On Tour with ‘The Vampire’s Protege (A Vampire’s Angel’s story)’ by Damian Serbu (author interview, excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  The Vampire’s Protege

Series: From the Vampire’s Angel universe

Author: Damian Serbu

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: August 21

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: No Romance

Length: 99600

Genre: Horror, paranormal, abduction, action, blood and gore, cisgender, contemporary, crime, dark, death, gay, paranormal, vampires

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Damian Serbu today on his tour for The Vampire’s Protege. We have a wonderful author’s interview, excerpt and giveaway.  Don’t miss any of it, starting below!

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~ Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Damian Serbu ~

When did you write your first story and what was the inspiration for it?

I wrote my first novel after several years of contemplation and fascination with the concept.  I was completing my doctorate in history at the time, and would escape from the concrete world of facts and past events by writing fiction.  That particularly story was inspired by the movie “The Man in the Iron Mask.”  It eventually became Dark Sorcerer Threatening, which is currently out of print but I hope to reprint someday.

Do you have a writing schedule or do you just write when you can find the time?

Because I have full time job, I maintain a pretty strict schedule or I would never get around to it!  I write at least twice a week, for a good chunk of time.

Briefly describe the writing process. Do you create an outline first? Do you seek out inspirational pictures, videos or music? Do you just let the words flow and then go back and try and make some sense out it?

I am way too much of a historian, even in my writing of novels, to go without an outline!  So I sketch out the entire story before I begin.  For a long time before I outline, I keep notes and jot down ideas for the story, then I take that mess of ideas and shape it into the outline, which I then edit several times.  That being said, the outline serves as a general guide, not something written in stone.  I let the muse take me where it will, which often necessitates tweaking the outline as I go.  As for inspiration, I let that hit me wherever it appears.  Sometimes it’s a movie or song or picture, but more often than not it comes out of nowhere and just blasts me in the head.  It seems to happen a lot on my morning jog.  And I just let the words flow when I write – but that requires going back and doing a pretty thorough edit.

Where did the desire to write LGBTQIA+ stories come from?

From being gay!  It’s what I know, it’s what I like to read, and so it’s what I want to write.

How much research do you do when writing a story and what are the best sources you’ve found for giving an authentic voice to your characters?

The amount of research for the story depends on the story, really.  When I set it in the past, I do a great deal of research.  For example, I’ve written about the French Revolution, Antebellum America, and pirates.  Those all took extensive research to get the history correct.  That’s where my academic background comes in handy!  I know how to gather books and articles that give me solid history, and then weave that reality into the writing.  I do all of that research before I even start outlining.  But other stories, including The Vampire’s Protégé, don’t require as much research.  There, I may need to research something that pops up.  For example, this time I suddenly found myself writing about Bitcoin, which I didn’t know a damn thing about.  So off I went to learn a tad so I didn’t make a fool of myself!  But my novels set in a contemporary setting don’t require as much extensive research.

Synopsis

A sinister vampire offers Charon a choice he can’t refuse: play a deadly game of winner takes all, losers die.

Charon relishes the competition and molds himself into a sexy vampire who defies vampire law, savoring his power and embracing the role of villain. He also loves surrounding himself with hot young men. But when an alluring vampire stalks him and threatens to turn him into the Vampire Council unless he helps with a seemingly impossible task, will Charon risk his perfectly narcissistic life on the challenge? Does he have any other choice?

Excerpt

The Vampire’s Protege
Damian Serbu © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Prologue

Introducing Charon

Everyone thinks they adore the Vampire Council with its rules and regulations that allegedly govern all vampires and thereby ensure the safety of virtuous humans. People want to lose themselves in the tales of the Council members: Xavier and Thomas and their love; Anthony and Jaret and their guarding of humanity; Catherine and Harriet and their whims within a righteous vampiric empire. Most of all, the Vampire Ethic provides comfort with its guarantee that goodness protects an individual from a vampire attack, with its promise that all vampires defend innocence.

Vampires accept this reality because it gives them a collective soul. The ethic protects them from the stereotype of evil incarnate preying upon humanity. Or, in the least, obedience to it keeps them alive, lest the Council hunt them down and murder them for transgressions against it.

Humans desire the Council’s laws to maintain their fantasy of security from the supernatural realms. Who would dismiss a hidden force of vampire police that might swoop in at any sign of danger and annihilate the perpetrator?

Yet deep inside, so many long for something different, something that avoids this utopian trope and perfect world, all tied up in a pretty bow. Part of everyone, that piece so desperately stamped down and derided, seeks an alternative story.

To be sure, many will deny it. Fight against these words and honorably cast them out as the devil’s temptations. Yet no proof of Satan or such demonic forces presents itself. Because even those thoughts really stem from the inner being in everyone, that secretly locked-up atom inside a person that pines for freedom and seeks release, even as the goodness scolds it.

Still people contest these words. Deny them.

Yet a fascination with villains thrives in America. Think of the great antiheroes of history and their legendary fame. The Wicked Witch of the West. Darth Vader. Hannibal Lecter. The Joker. The infamy of historic figures such as Adolf Hitler or Ted Bundy or the Son of Sam. The people who don the costumes at Halloween of Lord Voldemort, Dracula, or Vlad the Impaler because it empowers them for a night with beautiful wickedness. People laugh at Scar, Ursula, and even Mr. Potter. They read the tales of Lex Luther and Cujo, privately wishing they would eventually triumph over the heroes of the story and bring a bit of destruction to the globe.

Jack the Ripper lives through the ages because he successfully hid himself, true. But also because his perfect malevolence went unpunished. People want that for themselves. His legend draws them back again and again to that story with the hope of their own misdeeds going unchallenged.

Thus, whether admitted or not, people long to meet Charon. Yes, so many cry out for Charon and his story. People want him. Readers desire him, need him, really. The world will have no choice but to love him. All will embrace him as they have these other villains of history. They will celebrate his perfect treachery.

Unlike those obedient to the Vampire Council, Charon hardly worries about a bit of notoriety from time to time. Fear of retribution never enters his vocabulary. He need not concern himself with the Vampire Council and its regulations. Nor does Charon often fret over any other person or entity cracking down on his masterful empire.

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Damian Serbu lives in the Chicago area with his husband and two dogs, Akasha and Chewbacca. The dogs control his life, tell him what to write, and threaten to eat him in the middle of the night if he disobeys. He previously authored several novels now out of print, and is excited to reignite his writing with Ninestar Press!

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Tour Schedule

8/21    Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words 

8/21    Outrageous Heroes of Romance

8/22    Shari Sakurai 

8/22    MM Good Book Reviews

8/23    Drops of Ink

8/24    love bytes reviews

8/24    QSF     

8/25    The Novel Approach

8/25    Bayou Book Junkie

8/25    Erotica For All

8/25    Happily Ever Chapter

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Release Tour for The One Thing I Know (B-Sides #1) by Keelan Ellis (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  The One Thing I Know

Series: B-Sides, Book One

Author: Keelan Ellis

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: Aug 14, 2017

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 66600

Genre: Historical, romance, gay, bisexual, historical-1970’s, California, musicians, rock star, drugs/alcohol use, enemies to lovers, road trip

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Synopsis

Talented studio musician, Henry Cole, is offered the dream job of touring with popular rock band, the Vulgar Details. Things aren’t all rosy, though, as he is hired to replace Dell Miller, creative force behind the band, who recently flamed-out in a car accident.

Henry is all too aware that he’s no replacement for someone like Dell. He’s not the only one who feels that way, either. Terry Blackwood, band front man, has been giving him a hard time even before the tour start. He seems to resent Henry’s presence beyond all reason. What Henry doesn’t know is that Terry and Dell’s relationship was both intensely close and fraught with conflict.

Terry’s grief over Dell’s death is overwhelming and threatens to destroy not only the band but his life. It doesn’t help that the new member of the band makes him feel things he doesn’t want to. Worse, when he sings, Henry sounds just like the man Terry cared so deeply for.

With so much at stake, everything could come crashing down around them and mean the end for the Vulgar Details. Or, just maybe, Henry and Terry will find the one thing they need most.

Sometimes redemption comes from the last place you expect to find it.

Excerpt

The One Thing I Know
Keelan Ellis © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One

January 1972

Henry woke up to the sound of the shower turning on in the bathroom down the hall. He got up and sorted through the clothes strewn around on the floor, separating his from his guest’s. The two pairs of white briefs were, unfortunately, the same brand and size, so he took his best guess and tossed one of them on top of the pile he was holding. He set the whole thing down outside the bathroom door and went to the kitchen to make coffee. He lit a cigarette and opened the window above the sink. The shower shut off just as the coffee finished brewing, and a few minutes later, his previous evening’s date appeared in the doorway. His name was Danny, and they’d been introduced by a mutual acquaintance. He was as cute as he was dumb, but Henry was fairly certain one night had been enough to satisfy his curiosity.

“Morning,” Henry said. “There’s coffee if you want it.”

“Thanks,” Danny said. He poured some into a cup and leaned against the counter. “Hey, I’m going to the beach later. You want me to stop by and pick you up?”

“Nah. I have work.”

“Oh, right. On the Details’ new record, wasn’t it?”

Henry nodded. He was slated to play pedal steel and Dobro on six tracks for the Vulgar Details’ upcoming album. It wasn’t the first time he’d played with those guys. The band counted on Henry to fill in the gaps whenever their songwriter and pedal steel player, Dell Miller, was off taking peyote in the desert or barricading himself in a hotel room shooting up with whoever he’d brought home that night. Henry had never met Dell and still thought of him as more myth than man. “I should get in the shower pretty soon,” he hinted.

Danny either didn’t pick up on it or didn’t care, and he poured more coffee into his cup. “You think it’s going to be a good one?”

“I think it’s the best one yet.” He rinsed his cup out and put it in the drainer. “I need to get ready. Thanks for coming over. It was fun.”

Danny raised his eyebrows at him, and his lips turned up with wry amusement. Maybe he wasn’t as dumb as Henry had thought. “Sure thing. You got my number. Call if you want.” He set his cup down and gave a little salute before he left. Definitely cute, Henry couldn’t deny that.

Henry got to the studio early and ran through his parts before the band arrived. The songs that Henry had learned for that day’s session were, hands down, the best work the band had done. The new songs were dark and personal, explorations of loss and hopelessness, set to some of the loveliest melodies he’d ever heard. The Vulgar Details had come so far from their beginnings as a brash blues rock band that they were almost unrecognizable. Henry had never thought of them as anything special until their third album, Heart’s Desire, was released back in ’69.

Henry had been lying by the pool at his friend Richard’s house, passing a joint back and forth with him, when he first heard that record. Henry was twenty-four then, and Richard was ten years older, with family money and a beautiful house he’d had built in Laurel Canyon. He threw amazing parties attended by young musicians and hippie hangers-on who were there for the free food, booze, and drugs. Richard didn’t care why they were there. He loved the beautiful boys and girls, the music, and the easily available sex. When he wasn’t partying, he liked having Henry around. Sometimes they fooled around, but Richard never made it seem like a requirement. That day, when he put on the new Vulgar Details record, Henry scoffed.

“I thought you had more interesting taste than that,” he said.

“You’re getting too old to be such a snob.”

Henry stretched and grinned up at him. “Probably getting too old for you, then, huh?”

Richard smiled, shook his head, and sat back down. “Give it a chance. You might be surprised.”

It started out sounding much like all of their previous stuff, but somehow better. Previously, their songs tended toward aimless, slightly silly rip-offs of “Mr. Tambourine Man,” or juvenile rock and roll songs about pretty girls. These were something else altogether. They dealt with love, anger, and desire—the subjects of most rock lyrics—but with a depth almost never heard in popular music.

“Jesus, this is great,” Henry said. “Where the hell did it come from? Did Terry Blackwood get a brain transplant or something?”

Richard laughed. “Not quite. They got a new member. Don’t you follow this stuff, working in the industry?”

“Must have missed that one.”

“His name’s Dell Miller. Actually, he was at that party you came to last month. Skinny, pretty, long-haired country boy? Walked around with his shirt open the whole time?”

“Oh yeah. I think I remember him. The girls were all over him. He wrote all of these?”

“All the good ones,” Richard said.

The last song on the album, “Traveling Abroad,” was the best one, and Henry insisted playing it three times in a row. It had an entirely different sound from the rest of them. It was almost a traditional country song, but the arrangement was complex and the lyrics made him want to cry. There was so much yearning in it that it was almost hard to listen to. When he left Richard’s house that afternoon, he went straight to the nearest record store to buy his own copy.

That was three years and two albums earlier. The Vulgar Details had only gotten better, despite Miller’s increasingly unreliable presence. The band’s sound drifted more and more toward the mellow country- and bluegrass-influenced style Miller had brought with him from Tennessee. A few of the blues rock numbers that were Terence Blackwood’s bread and butter still remained, but these no longer represented the bulk of their output. This new album took that even further, and Henry had to wonder how the rest of the band—Blackwood in particular—felt about that. In most bands, a shift like that would have led to at least one angry departure. Somehow, the Details had managed to keep it together without any public drama, unless you counted Miller’s multiple rehab stays and a short stint in jail for public intoxication and possession.

They weren’t planning to record any vocals that day, so Blackwood wasn’t around. The lead guitarist, Steve Smith, and drummer, Kenny Sailes, had entered the studio in the middle of a contentious but good-natured disagreement over which one of them would be harder to replace if they went into rehab. Alex Benton, the bass player, shook Henry’s hand and gave him a one-armed hug.

“Maybe you can settle that argument, Cole,” he said, grinning.

“They can both go, as far as I’m concerned,” Henry said. “You’ll have to tough it out, though, Benton. I don’t like playing bass.”

“You heard him, you assholes. Cole here is gunning for you, and he’s a man of many skills. Watch your backs.”

“Not me. I don’t want to be a rock-and-roll star. I prefer to work for a living.” They all laughed, and Henry said, “So, uh…how is Dell doing, anyway? Rehab working out, I hope?”

The mood turned slightly somber, and they all glanced down at the floor. Finally, Smith shrugged and said, “Terry said the place looked pretty nice, and Dell told him he was actually going to try this time. Who the fuck knows.”

Benton sighed and nodded. Sailes snorted skeptically and muttered, “I think we all pretty much know, Steve.”

“Sorry,” Henry said. “I didn’t mean to—”

“Don’t worry about it,” Benton said. “It’s not your fault. You gotta understand, we’ve been on this ride a few times, man. Dell is…Dell.”

Henry cleared his throat. “Well, anyway—the new songs sound great.”

“The fucked-up hillbilly bastard sure knows how to write a goddamn song. Can’t take that away from him,” Smith said, smiling again. “It’s going to be the best thing we’ve ever done.”

The session went as smoothly as anyone could have hoped for, and Henry left the studio on a serious high. He wanted to get laid, but the thought of calling Richard to see if he wanted company left him restless. As soon as the idea of going to a bar occurred to him, he knew it was exactly what he was looking for. He rarely went out to bars alone, and rarely with the express purpose of finding sex. That night, he felt like a different person.

Henry’s usual haunt, the Westside Clubhouse, was a relatively laid-back place. Guys went there for the same reason they went to any other gay bar, but mainly because it was a place they could relax and be themselves. The drinks were generous, the bartenders were cute but not intimidating, and they all knew Henry. But that wasn’t the kind of place he was in the mood for. Instead, he went to the Hammer and Nail, which he’d heard about but hadn’t yet ventured into.

He stood in line outside the club while the bouncers checked everyone out at the door. While he waited, a couple of guys got turned away for not being fit enough, young enough, handsome enough, or for not fitting who-knew-what other criteria. Henry had been confident when he first queued up, but by the time he got to the front of the line, he was nervous. The tall, blond, muscular bouncer eyed him up and down and motioned him inside without a word, smacking him on the ass as he walked past. The whole process was fairly disgusting, and while Henry was opposed to the attitude in theory, he couldn’t deny that it felt good to know he passed muster.

Inside, the bar was dark and loud. At least half the guys were shirtless, and all of them were beautiful. He bought a gin and tonic and walked through the throngs of sweaty men. He’d need at least two more drinks before he’d be able to get on the dance floor, so he didn’t wander too far from the bar.

“Henry?”

Henry turned around to see a sound technician at one of the studios where he regularly worked. “Hey, man,” he said, searching frantically for the man’s name.

“Pete.”

“Pete, right, of course. I’m sorry. From Blue Door Studios, right?”

Pete nodded. “I didn’t know you were…” He motioned vaguely around the room.

“Yeah, well,” Henry said, smiling lamely and shrugging. “I don’t usually come here, though. It’s not exactly my scene, but I was in some kind of mood tonight. I had a good day.”

“Why? What happened?”

“Laid down some tracks with the Vulgar Details,” Henry said, striving for casual, as if it was the kind of thing that happened every day. “Great stuff.”

“Oh, cool. Was Terry Blackwood there? He’s so sexy.”

“Nope. No Blackwood, and no Dell, of course. He’s the reason I got hired.”

“Right, the drug thing,” Pete said. “Too bad you didn’t get to meet Blackwood though. I bet he’d think you’re cute.”

Henry rolled his eyes. “I have met him. He treated me like the hired help, which I was. And I think those rumors are all bullshit anyway. Just because he partied with Lou Reed or got a blow job from some drag queen—supposedly—doesn’t mean he’s into guys. I think he wants people to think he’s interesting, like Bowie, instead of a second-rate Mick Jagger.”

“Meow!”

Henry gave him a sheepish grin. “I was unaware I had any opinion of him whatsoever until just that moment.”

“Well anyway, a boy can dream.”

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Keelan Ellis is an author of romance and detective fiction, who is always seeking to expand her literary horizons. She is a lover of music and food, and has an intense love/hate relationship with politics. Her stories reflect her passions.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Tour Schedule

8/14    Drops of Ink 

8/14    Hoards Jumble

8/14    Happily Ever Chapter

8/15    Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

8/15    Stories That Make You Smile

8/16    A Book Lover’s Dream Book Blog 

8/16    Erotica For All

8/17    Love Bytes Reviews

8/17    MM Good Book Reviews 

8/18    Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

8/18    Bayou Book Junkie

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BOOK TOUR and Giveaway for Crimson Storm  (The Crimson Nights Saga #3) by V.L Moon & J.T Cheyanne (excerpt)

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Title: Crimson Storm  (Book Three in The Crimson Nights Saga)

Authors: V.L. Moon and J.T. Cheyanne

Cover Art by:   http://www.soxsationalcoverart.com/

Genre/s: Gay, Romance, Paranormal

Length: 155K/658 Kindle pages

ISBN:  978-0-9899725-6-7

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Blurb       

As their allies grow and their circle of friends discovers true love, their enemies advance.

Shadows watch, waiting in the distance as an age old power threatens to reveal the secrets of a past steeped in sorrow.

War is upon them and with its advance comes a force of unity bound by love and sealed by blood.

Together, Malachi and Laziel fight to protect those they hold close.

When Rome trembles and the bowels of Hell spew forth its spawn, the wolves and the rogue Nephilim join forces with Malachi Denali and his vampires to fight against evil and tip the scales in favor of the just.

Fractions divide, lives lay in ruin. Is the call of the wild their only hope of survival?

Or will Rome finally fall under the weight of an angel’s untold grief?

Read on to assuage your thirst as the Crimson Nights Saga continues.

EXCERPT SEVEN

He reached out to take his father’s hand and was immediately drawn into the familiar

warmth of his parents’ embrace. He’d missed it. Missed them. Everything was happening so

fast. Their lives and the world they lived in hurtled toward war. For the briefest of time, Tobias allowed himself the pleasure of his family and what the reality of being with them meant to him. If only Roman was there to experience it.

“Son.” His father’s grip tightened around his fingers, pulling Tobias closer. The power of

the Summus swam around him in a torrent, engulfing him. He drank in the gift. Energy filled

him with life and power. Linked as they were, the outside world ceased to exist. Images of their homelands flickered through his mind to marry with the thoughts plaguing his parents.

Tobias stilled as the beautiful image of his cousin Sage danced through his mind. Her pain

speared his heart. A ravaged growl ripped from his lips. Sage was more like a sister than a

cousin to him. Their families were bound tighter than most. Tobias’s father and Sage’s father were brothers and their mothers were sisters.

“She’s missing. The last link I managed to receive was of her somewhere in Ontario.

She’s putting all of her energy into blocking out her whereabouts, but I was able to collect

enough to know she’s terrified and badly hurt. It’s why I’ve kept the news to myself and

away from the rest of the pack. If what I suspect is true, then she’s shielding to keep herself

safe from Khurn. I can’t risk going after her myself. Not with the Nephilim being here and

the Fae somewhere out there. There’s too much hanging in the balance.”

The pain in Jorn’s words spoke volumes. Sage was more than pack; she was blood kin and

a powerful omega. Hadn’t they suffered enough after losing Khad? Were they going to lose

Sage, too? Tobias refused to let it happen. Not again.

 

Buy Links:

Available on KU

Amazon UK   |   Amazon.com

 

Book 1

 

Book 2

 

The Crimson Nights Saga Book and Review Tour Schedule

Check out the reviews, guest posts, interviews, and exclusive excerpts from Crimson Storm

July 31st

Gay Book Promotions

Hearts On Fire Reviews 

August 1st

Lily G Blunt

Tangents and Tissues

August 2nd

Stories That Make You Smile

August 4th

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

August 5th/6th

Diverse Reader

The Way She Reads 

Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents

My Fiction Nook

Millsy Loves Books

Hoards Jumble

August 7th

Immortal Crimson Reviews

Slashsessed 

August 12th/13th

Alpha Book Club 

Lily’s Reviews 

Bayou Book Junkie

Drops of Ink  

Love Bytes Reviews 

 

 

Meet the Authors

Multi-genre romance and fiction writing duo V.L Moon and J.T Cheyanne span a continental divide to bring together their love, support, and admiration for the LGBT communities they belong to. With their ever growing families’ support, they make the most of what little time they have to write the love, angst, and turmoil that hopefully reflects the struggle that is, modern day life.

 

 

Social Media Links:

Facebook   |   Website    |   VL Moon Twitter   |  JT Cheyenne Twitter

 

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Release Day Blitz for Nate’s Last Tango by Kevin Klehr (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Nate’s Last Tango

Series: Nate and Cameron, Book 2

Author: Kevin Klehr

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: June 26

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 30900

Genre: Contemporary, contemporary, gay, cisgender, cross-dressing, established couple, ghost, vacation

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Synopsis

Nate’s life couldn’t be better. He’s living with his rich boyfriend, Cameron, in New York while being wined and dined all over the city.

But when Nate decides to visit his friends back in Sydney, Cameron suggests they break it off for a while. Cam’s cross-dressing butler is not impressed, and with the help of his lesbian aunt, they drag Cameron down-under to sort out his relationship and take in the sights of Mardi Gras!

With Nate at a loss to what went wrong, he faces the dim reality that love may have run its course.

Excerpt

Nate’s Last Tango
Kevin Klehr © 2017
All Rights Reserved

“I’m nervous,” I said. But my boyfriend, Cam, didn’t hear me. Fortunately, his butler, Roger, did.

“Here you go, Nate.” The loyal servant placed a garishly green cocktail in my hand, complete with a little umbrella. “This will make you so chilled, the next few hours will feel like a hippie folk festival.”

If only that were the truth. I was about to meet Cameron’s parents for the first time, and both he and Roger were busy preparing canapés. They insisted I was as much of a guest as the others were, so I wasn’t to help with the catering.

Instead, I gazed out the window of my boyfriend’s swish New York apartment, trying to imagine what a middle-aged couple who had made their fortune in the funeral trade would be like. My first thought was something as creepy as an older Gomez and Morticia from The Addams Family.

And with that vision came a list of odd relatives I hadn’t met yet. Perhaps a short hunchback that rang church bells. An older brother who slept in the basement during the day and showed off his unusually sharp fangs to unsuspecting women at night. Or a haggard stepsister who kidnapped the neighborhood pets and offered them to pagan gods during midnight rituals.

I watched my boyfriend. He was trying to make art out of smoked salmon and flatbread, but somehow he kept adding too much mayo. The result was something that looked like a squeezed pimple rather than anything you’d put in your mouth. As always, Roger was at his side to fix his creations, and as a pair they worked well.

Through his chic designer glasses, Cam scrutinized what Rog was trying to show him, and he understood until his butler tucked, folded, or did whatever was necessary to make my boyfriend’s attempts look presentable. Although my man wasn’t perfect, that was the very reason I loved him. He’d try. And he had enough people around to support him. His parents had to be equally as supportive, surely.

Any moment they’d swan in the front door, having just flown in from Paris, where they had stayed the night because they’d decided to eat dinner in that romantic city on a whim. His mum, or mom as these Americans say, would offer me her hand adorned in a teal glove and wait for me to kiss it.

His dad would check me out, and while he shook my hand all businesslike, it wouldn’t be until later that his real nature would come out. He’d pull out a joint and tell us about his wild days; of wearing a leather jacket, having wall-to-wall lovers, and the heavy rock band he fronted with regular top-ten hits.

“Would you like another cocktail, Nate?” Roger asked.

“No, I’ve hardly—” My glass was empty.

“Your mind is preoccupied. Let me get you another.”

“No. I don’t want to be drunk before they arrive.”

“Have a cocktail,” said Cam as he ran his finger under a tap after burning it on poached chicken. “If I was in your shoes, I’d be nervous as well.”

Roger took the glass out of my hand and promptly made me another green drink. With the first sip, my mind wandered even more, back to last month.

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Kevin lives with his long-term partner, Warren, in their humble apartment (affectionately named Sabrina), in Australia’s own ‘Emerald City,’ Sydney.

From an early age, Kevin had a passion for writing, jotting down stories and plays until it came time to confront puberty. After dealing with pimple creams and facial hair, Kevin didn’t pick up a pen again until he was in his thirties. His handwritten manuscript was being committed to paper when his work commitments changed, giving him no time to write. Concerned, his partner, Warren, secretly passed the notebook to a friend who in turn came back and demanded Kevin finish his story. It wasn’t long before Kevin’s active imagination was let loose again.

His first novel spawned a secondary character named Guy, an insecure gay angel, but many readers argue that he is the star of the Actors and Angels book series. Guy’s popularity surprised the author.

So with his fictional guardian angel guiding him, Kevin hopes to bring more whimsical tales of love, life and friendship to his readers.

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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.

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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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Release Blitz & Giveaway for Positive Reinforcement by Tamryn Eradani (excerpt)

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Title:  Positive Reinforcement

Series: Daniel & Ryan, Book 4

Author: Tamryn Eradani

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: May 1, 2017

Heat Level: 5 – Erotica

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 14300

Genre: Contemporary, BDSM, Businessmen, Friends to Lovers, gay

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Synopsis

It’s Hell Week at work, which means Daniel hasn’t seen Ryan in what feels like too long. A quiet weekend in is exactly what they need, and Daniel strives to make sure he’s exactly what Ryan needs.

Excerpt

Positive Reinforcement
Tamryn Eradani © 2017
All Rights Reserved

The first time Daniel passes by the conference room, he has a reason—he needs to ask Richards about a client call he made last week, because one of the names on Daniel’s list today is one he’s pretty sure Richards has already contacted. If the name’s an accidental repeat, then he wants to make sure the client isn’t getting double-called.

He knows they have phones and even an interoffice instant messaging system, but he likes the opportunity to stretch his legs when he can. He has a bit of a lull in his day, so it’s no problem to go see Richards in person.

Besides, it gives him the chance to check on Ryan’s meeting.

He and Ryan spent the whole weekend together, at Daniel’s place, and Ryan had warned him they might not see much of each other this week. Marketing is having focus groups all week to figure out the new strategy. At some point, sales will get called in to give their opinion, but for the first few days at least it’s just marketing, and it’s going to take all of Ryan’s time and attention.

Daniel can handle that.

They both knew going in that their arrangement could only last if it didn’t get in the way of work, and if that means a week of not seeing each other except at work then, well, Daniel can do that.

It doesn’t mean he’s not going to check up on Ryan, though.

The conference room has a line of windows between the rest of the office and the room as well as a line of windows that overlook the street below and give a glimpse into the office building next door. None of the blinds are closed, which means Daniel can see in, and, as evidenced by Palmer squinting at his notebook, the sun can stream through freely.

Ryan’s at the head of the table, and Daniel catches a spot of red on his chair which means Ryan’s at least got the nice chair. It’s the little things that matter when you’ve got hours of sitting written into your schedule.

There’s a slight frown on Ryan’s face, as if he’s disagreeing with whatever Richards is saying, but he doesn’t look too miserable.

Not like he does the third time Daniel passes by the conference room. Daniel volunteered to get Tracy a coffee refill, which of course led to a five-minute interrogation of what he’s done wrong (nothing), if he thinks it’s her birthday (obviously not, it’s not for another three weeks, and he’s getting her something better than an office coffee), or if he thinks Tracy looks tired today (no, she looks radiant as ever).

Despite the interrogation, Tracy still eyes him with suspicion, like he can’t do anything nice without an ulterior motive. He would be offended by that but, since he’s getting her coffee as an excuse to walk by the conference room again, he can’t exactly fault her for thinking the way she does.

Ryan’s slumped in his chair now, which can’t be good for his back, and it’s definitely a sign that the meeting isn’t going anywhere good. There are frown lines in his forehead that weren’t there earlier, and there’s crumpled-up aluminum foil scattered across the table, evidence of a working lunch.

There’s only about an inch of coffee left in the pot so Daniel dumps it out and starts a new pot brewing. He knows there’s no way to make office coffee good, but at least he can bring it to Tracy hot.

It does mean his break’s going to be longer than he intended, so he putters around the breakroom as the coffee brews, seeing what’s in the cabinets. Extra boxes of coffee filters, rows of clean mugs, extra boxes of sugar and creamer.

None of that is interesting. On the far side of the room, though, he finds the office supplies closet and that is much more interesting. He’s running low on Post-its and his pen is beginning to look more gray than black, so he picks up two squares of yellow sticky notes and a handful of pens to bring back to his office with him.

He’s pouring Tracy’s coffee when there’s a sudden influx of people—it must be break time for the marketing team too.

Ryan’s the first one in, making a beeline for the coffee. It’s like he’s got blinders on; he doesn’t notice Daniel or anything else around him. He just goes straight for the coffee and then makes the most pathetic face Daniel has ever seen when he’s confronted with two empty coffee pots.

“Here,” Daniel says, handing over the pot he just brewed. “It’s fresh. And hot.”

Ryan startles at the sound of Daniel’s voice, and he looks like he wants to hug him or maybe even kiss him.

“You,” Ryan says, voice deep and serious, “are a lifesaver.”

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Tamryn studied English and Creative Writing in school but has been writing since she could first hold a pencil. Recently, she’s turned her focus towards writing erotica. She enjoys writing stories where sex comes first, then feelings, because doing things out of order can be fun.

Tamryn has spent the past few months writing the Daniel and Ryan series with a lovely view of mountains out her window, and she’s now searching for a new mountain range to serve as her backdrop as she begins her next project.

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Release Day Blitz: Nate and the New Yorker by Kevin Klehr (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Nate and the New Yorker

Series: Nate and Cameron, Book 1

Author: Kevin Klehr

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: May 1, 2017

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 23300

Genre: Contemporary, cisgender, contemporary, cross-dressing, depression, gay, grief, long distance relationship, non-explicit, paranormal, reunited, romance, vacation

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Synopsis

Cameron has it all. He’s rich, lives in Manhattan, and even has a cross-dressing butler. But then he meets Nate, an Australian who’s bitter about love. Cameron is determined to turn this realist into a dreamer by sharing his world of classy restaurants, Broadway shows, and fabulous parties. And while Nate’s friends see the makings of a fantasy romance, it’s Nate who has to learn that in order to open his heart, he has to face a painful secret.

Excerpt

Nate and the New Yorker
Kevin Klehr © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Trailer: https://youtu.be/p3zjFttpjXc

Both Cameron and I had Hawaiian shirts to wear, while Rowena sported a tie-dyed sarong and an afro wig. And around us, interesting guests wore chic little skirts, James Dean–style jackets, hippie gear, and mod wear.

“You haven’t introduced me yet,” said a middle-aged woman to Cameron. Her rust-colored coat had a masculine cut. Yet she elegantly held a long-stemmed cigarette holder with something that smelled very much like a joint burning on the end.

“Sorry,” said my charming American. “This is my friend, Nathan. And this well-dressed lady is my aunt Beverley.”

“Nice to meet you,” I said.

She took my hand and kissed it. “I hope you don’t think me too forward; it’s just that you’ve got such fascinating features.”

“My aunt likes to flirt.”

“It runs in the family,” she replied. She gave me a measured wink. “Now, nephew, where have you been hiding this handsome Englishman?”

“I’m Australian.”

“It’s your accent. I never can tell the difference.”

“I need you!” yelled a girl in a flower necklace. She was the drummer of the band and was addressing our host.

“It’s time,” Cameron said.

“Time for what?” I asked.

He kissed me on the cheek and then headed for the microphone stand.

“You’re in for a treat,” whispered Aunt Beverley, her voice raspy from years of smoking.

“He sings?” I asked.

“He sings,” she replied.

A laid-back strum of the bass guitar started the song, followed by a drum beat. Then the vocal. And before I knew it, I was being serenaded in front of a room full of acquaintances. But, wow! What a unique experience.

“I’ve never seen him go out on a limb for someone like this before,” said his aunt.

I smiled politely, then closed my eyes. He was crooning. His honey voice made my soul rise out of my body and search for a dream. And in the hip nightclub that appeared in my mind, he wore a gray suit with a crimson tie, standing tall in front of the trumpet section who were waiting for their cue. And I was the only one in the club.

“Where are you?” asked Aunt Beverley in a low tone.

I wanted to say I was in love but stopped myself. I realized it was rude to have my eyes closed during Cam’s song. I opened them. He had me in his sights. I wanted to jump into the waves on his Hawaiian shirt and end up on a deserted island with just him and me.

“Would you like a toke of my cigarette, Nathan?”

“No, thank you. I think the fumes have already hit me.”

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Kevin lives with his long-term partner, Warren, in their humble apartment (affectionately named Sabrina), in Australia’s own ‘Emerald City,’ Sydney.

From an early age, Kevin had a passion for writing, jotting down stories and plays until it came time to confront puberty. After dealing with pimple creams and facial hair, Kevin didn’t pick up a pen again until he was in his thirties. His handwritten manuscript was being committed to paper when his work commitments changed, giving him no time to write. Concerned, his partner, Warren, secretly passed the notebook to a friend who in turn came back and demanded Kevin finish his story. It wasn’t long before Kevin’s active imagination was let loose again.

His first novel spawned a secondary character named Guy, an insecure gay angel, but many readers argue that he is the star of the Actors and Angels book series. Guy’s popularity surprised the author.

So with his fictional guardian angel guiding him, Kevin hopes to bring more whimsical tales of love, life and friendship to his readers.

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A MelanieM Review: Shelter the Sea (The Roosevelt #2) by Heidi Cullinan

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Some heroes wear capes. Some prefer sensory sacks.

Emmet Washington has never let the world define him, even though he, his boyfriend, Jeremey, and his friends aren’t considered “real” adults because of their disabilities. When the State of Iowa restructures its mental health system and puts the independent living facility where they live in jeopardy, Emmet refuses to be forced into substandard, privatized corporate care. With the help of Jeremey and their friends, he starts a local grassroots organization and fights every step of the way.

In addition to navigating his boyfriend’s increased depression and anxiety, Emmet has to make his autistic tics acceptable to politicians and donors, and he wonders if they’re raising awareness or putting their disabilities on display. When their campaign attracts the attention of the opposition’s powerful corporate lobbyist, Emmet relies on his skill with calculations and predictions and trusts he can save the day—for himself, his friends, and everyone with disabilities.

He only hopes there isn’t a variable in his formula he’s failed to foresee.

The Roosevelt series by Heidi Cullinan is unusual and quite wonderful to begin with. It’s about young men whose disabilities don’t allow them to live and mostly function in the “mean’, the normal world.  It’s almost guaranteed to make some people uncomfortable enough to not want to pick the books up and read them.  If so, they would be missing out on an astonishing jewel of a series and characters, no people so memorable and heroic I’ve already read this story twice.

The Roosevelt is a special needs living facility, home to Emmet Washington, a highly functioning autistic young man and his boyfriend Jeremey, who has severe anxiety and depression disorders, along with other disabled young adults.  The story alternates between Emmet’s and Jeremey’s pov, a powerful framework.  Cullinan’s strong and moving narrative allows you to delve into each young man’s mind and see how they live with their disabilities, how it affects speech, thinking and even emotions and connectivity to each other.  The commonplace adjustments they make, not only between themselves, but for others within The Roosevelt and visiting friends (this includes making signs that say “silent communication going on”),  well,  time and again, I found my  own preconceptions needing swift readjustments as I was swept more deeply into Emmet and Jeremey’s story and relationship.

There is so much to this  story that the author fits in, easily I must say, that enriches both the characters lives and the story, while letting the narrative progress and flow forward effortlessly.  I found myself learning about service dogs and sensory sacks, about ball pits and great companies but mostly I learned about love, the power of love from Emmet and Jeremey.  Oh, and The Roosevelt Blues Brothers!  I really wish somehow Heidi Cullinan had come up with a pic for that!

Such an extraordinary love story.  Honestly, I think this review is a failing me because I really don’t have the  words I’m searching for to describe how this book made me feel.  The laughter, the tears I shed, the hope it left me with, all the reassessing I’m doing about my preconceived thoughts about disabilities and group homes.  This book shook me up in a good way, in the way books should.

The story starts off with Emmet telling the reader that he accomplished his goals and this is the story of how he did it.  So right away, the tone is one of incredible hope.  That hope carries you through the book, even when things look realistically painful and down, right through to that heartwarming ending. For me, this story is well, perfect in its own way, right up to the title, Shelter the Sea, something that Emmet wants to do. How that works out?  Well, this is a book you should read to find out.  Its one of my Best of 2017.

Cover art is gorgeous and so pertinent to the story.  I love it.

Sales Links

Amazon US, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo,  Smashwords

 

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 190 pages
Published April 18th 2017 by Heidi Cullinan
Original TitleShelter the Sea
ASINB06XYT6SNL
Edition LanguageEnglish
URL http://www.heidicullinan.com/shelterthesea
Series The Roosevelt #2
setting Iowa (United States)

In the Contemporary Spotlight: Solid Ground by Jeff McKown (Guest Post, Play List and giveaway)

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Title:  Solid Ground

Author: Jeff McKown

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: April 24

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: No Romance

Length: 114200

Genre: Literary Fiction, drug/alcohol abuse, family drama, gay, homophobia, humor, infidelity, literary, religion, writer

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Book Playlist

Art Begets Art: Music, Mood, and Words by Jeff McKown

The creation of any work of art is almost always influenced by art that came before. Sometimes the origin of the inspiration is obvious, clearly reflected in the substance or style of a newly created piece — a recognizable brushstroke, the sound a particular instrument makes, the repetition of a familiar literary trope or theme. In these instances, the homage is apparent. Other times though, the impact of one work of art on another is subtle, even imperceptible, the only evidence resting in the mood of the influenced artist or in his somehow altered understanding of the world.

The latter, that unnoticeable sway that seeps quietly into an artist’s consciousness, is the way music influences me when I write. Often, as I sit down to work on a chapter or a scene, I select a musician, or even a particular album or song, that will kidnap my consciousness, drive it far away, and then plop it down in the middle of the mood I’m seeking. I visualize the scene in my head and let the music wash over me, through me. As the music moves and inspires me, it feeds my mood, my vision, and my words — and it becomes art reincarnated, reborn on the page. The end result is not a story or scene that looks or sounds like the music that inspired me as I wrote, but words that evoke the same feelings in the heart of the reader that the music inspires in the heart of the listener.

With respect to my forthcoming novel, Solid Ground, I owe a significant debt of gratitude to several musicians who inadvertently and unknowingly contributed to my work. I’m particularly grateful for the deeply sincere and introspective music of Greg Laswell and Gregory Alan Isakov. Give both of them a listen — particularly, Laswell’s 2013 heartbreaking remake of “Embrace Me” and Isakov’s haunting “Master and a Hound.”  If these songs don’t immediately appeal to you, that doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy Solid Ground, but I’d wager that if you appreciate the feelings these songs stir inside you, you’ll connect with my words and my story.

Synopsis

As Conor McLeish’s fortieth birthday approaches, the life he’s always dreamed of has finally taken shape. He has a steady day job, a debut novel, and Will, his Buddhist boyfriend of nearly a decade. He should be happy. The trouble is, Conor wouldn’t know happy if it smiled, winked, and offered to buy him a drink. With a hard-earned penchant for self-sabotage and an unfortunate Jameson habit, Conor frequently finds a way to disappoint himself and those he loves.

Solid Ground is a story of personal evolution—how we are each sculpted by the past, carved out of childhood, shaped and molded by what we’ve done and by what’s been done to us. For better or worse, who we are is the unavoidable sum of it all. But how we are, how we choose to love, and whether we stand alone in the end, that—at least in part—is up to us.

Excerpt

Solid Ground
Jeff McKown © 2017
All Rights Reserved

I was never worth much. Growing up, I wasn’t particularly clever or funny or handsome. I didn’t sing like an angel or say the darnedest things, and I was never the adorable kid in the tiny plaid vest and bow tie. I played Little League for a while, but I was mostly tucked away in right field, which in retrospect didn’t matter much since no one was there to watch me. My mother was too busy drying out my father to have time for shit like that.

Don’t misunderstand, I wasn’t a bad kid. I didn’t light fires or torture cats. I just wasn’t a kid anyone fought for. If it weren’t for my grandmother, I might never have known there was anything decent in me. June was my one true believer, the only one who waved my flag, tattered piece of shit that it was. She was busy with her own life—sipping whiskey at blackjack tables and flirting with strangers—but she found time to pay attention to me, which in the end is all a kid really wants.

Some people learn from their childhood bullshit. They overcome nearly insurmountable obstacles and get invited to appear on Oprah, where they shine like beacons for the rest of the less fortunate. Others just grow up and make one awful mistake after another. I’ve always been somewhere in the middle, half fuck-up and half hidden-heart-of-gold, the kind of guy you love in spite of the horrible shit he’s done.

*****

I heard Will through the screech of grinding metal parts and the clatter of a thousand porcelain dinner plates crashing to the floor. “You have to let it go, Conor.”

“I can’t.” I glanced down at my phone.

“You can, but you won’t.”

“Who even taught her to text?” I took one hand off the wheel and mashed my reply into the small, flat keyboard.

“Pay attention to the road.”

“I’m being careful.”

“Jerking the steering wheel back after you swerve out of your lane isn’t being careful.”

“I’m using the little bumps in the road the way you’re supposed to—to make corrections.”

He shook his head and sighed. “If you have to keep texting, let me drive.”

“Calm down. It’s bumfuck I-10 on a Saturday morning.” I checked the rearview mirror and turned my attention to an incoming text.

“Bitch,” I whispered as I pounded another reply into the phone.

“Nice. She did give birth to you.”

“It’s not my mom. It’s Aunt Doris.” The phone beeped again and my eyes darted back to the screen.

He rested his hand on my thigh. “Try not to get so worked up. It’s not good for your heart.” I was barely middle-aged, but Will was ten years younger than me. It was a difference he liked to play up.

I smiled and rubbed the top of his hand. “You make me feel lucky.”

“Show your gratitude by keeping me alive all the way to your mom’s house.” His voice was soft and earnest, as though by not sending him to his death in a fiery crash I was doing him a solid.

“Is it too late to turn around?”

“Just keep going.”

Driving across Florida isn’t all palm trees and pink flamingos. There’s plenty of that shit down south, but up north there’s plenty of rural nothing. My dad calls this lonely stretch of the Florida panhandle the “Eglin Desert.” Other than the desert’s namesake air force base, there’s just mile after mile of pine tree-lined interstate, and a light sprinkling of highway exits, each of which leads nowhere and offers little more than a depressing, albeit useful, combination Exxon-Burger King-convenience store.

Beep.

I looked at Will, seeking his permission to check the phone. Two raised eyebrows implored me to stay focused on the road.

I checked the rearview mirror again, turned up the radio, adjusted the air conditioning vents, and then finally snatched at the cell phone in the console, knocking it to the floorboard in the process.

“Fuck.” I fished around blindly on the floor mat.

“Let it go.”

“Not a strength for me.” I hunched low in the driver’s seat, keeping one hand on the wheel as my other hand traced methodical rows across the faux carpet beneath me.

“Jesus Christ!” He thrust his hands onto the dashboard as we veered center and a twenty-ton Peterbilt rocketed toward us. I jammed the brakes and jerked the wheel, steering us out of the overgrown median and back into our lane. A rush of blood raced to my temples, blurring the outside world.

I took a long slow breath and eased the car to the shoulder. “Fine. You drive.”

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Jeff McKown writes fiction. In his work, he is especially fond of exploring tragic flaws, unfortunate circumstances, and the small moments that matter. In life, he obsesses over tennis, politics, and whiskey, not necessarily in that order. He endeavors to be a better Buddhist — which hasn’t always worked out that well. He lives near Monterey, CA with his partner Paul and their best friend, Kyle. Solid Ground is his first novel.

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Tour Schedule

4/24 – Dean Frech

4/25 – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

4/25 – Boy Meets Boy Reviews

4/26 – Happily Ever Chapter

4/26 – Books,Dreams,Life

4/27 – Love Bytes

4/28 – MM Good Book Reviews

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Blog Tour Drama Queens With Love Scenes by Kevin Klehr

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Title:  Drama Queens with Love Scenes

Series: Actors and Angels, book 1

Author: Kevin Klehr

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: April 17

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 72200

Genre: Romance, Literary Fiction, Angels, cisgender, Fantasy, friends to lovers, gay, humorous, Life after death, romance

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Kevin Klehr here today.  He’s brought Pedro, a character from his latest release, Drama Queens with Love Scenes.

✒︎

Meet Pedro, a character from Drama Queens with Love Scenes by Kevin Klehr

While Allan pines for his friend, Warwick, it’s Pedro the playwright who initially steals Warwick’s heart. In Allan’s eyes, Pedro is the villain in this novel.

Pedro arrived in the Afterlife after living in 1920’s New York. He was a struggling artist determined to become a successful stage writer, but his ego was larger than his talent.

He hung out with the wannabes of the theatre, and once sold his soul to write a Christmas pantomime for a kids party held by a rich socialite. Sadly that pantomime was not suitable for children and Pedro’s chance at becoming known in the right circles fell flat.

In the novel he’s finally respected for his craft in the Limelight Quarter, the theatre district of the Afterlife, but whether he deserves to is a matter of opinion.

Synopsis

Close friends Allan and Warwick are dead. They’re not crazy about the idea, so to help them deal with this dilemma are Samantha, a blond bombshell from the 1950s, and Guy, an insecure angel.

Allan also has a secret. He has a romantic crush on his friend, Warwick, but shortly after confiding in his new angel pal, his love interest falls for the cock-sure playwright, Pedro.

Not only does Allan have to win the heart of his companion, he also has to grapple with the faded memory of how he actually died.

Excerpt

Drama Queens with Love Scenes
Kevin Klehr © 2017
All Rights Reserved

She looked like Jayne Mansfield without the attributes. Her cherry-colored wide-brimmed hat complemented her black unbuttoned jacket. A low-cut white dress completed the look. She seemed overdressed and would have looked better wearing a casual pink T-shirt and torn jeans, like a pinup girl sparking the imagination of a lusty army boy. Her pleasing smile said she had been waiting to greet us.

An angel stood next to her, barefoot in old blue jeans and a ripped-sleeved khaki shirt. While he didn’t have the glam factor of the female, his striking dove-gray wings drew focus. They spanned his height and then some, towering above his head by at least an arm’s length. He rarely made eye contact with us and stood hunched with his hands lightly clenched below his navel. His demeanor implied a vanilla hint of gayness.

Just what did we actually get up to last night?

My friend, Warwick, and I safely considered this scene from the doorway of our tiny room.

A moment ago, we had said goodbye to my uncle and his girlfriend, and now we were facing two strangers on what looked like the set of a Greek epic.

Our confused oohs and ahs echoed off the marble black and white tiles, which stretched so far into the horizon they became gray as they met a set of stairs. Each step alternated in color, again black and white. Someone had overdosed on 1980s pop videos when they conceived this design.

“What do you make of the red velvet curtains, classic or uninspired?” I asked my friend.

“Allan, they’re lush. Just lush.”

“Don’t be alarmed, gentlemen,” the Jayne Mansfield look-alike said with an air of whimsy.

As we nodded awkwardly, she shot a concerned glance at the angel and whispered, “Don’t smile like that. It doesn’t match the décor.”

Discouraged, he rolled his eyes and mislaid his smile.

I began biting my thumbnail as my eyes darted between our hosts and the opulent aspects of this room.

“A sex kitten and an angel,” I timidly said to Warwick. “Does this mean…?”

Warwick stepped through the doorway and addressed the angel. “Those wings? Please tell me they aren’t real.”

The angel gracefully flapped them three times before shrugging. I switched my denial into overdrive.

In the past week, Warwick and I had left our chaotic beach-town lives for a little break. My dead-end job was getting me down, and my partner in crime suggested a holiday would be the best remedy. Until this point, he was right. All had been going as planned. We’d visited my uncle Bryant and his new love interest in Melbourne before considering a driving trip around Tasmania. Who could have imagined this strange twist in our plotline?

Our hosts seemed to study us like a diplomat about to shake hands with a head of state. The angel endeavored to smile again, while the blonde bombshell gave us a moment to gauge our bearings. Then her arms extended in greeting like Jesus in a biblical painting.

“My name is Samantha, and this is Guy. We’re here to welcome you.”

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

 

Kevin lives with his long-term partner, Warren, in their humble apartment (affectionately named Sabrina), in Australia’s own ‘Emerald City,’ Sydney.

From an early age, Kevin had a passion for writing, jotting down stories and plays until it came time to confront puberty. After dealing with pimple creams and facial hair, Kevin didn’t pick up a pen again until he was in his thirties. His handwritten manuscript was being committed to paper when his work commitments changed, giving him no time to write. Concerned, his partner, Warren, secretly passed the notebook to a friend who in turn came back and demanded Kevin finish his story. It wasn’t long before Kevin’s active imagination was let loose again.

His first novel spawned a secondary character named Guy, an insecure gay angel, but many readers argue that he is the star of the Actors and Angels book series. Guy’s popularity surprised the author.

So with his fictional guardian angel guiding him, Kevin hopes to bring more whimsical tales of love, life and friendship to his readers.

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Tour Schedule

4/17    Hoards Jumble

4/17    Zipper Rippers

4/17    My Fiction Nook 

4/18    Stories That Make You Smile

4/18    Happily Ever Chapter

4/19    The Novel Approach 

4/19    Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents

4/20    MM Good Book Reviews 

4/21    Love Bytes

4/21    Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words 

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