Excerpts

Love Spell by Mia Kerick: Exclusive Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Exclusive Excerpt from Love Spell

by Mia Kerick

I put what you might call mega-supreme effort into choosing my outfit for tonight. End result: I look kinda fab—thankfully, not so much ratchet, although I am rocking mean side bangs. Torn black jeggings, an oversized baby-pink hoodie saying, “Real Men Wear Pink,” and my bubblegum-colored Chuck Taylors. I’ve applied a touch of guyliner, but I was liberal with the Cherry ChapStick.

Overall effect? I look fabulous enough to meet the Queen of England. Which just so happens to be on my bucket list.

When I get to Jazz’s place, I park the car, pinch my cheeks, and momentarily wonder if I should have gone for a more sophisticated look— silky gray button-down shirt and black pointy-toed boots, my hair thrown up in a casual man bun. But it’s too late for that now. I get out of the car and stand in front of Jazz’s apartment building.

Pop, shrug, and stare… First things first.

I climb the stairs.

Is this a date? Or is it merely two dudes hanging out?

I knock five times.

Seems like the right number of knocks.

I stop and wait.

The door swings open, and I’m presented with the tear-filled eyes of a familiar little brown-haired girl.

“Hiya… J-Jazz told me to answer the door.” She sucks in a deep wobbly breath. “C-cuz he’s cleaning up the nail polish.” Her next breath seems to cause her entire chest to swell up. And then she releases a sob.

“Hey, kid, what’s the matter?”

“I sp-spilled all of the…the Orange-Orange nail polish…o-on the living r-room rug.”

“That is a disaster, truly.” I speculate on whether she’s upset the Orange-Orange polish is now gone or that it made a mess on the rug. I make my best guess. “Do you have a lemon-yellow nail polish and a cherry-red? Cuz if you do, I can make you JoJo Takes a Chance Orange polish. I’ve done it before.”

“JoJo Takes a Chance Orange nail polish?” She examines me quite skeptically while tugging on one tiny pigtail. “Why the ‘takes a chance’ part?”

“Cuz my name is Chance, and if you give me a chance, I think I can make you a color way better than Orange-Orange. I’ll make you a color even better than my hair!” Okaaaayyyy…so my claim might be a slight exaggeration seeing as my tangerine locks totes rock, but I’ll say anything to stop her tears.

With that, JoJo takes my hand and pulls me urgently down the hall.

In the living room, Jazz is on his knees bent over a wet spot on the floor, scrubbing away with a Hello Kitty toothbrush. He looks up at me. “I told JoJo to let you in. I’m busy trying to put an end to a crisis.”

I step closer to look down at the spot he’s working to remove on the gray rug, thinking I have the very same toothbrush hanging in my bathroom at home. Okaaaaay…so maybe I don’t miss the way his biceps tighten up with his efforts. I’m not blind. “I think you got the stain up.”

Jazz nods. “Problem is, we don’t have no more…um…bunches of oranges nail polish, or whatever, and I think JoJo’s heart mighta’ been set on it.” He looks desperate. “Don’t spaz, Jo. I can paint your nails blue. You’re into the color blue, right?”

I turn to JoJo, who just so happens to be glaring at her brother. “It’s almost Halloween, Jasper! Blue won’t work!

Time to step in and save a couple of asses. “Go get your nail polish—you have red and yellow, right?”

The girl nods at me seriously.

“And if you have any gold tones with glitter, or even shiny silver, grab them too. And a plastic cup, if you have one, and a couple of toothpicks.”

She runs off to do my bidding, and I call after her, “Bring clear polish, too! A topcoat is the secret to a lasting manicure!”

Finally Jazz stands, still looking down at the wet spot on the rug.

“Whatcha gonna do, Chance?”

“I’m gonna save the freaking day.” Jazz looks bewildered, so I add more slowly, “I’m going to give JoJo a manicure.”

For the next hour, I occupy myself with blending various polishes together in a tiny paper cup, helping JoJo stir it up with toothpicks until we have the perfect shade of orange, and finally painting her fingernails JoJo Takes a Chance Orange. Jazz sits beside us on the floor as we work at the coffee table. He’s very quiet and keeps looking back and forth from JoJo to me.

When I’m finished, JoJo stands up, spins around twice, and fans her fingers in front of her. “This color is way better than Orange-Orange! This color is…so glittery!” She prances around the very plain living room, and it looks like so much fun I’m tempted to join in. “JoJo Takes a Chance Orange is the best color in the world!”

“Try the universe, hun.” I wink at her.

Jazz appears more baffled than usual, but he still manages to instruct his sister, “Well, don’t mess it up, Jo. Sit down on the couch and stay still”—he hands her the remote—“and watch them Dalmatians ’til I fix ya supper.” He sneaks a glance at me. “You can watch 101 Dalmatians with JoJo if ya feel like it. She’s kind of obsessed by Cruella de Vil these days.”

Although I have my own private obsession with Cruella de Vil, I shake my head and follow Jazz into the kitchen.

“Was thinkin’ maybe I’d make pizza tonight.” His face turns pink, and it hits me he’s embarrassed.

“Can I help you with it?” Make-your-own-dinner-night is nothing new to me. Jazz’s face grows still brighter. Its hue now approaches an appealing fuchsia that brings to mind pink Starbursts, which everyone knows are the best ones. (Sorry, yellow Starbursts.)

“Hangin’ out here can’t be no fun for you. I bet you wish you didn’t even come over.”

I send him a baffled glance of my own, which is a first. “I was thinking pretty much the exact opposite of what you just said.”

“Chance, you got all dressed up nice, and ya smell real good, and ya came here, probably thinkin’ we’d watch a Rated R movie and get take-out Chinese, or something cool like that. But you get here and get stuck paintin’ a little girl’s nails, and then you have to eat homemade pizza and watch 101 Dalmatians.

“I want to eat homemade pizza.”

“Dunno why.”

To be candid or not to be candid, that is the question.

Don’t give it all away, Chance, you are so-o-o not an open book. But…but Jazz looks so sad.

“Jazz, usually I eat take-out food alone in my bedroom. Believe me, eating homemade pizza with you and JoJo will be a treat.”

Jazz is easy to read. He tilts his head and studies me, probs wondering why I eat my meals alone in my room. “’Kay.”

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Author Q&A: Karen Botha + Excerpt & Giveaway!

Please welcome Karen Botha to The Blogger Girls!

What does your family think of your writing?

My husband supports me more than I support myself to the point where he gets involved with plots, he reads everything I put out before it goes to anyone else, he also does a lot of the admin work I don’t have the time for and he manages my adverts. He’s amazing.

And his mum, who lives in South Africa is the same. She paid $85 including postage to get my first book sent out to her because she wanted to read it and doesn’t understand the kindle app on her phone. That’s when their salary out there is about $200 per week.

I’m a lucky girl.

Tell us about your current work in process and what you’ve got planned for the future.

From 3rd September I decided to launch one book a week until Christmas. The first of these was Commitment 1: Buckle Up all the way through to Commitment 6: Pole Position.

After that, Daisy from the Commitment series of books will feature in an Urban romance series called Love. The first of the series is named after her, Daisy. We’ll follow her life and understand more about what was going on in Commitment 5:Turbo Charged.

Do you have any advice for all the aspiring writers out there?

Oh yes, and it’s not like I’ve made it, but what I’ve learned so far is to write what you love. Don’t let anyone tell you what you should be doing. You’re the one who has to spend limitless hours with the characters, because it’s not just about getting them down on paper, it’s also the thinking time, dreaming time, insomnia. Yep, you get it, so write in a genre that makes you happy.

Oh, and then. Get. An. Editor. A kick-ass one. Do not compromise. And no, I’m not giving you mine because I love her.

If you could travel forward or backward in time where would you go and why?

I’m sorry, this sounds smug, but I’m so happy, I don’t want to leave my life. I have a great husband, a job that pays enough whilst allowing me the flexibility to write for hours on end. And I have my rescue dog Shadow who keeps me company while I do it. Can I stay where I am please?

We’ve all got a little voyeurism in us right?  If you could be a fly on the wall during an intimate encounter between two characters, not your own, who would they be?

Well, these aren’t characters, but seeing Teresa May and Donald Trump getting it on would be hilarious. Or was that a serious question?

If I were snooping around your kitchen and looked in your refrigerator right now, what would I find?

Oops, you’ve got me. About four bottles of wine, a champagne that one of my clients bought me to celebrate the launch of Buckle Up. A pack of chicken breasts are also loitering in there that we were supposed to be using two days ago for Fajitas and didn’t. Erm, some milk. And a load of ingredient type stuff like chipotle sauce, pesto, that kind of thing because I love to cook from scratch.

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Butterfly Hunter by Julie Bozza: Exclusive Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Exclusive Excerpt from Butterfly Hunter

by Julie Bozza

A polite request in his English accent and a winsome smile earned Nicholas a pot of tea delivered with a wink – in response to which Nicholas beamed up at their waitress happily. Suzie stood there with a bit of sass in her posture as she considered the man in turn. “Ah, Davey, you can bring this one back any time you like.”

“Developing a thing for Poms, are you?” Dave asked with mock sourness.

“With that smile, who cares what flavour he is?”

“That smile?” Dave echoed blankly, having to think for a moment to work out what was wrong with the sentence. Then he got it. “Those smiles,” he corrected her. “The man has a whole repertoire.”

“Does he indeed … ?” She sounded intrigued.

But Nicholas’s attention had been caught by Dave. As he gazed across the rickety old cafe table, his smile turned wistful – though when he spoke, he addressed Suzie. “I would have thought you’d be encouraging David to return for his sake, not for mine.”

“Ah,” she grieved, taking a metaphorical step back, and snapping her chewing gum. “That’s how it is, is it? Well, mate, Davey here is no use to either of us, I’m afraid. He’s strictly a one–woman man.”

Dave tried not to splutter in protest. “We broke up ages ago! A year or more!”

“What’s that got to do with anything?”

“She’s –” Dave was having second thoughts, but said it anyway, glancing at Nicholas with a plea for rescue. “Denny’s married with a kid already! She’s long gone.”

“Uh huh. Whatever you say.”

“I’m gonna be, like, the kid’s godparent.”

Suzie looked at him flatly. “I rest my case.” And she belatedly put Dave’s mug of coffee down, before turning her back and sauntering off.

Dave’s mute plea kept Nicholas quiet. Well, he was obviously gay enough to be curious, but at least he was bloke enough to know that some things just couldn’t be discussed. “Um,” said Dave, scrambling for a different topic of conversation. Just in case. “Um … Oh. Did you learn anything new about your butterflies? I mean, from all those collections?”

Nicholas’s gaze turned intent and his smile fond for a long slow moment. Then he gently chided, “I would have told you, if there was anything that would change our plans.”

“I know,” Dave responded easily. “Not why I asked.”

The smile grew as another moment lengthened. It felt as if Nicholas was happy in their mutual sense of trust. Eventually, Nicholas said, “No. No, if I find them, then there’s a chance it will be a new species discovered. There’s been very few sightings of the Lycaenidae reported in that area. At least, not of the sort of thing I’m expecting.”

“The what?”

“The Family Lycaenidae: the blues. And when I say that area, I mean that entire south–west corner of the state. Though I guess … Well, I am extrapolating rather a lot from very little data. It could all come to nothing, of course.”

“Huh.” Dave hadn’t quite realised the full significance of this quest of discovery. “An entirely new butterfly … You’ll be able to give your name to it, then?”

Nicholas was smiling with slow contentment again. “Yes, I will.”

“In Latin, like Whatever Goringi. Or Blah–de–blah Nicholasi. Nicholai … ?”

The smile became a laugh. “Something like that.”

“Cool.”

“And I’ll write it up for The Australian Journal of Entomology, and I’ll say I couldn’t have done any of it without Mr David Taylor of Brisbane.”

“Fame at last!” Dave laughed. “Thanks, mate.”

“Might be good for business.”

“Butterfly hunting. Dunno how much call there is for it, to be honest. Most people who brave the Outback are wanting to go crocodile wrestling instead.”

“Ah, but if you want to attract the more charmingly eccentric clients …”

Dave couldn’t help but grin; Nicholas’s wicked brand of happiness was definitely catching. “Well, it’s working for me so far,” Dave finally agreed. Continue reading

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Honorary Blogger Rhys Ford: Tattoo Symbolism + Giveaway!

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Tattoo Symbolism

by Rhys Ford

Well, I want to thank everyone for following the blog tour for 415 Ink: Savior! I’m going to use the same intro for every piece in case someone jumps in midway because that way everyone starts off on the same page. So if you’re joining midway, be sure to backtrack and catch the other posts because we’ll be exploring tattoos. Be sure to catch Savior, a second book in the 415 Ink series, on its release date of September 18!

This has been a crazy series to write and as much as I enjoyed it, it’s always a challenge to bring a fully fleshed character with very real problems to the page. I hope that when you read Savior you will fall in love with Mace and be with him on his journey as he in turn falls in love with Rob.

Since the tattoo shop, 415 Ink, is such a central heart of the series, I wanted to talk about tattoo symbolism very briefly because there’s a lot of opinions and cultural attachments to certain tattoos. What could be presented on this tour is just a small sampling of what people believe certain images mean and how they connect to the people who choose to wear them on their skin.

I’m going to say that tattoos are not for everyone but I do have a hard-core cultural association with them so I’m very fond of tattoos. I feel it is a very personal thing and should be taken seriously because you are going to wear it for the rest of your life. But, I also do believe even the tiniest flash tattoo means something to someone and everyone getting ink should be respected for their choices. Someone’s little flower on an ankle could mean their experiment into pushing themselves to fearlessness or capture memory of something they shared with someone. Not every tattoo needs to be huge or an artistic rendering of the Sistine Chapel. But they should have meaning.

I believe a tattoo should be a piece of yourself the inker draws out of your soul and embellishes on your skin. It should rise up from some part of you to realize its existence.

Much like love. And very much like falling in love.

So let’s talk about ink.

Traditional – Sailor Tattoos

Inspired by the ink they saw on the skin of the people they met on their travels around the Pacific, sailors began to mark their own bodies for luck and as badges of honor for milestones they’d passed in their journeys. The life of a sailor was dangerous, and the accomplishments they made had a great deal of meaning for them. Their tattoos were proof they’d sailed thousands of miles, crossed the equator, and survived storms and other dangers of the deep.

Norman Keith Collins aka Sailor Jerry had one of the first tattoo shops in the Western world, established many of the customary designs we see today’s flash art including: anchors, daggers, serpents, mermaids, and more. Collins has since passed away but his family and friends continue his Old School Traditional tattoo styles at Old Ironside, a tattoo shop that stands in the original spot of Sailor Jerry’s O’ahu shop.

Each had its own meaning. Some of the most common sailor tattoos are:

Anchor: An anchor placed anywhere on the body represented that a sailor had completed a voyage that crossed the Atlantic. It also was thought to bring steadiness.

Compass: A compass was so a sailor would always be able to find his way home.

Dice: A set of dice was often chosen by a sailor to show that he was a fearless risk taker. It was also chosen by sailors that enjoyed gambling.

Dragon: A dragon symbolized that a sailor had been to China.

Harpoon: A harpoon was a mark of having belonged to a fishing or whaling fleet.

Hula Girl: A symbol that signified that a sailor had been to Hawaii.

Lighthouse: A symbol of guiding light and protection against a ship crashing against the rocks. It was also known to represent home and shelter.

Mermaid/Siren: The call of the siren was a superstition. It was thought that the beautiful lure of a siren’s voice would misguide a ship, and cause it to wreck, or pull a sailor into the sea to find her where he would drown. Having a mermaid tattoo protected against the dangers of the sea.

Nautical Star: A nautical star was a popular emblem sailors would get to be sure they would be guided home safely.

Pig & Rooster: Both pigs and roosters were kept on board in crates that floated, so a pig on one foot and a rooster on the other was thought to protect a sailor from drowning.

Rope: A rope around the wrist meant that the sailor had served as a deckhand.

Rose & Dagger: Showing bravery and a willingness to fight, a dagger through a rose symbolized a fearlessness of conflict or confrontation.

Ship: A ship with full sails marked a sailor’s voyage around Cape Horn, which is where the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans meet.

Swallow: One of the most well-known of nautical tattoos, a swallow represented every 5000 miles a sailor voyaged. A swallow will always find their way home, and it was thought that the swallow would bring luck and mean that the sailor would return safely home.

Turtle: A hardback turtle was a symbol of passing the equator.

So there’s also giveaway! Enter to win a $20 USD gift certificate to an e-tailer of your choice which can include Dreamspinner, Amazon, Starbucks or any place I can send a gift certificate without having to sacrifice a chicken. Just follow the blog’s contest rules to enter!

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Honorary Blogger S.M. James: Why Do You Write Gay Characters? + Exclusive Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Why Do You Write Gay Characters?

by S.M. James

A question I’m asked a lot is: “Why do you write gay characters?”

My answer: “Because everyone deserves to see themselves in a book.”

Young adult books have always been my jam and when I began writing them around ten years ago, I was real unsettled by the lack of diversity in the books I was picking up to read.

I didn’t know what my issue was at first. The plots were great, the characters were engaging, but there was just something … missing.

I’m not sure exactly when it happened but the ‘We Need Diverse Books’ movement took hold and it was like this massive haze had been lifted. I started to actively seek out diverse books and consume them by the truck load. I couldn’t get enough. And with the reader demand, publishers stepped up. At one point I thought I’d read close to every diverse book I could find, now my TBR pile is overflowing.

It was at this point I really fell in love with LGBT+ literature. While it was a big part of my real life, I’d failed to see it represented well (or at all, in YA) and it was very clear the ‘bury your gays’ trope was alive and running rampant.

Why the hell couldn’t a non-hetero, non-cis person have a happily ever after? And why couldn’t they – GASP – be the main character?

I started to go beyond traditional publishing to buy up just about every happy-ending queer book I could find, no matter whether I planned to read it or not. And there were a lot more options than I thought.

Up until that point I’d only ever written in the fantasy genre, but as I read more and more contemporary, I was itching to try and write one. I still had far too many ideas to get to my agent but in between those projects, I quietly worked on bringing Archie and Landon to life.

It wasn’t until I was scrolling through Twitter one day, that I saw an announcement I remember making me stop. A book had sold—a GAY book had sold. Traditionally. For a lot. The author had sent out a random query to a well-known agent, who offered her representation the next day. A week later, the book went to auction, and Becky Albertalli’s career was launched. I picked up Simon vs on release day and fell in love.

It gave me hope that Archie and Landon could have the happily ever after I planned for them.

I finished That Feeling When late last year, assuming it would join the line of titles waiting on my agent to read. While I waited, I started work on a high fantasy with a FF romance.

TFW just … sat there.

And sat there.

That’s when I decided this one would be my indie debut. I had a heap more planned for the series, with characters I couldn’t wait to get out there, and indie authors had been leading the way in LGBT+ romance for years before the traditional publishing houses caught up. It just made sense.

I knew it would be expensive. I knew there’d be people who wouldn’t read it because it wasn’t from one of the Big 4. I knew it would be a hell of a lot of work.

And I was totally cool with all that.

Because everyone deserves to see themselves in a book.

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The Enchanter’s Flame by Michele Notaro: Exclusive Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Exclusive Excerpt from The Enchanter’s Flame

by Michele Notaro

He slowly stood and turned away from the tree. “Brace yourself, Seb. It found us. Stay right behind me.”

I drew my weapon and looked everywhere, but couldn’t see anything. When Ailin took a few steps forward, I followed right behind him. I wasn’t sure how close he wanted me to stay, but I figured he’d tell me to back up if I needed to.

The ground rumbled under our feet, shaking like something huge was coming at us. I saw a red light in the distance through the trees, but it was getting closer and closer until it finally stopped fifteen feet away from us. It was like a red gas swirling around. It had no solidity, but it carried such a strong evil energy, I could feel it from where I stood, and my hands began to shake a little as I aimed my gun. But what good would a gun do against gas?

The red gas spoke, “We meet again, Sebastian.” Hearing it say my name made a shiver rack my whole body. Why the hell is it talking to me? “Seems we have some unfinished business left.”

The gas suddenly solidified, forming into an eight-foot tall red creature with huge black horns and eyes that were endless pools of black—creepy as fuck. It had black talons on the ends of its red fingers. It moved one of its huge muscular red arms through the air, and a force of energy hit me like a ton of bricks, sending me flying backward until I hit a tree. I coughed and wheezed, trying to pull air into my lungs. Sera had flown off my shoulder, but I could hardly see anything that was going on. Sera? Luckily, I hadn’t let go of my gun, so I aimed it in the direction I thought the demon stood even though I could hardly see. Is Sera okay? Ailin?

“Your fight is with me, demon,” Ailin yelled, gaining the petrifying creature’s attention.

“Sera?” I rasped out and heard a little meow close to my feet in response. She shook out her head and sneezed, but otherwise looked unharmed, thank god.

“Don’t move, Seb!” Ailin yelled before muttering something I didn’t understand and throwing his arm out in my direction. Suddenly, a green haze surrounded Sera and me, like we were stuck inside a translucent green bubble. I squinted through the bubble and saw Ailin surrounded by a green energy that looked like it was radiating off his skin. “Stay inside the protection shield,” Ailin shouted to me, sounding out of breath. “Sera, protect him.”

The kitten hissed and walked to the front of the bubble, watching her owner and the red demon fighting. What Ailin thought a small kitten could do, I didn’t know, but maybe he just wanted to acknowledge her since he’d locked her in with me.

I tried to keep up with the fight, but it was hard to see what was going on with the green and red sparks shooting in every direction. The ground was rumbling as Ailin shot energy balls at the demon. At least, that was what they looked like. Unfortunately, they kept bouncing off the demon’s hide. The demon was shooting its own red energy balls at Ailin, but Ailin evaded them or shot them with his energy or somehow made them dissipate before they reached him. The trees around us were getting burnt, and when the demon sent a huge ball at Ailin, and Ailin redirected it, one of the trees split in half. Thank god Ailin had been able to push it out of the way. I didn’t even want to think about what would’ve happened if it had hit him.

I lifted my gun and aimed for the demon, but Ailin was in the way, and I wasn’t sure what would happen to this weird bubble if I shot a bullet at it.

The demon suddenly flew at me. I put my hands up in front of my face and prepared to take a hit, but the demon crashed into Ailin’s bubble. It banged and punched, but it couldn’t get through. The demon turned back into its weird gassy substance and surrounded the entire bubble. I turned my head back and forth, trying to figure out what to do, but the red gas was everywhere I looked. Sera was hissing at my feet as the demon shook the bubble rigorously, and I was afraid that the gas was going to find a way inside the bubble, but suddenly, there was a flash of blinding light and a loud roar. I closed my eyes and hunched over Sera, tucking my head down to protect us both from the assault, expecting the bubble to burst. I heard a loud hiss and Ailin’s voice in the background, but everything was so loud, I couldn’t pick out individual words.

I opened my eyes at the sound of another loud hiss. The demon’s red gas was swirling around the bubble, but through it, I could see Ailin surrounded by his green energy with his palms out and green light shooting from them. The demon hissed again, then suddenly flew through the air. Before it flew from my sight, I heard its voice in my head whispering, “I will have you Sebastian Cooper Fitz, your Sage cannot protect you forever.”

I shivered at the strange feeling of having that thing’s voice in my head, and chills popped out on my skin as I began to shake with fear. I couldn’t get enough air in my lungs. Get out of my head!

“You belong to me now, Sebastian. I will have your blood. I will have your soul.”

I couldn’t breathe. It was going to take me, kill me. That thing’s voice was the creepiest thing I’d ever heard. When it was finally out of sight, I blew out a breath and sagged down until I was kneeling on the ground, and I could pull Sera into my arms. The cat meowed at me and snuggled into my neck.

Ailin ran over and placed his hand on the bubble. After a few seconds, the bubble disappeared into a light mist that drifted away on the wind. Ailin walked closer and knelt in front of me. He gently cupped my cheeks so I’d look him in the eyes, and he searched my face as his hands generated a warmth on my skin that tingled from his palms over my face and scalp, then over my entire body. He was healing my scrapes and bruises from being thrown against the tree.

When I closed my eyes and savored the feeling, Ailin whispered, “What am I going to do with you, fragile human?” Then he pulled my shaky body toward him and pushed me to rest my forehead on his shoulder. He rubbed my back. “Shh, it’s okay. He’s gone now. I injured it enough that it will need time to regenerate. I won’t let anything happen to you.”

I nodded and Sera jumped off me as Ailin pulled me even closer, and I wrapped my arms around his waist. I wasn’t happy that he’d had to protect me, but I couldn’t deny the fact that I wasn’t equipped to take out a fucking demon. So I had to set aside my pride and appreciate the fact that Ailin cared enough to make sure I was okay.

He hugged me for way longer than was strictly necessary, but we’d already moved past what was normal, so I didn’t pull away. The longer we stayed like that, the more something settled in my chest until finally, I felt okay enough to deal with everything.

Ailin and I parted, and I stood up right away, not really wanting to look him in the eyes after that.

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Release Blitz: High Time by Keelan Ellis + Excerpt & Giveaway!

High Time by Keelan Ellis

When skeletal remains turn up in Baltimore’s Leakin Park, Detective Paul Solomon is pessimistic about their chances of solving the case. But a clue discovered near the bones soon leaves his partner, Tim Cullen, in little doubt as to their identity. As the case leads him close to home, Tim struggles to find a balance between professional responsibility and family, testing Paul’s patience and loyalty in the process.

In his personal life, Paul wrestles with his own increasingly precarious balancing act. His friendship with David Haygood threatens his new relationship with Owen, and he finds himself questioning not only his own judgment but his motivations as well. When Paul makes a choice that may irreparably damage his budding romance, the only person he can think to turn to is his ex-lover and friend Andy.

As Paul and Tim sift through details of the short life of a young woman who died over a quarter of a century ago, what eventually emerges from the web of connections and coincidence is a story that’s both shocking and sadly familiar to the seasoned detectives.

Available at: Amazon

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The Billionaire’s Wedding by Geoffrey Knight: Exclusive Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Exclusive Excerpt from The Billionaire’s Wedding

by Geoffrey Knight

It was the perfect day.

The morning was crisp, the skies were clear, and as the sun rose higher and higher it warmed the centuries-old brickwork of the Italian villa overlooking the Amalfi Coast. A gentle breeze rustled through the leaves of a nearby olive grove while champagne corks popped and the already gathered guests laughed and chatted in the azalea-filled garden. White ribbons adorned the pergola that stood perched on the edge of the villa estate, with the blue waters of the Mediterranean glistening in the background. And of course, there were flowers everywhere; propped neatly in antique vases on the outdoor tables, sprinkled across the grounds with abandon, and one perfect white carnation pinned to the lapel of Cal’s tuxedo jacket.

He looked more handsome than ever, his smile even more radiant as he stood under the pergola waiting for me to join him.

I was at once anxious, thrilled and terrified. But with one deep breath I managed to overcome my nerves and smiled as a sense of calm and certainty settled over me.

Here was the man I was about to marry.

Here was the man with whom I would spend the rest of my life.

Here was the man I loved, cherished and adored, above all else in the world.

The thought of finally sliding a ring on his finger made my heart race—and my cock twitch with utter bliss.

As I stepped up to him and took his hands in mine, I said with all the confidence in my soul, “I’m ready.”

That was when Cal asked, “Are you sure?”

My brow creased at his question. “Of course I’m sure. Why would you ask?”

“Because you’re not wearing any clothes.”

I gasped, looked down, and to my absolute horror I saw that I was standing there, stark naked, in front of Cal and all of our wedding guests.

And over my mortified scream, all I could hear was Mrs. Mulroney shout from the crowd, “Sweet Jesus in a Turkish bath house, someone slap that thing with a spoon before it takes somebody’s eye out!”

With a loud, “Oh fuck, I’m naked!” I jumped up out of my seat.

At least that was the intention, but the airplane seatbelt snapped tight around my waist and I slammed my forehead into the back of the seat in front of me, realizing I wasn’t at a villa overlooking the Mediterranean at all, but rather in a passenger plane bound for Europe and full of people who were now staring at me as though I was insane.

“Oh shit, did I really just say I was naked… out loud?”

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Categories: Book Promo, Excerpts, Giveaways, LGBT, Published in 2018 | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Honorary Blogger Michael Bailey: Character Voices + Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Character Voices

by Michael Bailey

So, much to the chagrin of a lot of people, I am a total pantser.  In fact, I have a tendency to “know” one of my MC’s at the beginning and not the other.  This is primarily because they are usually the first ones to “talk” (yes, these characters talk.  Greg is a perfect example of that, and I’ll get to him in a moment.) I initially see different points of the story through that MC’s eyes, but not the whole thing.  Typically, it’s not until after that MC has met the other that I get a good idea who that person is.

Certain scenes will be in my head, but I have absolutely no idea how they are all connected.  I rely on the characters to lead me. Sometimes the way in which I envisioned a scene is ultimately not how it ends up written.  Part of that is because I originally saw the scene from one perspective and the other MC may have seen it differently.  

As I said, I don’t know all of the story when I sit down to write.  It usually starts with an idea, a concept, or a question.  With “Looking In,” I already knew who David was. I knew some but not all of his backstory.  I knew, in broad strokes, why he was the way he was.  

So I asked myself a question:  to a person like David, what would unconditional love look like?  And how would the other person need to show it?

There’s a scene in that book where David and Adam are in a fast food restaurant, eating dinner together.  David is wearing his customary long-sleeved shirt, which Adam has always found curious. At one point during the conversation, David’s arm shifts slightly, allowing the shirt sleeve to ride up ever slow slightly.  This is pivotal for one reason: this is the first time I actually had to debate with one of my characters. I typed that Adam saw the scars on David’s arm, then deleted it. I vividly remember Adam saying, “no, I see them, because those are so much more.  More than physical. It’s a metaphor.”

And then I got it.

To David, someone that would be able to give him that unconditional love was someone that would be able to see the scars, both inside and out, and love and accept him anyway.

Greg was a whole different scenario.  He took me completely by surprise. He was originally simply nothing more than a name on a page.  No character, nothing. I was on my way to work one morning when out of nowhere, he started talking.  Greg, it turns out, had a lot to say. He has an enormous amount of guilt he has to work through because he feels that he didn’t do enough to help his brother, Ben, when their father discovered the latter had been researching questioning one’s sexual identity.  A massive, physical confrontation followed, and Ben ran away from home in the middle of the night, never to be seen again. To a very large degree, he has “adopted” David as sort of a surrogate brother because of his inability to protect his real brother.

Owen’s story in “Looking Forward” is one I knew well.  In fact, I knew what his story was when he was introduced in the first book, much in the same way I know Greg’s and his brother’s.  Owen’s story was a bit trickier to tell, however. It didn’t fit what is considered a traditional romance, but I think his story, his voice, fits the overall narrative of what this series of books is about.  Yes, I’m being vague about his story, but for a reason. I think that too much information may spoil the story or mislead readers into believing one thing when the opposite is true. Suffice it to say that Owen’s voice was just as loud in my head, perhaps louder with this book, as any other character.

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Categories: Book Promo, Excerpts, Giveaways, Honorary Blogger Post, Published in 2018 | Tags: , , | 9 Comments

Honorary Blogger Lynn Michaels: Inspiration + Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Inspiration

by Lynn Michaels

Everyone asks what inspires an author for their stories, and that tends to be a complicated answer. Inspiration comes from so many places and changes from story to story. Time for Love was inspired by several things.

First, the main character, Jeremy, started talking to me after a trip to the beach. He came across as a relaxed, beach bum type of guy, but he grew to so much more. His background and philosophy developed through research.

His counterpart, Ollie, came first from the technology that build his app. That bit came from my own work with recruiting data scientists that work with machine learning and AI for the company I work for. The concept fascinated me, so I wanted him to be a developer. Of course, I needed a way for these two to get together, so the rest of the story unfolded from there.

Overall, most of my stories incorporate bits and pieces from my life and the world around me. If you read my work, you’ll see tidbits of me throughout in many different ways.

Thank you to The Blogger Girls for letting me stop today

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Categories: Book Promo, Excerpts, Giveaways, Honorary Blogger Post, Published in 2018 | Tags: , , | Leave a comment