Cy Blanca on Writing, First Books and the release ‘A Teacher and a Poet (States of Love)’ by Cy Blanca

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A Teacher and a Poet (States of Love) by Cy Blanca
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reamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht

Available for Purchase at

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Cy Blanca here today. Welcome, Cy! Please tell us all about yourself and your first story.

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Hi there, everybody. My name’s Cy Blanca, and I’m so honored that Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words allowed me to share a little bit of myself with all their wonderful readers. A Teacher and a Poet is my first attempt at getting something published, and as such I’m a complete noob when it comes to this sort of thing. (This is my first blog tour ever for my first ever published story!) So bear with me… and don’t judge too hard!

To make it easy on everybody I decided I’d answer some questions. Left to my own devices I could go on tangents that lead me from my story to facts I’ve learned about South Korea to recipes for different types of bread. But hopefully I answer well enough that you all get to know me at least a little bit. Of course, if you want to know more about me, you can follow my links down the rabbit hole and see where you end up!

So without any more stalling, here we go!

  • How much of yourself goes into a character?

As far as this story, both of the characters are 100 percent me, not gonna lie. Both Curt and Antony represent different aspects of myself, and those aspects are just augmented. There’s no real secret when it comes to how I framed my characters in this story. When writing A Teacher and a Poet, I sort of couldn’t help but put myself in every aspect of it—from the characters to the setting.

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

No matter the genre, I think research is integral to creating a world and characters that people can believe and become invested in. Even worlds that are wholly imagined have some aspect of research in terms of what things are plausible and how the boundaries can be pushed or even broken. Even when we strive for complete originality or an organic creative experience, there’s always a certain amount of control to the chaos. It’s just how the universe works.

I enjoy research to a point—I’ve always been inquisitive, so just finding out new things is always fun for me. Having a frame to work within serves as a launching point, from which a story and its characters and environments can actually come to life. Even within a certain set of parameters, human experiences are always different and always spontaneous.

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

I think no matter how hard we try, the things we grew up with influence everything we do, the things we think and say. It’s unavoidable. Even when you want to go in a totally different direction, you’re relying on what you’ve learned to decide to completely avoid going down an expected path. For A Teacher and a Poet, particularly, aspects of my childhood are all over this story—after all, the setting is my actual primary school. Kinda couldn’t avoid putting the things I’ve read and experienced in the story. Especially when it comes to what I’ve read growing up; narratives, writing styles, characters have all molded my writing. I fell in love with words at a very early age, so different combinations of them, different ways to make words make music…. It’s all a product of what I’ve read and continue to read.

  • Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it?  You were hurting with the characters or didn’t know how to proceed?

I’ve got like five stories that I’ve had to just put aside. The story I’ve been working on for three years, for instance, was curbed for over six months at one point because I knew the ending before I knew the story leading up to it, and I was really just too afraid to write the ending because of how emotional it was. Honestly… I put it down because of the ending! (Still working on that one, by the way… whoops…!)

  • Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I think in some ways we all like happy endings because no matter how cynical we all are, we all want things to work out. Even if it’s not necessarily “happily ever after,” people like things to be in order at the conclusion of a journey. Even if it’s only happy in the moment—which I tend to favor more because it rings a little truer to me—in that moment the characters have found what they’re looking for. In the end, that’s all we can hope for, isn’t it? To be happy in the here and now? We can plan for happiness in the future, sure. But we don’t live in the future. We’re living in this second, this moment. May as well create some happiness while we’re breathing and being right now, right?

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

I never read them as a teenager because my idea of the romance genre was the grocery store romances my grandmother used to read. They looked boring to me. Then everything changed when I read Amy Lane’s Sidecar. Two words: Mind. Blasted! I had no earthly idea romances could be written that way, that romances were being written that way! It was an eye-opening experience, one that shaped my reading as an adult.

  • Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  Now and growing up?

This is a tough one. Stevie Wonder? I think, yes. He’s the major influence for most things in my life. His understanding of the world, his ability to make words fit around each other…. In A Teacher and a Poet it’s obvious, at least to me, how much music plays a role in how I write. I have to be listening to music to be able to do most things. So, yes, Stevie Wonder is probably my biggest influence as a writer… as a creative mind, if I’m being honest.

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

I think eBook is definitely here to stay. As much as it pains me to think this, physical books are slowly becoming a relic, a novelty for those who’ve always loved the feel of words in their hands. In terms of my feelings on eBook format, I’m totally all for it. At first, as with most who grew up reading books, I was a little resistant. But why? I think any vehicle that allows you to carry as many books and stories as you possibly can is a good thing. The only limit to the amount of books you can have on your person at one time is how much digital space you have… and considering the size of most eBooks (a standard eBook, between 200-350 pages, on a Kindle won’t take up more than 3-5 MB of space; even less on a generic e-reader), the possibilities are endless!

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

Well, as this is my first one being published, this one…? HaHa. But honestly, I’ve put so much work and emotion into the one I’ve been writing for the past few years, that one might preemptively be my favorite.

  • What’s next for you as an author?

Hopefully more published things? I’ve got words all over the place, and they’re doing no good just sitting in my head or in Dropbox. I’m never not writing, in one way or another. So hopefully A Teacher and a Poet is the first in several stories I get to share with people.

Thank you again to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words. I’m so stoked that I get to reach out and talk to your readers! (Even more so because y’all were so kind to me and let me turn this in a little late… ::coughcough::)

About A Teacher and a Poet (States of Love)

Shawnee County, Kansas, might not be the most accepting place for a gay couple, but boyfriends Antony James and Curtis Ramírez have made it their home. Both of them work at Pauline Central Primary School, and while Antony is content teaching, Curt would rather pursue his passion: poetry. He plans to resign, but he doesn’t get the chance.

Working together has its risks, and when a student witnesses Antony and Curt sneaking a kiss in the workroom, they’re reprimanded. The school board’s punishment is mild, but some members of the community aren’t willing to let the indiscretion go. That small mistake could cost Antony and Curt their home—or it could remind them that home is in the heart, and as long as they stay strong in their love, they’ll always have a place to belong.

Looking for a New M/M SciFy Novel to Read? Check out F.T. Lukens’ ‘The Star Host’ (author guest blog, excerpt and giveaway)

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The Star Host (Broken Moon #1) by F.T. Lukens
Release Date: March 3, 2016

Goodreads Link
Publisher: Duet Books, the Young Adult imprint of Interlude Press
Cover Artist: C.B. Messer

Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing F.T. Lukens author of The Star Host. Hi F.T., thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.

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Hi, everyone. This is F.T. and I’m very excited to share with you my first novel The Star Host. It is a science-fiction adventure which features a diverse cast and takes place across planet, drifts, and spaceships. It is my version of magic in space.

Give us a to-do list for one of your characters.

This is a great question and I decided to do it with both of my main characters, Ren and Asher, while they are stuck as prisoner’s at the antagonist’s citadel.

