Taylor V. Donovan on Writing, Style and her release “Six Degrees of Lust“ (author guest post and giveaway)

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Six Degrees of Lust (By Degrees #1) by Taylor V. Donovan

Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Taylor V. Donovan here today to talk about writing and her release Six Degrees of Lust. Welcome, Taylor!

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Hello, everyone!

My name is Taylor V. Donovan and I’m an author of gay romance and suspense. Today I’m here to talk about writing…about my voice and my style. Thank you so much to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for hosting me!

Those of you who have read my work already know my stories are mostly inspired by everyday situations. For those of you who have yet to read my work and have absolutely no clue what to expect, I’ll tell you that realism is my “thing.” There’s no magic penis that’ll cure anything and everything, but my characters are full of love, commitment, hope, and determination to be happy. Also, making my readers part of my characters’ journey is my main goal. The ride is never a quick or easy, but hopefully you’ll feel emotionally invested.

My first title was contracted in May 2011. My first story, a freebie called Heatstroke, was published in July of 2011. Since then I’ve become very familiar with reviews and readers’ reactions to my work. I’ve met other readers clamoring for “different” stuff. I’ve learned there are professional reviewers, neutral reviewers that focus on craft, mean reviewers that make authors reconsider whether they’re cut out for writing or not, passionate readers that offer their opinions in the form of a review, reviewers that have such firm ideas of how a story should go that they pretty much tell us how we should’ve written the book, reviewers that—

I’ll shut up now. I’m pretty sure you all get my drift, and this post is not about reviews. It’s about my personal journey and individual style as an author, but before we reach that point, I need to get back to basics.

I’ve been reading fiction forever. I adore doing so. It’s been my favorite hobby my entire life.  If I remember correctly, I discovered the romance genre when I was only eleven. A battered Harlequin copy was mixed in with a bunch of magazines my aunt gave me. I read it and I was hooked. Not to Harlequin, but to reading romance.

As a reader, I don’t like gratuitous anything. Books with misunderstandings that go on for at least four chapters, silly bickering written in an attempt to replace real conflict, and too stupid to live characters that should not be allowed out of their houses are, in my opinion, a waste of precious reading time and an insult to my intelligence. And boy, don’t get me started on the sex. I mean, I most definitely enjoy a hot sex scene, but it’d better not be the only thing happening in the book, and it better mean something. Porn without plot and stroke stories are not for me. When the only thing growing between the main characters is their erections I cannot help but to feel turned off and frustrated.

I want a solid plot. I want realistic characters and situations. I don’t want to escape the world. I want to see how these guys who become real to me the moment I start reading deal with every day issues. I want to get emotionally invested and cheer on the guys until they find their way to happiness.  And you know what? That doesn’t always happen within 50,000 words and fifteen chapters.

If you’ve been following my writing career you know I’m not a rookie author anymore, even though I only have a few titles to my name. Life happened to me, so yeah… To date I have three published stories: HeatstrokeSix Degrees of Lust, Six Degrees of Separation, Hearsay, and Disasterology 101, which is currently being formatted for re-release. But if you’ve read my work then you also know I don’t stick to any specific formulas. There are two reasons for this:

1. I write what I like to read, and

2. early on I decided to let the characters do the talking.

Every one of my stories, both published and works in progress, began with just one character. Sometimes he turns out to be the MC, but not always. He’d much rather be in the background and wait until the time is right for him, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have lots to say and things he needs to bring to the table.

That was the case with Logan, one of the characters in my By Degrees series, a romantic suspense featuring a serial killer of gay men and the FBI team leader trying to catch him. Logan demanded his POV was included in Six Degrees of Lust, the first installment in the series. Then another character appeared with the same behavior. And another. And another. And what they had to say needed to be said on their time and on their own terms. I had to listen to them because if I didn’t, their story wouldn’t have been the same. And that, my friends, is how I ended up writing an ensemble serial with unresolved situations. 

Several unresolved situations.

This, of course, will change as the series advances. Sadly, it just could not happen in one book. Not unless I wrote a 2,000-page saga.

Six Degrees of Lust, Second Edition was just released on January 2, and it has received wonderful reviews. Some readers love the format and the build-up. They appreciate the fact that every character has a distinctive voice. Other readers hate the cliffhangers and would’ve preferred the book didn’t have as big a cast, and focused on Sam and Mac’s POVs, the main romantic couple in this installment. All opinions are valid and appreciated. It is a matter of personal taste and to each their own, yes?

But when the first edition of the book released back in 2011, those opinions got me thinking hard and carefully. Should I not write ensemble novels? Should I find a way to silence all those voices even though I know why their story needs to be told a certain way? Should I stick to conventional formulas so that I don’t upset the readers that know what they want (only the MCs) and how it should be (no cliffhangers or open storylines, please)?

Someone told me I need to write more sex. I’ve been advised to stick to a proven, successful formula. I’ve been told I’m better off not including kids in my books. I’ve tried to decide the kind of readers I want to reach: the escapists or the hard-core realists… and I’ve decided that the best thing I can do is to remain loyal to my characters and their journey, however long and bumpy it might be.

All my other stories, and this includes Heavy Hitters, my next title to be released, focus on the main couple. But when/if the time comes for another big cast, I will welcome it with open arms, because they have a right to be heard even if they aren’t the norm.

Just like I’m not.

But enough about me. I want to hear what you guys have to say about this. Are you willing to read out of your comfort zone, or do you prefer to stick to stories similar to the ones you’ve liked the best so far? Why do you feel that way? Could I change your mind? Just kidding on that one. 😉

Come on, guys. Discussion time. Inquiring minds would like to know. 🙂

Xoxo

Taylor

P.S. I’ve brought some copies to give away. Leave a comment and you’ll be entered for a chance to win a set of electronic copies Six Degrees of Lust and Six Degrees of Separation, Second Edition.

P.S. 2 Six Degrees of Lust, Second Edition, releases today. If you read the first version, I’d still recommend you get this one as well, as some characters were fleshed out and, even though the story arc remains basically the same, there are tweaks foreshadowing events in Six Degrees of Separation, which in turn leads to events in Six Degrees of Agony, finally coming to you late 2017.

Good luck!

Six Degrees of Lust, Second Edition

Release date: January 2, 2017

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Blurb

By Degrees; Book One

New York City FBI team leader Samuel Shaughnessy lives for his immediate family and his job. After a marriage gone wrong he has stuck to a firm rule when it comes to relationships: he doesn’t have them. Sexually active and emotionally unavailable keeps him satisfied, especially now that he is in hot pursuit of a serial killer targeting gay men.

Former firefighter Machlan O’Bannon now manages a successful sports bar in Houston and after years of waiting he’s ready to stand up and be the man he always wanted to be: out, proud and drama-free. His politically-aligned family wants to keep him locked in the closet, but Mac just wants to meet the man of his dreams.

One man is as high strung as the other is laid back. A chance meeting brings the two men together, and one night of passion ignites a fire neither can fight. Their lives are not only miles apart, but as different as day and night. They don’t want to get involved, but they might not be able to keep apart.

First Edition published by MLR Press, December 2011.  

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Taylor V. Donovan is a compulsive reader and author of gay romance and suspense. She is optimistically cynical about humanity and a lover of history, museums, and all things 80s. She shamelessly indulges in mind-numbing reality television, is crazy about fashion, and passionate about civil rights and equality for all.

When she’s not writing or making a living in the busiest city in the world, Taylor can be found raising her two daughters and their terribly misbehaved furry baby in their home.

Website

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Goodreads

Giveaway

Taylor Donovan has brought some copies to give away. Leave a comment along with your email address where you can be reached if chosen and you’ll be entered for a chance to win a set of electronic copies Six Degrees of Lust and Six Degrees of Separation, Second Edition.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

An Ali Release Day Review: Block and Strike by Kelly Jensen

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
block-strike-by-kelly-jensenJacob Kendricks is three months out of prison, estranged from his daughter, and ready to get his life on track. Taking care of the bum curled up on his doorstep isn’t part of the plan. When he realizes the man has been assaulted, Jake takes him to the hospital, where he learns that Max is his downstairs neighbor… and that he could really use a friend. Keeping Max in the friend-zone would be easier if he wasn’t so damned cute.

Maxwell Wilson has been bullied for years, and the only person who ever cared lives too far away to come to his rescue. Now his upstairs neighbor is offering support. Max remains cautious, suspecting he is little more than a project for the handsome Jake. When he learns Jake has had boyfriends as well as girlfriends, Max has to reevaluate his priorities—and muster the courage to take a chance at love.

Just when a happy future is within their grasp, life knocks them back down. A devastating blow leaves Max lower than ever and Jake wrestling with regret. They both have to find the strength to stand on their own before they can stand together.
This was a really well done, slow burn love story.  I enjoy slow burn stories but I feel like we rarely see them. As a result I was really excited when I started reading this and realized that’s where the story was going.  These two meet under very bad circumstances and the author takes the time for them to build a believable friendship and then a believable love story.  Both of these men have some issues that they need to work through and it’s something that they do together.  I loved that there was no magic solution……no them falling in love and then all their problems are solved.
I liked Jake’s character a lot.  He was imperfect and he made some mistakes but they were realistic ones and I sympathized with him.  Max was a little harder for me to connect with but he grew on me and I enjoyed the two of them together.  There are a host of side characters and I liked most of them and thought they added to the story.  A bonus is that the ex girlfriend and mothers were not painted as horrible shrews as so often is done in this genre.
My only complaint was that some of the plot twists felt pretty unrealistic to me.  I had to do some suspending of reality in a few places.
Overall though, I really enjoyed this.  I felt it was unique and well done and is a book that I would definitely recommend.
Cover art by Garrett Leigh:  I love the cover.  I think it’s striking and it fits the story perfectly.

Sales Links

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Book Details:

ebook, 266 pages
Expected publication: January 6th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 163533229X (ISBN13: 9781635332292)
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Caryn Review: Alpha Barman (J.T.’s Bar #1) by Sue Brown

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Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

f1ba3-final_suebrown_alphabarman_ebookSue Brown is one of those authors who, for me, sometimes knocks it out of the park, and sometimes her books are just meh.  This book was definitely one of those meh ones.

Jake Tyler was a member of a special operations team who left after he found his brother-in-law Riley – who was also his best friend and member of his team – standing over his sister’s dead body with a bloody knife.  He worked to make sure Riley was convicted, and then abruptly quit and moved to Wyoming, leaving his long time lover Mitch behind.  He opened a bar in a tiny town in Wyoming, and started over, trying to leave everything about his past life behind.  He told no one on his team where he was going, and never even said goodbye to Mitch.

When the remainder of his old team shows up in his bar, Jake is angry and conflicted.  They came because Riley has escaped from prison, and everyone is convinced that he will head straight for Jake, to exact revenge, or to try again to make Jake believe he is innocent.  The team is there to protect Jake, but he doesn’t feel he needs protection, and most of all doesn’t want to be reminded of everything that happened before, and all he walked away from.  Especially Mitch.

At first, I believed the entire set up.  All the guys are tough as nails, intelligent and resourceful, physically imposing, and share that bond that comes from facing danger and saving each other’s lives.  Or that is what they are supposed to be.  But they kept falling short of the set up.  Or the background wasn’t supported at all by their actions.  Riley was supposedly Jake’s best friend for most of his life, married his sister, and they were as close as brothers.  But Jake never even considered listening to Riley’s version of events until Riley tracked him down in Wyoming.  Jake is supposed to be able to predict Riley’s moves because he was the one who trained him, but he never does.  The team is supposed to be the best of the best, and yet their plans to capture or neutralize Riley are pretty amateurish.  And the author spent way longer describing the two days before Riley’s arrival than was necessary, and I got tired of Jake angsting over Mitch, over Howie, over how Simon will treat Howie, over whether anyone will be able to eat Moose’s sloppy joes….  Nope, doesn’t make Jake sound all that tough, and certainly not decisive.  Then there was Riley’s progress to the bar, which actually started to get funny:  he escaped!  He must be hitchhiking!  He must be stealing a car!  He has contacts all over, and of course he’s gotten a gun!  How will he be able to get a gun?  He has a Hummer, he could just crash right into the bar!  He got rid of the Hummer, because the team would know he had it!   We’ll never see him coming!  Let’s put the retired Marines outside to reconnoiter!  Lets get those retired Marines inside before they get themselves killed!  Jake, get in the basement!  No, I won’t!  OK, I will!  I must be the one to confront Riley, I will not be in the basement!  I don’t know who edited this, but I’m not impressed.

And it didn’t even end there.  I got the impression that the Ms. Brown thought it would be great (or at least profitable) to write a story consisting entirely of stereotypical alpha males, because they are hot, and therefore six of them will be six times hotter.  Of course the most manly occupation possible is special forces, so that’s what they are.  Although I never saw exactly what organization they were part of – military?  NSA?  CIA?  Who knows, who cares, these guys are oozing testosterone through their hard bodies, and being hot will make up for their inconsistent and frankly stupid actions.  And rambling plot with huge holes.  Don’t get me wrong, I also enjoy the occasional dual alpha male story that involves them beating the shit out of each other, or the bad guys, as a form of foreplay (i.e., Ty and Zane in Abigail Roux’s Cut and Run series do that trope excellently), but the author just kind of missed the mark here.  By a mile.

Cover art by Garrett Leigh works perfectly.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 150 pages
Published November 24th 2016 by Sue Brown’s Stories
ASINB01N99W6N4
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesJ.T.’s Bar #1

An Alisa Review: Defrosting Jack by Susan Laine

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

 

defrosting-jackJack Frost has a problem. He’s the mythical power behind the elements of ice, snow, and frost, but his fame is being usurped by a fictional Frozen queen. So Jack’s the grumpiest man in Yuleland and is in need of a naughty distraction.

 

Rudolph Hreinn has a problem, as well. Rudy’s in high demand on Christmas, but the rest of the year he’s scorned by everyone for being different. So Rudy’s the saddest man in Yuleland and desperate for a nice diversion.

 

When the winter sprite and the reindeer shifter meet, after a rocky start, a friendship of like minds is born. Attraction soon follows. But then strange things start to happen. Odd omens warn them of dire consequences for Yuleland and for the winter holidays should they fall for each other.

 

Can love unite two lonely men and save Christmas? It’s the most wonderful time of the year—for some frosty reindeer games.

 

Jack gives off the impression he prefers to be solitary in defense to being continually pushed away.  Rudy has been ridiculed for his heredity and prefers to spend most of his time alone.  They both are tired of denying their attraction for the other and quickly realize they are the perfect counterpart to each other (hot to cold).

 

Jack and Rudy stand by each other through the whole situation, fighting for their love in spite of the consequences that have been foretold.  We see both of their emotions and feelings pretty plainly even though Jack holds his tight to his chest when with others.  I was rooting for these two to get everything worked out and continue building their connection to each other.

 

The cover art is very nice and gives a good visual for the characters.

 

Sales Links: Siren Publishing

 

Book Details:

ebook, 126 pages

Published: December 7, 2016 by Siren Publishing

Edition Language: English

A Lila Review: Nothing Special V (Nothing Special #5) by A.E. Via

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

nothing-special-v-by-ae-viaAtlanta’s notorious narcotics task force is at it again. They are stronger, bigger, and better than ever. Especially when a city councilman sends RECON Marine, Edwin Steele – who’s been blacklisted from his Oakland department – to join the team. God and Day weren’t recruiting. They have a lot on their plates, like the fact they’re supposed to be getting married soon. They don’t have the time or the patience to integrate a decorated war hero with a slight chip on his shoulder into their well-oiled machine.

A hothead that’s uncontrollable and terrible with authority… but wasn’t that their team motto?

Steele was ready to hang up his shield. He was done fighting with bigoted bastards that couldn’t respect the job. He was good at fighting; he just needed the right team to fight with. When his uncle – City Councilman, Rasmus Steele – shows him a video of God’s team in action, he knows right away, it’s where his nephew belongs in order to restore his faith.

Steele pointed to the driver, a behemoth of a man wielding those massive firearms like a true beast… like a soldier. “And him. Who the hell is he?”

“That’s your new boss. Lieutenant Cashel Godfrey… they call him… God.”

Steele was skeptical about his new placement, but when he meets God’s technology specialist/computer genius, “Tech,” he’s willing to give it his all, and he definitely shows and proves.

Tech is stunning. His sweater vest and khakis, a stark contrast to the blue-jeaned roughnecks he works with. A beautiful sheep amongst the wolves. Steel thinks there’s no way the brilliant man would be interested in a hardhead like him, but Tech has a few badass hidden talents of his own and manages to fool him… fool all of them.

Nothing Special V is two books in one. We get Steele’s and Tech’s story. Plus, side stories from all the previous couples. It takes a moment to get used to all the POV changes, but the author did an excellent job keeping them organized and relevant. All the voices combined gives us the best look into the futures of God’s and Day’s men.

The first meeting between Tech and Steele set the pace for the story. It shows the reader how well-equipped they are to deal with each other and how good they fit in the team. Reading both of their thoughts and feelings also clue us into the path they need to follow to be together. They needed to grow stronger individually to be a couple.

The combination between meaningful smexy scenes and the action-packed plot lines create the perfect balance of enjoyment. These men are more than their batches, they’re a family that works like a well-oiled machine. But under everything else, they are strong because of the men at their side. Each couple and their love make them more than lethal.

If you are a fan of these men, you’re going to love the extra scenes with them as a group and the individual couples. The whole thing works together and sets the stage for even more couples to come.

And the bonus story at the end of the book is a perfect five. I love the little short story about the youngest couple in their bunch.

The cover by Jay Aheer is a compilation of the covers from the other books in the series, together with the new additions—Steele & Tech.

Sale Links: Amazon | Smashwords | Nook

Book Details: 

ebook, 360 pages
Published: December 19, 2016, by Via Star Wings Publishing
ASIN: B01N0G9507
Edition Language: English

Series: Nothing Special
Book #1: Nothing Special
Book #2: Embracing His Syn
Book #3: Here Comes Trouble
Book#4: Don’t Judge 
Book#5: Nothing Special V

 

Cover Reveal Blitz : Fire Balls (Balls to the Wall Series Bk #2) By Tara Lain (excerpt)

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Fire Balls
(Balls to the Wall Series, Bk #2)
By Tara Lain
 
Blurb:
Renowned artist Rodney Mansfield stands five foot six, has pink hair, six earrings, a black belt in karate—and a desperate yearning for firefighter Hunter Fallon. But Rod, the Runtback of Notre Dame, knows he’ll never land the beautiful “straight gay” guy, so Rod musters his altruism and helps his more masculine friend Jerry attract Hunter. As if a broken heart wasn’t enough, Rod saves Hunter from a firehouse homophobe—humiliating Hunter in front of his dad!
Hunter lives a dream life—his father’s dream. While he’d like to teach literature in college, read poetry in the sun, and find a strong guy to top him, he fights fires for his dad. Hunter hates flamboyant guys like Rodney. So why can’t he resist him? Maybe it’s time to admit this is one flame he has no desire to put out.
Release Date:
February 8, 2017
Available for pre-order at
Excerpt

Jerry jerked his head frantically toward the back of the restaurant. He mouthed some words. What? Oh, men’s room. Shit. He’d never give up. “Bill, I’ve got to go to the little boys’. If the waiter comes, just order me the halibut, okay?”

Bill looked up, nodded, and went back to his culinary study. Rod scooted through the crowd to the men’s room in the back of the restaurant. He loved Jerry, but really.

He ripped open the door and found Jerry huddled—yes, that was the word—huddled against the back wall.

Rod peeked around. Nobody. He put both hands on his hips. “Darling, what the fuck?”

“I ran out of shit to say.” Jerry’s voice was small and shaky.

Well, hell, how could he be mad? “Did you talk about the poem?”

“Yeah, I did. I read it and even memorized some of it. He got so excited, man. He started asking about all these other dudes I never heard of and shit. Walt somebody. I thought maybe he meant Disney or something so I started talking about Space Mountain. Then I knew that was wrong, so I just went back to asking him questions. So I asked, ‘What other poets do you like?’ And he says some name I never heard of, like some Indian dude like Tager or something.”

“Tagore?”

“Yeah, that’s it. But I had to say I had never read anything by the guy. So he recited a little, and it was really nice, but I didn’t have any more to recite back to him. So can we come and have dinner with you?”

“What?” Well, shit. He’d been focusing on how to push a little more poetry into Jerry’s head, not expecting a damned double date. A piece of his brain—well, actually another more southern part of the anatomy—leaped at the idea of having dinner with Hunter. Get over it. He’d just be tongue-tied and awkward. Not his fave condition. “I don’t think so, Jerry. This is my first date with Bill. You’ll do fine with Hun… the fireman.”

A man walked in and used the urinal. Rod sauntered over and rinsed his hands, but Jerry kept holding up the wall. The guy washed up and left.

Jerry pushed off the ceramic tile and put his hands together, prayerful. “Puh-leez, Rod. Help me, man. Your date has to love you. You’re, you know, you. But I’d feel so much better if I had someone to help me talk to Hunter.”

And Rod would feel so much worse. Hell. “Okay, bring him over.”

“Thanks, man. You’re rad. I can’t wait for you to get to know him.” Jerry ran out of the bathroom.

Yeah, and Rod wanted to run too. Away from here. Away from a beautiful friend who owned the man he wanted. Who had earned him just by being gorgeous. Shoot. He better get to Bill before Jerry did.

 

 

The Balls to the Wall Series


Volley Balls
Bk #1

Available at
 
      

 

 

About the Author

 

Tara Lain writes the Beautiful Boys of Romance in LGBT erotic romance novels that star her unique, charismatic heroes. Her first novel was published in January of 2011 and she’s now somewhere around book 32. Her best-selling novels have garnered awards for Best Series, Best Contemporary Romance, Best Paranormal Romance, Best Ménage, Best LGBT Romance, Best Gay Characters, and Tara has been named Best Writer of the Year in the LRC Awards. In her other job, Tara owns an advertising and public relations firm. She often does workshops on both author promotion and writing craft.  She lives with her soul-mate husband and her soul-mate dog near the sea in California where she sets a lot of her books.  Passionate about diversity, justice, and new experiences, Tara says on her tombstone it will say “Yes”!

 

You can find Tara at Lain
               

 

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