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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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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A VVivacious Review: Fierce by Rob Rosen

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Rating: 2.5 Stars out of 5
 
Lucas has superpowers or as he likes to call it, he is super. He was raised by wolves, is as hairy as one and is in love with his best friend Craig.  But as luck would have it Craig reciprocates Lucas’ love and also knows his super secret.
 
In the summer before senior year Craig and Lucas start a relationship and become a superhero duo that saves the world, but as they are superheroing the differences between Craig and Lucas become starkly apparent. Will things work out between these two or will this difference of opinions turn them into mortal enemies?
 
I am utterly confused as to whether I liked this book, loved it or barely tolerated it. As I read this book there were parts that I barely tolerated, some that I liked and some that I loved.
 
Let’s start with the things about this book I barely tolerated and the first among those things would be Craig. Early on in the book I mistakenly made the assumption that Craig and Lucas were end game and this made the fact that I didn’t like Craig all that more disquieting. I think quite a few people reading this book would make that assumption, I know I did, but I feel like this book should be read as an adventure that follows Lucas’ life story. Craig falls more in the evil genius than superhero category in this book and his backstory does make him the perfect foil for Lucas’ Fierce (Lucas’ superhero name). 
 
I personally didn’t find the beginning of this book interesting to the extent that if I wasn’t reviewing this book I would have probably quit reading it at this point but having said that I do realize that if I hadn’t continued reading I would have missed the best part of this book.
 
The best part of this book was the dilemma of being a superhero. Almost in all superhero stories the people closest to the superhero are benefitted even if they are in the wrong because well that’s how the story goes and the same thing happens in this one to an extent. But what I liked about this book was that it took that example and made Fierce/Lucas face the truth that even when you do the right thing it will turn out be the wrong thing for someone good, someone who doesn’t deserve the punishment for the justice you have meted out. I think the best part of this book was bringing into focus that superhero stories make the world black and white when the world is rarely so. I loved this book for that and I loved the confused, struggling with himself and his superhero identity version of Lucas.
 
I liked Lucas’ character quite a bit and I understood and fully sympathized with his fervour to find out about his birth parents. But from here on the plot feels a little repetitive, it seemed like all these people did was go to Granite peak and back and up again and back and so on and so forth. Also the resolution of the plot isn’t as cut and dry as I would have liked. I didn’t understand the idea behind the whole revenge plan that happens post Fierce’s rescue and after that the story is all muddled up.
 
For me none of the side characters, except Craig, stood out much. I liked Todd and Lucas and their relationship though I think it is time that someone tells Lucas that he does a very bad job of hiding his superpowers.
 
This book has its moments but you will have to take the good with the bad.
 
Cover Art by Rob Rosen. I liked the cover but why Lucas is wearing glasses on the cover is beyond me a tribute to Superman perhaps?
Sales Links:
Book Details:
ebook, 225 pages
Published March 25th 2017 by JMS Books LLC admin@jms-books.com
ISBN139781634863599
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Leaning Into the Fall (Leaning Into #2) by Lane Hayes

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Lane Hayes is one of my favorite authors, and this story proves why. Faced with a secondary character in a short story who was really the anti-hero—a bisexual guy who jilted his (female) fiancé and disappointed his best friend and business partner—Ms. Hayes decided to give him his own story, in which he demonstrates why he was such a letdown in book one, and then falls into deep and everlasting love with a handsome and sweet older man.

I was skeptical when we first saw Nick in this story—buried nose-deep in code in his and Eric’s IT security business—and seemingly clueless to what’s going on in the rest of the world. He keeps bugging his BFF friend Eric, who’s on a well-deserved honeymoon vacation in Bora Bora, so faced with penalty of death from Eric’s new husband, Zane, (Leaning Into Love) Nick decides to take a break from work and return the wine he purchased as a wedding favor for his own cancelled wedding months ago.

There he runs headlong into Wes Conrad, winery owner, who refuses to allow Nick to return the wine that was labelled with the personal information for Nick’s wedding. It’s company policy not to take it back, and Wes digs in his heels and outright refuses. And so begins the crappiest day of Nick’s life, but also one that turns out to be the day he went head-on with the man who would ultimately become the most important person in his life.

I love the way the author took the time to explain and explore Nick’s issues—issues with antisocial behavior, a constant side focus on the numbers in his head—mathematical equations—that needed to be addressed. She also gave Nick an older, more mature man—one who has lived through multiple life experiences, including the tragic loss of his business, his former lover, and a good friend. Wes has the maturity and the patience to handle Nick, and though wildly attracted to one another from early in the story, there’s no rush into deep and everlasting love. It evolves over time, and every moment and every step of the way is absolutely necessary for this couple. Business deals, takeover possibilities, poor decisions, partnership problems—this story has it all. But most of all? It has a young man who seemed to be irredeemable learn to face his issues and take responsibility for his own actions and then take the leap into falling head over heels with the man he most needs in this world.

That might sound a bit mushy and romantic, but that’s how I saw it. And I have a particular soft spot in my heart for older men who find romance in the MM genre. This one is terrific, and I highly recommend it. Why not a full 5 stars? I couldn’t shake all of the prejudice I had against Nick from the first book. Let’s just say he’s darn lucky he had such a great author to tell his story. And I can’t wait to see if Ms. Hayes has more in store for us in this series. I suspect maybe Nick and Eric’s friend Josh will be next. Can’t wait!

~~~~
Cover by Reese Dante is similar to the first cover in that it features a faceless male torso, with opened shirt, against a background of the San Francisco skyline and bay.

Sales Links

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes 

 

Book Details:

ebook, 228 pages
Published March 15th 2017 by Self Pub
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesLeaning Into #2

Love Contemporary Romance? Check Out Lane Hayes’ Leaning Into the Fall Blog Tour and Giveaway

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Title:  Leaning Into the Fall

Series: Leaning Into Stories, #2

Author: Lane Hayes

Publisher:  Self-Published

Release Date: March 10

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: Approximately 77K words

Genre: Romance, Erotica, Bisexual, humor, San Francisco, May to December romance

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Synopsis

Nick Jorgensen is a quirky genius. He’s made a fortune in the competitive high tech field with his quick mind and attention to detail. He believes in hard work and trusting his gut. And he believes in karma. It’s the only thing that makes sense. People are difficult, but numbers never lie. In the disastrous wake of a broken engagement to an investor’s daughter, Nick is more certain than ever he isn’t relationship material.

Wes Conrad owns a thriving winery in Napa Valley. The relaxed atmosphere is a welcome departure from his former career as a high-rolling businessman. Wes’s laid-back nature is laced with a fierceness that appeals to Nick. In spite of his best intention to steer clear of complications, Nick can’t fight his growing attraction to the sexy older man who seems to understand him. Even the broken parts he doesn’t get himself. However, when Wes’s past collides with Nick’s present, both men will have to have to decide if they’re ready to lean into the ultimate fall.

Excerpt

Leaning Into the Fall by Lane Hayes- Exclusive Excerpt

There was a feral edge to Wes’s intense gaze that made my stomach drop. I didn’t get him. He hadn’t been pleased to see me when I showed up at the winery a second time looking like I’d bathed in a vat of Pinot, but he’d invited me into his house and given me dry clothes anyway. Now he was staring me down, daring me to say or do something stupid so he’d have an excuse to toss my ass back out again.

He moved toward the built-in bar and chose a bottle of red wine from a glass shelf then uncorked the bottle and poured a trace amount of the burgundy liquid into a wineglass. He swirled it expertly so that no portion of the glass was untouched.

“Why do you do that? Is that a necessary wine thing or is it for show?”

Wes glanced up with a frown. “Weren’t you going to change?”

The not-so-subtle dismissal was laced with challenge. Maybe he didn’t like to be questioned. Or maybe he remembered he didn’t actually like me and that it might be best to downgrade the hospitality before I got any crazy ideas about us being new buddies. I wasn’t prone to overanalyze any interpersonal interaction. My instincts were socially iffy anyway.

I kept my eyes locked on his and stepped away from the fire. Then I yanked my sweater over my head and began the arduous chore of unbuttoning my oxford shirt, one tiny button at a time.

“Yes,” I answered with a smile, slipping my ruined shirt over my shoulders.

I opened my mouth to say who knows what, but I lost my train of thought when Wes moved toward me, carrying the bottle and two wineglasses. He set everything on the coffee table, picked up the navy T-shirt and handed it to me.

“Are you gonna help me get dressed?”

My voice sounded lower than normal. I was going for mildly flirtatious and ended up sounding inappropriate. It wasn’t the sort of thing that bothered me usually, but there was something vaguely intimidating about this guy.

“If you need assistance, I’m happy to lend a hand,” he countered with a wry grin.

My blush was instantaneous. I felt exposed and maybe even a little childish, but still turned on. My dick swelled in my khakis and though he wasn’t looking at my crotch, I had a strong feeling he knew where my dirty mind had gone. His intense expression didn’t help. He didn’t blink. Or smile. He simply held my gaze until I grabbed the shirt from him and yanked it over my head like a petulant teenager.

Wes chuckled softly and then bent to pour the wine. I rested my fingers on my belt and studied his profile. The silver highlights at his temple glinted in the firelight. The contrast of color gave him an appealing distinguished look. I didn’t care how old he was. Wes Conrad was hot. And gay.

Not that I was interested, of course. It was just an observation.

Purchase

Lane Hayes Website

Meet the Author

Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and were winners in the 2016 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in an almost empty nest.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Tour Schedule

3/15 – Love Bytes Reviews

3/15 – MM Book Escape

3/15 – Zipper Rippers

3/17- Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

3/17 – Books, Dreams, Life

3/21 – Joyfully Jay

3/21 – V’s Reads

3/21 – Divine Magazine

3/21 – The Novel Approach

3/23 – Prism Book Alliance

3/23 – Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

3/23 – BFD Book Blog

3/29 – Alpha Book Club

3/29 – Bayou Book Junkie

3/29 – Boy Meets Boy Reviews

3/31 – MM Good Book Reviews

3/31 – Dog-Eared Daydreams

3/31 – Reviews by Tammy and Kim

3/31 – Happily Ever Chapter

3/31 – Top 2 Bottom Reviews

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A Caryn Review: Hipster Brothel by K.A. Merikan

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Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

hipster-brothel-by-k-a-merikanFrom the very first sentence, I was laughing at the way the authors poked fun at pretty much every stereotype that exists about hipsters.  And there were probably an awful lot I missed too, because in my neck of the woods – Southwest Florida – we aren’t exactly on the cutting edge of anything, so I’m not exactly current with hipster culture. 

Jo is a Chinese-American who wears a man bun, is an edgy dresser who spends a lot on shoes, rides a bicycle, lives in his parent’s basement, and works part time writing (I forget what, but I’m sure it was ironic).  He is bisexual, but has only dated and had sex with girls in the past, having never found a man that he thought was worth the extra effort.  His best friend, Mr. B, really is Jo’s ideal man, but Mr. B has a serious long term boyfriend and Jo doesn’t poach, though he’s not above a little fantasizing…

Until Mr. A breaks up with Mr. B.

B is the original lumbersexual.  He’s a big, blond, bear of a man.  He makes furniture – upcycled, of course – has a full beard, lives in a converted train car in the woods.  But he’s also sweet, cheery, an absolute teddy bear, and he’s been crushing on Jo for a long time but had no idea that Jo is not entirely straight.  When Mr. A breaks up with him after a 5 years relationship, he is not quite devastated – after all, he saw this coming months before it happened – but his self esteem definitely took a hit.  He also quit his job making furniture for the shop Mr. A owned, knowing it would be too awkward to remain there.  Jo is the perfect friend to invite over for some drunken commiserating – over home brewed peach brandy naturally – and while Mr. B rants about everything that was wrong with his relationship with Mr. A, and with him, he and Jo come up with a new life plan. 

They are going to be partners in a business making home made jam, with booze, and sell it at farmer’s markets.

But they need to get some seed money to get the venture going.  And that is where all the drunken rambling and joking come together in Mr. B deciding to market himself as the “Lumbersexual Experience”, complete with pipe smoking lessons and wood chopping exercises in his rustic refurbished train car, AKA hipster brothel.  As he says, “I’m single, I’m open-minded…Sharing economy, right?  Someone lacks sex and I have a nice body.”

I love it when an author can make something so ridiculous work!

Unfortunately, those were the best parts of the book.  Although the comedy didn’t disappear, once they started to have sex – and that’s a really big part of the book – it was as if the book was trying to be a typical contemporary romance instead.  So we have two men who don’t speak their minds, make assumptions which lead to misunderstandings, which delays the inevitable moment when they finally get together.  I wish there had been fewer sex scenes, and more mockery of the hipster culture that made the opening chapters so good.

Despite that, it was a fun, quick, read, Mr. B was adorable, and Jo was a great foil to him.

Cover art by Natasha Snow was a great lumbersexual, although I pictured Mr. B with a cute, open grin instead of the self satisfied smirk seen on this model.

Sales Links

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2jHLexz | Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2iTzSt7

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 162 pages
Published January 24th 2017 by Acerbi & Villani ltd (first published January 22nd 2017)
Original TitleHipster Brothel
Edition LanguageEnglish

Aidee Ladnier on Writing, Life and her release ‘The Applicant (Busted Labs #1)’ (excerpt, interview and giveaway)

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the-applicant-by-aidee-ladnier

The Applicant (Busted Labs #1) by Aidee Ladnier
D
reamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht

Buy Your Copy Today at 

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to be interviewing  Aidee Ladnier today.  Welcome, Aidee!

~

Our Interview with Aidee Ladnier!

Thank you so much for inviting me on your blog today! I’m excited to be posting about my new book, THE APPLICANT. I love my characters Forbes and Oliver, and I’m looking forward to sharing them with your readers.

  • Were you an early reader or were you read to and what childhood books had an impact on you as a child that you remember to this day and why?I was definitely an early reader and read my first book (Dr. Seuss’s One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish) before I started kindergarten. But the stories I remember loving the most were the fairy tales. I had several books by the Grimm Brothers, Charles Perrault and Hans Christian Anderson. I remember loving the scary situations and the happy endings. I’d read them over and over again until I knew them by heart.
  • How early in your life did you begin writing?I began writing around twelve years old. My first stories were inspired by dreams and books I was reading. I wrote one early story about an intergalactic romance, another about a girl pirate, and another about a girl with a ghost best friend. I wrote short stories in high school and even published a little, but gave up fiction in college for academic writing. It’s only been in the last few years I’ve taken up fiction again.
  • If you were to be stranded on a small demi-planet, island, or god forbid LaGuardia in a snow storm, what books would you take to read or authors on your comfort list?This is a difficult question. I have so many good books on my phone. I guess if I had to choose, I’d definitely take a full set of Shakespeare’s works. He had such an amazing insight into human beings. All his best characters are flawed and know their flaws, either working to change or worse, unable to escape them. For mysteries, I’d take the complete Sherlock Holmes stories of Arthur Conan Doyle. I’ve been reading Sherlockiana since my pre-teens. Anytime I want to break down a simple mystery, I study those. If I get to take fantasies, it will always be the Lord of the Rings books by J.R.R. Tolkien. Science fiction is a little harder. I have a lot of favorites there—Isaac Asimov, Ursula LeGuin, Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, Lois McMaster Bujold. I’m afraid I couldn’t choose between those. And romance…don’t tell anyone, but I’m a total Jennifer Blake fanatic. Her heroes are to die for.
  • Can a author have favorites among their characters and do you have them?Personally, I think all of an author’s characters are their favorites. Otherwise why would they write them? But I have to say, Forbes and Oliver hold a special place in my heart. Their love story never runs smooth no matter what timeline they inhabit. It’s as if they’re pulled to each other. Despite their troubles, they keep coming back to each other again and again.
  • Contemporary, supernatural, fantasy, or science fiction narratives or something else?  Does any genre draw you more than another when writing it or reading it and why does it do so?I adore science fiction, fantasy, paranormal, and mysteries the most. I love a good romance, but I want a little something extra to add a zing. Science fiction is the fiction of possibilities, to paraphrase Ray Bradbury. It’s such a hopeful genre. The paranormal and mysteries have always drawn me because I like questions. A mystery with a satisfying conclusion scratches that curious itch.
  • Are you a planner or a pantzer when writing a story? And why?I’m a little of both. I love to plot. Ruminating about a story is one of my favorite pastimes. I often outline a story down to the nth detail only to sit down to write and the story run off in the opposite direction! But I must admit, it’s tons of fun to see a story develop on its own.
  • Where do you normally draw your inspiration for a book from?  A memory, a myth, a place or journey, or something far more personal?That’s an interesting question. A story can arise from anywhere. It might be a phrase someone says, or a news item I read, sometimes a place I visit. THE APPLICANT includes on two of my favorite things, robots and time travel. I loooove robots. I wanted to write a “not very mad scientist” story and including a robot was a must. Then I realized he’d have to have a reason to build the robot and the cuddly juggernaut that became Forbes’s teddy bear robot was born. I thought Forbes would want to create a friend for children who felt small like he had as a smart little boy attending college alongside older teenagers and adults.
  • If you were writing your life as a romance novel, what would the title be?Right Beside You. I’m married to a great guy. I met him in college and we became fast friends but ONLY friends. We stayed friends even though I married Mr. Wrong and he married Miss Even More Wrong. So when he was divorced and then I divorced, we both commiserated on being single and started hanging out together again. But all our friends kept telling us we should quit with the friends stuff and date instead. Just to shut them up, we finally went out on a date. And we both really liked it. We liked it enough that we married 20 years after the first time we met. So the perfect guy I was searching for was right beside me.

So now that you know a little more about me, what would your romance novel be titled? Tell me down in the comments!

✯✯Giveaway✯✯

Don’t forget to sign up for my Rafflecopter Giveaway. There are prizes and gift cards! Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

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Blurb

How can something so cuddly and adorable be so destructive? The teddy bear robot decimating his lab is only the first disaster of the day for roboticist Forbes Pohle. If he can figure out how to end its rampage, he still has to interview applicants for the position of research assistant and convince the time-traveler on his doorstop that they should be making their future right now. Oliver Lennox didn’t travel back in time to have a quickie in the blast chamber—but it certainly is fun. This younger Forbes is a sweeter, more innocent version of his lover. And it will be hard to leave him behind in the past.

If you like sexy nerds, humor, plenty of action, and a love story not even time can disrupt, this romantic adventure has the perfect credentials for the job. 

Available from Dreamspinner Press

Excerpt from THE APPLICANT by Aidee Ladnier

Forbes Pohle worked the needle-nose pliers carefully behind the eye sensors of his teddy bear. He needed to make one little adjustment—

The buzzer on the door sounded, nerve-jangling and insistent, from the speaker overhead.

Startled, Forbes jerked the wire he was fiddling with free from its connection, rendering the small robot blind. The head-plate spring snapped, and the access panel clipped his hand as it closed. Forbes swore and shook his stinging fingers as the front door buzzer blared again.

Frustrated, he threw down the pliers and ran both hands through his mop of brown hair. Reacting to the clatter, the tiny robot turned its head left and then right before running off the table.

Luckily the teddy bear caught itself with its face when it hit the floor.

Undaunted, the bear scrambled to its furry feet and darted toward the other side of the lab. Forbes sighed at the sound of another imperative buzz.

“You won’t get the job if you don’t stop with the doorbell.” He stood and shoved the ends of his wrinkled white dress shirt back into his khaki pants. He typed in the power-down sequence for the bear before shutting the lab door and walking toward the front of the house. His visitor had graduated to using the door buzzer as percussion, the drone now going off and on in a jaunty rhythm.

Forbes still wasn’t sold on hiring a research assistant, but he wanted a lab assistant and he needed an administrative assistant.

Most of all, he longed for a friend.

Hiring someone wasn’t the best way to go about finding one, but working with somebody was a good start, right?

Forbes checked his reflection in the foyer mirror. The dark brown of his eyes was almost invisible against the bloodshot whites. His stomach rumbled, and he promised himself he’d take a break and eat as soon as the interview concluded.

At the next buzz, he spun and yanked open the large front door. Holy crap.

He wished he’d gotten a little sleep last night instead of staying up to tinker with the bear.

A wiry man stood on Forbes’s doorstep. He was dressed in a T-shirt, tight black jeans, black nail polish, and red Chuck Taylors. His strawberry blond hair was spiked up in front. The corners of his eyes and his freckled nose wrinkled.

Forbes blinked back his surprise and opened his mouth, expecting words to come out. He cleared his throat and tried again. “Come in.” Forbes waved him inside the house. “I’m Forbes Pohle. I’m the one who posted the job listing.”

The man grinned and held out a hand. “Very pleased to meet you, Dr. Pohle. I’m Oliver Lennox. Please call me Oliver.”

Forbes blushed at the title as he clasped Oliver’s warm hand. Forbes was a PhD three times over, but he hadn’t put that in the advertisement.

“If you’ll come this way, we can talk in the lab.” He turned and walked back down the hallway to the adjacent laboratory, assuming the applicant would follow.

“Oh, I didn’t come about…,” Forbes heard him say before he ran into Forbes’s back. To be fair it wasn’t his fault. Forbes had stopped short in the lab doorway.

During the few minutes he’d stepped out to answer the door, the laboratory had been destroyed.

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About the Author

Aidee Ladnier, an award-winning author of speculative fiction, began writing at twelve years old but took a hiatus to be a magician’s assistant, ride in hot air balloons, produce independent movies, collect interesting shoes, fold origami, send ping pong balls into space, and amass a secret file with the CIA. A lover of genre fiction, it has been a lifelong dream of Aidee’s to write both romance and erotica with a little science fiction, fantasy, mystery, or the paranormal thrown in to add a zing.

You can find her on her blog at http://www.aideeladnier.com or on her favorite social media sites: 

E.J. Russell on Characters and their release ‘Clickbait’ by E.J. Russell (guest post and giveaway)

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Clickbait by E.J. Russell
R
iptide Publishing
Cover art by L.C. Chase

Read an Excerpt/Buy it Here

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have E.J. Russell here today talking about Gideon, one of the characters in Clickbait and the Geeklandia series.  Welcome, E.J.!

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Gideon: A Peek Before Clickbait

Clickbait is actually the second book in my Geeklandia series about a group of friends in Portland—roommates Charlie, Gideon, and Lindsay, their sidecar friend Toshiko—and their search for romance, wherein geeks pair with non-geeks, much to everyone’s astonishment. Gideon, one of the co-heroes of Clickbait, made his grand entrance in the first book, Lost in Geeklandia, where he helps his BFF Charlie overcome her gawkitude and land her man. (Charlie appears in Clickbait as well, as do Toshiko and Lindsay—who’s the sister of Gideon’s co-hero, Alex.)

This is a deleted scene from Lost in Geeklandia, where Gideon (in his Noel Coward-inspired red brocade dressing gown) tries to prep Charlie for her next interaction with her childhood friend and later nemesis, Daniel (whom Gideon refers to as He-man). She has thirty days to turn Daniel into her boyfriend or lose the chance at her dream job—and the clock is ticking.

Gideon tapped his fork on the empty Tupperware bowl. “Attention, please. Back to He-man. Tell me you at least managed a good-night kiss.”

Charlie’s cheeks heated as if she’d dry-roasted them along with the peanuts in the snack smorgasbord. “Of course I didn’t. We’re talking about Daniel Shawn. It would be easier for me to manage a good-night kiss from Chris Pine.”

“Charles, Charles, Charles. Whatever am I going to do with you? Stop thinking of him as a threat and think of him as an opportunity.” He popped off the barstool. “Let’s SWOT this.”

Lindsay stopped mashing avocado and wiped her forehead with the back of one wrist, her expression troubled. “I know you’re trying to help, Gideon, but do you really think it’s okay for Charlie to hit Daniel?”

He patted her cheek. “S-W-O-T, darling, not S-W-A-T. Strength, weakness, opportunity, threat. Standard management exercise, as Charles would know if she’d taken any business classes amid all the technobabble.”

“It’s hard to take you seriously as a management consultant when you’re dressed like Raul Julia as Gomez Addams,” Charlie grumbled.

“Gomez wore a smoking jacket, not a dressing gown. Stop focusing on inconsequentials.”

Gideon plucked the magnetized dry erase marker off the refrigerator and slashed a grid on the whiteboard they used for their grocery list. In giant letters, he scrawled an S and a W across the top row. “This represents your internal organization. Whatever you perceive as your own.” He added an O and a T down the left side. “This represents the Other. The outer world. Things you don’t control.”

“I’m not sure I control anything.”

“Stop it. See.” He pointed to each letter with the marker. “Strength. Weakness. Opportunity. Threat. Your weakness is this unaccountable need you have to hide your talents under a virtual bushel. Your strengths are legion, but when it comes to Daniel, you forget that you are a smart woman and act like a freaking moron.”

Charlie glared at him. “Don’t you have a hot date to get to?”

Gideon’s gaze flew to the clock above the sink. “God. I’m late. Only concern about your sex life could distract me from my own.” He smacked the marker back on the refrigerator. “Think about it. There’ll be a test later.”

He disappeared down the hall in a billow of red satin.

About Clickbait

After the disastrous ending of his first serious relationship, Gideon Wallace cultivated a protective—but fabulously shiny—outer shell to shield himself from Heartbreak 2.0. Besides, romance is so not a priority for him right now. All his web design prospects have inexplicably evaporated, and to save his fledgling business, he’s been compelled to take a hands-on hardware project—as in, his hands on screwdrivers, soldering irons, and needle-nosed pliers. God. Failure could actually be an option.

Journeyman electrician Alex Henning is ready to leave Gideon twisting in the wind after their run-ins both on and off the construction site. Except, like a fool, he takes pity on the guy and offers to help. Never mind that between coping with his dad’s dementia and clocking all the overtime he can finagle, he has zero room in his life for more complications.

Apparently, an office build-out can lay the foundation for a new relationship. Who knew? But before Alex can trust Gideon with the truth about his fragile family, he has to believe that Gideon’s capable of caring about more than appearances. And Gideon must learn that when it comes to the heart, it’s content—not presentation—that matters.

Now available from Riptide Publishing. http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/clickbait

About E.J. Russell

E.J. Russell holds a BA and an MFA in theater, so naturally she’s spent the last three decades as a financial manager, database designer, and business-intelligence consultant. After her twin sons left for college and she no longer spent half her waking hours ferrying them to dance class, she returned to her childhood love of writing fiction. Now she wonders why she ever thought an empty nest meant leisure.

E.J. lives in rural Oregon with her curmudgeonly husband, the only man on the planet who cares less about sports than she does. She enjoys visits from her wonderful adult children, and indulges in good books, red wine, and the occasional hyperbole.

Connect with E.J.:

Website: ejrussell.com
Blog: ejrussell.com/bloggery/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/E.J.Russell.author
Twitter: twitter.com/ej_russell
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/ejrussell/

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Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Clickbait, one lucky winner will receive $25 in Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on December 10, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

Re-Release Day Blitz & Giveaway for Settling the Score by Eden Winters

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Title: Settling the Score

Author: Eden Winters

Publisher: Rocky Ridge Books

Release Date: 10/6/2016

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 86,000 words

Genre: Romance, Humor, Age Difference, Movie Star, Author, Small Town, Mechanic, Getting Even

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Synopsis

Outed and dumped on national television by his rising star boyfriend, Joey Nichols must face the bigotry of the locals in his small Southern town alone. His dreams of a happy ever after lie crushed at his feet.

Novelist Troy Steele has an axe to grind against Hollywood heartbreaker types. Transforming Joey into a gorgeous, unobtainable hunk would be payback worthy of Troy’s poison pen. It’s a brilliant way to get back at Joey’s image-obsessed ex-boyfriend and the movie producer who’s mutilating Troy’s novels.

What begins as simple revenge may tangle them together in something far more complicated. Living well may be the best revenge, but Troy and Joey could rewrite that to loving well.

Excerpt

The Nichols’ dining room table could easily seat six people if it weren’t covered with business records, homework, and car parts. Instead of clearing it off, the family assembled in the living room, parents on the couch, Joey and his sisters on the floor. Overloaded plates balanced on each lap.

“Hush, it’s starting,” Joey’s mom warned, mostly to thirteen-year-old Stacey.

“Oops! Gotta go!” Stacey disconnected her call and dropped her phone onto the floor.

Joey and Jackie were quiet already, Joey afraid he’d miss something important if he so much as blinked.

Ten years separated him and his twin from Stacey. Mom often joked that it had taken her that long to forget the horrors of giving birth enough to try again.

Dad blamed his cousin’s homebrew.

“Good evening, I’m Evelyn Hugh. Welcome to Hollywood Seen. Tonight’s hottie, err, I mean, hot story”—the show’s hostess began, grin unapologetic—“is a young man who’s got all of Hollywood talking. Riker Sanderson has what it takes to survive in this town: looks, talent, and a legion of screaming fans.”

On cue, the camera focused on the audience, where the legion, mostly young and female, chanted, “Riker! Riker!”

“Sorry to disappoint you girls. Rumor has it that Mr. Sanderson is taken.” Evelyn pouted for the camera. “Or is he? Joining me tonight is none other than Riker Sanderson, star of the action thriller, Something to Die For.”

Taken? Joey swallowed hard. Surely she couldn’t mean…

The camera zoomed out, showing the beautiful man who’d stolen his heart and who’d shared his apartment up until a few months ago. Riker, more muscled thanks to a heavy training routine for the movie, sported gold highlights in his now much shorter hair. He looked downright sinful in tight-fitting T-shirt and jeans.

Joey idly toyed with the silver band on his middle finger, a nervous habit, before noticing its mate missing from Riker’s hand. Maybe he’d taken it off for the movie. It didn’t mean anything. No, nothing at all.

All worries disappeared when Riker slowly raised a simmering gaze to the camera. Something clenched deep in Joey’s insides. Those dark eyes hypnotized him, even if they were on a TV screen and not actually in the room. Bedroom eyes intense enough to cause instant paralysis. How many times had Joey lost himself in them, lying in a sweaty, satisfied tangle with Riker?

“Thank you for joining us,” the bleached-blonde hostess gushed, a woman Big Joe said gave him gout.

“Why does she do that to her hair?” Mom asked. “She’s ruined it.” She added the tried and true statement guaranteed to grant forgiveness for any unkindness spoken by a Southerner: “Bless her heart.”

With her whiney voice and constant fawning, Evelyn Hugh reminded Joey of one of the teenaged fans. “I can call you Riker, can’t I?”

“Sure, if I can call you Evelyn.” Her ordinary name sounded exotic when spoken in Riker’s deep tones. That was his gift. He could make anyone feel like the most important person on the planet just by talking to them. Joey had warmed himself by Riker’s fire on many a cold winter’s night.

“I loved you in the romantic comedy, Trying the Knot, filmed in your home state of Georgia. Although only a minor supporting role, your portrayal of the obnoxious cousin at the wedding turned out to be a real scene-stealer and resulted in your big break, didn’t it?”

Riker hadn’t really wanted the cousin role that required him to wear a fat suit and play a backwoods redneck, even if he’d had to beat out a lot of other hopefuls for the part.

“Well, Evelyn,”—Riker turned puppy dog eyes on the hostess—“I’d originally auditioned for the role of Chuck.”

“The pain-in-the-ass playboy who seduced several bridesmaids? Oh, you’re too sweet to play such a cad.”

“You’re too kind.”

A better-known actor had won the honors of playing asshole Chuck. Riker had stormed around the apartment for days.

Riker smiled like he’d hit the jackpot by missing the role. “Actually, I found the cousin part more intriguing. I mean, it stretched my acting skills to play someone so unlike myself.”

“Oh, please, I’m trying to eat here,” Jackie spat.

Joey flashed her a quick evil eye and went back to watching TV.

What a tantrum Riker had thrown about “playing a hick nobody.” In the end he took the money, and assurances from his agent of appearing with a few big stars being a good career move and a way to get noticed.

But he’d done the part enough justice to bring Hollywood knocking.

“What an amazing experience,” the man of Joey’s dreams replied, though that’s not what he’d called it to friends. “It really helped me grow as an actor.” He’d privately referred to the part as beneath someone of his talent and his own personal hell.

“What’s it like working with powerhouse actress Clair Clancy?”

Joey lost the battle to keep a straight face. He’d gotten more earfuls about “Clair, the air-headed bitch.” She’d only spoken to Riker twice during filming when their roles overlapped.

Onscreen, Riker described her as, “An amazing actress. A true professional.” He waved at the camera. “Congrats on the birth of your little girl, Clair. You’ll be an amazing mother.” This from the man who’d wanted to pass a law making it illegal for the woman to breed. Wow, what a good actor. For a moment even Joey believed him.

“In a real-life Cinderella story, a relatively unknown actor is chosen for the lead role of Mitchell Keller in the biggest film of the year. How’s that working out for you?” Evelyn leaned her head on Riker’s shoulder, eyeing him through batting lashes. How dare she? She needed to back off.

A punch to the shoulder brought Joey back to reality, breathing hard and fingernails digging into the palms of his clenched fists.

“She does that with everybody,” Jackie murmured. “What’s your problem, anyway?”

Joey took a deep breath and let it out slowly, a flush creeping up his cheeks.

After what could have been two years, or more probably, two seconds, Riker answered, “It’s really amazing.”

“Doesn’t he know any adjectives besides amazing?” Stacey cut in. “I mean, really! He’s an actor, he’s supposed to be good with words.” Oops, the last holdout in the family swayed to the “We don’t like Riker” side.

Joey ignored her. He’d show them. Soon he’d be living the good life, basking in the California sun. He and Riker had even talked about getting married.

“…and my producer, Ian Hagan, is amazing,” Riker was saying.

Stacey made an “I told you so” face.

Their mother swatted her arm, nipping in the bud whatever sarcastic remark she’d been about to sling.

Riker plowed on. “He took a huge chance in hiring an unknown for such a major role, and I’m grateful he believes in me. I’ve done everything I can to make sure he doesn’t regret taking a risk. We’ve wrapped up the final scenes. Now it’s in post-production, where they’ll add the Hollywood magic.”

What? Riker said a few hours ago that they were still shooting. Well, maybe they had to reshoot some parts.

“Oh, that’s fabulous.” Evelyn’s fake smile lost its battle to look sincere.

Joey knew how she felt. The standing local rule: Never mention acting around Riker unless you had a least an hour and didn’t mind listening. Folks in town phrased their words very carefully.

“Now, Riker, I know you’ve heard the rumors and seen the pictures posted on the Internet of yourself with someone who is apparently very close to you.”

Joey’s heart pounded and his ears rang. Rumors? Pictures? He peeped over at Jackie, who sat up straighter and put her plate down on the floor.

The smile fled Riker’s face, and he wore the same pleading expression he’d used to get out of cooking. “Yes, I have. For the record, I’d like to state that my personal life isn’t anyone else’s business.”

Oh, shit! What had they found out?

“Breathe, Joey,” Jackie urged.

No matter how he tried, Joey couldn’t, because Evelyn dropped a bomb. “Are you gay?”

Oh, my God! They’d been careful since Riker signed the movie deal. How had anyone suspected? Sure, in a few months maybe, when they were ready. Not now!

Jackie stiffened and Joey held his breath.

“Yes, Evelyn, I am.” Riker sighed, his anguished eyes filling with tears. Joey had never seen anyone who could cry on demand quite so convincingly, not even Stacey. “I’m not ashamed of being a gay American, and I don’t see how my orientation has any bearing on my acting ability.”

“I knew it!” Stacey shrieked. Jackie shushed her. Joey ignored her again.

Evelyn scented blood and went for the throat—her trademark. “The man shown with you in the pictures, is he your boyfriend?”

Man in the pictures? Boyfriend? Surely it couldn’t be… Who the hell were they talking about? If it wouldn’t have given too much away, Joey would have made a mad dash to his parent’s aging computer to find out. Evelyn Hugh moved much too slowly. Stomach too queasy to eat, Joey plopped his uneaten meal down on the coffee table.

Riker sat quietly gazing into the camera and Joey almost heard the wheels turning under that mop of highlighted hair. Finally, his lover became his ex-lover with the casually spoken, “I guess you could say we were in a relationship at the time. Nothing serious. We’ve decided to cool things down while I focus on my career.”

What!? Nothing really serious?! Joey gaped at the screen, a flash fire creeping up his cheeks all the way to his ears. Did Riker mean him? A boulder formed in his throat.

They’d talked about forever. He gasped for breath, unable to turn away from the train wreck of his life unfolding on national television.

“Yes, it’s true.” Riker used the same sorrowful tone the hick cousin had during a big scene in Trying the Knot. “I mean, he’s back home, I’m here. It wouldn’t work out.”

Jackie might have snapped, “Oh, cry me a river!” Joey was too caught up in his own personal drama to know for sure.

He knows I’m watching! He knows I’m seeing this! Why is he coming out now? Why couldn’t he tell the nosy woman it’s none of her damned business?

Riker focused directly on the camera, as if seeking Joey out. “Yeah, we kind of grew out of each other. It’s time to move on.”

“I certainly appreciate your candor, and I’m sure there’s plenty of people around town willing to keep you company.” Evelyn sat up, patting at her hair. “We all look forward to your upcoming movie. It’s sure to be a blockbuster. Thank you for joining us.”

Joey dared not dart out of the room like he wanted to and give too much away. At the moment the family only knew that he’d had a gay roommate. Should he act surprised?

The camera left Riker and zoomed in on the hostess. Joey saw her through a glaze of tears and fears. “Remember that you heard it first on Hollywood Seen.” Her goofy grin dimmed a few watts. “Now, here’s another Hollywood Seen exclusive, the photographs that started it all. Last month they began circling the Internet. Until tonight, spokesmen for Mr. Sanderson firmly denied their authenticity. A pity, really. They made such a handsome couple, don’t you agree?”

Joey’s reality crumbled, replaced by a nightmare. The TV screen filled completely with an image of Riker and himself dancing at the club in Atlanta, Riker’s leg wedged between Joey’s, Joey’s mouth locked to his lover’s neck and his crotch pressed against Riker’s denim-covered thigh.

Oh dear God! He looked like a humping vampire!

The image lasted forever. Enough already, take it down! He’d been stripped naked. Laid bare, all his deepest, darkest secrets exposed.

Calm down, no one can tell it’s you. Maybe they’ll think it’s someone out in Hollywood. That hope dashed to pieces with another picture, probably taken shortly after the first. In it, Joey and Riker both faced the camera. The hostess delivered the killing blow. “Our sources tell us that the man in the picture with Riker Sanderson is Joseph Nichols, Jr., with whom Riker lived in Georgia before moving to California.”

Joey fumbled his cell phone out of his pocket and barely managed to hit the right number. Instead of one of the ever-changing heavy-metal ringtones Riker used, a recorded message stated flatly, “The number you have dialed has been disconnected…”

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Rocky Ridge Books | Amazon | Allromance eBooks

Settling the Score SquareMeet the Author

Author AvatarYou will know Eden Winters by her distinctive white plumage and exuberant cry of “Hey, y’all!” in a Southern US drawl so thick it renders even the simplest of words unrecognizable. Watch out, she hugs!

Driven by insatiable curiosity, she possibly holds the world’s record for curriculum changes to the point that she’s never quite earned a degree but is a force to be reckoned with at Trivial Pursuit.

She’s trudged down hallways with police detectives, learned to disarm knife-wielding bad guys, and witnessed the correct way to blow doors off buildings. Her e-mail contains various snippets of forensic wisdom, such as “What would a dead body left in a Mexican drug tunnel look like after six months?” In the process of her adventures she has written sixteen m/m romance novels, has won several Rainbow Awards, was a Lambda Awards Finalist, and lives in terror of authorities showing up at her door to question her Internet searches.

When not putting characters in dangerous situations she’s a mild-mannered business executive, mother, grandmother, vegetarian, and PFLAG activist.

Her natural habitats are airports, coffee shops, and on the backs of motorcycles.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | eMail

Giveaway

One lucky winner will win an ebook copy of Settling the Score and an ebook copy of Diversion.

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Cover Reveal for A Kind of Honesty (A Kind of Story #3) by Lane Hayes (cover reveal and giveaway)

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A Kind of Honesty Reveal BannerTitle: A Kind of Honesty

Series: A Kind of Story, #3

Author: Lane Hayes

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Release Date: October 7, 2016

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 85K

Genre: Romance, Bisexual, Rock star, NYC, humor

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Synopsis

Music is Tim Chalmers’s great escape and the one thing that’s never let him down. But his band Spiral’s meteoric rise to fame has made it difficult for the drummer to maintain a low profile. Unwanted press pesters him after a public breakup with a volatile ex-girlfriend who loves the limelight as much as he loathes it. Tim’s main goal is to avoid confrontation. However, when he meets a handsome stranger in a dive bar who turns out to be someone he may know, everything changes.

Carter Hamilton-Temple might be a successful financial consultant with more brains, sophistication, and charm than most, but he always falls for the wrong guys: closet cases or men with issues. He can’t fight his attraction to the tattooed rock star, but can he trust his own judgment? When the thrill of danger combined with a fierce physical connection proves too strong for either man to resist, a quiet liaison away from the public eye and curious friends seems like a safe bet. But some secrets are hard to keep. When rumors threaten to rock his world, Tim realizes it’s time to confront his fear with his own kind of honesty.

Excerpt

“What kind of a rock star are you? You’re supposed to love sex, drugs, and alcohol. I haven’t known you long, but you seem to only really like one out of three,” Carter commented idly as he shuffled the cards.

“You’re right. I’m a sucky rock star. I rarely have more than one drink when I go out for dinner or even at a bar. Two at a party. Anything more usually leads to trouble. And I never take drugs. Even cold medicine makes me nervous.” I winked and gave him a lecherous grin that no doubt looked far from provocative in my current condition. “But I love sex.”

Pre-Order

eBook | Paperback

Meet the Author

Lane Hayes is finally doing what she loves best. Writing! An avid reader from an early age, Lane has always been drawn to romance novels. She truly believes there is nothing more inspiring than a well-told love story with beautifully written characters. Lane discovered the M/M genre a fews ago and was instantly hooked. Her first novel was a finalist in the 2013 Rainbow Awards. She is the bestselling author of the Better Than Stories series and Right and Wrong Stories and the new A Kind of Stories series. She loves travel, chocolate, and wine (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in an almost empty nest.

Website | Facebook | Twitter |
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| eMail | Instagram | Amazon

 

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In the Spotlight: Julie Lynn Hayes ‘Civil War and Broken Hearts’, Rose & Thorne #2 (excerpt and giveaway)

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Civil War and Broken Hearts (Rose and Thorne #2) by Julie Lynn Hayes
Release Date: August 24, 2016

Goodreads Link 
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond

Blurb

Hollywood comes to Roanoke when a major film studio announces they’re shooting part of their Civil War film at a local plantation. Vinnie is dismayed to discover that the lead actress is none other than the beautiful and popular Caroline St. Clair. Ethan and Vinnie made her acquaintance in LA the previous Halloween, while undercover, and Vinnie still hates her for hitting on his man. Ethan reassures his partner that Roanoke is big enough for all of them to co-exist without running into one another.

But Fate has it in for Vinnie and Ethan, and they find themselves assigned to a new case involving the actress. Apparently she requested Ethan specifically, to Vinnie’s dismay. But he doesn’t have a choice, he has to play nice. It’s small consolation to Vinnie that his new undercover identity involves Hollywood heartthrob Troy McGarrett, who is very handsome and openly gay. Troy isn’t shy about letting Vinnie know he finds him attractive.

Jealousy abounds in the second book of the Rose and Thorne series, and time is not on Vinnie and Ethan’s side. If they don’t solve the case before the film shoot is done, there’s a good chance they’ll be separated for the first time since they were partnered. Assuming Vinnie doesn’t kill Caroline St. Clair himself.

The author is donating 10% of the royalties from this book to No Kid Hungry. Visit nokidhungry.org for more information about this organization.

 

Pages or Words: 50,000 words
Categories: Contemporary, Crime Fiction, Gay Fiction, Humor

 

Excerpt

“Hey, Vin, did you see who’s in town?”

I was slumped at the kitchen table, my head cradled on top of my arms. I was grumpy and sleepy—and maybe a few of the other Seven Dwarves—and I needed my first cup of morning coffee before I could even consider being slightly civil.

We’d spent most of last night sitting in our car, in the goddamn middle of nowhere, staring at nothing, assigned to a fruitless surveillance in a small town about an hour from Roanoke. As it turned out, all the real action was in a different small town in the complete opposite direction from where we waited, because our so-called informant couldn’t spell the name of the place correctly. What a difference one letter makes. So we’d ended up completely wasting our time, got lost trying to find the rest of the task force at the end of the night, almost got hit by a deer that came out of nowhere and took a sudden shine to our car, and then suffered the indignity on our return of being asked where the hell we’d been all night—and we still needed to do the paperwork. And now Ethan wanted to play Twenty Questions?

“Don’t know and don’t care,” I mumbled.

I heard him slap something down on the table. I forced one eye open, just in time to see him sashay toward the coffeemaker. Okay, for that ass, I’d open the other one too. I watched as he poured the blessed elixir into two mugs, added the appropriate amount of creamer and sugar to each, then returned to where I still watched him and set one in front of me.

Right next to the morning paper. Real subtle, Ethan.

 

 

Buy the book

        

 

 

 

Meet the author:

 

Julie Lynn Hayes first began publishing short stories and poetry in the 1990’s, when it was a different ballgame altogether, and Ebooks hadn’t been dreamed of yet. That changed in 2010 with the acceptance of her first romance novel. She’s come a long way since that first book appeared, and is finding the journey a very educational one.

She lives in St. Louis with her daughter Sarah and her cat Ramesses. She often writes of two men finding true love and happiness in one another’s arms, and is a great believer in the happily ever after. She likes to write in different genres, to stretch herself in order to see what is possible. Her great challenge is to be told something can’t be done—she feels compelled to do it.

When she isn’t writing, she enjoys crafts, such as crocheting and cross stitch, needlepoint and knitting, and she loves to cook, spending time watching the Food Network. Her favorite chef is Geoffrey Zakarian. Her family thinks she’s a bit off, but she doesn’t mind. Marching to the beat of one’s own drummer is a good thing, after all. Her published works can be found at Dreamspinner Press, eXtasy Books, and Wayward Ink Press.

 

Where to find the author:

 


Tour Dates & Stops:

Parker Williams, Happily Ever Chapter, Bonkers About Books, Outrageous Heroes, MM Good Book Reviews, The Jena Wade, MM Book Escape, A.M. Leibowitz, Havan Fellows, Molly Lolly, BFD Book Blog, V’s Reads, Charley Descoteaux, Bayou Book Junkie, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Foxylutely Book Reviews, Open Skye Book Reviews, Nephy Hart, Unquietly Me, Alpha Book Club, Butterfly-O-Meter, My Fiction Nook, Wake Up Your Wild Side, Kirsty Loves Books, Velvet Panic, Divine Magazine, Louise Lyons, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, Dawn’s Reading Nook

 

 

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