Blog Tour and Giveaway for Permanent Jet Lag by A.N. Casey (author interview and excerpt)

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Title:  Permanent Jet Lag

Author: A.N. Casey

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: May 29, 2017

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: No Romance

Length: 87000

Genre: Contemporary, literary, Student, family, coming of age, alcohol use, illness/disease, tear-jerker

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~Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with A.N. Casey~

 

What’s the one thing, you can’t live without?

I’d say my water bottle because I have that thing with me constantly and get very moody when thirsty. Like Hangry but Thangry maybe? Plus, bonus: it gives me something to do with my hands, and as a fidgety anxious person, having something to hold onto during conversations—especially lulls in conversation—keeps me calm. 

What internet site do you surf to the most?

Tumblr. I have a blog there where I work with other writers to help out on new projects and answers questions (ancwritingresources.tumblr.com) and also have a couple writing blogs that just serve as a good creative outlet (and an excuse to put off writing the stuff I’m supposed to be writing).

If you had your own talk show, who would your first three author guests be and why?

The easy one that is probably over said is J.K. Rowling because I’d like to ask what it feels like to have seen your story not only turned into a movie but a theme park; what’s it like knowing that nearly everyone in the world has heard of your character even if they haven’t read your book. Malinda Lo because I’d want to ask her about Ash, about recreating this story everyone knows—Cinderella—in a brand new way and just congratulate her on what a good book that was. I mean, that’s my dream, moving forward, to begin to tell these stories that “old as time” but with the LGBT representation we deserve. And for the same reason, my third guest would be Madeline Miller. The Song of Achilles was a real game changer for me, so many of my favorite things—LGBT YA novels meets Greek mythology—all put together in such a beautiful way. And she’s not even a novelist by trade! I’d want to ask her what it was like to write that book and just get to learn more about that process.

When you got your very first manuscript acceptance letter, what was your initial reaction and who was the first person you told?

My reaction was disbelief, without a doubt. There comes a point after countless rejections when you just get used to it; without feeling, you read the nice form letter and move on with your day. So when I got a letter back, I assumed it was more of the same. I had to read it over three times to realize it said “yes” and not “no.” I told my best friend first, and then about 48 hours later, I actually got excited when I fully realized it was real.

 

 

Synopsis

Nineteen-year-old Lucas Burke prefers being alone. He likes the silence, and he loves not having to care about anyone else’s problems: the less he’s forced to feel, the better. But after a year of college-induced isolation from everyone he used to know, the wedding of a former classmate sends Lucas back home, and that means reconciling with a group of friends that now might as well be strangers.

His sister hardly knows him, his “genius” best friend is nothing more than an addict, and his ex-boyfriend is still in a coma. All the while, wedding preparations send Lucas head first into a relationship with the groom’s best man—a recently cancer-free ex-Olympian who can’t stop talking.

Lucas knows that if he wants to survive the summer, he’ll have to learn to be a friend again, but it doesn’t come easy, and it might already be too late.

Excerpt

Permanent Jet Lag
A.N. Casey © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One

96 Days Before

On the last day of my freshman year of college, my parents—dressed head to toe in the obnoxious green and gold colors of my school—arrived on the threshold of my dorm room with five extra-large boxes for packing, a tin of mom-baked chocolate chip cookies to cure my assumed “home sick blues,” and two snippets of hometown gossip for my ears only. When you leave home for college, there’s a certain assumption that says you will learn to be independent. You do your own laundry, you buy your own meals, and your parents never come knocking on your door to ask if you’ve done your homework or to ground you for coming home past curfew. You’re alone—blissfully independent and free.

My mother had other ideas. Ideas that filled the voicemail on my cell phone until I could no longer receive friends’ missed calls. Ideas that left a pile of cookie tins in the corner of the room and a dozen more care packages under the bed. Even now, as I finished the bulk of my packing, a poorly knit mom-made sweater hung limp over the side of the latest care package, threads unraveling and fraying in every direction with a note pinned to its sleeve with words I could not remember—words I likely never read.

My roommate sat on the other side of the room upon his stripped-down bed, munching away at the first cookie handed to him. He wore a thick pair of headphones that flattened his usually unruly brown hair. Though the cord was not connected to anything, my mother seemed pleased with this sense of security and began her “top secret” gossip. As though my roommate would care at all about the small-town news of Franklin Creek, California.

“Rylie Graham is getting married!” she squealed. Despite her rising age, my mother’s face still lit up with all the excitement and energy of the young woman I could just barely remember from the photographs on the walls at home. Today, my mother was plump and nearly always flushed in her cheeks. The freckles on her nose were faded underneath a splotchy tan that extended only to the bottom of her neck, and her clothes, though neatly pressed, still appeared crumpled by her slouch and the endless movement of her limbs. She went on and on about the wedding, the beautiful invitations, and the color schemes she hoped they’d use, how she could still remember Rylie as a baby, crawling around at the neighborhood block parties.

I was already aware of this news, of course. The invitation had arrived in the mail two days ago, vividly pink with a handful of red hearts and almost a dozen purple and green flowers decorating the edges. Unless the groom was a botanist, there was no inkling of his presence in the design. To top it off, at the very bottom of the paper, beneath the RSVP notification, was a dried crimson lipstick mark. Nine months since I’d seen her, and I could still vividly imagine Rylie prepping her mouth with that darkened color she had so adored in high school and kissing each invitation one by one.

The invitation was now crumpled up in my suitcase with the rest of my belongings, but the image of it had not left my mind for a second.

“Isn’t it great, Lucas?” my mother asked, and I nodded. “She’ll look so beautiful as a bride.” Another nod. “Just wait until you meet the groom. What a charming young man.” At this, I fidgeted with the zipper on my luggage and forced a smile.

My father, lounging lazily upon my still-sheeted bed, gave me a knowing smile over the top of his third cookie. My mother promptly smacked it out of his hand.

“That’s enough, Tim. Didn’t you hear a word the doctors said? I think one heart attack is quite enough for one year, don’t you?”

“I thought two would make a more interesting story at this year’s Christmas party,” my father replied, grinning.

And so began an argument that lasted through the remainder of my packing, the long trek downstairs, and into the oversized van waiting for us in the parking lot. It continued as my father stabbed the key into the ignition, as my mother pulled on her seat belt, and as I peered through the window and watched San Francisco—all its big buildings and bustling bridges—disappear into the night.

By the time we pulled into the driveway of my childhood home, my parents were just progressing toward the makeup phase of their disagreement, or, as I’d dubbed it over the years, the honeymoon period. They sat, arms tangled in the front seat, kissing and whispering loving platitudes into each other’s mouths with such nauseating enthusiasm that sitting through it was quite like staring at the sun: tolerance came in small doses. I left the car and dragged my luggage up the porch steps alone.

I had come home exactly twice since leaving for college, once for spring break and once after my father’s heart attack, and I was greeted the same each time. Homecoming generally went like this: my oldest sister, now sixteen, would nod her head in my direction over the top of her cell phone, give me a hug if I came close enough, and then resume her texting. My brothers, identical in all but their clothing, would rush in for the tackle. And my youngest sister would wave from the couch—a simple twist of her hand—and then return to her TV show. Today it was an old rerun about a teenage spy, and because the theme song was particularly catchy, the wave was even shorter than normal, barely a twitch of her fingertips.

I disappeared into my room.

From the window of my dorm room in the mornings, I could see the wide expanse of the San Francisco landscape for miles, a hundred buildings huddled together against the fading fog, life bustling below. From the window of my hometown bedroom, I could see the neighbor’s pool. A thoroughly unexciting, lifeless pool. As summer had not technically begun, the water that would soon promise endless good times and relief from the heat was still currently abandoned. A heavy pile of leaves covered much of the surface, but through the spaces between, I could make out a glimpse of the water—a murky, untouched green.

Rylie called at half past eleven while I was cleaning the windowsill for the second time. Her voice was shrill and rushed as she screamed into my ear, “Why didn’t you tell me you were home? I had to hear it from my mom, who heard it from your mom, and I feel like I’m in a weird stupid sitcom, because I’m not supposed to be hearing gossip from your mother, Lucas. You’re supposed to tell your friends when you come home. Clay is pissed.”

As she spoke, I tucked the phone between my shoulder and ear. Downstairs, my mom was yelling at the twins, and Dad was swearing about the score of a baseball game. I retreated farther into my room and closed the door.

“Sorry,” I said.

“Sorry?” Rylie let out a long, exasperated sigh, and I thought I could hear her nails tapping against the back of her phone. “Will you meet me somewhere? I haven’t seen you in ages, and everyone misses you. Please?”

“Okay.”

“Is this how this is going to be now? One-worded conversations?”

“Probably.”

Rylie laughed, a deep, chest-rattling sort of sound that in no way matched the high, squeaky pitch of her voice. It was for reasons like this I’d stopped trying to understand her in the third grade.

“You’re an ass, Lucas. Meet me at the flower shop across from the grocery store, okay? Ten minutes, don’t be late. Oh, and Todney is going to be there. I can’t wait for you to meet him. Don’t be late.”

“We have a grocery store?”

“Goodbye, Lucas.”

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

A.N. Casey is a Californian born and bred writer with very few interests beyond the literary. As a former copywriter and a current freelance writer and editor, Casey was asked what he likes to do outside of writing for work and responded only with: “write more”—much to the disappointment of his colleagues who had hoped he might be more interesting. His few attempts to leave his computer or notebooks behind have led to an interest in camping, traveling, and very bad attempts at cooking. He is currently studying to become a teacher where he hopes his fondness for the red pen will not make him too many enemies. Above all, Casey believes that storytelling has the power to shape lives, and that young people deserve to see themselves represented on the page in every shape and form until no one is left feeling alone in this wide and confusing world. You can find A.N. on Tumblr.

Tour Schedule

5/29    MM Book Escape

5/29    MM Good Book Reviews

5/30    Stories That Make You Smile

5/30    Reviews for Book Lovers

5/31    Divine Magazine

5/31    millsylovesbooks

5/31    Love Bytes Reviews

6/1      Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

6/2      Sharing Links and Wisdom

6/2      Happily Ever Chapter

6/2      Bayou Book Junkie

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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.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | eMail

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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