Ren’s to-d0 list while he is a prisoner at the citadel:

  • Wake up in the morning in an iron cell and on a moldy mattress
  • Eat stale bread and drink lukewarm water
  • Think about escaping
  • Try not to think about dungeon-mate, Asher. He is annoying, arrogant, and pretty. He’s also a drifter.
  • Work in the courtyard. Don’t draw attention to self. Keep head down. And keep technopathic ability secret and under control. (This is much harder than it seems.)
  • Make friends with the guards
  • Try not to go insane (Also much harder than previously thought.)
  • Plan an escape with other captives
  • Dream about the stars

Asher’s to-do list while he is a prisoner at the citadel:

  • Wake up
  • Stay in cell all day
  • Annoy Ren
  • Push-ups
  • Eat stew
  • Wait for Ren to return
  • Poke at guards
  • Annoy Ren again
  • Make Ren tell stories
  • Repeat

As you can see, the start of their friendship is based on mutual dislike which becomes mutual teasing and then later becomes mutual affection. Ren and Asher start to depend on each other to survive. Asher takes comfort in Ren’s stories and Ren relies on Asher as his anchor when his newly discovered power threatens to overwhelm him. They learn that it’s only by working as a team that they will be able to escape and save their families.

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Blurb

Ren grew up listening to his mother tell stories about the Star Hosts – a mythical group of people possessed by the power of the stars. The stories were the most exciting part of Ren’s life, and he often dreamed about leaving his backwater planet and finding his place among the neighboring drifts. When Ren is captured by soldiers and taken from his home, he must remain inconspicuous while plotting his escape. It’s a challenge since the general of the Baron’s army is convinced Ren is something out of one of his mother’s stories.

He finds companionship in the occupant of the cell next to his, a drifter named Asher. A member of the Phoenix Corps, Asher is mysterious, charming, and exactly the person Ren needs to anchor him as his sudden technopathic ability threatens to consume him. Ren doesn’t mean to become attached, but after a daring escape, a trek across the planet, and an eventful ride on a merchant ship, Asher is the only thing that reminds Ren of home. Together, they must warn the drifts of the Baron’s plans, master Ren’s growing power, and try to save their friends while navigating the growing attraction between them.

 

Pages or Words: 258 pages
Categories: Fiction, Gay fiction, M/M Romance, Science Fiction, Young Adult

Excerpt

Once at the hangar, Ren broke away from the two guards and entered the lancer, walking up the stairs, irritation a heavy feeling in his chest.

“Reporting for work,” Ren said, his tone heavily laced with annoyance.

Janus popped up from a console she had been working under, goggles on her face, gray hair sticking up everywhere. “You!” she snapped. “I told you not to come back.”

Ren rolled his eyes. “It’s not my choice. I don’t want to be here anymore than you want me here.”

“Where are your guards? I told the dumb one not to bring you back, Abiathar’s orders be damned. I don’t want your kind working on these ships.”

She poked a finger hard into Ren’s chest and he staggered back, and rubbed his hand over the spot.

“What the stars do you mean by my kind?”

Her eyes grew comically large behind the goggles. “You don’t know?” She laughed, bordering on hysterical. “You’re more dangerous than I thought. You can’t try to control it if you don’t even know what you are.”

Ren frowned. His tolerance for the cryptic nonsense everyone had spouted since he arrived was gone. He took a step toward the hull and Janus stiffened.

“Don’t,” she barked.

“Don’t what? Touch it? What will happen, huh?”

Her face paled and her chest heaved with panicked breaths. “You don’t know what you’re capable of.”

Ren laughed. “I’m capable of nothing. I’m a duster, planet-born with very limited experience with tech. You have no reason to be frightened of me.”

He moved closer to the hull, hand outstretched, fingers splayed.

She whimpered. “Please, don’t.”

Ren slammed his hand against the hull, his fingertips leaving greasy marks on the shiny surface. As he predicted, nothing happened.

He turned back to Janus. “See? Nothing–”

His word tangled in his throat, cut off, because suddenly, Ren was consumed with power, rushing from his toes to his fingertips. A blue tint clouded his vision, and his body suffused with golden warmth. And then he was floating amongst the wires, connected to the ship, to the energy source, to everything. The lancer pulsed under his skin, tangling in his veins, its systems integrated with his senses.

It was freeing and frightening.

His consciousness raced along the circuits and he could fix it. He could fix everything. He found the tangle of wires in the artificial gravity system and bypassed it. He found the broken circuits in the air recyclers and with a pulse of power, refurbished them. He saw the static in the com system, a physical entity, and he cleared it away with a brush of his metaphysical hand.

The longer Ren floated through the ship, the less connected he was to his physical body. And if he thought about it, he didn’t need his body. Why would he need his body? He was free here. He moved around with ease, the wires and the systems his route, and the more he pushed, the more he felt the other ships too. They were nearby, on the edge of his perception, and he could go to those, he could jump to the other ones and repair them too.

He could.

He could.

 

Buy the book:

Interlude Press Web Store: store.interludepress.com

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords | Apple iBookstore: The Star Host

All Romance eBooks

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Meet and follow the Author

F.T. wrote her first short story when she was in third grade and her love of writing continued from there. After placing in the top five out of ten thousand entries in a writing contest, she knew it was time to dive in and try her hand at writing a novel.

A wife and mother of three, F.T. holds degrees in psychology and English literature, and is a long-time member of her college’s science-fiction club. F.T. has a love of cheesy television shows, superhero movies, and science-fiction novels—especially anything by Douglas Adams.

Connect with F.T. at authorftlukens.wordpress.com on Twitter @ftlukens, on Tumblr at ftlukens.tumblr.com and on Goodreads at goodreads.com/ftlukens.

 


Tour Dates & Stops:

3-Mar: Hearts on Fire, Happily Ever Chapter, Kirsty Loves Books, Velvet Panic

4-Mar: Full Moon Dreaming, Havan Fellows, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words

7-Mar: Jessie G. Books, Divine Magazine, Boys on the Brink Reviews

8-Mar: V’s Reads, Butterfly-O-Meter, Love Bytes

9-Mar: Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, Nephy Hart, KathyMac Reviews

10-Mar: Bonkers About Books, Inked Rainbow Reads, Prism Book Alliance, Attention is Arbitrary

11-Mar: A.M. Leibowitz, The Novel Approach

14-Mar: Man2ManTastic, Anna Butler Fiction

15-Mar: Molly Lolly, Bayou Book Junkie

16-Mar: BFD Book Blog, My Fiction Nook

Final

Giveaway

Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: $25 Interlude Press Web Store gift card (grand prize) + 5 winners of The Star Host eBook.  Must be 18 years of age or older.  Link and prizes provided by the author and Pride Promotions.
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Coffee Sip and Book Break with Elizabeth Wilde of Defiant Loyalties by Elizabeth Wilde (interview,excerpt and giveaway)

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Defiant Loyalties by Elizabeth Wilde
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: November 23, 2015

Purchase Links:  NineStar Press   | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Elizabeth Wilde here today to talk about Defiant Loyalties and tell us a little bit about herself and the writing experience. Welcome, Elizabeth!

Hello! I’m thrilled to be here for my very first ever guest post/novel/you name it. Defiant Loyalties is my debut.
It’s not every day—or any day—you get to reach out to people like this, so whilst I was scrabbling to come up with something interesting to say, a thought struck me. Quite simply, I’m petrified!

I never expected the actual writing of this book to be the easy part.

