Elyse Springer on Antarctic Animals (aka Penguins!) and her latest release ‘World Turned Upside Down’


World Turned Upside Down by Elyse Springer

Dreamspinner Press
Published August 9th 2019
Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht

Purchase Links:

Dreamspinner Press |  Kobo iTunes |  Amazon |   Barnes & Noble | Google Play |

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Elyse Springer here today with a wonderful guest blog on the animals of Antartica and her new release World Turned Upside Down. Welcome, Elyse!


World Turned Upside Down, by Elyse Springer

Antarctic Animals (aka Penguins!)

Welcome to the blog tour for World Turned Upside Down, my M/M romance novella set at the bottom of the world… Antarctica!

After spending three years living and working in Antarctica, the number one question I get from people is, “Are there any polar bears down there?”

So time to clear up a few things on one of my favorite topics: what animal life can you find in Antarctica?

Polar Bears: NOPE! Polar bears are a North Pole thing only.

Penguins: YES! Antarctica is home to several different species of penguins, though most often at McMurdo you’ll find Emperor Penguins and my all-time favorites, the Adelie penguin. Check out these molting cuties!



Birds: Surprisingly enough, yes. While various sea birds do make the voyage across the southern oceans to Antarctica, the massive (and cunning) Skua is the most common sight in McMurdo. Think giant brown dinosaur bird that is smart enough to steal your lunch right out of your hands…

Here’s a great YouTube video (not by me) showing a fearless skua trying to find some baby penguin for dinner: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JH537AZoDtU


Mammals: Other than humans, the only mammals you’ll find in Antarctica are whales, seals and dolphins. Orcas and Minke whales are common during the summer months, when the sea ice breaks up. Leopard and Waddell seals can be found sunbathing on the ice shelf or nearby rocks, like this sleepy happy guy:


Fish: The oceans around Antarctica are teeming with a variety of fascinating fish species, a fact I think will shock many. In fact, researchers come to McMurdo every year to study the various fish, shrimp, and other ocean creatures that live in the frigid waters… and often beneath a thick layer of ice for much of the year.





People are surprised to learn that Antarctica is teeming with life, despite the bitter cold. Unfortunately, come winter these animals migrate to warmer waters, which means Simon and Asher don’t get a chance to experience this rich wildlife. But it’s an important part of Antarctica, and the reason for a lot of the scientific research on the continent!


After three winters in Antarctica, Simon Bancroft is an old hand on the ice. The harsh weather and extreme isolation aren’t for everyone, but he enjoys the tight-knit community at McMurdo Station… and lately he’s enjoyed watching the hot new researcher, Asher Delaney, who’s recently arrived to study the aurora. But Simon’s just a janitor. Asher doesn’t even know he exists.

When Simon’s friends propose a wager, he gets a chance to introduce himself to Asher at last. But Asher defies all of Simon’s assumptions, and suddenly he finds himself reevaluating everything he thought he knew about Asher, himself, and falling in love at the bottom of the world.



To celebrate the release of World Turned Upside Down, I’m giving away a t-shirt from McMurdo Station, Antarctica (yes, actually purchased in Antarctica!) and an e-copy of WTUD in the format of your choice. Two additional winners will also receive an e-copy of World Turned Upside Down in the format of their choice, or an e-copy of any book from my backlist.

Link to Giveaway: https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/1d4f97ea1/?

Contest is open to anyone worldwide over age 18. Closes 8/21 at 11:59 PM EST.

About the Author:

Elyse is an author and world-traveler, whose unique life experiences have helped to shape the stories that she wants to tell. She writes romances with LGBTQIA+ characters and relationships, and believes that every person deserves a Happily Ever After. When she’s not staring futilely at her computer screen, Elyse spends her time adding stamps to her passport, catching up on her terrifying TBR list, and learning to be a better adult.

You can find Elyse online at:

Website: http://elspringer.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ElyseSpringer

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elysespringerwrites

Emory Schneider on Characters, Contemporary Writing and their new release ‘The Truth Beyond the Bitterness (World of Love)’ ~ author guest blog


The Truth Beyond the Bitterness (World of Love) by Emory Schneider

Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Emory Schneider on tour today for their new novel, The Truth Beyond the Bitterness.  Welcome, Emory.


Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interviews Emory Schneider

Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write?  Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?

I like both. I am always ready to do research and broaden my knowledge and I enjoy creating worlds for my stories, too.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I’m a big dreamer and I wish every love story would have HEA. Life doesn’t work that way, and that’s why so many people enjoy happy endings.

Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?

I didn’t read many romance books until I was sixteen or seventeen but haven’t stopped since then.

How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?

I live in the Czech Republic, so it is complicated and expensive to purchase any physical books by authors out of the Europian Union since I would have to pay duty on them and VAT twice. Therefore I prefer to buy ebooks. I do own a bookshelf full of books, love to hold them in my hands and sniff the pages, but ebook format makes books available for more people around the globe.

If you write contemporary romance, is there such a thing as making a main character too “real”?  Do you think you can bring too many faults into a character that eventually it becomes too flawed to become a love interest?

That can happen. It might be an opportunity for the character to learn about their mistakes and change themselves. Of course, that requires a lot of time and the story would become boring, but I believe there is a way to handle it. I’m not so sure I would ever be able to write it, though. Also, it highly depends on the protagonist – if they are willing to support their love interest and wait for their transformation.

What traits do you find the most interesting in someone? Do you write them into your characters?

This is a hard question. I find every trait somewhat interesting. The most challenging thing is to combine them so the character is interesting and readers see them in the way I want.

