A BJ Review: Junk Mage by Elliot Cooper

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Rating:    4 stars out of 5

Junk MageWhen technomancer Quillian Defote crash-lands on remote planet Marutuk, he has limited time to repair his ship and get off world. If he fails, he’ll forfeit his position as professor of mechanical transmutation at the prestigious Ivy Arcanarium and ruin his employment prospects in yet another sector.

Hunter, a cyborg guarding a junkyard that holds what Quill needs, is charmed by the wayward mage and wants to help him. But Hunter is bound by honor to dutifully guard his mistress and her possessions, no matter how cruelly she treats him.

Together Quill and Hunter stand a chance of starting a new life together if carnivorous wildlife, a violent necromancer, and stubborn pride don’t keep them apart.

For the first bit, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this story. It took me a while to get into it and begin to care about the characters and fully understand all that was going on. However, that changed for me at the thirty percent or so mark.

Really excellent world-building especially for such a short novella. It’s actually science fiction, but for some reason it almost reads like outer space steampunk sorta. This world is intricate and has a TON of potential, and I wish this story had been longer in order to explore more and really do it justice.

However, even in this short length, we get lots of interesting creatures, magic, computer tech, cyborgs, just all sorts of fun stuff. There was a ton of potential, but I couldn’t quite give it five stars because I felt it ended too soon and could have been filled out a lot more. There are so many ideas, so much going on in this, it could easily have been twice as long I think. As it was, it felt rather rushed due to the length. I found myself longing for more sensuousness, more feels, more UST maybe. But that is just me, a personal taste thing maybe.

Quill is a great character. I enjoyed the type of mage he is… junk mage is a great title. I enjoyed Quill’s rather laid-back attitude. He is nothing like your typical hero. In fact, it seems he’s been rather a screw up in the past due to his attitude. I like how he cared about everyone else even when he was in danger of losing his job and maybe even his life on that strange planet. Despite his predicament, he cared about the dangerous little narl… and the dangerous cyborg with the gun… and even the evil mage who tried to kill them.

Hunter the cyborg was also a great character, and I wanted to know more about him than we were given. Adored how touched he was by the gift of the ereader, his love for books resonated with me. And then when he immediately found the m/m erotica, that was great!

Although there could easily have been a lot of angst in this, there was very little. This didn’t come across as a sweet, flowery romance, neither was it a smoking hot erotic read–there was actually no sex. It was more an imaginative, action-packed story of two men with good hearts finding each other… and then your imagination has to take it from there. Unless there ends up being sequel.  Which would be good, because I could totally see this taking off as a series. Plenty of potential.

And I must mention the hideous narls (bone sucking creatures!). Junior was great. I rather wondered what was going on with him though, like why was he different that the others? Why did he need Quill’s help at one point from a gang of other narls and then turn and face a gang of them to save another smaller narl later on? What had changed? Regardless, the narls were cool. And the thing with the eyes and the goggles, oh my. Loved that.

The cover is nice but I think it may be part of why this read as steampunk to me even though it’s sci-fi. The cover rather screams steampunk for me.

Sales Links

      NineStar Press  

Book Details: 

ebook, 49 pages
Published July 4th 2016 by NineStar Press
ISBN139781911153580
Edition LanguageEnglish
URLhttp://ninestarpress.com/product/junk-mage/

A Jeri Review: The Wicked West Collection (Vol 1) by Shannon West

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Rating: 3 Stars out of 5

The Wicked West CollectionHot guy on the cover? Sure! Anything to draw your eye, but it was rather generic. Four short stories by one author. And when I say short- I mean short. They all touched on a different “theme” if you will, and while they were ok, the fluff factor is high.

Getting Plugged

This was by far the most out there of the stories. Charlie, while experimenting, gets himself in a predicament and has to call out sick to work. His boss, Trevor, rushes to his aid. Apparently, they had never really spoken before but Trevor  runs to his house to help him out. What could, and should, be a seriously embarrassing situation turns into Trevor alluding to the fact that he is a dom and Charlie is a sub just waiting to happen. Like I said, it was pretty far out there and besides the self love, there was no sex in this short.

Getting Played

I think this was the most promising of the four stories. Twinky office guy at a police station has to take self defense classes ordered by his boss. The super hot detective Zach has been eyeing just happens to be the teacher. And when Zach mouths off, Cole decides to teach him a lesson.