Defiant Loyalties is the story of Jack Preston, the son of a corrupt politician, as he fights for the things he deserves: love, freedom, peace of mind. He’s thrown headlong into the world of mysterious assassin Alex, often by his own stubborn and curious nature, and together they must navigate the colliding of those worlds, the risks they’re willing to take.

Now I am no Jack Preston, but I feel a little thrown headlong into a new world myself—my own stubborn and curious nature notwithstanding.

Going from a fairly unassuming job to publishing something feels like a huge step. So huge, in fact, that I still can’t buy it, even though it’s happening to me right this minute.

The other day someone told me I seemed surprisingly nonchalant about the whole affair. Apparently, I have an amazing poker face because what I’m actually experiencing is more akin to internal silent terror—with a touch of excitement, which comes and goes depending on the day. It’s a strange combination, like riding up the chain of a rollercoaster, approaching that first hill. Surreal and out of your control, the only way forward is barreling down at eighty miles per hour screaming.

Perhaps that’s a good thing, though. This awestruck fear keeps me appreciating this opportunity, remembering that nothing is ever certain in this world, and that when good things come along, to grab on with both hands and make the absolute most of it.

Book Blurb

All Jack Preston has ever wanted is freedom: from his father’s oppressive political reign, from his mother’s dying memory, from his own guilt in the part he’s played to get George Preston to the top. When an assassination attempt is made on his father’s life, Jack is thrown into a dangerous game of lies and espionage, and as his whole world destabilizes, he finds himself turning to the most unlikely person for help.

Alex—the assassin who started it all; the man whose face haunts Jack’s dreams—becomes his only ally. As they come together to fight a bigger enemy, Jack’s attraction becomes a risk too large to take and too powerful not to. Will falling in love with a dangerous killer play right into his enemy’s hands? Or will Alex risk everything to protect the son of the man he was sent to murder? Loyalties will be tested and sacrifices made, but Jack will learn that some things are truly worth fighting for.

Genre: Gay, Romantic Suspensedefiantloyalties
Pairing: M/M
Length: Novel

Excerpt

He approaches the thoroughfare in a daze, drugged off the powerful sensation of gravity tugging him home, and the shadowy figure he spots halfway down doesn’t concern him for half a minute or so while he happily indulges himself.
Until suddenly it does.
His steps falter but don’t stop, axis of gravity abruptly shifted, and now Jack’s walking toward the figure instead, in the grip of some terrible, warped sense of inevitability with his heart rate kicking up.
His boots against the ground feel like a march, and he finds he’s angry. Fraught with fear, yeah, but angry nonetheless. Worse, it’s a petty anger, a kind of outrage that’s got him thinking how dare you even though he’s almost positive he brought this one on himself.
The figure stands with his stance wide and easy and his hands in the pockets of his leather jacket, casual as anything. He’s wearing All Stars and Jack has to be fucking hallucinating right now, spent too long obsessing over this with no exposure to the outside world to ground him.
The figure tells Jack, “Hey,” thoroughly doing away with that notion.
“Hey?”
The Goddamn assassin raises his eyebrows. “It’s a term of greeting.”
“Yeah, thanks,” Jack snaps. “Gotta say, it’s a massive improvement from your first one.”
The guy shrugs a shoulder, mouth quirking up at one corner, and fuck, Jack had somehow forgotten how striking he was. Under the sodium lampposts, standing against the gray-shaded sugar maples, he’s almost otherworldly—or maybe that’s just Jack’s abused brain whirring, fever-pitched imagination running wild with him like a kid let out for the first time on its own.
“Is this it, then?” Jack goes on, still dripping in sarcasm. “Time to say my prayers?”
“Walk with me?”
Jack does an honest-to-God spit-take, levelling a glare. “Walk with you.”
“You can keep repeating what I say if you like.”
Jack does, thanks. “Walk with you?”
“You haven’t gone running to your armed guard for help,” he points out and then, with a quiet weight, “It’s important.”
I’m sorry about this. Jack hears it over and over, a litany always inhabiting him, and this man had stood in his father’s study with a gun, apologizing for a murder he was a split-second away from committing. Two days ago he’d handed Jack a threatening note, flirting with him while he did it.
Jack shakes his head. He wrenches himself away, one, two steps, turning his back on the face that’s been dogging him for a week now because if he doesn’t—
“Jack.”
If he doesn’t, Jack’s going to do something like fucking walk with him.
Back still turned, Jack states the very obvious. “You know my name.”
“Lotta people know your name. Your real one, anyway.”
He spins at that. “How did you—”
“This is important,” the man repeats gravely, but there’s still an easiness to his stance, a kind of open appeal. He’s drawing Jack in just like the flirting; good at his job, Jack thinks dizzily.
“Tell me your name, first.”
He doesn’t answer right away, sound of nothing but the trees swaying while he looks up at Jack with his head tipped down—really good at his job, then. There’s a definite reluctance there, but beyond that, Jack really can’t guess what he’s thinking; maybe games of chess in his head, working out moves and countermoves, assessing Jack for danger.
“Alex.”
Jack tries it out in his mouth—“Alex”—and finds it suits him whether it’s real or not. “Fine, Alex, let’s walk.”
Alex cocks his head, gesturing to the end of the thoroughfare so Jack supposes they’re heading away from the house and out into the city. A small mercy, at least.
They fall into step, Alex tossing Jack curious little sideways glances but otherwise staying perfectly quiet, until they come out onto the boulevard and under the open night sky, clear except for the spotty clouds moving time-lapse fast in the lower atmosphere.
There, Alex belatedly speaks. “You’ve been drawing attention to yourself.”
“That an art pun?”
Another curious glance and Jack stays looking resolutely forward; he’s really not sure indulging himself or this guy is the right thing to do.
“Maybe. Thanks for the sketch, by the way.”
“Oddly polite for someone who handed me a threat in return.”
“Which you didn’t take seriously.”
“So that is why you’re here, because I googled some asshole judge?”
“Look, Jack—”
Jack immediately bristles. “Why am I drawing attention to myself? What’s so important that you gotta follow me around town and spirit me away into the night like this, after you—after you tried to fucking—”
“I was sent to give you the note,” Alex interrupts, carefully placing every syllable like they’re practiced. “I wasn’t sent tonight.”
Jack turns his head, trying to get some sort of equal footing here. “And what does that mean?”
“I’m trying to help you.”

About the Author

Author Bio
Elizabeth is a debut author from the north of England. With a long-time passion for writing, at eight years old she attempted to write and illustrated her very own Goosebumps books, as well as an ongoing series of solve-it-yourself mysteries, and several stories about a single lady living her life with an unfortunate perm. One day she hopes that practice will pay off, but until then she’s been recently adopted by two cats and gets by working for the government.
Email: libbydwilde@hotmail.com
Website: http://elizabethdwilde.wordpress.com/
Twitter: twitter.com/elizabethdwilde

Giveaway

NineStar Press is hosting a Rafflecopter Giveaway to run for the duration of the tour. Prizes will include a $10 Amazon Gift Card and a credit for a free book from the NineStar Press website. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.  Link and prizes provided by NineStar Press.

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A Stella New Adult Review: Go Your Own Way by Zane Riley

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Rating 4.5 stars out of 5

Go Your Own Way coverWill Osborne couldn’t wait to put the roller coaster ride of his public education behind him. Having suffered bullying and harassment since grade school, he planned a senior year that would be simple and quiet before going away to college and starting fresh. But when a reform school transfer student struts into his first class, Will realizes that the thrill ride has only just begun.

Lennox McAvoy is an avalanche. He’s crude, flirtatious, and the most insufferable, beautiful person Will’s ever met. From his ankle monitor to his dull smile, Lennox appears irredeemable. But when Will’s father falls seriously ill, Will discovers that there is more to Lennox than meets the eye.

Go Your Own Way is the new adult debut novel by the talented Zane Riley and another winner from the (new to me) Interlude Press. The book was nothing like I was expecting and really different from the usual NA (new adult) stories I read in the past. In three words, I loved it! I’m so happy when I discover new authors and I can’t believe this is Zane’s only book I have available right now.

Will and Lennox are two characters that will be in my heart for a bit. The author did an amazing work at describing them and making me like them so much. They are so cute together! I can assure you both are super interesting since the first lines, and when sparkles fly between them the fun is assured. Two boys apparently so different from each other but with lots in common.

Lennox seems a strong young man, steeled by the too hard past years. But it’s an act he absolutely needs to survive his life, made of a nasty motel room, of food stolen at the school cafeteria, of prejudices and attempts at his safety, of nights spent in the bathtub with a flashlight. He isn’t expecting someone like Will to happen to his shitty life and to get through his heart like this amazing young man does.

“I do like him,” Will confessed. “But I can’t stand him, too. It’s… complicated. I don’t want to just date for a few weeks. I don’t—I want something that’s real.”

Why can’t a short relationship be real?” Roxanne asked. “I mean, Romeo and Juliet—”

Were two insane, dopey teenagers whose infatuation killed a half a dozen people,” Will said. “I want maturity. Commitment. Someone to talk to about everything.”

Sounds like a therapist to me”

Will is been bullied all his life. He can’t wait to finish his last year of high school to fly out of the strict town he’s born in. He has a beautiful stepmother and a great dad, both funny and so supportive. He always dreamed about his first love and his idea is nothing as Lennox, cheeky and rude. But Lennox, who is the biggest annoying person in Will’s world, becomes his greater distractions and helper in the hardest and hurtful event in his life so far. Lennox becomes a comfort, because he understands what Will is going through. There is still ice and fire between them but that’s exactly what makes their relationships so beautiful.

The writing is light and funny but deep and emotional too. The author uses a double point of view, perfect to make more real and detectable the MCs’ minds and feelings, especially in the hilarious dialogues, full of banters, jokes and the MCs’ smart mouths that make Go Your Own Way an engaging “enemies to lovers” book.

I gave this book only 4,5 stars cause the ending was too abrupt and it needs a sequel, there are so many things I still have to know and see, especially about Lennox. Still this is a highly recommended story.

Cover design by Buckeyegrrl Designs. The cover depicts a specific scene in the book, the first time they kiss against a chalkboard. It is really awesome and the backcover is even better. Really well done.

Sales Links:  Interlude Press | Smashwords | All Romance (ARe) | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 326 pages
Published May 5th 2015 by Interlude Press
ASIN B00WOP7OGM
Edition Language English

A Mika Review: In the Middle of Somewhere (In the Middle of Somewhere #1) by Roan Parrish

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

In the Middle of Somewhere coverDANIEL MULLIGAN is tough, snarky, and tattooed, hiding his self-consciousness behind sarcasm. Daniel has never fit in—not at home with his auto mechanic father and brothers, and not at school where his Ivy League classmates look down on him. Now, Daniel’s relieved to have a job at a small college in Northern Michigan, but, a city boy through and through, when Daniel arrives in Holiday, Michigan, it’s clear that this small town is one more place he just won’t fit in.

REX VALE clings to routine to keep loneliness at bay: honing his large, muscular body until it can handle anything, perfecting his recipes, and making custom furniture. Rex has lived in Holiday for years, but his shyness and imposing size have kept him from connecting with people. Though he loves the quiet and solitude of his little cabin in the woods, Rex can’t help but want someone to share it with.

When Daniel arrives in Holiday, they are smitten with each other, but though the sex is intense and explosive, Rex fears that Daniel will be one more in a long line of people to leave him, and Daniel has learned that letting anyone in could be a fatal weakness. Just as they begin to break down the walls that have been keeping them apart, Daniel is called home to Philadelphia where a secret is revealed that changes the way he understands everything.

Can a scrappy professor, an intense carpenter, and a stray dog make a go of it in their cabin in the woods? Sometimes, you have to go to the middle of nowhere to end up exactly where you want to be.

It took be a while to think of a rating and a review for In the Middle of Somewhere by Roan Parrish. I want to say first that for a debut book this author nailed it. She did a great job with the characters and the story line. I enjoyed her writing style a lot. She wrote the perfect guy in my eyes. I love Rex, everything about him. I have no bad words for him, I thoroughly enjoyed his character from start to finish. I understand him more that it’s been 2 days since I’ve finished the book. I get that he enjoys the simple things in life, and people. Sure I wanted to throttle him a few times, but he made up for all the little things he did. The internet, the food, the listening, and just being Rex. I want me a Rex now!!!

Now let’s get to Daniel. Daniel was a lost boy if anybody else was. Gah for all his pigheadedness, I still loved him. I kinda felt sorry felt sorry for him, because he did not know love it seemed like. I don’t know if that is true, but from what I seen he was lacking love outside of Ginger. Goodness his brothers were a class act. Ugh I wanted to rip their entails out. Ummm weren’t they born and bred in Philadelphia? Isn’t that the “City of Brotherly Love” Not really! Ugh I hated his entire family. It’s not going to change since I’ve finished the book. I really liked how the author did the supporting characters, Leo & Will, I liked both of those guys.

Why not 5 stars? Well sometimes Daniel inner voice got on my nerves. It was too much at times. I wanted him to have a little confidence of his own, I wanted him to man up at times, and sure he did it, but by then I was over it. I get why he needed the reassurances, but I sometimes just wanted him to spontaneously do something. I wanted him to put himself out there a little bit more. This might be minor to some people, but it was a problem for me. I can’t wait to see more from this author. I thank her for giving us these wonderful characters.

Cover Art by: AngstyG, The Best Cover of the year. It’s been some nice cover, but wherever AngstyG is and these models I want them in my basement! I love this cover so much. It’s really beautiful. I’m going to keep looking at it forever.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press |  All Romance (ARe)  |  Amazon  | Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 350 pages, also in paperback
Published July 10th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press LLC
original titleIn the Middle of Somewhere
ISBN139781634762137
edition language English
series In the Middle of Somewhere #1

YA Saturday ~ YA Reviewer Aurora on Her First Novel, Beneath The Scales (YA LGBT Fantasy)

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Beneath The Scales Cover

Beneath The Scales by Aurora Peppermint
Released July 9, 2015
Published by Harmony Ink Press
Cover art by Anne Cain

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More from Aurora on her first novel, the YA fantasy Beneath the Scales, released by Harmony Ink Press.  And if you missed her blog yesterday, you can find it here along with the giveaway!  Enjoy.

Hi everyone!

So as many of you know I’ve been working for a really long time to finish, submit, edit and make into being my young adult novel, Beneath the Scales. It has been a labor of love every step of the way and I am so proud and so excited to be sharing it with everybody now.

The cover art was done by the lovely Anne Cain, who I’ve always been a huge fan of and was extremely lucky to get as my cover artist. And the book is now on the coming soon page at my publisher, Harmony Ink! What that means is that you can pre-order it, you can go and check out the blurb, see what it’s about and whether you’re interested, and see the cover art on the official site.

Thank you all so much and I’m so, so excited for this! Check out the book below and that great cover!

          – Aurora

STRW Author BookSynopsis

A desperate quest forces a young man to question all he knows about truth and loyalty.

Fifteen-year-old orphan Martus is struggling to provide for his magically gifted sister, Elsaben. Stealing and working shady jobs might feed them, but it doesn’t bring in enough for the arcane books and training she sorely needs, and he knows he can’t keep it up forever. His reputation as a troublemaker is starting to put him in danger.

When Elsaben is carried off by a dragon who attacks their village and burns it to the ground, Martus swears revenge, expecting to either die or return a hero. He isn’t prepared for what he discovers in a cave in the mountains.

If he can put aside his prejudices, he might find a chance for a better life, a faithful new friend, and the opportunity to help someone more like himself than he realizes. His adventure could change everything—even the beliefs he’s always taken for granted.

STRW Spotlight Book Excerpt

Martus ran a hand lazily through his hair, then trailed his palm down to rub at his eyes, and finally let his arm flop down onto the bed beside him. It was light out already and he had to get up, much as he didn’t want to, but he was going to postpone waking fully as long as possible, just as he did every morning.

As a boy who had been punched in the stomach many times before, it was easy to recognize the feeling, but, through the crack of his eye—rather than the angry ex-lover of someone he’d pulled into his bed the night before, as he would usually see—his curly-haired little sister was visible.

“Mar! Up, up, up! You promised you’d take me with you today! ‘Member?” Bright eyes peered down into his, and Martus easily threw an arm around the small girl and pulled her off his stomach, mindful of her head when he plopped her down on the wood floor beside him.

“Yes, Elsaben. Sh.” Pulling a pillow over his face for a moment, Martus heaved a loud sigh, then tossed the pillow to the side and sat up. “Wh—” A yawn cut his question off, and his eyes wrinkled shut for a moment. “Where d’you want to go, darling?”

“I want to go wherever you go, Mar! “ Elsaben grinned, flopping on her stomach to grope under his bed before standing triumphantly with a bent up stick in her small hand, “You have my sa-word!” Martus couldn’t help laughing at that, ruffling his little sister’s hair and standing up.

“All right, then, little warrior, get dressed.” As he spoke, Martus tugged on his shirt and went looking for his day pants. The siblings didn’t have much since their parents died, but Martus always made sure his little sister had the basic necessities—clothes, food, water, something that could at least pass for a house—and a little more when he could manage it.

“Bet I’ll be ready quicker than you!” With that, Elsaben was out the door and hurrying down the stairs, hair flying out behind her.

Sales Links:   Harmony Ink Press |  All Romance (ARe)  |  Amazon  |  Buy It Here

Beneath The Scales Cover

Release Day for Beneath the Scales by Aurora Peppermint! (author guest blog and contest)

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Beneath The Scales Cover

Its Release Day for

Beneath the Scales by Aurora Peppermint
Release Day:  July 9, 2015

Published by Harmony Ink Press
Cover art by Anne Cain

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press eBook & Paperback  |  All Romance (ARe)  |  Amazon  | Buy It Here

We’re celebrating the release today of our very own reviewer Aurora’s first published novel, Beneath The Scales, with Harmony Ink Press.   Its an amazing accomplishment at any age, but especially at hers.  Aurora is a true YA reviewer in every way and we are so proud to have her as a part of our team here at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words!

So check out that gorgeous cover by Anne Cain, read the blurb and excerpt below.  And drop a line or two to Aurora and enter the contest for a gift card at the end.

Congratulations, Aurora!

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Aurora Peppermint on Beneath The Scales and YA  Stories

Writing Beneath the Scales was a huge labor of love for me. I came up with the character of Martus first, and Hal very soon after that. I really love their characters and throughout this book and the books that will follow it, I’ve just had such a great time seeing them grow and slowly become more comfortable with each other. I love to read young adult fiction, and I have found that I love writing it just as much. Working with teenage characters is so interesting because that time in a person’s life is so unique and, in the case of Beneath the Scales, the situation that Martus and Hal have found themselves in just makes an already complicated time even more so. Martus is in the position of being a guardian to his sister, stealing and doing unsavory jobs just to keep them from starving. And through the course of this book, his life just gets more complicated than before. From the things he learns about himself to the things he learns about the world around him, he really has a chance to change and improve his quality of life.

Besides just my characters, who had my heart from the moment that I came up with them, the plot of this book is really important to me too. So often, I find myself reading young adult books and absolutely loving them, but wondering how the fantasy world in the books I enjoy can connect to the real world. At the same time, I see teenagers, friends, struggling with their sexual and romantic identities, and struggling with being accepted for a whole host of other reasons. What I really wanted to show in this books was that everyone goes through these struggles, and it’s very possible to recover from them and it’s possible to still do great things for the world even if the world doesn’t have faith in you. I also wanted to show someone who both deals with prejudices being put against him, for a few reasons – his social status, his sexuality – but someone who is still prejudiced in his own ways. More importantly, I wanted show someone who was trying to overcome that prejudice.

I had a great time writing this book, I love the characters very much, and I am so excited to see where they go in the future and to share their upcoming journeys, and the journey they go through in this book, with you.

STRW Author BookSynopsis

A desperate quest forces a young man to question all he knows about truth and loyalty.Beneath The Scales Cover

Fifteen-year-old orphan Martus is struggling to provide for his magically gifted sister, Elsaben. Stealing and working shady jobs might feed them, but it doesn’t bring in enough for the arcane books and training she sorely needs, and he knows he can’t keep it up forever. His reputation as a troublemaker is starting to put him in danger.

When Elsaben is carried off by a dragon who attacks their village and burns it to the ground, Martus swears revenge, expecting to either die or return a hero. He isn’t prepared for what he discovers in a cave in the mountains.

If he can put aside his prejudices, he might find a chance for a better life, a faithful new friend, and the opportunity to help someone more like himself than he realizes. His adventure could change everything—even the beliefs he’s always taken for granted.

STRW Spotlight Book Excerpt

Martus ran a hand lazily through his hair, then trailed his palm down to rub at his eyes, and finally let his arm flop down onto the bed beside him. It was light out already and he had to get up, much as he didn’t want to, but he was going to postpone waking fully as long as possible, just as he did every morning.

As a boy who had been punched in the stomach many times before, it was easy to recognize the feeling, but, through the crack of his eye—rather than the angry ex-lover of someone he’d pulled into his bed the night before, as he would usually see—his curly-haired little sister was visible.

“Mar! Up, up, up! You promised you’d take me with you today! ‘Member?” Bright eyes peered down into his, and Martus easily threw an arm around the small girl and pulled her off his stomach, mindful of her head when he plopped her down on the wood floor beside him.

“Yes, Elsaben. Sh.” Pulling a pillow over his face for a moment, Martus heaved a loud sigh, then tossed the pillow to the side and sat up. “Wh—” A yawn cut his question off, and his eyes wrinkled shut for a moment. “Where d’you want to go, darling?”

“I want to go wherever you go, Mar! “ Elsaben grinned, flopping on her stomach to grope under his bed before standing triumphantly with a bent up stick in her small hand, “You have my sa-word!” Martus couldn’t help laughing at that, ruffling his little sister’s hair and standing up.

“All right, then, little warrior, get dressed.” As he spoke, Martus tugged on his shirt and went looking for his day pants. The siblings didn’t have much since their parents died, but Martus always made sure his little sister had the basic necessities—clothes, food, water, something that could at least pass for a house—and a little more when he could manage it.

“Bet I’ll be ready quicker than you!” With that, Elsaben was out the door and hurrying down the stairs, hair flying out behind her.

STRW Spotlight Contest Header

Enter to win a Rafflecopter prize of $15.00 Amazon gift card.  Must be 15 years of age or older to enter.  Link and prize provided by Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A MelanieM Review: The Beast Without by Christian Baines

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

The Beast Without coverReylan, a Blood Shade, the correct term for vampires,, likes being on his own.  He is wealthy, gorgeous,  sexy and particular in who he eats.  He picks out his prey from the popular gay clubs of Sidney, on Oxford Street.  Reylan is always careful not to take too much, just enough to last a few days  before he has to feed again.  So when a crazed werewolf kills his latest companion, Reylan is not happy.  He is even less so when the werewolf, young Jorgas, seems to have developed an obsession with him.  An obsession that puts Reylan and those he cares about at risk.

In order for Reylan to take care of the situation, he finds he must work with a mysterious supernatural organization  called The Arcadia Trust and its leader Patricia Bakker.  The Arcadia Trust has its own agenda and wants Reylan to deliver the werewolf to them alive.  But things change when Reylan hunts down the young werewolf in question.  In a moment of intense need and hunger a tenuous relationship is formed between vampire and werewolf, a relationship neither wants.

As more people are murdered around them, Reylan, Jorgas and The Arcadian Trust must look further than Jorgas for the cause while trying to protect the ones inside their circle.  Reylan soon realizes that the civility he has cloaked his life in is no longer enough.  Its time for his true predator nature to come out and stay out if he is to stay alive and locate the true murderer among them.

What an excellent take on vampires and werewolves.  The Beast Without is such a far cry from the Twilight movies and other more current representations of these two supernatural beings. The werewolves and vampires of The Beast Without are not the benign creatures of the night that we see in popular movies and books these days.  No, the supernaturals of this novel, The Blood Shades and the Flesh Masters (werewolves) are apex predators, vicious and superior to humans who are regarded as food.  It’s actually kind of refreshing.

The vampires, werewolves and other supernatural beings like Cloak Masters (invisible beings) are genetic by nature.  All come from families where the various genes for each type of creature runs in the family.  It can skip generations and then, right around puberty, those that carry the gene mutate into the creature whose genes they carry, whether it be vampire, werewolf, or something quite different.  Christian Baines is developing a great back history for these supernaturals, a history that is being revealed slowly throughout the book.

Along with his impressive world building, Baines takes particular pains to make his characters complex, otherworldly and sometimes cruel in their outlook.  Take Reylan.  He is not human and revels in being a Blood Shade, finding the term vampire to be distasteful and tawdry. An asexual being, at least in the beginning, he dines on men, preferring the power and vigor in their blood to the caution and other traits that occurs in female hemoglobin.   As created by Baines, Reylan is a loner, a predator and absolutely absorbing.

I can’t  say enough about the characters i found here.  Whether it is Jorgas, a confused, raged filled werewolf, Father Isaac O’Baer of Saint Barnabas Church, a Father handy with advice or a knife, or Patricia Bakker, the enigmatic leader of The Arcadia Trust, these beings are intricately layered, wildly unpredictable in nature, and totally absorbing to read about.  I can’t get enough of them or anyone else that pops up in this story.  It’s really just a roll call of strange and wonderful creatures, each more exciting, dangerous and complex  than the one before.   They may not be real, but they certainly feel that way.  Here is Reylan’s thoughts on Cloak Walkers:

It’s said, perhaps cruelly, that you can smell a Cloak Walker long before you hear him – such is the inevitable toll of invisibility on personal hygiene. It’s even been claimed that the condition brings on leprosy, and that a Cloak Walker may be tracked by the body parts he leaves behind. I find what this theory lacks in credence, it makes up for in originality.

I love that wry, amused tone.  A little mean and deceptively mild. Perfect.

The plot is just as twisted and deceptive as the characters.  Baines has really done justice to each element here.  Both the story line and supernatural beings are totally worthy of each other, working their magic on the reader from page one.  Baines’ style of writing is smooth, his descriptions vivid and sometimes almost graphically realistic.  Here is our introduction to Reylan as he heads out to hunt at night:

 I’m not human, but even so, this is a reality I can’t ignore. If I’m not careful when I feed, when I take my fill of blood, I can quickly become the wrong one-nighter.

I’ll thank you not to use the ‘v’ word.

Given my proximity to Oxford Street, the sleazy, pulsing artery of Sydney’s nightclub district where I’ve lived for the better part of thirty years, I try not to visit any club twice in the same week. It’s safer that way, particularly for a man whose lifestyle depends on discretion. Barely two nights ago, I’d graced Fantasy, a club full of pretty, if flighty young things – some gay, some straight, most happily open minded on the subject. So the following night’s destination was Blaze, a club currently serving as de facto cathedral to the Church of Saint Muscle Mary, where the buff and beautiful took time out of their forty hour a week gym schedules to model, preen and occasionally dance the night away for the slack-jawed ogling pleasure of curious onlookers.

For hunting clothes, I chose a pair of tight leather trousers, an equally tight lycra vest and a silver-studded belt. A little attractive, a little sexual, and a little ridiculous. The perfect human mix I’d developed over the years. Not the epitome of modern style, but on a healthy twenty-four-year-old man, which is what I appear to be, it did say ‘come hither and bed me,’ which was the whole point.

Then, there was the pill. I rarely use them, but if options are lacking and I get too impatient, a little chemistry in a capsule can seal the sumptuous fate of any prospective companion. You needn’t judge me. You do a lot worse to your food. Besides, it’s not as if I’ve had to use it – recently.

There he is, all deliciousness in tone and outlook.  But soon Reylan will demonstrate just exactly how good a predator he is.  How I came to love him.

I should make one thing clear.  This is not a romance.  There are m/m relationships, there is sexual need, blood lust and heat a plenty.  But if you are looking for roses and candlelight dinners, this is not the story for you.  A convoluted relationship does develop between Reylan and Jorgas, but it is just at the beginning stages and it is certainly not based on love or even affection.  A bond certainly, but of need and blood and baser emotions.  It is realistic and involving as any I have read, and I love it.

Incredibly, The Beast Without is Christian Baines first novel. I came so close to giving this  remarkable story a 5-star rating but there are just too many loose ends that remain unresolved at the end of the story to go that final inch.    Christian Baines lays out a mystery for us, several in fact but nothing more.  Just speculation and insidiously addicting clues to a larger mystery looming behind the smaller ones. Everything about The Beast Without cries out for a sequel and I can only hope that one is in the works. At any rate, I highly recommend this rich and rewarding take on vampires and werewolves, especially for those of you tired of sparkle.

Cover art and design is terrific. Cover Images: Ivan Bliznetsov (front); DSNR (back) Jacket Design: David P Reiter

Afternote:  Christian Baines has indicated that a sequel to The Beast Without is planned, very good news indeed.

Sales Links:     All Romance (ARe)          Amazon      buy it here

Book Details:

Paperback, 234 pages
Published March 27th 2013 by Glass House Books
ISBN 192212043X (ISBN13: 9781922120434)
edition language
also eBook edition

On Tour with Jason Lloyd’s Salty Aftertaste!

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Salty Aftertaste Banner

ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords welcomes Jason Lloyd here to talk about the anniversary edition of Salty Aftertaste, Jason’s first novel, published last year.  We have an excerpt and author’s foreword as well as a contest to enter.

Jason Lloyd calls his style of writing “creative non-fiction”, a manner of weaving autobiographical details into stories. Are they daydreams?  Perhaps flights of fancy, both sexy and humorous?  Take a closer look and decide for yourself…

Salty Aftertaste Blurb:

Salty Aftertaste CoverBoys, beaches and bad decisions…

In this nonfiction tale, Jason and his hilarious and crude motley cast of friends leave their mundane suburban jungles and flock to the mecca that is Rehoboth Beach, Delaware for vacation. They are in search of a little rest and relaxation; aka beach, bars and boys, lots of hot boys.

Jason is just looking for a little attention. He just wants to feel wanted, and a little summer passion would not hurt either. Jason is the self-proclaimed hopeless romantic of the group. Will he find his summer love or is romance really scarce?

Kevin is the complete opposite of Jason. He feels that romance is only alive in stories. Kevin’s love for a teenage drama goes too far, and his obsession turns into more than he expected. Did Kevin finally stumble upon some romance or does his fascination finally get the better of him?

Bobby is looking for a connection. Any kind of connection. He meets a new guy every night and shares his bed with him. What is really going on behind Bobby’s bedroom door? Will he ever be able to fill this insatiable void for closeness?

Benjamin sneaks out every night. He disappears into the night and reemerges the next morning as if nothing had happened. He is quiet about his extracurricular activities. Where does Benjamin go? What is he doing?

In this beach oasis, where there is an endless sea of sexy men with perfect bodies, will Jason and his friends actually find love or just one night stands? One thing is for certain, it is an epic vacation that none of them will forget.

Creepy Benji – A Look into Salty Aftertaste

Salty Aftertaste is my story about a vacation I took with my friends. Four gay guys and three straight girls live together in a small beach house for a week. It was like the gayer version of MTVs The Real World. When you have that many personalities under one roof, many memorable things will happen. The funny and dramatic moments from that vacation feel like they just happened yesterday.

This vacation was the first time we were all together for an extended period of time. I got to see everyone’s quirks and how everyone handled their liquor differently. One of my favorite scenes was the first night we were in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, and we watched our friend go from quiet and laid back to creeper in 2.5 seconds.

A Salty Aftertaste Excerpt

Benjamin started to become increasingly drunk after we got to Aqua. I had not actually noticed until he put his arm around me.

“Jason you’re my favorite right now,” Benjamin said with hazy eyes and slurred speech as he clung to me. I could tell he was using my body to keep his body steady.

Benjamin started to dance with me, with random people, and with the shadows on the wall. He flailed his arms up and down and swayed from side to side trying to keep up with the rhythm of the song. He failed miserably.

“Um, exactly how much has Benji had to drink?” I asked Haley.

“I’m not exactly sure, a few beers at the house and I think he’s drinking vodka now, why?” Haley inquired back.

“Because he’s staring down that shirtless guy with the blonde afro other there. He looks ready to pounce,” I nodded in Benjamin’s direction. He was a few feet in front of us. Haley glanced over.

“Oh my God! What on earth is he doing?” she asked.

“I have no idea. Maybe it’s some sort of a British mating dance.”

Benjamin thrashed his arms around. He looked like a puppet, and his master was pulling on the strings. I walked up to him, and he turned and smiled at me. He looked dopey but happy.

“Sweetheart, what are you doing?” I asked.

“Jason! JJJJAAAASSSSOOOOOOOOON!” Benjamin responded. He placed his hands on my shoulders and looked me in the eyes. “I want him! I WANT HIM!” Benjamin yelled as he pointed at the shirtless guy with the blonde afro.

“Okay, I believe you, but how bout you come back over to the group and admire him from afar?” I insisted and pulled on his arm so he would follow me.

I had expected him to put up a fuss, but Benjamin just smiled and said, “Okay!”

When I reached the group and turned back around Benjamin was gone again.

“Now where the fuck did he go?” I asked Haley.

“He’s over there.” Kevin pointed to the entrance.

We all turned to look. Benjamin was standing right in front of the door by the trash can. He stood in the doorway bobbing up and down. He was making it hard for people to pass him. With eyes partly open, he smiled and pointed at people that walked by. He gave a thumbs up to the guys he thought were cute.

“Yeah, that’s not creepy at all,” Haley said while staring at Benjamin and laughing.

“Creepy Benji! What the hell is he doing?” Kevin asked.

“Creepy Benji is right,” Bobby said as he took a sip of his margarita.

“He is on a mission to find a guy. All he needs now is a white van with a ‘Free Candy’ sign on the side of it,” I said.

“More like a ‘Free Blow Job’ sign,” Kevin stated.

Contest:  Want to win an ebook copy of Salty Aftertaste? Use Rafflecopter below to enter. Five winners will be randomly selected. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.  Use the link provided for the entry form and for additional contest details.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I’d like to give a special shout out to my talented publicist, Joleen, from Parenthetical Author Services. She set up this cover reveal/anniversary blog tour. If you’re an author and need help promoting your work, email her at PAS Promotions.

Anniversary Edition tour hosts: 3 Chicks After Dark, Attention Is Arbitrary, Because Two Men Are Better Than One, Boys On the Brink, Decadent Delights, Gay Media Reviews, GGR-Review.com, Hearts On Fire, Joyfully Jay, Love Bytes, MM Good Book Reviews, My Fiction Nook, The Novel Approach, On Top Down Under Book Reviews, Prism Book Alliance, The Purple Fantasy Den, Rainbow Gold Reviews, Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words, Sinfully Sexy, and Smoocher’s Voice

 Meet Jason Lloyd!

 

Author picJason Lloyd is the author of hilarious m/m romance featuring an array of interesting characters. Salty Aftertaste (Ginge Publishing, 2013) was his first creative non-fiction novel. It reached Smashwords Top Best Seller list in Gay & Lesbian Fiction and was the #5 best seller in the New Adult genre on All Romance eBooks (ARe).

His second book, Queer Dirty Laundry (Ginge Publishing, 2014), is a creative non-fiction novella and is based on his popular blog by the same name. In 2011, QueerDirtyLaundry.com was nominated for The Best of Gay Philadelphia under Best Gay Website/Blog. Jason’s blog was also in the top ten numerous times on Best Male Blogs.

Jason is currently working on an m/m romance and mystery/suspense fictional novelette series called Filthy Fibbers. Filthy Fibbers is centered on five friends and the scandalous secrets they keep. The book takes place in a small Pennsylvania town called New Hope.

Jason grew up in a small town in Bucks County, Pennsylvania outside of Philadelphia. A majority of his writing takes place in Eastern Pennsylvania including Philadelphia. He currently resides in a small town in Berks County, Pennsylvania.

Social Contacts

Email | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads and Ask the Author | Website

Buy Links for Salty Aftertaste:

Amazon | ARe | B&N | Google Play | iBooks | Smashwords

Review: Know Not Why by Hannah Johnson

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Know Not Why coverHowie’s social life is suffering, along with everything else not going on in his life.  Howie’s back home, living with his mom. He hopes his support will help her adjust after the car accident that caused the death of his dad. But  leaving school and his hopes behind has left a fierce void in his life.  He lacks a girl friend, a job, even just a motivation to get out of bed every day.  So when the idea comes to him that he can find girls by getting a job in a craft store full of girl employees then he acts on it.  Sounds great, right?  But getting a job at Artie Kraft’s Arts ‘N Crafts doesn’t work out quite the way Howie thought it would.

Sure there are some cute girls working at Artie Kraft’s Craft store, but neither is what he expected.   Sure Kristy, blonde, bubbly, adorable Kristy, seems perfect,  But she is oblivious to Howie’s charms, more friend than date.  And Cora?  Wild, tiny,  super pierced, fierce force of nature Cora?  No, not to any stretch of Howie’s imagination would that work.  And then there is his boss, store owner Arthur Kraft.  Arthur just confounds Howie.  Howie is only a few years younger than Arthur but Arthur seems so much older in outlook and actions.  Arthur just rubs Howie the wrong way, sure the guy is cute and all.  He is kind and knowledgeable and very gay.  So why is the very straight Howie spending all his time thinking about Arthur?

Who knew that a small time craft store could cause such an upheaval in Howie’s life?  Everything starts to change whether Howie is prepared or not, including himself.

I had been hearing good things about this self published story by Hannah Johnson but I was unprepared for how much I really liked it.  Before I knew it, I was heart deep in the lives of Howie, his friends Amber and Mitch, as well as Arthur Kraft, and all the employees of Artie Kraft’s Arts ‘N Crafts.  Johnson’s narrative is witty, light hearted and topical.  The dialog of the characters just snaps with the verve and idiomatic phrases of youth.  What fun, what joy in characters and a story well told! Oh how I enjoyed that.

Know Not Why is told from the point of view of 22-year old Howie, English Lit major at a community college.  Howie is an intelligent, somewhat sarcastic young man. A verbal acrobat who is bitter over his current situation, Howie makes an amusing, snappish narrator. His is a voice that overflows with current cultural references from indy movies to popular songs, throwing in lines, plots and authors most likely found among the syllabuses for English Literature majors at college.  Think about a narration along the lines of Ferris Bueller, and you can begin to get a feel for the type of flow you will find in Know Not Why.

But Howie is not the charming, immensely likable Ferris Bueller, not by a long shot.  One he is older and his living situation is far more serious than Ferris’.  A tragic car accident has cost him his father and his mother is still mourning the loss even as she supports them through a new terrific career as a romance writer and teacher at the same community college Howie now reluctantly attends.  He has a wonderful relationship with her, the same goes with his best friend Amber.  But as a young man desperate to connect with the opposite sex, he comes across as a little sketchy in his approach and lack of understanding to women outside his small circle.

One of the elements I appreciated about Johnson’s characters as well as story development is that we go from a superficial understanding of Howie where he is almost a smarmy, self centered sort of individual to a deeper, more layered character that evolves as more and more details about his situation and past history surface.  And the revelations about Howie keep pace with the growth of the character as working at the craft store and its employees have a marked affect upon his life.

All the characters that Johnson has created here are well crafted and thought out.  Where certain people, Kristy and Mitchell come to mind, could have been so stereotypical in their personalities, these characters come across as layered, and realistic, although it may take a while before the reader realizes it.  Kristy is such an effervescent, naive personality that disliking this character would be the equivalent of kicking kittens.  No matter how much one might be inclined to disparage even the very idea of a Kristy, the character wins you over with unexpected depths and charm of this person.  I can say much the same for all the characters found here.  Superficially they all appear to be one thing, yet as the story develops, so does the superficiality disolve from each one to reveal the well rounded persona that has existed there all along.  Even minor characters like a Heather Grimsby achieves authenticity by the end of the story.

Know Not Why charts the personal and emotional growth of not just Howie, but many of the secondary characters around him.  In a realistic fashion, the events that happen take place over a year’s time.  And the emotional upheavals that happen to each character here are those that naturally occur as relationships change and evolve.  Life is about change, whether you want it to or not.  And whether you are ready for the change to occur or not.  Mothers move past grief and get ready for a new love.  Friends and your relationship with them will never remain in stasis no matter how much you want things to stay the same.  Howie has to deal with all that and more, including his sexuality and love for another man.  Its funny, howlingly so at times, irritating, and so slow in acceptance you could swear you saw a turtle doing laps around Howie as he ponders his attraction towards men in general and one in particular.

And that brings me to the two elements that some readers will find exasperating.  The first is Howie’s narration.  Its long, self involved (at least to start off), constantly rambling,  and assured of its own relevancy and intelligence.  So much so that how you relate to Howie and his personality will reflect in how you feel about this story.  If you love a main character’s almost non stop gamboling storytelling format as well as a well defined realistic personal growth, I think than you will love Howie and his story.  If you lack the patience to deal with this sort of personality and long, rambling style to the point of what may seem self indulgence, than you might be quick to give this a pass.  It’s all in how you relate to Howie.   Love him, love the story.

Secondly, for me at least, there is the length.  I think that it could have been edited downwards, making the story more concise and sharp in tone and format.  In my opinion, Howie rambles on a little too long as the same things are gone over several times in the narrative when, in my opinion, just once would have sufficed.  I understand the author’s need to give full voice to Howie, but wish her inner editor (and perhaps her outer one as well) would have let her cut away some of the excess verbiage to let the many gems found here shine more brightly.

I found Know Not Why by Hannah Johnson so enjoyable that I am now off to seek out what others stories she may have written. I certainly look for more from this terrific author and definitely recommend Know Not Why to y0u all.  It’s a fun, enjoyable read full of characters and dialog that just  sparkle.

Hannah Johnson can be found at http://alaskanandromeda.blogspot.com

Charmingly simple cover, with its yarn heart.  Loved it.

Book Details:

ebook, 317 pages
Published April 23rd 2012 by Smashwords
original title Know Not Why: A Novel
ISBN13 97814