Blog Tour for ‘Kevin Corrigan and Me’ by Jeré M. Fishback (author guest post, excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Kevin Corrigan and Me

Author: Jere’ M. Fishback

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: June 19

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 57400

Genre: Contemporary and Historical, YA Literature, Historical, memoir fiction, non-explicit, Gay, Bi, Cisgender, coming-of-age, friends to lovers, homophobia, in the closet, coming out, athlete

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Where my ideas come from by Jere’ M. Fishback

People ask me where my ideas for my stories come from, and I always have to tell them, “I don’t know.” When I start a new book, I only have a character in mind who has a problem or a challenge to face and I know the setting for the story, that’s about it. I never outline my books, I could not imagine doing so because my stories develop as I go along. After a while I find the characters are telling me what to write and where they want to the story to go. I know that sounds strange but it’s true.

Synopsis

Ever since their boyhood days, fifteen-year-old Jesse has craved something more than friendship from Kevin Corrigan. Athletic, handsome and cocky, Kevin doesn’t seem approachable. But when Kevin spends a summer at Jesse’s family’s beach home, an affair ignites between them, one so intense it engulfs both boys in a emotional tug of war neither wants to give up on.

Excerpt

Kevin Corrigan and Me
Jere’ M. Fishback © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Kevin Corrigan died two days ago, on a Thursday, at the age of sixty-five. I know this only because I saw his obituary in this morning’s Tampa Bay Times. The obit provided limited information: date of birth, date of death, and Kevin’s place of residence, Madeira Beach. It also said Kevin had no known survivors, but that isn’t really true because I’m still alive and I am very much Kevin’s survivor.

My name is Jesse Lockhart. I grew up in the Jungle area of west St. Petersburg, Florida, in a cinder-block home with a fireplace, casement windows, a weed-and-dirt yard, no air-conditioning, and an ineffective furnace. My parents divorced when I was six years old and my father disappeared shortly after that, so he wasn’t a factor in my life. I lived with my mother and younger sister, Lisa.

Kevin was an only child who lived next door to me with his Boston Irish parents. He was a year older than me, and between my parents’ divorce and the time I reached the age of eleven, Kevin became my primary masculine influence.

I worshipped him.

Always half a head taller than me, Kevin was lanky, with curly blond hair and a riot of freckles dancing across his turned-up nose. His blue eyes twinkled, and he was athletic in a way I would never be. He had a cocky attitude; he wasn’t intimidated by anything or anybody, not snarling dogs, rattlesnakes, teenagers, or any type of authority figure: cops, umpires, or the nuns that taught at his Catholic primary school.

Okay, he wasn’t the sharpest when it came to his schoolwork. I was mostly a straight-A student while Kevin scraped by with Cs, and every time report cards issued, his mom compared mine to his. Then she’d say to Kevin, “Why can’t you be more like Jesse?”

But Kevin wasn’t meant for school and textbooks; he wasn’t designed to perform academic tasks. His world was the palmetto and pine forest near our homes, the baseball diamonds in our part of town, a tree house he built for himself, and the streets and alleys of our suburban neighborhood.

It seems hard for me to believe now, but when I was eight and Kevin nine, he and I often rode a city bus, unaccompanied by an adult, from the Jungle all the way to downtown St. Petersburg, a ten-mile journey, just to see a matinee at the Florida Theater. Afterward, we’d visit a magic shop called Sone’s, a quirky place run by a Japanese couple where we bought stupid things to bring home: fake plastic puke, a whoopee cushion, and cigarette loads I snuck into my mom’s Viceroys; they exploded with a bang shortly after she lit up. Once we bought a tin of itching powder, which I think was simply shredded fiberglass, and then on the bus ride home, Kevin surreptitiously sprinkled some of the powder down the backs of two women’s sundresses, causing the women to writhe and scratch while we giggled and jabbed each other in the ribs.

Kevin’s home life was a mess. His father, Colonel Frank Corrigan, was a wheelchair-bound WWII veteran who’d sustained spinal damage in the Pacific theater. He was in constant pain, and this caused him to be cranky and out of sorts. He puffed on Hav-A-Tampa cigars jammed into a holder he’d fashioned from a coat hanger because his fingers didn’t work very well. He drove a black Cadillac with the accelerator and brakes operated by calipers attached to the steering wheel. He was always yelling at Kevin for one thing or another in a barking tone I could hear a block away. His favorite epithet was, “I’m gonna kill that kid, Margaret.”

Margaret was Kevin’s mother, the Corrigan household martyr who endured Kevin’s mischievous behavior and her husband’s unceasing demands. A bulky woman with auburn hair and a narrow, thin-lipped mouth, she bathed the Colonel, helped him in and out of bed, got him dressed, and cooked the family meals. She washed clothes in an old-fashioned ringer-style washtub, then hung them to dry on a clothesline in the Corrigans’ backyard. She always seemed tired and dispirited to me. I rarely heard her laugh, and I often wondered whether the Colonel and Margaret had once enjoyed a happy marriage, back when the Colonel was healthy and Kevin wasn’t part of their lives.

The Corrigans’ social life revolved around the Madeira Beach Moose Lodge, the VFW, and St. Jude Catholic Church. Every Sunday they piled into their Cadillac to attend Mass with the Colonel’s wheelchair loaded into the trunk by his wife. Once I went with them; I was curious to see how a Catholic service might differ from those at my Methodist church. Much to my surprise, the St. Jude Mass was conducted in Latin; I couldn’t understand a word the priest said. Money was collected from parishioners through use of a metal basket attached to a telescoping aluminum pole operated by an usher. The day I was there, Kevin pretended to put money in the basket, but instead he stole a dollar when his folks weren’t watching, then stuffed it into his pocket after giving me a wink. I felt appalled by his behavior, but of course I didn’t snitch; I wouldn’t have dreamt of it.

Kevin was a natural athlete; he could play any sport—baseball, basketball, or football—with agility and grace. But he couldn’t get along with other players; he constantly got into scraps with members of opposing teams, or even with his own teammates. He had a way of needling guys with sarcastic remarks about their lack of athletic prowess or even their looks. (“Is that your nose or are you eating a banana?”) In fact, he seemed incapable of forming true friendships with anyone other than me.

For reasons I didn’t understand at the time, Kevin was drawn to me just as I was drawn to him. He never teased or threatened or taunted me like he did other boys in the neighborhood. He never called me an insulting nickname. I was by nature a gentle boy who lacked self-confidence in the masculine world, so I never tried emulating Kevin’s miscreant behaviors on my own, but I loved serving as his sidekick and sycophant. I relished my role as abettor.

Many of our neighbors had citrus trees in their backyards: oranges, tangerines, and grapefruits. One night, at Kevin’s suggestion, we snuck into the neighbors’ properties to fill two paper grocery sacks full of grapefruits larger than softballs. Across the street from my house, a huge live oak grew in the right-of-way. One of the oak’s limbs stretched across the road like an arm reaching for a box of crackers in the cupboard. Toting our sacks of grapefruits, Kevin and I scaled the tree and perched ourselves on the limb overlooking the road. When a car passed beneath us, Kevin or I dropped a grapefruit on the car’s windshield, which always scared the bejeezus out of the car’s occupants. Women screamed and brakes squealed. Men cursed. But of course no one could see us up there in the darkness.

Every Halloween Kevin and I dressed as hobos. We scavenged the neighborhood, collecting candy in our pillowcases while pulling the occasional prank. My favorite was one where Kevin scooped up a pile of dog turds using a Sabal palm boot as a shovel. He dropped the turds on someone’s doorstep, soaked them in lighter fluid, and set them on fire. Then he rang the unsuspecting homeowner’s doorbell. The result, of course, was never in doubt. The surprised resident stomped the fire out with his shoe, only to belatedly discover what sort of material flamed. Kevin and I hid in a nearby bush, watching and chuckling so hard I think I might have peed in my pants.

