a lot of money off their books. “Just look at them selling like hotcakes on Amazon.” And fortunately for those of us who love to read, some authors do live well from writing. The Jessewave M/M blog once did a survey of M/M authors. I’m happy to say one in twenty of the authors made more than ten thousand dollars off their first book. That’s a decent return indeed, and if they can repeat it, book after book, with new books every year, it’s a career. But more than half of surveyed authors earned less than a thousand dollars, total, from their first novel. Given that a novel usually takes months to write, they earned a couple of dollars an hour for their work. If they paid self publishing costs for a cover and editing and formatting, they might not have made back what they spent, and the hourly wage goes into the negatives. Publishing stories, aiming for a full time writing career, is definitely a leap of faith in yourself.

Personally, I’m delighted that my husband pushed me into publishing my stories. (He’s such a good guy. I’m not sure he realized it would mean me spending more time on the keyboard, but he’s very supportive.) Releasing my M/M stories to readers introduced me to people who are now among my closest friends. It opened worlds and possibilities. Including actually meeting new friends in real life, at conferences.

I’d never have imagined, six years ago, that I would be looking forward to my fifth GayRomLit conference. Or how far I could come from that first one, where I went as a reader, sometimes flipped my badge over so no one could read my name, and hid in hallways. This year in Kansas City, I’ll be doing not just a Q&A session, but a talk on “Broken Men: Avoiding the Magic Healing Peen,” collaborating with two fellow writers, Ethan Stone and Carter Quinn, in front of a live audience. And I’m looking forward to it, (if somewhat nervously, because becoming a published author still did not make me an extrovert.)

Back when I wrote in solitude, on my old portable typewriter or my husband’s outgrown laptop, I never thought that I’d one day be holding paper copies of my own books, with my guys looking back at me from the covers. Or selling them for real money, at a table at GRL, alongside authors who’ve been my own favorites, like Jordan Castillo Price and Edmond Manning. Publishing snuck up on me, and it’s been aGRL Featured Authorn amazing ride so far.

Some of you may hope to take that adventure too. I highly recommend it, if what I described turns your crank. If you have the love of words, and the drive to create. And the willingness to ride the downsides and failures, the criticisms and difficult moments, for the incredible highs. (A bit like any other important risk you take in life, really.) And many of you will prefer to simply read. You guys are the valued, vital and fundamental reason for any of us to publish. An author without readers would be a sad thing indeed.

I do recommend GayRomLit as a conference, whether you read M/M, write it, or have a maybe-book simmering. There is nothing as inspiring, and warm, and fun, as sharing space with hundreds of people who love the same books that you do, and who share support for the LGBTQ community.

This is my tribe.

The group is supportive, celebratory, happy to meet others like ourselves. When two men, or two women, among us hold hands or kiss, everyone smiles. Some of us do retreat from the social press, here and there; others dance till all hours of the night, at parties where same-sex couples and het couples mingle in shared enjoyment. We talk about books and writing and stories and life. We affirm for each other the importance of telling these stories, and the joy of watching them go more mainstream with every passing year. And sometimes, we listen and try to bolster the pain of the dark moments, the losses, the times when the world isn’t yet accepting of the rainbow. The hotel is filled with readers, authors, narrators, publishers, and lots of M/M books. My kind of place.

I hope to see some of you  at GRL in Kansas City, MO in October this year, or at other conferences other years. I hope all of you find new favorite reading, and some of you who haven’t put stories to paper before are inspired to write, for yourselves, for the fun of it. I hope some of you do go on to publish, and find success. We all win when this genre grows and steps forward into the consciousness of new readers, helping to teach those who read romance that love is love, and that two men together can be beautiful.

-Kaje Harper, September 2016

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LifeLessons

 

meet the author 

 

 

Abstract color background with wave and feather pen, illustration

Kaje Harper grew up in Montreal, and spent her teen years writing, filling binders with stories. But as life got busy, the stories began to just live in her head. The characters grew, met, endured, and loved, in any quiet moment, but the stories rarely made it to paper. Her time was taken up by work in psychology, teaching, and a biomedical career, and the fun of raising children.

Eventually the kids became more independent and her husband gave her a computer she didn’t have to share. She started putting words down in print again, just for fun. Hours of fun. Lots of hours of fun. The stories began piling up, and her husband suggested if she was going to spend that much time on the keyboard she ought to try to publish one. MLR Press accepted her first submission, the M/M mystery Life Lessons, which came out in May 2011. Kaje now has many novels and short stories published, including Amazon bestseller The Rebuilding Year, and a selection of free short stories and novels in a variety of gay romance genres, available at most ebook retailers. Her most recent release is the Tracefinder thriller-mystery series. She currently lives in Minnesota with a creative teenager, a crazy omnivorous little white dog, and a remarkably patient spouse.

Website: http://kajeharper.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KajeHarper

Goodreads Author page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4769304.Kaje_Harper

Or you can find me moderating my Young Adult LGBT Books group on Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/49526-ya-lgbt-books

GRL Featured Blogger

This post may contain affiliate links. Advanced Reader Copies are accepted by Two Chicks Obsessed in exchange for an honest review without additional compensation.

Bear Among the Books by T.J. Masters: Guest Post, Excerpt and Giveaway

BearAmongTheBooksFSsynopsisForty-eight-year-old Ben Thompson is a librarian, a passionate book lover, and a man who embodies the definition of a bear. He’s also lonely after the loss of his long-term partner. Young ex-gymnast Jason Barnes piques his interest, but Ben quickly realizes there’s more to Jason than his good looks. While Jason visits the library almost every day, he never checks out a book.

With gentle persistence, Ben befriends Jason and learns the nineteen-year-old’s tragic secrets. After years of abuse at his father’s hands, Jason was kicked out of his family home for being gay. And despite his apparent love of books, Jason never learned to read. Ben offers to teach him, and the two men bond over their lessons. Ben can’t deny his attraction to Jason, but he wonders if Jason is too young and too handsome to return his interest. With the help of the close-knit library team and Jason’s growing self-confidence, they move beyond the books and into the bedroom, where their own story is just beginning.

Title: Bear Among the Books
Author: T.J. Masters
Release Date: September 2, 2016
Category: Contemporary
Pages: 230

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Guest Post

BLOG: The Age Thing.

Few relationship topics polarise personal opinions like ‘the age thing’.  Any ‘May to December’ coupling will expose strong prejudices but for me, the biggest gap is not measured in the years between the individuals, but in the gulf of misunderstanding between the couple and their peers. In Bear Among the Books The romantic leads are a couple with an almost 30 year difference between their ages.

There has been much debate in both the hetero and homosexual worlds about loving relationships where there is a significant age differential between the individuals. Not long ago we saw the varied response to the marriage between Stephen Fry (57) and his partner Elliot Spencer (27). I was not surprised to see so many of their detractors focusing on the assumed negative reasons for the choices of both men. For those embarking on such relationships, the age thing is rarely a factor. For those on the outside however, it will bring the most unseemly prejudices bubbling to the surface. Even the stereotypical labels used to describe those individuals go from barely neutral to downright offensive; Cougar, chaser, trophy wife, jail bait and paedo are all examples.

For those couples who ignore the prejudice they find great happiness and riches in their choice but they are well aware of the challenges too. Many will choose partners close to their own age because they use physical attraction as a primary factor. Others however, in my experience, will choose an older mate for much more pragmatic reasons. First is that if they may seek out an older man who has the most real life experience and the most to teach. Secondly, an older man may be seen as generally more settled in his life and more emotionally stable. some just say that they feel safer with an older man.

So why do some men prefer to take on younger boyfriends? The explanation is simple. Young guys may be inexperienced but they will be eager, enthusiastic, full of energy and life as well as being open to new experiences and, importantly for me, they bring little baggage with them. By this I mean that they will not have picked up too many bad habits or had too many bad experiences.

I could probably write a whole book on this topic but that’s not what a blog post is meant to be. Instead I am going to leave you with a set of points for further thought and discussion. Don’t be surprised if they contradict because of course the only rule is that there are no rules.

Age is a fluid thing. Young boys all become old men.