What follows are a series of pretty hot role playing scenarios between the two. The most entertaining and hottest of the 4 stories by far.

Getting Picked

The trope we all tend to fall for- friends to lovers. In this story we have another Cole, a vet returning from war damaged but not broken. His best friend, the seemingly straight Ben, rushes to see him in the hospital.

After being released from the hospital, Cole and Ben kind of dance around their attraction to each other. Cole is out and proud and has loved Ben for as long as he could remember. But every time something happens between them, Ben freaks out. So Cole gives him an ultimatum.

This was the storiest (yes, I made that word up) of the stories. While it is a tried and true trope, I liked that the out gay guy was the one who served in the military, leaving the “straight” best friend home. I actually really liked the story of how they became friends in kindergarten. I would love for this one to be expanded on as a full novel.

Getting Pierced

This one plays more on the Dom/sub. Ross loses a bet and has to get pierced. But not his ears. And he said not to his belly button and nipples. So that leaves…..

And then he runs into his boss at the bar. His hot boss. We get a bit of back story on Ross and Sloane, which was nice and helped the rest of the story flow. Sloane takes control of the situation, and Ross, by basically claiming him there and then.

There is quite an exploration of the beginnings of a Dom/sub relationship here that held a lot of promise. This story also could go quite a bit further.

Sales Links

 

Book Details:

Available June 30th, 2016 exclusively on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited!

Kindle Edition
Published June 30th 2016 by Dark Hollows Press LLC
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Stella Review: Daniel & Erik’s Super Fab Ultimate Wedding Checklist by K. E. Belledonne

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RATING: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Daniel and Erik's Super Fab Ult Wedding ChecklistWhen Daniel gets caught up in the demands of a cheeky wedding planning app, his fiancé Erik grows frustrated with his preoccupation with adhering to heterosexual traditions. Will Daniel’s groomzilla ways give them the wedding of their dreams, or ultimately lead to their relationship’s demise?

When I first start reading Daniel & Erik’s Super Fab Ultimate Wedding Checklist by K.E. Belledonne I have to admit I was a little dubious about the writing.  I’m not a fan of the style the author chose to write the story, other times the switch between the present and the past often turned me off and made me confused. The beauty of discovering a new author! K.E. surprised me and let me like this writing style a lot. It was well done, the story flew easily, not only, I was anxiously waiting for the switch so I could learn more about the MCs, how they fell in love and who propose to whom, till the present time where Daniel is going crazy following Aurora, the wedding app, and its checklists.

I liked the story very much, it was cute and sweet, just how I like my books to be. What conquered me were the characters, I found myself caught up in Daniel and Erik’s wedding planning, I struggle with them and the various hitches they met while deciding the endless details for the perfect wedding Daniel wants. And my sympathy went to Erik, his patience and solid love for his forever man.

I loved the plot, IMO it was perfect because the author was able to give the characters a depth and a realism I wasn’t expecting in a book like this. Not just the main ones, but all of them were funny and smart. K.E. did a great job in the  relationship between the MCs, I loved (key word) how they interacted, how they were mature enough to stop and think about their future and brave enough to fight for their love. I loved the dialogues and the writing in general.

Daniel & Erik’s Super Fab Ultimate Wedding Checklist by K.E. Belledonne was a beautiful surprise, a winner for me. I want to highly recommend it to everyone who is looking for a romantic story. You won’t be disappointed.

The cover art by CB Messer is funny and fitting and so adorable as the whole story.

Sales Links
Interlude Press

        

BOOK DETAILS

Kindle Edition, 188 pages
Published June 23rd 2016 by Interlude Press
Original TitleDaniel & Erik’s Super Fab Ultimate Wedding Checklist
ASINB01F6J3THU
Edition LanguageEnglish

Love Finds Perfect Harmony with ‘All Note Long’ by Annabeth Albert (excerpt and giveaway)

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All Note Long Blitz BannerTitle: ALL NOTE LONG

Author: Annabeth Albert

Series Title and Number: Perfect Harmony, Book 3, but stands alone well too

Publisher: Kensington

Cover Artist: Cora Graphics/Kensington

Release Date: August 2, 2016

Heat Level: 4 (explicit m/m sex, but lots and lots of plot too!)

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: aprox. 80,000 words/ 232 pages

Genre/Tags: Romance, M/M Romance, contemporary romance, multi-cultural

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AllNoteLong

Synopsis

Giving true love a spin . . .

Michelin Moses is a country music star on the rise. With a hit single under his Texas-sized belt buckle and a sold-out concert tour underway, his childhood dreams of making it big are finally coming true. But there’s one thing missing—a promise to his dying mother that he’d find it—him—when the time was right. With a little luck, he won’t have to wait too long . . .

Lucky Ramirez is a hunky boy toy who dances at The Broom Closet, one of West Hollywood’s hottest gay bars. He loves what he does, and he’s good at it—almost as good as he is at playing dumb when he spots Michelin Moses at the bar. What happens next is off the charts—and keeps Michelin coming back for more. He’s just not sure it’s the right move for his career. But if Lucky gets his way, Michelin will get Lucky—and no matter how the media spins it, neither of them will be faking it . . .

Excerpt

Michelin Moses had no business at a gay bar, especially not one as notorious as West Hollywood’s The Broom Closet. And the line to get in totally underscored that—the vestibule was a long, narrow tunnel filled with kids out to enjoy their Friday night. Babies, really. Fresh-faced young things who probably didn’t even need to shave jostled one another in the tight space, laughing and joking as they admired one another’s club wear and gossiped about who was fucking who.

Not that Michelin was listening in, but the space was so tiny it was hard not to. He didn’t have club wear to ogle. He had “please for the love of God don’t notice me” clothes. And the idea of openly pointing to another dude in line and announcing to one’s friends, “Oh yeah, I hit that last weekend” was so totally foreign that he couldn’t help but gape a bit. The plexiglass walls of the tunnel gave off weird shadows—neither the lights outside the club nor the dim track lighting along the bottom edge of the tunnel were enough illumination.

He tugged at the collar of his Henley shirt. Damn, it was hot in here. Too small. Too tight. Not enough air. Shut up. He was not claustrophobic. If this line ever moved, he’d feel better once he was inside the Closet.

If that’s not a metaphor for your whole damn life…

“ID please.” Finally, the line reached the bouncers who were taking ID. Michelin couldn’t even remember the last time he’d had to stand around like this, show ID. At least unlike these nineteen-year-olds with their fake identification, Michelin’s Oregon driver’s license was likely to hold up. The bouncer was a huge guy—so tall and jacked that Michelin felt for the tiny stool that held him up—with surprisingly small, delicate hands.

He held the card aloft before finally handing it back and nodding. “Okay, cowboy. Enjoy your night.”

At least he hadn’t laughed outright at the name. That was something. Shoving his license back in his wallet, he stumbled a bit coming out of the tunnel.

“Watch it,” someone barked behind him.

“Sorry,” Michelin mumbled. Hell, he couldn’t even successfully enter the Closet. A nervous laugh bubbled up in his throat, something he stamped right back down. Forget the stupid bar, coming out of his personal closet was out of the question, and he didn’t need the crowd jostling behind him to remind him of that.

“This your first time here?” a kid to the left of him asked—short little guy with far more bravado than brains. Michelin made a noncommittal response but the kid grabbed his sleeve, his eyes going soft and hooded. “How about you be my daddy for the night? We can make sure it’s your lucky night.” The kid winked.

Ugh. Getting lucky wasn’t even remotely in the cards for his night.

“No thanks.” He pulled away from the kid, scanning the cavernous space for signs of the private party room his friends had promised. And oh holy hell, knowing in the abstract that this place had go-go dancers was a far cry from actually seeing said dancers dispersed through the place on platforms and in cages and even on something resembling a trapeze. Gleaming bronze skin and tiny shorts everywhere he looked.

Fuck the private room. I need a soda. Something to relieve his suddenly parched throat. He turned toward the main bar area and ran smack into one of the elevated dancers’ platforms. Two platforms flanked the opening of the club, directing the stream of traffic toward the bar, sort of like how a different sort of place might have large statues. Only instead of works of stone or ice, this…piece of art in front of Michelin was all man.