Kevin liked to spy on people at night, on weekends or during summers when we could stay out until nine or ten. We peeped on women undressing, on an old guy who picked his nose and ate the boogers, on a pair of men who slow-danced together in their underwear to Johnny Mathis records, on a high school boy who often pleasured himself while leafing through a girlie magazine. I, of course, had never seen such things before. Kevin’s spying opened up a whole new world for me, one I knew I would never discuss with my mom or sister or anyone else. How could I possibly?

I remember one summer when the Colonel traded in his Cadillac for a two-toned, cinnamon-and-cream Rambler station wagon. The Corrigans took a month-long cross-country trip in the Rambler, all the way to California, where Kevin sent me a postcard from Disneyland. He sent me another from the Alamo in San Antonio. Both were places I’d always dreamed of visiting, but figured I’d never see. That was a miserable month for me. I felt jealous of Kevin’s travels and as lonely as I’d ever been in my young life. I think I was nine then. Of course there were other boys in the neighborhood and I did my best to pass the time with them, but it wasn’t the same as being with Kevin. I longed for the day the Corrigans would return.

The Corrigans’ house stood north of ours. Kevin’s bedroom was at the southwest corner, while my bedroom was at the northwest corner of our house, so Kevin and I always slept about twenty feet apart. If we’d wanted to, we could have tossed a football back and forth between our bedroom windows. But I never spent the night with Kevin and he never spent the night with me because Kevin was a chronic bed-wetter. His mother kept a fitted rubber sheet on his mattress at all times, and this went on for as long as Kevin lived next door. I didn’t know anything about the reasons behind bed-wetting, but even then I suspected it was caused by emotional distress of one sort or another, probably linked to his poor school grades, his father’s withering tirades, and the Colonel’s very obvious disability that surely must have embarrassed Kevin. But I always kept his bed-wetting problem to myself; I never even mentioned it to my mother or sister. I figured I owed it to Kevin to keep his habit a secret from the rest of the world.

When Kevin and I were boys, Catholics were not supposed to eat meat of any sort on Fridays: no beef, chicken, or pork. So every Friday Mrs. Corrigan prepared a dinner featuring Mrs. Paul’s fish sticks. These were tasteless little rectangles of processed and frozen cod you heated up on a cookie sheet, and Kevin detested them.

“They taste like cardboard,” he told me, “even when I cover them with tartar sauce.”

At our house, my mom prepared a fried chicken dinner every Friday—the tasty meal was a ritual—and every Friday Kevin would sneak over to our house to dine on fried chicken, unbeknownst to his parents. Of course, my mom knew what was up, but she never told Kevin’s parents he violated God’s law every Friday night. She let him gnaw on wings and legs with abandon because Mom was that way. Within reason, she believed in giving kids the freedom to do whatever they chose.

The summer before my sixth-grade year, I was nearly eleven and Kevin was already twelve. He was almost as tall as my mom at that point—he’d put some muscle onto his frame as well—and I remember very clearly an incident involving Kevin, a truly cathartic experience for me. I had just finished my breakfast and brushed my teeth, and I walked over to the Corrigans’ house to see what Kevin was up to. Their garage door was open, and I heard someone rattling about inside, so I walked into the garage’s shadowy interior where I found Kevin rummaging through the contents of a cardboard box. He wore nothing but a flimsy pair of briefs that clung to his buttocks and displayed a randy bulge in front.

Kevin might as well have been naked.

Right away my mouth grew sticky and my knees wobbled. I lived with two females—I had never seen another boy in his underwear—and the sight of Kevin’s lean physique captivated me in a strange way I hadn’t felt before. There in the garage, I thought Kevin was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. I felt so stunned I couldn’t speak. I just clenched and unclenched my fingers at my hips while I kept my gaze focused on Kevin.

When he finally noticed me standing there, Kevin gazed at me with his eyes narrowed and his forehead crinkled, as if to say, “What are you looking at?”

It was then, of course, I realized something about myself that I’d never before suspected: I felt a physical attraction to Kevin; I wanted to touch him in ways that weren’t allowed in the world we dwelt in, and the realization that I harbored these urges frightened me out of my wits. I didn’t know what to do or say, so I turned on my heel and ran back to my house as quickly as I could. I went to my room and closed the door behind me. Then, after I sat on my bed, I rocked back and forth while wagging my knees and cracking my knuckles. My stomach roiled and my heart thumped. Between my legs, I felt a stiffening as I recalled exactly what I’d seen in the Corrigans’ garage. My viewing of an almost nude Kevin had seared his sex appeal into my brain, and I was never quite the same guy after that morning. There in my bedroom, I knew I was somehow different than other boys, and though I couldn’t yet articulate how I was different, I was certainly on my way to finding out. Neither Kevin nor I ever mentioned the incident in the garage after it happened. In fact I suspect Kevin had no idea what it had meant to me or how that moment had altered my view of myself.

But I knew.

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

 

Jere’ M. Fishback is a former journalist and trial lawyer who now writes fiction full time. He lives with his partner Greg on a barrier island on Florida’s Gulf Coast. When he’s not writing, Jere’ enjoys reading, playing his guitar, jogging, swimming laps, fishing, and watching sunsets from his deck overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway.

Website | Facebook

Tour Schedule

6/19    Bayou Book Junkie

6/19    MM Good Book Reviews

6/20    Divine Magazine

6/21    Stories That Make You Smile

6/22    Dean Frech

6/22    Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

6/23    Love Bytes Reviews 

6/23    Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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A MelanieM Review: The Lure of Port Stephen by Sydney Blackburn

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

Robbie Wales is young and starting a new job in a new town, on his own. Coming from a split family, he was raised by his mother and maternal grandparents and came out as a teen without a lot of fuss, but his father, whom he only saw infrequently, has never known. As an adult, he’s found he’s got a lot in common with his father, and they’re finally getting to know each other. He fears coming out to his father may jeopardize that.

Then he meets Raj Williams, the attractive man in the trailer next to his father’s in a seasonal RV park. Raj is handsome, sophisticated, yet loves to fish and watch silly Disney movies.

Raj finds Robbie equally interesting. But Robbie’s still in the closet, at least in Port Stephen, and Raj’s ex used that as an excuse to treat him as nothing more than a friend with benefits. He’s not interested in a repeat experience.

Robbie finally finds the courage to come out to his father, but was it all just for a summer fling?

The Lure of Port Stephen by Sydney Blackburn is in many ways like spending the day out on or by the water.  It’s a hot summer day read, sexy, sweet,  and a little steamy.  Its got fish.   Men that like to fish.  And have lots of sex.  Plus there’s a sweet coming out story and falling in love.  In other words, there’s a lot to like here.

Blackburn does a lovely job in the characterization of Raj and Robbie and their respective families.  Robbie, a machinist, is trying to reconnect with his Dad who lives in a trailer with his stepmother by the water.  He’s out to his mom and everyone else but not his Dad, and he’s still trying to figure out their relationship.  Robbie is young but still has a maturity about him that’s wonderful here.  He’s not ashamed to be gay, he’s just not sure of his place yet in his father’s life.  Then he meets the handsome, gay man who has the trailer lot next door to his dad’s for the summer, Raj Williams.  Down from Toronto, Raj has a work job that allows him to move around so he can enjoy his summer at Port Stephens.  Raj never figured on meeting Robbie.  A gay fling that turns into friendship and then more.

I found I started to engage in this romance more when they decided to become more serious about each other.  Up until then, while I enjoyed the characters, I wasn’t terribly invested in the romance.  After several events, especially (my favorites) the ones with Robbie’s dad, the story grew wings for me.  In fact, the scenes that resonated the most with me?  All the coming out ones, and the ones that followed. It includes those between Raj and Robbie’s dad, so funny and poignant.

I thought the ending was sweet if a little abrupt.  Maybe an epilogue wouldn’t have hurt here. but definitely more was needed.  Still I would recommend The Lure of Port Stephen by Sydney Blackburn as a sweet contemporary romance.

Cover art by Natasha Snow is beautiful and perfect for the story.

Sales Links

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

Book Details:

ebook
Published May 22nd 2017 by NineStar Press
ISBN139781947139121

A Caryn Review: A Good Neighbour (London Lads #3) by Clare London

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Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Another very cute, very SHORT little novella in the London Lads universe.  I kid you not, the blurb covers 95% of the story.

It all starts with Mitzi and Bess, two feisty little old ladies who only want the very best for their great nephew Dylan.  They have a standing date for tea and cakes with him every week, and have been not so gently encouraging him to find somebody special.  They’re a little bit manipulative as well, and clearly know more than they are letting on as they tease Dylan about his neighbor Josie.  And her good-looking brother Neal.

Dylan is very conscious of how conservative and gossipy his little town is.  He’s a teacher, and feels he has a certain reputation to uphold, and being gay doesn’t really fit with his ideal.  So he hides it.  Neal is a journalist who covers stories all over the world, and his life is full of excitement and freedom.  He’s only in town for a few days each month, and though they’ve been together since they first met months ago, Dylan has been extremely careful about making sure that they aren’t seen together so no one will suspect the truth.

How can these two men, from such different worlds, find a way to be together for good?  Who will be the one to compromise?  Will Dylan finally admit to his aunts that he is gay and obtain their blessing?  Will the aunts get fed up with all the secrecy and expose everything???  (Personally, I also wanted to know how the aunts identify, the initial set up made me think they were lovers, but then they started flirting with another old man, so maybe there is a geriatric threesome going on?  They may be gossips, but these little biddies clearly had some secrets of their own!)

For answers, you have to read the book!  It will take you an hour, tops.  Don’t expect any great characterization or extensive plot, the story is way too short for that.  But it was a nice way to fritter away a bit of an evening at home…

Cover art by Valerie Tibbs shows two smiling men I could very easily imagine as Dylan and Neal.  Too bad Mitzi and Bess didn’t fit on the cover with them!

Sales Links:  

Dreamspinner Press 

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Book Details:

ebook, 2nd Edition, 60 pages
Published April 19th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press (first published 2009)
ISBN 163533411X (ISBN13: 9781635334111)
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesLondon Lads #3

Sydney Blackburn on Writing and The Lure of Port Stephen by Sydney Blackburn (author guest post,excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  The Lure of Port Stephen

Author: Sydney Blackburn

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: May 22, 2017

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 29900

Genre: Contemporary, sweet, blue collar, class difference, interracial, camping, fishing, coming out, Lake Erie, Canada

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Sydney Blackburn here today. Sydney is sharing a bit about writing her latest story, The Lure of Port Stephen.  Welcome, Sydney!

Writing The Lure of Port Stephen by Sydney Blackburn

I think all writers feel some degree of nerves knowing people are reading their work. Even when it’s my editor, I sometimes feel like, “oh my god, they’re *reading* that!”

With The Lure of Port Stephen, though, there’s an additional element of anxiety when it comes to readers. I wrote The Lure of Port Stephen while staying in the real village of Port Bruce, in a real RV park/marina not unlike the one in the story. The biggest difference is all of the people populating Port Stephen have no counterpart in the actual summer people of Port Bruce. They all know I’ve written the story and they’ve been dying for it to come out, but they keep expecting to see themselves in it, no matter how often I explain that they’re not there.

We moved back to the village for the summer on the twelfth. Although part of me remains convinced none of the summer people will actually buy it–I worry also that they will. My biggest fear? That they’ll read it, and project themselves into one of the characters and tell me, “But I’m not really like that!”  Granted, there’s no sexy twenty-something gay men in the real RV park, so there’s that.

I also gave the location internet service and reliable cell service in the book, neither of which really exist in this particular spot–all my internet necessities are met by hanging out in the bait shop for a few hours. Being without the distractions of the internet did help me focus on my writing. When I wasn’t at the beach or sitting out on the deck watching the ducks and herons in the creek.

Although it’s too soon to tell if my fears will come true or will be ungrounded, the fact that I’m anxious about it will probably be enough to keep me to my more fictional settings.

In future posts on this tour, I’ll talk more about Port Bruce, and even have some photos of locations that made it, unchanged, into the story!

Synopsis

Robbie Wales is young and starting a new job in a new town, on his own. Coming from a split family, he was raised by his mother and maternal grandparents and came out as a teen without a lot of fuss, but his father, whom he only saw infrequently, has never known. As an adult, he’s found he’s got a lot in common with his father, and they’re finally getting to know each other. He fears coming out to his father may jeopardize that.

Then he meets Raj Williams, the attractive man in the trailer next to his father’s in a seasonal RV park. Raj is handsome, sophisticated, yet loves to fish and watch silly Disney movies.

Raj finds Robbie equally interesting. But Robbie’s still in the closet, at least in Port Stephen, and Raj’s ex used that as an excuse to treat him as nothing more than a friend with benefits. He’s not interested in a repeat experience.

Robbie finally finds the courage to come out to his father, but was it all just for a summer fling?

Excerpt

The Lure of Port Stephen
Sydney Blackburn © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One

Robbie Wales rented a car Saturday morning to go down to his father’s trailer in Port Stephen. Alone—because he’d just moved to St. Albans and hadn’t had the opportunity to meet someone. Like Dad and Wanda had been nagging him about.

It would help if he could actually tell them the someone he hoped to meet was a guy. His mother knew, of course. But his parents had split when he was a baby, and he hadn’t spent more than a couple weeks a year with his father until he’d moved to Woodstock for his apprenticeship training. He’d never had a boyfriend serious enough to mention. Coming out seemed too important not to do in person, but the right time never seemed to come up.

He had to come out to them soon—he was twenty-two, and the more time he spent with them, the more obvious it would be—but he was worried. What if his father rejected him just when they were finally having a real relationship? But—new job, new apartment, new city—it was time.

St. Albans was only a twenty-minute drive away from the port. He could, in theory, hang out and fish during the day and go back to town at night. It wasn’t that he didn’t like sitting around their firepit, but listening to a bunch of people his parents’ age or older wasn’t his idea of a fun time. They wouldn’t miss him.

He pulled in beside the end of his parents’ trailer, leaving room for other vehicles in case the people in the small Prowler next door had friends coming up for the weekend too. Robbie grabbed his duffel and used the keys his father had given him last year to let himself in. The water and electric were already on, and the fridge was humming softly.

He dropped the duffel and went out to retrieve the case of beer he’d brought. Hard liquor would take up less fridge space, he mused. Too bad it made him stupid. He gave the neighbouring trailer a sidelong glance. Small propane grill, decorative urns spilling jewel-tone flowers, sun shelter, and a couple of fishing rods. Retired couple, he decided. Flowers had to be a woman’s touch.

Movement on one of the boats caught his eye, and he turned just in time to see a man—literally tall, dark, and handsome—strip his T-shirt off. There was nothing erotic in the motion—guy probably didn’t even know he was being watched—but Robbie’s mouth watered all the same at the unexpected vision.

He was lean, deeply tanned, and wearing shorts that were short enough to make Robbie wish they were even shorter. Nice legs. Nice everything.

As if sensing Robbie’s stare, the guy turned his head. Robbie blushed, glad he was too far away for it to be seen, and hurried to bring in the beer. That was a sight he’d never seen here before. Was he the son of the couple in the trailer?

One way to find out. Randomly chatting to strangers was a thing here, giving Robbie an excuse. He stuck six beers in the fridge and took two of his father’s, already cold, and hastily checked his look in the mirror. His sandy-brown hair was tousled from the drive, but there were no stains on his tank or rainbow-coloured board shorts. Good. Normal. He pulled his sunglasses down over his eyes and almost forgot the beer on his way out the door.

Walking along the waterfront, he tried to appear nonchalant, though he’d never been 100 percent certain of what that meant. As he strode out onto the dock, the guy raised his head. He looked even better up close. His hair was thick, dark, begging to be ruffled… Try not to drool, Rob. He didn’t have the words to describe the guy’s mouth—full lips he’d love to kiss, a pinkish-brown colour a little lighter than his nipples. Dark hair scattered across a gorgeous dark tan. Robbie licked his lips before he realized what he was doing.

Then Tall, Dark, and Handsome’s kissable lips pulled up into a smile, and long fingers with very pale fingernails shoved the sunglasses up over his hair. “Hey.”

“Hey.” Robbie handed him a beer. “You looked thirsty. Boat trouble?” he added quickly, squatting down to eye level. Tall, Dark, and Handsome had eyelashes like a woman’s—long, feathery, soft. And his eyes were amber, a little darker than the beer he’d accepted from Robbie.

“Thanks.” He pushed a hand behind his ear, and Robbie’s tongue slipped out to swipe his lower lip again.

The handsome stranger twisted the cap off the beer and tipped the bottle to his mouth, his long throat working as he swallowed once, twice.

Robbie let his gaze slide down the deeply tanned bare chest in front of him. Gay men, in his admittedly limited experience, tended to wax their chests. Trying to match the guys on billboards and magazines, he supposed. Handsome here had a sparse triangle of dark hair from below his collarbone across pecs with more definition than he’d initially thought. Gravity pulled a trickle of sweat down the narrow bit of hair in the center of his torso, one that disappeared… Robbie forced himself to not stare as if the guy was the first steak dinner he’d seen after months of bread and water.

Tall, Dark, and Handsome was glaring at the cables he’d uncovered that led to his motor. “It pulls to the left.”

pulled his shades down, hiding his eyes. “You know much about boats? You’d think I’d learn, owning one, but goddammit, I had it in for a thorough check in St. Albans before I put it in the water.”

“I know a little more about outboards than inboards,” Robbie said truthfully, “but I’d be happy to take a look.”

TDH waved vaguely toward the open panel. “Sure. Please.”

Robbie’s heart tripped a little at getting so close to his new fantasy man, and he nearly lost his balance getting into the boat—to his embarrassment. TDH’s steadying hand was hot and dry, and Robbie nearly jumped as his cock twitched.

“Fuck,” he said, before he could stop himself. His voice was hoarse, but he hoped TDH would think he was cursing his clumsiness and not his riotous imagination.

The smile on his face seemed sly and suggestive to Robbie, but he figured that was wishful thinking on his part. He smiled back and took a swig of his beer. Down, boy, he told his overeager cock. He set his bottle in a holder and turned around, kneeling to examine the innards exposed.

“Huh. Interesting,” he said, having no idea what he was looking for.

“Isn’t it, though.”

His voice was like a caress. You’re imagining things, Robert Eliot Wales. He leaned back to sit on his ass and reached up for his beer. He froze momentarily as TDH sat on one of the pedestal seats. He could almost—but not quite—see up the leg of his shorts. Stop looking.

He forced himself to raise his gaze all the way to the other man’s face. “Tell me exactly what it’s doing?”

“When I put it under full throttle, it pulls to the left. I don’t notice it on the creek, but out on the lake this morning, it pulled so hard it almost yanked the wheel out of my hands.” He ran a hand through his hair again.

Robbie knew he was staring, but he hoped it wasn’t too obvious behind his shades.

“First time I’ve been scared on the water.”

“Sounds like your trim is out of whack. Maybe you bumped something in the creek?”

“Maybe,” he said. “It seems rather shallow this year. So I have to take it out of the water?”

“Yeah, I think so. When my dad gets here, he’ll take a look. He knows a lot more…” Geez, he sounded like a teenager. “Robbie Wales,” he said, thrusting out a hand, more dirty now than it had been twenty minutes ago.

“Raj Williams,” he said, grabbing his hand and pulling him to his feet.

Raj. That explained the great tan. Even if he still had tan lines, his bare ass was probably a gorgeous honey gold…. He shook his head. “That’s my dad’s trailer.” Robbie jerked his head. “The Golden Falcon there.”

TDH—Raj—laughed. “Tell me that’s not your dad’s name.”

“What?”

“Wayne and Wanda Wales of Woodstock.” He snickered. “Say it ain’t so.”

Robbie chuckled at the awful alliteration. “It ain’t so,” he reassured him. “Wales is my mother’s name. Dad’s is Richardson. And Wanda kept her own name, Nichols. I take it you’ve met.”

“Neighbours. Your dad is very…sociable.”

“They say in Woodstock, if you don’t know Wayne Richardson, it’s not Wayne Richardson’s fault.”

“I can believe that.”

Neighbours. So… “Which trailer’s yours?”

“This one,” he said with a pleased nod toward the Prowler. “My company started a work-from-home initiative, and I talked them into paying for my Internet to work from here, instead.”

Ah. Straight and married then. Robbie nodded, trying not to show his disappointment. “Where is home when it’s not Port Stephen?”

“Toronto.”

Robbie felt his eyes widen. “My god, you must feel like you’re in redneck country.”

Raj laughed again, a warm, rich sound that Robbie liked very much. “Kind of,” he said. “Let’s go sit in the shade. My deck’s a little iffy; carpentry isn’t my forte. Along with boat mechanics,” he added ruefully. “I can refresh your beer.”

Eh, he could still fantasize, as long as he didn’t have to watch TDH kissing his no-doubt-pretty wife. “Sure. Thanks.”

The deck, which looked like freight pallets bound together, had an outdoor rug on it and two director-style chairs. Solar LED lights were strung across the canopy. The flowers in each corner were bright primary colours, so intense they almost seemed fake. Nestled against the trailer was an electric cooler. Robbie watched those shorts get a little shorter and tighter as Raj leaned over to grab two cold bottles. To his horror, a whimper came out of his throat before he could stop it.

He cleared his throat and spun to examine one of the flowerpots. “Nice flowers.”

“Thanks. My apartment is tiny without much in the way of a balcony. But I’ve always admired those perfectly landscaped little houses on the magazine covers. Clearly, I’m not a landscaper or a designer either, but it makes me happy—those ridiculously bright flowers.”

“Oh. So you’re not married?”

Raj smiled at him, an expression that seemed full of hidden meaning. “Haven’t met the right person yet. And you? Will you be bringing someone special down to share romantic evenings on the beach?”

Robbie blushed. “No.” He’d never put Port Stephen and romantic together in his head. “So, why here?”

“The fishing. And I can have this place for five months for the same price a month’s rent would cost me in Toronto.”

Robbie opened his mouth to ask another question but frowned. “You’re not paying rent in Toronto? Are you moving here, like, permanently?”

“Hell, no. Can you imagine going all the way to Bayham just for groceries every week in the winter? Do they even have a bar that doesn’t serve a Sunday brunch?” Raj laughed.

Robbie hadn’t realized before now sound could be a thing one wanted to roll in—or lick up.

“Don’t think so,” he managed to say.

“I sublet my apartment for the season, so until October first, it’s not actually mine. I still have a place to live at the end of the season but don’t have to pay the rent. I love it here”—he gestured toward his boat, or perhaps just the water in general—“but it would be nice to meet some people under forty and over twenty.”

Robbie opened his mouth to invite Raj along with him to St. Albans some night. “You met me.” He hadn’t meant to say that, but for some reason the idea of Raj meeting someone other than him made his stomach twist.

Raj smiled. “True…”

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Sydney Blackburn is a binary star system. Always a voracious reader, she began to write when she couldn’t find the stories she wanted to read. She likes candlelit dinners and long walks on the beach… Oh wait, wrong profile. She’s a snarky introvert and admits to having a past full of casual sex and dubious hookups, which she uses for her stories.

She likes word play and puns and science-y things. And green curry.

Her dislikes include talking on the phone, people trying to talk to her before she’s had coffee, and filling out the “about me” fields in social media.

Besides writing, she also designs book covers for poor people.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Tour Schedule

5/22 – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

5/22 – The Novel Approach

5/23 – Erotica For All

5/23 – Out Of My Head

5/24 – Happily Ever Chapter

5/24 – A Book Lover’s Dream Book Blog

5/25 – Stories That Make You Smile

5/25 – Sharing Links and Wisdom

5/25 – Bayou Book Junkie

5/26 – Boy Meets Boy Reviews

5/26 – Divine Magazine

5/26 – Love Bytes Reviews

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David Pratt on Wallaçonia, his latest novel and the Inspiration Behind it(Author Guest Blog)

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Wallaçonia by David Pratt

Title: WALLAÇONIA  (woll-uh-SO-nee-uh)

Publisher: Beautiful Dreamer Press, 309 Cross Street, Nevada City, CA  95959
Distributor: Ingram
Release Date: April, 2017

Available for Purchase at

Beautiful Dreamer Press

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have David Pratt back again to talk about his latest novel, Wallaçonia, and the inspiration behind it.  Welcome, David.

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“Who Is Michael?” by David Pratt

I dedicated Wallaçonia “to Michael, with my greatest appreciation.” I’d like to tell you about Michael.

One of the curious features of Wallaçonia is that it’s eighteen-year-old hero feels bullied and excluded, he actually turns out to have done some bullying of his own. Early in the book, he confesses to picking on a smaller, weaker, odder kid when they were both in middle school. He wishes he could see that kid again and make it right. For a long time I had that wish myself. I don’t remember when I decided to include this part of my young life in Wallaçonia. I just felt I had to. I had to confess, as it were. When I was a confused, put-upon middle schooler, I picked on Michael. In the book I call him Nate.

I have tried to find Michael online. Unfortunately his name is quite common. He wanted to be a rabbi, but even when I add “rabbi,” there are still lots of men with his name. One in particular is kind of a local hero in Oregon. Like Jim in Wallaçonia, I was irritated by chubby, effeminate, chatty Michael’s attempts to engage me over and over, to associate me with his weakness. I was also probably irritated that I responded. The cool kids, the masculine boys simply ignored him. As though he didn’t exist. I was drawn to him. And repulsed by him. The association with him was a sign of my fate, and I hated that and found opportunities to insult him or push him away.

I was never, ever violent with Michael, but, egged on by me, a classmate once took aggression against Michael too far. I stood there shocked as this boy gripped Michael around the neck and pushed his head back against a wall. I watched Michael’s face go red, his face in shock. This had not been my intention. I had tried to feel big and masculine by picking on Michael, but an even bigger, more real, more dangerous masculinity now asserted itself. Something we both feared. Something I had never meant to happen.

Of course, years more of being the weak one and the outsider, and I finally came to appreciate what Michael endured at my hands and the hands of us all. Michael could not disguise his effeminacy or his nerdiness. At the same time, he could not escape the clutches of an overbearing mother (in our one encounter she threatened to call the cops on me) and a father, himself a rabbi, who clearly had single-minded expectations. I wonder how the expectations and the effeminacy eventually sorted out. Did he become a rabbi, while everyone turned a blind eye? Or did he rebel? Move away? Keep secrets?

In Wallaçonia we eventually find out how “Nate” grows up. The necessities of fiction made me give Nate a future Michael very likely could not have. So while I appreciate what Michael went through, I really did not give him his due. (I am not saying just what I gave grown-up Nate that Michael could not have, because it would involve spoilers aplenty!) I still would like to apologize to Michael, if he could hear what I have to say. If there would not be a communication gap because I would be talking “gay,” and he would by now be far beyond closeted, going through the motions for a lifetime, to the point that he would actually be the motions. That would be a new level of Michael to appreciate. A communication we can never have. A person he can never be, never conceive. A book that I might like to write, but that perhaps can never be written.

“Sharp, focused, super-intense, and special. It’s rare to find a novel with such a beautifully rendered friendship between a young gay man and an older mentor. I’ll remember the relationship between Jim and Pat for a long, long time.”

—Bill Konigsberg, author of Openly Straight and The Porcupine of Truth

 

About Wallaçonia

“My name is James Howard Wallace, and I always wanted to be normal.” Every young man should have a mentor. Jim Wallace is about to prove for good and all how “normal” he is when he finds himself getting close to Pat Baxter, his neighbor next door. Pat befriends Jim, reveals to him his own heartbreaking story, and in the end helps him know who he really is and where he wants to go with his life. Along the way, Jim must decide what to tell his parents and his girlfriend, Liz, and he must confront an old acquaintance who unexpectedly comes back into his life.

Price: $13.95 – see sales links above
Trim Size: 5.5” x 8.5”, 270 pages
ISBN: 978-0-9981262-0-3
Audience: LGBT, Young Adult, Family Life

Trailer on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/211172226

About the Author

DAVID PRATT

is the author of three published novels: Bob the Book (Chelsea Station Editions), which won a 2011 Lambda Literary Award; Looking After Joey, soon to be re-released by Lethe Press; and Wallaçonia, a young adult novel released March 25, 2017 by Beautiful Dreamer Press. Several of his short stories are collected in the volume My Movie (Chelsea Station); three of these stories are being adapted as a film by San Francisco-based director Joseph Graham.

David Pratt won a 2011 Lambda Literary Award for his novel Bob the Book. He published a collection of stories, My Movie, in 2012, and another novel, Looking After Joey, in 2014. Praise for David Pratt’s Work:

For Bob the Book: “Sure to make you laugh…highly recommended.”—After Elton; “A rare and extraordinary accomplishment.”—Lambda Literary

For My Movie: “Character-driven narratives that cannily encapsulate small personal revelations and lead to gratifying endings.”—Lambda Literary; “An important voice in LGBT literature.”—Examiner.com

For Looking After Joey: “The laughs never stop coming; neither do the deep truths this tender book reveals on every page.”—Joel Derfner, author of Swish

Marketing:

National print and media campaign.
National tour: NYC, Boston, Philadelphia, Ann Arbor, Milwaukee, New Orleans, SF Bay Area
Free advance reading copies.
Blog tour.
Advertising in IBPA, Lambda Literary.
Social media: Facebook, dedicated web page at BeautifulDreamerPress.com.
For more information or to book a reading, contact Michele Karlsberg Marketing and Management at michelekarlsberg@me.com.

A Julia Review: Thaw (Seasons of Love #2) by Elyse Springer

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Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Abigail is content with her quiet life as a librarian. But when she’s invited to a high-profile charity auction, she finds herself dancing with one of the most beautiful women she’s ever met. Abby’s sure she’ll never see her again, but then Gabrielle calls and asks her on a date. And soon after, another.

Supermodel Gabrielle Levesque has a reputation as the Ice Queen—cold and untouchable—except she warms up whenever she’s with Abby. Only Abby isn’t interested in the heat between them; she’s asexual, and she’s worried that admitting as much to Gabrielle might spell the end of their blooming romance.

They’re two different women from two very different worlds, but Abby knows she can love Gabrielle. Her passion for books, travel, and theater prove there’s more to the Ice Queen than meets the eye.  But they’ll have to overcome Abby’s fears—and Gabrielle’s own threatening secrets—in order to find their way to love.

Despite Thaw by Elyse Springer being the second volume in the “Seasons of Love” series, it is still a complete standalone novel. Characters from the first volume “Whiteout” appear or are mentioned but it is not at all necessary to have read it to understand this entry. Although after getting to read this one, I am very tempted to pick up more from this series. The other two volumes are scheduled for release later this year with each one getting published in the respective season they represent.

The first thing that grabbed my attention was the main protagonist, Abigail, and how endearing and relatable I found her to be. The story is told in third-person from her point of view and I could not help but smile at the way she interacted with the world and people around her. Despite being rather introverted sometimes, she watches the people around her with care and interest as she strives to uncover the unique story behind each person. I could immediately relate to her love for books and stories and it made my heart warm to read how she slowly came out of her shell of insecurity (which she hid herself in partly out of worry that people would react badly to her sexual orientations) also thanks to the support of her friends.

Gabrielle was also a very captivating character right from the beginning. Just like Abigail you wish to know what secret or truth lies behind the rumours of the cruel “Ice Queen” who seems perfectly amiable for the most part. I very much enjoyed the fact that I found myself rooting for their relationship for the sake of both women: I wanted Abigail to find the kind of connection with another person she was hoping for and I was convinced that Abigail would be a positive influence and just what Gabrielle needed to turn her current way of life (with which seemed rather unfulfilling to her) around.

The narrative was well-paced and there was never a moment that felt superfluous. The environment was also described in just the right amount of detail to get a feeling for the atmosphere without becoming tedious. A minor point of critique was that a couple of times the characters reacted a bit too “oblivious” to situations that seemed quite predictable to me (like Abigail being surprised when she learned that she got photographed on her date with a famous model).

Nevertheless, I found myself being genuinely drawn in the by the characters and the development of their relationship. I will certainly be looking forward to reading more from this author.

The cover design by Natasha Snow is quite lovely and very fitting for the story from the open book to the contrasting types of landscape. What I also appreciated were the painted spring flowers decorating the chapter headings within the book itself, a very nice touch.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 222 pages

Published April 24, 2017

by Riptide Publishing

ISBN: 978-1-62649-513-5

Edition Language: English

In the Spotlight: Thaw (Seasons of Love #2) by Elyse Springer (guest post and giveaway)

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Thaw (Seasons of Love #2) by Elyse Springer
R
iptide Publishing
Cover by: Natasha Snow

Read an Excerpt/Buy It at Riptide Publishing

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Elyse Springer today. Welcome, Elyse!

✒︎

 

Hello and welcome to the blog tour for Thaw! This F/F romance is the second in my “Seasons of Love” quartet, but stands alone– though readers of Whiteout may recognize some familiar faces. Thaw features an asexual librarian from Brooklyn, who meets an ice-cold super model from Canada, and I hope you’ll read on to learn more about Abby and Gabrielle’s romance.

Of course, don’t forget to drop a comment on this post… one lucky winner will get a $10 Amazon gift card!

Identities and Labels

The main character of Thaw, Abby, identifies as a biromantic sex-neutral asexual woman.

So what does that actually mean?

Let’s start with a ten second lesson on sexual vs. romantic attraction: who you want to buy roses for and who you wanna bang aren’t always the same. Love and sex may go hand-in-hand for many people, but your sexual attraction and romantic attraction may not always line up.

Let’s start with the easy one:

Asexual: Abby doesn’t experience sexual attraction. (Some asexual people do, of course! Gray Aces may experience sexual attraction; demisexuals can experience sexual attraction after establishing a close friend/romantic bond… wait, did I say this was the easy one?)

Biromantic: For Abby, this means she is romantically attracted to people of any gender.

Sex-Neutral: Some asexuals are sex-positive (meaning they often don’t mind, and maybe even enjoy, having sex) while others are sex-repulsed. Abby doesn’t have particularly strong feelings on sex either way.

Why do these labels matter?

Abby is not the defining example of asexuality! She is only one facet of a complex orientation, and her experiences in Thaw do not (and should not!) be held as the standard by which to define “asexuality”. But by understanding the labels she uses for herself, hopefully people will better understand the asexual spectrum and how beautifully diverse it is!

(Curious to know more? Cass Lennox has a great post about this: http://adanramie.com/fiction-and-the-asexual-character-by-cass-lennox-part-1/ )

About Thaw

Abigail is content with her quiet life as a librarian. But when she’s invited to a high-profile charity auction, she finds herself dancing with one of the most beautiful women she’s ever met. Abby’s sure she’ll never see her again, but then Gabrielle calls and asks her on a date. And soon after, another.

Supermodel Gabrielle Levesque has a reputation as the Ice Queen—cold and untouchable—except she warms up whenever she’s with Abby. Only Abby isn’t interested in the heat between them; she’s asexual, and she’s worried that admitting as much to Gabrielle might spell the end of their blooming romance.

They’re two different women from two very different worlds, but Abby knows she can love Gabrielle. Her passion for books, travel, and theater prove there’s more to the Ice Queen than meets the eye.  But they’ll have to overcome Abby’s fears—and Gabrielle’s own threatening secrets—in order to find their way to love.

Available now at Riptide Publishing. http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/thaw

About the Season of Love Universe

New York is the city that never sleeps: where everything can change in the blink of an eye, and where anything is possible—especially romance. In the bitter cold of winter or the impossible humidity of mid-summer, your own happily ever after might be right around the corner.

The people of New York come from all walks of life, and the relationships are just as diverse. So whether you’re a waiter or an aspiring actor, a banker or a model, falling in love can happen quicker than the seasons change.

Check out Seasons of Love! http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/universe/seasons-love

About Elyse Springer

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 LGBTQ+ characters and relationships, and believes that every person deserves a Happily Ever After. When she’s not staring futilely at her computer screen, El spends her time adding stamps to her passport, catching up on her terrifying TBR list, and learning to be a better adult.

She’s always happy to chat with other readers, and you can find her online at:

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Thaw, one lucky winner will receive a $10 Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on April 29, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

 

This title is part of the Seasons of Love: The Complete Collection collection. Check out the collection discount!

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Falling for Him by CL Mustafic

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Title:  Falling for Him

Author: CL Mustafic

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: April 17

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male, Male/Female/Male (No Male/Male interaction)

Length: 116000

Genre: Romance, attempted murder, coming out, divorce, hate crime, law enforcement, medical profession, MFM, OFY

Add to Goodreads

✒︎

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host  CL Mustafic here today, and we had a couple of questions for the author!

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Three Questions for CL Mustafic, author of Falling for Him

If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?

I think I’d like the power to teleport. I love to travel and it would be great to just pop over instead of having to drive or fly.

If you could trade places with one of your characters, who would it be and why?

I think right now it would have to be Gavin, because Lex is super sweet. He’s kind and loyal and just the sort of man who you know would always have your back. Plus, he’s got that uniform and handcuffs.

If you could sequester yourself for a week somewhere and just focus on your writing, where would you go and what would the environment be like?

Oh man, I would go to a small cabin by water. I don’t care if it’s the sea or a lake but water it is. I don’t know why, but water is so soothing and with the hectic life I live, I think it would be a great way to relax and just let the words flow.

Synopsis

Doctor Gavin Addison’s marriage didn’t end on the friendliest of terms, and his estranged wife’s continual harassment has the local police visiting his home so often they’ve started calling him “the doc.” One of those cops, Officer Lex Turner, has a crush on the handsome doc, even though he knows there’s no chance the doc would ever consider dating a man.

A chance encounter on a crowded dance floor ends with both men in the same bed with the same woman—but with questionable results. When the doc wants to try that again, Lex becomes more involved than he’d dreamed possible as he helps his new friend navigate the kinkier side of sex. Knowing it’s just sex for Gavin, Lex finds it hard to keep his feelings hidden. But when Gavin finally figures out he has feelings for Lex that go beyond what a guy should feel for his buddy, will he let Lex convince him to take a chance with him—even if it turns both their lives upside down?

Excerpt

Falling for Him
CL Mustafic © 2017
All Rights Reserved

“How much paperwork we got tonight?” Grady asked. He turned on his computer and started digging through his desk drawer, looking for god knows what.

“Not too much. Gotta finish up that report on the doc’s vandalism, and you need to write up that accident report. Then we can get back out there for another fun-filled night,” Lex said, making Grady wrinkle his nose.

“That damn woman makes for a lot of fucking paperwork. I’ve got half a mind to handcuff her to her water heater and forget her,” Grady said with a smirk for his own cocky bravado. “Don’t know how a nice guy like the doc got mixed up with a crazy bitch like that.”

Lex sat back in his chair. That was the question, wasn’t it? The doc seemed like a decent enough guy. Why his ex, one Cassandra Addison, would want to make the poor guy’s life hell was beyond Lex. It was even more fucked up when you added in the fact that, from what Lex had gathered, she’d cheated on him. He just hoped they wouldn’t end up with a Fatal Attraction–type ending with this case.

“Yeah, well, sometimes they hide the crazy until they have you in their clutches; then, bam presto chango, psycho chick is in your bed, and you’re fucked in more ways than one,” Lex said.

“Sounds like you got some experience in that area.”

“Don’t we all?”

Grady’s gaze shifted to something over Lex’s shoulder. “Speak of the devil,” Grady whispered.

Lex turned around, hoping that Cassandra Addison was not, in fact, standing behind him. Nope, not the bitch, but Gavin was, and he didn’t look thrilled to be in Lex’s humble workplace. Lex cast an appreciative look over the handsome doctor. He was one fine-looking man, with blond hair that curled wispily around his head and those deep-brown eyes, where you expected to see crystal blue, got Lex every time. Gavin had the greatest smile, and the dimples that peeked out at the slightest grin made Lex want to dip his tongue in them. He shook his head to clear away the thoughts of what he would like to do to the doc, if the doc was so inclined, that was.

“You got him, Grady. You know you’re better with this kind of crap.” He didn’t tell Grady that he got tongue-tied around Gavin and was afraid he’d make a fool of himself.

Grady stood up, smiled, and gestured for Gavin to take a seat by his desk. “Hey there, Doc, what’s up today?” he asked as if Gavin’s was a social visit.

Color rose on Gavin’s cheeks as he flushed a little before answering. Lex was glad he was sitting at his desk because the doc blushing like that did things to his body that weren’t acceptable in polite company. “There’s been another incident. I can’t be one hundred percent sure she did this, but I can’t think of anyone else who would want to humiliate me so much.”

“So what did she do this time?” Grady asked, “Or allegedly do?”

Gavin handed Grady a little slip of paper. “If you punch that into your web browser, you can see for yourself.” Grady took the paper and turned to his computer to type in the web address. He waited a second, and when Grady’s brow furrowed at what he saw on the screen, Gavin’s blush deepened. Lex itched to see what was on that screen but stayed in his seat.

“Why do you want me to look at your personal ad?” Grady asked.

“Because I didn’t post it, and that little sticky note was stuck to a computer at the nurse’s station on the fourth floor surgical unit where I happen to do rounds every morning. Everyone at the hospital now thinks I’m some kind of kinky pervert,” Gavin explained, visibly upset.

Lex had to see what was on Grady’s screen. He got up to look at his partner’s computer. He instantly understood why the doc had turned pink when he handed over the little piece of paper. Lex shook his head; that woman was pure evil.

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

CL Mustafic is a born and bred American mid-westerner who mysteriously ended up living in one of those countries nobody can ever find on the map of Europe. Left with too much time on her hands—let’s be honest here: it was the lack of television channels in her native language–and too many voices in her head trying to fill the silence, she decided to give her life-long dream of writing a novel a shot. So now, between shuttling kids back and forth from various activities and risking her life on the insanely narrow, busy streets of her new hometown, she loses herself in her own made-up world where love always wins.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Email

Tour Schedule

4/17 – Stories That Make You Smile

4/17 – MM Book Escape

4/18 – Molly Lolly; Reader, Reviewer, Lover of Words

4/18 – Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents

4/19 – Oh My Shelves

4/19 – MM Good Book Reviews

4/20 – Slashsessed

4/20 – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

4/21 – Happily Ever Chapter

4/21 – Love Bytes

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Marek Moran on Writing, Research and his first novel ‘The Sparky’ by Marek Moran (guest blog and excerpt)

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The Sparky by Marek Moran
D
reamspinner Press

Cover Artist: Catt Ford

Some Questions

Hello, Reader!  I’m here because my first novel, The Sparky, has just come out, and the kind people at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words have let me give you a bit of idea about what it’s like via some questions they’ve posed.

How much of yourself goes into a character?

As this is my first novel, it’s only one data point so far.  But, as I imagine is pretty typical for first novels, the answer would be “quite a bit”.  There were a couple of times in the editing process where the editor would say “Would your characters really do X?”, and my answer was that that was something that had actually happened in my own life.

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?

I’ve always thought that something that makes for a full Mary Sue or Gary Stu is that (in Wikipedia’s words) they’re “an idealized and seemingly perfect fictional character” in addition to being an author surrogate.  The experiences of my own that I use to create a character certainly aren’t only the positive, glowing ones!  Among other things, I think my essential nerdiness comes through pretty strongly.  (You’ll see this in the excerpt.)

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

Probably research—in my day job I am an academic, after all.  I can spend days going down the rabbit hole of links and citations and references.  But as a kid I read a lot of fantasy and science fiction, and I enjoyed making up worlds and cultures in tandem with that.  Tolkien really got me imagining worlds at a fine level of detail.  But the world-creating authors I especially like do an awful lot of research to make their worlds plausible—right now I’m rereading Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness, and there’s a lot of anthropology research that went into that—so I think maybe research and making up worlds aren’t totally separate.

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

Not really.  Or maybe the answer is, Not yet.  As I mentioned, I mostly used to read fantasy and sci-fi (and still read it now, although my book diet is more balanced), but I also used to read some romance—I’d borrow the latest Mills and Boon from one of my (female) friends, although I wouldn’t tell my other friends about it, it not being the conventional teenage boy thing.  So I’m not sure why I ended up writing contemporary romance, except that it’s obviously more natural to write out of real life experience, and I’ve had more relationships with guys than with elves or aliens.  And in a sense the story had a life of its own and just wanted to be born that way.  (Cue Lady Gaga soundtrack.)

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

I do, although I also read a lot of history, some fantasy and sci-fi, some mystery / thrillers, and what the other members of my bookclub refer to as Serious Literature.  In romance, it’s a pretty mixed bag of authors I read.  I like old work like Jane Austen, George Eliot, E. M. Forster and Georgette Heyer, but also some newer romance, both straight and gay.

What’s next for you as an author?

I am writing another novel, although it’s still in the early stages: I’ve just hit 10K words.  It’s also contemporary romance, but otherwise quite different from The Sparky.  There’s a bit of a thriller element to it, and a bit of politics as well—that’s how it is in my head and in my notes file at the moment, anyway.  Who knows how it will turn out …

Blurb

Aaron’s been living in what his friend Howie calls a sexual desert. But an oasis appears on the horizon when Paul, a divorced electrician with a five-year-old daughter named Sam, moves in next door. He’s a country boy from northern Australia, and although he’s never been with a guy before, he has an impression that anything goes in the city. They find that the ordinary things in life—books, footie in the park, looking after Sam—lead them into an unlikely relationship.

But as their relationship slowly deepens, with Aaron spending time on Paul’s family’s cattle station, it becomes clear that Paul might have a harder time leaving the country behind. To him, happiness means a conventional life—including a mother for Sam. Being with his old friends convinces him he’s on the wrong path with Aaron, and he starts a relationship with a girl from his hometown. If he cannot find the courage to go after what he truly needs, he and Aaron will become nothing more than awkward neighbours. 

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Excerpt

[BACKGROUND: Noone knows Aaron and Paul are going out.  At this point in the novel, Aaron’s visiting his sister Deelie just before Christmas, playing paintball with her and her friends.  It’s one of those occasions when he’d really like to talk about Paul, but can’t.]

After that we go through the training and the warnings about face masks, goggles, neck and throat protection, dangerous shots, dangerous behaviour. Even as I’m walking out onto the ground, I’m not sure how I’ll bring myself to shoot teenage girls. Then I think about Mean Girls—that’ll help me see them as vicious threats. I manage to shoot one crouching in a wooden fort, and then another inexpertly hidden behind a tree, but then I’m hit. Deelie survives until the end.

As I drive us home in a rental car, I look over at her. She has a bruise forming on her right arm. I don’t know what from. “Heh, warrior princess.”

“You don’t still watch that, do you?”

“Maybe. There’s a kid next door up in Sydney and I’ve watched some episodes with her.”

I can’t talk about Paul with anyone, although sometimes it wants to bubble up out of me; this is the next best thing. Just touching on it, skirting the edges of it without actually giving anything away.

“Oh my God.”

“She’s pretty fierce, this kid.”

Last week on a visit through the back gate, Sam told me what she’d been up to at vacation care. As well as doing craft and going on an excursion to the park, she updated me on her playground relationships.

“Finn’s my frenemy,” she told me.

I wasn’t even aware that five-year-olds knew the word “frenemy.”

“Do you know what a frenemy is?”

“Someone who’s kind of a friend and kind of an enemy.”

So apparently they do know.

“Why are you frenemies?” I asked.

“We were playing Xena, and he was a baddie, and when I kicked him by accident, he hit me back on purpose.”

“Did you say sorry?”

“It was an accident.”

“You should still say sorry, though. Xena would if it was an accident.” That’s probably not in the canon, but I’m happy to make this up.

“Okay.”

I tell Deelie a bit more about Sam as I’m driving.

About the Author

Marek Moran is, in his day job, a computer science professor.  If you want to know about shortest path graph algorithms, he’s your man.  However, that’s probably not why you’re reading this.  He currently lives in Sydney, Australia, and has previously lived in France, Germany and the US, enjoying travelling around and listening to people talk: he’s learnt to respond to enquiries after his wellbeing with a ça va merci, sehr gut danke or copacetic, thanks.

The only member of his book club to like George Eliot’s Mill on the Floss, he’s discovered that he enjoys writing romance as well as reading it; the other members of his book club don’t yet know this.  He plays piano, squash, and his cards close to his chest.  The Sparky is his first novel.

Author Links

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Join Us for the Release Day Blitz for Justin’s Season by S. M. Sawyer (excerpt)

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Title:  Justin’s Season

Author: S. M. Sawyer

Publisher: Ninestar Press

Release Date: August 6, 2016 (print), February 29, 2016 (e-book)

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 101,300 words

Genre: New Adult, historical fiction, redemption, destiny, acceptance, sports, coming out, interconnected, small town, flashback, AIDS

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Synopsis

The year is 1988, and Justin Davis, a former nationally recruited football prep star, awakens from twelve years of masking his shame with drugs and alcohol to find he has been returned to his former self through what can only be described as a miracle.
Triggered by the confirmation of his closely guarded sexual orientation, his fall from grace of over a decade before sets the stage for his redemption. The fulfillment of his destiny is prompted by Providence and the serendipitous deeds of those who are a part of his new life, as their intertwined lives are likewise impacted. Though his rapid evolvement and acceptance of his homosexuality is countered by setbacks, Justin perseveres and eventually triumphs as fate, he believes, has led him back to the sports arena to recapture past glories.
In a stunning finale, however, he learns his destiny is not what he had envisioned. His calling has been thrust upon him by circumstances beyond his control. Can Justin embrace it and become the man he was always meant to be?

Excerpt

A sliver of light from the early morning sun came through an exposed slit of the basement window blind, creeping its way against the wall until it came to rest upon Justin’s eyes. He lay sleeping in a jumbled mass of musty blankets on an old steel-framed bed. After a few moments of the sun’s focused rays beckoning him to awaken, he flinched and turned his head away, and then rolled onto his left side toward a dark corner in a vain attempt to deny the day’s arrival.

For Justin, it had been another long night, and the reminder of a new day came with a reluctant anticipation akin to that of a prisoner serving a life sentence without a chance for parole. He lay there motionless, holding the sheets close to his chin as he gazed upon an iconic black-and-white poster of James Dean. The actor walked down a puddled street with a cigarette between his lips, hands in his coat pockets, and his collar turned up to keep the cold and drizzle at bay. Marching down the Boulevard of Broken Dreams and into immortality.

Though it had been hanging on the wall for fifteen years, Justin, enjoying a rare and lucid moment of circumspection, studied the poster in silence as if he were looking at it for the first time. You did it right, Mr. Dean, he thought. You died early…frozen in time. Leaving everyone wanting more. Never having to answer for life’s failings.

The unwelcome light from the sun continued to fill the room, exposing the remnants of Justin’s life before the troubles. Dusty citations, press clippings, photographs, scholarship offer letters, and trophies from his high school years. Collected over a decade before, they now served as the remaining threads that connected to past glories.

This is what happens, isn’t it? You peak early and get a little cocky that you’re in control, and instead of leaving on top, you live long enough to mutate into some bad apple that people use to warn their kids. “Don’t get too full of yourself or you’ll turn out like Justin Davis.” That’s right…I’m not remembered for what I was and what I should have been. It’s easier for voyeurs to whisper among themselves about the broken, washed-up, slow-motion train wreck I’ve become—how I let my charmed life slip away.

Justin sat up and swung his legs over as if getting out of bed, but stayed sitting there to give his head time to clear from another all-night bender and to gain a semblance of balance before stepping onto the cold cement floor. His still imposing six-foot-four-inch body, an inch taller than in his high school days, was out of shape and bloated. It served as a metaphor for everything else his life had become, contrary to the Greek god physique he’d had when he was seemingly in total charge of his life and circumstances.

His blond hair was long and greasy, and his face contorted by the miseries of daily self-flagellation through alcohol, drugs, and slovenly habits. His tongue felt thick and dry, and his eyes appeared as if seared on an iron skillet. He did his best to gather whatever strength remained to get up and to live what had become his own recurring Groundhog Day. He wanted water to quench his alcohol-induced thirst and to be bathed by a sympathetic and nonjudgmental geisha, washing away impurities and regret. But again he thought of sleep and of beckoning the dreams to reacquaint him with his previous life. He eased his head onto the pillow with hopes that sleep would allow him to wander back to his senior year in high school—to a time when he was admired by all and treated as the town’s favorite son.

Justin Davis was the class hero and the most likely to succeed. He had excelled at everything—sports, scholastics, popularity—and as the top quarterback recruit in the nation he received offers from scores of college football powerhouses representing the Big Ten and other major conferences. Why then, he continually asked himself, had he let his guard down—putting everything on the line and seeking confirmation from strangers?

Throughout his life he had felt that guardian angels were with him, but they’d abandoned him when he needed them most, so they could steward over someone more deserving…someone who wouldn’t risk all for a taste of what he had been brought up to consider the forbidden fruit. He couldn’t explain it, but life’s confusions made him feel that he no longer fit the role his angels had paved for him. That maybe he’d had a hand in sabotaging it before it went too far; a secret he kept hidden from himself and others with the aid of any mind-numbing substance he could get his hands on.

With his room in the basement of his brother’s home now bathed in full light, Justin drifted back to sleep, and from his sleep he could hear the marching band and cheers from the packed stadium as he led his team, charging onto the field through the gauntlet of cheerleaders. In reliving the moment, he managed a slight smile as his dreams took him back twelve years to the fall of 1976 and the sound of the PA system announcing the starting teams for the state of Ohio’s high school football championship game.

And as the dreams continued and the light of the sun streamed through the basement’s walk-out French door and remaining windows, Justin subconsciously felt a strange and unique sensation upon his dormant soul. The feeling of his angels returning to envelop his body like fresh snow on a blemished landscape—lovingly transforming his unkempt and damaged being. They had come to caress and heal his body and spirit, and renew his faith to trust what lay ahead.

Purchase

Ninestar Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes

Meet the Author

S. M. Sawyer is a retired military officer. He has also served as a defense contractor and as President for a nationally accredited charity whose mission is to recognize exceptional maritime rescues and assist voluntary search and rescue organizations worldwide. He lives in Virginia with his wife, Natalie. They have five grown children. Justin’s Season is his debut literary effort.

Find S.M. on Facebook or send him an eMail

 

 

 

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