Honorary Blogger Post

Honorary Blogger Sadie Rose Bermingham: If A Picture Paints (80) Thousand Words… + Excerpt & Giveaway!

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If A Picture Paints (80) Thousand Words…

by Sadie Rose Bermingham

A couple of years ago, in between novels, while we were both obsessed with tales of urban fae, ruined buildings and faded industrial environments, Bellora sent me a photograph of a run down looking building that could have existed in any post-industrial city in the western world. The building had been an auto-parts store and the sign out front had been dismantled and graffiti-ed over so that instead of AutoParts, it read Utopia. A less likely utopia, neither of us could imagine.

It sowed the seed of an idea though. Bellora is originally from the Detroit area of Michigan, and it was Detroit that began our fascination with the wrecked and the run-down, the echoes of fading splendour in the magnificent civic buildings of that city, now gone to rack and ruin. Out of that seed grew the story of Demon Familiar. The idea was to create a kind of dystopian, post-fossil fuel Detroit, but given our track record it was never going to be a faithful recreation of a normal human city. We’d both been interested in writing a kind of warped fairytale. The fae in Or d’Roit are living on the edges of society, in a world shared with humans and demons. Magic is a form of currency in our fictional city and our central characters’ lives have both been colored by it.

Malachai is the son of of an English alchemist and an Irish leprechaun baron, the disinherited scion of a very long line of powerful fairy folk. A former racing driver, he finds himself stuck in Or d’Roit once the gas and oil dried up. Mal is employed by Mercurio Geiger, a grouchy gremlin mechanic with a heart of gold, to use his alchemical ability to make valuable and elusive petroleum,

Neil’s father is a notorious demonic sorcerer, who has made his fortune killing other people with magic. When a group of assassins called Bone Men show up at Neil’s home and murder his mother in front of his eyes, Neil is forced to go on the run. With no idea whether the killers were looking for his father or sent for some other reason, he literally has nowhere to turn.

They both wind up in an unlikely Utopia, which just happens to be the name of Mercurio’s chopshop in the decaying downtown area of the city, inspired by that initial photograph. Together with the aid of some unlikely allies, also scraping together their livelihoods in the shells of some of downtown’s formerly magnificent theatres, hotels and stately homes, they make a stand against whoever is hunting for Neil.

As we began to assemble their story, the city itself became a pivotal character for us. We wanted to explore its depths and celebrate its past glories. The ruined buildings become virtual fortresses for those who inhabit them, a protection against the violent, unpredictable world outside. The streets and buildings in Demon Familiar became as important to us as the people. So much so that the city gets its own dedication in this first volume of  the Wanted series. We hope that you enjoy exploring Or d’Roit as much as we enjoyed creating it.

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

Honorary Blogger Michael War: What To Know About Under Five + Exclusive Excerpt & Giveaway!

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What To Know About Under Five

by Michael War

Thank you to The Blogger Girls for having me today and allowing me to talk about my upcoming release, Under Five, with you. Let’s get to it, shall we.

Here are four things that you should know about it:

  1. Yes, it does deal with cock size (can I say that here?) When I read a romance story you always get descriptions of these beautiful, long and thick appendages that have the uncanny ability to pleasure everyone in sight. I know because I write about those too. So when I was writing this (which actually started a long time ago), I wondered what would happen if some youngish stud was worried about whether or not his was big enough to please someone else. Feeling inadequate is something I think a lot people can identify with on some level.
  2. It looks at this from a comedic angle. While I guess the subject does have some angst to it, I didn’t want it to be too heavy on the whole “am I big enough” thing and decided to use it as the springboard for something outrageous to happen. Everyone wants their questions answered, but they aren’t always prepared for how it occurs. Mike, the MC, uses a spell to gain insight. Anyone who has ever seen a movie or read a book based on similar concepts know that this never goes as planned. I’m hoping that the twist is a surprise; one that people really don’t see coming.
  3. It’s set in Chicago, but I don’t think I ever say it by name. I do reference driving by the lake (which represents going along Lakeshore Drive) and being in awe of tall buildings. I love Chicago and have made it my home the past few years, which baffles me why I didn’t actually say it by name. Perhaps a part of me was afraid of getting some terminology wrong, or inaccurate locations. That’s something I regret now, though I think in my next book I will actually say it.
  4. I tried to infuse a bit of my Mexican culture in it. One thing that I have felt my books lacked in the past was a connection to my heritage. I have main characters who are Latinx, but other than their names and a few words of Spanish, I don’t think it’s ever referenced again. This time I wanted to dive a little deeper and explore some situations and ideas that reflected that part of me. I really think it helped deepen the story and I am looking forward to doing that in future stories.

Well, that is it. I really hope you enjoy the story as much as I enjoyed writing it.  I honestly did have a lot of fun writing it. I think the magical aspect helped, since it allowed me to stretch the idea a bit without too much constraint. Yet, somehow I think Under Five still contains a sort of realism to it, one that some people can see themselves in. Happy reading! Continue reading

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

Honorary Blogger MxKnowitall: A Day in the Life of Mo Written by Gatsby + Excerpt

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A Day in the Life of Mo

Written by Gatsby

At nine-thirty in the morning, I, the Great Gatsby with my flowing black mane and pearly white fangs, get tired of waiting for Morven to get up, so I pounce on their chest.  If this doesn’t work the first time, then I do it multiple times from different heights.  My current record is jumping from the top of the curtains onto my sleeping, unsuspecting owner.

Then, I get breakfast.  And that’s the highlight of my day; well, that and dinner, of course.

Buddha, the other cat in the house, usually refuses to eat the wet-food breakfast that Morven gives us, so Morven puts it back up on the counter.  I ask repeatedly for it, but alas, Morven has other things to do.

I tear up the house for bit, until I ‘accidentally’ pounce on Morven while they’re working on their artwork (something ‘important’ called Themensha) in the living room.  In my defense, I feel like I have to check on them because they just sit there for hours working on their tablet.  My methods may be impractical, but it makes sure that Morven is still alive.  What would I do without Morven to feed me?

At two in the afternoon – I told you they sit there forEVER – they get up and make themself some food.  I can’t believe that Morven waits that long to eat, but I guess that just means more food for me.  They make something on the stove, usually rice and greens; things that I don’t like in the least.  At most, I’ll lick the greens once soaked in soy sauce, but it’s really not my thing. But, when they eat their lunch, I get the rest of Buddha’s breakfast.  I guess lunch is a highlight, too.

From then on, Morven stays in office nook.  It’s supposed to be a breakfast nook, but it has a desk and printer and all of the bills and papers that I’m not supposed to shred.  Sometimes I do anyway, just to spice things up.  Morven peruses Facebook, watches videos of other cats – TRAITOR, and tries to keep the outside world up-to-date on what’s happening in our home.  Most of the updates are pictures of me and pictures of their projects.

Sometimes, Morven opens the front door while they sit in the office nook.  That means I get to explore outside; well, I explore the porch mostly.  The outside is kinda scary.  That’s probably why my owner stays home so much. Sometimes, Morven comes out on the porch with their tablet to do their social media updates or drawing outside, but one time they got really red from being in the sun, so they don’t do that much anymore.

Other times, I scream at Morven and claw at their legs until they pick me up into their lap or up onto the windowsill-shelf above the desk.  Then I can either sleep in the sun or watch them type or stare at birds.  It’s nice up there, lots of room for me, and Morven always tucks me back up when I’m about to roll off the side.  They’re really considerate like that.

Around five-thirty, we go inside, close the door, and start with dinner.  Morven makes more rice and vegetables or maybe some ramen noodles.  I inspect all of it; I have to make sure that they aren’t using up food that could be mine.  Honestly, though, Morven does a good job of eating only the things I don’t like, leaving all the meat for me! (And Buddha.)

After dinner, Morven gets their tablet again and settles in to live stream for the night.  They draw a lot.  I wish they drew me more, but my awesomeness is difficult to capture with merely two-dimensional media.  Sometimes we watch movies or animes, but Morven still draws when we do.

Around eleven-thirty, Morven puts the tablet down and tells me it’s almost time for bed.  Buddha’s already gone to bed; she’s older and has an earlier bedtime than I do.  Morven does exercises and stretches to help them get ready for bed.  I don’t like them; I’d rather they just go to bed.

And at midnight, we trot into the bathroom.  I hop up on the counter to supervise, while Morven brushes their teeth and washes their face.  Then, another highlight of my day, they get ten treats out of the jar.  Buddha gets her five treats first, it’s so unfair.  Buddha never checks to see if Morven is alive in the middle of the day. But, whatever, then I get mine.

Morven goes to bed.  

Then it starts all over again the next day!

Check out more about Morven’s newest project, Themensha, a graphic novel written and drawn in memory of their grandmother to bring dementia and alzheimer’s awareness to a younger audience.  You can watch them stream the process on their Twitch or support the Kickstarter.

And to see more of me, the Great Gatsby, check out Morven’s Instagram or Facebook pages. Continue reading

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

Honorary Blogger Jack L. Pyke: Sleeping with Psychopaths – Jack and Martin Harrison + Giveaway!

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Sleeping with Psychopaths: Jack and Martin Harrison

by Jack L. Pyke

Maybe it is all in the blood, right? That we’re talking brothers here? Martin, the psychopath, carrying a natural “born this way, baby” innateness and loving every “fucked up” ounce of who he is. Then Jack, the sociopath: born in the UK, but made through being denied a natural need to ease OCD trauma, then loving being cut during sex, where cutting his way through life then becomes the only way to fall in love with life.

In fact, it is in the blood, but Jack and Martin aren’t brothers; their relationship is never more complex.

Martin is what’s known as a “fragment” of Jack. A psychopath born through how when Jack’s world falls, Martin’s right there to ensure Jack survives. Only Martin doesn’t play by any lover’s rule when it comes to those who live close to Jack. It’s not helped with how Jack’s fallen hard for another psychopath: Gray Raoul, MI5 director of counterterrorism and culler: the Crown’s killer. If that doesn’t push all of Martin’s peer gameplay with psychopaths, Jack’s involved in a triad, where the third part to Jack and Gray’s relationship is… Jan. An accountant. One as… normal as any psychopath could wish to try and twist and taint.

But the question is always there: why would Jack himself fragment into a psychopath?

One Huge thanks to the Blogger Girls for hosting the second day of this Sleeping with Psychopaths tour. Today Jen asks one hell of a question that focuses on just why Jack might “Walk” into Martin:

Where did you get your inspiration for Jack/Martin, and what was your main course of research on the topic?

This is going to sound so strange to start with, but when I was studying at university, I wrote a play that centred on using lighting techniques, clothing, and changes in language to use one actor to play three different personalities: DID (dissociative identity disorder). At the same time Linkin Park had just emerged with Hybrid Theory, and I loved how the two lead singers had that calm/chaos approach to “Paranoia”, one of their singles off the album. Both were probably my first real steps into a fragmented mind and wanting to cover it in fiction.

A few months later, I came across a case study of DID, and it pretty much cemented where I wanted to go, mostly because the case study tore me apart as I went through it.

It dealt with a married woman, where both her and her husband were kidnapped. During the kidnapping, the woman was forced to witness her husband’s murder. She managed to escape, went home, and underwent therapy. Then one day she just disappeared. Family found her months later, working as a nurse in hospital: new name, new identity, new career, with no memory of past friends, lovers or losses. Most know DID fragments are created through chaos (not always, but most times), but the reason behind this lady’s disorder found that the second personality had been fashioned for one reason: to ease how she hadn’t had the medical skills to help save her husband. So even though she’d never studied nursing in her life, a fragment of her came in that had every skill set to cope where she thought she couldn’t. It was such a heart-breaking read, and still stays with me today. But it is the base for creating Martin, or how Martin would be born with a mindset to match those who played around Jack.

In Don’t, Jack’s diagnosed with OCD and an emerging authoritarian personality in his late teens. With the sociocultural backdrop he’s raised in, it all comes together to classify the sociopath in Jack. But as he finds himself trapped in the gameplay of psychopaths, where minds more twisted than his are making him lose his identity through their control and bloodied knife, Jack ‘walks’ into Martin, someone born into the game, with a psychopath’s mind and twisted drive to dominate his peers. Jack is then diagnosed with DID, and it meant that a whole host of research had to come in with all of those disorders to see how they’d work and fall together when it came to Jack and Martin. But they were always based on the realities of the disorders themselves.

For instance, in Antidote, where Jack tests his own OCD limits by dropping a photo of Gray out of alignment on a unit, then tries to leave it as long as possible before he has to straighten it? This is a therapeutic technique that’s used by professionals to help someone live with and manage OCD. So that by the time Jack’s kidnapped by Vince, and Vince tries to “straighten” Jack’s disorders by tying Jack up and leaving the photo just out of reach so Jack can’t straighten it… Vince looks to tear down not only Jack’s mind, but also the techniques that are usually put in place to help an OCD sufferer.

It makes Jack and Martin’s relationship a dangerous place for those around them as Martin re-emerges, but also to themselves and how they live, sleep, and eat as a part of the whole. There’s never any easy cures. But when you live with fragments like Martin, who are there for a reason, driven to protect no matter how twisted their gameplay, then perhaps cures are never the answer. They’re individuals in their own right, who need time to bleed out the stresses and strains in their own ways.

Thanks again to The Blogger Girls for having me today, and for Jen’s awesome question! Yesterday I was at Boy Meets Boy Reviews talking about Sleeping with Psychopaths: the cullers. Tomorrow I’m over at Kimmer’s Erotic Banter, sleeping with the ultimate psychopath… Gray Raoul! Please join me beneath the covers there too!

Thanks for staying with me during this tour!! For a chance to win a copy of Psychopaths & Sinners, please enter the Rafflecopter below!

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Categories: Book Promo, Giveaways, Honorary Blogger Post, Published in 2018 | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Honorary Blogger Annabeth Albert: Why Get Serious? + Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Why Get Serious?

by Annabeth Albert

Content Warning: This blog discusses characters with a backstory of surviving assault. The book itself includes mention of past assault, but does not include flashbacks or scenes of assault.

Thank you so much for having me today! I’m celebrating the re-release of my novella LEVEL UP which is loosely connected to my #gaymer universe and was originally in the EXPOSED anthology with some other great authors. Landon, our hero, is a genius physics professor and the book centers around his decision to pose nude for a charity calendar featuring rising stars in their professions. While much of the book is light and fun with some of my favorite banter of all the heroes in this universe, I also tackle a more serious topic—male survivors of sexual assault.

I didn’t so much choose to include this aspect of the book as much as that when I opened my heart and mind to Landon as a hero, he shared his past with me, and I knew I’d need to stay true to what he revealed to me. So I did tons of research, talked with survivors, learned and listened. And still I really worried about including mention of Landon’s past, but ultimately I knew that I had to write the book that Landon both demanded and deserved.

I also wanted to show his healing process, and let Bailey, his co-hero, be a part of that process without having a magic cure-all. Again, I listened to Landon about who he was and what he needed, and Bailey took shape as a character in his own right. I love, love, love their dynamic together. And I love that Bailey really sees ALL of Landon—he’s not just his past. He’s a gamer, a video game collector, a new home owner, a cat lover, a genius physicist, a Harry Potter junkie (with the tattoo to prove it!), dedicated professor and advocate for his students, bisexual, and has a wicked sense of humor and playful streak.

I really appreciate the courage of the brave survivors of all genders who have publicly shared their stories as well as those who privately answered my questions and helped me with this project. Landon and Bailey and their journey are very special to me.  To those out there who may identify with Landon, you are loved. Your stories matter. To other writers out there thinking of tackling this subject matter, I can’t stress enough how valuable multiple sensitivity readers can be. I learned so much by listening to careful feedback from amazing readers.

Thank you again for having me today! I hope you enjoy LEVEL UP! Continue reading

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

Honorary Blogger Rhys Ford: Slices of Life + Giveaway!

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Slices of Life

by Rhys Ford

Time for Last Call at the bar. Well, at least for the Sinners boys. We’re at the final book in the series and I want to say thank you to everyone who’s been with me on this six year journey. Well almost seven for me but I started before the rest of you did.

But man, it’s been a ride.

When I first brought Miki to the page, I never imagined he’d go as far as he has. From the series being picked up and writing a second book to audiobooks then translations, this series has been a labour of both love and hate. I hate to see it go but I loved getting to the end.

Throughout this tour, I’ll be sharing vignettes / scenes I wanted to write about the characters but weren’t really pertinent to the books. Some were suggested by readers in my Facebook group, Coffee, Cats and Murder while others just felt right to include.

I hope you enjoy these slices of life with the characters from the Sinners series and join me on this final stop on this journey I started with Sinner’s Gin.

Oh… and before I forget, there’s a GIVEAWAY. You’ll be entering to win a $25 USD gift certificate to the online retailer of your choice!

So, Last Call and I promise you’ll see bits and pieces of the boys as the years go by. We’ll at least drop in to say hello once in a while.

Much love to you all. And thank you…so very damned much.

Miki and Donal

“So you just stand here. And wait?” Miki resisted the urge to poke at the rice in the skillet. “How do you know when it’s done?”

“Ye’ve worked in Chinese restaurants, son. Didn’t ye pay attention when they were making fried rice?” Donal worked his knife through a slice of carrot, turning it into slivers.

“Dad, the only view I got from the kitchen was from the sink and the table they put in the back where you sat and made wonton.” Miki gestured at the pan with his wooden spatula. “This shit is actually cooking. Do you honestly think they would let me near anybody’s food? I like burnt grilled cheese sandwiches.”

“Honestly, who doesn’t?” Donal tsked at him, gesturing with the knife for Miki to step away from the stove. “Leave off of that and come help me. Do me a favor and chop up that chicken and all of the leftover bacon. About the size of a dime for the chicken and a little bit smaller than that for the bacon.”

It was one of the things he loved about Donal — one of the many things. His adopted father knew Miki needed reference points, especially when faced with things he’d never done before. As stupid as it sounded, the kitchen was a waystation of sorts for him and to enter it with the intention of creating an actual meal was as scary as the thirty-foot drop ride they’d gone on in Japan.

“If I cut my fingers off, you’re going to have to explain to the band why I can’t play guitar anymore,” Miki warned, picking up the knife. “And maybe to Edie too. And the record label guys.”

“Well don’t ye be cutting your fingers because while I could take them on, I’m more afraid of what my bride would do to me,” Donal replied, chuckling. There was a warmth to his laugh, a gravitas mingling humor with comfort. Miki liked that Kane laughed as his father did, a low roll of thunder spiced with a bit of joy and sometimes teasing.

The teasing was the hardest thing to get used to.

Damien seemed to get the knack of it but for all of his years on the road with the Sinners boys, Miki never quite got the hang of poking fun at others and himself. It felt mean even though other people seem to enjoy it and there’d been a few times when Miki sat in the middle of the Morgans’ living room and the mood shifted around him, going back to normal when Donal cleared his throat and everyone found something else to do.

Donal’s teasing was out in the open and never meant to make Miki feel small. Maybe that’s what he really didn’t like about being poked at. There’d been too many years where he’d been shoved into a tiny space and told to be invisible, or worse, told he didn’t matter at all.

“Does it have to be like squares? Or does it matter?” Miki poked at a piece of chicken, wondering if he should take the skin off as well. “And do I just cut it up? Like do you want the skin?”

“Yer making it too hard on yourself there, son.” Donal leaned over to take a peek at the rice. “Skin on or off is fine. However you want to make it.”

“I just don’t want it to be wrong.” Miki scowled at the mound of cooked chicken in front of him. “Food’s a big thing. They’re always giving me shit about how I eat. I just don’t want to fuck this up.”

“That’s not going to happen. That’s the best part about fried rice,” Donal remarked, cracking an egg into a glass bowl. “It doesn’t have to be perfect because it’s made out of everything ye have the refrigerator. It’s kind of like an omelette.”

“Yeah, I don’t know how to make those either.” He shook his head. “Kane makes them sometimes. Like he takes a couple of eggs and pulls crap out of the fridge then all of a sudden we’ve got this five course meal with hot biscuits and these perfect half-moon egg things on everybody’s plates.”

“Well now, that’s just him showing off then.” A few more eggs joined the first one of the bowl then Donal added a dollop of water from a nearby cup. “Hand me that fork there, will ye? It’s time to add the eggs.”

“Shit, I’m not of done chopping up the meat.” After handing Donal a fork, Miki began to diligently separate the chicken from the bones.

“Take yer time. See? The eggs just go on top of the cooking rice and then let that sit for a while.” Donal made sure Miki’s attention was on the pan as he poured the beaten eggs slowly around the skillet. “Just finish up what ye’ve got and we’ll toss it in after the vegetables. Then we’ll broil the short ribs. Those will go fast and the rice will keep in the oven under the warmer.”

He finished the chicken and then the bacon, tossing them all into a bowl before handing it over to Donal. There was a space on the counter he’d been told he could sit on, a controversial decision protested by the Morgan siblings since they hadn’t been allowed to do so growing up. Being overruled first by Donal and Brigid, there was a tiny storm of grumbles but Miki was assured the rest of the family would simply have to adjust.

Although he did notice Ryan had been promptly told to get off the counter when she’d tried to sit up there.

Miki nearly breathed a sigh of relief when Donal turned the rice over with the spatula. He watched attentively when Donal showed him the crackle then leaned back on his hands. “Can I ask you something?”

“Ye can ask me anything. Ye know that, Mick.” Donal continued to work the pan then tapped the spatula against its edge. “What’s on your mind?”

“Did you know what kind of person you wanted Kane to be with?” He shifted on the counter, careful not to bang his heels against the kitchen cabinet. “I mean, I hear people talk about what they want for their kids sometimes. And it’s kind of weird because they’ve got these huge ideas about what this kid is going to be when it grows up and sometimes even the type of person they want it to be with. Did you and Brigid ever do that? Like try to plan out their lives?”

“Truth be told, I think every parent does that.” Donal turned the fire down with a flick of the knob then leaned against the counter, crossing his arms over his burly chest. “Funny thing is about raising kids is that a parent shouldn’t go into it thinking they can mold or make what they want out of this person. Not to say that we didn’t make our mistakes. For the longest time, I’d wanted Connor to be a lawyer but that wasn’t in the cards.”

Miki snorted. “I can’t imagine Connor being a lawyer. Maybe Kiki. Or even Kane.”

“Well, I had it all planned out. I knew what schools I wanted him to attend and figured one of us was going to have to learn how to play golf so we could teach him when Brigid’s da told me something while we were getting pissed over a new bottle of whiskey he’d brought in.” Donal grinned. “And ye’ve been around me long enough to know pissed means drunk, right?”

“I think I know how to say drunken hangover in about fifteen dialects and twelve languages,” Miki made a face. “It’s right up there with where’s the bathroom and no I don’t have any money and I am not looking for a hooker.”

“Very good life skills that,” Donal agreed. “So we were passing a fine Sunday afternoon when he looked at me and said; ye’re a fool if ye think ye’re going to have a say about the boy will be. Here ye are laying down a path for him to walk on when what ye should be thinking about… what ye need to be doing… is to be concerned about what kind of man he’ll become. Raise the man, Donal, he scolded me. If ye raise the man right, the path he chooses will be the one he’s meant to follow.

“Since they stuck with me even after I sobered up, I figured those words were a truth I couldn’t deny.” The vegetables joined the rice but Donal held off mixing them in. “I never wanted any of my children to pick up the gun and the badge. For me it was a way to help people find justice, for me to help people who may be needing a voice but couldn’t speak up. I never imagined any of them would wear my uniform. And any plans that I might’ve had for them were set aside because their passion for justice is even stronger than mine.

“Now to get to yer question about did I ever imagine the person I saw Kane with? The answer to that is no because I know love hits without warning or reason.” Donal’s smile grew wistful and he laid a warm hand on Miki’s thigh. “I never imagined I would fall in love with Brigid Finnegan but when I finally saw she’d made a place for herself in my heart, I knew I couldn’t ever love anyone else. It was that way with ye and Kane. I knew the moment I heard him speak about ye that he’d lost himself in loving ye.”

“Wouldn’t you want your kid to have somebody less fucked up?” Miki bit at his lower lip, looking away. He was poking at a brittle shell of insecurity he’d been avoiding for months but the doubts about him fitting into Kane’s life and the family always resurfaced. “I mean, I’m not —”

“Yer exactly who he needed to fall in love with, Mick,” Donal said, cupping the back of Miki’s head until their foreheads touched. “Ye challenge him. Ye challenge his world and make him think. Ye tell him no when the world bows to his pushiness and forced him to rethink the way he approaches people. If there is one great disservice I’ve given my children, is that they sometimes believe they are always right.”

“Yeah, I don’t know where they got that from,” Miki coughed, “Brigid.”

“I’m not going to say that ye’re wrong but I had a hand in it.” He laughed, kissing Miki on the temple before letting him go. “Ye make Kane stretch outside of himself. With ye he learns to compromise because while he is an irresistible force, ye are an immovable object at times and this makes him stop and change course. So while I have made him the best man than I could raise, ye are making him a better man because ye love him but won’t take any of his shit. So that, Mick, is why I could never imagine anyone but ye by Kane’s side and it was one of the happiest days in our lives when he brought ye home so I knew right then and there, ye’d be a son of our hearts and a blessing on this family.”blogger_bee_trans Continue reading

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Honorary Blogger Lisa Henry: The California Dashwoods + Giveaway!

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The California Dashwoods

by Lisa Henry

Hi! I’m Lisa Henry, and welcome to the blog tour for my new release, The California Dashwoods. I’m visiting some of my favourite blogs around the place to talk a bit about writing The California Dashwoods, and sharing some of my influences, my ideas, and even an excerpt or two! Don’t forget to leave a comment, for your chance to win a prize of a $20 Amazon voucher plus a vintage copy of Sense and Sensibility that I’ll post worldwide. The winner will be drawn on May 10.

When I was a teenager, I discovered Douglas Adams and adored him. Who doesn’t, right? But this was about the time when I was trying to figure out how to write books myself, and I remember being really struck by this odd little exchange in Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency:

“Look, can you make a note for me to tell Susan—not you, of course, secretary Susan at the office.”

And then, a paragraph or so later:

“That’s you, I mean, of course, not secretary Susan at the office.”

And I’d never seen this before in a book. It’s something that happens so often in real life, isn’t it? We know a bunch of people with the same name, and we figure out who we’re talking about by using context clues, or we clarify by using you-Susan and secretary-Susan. It just really stood out to me as being one of those things where art not only doesn’t imitate life, but it takes pains not too. Even similar names are generally discouraged. Try to write a book where your main characters are called Jason and James and I’ll bet you won’t get that past your editor.

Which brings me to Sense and Sensibility. Did you know there are three separate characters in that thing called John? Which might not matter back in Regency times when you’re talking about Mr Dashwood, Mr. Willoughby and Sir John. But when it comes to updating those characters and throwing them into the modern world, and suddenly you’ve got yourself John, John and John.

When it came to The California Dashwoods, I had to fudge the names a little for all the characters. Elinor became Elliott, but I changed Edward to Ned because I didn’t want two E-names for my mains. And Margaret became Greta, because Elliott already had an M-name sister in Marianne. And this was before I tackled all the Johns!

With John Willoughby, Marianne’s love interest, it was easy enough to turn him into a charming playboy called Jack, but I was left with the problem of John Dashwood and John Middleton. One is our MC Elliott’s half-brother, and one is his mother’s cousin. And both of them are pretty important to the plot.

Initially I thought of just changing one of their given names, but in the end I decided that no, why not let a little bit of real life creep in there? So that’s what you’ll find in this teensy excerpt here—along with my subtle nod to Douglas Adams—when Elliott and his mom are making plans for the future:

“Do you remember John?” Abby asked. “Not John John. My cousin John.”

Elliott sucked jam off his finger. “John in California?”

“He lives in a little town called Barton Lake. He has a store there. It’s where I met your father, actually. He and the Family were there for the summer, and they wanted an au pair for John. John John, not cousin John. I thought, well, I can make more money looking after some spoiled little snot-nosed rich-kid brat than I can doing chalk drawings on the pavement, and—” She cut herself off with a laugh. “And the rest is history.” Continue reading

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Honorary Blogger Nicholas Bella: A Note From Théoden + Excerpt & Giveaway!

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A Note From Théoden

by Nicholas Bella

I told Nicholas to take a break because I wanted to do this blog post. It’s my book after all, I should be the center of attention. It was only a matter of time before the fans would want to know more about me. I started getting the fan mail, asking for my history. So many questions, they had. How did I become a vampire? What kind of person was I before it happened? How did I choose my sons? How did I learn about my powers?

Humans are such nosey beings, and normally, I wouldn’t have paid these letters and emails any attention. But, I couldn’t help but be a little bit flattered that I was on their minds. So, I sat down with Nicholas and we decided to give the fans what they’ve been desiring for years. My story.

Within the pages of this book, you will learn everything you need to know about me. All of your questions are answered and then some. Just make sure when you read my book, to give me your undivided attention, because I don’t like to share.

Now, as you know you want to do… give yourself to me. – Théoden. Continue reading

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

Honorary Blogger Lynn Kelling: Writing a Deaf Main Character + Giveaway!

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Writing a Deaf Main Character

by Lynn Kelling

My new release, Hush, isn’t the first book in which I’ve written a deaf character, but it is the first time I’ve done so with the main character—Rune, the main character of Hush, first appeared as a secondary character in my novel Bare. I was so thrilled and energized to tell Rune’s point of view as someone with a different means of communicating, that the story flowed quickly onto the page. He doesn’t speak and is recently, completely deaf. Because of this, he is quite focused on the before and after of when he lost his hearing. He’s learning how to let go of the life he had before the motorcycle accident that caused several injuries, and actively figuring out how to adapt to brand new circumstances. The people in his life are not experts at American Sign Language, to say the least, but technology (and patience) help fill in most of the gaps.

As the writer of this story, having a point of view from a main character who rarely engages in traditional dialogue with quote marks posed some technical challenges. I needed to decide how I was going to convey exchanges in sign language, or in written form via mobile apps or old school notepads. It was crucial to me that dialogue still be recognizable as just that, even without the visual cue of quote marks, so that the narration of the story is distinguishable from the conversations. For the most part, italics are used for this purpose in Hush. In my research, I saw this approach in other novels with deaf characters who sign and don’t speak (such as Joe Hill’s The Fireman), and it seemed to work well. I also describe the way the signs look wherever it adds to the scene or story, though I didn’t want to be too heavy-handed with descriptive passages either.

Aside from the practical hurdles, I really enjoyed getting to tell a good portion of Hush from the point of view of someone who struggles to fit into a world that doesn’t make it easy to do so for people who are differently-abled. Rune doesn’t ask for much of others—just to be recognized as an equally-valid presence and given some respect. He’s seen people let their gaze slide over him, avoiding interactions that might challenge them. He’s well familiar with how things might be awkward in some cases, such as using apps like Grindr to hook up with guys, when there’s a chasm of silence standing in the way once it’s time to meet face-to-face.

But this story isn’t about his hearing loss. It’s about the choice to not live life as a victim, but as someone capable of making positive change in the world. Rune’s not interested in becoming the guy he was before the crash. He wants to be better, stronger, braver, and he wants it all to mean something in the end.

I found there’s a lot of beauty and humanity in the ways Rune communicates. He’s always mentally engaged, putting more effort than most of us do into everything he tells people, just in trying to make himself understood. So, it could be seen that the things he tells others carry more weight. He uses body language more than my characters usually do. He’s an expert at reading a room, and because he’s become used to watching people’s movements closely for signs of them trying to speak or sign to him, not much gets passed him. There’s an added intimacy to his ASL conversations, to the letters he writes, the texts he sends, because most of the time they’re intended only for the eyes of the recipient. He does feel isolated because of his deafness, so any small gesture of simple human kindness that’s extended his way is absolutely treasured.

I learned a lot by living in his world, and found it’s a really beautiful place to be. Continue reading

Categories: Book Promo, Giveaways, Honorary Blogger Post, LGBT, Published in 2018 | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Honorary Blogger Robert Winter: Defeating the “White Savior” Narrative + Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Defeating the “White Savior” Narrative

by Robert Winter

It’s a truism that we don’t know what we don’t know. In my case, I didn’t know I was blind to my own privilege until the editing process for Asylum exposed it.

When I wrote September, I expected that Colin Felton would be the main character in its sequel. I also had a story I wanted to tell, of an undocumented immigrant from El Salvador dealing with the realities of life in the United States. I planted the seeds of their pairing in September by making Colin a lobbyist who works with a nonprofit organization focused on the issues facing immigrants.

I originally wrote Colin as a Prince Charming type, bestowing gifts and safety with no expectation—or need—for Hernán to do anything for him. It’s certainly a common trope in romance, as evidenced by all the books out there with “billionaire” in the title, or that are derived from fairy tales like Cinderella or Beauty and the Beast.

My developmental editor, however, quickly pointed out that I was leaving myself open to a charge of the “white savior” narrative. I had to look that up, and what I read shook me badly. Simplistically, the term refers to a story where a white character rescues people of color from their plight. The common examples are movies like The Help, wherein the African-American maids “need” the activism of the wealthy white girl to find the strength to expose their employers’ racism, or The Blind Side, where the white woman “teaches” the young black man how to become a football star.

As soon as my editor pointed out what I’d done, I knew she was right. In the early drafts of Asylum, I focused much more on what the white Colin accomplishes for the Latino Hernán. I had produced a soft, feel-good story about a white man using his wealth to woo. For example, originally I wrote a scene where Colin takes Hernán to New York for a weekend, dazzling him with an expensive hotel and dinner. I liked the scene for its wish-fulfillment aspects, but I’d focused on the least interesting aspects of my own characters.

My first major rewrite, then, reconceived the book to focus on Hernán’s journey, experiences and growth. While Colin provides him with support and love (as do Rudy and eventually several other characters like Juan and Sofia who appear in later chapters), Hernán is the one who does the major work to repair his life. He makes all the leaps of faith, and ultimately deals with his troubled past.

The shift allowed me to see I had written about what Colin could do for Hernán, rather than what he might need from Hernán. I knew Colin was shy and regretted never having made a move on Brandon in September, but I began to wonder why. That gave me the opportunity to understand his weaknesses and the reason behind them, which in turn let me explore how Hernán could help. The book always began with Colin’s rescue after falling into a harbor. Now I could explore the other ways in which Hernán rescues him over and over.

The lesson I take away from this rewriting experience is that following old tropes like Cinderella without re-examination means that I have been lazy and have probably missed richer storytelling potential with my own characters. I hope you’ll give Asylum a try to see if I was successful in finding the deeper romance between Hernán and Colin.

You can find out more about Asylum on my website by clicking here. Continue reading

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