And what a specimen he was. The dancer probably wasn’t much older than the kids waiting to get into the club, but there was nothing juvenile about his tall, ripped body or that juicy bubble butt that he worked to perfection the way Michelin’s guitar player did a solo—each muscle working in concert with the others, each wiggle carefully choreographed for maximum appeal. Said butt was encased in a pair of shorts. Or at least Michelin guessed that one would call them shorts—they were longer than underwear, but not by much, and made of a clingy, silky red material. The stitching did things to the guy’s package that shouldn’t be legal.

Those muscular legs and that smooth, oiled chest also needed outlawing. The dancer had completed his look with thick, chunky combat boots, sunglasses, and a necklace with a medal on it. The boots and glasses upped the hotness factor to supernova, giving him an untouchable appeal that made it no surprise that he had a fair-sized crowd around his platform. Right as Michelin completed his muscle-by-muscle catalog of the guy, the dancer’s glasses slipped, revealing chocolaty eyes. His eyebrows went up, and the message he sent Michelin was unmistakable: You gonna stay there all night?

Oh fuck. Michelin was blocking the line of traffic, and more important, blocking access to the platform for the patrons who wanted to slip tips in the guy’s waistband.

Should he? He shoved a hand in his pocket, considering. Did he dare risk touching a piece of that gleaming skin? The lights reflecting off the dancer’s body totally made Michelin think of caramel dripping off flan—rich golden tones only enhanced by the contrast of the shiny black combat boots and his closely cropped black hair.

What the fuck was the protocol in a situation like this? Hi, I’m sorry I’ve been eye-fucking you for the last ten minutes, here’s a five? He’d never been to a straight strip club either. Hell, he avoided most bars like the plague. And eye-fucking? He never ogled—and not just because it could be disastrous to his career. Most of the time he simply felt oblivious, but something about the dancer perked up parts of Michelin that usually stayed dormant. Two people shoved around him to stuff money in the dancer’s shorts, their arms trapping Michelin briefly in place. Coming here had been a giant mistake, just as Gloria had warned him.

“You can’t go to that party! Gossip is already high about you mentoring two gay groups—”

“They’re not gay groups. They just happen to have gay members,” Michelin said wearily, already tired of this latest publicist the label had shoved at him.

“Whatever.” Gloria flipped her bony wrist. “They’re a risk you can’t take right now.”

“It’s no big deal. There will be straight people at the party.” Michelin didn’t bother with the “other straight people” pretext. Gloria knew the drill. “There’s no risk in celebrating a friend’s birthday.”

Except now, looking at the dancer, Michelin knew how wrong he’d been. This place was risk personified, and that dancer was the embodiment of everything Michelin denied himself. The dancer was a triple pour of top-shelf whiskey and Michelin couldn’t stop thinking about the heady rush touching him would bring. He should turn around now. Get back to his car now before he really embarrassed himself—

“Mi—boss! There you are!”

Oh thank you, small mercies, that Lucas stopped himself before he said Michelin’s name. Still, Michelin turned toward him warily. Play it cool, he tried to tell Lucas with his eyes.

Lucas nodded, just slightly. Message received. Like everyone else in the club, Lucas was in his early twenties and about a decade younger than Michelin, but at least he was one of Michelin’s favorite kids, especially because he was here to lead Michelin away from the temptation that was the dancer with the sculpture-worthy ass.

“The party room is back this way.” Lucas motioned with his hand. “Follow me.”

“Babe!” A familiar rangy figure with a punk haircut draped himself over Lucas. “You found him.” Cody had a smile for Michelin, but his affection was all for his boyfriend.

Ordinarily, Michelin loved being around the two of them and the other guys he mentored. Their energy was infectious, and their passion for music renewed his own. But tonight, Michelin’s stomach cramped as he followed the two of them to the rear of the club. Happiness practically rolled off them and their movements were totally in sync with each other. Once Michelin had thought he might get to know what that was like, but those days were long past.

“Don’t even think about doing anything now. You’ve got too much riding on this year. Don’t be foolish. You’ve got the number one country song in America right now. Don’t mess with your momentum.” Gloria’s voice rang in his ears. Nope. No way was Michelin ever getting what his friends shared. No sense in pining for it either. He had a career he loved, friends who made him laugh, and family at his back. He’d known what the trade-offs were when he decided to trade his rock stardom for country crossover success.

Tonight’s strange melancholy mood had him aching to get back home, push all these feelings into working on a new song. With any luck, Michelin could say happy birthday to Jalen, make a round of greetings to the other musicians he was mentoring, and get the hell out of Dodge. Preferably without running into the dancer again. He didn’t need another reminder of how little he fit into this world—or how much he wished life were a bit different.

Purchase

Kensington Publishing | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Google Play | Itunes | Kobo Books

All Note Long Square

Meet the Author

Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer.

Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter. In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two children.

Represented by Saritza Hernandez of the Corvisiero Literary Agency

Facebook | Facebook Author Page | Twitter | Tumbler | Fan Group | Newsletter

Giveaway

Rafflecopter Prize: One winner will be selected to win a $20.00 Amazon Gift Card.

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In Our Author Spotlight: Alina Popescu on Writing and her release ‘Dawn to Dusk (Lover’s Journey #1)’ (Author Guest Post, excerpt and giveaway)

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Dawn to Dusk Tour Banner

Title: Dawn to Dusk
Series: Lover’s Journey, Book One
Author: Alina Popescu
Genre: Gay Romance, Contemporary
Length: Novel (over 50000 words)

Writing Down Memory Lane by Alina Popescu

Emotional rollercoasters, nostalgia, broad smiles, stray tears, they are all part of any drive you might take down memory lane. Funny, cathartic, or downright heartbreaking, memories are a great source of inspiration for me. Sometimes it’s about sharing them with the world. Other times (and I got a vampire trilogy out of this one) it’s about purging your own demons. With Dawn to Dusk, I experienced both!

As Dawn to Dusk covers roughly twenty years, from childhood to well into the adulthood of main character Edi, I had a lot to explore. The best part was remembering all the crazy things I used to do as a kid. Running, jumping, climbing trees, playing football or tag, reading the heat away after half an hour to an hour of exploring the cramped shelves of the village library, that sort of thing. Everything Edi does as a child, I did it first! Tomboy much?

While exploring the seemingly never-ending summer days spent in the country side, I had to eventually get to the part where the character grew up. That impression you get, that everything suddenly becomes smaller, less appealing, foreign, that was something I really struggled with. I did not want to let go of the climbing tree part, for example. But when you’re a university student, people don’t think it’s cute anymore. I could have ignored that part, of course, but planting my behind on a tree branch and reading for a few hours suddenly wasn’t that comfortable anymore.

As Edi grew up, I moved on to different memories. High school with all its wonders, moving to the capital for university, the campuses I lived in with their clubs, bars, and cheap, greasy food. The endless possibilities Bucharest had to offer in terms of career, opportunities, entertainment, dining, all contrasting with the small town feel of my home town. Which is actually, technically, a city.

There is a political side to what was happening during my childhood. I did catch a few good years of Communist regime, and then lived through the Revolution of December ‘89. I was safely tucked away at one of my grandmother’s, in a village only thirty kilometers or so from cities where there were shots fired, rumors of terrorists, and people dying to free us from a system that meant little and quite bad food, little comfort, and very, very cold winters.

I expected all of this to be harder to go through that it actually was. Maybe because it happened a long time ago, or maybe because it’s now romanticized by what our brains do with warm, fuzzy memories, I enjoyed every minute of this wild ride. I smiled my way through recollections of meeting people, running free, and growing up. I was even taken aback by how vivid things that happened over twenty years ago still were in my mind’s eye.

In fact, I’ve enjoyed it so much, I can’t wait to do it again in the second book of the series, Dusk to Dawn!

Synopsis

That first encounter with Robert in rural Romania at eleven. A summer spent together in the same setting a year later. Their first text exchange in high school. The first sexual experience. The first heartbreak—the second and third and fourth chance. The point of total breakdown and the despair of failing. More love than anyone could have warned him about.

No matter how much time passes, no matter how different their paths, every meeting brings Edi and Robert closer together. Those stolen moments shine brighter than any. Yet loving Robert is not easy, not when Edi wants to be true to himself and is met with dishonesty. Or when Robert keeps parading new conquests and ignores Edi more often than not.

Edi has always loved Robert, but he must decide if his journey leads to or away from his childhood friend. Is it true love or is Edi just unable to let go?

Dawn to Dusk Cover

Buy Links

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01I8FG8P4
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01I8FG8P4
Amazon DE: https://www.amazon.de/dp/B01I8FG8P4
Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B01I8FG8P4
ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-dawntodusk-2048734-149.html
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/649340

Giveaway

Prizes: 1 x $10 WIP Gift Card, 1 x $5 WIP Gift Card, 1 x ecopy of Br0th3rly (Famous on the Inernet, Book One).

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About the authorAlina Popescu

Writer, traveler, and coffee addict, Alina Popescu has been in love with books all her life. She started writing when she was ten and she has always been drawn to sci-fi, fantasy, and the supernatural realm. Born and raised in Romania, she finds her inspiration in books of all genres, in movies, and the occasional manga comic book. She is a proud geek who needs her fast Internet and gadgets more than she needs air.

Social Links

Site & Blog: http://alina-popescu.com
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/authoralinapopescu
Twitter: http://twitter.com/alina_popescu
Instagram: http://instagram.com/alinapopescuwriter
Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/alina-popescu
Google+:  https://www.google.com/+AlinaPopescu
Amazon:  http://amazon.com/author/alinapopescu

Get Up Close With Author and Narrator Brad Vance on ‘Given The Circumstances’ Audiobook Release (author interview and excerpt)

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Given the Circumstances - Cover

Title:  Given the Circumstances by Brad Vance
Narrator: Brad Vance
Publisher:  AuthorsRepublic
Release Date: July 13, 2016

Length: 03 Hours 30 Minutes
Add to Goodreads

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words was lucky to have Brad Vance here today to share his thoughts about his latest novel now out as an audiobook and his part as its narrator and author.  Welcome, Brad. So, lets get into it.

  •  As an author, how does it feel to not only be your own narrator but hear your book when the audio version is released?  Are you surprised? Are there any differences in the way you imagined it would sound?

It’s always weird at first to hear a recorded version of your own voice. I was originally horrified when the first audiobook, A Little Too Broken, came out, and I listened to the Audible/Amazon samples. “Oh my God that sounds terrible! I put out a terrible audiobook!” Only after I listened to the sample on iTunes, which was much higher quality, and bought the official product, did I realize that Amazon skimps on the web page sample quality, so that’s why it sounded so terrible. Definitely put a scare in me, though!

  •  When writing a story that covers so many subjects, a man questioning his sexuality, coming out of the closet, substance abuse, and combine that with a burgeoning romance and professional sports…well, how do you keep it from getting out of balance?  Not one or the other overwhelming your main storyline?

It’s tough. I always start with an outline. I’m totally dependent on the Seven Point Story Structure format to start – I get the bones of the whole book out there first. But, as most writers learn, your story and your characters change on you as you write, so the outline has to be rewritten on the fly, to include the arc changes you find yourself making.

The pro sports part is a big balance issue. I do a lot of research for my books, and I want my readers to feel like they’re really living the lives of my characters. And I just don’t see the point of giving someone a job like quarterback or outfielder, and then not painting that part of their lives. Playing pro sports are these guys’ lifelong dreams, and you’re cheating the reader out of some part of their identity if you just say, “he’s a football player, isn’t that hot, now let’s never discuss football again.”

On the other hand, there’s the risk of turning off readers who don’t understand the sports or aren’t interested. I don’t get great international sales on Given the Circumstances because American football and baseball are mysteries to most readers outside the US. So if I have a color commentary on an entire football game, it’s necessary as a plot point, but it’s a risk because it can push readers out of the story who know nothing about I formations, roll outs, pockets etc.

  •  When writing such stories, are you pulled emotionally into your storyline?

Oh yeah. Pretty much everything my characters feel is something I’ve felt. If I hadn’t, then there’d be no emotional impact – it would just be schmaltz, a Lifetime movie. Even more so when I narrate them – I found myself bursting into tears more than a couple times during both books. I always knew when I was writing, for instance, the parts about Brian and his quest for a father figure, that I was expressing my own needs there, but…when you’re writing it’s a different headspace than when you’re vocalizing it. Really saying those things out loud had me in torrents sometimes. At first I would try and stop myself, Boys Don’t Cry and all that, but eventually I just gave in, got it out, let the tape roll, and fixed it later in editing and production. When Tom’s dad is crying in the big finish to A Little Too Broken? That’s not acting! That’s me crying like a baby.

  • What comes first?  Your characters or your plot?

