Shira Anthony on Life Aboard and an Exclusive Excerpt from The First Step (Coastal Carolina #1) ~ guest blog and excerpt

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The First Step (Coastal Carolina #1) by Shira Anthony

Dreamspinner Press
Published September 17th 2019
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase

Buy Links: Dreamspinner Press |  AmazonBarnes & Noble | ITunes | Kobo

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Shira Anthony on tour for her new release The First Step.  Welcome, Shira.

 

 

Life Aboard and an Exclusive Excerpt from The First Step

Thank you, Melanie and Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words, for hosting this stop on The First Step blog tour! The First Step is the first in my brand new series of gay romances set at the Carolina coast and featuring men who live and work near the water. Be sure to read to the end for an exclusive excerpt from the book.

Starting in December of this year, my husband and I will be living full-time on our beautiful catamaran sailboat, Prelude, named after one of the books in my Blue Notes series. I posted a tour of our boat on Facebook if you’d like to check her out: https://www.facebook.com/shira.anthony/videos/vb.100002261894384/1727557950662918/?type=3 She’s 38 feet long and nearly 24 feet wide, with a good size galley (kitchen), salon (boat living room), 2 heads (bathrooms), and 3 cabins. If you include the outside space in the cockpit, which has a table that seats 6, she’s bigger than the apartment I lived in years ago in New York City. But living aboard a boat presents lots of challenges, including lack of storage, constantly having to keep complicated mechanical systems working, not to mention keeping enough water and food aboard to live while you’re away from land.

Since one of the main characters in The First Step owns a sailboat and also works as an ocean pilot (he navigates the huge cargo ships into port for a living), I thought it might be fun to talk about life aboard a pleasure (cruising) boat. Half of you are probably thinking “no effing way would I live on a boat for years!” and the other half think it sounds like heaven.

To be honest, it’s somewhere in between for me. Yes, I love being on the water (as long as it isn’t too rough, since I get seasick sometimes), but I also love having my “stuff,” and the idea of giving up my apartment makes me pretty uneasy. There’s very little room on a boat for lots of clothes, especially for this clothes (and shoe) horse. Same goes for food. Our fridge is about as big as a large dorm fridge. Fortunately the freezer is a little bigger. But mostly you need to stock up as you go, which means cooking whatever you find locally.

And then there’s the toilet…. If you’ve ever been to Central America, you’ve probably been like me and grumbled at having to put toilet paper in a garbage can next to the toilet. Welcome to the world of the boat “head.” My husband’s least favorite thing is sticking his arm up to his elbow into the “hold”. Which holds what you might expect it would. Yuck! So we tend to steer clear of putting anything in the toilet that isn’t “natural.” And yes, you have to get someone to pump out the holding tank the same way you do on an RV.

When you’re on the water, it’s pretty ironic that conserving water is a huge issue. The problem is, of course, that there’s tons of salt water, but very little fresh. On land, especially in the US, we take an abundance of water for granted. But in many island nations like the Caribbean or Bahamas, fresh water can run upwards of a dollar a gallon, which when you think of how much water you use for just a shower, it gets really expensive, really quick. We have a water maker, which takes salt water and converts it to fresh, but it doesn’t make infinite water, so you have to conserve in everything you do. That means turning the shower off to soap up and turning it on again to rinse off. Same with doing dishes (I have a dishwasher – his name is Bob). It also means using ocean water to flush the heads.

Of course, most of the downsides of boating pale in comparison to the best part: being on the water. There’s nothing better than exploring the coast, meeting other boaters, and stepping back from the rat race to enjoy the beauty of the ocean. Our boat is my Zen place for writing, and I’m looking forward to writing many more stories about the coast. Who knows, maybe even a story about a writer who takes a few years off to sail?

Be sure to read on for an exclusive excerpt from the book. Happy reading! -Shira

Exclusive Excerpt:

The slight movement of the mainsail ceased and the fabric smoothed. Reed knew enough about sailing to appreciate just how well Justin controlled the boat, correcting in tiny increments to keep the sails full. Justin must have noticed him watching, because he asked, “Would you like to steer?”

Reed swallowed hard. “Are you sure?”

Justin scooted over. “Absolutely sure. It’s not like you can hit anything out here. You know the basics, right?”

Reed nodded and put his hands on the wheel. “Keep her pointing so that the sails don’t luff?”

“Yep. We can keep sailing on this tack until we’re ready to head back through the inlet, so that’s really all there is.” He put his hand reassuringly over Reed’s, causing Reed to momentarily lose his focus.

“Shit.” Reed adjusted the helm but overcompensated.

“Patience,” Justin said. “It takes the boat a couple of seconds to finish making the correction.”

“Got it.” Reed eased the wheel back a little and felt the boat pull against the wind, a familiar sensation he remembered from sailing as a kid. He laughed and glanced over at Justin, who beamed back at him.

“How many summers did you sail?”

“Two,” Reed replied. “Of course, the boats were a lot smaller than this one. So was my dad’s.”

“Once you understand the basics, the feel’s the same, big or small.” Justin watched him for a few minutes, then added, “You’re doing great.”

“Thanks.” He hadn’t expected Justin’s praise to feel so good. I didn’t expect any of this. He knew he needed to get back to interviewing Justin at some point, but he was having way too much fun to dampen the mood with lots of questions.

A comfortable silence settled between them as they sailed. The day was perfect, and the feel of the sleek boat under Reed’s hands made him remember what he’d felt like when he was a kid sailing with his dad. Good memories. Things had been simpler then, before he’d gone to middle school and stopped fitting in. The little kid in him wished his father could see him now. The adult in him wished his father was sitting in the cockpit with them, enjoying the ocean and the bright blue sky above.

“Thanks for inviting me,” Reed said after a while. “I’d forgotten how great it feels to sail. Last time I was on the water other than taking photos this past week was taking the Staten Island Ferry to some political rally.”

“Not exactly the same, is it?”

“Not exactly. Don’t get me wrong, I love New York Harbor on a sunny day.” He just didn’t have the time to enjoy it.

“One of these days I’m going to sail up to New York Harbor,” Justin said. “Take a few months off and head north.”

“Sounds amazing.” Reed imagined what it might be like to live aboard a boat for months at a time. The First Step wasn’t that much smaller than his high-rise studio apartment in Midtown.

Justin stretched his arms over his head and yawned.

“Tired?”

Justin shrugged. “I had a tough time getting to sleep last night.”

“At least I wasn’t the only one.” If you only knew. Justin had featured prominently in his dreams, and it made for a very long night of tossing and turning.

“We’ll nap on the beach after lunch.” Justin took a sip from his soda and looked over his sunglasses at something in the distance.

“What do you see?”

Justin put a hand on the wheel. “Go look for yourself. Starboard, about two o’clock.” He gestured to the life vest belt pack Reed had been wearing earlier. “You’ll see better on the foredeck.”

“Okay.” Reed snapped the pack on and walked along the lifelines to the bow. He saw them a moment later—a pod of dolphins swimming a few hundred feet off the right side of the boat. One of the animals jumped out of the water and dove back down, showing its tail flukes. Reed gasped in happy surprise.

“Bottlenose dolphins,” Justin said from beside him.

Reed stared at him in surprise. “Who’s…?”

“Autopilot.” Justin showed Reed a small electronic device. “I rigged this baby so I could sit on the foredeck and steer. Came in handy the other day when I was fishing you out.”

“This is much more fun.” Reed nearly clapped with excitement as several dolphins began to swim alongside.

“If you head out to the Gulf Stream,” Justin said, “you’ll see spotted dolphins too.”

“Do you ever see whales out here?”

“Yep. Never seen one on this boat, though. We usually see them come November, but I had to steer around one last week near the Cape Fear Inlet.”

Reed wished he could have seen that too. “I’m jealous.”

“I have the best job.”

Reed had to force himself not to reach for his notebook—he didn’t want to give Justin an excuse to shut down again. Besides, this was a quote he’d remember without having to write it down.

Blurb:

A Coastal Carolina Novel

The first step is the hardest. After a scandal, New York political reporter Reed Barfield is lying low at the North Carolina coast, writing a story about the seafood industry. But it’s the harbor pilots on the Cape Fear River who capture his interest—men who jump across ten feet of open ocean to grab a rope ladder and guide huge container ships into port. Men like sexy but prickly Justin Vance. 

After surviving an abusive childhood and a tour in the Navy, Justin isn’t fazed by his dangerous job—it’s certainly easier to face than Reed’s annoying questions. Justin isn’t out at work, and he doesn’t need Reed digging into his personal life or his past. 

But Reed’s no stranger to using his considerable charm to get what he wants, and as he wears Justin down, they realize they have a lot in common—and that they like spending time together. Moving beyond that, though, will mean Justin confessing his sexuality and learning to trust Reed with his secrets—if Reed even decides to stay. Both men want a future together, but can they find the courage to take the first step?

About the Author

Author bio: Shira Anthony was a professional opera singer in her last incarnation, performing roles in such operas as Tosca, i Pagliacci, and La Traviata, among others. She’s given up TV for evenings spent with her laptop, and she never goes anywhere without a pile of unread M/M romance on her Kindle. You can hear Shira singing “Vissi d’arte” from Puccini’s Tosca by clicking here: Shira’s Singing

Shira loves a great happily-ever-after and never writes a story without one. She’s happy to write what her muse tells her, whether it’s fantasy, sci fi, paranormal, or contemporary romance. She particularly loves writing series, because she thinks of her characters as old friends and she wants to visit them even after their stories are told.

In real life, Shira sang professionally for 14 years, and she currently works as a public sector attorney advocating for children. She’s happy to have made writing her second full-time job, even if it means she rarely has time to watch TV or go to the movies. Shira writes about the things she knows and loves, whether it’s music and musicians, the ocean, or the places she’s lived or traveled to. She spent her middle school years living in France, and tries to visit as often as she can.

Shira and her husband spend as many weekends as they can aboard their 38′ catamaran sailboat, Prelude, at the Carolina Coast. Not only has sailing inspired her to write about pirates and mermen, her sailboat is her favorite place to write. And although the only mermen she’s found to date are in her own imagination, she keeps a sharp lookout for them when she’s on the water.

Shira Anthony: http://www.shiraanthony.com

Twitter: @WriterShira

An Alisa Review: In Safe Arms (My Truth #2) by Ann Grech

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

 

Will he risk it all to be in safe arms?

 

When a damaged man stumbles on a second chance, it’s all too easy to turn and run. It takes a determined photographer to convince him risk is worth it all.

 

People deserve a second chance, right? How about a third or fourth?

 

But what if I can’t even admit to myself who I am? I was truthful once before. I came out to one other person, and he left me broken and scarred. He destroyed the boy I was. I don’t even use the same name anymore; I go by Trent now. But I survived the streets. I got lucky and I made something of myself. I’m happy, sort of.

 

It’s Angelo who lights up my life. He’s my world. My rock and my family. He’s always there for me. But I keep hurting him. I say stupid things, and I always keep him at a distance. Still, he knows me better than anyone.

 

And I want him. But I can’t let myself go there. Not again.

 

I’ve lived in denial for so long and it’s killing me. In my weakest moments, I reach for Angelo and when he slips into my arms, I can breathe. He’s my solace. Selflessly, he’s there and he never expects anything in return. No judgment, not even an explanation. Having him in my arms is everything, and it’s getting harder to push him away. I’m not sure I want to anymore.

 

He doesn’t date, but he deserves to be loved. Cherished. Then he drops a bombshell—he’s found The One. I wish he’d fallen for me. I need that second chance to tell him. I need to risk it all because in his arms, I’m safe. I’m me.

 

I want to start off my review with a warning **this book contains scenes and talk of rape**, I didn’t expect it and I know that it can be a no-go for some readers.

 

This was such a good story and it really spanned a long time which really gave a sense of how Trent and Angelo came to be because there was so much missing in small glimpses we saw of them in the first book.  Trent can’t let himself be who he always wanted to be and has tried to convince himself that he’s straight even if he needs a little help in that department at times.  Angelo is such a sweet man and even as he had previously called himself asexual he goes through a bit of an awakening with his feelings for Trent.

 

Now okay, Trent acted like an ass at times and while as a reader I knew why he reacted that way it caused him to hurt some of his closest friends.  He was lucky that Angelo stayed by him through it all (but that’s love for you).  I loved seeing the journey these two went through together to reach their HEA and the soul searching that Trent had to go through.

 

I liked both of these characters though at times Trent made it hard but I knew he was struggling with himself just as much.  I was glad that we go to see both characters points of view as it really helped with understanding what they were feeling.  I wish Trent had never had to be violated by a man he trusted but, even as he puts it, he never would have met Angelo if he hadn’t left home and with Angelo’s support he even gains his family back in his life.  Angelo is such a great guy and I love that he knew who Trent was deep down and stood by him for years until he got his act together, I think it was his unwavering friendship and support that eventually helped Trent to let go of his past and embrace their future.

 

I like the cover art by Soxsational Cover Art and the glimpse of Tent and Angelo together.

 

Sales Link: Amazon | B&N

 

Book Details:

ebook, 303 pages

Published: September 21, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-925853-71-1

Edition Language: English

Series: My Truth #2

ReplyForward

Don’t Miss Out on the Release Blitz and Giveaway for In Safe Arms (My Truth #2) by Ann Grech

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Author: Ann Grech
Title: In Safe Arms
Series: My Truth, Book 2
Genre: M/M Contemporary
Release Date: September 21, 2019
Cover Designer: Soxsational Cover Art Available now! 
Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2XbmGE5
All other links: books2read.com/insafearms

People deserve a second chance, right? How about a third or fourth?

But what if I can’t even admit to myself who I am? I was truthful once before. I came out to one other person, and he left me broken and scarred. He destroyed the boy I was. I don’t even use the same name anymore; I go by Trent now. But I survived the streets. I got lucky and I made something of myself. I’m happy, sort of.

It’s Angelo who lights up my life. He’s my world. My rock and my family. He’s always there for me. But I keep hurting him. I say stupid things, and I always keep him at a distance. Still, he knows me better than anyone.

And I want him. But I can’t let myself go there. Not again.

I’ve lived in denial for so long and it’s killing me. In my weakest moments, I reach for Angelo and when he slips into my arms, I can breathe. He’s my solace. Selflessly, he’s there and he never expects anything in return. No judgment, not even an explanation. Having him in my arms is everything, and it’s getting harder to push him away. I’m not sure I want to anymore.

He doesn’t date, but he deserves to be loved. Cherished. Then he drops a bombshell—he’s found The One. I wish he’d fallen for me. I need that second chance to tell him. I need to risk it all because in his arms, I’m safe. I’m me.

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2XbmGE5 
Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2xcOTdZ 
Amazon AU: https://amzn.to/2KDTWgz 
Amazon CA: https://amzn.to/2NuTVOj 
iBooks: https://apple.co/2RBCQAw 
Nook: http://bit.ly/2EH40km 
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2QD81uQ

(Please check out Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words review here. We definitely recommend it..)

My Truth, book 1

books2read.com/all-he-needs

By day Ann Grech lives in the corporate world and can be found sitting behind a desk typing away at reports and papers or lecturing to a room full of students. She graduated with a PhD in 2016 and is now an over-qualified nerd. Glasses, briefcase, high heels and a pencil skirt, she’s got the librarian look nailed too. If only they knew! She swears like a sailor, so that’s got to be a hint. The other one was “the look” from her tattoo artist when she told him that she wanted her kids initials “B” and “J” tattooed on her foot. It took a second to register that it might be a bad idea.
She’s never entirely fit in and loves escaping into a book—whether it’s reading or writing one. But she’s found her tribe now and loves her MM book world family. She dislikes cooking, but loves eating, can’t figure out technology, but is addicted to it, and her guilty pleasure is Byron Bay Cookies. Oh and shoes. And lingerie. And maybe handbags too. Well, if we’re being honest, we’d probably have to add her library too given the state of her credit card every month (what can she say, she’s a bookworm at heart)!