Monthly Author Column: Victoria Sue reads…

FiveMinutesLonger -FINAL

Guest Post

I’m not sure whether to be excited or terrified that I am inflicting my weird English accent on the American public – but what I am thrilled about is that you get an excerpt from the soon to be published sequel to Five Minutes Longer – Who We Truly Are.

The quote that the title comes from is one of my favorites – Harry Potter.

“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than out abilities.” – Albus Dumbledore.
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What really excited me about this quote is how it sums up my guys. The enhanced are mistrusted by the regular human public who are frightened of their abilities.

It’s all about them learning to be the bigger person in the face of hatred and discrimination. Something just as true in today’s world as in my fictional one.

The excerpt comes as Finn has to do a job that no one else on the team can. Talon, of course, hates that and feels helpless that he is unable to protect him. Finn, much as he understands how Talon feels, in the end very much wants to do his job and save the enhanced children that are depending on him. Needless to say, at the moment, things aren’t going well.

Who We Truly Are will be published by Dreamspinner Press in June.

 

 

You can also click here for the link: https://youtu.be/wANqx_MxwmQ

meet the author

Victoria Sue:

Wrote her first book on a dare from her hubby two years ago and he says he has regretted it every day since. Loves writing about gorgeous boys loving each other the best, and especially with either a paranormal or a historical twist. Had a try at writing contemporary but failed spectacularly when it grew four legs and a tail. Loves her wolves!

Is an English northern lass but is currently serving twenty to life in Florida – unfortunately, she spends more time chained at her computer than on a beach.

Loves to hear from her readers and can be found most days lurking on facebook.

www.victoriasue.com

@vickysuewrites

https://www.facebook.com/victoriasueauthor/– sign up for my newsletter and download a free story The Wrong Alpha

 

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

Bloggers and Authors, Can’t We All Just Get Along???

Here’s the deal. This blog post is likely not going to be the most complimentary to authors, and bloggers. I’ve been known to be honest, perhaps too honest, but we need to talk about all this! The intent of the post though is to try to find some common ground, and realize that we are all on this journey together.

Dear Authors,

We love you; readers, bloggers, other authors, we all love you! But sometimes you can be assholes. I’ll come back to that later.

Dear Bloggers,

We love you (a little self-love here); readers, authors, and even other bloggers, we love you! But sometimes you can be assholes.

**BTW, this is blog post is a reminder to myself, as well.**

Okay, now I have said it…let’s see what’s going on here.

There is so much tension, so much unsaid between authors and bloggers right now. And we need to get it out there, open up a dialogue, and realize that we are both doing the things we do because we love this genre, and we want to see it succeed, thrive and grow. However, sometimes those things cause that tension to grow, which benefits no one.

I’m going to start with bloggers, because I am one, and I understand a little of where they come from. Bloggers, you aren’t creating world peace. I had a trainer once tell me, “It’s just X…you aren’t changing the world”. Let’s remember, it’s just books, we aren’t changing the world.

You have every right to request things a certain way, it is your blog. If you want ARCs only sent as an epub, for instance, that is absolutely your right. However, it is certainly the author’s right to refuse that request, or to require that it be sent directly to your device. If you get mad, bash an author, even behind closed doors, you are doing yourself no favors. Work with the author, see if you can compromise. Demanding something, whether its an ARC or something else will give you a reputation you don’t want. Don’t demand something, act like you are bigger than you are, as if authors will not be able to move forward without you, and then expect to be able to get the things you request or want. Authors will talk. They will talk to each other and say “that blog is difficult to work with” or “blog A is much better than blog B because…”.

If you want an exclusive for your blog, ask. Sometimes you will get an excited “Yes!”, and that is great! Sometimes you will get a “No”. Respect that, understand that, then move on.Depositphotos_76358643_m-2015

One of the things, especially in this genre, that we try to stop is bullying, right? We don’t want to see young LGBTQ kids bullied for who they love. As a blogger, don’t be a bully to authors. Demanding what you want or feel you need puts you in a bad place. Reputation is everything, good and bad. Everyone has one. What do you want yours to be?

Now onto authors. I will say the exact same thing. You are not changing the world. As much as you’d like to be seen as John Steinbeck or Jane Austen in 100 years, it isn’t likely. However, you are changing YOUR world, and that is very important. You are creating a place where you have income, and you have people who are excited and happy when you have a new book out. You want to write…a lot. Your readers want you to write…a lot. And bloggers want you to write…a lot.

That means you need to get the word out, and that is what bloggers do. Whether the blogs post a release day promo, a review, or they just go on social media and tell everyone about this great new book, their job is to tell people it’s out there. Which then leaves you to go and do what you want to do more of, write.

And “job” is a relative term. Book blogs don’t make much money, even the bigger ones. The smaller ones may not make any money, and quite often will put their own money into it. (To give you an example, I ran my blog for almost two years before someone finally told me about affiliates, so any giveaways that I put on that weren’t sponsored by authors, I paid for by myself. That is how many blogs operate.) So, authors, understand that. Sometimes you are asking for something huge, when bloggers may not have the time or the resources for it. That doesn’t make them a bad blogger. It may mean that they are overloaded, overwhelmed, and possibly even wondering if they should keep the blog going, because it is draining financially or psychologically.

**As an aside here, as of 3/1, Amazon has drastically reduced the affiliates program so that it is likely most everyone will only make ½ or less of what they made in previous months. So, if affiliates were a big revenue base to draw from for a blog, then their funds are cut at least by 50% or more.

Authors, remember that bloggers do what they do for FREE for you. You do not pay a fee to be featured on their blog (even if you are paying a promo company, they are not paying the blogs). You may be providing an ARC for review, and you may provide a prize or two, but in general, book blogging is done because bloggers love the books, love the authors they read, and they want to bring others into that realm.

In the end, it’s about mutual respect overall. Bloggers, don’t expect that you are the most amazing blog ever, and that authors should fall all over themselves to give you what you are demanding. Authors, understand that bloggers exist to benefit you, and be respectful of the time and hard work they put in.

Let the tension go! Know that so much of that attention is about trying to make sure you meet whatever goal you are trying to meet, and that on the other side, they are trying to do the same. We all want the books we love, and we want them NOW. We need to do our jobs to get them there, and be thankful, respectful and appreciative when everything comes together.

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

TCO Exclusive Guest Post: Victoria Sue – A Five-Minute Valentine

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TCO is so excited!!!! Victoria Sue has offered to do a monthly guest column on Two Chicks Obsessed, and we couldn’t be more thrilled. First, because we absolutely adore this woman…and if and when you meet her, we guarantee you will too. Second, because she always brings the fun, sexy and delicious times. And third…because she is British, and you know that at some point, we will be doing some sort of audio interview. 😉

So, without further ado, Victoria Sue is here with her first guest column, which is a fantastic little bite out of her fantastic new series. Book 1 is called Five Minutes Longer, and if you haven’t read it, grab it now, because you will want to read it as soon as you read her Five-Minute Valentine short.

Enjoy!

 

tco exclusive

A Five-Minute Valentine

 

“So, are you going with the traditional flowers and chocolates, or are you being a bit more creative?”

Talon blinked at Gael, having no earthly idea what he was talking about. “Please don’t tell me you forgot,” Gael said flatly.

Talon paused, his mind going a mile a minute. It wasn’t Finn’s birthday. “Fuck,” he swore succinctly. Fucking Valentine’s day was tomorrow. Gael slapped him on the back, grinning.

“He’s a guy,” Talon said defensively after a few seconds.

“Who’s a guy?” They both glanced up as Vance came down the corridor toward where they were standing outside the medical bay.

“Finn, apparently,” Gael drawled.

“Huh?” Vance looked from one of them to the other in confusion.

“I mean he’s not going to be into all that stuff, flowers and shit,” but even as Talon spoke the words, he knew it was a lie. Gael just raised an eyebrow. Vance barked out a laugh.

“You forgot Valentine’s day.”

“You could just take him out for dinner,” Gael suggested.

“When?” Talon nearly wailed not even attempting to disguise his I know and freely admit I’ve fucked up voice. It was nearly ten p.m. They had just finished up a really long day and they’d all eaten take-out earlier. “He’s going on that crime scene forensics course tomorrow, and I have no idea what time he’s gonna be done.”

“There are one or two places that will be open late in Ybor,” Gael mused. “Although, Friday and Valentine’s Day? It’ll be a zoo.”

Talon nearly growled in frustration. He hated eating out. Hated the stares, the whispers when they saw the mark on his face. The fear and mistrust many didn’t bother to hide. “Gianelli’s,” Vance pronounced naming their favorite Italian restaurant. Gianelli’s had a private back room, and they had originally gone to celebrate Doctor Natalie’s engagement. The doc had gotten Gael the private help he had needed when he was diagnosed with skin cancer and had kept it away from the bureau. When she’d asked them to come, they couldn’t say no. They’d all been eating and suddenly heard the sound of raised voices in the main dining room. It had turned out there was a birthday party going on, except the boyfriend of the birthday girl had objected to her ex thinking he could turn up and it had quickly become a fight. Talon and Vance had just grabbed a man each by the collar and hauled them outside. It had been over and done with in a few seconds, and the owner was so grateful his restaurant hadn’t got wrecked, they’d all drunk complimentary champagne. It was the only place the team ever went to eat out, not including Betty’s Diner.

Talon pulled his phone from his pocket and started dialing the number. Three restaurants later he gave up in disgust. Everywhere was slammed. The others didn’t take bookings but were expecting wait periods of at least an hour and the thought that he had no idea what time Finn was going to be back made the two early slots he was offered impossible to accept.

“Can’t you stop and get him something on the way home?” Vance asked.

“The truck’s in for service. We’re both in Finn’s.” In fact, any second his boyfriend was going to come out of the locker rooms looking for him. As if Finn had heard him, the door opened at the end of the corridor and Finn came out with Sawyer. Finn was laughing, and Sawyer was shaking his head in amusement. Finn looked up, and Talon met his green eyes. Everything in him soothed instantly. He wanted to do something special. He didn’t want to do chocolates and flowers, and yeah, he’d stuffed up the chance of both because he’d forgotten. Forgot Finn was normal, and he was anything but. Forgot his boyfriend was and would always be the very best thing that had ever happened to him. Forgot he wasn’t supposed to take him for granted. His lips curled upwards in the answering smile to Finn’s soft one.

“You done?” Finn said softly and gasped as Talon drew him in close to his body. Finn looked around, alarmed.

“Everyone’s gone home,” Talon murmured desperately wanting a kiss.

“Well, we haven’t,” Sawyer groaned, turning and following a chuckling Vance. Gael threw him a pointed look and then ruffled Finn’s hair.

“Knock ‘em dead, tomorrow, kid.”

Finn’s eyes sparkled, all eager. “I can’t wait.”.

Talon smiled indulgently. He couldn’t imagine anything more boring than discussing the nuances of directional blood-spatter, but he knew Finn had just bought a book by a famous forensics scientist in preparation for the course and Talon had already been lectured by his boyfriend on the value of it. Apparently, the book – Forensics for Fiction – had been written for authors, but Finn had raved about it and had even gotten their boss Gregory interested. Their team didn’t have the experience to handle murders in any way, and to be honest, they were having enough problems with the living, but Gregory was trying as hard as he could to plug all the numerous gaps in their training.

And Finn was an asset Gregory had recognized when he had been too stupid to. No, he had to get Finn something special…

 

 

Talon was fairly pleased with how things were going so far. He’d deliberately turned off Finn’s alarm and woken him up with breakfast in bed. Just a little too late to have Finn worrying about anything other than ramming down his chocolate chip muffin and racing in and out of the shower. He’d arranged for Gael to pick him up as he was still without the truck and after Finn had disappeared in an eager blur, he was showered and ready for Gael when he showed. Gael quizzed him immediately when he’d arrived, but Talon had just said everything was in hand. Gael had grinned and called him a lucky bastard. Which he knew. He had a dozen stops to make when he got his truck back but was waiting outside the training area next to the Tampa PD building when Finn came out of the door. Finn looked in surprise when Gael took his keys from him and promised Finn his “baby” would be safe and sound in their parking garage when he needed it tomorrow. Talon steered a bemused Finn to his truck and got him settled in there.

He started the truck and turned around. “You thought I’d forgotten, didn’t you?”

Finn opened his mouth, then closed it, and Talon smiled at the pink flush that started in his neck. He leaned over and pressed his lips to Finn’s, satisfied when he felt Finn’s hands creep around his back. He pulled back and then nearly—for a split second—thought to hell with the plan and wanted just to drive Finn home and carry him to bed, but he didn’t.

“I hope you’re hungry.”

Fifteen minutes later they pulled up outside Betty’s Diner. “What are we doing here?” Finn asked in astonishment. Talon grinned and jumped down from the truck and was at Finn’s door before he’d recovered from his shock enough to open it. Betty served breakfast and lunch six days a week, closed at 3 p.m., and it was the first place Talon had ever taken Finn to. To be honest, the diner looked closed. All the shutters were down, and it looked like the usual emergency lighting was on when you glanced at the door.

Talon just smiled and clasped Finn’s hand which he almost never did. He led Finn solemnly to the door and opened it. “I screwed up and forgot to book anywhere early enough.”

But Finn didn’t answer. He was too busy staring at the setting inside. Betty stood beaming, but even Talon was impressed at the table. All the smaller tables usually in the middle had been pushed to the side against the booths. The only table left was set up in the middle of the now empty floor. Talon blinked at the snowy white tablecloth and napkins, and the two candles flickering gently. The bottle of champagne he had dropped off earlier was chilling in the ice bucket. There were rose petals sprinkled over the table, and a single rose in a vase next to the candles.

Finn’s hand tightened in his, and he glanced at him quickly. The green eyes he loved shimmered as he stared, and then Finn gazed back at Talon and swallowed.

“It’s beautiful, Betty. Thank you,” Talon said, quietly.

“How?” Finn swallowed, and Talon guided him to the table. Talon didn’t answer because Betty was busy serving the soup. Finn inhaled. “My favorite.”

Betty beamed. “Of course,” and then she sniffed in that what did you expect kind of way. Talon’s belly growled as he smelled Betty’s homemade tomato soup. He’d spent all day worrying about making tonight perfect and hadn’t even thought about eating anything.

“How was your day?” Talon said.

Finn’s face lit up, and Talon listened as Finn eagerly told him what he had learned. They finished their steak and Betty pulled over a cart with some tiny deserts for them to share, and pressed a set of keys into Talon’s hand. “You just lock up when you’re done.” Finn stood up and threw his arms around her, and she chuckled and left them alone.

It was immediately quiet, and Talon swallowed down his suddenly dry throat. “You would be right thinking I forgot about Valentine’s day…I did.” Talon watched the green eyes he loved widen a little at his pronouncement, but then Finn’s face softened, and his smile was back. Gentle, forgiving and sexy as all hell. He was crap at sharing, but Finn deserved the truth and so much more.

“Normal life stopped for me the day I woke up with this.” Talon gestured to his face, then took Finn’s slim hands in his because he needed the touch. “Grandma and Grandad tried, but after Grandad died I stopped bothering.” He shrugged. “I never saw anything worth celebrating.” Finn’s hand tightened in his. “No, that’s not even strictly true. It…” Talon swallowed again, searching for the right words. “It was as if normal life didn’t involve me. Other people had lives. Went to ball games, hell – even dated. So, I didn’t forget exactly. I knew it was Valentine’s day. I just stopped thinking anything like that applied to me.”

Finn’s eyes glittered, and Talon brought Finn’s hand up to his mouth and kissed Finn’s palm. He needed a few seconds to cover his own eyes becoming suspiciously bright. Talon slid a hand into his back pocket and brought out an envelope. He squeezed Finn’s hand before he let go and straightened the envelope a little before handing it over. Finn’s lips parted soundlessly. “Yours is at home.”

Talon understood immediately. “And I bet you would never have said a word about it if I hadn’t.” Finn would never try and make him feel bad. Finn’s lips curled up into the shy smile he loved. “Open it.”

Finn tore the envelope and grinned when he saw the card. He arched an eyebrow. “This is a valentine card?”

Talon chuckled. “I think it’s a birthday card, but I managed to find one with nothing written on it. He watched as Finn read the words Talon had written and saw the lump travel down Finn’s throat.

super hero with heart

“I think this is you, not me,” Finn said quietly. “You’re the one with the super abilities.”

“Come here,” Talon ordered quietly, and Finn got up, and Talon drew him close until he was sitting on his lap. Talon gently raised Finn’s chin with his finger until their eyes met and held. “Every day. Every day you make me a better person. Every day when I can’t love myself, you do it for me. You have the biggest heart of anyone I know, and I don’t know how the hell I ever got so lucky that you make room in it for me.” Talon thumbed the moisture from under Finn’s eyes and captured his lips with his own.

He had gone to five stores before he had found the card he wanted. It had a picture of Superman on it, and Talon could hear the words as he had written them.

“You are my hero. Love is your superpower, and you save me with it every day.”

 

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When the Dust Settles by Mary Calmes: Pre-Release Day Review

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Glenn Holloway’s predictable life ended the day he confessed his homosexuality to his family. As if that wasn’t enough, he then poured salt in the wound by walking away from the ranch he’d grown up on, to open the restaurant he’d always dreamed of. Without support from his father and brother, and too proud to accept assistance from anyone else, he had to start from scratch. Over time things worked out: Glenn successfully built a strong business, created a new home, and forged a life he could be proud of.

Despite his success, his estrangement from the Holloways is still a sore spot he can’t quite heal, and a called-in favor becomes Glenn’s worst nightmare. Caught in a promise, Glenn returns to his roots to deal with his half brother, Rand Holloway, and comes face-to-face with Mac Gentry, a man far too appealing for Glenn’s own good. It could all lead to disaster—disaster for his tenuous reconnection with his family and for the desire he didn’t know he held in his heart.

Title: When the Dust Settles
Series: Timing: Book Three
Author: Mary Calmes
Release Date: November 16, 2016
Category: Western
Pages: 107

buy now

Amazon

ARe

Dreamspinner Press

 

jennifer
Ooooh, Mary Calmes… do you ever write anything less than perfect, literary adventures? If so, I’ve yet to read it….. First, let me say that I was given a copy of this book by the publisher in promise to leave an honest review; but those of you who follow my reviews, know that there is no other way I can review. I tend to be a bit ranty at times…. It’s just how it is…. Also, take note that there may be some mild spoilers…

In this one we have Glenn. It took me a minute to remember him from Stef and Rand’s book, but remember him I did. I also felt incredibly sad for him; he didn’t fit in with his family now that the big secret came out in the last book, (which I won’t spoil because if you haven’t read the last two… .pause this review and go read them! You need a little Stef and Rand in your life… everyone does!)
Although I could see where he was coming from and the notice in their relationships were different I did feel like he was a bit guarded and on edge; he was defensive and like Zach said, he was a bit sensitive. He took things to heart, thought they were insulting when the other guys didn’t mean it that way at all….Like I said, I felt for him, I could see where he was coming from but I just wanted to shake them all and make them COMMUNICATE lol it could have gotten the confusion and misinterpretations handled.

Then we had Mac; remember him? Rough around the edges and tough as nails? Well, Glenn didn’t know he was gay but sure enough, he’s not only gay but he’s had a thing for Glenn for a good long time; but it was almost impossible to get close to Glenn until Stef called in a favor and had Glenn going out on a cattle job with the group he’d fought so hard to keep a distance from.

It was hot, how Mac made Glenn change his perception on what it meant to be gay and the stereotypes he’d fit into. I liked that once Glenn let his guard down and started letting people in, we got back to the characters we know and love, like Rand and Mac.
Shout out to Richard Jenner in this one too; I love little crossover cameo’s like that….

Overall, this is your typical Mary Calmes goodness. You have hot possessive, alpha men; down and dirty sex and a little bit of sweet that’s just enough to make these guys the perfect husbands.
My only complaint is that I wish it was longer; but it could have been 600 pages and I’d felt the same way. Loved it!
I can’t wait to read more about these two and well….. all of the guys at The Red Diamond.

Forever a fan! 5 pieces of eye candy!

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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.

Monthly Author Column: Avon Gale recaps GRL

Featured Author Avon Gale

 

Guest Post

So, a few weeks ago I attended my first GRL! The only other romancelandia con I’d been to was RT in Vegas last April, and wow, this was a totally different experience. And I had a good time at RT, it was definitely an eye-opening, interesting and worth-while experience…but GRL was all of that AND MORE! I had an awesome time, and I’m definitely planning to go again next year.

 
This year, GRL was in Kansas City – which just so happens to be about a 2 hour drive for me. I live in Columbia, which is halfway between St. Louis and Kansas City, so! Super convenient. I came up on Wednesday with a bonus! Piper Vaughn, who’d been chilling at my house that week since Mr. Gale was off for a conference of his own in San Francisco (on like, mobile banking, so not nearly as fun as mine). My roommate was the lovely Carrie Pack, who I’d met at RT and chatted with online a little. We luckily got along really well and shared a mutual love of mocking House Hunters, so that was great.

 
I signed up as a Supporting Author this year, and I’m glad that I did that – it was a great way to both be involved and learn about the conference. The supporting author signing on Thursday was awesome, I love getting to meet readers! I almost fainted when one of my favorite authors, Lisa Henry, stopped by and got a copy of “Let the Wrong Light In” for me to sign. !!! I tried to play it cool and probably failed, after babbling something about how she was a huge inspiration to me as a writer (I love how she can write so many different moods and types of stories and they’re all awesome). I did the same thing to Jordan Castillo Price, who I was so nervous to meet! If you’ve met me, you know I’m super friendly and will talk to just about anyone. But Jordan is one of my favorite authors and her Psy-Cop series was among my first reads in original M/M fiction. So meeting her was totally awesome, and I’m not going to lie – I actually got a little teary-eyed. But there are reasons for that! Other than me being a weirdo who gets nervous around her favorite authors, I mean.

 
(Lisa Henry and Jordan Castillo Price are both immensely lovely ladies, gracious and fun and I’m so glad I got to meet them! All this awkwardness is on the part of yours truly, let me just get that out there.)

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Anyway, something happened between the author signing and my author lounge session that was very significant, and why I got sort of teary-eyed talking to an author I admired so much. I was going down to the conference area and I got off on the wrong floor of the hotel, and ended up…amongst other conference people, dressed in business casual and carrying folders and laptops (meanwhile, I’m in a skull dress with a bow on it, and above-the-knee red boots, carrying a box of buttons with fake hockey logos and a package of rainbow Twizzlers). “Oops,” I thought, (or said out loud, probably, knowing me), “This is not where I’m supposed to be.”
I’d been there before, though. I’d been to conferences during the ten years of my development/fundraising career, and I know they were supposed to be fun and revitalize my love for my career and all of that. But somehow they never did, and while I always loved traveling, I never had that spark of enthusiasm for what I was doing. So I couldn’t help thinking about how incredibly happy I was to be “on the wrong floor”, so to speak. Here I was, doing what I loved and at a conference full of readers and writers who share the same passion for books as I do. It was a wonderful moment of feeling like I was in the right place at the right time, and I think that’s why I got a bit emotional saying hello to Jordan. I had no idea when I first started reading her books that one day I’d get to meet her, and as a reader and as a fellow author. It was a cool moment.

 
Another cool moment came on Saturday night, when I got to watch an ECHL hockey game surrounded by other GRL-goers! And the Mavericks won, so that made it even better. There’s nothing like live hockey!

 
All in all, I had a wonderful experience at GRL and I’m so glad I went. It was lovely to meet so many wonderful people, and one of my favorite author experiences thus far – even if I didn’t win a single game of Bingo 😉  TCO note: I’m not sure anyone actually won at Bingo…I feel like it was rigged. 😉

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

Montly Author Column: Nicola Haken with Exclusive Excerpt

Obsessed_with_Nicola

 

Hey, fantabulous people! If you’re reading this then I guess that means Denise hasn’t friend-divorced me for being so behind with this month’s post. I’d like to suggest we switch it to a random ramblings post rather than a monthly post because, well, I’m clearly shit and unreliable. I’d like to say the delay is because I’ve been busy leading the life of a high flying celebrity author, jet-setting around the globe, getting accosted by my adoring fans and being pampered by half naked men wearing little more than oiled-up muscles and bowties. But the truth is, my kids have been driving me crazy, we’ve been having house renovations done, and, well, I’ve been trying to think of something to talk about that wouldn’t send you to sleep.

That’s where the helpful guys who attended Teodora Kostova’s release day party for A Sip of Rio came in! I got them, okay, okay, I begged them, to ask me some questions that I could answer in this post so that Denise wouldn’t kick my arse and tell me I was no longer welcome on her blog. I can’t afford to lose Denise as my friend. She sends me nice cakes in the mail.

So, here they are!

Erin: What made you switch from writing the Souls of the Knight series- rock and porn stars, low angst, etc to something like Counting Daisies which was full of angst, dark with lots of triggers?

Honestly? Confidence. I was so nervous entering the MM genre and there was definitely an element of ‘playing it safe’, even if I didn’t realise it at the time. I didn’t know if anyone would take a chance on me, or if I’d be any good, or if I’d match up to this genre of amazing authors who I already read and admired every single day. I’ll always love my Souls boys, but I was still very much a newbie writer then, despite having written several MF books beforehand. It was the MM genre that really welcomed me as an author. It’s the place I met most of the greatest friends I’ve made in this business, where I discovered the most valuable professional relationships I’ve formed, all the advice and encouragement I needed to help me grow as a writer. And I have. I grow and learn with every book I write. I feel myself getting better with each story, and that’s why I now have the courage to write whatever ideas start burning away in the back of my head. And I’m also lucky enough to know I have so many amazing readers that continue to support me every time I release something new. I can’t even begin to describe how that feels. It blows my mind!

Jennifer: Was it as hard for you writing Counting Daisies and Broken as it was for us readers to read? Well ok for me to read.

I hope I don’t sound like a heartless cow when I say no! I have no idea why, but angst just seems to pour from my brain like water from a tap. I totally lose myself in really gritty, heart wrenching scenes. When I’m writing I act the story out in my head. I see my characters like they’re in a movie, and I’m playing whoever’s perspective I’m writing at the time. I’m with them. I am them. I’m right there with them and I feel everything they’re going through and let it all out into words. Which doesn’t sound fun, but I really enjoy it! Maybe I’m a little twisted! When I’m reading an angsty book written by another author though, holy hell THEY are hard for me to read. I’m a total ugly crier. But again, I love those kind of books!

Evie: What inspired you the most when writing Counting Daisies seeing as it was such a change from your other stories?

Counting Daisies came to me in a true light bulb moment while listening to Let Her Go by Passenger. It wasn’t so much the lyrics, although song lyrics often inspire whole stories in my mind, it was little more than a vision of a broken guy sat playing a guitar and an entire story spiralled from there. I was nervous about this one, though. People might not understand Dylan and his choices. He made lots of mistakes, bad ones, and I knew I couldn’t expect everyone to understand or forgive him for those. If I’m honest, I might’ve been one of those people once upon a time. But there was so much more to this one than simply writing out the thoughts that came into my head. Dylan’s story is fictional, but addiction is a reality for many, so research and representation was extremely important to me. I read true-life stories, and even spoke to a young woman who has been through Dylan’s struggles, and those are the people who truly inspired me. I’m glad I told his story. I’m grateful to everyone who took a chance on Dylan and Cameron, and I’m thrilled, once again, by the positive reaction I’ve had to it.

Racheal: Broken meant a lot to me cause it touched on a topic that many authors never wrote about but now I see a lot more opening up on the topic? Broken by far was my favorite of your books!

Thank you so much! I’m seeing a lot more books being written about mental health too and I think it’s a great thing. Maybe they’ve always been there and I simply didn’t notice them before, but either way, I think it’s important that they’re out there, that people are talking about them, that people have something to read that they can relate to. I don’t think I will ever be prouder of any book I ever write than I am of Broken. The response I had to James and Theo’s story continues to amaze me every single day. Mental illness feels like you’re trapped in such a lonely place that nobody understands. But from the amount of messages, emails, reviews, and support I’ve received/seen since releasing that book, I can see it’s not such a lonely place after all. I’ll always be grateful to Broken, and to every single person who’s read and supported my guys.

Oor Janie: Do the Souls of the Knight guys get a Christmas book one year!??

I know how much you love your Christmas stories! But confession time, I’ve still never even read a Christmas book! So I’m not sure how to write one! But…never say never!

Racheal: Will you be doing any sequels to Counting Daisies or Broken?

I keep getting asked both of these questions and the answer is – Broken, I have no immediate plans to, but as I said to Janie above, never say never! Counting Daisies – YES! I don’t have a date yet because I’m currently working on a brand new story about brand new characters, but Paul and Derek WILL be getting their own story some time next year, and I can promise that it will be a lot more light-hearted than Counting Daisies. Because really, could Paul and Derek be anything less than fun, awkward, and a whole lot sarcastic?!

Kristian: When did you know writing was what you truly wanted to pursue?

I hear most writers say when they get asked this question that they’ve always loved writing, and that they’ve been readers for as long as they can remember. I’m not one of those writers! I can honestly say my favourite subject at school was English, and that I was pretty awesome at it. It was the only subject that I graduated with A*’s in even though I skipped school as often as I could because I hated it. English just came naturally to me, and when I’m interested in something I have a photographic memory that retains information after only seeing/being told something once. (Excuse me while I go and deflate my ego. Okay, I’m back.)

But once I left school, I had no desire to pursue anything that resembled school-type learning any further, so I didn’t actually read another book all the way to the end until I was in my late twenties…and that was only because my sister-in-law pestered me until the point reading it was easier than having to listen to her any longer! That book was Twilight (don’t judge me, okay?) and Oh. My. God. I became unconditionally and irrevocably in love with reading, from that day on (A fellow TwiHard will know what I did there 😉 )

Naturally, as a brand new reading addict, I polished off the whole Twilight Saga in a few days before moving onto, cough*Fifty Shades*cough, (we agreed no judging, remember?) Then I bought a Kindle, let my family forage for food scraps in the bins while I spent my days with a Paperwhite stuck to my face. Then one day I thought, I fancy a go at this writing malarkey myself! And so I did. I took myself back to my childhood when I’d spend hours acting out made-up movie scenes with my Barbie dolls, and let my imagination run wild.

I’m sure my mum thought I was stupid, and I can’t really blame her. I’ve had a lot of whimsical ideas in the past! But I did it anyway, and I kept on doing it, and honestly, looking back I was seriously crap at it. But the difference between writing and all the other jobs and dreams I’ve had in the past is that I really, really loved doing it. As soon as I wrote my very first sentence I knew I wanted to do it forever. I didn’t know, then, that I’d ever be able to make a career out of it – that’s just a bonus that I doubt I’ll ever quite understand how it happened and one that I’ll be eternally grateful for – but I knew I had to pursue it. It was the best decision I ever made, and it’s all thanks to Keeley, my sister-in-law, her love for Twilight and her persistent nagging!

Amy: I love Souls of the Knight series, anymore from them? And would you ever write maybe a younger/older book? Possibly?

Firstly, thank you! This is a popular question! I’ve never considered returning to my Souls guys, but so many of you are asking and it’s starting to make little ideas tickle around in my brain. Sooo….I don’t know. Maybe?! Do you mean a younger guy/older guy couple? I’d maybe write that if those voices came into my head. I never know what stories will appear in this overloaded brain of mine! Sometimes all it takes is a certain song, an advert on TV, a movie, seeing someone in the street, a dream… or I can be lying in bed thinking about what I’m going to make for dinner the next day and BOOM – new idea! But I’d give anything a whirl if it came into my mind- except YA. I think I swear way too fucking much for that.

Jennie: Looking forward to more from the Souls of the Night series. Are you working on one now??

Again, SO MUCH LOVE FOR MY SOULS GUYS! Thank you! I’m not right now…but maybe one day!

Thank you to every single one of you who came to Teodora’s party and saved my arse by asking me these questions! I love you guys! While I’m here, I want to take the opportunity to address something I’ve been asked several times over on Goodreads and via email too. That question is, will Tess from Broken be getting her own book?

This is a tough one for me and I’ve um’d and ah’d about it for a long time. Truthfully, I’d love to give Tess her own book, and I do have plans to release a couple of FF books in the future. However, I know FF is a whole new genre and that many of my readers don’t read it. Girly parts in books are a big no-no for a lot of MM readers, which is okay, we all have our preferences and that’s what makes life, and reading, interesting! But I wouldn’t want to give off any excitement over a Broken sequel only to leave some people disappointed when they discovered it was a FF story. So my answer is…possibly. I’m just not sure how to market it. I need time to think about it, as I do with the other FF story ideas floating around in my head right now. Let’s see what the future brings!

But for now, Oliver and Sebastian will be up next in Who We Are, coming early 2017. You can add it to your Goodreads TBR (if you want to, that is!) here:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32493413-who-we-are

 

tco exclusive

In the meantime, here’s an exclusive excerpt to be getting on with!

~Sebastian~

I wanted to skip into work the next day singing, dancing, and maybe even twirl June around a few times, too. But seeing as I overslept and arrived an hour late I figured I’d best walk in with my head down and force a croak into my voice instead.

If I was going to lie, I needed to sound believable. “Up all night I was, June,” I said, rubbing my stomach. It wasn’t a total lie. I didn’t get much sleep…just not because of a dodgy stomach. After devouring Oliver, or rather, letting him devour me in more positions than I even knew existed, we just…talked. For hours we lay awake and discussed anything and everything. He told me about his first boyfriend, how he got into hairdressing, shared his coming out story – which wasn’t actually news to his mother, apparently.

He told me about the months when he mum was sick, and how life changed when she passed away. I found out about Tyler, about the problems Oliver had been having with him lately, and he told me how difficult he found parenting but that he wouldn’t swap a single second of it – something I understood completely.

By the time I eventually drifted to sleep, that strange pull in my chest had grown even stronger, dragging me impossibly closer to the man whose head rested soundly over my heart.

“Think it’s food poisoning,” I added. “But here I am, soldiering on.”

“Oh you poor thing.”

Frowning, I nodded slowly. I deserved a frigging award.

“Hmm. You do look a little green.” Clearly, she needed a new glasses prescription, but I kept my gob shut. “Well you can’t go out on the road. You should be in bed.”

“Nah, I’m fine. I’m a trooper. I’ll power through.”

She gave me a stern mother look, ticking her finger from side to side. “You will not, young man. You might be willin’ to put your own life at risk but you’re not the only driver on those roads. Either go home, or I’ll get Steve to put you on warehouse duty for the day.”

Shit. I hadn’t thought this master plan through. I hated the warehouse, and most of the morons who worked in it. “Okay, here’s the deal, June,” I said, leaning against the Perspex partition above her station after scanning the office for eavesdroppers. “I’m not sick. I’m seeing someone, and we didn’t hear the alarm. You know how it is when it’s all new and exciting, right? But shhh, I don’t want the guys to know yet.”

She pushed her thick glasses up her nose, her weathered lips forming an ‘O’. “Ooo, it’s not that Penny off nights is it? I was only sayin’ to Zoe t’other day I think she’s got ‘er eye on you.”

You had to love June, almost as much as she loved to gossip. I’d miss the old bird when she retired next year.

“No, not Penny.” We are who we are, and that’s okay. Oliver’s words fresh in my mind, I dragged in a deep breath and spoke before I chickened out. “His name’s Oliver.”

If her jaw had fallen open any wider her teeth would’ve dropped out. It was no secret that June had false gnashers. She popped them out every lunchtime and set them on a napkin next to her keyboard while she ate her dinner.

“D’you know my friend Marjory’s first husband was one o’ them whatdyamacallits…a transvestite.”

Um…okaaaaay.

“She comes home from bingo one night and there he is in her best knickers and the underskirt she bought specially for her Karen’s weddin’. Took the shine right off winning sixty smackers at the bingo, I can tell ya. His name was Frank. Do you know him?”

I bit down on my tongue to stop myself from laughing. “Um, nope. Don’t think I know a Frank.”

“Hmm. Thought you might now you’re mixin’ in the same circles.”

Yep, because every bisexual knows every cross-dresser. Oh, June. I did love her.

“Well, good luck to you. Live and let live, that’s what I say,” she said, squinting at the computer screen as she tapped the keyboard.

I smiled even though she wasn’t looking at me. It was grateful smile, a relieved smile…a proud smile, and in that moment, life felt pretty damn perfect.

“Thanks, June. That means a lot to me.”

“Don’t thank me yet, darlin’. I gave your run to Rod because you weren’t here, which was goin’ to leave us in the crapper for Glasgow but…” she trailed off, rose from her chair and grabbed a set of keys from the cabinet on the wall. “But now you’re on that, and there’s been an accident on the M6.”

“Great,” I said, saturating the word in sarcasm. It seemed I had a longarse day ahead, one that could possibly turn into an overnighter, and all because I’d missed my stupid alarm. Still it was worth every second of the extra minutes I got to spend in bed with Oliver, and absolutely nothing could dampen my day when my phone pinged with a Facebook notification as I made my way through the warehouse to my wagon.

Facebook: Oliver Clayton accepted your friend request.

Yep, today was a perfect day.

Copyright © Nicola Haken 2016

As always, thank you for reading, thank you to Two Chicks Obsessed for having me, and you can keep up with me and my ramblings by following my social media or signing up to my newsletter!

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Gideon by Ashe Barker : Guest Post, Excerpt and Blog Tour

gideonfs_v2synopsis

Gideon Maybury enjoys a life of wealth and privilege, not to mention the advantages his position offers him in his career as a merchant banker and his less public life as a high-class, skilled, and very well-paid assassin for Her Majesty’s government. When his brother dies unexpectedly, he becomes the Duke of Westmoreland.

Michael Mathison has hated Gideon since they were at university together. He’s convinced Gideon had a hand in the death of Michael’s college lover, Christopher, and that he had something to do with the death of his own brother. So he gets a job as Gideon’s driver, enabling him to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of the elder Maybury sibling. At first his suspicions seem to be confirmed, but clues emerge that suggest all is not as it appears at Maybury Hall.

As the mystery deepens, so does the attraction between the two implacable enemies, as does the feeling that they have met before—under dark and terrible circumstances. Each has reasons not to trust the other, but neither is averse to a bit of kinky play. Gideon and Michael end up owing each other their lives, and it results in consequences neither could have imagined.

Title: Gideon
Series: Order of the Black Knights
Author: Ashe Barker
Release Date: October 5, 2016
Category: Mystery/Suspense, Erotic Romance
Pages: 200

Guest Post

 Gideon went on general release on 5 October and marks the start of The Order of the Black Knights series from Dreamspinner Press. Readers can expect to see a new full length story every month, each featuring a different Knight as he grapples his demons, past and present.

Although Gideon is very much a contemporary novel, all the Black Knights have their roots in the past. We first encounter Gideon as a military commander in the trenches of World War One, where he demonstrates his ruthless nature with brutal efficiency. That scene is built around a piece of historical folklore – the Christmas Eve truce of 1914. I chose this as it was such a well-known event, and whenever I write about a historical setting I like to underpin the story with some real facts which readers will recognize.

Gideon shows his true colors on that battlefield, so when we meet him again a hundred years later it’s no surprise to discover that the most recent incarnation of the man might be sexy as hell but he’s every bit as dangerous as he ever was. Gideon is a cold-hearted killer, but murdering his own brother? Would even Gideon Maybury go to such lengths to remove an obstacle? At least one man believes he would and Gideon’s nemesis makes it his business to prove it.

The attraction which flares between the two from the moment they meet complicates matters, but the outcome will be the same. Or will it?

And a bit more about The Order of the Black Knights series:

Every century has seen its knights, but they are not always seen. Some of them do what must be done—getting their hands dirty when no one else is willing. Assassins and antiheroes who work from the shadows, they are called the Black Knights. From the time of the society’s creation in the 1100s, these men are cursed to repeat their lives of bloodshed. But for each knight, there is one who can bring out the man that waits inside and break the cycle. The question is whether or not the knight will kill his true love before he figures it out.

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excerpt

The door to suite seven zero one was ajar as Michael reached it. He entered without knocking.

Gideon had also taken off his jacket, and it dangled over the back of a chair. He removed his starched cuffs and dropped the gold cuff links onto the dressing table as Michael walked into the bedroom. Gideon smiled and crossed the room to greet him, which he did with a kiss.

The kiss was wet, warm, and open-mouthed. Gideon plunged his tongue between Michael’s lips to play and tease. Michael responded in kind, tangled his tongue around Gideon’s, and used it to explore the moist cavern of his mouth. It was Gideon who broke the kiss.

“That shirt’s worth a fucking fortune. Take it off before I rip it.”

“You too.” Michael was already pulling the soft cotton from his shoulders. He folded the shirt loosely and dropped it onto a chair. Then he remembered to extract the cuff links, which soon joined Gideon’s on the dressing table. He sat on the bed to remove his shiny patent shoes—also supplied by the formal wear hire company—along with his socks. As he stood to unbutton his trousers, Gideon’s leer was wicked. Naked already, Gideon had his fist wrapped around his cock and was already pumping the shaft into swollen, granite-hard readiness.

Michael dropped his trousers but didn’t just kick them aside. He picked them up and folded those too, and then laid them on top of his shirt. He sat on the bed and propped himself against the pillows to watch Gideon’s solo performance.

The duke was well hung—bloody magnificent, in fact. Michael licked his lips and remembered the taste of that slick, wide head in his mouth. Gideon’s juices were salty, and the tang was still memorable. He wanted more.

“Come here,” he ordered.

Gideon shook his head. “My turn this time. You got to swallow my jizz yesterday. Tonight I get yours.”

Michael wasn’t about to argue. He lay back and gestured with the fingertips of both his hands—a come-hither signal. At last Gideon obeyed.

Gideon crawled up the length of the bed until his shoulders were between Michael’s thighs. He grasped Michael’s cock, dipped his head to flick the shiny head with the tip of his tongue, and then lapped at the juices that wept from the slit. Michael groaned and raised himself on his elbows. His head dropped back between his shoulder blades.

“Christ,” he moaned. “This is going to be quick.”

“Maybe,” agreed Gideon. “Maybe not.” He trailed his tongue around the ridge and then along the delicate underside of Michael’s rock-solid erection. As Michael groaned and writhed, Gideon tightened his grip and took the entire head into his mouth. He sucked on it, and scraped lightly with his teeth as Michael arched his back and thrust his hips upward in a vigorous, desperate rhythm.

“Keep still,” Gideon growled. “My show now.”

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meet the author

Ashe whiles away her time in the wilds of West Yorkshire, in the north of England, writing smutty books and drinking Earl Grey tea. At the last count she had over thirty titles on general release, many featuring BDSM, always hot, with complex characters and compelling plots. Ashe writes MM and Mf, contemporary and historical, with the occasional threesome thrown in.

When not writing Ashe enjoys messing around with digital photography, reading erotic stories, pole dancing (though not especially well), walking her dogs, and listening to Bon Jovi. Loud.

www.ashebarker.com

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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?

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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. 😉

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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.