Culture can play a big part in how the age thing is viewed. Go look up hypergamy.

The biological imperative. Younger women traditionally seek men who can provide the resources necessary for the survival of the family. Men seek younger women who will give birth to the healthiest babies.

In Ancient Greece young boys often partnered older men as lovers and pupils and yet long term homosexual relationships were frowned upon.

Young lovers can be real naturals even without experience.

Some young men find older men physically attractive.

An older man can teach a younger one so much.

There is no guarantee that the older one will die first.

Some people are hot and sexy at any age.

Age really is just a number.

There is somebody out there for everyone

Your values and beliefs are yours. Do not assume that they are the same for others.

Love is ageless.

Arrogance cannot replace experience.

Learn from the best that you can find.

Be the best that you can be.

The heart shows no wrinkles.

 

excerpt

Jason grabbed me for a quick but much easier hug than his previous attempt. Again I was really taken aback, and he caught me off guard.

“What was that for?”

“Sorry, should I not have done that? It just seemed like the right thing to do.”

“No, I just wasn’t expecting it.”

Jason looked toward the entrance doors of the library and chuckled. “At least if they were watching I’ve given the others something to tease you about!”

“You cheeky monkey. They will too!”

“Bye, then. See you tomorrow.”

“Bye, Jason.”

He quickly unlocked his bike and put his helmet on. As he mounted the bike and rode off, I turned to go inside, but I couldn’t help smiling broadly to myself. Of course I walked in to find Jake and Jess standing behind the desk trying hard to look serious. Jake tapped his watch. “What time do you call this?”

Jessica then joined in. “I want a full explanation of your tardiness, as well as any excuse you might have for that awesome display of affection with the hottie outside the front door.”

“Give over, you two; it was just an eventful lunchbreak.”

Jake pretended to be shocked, slapping his hand over his mouth as he gasped. Jess also feigned surprise. “Is that why you were out for so long? When is the wedding?”

“No, no. That’s not what I meant. We just had a quiet lunch at the pub. Completely innocent, I assure you.”

“But you like him, don’t you?” Jake never held back when it came to asking direct questions. In truth I’d not considered how I would answer such a question, but my hesitation was all they needed.

“I knew it,” Jess was quick to comment. “Clearly if that hug outside was anything to go by, he likes you too.”

“You’re reading too much into it and anyway, I’m old enough to be his father.”

“So what?” Jake turned quite serious now. “That’s a very old-fashioned thing to say. Lots of guys like more mature men or women, and maybe you are just what he wants.”

Again, I had no response, and so Jess came out from behind the counter and put a maternal arm around my shoulder. “We might be joking with you, but we’ve hoped for a long time that you might find someone to have some fun with. You are way too nice to be alone, and Colin would never have wanted that for you either.”

I planted a grateful kiss on the top of her head. “What did I ever do to deserve you two?”

Jake started flapping his arms slowly. “We are your library angels.”

“You really are crazy, the pair of you. As for anything between Jason and me, just behave, especially when he’s around.”

“Yes, sir!” They saluted in unison causing me to shake my head and walk off into the library. As I crossed the floor, I was lost in thought. Was anything happening between Jason and me? Could anything happen? Part of me reveled in the idea, but another part was telling me that I was a silly old man and probably quite deluded.

meet the author

DSCF7352Author T.J. Masters recently and somewhat reluctantly passed his 60th birthday. After a long and happy teaching career T.J. wanted to follow a new path before senility set in. Books and stories have been a lifelong passion and there are many tales waiting to be told.

As a happily partnered gay man T.J. chooses to write what he knows best. His overactive and ever exploring mind is probably best described by the Oscar Wilde quote that “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars”.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS

Website: www.tjmasters.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tjmasterswriter/

Twitter: @TJMasters

 

giveaway

Do you have a favourite May to December couple either fictional or real? Tell us who it is and why by posting in the comments here and I will choose the best one to receive a free copy of one of my previously published short stories.

This post may contain affiliate links. Advanced Reader Copies are accepted by Two Chicks Obsessed in exchange for an honest review without additional compensation.