I’d say concept comes first. Given the Circumstances came about when pro baseball player Ryan Braun was caught using performance enhancing drugs, and there was a bunch of stuff in the news about how it had maybe destroyed his deep friendship with quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who’s Mr. Straight Arrow and had no idea. And some Beavis and Butthead part of me said, “Heh. What if they were gay lovers. Heh.” And it’s crazy shit like that sometimes that makes the gong ring in your head, and this gate opens up, and all the rest comes rushing out. What if they were! And I was off to the races.

At first it was just going to be a thinly disguised erotica story. I had no plans to make it a novel. But then I wrote the first scene and…there they were! Real people! And all the stuff in the book starting coming to me, the father figure stuff, the search for an escape and an edge in life vs. the dogged determination and self reliance (the whole “Marshmallow Test” theme), homophobia in such homoerotic sports, etc. That’s when I set up the outline and started designing it as a novel.

  • How much of yourself, if any, crops up in your characters? 

A lot, depending on the book. Jamie in A Little Too Broken has a lot of me, and Dane in Apollo’s Curse basically is me (minus 20 years!). But every character has reactions and emotions that I’ve had. Dex in Have a Little Faith in Me is closeted, which I’ve never been, but I’ve had his moments of rage and frustration, the sense of being locked out of some wonderful fun that everyone else is having but you, and I work all that into my people.

  •  Some of Given the Circumstances occurs when the characters are in school, looking back, what advice would you give yourself at an earlier age?

I wrote about that in Would I Lie to You, where Jesse asks Marc, if you could go back in time, what would you do differently? And Marc says, it’s Catch-22. If I went back and changed something, then the person I became instead would have a different regret, and he’d be sitting here wishing he could go back and change something else. I don’t know that with my biology, my upbringing, my temperament, that there’s anything I could have said to Mini-Me that he would have listened to a word of it.

  •  What’s your favorite genre (s) to read?  As a child, as a teenager and now as an adult?

As a kid it was science fiction. I still read it sometimes, but not as ravenously. Now it’s mostly history. I love to read about places and people I know nothing about, and a really good narrative history writer is better than most novelists these days.

  •   What’s next for Brad Vance?

More audiobooks! Apollo’s Curse is in production now, and I’ve listed myself on ACX as a professional narrator, so we’ll see how that goes. I plan on turning my whole backlist into audio eventually.

I’m also doing professional editing work now for other selfpub authors. Can I plug that here? https://bradvanceauthor.com/brad-vance-editorial-services/

It’s harder and harder every day for authors to make a living just writing, so I’m expanding into these directions as well. If I can’t be a full time writer, then the goal is to stay employed as a “creative” in other capacities, and never have to go back to Cubicle City!

Thank you, Brad.  I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed this interview.  Now more about Brad’s latest audiobook, Given the Circumstances.

Given the Circumstances Square

Synopsis

Two promising college athletes meet, each needing something only the other can give him…

When Roger and Brian lock eyes on the first day of school, a friendship is born. Both men are hungry for connection – Brian needs the acceptance, encouragement and support he never had growing up, and when he finds out his new best friend is gay, it brings his own sexual identity into question. Roger needs a big brother, a best friend, but that will never be enough, especially not when he’s this close to big, strong, handsome Brian.

And both men want something more – careers as professional athletes. For Roger, the demands of the closet, the need to reject the love of a man to fulfill his love of the game, will be a crushing burden. For Brian, his downfall will be the substances he uses to get an edge over the competition, and to suppress his gnawing self-doubt and guilt.

One set of desires will bring them together, the other will force them apart…

Genre: Romance
Sub-Genre
: Sports Romance, New Adult
Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex
Pairing: Male/Male

 

Excerpt

Just give me another minute, Brian appealed. But his feet didn’t listen, they kept propelling him forward, and his hand went to the door handle. I’m not ready.

It didn’t matter, he knew. He was here, the die was cast, as Caesar had said. He opened the door and walked in.

Look at them, he told himself. Brainiacs. What are you doing here? It was Cal State Berkeley, man. Not Party Hearty State College, where he maybe, probably, should have gone. It wasn’t Lessing College, where he’d at least been able to keep his scholastic head above water.

