Cover Reveal for In Case You Missed It by S. M. James (excerpt)

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COVER REVEAL

Book Title: In Case You Missed It

Author: S. M. James

Cover Artist: Story Styling Cover Designs

Genre/s: YA LGBTQ romance

Heat Rating: 1-2 flames

Release Date: February 12, 2019

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Tagline

Brooks measured his life in breaths, until Darien took his breath away.

 

Blurb

Brooks is convinced his life is totally, one hundred percent happy. 

Until Darien tracks him down.

Darien was supposed to be the guy he kissed once and remembered forever, but now he’s back in Brooks’s life, with easy smiles and big ideas.

The first of which … show the homeschooled Brooks everything he’s missed out on. But as the pair work through a spring of playing catch up on life, it becomes obvious to Darien that Brooks has a secret. 

And as things heat up between them, Brooks’s secret might just be Darien’s worst fear.

Because Darien has always lived in the moment. 

But Brooks has always lived for the future he knows is inevitable. 

When life is set to tear them apart, will love be enough to keep them together?

 

Excerpt 

“Yo, Dare!” Cameron shouts.

Darien turns toward us in the bleachers and throws up a little wave. From the corner of my eye, I notice Chelsea pointing at me, and Darien double takes. His expression is almost comical.

Darien tosses his lacrosse stick to the side and jogs over to where we’re sitting. His eyes and smile are so wide he looks deranged, but the happiness radiating from him bathes me in warmth.

When he doesn’t say anything, I step in to fill the awkwardness. “Careful. People might think you’re happy to see me.”

He huffs a laugh, slightly out of breath. “Damn, Brooks. You could have given me some warning.”

I stand up and make my way down the few rows until I’m on the one right above him. The others are watching us creepily and it’s weird to have an audience when he’s looking at me like that. I should keep my distance. I can’t. “Are you surprised?”

“Very. You realize this is something you’ve been missing right? Checking out hot guys at practice. We can theoretically check that off your list.”

I pretend to scan the rest of the team. “Mmm … jocks in their natural habitat. My favorite.”

He whacks me in the stomach. “Mean.”

“You said it.”

“Yeah but you were supposed to say, ‘there’s just one guy I’m here for’.”

“I didn’t realize this thing was scripted,” I say, gripping the metal barrier and leaning down a little.

“Don’t be embarrassed. You’re clearly not as well versed in flirting as I am.”

Finallyyour ego makes sense. Too much flirting, not enough criticism.”

He holds his arms out. “What’s there to critique?”

And with that view of his body—his lean legs and loose shorts and tight t-shirt—I have to agree. Damn … the list of reasons why I should give him up melts away. There’s no walking away from this pull between us.

“Mitreski!” his coach calls, snapping me from my thoughts.

Darien ignores him as he drops his arms and steps closer to me. He reaches up to wrap one of his hands over mine. “Wait for me after practice?”

My mind gets loud with warning. What if he’s sick?

What if I catch it again?

What if I end up in hospital this time?

What if.

What if.

What if … he’s perfect for me? Hope surges in my chest.

What if I tell him everything and he doesn’t walk away? What if I get better? It’s an impossible thought, but when I’m with Darien, he makes me want to entertain infinite impossibilities.

“Mitreski, now!”

“Yes,” I whisper. “I’ll be here.”

Darien’s hand tightens around mine. “I don’t want to let go,” he admits.

“There are some thoughts you’re meant to keep to yourself.” But as he goes to pull away, I catch his fingers between my own. Just for a second. Just long enough to show that while I’ll keep the thought to myself, I don’t want to let go either.

As soon as I release him, he jogs back to his team, and I walk back up the three rows to where the others are sitting.

Heat has surged to my face, my ears, my neck. I’m sure I must be embarrassingly red but no one says a thing about it.

Cameron smiles at me, blue eyes twinkling, and it hits me just how much I love my cousin. He’s always been there for me, looking out for me. He knew I needed this.

I nudge him as Darien and the team set up a practice game. “Thank you.”

Cameron shrugs. “I overhead you two today. It was sickening. Really sappy. I had to get you together again, because no one needs to hear that.”

If Cameron told me why he wanted me to pick him up, I probably wouldn’t have come. I would have used the excuse of Darien being sick, and stayed away, intimidated by the thought of showing up—especially with Chelsea here too.

But as I watch Darien run back and forth, with no clue what the rules are, I feel like I’m lit up from the inside. He scores at one point and I’m practically bursting with pride as we cheer and stomp our feet, making as much noise as possible.

Instead of getting embarrassed, he mock bows, loving the attention.

I lean over to Cameron. “I’m going to tell him.”

He jerks around to look at me, all humor gone. “For real? Brooks, are you sure?”

“You’re the one who said I have to.”

He shrugs. “It’s really not up to me.”

“I know.” I hesitate before letting out a sigh. “But it’s not up to me either. I really like him, but he has the right to know what he’s getting into, before anything happens.”

“I hate to agree with you … but it’s true.”

“I’m a lot to take on.”

No, you’re not. You need to stop seeing yourself as a burden. Fuck, Brooks. You’re always going on about wanting to be treated the same as anyone else, but you need to start treating yourself that way too.”

Cameron’s right. It pisses me off that he’s right so I’m definitely not going to agree, but I note his words. Let them sit, percolate. Soak them into my subconscious. “I have to tell him.” I push as much emphasis as I can into the words, trying to convince myself as much as him. “But I have no clue how.”

“Hey, don’t overthink it. The right moment will come up, and whatever happens from there, happens.”

I watch Darien, wishing the world could just slow and give me endless days of school, and watching practice, and making friends, as I plunge into a world of incomprehensible feelings.

“It’s the ‘whatever’ part I’m afraid of.”

But facing it is inevitable.

 

About the Author 

S. M. James writes books for teens about squishy sweet characters.

While not writing, S. M. is a readaholic and Netflix addict who regularly lives on a sustainable diet of chocolate and coffee.

Member of SCBWI. 

Unapologetically dishing out HEAs for LGBTQ characters.

 

Author Links

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Facebook

Bookbub

Amazon

Goodreads

 

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Love a Bit of Horror? Check Out the New Release Blitz for Stalker/s by L.J. Hasbrouck (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Stalker/s

Author: L.J. Hasbrouck

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: January 14, 2019

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 113600

Genre: Horror, horror, new adult, gay, trans, post-apocalyptic, zombies, survival, island

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Synopsis

Brian Jameson doesn’t even get a chance to pick a college before a worldwide pandemic breaks out—and his home is Ground Zero. After losing his parents and sister in a whirlwind of devastation, Brian’s war-veteran grandfather takes him under his wing. But when desperate looters attack Brian’s new home, he and his grandfather must flee into a wintery Midwestern wasteland now populated by intelligent infected known as “Stalkers.”

These ghoulish creatures don’t shamble in hordes—they hide in the darkness waiting to strike, teeth bared in ghastly grins. And they laugh while they’re ripping you to shreds.

But with his grandfather’s training, Brian makes it to the home of his estranged childhood friends, twins Louis and Eva. And Brian gets a chance to experience something else he nearly missed: falling in love. Drawn to the determined—and ruthless—Louis, Brian escapes with him in search of an island paradise away from the relentless snow and infected.

But even if they make it there, it may not be the haven they’re hoping for.

Excerpt

Stalker/s
L.J. Hasbrouck © 2019
All Rights Reserved

12/19, Topeka, Kansas

Jameson Residence

1:06 a.m.

The light from Brian Jameson’s tablet danced across his face in varying degrees of intensity: somber blues, soothing greens, and sometimes the alarming tinge of blood-red. The show’s layered soundscape coursed through his earbuds. Drizzling rain enveloped the muted dialogue of two detectives, their shoes crunching against gravel as they hunted an elusive killer. Somewhere offscreen, a gun exploded. Brian’s pulse pounded so hard it blended with the strengthening downpour.

Jesus, I didn’t expect that.

Brian waited for the scene to change, for stunned gasps, for those dainty footsteps to accelerate into a frantic sprint, but the pair of detectives continued their discussion as if they were taking a stroll through a scenic garden.

Brian paused the video and plucked out his earbuds. Silence. Darkness. A small square of light with an image frozen in time tilted against his knees.

Am I going crazy? I swear I heard a gunshot.

Abrupt knocks shook his bedroom door. Brian’s tablet fell to the bed as he swiveled his legs over the edge, muscles tensed—

“Bri! I heard a buncha loud sounds an’ I’m scared!”

Brian clicked his lamp on and rushed to open the door for his younger sister, stumbling over a still-packed suitcase. After he ushered her in, he shut the door. His racing heart slowed as he gripped her fragile shoulders. We might have heard the same thing. Thunder, or maybe fireworks from the redneck neighbors.

“It’ll be okay, Becks. Tell me what happened.”

Becky’s thin eyebrows knit above glistening pale-blue eyes. “A boom woke me up an’ I ran to Mommy and Daddy’s room, but I heard another boom in there an’—”

“Wait—in their room?”

Becky nodded.

Brian jerked his cell phone from the charger. He pressed the “9” from the emergency screen, Becky’s fearful gaze locked on his. A whimper escaped her as footsteps creaked in the hall outside. Shadow sliced the sliver of light beneath the door.

Brian abandoned the phone to reach for the door lock—but someone twisted the knob before he could get to it. A sturdy figure burst in and knocked Brian back. Becky cried, “Daddy!” and flung her arms around their father’s stocky legs. Their mother pushed into the room after him, collapsing to her knees as their father slammed the door and locked it. Brian caught the glint of a gun wrapped in her shaking hand.

While his father paced the room, phone pressed to his ear and daughter wrapped around his legs, Brian guided his mother onto the edge of his bed. Her distant gaze frightened him—she seemed to be looking at something only she could see. A memory, perhaps, something keeping her from the present. Her auburn waves clung to her shoulders in sweat-matted strands. Blood spatter stained the pink and yellow flowers of a nightgown. It framed four crimson gashes gleaming from her porcelain chest.

In the background, Brian’s father spoke to a muffled dispatcher. “My kids are terrified, we’re locked in my son’s bedroom, and there’s a fucking dead guy on my bedroom floor! Why? My wife shot him, that’s why! All I know is I woke up to gunshots, my wife screaming, and some nut springing out of our closet. He scratched her—even tried to bite her! He was out of his mind, stank like…I dunno. I dunno. Can you hurry, please? I’m worried about my wife.”

Brian’s father slumped onto the bed and ran a hand through his close-cropped hair. Becky squeezed between their parents, tiny hands clutching their father’s flannel pajama sleeve while he listened to the dispatcher. His free hand curled into a fist above his bouncing knee, knuckles tightening to white.

Brian’s skin grew clammy. Tingly. He tuned out the sights and sounds around him until they became a blur and buzz, a spinning funhouse tunnel of disorientation. She shot him. This crazy guy that broke in. God, he could’ve come after me and Becks if she hadn’t…

Distracted by the motion of his mother setting the gun on his bedside table, Brian looked at her. He recognized a forced smile he’d seen many times before. “We’ll make it through this one step at a time. We always do.” She glanced down at the bloody slashes, then back up to Brian. “I know this looks nasty, but it’s only a couple of scratches. I’m okay. I promise.”

She pulled Becky to her, giving her the attention their father couldn’t. Despite his muscular build and booming voice, Brian’s father often wilted in stressful situations—like the time he lost his job at the Topeka mall and Brian and his mother found him foaming at the mouth with an empty pill bottle beside his outstretched hand.

Brian’s father lowered his phone and looked at his wife and children, scoffing. “We have to stay in here and wait for them, barricade the door. The dispatcher said we’ll be safe and that we shouldn’t disturb the scene. Can you believe that? They made it sound like you were more of a criminal than the asshole you shot, Ellen!”

“Joel, language.” Brian’s mother covered Becky’s ears. She rested her chin atop Becky’s head and lowered her hands to stroke Becky’s lank hair. Brian’s father sat beside them, staring at the thin blue carpet between his bouncing knees.

“Brian, move your desk in front of the door.”

Any other time, Brian might’ve found his father’s condescension infuriating, but he was happy to have a distraction from the questions stirring within him. He dragged the desk over to the door, hyper-aware and jittery like he’d had too much caffeine.

When he finished, Brian sank onto the foot of his bed. He swept his tablet away, certain he’d never want to finish the episode frozen within it, and curled a quaking hand around his mother’s shoulder. “Mom, tell me what happened. Please.”

She nodded, taking in measured breaths as she threaded her fingers through Becky’s auburn curls. Becky took after their mother both in appearance and spirit. Although Brian possessed the same golden-blond hair and tan complexion as his father, he’d also inherited his tendency toward escapism.

His mother kept him going. She kept them all going. Even though she’d been hurt, she still held her daughter to her, still gripped her husband’s hand in hers, still smiled at Brian.

“Someone must’ve broken in while we were at Nana and Poppa’s,” she whispered. “He hid in our closet, waited until we were asleep… I-I don’t know why he attacked me. But I…I had to protect my family, so I…”

She didn’t say anything else. Becky’s unbearable whimpering forced Brian to voice the panic bashing against his skull. “Who the hell was that guy? Was he some homeless guy that broke in to get out of the cold? Why would he hurt Mom?”

“Bri, if I told you what I saw, you and your sister would have nightmares.” Brian’s father finally looked up and met Brian’s gaze. “Your mother and I will already have them, I’m sure of it. All I know is it was self-defense: they’ll clear your mother, get her checked out at a hospital, and we can go back to normal.” His lips tightened into a strained smile. He’d been fighting to earn Brian’s trust back ever since they found him on that locker room floor, but the sacred trust built between parent and child had been shattered irrevocably.

Brian’s eyes fell from his father’s. They drifted into silence and awaited the police. His gut soured and every nerve in his body tingled until the tips of his toes and fingers felt numb. One second, he’d been watching a by-the-numbers police procedural, the next he might as well have been starring in an episode of his own.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

Knowledge-seeking animal-lover, supporter of diversity, and OG Floridian. Lifelong gamer who grew up drawing Disney characters, whales, and dinosaurs. Proud INTJ (which I share with the likes of Hannibal Lecter, Batman, and Ellen Ripley).

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A Lucy Review: Midnight Angel by Kevin Klehr

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Dinner is overcooked. The guests haven’t arrived. And Luke is sitting alone at his dining table on New Year’s Eve. He was hoping to romance Nathan, one of the people he invited for this intimate evening meal.

As midnight draws closer, it seems an angel, who has magically appeared in Luke’s apartment, is the only person to drink champagne and watch the fireworks with.

But this angel has other ideas. He’s about to grant Luke the New Year’s Eve party he thought he wanted.

It is highly possible that I will be in the minority about this holiday short but it wasn’t what I was expecting.  At first, I felt bad for Luke, who is sitting at his table with chicken drying out in the oven and no one present at his party.  He has invited his crush, Nate, Nate’s best friend, Lucy, and the annoying guy who has a crush on him, Tim.  As he is sitting wallowing about how now he can’t make his move on Nate, his guardian angel, Guy,  shows up, complete with wings on his back.  I did laugh at Luke’s reaction. 

“What happened?”

“You passed out.  Your face landed squarely on your plate.” 

I do have to mention editing – that sentence in the book reads “…you’re plate…”

So what his angel does is bring him the party he wanted, with Nate and Lucy and Tim.  The thing is, I felt really bad for Tim because I thought Luke was pretty awful to him. “Luke, I’m going home.  I’m making you uncomfortable at your own party, and that’s the last thing I want to do.”   Then I felt like the whole thing was a lecture.  The definition of infatuation, what constitutes stalking and some oddly phrased dialogue.  “I was on my way to another party, but something made me drop in.  It was like a mystical force drove me here.”  It just didn’t fit with the way Tim spoke previously.  And I just kept feeling bad for Tim.  “A better body, but  not the one I craved.”  It’s fantasy yes, but it’s convoluted about Luke’s feelings.  I just didn’t get any feel of a connection.  It’s a beginning, maybe, so hopeful. 

The cover design is the standard NineStar Press is using for their holiday collection.  It is pretty but not specific to this story.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook
Published December 10th 2018 by NineStar Press
Original Title Midnight Angel
ISBN 139781949909616
Edition Language English

A Free Dreamer Review: Forbidden Pursuits (The Galactic Captains #2) by Harry F. Rey

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

When Daeron’s mother is offered a risky but lucrative job—rescuing an experimental galinium scientist from Aldegar—the lost loves lurking in her past mean she must send Daeron away to the other end of the galaxy; to the father he’s never met on the Kyleri Empire’s capital, Jiwani.

On Jiwani, the heir to the galaxy’s most powerful empire Prince Osvai balances deference to rigid Kyleri customs with his desire to explore the forbidden secrets of the Royal Baths, and the dark desires no prince should have.

But when a mysterious stranger from the Outer Verge turns up to work with his ambitious Uncle Viscamon, Osvai’s temptations lead him into a web of intrigue that could change the Galactic Balance forever.

As Sanya, Daeron and Osvai pursue their forbidden desires, they become entwined in a galactic power struggle stretching from the frozen tundra of Jansen to the searing memories of Captain Ales’ lost homeworld, Teva.

They’ll soon discover all love has consequence, and the more forbidden the desires, the more deadly the pursuits.

After the brilliant first installment of the series, I was really looking forward to “Forbidden Pursuits”.

I’m not sure if this works as a standalone, tbh. You probably shouldn’t have too much trouble following the plot, since this is set on a different planet, with different protagonists. But you will definitely miss out on some of the finer nuances of the plot, if you lack the background knowledge of book one. So I’d recommend you read “Siege Weapons” first to get the full experience.

Jiwani is a fascinating planet and the author obviously put a lot of thought into the Kyleri culture. The world-building was extremely well done and it was a lot of fun to discover all the details. It’s quite an unusual culture, where noblemen meet up in the public baths and do their business completely naked. And yet they follow a very strict moral code and homosexuality is frowned upon. A gay crown prince would be a huge scandal, so life isn’t too easy for Osvai. I liked the clothes the Kyleri men wear. One of my favourite scenes was when Osvai was getting dressed for an official speech, which is quite the procedure, with countless layers of silk wrappings.

One thing about the world-building had me confused, however. Homosexuality and infidelity are very much frowned upon and yet there are male pleasure slaves that are trained to have sex with other men. This happens quite openly and it just didn’t fit with the strict morals the emperor enforced.

I liked Osvai from the beginning. He probably lost his virginity in the absolutely most unromantic way I’ve ever come across in a book and I loved it. Unlike so many royals in fiction, Osvai is perfectly fine with his role as a future emperor and tries very hard to not let his uncle overpower him.

Daeron is very different and I didn’t particularly care for him. He was irresponsible and very selfish. All he ever seemed to do was complain, have sex with a random stranger or masturbate. He’s a prime example of a man who’s led by his dick.

Just like in book one, there’s a lot of sex. Some of the scenes with Daeron and random strangers weren’t very appealing to me. Sex in a stinky public restroom, bent over the toilet bowl, just isn’t my idea of sexy. And there was one sex scene that was at least dubiously consensual. It didn’t directly involve Osvai or Daeron, but Osvai was a very enthusiastic spectator.

There was a bit more romance than there was in book one and the sex in general isn’t as rough. I have to admit, I didn’t quite feel the attraction between Osvai and Daeron, though. It wasn’t a major part of the novel, however, and only happened toward the end.

Overall, “Forbidden Pursuits” was good but not as good as part one of the series. But it has made me very curious about the next installment. Even though only one of the characters from the first book gets a short scene here, the overall plot is getting moved forward quite a bit.

Again, this is not a romance novel per se. It’s SciFi with gay protagonists that have a lot of sex, but it’s not erotica either.

I like the cover by Natasha Snow. It fits the story and matches the cover of book one very well.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book details: Kindle Edition, 164 pages

Published December 3rd 2018 by NineStar Press

New Book Release Blitz for Blackwood (Perth Shifters #1) by Pia Foxhall

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK 
 
Length: 93,000 words approx.
 
Cover Design: Tiferet Design
 
Blurb
 

In a world that is still getting used to shifters, where everyone thinks omegas are second class citizens, nature photographer and omega Braden Payne lets everyone think he’s a beta. That way no one gives him a hard time and he doesn’t have to live a repeat of his failed relationship. But when his car breaks down in the remote Blackwood forest in Western Australia, without the medication that lets him hide who he is, he’s faced with what he fears most: an unmated alpha.


Government forest guardian and alpha Coll MacDubhar is tired of illegal loggers, foolish tourists and people who underestimate the wilds of Western Australia. He discovers Braden lost and in need of medical assistance in the forest he protects and knows something’s not right.


But there’s hidden depths to Braden that capture his interest, and no decent alpha would walk away when Braden’s unwelcome past comes to visit.

 
Author Bio



Pia Foxhall is a queer, nonbinary and disabled Australian author who lives in the most isolated major city in the world – Perth, Western Australia – with two rescue cats. Much of their time writing is spent working on the Patreon-supported Fae Tales serial, a dark fantasy BDSM erotica epic that has been in production for many years. They’ve always been fascinated with all types of trauma recovery stories, and they like their character’s comfort to be earned, and the growth to feel real, and need a happy ending after that trauma recovery!

 
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A MelanieM Review: Ripe: Letters by Alan Semrow

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Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

 

Funny, sexy, evocative, and brutally honest, Ripe is Alan Semrow’s ode to relationships with men. In this epistolary book, Semrow writes to the men who have impacted his outlook, reminded him of basic life lessons, surprised him in more ways than one, and left him reeling for days. Writing to one-night-flings, men he has never met, and men he’ll never stop running into, Semrow touches on some of the most constant human themes—love, lust, desire, and the yearning for connection. All the while, the book details a man’s journey navigating and blooming by way of the modern gay scene. Readers will find familiarity and hard truths in Semrow’s statements about the intricacy and explosiveness of the intimate moments we share.

I honestly thought that reading someone’s letters written to men that they’d met and slept with  would come with, well, more introspection, more self examination in depth and less self frippery. Instead of getting the feeling that the author has spent real time pondering these man and their impact upon the direction his life took, the reader comes away thinking Semrow was writing his hookup version of Jimmy Fallon’s Thank you notes.   These letters read just that shallow.

And about as sexy and funny.

Each with a title such as Dear Sunday, Dear Flannel, Dear Only Child, they all quickly blend together into one familiar narrative. The author meets someone or arranges to hookup with someone, they go to bed, he leaves thinks about him/them, letter over.  On and on.  If you are looking for sexual details, yo can skip that too.

Ripe: Letters just comes across more as someone keeping track of all the men he slept with or couples and then making a note next to them.  “Liked him, would do him again”.  ‘Nice sex, he made me smile.’

Something you might expect to see in a little  black book (do they even have those anymore?), or a diary.  Certainly not anything of enough heft for a book, not in this format, at any rate.  Might have been funny but again, not as the   letters posted here. Perhaps instead of posting letters, the author will reflect on the whole, wait a while, and find a new path for an narrative adventure.

Cover art is cute.

Sales Link:  Amazon

Kindle Edition, 127 pages
Published October 1st 2018
ASIN B07HY4MYR1

In Our Author Spotlight: Ripe: Letters by Alan Semrow

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Ripe: Letters

by 

Published October 1st 2018

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Alan Semrow here today to talk about his new release Ripe:Letters. Welcome, Alan.

✒︎

Alan Semrow on Writing His Latest Book, Ripe: Letters

I started writing Ripe, my new collection of letters to men, at the end of the winter of 2018. The whole concept had been something I’d been playing with for some time, but, really, the impetus for these pieces came out of an opportunity that presented itself out of nowhere. I was approached by Christopher Heide at Chosen Magazine to contribute some stuff to the magazine. I’m rarely one to turn down such an offer, but I had been starting to think I was suffering from a bit of writer’s block.

See, my first book, Briefs, a short story collection had come out in 2016. At the time of its release, I felt pretty far removed from those stories—I was very ready to tell people that I wrote these stories when I was young, which is true, and that I was living a totally different life than I had been while writing Briefs.

After the release of the book, I really struggled with writing a follow-up (there were probably three or four books written in between Briefs and Ripe, but none of them sufficiently conveyed what I wanted to convey). Like I said, my life was totally different. I lived in a new, much bigger city. I’d made tons of new friends. I’d also had some very real experiences with a wide array of men. And I wanted to write about it—about coming of age in the city and the moments I shared with people who ultimately ended up shaping the last few years for me.

But how? Could I mask it all in a fictious veil? Could I straight up just write a memoir? How could I approach it in a way that felt new and different, but also allowed me to convey my point of view?

That’s where the opportunity at Chosen came into play. This was a nonfiction publication, so, yes, I’d have to write nonfiction. So, I wrote one piece called “Right Where You Left Me,” which is basically a celebration of these very specific moments I’d had over the course of two years. It went over well.

And then 40-plus letters followed VERY quickly. To me, the letters summarize these very particular experiences I’d had—they pay tribute to people that I’m ultimately glad to have spent that time with. And they do so in a way that’s positive and humorous and joyful and super sexy. I wanted to create something that was an ode to these situations I’d found myself in. But I also wanted to put out something that reflected the many ways my life had changed over really only a couple years.

I’m happy to say I’m proud with the end result. I think it does just what I wanted it to do. And I think whoever reads this will find themselves relating. It’s about the tender, sexy moments we spend with people. It’s about longing for human connection. It’s about allowing yourself to be affected (and vulnerable) when it feels right. It’s all what makes us human.

About Ripe

Funny, sexy, evocative, and brutally honest, Ripe is Alan Semrow’s ode to relationships with men. In this epistolary book, Semrow writes to the men who have impacted his outlook, reminded him of basic life lessons, surprised him in more ways than one, and left him reeling for days. Writing to one-night-flings, men he has never met, and men he’ll never stop running into, Semrow touches on some of the most constant human themes—love, lust, desire, and the yearning for connection. All the while, the book details a man’s journey navigating and blooming by way of the modern gay scene. Readers will find familiarity and hard truths in Semrow’s statements about the intricacy and explosiveness of the intimate moments we share.

About Alan Semrow

Alan Semrow’s fiction, nonfiction, and poetry has been featured in over 30 publications. Apart from writing fiction and nonfiction, he is a professional copywriter, a monthly contributor at Chosen Magazine, and a singer-songwriter. Previously, he was the Fiction Editor for Black Heart Magazine and a Guest Fiction Editor for the Summer Issue of Five Quarterly. Semrow’s debut short story collection, Briefs, was published in 2016. Ripe is his second book. Semrow lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

Purchase Ripe: https://www.amazon.com/Ripe-Letters-Alan-Semrow/dp/1723761680

Semrow’s Blog: https://alansemrowriter.wordpress.com/

A MelanieM Review: Safe Harbor by David O. Sullivan

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Rating: 1.5 stars out of 5

Best friends since they were children, Mikhail and Solomon later took their friendship to the next level. But they have a falling out after a horrible mistake.

Seven years later, the men are reunited on a cruise ship in the Mediterranean where they both work as waiters. The animosity between them runs deep, but the close quarters at sea bring them back together, with a little help from a fellow shipmate.

Can Solomon and Mikhail move beyond the mistakes they made in the past and rekindle what they had? Or are they fated to only being friends?

How many ways can a author sink a story?  Let me count the ways….

In Safe Harbor by David O. Sullivan the author’s choice of adjectives in describing his characters looms as number one Sullivan’s favorite word when it comes to Mikhail is whimpering. Mikhail enters a meeting late whimpering, he whimpers upon encountering Solomon, he just whimpers all over the place.  Is the author just not aware of the imagery he’s projecting onto his poor character?  Unfortunately, I just ran across another  author with a similar bent who kept describing his main character as sniveling.  Smh!  Do these people not own a dictionary?  Who does that to main characters and why do they think readers will then find them attractive?  Questions, questions.  Plus why didn’t an editor catch that?

Anyway, while poor Mikhail is whimpering away, Sullivan has done an equal injustice to Solomon.  Both men are of the Jewish faith which is clearly of deep importance to them now and growing up.  However, in bringing into Solomon’s dialog some Jewish or Yiddish slang the character comes across more like a 50’s comic or character from a Borscht Belt comedy act or an actor in the plays in  the summer resorts of the Catskill Mountains in the 50’s and 60’s.  It’s a constant rain of ‘Schmucks’ from his lips. You’re a Schmuck, he’s a Schmuck, everyone’s a Schmuck.  Talk about tiresome.  Everyone here is a cardboard character of little to no depth.

Some authors can and have beautifully folded in the Jewish culture, language, religion, and, yes, phrases, into a story effortlessly.  This is not that book.  Here it is jarring and one-dimensional.

Even a rabbi, a fire, and Hanukkah is used, poorly, to illustrate a “miracle” on board and to bring the men back together.  It’s actually cringeworthy.

Often when I say I  couldn’t get to the end quick enough, I mean that in a great way.  I raced to the end because I was so in love with everything that the story flew by.

Here it’s the exact  opposite.  I just wanted it to be over.

How sad.

Cover art is adorable.  How I wish the book reflected what was going on in that cover.

Sales Links:  JMS Books LLC  | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 53 pages
Published September 29th 2018 by JMS Books LLC
ASINB07H81K7KB
Edition Language English

Final Thoughts on Literary Titles ! and This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Final Thoughts on Literary Titles !

Hard to believe that once again September is winding down.  Well, it has been an eventful month.  Hurricanes, flooding, and well, just plain old tons of rain pouring through my communities have a dampening effect  that washed away  my planned thoughts for posted blogs.  Maybe we will see those slip into October, one of my absolute favorite months!

Yes, its still pouring outside even as I type.  This will go down as the wettest two, maybe three months recorded for our area.  The mold being reported is off the charts.  I will try to locate plants that love water for the backyard.  Submergents anyone?

Meanwhile back to some wonderful suggestions for our own literary days of the month.  Remember we had a giveaway going?

This was the contest:

Literary  Event Title Giveaway
If you all were to suggest a Literary Event for the calendar, what would it be?  An International LGBT Romance Story Day?  Triad in Lust Day?    Quiltbag Aliens HEA Day?  Give me some titles for our own special September literary events.  Let’s call it our LGBTQIA Literary  Event Title Giveaway!  Have your title chosen and we will have Stella set you up with a $10 gift card from Dreamspinners.   And here’s what you all came up with.

Here from Purple Reader:

It does look like quite the week lined up. I’ve seen a cpl of Free Lib boxes pop up in my neighborhood here in Chicago, and I had to smile. Some more ideas for days:
– GLBTQ Reads That Surprised You Day
– Older GLBTQ Readers Can Have Fun Too Day
– Read a GLBTQ Book Together Day
– Smile & Touch through Words Day
– Read the Book, Visit the Scene Day
– Honoring GLBTQ Books Where You Live Day
– GLBTQ Books That Changed the World Day
– Ok, I gotta stop this day, lol

From Ami: Read in Public Transportation Day

From H.B.  Donate a Book Day

From  Jen:

If I were to add another literary event to the calendar, it would be “Give a Kid a Book” day because reading meant so much to me as a kid and it means a lot to my kids. Reading can help kids in so many ways.

And also from P.R….Ok, This has been stimulating … and dangerous. Here goes with my imagination (I hope this is what you had in mind, because I had some fun here after not having time to think even scattered thoughts for a while):

Question Mark Day (Never Stop Asking Why)
Readers With Guilty Pleasures Day
Out-of-the-Limelight GLBTQ Genres Day (spreading the love to less popular genres)
Out of Your Comfort Zone Reading Day
Readers Reviewing Reviewers Day (let’s give THEM some feedback!)
Co-Authors Day
Pay It Forward with Words Day

Thank you everyone for participating.  Congratulations to Purple Reader on the winning ….many of them entries!  Please contact Stella about the gift certificate!
  Meanwhile, we have a great week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words.  Great tours, great books (audio and ebook), and did you all notice we slipped in another new reviewer on you?  Welcome, Ashez, our new reviewer to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words!
 It’s going to be quite the week.  So don’t miss out on a day of it.

 

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, September 23:

  • Release Day Blitz for Of Sunlight and Stardust by Riley Hart & Christina Lee (excerpt and giveaway)
  • Final Thoughts on Literary Titles and Our Giveaway
  • This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Monday, September 24:

  • Dreamspun Bru Baker on Hiding in Plain Sight
  • Review Tour – Darcy by RJ Scott & Meredith Russell
  • BLOG TOUR Ride or Dye by Aimee Nicole Walker
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Counterpoint (Twisted Wishes #2) by Anna Zabo
  • A Stella Review: Of Dreams and Ceremonies (Butterfly Hunter #2) by Julie Bozza
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Darcy (Boyfriend for Hire #1) by R.J. Scott and Meredith Russell

Tuesday, September 25:

  • DSP Promo John Inman+giveaway
  • OWI TOUR grydscaen: beginnings Author: Natsuya Uesugi
  • RIPTIDE TOUR RUNNING BLIND, a Havoc novel by SE Jakes
  • A Lila Release Day Review: Dragonslayer (Twitterlight #1) by Matthew Lang
  • A Lucy Review: Hard Truths by Alex Whitehall
  • A Stella Release Day Review: Strays by A.J. Thomas

Wednesday, September 26:

  • DSP Publications Matthew Lang on Dragonslayer
  • Review Tour – C.J. Baty – Starting Over
  • The Hunt by J.M. Dabney & Davidson King (Michelle) Blog Tour and Review
  • Blog Tour “no way out” by Eric Alan Westfall
  • An Alisa Release Day Review: Guarding His Melody by Victoria Sue
  • A MelanieM Review: The Hunt by J.M. Dabney & Davidson King
  • An Alisa Review: Starting Over (The Knights Club #1) by C.J. Baty

Thursday,  September 27:

  • DSP Promo Xenia Melzer
  • Guarding His Melody (A standalone in the Enhanced World) by Victoria Sue
  • Release Blitz Tour – RJ Scott & V.L. Locey – Ryker
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Band Sinister by KJ Charles
  • A Free Dreamer Review: Witchbane by Morgan Brice
  • A Lila Audio Review: His Leading Man Author: Ashlyn Kane and Kenneth Obi (Narrator)
  • A Stella Review:  Falling Into Love by Nell Iris & Kris T Bethke

Friday, September 28:

  • BLOG TOUR COUNTERPOINT by Anna Zabo
  • Exclusive guest post – CJ Baty Starting Over
  • Release Blitz – A Taste of Agapi by Chris Ethani
  • An Alisa Release Day Review: Love you so Special by Tara Lain
  • A MelanieM Review: Building Forever by Kelly Jensen
  • A Stella Review: The Thousand Smiles of Nicholas Goring (Butterfly Hunter #3) by Julie Bozza

Saturday, September 29:

  • Release Blitz – Distant Cousins by Eric Huffbind
  • Release Blitz – Keira Andrews – Honeymoon For One

Blog Tour – #IsHeHereYet: Being the person you want to be with by Dr Tony Ortega (guest post and giveaway)

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BLOG TOUR

Book Title: #IsHeHereYet: Being the person you want to be with

Author: Dr. Tony Ortega

Publisher: Ortega Psychology LLC

Genre/s: Non-Fiction,  Self-Help, LGBT, Dating/Relationships, Motivational, Psychology

Length:  172 pages

Goodreads 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Dr. Tony Ortega here today talking about his latest book. Welcome, Dr. Ortega.

♦︎

The top seven tips leading clinical psychologist and spiritual coach Dr. Tony Ortega gives to people who are fed up with jumping from one disastrous date/relationship to another.

Top seven tips…

I get it. You are over dating in general. You want the merry go round of disastrous first dates to end and find “the one.” Here are some tips to decrease the discouragement you may be feeling.

Tip 1: Don’t let the past get in the way of your present. Not every date will be a disaster.

Many times, we approach dating from our perspectives on the past. We keep a self-imposed imaginary scorecard to measure future paramours. But the key is to approach each new dating experience as just that—a new dating experience. Be present to what is in front of you. I have had disastrous first dates that were amazing learning experiences. I have also had amazing first dates that led nowhere.

Tip 2: Don’t take the date so seriously. Treat it like a job interview.

When we think we click well with a person prior to meeting them for a date, we automatically want them to be the one. We think, “Gee, we are clicking so well via phone/text/messaging. This has got to be the one.” But electronic connection does not always translate to actual physical connection. By approaching dating as a job interview, it decreases the pressure of this date being “the one.”

When we are dating, we are essentially interviewing candidates for a position in our “corporation.” For anyone who has ever had a management position in their actual work life, we know that not all candidates who apply for the position are appropriate. Some of the candidates may look good on paper but when they come in for their interview, we see that what they put on their resumes was a very nice elaboration of actual details and not factual. So, we continue to interview candidates. Dating works the same way.

Tip 3: Stop taking rejection so personally.

I heard it said somewhere that rejection has nothing to do with you (unless, of course, you show up for your first date smelling like crap and acting rude). Rejection is one of you saying no to the notion of you and them as a unit. They are not rejecting you as a person. They can’t reject you as a person because they are not you. Only you can reject you personally. I have faced rejection many times and have felt devastated. However, thanks to social media, I was able to see later that I truly dodged massive bullets.

Does everyone who is attracted to you get your reciprocation? Does everyone you are attracted to reciprocate? It’s not realistic that everyone we are attracted to will be attracted to us and vice versa. Besides, we don’t want to keep that initial type of attraction that we may be having; we want to develop a deeper attraction to the person as we get to know them.

Tip 4: We don’t get it right every time.

Okay, folks. For any of you who are physically active, whether it be some form of exercise or a sport, did you get it right the first time? How long did it take you to get competent in what you are doing? Dating is not a genetically encoded ability like being right-handed. It’s a skill we build over time, so don’t be so hard on yourself if you don’t get it right every time. You will get better with practice. So why continue to go on dates? To develop the musculature.

Tip 5: What’s your motive for dating?

Maybe the reason you keep going on one disastrous date after another is because you are approaching dating with the wrong motives. There’s this amazing book called #IsHeHereYet: Being The Person You Want To Be With, which talks about being the best version of yourself first and then seeing what shows up in your romantic life. All kidding aside, though, think of why you want to date. Are you dating because you want to share your life with someone, or are you wanting to not be single, and be like everyone else? If you approach dating with any sense of self-lack and you hope a relationship will cure that, you will attract one disastrous date after another.

Tip 6: How are you showing up for the date?

I have been on dates where the dude is super arrogant and as much as I would love to bone him, I know it won’t go beyond the boning. I have also gone on dates with guys who are clinging and needy, and I clearly do not go beyond that first date. No boning required. And then I have been on dates where the man was unapologetically himself, super authentic, and fun to be around. Ask yourself: Who is the person who is showing up for this first date (meaning you, by the way)? Are you showing up for the date arrogantly, clingy, or unapologetically you? Your presentation can do so much to steer the direction of the date.

Tip 7: It’s not the end of the world.

Folks, it’s dating; not solving world hunger. If you go on bad dates, what did you lose? A few hours? A few dollars? The reason why folks get so overwhelmed with dating is because they are so invested in them working out for the wrong reasons. Regardless of your motives or results, it’s not the end of the world if you have one disastrous first date after another. At some point, if you do the work, you will get different results.

Blurb

#IsHeHereYet: Being the Person You Want to Be With is an extremely raw (and funny) look at the perceived epidemic of being single in our quest for love. It dismantles the notion that there is something that we need to do in order to bring in “The One.” Instead, it challenges you to be “The One” and see what shows up then. Regardless of the outcome, the end result will be the best version of you possible. This book is geared toward single and partnered people alike. Through personal and professional accounts of real life situations, as well as thought expanding exercises and meditation tools, the reader will leave with a greater understanding and concept of themselves. They will be able to “date themselves” and create the space to naturally attract loving and authentic relationships.

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Availability: Paperback, eBook, International distribution

Amazon UK 

Amazon US

Excerpt

They say your deepest pain becomes your greatest purpose. And this pain was fucking deep.

The catalyst of this book was a breakup. It is ironic that a breakup influenced the development of a relationship book; or, maybe not so ironic. For centuries, artists have created beautiful things from unrequited love. A broken heart has been at the foundation of many of history’s greatest masterpieces.

So, here is a little history: I pride myself on being a very accomplished man. Most of my endeavors are met with a great deal of success. However, there was one area that had eluded me most of my life: relationships. I was convinced I was doomed to be single—as every relationship with a guy I ever had ended in a disaster. I was so miserable being single that I would do everything in my power not to be single. When relationships ended, I did everything I could to avoid the pain. I thought I wasn’t good enough for relationships.

I lived in this story for many, many years. As relationships kept failing, I would shake my fist at God, or see myself as “different” or “less than” because of it. This all led to me getting into some very dark places in my life.

The evening of Friday, November 2, 2012, I was sitting on the toilet in my apartment in Queens, half drunk on frozen margaritas, smoking a Marlboro Light, and arguing with my “boyfriend” over forty dollars. (I use the word “boyfriend” in quotations because it was a relationship he had no idea he was in.) At that moment, I woke up—with a deep knowing that this relationship was over. I felt so pathetic that I ended the conversation, took a long last drag off the cigarette, and knew something had to change.

I decided to take hold of the wheel of my life and change direction. Over the next couple of years, the right people, the right books, and the right programs came my way. While some bounced in and out just to jumpstart my spiritual path, others have remained, mainly my study of the metaphysical text A Course in Miracles. It was the teachings in this text, combined with my spiritual and metaphysical work, which led me to unravel the things I was using to numb out and begin to feel more alive.

After beginning my spiritual journey and immersing myself in A Course in Miracles, I decided to work with a life coach; someone who seemed to have the well-rounded kind of life that I wanted— including a wonderful relationship. A relationship was one of the things I had not yet been able to successfully work out at the time, maybe because I was avoiding, or too busy working on myself. Through my work with this coach, I was able to rewrite the scripts I had been living under for most of my life and dive head first into the dating pool. It was easy at first, and I still stumbled on many occasions as my dating muscles had atrophied quite a bit in the years that I had not exercised them, but I kept taking that next right step.

On March 3, 2016, I met Fernando, the man of my dreams (or so I thought back then). While we had been talking for months online, we had not met before our date. I turned him down for sex over and over again as I was initially not really into him. But I began to think he seemed to have all the qualities I wanted in a man, which is why I continued to hold off on a one-night stand. He was equal parts sexual and spiritual. He was gainfully employed and seemed as motivated to work on himself as I was.

Fernando even matched most of the qualities I had listed in my “Manventory” I had completed New Year’s Day 2016 (more on Manventories later). I figured, Let’s meet and see what happens. When I first met him, I was like, Homeboy photographs a lot better than he looks in person. After chatting with him for a while over drinks and then ending the date with an intense make-out session in the streets of New York City, I was smitten.

However, there were some speed bumps along the way. He was dealing with some personal issues that I felt would get in the way of anything blossoming from our union, but something told me to give him a chance. I made myself wrong for feeling this way and dove in with my eyes closed. We had a lovely relationship that lasted sixty-nine days. It wasn’t perfect, but it broke my then eight-year dry spell, and I was in love.

After a few weeks, he even said, “I love you.” This was thrilling because no one had said that to me in such a long time. I thought that I had achieved the prize from all my hard work since that fateful Friday night in 2012. I had learned my lessons from all my previous failed relationships and now found what I was longing for.

He even gave me the title of “boyfriend,” which only lasted seventy-two hours before he decided to take it away.

I turned into a state of fear for the remainder of the relationship and he ended things quite abruptly on May 10, 2016. I was devastated.

For the next six weeks, I felt completely at a loss over what to do to manage the pain. I numbed it through alcohol and sex. When I was more rational, I searched the Internet for books on gay relationships and breakups, but everything was so out of date. My coach was very supportive, but he was still in his wonderful relationship, and I felt like I couldn’t relate to him because he had what I wanted and but just lost. This is no reflection of his capacities as a life coach. On the contrary, the man is simply amazing. I just had to go through the emotions.

I decided that if there wasn’t a good, up-to-date, dating and breakup book for gay men, then I would write it. I was fed up with the “single-to-relationship” books that were currently on the market. It seemed that all of these particular books were “do this and get the relationship.” I decided it was time to write a dating and relationship book that was more along the lines of “do this, be the person, see what shows up.” At the time of writing this book, I am still single and dating.

About the Author

Dr Tony Ortega is a first-generation Cuban American gay man. He is a licensed clinical psychologist, life coach, and author who has been in practice since 1992, currently serving the LGBTQ population in his private practice located in Brooklyn, New York. Tony (along with his teaching partner, John Davisi) is the co-creator of the movement, RawSexySpiritual: Spirituality for Gay Men (www.rawsexyspiritual.com). Tony combines cognitive behavioural techniques along with active coaching and metaphysical principles in his work with clients. Additionally, Tony provides spiritual life coaching for individuals seeking a different way to live. He works with his clients within these three principles: Rewrite Your Story, Find Your Voice, and Live Authentically.

Social Media Links

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Online profile

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