Have you ever put a story away, thinking it just didn’t work?  Then years/months/whatever later inspiration struck and you loved it?  Is there a title we would recognize if that happened?

About two years ago I started writing a fantasy story and I got stuck six chapters in. Everything seemed wrong about it. I decided to put it away and worked on The Truth Beyond the Bitterness. There were two reasons for why the first story didn’t work – worldbuilding and confidence. When I got the deal for my novella, it boosted me to get back to the previous story.

With so much going on in the world today, do you write to explain?  To get away? To move past? To wide our knowledge? Why do you write?

First of all, I write so my head doesn’t explode. I use it as a chance to také a break from everyday life, but in the same time, I feel other people might find it interesting to experience how someone from central Europe looks at the world. I mean I like to read stories from all around the world.

What’s next for you as a writer?

I am writing a fantasy novel right now. I hope I finish the story before the end of this year.

About the Author

Emory Schneider was born in Děčín, the Czech Republic, as the fourth of five children and later moved to the western part of the country to find a job. They ended up working as a brazer in Pilsen—yes, the home of the beer. Emory spent a lot of their childhood discussing possible scenarios for cartoon and manga series they watched with their brother and pretending they were a knight or a spy. Their love of books and stories in general motivated them to learn English, although they had nearly failed the subject for two years.

During their teenage years, they started to make up M/M romance stories, but it took them several years to put any of them on paper. When not working or writing, Emory tries to fight their laziness and burn some calories they probably gained from staring at chocolate bars at the shopping mall or drinking some of the Coke they bought for their husband.

You can contact me at:

Twitter: http://bit.ly/2DUKjY4

Facebook: http://bit.ly/2NY5vRH

Website: http://bit.ly/2OzZ0nw


The Truth Beyond the Bitterness

Can love erase a lifetime of fear and bitterness? Kuba flees the oppressive influence of his strict Catholic family as soon as he graduates high school. In the big city of Pilsen, Czech Republic, he can get a fresh start. Although he is fairly content sharing a flat with his coworker and filling it with books, he knows he’s destined to be alone unless he can come out of the closet. But he just isn’t ready to bare his soul to the world.

When he meets his roommate’s friend Emil, he begins to reconsider. Is a chance at romance with the gorgeous man—and fellow bibliophile— incentive enough for Kuba to face his demons?

World of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the globe.

Available for purchase at: http://bit.ly/2ze9AaY

A Caryn Release Day Review: Shoulder Season (World of Love) by Jackie North


Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

The idea behind Dreamspinner’s “World of Love:  Stories of romance that span every corner of the globe” series is sound, and actually pretty exciting.  Combining exotic locales that most of us would love to see (but probably won’t) with a sweet romance is very attractive.  This one, unfortunately, was somewhat disappointing – I got the impression that the author had never even visited Reykjavik, much less put in some serious research into it….

Ben is an American, a recently graduated engineer from Colorado who has been working as a mechanic because he couldn’t get a better job.  His boyfriend, rich, and oh, BTW, a complete douche, broke up with him right before a planned vacation to Munich, and so Ben decided since he already had the time off and a passport that he would go somewhere else.  Reykjavik, Iceland was cheap because it was October, the shoulder season, and Ben thought it sounded like as good of a place as any.  Until he arrived, and he immediately started wondering what the heck he was thinking, to go so far away from home, alone, with no idea what he would even do when he got there.

It was cold and raining, and Ben was literally standing at the front door of the apartment he had rented thinking of how he could arrange to fly back home the next day, when a cab dropped off a beautiful nordic looking man with a sling and cane whom Ben dubbed the “Icelandic god” right next door to him.  As Ben walked in to his apartment, he heard a crash from next door, and rushed over to help.

Solvin had been injured in a car accident, and though he was still recuperating, he had decided to stay in Reykjavik alone rather than moving back in with family.  He didn’t want to need help, but he had to admit that it was pretty convenient that Ben was available, and willing, and it just seemed natural to start hanging out, and to show Ben the city.

Unfortunately, that is about as good as it got.  Ben kept thinking about the douchey ex, and endlessly comparing him to the perfect Icelandic god that was Solvin, but instead of making Solvin look good, it just started convincing me that Ben was a doormat and an idiot for staying as long as he did.  Americans were stereotyped as loud and obnoxious and the worst kind of tourists, Icelanders were stereotyped as calm and “nice” in a way that just made them sound boring.  Ben and Solvin hit all the touristy spots of Reykjavik, and it felt like a poorly written travelogue more than anything – I swear I learned more about Iceland from watching Bizarre Foods on the Travel Channel than I did reading this book.  The author spent a lot of time justifying why “nice” was a virtue, and so much better than “exciting” and that bothered me because I don’t agree that the two are mutually exclusive.  And don’t even get me started on the ending – I get that books in this series are supposed to be sweet HEAs, but this ending was over the top unrealistic mush.

Cover art by Brooke Albrecht is really pretty!  The Northern Lights sold me on Iceland, but I have to say the model looked like he came from a California beach, not Iceland.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 84 pages
Expected publication: August 10th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN13 9781640806153
Edition Language English
setting Iceland

Hudson Lin on Writing and the new release Three Months to Forever (guest blog)


Three Months to Forever (World of Love) by Hudson Lin

Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon


Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Hudson Lin

Hi! I’m Hudson Lin and this is the blog tour for Three Months to Forever. Read on for some of my thoughts on writing, what I’m working on now, and the blurb for my new novel!

  • How much of yourself goes into a character?

A lot and not very much at all. I always put a little something of myself into my characters, usually some sort of neurosis that plays into the character’s personality and affects the choices they make. So while the characters are unlike me in most ways, the little bit that is similar ends up becoming an important part of how they think and what they believe about themselves.

  • Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

HEAs and HFNs are one reason why I love romance. I can always count on a satisfying and happy ending. In fact, when I read non-romance books, I often get anxious half-way through the book, because what if the book doesn’t end happy?!

However, I seem to have different definitions of HEA and HFN than most people. To me, an HEA is when two people admit they love each other and committed to their relationship. This doesn’t have to mean marriage because marriage isn’t always the right choice for everyone. Also, just because two people get married doesn’t mean the relationship won’t fall apart later and result in divorce. So as long as the characters have committed to each other, I consider that an HEA.

  • If you write contemporary romance, is there such a thing as making a main character too “real”?  Do you think you can bring too many faults into a character that eventually it becomes too flawed to become a love interest?

No, I don’t believe a character can be too real or have too many faults. In fact, I prefer characters who are deeply flawed and stories that show they can still find love. To think otherwise is to believe that there are people in the world who are beyond loving, who are so broken that they do not deserve love. This is antithesis to the core principle of romance. Everyone deserves to be loved—no matter how flawed and broken they are. 

  • Have you ever had an issue in RL and worked it through by writing it out in a story?  Maybe how you thought you’d feel in a situation?

Yes! In fact, one of the first stories I posted online for free is a story about a Catholic priest who struggles with being gay. Having grown up in a very religious environment myself, I’d spent a lot of time reconciling what the Bible teaches about homosexuality with my own experience with homosexuality. What resulted was Stepping Out in Faith, where I wrote onto the page how I was able to come to terms with two seemingly conflicting world views.

  • With so much going on in the world today, do you write to explain?  To get away? To move past? To wide our knowledge? Why do you write?

I write for a number of reasons: to lose myself in a world where there is always a happy ending, to process questions and issues I’ve been struggling with, to recreate the real world in a better form. It’s important to me to reflect the real world in the stories I write, not only to ground the story in reality, but also to give hope that no matter how awful things are in real life, there is potential for better.

  • What’s next for you as an author?

My latest release is Three Months to Forever (out on July 20th from Dreamspinner Press) about Ben, a white man who is sent from Toronto to Hong Kong on a three-month work assignment. He meets Sai, an older Hong Kong lawyer, who has a complicated relationship with his father and his work. They quickly fall in love, despite several lost-in-translation moments, but what will they do when Ben’s three months come to an end? Set in Hong Kong, Three Months to Forever is as much a love story about the city as it is a romance about two men. Readers can expect lots of references to cultural landmarks and plenty of food!

Following Three Months to Forever, I’ve got several other stories in the works (though no set release dates), including an m/m romance set in LA about a Dreamer and his law school classmate; an m/f romance set in Toronto about former law school rivals who find themselves on opposite sides of a new case; and an f/f romance featuring Izzy from my previous book Inside Darkness.

Three Months to Forever releases on July 20th!

Three Months to Forever Blurb

Ben is looking for an adventure when he accepts a temporary assignment in Hong Kong, but he never anticipated how his life might change when he meets a sophisticated older man named Sai. Their initial attraction is sizzling and soon grows into more as Sai takes Ben on a tour of the city’s famous landmarks and introduces him to the local cuisine. Sai stimulates Ben’s intellect and curiosity, and for jaded corporate lawyer Sai, Ben’s innocent eagerness is a breath of fresh air. It would be so easy to fall in love….

But nothing is that simple. Sai’s job forces him to do things that violate his morals, and his relationship with his family is a major obstacle to any lasting relationship with Ben. Back in Toronto, Ben’s father is ill, and can he really leave behind his home for a man he’s only known for a short time? With the clock ticking, they must decide whether to risk it all and turn three months into forever.

About Hudson Lin

Hudson Lin was raised by conservative immigrant parents and grew up straddling two cultures with ofttimes conflicting perspectives on life. Instead of conforming to either, she has sought to find a third way that brings together the positive elements of both.

Having spent much of her life on the outside looking in, Hudson likes to write stories about outsiders who fight to carve out their place in society, and overcome everyday challenges to find love and happily ever afters.

When not engrossed in a story, Hudson knits, drinks tea, and works the 9 to 5 in the beautiful city of Toronto, Canada.

Social Media Links

Website: hudsonlin.com

Twitter: @hudsonlinwrites

Facebook: facebook.com/hudsonlinwrites

Goodreads: goodreads.com/hudsonlinwrites

A MelanieM Review: Not All Chocolates & Cuckoo Clocks by Rebecca Cohen


Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Neither of them wants to fall in love, but getting exactly what they don’t want might be the best thing to ever happen to them.

Mark hopes his boredom with his current job will be alleviated by a short stint in Basel, Switzerland. When he meets Steffen, who struck out on his own from an old-money family to establish an IT firm, Mark expects some fun, great sex, and a clean break when his job is done. The arrangement is perfect for Steffen, who has been content with casual after a betrayal—and has a taste for British men after attending university in the UK. But as they explore the city’s rich history and traditions, Mark begins to see Steffen as much more than a tour guide with benefits. If he isn’t careful, the trip meant to break the lull in his career might end up breaking his heart instead….

I’m very fond of Rebecca Cohen’s stories, from historical romances of The Crofton Chronicles to the contemporary Treading the Boards series, she always brings something different, a decided depth and twist to her novels.  So I was interested to see where her new story, Not All Chocolates & Cuckoo Clocks, would take me.  Surprisingly it took me to her home.

As the author states in her forward, Not All Chocolates & Cuckoo Clocks is as much a love letter to Basel, Switzerland as it is a contemporary romance.  That’s so true.  Rebecca Cohen’s love for her adopted city shines through every scene, every description, glowing like a adoring spotlight over this historical place that’s the location for Mark and Steffen’s love story.  I have to admit I was googling as fast as I was reading, so alluring and warm did Basel become in my mind.  It is a fully formed main character, as much as Mark and Steffen, enfolding them both with the culture, cobbled streets, sounds, and even flavors of Basel itself.  I want to go so badly my fingers are itching to hit Priceline.com or whatever link, book and go!

And with all that, it doesn’t overshine the easy, sweet romance of Mark and Steffen who fall in love over a simple arrangement and look like they have found their HEA.  Normally I don’t do any sort of instant love.  But here with Mark and Steffen, both men are older, coming out of relationships where they can define what didn’t work, and know what they want.  In other words, they are ready.  Right age, right timing.  It happens that way.  And the author makes it believable.  I believed not only in both men, their different personalities, their workplaces, everything.  Oh and the differences in where they lived!

I liked knowing where they took the train to, what stations they got off at.  It gave me a real feel for the city.  The walk to the Zoo and the penguins!  It made the book feel intimate and authentic.  Oh, and the Carnival in Basel, the Basler Fasnacht, along with the 4am Morgestraich, a parade unlike any other.  And so much more.  The reader is right there, watching with Mark and Steffen, laughing and amazed!

Really, it’s hard to remember this story is only 132 pages.

But every page is a jewel.  Of romance, of loving information conveyed to Mark and the reader about Basel, and a terrific love story as well.  Hard to beat that!  If you love contemporary romance and travel too,  Not All Chocolate and Cuckoo Clocks
by Rebecca Cohen is a great combination of both.  Pick it up.  I highly recommend it.  And yes, I’d love to return and visit them again.

Cover Design: Brooke Albrecht. What a great cover. Incorporates both Basel and a model that’s the character. Love it.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Dreamspinner

Book Details:

Dreamspinner Press’ World of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the globe.

ebook, 132 pages
Expected publication: January 12th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Highballer (World of Love) by Ava Hayden


Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

What happens when the man is as tempting as the money?

Remy Delacour’s family doesn’t believe in mainstream medicine, and when Remy’s boyfriend reveals that Remy is majoring in nursing, they cut him off. He has to find money to finish his education—fast. And he is so done with boyfriends.

Levi Aronson met the guy of his dreams and followed him to Australia. He knew the chances for a lasting romance were slim—and boy, was he right. Now he’s back in Canada, a year behind in his university program, and short of funds. He needs money, not another man.

Tree planting is a way to make a lot of money fast, but it’s one of the hardest jobs in the world. When Levi, an experienced planter, sees pretty, sloe-eyed Remy, Levi is certain he’ll never last.

They’ll have to pry Remy’s shovel from his cold, stiff fingers, because he won’t quit—or let anything take his eyes off the prize. When a storm brings Remy and Levi together, each finds the other a distraction from the big goal. But can anything develop between two men who have sworn off relationships?

I’m coming to love this author and her stories.  They always contain characters that feel so grounded in reality and yet unusual enough to make me think I’ve never come across anyone like them before in a romance.  That certainly happens here in Highballer, one of Dreamspinner Press’ World of Love romances.

There is so much to recommend about this story!  Hayden absolutely brings alive the “seasonal society” of tree planters that most of the world’s population may not even be aware of.  You may see all those commercials of vast acres of trees, dense commercial forests…but have you ever given thought as to how they get there?  Who plants them?  You won’t after this story.  Hayden makes the “best worst job in the world”  vivid and compelling, awful and amazing all at once.  This element alone is reason to buy this book.

But silviculture aside, you have the fascinating characters of Remy Delacour and Levi Aronson.  Remy Delacour and his family from Pax Eden could take up their own book here.  Remy is estranged from his family, not because he’s gay but because he’s a nursing student and finally got his vaccinations (something his family is violently against along with organized medicine).  They are pro Health Freedom and he’s come out as an RN.  Everything about Remy is endearing, how I adore this character.  But I love Levi as well.  Levi has his issues to work through.  They also stem from his family, his father in this case and poor treatment from an ex boyfriend.  Combined it’s caused Levi to raise some mighty high walls and come armed with some equally high judgements.

Hayden makes these men real and then puts then in situations you believe in so you watch the slow friendship form or friendships in Remy’s case as he’s the “new kid” amongst a crew of people who’ve worked together.  Everyone here feels like someone you’ve met before, there is an authenticity about them that rings true.  And at the end of the story, you’ll be as sad to leave them as you were saying goodbye to people you camped with or became close to over a summer.  At least that’s how it felt to me.  I wanted them back again.  You’ll also learn what the term “highballer” means.  And have watched a wonderful love story blossom and grow.

I absolutely recommend Highballer (World of Love) by Ava Hayden. I’ll be re-reading to see what elements I missed the first time around.  And then I’ll be waiting to see what this talented author is coming up with next.  I wouldn’t mind if she sends us back to the treeline…

Cover Artist: Jennifer Vance.  This cover is perfect for the characters and setting.  Loved it.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 138 pages
Expected publication: October 25th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
Edition LanguageEnglish

Ava Hayden on Favorites Locations, Characters and her release ‘Highballer’ (guest post)


Highballer (World of Love) by Ava Hayden
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Jennifer Vance

Available for Purchase at

Buy Links:

Dreamspinner: http://bit.ly/2x8X7BC

Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/y9eb5jsp

Rakuten Kobo: http://bit.ly/2z3W3B6

iBooks: http://apple.co/2xYb5L4

Nook: http://bit.ly/2ycpyTT

Google Books: https://goo.gl/RLsjbE

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Ava Hayden here today on her Highballer tour.  Welcome, Ava!