He had a year of sitting out ahead of him, a year in academia alone for the first time in his life. Fucking insane stupid NCAA transfer rules that deny an athlete a whole year in his prime, for what? To keep you chained to the wheel, for the benefit of the schools and the coaches and the boosters, never the student, no matter what claptrap they spouted about academic excellence, stay the course, blah blah blah.

There was nobody with a hand on his shoulder, nobody to whisper, “You belong here.” He was on a baseball scholarship, or would be next year. This year he was here on a boatload of student loans. And like anyone else in his situation, who’d made a huge change and realized it couldn’t be unchanged, his blood had gone ice cold and he’d thought, What have I done?

Everyone in the classroom was in their own little world, not even looking up at the new guy. Nobody looks at anybody, he thought, anywhere ever. Trying to make eye contact with people on campus was like a contact sport where the goal was to avoid contact. Some people were oblivious, in their own world. Some people were shy, some people were assholes. But almost nobody wanted to look at you, just nod, and smile, and say “Hey.” To just be…civilized. They acted like you were going to ask them for spare change, or beg them to join your cult. It was the first time in his life he’d been somewhere he didn’t know anyone. And it sucked.

But one guy in the classroom looked at him right away. A fellow jock, no doubt – another guy always watching patterns, movements, making sure no detail of the action escaped his attention.

The guy nodded, Brian nodded back. The desk on his left was empty, and Brian took it. Something tense unknotted inside him, now that he’d finally had his first friendly moment of the day, of his new life. It was something he’d needed like a glass of water.

“Hey, I’m Roger,” the dude said, offering his hand. He looked familiar to Brian, with his dark hair and big blue eyes, the ultra-white sclera of a clean-living man, and the pale skin of someone who either spent this last summer indoors or had sensitive skin. He looked to be just short of Brian’s own height of six foot four, but not as beefy as Brian. He had a firm grip, and a big hand. A really big hand. Meaty and work-toughened, like his own. Football, Brian thought. Was he a wide receiver? I feel like I should know who he is…

“I’m Brian.” Roger looked at Brian, at his serious handsome face, tanned from the summer he’d spent outdoors without any of the sunscreen Roger applied rigorously. He took in Brian’s dark hair and dark eyes, and felt his grip match Roger’s own.

Put it back, Roger told himself. But “it” was out – he was young and horny and this guy was…hot. He’s a big bastard, he’s got to be 240 at least. All muscle, heroic shoulders and chest. Rolling on top of you, wrestling with you, pinning you down, one of the one tenth of one percent of guys in the world who are bigger than you, who can do that, who can win that fight, the fight you’d put up to make him prove his worth, all the while wanting to lose, refusing to lose, thrilled to lose…

And then what? he said, discipline kicking in like it did every time now, every time he met a hot guy. Walk it forward. Let’s say he’s gay, and you fall in love, and then you’re a couple, and then everyone knows you’re gay, and that’s it for your NFL dreams, buddy.

No. He’d put too much into it for too long, to lose it in exchange for a couple quick spurts. Nobody knows who you’re thinking about when you jerk off, he thought. That’s all you get for the next ten years. Just…remember him. And use this tonight.

Dude is intense, Brian thought, feeling the force of Roger’s gaze.

Then there was no more time for conversation, as the professor dashed in the door, hair and papers flying behind him. “Good morning. As they say on the plane, our destination today is the Italian Renaissance. If that is not your destination, you’re on the wrong flight.”

That broke the first class tension, the tension when you didn’t know if the professor was going to be a flake, or an asshole, or an idiot, or a bore.

Purchase

Amazon | Audible | iTunes

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Meet the Author

Brad Vance writes gay romance, erotica and paranormal stories and novels, including the breakout hits “A Little Too Broken” and “Given the Circumstances.”

Email: BradVanceErotica@gmail.com
Website: http://www.BradVanceErotica.wordpress.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/brad.vance.10

Tour Schedule

Aug 1 – Erotica For All
Aug 2 – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Minds
Aug 3 – Diverse Reader
Aug 4 – Blog of Andrew Grey
Aug 5 – BFD Book Blog

Aug 8 – Cryselle’s Bookshelf
Aug 9 – Dean Frech
Aug 9 – Gay Book Reviews
Aug 10 – Dog-eared Daydreams
Aug 10 – Alpha Book Club
Aug 11 – Bayou Book Junkie
Aug 12 – Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents