Guest – Laura Lascarso – The Bravest Thing Excerpt

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Berlin

One hundred and eighty days until the end of junior year and I’m already counting down. Not the best thought to be having on the first day of school.

“Berlin, check out the tits on that one.”

Trent knocks my shoulder and points to a girl walking by where we sit on the tailgate of my pickup truck in the high school parking lot. He eyes up the freshmen, or fresh meat as he calls them, while I pretend to do the same.

I grunt in appreciation, even though breasts don’t do it for me. Neither do girls, for that matter. But my reputation at Lowry High depends on me being a normal red-blooded American male. I don’t know for sure if I’m gay or not, but judging from my browser history this summer, it’s seeming more and more likely.

“I’d hit that in a minute,” Trent says, and I grunt again like a bullfrog. Ribbit, ribbit. Trent and I have been friends since fifth grade when we started playing peewee football together. He knows pretty much everything about me. Except this. I’ve been hiding it from everyone—my team, my friends, my dad, my girlfriend Kayla.

Kayla’s breasts, according to Trent, are prime.

I scan the parking lot for Kayla’s blonde head, and the whine of a motorcycle catches my attention. I point in that direction, noticing the bike first, a new Kawasaki Ninja, black with neon green fairings, then the driver. He’s in all black—jeans, T-shirt, high-tops, even his full-face black helmet. Like a dark, sexy comic book villain.

“Check out the crotch rocket,” Trent sneers. He sounds jealous.

The guy docks his bike and takes off his helmet. I’ve never seen him before—that much I know. I’ve never seen anyone like him before.

His hair’s long on one side, black and shiny. The other side’s buzzed close to his scalp, punk rock. The way his hair falls over his face reminds me of our horses and how their forelocks will sometimes hide one eye.

The new kid hitches up his tightfitting jeans and slings his backpack, also black, over one shoulder, then struts across the parking lot like he already knows where he’s going. He’s slim-hipped but on the tall side, an inch or two shorter than me. I’m full-on checking him out when I catch myself doing it and force my eyes away.

I have to be more careful.

Trent sizes him up like he’s surveying the field, about to throw a pass, or more likely, preparing to pounce. “The fuck….” he mutters.

I glance back at the new kid and see what caught Trent’s attention. It isn’t just the haircut, which I’ve never seen on anyone in real life, or the piercings climbing up his ear like rungs on a ladder. It isn’t even the fact that he’s Asian, which is pretty rare around these parts. It’s his eyes. He’s wearing eyeliner, thick and black, like one of those Egyptian pharaohs. And he’s smoking hot. Big, dark eyes, smooth skin, and a naturally pouty mouth. There’s a pucker just above his upper lip that draws me in. My lower half starts to ache in an awful way. I should stop staring, but I can’t tear my eyes away.

The new kid glances over at us: Trent first and then me. He looks bored, but then his eyes lock with mine, and there’s something there. At least, I feel it, under my skin and racing through my veins like an itchy, full-body fever.

“Aw hell no,” Trent growls. He must be reading my mind. I’m about to soil myself, but it’s not me he’s talking about. His eyes are still on the new kid’s back.

To Trent, a boy wearing eyeliner is an unlit firecracker on the Fourth of July.

A surge of fear races through me. What is this kid thinking, cruising into the Lowry Lions’ den wearing eyeliner like it’s New York City? Lowry might only be a stone’s throw from Austin, but it’s full-on Texas when it comes to its small-town prejudices. He must know that.

Trent jumps up like he’s going to follow him and whoop his ass right then. I grab his muscled arm to steady him, same as I’ve been doing on the football field since peewee league.

“Coach wouldn’t want us starting trouble on the first day of school,” I warn him. I say us, but it’s Trent who starts the trouble. I mostly try to stay out of it.

“Fuck if I’m going to let that faggot wear makeup in my house.”

I shake my head at that. Everyone’s a faggot to Trent—the geeks, the band nerds, the arts department… basically any guy who doesn’t play sports, and even some of the ones who do. Not me, though. I’ve somehow managed to dodge his faggot detector all these years, which is a relief. And also terrifying. I live with a constant dread that Trent will one day find out my secret and turn on me.

“You have the whole school year to sort it out.” I keep my voice even-keeled. If he knew how I really felt, he’d get suspicious. “He’ll figure out soon enough what’s what.”

Trent massages his fist like it has a mind of its own. Maybe it does. As our quarterback, his hands are magic on the field. He has so much talent and potential. If only his dad were a little nicer to him, maybe Trent would lighten up and not be such an asshole all the time.

As for me, my college plans depend on a football scholarship, which means I have to keep my sexuality to myself if I want to stay on the team and in the good graces of Trent and his dad, Coach Cross, the head of our high school’s football program.

It’s a tricky situation.

I lose sight of the new kid as Kayla and Madison, Trent’s girlfriend, come along. Kayla throws her bare arms around my neck and pulls me in for a kiss. She’s a little heavy-handed with the perfume. I always smell like a candy store after hugging her. Despite her love of PDAs, we’ve only ever made it to second base. Her parents are pretty conservative, and she’s saving herself for marriage. I respect her for that. It’s also part of the reason we work as a couple. She praises me for my willingness to wait, which takes some of the pressure off me. And we have a lot in common—same friends, same Christian upbringing, same small-town values and love of football….

“I missed you so much, teddy bear,” Kayla says in between wet, smeary kisses. Her lip gloss tastes like fruit punch, and instead of enjoying our reunion, I’m trying to figure out which kind of fruit that is.

“I missed you too.” I hug her tightly. It isn’t a lie. We’re friends, after all.

Next to us, Trent and Madison grope each other like nobody’s watching. They’re on and off again, but from the looks of it, it’s back on. At least Madison keeps Trent occupied and off my back.

“We’re heading in,” I tell them, picking up my backpack and slinging it over my shoulder. I guide Kayla’s back with my free hand.

“See you in third,” Trent calls. His stare follows me across the parking lot. Sometimes when he looks at me like that, it makes me nervous, like he suspects something. But it’s probably just my guilty conscience. I hate the lying and sneaking around, but I don’t see any other option.

Kayla does most of the talking on our way in to school. I say just enough to let her know I’m listening. It’s safer that way. I don’t want to accidentally let the wrong thing slip out. I scan the hallways for the new kid, but I don’t see him anywhere.

Kayla meets up with her girlfriends at her locker, and I make my way over to the administration building, where I’m an office aide during first period. It’s one of the perks of being a football player. Our fall semesters are pretty light, and we’re allowed to miss the first three periods if we have a late practice the night before. I try not to take advantage of it too much. I know it’s unfair, but I didn’t write the rules.

The head secretary gives me the job of sorting and stapling welcome packets for the freshmen. They’ll be handed out in homeroom, which is at the end of the day.

As I sort I keep thinking about the new kid. It’s only a matter of time before Trent catches up with him, and I can’t go around protecting every so-called faggot at Lowry High School. Maybe the new kid will fall in with the drama department. Not that they can offer him much protection, but Trent tends to leave the herds alone. It’s only when one gets left behind like a wounded wildebeest that he pounces.

The new kid doesn’t seem wounded, though, just out of place. Like his tour van up and left town without him. Even without the makeup, I doubt he’d ever fit in.

“Ahem.”

I glance up and there he is. My neck burns like I’ve been out in the sun all day, and my face is probably cherry red too. My blood’s always rushing to the places it shouldn’t. It’s probably racist of me to think it, but up close he looks like an anime character, especially with the makeup and crazy hairdo. The boys in anime and manga are pretty hot, one of the reasons I’m a fan.

“May I have a student code of conduct?” he asks, all proper-like. His voice is smooth as river rocks. He sounds bored.

The rulebooks are part of the freshmen packets, so I hand him one. I finally get up the nerve to look him in the eye, but he seems distracted. He sits in one of the hard plastic chairs, elbows on his knees, thumbing through the book. His dark eyebrows draw together in the center, forming a wingspan across his forehead. The muscles in his arms are well-defined, even though he’s a little on the skinny side. When he finds what he’s looking for, he marks the page with a pink referral slip and snaps it shut. He catches me staring at him. My neck gets hot again, and I try to think up something to say.

“Awful early in the school year to be getting a referral,” I tell him. He must have gotten it in the hallway before class even started.

“Are you a hall monitor?” he asks.

The hall monitors at Lowry are teachers, not students. Then I realize he’s probably making fun of me. His lip curls up on one side, drawing my attention to his mouth, and I forget what we were even talking about.

“Mr. Hayashi?” Mrs. Potts calls from her office. She’s the juniors’ guidance counselor, which means we’re the same year. He strolls over to her office, casual and cool. He wears those skinny jeans well, kind of low on his hips. Broad shoulders, cute round butt. He must play sports—soccer or maybe track. Black suits him, I think, but he’d probably look good in whatever he wore.

He doesn’t close the door behind him, so I move in a little closer. I’m not a gossip, but I do pick up some helpful tidbits from working in the front office. It’s not really eavesdropping. I just want to know more about this kid. Where’d he come from? What’s he doing here? Is he going to stay? I hope so. But maybe he’s not even gay. Maybe he just wears eyeliner as part of his getup. Like a rock star or a pirate. Maybe I’m not even gay.

The ache from down below disagrees.

His voice is too low for me to hear. Mrs. Potts is easier to make out. I mess with the copier just outside her office to hear them better. Whatever he did to get a referral must have been small potatoes. Mrs. Potts is using her nice voice.

“I don’t understand… I suppose you didn’t….”

I edge in closer.

“Lowry can be a fresh start for you, Mr. Hayashi. Your parents and I both want you to succeed here. You wouldn’t want to give other students the wrong impression.”

“What impression is that?” he asks in a deadened tone.

Mrs. Potts is quiet for a moment. “All I’m saying is you might want to try a little harder to blend in, for your own sake.”

Yes, Mrs. Potts, I want to say. Good advice.

“With all due respect,” he says, “I don’t want to blend in. I checked the dress code and there’s no rule against eyeliner. If there’s nothing else, I’d like to go to class.”

He got a referral for breaking the dress code? What teacher would make a big deal about eyeliner? Then I know who it was: Trent’s dad, Coach Cross.

I hear the squeak of Mrs. Potts rising from her chair and know she’s making her way to the front of the desk to sit on the edge and get real with him. This is my third semester as an office aide. I know Mrs. Potts’s go-to play.

“Hiroku,” she says, a little softer this time. “I know you’ve had a difficult summer. Your mother told me a bit about all you’ve been through. Your family moved to Lowry so you could start over. I think you owe it to them to give it a try, don’t you?”

Hiroku Hayashi. I try saying his name under my breath; it makes my mouth feel clumsy. It’s strange, just like everything else about him. And kind of hot too. Mrs. Potts made it seem like he got into trouble at his old school. Maybe he started a fire or brought a weapon to school. He seems like a deviant in that way. Maybe he got expelled and had to move to a new county.

I hear shuffling in the room and jump back to my post at the counter just as Hiroku comes strolling out of the office. He glances over like he knows I’ve been listening. But if he wants to survive Lowry High, he needs to try fitting in. I should know. I’m a pro at it.

“Mrs. Potts is right,” I tell him. “Your look won’t work here.”

He stops and turns a little, slides up to the counter so we’re facing each other. He tilts his head and looks at me from under his hair, smirks like I made a joke. Maybe he knifed someone at his old school. He looks kind of insane.

“How about you, cowboy?” he says in a deep, husky voice that goes straight to my balls. “Is that look working for you?” My own throat goes dry as the desert as his eyes rake over me, from my waist to my chest and shoulders, finally my eyes. No guy has ever looked at me like that before. My junk starts throbbing again and I’m glad the counter’s between us, giving me some cover. Something about this kid puts me in a tailspin.

He purses his lips and raises one eyebrow. “Well, maybe it is working. For me, at least.” The smirk is still on his face when he leaves the office. He has a light step, like a cat. I didn’t hear him come in, and I don’t hear him leave. I take a deep breath and tell my body to calm the hell down.

He’s a dude. I shouldn’t want him like that.

But I do.

Blurb

BravestThing[The]FS_v1High school junior Berlin Webber is about to reap the fruits of his hard work and land a football scholarship—if he can keep his sexuality a secret from his best friend, Trent, and their homophobic coach. Then Hiroku Hayashi swerves into the high school parking lot on his tricked-out motorcycle like some sexy comic book villain, and Berlin knows he doesn’t stand a chance.

Hiroku is fleeing his sophisticated urban scene to recover from drug addiction and an abusive relationship when he arrives in Berlin’s small Texas ranch town. Initially sarcastic and aloof, Hiroku finds in Berlin a steady, supportive friend who soon becomes more. As Hiroku and Berlin’s romance blossoms, they take greater risks to be together. But when a horrific act of violence tears them apart, they both must look bigotry in the face. While Berlin has always turned to his faith for strength, Hiroku dives into increasingly dangerous ways of coping, pushing them in opposite directions just when they need each other most.

Two very different young men search for the bravery to be true to themselves, the courage to heal, and the strength to go on when things seem darkest. But is it enough to bring them back together?
Find it here: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

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About the Author

HeadshotWebFinalLaura Lascarso strives to inspire more questions than answers in her fiction and believes in the power of stories to heal and transform a society. She lives in North Florida with her darling husband, two children, and a menagerie of animals. Her debut novel, Counting Backwards (Simon & Schuster 2012) won the Florida Book Award gold medal for young adult literature.

For social critiques, writer puns, and Parks and Rec gifs, follow her on Twitter @lauralascarso

Guest: RJ Jones – Length of a story – what’s preferable?

Length of a story – what’s preferable?

 Seasons KU

If you’ve read some of my work you’ll know that I have everything from short stories (10k words), novella’s (35k) and full-length novels (60+k)

My favourite story that I’ve written so far is 34k long. I would have liked it to be longer but the story ended where it needed to. If I added a scene just to bulk it up more, or added more sex, it would have detracted from the story and looked out of place.

Why am I telling you this? A conversation I had with a fellow author came back to me and it’s been playing in my head. I have no idea why. This person said, “I’ll never write anything less than 60k” like it was something to be ashamed off. And I’m like, what?

The reasoning was sales. Novels sell more than short stories or novellas. This is true for the most part. (there’s a lot I could say here, but I will refrain. *mumbles about reasons for writing in the first place*)

People like a good read with character depth and a well-paced plot. However, I don’t see why you can’t get this in a novella length story. (Short stories are a little different but can be just as satisfying) If you’re adding scenes just to make the ‘magical 60k’, what’s the point if it’s distracting from the storyline? Some of my favourite reads have been novellas but they’ve packed the punch needed to make it complete.

On the opposite end of the scale, how long is too long? Do you like epics? I have a book on my kindle that has been sitting there for a couple of years now. The only reason why I haven’t started reading it yet is because it’s about 400 pages. (about 120k) I just don’t have the mental capacity to get into something that’s so long. Another thing that puts me off the really lengthy books is repetition. I’ve tried some, and some were great, but others kept going around in circles. Same scene played on repeat. (see above about adding scenes that aren’t needed) They can be tiresome and a chore to read.

So as long as it’s a good story, I’m happy to read any length.

What’s your favourite length of story? Do you like the longer ones, or will a well-written novella suffice? Does it depend on the author or your mood? Or how much time you have to spare? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for having me J

Blurb:

 A sea change could be just what the doctor ordered.

As the sun sets 600Doctor Scott Penney used to be a Paediatric Oncologist—until he burned out. Watching children suffer and die took its toll on his mental health. To cope, he used anonymous sex as an emotional crutch, thinking it was better than hitting the bottle. But that inevitably destroyed his relationship with the man he loved.

With his tail between his legs and a year’s worth of celibacy under his belt, Scott accepts a position as an Accident and Emergency consultant, leaving his career in oncology and London behind.

Ben Jenkins is a paediatric nurse who loves his seaside city, his job, and his faithful old Labrador, Happy. When he meets the new doctor, Ben falls for Scott’s kind-yet-reserved personality—not to mention his good looks. Scott is great with the children who come through the hospital, but Ben senses there’s more to Scott than meets the eye.

Scott tries to resist Ben’s sunny charm—Scott’s not boyfriend material, after all—but it’s impossible not to fall in love with the sad looking old dog and his charming owner. As Scott and Ben get closer and the weather heats up, tragedy strikes and Ben is left wondering how much of Scott’s history he actually knows.

For them to move forward, Ben must show Scott that no matter what happened in the past, a beautiful day can always start after the sun sets.

**This can be read as a standalone**

Don’t forget to check out the first two stories, As the Leaves Fall, and As the Ice Melts. All can be read as standalones and are available on KU.

Find it on Goodreads and Amazon!

 

Guest: Home Before Sundown by Tinnean

Home_Before_Sundown_400

Blurb:

George Pettigrew and his papa must leave the California rancho they’d lived on since his birth. They end up in New York City, where Papa marries and George gets a new beloved mama. George also meets Frank and Bart who become fast friends, and in Bart’s case, even more.

The start of the Civil War leaves George the man of the family, but although he’s found a job, it’s difficult to pay the ever-increasing rent. Then Papa dies at Appomattox and Mama falls ill.

After Mama dies, her father takes George’s siblings. When George learns his younger sister is being abused, he rescues the three children. But will dressing his sisters as boys and himself as a woman be enough of a disguise to keep them safe until they can reach the valley he’s dreamed of? Will Bart leave behind his own family and go with the man he loves?

Buyit from JMS Books!

Exclusive Excerpt

George knew a number of boys at the academy he attended, boys he’d say hello to or smile at, but none that he was interested in pursuing a friendship with.

He’d talked to Papa about it.

They’re acquaintances, Georgie, and that’s fine. Don’t let it worry you.”

But—”

Papa ruffled George’s hair. “Your Uncle Guillermo was the first man I liked enough to call friend, and I was…” His gaze became unfocused as he considered it. “I was twenty-five when we first met. It nearly tore out my heart when he died.” He looked almost as sad as when he thought about Mama—George’s first mama.

Are you sorry you became friends with him?”

No. I wouldn’t have missed that for the world. He was the sort of man you wanted at your back when you knew trouble was brewing. The sort of man I want you to grow up to become.” Papa smiled. “So you’ve got plenty of time to find a friend or two.”

Because Papa had said so, George was content to wait.

And Papa was always right, because now George had two friends, Frank Thompson and Bart Hall.

George liked Frank. They worked together grooming the horses, and George helped Frank with his riding lessons. Frank helped him with his schoolwork, because while Papa was a smart man and knew many things, he wasn’t very good at teaching book learning to George.

You’re not stupid, George,” Frank told him. “You can do this.” And he set to work teaching George how to do his sums.

They were close friends.

But George was fascinated by Bart, Mrs. Hall’s oldest son, who worked as a carpenter’s apprentice.

He first met Bart when he came around the side of the cottage while George was in the paddock exercising Nightfall.

Papa and Mr. Thompson had set up a schedule for Frank to come and help with the horses. Today wasn’t one of the days he’d come over… he’d had to go to the lawyer’s office, where he clerked.

They had three horses now, and in another five months, the number would rise to four. The beautiful palomino mare was in foal. Mama couldn’t ride, mostly because she was expecting a baby too, but that was okay. Papa worked with Bella Dama, calming her down, since not only had her last owner taken a whip to her, but so had the one before that, according to the old scars on her flanks.

That day, George had only put her through mild exercises; horses were big animals, but they could abort easily. She’d been out in the paddock earlier with Sunrise, but now she was resting in her box stall.

George had set up a few low jumps, and he rode Nightfall in a circle around the paddock before setting him at the first jump. The gelding took it easily and went on to the second jump and then the third. When they finished the course, George turned Nightfall, and that was when he saw the tall, broad-shouldered boy standing there.

For a second he couldn’t catch his breath. Hair so dark a brown it appeared black was tied back at the nape of his neck. His eyes were also a dark brown. A toolbox hung from his shoulder.

Can…” George swallowed. “Can I help you?”

I’m Bart Hall. I come by to walk my Ma home. I was going to the servants’ door, but then I saw you and I had to watch.” He said the last words almost defiantly.

We don’t have a servants’ door, Bart Hall. Hello, I’m George Pettigrew.”

Bart’s brows met above his nose in a scowl. George figured he was about fourteen, three years older than him, but that expression made him seem older. Bart opened his mouth, and George smiled and wondered what he was going to say.

Bart’s scowl was replaced with a reluctant smile of his own, and George felt his heart give an unexpected thump. “Hello, George. Sorry, it’s been a long day, and I get snappy when I’m hungry.”

Did he think what he’d said was snappy? George wanted to grin at him, but he wasn’t sure how Bart would take it, so he didn’t. But he couldn’t resist a saucy smile

Go on into the kitchen. Your mama’s putting the finishing touches on dinner. You can have some.”

No, I can’t. I’m just a carpenter.”

You’re a carpenter—that’s an honest profession, and there’s no just about it. I have to put Nightfall up. Go in, and I’ll join you in a minute. The side door opens into the kitchen.” George started to lean down to open the gate, but Bart bounded forward and unlatched it for him. “Thanks.” George nodded at Bart and nudged Nightfall through. “Close it, please?” He felt Bart’s gaze on him as he rode into the stable, and a quick glance over his shoulder proved him right. He sent a small salute Bart’s way, and Bart grinned at him and saluted back.

George kicked free of the stirrups, swung his leg over Nightfall’s neck, and slid to the stable floor. “What did you think of him?” he asked the gelding as he removed the saddle. “I’ve never seen anyone like him before.”

He couldn’t understand what was happening. Papa had told him about wet dreams, and he hadn’t panicked the next time his prick had grown hard and he’d climaxed, shooting white liquid over his groin and chest. Not that it happened frequently, since Papa had also told him about masturbating, an act George had taken to with relish.

But this was the first time his prick had hardened just from looking at another person.

He worried his lower lip. He’d heard the boys at the academy making fun of one of the smaller students. They’d called him nellie and even tried to beat him up. George wouldn’t have stood for that—Papa had raised him better. Papa had also taught him some tricks for when you were fighting more than one opponent, but the boy’s papa must have taught him the same tricks, because while the boy had a torn shirt and a knot on his cheekbone, the bigger boys had black eyes and bloody noses, and they’d run away crying.

Nice work,” George had said, and the kid grinned at him and flinched when the knot pulled.

I’m small, but I’m tough.” He fingered the tear in his shirt. “Pa’s not going to be happy about this.”

George wanted to ask the kid why they’d called him Nellie, obviously a girl’s name, but he was afraid he’d come across as ignorant if he did, so he didn’t. He decided to wait until he had a chance to talk to Papa.

And that had been an eye-opening conversation.

I’m glad you were willing to stick up for that boy,” Papa had said.

Why did they call him nellie?”

They were bullies, and they did that to make themselves feel big. Men do that also. When you’re faced with a situation like that, you do whatever it takes to let them know you won’t put up with it.”

Yes, but I still don’t understand…”

Papa sighed. “You know how a man and a woman sleep in the same bed to make a baby? Well, there are some men who like to sleep in the same bed with other men.”

Oh. I understand.” But he really didn’t. A man couldn’t make a baby with another man.

Papa looked relieved, so George let the subject drop.

Only now, George thought he did understand.

About the Author

Tinnean has been writing since the 3rd grade, where she was inspired to try her hand at epic poetry. Fortunately, that epic poem didn’t survive the passage of time; however, her love of writing not only survived but thrived, and in high school she became a member of the magazine staff, where she contributed a number of stories.

It was with the advent of the family’s second computer – the first intimidated everyone – that her writing took off, enhanced in part by fanfiction, but mostly by the wonder that is copy and paste.

 While involved in fandom, she was nominated for both Rerun and Light My Fire Awards. Now she concentrates on her original characters and has been published by Nazca Plains, Dreamspinner, JMS Books, and Wilde City, as well as being self-published. Recent novels have received honorable mention in the 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 Rainbow Awards, and two of the 2014 submissions were finalists.

A New Yorker at heart, she resides in SW Florida with her husband, two computers, and a Surface 3 named Baby Jane.

Ernest Hemingway’s words reflect Tinnean’s devotion to her craft: Once writing has become your major vice and greatest pleasure, only death can stop it.

She can be contacted at:

Email: tinneantoo@gmail.com

Live Journal: http://tinnean.livejournal.com/

Twitter: @tinneantoo

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Tinnean

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Tinnean/e/B004QS65KQ/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1391469662&sr=1-2-ent

Books can be found at:

Dreamspinner: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/index.php?cPath=55_386

JMS Books: http://www.jms-books.com/index.php?main_page=advanced_search_result&search_in_description=1&keyword=tinnean&x=25&y=10

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=tinnean

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/tinnean?Nrpp=20&page=2

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/search?Query=tinnean

If you’d like to sample her earlier works, they can be found at http://www.angelfire.com/fl5/tinnssinns/Welcome1.html

GUEST: Dating in Retrospect by Lila Leigh Hunter

DatingInRetrospectFS_v1.jpg

Title: Dating in Retrospect (States of Love)

Author: Lila Leigh Hunter

Cover Artist: L.C. Chase

Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press

Release Date: February 15, 2017

Category: Romance

Genre: Contemporary

Sex Content: Explicit

Pairing: MM

Orientation: Bisexual

Identity: Cisgender

Length: Novella

  Words: 38,800

  Pages: 101

 

Book Blurb

Giving the commencement speech at his alma mater doesn’t fit Clay Keller’s meticulous schedule. As Chief Executive Officer of Travel Mogul—the largest travel connoisseur company on the West Coast—he has no time to get back in touch with his country roots. He left fifteen years ago without a second look, but a medical scare makes him change his mind about the speech and brings him face-to-face with his only regret.

Time always moves slower in Southeastern Iowa, and Aaron Grant loves it. He’s added solar farms to the Grant Lanes portfolio and has been teaching at the local university for a decade. The last thing he needs is to have his tenure application compromised by the return of his ex-boyfriend. If he had known who the commencement speaker would be, he would never have volunteered to be the administration liaison.

A proposal—to date for a year—will help them discover that time changes a person, even when everything else stays the same.

Buy Links

 Dreamspinner | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Nook | Kobo

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(February 9th to February 28th – Winner to be contacted March 1st)

Dating in Retrospect Giveaway

 

Excerpt

©2017 Lila Leigh Hunter

All Rights Reserved

Clay—May ’15

Back to the future and all of that were Clay’s first thoughts as he stepped out of the car. The campus looked the same—Midwest Americana at its best. Redbrick buildings and perfectly pruned trees surrounded him, but as if the last fifteen years hadn’t happened, Clay’s world narrowed to the man waiting at the top of the portico stairs. The only thing time had changed? Them.

“Here’s your receipt, Mr. Keller,” the valet said, interrupting Clay’s musings. He didn’t remember being as young as the valet. Mr. Keller was his father, but Clay didn’t feel like correcting the man’s error.

“Thank you.”

“Not a problem. The man in the light gray suit is Professor Grant. He will be your escort today.”

“Perfect,” Clay responded, smiling at the mention of having an escort at his service, especially one whose body he knew well. With a nod and a tip, Clay left the valet behind, turning his attention back to Professor Grant. Professor. Aaron had done it after all. Clay had never doubted it, even after Aaron decided to stay and work at his family’s farm instead of moving with him to LA. Now he needed to find out if he had a chance with Aaron. At least having him there, waiting for him, had to be a good sign. Today was his lucky day indeed. True, he hadn’t expected to see Aaron so soon. He had planned to stop by the farm after the commencement, but he was ready either way. Life had been rough lately, but having the opportunity to see Aaron again was worth coming back to the middle of Nowhere, Iowa.

He walked casually toward the man he’d left behind many summers ago—a man standing like a prizefighter, waiting for Clay to reach him. With only a couple of feet between them, Clay’s step faltered. Aaron didn’t seem happy to see him, more like he was ready to bolt before Clay got to him. Shaking his head and keeping his eyes on his prey, he closed the distance and extended his hand in greeting.

“Professor Grant, I believe you’re expecting me?” He hoped his smile would ease Aaron’s frown.

“That I am, Mr. Keller. As the university liaison, it is my pleasure to welcome you back to your alma mater and to convey the president’s and the board of trustees’ deepest regards.”

“How long did it take you to memorize that spiel? As far as I remember, you weren’t fond of formalities.” Neither of them let go of the other’s hand. Aaron’s touch, familiar and foreign, branded him in seconds.

“Ass.”

Aaron didn’t expect the hug that followed. As soon as their bodies touched, Aaron tensed, but Clay held him tighter.

“Relax, sunshine. It’s been a while.” Clay let Aaron go, but not before he rubbed his trimmed beard against Aaron’s clean-shaven face as he moved back.

Meet the Author

Lila Leigh Hunter is the pen name of a Puerto Rican author with a hyphenated surname. Born and raised on the island, Lila grew up making up stories her siblings pretended to like. But no matter what they say, as the youngest of six, she’s still their mom’s favorite. According to the dusty diplomas on her wall, she’s an architectural designer living in Southern Texas with her husband and four military brats.

She spends most of her free time writing homoerotic romances about middle-aged men finding happiness and the rest hiding from pesky house chores. When outside of her cave, she likes to observe people and try to guess their stories. Sometimes she wishes the voices in her head were real; going out with the boys in her books sounds like a plan made in heaven.

Social Media

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/ctHk41

Author’s Page: http://www.facebook.com/HunterRomances

Lila’s Cabana on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/groups/LilasBooks/

Facebook Profile: https://www.facebook.com/LilaLeighHunter

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Hunter_Romances

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lila_leigh/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/Hunter_Romances/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/HunterRomances

Website: http://lilaleighhunter.wordpress.com

Email: llhunter.romance@gmail.com

Guest: Heloise West – Ardent

COVER IDEAS 3

Ardent from Manifold Press

Historical M/M Romantic Suspense

Renaissance Florence

In the village of Torrenta, master painter Morello has created a color that mimics the most expensive pigment of all, the crimson red. Master Zeno, from strife-ridden Medici Florence, tells him the color gives him a competitive advantage – but Morello must be careful. Fraud is ever-present in the dye and pigment markets.

As they work together in Torrenta, Morello falls hard for Zeno’s assistant, Benedetto Tagliaferro, a young man of uncommon beauty and intelligence. Benedetto is still fixed on his old lover, the master painter Leo Guisculo, and cannot return Morello’s affections.

But when Leo dies in a terrible accident, it’s to Morello that Zeno and Benedetto turn for help. And Morello soon finds that in Florence, every surface hides layers of intrigue.

75,600 words

Publication February 1, 2017

Preorder links: Barnes and Noble | Manifold Press | Kobo

 

Excerpt:

The village of Torrenta, Tuscany, June 1475

Morello

The sun thrust warm fingers into the ancient Tuscan earth. The gray-green leaves of the olive trees shimmered, and the woods beyond beckoned Morello to abandon the painters’ workshop for their cool refuge.

In the growing heat the apprentices inside settled into an afternoon nap, curled on benches in dark corners behind him. The harsh fumes of linseed oil and varnish had irritated Morello all morning, and he was unable to sleep in the miasma. Perhaps before their visitors from Florence arrived, he might escape the heat. A long tramp in the woods pulled at his bones.

He reached for the walking stick behind the door, but a horse’s whinny stopped him, and a man’s voice called out. When no one stirred within to answer, he cursed the sleepers and stomped back through the shop, thwarted. In the lane in front of the workshop, two men removed packs from their horses.

“Good day, Master Zeno!” From the doorway, Morello called to the older of the two. “You made good time!”

At the sound of Morello’s voice, the apprentices roused themselves from sleep and peered around him.

The gray-haired master raised his hand and smiled. “Good day, Master Morello.”

Master Zeno’s companion, a tall young man with flowing golden hair, took the older man’s pack for him and shouldered the straps of both.

“Take their horses to the stable and fetch Master Franco,” Morello ordered the apprentices, and they hurried to obey.

Master Zeno’s journeyman brushed dust from the sleeve of his sweat-stained linen shirt, slapped more dust from his long thighs, and ran a forearm across his brow. His smile was uncertain as his glance met Morello’s.

Donato stood at the window yawning and scratching his stomach. He shaded his eyes for a better look into the misty glare of the afternoon. “Who’s the beauty with the master?”

Donato’s fellow journeyman Primo jumped to his feet and crowded against Morello in the doorway. “Can it be? He’s brought Tagliaferro?”

Donato groaned. “The man you’ve been mooning about since you last went to Florence, Primo? You’ve only just finally shut up about him.”

Morello ignored them. His irritation over his interrupted walk had vanished. Primo’s garlic- and onion-laden breath on his neck registered only remotely. He gazed out at the man from Florence, who, in Morello’s memory, had once been a long-legged boy with a head of yellow fluff too big for his skinny body. Morello stepped out into the sunlight that appeared to pour itself over the grown man, and stretched out his hand in greeting. Maintaining frank eye contact, Benedetto Tagliaferro adjusted the packs and took his hand.

When flesh met flesh, Morello stumbled – at least, his heart did. As if the wind from the beating wings of the love-inspiring putti he had painted just that morning pushed them toward each other.

“Do you remember me?” Benedetto asked with the shadow of that boy’s grin.

 

About Heloise West:

Heloise West, when not hunched over the keyboard plotting love and mayhem, dreams about moving to a villa in Tuscany. She loves history, mysteries, and romance of all flavors. She travels and gardens with her partner of thirteen years, and their home overflows with books, cats, art, and red wine.

Where to find Heloise:

Blog | Website | Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter | Email | Tumblr | GoodReads

Wish You Were Here by Asta Idonea – Blog Tour

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Summer passed England by that year, as if it shared his family’s grief and refused to intrude upon such solemn days with unwanted sunshine. A cool, wet July turned into a blustery August, and now a dismal September loomed. From the window of their rented cottage, there was nothing but gray skies as far as the eye could see. The fields spread out in a patchwork of shortbread and moss. Plentiful rain meant the grass stood tall, but the lack of light filtering through thick, heavy clouds dulled its various shades of green. And this bleak scene was supposed to make everything better?

Oakley sighed and turned to the sink. He poured himself a glass of water from a spluttering, corroded tap and took a sip. Despite the dubious appearance of the fittings, the water was clean, tasteless, and refreshing. He supposed he should at least be thankful for that. It was likely to be the only pleasant thing this vacation would provide.


wishyouwereherefsWish You Were Here

Asta Idonea

Dreamspinner Press

8 February 2017

Novella/Contemporary/Paranormal

Heat Rating: 1

The death of Oakley’s sister has left his family broken and buried beneath their grief. In an attempt to get out from underneath their pain, they rent an isolated cottage in the Cotswolds. For Oakley, it’s an exercise in futility. He doesn’t see much hope for things to get back to the way they used to be, and he’s bored and restless as he waits out the time until he can return to the city and university. All of that changes when he meets local boy Bobby, and the connection between them is instant. Within a few days, Oakley is ready to walk away from everything to stay with Bobby. However, Bobby has problems of his own, and they might be more than the budding romance can survive. But they might also give Oakley a new perspective on his own situation.

SoundCloud Audio Excerpt | YouTube Audio Excerpt | Tablo Excerpt | Download Media Sheet

Find it on:

Dreamspinner Press | Amazon USAmazon UK

Author Bio & Links

author-pic-2015Asta Idonea (aka Nicki J Markus) was born in England but now lives in Adelaide, South Australia. She has loved both reading and writing from a young age and is also a keen linguist, having studied several foreign languages.

Asta launched her writing career in 2011 and divides her efforts not only between MM and mainstream works but also between traditional and indie publishing. Her works span the genres, from paranormal to historical and from contemporary to fantasy. It just depends what story and which characters spring into her mind!

As a day job, Asta works as a freelance editor and proofreader, and in her spare time she enjoys music, theatre, cinema, photography, and sketching. She also loves history, folklore and mythology, pen-palling, and travel, all of which have provided plenty of inspiration for her writing.

Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Google+ | Goodreads | LinkedIn | Amazon US| Amazon UK

Giveaway:

Prize: 1 x e-copy of my MM Sci-Fi novella Fire Up My Heart

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Monday Meets, Special Edition: Charley Descoteaux

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Welcome Charley Descoteaux for a special edition of Monday Meets (Monday was full and she needed a spot between September 12 and 19 <g>).

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The release date for Safe House, Buchanan House: Book Four, is coming soon! To celebrate, Dreamspinner has created a bundle sale—Pre-order Safe House and get Tiny House (Buchanan House: Book Three) for $0.99! The sale runs September 12 until release day—September 19!

This is a true series so to get the most out of it I recommend to read the books in order. With that in mind I’ve stocked a Rafflecopter with two chances to win the first book in the series, Buchanan House. Visit any stop on my tour between September 12th and October 1st to enter!

 

SafeHouseFS_v1Safe House (Buchanan House: Book Four) by Charley Descoteaux

It’s never too late for a new beginning…

Kyle Shimoda is an asshole magnet, has been for as long as he can remember. At forty-seven, he doesn’t see much chance for improving his luck in love. His friends who run Buchanan House, a gay retreat on the central Oregon coast, know he wants to find “someone nice” to settle down with, and they set him up with Officer Brandon Smith. Kyle has a turbulent history with law enforcement, but he can’t deny his attraction to the buff cop.

Brandon has been a police officer in Lincoln City almost since the day he graduated from high school over thirty years ago. He’s cultivated the facade of a serious, disciplined law enforcement officer, but beneath his overdeveloped chest beats the soft heart of a drama queen. A cancer scare shifts Bran’s focus from finding a serious relationship to having as much sex as he can—putting his goals squarely at odds with Kyle’s. If he can’t find the courage to be honest about his feelings for Kyle, the happiness they’ve both been searching for could slip through their fingers.

 

Read Chapter One at the Dreamspinner store to meet Kyle. Meet Brandon in the excerpt below.

 

Chapter Two

Brandon barely paid attention as he drove between the cemetery and the apartment he shared with two roommates. He’d hoped to find a voice mail from the doctor after the funeral, but no such luck. He did find one saying the new guy, Dylan, had called in sick, and Brandon was expected at work within the hour. He would have been happier to stay at the cemetery and talk with Paulie a little longer. And Kyle. Bran had met Kyle before, but they hadn’t spoken. He had noticed then how handsome Kyle was, and he was even more striking with his hair longer, framing his high cheekbones and full, sensuous mouth. His silky black hair looked so touchable.

This isn’t getting me to work any faster.

At least work will be a distraction.

He hurried home and changed into his uniform. His quick spot check in the bathroom mirror turned into a lingering appraisal. Brandon ran an open hand over his chest, not to smooth the impeccable fabric of his uniform shirt, but to reassure himself that nothing had changed. He grimaced at his reflection, thinking a little less gray and a little more brown in his hair might be a nice change.

Brandon shivered as he recalled the MRI he’d endured three days prior, which had revealed a suspicious lump in his chest. Forty-seven minutes in a tiny tube while the machine hummed and took pictures of his breast and lymph tissue. Just thinking about the way it had felt to lie there made him shiver—it was worse than the needle biopsy he’d had the following day. With every inhale his shoulders had brushed the walls of the tube on both sides, and less than halfway through he’d had to talk himself out of fleeing. He wasn’t a tall man—something that had bothered him throughout his life—but until that day he had taken pride in his body, in the bulk he’d cultivated without sacrificing speed or agility.

During that forty-seven minutes, he would have been happy to trade his broad shoulders for a smaller frame.

Since I’m making empty wishes, I might as well make one for a better-looking face. A face that could attract a handsome young guy like Kyle instead of scaring him half to death.

Bran’s stomach roiled at his own thoughts, and he resolved to not even think the word death again until—unless—he had to. He was tempted to forgo shaving the sandy brown stubble from his face but fell back on the habit, hoping for the comfort a routine could provide, and reached for his electric razor.

Everything seemed to be happening so fast. Less than a week ago he’d gone in for his yearly physical, and now he was waiting for the call that would tell him whether he needed to make another appointment for that week or next year. In the interim he’d been squeezed into a tube and had a biopsy. And relived the worst time in his life over and over, the time when he’d learned about his father’s diagnosis.

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Pre-0rder Safe House at the Dreamspinner store and get Tiny House for $0.99! Sept. 12-19: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/safe-house-by-charley-descoteaux-7536-b

 

Enter Sept 12 – Oct 1!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Three winners! Prizes: One signed paperback of Safe House (US Only); one ebook copy of book one of the series, Buchanan House; one backlist book (any ebook except Safe House)

 

BIO

Charley Descoteaux has always heard voices. She was relieved to learn they were fictional characters, and started writing when they insisted daydreaming just wasn’t good enough. In exchange, they’ve agreed to let her sleep once in a while. Charley grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area during a drought, and found her true home in the soggy Pacific Northwest. She has survived earthquakes, tornadoes, and floods, but couldn’t make it through one day without stories.

 

Rattle Charley’s cages:

Blog: http://cdescoteauxwrites.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/charley.descoteaux.3
Dreamspinner Author Page: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/index.php?cPath=879
Twitter: https://twitter.com/CharleyDescote
Goodreads: http://tinyurl.com/aqe7g7r
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/charleydescote/

 

Series: Buchanan House
Book Number: 4
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: September 19, 2016
Pages: 200
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase