GRL 2017 Official Blog Tour: Giovanna Reaves

**TCO is excited to have Giovanna Reaves, Supporting Author, joining the GRL 2017 Blog Tour today! Check out her post on Comfort Zones, all the books, and don’t forget the TCO GRL 2017 Giveaway!

 

 

Comfort Zones

Since becoming an author/writer; I’m learning a lot about myself both personally and professionally. I’m learning not to be easily offended if a reader leaves a negative review. Does it hurt that someone didn’t like what I wrote? Hell yeah, it does. But I have to push past the negative and concentrate on the positive. Being a writer is scary and exciting. I’m sure many other authors who were starting out understand where I’m coming from. The mixed feelings we experience as a writer can be overwhelming at times leaving me to wonder if I did the right thing. But then I think about how my life has changed since I became a writer. I’ve learned to express myself through my writing.  I’m becoming more confident by pulling myself slowly away from the corner where I have felt comfortable.

Being a writer, I’m learning to get out of my comfort zone. Such as being a bit more open on social media (not big on talking about myself) and the biggest one, meeting new people or learning to accept that not everyone is going to love my work. Some writers, myself included are very shy and get nervous whenever we are about to do something new by stepping out of our comfort zones. One of the ways that I will be pushing myself further away from my corner will be by attending my first GRL this October! I’m a ball of nerves and excitement. I’m doing this because I think it would be the perfect time for me to learn from seasoned authors who know what the heck they are doing. Not only that I can’t wait to meet all the authors whose books I’ve enjoyed over and over for the past few years. I cannot wait to thank the writers who unknowingly encouraged me by taking the first step in becoming a writer. There are so many questions I

want to ask so many things I cannot wait to see. In my excitement, my only worry is that I will end up being that one annoying fan they’ll run from when they see me coming. I know for certain that I will have a blast and I cannot wait!

Giovanna (Gia) Reaves is my alter ego, who is a dreamer. I spend my days and nights dreaming and thinking of the worlds I want to create with words. I started writing about three years ag

o when I was introduced to the world of fan fiction. I loved the idea of creating a new world around characters that people already knew about. And ones that are original of my own making. I have written four novels and currently working on much more to come. I am a mother, wife, and a military veteran. I enjoy trying new things such as traveling, cooking, and reading. I try to incorporate some of the things I have experienced into my books. Currently living in Newport, RI with my two favorite men. If I am not hidden in my cave writing, I love to read and spend time with my hubby and son. I love listening to R and B along with neo soul when I am writing. When I’m not writing, I am trying to perfect my baking and decorating skills or try to pick up something new. I love spending time with my husband and son playing video games and traveling.

Check out my website www.giovannareaves.com or my books on Amazon.


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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.

Get a Grip by L.A. Witt: Blog Tour, Exclusive Guest Post and Giveaway

Welcome to the Riptide Publishing/L. A. Witt blog tour for Get a Grip, the latest Bluewater Bay story!

Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for a choice of two eBooks off my backlist (excluding Get a Grip) and a $10 Riptide Publishing store credit. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on July 29th, and winners will be announced on July 30th.  Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries.

 

If a tree falls in Bluewater Bay . . . could it be fate?

A year after his divorce, Shane Andrews isn’t interested in dating—not that he has time, between three kids and a demanding job as a grip. When a windstorm knocks a tree onto one of the Wolf’s Landing soundstages, Shane’s there to help with the mess . . . and so is firefighter Aaron Tucker.

A former smoke jumper, Aaron’s an adrenaline junkie and way too restless and reckless to be relationship material. As far as he’s concerned, monogamy is for penguins, and he’d rather be alone than tied down. Signing up to be a stepparent? No, thank you.

But after a scorching-hot night together, they’re hooked. Aaron is a taste of the excitement Shane’s been lacking, and Shane’s pushing buttons Aaron didn’t know he had. The more they’re together, the less Aaron craves wild nights with other men . . . but the more Shane wants to play the field like he never got to in his twenties.

This could be the love neither man knew he needed, but only if Shane gets his feet back on the ground before Aaron walks away.

Amazon

Riptide Publishing

Writing in an Established Series

Writing in an established universe definitely has some challenges. When that universe is shared, there are even more. But it’s a ton of fun, too, which is why I’ve done it twice (first with Tucker Springs, now with Bluewater Bay), and will probably do it again in the future.

An equal parts pro and con is that you don’t have complete control over your universe. If it’s a shared world, you have other people working on it, which means keeping track of the town’s layout, if that restaurant on First Street is still in business or if one of the other authors burned it down two books ago, etc.  With so many people involved in Bluewater Bay, we kept a couple of detailed “bibles” on Google Docs, which we could all access to make sure we had our stories straight.

That can make things challenging, of course, but it can also make things easier. When I want my characters to go on a romantic date, it’s entirely possible another author has already created a restaurant that fits the bill. So I just send my characters to that place and don’t have to worry about naming it, establishing the atmosphere, etc. So it’s a bit of a shortcut!

Similarly, you can have characters introduced by other authors. In Get a Grip, Shane meets a couple of swingers, Simon and Lydia. They’ll be front and center in Anna Zabo’s book, Outside the Lines. And in turn, Anna introduces Jesse, the assistant manager at the Simon and Lydia’s comic book shop, and Jesse will be one of the main characters of my next book in the series, New Hand.

Basically what it boils down to is that you have to make sure you’re consistent with other authors, and you have to keep track of details from one book to the next, but you’ve also got people establishing cast and setting along the way, which can make things really fun. So yes, shared and established universes certainly have their challenges, but they’re really a lot of fun. I don’t know when or where my next shared universe will pop up, but there will definitely be more of them.

About Bluewater Bay

Welcome to Bluewater Bay! This quiet little logging town on Washington state’s Olympic Peninsula has been stagnating for decades, on the verge of ghost town status. Until a television crew moves in to film Wolf’s Landing, a soon-to-be cult hit based on the wildly successful shifter novels penned by local author Hunter Easton.

Wolf’s Landing’s success spawns everything from merchandise to movie talks, and Bluewater Bay explodes into a mecca for fans and tourists alike. The locals still aren’t quite sure what to make of all this—the town is rejuvenated, but at what cost? And the Hollywood-based production crew is out of their element in this small, mossy seaside locale. Needless to say, sparks fly.

This collaborative story world is brought to you by eleven award-winning, best-selling LGBTQ romance authors: L.A. Witt, L.B. Gregg, Z.A. Maxfield,  Heidi Belleau, Rachel Haimowitz, Anne Tenino, Amy Lane, SE Jakes, G.B. Gordon, Jaime Samms and Ally Blue. Each contemporary novel stands alone, but all are built around the town and the people of Bluewater Bay and the Wolf’s Landing media empire.

Check out Bluewater Bay! http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/universe/bluewater-bay

 

L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer who has finally been released from the purgatorial corn maze of Omaha, Nebraska, and now spends her time on the southwestern coast of Spain. In between wondering how she didn’t lose her mind in Omaha, she explores the country with her husband, several clairvoyant hamsters, and an ever-growing herd of rabid plot bunnies. She also has substantially more time on her hands these days, as she has recruited a small army of mercenaries to search South America for her nemesis, romance author Lauren Gallagher, but don’t tell Lauren. And definitely don’t tell Lori A. Witt or Ann Gallagher. Neither of those twits can keep their mouths shut…

L.A.’s backlist is available on her website, and updates (as well as random thoughts and the odd snarky comment) can be found on her blog or on Twitter (@GallagherWitt).  

To celebrate the release of Get a Grip, one lucky winner will receive their choice of two ebooks off L.A.’s backlist and a $10 Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on July 29, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

 

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

Oversight by Santino Hassell: Spotlight with Giveaway

Holden Payne has it all . . . or so he thinks. As heir to the founder of the Community—an organization that finds, protects, and manages psychics—he’s rich, powerful, and treated like royalty. But after a series of disappearances and murders rock the Community, he’s branded the fall guy for the scandal and saddled with a babysitter.

Sixtus Rossi is a broad-shouldered, tattooed lumbersexual with a man bun and a steely gaze. He’s also an invulnerable—supposedly impervious to both psychic abilities and Holden’s charms. It’s a claim Holden takes as a challenge. Especially if sleeping with Six may help him learn whether the Community had more to do with the disappearances than they claimed.

As Holden uncovers the truth, he also finds himself getting in deep with the man sent to watch him. His plan to seduce Six for information leads to a connection so intense that some of Six’s shields come crashing down. And with that comes a frightening realization: Holden has to either stand by the Community that has given him everything, or abandon his old life to protect the people he loves.

Amazon

Riptide Publishing

 

About The Community Series

What lies beneath the surface of the world you thought you knew?

Secrets and lies have twisted an underground community founded by psychics escaping persecution. Blackmail, sex, and social climbing in the name of power has created an irreparable rift.

In the eyes of the founders, there are two sides: loyalists and everyone else. Surely no one would emerge from their tightly woven webs. And they certainly wouldn’t sow the seeds of rebellion within the heart of the Community’s only queer night club.

Now an outcast, a scion, and a runaway are leading a revolution to save not only the men they love, but the entire Community.

Check out The Community series! https://riptidepublishing.com/titles/series/community

Book 1: Insight

Book 2: Oversight

 

Santino Hassell was raised by a conservative family but grew up to be a smart-mouthed, school cutting grunge kid, a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into a grumpy introvert and unlikely romance author with an affinity for baseball caps. His novels are heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, and his desire to write relationships fueled by intensity and passion.

He’s been a finalist in both the Bisexual Book Awards and the EPIC Awards, and was nominated for a prestigious RITA award in 2017. His work has been featured in BuzzFeed, Huffington Post, Washington Post, RT Magazine, and Cosmopolitan Magazine.

Connect with Santino:

 

To celebrate the release of Oversight, one lucky winner will receive a $15 Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on July 1, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

 

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

Risky Behavior by Cari Z & L.A. Witt: Blog Tour, Review and Giveaway

Welcome to the Riptide Publishing/Cari Z/L. A. Witt blog tour for Risky Behavior, book 1 of the Bad Behavior series!

Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for a choice of one eBook off each author’s backlist (excluding Risky Behavior) and a $10 Riptide Publishing store credit. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on May 6th.  Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries.

It’s day one of Darren Corliss’s career as a detective, and not only has he been assigned a notoriously difficult partner, but the guy might also be a pill-popping dirty cop. Internal Affairs needs proof, and Darren gets to be their eyes and ears whether he wants to or not.

Detective Andreas Ruffner doesn’t play by the rules, and he doesn’t play well with others. With bodies piling up and a list of suspects who are way above his pay grade, the last thing he needs is a wet-behind-the-ears kid for a partner. Or babysitter. Not even if that partner is easy on the eyes.

As Darren gains Andreas’s hard-won trust, they both realize there’s more than just mutual suspicion simmering beneath the surface. But their investigation is heating up as quickly as their relationship, and Darren has no choice but to go along with Andreas’s unorthodox—and borderline unethical—methods. As IA puts the squeeze on Darren to give up the man he’s falling for, he has to wonder—is Andreas the only cop left in this town who isn’t dirty?

Amazon

Riptide Publishing

 

Risky Behavior is the beginning of a new series by the prolific L.A. Witt and Cari Z. And from what I saw on Riptide’s website, book 2 in the series is a continuation of the story of Darren and Andreas. Thank goodness!!! Because I feel like I only got a small taste of what their relationship will be like.

These two men did not come together easily or quickly. It was a slow burn. Trust was not easily earned for Darren with Andreas. Andreas was an a-hole (which I think the character readily admits). He’s never had a partner who wouldn’t put up with his lack of information or difficulty in getting along. Darren, however, didn’t let it go. He would ask questions, again and again, if needed, to get the full information. And that would be the only type of person Andreas would trust, not only with his back as a partner, but with a potential relationship. Darren stepped right up, pushing right back at Andreas, the perfect foil.

The action and suspense in this book was non-stop, lots of twists and turns, as they tried to take down a huge drug cartel in town, which involves people at all levels. I always enjoy books that have more than just a romance in them. Intrigue, suspense, and the occasional shooting does not go awry, if there is romance and an HEA or HFN on the last page, and this book did not disappoint.

Risky Behavior ends on an HFN note, with much more to come in Book 2, as we see these two men continue to team up to take down the bad guys, as well as team up in the bedroom. (Which, btw, Darren surprises everyone, including Andreas in the bedroom. 🙂 )

This was well done, with seamless co-authoring, which isn’t always easy to do. I can’t wait to see what is ahead for these guys.

4.5 pieces of eye candy.

 

About Cari Z

Cari Z was a bookworm as a child and remains one to this day. In an effort to combat her antisocial reading behavior, she did all sorts of crazy things, from competitive gymnastics to alligator wresting (who even knew that was legal!) to finally joining the Peace Corps, which promptly sent her and her husband to the wilds of West Africa, stuck them in a hut, and said, “See ya!” She also started writing, because some things she just thought she could do better. She’s still climbing that ladder, but can’t stop herself from writing, or from sharing what she creates.

Cari enjoys a wide range of literary genres, from the classics (get ‘im, Ahab) to science fiction and fantasy of all types, to historical fiction and reference materials (no, seriously, there are so many great encyclopedias out there). She writes in a wide range of genres as well, but somehow 90% of what she produces ends up falling into the broad and exciting category of m/m erotica. There’s a sprinkling of f/m and f/f and even m/f/m in her repertoire, but her true love is man love. And there’s a lot of love to go around.

Cari has published short stories, novellas, and novels with numerous print and e-presses, and she also offers up a tremendous amount of free content on Literotica.com, under the name Carizabeth.

Connect with Cari at http://cari-z.net/  or via her blog, http://carizerotica.blogspot.com/

About L.A. Witt

L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer who has finally been released from the purgatorial corn maze of Omaha, Nebraska, and now spends her time on the southwestern coast of Spain. In between wondering how she didn’t lose her mind in Omaha, she explores the country with her husband, several clairvoyant hamsters, and an ever-growing herd of rabid plot bunnies. She also has substantially more time on her hands these days, as she has recruited a small army of mercenaries to search South America for her nemesis, romance author Lauren Gallagher, but don’t tell Lauren. And definitely don’t tell Lori A. Witt or Ann Gallagher. Neither of those twits can keep their mouths shut . . .

L. A.’s backlist is available on her website, and updates (as well as random thoughts and the odd snarky comment) can be found on her blog or on Twitter (@GallagherWitt).

To celebrate the release of Risky Behavior, one lucky winner will receive an ebook from each Cari and Lori’s backlist and a $10 Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on May 6, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

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

Insight by Santino Hassell: Blog Tour, Author Interview, Review and Giveaway

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synopsis

Growing up the outcast in an infamous family of psychics, Nate Black never learned how to control his empath abilities. Then after five years without contact, his estranged twin turns up dead in New York City. The claim of suicide doesn’t ring true, especially when a mysterious vision tells Nate it was murder. Now his long-hated gift is his only tool to investigate.

Hitching from his tiny Texas town, Nate is picked up by Trent, a gorgeous engineer who thrives on sarcasm and skepticism. The heat that sparks between them is instant and intense, and Nate ends up trusting Trent with his secrets—something he’s never done before. But once they arrive in the city, the secrets multiply when Nate discovers an underground supernatural community, more missing psychics, and frightening information about his own talent.

Nate is left questioning his connection with Trent. Are their feelings real, or are they being propelled by abilities Nate didn’t realize he had? His fear of his power grows, but Nate must overcome it to find his brother’s killer and trust himself with Trent’s heart.

buy now

Amazon

Riptide

 

tco-author interview

  1. Insight is the beginning of a new series for you, The Community. Where do you see this series going? What is upcoming with it?

The Community is going to be very different from my contemporary romance series, Five Boroughs, in that it’s planned to wrap up as a trilogy. There will still be side characters who get their own points of view and romantic arc in the two sequels, but the over arcing plot and conflicts will resolve in book 3. I like to think of it as a three-act play—the first book is when the main character discovers the existence of this psychic community, the second book is when characters who’ve long since been in it confront the shady elements of it, and the third book is when everyone comes together to do something about it.

  1. One of the main character’s, Nate, is described as an outcast in a psychic family. Where did the idea for his story come from?

I really wanted to write about a clan of psychics who were eerily powerful, and the more I thought about the potential the more I realized how dysfunctional that would be. These people grew up together, afraid of the outside world and anyone who would find out about their gifts, while always being inside each other’s heads? Not to mention the various coping mechanisms they’d use to deal with all the power and dysfunction. In short, I decided to make my powerful psychic clan a mess in a small town where that reputation would attach to Nate. So, he tried to disassociate from them because of their reputation but also because he wanted to be far away from how twisted they all could be.

  1. According to the synopsis, Trent thrives on sarcasm and skepticism. How easy, or difficult, is it to develop a character who is exudes a sarcastic nature? How do you integrate that skepticism into the character’s personality?

Trent is an engineer, so he’s skeptical by nature. You can’t just tell him “psychics exist” or “I think my brother was murdered” without him picking apart your claim and trying to figure out how all the parts come together. He wants proof. He wants to figure out a way to make it real. And once he gets what he needs to believe it, he’ll put together an action plan to deal with it. That’s why he and Nate work so well together. Nate is very emotionally invested in the mystery, the existence of a psychic community, whereas Trent is a step back and can look at it all objectively. His sarcasm is just a part of who he is, and also a way for him to make light of how ludicrous he thinks it is even after he accepts the truth. So, you can expect a lot of X-Men jokes.

  1. What is one ritual you have to perform before, during or after writing that might surprise your readers?

This isn’t very interesting, but I tend to reread my draft a lot while I’m writing it. Sometimes I have to reassure myself that the pacing is good or that it’s compelling because once I’m knee deep in a draft, it all looks like junk to me. I also have an alpha reader who gives me feedback on that type of thing if I just can’t see it clearly.

  1. Always have to have a fun question to finish. 🙂 You and Megan Erickson are on opposite sides of a jail door. Who is behind lock and key, and why?

LOL I’m definitely behind the lock and key, and she’s smuggling me pizza and Nilla Wafers as I serve my time.

Insight_TourBanner

denise review

Having read quite a few of Santino‘s books, I was looking forward to this one, and seeing his writing from a different perspective. This was not going to be his normal snarky contemporary romance with dark tones and a gritty New York scene. Except, it kind of was.

Insight involves paranormal, which got me hooked in right away. Why would someone who had some sort of powers want to hide them, not use them, and even more, be in a dark hole in his life? How does that happen to someone who can see things, have an insight into others’ lives?

We do get some answers in Insight, but not the full picture yet, which I quite liked. I enjoyed knowing that there was more coming, layers that we will be uncovering in the next two books.

Poor Nate had just a crap life, and no prospects of it looking up when his twin brother dies, and after seeing it from his brother’s point of view, decides to go to NYC to investigate. Trent, meanwhile, an engineer at heart that needs to see proof of something before he will believe it, was the perfect snarky foil to down, but not out, Nate.

What made the story so compelling, in addition to all the intrigue and suspense, was the team that Nate and Trent made. Even with Nate’s concerns that he was using his empath abilities to have his feelings mirrored by Trent, they had each other’s backs, and knew that even with all the half-truths, questions and intensity, they could count on the other person to be there. How that was slowly built over the course of their drive across the country is one of Santino’s greatest gifts as a storyteller, his ability to build his characters into living, breathing people with varying interests, flaws, and personalities, yet be the puzzle piece the other character needs to complete the picture.

I’m looking forward to seeing how book 2, Oversight, brings the arc around to Holden, and somehow makes us want an HEA for him. 🙂

4 pieces of eye candy

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meet the author

 

Santino was raised by a conservative family, but he was anything but traditional. He grew up to be a smart-mouthed grunge kid, then a transient twentysomething, and eventually transformed into a guy who spends his days and nights writing romance with an edge.

Santino is a dedicated gamer, a former fanfic writer, an ASoIaF mega nerd, a Grindr enthusiast, but most of all he is a writer of LGBT fiction that is heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, his belief that human relationships are complex and flawed, and his own life experiences.

Connect with Santino:

giveaway

To celebrate the release of Insight, one lucky winner will receive $20 in Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on March 18, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

 

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

GRL Blog Tour Banner

**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.

Empty Net by Avon Gale: Release Day Review, Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway

 

Featured Author Avon Gale

empty netsynopsis

Spartanburg Spitfires’ goalie and captain, Isaac Drake, ended last season with an unexpected trip to the playoffs. He’s found a home and a family with his coach and mentor, Misha Samarin, and he’s looking forward to making a serious run for the Kelly Cup. But things take an interesting turn when Isaac’s archnemesis, Laurent St. Savoy, is traded to the Spitfires. After Laurent’s despicable behavior in the playoffs last year, Isaac wants nothing to do with him—no matter how gorgeous he is. But that changes when Isaac discovers the reason for Laurent’s attitude.

Laurent St. Savoy grew up the only son of a legendary NHL goalie in a household rife with abuse. He was constantly treated like a disappointment, on and off the ice. When a desperate attempt to escape his father’s tyranny sends him to the Spitfires, the last thing Laurent wants is to make friends. But there’s something about Isaac Drake that he can’t resist. Laurent has an opportunity to explore his sexuality for the first time, but he’s cracking under end-of-the-season pressures. When facing the playoffs and a rivalry turned personal vendetta, Isaac’s not sure he’s enough to hold on to Laurent—or their relationship.

Title: Empty Net
Series: Scoring Chances: Book 4
Author: Avon Gale
Release Date: September 2, 2016
Category: Contemporary
Pages: 200

tco exclusive

Exclusive Excerpt from Empty Net:

Kissing Laurent was both a good idea and a bad one.

Isaac had no idea what he was doing with Laurent on a personal level, but professionally they were in competition. Laurent’s goaltending was getting better and better, because he’d apparently decided to show up and play, after all. Which was great, but Isaac was having to step up his game.

And he liked it, he realized. The competition wasn’t vicious—since Laurent was being way less of a dickhead—but it was intense.

The more intense it got, the more intense the kissing got too. Isaac continued to wonder if he was getting in over his head.

“So you’re spending a lot of time with Saint,” Hux said, when they were playing video games at his and Murph’s place.

“And isn’t it better for everyone?” Isaac made his on-screen character shoot the puck. He liked playing forward on video games, even though everyone expected him to be the goalie.

“Not talking about the team, bro,” said Hux. He, on the other hand, played a defenseman, just like he did on the ice. He also liked to try and get in fights. Hux was a man secure and happy with his role in their shared sport, that was for sure.

“You fucking him?” Murph asked, wandering in with a beer.

“Murph thinks he’s gay,” Hux said, as if that needed explaining.

Isaac stared at the screen and tried to make Mike Fisher do some kind of Spinarama move. Instead Hux’s team stole the puck and scored off the turnover. Being a Predators fan was hard in any reality—real or pixelated. “I’m not fucking him.”

His friends stared at him, but Isaac tried not to let anything show on his face. Things were too complicated to talk about.

“Holy shit. Ha. I was right. My gaydar is better than yours, dude,” Murph crowed, smacking Isaac on the back of the head.

“Ow. Would you stop? I told you I wasn’t fucking him.”

“Yeah. But you’re getting some,” Murph prodded. “Don’t lie.”

“I’m not,” Isaac said. Firmly. “Believe me. Can we not talk about this?”

“Nope.” Hux paused the game. “Spill it. Are you guys dating?”

Isaac was two seconds away from snapping “I’m going home” and throwing the controller like he was a sulky twelve-year-old. Instead he took a deep breath and said, “Guys, can we not talk about Saint and just play the game?”

Murph and Hux exchanged a look, but they didn’t say anything else about it. Isaac didn’t trust that look at all, but he kept it to himself. He couldn’t say he didn’t want to talk about it and then start talking about it.

Making out with Laurent and trying to be friends with him didn’t necessarily make it easier to like him. He still rubbed a lot of the guys the wrong way, and though Isaac understood that dickhead Laurent was a result of him feeling insecure or defensive, no one else did. Yet there was a guy worth knowing under the mask. Isaac was sure of it.

Which was why, when Coach Samarin told them about an outreach opportunity at a local school, Isaac signed them both up without asking Laurent.

“You want me to talk to kids?” Laurent stared at him incredulously. “I can barely handle talking to people my own age, and you think this is a good idea?”

Isaac shrugged and then flashed a grin. “Probably not, but you gotta learn sometime. Right?”

Laurent didn’t look convinced. “I’m not ever having children,” he said in a flat voice.

“Stop making everything so dramatic,” Isaac responded. “You’re going.”

The outreach was about getting kids interested in hockey without the use of one of Belsey’s 80’s-music-themed ad campaigns. He and Laurent wore a few pieces of their gear—mostly to emphasize the importance of safety, and because kids thought their masks were cool—and stood in front of some nets while the kids were organized into two groups, and then tried to score with a giant nerf ball and what looked to be an over-sized golf club.

Isaac wasn’t used to kids, but he had fun flailing around and pretending to stop goals. Each kid took shots until they scored a goal, which was basically just Isaac letting one in when the kid looked frustrated or stopped giggling.

One of the teachers paused the shootout and came up to Isaac. “Umm. Could you maybe tell your teammate that this is supposed to be fun?”

Laurent was apparently taking his position too seriously, as usual. Isaac reassured the harried-looking teacher and went over to Laurent. “It’s not the Stanley Cup playoffs,” he said. “You’re not supposed to make other guys cry.”

Laurent’s dark gaze was cool and unreadable. Isaac had been told more than once that he had the crazy, “come and try it, asshole” goalie stare beneath his mask when he was in net. Not for the first time, Isaac noticed that Laurent’s stare looked like nobody was home—like he was just an extension of the net instead of a person.

No wonder he didn’t like hockey or playing goalie. Shutting down hotshot shooters was supposed to give you a feeling of glee. Just not when they were seven.

“My father never—”

“I swear to—uh, gosh. If you mention your dad, I will deck you with one of those Nerf things.” Isaac looked around and made sure he was smiling wildly in case a small child overheard him. “Now stop being a prick and make these kids have fun.”

Isaac yanked his mask back down, went to his side of the makeshift court, and took his spot back in goal.

A few minutes later he heard some cheers and giggling, so Isaac figured Laurent had gotten with the program.

After the kids were finished shooting at the goalies, they were allowed to take turns in net. Isaac was momentarily horrified at how that would play out with Laurent. He worried that he’d just consigned about ten kids to therapy. But Laurent was surprisingly good at that part. At one point Isaac looked over to check on him and saw Laurent bestow an honest-to-God smile on a kid and ruffle his hair.

That’s when Isaac decided they needed to go on a date—a real one that maybe ended in more than kissing. Because there was something about that gesture, about seeing Laurent St. Savoy drop all his attitude and be a regular guy having a good time and showing the affection he’d probably never had as a child. And Isaac needed to know if the thing between them was leading somewhere or if they were just going to be friends who sometimes petted each other’s hair, but no more than that.

“See. Wasn’t that fun?” Isaac asked on the way back. Laurent looked as relaxed as Isaac had ever seen him.

“It wasn’t bad,” Laurent said.

“You want to go get some dinner?” Isaac tried not to sound too eager.

“It’s four thirty,” Laurent said. “Are we going for a senior citizen’s discount?”

“Well, I meant later. But you know we don’t get paid all that much.” Isaac grinned. “Don’t expect me to take you anywhere fancy. I meant like, Olive Garden or something.”

“I don’t like Olive Garden.”

Isaac sighed and took the turn toward Laurent’s apartment. One step at a time. “We can go somewhere else. The important part was the one where I asked you out. On a date.”

“Okay.”

That was all he got, but Isaac said, “I’ll pick you up at seven thirty” and watched as Laurent climbed out of the Jeep without a backward glance.

 

 

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paula review
This book about broke my heart. Laurent was such an emotional character to read. His life was hell. His outward personality was very much a result of how his father raised him, he was an asshole. In the beginning he really doesn’t know how to act any different. Thank god for Isaac. These two get off to a horrible start due to some pretty shitty things Laurent said to Isaac at the end of the last season and also when the meet again after Laurent’s transfer. Thankfully Isaac is more than just a surface guy and realizes there is more to Laurent then his mouth. Isaac is able to get past Laurent’s guard, and they become friends. I really liked how supportive Isaac was and how he always called Laurent on his bullshit, in regards to his attitude and how he talked to people. Isaac was able to recognize Laurent’s defense mechanisms for what they were and help Laurent find other ways to deal with things. These two characters were brilliantly written and the story was beautiful. I couldn’t put this one down.

5 pieces of eye candy

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Win an e-book copy of Empty Net!

 

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/49e561f521/?

 

meet the author

Avon Gale was once the mayor on Foursquare of Jazzercise and Lollicup, which should tell you all you need to know about her as a person. She likes road trips, rock concerts, drinking Kentucky bourbon and yelling at hockey. She’s a displaced southerner living in a liberal midwestern college town, and she never gets tired of people and their stories — either real or the ones she makes up in her head.

Find Avon

@Facebook||   @avongalewrites.com||  @twitter

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

What Remains by Garrett Leigh: Book Blast and Giveaway

WhatRemains_600x900synopsis

Web designer Jodi Peters is a solitary creature. Lunch twice a week with his ex-girlfriend-turned-BFF and the occasional messy venture to a dodgy gay bar is all the company he needs, right?

Then one night he stumbles across newly divorced firefighter Rupert O’Neil. Rupert is lost and lonely, but just about the sweetest bloke Jodi has ever known. Add in the heady current between them, and Jodi can’t help falling hard in love. He offers Rupert a home within the walls of his cosy Tottenham flat—a sanctuary to nurture their own brand of family—and for four blissful years, life is never sweeter.

Until a cruel twist of fate snatches it all away. A moment of distraction leaves Jodi fighting for a life he can’t remember and shatters Rupert’s heart. Jodi doesn’t know him—or want to. With little left of the man he adores, Rupert must cling to what remains of his shaky faith and pray that Jodi can learn to love him again.

 

 

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Riptide Publishing

 

meet the author

Garrett Leigh is a British writer and book designer, currently working for Dreamspinner Press, Loose Id, Riptide Publishing, and Black Jazz Press. Her protagonists will always always be tortured, crippled, broken, and deeply flawed. Throw in a tale of enduring true love, some stubbly facial hair, and a bunch of tattoos, and you’ve got yourself a Garrett special.

When not writing, Garrett can generally be found procrastinating on Twitter, cooking up a storm, or sitting on her behind doing as little as possible. That, and dreaming up new ways to torture her characters. Garrett believes in happy endings; she just likes to make her boys work for it.

Garrett also works as a freelance cover artist for various publishing houses and independent authors under the pseudonym G.D. Leigh. For cover art info, please visit blackjazzpress.com.

Social media:
Website: http://garrettleigh.com
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/Garrett_Leigh
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/garrettleighbooks
Cover art enquiries: blackjazzdesign@gmail.com

giveaway

To celebrate the release of What Remains, Garrett is giving away $25 in Riptide Publishing credit. Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on July 9, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

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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.

THIRDS Beyond the Books: Volume 1 by Charlie Cochet: Blog Tour, How to be Dexter J. Daley & Giveaway

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Hello all! Thank you so much for joining me here today for another stop on the THIRDS Beyond the Books: Volume 1 blog tour! A huge thank you to Two Chicks Obsessed with Books and Eye Candy for having me here today. We’ve talked a little about how THIRDS Beyond the Books came about, as well as Big Cat Rescue where the royalties of this book are being donated to. We have plenty of fun posts heading this way to celebrate the release of this book. So let’s talk a bit about Dex.

Let’s face it, without Dex there would be no THIRDS. He is the heart and soul of the series. I always have fun writing my characters, but I have to admit that I’ve never had as much fun with a character as I’ve had with Dex. It’s hard not to have fun with Dex. Even when he’s being angsty, angry, or dark, he’s still so much fun to write. But what does it take be Dex? Well, here’s a little graphic guide on how to be Dexter. J. Daley.

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Click to view full size image.

Do you share any traits with Dex? It’s okay, you can tell us. We won’t judge. What do you love most about our gummy bear munching menace?

***

ABOUT THE BOOK

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Genre: Gay Paranormal Romance, Shifters
Length: Novella
Published: June 8th, 2016
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase
Ebook ISBN-13: 9781634773072

Join us as we celebrate the THIRDS universe with this collection of flash fiction stories written to prompts submitted by fans. Sometimes we want to know more about our favorite characters. Where they came from, how they became who they are, their families, friendships, and past heartaches. These snippets of moments in time offer an inside look at the lives of our favorite THIRDS characters. Whether it’s first shifts, the forging of unbreakable bonds, or a night full of shenanigans, these stories are sure to enrich your THIRDS reading experience.

** All royalties earned from THIRDS Beyond the Books are being donated to Big Cat Rescue.

 

ADD TO GOODREADS

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Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | All Romance eBooks | Barnes & Noble

paula review

This was the funniest thing I have read in a long time! Charlie came up with some great stories to go with her readers’ prompt. Each story was both entertaining and gives us more insight into each character. I liked that she gave us a glimpse at characters who don’t even have books yet. Each and every response to a prompt was entertaining and enlightening. We get to see more of all the characters and discover new things. I really enjoyed this and can’t wait to get more of this cast.

5 pieces of eye candy

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meet the author

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Charlie Cochet is an author by day and artist by night. Always quick to succumb to the whispers of her wayward muse, no star is out of reach when following her passion. From adventurous agents and sexy shifters, to society gentlemen and hardboiled detectives, there’s bound to be plenty of mischief for her heroes to find themselves in, and plenty of romance, too!

Currently residing in Central Florida, Charlie is at the beck and call of a rascally Doxiepoo bent on world domination. When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading, drawing, or watching movies. She runs on coffee, thrives on music, and loves to hear from readers.

Website | THIRDS HQ | Facebook | Facebook Author Page | Twitter | Pinterest | Tumblr | Instagram | Newsletter | DSP |Amazon |Goodreads

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Big Cat Rescue Tote bag with Big Cat goodies inside!

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TOUR SCHEDULE

June 1 – MM Good Book Reviews

June 6 – Two Chicks Obsessed with Books and Eye Candy
June 7 – Oh My Shelves
June 8 – The Novel Approach
June 8 – Dreamspinner Blog

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Release Day Event: June 8th – Love Bytes Reviews

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Check out the THIRDS on Pinterest.

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

Speechless by Nicole Edwards : Preorder Blitz and Excerpt

Title: Speechless
Series: Pier 70 #3
Author: Nicole Edwards
Genre: Adult, M/M Romance
Coming: June 7, 2016
synopsis
He’s suffering in silence…

Teague Carter, one of the four owners of Pier 70 Marina, has spent his life feeling rejected. To the point that he has never allowed himself to get close to anyone. He prefers it that way, in fact. But he refuses to believe that his destructive behavior might be something more than rebellion.

He’s unable to speak…

Hudson Ballard, Pier 70’s mechanic, has been fighting his attraction to Teague for years. He has stood by and watched the kid get more and more out of control, but this time is the last. If Teague wants to use sex to escape his problems, Hudson is certainly willing to be the one to show him that he’s good with more than just his hands.

Sometimes words aren’t necessary.

There are fireworks when this out-of-control bad boy agrees to no strings with this tatted up, dominating mechanic.

Can Teague and Hudson keep their emotions from getting involved in their arrangement? Or — thanks to the demons from their pasts — will the darkness steal from them before they have a chance?

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excerpt


Excerpt from Speechless © Nicole Edwards 2016
Thursday, June 2nd
TEAGUE CARTER TRIED to ignore Hudson Ballard. Hell, he’d tried to ignore the bastard for the past … what? Two years now? Maybe three? Who freaking knows and who really cares. Regardless, it was getting more and more difficult as each day passed, but he wanted to think he’d done a pretty decent job all this time.
Until now.
Until today.
Until this fucking cruise, where he’d seen more of Hudson than he cared to.
Yup, Teague had mastered the art of avoidance or so he’d thought. But here on this stupid cruise ship, with the way Hudson was watching him, avoiding the man was damn near impossible. To the point that Teague simply wanted to punch him. In the mouth.
But he hadn’t.
No, he had settled for drinking himself into oblivion and it’d worked. He could no longer feel his fingers or toes, and his tongue had long ago gone numb thanks to the whiskey he’d been drinking like water. Chasing it with beer helped, too. It’d been the only way he could handle watching Hudson talk to the guy he’d brought on the ship with him. Stupid asshole.
He peered over his shoulder at Hudson, noticing the big guy was watching him intently. Teague had the sudden urge to stick out his tongue, but he knew that was petty and childish, and he was doing his best not to give in to those impulses. Shit, he was twenty-five years old, for fuck’s sake. He could act like a grown-up when need be.
Still didn’t mean he liked the fact that Hudson had brought along a plus one on this trip. Teague was pretty sure someone had said the guy’s name was AJ, but he wasn’t positive. Nor did he give a fuck. What the hell kind of name was that, anyway?
“A. J.” Teague smiled to himself as he began saying the letters faster. “A. J. A. J. A. J. Age. Age. Age. Age. Age.” He laughed because they now sounded funny and made his tongue tingle.
He rolled his eyes and lifted his empty glass. Too bad the bar was closed already. Then again, the reception was over, which meant the private room would probably be closing soon, too. The alcohol was definitely helping to keep him from thinking about Hudson. In fact, he’d done everything in his power not to pay attention to Hudson and his new boy toy. The boy toy who had been signing to Hudson earlier and was now talking to Milly.
Did anyone else find that strange?
Gay guy. Straight girl. No matter how you calculated it, the math didn’t add up.
Damn. He’d obviously had far too much to drink, because it sure as shit looked like Milly and the guy were flirting it up. But that couldn’t be the case. The asshole was here with Hudson.
Hudson the Prick.
Mmm-hmm, that was what Teague had started calling him. It was a good name for him, too.
When his head started spinning again, Teague knew it was time to get to his cabin. He wasn’t sure how he was going to make that happen, but he figured he’d get there eventually. If not, he could always lie down on the floor and take a nap. It wasn’t like anyone would be worried about where he was or who he was with. Unlike everyone else on this stupid cruise, he didn’t have a plus one. He was rolling solo, like always.
Oh, wait. Roan was, too.
Whatever.
Roan wasn’t important right now.
“Son of a fucking bitch,” he muttered, holding his empty glass. No more whiskey and no more bartender meant heading back to his room was a definite must.
He managed to twist in his chair and get his feet firmly on the floor, but when he went to stand, the room started spinning again. He had to sit back down. Luckily, no one had moved the chair or he would’ve been on his ass on the floor, and he was seriously questioning whether or not he could’ve gotten up from that point.
Okay, one more try.
Again, Teague pushed to his feet, this time remaining upright long enough to get away from the table. He started in the direction of the door, hoping he would make it. Right foot. Left foot. Right foot.
Wait, which foot was he on?
He looked up at the door. That was a long-ass way from where he was, but…
Shit.
He stumbled again and grabbed the nearest chair. “If the ship would stop rocking, I’d be fine.” He wasn’t sure who he was talking to, but the words helped his tongue not feel so numb, so he continued to ramble as he pushed away from the chair and made another go at getting to the door.
Unfortunately, the door disappeared from view when a giant body stepped in front of him.
Fucking great.
Now he had to deal with Hudson the Prick.
Teague instantly looked at Hudson’s hands as he signed. He had absolutely no fucking idea what Hudson said, but if he knew Hudson, it was going to be something that involved telling Teague what to do. So he replied in kind. “Thanks for the bit of advice, Dad.”
The next thing Teague knew, he tripped on his own foot, and the world tilted sideways. Just as he was gearing up to kiss the floor, Hudson’s enormous arms wrapped around him, keeping him from face-planting. Because he was too drunk to do otherwise, he allowed Hudson to get him to his feet by putting his arm around his back.
Hmm. The guy smelled good.
Then again, he always smelled good.
Something dark and woodsy…
Had to be cologne. The expensive shit, at that.
While Hudson guided him toward the door, Teague tried to ignore the heat that seared him from Hudson’s touch. He hated how fucking good it felt for someone to be touching him like this. He wasn’t sure anyone had ever attempted to take care of him or given a flying fuck whether or not he made it where he needed to go, but it seemed Hudson was doing just that. Sure, Teague had friends, kind of, but most of them would’ve laughed their ass off once Teague hit the ground. They wouldn’t have helped him by any means. And since he had no family…
Teague was distracted by Hudson’s scent.
“Why the fuck do you have to smell so good?” He tried to peer up at Hudson, wanting to look into those emerald-green eyes. “And why the hell aren’t you with your boyfriend?”
He knew better than to expect an answer from Hudson. The guy was mute; he couldn’t speak. If he signed a response, Teague wouldn’t understand, anyway. And truthfully, he didn’t want an answer to that. He’d done his best not to think about Hudson and that guy sharing a room, sharing a bed…
He shook his head, trying to dislodge the stupidity that was bouncing around inside his brain.
Hudson helped him onto the elevator, then pointed to the panel by the door.
Teague reached out and hit a button. Seven was a good number. It was random, sure, but that was because he couldn’t remember what floor he was on.
When they got to the floor, Hudson helped him out, still holding him upright as he led him down the hall. For some reason, this didn’t look like the right one, but Teague really didn’t know. His vision was blurry, so he couldn’t tell for sure. The carpet was different, maybe?
“Not my floor,” he mumbled, trying to remember what floor he actually was on. “Room number doesn’t have a seven.”
Or did it?
He felt Hudson’s arm tighten around him, and he got the sense Hudson wasn’t pleased with him, but he didn’t give much of a fuck. No, he didn’t give a fuck at all. The thought made him chuckle.
No fuck at all.
It seemed like forever before they finally made it to the right floor. It had only taken another detour on the wrong one before he got lucky. This one looked like the right place. And this—he reached out his arm and pointed—was the right door. Maybe. When they stopped, he noticed Hudson’s hands moving, but he didn’t know what Hudson was saying, so he frowned back at him.
Not wanting to touch Hudson any more than he had to, Teague attempted to stand up on his own. “Fuck. Why’s the room spinning so damn much?” And who stretched it? The last part he kept to himself because his lips felt funny.
He peered up at Hudson at the same time those penetrating green eyes glared back at him. He was tempted to ask him what his problem was, but then…
Son of a bitch.
Hudson’s hand dove into Teague’s pocket, dangerously close to… Oh, fuck. Just a little to the left…
No, wait. Not to the left. He wasn’t supposed to want Hudson touching him.

tco-also in series
meet the author
New York Times bestselling author Nicole Edwards launched her professional writing career in July of 2012. Having been an avid reader all of her life and a huge fan of creative writing, it seemed the likely path for her to take. Since then, she has released fifteen books and has no plans to stop. As her full-time career/hobby, Nicole writes steamy contemporary and erotic romances.

Nicole is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who was born and raised in Texas. Married with three kids and four dogs, she has plenty of interaction to keep her imagination brewing. Her books have been featured in USA Today’s Happy Ever After segment as well as Indie Reader’s best seller list. She has forged her way as an independent author.

Although she has a bachelor’s degree in Human Resources, she prefers to be hiding out in her writing cave, talking to the fictional characters that have built up in her head over the years.

When she isn’t writing or plotting her next book (sometimes translated to “playing on Facebook”), Nicole loves to read and spend time with her family and her dogs.

We invite you join the Nicole & Colt Edwards Group on Facebook. Don’t miss out on the fun and prizes at the Speechless Release Party happening Monday, June 7th starting at 8 AM CST till Tuesday, June 8th at 10 PM CST.
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