Honorary Blogger Post

Honorary Blogger Taylin Clavelli: Taylin’s Writing Process + Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Taylin’s Writing Process

by Taylin Clavelli

Over the years, I’ve had quite a few people ask me how I got into writing or when I realized that I wanted to be a writer? All my life, I’ve been an avid reader, and to be honest, I can’t say that I ever consciously wanted to be a writer, I kind of fell into it and it snowballed. My cousin Simon is a writer and his brothers are all artistic, but I never thought the creative gene was within me.

To date, I’ve written three novels and six anthology stories. None of my books have conformed to the norm. They’ve either spanned genre’s or have been written in a voice not consistent with the era. What can I say – I like to be a bit different. My novels include:-

Dakota Skies 🡪 a western set in 1875, written with a more modern voice.

Secret of the Manor 🡪 a contemporary romance with a little sword and sorcery.

Hathonatum is my current novel. It is a love story that spans time, dimension, universe and death.

Hathonatum is also the first novel which is part of a series. The Pelethus series. But, it can be read as a standalone. Initially, I intended for Hathonatum to be a one-off. However, some characters appear later in the story, which my pre-readers insisted have a story to tell.

For me, there is no average time for writing a story. Every novel has been different in duration. The defining factor has been inspiration. I’ve tried to force it, only to write a chapter that seemed contrived and unnatural. I don’t aim to write a certain number of words a day, either, because family, work and life in general usually interrupt. Just because I’m not actively writing words doesn’t mean I’m not working on the story. I’m often running through an idea in my head – a little bit here, a little bit there. I’ve usually got a notebook close by for that idea I don’t want to forget.

Ideas for a story can come from anywhere and in that respect, I prefer writing novels because I can get totally vested in the characters and their lives. Inspiration for all my books or scenes within them came from different places.  They vary between music, art, personal experience, tales from friends or a combination of things that can be totally unrelated.

Once I have an idea, I put bullet points in a document, which I frequently rearrange. I don’t use it as a story plan but as a reminder. Then as I write, the ideas get used up – not necessarily in their original order. The first few chapters are the most challenging to write because, if a reader’s attention isn’t grabbed in those opening pages, no matter how good it gets later, a bad review usually follows. A bad finish can get the same result. Readers like to have completion and feel satisfied that the people who they have hopefully come to love, get the ending right for them.

Finding a good, comfortable place to write is essential. I write, either in my bedroom or in company with my noise-cancelling headphones on. It allows me to get into the headspace of the character and to think more about their actions, reactions and speech patterns.

In Hathonatum, the speech of Ben is like that of a regular Brit, cutting corners and shortening words. Hathonatum’s is more precise suggesting English was not his native language. When developing a character, I have a general physical outline. E.g. Hathonatum was always going to be the tall, dark and mysterious one. Therefore, it fits that his personality was more held back and guarded. Whereas, with Ben, I had a little more leeway. He could be more open and freer with his thoughts. One thing I never do is base a complete character on a person that I know. I take a characteristic from here, another from there, then add something unique for them.

Writer’s block can be a pain. When it happens, I usually step away from the story for a while. If I force a scene, it never comes outright. Using personal experiences helps minimize writer’s block. In Hathonatum, Egyptian history has been a long-term hobby, and I have been to Cairo, seen the pyramids and taken a trip down the Nile. When using experiences, it is easier to describe the emotions that accompany a scene.

At the end of the day, writing is only one part of producing a story. Having a tough pre-reader and a damned good editor are worth their weight in gold. These talented people read a story cold, and don’t add in any assumed aspects. They help make a story the best it can be.

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Honorary Blogger Gail Z. Martin: Making the Supernatural Believable + Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Making the Supernatural Believable

by Gail Z. Martin

Inheritance, which is part of my Deadly Curiosities series, has ghosts, curses, demons, witches, supernatural creatures and haunted objects. I love writing about spooky stuff, and I do my best to make the paranormal elements believable so that readers get an exciting thrill ride of a book.

For me, the first step in making the supernatural believable is to research the lore, urban legends and ghost stories of an area. My urban fantasy books are set in real cities, most of which have a long, reputedly haunted past. Those stories arise from an area’s history and the people who came to live there, so understanding the history of a place is also important. 

My goal is to make the location of a book so much a part of the plot that the story couldn’t happen in the same way anywhere else. That requires research into the culture, and how the people who live there see themselves and their heritage. Of course, those elements wind back to the supernatural, because people tell stories about their ancestors, the people who settled the area before them, the rogues, scoundrels and criminals, the people most likely to have their spirits stay behind when their lives end.

Magic is always a part of my urban fantasy books, and to make magic believable, it has to have rules and come at a cost. People with magical abilities need to have limits, or they become super-powered and so there’s no suspense. Rules are important so that magic doesn’t just conveniently solve all problems. Also, since I draw from real-world belief systems around the practice of magic, I do my best to be faithful and respectful to those traditions and represent them and their practitioners accurately. 

I research the urban legends and ghost stories of a place because those are rooted in the area’s unique history, the people who settled there, and the physical nature of the location. The real legends provide wonderful plot bunnies for ways to incorporate some of those old stories and elements into my new stories, so that the tale feels organic, arising from its location.

The other key element is consistency, which comes back to rules. If creatures act a certain way in one book, or magic has certain abilities or limits, then that has to remain consistent throughout unless you provide a very good reason. That also helps with believability, because the supernatural elements shouldn’t solve every problem easily so they don’t feel like a cheat to get the characters out of tight situations.

I love writing spooky stories and weaving in supernatural elements—and I’m thrilled that readers like to read about ghosts, magic and haunted places. For me, getting to research and write paranormal plots is the best job ever! Continue reading

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Honorary Blogger Mellanie Rourke: Random Facts + Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Random Facts

by Mellanie Rourke

Some random facts about me and my writing:

  • I wrote my first novel at the age of ten. On a typewriter.  It disappeared, and the world is probably a better place for it!
  • I published my first novel at the age of fifty.
  • My first paid publication was at the age of 12 in a contest for a story in the Akron Beacon Journal. I won $3 for the contest. Years later, the editor who had selected my story turned out to be the teacher for my last class for a degree in Communications.
  • I began reading M/M romances in 2017.
  • I wrote my first M/M romance in 2018. It took me about eight months to complete it. 
  • My second novel took 4 months to complete.
  • The Devereaux family kids are all named after characters in “Aliens” due to Mama K and Mama D’s obsession with the movie. 
    • Ripley “Lee” 
    • Weaver
    • Kaine
    • Bishop
    • Hudson “Sonny”
    • Hicks
  • I currently have two novels in the Twin Peeks Bookstore Romance series, Mason’s Run, and Nicki’s Fight. I have three more planned, Bishop’s Gambit, and two more unnamed novels.

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Honorary Blogger Rob Browatzke: A Fluid State + Excerpt!

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A Fluid State

by Rob Browatzke

Hey Friends and Family!

Thanks for having me here to talk about “A Fluid State”. I’m particularly pleased with this one, and this guest post tells you why.

The idea for this book started off somewhere in SocialMediaLand. Someone was asking about books featuring gender-fluid kids with straight dads. That’s where this started. It was Patrick’s relationship with his son, Peter, that really inspired this book.  I looked around my own life and saw the huge number of drag queens in it, saw the huge influence of Drag Race in so much of what’s currently pop culture, and I did the math. If Peter was exploring his gender identity, even just as far as dress, he probably would discover Drag Race, and that would lead him to drag queens in his own town.

Enter Andrew, aka Ann Moore. 

What would happen when Peter’s dad met that drag queen, I wondered. I’m sure you’ve all seen about Drag Queen StoryTimes at local libraries and the confusion, anger, and hate that they can breed online. I knew that wasn’t going to be Patrick, aside from the confusion. Of course he’d be a little confused. To find his eleven-year-old son suddenly dressing in skirts and blouses, not to mention having long-flowing hair? What if Patrick found that drag queen attractive before realizing she was a drag queen? What if that attraction didn’t fade when he learned the truth?

Like that, the story of a boy and his dad became this gay-for-you happy-ever-after slow-burn.

I’m not normally much of a plotter, and this wasn’t an exception. I knew it was becoming a romance so I knew that meant at least a happy for now ending, but it’s also my instinct to toss in a lot of grief and anguish and pain to get there. This book was having none of that. Every place I wanted to insert some agony, maybe homophobic comrades-in-arms or an ex-wife freaking out, every single place I tried to up the drama, Patrick and Andrew simply told me, nope. Not in this book, not in this world. We’re here to fall in love, and that’s scary enough without random tragedy intervening.

That’s not to say everything is easy for Patrick and Andrew. Love isn’t easy, at the best of times, and when you factor in a changing relationship between father and son, as well as this first ever same-sex attraction? That road is going to have bumps in it no matter what I do. I mean heck, I’m just the writer. At some point in every story, I lose whatever control I had; it just so happens in this one, I never really had much to begin with. 

As for heat level? This is the sexiest story I’ve written yet. Oh sure, pick up almost any of my other books and there will be sex, and loads of it, but this one? Patrick and Andrew sizzle together, and I hope you feel their chemistry as strongly as I do!

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Honorary Blogger TA Moore: Five Things About Tag Hayes + Giveaway!

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Five Things About Tag Hayes

by TA Moore 

First of all, thank you so much for having me! I’m thrilled to be here with my new contemporary novel SWIPE by TA Moore. I had a lot of fun writing the books, so I hope you guys enjoy reading it!

When we meet Tag Hayes at the start of SWIPE he’s a hot shot trauma surgeon, after an easy romantic win to help him get over being dumped by his ex for a younger nurse. Of course, there’s more to him than that. So here’s five things about Tag Hayes going into the book.

1: Tag drives a fire engine red Mustang. Well, that’s a recent development. For years he kept a red Mustang in a garage under a tarp and periodically thought about selling it. Mostly when his boyfriend, now ex, complained about the space it took up. Tag never quite around to it, though. Since his ex got their Range Rover in the break-up, Tag has got the Mustang back on the road. It’s a beautiful car and it’s fun to drive, when it starts and doesn’t make weird noises, but at least 25% of the satisfaction in getting behind the wheel comes from how annoyed his ex would have been. Kier always said the car looked like a mid-life crisis that Tag had scheduled early.

2: When Tag broke up with Kieran, no one was happier than his sister. Ten years older than her little brother, enough to have a solid claim on older and wiser, Bobbie Hayes had been biting her tongue for yeeeeeears. It wasn’t that she hated Kieran, it was just that he was unbearable. And he always had to be right, which Bobbie recognised since she is usually right. However, she’d not exactly covered herself in glory when Tag first came out–and it’s one reason they aren’t as close as she’d like–so she never said a word.

Which she regretted, because once Kieran cheated on Tag her little brother was too down for ‘I could have told you so’ to be satisfying.

3: Tag is an orphan, but he came to it too late for it to be tragic. Twenty four and twenty five respectively, for his mom and his dad. He wasn’t there for either of them, they just quietly got sick and efficiently died before he could get home. It was very like them, but Tag’s always felt vaguely adrift when he thinks about it. As if he never exactly came to terms with it. It’s one reason he never sold his Mustang. His Dad never had a lot of passions in his life, but he’d always loved Mustangs.

4: In addition to the Range Rover, the house, and more of their friends than Tag had expected, Kier also got their cat in the break-up. Mostly because Tag had never wanted or felt particularly close to the cat. It was a blue-grey Burmese called Khloe after the Kardashian that they’d rescued instead of a Jack Russell. The reason for that, of course, was because a cat doesn’t mind erratic shift patterns and late nights. Or, as it turned out, when the boyfriend moves out. Tag would not be surprised if it threw a kitty rave once he collected the last of his clothes, all of which was covered in cat hair even though Khloe hadn’t sat on his knee in the two years they’d owned her.

5: If he hadn’t swiped right on trouble, Tag would have moved out of Plenty by the end of the year. He’d not made any conscious decision to do so, but he’d gotten in touch with some of his old friends and mentors and casually floated the idea. He’s a good enough trauma surgeon that he wouldn’t have had to wait long for a job offer. Oddly enough, if he’d gone back to New York he might still have run into trouble, although it might have been less trouble.

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Honorary Blogger Lisa Henry: Starlight + Excerpt!

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Starlight

by Lisa Henry

Thank you so much for hosting me here at The Blogger Girls today, and letting me talk to you about my latest release, Starlight. 

Starlight, the third and final book in the Dark Space series, is unquestionably Brady and Cam’s story, but for a series that started out with Brady and Cam literally locked in a room together, the supporting cast has grown quite a bit since the first book. I’d tell you that was never in the original plan, but this is me talking here. There was never anything resembling a plan. 

So Brady and Cam’s story has grown since the first book. And one of the first book’s antagonists has, very awkwardly, become one of the protagonists in the third book. Or has he? Brady certainly has his doubts that Chris is on their side.

Sometimes when you’re writing a book, a character just comes along and demands attention. And look, this guy was only ever supposed to be in the background, but he just keeps insinuating himself in the action, and it turns out it’s a lot more interesting when he’s there. Chris Varro is that character in Starlight, I think, or at least he was for me. There’s a reason he made the front cover of Starlight, and it’s not just because I was afraid nobody would buy it if I put Kai-Ren on there… 

Chris Varro was introduced way back in Dark Space, first as a memory of Cam’s that Brady shared through their psychic connection, and then as an officer from intel who arrived to interrogate Cam. Brady hated him. Firstly on principal, because he was an officer, but also on a personal level, because Chris was Cam’s ex-boyfriend and Brady is nothing if not petty like that. 

We saw Chris again in Darker Space, where we first learned exactly how out-of-the-box his thinking was when it came to the Faceless. If Cam and Brady had a psychic connection to the Faceless, why shouldn’t Chris? So he injected himself with their blood to make it happen. 

In Starlight, Chris is in charge of what is a very strange diplomatic mission indeed. A small group of humans—most of them military but one of them very decidedly not—is travelling with the Faceless to see what they can learn about them. It’s not exactly going to plan, but when does anything go to plan for Brady? And being stuck in close confines with his boyfriend’s ex isn’t much fun either, especially since Chris seems to find Brady’s jealousy so amusing. 

But while Brady and Cam have been on a journey through the past three books, I think that perhaps Chris has as well. Brady didn’t notice it—he only looks at Chris to glare and fantasize about murdering him, probably—but a lot of the plot in Starlight rests very heavily on Chris, and how he’s going to react to what the universe throws at him. Brady doesn’t trust him and he doesn’t like him, but if he ever wants to make it safely back to Earth, he’s going to have to rely on him all the same. 

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Honorary Bloggers Jocelynn Drake & Rinda Elliott: Giving Ian Pierce His Happily Ever After + Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Giving Ian Pierce His Happily Ever After

by Jocelynn Drake

Within the Unbreakable Bonds world, I don’t think there’s anyone who deserves a happily ever after more than our chef and all-around sweet guy Ian Pierce. The trauma and abuse he suffered before the series even opened meant that we had to be very cautious with how we proceeded.

The first step was finding the right guy.

Well, Ian sort of solved that problem for us when he first set his eyes on Hollis Banner, Cincinnati cop and busybody. Ian took one look at that tall drink of water and decided that he was very thirsty indeed.

That meant we had to make sure that Hollis was properly whipped into shape. He had to be a great, kind-hearted guy who was dedicated to protecting the little guy and taking out the bad guy at any cost.

It also didn’t hurt that he was tall, muscly, and sexy as hell. Yeah, Ian took on look at him and wanted to climb him like a tree. Not that we could blame him after all.

Once we had the right guy, we knew that Hollis had to know the whole truth. All of it. Ian couldn’t be allowed to hold anything back when it came to his past. It couldn’t be something that was standing between them, or they’d never make it long term. That was a big secret to reveal. It was a scary weight for Ian to place on Hollis, but it was also a terrifying thing for Hollis to deal with. He had his own emotions to process, but he was also worried about how to treat Ian after he knew. Hollis didn’t want to cause Ian any more pain than he’d already suffered.

With some time and hard work, Ian and Hollis found their balance.

But the work wasn’t done.

When Rinda and I started working on Rialto, we realized that while Boris Jagger might be dead and gone, his ghost was still haunting them both. Trauma and suffering like what Ian suffered was not something that was easily dealt with. It’s an ongoing healing process. It’s baggage that needs to be unpacked rather than hidden away and ignored.

As Ian faced an unknown villain in Rialto, we knew it was time for Ian and Hollis to face some very hard truths and start working to some healing that was long overdue if they were going to get their happily ever after. Sometimes, the steps we take to protect ourselves can be more damaging than the pain we’re trying to avoid.

And while the Unbreakable Boys are always there to support Ian, this was a step that Ian and Hollis had to take on their own.

I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing about the creation of Ian and Hollis from the Unbreakable Bonds world. If you’ve not read the series yet, we hope that you make a stop in Cincinnati and meet the boys. The series is now complete with eight novels and four short story collections. Jump into the adventure today!

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Categories: Book Promo, Excerpts, Giveaways, Honorary Blogger Post, LGBT, Published in 2019 | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Honorary Blogger Sara Dobie Bauer: Revisiting the Past + Excerpt!

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Revisiting the Past

by Sara Dobie Bauer

My new novel, We Still Live, takes place in a small fictional Ohio town called Hambden. This is the home of Hambden University, a place shrouded in darkness following a tragic shooting the spring before our story begins. Yes, Hambden is fictional—but the setting of We Still Live (and subject matter) is very, very real.

There are those who say, “Write what you know.” Eh, I’m not a big fan of that old literary adage. Sometimes, though, sometimes, I completely understand writing what I know, especially when it comes to setting. 

I attended Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, where I earned my creative writing degree and probably lost half my liver. (It’s a party school and annually hosts one of the biggest Halloween celebrations in the country.) When I considered the setting for We Still Live, Athens came immediately to mind, although I didn’t want to set the book literally in Athens because I don’t want the horror of a shooting to linger over any school—even if the shooting is fictional.

As I wrote, I time traveled. In my crazy brain, I went back to Athens for We Still Live. Granted, I pay my alma mater a drunken visit every two years or so. I know the place better than I know Cleveland, where I currently live. Still, I conjured memories of Athens, Ohio …

The way Ellis Hall (the arts building) smelled.

How my favorite tree (a white sycamore on College Green) changed with the seasons.

The scent of wet leaves and clove cigarettes as Halloween approached.

The frigid wind of winter.

The wicked spring rainstorms that made rivers run down Court Street.

The weeping angel statue in the cemetery up the hill.

Many of these references make their way into We Still Live because setting in a book is almost as important as character. In fact, the setting can be a character. I love when I successfully invoke a place—its sights, sounds, and smells—for my reader. Athens (Hambden) was easy to invoke due to my familiarity, and it was fun revisiting a favorite place from my past.

I’ve done this with other books, too. The Bite Somebody series is based in Longboat Key, Florida, where I’ve vacationed every spring for years. Destiny’s Dark Light is in Charleston, South Carolina, where I lived and lost and loved. Of course, I’ve imagined places, too. In the Escape Trilogy, for instance, I couldn’t literally travel back to New Orleans in the early 1800s—but I could research. I could also dream.

That’s why I’m not big on the “write what you know” thing. Writing is about imagination. Most of the time, it’s fun to not write what you know and see what new things you learn.

What setting from your past deserves to be immortalized? Or what new setting would you like to create? Continue reading

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Honorary Blogger A.F. Henley: My Oh-So-Very-Biased Notes + Exclusive Excerpt & Giveaway!

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My Oh-So-Very-Biased Notes

by A.F. Henley

Hello! And thank you for joining me on the last stop of my But by the Grace of Dog release tour. I hope everyone is excited for a two-part giveaway (details further down the post) and an exclusive excerpt (also following below). As always, sharing with the fine group of readers within this genre has been a blast, and I’m honoured to be here at The Blogger Girls to tie up all the loose ends and give everyone one final shot at the prizes.

But by the Grace of Dog is one story about many newfound loves – the love between two men, the love between a person and a dog, and also the love of one’s self. It follows Thom Baron’s journey along the path of a brand new relationship—the thrills, the fun, the obstacles, and the self-realisation—as Thom learns how to not only express himself, but also deal with himself. The dog helps an awful lot with that process. As dogs tend to do with pretty much anything we ask them to.

Personally, I don’t know what I’d do without my fur babies. I only have two these days as apartment living can be a bit limiting:

But, it’s only been a few years since I’ve had to leave the animal rescue portion of my life behind (foster, rehab, raise-and-release, all very above board and sanctioned). So, I thought it would be fun to set the mood for this upcoming series, and end this blog tour by running through my oh-so-very-biased notes on the different kinds of animals I’ve met along the way. Some were rescues, some were pets, but they were all an amazing part of my life for some time.

If you enjoy, agree, or even if you completely disagree with my assessments, please feel free to share in a comment!

  • Dog – I have been blessed by the fact that I’ve never known a bad dog in my entire life. There have been some that were cautious, and some that didn’t really care much about anything or anyone beyond their own personal human, but they’ve all been wonderful and I consider every one of them—even the cautious and disinterested ones—some of my very best friends in the world.
  • Cat – What to say about a cat that hasn’t already been said a hundred times? How about this: cats are actually far more lovable than comics and memes make them out to be. They do get bored easily, though. Also, many of them, no matter how lovable they are, just cannot stop themselves from serenading you at three in the morning. Just make up whatever lie you need to in order to keep loving them when they do it. I usually try to tell myself that it’s his way of protecting me from the evil spirits that rise in the night. Or that he’s making sure I’m not dead. 
  • Raccoon – These little fellows definitely get a bad rap that, for the most part, they don’t deserve. They can be as lovable as a dog, and as clever as a cat. They will defend what they believe is theirs, as they should, but if they feel comfortable and are in an unthreatening environment, they are so, so, soooo chill. Peanut butter sandwiches will win you all kinds of appreciation.
  • Squirrel – Speaking of raps that aren’t deserved… cute, right? Sweet? Adorable? *sound of a loud error buzzer* At their very best, these furry little demons-on-speed are cheeky. At their worst, they are the devil’s own. They will destroy everything you love and laugh at you while you curse them out. They are super soft and look really adorable when they’re sleeping, though.
  • Rat – The rodent version of a dog. Loyal, smart, trainable, and they’ll eat just about anything. Once they get to know you they will never forget you.  
  • Possum – It’s hard to get too close to something with saw blades for teeth. But like most things, if you’re calm and patient and feed them good stuff, they’ll probably let you live.
  • Mouse – Here’s the thing about mice: if you’re wondering if you’ve managed to separate the females from the males, all I can tell you is that you haven’t. Also, if they’ve been together for longer than two-point-four minutes, it’s too late. You are now the proud owner of six mice. Whoops, now it’s fifteen. Thirty. Eighty. Four hundred. It’s too late for you. They now own your house and are evicting you to make room for the nineteen-hundredth generation.
  • Fawn – Looking into the eyes of a new fawn will show you the deepest secrets of the universe. Be careful, once you know, you can’t un-know. 
  • Bearded Dragon – The chillest (and chilliest) animal known to humankind. If you’re warm, and you are because you’re alive, then you are its best friend.
  • Chinchilla – This animal was sculpted out of the soft down found under the feathers of angel’s wings. It is also as fast as hot snot.
  • Flemish Giant – Not an actual “giant” unless you’re referring to all the other rabbits, then yes, it is the rabbit version of Andre the Giant. If you’re thinking that a rabbit the size of a medium dog would be absolutely adorable, then you are 100% correct.
  • Ferret – As if a cat and a squirrel had a baby. Which means they can be completely wild and also amazingly loving. Plus, they don’t scream like a dying demon at three in the morning.
  • Hairless Guinea Pig – Also known as the House Hippo, which is a reference that you won’t get unless you’re Canadian and of a “certain age.” Think hot water bottle come to life, with a tiny little hippo face and a tendency to squeal when you open the fridge door because it knows the strawberries are kept in there.
  • Canada Goose – not as evil as everyone says… unless they feel threatened. Then, oh good gods, run. Hide. 

I know I’m missing some, but I’ve taken up enough of everyone’s time already. I hope you enjoyed the post, and I truly hope you’re inspired enough with my love of all things furry, scaled, and feathered, to check out But by the Grace of Dog. Don’t forget to keep reading for an exclusive excerpt, the giveaway, and that handy little purchase link in case you just can’t wait another second to own your very own copy.

Man + Dog + Neighbour = True Love (but does it equal a HEA?)

Lots of love to the Blogger Girls and all my thanks for hosting me today. It’s been a blast. And tons of love to you, too, for joining me! It’s been a blast. 😊

All my love,

AF Henley ❤ Continue reading

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Honorary Blogger Isabelle Adler: Writing Fantasy Romance + Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Writing Fantasy Romance

by Isabelle Adler

Hi, I’m Isabelle! I write LGBTQ romance in a variety of genres, including sci-fi, paranormal, fantasy, and contemporary. My newest release, The Wolf and the Sparrow, is what you may call a classic fantasy story, complete with its own unique world and magic system. Set in a pseudo-medieval world, it focuses on two heirs of noble families that enter an arranged marriage for political reasons and are initially less than impressed with each other. But as the plot progresses and the political situation around them threatens to escalate into a full-blown war, they team up, driven by the duty to protect their subjects. Together, they must face sea-raiders, hostile magic-wielders, and old enemies, but the hardest trial of all are the dark secrets from their past that might yet tear them apart.

Today I would like to talk about the inspiration and the challenges behind writing a fantasy romance novel. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by story of whimsy and imagination—from fairy tales to hard sci-fi and high fantasy. The Lord of the Rings was one of my favorite books growing up, and had had a huge influence on me, both as a person and as a writer. However, it wasn’t until much later that I discovered the combination of fantasy and the romance genre, and, specifically, queer romance in fantasy. These stories (such as Lynn Flewelling’s amazing Nightrunner series) had opened a world of new and exciting possibilities of representing characters that don’t often feature in mainstream fantasy and speculative fiction.

For me, the most challenging thing is definitely finding the right balance between interesting worldbuilding, an engaging plot, and a romance that would satisfy the reader looking for that exciting emotional rollercoaster that culminates in a sweet Happy-Ever-After. I tend to focus on the plot when I’m planning the story, but ultimately, it’s all about the characters and their journey. In a fantasy setting, the stakes can be quite high (in The Wolf and the Sparrow, the fates of entire realms hang in the balance), but the emotional obstacles the main characters have to overcome must feel just as important. The external conflict must intertwine with the transformation each character undergoes inside—and just as the case is with perils and adventures, the heroes have to look for each other for help and support. It’s not enough to rescue each other and save each other’s lives—it’s all about opening up to each other to let love take root and blossom amidst the adversity.

Hopefully, I’ve managed to hit just the right level of excitement and romance in The Wolf and the Sparrow and create characters that the readers could relate to. This book had been a labor of love, and I hope people will have as much fun reading the story as I had writing it! Continue reading

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