Thanks to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for hosting me today to talk about Highballer, #17 in Dreamspinner’s World of Love series. Highballer follows two tree planters in Alberta as they earn money to secure their futures and fall for each other at the same time. There are a few bumps along the road to their HEA, some the size of the mountains where they’re planting, but no worries—they do get there in the end!

In September, I returned to some of the locations that Levi and Remy visit in the course of the story because a friend was visiting from the States. We drove up the awe-inspiring Icefield Parkway to Jasper and stayed there a couple of days. Jasper National Park is home to one of my favorite spots—Maligne Canyon. In the past I’ve seen bighorn sheep grazing along the edge of a sheer drop to certain death below (they climb over a fence to reach the grass there). I get vertigo just watching them, but I’ve never heard of one falling, unlike some humans who have climbed the fence for a better photo.

While there we also visited the planetarium. It’s a real planetarium but not what you’re probably thinking. It’s inflatable (they call it air-supported). Why a planetarium in Jasper? Because Jasper National Park is the second largest dark sky preserve in the world. (Look at a view of North America at night from space. Find Calgary and then view Jasper National Park. See the difference? The largest dark sky preserve in the world, Wood Buffalo National Park, is also in Alberta, as well as the Northwest Territories. It’s *really* big. ) Unfortunately, the night we went to the planetarium, we couldn’t see the stars through telescopes because of cloud cover. Maybe next year!

We headed back down the Icefield Parkway to Lake Louise and then on to Banff. We walked along the river out to the falls and back to Banff Avenue. That’s all I’m going to say to avoid spoilers, but here are a couple of pics to give you an idea of how beautiful it is there. If you’ve never been, maybe Highballer will make you want to dust off your passport and head north!

Jasper sunset


Bow River, Banff, Alberta



What happens when the man is as tempting as the money?

Remy Delacour’s family doesn’t believe in mainstream medicine, and when Remy’s boyfriend reveals that Remy is majoring in nursing, they cut him off. He has to find money to finish his education—fast. And he is so done with boyfriends.

Levi Aronson met the guy of his dreams and followed him to Australia. He knew the chances for a lasting romance were slim—and boy, was he right. Now he’s back in Canada, a year behind in his university program, and short of funds. He needs money, not another man.

Tree planting is a way to make a lot of money fast, but it’s one of the hardest jobs in the world. When Levi, an experienced planter, sees pretty, sloe-eyed Remy, Levi is certain he’ll never last.

They’ll have to pry Remy’s shovel from his cold, stiff fingers, because he won’t quit—or let anything take his eyes off the prize. When a storm brings Remy and Levi together, each finds the other a distraction from the big goal. But can anything develop between two men who have sworn off relationships?

World of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the globe.

Author Bio

Ava Hayden lives and writes in Alberta, Canada. When not writing, she loves reading yaoi manga and gay romance, baking, seeing plays, hearing live music, and hiking (even though she once came face to face with two grizzlies on a trail). Most of the time her life isn’t that exciting, and that’s fine by her.

More about Ava

Ava Hayden Writes: https://avahayden.com/

Ava Hayden on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/avahayden.ab/

Ava Hayden on Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/avahaydenab/

Ava Hayden on Facebook: fb.me/avahayden.ab

Ava Hayden on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/avahayden

Ava Hayden on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/Ava_Hayden

Ava Hayden at Dreamspinner Press: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/authors/ava-hayden-812

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Wheat Kings and Pretty Things by C.S. Wiley


Rating: 3 stars out of 5

As soon as he graduated high school, Paul Thompson fled the tiny, heavily Ukrainian town of Liddon, Saskatchewan, for bigger and better things. Now in his late thirties, Paul owns a struggling art gallery in Toronto. His grandmother’s one-hundredth birthday is approaching, and Paul will return to place where he grew up for the first time since he left.

The town—and the province—don’t match Paul’s memories. Have they changed? Or has he? He reconnects with Dylan Shevchenko, an old friend who now teaches phys. ed. in Regina. When Paul learns his grandmother had an Aboriginal son he never knew about, he wonders what else he missed while he was away. Did he make the right choice all those years ago? He receives the rare opportunity to start over when he discovers a gallery for sale in Regina. He’s faced with a choice between his youthful dreams in the big city and making a life with Dylan in a place that somehow finally feels like home.

Wheat Kings and Pretty Things by G.S. Wiley is half, maybe two thirds of a great story.  I was rolling right along, happily into Paul Thompson’s reconnection with his roots, his decision to close up his gallery in Toronto and buy a smaller one in Regina and rediscover the man he left behind, as well as family and his past.  Then boom, story over.

Frankly, I was shocked.

I should have realized.  I mean it was only 45 pages but still, I wasn’t keeping count as I was reading and there was no indication that it was drawing to a close.  Indeed, I thought, logically, it was only beginning to ramp up.  Decision made, action taken, now let’s get to the deeper stuff.  Let’s have the author really show the connection growing between Dylan and Paul, Paul and the community of people he left behind, etc. Instead we get the decision, the move and then the ending of the story.  All of the narrative that should have been there, that would have made this an outstanding story is missing.  What happens to the gallery, the First Nations art from the newly discovered family connection? How’s his “city” partner adjusting? Above all how about the romance? I could go on and on with the huge holes that glare out at you here.  The only thing that’s keeping this from plunging into the 2 star category is that what’s there is well written and promising.  I liked the characters and  everything that I read.

It’s not a full story, in my opinion.

I can’t even tell you there’s a romance here. If there is, it’s not much of one.  That’s sort of missing too along with the rest of the story.  This really comes across as a 45 page teaser of a terrific novel that’s coming down the pike.

I’m going to stop writing now before I revise that rating.

Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht.  Cover is gorgeous, Dylan is captured beautifully. I’ll pass on Paul.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 45 pages
Expected publication: August 9th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press

Lou Sylvre and Anne Barwell on Writing, Characters, and their story ‘Sunset at Pencarrow’ (author interview and giveaway)


Sunset at Pencarrow (World of Love) by Lou Sylvre and Anne Barwell
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Anne Cain

Buy Links:

 (Discount code PENCARROW from 5/31-6/30, 30% off, DSP store only.)

Amazon |  Barnes and Noble |  Google Books | iTunesKobo


Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Anne Barwell and Lou Sylvre here today talking about writing, characters and their latest story, Sunset at Pencarrow.  Welcome, Anne and Lou!



Lou: Before we get started answering questions, Anne and I just want to say thanks—first to readers, but equally to STARW for hosting us on our Sunset at Pencarrow blog tour. A heads-up: We have a Rafflecopter giveaway going on so don’t forget to enter early and often!


How much of yourself goes into a character? Do you feel there’s a tight line between Mary Sue or should I say Gary Stu and using your own experiences to create a character?

Lou: The answer to that question depends on how I look at it. In the most literal sense, plunking myself down in a fictional situation and writing about what I would do there, never ever. On the other hand, I’m sure many readers have heard it said that characters are all different versions of the author, and I believe there is some truth to that. I mean, how can we write characters with integrity—real reactions, responses, interactions, and inner workings unless they somehow come from inside ourselves? But so much goes into making up all the hidden parts of ourselves, not just our experiences and so forth, but our empathy, not to mention those characteristics that are part of us and we would never be able to say why. When I write a character, I definitely draw on that resource. Sometimes, it’s just little bits of gut knowledge or subtle reaction. Sometimes, though, it’s extreme—for instance when I write a “bad guy,” what they’re made of are my own honest responses exaggerated and twisted.

So the process goes something like this: Imagine a character vastly different from me, then write as if I am him (or her). Use my own honest emotions, reactions, responses, etc., to drive him along his trajectory toward whatever it is he wants or needs.

Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write? Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?

Anne: I don’t really choose the genres I write—they choose me. I enjoy researching, but I also love the challenge of making up my own worlds and cultures. I’ve written a few historicals and writing those always entails lot of research, and I always learn something new with each book. I work at a library so I tend to refer to a mix of print and electronic materials when I need information. Although I don’t have to worry so much about every little details being as accurate as possible when writing fantasy, I still want consistency in my world building and to ensure that whatever magic system I’m using makes sense. So… instead of a lot of research in the traditional sense, I’m still spending the time I’d usually research in making up a new world.

Lou: I don’t see that as an either/or question. Every novel takes place in a fictional world, even if it is contemporary romance set in a real city, with real buildings and streets and even events—because your characters don’t live in that real city and their story isn’t happening there. And even the most far-flung paranormal, sci-fi, or fantasy has to have elements of realism, because if it didn’t, it would make little sense to readers, and because to hold such a story together the question of “how” is at least as important as “what.” I do enjoy research a great deal regardless of the kind of story I’m writing. That was one of the bonuses of writing Sunset at Pencarrow; it required quite a good bit of research for me, never having been to New Zealand, not having a Vietnamese Buddhist mother, not having been familiar with the places fighting might have occurred in Afghanistan, etc. Anne and I do have another work in process which would fall, genre-wise, somewhere between fantasy and magical realism, but it’s worked around a real series of events in historical Scotland. Lots of research needed there, too—interesting, and one of the fun parts of the writer’s job.

Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

Lou: As a teen, I loved fantasy, sci-fi, and suspense/thriller fiction. I veered away from that in my thirties and forties, reading a lot of Native American literature, women’s literature, lesbian fiction, and mainstream novels and short stories (though I never really stopped reading fantasy and sci-fi). Sometime in the last two decades, I’ve come back around, and now read genre fiction almost exclusively, especially fantasy and (with or without the suspense) romance—the latter mostly M/M. Not surprisingly, those are also the things I like to write nowadays.

Anne: Definitely. I grew up on a reading diet of mostly SF/fantasy and comic books, with the odd historical and mystery detective thrown in. I loved—and still do—Susan Cooper, Madeleine L’Engle, Robert Heinlein, Rosemary Sutcliff, and Andre Norton, to name just a few. If a book looked interesting, I’d read it, which is still my criteria for picking up one today.

My writing, like my reading, covers a range of genres, and sometimes a book will ‘misbehave’ and not stick to one genre. I’ve written historical (WWI and II so far), fantasy (contemporary, high, and urban), SF (time travel), and contemporary romance. There’s a touch of mystery detective through several of those too.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

Lou: Either can be satisfying to me, but I do want one or the other if I’m reading romance. I don’t particularly care for endings that are essentially cliffhangers (unless the next book picks up where the last left off in a series), or endings that just leave too much to the reader to decide what happened, in any genre. To me, however, the very worst kind of ending is the one that tidies everything up too neatly, with no room for me to imagine a future for the characters in my own reader mind.

Anne: I don’t mind whether characters get a HFN or HEA, as long as they don’t go through a lot of strife for nothing. In some situations, such as an historical, a HEA isn’t going to happen, but that’s fine. Sometimes, the story is a slice of someone’s life, and like real life, I’d prefer not to know what happens in the future. As long as they’re happy now, I’m happy.

Sometimes characters aren’t going to get either, but there needs to be a good reason for that, depending on the story. If there isn’t a good reason though, I get annoyed. I read a series a couple of years ago, and devoured all three tome sized books, only to have the author kill one of the main characters in the second to last chapter of the final book and then have something happen that undid everything the characters had worked for. And yes, I’m still muttering about that one.

Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?

Anne: I didn’t read any romance stories until I was an adult, although some of the stories I read had some romance in them, so I have a lot of catching up to do. I’ve always enjoyed stories that are more character driven and as romance is a part of life, it makes sense that I’d be drawn towards reading the genre. I read across a lot of genres, and my romance reading tends to be more MM rather than MF, although I do enjoy a good MF romance too.

Lou: I didn’t really start reading romances until I was in my twenties, unless you count things like Jane Eyre, which I read as a young teen. In the 1970s, I read authors like Kathleen E. Woodiwiss and Johanna Lindsey—that was the infamous bodice-ripper era. I stopped reading them for a while except Lesbian romance. For the past decade or so, I’ve been reading mostly (but not exclusively) M/M when I read romance.

How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?

Anne: I read both ebooks and hardcopy, but given the choice I prefer the feel of a hardcopy book. However, if it wasn’t for ebooks, I wouldn’t have been able to read many books that I’ve enjoyed. There are more novellas available now than there used to be, as most of those aren’t in print, and also being in New Zealand, books and postage to here are very expensive, so many books I want to read would be out of my reach in hardcopy.

I think there’s a place for both ebooks and hardcopy for that reason. Each has their pros and cons, and readers who prefer one of the other, so I’m hoping we’ll continue to be able to have the option to read whichever way we want for.

How do you choose your covers? (curious on my part)

Lou: I’ve been lucky enough to work with Dreamspinner Press and Harmony Ink, their YA imprint. More so than some publishers, they allow the author to have a good deal of input about what goes on the cover, but it’s the assigned artist who interprets that. They provide mock-ups to choose from, and also accept suggestions for changes. So I don’t have to just accept a cover as a done deal, but I also don’t have to create one or go shopping for one. When I choose from the mocks and offer possible tweaks, I’m looking to evoke a feeling or atmosphere that gets at the heart of the book. I am more than pleased with the covers I have, and honestly I’m delighted with the cover Anne and I got from Reese Dante for Sunset at Pencarrow.

Do you have a favorite among your own stories? And why?

Lou: I’m going to take the liberty of changing the question slightly. Since Sunset at Pencarrow is my current love, I’m going to choose my favorite among my other books. It’s not easy, but I’d have to choose Because of Jade, the final book in my Vasquez and James series. Through five previous stories, I put those men through hell. They faced unspeakable terrors, they grew as individuals, and they grew in their love for each other. At the end of each book, they had a happy ending, but never quite complete. In BOJ, they are finally mature, and though they face problems and scares, the main focus is the way they grow their love outward, as they adopt a little girl and make a family. I love the men the characters grew into, I love the world they make for themselves in this book, and I love their little girl. More than that, it makes my heart sing a little that I finally got to give them a true happy ever after, which they so richly deserved.

Anne: Choosing a favorite story is like choosing a favorite child, but one of my favorites would have to be my Echoes Rising series. This series has been a part of my life for well over a decade, and when I started writing the first book—Shadowboxing—it was the first time I knew that what I was working on was a novel. It actually turned out to be three novels, but these books and their characters will always have a soft spot in my heart.

What’s next for you as an author?

Anne: Comes a Horseman, which is the 3rd and final book of my WWII Echoes Rising series releases from DSP Publications on 1st August. After that, One Word, which is book 3 of my contemporary fantasy series Hidden Places is being published by Dreamspinner Press in November/December this year. Writing wise, I’m finishing up Prelude to Love which is a contemporary romance set in New Zealand. After that I’m heading into another co-written book with Lou called The Harp and the Sea, which is a historical set in 17th century Scotland with a touch of magic realism. While she’s working on her side of that, I’ll be writing A Sword to Rule, the 2nd and final book of my fantasy series Dragons of Austria.

Lou: I’m re-working the first two books and writing the third in a series that spun off from Vasquez and James, and making some decisions about the series future. Anne and I have a novel in progress (the Scottish historical/fantasy mentioned above), and I’ve got a couple of novellas in the early stages. So, I’m busy, and hopefully will have more specific news soon. Thanks for asking!


Lou and Anne: Thank you again, readers. We’d love to hear your thoughts, so leave a comment (and get another giveaway entry in the process). We also hope to see you along the way throughout the tour.  

Just click here

for the complete schedule and links!



Kiwi Nathaniel Dunn is in a fighting mood, but how does a man fight Wellington’s famous fog? In the last year, Nate’s lost his longtime lover to boredom and his ten-year job to the economy. Now he’s found a golden opportunity for employment where he can even use his artistic talent, but to get the job, he has to get to Christchurch today. Heavy fog means no flight, and the ticket agent is ignoring him to fawn over a beautiful but annoying, overly polite American man.

Rusty Beaumont can deal with a canceled flight, but the pushy Kiwi at the ticket counter is making it difficult for him to stay cool. The guy rubs him all the wrong ways despite his sexy working-man look, which Rusty notices even though he’s not looking for a man to replace the fiancé who died two years ago. Yet when they’re forced to share a table at the crowded airport café, Nate reveals the kind heart behind his grumpy façade. An earthquake, sex in the bush, and visits from Nate’s belligerent ex turn a day of sightseeing into a slippery slope that just might land them in love.

World of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the globe.

Book info:

Pages: 129
Words: 48,703
Formats: epub, mobi, pdf
ISBN-13 978-1-63533-520-0

About the Authors

Anne Barwell

Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She works in a library, is an avid reader and watcher across genres, and is constantly on the lookout for more hours in her day. Music often plays a part in her stories, and although she denies being a romantic at heart, the men in her books definitely are.  Anne has written in several genres—contemporary, fantasy, historical, and SF— and believes in making her characters work for their happy endings.

Lou Sylvre

Lou Sylvre loves romance with all its ups and downs, and likes to conjure it into books. The romantics on her pages are men who fall hard for each other, end up deeply in love, and often save each other from unspeakable danger. It’s all pretty crazy and very sexy. Among other things, Lou is the creator of the popular Vasquez and James series​, which can be found at Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, and many other online vendors.

Contact links:



Lou and Anne’s shared Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/sylvrebarwellhoffmann/


Rafflecopter script and links:

a Rafflecopter giveaway



DSP GUEST POST Laura Bailo on The Sun Still Rises


The Sun Still Rises (World of Love) by Laura Bailo
reamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht

Available at

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Laura Bailo here today to talk about writing, characters and her latest novel, The Sun Still Rises. Welcome, Laura!

~Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Laura Bailo~

  • How much of yourself goes into a character?

I think there are always bits and pieces of the authors that bleed into their characters. Even when all I was writing were short stories, I could see this. What I write, my words, they’re like little windows into my soul, I always put a bit of myself there. In this case, Erik’s got my anxiety and David has got my love for Pamplona. They’re not me, I didn’t write myself into the book, but I created their personalities, and I think it’s normal a piece of mine slotted there along with theirs.

  • Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write?  Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?

I’d say both, although I haven’t written anything that required a lot of research, at least not yet. In The Sun Still Rises, I wrote what I knew, since it’s set in my city and I’ve experienced the San Fermín festival more than once. I’ve never done the running of the bulls though, that part came completely from my imagination.

But I also enjoy making up worlds and different cultures. I started writing a fantasy story a while ago and I was loving writing it and playing with the world building. It’s on stand-by right now, but I do plan on getting back to it as soon as I can. 

  • Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

I don’t think so, or at least, not directly. I read a lot when I was a teenager, and I read in every genre. I was reading Agatha Christie by the time I was twelve years old. But I was also reading Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings and everything I could get my hands on. My mother loves reading, and she’s always loved mysteries, so I had quite a few to choose from. Still, to this day, I haven’t been tempted to write a mystery novel.

So my choice of genres didn’t really carry on into my choices for writing, but my love of reading did influence my love of writing.

  • Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

Absolutely. I love picking up a romance book and knowing the characters are going to end up together, despite all the curveballs life throws at them. It gives me hope.

As for a preference between them, I’d say it depends on the book. I love HEAs, but in some cases, a HFN suits the characters better, or their circumstances.

  • Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?

I didn’t read them as a teenager, although I always loved when there was a romantic element in the stories I was reading. I started reading romance just a few years ago, but from then on, I’ve been hooked and I just can’t stop. I still read other genres, but I always have a romance book in mind to start once I’ve finished my current read.

  • How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?

I don’t think I’ve got any specific feelings about the ebook format. Reading is reading, doesn’t matter to me how it’s done. I still love and buy paperbacks, but the ebook format has given me a whole world of new books I wouldn’t have access to otherwise. I live in Spain and mostly read in English, but finding physical books in English here in stores is kind of difficult, unless they’re either bestsellers or classics. The book format give me a lot of possibilities outside of what my usual stores have to offer, and I love that.

  • Do you have a favorite among your own stories?  And why?

Are you sure you are allowed to ask this to an author? Isn’t it like asking a parent which one of their kids they love more?

I don’t think I’ve got a favorite, or at least not so far. I haven’t written enough stories to be able to tell you “I like this above all the others”. You can ask me again in a few years.

  • What’s next for you as an author?

Officially, I’ve contracted a short story with Nine Star Press for one of their F/F Paranormal anthologies. It’s about two girls that come to Spain to walk Saint James Way and find themselves in the middle of a Galician legend.

Besides that it’s just writing, writing and writing. I’m immersed in writing a story with two 17 years old MCs, one of whom is asexual while the other one is bisexual. I’m loving writing it and getting to know the characters and where they want to go, but I’m a slow writer, so we’ll have to wait until it’s finished. And then wait to see if anyone wants to publish it.


Erik’s father lived for Pamplona’s yearly festival and the running of the bulls. Now he’s gone, and Erik flies to Pamplona on a whim to see the festival his father loved—without booking a room first. He’s looking at sleeping on the ground until friendly David from the tourism office offers to share his home.

When Erik realizes he trusts David, that he might even be willing to face his anxiety to get to know David better, he begins to understand what this trip could mean. Pamplona is even more beautiful when seen through David’s eyes, and Erik might have traveled around the world just to find himself. But can he hold on to his newfound confidence—and to David—when it’s time to go home?

World of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the globe.

About the Author

Laura Bailo is a veterinarian and a teacher in training who can do surgical sutures but can’t sew on a button to save her life. 

She lives in Spain with far too many books and boxes full of notebooks. She loves exploring the narrow streets of Pamplona and she’s known to have gotten lost in her own city. She loves reading, singing and trying out new cooking recipes, and if she’s feeling adventurous she may try to do all of these at the same time.

She loves hearing from people and you can find her at: