BLITZ for Diamond Heart (Cherrywood Grove #2) by M.A. Hinkle (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Diamond Heart

Series: Cherrywood Grove, Book Two

Author: M.A. Hinkle

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: February 4, 2019

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 60900

Genre: Contemporary YA, LGBT, contemporary, YA, high school, twins, arts/music/theater, gay, ace, panromantic, gender-bending, learning disability/social anxiety, family drama

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Synopsis

Gareth has a problem. He got expelled. Now he and his twin brother, Morgan, have to start over at an artsy new private school, and it’s all Gareth’s fault. Not to mention Morgan’s crippling social anxiety and Gareth’s resting jerk face aren’t making them any friends, and their father is furious with him. Gareth could live with this, but Morgan’s mad at him too, and Morgan is the only person alive who can make Gareth feel guilty.

Good thing Gareth has a plan. Cute, bubbly Felix, a student at their new school, has a crush on Morgan, and they both want to act in their school’s production of Midsummer Night’s Dream. Gareth figures it’s the perfect way to help Morgan come out of his shell and set him up with Felix. Then, maybe Morgan will forgive him, and Gareth can go back to not caring about anything or anyone.

But Gareth has another problem. He’s been cast as Oberon, and Felix is Titania. Oh, and Morgan doesn’t like Felix back. And maybe Gareth is enjoying the play and making new friends and having a good time at his new school. And maybe—just maybe—he’s got a crush on Felix. Can Gareth keep up his tough-guy act long enough to repair his relationship with Morgan, or will Felix get caught in the fallout of Gareth’s dumb schemes?

Excerpt

Diamond Heart
M.A. Hinkle © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Everything started when I punched a guy in the face, but I only realized this was more than a regular Tuesday once my twin brother Morgan got home from school looking like he’d been hit by a truck.

Not literally. Morgan resembled the guy on the cover of a romance novel—not Fabio, the Twilight knockoffs, where they were angsty instead of buff. Morgan’s hair was always windswept, except when he pulled it back as per the school dress code. While our school had a dress code, at least it was gender neutral, so anyone could wear whatever they wanted as long as their skirt hit below the knee and their hair was kept out of their face.

Morgan’s hair is always kept out of his face, is what I’m saying.

I was hoping word hadn’t gotten around school, but what a stupid hope. Morgan was ashen. I got to my feet. “Morgan—”

He shook his head without changing his expression.

Crap. I tried to stand still as Morgan went through his getting home ritual: shoes placed in a neat straight line next to the door, tie loosened but not taken off, laptop removed from bag, bag hung on the hook next to the empty one where mine belonged. I put my hands behind my back so he wouldn’t see me digging my fingernails into my palm.

Morgan finished and turned to me. I couldn’t read his expression. “So what happened this time?”

I tried to make my mouth work. But for one thing, I had a bad feeling Morgan already knew the answer. For another—

If he didn’t already know, explaining would be impossible. This went deeper than being dumb and teenage and angry. This was about Morgan and his nerves and me protecting him the only way I knew how. If I could explain it out loud, I wouldn’t have been in this mess. I could have talked things out with Warren Beauregard III (really, truly his name in the year of our Lord 2016) the way Sesame Street taught me, and we would sing a song, and everyone would have gone home happy after learning about the letter of the day.

But before I could figure out how to put it into words, my father came downstairs.

My father—excuse me, Dr. Trevor Lewis, PhD and some other fancy letters—was a professor of Welsh literature. He spent most of his time buried in books written in a language barely anyone spoke, writing papers seven other people would read. Whenever he tried to tell me about it, my soul left my body from sheer boredom.

I didn’t see him much. In order to focus on his research, Trevor taught night classes, which meant all the good people working full-time jobs and going through school snored their way through his English 101. Therefore, he was at home while I was in school, and I was at home while he was at school. It worked well. I didn’t have to see him and remember we looked alike and I hated it, and he didn’t have to see me and remember the family disappointment.

“Let’s sit in the parlor, boys.” His voice was cool.

The change of scenery wasn’t for anyone’s comfort; the furniture was so old it doubled as a torture device. Morgan and I took our usual spot on the couch, Trevor in the chair across from us. Morgan chewed on his lower lip. I wanted to do the same, but I also didn’t want Trevor to see he had me over a barrel.

“The principal decided to avail me of a number of things about you, Gareth,” said Trevor, after a long, long minute of staring at me. He still hadn’t raised his voice. “He said you are, in most respects, a brilliant student. A leader in class discussions, consistently high achieving on standardized tests, and well liked by your teachers. I was aware of all of this.”

I did not relax. Before everything else, Trevor was a rhetorician. He was not reassuring me; he was laying out background before he launched into his thesis. According to family legend, when he defended his dissertation, the evaluators only asked one question apiece because his argument about whatever he studied was so watertight.

“What I did not know is you have also been consistently on the verge of expulsion from the moment you started high school. I don’t see the point of going into detail of the reasons. I’m sure you’re aware—swearing, uniform violations, lashing out at other students.”

The expulsion part was news to me, which was not going to help my case.

Trevor waited, not to see if I wanted to respond. He was pausing for effect. “And it has only been by the grace of the aforementioned good qualities and my not inconsiderable donations to your school that you have not been run out for conduct unbecoming a member of their academy.”

I bit my tongue. Literally. It hurt. Sometimes, I appreciated Trevor’s frankness. Take when he talked about college. He always said, “I expect both of you to attend either the school where I teach or the University of Wisconsin, unless you get into an Ivy League college.” It might sound controlling, but I knew exactly where I stood with him—in the garbage.

“You’re getting kicked out?” Morgan asked, as though I should have led with it when he came in the door.

“I guess, but I just found out too.” I didn’t even know my school expelled people. Then again, I was the only kid ever written up for fighting on school grounds.

Morgan stiffened like we were going over the first drop on a roller coaster, only there was no track at the bottom to catch us. “I can’t stay there by myself.”

Now that was news to me. Among other things, Morgan was valedictorian, first chair violinist in orchestra, and student council secretary. (He’d be president, but then he’d have to talk.) All the teachers thought he was God’s gift to academia, and he’d been fielding college recruiters since we were in eighth grade. And everybody adored Morgan. Girls wanted to bang him, guys wanted to be him/possibly also bang him, nonbinary people high-fived him, et cetera. I wasn’t exactly an outcast, but I wasn’t anyone’s first choice for gym, either.

Trevor’s expression was unreadable. Behind his glasses, his eyes were the color of a freezing winter sky. My father had never been cuddly, but he used to talk to us more, before my mom killed herself four years ago. Suicide should have been the low point, but things only went downhill in our family from there. After the funeral ended and all the flowers were thrown away, we never talked about her again. I hadn’t bothered trying, but Morgan had, and Trevor dismissed him. Not in so many words, maybe, but we got the hint.

Anyway, as long as Morgan was calm and under control, he and Trevor had long and involved conversations about books and crap. But the second Morgan faced something more complicated than precalculus, Trevor was out the door faster than blinking, leaving Morgan alone with his deep-breathing exercises. And me. I always cleaned up the mess, whether or not I made it.

To be fair, I usually made it.

I got to my feet, one hand clenched in a fist. I wasn’t going to hit Trevor—no use. It wouldn’t get a rise out of him. But the pain helped me concentrate so my voice would come out calmly, the same way it did at fancy dinner parties when one of Trevor’s too-rich friends asked me a question that drove me up a wall. I knew Morgan hadn’t meant to say anything out loud, nor would he appreciate it if I answered him right now. So I put on my best Trevor face and pretended Morgan wasn’t hyperventilating beside me. “Well, this is all pretty shitty. When do I find out?”

Trevor’s expression hadn’t changed an inch; he might have been staring at one of the insipid paintings hung on the wall. “You’ve been suspended for the rest of the week while they decide. In the meantime, I suggest you research alternative options. I have enough work preparing for midterms.”

I bit the inside of my cheek hard enough to taste blood so I wouldn’t answer. Morgan was about ready to barf all over the fancy Persian rug, but he almost always was. I couldn’t tell if it was worse than usual.

“You wanna help me search?” I asked. If I didn’t give Morgan some kind of out, he would sit there until the end of time, caught in his own head.

Morgan stood, jerkily. He nodded at Trevor and followed me upstairs.

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

M.A. Hinkle swears a lot and makes jokes at inappropriate times, so she writes about characters who do the same thing. She’s also worked as an editor and proofreader for the last eight years, critiquing everything from graduate school applications to romance novels.

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Blog Tour for That Feeling When by S. M. James (author interview, excerpt and giveaway)

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BLOG TOUR

Book Title: That Feeling When

Author: S. M. James

Publisher: May Books

Cover Artist: Story Styling

Genre/s: YA, LGBT, contemporary romance

Length: 77,000 Words/343 pages

Release Date: September 16, 2018 (Available now in paperback)

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue  Words is happy to host S. M. James today. Thank you for stopping by! Tell us a little about yourself and your writing goals.

Congratulations on your new release. Please tell us a little bit about it. What’s your favorite aspect or part of the story? Do you have a favorite character? Who/Why?

Yikes, yeah. It’s nerve-wracking stuff, especially as this book kicks off a 6-book series of stand alones PLUS their short stories. So we’ll see how that goes.

That Feeling When is a dual POV YA, which alternates chapters between Landon and Archie as they figure out who they are, and how far they’ll go for love. As for a favourite character, I don’t think there’s any way to pick. I finished writing this book and actually missed these guys, which is one of the totally weird and wonderful things about being a writer. And now I’ve finished writing To Be Honest, I feel the same way about those guys.

As for my favourite part, there’s a certain scene involving a camera, an audition, and a whole lot of trust, that really builds Archie and Landon’s relationship up to another level and was a lot of fun to write. It was great to see Archie finally let go of his insecurities.

  • What is your favorite underappreciated novel?

Noah Can’t Even by Simon James Green. Holy moly that book was hilarious and I seriously rec it everywhere I go. I can’t remember a book actually making me laugh out loud before—the situations Noah kept getting himself into just got more and more ridiculous. And the sequel lived up to it, which is always a great surprise. I need to reread this one soon.

  • Does your research lead to bizarre internet searches? If so, tell us about some of your wackier searches, or ones that would make you nervous if your computer were ever confiscated by law enforcement.

Heh, umm. You could say that. There have been bombs, automatic weapons, and disposing of bodies, because what else do characters in a fantasy novel need to know? For one of my genre novels I had to look up how long it took for a dead body to decompose, and there was this post about ‘Coffin births’ and DON’T LOOK IT UP because gross! So gross! (And if you did look it up, sorry to scar you for life but you were warned.) As you can tell, I’m still not past it.

The most interesting thing I’ve researched for contemporary is anterograde amnesia. Some of the stories from people living with it were almost beyond comprehension. For my next novel, I’m continuing my research into Cystic Fibrosis and the impact it has on day to day life.

  • Who would play the main characters in a movie about your book?

Haha there’s a reason I don’t cast movies.

I feel like I should have a Pinterest board for this kind of question but it is appallingly hard to find Aboriginal actors. I did watch an interview with Mark Coles Smith once, who may not look exactly like Landon, but had the same kind of boyish charm.

For Archie, man, take your pick. Brenton Thwaites, Billy Unger, Nick Robertson. If they can manage surly and vulnerable, we’re good.

  • What is your favorite quote?

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry. But why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

(Five guesses what this is from).

 

 

Blurb

Dance Academy reject, Archie Corrigan, resents the stereotype guy ballet dancers are gay. Because he isn’t. At all. Forced to reassess his life goal at Camp Crystal Cove, it’s by sheer dumb luck he meets Landon Summers, who turns everything Archie was sure of into chaos.

Poor boy turned teen heartthrob, Landon Summers, is the name on everyone’s lips. With his unexpected leap to fame, his agent advises him to keep his bi status on the down low. Not a problem! Until Landon meets Archie.

Their unexpected friendship leads to an inevitable kiss, but their moment is caught in high definition and used as fuel for blackmail. If the truth gets out, Landon’s career could be over, and Archie will be forced to acknowledge the one thing he’s fought to deny.

But how do you go back to your average life once you’ve experienced That Feeling When … you’re finally happy?

Buy Links – Available in Kindle Unlimited 

Amazon US

Amazon UK 

Excerpt

Landon Summers is into guys. I think he likes you.

And while Meredith didn’t say anything about me, there was something way too

knowing in her look. Everyone else seems too into their own lives to be paying us any

attention, and even when we’re announced winners of the trivia, my celebration doesn’t

crack the surface chill that’s taken over me.

Meredith’s wrapped her arm through mine, and she’s cheering with the others, one hand

in the air.

I’m a week in the past. Watching Landon pull on that stupid costume in the dark. The

spark in his eyes as he thanked me. The brush of his skin on mine.

How was that only a week ago?

Why can’t I go back and enjoy that moment more? Savor my time with him?

Really take it all in, before he went and messed it all up.

About the Author

SM James in an Australian author who writes books for teens about squishy sweet characters. While not writing, SM is a readaholic and netflix addict who regularly lives on a sustainable diet of chocolate and coffee. Member of SCBWI. Unapologetically dishing out HEAs for LGBT+ characters.

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Giveaway

Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for a chance to win one of the following prizes:

1 x Paperback copy of That Feeling When (US only)

2 x $15 Amazon gift card (international)

3 x eBook copy of That Feeling When (international)

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New Release Blitz for Big Man by Matthew J. Metzger (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Big Man

Author: Matthew J. Metzger

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: April 9, 2018

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 58100

Genre: Contemporary, LGBT, contemporary, YA, coming-of-age, bisexual, trans, high school, sports/martial arts, depression/grieving, #ownvoices

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Synopsis

Max Farrier wanted to follow in the family footsteps and join the Navy once, but he’s better off focusing on just surviving his last year of school and going to work in Aunt Donna’s shop once it’s over.

After an incident at school puts Max in the hospital, Aunt Donna’s had enough. She signs him up for private lessons at a Muay Thai gym. Boxing—she says—will change everything.

But it’s not boxing that starts to poke holes in Max’s stupor—it’s his sparring partner. Cian is fifty percent mouth, fifty percent attitude, and isn’t afraid to go toe-to-toe with a bully in the street. Cian takes what he wants, and doesn’t let anyone stand in his way—not even himself.

Excerpt

Big Man
Matthew J. Metzger © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Prologue
This was how everything started—on a Friday afternoon, at the very end of school, three days into the summer term and in the middle of an unreasonable, unseasonable heatwave. It had been a Friday like any other until Tom Fallowfield stuck his boot in.

Literally.

It went a bit like this, to Max’s admittedly patchy memory of the entire incident.

At three thirty-one, the bell rang, and he was dismissed out of his maths class. Friday was a notorious day for people being bored and at a loose end, so Max had (as was his habit) hurried off to his locker to try to get out of school before anyone caught up to him.

At three thirty-six, Max reached his locker. His fingers fumbled with the lock in a hurry, the metal loose in his grip because it was so ridiculously hot. Sweat was dampening the hair at his temples.

At three thirty-eight, his fingers slipped on the waxy cover of his geography textbook and sent the whole pile tumbling to the floor.

And at three thirty-eight and a half, a dirty Adidas trainer pressed down on said textbook just as Max reached for it.

That was kind of when Max knew he was a bit fucked.

“All right, Fatso?”

He didn’t have to look up. The trainer narrowed it down to one of two people who would stomp on the textbook he was trying to pick up, and the deep, drawling voice—like some villain out of a film—narrowed it down to one. Jazz Coles. And Jazz Coles was bad news.

Max swallowed convulsively and gathered the rest of his things to his chest protectively. He staggered back to his feet and turned to shove them all back in his locker. His hands were shaking. There was sweat breaking out on the backs of his thighs and under his arms, pooling in the joints and fleshy bits.

“Oi. You gone deaf, Fatso? All that grease clogged your ears?”

“M’just in a hurry, Jazz,” he mumbled.

“You what?”

“I said I’m just in a hurry,” he said a bit louder and squashed his other books into the locker haphazardly. The corridor was slowly emptying, and the emptier it got, the faster his heart was beating.

“You’re fucking rude, you are. You ought to look at someone when he’s talking to you. You want Tom to teach you some manners? Tom’s good with manners.”

“Sorry,” Max mumbled, turning hastily before the threat could be carried out. The metal of his locker bit uncomfortably into his back, pressing grooves into his skin, and he could feel his shirt beginning to stick to him. “I’m in a rush, that’s all.”

All three of them were there. Jazz Coles, Aidan Hooper, and Tom Fallowfield. Fallowfield was in Max’s year, the other two the year above. They went to some football club or something together—Max wasn’t sure. All he knew was that Jazz was the clever one, with the orders and the insults, while Aidan was the sidekick who screeched like a hyena and kept them supplied in fags and weed on a regular basis from his older brother’s grow. And Tom…

Tom was the dangerous one. When the insults stopped, Tom started. And nobody wanted Tom to start anything.

“Not got time to talk to us, then?” Jazz drawled. “Why’s that? You busy?”

“I—yes. Yes, just busy, that’s all, busy weekend…”

“Busy doing what? Got a new girlfriend?”

Tom snorted. Aidan cackled and said, “Eurgh, Jazz, man, I’ll bring up my lunch.”

“Imagine that sweaty sack of lard slithering and grunting on some poor girl. You’d crush her, wouldn’t you, Farrier?”

Max’s face heated up, and his hair stuck to his scalp. He could faintly smell his own underarms, and the metal gluing shirt to back was beginning to heat up too, at Jazz’s cool, slow delivery.

“Fatso Farrier, the flat-fucker. ’Cause that’s what she’d be once you were done. Best stick to boys, yeah? Let your boyfriend fuck you, then nobody’ll suffocate.”

“I don’t have a girlfriend. Or a boyfriend.”

“Would you like one?”

“I—no, I, uh—”

“Just as well,” Jazz continued blithely. “Nobody has a drowning-in-folds fetish. So if it’s not a girlfriend or a boyfriend with some sick kinks, why’re you too busy to talk to us?”

The corridor was empty. Max started to panic.

“Answer me, Farrier!”

“I—just—plans, you know, plans…”

“What plans? Sale on at Greggs?” Jazz asked. “New bakery opened up? Or is Mummy taking pity on her lonely little wobblebottom, and baked you a chocolate cake?”

Aidan gave a whooping cackle, and Jazz kicked the forgotten geography book towards Max. It skittered across the dusty floor, hitting Max’s shoe with a dull thump.

“Best not leave that here,” Jazz said. Hands in his pockets, pale face regarding him through narrowed blue eyes, he looked calculating—and Max couldn’t figure out what he was calculating. “Oi! Fatso! Pick it up, then.”

“Thank you,” Max mumbled, hoping it would buy him a bit of a reprieve from…whatever Jazz was planning, and stooped to pick it up. His fingers scrabbled uselessly on the plastic cover, wet with anxiety.

“Thank you?” Jazz echoed. “Very polite, Fatso. Might want to make it sound fucking sincere next time.”

“Here, Jazz, fancy a game?”

That deep rumble was the only warning Max got before Tom’s boot—because of course Tom, totally mad, sadistic Tom Fallowfield, wore boots to school on a regular basis—connected with the side of his head.

Hard.

Max would have liked to say that pain exploded in his head, that he saw visions of God or heard the heavenly choir, that it was like dropping into a Tim Burton movie.

Actually, he just heard a massive bang.

And then he woke up in the back of an ambulance and knew he was in deep shit.

That was how it started.

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Matthew J. Metzger is an ace, trans author posing as a functional human being in the wilds of Yorkshire, England. Although mainly a writer of contemporary, working-class romance, he also strays into fantasy when the mood strikes. Whatever the genre, the focus is inevitably on queer characters and their relationships, be they familial, platonic, sexual, or romantic.

When not crunching numbers at his day job, or writing books by night, Matthew can be found tweeting from the gym, being used as a pillow by his cat, or trying to keep his website in some semblance of order.

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New Release Blitz for On a Summer Night by Gabriel D. Vidrine (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  On a Summer Night

Author: Gabriel D. Vidrine

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: April 2, 2018

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 56200

Genre: Contemporary, LGBT, contemporary, YA, trans, bisexual, asexual, coming-of-age, coming out, family drama, HFN, #ownvoices

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Synopsis

Fourteen-year-old Casey is determined to have fun this summer going to camp with his best friend, Ella. His overprotective mother frets that attending this one instead of trans camp like he’s always done will cause problems, but Casey has his heart set on going stealth anyway.

His mom just might be right.

All Ella wants is love for her best friend, and she’s determined to set him up with someone, despite Casey’s protests that he just wants to have fun, not get involved in a summer romance. But things get complicated when camp bully Ryan focuses his energies on the two friends. At least Casey’s cute bunkmate, Gavin, appears interested in getting to know him better, making Casey rethink the whole romance thing.

Until he finds out Gavin and Ryan are good friends.

Summer camp turns into so much more when Casey has to decide if Gavin is worth pursuing, friend of a bully or not.

There’s just one more problem: Ryan knows Casey is transgender.

Excerpt

On a Summer Night
Gabriel D. Vidrine © 2018
All Rights Reserved

“Do you have your socks?” my mother called up the stairs.

“Yes, mother!” I shouted back down at her. Of course I had socks. But I double-checked the large footlocker anyway, scrabbling through it until I found them. They were buried under my binders, but there they were.

“Don’t forget towels!” came another shout up the stairs.

She knew me well. I always forgot something. I went back to my bathroom and rummaged around in the linen closet until I found enough towels for the trip.

When I got back to my room, Mom was staring down into my trunk, her hands on her hips. “Anything else?” she asked, eyeing how much was in it.

“I hope not.”

I tossed the towels in the trunk, only to be crushed into a hug from her. “I’m going to miss you Casey,” she said into my hair.

I patted her awkwardly. She meant well, but ever since I announced my desire to transition two years ago when I turned twelve, she’d gotten super overprotective and clingy. “I’ll miss you too, Mom.” I did mean it, but it was going to be a relief to be away from her for almost two weeks. Even though I’d never been away from my parents that long before, not even at trans camp.

She squeezed me harder until I gasped and then let me go. “Are you sure you want to do this?”

“For the millionth time, yes,” I said, rolling my eyes.

“Okay. I’ll get your dad to get this down the stairs,” she said, and then she was gone in a whirl of brown hair and scarves.

I shook my head at her back and pulled out my phone to text my best friend, Ella.

Me: Almost ready. U?

I knew she wouldn’t answer right away (she actually hated her phone, the weirdo), so I nervously went through my list again to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything. I needed a distraction.

While I was rummaging, my dad, a big guy who had prematurely gone bald so he always wore an ugly hat, had lumbered up the stairs and was frowning down at my trunk. “Are you sure you need all that?” His voice was very deep.

“Yeah, Dad.” My phone buzzed in my pocket, but I ignored it. “It’s almost two weeks.”

“Twelve days,” he said.

“Yeah, I know.” I scratched at my head, slightly embarrassed to talk about my transition stuff with my dad. “I, you know, need some extra stuff.” I thought of the binders lying next to my socks.

He glanced at me and nodded, and then looked quickly away. He hadn’t been as supportive of my transition as my mom. When I first told him, he blurted, “But you’re a girl.”

We stood there in awkward silence for a moment as I wondered what I should say to him, father to son. But he hadn’t yet called me his son.

He cleared his throat, still not looking at me, and then crouched and heaved up the trunk onto a roller cart he’d carried up the stairs. It was going to be a pain getting it down on the cart, but at least he wouldn’t kill his back picking it up this way.

I helped him maneuver it down the stairs, wishing not for the first time I could start hormones. I wanted to be as strong as my dad, but I wasn’t old enough yet. Well, I was, but my parents wouldn’t approve it until I was sixteen. I figured Dad was the one holding out, because Mom would give me whatever I wanted.

Two more years.

When we finally got the trunk down the stairs, I pulled my phone out. Ella had texted back.

Ella: Yeah, loading the car. Are you ready?

Me: Yes! Just gotta say bye.

Ella: We’ll be there soon.

“Ella and her parents are going to be here soon,” I told my parents.

Mom had argued long and hard about how I was getting to camp. She wanted to take me, but I wanted to go with Ella and her parents. My friend and her brother had been going to this camp for years, and her parents knew exactly how to get there. Mom pursed her lips and crossed her arms over her chest. “Okay. Are you sure you have it all?”

Annoyance flared up. “Yes!” I said.

“Don’t take that tone with your mother,” Dad warned.

I closed my mouth and let the anger subside. It wouldn’t do to get into an argument with them now. They’d probably not let me go, whether or not they had already paid for my spot. And summer camp wasn’t cheap; I’d seen prices on the website.

“Sorry,” I mumbled, and Mom pulled me into another hug.

“Be safe, okay?” she said. “I wish you wanted to go to the trans camp instead.”

“Mom, please!”

“Okay, okay, I know. You want to go to regular camp like any regular boy.”

“I went to trans camp last year,” I said.

“I know, and you loved it. That’s why I wish you’d go again.”

“Stop worrying so much, Mom,” I told her. “The kids won’t hurt me.”

She didn’t look convinced when she finally let me go. It was true; trans camp had been fantastic. But everyone there knew I was trans. I wanted to go someplace where I didn’t always feel trans. I knew it was impossible, but I wanted a shot at it. All the other kids at trans camp had loved it, because they’d said they could shed their trans identity there. Since everyone was trans, we got to talk about other things. It made it less special, which was, in reality, a relief.

And that was the problem for me. I just wanted to be like any other boy. And all the other boys went to summer camp like the one I was going to, not to trans camp. I wanted to be a boy with the other boys.

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Gabriel D. Vidrine is a trans masculine scientist, dancer, and writer but is working towards reversing that order. They teach and perform belly dance all over the country, but still manage to cram in writing time whenever and wherever possible.

They are an avid reader and writer, and love science fiction, fantasy, horror, and paranormal romance, but will give any genre a try.

Gabriel lives with their husband, video game systems, and ridiculous cat, Selina, in Chicago, IL.

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New Release Blitz for Sweethearts by Gemma Gilmore (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Sweethearts

Author: Gemma Gilmore

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: January 29, 2018

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 62600

Genre: Contemporary, LGBT, YA, high school, friends to lovers, alcohol use, visual arts, coming out, teen pregnancy, coming of age, slow burn

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Synopsis

When seventeen-year-old Ingrid Harper realizes she may not have the talent to pursue a scholarship for the most prestigious art school in Australia, she turns to pink hair dye as a distraction.

Her new hair captures the attention of a fellow art student, Kat, who introduces Ingrid to the LGBT clubbing scene, and although Ingrid enjoys partying with her new friend, she becomes caught up in confusion about her sexuality. Her fear is overwhelming—she can’t think about anything else.

Until her best friend, Summer, reveals that she is pregnant.

As her best friend faces the realities of being pregnant at seventeen, Ingrid is shown the true definition of courage. It motivates her to come out about her sexuality—she likes girls. Only girls. Now she just has to work out what that means for the other areas of her life.

Excerpt

Sweethearts
Gemma Gilmore © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
I am desperately trying not to attract attention.

My arms are folded across my chest. My chin is tucked into my neck. I am leaning against the brick wall as I watch her sing. It takes every ounce of strength I have to keep my face still, hiding any expression that bubbles to the surface. Any reaction I have to her lilting voice is shoved down, adding to the pit in my stomach.

The younger students are sitting respectfully in their seats. They are still too naive to question the teachers when they are told they must be present. I know better than to think that this school performance is anything special to Amber Freeman. She’s been singing since before she could walk, and although I am always the first viewer, her YouTube videos are gaining more and more popularity with every upload. This is just practice to her. A warm-up.

The spotlights are trained on her, and she throws her hands up whilst the climax of the song cascades from her talented lips. I let my eyes flicker shut and Amber’s voice surrounds me, caressing my ears as she sings deeply. Her voice is crashing through me, tingling across the skin on my arms and seeping through my body, calming me.

My head has fallen back against the wall, and I remain frozen there as I listen to her sing. In this moment, nothing else matters. With my eyes closed, she’s right next to me. Singing softly, untying the knot that’s sunken deep into that pit in the bottom of my stomach.

“Ingrid? What the hell are you doing?” The voice that hisses right next to my ear jerks me out of my daydream.

I jump with shock and wrench my eyes open, tearing myself away from the peaceful moment. In front of me, my best friend Summer stands, her arms folded across her chest and her eyes wide in that you are busted expression.

“Jesus,” I mutter. “I thought you had better things to do than sneak up on people. Way to give me a heart attack.”

“I thought you had better things to do than stand here creepily at the back of the gym listening to Amber sing,” Summer challenges me, an amused smile dancing across her full lips.

“You snuck up on me and you’re calling me the creep?” I snort. “Come on, let’s get out of here.”

The quicker I can get Summer outside of this gym, the quicker I can shove away the fact that she caught me watching Amber’s performance. We duck behind the last row of seating and out of the door in the corner of the room, swiftly ignoring the Emergency Exit Only sign. We’ve done this so many times now that it’s like second nature.

Outside, the rain lashes against the building. The wind howls so loudly that I’m surprised no one noticed our little escape from the gymnasium—then again, they never do. For Summer, there’s more to life than just sitting in a desk at school. Any chance my best friend has to escape the mundane restrictions of life is an opportunity she must take. She’s never been the kind of girl to follow the traditional paths.

Then again, neither have I.

My thoughts still spin as we duck through the car park and head out to the tin shed at the back of the school. Summer knew exactly where to find me during Amber’s performance. She knows that I watch Amber. While everyone else in our grade snuck off to make out in abandoned classrooms or smoke cigarettes behind the main building, I followed the crowd into the gymnasium with one intention.

Why did I need to watch her?

“I had a headache and the gym was dark.” I shrug off Summer’s curious stare as we take shelter under the tin roof. The rain really lashes down now, bouncing off the pavement and whipping through the trees. “It was better than watching you make out with Jackson for an hour straight.”

My snide comment is low but, right now, I’ll do anything to take the attention away from me.

“You had a headache, so you decided to listen to Amber sing?” Summer rolls her eyes at me. “Makes sense.”

She fidgets with her oversized tartan scarf, staring out into the rain. Maybe I’m not the only one who is trying to avoid things today.

“You were in there too,” I argue half-heartedly. “What’s your obsession with her?”

This time, Summer does turn to me. “I’m obsessed?” She snorts. “Ingrid, honey, if I’m obsessed, then you’re deranged.”

“Then I’m deranged.”

Summer rolls her eyes, signalling the end of that particular conversation. “Whatever. Your deeply disturbing issues are the least of my problems right now. Look, Ingrid, I think I’m going to have to take a test.”

Red splotches gleam against Summer’s pale cheeks, and I watch her carefully. She tugs on that scarf like it’s strangling her.

“Like an STD test?”

“Are you stupid?” I know her voice is harsher than intended, and I brush it off with a blunt laugh. “A pregnancy test.”

“Oh, for god’s sake, here we go again. You and Jackson really need to invest in some efficient birth control because this I’m pregnant freak-out that you have every month is getting boring.”

“Trust me, I know.” Her tone is suddenly tense, and she blinks back emotion. “But right now, I’m pretty sure I have the devil’s spawn growing inside of me, so I’m allowed to freak out. I’m two weeks late.”

I raise my eyebrows. She’s never been this late before. “Jackson is not the devil’s spawn. You know he loves you. But I highly doubt you’re pregnant. It’s all the stress from thinking you’re pregnant every month starting to get to you.”

“Yeah, okay, whatever.” She says, throwing her hands up in defeat. “I knew I shouldn’t have said anything. I don’t know what you’re moping about—we got a free class and you got to watch Amber singing. It’s a damn good day for Ingrid Harper right now.”

“Listen, I really did just have a headache. I don’t care about Amber’s singing. And you and Jackson were quite obviously distracted. You didn’t seem to have pregnancy on your mind during that public make-out session. Or maybe you did. Either way, I think it’s a damn good day for both of us, don’t you think?”

I know what Summer is doing. She is the ultimate denier of reality. More than that, she is aware that I will follow along with every topic change she throws at me. I get distracted easily, apparently.

Summer laughs, but the smile doesn’t quite reach her eyes. Distraction is inevitable right now, for both of us. These are not issues we should be faced with at seventeen years old. Summer’s mother is getting married soon, so that’s just one more thing to top off what I’m coining Summer’s Distressing Summer.

We stand silently as the rain pours over the sides of the flimsy tin roof. Muddy water pools right to the edges of the door. It’s mid-December. While politicians are throwing around the term climate change like it’s currency, I stare at the pools of water near this emergency exit, wondering if our town has sufficient flood safety plans.

“Come over tonight,” she murmurs. “Please, Ingrid.”

“You’re buying me McDonald’s.” I sigh in return. The truth is, I have my own things to worry about, whether Summer is pregnant or not. She’s been with Jackson for three years—that’s three years they have successfully been together and prevented pregnancy. It’s not a possibility. It just isn’t.

Summer is wild, just like her name. Her light-brown hair is constantly tangled, but her dominating blue eyes seem to distract everyone.

But today, she stares out at the grey sky and nervously chews at her lip, clutching that damn scarf so tightly that I know she’s already certain about this pregnancy. More so than I’ve ever seen before. Her blue eyes don’t seem so bright today.

“I heard Jackson was thinking about transferring to the art school. I didn’t think that boy had an artistic bone in his body.” I smirk, desperately trying to relax Summer. I don’t know what to say when she’s so shut off like this. My lie is smooth, slipping off my lips easily.

“Yeah, he does comics. I don’t know, I guess they’re funny.”

“It’s our last year of high school. Surely he’s left it a bit late?” I frown in earnest now.

What Summer doesn’t know is that I’ve known Jackson a lot longer than she has. I know that he’s been wanting to do art since he started high school, but his military-driven father would never allow it—he’s all about physical education, mathematics, and science. He used to drill that into Jackson every time I was around; none of this fairy fluff nonsense, he would say pointedly.

“Look, Ingrid, I don’t really want to talk about Jackson right now,” Summer snaps, finally releasing the titan grip on her checked scarf and running a frustrated hand through her frizzy hair.

“Do you even want me to stay tonight then?” I throw back. “I can’t deal with you when you’re being like this. Either let me in or let me go. I’ve got shit to do.”

To my complete surprise, Summer snorts as she turns to face me. “Just shut up and come and sleep over at my house. I need your brutal honesty, but I also need you to do literally everything I say right now. You know I’d do the same for you.”

I don’t bother telling her that to be in her position, I’d actually have to get closer than two feet to a guy, but I think she already knows that.

“Look, I don’t like that you called Jackson the devil before. I don’t care if he’s annoying sometimes, if you are…pregnant…it’s definitely not the devil’s spawn that could be growing inside of you. And that’s all I’m going to say about that,” I huff.

“Okay, I didn’t know you were Jackson’s number-one cheerleader, but whatever.”

“Yeah, whatever.”

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Gemma Gilmore is graduated from university with a degree in Journalism and a passion for writing and travelling. In 2016 she was awarded a highly competitive residency with the Tasmanian Writers Centre. When she’s not writing YA fiction, she’s spontaneously booking trips across the world so she can draw inspiration from new cultures and places.

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James Stryker with Deleted Scenes from his latest release The Simplicity of Being Normal (guest post, excerpts and giveaway)

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Title:  The Simplicity of Being Normal

Author: James Stryker

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: May 8, 2017

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: No Romance

Length: 87500

Genre: Contemporary, YA, transgender, transvestite, transphobia, bullying, child neglect, PTSD, mental illness, Mormonism

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✒︎

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is delighted to have James Stryker here today. The author has brought some deleted scenes for our readers to enjoy. Thank you, James!

✒︎

Deleted Scenes from The Simplicity of Being Normal by James Stryker

Sam’s depression is only briefly mentioned in the final version of The Simplicity of Being Normal; however, in original drafts I’d intended for his mental state and suicide attempt to play a more prominent role. The more I invested in this idea, I realized that it felt misplaced and was driving the book in a direction I wanted to avoid. Where Simplicity begins, Sam has moved forward from the feelings of hopeless that drove him to suicide. Placing so much emphasis on the incident seemed to counter who he’d become, and while it’s important for the reader to be aware that he’d hit a critical point previously, the level of detail wasn’t necessary.

Proof of successful “darling slaughter,” removing this concept from Simplicity allowed me to take the idea of being institutionalized and forced to take anti-psychotics into its own book (completed, and currently titled The Better Man). Being an entirely different piece, I was able to take liberties and explore directions I wouldn’t have been able to in Sam’s world.

In the deleted section below, Sam prompts his teacher, Todd Keegan to view the full school record detailing his “Emotionally Disturbed” classification.

***

“Supposedly, supposedly the law considers me a fully formed human being with the same rights as anyone else, but that’s not true,” Sam had said before.

At the time, Todd had thought that the young man had jumped the track and been about to start a rant about lowering the drinking or smoking age. Usual things teenagers bitched about while there were people starving in third-world countries. Of course, Todd’s care for malnourished Ethiopians was about equal to his concern over green apple jellybeans, but he’d decided to listen anyway. Because he didn’t consider Sam in the Snoochie pile anymore, and sometimes he even surprised him.

Anything I do can, and will be held against me. I’m not innocent until proven guilty. Not until I’m eighteen.” 

“You don’t seem the type to have spent much time behind bars,” Todd had responded. “Or what do you call it? Juvey?”

“Read my file, Mr. K.” 

So once the school hallways had cleared out, Todd left his classroom earlier than usual.

He opened the door to the dark front office. Stepping inside, he didn’t bother to turn on the lights. He just crossed to the back room and into what should have been a secure office. He flipped the light switch in the little room, five black file cabinets were illuminated.

Todd closed the door behind him to hide the light, since technically student files weren’t community property and one was supposed to gain the proper authorization to view the confidential information. He didn’t even need to jimmy open the cabinet.

If I ever have to flee the country, I’ll stop in and pick up a few dozen files.

Not for his entertainment. Full names, addresses, contact information, histories, dates of birth, social security numbers…

It’s an identity thief’s wet dream. I could retire at thirty on a private island in the subtropics. It’s a good thing I don’t like sand.

Todd took out Sam’s folder and opened the cover. It was thicker than most records – about thirty-five pages secured by the top tab embedded fasteners.

On the first page, he skimmed down to the bottom section where the letters “ED” had been typed in a field labeled “CLASSIFICATION; IF ANY.”

But he already knew Sam had bene labeled as “Emotionally Disturbed.” When he received his student lists every year he could count on at least a few names having an attached tag. But unless there was an IEP or a 405 that he was required to read and abide by, he never bothered to dig further. He didn’t care why Johnny’s hamster dying eight years ago necessitated that he have unlimited bathroom passes and needed a ruler to scratch his ass at exactly 12:05 PM. 

Under the “ATTACHED ACCOMMODATIONS” header, both the “IEP” and “SECTION 405” boxes were unchecked. But in the last, shaded blue area marked “CLASSIFICATION OTHER COMMENTS” the note had been added: “IMPORTANT. SEE FOLLOWING DOCS.” 

Todd turned back the page and read more closely.

It was a petition for emergency admission of a minor to a behavioral health center. He recognized the name of another teacher listed as the petitioner at the top section of the statement.

“I respectfully represent that Amanda Michelle Porter needs to be admitted to a Designated Receiving Facility, on an emergency basis because she is in such a mental condition as a result of mental illness as to pose a likelihood of danger to self or others. I believe she has engaged in the following dangerous acts:”

He read the box that’d been checked:

“(A). Within the past thirty (30) days, s/he has inflicted serious bodily injury on him/herself or has attempted suicide or serious self-injury and there is a likelihood the act or attempted act will recur if admission is not ordered.

Sam didn’t seem like a violent person. Todd had Julie to accept and support him. But who did Sam have? And there was only so long a person could stand alone when their kneecaps kept being broken with a baseball bat.

He flipped the page.

“Mental examination of: Amanda Michelle Porter.”

And the results:

“No past or present mental conditions, medications, or hospitalizations. Memory, speech, productiveness, coherence, insight are normal. Current mental status anxious. Potentially depressed due to parents’ divorce and father’s recent remarriage and disinterest. Mother is relatively absent and preoccupied with self-agenda. Handles inordinate amount of responsibility as a result. Grandmother recently passed. Excellent candidate for trial medication.”

Todd only leafed through intake forms, more psychiatric evaluations, and recommendations upon release. It appeared that Sam had spent two weeks in the behavioral center before being freed.

Anything I do can, and will be held against me. I’m not innocent until proven guilty. Not until I’m eighteen,” Sam had said.

Todd tucked the file back in the cabinet. He didn’t feel like he needed to read anymore.

I get it. Without you having to tell me anything else, I get it.

***

Sam had given him more details the next day. As soon as he came in for the prep period, he asked immediately if Todd had read his file.

“They pulled me out of class, you know. A policeman came into the room and escorted me out. Drove me up to the hospital in a cop car.”

“Where was your mom?”

“At work. They wouldn’t even let her see me for the first few days.” Sam added another stapled packet to a growing pile. “They talked to me, they stripped me, they booked me. In less than two hours. I spent the next twenty-four in a padded room.”

Todd hadn’t been sure what to say, so he just let the young man continue talking.

“I’ve never felt as vulnerable as when I was in that padded room. Trapped and alone with just this little window where anyone could look in on me whenever they wanted.  And there was nowhere to hide. It did get a little better once they let me out of isolation and I got my clothes back… Well, almost all my clothes.” He’d put his stapler down and twisted his chair to the side. “Do you know what the most important thing is in a mental institution, Mr. K? What it needs to exist?”

He wished a clever comment would pop into his head, but nothing came.

“Control. Absolute control.” Sam looked at the ground. “They wouldn’t give me back my shoes.”

“Why not?”

“Because I might make a break for it, even though I promised I wasn’t going to run. And I’d be unable to get as far, and be easier to catch without shoes.” He swallowed before tilting his head up again. “Are you familiar with what pinioning is?”

Todd was. But drawing a parallel between having one’s shoes taken away for two weeks and surgically removing a bird’s joint so it was permanently incapable of flight seemed dramatic.

“But do you know what is an apt comparison?” For this, Sam again went back to stapling papers, and Todd could tell it was because he was trying to control his emotions. “Using a child to test a new psychiatric drug.”

Jesus Christ.

“They held me down to take my blood and make sure I was a good candidate. And then they forced me to take it. I was one of the first children they used it on. It’s been two years. Do you know what the fucking warning label says now? It says to not administer to individuals under the age of twenty-one! It’s an anti-psychotic! You read my file! I may have been depressed because a lot of shit was happening to me, but I wasn’t psychotic!”

Synopsis

Sam has his life after graduation figured out. Until then he has to deal with being terrorized for expressing his gender identity. His pleas for help have been ignored by the principal and most of the staff, and his time is spent moving quickly between classrooms and anticipating the freedom that will come with leaving high school behind.

Teacher Todd Keegan, at first, wonders if Amanda is on drugs and if he’s underestimated her maturity. Between enabling his traumatized, dependent sister and hiding secrets of his own, Todd has no desire to waste time on a junkie teenager, but this one intrigues him. When Amanda shows up in his classroom, bleeding from a head wound, he decides to investigate further.

In order to survive senior year, Sam must convince Mr. Keegan that he’s not a junkie teenager and decide if, unlike his family and school staff, this teacher can be trusted with the truth and become his only ally.

Excerpt

The Simplicity of Being Normal
James Stryker © 2017
All Rights Reserved

“Amanda Michelle! I won’t tolerate that mouth of yours a second longer! Get out!”

“Or what? You’ll hit me? Repeat performance sixteen years later. Go ahead!”

If there was one positive thing to be said of his mother, it was that she avoided violence. While her own mother had often resorted to physical punishment, Scarlet had never put a hand on Stevie. And she’d only hit Sam once, which was how she learned her lesson.

“Amanda was maybe one. Barely walking. I can’t remember what she did, but I hit her so hard that she flew across the room. That’s when I decided to keep my temper in check. I just send them away when I’m angry now.”

Scarlet told this story often when child discipline surfaced in adult conversation. She was proud of herself. Proud that it only took one incident of hitting a toddler with enough force to knock her across the room to realize that violence wasn’t a good idea. She never understood why she received strange looks when she finished this charming anecdote of her parental prowess.

Because you should be ashamed that you struck an innocent baby. That you hurt your child, Sam would think when Scarlet retold it and people gave him the confused looks he often received when his mother opened her mouth. You should want to bury that secret instead of continuing to get off on it more than a decade later. The last thing you should feel is pride.

But sometimes he’d rather have a slap to the face than the emotional abuse Scarlet dealt. Bruises healed. The damage from seventeen years of being blamed for every negative circumstance? The constant feeling of rejection? The thousands of times when something or someone else was of more importance than him? His father. Stevie. The boyfriends. Work. The fucking Golden Girls.

I’ll never get over it. Even when I’m free of you. Even when I’m free of Amanda. Sam stared Scarlet down and waited for her to respond. You’re a cancer to me. I’ll cut you out. But I’ll always have the scar.

“Get out, Amanda! Get out!”

“Oh, I’m going.” He lowered his voice and took a step into the hall. “But so should you. That’s all I came to tell you. You should check into a hotel for a few days. It’s not sanitary. And that’s not even my opinion—it’s the disaster crew’s recommendation. You could get sick.”

“This is my house, young lady. I won’t be told what to do by you or anyone else.”

It was the most below-the-belt thing he could be called, and his skin was smoldering. Sam didn’t believe he was capable of laying a hand to anyone, especially a woman. But he needed to leave now before he said something he’d regret. Like yelling in her face at the top of his lungs. Like using every profane word he could think of until her ears bled. Like divulging his secret when she had some power over him.

“Well, I’m not staying here.”

“As long as it’s out of my sight, I don’t care where you go.” She’d turned away from him again. “But Stevie and I are staying here. I’m not paying for a hotel room because the basement is dirty.”

“You know what else lives in their own shit? Pigs. It’s too bad Gary’s condo doesn’t allow farm animals, or you could stay with him.”

Scarlet spun around and slammed the door in his face without another word.

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

James Stryker is a central-Pennslvannia author who enjoys writing speculative and literary fiction. Themes in his work focus toward diversity in the LGBTQ spectrum and the voice of underrepresented or misunderstood viewpoints. His debut novel, Assimilation, was released in 2016.

James shares a residence with a pack of pugs, who continue to disagree about the ratio of treats to writing. Despite his day job and writing projects, James is never too busy to connect with readers or other writers. He welcomes you to check out his website, follow him on social media, or drop a line to his email.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Tour Schedule

5/8 – My Fiction Nook

5/8 – Boy Meets Boy Reviews

5/9 – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

5/10 – The Novel Approach

5/11 – Love Bytes Reviews

5/12 – Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

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In Our New Release Spotlight: Tyler Buckspan by Jere’ M. Fishback (character introduction, excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Tyler Buckspan

Author: Jere’ M. Fishback

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: April 10

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: No Romance

Length: 47100

Genre: Literary Fiction, YA, Lit/General Fiction, Historical, Family-drama, Coming of age, non-explicit, gay, bi, cisgender, homophobia, in the closet, psychic/medium, sports

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Jere’ M. Fishback here today.  The author has brought Tyler Buckspan to tell our readers a little bit about himself.  Welcome, Tyler.

Meet Tyler Buckspan

I’m Tyler Buckspan, the title character in Jere’ M. Fishback’s book. I live with my grandmother and mom in the small Florida town of Cassadaga, not far from Daytona Beach. At the beginning of the book I am fifteen years old and I lack self-confidence. Wouldn’t you be if you were skinny and shy?

I’ve known I was gay since I was thirteen, but at fifteen I still have no sexual experience. When my half-brother Devin moves in with us, I become infatuated with him because he’s so handsome and masculine. I know that may sound weird, developing a crush on my half-brother, but it’s true. I can’t get him out of my mind.

Devin’s a great basketball player. He’s an accomplished auto mechanic too. And in the months following his arrival in Cassadaga he teaches me a lot about those things. It helps with my self-confidence at home and at school.

Oh, about my psychic abilities….

I guess I inherited them from my grandmother, who gives palm readings, conducts seances, and tells fortunes. I really have no interest in spirituality, but especially in bed at night I’ll have visions. Sometimes I can read people’s thoughts, which is kind of spooky.

Synopsis

Fifteen-year-old Tyler Buckspan lives with his mom and grandmother in 1960s Cassadaga, a Florida community where spiritual “mediums” ply their trade. The mediums—Tyler’s grandmother among them—read palms and tarot cards, conduct séances and speak with the dead.

Tyler’s a loner, a bookish boy with few interests, until his half-brother Devin, nineteen and a convicted arsonist, comes to live in Tyler’s home. For years, Tyler has ignored his attraction to other boys. But with Devin in the house, Tyler can’t deny his urges any longer. He falls hopelessly in love with his miscreant half-brother, and with the sport of basketball, once Devin teaches Tyler the finer points of the game.

In a time when love between men was forbidden, even criminalized, can Tyler find the love he needs from another boy? And is Devin a person to be trusted? Is he truly clairvoyant, or simply a con artist playing Tyler and others for fools? What does Devin really know about a local murder? And can Tyler trust his own psychic twinges?

Excerpt

Tyler Buckspan
Jere’ M. Fishback © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Spring water beaded on Eric Rupp’s shoulders. The drops looked like gemstones, reflecting sunlight. I stood behind Eric, waist-deep in the spring, my arms wrapped about his chest, my hips pressed to his buttocks. We had just made love on a bedsheet; it lay crumpled on the shore. June’s heat had made our sex a sweaty, sticky affair, but now the spring cooled our flesh.

I listened to water drip, to Eric’s soft breathing. My chin rested against the back of his neck, and I buried the tip of my nose in his damp hair.

Since my first visit to Eric’s home, we had made love any number of places: his house, my grandma’s, the spring, and even the backseat of the Chevrolet one afternoon when a thunderstorm raged. I’d never felt so close to someone; I had touched every part of Eric’s body.

His dad owned a tent and sleeping bags. On weekends, we’d often camp by the spring’s edge. We had constructed a fire pit, girding its walls with chunks of lime rock, and thereafter we always burned pine limbs during our evenings there, listening to sap crackle and hiss, watching sparks rise into the night sky.

“Will it always be like this?” Eric asked me one evening.

We lay side by side on our backs in his tent. The mildewed smell of the canvas made my nose crinkle. Beyond the tent flaps, a campfire smoldered. My gaze was fixed on the canvas overhead.

“I hope so,” I said.

Shifting his weight, Eric asked me, “Are you and I queers?”

I cleared my throat. “I suppose,” I said.

Eric turned toward me; he crooked an elbow and propped his head against his hand. “Does it scare you, being…different?”

“A little. We’ll have to be careful, always.”

After draping his arm across my belly, Eric laid his cheek against my sternum. “I think I’m in love with you, Tyler. Is that okay?”

My windpipe flexed, and then my eyes watered.

Holy crap.

“Of course it is,” I whispered.

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

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

Website | Facebook | Goodreads

Tour Schedule

4/10    MM Good Book Reviews

4/11    Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

4/11    Boy Meets Boy Reviews

4/12    The Novel Approach

4/12    Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents

4/13    Happily Ever Chapter

4/14    Love Bytes

4/14    Dean Frech

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When Talk is Cheap & Life Tough, Can Someone Believe in Love? Find out with Starting New by S.C. Wynne (tour/giveaway)

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Starting New by S.C. Wynne
R
iptide Publishing
Cover Art by G.D. Leigh

Release Date Aug 8, 2016
Read an Excerpt/Buy it Here

~~~

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have S.C. Wynne here today to share her latest release Starting New with our readers.  Don’t forget to leave a comment at the end to be entered in the giveaway. Welcome S.C.

~~~

Hi, I’m S.C. Wynne and I write M/M romance with a little humor and generally a healthy serving of angst. Welcome to my blog tour for Starting New!

For the next week I’ll share some posts about writing and my story Starting New. Join in the fun by leaving comments and enter to win a $30 Riptide gift card!

About Starting New

Life hasn’t been good to Francis Murphy. He’s survived twenty-one years of homelessness by hooking and taking handouts where he can find them. When the local shelter is vandalized, he’s forced to seek food at the Grace and Light Church, where he runs into the pastor’s son, Randy.

Randy Wright believes the best in others. He’s immediately drawn to Francis, even though Francis is hardened and wary. When Francis is attacked by one of his johns, Randy and his family take him in and offer him temporary work. Randy always thought he was straight, but something about Francis has him yearning for more than just friendship, and realizing he might be bisexual.

Francis is attracted to Randy too, and Randy and his parents say they’ve always believed in gay rights. But talk is cheap. What are the odds that these Christian parents will remain open-minded when it’s their own son in a relationship with another man?

About S.C. Wynne

S.C. Wynne started writing m/m in 2013 and did look back once. She wanted to say that because it seems everyone’s bio says they never looked back and, well, S.C. Wynne is all about the joke. She loves writing m/m, and her characters are usually a little jaded, funny, and ultimately redeemed through love.

S.C loves red wine, margaritas, and Seven and Sevens. Yes, apparently she is incredibly thirsty. She loves the rain and should really live in Seattle, but instead has landed in sunny, sunny, unbelievably sunny California. Writing is the best profession she could have chosen because she’s a little bit of a control freak. To sit in her pajamas all day and pound the keys of her laptop, controlling the every thought and emotion of the characters she invents, is a dream come true.

If you’d like to contact S.C. Wynne, she can be found amusing herself on Facebook at all hours of the day, or you can contact her at scwynne@dslextreme.com.

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Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Starting New, S.C. is giving away $30 in Riptide credit. Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on August 13, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

YA Whistlestop Book Spotlight: Fiery
 by Alyssa Astra

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Fiery
 by Alyssa Astra
Release Date: September 23, 2015

Goodreads Link:
Publisher: Prizm Books
Cover Artist: BSClay

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Buy the book:   Torquere Books

Blurb

Aiden Adams, a transgender teen, begins writing in a journal when he moves to a new town named Ashmore and begins “passing.” He is counting on everyone to believe that he is the every bit the male he appears to be. Writing in his journal helps him unclog his brain as he writes about the daily struggles he faces as a transgender teenager, his painful past that he is trying to forget, the new friends he is making, and the beautiful girl named Abby whom he has fallen in love with. Aiden has already come out to his open-minded mother, but will Abby be just as understanding?

When Aiden loses his journal, he worries that the secret he is trying so desperately to keep will come out. And if it does, how will everyone react? Will Abby be able to cope with everyone knowing that he is transgender? Will his new friends accept Aiden for who he really is—a boy—or will everything fall apart?

Pages or Words: 70,000 words
Categories: Fiction, Romance, *Trans, Lesbian Romance, YA

Excerpt

The beautiful eyes belong to the beautiful girl from the library. The one I notice every day for one reason or another. The one I sketched on a page in my journal. I’m such a creep.
“Hi,” she says loudly.
I take out my earbuds and turn off my radio that’s still in my pocket. “Hi,” I say back.
She’s on one knee to be eye-level with me, but she spins and sits down beside me, really close. Wait a minute…
SHE’S GOT ON THE COOLEST BOOTS!
They’re shiny black leather and they go up to her knees. The bottom of them is a three-inch platform, all clunky and sexy—I mean cool. She has black skinny jeans tucked into them.
“I just wanted to make sure you were alive,” the girl says. “Why are you all the way over here, by yourself?”
“I don’t know anyone,” I admit.
She holds out her right hand. “I’m Abby Abernathy.”
I grasp her hand. Handshakes are always awkward. Her hand is really warm or mine is really cold.
“I’m Aiden Adams.”
“Nice to meet you—now you know someone.” She smiles.
“I guess I do.”

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Meet the Author

Alyssa Astra lives in a mildly haunted house in North Carolina. She started writing stories by hand in high school. Now she types them. When she is not writing she spends her free time attempting art and listening to music.

Where to find the author:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alyssa.astra.7
Facebook Author Page
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AlyssaAstra
Instagram: https://instagram.com/starshinealys/
Deviant Art: http://starshinealys.deviantart.com/
Tumblr: https://www.tumblr.com/blog/starshinealys


Tour Dates & Stops:

Parker Williams, The Hat Party, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, The Jena Wade, Inked Rainbow Reads, BFD Book Blog, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, Happily Ever Chapter, Molly Lolly, Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents, Bending The Bookshelf, Nephylim, Carly’s Book Reviews, Hearts on Fire, Book Reviews, Rants, and Raves, V’s Reads, Three Books Over The Rainbow, Jessie G. Books, Unquietly Me

 

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Giveaway

Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: E-copy of ‘Fiery’.  Must be 15 years of age or older to enter. Link and prizes provided by the author and Pride Promotions.
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In the Author Spotlight: Mina MacLeod on Swords, Sorcery and Writing!

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spotlight on booksSSS Edges & Embers - coverSTRW Welcomes Mina MacLeod, author of

Swords, Sorcery and Sundry into the 

Author Spotlight!

 

 

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I found Mina MacLeod through her latest story, Swords, Sorcery and Sundry.  This was a wonderful story that I felt crossed not only generational lines but genres as well and I wanted to know more about this author and her plans for these characters and storyline.

Contest: Mina MacLeod graciously accepted my invite for an interview and brought along an eBook copy of Swords Sorcery and Sundry as a giveaway.  To enter to win, leave a comment and an email address where you can be reached.  Let us know if you have a favorite fantasy character(s) or duo!  Must be 18 years of age to enter.  Contest ends 7/7.

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Now on with our interview:

STRW• Why fantasy?  What about this genre appeals to you?

MM: Fantasy has always been my home base—my genre of choice. I like fantasy counterpart cultures, swords, and playing with the mechanics of magic. I’ve always preferred twists on the old ideas: male-identifying wizards, and female-identifying knights. For the longest time, fantasy doorstoppers were the only novels I would read. Eventually I did branch out, but fantasy remains the genre closest to my heart and I’m always happy to return to it.

STRW• Same goes for writing in the M/M genre?

MM:   Every time someone asks me this question, I always toy with the idea of trying to sound intellectual or profound—maybe there’s a deep, hidden meaning to why M/M intrigues me so much! But the fact is that there is no reason beyond the fact that I love it. I love men; I love homosocial and homosexual relationships with all matter of complexities. Whenever I start up a new RPG, I always create/play as a man, and romance other men if the option is at all available. This doesn’t mean I don’t love all types of women; I adore well-rounded ladies—but male/male is my jam.

STRW• All three main people are wonderful characters.   They have diverse set of talents and an equality among them that works beautifully. How did you come up with the idea of a tightly knit group that had a M/M couple and a strong female presence as well?

MM:  Two Guys & A Girl has always been a group dynamic I’ve loved. I tend to prefer the friendship aspects of the trope as opposed to the potential romantic tension. Often, one of the guys and the girl hook up—which is fine, but just as I enjoy female knights and male wizards, I like going the other way with this group. In my work, the men tend to end up romantically involved, and the girl plays the strong supporting role.

As you may have guessed, I’m a gamer—mostly console, but occasional tabletop. I like having a balanced party wherein everyone has a job and no one comes off as a hanger-on or filler. On the battlefield, the trio each have a role to play (Ashe being the fighter, Sylvain the mage, and Niklas the thief) but I wanted them to complement each other out of battle, too.

As much as I adore M/M, I love stories about BFFs even more. Friendship is very important to me; I’ve had the same best friends for over twenty years, and we wouldn’t trade each other for the world. They’re the kind of friends who just barge into your house and raid your fridge without asking, the kind who can call or pop over at any time, day or night—and you can do the same to them. You can tell them anything, and they won’t turn their back on you. Those kinds of bonds are forged over years of sticking together. You have to help your friends when they screw up just as when they’re screwed over. That’s the kind of relationship I wanted Sylvain, Ashe, and Niklas to have.

STRW• Your world building is terrific from the inns and innkeepers to the “red light” districts that vary from Duchy to Duchy.  Where did you get your inspiration for them?  Do you travel and do you work that into your stories?

MM:  Why, thank you! Funnily enough, my goal with the world-building was simplicity. Don’t get me wrong; I love a fantasy world detailed from the ground up as much as the next SFF fan, but because it’s the sort of thing done so often, I purposefully went in the opposite direction. The world of SSS is revealed to the reader in bits and pieces, some of it mundane and some of it extraordinary—like that necropolis just across the way.

I try to travel whenever time/funds permit; I spent two weeks in Japan a few years back, and the love hotels and host clubs of the country fascinate me. I’m a fan of organized structure and big cities having defined districts, like Tokyo and New York. My childhood was divided between a small town and a large, diverse city, so I love exploring juxtapositions between the two. The places our heroes visit in the sequel are a far cry from the hustle and bustle of Abelia.

STRW• I was thrilled to see that this is a series.  What do you have planned for our heroes and when can we expect the next book to be released?

MM:  The first adventure of the next book is actually the original finale of SSS. It’s going to kick off a large portion of the plot in the second book. Sylvain continues to grow and discover that he doesn’t fit in Muscari Aucheri as well as he used to; Niklas and Sylvain have to get used to the idea that they are lovers who happen to work together—and sometimes that work is very dangerous. While the first book was mostly episodic, the second focuses on a larger overarching plot. It might involve the necropolis from the first book … someone really should have done something about that thing by now.

I still haven’t finalized the outline, so I won’t give anything else away. However, I can say that I planned for a duology, so this will be the last book. The title will be Border Fires.

Border Fires is moving along very slowly at the moment. We are expecting our first child in the fall and are busy preparing for that. Between all that work and the day job, there isn’t much spare time these days. I hope to really dive into it on my much-anticipated year off.

STRW• I think SSS works equally well as a YA story or a M/M Romance.  Was that planned?

MM:  It was meticulously planned. I love both YA and M/M, and desperately wish there was more adventurous YA with queer relationships on the market. I’m acquainted with a lot of people who grew up knowing they didn’t fall into the heteronormative crowd; I grew up knowing I wasn’t heteronormative. I want more novels to which queer teens can better relate. The characters in SSS are all adults—mostly for the freedom of movement and backstory this gives them—but I wanted the story to be accessible for younger readers, as well.

STRW• What do you like best about writing?

MM:  Character/location sketches are the most fun jobs out of the entire process. And names. I spend a lot of time thinking about names. Sometimes I end up with an overall theme; in SSS’s world, all city names take their cues from flowers. Sometimes I go for camp, absurdity, or jokes that are (sadly) usually only funny to me. Ah, well. Can’t win ‘em all.

STRW•  What is the least favorite thing about writing for you?

MM:  The soul-crushing realization that you’ve written yourself into a corner, and you have to backtrack considerably to fix it. I also hate it when inspiration strikes and you’re powerless to act upon it, like in the middle of your workday. By the time you get to your desk/pen/paper, the drive has faded and you feel as though you’ve wasted an opportunity.

STRW•  Any favorite books that started you on the path as an author?

MM:  My very first piece of creative writing was a piece of Legend of Zelda fanfiction when I was six years old. It was pretty much exactly as you’re probably imagining it. So I can’t say any one book in particular ignited my passion for creative writing. I’ve always loved making up stories and immersing myself in other people’s stories. Some of my favorite books include Bridge of Birds, The Gentleman Bastard, Snow Crash, The Dresden Files, the Hurog duology, and probably a thousand others I’m forgetting. Five minutes from now, I am going to think of 50 other titles I should have included here.

Thank you so much for having me! It was a pleasure to answer your questions. And if anyone decides to give SSS a chance, thank you so much! I’m humbled and grateful.

STRW• Thank you, Mina, for stopping by.  Readers, I have the book details and blurb below.  My review can be found here.  If you love fantasy, no matter your age, you will want to pick this story up!  I highly recommend it to all no matter your age!  High adventure awaits inside!

Bio:
Mina MacLeod is a bilingual, bisexual Canadian living with her husband in Montreal. A geek at heart, she drives fast and plays with knives, balancing a career with a love for queer media. She has a thing for men who have a thing for men.

You can follow Mina MacLeod at:

Website: http://www.minamacleod.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/minamacleod
Tumblr: http://minamacleod.tumblr.com

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SSS Edges & Embers - coverBook Details:

ebook, 330 pages, m/m for YA or Adults, friendship only m/f
Published May 21st 2014 by Less Than Three Press LLC
original titleSwords, Sorcery, and Sundry
ISBN139781620043639
edition languageEnglish

Buy Links:      Less Than Three Press      Amazon         ARe

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Blurb:
Wizard Sylvain just wants to sit down and have a drink, after days of walking when a shortage of funds forced him to sell his horse. Soldier Ashe would like to enjoy her evening, and not have it ruined by trouble. Assassin Niklas wishes they had both minded their own business and not made his bad night worse.

The bar they accidentally burn down is only the beginning, and they quickly learn that if they are to survive their penchant for trouble, teamwork will get them farther than standing alone.

Amazon