Excerpts

Honorary Blogger Charlie Novak: LGBTQ Rep in Men’s Football + Excerpt & Giveaway!

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LGBTQ Rep in Men’s Football

by Charlie Novak

I’m an accidental football fan – I never really intended to become a supporter, but I fell into being one nearly thirteen years ago when I met my husband in high school. It was almost impossible to avoid the sport! But it has always surprised me that there are very few openly LGBTQ+ players in men’s football. Football itself can be a fabulous game, and create great communities, and while a lot of UK clubs have LGBTQ+ fan associations there are currently no openly LGBTQ+ players in the English Premier League. It seems odd, especially when you look at the women’s game and see openly LGBTQ+ players throughout the sport; coaching top teams and winning world cups. 

When I started plotting Breakaway, I knew I wanted to explore that lack of representation a little more, and consider why someone might be afraid to come out. In this novel, Christian is under a lot of pressure to be the best and he’s afraid that his football career will end if he comes out. He’s also worried about how the media and fans will react, and how it would put him under an intense spotlight and that suddenly, every conversation will be related to his sexuality – whether it’s relevant or not! Especially since being the first openly LGBTQ+ player would automatically bring a higher level of intrusion, scrutiny and pressure. Not to mention the fact that there would probably be some backlash from loud, bigoted voices in the media and online. I’d like to think that in 2019, it wouldn’t have to be a big issue, but sadly that’s probably not the case. 

It’s a question that Christian has to struggle with throughout the novel – can he be both a footballing legend and openly gay man? Will he have to hide part of himself away in order to pursue his sporting ambitions? And can he bring himself to come out and risk the scrutiny? 

Christian also has to deal with feelings of isolation, worrying that he can’t talk to anyone from the footballing world, just in case something happens or that person reacts negatively. Despite his family saying one thing, he finds it hard to accept that the people who have control over his career will be as understanding. 

When we combine all these factors, it’s a perfect storm of reasons why a player may be unwilling to come out. Playing at a top level is hard enough, without the added pressure and intense scrutiny that comes from being in the spotlight. But I’d like to think that it will happen soon – I know I’d be cheering them on and supporting them at every turn, regardless of what club they played for. 

I want us to live in a world where your gender and sexuality have no impact on what sport you play – to me, it shouldn’t be an issue whether a player is LGBTQ+ or not, and it saddens me to think that to some people, it’s still a big deal. 

This is a complex issue, and this story is only one way to frame the conversation. But I did want to imagine this story having a happy ending, so I could give Christian the love he truly deserves. Breakaway is ultimately the story of recognising your fears and overcoming them – facing them down for the chance to be loved, and the chance to be happy. 

After all, isn’t that what we all want? And isn’t it something we all deserve?

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Honorary Bloggers Sean Ian O’Meidhir & Connal Braginsky: Personality Disorders in Fiction + Excerpt!

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Personality Disorders in Fiction

by Sean Ian O’Meidhir

“I was dreaming when I wrote this, so forgive me if it goes astray…”  So we were asked to write some blog posts and I’ll admit that I’m incredibly novice at this sort of thing – so as the song lyric goes…  

Personality Disorders!  I’ve opted to write to you good readers about something that I know well.  For those of you who have not heard of a “personality disorder,” it is a diagnosable issue that causes problems in everyday life.  The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 5th ed. gives the definition as:

The essential features of a personality disorder are impairments in personality (self and interpersonal) functioning and the presence of pathological personality traits.  

In essence, it’s the way a person sees the world, but it’s skewed, flawed, and consequently causes the individual difficulty at work, socially, and/or with their family.  The personality disorder is really just a means of survival that has gone array. It’s “ego syntonic” meaning that it doesn’t feel wrong to the person because it’s just the way they are in the world.  

I describe the personality disorder to people like this:  everyone has a wall around them that they started building in childhood.  Things that we learn as kids help to add the layers to the wall. This protects us.  Everyone’s wall is different. I often have clients or classes go through the exercise of closing their eyes and imagining their personal wall.  What does it look like? Color? Shape? What does it feel like? Is it flexible or solid? How tall is it or does it surround you entirely? What smell does it have, if any?   Sound?  

I’ve yet to meet anyone who has been unable to picture their own wall.  That’s can be considered our “ego defense” – i.e. what protects us. And some of us learned in childhood that the world is incredibly unpredictable and so we built solid walls made of brick and keep everyone out.  Some of us learned that the world is a friendly place, and so our walls might be waist high with open gates.  

Whatever your wall is, it’s your own.  The only problem is when your wall is so rigid that it keeps you from being able to interact with others in a wholistic and healthy way.  There are ten identified Personality Disorders: Dependent, Avoidant, and Obsessive Compulsive; Borderline, Antisocial Narcissistic, and Histrionic; Schizoid, Schizotypal, and Paranoid.  These are grouped into the “anxious, fearful,” the “dramatic, emotional, erratic,” and the “odd, eccentric” presentations. It is my contention that everyone has some traits of one or more of these.  However, some people whose wall is so rigid that it interferes with their lives have really gravitated to one of these and it’s become their entire outlook that is difficult to challenge. 

Writers (usually unconsciously) often incorporate traits into their writing.  We often have the cold and distant MC who finds love and melts for the person who has won their heart.  This could be someone with avoidant traits. We find MCs that are cruel and hateful, keeping everyone out until that right person comes in and teaches them it’s safe.  This may be someone with antisocial traits. As a psychologist, I have had a lot of fun writing about various personality traits in fiction and consciously including them in writing. 

In our book Escape: Crossing Nuwa (book 1)  you’ll find that MC Theo has a narcissistic personality trait.  We had several readers complain about how pompous and arrogant he came off and this was purposeful!  Though we toned it down a little so we didn’t upset too many readers. Theo was raised in an alcoholic home as an only child.  He’s plus sized and while he always had a lot of friends, he often felt very much alone. To defend against his inner feelings of low self-esteem, he projects an air of confidence and strength which people gravitate to. But sometimes he overdoes it and pushes people away, which is actually something he prefers.  In book 1, we meet him and he’s come to the conclusion (at 22 years old) that he is going to be alone forever and that he prefers it that way. Safe. That is… until Robbie.  

I think that exploring various personality traits and even disorders is a great way to connect with readers who themselves may be experiencing these same traits.  I also think that it adds to a character’s depth because it makes them more relatable, realistic, and interesting. If you’re interested in learning more about personality traits or disorders, I encourage you to look it up online.  If you think you might actually meet criteria for a personality disorder – DO NOT SELF DIAGNOSE. This is also known as “medical student syndrome” where people with new knowledge suddenly think they have every illness in the book. I definitely encourage you to seek out a doctor of psychology. There are tests that real doctors can administer that will help you gain insight and answers (please avoid the online free tests for this…)   But be warned, having a personality disorder is often very difficult to treat or work through because it is an outlook on life, a way of coping. That said, I believe that insight goes a long way with helping all of us to take a pause before re-acting to allow us to respond in healthier ways.  

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Release Blitz: How to Run With the Wolves by Eli Easton + Excerpt & Giveaway!

How to Run With the Wolves by Eli Easton

 

Zeus loves his job on the Mad Creek Search & Rescue team, and his inner Saint Bernard is finally being used to his full potential. When he sees a mysterious and wild-looking quickened—a dog shifter—at an earthquake site in Alaska, Zeus is compelled to investigate. Zeus falls hard for the primal beauty of Timo and of Alaska itself. Both call to his deep canine soul. But the Qimmig pack’s laws are as harsh as the Alaskan winters, and Timo is out of his reach. 

Timo’s pack of dog shifters left their Inuit village generations ago and have lived wild ever since. Not trusting the “one-skinned,” and with their numbers dwindling, the Qimmig are on the verge of extinction. Timo is shocked to discover a whole group of “two-skinned” working as a rescue team, and he is particularly fascinated by Zeus, a gentle giant. He senses what Zeus feels for him… but it’s forbidden.

Can Mad Creek save this lost quickened clan? Perhaps—if they can learn how to run with the wolves.

Available at: Amazon

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Honorary Blogger Morgan Brice: Haunted Houses and Summer Spooks + Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Haunted Houses and Summer Spooks

by Morgan Brice

Old hotels, Victorian houses, historic mansions and shipwrecks. They’re all part of a trip to the beach, and they’re a reminder that when the sun sets and the tourists go home, some visitors never leave.

What kind of ghosts linger at the beach? Pirates. Star-crossed lovers. Unlucky sailors. Out-of-luck out-of-towners. Add in old scandals, long-kept secrets, murder and revenge, and it’s the perfect mix for sexy thrills and spooky chills!

My new urban fantasy MM paranormal romance series, Treasure Trail, is set in Cape May, New Jersey. Erik Mitchell used to track art fraud and bust up forgery rings, but after a close call, he moves to Cape May to make a fresh start. Ex-cop Ben Nolan is also starting over, and sparks fly when the two men meet. But when old scandals and murders come to light, they’re going to need each other and every bit of luck to get their happy ending!

Cape May is known to be a very haunted town. Plenty of people came to visit and stayed forever. Beautiful Victorian houses, great food, interesting history—and ghosts. When I visited for a wedding last year, I knew I had to set a series there!

Erik and Ben both come to Cape May to outrun their pasts, both personal and professional. They’re wary, having been betrayed before by people they trusted. So when the attraction between them is undeniable, they’ve got to decide whether to take a chance or keep running. I had so much fun with these two!

Treasure Trail is the first in the series, but there will be more books to come! And if you finish Treasure Trail and want more sexy thrills and spooky thrills by the sea, check out my Badlands series is set in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, with a psychic medium and a skeptical homicide cop who chase down supernatural killers. 

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Release Blitz: Love & Tea Bags by C.F. White + Excerpt & Giveaway!

Love & Tea Bags by C.F. White

Fate can be written in a tea bag too.

Mark Johnson is hitting his forties and is stuck in a rut.

He’s had the same boring office job for ten years, with no motivation or inclination to change it. The same crumbling house for ten years, with no cash or know-how to fix it. And the same Facebook status for five years—it’s complicated. It isn’t. He’s single. He just doesn’t want to correct it. That would be admitting defeat.

The day a tea bag splats onto his face whilst he’s emptying the dregs of his morning cuppa at Macy’s Tea Shoppe is the one that makes him question each of his current life choices…the tea bag and that the shop is currently being run by one rather friendly, rather hunky, but rather young Australian named Bradley Summers.

Tea has never tasted so good.

Available at: Amazon

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Made in Lisbon by Ana Newfolk: Exclusive Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Exclusive Excerpt from Made in Lisbon

by Ana Newfolk

I heard the noise of a key at the door as I was turning the corner from the corridor and stopped in my tracks in the middle of the living room when the door opened.

Big brown eyes stared at me from behind dark-rimmed glasses. We were locked in position for minutes or hours, I wasn’t sure. 

As those deep eyes left mine and started drifting down my body, I remembered I was only wearing a towel and blood had started rushing south. No wonder I’d lost the ability to think, let alone question why I was facing the beautiful young man I’d kissed at the bar just over a week ago.

“What are you doing here?” 

There was a hint of anger in his voice. What the hell?

“Do you work for the agency?” I asked.

“What?”

The ding coming from the elevator made us both jump and realize the front door was still open behind him.

He turned to close the door but didn’t shut it all the way, like it would be a bad thing to have us both together within the four walls of the apartment.

“Look, I’m not sure what’s happening but I’m feeling a little underdressed. Do you mind if I go put some clothes on and then we can figure this out?”

“Fine.” He huffed as I turned back toward the master bedroom.

When I returned to the living room he wasn’t there and the front door was closed properly. I followed the noise of the coffee machine. He didn’t hear me approach so I was able to take him in as he moved around the kitchen like he was at home.

His jeans clung to his ass like they were made to measure, and he’d changed from a shirt to a long-sleeve T-shirt that fit his slim form perfectly. 

When we’d met at the bar he’d been sitting down, and then when I’d kissed him my brain was all but short-circuiting. All I remembered about him, apart from the feel of his body against mine, and his soft sweet lips, were his eyes. That shade of dark chocolate I’d wanted nothing but to indulge in.

I forced myself to look away and get my lust under control. The guy was too young and I was definitely not on the market. For goodness sake, I loved my husband.

He went to the fridge and took the plates of ham and cheese, and I saw he had a few slices of bread ready to make a sandwich. Shit, maybe the guy lived here and this had been a mistake by the agency. To think I actually thought the agency had been extra efficient by giving me some welcome groceries. Unfortunately, it was too late to call them and clarify, so we’d have to agree on some kind of arrangement for tonight. 

He didn’t turn from his sandwich preparation. “I’m starving and assumed you might need something to eat too. Is a sandwich okay?”

“Yes, thank you. You’re right, you caught me on my way to prepare something to eat. I want to help, but I haven’t been here long enough to locate the cups and cutlery.”

“That cupboard, first door, bottom shelf, and the spoons are in that drawer.” He pointed to the cupboard on his left-hand side.

Once I located the cups and filled them with fresh coffee we sat at the table with our food.

“So,” we both said at the same time.

“What’s your name?” he asked. 

“Vítor, yours?”

He stopped what he was doing and stared at me for a few seconds before he shook his head like he was shaking an errant thought and put his hand out in my direction.

“I’m Tiago. Nice to meet you, Vítor.”

We both laughed. We were introducing ourselves like we’d never met before when only days ago we’d had our ton. 

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Honorary Blogger Davidson King: Advice For New Writers + Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Advice For New Writers

by Davidson King

While I still sort of consider myself new, I also feel sometimes I’ve been doing this for ages. In the almost two years of publishing I’ve learned more than I have in many lessons at school. So I do have some advice for new authors who are just started out.

READ. I think this is my biggest recommendation. I wouldn’t have wanted to write so much if I didn’t read so much. I also wouldn’t have learned as much either.

NEVER SKIMP ON EDITING. Grammarly isn’t your editor. I see this a lot on social media and from new writers. They say they use Grammarly and use a proofreader. Please don’t do that. I know editing isn’t cheap but remember for so many people out there, they don’t know who you are and will only judge you by your writing. Make sure what they are reading is the best you can be.

RESEARCH. A great way to alienate yourself from people is to not research. Give something, someone, a group of someone’s, or anything really, the respect of understanding them and knowing the facts. I promise you someone will call you out on it if you’re wrong. There are so many resources and people out there to help there’s no excuse not to research.

WRITE YOUR STORY. You can get swayed by what other people tell you to write or how to turn your story arc their way. Don’t. You don’t plant a sunflower seed and decide halfway you want it to be a tulip and change it do you? Because you really can’t. Your story is in there and it won’t ever feel like your own if you don’t follow through with what you wanted.

PROMOTE. Be visible. Your readers matter so much and they are SO COOL! Seriously, I’ve met so many amazing people just my interacting with them. Do tours, events, whatever you can. Sometimes they will be a success and sometimes they will flop but they are necessary. More new writers are born every day and we are flooded with new books. Be bold and get out there.

Okay, I think that’s enough advice from me. Good luck out there.

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Rich Kids 1 & 2 by Quin Perin: Exclusive Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Exclusive Excerpt from Rich Kids 2

by Quin Perin

“Jesus Christ. Hold on, hold on. Fuck.”

Joe’s hands wrapped around my waist, so large in comparison to my body in general, and lifted me off his lap like I weighed nothing. He plopped me onto the couch next to him and adjusted his erection in his jeans. “Why?” I purred, instantly climbing back into his lap and straddling him. 

“Because you’re gonna make me come before we even get started,” he said, voice husky as he grabbed my hips and tried to stop me from grinding against him again. 

Sem was running a bit late. He’d had some event thing at work, and he’d texted me that it’d be another thirty minutes until he’d be home. So, I’d started working Joe over. Getting him nice and ready for all the trouble that we were about to get into. Which wasn’t that difficult considering he’d been sporting a hard-on since he’d seen me in my skirt. Hell, he’d been half-hard when he walked into my apartment. From talking to him, I knew that this was a treat for him. Something he was too scared to engage in regularly. I was his escape, and I was more than happy to be it. 

“What kind of red-blooded American man doesn’t want a lap dance?” I asked him sweetly, tossing my arms around his neck and shifting on his lap. 

His fingers tightened on my hips, and he let out a breathless laugh. “You’re tryin’ to make me come!” he accused me, huffing.

“Duh.” Leaning into him, I brushed my lips against his and flicked my tongue across them, tasting the beer on his mouth. “It’s fun.” 

“I should put you over my knee,” he threatened. But there was no bite to his words. He wouldn’t do something like that unless Sem told him. Such a big man yet he seemed almost terrified of Sem. He did what my brother ordered him to do and was hesitant to go that far beyond it. 

“Mm, do it,” I murmured, giving a hard wiggle downward and rubbing myself against his crotch. “I’d like that.” 

“You’re—”

Bing! Bing!

“Oops. That’s Sem. Saved by the bell, hm?” I teased as I slipped off his lap and made my way over to the laptop. It was low enough that I could get on my knees in front of it, clicking the start call button with an eager little bounce. 

Sem came into view instantly, seated in his usual chair with a glass of what was no doubt very expensive scotch in his hand. It was clear that he had taken the time to get settled in from rushing home. Probably enjoying making me wait. “Hey,” I murmured, tilting my head as I sat back on my heels. “How was your event?”

“Do you really care?” 

“Not a bit.” 

“Is Joe there?” he asked, swirling his drink and taking a sip of it as he sat back. 

I leaned to the side so he could peek at him over my shoulder and nodded. “Yep,” Joe said. “We’ve been waiting.” 

No apologies. Sem just looked over my shoulder and then back to me. “Joe!” It was a sharp command that made my toy rise from the couch and walk over to stand behind me. His hand went to the top of my head, and he bent down so that Sem could see him.

“Yeah?”

“I want you to take the camera and show me what Nate looks like,” he said. “I want to see that outfit I paid for.” 

“And what about me?” I asked sweetly, twisting at the edge of my skirt. 

“I want you on your back. On the floor.” 

Sem got off on this. I could tell. He’d changed a lot in the two years since we started our very illicit relationship, but some things never changed. He liked control, and he liked bossing people around. Liked when they listened to him. It got him off probably as much as actual sex. We were his little playthings, and he was going to have fun with us. 

Fuck, I loved it.

Moving away from the camera, I crawled on my hands and knees over to the blankets that I had set up. I didn’t even have to glance over my shoulder to know that both of them were watching me. I bit my lip, rolling onto my back and stretching out. One knee bent, arms curled over my head, throat exposed. “Come and get me,” I purred.

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Release Blitz: Purple Method by Victoria Milne + Excerpt & Giveaway!

Purple Method by Victoria Milne

An up-and-coming heavy metal singer and a martial artist desperate to join a top MMA gym must decide how hard they’re willing to fight—for their dreams and each other.

Max Diaz is firmly in the closet, and as unbearable as that’s becoming, he can’t risk his only remaining family—his brother, Tony—or his band Purple Method’s chance to make it big.

Rick Bernstein dreams of rising in the ranks of the MMA circuit and securing a training career at a top gym, but with rejections coming thick and fast and his financial future in dire jeopardy, starting a relationship is the last thing on his mind—especially with someone who isn’t out.

But when Purple Method returns to Elfinbrook after a six-month tour, one kiss changes everything. Now Max and Rick face decisions that will change both of their lives forever.

Available at: Amazon

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Complementary Colors by Adrienne Wilder: Exclusive Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Exclusive Excerpt from Complementary Colors

by Adrienne Wilder

CHAPTER 2

The light from the neighboring buildings drew outlines around the curtains and left highlights across my body, creating a ghostly image in the mirror above my bed.

“I want to see you again.” The echo of Roy’s voice created ripples of color across the static of black. Normally nightmares kept me awake, not the memory of man’s touch, the scent of his flesh, or how he looked at me.

The weight those thoughts created in my chest wasn’t unfamiliar only forgotten. Then in that moment, there in the solitude, a sliver of happiness rose through years of darkness and neared the surface. A precious memory from a time before the screaming inside my head spilled out into the world. Sometimes it was like that, and those rare pieces of my past were treasures that gave me a reason to live.

I had to have it.

Every thump of my foot on the stairs fed the tide of yellows, reds, and oranges. Green followed me across the studio while ribbons of gold connected everything. The need for the brush in my hand burned hotter than carnal desires.

There were a half dozen canvases lined up on a shelf, most of them as wide as I was tall. Nothing I pulled from my thoughts could be contained on a smaller field.

I grabbed a clean palette and filled it with the rainbow droppings of brutalized tubes of paint. A clump of orange went directly on the canvas.

The fight to capture the moment began with blocks of color and lines of movement stitched together by negative space. Dark pushed the light. Colors hummed at the edges. Gradient shades took blistering hues into the background and shoved the rest to the edge.

I carved through the layers of oils until I gasped for air, dimples formed in the calluses on my fingers, my shoulders burned, and cramps twisted the muscles in my back. My sweat fell like tears, mixing with the paint.

“The image emerged from the mass of color. A boy. A smile. Kind eyes. I searched for more of him, but there was only the sunlight through broken leaves. It covered him in glorious fragments of golden light.

I’d held his hand. I’d cherished his laugh. His lips had been soft against mine.

What was his name?

I didn’t deserve him after what I’d done, but maybe on some deep level, I hoped by honoring the moment before the darkness he’d forgiven me, and I’d be granted peace.

It wasn’t unusual for me to pass out after completing a work. Tearing off pieces of my soul was not only painful but exhausting. At least when I fell asleep, I didn’t dream.

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